Monday, November 30, 2015

Why Evil Can't Win

post by Michelle Griep
Normally I'm not a creepy horror movie kind of gal. I love action/adventure with a healthy dose of romance thrown in. But this weekend I got sucked into watching a horror flick called Sinister. You would think with a title like that I'd have known better, but the premise hooked and reeled me in . . .

Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s.

Writer. Researching. Mystery. Hmm. It had potential . . . until the very end. This may or may not be a spoiler, so if you're going to watch this one, quit reading now. 

Still there? Oh yeah, I should also let those of you who are squeamish know that you don't need to panic -- I'll spare you the gory details. 

Now then, here's what riled me up: evil won. The hero did not escape. All was lost. There was absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. The wicked Satanic villain walked away the victor. Yeah, I know there are people out there who don't have a problem with that, but I do and here's why: that's a big, fat lie, folks.

And I hate being lied to.

Evil cannot win -- ever -- in story or in life because good killed it 2000 years ago on a cross. Evil has boundaries that are kept by God. Writers who cross that boundary by allowing evil to win are fundamentally shaking a fist in God's face.

But does having good win every time make stories too predictable? I'd argue not because every writer's voice is different. And good takes on many forms, too many to predict which outcome will end a story.

I'm still turning this whole idea around in my mind, so there will likely be a few more posts on this in the future. In the mean time, feel free to share any of your thoughts in the comment section, even if you disagree.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Dealios

Did you all gain the requisite five pounds yesterday? Yeah. I'm sure as heck wearing my fat pants today. But I'm not joining the crowds crammed into malls or duking it out in parking lots for a spot. In my neck of the woods, we do Plaid Friday. Which just means wear something plaid, shop local, and you'll get some sweet deals.

But for those of you who don't want to go to that effort, I've found a few cyber deals for you . . .

Amazon will give you 30% off a book.

Turns out Barnes and Noble will also. has some specials going on . . . and not just on books.

And if you really want to branch out from anything bookish because your money is burning a hole in your pocket and you just want to shop, shop, shop, then check out for all the deals pretty much anywhere.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Avoid Humans

post by Michelle Griep
It always surprises people when I label myself an introvert. But I am. Sure, I can paste on a smile and yuk it up for awhile, but I need me some alone time to recharge. Like lots of alone time. Like I turn into a raging axe murderer if I'm with too many people for too long of a time. Thankfully, I've never reached the manslaughter limit of my aversion to people because I discovered a magical website that I'd love to share with all the other loners out there.

Yeah, I know. Great name, right? Here's how it works. You click on the link and then allow the site to figure out where in the world you're located. Using that information, it draws from a real-time database (based on Instagram and Foursquare check-ins) to let you know which places in your area are currently housing the least amount of humans.

The information is broken down into four categories: food, coffee, nightlife and refuge. Coffee shops are the one I care about most because that's where I do the bulk of my writing. I don't mind a little noise, in fact I thrive on it. But if the shop is full and I can't even find a place to sit down, that's annoying. All I do is click on the site and it brings up other coffee shops for me to go with less humans.

You might want to copy this site down. With the holidays coming, finding a quiet corner is always a challenge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What it Feels Like to Finish a First Draft

post by Michelle Griep
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, 
like a long bout 
of some painful illness. 
One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

~ George Orwell

I did it. I typed "The End" on my latest great American novel. Want to know how I'm celebrating?

I'm not. 

Oh, don't get me wrong. I love slapping a lampshade on my head and kicking up my heels as much as the next person. But I don't feel like partying, and that's a little hard for a non-writer to understand. Nevertheless, I'll see if I can explain this in layman's terms . . .

Think about spending four solid months with two people that you've gotten to know inside and out. You know how they think, talk, act and react. You've been with them through tragedy and triumph, day in and day out. You've felt what they felt the entire time. They're part of you because, well, you created them.

Then blammo! With the typing of two little words, end of relationship. Goodbye to your imaginary friends. They are, in all essence, dead.

Would you feel like celebrating?

Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, because there is a certain amount of pride and accomplishment at finishing a book. I'm just saying that it's a bittersweet end. 

