Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Reasons to do NaNoWriMo 2013

Just in case my monster NaNo Post scared you off, here's the bare bones of my favorite writing adventure.

Why should you do NaNo? I don't know--but I'll gladly tell you why I do.

  1. It's fun. You get to join in on a crazy challenge with fellow writers of all ages all around the world. The NaNo community is absolutely amazing. 
  2. It's the easiest way to write a rough draft without agonizing over the details. If you tend to take forever to get something down on paper, NaNo will be fantastic for helping you to get in the habit of writing every day. 
  3. You'll actually have written something resembling a novel-manuscript in a decent rough draft if you give NaNo an honest-to-goodness actual attempt. Plan stuff. Plot. Or just take random notes. But go ahead and do it in the spirit it was meant to be enjoyed--pure fun. 
  4. Stress relief. I write quite a bit. Stories, papers, articles and so on. Most of the time, it's pretty serious writing, with heavy emphasis on perfect first drafts and things making sense from the get-go. NaNo lets me write like crazy and actual follow my writer's instincts in crafting the kind of story that made me want to start writing in the first place. 
  5. It's good writing practice. Some days I love sitting down to write. Other days, I could probably chuck my laptop out the window somewhere. NaNo reminds me that keeping a writing practice is important--and fun. Sometimes I don't want to write--at first--but once I start? I can't stop. 

If you've never tried NaNo before, I'd advise you to give it a shot and take it as easy or seriously as you want. Join me. Try it. Enjoy it. Have fun.

See you in November!


T-2 Days to NaNo 2013

Whew! It's been a busy week.

There are exactly two days left to NaNoWriMo, the  2013 edition and my month of yearly crazy, creative hyper and constant speed writing. Actually, it's not as crazy as it sounds, but I kind of like the little touch of crazy there, because it reminds me that NaNo is all about writing--and having fun while you do it.

So, now that it's almost NaNo, I mean, November, it's time for my obligatory NaNoWriMo Post. I try to do these earlier in the month in hopes of dragging more innocent interested writers into the adventure with me, but as this is my graduating semester at University and as a 4th year ML(Municipal Liaison), I've been plugging NaNo around on campus, rather than my blog.

But, I would never forget my loyal readers, so here's the updated "Why I do NaNo" in complete excessive rambling style. The short version will follow shortly.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 Days. Wouldja like to hear my campus pitch? I've been practicing it for nearly the entire month and somehow, (big surprise!), it seems to sound better in written words than the spoken ones.

Alrighty, here we go!:

What is it?
NaNoWriMo, shortened to NaNo, is an international, month-long, non-profit writing event for writers all around the world. The idea is to write a novel (or novel-length manuscript) of 50,000 words during the month of November in a mere 30 Days. As crazy as that sounds, it's a tremendous amoung of fun with an amazingly supportive writing community of like-minded writers. It was founded in 1999 by Chris Baty out of Berkley CA. NaNo is now in its 15th year.

Where does it happen? 
Everywhere! Literally half a million writers will be joining in the NaNo madness this year in over 600 regions across 7 continents. It's going to be amazing. To know where local events (such as writer meet-ups and weekly write-ins) are hosted, home in to your local region by finding your state and the closest city. If your city isn't listed, try the "elsewhere" region--you'll find online events and chatrooms where you can participate.

When does it happen? 
As mentioned above, NaNo takes place in November. Too busy in November? A more relaxed, stripped down version of NaNo called Camp NaNoWriMo takes place in Spring and Summer with alternate months. For instance, this year, they ran Camp NaNo's for April and July. The year before was June and August.

Who participates? 
You! and me! and any other writer interested in using NaNo as a kick in the pants to get some words down on a page. You do not have to write fiction to qualify to give NaNo a shot. It is free for everyone to join. To sweeten the deal, there's a touch of the real writing world with the solid Nov 30th deadline, prompts to keep up with your project through a daily word count goal and encouraging pep talks from famous authors like James Patterson and Lemony Snicket. (writers under 13 can participate in the YWP).

What do you win?
Web badges. A certificate. Up to 50% off amazing writing software for both Mac and PC, such as Scrivener and Storyist, as well as discounts on editing packages. You will also receive up to 2 free proof copies of your book through Amazon's POD, CreateSpace. And of course, you'll have a rough draft or a Zero draft, if it's rougher than rough, to help jumpstart your writing project. The hardest part of novel writing can be starting or continuing, NaNo helps you to build forward momentum and get the story out. Because it's quite difficult to edit/publish something you haven't written yet, eh?

Why should you do this? 
Because it's fun. No, I'm not kidding. Writing should be fun, something enjoyable and refreshing. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the technical points or the difficulties of writing a specific draft or required proposal that you forget why you started writing in the first place. Every year, I look forward to NaNo because it's pure stress relief. I can do what I do best--unleash my creativity on a blank novel-shaped canvas--and I can have fun doing it. There is no pressure to share, edit or craft perfect sentences, I just write what I'd want to read--a really fantastic story. Through NaNo, I have produced several decent drafts of novels in the process of being edited, reworked and someday, will be published. I owe this to NaNo. I would recommend that every writer give it an honest shot, at least once. If you hate it, fine, but at least you would have tried it.

How do you do this? 
This is actually my favorite section in my presentation. How do you do NaNo? Honestly, one word at a time. No, I'm not being smart, I'm being serious. I sit down and I write one word after the other and I keep on doing this until the end of November and sometimes into December or January, so I can finish the story. November is a ridiculously busy time for me, but I have a fantastic time thinking and puzzling through the finer points of writing my story, getting to know the characters and bringing it all together. 50k words works out to be 1667 words a day or 1700, if you want to round up. Most of us write about 1000 words a day on a daily basis, through emails, texts and random things like notes to family and grocery lists. 1667 isn't that hard.

Ah yes, the rules. It's simple. Don't write anything before November 1st. Nothing. Nada. Zip. You can outline and plot and character sketch and world build to your heart's content, just don't actually start writing until November 1st. You're welcome to keep writing after Nov 30th.

If that sounds a little crazy, let me mention something interesting--writers like Sara Gruen(Water for Elephants) and Erin Morgenstern(The Night Circus)--wrote their first drafts during NaNo. Then they polished them up and sent them out. Pretty inspiring, huh?

This year's theme is 8-bit, just in case you were wondering about the pixelated web badges, the theme changes every year. Last year was Venn Diagrams(very cool!) and they are free for your blog, website, Facebook, Twitter and everything, so you can find fellow wrimos and declare your noveling passion.

The bottom line?

Go ahead and give NaNo a shot, because it's pretty hard to edit something that you've never written. If you'd like to novel along with me, find me here as ScarletFury. Feel free to add me as a buddy or drop me a nanomail. I love hearing from fellow Wrimos.

Happy nanoing!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lunchbox (Friday Fiction)

Hello, everyone! I have the lovely distinction of hosting Friday Fiction this week. I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, starting next month, so hopefully, there will be some fun excerpts to share in the next few weeks. 

To join in the Friday Fiction fun, just add the link to your story to the linky widget below. Don't forget to read and comment. We love feedback.

A/N: I think this is the very first ghost story of any kind that I've actually tried my hand at. This was done for a prompt line, "she couldn't put the spider down his shirt, so she stuck it in his lunch" and it could be any length, but preferably under one page. I managed to fit it in one page, but the story itself is probably pure fluff, as I cannot seem to write anything vaguely "terrifying" on demand. Hehe. Thanks for reading and happy weekend! 

“Should we scare them?” Lesa’s silvery form hovered in the corner outside the door of the Men’s locker room. “Quit hiding in there and come on out.”

“I’m not hiding!” Eric floated through the door a second later, twisting and tugging at his wispy white jersey. “What is it now—aw, really? More of them?” He scowled down at the huddled group of students picking their way through the darkened hallway of the abandoned school wing. “We just did this.”

“I know, Boo.” Lesa swirled up next to him, planting a kiss on one cheek. “But it’s such fun to scare them. I wish they’d come every month, the year is boring except for Halloween.”

“Only you would think it was fun,” Eric said. He sucked in a breath, preparing to blow it out in a frosty gale that would send the student trespassers running for home.

