Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beach Retreat: A Running Journal

Friday, 5:55 p.m. Yay! We’re on our way to the beach!  I happen to be lucky enough to have a friend who bought a beach house, and five of us are going down to test it out for retreatability this weekend. We’re all packed into a Suburban, making dirty jokes and cursing people who annoy us. I’m carsick, but I won’t say so or Megan will leave me on the side of the road. She hates vomit. Not that I’m going to vomit, but she’s paranoid.

Friday, 7:02 p.m.  Dinner. All the chain restaurants are packed, so we stop at a diner.  Bix, who doesn’t travel well, orders a side of ham. Side to nothing, but hey, to each his own.  We make fun of the typos on the menu and specials list. For a special accasion, be sure to order off the sauteed pan menu.

Saturday, 1:59 a.m. After unloading, claiming beds, changing into comfy jammies, and talking forever, we all suddenly decide to go to bed.

Saturday, 7:12 a.m. My roommate got up to pee, which gave me permission to get up to pee, but now I can’t go back to sleep. Misty and Bix are whispering out in the living room. Misty boots up her computer. The chime galvanizes me and I leap out of bed. Yay! Writing.

Saturday, 8:59 a.m. I’ve only written 94 words. Smith’s Windows Live Messenger won’t autolaunch anymore, her iPod is working, and I’m excited to write. But it’s snowing, and I’m giddy. I’ve never seen the beach in the snow. And now Smith and Simon are eating bagels and that woke up my stomach. After Simon is done picking on me for being too sensitive (I moved my mug so it wouldn’t be in her way and she said “Are you afraid I’m going to contaminate your mug?” and I was like, “See, I knew you would think that, so I debated whether or not to move it!” It’s a neurosis. She’s decided to mean me out of it. Yay.

Saturday, 9:21 a.m. Megan’s finally up. I’m still eating, but the others are, of course, done. But now we’re all at the table sharing “how I slept” stories. Burkholder has multiple noses. Megan dreamed there was a tornado here, and we’re like her kids to her. Smith is a canine racist, thinking all black dogs look the same. 118 words

Saturday, 10:37 a.m. 627 words. Ate, showered, talked about adoption and stupid people. Starting a 20-minute writing challenge. Ready…GO!

Saturday, 11:05 a.m. We start walking, in the snow. After ten minutes, Smith and Simon wimp out. “Snow in my face.” “Too friggin’ cold.” Wah Wah Wah.

Saturday, 11:33 a.m. Bix and I reach the beach. Awesome! I’ve never seen the beach in the snow. Slightly disappointed because the wind is stronger here, so the snow on the sand is patchy. Take a few pictures, start to leave, but the ocean is calling me, so I walk down to the edge and watch it for a minute. Wind is fierce here. I want to go in the water—it beguiles me—but I’m not psychotic.  We head back and wave off the offer of a ride. We’re having fun!

Saturday, 12:05 p.m. We laugh at my frozen dredlocks.

Saturday, 12:45 p.m. I am way overstuffed from lunch. It was healthy, except for the cracker candy. Starting to write again now. Not planning to stop until it’s done. We’ll see how that goes.

Saturday, 1:45 p.m. 2785 words. We’re being so good! One chapter to go.

Saturday 2:07 p.m. 3218 words. Now the other three are driving down to the beach. I feel a little stupid, but WTH. I didn’t want to risk missing my chance to go there, if the others decided they weren’t going later. The two-mile walk felt good.  But now I’m cold and I don’t want to get wet again. Finishing the book now…

Saturday, 3:16 p.m. Sooooo close! 4980 words. Very last scene. But I had a desperate urge for Supernatural, and since the wireless signal is weak, I knew it would take a while to download. But even on my brand-new laptop, if the signal is too weak, iTunes locks up. Dammit. I need Sam and Dean.

Saturday, 3:33 p.m. Crap. About 3 pages from the end, one phone conversation left, and I typed a line that required me to go back and totally revise the big climactic scene.  I’m never going to finish this thing!

