There Are Four Days Until NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

I suppose the title says enough. There are four days now until November first. As some of you might know, November first, for some, marks the beginning of the years most hectic month, but not because of Christmas shopping and turkey basting. It’s hectic because we get to begin a lot of that and write a novel. If you haven’t already read my first NaNoWriMo post, I encourage you to do so here. I won’t go over survival tips at this time, since I have some of the main ones in the last post. I am here to encourage you.

I didn’t do NaNo the first year I learned of it. I thought my friends were nuts for trying to do such a thing, especially since we were all in high school at the time. I had been writing but everything I wrote was small. Mostly short stories and poems. I didn’t think a high schooler was capable of writing something that long, after all we were still learning the basics, weren’t we? I was mistaken of course, and it wasn’t until the next year that I realized it. As my friends became more and more comfortable with sharing their work, I started to realize that someone so young could still write well regardless of how many classes they took. Writing isn’t about how many classes you have under your belt, nor is it about how official the writing is. What I learned is that to be a writer, you have to write. You can’t wait until you’re ready to write. You have to just do it, and poorly. You write poorly for however long it takes until you learn on your own what your own voice sounds like. Each writer has their own voice, and the words you use only help your voice, but no matter how many fancy words you throw in there, your voice is still your voice. So just write.

I can barely even share my writing with the world, but I’m going to write a novel. I already have a novel written, and two half complete novels. Those were the stories I  gave up on and then proceeded to beat myself up over. What kind of writer gives up on their writing? Truth is, most. In fact, they all might have given up on a story at one time or another. Not all stories are meant to be published, or even finished. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just suggest not giving up on each and every story, there are some that will sweep you away in the blink of an eye and you’ll be along for the journey just as your readers will be. Writing is fun and I encourage you to seek out the thrill of writing a story. It’s addicting too, so before you know it you’ll have plenty of notebooks filled up with different colored inks and quotes wrapped around your wrists and arms. Trust me, that was our thing in high school.

Don’t give up, if you’ve considered participating in a NaNoWriMo season, I strongly suggest you go along with it. The mere curiosity is proof enough that you are ready, otherwise you’d be wondering about cutting out paper snowflakes or which dumplings are best, the poofy light ones that float to the top of the gravy or the ones that are dense and doughy and sink to the bottom. You’re wondering about writing, writing a novel at that, so I say you’re ready. The time doesn’t get more perfect than it is now, with NaNo in just four days. You even have enough time to plan, considering most seasoned WriMo’s don’t even do that much before November first.

Give it a try, I promise you’ll like it.

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Two Weeks In: The Beginning Of A Vegetarian Life?

So, a little over two weeks ago I stated that I was going to try and remove meat from my diet. I was reluctant to say the word vegetarian, however. I couldn’t even say it to my boyfriend, or my family. I told them “I want to eat as little meat as possible.” Yeah, that’s why I went out on payday and bought all of the veggies I could get my hands on. Seriously. I never used to buy so many veggies, and if I did chances are they were frozen. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with frozen veggies, let me start there. But this time around, instead of my frozen corn and brussel sprouts, I got all sorts of lettuces that I’ve never tried, broccoli, carrots, artichokes, green onions, cilantro and that’s just the few that come to the top of my head. I’ve never really had room in my budget for fresh produce because I was saving most of my money for meat.

That’s the first thing I noticed, more money for the things that make me feel good, that until now were a luxury. Really. Artihcokes were a luxury. I couldn’t condone spending a whole dollar on the worlds smallest artichoke, when you only get such a tiny amount to eat from them. I bought two, and it didn’t even hurt. I couldn’t condone spending so much on herbs that I could just grow, so I’ve rarely bought herbs from a store unless they were dried. (And I still think growing them is the preferred method.) I even spent the extra dollar to buy dried beans because you get more in a bag than you do in a can. I’ve never even had a reason to do so until now. But beans are soon to be my main course in at least a few meals, I have the reason to get all fancy with my beans.

Why does it all feel so fancy? Buying fresh produce feels freakin’ fancy right now. And that’s not even considering the food I’ve made with it. Walking out of the super market with a paper bag (one paper bag, already less waste!) full of produce is kind of fancy. That’s what you see in comercials on prime time tv. It feels fancy because meat was always my mian course, meat is expensive, I never had the extra money for the produce to go with the meat, unless it was potatoes and an onion.

