Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Change

Well, Jenny changed hers and, let's face it, we all seem to copy off, I mean inspire each other around here. So I've changed to orange, because orange is supposed to represent and provoke creativity. I'm copying in order to be original.

Or something like that.

So many things make sense in my head, but then not when they're released into the world.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Odds and Ends

There was recent thread on an email loop I belong to. It went along the lines of "Our writing group needs to be able to meet online. But a lot of our membership isn't very comfortable with computers. So suggest a solution that is easy for computer illiterate types."

Excuse me? How many problems in logic can you see in those 3 lines? You have computer illiterates who want to meet online? And these are writers who aren't comfortable with technology?

I'm sorry, but in this day and age a writer must be comfortable with computers, the Interweb and all that goes with it. Fact of life. Tool of the trade. You don't have to know how to put a computer together or even how to program one, but you'd better be savvy with some kind of word processing software, email and search engines. Most agencies are moving to email queries and submissions only. How are you going to get your work out there if you can't navigate the Interweb?

And whatever happened to the past tense of so many irregular verbs? Words like "swam" and "sank" and "stank" and the like? All I see now are phrases like "The boiled cabbage stunk" and "I sunk the basketball." No, you didn't. You sank the basketball. You may have sunk many basketballs in your lifetime, but this particular one you sank.

Okay, I guess it was just odd and end. Thought I'd have more to vent about, but apparently not right now.

Carry on.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Year Ahead

As we saw in the previous post, I was a big old slacker failure in 2008. (I'm giggling as I type so obviously I don't feel all that badly about it, which is probably a really bad thing.) So what should I expect from myself in 2009 that would be an improvement? Well, almost anything would be an improvement, wouldn't it? Okay, done beating myself up now.

Here's what I would really like to get done in 2009 with a bit more specificity:

--Finish revision of MMG in January (or be prepared to throw it in a drawer).
--Revise Vesta by end of April.
--Finish draft of TNN by end of February.
--Revise TNN by end of summer.
--Write rough draft of some other novel that I haven't thought up yet by end of year.
--Query Dan and other agents in March (only if MMG is submittable, otherwise wait for Vesta).
--Write flash fiction piece for anthology by mid-January.

Anyone else ready to commit to what they want to accomplish next year?

Year in Review

I just went back and looked at my goals for this year. They were not particularly ambitious. Yet I failed to meet a large percentage of them. Disappointing to say the least. Here they are, with the results, such as they were:

--Finish revision of MMG. (Um, no.)
--Query Daniel and lots of other agents. (No)
--Finish draft of Vesta. (Check)
--Work on short stories and submit. (Not a single one.)
--Possibly start TNN or another new novel. (Check)
**Win NaNoWriMo (Check!)

Holy jeez, that's just sad.

**Addendum: Ali pointed out that I won NaNoWriMo this year and didn't list it. I didn't because it wasn't one of my stated goals. The results are listed (finish draft of Vesta and start TNN). But it was a bit deal so I've added it to the bottom.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quick Update

The new PPW Prez sent out an email yesterday (that I read this morning) about the economy and how it's impacting non-profits (like PPW) and how they rely on volunteers, and how they need more volunteers. Sort of a "many hands make light work" sort of message. All of that is true. And I found myself thinking, "I could maybe do that one little thing there that shouldn't take much time." Then I heard several voices yelling at me and felt several virtual dope-slaps.

So I took my name off the volunteer loop.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Lovely Side Effect

So, you all know that I resigned my position on the Board of Directors of Pikes Peak Writers. Only one column was submitted directly to me. A couple were sent to editor@pikespeakwriters.com which meant I got one and the new editor got one as well. After this issue, that one won't forward to me any longer. Lots less hassle. With the exception of a flurry of activity the first week or so while the new editor asked questions, I sent extra articles I had on hand and information about the reporters, she asked me for the information I sent again, I sent it again, she asked again, etc. Funny how I never received any notification that my email didn't go through. Oh well.

The new editor seems like a nice person. And very optimistic. Yes, I remember being optimistic when I first started, lo these many months ago. I would no longer be working with aspiring authors who had poured their very souls into this master work of under 2,000 words. Their sad little souls. Their sad little, poorly written souls. No, I would be working with reporters. Hard-nosed, hard-drinking, tough-talking reporters.Serious-minded fact-based writers who took pride in their work, but weren't personally invested in it. Reporters. And then I woke up. The reporters were aspiring authors. This reporting gig was waaaaaay down on their list of priorities. As well it should have been. But that meant some less than best efforts. There were exceptions, of course. Linda and Fleur were always reliable and on time and polished like a new penny. And Deb C. really stepped in and stepped up toward the end of my run. Maybe the new editor will have more of those in her future. I hope.

But the lovely side effect of resigning? Loads less email to wade through. My name is now off the BOD and Steering Committee lists. It will drop from the Volunteer list soon (because I'm no longer allowed to volunteer for ANYTHING). But even better is that the email I do get because I'm a member still and on the PPW loop doesn't have to paid attention to if I don't want. I don't have an obligation to keep up with topics and make sure I send congratulations for every announcement. And that means more time.

I resigned because of time, I know. But I was thinking of the schlepping to meetings and reading submissions and editing and looking at layouts and scrambling to get more content to fill up the issue and all that good stuff. I didn't think about less email and what that would mean.

Are you on any email loops that you don't need to be? I'm thinking of another one I'm on that may be the next to go. Hey, I've got to do something so I have time for Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gloom & Doom

Several of us have blogged before about all of the crappy economic news that we're hearing. "Everything's horrible." "Financial apocalypse." I actually heard that last one over the weekend. And many of the blogs written by writers and agents are taking a gloomier tone as well. Many publishing houses are laying off staff and one recently was reported to have put a "hold" on adult manuscript acquisitions. Of course a day later they announced an acquisition of a debut novel. Then the announcement that the "hold" announcement was erroneous, etc.

So, I just went through the Weekly Deal Lunch from PM. Just in fiction, here are the breakdown's of books sold last week (using PM's genre breakdowns, which I don't necessarily agree with):

3 Debut Authors (one was a 3-book deal)
2 Inspirational
2 Mystery/Crime
8 Thrillers
16 Women's/Romance
6 General/Other
2 Children's Fantasy
3 Middle Grade
9 Young Adult

53 books (and there may be more multi-book deals in there)

That doesn't take into account the Non-fiction, UK, Canadian, Film, or Foreign Rights sales. PM's count is 185 deals last week. And there are 3 already for today.

Remember that the publishing industry moves slowly. So that novel you just put "The End" to will take time to find a home with an agent. And you'll probably need to do additional rewrites based on agent feedback once you're signed (ask Fleur). Then the agent needs to sell it to a publisher. And they'll want rewrites. I believe the last figure I heard for time from selling a book to it being on the shelves is 2 years. Who knows? The economy may be booming by then.

And also remember that readers read no matter what the economy is doing. They may not buy as many hardcover new releases, but they still go to the library and used book stores. Mass market paperbacks look more interesting. And there are those, like me, who are more selective in the new books they buy, but still want to read that new release while there's buzz about it.

Don't let the negativity swirling about get you down. And if it does---write about it! That's what we do, after all. Write about what's happening to us.

In the words of Henry Gibson: Keep a-going!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Getting Serious(er)

With two and half novel first drafts completed, I decided it just might be time to be more serious about this writing thing. I don't think it's going away. Not going to outgrow it or grow bored with it. No cures in sight.

So, I joined Publisher's Marketplace today. I've belonged before on their free lunch, but it doesn't provide the detail to really do the research on what's selling, for how much and by whom. You can even click on Top Dealmaker's and see who is getting the best deals by genre. Even by "Debut". How cool is that? One Mr. Lazar is rated #13 on that list for number of deals made for debut authors. He's also had several 6 figure advances recently. Loving him more and more. [But staying realistic in my expectations.]

Another part of the getting seriouser is knuckling down and doing the frikkin' rewrites. Goals for this month remain the same, because I also know I can't drop the momentum on TNN. But my January is going to be all about the rewrites. [You've heard it before, but NaNo changed something. I did something I thought I couldn't do. It's kinda magical.] I will look at how many chapters I have in MMG and Vesta, then break it down into a certain number of chapters a day. If there are too many to realistically get through both in one month, I'll settle for MMG in January and Vesta in February.

Dreaming is great. Dreaming is what's motivated me this far. Dreaming is where a lot of the ideas come from. But doing the damn work is what pays off.

Time to get to work.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Goals

After November, it feels like I would be justified in saying no to goals for the month. But I really don't want to do that. I have a bit of momentum going, although I know that December tends to be a tough month to accomplish much in, I'm still going to keep working.

So, here they are:

--Write another 10,000 words of TNN. This is one fifth of what I did last month, and I have 6 handwritten pages already so not too worried about hitting it.
--Rewrite 2 chapters of MMG. One of the distractions that happens during NaNo (and any other time I'm writing) is that ideas for what's wrong with some other project come fast and furious. Again this one is not pushing it at all.
--Finish 4 books I've already started. I'm about halfway through Dexter In The Dark and Night. I'm about a third of the way through The Worst Hard Time and The Secret Life Of Bees.
--Do the CWC critique--of course. This is going to be fun because it's the whole manuscript of FJR with new ending.

I'm also going to try to design a NaNoReMo program for January. That stands for National Novel Revising Month. Jenny wants to do the NaNo writing in January and asked me to join her, but I have 2 1/2 novels to rewrite so they can start being submitted. Might be a tricky thing to quantify and break down, but I'll give it a shot.