Saturday, 3:43 p.m. I just felt a surge of contentment. Four of us are working at the table, three on laptops, one longhand, all deep into our stories. The energy of creation is…oh, forget it, that sounds pompously fruity-tootie. Anyway, it’s awesome. If only the fifth member of our group wasn’t hiding in her bedroom…

Saturday, 4:55 p.m. 6,301 words.  Aaaaand DONE! The Supernatural episode downloaded on the second try. Plus, the book. I finished it. Yay!  I’m such a dork. I edited a little bit to make it come out at exactly 80,000 words.  It’s silly, because when I revise it later, it will change.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to goof off the rest of the weekend. I need to update my book’s timeline, make sure it all works right.  And maybe I’ll start revising Hummingbird. In the meantime, dinner is smelling awesome, and I have that SPN episode.

When I get home and have my camera cable, I’ll post snow!beach pictures!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ah, Delusion

So I just took part in this Office Feng Shui class. I've always been too daunted by the scope of Feng Shui to explore it, but this was a basic, focused class, and it gave me some ideas. The biggest was the concept that physical congestion (e.g. clutter) can cause non-physical congestion. Things have been very slow and boggy for me for a while, and I figured hey, what can it hurt? So I decided I'd declutter my office.

It didn't seem that big a deal at first. I mean, sure, it wasn't going to be quick and easy. But I have a haphazard, hodge-podgy collection of "passion symbols"—posters, figurines, trading cards, puzzles, games, you name it—and some of the passions have run their course. Plus, I've been planning for a while to clean out my file cabinets. I had a vague idea I'd get it all done in one day, and I scheduled next Wednesday for it.

When a job is big and non-urgent, I can avoid it forever. But once I decide it has to be done, the need to do it builds in me and distracts from anything else I try to do. So I started the cleaning out today, just planned to get as far as I could. I started in the closet. Ruthlessness dominates. Some stuff is a no-brainer, but I'm getting rid of a lot of things that sentiment, practicality, or that "this would be great for something" feeling that never results in finding what it would be great for have filled up my closet.

Here's what resulted:

1. Two 30-gallon trash bags full to bursting.

2. Half a bag of clothes to be donated.

3. The immediate need to clean out my upstairs closet so I can stuff clothes into it that I don't fit right now but that I want to keep, and that are currently draped across my bed.

4. A trunk full of cardboard to be taken to the recycling bin.

5. A honking big monitor to take to the Computer Ministry.

6. A closet that is now less than half cleaned out.

Let me repeat that last part. Two hours of work cleaned out less than half a closet.

That's a little discouraging. Thinking I could do this in one day or even one week? Totally delusional.

J and I went to see Legion tonight. Pretty good movie. Small in scope, despite the huge concept. Lacked motivation—no one ever asked why this particular baby, never mind explained it—but good acting can go a long way. The creep factor and the horror elements weren't overwhelming. It was mainly a study of what people do under certain catalysts. Of course, the focus was on Michael, the angel played by Paul Bettany, and he was tremendous. No surprise there.

I've also watched Life Unexpected this weekend. Spruce from "Ghostfacers" has a recurring role. All the reviews compare LU to the old WB shows, especially Gilmore Girls, and it had that vibe, though of course not the snap. I think I'll like it. It will at least get me to watch a couple more episodes. I needed something that "felt" like this on my viewing list.

Speaking of guest stars who were originally on shows I was obsessed with passionate about...Sean Maher was on The Mentalist this week. Simon from Firefly. Gosh, I've missed him. Oooh, I just looked him up, and he's going to be on Human Target this week! Double dose! There was a scene where SPOILER ALERT he was all covered up except his eyes, and we weren't supposed to know which secondary character he was, but I could tell immediately by his eyes. Jane knew him by his body language and syntax, and of course the voice was distinctive, but I knew him by the eyes before he'd said a word. Yes, I'm very proud.

That same episode had the sheriff from the "Yellow Fever" episode of Supernatural.

