Preptober Week 3 – Determining Your Goals

Happy Monday!

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching so now is the time to kick our prepping into high gear, and get some stories planned. Today we will be discussing all things goals for NaNoWriMo and how to have an overall successful and productive month!

 

Step 1: Create Big SMART Goals

I always bring up SMART goals whenever I make a blog post centred around goals because these are the type of goals you need to focus on making. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound, and by following these five words, you will create goals you can ACTUALLY achieve! When making goals, it is important to make them as directed and specific as possible and to make sure they are goals you can achieve in the time given. Some examples of my big, overall NaNoWriMo goals are:

  • Edit and re-outline character profiles, world history, and act I, II, III by October 31st – I specify what I want to edit and re-outline and also by what date = SMART goal!
  • Write 50k words by November 30th – This is a SMART goal because I determine how many words I want to write by whatever date, and I have achieved it before so I know it is attainable!

Step 2: Create Smaller SMART Goals

Now it is time to narrow our focus into the individual days of November and figure out what daily goals we can make to help lead us to success. The main goal in NaNoWriMo is to write 50k words in 30 days but in order to do that, you need to write at least 1,667 words per day. Maybe you can’t write that much a day though, and 1,667 words in a writing session is a rare, amazing occurrence. Whatever the case, you need to tailor these daily goals to your life and make them attainable so you are not letting yourself down at the end of the day and month. While 1,667 words are the average daily goal, maybe your goal needs to only be 1,000 words a day or maybe you write a lot and want your daily goal to be 2,000 words!

I also recommend if you have the time during the day, to split your NaNo writing session into two or even three sessions. For example, on the weekends (this is only what happens during Camp NaNo or NaNo, I don’t do this every weekend!) I like to write for three 30 minute sessions because, in the end, I finish the day with up to 3,000 words! That way, I still have time to get other things done but still get a lot of writing done. Figure out what works best for you in order to attain your personal daily goal so you can finish the day with the largest amount of words possible!

Step 3: Set Up a Reward System

Now that you have your big and small goals created, it is time to put in place a fun reward system! Whenever you hit a big, overall goal, like you write 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo, reward yourself with a big reward! For example, when I reach 50k I plan on giving myself a weekend free of writing where I get to watch Netflix and basically do whatever I want. November is not only busy because of NaNoWriMo, but also because school really picks up for me during this month so I know I am going to be exhausted by the time November 30th rolls around. When it comes to the smaller, daily goals, I like to give myself little rewards at the end of the week if I have written 5-7 days of that last week. Here are some smaller reward ideas!:

  • 30 mins of Netflix
  • A writing session at a coffee shop!
  • 30 mins at the gym (I know this might not be a reward exactly, but if you use some spare time to workout you will feel AMAZING. Trust me)
  • Reading time! (I don’t know about you, but finding time to read the books I want has been incredibly hard, so this will definitely be a reward for me)
  • Adventure to the bookstore

Step 4: Displaying Your Goals

It is important to have these goals AND your possible rewards displayed somewhere you will always see them. Whether that is when you first wake up or when you sit down to write, have them put up somewhere looking all pretty and exciting for you to see and be reminded of. I know you probably already wrote these goals down, but now take a clean piece of paper and make them colourful and lively; something that will catch your eye.

Okay! Those are the four steps to creating smart goals for NaNoWriMo! Now, to make sure these are truly smart and achievable goals, ask yourself if you know what your overall goals are for the month and how you are going to achieve each one. Know each step, or at least have it written out for you, and remind yourself of the deadlines and rewards for when you finish them!

I hope you found this blog post helpful and that you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below for more bookish and writing related content. Thanks 🙂

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The Shadow King

Happy Friday!

One sort of “resolution” for my blog was to share my own writing from time to time…so that is what I am doing! This is an older story of mine…maybe like from 1.5 years ago when I was 15, but I still wanted to share it because it is polished and well, finished. Can’t really say that about any other of my other writing projects…but anyways, if you want to critique it or give me feedback, don’t hesitate! Tell me you like it, tell me you hate it…whatever your heart contents.


 

Her cloak was a flashing torrent of black as she zipped through the forest. Gnarled roots twisted out of the ground, but the princess skipped over them with beads of sweat dripping down her face and thighs screaming of pain. Her blue nightgown caught on a root and she slammed into a tree trunk, gasping, pushing the hood of her cloak off of her inky curls. She dropped to her knees, exhaustion blurring the edges of her vision. Her eyes scanned around. The towering trees had swallowed her up, shielding her from the outside world with their bushy tops. When she looked over her shoulder there was no sign of her castle in the distance, its vine-twisted, cobblestone walls and candlelit windows now just a faint memory of bitter times.

A silver coin winked down at her from high up in the sky, sprinkles of gold-dusted around it. The moon. Had she been running for that long already? She looked around. Night had settled over the forest. It cast its thick shadows which danced in the small slivers of moonlight, and its crisp wind which swept through the leaves. Pinching her lips together, she pushed herself to her feet and wandered deeper into the forest. The princess’s shoulders tensed, her neck angled and grey eyes keen as they scanned around.

Crunch. She stopped, breath trapped in her chest and fingers halting mid twitch. Goosebumps sprouted along her arms as she took another step forward, the icy claw of fear seizing her throat.

Snap. Her heart leapt from her chest and onto the ground. She placed a hand over her gaping mouth. Past the darkness, something flailed from behind a tree, and a deep groan echoed throughout the forest. Fingers trembling and knees wobbling, she shuffled towards the tree, carefully skirting around it in a big arc. Behind it, a wedge of moonlight trickled down onto a pile of leaves. Something twitched on those leaves; a body angled oddly with a face concealed in the shadows of the night. The princess swallowed down the bulging lump in her throat.

“Hello?” she croaked and then cleared her throat, balling her hands into shaky fists. “Hello?” she called out again. A wheezy breath rattled in the lungs of the body at her feet. The princess grimaced. “Excuse me…are you okay?” Several heartbeats passed, and she was only answered by silence.

Help me,” a raspy voice hissed, and she whirled around, expecting to see someone lurking behind her but there was nothing. It was the lump on the leaves that spoke. She turned back around, her stomach flipping at the face which was now illuminated in the pale moonlight. It was the face of a young man with sickly skin so white traces of blue veins shone underneath, and dark streaks of blood and dirt were slashed across his cheeks. He blinked, his eyes a dull blue, like the sky before a rainstorm. The princess could tell his eyes were once a brilliant blue, maybe even like the ocean on a summer day, but now they were leeched of their colour and empty. His clothes were torn and tattered, and like his face, blood and dirt stained. Her eyes flicked down to his arms and legs, which had deep, bloody gashes carved into them. The princess looked away, fist pressed against her sealed lips.

“What happened to you?” she asked breathlessly. His blue eyes darted around nervously, and his skin was shiny with sweat. The princess’s heart twisted, and she reached down for his frail hand. It was ice cold and thin under hers. He glanced down at their hands, his entire body tremoring before relaxing.

“What happened to you?” She shook her head. “Who did this to you?”

“The…” he started, his voice hitching and his eyes wide. “The Shadow King.” The princess flew away from him like he had suddenly caught on fire, the blood slowly draining itself from her body. “I was a prisoner,” he continued, pulling his arms and legs to his chest, “for two years in his castle.” He shuddered, eyes fluttering shut as poisonous memories tainted his mind. A seed of uneasiness planted itself in her stomach, and she no longer felt as sympathetic for the young man as she did a few seconds ago.

“How did you escape?” she asked, shaking as that name rang inside her mind. The Shadow King. Her mother used to tell her stories of a king who lived underneath their land for centuries. An ambitious king made of darkness and shadows who was tired of living beneath the feet of humans. A king who was building up an army to take over the lands above. The only thing was that it wasn’t a story, but a fragment of history people chose to forget. Until now.

“He let me go,” the young man said, leaning over and coughing. A dark liquid blossomed on the ground next to him and the world tilted under the princess’s feet.

“The Shadow King doesn’t just…let people go,” she said as the young man rolled onto his back, sweat dribbling down his forehead and his chest heaving up and down. The princess bit her lip. “Tell me the truth.” The young man sighed and looked up at her through the corner of his eyes, defeat and exhaustion painted in grey all over his face.

“He-he let me go to-to,” he started, squeezing his eyes shut and grimacing. “T-to deliver a message to the King of Nordom.” The world around her faded, all noise becoming just a faint static in her ears. She shook her head, lips parted. What message would the Shadow King give to my father? What does this mean?

“What is it?” she asked, head snapping up as everything came back into focus. The young man stared blankly at her. She pushed the stray pieces of hair from her face and glared down at him. “I am princess Adelyn of Nordom,” she hissed viciously, startling him and herself. She had never known herself as the kind to hiss, or be vicious. The princess glanced away, shaking her head. “Just tell me. Please.”

