NaNoWriMo Winner!

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OH MY GOD

I committed… and somehow, someway, managed to actually knock out 50,000 words of a book last month.

It’s November 30th and, as you can see, I had a fairly consistent approach to the challenge, but the last two weeks were hard for me to get ahead of the curve. Life got in the way, I had a lot more projects to do at work, and I ran into a lot more writer’s block than I had anticipated.

 

winning nanowrimo snapshot

I didn’t start NaNoWriMo with a complete outline. I just had a basic story plot and a couple of subplots, so there are two major points in my story that I just kind of… winged it. For example, where I ended today I had written myself essentially out of a paper bag. I just kinda guessed and plodded my way through following my characters the whole time. I don’t like the chapter and know that I’m going to have to go through and rewrite it, but I at least have an idea of what needs to be accomplished.

I think this whole challenge has been eye opening and life changing. I am making this a life style change- writing daily really has been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a very long time. It’s creative, therapeutic, and personal. I can do it for me and, though I might not always be happy with the results, I’m happy I’ve taken the time to do something for myself. I don’t know about the rest of you, but being able to put time into a passion or hobby is kind of hard to find. NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square

If anyone is interested, I can run through and edit the first chapter/opening scene that I wrote and throw in a kind of synopsis for my NaNoWriMo story called The Lost Sailor.

It is certainly choppy and rough, but we’ve all put so much effort into writing this month that we deserve to share it 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you’ve all written and surf through the posts of excerpts and chapters.

 

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Dare to Pair: Vegan Thanksgiving

Dare to Pair: Vegan Thanksgiving

Hey, everyone!

It’s been quite some time since I had such an amazing food and wine pairing that just had to be shared, but this one I have for you today is truly inspirational.

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Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving!

I am not a picky eater, not in the least, but for a very long time I’ve had trouble with my diet (I am lactose intolerant and, while I struggled for a decade with it, I wasn’t able to pinpoint the problem until about four years ago). My stomach problems aren’t cured at all, but I’ve been gently climbing the rungs to an all-vegan diet. Besides my own health, I have chosen to do this for moral reasons as well, and though I don’t tout this to my peers, I’m quite proud of the decisions I’ve made.

 
That being said, choosing to persue a vegan life style has made it VERY interesting cooking for my boyfriend and celebrating special occasions with my loved ones. It seems like most people and most events revolve around meat-based and dairy-based dishes. Thanksgiving is absoLUTEly one of these holidays, and I decided to go all out and challenge myself with a meal that was vegan friendly.

 
image2Part of what appealed to me about this challenge is that food and wine pairings so often revolve around the meat in a dish. This is because they usually have such complimentary acids and flavors; ever have a nice spicy syrah with a steak au poivre? It’s like they were made for each other.

 
To prove to the world and all those who turn down their noses at meatless wine pairings wrong, I dug around and found what turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I (and my boyfriend) have ever had.

 
I found this recipe for a vegan “chicken” pot pie along with a rosemary and olive oil sweet potato recipe. I paired it with Charles Smith’s Eve Chardonnay, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so floored by my own… guesswork? Research?

 
I tweaked the recipe a bit, I used more of all the insides (carrots, “chicken” strips, peas, onions, garlic), and used whole wheat flour in the roux instead of chickpea flour. I’m sure the chickpea flour would still be good for those who want something gluten free, though. I also used a veggie bouillon cube in a half a cup of water instead of the not-chicken base.

 
I was surprised at how beautiful it looked when it came out of the oven, but I was even more astounded when we sat down to eat. I got multiple “this is amazing!”s and “I can’t believe this isn’t real chicken” (for real, I’m not lying!) from Jay, and he even asked me to cook it again for Thanksgiving this Thursday! When we tried it with the wine, we were just shocked. Eve is a MOSTLY stainless steel aged Chardonnay, so it didn’timage4 have any oakey overpowering flavor to it (it was fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 10 months in French oak, but it’s still really mellow… look at that color!). It is delicious on its own, it’s a bit florally with apple notes and creamy lemon flavors. It’s pairing with the food did not bring out it’s acidity, so it was perfectly mellow and flavorful as we ate. The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was that Charles Smith couldn’t guarantee that the wine wasn’t made with animal products (I guess it depends on the vintage), so next time I’ll look further into a wine before I pair it.

 
Overall, great recipe and pairing though. If you’re looking to start with pleasing pairings like this, something sort of easy but still difficult to find the perfect match, I would start here. And this is the perfect topper to a Thanksgiving meal- it seriously is mindblowingly good!

 
Have a very Happy and safe Thanksgiving, until next time!

 

 

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Bonus kitty and boyfriend food coma pic

Live,
Morgan Paige

A Collection of Thought Bubbles: Character, Style, or Conflict?

Thought Bubbles: Character, Style, or Conflict?

What is it that draws you into a story? Is it the way the words flow together, weaving a tapestry of imagined places and things? Is it the characters, their growth and learned altruism? Or is it the drive of the story, what keeps the scenes moving and gives the characters and story purpose?

I’ve come across this question more often than I thought I would, but it is a compelling introspective question for readers like us. It’s easy to say, “I loved the characters in this story,” but did you like the actual story? Were you drawn in by the character’s conflicts and problems? Some things stick out to us as readers more than others and they draw us back into these written worlds.

Some authors/critics actually try to argue that one is more important than the other. It’s true, you have to have conflict to have a book, but what kind of conflict does that mean? There are some books out there like The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison where the main character doesn’t have to fight some big bad guy (even though there are plenty of big bad guys in that story), but it revolves around internal conflict and societal acceptance. Does this count towards conflict?

