Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo - DONE

I did it. Wait, let me say that again... I. Did. It. Did what? Completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Wrote 50,000 words in 30 days! Actually, it was 50,592 words in more like (less like?) 20 days or so. Because there were at the very least 10 days when I wrote not ONE WORD. And today? I wrote over 8,000 of them in order to finish on time.

But, the important part? I did it!!!!

And even more important? I wrote good stuff. Really good stuff. This novel, which has been rolling around in my head, on paper, on disk drives, etc., for the last decade plus, has finally taken shape.

At the start of this month, I decided that instead of starting yet another novel that would never be finished, I was going back to my original "work in progress" to try to breath new life into. I was in love with my two main characters, but decided the story itself just wasn't working for me. So, I scrapped the entire thing and started from scratch with everything but the main characters...them I kept.

And the most amazing thing happened, it took about 35,000 words, and suddenly, the new story began to take shape, to have direction, to make perfect sense. Suddenly, it was all there in front of me.

Now, at 50,592 words, I know exactly where my characters are taking me. I probably have another 20,000 words or so before I'm done, and then, it'll be time to go back and edit, tweak, add some stuff...really make it work.

I am excited to keep working on it and see where I end up.

But, pssst...I DID IT!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Karina from the Block

Once in a while something will trigger not so much a memory as a feeling of the girl I used to be. It is in those moments that I look at my present life and wonder what the people who knew me then would think if they could see me now.

In all honesty, my present path is not necessarily unexpected. I’ve always been driven, hard working, determined to succeed. I’ve always been independent, serious, and strong. I’ve always been a person of faith, with a giving loving heart.

So, perhaps, the woman I am is in fact a natural byproduct of the girl I used to be. Deep down, where it matters most, I am who I’ve always been.

It is the on the surface, the outside me, that has changed so much. It was a gradual change, so subtle in fact, that I barely even noticed it as it happened.

But now and again, something will remind me of that other me, and a smile will form at the corner of my lips. Even more than wondering what my friends then would think of me now…I smile at the thought of what those who know me now, would think of the girl I used to be.

The few friends I have now who knew me then will know exactly what I speak of.

Let me explain in the quickest way I know how. Listening to the radio the other day, this song came on, I think it’s called “Sexy Chick” by David Guetta and the lyrics say something along the lines of “I’m trying to find the words to describe this girl, without being disrespectful”.

As I listen to that song, a song that is not exactly a musical masterpiece, a song that is about a hot girl in a club and all the ways her body moves that make this guy want to get to know her better, I laugh. Because this song? Has nothing at all to do with the woman I am today. And yet, something about that song pulls me in each and every time I hear it. There is a ring of nostalgia attached to this song, because once upon a time, I was that girl.

Once upon a time, when my friends and I spent every weekend at dance clubs, shaking our booties, flirting with men very much like the guy singing this song…that was the world I lived in.

Hell, I dated, fell in love, and had my heart broken by that guy. More than once. I was not your typical girl from the suburbs, crossing that line into the other side of the tracks for an adrenaline rush. I fit in that world, it was where I belonged more than anywhere else at that particular time in my life.

And yet, today, that world seems so distant to me. So foreign. In no way can I merge that version of me with this version of me and make sense of it all.

But, the truth is, the girl I used to be still lives inside me. Underneath the more suburban me is that club girl, and she still thoroughly enjoys reminders of her hip-hop life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This One's Got Bite

What is it about Vampires? Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, which, by the way, might be a perfectly dank enough place to find yourself a vampire or two, there are a few Vampire themed events going on in pop culture at the moment.

The most obvious and anticipated one, is, of course, the release of New Moon, movie number 2 in the Twilight Series, which comes out today...or to be exact, last night, at midnight.... Just in case you are in any way doubtful about the SERIOUSNESS of this event, I encourage you to turn on your television, point your web browser to...oh any website with any news on it, or go ahead, check Twitter and it's Trending Topics. See, I told you!

But, I digress. Let’s get back to the Vampires.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have been infatuated with all things vamp since I picked up my first copy of The Vampire Lestat WAY back in my teens. I read through Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles with such voracity that I actually had to stop reading them at one point, such were the nightmares they were bringing out at night.

From the dark world Rice wrote about, I moved onto lighter fare, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With incredibly well written wit and sarcasm, this show, and later, it’s spin-off Angel, would supply me with all the vampires I needed for nearly a decade. The tortured Angel, the evil and yet so delectable Spike, true vamps who would burst into flames in sunlight, and couldn’t enter sacred ground. And of course, the “not completely human” girl, tortured in love with the vamp she can’t have, and the one she knows better than to get involved with.

After Buffy, truth be told, vampire lore lost its appeal to me for a while. There were the occasional movie, television show, or book, but it seemed pop culture had taken a break from worshiping the fanged ones.

And then, suddenly, out of the blue, they raised from their graves again, to completely saturate the market. Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, suddenly the vamps were back with a vengeance. At first, I resisted. I’d moved on, I’d left my vampire crushes behind. Angel was now solving crimes in an FBI suit and tie, Buffy was having babies and making really bad movies, Willow was friends with Barney, Spike was nowhere to be found, and I had left that world behind.

