Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Cards, Anyone?

A few years ago, Mom started a new tradition of making Christmas cards for the entire family—even for the cousins we haven't seen in years. I get it, the personal touch is so much better than just sending an email (even though we call most of the family on Christmas morning too) but I'm beginning to think she's overestimated our craft skills.

One year, we made these Rudolph cards using our fingerprints.


They were fun—and easy!

Next up were these cards, which aren't quite as easy as you think. Mom dug out the ruler to make sure the ribbon was in THE EXACT MIDDLE of the card.


But, we got through it, and even Grandma said we made perfect little bows.  (She has to say that though—she's Grandma!)

I tried to convince my parents that we should just have our family photo taken—better yet, I would set up the camera and take the shot myself. But no...Mom isn't having it. She has a "thing" for penguins this year, so we're making these...


Cute, right? And also very very hard. I mean, we have to make TWO DOZEN of these cards...today. Mom has already dug out the craft supplies. Which means I need to start cutting and gluing and painting, oh my!

If you want to join my "pain" for the day, here's the tutorial on how to make the cards. Time to get crafting.

Gotta jet! See you next week.

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Tis The Season


For kindness.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that when you're jostling for position in a long line, trudging through snow or slipping across ice, or when you're scrounging for nickels to pay for that last Christmas present. The season of holiday lights, hot chocolate, and family gathered around the table can also be very stressful.

So this year—like last—I'm making a list...of ways I can spread a little kindness this season. Little things *I* can do to make it easier on someone else—my family, my friends, even strangers. The world needs kindness. And this year, I'm going to do my part.

Here are a few ideas I had:

  • Bake cookies (with Grandma) and drop a batch off at the local senior's home—or maybe the police station, fire station, or hospital. Retailers aren't the only ones working extra hard over the holiday season. 
  • Shovel the neighbour's walk—or for someone else on my street. The weather man says we're in for heavy snowfall this month. That's definitely one way I can help. 
  • Buy hot chocolate for the person behind me in the coffee shop line. 
  • Take my sister ice skating.
  • Help my neighbour put up his Christmas lights. Obviously I won't be climbing on the roof or any ladders, but I can arrange the light-up snowmen and deer on the lawn!
  • Smile! It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised what a genuine smile can do during this stressful time of year. 
  • Volunteer to wrap presents for local seniors or maybe the children's wing at the hospital. 
  • Leave a Christmas card for the mailman in the mail box. 
  • Pick up trash at a park and throw it in the garbage.
  • Donate some of extra toys, books, or clothes. 

That's not a bad list. Have things to add? Great—we can all brainstorm together and come up with the BEST list. Share your Random Acts of Holiday Kindness in the comments so we can keep the ideas coming.

Gotta Jet! I’m going to start on this list this weekend. See you next Friday!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 30 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 ~ The End!

I did it.

I. Did. It!

5,000 words in 30 days—my first ever successful NaNoWriMo challenge. My story about a friendly ghost and a young boy he makes friends with has a beginning, a middle, and an END. The end.

Oh I know that NaNoWriMo is technically about completing 50,000 words in 30 days (and when I get older, I'm totally going to try that), but 5,000 words is a BIG deal. You can look back at my journey this month starting here, but what really matters is that I finished.

And now, the real work begins.

I'm going to take a few days to celebrate my personal victory. I'll buy those books and a new notebook. And then, I'm going to start revisions on my story. It's not official, but I'm making December MY month to make this story shine...because in the New Year, I plan to publish. Somehow.

Even if you didn't hit your word count goal, congratulations—every word you wrote is more than you had before you started. Don't stop now. I don't plan to, and you shouldn't either. The only way to get better at writing—or anything—is to keep practicing.

I'll be back to my regular weekly blogs starting tomorrow....but today? Today I'm going celebrate.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you today...and always.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 29 ~ The End (Almost)

Eeep! I am 100 words from THE END of my story.

One hundred words from successfully completing my NaNoWriMo challenge. For the first time in the four years I've tried it.

It's not a perfect story. It has flaws. It will need a lot—a lot!—of work. But I am so excited about the finish line that I got up EXTRA early to carve out another 50 words so that I could focus on those last 100. Well, 98, because I fully intend to use THE END as my last two words.

Which means, it will be the final milestone celebration for this part of the challenge.

Throughout the month, I've celebrated each major accomplishment. I bought myself a new Spiderman comic. I spent an entire day reading when I should have been writing or running. And when I hit the 4,000-word mark, I indulged in a pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

So what will I do tomorrow?

GO TO THE BOOK STORE, of course! As a way of congratulating myself for completing my very first NaNoWriMo challenge, I am going to buy myself a new novel. Maybe two. And, I'm getting a new notebook.

And as if that wasn't enough, my mom says Grandma is making me my own chocolate zucchini loaf. Obviously I'll share (even though she makes the best chocolate zucchini loaf in the world), but it's just really cool that she thought of it!

What will you do to celebrate? Hey, if you want to share your story with me, I'll enter you in a draw to win a classroom (or personal) set of the Superman Duffy books.

Gotta jet! Good luck with those final words...

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,900

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 28 ~ Publishing Your Work

Hello, fellow scribers!

We are on the REAL homestretch now—just two days until NaNoWriMo officially ends, and I am feeling very optimistic that I can hit my target goal of 5,000 words in 30 days. But...then what?

