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The Night My Brain Didn’t Write Sober

National Novel Writing Month is, in my opinion, a month for discovery. You discover your limits, your time management proficiency (or lack thereof), your endurance, and your ability to perform under pressure.

Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I found out I have a superpower.

I can type in my sleep.

I’m sure most everyone out there has experienced staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish a paper for school and conked out to find they left a letter smosh on the page the next morning. As it turns out, I can go on typing long after I’ve fallen asleep. And it sorta makes sense! The ideas are a little out in left field, and really disconnected, but the thing that shocked me the most was my grammar and syntax mainly stayed in tact.

I remember just being absolutely exhausted when I sat down to write that night. I had a long day at work and was under a lot of stress, and the last thing I wanted to do was sit and write, but I did it anyway. I remember fading in and out for the first couple of minutes, but there comes a point where I don’t remember anything and just went to bed. I sat down to write the next night and I went back to figure out where I left off, and this is what I found:

After what seemed like ages to Phillian, they entered the village. The houses were crammed close together in an effort to fit more people in the area, but the streets were left larger to allow for a prolific market day. As it so happened, it was market day.

The wide streets were packed with the village inhabitants. While the town didn’t cover a particularly large area, a fair amount of people swarmed the larger streets. Lined in the gutters were stands with colorful canopies filled with goods of all sorts. Brightly patterned fabrics were sold in one stall and watermelons in another. As the blacksmith lead Phillian past the stall full of the green striped fruit, Phillian’s eyes stuck to it a moment longer and he salivated a little bit. The writer mused a little bit as she wrote this. It looks like Phillian’s favorite watermelon is fruit. Vendors traded their goods with neighbors both in hard cash and in services. A watermelon for a bunch of bananas there. A house cleaning service for clean laundry. Several gold and silver pieces for a haunch of deer.

Phillian sturggled with spelling the word sturggled and struggled with keeping up with the blacksmith. The closer to the village green they got, the thicker the crowds were and the more children that ran underfoot. This caused Phillian to flinch both at the noise they made, but also at the seemingly intentional ability they had to tread on his toes as he walked. One watching from far away might say that the childeren’s aim for Phillian’s toes might be merited, as on occasion he allowed his bag to knock one or two particularly rambunctious ones in the head as he walked.

It took a little while to pass through the whole town to get to the green, but while Phillian fully expected them to take a stop there, he was surprised when the burly blacksmith walked right past it, through an alleyway towards the other side of the town. Phillian jogged awkwardly in an an attempt to keep up.

“Where are we going?” He asked the back of the bigger man.

“We are going to the farms.”

“What? Why aren’t we stopping at the green?”

“I have no idea. The writer seems to be sleep writing.”

“What on earth does that mean?”

“It means the story really isn’t going to unfold, but everyone for some reason is going to get a new master.”

“What?” Phillian was very confused. Writer? What was this writer? This was all madness to him…a man of science and all that good stuff.

“We have some fixins to do.”

“Blacksmith, have you been drinking?”

“It’s possible. Now I’m going to beat you up and leave your helpless body in a ditch.”

Phillian crossed his eyes. “You probably shouldn’t do that, because if you do, this will need some major rewriting.”

The blacksmith smiled a kind of cross eyed smile. One eye wandered ina  completely different direction and Phillian wondered if he was hallucinating. It was quite possible. Some of the plants he keeps in his glass house have spores that are lovely to take on walks. They can cause hallucinations and if distilled in the wrong hands can double as an aphrodisiac. Or not, cause that’s kind agross.

You know you silly person? You need some sleep. Phillian said.

The blacksmith thought long and hard about this fact. Yes, as it appears, so I would. Would you like to have a sleepover?

No. NO I wouldn’t. I’m a hermit, remember? There’s a no likey people problem over here and it starts wth the letter P, which also happens to be the letter of the day. I would hate to be the dentist for a dinosoar excavation that came to life. Do you know how much that would suck?

Phillian paused a moment to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow.

Okay. It’s probably to time to throw in the towel. This is not productive at all.

I laughed so hard I cried. It was a little startling to get a view into what my brain does when I’m asleep (and let me tell you, I’m pretty weirded out by it). All I can say is I’m so glad all of this gets filtered out in the day, otherwise, I might be regarded as a drunk or a lunatic, neither of which are actually accurate.

I’m totally keeping all this for my word count.

Happy NaNoing, guys!

ACE

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in A Day In The Life

 

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Week One: Starting is Hard

Whew! First week of NaNoWriMo is over!

So, how did it go? Did you manage to keep up with the word count? By the end of today, you should be reaching the 5,000 word mark. If you aren’t there yet, don’t give up! You can still catch up over the weekend! As you move onto NaNo Week 2, keep in mind the words of Stephen King:

 Keep your chin up NaNos! If you can just push past that inital fear/reluctance/trepidation or whatever it is that prevents you from putting your fingers to the keyboard or pen to the page, you can go great places! I know you can do it! Never stop trying! Write on!!

ACE

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2012 in Writing Events

 

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Happy NaNo’s Eve!

One more day until NaNoWriMo, folks! Other than purchasing your newest version of Scrivener, what else are you doing to prepare for the marathon that will ensue? Are you gutting your work space to make room for new writing supplies? Have you put together the playlist for the long hours you will end up sitting at your desk? Do you have a month’s supply of your favorite beverage? How about them Cadbury’s eggs left over from Easter this year?

I personally don’t have any Cadbury’s eggs left over from Easter (I have no self control in that area), but I, too am working through my own initiation sequences.

For starters, I’m stocking up on paper. This is going to sound like writing suicide, but I’m going to draft in notebooks this year. I’ve always found it easier for me to generate crappy writing when I’m holding the good ol’ trusty pen. It’s almost like that one friend who doesn’t judge you for your mistakes.

I’m also psyching myself into it. In The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she mentions a tool for motivation called affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements about oneself like “I am an amazing writer”, or “I can write a novel in a month”. Find that affirmation that works for you. I’ve been telling myself, “It will only take an hour to write 2,000 words a night” and “You can do this” for the past three weeks now, and I’m starting to believe it.

I’m currently writing up a synopsis of where I want to visit over the course of the month. For me, writing an outline gives me a good idea what sites I would like to visit and what scenes I feel would be appropriate. Usually, I write by the seat of my pants, but I tend to get stuck when I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I can type/write a little faster this way. Note benne: Outlines are not set in stone. They are meant to be slashed apart and loosely followed. As Captain Barbossa says: “[They are] more of what you would call “guidelines” than actual rules.”

To go along with the outline, I’ve also begun sculpting my characters. I realize this sounds a little weird, but for one, it is very therapeutic to massage clay, and by creating my characters I am being productive. Plus, it helps assist in visualization. Plus, plus, if you use the polymer baking clay–KABAM. Homemade action figures to act out scenes with. I’ve found that this exercise gets me all excited to write about the characters and brings them to life, in a sense.

For the past month, I’ve been putting together a playlist of songs that I consider to be the soundtrack to the story. It’s actually been quite fun. I ended up reopening my Pandora account and started a station including the genre of music I needed. I gave the generator a couple artists that I knew fit the tone and as the station gave me new songs to listen to I liked, disliked and added new artists to the station as I discovered them. The result? A working soundtrack. I’m at the point where I’ve begun purchasing songs on iTunes and adding the clear winners to a Youtube playlist for when WiFi is available in my writing environment.

The last thing I’m doing is creating a game plan for writing. My goal is to write 2,000 words per day, and having two jobs and full time school takes up a lot of my time. I mapped out my schedule in Google Calendars so I can visualize exactly how many hours out of 24 I can dedicate to drafting.

Well, that about sums it up for me. It’s time for me to hit that outline again and see if I can get it finished!

Live long and write happy!

ACE

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Writing Events

 

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NaNoWriMo: Pre-Season Prep

Calling all NaNo’s! It’s the middle of October, and it’s time to start gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month! To celebrate, Literature and Latte is putting out a special trial version of their amazing Scrivener software!

