Laughter and books make life a little easier

Posts tagged “nanowrimo


Hi everyone! Guess what I want to shout right now?

This was a really lame cartoon, I’m sorry. I wanted to add more panels and reactions and things, but then my internet just died last night when I was composing this post. I think it must have hit the bandwidth limit. Oopsie. That’s embarrassing. Too many vlogbrothers videos, maybe? That’s another thing I do when procrastinating, and it’s kind of addicting. This is why this post is even later than usual. I’m in the university library right now, using stupid, slow Internet Explorer to write this. Ugh.

I had to get it published before NaNoWriMo starts, because I also have to add that I don’t know how regular updates will be between exams and novel-writing and everything else I complained about above. I’ll try to update on my writing and I have a few cartoons that I can upload, so we’ll just have to see how far I get. Anyway, if you want to laugh at my failure to write, the NaNo widgets have made a reappearance in my sidebar –> right underneath the follow icons. It’ll update with my word count, if you’re interested. Now I can just hope my internet makes a reappearance tomorrow.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I made myself a word count calendar this year and I’m uploading it to the internet if anyone else wants to use it. Feel free to download it, save it as your wallpaper, print it or share it with your friends! Just don’t remove my watermark, or distribute it as your own.

Featuring: a Lord of the Rings themed NaNoWriMo calendar. (I took the opportunity to compare NaNo to an epic journey, Frodo’s to be specific.)
Size: 1920 x 1080 (HD)
Click here to download it.


Now, for the random stuff (yes, this post is long, consider it making up for future lack of posting): when I started this cartoon, I  thought of this book cover:

Don’t panic! That’s advice I could do with remembering! That’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for those who can’t tell.

And then… as I took this picture, I though “How many things are there sticking out about my head?! Seriously…” So then I made this (I was bored):

Okay, that is probably quite enough. I’m going to look for a novel plot now. Find me on Tumblr for more NaNo related stuff, or check the sidebar widget and good luck to everyone else participating!

Happy Hallowe’en! :[


On Writing – Stephen King (book review)

Click to view on Goodreads

I can hardly call myself a fan of Stephen King. I read one of his books once and I wasn’t mightily impressed. I’m sure he’s a good writer, but his chosen genre just isn’t for me. If anyone call tell me which of his books aren’t gory or horror-y, I’d like to try them out. Anyway, I spotted this book on my uni library’s new books exhibition. I think it was mostly the cover that drew my attention (and the urge to procrastinate some research I had to do). So I started flipping through it and it looked really interesting. It is called a “memoir”, but King not only talks about his life, but also about writing. He talks about how he started writing, how he writes now and he gives some tips to write well.

I decided I really wanted to read this book, but I couldn’t have it because it was still on the library’s exhibition and they get a bit miffed if you want to decrease the amount of books they can display. So, I waited. And waited. And waited some more until the library finally stopped showing it off and put it one the normal shelves. I read it in three days during odd moments. It was that captivating.

In the first part of this book, King talks about his own life. He starts at his childhood (And what a crazy childhood! Seriously, if you want to read about insane childhoods, read this!) and works his way all the way up to the present. He also writes about how he wrote his first short story, about all the rejection slips he got and how he finally got published in a magazine.

In second part, he gives out some writing tips. He shows why he hates adverbs and proceeds to give some examples of other authors’ work that he finds good. He also shows copies of some of his own first drafts, with all the changes and crossings out, so that you can get some idea of how much gets changed in the revision process.

I think this is a great book, because King speaks about his life and writing so naturally (argh, an adverb!). He does use profanity, he is scatological, but it comes across so natural – it is so clearly just the way he talks normally – that it doesn’t distract. I consider myself pretty unshockable on the language front – I’m a language student after all, so I’ve seen it used in all extreme forms – but the all I have seen is often done so incompetently by authors who seem to be trying too hard to sound bad-ass. It is not so with King: he is in his natural environment.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m always interested in reading about an author’s journey to being published. Perhaps it is because I hope it will give me some clue as to what the heck I should do.