Okay, Number Two is ready for bed, so I'll stop there. Wish me luck with the Fenging this week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rock Slyde

I've posted about independent movies a few times, and here's another one. It came to my attention via Jason Manns, my favorite musician, who also happens to be a producer and actor and is involved in this movie.

Rock Slyde is a hardboiled detective comedy featuring Patrick Warburton, Andy Dick, Rena Sofer, and Elaine Hendrix. I don't think it got wide release in the theaters, but it's coming to on demand in April and DVD in May.

It's available for queuing up on Netflix now, and the more pre-release requests it gets, the better. So check it out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Lovely Blog!

A few days ago, Susan Gourley/Kelley generously gave me the One Lovely Blog award! I'm very honored, because as most of you know, I mostly just jump on here to be a know it all or spew about my day or rant about my problems (which are annoyingly minor) or brag about my kids (who are obnoxiously awesome) and stuff like that. There's no theme, no's just me. So being named for a grass roots award like this is very personal. Thank you, Sue!

Okay, first I'm supposed to list 10 facts about me, then nominate some new recipients of One Lovely Blog. Luckily, I followed the trail back a ways, and could find no rules about how many I can name. I don't think I can stick to three. :)

Stuff About Me You May Not Already Know, in Random, Off-the-Top-of-My-Head Order!

1. I'm overweight. That's the not the "interesting fact." A lot of weight loss material references eating massive amounts of food, like a whole cake. I've never done that. I never had binging issues. With one exception: Pringles! I can eat a whole can sometimes, though I never do it in one sitting. One day, occasionally.

2. I spent the summer after my sophomore year of college in Michigan, working at the Sarett Nature Center. I taught kids with a barred owl (Joey) on my wrist or a 6-foot boa (Charlie) over my shoulders, got bit by a wee little mouse, helped get a baby fox (Whizzer) and bunches of raccoons and an American Kestrel back into the wild, and mowed a lot of trails.

3. I spent the summer after my freshman year of college working a concession stand at the beach—Valentine's by the Sea. I took my breaks on the beach (lunch was usually a very awesome hamburger with bacon and onions, with fries) and when I remember it, I can recall smell of the salt breeze and the feel of the rough wood.

4. Vying with the previous two items for Favorite Job Ever, I worked at National Geographic Society for five months after I graduated. It was just an internship, and my sexist boss hired a guy for the permanent position I wanted, but as much as I love DC, we probably would have been less happy as a family, living down there instead of here in suburban PA.

5. I won 3rd place in the Ruth Davies Award for Excellence in Writing my sophomore year of college. It was for a paper on deforestation, which is very clearly not what I write now, but that award, combined with the articles I wrote for the paper when I was at Sarett, are what led me to become a writer, and to decide that at a relatively young age.

6. The job at National Geographic was mostly editing nonfiction abstracts for the 27th International Geographical Congress. I did my share of 500, split with one other guy. The abstracts were mostly written by non-native English speakers, so that job directly led to my freelance work.

7. I played the violin in 4th grade. I convinced my mother to let me stop after that because it made my arms tired and I wanted to grow my nails. I was a classic nailbiter in grade school, and it bugged me a little that I'd started to outgrow the habit but I had to keep clipping them so I could finger the strings. Every time I listen to "The Marriage of Figaro," I regret quitting.

8. This one might be a repeat: I was on the Equestrian Team in college. If I recall correctly, over the two years or so I showed, I won two fifths, a third, and a first. The horse I rode for the first was a retired Michigan State Police horse, and he's the sole reason I won.

9. If we'd had a boy, we'd have named him Mason James. Whichever of our daughters has children first is assigned that name for a boy child.

10. Every time we play Band Hero, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, or Rock Band 2 as a family, I have the lowest score. On easy.

That was harder than I expected it to be. Okay, now to pass on the award! Any of the ones in my blog roll are worthy. (Shoot, I just realized I didn't reinstate that when I changed my template. Bugger! Hang on while I update it...)

