Monday, September 30, 2013

“Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.” - William Cullen Bryant


Pumpkins. Pumpkins everywhere.

IT IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR! :D

Well, I'd like to think so. I've already gotten some fresh apple cider, I need to restock on this really awesome salted caramel chai hot chocolate mix, and nothing beats a Blue Moon Pumpkin Spice beer on a football Sunday (don't get me started on the Giants...I've already admitted defeat for this season because no one really comes back to relevance after an 0-4 record, and I will not reveal my second team considering the "curse" that has plagued my other sports teams this year. It is true that the majority of sports fans, athletes, and former athletes are quite superstitious...so I'm not telling! Does not mean that I have abandoned the Giants completely...I'm still a loyal fan, after all!).

Since October starts this week, I'll be happily putting up the Halloween decorations around the house. I'll definitely be plotting some pumpkin carving ideas (believe it or not, last year was the first time I ever carved a pumpkin!) for when we do nab a pumpkin from either Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I'm hoping to see if maybe I'll get to pull off Jack Skellington cupcakes this year too...if not, there's always next year! And yes, I've already gotten my Halloween costume. Normally, I start thinking about it in the late summer. I go through maybe ten ideas, start planning how I would go about a particular costume, and BAM! I end up with something else. I don't get bummed out though, for a Halloween addict like myself has a costume wish list, and I know I'll get to be whatever I have listed another year. I think my most memorable costume is my being Wednesday Addams in my senior year of high school (though my "vampire aristocrat" costume from my sophomore year of high school comes pretty close too!).

And hey, what's an October without a Halloween-a-thon of movies? I may or may not have started already...it does not bother me that it is still technically September. I have quite the list for that too, and it's a tradition Mom and I have carried out for many years. I seriously wish though, that they went back to playing the original Addams Family like they had in the past. It's been hard to find The Munsters as well...I'll have to invest in a DVD set. I also need to rectify the fact that I have never seen an episode of the classic Dark Shadows. For shame, I know. Until then, I watch other classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, The Crow, and so on. The baking nerd loves watching Halloween Wars on the Food Network too. How about that new Sleepy Hollow show too? It didn't take me long in the pilot episode to start grinning like an idiot and declaring that I'm hooked. Do yourself a favor, and watch it. Oh, and I did visit the actual town of Sleepy Hollow a few years back....


That would indeed be Washington Irving's grave. It's safe to say I was grinning like I would in a bookstore for most of that day since completing that pilgrimage of sorts (thanks Mom and Jean!). I think he gave me some magic considering the poem I wrote after that visit (I used a few pictures I took from the graveyard as my references) actually made it to The Reverie, which is a literary magazine Green Mountain College publishes each year. I made the edition that was published in my junior year (which is when I did visit Sleepy Hollow). Even though it was a poem, I can say I left something of myself behind there! Now that I think about it, it is a rather dark poem. How did my professors miss that and think me crazy for wanting to write dark fantasy novels? *shrugs* Oh well.

Speaking of novels, I finished last week with a total of 6,502 words. To my defense, I only worked three days. I was sort of dealing with some "dark" things of my own, if the last entry hadn't given that idea to you. It is behind me now, thankfully. I sort of celebrated my "release and acceptance" of things by going out of the house to write. Where did I go? *Drumroll* Starbucks. Yes, I can see the facepalm actions now. But I really, really wanted a white chocolate mocha, and they're the only ones who do it right!

 
Perhaps the fact that no Starbucks has ever gotten my name right will make you feel better. I seriously wondered if perhaps there's something wrong with my diction, since I do have a tendency to mumble now and then, but no! I always emphasize "Mel-a-NIE" to "Mel-o-DY". Oh well. At least I haven't had bad coffee despite the different identity.
 
I don't intend to spend each outing at Starbucks, you know. I have a plan to check out as many cafes here as I can (budget providing), and I'll determine which one proves to be more "inspiring". Coffee and pastries will play an important role too, of course. I do intend to go back to Starbucks on Wednesday though, considering that I'm still craving more white chocolate mocha coffee. I pray there are madeleine cookies this time, since coffee cake isn't really laptop friendly. I also can't make fun of the stereotype, considering that my Starbucks outing (which lasted about two and a half hours) helped me produce a total of 2,658 words that day. Speaking of which, I haven't even finished the month of September yet and I've already broken past the 50,000 total word milestone. I started this book in the second to last week of August. I'm both amazed and horrified about this. It is an accomplishment, however, and I shouldn't undermine myself. Book 3 will technically go through more editing than the first two books because again, this is new territory for the storyline. It differs greatly from the original ideas I wrote down back in high school for this part of the tale. I at least know I'm still doing something right when my biggest critic, who also knows my writing best, is still enjoying what I've done so far. Thank the gods for that.
 