For all those who have not tried Scrivener, I just gotta say, it is the best writing program I have ever used. It’s perfect for all kinds of writing–screenwriting, large reports, noveling 😀 :D, you name it! It has tons of organizational goodies like note cards, cork boards, keyword database searches, multi-level folder and binder organization and color coding.

I absolutely love my Scrivener. I don’t know where I would be without it. It helps me keep my photos, my notes, and my research organized in one place. No more notebooks stuffed in cereal boxes and files filled with random paper scraps for me.

One of the features I particularly like about Scrivener is the full screen writing mode. It allows you to open up a distraction-free window where you can sit and type continuously. I love it when I’m trying to compose in the mornings because that’s when I tend to get the most distracted. You can choose how light or dark you want the background to be, set target word counts, create keywords and your cursor doesn’t leave the center of the page as you type. 

This program is awesome for writers of all abilities. The NaNoWriMo 2012 Scrivener trial lasts for all of November up until December 7th to give you time to complete the revisions you would like to. If you love the program enough to buy it following NaNoWriMo, all participants can receive a 20% off discount. But if you win this year, you get 50% off! How is that for incentive?

It’s time to get writing!

ACE

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Writing Events

 

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The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land by Diana Wynne Jones

Here is one of my favorite cliché checkers. Diana Wynne Jones put together this magnificent and quite entertaining guide for the world of Fantasy. She has gone through, defined and commented on every aspect of Fantasy that needs to need to be considered when writing the genre. For all those who are very familiar with all the aspects of this type of writing, it’s quite a hilarious read and very useful to help keep your writing fresh in a very pervasive genre.

It’s written a bit like an encyclopedia with picture coding, cross references and sections headed with quotes from Gnomic Utterances that poke fun of the various made up literary references that head chapters of many fantasy novels ( Example: “Doras II was somewhat an absent minded king. It is said that when Death came to summon him, Doras granted Death the usual formal audience and then dismissed him from  his presence. Death was too embarrassed to return until many years later. –Ka’a Orto’o, Gnomic Utterances, LIV iii (Jones 49).

One of my favorite entries from this book is the one on Princesses, because I have found many fantasy novels contain one of these two types:

PRINCESSES come in two main kinds:

1. Wimps

2. Spirited and willful. A spirited Princess will be detectable by the scattering of freckles across the bridge of her somewhat tiptilted nose (OMT). Spirited Princesses will often disguise themselves as boys and invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms (See PRINCES)” (Jones 150).

All of the entries follow this format and tone to help readers better identify and spice up overdone aspects of Fantasy, and lemmie tell ya, it made finding my own clichés a lot easier!

Happy reading!

ACE

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Character Withdrawls

I’d like to dedicate this post to my characters Adam Johnson and Mike Michaelson, two important people in my life that I have neglected for the past three months. I feel like a horrible person.

Getting back into my writing groove following my Study Abroad in France and the commencement of Fall Semester has been like pulling teeth. With an extra heavy schedule this go around, it’s been hard to find that time to write when sleep is so hard to come by. I realized that I’m going to have to fit writing into the cracks and break down the writing block that has accumulated over the past few months.

The past two weeks I’ve made some made some beat-around-the-bush attempts to get back into writing without actually doing any writing: reviewing notes, sculpting characters, that sort of thing. These things certainly have their merits–visualization and review are essential during the writing process. But I discovered I was missing the point.

The point of writing is to write.

I came to this realization as I began a new job last week. I went from having a manual labor at a dry cleaners to a receptionist job where I sit at a desk and get paid to staple things, unstaple things, organize things, answer the phone, and have free time. One night in particular, I was tired of battling through my homework and decided I was going to back through to read everything I had written in Disconnect thus far. I got bored of rereading the first chapter for the MILLIONTH time and skipped to the end of the most recent chapter I wrote.

What met my eyes was an exchange between Adam and Mike that I had completely forgotten about. It was one of the many arguments the two protagonists get into on a regular basis, and this one struck me as particularly funny due to the large amount of foam shot up one of Mike’s nostrils. All of the sudden I remembered how much I loved the dynamic of their relationship. I realized how much I missed Adam’s manipulation and Mike’s comedic retorts, and I needed to get back to writing soon.

