Cocoa Truffles Recipe

If you’ve put off making your Halloween candy run, check out my list of vegan supermarket candy and cookies (and prepare yourself for the coming zombie invasion while you’re at it). But if you’re already sick of the junky sweet stuff, but still want to indulge in something yummy for Halloween, try these Chocolate Salty Balls* Cocoa Truffles. They’re chocolatey, but not overly sweet. Plus they’re easy to make and super-duper nutritious!

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Vegan, No-Bake Cocoa Truffles 

1/2 cup chopped Almonds

one 15-oz can Black Beans, drained

2/3 cup canned mashed Pumpkin

1/3 cup chopped Cranberries

1/2 cup toasted Wheat Germ

1/4 cup ground Flaxseed

1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder

8 – 12 packets Stevia-blend powder packets (8 for less sweet, 12 for more sweet)

2 tsp Vanilla extract

*optional- pinch of Sea Salt

Mix all ingredients, except almonds, by hand or in a food processor (Mixture will be too thick for a regular blender.) Blend until uniform. Roll into balls. Roll balls in almonds. Chill. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or in freezer up to 1 month.

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While you’re chilling your balls, check out my entry in my “Crypt Dwellers” flash fiction challenge– if you dare (inspired by a true story)!

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Halloween / Zombie Survival Guide

photo by David Shankbone

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you survived the REAL, FINAL APOCALYPSE as predicted by Harold Camping. (Turns out Camping isn’t much of a math person.) Now you probably think you can enjoy Halloween without the nagging worry of undead, unraptured zombies stalking and infecting you. (As for me- I knew I would survive the non-apocalypse, because I’m already one of the undead.) But before you get too comfortable, I gotta tell you zombies are real . .

For any late-comers to my blog, take a gander at my 3-part story: I got the zombie spores in me.  Then the zombie spores turned me into a zombie. Did you know zombies can re-generate limbs? Yep. Lucky for me, or I wouldn’t be typing this now. And those already familiar with the above trilogy would do well to re-familiarize yourselves, because . .

If you still think my tales are safely in the sci-fi section . .

Think again.

And with all the catastrophic climate change, nuclear radiation, pesticides, and herbicides causing mutations in the already genetically engineered spores accidentally / on purposely released into the open fields, human zombie spores are just around the corner.

STILL don’t believe me? Then believe the USA government’s official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s real. All we can do is prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the resulting mob cruelty and mass disrespect.

And console ourselves with candy.

To stock up on good karma, here’s a list of the most cow-kind, most chicken-respectful (vegan)* cookies and candy** on the USA market, alphabetized by brand:

A

Airheads Taffy

Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Thins

Anna’s Ginger Thins

B

Back to Nature California Lemon Cookies

Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Big League Chew Gum

Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy

Brach’s Orange Slices

Brach’s Root Beer Barrels

Brach’s Star Brites

Bremner Wafers

C

Charms lollipops

Chew-ets Peanut Chews (Original)

Chick-o-Sticks

Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar

Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar

Cracker Jacks

Cry Babies

D

Dem Bones

Dots

Dum Dums

E

Entenmann’s Fudge Delights Fudge & Mint Cookies

Everest Gum

F

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Oatmeal Macaroon)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Ferrara Wafer Swirls With Chocolate

Fireballs

Food Lion Animal Cookies

Food Lion Ginger Snaps

Food Lion Oatmeal Cookies

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Assorted)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Creme)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Fudge)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Double Creme-O’s)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Duplex)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Mini Chocolate & Vanilla Cremes)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Food Lion Sugar Cookies

Fruit By the Foot

G

Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Mix

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Original)

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cremes

H

Hubba Bubba Bubblegum

Hubba Bubba Gum

Hunt’s Snack Pack Gel Snacks

J

Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)

Jujubees

Jujyfruits

K

Keebler Vienna Fingers

Kool-Aid Gels

Kozy Shack Jammin’ Gels

L

Lance Choc-O Cookies

Lance Peanut Bar

Lance Sugar Wafers (Strawberry Creme)