Here's to hoping this week is far more productive, that maybe the barista will get my name right, and to decorating the house for the holiday I love most. I'm off to indulging in apple cider now. It's times like these that I miss Vermont and Brown's farm...they had the best apple cider and who doesn't love a cider doughnut? :D

Monday, September 16, 2013

Changes.

Within a span of a week, it has started to feel like Fall here! Letty came to visit Mom and I, and she is one of few who could say, "I spent about a week in Santa Fe, and it rained most of the time!". While we in New Mexico want the much needed rain...we don't want it delivered in the way it had been last week. Believe it or not, we're still in a flash flood warning. Had Mom and I still lived in our first home, we'd have been flooded for sure.

With that said, there was thankfully one day of that week where we had some sunshine. There was a return to Abiquiu Lake and Ghost Ranch, and we checked out Chama too. Chama is a tiny town with railroads, and it is definitely one of those places considered a "rest stop" for travelers (even in the old times). They had some pretty good coffee too, though nothing really beats Java Junction from Madrid (which we did go to during Letty's visit here). All in all, it was a great time. I even got to see into the cabin which I dubbed "my house" at Ghost Ranch, and it is actually quite spacious in there. I also jokingly mentioned that I might as well invest in a horse rather than a car, just because of the terrain there. Needless to say, I still need driving lessons and a car.

During my last adventure I mentioned reconnecting with not only nature, but with my ravens as well. I spotted quite a bit of magpies then too, and their rare appearance usually brought about change in my life. Since that time, changes did indeed happen (the not so apparent negative forces in its variant forms have gone away, etc.). On this little adventure, there were still a group of magpies around (when a change happens, I don't see magpies for a long time...until something new is supposed to come along). I've got more changes coming my way, should the pattern continue. There has been something in the air lately, so I do believe in the signs. Time will only tell, right?

In case you were wondering, I did get a bit of work done last week. I only wrote in three days, but came out to a total of 8,817 words. Even with my extra time off, I was pretty pleased with myself. Ideally, I would love to keep having a 3,000+ word daily count, but considering how much time I've spent away from the story since the third day of writing last week, I know not to expect it. I usually write 4-5 days a week, and a longer break does affect the writing flow. I will be happy to see even one day with a count of 2,000+ words this week.

I will say this though - book 3 is still looking really good. Even with the minor bits of editing here and there, I enjoy the little changes. We'll see how it'll go once I go through the first editing session (which will depend, of course, on how the writing progress goes). As usual, stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Moving along.


Even though I finished last week with a total of 9,638 words, I find myself feeling more giddy than usual. I technically took Labor Day off, so if I had written on Monday I'd have had another week with a 10,000+ word total. Mom actually made a joke saying that if I kept this up, I'd be done with Champions of Arrygn in 3 months rather than my record 5 months. As appealing as that sounds, I don't think I'll be done in 3 months. Again, I'm in new territory with this particular book and my characters have a mind of their own. We shall see.

As usual, I can't really give any spoilers. However, I will say that yet again I'm being evil to some of the characters. The new villain (one of two main ones), the raven familiar of one of the goddesses, is actually pretty intriguing to me. I had this mindset of how he was supposed to be, but I find myself going into a different direction with him...again. It's the same way with one of the "lesser" villains, who used to have a larger role when I first wrote his character at 15. I guess it's just my mind saying that what I first wrote back in the day was just the skeleton of the series, and now I'm really fleshing it all out. I still like what I'm seeing, so all continues to go well.

In a way, it's a good thing I'm not published just yet. I want the first book to be self-published already, but again, there are things I have to do to make it "just right". While the waiting game continues, at least I have the time to keep sprucing the previous two books. Nothing is more important than cohesion.

I've slowed down with my reading list lately. I'm still currently reading Druids. I think it's interesting that my interest with the Celts and their mythology didn't really flesh out until late high school/early college. If you asked anyone who knew me in high school what my preferred mythology was, they'd tell you that I was an expert in Greek mythology. My personal favorite goddess is Artemis, followed by Athena. I guess my interest in Celtic mythology began when I learned of the other cultural associations Artemis had (and then began my interest in The Morrigan). I thought it was pretty funny when I learned that my usual interest in the triquetra symbol actually has some association to The Morrigan (triple goddesses, everything tends to group in 3, etc.). Have you ever been interested in one thing and then studied it enough to learn that it links in with another interest of yours? Just another example of how connected everything is in the world. Oh, the thesis papers I could write had I gone through with the masters in mythology plan once upon a time...

