Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Tide Has Turned...with silliness

So far, nothing bad has happened today! Woo hooo!

In fact, it's been great.

I went to the café in Barnes and Noble this morning, and check this out:

Zokutou word meter
100,000 / 100,000
Under the Moon

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

And the Darkness Continues...

I'm at the auto dealer this morning, balanced awkwardly on a leather couch while trying not to put pressure on my aching ankle. I'm here for my 110K service and for them to see why my check engine light came on. Of course, when you've reached 110K without many costly repairs, you're running on borrowed time. So here's what it comes down to:

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

Black Monday

Forget Black Friday. Today's Black Monday, and not because of shopping.

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

The End of NaNo

Well, I did it.

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

Stranger Than Fiction

I just got home from seeing the movie Stranger Than Fiction, and I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to.

Warning: Mild Spoilers

First, I hate strongly dislike Will Ferrell. His brand of humor just doesn't touch me, and while I wouldn't call him a bad actor, I try to avoid movies in which he plays a large part. But as an author, I was intrigued by the premise of this movie, and he was clearly performing in an understated role, so I decided to give it a try.

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


The one societal holiday tradition I adhere very strongly to is acknowledging at Thanksgiving all the things I'm grateful for.

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


This tickles me not because it seems at all accurate, but because Isis is my niece. :)


Honorable, straightforward and idealistic. Active and self-confident.

Colors: male: white, female: blue
Compatible Signs:
Osiris, Thoth
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)
Woman wearing the hieroglyph for "throne" on her head

What is Your Egyptian Zodiac Sign?
Designed by CyberWarlock of Warlock's Quizzles and Quandaries

Monday, November 20, 2006

Planning Into a Corner

Mindless activity like showers and driving trigger my creative brain. Sometimes my analytical brain, too, or both together. The other day, I had a shower like that. It gave me this blog post.

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


I don't like the rule that says you can't have JUST the car's "check engine" light go on, or JUST have the dog losing more weight even though she's eating double her prior food intake, or have JUST the cat continue her litter box rebellion no matter what you do. You HAVE to have the office flood during torrential downpours, too.


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."
"Stop it."
"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've been reading posts by participants in NaNoWriMo. I added a lot of people to my buddy list, and of course their word counts run the gamut of "no word count" to high 30K. Most of the blogs I've read are enthusiastic, positive progress reports, regardless of how "well" or how "bad" those people are doing. And my competitiveness (see earlier post that shows the evil side of me) has been at war with my compassion. I don't want people to look at my word count and feel bad that they are behind it, whether it's a few steps behind or miles.

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

Being Alone

In that weird blog synergy that often happens, no less than two authors who I am very sure don't read each other have both posted about being hermits.

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

Damn Cats

My dining room table is, in rare status, completely cleaned off. This morning I'd been using my laptop on the table, and when I packed it up, I left my wireless adapter there. Since I wasn't taking it with me to the cafe (the better to avoid distraction), I decided not to leave it on the table. It's a cat playground. They bat down whatever's up there, then bat it all over the house, until we can't find it when we're looking. So I moved it to the desk.

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.

Damn Cats.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Changed My Mind...Kinda

I've never liked reality TV. I've watched bits and pieces here and there of shows like Survivor and American Idol and The Bachelor and even Fear Factor, when my husband had it on. I never liked any of them. I was disgusted by previews of such shows as Wife Swap and Temptation Island. So when NBC announced that they were going to drastically reduce scripted shows in the 8:00 hour and fill their schedule with reality, I wasn't very happy.

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

OMG, I just Friended Nathan Fillion!

God, I love the Internet.

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!


In every book, I have a different habit that ends up being overused. In my last book, it was the heroine asking herself questions all the time:

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

Pebbles in the Pond

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but hey. It's my blog. I can be repetitive if I want to be. If you've heard it, stop here, and I'll see you tomorrow! *g*

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

Who to blame, who to blame...

You know how I posted my schedule last week? About fitting in certain things, and adapting to my chaos?

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

Totally Bogus

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
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.

Competitive? Me?

I write pretty fast, and now that I'm writing full time (or at least, the six hours the kids are at school, minus lunch), I should be even faster. So I kind of expected to blow through NaNo, and so far, I am, even though I slowed waaayyyyy down the last three days.

