I’m the Cheerful Fairy (no joke)!

Camp-Participant-2015-Twitter-ProfileIn Sir Terry Pratchett’s brilliant novel1, Hogfather, one subplot3 is that an excess of belief causes the temporary creation of a bunch of minor godlings/fairies, such as the Oh-God of Hangovers or the Sock-eater. And one of those beings is the Cheerful Fairy. She is said to “look just like your first schoolteacher”9 and wasn’t very good at her job. She kept trying to get the wizards of Unseen University to engage in party games and other activities suitable for Hogswatch Night11.

I am once again embarking on a Camp NaNoWriMo project12. I’ve recruited several friends to join my cabin14. I’ve had most success at NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo where I had writing buddies to check in with, and sometimes have word count races with. Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a low-key version of National Novel Writing Month, where you either set a lower word count than the standard 50,000 words in a month, or you work on an editing or revising project. So I’m going to try to be more cheerleader rather than competitor with my buddies17. Thus, Cheerful Fairy!


I saw this post on Michelle Murrain’s blog: My Writerly Tools18, and thought I would post a list of my writerly tools:

  • Scrivener – the absolute best writing project managing tool/word processor. And incredibly affordable for what it does! It’s multi-platform, and if you use the Sync to External Folder feature in conjunction with Dropbox or Copy or Box, makes it really easy to work on your project anywhere.
  • Scapple – by the same people who make Scrivener, this is a brainstorming/outlining tool that is also really great me building family trees.
  • Textilus – iPad text/rtf editor. I use it to work on my Scrivener projects synched to the cloud.
  • WriteRoom – can be used as a distraction free word processor on the Mac. I originally bought the iOS version to write on the bus and other places when I was away from my computer and I didn’t have room to get out the iPad. The software maker has stopped supporting the iOS version, as it wasn’t generating enough income to justify the work. It still works on my phone, and I will probably keep using it for those “write half a scene on the bus” moments until the app stops working on the phone. If you need a good, simple distraction-free writing program on the Mac, I highly recommend WriteRoom.
  • And of course, 20+ paper dictionaries at home – I use the paper dictionaries often, because they tend to have more information than the affordable software versions. But the software ones don’t usually require me to stand up, so I often go to them first:
    • Shorter Oxford – I have this version of the Oxford English Dictionary19 installed on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
    • Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus20 – I have more than one electronic version of this dictionary on all my devices.
    • The Chambers Dictionary21 – I keep this on my Mac and my iPad. I’m not sure why I don’t have it on my phone. Maybe the original app was iPad only?
    • Chambers Thesaurus – Companion to the Chambers Dictionary.
    • WordBook Universal English Dictionary and Thesaurus – another one that I’m not sure why I have it on iPad and Mac, but not the phone.
    • SPQR – a Latin dictionary app on my iPad and iPhone, very useful when I need to make up incantations for one of my wizards or sorceresses.
  • RhymeGenie – I use this for poems and song writing… and for composing prophecies22.
  • AffinityDesigner – has become my replacement for Adobe Illustrator for drawing maps.
  • iTunes – I often listen to music while I’m writing. And I make special playlists for certain characters or projects. My oldest playlist, called uncreatively enough “Writing”23 was created in 2003, when iTunes first became available for Windows27. That’s right, I used iTunes for three years before I owned my first iPod.

Anyway, now that it’s April, I’m busy with my Camp NaNoWriMo project, which probably means I won’t have much time for blogging. And I certainly don’t have time to do an April Fool’s joke2830!


1. Not to imply that it is his only brilliant novel. He wrote dozens of brilliant novels2.

2. Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Going Postal, Wee Free Men, Thief of Time, Small Gods to name just a fraction…

3. It could also be described as a consequence of the main plot of the antagonist4, except that it happens before the reader knows what the antagonist’s plot is, and so for the first half or so of the book it serves as foreshadowing or a clue, depending on how you look at it7.

4. For all the Pratchett’s Discworld books are sometimes described as comedies, the principal villain of Hogfather is one of the creepiest characters I have ever encountered in the pages of a book5.

5. And fortunately, creepier than almost everyone I have ever met in real life6.

6. Yes, I said almost.

7. The same sequence of events is: a clue, foreshadowing, a subplot, and the sort of idea another writer might make an entire separate book out of, but it’s just a side effect of one of the really mind-bending ideas in this book8.

8. Also, the sequence is damn funny.

9. Plump with sensible shoes, tweed skirt, cardigan and a set of ineffective gossamer wings10.

10. I admit, that other than the wings, this does describe my kindergarten teacher.

11. Pratchett’s fantasy world’s rough equivalent of Christmas Eve.

12. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.

13. There is no thirteenth footnote.

14. This mostly means that we have a private message board15 and a central location where we can see each others’ progress.

15. Not a very sophisticated message board16.

16. Though it is improved from last year’s in that we can reply instead of just adding more comments to a single shoutbox style thread.

17. This time. Come November, the kid gloves come off!

18. I am very sad to see Word on her list. She gives her reasons, but the sad truth is, as a Word professional who with 27 years experience with it, I can say that it is the buggiest piece of crap ever put on a computer, and is just as likely to have formatting and more serious issues transferring the file to another Word user as with others importing RTFs.

19: The platinum standard of English language dictionaries.

20. Genuine Merriam-Webster dictionary is the gold standard of U.S. desk dictionaries.

21. Chambers is the dictionary most commonly found on bookshelves and desks in the U.K. for years.

22. I have a lot of characters in my fantasy universe who can see the future: the Oracle, Madame Valentina, Brother Ishmael…

23. Followed by “Writing II,” then “Laying Out an Issue of the Fanzine” then “Writing Faust24 and “Writing III.”25

24. A name which will mean more to some of my readers than others.

25. I have since become more creative with playlist names26. The playlists I’ve been using while working on my latest novel have names such as “Ballad of a Lost Soul,” “Ballad of a Would Be Dark Lord,” “Ballad of the Unrepentant,” or “Ballad of Dueling Masterminds.”

26. Of course, I have literally hundreds of playlists.

27. I was living in the wilderness of Wintel at the time, having been lured away from my beloved Apple ][c by the fact that I was working for a DOS software maker and could get a substantial discount buying a PC through my employer.

28. Which I generally don’t do, anyway29.

29. Almost never, that is. So many people do “jokes” that just upset their friends, that it has really made the day less about fun and more about dread.

30. But if you find all these footnotes funny, that’s all right.

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