But after I send in the polished draft and I get my advance check in my hot little hand, then goodbye sentiment and hello little black dress and heels . . . because then I'll really be ready to party.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jesus Saves . . . Do You?

posted by Michelle Griep
I spent Saturday morning at a coffee shop pounding away at my novel. It's what dutiful writers do. Besides, they have some sweet doughnuts on Saturday mornings that are a-freaking-mazing.

So I'm typing along, la-de-da-de-dah, when blink, blink. Every word in my entire 97,000 word document turns into asterisks, like this: ************************* The whole manuscript. Every word. Not. Even. Kidding.

Let me tell you, that was some panic attack, especially when I found out that there's nothing you can do to recover any of it. Turns out there's a Word 2011 bug, and if you haven't updated in awhile, it can happen to you too. Once it hits, the document it attacks is completely unrecoverable. You can read more about it HERE.

The cure is prevention, and that's what today's post is about. So, attention all you Mac owners that use Word . . . UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE! This bug was fixed in the 14.1.2 update. Once you've updated, you don't have to worry about seeing those nasty asterisks filling your screen.

Fortunately, I had my document saved on another computer at home so all I lost was what I'd written that day. Still, 1,000 words is nothing to sneeze at . . . but it's also nothing to hyperventilate over, either. Word to the wise: take time to save your work. Back-ups are gold. Yes, Jesus saves. You should too.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Easiest Part of a Book to Write

post by Michelle Griep
I’m rounding third base and nearing home on my latest manuscript. Just five more scenes to write and voila. Finished rough draft. It’s been a trip, I tell ya. Lots of tears. Some blood. A canker sore or two. But bruised and battered, I shall prevail. Want to know what the easiest part to write was? 

You may think it was the Beginning.

But nope, you’d be wrong. Way too much pressure. An author has about ten seconds to grab the reader by the throat and yank his soul into his created story world. Who needs that kind of stress? Not me. Great beginnings are super hard to write

So it must be the middle that's a breeze to pen, right?

No way. It takes a skilled hand to keep the story moving forward in the middle of Sloggsville. This is the most dangerous part for a writer to create because he’s got to keep the action going . . . but not too much.

The climax. It’s got to be the climax then, eh?

Unh-unh. This is the pinnacle. The heights to which you’ve lugged your reader and are now about to throw him off the edge. That takes careful wordsmithery, my friends. Evoking strong emotion without making the reader want to overdose and end it all is freakishly difficult.

Aha! So the end is the easiest to write.

In a word, no, this is not an easy portion to write. Why? Because of the looming cloud of doubt shadowing every word. Did you tie up all the loose ends? Is this a satisfying finish? You suddenly wonder why your story is in a handbasket and where it’s going.

That leaves only one little part that never—ever—breaks a sweat on an author’s brow. The easiest part of a book to write is . . .  drum roll please . . . the author’s name.

Writing Trick #172

post by Michelle Griep
Readers are smart and they like a challenge, whether they'll admit to that or not. It's your job, little writer, to provide that challenge, which brings us to today's writerly trick . . .

Always keep your reader guessing.

Think of your story as a rousing game of hangman. Give your reader chances to guess letters, but don't reveal the entire word to them until the very end. Yeah, I hear ya . . . "Sheesh! Books are a collection of words. How the heck can you write a novel without revealing a word until the very end?! Are you crazy? On drugs? Been hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer?"

To which I respond with a resounding, "Uh, unbunch your undies there, Hoss. I'm talking allegory."

Webster says allegory means:
a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, 
typically a moral or political one.

And that's what you want to dish out one spoonful at a time to your reader so that by the end of your story they feel satisfied. Your writing needs to convey some kind of message, some takeaway value, without beating the reader's head to a bloody pulp with it. Let them figure it out. Don't be a big party pooper and go spoiling the surprise at the end.

Don't panic. You don't have to do this all in the first draft. This is something you can layer in later. Capture your story first. Often by the time you've penned the first sweeping saga, you'll discover exactly what your message is and will be able to go back and embellish.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Castle Contest

post by Michelle Griep
When you're a published author, sometimes life is all prancing unicorns and free dark chocolate mochas. And sometimes it's not. Like now . . . because I can't enter a dang sweet contest. But if you're not published yet, you can enter and possibly win A FREE WRITING IN A CASTLE EXPERIENCE! YES, I'M SHOUTING, EVEN THOUGH I CAN'T ENTER BECAUSE THIS IS SUCH A FREAKING AWESOME CONTEST!

