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Archive for the tag “writing”

Tools of the Trade: White Noise

If you’re like me, you probably get distracted easily. So anything that helps me concentrate on my writing is a treasure. Last time I talked about 4thewords.com–a writing game that allows you to fight monsters with your words. My productivity has probably quadrupled since I started using the site. I’m on a 104 day streak!

Today, I’m going to offer up another tool that helps me. And that’s white noise. My hearing is… let’s just say it doesn’t like me much. When I need to hear–as in talking to someone or watching TV–I have a lot of trouble. Voices and sounds jumble together, making it frustrating to carry on a conversation. I’ve had to put the closed captioning on the TV or I miss a lot of the dialogue. But when I need the quiet, my ears seem to pick up every noise. And that’s a distraction. I run a fan 24/7 to help drown out the noise of five kids in the house, but that isn’t always enough.

Last week, I discovered white noise websites. Specifically, ones that make rain sounds. I had no idea what I was missing in my life. Rain is a white noise just like the fan. The only difference is the pitch changes some, and it sounds more natural. Add some thunder in, and I’m back in the Midwest in the midst of a storm.

I miss thunderstorms.

I highly suggest checking out one of the many sites out there.

The one I’m using right this second is noisli.com. It has several different sound options besides rain, such as streams, waves, and even a coffee house. You can mix and match the different sounds and adjust their volumes. So if you want to be in the middle of a thunderstorm, you can. If you want to be in the forest, listening to a babbling brook, you can. You can listen to a gentle rain at the coffee shop. Or sit around a campfire. Just find the right combination that works for you.

There are others.

mynoise.net has a slider system, like an equalizer on a stereo, that allows you to adjust each frequency of the rain and thunder. It also has presets for different settings like rain on a tent or distant thunder.

rain.today is another site I use. It lets you choose a few different rain/thunder options to adjust the sound. There are also white noise options like a television or other static.

rainymood.com has a simple on/off setting, but there are apps for Android and Apple.

ambient-mixer.com has nature sounds in a lot of settings. Like a tropical rain forest or a forest at night. That’s just in the nature section. There are other collections that can put you in the mood to write any setting. Their fantasy settings are especially popular.

There are a lot of other white noise and rain maker sites out there. rain.today lists several at the bottom of the page to look into.

I highly recommend one of these, or if you’re the kind of person that only seems to focus in a busy coffee shop, there are tons of those kind of sites out there as well. I’m sure you can find just the right combination of white noise to blot out the real world and let you concentrate on what is important: torturing your characters writing.

This Is the Best Day Ever!

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Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s been a good day.

First, I had an all-time record number of words. 16,236 words to be exact. Of course, I haven’t slept in almost 36 hours. But 16k!

Second, 100 day streak! Yeah, baby.

Third, I finally got my dream minivan!

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I’ve wanted a Town & Country for years. I figured some day I’d settle for a late model Dodge Grand Caravan which is the “poor” man’s version of the T&C. Well, after the truck broke down, my husband had no choice but to buy a new vehicle to get everyone home.

They told me they were getting me a “Susan,” which is what we named the rental we got years ago. I was excited, although anxious about new car payments after just buying a house. But what are ya going to do?

They finally get home, and I’m shocked to not just see my Town & Country, but the thing is flippin’ fully loaded. DVD player, Sirius (which isn’t hooked up), leather seats, imitation wood trim, all sorts of fancy buttons and dials.

Now I really, really don’t want to know what he paid for this or how we’re going to afford the monthly bills. Yikes.

I’m not sure what year the T&C is, but it is, by far, the nicest, most expensive vehicle I’ve ever owned. I get to drive it tomorrow. Squee! The kids want to call it “Destiny,” since it was apparently our destiny to break down there and buy her. I’m secretly going to call her “Felicity.”

Oh, and fourth, my family finally made it home from their adventure. Three days late. But that’s not important because minivan!

I’m kidding. I missed them, and was getting worried. I just didn’t miss the noise and mess. They’ve been home four and a half hours, and already I’m exhausted.

