Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Last Post of the Year

I know many of you are already done welcoming in the new year. Here in LA it’s still mere minutes away. I want to take the time to make my last post of 2011, but not the last post of this blog if all goes well in 2012. What does go well mean? Better than this year.

Some things I’ve accomplished include:

Winning February Album Writing Month. I’ve got at least one song revised to the point where it’s “finished” and only needs to be rehearsed and recorded.

Becoming an Imagineer. I’ve talked about attaining this goal since I was in college. I never imagined it happening so soon and the way it did, but I am happy and thankful that one worked out.

Completing the official entire Nautica Malibu Triathlon and within my goal time. Thanks to lots of team, friend, and family support!

Completing my first half marathon within my goal time. I still don’t think of myself as a runner. It’s just something I do a couple times a week now.

Winning National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrimo). ūüôā

Almost finishing the Goodreads Challenge with 28.75 out of 36 30 books read. It’s way more than I would have read had I not been counting so I consider it a win. And now I cannot wait for The Hunger Games movie to come out in March! The trilogy was fantastic.

Finally finishing a crochet project I’d started over 5 years ago.

Better than 2011 is going to be a challenge to beat but I’ve got an inkling that life will find a new way to manage to surprise me– in a good way. I also know better than to set any expectations beyond any hope of attainment (again), at least when it comes to estimating how much spare time I’ll have to read. Anything else is fair game for a learning experience.

Christmas Creativity

This time of year often finds me in a pensive mode. I often set myself up in my room working on one creative project or another. This year was no different. I think I made some good progress but I’m a bit worn down from using parts of my brain I don’t exercise as much as I’d like. I worked on a digital painting which came out pretty rough, as I was repeatedly interrupted and my hands weren’t steady enough to draw lines straight enough with the mouse for my liking.

We don’t have a tree this year due to there being absolutely no room in the house for a sizable one, and also it’s a hazard for both an 18 month old baby with age-appropriate but low spatial navigation skills, and a 7 month old puppy who loves to jump up on things– and people when given the opportunity. We do have multicolored lights up now which I can tell are on by looking at the space between the bottom of my door and the floor.

I spent most of today attempting to read while listening to a bunch of podcasts and music. I got through about 20 pages and realized I wasn’t absorbing anything so I put that down and crocheted a scarf that I started over five years ago. In five years I managed to crochet about 7 or 8 inches of it. As of 9:30PM tonight it’s a full-fledged, wearable scarf in a deep crimson monochrome color. I plan to give it to a family member for Christmas. I hope it’s well received. It definitely looks homemade in places.

Anyway, enough about my corner of the world. Go be good to each other.

Merry Christmas!

Writing Humor + Christmas Lights and Art

Writing Humor

Last time I shared a few writing apps. I’m back, now, with some funny grammar. I got these from NaNoWriMo users “hockeygoon” and “amaranth” on that site forum.

1. A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

2. A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.

3. A question mark walks into a bar?

4. Two quotation marks ‚Äúwalk into‚ÄĚ a bar.

5. A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to drink.

6. The bar was walked into by the passive voice.

7. Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.

8. A split infinitive began to confidently walk into the bar.

9. A run on sentence walked into a bar, and, spotting a likely looking verb or two, ordered a round of drinks for the house, paid the bartender, chose a song on the jukebox, danced for a measure or two before sitting down and drinking, hoping all the while that his cool had been firmly cemented in the minds of all around him.

10. As the sentence fragment walked into the bar.

Christmas Lights and Art

For LA locals, if you’re not too busy shopping, cooking, eating or volunteering, here are a couple of other fun things to do in town.

Christmas Tree Lane РA bit of a drive for me, but maybe you live closer to Altadena?

Pacific Standard Time РGetty initiative of LA art exhibits from 1945 Р1980 showcased around town.

LA mag’s list of PST showcases – This is a little more informative for specific exhibits than the link above.

