two contests

A couple of contest winners, can’t be more different.

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

I can’t get into the natgo website, but the Atlantic has a great gallery. I’m also including the photographers’ captions.

natgopowernature
© Sergio Tapiro Velasco, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

The Power of Nature – Grand Prize and 1st Prize Nature Category. Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning rod of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, illuminating the dark scene. In last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of the night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average.

Or as kottke called it, Mount Doom.

A couple of others caught my eye.

natgoforest
© Yutaka Takafuji, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

Forest of the Fairy – Honorable mention, Nature. This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people.

I love this, dream-like and surreal.

natgotrain
© Moin Ahmed, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

The Man’s Stare – Honorable mention, People. The photo was taken on July 23rd 2016 at Tongi Railway Station in Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district stopped at the platform for 5 minutes for lifting passengers. It was raining a lot. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the window and on his left an umbrella has been put to protect from the rain. I got the moment.

This is almost like a painting.


The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

This is for the WORST opening sentence. Not in a real novel, but participants try to write the worst opening line. Kat Russo was the winner for:

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.

Pam Tallmann, in the Crime/Detective category:

As hard-boiled detective Max Baxter ate his soft-boiled egg, he thought about the gorgeous dame he’d found last night lying in a pool of her own blood—it being inconvenient to lie in a pool of someone else’s blood—and wondered how she liked her eggs.

They even have a Purple Prose category. Tyson Canale won with:

A sweaty Hector threw off his shirt, passion burning, skin glistening, his deodorant congealed to little chunks ensnared among the matted jungle of his armpits like so many crumbles of pungent blue cheese over a bed of sprouts, moistened with a dressing of perspiration, and lustily asked, “Are you as hungry as I am?” to the confused busboy.

nano 2016 validated

nanowinner

Validation started. Scrivener says I’m at 50819 but the validator says 50727. That’s almost 100 words, not sure why such a huge discrepancy. No big deal. Green bar turned to purple bar, yay.

I’ve been adding 100 or so words a day and will do so until the 30th. I hope that when I come back and edit this one I can do better than have the characters constantly going to restaurants and have talking heads conversation.

I’ll wait till next year to activate my evernote upgrade. Disappointed that there’s no sponsor offer for Scrivener app, apparently they can’t use coupons or discount codes on the app store. Frustrating. Their price doesn’t make sense, you have to pay for different platforms so someone with a pc, a mac and an iphone will have to pay 3 times.

nano day 16 | 3306 words 50131 total

nanochart

Done. Another nano. Yay. Took me less than 2hrs to get the final 3000-ish words to get to 50k.

I’ll probably continue writing small amounts up to the end of the month, to earn that update wordcount every day badge. I think after this, I’ll put this story to one side even though it’s far from finished. Probably only half done. The premise was good, the interactions between the characters was good but the execution or progression of the mystery wasn’t that good. I got more interested in the people than the mystery. Ah well. That’s the point of nano, to get a novel started. Hopefully it gets finished one day, I’d like to seek some help and bounce around some ideas with other people.

Validation starts on the 20th I think. Another purple bar. Yay.

nano day 15 | 3468 words 46825 total

nanochart20161115

Had some bank errands to run, then went to the market. Writing was done between 8-10pm. I’m getting a bit bored with the mystery. I have an idea of the outcome and now I have to lay red herrings and explore various people’s motives and action before I can go to the big reveal. We have a couple of suspects and a couple of missing people. I’m not convinced the suspects are suspects. They are not all aboveboard, but are they directly responsible for the friend’s disappearance? May be I should take the MCs in a different direction. The mystery is nowhere near close to being wrapped up.

The good news is, I’m at 46k. One, max two more days to go. So here comes the dilemma I face every year. Do I stop at 50k or do I continue with the story. Grr, I know what will happen. I’m disappointed at myself already.

nano day 14 | 3070 words 43357 total

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Went with mum to the clinic in the afternoon and ended up having shabu shabu dinner. This was an ayce place and we could choose soup base and quality of beef. Usually with mum or mm I pick the second cheapest option, which comes with freeflow soft drinks. I splashed out today and picked the third cheapest option, of Australian beef. It turned out to be a great choice, the meat was tender and not fatty. The kind waitress gave us lean meat when we said we prefer it over fatty meat. She seemed surprise that I keep thanking her whenever she came to clear our plates or give us extra meat. Are manners that lacking in our society? Anyway another benefit was freefow Asahi in additional to soft drinks. May be this third cheapest is an option for next time I go with mm.

Wrote a little after lunch before we went out but the bulk of today’s writing was done after we got home from dinner. Wanted to get 3000 words for the day. The MCs are enjoying their alone time too much but I made one of the suspects call them up and arrange a meeting, so more to come and we can get back on track with the mystery in the next chapter.

Wrist update: under control. Foam rollering and wearing the brace to bed are effective remedies.

nano day 13 | 4072 words 40287 total

poppy2014

Target of 40k this weekend reached. More about machine learning, and description of MC1’s home. I didn’t go overboard with the description, one paragraph per room. There’s quite a lot more of the story to write about, especially about the mystery which has gotten neglected.

Non-nano stuff, themes from today’s readings and gospel were apt for these troubling times. We had a father visiting from Italy and he told us: for those who despair and there seems to be no hope, the sun is coming. There will be good shepherds to lead us. The gospel warns us that there will be people who come in Jesus’ name who will deceive and persecute and hate us, but we are not to despair:

by your perseverance you will secure your lives

It’s also Remembrance Sunday. I didn’t see any place that sold poppies this year (some people say m&s but I didn’t see it). Anyway, I guess it’s what is in our hearts. I kept listening to this moving I Vow to Thee My Country, from the festival of remembrance at the Albert Hall a few years ago. It’s a hymn I know very well, we sang it often at school.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

nano day 12 | 5002 words 36215 total

5002 36215

nanoicon

When I woke up this morning I had no motivation to carry on the story. Not that I was out of ideas, I just didn’t feel like it. The trick was to skip the section that was coming up, which I didn’t want to write about, and then onto the sections after that. That worked. It’s only 9pm, I could have pushed further but I’ll leave it till tomorrow. Another 5k Saturday, there’s a chance I can get to 40k tomorrow.

Most of the last 2000 words were filler. MC2 runs a startup that has a product in the internet-of-things / machine learning field. I was doing research on machine learning. (Yes, yes, I know no research during nano.) So fascinating. Sigh, what if I had taken computer science at school? I would have loved to know more about machine learning, neural nets and artificial intelligence. The famous google alphago algorithm that beat a professional go player, self-driving cars, the machine that raced a journalist to write a short financial news report, even the basic teach a robot to pick up pieces of legos, all examples of machine learning.

This is a great video of ten must see machine learning products.

nano day 11 | 154 words 30213 total

nanowords

Office day, busy and didn’t get much chance to do personal stuff. Met mm for happy hour and dinner, so was home late.