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And as for characters, what if you don’t like the characters? Do they have to be likeable? Stories can be written with leading characters that have very unattractive traits, or they simply don’t connect with the reader. Can these types of protagonists actually lead a novel to success? In my (humble) opinion, you can see this in the novel The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. His main character Kvothe is widely regarded as a Mary Sue (a character whose world bends to its story line and has unrealistic traits and skills), but his novel is so beautifully written that the prose has been widely regarded as classic in taste.

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Or as for prose and style, can a simply unadventurous, unassuming novel with unlikely characters be worth reading? Can an author’s mastery of the human language and his/her ability to tell stories be the only reason worth trudging through an otherwise uninspiring story? As a fan of classic authors, some have taken stories with simple premises and elaborated on this simple world and turned it into an epic. This month I’ve read The Road by Cormac McCarthy as part of the monthly challenge, and he took such a simple, sad idea and turned it into a thought provoking novel through the simple stroke of a pen. The characters were unassuming, the story simple, but the style was out of this world.

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What is it that makes a novel for you? Is it so black-and-white that you can pick one but not the others?

This issue isn’t simple even though many try to make it so. Not every story can be told the same nor should they be told the same. The above novels are highly regarded for a reason and have touched many lives. I know that I’ve read novels that I didn’t enjoy that fell under a few of these categories: reading about unlikeable characters really strikes a negative cord with me, and having unrealistic conflict really sets off my bullshit alarm. If I smell a hint of weak writing, however, I immediately set the book down. I can’t read something where the author has no idea how to write dialogue or how to use a thesaurus.

If a story neglects any of these three, which one turns you off completely? Or are you able to work past the weakness and still appreciate the story for what it is?

I’m curious to hear what you all think in regards to this month’s Thought Bubble. Any books that you’ve read that particularly remind you of having one particular strength or weakness? Or all three even?

Until next time!

Live,
Morgan Paige

NaNoWriMo: Halfway to… the End?

Hello, everyone!

 
On Friday, I desperately wanted to write a blog detailing my experience with NaNoWriMo and to tell you all how happy I am to have hit the halfway mark! WOOT 25,000 word mark here we are!

 
I actually did write the blog post, but between the time it took me to write it and the time it took to find an appropriate graphic, I hit the brick wall that we have all come to know and hate: writer’s block. I have been doing so well up until last Friday, and this weekend I managed to undo all of the extra writing I’ve been putting in every day. My estimated finish date changed from early next week to December 1st, according to the lovely NaNoWriMo website, and I just felt so embarrassed that I let my work get away from me so quickly.
 

I was feeling under the weather (stomach issues rock…), which is entirely the reason why I didn’t write. And it made me think about just how fragile motivation can be when it comes to creative outlets. It’s like a faucet that can only run when the conditions are just right (or just wrong, in some people’s cases), and it absolute steamrolled me this past weekend.

 

However, I’m not going to let this huge setback affect my ultimate goal, because I know that this is not just a monthly challenge for me, but a life style change. I’ve felt so creatively fulfilled being able to get this story and these characters out of my head, I just need to balance the other aspects of my life that may come back and bite me in the butt if I’m not careful (I’ve also found it a bit hard to socialize this month… any of you feel this way, too?).
 

I see so many bloggers doing daily update posts and I commend you all! At the end of the month, I’ll give you all a real snapshot of the story and my expectations, and maybe we can all see what sort of magic we’ve  managed to come up with. I think I might even share some of the character sheets and outlines I’ve done if people are interested! My outlines are laughable right now, but sometimes it’s nice to see how other people prepare their stories 🙂

 

Until next time!

Live,
Morgan Paige

November Challenge: Eat to Your Heart’s Content

Hey, everybody!

With NaNoWriMo trucking along swimmingly, I’ve found it a little tough to post as often as I’d like. I have a few Dare to Pairs in the planning, because, come on, NaNoWriMo definitely calls for some alcohol and indulgence, and I also came up with a fun November Challenge! This obviously extends to the rest of you if you’re interested, or, at least, not of the faint of heart…

Clearly, the most popular and beloved holiday in November is Thanksgiving. Usually (unless you’re in New Hampshire like I am and it’s still 70 degrees out), it’s chilly and feels like fall outside. The leaves are changing and wood stoves make the air smell like home no matter where you are. It’s a wonderful, happy time full of good food, family, and friends, and I thought: why not put all these themes together?

Food and family/friends… a somewhat distorted take on consumerism and sustenance… and relationships…

By now, you should all realize I’m a glutton for horror and thriller stories. So I wanted to challenge myself and yourself, of course, to try to find books that can take the traditional themes of Thanksgiving and make it, well, horrifying. This months goal isn’t to analyze thanksgiving/traditions, I just find the human relationship with food to be quite fascinating as well as the difference between what kind of food is considered socially acceptable to eat and what isn’t (based on your culture, beliefs, religion, etc.). That’s why, I think it would be terrifyingly fitting to read the following books:

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

These are all books that are psychologically stimulating and have the running theme of cannibalism. I have seen the movie The Silence of the Lambs, and I just bought my brother The Road, but I think it’s about time I caught up to society and educated myself on these acclaimed novels. It’ll be a nice twist to the otherwise light-hearted holiday, and maybe you’ll find yourself as entertained as I know I will be.

I’m especially excited to read Lamb to the Slaughter, specifically because it was written by acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl. I feel like some authors can tackle multiple genres so beautifully, kind of like the author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. She got her start writing for the TV show Little Bear on Nick Jr., and I honestly would suggest her series as well for this Thanksgiving themed monthly challenge. It’s dark and entertaining, and paints a heartbreaking picture of how society has a very twisted relationship with food.

Let me know what you all think, maybe you have some suggestions that I may not have thought of? I am open to any genre, I love learning about different suggestions/themes. Or are you reading something totally different this month? I’d love to hear!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige