February 2009


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After some weeks of intense cold and much raining, we have been gifted with some sunny, warm days. These days carry a new energy, providing a needed stimulant for all the tasks I have to carry on. In particular, this Spring breeze has helped me to put order in my thoughts and organize myself.

Weather influentiates people on a psychological and even physical level. It depends from person to person, I suppose, but I always feel vigorous when cloudy days give turn to a shiny, bright sun, even if that period of light and heat is temporary. However, cloudy days must always exist. They mark a difference and add to the diversity. The contrary is true as well – what a great mass of energy comes to me when, after so many months of intensive temperatures, the clouds arrive and they bring rain and wind.

This is the natural weather; one that cannot be tamed and so often is unpredictable. There is another “weather” or, how should I say, universal time.

(An interesting curiosity: Portuguese considers a single word for both time and weather: tempo.)

Men have invented a calendar in order to count that very same time, and sometimes that comes with curious consequences. For instance, let’s take for example this particular day that happens once in a while and is, simultaneously, the 13th day of a certain month and a Friday of a certain week. Friday the 13th is regarded as an unlucky day; this happens because Friday is thought as the unluckiest day of the week and number 13 the unluckiest number of… well, all numbers. Apparently, 12 is a number that transpires organization: there are 12 zodiac signs, 12 hours of the clock, 12 main gods of Olympus… 13 suggests that there is one more element, and that one element brings chaos and disrupt among the order we so strive to achieve.

I have retrieved this information from Wikipedia, which I searched in the hoped of understanding why do people fear this day. For me, it has absolutely no meaning. I neither like or dislike number thirteen, although I am forced to have some empathy towards it, given it is was already so mistreated. As for Friday, I happen to find it one of the best (not luckiest!) days of the week, as it’s the day before the weekend and we realize the hard-working week has come to an end. From reading the article on Wikipedia, I found myself pitying Friday the 13th. The poor thing… if only it were day 29, or a Tuesday, or Q’saskloj the |»th the day would not have the significance it has, and no Friday the 13th virus would exist, nor paraskavedekatriaphobia. Or perhaps a new phobia would develop.

Maybe we are in need of abstracting ourselves from men-arranged days. Although it is understandable that a particular day was unlucky, I cannot understand why every Friday the 13th must be, from now on, unlucky. Fortunately, this Friday the 13th proved to be quite good to me. It was a lovely day, lots of sun.

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At last, the final installment of the series is published. This final set of interviews also features yours truly, as I also replied my own questions.

Special thanks to the interviewees Zoe, Kate, Nenya and Christine! Please let me know if everything is alright. I appreciate your patience and helpfulness.


1. Please give us a quick introduction of yourself (Name, age, location, job, etc. You can tell as little as you want, though.)

Zoe: My name’s Zoe. I’m 17, and I live in this tiny little town called Nevada City in northern California. I’m a directionless senior in high school, which is a lot of the reason why I decided to do NaNoWriMo. Novel writing? That sounds like a direction.

Kate: My name is Kate Heron, I’m eighteen, and as of right now, I work at a local coffee shop, and live in the California area.

Nenya: Call me Nenya. I am a student, living somewhere in the depths of fantasy.

Christine: Christine, 19, CA, college student.

Susie: I will skip this part since everything about me can be found in the appropriate section of the blog.


2. How long have you been writing?

Zoe: Well, I still have one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written, from third grade, when I wrote a story about this alien who fell in love with me, but I was a third grader, so I quickly did away with that silliness, so he fell in love with a tree instead. It was a redwood. I tried to explain it to him, but…. you know aliens. So I guess I’ve been writing since third grade.

Kate: I’ve been writing for a long time, but only really writing for around 2-3 years. I’ve got a few books in the works, but NaNo was the first time I actually finished the novel.

Nenya::I’ve always loved to write, but I really got serious about it in the spring of ’07.

Christine: I’ve been writing since I was eight, but this year was my 3rd NaNo WriMo.

Susie: I have been writing for as long as I can remember, although my first actual story was written at the age of six. It was about a turtle who was going on vacation.