Lance Sugar Wafers (Vanilla Creme)

Lance Van-O Lunch Cookies

Landgarten Pumpkin Seed Snack – Dark Chocolate

Lemonheads

M

Mamba

Mary Janes (Regular and Peanut Butter Kisses)

Mike and Ike

Mrs. Freshley’s Oatmeal Crème-filled Cookies

Murray Butter Cookies

Murray Cinnamon Grahams

Murray Coconut Bars

Murray Southern Kitchen Iced Oatmeal Cookies

N

Nabisco Double Delight Mint’n Creme Oreos

Nabisco Ginger Snaps

Nabisco Halloween Oreos

Nabisco Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies

Nabisco Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Cones

Nabisco Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps

Nabisco Spiced Cinnamon Cookies

Nabisco Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Cinnamon)

Nabisco Uh-oh Oreos, Spring Oreos, Chocolate Creme Oreos

Nature’s Path Deep Chocolate Cookies

Nature’s Path Ginger Spice Cookies

Nature’s Path Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints

Now and Later

Nutter Butter Bites

P

Panda Licorice

Pure De-Lite Coconut Bars

S

Safeway Fudge Mint Fudge Covered Mint Cookies

Skittles’ Mints

Smarties (U.S. version only)

SunSpire Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sour Patch Kids

Super Bubble

Swedish Fish

SweeTarts (regular)

T

Twizzlers

V

VeganSweets marshmallows

Velamints Mints

W

Whole Foods Organic Chocolate Truffles

Z

Zotz

*List complied from PETA and PETAKIDS.

**May contain trace amount of animal-sourced ingredients.

Hopefully I’ve provided you with the resources and information you need to make it through Halloween alive . . or at least undead, thanks to a sugar OD . .

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And here’s a creepy, campy, rockabilly bonus video for those who skimmed through to the bitter . . or rather, sugary end.

Have a Happy Halloween (while you can)!

Crypt Dwellers- a Flash Fiction Challenge

I can sense it . . can you?

The cool night air stealing ghostly breath . .

The rustling leaves.

Grasping branches.

Moonlight and shadow obscure truth . . and reveal it.

We are led to a dark, secret place . .

 . . of awful anticipation.

Dread.

Your challenge is to write a flash fiction story based on- or inspired by- the above photo. Word count range 100 – 1000. Genre- science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, or horror. Post your story in your blog and link back in the comments of this post.

Deadline- Wednesday, October 26, noon EST. In time for Halloween. MUHAHAHAHA!

I’ll post my own flash fiction story here before the deadline, and link back in my post on the 26st.

Okay my brave little darlings- start writing, if you dare!

—–

Here’s my tale:

Crypt Dwellers

“Hello? Anybody here?”

“Come in. We’ve been waiting for you.”

“Ah… you sure it’s safe? I heard this building was condemned.”

“Don’t be afraid. This is our home. We welcome you.”

“Sure… I’ll see if I can just squeeze through here. I brought my camera, I hope that’s okay. I can barely see you. Kinda spooky following goth girls into a boarded-up nightclub. But it’s Halloween night, so I guess I have no choice, ha ha. My name is Rod E. St. Garrie, by the way. The ‘E’ stands for ‘Entranced.’ “

“Not for long.”

“Huh? Funny, I still don’t know how you got inside my head. But I heard you talkin’ to me every day last week, dozens of times, just like you’re talkin’ to me now. What was that, some kind of remote hypnotism? You know, I’ve been readin’ about that psychic stuff, that’s why I didn’t freak out when I started hearin’ your voices. I heard you talk about your sexy lil’ outfits, tellin’ me you’re at the club on the corner of Ferry Street. And you girls sounded so… friendly. That helped put me at ease. Hey uh… you girls are friendly, right? Ha ha. I’m kiddin’. You know, I was hopin’ I’d get some good low-light photos for my folio. We could do a ‘test for prints.’ You girls need model pics? This sure is a big place you’ve got here. My flashlight’s about to die. Hey girls? You still here?”

“Turn around.”

