Holidays and Making Goals

Well, it’s honest check in time!

I am still pounding away at my manuscript in honor of NaNoWriMo, but sadly, I am super behind my word count.


That’s my secret. I’m like Bruce Banner from the Hulk. The secret is that I’m always angry er, Behind on a deadline XD.

I won’t make excuses y’all. I haven’t been keeping my writing times and I’ve been having a hard time getting through the scenes I have mapped out, but I’m still feeling better about this attempt at this particular project than previous attempts.

But that’s okay. It’s time for my own panic-fueled productivity burst. I wish all other behind the goal-nanoers the best. I’ll be putting rocket fuel under my butt for the next few days to try and meet that 50,000 word goal.

Good luck friends.

NaNoWriMo, the US 2016 Election and Motivation

At the moment, I’m sitting at around 15,000 words on my NaNo project. On Tuesday and Wednesday though, I didn’t write.

It was a motivation thing. I had the need to write, but we all get to that place in our projects where it feels like you’re paving mud instead of bricks. You just don’t feel confident about the work that you’re slapping down and it’s hard to make yourself work on something if you don’t feel confident about the stuff that you’re putting down. Everyone was telling me to push through the suck, like just by hearing the words I was going to be able to find that inner strength to Do The Thing.

As a contrary person who dislikes being told what to do, I procrastinated. Instead of noveling I focused on national and local events. I focused on the 2016 Elections.

I live in the state of Mississippi. It is one of the most misunderstood and joked about states in the USA. At least, when you’re living in Mississippi, that’s how it feels. It feels like you are always at the bottom of everything. Our education scores are low. In my town, only 2 of the public schools scored an average grade, a C. All the others scored D’s and F’s on their last review. We still struggle with illiteracy, a slow economy and a limit in opportunities. Our main breadwinners are usually men and our main caretakers are usually women. Traditional roles are the backbone for most visible successful families and values other parts of the country consider outdated are very much a litmus test for what makes a successful family.

The town I live in is service-oriented in most of it’s employment: Nurses, Doctors, Military staff from our little base. We’re full of servers and house cleaners. We have craftsmen and professors for our university. But the people that surround us make up the majority of the state’s population. They are the truck drivers, oil drillers, farmers, livestock managers and factory men and women. They are the people who bring America food, grow the food, find the fuel that lets the country run and the last of those who create American goods within the country’s borders.

They are deeply religious and hard working people who have been living in some version of the poverty scale for a long time and experience very little thanks for the work they do for the rest of the country. Yet they are also smart and kind; people who want to be friendly and to show courtesy. People who care, deeply, about the value of hospitality and good manners. People who watch one another closely to hold each other up to their values of their community and who, during disasters and crisis, reach out. Mississippians are proud and independent.

I often feel like a bit of an oddball where I live. I don’t have the same values, I don’t have the same interests as many of my neighbors and coworkers. I don’t have the same dreams. But I can’t help but be inspired by what I see around me. I even set my current project in a Deep South city because I wanted to show others the dichotomy of living a progressive and modern world view in a society that values different things.

Yet the last two days have struck me hard. The division that is in our country is so much more than just who was elected. It’s a division of values and focus. There are amazing and excellent people in the Urban zones, and by Urban I mean  big cities, who have found community in focusing on education, accepting that not all families look a certain way and comforting themselves by vilifying those who live differently. Communities that do no rely upon the weather for their job, or who need to spend week and weeks away from home just to make ends meet. In the Urban zones, (of which I grew up in) you can go to the store and your things are nicely lined up. There isn’t as much a need to cook because you can find tons of restaurants at decent prices all around you. Eight years ago, those urban people reached out through their grassroots and called upon the people to rise up and help them make a change. And so the world did. And when it did it ignored and shucked off the things those rural people found important.

In 2008, I was on my way home from college with a cold and stopped at a restaurant for food when I saw my country elect it’s first black president. When they happened, I was so proud. Because here were were, making progress.

