Tag Archives: NaNoBloCha July2018

July Camp NaNoWriMo 2018: Blog Challenge Complete

Dear readers, the July Camp NaNoWriMo 2018 has come to an end and with it, my self-imposed blog-a-day challenge. I have to say, when I first got the idea for this challenge it was about three days before the start of July. It seems like yesterday. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that I’d run out of ideas. However, thanks to a remarkable camp cabin and all of you, I’ve been able to persevere.

What I Learned During July Camp NaNoWriMo 2018

Above all, I learned that I am more than capable of writing over 50,000 words in a month. In fact, much like my high school years of running cross country, I find myself crossing the finish line thinking that I could have pushed myself harder. There were nights I came home from work and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of a computer screen, but I found a way. There were days that I could’ve gotten ahead by writing multiple blog spots in spare time, but I didn’t.

This month has proved to me the importance of the phrase “slow and steady wins the race.” Too often do I have the notion set in my head that I can sit down and dictate an entire novel’s rough draft in a weekend. While I’m sure it’s possible, it wouldn’t be the greatest to edit. There is something very satisfying about seeing that NaNoWriMo progress bar go up a little each day. (I’ve been trying to create my own spreadsheet in MS Excel to track my words off-season. Any suggestions are appreciated in the comments below!)

Overall, I had a blast this month and proved to myself that I am capable of accomplishing what I set my mind to. While it’s something that I’ve been aware of before, sometimes we all need a little reminding.

What’s Next?

While I do plan to regularly post on my blog, going forward I will no longer be posting every single day. I’m sure my subscribers will be thankful to give their inboxes a break! I do look forward to spending more time on my fiction and sharing pieces with my patrons.

At the end of August, my novel, In Articulo Mortis, will be released for Kindle and in paperback in September. I will be making a few promotional posts and sharing excerpts on my Patreon page. Other than that, I plan to continue travel and minimalism blog posts. I will also be accepting guest posts from other bloggers.

In addition, I’d like to start doing an “Author Spotlight” series. Perhaps once a month? Feel free to leave any suggestions or input in the comments below.

How Was Your July?

If you participated in July Camp NaNoWriMo 2018, how did it go for you? What did you learn from the experience? If you’re not a writer or didn’t participate, that’s OK! Please feel free to share your successes and stumbling blocks this month in the comments below!

Thanks for sticking with me!

-RB

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Dealing With a Day Job You Hate: Creating Castles from Carriers

Today I was sitting at my desk, staring out the window as rain pelted against it intermittently. Suddenly, a writing prompt came to mind! For almost seven years now I have held a day job in a place where I feel like a total outsider. Not only am I a female in a mostly male construction world but I’m also an artist in a world populated my engineers and others inclined towards mathematics. I held down a few others jobs before that, always knowing that this wasn’t the end result – that this wasn’t where I wanted to be.

Looking back at my childhood, I remember knowing even then that I was not meant for a typical 9-5 job. However, as time went on and I graduated from high school, I entered the work force to pay for clothes and college books, etc. One part of me wishes I had taken my writing more seriously back then but another part of me is glad that I waited for more life experience before sitting down to take part in the craft.

Using Creativity to Cope with the Day Job

Speaking with a friend at work about the rain that we’ve had on and off for the past two weeks (an unusually wet July), I mentioned, “I wonder if this is how people in England feel?” I’ve always wanted to visit England. I feel a strong pull towards both the location and the culture. It’s almost as though something inside of me is saying, “you belong over here!”

I went on to say, “I wouldn’t mind this weather so much if I had castles to stare at instead of carriers.” Outside of my office window I am greeted every day by a view of the USS Enterprise and the USS Gerald R. Ford. Constructed of rust and steel, my original thought was just how far from castles they really were. However, I began to think of how much they were similar to castles. And in some weird way this resulted in a means to cope.

Building Castles from Carriers

Though my job has become exponentially better since I first started working there, I often still feel imprisoned. Silly as it may sound, I started comparing my workplace to the “days-of-old.” This simple exercise in creativity might become a fun way to get through the tougher days.

After all, it isn’t a lie to say that I work inside of a gated fortress. The moat surrounding the fortress is represented by the druggies and criminals that peruse the area. We are constantly under attack by unseen forces (cyber-terrorism). And when you really look at them, how different are castles and carriers, really?

Letting the Imagination Roam

My new tactic for dealing with my day job is to pretend I’m really working for a fierce and righteous ruler. After all, both carriers and castles would have been built with blood, sweat and tears from the workers. I know I’ve given my fair share. They both take a long time to build and are constructed with the finest materials available. They both see battle, be under siege and be protected by legions of soldiers. I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

Sure. It sounds silly. But thinking I’m walking into a medieval adventure everyday is so much better than the soul-sucking alternative. Do you have a soul-sucking job? Or are you stuck in a day job where you feel you don’t belong? Feel stuck to a job because the pay is good? If you’ve got any fun and imaginative ideas on turning your day job into something fun, please share them below!

