Saturday, December 30, 2006
We visited Mount Vernon yesterday. I want it. Not it, specifically, but a nice-sized colonial house on a hill overlooking a body of water and some trees and maybe a mountain or two. The ocean would be fine as an alternative, and if there was a giant, ancient oak tree as part of the view? Excellent.
I just got home from a fabulous visit with my brother, his wife, her sister and brother-in-law, and said sister's two delightful kids. The older one got sick, so we didn't see her as much as we'd have liked, but the younger one came with us to the new Air and Space Museum and she was a lot of fun.
I didn't even know they'd built this new site, near Dulles Airport. It's an old hangar, or built like a hangar, and it's chock full of planes of all sizes, and all the space stuff, including the Enterprise shuttle. We did a ride in the simulator to visit the international space station and had ice cream. There were tons of artifacts, and an air traffic controller exhibit, and really friendly, knowledgable staff. I highly recommend it. Free admission, $12 per car for parking, so load up the minivan to go.
The kids were exhausted, though. Number two was up until 1:00 a.m. Wednesday night at a friends, and past 10 the last three nights (including tonight), and Number one was up until past 10 for four nights, so they didn't enjoy the museum as much, and I anticipate them to be cranky brats tomorrow. C'est la vie.
The best part was something my brother and sister-in-law told us, that I can't repeat. It's their private info to blog about. Or it would be, if either one of them blogged. If you're one who should know, you will eventually.
Came home to my own cranky brattiness, however. Dog got into litter box, messed all over the rug in the living room. After I cleaned it up, I found a wet hand towel from the hotel packed in with the laundry. The soaking wet, smelly laundry, now. Good thing I started unpacking instead of lying around on the bed watching football like someone else I could mention. Then when I tried to pull something off the pile dumped on the dining room table, I apparently knocked not only a single book to the floor, but a pen cup from the baker's rack behind me. Which prompted my husband to tell me to "calm down" and other such foolish things. I called him condescending and jerky. Which he was. He called me bitchy. Which I also was. But here's the thing: After 18 years, don't you think he'd REMEMBER that saying such things just prolongs what is probably already settling down? Just leave me alone, and I'll be fine. I can manage my own tantrums. Don't blow on them to keep them going.
I got my last shipment of Bombshells today. It's sad. I love these books. Luckily, one is a Medusa book, my second favorite miniseries, and one is the final book of the Madonna Key, by one of my favorite Bombshell authors and a crossover with a previous miniseries that is my favorite. One is by an author whose books I always love, and the other is by an author who writes well and is the last of a trilogy that will be nice to complete, though the heroine is a very silly triplet who is now a vampire and is in first person.
Here's the final annoyance of the night, though. As a writer targeting Bombshell, I have known since the decision was made that they were terminating the line. Regular readers did not, and Harlequin didn't see fit to notify its book club members until this final shipment. They included two free Harlequin Intrigues, claiming the "editors" said that was the line closest to Bombshell. I appreciate two free books. I don't appreciate being automatically enrolled in the Intrigue book club. If I wanted to be, I already would be. In a bit of bitter irony, they have given me two books that are almost the total opposite of Bombshell. In one, the heroine is a victim is something who is rescued by an arrogant, credit-stealing man she hates but apparently has flaming lust for. The other features a hero who is a special agent or something whose only hope is the woman he spurned, whose parents warned her against him. I mean, come ON. These are anti-Bombshells. I'll try them, but I have a hard time getting through books like that anymore.
I just got up to fix my tea and found my half and half frozen. The butter behind it seems to be frozen as well, but the corn under the butter and the Gogurt next to the half and half are both fine. I wonder if I should be worried about my refrigerator.
Tomorrow is the last regular football game of the season, and that makes me sad, too. Even though the Patriots are going to the playoffs and therefore will play at least one more game, it means I'm facing eight months without the game. Seems like a very short time ago we were reassuring each other that we were only halfway through the season.
So 2006 is ending with a lot of endings. Some expected, some temporary, but all leaving a feeling of sadness. Which isn't what I expected of 2006 at all. We started the year with the decision that I would quit my day job in June. My last day of work was second only to my first day at the new job. Despite some difficulties adjusting and the other difficulties reduced income automatically brings, and despite the fact that nothing has come of it yet, I have loved being a full-time writer. I never want to be anything else. So what I really want is for 2006 to have been "out with the old" and now 2007 will be the "in with the new." I'm more than ready for it.
Luckily, no matter what happens with my writing, and to counter the sadness of the endings, TV will be returning to new episodes soon. There are also a great many Movie Events I'm looking forward to, and I don't care if they are all sequels. Sequel is no longer an evil word, like it was back in my childhood when Rocky V and Lethal Weapon IV were expected to suck, and did. Or like it was in that period (unfortunately not over) when sequels were movies with the same name but totally different characters, an inferior and likely really stupid plot, and often straight to DVD.
To all who are taking time to read this blog, thank you, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Cracks me up constantly. Plus there are some really hot shots in there.
One of my favorite songs, nicely timed to my favorite active TV show.
This one is amusing, but this one...
...shows how even favorites can be reduced to the ridiculous.
Ah, but this one!
This one is my all-time favorite. Sammy's bitchfaces and Dean's stoicism and mild annoyance combined with this great song can make me smile after the worst of days. The timing is superb--really listen to the lyrics while you watch. It's a masterpiece, IMO.
I'll be out of town for a few days so I won't post until Sunday, likely. That one will be about football because it's the last game of the regular season. You've been warned. :)
Next week I'll be posting about my Book List 2006. For the first time in my LIFE I've kept track of every book I read this year, and all the ones I started but didn't finish. I'll analyze the data, share some ratings and some favorites, and either bore you to death or, preferably, turn you on to some great new authors you've never read before.
Like this one:
Monday, December 25, 2006
Today has been a fabulous day. I'm writing this on my brand new Alphasmart Neo. Which means I'll be selling my Alphasmart 3000--send me your best offer. :) The key touch is so much softer/smoother on this, and the screen is bigger. I love it.
Santa was very smart this year. In addition to a ton of books from my Amazon wish list, I got:
a Browncoat bracelet
a Serenity decal for my car window
a Serenity T-shirt
a "Big Damn Hero" T-shirt
trading cards for Lost, Serenity, and Supernatural
"Done the Impossible" documentary DVD and soundtrack CD
Spider-Man movie soundtrack
My kids gave me hand-made ornaments and jewelry an a photo holder.
Much more importantly, though, were the continuous screams when they opened their gifts. Number One knows about Santa for the first time this year, so she was vocal about a couple of Santa's choices (Daddy wanted a new bouncy ball for the Stair Game, and "Santa" didn't have a lot of choice so the one "he" chose was Tigger--because Tigger's bouncy, and it's a bouncy ball!) Number Two was quite disgusted with her socks and underwear. But most of the rest went over well, and we all went deaf when their big gifts, their computers, were revealed. They are very happy children. Mommy and Daddy will be very sore parents in a little while, after we crawl all over the floor getting the computers hooked up.
In a little while we'll go to my in-laws for the family togetherness portion of the holiday, which is always laid-back and fun. We'll take the dog, who suffered greatly this morning by not being able to get to me across the cluttered living room, but seemed quite consoled by her bone from Number Two.
I hope everyone's day is as joyous as mine has been. Merry Christmas!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Again, this is MY top shows, and they might not have been aired this year.
1. Supernatural (Duh)
2. Prison Break (end of season 1 trumps beginning of season 2)
3. Veronica Mars (season 1; season 2 was okay, too; it went downhill from there)
4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (love the dialogue, the acting, the relationships)
I think that's all I can put there. I liked Lost, Smallville, Numb3rs, The Class, and Ugly Betty, and they were appointment TV (well, TiVo appointment) but I can't put them on a best list. The rest of the shows I watched were underwelming, though Eureka made my summer a little more fun.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Usual birthday protocol:
Wake up late. Have breakfast that has been prepared for me by loving husband and kids. Open presents. Luxuriate in chores being done around me that I don't have to do. Maybe write or see a movie or something just for me. Play games with the kids. Have dinner made for me and watch while someone else does the dishes.
Wake at 7:45 to sounds of husband vomiting. Discuss his food poisoning and tell him to stay in bed. Help kids start making pancakes; end up making own pancakes. After doing dishes so there was room to cook. Which made not doing other chores pointless, so I scooped the litter and vacuumed the living room and took Number Two to the library (then, with the library closed, shopping at the bookstore with her birthday gift card that showed up this week even though it was mailed back in April). Cooked dinner, just like any other night. Didn't go to wonderful sister-in-law's party because of lingering dizziness and one-hour drive not a good potential mix.
