NaNo Day 2: Homework. And, Yeah, Homework.

A breakdown of how I spent my time yesterday:

  • 5% Revising
  • 10% Homework
  • 10% Hanging out with friends. (To any lovely Oxford people reading this, especially Jenny: HI. I LOVE YOU. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR VISITING.)
  • 75% NaNoWriMo

… Which is how I ended up writing 6,034 words before Day 1 was done.

Because of that, though, I’m way behind on homework now, so I’m going to have to spend the rest of today trying to catch up writing the two papers due this week. (Luckily my goal for today was only to write a thousand words, so I did that as soon as I got up, and now I’m off to the Land of Homework.)

If you’d like to keep up with the Ch1Con team’s NaNoing as a whole, team member Emma is posting our word counts and favorite lines from each day on the conference Tumblr. Check that out here.

Goal for today: 1,000.

Overall goal: 6,000.

Current word count: 7,140.

How’s NaNoWriMo going so far? Did you have a good first day? Let me know in the comments!


Wordy Wednesday (“The End Where I Begin, Chapter Three”)

I’m hooooome!


I barely got through my classes yesterday because I was just so excited to get home. This was the longest and most disconnected I’ve ever been from my family before, because if I do get to study abroad this summer, it’s going to be for over a month on a different continent and I wanted to see if I could actually do that if I tried. I’m usually that student who goes home every other weekend and sees her dog more often than she sees half her college friends, but evidently I did manage it, so five points to me (and now I’m going to spend my entire Thanksgiving break hugging the living daylights out of Sammy).

I didn’t get any writing done yesterday because it was so busy (class all day, plus packing, then the long drive home and having a family dinner, and we watched The Hunger Games to prep for them seeing Catching Fire today, and WE HAD SO MUCH TO CATCH UP ABOUT BECAUSE I HAVEN’T TALKED TO MY FAMILY IN AGES AND I MISSED THEM GAH). So I’m not sure what that means for NaNo and getting everything done on time, now. It’s only 4.5k more, but I really need to work on my homework (especially my two genetics projects, because I’m struggling to pass that class right now). But we’ll see what happens.

Anyway. This week’s Wordy Wednesday is the third chapter of my NaNo project, The End Where I Begin.

As always, a reminder that this has seen little to no editing and I’m still in the process of writing the novel, so there will be mistakes and inconsistencies and all that fun stuff.

Read Chapter One here. And/or Chapter Two here.


Chapter Three

I fidget in the worn, straight-backed theater chair the teachers usher me into in the auditorium. We just finished getting ready fifteen minutes ago, but the shoes I borrowed from Amelia are one size too small, so already my heels are hot and chaffed and my toes ache from squishing into the end. My dress, on the other hand, is two sizes too big—I borrowed it from my brother Calvin’s girlfriend and the fabric, a paler version of the Identiband green, repeatedly dips off my shoulder no matter how many times I pull it back to where it should rest against my collarbone.

Amelia nods her approval as she slides into the seat beside me, like she can’t tell how nervous I am. “Love the heels.”

“I don’t think you’re allowed to say that.”

The shoes are navy blue, the color of a river at dawn, and just tall enough to make it look like my legs are an acceptable length without making me trip all over myself.

“Pshhh. Obviously I can say that, seeing as I had to love them enough to spend stamps on them in the first place.”

“You still sound self-absorbed.”

A crackle and chirp comes from the stage. The rows and rows of students already seated in the auditorium turn. Principal Scully stands center stage before the taller of the two microphone stands set up for the recruiting officers. Amelia leans back in her seat and crosses her arms. She raises an eyebrow—a dare for the principal to speak.

“Hello, New Capital High.” Principal Scully’s voice comes through garbled as the tech team works to adjust the old sound system. “This is a reminder that the Recruitment Assembly will begin promptly in five minutes and you must remain in your seats through the event, or suffer penalization by the Clinic. As always, you must not speak unless told to once the recruiting officers enter the premises. Thank you.”

“He should really try writing a new speech one of these years,” Amelia says.

I bump her shoulder. “No, half the students would have a heart attack. I’ve had this one memorized since year two.”

Amelia is just turning to me to retort when someone beats her to it: “What’s this about having a heart attack? Has someone fallen in love with me again?” Eric slips into the seat on the other side of Amelia and winks in my direction. His pale skin and messy auburn hair draws looks from the other students around us, but he doesn’t bat an eye.