Of course I know my story will need to go through revisions. Probably a few of them, and not just for spelling and grammar mistakes. I'll be looking for character development, and whether the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. I'll check my description and sentence structure. A major overhaul is probably required.

But once I do ALL OF THAT...then what?

I've been doing some research on publishing options for young people, and I came up with a few ideas I thought I'd share to keep you motivated. It's impressive—amazing!—even to finish a story, whether it's 5,000 or 50,000 words—but how cool would it be to publish that story? (Check out this list of published books that were written during NaNoWriMo—you've probably seen some of them at the book store or library!)

If you're entering this contest from CBC books, you won't have much time for editing—though, you only have to worry about the first page for now. There are probably other contests you can enter too. Try doing a Google search and see what comes up. Often, these contests have cash prizes, and who couldn't do with a little extra money?

Self publishing is also an option. For me, that might mean publishing my story on this blog. (Hey! If you want to publish YOUR short story on the blog, send it to me via email and I might run it here...maybe your whole class wrote a story together? That would be cool!)

You could also Google "publishing options for young people" or something similar. When I did, I found this list of magazines that take short stories from kids. There are probably many more.

I know, it's a little too soon to start thinking about publishing when your first draft isn't even finished. But for me, the idea that I could get published is what's powering me through the last 300 words. What is motivating you?

Gotta jet! May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,700


Monday, 27 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 27 ~ Monday Motivation

Three days.

That's it. We are literally on the final countdown of NaNoWriMo, and as of this morning, I have exactly 4,500 words. I'm on track to finish—but I'm looking at a very busy week in school.

So how will I—and maybe you—cross the finish line?

You just do.

I know that sounds too simple, but the truth is, I can't possibly come THIS far and give up. Not with 500 words to go. Not with an ending that's begging to be written. Milestones to be celebrated. A NaNoWriMo "I finished" badge to collect.

You can't give up either.

I love this quote from author William Faulkner.


For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer—but throughout November, I have been writing. In three more days, I'll have a finished short story. I will have written.

That might just be the motivation I need to carry me through to the end. What about you?

Gotta jet! May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Sunday, 26 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 26 ~ Thick Skin

Art is subjective.

Whether someone likes a painting, a poem, or even a sculpture is based on their personal opinion — and the most important thing I’ve learned is that you’re never going to make everyone happy. Take my short story, for example.

I read it to my sister last night, and she gripped the side of the couch at the scary parts, gasped when I thought she would, and even cried—and I'm not even done yet. But then I read the same story to my friend Sophie, and she wasn't as responsive. She said it wasn't scary enough, and when I teared up reading it aloud, she said I was "too soft."

At first, I was kind of upset. I've been working on this story for 25 days—which is a record for me—and of course I want everyone to love it. Not everyone will. In fact, I remember what one author once told me when she came to our school for a talk—when you start sharing your work with the public, you need to develop a thick skin.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have people read and edit your writing if you want to get better, but as long as the criticism is constructive (and not mean), then take advantage of the feedback to learn how you can improve.

Still, I know it’s hard seeing all of those “red edits” all over your writing. When I’m asked to give feedback on some writing, I use a green pen — green for growth. It looks a lot less harsh! Maybe give that a try?

Gotta jet! May the words be in your favour!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,400

Saturday, 25 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 25 ~ Novel Aesthetics

Happy Saturday, fellow scribers!

We have just five days left in this year's NaNoWriMo challenge, and I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty good about my chances of meeting my word count goal this year—I am already at 4,350! That leaves only 650 words, and 5 days to do it—just 130 words a day if I want to stretch it out. And I think I do...

Which means today, I have time to have a bit of fun with my story. I've been seeing a lot of people create "novel aesthetics" lately—basically, it's a Pinterest board of pictures that make you think of your story. Some people create these "inspiration boards" at the start of the process, and use the images to help with description. But I'm doing it now, especially since I'm almost at THE END.

THE END. It's going to be such a great feeling to type those words.

So, ready to see what I came up with? Click here.

While you're on my Pinterest, why not give me a follow? Throughout the year, I post pictures of everything from story starters and writing tips, to cool science experiments and craft (and food)  ideas for the holidays. But be careful—Pinterest can be a rabbit hole of distraction, and if you're like me, you've still got some writing to do!

Gotta jet! Have a great day of writing—and Pinteresting...

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,350

Friday, 24 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 24 ~ The Muddy Middle

Can you believe it? Just SIX days until the end of NaNoWriMo, and you know what? I think I'm going to actually do it this year. Five thousands words. Not perfect words, mind you, but that isn't the goal.

Speaking of not perfect, I can't help but notice that the middle of my story—the last 1,000 words or so—has felt a little "blah." I've been using great description, my characters are developed, and there is plenty of conflict throughout the story...but it still just kind of sags. And it's like quicksand, dragging my motivation down too.

I bet you think I'm going to dole out a bunch of tips and tricks for tackling that "muddy middle"—but the truth is, you (and by you, I mean me) probably just need a break. I definitely shouldn't be reading that section, not with the end in sight. But it's okay to step away from your journal or laptop for the day and spend some time thinking about how you're going to complete your story.

Don't focus on the middle. Focus on writing THE END.

Your entire project is going to need editing. Probably a rewrite of mass proportions. And that's okay...the object is to write a 5,000 (or 50,000) word story in a month. And guess what? You're ALMOST there.

