5 Tips for CampNaNo Success

I DID IT!!!!!

Last night I reached 50,035 words for the month of July bringing my total word count for my novel up to just past 62,000 words. I started Camp NaNo with 12,000 words, and those 12,000 words took me four months to write. So, I am super excited and maybe a little proud of myself for hunkering down and getting out those 50,000 words in just one month! YAY!!!! My story isn’t finished, but I’ve got a basic skeleton to work from and flesh out. I’m excited about the story, and I have more confidence in who I am as a writer. I would definitely recommend Camp NaNo to writers, both new and experienced. You can always jack the word count up if 50,000 words isn’t as much of challenge to you.

So, how does a busy Momma find the time to get 50,000 words down in one month? It wasn’t easy, but here’s how I did it:

1. I had the support of my husband. I suppose you could tackle this sort of thing without the support of your significant other (or if you rock the single crowd, the support of your family and/or friends), but I wouldn’t recommend it. Really, I couldn’t have done this without my husband. He went solo many nights with the kiddos, and every Saturday. And when I still had 15,000 words with less than a week to go, he made me believe I could do it; he encouraged me and pushed me and enabled me. (I love that guy!)

2. I practiced writing when my kids were in the room. Before Camp NaNo, I couldn’t write with the kids in the room because they are 4 and 2, and in case you haven’t heard, very young children always have a lot to say, a lot of questions, and require pretty much constant attention (not to mention all the daily chores and meetings with friends and errands to run). But I knew that if I could knock out a couple hundred words here and there during the day when my kiddos were climbing on me and in between listening to their stories and for the five minutes they were coloring or playing nicely together, those words would bring me a little closer to my goal.

3. I developed more discipline as a writer. Even if I didn’t want to, I kept writing. Even if I wasn’t sure or I had that nagging from my Inner Editor to go back and fix something, I just kept writing. I made a note to the side of my document and I just kept writing my story. My goal was to get that beginning, middle and end, not to make the story perfect on the first go around.

4. I recognized and utilized the places where I could be most productive.  I went out to do most of my writing. For me, I am most productive when I am sitting in a coffee house or at subway with my ear-buds playing white noise and my chromebook out in front of me. That uninterrupted time of writing was essential to my success.

5. I recognized and utilized the times I could be most productive. I did my writing at home with the kids before lunch; that’s when I found my mind could do the most multitasking. And when I knew I would get to go out to write in the evening, I took a nap with my kids (something I don’t normally do). I knew that if I wanted to be productive in the evening, I couldn’t be tired, and I’m almost always tired in the evenings these days. I did what I had to do to make use of the times when my mind was at it’s sharpest, when I wouldn’t have to sit in front of the screen slamming my head on the table trying to figure out how to spell liqueur  or  spend twenty minutes coming up with a name for a minor character.

If you attempted CampNano, do you have any tips for success?! Did you reach your word count goal?

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Camp NaNoWriMo

So, I signed up for July’s CampNaNoWriMo this year. What is that, you may ask? It’s basically an insane attempt by authors all over to write 50,000 words in one month. It’s insane for me, at least. I only have 10 days left, and I’m only at 23,833 words. But I’m surprisingly happy with that. Would I like to hit 50,000 words in one month? Absolutely. I would throw myself a party if I did. I’m actually proud to say that, no matter what my word count at the end of this month, I will be content with my progress. In the past, I’ve set unrealistic goals and beat myself down for not obtaining them. This time, I went into CampNaNoWriMo not necessarily with a goal to hit 50,000 words, but to simply improve my writing discipline and advance my novel. I started with just over 12,000 words in the beginning of July; that 12,000 words took me months to get done. So, for me, even if I didn’t write one more word this month, 23,833 words in one month equals success.

Out of Commission!

So, obviously it’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been crazy around here! My son was admitted to the hospital and is STILL sick, though (thank God) he is at home. My daughter is also sick, though not as severely. I am also feeling like I’m coming down with the same thing. However, I have some exciting things planned for my blog. I’m hoping to get back to blogging regularly by Monday or so, but I will definitely be on more of a schedule beginning the 1st of August. So, wish me luck and any prayers for my poor sick family would be appreciated!

4 Steps to a Royal Princess Party

For more on my process and to learn how you might be able to customize your princess party to your child, check out my post: Top 12 Tips for Throwing an Awesome Birthday Party on a Budget.

