NaNoWriMo 2010

It’s that time again.

You know, that time when I neglect my family and home (and this blog) in order to frantically type dialogue and description and the like to meet my word count for the day, trying to finish a 50,000-word novel.

Here’s my post on it from last year, and if you click here you can follow how things went for me in 2009.

I’m going for it again this year.  Wish me luck.

Image is Keyboard-blur by striatic at Flickr.


Housecleaning, Feb. 1, 2010

Several items here:

1. I’m having a lot of trouble commenting on various blogspot blogs recently.  I can sometimes manage it if I use my laptop, but my main ‘puter doesn’t even pop up a comments box for me.  I suspect that it may be the spam-and-porn blocker installed on the main ‘puter, but I’m not taking that down – I have kids.  OTOH, there are some blogs I never have trouble with.  I don’t know what the diff is.  Also, I’ve recently done some esoteric adjustments that supposedly should prevent people from having trouble commenting here, but I don’t know if they worked.  If you’ve tried to comment since Jan. 29 and weren’t able to for some reason, please drop me a note at malsnano86 at gmail dot com.

2. I am completely snowed under with samples at the moment.  Completely.  While this is actually a very delicious crisp pickle, a pickle it is.  I’m not going to be able to do any more swaps for awhile until I strap my head on very tightly.  Sigh.  If I’ve already emailed you about swaps, I’ll finish those because I’ve already budgeted time for them.  But I can’t add any new ones for… oh, gosh… at least several weeks.

3. As I may have mentioned once or thrice before, I didn’t actually… um… finish my NaNoWriMo novel this past November, and have set aside the month of February to complete it.  It’s mostly written, but there are several holes to patch, and I’m still having difficulties with the timeline.  (The timeline thing is my fault, mostly.  If the relevant bits of story take place over 25-30 years or so, how do you incorporate past and present? Flashbacks are cheesy.  There’s the diary option, which might be pressed into service, given that my protagonist is an English-lit professor who presumably might be a journaler.  Then there’s just the possibility of telling the story straight out, with gaps when nothing really happens, but that’s disjointed.  This stinks.)  In any case, I’ll be drastically reducing my posting frequency here at the blog to twice a week.  Don’t worry, I will be back.

Image is Housecleaning by moline at flickr.


NaNoWriMo 2009: I DID IT!!!

Okay, so technically it was more like 29 days and 51,094 words… but who’s counting? 
Ha ha.  Me, obviously.  And the nice people at NaNoWriMo, too.  In fact, my OpenOffice document swears on a stack of Bibles that my novel is 51,787 words; I don’t know what the heck the difference is between the two word count widgets, but BOY, am I glad I wrote that extra scene. 
Here’s some more statistics for the month of November:
Extra cups of coffee: 23
Loads of laundry done solo by The CEO, graciously picking up slack: 26
School lunches for Gaze and Taz flung into bags at the Very Last Minute Before We’ll Be Late, because Mom had a hard time dragging herself out of bed: 15

Pounds of food (turkey breast, ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry gelatin salad, celery sticks, and pumpkin pie) prepared for Thanksgiving, unfinished novel notwithstanding: 29
Blog entries posted, including this one: 8
Late nights: too many to count
Christmas gifts purchased: zero  (Ack, better get crankin’!)

Here’s the kicker: I’m not even finished.  There’s more story… I only got through 68% of the scenes I intended to write.  The ones I did write – well, they need careful editing.  It might be more accurate to say they need lopping with a chain saw, so there’s still a lot of work ahead of me.

But now I know I can do it.  It might take me another month (how’s, oh, February?  February’s pretty quiet), but now I know what I’m capable of.  I’m so proud of me.

NaNoWriMo 2009 Winner’s Badge from  Go check ’em out, seriously.


Week Three, NaNoWriMo 2009

So here’s what’s burning my britches:

Sunday afternoon I’m counting up all my words from all the scenes I’ve written, most of them through the fabulously stern Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die widget, and I’m excited because I’m ahead of schedule now – 38,203 words written, according to my math, and I should be at the 36,674 point. Yay me… so I go and start saving all these scenes into a big long (and I mean long!) document so I can upload it to the NaNoWriMo official word counter.  And then I check the word count for the entire document, and it says, “34,959.”  What?!? Less than 35K? 

Less than 35K?  So where did it go?  Is my math that bad?  You wouldn’t think someone with a degree in accounting would have that much trouble adding stuff…  Oh, okay, forgot this little piece of a scene I wrote and somehow saved in the wrong spot; let’s add that in.  New count: 36,003.  What!?! Where are my other two thousand words?!?

