Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Dolls for the Fantasy Lover to Make

There are only a few holiday movies I really must see each year, The Grinch, since Dr. Seuss has been one of my heroes since I was five…and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I adore Burton’s taste for the unusual. Both are fantasy-lovers’ dream worlds.

One of my hobbies is knitting and crocheting. I’ve done needle projects for decades and constantly look for interesting patterns and yarns. This year, I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon patterns for crocheted dolls of the main characters of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I really need to squeeze out some time to make these. I can’t decide which I like best or will make first.

Zero by Lizville

He is too cute! The pattern is available directly on Lizville’s website.

Jack Skellington by Sunshyne Leland
I like how Jack can be made poseable by inserting pipe cleaners into his I-cord legs and arms. After all, Jack doesn’t just hang around—he’s always up to something! This is the easiest pattern, and good thing since as the main character you may end up needing to make more than one for friends and family.
This pattern is available for free as a download through the Ravelry website—a free online community of needle crafters.

Patch Doll Amigurumi Pattern by Irene Strange
I love the detailing of her dress! This pattern is available as a free download on Irene Strange’s website.
Description from her site:
She’s a rather tall girl, a whopping 12 inches in her tiny green shoes and socks when made with 4-ply wool and 2.5mm hook. But if you use a bigger hook size she can get even taller!
This pattern uses tables for all parts, with added diagrams and pictures to help along the way. There are also step by step photos detailing how to begin crochet, assemble the parts and finish the embroidery. You will mostly need basic stitches - although the embroidery and assembly may take a bit of time, it won’t take longer than a couple of evenings to do.

Which of these is your favorite? Now if I could only find a pattern to make a good Grinch. Can’t find one I like. Anyone have ideas?

[Cross-posted at my personal blog, Illusions of Intimacy.] 

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available early 2012.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Finish Line

On the 16th of the month, I came down with something nasty. Pneumonia.  It stopped me for five days.  But, after the initial feverish days I got back into the wip for NaNo.  Still coughing and feeling like well, you know.  I finished NaNo.  Now, I don’t think a months of sleep isn’t going to be enough to get over the exhaustion I feel.  But, I also feel exhilarated by the experience.    You see, for me it was more than getting a certain word count; it was about making a commitment and following through.  And woohoo I did it.  Now, since I still have pneumonia I’m going to go and have a long lay down. 
Till next time,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Yipppee! Yahoo!

I have no idea what I am so excited about.

No, really. I just used that as a title because that's how I feel in the moment. It's the day before the day we choose to define what we find gratitude for and I am immensely grateful.

I am grateful, mostly, for the power that imagination has in my life.

Seriously. We think, sometimes, that we are just making stuff up to entertain ourselves and an occasional other. The reality is that we are also making up our own lives. We are--when we imagine what we would like our lives to be, approve the experiences that confirm what we imagined, and reinforce our selection with re-imagining the outcomes--performing a kind of magic. Psychologists would disagree, but we spec-fic peeps know that psych types are just shamans and magicians with "real world" degrees, understand the truth.

I am writing a story that has found real world correspondences without my indulging in research.

I am using the tools of fiction to ground the changes in my real life so that I don't suffer the chaos of major life transition without some kind of treasure at the end. (OK. That last is wishful thinking. There will be a monster or two of my own design but that is the point. I know I created it.)

The point is, I am creating my life in such a way that I can take responsibility for the outcome. And because I can do that, I am also grateful-- thankful if you will --for all the experiences that have come before. I am thankful for all my life experiences that have given me something from which to write what I know.