The Royal Snack and Dessert Table

For snacks, I had a kind of tea party array of cucumber sandwiches, deli sandwiches shaped like crowns, rise crispy treats, pretzels and chips. The cucumber sandwiches were a big hit, and I bought the nice thick bread for all the sandwiches. The rice crispy treats were also a big hit, and super easy to make. The instructions are on the back on any Rice Crispy cereal box. I also had (of course) a princess themed cake, which I bought. Now, if you love making food and you want to go 100% homemade, have at it. I purposely chose to only make one homemade thing (cucumber sandwiches) because I find that adding on fancy food that takes a lot of time to prepare adds too much for me when it comes to birthday parties.

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The Royal Boutique

I put together a Royal Boutique for the girls. I draped pink cloth over our ottoman, pushed it up against a wall, and hung a mirror over it. I made each of the girls purple bags with their names, costume jewelry, and tutus. Each of the girls also made their own crowns out of a kit I bought at Hobby Lobby for $3. The girls actually decorated their crowns as people were arriving and I was putting the finishing touches on the Royal Food Table. After lunch, they all got dressed up. I had a few other Moms and friends help me, and we let each of the girls have pink lipstick, sparkly pink blush, and sparkly white eye shadow. It was SO much fun!

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The Royal Kiss the Frog Bean Bag Toss

I generally like to have at least one game at birthday parties. I found this idea here. I changed it up a bit, but it’s basically the same. Instead of a wooden frog, I had a friend trace the picture from the blog onto a big cardboard three panel presentation board. She helped me cut out the mouth, and then I painted it, put glitter on the crown, and made the kissing lips. In retrospect, the hot glue did not hold together like I would’ve wanted. Some of them had holes where the beans slipped through before the party was over. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have sewn it. The kids loved this game. They wanted to play it over and over.

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The Royal Gift Table

Not everyone does gifts for parties like this, but we generally do because we like to take our kids to get gifts for other kid’s parties. Anyway, I hung a sign above a table that I draped some fabric over and called it the “Royal Gift Table”. It was cute and fun.

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So, these were the four basic parts to my daughter’s Princess Party. Everything was done on a budget. You can find a way to make super fun parties for a lot less than pinterest or some other blogs will have you believe. I couldn’t believe (especially with the theme Princess) how much some parents spend on a small child’s birthday ($1,000s- no joke). The signs for each station I printed out myself. The fabric for the tutus was $1/yard at Wal-Mart. I got the bags for the Boutique for $1 each at the Dollar Tree. The most expensive thing was probably the cake, which I could’ve made, but decided for my sanity to go ahead and buy. So, if you want to throw your kid a big party, don’t feel like you can’t because of money or feel like you have to spend a ton of money to do it. My daughter gave me big hugs all day, and actually said…wait for it…this may have been a once in a lifetime thing…”Mommy, you are the best Mommy EVER!” And even though I know I’m not “the best mommy ever”- in that moment, I felt like the best Mommy for her.

My First Publications!

This last month, I have received copies of my first two publications! The first is a story called “No More Bernie”  in Well Versed 2013, an anthology put out by Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild showcasing writers and even photographers from all across the state. “No More Bernie” was initially inspired by the memory of sitting in the social security office when I first got married, wondering why people chose to change their names (besides the obvious reason of marriage). But as I was writing the story seven years after that experience it became more about how there are no easy solutions to life’s problems. Life is complicated, and we are always seeking to find that one thing that will make life easier, simpler, less painful. You can buy a copy of Well Versed 2013 on Amazon.

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My second publication is a children’s story in The Kid’s Ark. “The Right Call” came out of the magazine’s theme, Intelligence/Wisdom. I wanted to write a practical example of how kids can use the intelligence and wisdom God has given each of us to think and pray through situations where they might be tempted to break the rules or cave to peer pressure.

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All in all, I am really enjoying my pursuit of writing. More on that later, but for now, I think I will just be excited about my first bylines!

