Stan Lee Reads Poe’s The Raven

First of all, Happy Halloween.  I’m currently typing this while dressed as a Mummy.  Not very original, but very cheap to pull off.  Maybe I’ll post some pictures.  If you’re nice.

Secondly, in honor of Halloween, I wanted to post a link to Stan Lee (of Marvel Comics fame) reading Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. FYI The Raven is my favorite poem of all time.

Third, I’ve been averaging 300 views here a day for the past week or so.  That’s mostly fueled by my story Frank, a cute little Halloween story I wrote a few years ago.  If you haven’t read that, why not give it a try?

Well, that’s all for now.  Have a Happy Halloween!  I’m off to eat some brains, or maybe a doughnut.

Last Minute NaNoWriMo Planning

I was able to do some NaNoWriMo preparations last night and I have to say I’m very excited to write this story.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this excited about a novel length story idea before.  I love this feeling.  Is it Nov 1st yet?

What has really helped my planning is a link yesterday I found via Urban Fantasy Land.  The link is to Jim Butcher’s LiveJournal, which has a series of posts about how to plan a novel.  There’s some great stuff there regarding character creation, the “story question”, and other great information.  What I found most useful is the Story Arc. Let me just quote the whole thing here (but I want you to check out the entire post too):

“Get a BIG piece of paper. Draw a big curving arch on it. At the LEFT side of
the arch, write a brief phrase about the opening scene. At the RIGHT side,
write a brief phrase describing the climax of the book. That’s your pot of
gold at the end of the rainbow.

At the TOP of the arch, write down your BIG MIDDLE, or whatever event it is
that starts the dominoes to falling.

Then make a bunch of tick marks along the way and fill in any scenes that you
have in mind that you know you want to do. Once you’ve done that, add in some
more tick marks in between, and add in phrases describing scenes that lead
your character from one established tick mark to the next, in a logical

I tried this last night.  I think it’s a brilliant idea.  In a very visual way I can see where my story starts, where things start happening, and where it ends.  Now I can fill in all the spaces in between. I really think this is going to allow me to have a better product at the end of NaNoWriMo than I did last year.  Maybe I won’t get so lost this time.

Snowing In October

It was snowing as I was driving to work this morning. In October.  Now, it was just little flurries, and I live in Pennsylvania, so I’m used to snow, so it’s not a big deal.  Still.  Wow.  This is clearly a sign there is no such thing as global warming (I’m totally kidding, although people try to use this type of thing as an argument against global warming).  🙂

It was a rough night last night in my household.  My daughter took a late nap and therefore didn’t want to go to sleep.  If there’s a way I’m going to fail at NaNoWriMo this year, other than my crippling procrastination, it’s this.

We did have fun, though.  We watched It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and loved it, of course.  I did hit the mute button a few times when Lucy and Sallie go on their rants.  It’s weird when you watch these shows with a two year old.  Also, how many commercials can they squeeze into a half hour?

One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while is something my parents gave me on Saturday, when we went on our little hour long train ride.  It’s a button that says, “Houtzdale for Obama/Biden”.  It’s a political button, sure.  The neat part is the Houtzdale part.  Houtzdale is the tiny town in Pennsylvania I grew up in.  In tiny, I mean less than a thousand people live there.  I just like the fact that there is a  “Houtzdale for Obama/Biden”.  Yep, I’m a dork.

Cool Photo Tool

Today is turning out to be ONE OF THOSE DAYS.  Icky. So this will be brief.

I came across a fascinating photo tool on Boing Boing that I thought I’d share.  It’s called Multicolr Search Lab and it provides a cool way to search Flicr Photographs.  What you do is you choose a color and the tool brings back pictures with that color.  Then you choose another color and the tool gives you photos with both colors.  And so on.  You really should try it out.  Very addictive.

On the writing front, I’ve been thinking up some pretty cool ideas for NaNoWriMo.  These are the ideas that pop into your head while you’re driving to work and you repeat them over and over again until you can get a pen and paper and write them down.  I love that.

Oh, what am I going to be for Halloween?  I’m glad you asked.  I’m going to be a zombie.  Very original I know.  Still, it’s better than what my daughter wanted me to be for Halloween.  She wanted me to be a Care Bear.  She even suggested I could be Grumpy Bear.  Although he is the manliest of the Care Bears, I still can’t bring myself to do it.

NaNoWriMo Five Days Away

Don’t freak out or anything, but NaNoWriMo starts Saturday. This week. Can you believe it? In less than a week, all our “free time” will disappear.

I was able to get a bit of my planning done this weekend. I’m not much of a planner when it comes to writing, so if you asked me to show you my “planning” you might be looking at a blank piece of paper. That doesn’t mean I didn’t make any progress, though. Planning for me is more like thinking or brainstorming. Let’s say my brain was stormy this weekend.

More beneficial to my writing, my head cold has finally started to clear, allowing me to be able to get some thinking done. I’ll be honest. I think I have about a 30% chance of actually writing 50,000 words in November. That’s when I’m healthy. Throw in any type of illness, and I’m looking at 10%. However, to quote Han Solo, “Never tell me the odds.”

