Autumn Wrap Up

I’ll try to keep this as short as possible, but it might get a little long (and repetitive, sorry :/ ), so I’ll bold anything important, like challenge names and the like.

So, I decided not to do a November wrap up because…well, not much happened in November, except NaNoWriMo. Let’s start there.

For NaNoWriMo… *imagine there’s a drum roll here*

I WON!!!

I still can’t believe it, but I wrote 50,611 words in the month of November, and won NaNoWriMo for the first time!

Screenshot (92)

I got all the badges I could for NaNo this time, and I’m still in shock. Every. Single. Day, I wrote. A few days, it was literally only a sentence or two, but I did it. I wrote every day, I wrote just a bit over 50k words, and I have a huge chunk of a very rough first draft of a novel completed. I’m exhausted still, and feel like I might never write again (I will, and I am), but I’m also just a tiny bit proud, even though I know thousands of people win this every year, and this is probably nothing to actual authors, so what I accomplished isn’t really that big of a deal. But still, it was new for me, and I’m very slightly proud, and pleased with what I accomplished.

Reading? What’s that? Seriously, I only read a little over half of a graphic novel in November :/ (Spoiler: I still haven’t finished it. *sighs forever*) I don’t think I did an October wrap up, either, now that I think of it. October was a better month for reading, for me. Here’s how I did:

october books read

  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (4.5/5 stars)
  • Persepolis 2: The Return by Marjane Satrapi (5/5 stars)
  • The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (5/5 stars…I love Oscar ❤ )
  • Peper Girls, vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (5/5 stars)
  • Hellboy, vol. 1: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola and John Byrne (4.5/5 stars)
  • My Invented Country by Isabel Allende (5/5 stars)
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman (4/5 stars)
  • Aberrations by Jeremy C. Shipp, et al (2/5 stars)
  • A Night in Terror Tower by R.L. Stine (4/5 stars)
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (3/5 stars)
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (3/5 stars)
  • Outcast, vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him by Robert Kirkman (3/5 stars)
  • The Duality Paradigm (Blood & Bone trilogy #1) by Lia Cooper (3/5 stars…maybe 3.5/5)
  • A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (4/5 stars)
  • Why I’m Afraid of Bees by R.L. Stine (3/5 stars)
  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (5/5 stars)

Time to wrap-up the challenges I participated in during the autumn months! Here’s my original sign up post for the challenges below.

Fall Bookish Bingo

fall bookish bingo MARKED

What I read for each space

  • Person on cover: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  • Poetry or Verse: Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
  • Co-Authored: Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena & Jess Zimmerman (reviewed here)
  • Horror: Halloween Carnival, Vol. 1 Edited by Brian James Freeman (reviewed here)
  • First in a Series: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Set at a School: Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis (reviewed here)
  • Illustrations: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Magic in the Real World: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (reviewed here)
  • Different Culture: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Ensemble Cast: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright (reviewed here)
  • Mental Health: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Set in Another Country: A Night in Terror Tower by R.L. Stine
  • Paranormal: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • Black Cover: Bird Box by Josh Malerman
  • Translated: My Invented Country by Isabel Allende
  • LGBT: The Duality Paradigm by Lia Cooper
  • Required Reading: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (Is this cheating because it was “required reading” back when I was in school?)

I got 2 bingos, which isn’t amazing, or as good as I’d hoped, but I’m satisfied. I can’t wait for the winter one!

Then there was the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge

This was hosted by My Capricious Life and Estella’s Revenge.

I chose “Peril the First,” which was to read at least 4 books for the challenge. I succeeded! I read:

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill 
  • A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I probably could count a couple others, but I’ll leave it at those.

#FrightFall Readathon

The only requirement for this readathon was to read at least one scary book during the month of October. I read more than one, but since I’ve already listed everything I read for October and other challenges, I won’t repeat them here.

Lastly, I did the Halloween Read-A-Thon 

I did all the prompts, whoo! I never posted a wrap up of this one, but meant to. I just got absorbed in other things :/ I read:

  • Costume Party: Aberrations by Jeremy C. Shipp
  • Haunted House: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • Urban Legends: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Witching Hour: I think both Goosebumps books counted for this. I read a lot at night, but I think I decided to read a whole book in a night for this one.
  • Scary Movie: I didn’t get the bonus challenge (reading a book then watching the movie), but I do a month-long horror movie marathon every October (watching at least 1 horror movie every day), so this one was super easy.
  • Trick or Treat: I read A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay for this one. I’d had it on my TBR for ages and finally read it.
  • All Hallow’s Eve: I did read 7 books for this, but I’ve already listed all of them. Basically, everything in the image of my books from Aberrations on, minus (I think) The Duality Paradigm, which is 8 things (one short story).