So, back away from your work in progress for a few minutes, hours, even the whole day. And when you get back at it, don't even look at that "muddy middle." Power through to the end.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Word Count: 4,220 (!)

Thursday, 23 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 23 ~ Hooking The Reader

Since I'm caught up on my NaNoWriMo words (can you believe it?!), I plan to do some reading this weekend. But I'm looking for a new book—and every ime I go into a bookstore or library, I’m in awe of how many books are on the shelves—thousands of thousands of them. And that’s not even a fraction of the number of books published every year.

So, how do you choose which book to read?


My tactic is always to read the first page. If the author makes me want keep going, there’s a good chance I’ll buy the book or take it out from the library.

I know what I don’t like in the first few paragraphs—too much dialogue, too many characters, too much description and too much information. So what does make me turn the page? It got me thinking about my NaNoWriMo story, and so I did some research.

Here are three writing tips for HOOKING THE READER from the very first page:

Introduce with an intriguing character.
No matter what genre you’re writing—fantasy, science fiction, mystery, etc.—your story should begin with the character. Tell who he/she is in the first line, if you can, but for sure, by the end of the first page. Readers want to know whom they are investing time in.

Begin at a pivotal moment.
Start your story with something your character wants, whether it’s a glass of water or to cross a crumbling bridge. The situation should be unusual. After finishing the first page, your reader should wonder what happens next.

Create an interesting picture.
Describe the setting—but not too much. Your reader should get a sense of place, even by the end of the first page. Don’t just say the character is in “Alberta” — give one or two sentences that show where in Alberta. (Like on my grandpa's canola farm!)

Think about some of your favourite books. What is the first line? What was the last line of the first page? Why did you keep reading? Do you have a great first page for your NaNoWriMo story?

Gotta jet!

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Word Count: 3,900 <-- SO CLOSE TO 4,000 words!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 22 ~ Keep It Simple!

The writing process can seem very complicated. Creating characters, outlining a story, figuring out how it ends—it’s a lot of work! Even when you're working with just 5,000 words, like my ghost story for NaNoWriMo.

But when it comes to writing, at least when you’re just starting out, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is this: KEEP IT SIMPLE.

It sounds easy, but believe me, sometimes “simple” is anything but! You want to be able to get right to the point, which means you don’t need excessive adjectives and adverbs. The description, the action, and the plot should all “move the story forward.”

Here are three “Keep It Simple” hints:

Keep your list of characters short. Too many characters can be hard to keep track of. Last night, I cut back on one of mine because I couldn't fit him in the story without things getting complicated.

Keep your story to one plot. Too many side plots can confuse readers. This is especially true with  short stories!

Keep your personal goals manageable. Trying to write too much, too soon can be overwhelming. Promise yourself you will write “a little” every day, even if it’s just one sentence. Sure, your aim is for 167-ish words a day if you're doing NaNoWriMo, but after the challenge, don't stop—even if it is a few sentences at a time.

Gotta jet! YOU...get writing!

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Word Count: 3,674

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 21 ~ The Art of Description

It's true that I'm mostly focussing on getting the words down this month, but because I've been writing every day, and I'm on track (I can't believe I am!), I've also been trying to pay a little attention to my craft.

Yesterday, I wrote some pretty good description—which isn't always the easiest to do. Struggling? I researched a couple of tips. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to describe everything. You just want to paint a picture of the scene using a few key words. There are a couple of tricks to this.

DETAIL: Try and be specific, where possible. That’s what will bring the scene to life. Don’t just say the ground was littered with garbage. Tell the reader what the garbage is. For example: Crumpled paper, faded candy wrappers and rusted tin cans littered the ground. I bet you get a good sense of what the scene looks like just from that, right?

USE THE FIVE SENSES. Taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight—they're all important. You don’t have to use ALL of them in one scene, but it’s a good idea to use at least one. Don’t always rely on sight, though. That one’s easy.

Okay, let’s look at this description for a fall scene.

Mindy and Samuel crept through the dark forest. Their feet crackled on the dry leaves, as noisy as fire crackers in the otherwise quiet. Mindy rubbed her arms and shivered but she couldn’t decide if it was from the cool breeze that blew through the trees or the fear lodged in her throat.

So…what senses did I use? Can you pick out the specific details that make the paragraph come to life?

Gotta jet! May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 3,500 <-- I pushed those last 10 words to get this rounded number. Ha ha.

Monday, 20 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 20 ~ The Countdown Begins

This. Is. It. The home stretch.

You have just TEN days left to complete the National Novel Writing Month challenge—5,000 words in 30 days. (Unless you tried for the 50,000, in which case, I am in AWE of you!)

It’s tempting to give up. I mean, Christmas is around the corner and between holiday baking, putting up decorations, doing fun crafts with my sister, and—cough cough—drafting my annual wish list for Santa, it’s a BUSY time of year.

So, how do you keep your butt in the chair to keep writing? A few ideas from authors who would know:

Don’t edit! It’s tempting to look back at your words and want to perfect them—it’s a form of procrastination, especially when you read it back. But remember, the goal is not to write 5,000 perfect words—just get the words down.

Eat a good breakfast. Sounds silly, but if your brain isn’t fueled, you’ll find other things to do than write. No time to make a big meal? Don’t worry—a smoothie is perfect. (Add a teaspoon of canola oil for the healthy fat your brain needs!)