On the plus side...
I did spend a lot of time sitting and reading. I read an entire, very long book. I finally gave up on Jim being able to get out of bed and opened my presents, which consisted of:
--Five books from my Amazon Wish List (yay!)
--Jack, the action figure from season one of Lost (heee!)
--A New England Patriots Rasta hat (I took a picture and will post it whenever I get around to going into my office)
--Supernatural DVDs!!!!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!
And a couple of lovely cards. Oh, also got great fuzzy socks with a collection of POTC posters from my dad and stepmother, and some gift cards from my brother. He feels impersonal, but he knows me well. :) iTunes, Target, and Starbucks--sounds like an awesome day to me!
I sent the kids out to clean up the back yard, which hadn't been done in far too long. We have a big dog. 'Nuff said.
So that's my quiet, low-key birthday.
Tomorrow is wrapping while watching football, then more wrapping while watching movies after the kids go to bed. My back shall be very sore come Monday morning, but with luck, the squeals and hugs from the kids will be worth it.
To everyone who may visit here on an idle moment over the next three days:
Friday, December 22, 2006
There is the shopping frustration, though. I managed to get everything I wanted to get for the kids. But Jim is always so hard to shop for, even with a list. I've shopped four days in a row, gone to a couple dozen places (sometimes the same place more than once) and there are still two "big" items I can't find. One will just be shifted to the birthday list (he's in February). The other I think I'm going to have to order and then wrap a picture of it or something. Phoo.
Today, I'd barely been out an hour when a migraine hit. Normally I'm lucky. My migraines aren't frequent, and sometimes the pain is no worse than a regular headache (like the one at my cousin's wedding in September). But today...WHEW! The visual disturbance was long-lasting and repeated, and the pain just kept redoubling. I cut off my shopping, asked Jim to do the groceries, and went to bed from 1 to 6. Still hurts, but my pillow no longer feels like a rock. But I didn't get any wrapping done, which means it will all be done on Sunday. My back will be killing me. (Yeah, I know, want some cheese with that whine?)
I thought there was one other thing, but my head hurts and I can't think of it. I'll stop being insufferable now.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
10. Finishing Brianna's Navy SEAL.
I wrote the first two books several years ago, and after that shifted to writing a very different kind of book. Going back was extremely difficult, and the story gave me fits. It's a transitional story, starting out in the same "world" as the first two in the trilogy, but shifting to different kinds of conflicts and adventures. Good news--Darcy's back, being as uber-bitchy as she was in Kira's Best Friend.
9. CPRW's Third Annual All About Me Writing Retreat
There is very little in my writing life more pleasing to me than this retreat. Starting early on Friday and running through lunchtime on Sunday, I am focused 100% on my writing. I'm secluded from distractions and obligations and can write guilt-free. I can ignore my fellow retreaters if I want to, and stay in my room 'round the clock. I never want to, though. We retreat at a facility that has beautiful grounds, and with people I adore. We have huge fun playing games on Saturday night, with laughter so loud we disturb anyone else who's there (last year that was no one, luckily). And how many places does one get to make friends and then be snubbed by a mean old rooster? In 2007 we're extending the retreat by a day, which will make it perfect.
8. Agent interest
On my birthday last year, I received a revision letter from the agent I would really like to represent me. I revised the book, had a great meeting with her in Atlanta in July, and got another revision letter in November. I've sent her something new and she has the full manuscript now. The manuscript that gave me:
7. My critique partners cried
Two of them did, maybe three. One of them called to yell at me for making her cry. In fact, the emotion in the final chapters was strong enough that almost all of them overlooked my two-dimensional, motivationless villain. I fixed that in revisions. I hope.
6. Stretching myself
I figure anything you do differently is stretching yourself, right? So for a while I was concentrating on Bombshell, which meant a focus on the heroine's point of view. I wrote a book that had only her POV, then revised it to single title to add the hero's. Then I wrote another book that was only the heroine's POV, then the partial of one that had both, and in between I wrote a few short stories that had both. But for The Color of Courage, the one that induced crying, I wrote in first person. That was TOTALLY new for me. Those who read my blog regularly know I don't care to read a lot of first person, never mind write it, but it felt right for that book.
In my last two books, I have multiple potential heroes. In The Color of Courage I didn't know, right up to the end, who she'd wind up with. In Under the Moon, I knew, but it broke my heart. I have a threesome in that book, and it was sooooo satisfying to write, as a transition from her old life to her new one.
5. RWA National
What a fabulous event this year. I mean, it always is (I went in 2000, 2003, and 2004, as well). It's great to see all the people I know online and met at past events, and to meet new ones. The workshops are always educational and I always manage to make or enhance at least one professional contact, but the conversations are the best part, whether it's at a party, at a bar or restaurant, or in the lobby.
I hadn't been doing much of that in the past couple of years, but I started a goals group that morphed into a full-support group and a critique group. We're all very different writers, but all skilled enough to benefit each other. The best part has been reading material that's very good, very unique, and not available for anyone else! Bwahahahahaha.
3. Blue Silver
In a collaboration with Ellie Marvel, Megan Hart, Jacki King, and Penny Dawn, I wrote one of five intertwined stories that were unique as a collection AND as individual stories. I never saw five personalities and writing styles complement each other so well, while creating works that dealt with the same central event, writing several same scenes from different points of view, yet ending with such different stories. This will remain on my top ten for life.
I never got to do National Novel Writing Month before. Timing was never right to begin a new book on November 1 and write that much, that fast. Since I'm writing full time, I set my goals higher than the 50K of the program. I reached 50K words on November 19 and finished the book (397 pages/85,658 words) on November 29. I'd never written a book that long, that quickly before. My page count per day ranged from 1 page to 33 pages and hit just about every number in between. The book needs a lot of revision, too, but I have that winner's certificate on the wall--a goal achieved, a milestone reached.
1. Under the Moon
This is my NaNo book. I took an idea I had before (goddess) and an inspiration hammering me the week before it started (the brothers from Supernatural) and just wrote. It's an action-adventure like my other books. A paranormal like half of them. A "surprise" romance in that the hero is not obvious and the story doesn't follow traditional romance conventions. It has a strong heroine who is not prickly and unable to rely (heavily at times) on those she cares about to help her. It also has two delicious men (not brothers, not demon-hunters, and not angsty and conflicted but named Dean and Sam nonetheless *g*) and a world I was excited to revisit every time I turned on my computer. I don't expect to have this experience ever again, but I'm going to savor it forever.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Who doesn't want that? Please note this is my one nod to global needs--all the others are purely selfish; I figure it's a given I want an end to world poverty and illness and so on.
2. Sam and Dean to come to my house for a visit.
Or Jensen and Jared. I'm not picky. And they should come while the Boot Squad is here, to make everyone happy.
3. Signing with the agent I've been working with for a year and a half.
It's not that this is an impossible wish overall--but since she won't read my full until after the holidays, she won't be offering me representation for Christmas *g*
4. A nice publishing contract.
I have two manuscripts under consideration, but again, the timing...
5. A blazing-fast new computer.
My current computer gets bogged down if I try to run more than two programs, and I'm the Queen of Software Multitasking (actually, I'm the Empress of Lost Hope, but that's something else entirely).
6. A new car.
A Mustang convertible would be nice, since the 2006 model year went back to muscle-car lines. But that's not practical for a lot of reasons, so I'm gunning for a Highlander hybrid with lots of convenience features.
7. A new house.
Hey, while we're on the impossible, I'd love a bigger bedroom, an office for my husband, a place where I can put the litter boxes out of sight (and smell), and closets that don't have six-inch shelves.
I've adjusted fine over the last six months to not getting my bathrooms cleaned and my living/dining rooms dusted and vacuumed and my kitchen floor mopped every two weeks. Doesn't mean I like it.
9. Publishing success for all my friends.
Whatever that means to them.
10. An Alphasmart Neo.
A nod to possibility. It's on here, though, because I don't really want anything that expensive. The Supernatural DVDs are enough for me this year. :)
What's on YOUR impossible list?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Hm. I think that's my only supernatural moment in 2006. And even then, it was going off because of cars driving by.
Okay, I'll do My Top Ten Supernatural Moments, instead. Remember, I didn't watch any of the show until this fall, so even if these moments are original to 2005, they're my moments in 2006.
10. The brother fight in Sam's apartment in "Pilot." That's the moment when I was hooked on the show. In the dark, with Sam not knowing who his intruder was, he anticipated Dean's every move (and vice versa) and even got the upper hand at the end.
9. My discovery of "Ode to a Bitchface" on YouTube. A delightful, very well-timed montage that caused me to add a video to my favorites for the very first time, and also to purchase "Mardy Bum" by the Arctic Monkeys.