So, in terms of giving me what it promised (interesting biography, interesting commenting on writing, and useful tips) this book succeeded completely. I hereby rate it:

I recommend it to anyone who likes autobiographies or writing. Especially recommended if you like both!

I know that I picked up a few tips for my writing during NaNoWriMo (Yes, I have made my decision. I’m doing it this year. More below.), the most valuable of which was probably the question “Who do you write for?” Who is your ideal reader? You know this person well, right? So, write what you know they’ll love. You know what will make them laugh and what will make them continue reading. Put all these things in and then you will have their perfect book. When it’s of acceptable quality, show it to them. By their reaction, you will know what is good and what you need to change. In them, you will have the perfect soundboard and fan.
For King, this ideal reader is his wife, Tabitha. Well, I know who my ideal reader is. I think I’ve always known…

On Writing by Stephen King is a wonderful book and I wish I had a copy of my own.


So… about NaNoWriMo… After much, much agonising I decided to participate. What am I writing?

I know I’ll regret it if I don’t participate. But the thing is, I don’t compete if I can’t win. (In it to win it! as we always say) I’m not going to enter knowing that I won’t finish anyway. I will finish it. I don’t give in. I did it under the same circumstances last year. But you see, last year I went into it blind. I made a split second decision just days before it started. Before I could second-guess myself, the madness had already started. Now, I know exactly what I am getting myself in for. I know the mental pain that NaNo causes. I know how bad week 3 is going to be (for most people week 2 is apparently the worst, but week 3 is my death). I know how hard it is going to be to study for final exams while writing 1667 words in an hour every day. I write exams right until the very end of November this year, so there is no reprieve for me.

On the other hand, I have some advantages that not all NaNo-ers have. I am extremely writing fit – I’ve written 750 words every day for more than 600 days in a row now. I can do those 750 words easily in 15 minutes – I can do it in 10 if I have to, but that means no capitalisation and lots of typos. I am also a language student, which not only means that I have the world’s finest literature in my mind, ready to draw upon for inspiration, but that I have developed awesome (not really) note-taking skills over three years of English and also basically my own shorthand. Those lecturers don’t hang around for you to figure out how to spell Houyhnhnm (hate that word).
Well, actually I just meant to say I can write very fast. 😛

So, there are my advantages to NaNoWriMo. But I haven’t mentioned the most important one yet: if it wasn’t for NaNo pushing me, I would never have had 1 and a half novels to my name. I need this extra motivation to start writing again… So, who’s joining me for this ultimate challenge?

Random vlog

In which I talk for 7 and a half minutes about nerdy obsessions, hobbits, NaNoWriMo, get distracted by absolutely everything flying past and look everywhere except at the camera.

I know I sound weird to most of the world. Sorry if it’s annoying! Also, I seemed to have developed an allergy to breathing lately, so my nose is all stuffy and… yeah.

Why does my voice sound so weird?

I look like a school kid doing a speech.

Just look at the camera, will you?

Bad quality, ergh. Glare. Ergh. Why does it lag there. Hate lag…

Why am I doing this?

Why am I such a boring conversationalist?! I only ever use one tone of voice!


Doubts and random pointless videos aside, there’ll be a new cartoon on Monday!

Writing soundtrack

Welcome to the first post where I am not going to draw anything or share a short story with you, but rather write about how I write. Remember I said I wanted to start sharing more of this, something which I only got a taste of during NaNoWriMo?


This post was inspired by something that I read over on Bethie’s HASH. She is busy with a writing challenge on different questions (Check it out, it’s really interesting if you are a writer!). The one that matters now was the one about writing and music with the question:

Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?


I was obviously all hugely excited by this post and eventually Bethie convinced me to make one too. So now I’m doing it. And probably blaming it on her as well.

(This is going to be long.)

Writing and music


Certainly I listen to music whilst I write. What would I be without the music I write to? That was a tad overdramatic perhaps, but it makes my point. I need music whilst I write – it is very seldom that I would write in silence.

I am also not the only one who feels this way, and neither am I the only one that begins to hear stories in music. One of my favourite authors, Diana Wynne Jones, said,

The Magicians of Caprona was odder than most, because I heard a piece of music and thought, ‘That ought to have words,’ and the story came into my head as I thought it.


