Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Plotting in December

Usually, by the time December rolls around, I’m a bit brain dead creatively speaking and I take a month to recuperate from the crazy that was NaNoWriMo. And then there are some years where that doesn’t happen. I’m afraid this is one of those years.

It all started in a conversation where other people were thinking about how it is totally the done thing to kill the dragon at the end of the story because that’s what everyone expects in the story structure. And then I made the throw away comment: “What if the dragon gets killed on the very first page and the rest of the story is the fallout?”

And then that idea got stuck in my head. Because that very scenario invites all sorts of questions about the why and the how and the what next? If killing the dragon invites the fall of the world, why was the dragon killed? Did they know this would happen? And if so, were the heroes killing the dragon actually the villains and the villains actually the failed heroes? Am I going to make this a giant metaphor about destroying a whole ecosystem with the extinction of one species? Will the consequences just be the fading of magic from the world or will it be much, much worse? Is that “much much worse” really all that much worse than boring mundanity?

The sci-fi version of this story would probably be the fallout after the destruction of Godzilla. In the films, the monster is always defeated at the end. No one ever shows what happens after. Maybe nothing of interest, on a world-wide level, ever happens after, but I can’t believe that everyone lives happily ever after. Everyone’s got to deal with the psychological, as well as physical, destruction that the monster caused.

Maybe it will be more of a character study rather than a swashbuckling adventure. Who knows.

Anyways, all of this speculation means that I might even start (gasp!) plotting. And since I’m the sort of plotter who likes using timelines, I decided to download a trial of Aeon Timeline and play around with it the next couple of days to see how I like it.

2016 NaNoWriMo Statistics for San Diego

I finished compiling the summary NaNoWriMo statistics for the San Diego region today. The statistics that I do not have are the yearly trends since I was only ML for the region since 2014 and San Diego’s ranking against all the regions in the world. I assume the stats for the regional rankings will come out some time in January after NaNo HQ has their holiday break.

If anyone’s curious as to which California regions beat San Diego in terms of total word count, they were 1) Los Angeles, 2) East Bay, 3) San Francisco, and 4) Sacramento. Sacramento beat San Diego by less than 200,000 words even though they have almost 50 more active writers. So I think San Diego did pretty well.


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2016 NaNoWordSprints Statistics

Here they are, the statistics for @NaNoWordSprints for the curious. If there are any requests for particular stats, let me know in the comments. I may include them in my next analysis (probably next year).

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Yeah, I can’t win no matter what I do. Apparently I’ve disappointed some people for deciding to discontinue posting postcards on this site.  However, there’s still a chance for people to view the rest of the postcards I’m getting in the mail. You can request permission to view my private postcard site.

I will be extremely stingy on who I grant permission to. If you’re a person I know in real life, a long time blog commenter (i.e. over a year, have had other private correspondence with and/or seen in person), or a friend I’ve met through NaNoWriMo and Twitter, there’s probably an 80% chance you’ll get an invite if you request one. I will only grant permission to Postcrossers I’ve met in person.

For those of you who request an invite but don’t get one within a day or two, don’t worry too much about it. It’s not personal. I just want to keep the pitchforks to a minimum since I don’t really have the emotional spoons to deal with people freaking out over postcards. In the meantime, you can always view the postcards on this blog that are still available.

No More Postcards

This is an update post to say that I won’t be posting any more postcards on this blog.

Apparently some people are uncomfortable with me posting the backs of the cards, in particular, even though I’ve blacked out any identifying information. I suspect people are also unhappy with my commentary because I’m not the sort of person who gushes about stuff and I tend to be blunt and honest to a fault. Of course, this is my blog and theoretically and technically I should be able to post whatever I want. But people are people and they’re free to feel unhappy about what I’m doing even if all I’m doing are posting pictures of rainbows and unicorns.

I’m also a rather non-confrontational person so in an effort to forestall any further pitchforks aimed my way, I won’t be posting any more about postcards except when I talk about postcard swapping in general. The current postcard posts will remain up, although I am in the process of removing the offending images. (I can’t remove them all right at this minute because I’m at work, but if by next Monday, you find that I accidentally missed some, please let me know.)

Of course, I’m unhappy that other people are unhappy with me. I feel like I can’t really win. I was thinking that sending postcards would be my way of making other random people in the world happy outside of all the other crap going around. But apparently not.

If anyone has any suggestions for other hobbies that I might take up where there would be the minimum number of people getting angry at me, let me know in the comments below.

NaNoWordSprints Prompts for November 2016

Well, here they are. The prompts I tweeted out on @NaNoWordSprints during November. I’ve also been slowly compiling stats for the sprints, and I’ve calculated that all of these sprints cover over 100 hours of sprinting. If you decide to use these for your own sprints, have fun!


