Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check In #3 (and Star Wars Celebration)

Word Count Update
This was our third week of All The Things! However, I did manage to get a good start to my word count. I drafted three different scenes, and am working on another right now. When I said last week about needing a fixed point in time for my novel, this little revelation helped move things along. My newest challenge? I keep flipping between first and third person narrative. I haven't decided on which one works best and I've decided to wait until this weekend to sit down with my words to get a feel on how to move forward. I can fix those other pages later and I don't want to interrupt where I'm going so far.




YA Buccaneers challenge this week
Our goal is to write at least 100 words a day. I did skip Monday since I needed a "day off" after our long weekend. I have managed to squeeze in about 1500 words this week, so not too bad so far!

Star Wars Celebration
Eight years ago was the last time that I attended Star Wars Celebration. Since the announcement of the new movies, and that the books I grew up reading were non-canon, my mood about Star Wars took a turn. I didn't know what to expect. 

Some of you might not know, but Star Wars changed my life. It's how I connected with my mentor and my husband. The second Star Wars Celebration was the first time that I flew-- by myself-- to hang out with 20,000 strangers. However, what I found were people with the same common connection. I've bonded with many wonderful people and it's one of the reasons why I'm sitting here right now. When Celebration was announced for Anaheim, I bought my tickets instantly. That was over a year in advance. 


BB-8!

It wasn't until I was sitting in front of my computer Thursday to watch The Force Awakens panel (we were leaving the next morning for Celebration) that I realized how much it meant to me. My husband and I were chatting back and forth about our reactions. With each one, I was growing excited with each revelation, and then there was a trailer. This was the trailer that I was waiting for! My heart soared, and I was so happy we had our tickets. I couldn't wait to see familiar faces, and meet new ones. 



And that's exactly what happened. When standing in line with Star Wars fans, you always have something to talk about. While waiting to see Mark Hamill, we were in line for four hours. With a scan of the people,  we decided to sit next to a mother and son who we even sat with during the panel. And we got to see Mark Hamill, who was the only of the main cast (and George Lucas) we hadn't seen before. We watched the trailer they made for Rogue One three times and cheered with everyone each time The Force Awakens trailer was shown. I bought a shirt with glowing lightsabers spelling out STAR WARS and lightsaber earrings. I wore my Corellian costume (my Jedi costume is now too big due to weight loss). It was like coming home again.

Artoo!
When I sat down Tuesday in the cafe, there was a new confidence growing inside of me. I wrote my words in two sessions with Write or Die and I was ready to jump back in. In a way, Star Wars saved me once again.

Natasha

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check In #2 (and YALLWEST)

Word Count Update
Over the past week, I have gotten a small start to my word count (about 1500 words). This is my first experience writing a contemporary. I'm coming to realize it will come with its own bit of challenges that I haven't anticipated while writing genre fiction. It wasn't until I was writing to a friend that I knew I needed to focus on a specific time period. Geek culture is a major part of the plot so I need a fixed point in time to move that plot along. 

Now that I have this figured out, let's see how this word count will progress. 


YA Buccaneers challenge this week
Share random facts about your main character (MC). 

1) Her favorite part of her retail job is taping up packages of socks so she can avoid customers. She doesn't question why people tear open packages to look at them (all the time). 
2) She draws fan art and it too afraid to post it online.
3) People never suspect her of anything. 

YALLWEST
My husband Joey and I drove up to Santa Monica on Saturday to kick-off the event. One of the best parts of these events isn't just the panels and authors, but the people. I met up with my Pitch Wars team at the Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra panel with the two co-creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and comic artist, Gene Luen Yang. Afterwards, we went to their signing. 

A few hours later, Joey went to grab lunch for us at a local vegan place within walking distance of the high school. While he was there, Bryan Konietzko recognized Joey and they had lunch together. When Joey told me, I was so excited since their show was such a huge influence for my Pitch Wars book.

I really did enjoy the panels since there was a lot of variety of topics. At cons, they usually focus on YA/MG with general topics like "What is YA?". It was awesome seeing actual discussions about female characters, author struggles like depression in real life or in books, and cosplay. My favorite part of the Smackdown event later on was the author's reading their works when they were teenagers.

I walked away from this week with a lot to figure out in my mind, but mostly in a good way. I have another busy weekend ahead and looking forward to putting more energy into my work. Let's do this! 

Natasha

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check In #1 (and WonderCon)

April is a crazy month for me on the weekend for a lot of fun reasons. I'm not sure how this will help my progress over the next three weeks, but we shall see!

This past weekend we attended WonderCon in Anaheim, California. We went last year and it has become one of my new favorites. My husband Joey and I have been preparing my Spider-Gwen costume for the past month so it was really fun to finally premiere it.


The first thing we did when arriving at the con was volunteer for the (future) Hollywood Sci Fi Museum, that hopes to open in 2016. We donated to their Kickstarter and attended a fan event with them. We dressed up as Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man to help attract people in stopping by. While volunteering, I was asked to assist at the table for Billy West, the voice actor (Futurama!). It was surreal experience having my picture taken at times while helping out with his fans and hearing his stories.

Above, there's a video of us in costume at the two minute mark that was a bit of surprise and my friend ended up finding it on YouTube by chance. One thing I loved about con, you always knew when Star-Lord was around!

Other than dressing up, we bought a few pieces of Spiderverse (and Captain Marvel) art from many talented artists. The panels we attended were for iZombie and The Flash. People, if you're not watching these shows, you're missing out on a lot of fun!


As you read this, you can see why my goals this week might seem not like very much. My biggest goal was to work on more plotting using the book Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict by Cheryl St. John. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you need a bit of guidance with the plotting side. I jump into my books and write by the seat of my pants, but this time I attempting something different. This book has been the best resource I've come across so far since it can ask some really tough questions, which is exactly what I needed!


My goal this week is to continue plotting and write 2,000 words. I'm halfway there, thanks to the YA Buccaneers YA Sprints on Twitter. I always feel like I could be doing more, but that's the woe of writers!

This weekend, I'll be attending one day of YALLWEST in Santa Monica, which will be a lot of fun. It's been a while since I attended a bookish event like this so I know it will be a blast. I've met so many wonderful people since we moved to San Diego three years ago, so it will be fun to catch up with familiar faces and meet new ones!

There's my weekly check-in! Next week, I'll have an update on YALLWEST and my amazing accountability team!

Natasha

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015: The Goals

I had a great time earlier this year doing the Writer Recharge. April has many fun things ahead, but I didn't want to get too distracted from my writing tasks. This year, I'm writing three month goals and after going through my January through March goals, I wondered how can I jumpstart my writing?

First, better daily habits.
Second, doing another fun challenge.

This morning, on Twitter, I saw tweets on the YA Buccaneers 2015 Spring Writing Boot Camp that will run from April 1st to May 31st. I set my goals and join in the fun with the others who signed up. And the best part? There will be a schedule of writing sprints, weekly challenges, and hanging out with other cool writers. 



I'm doing my best to not use social media as much over the next month so that's the hardest part for me. Except, it's a good test in using Twitter in ways that's helpful for my writing. 

I'm a little nervous about writing my goals since I tend to give myself more than I expect. If I want to create better habits and see this as a challenge, the goals can't be too easy! 

Goals
1) Write 50,000 words in my current WIP, Prairie Dust.
2) Write synopsis for my three completed manuscripts. Decide on next the next big revision project.
3) Rework the revision project outline. 

Here's to kicking butt in the next two months! I will do updates every Wednesday to keep myself accountable and include other fun things from the week (like WonderCon or pictures from my weekly hike). 

Good luck to all the fellow Bootcampers, NaNo Campers, and all the other writers getting by!

Natasha

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Gwensday: Third Update on Spider-Gwen costume

If you haven't read the first two updates, you can find them here and here.

This is the final post of the Spider-Gwen costume since it's complete! (We do have the mask to do next, but I'll do a bonus post before Comic-Con in July.) This is what I'll be wearing to WonderCon 2015.