“Holy crap! Gargoyles, dragons, giant spiderwebs. You girls did this all by yourselves? You said this is your house, right? The ‘E’ stand for ‘excited.’ “

“Not for long.”

“Huh? Well, at least I can see you better now. So where’s the light comin’ from? Everything’s all glowy. Mind if I take some pics? And you girls are hot, by the way, hope you don’t mind me sayin’. I can see why you’re models. You girls are models, right? Show me what ya got.”

“Take the pictures, and follow us.”

“Oh wow. That’s sexy. Uh, wow. You girls are really… uninhibited. Oh yeah, that’s a great shot on the bar. Damn. Somebody forgot their panties. Jesus H. Christ. You can dance. This is great. Awesome. You want me to follow you through there? Whoa. Lil’ Miss No-Panties leads the way, I follow. Let me just get a shot of that. Perfect. Tight squeeze in here. Glad I’m not claustrophobic, ha ha. Ah… a secret room? Is this where things really get crazy? You know, I wouldn’t mind takin’ a quick break and joinin’ the fun, if ya know what I mean. Say, are those skulls in the wall? Looks realistic. You girls are quite the decorators. And watching you dance like that, all sexy and seductive… gotta be honest, the ‘E’ stand for-“

“The ‘E’ stands for ‘entombed.’ “

“Huh?”

_____

 

EVERETT, Mass. (AP) – Another bloody camera was found outside “The Crypt,” an abandoned night club in downtown Everett, Massachusetts. The camera, a high-end professional type, was discovered early Tuesday morning. It was covered with what was later identified as “a blood and bleach mixture,” according to Medical Examiner Susan Slater. Since 2007, six professional-grade cameras have been found on the sidewalk outside the nailed-up doors of the club, each one covered in the same gruesome substance. No one has been able to provide specific identifying information to claim any of the cameras.

Like the other cameras, the latest one had a full memory card of grainy black and white photos of what appear to be four female models in typical night club attire. These specific models appear in each of the six cameras’ memory cards. Some Everett locals say they recognize the interior of the nightclub in the background of the photos. The models are pictured dancing on the club’s bar and crawling through the various mazes and tunnels built under the club. As with the other found cameras, the last photo recorded on the memory card was of the models posing in front of a wall of embedded skulls. Jeffery and Alex Castillo, the former architects and owners of The Crypt, have publically stated they do not recognize the models in the photos, and deny they had constructed a “wall of skulls” in the club.

The Crypt was once a hugely popular hangout for “goth” enthusiasts, and drew patrons from all over Massachusetts. In 2006 the club was closed and condemned after a tragic cave-in of the interior walls on Halloween night. The unexplained collapse entombed an estimated 355 patrons inside a labyrinth of underground tunnels. City zoning officials have since declared that excavating the scene would jeopardize the structural integrity of Everett’s water and sewer systems.

 

Festival of Colour (version 2)- a Flash Dialogue

Thanks to Ozlem Yikici for this creativity exercise!

“A small quiet village approx 200 miles from the nearest city adorned with thatched cottages and surrounded by vast empty fields. Not much happens here, except for their festival – the festival of colour, this happens once a year; tourists and families from afar visit, no one misses this event. This is the highlight of the year for the villagers; they prepare for this the whole year.”

-Ozlem Yikici

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“Festival of Colour” characters created by Cynthia E.

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“Festival of Colour” Dialogue Prompts

“No children live in the village. A child hides in a barn and stays after the festivities. Your character(s) interacts with the child. The child has a secret. Add a surprise of your own -in keeping with your character(s) profile.”

-Ozlem Yikici

* * * * *

Festival of Colour: Quarterstick

by CMStewart

“I see ya. No use hidin’ any more. So come on down, ya snot-nose.”

“Yes, sir.”

Punk-ass kids in a kid-free village. I have to put up with this nonsense every year. Damn Festival of Colour! It’s just an excuse for the city folk to let their brats trash our village. And I hafta clean it up afterwards!”

“Yes, sir.”

“So where’s the rest of yer gang? Holed up in the stable, or did the yeller-bellies leave ya behind?”

