Robin Williams – Rest in Peace

Yesterday evening, the news broke that Robin Williams had died.

I’ve spent so much time trying to think of something eloquent to say, but I just…can’t. I don’t have words.

So, in honor of Mr. Williams, here are three of his movies–well, two movies and a stand-up special–that mean something to me.

Thank you for all the laughs, good sir. You will be missed.

Aladdin
As with most people my age, Aladdin was my first exposure to Robin Williams, and remains my favorite of his films just for sheer nostalgia’s sake. The energy he puts into his vocal performance is amazing, and it’s likely one of the reasons the Genie is such a beloved character. Aladdin wouldn’t be half the film it is without him.

(Apparently he would tell jokes to the cast and crew of Schindler’s List to cheer them up, since it was filming at the same time as Aladdin.)

Live on Broadway
Since I grew up watching Robin Williams in family-friendly movies, I was understandably surprised to learn that 1) he did stand-up comedy, and 2) he did stand-up comedy with swearing. I watched Robin Williams Live on Broadway for the first time when I was a freshman in college, and probably saw it twenty times that year alone. It was hilarious, and is still one of my favorite live comedy performances.

The bit on the invention of golf still cracks me up.

The Fisher King
The movie itself was so much more serious than most of his other films that I’d seen, but his performance in it sticks out in my head, most particularly this scene below. As someone who loves romance of all kinds, Williams’s words here resonate deeply with me and why I love it so much.

Obviously, this is only a small fraction of what he did, so please, let me know what I’ve missed or what I need to see. What are some of your favorite movies of his?

Not Dead, Just Editing

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been terribly active this month. This is because, in a fit of BRILLIANCE at the beginning of July, I decided my Camp NaNo goal would be to edit TWO novels: MGG and my 2013 NaNo novel.

I am 19% 27% through one novel, 50% through the other, and 100% sure this was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had.

tw-this-won't-end-well

Back into the writing cave I go!

The Critic’s Goal Post for 2014

I’m a little late on this for this year (mostly because I was either sick or traveling during the days when I would normally have been doing this list), but I think I’ve got a good handle on the goals I want to accomplish for 2014.

Goal Post

This pun is still my favorite.

Last year really felt like I spent a lot of time writing, finishing up first drafts. This year, I think, I’m going to focus more on editing and getting a couple of manuscripts to the point where I’m ready to query them.

I also built up some pretty good habits (particularly with my physical health), so some of my goals this year are to maintain those habits and maybe add some new ones to the mix.

Physical
Continue to work out at least four times a week for at least 30 minutes apiece.
Continue to drink at least six glasses of water per day.
Track my eating at least 5 out of 7 days per week between January and March.
Clean out my closet/dresser at least twice this year and give away everything I haven’t worn in over a year.

Writing
Finish draft 2 of MG.
Finish draft 5 of TSB.
Finish the first draft of my 2013 NaNo novel.
Write queries for both TSB and MG before the end of February.
Make a list of at least 10 agents and start querying MG or TSB.
Participate in #WriteMotivation every month this year, with a focus on projects I will be querying.
Attend the OWFI conference this year.

Writing Stretch Goals
Finish the first drafts of my 2011 and 2008 NaNo novels.
Make an effort to blog twice a week at BNC.
Make an effort to blog monthly at RRFS.
Enter MG in the OWFI contest.

Intellectual
Read at least 55 new books total.
Make an effort to read at least 10 books this year that are either nonfiction, or are outside genres I normally read.
Make an effort to read at least 5 authors who are not straight and/or white.
Look for novels with main characters who are not straight and/or white.

Those last two goals come from a post on Chuck Wendig’s blog about diversifying your bookshelves. I’m actually pretty balanced on male/female writers, but I have no idea where I rank with authors who aren’t straight or white. So I really want to try and branch out more in that regard.

So if you all have any recommendations for authors and/or books that fall into the category of not straight/not white (or both!), let me know!

What about you guys? Any big goals this year? Any books you’re excited about reading?

Goal post picture by Matt Denton

The Critic’s Final 2013 Goal Review

Now that we’re about to bid good-bye to 2013, it’s time to look at the goals I set back in January and see how I did.

And much to my surprise, I’m actually pleased with how I’ve done over the past year.