Yet here I sit, eight years later. A full-time and working home owner in a state that has seen very little help or progress from the change I wanted in the world as a college student. I see people who I work with and live near and exist harmoniously with presented as two-dimensional on all my media. I see the outrage of the LGBTQ community, of which I am apart, at anyone who reached out for the message that the candidate Trump had and paint them with one color: Hate.

“They Hate Us” is what I’ve heard. “This was an election based on Hate!”

Yet for years, all we have done is mock them. For years we have held up their beliefs and mingled in our message with scorn and disdain.

“It’s time to step out of the past,” we’ve cried as we fought for equal treatment. “It’s time to put away your bigotry and your close mindedness.”

But if, for the sake of example, I am a Mississippi woman who’s husband is an oil man and gone for weeks at a time, if I’m a mother, do you know who helps me? My church. My christian church who supports me and loves me. My God who I have been warned others will scorn and try to get me to turn against. If I’m that woman, I don’t see a group that is trying to give love a chance, I see the devil wrapped in the clothing of lies because that was what I would have been taught to guard against. Who is going to listen to the lies that a stranger is telling them when around them they are surrounded by voices protesting on their side. They are in a bubble of acceptance and ignore the message that the left is giving them in favor of standing by the people they know and trust.

And we, those people who voted in the change and who voted in the new updates never took a single moment to think of how to connect with the people we were changing. We dismissed them and put ourselves in a bubble to try and be ‘Safe’. We created echo chambers in the name of ‘Feeling Okay’ and ‘Protecting ourselves’.

I’m done with the safe places. I’m done with the echo chambers and done trying to use simple terms to explain and understand complex problems. I haven’t written in two days because I’ve been digesting and processing what this new development in the setting of my life is going to mean. I’m not going to stand for unacceptable behavior. If I see racism, I’ll call it out, but now I’m going to try and figure out how to do it in a way that actually changes the behavior instead of insults the person behaving. If I see sexism, I’m going to try and make the conversation. If I encounter bigotry, I will deal with it but that extends to both sides. That extends to my side as well as their side. Because at the end of the day, we’re all on the Same side. The side of the United States of America.

For the next two years, I’m going to be connected. I’m going to absorb and focus on what I can do without alienating those I need to stand beside me. Make no mistake, we need each other and we need to stand alongside one another. I’m going to keep writing as well. Because just like the soggy bit of my novel where everything seems a mistake, I have to keep living in the world that feels like a mistake. I have to move forward in both prose and life.

Thank you for being on this journey with me. Keep breathing and keep writing.

NaNoWriMo 2016 – The Prep

I went and checked my NaNoWriMo stats and I have attempted this challenge since like, 2010.

Six years, y’all.

But you know, despite feeling like a nano ‘failure’, I don’t feel like I actually have failed in the final goal of being a better writer.

The first year I tried to do Nano I went into it with no prep. I had discovered the challenge a few weeks before it was going to start and got really pumped up. I came up with an idea and I just WENT for it, no planning, no prep, no characters, no plot… just a story idea that moved forward.

And I made it about 6 to 10k (I sincerely can’t remember) into the challenge and quit after about a week because November is a hell of a month for a college student to try and write a novel. Between papers and school and work? Nah bro. Didn’t happen. My story had no tension, had no real conflict and basically just curled up and died on the page because there was nothing there to hold it up.

The next couple of years I’d try again and I’d inevitably fail.

I believe I say ‘screw this’ last year, but I tried to just keep writing…and got disappointed and gave up.

That was frustrating as heck. I keep trying and I keep failing. I keep attempting this project that I’ve witnessed thousands of people complete around me and…this year it clicked.

For me, it will never be about completing a 50,000 word story in 30 days. It WILL be about the journey. It WILL be about not giving up. It WILL be about taking a deep breath and reviewing what doesn’t work from the past. And it will be about forgiving myself for not being like everyone else and accepting that I’m like myself instead.

