NaNoWriMo – Day 9 – When Your Brain Gets in Your Way

I am off to the Magic Kingdom this fair day, so I thought I’d dig up something useful from the archives. This mega-post was first published back in 2011, but I think its message will be helpful to those intrepid folks writing novels this month. Keep writing!


“Autopilot” by Jon McConnell…my little brother!

Now we come to the third and most difficult part of an idea’s journey to becoming a first draft story, and that is the brain. That’s right. The very thing responsible for making us capable of placing words next to each other to form epic sagas that last generations is also the very thing that prevents more masterpieces being written than we’ll ever know…or would want to know.

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NaNoWriMo – Day 8 – Starry Night


Today I followed along with YouTuber Untamed Little Wolf in her video Watercolor Starry Night Sky Demonstration. This one was fun. I think I’m getting a better understanding of wet-on-wet technique…mostly through my mistakes. It just makes me want to do more! It’s so mesmerizing watching all the talented watercolor artists on YouTube. I just lost an hour watching paintbrushes push pigments across paper set to music. I’m starting to accumulate a list of tutorials I want to try.

Up to 12,316 words for NaNoWriMo. I’m still working through the section that I’m rewriting from First Person POV to Third Person POV…and to be honest, I’m having a little bit of a struggle with this one. It may turn out that it needs to stay in the First Person. I’ve been back and forth on this one quite a bit. Sometimes stories are like that.

But I promised I’d show you how I handle changing POVs in manuscripts. Basically, I do a split screen in Scrivener, with the guide text on one side and the working file on the other. And while my preference is to have these side-by-side, you can toggle the split-screen option to split horizontally, if that works better for you.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 11.52.51 PM

We’ll see what happens with the POV. In the meantime, it’s onward and upward, right?

NaNoWriMo – Day 7 – There Be Monsters


Had a couple of busy work days there that threw me off my game a little bit, but the work was good. Now I’m back at the NaNoWriMo-ing and arting. Got in 1,544 words today, putting me up to 11,128 words. Still way behind, but progress is progress.

I also attempted a watercolor tutorial by the incredibly talented thefrugalcrafter Lindsay Weirich. I say “attempted,” because my painting came out nowhere near hers…but it was fun nonetheless. I’ll keep practicing. I learn something new with every try.

The Kiddo opted to do a page out of Laura Numeroff’s If You Take a Mouse to School. This is the mouse sitting in his little mouse house built of wooden blocks. He looks right at home. 🙂


I promised the other day to post a screenshot of how I’m handling the POV change from first to third in my manuscript in Scrivener…however, it is getting late over here and little children (and old folks!) need to be put to bed. So I will post that tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope your plots are thickening and  your word counts are adding up! If you want some cheering on, add me as your buddy on NaNoWriMo. I am squishyang, and I will pump you up.

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 3 – Kipper!

IMG_3639My little girl has been home sick from school the last two days, so my word count hasn’t been even close to par for a 250,000-word project…however, over the past three days, I’ve averaged 2,708 words a day for a total of 8,125 words so far.

I feel obligated to point out that the first 50,000 words are mostly a rewrite, translating/retyping a First Person POV over to a close Third Person POV. That kind of thing happens…to some of us more than others. (Seriously…I’ve got an 80,000-word novel that I’m in the process of rewriting the other way: from Third Person POV to First…que sera!) Tomorrow I’ll post a screenshot of Scrivener to show the easiest way to do a rewrite like that.

How are you guys doing out there in NaNo Land? Have you gotten past your inciting incident yet? Ooh! Maybe you’re already past the Point of No Return…or deep into a try-fail cycle! Are there monsters? There are monsters in mine. There are always monsters in mine…

Hopefully, the little one will be fit for school tomorrow and I can really knuckle down and burn down some words. Today, however, was not a day for monsters, but a day of rest, rain, and gentleness. A perfect day for Kipper! So for today’s Make Art Every Day! Challenge, the Kiddo and I practiced drawing Mike Inkpen’s wonderful Kipper. (Didn’t she do a good job?)

We love Kipper!


NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 2


Solo, my Solo…

A fellow writer and good friend recently expressed his annual lament that if only NaNoWriMo weren’t set during the most busy month of the year. It’s a reasonable lament, I suppose, being that November is wedged right in the middle of the busy holiday season and has a high concentration of birthdays, highly-anticipated box office releases, and coincides with National Desk-Cleaning Month, Daylight Savings Time…plus, all the obligations of everyday life.

