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Current Rants and Recent Rambles

12-16-17 NaNoWriMo

Future rambles about the process of writing will be listed in the Bonsai Trailer Court section of this website.

NaNo Congrats

Nano Winner Badge
NaNo 2017 Winner
What I was doing during October (PrepTober) and NaNoWriMo in November of 2017. The NaNoWriMo challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed that in 19 days. In 30 Days I wrote 74,817 words. What I'm doing for December is still writing this novel. After editing for a couple of weeks it's down to 66k words, but that's because some of what I wrote was background setting, character background, and I moved that text to the research folder.

Scrivener picture

Buy Scrivener, the best and cheapest software for writing of any type: fiction, non-fiction, screenplay, you name it. It has made my life easier in keeping track of research, characters, locations, as well as being able to compile the finished work to multiple platforms, e.g., mobi for Amazon Kindle. I receive no kick back for plugging Scrivener. I just LOVE the software. So will you.
Below is the author's blurb I posed on the NaNoWriMo site.

"Saying Solly" is a short story I wrote that got published in a collection called "My Mother, Myself",

I was stunned with how long it took for the book to be published: from being asked to contribute to the collection, having the collection shopped around to have numerous publishers turn it down, to the Editors deciding to publish it themselves as an indie project. It took years. 

What I did discover during those years was the flourishing indie author/publishing phenomena and through that I discovered NaNoWriMo. I've been thinking of signing up for a few years and always had reasons why that was not a good time. Now is a good time. New Moon in Libra with a Grand Fire Trine with Sag Saturn, Aries Uranus, and Leo North Node. 

Bio: Wilted Flower Child Rice Cracker Boomer, mom of 4 grown men, grandma to 5 young humans. BA in English Literature/Minor in Linguistics at SFSU, 1984. Retired from doing the Clerk and Jerk in the corporate arena. A devoted tech geek since 1989. My first PC didn't have a HDD but I was a Floppy Disk Flipping Ninja, you betcha. 

After escaping the grey cubicle maze of Corporate America I taught polymer clay online for a Jupiter cycle (around 12 years) via CITY-o-Clay Yahoo Group (now gone fallow) and I have a gig of tutorials available at my main website NoraJean.com, which is like the Winchester Mystery House. Navigate that website like a spelunker. 

For my Second Saturn Return ( age 58) I lost 140 pounds of unnecessary flesh (I divorced him), hung out my virtual shingle as a feral astrologer (I don't got to show you no stinking certificates) and set up a website section for my astrology electronic footprint at AuntyAlias.com, which is like a little prefab cottage plunked down in the middle of the Winchester Mystery House. 

As part of my Second Saturn Return transformation I volunteered to the San Francisco Astrological Society in 2011. I am now the VP and Director of Publicity and Outreach. I broadcast original content of other astrologers on 6 social network platforms daily, as well as other admin as assigned.

I've purchased a copy of Scrivener and have been futzing about with it, toying with a story that has been as persistent as a case of herpes. It keeps on cropping up when I least expect it. To exorcise this story I figure NaNoWriMo is as good a place as any to start labor and delivery of this persistent story. But just as one baby lead to another in my real life I know another story is lined up after this herpetic persistent one, once it's out of the birthing channel. 

My intention is to publish my own works via indie publishing, make a nickel and a dime to make up for not having a 401K in my old age. I'm too old and cranky to open a brothel so pursuing writing seems a more honorable venture. One thing about being an author is you don't have to be young or beautiful.

3:26 AM
I was checking my website and realized that the Word Press platform for my son's Kung Fu section was belly up. This is why I'm not going to use Word Press as a blogging platform. I've been writing Rambles here on my site for over a decade and one thing about static HTML pages, that I back up to an external HDD is they hardly ever go belly up. If they do I can reload them from my back up. I found tonight that I can't do that for my son's Kung Fu section. I also realized this is the second time this year, 2017, that his part of the website has gone wonky.

Why am I sharing this with you? Just to explain why I am updating my home page and the Monthly Highlight page. I also have to prepare to clear the home page and prepare for 2018. My website records on my external HDD go back to 2004, but I know I had a handful of GeoCity sites for a few years before then. When GeoCity closed down I figured it was time to buy a domain and sell my soul to a webhost.