Wrote a couple of sentences. Added a couple more sentences after getting home. It’s fine, I expected few words on an office day. I may not be able to get to 40k by Sunday, it’s also fine.

Had some time to do a little research today on machine learning. MC2’s startup is related to that. Fascinating topic. Don’t understand the technology or how the algorithms work, the concept alone is worth finding out more.

nano day 10 | 2682 words 31059 total

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My niece’s birthday today, so we have dinner plans. I wanted to go out earlier to find a book for her, I already have her birthday presents, the book is an addition.

Nice dinner at a great burger restaurant. The adults shared a bottle of wine and everyone tucked into the starters and burgers. Mum and I had lamb, sis had cheeseburger, gis had bacon cheeseburger and Rob had beetroot burger. I told the server it’s my niece’s birthday and they gave us dessert on the house.

I worked hard to get to 30k words before going out. Too tired after coming home to add to it significantly. This is the part of the story that delves deeper into the MCs’ lives and secrets. Will they accept each other’s secrets or will the secrets drive a wedge through them? evil laugh

nano day 09 | 3260 words 28377 total

nanowords

I woke up and found a livestream to watch the US election. Watched in horror as the results started coming in. It got too much, I had to go out to the park for a walk (and pokehunt). Coming home it was even worse. I tried to stay watching until I couldn’t take it anymore. First Brexit, then China meddling with our indepedent judiciary system, then this Trump. I feel like there’s nowhere to run away to.

I had no motivation to continue with nano. Then when I started I found it cathartic and somehow incorporated today’s dismal news into the story. Dark elements rear their heads. It wasn’t just the MCs’ missing friend, it was something bigger that involved organisations in other parts of the world that were up to no good. Terrorists, arms dealers, the alt-right in America that has declared war on their neighbours at home.

Target wsa 28k. I’ll be busy tomorrow and Friday but no plans at the weekend. Hopefully I can get to 40k by the end of Sunday.

When I updated wordcount on the nanosite, I saw that I’d gone over 600k lifetime nanowords. One tiny thing to smile about.

nano day 08 | 3012 words 25117 total

nano50percent

Went grocery shopping but detoured to the small park I used to do short runs, apparently it’s a charmander nest. I managed to catch 6 or 7 within half an hour; a couple ran away. Then it was as if they were taking a break and none appeared for the next half hour, so I went off to the market. Got home around 4pm. Was distracted by the NYT’s opening up access for free until Wednesday. Lots of articles to read.

Target was 25k. Just managed to get to 23k before dinner and added the usual 2k before bed. Getting to the halfway point on day 8 is right on schedule. Also right on schedule is pain in my left wrist. I wore the brace to bed last night, it looks like a bout of serious rollering before bed is needed.

This next chapter isn’t finished. I’m focusing more on the various characters’ secrets which get revealed as part of the investigation. Ultimately, whether the main mystery is as important remains to be seen.

nano day 07 | 3557 words 22096 total

nanoicon

No plans today. I should go grocery shopping, may be tomorrow. I also sorted out more bank stuff, online access is so convenient. Basically a lazy day that if I weren’t in the middle of nano, would have been spent reading.

Target was between 21.5k and 22k, so that I can aim at 25k tomorrow. I got to 20k before dinner and now I’m at 22k. I find I’m writing almost a chapter a day. In this next one, the MCs finally do some work investigating the mystery. All I can say is, oftentimes it’s the staff and domestic servants that provide the most information and insight. Oh, and bring cakes and pastries.

nano day 06 | 3350 words 18539 total

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Homily today was about living in the present and not dwelling on the past which has…passed and not thinking all the time about the future that we have no idea what will bring us. Make the best of the current moment because that’s what we can control.

There was a lot on tv for a change. 5 episodes of TAR Canada, which I’d never seen before. Then Harry Potter 1 and 2. Argh. No time for nano. I watched the TARCANs and gave up on the HPs.

Target today was 18k total. The MCs are spending too much time hanging out with each other, going on weekend outings and sitting at outdoor cafés watching an elderly fisherman hauling crab pots. Not doing much work on solving the mystery of their missing friend. But hey, another chapter finished.

nano day 05 | 5163 words 15189 total

nano5thnov

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Happy Guy Fawkes’ Night! Nothing is happening here but I always remember bonfire night even when I’m not in the UK.

Today is double up day. Things we can do include doubling our donation and getting, for instance, $50 gifts for $25. We can also aim at doubling our current wordcount or doubling our daily wordcount target.

I always try to get 5000 words a day at the weekends. Today I had no plans to go out but plans to make chicken curry for dinner so I split the writing into chunks. I wanted to get to 12k by the time I started prepping the chicken, which I did. I chopped up 4 chicken legs, on the bone. Mirepoix, garlic, ginger, potato, carrots, curry paste and coconut milk. While the chicken was cooking, I aimed at getting to 13k by dinner. Another 2000 words between 8.30pm and 10pm and I’m at 15k. Yay.

Chapter 4 is done, the MCs went to dinner and took a late night stroll along the seafront park. The beginning of chapter 5 is the next morning. I’m going through the days slowly. They are going about their day separately today but they made a date to have phone lunch together. Hahaha.

nano day 04 | 2246 words 10026 total

nanopen

More bank stuff with sis. Lots of waiting and signing forms. This one bank is done. Lunch at a foodcourt, went with her to the supermarket, bus home by 2.30pm.

Did filing and other stuff. Long dinner and watched tv till 9pm so bulk of writing was done between 9.30pm and 11pm. The target today was to get to 10k to get back on track.

The MCs continued their investigation and met with one of the dinner participants. Originally the chapter was on their missing friend but I’ll tackle the secret of this other friend first after she unwittingly revealed possible motive. It’s interesting how the characters and the story takes on a totally different direction by themselves. The second half of the chapter is the MCs’ car breaking down and they spend some time chatting and getting re-aquainted. I have an idea of what MC2’s secret may be. Everyone seems to be having financial troubles.

nano day 02 | 4227 words 7388 total

nanoicon

Wrote on and off from 10.30am to 9.30pm. The first few years when I was giving myself too much pressure to get 5000 words a day I would have continued until bedtime. The last few years I’ve taken a more relaxed attitude. Since I’m in the office tomorrow, I wanted to get a decent wordcount today and 4000 is okay.

It was so easy to slip back to nano mode and deploy the tried and tested tricks. One of the MCs is called Sarah Jane, her name is never shortened to Sarah or SJ. Keep all dialogue tags, delete the extraneous he said, she said when editing. Padding in the form of weather and food description. Have the MCs drink sauvignon blanc not chardonnay; pinot noir instead of malbec.

In the early years, and even now, we are taught to just type. Never hit backspace, ignore punctuation, forget about capitalising the first letter of of sentences, use abbreviations (eg the aforementioned Sarah Jane would be S J when typing). I don’t need to do that.