-RB

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

9 Writing Prompts to Jump-Start Creativity

With the end of Camp NaNoWriMo in sight, some have already reached their monthly goals while others are still reaching for the finish line. Don’t fret! It’s not too late to get some more words in, even if it’s not on your original project. After all, one of the main points of the NaNoWriMo challenges is to get you to write everyday. With that being said, here are 9 writing prompts to carry you through this last weekend and hopefully the finish line.

9 Writing Prompts

  1. Local townsfolk see a witch fly over the moon on a broomstick…literally.
  2. A loved one is reincarnated as their widow’s (or widower’s) house plant. Tell a story from their POV.
  3. Start a new scene by finishing this dialogue: “If we get this money…”
  4. A woman who has been missing for three weeks suddenly reappears with no memory of where she has been for that time.
  5. “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” Local teens wander onto a “vacant” lot.
  6. A woman receives a fortune telling her to be more daring, “Fortune favors the brave.” She takes the advice to heart and shows kindness to a man who breaks into her home. What happens next?
  7. Tell a story from a house’s POV or even just the stories from one room.
  8. “When her head hit the floor, it bounced slightly then came to a halt as her eyes stared blankly ahead. She wasn’t supposed to die. Not like that.”
  9. A person stumbles across a tombstone with their name on it…and perhaps their birth year.

I hope that some of these (at least one) will benefit you and help get the creative cogs turning in your brain. Sometimes when I read  writing prompts, I have new ideas. Did any of these stand out to you? If so, which ones? Did they spark any creative fires? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy writing!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Traveling Alone as a Female and on a Budget – My Solo Road Trip from Virginia to Maine

Almost five years ago to the day, I embarked on my first real road trip from Virginia to Maine. And I did it traveling alone. If anyone tells you that you can’t travel alone as a female, they’re wrong. It was a very liberating experience. At the time, I owned next to nothing and was living paycheck by paycheck. Do we live in a dangerous world? Yes. There is going to be danger wherever you go. There are dangers where you live now. As long as you have a good head on your shoulders, take proper precautions and use a little common sense, you can have a safe and successful trip.

In a previous post, I discussed travel safety tips. Here, I’m going to share with you my experience in traveling alone all those years ago when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Back then I had no credit cards (Smart, though I had applied for one through my bank before the trip…it arrived in the mail the day after I left. Probably for the best.) Being tight on budget, I didn’t even own a smart phone! Instead, I spent my nights in the hotel room planning my next day by looking up things to do on my laptop and programming addresses into my TomTom.

Leaving Southeastern Virginia

Though it wasn’t the first time I’d left home, I hadn’t done that much traveling in the past. Previously, my family had taken me on road trips to visit an older brother in Arkansas and New York. I had even been to Canada on one occasion, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and to Pennsylvania for a funeral. So it wasn’t that I hadn’t been out, it was that I hadn’t been out on my own for my own reasons.

I made everything up as I went with certain interests I knew I wanted to see. Mainly, the goal was to reach the state of Maine (no pun intended). I’m not sure what was pulling me towards the state but I felt compelled to go.

First, I traveled west towards the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once I reached the Natural Bridge Caverns, I toured them to stretch my legs, then continued up the scenic route of Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive

No pictures can ever fully capture the beauty of this place. If you ever have the chance to view the beauty of the mountains, the western part of Virginia and the state of West Virginia are the best places to view them in the east. With that being said, I will leave you with these:

This photo was actually taken years earlier at the top of Molly’s Knob. Every year my high school cross country team ventured to Hungry Mother State Park and Molly’s Knob was the final ascent. From the top you can see into 5 different states. It is part of the same mountain range.

The vast openness of the rolling hills and white, puffy clouds were peaceful and captivating.

Luray Caverns

After adventuring down Skyline Drive, I made my way towards the Luray Caverns. Far more vast and commercialized than the Natural Bridge Caverns, the rest at the northern tip of Skyline Drive. I was determined to get there before they closed for the day (Yes, so far this has only been one day…and a lot of driving).

Once again, pictures cannot do this place justice. If I ever go again, I vow to take none and instead, enjoy the beauty and splendor of seeing it with my own eyes. Sometimes when we go on trips we spend so much time taking pictures that we forget to take in the experience.

Some formations look like they were taken straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

I believe this formation was dubbed “Mammoth.”
Would you believe me if I told you that ha;f of this picture is a reflection? In some places, the water beneath is so still, that it’s almost impossible to tell while standing there, looking at it.
Can to tell where the water stops and starts? This is another reflection shot.

