Thursday, August 27, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts - Writing a Novel & NANOWRIMO Prep

At this current moment my pup is sleeping on my feet and my husband is running around, getting ready to go off and teach school.  It's morning time and although I slept in, I am determined to get some writing in before work.  Writing these personal blogs has been pretty easy so far and they are serving as a main source of inspiration for my writing.  I'm so happy to report that I am 110% on board for NANOWRIMO in November!  My biggest fear, however, has been that I will lose interest by November or I will get to November and choke.  That's why I am using the next two months to prep myself.  That brings me to some very, very good news:  I have written my outline for my Nanowrimo novel!  For the sake of getting organized, I followed and outline system from Katytastic, a youtuber who has quickly became one of my favorites for writing encouragement! Here's one of her videos below!

I had to scrap my plot and raise it from the dead like some sort of Frankenstein of words, but I eventually got it where I wanted it to be!  There was a period where I was terrified because I realized I had no plot, just an interesting concept that occurs.  Luckily, plot eventually came.  I'm so happy I'm taking time to flesh out this story before jumping in.  Otherwise I'd be stuck probably 20 pages in with no idea what I'm doing and where I'm going.  Now that doesn't mean my plot isn't subject to change, I'm always up for that.  I just have a good idea of where my ending will be.  And god knows I struggle with ending stories.

Plot - check!

Characters - Check!

Setting - Umm...Check minus?

Another reason why I'm so glad I'm not writing this story until November is that I need to do some major research on my setting.  I've done some half-assed google searching along the way, but I really need to sit down and flesh out my landscape.  I need to know little, nitty gritty things like, the temperature, common natural features, the patterns of the ocean, history of the location and the impact of current events.  My biggest issue is usually I chose nameless settings or just make one up because I don't like getting anchored by reality.  This story, though will greatly benefit from all the little details being collected in a neat and organized pile.  There is a lot of research ahead of me!

Finally,  I have found the task of writing 1666 words per day (as is expected to complete NANOWRIMO) a little bit daunting.  Between work, lacking sleep, and trying to have a life, it's rather difficult to get that many words crammed into a day.  I'm making it a goal to start practicing now, but it's been hard.  For some reason that many words just looks so intimidating.  I have heard of writing sprints where you take a set amount of time and write as much as you can and I think that might be the key to getting over my fears.  I just need to get the words out and worry about perfection later.  Again, I'm so glad it's not November yet.  There are still a lot more dress rehearsals needed before the main show!

How is everyone else's writing going?  Anyone want to do NANOWRIMO with me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Babbles of a Fangirl - Rereads

Have broken my vow to write an article every week already?  Well, I'm not getting to distressed about it because I have wrote more over the last month than I have all year!  I will save the details of that for my next "Patchwork Thoughts" article so just sit tight!  Now!  Let's talk about some books!

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!
It really shouldn't come as any surprise that I love reading.  It wasn't until very recently, when I started watching some amazing book-tubers, that I realized I never talk about books on this blog.  I will be the first to admit that although I love reading, I have gravitated away from it quite a bit since college.  It was often hard while doing school to justify recreational reading when there were text books to be read.  Then again, I didn't really read my text books out of sheer stubbornness, but let's just skip over that blemish!  Reading takes time and watching youtube is a lot easier.  Oh look!  I'm being lazy again.  Who'da thunk it?

Lately I have have been inthralled in a good old book called "Misery" by Stephan King.  Heard of it?  Although it's been great for learning more about suspense writing, I'd have to say I'm need some major fluff as a pallet cleanser. That got me thinking about new books I need to read, which eventually reminded me of old books I know I will feel warm and fuzzy reading.  So that brings us to our topic today: Rereads!  These are some of the books I'm dying to read again for both nostalgia's sake and mine.