This year I have a story I’ve been working on for a while that I’m going to work on. I’ll log my words and push myself to get beyond where I stalled out last time. This year will be about not letting those around me rush through but also about letting the mistakes happen and just getting through the book. This year will be about running the race.

My NaNoWriMo prep goes beyond the preparation of a book and about the prep of the writer.

How I’m re-learning outlining

I’m, by my very sporadic and impulsive nature, a pantser.

It started back, probably, when I was playing RPGs with my family as a tabletop gamer. See, you’d come into a game and stuff would happen and story would be instantly created from those reactions. Role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons were my first foray into making my own stories and so from there I began to write stories from an instinctive place.

This worked fine for the little fanfictions that I would create in middle school and high school but when it came to actually trying to get through a big project, this method has, sadly, failed me.

Yet, I’m not ready to say that I’m an outliner yet…more like, I’ve figured out how to be a Tailored Pantser. I still get a thrill from creating a story out of instinct and don’t really find outlines to be more than just the barest of lines in the shifting sands of my imaginary beach, the waves of my impulses and story sense rewriting whatever I have plotted for the future of my protagonist.

With that said, I have discovered that Deborah Chester’s book on the Fantasy Fiction Formula has completely changed the way I look at stories and outlining. (You can check out her book HERE on amazon.) Specifically, her SPOOC method of story mapping has been insanely helpful and it’s what I’m going to talk about here today. If you want more than the brief summary that I’m going through, I highly recommend buying her book as it’s been a god sent to fixing my tension and conflicts.

So, let’s take a quick walk through her suggestions so that you can see what I’ve been doing to prepare for my 52 Week Short Story Challenge for 2017.

This is specifically for short stories mind you, but it can be expanded for novels.

First, I decide what my basic idea or story question is for the project.

I’ll take a prompt from the /r/WritingPrompts to begin our question:

“You join a pantheon of the Gods, only it’s just like being at entry level in a corporation.”

Cool. We have our ‘idea’. Now we need to know the following things so that we can begin to map a story. Specifically, we need Situation, our Protagonist, our Objective, aka what we’re trying to achieve, our Opponent and finally our Crisis.

For this story I’d probably map it out as the following:

S: When she was added into the Greek Pantheon

P: Agave

O: Knew she wanted to become a goddess of farming so she can restore her war torn home


O: When her supervisor Demeter finds out that she is in love with one of her favorite nymphs

C: can she keep her own life from turning into another tragedy.

Now, this isn’t specifically an outline per say, but it’s a start of what you’re going to going for in terms of a map. You still need to figure out your story beats, aka, the scenes where Agave tries and fails. You’ll need to flesh out characters and make sense of exactly what level of power all the gods and goddesses have. BUT at least now you have determined your opponent and have someone for your protagonist to struggle against.

I find that if I at least know what the struggle is, I can get at least build from there.

I am currently creating a ‘SPOOC’ outline for all 52 of my short stories I’m planning for next year so I can at least have something to follow when it comes to my insane 1 story a week challenge. I get the creativity of running through conflicts and major events with the help of the ‘SPOOC’ to remind me of what my stakes are and remind me of the goal I’m trying to achieve.

Let me know if this is helpful to anyone. And good luck with mapping out your stories.

NaNoWriMo, Twitter and Being an Extroverted Writer

So much of successful writing requires you to go off alone and play, intensely and vigorously with imaginary people. You must, from nothing but your own imagination, create vivid and complete people from your imagination. Then, from that same imagination you also must create a scenario for them not only to fail repeatedly in, but one that will temper who they are and make them someone greater in the end. All this in hopes that (at least for me) by sharing it out with the world in a finished and polished format that I can connect with people.

Because while the act of writing and habit of creation is a solo and internal process, I am not an individual who does well as a solo and internal human.

Myke Cole, a new writer I discovered at DragonCon this year, said it best in a panel: It’s hard to be an extrovert and a writer.

