Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

I am pleased to announce that I crossed the 50,000 word finish line of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) on November 23rd. (I was determined to be finished before Thanksgiving.) This means that I now have a short story to revise and submit to an anthology and a still unfinished full-length novel that’s still a bit of a hot mess, but that’s okay – that’s what first drafts are for. My plan was to stay on top of my blog posts and count those words towards my goal but it didn’t work out that way; sometimes stories just need to be written. It was nice to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving without having my word count hanging over my head.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s time to start focusing on the next big thing which in our family is the birth of twins. (Our oldest son and his wife are expecting twins. The due date is in February 2021 although we all expect them to come earlier.) Oh, and Christmas is somewhere in there too.😬

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving – or at least a bearable one, LOL! As someone who had a hate/hate relationship with Thanksgiving for many years, I completely understand that sometimes holidays are just something you have to get through.

Until next time, take care and happy trails!

Friday Funnies

At twelve years of age, Desmond (Dez for short) holds the rank of Old Man Cat in our clowder. If you look up ‘fraidy cat’ in the dictionary, you’ll probably find Dez’s picture. Even after being with us since he was approximately five weeks old, Dez is yet to be convinced that we don’t have some sort of nefarious plans for him. He has come out of his shell more since our move to The Cabin four years ago that I ever thought he would. I’m always glad when he decides to be personable and seeks attention – even when he forgets to pull in his tongue.

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. (Also called NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short.) This is the month when writers across the globe – including yours truly – commit to writing a 50,000 word “novel” in 30 days. Are we crazy? Probably. Is it fun? Strangely enough, yes. The NaNo community is made up of people who love to write and run the gamut from published authors to those dipping their toe into the writing pool for the first time. Some people write novels, others write scripts or fanfiction; it doesn’t matter so much what is written as long as the 50,000 words are new.

I have a tendency to get into my own head when I’m writing and can spend too much time second guessing myself or going back and revising what I’ve already written. The limited time frame and word count goal force me to push all of that to the side and just write. Most of my novels and short stories (written as Isabella Norse) have been born during NaNoWriMo. I usually write as “rebel” meaning that I’m not starting a brand new novel. (My rebel status is no great surprise to anyone who knows me, LOL.) This year I plan to use the first 12,000 words or so to work on a short story that I’m planning to submit for an anthology and the rest of the words I’ll put toward completing My Fair Vampire, the next entry in my Kudzu Korners sweet paranormal romance series.

Another reason NaNoWriMo works for me is because I’m an extremely competitive person but I’m also a sore loser, LOL. With NaNo, I’m mostly competing against myself. I’ve participated in NaNo every year since 2011. In spite of my competitiveness, I haven’t “won” every year. There are times when I’ve just had to let it go, and that’s okay; there are no NaNo police to come around and rap me on the knuckles with a ruler. The NaNo community is very supportive; we cheer each other on when things are going well and cry on each other’s shoulders when they aren’t. It’s also great because non-writers don’t really understand how characters can take over a story and take it in a completely unexpected direction or how a writer can have a character they hate. (Several years ago Kenn asked my how my story was going and I told him that I hated the heroine’s best friend. He just looked at me and finally said “How can you hate her? You created her.” Yes, I did, but that didn’t keep her from being a complete jerk. Once I got to know her a little better my opinion changed and she got a book of her own, LOL.)

Wish me luck!

Road Trip: Changing It Up and Lessons Learned

During all of our previous trips, we have kept interstate travel to a minimum. The idea of towing in high-speed, bumper-to-bumper travel didn’t appeal to either of us. All of that changed with our recent trip; with as many miles as we were traveling, interstate was frequently the simplest way to get from Point A to Point B. Of course, interstate travel also meant that I didn’t do much driving on this time around.

This trip was a learning experience for us in many ways and one of the things we were learning was just how far we could comfortably travel in a day. The most we traveled in one day was 377 miles; we started the morning in Blountsville, Tennessee and stopped for the night in Williamsport, Maryland. Biggest lesson learned: 377 miles in one day is bit much. Going forward, somewhere between 250 and 300 miles a day will be our goal.

Most of the 377 miles mentioned above was spent crossing Virginia on I-81. If you are ever traveling the same route, I have two things to say: 1) Bless your heart and 2) I’m sorry. Virginia is a beautiful state and I would love to spend some time there NOT on the interstate. What makes this stretch so bad? First, it’s the trucks; there are semis everywhere. Second are the rest areas. Or maybe I should say, the lack of rest areas. Many of the rest areas in Virginia are Cars Only, which rules out anyone towing a travel trailer. The rest areas that do allow trucks (and therefore RVs/travel trailers) tend to be overflowing with semis. It was often easier to just keep driving than to find somewhere to stop and stretch our legs (or get away from the trucks) for a bit.

Sunset at the Unadilla / I-88 / Oneonta KOA in New York

Much to our surprise, the day we “only” drove 282 miles on mostly non-interstate roads was the day that really took the wind out of our sails. We started the morning in Unadilla, New York and stopped for the night in Lake Winnipesauki, New Hampshire. I was so looking forward to a day without being on the interstate but driving the back roads of Vermont with road work around every other curve was not a relaxing experience at all, LOL.

Another thing we learned is how much the condition of the roads impacts your travel. As native Georgians, most of our trips are in the Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina area and its a running joke with us how bad the roads are in South Carolina. Seriously, as soon as you cross the border into South Carolina, the roads become absolute garbage. (Unless you’re near Clemson University; those roads are pristine.🙄) However, the roads in the south aren’t exposed to the same weather extremes as those in the northern states. Not only do the northern roads take a beating from the weather but there is a shortened season for repairing that damage so there was roadwork absolutely everywhere. (One of our neighbors at a KOA in Maine used to pave roads in the state for a living and he said that they were required to have all road surface work completed by October 1st or October 15th depending on the location.) Also, after a day of taking a beating from the roads sometimes you go to bed and still feel like you’re being bounced around, LOL.

I try to think of each trip as an opportunity to learn. Our trip out west in 2019 taught us to take the weather at our destination into consideration when planning a trip. (Some areas actually have winter weather that lasts more than a couple of weeks. Who knew?😂) This trip we learned not to over-estimate how far we can comfortably travel in a day and also that other things such as road conditions or other unexpected delays may impact our plans and that that’s okay. We haven’t quite made the mental transition from traveling while working, which meant that we had a limited amount of time available before we had to be back at work, to traveling while retired which means that our schedule can be adjusted as needed. We’re working on it.

Until next time, take care and happy trails.