Harry Potter

Did you think this wouldn't make the list?  When I was growing up, everyone was reading Harry Potter  and it didn't take me long to not only jump on that bandwagon, but take the wheel!  I would check Harry Potter websites everyday, determined to gather up as much Harry Potter news and information as humanly possible!  Harry Potter is honestly the book that taught me that being a nerd and a member of fandom is perfectly fine!  Though I also learned the hard way that not everyone wants to hear you babble about a book they haven't read.  I know this will sound crazy, but I have only read each Harry Potter book once!  I never felt the need to go back through the story, I only wanted to wait on pins and needles for the next step in the series.  I was happy and heartbroken when the series ended and I have never read any other books aside from Books 6 & 7 nonstop. I miss this wizard world and I'd love to go back through it with adult eyes.


I was determined not to like this book.  At the time that I gave it my first try, I was skeptical of fantasy set in the real world, but it's beautiful cover, dripping with treasure and mysterious creatures made me determined to bring it home from Barnes and Noble and give it a try.  You know what happened?  Inkheart is still one of my all time, favorite books!  This is one of the few books I have read multiple times.  I can't get enough of it's detailed characters and suspenseful tale of fantasy breaking lose from the confines of a story.  I'm less attached to it's sequels.  In my opinion, this story ends perfectly, but I was happy to say hello to it's fine cast again.  I encourage you to meet all of them.  They will feel so real that they might just step outside of the book and say hello!

Two Princesses of Bamarre

Has anyone else read this book?  I have yet to meet anyone who has.  In short, this is the story of two Princesses, one that is brave and heroic and one that is afraid of her own shadow.  They live in a kingdom where a horrible disease claims the lives of many.   And guess what?  The heroic princess catches it and now her sister must set out on a journey to find a cure, save her sister, and face her own fears!  I think this is the first story where I said to myself "Hey, Princesses can do something interesting!"  Followed by "Hey!  Princesses can kick butt!" It's full of action and adventure.  I'm happy to say I've held on to my copy over many book purges and I can't wait to read it to my children someday!

I forgot how much I enjoy chatting about books!  I certainly have the itch to read now and I hope you do too!  What books from your past do you want to reread?  What books have you read multiple times over the years?  Let me know what keeps you coming back for more!

Until next time, tootles!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts - Cranky Cows

Hey!  So far I'm doing pretty decent at this "sticking to a schedule business" and that feels pretty darn awesome!  I have been stressed with work for quite sometime and having this outlet waiting for me reminds me why I started this blog in the first place: I like writing.  Even if many people aren't actually reading my articles, it is doing great things for my writing skills.  I'm finally cleaning a lot of cobwebs that have been clinging in my brain for a while now.  I have also been journaling a lot more, which have also done wonders for me.  I feel more focused and clear with my style.  I am getting back into my grove of having the distinct voice that makes my writing style mine.  Also, I am writing and not hating everything I say.  Being a natural pessimist and my own worst critic, that is a major milestone for me!

Now for the less fun parts of life.  I have been miserable with my job I've been working for two years now.  I was miserable from the start, but the fact that I'm not finding new work has been amplifying my stress.  I keep reminding myself (as does my husband) that I'm making a career lane change, so my experience isn't quite what the jobs I'm applying for want.  I got out of college certain that I was going to be an event planner, but I will be honest, I romanticized that career a little too much in my head.  I am good at event planning but I don't like working odd hours and the rewards are too few and far between.  Bitching and moaning aside, I am trying to rediscover what I should do with the rest of my life.  In a perfect world, I would become a full time writer, stay at home, drink coffee, and crank out best sellers all the ling-long day.  Maybe someday that will happen, but for now, I need to stick on a plan B to pay the rent and put food on the table.

My last blog about nerd rage helped me reflect on how much I need to focus on turing negatives into positives.  I can be pissed for a while but then I need to take that energy and do something productive with it.  If I don't, I will just be a destructive mess that no one wants to be around.  I'm hoping journaling and writing will be that outlet and I hope to couple that with a more physical outlet, like meditation and yoga.  Think of it this way, it's okay to have a few cranky cows in your herd, as long as you keep them in a pen where they won't beat up the other cows.  I have a lot of cranky cows I've been penning with chicken wire, when what I really need is a sturdy fence.  It's going to be a lot of work building those fences, but I think I'm up to the challenge.