Six webhosts later and I'm still nattering into the wee hours. Sagittarius Sun is trine Aries Uranus, right about now... let me check. 12-16-17, 3:27AM PST: http://www.planetwatcher.com/#1513423620 yup I started this ramble a minute before the exact transit.

I've been volunteering for the San Francisco Astrological Society since 2011, if memory serves me correctly. But like an addiction or a bad penny that keeps on showing up I'm being pulled back into writing fiction. If you've not been to the Bonsai Trailer Court section of this website. Go check out some short stories I wrote around the mid 1980s. Most were written for Creative Writing classes at San Francisco State University.

I can remember the first short story I wrote in 1962 while attending Woodrow Wilson Jr. High, in Oakland CA. It was a SciFi time travel story that took place in my Social Studies class. I shared it with my teacher, a tall white guy with a prodigious moustache, and he shared it with some other teachers and that's the last I saw of that story and I didn't have another copy. I do remember feeling pretty nifty that the story got laughs from my class mates and the grown ups were impressed. I didn't get that sort of feedback from home.

I was an arty farty sort of student all the way through the junior year of High School. I went to Galileo High School in San Francisco, a year or so behind OJ Simpson. I had already met my first husband and at 16 I got pregnant and had to finish my education through correspondence school while we moved around when he was in the Navy. The last of my HS education was through John Addams Adult School in San Francisco.

I had to leave High School and get married at 16. I graduated High School at 21, the same year I was divorced by my first husband and he parentally kidnapped my two sons, aged 3 and 5. I survived without knowing how to drive a car or work a job.

I lucked out and met my second husband, Martin Stone, about whom I have nothing but good things to say. He showed me the ropes of how to go to college. Some of the tips he gave me I shared in Quora recently. Let me see if I can find them...

1) The best advice I received before starting college was this: Being smart isn't measured by what you can pull out of your head but by what you know how to look up. Back in my day that meant taking “Library Sciences” because we were searching microfiche, poking about in the stacks at the library. Now days it means knowing how to use the traditional library services but also how to search online and how to know when online information is valid.

2) Know if you are a letter person or a number person. If you're going to study topics that require you to write essays then get your writing skills polished in the first and second semester. If you are going to study topics that require math then get your math skills together. A numbers person would do well to polish up their writing. I'm was an English Literature Major with a Linguistics Minor and I was able to avoid having to do any math in college.

3) For the letter person: If you take classes that have a required reading list buy those books at the start of the semester. Also buy the list of books that are recommended. Before the first day of class look inside of those books.

4) If you are introverted and have a hard time speaking in public take a public speaking class ASAP. I've know people who graduated with a teaching degree and found they could not speak in front of a class of young students. Speaking in class is difficult for foreign students. Some classes weigh in class participation as 30% of the grade. Learn how to speak up and be confident.

5) For all new students: Interview your prospective professors. Make an appointment, ask what are the required and recommended reading lists. Ask the professor how much in class participation is going towards the final grade. Ask if giving oral reports can be an option to writing a report. Sound out the professor to see if you can have a connection to them. Do they have a sense of humor? Are they stand offish? I interviewed my professors for the next year during the current year. My only ally that mattered in a class was the person teaching it.

6) For all semesters take a couple of classes that go toward the General Education Requirement, one class to build your skills (letter or number), and one class that is your elective. Repeat until you have all your General Education Requirement classes done. Have your electives make sense to you, e.g., American History with an Asian American perspective. I've known people who took all the classes for Marine Biology and after two years decided they didn't want to go in that direction and they had none of their General Education Requirement classes done. College is expensive. Don't waste your time.

7) If you have a person who is blind in any of your classes ask them if they need a reader. Not only are you going to get paid to read to them, or read into a recorder for them to listen to later, but you also do not have to buy the books for that class. You also have a study buddy. This also improves your public speaking but also your reading skills having to read content out loud. Try explaining geology to a person blind from birth. It stretches your brain.

8) When writing reports for a class find out who is the professor's Teaching Assistant. If you know that the TA is a progressive female, for example, you can write to that audience. Little known tactic but it works. Being able to “switch code” to appeal to the reader is a skill you will need in real life.

