Recipe: Slacker poutine

Someone on Twitter mentioned poutine, which made me remember my potatoes and leftover brown gravy in the fridge.

So I present to you…

Poutine for Slackers

You will need:
* potatoes (Frozen potatoes or fries work great for maximizing the slacker nature of this recipe)
* brown gravy (You can get a can in the store to maintain the slacker name. Or do what I did: save some leftover takeout gravy. To give you an idea of how lazy this recipe gets, I used KFC gravy.)
* cheese (“What, no cheese curds?” I hear you cry. Dude. This is a slacker recipe, not a genuine attempt at poutine. Also, I didn’t have any cheese curds handy. Read that italicized part again.)

Got all that? Good.

1. Prepare your potatoes. If you’re using frozen potatoes you can just pop them in the oven or fry them or whatever the bag says. If you’re using fresh potatoes like I did, chop them up and throw them in some oil. Cook until they’re done. I like mine golden brown and a tiny bit crunchy.

2. Prepare your gravy. If you used the premade bag, you’ll actually have to make and stir the stuff. If you’re using a can or leftover gravy, pop the gravy in the microwave until it’s warm.

3. Place potatoes on a plate or other serving dish of choice. Pour gravy on top. Sprinkle cheese on top (I used mozzarella). Enjoy.

I was going to get a photo of the completed product, but that stuff disappeared in mere minutes. Another time…. oh who am I kidding, I’ll never remember.

Sushi must accomplish things: 2015 goals

It’s that time of year again: the times where every blog features articles like “X trends to watch out for in 2015″ and “Y ways to evaluate your 2014 results”. I was going to evaluate my 2014 goals until looking through my archives for a 2014 goals post… and there was none. Oops.

But I do have some things to work on in 2015. Here are a few of those things.

Update this blog at least once a week. Sometimes I get really really good at writing in here regularly, and then there are those times I drop off the planet for awhile.

Read 60 books. “But Sushi, you’ve read over 100 books in 2014, and the year’s not over yet.” I know, but I also have no idea what my 2015 schedule will look like. Sixty should still be doable even if I suddenly have a lot less time. And who knows, I might accidentally read 120 books.

Get a (better) job. Which reminds me, if you know anyone who needs a content/user support/marketing/geek of many trades in Atlanta (or remote), send them my way!

Get moving. Most of my hobbies involve me sitting on my butt. And yes, I’ve tried walking while writing, but it wasn’t very productive. So it’s time to get moving. I live near multiple multiuse trails, so let’s set a goal of getting out there and walking at least once a week. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Edit at least one novel. This will probably be The Shuttershock Worlds, which I rewrote during NaNo 2014.

Write more code. Build a thing to share or that other people can use.

Attend Night of Writing Dangerously again. It’ll be my fourth one if I manage it! The subgoal here is to win a word sprint there again, but that depends on too many external factors, like who else is there.

Plan something awesome for Wikiwrimo’s 5th birthday in June. I’m not sure what yet, but there will be a thing.

Write at least 100k for NaNoWriMo 2015. Exact goal is to be determined, but I don’t want to break my six-digit streak, which should still be doable even if I get a lot busier.

Most of these things are on my goal list every year, which means I’m not doing much to work toward them or that I want to work on these things every year. I’m not sure which. To 2015! Or better yet, can we fast forward straight to spring? I would love that.

What I’m reading, post-NaNoWriMo 2014 edition

I mentioned in my last book review post that most of my reading ceases in October and November. This was mostly true. Here’s what I’ve been reading during Nano season (and post-Nano, so far).

Bound, Possession, and The Nine by J. Elizabeth Hill: I see the author in my Twitter feed occasionally, considering quite a few people I know follow her (and each other). So it was just a matter of time before I checked out her books. Who says Twitter doesn’t sell books? Anyway. The worldbuilding and characters are brilliant and feel natural, and the story is well-written and engaging throughout the whole series.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 mirrors

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury: I picked this up at the library when I just wanted to sit down and write for an afternoon, then read it before November arrived. The book itself is an essay collection where Bradbury waxes poetic on the art of writing, and it’s beautiful and I want to print the whole thing out and hang it on my wall.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 witticisms

