NaNoWriMo 2015

National November Writing Month. A time where writers all around the world test the boundaries of insanity while trying to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.

I have accomplished this twice now, and this November is my third time around. Note: quantity is not always quality.

And this is where I’ve stumped myself this year. I have 4 days left to finish the word count, and I’m a little under halfway there. I’ve come to terms that I might fail this year, and that’s okay. The point is that I was writing, right?

Hopefully! I think that my stubborn perfectionist self got in the way this year. I didn’t have the dreaded writer’s block, thank goodness, but I wasn’t able to continue on until my scenes felt like gold.

Which they didn’t. Which is the point of NaNoWriMo, and writing in general. I can’t remember who’s wise words they once were, but they went a little something like this: you have to write a hundred pages of shit in order to get a diamond.

Nonetheless, I am crazy, and for the next four days I will try my hardest to catch up! We’ll see how this goes.

Are there any other Nanowrimos out there? What helped you or hindered you this month?


Back to Books: The List that I Need to Get Around to Reading (stat)

This summer, between flights to and from Portugal, metro travels, and lounging on the beach, I have read three books. Now, that may not sound like much, but Diana Gabaldon’s second novel in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, is a whopping 752 pages!

Nonetheless, I call myself an English Literature major, as well English teacher and writer, and so I must challenge myself to read more! In fact, I am ashamed to admit that I do not read as much as I should. “Should” being the amount I perceive a successful writer, teacher, and student of English ought to have under her imaginary, academic belt.

Here’s the deal, I am going to challenge myself (and my students) to create a book list: half-derived from the cannon, and half-composed from the books that I’ve desired to read, but haven’t touched yet. *Some books in my list will be re-reads, because I feel that I have not read them in many years, or because I read them at age in which I fear I did not grasp the novel entirely.

The novel list will grow as I go, but here are the first 20 books.

  1. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigur
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. Emma by Jane Austen
  10. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  12. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  13. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  14. Blankets by Craig Thompson
  15. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  16. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  17. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
  18. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  19. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  20. Speak by Laurie Halse Anserson

My idea is to write a summary (dare I say, book review?) of each read! What do you think? Have you read any of these? Comments, critiques, or suggestions?

With love,

Cassandra's Signature

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Sem Título

Where in the World Will Cassandra Be?

Terceira (also called “Ilhas Lilás” for the lilac/violet landscape) is one of nine islands in the Azores, which is a string of islands owned by Portugal. In Portuguese, “terceiro” means “third”. What I’ve been told is that it is called the “third” island because it was the third found and explored, or that it is the third largest. I’ll have to look into this!

I’m looking forward to sipping a galão soon–the Portuguese version of a cappuccino with espresso and foamed milk. Yum.


Leg One Update: Smoking Rooms, Chipped Nails, Deaf Seatmates, and Desperately Seeking a Portuguese Speaker

Yesterday, I traveled from Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah, to Boston, Mass. When I left Oregon, temperatures were 105 degrees! My whisking to a from the airport here in Boston has been accompanied by cool temps in the 50s with misty rain. Such a nice relief! 

So here’s the low down:

The airport in Salt lake features the first smoking room that Ihave ever seen. I was walkingdown the the terminal, amidst gates full of waiting people, and there smack dab in between two gates was a glass box with people in it. Intrigued, I stepped forward. They were all smoking! In an airport!? I thought that was like the number one rule in airport procedures, no smoking inside. I thought it was pretty cool, and since I occasionally have a cigarette, I decided to try it out. Here’s what it felt like: a fish bowl. Once inside the glass box, people looked at you differently. Maybe it’s due to the American anti-smoking culture we have, or perhaps because the glass box was just so different! Inside, built in fans above sucked the smoke up and outside immediately, so the room (which I expected to be cloudy with second-hand smoke) was as see through as glass. Very interesting.

On my flight to Boston, I tried striking up a conversation with my seatmate, but (pun intended) it appeared my words were falling on deaf ears. After a few comments going unanswered, I chalked it up to a possible very introverted personality and chose to stare out my window at the mountains below. It was only when she stood up, allowing me to scoot by to the bathroom, that I noticed her sweater said “Deaf Soccer League”. Instead of embarrassing myself further, I pantomimed the American Sign Language motion for “thank you” and she flashed me a smile.

Now, as I sit in a cafe, awaiting my 10 p.m. flight, I am keenly aware that the fingers gliding across this keyboard are in bad, bad, glamour shape. I need a manicure, stat. Especially before I see my fiance (who I haven’t seen in a year, thank you very much). The server has notified me that in Terminal C (not the international terminal) there’s a whole mall, where I can wait these next 5 hours, and go ahead and get my nails done! How lucky am I?

Meanwhile, I’m trying to catch the eye of a Portuguese waitress, who I’ve heard speaking Portuguese to other customers, and I desperately want to get in on the lingual-practice action! In less than a day, I’ll be  immersed in a whole other culture, where I’ll be expected to know the casual day-to-day dialogue of my future-family. I mean, Fabio and I have been dating for four years, engaged for two, and I should know it fluently by now! I suppose I just need more practice.

Anyway, this is such a long post, that I’ll stop here for now. I am thrilled to board that international flight, and arrive in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel tomorrow. More experiences, travel and thoughts to come!IMG_0001

P.s. I’m going to order that Boston cream pie now.

Love always,

Cassandra's Signature



36 Days Until Paradise


In about a month, I’ll take a domestic flight across the United States. From there, I will fly over the Atlantic Ocean, and through the round fish-eye window, be able to see choppy black waves beneath me. In about a month my feet will settle on the black lava rock of Terceira island. For the first time in three years, the scent of wildflowers and salty sea air will greet me.


And in about a month, I will be in paradise again.

Cassandra's Signature

Inked and Besotted

Breathlessly, I tried to catch the words streaming through my mind before they disappeared and I was left with an empty page. My pen scratched against the parchment. After the first few words, “How can I express this plainly?” I had to dip my pen and finished the sentiment, “I cannot see your face clearly in my mind any longer”. I remembered the hazy image, like something from a dream, but there was a small crescent-shaped scar on your face, but where? My fingers flew over the page, smudging the ink in my impatience to squeeze the coffee grounds of my thoughts out.