Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: November 22 – 28

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week!

Total Word Count for the Week: 11,952

Top Writing Day: Tuesday was my top writing day with 5,757 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on my NaNo novel, Homeland, and after I finished NaNo, I worked on a couple of fanfictions I’ve been wanting to write since starting NaNo.

The Good News: I finished NaNo, and I finished my novel! YEAH! I finished it up on Tuesday (hence the insane amount of words written on that day! :)), and I can’t believe I’m done. The final word count of my novel was 40,036 which was 5,036 words over my goal.

The Bad News: I know that writing the first draft is only the first step. I have a boatload more work to do later when I edit and rewrite.

Lesson Learned: I learned a ton from NaNoWriMo this year, and one of those things is the importance of not giving up on a novel idea, and to just keep writing.

Goal for Next Week: I’m not planning on setting a goal for myself this week. After finishing NaNo, I’m giving my brain a bit of a rest by taking a week off from writing. I’ll probably still write some fanfictions for the fun of it, though.

If you’d like to share your weekly wrap-up, go ahead and post it in the comments below!

~ Kayla

An Interesting Word – Cornucopia

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of the holiday today, I thought I’d do an interesting word relating to Thanksgiving, so I picked cornucopia. While it’s a common word (especially at this time of year), it’s also a very interesting one.

Cornucopia has two main definitions. It can mean either a container that is shaped like a horn and is full of fruits and flowers and other edibles or a great abundance of something, according to various online dictionaries. It’s from the Latin cornu copiae which means “horn of plenty.” Cornucopias probably started in Greek mythology. According to the myth, the Greek god Zeus, while in hiding from his father Cronus, was fed by a goat named Amalthea.  The goat’s horn was broken off at some point and was given powers to provide sustenance that never ran out. The cornucopia, it was later believed, could be filled with whatever the person who held it desired. I would want my cornucopia filled with chocolate! 🙂

Here’s a link to a video of how to make a cornucopia out of bread. It’s really cool!



Quote of the Week

Welcome to this week’s quote! It comes from Robert Cormier, an American author of  many books including The Chocolate War. I really like this quote because with NaNo wrapping up this week, I’m feeling a bit down about my novel. Although it is finished (Yeah! I completed NaNoWriMo last night!), it’s not really finished. It is far from perfect, and I know there are massive amounts of editing to do in December. Then I remind myself that editing is a good thing because any part I am not thrilled with or that doesn’t make sense, I can fix and make it better.

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” – Robert Cormier

~ Kayla

The Adventure Begins – Part 6

Today I’m posting the final part of my OC Hobbit fanfiction, “The Adventure Begins.” This six part series relates the story of the time between Bag End, where Nerissa, my OC, meets the company, and the next big movie scene with the trolls. In the last part, Kili and Nerissa rescued Fili from the river, and now we find out if Fili survived his swim! (If you hadn’t guessed already ;))

Suddenly, Fili sputtered, coughed, and spit out water. “Kili?” he asked weakly, seeing his brother leaning over him.

Fili didn’t stand a chance. Kili grabbed him and hugged him tightly. “You’re okay!”

Fili coughed some more, and Kili pounded him on his back again, trying to help him bring up the rest of the river water. “I’m fine, Kili, I’m fine,” Fili protested, pushing Kili’s arm away.

I hung back, shyly, not wanting to interrupt the reunion. I felt all my panic and energy dissipate as I stood there, and I suddenly realized just how cold I really was. My teeth started to chatter, and I leaned against Gildin, hoping that his heat could keep me warm.

“What happened?” Fili asked.

“Our ponies spooked, and we were tossed in the river. We were washed downstream and separated. I was able to grab a rock in the river,” Kili turned and smiled in my direction. “Soon afterwards, Nerissa showed up and found me. She rescued me.”

Kili bounded up, strode over to where I was standing, and unexpectedly threw his arms around me . “Thank you so much, Nerissa, for saving us. We couldn’t ask for a better friend. In fact, you’re better than a friend. You’re the sister we never had.”

I was so startled I didn’t know what to do, except to hug Kili back.

He kept one arm around my shoulder and almost dragged me back to where Fili was. “Thank you. I really mean it. I can’t say it enough times.”

I knew my cheeks were scarlet. “You’re welcome.”

“Kili! Fili! Nerissa!” We heard shouts coming from the forest behind us.

“Over here!” Kili yelled, and dropping his arm from my shoulder, waved the rider over.

