Hello from Camp NaNoWriMo Day 1

SnoopyWS_campingHi everybody! Today’s been productive, even if I don’t completely feel like it has. I’ve posted both #BohoBerry and #InstaWrimo challenge photos on Instagram, procrastinated by updating some background information on my shapeshifter mythology (got to get those species correct in case I need them), and hit my daily word count goal.

I admit, I was totally ready to say “I’m not feeling this” and give up and go do something else and put it off until tomorrow. Fortunately, I have this best friend who’s not going to let me get away with stuff like that, even when she’s out of town at a baby shower. So, a “rah, rah, go Nikki” text later and I have my words in.

I think it’s always tough to pick up an old story after letting it sit awhile (like since 2014). Even after reading what I’d written before, and having storyboards to tell me what comes next, it wasn’t as easy as picking up with COC had been. In truth, though, that story never really let go of me, and to some extent still hasn’t. That novel was always in the background, saying “write me, write me!” while this one isn’t quite as demanding. Whether that’s due to having way more romance novels on the list than fantasy ones, I can’t say. But I agreed to stick with the fantasy genre for Camp, which is part of the reason I gave myself a decent but not intense daily goal.

This time, though, let’s see if I can’t move the action along a little faster instead of getting bogged down in the descriptives. :) See you tomorrow, campers!

You’re not imagining things, it’s really me!

Hello Writerverse, it’s been a while! A lot has happened in the seven–wow, seven?!–months since I last posted here on my blog. I had no idea it had been that long, and I need to make up for that. So I’ll take this time to get y’all caught up on what’s been going on. Beware, this is gonna be a long one. :)

the endFirst and foremost, the big news: I. Finished. Writing. My. First. Novel! Yes, you read that correctly. Last November 30th at the end of NaNoWriMo, I wrote the words “The End” on the last page of my manuscript for Curse of Camelot! I was with my bestie, and the second after typing those words, I clapped my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming out loud. Meagan, of course, knew instantly what I’d accomplished, and she grinned at me. A moment later, we were boogieing like idiot teenagers.

I took the next four months off until I half-heartedly attempted to participate in April’s Camp NaNoWriMo to edit the rest of COC. I failed miserably, and the manuscript sat another month and a half until Meagan and I went on our second annual Belletristes writing retreat in Fredericksburg. Having already spent nearly three weeks without air conditioning due to a busted compressor, I was more than ready for time away from home and getting back to writing.

Two momentous events happened that week, the first being my second big accomplishment with Camelot: I completed the copy edits of the full manuscript on 7 June. Another boogie session ensued with my bestie, and I celebrated by tossing the original first draft pages into the air for one of my Instagram posts. Then we each plowed through a pint of our favorite ice cream while watching my favorite movie, Ladyhawke. Meagan went to bed early (she was being a good mom and heading back home at the crack of dawn to attend my oldest nephew’s fifth grade graduation) and I stayed up to watch my new favorite dance movie, High Strung, then I too went to bed.

Little did I know my world was about to blow up into smithereens the next day.

I got up Friday morning, smiled at the note Meagan had left, and ate my breakfast bagel before getting down to work at 7:30. I started transcribing my edits into Word, and broke for lunch around noon. My bestie called to say she’d be on her way back shortly, and I got back to transcribing. When my cell rang again, I picked it up and automatically glanced at the caller ID, and stopped breathing.

It was the animal hospital where I was boarding my Molly calling, and I knew  they wouldn’t be contacting me if she was okay. As the conversation continued, my heart ached, the tears I cried (okay, sobbed) made me almost incoherent as I tried to comprehend the details being relayed by the on-call vet. The entire time, I sat in the chair in front of the window staring out of it and waiting for my sister-bestie to get back so I wouldn’t be alone in a rental cottage without transportation 78 miles away.

Molly Maru (1998-2018)

You see, my kitty had developed fluid in her chest from her heart murmur or her kidney disease or possibly cancer, and it was hard for her to breathe and she would most likely not get better. So I had to make The Decision all pet owners avoid as long as possible, and I had to do it long distance. I knew what was best for her, and to do anything else would have been horribly selfish. Fortunately, my very good friend works a receptionist at WLAH, and loved my kitty almost as much as me. Caryn was with Molly for me as my baby girl left this world to join Tink in Kitty Heaven, and also agreed to keep her until I could see her one last time on Monday.

As you can imagine, my emotions have been on a roller-coaster ride the last three weeks. Some days, I’m the Walking Dead as I shuffle around the house desperately missing my cat. Others, I’m inspired to work on this or that for my novels, and her being gone hurts a little less. Part of why I continued with FMS’s Instagram June Photo A Day challenge was to have something different I could focus on. My July is shaping up to be enormously busy too, what with taking on three challenges simultaneously: 25,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo, Kara’s bullet journal #bohoberrychallenge, and NaNoWriMo’s #InstaWrimo challenge from April.