So, that’s my shopping experience. Filling up my cart with produce as my boyfriend shops for the biggest piece of meat that he can find that won’t break his wallet and will feed him for a week, I’ve got the whole top part of the cart full and he’s got just one measly package of meat and some cheese in his (and eventually he grabbed greenbeans to make stew). Onto the kitchen. I spent that afternoon cooking.I made myself some sesame noodles, which turned into a few lunches last week. I also made some rice and bean concoction, mixing crushed tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cilantro, green onion and carrots into it. This became the stuffing for some tortilla burritos, which became the other half of my lunches for the week. I had already been having overnight oats for breakfast in the mornings, so that was a quick and easy thing to make up every couple of nights. Then I had to figure out something for dinners, which wasn’t terribly hard. One of the nights I went out with my dad and his girlfriend, and I decided to try a veggie calzone with mushrooms, olives and broccoli. That turned out to be delicious, and I have no regrets. I had the two artichokes another night, stir fried broccoli, mushrooms, onions, sesame noodles and carrots another night. My favorite by far however was this recipe for roasted four cheese spaghetti squash. I could eat that every day, and I only had to make on change to it. Instead of using chicken boullion, I simply used a few spices I would put on a chicken myself, only because I’m not sure what “chicken powder” is, and that was the main ingredient in the boullion cube.

I’ve found, within the first two weeks, the most important tips a new vegetarian could find. Prep your meals. Always. Prep them, and also, shop for certain recipes. Make sure you’re buying what you need, rather than random things that you’ll throw together later in the week. Make sure what you’re buying can go together, or you risk having to go out again in the week for more ingredients, or whole meals. The second tip I’ve found is to not worry about your label. I feel odd calling myself vegetarian, I am afterall a very very new vegetarian. So am I really a vegetarian? I’m not a seasoned vegetarian anyway, so the word still leaves something of an aftertaste in my mouth. Forget labels. You’re not a vegetarian, you’re not anything. Just a human trying to eat, which happens to be humanities favorite past time, we even do it while experiencing our other favorite past times. When addressing my family, and my new diet, I left out the world vegetarian. They were the first to call me anything, and it was okay. No weird after taste, just pure conversation as I explained the things that turned me onto this new life style.

Turns out, I’m liking this a lot. I’m not finding many difficulties with it, and I’m already seeing good side effects. The most obvious was the money situation. I’m not struggling to keep my cart below a certain amount, in fact I’m struggling to spend everything in the budget. But I’m also mostly headache free, I’ve had one over the past two weeks, which is like  an all time low. I’m regular in the bathroom (sorry if that’s tmi, but it’s important even if we don’t talk about it.) I find that I have more energy already, I don’t get tired until sun down, where before I was yawning as early as noon. I’m finding that I’m fuller longer, and when I am full it’s not uncomfortable. I think these are all good things, and I’ll keep you updated on whatever else I notice.

The first two weeks have been successful, and I think this week I’ll be trying a new recipe. Something comforting as we fall into the fall season, litearlly. Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Chowder. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

While We Are Here, Lets Have Some Food


I remember when I was in middle school and took home economics class. I was taught the ins and outs of buying and consuming foods, how they are advertised, and a bunch of other things. They eventually did away with that class in my school, and I can’t figure out why. After all, I baked my first cake in that class. It was a double chocolate chili cake. It was really good and it showed me that baking wasn’t that scary. I wanted nothing more than to cook after that. It was during this time that I decided that I wanted to be vegetarian. I remember coming home and being told by both of my parents that it wasn’t do-able. I couldn’t for a few reasons, but mainly because how would I get all of the nutrients I needed, and it wasn’t cheap. How would they afford it? At this point, my home life was pretty rough as it was. My dad didn’t have a job, my mom was the only one working, and none of that helped my already difficult transition into young adult hood. My first reason for being vegetarian was for the animals. I had found a few articles online about what the animals in factories go through, and I couldn’t handle it. Secondly, I knew it was healthier, and here’s the funny thing. Nobody had ever told me it was healthier. If anything, I had been told that vegetarians are lacking in nutrients because they don’t eat meat and don’t drink milk. My efforts to become vegetarian were squashed, quickly. Before they even began.