Well, good thing I had to do that, actually! Some of the ones I'd have awarded already got it. No sense doing it twice, right? So here are mine, chosen for how much they amuse me and brighten my day, and because my primary contact with them is online:

Meankitty/Jody Wallace/Ellie Marvel

Shannon Stacey

The Bandwagon

SciFi Chick/s

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Day

This has been a very full week, let me tell you.

First, the most important thing, I just know you're all dying to find out: Yes, I got my tea. It was in a different bag labeled "Winter Dream," so yay! :)

This was week 2 of the RWA PRO Bootcamp on The Healthy Writer. I'm running it with Keri Ford, and it's been excellent, but intense. In a good way. But I also did a workshop for an RWA online chapter, Anatomy of a Hook, and combine the two for exhaustion. The last time I did a workshop I had NO questions or comments and a couple of thank yous at the end, and that was it. So I was apprehensive. Don't know what was different, but there was tons of participation, many questions, and I did a lot of critiquing.

So I'm tired. But guess what? I got a little fiction done, too! So I now have two days in a row I can say "yes" on Habit Forge. That's a site I just learned about, via one of the attendees of the PRO Bootcamp. It's based on the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit. You create one, and it asks you every day if you did it the day before. If you did, you say yes, if you didn't, you say no, and it starts you over at 1. If you get friends to sign up, you can track each other. I love the added incentive--I don't want them to see me fail! :)

The only problem is that I signed up yesterday, and last night it asked me if I'd done my goals the day before. Well, duh! No! I didn't start until the next day! So I already show a failure for the writing one. (The exercise one, I did do, so that one is a-ok.) I'm hoping this will help me prioritize, as I've been letting everything else shove the fiction aside, as can happen.

This morning I installed new RAM in my computer. I had low expectations. I thought it might help a little, but WHOA. I've been having mental orgasms all day. I know that's inappropriate to say, but I can't help it. It's so EXCITING to press the button for iTunes and have it open before I can blink. Yesterday, it took two minutes and I couldn't do anything else while I waited. Today, I sat there for two minutes boggling at how fast it happened. I can't understate how happy this has made me.

I had a bunch of errands to do today. It was supposed to be 2 stops, but I wanted a coffee, and remembered I had to drop off the cardboard so I had room for the kids' instruments this afternoon, and Number One got a book in at the library, and if I was going to Target I should go to Best Buy...

I ended up going to two Best Buys. We had some gift cards, and while I was at the library I checked my e-mail real quick, and had a $10 Reward Zone certificate, so I was all excited to get a new guitar for Band Hero, essentially for free. Except our Best Buy had none, so I went across the river to the other one. They only had the Rock Band 2 guitar. I'm annoyed that I didn't do any research beyond asking two store clerks in two different game/electronic stores if the games are all cross-compatible with the controllers (they said yes). They're not. Rock Band's guitar is not compatible with Band Hero, nor is it compatible with the Guitar Hero Smash Hits I bought. But I was looking for a Guitar Hero kit anyway, so research wouldn't have necessarily done me any good. Luckily, I went overboard and also bought Rock Band 2, so we can at least all four play while using one game.

The problem is...

We bought Band Hero because it seemed to have more songs that the kids would like. It does, but we play so much everyone's getting a little "over" those songs. So we were all excited to have the new stuff. But Guitar Hero and Rock Band have few songs the kids know. (Rock Band only has, like 22 available out of the 100+, I'm assuming until we unlock them? I have to figure that out.) BUT, we like the notes and imagery in Rock Band the best. So I guess we ended our two-hour session both pleased and disappointed overall.

Okay, I think I ran out of things to say. TV has started again, yay! I'm giving Human Target a try (the guy seriously reminds me of Colin Ferguson, I hope I get over that when I get to see the actual show and not just the trailer) as well as Life UneXpected. So expect some TV posts in the upcoming future (is there any other kind? And I call myself a writer).

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

And the Random Continues

Football is over. Yah-huh, it is so over. Don't try to tell me there's a game on now. That's totally irrelevant.