3. When did you first heard of NaNoWriMo and how?

Zoe: Well, i was playing Scrabble on Facebook with this guy named Mat, right? And I told him I liked his profile picture, and he said thank you. And when the game was over (I creamed him, by the way), he added me as a friend. Which was odd, but I accepted him, because he really did have some fantastic profile pictures. I heard about NaNoWriMo on the 8th or 9th of November, because he kept posting these status updates about some mysterious thing that I subsequently Googled. And I started writing a novel that day.

Kate: I first heard of NaNoWriMo at a roleplay site. My interest was piqued, so I went to check it out. That was last year, and by that time, it was too late. (The 20th, or something) This year, someone brought it up at that same site, so I visited it again. It was Nov. 4th, and I thought it was too late. Later that evening, though, I convinced myself I could do it.

Nenya:: On a fan forum [Dragons in Our Midst (DioM) by Bryan Davis]

Christine: My best friend told me – he had done it the year before, and convinced me to try my first year (2006).

Susie: I’ve heard of it perhaps two or three years ago, through one of my random Internet explorations. I came across the link and realized the concept was great. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that I felt I was capable of pursuing such challenge.


4. Would you mind giving us a short description of your novel?

Zoe: Short? Ba ha. I’ll do my best. Okay, so there’s this girl, Cecy, and she is angsty and stifled. And one day, she starts working at a bookshop, which is owned by a crazy old man and his son, the romantic lead. And one day, they take her back to their house, and confess that they have a time machine and want her to come help them fight time bandits. And obviously, she’s psyched. So they go back to the Boston Tea party, and then there’s a French aristocrat trying to stop the revolution and they all fall in love and wrestle with Frenchmen in a whorehouse where Thomas Jefferson is… chilling.

Kate: Hmm… My novel has to do with modern angels, and how they deal with modern demons trying to raise the Devil, which will result in, pretty much, hell on earth. It has forbidden love, a witty and sarcastic main character, perilous situations, and, just possibly… (haven’t decided) magic.

Nenya:: My story, Sheltering Wings is a DioM fanfic: Christopher Paarlston lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his mom, dad and little sister. He’s a normal preteen boy except for two dragon wings sprouting from his back.
Over 1500 years ago, eleven dragons were transformed into humans. The offspring of these former dragons sometimes had dragon traits such as wings or firebreathing. However, the evil Devin is determined to hunt down the “mongrels” and kill them.
One day, Devin finds Christopher’s family. His mother and sister are wounded, and Chris is kidnapped. For several years, Chris is imprisoned in a dark cave, while Devin uses his blood as an anti-aging agent.
Finally, Chris escapes, transluminating himself in the process. He learns that his family is still alive and sets off to find them. But can he protect his sister from the dangers that lurk at every turn?

Christine: It’s about a middle-aged man who is bored and feels trapped in his life, and he picks up a teenager runaway and they drive around the country trying to figure their lives out.

Susie: My novel, which remains unfinished as I speak, is about a noblewoman and her adventures with an odd, mystical family. It is about how all things connect in the end, even if the connections don’t seem explicit as first.


5. Did you use NaNoWriMo to develop and old idea or did you imagine the story as you were writing?

Zoe: I made the entire thing up as I went. I had no alternative, going in so late. But that probably explains why the entire first 5k is about a completely irrelevant sub plot. Oops.

Kate: I had literally thought of the idea a week before, in a dream. Then I heard of NaNo, and thought of finishing another book. Then I learned you couldn’t, so, I thought… Hey, why don’t I start this one? And it evolved from there.

Nenya:: A little of both. Sheltering Wings is a companion novel to my work-in-progress, Fettered Wings, which focuses on Chris’s sister Loren. I already had major plot points picked out from the first story, but some I made up as I went along.

Christine: I had thought of the main idea in April during Script Frenzy, and used NaNo WriMo to develop it, but almost all of the details I work into the story came throughout the month.

Susie: I have to say neither! The idea wasn’t a new one, as I started to outline one or two weeks before the grand event. However, the idea was recycled from a previous outline I’d already considered to write, many months ago.


6. Did you take the opportunity to try out a writing genre you weren’t used to, or maybe used new techniques?

Zoe: Nope. I just kind of wrote what amused me. Which ended up being time travel and teen romance.