We left off last week with all the black part of the costume being sewn onto the white. This week, we'll show you the progression of sewing and lining the colored portions on the arms and hood.

We used different references to decide on what kind of shapes we wanted. There are plenty of variations so you will have to decide on works for you. We also kept in mind how we wanted it to look not only on the front, but the back. 

Here's what we decided to do from the back angle. 

 The front. You can see the chalk lines that we used before using the blue puffy paint. 

 Chalked up version of the hood.

The hood is complete! 

 And here's the finished product with the wig I found from Amazon.

Spider-Gwen and Spidey are ready for WonderCon!

And that's my Spider-Gwen costume. Feel free to leave comments if you have any questions on any of the posts. If you haven't already checked out the comics, be sure to look for Spider-Gwen in the Spiderverse comics and her very own series. 

Natasha

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy Gwensday: Second Update on Spider-Gwen costume

We've completed the second week of work on the Spider-Gwen costume. Things are really coming together and it's hard to contain the excitement when we complete each step. And if you have already, be sure to check out the first post.

The biggest accomplishment was completing the black parts on the costume. The front is pretty straight forward so lining it up with fabric tape and pins before sewing. The back, on the other hand, was trying to figure out what type of design we want. Sadly, the comic artists aren't always consistent, which is expected.

The biggest thing when sewing is making sure you use the right kind of fabric tape. We picked up some at Walgreen's and it turned out it actually supposed to be used instead of sewing. It might be expensive, but good sewing tape is worth it! We found it at our local sewing store, but most sewing places should have it one hand.


I forgot about two things in my last post, which are my gloves and wig. My mother is known to collect a lot of things and I remember playing with gloves as a kid. She also gave me a pair of grandmother's, but they weren't white. I called her up, and my hunch was right that she had a box of gloves. She mailed me two white pairs from North Dakota. With white, it's always good to have a back-up if you can.

The wig is something I will touch on next week. I'm waiting for it to arrive today. I was surprised it was easier to find one for my Mary Jane costume for last Comic-Con than this one. Crossing my fingers that this one works since there were no reviews and only one picture that hopefully did it justice.


Next week expect an update on the colored sections of the costume and the wig. I will be doing the mask, but that will be an extra bonus post later on. If we're lucky, maybe we can unveil the finished suit!

Best,
Natasha

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Happy Gwensday: First Update on Spider-Gwen costume

The second issue of Spider-Gwen is out today! It's fitting that my first post falls on an actual Gwensday. Since the first appearance of Spider-Gwen, I've wanted her costume.

It also doesn't help when my husband handmade one of these:


Joey's goal is to make a new Spider-Man costume for himself. Last year was Peter Parker, but this year is Miles Morales for himself and Spider-Gwen for me. I was a little nervous about this since, you know, spandex is involved. Joey insisted that we could look into other options. 


Materials


We started with the blank canvas of the white hoodie and the black yoga pants. Yoga pants don't need any changes. And the nice thing about the yoga pants I found? There is a little pocket in the waistline so I can put money or (with some widening) my Nexus phone. 


The second pair of yoga pants (or buy black cotton spandex is used for the black portions that will be sewn onto the white hoodie. Pinned it to the hoodie and marked out where to cut with chalk. Currently, the front of the costume is cut and we're working on the design on the back.


Here you can get an idea of how it looks all chalked up. After we cut these portions out and pin them, Joey will put fabric tape so it can be sewn. We do have the front cut already, but we'll save that for next week. 


And that's where we're at so far! Next week we can show you what it looks like all sewn up and we'll see how much of the color we have done. 

Natasha

Monday, March 2, 2015

Writer Recharge 2015: Wrap Up


It's hard to believe that February is behind us. I'm sad to see it go, especially since that means the end of Writer Recharge. A big thank you to Sara Biren, Katy UppermanElodie NowodazkijAlison Miller, and Liz Parker for putting this together! This has been great challenge for me to help find some balance in the goals that I set out for myself. I know now what I would like to do, what I need to do, and what to expect for myself. I'm proud of the progress that I have made over the past month and will continue on with furthering my goals.

Intro Post | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 |


My #WriterRecharge Wrap-Up
  • WRITE/REVISE 
    • Complete revision of Follow the Moon
    • Work on finding the "voice" for Prairie Dust
    • Write a critique letter for next revision project
      • I didn't end up doing this. The closest I did was putting the draft on my Nook. I realized working on three projects at once was too much for me. Lesson learned!
    • Complete revision on short story
      • I sent this to my critique partners and the comments they gave me helped my heart when moving on to my WIP. I don't know what I will do with this story, but so happy I wrote it. 

  • READ/REREAD 
    • Work on Course Weeks 2-5 in The Artist's Way
    • Read one adult book
      • I did leave the book unfinished since I didn't like the voice, but I count that. 
    • Find a new comic book to read (besides Spider-Gwen)
      • Silk! Young Avengers! I also need to finish Runaways. 
    • Finish library loans and begin reading books on nightstand
      • I still have three library books to go. 

  • STRETCH 
    • Hiking! The local SCBWI chapter is doing them every other week, so I want to also hike on the weeks in between. 
      • I completed my fifth hike this year. Alternating between being with a group and going on my own has been a great experience I'm planning to keep on doing. 
  • SELF 
    • I completed the PopSugar Plank Challenge today so I decided to work on my push-ups next by doing them in steps
      • I'm on Phase Three (knee push-ups) so I'm on my way! I can feel the burn. 
    • Find a walking challenge that works.
      • I found Neila Ray's workout website so I'm going to fit more challenges into my work-out. Her walking challenge is perfect for me. We are getting rain here so I haven't been able to start it yet, but watch out March! 
  • CONNECT
    • Since this is Parks and Recreation's last season, I have something for Galentine's Day this year for my best gal friends. 
      • It was so great hearing the reactions from my friends when they received them in the mail. And did I mention that I'm so sad the series is over?
  • FUN
    • It's my birthday month so I don't see this being a problem, however, I'm really excited to pick up the first issue of Spider-Gwen on February 25th. I'm doing the costume for Comic-Con in July (my husband has a Spider-Man costume) so I'll get started on getting that together.  
      • I bought the shoes for my costume and have finally figured out some ways to get it together. We have a month to get this and his Miles Morales costume together for WorldCon. I'm excited and nervous! 
Looking at what I've done over the past month, it's definitely easy to see where I need to improve for March. I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead. Thank you to the Writer Recharge team for putting this together! I look forward to seeing what you all do throughout 2015!

Natasha

Monday, February 23, 2015

Writer Recharge 2015: Update #3


It's that time again where I get to update on my writer goals for this month. I can't believe there is barely a week left in February! Here's how this week went.

My #WriterRecharge Goals
  • WRITE/REVISE 
    • Complete revision of Follow the Moon
      • I have no finished this revision yet and it's driving me crazy. This is my main priority this week. I put the latest revision on my Nook and we'll see how this goes! I feel like I'm SO CLOSE! 
    • Work on finding the "voice" for Prairie Dust
      • I found it! I found it! I read through different scenes that I wrote and there it was! I even doubled my word count. 
    • Write a critique letter for next revision project
      • I also have this on my Nook so I'm going to do this. We'll see how this goes. 
    • Complete revision on short story
      • I sent the second half to my critique group and got their comments back. In the past five years, their comments had never touched me quite like these. I've been struggling so much so maybe that has something to do with it! 
  • READ/REREAD 
    • Work on Course Weeks 2-5 in The Artist's Way
      • I'm on Week 5! I can't recommend this book enough and I'm not even halfway through it. 
    • Read one adult book
      • I did... and left it unfinished. It was by one of my favorite authors and it was a departure from what she usually writes. I couldn't get into it. Does that count? I'm doing my best to get through library books and there are no other adults ones in the pile. 
    • Find a new comic book to read (besides Spider-Gwen)
      • A friend recommended Young Avengers to me so I'll start that this week!
    • Finish library loans and begin reading books on nightstand
      • I'm so close!
  • STRETCH 
    • Hiking! I went with my local SCBWI group this week on a five mile hike near my house. It was a little overcast, but that kept it cool!
  • SELF
    • I'm on the second part of my push-up challenge and I'm noticing a difference in my arms! 
  • FUN
    • My costume for Spider-Gwen is coming along. I did research on it this past week and now I need to start purchasing items. My husband is working on his Miles Morales mask so we'll be doing my soon. He's testing out different materials for the eyes so we can see. 
Over the past few weeks, I've learned what I make a priority and what I don't. This week that is one of my silent goals is to make sure that I don't let things get in the way. It's so easy to do!

Good luck to my fellow Rechargers! 

Natasha

Monday, February 16, 2015

Writer Recharge 2015: Update #2

Over halfway through February already! That means my birthday has passed and I'm starting fresh, in some ways. The day after my birthday is always the weirdest day of the year for me. It's like my whole body and mind crashes with the question "Where do I go from here?"and my stomach responds with going into knots. Then, I take a deep breath, and jump back into the world with more determination than before.Today is that day. First, let's look at last week. 


My #WriterRecharge Goals

  • WRITE/REVISE 
    • Still working on my revision for Follow the Moon. I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out since I'm touching a chapter that I haven't in a while. Maybe that's saying something?
    • I didn't get to work on anything else! I have to change that this week. 
  • READ/REREAD 
    • I'm a little behind on The Artist's Way, but going to catch up over the past few days. I really like doing my morning pages, but the busy weekend got in the way.
    • I read Sisters by Raina Telgemeier and and issue of manga Spider-Man that my husband suggested. My Nook was dead when I went to read this weekend, but I want to start Black Widow's latest series. 
    • I have two weeks to get through five books. I can totally do this, right?
  • STRETCH 
    • My husband had Friday off so he went hiking with me in the canyon preserve by our house. It was hot that day so we went early in the morning, but we got three miles in! 
  • SELF 
    • I'm up to 45 standing push-ups. I want to feel a bit more burn before I head to the next step.
    • I haven't come up with a walking challenge quite yet. I'm mostly utilizing technology to help motivate me. So far, I use my Android watch in various ways like setting a timer for writing, and then I have to go walk. I also use the timer to buzz at me after a half hour or how long I want to walk so I'm not looking at my phone all the time. My watch keeps track of my steps, and I'm improving, so that seems to be working. I'm also using MyTracks to keep track of my paths, distance, and progress.  It sounds complicated, but really, it's working!
  • CONNECT
    • I achieved this goal! This three day weekend was the best since on the 13th I celebrated my gal pals, on the 14th I spoiled my husband, and the 15th was my birthday.

      I sent out Galentine's to my friends all over the place. It's fun posting on people's walls, but I sent out actual Galentine's and stickers. My friends were so appreciative when they received them!

      I also planned Valentine's Day this year for my husband. I don't play video games as much anymore so we did that, bought a ton of his favorite comics, and ate Cali burritos at our favorite vegan place. He has done so much for me lately that I think he deserved it. He told me that the best part was that I like doing those things with him--- and that's totally true! 

  • FUN
    • I have my shoes for my Spider-Gwen costume! Joey and I went all over trying to find items for both of our costumes (he wants to do a Miles Spider-Man next). I'm still trying to figure out exactly on how to construct it so I'll have to do more research on that this week. 

Overall, this has been a great week! We also went to the Marvel Experience with friends earlier in the week for my birthday. You train to become a SHIELD agent by smashing things like the Hulk, climbing like Spider-Man, and going through a small laser maze like Black Widow. I was pretty impressed by the special effects and would love for them to put something like this in Disney. They also didn't use the movie versions of the characters so they incorporated She-Hulk, The Vision, and Iron Fist. That was pretty cool! 

This week will be busy, as well, but I'm determined to get a lot done. The big two things I want to square away is the revisions on Follow the Moon and my short story. I don't think that will be a problem since I have my critique group meeting this week and they will demand the second half of the short story. 

Good luck to you fellow Rechargers! 

Natasha