Julian Edelman has definitely won me over. He's the only one who actually played today (besides Kevin Faulk, who won me over long ago). He ran hard, fought hard, even hurt. I'm thinking our whole "no third option" thing is no more. Except that Wes might not start next season...but we'll worry about that when we get there.

So, my Christmas stuff is finally put away. The tree was down last week, but yesterday the kids took down all their homemade decorations that they surprise us with every Christmas morning, and I took down and packed away the rest. Today we all pitched in to take down the outside lights, in 19-degree weather. Luckily, it was sunny and windless, so it was actually pretty nice out there. It feels good, having everything back to normal.

I drink a lot of tea, but it's your basic orange pekoe and pekoe black combo, like Lipton and Tetley do. Back in college, there was a specialty shop in town, and I exercised my first-ever credit card there quite a bit, trying a whole bunch of flavored loose-leaf teas. But when I still had some of them in my cupboard about six residences and 10 years later, I stopped trying to pretend I was cool like that. So...basic tea, cream and sugar, very boring.

Then I was in the Cornerstone Coffeehouse a week ago, waiting for my mocha, and I saw a package of tea. "Holiday Dream," it said. "China black tea with citrus peels, cloves, rose petals, almond bits, and genuine Bourbon vanilla pieces." That sounded kinda good. I picked it up, smelled it, and, after my eyes were done rolling in the back of my head from the pleasure of it, I bought the package.

And man, this stuff is as good as it sounds. I've been drinking it every night and sleeping quite poorly as a result. LOL I've barely put a dent in the package, but I want to run out and get some more, because it's "Holiday Dream," so they can't sell it all year. The only reason I haven't yet is because it's probably already gone.\

I was thinking this morning that I've seen Jason Manns more times than any other live performer (three times in one year!). But then I remembered I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert 7 times, so he's got a ways to go. Jason, if you Google yourself and read this, please take it into account for your tour schedule. The Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey would be a good start. Or middle. :)

Okay, that's enough rambling. I'm gonna go see if I can clear a few boards at Jewel Quest.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Various and Sundry

Breaking Daylight is out now. Buy it. While you're there, check out What She Deserves, which is still at number 10! Woo hoo!

Also get Kismet, The Keepers of Sulbreth, and hey, toss a Switch in there, too (just came out last week). Gotta mix it up, keep the brain fresh and stimulated. Among other things. :)

I'm sick to my stomach at the loss of Wes Welker. (For the majority of you, who have no idea what I'm talking about: Football. :) ) Reports are likely ACL and MCL tears (for some of you who don't get sports medical lingo: that's knee injury, surgery required usually, 9-month recovery period). So the Patriots made the playoffs, but without Wes, the most exciting player on the field. *sob* That's not just bittersweet, it's sour.

Good service:

I don't remember if I mentioned this before. Number Two's Kindle didn't work. Couldn't connect to power source, wouldn't turn on. Called Amazon on Christmas Day. She had a replacement three days later. Excellent service.

Okay service:

I had a bank problem. I sent a check for $10.00 to someone, but it came through my account as $16.06. They told me they deposited it as $10.00, so I contacted the bank. They looked at the crappy scanned image of the check, and luckily didn't give me a hard time about the zeroes. The last one got cut off, or was light and didn't image well, but the rest were obviously zeroes, not to mention the "Ten and no/100" written out. The CSR on the line was very helpful and it didn't take long to "fix." Except that it will take 10 days for them to correct the error and give me my money back, and it took me for-freakin'-ever to get a live person on the line. I couldn't get anywhere without entering my "User ID." I NEVER call the bank. I do everything online. So my user ID is one I changed. After hanging up and starting over three times because I kept getting stuck in a corner, and entering anything I could think of, it FINALLY told me the "User ID" is your Social Security number. Well just SAY that, then! Gawd.