Here’s to getting back to normal and reconnecting with my shapeshifters. I’ve been away from them too long, and I could use some old friends to talk to instead of a few empty rooms.

Good luck in July, fellow Campers. I’ll be back around the campfire starting Sunday, so see you there!

Tomorrow Camp NaNo 2014 Begins

2014-Participant-Vertical-BannerHello there! I know I’ve been off the radar for months as far as writing goes, but I haven’t been idle. Granted, the majority of what I’ve been doing is worldbuilding for my Shifters novel — I mean what’s a new fantasy world without a few maps of the topography and cities and such? — and reviewing the existing storyboards from November in anticipation of fleshing them out for some writing at a later date. I even went so far as to print out what I had written for NaNo and read through it. Wasn’t too shabby, considering the speed at which it had been written.

Then, this past Sunday I had lunch with my bestie to celebrate my belated birthday, during which I randomly and somewhat innocently asked, “So, are you doing Camp NaNo in April?” I was more curious than anything, and not necessarily looking for her to say, “Why yes, let’s do it together!” I should have guessed that by the end of our meal she was ready to do it, and I was like, wait, she wasn’t going to do it a minute ago, so what just happened!?

Beware your writer friends who are looking for motivation…and are more than willing to drag you along with them.

So, as of today, I have officially signed up to keep working on Shifters for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, to hit a word count goal of 25,000. Hopefully that’s doable in between choir rehearsals on Wednesday nights, two different Sundays of singing for both church services in addition to singing at the Good Friday service, five hours of class on Saturdays and my dad’s birthday on the 27th.


I guess tonight will be a final cram session of planning and storyboard review after the official birthday dinner with the parental units. Wish me luck; I think I’m going to need a whole bunch of it as I’ve had 24 hours to get used to the idea instead 24 days like I had back in November.

NaNo 2013 ~ We have a winner!

NaNoWriMo WInnerIt’s Friday night, the day after Thanksgiving, and I am over the moon. With just a little extra time, I was able to do something today that I’ve never done before. I’ve won NaNoWriMo 2013!

*dancing and cheering and fist pumping ensues in Nikki’s house*

As you can see, I’m pretty excited to have met this little goal. To have done NaNo for real for the first time in years — instead of working on the same thing for multiple consecutive NaNo’s — and to win, is indescribable. I’m grinning from ear to ear, and I’m smothering my kitty with hugs. I’m tickled to see the purple “Winner!” bar where the ever-moving green bar used to be, and the little blue ribbon with “WINNER” that now decorates the book cover I uploaded for “Shifter Days” on the official site.

As my fellow winner M said, “It’s the little things.” Boy howdy, ain’t that the truth!

Congrats to all of you other Wrimos out there who have won, and to all of you who wrote even just one word. We did it! :)

NaNo 2013 ~ Day 25

Alaric Raynd
Alaric Raynd

Well, WriMos, today is the day that the story’s bad guy, aka Alaric Raynd, made his entrance. Okay, yes, technically that was yesterday when we met his sister Lucia and he dropped by for an unplanned visit, but today we got a little inside his head.

On the outside, Alaric looks a lot like Karl Urban (photo at right). You know, the actor from New Zealand who plays Bones in the Star Trek reboot movies, although I knew him back from his guest spots on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. On the inside, though, Alaric’s anything but nice.

He’s the guy behind Ye Olde Hyena Massacre that almost completely wiped out our MMC and FMC’s entire families. He’s the guy who will stop at nothing to make sure the prophecy centered around himself doesn’t come true. He’s the guy who will eliminate anything that gets in his way, even if it’s his own sister.

That last part? I only found that out tonight as the story unfolded. I mean yes, I knew eventually his sister would turn against him, but I didn’t think it would be until later. That’s one of the interesting things about writing without a plan. You never know which plot bunny is going to hop across your field of vision and leave a carrot. Tonight, I got two. The important one of the two will play out in the pieces of the plot I’d already worked out for the climax of the tale, which now make so much more sense.

It seems that my brain knew what it was doing when it was answering those pesky plot questions back in October. The best part? Getting it all tied together so that the story is (hopefully) richer and more intriguing.

With only five days to go before the deadline, I’m still on track to hit 50,000 words on Saturday and win NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. That’s almost as exciting as seeing where these characters are taking me, and what other little bunnies will show up along the way.

NaNo 2013 ~ Day 24

Cranaleith, Lucia's castle
Cranaleith, Lucia’s castle

It’s Sunday night, and officially the end of the weekend. Tomorrow I get to sleep in, snuggle with my cat, and write as much or as little as I want whenever I want. Why? I’m on vacation, that’s why. *happy dance* Today I hit 40k, and that means I’m once again caught up and on schedule to make it to the ultimate goal on Saturday.

