Nik’s 2015 Resolutions

WritingOkay, I wasn’t originally going to do a resolutions post this year. I am one of those people who creates a resolutions list, because hey I love lists of all kinds, and then ends up falling on her face when it comes to meeting them all. So I was perfectly content to just have my Writing Plan and sit back and see how everything else piled up around it. Then my friend Kate had to go and post her resolutions list along with her hubby’s tradition for it, and suggest I give it a try in addition to being her writing buddy for the year.

At first, I thought, “One resolution for each year I’ve been alive? WOW. That’s a lot of resolutions to write down.” I’ve been around a lot longer than Kate, twice as long in fact, and after futzing with it for a while I realized any kind of list that long would be a bit repetitive or kind of lame just to make the numbers. Then I realized I could do my list my way. It didn’t have to be intimidating or daunting, but rather full of the things I want to do this year anyway, or had enjoyed doing last year. Maybe then it’s possible to have a realistic list that inspires me instead of one that’s impossible to accomplish and makes me feel like a complete dolt.

I think it’s simple but substantial, and it covers those things that are important to me. So here they are!

1. Write, Write, Write!

This is the biggie for this year. I want to finish The Curse of Camlann that I started during NaNo, and not just so I can go to Vegas when it’s done. I really want to see how the story progresses, and not a few friends have said they’d love to read it. My friend’s husband even remarked during lunch yesterday how passionate I was when talking about my writing. There’s no better motivation than that, because he’s absolutely right. Not to mention all the reward ideas that I’ve been adding on Pinterest so I have a nice visual of my Writing Plan goals.

writeblockAlso included here is attending Camp NaNoWriMo with Kate (and whomever else I can con into it) in April and July, with hopes of finishing COC or perhaps another project, say The Great Boyfriend Experiment that’s so close to being finished. Then it’ll be on to last year’s Shifters and whatever else I can work on in the next twelve months. My meetups with my bestie M will also fit here, where we spend Sundays writing at the library.

Lastly for this category will be things like finishing character profiles for other stories, importing miscellany into Scrivener for pending projects, and attending a writer-oriented program or conference or meeting of some kind. That last one will be a first for me, as even though I’ve been a member of the Writers League of Texas since I was in college, I’ve never gone to a meeting. How silly is that?

2. Stay Crafty

This one’s all about the non-writing things I enjoy, like making charm bracelets and other jewelry, completing a cross stitch project, my pottery class at the local community college and those miscellaneous craft projects I’ve been pinning on Pinterest for a while now. They’re fun and interesting and new, and help keep my mind active not to mention my hands. They’re nice little side projects for the days the writing just isn’t flowing or for when I just need a break. The pottery class itself kicks off my Saturdays starting later this month, and I have a ton of ideas already running through my head that I need to get down on paper. I also have quite a few charm bracelets in various stages, and I’m looking forward to seeing how those all turn out.

3. Be More Social

FriendsThis is a little trickier for me, as so many of my friends are not single like I am and therefore don’t have as much free time as little ol’ me. Yet, this doesn’t have to be hard. I’m hoping it will include things like hosting a Girls Night Movie (and/or Game) Night; taking a road trip to my favorite charity Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, TX; taking a tour with a bunch of my girlfriends to new or favorite wineries; and a road trip up to Fort Worth to visit my bestie K and maybe take in a Stars game.

I’ll also still be going to church and hanging with my church and choir peeps, and of course bugging my work friends to go out to lunch. Fortunately, going out to movies at the theater also falls into this category, and I have a few friends and a mom who will take me up on those offers quite often. I might even toss in a trip or two to visit friends out of state while I’m at it, who knows?

4. Get Healthier

Talk about your difficult goals. Eating healthy is hard when it’s just so easy to just grab something on the way home or when you forget what you wanted to bring because you ran late and dashed off without it. I’m hoping that the kitchen remodel I have planned for late spring/early summer will help me prepare more meals á la cuisine. I also HATE exercising and get nothing out of it whatsoever except relief that it’s over, so that makes it that much harder to get moving. But, I could stand to shed some (read: a lot) of the weight gained in 2014 and without eating healthier that’ll never happen. So this one gets a list:

  1. Remodel the kitchen!
  2. Make actual meals for dinner twice a week instead of “grazing” the pantry. This includes crock pot meals on Sunday for the rest of the week.
  3. Try a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks/clippings and save the ones I like and pitch the rest.
  4. Bring a healthy lunch to work at least once a week, and actually consume it. Twice would be better!
  5. Make better choices when eating out (halving portions, grilled vs. fried, etc.).
  6. Walk more, when the weather’s nice.