“The Shadow King said,” the young man started slowly and hesitantly, licking his dry lips, “that the world will not end in a bang or a crash, but with one scream at a time…u-until there is nothing left,” he paused, lips shaping invisible words. In his lap, his fingers fiddled with each other. “A-and that end is the next Harvest moon.” The world was a carpet being yanked out beneath her feet. Her knees wobbled and she fell onto the forest floor. The next Harvest moon? That was only four days away! Her stomach flopped and flipped like a fish out of water as fear washed over her in monstrous waves, her skin clammy and chest tightening until no air was left. She dragged her eyes to the young man. He was suddenly still and unmoving. Pushing herself to her feet, she walked over to him, arms crossed over her chest as if to defend her from the bitterness of reality. He still didn’t move. Not even when a stick snapped under her foot, the sound echoing sharply throughout the forest.

“Young man?” she asked, bending down next to him and shaking him gently. No response. She leaned over him and gasped. His blue eyes were open and glassy, and he wasn’t blinking. Letting out a soft breath, she closed his eyes with her fingers before scrambling away and retching beside a tree trunk. Tears trickled down her cheeks in winding streams, sobs silent but stabbing pains in her chest. She stared up at the night sky.

The King’s message played over and over in her head. She realized what she had to do. Adelyn had to go back. She had to go home to her parents and warn her people, despite all the mistakes they made she still loved them.

It was only a matter if they would love her back.

Slowly she backed away from the dead body on the ground, and then spun around, breaking into a sprint. The tears continued to roll down her cheeks, the same words playing on a loop in her mind, inching her closer to the edge of insanity.

The world will not end with a bang or a crash, but with one scream at a time. Until there is nothing left.

Those words sounded insane, the product of one who sees ghosts and talks to the moon like she is a friend, but the princess gripped those words to her chest as she ran through the forest, cradling their power and hoping that it was all enough.

Preptober Week 2 – Are You Planning Enough?

Happy Monday!

First of all, before we get into this Preptober post, I wanted to apologize for not having my usual, weekly reading and writing update up yesterday and having this blog post up later than usual. I’m Canadian so it was my Thanksgiving weekend (and still is) and I was visiting family and just did not have time to sit down and write a blog post, let alone pre-write blog posts for the week which is what I usually do. But that’s ok! I am back now with this brand new Preptober post that I hope you all enjoy 🙂


Image result for nanowrimo

Are you prepping enough?

This is a really important question when it comes to preparing for the event that is NaNoWriMo because it has time constraints and a massive goal surrounding it…and because of that, you don’t have the time to continue outlining in November because that is the time you need to spend writing your story! So, to make sure your prepping doesn’t get carried out in November, here are some tips and tricks and things to keep in mind during Preptober.

Sit Down and PLAN

Sit down with your notebook right now (well, after you finish reading this post!) and plan out your characters, world, history, plot, and the overall synopsis of your story. Just sit down and go through all of that, making as much progress as you can in each section. Those are 5 things that you MUST have in-depth, detailed planning for otherwise, you will still be planning in NaNoWriMo.

I recommend having at least 2 pages of information for each character, like AT THE VERY LEAST. This will include their age, race, family, likes/dislikes, personality, past, etc, etc. When you plan out the world and the history, I recommend planning it out like it is a book that is going to be read in schools across the world. However, remember that you are always, always going to know more than your readers, so if you have a lot of info about your world and its history, don’t freak out about trying to fit that all into your story…no, no, a lot of that is just for you so you can write the best story ever. With your plot, this is where you can tweak things depending on the type of writer you are. If you are a plotter, you are going to have pages of plot and like, every scene plotted and connected to others. If you are more of a pantser like me (although, I have been forcing myself to plan a lot for this project), then you are going to want to just have enough to get you through your story. I recommend having a good idea of the beginning, middle and end, and how all those parts are going to connect. These are all super important things to plan, and you need to make sure you plan all of this otherwise you might get disappointed when November 30th comes around and your still several thousand words short on your project.

