writing

NaNo Update

My NaNo is off to a good start!

I figured I would give people the opportunity to follow along with me if you would like.?.?

So here is a way to keep track of my total word count with a handy bar graph showing how many words I have out of 50,000.

 

And it is even possible to keep up with my daily writing goals as well. Aka don’t invite me to hang out when I am having a red or orange or yellow day.

So follow along with me if you would like to see where this goes. (I know I would sure like to.)

 

And finally, an excerpt of my latest scene (subject to change, of course, during my edits):

So she ran straight ahead, willing her body to not give away her thoughts and she pumped her arms and ran faster and faster towards the figure with the sword raised, ready to attack, and then at the last moment, she hooked her arm around a tree and flung her body in a new direction, willing her feet to stay planted beneath her and sprinted onwards, farther from her meeting place then she would like to be, but if she survived, then she could circle back and remain alive.

Her proud moment did not last too long, however, because she heard no commotion that she would have left behind. All she heard was, well, nothing.

No sword fight.

No heavy breathing.

No shouts.

No bodies fall to the floor.

Nothing.

And that left her mind racing in a hundred different directions.

She was thinking too much that she missed the figure standing ahead of her.

Are you wondering what is going to happen next? Me too. Join the club.

Being a pantser is loads of fun.

Back to writing.

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travel, writing

Travel is Good for the Soul

Sadly, all good things must come to a close.

But I feel that my trip was exactly the soul-searching opportunity that I needed. Not to be totally dramatic, but I feel like I have a direction in life again and goals that I am working towards both in my career and personal life.

And I am so looking forward to being reunited with all of the incredible & amazing people who I have met along my own journey.

Thank you to everyone I met for everything that you taught me––from the little things like “the restaurant around the corner has really good dumplings” to the helpful advice that saved me a lot of stress for the entirety of my trip (the GoEuro app) to just simply hearing people’s different world views. I don’t know if I can really put into words the impact that everyone I have met along the way has had on my life, but all I can say is that I will forever love meeting new people from all over the world and becoming more open-minded, culturally aware, and all of the other great things that come from conversing with other travelers.

  • I received cooking lessons from a new Polish friend in my hostel kitchen in Salzburg.
  • Cultural lessons from a Parisian woman whose parents are from Tunisia and Morocco over dinner in Dubrovnik.
  • Dining (and wedding) etiquette from my best friends in Italy.
  • Tours of all different cities and castles, cooking lessons, gardening lessons, and even apartment hunting from my cousin in Germany.
  • The world cup excitement from every European person from bus drivers, to bartenders, to people I passed along the street.

I became more outgoing––able to hold a conversation, ask anyone for directions, or to ask someone to take a picture for me or with me. I learned how to navigate any city’s public transportation (though I still get lost with public busses) and cultural differences or at least where to learn if I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

I also learned a lot about the things that I should and should not have packed. Good news is anything that I forgot at home, I would have been able to buy in almost any city that I visited. Bad news is I way, way, overpacked. And even though it was a small carry-on bag, there were some clothing items that I still didn’t even wear.

The unnecessary items:

  • I had 3 UK adaptors and only 1 European adaptor. And even though I did not know if I was going to make it back to the UK before the end of my trip, I could have sent some of those home with my family. I learned you only need 1 adaptor for each type of outlet. And if you forget one, they are pretty cheap to buy. I spent way more time using my European adaptor and really just carried the other ones around from city to city.
  • Also related to chargers, I brought 2 portable chargers with me. I only really used the more powerful one––which saved me many times during my trip because it was able to recharge my phone 3-4 times. And it was so convenient in my hostels when I didn’t want to leave my phone across the room charging––I only had to leave my portable charger there and then in the morning I could charge my phone while I got started with my day.