Post-NaNo recap: TGIO, writing apps, and how I did

Thank Goodness It’s Over (TGIO)

This weekend I carpooled to Santa Monica for the NaNo LA region’s TGIO party. That was a fun event where the LA region’s Municipal Liaisons (A.k.a. MLs) hosted and congratulated all who showed up for participating. I chatted with others, ate Japanese fast food, and took a group photo. To boot, I even won a nice prize from a raffle.¬†One dark and white chocolate later I was officially ready to start my December, by reading.

The raffle prize I picked up was¬†Wake Up Your Muse: 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers¬†by Jan Christiansen.¬†It’s a short read of 1001 first line prompts of stories you can write. I’ve already noted a few starters that will make for fantastic prompts for me and I can’t wait to use them.

A few gems from the book:
“I didn’t know I had an uncle until I read the obituary.”
“They arrested every girl who had attended the slumber party.”
“She took one look at the handsome doctor and vowed never to eat apples again.”

Writing apps

I have discovered a few apps to help you keep writing. If you use them, may they lead you to lots of productive movement of your progress meters for whatever you choose to write:

750 words¬†– Write a daily quota of 750 words to keep that ingrained habit of writing consistently. Fortunately this is far less than the 1667 words a day required of NaNo’s effort.
Instant Boss
 РThis is meant to micromanage your time spent writing.
OmmWriter РThis one uses pretty colors and sounds in the background while you write. Oh, boy!
Mac Freedom¬†–¬†All the cool writers use this one, apparently.
Write or Die¬†– A place to write to a predetermined goal or else…
Written? Kitten! РA kinder version of Write Or Die, but with KITTEHS!

How did I do?

I accomplished the challenge itself, but as for my personal goal to do this by writing consistently… Well, ¬†I knew from my¬†previous efforts that I could write relatively quickly– over 2K words per hour when in the zone. Just¬†look at¬†the beautiful exponential curve of effort there toward the end on¬†my¬†author page. Those stats don’t lie.

I’m a pantser, meaning that I intended to write this with no outline. This year I decided on a whim to download a¬†writing tool promoted in the NaNo forums called Storyist. This tool made it easy to¬†outline my story’s setting and create a background for each of my characters so I did just that. It helped a bit to know in advance how my characters would act or react in certain situations. Unfortunately, I somehow changed a page layout setting in the program using a keyboard shortcut that I couldn’t figure out how to undo. I finally managed to undo the changed layout setting using the tool menu after about a week. The program was otherwise easy to use and I felt like I was creating a publishable manuscript which was cool.

Leave it to a looming NaNoWriMo deadline for me to get more sleep each night and have cleaner dwelling than I have in all the other months of the year.¬†I knew I wouldn’t let myself get to the point of non-progress where I couldn’t possibly catch up, though mentally, I was much more hare than tortoise.¬†¬†And like the fable it’s true that it wasn’t much fun being anywhere near the point of getting too far behind. Just knowing that I had to write so much quickly just to “catch up” to the daily word count made it harder to get started each day. Fortunately I knew from previous years to expect that feeling and I did not let it stop me from starting.

I learned several other things about my writing over the last month which I may detail later but today I’m gearing up for a trip to my local museum row for a relaxing day away from my computer screen.

December’s blustery beginning

Last Week’s Wacky Windy Weather

dangling street sign

See that road sign? Blame the wind.

I cannot believe it’s already well into December. I must have gotten distracted from the start of the month by the hurricane-level winds in LA last week and the post-novel sprinting haze of not having to write thousands of words each day. Now that I have gotten some rest and I have slightly more time– only slightly– I can explore some of the NaNoWriMo forums and catch up on other conversations that I missed while I was writing last month.

The Santa Anas are usually fairly-pleasant warm winds, notable for unseasonably warm night air with a bit of dryness. We had some Santa Ana action last week and it was NOTHING like that. The wind got all kinds of crazy and intense for a couple days. Simply driving on the freeway was challenging, especially on Wednesday evening. There were leaves, leaves, trash, and more leaves blowing all over the lanes. The next day I saw a lot of tree debris and found out that all school districts in the Pasadena area were closed that day due to the danger that goes along with power outages; things falling on people, exposed wires, and also the hazards all over the roads.

Click the photo and check my Flickr page for a couple more photos of ¬†‘fallen tree across the offramp’ action. These are just a couple of my sightings, but there are loads of photos and stories of the damage by legit reporting sources with warnings of more more windy days to come.

