1. Bucket List: The Night of Writing Dangerously

    November 22, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Geek Events, Travel, Writing by Kristina Horner

    For 7 years now, I have dedicated my Novembers to pounding out novel after novel, fighting against the odds to prove that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. And for nearly as long, other Wrimos across the country have gathered in San Francisco for one night of that month to experience this challenge together, with food, drink, and merriment.

    When I started NaNoWriMo, I was in college. So not only was I writing an obscene amount of words in a month, I was doing it amidst homework! Amidst tests and class periods and my part time job! And each year I thought, “Maybe I’ll make it down to San Francisco this year,” but each year threw new obstacles in my way, and traveling for the sake of writing never fit into my crazy schedule.

    But on this, my eighth year of reckless novel abandon, my friend and writing cohort Liz and I decided THIS. This was our year.

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    I have many blog posts already about the road trip, so for this, let’s focus on the event itself. This is also my very first bucket list post! If you want to see the other things on my (still growing) bucket list, you can check that out here.

    Anyway, Liz and I got dressed up (the theme was Noir) and arrived at the ballroom via Lyft. Let me just tell you, this ballroom was gorgeous. It was located in the Merchant Exchange building right in the middle of the city, and the view was fabulous. There were tables everywhere, a little podium up front for speakers, and raffle prizes along the wall.

    The open bar had fun novelty drinks such as the Noveltini, Cosmonovelton and GimLit. The Noveltini was my favorite. There was also a candy bar, where writers could refill a little white bag with enough sugar as they would need to get them through the write-a-thon. Dinner was fabulous and consisted of too many delicious things for me to even remember, and of course, throughout the night, they also served us donut holes and had a late night milk & cookie bar. The food was by far one of the best parts of the evening.

    As far as activities went, sometimes it felt like there was almost too much to do! There was food to eat (as I mentioned), writers to mingle with, staff to meet, booze to drink, and a professional “author portrait” studio set up in back. Anyone attending the gala could get their photo snapped for use on our NaNo author pages, potential book jackets someday, who knows! That was a lot of fun. There were also timed writing sprints over the course of the night, as well as table wars, which encouraged the different tables of writers to get as many words written as they could so as not to let down your other table mates. It was a good motivator.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    Let me talk about the tables for a second. It was a beautiful sight. The people running this event clearly know what they’re doing, as every single table in that ballroom had a powerstrip beneath it for attendees to plug their laptops into. Just try and imagine a gorgeous banquet room filled with people dressed to the nines with their laptops in a circle around their fancy tables. It was a sight to behold; especially when laptops were favored over other items and no one knew where to put their plates, wine glasses or candy bags. It was a juggling act, but made for great conversation. And, as far as I know, nothing was spilled on anyone’s computer.

    After the food, another big highlight for me was getting to finally meet the people behind NaNoWriMo. This event has literally helped shape the last eight years of my life, and so much of that time was spent alone in my room, fingers poised above a laptop. Getting to not only meet and hug the people who created this crazy project, but to be in a room of 250 others who so completely understand what this project means to me was overwhelming. I might have gotten a little emotional.

    I first met Shelby Gibbs and Tim Kim back at LeakyCon this summer, and they are the ones who convinced Liz and I to make the trip to San Francisco for the event. It was so lovely to see them again, and to get to meet Chris Angotti, the Director of Programs, Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director, Tavia Stewart-Streit, the Deputy Director, and so many others! And everyone knew who I was! Writing that NaNoWriMo song was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they listen to it every year to get pumped to start writing. That meant more than anyone could ever imagine.

    I also got to announce the second table war, as well as saying who won when it was over. I had a blast, especially because it meant I got the microphone for a small amount of time. Of course I used that opportunity to ask for a show of hands for who pronounces it my way, “na-no-wree-mo”. I lost, overwhelmingly, but hey! There were at least twenty or so people who raised their hands!

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    Getting to attend this event was something Liz and I have only ever dreamed of doing. We both managed to write about 2,500 words over the course the evening, made friends with our tablemates, stuffed ourselves with food and drink and went home exhausted but so, so happy. The crazy long road trip we took to get there was completely worth it. I am extremely happy with my very first bucket list item, and if everything on that list is as fun as this first one, then I highly look forward to starting to cross them off over the rest of my life.

    There’s still 8 days left of NaNoWriMo! Who’s still in? How much would you like to be able to attend an event like this, dedicated solely to writing and to raising money to help empower others to write books? It was a dream come true, for me. Thanks for reading, and hopefully my next bucket list item won’t be too far off.

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  2. NaNo Thoughts #2

    November 13, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Nerd Topics, Travel, Writing by Kristina Horner

    I was so dedicated to not falling behind in word count on my trip to New York, but I came home exhausted and about 2,300 behind anyway. I was disappointed, but, by some crazy force of madness within me, I managed to write something like 6,000 words in 2 days and hit 20,000 right on time last night in an hour long word sprint I hosted on Twitter. It’s been a crazy couple of days, guys.

    And it’s only about to get crazier.

    I’m heading down to San Francisco tomorrow on a road trip to finally, finally attend the Night of Writing Dangerously, a party/write-a-thon for donors to the Office of Letters and Light. It’s a time to dress up fancy (I hear the theme is Noir) and raise a glass (and a pen) to the organization that tirelessly brings us NaNoWriMo, year after year. I couldn’t be more pumped.