Normally, I would conclude this with a book haul pic, but…I can’t remember what I bought and my books are all messy right now, and this post has gone on for about three centuries already. Plus, I’m too lazy to check my last haul and then look for everything I’ve bought since then. But I’ll probably make a different post for that once I’ve finished sorting my books out.

If you’ve stuck around since the beginning of this post, please drink some water and stretch. You’ve probably been sitting, looking at this, for way too long :p

Tell me know about your autumn reading in the comments 😀

Did you join any challenges? Was it a good season for books, for you? What was your favorite autumn read?


NaNoWriMo has begun :/

I’m not sure anyone would miss me if I didn’t post at all for the whole month, but I’m going to try to avoid that anyway.

Apologies in advance for whatever randomness is born on this blog this month. Basically, my entire plan and schedule for blogging goes out the window for November, because writing a novel has taken over most of my life :/ 

The first few days of NaNo are always really intense for me. I either can’t seem to get started, or I get a bit ahead of the set word goal. This year, it’s the latter.

Today is day 3, and the goal is to reach 5,000. For day 4, it’s 6,667. Here are my stats on Scrivener (I’ve only written a sentence or two so far today because I write late, usually):

Screenshot (77)

So, I’m kind of ahead, but I won’t be for long unless I can get in quite a bit more writing. So far I’ve been averaging about 2k words each day, which was my original plan, yay. According to the NaNoWriMo prediction thing on my stats page, I might actually reach 50k words a couple days before the end of the month. That would be nice, but I’m not counting on it. One reason I try to get ahead and stay ahead is so, if something comes up, I might still have a chance of finishing. And something almost always comes up that prevents me from writing for at least a day.

But, my biggest hurdle in winning NaNo has always been my inner editor. I can’t shut it off, or at least not entirely. But this year, I’m shoving it in a tiny room with a lock and just going with my rambling writing. My inner editor keeps banging on that locked door, demanding to be let out, but I want those words, and I keep reminding myself that this is the first draft. It’s supposed to be ugly and rough because it’s me telling myself the story first. Every time I think of trying to go back and fix something, I tell myself to remember this draft is not for an audience, it’s for me. I can go back and try to make it presentable later.

Another reason I’m hoping to get–and stay–ahead with my word count is so I can actually have a life outside of writing and the most basic of daily chores and stuff. I want to give myself some breathing room so I can read a bit, or watch some TV, and take a break from the story when I need to.

I’m hoping to get in a ton of writing sometime in the next few days, and then maybe make a NaNo survival/tips post.

In the meantime, on top of NaNo, I’m also trying to keep a kitten alive. Again. 

This is one of the kittens I mentioned a few days ago. His eyes were totally matted shut, he weighs half as much as he should, and the vet doesn’t think he’s going to make it. I think he’s a fighter, though, and he might. I got him to eat a tiny bit of the special canned food the vet gave us, and we’re doing our best to keep him warm, clean, and comfortable. I would really appreciate any healing thoughts, vibes, prayers, whatever you believe in, sent his way, please and thank you. His chances aren’t good, but he does have a chance.

Fellow NaNo participants, you’ve got this! I’m here cheering for you and I believe in you 🙂 Keep going, don’t lose hope, just keep writing. Even if you’re not happy with what you’ve written. Make some notes for things to fix or whatever in months to come, and move on to the next part.

(Final?) NaNoWriMo Prep Update

Well, it’s almost upon us. At of the time of this writing, there are just under 30 hours until NaNoWriMo 2017 begins, and I am not ready. As usual. Ugh.

Everything was fine. I had a mostly clear idea of where my story would start, large chunks of the middle, and a hazy idea of the ending (I was juggling 2-3 different potential endings). But then I started planning and everything went to hell.

Now, my story has changed and I’m not sure if I should try to force it back into the original shape, or just go with this new weirdness. I already know that this novel project will probably never be suitable for consumption by anyone other than myself. When I finish this, it will be the first writing project of this length that I’ve actually made it through, so it’s going to be a “drawer novel.”

I kept saying that I just needed to get those 50k words, any way possible, but now that NaNo is so close, I keep forgetting that. (Stop it, brain!)

So, what am I going to do? Make a genuine effort to write a “good” story by shoving this one back onto the original tracks? Or allow the strange, campy, ridiculous thing it’s becoming room to grow?

