I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, it looks like my July is going to look a whole lot like this…


Registration for Camp NaNoWriMo‘s July session opened yesterday, and being the fool I am I decided to sign up. I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing and do more of it, and I figure this will make sure I get at least 50,000 words done on a book this Summer. I will be publishing my second Novel- Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess in the coming months, and it’s time to get another book ready for editing. Of course, I have to finish writing it first!

So, my plan is to spend June writing/finishing short works and editing Crocodile Princess and preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo, and then dedicating myself 100% to writing something longer in July. As I’ve never even done regular NaNoWriMo before, it will be interesting to try. When it starts, I’ll try to update my blog on how I’m doing, maybe turn it into a bit of a journal of my experiences. We’ll see!



Look Up and Be There.

A great short spoken-word film about the importance of real life, real friends, and real moments. You can find the full text of his poem here.

Camp NaNoWriMo


As a person in the academic field, one of the busiest months we have is November. It is a month of papers, tests, and general craziness for teachers and students and anyone else involved in education. This is why I’ve always considered holding National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) in November a seriously cruel joke. I mean, many students dream of writing a novel, and even more teachers feel they have a novel in them, so why torture them by putting NaNoWriMo in one the few months they can’t do it?

I personally think NaNoWriMo should become NaJulWriMo, or National July Writing Month. (Which sounds really Korean.) July is the one month that almost everyone has the time, in and out of education, to sit down and write a book. Well, although they’re unwilling to change the month so far (probably because the NaNoWriMo brand is too well established), the people behind NaNoWriMo are apparently aware of the issue. Their solution is called Camp NaNoWriMo, and this year it will be held in April (also not a great month for those in post-secondary education) and July (yay! teachers rejoice!)

Here`s how Wikiwrimo describes it:

Each month of Camp NaNo is its own separate event; participants can choose to participate in either session…or both. The default goal for each month is the same as regular Nano: 50,000 words. Previous participants of Nanowrimo and Script Frenzy can simply log in with their existing usernames and are automatically entered into the appropriate month upon creating a novel for the event. The rules are identical to regular NaNo, except you can choose any word count goal (between 10,000 and 999,999, inclusive), and may write either a novel or a script.

Another difference between regular NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo is that while regular NaNoWriMo is structured around people doing their own thing with forums and meetups being optional possibilities, Camp NaNoWriMo is structured around what they call Cabins. Which WikiWriMo describes as follows:

A feature exclusive to Camp Nano is the introduction of cabins, a small message board containing four to six participants that became functional in August 2011. Participants have the option of inviting specific Wrimos into their cabin, joining a cabin with participants of the same age, activity level, word count goal, or genre. They may also opt to join a random cabin or not to join a cabin at all. Cabins have a central “wall” on which Wrimos post messages to all other campers in their cabin. These messages are viewable only to other Wrimos in that cabin. The NaNo tech team runs cabin assignments frequently, so new cabinmates can show up in a cabin after the month begins and users can switch cabins if they so desire. Cabins close a few days after the event ends, but participants can continue to connect through private messages or through the main NaNo forums.

Sounds interesting! As someone who is (totally not jealous of not being) unable to participate in NaNoWriMo, this sounds like a pretty good compromise and I think I`ll probably give it a go this year if I don`t burn myself out writing in June. While writing is a fun pursuit, writing long works can be a real slog, and there`s nothing like a combination of encouragement and peer pressure to keep you on the straight and narrow!


The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast

Since I’m back in the writing world over the Summer, I decided to hunt around and see if there were any new writing podcasts worth a look. I started by checking out the Author U: Your Guide to Book Publishing podcast, which was interesting but I personally found it way overproduced (it sounds like a talk radio show, in the crass way) and literally packed to the gills with commercials, so I felt like ideas weren’t being fully explored in the limited time they had before they jumped to the next commercial block. However, while I was listening to it, a guest mentioned the Rocking Self Publishing podcast as being one of the things new authors should be listening to.

My first episode of the RSP podcast was the one on writing a lot more that I referenced in my recent Writing Chinese Style post, and I was quickly hooked by Simon Whistler’s engaging style and the professional but laid back approach he takes to interviewing self-published authors. He really does seek out some of the best and brightest of the self-publishing world, and has made an honest effort to include different perspectives, including non-fiction authors and hybrid authors who also publish traditionally. I like that, and how he creates extensive show notes for each episode summarizing the key ideas that guest talked about.

I’m still working my way through the RSP podcast’s archive of episodes (there are 48 as of this post), and while I don’t like all episodes equally, I am finding it’s a great way to catch up with the industry and has given me a lot to think about in my own approach to writing and marketing my stories. So, if you’re thinking of being a self-published author- check it out!


Dr. Rodney McKay Vlogs!

