Tag Archives: Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

NaNoRetro

First of all, I’d like to thank all my friends, family, and readers of Potato Chip Math for putting up with me this last month. If you’re not into writing it can be a bit much and I acknowledge that four or five straight blog posts and countless Facebook status updates may put a few of you off. Thanks for sticking around though and I promise things will get back to normal… starting tomorrow.

In case you didn’t know, I managed to “win” NaNoWriMo again this year, my third victory in a row!

So, yay me! Though that’s about all the celebrating I’ll allow mostly due to the fact that I’m freaking exhausted. I tackled the project in a slightly different way this year, in that I planned on writing a complete story – one with “THE END” written proudly at the bottom of the last page – rather than just writing 50,000 words towards a novel and having half of the story to be written, someday.

I thought I had it all figured out, I even had FIFTEEN bullet points written down with some key plot moments, names and short bios for my main characters, and all my locations mapped out right down to the “L” shape of the MC’s penthouse apartment (fancy schmancy!), the style and layout of the bank where he has a safety deposit box (ooooh intriguing!), and the location of the fax machine in the office where he shags his secretary (scandalous!). Even with all this prepared and ready to go by the time I went to bed on October 31 it was still a long, difficult journey to victory and I learned a few things along the way.

Days Off are Important (and Dangerous)

The plan was easy: write for twelve days and then take a day off. I had a workshop for a speakers event called Ignite! for which I am the speaker coordinator. I could not afford to take the day off prior to the event so that left me with no choice but to get ahead on my word count over the first dozen days and take a day off. 
It worked out wonderfully until I sat down to write on the 14th. By then it had been 44 hours since I had written anything and getting back on the horse was a challenge. I took two more days off in the month for various reasons (hockey game with my daughter on the 21st and the actual Ignite! event on the 26th and it was the same deal for the day after. I struggled to get words on the page. In every case I managed to at least keep pace with 1,667 words but I have a sneaky suspicion that those will be some of the first ones to hit the cutting room floor. It does bring me to my second lesson:

Just Keep Writing

I’ve said this before I’m sure, and countless others have said this before me, but the only way to get through the tough times is to just keep writing. Yes, you’ll have to lean on friends for support and you’ll be filled with self-doubt and worry, but that’s the deal. That’s what you signed up for, so suck it up buttercup and just keep writing. When in doubt, throw a curve ball at your MC. Think to yourself, “What would really fuck up his world right now?” or “Oh my god, wouldn’t it be terrible if…?” and then run with it. 

If You’re Going to Plan, then Plan Already

I thought I had prepared adequately. In past NaNos I never planned. I just started writing and kept doing the previous lesson until there were 50,000 words on the page. This time I had a plan, or at least I thought I did. It turns out I did not. My plan sucked. My plan was good for 15,000 or 20,000 words, tops. Next year I am either going  back to being a pantser or I am planning the living shit out of it. 
This year I ended up bloating my manuscript with who-knows-what to fill in the gaps that my sorry-ass planning left. Now, it’s not all bad. I did manage to dream up some pretty nifty character interactions that would not have come to light otherwise, but it was a real struggle. There’s a certain comfort in not knowing anything and having to make it all up as you go. There’s also comfort in knowing so many god damned things that the only thing left to do is write it down. Word of caution: the worst place to be is one where you think you know everything but actually don’t know squat.
A few other things I learned/noticed about this year’s event:
  • I felt better about my writing on days were I could get in 500 words after dinner and before the kids went to bed. I usually did this when they were eating their desserts or playing Minecraft. I planned these in based on the schedules for events (volleyball, play dates, my events, wife’s travel schedule, etc…). 
  • I made it rain on weekends, and starting NaNo on a weekend put me in a great position. I wrote almost double my target on every weekend (except this one, because I finished).
  • I kept a routine. I wan’t scrambling to squeeze words in before work, or at lunch at work (I keep my day job and my writing quite separate), or anything like that. I designated times when I could write, and then that’s when I wrote. 
  • I stopped writing most nights with enough time to watch an episode of Louie or Downton Abbey. Having 45-60 minutes before bed to wind down and enjoy some time watching TV with my wife really helped keep me sane. 
So there you have it. Another November come and gone and a brand new novel sitting in my “Writing” folder on my computer. Thanks again to everyone who helped me along especially my family (who is probably quite glad to have “normal” Andrew back) and those in my Writers Without Borders group on Facebook. 
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday blog posts about mostly writing but also about a tonne of other things. I’m thinking I’ll keep it light and silly next week. Maybe crowd source a topic. What do you think? 
What would YOU like me to write about next week? Submit a comment and I’ll see what I can do. 
~ Andrew.

The Big Reveal

Well the guesses are in and we have a winner!
 
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to have a read and congratulations to Stephanie Fuller for correctly picking out which one of these was a complete and total lie. Stephanie, just send me an email with the pictures you want (up to 10) from Andrew’s Alphabet and I’ll get them to you right away.
 
Of course, because I’m sneaky (or just a jerk – you decide) I’ve decided not to directly reveal which answer is bunk. Instead, I’ve made all the choices clickable and upon doing so, the choice will expand to reveal a brief story about the item. The false one will be appropriately labelled (and in red text).
 
