21 Days of NaNoWriMo and a Box full of Books

Twenty-one days into National Novel Writing Month, I have written over 35K words and reached Chapter 13. There are 9 days and 15K words remaining to reach the goal.
I really enjoy the way the novel is going so far. It is very unusual for me that I didn’t plot or plan the novel the way I usually do. Usually, I would plan months in advance every detail for every chapter, outline all of the plot’s twists and turns, write character sketches, etc., but not this time. There just wasn’t enough time to get that done before NaNoWriMo started on November 1st. So now, I’m winging it. What I did know though is how the third book starts and how it must end. In the mean time, I’m discovering the details of the story from here to there as I make it up. It’s fun. I like it. Well, you’ve got to try something different once in a while. There will still be the edits, lots of edits, after the first draft is done.

Besides working on Book 3, I am taking care of Book 2. I received the whole box filled with Book 2 on Thursday. Those books are contributor copies, copyright application copies, and friends and family copies. I very much enjoy this part, when the book is all done and published, to give several of copies away as gifts. I also brought two copies to the local library that took my first book as well. Hopefully, the readers will like and enjoy this second story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

NaNoWriMo – Day 15 – Halfway there

November 1st started the 2020 National Novel Writing Month. My second novel, Sophie and the Magic Seeds, began with NaNoWriMo and lots of notes and planning before hand. Trying to be quicker about my novel writing, I’ve decided to start Novel 3 this way, hoping I’ll be finishing this last book of the trilogy a bit faster than the first two.
It is now Day 15, and I’ve made it past the halfway mark, totaling 25,624 words. This time, I’m doing something different though, at least different for me: I haven’t planned the whole novel, and I only know how it starts and how it’s going to end. So, everything that happens in between, I’ll find out along the way. This is cool because normally I’m a planner and a control freak. But with precious little time to prepare, I just dived into it. Sink or swim. So far, I’m swimming.

Extra! Extra!

Great news! My second novel “Sophie and the Magic Seeds” is now available for sale in paperback and eBook formats in all major bookstores and online. It is the second book in the trilogy.

Sophie Gardener’s story continues with her troubles at home and out on her adventures on the magical island. Read the first book, “Sophie and the Magic Flower,” too and see how it all started. The eBook version of Book 1 is available for 99c until the end of the year. The paperback copy remains the same price.

Don’t forget to leave a review if you like the stories. Thank you so much.

Book 3 is underway and will wrap up the major magical events but not Sophie’s story. Stay tuned for more updates on that. I have already started planning Book 4, and there will also be a prequel to the series and a Book 5.

What? My last post was in 2018?

It’s good to visit my own webpage once in a while. I did not realize it had been not months but years since my last post. I could say that I was busy with going to college, or that I forgot, or that a virus attacked Earth, or that I lost someone dear to me. Maybe all of these are true but they are still excuses.

Coming out of my dark corner, I’ve got some good news to share though. With some of these sad things around me, I dived into finishing the sequel to my first novel and got it done. Yes, I did! The printer proof is on the way and hopefully, the book goes live soon.

Here is the blurb from the back cover:

Life with Sophie’s foster mother Trudy is going well until Trudy unwittingly sows the three Flora seeds that Sophie brought back from the magical island of Nugateris. The magical seeds grow and turn into baby girls, but two of them perish right away. If she wants to save the third girl, Sophie must return to Nugateris where the fading magic releases the demons that continue to torment the island.
Back in Nugateris, Sophie and a handful of friends are hunted by the demons while trekking north through the forbidding Ante Mountains in harsh winter conditions. They must reach the city of Mountain View and find the girl Bramble, who may hold the answers to the Flora girl’s fate and the fading magic. Will Sophie survive hardships and dangers in the search for Bramble and at the same time keep the Flora girl safe and alive? And what awaits her if she makes it back home?

Well, that’s all the news for now. I’ll be back in a few days—I promise—to let everyone know when the book is live.

Happy Birthday, Leonardo

Several weeks ago I purchased Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci. It’s a thick hardcover, and I promised myself I would read it as soon as I had time to tackle the tome. One thing let to another, and I didn’t touch the book for many weeks, always telling myself I don’t have time for it right now. 

My reason for wanting to read Leonardo’s biography in the first place was the description of him as a curious, intelligent, self-taught, imaginative and creative man we all could learn from, a man who also had his shortcomings and quirks we could relate to. Leonardo loved learning and was a self-taught man. 

I, too, love learning. That’s what’s important to me. Somehow, I feel akin to him, because I feel like a kid when I open a new book, or find an interesting online tutorial, or when I can spend a whole Sunday afternoon drawing and painting in my studio or work on my novel. 

Returning to my story: Today, I decided, is the day to start reading the biography. My curiosity won’t let me rest until I find out more about Leonardo and what he was like, and all the things he did and created.

As I finally open the book and look at the included timeline, I see his date of birth: April 15, 1452. I did not know that. A coincidence? 

So today I celebrate Leonardo’s birthday, his curiosity, inquisitiveness, imagination, creativity and child-like soul. 