Y’all, I don’t even read military fantasy and I bought a copy of his Gemini Cell on the way home from Atlanta to read in the car.*

With my gripes about being a person who doesn’t like to sit alone and only talk at herself, I have come up with coping methods.

First, there is Twitter. Twitter is short and not too involved so I can chirp out something here and there at people using writing tags and not feel like I’m being a nuisance! Then, we have the writers community over at Ally Bishop’s Cerulean Project who are a daily inspiration to keeping my habits on check.

But the biggest and most community oriented writing event of the year is coming up: National Novel Writing Month.

Now, if you’re a long time follower of the blog, you’re aware of my very constant problems with completing NaNoWriMo. I have yet to ever start and finish a story within a 50,000 word limit and most of that was purely because I couldn’t habitially write daily. I tried to work on that A LOT last year by making myself do streaks. I even managed, for a few months, to keep up a 100 day streak before I went on vacation to Mexico. I have yet to top that many days of solid writing but hey, I’m back on the horse and knowing it can be done is just as empowering as anything else.

NaNoWriMo is such a great season of the year for any writer. Because suddenly, people who might never have thought of themselves as writers, people who might be like me and dread the thought of sitting alone in a room for hours just to talk to themselves, have others around who are on a cheer leading wagon of support and encouragement.

That’s precious beyond measure.

If you’re planning on joining over there, feel free to add me as a writing buddy. I’m dracoangelica over on the NaNoWriMo site. (Click Here for short link) Leave a comment below with your buddy name and I’ll add you back.

I am a rebel this year and as I already have a project that I’d like to try and finish, I’m taking NaNoWriMo as a time to concentrate and add on to what I already have. It’s almost the end of the year and I haven’t quite hit my new years resolution to FINISH a novel length project yet and I feel like this could be the year that I do it if I just keep pushing.

So join in! I look forward to seeing what everyone achieves.


*he’s a really cool dude in person by the way and his book has some damn good tension. I’m about to become a fangirl, I can tell

Successes and Struggles

Well, I’m still trying to get back onto my Writing Habit. (as in making it a habit instead of something I manage to do every other weekend.)

Last weekend I DID submit a thing for a magazine but I’ll be waiting to see what comes of it.

And today I managed to wake up and make with world-building words.

Often, my projects feel like icebergs. I go forth with all these ideas but only a fraction of what I’ve sat and thought about ends up in the final project.

(they also go careening aimlessly around crashing into things.)

All in all, still recovering from my ruts but we have forward momentum and that’s what matters. Leave a comment about how the rest of your weeks are going.

And Life Happens


Oh Boy.

Look at that super long gap in my posts. I went and did it again.

No time for blame and no time for hair pulling. This blogging thing is always going to be the first thing to go whenever it comes to planning out my time and making an effort.


-Wisteria Wolf, my WIP since the beginning of the year has been on hold due to some life changes that majorly interfered with my ability to work on the story.

I did some fanfiction work for a while then had some job changes that threw me off my schedules until this month.

BUT! That’s okay. Like a yo-yo on a rubber string, I’m back. Still here, still talking about writing and goals and the things I want to do in life.

Next year I start my 52 short story challenge and I’ve gotten as far as outlining all the attempts I’m going to make.

I’ve decided that while my goal will be to finish a short story a week, I’m still going to try and change the project week by week according the outline that I have in my notebook.

Lemme here from whoever is still listening. How do you get back on your horse? Do you ever have times where you fall on your butt? Tweet me at @writerholec or comment down below. I need the moral support.

1000 Days to Master-hood

So, this week while pecking away at the rag-bag of quilt pieces that is pretending to be my manuscript, I decided, much out of the blue, that next year I did NOT want to do this anymore.

Oh, I’ll still be writing, but next year I want a break from Novelling.

Plus, I’m sure that I’ll still have a lot to edit on this project next year. So. What to do? I’m looking at another 9 months of pushing this baby novel down the hill and hoping I roll it into a readable shape by then. (To all my veteran authors who can poop out a clean first draft on their first 90 days, I both hate you and want to come live in your pocket, ok.)

