Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Announcements: Nanowrimo Approaches...

What: Brainstorming Meeting for National Novel Writing Month
Where: Panera Breads (423 S Associated Rd, Brea, CA 92821)
When: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 from 6:00-9:00

Come bring your ideas for a last minute brainstorm before November arrives.

 * * *

What:  Nanowrimo Writing Session
Where: Panera Breads (423 S Associated Rd, Brea, CA 92821)
When: Every Sunday through November from 12:00-1:00
           Every Wednesday through November from 7:00-8:00
Sit with us for one hour and write your novel. Come for support, camaraderie, and baked goods.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekly Update:10-20-15 Scarier than a Pumpkin Latte Shortage

October is disappearing faster than the pumpkin lattes at Starbucks. A slight knot of worry grows in my stomach. So much work ahead of me. Will I be able to accomplish all I set out to do? And if not, what do I sacrifice?
Maybe drinking a latte will help me decide.
By next year, I hope to get started on my teaching credential. That means finishing the bulk of the application this year. Last week, I sat down and sorted out what needed to be done. The list was two pages long and included fun things like:
  • Filling out 3 separate applications
  • Writing 2 different essays
  • Passing the 5-hour English CSET exam
  • Taking a CPR class
  • Hand-delivering my sealed transcripts, CBEST test scores, fingerprint results, and TB test 
  • Taking 4 prerequisite college courses, including 45 hours of observation
  • Getting teacher recommendations
  • Paying over $500 in test and application fees
No problem, right?
My family and friends seem to calmly assume that I'll pass it just fine. I'm far less certain, because all those things take time, and I seem to be having trouble finding it.

Ironically, this year I seem to be getting far more substituting jobs than I normally do. That's great for my bank account, which will soon sorely need the extra dough, but it gives me less time to play around with application stuff. It also cuts into my writing time. I'd wanted to get my fairy tale middle grade novel, Three Floating Coffins out to Beta Readers by now, but that isn't happening.

And Nanowrimo looms.

That feeling of impending death is just the prospect of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
I'm doing fine with brainstorming and plotting my novel. What frightens me is leading a group. Can I step up and inspire other people to reach their writing goals? And if they fail, does that mean I've failed?

And then, of course, there's family and holiday.

I don't want to think about Thanksgiving and cleaning the house and making pumpkin pies. I definitely don't want to think of Christmas and hand-crafting 25 cards and doing last-minute shopping. Right now, my biggest concern is visiting my brother who is coming to California for 2 weeks in the beginning of November before being shipped off to North Korea for a year. I'd like to get the cousins together and maybe throw him a beach party. But will the weather behave? Can I gather everyone together? What supplies do I need?

My head is spinning.

Something will have to go. And be warned, gentle reader, that this blog is high on the list of sacrificed activities. So if you notice a lack of posts, that may be why. I'll try to finish up October. I make no promises for November.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: The Seventh Magpie

Title: The Seventh Magpie
Author: Nancy Chase
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade Reader


On the day she's about to be sent to an abbey, Princess Catrin receives a valuable gift from her mother: a little golden book encrusted with jewels that contains the Best Story in the World. The book is magic, given to Catrin's mother by the Magpies, shapeshifting birds who cast powerful illusions. The Magpies warn Catrin never to read more than one page a day.

She doesn't listen.

In the aftermath of a tragic disaster, Catrin goes on a quest to recover the Best Story in the World. But second chances don't come easy. The Magpies strike a bargain with Catrin. Every day for seven days, she must answer a riddle--and if she fails, she will lose what's most precious in the world to her. Catrin accepts. Little does she know that she'll have to fight harder than she's ever fought before if she wants to win the Magpies' game.


I assumed this would be a simple, light-hearted little children's story.

My mistake.

You can't blame me for thinking it would be simple. The story begins with a classic fairy tale set up: Princess Catrin is unhappy. She's spent most of her life locked away and neglected; she finds true love, only for her father to force her to marry someone else. Her unhappiness leads to disaster, but surely it's nothing a little magic can't fix?

Since this is a fairy tale, magic just happens, without rules, without reason, and the characters just go with it. For the most part, I went with it, too, though I did have a few  nagging questions, such as: What was the book supposed to do? Why did her mother give it to her? Was it really worth the mess it caused?

Initially, I thought the characters were a bit one-dimensional. Catrin, in particular, didn't seem able to do anything for herself. I wasn't impressed with her. But I liked the riddles, and I cared enough about the characters to keep reading.

And then, around Riddle #4, things started to get dark.

By dark, I don't mean violent or gruesome. Instead, something happened that made me realize the chaos Catrin unleashed had real, deadly consequences. Suddenly, I began to wonder if magic really would tie everything in a nice, neat "happily-ever-after" bow.

I have to say, I liked the darkness. As the story progressed, the riddles became more personal, the conversations more philosophical. Catrin suffered more, lost more, worked harder, made difficult decisions, and ultimately grew into a complex, fully-realized character.

The ending left me stunned. I didn't know what was real and what wasn't. But I didn't really mind. The story moved me and lingered in my mind. It was an imaginative, fast-paced tale, and it made me feel, which to me is the number one thing.

By the way, kudos to Katrina Sesum for the lovely, full-page illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. I wanted to print them out and color them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Weekly Update: 10-13-15 Personality Types

After feeling my energy reserves drain away from the flurry of activity last week, I ended up taking Friday off and luxuriating in the freedom of doing nothing! In this case, "doing nothing" meant looking up Myers-Briggs Personality Types.

This could be considered research, in a way. After all, as a writer, I tend to be drawn to personalities and how people tick. I need to understand how my characters function and why they make the decisions that they make.

But who am I kidding? I was looking up stuff about my own type because it was fun.

The way it works is that you evaluate yourself based on two polar personality traits: Extrovert (E) versus Introvert (I), Sensor (S) versus iNtuitive (N), Thinker (T) versus Feeler (F), and Judger (J) versus Perceiver (F). You then put the four letters together and get your personality. In my case, I'm an INFP--Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeler, Perceiver, sometimes nicknamed as a Healer or Idealist.

"Healers (INFPs) present a calm and serene face to the world, and can seem shy, even distant around others. But inside they're anything but serene, having a capacity for personal caring rarely found in the other types. Healers care deeply about the inner life of a few special persons, or about a favorite cause in the world at large. And their great passion is to heal the conflicts that trouble individuals, or that divide groups, and thus to bring wholeness, or health, to themselves, their loved ones, and their community."

--David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II http://www.keirsey.com/4temps/healer.asp

None of this is all that new to me. My dad (who's an INTJ) had typed me as early as 6th grade. The first time I learned I was an extreme feeler and idealist, I cried, because it was such an awful, uncool thing to be. I wanted to be smart and tough, not emotional and wishy-washy. (By the way, anyone who suggests I'm stupid will get their nose snapped off, I'm telling you right now!)

Sometimes I still hate the way my tendencies keep me from doing more. As a Perceiver, for example, I like to play first, work later, and I struggle with discipline and organization. (Not that half my friends believe it; they think I'm hard-working and on top of things. Pah!)

I don't think of personality as being a destiny. You can improve your weaknesses. The problem is, it's hard. It chews away precious willpower and energy. When I'm working as a substitute, for example, I need to be a bit more extroverted (E) and disciplined (J) than I prefer. I feel like I can keep it up for a while, but when I get home, I collapse into a powder-puff heap.

Sometimes I'm so hard on myself for not being what I'm not, I don't really appreciate what I am. Does that make sense? I sort of undervalue my natural strengths and overvalue the qualities I don't have in abundance. For example, one time, a student came up and said she really appreciated how nice of a substitute I was, not like her teacher, who she thought was "scary." But I translated "being nice" as "being soft and easily taken advantage of" and secretly wished I could be one of those scary teachers.

After all, I am an INFP
But on the whole, I really like being who I am, because I get along with myself so well. When I read personality books, I think about how my mind ticks. I feel sad about my weaknesses (impractical, takes things personally, hard to get to know), but I feel grateful for my strengths (open-minded and flexible, very creative, passionate and energetic). It makes me ponder how others see me and how I see myself.

If you want to know your type, this quick free test is useful: http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Weekly Update: 10-8-15 A Long Week

My mother acts surprised when I tell her that spending five hours with people, even people I know well and like, wears me out. I don't know why, because I've told her and told her that I'm an introvert. I need to spend time alone to recharge.

Time alone is not what I've had this week.

Where to begin?

How about the weekend, where the action is?

Bright and early Saturday morning, I packed six of my books, a handful of bookmarks, and a plastic bin of homemade cards and went to El Dorado High School's Holiday Boutique. Many vendors set up shop here, and my eyes spun at the sight of all the crafts. DeAnna Cameron had set up a cute booth for us via her publicity company Books on the Vine. We talked to potential customers and handed out fliers. It was a valuable learning experience, but I sold nothing.

So at 11:30, I went home and made hamburgers for lunch.

Then I went to the Brea Library Writer's Club.  Right after that, I went to my cousin's house to visit my newborn niece Leilani. I read her five children's books, plus an additional Dr. Seuss book to my cousin Kevin. He's in college.

Sunday I had a Nanowrimo planning meeting at Panera. We spent about two hours going over goals. Directly after that, my critique partners group met to talk over our writing and brainstorm. I arrived home just in time to make dinner, do the dishes, and write even more.

The week began. I had substitute gigs every day of the week so far. Also, I had to brainstorm for Nanowrimo. School I could handle. It's the extracurricular activities that get me.

When I was in high school, the first thing I did after coming home from school was to lock myself in my room and just ignore the rest of the world.

No time for that this week.

Monday, after school, I went shopping and cleaned the house.

On Tuesday, I had a NAMI family-to-family class, which I wrote about last week. At about 4:20, I arrived home from a junior high substitute gig. Literally 30 seconds later, my parents pulled in to the driveway. We went to tacos and came home from the class at 9:30PM. I still had to do my Crunch-tober brainstorming for Nanowrimo.