Lesa clapped her hands in glee. “Ooh, do let me help, please?”

Eric rolled his eyes skyward, but waved a hand to encourage her. She grinned, a wolfish gleam in her eyes as she drew in a healthy breath and blew out in the same instant that he did. Every flashlight in the group flickered. Dangling posters along the wall fluttered wildly, helpless in the sudden gust of icy wind.

Nearly every girl shrieked, along with a few yells from the startled boyfriends. Seconds later, first round of bickering broke out amongst the coupled pairs.

Lesa and Eric watched with curious, unseeing eyes, as the group leader seemed to be having it out with his petite girlfriend. “They’re so much like us,” Lesa sighed. “The poor darlings. They don't know what they have, not everyone can be a ghost you know.”

“Not quite like us. I’m pretty sure she didn’t stick bugs in his-”

“It was once and it was a spider and it was my lunch that I gave you! How can you still be harping on this? It's been fifty years!”

“You were going to let me eat it!” He snapped at her. A distinct chill settled in the shadowed corridor, his ghostly aura expanding as his arms crossed over his chest. “You wouldn’t have said a word. You were going to let me-”

Lesa sniffed. “Fine, so what if I was? It was your fault, you started it. If you hadn't put one on my head, I wouldn't have had to-"

"Oh, so now it's my fault?"

"It's always your fault. Just because there was an itsy bitsy spider in your lunch, didn’t mean you had to come tromping along in all your muscly glory to shove me down the stairs for it! You could've picked it out.”

“It was an accident!”

“Oho and by accident you just happened to tumble after me?”

Eric slapped a hand on his forehead. “That was the real accident, look, babe, just-just let it go, huh? Let’s have some fun tonight.” He held out a hand. "There's what, eight of them there? One who gets them out of the building first, wins." 

Lesa sniffled, then reached over and grabbed his hand. They ghosted through the arguing pair below, shutting them up in short order.

(c) Sara Harricharan 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Photograph (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Vonnie, over at her blog "My Backdoor Ministry." Stop by to read and share in the writing fun. 

A/N: This was a prompt piece written for my university's creative writing club this week, as per the given prompt. The idea was to be written in 500 words or one page, whichever came first and the prompt was "Cop". I think I've been watching too much NCIS this week. Oops. Enjoy the read!

The scent of raspberry tart wafted up from the bakery all the way to the upstairs apartment. The door was answered by a blonde woman with a kimono-style dressing gown hanging off her bony shoulders and a half-chewed croissant in hand.

Upon taking in the entire team of police officers and detectives in the hallway, she stuffed the rest of the croissant in her mouth before allowing us to enter. We all did, standing as carefully as we could in a neatly organized sitting space where everything was either white or beige.

Her eyes were red and bloodshot and she hugged her arms to herself after locking and bolting the door once we were all inside.

“Callie,” Detective Allen reached into his jacket pocket. “We were hoping that you could-”

“You said the last time was the last time.” Her voice was cracked and hoarse as if she hadn’t spoken yet for the day.

Considering the hour was only eight o’ clock, I assumed she’d been up for at least some time. Then again, some degree of blindness was necessary for the hideous kaleidoscope of color that made up her kimono-dressing gown.

Little feet came pattering into the room, a curly-headed boy in blue footie-pajamas with a death grip on a tall travel mug with a rubber band around the middle. He went straight for his mother, holding up the steaming offering. She called him a sweet boy and took the cup, bending down to his height to point him to the kitchen with directions for breakfast. She sent him off with a kiss to one chubby cheek.

Detective Allen stared down at his scuffed shoes and waited until the boy was in the kitchen. “They made me come, Callie,” he said. He held his hands out, palms up. “I promised Rafe I wouldn’t badger you and I’m not here to-”

“Spare me. Make your case,” her voice was clipped. She straightened and took a sip from the steaming mug. “I don’t want your useless excuses.”  

So he did. We all did. We told her about Toro Angelico and how they were smuggling children across closed borders, using them as carriers for drugs and selling them into wretched futures. We took turns, speaking at length. She drained her cup at the end.

