Nanowrimo Spotlight: DaniPhoenix, not your average firebird

October 25, 2014

Good morning! It’s spotlight time again, and the spotlight falls on DaniPhoenix, who blogs at http://thephoenixsquill.wordpress.com/. Here’s Dani with her Nanowrimo history rundown:

This is my second Nano (2012), I didn’t finish. I am determined to finish the novel that I have been steadily working on this year. I am at 65,000 words currently and need another 60,000 to finish. I love the camaraderie of my fellow writers, the support that I have received has been inspiring. Sometimes I feel like I am on an island by myself with any writing issues that I may be having at the moment and being able to find others that are having similar roadblocks is comforting and reassuring. I like knowing that I am not the only crazy! In addition, the resources available to Wrimos is invaluable; I have learned so much between the downloads offered to the forums.

What are you writing about this year?
This year I am finishing a historical romance within a contemporary romance. With a bit of mystery and adventure.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
Oh dear, favorite book, I think at this point in my writing career I would choose JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I love the wonder, the descriptions of the scenery, buildings, and characterizations. I discovered a whole new world with Harry, it still sticks with me, even today. I guess its like that childhood Christmas feeling- the anticipation, excitement, and the build up to the hopefully happy ending.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
My advice to my fellow Wrimos is to put yourself out there, “meet” other writers, participate in the forums section, use the resources that are freely given by other Wrimos and the sponsors. Utilize the massive amount of combined knowledge that is quite literally at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in your novel, but also in this uniquely supportive environment.

Sneaky Ninja question! Do you tend to remember any of your dreams?
Such an interesting question given that the idea for my current novel started as a dream. I had the same dream several times over the course of a year or two until I finally cried Uncle! and wrote it down. Then I sat on it for another year until the rest came to me late last year.

danielaOne of the sidebar questions on the Nano site asks what type of music you as a writer will be listening to while writing. I put that it depends on my mood, so here is an example of a typical day of music for me:
ACDC-Back in Black anyone?
Queen- so many good songs…Bicycle. Bicycle!
Etta James- At Last = soulful goodness.
Daughtry- I love the grit of Chris’ voice.
Depeche Mode- Saw every one of their concerts in the 80’s and early 90’s. Trailblazer for social commentary in music.
Survivor- Eye of the Tiger! Gets me pumped to write some good stuff.
Heart- Barracuda- Woman power to the nth degree.
U2- The most altruistic rockband of all time. And the music isn’t bad either.
INXS- His voice is irreplaceable. So sad that he took his own life.
and the list goes on…

You can see my taste varies. Music inspires me, incites me, and turns me on. It brings me joy and makes me sad. All of which I can funnel into the story that I am currently writing. I considered putting some lyrics from the most influential songs into my book. You’ll have to see if they make the cut.

Editor’s Note: Dani’s list of music was actually much longer, but I had to cut it down for this interview. Maybe she’ll put the whole list up on her blog for you guys! Once again, that’s http://thephoenixsquill.wordpress.com/

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Camp Nano Spotlight: Young Adult

April 29, 2013

Good afternoon, friends, followers, and A to Z challengers. Most of the alphabet has already been visited, and I’d like to thank Rochelle, aka slightlysmall for stepping in as a last-minute substitute for my Camp Nanowrimo Spotlight series. Let’s get to the questions!

How did you find out about Camp Nanowrimo?
I’m a part of a great forum on FanFiction.net called Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges. One of the threads was for Nano, which I already knew about, but then last summer the thread was active again, so I clicked on it to figure out why. Thus, Camp Nano knowledge.

Have you participated in Camp Nano before? If so, would you call it a success?
I haven’t participated in any Nano events before.

Do you know what you’re going to write this year?
I’m a bit of a rebel this year, mostly because I young_adultdidn’t decide to participate until April 6th or so. I knew I wanted to write 500 words a day in April instead of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) like I did in 2010, 2011, and 2012. So I have been planning my story since about November, nailed down an outline in February and March (which, of course, has grown far beyond that outline since then), and already had about 5,000 words when April started.

What’s your favorite part of your Camp project?
Watching things come together, I suppose. The word count going up (I already hit my goal of 15,000 words for the month; now I’m aiming for 25,000, but I haven’t officially changed my goal), characters revealing intricate background stories to me that affect the story in interesting ways, everything about watching a story I’ve been wanting to tell for six months come to life is just thrilling.

