Sunday, November 10, 2013

Vacation over :(

Well, after a week spent doing almost nothing but writing my NaNoWriMo novel, I'm heading back to work
at my day job this morning. While I'm obviously a little down about rejoining the daily grind and cleaning up whatever messes have been left for me, I did accomplish quite a bit while I was off:

But, back to the grind I go now. I'm hopeful that the write-every-single-freaking-day momentum won't be lost now that I'm going back to work.

And today's not going to suck completely. There IS a new "Walking Dead" on tonight, after all.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is it December yet? I wanna start over

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as the kids call it, is all about getting words on the page (or the computer screen). Quantity over quality is emphasized, and participants are encouraged to resist their inner editor and save any major changes for December, for after it's over. I mentioned the other day that I was going to have a hard time doing that.

My NaNo novel this year is a superhero adventure, and it contains characters and elements that have been rattling around in my head for quite some time. Initially my concept was that this book would be a series of short stories,primarily the origins of the superheroes (and villains) that were loosely connected. The later in the book, the more connected the stories would become, until the final story of the book, which would be the culmination. The final battle. The defeat of the Big Bad.

The problem is that the stories written so far are so connected to each other it just feels wrong. Even though they're connected, POVs and story lines are switching so much it feels like it's a novel being written by a schizophrenic. I would never claim to be in perfect mental health, but I'm pretty sure I'm not schizophrenic. I've come to realize how to fix things, how to turn this into a novel with a coherent story line, an actual honest-to-the-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster main character, etc, etc.

So the urge to start over, with a clear outline for the new concept of this novel that I now have, is almost overwhelming.

But I'm not gonna do it. I've got in 11,307 words so far, so I'm over 1/5 of the way to the 50,000-word goal. I've still got more of these interconnected short stories to get out, and I'm gonna do just that. Once I get through those, I'll probably change it up and start re-forming the narrative to more closely match what I now realize is the superior way, but I'm not just going to throw away what I've already done or already have planned for the next few days. Will what I've got written make it into the final version of Breaking Paragons? Probably not. If it does, it certainly won't be in the form it is now.  But I'll have lots of good back story from which to draw to help me create this superhero world.

The most important lesson one can take away from NaNoWriMo is to just write every day (or almost every day). Without consistent work on an almost daily basis, most writers will never be successful. I've learned this lesson during every NaNo that I've done, but it's quickly forgotten, or put on a back burner. Hopefully my momentum this year won't leave me once December 1st rolls around, and I'll be able to share Breaking Paragons with you sometime in 2014.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Meeting goals

So far I'm on track to finish NaNoWriMo successfully. Of course, it's only Day 3 so I'm not sure that's anything to brag about at this point. Getting back into the groove of writing every day is very important to me, and I knew NaNo could help me do that. I'm hopeful that this practice continues even after November 30th.

It's hard not to self-edit as I go. Usually I pride myself in writing pretty well the first time through, to minimize needed editing later. Of course, with something like NaNoWriMo, editing as you go is strongly discouraged. The goal is to get lots of words on paper (or screen, etc). Editing can wait until December, the advice goes.

Still. I'd rather not write a lot of crap that has to be reworked later. I mean, I know "the first draft of anything is shit," thanks to Hemingway, but that's not what I mean.  I don't want to end up with a bunch of words just for the sake of having words.

The novel I'm writing this month is probably going to be in the neighborhood of 100,000 words when finished, so I'm trying to write 50,000 words in November that at least have some hope of making it to the final product. Maybe I'll feel differently if I fall behind, but I hope not. I don't blame or criticize anyone for padding word count, as I know what it feels like when you cross that finish line with 50k at the end of the month. People can do NaNo however they want. For me, that's gonna mean at least a little editing as I go.

If I can make it through the month having written SOMETHING every single day, that'll be a huge accomplishment and is even more important to me than hitting that 50k mark. Which I'm totally gonna do.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

Had a few curve balls thrown my way this morning.  I have the day off work, and I had planned on starting my NaNo novel  after the kids were in school. Well, a major storm system moved through Huntington and the surrounding areas overnight, knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses around here.  While my home only lost power for a few minutes, our internet was out until about 9am (which made me quickly figure out how to work with my Chromebook and Google Docs offline) and the Office Depot store over which I currently reign as Head Flunky (aka, Store Manager) is operating on partial power (necessitating several texts and phone calls from my managers on site).  And the kids are out of school because their schools are without power, which could have led to a noisy household had the little angels not willingly gone back to bed.

So, yours truly had a series of minor annoyances, really (nothing so major as what my managers and employees are currently experiencing, having to operate the store without power to the registers and much of the other equipment), none of which prevented me from already getting my minimum daily word count in.