Tools of the Trade: 4thewords.com

As an author, I’m always looking for things–programs, websites, apps–that make writing easier or more enjoyable.

4twlogo-xsI discovered 4thewords.com in October 2015. It was listed as a sponsor for NaNoWriMo. I checked it out and was intrigued, although, I promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t until March 2016 that I truly saw the genius of the site. I wrote 125,000 words that month.

There are a lot of sites out there that offer a place to write and store your words. They might even give you incentives like monthly challenges or have pretty graphs (750words.com is one of them). So what makes 4thewords special?

4tw_playIt’s all in the packaging. And this site is wrapped up in a role-playing game complete with avatars, monsters to fight, and quests to finish. If you like RPGs, I probably have your attention now. For those that don’t get the appeal, you should still check out the site because the graphics are adorable and the quests are amazing motivation.

See, your writing isn’t just words on the screen. It is a weapon to be wielded against a menagerie of monsters. You start in Luciola Forest and have to complete quests to get out. Quests are completed by fighting certain monsters that drop items.

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Wignow of Mama Tree

The monsters are beaten by writing a certain number of words within a time limit. Like a Wignow needs 250 words in 30 minutes to beat him. A Rudakai needs 1,700 words, but you have 340 minutes (around 5.5 hours). The harder the monster, the better the drops.

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Rudakai of Luciola Forest

 

 

 

 

Eventually you fight your way out of Luciola Forest to move on to Mama Tree. And there actually is a storyline to follow. Something about dust infecting the forest, and I honestly wasn’t paying attention because I wanted to get to the next quest. But there is a story.

Along the way, you collect armor and weapons that affect your three stats. The higher your Attack stat, the fewer words you actually need to type to win. The higher your Defense stat, the more time you get to finish the battle. And the higher your Luck stat, the more items the monster drops.

There’s a lot more going on with stores, banks, crafting, and locksmiths. There’s also leaderboards and a great forum with a lot of fun, supportive player-writers (and I’m not saying that because I’m a moderator).

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Untu pirate

Right now we have a Camp NaNoWriMo event going on–an Untu hunt. There’s a special zone with monsters that only come out during NaNo. They have their own quests that earn you special prizes.

All of this may sound ridiculous to some of you, but I am here to tell you that it works. The graphics are adorable and suck you right in. The word count goals for each monster make it feel as if you accomplished something concrete when you defeat a monster. The quests keep you wanting to fight more. And more battles means more words.

For me, the leaderboards have been a huge source of motivation. Staying on the “battle” board for most wins, keeps me fighting one more monster. And keeping my streak going, has me coming back every day. Just this year, I’ve written 125k words and haven’t missed a single day.

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Core Crystal

The only caveat is that the site cost money. You get a 30 day free trial, and then you have to pay $4/month. Honestly, the site is well worth the money. And if you won NaNoWriMo in November, there’s a code in your winner’s goodies to get a 60% discount.

If you do decide to sign up, use this referral code: WVBIY23608. When you eventually buy your first month subscription (because you will want to), you’ll get an extra 20 Core Crystals which are used to pay for subscriptions and a few in-game items. A month’s subscription is 44 Core Crystals which cost $4 (US). Oh, and I’ll get some Core Crystals as well (which I appreciate).

At the least, it’s worth checking out with your free trial. Battle a few monsters, finish a few quests, and visit the forums where I’ll be hanging out. I’m justanotherjen there.

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I hope to see you soon. And happy hunting.

Camp NaNo April – Day 1 recap

Camp-2017-Participant-Profile-PhotoThe other day I talked a little about Camp NaNoWriMo and why you should just do it. Today, I’m going to talk a little about my own Camp project.

Last year sometime, I signed up to do a challenge at fanfic50 on LiveJournal. The challenge works like this: I choose a fandom and pairing (if I want) and a list of prompts. Then I write. Pretty simple.

Yeah, well I haven’t been doing it. I’ve been writing, but not the prompts. So Camp NaNo is going to change that. My goal is to take a different prompt from the list (chosen randomly) each day and start a story, writing at least 1,000 words. Easy-peasy.

Now–if I remember–I’ll come back each day and give a little update about which prompt I’m working on and what evil things I’m doing to the characters.

And day one truly was evil.

My fandom is The 100 (TV), and my pairing is Bellamy/Clarke (and I will die before I use Bellarke to describe them… *shudder*).

So here goes.

Day 1: survive

Oh, I should probably put a trigger warning in here for mentions of torture and violence.

In the “survive” story, poor, poor Bellamy has been abducted by a rogue Grounder clan. Their commander is a sadistic bastard who enjoys inflicting pain on people.

Bellamy’s not sure how long’s he’s been held captive. He’s not sure he even cares any more. And he’s not sure if he’s seeing things or not when someone shoots an arrow through the commander’s head in the dead of night.

He’s pretty sure he is hallucinating when Murphy breaks him out of his cage. Finn, Monroe, and Miller are there, too. And a big, hulking guy in a skull mask that sends chills down Bellamy’s spine. The hallucinations don’t give him much of a choice other than to go with him.

Despite his very severe injuries, the group manages to get Bellamy back to the “Art Supply Store,” as Clarke has taken to calling the bunker she discovered with Finn. Bellamy is barely conscious–broken and battered nearly beyond recognition.

Bellamy questions his sanity when he finally focuses on Clarke. And he knows this is definitely a dream when she starts to run her fingers through his hair. The Grounders probably drugged him. It wouldn’t be the first time. But he’s too tired to care, and Clarke’s gentle touch calms his frayed nerves.

He’s in an out of consciousness for a while. Vivid flashbacks haunt his sleep. Each time, he wakes unsure what is real, and Clarke has to go through the process of reassuring him.

“You’re safe,” she whispers over and over.

Reality starts to sink in. This isn’t a hallucination. Clarke is really here. He really is safe. He doesn’t even care if Clarke sees him cry. But reality is harsh. Clarke insists she catalog his injuries and since he won’t tell her what the Grounders did to him, she has to investigate on her own. Much to his dismay.

She starts at his feet and works up his body, mentally charting his wounds. Her fingers elicit unwelcome reactions that Clarke is sure to notice eventually. He kind of wishes he could go back to the other kind of torture.

She comments on his sliced up feet. On the bruises that mar every inch of skin. On the broken ribs and burn marks. On the flesh rubbed raw around his wrists and ankles. And his missing fingernails.

When she finally reaches his face, there are tears in her eyes. This is why he didn’t want her to know. She runs a finger along the puffy, raised skin on his cheek where the Grounders branded him their bitch. She lifts his hair and takes in the missing ear. He closes his eyes because he can’t stand the pain in hers.

There isn’t a single part of his body that doesn’t hurt. Except maybe his hair when Clarke slips her fingers through it.

The End.

Okay, not really. That’s a taste of the story. In case you’re wondering, it diverges from canon around season 1, episode 7 (Contents Under Pressure). The delinquents are never able to contact the Ark, and they’re left to fend for themselves on Earth. This takes place months after they land.

My goal was at least 1,000 words and the start of a story. I ended up with over 2k by the end of the 1st. And added another 6k between midnight and 5am on the 2nd.

Tune in tomorrow to see what Clarke and Bellamy will get into next (hint: it will have nothing to do with this story, although if I do write more of this story, I might have to come post an update on my evilness *insert villainous laugh here*).

April Goals

Recap from March:

Reading: Actually read two books.
Writing: Continued my streak (now 90 days), haven’t missed a day of my #writeastory story, wrote every single day in my writing journal and in my new prompt journal which means I also filled a few prompts from my prompt book. That’s 4 out of 6.
Finishing/Editing: I finished and edited two fanfics to post. I also got really close to finishing the second draft of that novella-length fanfic. (1.5 out of 4)
Posting: Posted two stories! (1 out of 2)


April Goals:

Reading:

  • Read at least one book per week to keep on track for my Goodreads challenge.

Writing:

  • write every day in my writing journal
  • write every day from a list of prompts for Camp NaNoWriMo
  • maintain my streak
  • keep up with #writeastory

Finishing/Editing:

  • Finish at least one Camp NaNo story a week.

Posting:

  • Post as many stories as I can finish for Camp NaNo. Or at least two.

Camp NaNoWriMo

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Every November, hundreds of thousands of writers all over the world embark on a strange and magical adventure called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days.

Is this even doable? Definitely. Is the writing any good? Probably not. Are these writers crazy? Oh, definitely.

The goal is to write 50k words, not finish a polished manuscript. Mostly it’s about the fun of writing with other crazy people attempting to do the same thing.

Sound fun? It really is. But you missed NaNoWriMo in November. Oh, no! It’s another seven months before you can throw your crazy hat into the fire.

Never fear. Enter Camp NaNoWriMo–the less intense version of NaNoWriMo. At Camp, there aren’t any set rules. You make up your goal and how you want to track it. Do you want to do the traditional 50k words on a single novel? That’s cool. Want to write one hundred poems, counting lines? Go for it. Want to revise that novel you wrote last year? Awesome. Want to go balls-to-the-wall and aim for 100k words? You rock! You can do that and more during Camp.

And if April is too busy for you, you can always try Camp in July! Yes, two camp sessions every year for your writing pleasure.

As for me, my goal is to write at least 1,000 words each day from a different prompt related to a fanfic challenge I’m doing on LiveJournal. I don’t necessarily plan to finish all of them, but want at least 1k words each. That’s 30k words during the month. With bonus kudos to me if I finish and post at least one a week.

So, anyone else ready to hop on the bus and head off to camp?

March Round-up

All things reading and writing.

Reading:

Just two books finished in March. I might have finished a third, but life came up. A death in the family, cat went into labor, craziness ensued.

Writing:

44,950 words written in March. 90 day streak!

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Editing/Finishing:

I got through quite a bit of finishing/revising/rewriting one of my novella-length fanfics. It’s not ready to post yet, though. I also finished rough drafts of at least eight one-shot fanfics. Two were further edited into finished products. There were a whole lot of unfinished stories thanks to starting a prompt-a-day journal. Kind of counterproductive when my plan was to empty my WIP folder.

Posting:

Mid-morning Interlude (The 100 (TV))
Always & Forever (The 100 (TV))

Six Sentences on Sunday

sixsentences~*~Each Sunday, post six sentences from a writing project — published, in progress, for your cat — whatever.~*~

From a fanfic I was working on:

Kimble uses the distraction to kick Bellamy in the knee. He collapses, pain shooting down his leg. Kimble jumps on top of him, slamming his head into the ground. The metal decking digs into his temple and tears at his ear.

Bellamy’s pinned down, but Kimble’s about fifteen pounds lighter. And he has a broken arm.

Six Sentences on Sunday

sixsentences~*~Each Sunday, post six sentences from a writing project — published, in progress, for your cat — whatever.~*~

From another The 100 fic I was writing just for me.

“It’s one of my favorite books. Dorothy is taken away from her dreary, gray world and to someplace colorful and magical.”

Bellamy understands. “You’re Dorothy, and the Earth is Oz.”

Her laugh is hollow. “Some Oz.”

March Goals

Goals for the month of March.

Reading:

Um, actually read a book. Hopefully more than one.

Writing:

  • Continue my streak.
  • Finish writing a story that’s just for me, although I’m really liking the tone if it, so I may possibly perhaps tidy it up and post it. At least part of it.
  • Write several more of these self-indulgent stories
  • Continue my #writeastory (although prompts haven’t been released)
  • Fill a couple prompts in my prompt book
  • Write every day in my new writing journal (mostly just rambling and venting about my writing)

Editing/Finishing:

  • Finish 2nd draft revisions for the novella-length The 100 fanfic I’ve been working on
  • Start 3rd draft revisions for above novella
  • Start taking notes for revising “Unbreak My Heart” (another The 100 novella)
  • Finish and edit at least one more shorter story from my WIP folder

Posting:

  • Start posting early chapters of above novella (one a week)
  • Post at least one short story

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