Stop being afraid. Look, I understand self-doubt. Most of the time, I think my words suck. But they don’t suck. And even if they did, who cares? Forget that fear of “what if it isn’t good?”—just…yeah you guessed it…write.

If you’ve stuck with me through November so far, GREAT! And even better if you’ve been writing. Want to share your story? Email it to me. If I publish it on my blog you could win the entire set of Superman Duffy educational graphic novels.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you on the home stretch.

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Word Count: 3,250

Sunday, 19 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 19 ~ To Cliché Or Not To Cliché

Okay, that’s not actually a serious question.

In fact, I’ve spent the last three weeks working on not writing clichés in my NaNoWriMo project (just 11 days of the challenge left!) You know, those familiar phrases that are used over and over and…

They’re the bane of every writer’s existence.

So today, I thought I’d give you a Top 10 list of the clichés you should avoid like the plague. (ha! See what I did there?) Just in case you're taking a break to review the words you've written so far... (I hit 3,000 yesterday!)

Take a look—how many of these clichés have you used in your manuscript?

  1. Dead as a door nail
  2. Low hanging fruit
  3. Faster than a speeding bullet
  4. The pot calling the kettle black
  5. Think outside the box
  6. Thick as thieves
  7. Plenty of fish in the sea
  8. Like a kid in a candy store
  9. Fish out of water
  10. Take a tiger by the tail

I've definitely used #1, #6, and #3... What’s your least favourite cliché? (Or favourite, if you prefer.) Comment below—I’m waiting on pins and needles to hear your answer. (Ha!)

Gotta jet! It's back to the writing cave for me! Happy scribing, fellow scribes!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 3,130

Saturday, 18 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 18 ~ A Writing Contest For Kids!

Guess what?! My grandma—who is really supportive of me writing—found something online today! A writing challenge for students in Grade 7-12. And okay, I can't enter, but YOU should. I mean, if you're in that age category.

The contest is sponsored by CBC Books, and the deadline is November 30 at 6 p.m ET (so, for those of you in Alberta, 4 p.m.)

But what if you're not done your NaNoWriMo project, you may ask? Not to worry! You only need the FIRST PAGE.

But er, there are some other rules, such as the topic.

CBC Books wants you to give readers a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2167. Yup, that's right—they're looking for the first page of a book set 150 years in the future. The idea is that your hero faces an issue that's topical today, but you predict how it will play out a century and a half later.


You can read the full details here.

I may not be able to enter, but I have the perfect idea to help you out—read "O," the final book in the Superman Duffy series of graphic novels.

The book is jam packed with stories about Canadian inventions and inventors, facts about our great country, and much more. If it doesn't inspire you, nothing will!

You can get a copy of "O" by contacting the Alberta Canola Producers' Commission. But hurry—that deadline is November 30, and if the next two weeks are anything like the first two, it's going to be a whirlwind.

Gotta jet—I've got words to write, and I hope you do too!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 2,950

Friday, 17 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 17 ~ Friday Feels

Happy Friday, fellow scribes!

Since it's the last school day of the week, and I'm settling in this weekend to crank out a bunch of words on my NaNoWriMo manuscript, I thought we could all use a bit of inspiration.

The second half of the challenge is notoriously more difficult, and I need—and maybe you need—as many pep talks as I can conjure up. Especially on the weekend when I don't have my teacher to talk to.

So who better to give advice than some of the best writers in the world? Scroll down for one enlightening words of wisdom. Who knows, some of these pictures might be worth printing off and pinning above your desk!









Which piece of advice resonates most with you? No surprise here, but I like what Stephen King has to say!

Gotta jet. Stay warm and happy—and may the words be ever in your favour!

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Word Count: 2,745

Thursday, 16 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 16 ~ Conflict, Conflict, Conflict

When I crossed the 2,500 word count mark yesterday, I took some time to read through my story—that was my "milestone reward." I know for NaNoWriMo you're just supposed to write as fast as you can, but in my opinion, there's no point if you feel like your story is going astray—at least not if you have time to fix it a little.

I'm glad I did! While I am quite proud of my characters, and I love where the story is heading, I realized yesterday that it's missing something vital: conflict.

Conflict, conflict, conflict. That's the crux of any story, regardless if it's 5,000 words, 50,000 words, or yes, even 5. (Hey, don't laugh, a very famous story by Ernest Hemingway was written using just 6 words!)

Conflict is the story's problem. It's what prevents—or delays—the character from reaching his or her goal. And the more conflict in the story, the more exciting it is for the reader. (And, if I'm being honest, the more exciting it is for the writer, too.)

So, what constitutes conflict?

Person-versus-person: This is the most popular, because conflicts between people are most fascinating to readers. For example, Superman versus Lex Luther. Or, in the case of my story, my protagonist versus the friendly-but-mischevious ghost.

Person-versus-himself: This is when a character has internal strengths and weaknesses, or a fight within themselves over good and bad. The Grinch from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is a good example of this—he hates Christmas, but he's not evil at heart. He's like that because someone hurt him.

Person-versus-nature: This usually involves natural disasters or survival skills, like in Lord of The Flies or Jurassic Park. In my story, I'm thinking about introducing a haunted house, which would put some obstacles in the way of my character's survival (not for real, of course, but it will seem that way at first.)