“No sir, just me.”

“Ya really think I couldn’t see ya up there in the loft? Yer red, white, an’ blue getup is like a firecracker in the hay.”

“I wanted you to see me, Ted. That’s why I stuck the tip of my shoe out.”

“How do ya know my name? If you’ve been rifling’ through my trailer, I’ll wring yer neck, ya good-fer-nothin’-”

“My name is Kate. I wasn’t in your trailer, I promise.”

“Don’t matter, Kate. Yer comin’ with me to the constable. Now gimme yer hand, an’ don’t even think about tryin’ to run- hey come back here, ya snot!”

“I’m going to your trailer now. You need to cool off your temper. Don’t tell anybody I’m here, or I’ll they them how you got that limp.”

“What the hell ya talkin’ about? I oughta-”

“And I promise I don’t have any firecrackers. My daddy told me they’re too dangerous for kids. He told me so I wouldn’t play with them like he did when he was a boy. Oh yeah- he also says he’s sorry.”

“Uh, sorry?”

“Yeah, he told me to tell you that. He said you were right about him, and that’s why he had to leave me here. My daddy is going away for a long time. He never stopped playing with firecrackers.”

* * * * *

Festival of Colour (version 1)- a Flash Dialogue

 

photo used w/ permission from ShahMai Network http://www.shahmai.org/

Thanks to Ozlem Yikici for this creativity exercise!

“A small quiet village approx 200 miles from the nearest city adorned with thatched cottages and surrounded by vast empty fields. Not much happens here, except for their festival – the festival of colour, this happens once a year; tourists and families from afar visit, no one misses this event. This is the highlight of the year for the villagers; they prepare for this the whole year.”

-Ozlem Yikici

* * * * *

“Festival of Colour” Characters (created by CMStewart)

Name: Mikael

Home: rural
village of Mantojärvi, Finland

Gender: male

Age: 23

Education:
rudimentary education, church-schooled until age 13

Occupation:
farmer and church deacon

Religion: devout
Finnish Neopagan

Relationships:
newlywed, no children

Notable
abilities / disabilities: none

Status:
respected by fellow villagers, in charge of yearly “Festival of Colour”

Personality:
devout, hard-working, obedient, traditional, superstitious

 *

Name: Niko

Home: rural
village of Mantojärvi, Finland

Gender: male

Age: 20

Education:
parochial-schooled until age 18

Occupation:
jack-of-all-trades

Religion: Finnish
Neopagan

Relationships:
single, no children

Notable
abilities / disabilities: none

Status:
well-liked by fellow villagers

Personality:
enthusiastic, inquisitive, cheerful, gossipy, a helper

 *

Name: “boy

Home: orphanage in Utsjoki, Finland (runaway to Mantojärvi)

Gender: male

Age: 7

Education: minimal home-schooling

Occupation: to find his family

Religion: none

Relationships: orphaned, father
dead, mother relocated

Notable
abilities / disabilities: excellent survival instincts / illiterate

Status:
orphan, runaway

Personality: suspicious, fearful,
loyal, distant, secretive

 *

—–

Character mentioned in dialogue, but
not present in scene-

Name: Sisko

Home: Mantojärvi, Finland (formerly from Utsjoki)

Gender: female

Age: 20

Education: minimal home-schooling

Occupation: housewife

Religion: none

Relationships: newlywed, 5 now-orphaned
children from previous relationship

Notable
abilities / disabilities: mentally disabled, illiterate, mute

Status:
foreigner from another village, chosen by god

Personality: complacent,
hard-working, agreeable, distant, silent

*

“Festival of Colour” Dialogue Prompts

“No children live in the village. A child hides in a barn and stays after the festivities. Your character(s) interacts with the child. The child has a secret. Add a surprise of your own -in keeping with your character(s) profile.”

-Ozlem Yikici

 * * * * *

Festival of Colour- Handfasting

by CMStewart

“Blessings Mikael, you’ve surely pleased Ukko- a fine hand-fasting at the grandest Festival of Colour yet! I hope our village has a turn of luck next year- Ukko be willing.”

“Thanks, Niko. ‘Twas me duty. Ordered by Mantojärvi’s church elders.”

“You think this’ll break the curse?”

“Yea. Curse has no chance ’gainst Ukko. An’ Sisko’s a fine lady ta boot. Birthed five babies by age o’ sixteen ‘fore her husband died. They all lived in a hill cave. No neighbors. An’ now that her young-uns are in Utsjoki’s orphanage, ‘tis Ukko’s will Sisko start anew in Mantojärvi. Elders’ tea leaves an’ rabbit offal said so.”

“Aye. You say her young-uns are in Utsjoki?”

“Yea. She’s a touch feeble-minded. Mute ta boot. Couldn’t care for ‘em alone. An’ I heard a rumor her pa laid with her, then shot hisself. So men folk in Utsjoki weren’t lined up for her hand when she widowed. But she’s got no kin folk, so I say a touch feeble-minded don’ make much diff’rence ta me. She’s a helluva cook. I’ll make her heavy with child by year’s turn. By next festival, our village will have its first baby in a dozen years.

“She cooked the hand-fasting feast, did she?

“Ev’ry last bit.”

“Aye, mighty fine woman, Mikael. And I thank you for helping me put my barn right. The crowd nearly filled it to the loft this year. Ah- what’s this? Look, a boy in the loft! Must’ve been left behind. Hey boy! What’s your name? Boy? I’m speaking to you, boy!”

“Ah shush, Niko, he’s just a young-un. An’ ya know, he looks just like Sisko! Could be he’s one-a Sisko’s young ‘uns. Could be mute like her, ta boot. Can ya speak boy?”

“Sisko.”

“Aye! Yer Sisko’s boy?”

“Veli.”

* * * * *


Round of More Edits, 80 Days

I’m back on the editing train via Round 4 of ROW80! I’ve decided I like balance in my writing and reading activities. So I’ve honed my goals accordingly. I’m primarily a writer, and my WIP, after many moons of battiness, is finally starting to look respectable. (The key word here is “starting.”) So amping the editing sounds reasonable to me. And of course, every writer is a reader, and I love to read both fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes I read one to the exclusion of another. So I’ll be striking a balance in my reading material.

My goals from October 3 – October 31, and from December 1 – December 22:

1. two hours of editing five times per week

2. one hour of nonfiction reading (internet surfing doesn’t count) five times per week

3. one hour of fiction reading five times per week

4. two French lessons five times per week

My goal for November: at least 50000 words for NaNoWriMo!

Now it’s time to shoo the bats* out of my WIP:

*Disclaimer: No bats will be stressed during the duration of this challenge. I may even leave a few bats in my manuscript- for balance. Aren’t they adorable?

CHECK-INS:

10-05  After spending the last 2 days getting to and from 2 dentist appointments, I need to catch-up on my editing and French. But at least I have another (temporary) crown. I get my permanent crown on Halloween. I’m feeling quite royal. Other than that, I’m ahead in the fiction /non-fiction reading balance, reading Stephen King’s “Full Dark, No Stars,” and James Scott Bell’s “The Art of War for Writers.” I should be completely up to speed for my weekly goals by the next check-in.

10-09  I’m up to speed with my editing and French. Editing- I’m fixing odd punctuation and syntax which popped up after using “find / replace” for a number of words. French- I’m doing fairly well with vocabulary. Still planning about audio supplementation. Ahead on my Full Dark book, King has a way of tapping into gut emotion. Steady on my War for Writers book, I find the interaction particularly useful.

10-12  Allergy season is in full swing. Thus, my allergies are in full swing. The good news is my symptoms this fall aren’t as bad as my symptoms last fall. So far. So maybe the shots are working. But it’s still a struggle, and Zyrtec makes me foggy and exhausted. Ha. Just like my allergies. I always breathe a sigh of relief with the first hard frost. Playing a bit of catch-up, but plowing forward. I expanded my “search and replace” mission in my WIP. Took a break from my War for Writers book to read non-fiction by K.M. Weiland. I’m in my last story in my Full Dark book. And French is foggy. I blame my allergies. Seems convenient enough. Nighty-night.

10-16  I’ve had a rough last few days with my endo, and my hubby has a bad cold. I expect I’ll have his symptoms in a day or so. I’ve been struggling with French, as it’s hard to concentrate with the pain. I might have even skipped a couple days, I don’t remember. My dry-erase board says I skipped, so I’ll go with that. But I’m actually ahead on editing- my character’s voices are now clearly distinct. And I’m ahead on fiction reading- I finished Stephen King’s “Full Dark, No Stars.” I think I’m holding steady with my agent research; I forgot to keep track my of agency book reading time this weekend. Overall, a rough first 2 weeks of Round 4, but I’m still more or less on track.

10-19  Predictably, I caught the cold my hubby brought home from the airport. The last 2 days have been very Sneezy, Sleepy and Dopey. Snotty and Achy even. No Doc. But I’m still managing to flail away at my goals, somewhat. I finally figured out I need to re-number my chapters. This will help me flesh out some skeletal scenes later. Reading “NaNo for the New and Insane” by Lazette Gifford, in preparation for next month’s NaNo (I’m “insane,” as this will be my second NaNo). Trying to read “Crimes in Southern Indiana” by Frank Bill. Not my usual genre. Will try again. Other than that, I’m reading some flash fiction on the Flash Fiction Friday website. I discovered “Coffee Break French” in the iTunes store and am doing 2 of those lessons per day, instead of my usual Rosetta, for a chance of pace. I’m still about a day behind in my goals, but I think I’ll feel better tomorrow.

10-23  I spent the weekend carving Jack-o-lanterns and visiting my in-laws to celebrate my MIL’s B-Day early (it’s on Halloween). But I’m still slowly catching up with my goals. I did another search / replace for more words in my WIP. Still reading the NaNo guide, good stuff. I feel confident in my rough NaNo outline, even though I haven’t actually typed it out yet. (Note to self- actually type out rough NaNo outline.) I decided to plow ahead with my violent Crimes book. The writing style is a bit jarring, but I know that’s to fit the subject. Loads of violence- that’s the genre. Lots of guns and blood. Did I mention how violent it is? Coffee Break French is getting more complicated, but I’m taking notes on all the lessons.

10-26  The week before Halloween is always busy for me. I have several Halloween-themed projects, including cooking and party planning. Not to mention the Jack-o-lantern carvings and pumpkin pulp frapping. So while I’m treading water, I still have a slight schedule backlog. But my regular ROW80 goals will be put on hold during NaNo, and I’ll be using the first week of NaNo to eliminate the backlog, as well as write 1667 NaNo words per day. So . . I’m still picking through my WIP, and finding picky words. But I promise I’m not being overly picky. I’m alternating between my NaNo guide and my literary agents book. I hope to finish reading my Crime book before Halloween. French continues to increase in perplexing complexity. The feminine and masculine word forms are wacky. (But what did I expect?) With one week until NaNo, I’m happy with my ROW80 progress, and confident I’ll complete my goals.

10-30  Holding steady on my fiction and non-fiction reading balance, and I even made a sizeable dent in my editing. I’m giving Coffee Break French a break, and picking up Rosetta French again. I’m also thinking about spending some time on Google translator to decipher my . . “French” notes. Tomorrow, after my crowning, I’ll dive back into my War for Writers book. I’ll also start reading “Light on Snow,” by Anita Shreve (a MIL book). We’ll see how that goes. Oh yeah, tomorrow’s Halloween. I’ll be “Somebody with Another Crown,” and that “character” will be permanently integrated into my persona . . at least until the Singularity. Happy Halloween . .

11-2  On the second day of NaNo I check-in with 3729 words so far! Hooray!

11-6  I have 10917 words to date. A nice start to my story. But things are about to get really creepy (in mood, not speed).

11-9  Very pleased with the unfolding of my story so far! Having an outline absolutely helps. 15,970 words and counting.