Sneaky Ninja question! Tell us something that’s frightened you.
It’s certainly not the scariest thing that ever happened to me, but it related to Camp Nano so I will mention it here. I’ve always been more of a poet than a fiction writer and never thought I would ever write a novel. Then I started two FanFiction novels and thought I would never ever write a “real” novel. In November, I think, I came up with the idea for Damaged and I spent the evening hyperventilating because it just might work as a story. Writing stories is a scary, scary process, I’ve decided. So yes, deciding to write a novel frightened me.

A link to my FanFiction – Harry Potter, mostly, with one Hunger Games story. http://www.fanfiction.net/~slightlysmall

Thanks again, Rochelle.


What I’ve been reading lately: September 2012

September 12, 2012

Well, I’ve definitely been reading a lot. As I think I’ve mentioned, all the waiting in lines I did for Fan Expo and Dragon*Con helped – it’s easy to pull out a Kindle (or a smartphone or PDA) and read while you’re waiting for that Q&A session or autograph, and I read several of the Buffy season 7 comics on the plane when they don’t allow you to have electronic devices turned on.

But I can’t blame all my reading progress on conventions. I recently finished the last ‘Harry Potter’ book, (which was a great read, I was so excited as I was getting near the end, with the Battle of Hogwarts and the final confrontation between Harry and You-Know-Who, not to mention the stuff with Severus in it,) and the Fourth Harry Dresden book, Summer Knight, which was enormous fun in a completely different way.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed reading anything quite so much recently as the moment where Dresden gets the Maguffin back from the bad’un at the height of the climactic Faerie battle scene. Before running away with it, he imitates Road Runner and yells “Meep-meep!” 😀 Not many authors could make a moment like that work, but Jim Butcher gets away with it because it’s consistent with what we’ve learned about Harry in the books leading up to it.

And ‘Summer Knight’ is #49 on my 52 books in 2012 list, which suggests that I’m well ahead of schedule! I wonder if I can make it up to 70 books in the year.

Other titles I’ve finished recently:

  • The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  • All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris
  • Vampire Diaries: The Struggle, by LJ Smith
  • Castle Kidnapped, by John de Chancie
  • Buffy Season 8: #3-5
  • Star Trek New Frontier: Dark Allies, by Peter David
  • Dragon’s Kin, by Todd McCaffrey

I’m currently reading “The Glamour Chase”, a fun Doctor Who novel I picked up at a convention years ago, and “Star Trek: Behind Enemy Lines”, which involves some of the characters from TNG in the Dominion War plotlines from Deep Space Nine.

By the way, Happy Programmer’s day to any fellow coders out there. I saw something about this earlier on twitter, but it wasn’t until I was doing a bit of math to see how well I was doing on the reading that I remembered the reasoning for Programmer’s day – it’s day 256 of the year. 😉

And if you’re a Nano-er and haven’t seen this yet, go vote for Nanowrimo at Chase Community Giving. They could get a donation of $50-250 thousand dollars!


A year in reading

August 16, 2012

Before taking a shower this morning, I curled up in the armchair and pulled out my paperback copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” (Massive slab of a thing, ain’t it?) Got through some great stuff before I ran out of reading time – Hermione and Ron both got their separate opportunities to arrive at just the right moment to save Harry’s life, and it was really great to see Ron get a chance to be a hero for a change.

Before scurrying off, I opened the netbook to update my reading page tracker file, because I get compulsive about stuff like that. So under ‘Aug 15 2012’ I start typing ‘Aug 16’, and notice that it auto-completed with 2011 before I typed in the 2012. “Huh. I don’t remember that happening before. Could it be…”

Paged up to the top of the Excel sheet. Yeah, sure enough, the first entry is Aug 16 2011 – Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones in trade print, up to the bottom of page 83. (I’d actually read some of the first story in the collection before I started keeping track – I didn’t read 83 pages on my first day of Consistent Writer’s Club, though I’ve read more than that on a few days.

So yes, it’s been a year and a day since I started the Consistent Writer’s Club, and I’ve only missed 3 days so far – none of them within 2012. There’s a lot of good stuff I’ve read listed in my spreadsheet – novels and short stories both, and I’ve been smiling at the thought of it all day.

Have you been reading anything really fun lately?


