NaNoWriMo is COMPLETE

And I managed to win! It was looking kind of sketchy for a few days there, but I wrote over 50,000 words in one month.

You can definitely see when that third week slump hit. I didn’t even go anywhere for Thanksgiving, and I still  managed to write almost nothing that whole weekend. Shame one me.

So next, I’ll take a break from the story and then come back in a month or so to start editing and fleshing it out a bit more and sending it off to friends for suggestions. I really do like the story I ended up with, so I’m hoping to go somewhere with it. It’s a nice little YA, and was a lot of fun to write. Though also very hard, as all first drafts are. My internal editor never wants to told to shut up, so November is a real exercise in self control.

One of the prizes for finishing is getting five printed copies of your book in print from CreateSpace if you buy a proof, and I’m trying to decide what to do with that. I might use it for the book I’m currently shopping around just because that would be fun. I’ve let my winner rewards expire every other time I’ve won NaNo, and I don’t want to do that this year.

Oh, except for Scrivener. I did use the half off discount because I looove that program. So great for keeping everything organized and all in one place.

So! Congrats to all the winners, and even if you didn’t win, if you wrote even a hundred words, you’re further off than you were when you started! Go eat some pizza.

Homemade Caramel Apple Spice

So I’m about 6k words behind on NaNoWriMo, but I’m not too worried just yet, because I’ve had several 3k-4k days this month and if I focus, I can knock that out. And yes the widget in the sidebar is broken, but I don’t know why. The wordcount is accurate, though.

Instead, I’d like to share with you my beautiful discovery. Making a Starbucks’ Caramel Apple Spice at home. From scratch.

I don’t know what it is about November and December, but all I want to do is bake and cook, and this leads to all sorts of new experiments with recipes I found on the internet. This particular one turned out so well that I just have to share it.

The recipe for the drink itself comes from this site plus what I remember from when I worked there for a summer six years ago.

INGREDIENTS

Apple juice
Cinnamon Dolce Syrup *
Whipped Cream
Caramel Sauce

DIRECTIONS

Add your syrup to your juice, according to your preference. Roughly 6 Tbs (3 pumps if you’re fancy and have a pump) for 12 oz (1.5 cups) is the ratio Starbucks uses, but if you like it sweet, add more. Heat using your method of choice (I have a little cocoa latte machine).

Pour a little of the caramel sauce at the bottom of the cup, then fill with the cider. Add a layer of whipped cream and drizzle with a bit more caramel sauce in a swirl pattern.

 

*You can buy the syrup from Starbucks and sometimes Target, but I live in a land where I couldn’t get any. So I made my own using this recipe:

INGREDIENTS

* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (imitiation vanilla worked just as well for me)
* 1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir in vanilla extract and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Continue to boil and stir until mixture thickens to syrup consistency. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

Enjoy!

The Internet is Made of Cats

If you weren’t already convinced that the internet is made of cats, here’s another NaNoWriMo writing tool to seal the deal: Written? Kitten!

It’s pretty much exactly what you would expect. Type a certain amount of words in the word box, and when you reach your goal, you get a picture of an adorable kitten! You can set the goal to 100, 200, 500, or 1,000 words. I like to set it at 100 because I like adorable kittens.

And on another happy note, I reached 25,000 words today!  I’m rather excited about this, though I have no idea where I’m going next. I’ve written pretty much every part I had planned already, so now I get to mess with side plots and random scenes that only maybe have anything to do with the rest of the story.

Good times, I tell you. Good times.

NaNoWriMo – Getting to Halfway

In my opinion, reaching that 25,000 word mark is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo. Once you’ve reached that part, you’re halfway done. You know that you can write 25k, all you have to do is do it again. Plus, hopefully by this point you have your characters sorted out and some idea of what your plot is doing.

However, I’m struggling. I’m at 20k right now and can’t seem to get past it. I haven’t written anything for two days, as my handy little calendar widget on the sidebar will inform you, and I’m stuck in a plot. I know Point A and have and idea of Point B, but can’t seem to draw the line between the two. Also my inner editor won’t shut up.

Instead, I’ve been procrastinating like mad on tumblr, facebook, pintrest, the new Hunger Games trailer (which oh my gosh, you guys, this movie is going to be amazing), and the NaNo forums. I need to turn off the internet.

In other, actually helpful news, I found this little nugget, a writing cheat sheet, which will be really helpful in the future:

“Plots are covered on page 1, characters on page 2, and lots of tips to fill the whitespace. I created this just before NaNoWriMo 2011, to combine all my notes on writing and storytelling. It fits all on a double-sided A4 sheet, which you can keep in your back pocket. I hope you find it useful. Originally it was based on the cheatsheets at Inklicious.”

So hopefully other people find that as helpful as I do. Good luck getting to 25k!

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Report – Self Control is a Thing I Need.

The first week of NaNoWriMo is all but over. And I’m actually on track! I’ve broken 10,00 words. It’s kind of a miracle, given that I’ve had the attention span of a goldfish on a Halloween sugar rush this past week. The key for me has been going to the write-ins.

For those who don’t know what a write-in is, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like. You get together in a group and write. For about two hours. I’ve found I’m much more like to get something done if I know other people are writing and are thinking I’m writing. I’m kind of competitive like that.

However, I can’t go to write-ins everyday (though that would be awesome) and I know a lot of people can’t go to them at all.