You can absolutely combine conflict types—such as I'm doing in my story now. But just remember, you want to include obstacles, but you should also understand how the conflict will be resolved. That's my next brainstorming—conflict resolution.

Do you have enough conflict in your story? Gotta jet—but keep writing. See you tomorrow!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 2,525

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 15 ~ We're Half Way There

Hello fellow NaNoWriMo writers! (And anyone else who follows my blog—*waves*)

Today officially marks the half-way part of the month, which means my word count should officially hit 2,500. Even though I didn't write any words yesterday (turns out creating my playlist was too much of a distraction), I'm confident I will hit that goal.

But what if you're not there? What if you haven't written a single word? Time to panic?

Not at all!

There are thousands of writers who have completed NaNoWriMo, even though they didn't start until the half way point of the challenge. I did that last year, and even though I didn't meet my word count goal, I loved coming up with the idea (brainstorming is fun), and it did kickstart a writing routine, which is the main goal.

Still looking for an idea? I've got you covered.

Did you know that there is an archive of writing prompts saved on this blog? No? You can check them out here. I found this link last night, which has 10 cute writing prompts that might inspire you. My Pinterest page with writing tips has a few story sparks you might want to take a look at. Or, you can re-read Gotta Jet, the second book in the Superman Duffy series of graphic novels, which ends in a cliffhanger—leaving the "rest of the story" up to you to imagine. (Hey, if you write that, send it to me! I'd love to publish it on my blog.)

You can also scroll through your family photograph albums (would one of your relatives make for a great character?), have a chat with your grandparents (I know mine love to tell tales), or flip through your cell phone or Instagram pics for inspiration.

What have I missed? Gotta jet—but I hope that even if you're just starting NaNoWriMo that I've given you food for thought. May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 2, 322

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 14 ~ Creating a Playlist

It snowed in my neighbourhood last night—quite a bit, actually. Which is why I got extra early this morning to shovel before school.

I don't mind shovelling, except that it cut into my writing time on my NaNoWriMo project. I didn't quite hit my word count goal yesterday and so was hoping to carve out a few minutes before breakfast. Plans thwarted.

But I did stumble across a writing tool I'd forgotten about! While shovelling, I listened to my iPod, and some of the songs really inspired me to keep moving. A few even had me thinking about my manuscript. And it occurred to me that for the first time, I hadn't created a writing playlist.

I'm definitely going to do that tonight—after my words are done, obviously.

For me, the best writing music is upbeat, but not something I can sing along to, because that's just a distraction. Since I'm writing a ghost story this time around, I think I'll songs that have a more haunting sound—like Zombie by The Cranberries.

Here, have a listen...



Helps that it's called Zombie—even though I'm writing about ghosts! At school today, I'm going to poll some of my friends to see what other songs I should add to my writing playlist. Do YOU have any suggestions? Does music inspire your muse?

Gotta jet!

Word Count: 2,322

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 13 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 13 ~ Be Kind

Hey everyone! *waves*

We're almost at the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo, and since today is World Kindness Day, I thought it an appropriate time to remind you (and me) to...be kind. To everyone else around you, yes, but also to yourself.

Look, writing isn't easy, and working to deadline—any deadline—can be stressful. I realized yesterday, as I was stretching for those last 20 words to meet my word count goals, that my palms started to sweat. My heart was beating faster (and it wasn't even a scary part) and no matter how fast I typed the words just wouldn't come...

I realized, I wasn't being kind to myself.

So I took a deep breath, stepped away from the computer, and gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that if I don't meet my word count for the day, the week, or even the challenge, I am not a failure. I've already written more this year than in the last two NaNoWriMo challenges before. And if my words aren't perfect, that's okay. They're not meant to be.

After reading a couple of pages of my new Superman comic—my reward for hitting the 2,000 word mark—I was able to settle back into routine. Twenty words might not sound like much, but when you're not being kind to yourself, it was daunting. Most things are if you're putting too much pressure on yourself.

So today, and everyday, be kind...not just to those around you. But to yourself.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 2,222

Sunday, 12 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 12 ~ Celebrating The Milestones

I broke this 2,000 words yesterday! They weren't easy words...much as I love writing, it doesn't come as naturally to me as I want all the time. But when I crossed the threshold of the most words I've written in a NaNoWriMo challenge, I breathed a giant sigh of relief.

Know why?

Because even though my GOAL is to write 5,000 words by the end of the month, I'm only accountable to myself. Sure, I'd love to hit the mark, and I think this year, I might. But yesterday represents a huge milestone for me—getting to 2,000 words. And THAT is as important to me, if not more, as hitting 5,000 words.

So, I celebrated. With a comic book.

Christmas is around the corner, and I've been saving my allowance and any money I get from bottles, birthdays, etc. for gifts, but yesterday, I splurged and bought myself the latest Superman. Best way to celebrate hitting 2,000 words ever!

Celebrating the milestones is important, whether you're doing a NaNoWriMo challenge, or simply pushing yourself to do something different, something out of your comfort zone. How are YOU celebrating the milestones?

Gotta jet! I have a comic to finish reading...and more words to write. Good luck with yours!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 2055

Saturday, 11 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 11 ~ Pausing To Remember

Like me, I'm sure you all took a moment to remember the soldiers who fought for Canada's freedom—my great grandfather was among them, and even though I never met him, I'm grateful for his sacrifice. 

As I stood with my family in silence, I thought about my great grandfather, and remembered all of the stories my Dad and Grandpa have told me about him. I guess he was a bit of a joker, someone who laughed at silly jokes. I've heard some of those jokes before, and they're kind of cheesy...but I still laugh every time.

Going back to those memories got me thinking about my NaNoWriMo project. In yesterday's post, I talked about creating characters—and if you used my template, you may have discovered something new about the stars of your story. But one thing that's missing from that template is a place to record some of your character's memories. 

Things that happen in our past are what make us who we are today. They don't define us—I do believe that everyone can change—but they remain a part of us. Those memories, good or bad, happened...and I think it's important to capture a few to really bring our characters to life. 

I'm settling in to write some words today (I'm going to hit the 2K mark!) but I'm also going back to my character sheet to fill in a couple of memories for my two main characters. One of them is a ghost...so that should be fun. <grin> 

Gotta jet! May the words be in your favour today.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 1885

Friday, 10 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 10 ~ Flushing Out Characters

Hey, everyone! *waves* We're heading into a long weekend, and you know what that means? ALL THE WRITING TIME. And I'll be honest, I'm going to need it. Despite my "inspiring" "get back to work" post yesterday, I crashed on my word count. By the time I finished dinner, dishes (my night), and then homework, I was ready for bed.

But I woke up this morning thinking about my characters. Kind of. What I realized is that I don't really know my characters yet—how can I when I'm focussed on WORDS vs planning. (I know, I should have tackled this before NaNoWriMo started, but...Halloween <grin>) I thought maybe some of you are struggling with character descriptions too—so I thought I'd share my character template. Here are the questions I have to answer for each main (and some supporting) characters:

Name:

Nickname and how he/she got it: For example, my nickname is Superman because I run fast—especially around the canola field on my grandparents' farm.

Family: Here, I include names of parents, as well as names and ages of any siblings.

Where does my character live? Remember, your character doesn't have to live in your city, country, or even your planet. In the Superman Duffy graphic novel IT'S A BLAST, Chase (aka: me) meets some alien farmers from three different planets.

Describe character in one sentence: You can include a physical description here (i.e.: colour of hair, height, etc) but you can also talk about your character's personality. Like, for my sister Amelia, I might say: Amelia is a precocious 6-year-old girl with a weird fascination with insects—she thinks she's an entomologist.

What is my character's favourite word? Catch phrases can tell a lot about a character. For my current story, one of my character's favourite words is BOOm! (He's a ghost and his expression BOOm! comes out when he thinks he's made a point. Ie: And just like that, I've proven that ghosts aren't scary. BOOm!

What makes my character happy? Take Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Chewing gum makes her happy...well, until it doesn't. <grin>

What makes my character special or unique? This is an important one, and where you should spend the most amount of thought. It's the reason your character will stand out. Why will your character stand out? Casper the friendly ghost, for instance, is unique because he is a friendly ghost.

What super power would my character wish for and how would he/she use it? Obviously, I'd wish for super speed—so I could beat my arch nemesis on the track in every race. I bet Gordon "Lightning" Smith would wish for the same.

What was my character doing before the story started? You don't have to spend too much time here, but I find that taking the character back to the day, week, or even hour before the story starts helps you to understand WHERE the story starts—and what the catalyst for the story is.

Obviously I'm just scratching the surface here, but the questions are meant to spark your imagination. Remember, characters should be unique, have both strengths and weaknesses, and be three dimensional—no cardboard cut-outs!

Gotta jet! I'm hunkering down for a weekend of writing and reading. But don't worry, I'll be keeping up my NaNoWriMo posts! May the words be with you...

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 9 ~ Getting Back In The Groove

Yesterday, I suggested you take a break from your writing by doing some reading, and I stand behind that suggestion (I cranked out 180 words yesterday so that I can read this weekend) but I also know how hard it can be to get back in the groove.

Don't worry! I've got you covered.

I dug up some quick writing assignments that are guaranteed to fire up your creativity. Don't spend too long on them, though, because obviously, you should be writing your NaNoWriMo stories, but here are a few ideas for warm up:

Imagine you are living in the time of the dinosaurs and a pterodactyl is trying to dive-bomb you. Look out! Describe the scene in a short paragraph using lots of adjectives (words that describe nouns.)

OR

You are cordially invited to write your own fairy tale invitation. Maybe it's to Cinderella, inviting her to the ball. Or maybe, you're inviting the Big Bad Wolf to a dinner party. Remember to write the date, time and place of the event—and give a quick description of what invitees can expect.

OR

Take a break from writing and get out those crayons. Sketch one of the characters from your story, and then colour in the details—green hair? Excellent. Describe how his or her hair got that colour. Maybe he fell into a vat of paint, or she gobbled up too much broccoli.

What do you think? Any of these ideas spark your imagination? I'm going to write up an invitation for my ghost to attend dinner with the boy in my story—I can already think of the challenges! Like, what does a ghost eat?!

Gotta jet! If you're in the groove, I wish you ALL THE WORDS. And for those of you that took a break, may you be inspired to keep going. See you tomorrow!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 1411

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 ~ Take A Break

We're just eight days into a month of writing and I don't know about you but I am exhausted. I met my word count goal yesterday—barely.