But like the supernatural power of persuasion these mythical beings are known to possess…I couldn’t stay away. Even as I made fun of his sparkly skin, and her dark gloomy emo attitude, I was pulled into Edward and Bella’s world. For the first time since having met my first vampire, however, I found myself siding with the other species. Yes folks, I am indeed on Team Jacob, even after book 4. I blame it not so much on Edward’s dark and gloomy as I do on Bella’s. I like the Bella Jacob brings out a whole lot more, so that wins him points. But regardless of my quips, I admit it, I’ve been sucked into the Twilight world, and I too will be going to see New Moon…just not this weekend. Before all the Twilight diehards go on the attack, let me clarify, I thoroughly enjoyed the books. They were fun reads. But I never found myself falling completely in love with any of the characters, and then, as if I wasn’t enough on the fence with Edward, the casting directors go and pick Rob Pattinson to portray him in the movies. He just didn’t fit for me, and ruined any chance I had of creating a more likeable imaginary character in my head. (I am now ducking to avoid all the objects being thrown at me). But, Twilight was enjoyable enough to suck me back into my love affair with Vampires.

Then there was True Blood. Where Twilight is chaste and innocent, True Blood is borderline um…well no, it actually crosses the line. Often. Still, the formula appears here as well. With the dark and tortured Vamp Bill Compton. The “not quite human” girl Sookie. The meaner, nearly evil Vamp Eric. And all the other creatures of the night we only hope not to ever dream about. But True Blood is not for the faint of heart. And yet, I love it. It is dark, and twisty, and just so plain wrong. And so, so good.

And then, more recently, I decided to give The Vampire Diaries a looksy. All I’d heard about the show was that it involved a (so far as we know it) human girl, and two vamps. Brothers. One, tortured and brooding, one dark and twisty. I’d also heard the talk of how it carried similarities to Twilight, but was in fact, based on books that were written well before Twilight was even dreamt up. That alone led me to investigate. And, I have to tell you, I’m hooked.

What Twilight lacks (both in the books and the movies) is a sense of humor about itself. As much as I’ve been sucked into that world, I’ve always felt something was lacking, and Vampire Diaries reminded me what it was. A little darker (albeit much lighter fare than True Blood), a little sexier (Stefan far out-sexys Edward, sorry girls), and Damon brought back the much beloved “Spike” for me. Dark, evil, twisted and…funny. In a “I’m making fun of you, of myself, of this very genre, but you just don’t see it” sort of way. I think this show has great potential, and am intrigued to see where it is taken.

And here I am…again completely smitten with those dark mysterious creatures of the night. What is it about Vampires anyway?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Retail Therapy?

If shopping were an Olympic sport, and bargain hunting a specialty, I would proudly stand on that podium, gold medal around my neck, bouquet of flowers in my hand, in the red, white, and blue designer jogging suit, singing along with our National Anthem.

I can shop like the best of them, and there isn’t a bargain I can’t sniff out.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been known for my fashion savvy, but along with that comes the knowledge that my extensive wardrobe has cost me less than probably one third of most people’s much smaller one.

I am a recreational shopper. Taking real pleasure in spending an entire
afternoon bouncing from store to store, sorting through racks and racks of clothing and shoes, walking away with bags of bargains.

I am a determined shopper. When I have my mind set on a particular
purchase, there is no stopping me from attaining my goal.

I am an educated shopper. If I want an item of expense, I’ve researched all alternatives, scoured all websites, found any lower priced options, and
clipped any coupons available.

I am an impulse shopper. But only if that impulse buy is on sale.

I very rarely pay full price for any item.

And I am, indeed, an emotional shopper.

When all else is stressing me out, when life isn’t going according to plan, when my emotions are getting the best of me…I shop. And most of the time, I instantly feel better.

But I am also reasonably responsible with my expenses, so I know when to stop. I know when too much is too much, and when I need to leave the
item behind and walk away empty handed.

In fact, more often than not, I will walk through a store holding on to those few items that grab my attention, only to put them back one by one before I ever make it to the register. Sometimes, the mere act of thinking I’m going to buy something is sufficient to give me that “shopper’s high”.

Yes, I am a shopaholic, but I am in full control of my addiction. My priorities
are in order. Bills first, pleasure shopping only if and when there is money left over.

And even then, I sometimes test myself, just to prove I have a handle on this habit of mine.

Such as this week when I decided that I was putting myself on a shopping fast. I’m not entirely sure how long this fast is supposed to last, I haven’t decided an endpoint, though, Thanksgiving feels right to me.

Those who know me are surely laughing at this point, because you all know this can’t possibly last very long…but it doesn’t really have to. I don’t NEED to curb my shopping. I just felt I should. For now. Just…because.

I like challenging myself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Half-Way There

This weekend marked the Half-way point for NaNoWriMo. At this point, if you haven’t already quit, you’ve probably threatened to do so at least a handful of times. I know I have. I’ve threatened to not only quit, but delete my entire manuscript and forget it ever existed.