Ask Questions

Okay, when you finish planning and plotting (and this does take time, like at least a whole month sometimes!), you need to figure out if you actually know what you are writing. Yeah sure, you can sit down and fill a notebook with info but that doesn’t always mean that you are ready to write your story. That is why we answer some questions about our project just to make sure. Here are some questions I ask myself:

  • If someone asked me what my project was about, what would I say? How would I describe it? Do I have a good synopsis that someone who has no knowledge of my story would understand?
  • How would the characters in my world react to some of the things happening in MY world? Or things that happened in my world a long time ago? What part would they have in it, or would they not have any part in it at all?
  • Do I know my ending? Do I know how I am going to get there? (P.S. I don’t always know my ending, but I have noticed over the years that it really does help to have an overall idea on what that ending is…it makes for a better story and also makes it easier for you to write and edit.)
  • If I had to teach a history lesson of this world I created, what would be the 5 major events I would focus on? These are the 5 major events that people in the future could not ignore or forget. How do these events affect this world now? 
  • If my characters were all together and witnessed someone in need (someone fell down, dropped their groceries, etc, etc), how would they respond? Who would help? Who would pretend they didn’t see it and carry on with their day? Who would just watch? 

These are just SOME question ideas you can ask yourself and of course, tailor to your own story. I recommend asking anywhere from 10-15 questions because they will really test your knowledge on your world and characters to make sure you are ready for NaNoWriMo. If you have trouble answering one or two questions, maybe head back to your outline and go over what you wrote, adding whatever needs to be added so you can answer these questions!

Make a Story Bible

What is a story bible? Why do I need one? These are both very valid questions that guess what? I am going to be answering right now! So, a story bible is a handy little notebook, a piece of paper, the backside of a napkin or really whatever, that has some basic info on your story that is ready for you to access whenever. It can have the first and last names of characters, the five major historical events that affect your world, or just really anything that is necessary to your story and will be needed lots. For example, my WIP deals with lots of mythology so I have the names of some immediate gods and also character names in my little, handy notebook. It is great to turn to while writing instead of having to dig through all your notes to find whatever it is you need. It saves time and stress so make one and fill it with whatever you need.

There it is! My three major tips to make sure you are planning enough for NaNoWriMo and are chugging along on the path of success. I really hope you found this all helpful and for even more tips, check out my last Preptober blog post here where I give a quick overview on how to get ready for NaNoWriMo this year. I link a lot of great worksheets for building characters, world-building, and creating your plot so check those out! Also, make sure you check out my last blog post and social media accounts which are always linked below for more writing and reading related fun. Thanks!

Last Blog Post: October 2018 New Releases!

 

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10 Literary Magazines To Submit To – (No Fees)

 

BeFunky Design

Submitting to literary magazines are a fantastic way to get your work out there and while it is important to support them financially to keep them alive, I think that when you are first starting out as a writer it is the smartest choice to only submit to ones that do no require a reading or a submission fee. Basically that means you don’t have to pay them money for them to read and judge your work. Anyways, here is a list of 10 awesome literary magazines for you to submit to, and I hope you enjoy!

Small Print Magazine 

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, book reviews, features, interviews, writing tools review, cartoons

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction/Non-Fiction – 8000 words, Poetry – 6 poems, Book Reviews – 1000 words, Articles – 1500 words, Cartoons – single-panel

The First Line

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, non-fiction

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction – 300-5000 words, Non-Fiction – 500-800 words

Juxtaprose

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, art, blog posts, photography

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction/Creative Non-Fiction – 500-5000 words, Poetry – 5 poems, Art/Photography – 5 pieces, Blog – three articles, 800-1200 words

The Journal

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, poetry, non-fiction, photo essays, author interviews, book/poetry reviews

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction – 10,000 words, Non-Fiction – 6,000 words, Poetry – 3-5 poems, Reviews/Interviews – 1200 words, Photo Essays – collection of pictures with up to 250 word description

Wildness

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction/Non-Fiction – 3000 words, Poetry – 5 poems

Enchanted Conversation

Submission Period: Deadline is January 20

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, poems, art, comics

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction – 700-2500 words, Poetry – any length, Art – 1-3 pieces, Comics – 1-5 pages

Nashville Review

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, poetry, non-fiction, comics

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction/Non-Fiction – 8000 words, Poems – 3 poems, comics – 1 page or graphic novel excerpts

QU

Submission Period: Until January 15

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, non-fiction, scripts, poetry

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Fiction/Non-Fiction/Scripts – 8000 words, Poetry – 3 poems

Cordella Magazine

Submission Period: All Year

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, art

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Not stated

Room Magazine 

Submission Period: November 1 – January 31

What Do They Accept?: Fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and art

Maximum Word Count/Poems/Panels?: Poetry – 5 poems,  Fiction/Non-Fiction/Art – 1-5+ pages

Those are a few awesome literary magazines that you should consider submitting to at some point and I hope you found this blog post motivating and helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: December 2017 Wrap Up!