Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yes, you read that title right! It may only be days from October, but the seasoned and slightly insane NaNo participants this year are already plotting and preparing for a writing year like no other, myself included!

One of my tabs up top on the blog has been sitting there for only a few days. If you click it, you really only get to see a big envelope with the words TOP SECRET stamped across the front. I'm beyond proud and crazy excited to finally say I can sort-of tell you just what kind of project I'm working on.

For weeks I've been secretly posting day-by-day on a private blog, working out kinks and formatting little things here and there, in preparation for this November. When my friend and fellow Twitter-partner-in-crime Lyn Midnight posted a message asking for stories about NaNo, I thought to myself, "This must be some weird dance of fate to unveil what I've been doing!" So we talked a little bit, and came to a conclusion that I can guest blog during NaNo about my project, details, research, as long as I stay in the dreaded 700 word count per post. (Which is virtually impossible, but I will succeed!)

This year I'm going to tackle something a little more real than my typical game of vampires and angels. My project is going to focus on a fictional tale of a young girl who develops an ED, and the struggles that come with having that kind of pain wrapped around your every waking moment. As I explained to my boyfriend today over lunch, this has been something that, while not having affected me personally, I've seen firsthand and read enough to know the problems that surface with every situation surrounding food, family, friends, and life. Stories like this, fiction or non, aren't to be messed with and just whipped out of thin air, and I hope with the completion of this that I'll have done right by victims and those who have recovered by it. To me, it's always felt like this is a story I have to tell.

While I can't give out all of the details surrounding the story yet, I do plan to explain a TON more tomorrow at Lyn's blog, whose link is both to the left of the page and in this post above. My guest post will mention how/when I came up with the idea, what I plan to do with it, and the charity I do plan on donating to afterwards. Don't forget to stop by and leave a comment behind!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy (belated) Fall everyone! Except for the occasional person still hiding on the Bahamas right now, we're all feeling the beginning of a winter chill in the air, the dreaded scent of pumpkin coffee and pumpkin everything EVERYWHERE, and the internal panic that Christmas will be here before we know it.

But weird tasting coffee aside, my post isn't to rant about why Wawa should never make a pumpkin spiced beverage ever again, but rather a little special treat I found on Twitter the other day after going through a few links and RTs. Amber West's 'A Day Without Sushi' blog had an interesting Friday post that piqued my interest. The idea was to give up something for a month and in exchange to donate to a charity of your choosing.

Let me first start off by saying this: It is TOO hard to pick just one charity. I have this uncanny habit of wanting to donate to every charity I see, hear, or think about. Case and point? Those tin containers the Salvation Army puts in mall at Christmas? Half of the tin is just from me spending twenty minutes yanking out every penny from the bottom of my bag.

And this is why I think it's okay to get a $5 cup of coffee from moderation.

So naturally, I asked everyone I knew for what charity to donate to, spazzing that the Gods of Charitable Acts was going to smite me if I didn't pick something soon. Thankfully, Wawa stopped me in the midst of my mental rant of boycotting their pastry-gag-worthy coffee to ask if I wanted to donate to Juvenile Diabetes, which I accepted with glee. In exchange, I'm not allowed to touch any type of ice cream (a very delicious treat I happen to go nuts for, especially Mochi balls) for the next month. Part of me feels like I need to write an epic tale about my trials and tribulations on overcoming my sweet tooth, hah!

Inspired? I included above a link to her blog post, so feel free to join in on the grouping! Even if you're not a blogger and you have a Twitter (use #gowithout to join in on the chat) or Facebook you can post on what charity you're donating to, along with what you're giving up for the month. It's really that easy! One person may not be able to fund a cure for diabetes or feed every hungry child, but when each person donates, even a little, it all adds up to make a HUGE difference.

Friday, September 23, 2011

We have tons of things in common as humans. Most of us desire to make something big of ourselves, sleep in for 'just a couple more minutes', love cake or pie, and procrastinate to the point of saying, "Why bother?"

If you are anything like me and every other dreamer, our road to our dreams have a good dose of roadblocks, unfinished paving, the occasional bridge missing across a raging river, just your normal everyday stuff. But like all humans, we expect instant results just for getting on the road, or we get frustrated when we get past that first roadblock only to see that the rest of the road didn't turn into a magically perfectly paved road wheeling us to our goal with no effort. Kind of like a horse turning into a unicorn. You gotta mate with a couple thousand narwhals before the gene passes through (this is why a unicorn has not been created yet.)

Does that mean it's time for you to throw in the towel and sulk in the corner as you contemplate your life-long job of fast food chains and shoveling non-unicorn horse dung? Absolutely not. Take it from the queen of procrastination and avoidance when I say that it ain't over 'til it's over, Johnny. If you're stuck on that pile of muck, I've provided a few tips below that typically work for me, and who knows? Maybe they'll work for you too!

-Breathe. If you're looking at your project as, "OMG I HAVE TO WRITE AT LEAST NINE PAGES TO PASS MY SENIOR PROJECT I'M DOOMED WHERE'S CAKE?!" nothing, yes NOTHING, will get done. In my family I'm infamously known as the only child who could stay up three hours before school and whip out an A- project behind my back like flowers from a magician. But I didn't do it by having mini-heart-attacks. I breathed. A lot. Then I broke down the project into smaller, less scary chunks. Finish one page, ten minutes of random dancing to save my numb butt. Finish a second page, eat a handful of delicious goldfish, etc.