8. The entire episode "Faith." Sam's determination not to let his brother die was the most touching thing in the first season.
7. Every moment Sam got throttled by whatever supernatural baddie they were trying to kill, until Dean rescued him.
6. Every moment Dean comforted Sam when he was in pain from his visions, whether it was the headaches or the heartache.
5. "Planes crash!"
"And apparently, clowns kill!"
4. The moment Dean admits to Sam that his brother and father are all he has left, and he hates that they don't care if they die on their quest to kill the demon. What he's not saying is that their not caring if they die is making him feel like he doesn't matter to them. They don't wake up to it until he's dying and they have no recourse--except for one of them to sacrifice himself.
3. Sam calling "Dad!" and then yelling, desperately, "Dean!" after the crash.
2. Dean admitting to Sam that he knows their father died in his place and how can Sam possibly make him feel better about that, and that one single tear falls (and also, Dean smashing the trunk of the Impala with a crowbar after Sam tells him he's not all right).
1. The best "moment" is a series of moments in the "fall finale" on December 7:
Sam's been infected by the demon virus.
The others want to kill him, the way they've killed the other psychotic infectives.
Dean won't let them.
Sam firmly and stoically says to give him his gun, he'll do it himself.
Dean gives the Impala to strangers and sends them on their way, ignoring Sam's pleading with him to go.
Sam breaks down when he realizes his brother is going to sacrifice himself.
It gets worse when Dean says he's tired, he can't take this burden anymore.
It culminates, of course, in the later moments at the very end of the show when Dean is about to reveal the secret and they go to black.
I look forward to many, many more moments in 2007 and beyond.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Holidays are, of course, foremost on everyone's minds. Even if you're someone who doesn't celebrate any kind of religious or secular day(s) of joy, peace, remembrance, or presents, you can't help but think about it when it's constantly in your face. For several years I've found myself wanting to do the minimum. I don't decorate more than the tree and stockings, haven't helped put up the outside lights (luckily, the kids are old enough to do the ladder stuff so they helped Daddy this year), change the channel when holiday music comes on the radio. We've made a fundamental shift to gift cards and cash for many of our outside presents and only shop for the kids. With the exception of the kids' Big Gift, I've shopped for NOTHING.
I haven't even listened to Trans-Siberian Orchestra this year.
Of course, that's not lack of holiday spirit. That's extreme sadness because for the first time in seven years, I didn't get to go to the concert.
THAT'S why I have no holiday spirit! *headslap*
Number One daughter has this thing for the 12 Pains of Christmas, which is one of the funniest Christmas songs ever. She made me buy it from iTunes and I have to play it every day that I drive her to school. Luckily, I won't have to do that anymore before Christmas vacation. She was saying this morning how cool it would be to sing the song, with parts, for their holiday concert. I told her to suggest it to Mrs. Setcavage, and by the time she went to bed tonight, she had the whole thing choreographed.
I have lost my writing spirit this month, too. I'm kinda thinking I'll just let it go until January. I had a full manuscript to proof and submit, and then a galley to proof for my January release (Brianna's Navy SEAL), and a critique to do for a friend, and a bunch of household stuff, and now a nonfiction job to do, plus all the shopping and preparing and packing and driving and visiting coming up...just seems like I should put off finishing Unbreakable until all that's done.
The thing I'm looking forward to most immediately is tomorrow, when some of the people I love best in this world will be getting together for lunch and maybe to watch an episode or two of Supernatural in the interest of mutual squeeage and corrupting those not yet corrupted. It will be easy. We'll show the episode with Sam in a towel.
I guess that's enough rambling to be considered a post. I will try to be pithier and/or more interesting and/or more witty (yeah, like when do I ever manage witty???) from now on.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Last week's episode was pretty silly. But there were plenty of full-body shots of Clark Kent, so I was happy. And I got a new song out of the deal (AFI's Prelude 12/21 off their December Underground album). But what made watching the show worth it was the trailer for the post-haitus shows. I mean, what can be more exciting than this:
Friday, December 08, 2006
Guh about sums it up.
Okay, let's gloss over the logic leaps in the beginning and the clumsy way they showed us the phones weren't working (Sam takes a teeny bit of information and wants to call for help, and Dean says OKAY????). The external plots have not always been the show's strong suit and are mainly something you need to say "eh" about when it doesn't click perfectly. Because you know soon they're going to get to the good stuff: Kicking Ass and Being Brothers.
SPOILERS (Highlight to read white text)
I loved that Sam was all brave and strong ("Just give me my gun and leave. I'll do it.") until Dean refused to leave, and then he cried.
I loved all the amazing hero shots. The cinematography was excellent. That upward angle when they came down the steps of the Stepford House? Guh.
The terrible, terrible moment, with all those (TOTALLY TOO MANY) finger-tightenings on the trigger, when we didn't know if Dean was going to shoot the guy or not. He couldn't, we knew he couldn't, but they set it up so that we knew damn well he COULD, and all I could think about was that I was going to find a way to rationalize it being okay.
The story writing might have weaknesses, but the characterization is flawless, and the show's strength is that every actor they cast is fabulous. From the scared nurse to the tough Marine to the fishing-boy-turned-possessed-by-demon-spawn. But mostly, in the two small scenes between brothers. With Dean determined not to let Sammy die alone, and Sam upset that his brother is willing to die with him. And Dean tired, so tired, and ready to give up, which some people have mentioned as out of character, because he's always so ready to kick ass. I think it's very in character--how many of us feel despair from, like, having to prepare three meals a day or clean the house, never mind dealing with evil every single day? And Sam as upset by Dean's despair as he is about the expectation that he will die. No sappiness. No sentimentality. Just emotion that will break your heart.
Loved Dean squealing around in the Impala. And then GIVING IT FREAKIN' AWAY because in his mind, he doesn't need it anymore.
Guns. I hate guns in real life, but when Sam and Dean are wielding them...guh to the ultimate.
Someone commented that Dean blasted the father away, but Sam wouldn't shoot the son. I don't think it's that big a deal. The father was coming at them with a big-ass knife. The son was running away. I'd have a hard time shooting someone in the back, too. I don't think Dean would have taken that shot if it had been him, even if he thinks he would have.
Now, the final scene. I was kicking myself for being foolish enough to think they would ACTUALLY do the big reveal in this episode. Of COURSE they're going to cliffhanger us! Especially if they're off until late January (anyone know for sure when it's coming back???) I SCREAMED when they went to black. I thought he'd give one line, like "He's not your father" or something, and we wouldn't get the explanation until later. But they didn't tell us ANYTHING.
Poor Sammy, having to wait weeks and weeks for his answer.
I wish I'd written this line:
"If that makes you want to run, you'd better get started, because I'm coming for you, Jordan."
And it's not like Danny's all that. I mean, Bradley Whitford is fine. He's not the kind of guy you want to put on your desktop, though (well, some people might). But he played the part SO well, and so did whoever decided Amanda Peet should have a gigantic mouthful of food while he's saying this to her. It was hilarious and skin-tingling at the same time.
Also hilarious? All the Christmas tradition debunking that went on in the writer's room. I think this show is very well done.
I haven't watched Supernatural yet. There was a whole big drama about that. We have TiVo now, which is awesome, of course, it gives us a chance to record two things at once. But the problem is we get spoiled, and what happens when you have to record THREE things?
The Cleveland Browns played last night. Regular Thursday games are a new thing this season. Of course, the Browns couln't play LAST week, or NEXT week, when everything else is a repeat. So we had Smallville/Supernatural and Ugly Betty (repeat, I ditched it) and Scrubs. Can't NOT record Supernatural. Can't NOT record Scrubs. So Jim was going to have to watch the game on the little upstairs TV.
Except Number One's holiday concert was last night. At 7:30. The game started at 8:00. We HAD to record the game. And Jim really, really had to have Scrubs. And I really, really had to have Supernatural. ACK.
Well, I solved the problem. Naturally. The DirecTV guy hadn't hooked up the upstairs receiver right, so I did some wiring and fiddling with the VCR and IT WORKED. Recorded Scrubs upstairs, the rest down. Jim was happy.
But I couldn't watch Supernatural. I could probably have waited until the game was over and watched at, like, 11:30, but I've been tired so I decided to actually go to bed early instead. I can't believe it, either.
So I'm at the car dealership now (free Internet, yay!) and will watch it when I get home. Then again with Jim tonight. Shhh, don't tell him. :)
So Blogger is rolling out their new version. Now when you log on, it asks you to switch. I did, though I was concerned it might cause problems over at my other blog, The Gab Wagon, but so far, it seems nearly seamless. We'll see when I go to post. Everyone cross their fingers.
(Stop crossing your fingers. If you're reading this, it posted fine! Dorks. :)
I should be proofing my galley for Brianna's Navy SEAL, which is to be released next month (last book in the Brook Hollow trilogy, YAY!). But instead, I'm trying to come up with enough things to say to justify tagging this "random thoughts."
It's frickin' cold today.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
My kids have a great relationship with my husband's parents. They're friends. When my kids go over there, they hang out and do things with Nana and Papa. They show them their dance routines and curl up with them on the couch to talk about school and their friends and the movie they saw last week. They are less close to my father and stepmother only because of distance. They only get to see them once a year. But even then, it's an easy, open relationship. They were both very close to my mother before she died, mainly because my mother, also living far away, cultivated that closeness.
Our lifestyles feed that relationship now. I've had difficulty finding babysitters, so it's usually Nana and Papa who take that role. Number Two's elementary school is having Grandparents Day on Friday, with two hours of events. Number One had a grandparent luncheon that brought 400 parents and grandparents to the middle school last month, and next week are having a special grandparents concert. Since they do dance and soccer, there are also regular events for the g-ps to watch.
It was really different when I was a kid, and I don't know if it's generational or just my particular grandparents.
We had dinner at my father's folks on Sundays. When I call those grandparents to mind, I think of them as old people sitting in easy chairs in their apartment. That wasn't the ONLY way I saw them, of course. They took me to the library, I remember, and there are pictures of us outside. But we didn't do a lot of direct interaction. The adults played cards while the kids read the funnies and watched TV or played games in the bedroom.
My mother's mother died when I was seven, and her father and stepmother lived out of state so we didn't see them often, either. They were larger than life, especially my grandfather (who lives less than two hours away, yet I have to go to a wedding in Cape Cod to see him), and again, the kids played elsewhere while the adults visited. I heard stories and adored them, but can't say I was ever close to them.
The grandparent who had the biggest impact on my life was Nanny. She was my mother's maternal grandmother and died just after I graduated from college. There was a time when my brother and I hated her. I'm not really sure why. Maybe it was because my mother dropped us there sometimes when she had a date, and I had unknown resentments for that (it never bothered me that she dated). It could have just been being a stupid kid who didn't like the way her apartment smelled or the wig she wore (her hair was thinning but a lot prettier than that hideous rug), or the way she sang the words to a song after the singer on the radio did. I appreciated her a lot more when I got older. She was wise and tough and funny and sweet and so independent, her entire life.
In fact, she's the only person whose presence I ever felt after they died. One night I was driving from PA to MA alone, and all of a sudden I felt her in the car with me and burst into tears. I sobbed for about ten minutes, and then it was over. I am certain she was checking up on me. It happened three more times, and then she must have been satisfied, or moved on, or whatever. Even with that, though, I was not close to her like my kids are to their grandparents.
I like that they have a richer, more fulfilling relationship, and I hope it lasts for a really long time.
Monday, December 04, 2006
"I work for Hummingbird."
It's a throwaway line that an editor may have me remove. Jason plays a miniscule role in the book and the section is easily replaceable by a million different options. But when I wrote that line, Daley's response was the same as mine:
Today I was doing a final proof of the full manuscript for submission. When I read that section I got the same zing, the same resonance, as I had the first time I wrote it and every time I've read it since. Today I decided Jason has to have his own book, and the first line will be "I work for Hummingbird." I have a few ideas sketched out for the story and it's already giving me that new-book excitement.
Of course, I have to finish Unbreakable, and then revise Under the Moon, and then revise Behind the Scenes, and then revise Unbreakable. And then I have at least one other idea that has been percolating before this one, and choosing which one is next will be difficult. But I can't help embracing this falling-in-love feeling...it's just like finding out you're pregnant.*
God, I love my job.
*When you want to be.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Both, though I don't usually get egg nog unless I'm at someone else's house. I'm the only one who likes it here. And I just realized, damn it, I forgot to have some at my writers chapter party today.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Wraps, to the detriment of my back. Or the delight of the UCP people who wrap at the mall for a donation.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I like both. We have a computerized set of mini colored lights my husband bought when he was a junior in college. Those go on the tree. The ones outside are red, blue, white, and green, but in groups. Like, a string of all blue. My husband likes symmetry.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. I like the idea of it, but more for a party where there'd be lots of singles, and then that opportunity for the person who likes the other person but never had the nerve to say it to kiss that person and blame it on the mistletoe.
5. When do you put your decorations up?
Usually the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, outside. The first or second weekend in December inside, when we get the tree.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
I don't really have one, though my husband (we're getting a lot of our traditions from him, I realize) has this recipe (politically incorrectly and even impossibly named Jewish Pizzas) that we always make on New Year's Eve, like his family did growing up. They are on the party rye (I prefer the pumpernickel) and it's a sausage-cheese mixture on top.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
My aunt (mother's sister) always had an open house on Christmas Eve. It was mostly my uncle's family, who I rarely saw the rest of the year, but it made up for my mother's family being so scattered (and we usually still saw them at some point in December, making the holidays stretch). We ate great food (my aunt's chicken wings! that's my favorite holiday dish!) and laughed at the stupid adults and hovered around the Christmas tree with the bubbler lights until we could pass out the presents, which was almost more fun than actually opening them.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I think I was about nine, and just gave in to all the pressure (from my peers insisting he wasn't real) and asked.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
No, unless we're doing an event at someone else's house. My husband (there he is again!) never had Christmas Day at home growing up. Every year on Christmas Eve his father would forget his wallet after they were all in the car to go to church, then he'd go in and get it. They'd come home from church and Santa would have been there already, 'cause he knew they had to go to Toledo the next day for the family visits. So he's ADAMANT that we have a regular, at-home Christmas on actual Christmas Day.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Lights and ornaments only. It's stuff we both made as kids and collected as adults mixed with stuff our kids have made and other people have made for us. My favorite ornament is a ball my mother had wen I was a baby in England. Her mother gave it to her 36 years ago.
I used to like tinsel, but then I got my own place and had to clean up after it. You know, until JUNE.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it, almost without exception. In central PA, there's never been a snow that I could not drive in. Probably SHOULD not, but I grew up in Western Massachusetts, where we got Snow. Here, they close schools the night before, even if there's a slim chance we'll actually get the forecasted white stuff. Drives me nuts. Anyway...I don't like shoveling it in February, but I still love to see it falling. I am ready for spring when it arrives, but I never, ever lament the winter.
12. Can you ice skate?
Some. I can rollerskate/blade very well, but haven't ice skated since I was little. I lived on a lake until I was seven, and skated then, but not after that very much until my senior year of high school. I was on my senior trip at Smuggler's Notch in Vermont, and coming out of the pool through the revolving doors, some asshole shoved the door and it ran over the ball joint of my foot. Turned purple IMMEDIATELY and was all bloody. So trying to skate in the resorts hard plastic rentals was painful.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
As a kid, it was my bike when I was 8, my stereo when I was 15. Jim gives me great stuff every year, and I can't pinpoint a favorite. He's gotten me printers for my birthday twice, which almost counts because that's 12/23.
14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Peace. Which is kinda weird, because with the struggle to decorate and shop and wrap and cook and run from one house to another and clean up AFTER unwrapping and worrying about missing someone important on the gift list and (ocassionally) sending cards and battling crowds...well, the holidays are about anything BUT peace.
But when I drive down a street in the dark and it's lined with carefully lit houses, I'm at peace. When my kids are playing with their new presents and I'm talking to my family in Ohio or Texas on the phone, I'm at peace. When I sit in the living room by myself and watch the lights go through their programmed blinking, I'm more at peace than anywhere, any time.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Don't have one! Though I do like peppermint ice cream that's only available now. :)
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
My kids don't follow the typical wake-Mom-and-Dad-screaming-Santa-was-here! scenario. They let us sleep until nine, or whenever they're done decorating the living room. This event has grown every year. This year they've already spent hours and hours preparing their decorations, which Number One has declared are SO much better than last year's lame snowflakes and giant cut-out Merry Christmas on the living room wall.
17. What tops your tree?
A santa hat we bought the first year we had an apartment together. On Christmas morning, whoever passes out the presents wears it.
18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
I like them both equally. I love giving IF I know exactly what to give and can be excited about it. I like getting so I can make the person giving very happy by loving my gift.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Funny: The Twelve Pains of Christmas ("fine, you're so smart, YOU rig up the lights!")
Not Funny: Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I missed their concert for the first time in seven years and that makes me sick to my stomach. Their music ROCKS. Literally.