Physical
Work out at least twice a week for 30 minutes apiece.
I started working out with my roommates in January and kept it up throughout the entire year, usually working out 5-6 times a week for probably an hour to 45 minutes on average. I didn’t lose a lot of weight, but I developed a lot more muscle definition in my arms and legs and increased my balance and flexibility past what they’ve ever been before in my life.

I also learned that I apparently really like yoga and resistance training (weight lifting). Who knew?

Drink at least six glasses of water per day.
I may not have hit this every day, but I got damn close. Telling myself stuff like “No more tea until you’ve had at least 3 glasses of water” really helped me with this one.

Writing
Finish draft 4 of my ’06 NaNo for CPs.
Completed in January.

Finish a first draft for at least two of the three projects I want to complete (my NaNo novels from 2012, 2011, and 2008).
Finished the draft of my NaNo 2012 novel in April, didn’t get a chance to work on the others.

Attend the OWFI conference in May and the OCW conference in October.
I had a great time at the OWFI conference, but I decided against attending the OCW conference this year.

Pick two of the pictures in my “holy cow I want to write a story about this” folder. Write at least a short story for each one.
I ended up writing a 68k novel for one of them, which was completed in September.

Set up a Facebook page for my writing.
Nope.

Blogging
Review at least one new movie each month. Except for months where the idea of actually giving money to a movie in the theater makes me sick to my stomach.
Well, I got about 50% of the way through this goal: I reviewed 6 movies I saw in theaters. And even though I have two more reviews for movies currently playing, they won’t be posted in 2013.

Keep to a posting schedule of twice a week.
I ultimately published 118 blog posts this year (119 with this one), which puts me at an average of slightly more than 2 per week.

Comment more regularly on the blogs I follow.
I did better with this at the beginning of the year, but kind of fell off in the latter half.

Career
Attend another CSS summit.
I attended three summits in 2013: for responsive web design, user experience, and WordPress.

Up my coding game in PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript.
Which I’ve certainly done, thanks to the above summits and my own forays throughout the web.

Intellectual
Read 70 new books in 2013.
Well, I made it to 48 51 books this year, according to Goodreads. Given the amount of writing I did, it’s not terribly surprising my reading fell by the wayside.

Read all the unread books currently on my shelf/Kindle. (Or at least, attempt to.)
Hahahahaha, yeah no.

Read at least three non-writing-related non-fiction books.
I got one read.

Take more books off my gigantic TBR list than I add to it. (Borrowed from Marissa Meyer.)
I don’t think I did this, although I did add to it at a slightly slower pace than I did last year.

So what did I learn about myself from this year’s goals?

1) Altering the way I phrased some of the goals (specifically the health ones) really helped me to accomplish those. My actual goal was never “lose X amount of weight,” my goal was “develop good habits so that I am more healthy overall.” Which I’ve done.
2) Apparently I can, in fact, complete multiple writing projects in a given year.
3) Overall, I did better at accomplishing my goals in 2013 than I did in 2012, I think. So that tells me a couple of things: one, that this method is working for me, and two, that my revisions based on what I accomplished last year were a good idea.

And that’s all she wrote for 2013. Hope you all have a very happy New Year, and we’ll see you in 2014!!

A Momentous Moment

Fair friends, this is a momentous post: It is my first post from my new computer.

Yes, it’s true. Vera, my giant 17-inch laptop I’ve had since 2010, gave up the ghost rather unexpectedly on Friday. (On the plus side, she waited until AFTER work was over to do this.)

This probably wouldn’t have been QUITE so bad if it weren’t for the tiny issue that Oklahoma actually got SNOW last Thursday/Friday, which ended with half the state under 3-6 inches of snow and the other half under 3-6 inches of ice.

Fortunately, I was in the 3-6 inches of snow part, but still, driving anywhere on Friday wasn’t exactly safe and Saturday wasn’t too much better, so it wasn’t until Sunday that I was able to get out and get a new computer. Thankfully, Best Buy had the one I wanted in stock, so I didn’t have to order it, and they were able to get all my data transferred over and my new computer set up in less than 24 hours, which was AMAZING.

This one is MUCH quieter in terms of the hard drive and the fan, and even when I was installing 5-6 different programs at the same time, it still didn’t whine at me.

I’m still figuring my way around Windows 8, but so far it hasn’t been too bad. I spend most of my computer life in Word, Outlook, Notepad++, and Firefox, and all of those programs are pretty much the same.