Chapter 2 is done. The MCs meet up to plan their next steps. Make a list, make notes, do research. I could do an American Psycho and spend pages, or a whole chapter, talking about using evernote, onenote, google drive, dropbox. I don’t need to do that. I’ve made a start on chapter 3. More meeting up for lunch. The next part is where the investigation starts. I’m trying to plant clues about secrets. I know what MC1’s secret is, but I’ve yet to figure out MC2’s. I still don’t know the outcome of this story, it’s like writing a whodunnit without knowing up front who did it.

nano day 01 | 3161 words

nano00ready

It’s november again. Even though I don’t feel like writing, I know I’ll regret it if I DNS, like how I hate that I didn’t even try in 2007 and it’s too late to go back.

I procrastinated all morning. Read the news, bummed around reddit, played candy crush. Anything to avoid making a start. But I forced myself to open up scrivener at 10.30am. Mum was out for most of the afternoon so I made some progress. I haven’t been able to focus for long periods of time lately so I typed a few paragraphs and did something else. Got to 1667 mid-afternoon and 2000 before dinner.

Finished the first chapter at 9.30pm and it’s a good place to pause. Initially I thought this might be a prologue but it’s okay as chapter 1. Mostly backstory, introducing the cast of characters and the backbone of the storyline. Since it’s a what-if on what happened at the reunion dinner with my actual college friends, I’m using their real names in the interest of typing fast. I’ll change to fake names when I edit, it’s easier to have a picture of the person in my mind when writing. I really haven’t seen these people for years, so characterisation is perception, memory and imagination. Only the two MCs have fake names, since they’re made up people.

Most of chapter 1 is written as text messages as the group communicate with each other on whatsapp. At first I’m typing the texts like dialogue, with quotation marks, but it didn’t look right. I asked my JAFC crew and they said to use italics. It looks so much better. I’m also not labelling the texts with the person. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who spoke something. When necessary, I’ll have someone call someone else out by name. I wish I can layout the texts like how they look like on the iphone, it’ll be much clearer.

There are 12 people at the dinner and the idea is that all 12 have secrets and are potential suspects in the mystery. My aim is to focus on one person per chapter, then a wrap up at the end. Thing is, I’m not even sure that the mystery is, or even the final outcome. That makes it a very interesting writing exercise.

#nanoprep

nano2016

nano starts in 7 days. I struggled to come up with an idea; I still feel it isn’t the right year for spotter so I need a fresh one. Up to a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d do a collection of short stories based at an airbnb. All sorts of characters and stories. Probably not the most original and don’t really have any clue on what ties them together.

Then I had an aha moment after going to the college friends’ reunion. As the menu was fixed and there was no corkage, we knew how much the meal was gonna be approximately. The organiser took our contribution at the beginning of the meal. She rounded it up to the nearest 100 and suggested that any left over money she’ll go buy lottery tickets. She was super transparent and posted the tickets she bought to our whatsapp group. Needless to say we didn’t win.

But it got me thinking. What if the same thing happened to a group of college friends. Instead of posting the tickets, the organiser was silent and a few days after the draw, disappeared altogether. Did we win? Did she abscond with the money? Did something happen to her, someone stole our winning ticket? Like an Agatha Christie mystery, I thought about every character having a hidden motive for the money. The police wasn’t interested so that’s where the MC (or MCs) come in.

nanoprep2016

I asked mm about the idea last week and she came up with a few suggestions. As we were in toastbox and we didn’t have any paper, I used the tried and tested napkin method of brainstorming. I’ll copy it to a mindmap before I start.

I’m quite pleased with the idea. Not all fleshed out yet, see how it goes. So the graphics are downloaded, the spreadsheet template updated and finally I’m ready for this year’s nano.

#19 write a short story

moderator

Task #19 of 101.1001 is to write a short story. The idea came to me after seeing the call for submissions for a gcls fundraiser anthology.

Pretty standard romantic tale. For some reason I decided to write it like the narrator is telling the story back to the two MCs so second person pronouns are used. I don’t know if it works. I have no idea if I’ll even submit it because of possible conflict of interest.

2,871 words written between tuesday and saturday. That’s slow for my standard but I can’t compare with the writer!me of 10 years ago.

#16: finish LL

llblur

Task #16 of 101.1001 is to finish LL. Actually finished a while ago, but still not 100% happy.

I have a deadline now. I need to get it ready and submit it by next summer. One of the best publishers I’ve ever met asked me. Face to face. There is no excuse.

There are parts in the middle that need to be expanded and better explained. Probably need more character growth too. I should stop tinkering with it and let good editors take a look so I can learn and improve.

#17 outline book ideas

stg275museum

 

Task #17 of 101.1001 is to outline book / story ideas.

Since nano is done this year, it’s worth using some of the momentum for writing and related. I have ideas dating back a long time, yet I never get round to starting, let alone finishing them. It’s not good. As time goes by, I get more ideas and the backlog gets bigger. Definitely not good. Anyway, it’s all in Evernote:

lamplight universe

  • lamplight
  • lamplight follow-up with Kian and Anna in Albania and the Balkans
  • shep (nano 2009)
  • the house on the lake (nano 2013) — indy and pete building indy’s dream house with a green roof

melody universe

  • party planner (nano 2014) — melody is trying to organise a retirement party for her dad and meets restaurant manager samantha
  • melody on church (tight, nano 2005) — sam’s dream of starting her own restaurant becomes embroiled with melody’s strange obsession and sam’s own family weirdness
  • in pieces (nano 2006) — sam’s descent into insanity while melody decides she wants to be a nun, needs a happy ending

healing series

  • short story prequel, robot sheepdog project, how they met
  • short story ghost
  • the actual novel where MC1 goes to oxford to gain closure with joey’s parents and meets MC2 in bath

london stories

  • drive (nano 2011) — minicab driver and missing child
  • tips (nano 2012) — heir hunters at harrow road

work travel

  • work travel go (nano 2015) — tech startup CEO goes undercover at travel destination, meets volunteer
  • how the hosts met — 1990s story of how dee and sm met, why sm needed wheelchair 25yrs later

master will universe (obviously need to change names)

  • days of innocence lost (earth as a short story prequel) — may be expand to novella length?
  • days of innocence returned — 150 years from now, w has been a good vampire, reinventing herself every few decades, enrolling in universities to try to find a cure for cancer. and then t comes back
  • there was a third planned but I can’t remember what it’s about

standalones

  • summer into winter — inspired by david harsent’s book
  • bigtown — post apocalypse universe, hacker vs tyrannical dictator
  • magic — need to find the outline
  • 12 races in chicago (nano 2010)
  • spotter — what if the world’s most tragic person invented a time machine to go back to history to eliminate disease, disasters and wars? the world’s population has grown to the point where it is impossible to sustain, and going to the future reveals everyone dies of famine; spotters are sent out to mark people out for elimination or retention, what if a spotter spots the wrong person
  • unmasked — short story, starts in a blind restaurant

 
 

#15 nano 2015 validated

nano2015
 
Task #15 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2015. Got to 50k on day 15, but to truly complete means having it validated on the nanosite and getting the winner’s badge. Validation started today, and I validated at 52,219. Scrivener gives me 52,282 and google docs 52,199—there’s always a discreprency when using different tools.