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
I tag: Anyone who wants to do it...no pressure. :)
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
In fact, it's been great.
I went to the café in Barnes and Noble this morning, and check this out:
Yes, I finished a whole day early! The last 27 pages flowed like magic. I hardly even checked my word count, 'cause I just knew I was going to finish it. I wrote a threesome, something I've never done before, and while it's not "perfect" (i.e. it need editing), it's PERFECT. It was such a satisfying scene to write. And the rest of the denouement just feels right, too.
Here's the silliness part. The last paragraph of my book references "Back in Black" by AC/DC so I put that on my iPod and walked in time to it on my way out of the store. Very silly, because my legs are too short to time it right. I have no doubt I looked ridiculous.
On the way out, I stopped to get the new JD Robb book as my reward. I have a membership card so it was supposed to be 40% off, plus I had a one-item 15% coupon, so it was going to be more than half off. The giddiness was interrupted by a glitch (the computer didn't recognize it as on sale anymore, so it wanted to only give me 35% off, silly thing) but the staff was so gracious and helpful, I left still very, very happy.
I hope this feeling lasts more than five minutes. The venti mocha will wear off eventually, I know, and I'll crash, but for now, I'm flying. :)
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
110K routine service: $160
Cracked serpentine belt: $98
Nail in tire, slow leak (patch): $40
Check engine light on due to full charcoal filter (for the gas) resulting in a purge flow alert: $397
So glad it's nearly Christmas!
Can't wait to see what tomorrow's gonna bring.
Monday, November 27, 2006
First, the kids were looking in the carport shed for the candy cane lights we bought last year. D came out first, followed by M, and because the door sticks on the cement floor, D kicked it to close it. M wasn't clear, and it hit her in the cheekbone. Yes, she's bruised. Yes, she can say she walked into a door. No, it's not amusing.
Then came the dog. We put a gate at the top of the stairs so the cats can't come down and wreak urinary havoc. Dolly, the aging, lumbering, dim-witted sweetheart, obviously can't get through it either. She likes to be near me, so she came downstairs when I came down to write. But the kids and Jim were outside putting up the lights, and she was going insane not being able to supervise. So she went up and down the stairs several times. I wasn't playing that game. She was staying put. At least, that's how I felt until she fell down the stairs. Yes, all the way down. Yes, apparently on her belly so that she popped up all panty and tail-waggy and unhurt. Yes, that was amusing.
Feeling bad, I took her upstairs and let her outside. I started to go out front to tell the others what had happened to the poor dog when my right foot came down wrong on the edge of the driveway and snapped sideways, throwing me to the ground to pant and gag in agony and try not to pass out while simultaneously trying to tell the kids not to FRICKIN' TOUCH IT NOT EVEN TO REMOVE MY SHOE OHMYGOD IT HURTS.
That's not amusing, either.
What IS amusing is that Jim helped me inside, the kids cleared lights off the recliner so I could sit and put it up...
And then they left me. Just like that. Went back outside and picked up the lights.
I yelled until they came back in and got me frozen asparagus to put on the ankle and painkiller and water to take it and my book to take my mind off the pain once it subsided enough that I was no longer sweating and the black had receded from the edges of my vision. The cat was nice enough to cuddle on my lap to comfort me, without having to be asked.
We know who's the most thoughtful in my household, don't we?
After a while I managed to hobble my way downstairs to the computer, because I had 13 pages to write to meet my goal this week. I've had sprained ankles before. Both of them, lots of times. This is definitely the worst one I've ever had. It fools me, subsiding while I have it still and supported. But when I walk on it even a few steps, it starts screaming. I'm not looking forward to going back upstairs. I may just stay down here until it's time to go to bed.
Oh, and even funnier? While I was sitting in the living room immobile, the phone rang and we got a recorded message that my kids' big Christmas presents will be delivered tomorrow. There is NO WAY I'll be able to maneuver those heavy things downstairs with my ankle like this, so I have to find an alternative hiding place. The kids get home several hours before Jim does, so it's all up to me.
Yeah, everything's working out just great.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I wrote more than 50,000 words of a new novel that I hadn't even done any planning for prior to November 1, and I have the icon to prove it.
I also have a lovely winner's certificate that I'm putting on my wall, and I'm patting myself on the back. I've actually written 73,854 words so far, with plans for 15K more by Thursday, and then, if I succeed, I'll have completed a full single title novel in a record (for me) 30 days.
So what? What good did it do me, besides meeting a personal goal and proving that I can write fast?
Well, for one, it put me back in touch with my roots, in a way. Before June 2006, I wrote at night. When I was working hard, I'd write every minute I could, including commercials during football games and while dinner was cooking and while the kids were getting ready for bed.
Since June, when I started writing "full time," I've had a more set routine (and even more so since August). I write when the kids are in school, and in the afternoons I do Mommy stuff, and in the evenings I read or watch TV. It's a nice routine, but it kind of softened me. If I didn't have a stellar day, or if I had a day where I didn't write at all, I didn't vary my routine. It was good for me to exercise that "write anywhere, anytime" intensity.
It will also teach me something about revisions. I've never written a book where I ignored the crap--and believe me, while I don't think most of the book is crap, there are some big seeping sections of it that will need a lot of work. I have a revision section of my WIP chart and it is growing, and growing. I'm interested to see how much easier or harder it will be to do all the changes together, instead of editing as I go.
NaNo also reminded me about love. Not love between my characters, but my love for writing. A year ago, I was struggling to work on a book I didn't love, a book I'd outgrown. I'm satisfied with that novel, which will be released in January and complete my Brook Hollow trilogy, but I'm so much happier writing something I love. I know I won't always have this, so I'm valuing it now.
Most of all, I've had fun. It's been great checking up on my friends, cheering them on, being cheered and cursed by them, and feeling, even over the cold Internet, the joy and excitement of this joint adventure. I can't wait to see how many of the NaNo books sell, and will be looking out for them to read.
There are four days left, so if any NaNoers are reading this who haven't made the 50K yet, keep on going, don't give up, and above all, reward yourself for whatever milestone you reach, even if you can't claim a pretty blue icon.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Warning: Mild Spoilers
He did a great job. Much like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, he conveyed humor and pathos with subtlety and charm. Maggie Gyllenhall (I think I spelled that correctly) was impressive, as well. Emma Thompson blew them all away, but then, she always does.
Anyway. I generally am not interested in exploring the human condition in my fiction, whether reading it or writing it. I mean, I'm living the human condition. I don't need someone's dark, fatalistic take on life and death, especially because it usually means the story is a tragedy. There's value in a story that makes you cry and appreciate every minute you live--but not for me.
That's why I liked this movie so much. It took that exploration, that inevitability of death, and turned it on its head. The pacing, while slow, never felt draggy, and I don't know whether to attribute that to the writer, Zach Helm, or the director and editor, or both. I cried at the end, yet when it was over, I didn't feel purged or sad or moody or depressed or even contemplative--I felt satisfied and content.
I think this movie will get an A from me, a rare rating for a film that's not starring Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom this year. :)
While I'm talking about acting, I wanted to express my appreciation for two possibly underrated actors: Steve Guttenberg (underrated because of Police Academy) and Aaron Ashmore (underrated only because he is young and hasn't done much yet).
Both actors were in Veronica Mars. Steve Guttenberg amazed me every time he was on screen. I was watching this incredibly familiar face, this icon from my childhood (and star of one of my favorite growing-up movies, Three Men and a Baby). Yet his character had a hardness, a smarminess, I never would have expected him to be able to pull off. He became his character in an incredibly convincing manner and possibly deserved an Emmy.
Aaron Ashmore was in season one of VM and in one episode of season two. He was fine, on par with the generally high quality of that show. But it wasn't until I compared Troy (from VM) with Jimmy Olsen, his current character on Smallville, that I was impressed. His Jimmy Olsen is naive and sweet and YOUNG in ways his Troy couldn't come close to being. He gave Troy confidence bordering on cockiness but a smooth charm that made him seem worthy of Veronica, until he was revealed to be a cad. The distinction in characters is small and is internally driven, which I see as a mark of a great actor. I'll be interested to see how he develops over time.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
This year I find that very difficult, because I am so blessed as to have very little I'm NOT thankful for. All the most important things--family, health, friends, basic needs--are taken care of, and then some.
So to save you all from boredom, I'm kinda turning this post on its head:
1. I'm thankful for our rear neighbor for stealing wood from our wood pile, because it highlights just how damned good my life is, for this to be the worst thing I'm dealing with.
2. I'm thankful for the "check engine" light on my car going on, because it forced me to schedule routine maintenance I was putting off to avoid spending the money.