No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition by Chris Baty: First off, a couple of tips appear in the book, so I got a free (signed!) copy. Woo! Now to the review. This book is as good as the first one. While a lot of the content is the same as from the first edition, there are published Wrimo pep talks, more tips from Wrimos (including yours truly), and no more references to floppy discs. There’s enough material unique to this edition to make it worth a read.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 brilliant metaphors

30 Chapters: 30 Cheats by Brian Wood: First, I know the author. That aside, this book is a metabook of writing advice. The advice is sound, especially when I’m chuckling at typos like Decembruary. While the book is a first draft, the writing is pretty solid, and most of the awkward turns of phrase are part of the metanovel joke. And a little birdie told me there’s a sequel soon…
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 metajokes

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell: I went into this book expecting a lot and was disappointed. It wasn’t bad, mind you, but there were plenty of stories and not enough analysis on those stories. That said, I am now thinking about how my brain does snap judgments, like how I can usually tell how many stars I’ll rate a book within a few chapters.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 snap judgments

Up next… who knows? I’m picking up close to half a dozen books at the library tomorrow. This is what happens when all my self-imposed holds end because NaNo’s over. So many books.

That time I opened a tea tin with a hammer

In case you didn’t know, I love tea. Despite the self-imposed tea-buying hiatus for the majority of this year, I finally bought more tea. To be specific, I spotted a 24 Days of Tea advent calendar from a DavidsTea store in San Francisco. Those things went out of stock on the website in hours, and the closest store to Atlanta is Chicago, so I handed over some money and a calendar became mine.

I was a good Sushi. I let the tea sit and didn’t open any of them until yesterday, December first. After getting home from my Thanksgiving weekend, I cracked open the advent calendar with a tiny 1 on it and was rewarded with my tea of the day: Forever Nuts, a fruit and nut blend that I heard turned water into a beautiful reddish pink.

Sweet, right? I got to work opening the tiny (but very cute) tin. Note the words “got to work”. See, here’s how the process should have gone. Step one: open tin. Step two. Brew tea. Step three: profit.

Here’s how it really went.

Step one: Attempt to pop tin open, but the lid is practically glued on.

Step two: Attempt to unscrew the lid, thinking it’s one of those tins you have to unscrew, but nothing budges. Grab one of those rubber grips and try. Nothing moves.

Step three: Repeat steps one and two a few more times until it’s pretty clear the lid isn’t budging. Start to suspect the thing really is glued on.

Step four: Tweet your frustrations, then repeat steps one and two. You know how complaining about an annoyance sometimes makes it go away? If only it were that easy.

Step five: To Google! Look up ways to unseal a container, even though you’re already familiar wtih most of the tips. Try steps one and two again for good measure.

Step six: Grab a knife and stab the top plastic part of the jar. Manage to get a cut or two in there, but nowhere near enough to scoop out any tea. Try steps one and two again. You know, just in case.

Step seven: Bang up the sides of the container. Try steps one and two again. Tweet again.

Step eight: Refusing to accept defeat, grab a hammer and hammer the sides of the tin until it finally budges. Enjoy tea and hope to any gods listening that the other 23 days aren’t like this.

#24daysoftea: Now with hammers!

I earned that tea. I just don’t want to waste half an hour of my life on opening the others.

NaNoWriMo 2014 so far

I never seem to blog in November, do I? Funny how that works; I know a ton of folks who do manage to blog during NaNoWriMo, and some do it much more often than others.

Let’s get out of the way what a bunch of you are probably wondering: I’m at 145,400 words right now. Cool? Cool.

This year’s NaNo has been much different than any of my past years. This year is my (lucky?) 13th of participating in NaNoWriMo. Every year has presented its challenges to overcome and its achievements to unlock. This year was no exception. I got NaNo 2014 off to a fun start with making the executive decision not to start the month off with a 50k day and in fact wrote “only” 12.5k on the first day and 25k on the first weekend. This resulted in only good things, actually. In the years of a 50k day, I would find myself too exhausted to write any substantial amount for a week afterward. This year, I kept up the pace of over 10k a day for over a week, reaching 50k on day four and 100k on day eight. Coincidentally, day eight was NaNoWriMo’s Double Up Donation Day, and since doubling my donations and total word count were out of the question, I doubled my daily quota up to that point to reach 100k total.

And then I hit the wall.

