Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving Without A Turkey And Still Thankful


Vegan Thanksgiving
photo credit: Velo Steve/Flickr

As a vegan Thanksgiving is not about the turkey. There are so many wonderful things we make to eat that we never miss that bird in the middle of the table. We will have dressing (husband and daughter like to call it stuffing, though we never “stuff” it into anything) made from my grandmother’s recipe, except that I use vegetable broth instead of chicken. I learned a killer way to make cranberry relish (with orange juice, pears, apples and dried cherries – yum). My daughter’s favorite thing is the mashed potatoes with the sage gravy. She has also started the tradition of making a signature banana bread each year. My husband always comes up with a pumpkin pie recipe that never tastes the same from one Thanksgiving to the next. One year it even had a cherry jam glaze on it. It is a real dessert adventure.

The thing I like most about this holiday is that we make all of this stuff together. The kitchen is over crowded and over heated. We have to fight for elbow room at the counters. It always seems like a mad scramble to get everything on the table, but it is so much fun.

When I was a kid Thanksgiving was my least favorite holiday. It always meant cleaning the house and great-aunts taking your spot at the grown-up table. At my house we only clean off the table and make sure there are no jackets on the couch. If company comes (which we LOVE), they are treated like family…and put to work.

This is a holiday about being together and being thankful for what we have. Whether you choose to  have a bird or no bird as an entree at your table, I think we can all agree on that.

With that in mind I want to run down a quick list of things I am thankful for this year:

  1. My family, near and far – I do not think I could get up in the morning if I did not have them counting on and routing for me.
  2. My friends – Though most of them I consider family, so the statement above spreads out to them as well.
  3. My job – I wish I could say writing pays my bills, but it does not. Maybe that will come in a few years. Right now I am glad that I have money coming in to help keep a roof over our heads. Just a few years ago I did not know if that was going to be possible.
  4. NaNoWriMo – It was a beast that I seemed to have tamed and I am so glad I did. Though I am still getting up every morning before the sun to work on my book, NaNoWriMo kicked me in the butt to get me to do it. The challenge inspired me. I hope it continues to do so.
  5. Books – I love the fact that I am a reader. Books are what get me through a lot in my life, even if it is just a means of escape. They always have. There is security in having a book on your bedside table. It means a new world is waiting within an arms reach. I gave them up for NaNoWriMo (I did not want someone else’s story creeping into mine), but once December 1 comes around I plan to dive into a pile of them. Brace yourselves for my YA book recommendations.
  6. All of you out there in blog-land – I appreciate knowing that someone is reading what I have to say even when I am long-winded. It is also nice to have your comments on the things I ramble about. Thank you.
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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 23

It is official.

At exactly 6:42 this morning I crossed 50,000 word mark.

My NaNoWriMo challenge is now complete.

I learned a lot about myself and my characters. Plus I will definitely be back for more!


Now I going back to bed.

NaNoWriMo Crest


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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 22

NaNoWriMo Crest
This is going to be a short one today.

I have only 1,731 words left on my novel before considers me a winner.

I already consider myself a winner.

Woot! Woot!


Total Word Count: 48,269

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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 21

NaNoWriMo Crest

My husband commented to me the other day that most people probably cheat on the NaNoWriMo challenge. He figures people pad their word count to make it seem like they have written more than they really have. It would be so easy to cut and paste pages from a document and call the words their own. He thinks the people want the win more than they are willing to do the work to get it.

I was sort of disturbed by his assumption and I told him so. We are not participating in NaNoWriMo to add it to our college application list of achievements. The competition is not really with the people we have as buddies. We are participating to challenge ourselves. Most of us want to prove to ourselves that we REALLY can write a novel. There would be no point in making up a word count. Somehow I can not get my husband to understand this.

The truth is, I have given up contractions for the month and I usually write out my character’s full names. This adds an extra word here and there where it would not usually be. Some would say this is a form of cheating. Padding, like my husband and other bloggers have said.

But I disagree. These manuevers are not going to get anyone across the finish line who is not really writing a story. You can not “I will” and “Do not” yourself to victory. By the time November 30th rolls around my story is going to be far longer than the 50,000 words it will take to be considered a winner. The anti-contractions and last names are not going to amount too much then.

