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Indescribable Books

Ever have those books that you can’t describe? One of those stories that just swallows you up, heart and soul, but for the life of you, you just cannot describe it properly enough to give it justice?

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is that book for me.

The book has already been out for a little over three years, but it still seems brand new. I had thought the premise was interesting when it had first been published, if only because the author had written it due to NaNoWriMo. It was exciting to know a fellow NaNoer had broken into the publishing industry and, although I don’t know her personally, I was proud of her success. After the book was published (like, months after, maybe a year later), one of my old friends had thrust her copy of the novel into my hands, demanding that I read it.

Come to think of it, she couldn’t really give me a good, proper description of it either.

I devoured the book. I could not – did not want – to put the novel down. I had other borrowed books, most of them from Rachel’s old boyfriend (who was very confused as to why it took me years to read his borrowed books, but mere days to read The Night Circus, and all Rachel could say was that, while his books were good, they were not as soul-sucking as The Night Circus was for me), but they were abandoned in favor the Morgenstern’s masterpiece.

Alas, I eventually had to return the book, and I had no idea what to do with my time for a while after finishing the story. Eventually, despite feeling as if I had lost a very dear friend, I had moved on with my life for the next two years. Until this past Christmas season, that is.

About half of my Christmas wish list consisted of books, and one of the latest additions to the list was The Night Circus. I don’t know what prompted me to think of the story again, but it wasn’t a thought I pondered about for long. It was a welcome present and, despite the other dozen or so books that I have unread on my bookshelf, The Night Circus was the first book I began to read after the holidays wound down.

My mother asked me recently what The Night Circus was about, and I was stumped. “Magic,” was the first word that popped into my head, then came the not-so-brilliant, “It’s about a circus that’s only opened at night.” Seriously, duh. I started to ramble. “There’s a love story beneath it all, it’s really about a competition between these two magicians, but they didn’t enter the competition themselves, and they use all sorts of magic to help create and maintain this circus. The circus isn’t a typical three-ring affair with lion tamers and acrobats, but filled with many sorts of tents, like one created entirely of ice and a pool where you throw stones to get rid of those weights of the world on your shoulder…”

That’s really all I remember. My mom began to just give me a smile, one of those amusing kinds of smiles that said she was humoring me and enjoying the fact that I loved the book so much.

The Night Circus is one of those stories where you have to read it several times. The first time you plow through the pages and chapters, eagerly getting to the end just to see what happens because you’ll die if you don’t find out right. Now. The second (and the third and the forth and so on) time you read it, you taste it slowly, relishing the small bites, the intricate details you missed on your first flight through the words. It’s an amazing bookshelf addition for everyone who enjoys a world with magic, a bit of romance, and just the fantastical blending beautifully with people.

I hope everyone out there has a book that they cannot properly describe.

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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Home

 

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Scribble: Common Grounds Cafe 2

The next part of the Common Grounds Cafe. These things are fun to write! I hope you enjoy it!

The scent of cinnamon-sprinkled apples awakened Diana’s nose and made her feel almost at home again. She wore a lazy smile as she walked into the café, her shoes shuffling across the tiled floor in a soft hush, as she enjoyed the smells of flavored coffee.

“G’morning,” she said, and got a nod in response from Michael. As she put on her apron, Diana asked, “You always seem to open. Is that your normal shift?”

Another nod.

Diana blinked. Butterflies began to assault her stomach, a feeling that she hadn’t experienced in almost a week since her first few days at Common Grounds. Had she done something wrong, something that prevented Michael from talking to her?

“Michael’s a mute, Hon.” Ellie appeared from the back room, her arms balancing sleeves of plastic cups and covers to get ready for the morning rush. “You haven’t realized that yet, huh?”

“Oh.” Diana glanced over at the manager, who, upon hearing his name, had glanced up at the women and gave them a quirked smile before continuing to open the register for the day. Diana wasn’t one to discriminate, of course, but she was curious as to how Michael could effectively manage and deal with difficult customers if he could not speak to them.

“The higher-ups like having Michael on the morning shifts,” Ellie said, as if she could read Diana’s mind. With a snake’s grin, the woman added, “This is the time when most jackasses are out, but they can’t argue well with a guy who just shakes his head at them.”