Turns out, see, that the WriteOrDie wordcount works differently than the OpenOfficeDocument wordcount –  WriteOrDie being the cheerful optimist with rose-colored glasses, curse it.  Totally out of character for a program that punishes you for seven seconds of no keystrokes by playing the most heeeedious noises you could imagine (babies crying, air raid sirens, untuned violins, shrieking alarm clocks, you name it).  To get the noise to stop, all you have to do is start typing again.  Simple but brilliant, right?

Actually, it is brilliant, and I’m going to keep using it.  I’ll just be checking word counts very thoroughly in a serious word-processing program from now on.  New word count as of midnight, 11/22: 38,482. So there. 

And the other thing I want to know is, Why is my face all broken out?  Am I that stressed?  It’s not That Time, I haven’t been eating loads of chocolate (all right, fine, I did have a square – ONE square – of NewTree Dark Chocolate with Ginger last week), and I haven’t had any Diet Dr. Pepper, which, although I love it, tends to break me out.  And I have been cleaning my face with the same cleanser and using the same brand of noncomodegenic makeup I always use.  I don’t get it.

Scents worn in Week Three:
Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea, custom samples of three versions: Zero Patchouli, Half the Patchouli of the Original, and Different Patchouli than the Original. Winner: 50% Patch.  Gorgeous.  Exactly what I wanted – pipe tobacco, dry leaves, grass, spice cookies, damp moss, golden sunshine, leather jacket, warm skin, and stolen kisses. Whoa baby. Laurie Erickson is a genius.
Chanel Bois des Iles, Les Exclusifs, decant: sandalwood, cool iris, warm gingerbread. Why does this seem thinner than my sample?  It smells like the right smell, but disappears faster and has less presence.
Teo Cabanel Alahine sample: a mellow, happy Party In a Bottle, complete with “candles at the window, carols at the spinet.”
Guerlain Chamade parfum de toilette, decant: a green-and-gold springtime.  (Is it sacrilege to say that this is beautiful but not as good as Parfums de Nicolai’s Le Temps d’une Fete?  I’m sayin’ it anyway.  Luca Turin’s right, Guerlain (LVMH) should hire Guerlain granddaughter Patricia de Nicolai as head nose.) In any case, I’ve now written the Chamade scenes into the novel.  Now I can stop feeling so seasonally disoriented – no wonder I’ve been reaching for the cool-weather stuff when I’m not at the laptop. I can’t believe, now, that for so many years I wore one perfume at a time.  Freesia and peony in the winter? Thank goodness I can leave the whole “signature perfume” idea behind.

Top image is wordfind by thinkroni at  Bottom image is Alahine, from


Week Two, NaNoWriMo 2009

I’m a little behind.  (Ba-dum-bum.)

Hindered by feeling yucky, and the fact that people need clothes ironed and lunches packed and bathrooms cleaned, yada yada, and the fact that in all this mess, somehow I’m actually expected to go to work, I haven’t been working as hard as I should.

Not to mention that I got mad at one of my characters and didn’t want to write about him at all, and I got bored with the other major character – she was too nicey-nice.  Well, I fixed that all right, mwah ha ha!  She’s going to do a few questionable things, and that’s fun to write about. And I started fleshing out an uninhibited minor character, so that should help too. Tonight, the 18th, I should be at 30K words, and I’m not – I’m sitting on 29,213.  But it’s still doable.  In fact, if I stop blogging right now, I could probably go write another 1000… okay, probably not. 

Scents worn in week two:
Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur – stupid name, lovely scent.  Plum, white flowers, and a milky, ambery base that is sweet and smooth without being sugary. In fact, the drydown reminds me of creme brulee.  One of the few that lasts and lasts on me. Makes my sweaters smell great.

Teo Cabanel Alahine sample – Wow.  This freebie sample is a favorite of Abigail’s – see her review at IsmellthereforeIam blog here.  Smells like, for some reason even I cannot pinpoint, Christmas.  In fact, what it’s reminding me of is the Madrigal Dinners we chorus students produced at college: clove oranges, curried fruit, dusty music books, lit candles, slightly-musty costumes, evergreen branches hiding the Federal style mouldings on the ballroom walls… not that I actually smell all of that, but I think I’m getting olfactory illusion here.  Which is nice, actually.  Mad Dinners were so much fun.

Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea custom blend – I had this huge, head-over-heels emotional reaction to the standard version, only slightly marred by the patchouli it contains.  It’s nice patch, actually – grassy and fresh-smelling, not dusty and not the synthetic-y “clean” patch that seems to inhabit so many mainstream scents lately.  But patchouli has a way of simply hijacking my nose away from the whole composition, so that all I smell is patchouli.  Laurie Erickson was kind enough to make me a few custom samples to choose from: one with no patchouli, one with 50% patchouli, and one with a different grade of patchouli.  I think the 50% patch is winning, at this stage.  I love it.