2010 is shaping up to be no different, so far, from 2009. I'm working my butt off, but I'm still behind. Last night I found two corrupted files—massive manuscripts I was editing for a client. I managed to repair them and only lost 66 pages of proofing, which I had to input again, but I still had the hard copy. And I had to fix a few comments that went wonky, but that wasn't a problem. Still, redoing the work meant I didn't finish the job I was going to finish, nor did I get back to my own book (did do some work on it, though!).

I got a lot done this morning, but now I have to shower and finish laundry and take Number One's computer in for repair (FINALLY, I'm such a bad mom) and pick up stuff for Number Two and The Dad, and when I get back Number Two will be home and we'll have to Wii Fit for a while, and then I have to input the 47 pages of line edits I did this morning that are very intense and will likely take a couple of hours, which means I may not get back to my book at all today.


Where's the extra two and a half hours per day I ordered for Christmas? Huh? Who got it?

I need to go take this up with Santa.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Of Course

I knew I was missing something! Please also buy The Keepers of Sulbreth by Susan Gourley. I think it slipped my mind because I'm getting it tomorrow—my order is already in! :) And while this book starts a new series, Sue also has a series capper out right now, One Good Woman (as Susan Kelley).

I think between Fredrick, Burns, and Gourley, we're covering half of popular fiction! LOL

I said I wasn't looking back on 2009, but I can't help doing my recap post for all the stuff I keep track of.

See this post for the 2008 stuff, if you're at all curious.

Exercise and Weight:
I didn't set goals for either in 2009. I weigh 3 pounds more than I did a year ago, so that's not horrible. It's not good, of course, but it's not huge. I kept track of my exercising but it was pathetic. I'm not gonna bother this year. Keeping track, that is. I'm determined to exercise. Wii Fit keeps telling me I need to be stronger.

Okay, this is sad. I read 107 books in 2007, 95 in 2008, and only 88 in 2009! That's gotta change. I also started but didn't complete 24. That's a lot less than the 40 I didn't finish the year before.

Here's a possible explanation: I saw 33 movies in the theater (including repeats, up from 22 the year before) and 29 on DVD/VHS and 1 on demand. I also watched Roswell seasons 2 and 3 on DVD, as well as Bones 1-3, True Blood, Entourage season 5, the first four seasons of Supernatural, and Firefly (again).

So, for 2010, maybe fewer movies, more books. :)

Fiction: 147,320
Nonfiction: 8,629

Total: 155,949 and OMG that sucks. That's over 84k less than 2008, which was 60k less than 2007. I don't think I want to analyze that.

My fiction breaks down into:
8 books submitted
3 full novels edited
1 novel completed, one nearly complete

That's actually pretty comparable to 2008, if you don't look at how much less I wrote as new words. Add 47 professional bios (not tracked in the word count) and some random website and marketing text.

I met 3 of my 5 goals for 2009. Here are my fiction goals for 2010:

1. Finish, revise, polish, submit Full Fusion
2. Process critiques for Hummingbird and prep for agent review
3. Revise More Than You Know
4. Revise Zoe (and give it a damned title!)
5. Write something new

That's all subject to change depending on contracts. That's positive thinking. I'm in the first blush of love with 2010, so that's easy. :)

I professionally edited 5,091 pages of various kinds of documents, from novels to nonfiction books to ads and brochures and websites (an increase of over 1500 pages over last year).

I compiled 12 columns for the Romance Writers Report (completely new task) and judged 785 pages of contest entries (nearly three times as many as last year). And finally, I critiqued 2,290 pages for 11 different people, which is about 1200 less than last year, so I think I made some people feel bad. :( I won't list initials this year. LOL

One thing I didn't do so well this year... Cindy posted in comments last year that she was going to maintain a more positive attitude. I agreed to follow suit, and failed abysmally. 2009 was chock full of gloomy industry news, portents of doom, and us vs. them debates that made authors into little bugs crushed by the feet of the industry. It was quite depressing, and since I have no intentions of choosing another field in which to toil, there's no point in letting that happen. So if 2010 isn't the year that all turns around (or fails to come to pass), at least I'll do my best to avoid it.

And now, onward! To success and happiness for everyone I know. That means you!