Diana smiled in return, oddly eager to see a customer try to argue with Michael. She got her station ready and, in no time at all, Michael was unlocking the front doors.

When she had first joined and learned that she would primarily be working the register for the first couple of weeks, Diana had been skeptical at how quickly she would be able to learn how to operate the machine. Her bosses apparently knew how to train their new workers, considering that Diana almost knew the register’s options by heart. With the simpler orders, Diana barely needed to look at the screen anymore. Her fingers flew across the options, hitting the correct buttons by heart.

“Seven twenty-five, please. Would you like your receipt?” Diana smiled at the customers as she counted their money or swiped their credit cards, and kept the line moving along as she wished them a good day.

“Large half-sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato.” A tall, thin man with a dark goatee matching his narrow eyes made his way to Diana’s register. “And it’s free.”

“Okay, that’s five thirty-eight—Excuse me?” Diana paused.

The man rolled his eyes. “It’s free. Name’s Luke. Everyone here knows me.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Diana said. “I’m new, so—“

“Obviously.”

“Just let me go and check—“

“What, you don’t believe me?” Luke glowered, and the butterflies were attacking Diana’s stomach in full-force. “You calling me a liar?”

“Of course not, but—“

“Then get me my free drink.”

“You got no free drinks!” Ellie, probably curious as to why Diana wasn’t inputting any orders in the queue, bustled over to Diana’s side. “Everyone here knows you as a cheat, Luke, including this new gal once we’re through with you. Either pay up or get out.”

Luke’s permanent scowl intensified. “Manager. Now.”

“Michael’s right over there, sir,” Diana said, pointing over toward the tables that the manager was cleaning up.

“He’s no sir!” Ellie scoffed, and returned to the drink-mixing area for the next order.

Luke marched over to Michael, and Diana took a deep breath before taking care of the next customer. She tried to ignore the customer’s increased volume with his shouts, and she felt guilty for foisting Luke onto Michael. However, when she snuck a glance at the two men while in between orders, she was impressed at how stoic her manager seemed. Michael’s arms were crossed, a cleaning rag in one hand and a spray bottle of disinfectant in the other, as he stared down Luke. Every so often, Michael would shake his head once, much to Luke’s aggravation. Eventually, Luke said something about calling corporate and getting everyone fired before stomping out of the café. Michael simply turned back around and continued to clean tables.

When there was a lull in the café, Diana’s first question to Ellie was, “What was that Luke guy’s problem? Who was he?”

Ellie huffed. “He’s a jerk that comes in once in a while, either early morning or late at night, always demanding his drink be free ever since he used to date one of the previous managers here.”

“That’s… ridiculous,” Diana said.

“People are,” Ellie said. “Let me just tell you this, Hon. If any customer claims that they are entitled to a free drink, always check with a manager. Doesn’t matter if the customer keeps arguing with you. Lie and say you don’t have the ability to make the drink free in the register or something. Just get a manager.”

“Alright,” Diana said. “I probably would have done so, anyway.”

“You got a head on your shoulders.” Ellie nodded with approval. “The last kid that was here got fired since he was so gullible.”

Diana winced in sympathy. She glanced over at Michael, seeing him through the office’s open door in the back of the café at the main computer. “Michael doesn’t mind that we sent the difficult customer to him, does he?”

“That’s his job,” Ellie said, cleaning some of the utensils and instruments used to make the drinks. “Don’t worry about it. Luke isn’t the first jerk that Michael’s faced off, and Luke won’t be the last.” Diana nodded, but wasn’t too convinced. Apparently, her skepticism showed, for Ellie added, “You’re going to meet a lot of different kinds of characters here, Hon. Working retail is crap, but it’ll give you tough skin and appreciativeness for others.”

A bubble popped from behind her, making Diana jump. She sighed and gave Colin’s smirk a crooked smile in return.

“Unless you’re Colin,” Ellie said to end her speech.

“What,” Diana said, “Colin doesn’t appreciate others?”

“It’s not that,” Colin said, tossing his belongings in the back room and giving Michael a nod, which Diana began to understand as the universal greeting between guys. “I don’t have tough skin. I’m very sensitive, you know.”