Remember when I said this year brought its own challenges? Well, one of those challenges is that I wasn’t writing any new novels from scratch of my own creation this year. My first novel (finished at 70k on day six) was the plot chosen by my top Night of Writing Dangerously donor. But this year I decided to do something different. I had no idea what to write after finishing that novel, but doing a rewrite of my alternate worlds novel was lingering in the back of my mind. This is exactly what happened.

You know what? I loved rewriting that novel. Sure, it fell apart at the end because I had to start thinking about the plot and the science in science fiction, but overall I loved writing it. More importantly, I have a draft to work with that’s much less confusing to follow than my first draft, which was exactly what i wanted out of the rewrite.

But then the crash happened. Even though I loved writing the story, the pressure was on to make it, well, less sucky. This led to me writing a little more slowly and agonizing over every word… even if I know full well that word choice agony is at least a third draft problem. It also led to me trying to make the right plot choices the first time, even though there would be many many drafts where many of the plot points would change.

Who cares? I eventually had to tell myself. Just write The End and worry about it later. And that’s what I wound up doing.

Meanwhile I still needed an idea for what to write after the rewrite was over. Some plots need too much reworking on a short timeframe, others didn’t capture my interest at all right now… the list went on and on. Finally I settled on my 2006 Nano novel, a good premise that didn’t work so well now that the Internet is part of everyone’s lives. Come on, we have computers in our pockets! Surely my main character would have just Googled the person she was looking for.

So I started that novel, even winning a word sprint at the Night of Writing Dangerously while working on that novel. And then, after poking at my novel for days while writing a few sentences at a time, I realized something.

This story was boring. Sure, there are lots of things I could make happen in that story, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care enough about the characters or the plot to do so. In fact, the majority of the plot from the first draft had already happened.

It wasn’t just boredom with the story either. Everything else in my life, things I had ignored in November, suddenly looked so much more appealing. My big stack of books to read. My suspended library holds, which end December first and mean more books. My adventures in code and making things and maybe playing with the NaNoWriMo API. (There’s a write API this year. Exciting!) Writing in here. Writing in my paper journal. Wikiwrimo. Not to mention the pressures of real life pushing down on me and needing to be taken care of in the near future.

Part of me still feels bad, though. Even though I’ve already verified and won, actively quitting a story feels like quitting Nano. This is a different feeling than getting nowhere near finished with a story but still writing to the end, like I did last year. This year feels like I’m quitting, despite winning. I’m not sure how to feel about this. I know what I’m capable of and know that my main 200k goal for this year is still possible, but I want to do everything but work on that story.

“Why don’t you work on something new?” you might ask. That’s the problem. I have plenty of very vague ideas that could spark story ideas, along with at least two more Nano novels I’d like to finish or rewrite. But I have no idea what to do with them, what needs to happen… suddenly I find myself wanting a plan instead of taking a vague idea and running with it. Am I becoming a planner? Dare I say it… maybe. I need a month to flesh out some of those ideas before next November. Maybe that’ll be a camp project. That could be fun.

But for now? I’m going to attempt to resume my other life activities and use all this newly learned info to not burn out next year.

P.S. And for those wondering how the Night of Writing Dangerously went… it was amazing. There will be a post for that. And now that I’ve said as much, it’s going to happen.

P.P.S. This post is longer than what I’ve written in the novel today.

Farewell, #50kday

For the past three years, I’ve completed the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo in the first twenty-four hours. Before completing the challenge, I finished 50,000 earlier every year, so trying to reach the goal in one day was the next step. (Also, alcohol bribes were involved.)

Every 50k day is wonderful and terrible in its own way, but last November first was my last single-day attempt. That said, I am still doing NaNo this year. Just not in 24 hours.

Not that I have to justify my choice to anyone, but in case you’re wondering, I do have a few good reasons…

My body isn’t getting any younger. 50k day is a painful endeavor. Not just for the wrists (though my wrist braces help), but for the rest of my body. My posture is atrocious, meaning my shoulders and back hurt for days after a 50k day. It’s time to end that.

I like sleeping. I really like sleeping. You know how sleeping goes out the window during NaNo when you’re staying up to write enough words to hit the next thousand words or to get ahead of someone else? It’s so much worse when you’re trying to do 50k in a day. Most of that is because 50k day almost has to be done on no sleep. It’s theoretically possible to sleep a normal night’s sleep and still complete 50k day, but the reality looks much different. I’ve finished all three of my 50k days with less than two hours to go, which leaves very little time for sleeping. When you include the very short nap taken on All NaNo’s Eve, this usually means I’m awake for around 40 straight hours, with the exception of a couple of very short naps. I can’t do that anymore. Now I get sleepy before 10pm and sleep about ten hours a night. I really, really like sleeping, and 50k day ensures I get almost no sleep over the course of two days. My body can’t take that anymore.