Whew. Sorry. Got a little carried away there. Now then, here are the details.

What the Contest is
Some crazy writer dude and his wife decided to rent a castle in Europe next November for NaNoWriMo 2016. The giveaway is for a room for two guests for the entire month. The focus will be on writing but there will also be time for brainstorming, plotting, book marketing and publishing advice and a free book cover and formatting service.

Who the Contest is For
Writers who've been writing for a long time but haven't been able to finish anything worth publishing. Entrants must be able to get themselves to and from Europe (no airfare coverage) and have spending money for food. You also must be able to take a month off of your life.

They're hoping to rent out a whole castle and have an entire writing group. The giveaway ends on November 30th and winners will be announced on December 5th. Since I'm already published, I can't enter, but I'm sure happy to spread the word about this contest. Here's hoping one of my readers wins!

To enter, click HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3 Key Ingredients of a Great Writer

post by Michelle Griep
It's November. That means thousands of writers are pounding away at their keyboards this month, hoping their manuscript will become the next #1 NY Times Bestseller.

See what I have in my hand, kids? It's a pin. A sharp, pointy silver rod of death, and I'm stabbing balloon after balloon. Pop. Pop. Pop. Because the ugly truth is there's only one thing that makes for a great bestseller and that's a great writer. And there are three ingredients that go into all the greats. Look deep inside, little writer, and see if you have the makings or if you're short an egg or two . . .

3 Ingredients of a Great Writer

There's a fine line between knowing writing rules and being hog-tied by them. It takes courage to cross the line now and then and break those rules. That implies you must know what the "rules" are first, but at some point you need to let go and freefall into your writing. Take risks. Not care anymore if your story gets published. Write for the breath-stealing exhilaration of creation.

Great writers read. Excessively. And in all genres. There's something to be said for osmosis. Reading great writing tends to come out as great writing.

This is the ingredient everyone wants to skip, especially all the bright-eyed newbies out there who think their first manuscript is God's gift to mankind. It takes time to become a great writer. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Lots and lots of chocolate and weeping. Granted, the timeline isn't the same for all writers, but it's a rare genius who gallops out of the gate into novel stardom. Most pay their dues one year at a time, critique by critique, workshop by workshop. Slow down, little cowboy, and enjoy the ride.

If you're missing one of these ingredients, don't despair. Just work toward the one you need most. Stick with it, because there's a kingpin of all ingredients inside every great writer: perseverance.

Monday, November 16, 2015

History Lesson: Ballpoint Pens

post by Michelle Griep
Book Available at Amazon
Everyone's got their favorite writing utensil, and I'm not talking MacBook Air. I mean pens. My fave is a big bad boy Pilot G2 Pen. Writes like a dream. But I got to thinking . . . where the heck did this little gem come from? What's the history? When did we set down our quills and ink and pick up a ballpoint?

Pay attention, class, because today you're going to be educated.

John Loud, an American leather tanner, patented the original ballpoint in 1888. But he never did get around to developing it after he received his patent. And most of those who came after him failed at it too because they used ink that was too thin, which made for splotchy writing and stained shirt cuffs.

But then along came László Bíró, who worked with his brother György. They gave thicker ink a whirl, like the kind used in newspaper presses. Bingo! They had a winner. Yeah, it still left some blobby's but nothing as drastic as the previous disasters.

This all took awhile to get to market, though, because of one teensy-weensy problem . . . Nazis. The Bíró's had to run off to Argentina in 1943 to really kick production into gear. Later that year, the British Air Force needed a pen that could work at high altitudes and they ordered 30,000. After that, voila. Ballpoint pen fame.

In 1946, a ballpoint pen sold for about $10 (which is about $100 in today's market). Good old-fashioned competition drove down that price so that by 1959 you could buy one for 19 cents. 

And that's your history lesson in a nutshell. Interested in more detail? Snatch up the book over at Amazon.