These little tricks suggested in the NaNoWriMo forums are just for pulling us along. It gets people over the hump when they think they can not meet their daily quota. They are more of a means for us to keep going than getting us somewhere. 

And do not forget, these are rough drafts we are writing here. They are not finished product. All of that rubbish will be removed before we let anyone see it (I hope). When revisions are done it will not matter that in my rough draft I called the girl Poppy Backwater more often than I called her Poppy.

We took on the NaNoWriMo challenge not for the glory or even bragging rights (but heck, I am sure going to brag…sorry, but it is true).  There is no reason to lie about what we are doing. That would likely only disappoint us anyway. So, “let us” keep going on with our stories and “we will” ignore the nay sayers. I am going to be proud of you simply because you tried.

Total Word Count for Today: 46,245

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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 20

When you sit down to write a certain number of words at a stretch it can be sort of daunting. My personal daily goal for this, my first ever NaNoWriMo challenge, has been to enter 2,000 words on my novel before I can get up from the computer (except for emergency bathroom breaks). NaNoWriMo CrestEach morning I wake at 4:30 to the sound of my alarm clock or to the squirrels in the attic (more often than I care to mention) and trudge out to the computer.

Many of you are probably wondering why in the world do I force myself out of bed on a cold November morning way before the sun is even out to type 2,000 lousy words. It is a valid question. I ask it of myself every single day. The truth of it is that those wee hours while my house is still asleep are the only time of the day I have to write. So this is when I write. That is what I do. I need to write (plus, it does not hurt that I REALLY want to win this thing).

When I first sit down in front of the computer those 2,000 words seem like a prison sentence. How will I ever make it through? What can possibly be happening in my story that will need a 2,000 word bump? Why do I need to do this? Why? Why? Why?

Then I read the last couple of paragraphs that I have written on my rough draft and I just start typing. I do not stick my toes in the metaphorical water. I jump right in with my arms flailing. Usually by adding dialogue I will get the story moving along like a current. Something I accidentally have one of the characters say may bubble out a plot twist that I never saw coming. It feels like gold is pouring out of my fingertips.

When I finally come up for air I look at the time. Right around two hours has usually passed and sure enough, when I check the word count I am floating somewhere near 2,000 words. It is a wonderful thing.

I was so worried back in October that I would not be able to do NaNoWriMo. It is not that I can not write. I have written two (yet to see the light of day in the realm of publishing) novels already. I know I can write a story and commit to the time of writing a story.

I was not sure that the three hours a day I had mapped out to write would be enough to get me to the finish line in time. My hope was that I could squeak out the words in those 180 minutes a day. Little did I suspect that I would have an extra hour a day to kill (okay, by “kill” I mean climbing back in bed).

Taking on a challenge and setting a goal are good things. I know what works for me may not work for anyone else. So I am not going to judge anyone for not finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge in the way that I hope to. The thing is we are getting out of our comfort zones. We are taking that step towards what we want.

I expect to pass the 50,000 word mark on this Saturday. Five days ahead of the NaNoWriMo schedule. There will be no balloons dropping or horns blowing. The only choir I will hear sing will be in my head. This will be a quiet victory for me. It will happen like all my other 2,000 word days have so far. I will wake before the sun and grumble as I find my way to the computer. I will have no idea what I am going to write. Those 2,000 words will seem like a hill I will not be able to climb, but once I start I know the words will come. The going will get easier.


Total Word Count As Of Today: 44,191

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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 19

For the past nineteen days that I have been posting about my NaNoWriMo progress here, a strange thing has happened. Every single time.

If you have a blog on WordPress, then you likely know that at the bottom of the New Post page is a section allowing you to tag your blog piece with relevent words. This of course makes it easier for people searching the internet for stories to find your blog among the slush piles of other blogs. WordPress is even nice enough to offer up some suggestions that pertain to the words in your new post. The suggestions are called Recommended Tags.

Like I said above, each day of November I have written a small blurb about NaNoWriMo. Usually I just give my wordNaNoWriMo Crest count with a bit of “YEAH ME” thrown in to keep my spirits up. Other times I talk about whatever thought enters my mind.