“As sensitive as a rhino’s hide,” Ellie muttered, and Diana laughed. “Your shift is done, Hon. Clock out and go home.”

“Unless you want to do my shift too,” Colin said. “You know, get the extra practice and all.”

“I think I’m good,” Diana said, taking off her apron and hanging it up. “Besides, you need to work on getting tougher skin, right?”

His smirk grew. “Not sure. After all, girls like sensitive guys, right?”

Diana shook her head. “Not if they’re lazy! See you later, everyone.”

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Scribbles

 

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July 2014 Camp NaNo

Happy Wednesday!

Another session of Camp NaNoWriMo is around the corner. Anyone else participating? Rachel and I are, with our usernames being Fiery_Sapphire and Winged_Spirit, respectively.

I’m more of a pantser when it comes to writing. I don’t do outlines much at all. Granted, I have a general idea as to where I want the novel to go, but I enjoy the ride when it comes to writing, liking the surprises that the plot, the setting, and the characters spring on me. For July’s Camp NaNo, though, I do have a tentative written outline for a novel.

Usually for NaNo, instead of starting a new novel like you’re “supposed to,” I just add my word count to whatever story I’m currently working on. This time, however, I’m going to try to “play by the rules” and write a new story at the beginning of camp. Due to this, I’m trying to get into the habit of writing every day, at least 500 words, on something, whether it be just a story idea or a new part to an existing novel sitting on my flash drive. Hence why there have been scribbles and prompts posted on here for the past couple of days.

Critique and comments are always appreciated on them! If anyone wants to share prompts, or use one of the prompts that I have used, let me know and comment with links to the stories that use the prompts. I’d love to see them!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Home

 

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Scribble: Amuse Me

Another scribble that I hope you folks will enjoy. Critique is always appreciated!

“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hit over the head with a frying pan.”

Cosmo blinked as he heard Murphy’s words when the other young man entered the dining area with a tray full of chocolate cake pieces. “Goofing off again?” he asked.

“No, I was legitimately asking Lydia if she would go out with me,” Murphy said. “If it wasn’t for my awesome reflexes, I would have been decapitated. The forearm strength of our gorgeous cook is amazing!”

“She’s going to file for sexual harassment one day,” Cosmo said, glancing around his host’s podium to be sure no customers were within earshot.

“Nah, she loves the attention,” Murphy called out as he went to deliver the desserts to table ten. Cosmo shook his head and plastered on a fake smile as a young couple approached him to ask for a private booth. Being a slow Tuesday night, he was able to offer the pair a wide variety of seats and decided to place them in Zoe’s section; if they were put in Murphy’s section, Murphy most likely would not have been able to resist flirting harmlessly with the woman.

“Your waitress will be with you shortly,” Cosmo told the pair after they had been seated. As he left to return to his station, he added, “Enjoy your meals.”

Cosmo fidgeted by his podium and kept glancing at his watch. He still had a few more hours before closing time, and the restaurant was almost deserted. Cosmo wondered how much trouble he would get into if he faked a plumbing or electrical problem and closed the place early.

“Hey, boss.” Murphy reappeared, his shirt covered in what appeared to be wine. “The lady at table twelve isn’t too happy.”

Cosmo groaned. “What happened?”

“The wine wasn’t red enough.”

“…What?”

Murphy was looking down at his shirt. “I disagree with her,” he said conversationally. “My white shirt is definitely red now. Anyway, sorry, but she wants to see a manager to complain.” Murphy clapped Cosmo on the back as he passed by to go back into the kitchen. “Good luck!”

Cosmo took a deep breath before calling over Zoe to watch the front, and made his way to table twelve. There a solitary woman sat, a long cigarette clutched precariously between her fingers as she stared at a newspaper. Her dark red hair was pulled up in a tight bun with blue and green feathers poking out of it. Her lips were drenched in crimson lipstick, matching the dress that looked as if its’ seams were about to burst. Cosmo didn’t remember seating the woman, and guessed that the previous host of the day had given her the private booth. He wondered if she would be offended if he reached over to open a window to get rid of the hazy smoke circling her head.