Anyway, that'll be December. Along with shopping and wrapping and eating and partying and all that good stuff.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Freakin' Did It

About forty-five minutes ago, I uploaded my submission to the NaNoWriMo website for verification. Their count? 50,102 words. Mine? 50,148. Doesn't really matter much, they are both over 50,000 words.

I just went back and looked at my writing log book. I keep a log of each day I write and how many words and pages on that day. Chalk it up to my accounting background. Anyway, when I counted the days I actually wrote this month, I found out I only wrote on 24 days.

Yeah, I'm pretty stoked about this. I finished Vesta and got 106 pages into TNN. I'd love to say I'm going to continue this pace, but December is coming. April may be the cruelest month, but December is none too friendly with writers. There's just too much going on between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I am thinking about trying for a repeat in February. Not much going on then and more than 24 days so . . . First I have to figure out what my December goals will be. I'll let you know on Monday.

But for now, I'm basking. And slacking off big time tomorrow and Sunday. Major video consumption tomorrow. A trip to see Twilight with some of the gang on Sunday. A nice reward, I'm thinking.

Thanks to all the cheerleaders who helped get me here. Once again, you guys rock.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jenny Asked

First, a GOOD ON YA! to Jenny for getting her rewrites plus done for tonight.

How did the plan work? Pretty dang well, actually. Just saying I would do that helped me sleep. Or it was sheer exhaustion from the two previous pretty-much sleepless nights. Whatever. I slept.

And I'm still staying mildly ahead of where I need to be to have 50k on Sunday the 30th. 50k! Pretty frikkin frakkin cool as a friend of mine said recently.

I did not write at all on Saturday. I was only slightly ahead of where I needed to be on Friday so I knew that not writing anything would put me behind again. But I knew I could make it up without a lot of sweat. I'd done it before. I'd done it before from a much much scarier place. I've been 7-9k behind. What's 1,100 words? Chicken feed. I can do that with one keyboard tied behind my back.

Again, working on TNN is extra special liberating. Just the most skeletal of outlines to worry about--or ignore, which I seem to be doing more and more with better and better results. No feedback from outside yet to color what I'm doing. Just writing for the sake of making shit up. Gotta love that.

So here I am at work this morning trying to explain why my weekend was so great. "What did you do?" I wrote 3,000 words on Sunday. "And?" And I goofed off on Saturday because my cold had me down, but I wrote 3,000 words on Sunday. "That's it?" I went to brunch with Jonnie and Steve. "Oh! That's nice."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Downside of NaNoWriMo

I wrote about being at the fun part. And I'm still there. With the shift over to TNN, I'm having even more fun because of the novelty. It's a shiny new story. No one has seen these words, these characters except me. There are on expectations on them. Plus there's the happy from putting "The End" at the end of Vesta. All good stuff.

And all the good stuff is leading to more good stuff. I've been thinking of trying my hand at a poem for a magazine Nicole turned me on to. Haven't written poetry pretty much since high school (I won't admit here how long ago that was). But something about the theme of toys, games and puzzles spoke to me. I knew what game I wanted to write about, but nothing really came to me. Then I started getting ideas of how to work it. I'm liking the ideas. A good thing. I'm also getting ideas for MMG rewrites and Vesta rewrites-how to flesh out that scene better, maybe that one should be trimmed or cut altogether. Also very good things.

So where's this downside I speak of? These brilliant ideas are all coming to me between one and five in the morning. Can't turn them off or shut them up. I get almost there. Use the breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques I learned over a year ago when I was first hit hard with insomnia. Get just about there. Right on the edge. Then Vesta will whisper something to me or Wardell (my protag from TNN) will knock over one of my notions about him or a setting from any of the books will materialize fully formed and beautiful in front of me and I start all over again. No, I haven't gotten up and written anything down, because it always feels like I immediately file it away and start slipping off to dreamland again. Until the next one starts in.

The plan is this: tonight I take my journal to bed with me. Relax, meditate and then start writing. Write whatever comes to mind about Vesta, Wardell, Kitty, Zack, Lily--I don't care who it is--and keep writing until the well is dry. It could turn out to be a lot of words that won't count toward NaNo goals. Don't care. I've got to get all these people to shut up after nine o'clock at night. They can start again as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning, but for pity sakes sleep on the same schedule as me.

Or I'll kill all of you off in the second chapter and bring in new, obedient, considerate characters.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thank You and You and You

Thanks to all the cheerleaders who are keeping me going through this long strange trip of NaNoWriMo. You guys are great.

And another thank you to Jenny for being brave enough to volunteer to be the first CWCer to submit a whole novel to the group. It's given me an extra month so that I don't have to worry about cleaning up the mess I've made of Vesta over the past two weeks for a while. Plus I get to look forward to reading what she's done with a novel that I already like very very much.

A little light on word count yesterday, but I did finish Vesta and start TNN. Then I went to see The Secret Life of Bees with some of my non-writer friends. Had a great time, and it was a nice was to celebrate hitting the halfway point.

TNN feels like working without a net after writing the end of something I've been writing on for almost a year. This is new and different and I don't really know the characters very well yet. I don't know if they'll like me or I them, but we're taking those first tentative steps. Still being overly polite with each other. Not comfortable enough to show our true selves. But that should ease off by the end of the week. Let's face it, none of us--not even fictional characters--can keep the mask in place for very long.

Now, back to work.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For Those of You Keeping Score

That was, indeed, over 5,000 words written yesterday. 5,382 to be exact. Vesta will be finished today. Then it's on to TNN. And I have very little planned for it.

What a ride!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fun Part

Shhh. Don't tell anyone, or we may jinx it.

But I'm getting to the fun part of NaNoWriMo. Of any writing, really. My characters are starting to think for themselves. They're doing things I didn't anticipate. They've ended up in situations I could not have forseen. Zack (CWCer's LEAST favorite character in the book) has turned out to have some pretty cool stuff going on.

To try to maintain this, I'm writing every single friggin' day. No matter what. And I've gone into superstition mode. "I wore this ring on the days that I logged the most words, so I will where this ring all the time now."

Okay, back to it. Just wanted to post something about my writing that wasn't total whinging.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Wonderful Excuse

As you can see by the NaNo count on the right, I seem to be going backwards as regards my writing goals. But I have a wonderful excuse for why I didn't get more done over the weekend.

Well, I have a good excuse.

It's an excuse, you decide its merit.

I was house and dog sitting for Jonnie and Steve. So I had to give some attention to the dogs. Plus there's the extra time that normal things take to accomplish, because you're not in your usual environment. So there's that. But J&S have a new addition to the family since the last time I housesat. A big-screen HD TV. I spent a little time getting acquainted with this new addition.

And the biggest culprit in all this not writing? HBO. They decided to show a True Blood marathon. I read the book that the series is based on, Dead Until Dark. And I liked that book. A lot. As a matter of fact, I picked up the next three books in the series. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the series is about Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in Louisiana who can hear people's thoughts. The books take place in a near future just after vampires have come out of the coffin, so to speak. They are able to drink a synthetic blood now and are lobbying for equal rights. Sookie meets and falls for a vampire, whose thoughts she can't hear. The main story, however, is a murder mystery. Seems other waitresses who've been involved with vamps are being killed.

The series contains all the elements of the main plot of the book. The characters from the bar and Sookie's family are there. There's the "What's up with Sam", her boss, element. The murders. Bad vamps. Ambiguous vamps. Bill the Vampire's trouble walking the line between the vampire world and the human one. And there are a lot of added storylines. A lot. Voodoo and exorcism. A wacky girlfriend for Jason, Sookie's ne'er-do-well brother, and all the comes from that. But one of main things I loved about the book is missing: the funny. Now there is humor in the series, but not the belly-shaking, tear-squeezing laughs from the book. And for all the nudity and sex, a lot of the sexiness is missing, too.

Did I like the series? Yes, I did. After all, I spent the better part of the weekend watching it. And I really want to see the final three episodes, even though I know at least part of the ending.

The Dexter television series did a similar thing with Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Main story is there. Lots of extra stuff added to make it fill up a full television season. They, however, managed to keep the funny. And maybe even add to it.

I understand the changes. You have a 300 page book that takes several hours to read. When you film it, it takes even less time to watch, because the pictures take care of setting and character description. And you need to fill 12 episodes with an average running time of about 50 minutes each. So you need more stuff. And in both cases, they have added well.

Here's the question: Do you think we as writers who all love our television (and you know we do) maybe try to put too much in our books? Do we try to fill them up with all the extra stuff that we see in our favorite shows? And if we do, is it a bad thing?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Warning: Political Content

I don't usually talk politics here. Not because I'm not interested. Not because I don't have opinions. But because, over the past decade, I've learned to keep my mouth shut. I live in a community in which I am most decidedly in the minority. I've also worked at a company (not my current one, I'm happy to say) where having it known that I was part of that minority made my life hell. So I said nothing. Especially not publicly.

Add to that the atmosphere of fear that has been built in this country over the last eight years. "You must be afraid" and "It won't work" and "No, you can't".

Well, last night I heard a man stand up and say "Yes, we can!" I watched people of all ages, races, religions, incomes and from all around the globe celebrating that man and what he stands for. I felt a glimmer of hope. That just maybe we can put aside our fear and distrust and do something good. Make a difference. Make things better.

On this cold gray November morning, I feel warm. And I'm smiling.

Oh, and check out Pat's blog today. I dare you not to cry.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NaNo Gets Short Shrift For A Bigger Issue

I'm off to a slow start this year for NaNoWriMo. But I'm looking at it like athletic training. You start slow and build. Yeah, training. So, I'm stealing time at work where I can. And I've got a weekend coming up with nothing much planned.

