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Drew this yesterday

Every day I’m NaNo-in’

It’s October 31, and you know what that means! It’s Halloween the day before National Novel-Writing Month!

The standard NaNoWriMo challenge is to write a (first draft) novel of at least 50,000 words, but a lot of writers adapt the structure to their own needs. Here’s where I’m at: after way too many months, I am finally finished building my revision strategy for my novel Crane Girl (which gives you some idea how absurdly complicated the book has gotten), and I am finally starting the actual revision of the text itself. Just in the past week, I mean. So the timing, while crazy, is perfect.

Here’s my NaNoReMo goal. I will revise (i.e., add to the new draft) 800 words per weekday, except for Thanksgiving week, when it’s 80 words per weekday due to vacation and family time.

17 × 800 + 5 × 80 = 14,000

So that’s 14,000 words for November. (The goal is to reach that overall total — the day-by-day numbers are just guidelines.) That seems like the right blend of ambitious and sane. We’ll see.

Oh, and um, y’know. Happy Halloween!

They’re actually gonna perform my Buffy play!

Remember back in 2016 when I rewrote/adapted the fifth-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “The Gift” in the style of a Shakespearean tragedy called Summers’ Fall?


Well, I wrote it and posted it online, and then I didn’t think much more about it. It was just a fun, weird personal project.

Fast-forward to August 30 this year, when I got an email from a guy in New Orleans who runs a group called the NonProphet Theatre Company (South Division). They wanted to perform my play at the InFringe Festival, as part of a larger program they’re calling “Shakespeare Teevee” — it also includes iambic-pentameter adaptations of an episode of Friends and an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Would I consider giving them permission?

This was a bit like asking a trick-or-treating kid if he’ll consider accepting some Halloween candy. After several hours seconds of deliberation, I said yes. I have emphatically never had one of my plays performed before. Also: “my plays” is a set consisting of one element, the aforementioned Buffy tragedy. So, yeah, I’m excited.

How excited? I’ve booked a flight to New Orleans to see it in person. So I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you think I can add this to my resume?

Joke of the week

Found this on Reddit yesterday: A guy complains to his waiter that they got his order wrong. He says, “Listen, I’ve had soup du jour before, and this is not soup du jour!”


Life is busy but good, per yuʒ. Hope you’re doing well.

The Crane Girl 20/20 pledge

I’m hereby making a pledge I call “20/20”: If and when I ever make any money on Crane Girl, I will donate all the money to Doctors Without Borders, up to the first $20,000. Then, I’ll donate 20% of anything after that, no matter the amount.

Now, just to be clear —

  • I’ve been working on this thing for years, and it’s still not finished yet.
  • When I do finish it, a publishing deal is far from certain (although if I can’t find a traditional publisher, I’ll consider self-publishing).
  • If I do get published, receiving $20,000 is awfully optimistic.

Still, I’m putting this out there now, mainly to hold myself accountable. It’s harder to change your mind, or forget, when other people know about it too.

Okay. Let’s see if I can get some revision done today!


Our church recently got a new pastor, and a few weeks ago, he gave a sermon on prayer that has become pretty much my favorite thing that anyone’s ever said on the subject.

He was talking about this passage from Matthew:

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. […] These twelve Jesus sent out …

–Matthew 9:35-10:5, NRSV

I don’t remember the exact words our pastor used to explain, but it went something like this:

Jesus saw there was a lot of work to do, so he told his disciples to pray for helpers. So they go pray: “God, please send us helpers, etc.” Then Jesus says: “Hey! GREAT NEWS! We got some helpers! It’s you guys! Go out and get busy!”

This, he says, should be Christians’ approach to prayer in general.

It’s easy to see a problem and just ask God to fix it. But if you care enough to pray earnestly for something, shouldn’t you also care enough to try to solve the problem yourself? He gave Hurricane Florence as an example. Sure, by all means, pray for the people in the hurricane’s path — and then donate to relief efforts, or find some other way to help. Of course this approach doesn’t apply in every single case, but generally there’s at least something you can do about any given problem, even if it’s small or indirect.

As an agnostic, I have my own reasons for loving the DIY prayer fulfillment strategy, but I think it’s great from a Christian point of view too. “Thoughts and prayers” are fine, but both should push us to action.

And now, whenever I hear about anyone praying for a problem to be solved, I just imagine God’s voice coming down from above:



I found somebody to help!


Authors and editors sometimes refer to the first sentence of a piece of writing as the “hook,” meaning that it should hook the audience, catch their interest with something surprising or intriguing, draw them in to read the rest.

Our pediatrician gave us a sheet titled “Toilet Training: Guidelines for Parents.” The first sentence is:

Bowel and bladder control is a necessary social skill.

Well. *steeples fingers* Go onnnn …

When is your voter registration deadline?

The website has a breakdown by state. Nearly all states put the deadline 30 days or less before Election Day (Nov. 6), so you most likely have until October 6 or thereabouts to get registered. Some states are more lenient. In North Dakota, you don’t register at all, you just vote; but, let’s face it, you probably don’t live in North Dakota.

You can register at

In not-unrelated news, I am reading a book called Why Nations Fail. The book is thick enough to stop a bullet, but the gist is pretty simple: nations succeed when the general public participates in decision-making, and they fail otherwise.

This concludes our PSA.

I dream of chyron

My dad was telling me recently that he had a dream about a strange word. (He knows his audience.) In the dream, the word seemed perfectly normal, but when he woke up, he realized it was unfamiliar, and wondered if his subconscious had invented it.

The word was chyron.

I was excited, because I actually knew that one! I said it was a real word, and it means the headline banner they show at the bottom of news shows:

Afterward I looked it up to confirm, and my memory was correct. I also learned how to say it: KYE-RON (it rhymes roughly with pylon).

This word was in the news (ha!) a year or two ago, part of the swirling clusterfudge that was the 2016 election. So maybe that’s where my dad’s subconscious picked it up.

What’s especially cool, though, is that in his dream, chyron had an entirely different definition: it was a feature on the surface of a cloud. I think that’s a much better meaning, and somehow appropriate to the aesthetic of the word.

So now I’m wondering — is there a word for the surface features of clouds? And if not, what would you call them, since chyron is already taken?

Personally, I’m thinking pufftures. But I could be swayed.

Why you need a copy editor