“Hello, ma’am,” Cosmo said. “I am Cosmo, one of the managers for the night. How can I be of assistance?”

“Your wine,” she muttered, “is inadequate. I require something more…red. Like blood.”

Cosmo tried to school his expression into remaining neutral, despite the fact that his mind was racing with the possibility of this woman being utterly crazy. How close were the police to the restaurant? Was a lady wanting blood-red wine enough of a reason to call them?

“I apologize if you did not like the wine that was brought to you,” he said. “I will personally go into the kitchen and find our reddest wine for you.”

She chuckled. “See that you do.”

Cosmo couldn’t walk fast enough away from the woman, and nearly ran into the kitchen.

“Jesus, that lady is scary…!”

“Aw, Cosmo, that’s not very nice.” Murphy was still there and leaning against one of the counters. “Lydia’s not scary.”

“Not Lydia,” Cosmo snapped as he went to the wine rack. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Lydia shove Murphy away from her counter to start kneading dough for more bread. “I was talking about the woman at table twelve.”

“Ah, the Lady in Red,” Murphy said. He began to sing the Chris DeBurgh song, and even attempted to pull Lydia into a dance. Lydia threw some flour on his shirt to add to the wine as she ignored him and returned to her dough. “At least my shirt’s white again—”

“Lydia, is this our reddest wine?” Cosmo asked.

She glanced at him, clearly bemused, but looked at the title. “That’s it,” she said, and returned to her duties. Cosmo thanked her and left the kitchen, dragging Murphy with him to go clean up some empty tables while Murphy waited for the food for his occupied tables to be done. Cosmo ignored Murphy complaining about Cosmo interrupting his alone time with Lydia while making his way back to table twelve with the wine.

“Ma’am,” Cosmo said, and waited for her to look up from her newspaper. He held out the bottle for her inspection. “I’m afraid this wine is the reddest that we have. Will this do?”

She peered at it critically, looking at the bottle on all sides including the bottom. Her nose wrinkled, and Cosmo had a sudden fear that she would throw the bottle back at him, but she eventually shrugged and said, “I suppose. Pour me half a glass and leave the bottle here.”

Cosmo stole a glass from a nearby empty table and did as she said. “I hope you enjoy it.”

She just waved him away, her attention back on her newspaper. He glanced at the paper, curious as to what story she was so enthralled with, but soon hurried back to his station. Murphy was by the podium, apparently choosing to let Zoe return to her tables instead of cleaning like Cosmo said.

“Do you know what she’s reading?” Cosmo asked.

“I think she’s in the middle of one of those romance books,” Murphy said. “You know, the supernatural ones—”

Cosmo stared at Murphy, dumbfounded. “What?”

“Yeah, I saw the novel sticking out of Lydia’s bag—”

“Stop obsessing over the cook,” Cosmo said, lightly punching Murphy’s arm. Murphy rubbed the spot as Cosmo continued speaking. “That red lady’s newspaper is all in some sort of weird language with symbols instead of letters.”

“So, she has a Japanese newspaper,” Murphy said with a shrug. “I thought we already established that she’s a bit eccentric.”

“The title has little pictures of wings and sparkles decorating the letters,” Cosmo said.

The waiter stared at him. “Okay, so… I have no idea what to say to that. I’m not sure why you care—”

“Make sure you take good care of table twelve,” Cosmo said with a sigh. “I want that lady out of here as soon as possible.”

Murphy raised an eyebrow. “She seems to like you,” he said, glancing behind the manager at the table’s direction. “In fact, she’s beckoning to you right now.”

Cosmo turned around and noticed that the woman was indeed motioning with her index finger for him to return to her. He gave her a polite smile, had a ten-second whispered argument with Murphy about who should go, lost the sequential rock-paper-scissors game, and made his way over to the table.

“Hello,” he said. “How may I help you this time?”

“What is the best area to see the full moon around here?” she asked.

He paused. “In all honesty, there are not too many places within the town’s limits,” Cosmo said. “Perhaps you could try Green Park? There are some sections of it around the pond that don’t have too many tall trees or buildings to block out the sky.”

“Where is that?”

