Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last minute NaNo inspiration!

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo! So if you're not quite to 50,000 words and need some NaNo music videos to spurn your creativity . . . well, watch these:

Okay, so you might have noticed that all of these videos are by the same guy. Well, uhh, I think he's made some of the best NaNoWriMo music videos . . . I mean, Mulan parody . . . so, yeah. Unless any of you have some favorite NaNo videos that I've missed? If so, tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Writerly Tools: Tumblr

Tumblr is one of those websites that is both inspirational and a superb time suck. It also took me a long time to appreciate.

Like many other writers, I think it's easy to find inspiration in all sorts of things: pictures, videos, comics, music, etc. What I didn't understand, was that Tumblr is home to all of these things if you know how to look. Actually, Tumblr is home to a lot of exciting and inspirational stuff. You just have to give it an opportunity.

Like all social networks, Tumblr is riddled with garbage, but it's surprisingly easy to avoid. We're not talking status updates like Twitter and Facebook. We're talking microblogging. This is like Blogger and Wordpress, but quicker and easier. Tumblr can be whatever you want to make it, depending on who you follow and what you post/reblog.

So now that I've maybe perked your interest, let me tell you a little bit more about it. Here, five reasons why Tumblr might be another social network that's worth your time:
  1. Tumblr is the blogging alternative
    A lot of people have been burnt out on blogging, but Tumblr takes that familiar formula and twists it. Yup, Tumblr is all about stream-of-consciousness, quick and easy, micro-blogging. It lets you take images, words, anything, and lets your ideas speak for themselves.
  2. Tumblr is simple
    Seriously. Tumblr is up there with Twitter when it comes to ease of use. This is definitely a good thing, especially when you consider how broad it's applications of use can be.
  3. Tumblr can be your scrapbook
    You can post nearly anything on Tumblr, and thus, it's really easy to create a scrapbook of images relating yo your writing, or even a collection of writing exercises or flash fiction. Tags are specific to tumblelogs, so it's easy to keep everything organized.
  4. Tumblr is a creativity goldmine
    Continuing on the scrapbook vein, you can find pretty much anything on Tumblr. Pictures, patterns, recipes . . . it's all there. And you can reblog and share all of it. So if you need to jumpstart your creativity, go peruse Tumblr for a while.
  5. Tumblr is light hearted
    Tumblr loves kittens and memes and all sorts of silly internet-related things. Better yet, Tumblr lets you spread the joy with a simple click of the Reblog button. And frankly, this is a great way to escape the writerly angst.

Friday, November 25, 2011

On this blackest of Fridays

You know, I was going to write about Thanksgiving. Then I was going to write about Black Friday. Then I remembered how everyone always writes about holiday on their blogs, and after you've seen one post, you've pretty much seen them all. Besides, not all of you are American.

This is pretty much why I don't say anything about holidays on Squidink. It often gets to the point where the blog-o-sphere becomes saturated with a lot of the same sentiments, and I'd rather not bore you (and myself) with them.

There are a lot of other topics I like to avoid on this blog too. Politics. Religion. Complaining too much. Too many details on my personal life (not that they're super interesting anyway). I want to be positive here--not to look perfect or avoid debate or anything like that--but because I don't feel there's a point to lingering on the negative.

People like to cling to hatred too easily. We like to complain and gripe and get furious over the stupidest stuff. Just look at all of the people who hate Twilight. Why waste the effort to actively hate something when you can spend that time enjoying things you like? I don't know about you guys, but I prefer being happy instead of angry.

Especially on this blog, which is on the internet, which is gonna be around until time immemorial. *shrug*

So, speaking of blog topics to avoid, what kind of things don't you like to talk about on your blog? Is there anything you avoid like the plague? Or do you think I'm just being ridiculous . . . or even, dare I say, inappropriate? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo as an extended free-write

In the last two years I have completed my NaNoWriMo word goal really quickly (13 and 15 days respectively). Yeah, I've become one of those insane people that finishes early. *shrug* What can I say? I draft quick.

However, I must admit, I don't like to think of my NaNo novels as drafts. They're not drafts. They can't be called drafts. They're more like extremely long free-writes.

Let me explain.

When I NaNo, I don't expect anything to be truly publishable. Seriously. It's all drivel. I knowingly re-use metaphors until they're so frequent, it's cliche. I write scenes that clearly have nothing to do with the end goal of the story. I don't worry about anything like plot, and thus, my villains have been known to switch sides.

What I'm trying to say is that it's bad. Super bad.

And this is the point where everyone likes to step in and ask why I don't just spend more time on it then? After all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and if I'm writing crap in 15 days, why not write something classier in 30 days?

Because that's not what I get out of NaNo.

You might think that it's a waste of words and waste of time, but this "extended free-write" of mine is part of the process I've come to embrace. To have that freedom to explore the world of my story, before it's important to nail down plot and character motivations and all of that hard stuff . . . well, that's important to me. The quality doesn't matter, but the act of writing these ideas out does.

Now, maybe I don't end up with anything publishable during NaNo, but when it comes time for the re-write, I understand the story and characters a whole lot more than I would've without my requisite NaNo crap draft. And hey, if my extended free-write can be written super badly in 15 days versus moderately badly in 30, well, I'm cool with that. :)

So how do you guys draft? Is your first draft something that you're proud to call a draft, or do you collect a mess of words and ideas like I do? Have you ever taken a NaNo draft and perfected it? Or, if you're working on a NaNo novel right now, are you spending the time to make sure everything meshes? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just a placeholder

Taking a break today. See you guys on Wednesday. But if you need something to do, take a gander at the pretty pictures I've amassed on Tumblr. They're, uhh, pretty. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I wrote for NaNo

Despite getting my 50,000 for NaNoWriMo and supposedly getting rid of all the stress that goes with that, I'm somehow still ridiculously un-organized. So I figured I'd tell you a little about the "story" I wrote in 15 days:

My NaNo was a YA fantasy about swords and magical bloodlines and wil-o-wisp ghosts. It's a story about finding out that it's okay to suck at life because everyone's good at something, even if they haven't found it yet. There's a ruling family that's been made cruel with power, and a lot of people (including members of this family) have suffered for it. Also, a wyrm makes an appearance.

The main character is Gareth and despite being an orphan trained for the military, he wasn't very good with swords or fighting or anything until he found a "God Sword" with his childhood friend Laramie. Unfortunately, he's the only one who can even touch the God Sword without getting burned, so it goes to his head a little. Also doesn't help that the sword makes him awesome.

Laramie is the badass girl who (to my shame) hasn't gotten as much character development as she deserves. She likes fighting with swords, is a bit quick to pity people, and is a little freaked out by Rey.

Rey is a prince and a secondary character, though I'm pretty sure that he would prefer to be the main character, if not share the role with Gareth. *rolls eyes* Luckily they have a mysterious bond which will likely make this possible in the real First Draft. He's got baggage and prefers to fight with distance weapons like spears and throwing knives.

The last of our group is Hiram, who is Rey's older brother by two years. Hiram is a golden retriever. He's the kind of person who's cheerful and nice to be around, but manages to subtly insult people without realizing it. However, Hiram is also rather protective, so if someone else is going about insulting his friends/bros, he becomes all-out defensive.

And that's about it since there's, uhh, not much of a plot yet. *shrug* But now that you know more about my NaNo than the WIP I've been working on for the last year (uhh, oops?) . . . tell me, what are you currently writing? Is it something that you can describe better than my mess of a story? Or are you still discovering it as you draft? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

50,000 words

Last night I crossed 50,000 words and became a 2011 NaNoWriMo winner. Then I got Winning Pie:
Victory pie from a fellow wrimo? Why yes!
*throws confetti into the air* It was all rather exciting. And delicious.

Anyway, now for some fun stuff, as I can't help but create a Wordle and throw some stats at you (like I did last time I felt prolific):

Pfft, from this Wordle you might think Rey's the main character. FYI: He's not.
Working Title: EPIC
Genre: YA Fantasy
Total Word Count: 50,225
Completed Manuscript: Hahahahaha . . . no. This was definitely more of an extended free-write than anything resembling a fleshed out story. Should be fun to re-write though. :)
Different Point-of-Views: 4
Days Worked On: 15
Awesome Songs That Helped: Heartlines by Florence + the Machine and Save Me by Royal Bliss. Yes, I listened to single tracks on repeat a lot.

And there we go. I wrote a lot and it was mostly a mess. Of course, that's part of my process . . . maybe I'll talk about it sometime. :) Until then, how are my fellow wrimos doing? Do you have a special victory event planned once you hit 50,000 words? Any pie in your future? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some of my favorite things

You all know I like NaNoWriMo. It's not like I've been subtle. So today I'll be a little more specific.
For me, NaNoWriMo is all about challenging myself. And collecting little plastic soldiers and knights. Meeting new people. Weekly write-ins at Shari's and The Villa and the library. Encouragement en masse. Competing with other people's word counts. Lemon sour cream pie. Commemorative t-shirts. Word sprints. 50,000+ words. Silly webcam settings. The inspirational stickers. Chatting on Twitter. Complaining on Twitter. Super productive weekends. Discovering a new story. Writing, writing, and writing some more. Wonderful MLs. Google+ hangouts. Talking about stories. And, ultimately, the purple winner bars!

So are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what are some of your favorite things about it? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A few quick ramblings

Today's 11/11/11! Yay exciting number combinations!

Anyway, my internet service has is rotting in a corner somewhere and I've lost the ability to do anything productive past NaNo. Fantastic. On a more positive note, I've written 35,000 words in the last ten days. *thumbs up* Now, here, go watch another NaNo video while I pass out for a few hours:

I particularly enjoy the back-and-forth between the girl and the three guys. Also the montage with all of the people glaring petulantly at their computers. Moving on. How are you guys doing? Up to anything exciting? Writing a lot? Missing sleep a lot? Tell me in the comments

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Social writing is bizarre

One of the strangest things about NaNoWriMo* is the fact that it takes writing, an activity that is widely considered to be very solitary, and makes it social.

Super social.