While I am on a roll with writing, the process will be slowed down a bit this week. Mom and I have another east coast visitor coming tomorrow, and I won't be working as much as usual. I know there'll be some moments where I will have some time to write (and I will be taking it), but I'll be happily enjoying the new bout of adventures this week will bring. There's nothing like some New Mexico explorations to help refresh one's mind. There will be lots of pictures, from both camera and iPhone alike.

Now if only one day my adventures included Colorado...
 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hello September!

 
Happy September! By now I'm sure all of the pumpkin flavored anything is out on the shelves and coffee shops, the Fall specials of beer and cider are out and about, and maybe a hint of foliage has started wherever you live. Sadly, it still feels like June out here in Santa Fe, but at least there has been an "outbreak" of apple cider (at least at the Farmer's Market), and I've finally been able to have a Fall Woodchuck cider.
 
It's not technically Fall yet, but I'm sure you can guess that it is my favorite season. I can hardly wait for it to get here.
 
Week two of writing Champions of Arrygn proved to be more productive than week one! I ended the week with a total of 10,713 words and 49 pages. Since I only worked on the book for two weeks in the month of August, the total word count for the month is 18,297 words. Not too shabby, I say. I also thought it was fun for me to learn that only two of the days last week had a word count below 2,000 words. I like having those kinds of weeks. I know it won't happen every time, but I like it when it does happen. Just as a refresher, I try to get a minimum of 1,000-1,500 words per day. I will get upset at myself if I can't make 1,000 words...I've come too far in my writing process to not being able to get that many words. When I hit a block, I'll get upset too. I'll feel better when I start editing during my writer's block, just because I'll feel like I'm still working.
 
This writing process has felt different from the other two books. I'm in a complete new territory with this book, and I can't stop feeling odd about it. When I first wrote the original version of this storyline back in high school, I never even finished book 2. I wrote a lot (I had one notebook and a half filled...yes, I used to write my stories by hand), but I never finished it. I even had free-writes of what was supposed to be book 3. Obviously, that's not the case now, but it's interesting to see just how different the novels are now. I didn't even realize how much it would affect me until I started working on book 3. It's a good thing though, I assure you. As the writer grows, the characters and their stories do too. I can't overthink anything, and I have to keep going with the flow. I have to keep reminding myself to do just that. It's not as if I'm not liking what I've written so far either.
 
In other news, I have pulled an Anne Hathaway (or Emma Watson, whatever people will associate this kind of haircut with), and am now sporting a very, very short pixie. One, I wanted to have this cut at least once in my life. Two, I've gotten most of the multi-colored dye cut off, therefore making it easier for my natural color to grow out without looking crazy. Granted, I'm used to having multi-colored hair (poor college kid having to wait a while before I could buy dye), but I didn't want to deal with bleach and mess up my hair even more. I've got about 80% of my natural color now, and I'm surprised at how unaffected I am with seeing it in the mirror. There was a time that I would cringe every time I would see the blonde roots pop against the raven black hair I've had for so long. It feels nice, going back to the beginning. I'm prepared for the blah comments for my being female and having this kind of cut (which I think is retarded, but we live in a crazy world after all), and I will do what I've always done whenever I've gone through a shape-shift moment: just smile and enjoy the evident confusion on the other end. I'm also not prepared to have long hair again...not until my hair is back to 100% natural blonde.
 
Speaking of changes, this just happens to be the week of Fiesta and Zozobra. Zozobra, or Old Man Gloom, is an awesome tradition where you head over to Fort Marcy Park and watch this giant effigy burn in the evening. There's music, fire dancers, the appearance of the Fiesta Court (representing a time in Spanish history where the Spaniards reclaimed Santa Fe), and so on. The point of the burning of Old Man Gloom is to burn all your gloom away. It's actually a bit of a Pagan ritual, despite the obvious surrounding of Catholicism here. You're actually able to write down your sorrows so that someone can stuff it into the effigy of Zozobra, and when he burns, you're immediately free for the year. I've only been to one (and even if I didn't go, I was able to see and hear the festivities since we used to live so close to the park), and while I would love to go again, Shadow would not be allowed to be in the park. To be honest, I wouldn't want him to go...it gets so crowded by the time the fire dancers come out and then the burning of Zozobra. Mom and I have our own little alternative for the celebration (because we don't want to leave Shadow behind), so I'm looking forward to that this Thursday. Even if you're not in Santa Fe, you're welcome to participate in the festivities. Even just burning a piece of paper where you've written down your glooms count. I do suggest that one day you come out to see this event. As I said in another entry, Santa Fe and New Mexico in general has a lot of festivals throughout the year. Just another reason why I love it out here.
 
Now get out there and get yourself a pumpkin spiced coffee or some apple cider! :)