Admittedly, I still haven’t done any serious writing since this event, but I’ve at least begun drafting conversations and situations between the two friends in my journal. Finding time in my schedule that still allows for sleep has been difficult, but I’m sure I can find room somewhere in my schedule. Mike and Adam are worth it.

ACE

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in On Writing

 

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Disconnect Excerpt 2

Just to give a little context to this excerpt, Adam and Mike are attending an end-of-finals party in Virtual Reality (or Virtual Conferencing, as I refer to it) for an exclusive club called the Elitists. This picks up right after they arrive at HotSpot, a popular social networking “site” on the Mainframe. –ACE

Mike plopped himself down and leaned to Adam. “Stop making goo-goo eyes at her.”

“What?”

“You’re drooling all over the table man.”

Adam tore his eyes from Vonya to glare at Mike. “You’re not funny.”

He held his hands up. “Just sayin’ you’re being really obvious about having the hots for Fynn’s girlfriend.”

“Shut up; you don’t know anything—”

An enormous sausage of a tentacle slammed into the table in front of Adam, nearly knocking over the whole table. He jolted and yelled, falling out of his chair. A large ruddy face peered at him from around his now vacated chair. One half of the face was encased in a network of wires and metal plating that whirred and blinked. “Haha whoopsie. Scared ya.”

“Watch it Arnold. You almost spilled my download.” The female avatar to Adam’s left scowled, clutching her glass and trying to steady the table at the same time.

“Oh, sorry. Hey anyway…brought you your faaavorite download A’dm. Right here for ya.” He jabbed at the table with the tip of his tentacle. The lone sucker on the end made a wet kissing sound as it attached and detached from the table. In his other hand, he gripped an empty glass tightly with all eight fingers and set it solidly on the table. Arnold released the glass, his eyes widening. The camera lenses creating his eye slid back and forth as he focused on the bottom of the glass. “Hey…where’d the Brin go?”

Regaining his feet, Adam straightened his jacket and tie, disgusted.

“Get lost Arnold. I’ll order my own drink.”

Arnold blinked, confused. He looked back down at the glass. “D’j’you drink all the Brin already?”

“No I didn’t, idiot. Why would I have a Brin when I could get a Page?” Heat rose in Adam’s chest. He turned to the rest of the avatars at the table. “Who let him get overloaded? He shouldn’t be overloaded.”

“Calm down man. He’s only trying to help—” Mike tried pulling Adam back into his chair. Adam ignored him.

“Why do we even keep him around?” He jerked his thumb at the blinking cyborg-octopus.

“For the same reason we keep you around—he’s a genius,” Fynn interjected. “Now get a hold on yourself and sit down. You too Arnold.”

Fynn steepled his fingers for a moment, waiting. Adam slowly sank into his chair, still fuming. As soon as Arnold made his way back to his own chair, Fynn spread his arms wide. “Now that’s settled we can get started. As you all are very well aware, we have reached the end of another testing cycle. Tomorrow you will all receive your scores, and for those graduating, the statistics that will carry you to graduate level and decide your career. As such, each one of these contains 1,000 credits to spend as you like.” Fynn put a thumb and forefinger together then drew them apart. A gold card embellished with purple and black lettering grew between his fingers, rotating in the air a moment before descending into Fynn’s open palm. He pinched the back of the card, pulling up and the card duplicated to fill the space. “Keep in mind they expire at the end of your V-Con session and that Commencement starts at 10.00 hours sharp for Graduates.”

With a flick to the rear of the stack, the cards zipped to each avatar surrounding the table. Adam snatched his out of the air, pulling his suit sleeve up in a swift movement and placed the card on the underside of his wrist. He watched the card liquefy and sink into his skin. A faint tingle spread through his forearm as the credits loaded onto his signature; he heard the sound of children yelling “Hooray!” and a bright purple “+1,000 C” exploded off his wrist in bubble letters, spraying the table with confetti. Adam’s hands shook, fingers aching as he pulled down his sleeve.

A chat notification appeared on his screen; Adam smiled as he read it.

Vonya: Meet you in Sector 12 at 22.00. Come alone 🙂 21.20.00 hrs.