Cosmo tried not to cough from the cigarette smoke she had exhaled toward him when she spoke. “It’s right after the town’s center,” he said. “You take a right after leaving our parking lot and you go down Main Street. Keep going straight until you see Woods Lane on your right. Go down that road, it’ll curve a bit as it goes around the pond, and you’ll eventually find the parking lot for Green Park. Walk along the park’s sidewalk until you find a spot you like to watch the moon.”

She hummed in thought, and then nodded. “When does this restaurant close?”

“It closes at 11 o’clock, ma’am,” Cosmo said, glad for an easy question.

“Are you here until then?” was her next inquiry.

“Yes I am, ma’am.”

“Very well.” She turned her attention back to her newspaper. “I shall wait until you get off to take me to this Green Park.”

Cosmo’s stomach dropped. “E-excuse me?”

“I do not know this area,” she said. She turned a page of the newspaper, her eyes not leaving it. “I will require you to take me to Green Park.”

“Ma’am, I will be needed here past 11 o’clock to supervise the clean up routine,” Cosmo said, grasping at imaginary excuses for this woman to leave him alone.

“There are benches outside for me to wait,” she said. “I have lived a long time and am a very patient woman.”

Cosmo glanced at her, figuring that she didn’t look any older than her forties. “Um, ma’am—”

“Hey, boss.” Murphy clapped Cosmo on the shoulder, and gave the woman a polite, “Excuse me,” before directing his attention back to Cosmo. “Sorry for interrupting, but I wanted to tell you before I forgot. Your mechanic called and said that your car wouldn’t be ready for a couple of days. It looks like you’re stuck with the town bus for a bit.”

Cosmo raised an eyebrow at Murphy, whom flashed a grin at the red lady and apologized once more at interrupting before making his way to the kitchen.

“You do not have your vehicle?” the woman asked.

“No, ma’am,” Cosmo lied, thinking of his little truck in the employees’ parking area. “I was just about to mention that. The tire blew out this morning on my way to the bank.”

“It will take a few days to fix a tire?”

Cosmo inwardly cursed his stupidity, but settled for a polite shrug. “I guess my mechanic found something else wrong with it, in which case I was lucky the tire blew at this time. Better to get it all fixed now, I suppose.”

She stared at him before looking back at her paper. “Very well, I will find this Green Park myself. Good luck with your vehicle.”

“Thank you, ma’am.” He waited for half a second to see if she was going to say anything else before speed-walking back to his podium. Murphy was there and grinned at him.

“So, can I take your car for the night to help with the story?” he asked.

Cosmo sighed and gave the waiter a crooked smile. “Fine, but don’t scratch it or dent it or eat food in it—”

“Alright, alright, I’ll take good care of your baby,” Murphy said.

“Thank you, though, honestly,” Cosmo said.

“No problem,” Murphy said. “That lady sounded so sketchy, asking you to take her to the park.”

“Tell me about it,” Cosmo muttered. “I’ll trade you my car keys for your bus fare, if you don’t mind…?”

“It sounds like a deal,” Murphy said. He went back into the kitchen, and Cosmo shook his head as he heard Murphy say to Lydia, “Hey, I got a car tonight! Now can we go out?”

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful, and Cosmo was thankful that the lady in red walked out of the restaurant around quarter to 10. She didn’t pay for her wine or rare steak, but Cosmo wasn’t too concerned with it. The woman was bizarre, and he hoped that she wouldn’t return to the restaurant ever again, or at least not when he was working. After they closed up the restaurant and cleaned up at the end of the night, Cosmo watched forlornly as Murphy took his car for the night (Cosmo had even asked to call the deal off, but Murphy mentioned the possibility of the scary lady watching from the bushes to be sure that Cosmo really did take the bus, and Cosmo didn’t really argue with his friend), and went to the bus stop for the town bus.

The bus ride took about twenty minutes to get to his stop, and it took Cosmo another ten to walk home. During that time, he tried to forget about the lady, instead focusing his thoughts on what he was going to do on his day off tomorrow without a car. He made it to his front door, inserted his key into the lock, and looked up at the sky as he turned his doorknob in time to see the full moon blow up.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Scribbles

 

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Scribble: Metamorphosis 3

A companion to this post and this post, these are more 100-word drabbles about “Downfall” sharing the metamorphosis theme. Enjoy!