What I’ve been reading lately, August 2012 edition…

August 3, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve told you much about my reading, so here are some of the highlights from the last month and a half:

“Guards, Guards” by Terry Pratchett. I’ve been enjoying the Discworld books, and this was one that was specially recommended by Alastair on the Storywonk podcasts. I’m not sure if I found it as tight and well-done as “Mort”, but it was definitely a great outing on the Discworld, and I’m looking forward to reading the further adventures of the Ankh-Morpork Nightwatch. The footnotes were some of the best parts, and I enjoyed trying to figure out what would end up happening with the Quantum Dragon plotline.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. After ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ or so, the Harry Potter books definitely get darker and darker as the series goes on, and there’s definitely an enjoyable side to that trip. Now, I came into ‘Prince’ already spoiled as to one particular detail, so was reading through it wondering just how and when a particular ‘beloved’ character would meet his end. (He actually isn’t one of my favorites from the Potter cast.) But I was taken by surprise with several details – the mystery of who the Prince actually was, though the answer was staring me in the face the whole time. Also the romantic subplot for Harry, which was very well-done and seemed natural for the characters involved.

From the very beginning, the Potter books have set up a paradoxical triangle of trust – Harry never trusted Severus Snape, but he trusted Dumbledore and knew that Dumbledore trusted Snape. This set up the obvious question of whether one or both of Harry or Dumbledore was right in their attitude towards Snape. The end of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ appears to provide a final answer to that question, but I wonder. Few things in Harry’s world are that simple, and I have most of a book left. (At this point, I’m 66 pages into ‘Deathly Hallows.’)

I’ve got quite a few books on the go at the moment, including Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”, which is the August book for the Stringing Words Book of the Month Club. So far, that’s interesting but curiously retro, and I’m wondering what else can possibly go wrong on planet Mars. I’m also in the middle of:

  • Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
  • A Little Night Magic, by Lucy March
  • All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris
  • Pet Peeve, by Piers Anthony

 


Getting back into the swing…

July 9, 2012

Okay, so it’s my first full day back home, and it feels like it’s taking me a little while to get back into my usual rhythm. Had a fairly busy day at the office, but nothing too bad. Picked up where I left off in ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ this morning, and really digging the mystery. 🙂

I decided not to bother getting a local bus pass for July, particularly because my trip out of town coincided with the best times to find passes for sale. So I’ll be driving a lot more, and maybe walking to the store and back on the weekend when I can and such.

And I devoted a lot of this evening to catching up on regular domestic chores – getting some laundry done, and cooking up a meat sauce to take into the office for lunches. (Along with a mix of ditali and Gnocci-shaped shell pasta.)

I need to get started on the Holly Lisle revision stuff soon. Maybe I can review the lesson PDFs tonight before I go to bed. That’s one of my big targets for July – finishing 3 more lessons.

What are your goals for July?


Catching up on my reading today…

June 16, 2012

No, I’m not talking about “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, though I’ve been enjoying reading that. 🙂

More like my assigned reading for the CSSF Short Fiction workshop in Kansas, that I’ll be leaving for in a little over a week. I’ve got 22 short stories now, and 2 that are overdue but should be coming in soon – eight other workshoppers, three stories each. I said that this year, I wanted to have the critiques done for all those stories before I get on the plane. I’m not sure if I’ll manage that, but I’m certainly doing better on the ‘first read through’ stage than I was last year – I was doing first read throughs on the plane, and catching up on them my first few days on the plane.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the batch so far, and some stuff that’s just made me go ‘huh?’ at this point. I’ve been noticing quite a few dystopian, totalitarian futures so far, and not very much traditional fantasy aside from mine. I may turn out to be the fantasy guy in the group this time around. (I wasn’t last year, because I didn’t feel comfortable submitting any fantasy.)

I also wrote about 1350 words on ‘Making the Deal’ for Camp Nanowrimo today, putting myself in excellent position to finish that story and begin #7 tomorrow, and I procrastinated some by cooking up beef soup and burning video files onto DVDs.


When you play this game, you win or you die

May 18, 2012

So – after nearly two months of reading off and on, I finally reached the end of George R.R. Martin’s big fat fantasy novel, “Game of Thrones.” I enjoyed it, though it probably won’t make any best-books lists I may write, and I do plan to read on in the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series… but not until I’ve caught up with a few other series, like Harry Potter, Harry Dresden, (huh, how about that!) and Discworld.