But that, I insist, is what makes it a challenge. Further, keeping in mind that I am an individual riddled with chronic optimism, I feel that the busier one is, the more efficient and productive one can become…unless, of course, one lies down belly-up and decides to binge-watch Netflix until the fervor passes. That happens too.

So I figured there was no better way to end my most recent hermitage than to take on an ambitious challenge during this year’s NaNoWriMo. Not only am I going to write as much as I can of my 250,000-word science fiction novella series Pacifica this month (5,952 words in!), but I am going to make art every single day this month and post it here.

Yesterday, I participated in a little Bill Watterson fan love. Today, since dogs feature heavily in my current story I’m writing, I thought I’d pay homage to Solo, the best dog I’ve ever known. He passed away on September 1, 2015, at the ripe old age of 14 and a half, and I still hear him around the house, look for him in his favorite corners, and miss him terribly. (He is also depicted on the cover of not-yet-released Lookaway Dogs, illustrated by my brother Jon, and set in the same science fictional universe, along with the other best dog I’ve ever known, Dixie.)

Dixie, bless her sweet little heart, passed away a few years ago. After her passing, Solo took to traveling with me everywhere. I bought him a safety harness, and he rode in the front seat of the car with me everywhere. I took him on errands, endless hikes, and twice to the ocean, which was just fine by him.


My almost-seven-year-old is all for the art challenge and has sat with me at the dining table the last two days to enthusiastically create art with me. Here’s her version of Solo. They were great friends, those two.


So there you have it. I have emerged from my self-imposed hermitage to make art and share art, and I invite everyone to join us! If you make a painting, a drawing, a sketch, a doodle, share it in the comments or Tweet me. If you, too, want to add writing a novel to the challenge of getting through November in one piece, come be my buddy over at NaNoWriMo; I am known as squishyang, my forbidden Ninja name. We can cheer each other on. 🙂



A naked hula hoop is not much to look at. This lady used to be neon-rainbow-striped with a spiral of glitter in between. The look served her well for many years, but like all favorite outfits, it eventually sprouted loose threads and wore thin on the elbows. It was finally time for new tape! Yay!

I had been waiting for this moment ever since my sis-in-law Em got me this awesome fantastic box of hula hoop tape. This hula hoop has been with me since I took a Hoopnotica class circa 2005 (!), and the tape lasted forever!

For this first attempt, I turned to Lara Eastburn’s handy “Five Simple Tips for Taping a Hoop.”
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I was 15 years old the first time I went to hear Ray Bradbury speak. I rode with a friend and her mom out to a cramped little library in the middle of the desert, to a tiny town called Lucerne Valley. It was so old-school you could still see where they used to park the covered wagons.

And it was packed.

We had to park way out among the Joshua trees and walk like concertgoers through rows of cars up to the brightly-lit library. We wormed our way through excited book nerds and squeezed in, ducking beneath a latticework of elbows until we reached an open spot on the floor near the front, where we sat cross-legged like good little children.

I couldn’t believe it. There he was! In the flesh! Mr. Ray Bradbury, Celebrated Storyteller and National Treasure—the guy who wrote Fahrenheit 451!—with his gleaming white hair, thick black glasses, and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on a human.

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So the kid and I recently went to our first ever Movies in the Park in Redlands, California, to watch The Lego Movie.

How was it, you ask?

It was AWESOME!!

Firstly, it was in Downtown Redlands, which, if you are not familiar, is the coolest town in the I.E. It’s filled with unique shops and tree-lined walkways and fantastic eateries. There’s a gorgeous old library next to the Lincoln Memorial, an outdoor amphitheater where Shakespeare is performed in season, and a historical neighborhood with more Victorian mansions than you can shake a cat at. Let’s put it this way…everyone in the Inland Empire wants to live in Redlands. And if they don’t, then they’re lying…because Redlands is AWESOME.¹

Secondly, against all astronomical odds — especially during a popular event like this —  I found parking within smelling distance of a healthy fart. That’s how close we were. AWESOME!

Our friends had already staked out a primo spot, so it was just a matter of transferring our chairs from our primo parking spot to our primo reserved spaces. AWESOME!!

The mood was festive! Kids were all over the place. Bags of Legos were passed out to eager little ones, and people in lawn chairs were scattered all over the place. We all brought snacks. There was no doubt we were headed into an awesome evening.

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