Friday, November 13, 2015

How a Cover is Born

post by Michelle Griep
Cover for my next book due out
July 2016
Book covers are magical things. I have no idea how a book cover travels from concept to finished product. I'm certainly no artist, but I do have a big mouth. So I asked my editor over at Barbour exactly what the process is and she gave me permission to share the info with you . . .

1. One of the first things after starting the contracting process is that the publisher gets in touch with the author to ask for cover direction. This is important for a few reasons:
  • understanding the vision the author has for the cover
  • understanding the visual points that have potential to be compelling
At this point in the process, it’s very likely the editor has not read the full manuscript, so it's up to the author to get the ball rolling and set the tone.

2. Ten to twelve months prior to the release of the book, the creative director sends the author cover direction to a design house. Publishers usually work with several scattered across the country. That design house typically creates 3 or 4 comps that get reviewed by the creative director and editor and they choose their favorites. Usually that first round is shared with the author. Oftentimes these comps have placeholder models if a photo shoot is necessary. 

Side Note: In the case of my last release, Brentwood’s Ward, the cover was an interesting mix of stock photography and model shoot. The heroine and setting was a stock photo, and the hero was a model shoot for the head and the body was a stock photo.

3. After a concept is nailed down, the designers start showing the publisher options for models if a photo shoot is necessary. Sometimes the author is asked to weigh in on these options. This is always a little bit of a harried time because of scheduling models, securing wardrobe pieces, and making sure all the details are in place. Sometimes models become unavailable (for whatever reason) and a new option needs to be chosen. Same thing with wardrobe and/or specific props. Sometimes certain items or settings have to be avoided because it’s impossible to be historically accurate.

4. The designers take the shoot photos and execute the design and then send it to the creative director. There are usually a few tweaks and then it's used in sales training meetings, so that sales, marketing, and editorial are all seeing the same cover image. That’s about nine months out from release date. If the team has some huge objection to the cover, the creative director addresses that with the designers, and then that’s when the author would see it as a “final” cover. At that point, potential tweaks can still be made, but nothing major.

And that's a wrap, folks. As you can see by the art I've included in this post, the cover for my next book is already finished and my manuscript isn't even due in until December 1st. I know. Crazy, right?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Beyond Goodreads

post by Michelle Griep
How real do you like your fiction? Personally, I like to read authentic, gritty reality-fiction. I want to feel the characters' emotions as if they're mine. I want to taste and smell and live inside the skin of the hero and heroine. I want the author to rip out my heart, swing it around on a string until I laugh and cry and throw up, then set it gently back in with a light kiss. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently it is. Some readers don't feel the same way I do, and as a result, not all publishers will put out that kind of fiction. Okay, so most won't, leastwise in the Christian market. Is that good or bad?

Neither, actually. It just is, which makes it tricky for readers like me to find a book that satisfies. But never fear, little readers. Besides the mothership of them all, Goodreads, I've found several more sites to help you discover books no matter where you land on the gritty to fluffy spectrum . . .

Their motto is "So many books . . . so easy to find!"

An entire database that compares "like" books. Enter a book you like, and it will bring up a list of other books that are similar.

This is somewhat like What Should I Read Next but their stated goal is to "make discovering, buying and enjoying a book as simple as finding your next film or band."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Latest Book Rage

post by Michelle Griep
Want to know what the trendiest type of book will be this holiday season? Nope, not dystopian. Nopety-nope to thrillers or vampires or zombies. And a big unh-unh with a side of no-no sauce to epic Amish sagas. The latest craze is coloring books.

Yes, for adults. What's up with that?

Therapy. Most people color for stress release in this crazy town world. But there's also a certain amount of peer pressure going on as well. Folks have started pinning their finished masterpieces on Pinterest or snapping shots of them on Instagram, so now all the cool cats want in on the game. There's even a National Coloring Book Day in August.

These aren't your garden-variety coloring books you doodled in as a kid. Most are intricate, with themes like architecture or botany. Crayola recently put some out with geometric and kaleidoscope themes. Shoot, there's even a Game of Thrones coloring book coming out for Christmas.

Once you decide to purchase one of these books, you can color alone or invite buddies over to art with you. Either way, you'll destress and bring a little color into your life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

3 Reasons to Delete a Scene

post by Michelle Griep
Here's your permission to chop a questionable scene.
Sometimes you need to ditch a scene, and that's okay. Wait a minute. I see you walking away with that little attitude shake of your head, and I know what you're thinking.
"Girl, please. If I wrote it, I'm dang well going to keep it. Sheesh. That's like throwing away words. Don't you know writers are starving in China?"