Fortunately, by Saturday– the day of the post-NaNo celebration– ¬†the weather was fine again.¬†More on that to come this week. If you don’t want to miss it just click the “follow” button at the top of this page or enter your email to subscribe in the upper right area to stay current.¬†LA locals, watch out for those fallen trees and wires and stay safe out there.

NaNoWriMo 2011 winner + green apple pie

Greetings from NaNoWriMo. Winner 2011

That's me!

In November I wrote the first draft of a 50,093 word novel. That’s 206 pages (double-spaced). Untitled most of the month, now it’s called¬†The Daily Middle School Chronicles. The synopsis goes like this.¬†A spoonful of comedy and a pinch of tragedy make for an unmistakeable dose of middle school in epic, end-of-the-world, life-ruining proportions. This story is about three friends just trying to survive the eighth grade, and each other.

I had a fun journey through the word count madness, by getting out of the house and writing with people. I want to send a big shout out to my G+ circle– not sure how so many of you posted so often and finished writing your novel– and weekend write-in crew at Panera Breads at the South Bay Pavilion. You all did fantastic jobs of writing, motivating me to write, and plain old being good company in between all those word sprints. I feel the need to mention that I was one of the lucky few to witness the brilliant sheen of two thousand (2000) stickers meant to reward our progress at a write-in. Lots of these stickers featured dinosaurs (a definite bonus).

Aside from being declared a NaNoWriMo winner, this week was also awesome because I had apple pie, which I’d been craving all month long. I had such a big craving that when I randomly spotted some apple pie-flavored gum I bought that, which actually tasted just like apple pie. The real apple pie was better though. Check it out.

Homemade Apple Pie

Homemade Granny Smith Apple Pie. It was as tasty as it looks. mmm...pie.

Coming up: There’s my local “NaNoWriMo: Thank Goodness It’s Over” party this weekend to look forward to, as well as going to bed early slightly earlier because I don’t need to stay up as late to write a novel. Next time I’ll post what I learned from NaNo 2011.

One smoked Thanksgiving turkey, well-rested

Smoked Turkey

One smoked turkey, well-rested = one me, well-fed. That is one good-looking turkey, eh? It was quite tasty too. Here’s my plate of the Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Plate 2011

From left to right¬†Going clockwise starting with the turkey with asparagus on top with gravy on top of that, there’s some mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, stuffing completely hidden under the mashed potatoes, greens, cranberry relish (with orange), and a roll with butter.

Admittedly, this was plate 1 of 2. On the health-conscious side, I didn’t have any dessert AND I got up this morning and ran 3+ miles which I made me feel energetic enough to reach the daily recommended NaNo word count goal by noon.

A writer friend of mine posted 100 things she’s grateful for and I want to do something similar, but I’ll just post 5, because I need to get back to writing other things.

Aside from my family and basic needs being met (food, health, shelter, decent weather, etc) I’m also thankful for:

1. My friends. Each very important to me in a very special way. Some of them know this, but others may not be as aware. I tend not to express this as much as I’d like but I really feel grateful for the true friends I have in my life. I feel like I can reach out to them anytime and they’ll be there to listen, encourage, and make me jealous of the way they’re living out their dreams and aspirations. I feel very blessed to know you.

2. My job. I am glad to be employed at this time of year, but more so because I’ve been able to be a part of so many groups, activities, and events that my company offers, such as the triathlon team and the volunteer opportunities around LA. This past weekend I was able to help out at the LA Regional Food Bank with a group of nearly 150 other volunteers from work, plus their family and friends. It was very cool to see how a few hours of effort could make a difference in the lives of many hungry families in need.

3. Pie. Every time I have a slice it makes my week. Any kind of apple, peach, lemon meringue, key lime… do fruit tarts count as pie? They deliver the same feeling, so those too.

4. My car. The poor thing is 12+ years old now but it’s always been super reliable and for that I’m so grateful, as I save up my pennies here and there, just in case. I’m not one for vehicular complacency.

