So, it’s about 11 pm on Friday, October 31, and I’m bored. I’m staying up to start writing at midnight, but I’ve spent all day getting ready for midnight, so now I don’t have much to do. 

So here’s my set up. I’m writing on Scrivener Gold, which is basically the free beta version of Scrivener that was rolled out for NaNoWriMo… 2006? No, 2005. I volunteered as a beta tester then, and in return got the beta version free. It works so well that I’ve never actually bought the “real” Scrivener, though someday I will, because it looks like it’s everything wonderful about Scrivener Gold, but even better. 

I love Scrivener, by the way, and if you have a Mac, I highly recommend it. Highly. 

I’ve set up a document for each potential scene, with a short description of it typed up on the “index card” for that document. Because I’m trying to write two parallel storylines, this gives me a lot of freedom to re-order my scenes, while still having my outline down in an easy to access way. I totally copied this method of working from Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic, by the way. (You’ll notice that I really admire Holly Lisle’s methods, and refer to her articles and writing e-books a lot. If you haven’t read the free offerings on her website, do it. Now.)

I generally like paper index cards, and probably wouldn’t have done all this work in Scrivener, except that all I had were 4×6 cards, and I’m used to plotting on 3×5 cards–the 4x6s just took up too much space. I couldn’t get used to them. But now that I have this set up, I really like it.

I usually write in fullscreen mode, because otherwise I get way too distracted. I change the color scheme of fullscreen fairly often, but currently I have pale orange text on a dark reddish-brown screen. 

I have a Dexter Moon folder for playlists on iTunes–one for Marie, which has some fun, girly pop music, one for Dex that’s a bit moodier, a couple of playlists with some songs that fit the general tone of the novel (in heavy rotation is Tina Dico‘s Sacre Coeur, and Christopher Dallman‘s Mistake) plus a Genius playlist based on Emily Well‘s song Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & the Requiem Mix. 

I also have lots of water, Halloween candy, and my Skittlebug curled up next to me. (She’s my kitten, who’s about to turn one, sometime this month.) I’m ready for NaNoWriMo, baby.

22 minutes ’til midnight.



Happy Day-Before-NaNoWriMo! (err…)

It’s past midnight… And that means that it’s the day before NaNoWriMo starts!!

Also known as Halloween, in certain parts of the world. 

I don’t exactly remember when Halloween turned into the day before NaNoWriMo, but I think it was in my first couple of years of college, before I had ever even won once. It’s been that ever since, although there are times that I also celebrate Halloween. I do enjoy giving out candy, and costumes are fun, though mine tend to be too cerebral most of the time, and no one gets them. Ah well. 

I first participated in NaNoWriMo as a senior in highschool in 2001, the first year it really became a “thing”. It’s a point of pride for me that my user number for the site is extremely low, (443) though that’s a totally geeky thing to be aware of. (I myself am only aware of it because a couple of years ago, I constantly warred with a buddy, and we had one of those word war widgets going that required our user names. Okay, I know this isn’t helping. Anyway.)

Back then, I primarily thought of myself as a writer. By that I mean, if you asked me to describe myself, “writer” would be one of the first words out of my mouth. I constantly wrote–in class, with friends, on the bus, late at night. I spent my Friday nights writing. No, really. I would write until dawn sometimes, and then take a walk and see the world through hazy eyes, before crawling into bed. Very early on a Saturday morning is still one of my favorite times to be awake.

Since then, I’ve changed. I’ve stopped writing nearly as much, generally because other things come along and take over my interest. Art is the big one. Knitting, spinning. For the last year it was roller derby, and last October was one of the few times in the last 8 years that October 31st meant “Halloween” to me first, “Day-Before-NaNoWriMo” second. 

But I keep coming back for NaNoWriMo. I love the community, the excitement.  It’s a time that I can recapture that love of writing. 

When I was in 7th grade, I was sure that my biggest accomplishment in my life was to be a writer. A published author. An incredibly successful published author, along the lines of J.K. Rowling (though that was pre-Harry Potter). Now, I’m not so sure about that. There’s an awful lot else out there that I want to do.

I haven’t given up hope of being published someday, but if all I ever do is write a novel a year during National Novel Writing Month, reveling in the joy of writing and the fun of being with other writers, I think that will make my teenage self happy.

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2008


The cover of my 2008 NaNovel, Dexter Moon

The cover of my 2008 NaNovel, Dexter Moon


I’m getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2008. I’ve discovered, in my couple of years doing AugNoWriMo, that I really love having a place to keep track of my thoughts and include snippets. So that’s what this is.  And just to get things started here, this is something I wrote for a thread on personal (physical) NaNoWriMo journeys, that ended up being really interesting to me after I finished writing it.


2001, high school senior, written on my desktop “Ursula” (though I don’t think I’d named it yet), in Los Angeles, while in the middle of college applications and my senior project, a paper on the creative process of writing.

2002, my first year of college, (Massachusetts) the timing was awful–my laptop (Beatrice) was having major issues, so I handwrote about 3,000 words in a composition book before giving up.

2003, sophomore year, I wrote about 30K (maybe a bit less) and was already running behind by Thanksgiving break, which I spent with a friend in CT, and didn’t write a single word the entire time–but for some reason, I always associate that NaNoWriMo with that visit. Got back to school, and wasn’t able to pick it up again.

2004, was living with relatives in northern VA and commuting into Washington DC for an internship–I handwrote every morning on the metro, and for the first time, actually won NaNoWriMo, although it was with a horrible confused mess of a draft that I’ve refused to even look at ever since.

2005, back at school, wrote something, but I don’t remember anything else about it–I didn’t get very far.

2006, I’d graduated, and found a job in Florida, which started in October–I took my cross-country drive as the background for a story about werewolves and various other mythical creatures. I didn’t know ANYbody in Florida, so I spent all my time warring against an online buddy, and everyday spoke to my mom who had heard me talk about NaNoWriMo for years and finally decided to participate herself. That’s one of my really precious memories of her now, actually. (She just passed away a couple of months ago.) My second win, and I crossed the finish line in a coffeeshop at a write-in, which was the way I met the first people I knew in Florida.

2007, I was crazy busy, had just joined a roller derby league, which was taking up all my time, but for some reason, I jumped in to ML for my region when no one else stepped up. I organized a couple of write-ins a week, and pretty much ONLY wrote during those write-ins, giving up on the idea of winning in favor of just making it through to the end of November. 🙂

2008, I’m back in Northern Virginia, living with relatives again, looking for a job, and hoping for my third win.