Anyway, I’m going to take on the Ray Bradbury Challenge this year AND start on the 52 short stories in 52 weeks in 2017.

(But April, It’s still March. Isn’t it a little early to come up with a New Years Resolution?)

Well parenthesized reader, this is true, it is early. But part of my growth as a writer has been to begin outlining a project before I start it and 52 plots are a lot of work. So I’ve been pre-planning this year between poking my book forward.

ALSO, the reason this is relevant now instead of later is that I’m also going to be doing the 1000 Short Story, Poems and Essay Challenge in a public way to continue improving my brain for future scribbling.

I’ve been trying to figure out the best method to talk about these things and for now, I’m going to put out blog posts on different works that I like a lot, however with Periscope being a new medium in the world, I’m also probably going to schedule some of those as well because I think it’ll be faster.

I’m working on creating a page that will be a current documentation of my progress. Right now I’m working my way through the following: has a daily poem on their website, so I’ll be just reading that daily.

Essays are currently coming from The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon

Short stories are coming from A Manuel for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

On Day 1 I read “Carousel” by Zachary Schomburg as my poem, Essay was Hemon’s “The Story of Others” and my short story was “Angel’s Laundromat” by Berlin.

Room at the Table

So I am sitting here, 28 years old, turning 29 this year, and I have been trying to finish a book since I was, I dunno, 16? 17? And still. Haven’t succeeded.

I’ve written stories here and there, Maybe three or four? Class projects and a couple of contest entries.

Now, to some of my readers, this is just a sign of my constant growing, a sign of me following the normal way of things. My mentors and other writers have told me that I’m doing what I need to be doing. But I don’t always FEEL that way. I don’t feel like I’m improving, I feel frustrated. Not about my actions in the last four months, but just the last several years. I feel like I have wasted all this time in my life, years that I could have been achieving my dreams and goals. The time has passed and I didn’t put in that work. And now, here I am, almost 30 and I still wonder if I’m ever going to do it, or if, just like all the other times, I’ll fizzle out and fall down one more time.

Yet, underneath it all, is a deeper terror.

The fear of success.

I’m afraid that once I finally write my book(s), when I finally get good enough to join the table, the writers I want to be around, won’t have room. I’m afraid that when I finally put myself forward, there won’t be a place for me. What I put out will have been done before and better by other people. I’ve read a theory that we can only meet about 150 people at a time and once that quota has been met, that’s it. Too bad for you, you’ll never get to be the peers of the people you admire.

Then, there is the nagging worry that if I DO manage to publish and get my stories out, I’ll never have people who want to listen or read about the worlds I create and the people who I birthed in my head.

These fears? These worries? They’re ridiculous. Intellectually I know this. If this were true then we’d have stopped caring about literature after our first books came out in the days of the past. It’s not true because people are evolving and changing and they hunger for stories to change and evolve with them. There is plenty of room in the world for new stories and I know that I’m worth listening to because why else would I pop words in this space every three to five days? But there is an inevitable narssicm to being an artist of any type. If you’re a singer, you must trust that you are worth listening to. If you are a painter, you must put that work in daily and just accept that it must exist. Dancers and actors and video game developers…creators of all kinds. We must believe within ourselves that what we do and say has meaning, that we can be another voice in the sea and be heard.

Still, knowing all that, I’ve been struck by this fear, this idea that I might not be putting out anything worthwhile and I cope.

I cope by doing the following:
I write.
I write the characters.
I bury myself in the story.
I sketch out scenes.
I re-examine my outlines.
I skim pictures of potential cover ideas.
I write some more.
I skim pictures of places I’ve never been but am putting in my book
And then…I write some more.

I sit and I write and I work and I craft because while I might be scared of not being good enough, I might as well be scared while I’m learning how to get there instead of sitting still and being miserable.

If you feel like this, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you friend.