So my second piece of advice is to turn off the internet. I KNOW it’s hard. But it will be there when you’re done. Probably. I recently read a post by Maureen Johnson about turning the internet off and she also mentioned this program that will turn it off for you so you can’t cheat! It’s called Self Control and it’s totally free to download for those of you who don’t have it, pun totally intended. I’m definitely going to be trying it out. Because I know that I do not have it when it comes to the internet and all the things that happen.

Now we’re going into the second week, and I’m a bit anxious. This first week was already kind of tough. I’ve been doing a bit more word padding than I’m comfortable with, but it’s ok because it’s a first draft and it’s allowed to suck!

NaNoWriMo Day One Liveblog

Today marks the first day of NaNoWriMo – Nation Novel Writing Month wherein thousands of aspiring writers try to pound out 50,000 words in one month. That’s a lot of words. This is my fifth year of NaNo, and I figured I might as well start out with a liveblog, because those are always entertaining.

12:01 am – Totally asleep from sugar crash. Thanks, candy.

7:00 am-ish – Wake up because it’s too cold and someone (me) turned the heater off yesterday and forgot to turn it back on. Fix that and go back to sleep.

8:35 am – Decide it’s a good enough time to wake up.

8:45 am – Eat some poptarts and putter around on the internet.

9:00 am – Try to bargain with self – I get to go see Ally Condie tonight if I meet my daily goal. Despair at the thought of driving in the rain. Go on facebook.

9:15 am – Eat some leftover sugar cookies. Continue to internet

9:45 am – Think about starting to write. Realize I don’t have an outline this year. Consider writing on totally different plot bunny than originally intended. Minor mental breakdown. Go on tumblr instead.

10:30 am – Remember How I Met Your Mother was on last night. Watch. Love Neil Patrick Harris.

11:00 am – Decide to do this live post in the hopes that it will motivate me to get started.

11:06 am – Still can’t decide which plot to pursue. Decide that I really am an outliner and was dumb to try this seat of your pants thing.

General Emotional State:

I will continue to update throughout the day. If you want to offer encouragement, you can talk to me on twitter (username: mylaurel) or add me on the NaNo site to mock me with your own wordcount (also mylaurel).

11:55 am – Scrivener is open. Music is playing. Words are not happening.

12:33 pm – Finally start writing. 124 words

1:00 pm – 438 words. Slightly worried about meeting goal before needing to go to Salt Lake tonight. But at least I’m making progress. Will probably stop for lunch at the end of this scene.

1:30 pm – 1008 words! Halfway to my goal. Break for lunch and hit update.

General Emotional State:

Hungry hungry hungry.

2:01 pm – Back to work.

2:20 pm – Stuck stuck stuck. Finding myself easily distracted by the twitter machine. Wondering if I made the wrong decision on which plot to pursue. 1085 words.

3:01 pm – Yay! Somehow I reached my daily goal. Might try for a little bit more since this scene could keep going. But yay this means I can go to SLC tonight, which means I have some errands to run before then. 1677 words.

General Emotional State:

I’ll be back at the end of the day-ish with more.

5:00 pm – Make dinner and do stuff.

5:50 pm – Realize I need to leave to get to SLC in time.

6:00 pm – IT IS SNOWING. Have second thoughts. Almost turn around right then.

6:10 pm – Persevere. Finish filling my car up with gas and try to find my destination in my GPS. Fail. Get frustrated and go home to get the address.

6:20 pm – Find it. Realize I will get there late. Give up and decide to go see her at another signing IN my city and not 45 minutes away (assuming there’s no construction – HA) on the 12th.

6:33 pm – Put in The Office in an effort to keep me entertained while I plot out my outline.

6:36 pm – This plan is doomed to fail.

General Emotional State:

Fight or Flight or Curl Into a Little Ball

I went to a Haunted House last night, specifically, Nightmare on 13th Street. I went with a group of people I’d only just met, and I’m sure I made a fantastic impression on them. Yep. They will never talk to me again.

Obviously, people react differently when frightened, and I’m sure you’ve heard of the fight or flight response. I don’t do either. If something jumps out at me or there a loud noise or a zombie about to chomp on my face, I hit the floor. Duck and Cover is my mantra. Nothing will get through the impenetrable shield of my arms over my head.

However, one of the girls I went with and whose arm I clung to… she’s flight all the way.

You can imagine this is not a good combination.

There was one particular room I remember where you walk in and it’s all slanted and someone jumps out at you from the center. My arm-clingee was off like a rocket and out the door and I fell down trying to flinch back away from the threat. And since I was at the back of our group, that left me alone, which freaked me out more and I had to chase them down. Which is not a smart idea when the girl was running away from something chasing her in the first place.

But after much screaming and twists and turns we made it through, and I have to say that if you plan on writing anything scary, ever, go through haunted houses. There was a maze that was supposed to be part of the insane asylum/zombie infestation with white sheets speckled in blood every 4 feet, and I was weirdly reminded of a zombie book I’d read. And I thought about how fun that would be to write even though I knew that if this were real life I would be dead in five minutes flat, not fighting my way through a maze (curling into a ball on the floor only makes you a zombie truffle).

Haunts are also a great place to get details to set the mood. Nightmare on 13th was all about the tiny details, from the strobe lights blacking out to rice-maggots on the floor and zombie saliva sprinklers. The characters looked great, too (and by great I mean terrifying) and could really inspire some freaky creatures.

Except maybe the guy with a chainsaw who back away and pointed us to the door when a particularly large guy in our group shouted at him to back the freak off. You don’t want that.