“Please,” Detective Allen drew out the last photograph taken of Toro before he’d been released from custody. “Can you help us this once? I’ll do everything I can to get you off the list again.” She took the photograph and handed him the cup.

I’d never seen a metamorphic work before, but it was terrifying. Her bony shoulders jerked and twisted in an unnatural way as her forgettable face became fat, stubbled and scarred. A smirk touched her moistened lips. “What is it you want to ask me, detective?” The accent was unnerving coming from a face that did not belong on an obviously feminine body. “Something you cannot ask on the record?” 

(c) Sara Harricharan

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NaNoWrimo Prep: Book Cover (2013)

Well, it took me the greater part of an hour, but I think I have something that resembles the image in my head for this year's NaNo Novel.

I've finally decided on the title of Broken Glass with the logline, "Something twice broken can't be once repaired." I may change that later on, but for the most part, that's what I've got. The FMC's name is finally official, Cynthia Harlocke. I'm so excited!

It took forever to decide on a name that I truly loved and I think her best friend's name is shaping up to be Marcella or Marliandra, something like that. We'll see.

Anyway, that's the story behind the new cover and banner. Let me know what you think and feel free to share some of your own NaNoPrep adventures. Did you settle on a title for your NaNo? How 'bout a cover or banner? Let me know in the comments below. I'll be happy to swing by and take a look.

If you want to find me on NaNo, click here for the link to my profile. Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's NaNo Time! (2013)

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

Can you guess what time of year it is?

If the post title didn't give you the most obvious hint, then please plug your ears while I scream at the top of my lungs--well, I guess, I mean, I could type in capital letters or something. Never mind, that. Ignore the hyper.

It's NaNoWriMo time!

I am gearing up in full Nano mode and you can expect plenty of nano-themed posts to be making their way out of my brain, down my fingertips and onto this blog. Currently, I'm dealing with the student headache known as "midterms" so all coherency in regards to NaNo, will have to wait until I'm done.

In the meantime though, if you were waiting for the news alert, here it is!

This year's Nano theme is 8-bit, so check out the cool retro graphics employed for this year, like the 8-bit coffee mug on my ML badge. Yes, I am back again for another year of MLing. It's about as addictive as the novel-writing itself. ;) I've earned my year 3 pin and I can't wait to get some nano-themed pictures up.

Until midterms are over,
Happy writing!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Six Weeks (Friday Fiction)

I have the lovely distinction of hosting Friday Fiction this week. To join in the Friday Fiction fun, just add the link to your story to the linky widget below. Remember to keep your stories PG-13. Don't forget to read and comment. We all love the feedback. Happy weekend! 

A/N: Hey everyone! Sorry for the long wait, I guess we're having Friday Fiction on a Saturday after all. It's just been a really big week for me (midterms), and so I've been scrambling to get papers written, tests taken and all of that other fun college student "stuff". At any rate, I didn't have a chance to proof the next section of the Greybell story, so I'm posting this little oneshot I whipped up this afternoon. I hope you enjoy it and next week, I'll try to get back to Nena, Andy and Liandra. Happy weekend!

Carla fumbled in her purse for the membership card, crossing her toes for luck as she shuffled the handful of plastic debit and credit cards. It took a moment, but she found the one she wanted and slid it through the card reader, jamming the rest into her coat pockets.

The gloomy grey gate beeped at her, the security light winking, before it swung open with a quiet click. The hallway was barely lit, as usual and her footsteps echoed on the damp concrete floor as she scurried down to the door at the end where the green light signaled a vacancy.

Here, she swiped the membership card again, keying in the passcode before swiping an available credit card. The transaction took a few minutes and then asked for program selection and physical verification. Carla tapped through the presented options and selected the time slot of half-an-hour and then reached inside her shirt for the fat gold locket. Clicking open the catch, she held up the contents to the tiny robotic eye.

The lens readjusted and after a moment, a thin net of green light shot out and analyzed the curled lock of hair and the faded photograph. A congratulatory message flashed on the screen, then a progress bar blinked to life beneath it.

Building visuals and checking data match…

Carla tucked her cards back into her purse and then pulled the cuffs of her hoodie over the palms of her hand. Today was an early work day. She’d been up and on her feet since four-thirty, dealing with idiots and non-idiots alike. She still had to pick up her mother’s prescription and cash her father’s bi-monthly paycheck.