Huh....that was a random analogy.  I love it!  It's so good to say something silly and not get mad at myself that no one will understand or that I'm being too weird!  So much yay!

How have you guys been feeling lately?  Are you building any fences for the cranky cows in your life?

Xoxo, tootles!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Babbles of a Fangirl - Nerd Rage

Today we are going to talk about a funny little emotion: anger. I am trying to better understand this emotion as of late because I'm exhausted with anger.  If you have seen the movie "Inside Out" than let's just say, I know who is at the helm in my brain.
Can I say that curse word now?

In my brief research it seems that anger is prodominatly caused by triggers. I have been going through a lot of personal reflection to better understand my triggers and what my anger might really be saying beyond "Grrr...I'm mad!"  I will spare you the details of that information (TMI?) but I did realize I could take a fun spin on this personal reflect for you guys!  How about we talk about nerd rage?

Youtube buffering/Bad Internet connection

Everyday I'm buffering
It's no secret I watch a lot of youtube.  I watch some channels as faithfully as some middle age women watched soap operas 80's.  There is something very relaxing about having a consistent watching schedule.  You have something to look forward to after a hard day. A few minutes watching a youtube show for me instantly transports me to a better state of mind. Needless to say, when I can't watch my stories, I flip.  I am desperately trying to get my quiet time but the gosh-darn internet won't let me do it!  I know that it's there, waiting for me, but I can't get at it.  The worst is when a video came manage to play the crappy advertisement before the video with no problem but when it comes time to actually play the video, no dice!  I'm glad to say my internet connect is much better than it was when I was a teenager, trying to watch the Allen and Craig show in my bedroom.  Although that has spoiled me.  Now I am less patient with loading than ever!  "It worked fine yesterday! So WTF is going on today!"  There is nothing worse than waiting all day for a bit of solace only to not be able to get that relax time you need.  Well maybe there are a few things that are worse.  For example....

When beloved characters die

Picture unrelated....
Why do characters have to die in stories?  Can we just change the system so that characters never die.  Instead let's just enact a makeshift video game style system for death.  Characters just go, collect their extra life and come back for another round of play!  I think the world would be a better, less scary place if we did that.  My normal first emotion when a character dies is usually uncontrollable sadness (Yes, I have sobbed when characters have died) quickly followed by passionate anger.  I don't ever really get over when a character I love dies.  I know.  He/she isn't a real person, so I should just get over it.  The problem is that there are too many artists and writers out there that do too good of a job making their characters feel real.  So maybe it just be a lot easier if people tried less when creating their art.  Sound good?  Speaking of creating art....

You forget to hit the save button

Add caption

We have all been that.  That dark moment.  Whether it's during a game or while trying to create the next great American novel, this is the source of so much nerd rage that I'm sure it's collective anger could create a new, fiery sun.  This sun would be the darkest most evil thing in all the galaxy.  Why?  Because losing all of your work after hours and hours of time is so horrible.  You will now have to go back, retread the ground you walked on and hope you can make the same footprints again.  And you know what?  It's impossible to get it just the same.  You will now only have a shadow of what you did to follow and things will change.  I have lost writing before and it hurts so bad to lose something you spent so much trying trying to get right the first time. Maybe it's easier with a video game to go back, but now you are just annoyed that you have to listen to the stuff you just heard and do the same things all over again.  You lose all feeling of progression and tasks just turn tedious.  Long story short, losing your progress sucks.  Take it from me, hit the save button and hit it often.  It might take you out of what you are doing for a few moments but it's better than having to go back and try it all over again.

Honestly, talking about this has helped me feel a little more lighthearted about somethings that would normally make me so mad.  It's been a rough week and it's nice to finally let go of stuff that was weighing my mind.  I hope this will help you too. Do you have anything that leaves you in a nerd rage?  Or is there something that's been bugging you lately that you need to get off your chest?  Let me know!  And remember, you are not alone!

Thanks & tootles!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts - NANOWRIMO

I am doing it.  I am going to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November!  I know what you're thinking, "But Patchwork, it's only August!  Isn't it a little early to be saying your doing something in November!?"  You're right, November does feel like a million miles away.  Here's the deal, I'm announcing this now for a few reasons.

1.) Locking myself into a commitment
If announce to everyone that I am going to try to write 50,000 words in a month then I have a lot more eyes making sure I don't give up in the first few days.  I will be the first to admit I sometimes have have problems with my follow through.  I tend to think if a project isn't perfect then I don't deserve to do it.  I am going to try my darn-dist to not let that mind set hit me.  I will also be doing vlogs throughout the month reporting my experience.

2.) The next couple of months are going to go fast for me
The next few months are the busiest time of the year at my work. I will stay busy all the way until Halloween  This time is going to go fast.  I might not have time to talk about NANOWRIMO in the next few months, so I need to talk about it now.  I need to get myself pumped up and ready to write!

3.) I need to start making notes
The story I've decided to write for NANOWRIMO is the same story that I declared I was writing as my first novel.  I am not ready to walk away from that story and I don't want to suddenly put it on hold in November so I can work on something new.  The compromise?   Wait until November and work on my outline and notes in the mean time.  I still have a lot more research to do.  I have also found this really cool writing program called Scrivner that I'm learning more about.  I will probably do an article on that program to let you know my findings and if it's worth you looking at!

4. I want you to think about joining me!
YES!  YOU!  I want you to make a goal and join me in participating in NANOWRIMO.  Do you have a story you've been dying to get out, have you always wanted to try writing a novel?  Do you not have time to write the projects you want?  Join me!  Go to and create an account.  Once you've done that, you can add me as a buddy.  My screen name on there is Alexandra VanHorn.  Find me, add me, and let's get ready for November!  Leave a comment if you are planning to join me on this adventure!

Let's do it!  Let's write some novels!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts - My Goals

I am trying to create a more consistent writing schedule by writing a few times a week.  My rough goals are to write two articles every week.  One article will be the normal, nerdy thing and the other will be journaling about my projects. You can expect a lot of reflection on writing, reading, video making, all that jazz.  Also, I am working on my book but I am in the infant stages of drafting and sketching the plot. I am an avid note taker because I like having a path to go on.  Of course I'm leaving some room for deviating, but I like to know who my characters are and where the story is being contained.  Also, I need to study the currents of the Atlantic Ocean and Norse's a writing thing.  

Another thing I have been pondering is attempting (again) is NANOWRIMO (I think I got all of the letters?).  For those of you who are unfamiliar, that stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place from the start to the end of November.  The goal is to write 50,000 words in one months, which is roughly the length of a completed novel.  I know that sounds pretty unreasonable to some, but the intent is spur on creativity and help you build support communities with fellow writings.

The one thing I have realized over the last year is that having a support system helps so much with writing.  I have an amazing, talented writers group that I attend (though sometimes my anxiety issues make me the fairest weather attendee) and I often show my writing to my very encouraging husband.  Plus I have you guys!  Having an audience (no matter how small) viewing your work also helps a great deal!  Long story short, I want to participate in November to see if I can be disciplined enough to stick to my goals.  I might need to get up at 5:00 a.m. every day to reach that goal, but I want to do it!  When the time comes, I think I will make vlogs about my progress and take a break from doing articles, as most of my writing juice will be used elsewhere.

So in short, I want to be ambitious and cautious at the same time.  These are my rough goals.

1. Write 1 nerdy article a week
2. Write 1 journal a week
3. Create 1 detailed video a month
4. Vlog more as time permits?

If I start sliding, call me out for it!  Follow me on twitter @ThePatchwrkNerd so you can reply "Why aren't you writing?!" to all of my pictures of my dog!  Here we go!  Let's start this adventure!

And here is some parting fun/wisdom:


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Down the Tubes - My Jams!

A while back I wrote an article about videos on youtube that I love!  When reading through that article I realized something: I freaking love youtube.  It is such an interesting place to get a wide array of talent and content. It's not a perfect place either.  Personally I feel that the copyright claim hammer come down a little too hard on us nobodies and it can make it very hard to establish yourself, but believe it or not, that's also why I love youtube.  We have an amazing task of helping shape this large entity that everyone knows about.  We can influence this place.  We can make it grow with us.  Yeah, I'm being overly rosey right now.  It's just nice to have someplace to go when you need to turn off.  That brings us to today.  I have collected some of the more musical videos I go to when I need to jam out.  I hope you enjoy!

"Five Nights at Freddy's: The Musical - Night 1 (Feat. Markiplier)" Random Encounters 

I'm not sure if you've heard of this one game, it's fairly popular these days.  It's called Five Nights at Freddy's.  Heard of it?  Seriously though, FNAF has blown up on youtube and has inspired many Let's Plays and spoofs!  My favorite by far is the Five Nights at Freddy's musical by Random Encouters!  Their channel has created MANY of my favorite musical spoof of famous games, characters and pop culture and boy to they deliver here!  Also, it features a youtuber you may know named Markiplier!  I find this musical especially near and dear to my heart because Markiplier is by far my favorite Let's Player and his play through of Five Nights at Freddy's 2 was my first real introduction to his channel!  I'm happy to say I haven't looked back!  With a catchy tune and a fun misunderstanding, this musical is sure to tug and your heart strings and tickle your funny bone!  Give it a watch and try not to sing along!

 "Titenic: The Jontron Song" Jontron (ft.Schmoyoho)

I will be completely level with you about this song: I'm addicted.  At first I was confused.  Then I was charmed.  Then I was addicted and I've been listening at LEAST five times a week.  Jontron is my favorite video game reviewer and with good reason!  His comedy, editing, and reviewing is full of passion and polish!  Sure, many people are irritated that his content doesn't come out as rapidly as many youtubers, but his skill in video creation always makes it worth the wait!  Titenic is his collaboration with musical act Schmoyoho and takes you through a rendition of his priceless review of the Titanic video games.  It captures Jontrons random humor and layered jokes in a perfect blend!  Take a dive into this video and taste the perfect concoction that is Jontron!  Note for Jontron: Always take your time!  You're lovely, deary!

"Luigi's Ballad" Starbomb

Is it normal if whenever this song comes on my husband and I break into joyful song?  We seriously considered playing this song at our wedding, but it had one too many curse words to make it "wedding appropriate".  Starbomb is catching, magically catchy.  I strongly recommend that if you enjoy this song you check out their entire album.  It will take you down nostalgia lane with many clever winks to the games we all grew up with and loved.  Then show it to your friends and then their friends.  Before you know it, you will have sing-a-longs in no time!

"Word Crimes" "Weird Al" Yankovic

"Weird Al" Yankovic really speaks for himself.  His lyrics are to tight and perfectly put together to the point that I think he might be a wizard or at least a musical genius.  Word Crimes takes a very detailed look into the common fumbles committed in the English language.  If you find yourself constantly bashing your head against the wall because of your friend's frightening grammar, this song is a love letter to you!

"Romeo and Juliet vs Bonnie and Clyde, Epic Rap Battles of History Season 4" ERB

I love so much how youtubers work together on so many projects!   Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig are two creators full of talent and laughs and they bring their A-Game to their appearance in Epic Rap Battle! Two iconic couples take jabs at each other to see not only who's love is strong, but who's rhymes are fiercer!  With quick, clever lyrics and side-splitting performances, this rap is sure to leave you giggling!

I hope you all enjoyed another look down the tubes with me!  I have to say that writing about Youtube has become one of my favorite topics.  I am in the process of creating a more consistent writing schedule and doing my best to stick to it!  I'm also hoping to create more of my own youtube videos soon.  I am just struggling because I only have my web camera to use and my old computer has been causing some issues with the quality of the videos.  Multiple times I have created vlogs only to discover something caused the lips syc to be completely off.  If you have suggestions for a reasonable camera I can get, please leave a comment down below!