Kate: I’d never really written in 1st person before. I usually hate it. I tried really developing my characters, and actually WRITING each day.

Nenya:: Not really. I mostly used this as an excuse to write regularly.

Christine: I’m used to writing stories with teenaged female characters, and making the main focus of this novel a middle-aged man was different for me.

Susie:I spent the first three days writing in English. Because I usually write prose in my native language, it seemed like a good exercise, and I also wanted to see if I could write as fast in a secondary language.


7. Were there any moments you feel like giving up?

Zoe: Oh yes. My story was so ridiculous and nonsensical- it still needs a LOT of editing- that I was very close to quitting several times. It just didn’t make sense, and I didn’t see the point in continuing something that incredibly bad. But I believed the pep talks that said I would get something out of it all, and I did, eventually. Also, my friends all already hated me because I was being so fricking annoying, talking about my novel 24/7 and using as an excuse for everything I slacked off on. It would be lame if I didn’t even finish, right?

Kate: Hmm…. Multiple. There were a few days (midnight release of Twilight) when I didn’t have time to write, and I’d take a look at my story and think: “What the hell am I doing? This is shit!!” But then I’d obligingly plod along, and pick up steam again.

Nenya:: I had several moments of AGH! but I never really considered giving up.

Christine: I feel very behind during the middle of the month, and I considered it.

Susie: I believe so, especially the days where I wrote nothing at all. However, when I put something on my mind I always go to the end, so those were vague thoughts. As the final days approached and I still had half way to go, I designed a plan that made me write all the necessary words.


8. What major difficulties did you have to face during NaNoWriMo?

Zoe: My best friend lives next door and is not particularly interested in novels, whether they are written by me or someone else. My mother plays the banjo, piano, accordion, guitar, and kazoo, with amplifiers for anything that is amplifiable. My step dad plays the guitar, saxophone, and base, and has a generally loud and obnoxious voice. We have thin walls. It sucked.

Kate: My grandmother had surgery on a cancerous tumor, and thus, I had to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for a week. She was okay, but still… Oh, and at the same time, my grandfather (a diabetic) was in danger of dying. He was bleeding out of his colon, but he made it through. Barely.

Nenya:: School, sinus issues, and aggravating characters!

Christine: I was in a play which had all seven of its shows in November, I was dealing with a college freshman’s homework schedule and I got into a relationship mid-November as well.

Susie: November happens to be one of the most active months in academic terms. Besides writing, I also had to study and work in several projects. Even so, High School would demand much more time than College, so it was the perfect opportunity to develop some writing discipline. My main difficulty was to write on the computer and focus solely on that, forgetting, for example, that there is this wonderful thing called the Internet.


9. Did you have any support from your friends and family?

Zoe: Oh… yeah. Kind of. They all just got really annoyed because I’m obnoxious when i get into something. I would just talk and talk about my novel, and then refuse to let them read it until it was perfect. But my mom was very proud (although i don’t think she could believe it when i told her I finished- I don’t finish things very often.) My friends just kind of ignored me. Except my bestie, who would incessantly come over and tell me to do something “fun” with her, and then respond to my incredulous “Jess, 10 thousand words in one day- leave me alone” with a complaint about how lame it was that I was writing a novel. Gotta love the girl.

Kate: Family, totally. They just said as long as my grades were plodding along, they were happy for me. My parents are both professors, and they’ve both agreed to edit it. Friends were very supportive, one of them’s doing the FINAL cover art. XD

Nenya:: I didn’t really explain it to my family, but I got lots of online support.

Christine: I had gotten my mother into NaNo WriMo last year, so we both have done it the past two years – she has yet to actually *finish* the month’s goal but trying has made her very supportive. I also convinced a friend at school to do NaNo WriMo this year as well, and she was very supportive too.

Susie: Not much, but my friends asked me once in a while how was it going. I mainly kept the event to myself.


10. Did you ever felt you were writing without adding nothing relevant to your story? Did that bother you?

Zoe: I didn’t so much feel like I was writing without purpose, I just felt like there was so much plot to get covered, I barely had time to put it into sentences. I found it hard to believe I would ever finish the story. It felt like I was walking on a treadmill that was going backwards.

