A-NaNo I Go-Go

I won last year’s NaNoWriMo, along with about a million other writers (give or take tens of thousands). So even after a Halloween of having a tooth capped, enduring the day at the mall (waiting for my ride home to get off work), and getting a second-degree burn on my finger that night (the result of ne’er-do-well Halloween spirits, not my own stupefying dunderheadedness), I’m back for another month of literary purging. I’ll be writing outside of my comfort zone, and torturing my protagonist in some very creepy ways. I can’t wait! Oh yeah, unlike my first seat-of-my-threadbare-pants NaNo, I even made a brief outline and wrote an even briefer synopsis* for “Mark + Dot” after reading Lazette Gifford‘s guide, NaNo for the New and Insane.

Wanna see?

Here it is anyway:

/ + .

Mark Dodd is an attractive, intelligent high school senior. He has a scholarship to Vassar. After college, he plans to travel the world as a political journalist. He knows he will make his mark on the world. His religious girlfriend Holli is a virgin, and will stay a virgin until she marries. And she won’t get married until their schooling is complete. But Mark wants just one tiny release in his lucky and privileged life before starting at Vassar.

Dorothy, also a senior, is in special education classes and has a genetic facial deformity. After years of being an outcast, she’s ready to move up in the pecking order, and demand respect from her peers. For the last two years, she’s carefully read and re-read her Feminine Health and Hygiene booklet. At the big graduation party, Mark meets Dorothy in an empty bedroom. Twenty minutes later, Mark leaves the room in shame, and Dorothy falls asleep on the floor between the wall and the bed, her legs and pelvis propped up with pillows.

Ten years later, Mr. & Mrs. Dodd are living in the same town they grew up in, go to church together, and have seven surviving children- all cognitively impaired and with facial deformities, like their mother. But all are a blessing, as confirmed by the church. But Mr. Dodd just wants a release in his blessed life. Online, he reads rumors of a planned massive political protest in Boston. He finally leaves home to make his mark on the world.

/ + .

I’m incorporating my “at least 50000 words in November” NaNo goal into my Row80, Round 4 goals. Stalk my progress here or here.

*Subject to minor revisions and major clarifications.

/ + .

Are you NaNo-ing? If so, are you new or insane?

/ + .

MidNaNo Update

At the mid-point I have 27,915 words!

And what have I learned so far?

CODPIECE

I mean, “WORD UP!

WORD UP- it’s the codpiece. I mean, it’s the code word (as the lyrics say).

So enjoy the videos, but then no more codpiece until you get those words up!*

Candy helps. Scroll down my “Survival Guide” post for a good karma candy list.

*Unless you’re a really freaky freak, and your NaNo is already past the 50,000-word mark. In that case, you have permission to watch the codpiece in a loop, if you’d like. Ya lucky freak.

/ + .

EndNaNo Update

w00t

PWN

“It’s peanut butter jelly time!”

Yes, I’m excited I won again, and did it a day early, and with an extra 495 words. I’ve no idea who first wrote the above memes. But I still like them after all these months years, and think them entirely appropriate.

50,495 words of Mark + Dot

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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 . .

*

*

*

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)!

#1 Rule on Twitter

Thanks to Scott Hampson for this great comic.

Visit Scott Hampson and see more of his great comics here!

Dear Tweeple,

I know the social media gurus tsk-tsk this, but I don’t use Twitter exactly the way they say I should. I use Twitter primarily to learn about the craft of novel-writing, and to read about topics which I find interesting. I also share information- my own and others’. Yes, I occasionally chat and have fun, but too much of that and I lose focus. I don’t follow tons of people because I’m not trying to be “cool.” I’m not trying to help others be “cool.” Until recently, I didn’t think this personal decision mattered to others.

I don’t like walking into a huge stadium full of people where everybody is talking at once. And that’s what Twitter feels like when I follow a lot of people. I know not following people who follow you is a big no-no according the The Big Book of Social Media Rules. I know I’m supposed to follow anybody and everybody who clicks on my “follow” button. But I don’t. I use Twitter because it’s fun and useful. Following hundreds of people isn’t fun or useful to me.

I know I’m supposed to have at least a thousand followers, or I’m not “follow-popular.” But I’m not a “follow-popular” kind of person. Even the social media guru who told me to get on Twitter in the first place unfollowed her own advice and unfollowed me. Maybe I wasn’t uncontroversial enough. That’s A-OK. I’m not hoping the popular kids won’t make fun of me today, and I’m not wondering why I don’t get invited to any parties. I didn’t join Twitter to re-live high school. I’m an adult now. I have no interest in social posturing, and I have no interest in empty follows.