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November 3, 2016, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
The Solar System and mythology

  • Mercury – trickery (10 min)
  • Deimos – dread (20 min)
  • Eris – discord (30 min)
  • Neptune – water (10 min)
  • Iapetus – mortal wounds (20 min)

November 4, 2016, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)

  • Admiring the abomination (10 min)
  • Duel to the death (20 min)
  • Playing both sides (30 min)
  • Chasing the dream (10 min)
  • It’s going down (20 min)

November 5, 2016, 4:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
Dr. Suess

  • Ridiculous headgear (10 min)
  • Unusual food (20 min)
  • Hurting someone close to you (30 min)
  • Plight of the environment (10 min)
  • A conflict that leads to an arms race and mutual destruction (20 min)

November 6, 2016, 6:30am-8:00am (UTC-8)

  • Wild goose chase (10 min)
  • Stealing someone’s thunder (30 min)
  • Letting the cat out of the bag (10 min)
  • Biting off more than one can chew (15 min)

November 7, 2016, 6:00am-9:00am (UTC-8)
Master Plots

  • Pursuit (10 min)
  • Rescue (20 min)
  • Escape (30 min)
  • Rivalry (10 min)
  • Underdog (20 min)
  • Temptation (30 min)
  • Transformation (20 min)

November 8, 2016, 6:00am-9:00am (UTC-8)
Food idioms

  • Cool as a cucumber (10 min)
  • Easy as apple pie (20 min)
  • Bite off more than one can chew (30 min)
  • Flat as a pancake (10 min)
  • Eat one’s cake and have it too (20 min)
  • Stew in one’s own juices (30 min)
  • Walking on eggshells (20 min)

November 8, 2016, 8:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Quadruplets Part 1

  • Green, gravy, gratuitous, gravity (10 min)
  • Airy, adrenaline, acupuncture, annex (20 min)
  • Knoll, knell, knave, knife (30 min)
  • Pair, perfume, pretentious, portal (10 min)
  • Diligent, diminutive, direct, discretion (20 min)
  • Ice, incline, infinity, illusion (30 min)
  • Rummage, rapid, rain, receive (20 min)

November 9, 2016, 6:00am-9:00am (UTC-8)
Quadruplets Part 2

  • Griddlecake, groggy, grip, groan (10 min)
  • Photo, physics, place, poise (20 min)
  • Short, shirt, shrink, shift (30 min)
  • Half, hat, homemade, herculean (10 min)
  • Connection, concrete, congest, contaminate (20 min)
  • Orbit, open, oncoming, octagon (30 min)
  • Brush, bring, breech, brief (20 min)

November 9, 2016, 10:45am-2:00pm (UTC-8)
Quadruplets Part 3

  • Relative, regard, regal, renegade (10 min)
  • Cranberry, cucumber, cantaloupe, cheese (20 min)
  • Drink, drain, drum, drop (30 min)
  • Elegant, elevate, elicit, elan (20 min)
  • Vine, vision, vitreous, vitality (10 min)
  • Friend, front, frippery, fresh (30 min)
  • Jump, jiggle, jaunt, jive (10 min)
  • Hill, heat, hearing, hope (20 min)

November 10, 2016, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Postcard prompts

  • Relaxing at the beach (10 min)
  • Peering out a window (20 min)
  • Imaginary city (30 min)
  • An evening concert (10 min)
  • Chilling out (20 min)
  • Double/twins (30 min)
  • A friendly chat (20 min)

November 10, 2016, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Cat idioms

  • Play cat and mouse (10 min)
  • Put the cat among the pigeons (20 min)
  • Let the cat out of the bag (30 min)
  • Raining cats and dogs (10 min)

November 11, 2016, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Weather idioms

  • Snowed under (10 min)
  • Break the ice (20 min)
  • Calm before the storm (30 min)
  • Storm in a teacup (10 min)
  • Every cloud has a silver lining (20 min)

November 12, 2016, 8:15am-11:00am (UTC-8)
Character tropes

  • Seekers (10 min)
  • Wannabe (20 min)
  • Mentor (30 min)
  • Elder (10 min)
  • Con man (20 min)
  • Ensemble (30 min)
  • Trickster (20 min)

November 13, 2016, 11:00am-1:30pm (UTC-8)
Union Station Write-in

  • Train (10 min)
  • Station (20 min)
  • Arrivals (30 min)
  • Departures (10 min)
  • Tickets (20 min)
  • Announcements (30 min)

November 14, 2016, 8:00pm-2:00am (UTC-8)
Compound words

  • Slipstream (10 min)
  • Downtown (20 min)
  • Turncoat (30 min)
  • Copycat (10 min)
  • Firebrand (20 min)
  • Oddball (30 min)
  • Homebound (10 min)
  • Backdrop (30 min)
  • Greenhorn (30 min)
  • Moonlight (30 min)
  • Backbone (30 min)
  • Underground (30 min)

November 16, 2016, 7:45am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from November 2008

  • The queen of stone (10 min)
  • Living with the dead (20 min)
  • Dead ringer (30 min)
  • Almost perfect (10 min)
  • Unforgiven (20 min)
  • Sweet poison (30 min)
  • Beware (10 min)
  • Speed demon (20 min)
  • Master of torment (30 min)
  • Exposed (20 min)

November 16, 2016, 10:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Meow Sprints

  • Getting tangled up (10 min)
  • Pushing things off the ledge (20 min)
  • Claws out (10 min)

November 17, 2016, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from November 2009

  • The gift (10 min)
  • Skin deep (20 min)
  • The secret ingredient (30 min)
  • Full circle (10 min)
  • Untraceable (20 min)
  • Betrayal (30 min)
  • All the wrong moves (10 min)
  • Waiting in the shadows (20 min)
  • Kicking and screaming (30 min)
  • Temptation (5 min)

November 17, 2016, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Book titles from November 2010

  • Deadly intent (10 min)
  • Following magic (20 min)
  • The pursuit of pleasure (30 min)
  • Running blind (10 min)
  • Touch and go (20 min)

November 18, 2016, 6:15am-8:30am (UTC-8)
The Great Train Escape

  • Tracks (10 min)
  • Sunrise (20 min)
  • Staring out the window (30 min)
  • Full seats (10 min)
  • Strange passengers (20 min)
  • Arrival (10 min)

November 20, 2016, 7:30am-10:30am (UTC-8)
Mission sprints

  • My solution is worse than the problem (10 min)
  • We’re all in this together (20 min)
  • What are you looking at (30 min)
  • Everything must go (10 min)
  • Born and raised (20 min)
  • Imitation (30 min)
  • Destiny manifest (20 min)

November 20, 2016, 7:00pm-9:00pm (UTC-8)
NOWD sprints

  • Crowd (10 min)
  • Lord of the candy (15 min)
  • Bell and crown (30 min)
  • 50/50 (10 min)
  • Dapper gentleman (20 min)

November 21, 2016, 8:30am-10:00am (UTC-8)
Signs on Market Street

  • Pharmacy (10 min)
  • Skillet (20 min)
  • Except (30 min)
  • Golden (5 min)

November 21, 2016, 12:00pm-2:00pm (UTC-8)
SFO sprints

  • Expensive food (10 min)
  • Long lines (20 min)
  • Lots of waiting (30 min)
  • Too many bags (10 min)
  • Unheard announcements (20 min)

November 21, 2016, 7:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Random TV tropes

  • Abandoned warehouse (10 min)
  • Catch and return (20 min)
  • It’s personal (30 min)
  • Child prodigy (10 min)
  • Cannot tell fiction from reality (20 min)
  • Aggressive negotiations (30 min)
  • Opulent outfits (10 min)
  • All in a row (20 min)
  • Something completely different (30 min)
  • Out of focus (5 min)

November 22, 2016, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from October 2011

  • Tastes funny (10 min)
  • Cold glory (20 min)
  • Bound by blood (30 min)
  • Lucky break (10 min)
  • Beautiful chaos (20 min)
  • Slash and burn (30 min)
  • All that remains (25 min)

November 23, 2016, 8:45am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from July 2010

  • Resolutions (10 min)
  • Blindsided (20 min)
  • Swept away by a kiss (30 min)
  • Damage control (10 min)
  • Running scared (20 min)
  • A brush with death (30 min)
  • Bonds of justice (10 min)
  • Still missing (20 min)

November 23, 2016, 9:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Meow sprints, Part 2

  • Staring at nothing (10 min)
  • Attack mode (20 min)
  • Scratching it up (30 min)
  • Daring feats of ridiculousness (10 min)
  • Watching in the dark (20 min)

November 24, 2016, 2:30pm-7:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from January 2012

  • Stinky business (10 min)
  • Lucky penny (20 min)
  • No return (30 min)
  • Swords and ashes (10 min)
  • Love in a nutshell (20 min)
  • All that bleeds (30 min)
  • A place of secrets (10 min)
  • Shattered (20 min)
  • Dark victory (30 min)
  • Sinners and saints (10 min)
  • Tempted again (20 min)

November 24, 2016, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Pie/Cats/The Matrix Mashup