3. I'm thankful that our finances are so tight, because it keeps me working hard, focusing on my writing CAREER and not letting anything else interfere and make our sacrifices pointless.
4. I'm thankful for my preteen's mood swings, because being mad at me for not letting her read Betty and Veronica instead of boy issues or something is a good thing.
5. I'm thankful that my office flooded...well, no, I guess I can't find a positive side of that one.
I'm thankful for the world I'm accessing at the moment--for all of you who read this blog and make me believe my dreams will come true. Happy Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Honorable, straightforward and idealistic. Active and self-confident.
Colors: male: white, female: blue
Compatible Signs: Osiris, Thoth
Dates: Mar 11 - Mar 31, Oct 18 - Oct 29, Dec 19 - Dec 31
Role: Goddess of motherhood, women, and magic; goddess of the South; protector of Imseti (the son of Horus who watched over the canopic jar containing the liver)
Appearance: Woman wearing the hieroglyph for "throne" on her head
Designed by CyberWarlock of Warlock's Quizzles and Quandaries
Monday, November 20, 2006
I write linearly. I start at the beginning and write to the end. I'll edit as I go, and usually once I hit about 100 pages and again around 2/3 of the way through the book I'll do a complete run-through, to find threads I dropped or fill out some plot or characterization, now that I know where the story is going and who the main characters are. When I'm done with the first draft, I run through the whole book once, go through a critique cycle with some trusted partners, then print and proof the final copy.
The story will start percolating long before I write the first word, and it continues to bubble as I go. It never completely leaves my mind, and scenes will often develop while I'm doing that mindless activity I mentioned (can add dishes and laundry to the list). I might jot notes or a few lines of dialogue as soon as I can get to a pen. If the scene is the next one in the book, I might pull out the Alphasmart and get the bones down until I can get to the main document.
But I never, ever (almost never) write ahead.
I didn't really know why until recently. I thought I was just stubborn, or that it stemmed from my need to discover the story just the way I do when I read someone else's book. But a couple of things happened that gave me more insight into my own process.
The first was that my opening of my last book stank. It often does. I have an idea of what I expect the book to be, and I write the opening to that expectation. Then the story and tone and characters evolve, and the majority of the book is very different from that opening. But for some reason, when I edit on my own, I have a hard time doing away with it. I'm not married to my words, for the most part. I cut scenes all the time, saving them in a "discard" file in case I want to use them (and rarely do). So it takes someone else telling me "this doesn't work" before I can disconnect myself from it and change it.
And that's why I don't write ahead, even if a scene forms in my mind that's perfect. I'm afraid I'll write it, then when the time comes to fit it together with the rest of the book, it won't work and I won't be able to let go of it.
The other thing that happened that made me come to this realization was that I did it. I wrote some of the last chapter of my last book, well ahead of time. It was a tone I didn't want to lose, and an aide--I didn't know which potential hero the heroine was going to choose, and writing that scene helped me figure it out. Which made writing the scenes before it much easier, because they set up that choice at the end. I wasn't consciously sure until I finished the scene, but my subconscious knew. It just wanted the rest of me to have the fun of finding out at the last minute.
Since it worked so well with that book, I was wondering why I don't do it all the time. And that's when I realized I was protecting myself from a harder job down the line.
Anyone else feel like this?
Sunday, November 19, 2006
You are The Devil
Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession
The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.
Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Friday, November 17, 2006
So, yeah. No computer for a few days. Insurance doesn't cover seepage that doesn't come from some kind of break or malfunction. Sharp, cramping pain in the lower back and shoulder due to the tedious, bent-over task of trying to wet-vac the water out of the carpet.
And no Supernatural for two weeks. At least.
Didn't get much writing done today. About 2K, I think, though I'd planned another cafe day and 6K, which would have gotten me to the end point of NaNo. Tomorrow, I hope. Thank god for my laptop.
Studio 60 was picked up for the full season! Yay! They listened to me! What? I wrote to them. I couldn't have been the only one, though I haven't heard if they've given a reason for picking it up when it was rumored to be yanked soon. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the last two episodes, and my husband even enjoyed it. So much that he mentioned it TWICE.
I have two more episodes of Veronica Mars season 2. That disk should come tomorrow, and then I'll catch up on this season. Perfect timing, with half my shows going on T-giving haitus.
Smallville is still a big disappointment to me. I'm sorry, the last 8 seconds of last night's show were not only NOT a shocker, they were annoying. I never liked Lana. Lana with Lex makes me not like Lex. Especially when Clark is reduced to running around in circles at a dockyard for, like, 7 minutes of the show, and then NOT getting his bad guy. WHY do they think it's a good idea to make Smallville the "Not About Clark Kent Show"?
Will I be villified if I admit to not being blown away by Supernatural this week, either? Don't get me wrong, there was still much to love. It just rehashed stuff that's been well established. I'm really looking forward to the shows previewed in "Soon," for sure. I am not a fan of guns, but the Winchester brothers packing so much heat is...guh.
I'm hoping to get to some movies this weekend. Definitely Happy Feet as a family. The previews have been cracking me up for months:
"Why you huggin' me, man?"
"He tole me toooo."
"No, you liiiike it."
I also want to see Stranger Than Fiction, and might sneak away Sunday night for that. Oh, and the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix trailer is supposed to be playing before Happy Feet. That will be worth the price of admission, alone. LOL
I don't talk about books much on here, mainly because I don't want to talk about a friend's book and have another friend feel bad because I didn't mention hers, and I won't talk about books I don't like--and I don't like a lot of them. But I just finished Stephanie Rowe's Must Love Dragons, and it was really good. It had more substance than a lot of "fun, quirky" books do, and the heroine didn't drive me nuts with superficiality. Check it out.
Okay, I think I'm done rambling for tonight. My laptop has been running for hours and hours and it's making me sweat. I have to get away!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I posted in a comment to MaryF the other day that my writing is now my day job. People who are squeezing NaNo in around work, family, and other responsibilities shouldn't compare themselves to people who don't have that stuff. (I'm not saying anyone does--I just know I would, if things were reversed.)
I've also been writing for publication for 13 years. This is my 14th completed novel. I've finished drafts in 3 years and in 8 weeks. But the most important thing I've learned in all that time and with all those books, is that writing is like any other exercise. The more you do it, the better you get.
It's not JUST a matter of practicing getting the words from your head to the screen (or paper). Writing faster isn't only a function of typing speed. It's also a function of craft and process. The more we write, the better we understand how our creativity works. When we do things that work for us instead of make us struggle, the flow comes faster. When we figure out story structure and characterization and goal/motivation/conflict (especially conflict), the story becomes easier to write, which means, usually, faster.
I heard Suzanne Brockmann do a workshop once where she said you have to determine what kind of writer you want to be, set goals, and then work toward those goals. She wanted to be fast. She knew that if she was fast, she'd be able to sell more books a year. If she came in early on her deadlines, editors would know she could be counted on. They'd also know that if they got into a tight spot, they could count on her to fill a hole in the schedule. So she set out to write fast, and it worked for her.
I didn't necessarily set out that way, but by the time I heard her workshop, I knew I wanted to be the same. So I worked at it, and about six years later, I succeeded. Not everyone needs to have that goal, or should. But hopefully NaNo or any other writing exercise can help each participant learn something about themselves and their process so the next time, whatever is holding them back now won't be a factor.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
So now I'm going to, too. :)
It's something I find a lot of, in the writing world. And that's kind of logical, isn't it? We have to be able to be content in our own brains to be able to do what we do. And a lot of the time, what we do requires us to stay deep in those brains, undistracted and unannoyed by the day-to-day chaos that surrounds many of us.
I don't know any writers who are complete hermits and avoid all human contact, a la The Net. Of course, if they were that level of hermit, they'd be hard to know. But most of us love getting together for writer's meetings, conferences, book events, parties...and then are very, very happy to go home again.
When I first started writing, 10 years ago (I'd actually already been writing for three years, but I'd finally joined RWA and my local chapter), four of our members had attended National, and roomed together. One was describing the whirlwind that is that conference, and she said by the end, they were four people in four corners of the room with their faces buried in books. For me, that sums it up completely.
I love people, but only some people. I want to get together with them, talk their ears off and require glue for my own, brainstorm and be high-energy and soak in the support of their friendships. Then, unless such event was less than an hour (and it never is), I'm drained. I need to be alone to recharge. I know there are people who are the opposite. They need to be around others to have any energy. I think those are the people who go into sales and become CEOs. They can have it.
I'll hunker down here in my lovely office, surrounded by my obsessions, with my lifeline to the world that I can turn off at my whim, and be alone with my brain.