Her parents would not expect her for at least another hour, her mother at least. Her father would be too busy to notice unless there was no dinner on the table. For now, she had time enough.

The card reader beeped and a deposit box slid open below the reader. Shrugging off her purse, hat and her locket, Carla dropped them inside and accepted the ticket that would allow her to retrieve them when her time was up.

The dingy door swung open into a blinding white light.

Squinting into the brightness, Carla inched through the doorway and tried not to flinch when she heard the door clang shut. The lights flickered and dimmed as her vision adjusted, before a virtual backdrop of green grass, blue sky and stick-like trees were projected on the blank walls.

She tried to focus on the crooked burn on the back of her left hand, the painful hangnail on her right pointer finger and the way that her shoelaces were tied unevenly as the gaudy pixelated images sharpened until they were so fine and delicate, she could almost believe they were real.

The lack of wind was remedied a moment later when the air vents at the corners of the room switched on and a white noise chatter seemed to filter through with it. A generic wooden bench slowly formed in front of her and Carla gingerly perched on the edge, twisting her hands in her lap.

This was always the worst part.

“Carla? Is that you?”

She bit her lip and squeezed her eyes shut, hands tightly clenched into fists.

No, this part was always worst.


She forced a smile and turned to greet her grandfather. He looked just the way he always did, a little worried for her sake, a little more wrinkled than she remembered, but always, always so steady and comforting.

“Grandpa!” She was off the bench and hurtling towards him.

He caught her easily in a hug and held on tight while she sniffled and bawled and babbled incoherently into his chest. She cried until her voice was rough and hiccupped as the tears eventually stopped on their own.

Her grandfather guided her back to the park bench and sat her down next to him, one arm wrapped around her thin shoulders. He pressed her head to the crook of his shoulder and hummed softly, an old lullaby from years ago.

When she tugged on the hem of his workshirt—he always wore the same uniform as her father had—he stopped humming and smiled down at her. “Feel better?”

“Yeah. A little.”

“I didn’t think I’d see you this week.”

“…I worked late on Tuesday,” Carla took a careful breath. “It was a lousy week.”

“Tell me about it.”

She did.

He listened, never interrupting, but always having just the right sort of thing to say or the right sort of pause that let her continue explaining about her work, the new management rules and how her mother was too sick for two weeks in a row.

“…be sure you’re resting enough.” He warned, threading a hand through her fine hair. “And eating. You don’t sound like you have enough time for anything.”

“I don’t,” Carla admitted. “I honestly don’t. I don’t even know how I’ve made it this far.”

“But you’re close to the end, aren’t you?” He asked, referring to the internship. It had been just the break she’d needed at the time, but sticking it through to the end was the real challenge.

“Six more weeks.”

He chuckled. “You’ll do it.”

“I hope so,” she slowly began to straighten up, a flicker of sadness filtering through her eyes. “I really hope so.”

“That’s my girl,” he praised. “Make me proud.”

Tears shimmered, threatening to spill once more, but she blinked them back and made herself smile even as his digital form twitched and fizzled, the timer on the door, chiming for the remaining thirty-seconds.

“Always,” she whispered, watching as the figure pixelated and exploded into tiny fragments of floating blue light. It swarmed around her, briefly, cool to the touch, before the air vents along the ceiling sucked it away.

The timer buzzed loudly, the projected atmosphere and setting slowly vanishing away, taking the light with it, until four, drab grey walls greeted her. Carla shuffled to the door and stepped out into the damp hallway once more.

She gathered her things from the deposit bin when it opened and hurried out with the same speed she’d entered. She thought of her coworkers and then her poor parents. Six more weeks, she reminded herself. Six more weeks and then she would be certified for one of the prestigious IT positions.

Once certified, she wouldn’t have to pay to use the virtual reality rooms. She could store more data for free and even purchase her own canister of Realistix, the evolving AI that could mimic any given creature or person with the proper DNA sample and a visual reference.

Six more weeks…

(c) Sara Harricharan
Thanks for reading!