Of course, if you want to just go back to the original post and check to see which one Stephanie picked you can do that too 🙂
 
Without further delay. Here are the facts (and one lie):
  1. I have scored a game winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  2. I have assisted Penn & Teller on stage with one of their tricks (Mofo the Psychic Gorilla)
  3. I have been paid as a freelance writer to provide original content to a video game
  4. I have had a 1 minute conversation and spoken five scripted words on a nationally broadcasted television show (US and Canada) 
    1. The episode aired more than once and I have been recognized by at least one complete stranger for this appearance
    2. It was 20 years before I saw it
  5. I have played, and won, hockey games on both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks in Lake Placid New York 
  6. I have had a 500 word anecdote selected for inclusion in a Darwin Awards book
    1. In the first printing (hard cover) they incorrectly spelled my name
  7. I have stood in the room where Winston Churchill was born
  8. One summer in Europe was spent working as a groundskeeper for a Canadian embassy
  9. I have had a 5000 word short story selected for inclusion (and soon to be published) in an anthology
  10. I have appeared as a street fighting bum in a rap music video
  11. I have eaten snake soup
  12. I was once qualified to instruct both flat water canoeing and small vessel sailing
  13. I once stayed awake for over 100 consecutive hours
  14. I have appeared in a TV commercial for a financial institution (singing & texting – but no talking)
  15. I have been a teacher’s assistant for English as a Second Language children (ages 6-10) with behavioural problems
    1. This job was a block away from the most crime riddled area of Canada’s largest city
  16. I have broken or cracked the following bones: toe beside the big one on the left foot, left foot, left ankle, left tibia, left arm (radius AND ulna), left pinky and middle fingers (separate breaks), several ribs, right ankle, right wrist, right pinky finger, nose, head (stiches), and brain (more than 4 concussions)
  17. I have driven my car to the publicized geographic longitudinal centre of Canada
  18. Last year of high school I did not take notes or use anything but a pencil to write assignments/tests in calculus.  I got 94%.  Last year of university I studied more for my Calculus 3 course than any other subject.  I got 51%
    1. In school, we covered in 3 lectures (9 hours) what took Isaac Newton over 20 years to uncover and write down (granted, he had other things going on).
~ Andrew
 

One of These Facts is Actually a Lie

Update:
You can go to The Big Reveal post to find out who our winner is. Congratulations and thanks to everyone for playing along.


I think this is a good time for you to get to know me a little bit. Though instead of doing a Q&A or blather on about myself I thought I’d do something different. Here are 18 main points and 5 sub-points that are all facts about me – except one.

To make it interesting I am asking you to guess which one of these is a complete lie. Until 23:59:59 on March 31st I will be accepting guesses, and if at that time I have 10 or more guesses I will reveal the lie and someone will win stuff!
First, the prize: 
  • (Up to) 10 digital downloads from Andrew’s Alphabet
    • Free for you to use however you want, as many times as you want (provided you do not resell them or use them for any commercial purposes). 
    • I will also include the story behind each image. One paragraph per picture about how I came to get the picture in my collection.
Next, the rules:
  • In the section below enter your email and other relevant information (it will NEVER be given out to anyone or seen by anyone but myself)
  • For your comment simply put down the number (and sub-number, if applicable) of the statement you think is FALSE (e.g. #4-2 or #7 or #18-1). Feel free to actually comment too!
  • You may only guess once
  • You may only pick one statement (i.e. if you select #4 you have picked that statement and not all the statements below it)
  • On April 1st if I have received at least 10 guesses…
    • …and one person has guessed correctly – I will award them the prize
    • …and more than one person guessed correctly – I will award the prize using a random draw including just the correct guessers
    • …and no one has guessed correctly – I will award the prize using a random draw including everyone who has guessed
  • Once the winner is declared they will have until April 15th to visit Andrew’s Alphabet and select up to 10 letters. I will send you an email and you can just reply with your choices and I will send you the images (Note: all images are suitable for printing in 4×6, many will print much larger)

Those who know me (or who have been paying attention) will know for certain some of the truths. Don’t spoil it for others! Just comment with your guess and see what some other people think 🙂

Without further delay. Here are the facts (and one lie):
  1. I have scored a game winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  2. I have assisted Penn & Teller on stage with one of their tricks (Mofo the Psychic Gorilla)
  3. I have been paid as a freelance writer to provide original content to a video game
  4. I have had a 1 minute conversation and spoken five scripted words on a nationally broadcasted television show (US and Canada) 
    1. The episode aired more than once and I have been recognized by at least one complete stranger for this appearance
    2. It was 20 years before I saw it
  5. I have played, and won, hockey games on both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks in Lake Placid New York 
  6. I have had a 500 word anecdote selected for inclusion in a Darwin Awards book
    1. In the first printing (hard cover) they incorrectly spelled my name
  7. I have stood in the room where Winston Churchill was born
  8. One summer in Europe was spent working as a groundskeeper for a Canadian embassy
  9. I have had a 5000 word short story selected for inclusion (and soon to be published) in an anthology
  10. I have appeared as a street fighting bum in a rap music video
  11. I have eaten snake soup
  12. I was once qualified to instruct both flat water canoeing and small vessel sailing
  13. I once stayed awake for over 100 consecutive hours
  14. I have appeared in a TV commercial for a financial institution (singing & texting – but no talking)
  15. I have been a teacher’s assistant for English as a Second Language children (ages 6-10) with behavioural problems
    1. This job was a block away from the most crime riddled area of Canada’s largest city
  16. I have broken or cracked the following bones: toe beside the big one on the left foot, left foot, left ankle, left tibia, left arm (radius AND ulna), left pinky and middle fingers (separate breaks), several ribs, right ankle, right wrist, right pinky finger, nose, head (stiches), and brain (more than 4 concussions)
  17. I have driven my car to the publicized geographic longitudinal center of Canada
  18. Last year of high school I did not take notes or use anything but a pencil to write assignments/tests in Calculus.  I got 94%.  Last year of university I studied more for my Calculus 3 course than any other subject.  I got 51%
    1. In school, we covered in 3 lectures (9 hours) what took Isaac Newton over 20 years to uncover and write down (granted, he had other things going on).

~ Andrew