To which I respond with a loud, juicy raspberry. Why? (Cue evil laughter) Have I got a handy dandy list for you.

3 Reasons to Delete a Scene

1. Your gut tells you to.
Ever have that sinking feeling when thinking of your current manuscript? Like you know something's not quite right? That something's out of character for a character? Listen to your instincts. Ax the part that's bugging you because your intuition is likely spot on.

2. Your critique partners and/or editor tells you to.
Just because a scene looks great in your head doesn't mean it can transfer over well to ink and paper. You, as the author, are sometimes too blind to see it. When others tell you a chunk of writing is either awkward, unnecessary, or confusing, instead of defending yourself, get rid of it.

3. You came up with a better idea.
Brilliant new ideas don't always happen, but when they do, hop on that pony and ride it into the ground, Hoss. Leave behind good for fantabulous.

Monday, November 9, 2015

4 Questions to Ask Yourself After You've Written a Scene

post by Michelle Griep
Sometimes you just gotta ask, "What the heck?"
Just because you've written a scene doesn't mean you can pack away your computer and grab yourself a brewskie. Guess what, little writer? Your work is NOT done. There are some questions that you need to ask yourself after each and every scene you write . . .

1. What was the conflict in this scene? 
Were the stakes dire enough?

If you can't identify a conflict in your scene, delete it. Yeah, that's harsh, but cut the fat and get to the lean mean story. No one wants to read about characters who don't have problems. Readers want to punch those kinds of characters in the head.

2. Was your POV character a force to be reckoned with or was he a piece of day-old toast?

If your character doesn't grab your reader by the throat and shake him around a bit, then he's meh. And you know what a meh character is? Death to the book. Spice it up, folks. Make your character interesting and active, someone who forces the plot to move forward, not the other way around.

3. Why did you care about this scene as an author? Were you bored with it? Why?

If the scene you just wrote doesn't interest you, it won't interest the reader. If this is the case, go back and lob a hand grenade into the scene. Throw in a unicorn. Rip out the heroine's heart and stomp on it. Do something that makes you care about the scene.

4. What will happen tomorrow when you sit back down to write? Where will the story go? And what will happen if the story doesn't go that way?

Sure, it's great to map out your story so you have a general guideline to follow. It's also great to know what you're planning to write next time you sit down. But now and then, go for uber great by mixing the plot up a bit. Take it in a direction you never intended for it to go. You don't have to keep what you write, but more than likely you will because it will excite you about a new direction.

Friday, November 6, 2015

5 Motivational Writer Hacks

post by Michelle Griep
The first week of NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close. Some have already crashed and burned in a fiery explosion of defeat. Others are limping along, hoping to make it but wondering if they've got what it takes. That's who this post is for. The dragging. The lame. Those with the sweet-mercy-I'm-going-to-fail demon screaming in their ears. Here's a lifeline for you. Grab on.


Play some music.
There's a reason movies have soundtracks. It's inspirational. Put some moving music on in the background while you write.

Shut off the internet. 
Facebook, Twitter, Drudge, YouTube . . . these are the giant, sucking leaches draining your creativity. Stop the madness. Shut off your WiFi connection.

Take a walk.
Staring at a screen for hours on end isn't healthy. Stretch your legs while you work out a plot point. Breathe in some fresh air when fleshing out a quirky character.

Question: who can think straight when careening through life on only a few hours of sleep?
Answer: no one

Psych yourself up.
Don't just walk away from the keyboard when you've finished today's word count. Think about tomorrow's. Rev yourself up about the next scene. If you're not excited to write it, your reader won't be excited to read it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Books at a Glance

I've often lamented, "So many books, so little time." My TBR pile isn't a little heap on a coffee table. It's a mountain. Like seriously. I need to hire a sherpa to help me scale it just to grab the top one off the stack -- and that's only after I've gotten acclimated to the lesser oxygen levels at each base camp.

Sorry. Got off track. Anyhoo, my point is how can you choose the next great book to read when there are so many to choose from? Never fear, little cowboy, have I found a site for you!