I tend to pick what I listen to by need and theme, rather than any other reason. And I’ll admit it: I don’t like conventional, modern music. There will be the occasional pop song that I like and also the occasional rock number. But in general, I don’t like having to listen to those things. What I do like, is soundtracks. I’m crazy about the things actually. I believe that soundtrack-music plays such a large role in any theatre experience (it builds everything from emotion to tension) that it should get more recognition than it does. The only part of the Academy Awards that I am really interested in is the Oscar for Best Soundtrack. I remember being furious at the judges’ choice last year.

Thus, this means that the title of this post has a double meaning: not only does the music serve as a soundtrack to my writing, the music is also a soundtrack in its own right. And yes, before someone points this out to me in the comments, I do know that the correct term for the music to a film is “score”. I just don’t like that word. It’s not descriptive.


Though soundtracks do make up the majority of what I listen to at any time, not just when I’m writing, I do listen to other things as well. I like a bit of instrumental metal sometimes and also some folk (don’t judge). Also, I like to listen to trailer music, which is even more of a niche market than soundtracks. It is similar to soundtracks in that it is used in films (mostly only their trailers, hence the name) and commercials to create a mood, but different that they do not come in a series that, as a whole, tell an entire story. Trailer music is like a snippet out of a bigger story and I like it, because I can fill in the rest with my writing.

I listen a lot to the Lord of the Rings soundtracks (my favourite), How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter (especially the final soundtrack), the Tangled soundtrack and The Three Musketeers soundtrack.


Now… on to the specifics!


The first time that I actually started connecting certain tracks with writing and actually made a point of noticing that I did this, was during the first time that I did NaNoWriMo. That was when I set myself the challenge to do it at another time of year, because I could not make it in November: thus June/July 2010. The novel that I wrote during this time (and still have not finished) was dramatic, overly dramatic, satirical and verbose. I’ll tell you more about it someday, when it makes more sense to me.

Anyway, it was also during this time that I found an album by Two Steps From Hell, a production company that specializes in trailer music, Illumina. Then I went on and listened to it a lot.

Therefore there will always be a couple Illumina tracks that I will forever associate with writing:

Could’ve been…

I love you forever


The good news is… that that was not all that I listened to. There was one certain track that I used to write a death scene. What was it? Oh yes:

Remember When… This one is by Future World Music, another trailer music company. Future World Music actually became quite important to me during this time of my writing, because their track Dreamscapes and Wishes actually became the theme song to my novel.

But enough about this novel. There are quite a few more tracks that I associate with it, most notably Believe and Ashes of War, but let’s move on.


During one of my other novelling adventures, which I named Arcana for the lack of better ideas, I never realised how much I based the ending of my story off one of the songs that I listen to so much: Send Me a Song, by Celtic Woman. I believe it is sung by Lisa Kelly.

Without telling you the entire plot (which I still have not written the middle of), it was roughly a story about music and the awkward relationship between a girl and her boy friend (emphatically two words). There was lots of music and he broke the law. For which he was banished. So yes, if you listen to the lyrics of that song, you’ll hear another story very much like it. I only realised what I did much later! Smile with tongue out


My latest escapade into the world of music and writing was, of course, during NaNoWriMo 2011. This was certainly the story that was most influenced by music, of any of those that I had written. You see, I got my idea for the plot when listening to Now and Then by Blackmore’s Night. When I heard the lyrics, especially the bit that said “I’ll heal in time”, I knew I was going to write a cross between historical novel and science fiction, telling the story of a girl going time-travelling to make sense of the death of her husband. Snapshots of Time was born.

Whilst I was writing this novel, I listened to whatever was on hand and had a fast beat. I would do anything that could make me type faster, because I only had an hour each day to write, and I was trying to do 1,800 words every time. It was a challenge. I went through quite a lot of the Harry Potter soundtracks in that time. It kept me going. I have the complete collection, 1-8. I listened obsessively to Weasley Stomp, because it was the fastest track from it that I could find.


When things were a little calmer in NaNo land, I turned to Tuck Everlasting. I have never even watched this show, but the soundtrack reminds me of open fields and buttercups. Why buttercups I don’t know, because I’ve only ever seen a few in my life. I wouldn’t know why I have an association with the things!

When my novel turned sadder, I also had my go-to tracks. Schindler’s List of course remains one of the ultimate tracks, and then there were also things like Hymn to the Fallen, out of Saving Private Ryan.


I should really stop now with this post. It has gotten completely out of control! I won’t even get started on favourite composers!


I hope everyone who read this far enjoyed it in its pictureless-state. You’d better. You’ve no idea how long it took me to write this thing! Winking smile


NaNoWriMo: One for the bucket list

That’s right! I won NaNoWriMo 2011!




I was finished with my 50,000 words with 20 minutes of my 30 days still to go. Last time I did it I finished with half an hour to spare. You cannot say I am not stable in my WriMo habits! Winking smile Last time I won, lying in bed in a holiday resort, with only a small bed lamp, a clock on the microwave and my exercise book and pencil to accompany me. Oh, and my father’s snores for background music.


It feels… awesome.

50156 words

Ha! I beat last time’s word count with 16 words – epic huh?


I really also don’t have one single word left in me for this novel. It is also now finished. I was really just rambling to fill up words because there was really nothing left to say.

Do you know I’ve never actually finished before? That’s right: I. Have. Never. Finished a Novel. Before. But I just did! Open-mouthed smile

Oh, I have started hundreds of things, but I have never finished a whole novel. Even last time I ended up being so long-winded that I finished my 50,000 words but being only a quarter through the story. Though I did repeat a lot in that thing. Every time I didn’t know what to say next I had the people repeat the same ancient legend to each other. I should finish it someday – I like that story!


Anyway, here is what my stats for the months looked like:

National Novel Writing Month

Please ignore it on those two occasions where it says I did not write for the day. I wrote every day. I was just twice too late to update my new word count before midnight so then it ended up looking as though I did not write one day and then wrote heaps the second.

I find it especially amusing where it says “At this rate you will finish on December 1, 2011”. I very nearly did, having validated my novel with 10 minutes to spare! Phew! I was quite nervous there that it would not go through – I had heard the site can get pretty laggy on the last day and I was scared it would crash, but it was just as fast as always for me. I guess it is because I am ahead of the USA (where the most WriMos are) in time zone, so the lag hasn’t started yet!


Anyway, this is what I look like at the moment:


I also earned my NaNo badge in today. I decided to go for both at the same time, because I might as well paste my novel in there as a sort of back-up! Yay! Smile



Anyway, it is now very early in the morning of the first day of December. November is over – can you believe it?! I even passed my final French exam excellently well (for me) through all this novelling going on. And now… with all this over, this new novelist will be off to bed. Yes, I am that boring.


I’ll try and be back tomorrow in my old capacity (as a cartoonist and creative writer and not a WriMo) and try not to brag about my victory too much. Sorry, I know all this nagging is annoying.

There are quite a few things I have to say!



NaNoWriMo: week 3 is the hardest

Hi. I do NaNoWriMo. I’m behind again on my word count. I’m losing momentum, and I got Week Three blues rather badly. Writer’s block is when your invisible friends won’t talk to you, right? Yes, that is what is happening right now. But now we’re into Week Four, going down the homestretch and the end is in sight. Am I supposed to be more cheerful now? I’ll try. I experienced the same thing last time. Weeks 1 and 3 are the worse. In 1, because you are wondering “why am I doing this?” and “what am I actually going to do if I’m doing this for reals?” And in 3, simply because you are starting to run out of steam and the end seems too far.

