Archive for 2010
Doesn't that already sound like a bygone age, 2010? "Turning 40 is SO twenty-ten." Or something like that. I've been anticipating 2011 for almost all of 2010, and I'm not sure why. 2010 seems like a static number, too square to roll, a closed circle. 2011 is quirky, friendly, innovative. Like 2010 had secrets and 2011 is just dying to tell them to me. I'm sure there's some numerology to support my feeling, but I don't know what it is. That's just how I see it.
This laptop, see, it's about half the weight of my old one--which was eight freakin' pounds, no lie--and it fits in my old laptop bag, so I can go other places to write more easily. I have my desk bought specially for writing last summer (and although I haven't been able to use it since it turned cold in the porch room, I hope to remedy that soon). I have a new futon in the den so I can stay up late writing without worrying about keeping the hubs up (and also so I can sleep there when his log-sawing is too much to bear :). I finally bought some new jeans so I no longer look like a homeless person when meeting potential readers.
So everything's in place for when the kids go back to school and the hubs goes back to work. I have so much optimism pinned on 2011 I cain't hardly stand it. It's gonna be great. :)
Christmas went well. I am blessed with a family who appreciates my hard work and who understands when I have to bow out early. It was wonderful to see my mom so happy, with all her kids under the same roof. Her favorite time of year, and I’m glad we could make it happen. Last year an ice storm came on Christmas Eve to keep us apart, so it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen my youngest brother and his wife. And just last week my mom had emergency surgery, of all things! Thank goodness she recovered enough to entertain visitors, and that she had the good sense to let us do all the work. Well, most of it.
The kids are out of school and the hubs is on vacation until next year. I hope to keep up with laundry while the hubs is on kitchen duty, and if I prod the children they’ll keep up with their toys. During my free time I’m going to finish up the entries for the OWFI contest and maybe write a 2010 retrospective to post on Thursday, but most of the week I hope to spend watching movies and doing projects with the kids. Maybe take advantage of a few after-Christmas deals.
I know some of my Internet buds are hunkered down in a blizzard, some have family visiting, and some are playing with their first real Christmas gifts in years. How are you going to spend this last week of 2010?
A Christmas post? From me? I know, right? I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a bit bah humbug in years past. The season starting when the kids go back to school and ending at Christmas is usually the hardest, leanest, most stressful time of the year. Fall used to be my favorite until I had kids, when the money got tight and responsibility got heavy.
This year seems to be lighter, I think because I hit the reset button last Christmas. I came to terms with my issues surrounding giving and, especially, receiving. Refusing to participate was a way of staying in the everyday where it’s safe, staying in control. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I realized that it was really selfish of me not to receive. To defy the season and deny someone else the soul’s pleasure of giving is selfish.
So like I said, I’m better this year. I’m ready to participate and stop being such a grouch this time of year. And in honor of my new attitude I’m even writing a holiday post! I still can’t believe it!
I wish you and yours a happy Christmas, however you muddle through.
I’ve been waiting to buy an e-reader because I don’t want to buy a plain early model only to find two months later they’ve unveiled a much cooler (and cheaper) one. I’ve been thinking about what feature would make me decide to take the plunge, and I came up with a fantasy list of many things I’d like to see in an e-reader:
- I’d want it to be the perfect size and weight to hold in one hand, yet big enough to see everything clearly
- Color e-ink with video capabilities
- Wi-fi and/or 3G
- A cell phone
- A camera and video camera
- MS Word for writing on the go (although if I’m online I could write in Wordpress or something)
- Enough memory to store writings till I can transfer them, or else a place to put my thumb drive
- An integrated laser keyboard for typing said writings, and for long chat sessions
- While we’re wishing, let’s give it a battery that lasts a week
Um, can I really still call it an e-reader after I add all these things to it? I guess I’d have to call it a tablet computer. What would you wish for in such a thing?
Several years ago I made a couple of half-hearted attempts to get my short stories published, but I never was able to successfully scale the veritable mountain of available markets. The process got to me, so I quit. This morning I decided to give it another go. Don’t know what made me think I’d be able to handle it any better today, but here I am.
I use Duotrope to narrow down the search for magazine markets, and while it’s an indispensable tool, it doesn’t make it an automatic process by any means. I’ve been researching for almost an hour and haven’t come up with one viable market. I’m starting at the high end of the payscale and working my way down, so I’m sure I’ll come across something eventually, but meanwhile, it’s drudgery.
The first challenge is defining the work, in terms of genre (fantasy), subgenre (light fantasy? magic realism? We’ll go with “Any subgenre.”), style (I’d call it quirky, but that returns no results so again: “Any subgenre.”). I choose my story specs, length and such, and hit Enter. I get 70 results. Wowzers. That’s a lot of stuff to go through, and of course I’m not familiar with most of these markets so not only do I have to research their submission requirements, but also their style to see if my story will match. I’m afraid my story won’t match any style.
I’d like to get paid, of course, but I’m mostly hungry for a cred, so I choose any payscale and sort from high to low. I don’t want to wait for six months before I can submit again, so I discard those who won’t take simultaneous submissions. I’m working my way through the list, but I’ll have to take a break before I make any real progress, it seems.
What method do you use for sorting through all these markets? Have you been successful? I’d love to hear how you climbed to the summit of Market Mountain. Don’t be shy.
He says science fiction is likely to be sold under another label, like fantasy or thriller. I think this is a good thing, because it shows that people still like it. The numbers on hard-core science fiction books are down, but I think that’s because it’s acceptable to have a little sci-fi in your mainstream now, or a science element in fantasy. We might stop classifying our sub-genres by subject matter, and start classifying them by writing style. This is probably already happening informally (like when they put in a blurb, “In the tradition of Stephen King” or whatever) but what if you walked into a bookstore and the signs over the shelves said, “Thoughtful,” or “Flowery” or “Hip” or “Wry”?
Or what if they started naming the sections after the big-name authors? I could read a book about knitting if I enjoyed the author’s voice, so I would go directly to the Stephen King section without worrying about a traditional genre. Realistically I know that wouldn’t work, because there are too many influential, distinct voices to have a section for every one, but you see where I’m going. The way we’ve classified our genres isn’t as cut and dried anymore. Look at Young Adult. It’s supposedly a genre unto itself, but YA can encompass anything at all, from vampires to drugs to cancer. Crossover is becoming the new norm.