Meanwhile, my best friend M cranked out 4,000 words today during our writing session and catapulted herself into the NaNoWriMo winner’s circle. Yahoo!

Me, I got up to 2,400 and introduced characters that will be pivotal to the plot as the story progresses. First, there was Lucia — that’s her castle in the photo — and then there was her brother, Alaric. Both are dragons, both are over a thousand years old, but only one of them will turn out to be the villain of our story. Can you guess which one? While you’ll have to wait and see just how bad the Big Baddie will be, I’ll leave you with an excerpt instead.


Kaia, thank the gods! The relief in his voice helped to calm her. You scared the hell out of me when you took off like that. Where are you?

Can you come to Father’s office?

Absolutely. On my way.

Be careful when you come. I tripped over something on my way here.

When he didn’t reply, Kaia knew he was already on the move. She pulled her legs up, wrapping her arms around them and resting her chin on her knee. As she waited for Fitz, she closed her eyes and tried to bring up an image of the last time she’d visited her father here. She frowned when it wouldn’t come to her, and she concentrated harder.

He searches for you.

Kaia’s head snapped up and looked around for the source of the unfamiliar female voice. Fitz had not yet arrived, so she was still alone in the library, which meant someone was talking to her telepathically. Apparently, she was getting the hang of her new ability more quickly than she’d anticipated.

Very curious.

Reaching out, she located and followed the glowing thread that would connect her to the stranger’s mind, something she could do now unconsciously with Fitz. Unlike the steady gray strand hovering on the outer edges of her mind that she know understood was the bridge she used to connect with him, this dark blue one pulsed very slowly as if it were dying. Who are you?

That is not important. He who searches for you is all that is important.

He who? Is this ‘he’ the one who killed my family and my friends tonight?

After a pause and a strong pulse of the thread, the other replied. Yes.

Why would he do this?

Because he believes you are the one.

The one what?

The one of the prophecy.

Prophecy? What prophecy, and what does it have to do with me?

It is the prophecy, and you are its key. Thus, he searches for you to destroy you.

A chill ran down Kaia’s spine as the woman’s words settled into her head. Hearing boots scrambling on the staircase behind her, she nearly lost the connection when its pulse began to fade. Wait! Who is he, and who are you?

Find the lightning witch, the voice instructed, and Kaia could barely the thread connecting them. She will guide you to what you seek.

Wait! I still don’t understand! Kaia tried to reconnect but the other mind was gone.

NaNo 2013 ~ Day 23

clockIt’s that time once again for me to update you with my goings-on for the day, this day, this Saturday, this first official day of my Thanksgiving vacation that lasts through the first week in December. Due to the impressive blue norther that has dipped its arctic toe into my city, it’s fracking cold outside and I braved the wind chill and the mizzle – misty drizzle of the most annoying kind – to head out to my ceramics class. In addition to the usual tools in my bag, I also carried along tasty pastries from a local bakery, Upper Crust on Burnet Road, that would act as both sustenance for me and my classmates and a bribe of sorts for the professor.

Her idea, not mine, I swear!

After licking the last of the cinnamon off of my fingers, I got to work on my last three new pieces for the class. They used up the remaining clay from my first twenty-five pound bag (I’m saving the other for next semester), and I think at least one of them will be in the running to be included as one of the final ten to present for my grade. The rest of the morning involved dipping a freeform bowl into a vat full of honey amber glaze and adding complementary spodumene glaze with a paint brush to make the accidental drips into purposeful design, painting the finishing outlines for a vase for my mom with underglaze and beginning the design on another vase that will be a gift for a friend, and adding the green and brown stripes to a large square bowl initially painted deep yellow.

It was in the midst of this work that I realized, or should I say rediscovered a little something about myself. Patience often eludes me during the detail work, no matter how many deep breaths I take.

Numerous times today I found myself painting a line too fast so that it blurred over the edge of the previous one or widened the line and made the design messy instead of nice and clean, and okay, yes, perfect. This wasn’t because my hands were shaky, but rather as an effect of the counting down of the classroom clock.

The same could be said for this thing I’m doing called NaNoWriMo. I can hear the quiet ticking of the word count clock, reminding me that only a few days remain to get the necessary detail work (aka the words I have yet to write) completed and the final piece (aka my compiled document) turned in and accounted for.

I started today’s writing session about a day and a half behind, still trying to catch up from my Wednesday-Thursday break, and the ticking was tocking a little louder than usual. I started out slow, mostly because I listened to-slash-watched a movie on TV. Once I shut the DVR off and really got down to business, the detail work came out easily and clean so that as of tonight, my deficit is only 603 words.

Take that, tick tock clock.