Friday, 13 December 2019

DIY Christmas Cards, Anyone?

About four years ago, Mom started a new tradition of making Christmas cards for the entire family—even for the cousins—and second cousins!—we haven't seen in years.

It makes sense. The personal touch is so much better than sending an email—though we spend most of Christmas morning calling family too. And we're kind of a crafty family, as you know. But I still have some shopping to get done, so I was happy to see that this year's card doesn't seem as difficult as some of the others she's found on Pinterest.

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.

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

The next year, 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 wasn't having it. She has a "thing" for penguins so we made these.

Cute, right? And also very hard. Those pieces aren't the easiest to cut out. My sister loved gluing the googly eyes on.

No googly eyes this year, and not as much cutting, but I'm curious to see how we get the little bumps on the bottom of these adorable snowman cards.

Gotta jet! However you're spending your weekend, I hope it's merry and bright! See you next week.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 6 December 2019

Kindness throughout the holidays

I don't know about you, but I haven't done much writing—or revising—since the end of NaNoWriMo. Oh, I'll get to it, but right now, there's a bit too much "holiday" excitement happening. Which makes it hard to focus on writing, or school, or...pretty much anything.

Take this weekend, for instance. Mom and I are going shopping for Christmas presents—with a quick stop to visit Santa. (Have to get my list in!) Shopping with Mom is fun, but it can also be stressful. It's crowded in the malls, and kind of loud.

Sometimes it's easy to forget "kindness" when you're jostling for position in a long line, trudging through snow or slipping across ice. Sure, Christmas has holiday lights, hot chocolate, and family gathered around the table—but it also comes with some stresses.

So this year—again—I'm making a list...of ways I can spread 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 we can all do our part. Right?

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. 
  • Buy hot chocolate for the person behind me in the coffee shop line. 
  • Take my sister ice skating. (If you saw how she skates, you'd know how kind of me this is!)
  • 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. 

Good list, right? 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

Saturday, 30 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 30: The End

I did it.

I. Did. It!

10,000 words in 30 days—my third successful NaNoWriMo challenge—and with double the words! My story 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 10,000 words is a BIG deal, especially since I doubled my word count goal this year. You can look back at my journey this month starting here, (there are plenty of tips for young writers in each of the posts) but what really matters  today is that I finished. I hit THE END.

But now, the real work begins.

I'm going to take a few days to celebrate my personal victory. I'll buy a couple of books and a new notebook. This weekend, we're going to do some Christmas things like hunt for our tree, and finish up the outdoor decor. We might even make some cookies.

And then, starting next week, I'm going to begin 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 next week...but today? Today I'm going celebrate!

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

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 29 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 29: Going With the Flow

Things didn't quite go as planned yesterday. I finished my blog post and went to post it on social media and—Facebook was down. All day. I tried every couple of hours, worried that if I didn't post my blog, you'd all think I'd forgotten....or given up.

Obviously I haven't, and if you found your way to my blog anyway, you know that I had just 250 words left to write to hit THE END. That didn't happen either—because I was flustered and distracted by the fact that my post wouldn't publish on Facebook.

How silly is that?

At first, I got a little upset with myself. Then I rationalized that of course I would be distracted—things did not go as planned. And then, I came to this realization: it's totally ok that things didn't go the way I thought.

Because here's what I did instead. While I was waiting for the post to upload in the morning, I helped Amelia with her homework. At lunch, when I tried again, I read some pages of a new book. After school, I helped Mom make a batch of Christmas cookies—and yes, I got to sample them—and then after dinner, I read some more, and completed my own homework.

Not a bad day, right?

Sure, I didn't get my words done, but today, I'm going to accept the fact that things might not go exactly as I planned and that's okay—I've come so far in this NaNoWriMo challenge, and I only have 250 words left. I'm going to aim to complete them today, but if I miss? No big deal...there's tomorrow too.

I also realized that things not going as planned can sometimes happen in a story too—no matter how well you've outlined it. I'm more of a pantser—the kind of writer that flies by the seat of their pants—but I know that in either method, sometimes the characters or the plot can take you in a completely different direction. And while that may seem scary, it could also lead to something magical.