4th of July Forever Memories

Last night I went to bed feeling grateful and just down right in love with my family. Yesterday was a perfect day. My husband and I woke up to our kids singing a song about how Daddy didn’t have to go to work. We all just chilled out all morning, took it slow. It was relaxing. We packed a picnic lunch and headed to the park. The kids fell asleep on the way, so I got to spend some quality time talking with my husband and eating lunch with him. We woke Girlie Girl up when we were done with our lunch, and she got to learn how to ride her big girl bike for the first time. When Little Man woke up, the kids enjoyed their lunch. We headed back to our house and changed the kids into their swimsuits. There is a little spray park in our apartment complex, so we let them run around in the cool water for a while. Eventually, they asked Daddy to join them, and he did (with all his clothes on!).  Then, since Mommy didn’t want to get wet, Daddy thought it would be fun to pick me up and run me through the water while I screamed like a little girl. Girlie Girl thought that was funny, and Little Man melted my heart by running up to me, very concerned, asking, “Are you okay, Mommy? You need kisses?” After the spray park, we headed over to Wendy’s and the kids got frostys. We all came home, took a nap, and then Mommy got McDonald’s cheeseburgers for dinner (a treat for our kids). When dinner was done, we loaded back up in the van and headed downtown to watch the fireworks. It was the first time we’ve gone as a family, and the kids were awestruck and then just really excited. Little Man watched with eyes open, sitting on Mommy or Daddy’s lap, clapping and pointing and saying, “Oh, they’re so pretty!” and “That one looks like a crab (or a spider or a bug).” Girlie Girl danced in rhythm to the fireworks, “exploding” in dance, and at one point she got so excited she threw her hands up in the air and yelled, “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 AMERICA!!!!!” And after the kids were sound asleep in their beds, my husband carried up the t.v. to our bedroom and we cuddled and laughed together as we watched one of our favorite shows.

So, yes, yesterday was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Thank you, God, for blessing me with this family, who I can laugh with, play with, love and cherish.

DIY Customizable Bookends (for under $5!)

I have a bookshelf, but I wanted a pair of bookends for my table where I am keeping my school books and devotional material. These are the books I use most, and for convenience, I wanted them near my computer. So, I searched the internet for bookends. I was sorely disappointed in my options. For $6-$20 I could buy a variant of this:

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It could just be me, but those are ugly. Really, really ugly. Could be that I hate them because I worked in two libraries over the course of several years. Or it could be that they are just really ugly.

So, then I found a few in the $35-$50 range. I’m poor. I can’t spend that kind of dough on bookends. I thought, maybe I should take a look at Etsy. Nope. The affordable ones were cheesy or cross-stitched (no offense to those who love cross-stitch), and the nice hand carved wooden ones were $120.

Alrighty then, time to get crafty. This idea came from this blog; you can find numerous variant examples by way of search engine. Here is the finished product (which I LOVE):

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Okay, now for a step by step. Here are the materials you will need.

  1. 2 Bricks (I chose square ones, but the regular kind would work too and are even a bit cheaper. You can find bricks at your hardware store.)
  2. 3 Pieces of Card Stock Scrapbook Paper (1 as an extra, or as a backing, in which case, you wouldn’t need #3.)
  3. 1 Piece of Solid Matching Card Stock
  4. Gorilla Glue (That’s just the glue I had on hand that worked. I tried Krazy glue, but it wouldn’t stick. You need something that will glue paper to a porous surface.)
  5. Scissors
  6. Pen

Step One: Lay your piece of scrapbook paper on a flat, hard surface printed side down. Center your brick, front side down on top of the scrapbook paper.

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Step Two: Fold the left and right sides of the paper up and crease along the bottom edge of the brick. Do the same as you fold the paper over the top edge of the brick. This will give you a guideline and enable you to pre-fold the paper, which will give you a crisper finished product.

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Step Three: Now remove the brick and pre-fold the paper, making sure to fold the paper in a straight line. You can replace the brick after folding the bottom crease.

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Step Four: Now you will begin gluing the paper onto the brick as if you were wrapping a present. First glue the top right and left sides of the paper to the back of the brick. If you are using Gorilla Glue, be sure to read the directions. You have to dampen the surface of the brick, and then use very little glue because it will expand. If using Gorilla Glue, you will need to clamp down the glued portion for about 30 minutes for each step.

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Step Five: Fold the ends up like you would wrap a present,  and clamp it for another 30 minutes. I used a black piece of paper to put between the project and my books just in case a little glue creeped out from under the paper.

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Step Six: Carefully trace the back of the brick onto a matching piece of card stock or onto your extra scrapbook paper.

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Step Seven: Cut it out just a little bit smaller than your brick so the edges don’t stick out. Glue it to the back of your bookend.

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Step Eight: Enjoy your bookends!!!!

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