What do I mean by this? Well, NaNo is many things. One of those things involves a lot of sitting in the same room with a bunch of people and NOT talking until the latest word sprint is over. There is intensive writing going on . . . en masse. To an outsider, it probably comes off as very creepy. Hilariously enough, I didn't consider this when I told you all to do it via video chat on Monday.

Anyway, some of you might argue that writing isn't completely solitary. And you're sort of correct. There are word sprint challenges on Twitter . . . well, there are a lot of awesome writerly things on Twitter. But these kinds of things still involve you yourself being alone in a room. Or alone at a table in a coffee house. Or even alone in your head as you children through legos at each other in the next room. Whatever.

Okay, well what about writing groups? Hmm, Sarah, what about those? Well, uhh, in my (admittedly limited) experience most writing groups are about sharing work instead of composing it on the spot. But I could be wrong here.

Either way! What I'm really getting at is this: Social writing is kind of weird and I want to know what you guys think about it.

So, distracting or encouraging? Do you like how it openly involves casual writers, or do you prefer to strictly converse with hardcore writers? Is social writing good for new writers, or does it create unrealistic expectations? Tell me what you think in the comments!

*An Aside: Apparently I'm never going to shut up about NaNo. Sorry. Only not.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hanging out on Google+


They are awesome. They are a combination of magic and sparkles and productivity. Or, well, maybe they're more like extreme ridiculousness combined with focused productivity. Either way, they rock because not only do you get to bond with other writers, but you also get some work done.

Unfortunately not all of us can host or attend a write-in. But that is what the internet is for!

Several months ago, Google+ entered the world and we all went crazy about it. Then everyone stopped caring because G+ is just another form of Facebook . . . and at this point it's just easier to hit up Facebook for those social networking needs. However, G+ has a feature that Facebook doesn't have: Hangouts.

What are Hangouts? Think video conferencing without having to actually pay for a program. *cough*Skype*cough* It's a little buggy right now, but it's a fantastic way to get a bunch of people together and write.

Maybe a video conference write-in sounds odd, but my local NaNoWriMo group has been doing this every night we don't have an officially scheduled write-in. Yes, we like each other's company far too much . . . but it has been pretty awesome. Trust me on this. And then think about hanging out with some people the next time you need a writing buddy.

So had any of you even heard of this Google+ feature before now? If so, have you had the pleasure of going to a hangout? What were you doing there? Just chatting, or something more productive? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When should you give up on a story?

I started NaNoWriMo this year with a story about selkies. It was going to be a paranormal something or other with family drama and, of course, lots of the ocean. I had two pretty sweet opening lines . . . and then I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't have any passion for the idea as a whole. I wrote 428 words and decided that I hated my story.

So I decided to write something different.

A lot of people will tell you to push through those kinds of blocks. They'll tell you to ignore the shiny new idea, and 99% of the time, that is the advice you should follow. Today I'm going to tell you about that elusive 1%.

When you're writing, you should always be writing something you love. I'm not talking about the quality of the writing or turning off your inner editor, I'm talking about the idea itself. Because if you love your idea and the potential behind it, you can write some horrible stuff and still be happy. If not, well, you'll struggle for every word and you'll bleed for every new plot point.

If your writing is a nightmare, try evaluating your story. Is it the kind of story that you have passion for? If so, is it an idea that maybe needs to marinate for a while? And are you forcing yourself to write something that you don't love? These questions are important, especially when it comes to your writerly morale.

Have any of you ever dropped a novel idea that just wasn't working? I, uhh, kind of has a history of it. Anyway, if you're participating in NaNo, what are you writing and why do you love that idea? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Book Roundup

Book Roundup time!

If you're new to the process, here's the book roundup lowdown: At the beginning of each month I do Twitter-length reviews of the books I read during the month prior. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites are marked with a star ().

Pretty easy, right? So let's get to the meaty bits already:

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi
Manga--Usagi is the guardian of justice--Sailor Moon! Typical magical girl storyline, but this "renewal edition" rocks despite some awkward translations.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
YA Paranormal Romance--Conclusion of The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Still full of fantastic character voices and a romance that doesn't make you want to gag.

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
YA Steampunk--Final Leviathan installment. Barking spiders, this book rocks. Clankers, beasties, history, romance, perspicacious lorises! Such a fitting end. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
YA Historical Fiction--Munich, Nazis, and a girl who steals books--all deliciously narrated by Death. This story made me bawl, which never happens. Just go read this. 

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio (illustrations by Scott Campbell)
Picture Book--Mortimer the zombie is looking for love. This is pretty much the cutest thing EVER, and the illustrations are fantastic. Worms = adorable! 

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
YA Urban Fantasy--Ashline is reincarnated goddess and her sister is a psychopath. THIS is how you write a pantheon story! Also, second person narration FTW.

Flash Burnout by LK Madigan
YA Fiction--Blake is caught between the girl who loves him and the girl who needs him. STRONG. MALE. TEENAGE. VOICE. The kind of voice that keeps you reading.

October was a fun month for me. :) Was it fun for you guys? Read anything fun or wonderful? Or have you had the joy of reading any of the books that I read? Tell me in the comments.