Thursday, December 31

500 Word Challenge

500words-200wSince posting, I haven't been consistent with this lovely challenge so I'm taking the badge down. Wah!

When I reach my goal next week I'll put it back on. Yay!

Hope everyone has a safe last day of 2009 and see you next year.

Saturday, December 19

At the park

I haven't been on here but finals are almost through and then like the picture shows I'll be free!!!

Tuesday, December 8

500 Words a Day Challenge: ONE

December is here and I'm trying to keep the NaNo momentum going.  Starting today I'm going to give the 500 words a day challenge a go.  See the pretty new badge?

This challenge from Inky Girl is very straightforward you need to write 500 words daily, six days a week to do it.

I'm looking forward to working more on my NaNo novel but even more excited to get back to a few children's book series that I've had on the back burner.

Have you tried this
challenge or a similar one?  What was it like?

Saturday, December 5

Changing my Theme...

Hello! I'm finally updating the theme. Unfortunately, what looked good on my fake site doesn't really look so hot in reality.

If you are viewing this in IE you probably won't be able to see my linkbar. Sorry, I will be fixing it soon.

I'm running out to watch a mind numbing movie and destress before I come back ;) -C

Tuesday, December 1

NaNo Wrap-Up

30 days and over 34,000 words later and Nanowrimo is over.  Not exactly the 50,000 goal but 17,447 shy of it.  Technically, I'm not a winner but with a busy schedule and unexpected happenings which always seemed to pop up during my writing time I'm pumped that I completed even 65%!

Will I do it again?

Yes. I've learned much about myself and my writing habits.  I tend to use the same words over and over again.  I'm better with dialogue than with descriptions.  I didn't research nearly enough and my characters were not as solid as I thought they were.


What would I do differently?

More Research! 

If I do the same genre I'll have much already done but even if it isn't I'll know what basics to start with.  

Geography, History, Language, Food, Customs, Clothing, Transportation, etc :)

Character Development. 

Instead of just filling out a questionnaire I'll spend more time visualizing the characters and imagining how they would react to situations.

Scheduled Time to Write.

- Go to Write-Ins.  That way I'm not home to get distracted by anything and everything.

- Do more Word Wars.  

- Warn people to stay away from me.

- Cut back on superfluous activities.  I did cut back on TV & Movies but... distractions can be so much fun!

Would you do it again and if so would you change anything?  Share below!


Tuesday, November 24

Behind but still going

I've been plugging along this month. My blogs have suffered, my camera ruined and my family, well they just laugh and roll their eyes.  'Oh another thing to do instead of your homework', their eyes tell me.  It would be all worth it (except for my camera being ruined but I'm manfully* holding back tears) if I can make my goal or even better smash through the 50,000 word count and beyond.

Sadly, unless I write 5,000 words a day for the rest of the month I won't see confetti, hear the cheering, have my characters breath a sigh of relief.

Are you nearing your goal?  I've seen so many hit their goal early and kept going.  I'm cheering for you and confetti throwing even if my characters are sighing wistfully.  I find it really inspiring to see others, many with much tighter schedules than mine really put their all into this challenge and win.

That is one thing that keeps me going when I'd otherwise put my notebook (yes, I'm still doing it mostly by hand-about 15,000 of the 20,000 so far) under my bed, in the closet or an empty vase.  Another one is the characters themselves.  They really want their story told even if it is full of errors, cliche's, improbable plot twists and larges gaps that only more research can fill.

If I don't make it to 50,000 I won't have a pity party but be proud at how far I've come... I'm beginning to sound like a Hallmark card aren't I?

So if you are down to the wire or way below it like me, don't give up but "just keep writing, writing, writing"...

*just in case I confused you, I am not a man.

Thursday, November 12

Word Count: Hit 10,000 on NaNoWriMo


err...not quite

I hit 10,874 last night.  Woo-hoo.

I may be very behind but not panicking yet!  Translation:  Delusional.

I still have more from my notebook to add to that and next week will be able to spend more time on nano exclusively.

How are you doing?

Sunday, November 8

Nano: Week One

I wrote a lovely post on my week and what I learned... it got erased.  Err.
So this will be my lesson for the week:  

Backup your story.  Back it up, back it up.

I'm fortuate that it wasn't my story and was a small post.  Otherwise I'd be very upset right now.  Okay here is my weekly NaNoWrimo review.

