Out For The Count


I like counting things.

When I’m walking home and it’s too dark to read, I count my steps in twenties. First forwards, then backwards, then in French, then in Spanish. If I’m still not home, I start again. I’ve had several pedometers too – they do the counting for you, but I still join in to check they’re working properly. Am I sad? Probably.

NaNoWriMo was great for counting – number of words written, number of words still to write, average words per day. I even did the 666 thing (I found out about it on the forums) – where you write down the 666th word and the 1666th and the 2666th and so on, and then you see if there’s some kind of secret message from the dark side.

Anyway, December hasn’t been much fun on the counting front because I’ve been sick for days. My brain stopped functioning completely as soon as NaNo was over –  all I could manage was groans and whimpers punctuated by the odd moan. It was one of those special ‘variety pack’ illnesses too, a new symptom every day, sore throat, cold, headache, fever, general bleurghiness etc.  I manage to trawl through a few blogs and occasionally mustered up enough energy for a virus-laden ‘like’ or a flu-filled comment, but that was all.

So, total word count since December 1st (not including this) – I’ve no idea but I think it’s somewhere between one and three. I vaguely remember trying to write something on fever day, but I tore it up and threw it away the next day (coughing-my-guts-up day).

Today is the first day I’ve felt okay, but I had to go back to work, so my word count remains effectively zero.

Tomorrow though, I’m going to write, because my brain is functioning again and I really really miss writing. And then I’m going to count the words, and then I’ll count them in French and Spanish (maybe even backwards) because I really am that sad.

Photo credit: designwallah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Strep72 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

By the way, in case you were wondering, here is my message from the other side.

“Postman them my radio splutter It’s left but of is thins close what’s wear Speed it be knot is to anywhere hasn’t after button much me That rather all really then the They’ve start our or jump for go down when trouble A you in on fighting until police No of find.”



Beware of NaNoWriMo Rule 9.3333

“9.3333) Reward yourself copiously for embarking on this outrageously creative adventure.”

I did as I was told, and now have a monster hangover (thanks NaNo)

Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com / Foter / CC BY

But I also have this:

So it’s all good


Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful (Introducing The Prawn Of Appreciation)

Eric, The Prawn Of Appreciation

I’ve never done one of these Daily Post challenges before (and as you can see, I’m not exactly a pro at photography), but it seemed pretty timely as I have something to be truly thankful about so I thought why not?

Those of you who said you’d read my novel (The Sofa Whisperer) – thank you for your support but you’re all mad. I’m not even sure I want to read it. Things got weirder today – the furniture staged an intervention and then started messing with Layla’s head. It seems to be getting a bit darker than I originally intended (my characters are getting as out of control as yours, JackieP!)

But that’s not why I’m thankful. I’m here to celebrate because (drum roll) …I’ve got 100 followers! Thanks everyone!

And to show my gratitude I’ve decided to present you all with The Prawn Of Appreciation. I made him out of a drinking straw (it’s this thing I do – sort of my party piece, since I can’t sing or play an instrument or do weird things with my body). His name is Eric. I hope you like him!

Especially big thanks to:

  • Trey Montague, my first follower (aaahhh!) and very good friend. She writes SciFi and has a novel on JukePops, Five Percent, involving alien bodyswitchers and a very cool eyelens thing which I wish I’d made up.
  • Electronicbaglady, my 100th follower. Thanks EBL, you made my day – I love your site. Very quirky.

Thank you lovely blog readers/ writers and picture takers!

(Note: I’ve actually got 108 followers now, I meant to do this post a few days ago but couldn’t find the camera, then found the camera and couldn’t find the lead, then I decided to take the photo on my phone, but I couldn’t find the lead to that either. So I gave up, until I saw today’s prompt and decided I could probably find it if I looked properly and here we are. So thanks WordPress People, not only do I have a new post, I also have a very tidy ‘Drawer where stuff goes that doesn’t live anywhere else’ and it’s all thanks to you.)

The Sofa’s Gone All Chucky On Me.

Photo credit: Akbar Sim / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

It’s probably my fault for getting cocky. I was speeding along with my NaNoNovel, clocking up 2000 words a day, thinking how easy it all was. There were a few dodgy days where the words didn’t seem to come, but nothing to write home about 🙂

And then all of a sudden the words stopped coming, just dried up, disappeared, went on holiday and refused to come back.