I heard the clip-clop of pony hooves, and Bilbo arrived looking very relieved. “Kili and Fili? Are you two all right?”

“We’re fine, thanks to Nerissa,” Kili responded.

“Thorin is worried about you. He sent the company out to find you after you three didn’t come back.” Bilbo hopped off his pony. “What happened?”

“We were thrown into the river, and Nerissa rode in and saved us. We just found Fili. I don’t think he has enough strength to walk,” Kili informed Bilbo, gesturing to an exhausted-looking Fili.

“H-H-H-He’s also f-f-f-freezing. He n-n-needs to get w-w-warm,” I added.

“As does Nerissa,” Bilbo noted at the sound of my chattering teeth.

Kili, however, was all energy, and didn’t seem the least bit cold. He began issuing orders. “Bilbo, you take Fili. I’ll ride with Nerissa.”

I blinked, my freezing state temporarily forgotten, shocked by Kili’s willingness to ride with me. I must have looked horrified, because Kili asked, “Is that okay, Nerissa?”

I nodded, not trusting myself to say anything, and simply climbed onto Gildin’s back. Kili helped his brother onto the back of Bilbo’s pony.

He swung up behind me. “Well, let’s go.”

I obediently directed Gildin to follow Bilbo’s pony, and we started the trek back to camp. We rode in silence, which was fine with me because I was too tired to talk, and I had a lot to think over. I couldn’t believe how things had changed. I had been the target of Kili’s tricks, and now I was accepted by him and called family. No matter what else happened on this adventure, I knew I had made a friend for life.

Gildin’s hooves clipped along in a steady rhythm as we got closer to camp. Arriving there, I reigned Gildin in, and Kili swung down first, and offered me his hand like a true gentleman. Shocked again, I took it, and he helped me down.

“What happened to you two?” I recognized the gruff voice of Thorin Oakenshield as he started to question his nephew.

“The ponies spooked, and we were washed downstream. Nerissa rode into the river and saved me. We rode downstream, and found Fili,” Kili explained for the third time today.

Thorin turned his attention to me, and I realized he was going to want the whole story. My teeth chattered. I was shivering badly, and it wasn’t entirely from the cold. It would be awful to survive the violent waters of the river to die under the menacing glare of Thorin Oakenshield. I clutched at Gildin’s reigns as if hoping they would give me the strength I needed to talk to the leader of the company himself.

“What happened?” demanded Thorin.

“I-I-I-I-I-I-“ I tried to verbalized the first word. Bofur walked over, carrying a blanket. He gently wrapped it around my shoulders, and gave me a couple encouraging pats on the back. I swallowed hard, and steadied by Bofur’s kindness, replied to the intimidating dwarf in front of me. “After the ponies spooked, sir, I followed them, thinking I could stop them before they went much farther,” I paused for a second, and looking around, realized the dwarves had gathered to where Kili, Thorin, and I were standing and were intently listening to my story.

“The ponies reached the river before I could catch them, though, and there was no sign of either brother. So, I thought Kili and Fili must be in the river and needed help. I didn’t want to see them drowned, so I rode Gildin in.” The company murmured its approval for my choices, and I relaxed and started to actually enjoy relating the story.

Gloin handed me a mug of something hot. Taking a sip and smiling my thanks, I continued my story. “Well, the water was icy cold, and I couldn’t see Kili. The current was so strong poor Gildin had trouble keeping his footing.”

Bofur interrupted my story telling, commenting, “You were very brave, lass.”

I smiled and blushed slightly, realizing that not only had Kili accepted me, but the rest of the company was accepting me as well.

“I kept riding, and finally, I spotted Kili, and he … ”

Kili interrupted me and started in on his own version of the story. “I was clinging to a rock in the middle of the river when she found me. She asked if I was okay, and then offered me a ride.” He dramatically acted out the story, causing the dwarves to laugh.

“And then what did you do?” Thorin growled beside me. I stared over at him, remembering that he was listening to my tale as well, and not just the company. To my surprise, he actually looked rather interested.

“Well, sir, Kili pulled himself up, and we continued looking for Fili,” I said, directing my statement at Thorin.

“We couldn’t find him though,” chimed in Kili. “But we kept searching and searching, riding far downstream, and Nerissa finally spotted him.”

“And Kili jumped off of Gildin into the water … ” I started to tell the rest of the tale, when Kili broke in again.