 

I’m not going to follow a ton of people only to corral them into a TweetDeck “IGNORE” group.

 

Most of the people I follow do NOT follow me back- and I’d be a little weirded out if they did. I am an aspiring fiction author, and of the people I follow, over half have nothing to do with fiction writing. They promote science blogs. I follow them because they’re saying something I find interesting and unique. Most of them don’t follow me because they’re not interested in what I’m saying, or I’m saying something they’re already reading elsewhere.

Yes, I’m trying to build a “platform.” My particular platform is “to share information about fiction with fellow writers and readers in the spirit of genuine mutual interest.” Maybe I’ll even impress a potential agent with my writing and consistency someday. I’m not interested in amassing a bunch of followers who have no interest in anything I say or do beyond getting a “follow back.” I don’t believe people who would who follow me just to get a “follow back” would have any impact my author career. I know there are people who say they have the skill and time to make every follow count, but I’m not one of those people.

I read somewhere if I don’t follow people back, I’ve snubbed them. NO. Somebody followed me. I did nothing. Doing nothing is not snubbing. I read that if I unfollow somebody it means I don’t like that person, or I am playing a numbers game. NO. When I unfollow someone I am trying to reduce the amount of NOISE in my Twitter stream. And my Twitter stream is ALL noise- dozens of people all talking about something different. My brain can’t handle a hundred conversations, one after the other.

If you want to follow me, follow me BECAUSE YOU WANT TO FOLLOW ME, not because you want me to follow you back. Follow me because I’m saying something interesting and unique, not because you want another notch in your Twitter belt. Because I don’t auto-follow back. I swear on a stack of my yet-to-be-published novels I absolutely like your online personas and I would give you the shirt off my back, but I’m at my limit. I’m doing as much as I can and still having fun at the same time.

Oh yeah- the #1 rule on Twitter is:

DON’T TAKE EVERYTHING PERSONALLY.

Love,

CM

p.s. Here’s another shitastic Twant.

Odd, Bookish, and Popular Social Networking Websites

socialmediadudes.com
socialmediadudes.com

Here’s a list of social networking websites which I personally think are either odd (in a fun, gawkish sort of way) or bookish (great for writerly types). I also threw in ones I know are popular enough (or advertised enough [<-there’s a lesson to be learned from that, I’ll figure it out later]) to warrant a mention. I’ve only used a few of these, (I won’t tell you which ones) nevertheless, I can personally guarantee that all of them are major time-sucks.

Now back to that lesson thing. Advertising. Social networking. Selling books.

Are there any writers or authors reading this? Good! I’ve figured it out and I’m sure you have too:

aNobii– Find, shelve, and share books.

aSmallWorldLa di da. This is for the European jet set and world-wide social élitists. BTW, it’s invitation only. In your face, jet set and social élite wannabes!

blauk– Anonymously let others know what you thought of that anonymous stranger. Confess your secret crush. Insult your friends and neighbors. The Jersey Shore of social networking websites, except it’s anonymous (Snooki’s ghost writer hones her writing skills here). Age 10+ only, please.

Care2– Get your green living and social activism on at this petition-heavy network. For tree-huggers and left-leaners.

classmates.com– Connect with former or current institutionalees and institutionalizers. Share your stories of institutionalization. Age 18+ only, please.

dailybooth– Obsessed with your appearance? Like to take pics of yourself? Go here.

Daily Strength– Lean on me, I’ll lean on you. Mental and physical health support community.

delicious– Discover, share, and store your favorite websites on this website.

disaboom– Disabled? Find support and friendship within an online disabled community.

facebook– Get bombarded with endless game and quiz invites, and get your personal info put on display against your will at the same time. For mental masochists. Age 13+ only, please.

flickr– Photo-hosting and networking. Age 13+ only, please.

foursquare– Make a game of location-based networking. Mobile.

früehstüeckstreff.de (frühstückstreff)- What?? Yoüe’re not on früehstüeckstreff.de (frühstückstreff)?? That früehcking süecks. Müest live in Eüerope or Aüestralia, and müest be a hüengry morning person.

G+– Share info and read info via circles (segregated groups). You can’t stop the Google. Must have a Google account. Age 13+ or 18+ only, please (you choose).

gays.com– Get your gay on. Network with other LGBTs. Review and read about the LGBT scene.

goodreads– Looking for a good book? Have a good book? Check-out here.

italki.com– Share, learn, and practice over 100 languages, including Yucatec Maya, Luxembourgish, and Esperanto!

Jaiku– Microblogging. Google-owned. You can’t stop the Google. Age 13+ only, please.

