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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NaNo November: Panster or Planner?

Are you a fly by the seat of your pants writer or do you carefully outline before writing any words? Almost every author usually has the basic elements formulated before starting a large-scale writing project. The basic elements of any outline include:

1. Title
2. Characters
3. Setting
4. Basic summary

Here is my NaNo Novel Basic Outline Elements:

1. The Day the Computer Stood Still
2. The Computer, The Teacher, The Politician, The "God Complex" Programmer, The Supporting Character, The Dissenters, The String of Embarrassing Ex's
3. Sarasota, FL
4. The federal supercomputer was meant to catch felons but fell in love instead. How can there be peace when humanity's watchdog is surfing dating sites instead of catching criminals?

Perhaps you are more of a planner but are not quite sure how to make an outline. Have you checked out scrivener? It has helpful software tools to organize your writing and help you as you write. There are many other methods, more or less detailed for making a more or less detailed outline. 

Check out the snowflake method by Randy Ingermanson
Or go through this writing exercise, courtesy of Casz of the SnoValley Writes

1. What distinguishes your protagonist from other people
2. What strength does he/she/it have
3. How does this strength get them in trouble
4. In opening action, what is character on the brink of doing?
5. Why do they say they’re going to do this?
6. What does this action represent for the protagonist?
7. What external situation will require protagonist participation throughout the book
8. How does this connect with number two above (when novel opens what is your character on the brink of doing?)
9. Does it help or interfere, can you build in a deadline for extra tension?
10. what is the protagonist goal for the time the book covers?
11. How does this connect with external situation? or does external situation divert protagonist from his/her goal
12. why does protagonist say he/she wants the goal?
13. is there a deeper motivation as yet unknown to your protagonist
14. what problem/external conflict does the external situation present?
15. How can the protagonist eventually resolve that conflict
16. list at least three obstacles in the way of your main character resolving the conflict (at least one is internal)
17. How will the protagonist grow because of confronting these obstacles? (turning point)
18. what do you want to happen at the end of the book
19. what will have to happen to the protagonist against his or her will to make your ending come about?

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaNo November: Do You Have Your Book Idea?

What am I going to do! Nano is in 4 days!

You're not alone. There are people and places ready to help you with your book. Check out's own page for getting ready for nano. If you're not like me and you don't have an outstanding document full of ideas you probably will never have the time to write, then here are a few ways to find your story:

1. Observe

     People are crazy. They do crazy things for crazy reasons. They say crazy things. They wear crazy things. Best places to observe include airports, large malls, and playgrounds. Just don't be creepy, ok?

2. Read your old writings (I'm talking all the way down to grade school)

      Kids have a way of misinterpreting things or imagining situations that may be absurd or may be the plot of your next novel. You never know... Plus, if you were the author then past you just gave presnt you the inspiration!

3. Check out the horoscopes and newspaper headlines

     Get character motivations or plot twists from your local paper.

     There are many resources online for finding and developing your ideas. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NaNo November: Events Far and Wide

NaNoWriMo Checklist

NaNo starts in just a couple of days! Do you know where you will be and what you will be writing about? Here's your pre-Nano checklist:

  1. Signup on
  2. Pick a region
  3. Flesh out your book idea and make an outline
  4. Figure out how to work around previously scheduled events (Thanksgiving etc)
  5. Download your free scrivener trial
  6. Take advantage of other free offers! Such as your free manuscript review and First Edition Hardcover from

Friday, October 25, 2013

Author Thursdays: NaNoWriMo November

Dear readers,

   As of today and throughout the entirety of November, will concentrate on the joys, triumphs, tips, sufferings, braggings of National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo instead of following the usual format of daily themed posts.

What is NaNoWriMo?

From the official website for national novel writing month: "Nanowrimo is an annual event (November) novel writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world."

Check out your local region's events for NaNo near you!

For Maple Valley, where I will be doing the majority of my writing, check out our calendar of events

My personal novel: The Day the Computer Stood Still

The federal supercomputer was meant to catch felons but fell in love instead. How can there be peace when humanity’s watchdog is surfing dating sites instead of capturing criminals?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Author Thursdays: Writing Exercise - I Like to Do it in Groups

I like to do it in groups*

“1, 2, 3” Riz said as he stuffed first one, then a second and finally a third plump marshmallow in succession into his mouth. “Four. Five. Fix” He continued, shoving them in.
“You’ll never make it.” Jerry stated, his arms crossed as he watched Riz reach into the open bag of mallows.
“Fuf Waf Me.” Riz revealed creamy snowmen teeth. He found another and was able to cram it into his grin.
“Hey Riz. Poopsicles!” Cried Jerry.
Marshmallows flew like bullets as Riz began to laugh, the ends of his mouth crinkling up enough to let the horde of sticky mallows loose.
“Aw, man!” Wailed Riz.
“Told you so.” Crowed Jerry. “Watch a pro. I like to do it in groups. You can get more in that way.”
With the air of an expert Jerry grabbed two of the marshmallows and popped them into his mouth, savoring the sugary coating as he scrunched the two as far back as he could without swallowing.
Jerry gave a wink at Riz and grabbed two more and popped those in as well.
“You gotta get 8 to beat me.” Riz reminded Jerry.
Jerry did not even bat an eye but grabbed marshmallows number five and six. In they went but there was almost no space left.
A trickle of sweat beaded on Jerry’s forehead and made its way down into his mouth, mixing salt and sweet together. Jerry paid no attention but grabbed another grouping of marshmallows. This time he held three. His eyes narrowed and he lined up the mallows with his mouth and then half chomped them in and half pushed them in until his lips barely contained the new additions to his collection.
“Aha” He cried triumphantly, the sound echoing from somewhere distant inside his mouth. He had done it! 9 marshmallows.
“Ya gotta finish.” Riz cajoled before cries of “Do it! Do it! Do it!” He pounded a fist in the air. Cheering on his friend. He had wanted to win but seeing his friend trying to chew while 9 air-puffed mallows sifted around inside was winning enough.