There’s an achievement badge for updating wordcount 30 days in a row, so I’ve been writing a few hundred words a day to keep it going. I’ll try to remember to continue until the 30th. I think badges reset every year so I’m not entirely sure why I’m so keen to get the badge. I suspect it’s OCD, that I can’t bear to have one greyed out badge amongst the entire set. 
 

#nano day 15: 6297 words | 50345 total

nano2015chart

 

Done. I’m surprised and happy about finishing on day 15. I barely managed the goal 2k during the first week (blue vs red on chart). Once I got some peace and quiet and am mostly over jetlag it got better (blue line growing exponentially). Did a big push today, and the characters helped. Resolved a big conflict and made a lot of progress in the relationship. These are good characters, I quite like them. There is a good crew of side characters too. Originally I didn’t think this story is publishable, now I think there are possibilities.

If novels were 50k in length, I can type in THE END. But they are not, so I’m giving the characters another adventure. A change in location, trying to find a little conflict, developing the relationship further, happy ending. I say this every year, that I’ll try to contine writing until the story is finished vs stopping at 50k, but I never do. Let’s see.

The traditional statistical part of the yay, 50k post:

  • 50,345 words in 15 days = average 3,356 per day
  • highest wordcount day = day 15 at 6,297 words
  • lowest wordcount day = day 03 at 1,305 words — I was surprised I got any words in, that was the day of my flight
  • dares used = 1 — Mr Ian Woon only, didn’t even look at the dares thread
  • total nano years = 11
  • lifetime nano words = 568,301
  • finishing on day 15 is the average finish day
  • quickest finish = 10 days (2004)
  • slowest finish = 23 days (2011)

Validation is from the 20th this year. Oh, remember the book I was reading? I got distracted by #paris news cycle, I finished nano before I finished the book. Wrist pain update: painful from the first day, relieved by wearing brace all day and using the smaller foam roller on hand, wrist and arm.

 

 

nano day 14: 3633 words | 44048 total

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3633 words | 44048 total

Woke up to the sad news of the tragic terrorist attack in Paris. So awful. Spent the morning glued to the livefeed from the guardian and NYT (they took down the paywall) as well as twitter. Hence no writing got done.

The target was to get to minimum 2000, so am happy that I found more. It’s a day off for the MCs, They started the day with declarations of love (yay!) and then spent the day touring a chocolate factory (yay!) and more kissing. Going okay.

 

 

nano day 13: 5096 words | 40415 total

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5096 words | 40415 total

For most of the day I had the flat to myself. Distracted with reading and cooking. Just managed to squeak past 5k.

The thing about the middle third of a novel is, there never seems to be enough material to go around. I can’t just have one conflict, one suspicious act, then it all gets resolved straightaway. Have to drag it out, have more discussions, more layers.

Today is also love your ML day. I have friend who was ML for a while, when nano was still small. Don’t know if she’s even involved anymore. #weloveML

 

nano day 12: 5116 words | 35319 total

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5116 words | 35319 total

Some years I’m done by day 12, it’s my highest ranking finish day—4 times in total. Anyway another 5k day is worth feeling good about. I finished the book I was reading and immediately moved to the sequel. It may become a race, finish the book first or finish nano.

And finally at 35k we make a move to act 2. A little intrigue, some suspicious behaviour and look! first kiss. The story and characters are surprising me in how well they are coming together. I shouldn’t jinx anything though.

The next nano event is backup day, which falls on the middle sunday, I think. I hope I’m sufficiently backed up. I’m writing in scrivener, which gets copied every day to google docs and a word doc. The scriv file, the word docs and the xls tracker are saved on the mbp, dropbox and my flashdrive. Basically everything is on the mbp, somewhere in the cloud and on my flashdrive.

 

 

nano day 11: 5025 words | 30203 total

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5025 words | 30203 total

A 5k day to get to 30k, it’s all good. Which is a relief because I started reading a book last night and: a) it’s a good book; b) I shouldn’t be reading during nano. It acts as a good reward system though—get to x and read a chapter.

For a nano that wasn’t well planned, the pieces are coming together quite nicely. I don’t just write, I do research and look stuff up as I go along. So far, I’ve have information not just on work travel but mapped out the past trips of MC2, who’s been doing this for 9 months. Other research include flight departure & arrival times, art exhibtions at airports, a brewpub beer menu, shower facilities at a beach, the nearest mcdonald’s to an airport, alaskan tribes, ATV riding on sand dunes, sunset times, rice & water proportions to make congee for a layman. I quite like this doing research as I’m writing, in fact I haven’t taken out my handwritten planning sheet yet.

Mr Ian Woon has made his annual appearance. This year, he is an outfitter ATV expert who takes guests from the ranch on four wheeler trips on the sand dunes of southern oregon.

Of course at 30k, my left wrist has been hurting for a few days. Hurting a lot today, I have the brace on almost the entire time.

 

nano day 10: 3958 words | 25178 total

halfway

3958 words | 25178 total

Halfway on day 10. Reasonable progress. I’ll be fine if I finish on the 20th; I hope I can finish earlier.

Chapter 4 is done. MC2 completed her long journey to the destination and MC1 was the volunteer who picked her up from the airport. The sign spelled her name was wrong so they had a humourous introduction. There’s already some mild flirting.

 

nano day 09: 3685 words | 21220 total

nanoicon

3685 words | 21220 total

I think this is the first full day I’ve stayed in, without going out. I suppose I have to start running again some time. Ah well.

Received some very sad news in the morning, that our friend had passed away. Lots of tributes and heartfelt posts on fb. She would have wanted us to carry on living our lives in full as before.

Took it easy with the writing, didn’t stress myself out too much. Around 1k in the morning, more in the afternoon and another 1k after dinner. Finished chapter 3, MC1 arrived at the destination and met a bunch of side characters. I took time out to create the side characters in scrivener. In chapter 4 it’s MC2’s turn to travel. A longer flight, with 2 layovers. They will meet at the end of the chapter.

 

nano day 08: 2500 words | 17535 total

nanoicon

2500 words | 17535 total

Went out to Jamie’s Italian for my niece’s birthday lunch, had a mussel pasta that was actually quite bland, the gelato dessert made up for it. Too full for dinner, just had a plum.

Got to an even 2500 words for the day and it’s a good point to stop. Not very often do you get even wordcount like this.

