Thursday, October 29, 2020

Have you signed up for NaNoWriMo 2020?

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it encourages people to write 50,000 words within the 30 days of November.

Writing an average of 1,667 words a day can be challenging, which is why NaNoWriMo focuses on the draft. Get the words on the paper and worry about editing in December. Now for me, that's a really tricky thing to do because when I write, I often go back and reread what I've already done. My plan is to use that to my advantage, and if there's a day where I feel like I don't know what to write, I'll go back and try to fit in more words. However, I'm also going to try to use it as motivation to not get stuck on a scene that isn't working out the way I want it to. Instead of getting frustrated, I'll move on.

Although NaNoWriMo's challenge is to write an entire 50,000-word novel draft, you can totally make it your own. In 2015 I tried to do it starting at 0 (I failed; only got to about 14000 words), but this year I'm going to continue a story I already started. In fact, I'm hoping this month will be the push I need to finish the first draft. This will help me succeed in this year's challenge because I already did some of the world and character building, and I have an idea of where I want the story to go. However, I do not currently have very good self-discipline when it comes to writing every day, so that's my biggest goal for November.

Plenty of well-known novels have started as NaNoWriMo challenges. Their published versions may look different than their NaNoWriMo drafts, but this is where the authors started, and it's where you can too! Some of the books that stood out to me were The Night Circus (you guys know that's one of my all-time favorite novels), Water for Elephants, Fangirl, and Cinder, but you can learn about more on Goodreads.

If you're interested in challenging yourself to NaNoWriMo, you can sign up HERE. And you can friend me HERE.

I've designed a simple NaNoWriMo Tracker for you to print out. I already have mine taped to the wall next to my bed since that's where I write. Putting it up where others may see it, even if they don't comment on what it is, will be an extra motivating tool to make sure I'm writing every day.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Celebrating my 24th birthday in Salem, MA

In February 1692, two young girls from Salem Village started acting bizarre. After a local doctor diagnosed them as being bewitched and other girls in the village also started acting strangely, the original girls accused their slave and two other women of being witches. And thus began the Salem Witch Trials. From February 1962 to May 1963, over two hundred people were accused of witchcraft, and thirty were found guilty. 
Today, Salem is sometimes called the Witch City, and the month of October is usually filled with events and people walking around dressed up as witches and other scary characters. If you've seen the movie Hocus Pocus: it took place and was partly filmed in Salem. Due to COVID, most of the festivities were canceled this year, but there is still plenty to see and do.

My friend, Erin, and I talked a few weeks ago, and she brought up how none of us have ever visited Salem at Halloweentime. I looked into it and decided that for my birthday, I wanted to spend a day in Salem with Erin and our two friends Megan and Carli. So we organized our schedules and spent the day wandering around the city. 

The first thing we did was make our way into a shop called Witch City Wicks, where I (obviously) bought a candle called "Sleepy Hollow," since that was the short story I wrote my Senior Thesis on in college.
We then ate a morning snack at Gulu Gulu Cafe. I can't think of a better way to start the day then Mimosas, French75s (for Gin lovers a.k.a. not me), a soft pretzel, and a charcuterie board. Can you? It was delicious, and it was the first time in a while since the four of us had all been together to talk instead of just texting. 
When we had first arrived in Salem, I said to my friends that I had spent the morning talking myself out of buying a witches hat because I simply did not need one. Famous last words, right? While we were sitting at the Cafe, I saw a woman walk by wearing a cute, subtle witches hat and new I wanted it. So we found them at Coon's Card & Gift Shop and it's actually called "Modern Witch Hat." I'm in love with it, even if it's only practical one month a year. I bought the gray one, and Megan, whose birthday is also in October, bought the red.
We were in and out of plenty of stores, all located in one area, so it's not like we were wasting time walking all over the place. At one point, Erin pointed out that the Hotel Salem has a Rooftop Bar, so we made our way up there. We all ended up getting specialty cocktails because 'tis the season. Erin got the Cramble, Carli the Autumn Mule, Megan the Orange Blossom Rita, and I had the Maple Smash. We also had to order nachos because of the new COVID guidelines that don't allow people to get drinks without food, but there were zero complaints all around.
From The Roof, we slightly rushed to make our appointment for the Witch House. Formerly the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640–1718), the Witch House is the only structure you can visit in Salem with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692. It was a quick, self-guided tour that let us learn about how the Corwin family lived and their involvement in the Witch Trials.
We left Salem after the tour, but not without ticking off some Hocus Pocus boxes. Unfortunately, the Sanderson Sister's house isn't real, although I like to believe that if Disney had known how big that movie would be, they would have built an actual structure in Salem. However, Allison's house is the real-life Rope's Mansion, which we walked through the gardens of, and Max Dennison's house is someone's actual home.
I could have spent more time in Salem, but I had to get back to Carli and Megan's apartment to jump on a Google Meet call. When I was done, we ordered pizza, and my friends sang Happy Birthday to me. While picking up the pizza, they also stopped and grabbed some Hostess Cupcakes to put candles in. The funniest part was that they didn't have a 4 candle, so it was 22 + 2. 
It's crazy that I am officially in my mid-twenties. My 23rd year was pretty crazy: going from living in Edinburgh to spending most of my time with my dog. Plus the whole start-of-a-worldwide-pandemic thing. Nonetheless, it was a pretty great year, and I can't wait to see what 24 brings!

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