Jerry managed to find a mallow with his teeth and bit down, the others shlooping to fill up all the empty space left, which wasn’t much and his eyes teared a bit as it took everything he had to keep from spilling them all out again. Slowly but surely, Jerry found more room to chew and his saliva melted down the mallows enough so that he was able to finally lick the last bit of goo from the roof of his mouth in triumph.

*From a SnoValley Writes Workshop

Socializing Sundays: Have You Paid Someone to Write Your Dating Profile Lately?

Did you know that you can pay someone to write your dating profile for you? They will even respond to your messages for you! If this is not ironic, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Altium Tutorial For the Win

New to Altium? Here is a wonderful tutorial I found which has great pictures and does an excellent walk through of all simple and *useful* functions from the schematic to the PCB:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: Croquet Rule 101

When playing croquet for added difficulty and challenge, change the way you use the mallet and hit the ball backwards

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Author Thursdays: NaNoWriMo Maple Valley

Come join us and grab a snack or some coffee and your very own duck. Ducks provided free of charge. Coffee and snacks available for purchase from the lovely local Spot.

Interested? Check out Seattle NaNoWriMo kickoff party from last year:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: An Observation on Getting New Jobs

I have heard both ends of the stick on being able to get a new job, one being that it is easy and you only have to try and the other being there are none and you can't seem to get an offer (or even an interview!)

Being able to get a job is like being able to follow a new recipe, at least the way I do it. The first time following the recipe I sub ingredients, I only partially follow directions and it never turns out how I want it to (I don't get the interview or the job because I don't properly prepare or style my resume to highlight my relevant experience and expertise). The second time I only sub ingredients I know can be subbed and I follow all the directions I've newly found to be important after flubbing up the first time. The produced effort is rewarded with a decent reward (or a half dozen interviews). The third and subsequent times you throw a spin on the recipe to make it your own so it caters to your own tastes (this is when you are so confident in yourself that you get the job!).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Foodie Fridays: 21 Life Hacks Food Style

Found this gem in my facebook feed today:

I have not tried all of them and some made my raise my eyebrows in disbelief....

I take issue with a few, such as:

4. Use a sharp knife (CAREFULLY) to pit an avocado.

     If the avocado is not ripe enough this will not work (SAFELY) because the pit will cling desperately to the meat of the avocado, making it near impossible to separate the two parts. 

5. Slice avocadoes right in the skin to make neat cubes.

     If the avocado is too ripe then when you swipe with the spoon to dig out the cubes, they will mush together. 

9. Hold cherry tomatoes between two plastic lids to slice them all at once.
     These tomatoes looked fairly smooshed to me. 

13. Coat your cheese grater with nonstick spray for delightfully clean, easy shredding.

     You ever try cleaning a pan that was coated in butter? It's super greasy! Hot water and      plenty of soap sometimes works to get out the grease.

19. Pit cherries with a paper clip.

     Is this sanitary?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Author Thursdays: Book Review of Mistress of the Dancing Bones by Thomas Alexander

Thomas Alexander's world in Mistress of the Dancing Bones is one where magic is realistic and woven organically throughout the story. The setting and the characters are so much a part of the landscape that I do not question their existence but instead ache as they thrust themselves into danger and am giddy when any trickles of romance play out. The characters were distinctive and robust and became increasingly intriguing to me as the web of relationships and allegiances was revealed, like a world shrouded in mist that becomes clear piece by piece as the mist drifts away. As I read through to the end of the novel, I realized I did not want to let go of the story. Reading a good book such as this one is like being on a sugar high, the visualization of the action and emotional attachment to the characters is so intense that when the lines of plot are smoothed out and the last word has been consumed, you are left feeling empty and disappointed that you were not there with Ashia - the Mistress of the Dancing Bones and main character - throughout her adventures. The next best thing is to continue on with her when the next part of her journey is revealed in the second novel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Bring a Child to Work Day

Now re-read that title... It says to bring "a" child to work day not to bring "your" child to work day.

Have you ever asked a young person what they want to do/be when they grow up? Not too long ago I used to be one of those "young persons" and do you know what my answer was? Usually it was that I didn't know. Or, when I grew tired of hearing that question, my answers would become more and more humorous or absurd, such as "drop out of school and have ten kids" or "underwater basket weaving." However, if you ask some young kids/teens what they want to do/be they might have a solid and unchanging answer. My question for those kids is, "how do you know for sure?"

Here is my answer: Bring a child to work day. Bring your kid, bring your neighbor's kid, bring a kid from the local school. Bring a kid who wants to do your job when they grow up. Bring a kid who is undecided. The point is to expose them to a realistic job experience. 

Why bring someone else's kid? One of the one jobs I was certain I did NOT want to do when I 'grew' up was be a teacher (my mother's profession). Plus, because she was a teacher and my mom, I was already exposed to that career's characteristics. If you bring a kid who thinks they want to be a teacher, it will be more beneficial for them versus your own kid who already knows they don't want to be a teacher or already knows the ins and outs of being one.

One step further: What about a program from the business end where businesses sort of sponsor the bring a child to work day and partner with schools to provide this type of experience? If it does well enough, it could even be for longer than a day, kind of like a mini internship.