Advance

It was amazing how far they had advanced in their journey. He had never expected to see most of his home country let alone travel the rest of the continent. From traveling through Akyna to being chased out of Geist to finally seeing Falson, he had been left in awe of the continent’s landscapes. Now, finally making it to Falson, he was downright dumbfounded. He never expected to see the custom buildings, the cleanliness of the cities… Basically, he did not expect Falsonians to be so civilized. If he voiced that particular thought, he knew his companion would kill him.

Development

It had been an interesting development, to say the least. She had thought that Halflings were just a myth. To think that a Spiriter and a Mage had loved each other enough to produce her companion was bewildering. As long as she had been alive, she had never heard of any stories of their different races getting together like that. Sure, Spiriters and Mages were capable of being cordial to each other, especially in Geist, but… No, she had never expected that her companion was part Spiriter, probably part bird. Perhaps that was one reason why she didn’t mind him.

Distortion

The world seemed like a distortion to him. Him, part Spiriter? The idea was ludicrous. He had been born in Akyna, raised in a Mage family. There was no way he shared his spirit with a bird. Wouldn’t he have realized it before? Why hadn’t there been some sort of indication that his blood was mixed? A voice in his head asked if there were some indications that he had ignored that signified him as no ordinary Air Mage. His Magic had been easy to him, his strength the envy of his classmates. Had those been signs of his heritage?

Diversity

He had always believed that their magic had plenty of diversity. After meeting her, however, and hearing her scoff at how little magic they apparently did, he revised his thoughts (after being annoyed at her opinion). Her people’s form of magic was similar, yet there was so much more variety. She was part wolf, a creature of Fire. Lions, foxes, eagles, and so many other creatures claimed Fire as their element, and Air and Earth had just as many creatures under their control. Each animal had unique talents, whereas his people’s magic consisted of what you learned and nothing more.

Novelty

She wasn’t so proud to admit that his magic fascinated her. Being an Air Mage, he was able to harness the winds in ways similar to a Wind Spiriter, yet without the need to shift. It was a novelty, really. Seeing someone float through the air without wings and feathers was a thrill for her. She loved being a wolf, but everyone wondered how it felt to fly at some point in their life. Maybe if she caught him a good enough mood during a moment when they weren’t being hunted, he would let her experience the sensation of flight…

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Scribbles

 

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Random Generators

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post talking about random generators and how awesome they can be in helping to jump-start stories or ideas for those that love to write (or whatever… I’m sure the generators can be used for many other things as well).

I recently discovered this little gem of a site: Fantasy Name Generators. Not only does it have a plethora of generators for character names, there are also description and name generators for places, animals, spells, superpowers, book titles, and so many other categories. I took inspiration from the tavern description generator and the cafe name generator for my latest scribbles The Steelclouds and Common Grounds, respectively.

A couple of other of my favorite generator sites are the Seventh Sanctum and Serendipity.

Happy writing!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Home

 

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NaNo Day 7 – Character Appreciation

Dory, from Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

NaNoWriMo Day Seven Word Goal: 11666
Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 12170/50000
My NaNo Profile: Winged_Spirit

This year (or maybe previous years as well and I’ve just never noticed it), the NaNo site has a word count validator available all month where one just copies and pastes one’s whole novel into the little box and NaNo will count how many words you have. It’s fantastic if one is like me and bounces from Microsoft Word to OpenOffice, both of which tend to disagree with word counts, with a story. Now I have a tool that will always be able to correctly count words for when it really matters.

Anyways, I’m still doing well with NaNo, and I’m hoping to continue this streak despite the coming Week Two, in which most NaNoers feel the pressure, and the temptation to slow down the challenge is huge. My characters are being awesome, especially this random side character named Eddie. He’s a classmate and a student to the main characters, and has already proven to have a good sense of humor, leadership qualities, and seems to be supportive of everyone. He may have to have more of a prominent role in the story…

Here’s hoping that everyone else is having good luck with their writing, characters, and life in general. 🙂

Also, here’s the obligatory link to Rachel’s blog, because we always link to each other with every post, haha!

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2013 in Home

 

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