Monday, November 13, 2006
When I came home four hours later, I looked for it.
And looked, and looked, and looked. I didn't trust my memory, so I looked in EVERY POSSIBLE place it could be.
Until I found it. In a paper bag on the floor at the base of the desk.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Unfortunately, the 8:00 "family hour" is pretty much gone. I mentioned The Cosby Show a few posts ago. Good, wholesome family TV. I suppose there's a lot of that on cable now. The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon maybe fill the bill. But it's not the same when those shows are on all day long. There's no "event." Nothing to look forward to the way I can't wait for Supernatural on Thursday night.
But my kids feel that way about one show that's on network TV: Dancing with the Stars. I admit, I've got no problems with this show (though the costumes could be a little less skimpy sometimes). Celebrities are turned into real people. They have to be humble, because they're doing something they've never done before, and learning it at a competitive level. This isn't like a couple taking lessons so they can waltz at their wedding. The judges are tough, and have very high expectations. It's all about hard work and taking constructive criticism, good lessons for my kids to witness.
Competition is good for them to see, too. Nowadays they don't learn it so much. Sports are about having fun, and comparison between students is avoided at all costs in the classroom. But they won't always be able to avoid it, and watching GOOD competition is excellent. When I say "good" I mean the kind where contestants say things like "Don't get me wrong, I really want to win this thing, but it's been so rewarding, just coming out here and pushing myself to do something I never thought I could do," as opposed to the kind where people yell things like, "That bitch ain't gettin' MY money!" and lie and cheat and steal to win.
In fact, respect is a highlight of this show. Everyone displays respect for the other dancers, and there's a camaraderie that shows that competition doesn't have to preclude friendship.
I realized, when thinking about this, that the shows that have really meant something to my kids and to us as a family as "event TV" have always been reality shows. In the Fix was daily viewing for a while, with a funny, "incompetent" host and funny, skilled workers who turned rooms into amazing places to live. Now it's Dirty Jobs, with another funny, incompetent host and a pretty educational premise. My kids are fascinated by some of the jobs out there, jobs we never knew existed but have an appreciation for (mainly, that someone else does them).
Then there's the original reality show. Known to my kids as "AFV," America's Funniest Home Videos has been on since MY childhood, and the content is as funny and appropriate as ever. With REAL people who aren't being paid to be on TV, either.
So okay. Maybe Reality TV is okay sometimes.
Friday, November 10, 2006
And no, I'm not telling you his MySpace account name. He's MY friend. Me and only 2,174 other people.
I was telling Jim about how Nathan watches Dirty Jobs, and his heroes are his dad and his brother (awww!) and Jim offered to divorce me so I could marry him. *sigh* Do I have a great husband or what?
I didn't tell Jim I'd rather save that offer for when Jensen Ackles proposes. Megan thinks Dean and Sam didn't stop on their way to Baltimore because they didn't need the rock salt she was selling. It's really that they were late because they were with ME!
What was that about? Was he going to try to get an “in” with me because he was romantically interested in her? Or did he think I’d tell him something he could use against her?
In my current work in progress, my characters keep LOOKING. They look at each other, they look at the computer, they look at the numbers on the elevator. They give looks, too. Smug looks, surprised looks, heated looks. And they don't stop there! No, they also have to look haggard, or upset, or joyful. Their injuries look painful, their surroundings look tidy. I've used every variation of "look" and all its synonyms, and I'm not even a third of the way through the book.
I'm way ahead on NaNo, though, which is a good thing, and only slightly behind on my full goal. Because the NaNo word widgets update automatically by pulling your profile number, I'm just putting mine in the sidebar now, in replace of the original participant icon.
Back to work!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I had one of those moments yesterday. The moments that represent why writing is such pure joy for me, and why I will never be good at plotting in advance of writing.
I'm 99 pages into my book. I still don't know who the villain is. I'm afraid my output is about to slow down because I'm only 99 pages in and I am uncertain what happens next. But the scenes I wrote yesterday are the pebbles in the pond that have started ripples that are already forming waves.
In yesterday's scenes, Q and D were on their way to BH when S was in a [blank]. When S described what happened, he said [blankety blank blank]. In scenes I wrote earlier in the week, Q and D were in a hotel when [blank] happened, and [blank] did not, and I wasn't sure why [blankety blank blank]. Those are the pebbles.
While I was making my kids dinner last night, I realized [blankety blank blank] was because the culprit is [blank], who until now was a vaguely formed character with an important, but undetermined role. This character, M, it turns out, did [blank] and [blank] to keep the bad guy away from [blank], which means even though she's YOUNGER than Q, she's much more powerful, and won't THAT be interesting?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Yeah. That went all to hell.
First, you know, it's NaNo month. I'm managing a LITTLE bit of cleaning. The bare necessities. Or more accurately, the furry necessities. Like feeding the furfaces and cleaning the litter box that is now in the living room because we're trying to keep the damned cat from going downstairs and the $40 CatScram isn't WORKING and that's a totally other subject. How did I get there?
NaNo's messin' with me. I've been at my keyboard at EIGHT O'CLOCK two days in a row. I haven't exercised or done dishes, and I've been showering at three in the afternoon, after Number Two gets home and I can't write, but that's the start of family time so I'm feeling guilty.
Hard to complain with the progress, though.
Then there's my TiVo problem. I can't yell at the kids anymore for filling it up. I have all of this season's Veronica Mars recorded, but can't watch them 'cause I'm just starting season 2. But because I was watching season 1, I have two episodes of Prison Break, one of Heroes, two of The Class (which I can do without, but I find it amusing so I'll watch it while it's on), one of Studio 60, one of Ugly Betty, one of Numb3rs...maybe one of Twenty Good Years, if it was on last week, but I'll probably delete that unwatched. It looks like it might have been canceled. I wish they'd cancel 30 Rock.
Hey! ANOTHER tangent. Sheesh.
I'll be adding Lost and The Nine (oh, yeah, I didn't watch The Nine last week, either) tonight, Ugly Betty tomorrow, Numb3rs on Friday...and I'll never catch up, because I have disk 1 of VM season 2 today and I have to see who showed up at her door (I'm assuming Duncan) and what happened between Logan and Weevil when Logan was on the bridge. I'll watch Smallville and Supernatural tomorrow, the only two shows I watch as they air, and NOTHING will keep me from Supernatural, but Friday I'll have another VM and yet another on Saturday, and I can't catch up on EVERYTHING on Sunday, even if I could just be a lazeabout and watch TV all day, which I can't because football's on.
Which is...watching TV. But, you know, different.
Yeah, they lost on Sunday night. Thanks for dredging THAT up. Nice friend you are. Go back to your stupid Steelers, what are they? Two and six? Um-hm. Thought that would shut you up.
So. Apparently my messed schedule has messed with my brain, too. I have a feeling this post sounds kind of manic and not at all like me. So I'm not going to read it again.
I've scared myself.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Inland North
|What American accent do you have?|
Take More Quizzes
Nope, not even close.
I spent the first 17 years of my life in Western Massachusetts, and the way I talk hasn't changed (haven't lived anywhere else long enough to be affected by it). And I will NEVER say "pop." If you ask me for pop, I won't give you anything. I'd bet anything that if someone who didn't know me or anything about me was asked where they thought I was from based on the way I talk, they wouldn't know.
Totally bogus quiz.
I'm only a couple thousand words over the goal now, but should surge ahead again during the week. I'm 40 pages behind my goal to finish the whole book in 30 days, but that's really a far stretch, anyway. I don't really write on the weekends anymore, and there isn't a compelling reason to finish the book that fast except to see if I can do it.
However, I find my ego soundly and necessarily deflated. I was pretty cocky the first few days, thinking it wouldn't be too hard to lead the pack of all the buddies I added to my NaNo buddy list.
SEVEN people got ahead of me this weekend. And it's driving me crazy. I must work harder, pound out those words. I MUST BE AT THE TOP.
Why? Well, it's definitely not because I need to be superior to my friends and acquaintances and my father-in-law's cousin. It's exciting to see all those word counts and know everyone is doing well. I'm really, really impressed with the person who has 18,288 words. I'm not going to be crowing about my word count and how great I am, and I never, ever want my accomplishments to cause anyone to feel bad about themselves.
It's a Capricorn thing, and I've had it all my life. In high school, I had a friend who'd become a mother at 14. She was in the top 15 of our class, like me, and we had a lot of the same courses. We were numbers one and two in the sophmore fundraiser (she got the stereo, thanks to her gigantic family). And I about killed myself joining club after committee after team, trying to keep up with her. It got to where my mother worried about my stress level and my boyfriend complained he never saw me before I backed off, accepted I wasn't going to match her, and just concentrated on myself.