After 7 days I am behind schedule but not devastatingly.  I wrote every night at work and had a good start.  There were a few hiccups, I got real ones too, but I'm finishing the week with a smile on my face.

If I get stressed I'm looking at my fellow nanoers as inspiration.  Some hit the 50,000 mark on day three!  So if I get down to only a few days to go I'll ask myself what they would do.  Then I'd lock myself in my room and ignore the telephone.  Oh wait, I already do that!

I'm writing in a notebook at work and then recopying it into yWriter when I get home.  I'm noticing two things; I'm doing a teeny tiny but of self-editing and I'm using time when I could be writing NEW words. 

Things I learned from this week
  • My characters are doing what they want and I'm learning more about them
  • I'm getting more familiar with yWriter
  • I like getting nano gifts (a Wonder Woman notebook-sweet)
Things I'll do differently next week
  • I'll copy my notebook notes over once a week and spend the rest of the time on new words
  • Participate in Word Wars.  With friends & maybe on Twitter
  • Set aside time for research or fact finding.
What about you?  How are you surviving Nano?  Was there something you disliked/liked about the first week and are you planning on changing any strategy next week?

Saturday, October 31

Cream Puffs & NaNoWriMo

Less than 12 hours to go and NaNoWriMo is looming on the horizon. While my sister prepares a feast I prepare to lose my mind.

This past week I've been sick, fighting with a blogger theme and trying to stay on top of my schoolwork. Do I feel ready for tonight? Not really, but there is no holding back time and I'm ready to embark on another adventure.

Oh yeah, my last adventure was trying to change a flat tire in Lynn Woods.

My biggest challenge of the moment is to find a way to smuggle a cream puff with no one the wiser.

Tuesday, October 20

Updating Theme

Just a quick FYI. Don't be alarmed if this site looks different over the coming weeks. This was just a temporary template to get me going and am planning on having the site updated before November 1st.

I won't be able to fiddle around with widgets, hacks or color schemes while trying to write a novel!

NaNoWriMo Participants from Problogger Community

There are so many ways to make lists of insane people enthusiastic nanowrimo participants.  Writing Sya’s list from NaNoWriMo forums, InkyGirl's list of nano buddies, and Absolute Write's nano user names thread are just a few examples.

Since joining the Problogger Community I've been reading a host of new blogs and was excited to see a few who have done the contest in the past or are planning to do it next month. Links are to posts tagged nanowrimo and their nano profiles when available. 

Are you part of the Problogger Community and NaNoWriMo?  Drop your links in the comments and I'll add you.         

Signed up for 2009:

Future Conscience 

Marelisa Fábrega

Tracy O'Connor on NaNo

Santacruz on NaNo

Benjamin Solah

Zombie Skittles on NaNo

Oh, and me :)

Have you made a nano list?  Share it below.

Tuesday, October 13

Barnes and Noble Where are the Writing Books?

909BookI stood in front of the two cases devoted to writing and punctuation at my local Barnes and Noble befuddled and torn.

Let’s digest that for a moment, two cases on how to write in a book store?  There was more space allocated to calendars, gifts, and even toys.  I think my first job as a library page spoiled me and led me to have higher expectations from book stores, especially the huge monster ones. 

Even so, Barnes and Noble did have one case on guides, personal experiences and specialized per genre.   The other case was mainly filled by dictionaries in a assortment of sizes.  There were so many titles that I walked out empty handed not sure which I should get first.  I did take a few pictures to remind myself of a few that peeked my interest. 
Page after Page by Heather Sellers
The Oxford: Essential Guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane
The Little Red Writing Book by Brandon Royal
Have you ever read any of the above?  Would you recommend it to your easily confused mother or dog?  Or is there a book you feel that every storyteller should have?
I hope I don’t sound whiny, because I had a grand time browsing the shop and reading the end of more than one book.  I was especially excited to see stories like Amelia Bedila in the bargain books.  I love my bargains!

Tuesday, October 6

Resourceful Writing Books That I Own

My bookshelf sways and groans under the weight of a vast assortment of books.  Now that NaNoWriMo is less than a month away it is time for me to dust off my writing shelf.  I’m always looking for new books, most of which end up on my Amazon Wish list for a ridiculous amount of time.  Here are a few that I own.