Eric’s been getting those looks for longer than I can remember. He told me once that they bothered him—how everyone here thinks he’s odd since his hair is such an unusual color, a genetic anomaly—but since we became friends with Amelia, he just jokes about the stares.

With all the looks I’ve been getting today, I think I understand why. It’s easier.

I give him a wry smile. “The only reason someone would have a heart attack over you is if you tried making a move on them.”

His hand flies to his heart. “Oh. Miss Alexa Dylan. I’m hurt.”

“Like you don’t already know how I feel about you.” I bat my eyelashes, then pretend to gag myself with my pointer finger.

“You two are so cute.” Amelia throws her arms around us and squeezes. “You’re like an old married couple, minus the old and married and couple parts.”

I push her away. “Disgusting.”

“Oh, you talking about yourself now?” Eric raises his thick eyebrows. “You’d better be, after making me watch your vegetarian food for so long.” He says “vegetarian” like it is something unholy. “What’s happening anyway? Why have you two been so gossipy today?”

“It’s a bit of a long story,” Amelia says, feigning disinterest.

“The recruiting officers aren’t here yet. We’ve got time.” He leans back in his chair and runs a hand through his unruly hair. Eric is wearing khakis and a light blue button-down, but he doesn’t let the nice clothes keep him from resting his loafers on the armrest of the chair in front of him.

The year nine boys sitting on either side of it turn to us, scowls already slipping across their faces, but don’t make a move when they spot Amelia. She smiles at them and waves them away. There’s a reason everyone in Amelia’s family is in politics.

Eric meets my eye. “So?”

“It’s not actually a long story.” I shrug. “It’s just that the Ram apparently has been spreading a rumor that she wants to attack me during the assembly.”

“You mean your pretty face is going to be all messed up by the end of this?” He reaches over Amelia to gingerly pat my head, a melodramatic pout on his lips. I glower and it transforms into a grin. I swat him away.

Amelia slaps her hands over our mouths. “Shhh.” The house lights dim. “It’s starting.”



day 27I apologize for the little bit of messiness. Since I’m not at school, I had to edit the numbers using Paint instead of an actual dry erase marker.

In other news, I currently have half a contact lens stuck in my left eye (it ripped in half last night and I was only able to find and pull out one part–I cannot, for the life of me, find the other half, although I can feel it stuck in there) (I know, I’m sorry people who have phobias of eye problems–*cough* Hannah), but yeah. I’m going to go try to figure out what to do about that now. Then work on NaNo until my guilt and panic win out over doing homework.


Wordy Wednesday (“The End Where I Begin, Chapter Two”)

School is just absolutely nuts this month, because of finals coming up and everything. I only had time to write a little over 1k yesterday because I had to spend so much time on homework and figuring out my schedule for the next few semesters (I’m thinking of adding a minor, which means restructuring when I take other classes to make room for the new ones). I was up until almost 2:00 AM doing that, then so far today all I’ve done is work on more Spanish homework. And I’m still not done with it.

Hopefully I’ll get a couple hours to write today. And hopefully my weekend doesn’t turn out nearly as busy as it looks like it’s going to be, because I am falling seriously behind on my schedule for NaNo.

In the meantime: The winning option for this week’s Wordy Wednesday is an excerpt from the novel I’m writing this month. Reminder that this is really rough and hasn’t seen any real editing yet.

Read Chapter One here.


Chapter Two

The Recruitment Assembly doesn’t take place until after lunch, but the bathroom is already flooded with girls unbuttoning their uniforms and helping each other zip themselves into nice dresses by the time I excuse myself from the table. I try to slip past them to a stall, but the moment Stephanie Jones meets my eye in the mirror, they all stop. The rustle of fabric and happy chatter cuts off like someone has pressed pause in a movie scene. I ignore them and hurry into a stall. I lock the door.

“I heard it’s her fault the Ram got so hostile.”

“Didn’t they used to be friends?”

“Who cares. Nobody even knew who either of them were before Amelia got involved, and thank God for that, because the Ram is crazy.”

I lean my forehead against the door and let the cool metal leach the heat from my skin. My body feels like it’s turned into one of those vintage Easy Bake Ovens at the Cultural Museum in downtown. The curator let Ramsey and me try to make cupcakes in one once, on a fieldtrip when we were ten. They came out mush.