What about tonight?, you ask. Well, there's this thing called an election going on. And I know I'm going to be parked in front of the tube, watching Comedy Central's coverage--don't laugh, they usually have the smartest and least annoying people covering these things. Elections are important. So, I'm giving myself permission to care about something other than writing tonight. I'm hoping there's a clear outcome before I go to bed. And I'm hoping it's the one that helps me sleep better.

BTW, if you haven't voted yet, please do so. Vote your conscience.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November Goals - Is There Anything But NaNo?

It probably won't feel much like it, but there will be other writing-related things I need to complete this month. Let's see how I did in October--which seemed like a really, really long month to me.

--Rewrite 2 chapters of MMG. (6/2)
--Write 31 pages of Vesta. (7/31)
--Complete CWC critiques. (2/2)
--Read Dexter and The Graveyard Book with an eye to the "nuts and bolts." (1.5/2)
--Edit PPW NewsMag. (DONE)

Not too shabby. Especially with all the extra I Did This things I accomplished.

So, what do I need to do in November?

--Write 50,000 words, naturally. The first part of the month, at least, will be dedicated to Vesta. If I finish the novel before I hit my word count, I'll go on to another whatever.
--Complete 2 CWC critiques (thanks Jenny!)

Wow, that really is it. Reading this month is going to be hit and miss and mainly for fun. I'm dog and house sitting next weekend so that usually means the next Sandman book.

Ali's calling for a "Write For Yourself" month. I would hope I usually do that. I'll let you know at the end of the month whether it felt like work or not.

Okay, off to waste time on Facebo . . . I mean, time to go knock out a few hundred words.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Don't Need A Hero

A couple weeks ago, I realized that I wasn't enjoying Heroes the way I had in the first season. Too many characters, too much of them acting against the way they'd been drawn. Even the acting started to bother me. It seems like many of the main characters--the ones we've known from the start--now have one expression. Peter Petrelli in particular. [say that ten times fast] And part of the problem for the show is that the one before it, Chuck, is a heck of a lot more fun to watch. Still have a guy saving the world, but he's a bumbling hero. All he wants is the girl he can't have. Besides any show with Adam Baldwin in it has a definite advantage over one that doesn't.

Then this week my Entertainment Weekly shows up with a cover story about Heroes being in trouble. The other day Courtney posted on her blog about no longer taking up DVR space with the show. I also realized that over a month into the new season and the Pirates have not discussed it once. Bad signs all around. Looks like that fascinating tipping point thing has kicked in.

For me, though, it's going a bit deeper. More shows are annoying me this year. Top of the list? I may get lynched for this, but House. This show, too, suffers from a surfeit of characters. And I don't like the new ducklings. Never did. Bring back Chase and Cameron. Those two held their own against House. And why would anyone let this man treat them? You'd better be at death's door when you show up, because he's going to put you there anyway. If he's such a diagnostic genius, let him be geniusy. Instead of one big mystery, let there be half a dozen people with different problems. I've always thought the best parts of the show were when he's working the clinic. That's almost been non-existent this year. And please let's end the requisite strong woman reaching middle age and realizing she forgot to have a baby-oh my!-subplot and let Cutty get back to being the kick-ass administrator she's supposed to be.

I guess this is a good way to feel going into NaNoWriMo month. I won't have much time for television watching anyway. Guess I'll just wait until Burn Notice and Dr. Who come back. In the meantime I can watch my DVDs of Dexter Season Two and both seasons of Torchwood. Maybe check out True Blood online. In December, of course.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just Tell The Damn Story, Part 2

It's been a week since I saw Great Big Sea in concert. A fabulous show--as always--with great music and funny banter between the bandmates. Fifteen years of touring and recording. Not necessarily an easy life, but one that has honed their skills. Musically, of course. It seems that every year Bob adds another instrument to his repetoire. And the songs have become more nuanced. But they also get better and better at connecting with an audience. They were good at the beginning, but now . . . you feel like you've known them forever.

Most of the songs they sing are like flash fiction. They tell a story in very few words. Many are the traditional songs of Newfoundland. Stories of fishermen, loggers, hard drinkers and hard workers. Their original songs are stories as well. Many are about love and loss. About the life of a touring musician. About drinking too much and playing too hard (these took on a different feel for me after one of the guys started writing about dealing with addiction in his blog). The shows I've seen have all included some intros that explain the story behind the song--kind of an abbreviated Behind the Music. This tour was no different. Here's Alan's story of how he came to write How Did We Get From Saying I Love You.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGVfSnQOBMU


Confessional for sure. I haven't found video of Sean's intros to Hard Case or Long Lost Love, but they too prove to be very very personal. Now I would suspect that the first drafts of these songs bear little resemblance to what we heard last week. That they contained a lot more angst and anger. That they were raw. They most likely just told the damn story. Then they were reworked gradually into something a bit more generic. Throw in feedback from the bandmates and you've got a finished song. Still personal, still a bit raw in some cases, but something people everywhere can relate to.


Sound familiar?


The strange thing is that the story behind the story may be fiction as well. Doesn't matter really, I guess. Because there is still most likely a grain of truth somewhere in there. Some spark of what really set off the creative process.



So what about you? Do you like to know the story behind the story? Or do you prefer to experience books, poems, songs, whatever as standalone experiences?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NaNoWriMo Challenge

So, I was thinking of doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Maybe "win" it for a change by actually making the 50k word goal. And I had planned to do that by finishing Vesta and then, if I had word count left, I'd start something else. But I didn't have a something else to start.

That's where Evil Editor comes in. On his blog he is issuing a challenge to the minions. Go to a random number generator site. Set it to pick 5 numbers between 1 and 562. Take those numbers and find the Face-Lifts that go with them in EE's archives (the hardest part of the whole thing). Each will have 5 fake plots to go with the title and one real plot from a query letter. When you're done, you'll have 25 fake plots to choose from. You'll have to scan the query letter to see which is the real plot. Often, they are much worse than any of the fake ones. Pick one, make sure it's not listed on NaNo Prep 1 list and submit it in the comments section of that post. Then on November 1st, start a writin'.

Whaddya think?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Tell The Damn Story, Part 1

Over on Ali's blog she has been talking about what she took away from seeing Neil Gaiman in person and from looking at the nuts and bolts of his writing in The Graveyard Book. And the "it doesn't have to be perfect" lesson is a great one. One I have had to remind myself of most of my life. There is a reason that so many half-finished projects--not just writing but quilting, embroidery, sketches, knitting, etc.--are strewn around my house.

My big lesson from the experience? Just tell the damn story! I've said this to other people in critiques. A couple of them in particular. And it's always been for writing around the story. For trying to be clever to the point of obscuring any real nugget that might move the plot forward. Now don't get me wrong. I've talked before about how much I love literary writing. The "pretty" of writing. But, as with people, pretty that has no real heart, soul or brain gets damn dull after a while. After a very short while, usually.

But it also applies to my own writing. Or lack thereof. Because I stall out when I feel I'm not writing it right. "Maybe this would be told better in 1st person--or maybe I should include a flashback. Wait! Flashbacks are bad, right? But sometimes they're okay. Or I should change the main character. Or the setting. Or or or or." And I don't do anything. But if I'd quit looking at the perfect and just told the damn story that's in my head, I wouldn't have those problems. I'd probably have other ones, but that's okay. Clean it up later, right?

When Mr. Gaiman uses "to be" verbs, I believe it's because that's the way people tell stories to each other. "Once upon a time, there was a little girl who . . ." "I was at the Neil Gaiman reading the other night and . . ." And he is a storyteller. And, yes, they can be overdone, but that's what revision is for. To take out the ones that don't work. I just think we need to be mindful of the ones that do and be brave enough to leave them in. Forget about that critique group in our heads, who may even be worse than the Heckler.

Now, I'm probably the biggest offender when it comes to marking up things like passive voice and adverbs and the like, including "to be" verbs. And as a part of a critique group, it may be my job to point out overuse. But I think we all need to be aware of when we're overdoing the critiques too.

So, Just Tell The Damn Story is my new mantra. When I'm stuck. When I'm confused. When I don't feel like working. Just Tell The Damn Story.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mr. Neil Gaiman

What to say about last night?

It could be lack of sleep, but the whole thing is kinda jumbled together in my mind. Mainly impressions.

--Neil is shorter than I expected, but I expected he'd be shorter than he looks in pictures. If that makes any sense.
--He's quite at home on the stage. Not fakey comfortable like I did at AI, but really comfortable.
--A great reader. Does voices and everything.
--Manages to be down to Earth while dropping names. But it doesn't seem like name-dropping because he seems truly awed to know these people (Dave McKean, Charles Vess, Tori Amos, Amanda Palmer, Terry Gilliam, Terry Pratchett, etc.)
--Very funny, and can ad lib. (or has prepared what seem like ad libs and delivers them as if they are off the cuff)
--Coraline looks amazing. Even with the technical glitch in the middle that caused previous groups to go mmmmmrrrrMMMMMMMRRrrrmmmm.
--Will buy Blueberry Girl for Elizabeth and Clerissa as soon as it comes out.
--I liked what I heard of The Graveyard Book. Like Ali, I focused more on nuts and bolts than I probably would have. Caught many things that a former critique group would have just reamed him about. But it worked in the story.
--Definitely want any audio versions of his books that he reads.
--Neil telling us about the reaction of the LA group when he stopped at the halfway point of Chapter 7.
--Boulder group had great questions but horrible handwriting. Apparently, LA was just the opposite.
--Neil's favorite breakfast is "probably a cheese omelette, but only if I make it." He was a bit nonplussed that anyone would use their one question to ask that of a published author.
--A little over a month ago, I started using a different color ink in my Vesta notebook each day so it was easier to tell how much I'd written that day. Seems one Mr. Gaiman does the same. "Page and a half. Horrible day. I suck."
--Event organizers seem never to be all that organized. There was a traffic jam at the inner door after the reading as people who didn't get the book before the show lined up in the lobby to get it after. The people who just wanted to leave had a hard time getting around the clump. Make one door the actual Exit door and the other the one for shoppers. Easy fix, but noooo.
--With apologies to anyone from PPW who might read this: This was by far the best perk I've gotten from being a volunteer. Second row, stage right, two in from the aisle. Reserved seats. Gotta love it.
--Must save some dubloons for next trip to Beads, Beads, Beads.