11-13  My protag is cracking under the pressure, and my antag is moving in for the win. Ramped it up with 23,702 words.

11-16  I wrote a “protag breaks down” scene, and for the first time, I actually felt a twinge of distress for one of my protags. Quickly followed by obligatory glee. 29,932 words, baby!

11-20  My protag and antag are about to marry- each other. (My protag’s mind is cracking.) 37,996 words written before the nuptials.

11-23  Going easier on the word count for the week of Thanksgiving, but still writing every day. 41,185 words of domestic despair. Oh yeah- Happy Thanksgiving!

11-27  In the home stretch, and my protag is about to see a faint, flickering light at the end of his long, dark tunnel. Or what he perceives as light. HARDY-HAR-HAR! 47,224 words of marital mind-mashing.

11-30  50,495 words for another NaNo win, baby!

12-04  I’m back in the regular grind of ROW80. During NaNo, I managed to play a bit of catch-up with my regular goals. By the end of this month, my WIP will be ready for its beta-read début. In the meantime, I’m reading Carolyn Kaufman’s “The Writer’s Guide to Psychology.” A good reference for non-professionals who nevertheless think they know it all. Also reading Anne Brontë’s “Agnes Grey.” And I thought my babysitting charges were demons. Holy crap. Picking up where I left off in Coffee Break French. I might have to actually teleport myself to France. Will decide later.

12-07  Steadily editing, and loving the process again. NaNo was a good break. Still reading my psychology book and the book about governing hellions. Though I’m starting to pick out the obviously fictional parts, I do sympathize with Grey / Brontë. Ah, the memories . . Doing numbers onze to mille in Coffee Break French, and after a happenstance “onze mille” googling, wondering if  l’enseignant is a Guillaume Apollinaire fan.

12-11  I might finally be done with my word-substitution in my WIP (again). Still need to flesh out some descriptions, though. I finished “Agnes Grey.” I highly recommend this story to anybody who’s ever taught or babysat children, especially demon seed children. Toward the end, Brontë departs entirely from what happened in her actual life and writes a fairytale ending. I don’t blame her, but I would’ve found a continuation of the realism more satisfying. Next I’ll tap into my ebook fiction backlog. Plowing through my psychology book- lots of “what real therapists / patients do” examples. Taking a break from Coffee Break French and diving back into my Rosetta French. I like to mix it up.

12-14  Fleshing out some previously sparse scenes in my WIP. I expect it to be finished by next month, and ready to be shredded again constructively criticized by my first beta reader. Reading some great, thought-provoking fiction by C. S. McClellan. Also reading some great non-fiction by my favorite Senator from Minnesota, Stuart Smalley Al Franken. French is at an ebb. Still pounding away at the lessons, though. The pounding just hasn’t reached my brain yet.

12-18  I’m looking over some character questionnaires I filled out a while back and finding some fortunate revelations. My WIP will benefit- now I just have to weave the benefits into my novel. I finished reading McClellan’s story. I was disturbed by it, from start to finish. Actually felt a bit queasy. 5 stars, and looking forward to reading more of McClellan’s stories. Enjoying Franken, though some parts of the book are confoundingly political. But then again, it’s supposed to be *political* satire. French pronunciation is coming easier- I’m not tripping over the words as much as I used too. There’s hope for me yet!

12-22  I’ll be doing my final ROW80 edits, readings, and French lessons tonight, and am happy to report MY ROW80 GOALS = MET! My writing goals for the new year are still in the “simmer and stew” stage. In the next couple months I will be re-evaluating my goals as a career writer, getting feedback on my WIP, and moving onto the next stage (not sure what that will be yet) in my development as a writer. ROW80 was a great learning experience and I am grateful and honored to have been a part of it. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me this past year, I really appreciated every comment. I did my best to visit and reciprocate with comments on other participants’ blogs- sometimes my comments showed up, sometimes they didn’t. Apparently my comments are delicious to SPAM filters. (Check your SPAM filters.) Best of luck to those who will be continuing ROW80 in 2012. Happy New Year and happy writing!