5. Be Happier

Happy MinionsOh, yeah, file this under tough to do, too. On my worst days, little things can throw me into a tailspin and my impatience meter red-lines. At my best, though, I can sail through the day with a smile and maybe even a song. That being said, it works well to numerate these in black and white. So this one gets a list, too:

  1. Write, because we already know it makes me happy.
  2. Do something crafty at least once a month (without waiting until the end of the month to squeeze it in).
  3. Treat myself to a movie in a theater once a month using my reward gift cards.
  4. Be more positive.
  5. Read at least 50 books in 2015. That’s only five more than 2014, and I’m planning on half of them being new titles not previously read. There will be a Pinterest board to track the titles (like you didn’t guess that already).

Okay, well, I think that about does it for tackling 2015. Stay tuned as I’ll be reporting in on how it’s going, especially with the writing, as that’s why I first created this blog way back when. Here’s to all of us, whether you’ve written an official list of resolutions or not, accomplishing what we’ve set out to do in the new year!

Nominated Again? Jolly good!

tistheseasonWell, my writer friend Kate M. Colby has nominated me for another award, this time it’s the Jolly Blogger Award. I admit, I’ve never heard of this one, so I was curious. It’s a way to spread some holiday cheer around the ‘Net, no matter your religious or secular affiliations, and a way to tell your fellow bloggers that they bring you a little happy. Like the Liebster Award Kate nominated me for earlier this month, it’s all about the rules:

  1. Answer the twelve questions from your nominator
  2. Nominate ten bloggers
  3. Leave twelve questions for your nominees

So away we go!

Answers to Kate’s Questions

What holiday do you celebrate this time of year?

I’m a Christmas girl. It’s my second favorite holiday (see below).

Do you like holiday songs? If so, which is your favorite?

For the more traditional carols, it’s always been the “Carol of the Bells.” However, one of my favorite groups released a Christmas album this year, and I found it via a friend’s post of Facebook. I highly recommend checking out Pentatonix’s YouTube video for “Mary, Did You Know?”; it grabbed me by the throat and I knew I’d be playing that from now on as my favorite.

What is your favorite holiday movie?

It’s a tie between “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “The Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie”.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

The candlelight service on Christmas Eve at whichever church we’re attending. This year, Mom and I will also be singing, so Dad will be stuck in the audience surrounded by strangers. The downfalls of a small family I guess!

If you could change one thing about the holiday season, what would it be?

I wish that retail stores would let us enjoy one holiday at a time instead of forcing us into HallowThanksMas three months early. I know they have a bottom line, but seriously. Christmas in July is fine, but give us a break in the interim, alright?

Do you prefer giving gifts or receiving them?

Giving, definitely. This year I chose three angels from the Angel Tree at church and it made me smile knowing I was helping make the holiday brighter for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to enjoy it. I also brought in to work and gave away almost 50 pieces of pottery from both of my 2014 classes, and it was so much fun to see what people chose and the surprise and delight on their face when they asked how much and I simply told them, “Merry Christmas!”

Do you prefer snowy or sandy Decembers?

Snowy. Definitely.

Besides December holidays, what is your favorite holiday?

Easter is my favorite holiday. I was born on Easter Sunday way back when, and so Easter lilies are my favorite flower, too.

If you could name a reindeer for Santa’s sleigh, what would you name it?

I’d name her Angelica.

What is your favorite holiday-related book?

Does my big coffee table book on “It’s A Wonderful Life” count? Good.

If you were to write a novel that took place around the holidays, what would the main idea behind it be?

Funny you should ask. My first novel (that is still in progress a decade later), The Great Boyfriend Experiment, has a middle that takes place at Thanksgiving and climaxes at Christmas. Check out the synopsis here on my blog to find out more, and also see what made the main characters’ playlists.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Yes, please! Alas, I live in Texas and while it will be chilly today, snow isn’t an option. Good thing I have a snowman on my mantle at home next to the ChrisMoose. :)

My Ten Nominees

Yep, there are repeats here from the Liebster and from Kate’s post, so you’re not seeing things. These are the blogs I read and gain support from or entertain me, so yeah, I’m duplicating. The more the merrier!