5. Access to high-speed internet 24/7. Because of this I have the ability to gather so much information for anything I can think of. I’ve learned so much over the last year that I would have otherwise not known, if not for the data connection.

I hope all my fellow Americans who celebrate this day in a spirit of thanks and gratitude have a wonderful Thanksgiving and amazing start to the holiday season!

Now to catch up on the word count for the days of writing I’ve missed. The goal is at least 8k by tomorrow evening.

NaNoWriMo progress update + more pumpkin poetry

NaNo update!

I’m at my usual pace around this time of year. In need-to-get-the-lead-out mode. Trying to pass 10k within the next 24 hours or so.
I’m amused at all of the writers in my G+ NaNoWriMo circle who are stressed out about being a couple thousand words behind. Try being about 10-13k behind! It’s really not the end of the world. Having done this event a few times I have the perspective of it being okay if I get to 50k and it being okay if I don’t, though I plan to finish this challenge. I can probably edit a decent story out of this year’s effort.

Because I want to post this poem before the end of the month, I’ll not hinge it on being current on the linear word count guidelines. Instead I’ll set a goal to make my minimum count needed to not fall behind any further today (about 700 more words for the night) and post the rest of Picking Pumpkins including the first stanza again. Enjoy!

Picking Pumpkins

For rows and rows they stretch
Round in shape, some tall and lean
All shades of orange hues
Anticipating Halloween
Wedged between husks of corn
Listing from side to side
A chilly breeze¬†whips ’round
A truck bed fit for a hay ride

The lanes go around a small cluster
Of dried-up scarecrows
With straw hands and shiny buttons
Guarding the patch and its rows
With benevolent eyes and crafty smiles
They make a fine bunch of bumpkins
Pointing to and lighting the way
To the surrounding pumpkins

Visitors kick hay as they walk
Marking the aisles with their forays
A sign at the entrance reads “Which way?”
Mere steps from a giant corn maze
In a lot corner two people are deciding
Between the big one or the small
“Which to choose? Which to choose?
We cannot take them all.”

They determine the medium-sized ones
Don’t deserve much of their attention
They pass them by with no second thought
Growing hungrier for selection
The first person watches the second
The second one paces around
The best one for their journey home
Is one just right and just round.

The second one passes by
The right one and then it’s time
To hold it up to the light
And free the orange skin of its grime
It is a bigger pumpkin
With a slightly lighter hue
Of orange, enough to be reflective
She says, “Oh, this one will do!”

She pulls a device from her pocket
and opens the camera app
Aims it at the large round orb
And carefully takes a snap
She glances at the other
And shows her still-frame catch
They look at the photo feeling quite pleased
Grabbing hands, they leave the patch

What they both know is
A secret you can’t deny
For the real pumpkin is
The one you choose to let lie
Whatever you take away,
One may surmise
Could become a¬†jack o’lantern or
A couple of spiced, warm pies.

Or it could become a forgotten gift
That may be left to rot
On the doorstep, in a front yard
The one that time forgot
Back to the earth, the squashy flesh
Will fade into rows of pine
And the crowds will come back to seize
A tree from a fake-flocked line.

Next time you find yourself in a patch
Take a photo, take a few
To capture the true essence of autumn
Any hue will do
Be sure to wander to the corners
And around all the bends
Once you decide, leave all as they lie
Now, you’re picking pumpkins.

Writing progress update + mini-book review: Canadian Culinary Road Trip

This week in my spare time I read a book, made progress in a couple others, wrote a story synopsis and a poem, and got caught up on some video lectures for a class. More videos were just posted so I have to catch up all over again which negates my sense of accomplishment on that. Oh well.

In NaNo news I should be writing a lot more; throwing content toward my word count instead of here. The good news is that I am at least writing something. Hopefully the action will get the creativity flowing. With Daylight Saving Time ending tonight I’ll have one more hour in my day to make up the writing debt. Whether I remember to turn my clock back before I sleep is another issue. All those gentle reminders from several punctual and caring social media friends are helping that effort. Thanks, my friends.

As a “reward” for myself, I’ll post my full poem once I catch up on my word count.
LA Local wrimos
How’s your Nano novel coming along? There’s a write-in at the South Bay Pavilion’s Panera Breads on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 4:00PM – 7:00PM.

Here’s the first stanza as a teaser:

Picking Pumpkins

For rows and rows they stretch
Round in shape, some tall and lean
All shades of orange hues
Anticipating Halloween
Wedged between husks of corn
Listing from side to side
A chilly breeze whips ’round
A truck bed¬†fit for a hay ride…

More to come next time.

Mini-book review: Canadian Culinary Road Trip

Canadian Culinary Road TripCanadian Culinary Road Trip by Isabel Fonte

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book a few years ago at a book fair and finally got around to re-reading this as I was looking for some new recipe ideas. This book is a virtual road trip with some wonderful photos of the Canadian landscape along with places of interest with regional recipes from across the country. I’ve tried a couple of the recipes and highly recommend the “cream of carrot soup” and the “rappie pie”- (a sort of Shepherd’s pie) dishes.

View all my reviews

Pumpkins and prose

Happy Halloweenies. Pumpkin season is here.

Just like every year, I’ve been a bit removed from any sort of pumpkin patch photo fun, and I’m guessing the pumpkin patch season’s basically over now. What can I say? I didn’t come from a pumpkin-loving family. Due to a loved one’s allergy to the squash/carving toy pumpkins never found a welcome place in my house while growing up with the exception of those plastic buckets used to hold candy. I’ve gone about my October days normally and when out and about I saw them just about everywhere. However, their presence barely registered in my brain not unlike a vegetarian just passing by the butcher area in the grocery store on the way to the healthful carby aisles.

On the flip-side I do remember having a ball at other people’s houses while attempting to carve one into some artsy candleholder-esque state. Haven’t done that in a few years, but maybe I will again.

My favorite carving I’ve seen this year:¬†pumpkin Fail Whale¬†(click for full size)

pumpkin carving of the Twitter fail whale
Image courtesy Joseph Lee on G+

Geeky Twitter carving, ftw.

Soon the time will arrive for gingerbread and the associated spices and aromas will take over the visual and olfactory landscape, likely at the stroke of midnight tonight. Know what that means? The onset of getting up one glorious hour laterРGood riddance, DST! Sunny mornings except for those November rainy days.  Spending more time in places with the AC off and perhaps instead a little heat emanating across the room. Lattes every day (of the non-expensive variety). Lots of scarf wearing, cranberry flavors, and piping-hot stuffing spilling out of more than a few turkey dishes.

In other news,¬†NaNoWriMo starts in about 2 hours. I have a lofty goal to not have to write over Thanksgiving. Again, that is lofty but I am still looking forward to the challenge. My story genre this year is youth fiction with a bit of humor, some kind of throw down to be had, some other cool stuff, plus a little craziness all mixed together. It’s not too late to sign up if you have ever wanted to write a novel in a month. What do you mean you haven’t ever wanted to do that? Does not compute! Please try (again).

Best efforts to my fellow wrimos! Writing 50,000 words in a month is no easy feat, but remember, though you may be writing your novel alone you are among thousands of writers doing this at the same exact time over the next month.

Fit and Awesome

Running, Outdoors, Gluten Free, and Healthy Living Tips.

WordCamp Los Angeles 2017

September 29, 2017 ‚Äď October 1, 2017

A Panda and a Book

Just me and my literary ramblings.


A little less talk. A lot more doing.

This Expat's Life

I love this place

WordCamp Los Angeles

September 5-7, 2014

Annette Berger

A little less talk. A lot more doing.

MIT Media Lab

Enabling technologies for expression, participation, and understanding.

Don't Call Me Cute

The Continuing Misadvantures of Jenny

nita's books

children's, middle grade, and young adult book reviews and other writing

a potter's pen

A little less talk. A lot more doing.

Transmedia Camp 101

Content Creation, Curation and Distribution in a Web 2.0 World

All the Things

A Journal of Incremental Self-Improvement

Anne Toole, writer

Learnings about writing for multiple media

Digital Pubbing

Exploring the ins and outs of the publishing industry

Not Rich Yet

It's going to happen. Gotta find something to do until then.