Jammer Direct– Share your art. Or bitch and moan about being an unsigned artist. Or laugh and jeer at unsigned artists bitching and moaning.

LibraryThing– Gotta thing for libraries? Gotta thing for book lists? Swoon here. Age 13+ only, please.

LinkedIn– For yawning, business networking, and yawning. Also for yawning. Did I mention yawning? Yawn. Age 18+ only, please.

Livemocha– Learn 38 languages in an interactive community.

Meetup– Plan offline hookups meetups for various kinks activities. If you live in the UK, you may get lucky and hook-up meetup with this guy. Age 18+ only, please.

Myspace– View the fake profiles created by pedos, and the kids they cyber-stalk. Try to guess which is which. Age 13+ only, please.

Ning– Make your own websites and networks here. Age 13+ only, please.

OUTeverywhere– Come OUTy, come OUTy, where every you are! LGBT

ReverbNation– Socialize with musicians, managers, and groupies. Age 16+ only, please.

ScienceStage– Multi-media science platforming and networking. Video streaming.

Scispace– For scientists, by scientists. Invitation only. But don’t despair, you may request an invitation.

ShareTheMusic– Free and legal music listening and sharing.

Shelfari– e-shelve your books here.

SocialVibe– Network for charity.

Stickam– Get your chat on while you ogle and be ogled via video streaming.

StumbleUpon– Stumble your way through interesting websites.

Tumblr– Microblog. Real time- or auto-post.

Twitter– Microblog. 40% pointless babble.

Wattpad– Authors and readers unite! Also e-book sharing.

WAYN– Plan traveling rendezvous with fellow travelers. Age 18+ only, please.

weRead– We read books and talk about books.

WiserEarth– Organization-based social and environmental justice network. Age 16+ only, please.

ZOOPPA– Artists, work for free and sell-out at the same time here. Age 14+ only, please.

Here’s a longer list.

Do you have a strong opinion of a particular social networking site?

Writing Wrongs

“Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear that is inherent in the human situation.” -Graham Greene

A traumatic event in your life will activate the visual cortex and limbic system in your brain- the areas which control emotions and the bodily manifestations of emotions. In turn, this deactivates your brain’s speech-production centers. So an image of the trauma is imprinted into your brain, and the memory of the trauma will seem to be incompatible with language. “There are no words to describe what I’ve experienced,” is a common lament of people with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. By forcing a connection between the traumatic event and language, the memory of the event is encoded differently in the brain. This language-centered encoding is often the first step to healing trauma and depression.

Writing therapy is the recording of words for the purpose of emotional healing.

Write a poem                                                            expressing your phobia 

Keep a journal                                                             about your crappy job

Start a book                                                            addressing past abuse

Try some free-association                                                            exploring anxiety

Commit to a diary                                                            to vent at the end of a day

Write a letter                                                             about a failed relationship

It doesn’t matter much what form the writing takes, or if anyone else ever sees the writing. It’s the act of writing itself that is healing. Some people prefer a free-form approach to writing therapy. Others prefer a structured approach:

“Writers can treat their mental illnesses every day.” -Kurt Vonnegut

One Novel, One Month, One Pain in the Task

Me: I have a 50,000-word novel due at the end of the month.

Sigo: What happens if you don’t get it done?

Me: That’s not gonna happen.

Sigo: But what happens if you don’t get it done?

Me: Well, that’s not gonna happen, but if it did, let’s just say the universe would end at that point. So I’ve gotta make sure that doesn’t happen.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Participants commit to starting, finishing, and submitting (for an official word count) an original novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. It doesn’t have to be a good novel, or even a properly written novel with clean spelling, punctuation, and structure. It just has to be at least 50,000 words of “novel.”

On the first of the month I put my current novel-in-the-works on the back burner and signed up as a NaNoWriMo neophyte. I hoped to use the pressure of NaNoWriMo to finally bust out of my self-editing OCD. And writing a novel in one month would be pretty incredible too.

My first couple weeks were full of procrastination, and I adapted this Three Stooges skit:

Pal: Hiya, Pal!

Me: You call me pal?  Why, I haven’t heard that word for years. You know bub, I once was a naïve author like you.

P: Oh congratulations!

M: Ah, but it wasn’t always thus; I can look back to the days of yore when I was a very happy naïve writer. Then one day, that rat came and destroyed forever the all the naïvety I’d ever known. I’ll never forget that day, I just sat down at my computer after a full day of not writing, and there was an open invitation in my inbox. 

P: What did it say?