Kate: No, I didn’t. I felt like I didn’t spend enough time adding stuff. I had to stretch it out near the end to make it to 50K. I never had to do any little “cheats” or useless blurbs of dialogue. In my opinion, I’d rather have no certificate than one that included stupid bits of text. It seems like lying, to me.

Nenya:: Yes. Besides several dreams, I had a 4,000-word digression with my main character stuck in his sister’s subconscious. But it was fun and kept me writing, so I didn’t mind.

Christine: Did that bother you? I added in a lot of dream sequences and “riding around in a car listening to music” sequences which were very superfluous. But it’s NaNo WriMo, so I never had a problem with it – the month is all about just getting words out.

Susie: Even though every piece of writing I composed was necessary to explore character relationships and overall plot, I frequently had the feeling some parts would have to be cut in a following draft.


11. In what ways did you connect with your writing buddies?

Zoe:Um… I didn’t really have any writing buddies. Until the last three days. And then I wrote her NaNo mails about how angry I was at my story.

Kate: No, I didn’t. I felt like I didn’t spend enough time adding stuff. I had to stretch it out near the end to make it to 50K. I never had to do any little “cheats” or useless blurbs of dialogue. In my opinion, I’d rather have no certificate than one that included stupid bits of text. It seems like lying, to me.

Nenya:: I did a few NaNo mails, plus frequent visits to online forums.

Christine: Talking about our stories, writing at the same times and comparing word counts.

Susie: I had a wonderful adopter who did her best to provide me with resources and messages of encouragement, but during NaNoWriMo I hardly contacted her, as she was struggling with the WriMo herself. Overall, she was a nice presence and someone I’m glad I’ve met during this busy month.


12. Was your novel finished with NaNoWriMo?

Zoe: Yes. It has a happy ending and everything. But I’m terrified by how awful it is. I think I need to rewrite every scene.

Kate: Yeah. Barely. >.< I had to stretch it so I could actually get it to 50K. However, I’m lengthening it, since there was some stuff I left out.

Nenya:: I have the major plot points in and reached 50,000 words, but I have lots to add too.

Christine: No, not even close. I’ll probably need another 50k to finish the story.

Susie: The rough draft is practically done in structural terms, although there are some middle scenes missing. The beginning and the ending are there, but the novel lacks the glue that is needed in order to tie all loosed ends.


13. What have you learned from this experience?

Zoe: That I can do anything. Essentially. It may not be very readable at this point, but I wrote a novel. So I can write another less lousy one. Or I can fix this one. I also learned that three cups of coffee every day for a month leads to caffeine headaches in December, and that it’s probably a good idea to know what I’m writing before I write it. Also, that if you write a little bit some of the time, writing is boring. But if you write a lot all the time, writing becomes something as awesome as climbing Everest.

Kate: I’ve learned that writing 2K a day is not as much as I thought it was, and that it got easier if I steadily churned out the words. I learned that I can write a novel, that I did have that capability inside of me.

And, I learned that yes, it is possible to live only on Ramen for an extended period of time. =_=

Nenya:: You just need to keep going, even when you aren’t inspired. Plus, setting a tangible goal gives you something to push for.

Christine: That it is possible to do this, no matter how much you think you can’t fit it in.

Susie: I have learned that when I want, I can write pretty fast. I never thought I could achieve such velocity and while at the same time making sense. Discipline is a hard quality to raise, but a very useful one to maintain. We just need to nurture it everyday.


14. Will you be revising your novel?

Zoe: Yes. When I work up the nerve.

Kate: Hell yes! I’m going to be changing it completely! I have plot gaps to fill, wings to paste on, people to develop, people to kill, magic to add…. Geez. So. Much. Work.

Nenya:: Since my novel is a fanfic, I can’t publish it, but I still want to go through all the steps so I have experience if I want to get published someday.

Christine: Once I get it finished, I might.

Susie: Absolutely. The rough draft is in bad need of revisions and I intend to polish my work to perfection.


15. Did you resort to the forums?

Zoe: Yeah, but not all that often. I’m not really much of a forum person.