That's all that's coming to mind right now. If you ever get the chance to see Neil Gaiman in person, do it. He's amazing.

October Goals

Oops. Forgot to post these--again. Last month was:

Done--Rewrite 2 chapters of MMG.
Done (barely)--Write 31 pages of Vesta.
Done--Quick polish of Vesta for CWC.
Done--Complete CWC critiques. (3/3)

Done and dusted, just by the tips of my fingernails. If I'd clipped them, well, failure.

This month? More of the same. With an addition of Ali's challenge about reading a little differently.

--Rewrite 2 chapters of MMG.
--Write 31 pages of Vesta.
--Complete CWC critiques.
--Read Dexter and The Graveyard Book with an eye to "nuts and bolts."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Hang Out With The Grooviest People

I just have to say it. For example:

John and Ali kicked some serious hinder with their writing challenge. Over 22k words for each of them. Holy shite! And I know I'll enjoy it when they're ready to let other eyes see it.

Fleur has already revised DtTF and submitted it to her agent. Now she's working on the next big thing.

Mary is moving those girls of hers right along in interesting ways, making me wish I could see what's in her head so I know what happens next.

Shane continues to amaze me with his stunning command of the English language and unusual take on the human condition.

Jenny? Well, she tells a helluva story extremely well. I'm reading FJR for the second time and am still on the edge of my seat.

Nicole always make me laugh, and frustrates me, too, that I don't get to read more of her work. Because I love it.

Then there are Bret, Laurel, Moe and I'm sure people I'm forgetting who may not be around as much, but still check in to see what's going on and to let me know how they're doing.
Plus, they're all great people to hang out with. Each with a unique perspective, but also open to what the others have to say. Gotta love that in this world. And just plain nice. When they ask, "How are you?" it is with real interest and concern.

I don't think I could do this writing thing without any of them. They keep me going.

All of this in prelude to letting you know that DB, another good friend, will not be around for a while. She's going through a lot of personal stuff right now that I'm not at liberty to divulge. But the whole group has rallied around to support her decision to take a sabbatical until she's ready to deal with all of this again. I know we all wish her well, in every sense of that phrase.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flip!

There's a scene in The Cutting Edge--I've talked about the fact that I love this goofy, really bad movie right? Anyway, the scene in question is Moira Kelly talking about magnets. That if you try to put the wrong sides of magnets together, they just push each other away. But all you have to do is flip one over and they stick together. Okay, halfway through writing this I realized that the analogy is breaking down. But I'm not going to try to come up with a new one.

Anyway, I've been struggling lately to keep up with all the things I'm committed to doing: work in particular, NewsMag, CWC, writing, house, family, friends--you get the idea. There is never going to be enough time to do everything I want to. I realized that years ago. There are too many things and people I'm interested in for that to ever happen. I'm groovy with that. But my attitude about this juggling act has pretty much sucked over the past several weeks. That I do have control over, but haven't been taking it. I've been wallowing in my bad mood. Really enjoying it, ya know?

I had no plans to drag myself out of that wallow either. This morning I got ready early so I could get to work early so I could throw a couple more balls in the air for the day. Just more reasons to feel stressed and cranky.

Maybe it was driving in at a different time. Maybe it was not worrying about getting to work on time because I was so early. Maybe it was listening to music on the radio rather than NPR. Maybe it's watching Ali and John smack each other around while toting up big word count numbers. Who knows? But I spotted a hot air balloon floating over the city, and that made me smile. Then I saw a man on a bicycle. Not unusual. But he was a very thin man in an orange jumpsuit. He had an Afro that stuck out wider than his shoulders. That made me laugh. And all around the parking lot at work, the trees have decided to turn a brilliant orange. That made me feel connected.

I may have passed all those things yesterday, but I didn't notice them. For whatever reason, I did today. I don't have any fewer things to do--in fact, I added updating my blog to the list--but I don't feel quite so cranky.

Take a few seconds today to look around. You too, John and Ali, even while you're racing for the gold--or is it Golden Arches?

Oh, and "toe pick!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Avast, Me Hearties!

Another Talk Like A Pirate Day hoves into view. Last year we all looked up our pirate names. Mine is Dirty Bess Cash. This year, look up your Pirate Personality at http://www.talklikeapirate.com/ppi.html

See the result of mine at the right.

Was there any doubt? Aye? Did I hear an aye from the scurvy dog in the bilge? Keel haul 'em!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Duck!

The challenges are flying fast and furiously around here as we get closer to the end of the month. Ali and John are in the middle of another smackdown. I'm feeling challenged just getting out of bed in the morning. Bad cold, project at work whupping my butt, yada yada yada. It's all by way of the old excuse of not enough time. Whatever. I'm over it.

I did make a change to my goals for the month based on some feedback from the ever brilliant Jenny. Chapter count is much easier to manage and more practical than page/word count when it comes to rewrites. Chapters are the units we're dealing in once the novel is done. Even if we query with word counts. So, chapters it is.

The NewsMag is out the door, and I have a couple weeks until the deadline for the next one. I have no plays or hockey games or parties or anything else to attend between now and the CWC meeting. So. 31 pages of Vesta is 2.8 pages a day in order to give myself time for a polish before I make copies. Really doable. I have the first chapter of MMG pretty well done, just one scene to add. A push to get another one done, but not at all out of the realm of possibility.

Time to just do it, as the ad says. There's a writing marathon next month and NaNoWriMo the month after that. I need to condition these flabby writing muscles before then. Who's with me?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Go, Fleur, Go!

Fleur has an agent! How cool is that? She is, as you would expect, happy and excited but also being much more realistic than I think I would be under the same circumstances. She understands that this is just the next step in the process. That there are several more steps before publication happens.

But it is something to celebrate.

And to use as inspiration. Because she worked at it. She's worked at her craft and at putting her work out there. As a rejection came in, she noted it and then sent out another query. She didn't let the word 'no' stop her.

So I'm sure she'll do just fine with all the other steps along the way.

Good on ya, Fleur!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

August Turns Into September

And the weather goes from summer to fall over the weekend. That's usually a good thing for me. My energy level increases with the waning of the heat. And this summer was weird for me anyway.

Let's look at the month just past, shall we? My goals were:

--Finish rewrite of MMG. (Not even close again)
--Write 62 pages of Vesta or 2 pages a day. (Made it to 31)
--Complete CWC critiques. (Did do both of them)

So what to do about September? I have to get to at least 50 pages on Vesta or face the wrath of the group. And that ain't pretty, let me tell ya. And MMG deserves to be finished and let loose. Work-work isn't giving me much free time these days so it's all evenings and weekends with some extra-tired in the evenings. [I know, whinging doesn't get it done.] So, given all that, I've still got to push myself.

--Rewrite 200 pages of MMG.
--Write 31 pages of Vesta.
--Quick polish of Vesta for CWC.
--Complete CWC critiques.

Here's the thought process. If I get to 200 pages of MMG rewrites, I'm hoping that I'll either be so caught up at that point that I'll push through or the instinct to 'just do it' will kick in and I'll finish. But even if neither happens, I'll be 200 pages closer to done. Since I managed 31 pages in about 10 days last month, I should be able to do the same this month. And have time left over to pretty it up a little for the group. And there is no negotiating on CWC critiques. Those just get done.

And I may come up with a self-challenge for Ali. But not right now. I have an appointment to make with a plumber, a deposit to take to the bank and about 50 customers to call so I can verify shipping addresses.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cliches

We had another great CWC meeting the other night. It was interesting to get feedback on Vesta, aka SW, so soon after hearing what the Icon judges had to say. Not surprisingly, it was quite different. Of course, to be fair, the CWCers have had about 148 or so more pages to go by. In some ways this was good for them and in others, not so much. As I suspected, two of my characters have the same argument over and over and never ever resolve anything. That will be fixed in the second pass.

Mary had some different comments to make this time around. She's been reading a book by a famous author whose name totally escapes me this morning. But it's about cliches in writing. Now, I know that I tend to hone in on the things I'm working on or reading about when I'm doing critiques so it isn't surprising that a lot of Mary's comments for both Ali and me (and I'm sure for Fleur who couldn't be there) were about cliches. They can be a very lazy way to write. And I don't think any of us want to be lazy writers. If we did, we wouldn't be subjecting ourselves to the CWC.

Anyway, here's my question: When is something a cliche' and when is it just the way things are? One cliche listed for Ali was the way the waitress greeted a customer. And I guess Ali could come up with a unique way that the people working at the bar welcome a customer. But, really, how many places actually do that? One of my characters is an old Southern woman who says something about a storm "fixin' to come". Now, I'll admit a lot of her dialogue is cliche' ridden--and I'll be fixing that. But in that area of Florida, people say "fixin' ta". Nothing ever happens, it's always fixin' ta happen. So using that phrase helps set the scene. In only two words.