The extra items:

  • My clothes. And yes, it is true that you don’t know what types of clothes you will need when you don’t even have a solid plan for where the day will take you, but no matter how long you are traveling for, you won’t need more than a week’s worth of clothes. I didn’t need more than a couple of shorts, a couple of pants, a few shirts, a sweater, sweatshirt, hat, and scarf. Everything that can be worn together and layered. I even made a friend who actually only brought 2 pairs of shorts…and then he lost one of them. I also regretted bringing so much because then I couldn’t justify getting the latest European fashion if it couldn’t fit into my bag.
  • Also (and I fear I may get some heat for this one) I brought way too many toiletries. I had some packages of sunblock, shampoo, and even an extra soap bar that I did not touch at all. I had a shampoo bar that my sister got it for me as an early birthday present––an organic and eco friendly shampoo bar, like the ones that seem to be so popular at Lush, but this one is from her environmental school’s craft fair––which was/is a very long lasting product and I still came home with a big chunk of that left over as well. My very long winded point here is to pack the very bare essentials. Because when you run out (which you will want to happen) you could always purchase more almost anywhere you go. I did chose to forgo the conditioner, though, and that was a good decision that I just had to deal without that luxury for a couple of months.

And now for the big question: Would you do this again? Hell yeah! Now that I have done it once, I know for a fact I can handle this kind of crazy, tiring, invigorating, spontaneous, (insert any more adjectives) travel. And that I love it.

I am not sure where exactly my next journey will take place (South America and Southeast Asia are both at the top of my list) but I am excited and looking forward to all of what is to come.

And now that I am home, I will go back and complete my blog posts for every city that I visited. So stay tuned…

 

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My visit to the Salzburg Castle.

(You never know how good someone is at photography until it is too late––notice the woman’s finger in the corner. LOL!)

Environment

What will you do for the Earth?

So today is Earth Day! And in honor of the planet, everyone should take a hard look at their lifestyle and make some changes, or just do something, to better the Earth.

This year’s Earth Day campaign is to End Plastic Pollution. Plastic waste is a major environmental issue that only seems to be escalating, exponentially. Plastic does not break down, is not compostable, and most forms of plastic are not even recyclable. Plastic is made for our one-time use disposable society and they fill up landfills rapidly as people frequently turn to disposables for the convenience of it.

Many cities, towns, and counties have been taking action against plastic bags and charging a 5¢ bag fee to encourage people to reduce the plastic waste. We can do more on the individual scale. We need to fight back against this disposable culture in every way that we can. And one of the best places to start is with your own buying decisions. Companies pay attention to the consumer choices and YOU can decide to purchase the merchandise with less packaging, less plastic, no plastic, biodegradable packaging, and even products with less processing.

In addition to this year’s to working towards this year’s campaign, there are many other ways to appreciate our planet.

Saturday, my sister and I joined her high school Interact Club in a beach cleanup. We only spent an hour and a half walking along the beach picking up all of the litter, plastic straws, and broken bottles, but I would say that it was time well spent. I was so disgusted with how many broken bottles we picked up and it just felt like a never ending task.

But it felt really good to do something. And it was so rewarding when others started joining in. Visitors to the beach saw the garbage bags and gloves and got to work. It really was a nice community moment for such a small act of community service. Beach cleanups and volunteer work are things that can be done anywhere from an individual scale to an entire organization participating. And the rewarding feeling far surpasses any effort you expend into the small task. And hopefully other will see you cleaning up and it will inspire them next.

Plus the cleanup was really fun in trying to figure out what some of the items we discovered were. Here are some of the funky things we found.

My sister thinks the bottom one is a handcuff, but I think it looks like something that would be found on a boat,  to tie the boat to the dock. Does anyone really know what it is for?

And then the middle one looks like a bullet to me. Never really seen one before, but I feel like this is what it would look like back in the day.

Then there was what we think looks like bones. And we may have just contaminated a crime scene, or perhaps someone ate chicken wings and couldn’t be bothered to throw away the bones. What do you think?

I was thrilled to have such good weather this weekend, (even though mother nature sure does have a lot to be angry with us for) and got to spend Earth Day outside, hiking, at a New York state park. My friend and I took a peaceful 4ish mile hike among many other environmentalists also out to enjoy the beautiful weather and nature.

And during our hike, the conversation never really departed from the reason for this special holiday and my friend and I discussed ways to resolve our ever-growing plastic problem.

Besides the usual solutions (forgo straws, use a reusable water bottle, change your habits, etc.) her revolutionary idea was about canning water instead of bottling it––aluminum is one of the best materials out there. So what do you think about that?