Like Mom's Christmas cookies.

Gotta jet! Hope your Friday goes as planned...but if not, I hope something magical happens anyway. I'll see you tomorrow for...THE END.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 28 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 28: (Almost) The End

I know, there's still two days left in NaNoWriMo, but I have had a productive week and guess what? I am 250 words from hitting my word count goal. That's right—I have written 9,750 words in 27 days. Twenty-seven days!

And you know what's even better? I'll be ending my story in exactly the right place.

Oh, it's not a perfect story by any means. 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 200 words. (And who knows, I could go over if I really get in the zone...)

Which means, it will be time for my final milestone celebration: The End.

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 5,000-word mark, I indulged in a pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

So what will I do on Saturday?

GO TO THE BOOK STORE, of course! As a way of congratulating myself for completing this year's NaNoWriMo challenge, I am going to buy myself a new novel. Maybe two, since I doubled my word count. And, I'm getting a new notebook, probably a Moleskin because they're the best.

And as if that wasn't enough, 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 and I'd love to keep it all to myself), 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! And good luck with those final words...YOU CAN DO IT!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 27: Resources for Young Writers

Happy Wednesday! Not only is it mid week—with another weekend just on the horizon—we’re now just three days from completing this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. 

With just a few days left, I’ve been starting to think more about what comes after November 30. Not revisions—though that’s certainly on my list—but ways I can keep writing without the challenge of hitting almost 350 words a day. 

I know, I’ve been sharing tips throughout the month, and hopefully, if you’re feeling stuck, you’ll go through my past posts. But today, I thought I would dig up some resources for young writers. And I don’t mean fancy pens—though secretly I hope some cool writing supplies end up under the tree this year. <hint hint, Santa> 

Of course, I turned to the internet to find what I was looking for—Google is a great resource in itself!But here are three great sites I found:

Figment: This is a community of young writers dedicated to reading and writing stories online. You can rate stories—constructive criticism is super important to your growth as a writer. And sometimes, well known authors drop in to chat, run contests, or feature their work. Check it out here. 

Wattpad: This is the largest online reading platform—considered the YouTube of writing. You can share your work with the world, follow your favourite authors, and learn more about publishing opportunities. You need an account to sign up (it’s free). Get started here.

Teen Ink: Supported by the nonprofit Young Authors Foundation, this site is a great place to share you writing, art, and photos. It’s also a great place to go for articles about publishing your nonfiction essays, articles, and even your poetry. Hm. I wonder if they accept haikus? Get the scoop here.

If none of these sites interest you, try doing a Google search—and it goes without saying but you should always check with your parents before signing up for anything online. The internet can be a scary place! 

Gotta jet! May the words be with you…

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 26: To Write, Is To Read

Good morning, fellow scribes!

With just four days left in this year's NaNoWriMo challenge—four days!—I'm starting to reflect on some of the things I didn't do while I was scrambling to hit my word counts every day. Turns out, I didn't do a lot of reading.

Oh sure, I flipped through my Superman comics, and read an R.L. Stine book—he's one of my favourite authors—but I normally try to read at least two books a month, and that just didn't happen. There's only so much time in the day.

But to be a good writer, you have to read. And not just because Stephen King says so, though if there was ever an authority to listen to, he'd be it.

The truth is, when we read, we absorb writing craft—the perfect way to phrase sentences or convey themes, how to describe characters, the best way to write dialogue, weave in backstory, or even assess pacing. You're still reading for pleasure—if the book is good enough, you can't help it—but your subconscious mind picks up on tips and tricks you can apply to your own writing.

It's easy to forget that when you're busy writing.

So I think today I'm going to carve out a half hour or so to read. I miss it.

What books will you dive into once the challenge is over? Share the name of the novel—or comic—you're most excited about in the comments and you could WIN a complete set of the Superman Duffy graphic novels. There's 16 of them!

Gotta jet! Happy writing...or reading.

~ Chase Superman Duffy