I guess it's more about being aware of when you are using a cliche' and then making an informed decision to go with it. Because even if you make up your own mannerisms, they can become cliches unique to you. Think about the Buffy-verse. How shocking and interesting and different they way the characters talked was in the first season. And fun to revisit in the second and third. But by the seventh? Weren't they becoming cliches for those characters? And then Firefly and Serenity had the same kind of quippage (which is a Whedonesque word). And I'm sure The Doll House will as well. Fun to listen to. Easily identifiable as a Joss Whedon world. But now somewhat cliche' for him. So should he go back to straight, boring dialogue? I don't think so, but where's the line?

The cliches that bother me most are the character cliches. The hooker with the heart of gold. The assassin trying to get out of the game but being pursued by the new killer in town (looks like Nic Cage's new movie falls into that one). The divorcee who finds herself by getting lost somewhere exotic. Or the writer-only cliches. "Shots rang out." And, of course, I can't think of any more right now. But you get the idea.

So, where do you stand on this? I don't think Mary was wrong. But I may make an informed decision to stick with some of my cliches anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Survived American Icon

Barely. It was a nerve-wracking evening to say the least.

I arrive, turn in my form with the title (now Swamp Witch) and logline and pick up my program and name tag. Sit down with my buds and open the program. It still says "Vesta" as the title and I'm #13 in the line up. That means I'm after the intermission. Great. Lots of time to worry.

More people show up. At the cool kids' table, we have Jenny, Shane, Ali, Nicole, Fleur, John and me from the Pirates plus another John, Joe and Iron John's folks. Cool, indeed. I listen to the other people reading. Some are excellent. Some, not so much. Listen to the feedback. Don't agree with all of it, but then you never do. It's a subjective business.

Intermission. Time for a trip to the bar so I can have a nice cold glass of pinot grigio waiting when I come off stage. It'll go nicely with the two petit fours (would that be a petit eight then?) saved as a reward. And, of course, a visit to the ladies room.

First person after the break gets up and reads. I sort of hear it. Sip some water. Then the one before me. I stand up and move into position. Feel for a moment like I'm going to pass out. Breathe. Again. People applaud. I climb the three steps. Put my paper on the podium (plexiglass so I can't really hide behind it-damn!). Hang on to the podium so I don't fall over. Start to read. My voice is shaking so I take a deeper breath and speak louder. Seems to have steadied. Keep reading. Look up. So many people out there. First page done. Do the voice. Do the voice. Okay, that sounded deeper to me. Different. Did anyone else catch it? "finds it hard to ignore." Done. Applause. Smile. Turn to judges. They're applauding. Seems geniune. Feedback starts. "Great premise." blah blah blah "Backstory bad." blah blah "Good metaphors. Nice description." blah "Backstory really bad." blah "Wanted some religious symbols after hearing the logline." Huh? More applause. Return to seat. Don't trip. Congratulations from the table. Where's the wine?

Then it was Fleur's turn. She rocked the house and ended up winning for Best Tension. Abso-freakin'-lutely. John followed her with his fabulous reading. I'd heard it before and was still on the edge of my seat and laughing at the same time. Hard to pull off. But he did, and should have won for Best Thriller.

I know the person who won the Audience Favorite and Best Overall. I almost voted for her for Audience Favorite because her writing and reading were great. How can you go wrong with a woman's reaction to being next to the stage at a strip club watching another woman dance?

I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that I didn't win. Especially when one of the categories was "Best Premise". But the feedback about not going into back story on page two might very well be valid. It doesn't really need to be there. It's only two sentences, but still. The religious symbols? Not so much. She's going home to have dinner with the preacher, for pity sakes. Two more pages and we'd be there. But I got up and read and survived. I'm glad I did it for that reason. I don't have to do it again. And I doubt I will. At least in that setting.

Oh, I won a fabulous door prize. So between that, overcoming one of my big fears for a few minutes, seeing a couple friends win big and hanging out with my buds (who were so greatly supportive and I can't ever thank them enough for that), it was in the end a great evening.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Do You Believe In Magic?

Okay, I totally ripped off Kristin's blog rather than come up with something original for my own. But it made me laugh.

And I'll try to post this one only once.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Inspiration

And a bit of distraction, truth be told. I've always loved watching the Olympic Games. Then I went to work for the USOC when I first moved to Colorado Springs, and I really got hooked. My first week there, I met the guys from the 1984 Men's Gymnastic Team, the ones who won the gold medal in Los Angeles. Tim Daggett, Bart Conner, Scott Johnson and the rest. Later in the week, I met Scott Hamilton, who is a very nice and quite funny guy. Throughout the years, I met many athletes. Some more names you might recognize (Janet Evans, Bob Seagren, Al Orter, Rowdy Gaines) and many, many more that you wouldn't. But every one of them had a dedication to their sport, to sport in general.

For every Scott Hamilton or Janet Evans or Michael Phelps there are hundreds of others who train just as hard and sacrifice just as much, if not more, to work toward that dream of competing in the Olympics. Notice the word I used: competing. Not winning. Not even medaling. Just competing. There is a rule at the Olympic Committee. Well, there are lots of rules, but the one I'm thinking of is that you never refer to someone as "former Olympian." Once an Olympian, always an Olympian. Because just getting there is such a huge accomplishment that it cannot be taken away ever.

Several of the resident athletes worked for me in data processing. I can't count the number of times one or the other of them came to work with an ice pack to put on an injury while they worked. I learned a lot about dedication, hard work and pure guts from these young people. And watching this latest crop compete in Beijing, I'm humbled. And a little ashamed of myself.

There are correlations that you've no doubt noticed between the quest of the athletes and the quest of writers. You may toil in obscurity for years only to achieve your goal and then remain unknown to the vast majority of people. You may not even reach that goal at all no matter how talented you are or how much you work at it. A select few will reach Michael Phelps-like status.

I've been known to whine and complain about how hard this writing gig is. (Quel surprize!) I'm not out running in rain and snow to achieve my goal. I'm not getting up at four o'clock in the morning so I can get on the ice to practice before school or work. And I'm not in a pool or on a track so many hours a day that I don't have time to work a regular job. There aren't long hours of physical therapy to correct whatever injuries I've inflicted on myself in the pursuit of perfection. So far I've had hand cramps from writing longhand and a bruised ego from rejection notices. No surguries or therapy required. Yet.

So the lesson here, for me, is to quit whining. To just do it, as the ad says. Now we all know it won't stick. I'll be complaining again soon enough. But for now I'm going to take a page from these incredible men and women. Do the work.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How Cute Is This?


Yes, I'm doing this instead of increasing my page count. So sue me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Twitter-pated

Crazy girl. Another distraction.

I actually signed up for Twitter a few months ago. Sean McCann of Great Big Sea has a Twitter account--GreatBigSean. It was fun to read his snippets about the band, being on the road and especially about being a mostly stay-at-home dad of a two-year-old. Amy's on Twitter because of work, so she says. ;-) But neither of them post very often so I'd only check it once or twice a week online. I don't have it set up to go to my cell phone.

Then yesterday, I got a note that someone named BigDaddyMe is "following" me. You can follow people, like I do Sean and Amy, and they can follow you if they'd like, like Amy but not Sean. More's the pity. Anyway, I clicked on his profile and can't tell if I know this person or not. Now here's where you can fall down the rabbit hole. You can see who someone is following. On BigDaddyMe's list was Peter Hilleren, one of my old MSTie pals. So I decided to follow Peter. Now Peter is following Courtney (who has commented here and is linked at the right). Then I started searching for names from my past. And I found Cheryl. Someone I've been out of touch with since I lost my old Yahoo! account. Groovy, huh?

So now I have to check it a bit more often. Maybe see if I can figure out how to get them to show up on the dreaded, not yet loved, cell phone.

Anyone else here tweeting? Yes, that's what they call it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Have I Done?

I just signed up for American Icon is what I've done.

Panic attack already starting.

It's one of those get outside your comfort zone things that Ali-demon loves to talk about. And I realized last night that I've been avoiding reading at Icon. The first year I was there to cheer on Geoff and Moe. Second year I was there to cheer on Bret. Last year I wasn't there but still cheered on Jenny. But I never even considered getting up there myself. Like most people, I hate standing in front of a crowd.

So that's why I'm doing it. Because I don't want to--if that makes any sense. I'm also submitting a proposal to the PPW Conference planning committee to give a workshop on how to make a magazine editor happy. Again, standing in front of strangers. And not just reading, but teaching. Yikes!

Am I crazy? Well, yeah. You already knew that. But there is a method to my madness. The more I do things like this now, the easier it will get. The ultimate goal is to get those books published and sold and, fingers tightly crossed, on the Best Seller lists. Which means interviews and readings and the like. Better I make a fool of myself now in a local venue where I know most of the people than on a larger scale. Chances are I'll still find a way to make a fool of myself, but maybe not as big a one.

Okay, I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag now.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wow! And Disappointment

First the Wow! Dark Knight would have knocked my socks off had I been wearing any. Very dark, very disturbing. Without going into spoilage territory for the handful of people who haven't seen it yet, it's about choices and where a person draws the line and then what would make them cross that line if anything. Add the additional layer of a tour de force performance by Heath Ledger and the obvious thought of what he might have been able to do as he matured even more as an actor and it gets darker and more disturbing. Great performances by all, with maybe the exception of Maggie Gyllenhall who seemed to be trying for a Katie Holmes impersonation.

Now for the disappointment. Not total, but enough. As promised, I picked up my copy of Breaking Dawn, the final installment of the Twilight series, on Saturday morning and dove in. All seven hundred and fifty-four pages of it. Even with it being the longest book in the series, it didn't seem to have the bloat the other three did. One of the things I like about the books is the humor--particularly from Edward and his brother Emmett and that's in brilliant evidence. And I have a feeling that the teenage readers will be thrilled with it. Let me just say before the break that I think Meyer copped out. And that makes me want to retract what I wrote about the first 3 books. To rate them lower than I did on first reading. Not the way you want fans to react.