A New Friend

In August last year, I visited the Humane Society to find a new companion dog. I had lost my beloved Kayla in May 2016, and I felt the time had come to look for a new friend.

At the entrance of the shelter, the staff had placed a kennel (at eye level) with the cutest, sweetest feline. While I waited for my turn to see the dog, I stuck my finger into the kennel to scratch her ear and became enchanted with the gray and white kitty as she stretched and twisted, purring while enjoying the scratch.

I met the dog, and he was nice, but I was unsure about adopting him, so I left and all the way home I thought about the cat. Next day, I returned to the shelter, adopted her, and named her Minka.

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At first, Minka was shy and timid in her new surroundings, but as the days turned to weeks and months, she became more confident, and her real personality emerged.

There is no match for Minka’s persistence when she wants something. Minka and I fight the constant battle of who will last longer: she meowing at my bedroom door before it’s time to get up, or I, staying in bed and ignoring her. Most mornings, she wins. Once in a while, she gives up, but not often. At one point I got so mad that I told her that there must have been a reason why she had been in the shelter. She only huffed at that.

As a skilled ball player she would very likely make it onto an all-star basketball team if she were human, because she catches her little round toy mouse out of the air, consistently and with precision. I should set up a hoop. She’d probably slam dunk it every time. Minka never tires of batting that mouse around the house, and of course, she wants me to throw it until I get tired.

Minka is still not very social when it comes to visitors and rarely shows her face when friends come over. She even knows when it’s Tuesday; Tuesday afternoon means piano lessons. I feed her, then she hides and only reemerges when the door closes behind the teacher on his way out.

As I write this, she lies beside me on the couch, snuggling; licking my hand; sweet and quiet. But there is tomorrow morning. We’ll see who wins the next round.

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I almost burned the monkeys

Last weekend I built a fire in the fireplace, making the house feel nice and cozy. As I enjoyed the crackling of the flames in my darkened living room, I forgot to remove the Winnie-the-Pooh ceramic pot with the two toy monkeys from the fireplace inset. The metal gets scorching hot and as the fire died down, I gasped when I finally saw the monkeys (They look a bit like Curious George and his cousin.) still sitting there, probably sweating, but no smoke emerged from the pot. I grabbed the pot quickly—why quickly I don’t know—because it had been sitting there now for more than two hours. When I took George and cousin out of the pot, their bottoms and tails were a bit warm but that was all. Maybe Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore saved them. Who knows?

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A giggle bubbled up. Not sure why I thought it was funny, or if I just felt dumb and relieved. Those monkeys could have caught fire and maybe even burned down the house, and here I was laughing.

Well, not much of a blog. And other than a bit of winter after the spring-like weather of the past few weeks, there’s not much else to talk about.

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Morning Routine

For over a decade now, my 4:45-am mornings have given me time to write and edit my novels. Working on my novels somehow calms me and gives me peace of mind, a sense of accomplishment, and no matter what happens throughout the day, I’ve enjoyed first and done my favorite task.

I love the morning routine. Coffee ready. Let out Dog. Feed dog and cat. Turn on computer. Switch on hot plate for coffee. Sit down. Go!

In the quiet pre-dawn morning, the world still asleep, something very satisfying takes place for the next hour before I ready myself for work. Sometimes magic appears on the page with words, sentences, and paragraphs conjuring up stories. By the time I turn off the computer, I’ve lived through several sweet or scary or exhilarating adventures. Not a bad morning. At 8 am, my job seems lackluster.

Years ago, I never imagined being able to write at the crack of dawn, but with my daily routine I invite the Muse, and she comes.

Here is to the Muse and my morning routine.

Phew! No Major Rewrites

The draft of “Sophie and the Magic Seeds” came back from the editor with lots of comments and suggestions, but none that said, “start over.” Still, some adjustments and rewrites have to happen. First, I’m tackling the comments. Next, I’ll print out a clean draft and start cutting, because often that’s part of the problem, but I’ll also have to change some character dynamics and a few minor plot issues. Sophie is not active enough and must step up to save the day. Anyway, it’s not as bad as I feared.

Lastly, my prose needs to be polished. I intend to read a couple of books on the subject to help me with that task. There’s always room for improvement. The editor suggested two helpful works:

Sin and Syntax: How to craft wicket good prose by Constance Hale
and
Getting the words right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney

Let the rewriting begin.

15 States in 15 Days

As I mentioned in a earlier post, I started working on the journal from my two-week motorcycle solo trip in 1990 from Toronto, Canada to the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone National Park and back.

After having developed the negatives again (I’m glad I still had those.), I discovered that I didn’t use all of the photos in the handwritten journal. Here is one of the photos that I rediscovered.

Grand Canyon for blog

Just typing the journal into Word was fun because I could relive the trip, and I remembered a few tidbits I had left out.

Right now I’m debating on how to structure the book, most likely dividing it by the states with a map introducing each chapter or section. In the handwritten journal, I used copies of road atlas maps, which will be replaced with my own drawn maps. It will be neat, and more unique, to show just the stops and stays, and some landmarks.

I’m looking forward to sharing this book and the journey, which left not only a great expression on me but also had profound consequences.

Stay tuned for more.