I think the latter. I love campy horror movies. I love B horror movies. I love seeing elements from those movies in books. So…I’m writing this hot mess, I guess. *long, dramatic sigh*

This is going to be the hardest NaNoWriMo ever for me, because I’m my worst critic. I’m never satisfied, I have to knock my inner editor unconscious and stuff it in a box to get any NaNo writing done, and I struggle to remind myself that even great writers might start with a really not-great first draft. I know that the best books might not be born great. They go through drafts and edits and minor to major changes, before finally emerging into the world as the wonderful books we love. But it’s hard to associate my favorite authors with writing that isn’t fantastic, you know? (Is any of this making sense? I need more coffee.)

I need those 50k words. I need that Scrivener discount. I need to do this, for me, to prove that I am capable of sticking to the writing of a book and seeing it through, even when it’s hard. Because writing is hard. Sure, some things are easier to write, but it’s not always like that. I have to remember that, and keep going because I’ve exhausted all my excuses. It’s now or never, seize the day (or carpe librum, maybe?), blah blah blah. Ugh.

Ok, I’ve babbled on way too much while I should be either prepping for Halloween or NaNoWriMo, so I’m off to do that.

For those of you are at all interested in following my NaNo progress (or just being friends!), I’ll be tweeting way too much about it, and you can add me on NaNo as a writing buddy if you’re doing it, too 🙂 

NaNoWriMo Prep Update

I was going to do T5W, but…I kinda forgot :/ And I could only think of 4 books (I’m sure by tomorrow I’ll have thought of, like, 10), so… NaNo update it is, because it’s still Blogtober and I’m determined to see this through! (And I actually have updates, wow.)

Yesterday, I finally opened Scrivener. I had downloaded the NaNoWriMo trial version several days ago, but I was still too intimidated to open it because I knew the walk-through/tutorial thing was going to take forever. I was right. It took me about 7 hours to get through it. I wasn’t working my way through it for every minute of that time, but a lot of it. I’d say it would have taken me about 2.5-3 hours if I’d just powered straight through it without short breaks.

So, that’s finally done and now I’m actually using Scrivener, huzzah!

My first impressions are ❤ ❤ ❤ basically. I used to be such a pantser, but over the last couple of years I’ve definitely become more of a planner/plotter, and I can totally see how Scrivener might be the answer to the prayers I didn’t know I was saying while I cursed my notecards, notebooks, legal pads, scribbled notes, pinterest boards, etc. every year in the past.

My enjoyment of Scrivener is my motivation for winning NaNo this year, because I need to win. Not just to prove to myself that I can, but because I really want that 50% off coupon for NaNo winners. (It’s $40 software for PC, $45 for Mac.) I’m working on my mini-goal “rewards” still, but Scrivener is my winning reward.

I’ve started putting together character sheets and location sheets, and I have a few things for reference already imported to Scrivener. I still have a bit more of that to do, though, so I don’t have to keep hunting down pages of things online. My main characters are named, I’m working on side characters, and I need to get a few more descriptions and reference pics for the setting.

Next, I’m going to figure out if I want to plan scene-by-scene or chapter by chapter. I might do both, starting with chapter planning (a general idea of what’s going to happen), then breaking it down and getting a more in-depth outline for scenes. I usually plan just by chapter, but I’m thinking this year I’ll do that and then drop in the scenes I’ve already planned, once I figure out exactly where they belong.

Finally, I’ve figured out that if I do get totally stuck, as I often do during NaNo, I’m not going to worry about it and just write whatever, even if it doesn’t really go with the story. I can leave a note to come back and remove/edit those bits later. I just need to get the bones down, and reach those 50k words. My inner editor is my biggest hindrance for NaNo, so it’s time to squash that like a bug and move on.

I’m aiming for 2k words every day, so I have a little breathing room if something comes up.

One final note: Because I’ll be writing so much next month, my blog will probably be mostly weekly memes, like T5W. I should have a review or two up next month, but most of my focus will be on writing. I’m not going on hiatus or anything from my blog, but I’ll almost certainly be posting less than I’d like.

If you’re doing NaNo and want to be buddies, add me!

I’ll also be tweeting about it.

NaNoWriMo Prep Update

This was supposed to go up yesterday :/ Not sure what happened.

I haven’t done nearly as much on-paper planning as I’d meant to/thought I would have by now, but I’ve got a lot of different things floating around in my head still. The problem is deciding which ones to keep and then figuring out how I’m going to link them all together :/

But, at least I think I know my MC’s name, plus two other characters. I have a general idea of my MC’s personality and history, and how she might react to things. We’ll see how it goes next month, though, I guess. I know what the setting looks like. Like, the images are so clear in my head I want to scream because I’m not talented enough to draw or paint them.

Next up, I need to make a pinterest board or something for my characters and things that will be in the story. I haven’t actually done this before, but I did use something similar (some online corkboard thing, I think) one year and it was just ok. Pinterest is way better, though, so I’m hopeful it’ll help keep me motivated and inspired, and remind me of what something looks like when I have a freak out and my mind goes blank and I forget everything -_-

I’ve written down a few pages of notes and I’m just about ready to start actually outlining. It would be nice if I could figure out the middle and ending before NaNo starts, for a change. (Actually, I think I had the ending last year, but no middle at all and it was a nightmare.) I have some ideas, but I keep discarding them all and trying to think of something new. I’m hoping I’ll be inspired soon, so I’m not panicking about it when NaNo begins. I might even just pick one of my not-great endings, because I can always go back and change it later.

This doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. This doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. This doesn’t… (Anyone else have to keep repeating things like that as a reminder to chill out?)

One thing that’s drastically different this year from every other year I’ve done NaNo is that I’m not going to try to win. This year, I will win. It will be an ugly mess that might never be fit for other human eyes, and I will almost certainly have bits that are just me typing in things like “Add [whatever kind of thing should happen here] in a couple months when you come back to edit! Move on!” but I will get those 50k words this year. No more excuses, no more giving up. It’s happening.

(Somebody remind me I said this when I inevitably hit the “I can’t do this!” stage around day 10-15 next month, please.)

NaNoWriMo is coming

‘Tis the season for hand cramps, all-nighters, too much coffee, tea and booze, and feeling like you might just be cracking up. That’s right, National Novel Writing Month is next month, and, of course, I’m doing it for about the 8th time. Yay… (No, really, I am excited I’m just not feeling so great or optimistic.)

Have I won? Haha, no, not once. I did get about halfway there a couple of times, but that’s usually when things start to fizzle out. I like writing short stories, and novel writing has been…complicated. I’ve always been a pantser rather than a planner, but that’s actually started to change over the last couple of years. So far, it hasn’t gotten me closer to winning NaNo, but it has made the month leading up to NaNo (AKA Halloween month) feel more productive, so that’s something.

If I could stop editing and looking for the “right” way to say things as I write, that would be great. It’s a big part of what slows me down. That, and hitting a small wall, like knowing exactly what’s going to happen next, but having no idea how to get there from where my characters are. I need to just start inserting things like “HEY! come fix this later because I have no clue wtf to do to get them from A to B.”

(If all of this is making no sense, I apologize. I’ve been sick all week and it’s culminated in me feeling like my head’s been sliced up and rearranged before being stuck back together all wrong.)


My NaNo project for this year started off as horror, which was cool. I was fairly certain I was going to write horror for a few months, so it was nice to have ideas to start thinking about. But then it changed. It took on a weird, dark fantasy or magical realism vibe, which was strange and frustrating. Now, it seems to be mostly back to horror, so I have no clue what’s going on in my head with this story. I’m trying to map things out, write out scene ideas, etc., but this story is like a mess of yarn: I can’t figure out where the beginning is :/

Next month, I will not be super active on here. I’m going to aim for like 3 posts each week (probably all memes). I need to continue reading, but I’ll most likely put off reviews until December.

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? (If so, good luck!)

Emerging from my hiatus…

I’ve pretty much put myself in a time-out for about a month, but I won’t bore anyone with the whys and such.

Right now I’m working on my review (finally) of The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle, which should be up Sunday or Monday. I’m currently reading my birthday present from my husband: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, so I hope to have it finished and reviewed by next weekend. After that, I’ll probably catch up on a couple of ARCs that I’m way overdue to review because life got in the way.

I’m also doing NaNoWriMo (again) this year. I’ve done it several times, but I’ve never made it past about 15,000 words. This year, I’m determined to finish. I’m just too much of a perfectionist with my writing, which is absurd because my writing is quite terrible these days. I think making myself just write, every day, with no editing or second-guessing, might at least get me back into the habit of writing daily. I know what I write will suck, and that’s ok. In the spring (or whenever), if I choose, I can pull out the monstrosity born in November and give it a good scrub…or twelve. Maybe it will remain terrible, maybe it won’t.

Either way, I need to do this. I need to stop being so afraid and critical and just write, because I really do love it and miss it.