Again, I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but I would say that if you plan to read the series yourself, STOP HERE--POTENTIAL BREAKING DAWN SPOILERS AHEAD (highlight with cursor if you want to read it):

Early on there is a choice one of the main characters has to make. It should be a difficult and scary choice that at least takes into consideration another character's opinion. There is no hesitation nor consideration. Just, done. There could be dire consequences, but no. Meyer's religious bias is apparent. I wouldn't have had a problem with the choice, if there had been some deliveration at least. And throughout the book there is not one bit of sacrifice on the part of the main character. None. Gets everything without losing anything. Makes it sort of hollow. And sad in a way.

So a fifty-fifty weekend. Although I devoted a lot more time to consuming Breaking Dawn, I have and will spend much more time thinking about Dark Knight.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Looms

Actually, August jumps up and smacks me upside the head. I did pretty well on my July goals. To recap, they were:

Outline changes for first bit of Vesta.
Write at least 50 pages of Vesta.
Complete 3 CWC critiques.
Get to 150 pages of MMG rewrite.

I completed all but the last one. And I made it to 85 pages (from 49) on that so I'm not beating myself up too much over it.

See sidebar for goals this month. Do the critiques, of course. Two pages a day **Changed due to upping the page count I want and Ali-demon's challenge** on Vesta, which should alleviate the 2-week mad dash at the end of September. And finish the MMG rewrites. Finally. And for good. With what I did on it this past week, it's feeling doable. I'm ready to take it a little different direction. To make the cuts that need to be made and the changes that are warranted. It feels right. Things seem to be clicking into place. Or I could be totally off base.

But I don't think so. Not this time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Magic, Insanity or Both?

So, since July 12th, I have read all three of the Twilight series books. All 1,792 pages of them. I bought the first book in the series months ago, and it's been sitting on the nightstand ever since. I finally decided to pick it up and read through it. I did so in about four sittings. The same with New Moon, the second book. Then Friday afternoon, I left work, bought the third book, Eclipse, and finished it Saturday afternoon.

For those of you, like me two weeks ago, who have little to no knowledge of what these books are, I'll give you a little recap trying to avoid as many spoilers as possible. They are YA fantasy about a high school junior named Bella Swan. She moves from Phoenix to the small town of Forks, WA, to live with her father, the town sheriff, after her mother remarries. She falls in love with Edward Cullen and becomes close to his whole "family"--all vampires who have sworn off using humans as food. In the second book we find out that her slightly younger friend, Jacob, is a werewolf. Many problems ensue, not least of which is that werewolves and vampires hate each other and both Jacob and Edward want Bella for their own.

What is it about these books at this time? Damned if I know. They are certainly not flawless. In fact, many flaws when I think about it. The old vampire vs. werewolf device. The tortured vampire with a conscience. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks cliche. Torn between two lovers. Then there are the technical issues. All three books are too long because of repetition of scenes. Overuse of certain words or images. One of the characters (Alice, one of my favorites actually) 'dances' everywhere. It's nice the first time to get across how tiny and graceful she is. After three books, it's just annoying. In the 3rd book, everyone starts to say "Ugh" when they don't like something. And Charlie, the sheriff, is clueless about what's going on. He doesn't like Edward on principal at first and then for a better reason in book 2, but when Bella keeps showing up injured, he never says "Hey, your boyfriend's abusive, I'm arresting him." It's "oh, my poor clumsy little girl." Nuh uh. Jacob, supposedly a sympathetic character, just acts like a whiney, manipulative little kid. I don't see him as being a viable threat to Edward romantically so the whole "who will she choose" question seems contrived.

But there are great moments, too. Some very human. Some that are funny or exciting or insightful and are because of the vampires or werewolves. There is a battle prep scene with Alice and her mate that is hilarious. And Alice, who sees the future, and Edward, who can read thoughts, play out an entire chess match in about three minutes--all in their heads. I get annoyed with Bella, too, but that's because a lot of her reactions and decisions are what a teenager would probably do, and from an adult perspective, it's stupid.

The thing is that by about the third chapter of book one, I was hooked. There's a feeling I get when I read or watch certain things. It's not quite hairs standing up on my neck, it's more a tingling sensation at the base of my brain. The feeling seems to say, "This is for you." And very possibly 3 million others, but still... Very hard to describe, but I've come to think of it as my Hill Street Blues feeling. That's the first TV show that made me aware of it. Certainly not the first I was hooked on, but the first that I identified the feeling and knew I would love the show. Thirtysomething, Lost, X-Files, Dr. Who, Pushing Daisies are all shows I am/was obsessive about and all gave me that feeling. The Harry Potter books do that. Some, but not all, Gaiman and Atwood books do it. I think Lord of the Rings probably did and Little House books before that. And these silly books.

So what do these disparate things have in common? Good solid characters (which is funny when you read the descriptions of Edward, but I digress). There is something just a little different or off about the world and/or the world view. The storytelling pulls you along. You want to know what happens next. If it's a TV show and the "to be continued" card comes up at the end, you may just throw something at the screen. If it's a book, you keep turning pages even if it's an hour past bedtime and you have to get up early. "Just one more chapter." It's what Jenny called Magic last night. If I knew how to bottle it, I'd be rich.

Is it embarrassing to be the age I am and hooked on a YA series? Not after the Harry Potter phenomenon. Disconcerting maybe, but not embarrassing. I don't think Meyer is quite on a level with Rowling. Fewer books appealing to a much narrower demographic for one thing. And while Rowling does tend to get longwinded in the later books, I didn't notice the same number of technical issues that I do with Meyer. Although I will not be in line at midnight on Friday, I know I'll be at B&N on Saturday morning for my copy of Breaking Dawn, the final book in the series.

And I'll finish it well before the Pirate meeting on that Monday night.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Done!

With time to spare for another once over on the critiques. Anything more I write before Monday is gravy.

Phew!

Motivation

I've been following Ali's blog on getting her 50 pages together for CWC next week. What's funny is that my word count has pretty much matched hers on each of her posts. This morning I have 7 pages to go--as did Ali as of her last post.

But it haven't been racing her, trying to meet or beat her word-count. Competition wasn't my motivation. The closest I can come to naming it is 'Fear'. Fear of disappointing my group and myself. Fear of being the first to miss the deadline. Of looking ridiculous or showing myself as not being up for this. Fear of failure.

It worked pretty well. Not that I recommend a steady diet of it. It does wear on the psyche.

So how do I keep motivated once the 50 or 55 or 72 pages I get together by Saturday for printing and such are complete if I don't employ the fear factor? I'm hoping the big Mo keeps me going. Momentum is a wonderful thing. It's what happens after you work out those kinks in the writing muscles by just doing the writing. Butt in chair, pen on paper (or fingers on keyboard) and writing. One word, sentence, paragraph, page, scene, chapter at a time.

I'm liking what I'm producing. That helps, too. It's not anywhere close to perfect, but I'm going in directions that surprise me. And that usually means I'm doing something right. The group will let me know if that's true. But until then, I'm going to work on another scene.

And then another after that. This is getting to be fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Who - I'm Free (Isle of Wight)

My doctor's exam yesterday was great. I am now free to eat whatever. And before the groovy summer fresh fruit and veggie season is over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Holy Crap!

As Ali pointed out we only have two weeks until we have to submit again. Argh! How can that be?

I wrote some over the weekend, but it was like exercising after taking a month off. My creative muscles weren't exactly happy about it. I'm not sure I stand by my decision to take said month off in order to wait for feedback. Just hit me this week that even if I was going down the wrong road, I'd have pages done. Pages that could be edited. D'oh! Won't make that bonehead mistake again.

Time to keep pushing through. I'm not sure where that leaves the revision of MMG. It still feels like that needs to be my priority, but I've signed on for CWC (FCWC?--I'm liking that Fountain Creek thing again) and it is a good thing. It's making this whole writing thing real. As Jenny said to me, "It's a job. A good job, but a job." With deadlines and accountability and all that good stuff.

So time to suck it up and just do the work. How and when to finish MMG will work itself out. And it's not like I was burning up the revisions before the new group started. So if I am serious--and I believe I am--then I'll find a way to get it done.

Nothing like a little panic-driven self pep talk to get motivated.

Monday, July 7, 2008

June's Gone, July's Here

Wow! A week into July and I still haven't done a post mortem on June. See post below for excuses.

My goals for June were:

--Finish rewrite of MMG. I'm at 50 pages. No where near finished.
--Continue research of Tarot, crystals and all things metaphysical. DONE
--Finish both critiques for CWC. DONE
--Graciously receive feedback on Vesta. DONE--at least I hope so
--Do critique of HM for D.B. DONE
--Outline TNN with new ideas. NOT EVEN CLOSE

So for July, I'm taking it just a bit easier on myself.

--Do 100 pages of rewrites for MMG.
--Write 50 pages of Vesta.
--Complete CWC critiques.

Let's see if I can make it through these tasks. I'm dropping the reoutline of TNN, because I've got enough on my plate with a rewrite and a new-write and critiques. I don't want to muddy the waters even more with a third novel in the mix.

Good Feedback

I had meant to post about this last Tuesday, but I made a very impulsive decision on Monday to take off the rest of last week so I could spend more time with Miss Elizabeth and her parents. Overall a good decision, although I'm paying for it a bit today because of the stack of things in my inbox. She is very much a 3-year-old with flashes of 40. Too much fun.

My favorite thing is that she says that pink is green because her father hates pink and loves green. Not bad, eh?