Eat, Shoots, & LeavesThe Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
I bought this just last week when I stumbled upon Derby Street Books in Salem, Ma.  Hopefully it will help my sentence structure.
The Everything Creative Writing Book
by Carol Whiteley

Picked this one up on vacation at my favorite used book store.  I read about screenwriting on the plane trip home but don’t think that is what I’ll be referring to right now.
Guide to Fiction Writing
by Phyliss Whitney
Prolific author’s approach to novel writing.

Some old, some new.  I still have my first dictionary that my best friend growing up gave me.  I probably still need to look up words in it too.

My brain jumps to certain words repeatedly and a thesaurus helps me to change it up.

What books do you have on hand?  Is there a particular book that you go back to time and again?  I have a feeling I’m going to need another bookcase.

Friday, October 2

NaNoWriMo New Site Open

Have you signed up for NaNoWriMo? Still plenty of time, check out the reopened site and sign up.  Do you live in the Boston area?  The regional group is planning on weekly write-ins on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Here are two more sites for you to browse over the weekend:

Inkygirl: Looking for inspiration, motivation, relaxation?  Enjoy her comics.  She has NaNoWriMo themed ones as well as writing in general.

Paperback Writer: I talked about her outlining earlier now check out her NaNoWriMo tips, past and present.

Have a great weekend and start stretching your fingers!

Tuesday, September 29


Some people like them, others don’t.  Do you have a preference?

Outlines can be simple to intricately detailed, they can be guidelines or rigid maps of point A to B.  Any way you look at them they are a resource  which means they are not necessary to drafting your story.

Why would you use one?

If you’re like me, when I first thinking about a story, the process is like a fire.  A fire that blazes brightly and if I don’t feed it peters out quickly.  In fact this will be the first project I attempt to complete (apart from short children stories) and knowing myself, I need something to push me along when I could easily get bogged down in an exciting scene or researching a historical tidbit.

Why wouldn’t you use one?

Many authors with loads of experience write as they create.  I love this idea but for now don’t have enough discipline to stick to one story but would be all over the place.  Some feel that when writing a mystery, they don’t want to lay it all out on the table, even to themselves but to discover along the way.
There is no right or wrong.  You may start with an outline and chuck it or get halfway through your draft and need to whip up a quick outline to keep you focused.  Whether you use one or not isn’t the issue, but using your tools wisely will help you to craft a story  that even you would read.

Here are a few Outline resources scattered about the web.

Working with Outlines

Developing an Outline:  This has become one of my most visited sites since starting school.  It’s chockfull of helpful articles.

Outlining (at the risk of being dry) :  Author talks about his use of them

How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method:  An in depth look on getting you started using the Snowflake

Outlining 101:  From Paperback Writer which I’ll talk more about later.  Also, check her other posts labeled outlining.

Are you Afraid of Outlines?  Three part series from Write a Better Novel
Part 1 (features example of John Grisham’s choice)
Part 2 (The Three Rivers Method)
Part 3 (Sing “I Did it My Way”)

I’ll be adding more links here.  Do you have a favorite way to outline?  Or do you prefer not to at all?  Share your opinions here!

Tuesday, September 22

Grammar Tips: Blogs

My first goal is to string along sentences in some semblance of coherency.

If you have surpassed me in this department, which is highly likely, here are a few blog posts that offer some grammar tips.

Posts for your perusal.
The Inigo Montoya Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words: Copyblogger

40+ Tips to Improve your Grammar & Punctuation: Dumb Little Man

Blogs to browse.
The Grammar Phobia Blog

Grammar Blog

Motivated Grammar

How do you feel about alliteration? ;)

Saturday, September 12

School's Started and My Brain has Stalled

Naively, I didn't expect classes to start so intense or to eat up most of my time. Not that I am complaining, I'm really excited about learning a new trade, but I haven't been able to work on my blogs very much.

My posting schedule will remain the same, it's just time for me to be more efficient.

While I recharge my battery brain, take a look at NaNoWriMo's Blog.
I think I'll go out in the yard and nap in the sun, I mean write.

Do you have any large projects in November? Other than NaNoWriMo naturally.