That being said, Never have I mentioned…let me say this again…never…have…I…mentioned: the 2011 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament.  And yet, every single day as I prepare to launch my NaNoWriMo update there at the top of the WordPress Recommended Tags sits those words.

At first, I did not think anything about it. It was a glitch or something. But as the days went by I became fascinated. In fact, I have done a little research on the topic. It turns out the 2011 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament was won by Connecticut. Being from East Tennessee, home of the 8 times National Champions  Lady Vols and the Division One winningest basketball coach of all times (men or women) Pat Head Summit, I never would have written a post about this tournament. When you say Connecticut in Tennessee during basketball season we spit on the ground (just kidding).

I then  figured there may be a bunch of NaNoers writing novels about the 2011 Big East Tournament. That would account for the Tag, right? Hey, it could happen. I mean, I am sure that the game between UConn and Notre Dame was thrilling. The final score sure seemed pretty close at 73-64. Maybe this really was the stuff of great stories. When I did a search of the NaNoWriMo websites Novels, Profiles and Forums though I came up with diddly.

Finally I searched Google. A bunch of WordPress blogs came back with this exact tag. Some of them from as recently as yesterday. Most were from 2012. When I went to read the posts they were from writers and most were about NANOWRIMO. I assume these people must have been sucked in by the “Apply All” link trap beside the Recommended Tags section.

Well today I get to say that I WILL be selecting the 2011 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament tag with pride. Long may it reign as a tribute to NaNoWriMo and writers everywhere! I just do not think I want to read a novel about it.

Today’s Word Count: 42,086

AND….speaking of tributes: Read Lev Grossman’s Pep Talk on NaNoWriMo. He references The Hunger Games (one those YA books I could not put down in the middle of the night). It made me smile.
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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 18

NaNoWriMo CrestIt is day 18 of the NaNoWriMo 50,000 Word Novel Writing Challenge and two big things have happened.

1) I have crossed the 40,000 mile word marker. I think I can see the finish line just ahead, though I know for sure it will not be the end of my novel. This sucker is planning on taking me for a rough (draft) ride through December.

2) My daughter has announced that she does not want me to tell her my word count anymore.  She says it is all I want to talk about. I know she is right. I am living my novel right now (not literally…I mean it is set in the future and dragons exist).

To her it is sort of like constantly hearing that I have a headache or when I can not stop coughing after a cold. At first she is happy to offer support, but as the time drags on the support gradually becomes boredom.  Followed soon by the dreaded eye roll.

I am trying to keep my enthusiasm in check. She wants to hear about the milestones, not the baby steps.

I fear that all of you wonderful souls out there that read my words each day are also starting to roll your eyes. Sorry if that is the case. Not to worry. The month is soon over. I plan to have my 50,000 words by Saturday November 23. Wish me luck.

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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 17

NaNoWriMo CrestI just have a few minutes to sneak this post in under the buzzer. It is almost tomorrow.

I am dead on my feet from working on everything but my book.

Today is the first day I did not quite make my 2,000 word goal.

I will need to write an extra 66 words tomorrow to make up for my lapse in math skills.

Time to sleep. I will be up in four and a half hours to write my 2,066 words.

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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 16

NaNoWriMo CrestToday I thought I would get to tackle more than my 2,000 words. Instead life called. I had to work on the last of the fallen leaves in our yard. When I went outside with my rake the trees were filled with starlings. There must have been a hundred of them. I sat down on a bench to watch. While I was there a couple of squirrels climbed the fence in our backyard and sprinted around the cedar tree. One of them charged my way. When it went right between my feet I screamed. Loud. The squirrels took off and the birds went with them. Suddenly the yard felt empty. Silent. I filled six bags with leaves. While I worked I thought how happy I was to have been there to see the squirrels and the starlings. 2,000 words is in a day is plenty.

Total Word Count: 35,618

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NaNoWriMo Update: Day 15

NaNoWriMo CrestBecause it is the official halfway point of NaNoWriMo and in honor of Autumn, I thought I would add some falling leaves to my website.

Falling leaves of paper, that is.

It goes so well with the words tumbling through my brain.

I hope you do not find it to distracting. 

Let me know what you think.

Total word count is: 33,548 (2,069 today).

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