  1. Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY
  2. Guilded In Black
  3. The Rolling Writer
  4. Sara C Roethle
  5. Dream Raven
  6. Kristen Lamb’s Blog
  7. Ruth Nestvold
  8. KEL Publishing
  9. Miramar Dichoso
  10. my mumblings

My Questions for my Bloggers

I know many of you may have taken a hiatus for the holidays, so don’t feel obligated to participate. If you do, though, here’s a few questions for ya.

  1. Do you decorate a lot or a little for the holidays?
  2. Do you have any totally off-the-wall family holiday traditions?
  3. Tell about the strangest holiday you’ve ever spent.
  4. What is your favorite holiday song?
  5. What is your favorite holiday beverage?
  6. If you were to dress up as a holiday-related character for a costume party, who would you be?
  7. Have you ever made a snow angel?
  8. If you could spend the holidays anywhere on earth, where would you go?
  9. What do you make for Christmas dinner?
  10. Do you steal gifts during a White Elephant exchange, or do you let them go?
  11. Post a picture of your best Ugly Christmas Sweater. If you don’t own one, search for one and post the one that appeals to you the most.
  12. In my family we made up our own holiday characters, such as The Christmas Phantom (who only brings fun presents like puzzles or games) and Sandy Claws (who gives gifts to the furry kids). Do you have any non-traditional holiday characters who make an appearance?

Alright, that’s it! Have a safe holiday everyone, and I’ll catch up with you next week.

The Reward for Finishing My Novel

So when I posted the details on My Writing Plan last Friday, I had a reader post a comment that completely threw me. Amanda asked, “I assume you get something extra fantastic for finishing the book?” and all I could do was sit there and stare at the computer monitor.

Until that moment, I’d completely forgotten the biggest reward of them all.

Yes, I am working toward something fantastic called The End. Yes, it’s great to have a writing plan to get to The End. But if I’ve gone through all the trouble to write and plan and reward myself, Amanda had a point.

I needed an extra fantastic SOMETHING for making it to The End and Finishing the Book.

Today I figured out what that something is, thanks to two of my besties. I’m going to treat myself to a weekend trip somewhere fun! I’m sure one of them will tag along to keep me from getting into too much trouble. :) So I leave you with this image of the destination for my End Reward while I take a few days off for Christmas break. Don’t forget to come back and check in on my progress for writing in 2015.

Happy holidays, y’all!

Yep, that's right - I'm gonna go to Vegas!

Yep, that’s right, guys and gals. Once I finish the book, I’m going to treat myself to a weekend in Vegas for the first time EVAH!

Introducing “The Writing Plan”

buildaplanHello again! I know I basically fell off the planet now that NaNo’s over, but that seems to happen every year. Whether it’s the holiday crunch, or exhaustion, or needing time for my brain to recharge, I find myself not writing a single word in December. Now, that’s not to say I’m not thinking about my novel, because I am. My friends are also asking how COC is going, and poking and prodding me to keep writing as well.

I have also switched out my NaNoWriMo Wizard band for my writing charm bracelet, although I need to tweak it a little to include a charm that represents my winning 2014 book. Thank goodness for the internet, because a quick search located — are you ready? — an Excalibur sword charm! Technically, my knight doesn’t wield this legendary weapon, but he was of Arthur’s Round Table so yeah, it works. (For a look at said writer bracelet, click here to temporarily zip over to Facebook and check out the photo I posted.)

Fortunately, I’ve already worked out the details for my plan on how to keep writing, which is also Mom-approved by the way. As I still need to put words on the page, that’s where my plan is focused.

The Writing Plan

I am the kind of girl who works very well with a reward system. November was a perfect example: not only did I get the official NaNoWriMo winner swag, but I also earned personal rewards: season 5 of White Collar on DVD that I’d wanted for a while and Nora Roberts’ third book in her latest trilogy that I’d seen one day on my travels through The Bullseye Store. That last one? I’d literally reached out for it to add it to my shopping basket until I quickly pulled my hand back and said to myself, “No, that’ll be an amazing reward to myself for winning NaNoWriMo because I really, really want that.”

That moment came back to mind when thinking about how to get myself in front of the keyboard. Knowing me as I do, if the reward is something I really want — say the movie Guardians of the Galaxy or all seasons of The Walking Dead or the new Magic: the Gathering expansion sets that’re coming out in January and March or the Castle Derrick Storm graphic novels or one of the many books on my wish list, just to name a few completely non-random examples — I’ll work harder to get to that goal.

It’s all about the points

nixwritingplan

The Writing Plan, as transcribed in my makeshift December agenda, aka a small green composition book.

