New theme to welcome Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello everyone! How do you like my blog’s new look? After my last post went live, I was looking at my site and realized I’d had the same theme for quite a few years and decided perhaps it was time for something different. So I previewed and played and this style spoke to me. I like the notebook header image (very appropriate), and the colors are great; anything green makes me happy. Even my BFF approved, and we all know how important that is.

Once the new theme was in place, I felt a review of my novel pages was also in order. That task resulted in a makeover for them as well. I renamed a few pages, added Details and Reference sections (some of the word counts are astounding, especially considering the books aren’t finished yet!) and added Frankie’s someday novel to the main page. I’ll work on tweaking the other story pages too so stay tuned.

As for Camp NaNoWriMo itself, I’ve got a few days until it’s time to hightail it to my cabin, say howdy to my bunk mates and start writing. I’ll start Saturday, April 1st with my morning ceramics class — totally an approved camp activity, right? — and then meet M for dinner and a writing work session. By then I’ll need to have finished the last little bits of prep work so I know where I left off in November and where I need to go from there. Thankfully I found my outline, but now the question is: how will I end the novel, should I be fortunate enough to get that far? After reading what I jotted down, there’s a part of me that isn’t sure it’s the best way to go. I know how I’m going to resolve that last big story arc (aka casting the counter-curse) and yes, it’s a given that my two MCs will get together in the end, but what that really means is now a big ol’ question mark.

I guess I’ll keep brainstorming until I come up with an ending I like or the characters have their say and tell me how they think it should end. I should probably listen to them; it’s their story, after all. =]

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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.

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!*

 

The New Color of NatN

changeresistantThose of you who know me well know I’m not the most passionate advocate for change. In fact, I resist it almost to the point of absurdity so that I often have to be shoved into it, much like that little guy to the right. That being said, I decided it was time to switch things up here on NatN, and the easiest way to do that was by applying a new theme.

Blame it on a renewed sense of creativity, or a love of color (my house has walls painted in eggplant purple, Chinese red, red-orange, bright yellow and English blue), or some other mysterious force, but this new theme really spoke to me.

Based on its format, I’ll be updating other posts and pages around the blog, so if you haven’t poked around in a while, now might be a fine time to do so. Oh, I’ll also be tweaking the menus as well to make it easier to find things, like Skylar’s short story that was posted on Sunday, and maybe even some of the other excerpts that have appeared here from time to time. So keep checking back, you never know what might pop up.

If you’re looking for all those useful little widgets that used to appear at right, simply click the three horizontal lines in the upper left hand corner and they’ll magically appear. Pretty cool, huh?

Have a safe and sparkly Fourth of July, everyone! And for those of you not in the U.S., have a fabulous weekend. Slainté!

NaNo 2013 ~ Synopsis and More

Don't get it right, get it written.

On this fifth anniversary of “Nikki and the Novel,” I thought it would be a good time to make some updates to my blog pages. A couple things have changed, but much has stayed the same:

Check out the About Nik > Support Staff page to read about my newest writing cohort and rock. If not for Miss Meagan, I would still be sitting around thinking about finishing GBE, wouldn’t have had the “Aha!” moment that solved the block in the story, and I wouldn’t be inspired to go for the 50,000 word win with a new NaNoWriMo story this year (she won two years ago and got a really groovy t-shirt to prove it).

There is a new Nik’s Works in Progress page that is the stepping stone for my current and future novel pages. Click on the cover image to go to the appropriate page for its working title, a brief synopsis and a teaser of where I am in the story since the last update.

Speaking of works in progress, I now have a better idea of what my NNWM 2013 story will be. I spent a couple days on background items like shifter lineages and inheritance rules, mini-bios of my two leads Kaia and Fitz, creating a couple of legends that will work into Kaia’s destiny, and assigning photos to subordinate characters and giving them monikers like “unnamed baddie” and “unnamed good witch”. All of this info I added to Scrivener, the new writing software that my NaNoWriMo friends have mentioned off and on for years I’m trying out during the free trial period. (Another bonus of winning this year – I get the full version of Scrivener for half off! )

The last bit of business that I need to do before the competition begins is to jot down the scenes that I know on Scrivener’s index cards, such as the opening that has been running through my head for days now, and to share with you the current synopsis for “Shifter Days.” You can find it on its new novel page, and you’ll get to meet Kaia’s wolf form as well.

Check back as I’m meeting again for one last prep weekend this Sunday before the fun begins next Friday, November 1st!

Come one, come all, to my new foodie blog!

Hi everyone!

Now, I know this isn’t really a post about my writing, but it is about me, so I’m going to write it anyway. :) I’ve started another experiment, but this one revolves around another of my all-time favorite subjects — FOOD! I’ve always loved kitchens and cooking; Mom’s is still one of the most comforting places to go. On the holidays, or any regular weekday I’m invited over, you’ll find me hopping up on the counter and swinging my legs as we talk while she cooks (I’ve already completed my chopping/slicing/setting the table duties, of course). My skills aren’t too shabby either, but as a single person I often cop out and hit the drive-through instead of heading home to whip up something tasty in my own kitchen.

With the semi-surprise gift of a nifty new Cuisinart food processor at Christmas (I had completely forgotten that I’d put one on my list, so I was grinning and giddy when I ripped off the paper and saw what it was), I now had no excuse not to cook those recipes that called for that particular piece of kitchen hardware. Add to that the ton of kitchen gadgets, pots and pans in varying sizes, and the other appliances such as my Kitchenaid stand mixer that already had made a home in my apartment’s galley kitchen, an idea was born.

Swing by Nikki’s Nibbles ~ the saga of a budding chef for updates on what’s cooking in my kitchen or to learn what other food-related marvelousness I’ve discovered, and perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for yourself.

Bon appétit, mes amis!