Wednesday, I made an early dinner and swung around Panera again, for another Nanowrimo meeting. We stayed from 6:00 to 9:00.

Today I volunteer at the library, which is where I'm writing this blog.

So, please forgive me if this hasn't been the most cohernt blog entry. But for me, personally, it has been a very long week.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Nanowrimo Meetings

Goal-Setting and Brainstorming for Nanowrimo

What: Informal Meeting to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month
Where: Panera Breads (423 S Associated Rd, Brea, CA 92821)
When: Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 11:00 AM
           Wednesday,October 7, 2015 at 6:00 PM


First of all, I want to apologize for a mistake on my blog. I mixed up the times on my last blog. Today's meeting was at 11:00 AM. Poor Christy arrived at 6:00 and for that I profusely apologize. 

But there is another meeting on Wednesday 6:00 PM if you missed the Sunday one. Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience caused by my mistakes. 

Hope to see you there. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Winning Nanowrimo: Summing it Up

What is Nanowrimo?
  • National Novel Writing Month
  • One novel/ 50,000 words (200 pages) in November
Nano calander

How It Works
  • Make a commitment
  • Let go of quality, focus on quantity
  • No going back and re-writing/ editing
  • Discipline, focus, and endurance
Office Worker with Mountain of Paperwork

Set a Goal
  • Doesn’t have to be a novel
  • Doesn’t have to be 50,000 words
  • Stretch yourself, don’t stress yourself
set and reach goal concept

Think of a Reward
  • Tangible: Not "the satisfaction of writing a novel."
  • Motivator during tough times
  • Achievement or effort?
  • Multiple rewards? Daily? Weekly? Milestones?
  • You need to celebrate

 Make a Plan
  • Where and when do you best write?
  • Can you adapt if conditions aren't ideal?
  • How efficient are you at writing?
  • How can you fit writing into your schedule?
  • What sacrifices will you need to make?

Create an Outline
  • Brainstorm ideas for novel
  • Organize ideas into a logical sequence
  • Doesn't have to be permanent: go off script
  • Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
contents 2

  • "October is crunch time."
  • Practice: 500 words a day in October
  • I use it for brainstorming/ outlining

Gather Support
  • Affirmation, Accountability, Mentorship, Company, Competition, Free Time
  • Nanowrimo.org: Word Tracker, Pep Talks, Find Local Writers, Prizes
writer group
Previous Posts

Winning Nanowrimo: The Challenge
Winning Nanowrimo: Creating an Outline
Winning Nanowrimo: Crunchtober
Winning Nanowrimo: Gathering Support

What’s your story about?

List at least ten key events that happen throughout the story

Event #1: Inciting Incident
Event #2
Event #3
Event #4: Reversal
Event #5
Event #6
Event #7: Reversal
Event #8
Event #9: Climax
Event #10: Resolution

How do these events connect to each other?

Problems or Questions:


Ask your main characters the following questions:

What do they look like? (Age, gender, important physical qualities)
Who/ what do they love/ hate? (Stakes)
What do they desire? (Motivation)
What do they fear? (Obstacle)
What do they believe in? (Theme)
What is their background/ history? (Depth)
What is their greatest secret? (Surprise)

Don’t forget to come up with an antagonist.

Decide on the General Setting.

Physical Landscape
  • city, suburb, or country?
  • land and water
  • nature: plants and animals
  • buildings and man-made environments
Era/ Culture
  • clothes: how does it express their culture?
  • objects: what things are commonly used?
  • technology, politics, religion
Time Frame
  • how long does the story take place: days? months? years?
  • any noticeable time gaps?
Seasons/ Weather
  • clothes: how does it protect them from the elements?
  • holidays
  • dangers
Try to come up with 3 Specific Places

Room, house, café, train, fort, spaceship, forest, etc.
What objects do you see? How might the hero use them?
How might this setting help advance the plot?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Announcements: Upcoming Events

Pop-Up Boutique at El Dorado High School

What: A pop-up shop to sell and sign books
Where: El Dorado High School (1651 Valencia Ave, Placentia, CA 92870)
When: Saturday, October 3rd from 9AM to 3PM (I'll be manning the signing booth from 10:00-11:00)

My friend Michelle Knowlden originally booked the booth, but due to unforeseen events, she had to cancel and I'm taking up her spot. I have six paperbacks and a limited selection of my homemade cards for sale. As part of the arrangement, my book will also appear in a local holiday gift guide.

If you're going, be sure to say high.

* * *

Goal-Setting and Brainstorming for Nanowrimo

What: Informal Meeting to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month
Where: Panera Breads (423 S Associated Rd, Brea, CA 92821)
When: Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 11:00 AM
           Wednesday,October 7, 2015 at 6:00 PM

I want to encourage other writers to write a novel in a month, so I'm hosting some meetings to set goals for November's writing challenge and brainstorm for the novel. Anyone is welcome to attend.