The other thing is, I would like you, my dear reader, to vote in my poll, down below. Please scroll down – it’ll only take a minute and hardly any of your brain power! Smile

I’ll really appreciate it! Thank you! Red heart

The weather right now is not helping at all. It’s supposed to be baking – it’s November, it’s summer, but instead I froze under a blanket all day. Two days ago, you could not breathe for humidity, but then last night the heavens opened and the little stream not 200m from our house completely burst its banks and took everything that it could reach (no people at least, apparently) along with it, including rather large boulders. Likely it wants them to bash people over the head with. Anyway, I hate weather like this, because it just wants to make me sulk in bed all day, but I still have more than 13,000 words to go for that novel, I have a 1000-word assignment to do for Friday (it looks like a lot right now, that I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about isn’t helping) and I write my last exam for the year also on Friday morning. Then I’m done with Second Year! I just have to pass French… somehow… Smile with tongue out

Righto! I can do this, can’t I? Most things are salvageable in NaNoWriMo. My motto for last time (which went much worse than this time round) was:

NaNo motto

It is still relevant. I’m far too stubborn and proud to lose. Because then I would have to admit failure.

Okie-dokie, seeing that I have already run out of both things to say and time, how does an excerpt sound?

After the important passengers had disembarked, this man also starting moving towards the gangplank. Abrielle fell in behind him, deciding to follow him a little way to perhaps learn a little more of his story. They stood at the top of the gangplank, waiting for some of the sweating sailors to finish manhandling a heavy sea chest down the gangplank. Then the man walked down the gangplank, cradling his bundle, Abrielle walking in his steps. Once on the quay, the man turned around and around on the spot, apparently looking for someone.

He scanned the heads of the crowd and stretched his neck, trying to see farther. But still he did not find who or what he was looking for. He turned around again, but still nothing. Within moments, he was surrounded by the merchants chanting about their wares. He shook his head at all of them, but as some of them gave up and left, more came up and took their place. Quite a lot of them walked right through Abrielle, apparently not even feeling it in the press of the other crowds.

The sun was westering, and in the golden evening light, most of the merchants gave up on the strange man and left him alone. He still stood on the quay. The sun etched his profile in dark lines. He simply stood looking at the people. Then, with a visible sigh and sagging of the shoulders, he gave up with his fruitless scanning of the crowds. He set off towards the distant houses, beyond the stalls, walking slowly, dejectedly. Abrielle watched him go, not following him any more.

Then she started wondering about this man’s story. Who had he been waiting for? Why had that person never come? What could have happened? Had there simply been a misunderstanding, with months on the sea separating them and leading to a confusion of dates and times? Or had something more serious happened? Death? Illness? Rejection?

Around her, parrots screeched and merchants were still shouting about their wares. There was even a man who was blowing on a flute to a snake that was swaying on the lower part of its body, but it all became background buzz to Abrielle. Suddenly, all she could think of was the unfinished story of this man. This man who had come home after a long journey on the sea, clutching a precious bundle all wrapped up in cloth, but the person who had promised to be here when he landed did not appear. She wondered whether his story would still have a happy ending, or whether only sad news awaited him. But now she would never know.

© All rights reserved. ElanaE. 2011.


A Poll

So, this is something that has been on my mind for a while… I have actually contemplated this before starting up this blog. I want to make origami tutorials. Yes, right, I write how-to articles on in over on wikiHow, but not every tool that I want to use to do this is allowed / possible to code over there. And some of the stuff I am not sure about the copyright. I have asked there before, but no-one could give me a definite answer and I don’t want to break laws on a site with strong copyright rules and a reputation like wikiHow.

So. The Point.

In this upcoming holiday, I’m continuing to live the dream (first NaNoWriMo and now origami) and I am going to start with origami tutorials. But I want to know from you should I create a new blog and do it there, or should I just make a separate page and category for them over here?
Naturally, wherever I end up doing it, I will link to the new tutorials in my regular posts and cartoons (soon, I promise) over here.

Will the extra, off-topic stuff make this blog too chaotic? Will a new blog leave my poor tutorials lost in cyberspace?

What do YOU think?

Vote here! It’s easy: just click Start a separate blog, or Keep it all together.
(And if you don’t vote, then I’m just gonna do what I want, and you’re not allowed to complain later. Right? This is democracy.)


I made this. It’s generally applicable to girls, I guess. I don’t much know what goes on in guys’ heads when they watch these kind of ads.


Now I’ll be off. Enough procrastinating for one day! (Yeah, right. Famous last words!)


Both images come from Chibird @ Tumblr. Check it out – her stuff is awesome!

I’m hovering between stages 4 and 5, right now, by the way.