“And I grabbed Fili and pounded him on the chest …”

“And then he turned me over and pounded on my back … ” Fili broke in. Once again the dwarves broke out in laughter.

“And Fili was alive and okay, and that’s when Bilbo showed up, and we rode back!” I finished off the story.

The dwarves were silent for a moment, and I was left wondering nervously what that meant.

“I think she’s earned her place in the company, right lads?” cried Bofur, breaking the silence.

“Agreed!” Kili shouted back.

The entire company yelled their agreement, and I was swallowed up in a sea of hugs and approbation. I heard “good job” and “brave girl” over and over again. I couldn’t stop smiling, I was so happy to be accepted into their midst, and to finally, truly have a place in the company of Thorin Oakenshield.

Suddenly, our shouts and conversation were interrupted when Thorin commanded, “Get a fire going. These three need to get dried off and warmed up. We’ve lost a lot of time today. We rise at first light.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” I sighed unhappy about the early morning, but content to finally feel at home in the company.

Thanks for sticking around for six weeks of my fanfiction! Next week we’ll be leaving Middle Earth and will travel to Minnesota for some holiday fun with Arden and Ben.

~ Kayla


How to Lose NaNoWriMo

After today, there are five more days remaining in NaNoWriMo. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about how many more words there are left to write before midnight on November 30th in order to win. And for those of you unfamiliar with NaNo, winning means that you complete your novel’s word goal set at the beginning of November (50,000 words for adults, young writers set their own goals). Now, I don’t know about you, but I really want to win NaNoWriMo.  But I guess, if for some reason, you didn’t want to win NaNo, you certainly don’t have to. For those of you who don’t want to win, I thought I’d be helpful and compose a list of four sure-fire ways to lose NaNo (please read this post in the slightly sarcastic tone it was written in :)).

1. Change your plot idea.

If you’re looking for a way not to win NaNo, then switch your novel idea halfway through the month. In fact, the more you switch your plot idea, the more likely you’ll be to lose. You’ll get so far behind in your word count that you’ll never catch up. Of course, if for some reason you WANTED to win NaNo, then it would be best to stick with using the same old idea you started with.

2. Don’t join.

You are supposed to sign up for NaNo by November 1 (although it is fine if you sign up later). Of course, if you don’t ever officially join, you can’t officially win. And when you don’t sign up, you also can’t reap the benefits of winning like a “winner’s certificate, good for bragging rights on all seven continents, and starting December 5, many more winner goodies (including bound copies of your novel, writer tools, and publishing opportunities!)” (from http://nanowrimo.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/161377-how-do-you-win-nanowrimo-and-what-are-the-prizes). Also, when you don’t register, you can’t receive any help from the NaNoWriMo forums when you’re stuck on a plot or can’t seem to find the right name for a character, and you can’t enjoy the social clubs where you can meet other writers who like the same things you do. If you want to lose, you definitely don’t want any support or encouragement.

3. Start Late

Another way to ensure that you don’t win NaNoWriMo is to start late. Very late. Don’t bother even beginning your novel until the last week or so. In fact, you should start today. That way you can rush around, try and write 10,000 words a day, fail, and not win, which is what you want to do, right? 😉

4. Give Up

Of course, the most certain way to never win NaNoWriMo is to give up. Just step away from that keyboard or put that pen down, and stop writing! Tell yourself that you had no chance of making it anyway, and it’s for the best that you don’t keep writing. Make sure you come up with at least one excuse. Not enough time, not a great story or plot, flat characters – whatever works best for you is the reason you should use for giving up.

Now, if you have changed your mind and decided you want to win NaNoWriMo, just do the opposite of what this list told you to do. But really, who wants to do that? 😉 Truthfully, though, winning NaNo is achievable. You don’t have to write brilliantly or even edit before turning it in for the final count. And then, even if you never do anything else with your novel, you have the satisfaction of knowing you won NaNoWriMo.

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: November 15 – 21

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week!

Total Word Count for the Week: 9951

Top Writing Day: Saturday was my top writing day with 1634 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on my NaNo novel, Homeland.

The Good News: I made my goal this week again, and I’m ahead of schedule for NaNo!

The Bad News: I really don’t have any bad news this week. My novel is going great.

Lesson Learned: I wish I had done the adult version of NaNo. Looking back, I think I could have done it. Oh well, there’s always next year! 🙂

Goal for Next Week: My goal for next week is the same as this week, 1,167.

If you’d like to share your weekly wrap-up, go ahead and post it in the comments below!