Speaking of crossover, I have a book idea that melds fantasy and hard core science fiction, with a romantic element thrown in. Where would that go?
Get yourself a cooler lay yourself low
Coincidental murder with nothing to show
The judge’s constipation will go to his head
And his wife's aggravation, you’ll soon end up dead
I just finished a book wherein the ending came way too soon for me. I was so disappointed, because I thought I had a whole ‘nother chapter to go, judging by the number of pages left. So I finish a chapter, anticipating the “wrap-up” that should begin as I turn the page, and find instead discussion questions and an excerpt of the author’s novel. It was over. Like that.
I understand the need to market the next book, but this actually made a black mark against the author in my mind. Even though the book was fantastic the ending soured it for me. Because of where I expected it to end, I was reading that final chapter in a different way than the author intended. She knew it was the end. I did not.
I re-read that last chapter as a last chapter, just to see if maybe I’d missed a change in pacing or rhythm, the subtle signs that the book was ending, and sure enough, they were there. I think the ending was still weak, but it definitely would have been stronger for me if I’d had the right expectations.
Is my reader in a loveless marriage, or did her boyfriend just say he loved her for the first time? Did the cover promise something I didn’t include in the book, or is the reader a writer himself with his own ideas of how to do things? Did my reader just get the death penalty?
You just never know.
The answer to all those questions is: I won’t know until I try. And so I begin.
I’ve spent the past two months adrift, a necessary thing, releasing old ideas about how this blog, my career, my relationships should be. I played at NaNoWriMo; wrote parts of books and stories, but nothing that lights my fire; joined OWFI and planned to enter their annual contest in several categories, and actually got quite a bit done in that direction; accepted the fact that crappy stuff happens all the time, and I have to learn how to write anyway.
I think I finally settled on a blog theme that works exactly how I need it to, and will build it over time. I might post writings here, stories that maybe aren’t worth trying to sell but still have some entertainment value. A new About Me page would be nice.
I’m accepting the fact that the blogging community has changed immensely since I started. It used to be the way I communicated all the parts of my life, but I have Facebook for the more mundane stuff now. I used links and images, and I thought about SEO and getting the blog out there. That helped in the beginning, but dang... If you enter “Sherri Cornelius” into Google, Yahoo, and Bing, you will find this website in the top spot, not to mention various others of my hangouts in positions below that. I’m “out there”, mmkay?
The writing of the blog never bored me, but all the side work did, and I guess I don’t have to do it if I don’t want to. I don’t want to imagine what I can make of this place, but to be surprised with what it becomes.
Go me! It's my 40th birthday today. My mom has always said, the day she turned 40 she woke up, looked in the mirror, and had wrinkles. No wrinkles on the last day of 39, then 40 came and BOOM she had wrinkles. Warned by this anecdote, I have not yet looked in the mirror.
I don't like those assessments anyway, where you compare your now self to a younger self. I don't know how much of my blubber, sag, wrinkles are from aging and how much is from a sedentary lifestyle. So tbbbbbt on that. I feel how I feel and yesterday is gone.
Am I the same person I was yesterday? Maybe. But 40 is such a big, symbolic number that I can't help feeling a little different. Like I take up a little more space today with my 40-ness.
I expect today to be mostly the same as always here in the hacienda. That's okay, because I don't like a fuss. I expect to get lots of hugs and kisses and maybe a neck rub, and those things will be just what I wanted. I expect to have a wonderful day.
I hope you have a wonderful day, too. :)
The hiatus thing... Well, you may have heard Moonrat is, sadly, closing her publishing blog. A lot of the reasons she gave for the closing sort of matched up with why I want to change direction here. I've run into the thing most bloggers do, and that's the repeating-myself thing. The blog as it is doesn't fit my needs or goals now. It got me thinking it would be a good thing to close this one down and start from scratch, but I'm too much of a coward. Then Sarah suggested a very long hiatus to give me some distance, and that sounded like just the right thing.
I'm not ready to do it today, because when I go I think I'll be dismantling the whole website. Not even sure why I decided I needed to post about it. I guess I'm just thinking out loud, the same reason I always post, really.
But I have this feeling my perspective can fit into the babble somewhere. I just have to figure out what that perspective is. I've learned a lot about what it means to have an agent, to be on submission, to get critiques both good and bad, to give critiques good and bad. I've done a lot--and I mean a lot--of work on my internal process as a writer, and some of my insights on that could help someone. Briefly, I was on the other side, the editing side (and btw, the start-up e-pub isn't happening after all), and surely I could write something about that.
Do you know, the only thing that's dampened my enthusiasm for the blog is the worry about hurting the business side of my writing career. I worry endlessly about that, and it's hard to let the Muse of the Weblog off her leash to find a post for me when I'm afraid of sounding like a whiney-butt, or hurting someone's feelings, or giving away too much information about my professional relationships. I can't keep stifling myself like this. It seeps over into my real work.
I don't know, I'm just restless; thinking out loud. Is there anything about my writing experience so far that you'd like to know more about? The response here might help me decide where I need to go with the blog. The chirp of crickets would indicate I need to dump it entirely, but I can't seem to do that. Sorry to disappoint. :)
Another violent event which touched me, of course, was the subject of my previous post. The two men who locked down my entire town for most of a day blame their crime spree on drugs. One is remorseful, and I feel sorry for him; I hope he gets treatment. The other is acting like a shit, so I hope he gets a beating sees the error of his ways someday.
Well now there's been a torture/rape/murder involving people from my hometown of Prague, OK. The guy they arrested was a year behind me in school; his sister, also arrested, was in my brother's class; the man they found dead is the same age as my step-daughter, but I don't recognize the name so I don't know if he went to school with her; and they haven't released the female victim's name yet, I guess because she survived and they're protecting her.
And these are just the things with a direct connection to me. Other crazy things have happened in my area that just a couple of years ago would have seemed impossible. Things like these don't happen in my world. It's going to take some getting used to, this feeling I have a target on my back.
Didn't mean for this to be a bummer, sorry!
The drone of the circling search plane is still stuck in my head. I had a road block right outside my window for about four hours:
The kids' schools were all on lockdown, which meant the buses wouldn't run. I picked up Maggie with no problem, but at Abby's there was a total clusterfuck, and I don't use that word lightly. I ended up waiting for almost an hour, watching other people leave with their children. Some did, anyway; the rest of us stood in the 99% humidity and wondered.