I plan to carve out some extra words over the next few days, though, because I want to take time this weekend to read.

Everyone knows that reading is the best way to get better at writing. But I also know my time is crunched right now. Which is why I chose three new releases for middle graders that have something in common with my NaNoWriMo story.

This way, I'm not only reading for pleasure, I'm reading for research.

Like GHOSTS by Raina Telgemeier. This year, my story features a friendly ghost—kind of like Casper. Check out the blurb on GHOSTS:

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake — and her own.

Sounds right up my alley!  You can add it to your To Be Read list here.

And then there's BETTER OFF UNDEAD by James Prellar, which is pitched as The Walking Dead meets The Mysterious Benedict Society. Yup, you had me at zombies. Here's the official description:

In the “not-too-distant future,” a seventh-grade undead boy has to adjust to middle-school life as a zombie, and with three unlikely friends, he navigates a mystery involving global warming, disappearing bees, and billionaire developers... and more zombies.

Something you'd like to read, too? Check it out on Goodreads here.


And finally, another spooky-ish book—OPEN IF YOU DARE by Dana Middleton I love the character's first name—Birdie. Ha ha. This is what the book is about:

Like Birdie Adams didn't have enough problems this summer. But Birdie's Birdie. And if a long-buried box has "Open if you dare" written on its lid, then Birdie and her best friends, Ally and Rose, are going to open it. (Sounds like me!)

And now, along with everything else that's going on—Ally's pitching slump, Rose's banishment to Britain, and Birdie's annoying younger sister being, you know, annoying—the best friends are caught up in solving a mystery planted by a dead girl forty years ago. Find it on Goodreads here.

Obviously I won't get through all three books this weekend, but I'm hoping snippets from them will inspire my own project—which is coming along very nicely.

Gotta jet! Let me know which books should be added to your TBR for inspiration. Maybe I'll make December a month of reading!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 1231

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 7 ~ Before They Were Authors

No doubt about it, writing is HARD work. Getting that work published is hard too—even with all of the different publishing methods out there. But the key, as with everything in life, is to practice...and never give up.

Even though I hit my word count goal yesterday, I started questioning everything about my story—does it make sense? Is the character interesting? Will the reader turn the page? It's the kind of self doubt that can give someone writer's block.

So instead of giving in (or up), I went on the hunt for inspiring stories about writers who didn't get blocked. Authors who kept on writing even when it was hard or scary or their lives got too busy. You won't believe what I dug up! Did you know that Stephen King was a high school janitor before he became one of the most well-known writers of all time?

John Grisham, whose legal thrillers line my dad's bookshelf, was a PLUMBER before he made it as a bestseller. And Charles Dickens—author of books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol—worked at a shoe polish factory when he was just 12 years old.

Margaret Atwood, one of Canada's best known authors, had a job behind the counter at a coffee shop before she penned The Handmaid's Tale, T.S. Eliot was a banker, and Arthur Conan Doyle—creator of Sherlock Holmes!—was a surgeon.

All of these writers worked on their books while holding down jobs or going to school, like S.E. Hinton, who wrote the classic young adult novel The Outsiders at just 16 years old! Which means, *I* should be able to write 167 words a day for the next three weeks, even if I have homework, or the holidays are creeping up. Time to get back it.

Gotta jet! I hope my list inspired you too. If you're writing today, may the words be with you.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 6 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 6 ~ Say What?

Usually, I wait until the end of writing my story to read it back to myself—the temptation to fix things instead of moving forward with my word count (the goal of NaNoWriMo, of course) is too big. It can lead to serious procrastination, and that's the opposite of what I need if I'm going to "win" this year.

But, last night, after hitting my goal (and with some extra words), I celebrated by reading back my story. It's rough. I expected that. But I also picked up on a few of my weaknesses—the most significant being dialogue. It doesn't sound natural...at all.

So, I looked up some tips for writing dialogue and thought I'd share them with you, in case it's a weakness for you too. Here are the top three things I've learned:

CUT THE BORING STUFF. Get rid of conversation that doesn't enhance the plot or provide insight into your character. Everyday stuff like hello, how are you, and goodbye should go. Eliminate repetitive phrases.

KEEP IT SHORT. I have a tendency to ramble...which means I'm including a lot of boring stuff (see above) but also, most people don't talk that way. (Except my dad when he's going on and on about his work.) Keep your dialogue brief and to the point.

MAKE THE VOICES DIFFERENT. Your characters shouldn't sound the same. Create a cheat sheet that allows you to see at a glance their favourite (and different) words, catch phrases, and ho their characteristics are drawn out in what they're saying. A shy person might spit out the occasional um, for instance.

Of course, I'm not suggesting you go back and FIX your dialogue—that would be counterproductive to meeting your word count goals (especially since it might mean CUTTING some words), but something to keep in mind as you move forward with your story.

Gotta jet! Have a great Monday and...may the words be in your favour!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 880

Sunday, 5 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 5 ~ How Did You Use Your Extra Hour?

Good morning!

Did you sleep in? Or did you wake up at the same time and use your Daylight Savings hour to get in some extra writing?

I wrote. I had to because I didn't quite meet my word count goal yesterday, and I didn't want to head into the school week behind. This morning, I added an extra 50 words before Mom called me for breakfast (pancakes, my favourite). At first, I didn't want to take a break, but then I remembered some advice I'd seen a couple years ago about the importance of breaking up writing time.