The emotional recovery takes even longer. The 50k day experience is a roller coaster… and I’m getting off the wild ride.

If you’ve done NaNo before, you’re probably familiar with the week one fresh excitement, week two blues, week three “Hey, I can do this!”, and week four victory. It’s a roller coaster of emotions all crammed into a month of noveling. No wonder we need December to recover from NaNo!

50k day crams all those emotions in 24 hours. And let me tell you, there are few things less exciting than hitting the week two blues at 6am on the first, knowing you have 35k to go, especially on no sleep over the past 24 hours. You know how emotions seem to exaggerate themselves when you’re hungry or tired or otherwise uncomfortable? I’m usually tired and hungry and frustrated with my plot at 6am, and all that combined with the lack of daylight sends me into the 6am blues. And just like NaNo, the only cure is to keep going. And maybe take a quick nap.

But that’s nothing compared to the days following. I barely write for about a week afterward because the 50k day took such a physical and emotional toll on me. Granted, I’m usually trying to start a new novel, and after 24 hours of sitting in a chair and writing, sitting back down and starting something completely different from the last novel feels like the hardest thing. That week it takes for me to get back to writing is a week I could spend, well, writing. And in less pain.

It’s highly unlikely I’ll finish NaNo any faster. I’ve done NaNo for awhile–since 2002, to be specific. And every year I’ve completed 50,000 words earlier, from 6pm on the 30th in 2002 all the way to around 10pm on November first last year. Even my 50k days were completed earlier and earlier, where I shaved off minutes instead of days. And now I’m not sure I can go any faster. Last year’s attempt was my first with zero non-NaNo activities planned around the day, making it was my most efficient attempt. And I still used almost the entire day to write.

Am I quitting the 50k day while I’m ahead? Maybe. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

To all of you attempting a 50k day, or even if you’re just thinking about it: I salute you and your wrists. And I’ll probably still join in on a 50k weekend this year.

50k Day: how I did it

I completed a 50,000 word day on November first for each of the past three years. I fully recognize the ridiculousness of this feat and have wondered how people have done it in the past before my overachieving days, so let’s talk about how I did it.

Before beginning: I know several other people who have done a 50k day in the past, and one who went beyond this crazy to do a 75k day. At least one has written up their tips on completing the challenge. Besides the sitting down and writing part, all of our approaches are different. What works for me might not work for them (or you), and vice versa.

So without further ado…

How to write a novel in a day

Plan your novel beforehand. Or don’t. It’s up to you, really. Just be okay if that outline you painstakingly thought through weeks in advance gets tossed out the window at 5am because your main character decided to go on a killing spree. Not that this has happened before or anything. It is a very good idea to have at least a vague premise unless you’re REALLY good at making stuff up as you go along. And make sure it’s something you’re excited about writing. You know how you find yourself hating what you’re writing and the world sucks and why didn’t you just write 2k for day one? Well, imagine that feeling at 6am when you’ve barely slept for the last day. It sucks. But just like the week two blues, you can get past the 6am blues.

Take care of important tasks due during the first week of NaNo before November gets here. Chances are good you have some bill due at the beginning of the month. For me, that’s rent. Send out those bills before November first so you don’t realize they’re late on the second. Especially if, like 2014, the second is on a Sunday.

Tell everyone you know. Well, tell everyone you’re normally in contact with that you have some big plans for that day and seriously, don’t contact you unless the house is on fire or something equally in need of your intervention. If you normally work on the day you’re attempting this, I highly recommend taking a day off from work if you’d otherwise be working because you need all the time you can get.

Take a nap the evening before. This is where I usually fail miserably thanks to putting off everything until the last minute. But if you can manage it, finish all your prep before All NaNo’s Eve, then do whatever you need to do to fall asleep until around 11pm.

Sleep–but not for long. Our bodies need sleep (unless you’re already a cyborg, in which case TELL ME YOUR SECRET). But let’s be real here, you’ll probably need almost the entire 24 hours to write that 50k. Sleeping takes up a lot of time. My recommendation: catnaps. Set a timer and sleep for 15 or so minutes at a time. It won’t be as refreshing as a full night’s sleep (especially if you didn’t follow the tip about the evening nap), but it might be enough until you get that second wind.

Drink fluids that aren’t caffeinated. Caffeine is great, but too much caffeine isn’t. Water is a good thing to have too. I like to alternate tea with water or hot chocolate to hit all these needs. If you do go with coffee or soda, watch the intake.

Eat. And not just candy or chips or whatever you can get your hands on. You’re staying up for at least 24 hours straight, and your body needs long-lasting nourishment to do that without keeling over. I wake up starving every morning, and the only thing that keeps my stomach from eating itself in the middle of the night is that part where I’m sleeping. As for 50k day, I make a big pot of soup a day or two before and eat off it throughout the day (after breakfast, of course). Be prepared to eat at unusual times, like those times just before dawn when you might otherwise be sleeping.

Write consistently. That’s the only way you’re going to get this done, after all. But considering most folks need to write for almost all the 24 hours, it’s a good idea to have a consistent writing schedule and set goals for yourself. I wrote for 45 minutes, then took a 15-minute brain break. You can do this or a 15/5 or 10/5 or whatever you want as long as you sit down and write consistently. I used my fifteen minute breaks for Internet and brain and stretch and food breaks, then watched the minutes pass and thought “Hocrap, better get back into writing mode” as the top of the hour grew closer.

Pay attention to your body. This includes your wrists, your elbows, and posture. Make sure you’re writing in a comfortable and ergonomic writing environment. That means shoulders relaxed, 90-degree angle at your elbow, sitting up straight. Most of my pain didn’t come from my wrists (though there was some–the wrist braces helped there) but from my shoulders and back because my posture is atrocious. When something starts hurting, stop. That pain’s there for a reason.

Reward yourself. Who doesn’t like rewards? You can do mini-rewards or a big one at the end. Last year I had five bonbons left and ate one for every 10,000 words. My first attempt, I had a bottle of wine ready for the end. Do whatever works for you.

Stay strong. Never give up. Be awesome. No matter how much you write, you’re doing something amazing. Own it. Then when the calendar turns to November second, go to sleep, wake up later, and do something else awesome.

Why I am not a NaNoWriMo ML

Before I get started: these reasons have nothing to do with my co-MLs, Wrimos in my region, or the NaNoWriMo staff. Seriously. They’re all wonderful.

I didn’t meet any fellow NaNoWriMo particpants in person until my fourth NaNoWriMo. This was primarily because of growing up in a small town in the hills of north Georgia, so the few fellow Wrimos I knew, I had told them about NaNo myself. (One of them is still doing NaNo over ten years later!) So when college application time came, I based my college choices almost fully on creative writing programs that I would never complete and active NaNoWriMo regions.

That was how I wound up in Atlanta, a large city with plenty of Wrimos and plenty of classmates to spread the NaNo news to. I remember attending my first in-person event, a kickoff at a coffee shop within walking distance of campus. And even though there weren’t any other spring chickens like me in attendance, there were writers of all ages, a Municipal Liaison (ML) giving out stickers, and people I would see regularly at write-ins and kickoffs and TGIO parties over the next several years. I would host write-ins at this coffee place over the next several years.

It was during this time I thought of how much fun MLing would be. Besides being in charge, I’d get to meet all kinds of Wrimos and help them toward their goals. Sure, this was something I was kind of doing on the forums anyway, but in-person encouragement! Meeting other Wrimos! The highlighter yellow shirt! Over the next few years, the Atlanta region grew by leaps and bounds. I graduated from college and did an internship, but still found myself back in the boonies where I grew up by 2010.

But I’m not a small-town girl, and I had no desire to live in a lonely world. So after nearly two years of scraping by, I sold some possessions and started taking up freelance gigs in the hope of moving back to Atlanta before NaNoWriMo 2011. This prompted the current Atlanta MLs to invite me to apply as a co-ML. I did and became one of the NaNoLanta ML Quartet, then moved back to Atlanta just before Labor Day weekend. It was ON.

…until I actually got to work on ML tasks.

Since my ginormous region had four MLs that year, we decided it was time to do all the programs. Reaching out to schools, complete with a custom guide to getting NaNo enthusiasm in schools. Adopt a Day. Goodie bags and prizes. Our first local Night of Writing Dangerously spinoff, the Evening of Writing Wildly. A customized Google map of all our region’s writeins. Customized newbie and mentor pairings. And a bunch of other things that are slipping my mind now.