-Do it all in one night? How about no. Even I couldn't complete some things in one night flat and expect them to be amazing (or remotely completed.) If what you're working on is huge, you have to take it day-by-day. Example; I'm a Harry Potter fanatic, and for the opening of DH1 in theaters, I decided to make my own Ravenclaw robe identical to the movie versions. From scratch. No previous sewing knowledge, no idea how to read patterns. The chances of me successfully breeding a new species of mold in my room was much more likely to happen. After following the first tip for a few hours between reading up on sewing online, I pushed myself to buy the fabric, measure, cut, and sew on some machine from the mid-70s every day for two months. The end result? A fully finished robe cheaper than anywhere online!

-Balance, balance, balance. You can't just say, "I'm gonna go do _______ now, see you guys in a few months!" The downside of being creative is that we have lives, you know, that things that involves family, friends, Facebook, Twitter, forums and more? As much as we'd all love to crawl into a hole for a few months and emerge victorious, we can't. But that doesn't mean you can't do it! Find time (preferably also your 'sweet spot') to perfect your project at hand. Mine is a cross between breaks at work and anywhere from 11pm-3am. For you it might be when the kids nap or right after an episode of Friends you HAVE to see everyday to feel complete.

What about you? Do you have any tips to share or an experience with a big project that almost made you 'throw in the towel'? Share with us in the comment box below!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ever notice how both the need to finish something and the time left to complete it shrink exponentially until, wham-bam, it's here? We've all been there, done that, staring at the nine-page essay for English the next morning we haven't even started, let alone thought of. Thankfully, I've been out of school for two years now, and even though I miss some of my teachers (Mrs. Kern! I'm still sending you a copy of my books each time I publish them) I definitely don't miss the homework that came with it.

Instead, I had set out to finish the first portion of my little Boot Camp challenge I've taken on both in the writing department and physically (in case you didn't see my begin proclamation to my untimely demise of an experiment, see it here!) Following both the Yoga cards and the Cardio from Self, I can already tell you two things. One, running is definitely my strength, since out of each day I chose rather to get on the treadmill for 20 minutes instead of doing something new. Two, you know you're out of shape when you're feeling it the next day and two aspirin can't help you. Anyone got novocaine?

Writing wise, I figured for this post, I'd post the first portion of Dimitri's piece from Illumine. I had every intent of posting the synopsis I'd crafted, but either the ghost of my paper-losing past has it or I'll find it hours after posting this and start swearing and kicking myself all over the place. So, I guess you can call this a bit of a Teaser Tuesday piece, too!

Her petite frame was crunched within itself, lying sideways in a splatter of blood. The viscous liquid was already drying on the front of her clothes, a inkblot butterfly forming from the mess across her chest, skin so pale it looked translucent. No human could survive that kind of blood loss and live to tell the tell. Blood covered so much it was hard to tell where the girl's fire red hair began and where her life source ended. It was a pity her life had been ripped from her fragile form. Crouching down, I gave the girl a small nudge on the shoulder, using the back of my hand to brush away the hair off her creamy skin. Fingers came in contact with searing flesh, her pulse pounding in every inch of her skin.
With a groan, she rolled over.
And I felt myself die all over again.
Those eyes. Her eyes. Brown swirls with violet bursts dancing around her iris.
It became difficult to swallow. "There's no way you can still be alive." I breathed. "I saw you die."
For a moment, she looked at me, her eyes locking with mine. I felt myself get pulled back to the first time I saw her eyes, glowing with a new, eternal life under the light of a full moon. She'd danced as if she'd never danced before, twirled with a lack of self-control to rival a child. Only to watch her burst into flames, her eyes never leaving mine as she screamed for freedom.
The girl rolled back onto her side, breaking eye contact. She groaned and dry heaved, the veins in her arms pulsating with each contraction, the blue lines covering every inch of her as a subtle glow began to shimmer on her skin. My fangs cut into the insides of my lips, instinct pushing against reasoning. I picked up the girl, racing for my car before I could even think things through. Katrina would find the Nephilim and her Watcher on her own. I was going to make history right, finally.

Anyone else have some interesting Tuesday things going on, or maybe just something awesome that happened to befall this Tuesday?

Friday, September 2, 2011

I have a bit of a confession: I like to experiment. Ever since I was a child, I always got a bit of a kick figuring out just what would happen if I put the straightening iron too close to my forehead, or if I tossed those rocks at my neighbor's window in hopes of killing the imaginary killer clown living inside.

Realistically, I now know that putting that iron too close will give me a burn and probably make my head itch for several hours afterwards. And we all know there isn't a killer clown hiding in my neighbor's house for the most part. But I can't help wondering why I got such enjoyment from putting myself through these trials. I mean, Frankenstein obviously didn't like being toyed with (but those who really read that HS book will remember that he wasn't actually called Frankenstein (+1) and didn't have a name at all (+2) though sometimes called himself 'Adam' (that's +3 Mrs. Spritzer, see! I did read it) so why do I do it? Why do we do it?

My experiments took on a life of their own this week, though, when I picked up on a new favorite blog of mine and a new issue of Self. I'm constantly looking for ways to keep my favorite foods on my plate without having to go up a jean size, and new exercise moves to tone, trim, and get my heart pumping. The new issue of Self happened to have an article of a boot camp to follow, so what did I do? I said, "Hell, let's do this! But wait, I can make it twice as fun by also doing a writing boot camp the same time!"

Yep. Like I said, I experiment. Probably too much for my own good. So while I catalogue my little adventure doing squats, jogs, weights, dance, yoga, and all the other stuff on this 4-week challenge, I'm also going to take a heavy focus on dishing out some information on Illumine and a new little idea I've got brewing for NaNo this year.

I'll mark all my posts with my 4-week writing/exercising boot camp with the hashtag #writebootcamp, so don't forget to follow along with me!

But before I go, inquiring minds would like to know. Have any of you, bloggers or readers, ever used yourself as the 'experiment' for your own ideas? How did it pan out?