So, before Friday take my advice. Do some thinking. Do some planning. And most importantly, take some Vitamin C.

Outline Update

Just a quick note.  I’ve gotten some “outline” ideas on paper in advance of my NaNoWriMo attempt in November.  I don’t have a lot done yet, but I’m encouraged.  Yay for me!

It’s been a busy weekend.  We went to a “Haunted Granary”, went on a train ride, and made some chili. I’m painting trim today and hopefully outlining tonight.  More tomorrow.

My Hope For This Weekend


The above picture is a picture of Mulberry Street in Manhattan, circa 1900. The image is from the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division. Click on the link to see the picture in much higher resolution.

I’m not sure if I have a long post in me today. We’ll see.

My hope for this weekend is pretty simple. I hope I can make some progress on a story outline for NaNoWriMo. Yesterday, I came up with a pretty cool story idea. It’s so good, I’m not even sure I’m ready as a writer to do the story justice. I’m gonna try, though. I just need to do the work.

Tomorrow morning my sister and parents are visiting and we going on a short train ride. That should be a lot of fun. I’ll be sure to get pictures.

Yep, I don’t have a lot today. Maybe I’ll write more later. Have a nice weekend!

NaNoWriMo Planning is More than Outlining

As a *ahem* veteran winner of NaNoWriMo, I think I have a little advice for some of you who are tackling NaNoWriMo for the first time. I learned some things last year, and I figured maybe what I learned could help some of you.

Let’s talk about planning. Planning isn’t key to winning NaNoWriMo, but it does make things easier. The more you plan in October, the easier it’s going to be in November. An outline is a nice thing to have, if you are into that type of thing. If you aren’t one to outline, there is still some planning you can do to make your life better. Let me explain.

Let’s talk about the magic number: 1,667. You have to average 1,667 words per day in order to write 50,000 words in November. It’s that simple. If you don’t hit 1,667 one day, you are going to have to make it up another day. If you skip a day, that means you are going to have to write 3,334 the next day.

Take a look at the calendar. See any problem areas? How about Thanksgiving? Do you really think you are going to be able to write that day? If not, you might want to adjust your daily word count goals. If you take the word count of 50,000, divide by 29 days (without Thanksgiving), you get 1,724 words.

How about November 4th? If you are like me and into the election, chances are I’m not going to be doing very much writing that night. So, 50,000/28 = 1,785. That’s how many words I need to write per day. How about weekends? Anyhow, you get the idea.

My point is you need to think about your own personal calendar and come up with a realistic per day word count based on your reality. If you know this number going in, you have less of a chance of finding yourself behind in you writing and a much greater chance to succeed.

Me, I probably need to average 2,000 words per day.

NaNoWriMo Preparations

Now that I’ve finished with my short story contest entry, I’m turning my sights to NaNoWriMo.  What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment.

Tonight, I plan on spending some time doing some preparations for November.  Some find this fun.  I find it tedious and boring.  I hate outlining.  I have trouble coming up with outlines.  I’m much better at “seat of my pants writing.”  However, having learned a little from last year, I think I need something of an outline.

I’m not really going to attempt an outline.  What I am going to attempt is a series of sentences.  Maybe I’ll write a sentence for each chapter, to just get a rough idea what is going to happen in each chapter.  I think this will help me get an idea of where I want the story to go and more importantly how it’s going to end.  I’ve found I’m much more successful in my writing when I know how I want the story to end and work toward that ending.

For all you NaNoWriMo’ers, there is a cool thread on the message boards that have some neat calendars with daily word counts:NaNo 2008 Wallpaper (Desktop Calendars).  For those of you who are new to NaNoWriMo, the daily word count is key.  You have to stick to the word count.  If you miss one day, it makes that next day so much harder. 1667 words a day.  Do it!

Finally, if you want a little incentive to do NaNoWriMo, here it is.  I received an email this morning (and so did other winners from last year) saying I could get a free paperback copy printed by  That “free” includes shipping.  How cool is that?  All I have to do is upload my document and my story will exist for real in the world.  You can’t beat that.

The Innovator – A Short Story Excerpt

Those of you who have been reading the blog know I have been struggling with a short story for some time. Actually, I think it’s been two months. For two thousand words. Sigh. Anyhow, I finally finished the story and I thought I’d share the beginning with you all. I’d like to share the entire thing, but I don’t think I can “publish” it here and also submit it to the contest. Anyhow, here you go:

The Innovator
“Edible Velcro,” said Jesse.

“What?” said Mark.

“Edible Velcro. Velcro you can eat.”

“Why in the world would you want to eat Velcro,” said Mark. “That’s disgusting.”

“No it’s not,” continued Jesse, “and I’ll tell you why.”


“Fruit cups.”

“Fruit cups?”

“Yes fruit cups,” said Jesse. “Cups of fruit. Have you ever had a fruit cup, got that fruit all stacked up, and then the stuff keeps falling out? It’s like you could have more fruit if it wasn’t for the fact that the cup just won’t hold it. Well, what if you could just Velcro it in? We’d be rich!”

Mark sighed, shaking his head in disbelief at his longtime friend and co-worker.

Things just get sillier from there 🙂