MC1 had breakfast at the airport, then boarded a flight heading west. There was a layover, which added words. It’s an actual flight, I got the details on departure, arrival times, layover times and even layover terminal map. She arrived, got a rental car and found a place to have a late lunch. Everyone is proceeding to the destination slowly.

nano day 07: 2022 words | 15035 total

nano20151107

2022 words | 15035 total

It’s #doubleupday, and we’re encouraged to:

  • double your wordcount or daily goal
  • donate $25 to get $50-level goodies
  • enter into the Grand Prize and hourly prize draws

I didn’t double my daily goal or anything ambitious. Tired today, so utilised an old trick to add wordcount, wrote 1000 words explaining sharing economy. Seeing that MC1 is the CEO of one such startup, it’s not too far off track. In the editing process, information dump (or writersplaining, a sibling to mansplaining) like this will be deleted or dramatically cut.

Anyway, day 7 and I’m at 15k, which looks more impressive when it’s converted to a pie chart. It’s a good achievement considering I spent almost one complete day travelling and the next 4 days jetlagged. But if I’m only at 30k next weekend, I’ll be disappointed.

Just started chapter 3 after 2 lengthy introductory chapters. MC1 is in the process of flying to the destination, hence the discussion about uber vs taxi and airbnb vs hotel. She’s not even at the airport. There will be some more padding about flying tomorrow, hahaha. MC2 isn’t on the same continent, so she needs to find her way there. Not before saying tearful goodbyes with her friends.
 

nano day 05: 2253 words | 11278 total

nanoicon

2253 words | 11278 total

It’s Bonfire Night. Celebrated with a whisky, small one because I’m sleepy. Woke up at 5am, went out to the post office to pick up a registered letter and stopped off at the supermarket to get food. No fridge, so limited in selection. Bought carrots and kale to make carrot soup. The kale came in a big bunch so used the stalk in the soup too which was an improvement in flavour.

Continued with chapter 2, it’s dragging a bit now, but good for nano. Averaging 2256 words after 5 days, extrapolating finish on the 23rd.

nano day 04: 1945 words | 9025 total | flight home

nanoicon

1945 words | 9025 total

Day of the flight. Car’s cousin Mike kindly took me to the airport and I was checked in and through security in no time. Bought a Balvenie triple cask 16 that we first tasted in Heathrow, then bought 4 pork buns at wow bao for lunch. Beer at the bar next to the gate was expensive, $11.

The flight was full, and I got upgraded to premium economy. Here’s the dilemma, which is the better seat: an aisle seat in economy or a middle seat in premium economy? I would have preferred an aisle seat but the lady sitting next to me was nice and slept most of the way. The additional seat width and leg room were good in helping to make 15hrs pass faster.

Disappointed that there wasn’t much to watch, no big action film, no Bake-off and too many old tv programs (Prime Suspect s1, Entourage s1, ugh). Watched Spy (funny, good) and The Hundred-Foot Journey, which was a real gem. An Indian family’s car broke down in the middle of the French countryside and they decided to settle down roots, opening a restaurant directly opposite a Michelin-star establishment. War ensued, but of course it was a happy ending in the end. Helen Mirren was brilliant in this predictable feel good movie, perfect for watching on the plane.

PE had better food. Filet steak and creamy shrimp on rice. I had half a glass of wine, but mainly stuck to coke zero and sparkling water.

Door to door was 20hrs, and I lost most of Wednesday. Got home around 9.30pm, showered and unpacked quickly.

My nano time is based in Chicago so when I woke up at 5am there was enough time to write and assign it to day 4. I wanted to get around 1000 words in, and am pleased that I got almost 2000.

 

nano day 03: 1305 words | 7080 total

nanoicon

1305 words | 7080 total

My flight is at 2pm so there was time in the morning to get some writing done. It would have been nice to get to the 1667 minimum but I’m pleased at the progress. Chapter 2 introduces MC2, sitting at a bar with a view of a nice bay sunset. I’m not being very creative this year, I’m using locations I’m sure I’ve used before, but these are locations I’m familiar with. If/when this one ever gets moved to the possibly publishable list, then I’ll rewrite.

 

nano day 02: 3029 words | 5775 words total

nanoicon

3029 words | 5775 words total

My last full day in Chicago, I’m still home alone. Another brilliant blue sky day that was too good to stay in all day. I continued with the story, getting 1000 words in before heading out. Walked 2 miles to a really nice supermarket, with so many great fruit & veg, meat and other goods I so desperately want to buy. But I can’t. I limited myself to a thin sliced porterhouse, which was on discount. One artichoke and some biscuits for Mum and Gis. The steak, together with leftover kale and two green tomatoes I bought at the Mexican supermarket yesterday, was for lunch.

Packed up both suitcases and tidied up a little. Watched a bit of tv then wrote some more. Made dinner of cornish game hen and artichoke. Watched more tv, writing some more during comercial breaks. Finished chapter 1 after the program finished, MC1 is introduced. The chapter dragged on a bit, isn’t as punchy as a first chapter as I’d like. Quite pleased that I reached 5k on day 2.<p>&nbsp;</p>

nano day 01: start

nanoday01

It was funny to see last night on #nanowrimo people in Australia and Asia already starting. For the next few days I’ll be at the end of the nanoday, before doing back to being at the start. I’ll miss a day or two when I’m on the plane which is okay.

There was also the #moranstrong 5k to run this morning. It was supposed to be yesterday but a) it was raining heavily and b) I had a bad cough. Wrote about 1000 words before setting out.

oldshopsign2015bbshadow201501

Had lunch then went outside for a walk since it was such a nice day, and such contrast to yesterday. It was about 1 mile to Blue Island “high street” which was mostly closed except for a few eating places, a bakery, two liquor stores, a Mexican supermarket and a few bars. Not a very prospering town centre. The strange thing was that I encountered barely any pedestrians during the walk and back. May be 10. A few people waiting for the bus, a couple of cyclists, two men smoking outside a bar. I guess people simply don’t walk here. Americans are so dependent on their cars.

Came back before 4pm. The clocks changed last night so sunset was earlier. Wrote some more. I’m most proud of the 520k lifetime average. Aiming at 2500 per day.

 

nano prep

nanosquare

 

It’s almost nano time again. Year 11. I see many more people signing up, because nano has gone mainstream. I also see many people saying this is the month they will add 50k words to their 30k manuscript. Sigh. Another problem with going maintream. Traditionally, and for purists like me, nano means starting a novel from scratch and getting to 50k words. But no, the faq has been changed:

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo works best when you start a brand-new project. It may be an arbitrary distinction, but we’ve seen that novelists do better (and have more fun) when they’re free from the constraints of existing manuscripts. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate!

That said, we welcome all writers at any stage. Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged. Just be sure to only count words written during the month.

 

nano2015plan

Anyway, I’ll continue to do it the traditional way. This year, I struggled to come up with a theme. And took a long time before I was able to come up with some semblance of a plot. But I finally was able to scribble a pageful of stuff. I may have to resort to more dares than usual.