Just like last week, I highly recommend that you go smell something good, read something good, and hug someone you love.  And I’ll add one more: eat something good.

Image is Butt by Shooting the Kids at flickr.


Week One, NaNoWriMo 2009

So, how’s it going?

Pretty good.  At least, I’ve written five of the seven days, and am sitting at 13,912 words with loads more to come and no writer’s block so far.  Also, everyone has eaten this week, including two bottle-fed calves named Davy and Beth, and no one has run out of underwear.  (Must give props to The CEO for doing laundry, though: ten loads.  Eek.  Note to self:  don’t add any more children to the family.) I’m still looking waaay, way up at the top of the hill, but I can see it.

Scents worn this week:
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille sample.  Smells like gingerbread, which is kind of nice if you like that sort of thing, which I do, but it’s ungodly expensive for something that smells like, hello, gingerbread.  Honestly, I’d rather just bake some.
Guerlain Chamade vintage parfum de toilette.  Smells like spring.  Is allllll wrong for this time of year, but one of my characters wears it. 
Coty Ex-clam-a-tion!  Smells like rose+violet+face powder, drenched in syrup.  Was this an advance entry into the “I’m a teenager, I must smell like dessert” running?  Same character wears this one at a different stage of life.  She prefers Chamade, and I must say, so do I.
Guerlain Shalimar Light/Eau Legere, two different versions.  Review may show up this week, if I manage to post it.  Watch this space…

I have instructions for people who want something good to happen to them this week:

Go smell something good, even if it’s just dry leaves outside and some homemade gingerbread inside.  (There, now you won’t owe Tom Ford $170 for the 50ml bottle.  Or you could put a pouch of flavored pipe tobacco next to a bottle of Bath and Body Works’ Ginger Vanilla body wash, and pretty much get the same experience.)

Go read something good.  Comic books are fun, but they do NOT count.  Sorry. You only get a pass on this one if you have a newborn baby at home.

Go hug someone you love.

You have your instructions.

Image is Montsant, climbing up hill, by Monique vd Hoeven at flickr.


You Win Some, You Lose Some

You know who holds the record for the most losses by a major league pitcher?

Denton True “Cy” Young.

Yeah, that guy.  The one they named the award for, the one that honors the best major league pitcher each year.  The guy that pitched 21 seasons, the one who still – even close to a hundred years after he retired, in 1911 – holds the record for the most wins by a major league pitcher.

Total losses: 316.
Total wins: 511.

A lesson for us all.

Especially for me.  This is my second attempt at NaNoWriMo.  I failed last year, only racking up 47,000 words (“winning” means you wrote 50K during the month of November).  But that was last year.  Ol’ Cy lost a bunch of games, too, and it didn’t stop him.

So it can’t stop me.

I probably won’t post full-blown articles here for awhile, just brief notes on how things are going, with the occasional Scent of the Day comment, or something short like that.  I’ll be back in full swing in December.

Image is from wikipedia.  Click on the link to read more about Cy Young at


National Novel Writing Month Is Coming Up Fast

Holy cow, it’s nearly the end of September, and you know what that means – October.  And once October is over, then that means it’s November.  (Duh.)  And you know what that means…

If you have somehow been living under a rock… oh, no condemnation here!  I barely know the roster of the  Virginia Tech football team, which amazes my husband and children; they think I live under that rock… here’s the scoop, straight from the NaNoWriMo website:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.
Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Now… what am I gonna do this year? Write that romance story that’s been in my head for, oh, 13 years? Sounds like a plan. I didn’t finish last year. I got to 45K words and just had to stop and Deal With Life. It’s terribly sad for my poor characters; Sara and Mariella and Tony and Colin and William all languish somewhere on a floppy disc. Which is bad, because I now have a new computer that has no floppy drive. And I never finished the thing because I lost my momentum, trying to keep a house clean and people fed and the like. How on earth do they expect a mother to take the time to do this sort of thing?
I hereby direct myself to cease and desist the whining.  If I’m going to do it, I’m just going to have to do it.  I mean, the world will be just fine without the story of Deena and Troy, but if I write them down, maybe they’ll get out of my head and leave me alone… 
To visit the NaNoWriMo home page:   (If you set up your own account, you can look me up – I’m Mals86.) 
Top image is keyboard- blur by striatic at flickr.   NaNoWriMo web badge is available to participants and kindly provided by