Bless the present. Consider all the experiences that have brought you all the things you treasure about this moment, this snapshot of your life. Even if you have to dig deeply to find something to celebrate, do that. You are wonderful. I am thankful for you in my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Unconventional Thanksgiving

Looks like it’s just going to be me and the old man for Thanksgiving this year. An advantage of being pre-kids is that long weekends are basically like mini vacations, especially when we don’t have any engagements or responsibilities to worry about. Obviously, I’ll miss spending time with family, who we won’t get to visit until Christmas, but I can still be thankful

Now, I love to cook, but I’m not about to put myself through a complicated traditional meal for just the two of us. Instead, we’ve decided to make a simple, one pot frogmore stew (also called low country boil). I’ve seen several variations on the recipe, but you basically throw a bunch of shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn into a seasoned broth and let the magic happen. I’m adding crab legs to mine with some buttery cornbread on the side (yum!). I know it’s not the norm, but I’m dying to dig into a big pile of messy seafood goodness.

We’ll also be Skyping with the rellies, catching up on all the recent superhero movies, and probably playing a few rounds of golf if the weather’s acceptable. Last, but definitely not least, I’ll be writing (of course). It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo, and as much as I’m looking forward to a little grown-up fun time, I’ve still got work to do if I’m going to make that 50k goal.

Any special or unusual plans for Thanksgiving out there? Who’s planning to write their hearts out between turkey binges? No matter the situation, have a fantastic holiday weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How's your hair?

Are you pulling your hair out over NaNo yet?  Last year at this time I was stressed beyond belief and driving my very patient and sympathetic husband crazy.  Every evening I would sit in front of the computer and “force” myself to write 1667 words a day to ensure that at the end of the month I had record 50,000 words.  You can imagine how  fun living with me was last November.  :)

On the eve of November 30th, I had managed to “win” at NaNo, but at what cost?  My sanity?  My poor husband’s sanity?  Then I jumped into a month of hardcore revision hell that didn’t help my frustration. 

This year when I started to struggle with the words because of the pressure that I put on myself to achieve those 1667 words, I stopped and moved far away from my computer and focused on another task. I stopped fearing those 1667 words and instead when I sat down for “my” writing time, I didn’t look at a clock or at the number of words that I had currently typed.  I just focused on finding my inner muse and allowing my characters to inspire me. 

The second week of NaNo had hit me hard as once again I found myself tapped, but I didn’t stress.  Instead, I took a few days off to focus on other things going on in my life and then when I felt like it, I returned to writing.  On the first day after the break, I wrote for three hours and chocked up 4700 words.  Day Two was great again with 3450 words. 

Through trial and error, I’ve learned that for me to get through NaNo, I had to throw away the calculation word count and just write from my heart.  There are some days that I just don’t feel like writing, so I take them off and I am even hungrier to get back to my story the next day.

Good luck to you all!  However you are feeling or doing, just remember nine more days and normal life can begin again!

RJ :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Keep Going!

After last year’s win in November, I thought this year would be a piece of cake. But of course, after two days, I was on a course to fail NaNoWriMo. Between felling unwell and the pain in my wrists, I didn’t write much. Even the braces I brought for my wrists didn’t help.

Yet, the last two days have been a breeze. In four days, I will be back on track for 50k. If I keep up my daily goal, I will reach 75k by the end of the month which is 25k less than my original goal of 100k. It doesn’t bother me, since I can make it up during the first week in December.

For those of you behind, never give up! Keep writing until the last day in November. After so many attempts this year to finish this novel, I’m on track to have first draft done in 3 weeks. Push through those times you don’t want to write. There is still time to reach 50k or 75k. Heck, even 100k is possible.

Join sprints on Twitter, AIM, or go to a write-in. Their motivation will ignite your own writing. Remember you are never alone, no matter what time of the year it is. And that will always push you to keep going.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What a lovely place to spend time...

I wandered over to the Tor website and for some reason I followed a banner link to the website for Sailor Twain. I think it was because the image was of a steamboat and the steamboat figures in my nanonovel, somewhere. I didn't know the link was to a web comic.

I have nothing against web comics. Or rather, nothing that I don't also have against paper ones. I just don't follow them well, anymore. Or don't care about the story. Or want to invest the time and attention in a series even when I love the concept and story.