Research some options in your community to see what you can get involved in. If we treat every day like it is Earth Day, then maybe we won’t have to be so concerned about the state of the environment anymore.

Take a look at the Earth Day website to get some inspiration for what you can do on Earth Day.

writing

Always Wanted to Go to Camp?

The start of April brings Camp NaNo! Yay!

For those who don’t know, there is this organization, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that encourages people to write an entire novel (50,000-60,000 words) each November. It is a fun, motivational organization that really makes people focus on writing, and creating that (horrible) first draft. That you can then build on. And edit. And edit. And edit. Until you are left with a semi-decent story.

This same organization has something similar going on for the month of April: Camp NaNoWriMo! This will be my first year participating in it, so I don’t know too much about things yet. It is set up as a writer’s retreat and we are sorted into cabins with other writers, giving us our own writer’s group.

If you have a creative personality, or want to be a more creative person, this is a great organization to encourage you to write it down. You don’t need to submit your writing, you do it on your own word document and just submit your word count. Every single word you write down is a win––and way more than you had yesterday. You set your own goal in Camp NaNo rather than trying to get yourself to write an entire novel.

Hopefully they can motivate me to push through my writers block that I already have from day 3. I am not counting my blog writing in it yet, so my current word count is a big fat 0. With a goal of 20,000 words. Yikes.

But in my defense, I was traveling the last couple of days (and re-reading ACOTAR again). And coming up with even more ACOTAR theories for the next book that comes out in May! (In exactly 28 days!) So maybe I will start another day, like tomorrow…

So, I just created my “camper profile,” added my project and just selected my “cabin settings” to be added into a writing group with up to 19 other writers. I will officially have a writing group! And I have to catch up on some of the messages from my cabin mates already! They all seem to be a really cool and very diverse group––with people from around the world, working on all sorts of different writing projects from poetry to novels to copy for their webpages. I think it will be really nice to get some feedback from other campers.

For those of you who are like me, and love to buy souvenirs from every minor activity I take part in, there is a gift shop too! You can purchase a winners shirt if you succeed (and any word that you write is a success) or a coffee mug to drink straight caffeine for when you need to push through the writing slump (like me).

Writing Resources: Camp Counselors and Events

An amazing feature of participating in NaNo or even Camp NaNo are all of their amazing features and programs to inspire writers. It is such an interactive and supportive community no matter your skills, involvement, or even fundraising ability.

There are “Prep” resources to assist in planning out your novel beforehand and then “Now What?” resources to help with the aftermath of your first draft––all complete with helpful tips, advice, and inspiration from authors, editors, and fellow participants. And you shouldn’t forget the inspirational power of having a group chat to connect with all sorts of writers! I know it will help to inspire me, when I see how real people are actually making progress. And we can even help each other by throwing ideas around. You never know when one word or comment or silly idea will jumpstart someone’s creative juices.

Twitter: @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints

One of my favorite aspects of NaNo, and one that they have already brought back for Camp, is the word sprints on twitter. Anyone who follows my twitter will see me participate in these every once in a while, and now you can finally understand what my “WC” with a bunch of random numbers after means. (Hint: it stands for word count not water closet).

They occur at all times of the day for different lengths of time, allowing anyone to participate whatever their availability, free-time, or even time zone is. When I get inspired at 2am, it is motivating to be participating in a “sprint” with many other people around the world. The admins sometimes even provide a whole variety of prompts, that you can take and mold to inspire your own story.

And then after the organizers like to chat with us after about the favorite lines we wrote or most surprising thing our characters did. I really love the tweet chats.

Honestly I think I probably discovered NaNo because of Twitter. One of my favorite authors (I want to say it was Miranda Kenneally, but I don’t 100% remember) was participating in it while she was working on her next book. And I saw her tweeting about her word counts and about the sprint so I had to look up what she was talking about, and I think I signed up right there.

I hope that this blog post might inspire someone else to sign up too. The world needs your novel, but you really need to get it out there. So, sign up now! You have 27 days left to write!

And incase you need the link again at the bottom, the organization is Camp NaNoWriMo!

 

*Ok I am back to procrastinating my writing for fun.*