~ Kayla

Character Names – Michio and Sakiko

I love everything and anything Japanese. I draw manga, I want to learn Japanese, and I would love to travel to Japan one day. And who doesn’t love the adorable kawaii animals, dolls, and drawings that are just so, well, kawaii? I also love Japanese names. They have such an exotic sound to my western ears, and they have beautiful meanings, too.

The first name is a Japanese boy’s name. Michio is said just how it looks, “mee-chee-oh.” It means “man with the strength of three thousand” according to http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Michio. There is actually a famous American theoretical physicist named Michio Kaku.

The second name is a Japanese girl’s name. Sakiko is said just how it looks, as well, “sa-kee-ko.” It’s a beautiful name with an equally beautiful meaning, “blossom child,” according to http://www.babynamespedia.com/meaning/Sakiko.

Either name would be great to use for a contemporary novel or, of course, manga or anime.

I hope I’ve given you some names that you’ll be able to use for your next characters! If you’re interested in more information, here’s a great website that explains how Japanese names work. http://www.sljfaq.org/afaq/names-for-people.html

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Welcome to this week’s quote! Today’s quote comes from Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451.  Even though this is a short quote, I really liked it because I thought it was perfect for those of us doing NaNo. We’re coming down to the home stretch with only 10 more days to go. What an encouraging reminder to just keep writing!

“You fail only if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury

~ Kayla

The Adventure Begins – Part 5

Today I’m posting part 5 of “The Adventure Begins,” my OC Hobbit fanfiction. Throughout the story, Nerissa has been learning how unprepared she is for an adventure and how dangerous an adventure really is. In this part, Nerissa and Kili try to find Fili, who is missing after being thrown into the river by his spooked pony.

“Fili!” we called again. The only sound we heard in return was the rushing of the water. It swirled around us, reaching up, grabbing us with its icy fingers. My initial panic returned and gripped my heart, making it pound madly. I knew we had to find Fili, and we had to find him quickly. If he was trapped under the water, it might already be too late. I twisted in my saddle, trying to scan the riverbanks and the river all at the same time, feeling a renewed sense of the pressing time.

I shouted back to Kili, attempting to make myself heard over the roar of the river, “I don’t see him.”

“Let’s keep searching!” Kili shouted back. “We’ve got to find him!”

Hoping I couldn’t see Fili because of the way we were positioned in the water, I slowly spun Gildin around, trying to catch a glimpse of the dwarf clinging to one of the rocks jutting out of the water, or on the grassy bank, or on one of the logs caught up in the torrent of rain water and debris. Despair filled my heart as I still had no sight of him. I pushed the emotion back, determined not to give up until he was found.

“We should head downstream a bit more! He might have been washed down, like you were.” I waved my arm in that direction, to emphasize my words.

Kili agreed with a nod of his head.

With our plan laid out, I signaled Gildin to start moving downstream again. The horse cautiously stepped through the water.  The current was so strong at times, it almost swept us away. I was thankful again and again for my faithful, brave horse. I scoured the bank and river, watching for any little movement, hoping it was Fili. The river was filled with branches and leaves all swept away by the torrential downpour we’d had earlier. Feeling the boughs snag my dress and scratch my legs, made me grow even more anxious to find Fili and get him to safety. I continued my searching, but there was no sign of the dwarf.

“Where are you, brother?” a frustrated Kili exclaimed behind me. “Why can’t we find you?” The only answer to his question was the continual roar of the river.

“Fili!” we called periodically, hoping he’d answer. Every time we’d shout for Fili, Kili would sit motionless, listen, look hopeful, and then realizing there was no answer, go back to calling. I continued scanning the river, hoping my good eyesight would be able to spot the dwarf in the dark waters.

“Wait! Is that him?” Kili’s sudden, hopeful shout broke my concentration, and I twisted around to see where he was pointing. “There!” Kili indicated. I followed the direction of his finger to a brown object on the bank. In my excited state, I thought it was Fili for a moment, and I almost shouted, “It’s him!” Then I realized the object was covered in bark.

“A log.” I shook my head and gave Kili a sympathic smile. I wished I didn’t have to be the one to tell him that it wasn’t his brother.

Kili swallowed and looked grim.

“We’ll find him,” I encouraged loudly, but I felt just as defeated as Kili looked. There was no sight or sound of his brother, and we had been in the river quite a long time. As we advanced further downstream, we continued looking for him, trying to see behind every log and every rock. The great dwarven rescue was feeling less like a rescue and more like a failure. I would have given anything in that moment to see Fili okay again. Please, please, please don’t die. Please.