Meanwhile, my son was still at school on the other side of town, and my husband was still on his way home from work. Thank God for cell phones. Finally, they caught the stupid fugitive (lemme at 'im!) and the decision was made to let the buses run. I found Abby in the school hall and took the girls home where the hubs had just arrived. He said when he passed Jonah's school there was a 2-block line of cars waiting to pick up their children--the van can't idle so he had to wait for the car--so rather than drive, I walked the mile to the school just to make sure the buses had made it there as well. It only took a few minutes to get there, but the place was almost deserted. I felt much better, because I knew Jonah had been put on the bus. And indeed, once I arrived home he was there waiting.
My irrational mother hormone wanted to keep the kids home today. I still have a headache.
The whole thing drove home what will happen if there is ever a real disaster. My three children, each at a different school (with apparently different tactics to handle lockdown), and a couple-thousand parents trying to retrieve their children all at once...It's anxiety-inducing. I hope the school leaders have learned something that will make the process easier in the future.
What is your view of 40, whether or not you've made it there yet?
Today I have something good to say, and the news, while not pressing, is at least news. I had a rare phone conversation with Sara, my agent, in which she said she loved my newest book, BVA. That's the news, that somebody loved my work. Lame, I know. But she's never said how she feels about my work one way or the other, so although the assumption is that of course she likes it or she wouldn't have represented me, it's nice to hear, out loud, that she kept sneaking away to read it, even though she was on vacation.
I wasn't sure she'd like it because it's so different from EG, the one that caught her eye in the first place. I was absolutely sure she'd tell me she couldn't represent it, but of course that was just my writer's neurosis kicking in. Or as Marta puts it, Melodramatic Mind.
So as soon as I correct all the typos she found, it'll be going to the editors who've requested it. *sighs in relief*
Speaking of EG, I've thought about publishing it through a small e-publisher to gain some traction, if only in my mind. It's basically done, because even if a publisher buys BVA, EG is so different it's unlikely the same person would pick it up. Sara's advice was to go for it, but not to sign any rights away. This eliminates any publishing company, small or not, because they will want to have a contract for 2-3 years or forever. If EG caught a big publisher's interest while the electronic rights were tied up, they probably wouldn't touch it no matter how much they loved it.
So that leaves self-epublishing, as Dane just did with his short story collection. I just don't know if I want to work that hard.
Many of you may not define a morning spent cleaning the garage as "great", but I love taking care of my home. Let me say that a different way: I love when my home is not chaotic. Since I'm the only one who cares and I don't have the means to hire the necessary laborers, that means I get to do it. So while I may not love the work, I love having done the work.
I feel that way about writing, too. Most of the time I'd rather be doing something else, but once it's done, my satisfaction makes it all good. I guess a lot of worthwhile, fulfilling things are that way, like college and childcare and marriage. Sure, you like the work enough to keep doing it, but the real reason you do it is the payoff. A degree, well-adjusted children, partnership. A novel. A place to put the lawnmower. You know, the payoff.
What's your payoff?
It was pretty easy to fall into the school year. Easier to be alone that first day since I knew what to expect. However, we were all nervous about their first day, especially my oldest, who went into middle school. The poor thing was so wired she cried about it several times in the days prior. Of course, on the second day she skipped out to the bus and waved good-bye with a grin. She was fine, as were the other two. And me.
So with the kids at school and my obsessive craftiness satisfied, I'm turning my thoughts toward my next project, whatever that will be. This morning I brainstormed story ideas but didn't get very far. I think I'll start with this half-done middle grade fantasy, to let me sink into the familiarity while I get back into the daily writing thing. I think the creative floodgates are about to open. Y'all stand back. Don't want to get brain juice on ya.
I will probably start looking for some sort of job to do from home, but I don't know if I'm enough of a self-starter to follow that through. One interesting development to report is that I'll be the senior editor of a little startup e-pub called Cove. The details haven't been hammered out yet, but I'll let you know what happens. It will at the very least be a huge learning experience, and at the most a financially successful venture. Can't lose.
My brother is also starting school this month. It's a huge change for him, as it would be for anyone going back to college after 20 or so years (25?) And I'm super-proud of him for even attempting it. I've never had the guts. And like my venture, this is also a can't-lose. I also win, because he'll be living right down the street from me.
Hope you all have a great weekend.
Finally I moved into the eye sore which is my porch room. My favorite desk is still in the shed, way too big to fit in the 6'x10' space, so I set a board across the top of my wobbly tv tray, and that's where I finished BVA. Ridiculous, really, how I dedicate only the barest of resources to my writing space, using only whatever detritus isn't in use somewhere else in the house.
I refuse to go another year as a writing vagabond, so last week I decided to get a real desk to fit the space. I declared I would find one just the right size at a garage sale, ugly enough to be cheap, but sturdy enough to last, with drawers, a top where I could spread papers next to the laptop, and if I was lucky, a keyboard tray.
First garage sale, I found it, keyboard tray and everything, for ten bucks.
[caption id="attachment_1918" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="It's ugly, but it has good bones."][/caption]
It was meant to be. The lady who sold it to me breaks out when she comes in contact with fragrance, so she uses no air freshener or anything. It smelled like wood, that was all. Hallelujah! (The little drawer thingy off to the side smells like cigarettes, unfortunately. It's been airing out for three days in the sun.) Then I lucked out and found a beautiful blue-gray color for $3 on the oopsie shelf at Lowe's. I had some old knobs from another dresser, so I spray-painted them silver, and this is what I ended up with:
It took a little work (and it still needs another coat of paint) but it's perfect for the space. Did you notice something in the background? That's right, this room is also unfinished. Sigh. My next goal is to somehow get some sheetrock home from the store and patch those holes. Even better, I'd like to tear it down to the studs and make sure it has great insulation and a smooth finish and no leaks. We'll see what happens. Meanwhile, I have a great desk on which to compose my next masterpiece. I'm using it right now. I love it.