Anyway, received my feedback on Vesta from the CWC last Monday night. If anyone can get me in publishing shape, it's this lot. There was a lot of great discussion and wonderful suggestions on how to make it better. My favorite bit? That everyone said this was the best thing of mine they'd read. Talk about an ego boost. Of course, later that evening I wondered just how bad the previous writing was. But that's my issue, not theirs. I have a lot of work to do by the end of the month, but I am glad that I decided not to continue until I had feedback on the first bit. I may not wait next time, but at least I'll know I'm headed in generally the right direction.

I enjoyed Ali's and Fleur's submissions last month. I hope the feedback I gave them was half as helpful as what I received. And I'm looking forward to reading Jenny, Mary and Shane. It's been a while, especially for Mary and Shane. I'd like to get the reading done this week so I can concentrate on my own writing. Then I'll review the day of the meeting so the stories are fresh.

A lot of work on both sides, but I'm thinking it's going to be so worth it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shaking Things Up

"I'm sick and tired of waiting for dreams that never come." Walk on the Moon by GBS

"The hardest part of life is to live while you're alive." Here And Now by GBS

I just finished listening to Fortune's Favour by Great Big Sea for the first time. Wow! As I stated in an earlier post, the sample songs had a me a little worried about how pop-py the songs sounded. And the album is probably the most pop-oriented one they've ever done, including Something Beautiful.

There's a maturity here. While there's still some melancholy--the predominant emotion on SB--it's tempered with a "but isn't life still cool?" attitude. Not surprising when you think that all The B'yes are right around 40, married and at least two of the three have kids now. What is surprising is that given that, being in the game for 15 years and their past success they are so willing to shake things up.

We still have the three traditional songs: England, Banks of Newfoundland, Rocks of Merasheen. They still play tin whistle, bodhran, bouzouki, banjo, etc. on the pop songs. There's the mix of uptempo offerings and ballads, etc. Even a couple songs that stray into the realm of country (Sean's influence, I'm sure). But the production is much more sophisticated than anything we've heard from them. This one may be at the top of my favorites list.

One little quibble is that there isn't an a capella song on the album. However, they made up for it by giving one as a bonus if you pre-ordered from their website. So I'm good with that.

You may have a hard time finding it at your local record shop, but it's worth the effort because of the bonus DVD that shows them at work in the studio. Come on, we all love to see the creative process, don't we. But it's also available on iTunes for just $9.99.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another Week...

And another week behind.

You don't want to hear about no time.

You don't want to hear about how other things crowd in and my time goes away.

You don't want to hear about getting a few minutes and then not having the energy to do anything.

Hell, I don't want to hear it.

Maybe I should just go make something happen.

I'll let you know how that works out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Wisdom of Ira

It's no secret that I'm a fan of many shows on National Public Radio. None more than This American Life with host Ira Glass. If you're not familiar with the show, they pick a theme each week and then present anywhere from one to four stories based on that theme. You can download podcasts for free at www.thisamericanlife.org Start on the Our Favorites page. They won't steer you wrong. And the first season of their Showtime television version is available on DVD.

Saturday night Colorado College played host to Ira Glass. Since Nicole and I had previously expressed our admiration for Mr. Glass (okay, we both have crushes on him), we bought our tickets and went to see him. I wasn't sure what to expect. The ticket said it was a lecture. What would he lecture us on? Politics? The state of public radio?

Storytelling. And that's the thing about the radio show. They are all great storytellers. And Ira showed us just how they do it. Part of it is the music used underneath the stories. But that's a small part of it. The voice talent is another part of it. Ira Glass, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell and many more. But those are pretty specific to radio. The biggest parts are what we can use in our writing every single day.

Here are the highlights:

--"Tell stories about people others can relate to." Not over-the-top larger than life cardboard cutouts. Who cares about them?
--"Keep the action moving forward." That's what causes 'driveway moments' in public radio and page turning in fiction.
--"Allow for all emotions." The most compelling stories aren't just moving or funny or tragic. They are all of those things and perhaps more.
--"Anecdote/reflection." This is equivalent to scene/sequel in writing. Here's the event and then here's how the event relates to the bigger picture.
--"Good narrative can save your life." Okay, this was said specifically in reference to Scheherazade and the 1001 nights, but I think it still applies to all storytelling.

He was very funny and charming and informative. All with the flu and a fever. Which was a lesson in and of itself. If people show up to hear you, then you should still entertain them no matter how you feel.

So now I'm going to see if I can take these lessons and apply them to my own writing. I already know that the right voice is important, even for words on paper. And maybe I can even try to do the written equivalent of putting the right kind of music under my words.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Heroes and Genre

Over on Marie's blog (see new entry under Friends of Debbie), she discusses the phenomenon of wanting favorite authors to have lived lives as exciting as the ones they write about. She uses Jane Austen and the highly fictionalized movie about her brief acquaintance with a gentleman as an example.

I think we do that with all of our heroes. We want them to have lived extraordinary lives before they create extraordinary works. Even with politicians, business moguls, athletes, etc. Because if they were just ordinary before they did these things, well then, why aren't the rest of us ordinary folk doing extraordinary things?

But I think with authors there's another level to it. And it has to do with genre. In order to write in a particular genre, one should look and be a certain way. Face it, we want horror writers to look like Stephen King or speak like Alfred Hitchcock. And romance authors should be beautiful, sexy women who've had dozens of exciting lovers. Only ex-Navy Seals or other special ops veterans can write a good thriller, right? Mystery/crime authors are British men who smoke pipes, and cozy mysteries are written by little old gray-haired ladies with a dozen cats each. Sci-fi writers are geeks with thick glasses. Fantasies, well I picture Neil Gaiman, but I think the standard would be a stuffy old professor of ancient runes. Literary fiction? Too cool for school New Yorker, born and bred. Can't be more than thirty either. Women's fiction? Thirty-something career woman turned housewife.

I'm not sure any of the Pirates fit the mold. Except maybe Bret, who spent 20 years in the Navy. Jenny looks nothing like Stephen King. Shane's pretty cool, but he's from California. Mary, too, is cool but from right here in Colorado. I'm neither 30-something nor a housewife. Ali, not stuffy or old. Nicole, ditto. DB would hit me if I ever called her a little, old lady. Hard. Fleur isn't a British man and I've never seen her smoke a pipe, but who knows? John hasn't settled on a genre, and may not, why should he? But given the examples above, he looks like he could be ex-special ops so he'll have to write straight thrillers.

So we're all doomed. Except, the stereotype is, as all stereotypes are, ridiculous. We don't have to be struggling, depressed, starving artists to write wonderful stories. We don't have to put everything into our work and let our characters lead our lives for us. We can just write. And just live. And be ordinary or extraordinary as we see fit and still create wonderful, magical, incredibly beautiful works.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dang!

Another month just done flew by. What were my goals for May?

-10 chapters of MMG rewrite. I did 3 chapters for a total of 22 pages. I'll take it.
-Polish Vesta so far and submit to CWC. DONE
-Research Tarot and crystals. ONGOING
-Write 25 additional pages of Vesta. Decided to wait until I get the feedback at the end of June so I know whether or not I'm going in the right direction.

It was amazing how much polishing I felt I had to do for Vesta before I turned it over. This is a tough group, and I don't want to give them anything other than my best. Of course, now that I've said that I'm waiting to get a "That was your best?" from one or two. Or all five.

So June. If I'm not going to work on Vesta until after the meeting on the 30th, I should be able to devote all my time to revision. Right? Jenny's really pushing the envelope on her goals this month (see link at right). And since I'm not at all competitive, I'll say:

--Finish MMG revision. Let's face it, it's about freakin' time.
--Continue research on Tarot, crystals and all things metaphysical.
--Finish critiques for CWC. Only 2 this month for me.
--Graciously receive feedback on Vesta.
--Do critique of HM for D.B.
--Outline TNN again with new ideas to make it even ickier. If that's possible.

I don't think it's as ambitious as Jenny's, but it feels like a bit more than my limit so I'm pushing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

I was invited to be guest critiquer (shouldn't it be just critic?) at the PPW Open Critique last night. As I've never attended the event, I wasn't sure quite what to expect beyond the little bit I'd been told. People bring in pages and pass out copies to the attendees. Everyone reads for a certain amount of time. Then they go around the circle and give feedback. The "special guest" basically bats clean-up and gives a longer critique on what works and what doesn't with suggestions. I have to say that I didn't think it would be particularly pleasant.

As the day progressed, my prophesy seemed to be right on. There was no information on the PPW website about how many pages are allowed or how many copies to make. I didn't receive an email giving me a heads up as to how many people had registered. By the time I left work, tired, I was hoping that maybe no one would make it. Then I arrived at Cottonwood (where most PPW small events are held) to find that the classroom we normally use was occupied by an art class. The person in charge (PIC) of the event wasn't there. But neither were any other writers. Maybe I'd get home much earlier than expected.

No such luck. Two woman arrived. Both were new to PPW and the Open Critique and looked to me for answers. I had none. But we chatted about writing and PPW. They were very nice. The PIC arrived and informed us that they always use a little table near the back entrance. How silly of me not to have thought of that!

Eight people attended besides the PIC and me. Six of them brought pages to be critiqued. PIC spent a lot of time calculating how much time to allow for reading and feedback, giving me extra time to share my expertise. Somewhere around the sixth computation, I had to physically hold myself in the chair to keep from bolting.

Finally, the first pages were passed around, and we started reading. It wasn't bad. All description and not much action for six pages, but the guy knew his setting. Some good humor and character building. Just move the description into actiony scenes. And he was good about taking feedback. Cool.

Some of the others were really good, others needed a little more work. But there wasn't anything that made me cringe to read--except for the subject matter of one of the memoirs which I won't go into here. Two left me wanting to read the whole book and the other memoir might be my cup of tea with a little work. Except for not getting out until 9:00 (a half hour after the promised stop time), it wasn't bad.

I was thanked graciously and told I'd be invited back.

Yeah, about that......

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Year

Wow! When I started this a year ago, I never believed I'd make it a week much less a year. The results have been sketchy, at best, but it has been a learning experience. And a community of sorts has grown--starting with Ali and Jenny as all things seem to do. Now there's John and Mishell and Marie and Whit. And I've discovered Pat, The Writing Nag, and Lauri and Barb S. and the Eavesdrop Writer and, one of my very favorites, Overheard Lines. And reconnected with Courtney and her blog, where I found out she knits, and beads and does other nifty crafts.

So, all in all, a positive experience.

With the occasional Refresh of Shame.

Here's to another, more prolific, year.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Four Pretty Whole Days

A three-day weekend is a real gift to a writer with a day job. A four-dayer is a windfall. My outstanding boss announced yesterday that we get an extra day in addition to Memorial Day. Huzzah! I'm taking Tuesday.

The day before one of these weekends is a bit strange. Usually, I'm swamped. But since I'm covering upstairs for Giovanna today, I did all my last minutes yesterday. So I'm here basically to answer the phone and check emails. And the day before a holiday weekend is notoriously slow. Lots of free time to ponder 96 hours and what to do with them. Of course, I'll clean the house. And mow the lawn. Not too much time there--5 to 6 hours if get really picky and wash windows and trim around the edges. Maybe check out Territory Days in Old Colorado City. That's a few hours. Run to Home Depot for a new screen door for the patio. An hour. Sunday dinner with the gang. Let's face it--that can take 6 hours if they finish early with critiques. Maybe a movie. Three hours total. 32 hours for sleep, if I'm lucky. That leaves 45 hours. Wow. 5 pages an hour if I'm cooking, say 2 if I'm having to dig for it. At worst that's 90. At best it's a really short novel.

Now we all know that ain't gonna happen because I'm going to watch television and check everyone's blogs and email and call my aunt and talk for who knows how long (our record is over three hours), but there's still a big possibility to knock out a lot of revisions.

I'm psyched.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Critiquing

Critiquing isn't something that has been happening often for me anymore. I gave out MMG last summer for feedback, got it, that's it. [and after reading that I realize what a huge slacker I am for not getting the damn revisions done] I read FJR for Jenny and a couple chapters of things here and there. But formal, every month you've got to submit and/or critique x number of pages just hasn't been on the agenda for a couple years now. (Wow! It has been two years. Time flies when your involved with Pirates.) So now critiquing is back on the menu.

A few of us who have one novel done, and maybe languishing, and are well on the way to finishing another have decided to get serious about this thing. 6 people. 3 a month submit between 50-100 pages. Not "you can submit" but "you will submit." Yikes. Now 50 pages in 2 months is less than a page a day. No sweat, huh? Right. And we have an obligation to do our best critiquing of what the others submit. Potentially 300 pages a month to scrutinize.

What's funny is how everyone was "I really need this" and "This is going to be great" "what a cool idea" in the initial planning stage. And it is great. And I did need it. And it's kinda cool. But the enormity of the thing is setting in. The faces were much more serious last night. I already had enough pages of Vesta to submit, but it took me a week to get them in the shape I wanted. I am worried about next time around, though. I've decided that since the book isn't done, I'll wait until I get the feedback to work on the next part. One of the nice things about every other month submissions is that you can react to the feedback. But that leaves only one month for 50 pages. And I've set myself a goal of trying to get closer to the 100 so I can finish faster. Because, well, that's just me. Serious. Enormous. Needed.

I have another critiquing duty this month, too. PPW has asked me to be guest critic at their Open Critique event on Wednesday the 28th. People bring in the first 5-6 (I think) pages. Everyone there reads it in the group. Then the other participants give feedback. I'll be the clean-up batter and say why I would or wouldn't accept it as an editor. Let's hope I remember my critiquing newbies tact.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Comparisons

I'm currently reading The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. It's about a woman who goes back to her home town, Templeton, to figure out what to do after an ill-advised love affair with her married professor results in pregnancy. But home isn't the quite the safe haven she expected it to be. I bought the book because Templeton is a fictionalized Cooperstown, NY. My sister and her family lived there in the eighties, so some of the places are familiar.

Compared to JS&MN I'm whizzing through this one. More than halfway through in just a few days. And as the tension is building, I'll probably finish before the weekend. And that leads me to my pondering for the day.

Do books benefit or suffer because of the book they follow? This is a much shorter book (only 300 or so pages) with shorter chapters than JS&MN. The writing is more modern, although still with beautiful descriptions and well-drawn characters, and more accessible. But would I be enjoying it quite as much without having just spent over a month on the previous read? I know the converse is true. I've had to put a book aside that I knew I'd like because it followed something that I loved, and it didn't quite make it to the same level.

Makes me wonder if I mightn't be better off hanging out with a crowd of lesser writers instead of the wonderful scribes who populate the Pirates. Then my stuff would look awesome in comparison. Of course, this way, I'm forced to really try to get my best work in front of them. And that's really what helps me in the long run.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pirates and Palette Cleansers

Not two things one would normally put together, but that's what happened Monday evening. At the Pirate gathering, we talked about the books we were currently reading or had just finished. Since I had just made it through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--a good book, but loooong--I said I was looking for something short and light as a palette cleanser. "What would that be?" Jenny asked. Good question. For me it depends what I've been either reading a lot of or having trouble getting through. Usual cleansers are:

--Margaret Atwood
--Neil Gaiman
--A good funny book
--Short stories
--A good mystery (Sometimes easier said than done. Just ask D.B.)
--Children's/YA since I'm always looking for books to recommend to the nieces and nephews
--Maybe non-fiction

I don't usually go for things like chick lit or romance, the usual easy reading fare. Predictable and poorly written just don't relax me. And before I get a ton of nasty comments, I know there are good reads in both genres, but I haven't found many lately. Could be I'm looking in the wrong places, but there are a lot of things I'm pretty sure I'll like already on the nightstand, and on the bookshelves and stacked in the corner so searching is a low priority for me right now.

Any particular genre or writer you turn to when you've been reading things that are too heavy or not your cup of tea?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Walk On The Moon

I keep forgetting to post the link to first singles from Great Big Sea's upcoming album, Fortune's Favour, due out on June 24th. The new singles are Walk On The Moon, Here And Now and Love Me Tonight. All feature Alan Doyle on the lead and have a more commercial pop feel than most of their original fare. They also have three of my favorites from previous albums: Feel It Turn (Sean), Consequence Free and Ordinary Day. Check it out for yourself and compare.

Just go to http://www.greatbigsea.com/ On the right side of the page is a link that looks like this:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Goals

Still in that poor me phase. Just found out that I'll be on this bland diet at least through the middle of July. Oh boy! At least I've found a couple more canned veggies I'm allowed. And frozen spinach is okay. I've now added a dark green (the spinach), an orange (carrots) and a red (beets) to the repetoire along with a new light green (asparagus). Dropped the peas--those things have way more calories than their size should allow. And I'll be cutting back on the fruits. Again with the calories. The up side of all of this is that I've joined myfooddiary.com to track what I'm eating so I know that I'm getting my nutrients without too much fat, cholesterol or calories. This may be what I needed to jump start the weight loss process.

So how'd I do with my April writing goals? Not so hot. Not much with actual revision on MMG, although I did work on it in my head. Check out Kristin Nelson's recents blogs about back cover copy. The idea of the 'plot catalyst' that should happen within the first thirty pages helped me solidify what actually is mine. Not Kitty's mother dying--that happens before the book starts. Nope, it's the first haunting of her brother that really sets things in motion for her. Duh! And I worked a little bit on Vesta. Picked up some more books for research on Tarot and crystals, which will both figure in the story.

New goals? Actually write the first ten chapters of revisions on MMG--that's one per weekend. Type up what I have so far on Vesta with the few changes I've decided will put her in more peril. Peril=conflict=good. Continue research on metaphysical themes.

That's fairly ambitious, but I've been a slacker for way too long. Time to Cowboy Up as the amazing Jenny says.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thankful For Small Blessings

I got back to work Wednesday morning. When I came in my to-do list had 4 things on it from the previous week. Not too bad. By the end of the day I'd completed 8 items with 7 left over. Thursday I completed 10 items and had 15 left over. Yes, I'm moving backwards this week. Watch me defy the laws of physics soon!

This morning while I was getting ready I started feeling pretty sorry for myself. I'm on this icky diet, I'm exhausted and I have 15 things to try to check off my list along with anything else that might just land on it. Poor me. So I pull out the new bottle of makeup I bought yesterday. The brand is called Boots and it's sold at Target. One of the reasons I picked it up was because they actually have testers in the store. No guessing at whether it matches or not. Cool. Usually you can only test makeup at boutique stores or department stores. I'm not big on shopping (except for books and craft supplies) so I hate going to the mall to do that.

Then I started thinking about the first job I had when I moved to Colorado. I worked at May D&F department store in the Women's Better Sportswear Department. Yes, I got to deal on a daily basis with just the type of women that description brings to mind. Most were okay. Some were just over the top. On Christmas Eve day they pulled me over to the perfume counter to help out because a lot of men wait to the last minute to shop then have no idea what to get so they go to two counters--perfume and jewelry. By the time my shift ended at 6:00 p.m., my head was splitting from having dozens of different perfumes sprayed at me and on me so they could be tested.

So today could be worse.