I tried all the tricks including:

  • Forcing myself to write anything which came into my head. This actually turned out to be a very useful exercise, after 20 minutes I had a comprehensive shopping list for the next couple of weeks. No actual NaNo words though.
  • Closing my eyes and writing. I’ve been told about this exercise before, it’s supposed to release your inner thoughts. It probably works better when you’re typing rather than handwriting.  I have no idea what I wrote during this exercise, there was a word that looked like mubbleflumps, but the rest  was completely undecipherable.
  • I even tried sneaking up on my notebook (I was sure the element of surprise would work), I walked past my desk whistling and looking in the other direction. Then, just when it was least expecting it, I jumped into the swivel chair, grabbed the pen and started writing. It was a massive failure.
Photo credit: Kalense Kid / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Yesterday I gave up and asked my characters what they wanted me to write about. This was a very bad idea. The Sofa Whisperer was a mad enough idea in the first place (talking sofa, chair and footstool that only Layla, a teenage kickboxer, can hear), but 3000 words later it’s taken insanity to new heights. George the footstool has decided he doesn’t like humans, because he has to put up with their smelly feet all the time (I can sort of see his point), and the sweet, slightly pathetic sofa has turned psycho. It’s decided it doesn’t want to be ‘cured’ of its talkativeness, so it’s gone crazy and taken control of everyone’s emotions – turning them all into crazy, raging, hormonal teenagers.

I think NaNo may have permanently warped my mind.

My NaNoNovel: The Sofa Whisperer

Photo credit: igorms / Foter / CC BY-NC

It may look like I’m racing ahead with this whole NaNo thing, I’m averaging 2000 words a day and am predicted to finish well before the end of November. But every morning I wake up full of fear: fear that I might not manage to find time to write, fear that I won’t be able to think of anything to write about, fear that it’s going to stop being fun. The one thing I’m not afraid of is that my story might be a bit crap. And the reason for that is this: I already know it’s a bit crap.

I have my reasons for going with a crap story:

Firstly, I wanted something silly to write about. I figured the whole thing would be hard enough without having to get all serious.

Secondly, I wanted to use this as a trial run, and I wasn’t sure that using an idea that I really cared about would work. I thought I’d probably get bogged down trying to make it perfect and that’s not what NaNoWriMo is about.

And thirdly, by the time I actually decided to do NaNo I had about five seconds to think of something to write about. This is what I came up with. Which just goes to show that pressure and great ideas don’t mix.

And just in case you don’t believe it can possibly be as bad as I say, here it is: a short synopsis and a very brief extract from my (slightly daft) NaNoNovel.

Title: The Sofa Whisperer

Synopsis: Layla is your average teenage kick-boxing, angry bundle of hormones, until the day she discovers she can talk to furniture. Confused by this development, she sets off on a quest to find her mother, some answers and a footstool called George.


I’ve located the source of the sobbing, sort of. It seems to be coming from the sofa. I wonder if there’s someone trapped in there, maybe one of the delivery men. I didn’t pay much attention to them but I’m pretty sure I saw them all leave.

I dive into the sofa anyway, pulling the cushions off and piling them up on the floor. There’s nothing there and I feel a bit stupid for checking. There’s not even any room to hide anything. Anyway, the sound’s stopped for now.

The doorbell rings and Dad must’ve peeked out the window from his study because he calls down,
‘It’s the postman. Can you get it?’

‘If it’s bills, can I kick him?’ I yell up the stairs. I’m only half joking. I haven’t kicked anyone in ages and I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms.

‘No kicking, Layla,’ Dad says, ‘That’s what got us into this mess to start with.’



34,000 words in, there’s a proper (if slightly insane) story in there, complete with hippy mother, ninja triplets and a girl who makes origami when she gets nervous. I’m really enjoying it. There’s about a hundred plot holes, a few characters who’ve been abandoned on the way and some seriously cringe worthy sentence structures. The whole thing is totally unpublishable, but that’s okay because I’m having a laugh and I’m writing. And if it’s true that your first million words don’t count, then at least I’m closer to some that do.



Best of luck to all NaNoNuts out there. Keep tapping away at that keyboard!

Word Of The Day: Soul

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter / CC BY-ND

You’re probably wondering why ‘soul’ is my word of the day. Is it because of its many religious, philosophical and psychological meanings? Is it because it is the animating and vital principle in all humans? Is my interest in this word borne out of a deep love for soul music? Or, perhaps because I am a cobbler who spends all day mending shoes (and can’t spell)?

Nope. It’s answer D: None of the above. The reason I truly love the word ‘soul’ today is because it’s my 25,001st NaNoWriMo word!!!!! (Cue party poppers, trumpets, joy and merriment in abundance).

This means I’m into the second half of this rollercoaster writing ride (try saying that, Jonathan Ross), so tonight I’m celebrating with a nice cold beer. And tomorrow I’ll start thinking about the other 24,999 words.

Cheers! (And best of luck to all the other WriMos 🙂 )

Photo credit: Wen Nag (aliasgrace) / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The honeymoon is over … but I’m still hoping for a happy ever after.