Books At A Glance is a site dedicated to publishing weekly book summaries. The reviews are written by pastors, university and seminary professors, theologians and authors whose stated ambition is "to equip and encourage the people of God in the faith."

Normally this service costs $9.97 a month, but you can try it out for 30 days for free. You'll get a new summary each week as they are published (and a summary is about 7 pages). So go ahead. Give it a whirl. And if you find a super great read, share it here at Writer Off the Leash. I'm always looking for new books. It's the sherpas that are hard to find.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Austen Lover App

post by Michelle Griep
"I do not want people to be very agreeable,
as it saves me the trouble
of liking them a great deal."

~ Jane Austen

Some people love Jane Austen's beautiful descriptions. Others adore her characters. Me? I love her snark. Oh quit wagging your finger at me you Austenite purist. Admit it. The girl had pluck.

But for whatever reason you may love Jane, have I found an app for you! The Jane Austen Centre has recently developed "The Jane Austen Daily Quote" app and it's available for both Apple and Android devices. Best of all, the price is right. Free.

It offers a different quote every day at a time of your choosing. You can wake with Jane or go to sleep with her on your mind. Your pick. The app also has other bells and whistles such as free articles from the Jane Austen Centre online magazine and access to the giftshop and Centre news.

If you know any Jane lovers out there, spread the word, folks.

When Writing Gets You Jailed

post by Michelle Griep
I'm an equal opportunity offender. If I haven't offended you yet, hang on. I'll get to you. Why am I such a hater? I'm not. I just open my brain and let the words pour out my fingertips onto the computer and sometimes that offends people. That's how a writer shares his voice with the world. Anything less comes off as stilted and cold. But thankfully I live in a country that still adheres to the first amendment. Not so in Iran.

Today we're roaming the neighborhood of injustice. Have you heard of Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi? I didn't think so. I hadn't either, but now that I have, I need to share their plight.

Fatemeh has been sentenced to 11 1/2 years in prison and Mehdi for 9 years simply for writing poetry that was deemed as "propaganda against the state" and for "insulting sanctities." I don't even know what that means, but dang, I'm pretty sure I've insulted lots of sanctities in my time, so I feel for them.

But time in the big house isn't their only punishment. They both get 99 lashes for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex who they weren't related to at literary events. Yep. Shaking hands. I shudder to think what would've happened had they actually hugged someone. Gasp.

What can be done about this travesty? PEN America is pulling together a letter/petition to send to the Ayahtollah. If you're interested in adding your John Hancock to the list, click HERE. And if signing petitions just isn't your thing, prayers would be appreciated on their behalf.

Monday, November 2, 2015

What Really Happens During NaNoWriMo

post by Michelle Griep
You no longer make nutritional food from scratch. Say hello to stupid filled-with-toxic-waste convenience foods. Eventually you skip the frozen pizza and go straight to desserts. The month ends with you curled in the fetal position in your underwear on the floor, covered in Hershey wrappers and empty bottles. You don't even drink . . . that you remember.

You will meet inadequacy. No, not with a stiff handshake. Throw your arms wide and embrace your new BFF. 29 of the 30 days you will feel like a shmuck because you didn't reach your bajillion word goal for the day.

You will soar on the wings of ecstasy and plummet to the pit of despair . . . every five minutes.

You can't quit your day job, so you stay up all hours typing like a fiend. Sleep is a sweet memory. Invest in some quality makeup, you're going to need it, even if you're a man. Go on. Run over to Macy's and whip out your credit card. I'll wait.

You will wonder who in the world came up with this particular form of torture? Was it the ancient Romans, perhaps? No. Aliens? Maybe. Much time will be wasted as you Google search this lead, which in turn leads you to YouTube, where you watch hours of cat videos and a few explosions, which leads to the dark side of cat explosion videos.

You will find camaraderie and solace in the arms of complete cyber strangers. At first it creeps you out because hey, isn't this how deadly viruses are spread? But as the days wear on, you don't care anymore, and end up inviting potential axe murderers who write slasher stories to your Thanksgiving meal.

This, all of this, is what really happens during the NaNoWriMo event. Don't say you weren't warned.

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