The memory does not help.

My stomach flips, and it’s nice to know I have a toilet within reach should the three bites of salad I managed to swallow in the cafeteria reappear. I don’t know what’s making me more nervous—not knowing whether or not Ramsey will actually follow through with the threat, or the fact that the entire school seems invested in if she does.

The girls in the bathroom go unnaturally quiet again. Footsteps clack against tile, approaching the stalls.

What if Ramsey’s come for me early?

I step back from the door and my calves slap against the toilet. I can’t move. Someone knocks. My heart slams against my ribcage.

“Alexa, are you in there?”

I exhale and close my eyes. “Goodness, Amelia, you nearly gave me a heart attack.”

I should not have to be this on edge in my own school.

“Oh, come on, even the Ram isn’t heartless enough to attack someone while they’re peeing.” I can practically see her roll her eyes from the other side of the stall door. “Eric wants to know if he should continue to keep an eye on your—and I quote, ‘nasty lunch of evil’—or feed it to the trash can.” The door creaks as she leans against it on the other side.

“What time is it?”

“Thirteen oh five. We should probably get ready for the Recruitment Assembly in ten, so up to you on if you want to eat any more between now and then.”

“I’m not sure I could keep much more down right now.”

“I’m sorry.” Her words are nonchalant but sincere. “I understand that. I’d be pretty nauseous if I were you. Let’s not forget how Brad Jennings puked his guts out that time she hit him in the stomach with a tennis racket.” Amelia forces a laugh, like just the sound could lighten the mood, although it doesn’t. The rest of the bathroom is still quiet, listening in. “Honestly, I’d like a little bit of a bully scare of my own, right now. I could stand to lose a couple pounds.”

I nudge the door with my shoulder. It shifts just enough to let her know I think she’s an idiot.

“You know the Ram’s going to go after you one of these days, too. And you will not be nearly as accepting of the situation when that happens.”

“Honey, I created the Ram.” Amelia’s vowels are rounder than mine, more polished. Not nearly as European as her accent was when her family first came to North America for her mother’s job, but enough that she sounds like she knows exactly what she is talking about, even though right now, I know she’s just trying to keep my mind off what will happen once I leave this stall. “She’s just a bully—a big coward. She’d never dare threaten me.”

“You positive about that?”

“Shush.” Amelia nudges the door back at me.

“I’m just saying, you seem to think rather highly of your—”

“She’s not going to hurt you at the Recruitment Assembly.” My best friend’s vowels go even rounder, like she’s losing some control of the way she speaks. Her words are quiet, and harder than usual. “I promise. Nobody will touch you.”

I unlock the door. She stumbles as it swings inward under her pressure.

Amelia is only two inches taller than me, but half a world more confident. The fact that, as I absorb her words, her lips tug down at the corners and she looks away, smooths her blouse, scares me.

“Do you know something I don’t?” I tilt my head and raise an eyebrow. “It’s just the Ram. Sure she has a penchant for turning everyday objects into weapons, but it’s not like she’s going to kill me.”

“You never know with her.” She straightens and her ponytail swings back and forth like a pendulum.

The bathroom is so quiet the voices of other students passing in the hallway are audible. I turn an exasperated gaze on the other girls all standing there, watching us, and they blush, look away, but don’t apologize. They return to applying lipstick and bobby pins.

To Amelia I say, “I’m just worried the Ram might give me a black eye for Homecoming. But you sound worried about more than covering a bruise for pictures. What’s bothering you?”

“Just the same.” Amelia shrugs. “Of course. Now, should we let Eric dump your salad before it becomes sentient, or what?”



day 20

Off to go attempt not to drown under my mountains of homework!



NaNo Day 3: Writing to Music

Sunday! I managed to get the requisite amount of work done on my genetics homework yesterday at around 8:00 PM, which meant that I then had time to actually relax with dinner and HGTV for an hour, then I joined Hannah in one of the dorm lounges to write for the rest of the evening. I stayed until 1:00 AM and managed to catch up to my goal for Saturday, despite being so behind from day one on Friday. So I wrote around 4,000 words yesterday.

Throughout the entire day, I had my November Splurge Movie Score playing on loop.

Every November, in honor of NaNo, I let myself buy one new movie score to write/do homework/live life to. This year’s Splurge is the score from Ender’s Game, composed by Steve Jablonsky. (I mentioned I really liked the music, right?)