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    I have always wanted to go, but it’s never been practical before to figure out a trip to San Francisco amidst the already crazy time-management of writing 50,000 words in a month. However, this summer I had the pleasure of meeting NaNo staff at LeakyCon, and combined with the perfect storm of also still having my Ford Fiesta, my main writing buddy Liz and I knew this year was the year. We’re taking turns driving (and, subsequently, writing) as we embark on the trip of a lifetime. What should I wear? I haven’t even started packing!!

    I’ve been running a funding page for the event I’d like to point you in the direction of – the amount you need to raise for the event is $250, but this program has done so much for me that I am really trying to raise double that. My goal is $500 and ultimately this project will be the video I make for the Project 4 Awesome this year, so I really would love if people could check it out. Donating to my page sends the money to the same place as if you donated it directly to the Office of Letters and Light. Helping them reach their funding goals ensures we have NaNoWriMo for years to come!

    On that note, who’s on track with 20,000 words today? How crazy is it that we’re nearly at the halfway point? This November is flying by, and I’m happy to report I am still enjoying my story this year. But then again, I haven’t hit the 30,000 blues yet…. that should happen right on schedule around the time of the Write-a-Thon this Sunday, so hopefully being in a room full of insane writers (I mean that in the kindest way possible; I’m one of them) will help drive me through that.

    Let me know your mid-month NaNo thoughts in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to report all of the fun goings-on at the event this weekend.

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  3. NaNo Thoughts #1

    November 5, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Writing by Kristina Horner

    If you’re following me on either one of my twitter accounts, I’m sure you’ve already gotten a general sense of how this National Novel Writing Month is going:

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    That twitter post was from a few days ago, when starting a 50,000 word writing marathon during a cold as well as 25 hours of gaming was a bit…. overwhelming for me.

    Now it’s Day 5 and I’ve just about caught up to where I am supposed to be. Today’s goal is 8,333 and I’m sitting at 7,122 with the intention of writing more tonight. It’s a good feeling.

    HOWEVER! Tomorrow I leave for New York for 5 days. I just never make it easy for myself.

    It’s going to be a trying month, but that’s honestly one of the things I love most about NaNoWriMo. Seeing these very obvious roadblocks in my path and figuring out how to crush them.

    The word sprints I’ve done so far have been extremely helpful and lots of people on twitter have been joining in! It’s so nice to see so many people participating. It really makes the whole thing so much more fun.

    This is just going to be a short blog post, but I’ll hopefully be updating from New York. Except fun outfit of the day posts and perhaps even a review or two of some Broadway shows! Can’t wait!

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  4. Why NaNoWriMo is Important to Me

    October 2, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Geek Events, Journal, Writing by Kristina Horner

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    This will be my eighth year participating in NaNoWriMo. I sort of can’t believe it. I remember so vividly how I found out about it and honestly, it feels like no time has passed… but in fact, seven novels worth of time have passed since that day (and here I am mentally preparing for number eight).

    I was at home in my bedroom at my parent’s house. This is really embarrassing to admit, but I had this “friend” on AIM that I had never spoken with, but kept her on my buddy list because I thought her away messages and buddy profile were funny. I don’t even entirely remember, but I think she was a fanfiction author I had admired but never worked up the courage to say hello to. It was 2005; I was 17 years old, give me a break. Around the time of November, her away messages starting referencing this project she was working on, something called NaNoWriMo. After a few days my curiosity got the best of me and I finally clicked the link.

    What I found on the other end quite literally changed my life.

    I wrote a lot of fanfiction in middle school and high school. I had always loved writing, and fanfiction seemed like the only way to get other people interested in reading your words. People love hearing about what new capers Harry, Ron and Hermione got themselves into – so I wrote my crappy fanfiction – and people read it. It was a beautiful thing. But as I got older, I didn’t just want to use other people’s characters. I tried my foray into fictionpress.com (fanfiction.net’s sister site for original works) and people just didn’t care. It was disheartening. It made me want to stop writing.

    But then I found NaNoWriMo. A site dedicated to encouraging writers to do what they were meant to do: WRITE. Constantly. For a whole month.

    I will preface this by saying that even after seven novel attempts, I still haven’t shared much of my work with any other living, breathing humans – but that wasn’t the point of NaNoWriMo for me. While I craved the comments and feedback on my fanfiction, NaNoWriMo made writing a whole new animal for me… rather than a solitary task I did alone in my bedroom against the protest of my mom who wanted me to come out and actually interact with people sometimes. Suddenly NaNoWriMo gave me not only a supportive community of other writers to talk with and gain encouragement from, but it managed to somehow turn my favorite lonely solo activity into a sport. One where people root for each other!

    It’s been such a positive force in my life, even when it means I am ignoring plans with friends, falling behind in TV shows, or working myself into a stupor. It’s the kind of exhaustion you earn after a job well done, and I look forward to it year after year. I learned that writing is much less about those immediate comments you receive on fanfiction.net, but about cultivating the skills required to take on such a gargantuan task on your own. About learning discipline, and powering through something even when it seems impossible, and how good it feels when inspiration truly hits.

    I recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who has ever had even the smalled nugget of an idea for a story in their brains. If you want to follow my progress in the coming months, here’s my profile. And if you’re at all interested in helping out the nonprofit behind this wonderful event, I’m raising money for their annual gala on my personal fundraising page here.

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