“Fili!” Kili shouted once again, his voice catching, as if he was trying not to cry. I turned around in the saddle, so I could see him. He turned his head away, but I could still see the tears, threatening to fall.

I tried to repeat my earlier encouragement, “We’ll find him,” but my voice caught, and I suddenly felt my own eyes well up with tears.

Kili met my eyes and tried to smile slightly. “We’ll find him,” he said over and over, almost as if by repeating the phrase he could make his brother magically appear.

A section of bank, almost completely hidden behind a bend in the river, appeared ahead. Gildin followed it, continuing his course. My eyes were glued to this new area, hoping that Fili would be there. Past the bend, the shoreline changed, and I was afraid if he made it that far he would be severely injured on this great rocky outcrop. We’ll find him, we’ll find him I said to myself, trying to steady my nerves with the magic phrase. I stopped suddenly seeing something, clinging to the bank. My heart pounded. Could it be? “Fili?” I whispered, more to myself than anyone else. Then I recognized him as Gildin stepped closer. “Fili!”

Kili gripped my arm painfully and demanded, “Do you see him?”

“Yes, I do!” I urged Gildin forward, pushing the weary horse on. “Come on boy, faster!” I begged.

Kili couldn’t take it any longer. He dropped off the horse and waded through the water, yelling his brother’s name. I rode Gildin in a bit more before jumping off myself. The icy water lapped at my hips, and I suddenly felt colder than I had ever felt in my entire life. I grabbed Gildin’s reins and hurried towards the shore.

I stepped onto the bank just as Kili roughly pushed his brother over on his back, grabbed his shoulders and shook him, all the while saying, “Fili! Can you hear me?” Fili didn’t respond, so Kili grabbed him, turned him over again and pounded on his back. “Fili! Fili!”

Find out if Fili survives or not next week. Ok, ok, we all know he does (at least for now), but still come back and read the final part anyway. 🙂

~ Kayla


NaNoWriMo Workshop

This Saturday, my local library held a NaNoWriMo workshop. This was the first time I’d ever been to something like this, so I had no idea what to expect. Would it be packed full of people, or would I be the only one there? Would we sit and write for two hours in silence, or would it be a formal class? Would there be other teen writers, or would I be the only one? Armed with my laptop, I nervously entered the meeting room, unsure of what I would find.

Two ladies already sat at the tables. I knew immediately the one was a writer; she just had that “writer vibe” about her. The other lady had a giant feather pen, so I assumed she was a writer, too. As I was joining them at the table, the first lady, whose name I later learned was Tamarisk (which would be a great character name!), asked me straight off about my word count and story line. I knew I was definitely at a NaNoWriMo workshop when the first thing I was asked about was my word count. 🙂 As  I pulled my laptop out of its bag and chatted about NaNo, I started feeling  a bit more comfortable. Soon after another lady joined us. She wasn’t signed up for NaNo, but wanted to learn about writing.

Then the GREAT OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT reverberated throughout the library. “The National Novel Writing Month workshop is now beginning. If you are here for the workshop, please make your way to the meeting room.” Two more people from the library wandered in, and when asked if they were there for NaNo, both responded, “What’s NaNoWriMo?” Both were interested in writing, but had no idea what NaNo was. Two teen writers came in a bit later. One of them was doing NaNo and just hadn’t officially signed up. The other hadn’t heard of NaNo before, but had a novel started.

For the next hour and half, we sat and talked and wrote. The conversations covered all sorts of topics like:

  1. Basic NaNo explanation and rules
  2. Characters, especially killing off characters
  3. Story ideas
  4. NaNoWriMo forums (Apparently there is a procrastination help forum – a forum that helps you procrastinate. Who knew?)
  5. Publication
  6. Pantsers vs. Planners

At the end, I wasn’t at all nervous and even jumped into the conversation a bit. I really enjoyed getting a chance to talk and write with a bunch of other writers and had an enjoyable time. I was really surprised that some of the people there didn’t know about NaNo, but I guess that’s what an event like this is for – to educate people and help them with NaNo. Tamarisk did a great job as leader/moderator of the group, and I learned quite a bit about NaNoWriMo from her 6 years of experience! I’m hoping that next year I’ll be able to go to another workshop and get some more writing done.