Before he could reply, Mike slapped Adam on the back, almost knocking his forehead into the table. “Come on Adam; let’s catch a round of Code Bender in that arcade over there.”

“Don’t touch me.” Adam growled.

“Lighten up already.”

Adam took a deep breath and followed Mike out of the privacy bubble into the chaos of the club, formulating a plan to lose him.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Writing Excerpts

 

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Research Can Be Fun!

For most people, the word “research” is a swear word. Those who have written research papers (or any kind of academic paper for that matter) know how painful research can be. But I am here to tell you that as my title states, research can be fun!

One of the things I have been really focusing on over the past couple weeks with my writing is doing research on things that would help enhance the worlds I’m building and make them more real. I’m the type of person who loves to read things that have that faint touch of reality; I try to write that way as well. But in return, that means I need to do a lot of research on those things I don’t know about. I probably haven’t won you over yet, but bear with me.

The fun part of research comes in when you are looking up things you are actually interested in, for example, your book. My story temporarily called Disconnect takes place in a futuristic society completely integrated with computers. They are so essential to their function in daily life that the computers themselves are implanted in everyone’s brains and their social life/human interaction take place entirely in virtual reality. Now, because I am dealing with a society of this nature and I’m no computer geek, I have to make sure I’m getting my research done.

For example, on the Internet I’ve created (called the Mainframe) everything takes on a physical representation. Websites show up as businesses with advertisements and buildings that people can interact with. Because computers and computer viruses, worms, spyware, and malware are synonymous I have to do research on them to figure out their functions so I can give them the appropriate physical representation when my characters run into them throughout the story. It’s been really interesting to go through and read about all the different types of viruses a computer can contract like Trojans, ILOVEYOU viruses, and other things. Quite honestly, it’s made me a little paranoid.

I’ve also been experimenting with the interaction that my characters have with this internet I created. I realized it is so large and expanding so fast that there is no way these characters would be able to find their favorite “sites”. I needed to put an address to each place on the Mainframe, soI spent one of my daily writing sessions researching the Domain Name System, how it works, what makes a domain and a subdomain and all that jazz. At the end of the session I ended up with a URL system that directly parallels our own, is different, and allows the characters to find the places they like to frequent.

Additionally, I’m dealing a little bit with hacking because my main character is a genius computer hacker. One of my good friends knows a lot about hacking, and I’ve sat down and talked to him about all the different types of hacking one can do, the way they work, and the weaknesses and strengths of each method. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’d like to learn some tricks myself to get the feel of what hacking feels like, so to speak.

As an example not related to Disconnect,  for my novel Legend I am dealing with a lot of sword fighting, battle styles, armor, weapons and an extensive amount of geography, all of which I have only a limited knowledge on. The research for this book has been admittedly more fun than for Disconnect because it forces me to get out there and experience things. I’ve another friend who is big into weapons and fighting styles, and he’s offered to give me lessons on how to use different knives and bows. It’s been so interesting to go look at the different weapon types and to learn about their different functions so that I can create my own weapons system for Legend.

See, the idea here is that you write about something that really interests you, otherwise you wouldn’t write it, right? The fun in research comes when you want to do it and genuinely desire to know more about whatever it is you’re researching. Research helps give you credibility to your readers, because they’ll believe that you actually know what you are talking about, and the great thing is you do!

Please keep in mind to make sure you are doing the right kind of research. It’s really hard to filter out the stuff that will help you and the stuff that just gets in the way. It’s like those annoying story problems in math class; you have to filter out the useless junk. There is a plethora of databases you can go to–libraries, bookstores, neighbors, friends–but really you don’t need to consult them all. Thoreau put it quite nicely when he said “It is necessary to find out exactly what books to read on a given subject. Though there may be a thousand books written upon it, it is only important to read three or four; they will contain all that is essential, and a few pages will show which they are.” The same goes for outside resources. You only need to know enough to be able to sound like you know what you are doing.

Alrighty I sure hope this helps all of you out there! My apologies for my extended silence, but good news! Disconnect is a few pages longer!

Happy writing!

ACE

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in On Writing

 

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