[caption id="attachment_1921" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Mitzy tried to help line the drawers."][/caption]
The kids are all registered for school, and they start in two weeks. I can't believe it's that close! We even bought most of their school supplies already, a nicer experience now that I know I can buy the cheap stuff if necessary. The registration was also better than in previous years, because they put the forms online to fill out in advance. The whole thing took 20 minutes instead of two hours, which was heaven for my fragrance sensitivity.
My older daughter is going into middle school, and looking back at when I was her age, that seems to be the most pivotal time in my life. We moved to another town that summer, where the girls already had a grasp on fashion and firm, if unspoken, rules in place. It was a hard transition I was never able to solidify, and so began my life on the fringes of society. I'm glad my daughter won't go through that. I guess there will be other trials waiting for her, but they will be her own.
So summer vacation is almost over. I've met the goals I set for myself at the beginning, which were to finish my book and forget it, and after that, to read a lot, spend time with my kids, and work on household matters. I still don't have a proper desk, so maybe I'll make that my goal for the remainder of the summer. That way, when the kids are back in school I'll be ready to write again.
Have you met your summer goals?
So I thought.
I forgot my 11-year-old is a voracious reader with a vocabulary as big as mine. She wants to read all kinds of inappropriate books, as I did at her age, just because she's already read everything appropriate in the house. Last night she told me she'd been reading the backs of these scrap papers, because BVA was "awesome." She said sometimes she even gets several consecutive pages so she can read a bigger chunk at a time.
It's hard to turn down someone who's dying to read my work, and who will undoubtedly be complimentary. So after she begged me a while, I told her I would edit out the objectionable parts and let her read it. She's already bugged me about it twice more this morning.
So now I'm wondering, will this affect how and what I write? I want to write things my kids will love. The hubs doesn't read fiction anymore, so he doesn't factor in. Sex scenes embarrass me. It seems like a no-brainer to stick with Middle Grade or Young Adult. BVA is going to YA editors, I think.
Something to think about.
I don't know what in the hell happened to me, but I woke up early this morning, like five o'clock, when the hubs got up for work. I usually sleep right through his morning routine, but not today. It may be that my aching bones made it hard to get comfortable. I'm so old.
My mom turned 59 last week, and my dad will be 60 in August. My in-laws are in their late-60s. My step-daughter is married with a baby, and all my cousins' kids are grown up with mates and kids of their own. Makes me wonder where the time went. Have I done everything I was supposed to do? I know I have many years left, but I used to believe I had greatness in me. It turns out I'm just a regular gal after all. Even if I do something great, I've established my regularness.
It's pretty nice, actually, knowing I'm regular. Back when I thought I had a special purpose in this world I felt a lot of pressure. Now if I accomplish any kind of greatness, it's all gravy.
- sucking up spiders with the vacuum;
- putting on a bra;
- buying a bag of Quikrete and some sheetrock to maybe finish out the porch room;
- more coffee;
- maybe a movie. Gotta love Netflix + Wii.
So here are some links I've come across through the week for your lazy Saturday surfing pleasure. First one came from Marta, about how writers have to be attractive and/or photogenic nowadays, not just good writers. Ack!
Here's a funny video poking fun at the toxic chemical lobby.
Since I won an autographed copy of Ghost Swamp Blues, by Laraine Herring, I thought it would be nice to give linky love to all involved. I was introduced to this author's work when Sarah Stockton kindly sent me Writing Begins with the Breath. Laraine's writing speaks to me on a cellular level, so when she pointed her Facebook friends to a contest on Lisa Romeo Writes, I jumped on it. And it paid off. Woo! Can't wait to read it.
Hope you have a fabulous weekend.
So there's this hurricane rain coming up from Texas. All around us, creeks and rivers are overflowing their banks, flooding populated areas. However, I think they closed the invisible dome over my city again, because we've fallen into the same pattern as last summer: rain dissipates as it approaches Tecumseh and re-forms on the other side, or else we watch the rain curl around us on the radar while we enjoy white puffies and peeks of blue. I see the dark clouds on the horizon in all directions, but they stay on the horizon. I don't want the flooding, but the anticipation of rain with no release is putting me on edge. Open the dome, people!
Still not writing, and I'm okay with that. The ol' batteries are about half-way charged, so I'm on track to be ready to go when the kids return to school in a month and a half. The pull is getting stronger. When my agent sent me line edits on the rewrite of my synopsis, I was ecstatic to actually have something legitimate to do. I love the process, I love having a job to do. Working for someone else has priority for some reason, as when I was editing for Eternal Press. I'd spend hours on it, take pride in turning it in early. When my own manuscript was nearing completion, I worked toward the day I could turn it in to my agent, and somehow it made it more urgent than when I was writing for myself. I know for a fact when I have an editor waiting for my edits, or for a whole new manuscript, I'll be working twice as hard as I do for myself. I'll close the dome over myself and let the distractions glance off.
Spots of news:
- I painted the soffit above my kitchen cabinets, finally. When we moved into this house there was terrible (TERRIBLE) 80s wallpaper, red and yellow plaid with touches of green, overlaid with an ornate fruit border. I figured bare walls were better than that wallpaper, and I was right. A while back I'd painted the backsplash a nice, bright blue, but the soffits were bare for about three years. Now it's light coffee, a very nice neutral I found for $5 on the oopsie table at Lowe's. I guess in a few more years I'll get around to changing the green, red and yellow indoor-outdoor carpet. It's ridiculous.
- On a related note, for your next painting project, you simply must use the low- or no-odor paint. I think they've changed the regulations for new paint so that it has to be low-odor, so that means get rid of your old, stinky stuff.
- My plan for the summer had been to read a lot and let my creative batteries charge, after the long, slow drain of BVA. Being a bit impoverished, I snatch up all the bargain books I can find (with apologies to the authors, but I wouldn't be reading their books at all if I'd had to pay full price). I recently found a treasure trove at Big Lots, and picked up a few big names. The first I read was fellow Oklahoman Marcia Preston's Trudy's Promise. She writes with such beautiful, heartfelt simplicity. Now I'm working through Kate Mosse's Sepulchre, quite a different style from Marcia. Sepulchre took a while to hook me, because I thought it would beat me to death with the "was"es and the "were"s. Once I got used to her style, though, I've enjoyed it.
So what's been going on in your world?