Until now.

I don't know what it is exactly about the Sailor Twain comic. It's a combination of all the elements that go into the site, the pages, the story. Then, I discovered that the author and artist is also an editorial director at :01 First Second Books. I originally heard of the company when I picked up Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, a textbook for creating graphic novels and other combinations of words and pictures.

I have been reading the book from the beginning, taking occasional dips below the fold into the posts and comments.
I'm behind writing my nano novel, but I reward myself by spending time aboard the Lorelei, immersed in the rich blacks and sparkling whites, and moody grays of Siegel's charcoal.

Yes. He draws the comic and "colors" it in charcoal. It's real Art. OK, I think of anything drawn in charcoal as being "real Art" since I have been avoiding charcoal all my drawing career.

But, there is another aspect to seeing this as Art.

Since beginning the book, I've been seeing the world differently. Especially how noses might be drawn. I know that's a strange bit of focus and it's not the only thing, but it's an important bit for me. I had recently heard somewhere that Art changes how you see the world. This Art is simplifying how I process the world visually. I'm also thinking of how to write stories differently, or how to visualize things like costume and setting.

Mostly, given the month of November and our multitudinous manifestations of monstrous something-that-should-begin-with-m, the big thing I'm getting from the web comic? Trust simplicity.

NOTE:  I've just come back visiting the blog post and discovered that the images I'd linked to are gone. Not sure how that works, but it might have something to do with the comic now being published in French.  I'm going to try posting a link to one of the images again. It's wonderful to be able to see the images out of context, to appreciate the beauty of a single panel and the work that produced it.
m 4April12

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing or Kittens?

I’m not sure at this point if NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt, or if I’m kicking its. Either way, the journey continues with another week of sprinting challenges and hair pulling, all for the love of writing. Honestly, I’m having a great time, and I hope you all are too.

I have an added challenge now that we have officially claimed the feral kitten from the back yard. She was captured and brought to the vet on Friday, received a clean bill of health, and is now adjusting in the only room we could logically isolate her – my study. So on top of everything else, I have to try and work with a stinky litter box in the corner and this at my feet:

And you thought you had it bad. Her name is Clementine, by the way, and she is the world's cutest distraction. Wish me luck.

Happy writing all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

For several years, I’ve weighed the advantages and disadvantages of participating in NaNoWriMo.

When I first learned about the program, I was lured by the commitment which gives new writers a means to develop the discipline of regular writing—not an easy task for many reasons.

Admittedly, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. The year I discovered it, when the buzz filled the writing world air, I didn’t have enough time to prepare. Year two, embroiled in another writing project, I watched cautiously as a friend participated. Weeks went by and she became much less friendly. I wondered how her family managed to remain understanding of her personal need during Thanksgiving. But, she survived and even seemed to grow as a writer, which piqued my interest.

Last year, I faced a situation where I needed to finish a manuscript fast. Making an appointment to pitch an unfinished novel forced me to write at the same speed required during NaNoWriMo. I learned how to let the words flow without deliberation. I’m truly thankful to know the free feeling of that type of writing and often use the skill just to relax into my story and enjoy the characters. Now, that immediate flow is a treat I look forward to and a skill I employ from my bag of writing techniques.

Unfortunately, that endeavor took me up to the third week of October and prevented me from preparing for NaNoWriMo 2010. I don’t think I would have held up to two months at that pace with only a week between.
This year, NaNoWriMo 2011 wasn’t even a consideration since I’m faced with being the primary family care-giver for my mother who suffers from severe dementia. Without question, that comes first, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, not faced with a personal debate of whether or not to do NaNo, I was left with time to consider another aspect of the process.

Last week, I read a fascinating post by Dan Goodwin on his blog A Big Creative Yes, entitled BeautifulWhite Space and the Demise of Expectation. The topic was about the need for white space—having blocks of time in your life specifically for doing nothing pre-planned. He compared the use of white space for a writer to a food-taster needing to cleanse his/her palate between dishes. If you don’t stop to enjoy the visual aesthetic of the presentation, smell the aromas, chew properly, or savor each mouthful—with your only goal to get to that next dish—how can you appreciate any of the flavors?