Introducing my AlphaSmart

I have, since sometime in 2012, been without a laptop computer. This has been extremely limiting for my mobile writing but I’ve gotten used to using Athena, my Massive Gaming Desktop Bohemoth for all my novel writing. While she is great for music, video, gaming and all sorts of other programs, it is very difficult to lug a tower around with you whenever you want to write, and while I adore my office and have found the habit of sitting in the same chair every morning to be very good for productivity and consistency, life doesn’t always allow us those set times. So, in response I’ve been shopping for an alternative.

One of my most googled searches was, “Ideal Writer Setup.”

I was thinking I’d get some sort of recommendation of a good tool for writing on the go. I needed three things: Something I could type on, something that I could limit distractions on, and something portable.

My husband and I skimmed through countless PCs, but we’re cheap and none of the ones we saw really seemed to fit what I had in mind. I was also feeling frustrated about the idea of having to purchase another copy of my beloved Scrivener just so that I could sync up my two projects.

Then, I found it. Exactly what I wanted: the most basic of basic typewriters.

An AlphaSmart Neo2.

Now, some people just use their tablets and to them, I say, “Good. Enjoy that.”

I have an older eReader-style tablet but I’ve never needed one of the bigger tablet PCs. I tried to sync a bluetooth keyboard to it, but the battery life is so poor on my eReader when I’m using it for applications.

When I was in college,tablets were hopelessly out of my student price range and I had a perfect functioning laptop. And now, it still makes my eye twitch to spend a couple hundred dollars on a device that will be so dependent on the internet for syncing and storing. (Though I won’t lie, I’d love to have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4)

Still. My AlphaSmart is better than all of that.

By KeesvL at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Koman90., Public Domain,

This device is a Smart Keyboard that was built in 2004. It lets you type, it lets you see four lines of what you type, it runs on 3 AA batteries and saves every keystroke as you make it, making it practically impossible to lose your work. It also calculates word counts.

For me? This is ideal. I spend 35$ and while there are a couple of keys that aren’t as responsive (Specifically the number four for some reason) and I’ve noticed that tapping the corner in an uneven manner will shut the entire system down, making the device difficult to use while moving around or jostling, I’ve found that the lack of distractions make any blocks I’ve had with my writing in the last few weeks completely worth it. And! Even when it turns itself off, I’ve never lost a single word.

Best of all, because it doesn’t require connection to the internet, I can use it ANYWHERE and the long battery life makes it ideal to sit wherever I want in a restaurant or cafe. I’m no longer tied to the power cord.

I won’t say this works for everything. After all, while I wrote this blog post on my Neo2, I still had to do all my editing and formatting on WordPress. I also don’t trust this device for any project that requires a lot of formatting or page previews. But for straight ‘Write The Thing’ effectiveness? It’s fantastic.

I’ve been able to write outside, on the couch, at cafes and most importantly, during my lunch break at work. It’s light and fits in one of my medium sized tote bags.

I was introduced to this device on the NaNoWriMo message boards and there are a lot of people who are fans.

If you are a writer who has to have access to their entire manuscript at all times while writing, this might not be the tool for you. I tend to get bogged down if I focus too much on what I’ve written before and that makes it difficult to move forward. I also am they type of person who takes a lot of notes on paper during the day. The AlphaSmart lets me take those notes directly with a keyboard and then later load them up to the document in question.

You can hold up to 8 files on the AlphaSmart at any given time for a total of about 10k words per file. As I have never in my life written that many words at one time in one sitting, I think the space restrictions will be fine for me.

I’ve designated files 1-7 for Mon-Sun and then file 8 for my notes and misc. Thoughts that needed to be uploaded. After I made a saved copy on Scrivener and Word, I’ve turned around and cleared the file, ready for the next go around.

This isn’t going to replace a laptop or a tablet. There are no apps, there isn’t any access to email and the font is the most basic of basic 90s style tech. Over all, the entire device resembles an overly large calculator. But I’m so pleased.

What sort of methods do you use for your writing? Do you use a tablet or longhand everything? Let me know in the comments below.