I know my yelling won't change a damn thing, so I calmed myself and told her I was behind her, if not her decision. She swears she's thought it through, and I believe she sincerely wants to make a life with him, not just cause drama. But, you know...she's known him a month. Who shows their warts after a month? Z's so young, she doesn't even know what she doesn't know, and of course she won't listen to the wisdom of her elders who maybe DO know what she doesn't know. Who may know a little something about how people can surprise you, disappoint you, in ways she can't even imagine. He seems like a nice young man, but you know...so did Ted Bundy.
I'm sure he's not a Ted Bundy, but maybe he drinks too much. Maybe a little disrespect will start to show after they've been together a while. Maybe he's a cheater. Maybe she shows him something he doesn't like and he wants to leave, but now, you know, they're committed. Also, there's her baby to consider.
Even though I'm trying to be there for her, I want to strangle her. I want to save her from a life of struggle. She doesn't know she's probably laying the foundation for that very life with this action. It's hard enough being a teenage mother, but she's going to add the stress of marriage to that? As far as I can tell, she has no plans to go to college. I'm reminding myself that she's technically an adult, and it's her right to choose her own path. At the very least, this will teach her something about life. And heck, maybe they'll prove the cynics wrong.
I thought about deleting this, but there's nothing here I haven't told her, except maybe the strangling part. She's not my blood but she is my daughter, and it's just hard, you know? Thanks for listening to me ramble.
It's been a week since I turned in my manuscript. During that time I've basked in the glow of satisfaction, and also have identified some missed opportunities with the story. I could beat myself up about them, but I know those opportunities would never have become apparent if I hadn't let it go. Having been through this process before, I know there's always something I could have done better. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's that way with most writers, not just me, so I don't worry about it too much. I did what I did and now the book has to stand up tall, or fall over like a drunk girl on a slippery barstool. (Those days are long behind me.)
Anyway, it's done for now.
I've really enjoyed my break from writing. So much, in fact, that the first few days I started to worry I was enjoying it a little too much. Maybe I wouldn't want to start a new project, or maybe I'm out of ideas, or...whatever. But by Friday I was feeling that familiar pull to the computer, and then over the weekend little random ideas started pinging my brain, and last night I even thought about brushing off an old middle-grade book I started a few Nanowrimos ago.
I'm not ready to dive into anything just yet, but at least the desire is still there. The blinking cursor no longer mocks me. That's nice.
I'd been toying with the possibility of having a static front page, but I didn't know what to put there. I like the way this one's laid out. Of course, when I start promoting a book I'll probably have to get a real website built based on that, but this will work for now.
So apparently this is a time to prepare my external persona for success. If you're on Facebook, I have an author profile that will go active if I get a publishing contract. I expect it to be the easiest place to do news updates and such, and an easy way for people to connect to me. Log in to your Facebook account, click this link:
and then click the "Like" button, and you'll be all signed up. If you "like" my author page it will show up in your friends' news streams, and that'll spread the word. Some of you are already on there, and I thank you. Also thanks to those who gave me notes on this theme. (Talking 'bout Soho Serenity.)
Time to go eat lunch with the hubs.
I've been working on this book so long, some of my newish blog buds might think it's my first. There was another before BVA, a magical romp with a young lady on the run, forbidden love and fireballs. It was called Stolen Magic at first, and later changed to Ea's Gift to avoid duplicating another published novel. This is the effort that caught my agent's eye, even though it went nowhere and was eventually shelved.
Writing EG was fun and exciting. I thought every book would be that way. Hahaha, what a silly goose I am.
Writing BVA felt like slicing open my own gut, pulling out my intestines, measuring the entire slippery length, then hauling them back in and stitching the wound myself. I didn't realize till I finished that sentence how true it is. Now that it's finished I can see why it was so hard, but that will be a post for another day.
The Na'vi were so realistic that it gave me the hope that my work-no-longer-in-progress could someday be made into a believable movie. The last thing I'd want for a movie made out of my book is a bunch of people running around in lizard suits. Is that so much to ask?
But the real news for the week is that I finished my book. Really.
No, stop laughing. I'm serious.
I spent all day Sunday in a marathon of editing, and at 9:30 pm a box popped up to let me know I had no more comments or tracked changes. The manuscript was clean. My eyes opened wide and then squeezed shut, and I put my face in my hands and squealed. I'm sure it didn't look weird at all.
At the end I still had some formatting tweaks to do, but the story was done, damn it, so I saved the formatting for Monday morning. Once that was finished I began assembling the package to email Sara, my agent, and soon found that I'd not done an important step: rewriting the short synopsis to fit the new ending. Rackin-frackin mumble mumble... At this point I was so close I could smell it, and it smelled good. Gah!
So Monday was spent rewriting the rackin-frackin synopsis, and then late Monday night I composed possibly the most momentous email of my life up to this point. I attached the novel, the regular synopsis, and a longer, 17-page synopsis specifically requested by an interested publication...and hit send. My agent confirmed receipt just a few minutes ago. It's out of my hands.
I really had no idea I'd be so relaxed once it was gone. I've gotten used to the low hum of anxiety that always, from the very beginning, accompanied this book. All day my thoughts would drift toward that waterfall: "Why am I doing this? I should be writing!" Now usually, the next thought is smashed on the rocks below: "I can't write, okay? I have to clean the toilets sometime!" But today, I realized the waterfall was behind me, and whatever whitewater tossed my thoughts about, a sparkling pool lay beyond.
So basically, that was a beautiful metaphor for why I cleaned toilets without guilt today.
I have so many thoughts and feelings about finishing, some will have to wait for another day.
Mine is, unfortunately, a book I can't name.
The story is etched into my memory, as well as the names of some of the players, the settings and the emotions and situations. Etched, I say. Only problem is I did not retain the author's name, nor the title of the story. It was not a book unto itself, because it was in a sf anthology. I remember it was fairly long, longer than all the other stories in the anthology. I wasn't really old enough to judge the length of a story at the time, but looking back I'd estimate it at 20k words.
The anthology came from my dead grandmother's library. We had a ton of books inherited from Grandma Jerry, all from the fifties and sixties, maybe up through the early seventies. This one seemed like a late sixties to me for some reason--maybe because it seemed really old in about 1980. Most of the books were book-of-the-month clubbers and Reader's Digest Condensed, none of interest to an eleven year old, but a few gems were scattered among them, like this book. It's almost certainly out of print now, but I wish I could read it again to see how it holds up. It took hold of my imagination the way few other stories have, and solidified my love of speculative fiction, though I didn't know there was a difference back then. A story was a story.