  • A six pack of beer and a box of Captain Crunch (10 min)
  • Phone booth (20 min)
  • The truth is out there (30 min)
  • Make a choice (10 min)
  • Training (20 min)

November 25, 2016, 10:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from February 2011

  • Backlash (10 min)
  • Rebel with a cause (20 min)
  • Murder among friends (30 min)
  • Learning to swim (10 min)
  • Sweet little lies (20 min)

November 25, 2016, 4:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from October 2011

  • Never come back (10 min)
  • Cold blooded (20 min)
  • Lost and found (30 min)
  • Perfect ruin (10 min)
  • Everything breaks (20 min)

November 25, 2016, 6:16pm-8:00pm (UTC-8)
The sprints account sprints (dating edition)

  • Boring conversationalists (5 min)
  • Deception (15 min)
  • Passing strange (30 min)
  • Out of your league (10 min)
  • Still searching (15 min)

November 26, 2016, 4:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from June 2013

  • A matter of life and death (10 min)
  • Secret vows (20 min)
  • Sweet revenge (30 min)
  • Darkness unmasked (10 min)
  • No easy way down (20 min)

November 27, 2016, 7:00am-10:00am (UTC-8)
Book titles from February 2014

  • Walking on air (10 min)
  • Melting the ice (20 min)
  • Atonement (30 min)
  • Close pursuit (10 min)
  • Never too late (20 min)
  • Under your skin (30 min)
  • The lure (20 min)

November 27, 2016, 8:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from September 2013

  • Chasing shadows (10 min)
  • The edge of normal (20 min)
  • The fallout (30 min)
  • Thin space (10 min)
  • Necessary lies (20 min)
  • Matters of doubt (30 min)
  • A beautiful truth (15 min)

November 28, 2016, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Nature – November 24, 2016 issue headlines

  • Life at the divide (10 min)
  • A call to serve (20 min)
  • Stand firm (30 min)
  • A source of hope (10 min)
  • Women who read the stars (20 min)
  • Ultrahigh and ultralow (30 min)

November 28, 2016, 9:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Book titles from May 2014

  • White heart of justice (10 min)
  • Giving in (20 min)
  • Banishing the dark (30 min)
  • The stranger you know (10 min)
  • It’s now or never (20 min)

November 29, 2016, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
Ship names from The Culture novels, Part 1

  • Nervous energy (10 min)
  • Profit margin (20 min)
  • No more Mr. Nice Guy (30 min)
  • Screw loose (10 min)
  • Of course I still love you (20 min)
  • So much for subtlety (30 min)
  • Limiting factor (20 min)

November 29, 2016, 9:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
Ship names from The Culture novels, Part 2

  • Unacceptable behavior (10 min)
  • Death and gravity (20 min)
  • Honest mistake (30 min)
  • Uninvited guest (10 min)
  • Furious purpose (20 min)

December 1, 2016, 12:00am-4:00am (UTC-8)
The Final Idioms

  • A bitter pill (20 min)
  • A dime a dozen (20 min)
  • Actions speak louder than words (30 min)
  • Add insult to injury (20 min)
  • At the drop of a hat (30 min)
  • Ball is in your court (20 min)
  • Barking up the wrong tree (20 min)
  • Best of both worlds (30 min)

Postcard #51 – Morning Star

Did I already mention that Mucha was one of my favorite illustrators? Well, here’s another one of my favorite postcards. It’s probably one of the reasons why I look forward to anything sent from the Czech Republic. They seem to have an endless supply of Mucha prints.


2016 NaNoWriMo Postcard Swap Statistics

Well, here they are. The statistics for this year’s NaNoWriMo postcard swap. Since I was the one who organized it and collected all the data, I suppose it was up to me to summarize the data for anyone who’s interested. There were a couple people who ended up dropping out, but not enough to skew the overall results.



Murals in Mission

Just some pictures I took while walking around in Mission when I was visiting San Francisco last weekend.

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The Great Train Escape 2016

Wow, long time no posts. Well, I hope to make up for it with some pictures to my recent trip to San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously, a write-a-thon put on by the good folks at National Novel Writing Month.

Getting there, of course, was half the fun. I organized “The Great Train Escape” which is basically a day long write-in on the train, specifically the Coast Starlight, as it goes up the Southern Californian coast from Los Angeles to Oakland. The logistics of organizing such a large write-in for a bunch of random people who I mostly knew through NaNoWriMo isn’t something that one can really do on the fly. After learning a lot from the previous year’s Great Train Escape, I began planning for this one probably about six months in advance.

During the train ride, I talked to and wrote with many interesting NaNoWriMo participants. And it reminded me of why I love NaNoWriMo so much. The participants are such a diverse group, but we all somehow get along so well because of our shared interests in writing.