A Random Motel in Luray

After I left the caverns, I found a place to settle in for the night. Since I had been “winging” it, I hadn’t booked any place in advance. This was long before the days of being a Hilton Honors Club Member. I checked into the last room of a motel that was $50 a night. This night was one of the moments that I realized how spoiled and privileged I was during my childhood.

The room had no wi-fi, millions of dead beetles in the window sill and bug traps/poison hidden in corners and behind the furniture. I’m not even sure what kind of bug they were trying to kill and I didn’t want to find out. That night, I refused to shower or even undress at all. After sitting on the bed and having a good cry (realizing how naive I had been all my life and how easy I’d had it), I dead-bolted the door (yes, the motel had dead-bolts), I put the desk chair up against it and my heavy luggage on top of that.

I refused to leave anything on the floor because of bugs and for the same reason I slept on top of the covers, fully clothed and with the lights on. Exhausted, I didn’t even bother to watch the television. Instead, I was thankful to have a place to sleep even with the fear of bug infestations and possible intruders trying to break down my door. After all, I had seen enough horror films that took place in motels out in the middle of nowhere.

Crash Diet

Not that I’ve ever been large (I’ve never been more than a size 2), but I had a small belly before I started the trip. Yes, even size 2’s get bellies. Throughout the course of this trip, my diet consisted of yogurt, granola bars and water. Once a day I would try and stop for a plate of pasta or a slice of pizza (a far cry from our now seven-course meals at modern sushi joints in DC, thank you, honey!) If you’re ever looking to lose weight (I’m not a doctor so you probably shouldn’t listen to this), one week of eating like that made any pudge I had vanish almost overnight.

Heading Towards Vermont

I knew that it would still take me more than a day to get to Maine, even without stopping and sight-seeing anywhere. Since I didn’t have wi-fi the night before or a smart phone with any kind of data plan, I stuck to the road the next day and rove through Pennsylvania and the country-side of New York. By the time I reached Vermont, I was exhausted and determined to find a place to stay that had internet.

I found a quaint motel in Bennington, Vermont that charged $100 a night. It was well kept and I felt safe showering and sleeping in my pajamas unlike the night before. It’s amazing what small comforts can do. Having internet, I took the time to plan the rest of my trip to Maine and figure out what I would do once I got there.

The place I stayed in Vermont was just around the corner from a legendary haunted house as well as the cemetery where Robert Frost was buried. As a total taphophile, I couldn’t help but take pictures in the graveyard. And no, I don’t remember the name of the house but it is there!

Making to to Maine, “The Southern North”

Maine is often called “The Southern North” because the people there have southern hospitality despite being among the northern “yankee” states of New England. Up here there are no Cracker Barrels, lots of wine and jam is made from blueberries and you can buy lobster on just about every corner. I’d go back in a heart beat.

I ventured to the Botanical Gardens which were filled with plants and sculptures of all kinds. Inside, was an interactive map where visitors were encouraged to add their zip codes. There was one other visitor from my zip code…and I have yet to track them down and find them!

I was lucky enough to miss the rain but you can see the remnant of it darkening the letters of this stone. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Words to live by!
Three friendly Maine frogs, sharing a rock in one of the botanical garden’s ponds.
This was probably my favorite sculpture in the park, the porcupine. So creative!

Cellardoor Winery and Maine Desert

After leaving the gardens, I ventured out to the desert. Yes, there is a desert in Maine. Didn’t know that? Neither did I and it’s getting smaller and smaller each year so you might want to go see it while you can.

Headed towards the Cellardoor Winery located in Lincolnsville, ME, I was originally under the impression that it was named after a scene in The Lord of the Rings. In both the book and movie versions, there is a scene where the fellowship comes across a large door where they must “Speak ‘friend’ and enter.” While this is not the case, the actual story isn’t far from that.

According to the Cellardoor Winery Website, the story goes as follows:

A Symbol of Welcome and Friendship

As the story goes, a hobo, a traveler looking for work nearly 100 years ago, visited our farm in Lincolnville. He was welcomed. He felt safe. Upon his departure, he carved in the barn door a “hobo symbol” to let fellow travelers know they would find hospitality here.

All these years later, we have proudly embraced, are motivated by, this story and the spirit of welcome meant to be offered to guests. While the door with the fabled hand carving is treasured, we have adopted a current day artist’s interpretation of it as our logo. It is our inspiration to beat our guests’ expectations, to offer a respite from busy lives.

When you see our Hobo symbol, know that you are in a safe and friendly place. We invite you to our Cellardoor properties with open hearts, generosity, and camaraderie. Whether you join us for a tour of our winery, a wine tasting, a food and wine pairing, or one of our big events, we hope you enjoy your time with us.

A view from the balcony of the winery where I ate a late lunch.
A motto found along a lot of their merchandise.