You may stop reading here, as the rest of the post is the story as I remember it, but before you leave, answer this question: What's your Magician's Book?
It was set in a somewhat primitive future after an unnamed but presumably man-made disaster, the clues pointing to nuclear weapons. Babies were inspected for mutations at birth and, if found to be imperfect, were left in the forest to die. The child protagonist lived among the villagers, because parents hid her imperfection: six toes on each foot. The protag's little sister, Petra, had a mutation that no one could see--telepathy.
The protag is found out, I think, or maybe not but for some reason she flees to the forest. Remember all those babies they left to die? They've created their own society in the woods, and they take in the protag. She meets an exceptionally lanky young man named (I think) Charles, and they war with the villagers.
So eventually, an airship comes and drops these filament things over the whole battlefield (can you say deus ex machina?) which hardens over everything and everyone, including the protag and her boyfriend. I remember a horse suffocating, but I can't remember if everybody else died. I know the main people were cut free and taken up to the airship where they were transported across the nuclear wasteland to civilization. Apparently, Petra, the little sis, had contacted them telepathically, and they embrace the mutations.
After all that, I think I remember the protag's name is Marie. Wish I could find that anthology again.
I haven't been online a whole lot to save my eyes for the really important stuff. I expect to send the book off to the agent within the week. She may have edits for me, but they shouldn't take long. I'm ready. I'm done, now I just have to get the manuscript to agree.
While I did save the blankets from being dragged on the ground, whatever it was I felt I needed to prove has not been proved. The way I was oriented in the tent left me about two inches shy of being able to stretch out. My old roll-up mattress was only slightly less hard and lumpy than the ground. My joints protest on the average night, but this was an exercise in torture. Also, there was a bug.
Now, I've been camping before. The sleeping arrangements were never my favorite aspect, but I always pulled through okay. However, since the last time I went camping I somehow became middle-aged (might have something to do with all those years passing) and a middle-aged body on the ground is quite a different one than a younger body on the ground. I came in a little after 3 a.m. and haven't been able to sleep from the aching hips and shoulders. It's now 5 a.m.
Wonder how the hubs is doing out there. Probably sleeping like a damn baby.
It's a Herculean effort to stay in this chair, despite the deadline. The kids are home for the summer, for one. For another, the weather's beautiful. And lastly, right outside my tree is a mulberry tree loaded with fruit, which means birds, birds, birds. Woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, robins, and lots of others I don't know. And just now a tiny hummingbird hovered right in front of my window screen and chirped as if to say, "Whaddya doing in there, ya dumb human?" There's been more birds in my yard this year than ever before, but I'm afraid the neighborhood dog ran off all the bluebirds, because I haven't seen any since she killed all the fledglings.
So, yeah. It's difficult to sit in here when all of nature is inviting me outside.
To help me decide what color my site should be, I've asked a question of my kids and their father: What color do you associate with me? I got purple, pink, yellow and black. Hmmm.
Then I thought I could just separate the topics into their own blog posts like a normal person, but since my blog is a snapshot of my mood at any given time, I find it nearly impossible to write posts for the future. So far I've used blogging as a way of impressing my personality onto the Internet, quite unintentionally. I don't see it as a place to showcase my stories or to write persuasive posts, and I don't treat the posts like magazine articles the way some do. That's probably why I don't draw a lot of readers.
I think I'll try separating my topics into new posts. I'm experimenting, right? So maybe you'll get three or four posts this week instead of the usual point-five.
I don't think Zariah was as broken up as I was about me not being there. I sent along a gift only from me, a blank journal symbolizing her new stage in life, and I wrote her a letter to go with it. She's a woman now, officially. Graduated and 18 with a baby. Maybe I'll get used to it someday.
- My step-daughter graduates high school this evening. I decided to stay home, after much anguish and stress, because of the extreme probability of massive fragrance exposure. Me, fragranced out, wrangling three kids in a packed gymnasium for 3+ hours...I finally admitted it just wasn't going to work. I've already been exposed so much this week that it's built up and my tolerance would be nil if I were to go tonight. I bought her a special gift to show I care since I can't be there, and I'll write a letter telling her how proud I am.
- I finished updating the synopsis for Black Veil Angel, and now I'm waiting for my beta readers to get back with me before I start the final polish on that. During the lull I'll crit Allie's vampire mailman novel. I expect to have it done over the weekend.
- I've lost ten pounds now. It's slow, but I'm settling into healthier eating patterns.
- Lots of cosmic activity going on in my external world, with things breaking and tornadoes and enlightening coincidences. Sometimes when these turbulent times pass I come out with a deeper knowledge of myself...and sometimes I just feel like I've been beaten. Too soon to tell which will be the case here.
- This is the kids' last day of school.
- Sunday is the finale of Lost. ZOMG LOST
How many times have I said I was going to start blogging MY way? Lots. I keep saying it, and I keep falling back into that same old rut. So I'm not going to say it anymore, and I'm just going to warn you.
Watch out! It's about to get crazy up in here!
Okay, maybe not crazy. But I do feel the need to experiment. I'd like to hit on something that can keep me interested and draw new regulars. Don't know what that'll be, but...
On a completely unrelated note, I've been having deja vu for a couple of days now. Lots of pings, such as while I was writing this post.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Tomorrow is my fourth blogging anniversary. I used to care. I used to feel this need to spill, and this was the only place people listened. Maybe Facebook has replaced this blog as my daily connection to humanity so I just don't need it anymore. Maybe I'm too worried about seeming like a pro so I censor myself into boredom. Or maybe I'm just in a lull and need to appreciate this quiet time. I'm glad I'm not hooked on it anymore, even though I feel I owe it to the blog to continue.
At any rate, I want to thank all of you who are still around. Let's see, four years ago I had:
- two kids at home all day and one in school;
- no agent;
- literally no friends;
- only one book finished, and even then it wasn't ready for submission;
- an embarrassing level of immaturity;
- a feeling of insignificance, accompanied by almost constant anxiety;
- no idea how much I could grow as a human being.
I'm looking forward to the next four years of my life, whether I'm blogging then or not. Who knows where I'll be? Good things have started to happen, and I feel they will only continue. I wish you the same. Have a great weekend.
And before that, on Sunday I gave in to pressure from my son to switch his room with his sister's. We have two bedrooms for the three kids, and for the past few years Jonah and Maggie Rose have been sharing because they were little enough that modesty wasn't a huge issue, and that way the toys are centrally located. Abby, being quite mature at 11, enjoyed her own space in the tiny 10' x 10' bedroom. Well now Jonah's 8 and Maggie's 6 and it's time to move the girls in together. Besides the modesty issue, I'm hoping this will cut down on the bickering, since each younger kid will have his/her own toy space, and doors between them.
Abby was sad to give up her privacy, but I think she's actually enjoying being in a room with her sister (for now). Jonah is a gregarious creature, and so he felt a little lonesome in his bed the first night. I promised both Abby and Jonah I'd paint one wall whatever color they choose. One chose Hulk green and the other chose purple. You can figure out which is which. ;)
Anyway, I'm tired.
Well first, I'm just coming out of a migraine so if you haven't seen me around in a few days, that's why. Darn sinusitis.
I quit drinking coffee for a while. Figured out that I can have one cup with no ill effect on my tummy, but my problem is stopping at one cup. I enjoy the ritual of the coffee, and also I feel like I owe it to the coffee to drink it. Weird, but that's how it is. I think a lot of us have that "clean your plate" mentality, which affects all my habits around food. A while ago I said I was going to do better with my food choices, and I have. I've only lost about five pounds, but I'm really working on the habit part rather than focusing on losing weight. Things like making sure there are healthy things in the kitchen, not being lazy about cooking, and thinking about portions rather than just shoveling it in till I can't anymore. Those are the things that will make me a healthy weight and keep me there. I can wait to hit that mark if I know it will last.
Oh yeah, I finished my book. Sent it to my first reader on Tuesday and had a migraine headache an hour later, whatever that means. Thinking of everything I've gone through during the course of this book is a bit overwhelming.
I didn't have the confidence to write this book when I started. It doesn't fit into a template, I see now. I tried to make it fit a template and ended up spinning my wheels for a couple of years. For a long time my forebrain told me it was a mess, even though it made a lot of sense to me, and the characters spoke with their own voices. Only when I threw out the template did it come alive and drive me to the finish.
We'll see how the public receives it, but whatever happens I've written the book I wanted to write, and that's a pretty damn good feeling. Later in my career, I will say, "That's when I learned how to be a writer." Shoot, this whole BVA period has taught me how to live.
Thank goodness the parents aren't allowed to ride the bus this year. I about died from being in that enclosed space with all those perfumed popinjays. It made the day very difficult, starting off with a pre-migraine and blurry vision. So this time I'm driving myself and I'll stay as far away as I can manage. I seem to tolerate being in buildings all right now, as long as there's no air freshener or candles or freshly-cleaned floors. I'm also going to take my nose filters if I can find a clean set. That usually helps.
It's raining which means we may not get to go on the train. Gosh, I am just full of optimism today, aren't I? Guess it's time to adjust my attitude, and that usually starts with a shower.
Apparently I missed the memo declaring today Twenty-five Mile Per Hour Day. I think it was also Cut Off Sherri in Traffic Day. So every time one slow ass would turn, I'd speed up to the limit only to have another one pull out in front of me like he was in a big hurry and then go the decreed 25 mph. To illustrate how ridiculous it was: As one car (the final one, but I didn't know that then) turned out in front of me, I yelled, "If you go 25 miles an hour, I will drive my car up your !@#$% tailpipe!!" (Note the double exclamation points for emphasis.) Unfortunately, he'd indeed received the memo, but my car wouldn't actually fit in his tailpipe.
Well at that point I just had to laugh. I said out loud to no one in particular, "Oh well. Maybe this is God's way of keeping me out of a wreck. You never know." I relaxed and kept on truckin'. Slowly, of course.
So that guy turned soon, and finally I was free to go as freaking fast as I wanted, and what I wanted was only the speed limit. I drove unfettered for a couple of miles, when up ahead I saw flashing lights in front of my grocery store. No lie, there had been what looked like a head-on collision. The wreck was fresh enough that there wasn't anybody directing traffic yet, but there were several cop cars so it had been at least a few minutes. I estimate ten. About the amount of time the slow asses cost me.
I guess I'll never know if someone was looking out for me, but just remember when somebody is bugging the shit out of you: Maybe they're bugging the shit out of you on behalf of your guardian angel.
What I did while writing the book was write each character the way he/she sounded in my head, and for most of them this worked well enough to get the accent across. My Scottish guy was the exception.
He never sounded Scottish to me. I really really wanted him to be Scottish. Really really. However, although I'd decided he should be Scottish, I'd done very little research on how to actually make him seem Scottish. I thought I'd be able to layer it in at my leisure. I'm finding it's not that easy. Also, there's no real reason to have him be foreign, except that I wanted lots of different places represented.
So now I'm on the verge of completing the book, and changing "your" to "yer" ain't gonna cut it. And I started asking myself, "If he didn't sound like a Scot in your head, why did you make him one anyway, you dimwit?" And the answer is, I didn't. I didn't make him a Scot. He's an American who sometimes says "wee lass" and "are ye out of your mind?" See? Now, I could go and make that "are ye out o' yer maind?" and that would be fairly Scottish. But to go back and spend an extra month to add that accent to an entire character's worth of dialogue wouldn't have a good cost/benefit ratio.
So Caellum is now Scottish-American, if there is such a term. He's still a rakish musician, still mysterious, still over-sexed, but I think he'll be relieved to stop speaking with an accent. He wasn't very good at it.
In the shower yesterday, it hit me.
A nose ring! I've always wanted one, but I never took the plunge. As I aged I got it in my head my time for frivolous body mutilation had passed. Not so! It hit me in the shower (as all good ideas do) that getting my nose pierced would be the perfect way to commemorate the publication of my first book.
Since my husband would have to look at it every day, I thought it polite to get his final approval. If he really didn't like the idea, I'd just get a fancy pair of earrings instead. Luckily he likes bad girls, so he jumped on board without compunction. The kids thought it was cool, too. Their teachers have weird piercings, for heaven sake.
So...yeah. When I get a book deal I'll announce it by posting a picture of myself and my new nose ring.