I'll try to write more later.  I'd like to build up a big head start because I already know I"ll be lagging behind later in the month.  Next week's vacation can't come soon enough, either.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

November's gonna be a busy month

So I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year, after sitting out the last two Novembers.  Writing an average of 1,667 words a day doesn't sound too bad, but since I love to procrastinate (and love to write about procrastinating, apparently) and never seem to finish anything I start, it'll be a nice little challenge. I've done some extensive planning this year, and I'll finally be bringing to life a lot of characters and concepts that have been rattling around in my brain for awhile (some as many as 20 years or so).  I'm pretty excited.

I'm also going to be participating in the Extra Life campaign to raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It's a pretty cool idea: people pledge money to you and you play video games. The date of the charity drive is November 2nd, but I'll be splitting my gaming time between the first three days of the month since I have to work on the 2nd.  Money donated to my efforts will go to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, who've done great things for my daughter.  It's not too late to pledge some money or sign up to play for the charity yourself!

Also happening in November:  my son's 15th (really, FIFTEEN?!) birthday, Thanksgiving (all Office Depot stores open 8pm-11pm Thanksgiving night, yay), and the dreaded (cue ominous music) Black Friday.

Since this stuff (especially NaNoWriMo) requires so much discipline I'm also going to try to eat healthier, drink less (well, a LITTLE less), and lose some weight.  We'll see how that goes.

Got a vacation scheduled for the first full week of the month and I'm hoping to put that to good use and get a good head start on my NaNo novel.  I'll try to post updates here as the month progresses.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jenna's story and Extra Life: Video Gaming for a Cause

So I'm doing Extra Life this year.  It's an interesting charity that aims to raise money for various Children's Miracle Network hospitals by collecting pledges for hours of video game time on or around November 2nd.  The hospital I chose to support with my efforts is Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, which is near and dear to my heart because of all they've done for my daughter, Jenna.

Jenna's right hand, pre-transplant.  Xanthomas galore!
Jenna was born with a rare disorder called Alagille Syndrome.  It affects various organs, like the heart, kidneys, and liver.  With Jenna, it was her liver that was the major concern.  She spent the first three years of her life jaundiced and really, really itchy.  She would scratch herself enough to bleed at times.  Even in the summer months, she had to be clothed almost entirely from top to bottom to prevent her scratching herself bloody. She had pretty bad xanthomas, cholesterol deposits, all over her body.  They were so bad on her joints that she couldn't even close her fingers into a fist, for example.

She was evaluated for liver transplant at Cincinnati Children's when she was very little, but a lot of kids with Alagille Syndrome don't need transplant so we were initially hopeful that she would be okay with just medicine.  Alas, it was not to be.  She was followed closely by the liver care center and cardiology departments at Children's, and by the time she was about three, it was apparent that she would need a transplant if she was going to have any hope of a normal life.

On March 20, 2005, we got the phone call that a liver had been found for Jenna.  That next evening, the
Jenna, very happy 16 days post-transplant
surgery was performed by the talented transplant team at Cincinnati Children's.  It was probably the hardest thing Tiffany and I have ever been through, but the entire staff at Children's went out of their way to put us at ease.  The next morning, when I saw my daughter, awake for the first time with her new liver, she smiled at me and said, "Hi, Daddy," and I knew that she was going to be okay.  And it was all because of the gift of a new liver from another family and the expertise and care of the Children's staff.

Jenna continues to thrive and she still sees several doctors at Children's.  In some cases, we have chosen to have her medical care handled by Cincinnati Children's even though it's about 3 hours away from our home.  We have literally driven to Cincy for a single appointment that lasted less than a half hour before.  In addition to her liver transplant, she's had open-heart surgery at Children's and a couple of heart caths.  We have a few good hospitals much closer to us here in Huntington, WV, but nothing compares to the level of care and expertise we've found at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Jenna today, happy and healthy

When I heard about Extra Life, I signed up for the chance to help out the hospital that has helped my family out so much.  Please take a few moments to check out my fundraising page and donate if you're able.  Alternatively, if you're a big video gamer yourself, feel free to join my team and help my family and I raise money by playing video games.  Your donation is tax deductible and all money raised will go directly to the hospital that the player you're sponsoring has chosen.

Thanks for taking the time to read our story, and thanks in advance for any support you can offer.

Cecil Adkins

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CONNECT page updated!

I've updated my "connect" page to include both my personal and "fan" Facebook pages, as well as my Google+ profile, my Twitter, and my LinkedIn profile.  Please consider following me, adding me to a circle or three, and connecting with me in whatever capacity you'd like!