It was going to be the best NaNo ever! I was excited and idealistic… and then the panic and freak out mode started.

I was living on a shoestring, and while some of my co-MLs were pouring in money for prizes and goodie bags and other exciting things, I would risk missing some important bills if I tossed money around like that, and my Night of Writing Dangerously plans weren’t helping with that. Even though I know now it didn’t make a difference to how my co-MLs saw me and my MLing duties, nor did they expect me to pour in a bunch of funds myself, back then it only increased the guilt and stress.

That year my attention was divided into four major areas: MLing, the NaNo forums, Wikiwrimo, and Night of Writing Dangerously planning, compared to the only two (and previously, one) that I was used to. I spent my days working and looking for better work, while my nights were devoted to pairing newbies with mentors and writing a school guide and answering emails/messages and plotting write-ins on a map and trying to check in on the forums and updating Wikiwrimo and about a thousand other things.

Slowly but surely the ML duties took over, leaving the forums and wiki neglected. Around mid-October I told myself I was never ever doing this again, and that feeling only intensified as the month went on. I might have sobbed on my co-MLs on multiple occasions and to myself on a daily basis.

Because while I was good at encouraging local Wrimos and hosting write-ins and many of the ML duties, I didn’t feel like I was doing enough for the rest of the NaNo community. The forums had kept me company during my first few NaNos, and NaNo season is incredibly busy for Wikiwrimo. But in my MLhood, I found myself connecting to and getting to know fewer Wrimos, not more as I had hoped. I remember reading the ML forums and seeing stuff like “You know you’re an ML when…” and I had related to a bunch of those things for years. (In fact, a few folks thought I was already an ML!) Was I gatecrashing the club? It sure felt like I was, especially in a community where so many people already knew each other–probably the most awkward social scenario for me.

And on top of that, 2011 was the year of the big relaunch, when the NaNoWriMo site was rebuilt from scratch with Ruby on Rails. While my fellow beta testers and I tested everything we could on the beta site, but a few bugs returned or just went unnoticed. The ones relevant to MLs led to a LOT of (understandable but still irksome for me) complaining on the ML forums. Can’t everyone just be friends (or at least friendly acquaintances) forever?

October went from the second most exciting time of year (after November, of course!) to the most stressful. And I was not okay with that.

It wasn’t all bad, and November was a breeze compared to the constant nervousness of October. The midnight write-in I hosted at my house was a jumping board for many of my good friends now. I met several far-flung Nano buddies over a weekend. Despite being broke, I attended the Night of Writing Dangerously and had a blast. (Pssst, I’m going again this year.) I joined the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter team (and have stayed there since–word’s still mum on this year). I watched as so many Nano buddies crossed 50k (and more!), a few in the first 24 hours. I joined them. Oh, and I wrote 234k over three novels–my second highest NaNo word count of all.

But even a fabulous November couldn’t make up for the October stresses, so I swore to myself never to ML again, if only to turn October back into a fun month. Plus this means lots more time to forum and wiki and encourage even more Wrimos, things I can do and am good at. Even my September wiki panics are nothing compared to my ML panics of 2011.

Still, sometimes you have to find out the hard way.

If you want to ML, I absolutely encourage it! Don’t let my tale scare you away. The NaNo staff and other MLs are wonderful, supportive people, and chances are your Wrimos are too. Just remember the first step to MLing: take care of yourself and don’t take on more than you’re comfortable with. A happy ML leads to happy Wrimos, and that’s your goal: encouraging Wrimos to the finish line.

NaNoWriMo 2014 relaunch approacheth

And I think I’m ready. Almost everything that needs to be fixed on Wikiwrimo has been fixed or updated. There are lots of things that need improvement, but I’m okay with the current state of things. I’m not running around like a headless chicken trying to finish all the things, and this is a very good thing. Some things can wait until after NaNo.

My Night of Writing Dangerously fundraising page is almost halfway to its goal. YAY! If you donate, you could be in one of my novels. As @Dammit__Woman said on Twitter, I’ve figured out immortality. So donate and be in my novel.