I love how it’s got all of the louder, more in-your-face sounds of your usual scifi/action movie score, but also the softer, more contemplative cello weaving throughout it all to tie everything together. It fits my NaNo this year very well. I’m glad Ender’s Game came out at such a perfect time for me to get my hands on this for writing this November.

Here’s a preview of the score:

I write a lot to movie scores, since they’re good for not only helping get me in the mood I need for writing particular scenes (sad scene equals sad music, etc) but also for blocking out the rest of the world around me. Because I live in a college dorm, I always have neighbors and hallmates and friends going about, living their lives all around me. And that can be really distracting when I’m trying to focus on something. So: movie scores.

As a novel progresses, I find that I always end up getting attached to listening to one particular score–sometimes even just one song from it, on repeat–while writing. It’s funny because the movie that score is from could have absolutely nothing to do with my actual project, but the sound just makes the words flow somehow.

Here’s a list of the movie scores I’ve listened to for various novels. I definitely suggest checking them out, because they’re all beautiful.


1. Petra’s Driving School + Inception

I’ve mentioned before that my incomplete novel Petra’s Driving School was the precursor to Cadence. I absolutely COULD NOT work on that project without Inception (composed by the one and only Hans Zimmer) playing in the background. The story very much had a sort of desperate, mind-twisty feel to it, so I think that’s why I latched onto Inception so much with it. (Also, I’d just like to mention: Inception is one of my favorite scores EVER. It’s such beautiful, complicated music.) (Inception is also my favorite movie, so that might also have something to do with it.)


2. [title redacted for cultural appropriation] + Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

You’d think my dream novel, which actually has something in common with Inception (dreams), would flow well with that score. Nope. I wrote most of this novel to the tune of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II by Alexandre Desplat.


3. Cadence + Titanic

Yeah, I really don’t know. I mean–Titanic (by James Horner) is a gorgeous, brilliant score. Another one of my favorites. But the music has Irish influences and incorporates the sounds of a ship (one of my favorite moments in the song above begins at around 6:03–when I listen to the violins in that part, it sounds exactly like what I think an icy cold shiver would). Cadence takes place almost entirely on land, no boats or icebergs in sight. But I guess just something about the starcrossed love story and the desperation imposed by feeling restricted by your lot in life appeals to me. Cadence has a teeny, tiny bit of those themes woven throughout it as well.


4. The End Where I Begin (first attempt) + Man of Steel

I really only ever listened to “Sent Here For a Reason” from Man of Steel (composed by Hans Zimmer) while working on the last version of my current NaNo novel, The End Where I Begin, during Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I’m not a big fan of the rest of the score, but that one song has such an inspiring, get-your-butt-to-work feel to it, so I’d play it on loop for hours at a time. It fit perfectly with the story I was trying to tell then. (Unfortunately, TEWIB just wasn’t working that way, so I had to abandon a lot of what I was doing with it in July and restart from scratch with the novel this month. It’s a much different story now. Hence Ender’s Game.)


So, those are some of the scores I’ve noveled to in the past. Other favorites include the scores from The Hunger Games, the Chronicles of Narnia movies, The Dark Knight trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man (whenever I got tired of Titanic with Cadence, I’d switch over to this one since it’s similar but just enough different to, you know, be different), Star Trek (2009), the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tron Legacy, the song “Aurora” by Hans Zimmer (I do homework a lot to this one–I know, I’m a terrible person), the cover of “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis by ThePianoGuys (that was another major dream novel song), and more recently the score from season one of Once Upon a Time.

Do you like to write to music? If so, what kinds? Do you like listening to score music? What are some of your favorites?

day 3

Off to work on the Spanish essay due this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it with enough time to actually write for a bit today!



Wordy Wednesday (“Cadence, Chapter 11”)

So this week I’m participating in this really cool three day event called The Great Write Off. You should go check it out when you get the chance, because it’s basically like a mini-NaNoWriMo sort of fundraiser sort of thing, and it’s awesome. (And speaking of NaNoWriMo, now that it’s October, the website’s launched for this season! YAAAY!)

Links to previous chapters of Cadence:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten



[Sorry this is no longer available–I’m editing Cadence now with the hopes of maybe, possibly publishing it someday. Thanks for the interest, though!]



See you on Friday!