M: Oh it was one of those cold-blooded invitations: “Dear Writer: Write a novel in one month.” I was obsessed with the idea that I could do it. The trail led me to Twitter; I found I missed starting by three days when I got there. And I swore right there on Twitter I’d do it and have my glory; now on with the chase. Wikipedia, Facebook, WordPress. And then I came face to face with the rat that had taken over my life, it was in “NANOWRIMO,” “NANOWRIMO!” Slowly I wrote, and step by step, inch by inch, I walked up to it, and I smashed it, I hit it, I bonked it, I bopped it, I mashed its face and I wrote the words down!

P: Ooh, ooh! Take it easy bud, take it easy!

M: Excuse me kid, it’s that word, “NANOWRIMO,” Every time I hear it tears me apart!

 

So what have I learned at the half-way mark? . .

1. Writing 1,667 cohesively sensible words a day is hard.

2. After not writing 1,667 words a day, writing 2,000 cohesively sensible words a day is even harder.

3. Sub-plots set in bars and night clubs are fun and easy to pound out.

4. A 50,000+ word novel written in one month is the same as a 50,000+ word cartoon written in one month, but also includes weariness-induced spelling, grammatical, continuity, and logic errors.

5. Heed T. S. Eliot’s advice.

 

And now I must NaNoWriMo . .

 

11-30-10: I’m a WINNER with 50,002 words!

0.999… = 1 ?!

stgabss.net

A few days ago I read an article about math-comprehension enhancement through electrical stimulation of the brain. I saw the word “dycalculia.” Oddly enough, I think that was the first time I had seen that word (Wiki’s “Dyscalculia” page has been heavily edited since I wrote this post, and now gives little useful info about dyscalculia. I am, however, leaving the link as I am fairly confident the information will be corrected and expanded.) even though I now know I am dyscalculic. I did some research, and now my life-long math anxiety makes sense. Dyscalculics are people across the IQ range who, regardless of traditional schooling, don’t have a solid sense of numbers or how they interact. Dyscalculics also usually have difficulty mentally fixing their own bodies in space, interpreting spacial relationships in general, and ordering events in time.

School was surrealistic for me. In grade school I was at the top of my class in reading and spelling. But I struggled with multiplication tables. I simply could not memorize them, even under the threat of a paddling in front of the class. I was always the last in my class to finish in-class math assignments. On the school bus, I would ricochet off the seat edges while walking the aisle. I learned to tell time well after the other kids, and I took remedial math classes during the summer. My piano teacher was embarrassingly kind. She every week she sat through 50 minutes of  1-minute songs that each took me about 5 minutes to play. I didn’t understand how the dots and lines and spaces on the music sheets fit the keys on the piano.

autism-help.org

In high school, I flourished with vocabulary and reading comprehension, but math was rotten. In algebra, I used the same pre-filled-out “show your work” paper for each homework assignment when the teacher walked the aisles to check our homework.  He would always pause at my desk while I sunk in my seat. But he always wordlessly moved on. I frequently forgot the order of my classes and my locker combination. Running a straight line for track practice was impossible. In chemistry, my teacher went to grandiose lengths explaining the definition of a “mole.” To this day I have no working conception of it, even after re-reading its definition. My chemistry tutor patiently re-explained how to set up and calculate chemical equations every week until we both gave up.

In college I took what was described as a basic math class. The professor spent the first couple weeks teaching matrixes without quizzing the class. I tried to mentally pound the numbers into my brain, but they would crash and smash instead. The look of utter confusion on my face was so obvious, the professor called me into his office and asked me why I wasn’t “getting it.” I didn’t have an answer, so I dropped the class and finally swore off math for good.

Now, as an adult? . . I can’t immediately recall my own telephone number without the act of writing it. I still sometimes forgot how to do basic division and still transpose numbers. The few money-handling jobs I’ve had were nightmares. I don’t drive. I don’t think I’ll ever write another check. Hotels and shopping centers spontaneously morph into mazes, and I don’t know north from a hole in the ground. Even though I have perfect vision, I still sometimes run into walls while turning corners, or trip on chair legs. Keeping score in card games is baffling. I love science- except for the math parts. I know math is the language of the universe. Math is magic. But I’m not a magician.

I used to think I was just “numbers lazy.” That if I just tried hard enough, I would “get it.” Now I am relieved to know it’s not laziness, but a physical brain difference. Dyscalculics are often strong in language, perhaps to compensate for their math deficiencies; or perhaps the same mechanism which weakens math ability strengthens language ability. I don’t “get” the language of the universe, but I revel in my own language. I think I wouldn’t change a thing.

0.999… = 1 ?!