A few of the things I particularly liked:

  • The characters are well portrayed and engaging, though, because I was warned about the author’s propensity for gut-wrenching twists, I found that I was avoiding attaching too closely with any one character, for fear of being put through the wringer as they’re tortured or grieving when they’re killed – or both.
  • There’s something very refreshing and fun about a fantasy world where the majority of the characters are – uncooth, vulgar, earthy, and carnal. A lot of the high fantasy I’ve read takes the opposite tack, and it somehow seems more realistic to be in a gritty world where the characters swear freely, at least based on the situation: Lord Ned Stark will go profanity for profanity with his good friend the King, but is always more delicate with his lady wife, Catelyn, and she is lady-like in most situations… unless she really gets pissed off.
  • Some of the surprise twists are pulled off really well, especially when the author takes a situation in a way that is fairly natural based on the characters, but violates the usual tropes of storytelling and good triumphing in the end, so that you’re left reeling and trying to figure out how this defeat will affect the wider-canvas story being told.

Have you read any of ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ or watched the ‘Game of Thrones’ series on television? What do you think? Please, no spoilers!


It’s Blog Awards time again!

September 14, 2011

Notes from Innisfree passed me the Versatile Blogger award – thanks so much! Turns out that I last accepted this award one year ago yesterday. So I figure that it’s a new awards year now, and anyway, I couldn’t resist the chance to take another chain award and pass it on to some of the cool Campaigner blogs that I’ve discovered recently, so here goes.

The rules for accepting the award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it.
And of course, if you don’t want to pass it along to anybody else, or even to accept it, I don’t mind. But I think it’s fun, at least once in a while, so here goes:

  1. I only just finished reading the third Harry Potter book last month.
  2. I’m very tall, around 6’3″ though I haven’t measured myself recently enough to remember precisely.
  3. I look very ‘academic’, though I only have a Bachelor’s degree and never held a real teaching job.
  4. I love to cook spaghetti and meat sauce.
  5. If I pick up a penny on the street, I often throw it back over my shoulder for fun.
  6. I mix fiber powder and sugarfree drink powder into my water every day at work.
  7. I take plastic bags back to the grocery store to save the local five-cent bag fee.
And it pleases me very much to pass the Versatile blogger award along to: Read the rest of this entry »

Lookit all I’ve been reading lately!

August 24, 2011

So, I told you last week about how I was joining the Consistent Reader’s club and reading from new-to-me books for at least 15 minutes every day. I thought I’d touch base to let you know how well that’s been working out!

I’ve kept up with the program, and often read a lot more than that per day. I haven’t read any books through from start to finish, but I’ve finished two, started one, and loved a lot of what I’ve been reading:

  • Finished ‘Mixed Magics’ by Diana Wynne Jones, a collection of short stories connected to the Chrestomanci series, which I got for my birthday last year and read a story and a half from around the spring. This was really fun stuff – there’s a great adventure bringing Eric Chant from ‘A Charmed Life/The Pinhoe Egg’ together with Tonino Montana from ‘The Magicians of Caprona’, and also including callbacks to characters and history from “The Lives of Christopher Chant.” I also read a fun dreaming story involving the daughter of one of the minor characters from “Lives of Christopher Chant”, and a little fable about overly organized gods that Chrestomanci has to help untangle.
  • Finished: Flatlander, (the short story collection) by Larry Niven. The last story, the Woman in Del Rey crater, was really good, and there was an afterword in which Larry comments on how he wishes he could write more Gil Hamilton stories, but mixing science fiction with the mystery genre is harder than it might look.
  • Started: King Kelson’s bride, by Katherine Kurtz. Actually, I’ve skimmed through this ebook before, at least, but wanted to start from the beginning because I couldn’t remember much of the plot.
  • Continued: The Gripping Hand, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I’ve been reading this on and off ever since I got it with some other books using Christmas money. I brought it with me to Kansas, and didn’t read much from it until I lost ‘Prisoner of Azkaban.’ It’s fun stuff, a worthy sequel to “The Mote in God’s Eye”, which I really liked. Horace Bury hasn’t managed to scheme his way to get to the Mote Blockade yet, though I know he’s going to go soon.
  • Continued: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Didn’t read much from this, just found my place in the ebook where I stopped reading from the paperback copy before I lost it in the Cleveland airport.

So, have you read anything interesting lately?


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