Well, okay, not entirely true. David Hewlett, Dr. McKay’s very real alter acting ego, has just started a video blog on Youtube where he hangs out with fans and geeks out with them. If, like me, you watched Stargate Atlantis for the entirely neurotic and very Canadian McKay, then maybe you’ll enjoy this as well, since there’s no doubt Hewlett and McKay are the same guy, just separated by a few IQ points and a few thousand light years.


Making a Little Money on the Side

We live in an amazing age, when thanks to the internet people in need across the planet can find people to do almost anything to help them solve those needs. Thanks to this, it’s become easier than ever for people to use their talents to make anything from a little money to a full income.

Take Fiverr.com for example. Fiverr

It’s an innovative site where people offer services for $5 (with extra options for more money, but the base price is always $5), which can be as simple as writing a poem or a simple webpage, to more complex activities like proofreading and editing short document, or doing short voice recordings. You might think it’s just kids, but a glance around shows there’s a lot of professionals there too.


Well, the thing is, if I can do one short voice recording in 5 minutes (assuming I already have professional grade equipment), and I line up 12 recordings, that’s $60/hour or more. Suddenly Fiverr isn’t just small money, but paying more than many “real” jobs! Same thing if I offer to proofread 500 words for $5, it might just take me less than 5 minutes to do, but that quickly adds up if I can get multiple people asking for my services around exam time. So it’s no wonder that even some Pros are doing a little Fiverr on the side to make some pocket money. (Although Pros seems to be the exception here, not the rule.)

Fiverr could also be a useful tool for things like Book Promotion, or even tasks like getting your book converted to Createspace format. It’s amazing what people are offering, if you just look around, and since anyone can join and offer services on Fiverr, almost anyone does! (And in this case, that’s a good thing!) If it doesn’t work out, you’re now only out $5, which is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee these days!

Definitely worth a look-see, and there’s even a Fiverr Canada subsite for us!

Of course, if you need more serious professional help (or want to offer it), there’s always Odesk.com, which bills itself as “the world’s largest online workplace”. There you can again find freelancers for almost any online task. I guess you could bill it as the ultimate in “temp” services, and since what people offer on there is so vast, you never know what you’ll find. (Although, you can bet it will be more expensive than Fiver, at least in theory.)

So whether you want to go for simple jobs, or more complex ones, the internet can solve your problems. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you need, and how much you’re willing to pay.


X-Men: Days of Future Past (spoiler-lite)

I just saw X-men: Days of Future Past, and I have to say it’s probably the best X-men film by a large margin. It’s not a superhero film, and deviates wildly from the original comic storyline, but I’d argue those are it’s strengths, not its weaknesses.

Overall, it’s a character-driven science fiction film that involves superpowers, as opposed to a superpowered science fiction film. The powers serve the story and provide nice visuals, but everything important comes from the very human characters making decisions based on their own goals and flaws, which is how it should be. The climax is one of character more than action, and surprised me with how it came together- always a plus.

The deviations from the original comic also work very well for the story it is. This isn’t a team-based superhero wrestling match, so using Wolverine as the focus works better than Kitty and keeps things at a more human level. None of the “good guys” are really high powered, and it keeps them at a disadvantage throughout the film, again, keeping powers from dominating the plot.

And the ending ties everything to date up in a nice bow, while leaving the future open for a new continuity. Good work all around!

4/5 stars.


Hammering Home the Horror

I’ve always had a fondness for oldschool horror, especially the Hammer Horror films from England of the 60’s and 70’s. They used to show them on Saturday afternoons when I was a kid, and I found them annoying because they were displacing my favorite movies involving giant monsters. However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve also grown to appreciate the contributions Hammer made to horror and film in general. If for no other reason than bringing Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee into the popular culture!

Today my friend Richard pointed me in the direction of not one, but two documentaries on YouTube about the history of Hammer. The first is written and hosted by Sherlock writer/actor (and Hammer Horror fanboy) Mark Gatiss, and is from a BBC documentary series on horror he hosted.

The second is an older documentary on Hammer Horror called Hammer- The Studio that Dripped Blood!, which was done by the BBC in the late 80’s. The quality isn’t the best since it’s transferred off videotape, and it’s been chopped into parts, but if you’re interested in the subject it makes a nice companion piece to Gatiss’ show.

Google’s Great New Tool for Finding Royalty Free Images for Blogs and Covers

Google has recently added an amazing new tool for bloggers to its image search function. You can now search for images that you can use on your blog or whatever based on the license the image is released under. Using this, you can easily find blog-safe images you can use for different topics and not have to worry about the copyright police hunting you down and hauling you out of your house in the middle of the night. (Always a plus!)

Here’s how you do it:

Go to Google Advanced Image Search and enter your keywords.

AdvanceImageSearch1 AdvanceImageSearch2

Now, there is another similar option in the basic image search, but the wording is very different for the options so I’m not really sure how to interpret that. It’s probably better to stick with the Advanced Image Search since it has clearer wording, but in case you want to know, here’s the other way to do it:

Image Search 1

Image Search 2

Image Search 3