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I’ll post a true year in review later, but for now I wanted to post about my reading challenge. I challenged myself to read 50 books this year. I technically read 41. But this doesn’t count the drafts of my friends work (4) and the countless articles, stories, etc. I read. Nor does it count the writing I’ve done. I wrote and am nearly finished with a book. I have written over 30,000 words in short stories. I’m really proud of myself this year.

So yes, I may not have read the full 50 books, but I’m proud of my accomplishment none the less. And this is just my writing and reading, not counting how I moved across the world and dealt with sickness and drama and everything else, too.

For 2012 I plan to continue my exercise to stay healthy, want to try to stand up for myself more, want to worry about other people less, finish editing my current two finished novels and write and edit at least two more, read, make time for outside interests, travel, and enjoy every minute of my life. Last year I learned to try to focus on the positive. There’s so much you can’t control in life and focusing on what could be, or what was, instead of appreciating the moment and putting that first doesn’t help anyone or anything. Savor the moment. Find something to be happy about every day. And value those people in your life that you do care about.

All my hopes for a happy new year!

So I have to tell you all this hilarious story. Christmas is a big deal in Europe. All the food and wine and festivities abound. But there is something sinister about it over here. Something that makes children weep in terror.

Santa Clause.

Yes, Santa Clause or Papa Noel is an evil monster in France and Switzerland. You see little santas climbing maliciously over balcony railings and I was like WTF is this what he does when there is not a chimney? Hahahaha. No.

Santa is evil. He comes into your home to reward the good boys and girls with toys and candy. But if you were bad you face a horrible fate. You are kidnapped and taken to the north pole, trapped in time as your tiny kid self, to make toys for all the good girls and boys. No elves. No music. You are santa’s slave.

So when you are watching the Rudolph special about the misfit toys, the French people are all laughing. Haha! You want to be a dentist? Maybe you should have thought of that before you were bad. Nope you were bad, you are now a slave forever! Make those toys for all the good kids and think about what you did child slave. Now sing and wear a stupid costume and dream of the life you can never have again. Slave!

So I’m laughing pretty hard at the poor wannabe dentist and how kids here are terrified of Santa with good reason. I don’t want to be trapped on it’s a small world for all eternity either kids. Makes you rethink all the songs now, huh? He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. Santa Claus is coming to town.

Humbling

Roleplaying

Keeping stories fresh and authentic is sometimes hard for a writer, at least for me. I don’t always know how someone is going to respond and act. You can write up histories, do online quizzes in your character’s voice or mind, do lots of acting exercises to really understand your character, but sometimes it’s hard to capture the finer points of character and relationships if it’s all you. Some writers are very self-insert in that they write about what they know, or about themselves and people they know. Some writers, and this one is more me, have more of a multiple personality where the character is a full person almost inside their head. It’s hard to describe. But it’s like the character is a person you knew from some other time, a memory of a whole person in your head. Those are my favorite characters to write. People I feel like I know.

But even with those types of character, it’s sometimes hard to really feel the interactions. Finding a good roleplay group or partner is a great way to play out plots, situations, character development. The internet is littered with them. And as most writers suffer from the lovely disease of procrastination, you could easily spend hours “studying” your character this way. For me, it’s fun to bounce ideas off of people and have a support system from fellow writers this way. It’s fun, motivating, and inspiring.

How do you get in your character’s head? Are you a situational writer or someone who knows your characters like people? What do you do to keep your writing and stories fresh and authentic?

Fete De L’Escalade

Fete De L’Escalade is a festival in Geneva commemorating an attack on the city in 1600. A French militia in Saint Julien marched on Geneva in the middle of the night on the 11th of December. The townsfolk rang alarms and fought off the invaders, 2 people were killed by a woman who dropped a cauldron of boiling hot soup from the top of the bastion wall, burns killing one and the cauldron to the head killing the other. The invaders, cold and tired, after 2 hours went home and the city rejoiced. The festival commemorates this with a weekend long celebration. Friday and Saturday are events for the kids where they dress up and do a sort of trick or treating, going door to door singing songs and you give them spare change instead of candy. They also play games like egg fighting.

On Sunday, people dress up in their 1600s garb and walk through the streets re-enacting scenes from the battle and using ancient weaponry. They also hand out hot wine, vegetable soup, and giant cauldrons made of chocolate to celebrate the woman who killed 2 invaders. It was really cool. History looks back on this event as pivotal for the Reformation’s success in Europe. Geneva, home of John Calvin, was a stronghold for protestants. If they would have fallen, the entire face of Europe could have been changed with Catholicism reclaiming Protestant lands, which could have gone on to effect the freedom of religion in the New World. Really interesting stuff!

Videos from last weekend at the festival in Geneva.

http://youtu.be/ZAAM_z3L5HE – Marching Drummers

http://youtu.be/CrDgfObPkLM – Flute Players

http://youtu.be/V0kxEdWo4uw
– Horn players in the cathedral

http://youtu.be/XNdWIZPZbq0 – Muskets Firing

And pictures:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100354510769542.2535463.17107679&type=1&l=8f78894fce

Nanowrimo

So I haven’t posted about my nano experience here yet. I’ve been taking some recovery time! HA! My November was insane. My husband got the flu for ten days. I got the flu for 14 days. I got really sick again at the beginning of November. Then there was a big financial drama crisis with stolen identity and some family drama, too. It was an insane month! But I was determined to win. If you look up my writing chart on the site, it is the MOST effed up writing bar graph I’ve ever seen. I only wrote 8 days in November and I WON! WTH! That last day I wrote 13,800 words in one day. The thought of it makes me dizzy, but Scrivener at half price beckoned me forward. The best part of that last day, is I did it in 6 hours. I don’t even have words. Because I think my brain is still mashed potatoes.

What a story though! For some people, it’s about the winning, but for me Nano has always been about writing and community. It means everything to me to be encouraged to write and come together with others on the same journey. I’m really proud of what we all accomplished, whether you got the shiny winner plate or not.

I am working on finishing up the story and editing that one and another one to be submitted. I also have 2 additional series in the works and need to get those spit out sometime. So this year and next year will be a focus on writing. I’ve also written a total of 4 short stories ranging from 500-10,000 words throughout the month of November and today, NOT added into my novel word count above! I am impressed with myself, but more than that, I feel like I’m finally working wholeheartedly towards making my writing dream come true with a support system in place.

Greater

Two representations of wealth in a time we would look back at as poverty. Two representations of grandeur in two different settings. One high atop a hill in a prestigious city, a challenge against the Parisians. The other small, where the priest was probably the only one in the town who knew how to read. Where everyone came together to build something special for them. In their hearts and with their hands, more precious than even St. Peter’s or Avignon because of the sacrifice it took.

And I ask you, which of these is greater?