Friday, September 4

Review: yWriter

Getting ready to crank out 50,000 can be daunting.  Doubts aside, I want to be as organized as possible going into November so when time-consuming occurrences happen, which they invariably do, I'll have a head start.  If you knew me in real life then you'd already know that organization and I have a love hate relationship.  Okay, so we're in counseling but I'm trying.
Speaking of trying, I'm giving yWriter a spin.  I'll add a list of useful software many like to use later but for now I wanted to tell you what I've thought of yWriter so far.

yWriter5 was easy to download.  I got it right from Simon Haynes SpaceJock site.  Not only is he a writer but a programmer as well.  I almost got distracted when I saw all the goodies on his site but since I'm so organized I remembered what I went there for... eventually.  Here's a list of some of his other projects.  They range from Mp3 players to timers and more. 

Alright, back to yWriter.

Easy to download
Wizard to help you get first project setup
Lots of tips, a pdf getting started guide and more
Keeps all scenes, outlines, character sketches even location and item descriptions all together
My favorite is the daily word worksheet to help you hit your goal
Free (although donations are accepted)

On a computer (for those who use more than one you can run this on a flash drive)
Deciding on what story to work on first

Want to see what is looks like? 
Bear with me as I try out Vistas snipping tool.  Use the Project Wizard Help to get started.  You can find it under the Project tab.
Plus, look under the Help tab for more resources and tips. 
The pdf and link to SpaceJock's article page are just two examples.
Since I've just started using yWriter does anyone have any positive or negative experiences with it?  So far it's exceeded my expectations and now have one less excuse to be able to complete NaNoWriMo this year.

Tuesday, September 1


As I begin to delve into research for my NaNoWriMo project I find doubts quietly creeping up.
  • Will I have enough time to write?
  • Will I be able to craft a story or will it be just a jumble or words?
  • Why did I have to pick a romance, can I really right a conceivable love story? 
These and many other nervous self-doubts are normal right? So what if I don't write a breakthrough story,no one else has to read it unless I want them too. I'm not doing this for any other reason but that I love meeting new characters and telling their tales. As long as I focus on that, I think I'll be okay.

I don't sound very convincing do I!
What about you? Are you nervous about making the deadline? I noticed on the forums a few days ago a list of links to similar challenges that take place throughout the year and while I don't want to use it as an excuse at least I know I can always try again in January.

Friday, August 28


When I first read Phyllis Whitney’s “Guide to Fiction Writing “ I really honed in on her tips for outlining and setting up a folder.  Both tips helped me immensely and I really like the idea spending extra time on character development.
Later, I got a better grasp on my characters when I took an online writing class from Writer’s Village.  I’m still a beginner and will be adding other online resources here for character development.  If you any favorite sites or books that you’ve found useful then don’t hesitate to share them here.

Hover over links to see where they’re from!

I found this page on Charlotte Dillon’s site chock-full of Character building resources.  Keep in mind that it doesn’t look like it’s been updated since 2000 so many of the links are broken.  What is there is worth the look.
Naming Your Characters
Ever get stumped on naming your main character or all those secondary ones?  I do.  I used to use a fictional character name book for idea.  Baby name books are good too.  Here are a few sites where you can get some great ideas. 
Behind the Name:  Gave myself giggles on this name generator; which has options for rappers, hillbillies, and transformers too. 
“Bubba-bob Chickenplanter” was the hillbilly name I got.  Needs a bit of work don’t you think!
The Name Generator:  A generator using US. Census.  I’m trying out the Google gadget right now but you can also use it on Facebook, your iPhone and more.
Regency Name Generator:  Really excited about this one.
Seventh Sanctum:  I have yet to try these name generators.  The fact that there are name makers for Taverns and Pirate Ships as well is interesting.
There are so many sites online that it’s easy to lose track of time.  In fact, I have to cut myself off now and go back to baby name books, otherwise I’ll be adding pirates to my story where they just wouldn’t fit!

Tuesday, August 25

Regency Romances: Why?

Photo Credit Obenson on FlickrLove ‘em?  Hate ‘em? 

Regency romances from the funny to melodramatic are one of the most prolific settings for historical romances.  Regencies come in all shapes and sizes; pirates, spies, country living, Russian royalty and the heady swirl of upper crust society are just a few examples of what you may encounter. 

Written during the time period they are named after and right up to today, some of the most drooled over heroes (Darcy, anyone) and memorable villains populate this genre.
I’ve been reading regencies for a long time but in the past year I’ve immersed myself in them.  Why?  They keep me awake, I find them amusing and I like them.  Reading has never had a sedative effect on me, this is a blessing and a curse.  Staying up until two or three AM in high school to finish a novel made staying awake at school more of a challenge.  You did it too though, right?  Tell me I wasn’t the only teenager who did that?  Did you ever bring a book to detention?  It made the time pass so quickly, ahh but I digress. 
Now that I work nights and my sleep pattern is sporadic at best I try to always have a book handy when I’m driving others on their errands.  Otherwise I am reminiscent of Rowan Atkinson (AKA Mr. Bean) in Rat Race and fall asleep in the strangest locations and positions.
Many times comedic elements are added to regencies, usually in the form of secondary characters which makes me giggle.  Other times I’m not quite sure if the story was supposed to be funny but when the characters are extremely dramatic or flamboyant I can’t but help to see the humor in it. 
I love the way the characters find love even in a rigid society.  Unique characters shine as danger, dancing and history swirling around their stories.  Plus, you have to the love the bantering.  A good regency has plenty of bantering.
What do you like or dislike about regency romances?
Do Share.
*Photo Credit: obenson on Flickr

Getting Started for NaNo 2009

Cross Apogee
Photo Credit: churl on Flickr

While I physically cannot begin to write my story until November 1st, there are many things I can do to get ready.
Rather than wing it, which is my natural inclination, I began browsing the forums at NaNoWriMo, read other blogs and their experiences and got quick ideas via twitter. 

I’m focusing on four areas to help my writing process.


I’ll write about each topic and share tips & tricks I stumble across on this crazy challenge.  More than likely I’ll be asking more questions than answering!

Friday, August 21

How did you pick your story?

Need a story, need a plot...
Photo Credit: Old Shoe Woman on Flickr

Since this is my first year attempting National Novel month I’m very curious how others have gone about picking what story to write. 

If you are like me I have an idea box (okay maybe two) that has scraps of paper with story ideas, pictures or anything that strikes my writing fancy.  I also have notebooks full of stories (mostly unfinished) that have accumulated over the years.  Lately, I’ve gravitated towards picture books, sans the pictures but writing a 50,000 word picture book seems inconceivable to me.
I found an old quest-like fairy tale, but again doubt it’ll make 50,000 words so I continued sifting through all my ideas but couldn’t decide.

Have you randomly hit upon an idea for NaNoWriMo or has it been simmering in a tiny section of your brain?
In my case, I had dreams three nights in a row.  Each night showed a little bit of potential and after much brainstorming (i.e.. daydreaming) I found a way to interconnect all of them, yes I am a sucker for series and I settled on one to work on.  Did I mention they were all regency romances?

”Oh la sir” may pop into your mind as well as mine.  We can talk about my chosen genre later, right now I’m curious about you.

So what’s your idea for this year?  Still looking though your idea box?  Leave a comment below or send a tweet to @cmckane.

Next:  Regency Romances!  What’s so special about them?

Thursday, August 20

Meet the Dabbler

Get out the typewriter!Photo credit: Zen on Flickr
Hello! I'm C. This year I decided to test my sanity to the limit by signing up for NaNoWrimMo.
The Goal:
50,000 words in one month.

Four college classes a week.
Four nights of work a week.
A disorganized mind and desk.

Research my heart out.
Outline, Character sketches, and the like.
The Plan:
2,000 words a day.
Enjoy every second!
What can you expect in the coming months at Word Dabbler?
Since I am already playing catch up on my fictional character blog I'm only committing to posting here two days a week; Tuesday and Friday. That way I'll be able to spend more time on writing!

Just a warning to any who happen to stumble across my quest; I ramble, I rant and generally make no sense which I blame on lack of sleep.

What about after NaNoWriMo is over and sanity returns?
Naturally work on the mess that is my first draft of a novel!
In the NaNoWriMo off-season (sorry I just made myself giggle) I'll post reviews of book, mainly fiction (children's, fantasy & regencies) with a smattering of non-fiction.
Are you getting ready for the NaNoWriMo too?
Add your link to Twitter, your blog or profile on NaNoWriMo's website.

I'll be using @cmckane for writing updates but you can also find me @opinionatedant. My profile and this blog!

Check back soon or add the feed to your favorite reader.

Have you done the novel writing challenge before? What was your experience like? Any tips for new people (me) and seasoned challengers alike? Leave a comment below!


Next Post tomorrow: Picking my story. How did you pick yours?

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