As for plot… yeah, about that. I still have nothing. And considering I’m shooting for 200k this year in my attempt to reach 1.5million words over all my NaNos to date, I should probably get on that.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

What I’m reading, September 2014

2014 book count: 93. Even if I stop reading now and pick up again in December, as is usually the case with NaNoWriMo season, I can still reach 100 books easily.

Here’s what I’ve read since the last book review batch:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess: This book was hilarious, and it made me think and feel and laugh and so many other things. Her writing style is raw and unfiltered, and I felt like I was reading these thoughts inside her brain. Literally inside her brain, making myself comfy on a brain wrinkle while she thought her thoughts. And that made me think of how I pause so much before writing things down (because heaven forbid I run out of paper or want to make things sound good) and try to make all these thoughts in my brain into words that sound good. Also, I am now even more convinced that without the Internet, more people would wonder what the hell was wrong with me. Oh right, I was writing a book review. Back to that…
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 arm condoms

Peachville High Demons series (books 2-6) by Sarra Cannon: I’m grouping the series together because I can (and because I don’t remember which book some elements were from). I already reviewed the first book, Beautiful Demons. But the series really picks up at book two and maintains that fast pace throughout the rest of the series. Book 6 ends the series brilliantly and wraps things up in a way that didn’t leave me questioning major elements.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 ritual items (Inner Demons, Bitter Demons, Shadow Demons, Rival Demons)
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 priestesses (Demons Forever)

Walk Me Home by Catherine Ryan Hyde: This book was… okay. The main character was stubborn to the point of not recognizing the reality of the situation; she couldn’t be a guardian at all, their journey is hard to the point of unbelievable (how did they make it that long? How did they not die?), and the use of multiple timelines frustrated me rather than enlightened me. I did appreciate the ending for the most part, but how did it take Carly that long to figure things out? Geez.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 quarters

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I loved almost everything about this book. Almost. The characters were well-rounded and complex and the plot flowed smoothly for the most part. But the ending left me wanting so much more than what was there. The book was great great give me more… and then all of a sudden it ended and fell flat. Still, I enjoyed this book enough to seek out her other work.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 fanfics

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed: I see him retweeted in my feed at least once a day, so I gave his book a try. I tried so hard to like it, but in the end it was just okay. The worldbuilding is excellent, but I just couldn’t get into it from the beginning. And it wasn’t the unusual names and world, or at least that wasn’t a big factor; the best way to get used to things different than your norm is to expose yourself to them, after all. But I just found myself reading, checking to see when a chapter ended or how many pages I had left (which I sometimes do when I’m not loving the book). My thinking was “how much more?” instead of “what comes next?”. But I’m mostly indifferent about the book, so a 3 it is.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 thrones

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson: She is one hilarious woman, at least on Twitter. And while there’s definitely some humor in this book, the humor isn’t the main focus. In fact, most of the topics in this book aren’t particulary humorous. Given that this book tells the story of three sisters recovering from their father’s death, that’s understandable. It’s a good read, and I’d pick up another one of Maureen’s books. Recs welcome!
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 car keys

The Archived by Victoria Schwab: The premise of this book is so good (an archive of the dead, and chasing after them when they escape), and the author does it justice. I love the main character. She’s enthusiastic, but she screws up often, and a lot of the action from this book comes from her screwups. And the story itself is just beautiful and touches on lots of themes like death and deception and identity. Beautiful.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 histories

Lock In by John Scalzi: So good. Just… good. So many themes dealt with and so many parallels to current society and funny characters and geez, just go read it already. Sometimes that’s all there is to say.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 treeps

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: I knew I’d like this book from the time someone recommended it. I mean, a bookstore, mysteries, and technology. Sounds great, right? The first half was great, but the pacing felt a little off at parts and I couldn’t get all that into the main story of the second half, but overall a good read.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 logbooks

Dreamwood by Heather Mackey: This book is lovely, and it grabbed me straight from the start. The main character, Lucy, is a bright and energetic twelve-year-old who won’t let anyone tell her what to do. I would have liked her in my teenagehood. The book flowed well, the characters were complex and multifaceted, and the ending tied everything up together nicely.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 spirits

Up next: …nothing at the moment, believe it or not. It’s close enough to NaNo relaunch that all my energies are devoted to putting up flyers and updating Wikiwrimo and getting the rest of my life in order. The writing replaces the reading this time of year. Book review posts should be back in December, and then I figure out my 2015 reading goal.