Never mind this is a story that I’ve been carrying in my brain for the better part of the last 10 years. There is no “deleting” this story, it has haunted me, creeping up in the most unexpected ways, at the most inappropriate times. My two main characters are like old friends who live far away, but stop by for a visit every few years.

I miss them when they are not here, but when they are here, they tend to overstay their welcome, and drive me crazy.

But I love them dearly, and would never even dream of telling them to leave before they are ready to go. And when they do decide they’ve had enough…I miss them immediately after they’ve gone.

Their story, however, has evolved over the years. And as I tackle this new version of it with NaNoWriMo I find myself completely unsure of where it is going, and what they are trying to tell me.

One thing is for certain however, they are still completely and utterly in love with each other, and I am in turn, still madly and deeply in love with them and the driving force behind this story I must tell.

And that is all I know. I cannot tell you what genre my book will end up being, for I do not know. True, it is a love story, but it is something else as well, and they are just know, at the half way point, beginning to let me in on their secret.

So, you ask me, what is your book about exactly, and I laugh. Don’t ask me, ask them…but don’t expect an answer, for they will only tell you when they are good and ready.

And I? I’ll just keep writing away, reaching for the 50 thousand words, and beyond, and hoping they’ll trust me enough somewhere along the journey to clue me in to the destination.

And then, I’ll tell you all their secrets, I promise.

Friday, November 13, 2009

For the Sake of Brevity

Brevity is the soul of wit – Shakespeare

I have never been accused of being a woman of few words. Stop laughing, I know I talk (and/or write) A LOT.

Shut up! I can’t help it; I’m a lover of words, and therefore, take real pleasure in putting as many of them out there into the universe as I can.

Nowhere is this truer than here, on this blog. Once I get started writing a post, it seems to take on a life of its own and go on for days.

Trouble is, I find I have very little time to invest in writing my typically lengthy posts of late, and so I end up not writing much of anything instead.

Then, I go weeks without a blog post. And I miss blogging. I miss interacting with my readers, sharing of myself with all of you, telling you all the little things that inspire or intrigue me on a daily (or even weekly) basis.

I have an internal discussion with myself almost daily about whether or not it is time to hang up this here blogger’s cap and give it all up.

But then I have an anxiety attack and realize I could never do that. I’m just not a quitter.

So, I’m going to try a new experiment. Shorter blog posts. I’m not making any promises; after all…I hardly ever know when to shut up. But I’m going to attempt it, and see where that gets me.

What do you think?

We’ll start here. In fact…we’ll stop here for today.

Blessed is the man (blogger) who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. - George Eliot

Friday, November 06, 2009

Here we NaNoWriMo Again...

For those unfamiliar with it, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, also known as November, also known as a bunch of crazy people sign up to write 50,000 words in one month and then pull their hair out of their head trying to make their daily and weekly word counts, but if it all goes well, at the end of it, they have a novel. Or the beginning of a novel. Or something like that.


So, NaNoWriMo.

It’s a pretty lofty goal for just about anyone. 50,000 words in a month average out to a little over 1600 words per day. That may not sound like a lot, but look at it this way, this post? 560words. Yeah…1,600 words is a lot. Especially because writing a novel requires a story, characters, and it requires you to be able to keep that story going…writer’s block has a tendency to set in when you’re facing a deadline. At least it does for me. Add to that the fact that I work a 9-5 job, and have about 18 million other commitments coming up for the month of November and…well, yes, I’m absolutely insane for signing up for NaNoWriMo.

And yet, the challenge adds to it an element of urgency which forces me to focus and actually sit down and write daily. I’ve done it for at least two years now, completing the 50,000 word goal last year for the first time.

Truth be told, the novel I began last year has sat pretty much untouched since December 1st, but I have high aspirations of returning to it one day.

In the meantime, this year, I decided to bend the rules a WEEE little bit and pick up my eternal work in progress. The novel I began writing well over a decade ago and have yet to finish. Technically, this is a no-no for NaNo, as you are supposed to start from scratch. However, I believe the true spirit of NaNo is to get writers to WRITE, and the rest of the rules are more like “suggestions” for me.

Also, I really love the characters in that novel, and they have been begging me to finish their story for ages. I feel now is the time to do so. And, in all fairness to the rest of the NaNoWriMo participants, it is “almost” as if I’m writing a brand new novel, because, you see…besides the fact that I love my two main characters, and have previously rewritten the prologue to the novel…I’ve scrapped pretty much the entirety of the remainder of it. I decided that as much as I love the character, I hated the existing story. In the last decade of so, I have grown, I have changed, and so have they.

They have matured, they have formed new attitudes and created new lives for themselves, and the old story line just wasn’t working anymore. So I tossed it.

I can’t even tell you where this one is going, because I haven’t the slightest idea. I just know that my two characters, who I have loved and known for over a decade now, have a story to tell, and I am merely the medium. I’ll type the words, but they’ll be guiding them.

I can’t wait to see what they have to show me.

So off we go then...