So I sit here now, an adult, thinking back to all of this. I’ve seen video after video of the abuse that happens to animals, and I have always wanted it to end, and I’ve wished I could do my part to help it end, but before I moved to where I live now, I didn’t even have a way to help. I was throwing all of my money into bills, and the only places I could food shop in town were the pharmacy, dollar store and gas station. I didn’t have regular access to grocery stores. I had to do what I had to do, but I began noticing that I craved more and more natural food. I tried growing my own, but that didn’t go very well and I came out with a handful of sweet peppers, a lot of cilantro and mint, and three very small green tomatoes. I didn’t stop, I tried again this year, but I’m here with again, more mint, and one very tiny green tomato that I’m hoping will at least get big enough and red enough to give me seeds. I will try again in a year.

But the tension between my brain and my body is growing. I’ve been buying and eating almost nothing but veggies and fruit. When we have hamburgers, I find myself craving the crisp crunch of kale on top, with onion, pickles and dijon mustard. Take the patty off actually and throw on some olives, basil, spinach, cabbage, peppers and tomatoes. I’ll give you my patty if you promise I can have the rest. Each and every time, this is my wish. But I eat the damn patty, and I pay for it. My body doesn’t like the patty as much as my mouth seems to. My mind doesn’t like it either, my taste buds are lying to the rest of my body, and the rest of my body has become wise to these lies! So this morning I skipped breakfast. I have bacon here, and the plan was to have that bacon. I know that if I were vegetarian I would still have eggs, and probably yogurt/cheese too, and fish, but that’s the extent of my animal eating. Not because of anything except for how my body feels. I realize that those items are from animals, but I have to start somewhere and as of right now the only meat I’m eating (happily) is fish, eggs, and cheese/yogurt. I think I could leave it at that for now, and still be fine. I wouldn’t be alone either, there are a lot of vegetarians that eat those, but no red or white meat. I’m cool with that life.

So I’ve been adding things to my pinterest board that I have lovingly called Food 0.0. I know the whole board isn’t vegetarian, but I’m going to add those on. I know that part of my problem is not knowing what to eat. I’ve literally been surviving on grapes, fish and kale this week because I’m not sure what else to eat. Time to spice up life.

So here’s to beginning a new journey, and perfect timing too as we just welcomed a full moon into our skies. I’d call that synchronicity? Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but we will see. I’ll give myself a month to say goodbye to the meat that I already don’t want to eat, meaning if I have to eat a meal with meat because I’m stuck or out of food I can, but I really want to try this, all the way. I’m doing the searching now for recipes and ideas. So here goes, one full lunar cycle. I’ll check back and let you all know what I’ve found. I might even upload recipes that I find!

Wish me luck!

(P.S. You all should know that my cat is chasing her tail.)

NaNoWriMo 2016

All about NaNoWriMo

To those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a writing challenge that takes place during the month of November, from November 1st to November 30th. The goal is to write 50,000 words within those 30 days. The rules are that you have to write every word within those 30 days, midnight to midnight. I suppose that’s the only rule. Lots of people start something new, but it doesn’t have to be new. It can even be a re-write of something old, as long as all 50,000 words are newly written during November. You update your word count on the very useful website NaNoWriMo.org. I have been doing this for almost 5 years now, but the only year I have officially completed was last year. The two years previous to that I was unable to update online, so they kind of didn’t count.

I had been editing last year’s NaNo, and even added to it during Camp NaNo, which takes place during the months of April and July. During Camp Nano, you are able to choose your word count goal, and change it at any time. I chose 25,000 for both, but because I was moving during July, I was unable to continue that month. I’m actually going to start something new this year.

So what do you do if you’re interested in NaNoWriMo?

The very first thing I would suggest doing is breathe. 50,ooo words sounds like a lot. In some ways, it is a lot. But remember this. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone is only 90,000 words. That book doesn’t take too long to read, and it kicked off an insanely amazing series, who’s books only grew in size. 50,000 is a good start to a rough draft, and since NaNoWriMo is intended to be only the rough draft, I’d say don’t worry too much about how large of a number 50,000 is.

The idea behind NaNo (short for NaNoWriMo) is that we are all getting ready to build a sand castle. What’s the first thing you do when you build a sand castle? You gather the sand. Each and every word is a grain of sand. Your completed NaNo will be the sand you need to mold a castle. Most WriMo’s (NaNo writers) go back and edit during December and January.