Inside the Winery

While I didn’t see any offerings of tours, there were two tasting bars inside. At the time, they offered a free tasting of four wines at each bar on Sundays (which happened to be the day I was there!). You could pay a little extra to sample 8 wines at the first bar. The second bar featured meat and cheese accompaniments. It was well worth the trip!

Ogunquit Beach, Maine.

On my last night I stayed two nights in Bath, Maine before heading back south towards Ogunquit Beach. Staying my last night there, I found the only place I could with a vacancy, which happened to be within walking distance to the beach.

It was incredibly peaceful to walk along an uncrowded beach with low humidity in the middle of August. (Something you’d be hard-pressed to find in Southeastern Virginia.) It was my last moment of peace and solace before making the 13 hour drive back home to an area that I consider to be filled with toxic and close-minded people.

Arriving Home

When I got home, the excitement of my trip was quickly squashed and squandered by co-workers. You see, all of my jobs have been “male-dominated” and by that I mean that I was always in an environment where I was surrounded by men. When I would excitedly tell them about all the fun I had on my trip, I was often met with responses like, “You went alone!?” “You didn’t take your man with you?” (At the time I was either fresh out of a relationship or just starting a new one, can’t remember). “Why did you go by yourself? You should’ve taken your boyfriend.” “Women shouldn’t travel alone.” And the list goes on…

There’s also a lot of men out there who like to deny that men who would say such things exist. I started to fire back with my own questions. “Why do I have to have a man with me?” “Do you not think a woman can survive without a man?” “Yes, I went alone and I’m still alive. I wasn’t mugged, raped or kidnapped. So your point is?”

Take a Stand Against the “Norm”

While my parents didn’t speak against it, my aunt and older cousin were for some reason in awe of me. They think I’m cool because I  packed a bag and went to Maine on a whim. I never understood why, at least at the time, I didn’t. I see it now. My aunt and older cousin were from the same upbringing as I was, along with my mother.

My mother would often tell me growing up, “You don’t do that. You’re a woman and women don’t do that.” “Women don’t pump their own gas, that’s a man’s job.” “Women don’t take out the trash, that’s a man’s job.” And while all of that “was a man’s job” never once did she clarify what a women’s job was. She herself was big into microwave cooking and she never forced me to sew or learn any sort of “home-making” tasks. So what she really left me with was a blank slate.

Nothing was Specifically My Job

But that meant, I had to choose a path for myself and honestly, I enjoyed mowing the lawn. And I really didn’t mind pumping my own gas, much to her chagrin. My aunt and cousin thought I was awesome because I was woman willing to go against what she’d been taught by her upbringing. I continue to do this to this day which pisses some people off.

While the gender dynamics at my work place are changing, that is a big can of worms for an already long post. I have been asked on more that one occasion, “Why can’t you just do as your told?” “Why can’t you just fall in line and be like everyone else?” Because I’m not meant to be. It’s not in my nature.

I challenge anyone reading this, whether you’re a man or woman, it doesn’t matter, to challenge the status quo. Question why you do the things you do. Is it because someone else told you that’s what you’re supposed to do? Or is it because you want to do it?

Women, it’s OK to travel alone. Men, it’s OK to show emotion. Women, you don’t have to shrink yourself or blend in. Men, you don’t have to always make the plans. Be different. All of you 🙂

Thank you for reading!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Joining in on Writing Prompts: Organs

I’ve never been big on writing prompts but I suppose that is ignorant of me to say because I don’t think I’ve ever participated in one. During this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve been privileged to have other bloggers in my cabin. One of my cabin mates, Amelia, runs a blog called You Can Always Start Now, in which she often participates weekly writing prompts. Many of the prompts come from another author and blogger, Linda, on her blog Life in Progress.

This week’s writing prompt for “Stream of Consciousness Saturday” (#SoCS) focused on the topic of “organs.” Since I am a day behind already, I have read both of their responses and while both unique and interesting, my subconscious has led me down a third path. Here is what I wrote for the prompt:

Organs. The first thing that comes to mind is a book I’m reading about being a mortuary technician. Think of all the nasty stuff they have to take out. The book is called “Down Among the Dead Men” by Michelle Williams and I just finished a chapter where she wrote about being careful when slicing a body down the sternum because you don’t want to rupture the stomach and have all of that disgusting-ness spill out.

The second thought that comes to mind is Egyptian canopic jars. I love studying ancient cultures, especially ancient Egypt. They seemed so advanced and yet somehow, we lost all of that wisdom and technology. It baffles me as to how. It also baffles me as to why they thought that the lungs, intestines, stomach and liver were needed in the afterlife. At least those are the organs I think the jars were used to protect. Apparently digestion is important in the afterlife. Take note, mortals!

How about you, fellow mortal? Care to join in on a writing prompt?

Happy writing!

-RB

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.