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

NaNo Progress, Day 3

Full Head Friday

I should be writing, but my mind has been stuffed full of thoughts, making it difficult to concentrate on the moon (a major feature in my new book). So here they are:

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'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.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

NaNo Progress, Day 2

Well, apparently NaNoers have crashed Zokutou, so I have no progress bar. But day one I did 2926 and today I did 3115, so I'm not only on track to make the 50K, I'm on track to finish the book.

Go me!

And go, everyone else, whether you've gotten 15 or 1500 words. You're working hard, and that's all that matters!

I Don’t Do Dishes On Wednesday

When I first quit my day job to write full time, I was determined to have a set schedule to make sure everything got addressed. It worked pretty well during the summer, but now that we have so many more demands on our minutes, it all went to hell.

My plan was always to fit in (in no particular order):

Family stuff

My reality has been…inconsistent, to say the least. I’ve been lamenting my failure. Especially when it means the house is a hellhole and I have to spend all day Sunday cleaning it.

But I realized yesterday morning that it’s not as bad as it seems. Sure, I let the house go here and there. But that’s just because I hate cleaning, and I hate even more losing time I should be writing or relaxing to cleaning. And okay, I haven’t kept up my daily walking regimen. I didn’t walk Tuesday. Or today. In fact, I didn’t walk at all last week. But I haven’t given up totally, which is my normal MO.

The kids’ schedules dictate a lot. For example, I DO consistently do dishes all week. Except on Wednesdays. Every other day, I do them between putting kid #2 on the bus and putting kid #1 on the bus. On Wednesdays, #1 has to be at school early, which means I don’t have time for dishes, which means I don’t bother doing them when I get home. Because that’s writing time.

See? Schedule. :)

I am always telling writers that they need to find the methods that work best for them, which often means trying a lot of things, learning others’ methods, etc. So what I should do is embrace the chaos in my schedule and work around it, keeping the most important thing in mind:

Protect the writing time.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hey, Browncoats! Get Over It

Let me preface by saying I am a dedicated Browncoat. I listen to Firefly Talk and The Signal podcasts every week. I bought nine copies of the DVD and gave them to everyone I could for Christmas last year. I talk about Firefly INCESSANTLY and constantly try to convert people who have yet to watch the TV show or the movie. I care. A lot. And I want another movie, at minimum.

I can't find much in the news about this; it's pretty much rehashing of the same six lines of text. Apparently, Universal, the movie studio who owns the rights to all things Serenity, has issued cease and desist orders to certain fans who are making money off of unlicensed merchandise. The report is that they have also demanded $9,000 in license fees from one party. The fans are, also apparently, WAY up in arms against Universal's "evil" act.

The main reason for the outcry is because Universal encouraged grassroots marketing/viral marketing when the movie came out last summer. Basically, that means they wanted fans to talk about it to non-fans and get them to see the movie. It failed. The movie made less worldwide than its very small budget of $39 million. A year later, it remains hugely popular among the cult (i.e. Browncoats) and we are constantly trying to increase said fanbase in an effort to get a sequel. The whiners are now saying Universal is slapping us in the face for doing what they told us to do.

But you know what? The whiners are wrong.

First, making money off of someone else's property is illegal*. Universal is not only way within their rights to stop it, they are OBLIGATED to do so. Part of trademark law is that you have to defend your trademark or risk losing it. There are DOZENS of ways fans have furthered the cause without financial gain, so crying that this is unfair because they are only marketing Universal's property is ridiculous. People buy shirts that say "Nike" and "Tommy Hilfiger" all over them and never ask for a marketing discount. So just quitcher bitchin.

Also, it should (and has) occur to people that it's a great sign that Universal feels this property is worth defending. It could just be because QMx officially licensed some Serenity products that Universal woke up to the possibility that more money could be made off this investment that failed, and in order to be able to do that, they have to make an effort to eliminate the unlicensed merchandise. But it could also be that they are seeing that the fanbase is growing, and the potential for a successful sequel is growing with it.

So instead of being childish whiners, let's rejoice.

*Please note that I am not a trademark attorney, my understanding of this stuff is rudimentary, and there's a possibility I'm not completely accurate.

Thank you to Tom, who provided this link with much more information. What I said stands regarding the outcry, but it sounds like the attorneys were a bit overzealous. I'm glad it's all resolved positively!