I am a little sad: Vera saw me through four NaNos (all four of them as ML), all the Camp NaNos, multiple writing conferences, 10 manuscript drafts, two Ferret retreats, numerous development projects and training meetings, and five JavaScript and CSS summits. She’s been with me on every trip I’ve taken since 2010 and got me through season 6 of Doctor Who and season 3a of Teen Wolf.

It’s weird how our computers become so much more than the sum of their parts: they store our pictures, our music, our words, heck, half our brains. They’re how we manage life stuff, from finances to recipes to research to Christmas shopping. They’re how we connect with our friends and family and with people we’ve never even met in real life.

So yeah, I’m going to miss my nigh-constant companion for the past three and a half years, especially because I wasn’t quite ready to let go of her. However, I’m excited to have a new machine, even more excited about how quickly I’ve been able to get things set back up, and ready to see how many development projects and drafts I can get out of this one. 🙂

Plus, I need to see if I have any Doctor Who stickers left to decorate it…

NaNoWriMo 2013 – Final Update

Another year, another NaNoWriMo down the pipe. A part of me still can’t quite believe it’s December now. Of course, that was not the part of me that slept in until 11 a.m. on Sunday because I finally could.

(Well, slept in between bouts of my yowling cat waking me up at God-forsaken hours of the morning.)

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

The last week of November was a whirlwind, as you might expect, between three final write-ins, traveling for the holidays, and hanging out with family. Wednesday was the only day all MONTH that I didn’t write at least a little bit, because between work and travel and family, I didn’t even sit down at my computer to write until 12:30 in the morning, when it was already Thursday.

Like last year, we had a Last Chance Write-in on Saturday night. Unlike last year, we did it at a local coffee shop that’s open till 2 a.m. on Saturdays, which ended up being a LOT of fun. The whole coffee shop is book-themed, and we got to reserve their private library room for our group. So: food, beverages, beverages with alcohol, and books? It was a good time overall.

We also got to introduce NaNoWriMo to some new people who wandered into the room while we were there, which was a lot of fun as well. At midnight, once November was officially over, we celebrated with chocolate fondue, courtesy one of our WriMos. So we ended NaNo as we began it: on a sugar high, way too late at night. 🙂

I finished the month with just over 60k and a story that’s, as usual, still not done. I will not even attempt to guesstimate how much I have left to write, but hopefully I’ll be able to crank out whatever’s left before the end of the year.

Which is in one month, apparently.

As always, I’m alternately sad and relieved to see November in the rearview mirror. It’s a relief to have everything done, to know I’ve got a several-month break before we need to start planning for 2014. But at the same time, it’s sad that I won’t be seeing everybody every week (sometimes twice a week), because every year I meet awesome new people.

Writing is such a solitary pursuit that it’s nice to have times when we all get together and do it in a group, to joke with and encourage each other. It’s amazing, and that’s one of my favorite parts of the year.

NaNoWriMo 2013 By the Numbers

Novel Stuff
Final official word count: 60,068/50,000
Most words written in a day: 4,617
Fewest words written in a day: 0
Number of pages in MS Word: 106 (Times New Roman, 12 pt., single-spaced)
Number of characters (with spaces): 333,542 (the equivalent of almost 2,383 tweets)
Number of paragraphs: 1,990
Number of scenes, since the story isn’t broken into chapters yet: 39
Number of viewpoints: 3
Number of fight scenes I’ve written: 2
Number of sex scenes I’ve written: 3
Number of author’s notes: 11
Number of author’s notes pointing out where I’d contradicted myself in the story: 3

Write-in Stuff
Number of hours spent at write-ins: 48.5
Average write-in attendance: 13
Highest number of attendees at a write-in: 27
Lowest number of attendees at a write-in: 7
Number of popsicle sticks that fell off the graveyard: 6
Number of characters I put in the graveyard: 0 (No one is more shocked about this than I am, guys, seriously.)
Number of charger cables left behind: 2
Number of headphones left behind: 1

Regional Stuff
Number of members: 1,670
Number of homed participants (people who claim Tulsa as home): 1,342
Number of active participants (homed participants that wrote this year): 345
Number of winners: 77 (22.3%!)
Number of words we wrote as a region: 6,646,907
Average word count: 19,266