The setting is based on a review I read on workaway, a sort of airbnb for working holidays. The website matches hosts who need help, for instance at a farm, with volunteers who offer around 5hrs of work a day in exchange for room and board. The comments on the review was that the location was great but the host was disorganised and volunteers were not treated with respect. Got me thinking along the lines of undercover boss meets secret diner. Let’s see at the end of the month if it works.

 

gcls day05

gclstemp61bfast gclstemp65mints
mint pic credit Pol Robinson @polrobin

The last day of the conference, sad sad sad. I managed to say hi to a few more people before the closing remarks by our ED. Brunch followed, and more socialising. Saying goodbye is the hardest part, especially since we only get to see each other once a year and some friends may not be attending the next conference. Our group managed to plan pranks for one of us with a giant bag of mints and come up with panel ideas at the same time. I also talked to one of the winners R about LL, and she says she will motivate me into finishing it.

Finally we had to leave the room so the staff can clear up. Helped break down one of the vendor tables—lots of physical labour putting books into boxes. Went to the foodcourt for lunch (shared a 25-piece chicken finger bucket and got a hurricane daiquiri with tequila shot). After getting our sustenance, we convened at armchairs in the hotel lobby for a game of trivial pursuit. We only played two games, but we looked up towards the end of the second game and it was almost 7pm. Great game; I’m usually not too bad at trivial pursuit, but the US-centric decks we were playing were less familiar to me. I had great teammates though, I was blown away by their general knowledge. The most fun part was watching my teammates and the other team confer and discuss possible answers. The final result: 1 game each.

gclstemp62oysters gclstemp63lobster

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant. A few of us shared a dozen chargrilled oysters—the garlic butter was yummy. I had lobster with spinach risotto—the lobster was fresh and I added some of the garlic butter for additional flavour.

We planned to play another game after dinner. Ended up chatting and sharing stories into the wee hours.

I was looking forward to the conference with a mixture of dread and anticipation. I managed to go to most of the sessions I wanted, skipped a few because of award stuff and because I just wanted a little time at the gym. I don’t know why, but I get more sociable during the conference. This was the biggest conference so far, at 350 attendees. This meant I wasn’t able to meet as many new friends, spending most of my social time greeting old friends. Need to do correct that in future conferences.

Next year’s conference is at Washington DC and the following year in Chicago. I plan on going to both, but it had crossed my mind that I should go every other year because it’s expensive in terms of both time and money. What I spend coming to the con can be reallocated to another trip with mm. Then again, the conference experience is so unique that it’ll be a hard decision to make.

gcls day04

tl;dr: long day, great awards night, I got a huge surprise

gclstemp40dorothy

Too tired to go to the first session, and we had to convene to work through the presentation deck. We finished in time to go to the keynote speech by Dorothy Allison. I’d never heard of her before, although I understand she is a pioneer and very famous for both her body of work and her activism. Her speech was…there are no words to describe. Stunning, personal, mesmerising are the few that I can come up with. I started at the front then moved to the back to get pictures of the audience. At the end of her speech there was a tremendous standing ovation and I got regular pics and took a panorama of the room with the iphone too.

After lunch was a roundtable on reviewing. There were some very good discussions from the panelists and the audience. Not everybody agreed on every point, but that’s because we are not robots. The discussion was civil and passionate as it’s a topic we are all invested in. Interesting question, if there is absolute no redeeming qualities in a book whatsoever should the reviewer post a review? One camp says yes, to prevent other people from wasting their money; another camp says if there is nothing good to say, don’t say it.

We had awards run-through with the presenters at 3pm so we went over to the ballroom early to check it out. To our horror the hotel staff had only just begun to put out tables and equipment. They worked quickly and efficiently though, moved the tech table to where we wanted and worked out details of stage placement. Very professional. Carleen did a good job with the run-through, explaining the proceedings and expectations succinctly. Unlike last year we had more than 1hr to get ready. I’d grabbed spare lunch bags for dinner so I was prepared. A got me a diet coke too, so thoughtful. Had a sandwich, took a shower and went downstairs to set up. A bit of miscommunication with people coming in and out of the ballroom before official doors open was sorted quickly and we were ready to start the awards ceremony at 7pm.

The MCs this year were two of our own members and they planned funny sketches involving lost & found, tweets and cocktails in between announcement of winners in each category. We had planned theme songs for each category as well as each winner. As I ran the slides, Carleen ran the soundtrack. Everything ran smoothly.

The only part of the deck I didn’t have was the Director’s Award. This is the only non-writing award and is given to a volunteer for their contribution. When it was the category’s turn to be announced, I switched the main screen over to Carleen’s laptop and waited. It was nice to have a rest from tense pushing of the down arrow all night. Ha! Little did I know, I would have no rest, they gave the award to: me. My first thought was, what are you guys doing? Why me? What am I supposed to do now? Everybody had turned around and was cheering and clapping and standing up, Carleen had to tell them to sit back down to run the rest of the slides. I was still in shock and she had to tell me to go up to the stage to get the award. Easier said than done, it was like an obstacle course trying to negotiate tables. Apparently I said something like thank you to the board and told people to volunteer. Can’t remember. The only thing on my mind was to run back to the table to set up the slides for the next category, which was on my mba.

Deep breath. I’m incredibly honoured that the Directors think I deserve the award. I do a lot of running around during conferences—I take pictures, help move stuff, do the posters and this is my second year responsible for the award slides. But so do a lot of people. The entire organisation is staffed by volunteers and there are many others to put in as much, or even more than me. A big thank you to the Directors. Oh, the Exec Director gave me a bottle of Highland Park Dark Origins—if I had to buy a whisky right now, it’d be what I buy, perfect (okay, she actually asked me, under the guise of needing whisky adviceaas a gift for someone).

After my award, I had to focus again to get back to the tech table. The final awards are the big ones—two popular choice awards, one for cover design and one for a book. The Lee Lynch Classic award was presented by Lee herself to Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. Rita Mae was there in person to accept it. Karin Kallmaker did the presentation for Trailblazer award to Joan Nestle which was accepted by Dorothy Allison.

Last year after the awards I packed up, stayed for a few minutes when the dance began then went back up to the room. This year I still packed up, but was too excited to go to bed so I stayed to chat with a bunch of people. There was copious consumption of wine, and someone bought me a Jameson 12. We closed out the dance floor, with the amazing Lee Lynch taking my hands and us doing a jaunty bouncy number together—can’t call it dancing, it was more like skipping.

gcls day03

Actually set the alarm to go to a 8.30am session, about the changing landscape of the industry, with so many authors taking the self-published route. The panelists are both traditional and self-published, a couple of them having published both ways. The pros for self-publication are control and money as they get a higher percentage; the cons are time-consuming and it’s not always more lucrative—without the machinery of a traditional publishing house, sales tend to drop off after a couple of months unless the author embarks on intensive marketing. Interesting. I had plans to go to the next session but spent it doing some work and chatting with a couple of friends.

The mid-morning session was on the judging process. Not as well attended as hoped, since we were up against a bigwig reading. Still, it’s the first time readers, authors and publishers were given an insight into the book judging process, and kudos for transparency. Lots of good questions from the audience too.

Immediately afterwards was the author auction, which took a different format this year. Much more low key, much more mature. An author may participate in either the silent or live part, and during the live auction there was no need to come up to the stage and be treated like a product on sale.

Ali Vali was the special speaker was after lunch. She is one of the membership and she talked about her own writing process. She was funny and her speech had no dull moments. It’s wonderful to hear all these experience and amazing authors speak with authority and yet so much humbleness.

nolatemp018alligator nolatemp019fried

There were a couple more sessions and the author autograph. I skipped them in favour of going to the gym, although I only managed 5k on the treadmill. A and I went for an early dinner at Drago’s, the hotel restaurant. After hearing stories about the “sexy” alligator nuggets we shared one as a starter. Tasted like somewhere in-between tough chicken breast and a dense white fish. I had crocodile before and didn’t like it, alligator was better. For mains I had the oyster and shrimp platter, since I had wanted to try the one at Mother’s yesterday. Nice food, but expensive, $50 each including a beer for me. I think I’ve had enough fried food on this trip for the rest of the year.

Team meeting was followed by a great stand-up show by Fay Jacobs (she was actually sitting on a stool but whatever) which recounted anecdotes throughout her life culminating in her and her wife’s involvement in the fight for marriage equality in their home state of Delaware. I was quite tired and embarrassed to report that I nodded off in the middle of the show, it’s no reflection on the quality of the show. I was determined to stay till the end.

gclstemp36pamtribute

Traditionally Friday night is karaoke night. Not as many attendees as usual, some regulars were missing. Most of the singers had great voices or sang with enthusiasm. We had the “I Feel Pretty” tribute to our friend Pam—the DJ didn’t have the music so we all got the lyrics on our phones and sang without music. I had been waiting for this one, I left immediately afterwards.

gcls day02

At breakfast we ran into a newbie conference attendee and we had a great chat. She is an experienced reader, runs a reading group, is well travelled and knowledgable about many things. Hopefully will be able to participate more in the organisation. I think I made a new friend.

The first panel I went to was about how to do research when writing about a foreign country and times. The panelists were divided into the method writing camp, who insisted that the only way is to visit the countries involved; and the practical camp, who said that it’s not always possible because of distance, cost and sometimes danger. One writer writes about an invented country, so the method method doesn’t work. I had things to do so didn’t stay for the entire panel.

The next session was an extremely fun one, where well-known authors told a story and we had to vote on whether they were telling the truth or not. We learned that KK may or may not have 19 pairs of shoes; Rach may or may not have sat on the lap of another panelist; KG may or may not have been married to a man; LL may or may not have taken acid and MKM may or may not have ridden on a Harley with a motorcycle gang. This session should be repeated every year.

After lunch I went to a masterclass about the history of our books from the 1920s until now. Great class, delivered professionally and, even though it was in lecture format and a subject I’m neither familiar nor usually interested in, not boring at all. I felt woefully inadequate as I had only read one of the books on the list, and everyone in the class was waxing lyrical about this or that classic that spoke to them.

Next panel was about research. Well moderated and less contentious than the morning’s session about foreign countries. Agreed with the authors that evernote and scrivener is great, as is mindmapping. It’s important to have a balance between information dump and not enough information. It’s also more respectful to the readers to state correct facts, even if they are uncomfortable; than to make mistakes in books.

The membership meeting was next. Opening remarks by the Director was followed by financial reports and updates on awards and the new website. I also received a volunteer award and my 5-year pin. Yay.

nolatemp015mothers nolatemp016mothers

Since I had a meeting, A and I went quickly over to mother’s for dinner. Real southern food in a no-frills setting. We lined up against a counter, gave our order and found seats. The wait staff took our receipt and brought our food. I had baked black ham, the glazed outer crust which is normally the bit that gets the marinade. Very nice. Served with a choice of 3 sides, I had turnip greens, green beans & tomato and red beans & rice. It’s never going to win any prize for presentation but it’s honest, simple food. The fried shrimp and oysters and seafood looked good. I hope I have another chance to try before I leave.

gcls day01

gclstemp01nikka

The conference started in the morning with volunteers gathering to help with stuffing the swag bag, setting up tables, organising the silent auction. The venue in the hotel is based on a courtyard concept, with rooms radiating from the central courtyard. Of course it became the focal point and meeting place. There were hugs galore as we see friends and meet new friends.

I brought a bottle of Nikka from the Barrel for the silent auction. I found out that because it’s 500ml it’s not considered a regulation size for import into the US, which means it’s not available in the US. I also put some in a hip flask and told people to come find me for samples. The usual suspects came up to me, as well as a couple of new friends. I think at the end of the day the auction has reached $55.

gclstemp05shoes

The conference proper started after lunch (we had chicken salad we made from stuff we bought at the supermarket) when the director made a welcome speech. The first session after that was a readers trivia session. I wasn’t planning in staying, but I ended up staying the whole session. I even won a book! (real physical book, which now I need to figure out how to take home, it’s one on my list to buy.)

Went running at the gym while the con virgin meeting was going on, took a quick shower and was back for the ice cream social. More hugging friends and meeting new friends.

Dinner was at M’s house, she invited a bunch of people to her place for bbq. We had cocktail, very juicy pork, dirty rice, boiled peanuts, bread pudding. She showed me how to make a mojito and let me make a couple. There were a lot of people, and I was getting a bit angsty because of the crowd. Took a taxi back with a few others just in time to catch JD in concert. Good attendence and she was absolutely fantastic. A long, event-filled day. Exhausting but fun.

drink beer, write a novel

beerproblemsolver

According to a Copenhagen-based brewery, drinking their problem solver beer will help, well, solve creative problems. Apparently an alcohol level of 0.075% is just the right amount to get the creative juices flowing. As the independent helpfully explained,

it is thought to come with a feeling of relaxation that stops you from being ‘too-focused’, but is not drunk enough that your verbal and cerebral ability will be impaired

The 7.5% IPA comes in a 750ml bottle that has a printed scale to indicate exactly how much to drink to get to that sweet spot, depending on gender and weight.

Of course it’s clever marketing, it’s a campaign from agency CP+B Copenhagen.

Now forgive me while I go drink some beer and churn out the Next Great Novel. 

writing with scrivener

scrivenerpp01

This is the first year I’ve used scrivener for nano. They’ve offered nano winners 50% off for a few years now, and I took advantage a few years ago. I ported LL over to scrivener, and that’s where I’ve been editing since. It was just a matter of switching from google docs, which I now use for backup.

Scrivener is a fantastic app, some say it’s the best dedicated writing tool on the market.

scrivenerpp02

Lots to like:

  • clean interface — I can even hide the file structure on the left and have a full page view, even with the navigation, i have most of my screen to type in
  • hierarchichal container structure — instead of one flat file or multiple files like in traditional word processors, the scrivener file structure is a dream to work with and navigate, it’s easy to go to any chapter and any section, and to move sections too
  • character and place profiles — brilliant to create backstory and to remember features
  • research — write notes, clip webpages, import diagrams
  • word count at a glance — the entire manuscript, selected chapters and sections
  • name generator — this is fun, and is particularly great during nano, to take the headache out of thinking of names
  • compile — no need to worry about formatting and front matter like table of content
  • export — exports to all sorts of formats like rtf, doc, pdf, epub

And all this in one global file and one workspace. No need to toggle between tabs and apps. There are features I don’t use, like the corkboard view, colour scheme or split screen. I hide the inspector and don’t use it to its full advantage. I don’t use project targets. I’m sure there are features I’m not even aware of.

scrivenerpp03

The biggest complaint is that it’s not mobile. The app is still stuck in the web 1.0 era: it sits on the mba and the global file is only saved on the mba. Although I can install the app on different computers, I can’t just open it wherever I like and be synced to where I was. I have to backup to dropbox and remember to save back to dropbox when I finish. It can import webpages, but pales in comparison to Evernote in terms of clipping and ability to store and organise research articles.

Since the promised iOS version has been delayed and delayed and delayed, other apps have come to the market. The most prominent is storyist, which is 50% off for nano winners and is similar in look-and-feel to scrivener. Another one I recently came across is novlr, which is web-based, like google docs. Then of course it’s possible to use evernote as a writing tool, even though its text editing feature isn’t very good.

I may give storyist a try, if the 50% discount extends to the ios version. The fact is, scrivener is too good at its job for me to jump ship, I’ll live with using it on the mba and wait patiently for the ios app.

note: I came across an interesting article from a scrivener user that makes a point I hadn’t realised. It’s great for writing, but if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher, edits are done in Word, using the awful, awful track changes tool. Hmm. My copy of Word is 2003 (yes, really) although I suppose I can use Open/LibreOffice. We’re back to web 1.0 flat file eras. Ah well, moot point.

 

#14: nano 2014

nano2014wincert

Task #14 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2014. It’s one of those tasks I put in there because I knew I’d get it done. It’s not me trying to show off or anything, the fact is that I’ve finished all the nanos I’ve started, so the odds are very good.

I’m very pleased they opened up validation on the 20th this year, I think it’s the earliest they’ve done so. Actually I don’t see why validation isn’t available on day 01, since there are people who challenge themselves get to 50k in one day, and the validation code surely hasn’t changed in years.

nano2014profilechart

Anyway, I validated at 60k words, but actually only 57k was written in november. I could have deleted the pre-nano words when I copied over to validate, but I couldn’t be bothered. Details, details. I got to 50k on day 12, which is pretty good. (My average finish is day 15.) Since day 12, I’ve slowly written a few hundred words a day. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it now, or leave it till later. It’s not a bad story.

nano day 12 | 3050 words 50081 total

nano2014chart

3050 words 50081 total

Another year, another nano finished. The story isn’t done, let’s see if I have the interest and motivation to finish it this month. I may be able to carry on this year, I’m not tired of the story yet. There’s a good 10-15k left, and if I can stretch it out to 20k, it brings me to 73k overall and a good length. Even though there is A LOT of editing and probably deleting needed. That’s the point of a first draft. 

nano day 11 | 3254 words 47031 total

nanobrown

3254 words | 47031 total

I spent most of the day frustrated. In the morning, firefox updated to v33.1, and then decided not to load all google sites. This meant no search, no google maps and no google docs (plus no gmail, no youtube—it’s amazing how we rely on google). Important because the next chapter was about the MCs going on a road trip and I need to look at distances, routes and sights. I tried skipping to the next chapter but I find that I can’t write out of order. I was pretty mad.

I’m extremely glad I’m writing on scrivener and not google docs this year.

I was able to get search working by using google.co.uk, and I google maps worked perfectly fine on the ipad. The problem was solved after dinner by deleting all google cookies, clearing the cache and restarting the mba. I should have thought of it earlier but it never occurred to me that updating firefox would screw things up like this. Not sure what happened.

Yes, even though it would have been good to push to get to 50k, it doesn’t matter. 3000 words needed tomorrow, I’m relaxed. 

nano day 10 | 3374 words 43777 total

crepesupercomplet

3374 words 43777 total

Today is my niece’s birthday. We went for dinner at the crêpe restaurant near their home, her choice. I was busy in the afternoon, and we left early to go to the market beforehand. Great dinner, good food. I had buckwheat crêpe with ham, egg, emmental, roquefort and salad, we had a couple of large bottles of cider. Little one was very happy with her presents.

In terms of nano, today was a short day. 3000-odd words is not bad. I’m not in any hurry because, touch wood, there is no way I won’t make 50k. Let’s see how I feel, whether I want to finish the novel or finish at 50k.

I incorporated one of the dares:

have your characters get involved in a food fight
BP: if it takes place in a place you wouldn’t expect a food fight
DBP: if it takes more than 1667 words to describe
TBP: if it’s important to the plot

So MC2 got fired because she called her boss on him taking money from the restaurant’s bank account. Although ultimately all profits go to him, as the owner, it wasn’t the right thing to do. So her best friend decided to hold a food fight party to cheer her up. That satisfies the dare.

BP: best friend’s family owns a swimming pool supply and maintenance business. The food fight party took place there, they had pools and gardens set up on display so it was easy to clean up.

DBP: the entire section of party planning, the actual party, the fight and the après fight party was 4568 words; the part dealing specifically with fight prep (had to prepare all the food), actual fight and declaration of winner was 2089 words

TBP: was it important to the plot? The entire story is going from party to party, as the MCs’ relationship strengthens. This food fight party was to transition between MC2 getting fired and the next section, of them going on a road trip. I guess it’s important to the plot.
 

nano day 09 | 5000 words 40403 total

poppy2014

5000 words | 40403 total

No one sets out deliberately to write exactly 5000 words in a day, and neither did I. When I came to an appropriate stopping point at the end of today’s writing—the end of a section—I saw that I had 4999 words. So it was easy to add a single word to the last paragraph bringing me to exactly 5000. I’m now at 40k for nano, 80% done. Not bad.

Today is Remembrance Sunday. I was delighted to see I could get a poppy the other day when mm and I had lunch at the Marriott. There are still some isolated pockets of Britishness left, it’s one of the unspoken aims of #occupyhk, to retain the heritage. One of my favourite quotes for Remembrance Sunday is from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, which was first published in The Times in September 1914:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

I can’t incorporate Remembrance Day into my story, since it’s set in Nashville and my characters are too young. I did have them have a discussion about Memorial Day menu in the restaurant where MC2 works. I could have written a poppy in, but it would have felt forced.

Coming up: a food fight party and a surprise party for MC1. The entire story has been written from MC1’s pov so I guess the trick is to establish the surprise party without her knowing about it and then having the surprise element.