Pigeon Wishes
Photo credit: Stuart Hines / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I loved NaNoWriMo in the beginning, truly worshipped and adored it in those early heady days. It was a whirlwind romance (complete with pre-wedding nerves). Days 1 to 4 were a glorious haze of eager scribbling (and even more eager word-counting). I woke every morning thinking: today I get to write! I thought it would last forever.

By Day 6 the cracks were starting to show. Nothing specific, just niggling doubts in the back of my mind. Can I really do this? Is it worth the effort I’m putting in? Am I destined to become just another statistic? A non-winner? (I don’t like the L-word.) I had the NaNo Blues. But I brushed aside these negative thoughts, cuddled up close to my NaNo and wrote.

By Day 10 the honeymoon was well and truly over. I wrote as I had done every day since Day 1, but it was different. It felt like a chore. I found myself staring at the ceiling and waiting for it to be over.

We almost split on Day 11, me and my NaNo. We need a break, I said. I need some space. It’s not you, NaNo, it’s me.

I went for a walk along the seafront to clear my head, and I passed an old couple huddled on a bench sharing a portion of fish and chips. That was when I realised I couldn’t just throw away everything I had with my NaNo. I went straight back home and picked up my pen.

So I’m working at it, taking it a day at a time. And hopefully by Day 30, me and my NaNo will be like that couple at the seaside, knowing that the first flush of romance can’t last forever, but still holding hands.

Either that or I’ll be joining this girl on the train tracks 🙂 :

Day 371: It\'s Cool to Fake Romances
Photo credit: amanky / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

NaNoGuilt: What’s That All About?

Photo credit: canonsnapper / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I don’t normally worry about the state of my house. Not ever. Housework is way way down on my list of priorities. So how comes that’s all changed now it’s NaNoTime?

On Sunday I wrote 2000 words then cleaned my front room from top to bottom. As a sort of penance. I even did the skirting boards, and anyone who knows me will know that I don’t do that sort of thing. The skirting now thinks that I’ve been bodysnatched by some alien or Stepford-wifed into some kind of robot; the door to the front room keeps eyeing me nervously wondering if it’s next.

It’s the same deal with the kids and husband (who all come much higher on my list of priorities you’ll be glad to hear). I’m making extra efforts to do stuff with them when this is the one month in the year when they’ve agreed to let me have some space. What is wrong with me?

On the plus side, I might come out the other side of November with half a novel, a happy, well-balanced family and a very very clean house.

I have to go now, I’ve written 2,800 words today and must atone for my sins by washing up.

Anyone else experiencing this? Or better still, anyone have a cure?

NaNoWriMo: Ten Things I Know Now That I Didn’t Know Before.

Photo credit: so lets hang out / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

It’s day four, I’m on target and I’m gaining a lot from this experience. Here’s ten little snippets I’ve learned so far:

  1. My NaNoNovel is not the greatest novel of all time. There’s a few bits and pieces that are really nice, and I’m enjoying getting to know my characters, but it’s not the best piece of literature ever written. That’s okay though, because it’s NaNo and it’s all about the wordcount.
  2. Writing fast and under pressure is exhilarating, intense and liberating.
  3. I’ll be cutting half of that exhilarating, intense and liberated writing come December.
  4. Most days, there is no time for blogging! Not only no time, but no creativity. My creative juices are squeezed dry by the time I’m done writing and thinking about writing and planning my writing for the next day.
  5. Talking of planning, I should have done more of that before November. A lot more.
  6. I can write 1667 words in a day! In fact I can write them in a relatively short space of time. I tend to spend about two to three hours a day on the actual writing, and so far I’m over on the word count most days.
  7. Resisting the urge to research is really hard.
  8. Resisting the urge to edit is even harder.
  9. Resisting the urge to surf the net is harder still. There’s a button on my computer which turns off the internet. I know it’s there and I know what it does, but there are strange forces at work which stop me from using it. I don’t understand how. Why can’t I just press the button and kill the net?
  10. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and sometimes that’s not enough.
Photo credit: HikingArtist.com / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

NaNoWriMo Word Counter for your site: a great idea (but only if you’re winning)

Just a quickie for those who might be interested. NaNoWriMo do word counters that you can put on your site (yes, even the freebie sites like this one) – you can see my one on the right. All you need to do is get the code from the NaNoWriMo site (click here) and copy it into a text widget. There’s a few different types and you can add percentages, days left etc. easily – even if you know zilch about codes and all that rubbish like me. They link directly to your NaNo site so they update automatically (well, at least I hope they do or I’m going to look like a right mug come Thursday).

If anyone wants a step by step guide, let me know in the comments and I’ll edit the post. Not right now though, it’s almost bedtime!

(This still isn’t me)
Photo credit: joshunter / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND