Category Archives: Chatterbox

I Have Failed This Story…

… and it’s a like an arrow through my heart. *chuckles*

Seriously, I think I’m way too far behind on my word count to catch up on NaNoWriMo. I was already behind before last week started, and I didn’t manage to write all week. We’re in a little bit of a rush at work, so my creativity is all focused on the February update of The Sims FreePlay. When I get home, the words won’t come out. And to make matters worse, flu has been going around the office. I think I avoided it because I felt very weak this weekend and slept through most of it (meaning: no significant amount of writing done.)

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not giving up. I’ll keep writing as much as I can as a way to get myself back into the habit of writing everyday.

When I started this blog, my first challenge was to develop a healthy writing routine, and that was why I wrote blog novels. I knew that if I had even one reader, I’d feel accountable. After a couple of years of that, I thought the habit was well-anchored. What I’m realizing now is that though I’ve done my best to keep writing a little bit throughout the tribulation of the past couple of years, I’m rusty. It takes me twice the time to produce half the word count.

It’s a question of inspiration (I have exciting ideas coming out of my ears!) It’s a question of habit.

I’m thinking of going back to the blog novel format to get myself into a new regular routine after NaNoWriMo is over. Would I rewrite one of my old ones now that I know better or start a new one? I don’t know.

Only one thing is certain: I need to train myself back up.

And that’s okay!

Despite my title (I just had to!), I don’t see this as a failure, but as a sign of the experiences I have lived through in the past couple of years. They’ve challenged me, strengthened me and given me more nuances to write about. I can’t really complain. I just need to get used to getting the words out of my brain again. 😉

What about you guys? How’s your NaNo going?

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NaNo Playlist Block

My first week of NaNoWriMo has been a bit of a drag. Compared to the previous years (and their successful 100k written in November), it feels weird to fall behind on the daily progress towards 50k. I know why that is, though: this is the first year I use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to rewrite an existing project.

The original draft of The Phoenix’s Wake has quite a few problems, which is why I’m rewriting it from scratch. But there are also things in there that I love, and these things that I want to preserve held me back from just pushing ahead with the new draft. Without realizing it at first, I held myself at a ridiculously high standard for a draft: it had to be better than the original, but not too different.

That’s nuts. I can’t walk that line and write 1,667 words a day. And the truth is: I shouldn’t even attempt it. The Phoenix’s Wake needs a new voice and identity. That’s why I’m rewriting it instead of editing it.

I figured that I should put together a soundtrack to help me steer myself into a new mind space for this story.

And I hit Playlist Block.

Wanna help?

I posted this of Saturday, and a couple of people have participated by joining the discussion in some way or adding songs to the Spotify playlist. I figured I would take the time to give a bit more context for the story here, in case other people want to help give The Phoenix’s Wake its new flavor.

The Phoenix’s Wake is an urban fantasy mystery that deals with themes of grief, independence/self-identity and racial segregation.

Drea Cente is the main character. She passes for Latina, but she’s actually Mayan. Since she’s a Gorgon, she looks and acts like a 30-ish year-old even though she’s 149, and she morphs from human to snake woman and can turn people into stone. She’s a bit of a hothead, fiercely loyal, and relying on others to keep organized. Without going into her personal history too much, she was born in 1866, went through a war and circus slavery until 1929, then enjoyed a few good years with Ramses. 1943 to 1963 was hell on her, and she basically quit human society. She has led a normal-ish life since then, and is now a detective with the Wilmington Myth Police. At the start of the story, she has lost Ramses and gets stuck with an untrained human on an oddly familiar case.

Keith Russo is said human and is as red-blooded American as they come. He has experience in human homicide, but has never worked with Myths before which causes him to have dangerous assumptions about how to interact with his new team. He’s stuck between doing what his superintendent wants (observe the Myths and learn better ways to control them) and what he knows to be right (protect and serve.) Drea tries her best to teach him the rope, but he tends to get in his own way (and she’s not the best teacher.) He’s 34, hyper organized and has two kids with his wife.

Ramses Cairo is an egg. I’m serious; he’s a Phoenix in the process of being reborn. Before that, he was Drea’s adoptive father and work partner. He rescued her in 1929 and took her under his wing until he spontaneously combusted in 1943. After being reborn in a Phoenix sanctuary, he exited the sanctuary, a 20 year-old version of himself with half the memories of his previous life, and rejoined with Drea (1963.) He combusted again the night before the beginning of the story, and Drea fears that he may forget her this time. She’s grieving, but trying to keep it together without him. He was the one with wisdom and social skills.

The world they live in is an alternate version of today. Since everyone started having a good quality camera in their pocket a few years ago, an increasing number of myths got photographed or recorded and posted on social media. Five years ago, the Grand Reveal happened; Myths announced their existence. Humans didn’t react very well. By now, all Myth politicians have been voted out of office, except for the governor of Delaware because the state has a high concentration of Myths. Human-on-myth violence is fairly under control, but the human public services won’t support them. Myths have their own lawyers, medical services, police, etc. but there aren’t enough of them to organize the way human services are.

Okay, I think I’ve said enough. If you want to add music to the Spotify playlist, I would recommend that you start adding tracks without checking out what others put in. This way, you won’t be influenced in your decisions, and I’ll have different takes on what my characters sound like to people. 😉

And what about you guys? Are you NaNo-ing? How is it going?


Lilac and NaNoWriMo Prep

It’s been spring for a month here in Australia, and while some days have been a bit cold, the weekends have been amazingly warm and sunny. This last weekend reached the high twenties Celsius, and I went out on a stroll at 11pm without a jacket.

This is highly unusual for little Quebecer me. I love it!

As I cracked open my windows yesterday to let the fresh air in, I realized that the tree growing in front of my bedroom is a lilac! Though the flowers are few and budding, I can already smell it when I stand at the open window. I’m pretty sure the wind will carry the scent into my bedroom once the tree is in full bloom, and I’m looking forward to that.

The other thing I’m looking forward to is NaNoWriMo. Now that October has started, I’m having planning jitters. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t do as well during NaNo if I don’t figure out the broad strokes of the story beforehand. Because October is going to rush by super fast (I have lectures to prep, too!), I may have to break my “write something entirely new” rule and settle for rewriting one of the shelved projects since the general plan for these is pretty much done.

We shall see.

It’ll be fun to meet the local WriMos. I made some awesome friends in the Quebec NaNo group, so going to write-ins here may be a good way to extend my social circle outside of work friends (not that these friends aren’t wonderful, but I have all my eggs in the same basket right now and that’s not the best.)

What about you guys? Anyone starting to think about NaNo?


Til It Happens to You (Lady Gaga)

I’m not posting one of my songs today. The one that I meant to post is not quite ready, but I can share what inspired it.

** Trigger warning: both this post and the song are about rape. **

A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared this new song by Lady Gaga, which is as beautiful as it is important and hard to watch. There have been words floating in my mind since then, because I know people who’ve gone through this (both men and women.) I have my own stories, though, in my mind and the way I experienced them, they’re nowhere as harsh as what happens to others.

Every day.

I’ve been writing and erasing a dozen version of this last part of this post, and I realized that there’s much I’d like to say because this subject is close to my heart. But there’s nothing more I want to say now, because I don’t want my ideas distracting you from the video.

Just watch this.


Sadness and Inspiration

Last week was one of those weeks that sucker punches plans out of the schedule and a good chunk of willpower along with them.

Last week, I lost my friend Tom.

Tom often joked about how I would write him into a story, and I answered that if I did him justice, I’d be critiqued for the lack of realism. Truth be told, trying to capture the essence of that man is a daunting task. I don’t think I’ll ever truly attempt it. I do have bits and pieces, though.

Tom admired the way I bounced back from negative events. He saw right away that I don’t avoid bad feelings; I tackle them, head first. I embrace the pain until I get sick of being miserable. Part of the process to come to term with his passing was to play heavy, dark music and relive memories and conversations. I wrote some of those down. Small glimpses of who he was that may or may not find their way into a story some day.

Once I had written my way to the words I needed to say goodbye, I realized that the happiness I got from our moments together outshines the sadness of loss. I’m thankful that we shared a small piece of each other’s journey through life. I know myself better because of him. I’m stronger for having known him. And though I’m not going to make him a character in a story, the impact he had on my life will transpire through the words for sure.

I’m on the other side of the “bounce back process,” now, able to talk about him with only a dull sense of sadness. Able to return to my plans and schedule. Which now not only include blogging, but also training! I missed the gym.

So this is the reason why I went a bit radio silent last week, and things are going back to normal now. 😉


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