Whenever I write, I’ll be earning points toward a reward of my choosing. You’ll notice I’ve tweaked things a little since I first wrote out the plan (see the image at right) as I’ve had time to think on it. But here it is:

  • For every day that I write in a given month, no matter how much or how little, I get a point.
  • For every 1,000 words that I write in a given month, I get a point. I must hit the minimum to earn the point. Writing 750 words one day still counts, but I won’t get the point until I’ve written an additional 250 to reach a thousand words.
  • If I write fifteen days in a given month, I get five additional bonus points for each block of fifteen days.
  • If I write 30,000 words or more in a given month, I get five additional bonus points for each multiple of 30,000.

At the beginning of the following month, I’ll add up all my points and each point earns me $1 in reward money. Points are cumulative, and points not spent on rewards do carry over but may only be added to that month’s point total. Example: if I earn 25 points in January and redeem 20 points, the remaining 5 points are not available for redemption until I’ve accumulated points for February. That’s so I keep the momentum going forward instead of racking up huge point totals and slacking off.

Had this plan been in place for November, here’s how it would have added up:

  • Total days written in November: 18 = 18 points
  • Total words written in November: 50,519 = 50 + 5 bonus points
  • Grand total in rewards for November: $73

All Ready to Go

I’m ready to start this plan come January 1, which is a holiday for me so it’s got potential to start off well. I have a spiffy new agenda in which I can track my writing time and my points, along with the rest of my schedule. Each point will be represented by a cute little owl sticker and my 5 point bonuses by Peanuts reward stickers. I also found this perfect Snoopy wall art that I absolutely had to have and it’s waiting for me under the Christmas tree. So far, I think the plan will work. Stay tuned to find out if I’m right!

Nominated, me? Alrighty then!

Liebster Award: Discover new blogs!

Liebster Award: Discover new blogs!

I have heard of this Liebster award for which my new writer friend Kate M. Colby nominated me the other day, and it’s pretty nifty that she thought of me. Thanks, Miss Kate! I knew there was a reason we got along so well. But seriously, based on Kate’s post, here’s the guidelines for this fun little award:

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to his/her blog.
  3. Write 5 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 bloggers (they should have less than 300 followers).
  5. Answer 5 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 5 questions.

Nik’s Five Random Facts

  1. I have zero tattoos, and the only things I have pierced are my ears, and then only once.
  2. I have an ear for accents, and have a tendency to adopt them in my daily life. So if you meet me on Saint Patrick’s Day, don’t be surprised to hear me talk with a little of the Irish. And Lord help me if one of my cashiers happens to have an English accent; I have to make very sure I don’t mimic it back!
  3. The only bones I’ve ever broken are those of my little toes. One fell victim to the wooden base on a cat scratcher the day before I went to Disneyland (yes, I remembered to pack the gauze and tape to keep it healing straight), and the other had an unfortunate encounter with one of my large L-shaped bookcases in the living room.
  4. I learned to drive on my mom’s 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega that didn’t have any power steering whatsoever, and was a five-speed transmission. You had to crank that steering wheel around hand-over-hand style in order to make a turn, and you had to lift up a release lever in order to shift the car up into reverse. As a result, or in spite of it, I still drive a stick shift to this day.
  5. I saw my first animal dioramas in 2013 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and was as excited as a little kid. It was especially thrilling because last year’s NaNoWriMo novel featured animal shape-shifters, so getting to see them up close and personal like that was amazing.

Answers to Kate’s Questions

What is your number one “Bucket List” item?

This one is already crossed off my list, as I went to Ireland in 2010 for my *mumble, mumble* birthday and spent 12 glorious days traveling around with Mom (and a few strangers on the same bus tour) throughout the country. Number two on my list is to go back, and this time go exploring on my own and visit all those places we didn’t get to see the first time, returning to Dublin to finish off the trip with a Guinness at the pub. :)

If you could live inside of one book, which would you choose?

This is like asking me “if I could live inside of one movie,” although on that one I think I’d know exactly which one I’d choose. I love so many books for so many different reasons, but were I to get sucked into the pages of a book to live out my remaining years, I’d be happiest in a world full of magic and adventure.

If you could have any career in the world, what would you do?

The one that would make me excited to go to work every day, where the work itself would be exciting and make me happy. It’s my fervent hope that my writing will fill that spot some day.

If you could have one wild animal as a pet, what would it be?