One author uses an hour glass, and another sets an egg timer. The idea is that when time's up, you switch gears for a bit—go for a walk, have a shower, tackle some homework, read a book...anything to get your mind off your work in progress, really.

Today, I have a goal of 250 words. To do that, I'm breaking it up into 50-word increments. I did my first 50 this morning, before breakfast. After I publish this blog, I'm going to do another 50. This afternoon, my sister Amelia and I are baking cookies (for our lunches next week), and then I'll do another 50. I'll do some homework, and maybe a bit of reading, and then write 50 more words before dinner. My last 50 will be written in the early evening.

That makes for a productive day, right?

Sometimes looking at a BIG project (whether it's 200 words of writing, cleaning out your closet, or shovelling the walk) can feel daunting—unless you break it up into smaller pieces. Would this strategy work for you?

Gotta jet! I'm on track to hit 700 words this morning! Good luck with yours.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 650

Saturday, 4 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 4 ~ The ABCs of Writing

Happy Saturday, my fellow scribes!

How are you doing on your word count? Yesterday, I hit my word count, and then some extra, which means I'm kicking off today right on track. I'm trying not to get too excited—I generally fall apart in the second half of the month.

That's right, this isn't my first time doing NaNoWriMo. In fact, I started it in 2015, where I got in about 3,000 words before the holiday season swept me up in all things "Christmas." This year, I'm resisting the pull of the twinkling lights and committing myself to finishing—and finishing strong.

Although I didn't finish that "talking animal" story in 2015, something great did come out of that year—26 blog posts about writing. I covered tips on craft, story starters, terms you should be familiar with and much more! You can see those posts starting here.

If you're stuck, looking for inspiration, or just need a break, just scroll through my A to Z of Writing to get you back on track.

Gotta jet! Today, I'm hoping to write a few extra words so I stay ahead of the game. Good luck with YOUR work in progress—may the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 505

Friday, 3 November 2017

NaNoWrimo: Day 3 - Where Do Ideas Come From?

As I was struggling to meet my word count last night (which I didn't hit—ah!), I realized that while writing prompts are one way to kickstart a new story, there are other ways too—and if you're heading into the weekend wanting to write but without an idea, this is the post for you! 

So...here are four other ways to inspire your creativity:

Read the newspaper or flip through magazines. Sometimes a headline or an interesting fact can spark an idea. Did you know that the inspiration for the Superman Duffy comic It’s a Blast came from an article the author read about Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk taking 200,000 canola seeds up into space?

Watch movies! Yep, you guessed it, those action scenes can get your creative juices flowing. AMELIA “XERCES” DUFFY, the Superman Duffy comic featuring my sister was apparently inspired by the (old) movie, Honey I Shrunk The Kids.   

Play with play dough. It sounds silly, but creating something from scratch—like a character—and then justifying the decisions you made (such as why you chose a specific hair colour) can be just the physical inspiration you need to create a whole back story for that character—and eventually, the plot to a new adventure!

Go for a walk or a run. Seriously. Sometimes you just need to clear your head. And, if the weather warms up a little, it's the perfect time to get that creative adrenaline flowing! (Don’t forget to write your ideas down as soon as you come back, though!)

Did that help? Hopefully you find something to head into your weekend—being behind a couple of days during NaNoWriMo is one thing, but catching up after a week? A lot harder! 

Gotta jet! I'm settling in for some hardcore writing this weekend. How about you?

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Current Word Count: 300 words

Thursday, 2 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 2 - Stuck? Story Prompts To Get You Writing

Hey, everyone! *waves*

Did you hit your word count goal yesterday? I did—and even exceeded it a bit (by about 20 words), which means some of the pressure is off today. But it occurs to me that while I went into NaNoWriMo with a bunch of story ideas...some of you may still be stuck on what to write.

So, I conjured up a few creative writing prompts that will hopefully get your fingers itching to write (or type). Scroll down to see if anything ignites your imagination.

  1. Write a story about a young boy or girl who wants to change one thing about the world. What would that thing be, and how would he or she change it? With super powers (I'd totally love to be invisible) or through collaboration (it takes a village!), or....? 
  2. What's the weirdest fashion trend you've ever seen? (Shorts over pants, anyone?) Create a character with terrible fashion sense and then write a story about a day in his or her life. Maybe his or her clothing choices aren't so bad after all....
  3. Christmas is coming (53 sleeps!)—what's the best gift you've ever received? What if it had magical powers? Write a tale about what powers that present might have, and how you would use them. 
  4. Create a folktale about why the racoon wears a mask. (Whoa, that could actually be pretty cool...if I hadn't already started writing my ghost story I'd consider this one for sure!) 
  5. Have you ever wished for something, only to regret it later? There's something to that saying "Be careful what you wish for." In the Superman Duffy graphic novel AS YOU WISH, Chase (aka: me) makes a pretty ridiculous wish. What would be YOUR wish, and how could it possibly go wrong? 

Anything on that list worth writing about?

If you've already started your work in progress, but you have other ideas, share them in the comments—you might help a fellow writer get unstuck! Plus, I'll send you a copy of AS YOU WISH. Leave a comment and then email me your address.

Gotta jet! Good luck on today's word count.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Current Word Count: 197