About eight years ago my local chapter go a new member. For a while, she was following in my footsteps. I had a baby, she had a baby. I edited the chapter newsletter, she edited the chapter newsletter. I had another baby and agreed to be chapter vice president; so did she. I sold to a small press. She sold to a different small press. My first one closed, and I sold to a second. She disliked her first, and followed editors to a second. Then things changed. She started soaring within that realm. She sold title after title. Editors at bigger houses were saying good things about her work. I started to feel toward her like I'd felt toward my high school best friend.
Luckily, I recognized it and released the competitive drive. She's one of my closest friends now, and it doesn't bother me at ALL that she's contracted five books to Harlequin Spice and I'm still struggling to make my first big sale.
So I know how to keep my competitiveness in check. I think with NaNo it can be a good thing. It's making me work harder. I had to think about where I wanted my story to go while I was raking leaves at 7:30 this morning, rather than wait until I got to the computer. Tonight, if I haven't gotten far enough during the day, I need to write some more instead of watching TV. I have to stop editing, stop counting my words every ten minutes, and put in brackets instead of spending an hour researching Ohio alcohol server age laws and flights from Columbus to Boston.
I have a feeling I won't catch some of these people, and that's okay. It's much more important that in the end, I've improved myself somehow as a writer. If I inspire someone else the way they're inspiring me, well, that would be the molten chocolate drizzle on the organic strawberry crepe.
Friday, November 03, 2006
I hate raking leaves. I have three fabulous maples in my back yard, and they carry a ton of leaves and drop them late. For three or four weeks in a row, we have to cart the equivalent of a pile ten feet long and three-to-four feet high to the front of the house for pickup. And every time I see one flutter past my window, I growl.
This fall has been uncharacteristically gorgeous, though. For several years we had whatever conditions mean uniformly yellow or brown leaves, and that's it. This year the trees are flaming orange and red and muted shades in between, and the weather has been lovely this week. I get happy every time I go out of the house.
That happiness is short-lived, however. As much as I love fall (my favorite season), it's accompanied by a growing dread as the days get shorter and shorter. I don't suffer from true seasonal affective disorder, but my mood is definitely suppressed during the winter. I hope that will be different this year, since I won't be driving home from work in the dark.
Big football game this weekend! HUGE! There are currently two undefeated teams in the NFL right now, the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. The team right behind them with only one loss is the New England Patriots, and they play both the Colts and the Bears in the next four weeks. Colts this Sunday night, a huge rivalry that has peppered the Super Bowl winning seasons of the Patriots. I like Peyton Manning a lot--he and Tom Brady are two of the classiest guys in the league, and they are both extremely talented. Which means this will be a fabulous game. I can't wait!
I started watching Veronica Mars on DVD. I'm two-thirds of the way through the first season, and I really like it. But it's weird. Usually when I like something this much, I don't see the flaws. I'm all about the pleasure of watching. Also, when I see as many flaws as I saw in the beginning of the season, I don't like a show as much as I do this one.
Maybe the first episode set me up with expectations that were less fulfilled as the season went on. For example, the show began with a cliche that I HATE: that she's never getting married, that the people you love always let you down. Wah wah wah. I thought the date rape was just going too far. She'd had enough piled on her, and that doesn't mesh with everything else. Maybe when they reveal who did it I'll feel differently, but so far, it seems like just another way for her to feel sorry for herself in voiceover/flashback.
I don't dislike those flashbacks, but I find it impossible to reconcile the Veronica Before The World Caved In with the Veronica of the present. She was a follower, mild, naive, and apparently blind to what assholes her friends were until they became assholes to her. At which point she became fearless, strong, and cynical. I understand the logic of the progression, but there's still too much disconnect for me.
The last thing I don't like is that every time she believes in someone, they turn out to be evil. There's Troy--sweet, funny, immune to peer pressure, afraid of her dad--and then suddenly he's 100% bad without warning. Fabulous Veronica figures it out, foils him, and never mentions or thinks about him again. Then we have her lecherous history teacher, a lovelorn client who's really Russian mafia...it's a never-ending parade of people out to strip her of hope forever.
The reason why it's okay is because it DOESN'T strip her of hope, not completely. She manages to hold on to it somewhere, even as her shell hardens and cracks repeatedly.
So that's enough of what I DON'T like. More than enough, because I like it enough to stay up to 1:00 a.m. three nights in a row watching it. I love Veronica's fearlessness and smarts and her ability to make friends with a very diverse group of people. I love Leo and Keith Mars and Weevil and Wallace and the mysteries and (oh, wait, one more thing--it really, really bugs me that her mother let her go out with Duncan, maybe have sex with him [she doesn't know, for sure, that they never did], when he could be her BROTHER).
Interestingly, my favorite character has become Logan. He was such a dick in the first few episodes, and they've slowly shown him to be very complex. Somehow, even with a totally cliched background (spoiled rich kid, physically abused, probably ignored by his mother, taunted by his sister, blah blah blah), he's managed to be very sympathetic. I give full credit to Jason Dohring, because even though the writing has to be good, the actor has to sell it. I really fell for him when he broke down in Veronica's arms in the hotel where he thought his mother had been staying after her "death."
So, the best thing about this show? I have 32 more episodes to watch!
Speaking of shows that give me pleasure...
Supernatural was a bit of a disappointment last night. Surprisingly, it wasn't Jo who disappointed me. I liked the way she acquitted herself, and alone, I like her. I think the relationship drawn between her and Dean is more sibling-ish than romantic-tension-y, though, which made what could have been the best line of the show, "Should have cleaned the pipes," kind of stupid. There'd been no indication before that that she turned him on. No tension between them in the writing or in the chemistry between actors. So I'll be really happy if the writers don't take things in that direction.
But my biggest complaint is that in inserting Jo into the dynamic, they obliterated their strengths, the things that make this show so damned compelling. Sam was marginalized, and the brother-brother relationship totally ignored. I'm not saying I want them to address the demon storyline every week, not at all. I just want more interaction between Sam and Dean. More of the interplay of emotion and expression. Don't send Sam offscreen for ten minutes while Dean and Jo crawl through the walls. Give me:
"So I'm a freak now?"
"Dude, you've always been a freak."
I didn't buy the episode ending very well, either. If Ellen broke with John, what, 18 years ago, when her husband was killed, why did she call him four months before he died, acting like John not talking to her was on his side? She's all, "like father, like sons," and I can understand her fear for her daughter, but that doesn't explain why Jo would now be disgusted with Dean and Sam. It was HER plan to be bait, and blaming them for their father's mistake is just stupid.
Amber Quill Press has posted their October bestsellers, and every one of them contained male/male relationships or menage situations. I've long heard through the grapevine that those are the best sellers at other publishers, as well, and that the readership is overwhelmingly straight female.
Google Alerts recently added blog alerts, and my Supernatural alerts are full of "Wincest" fan fiction. You don't have to stray far to find Lex/Clark and other slash fiction, either (those are the two that connect to my own interests, so I'm not going to comment on anything else).
I am not into gay erotica at all, and I don't care to read or see details of male/male sexuality in general. But one of the powerful and evocative images for me in the last year was the scene in Brokeback Mountain where Ennis dragged Jack around the corner and kissed him.
I have a kind of half-baked theory about this, and I don't think the attraction for women is truly sexual, no matter how we present our reactions to it. For two decades (maybe longer, I don't know, I'm only 35 *g*) our society acted like men don't feel. They don't hug, they don't tell their kids they love them, they don't want to talk about emotions or relationships, and when they HAVE emotions and relationships, they are different from the same emotions and relationships from the woman's perspective.
I say bullshit, and it looks to me like a helluva lot of creative people in my generation are saying the same thing. Lex and Clark had extremely strong feelings for each other, as do Sam and Dean. They aren't sexual feelings, but they are extremely powerful. Exploration of the relationship between Ennis and Jack in Brokeback Mountain almost always talks about how the story was about the love they felt for each other, not the physical desire.
I think these powerful emotions are as strong to us as sexual desire is. They probably just stimulate the same hormones, but what we end up doing is equating the two, which is what leads to the slash fanfic and fantasizing as a more concrete way to get the fix. It's like...the smell of chocolate makes us feel good. Some people would be satisfied to just keep smelling it (like I'm satisfied to just see Sam and Dean be brotherly). Others would HAVE to taste it, and maybe add liquor to it, to increase the rush (or write sexual stories about the brothers).
I'm generalizing, and even if I'm somewhat right, I'm sure it can't apply to everyone. But I like my theory, and I'll be pleased if those-who-strive-to-entertain-us will give us more of the same.