Oh this is actually tougher than I thought. There are two animals that mean a lot to me, one I’ve loved since a child and another I’ve grown more fond of recently. All things considered, though, I think my childhood dream remains to have a Bengal tiger (white preferably but I wouldn’t say no to orange) as a friend.

What is the legacy or meaning you want to leave on this world?

Such a serious question. As I have so little family, it’ll be up to my friends to remember me, and I hope they do so with fond memories of my ridiculously silly jokes, my love of Tex-Mex food, my bracelets/pottery/etc. I’ve made over the years, and how much I love them all.

Nik’s Nominees

This one was a little bit trickier, as Kate stole a couple I’d have on my list already. *grin* So here’s the bloggers I nominate:

  1. KELPublishing – Kelly’s a good friend of mine and fellow writer, and she’s just started her new blog so it’s the perfect time to nominate her. :)
  2. Miramar Dichoso – another good friend of mine and fellow Muppet Lover who’s way more fashionable than me.
  3. my mumblings – I found Abby via another writer friend, and she makes me smile with her posts.
  4. Author Amanda McCormick – a new contact from NaNoWriMo this year.
  5. Books & Bark – although she’s a dog lover (I am so totally a cat person), she’s another fellow Wrimo, albeit a much younger one than I.

Questions for Nominees

I did my best to make them nothing like you get at a job interview. How’d I do?

  1. Where would be your dream writing/artistic space (aka which city/state and/or location), and what does it look like?
  2. If you suddenly found you had a “superhero” ability, what would it be and why?
  3. What creative skill do you not have that you wish you did?
  4. Is there something you’ve never been able to do that you wish you could?
  5. In the spirit of the holiday, what was the best Christmas gift you ever received?

That’s all for now. Stay tuned as I will be unveiling The Plan for 2015 soon!

It took all day, but I did it. I won NaNoWriMo!

Waking up this morning, I had a pretty good idea that I’d win NaNo today. I was only about 2400 words away, and I’d been averaging that just about every writing session. What I didn’t anticipate was a grouchy kitty who’s cries for something I’ve yet to identify kept breaking my concentration, a scene that just wasn’t coming together how I wanted it to, and a back that will be happy to take a break for a couple of days.

That said, I have uploaded my word count and OFFICIALLY WON NANOWRIMO! *runs around her living room cheering and dancing and celebrating*

Winner-2014-Twitter-Profile

I’m going to take a couple days off and give myself a rest, and then I’ll let you guys in on the plan I came up with to keep writing post-NaNo. I have hope that it’ll work, and I think I’ve got the tools in place to help me make it work.

To all my fellow winner Wrimos, way to go! For all of you Wrimos who are so close, don’t give up. You’ve still got time, and I know you can do it. *big hugs!*

 

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

WriterSnoopy

My writing mascot, Snoopy. I have a little version of him sitting with me while I write for unconditional support.

Today was another writing day where I got a mid-afternoon start and went straight on through, trying to finish a scene. Sure, there were times when I felt as though I were merely blathering on despite having a point I wanted to make. I’m also dealing with a plot that has some parts accelerating beyond my control and others that seem to be taking forever to end up on the page. It’s also been a challenge trying to write from a male point of view, as the story is his and not my heroine’s.

The most important thing now is to get the words on the page, keep the story moving and get to that all important finish line. Once that’s done, then I can worry about things like continuity and editing and pace. I think I have my plan ready to go for how to keep writing from December on, so I might yet make it.

Today’s Word Count: 3,601

Word Count to Date: 47,865

Writing Time Today: 6 hours, give or take

Current Feeling: Excitement tinged with a tad of tiredness

Motivation/Inspiration: Knowing I’m in the home stretch, and that today’s efforts means I should hit that glorious 50,000 total with no trouble.

Biggest Triumph: Getting the scene finished, after it seemed to go in fits and starts and I’m still not sure if it works, but it’s done for now.

Biggest Setback: While not technically a setback, chatting with Kate Colby via DM on Twitter was a bit of a distraction. She’s been my second strongest supporter during this year’s NaNo, and so I pay attention when she replies or comments on my tweets or posts. Thanks for the support, Kate, and I look forward to seeing how our endeavours play out over the next few months!

Insights: I need to work on my focus a bit. I think today’s writing could have been a little cleaner had I had a better picture of where I wanted to go with the scene, instead of merely putting words on a page. I know had I done that, I might have clocked in a higher word count, or at least made a little more sense.

Until tomorrow, my Wrimos. Keep an eye out for that winner’s banner; I fully intend to have mine before the day is over. *grin!*