So, you’ve decided to do NaNo. Okay. Gather some materials now. I’d say one notebook, a few pens, a highlighter or two, coffee (or tea/soda) and some munchies. You’re about to start a long process. I never start with the title. In fact, I don’t start with much except for one simple sentence. I expand on that when something comes to me, but other than that I move down to the next line and start another sentence. This is how I find the topic I will eventually write about. Keep a notebook, or folded piece of scribble paper handy. October is going to be a crucial month, this is the time where you get ready to write. All of the planning, if any, will be done now.

You’ve got your materials now, and a few ideas. Start forming characters, worlds, plots and my favorite part, the villains. Just brainstorm. All over the notebook. I don’t spend much time thinking either, if you over think, nothing gets written down. Just write. That’s how NaNo goes.

There is something very important you need to know about NaNo

The most important tip I have for you is this:

Do. Not. Edit. 

The month of November is not for editing. It’s for writing. Brainstorming. It’s for mistakes and mind changes. But whatever you do, do not put that pinky on the backspace button! Even if you forget a period or to capitalize a characters name. Even if you forgot to put the before the e. Just keep writing.

It’s almost November

Now, you’ve gone through the first motions of creating a book baby. You’ve created a few characters, an intriguing world, and a semi formed plot twist. You have notes scribbled in the margins of the notebook and you’ve found your favorite pen. What now? Well, it’ll almost be November now. It’s almost time to start your NaNo. What you need to know about writing is that there are certain programs that will help you during this time. My favorite one is Scrivener. They offer a  free 30 day trial (and a discount to all winners). What better time to try out the program than during your NaNo? Spend some time looking over the details of the program and see if it’s for you. There are numerous videos on youtube showing how to use the program. On Nov 1st, go ahead and activate the free trial. It’ll help more than I can describe.

Do I have any tips for you?

I’ve already told you not to edit. So I stress, don’t edit! But beyond that, I need you to know that there are other tips that can help you survive NaNoWriMo. Let your family and friends know what you’re doing. Writing 50,000 words isn’t easy, and it takes up a bit of time. Be prepared to spend lots of November doing nothing but writing. I like to try and keep myself a day ahead. I always start out with a bang, I over write. I try to keep up on that as long as possible because at some point something is going to happen that is going to make you lose a day or two. If you have a healthy amount of extra words, you can safely lose this time and not fall behind on NaNo. Which brings me to my second very important tip.

DO NOT FALL BEHIND. I really do mean this. Falling behind is what causes lots of WriMo’s to quite early. It becomes overwhelming and feels like a task that you no longer want to do. Try not to fall behind, and the best way I can say to do this is to write what you can. If you’re having a seriously busy day, don’t just put off your words for the next day. Try your hardest to get any amount of time in, weather it’s 15 minutes or 30. Half of your daily count means you won’t have as much to make up the next day.

Another thing that helps me is to do sprints. Set a timer, shut off any electronics, disconnect the internet if you must. Turn off the tv and close the door. The timer should be set for an amount of time that you feel comfortable with, 15-30 minutes. Write that entire time. I usually can get away with doing this twice a day and I end up with my daily count.

Speaking of which, you will have to write 1,667 words a day. That usually takes me about an hour, I type quickly. I suggest trying to work on how quickly and efficiently you can type in the month of October. You’re going to need it.

Sleep when you are tired. I remember last year when I was writing. I refused to drink coffee because I knew that once I got my word count in, I was going to go to sleep for the night. Half way through my writing I ended up dozing off, while typing. I guess it was more like a trance in which I was daydreaming, typing with my eyes shut. Somehow, my sci-fi character began talking about rescuing the second main character from “Hogwartz”. Just like that. I began rambling about this. Before I knew it, I had my word count, but it was all about this “Hogwartz” place. Get your sleep folks.

My final piece of advice? Don’t give up. Please. I beg you. Do not give up. This is important work. It’s a story itching to get out of you. It’s an entire world that will never exist if you don’t put it on paper. It’s a part of you that the world might never know, unless you write it down. Whatever you do, push through it, and keep pushing. Push until you can’t anymore, and then push some more. What you’re doing this November could change your entire world. Remember that. Look forward to how it will feel to have an entire novel at the end of November.

 

If you are going to do NaNoWriMo this year, I encourage you to share with everyone else. I encourage you to have fun with it. Insert tiny t-rex characters or a character that owns a cat who likes to cuddle the character’s left shoe. Be silly. Be serious. Make jokes. Be who you really are, and don’t doubt. At the end of this, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to show a single person. You don’t send your actual words to anyone, only the word count.

I wish you good luck, and happy typing. 🙂