What might you discover if you allowed time for subtle tastes to echo on your taste buds? 

Embracing the white space during the writing process is the same, allowing your mind to engage the nuances of the characters, plot, and language. Writing at the pace expected for NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow time for such reflection, unless you have few other responsibilities in your life. 

Those of you who are at the midpoint of NaNoWriMo, are you able to embrace any white space? Or do you feel crunched, as though you need time to let ideas settle in your mind? Is white space important to your creative process?

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available early 2012.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still going...

Here are my stats for NaNo as of Friday night: total word count 27014.   Also, I have a lump on my forehead from the contact sport of banging head to laptop.  Replacing my chocolate frenzy are grapes.  I like the sensation of popping them in my mouth one after the other.  LOL.  I’m drinking so much herbal tea and water, I’m spending a lot of time in the bathroom.  That was more information, I’m sure, you wanted to hear. 

Hit a few bumps in the road, when my characters got out and decide they were going in another direction.  Man, I was pissed at them.  I mean, I had their path paved out for them.  How dare they choose for themselves?   So, I had to input a new direction for my GPS system.  Usually, I find it exciting when characters know where they want to go, but it’s a little nerve wrecking when you’re under the time constraints of NaNo.  So, that’s the latest update.

Here's a quick chuckle for you about spoonerisms.  Huh?  Spoonerisms are accidental verbal errors. 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Boy was that a heavy rock

The thing about being a Scorpio is all those transformational opportunities. Which have been bludgeoning my sense of time. Hence, no posts for the last few Wednesdays on Wednesday.

So, how 'bout those fairy tale characters? Anyone actually watching ABC's Once Upon a Time? I tried, I really tried. They lost me at the prologue. OK let me be more fair and start from the beginning, as I was supposed to.

What do you know about happy endings? What if you never had one? What if someone decided that the only happy endings would be theirs?

This seems to be the premise of the new series, Once Upon a Time.

The premiere sets up the story of a little boy who is looking for his birth mother. The story unfolds bridging the worlds of fairy tales with the world we know. Who is the little boy, Henry? We find out who his birth mother is and we learn through him, who his adopted mother is and how the world of the show came to be. Storybrook is the landscape of the fairy tale inhabitants that have been trapped in our world.

The premise of fairytale characters being trapped in our world is familiar but from The Sister's Grimm book series for kids, which put me off a little. I had to watch the episode a few times to be truly interested in the series, at all. It could be that having been captivated by the print series, I found the television series slow. It started with a prologue rather than action. Took us into the fairy tale of Snow White with her happy ending. The idea of taking happy endings away is an interesting one. Adding the child to the layers made it syrupy for me.

I did watch the second episode, but only to see if there was something I was missing. I wasn't missing anything. Well, special effects and more unsisterly and unwomanly behavior. It dissolved into feeling like a soap opera with effects and too many sets.

To see if I was missing something, I watched the first episode of Grimm. Evidently, I want action in my fairy tales and not the princessy happy ever after that Once Upon a Time seems to promise.

Not for me, thanks.
Now back to our normally scheduled writing marathon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Write On! And Don't Forget to Vote

Week two of NaNoWriMo is upon us, and I just want to congratulate everyone on their progress. For some, the second stretch can be difficult to manage after a grueling first week, but it's also when a story really grows its own legs and we begin to find our rhythm for the month.

Hang in there, WriMo's! Remember to pace yourselves and acknowledge your successes, even the small ones.

Today is also the day to vote in local elections across the country, so cheers to all who took the time to do so. As you all know, I move around quite a bit, so this was my first time voting in my current precinct - call me a political dweeb, but it's always fun getting acquainted with a new voting den, LOL. Anyway, no matter what your positions are, just be sure to make your voices heard!

Happy writing (and voting) everyone!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo - a bucket of surprises

Tomorrow marks a full week of NaNo and for me, it has been full of surprises.  I spent the month of October planning and re-planning; plotting and re-plotting my Work in Progress, entitled “Dark Healing”.  Now I have been working on this WIP for two years and I just keep getting stuck.  I love characters, especially my hot hero Quinn Kamdyn, but it just doesn’t feel right to keep writing it.  I have started and finished this particular WIP three times with brand new twists and turns.

I had been excited to finish the outline on Halloween, but then when it came to start writing on November 1st, I was blocked.  No words came from my fingertips and I couldn’t seem to formulate a sentence in my brain.  Frustrated, I put on some music, but it still didn’t open anything up for me.  I keep a soundtrack on iTunes for each of the stories that I’m working on.  It helps me get into character as I listen to music that I feel that my character would like or that he would identify with. 

The song “Broken” by Lifehouse came on and it was the song that I pegged to describe one of my old characters, Charlie Maranzano.  Charlie is an Italian boy that was raised in the slums and saves the lives of one of the mafia heads’ children, befriends the son and falls in love with the daughter. Through a tough childhood, Charlie rises with the help of his friends to become that mafia head.  It’s not the Godfather as it is heavily a romance.  It’s kind of a Charlie’s Angels meets the Godfather, if I needed to nail it down to a particular mini blurb.

I had been writing it three years ago, when one of my instructors told me to stop wasting my time because there was no market for it. I listened and turned my writing focus to another of my loves, paranormal, but every now and then, I long to return to good ol’ Charlie.

Just for an experiment, I opened a new document of Scrivener and tried to write.  Well the words just flowed and I couldn’t stop.  Three thousand words later, I realized that I needed to write Charlie’s story.  Quinn’s can wait. 

I went back into my files and discovered my original outline for my mafia romance.  It needed some major work as I have learned so much in the last three years, but whenever I seem to touch the keyboard for “NaNo time”, I just type away the morning.  I flew through the first 10,000 words and while I still have a lot to go, I feel confident that I can finish.

Good luck to all of you that are doing NaNo.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

RJ :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo Status

As of Friday night, my word count is 9577 and maybe I’m a few pounds heavier.  LOL. 

I thought I’d share this video of writer/artist Beatrice Coron who doesn’t merely write stories, but cuts them out of paper.  Gee, all we do is sit in front of a laptop and pluck away at the keyboard.  This is a long video, but may give you some ideas for your story.  If you can at least watch the beginning when she walks on stage wearing a lace-like flowing robe made of paper.  This you have to see.

 And if you need a chuckle here’s a silly one for you. 

How’s your progress going?  Don’t give up and don’t worry that it’s not as perfect as you may want it.  Just get it down.  Later you can fuss with it. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ready… Set… Sprint!

The day has finally arrived and NaNoWriMo 2011 has begun!

There’s been a lot of great advice from my fellow scouts this last month, and I hope every writer taking the challenge is prepped and ready to rock. I can’t stress enough how important it is to seek out support for this endeavor, from both our families and peers.

Obviously, there are connections to be made on the Nano website, but you can also find friends on Twitter using the #NaNoWriMo or #Nano hashtags. Writing sprints are also a great way to reach your goals while in the virtual company of other writers, and Savvy Authors is the place to be. Savvy has a Water Cooler room used for group sprints all year round, but this November they have created a space specifically for those participating in the Novel in a Month Event.

Part of my strategy this year is to start with a bang, so I’m shooting for a whopping 5k today. This means I’m locking the door to my study tonight and only coming out for short breathers or to make another pot of coffee. I’ve got my synopsis, notes, and a rough outline on Scrivener to guide me. Crank the music and let the typing commence!

I’d love to hear how your first day is going, so feel free to brag or vent in the comments. Good luck to all!
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