9) I was able to make money tutoring classes I took the year before. Sometimes I was able to tutor classes I was taking that semester but I had to get permission from the professor. This is through the college. If where you're going to school does not have a tutoring service you can make money tutoring informally. Charge by the hour. I've sold my class notes and I would charge by the page plus photo copy costs. Tutoring reinforces the information for you and can also help you make some money on the side.

10) When choosing your classes know where they are located on the campus. You don't want to have to run from one end of the campus to the other, schlepping your books and gear, to get to a class that starts 10 minutes after the one you are leaving. You will burn yourself out. Cluster your classes as close to each other as possible. Also factor in your Work/Study location too.

11) Lastly: regular eats, regular sleeps, study a bit every day. Cramming during an all nighter before a test does not work. The night before a big exam should be spent eating well, taking a soak in the tub, and getting rest. Then the next morning eat a good breakfast and saunter into the exam all bright eyed and bushy tailed. You’ll finish the exam before anyone else and walk out while they are still bent over their blue books.

I was 35 when I graduated with a BA in English Literature. I was 40 when I was accepted into the Graduate department of Creative writing. Just in time for the 1989 Loma Preita earthquake. We got rocked and rolled here at Park Merced. I spent 25 years trying to get an apartment here so I could walk to class. I ended up doing that aforementioned clerk and jerk at the corporate grey cubicle farms down in the Financial District.

I took early retirement at 62 and it coincided with my last divorce becoming final. I spent a few years doing the lube job and oil change on my mortal coil: 5 extractions and 5 gold crowns and a partial, a total knee replacement, and the Hep C cure. Now all I have to deal with are my frozen shoulders but typing doesn't take a lot of arm swinging so that's ok.

I'm sharing this with y'all because my path to becoming a published author has been a long one. I've had to get to a point in my life where I am not beholding to any man other than Uncle Sam for my Social Security. I can be up at 4:08 AM typing away to God Knows Who will read this Ramble and I don't have some man telling me I have to come to bed.

The next person who tells me to turn out the bedside light because it is disturbing their peace I'll whack them with my Kindle Fire and kick them out of the bed.

My two younger sons, Tosh and Said, both say I've been studying for this writer's life for about 40 years. Tosh says "You're over qualified for NaNoWriMo." I guess I was. I was surprised that I could write 1,500 words an hour with the night wind behind me. I was intimidated years ago with the 50,000 word challenge and when I got it done in 19 days I was just gobsmacked. Years of being an English major, a secretary, a computer geek, and an avid reader has lead to my being able to crank out original content quicker than the average bear. (Yogi Bear fans would laugh at that.)

What I'm wrestling with my novel now is the plot. There are Plotters and there are Pantsers. Plotters write out an outline and break it up into acts, chapters, action beats to the chapters. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants and that's what I did. Now I have 66K words and I'm not sure where these characters are going.

I have a half dozen characters and another half dozen random characters that are like extras in a movie.

I am working on creating an arc for each character. There has to be development as they face obstacles in the way of what they want in the story. Once I get the arc worked out the end of the story might manifest as a logical outcome.

I need to add conflict, both inner and outer conflict.

I need to give them motivation to move the plot forward.

I need to create "Breaking News" blurbs that add to the atmosphere in the setting.

I need to give one of the main characters a name. I know who I am fashioning him after but I got to change the names to protect the guilty.

I've given a two section to friends and the feed back has been positive. But I'm holding my cards close to my chest on the story line.

It is a near future dystopian occult story with inter dimensional time travel, set in San Francisco.

I need to make reference to climate change. Remind me, ok?

I have a feeling that this story is suited for a series of novels. Some of the secondary characters are so fun that they might need a separate novel of their own, like a spin off of a TV show.

I will be doing late night nattering about this work in progress here on my website. I've missed goofing around with it.

First this website was for Polymer Clay tutorials. Then I went off to do astrology for a spell. Now I want to write and birth this novel. So the website's focus will evolve as I evolve.

I feel like I've come full circle in my life. Illustrating my own book covers will be something I look forward to. Maybe doing some illustrations inside of the books, like China Mieville or Neil Gaiman.

One thing about being a writer I can do this until I fall over dead on my keyboard. Being older and having life experiences are only fodder for fiction.

Stay tuned. I'll be back for more wee hour ramblings.

4:35 AM
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