Kate: The forums were amazing. Especially reviewing others work, and having them review yours, in turn. I saved every one of those reviews, and took them all into consideration.

Nenya:: Yes. I hung out more at the Dragons in Our Midst forum then the NaNo one, because I’ve been a member of the other one longer. But both definitely helped.

Christine: I love the forums, even if I usually only used them for procrastination.

Susie: The forums gave me no particular inspiration, but served as a distraction instead, allowing me to rest from the hard typing. There were many interesting topics in there and they will be a major asset during the rest of the year, as idea providers.


16. What were your first thoughts and actions after winning?

Zoe: I wrote another hundred words. Then I stopped. Then I kind of sighed and went to bed. I was REALLY tired.

Kate: Thoughts = Holy f*** I just finished a damn novel! What am I going to do?!?!?! Holy shit, holy shit, holy SHIT!

Actions = Shocked silence, hands raised in the air, a piercing whine emitting from my motionless mouth. Then, calling up people to rave about it. Then, blogging. Writing a poem. And, READING A BOOK WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY.

Nenya::. I thought, “YEAH! I did it!”
And then I went up to bed. But I gave out mental high-fives to all my characters.

Christine: Leaning back in my chair, taking a nice deep breath and finding out what my 50,000th word was so I could post it on the forums ^.^

Susie: I took a deep breath, smiled and thought “Good job!”


17. What sentence of your novel contained the 50000th word?

Zoe: “I’m interested in books and learning” (this sentence isn’t as lame as it sounds, because it was addressed to Thomas Jefferson. So. Okay, it’s lame.)

Kate: “I was all set to kick him in the balls, when I was shown why it was a bad thing to fight an incubus like you would a human.”

Nenya:: Either She squealed in delight as I wrapped her in my arms and spun her around. Or “I am your brother, and I love you very much.” [[My word-count differed from the offical.]]

Christine: (no response)

Susie: “Tenho de ver se ponho as coisas em ordem, descobrir, também, se o meu irmão tem poderes que os possam ajudar a ambos.” It translates as “I have to see if I can put things in order; discover, too, if my brother has powers that can help us both”.


18. Did you feel it was worth it?

Zoe: Yeah. Certainly. :)

Kate: Oh, definitely. It taught me about myself, my skills, and so much more. I will definitely be doing it next year. SO definitely.

Nenya:: Definitely. I’ve wanted to be an author for most of my life, and now I feel like I can actually complete a story.

Christine: The relief and accomplishment I feel at the end always makes me feel like it was worth it.

Susie: Yes! I learned valuable lessons.


19. Are you planning to do NaNoWriMo next year?

Zoe: Oh yes. I’m going to plan it out, too, and start on time.

Kate: Oops. Answered it above. HELL YES. There is nothing that can stop me… And this time, I will damn well start on time!

Nenya:: I already have some ideas brewing.

Christine: Definitely. Now to find a plot…

Susie: At first I wasn’t sure, because certain events will occur in my life and I will have to be extra organized, but there are two lovely friends who didn’t manage to finish this year and I want to support them by us three doing NaNoWriMo together.


20. In what other projects are you involved?

Zoe: I’m applying to colleges right now, so I’m pretty busy, but I have a blog, valetudinarian.tumblr.com, which has nothing to do with writing but allows me to waste lots of time on the internet. I’m always writing bits of stories, and I’m involved in one huge project, cleaning my room. I’m also working on some video summaries of British novels, which should be fun. Other than that, I’m trying to save some money so I can go to Europe and live life in a less boring way.

Kate: Um… I’m on DA, where I post my poetry, LJ, where I post both. I’m in the middle of a story right now, which I will get back to after I finish editing this one! XD I’m on various roleplay sites, (real ones, which actually help your writing) and some others I can’t remember.

Nenya:: I’m on the Dragons in Our Midst & Binding of the Blade forums, and one or two other sites. I am tightening up and reshaping some of my older stories, as well as planning to finish the companion novel.

Christine: I do Script Frenzy as well, and I am involved in theatre.

Susie: I maintain this blog, have a dA account and created a Portuguese writing forum.