A big motivator is my kids, rather than simply my weight. I'm okay with being this size, as long as I come about it naturally and not because of some idiotic behavior I can't overcome, but my children give me signs that I haven't taught them what food is for. I have to do better, be a better role model so they will grow up healthy. That's a bigger motivator than the scale or tight clothes.
As you can see, the lenses are opaque with holes poked in them. To see how they work for yourself, poke a hole in a piece of paper with a pin and look through. If you normally wear glasses, you should be able to see clearly through that hole without your glasses. Something to do with the way light bounces around your retina. Click the link above for a complete explanation.
Anyway, I wore prescription glasses for a long time, about ten years, but I was never satisfied with my vision. It never seemed quite right, and finally I decided to go without glasses for a few days to see if my headaches improved. They did, and I could see fine after a few days of adjusting to naked sight after years of looking through goggles. I'm done with glasses forever. I'll never have prescription spectacles again until a government representative tells me I must.
It's a long story, but what I found during that experimental time was that I can see fine without glasses, but my vision deteriorates quickly when my eyes are fatigued, and that fatigue triggers migraines. I found pinhole glasses to be a cheap and easy alternative, and I only use them on days when a migraine feels imminent. Looking through the pinholes keeps me from having to focus too hard, and keeps the migraine at bay if I'm vigilant. And the rest of the time I don't have to wear glasses.
Pinhole glasses don't work well for web surfing, where your eyes are jumping from one element to another on the page, but they're good for reading, both on-screen and off. This pair was el cheapo and one of the arms broke off. I'd love to invest in a nicer pair.
I could talk about my pinhole glasses, but then you might think I'm a dork.
How about my new/old writing space? It's the previously unusable, newly-dubbed sunroom, complete with wasps and ladybugs.
I could write about my definition of writer's block, backed by personal experience. Or maybe something about the current WIP, soon to be completed. Or I could finish any one of the posts sitting in my drafts folder, dating back to the balloon boy hoax.
Nah. I just can't think of a thing to write about. Sorry.
In one week, the Little Bubba got the car door slammed on his fingers, ripped his hand open with barbed wire, got dive-bombed by a kite, fell of the front porch, and a bunch of other little owies I can't remember. That kid has a bullseye painted on his back and fate has the darts. It's gotten so every time I hear a thud or a shout I run straight to him. Good news is his little 8-year-old self is still "going good, great, happy" with his girlfriend.
The hubs is looking for a pickup. The van is getting more and more difficult to drive, so thank goodness we had a pretty good tax refund. We had decided to pay cash for an older vehicle rather than take on a car payment (you may remember that I have enough trouble keeping the bills paid as it is), but this afternoon we went looking and there's just not that much to choose from in the older pickup department. And let me just define "older" for you by saying the '97 Saturn I bought last year is the latest model I've ever owned.
I guess people either trade in their pickups every couple of years or they just keep them till they fall apart. The guy at Automax almost talked us into a 2007 Nissan Frontier by telling us he could get the payment down to $150 a month. But man, I just don't know. One-fifty a month when I was paying zero will be hard to swallow, especially when I figure in the insurance thing. So what are your thoughts on buying an older vehicle that may need more repairs, or making monthly payments on a newer one?
I'm reading it again, thinking how much I admire Laraine Herring's wisdom, and it occurs to me she might have a blog. I look it up and sure enough, she has one. Don't know why I didn't think of it before. I've added her link over there on my sidebar, and I hope you'll go look around. She's a creative writing teacher as well as a writer and has lots of good things to say.
The rigidity carried over into writing. I had it in my head that linear writing was the goal. Since it's easier to give advice on how to plot a novel than how to write the way you want, the writing sites are full of that linear advice. Notecards, outlines, software, exercises. Real writers write every day, I'm sure you've all heard that at one time or another.
Well I've spent a couple of years giving up on rules. Now my only rule is: Do what feels right, not what the world has told me I must do. It takes practice to learn how to tell the difference between the inner voice and the outer, but I think I'm getting pretty good at it. And as a result, I'm not afraid to write anymore, which is a big deal. See, ever since I got an agent I've felt out of sorts. You'd think it would be a freeing situation, not having to worry about every little thing, but I found I was worrying approximately six and a half times as much. I think I've licked it, though, and now I write without fear. I put absolutely no pressure on myself in the way of word counts or time frames. It's nice to have a goal as a guide, but if I don't reach the goal I merely set up a new one rather than dwelling on how I missed the old one.
Today I found myself thinking, "This book could be somebody's favorite someday." I really believe it has that potential, if I continue the way I'm going. It's a cozy feeling. I have that reader in mind while I'm writing, that future woman/man/teenager who will cherish this book for at least a little while. I write for the one reader who will fall in love with my characters, and hold that love in her heart for years to come. Connecting with that one reader is my personal definition of success.
And, of course, a million more like her wouldn't hurt.
I spent a long time knowing which I wanted to be. I wanted to be a plotter. I like the idea of controlling every aspect, having a template to work from. You'll notice I said I like the idea. In reality I hated working off that template. It never felt right, but I kept trying to fit myself into it. That's why I've had so much trouble writing this book, the biggest reason I considered giving up writing last year. I had made myself a template in the form of a tossed-off NaNoWriMo book, and I subconsciously suffocated.
So here's what I've learned about myself as a writer. I need:
- only a vague idea of what I want to happen in the story;
- to solidify the story through the characters;
- flexibility to try iffy directions without fear of "wasting" my words;
- and above all, to take my time.
None of these things mesh with the strict plotter I've always wanted to be. The plotters I know are like construction workers, building things. I'm more of an archaeologist uncovering things.
I may post more on this, but I've run out of time today. I'm taking the kids to the zoo and it's time to get ready. Why don't you tell me what kind of writer you are? Where do you fall on the scale of plotter/pantser?
I was glad to find out it was a legitimate bump! Woo! My blog was featured on this group I belong to on SheWrites. Welcome to all the new visitors! Feel free to comment or subscribe to my feed. New posts aren't as frequent as they used to be due to my working my butt off to get this book done, but of course you wouldn't know that if you're new! Forget I said anything.
Thanks to everyone who commented on my boy's story. I let him read the g-rated comments (lookin' at you, Knyt ;) and he was just thrilled he was such a hit. It also fluffed his feathers when the SheWrites reviewer mentioned his story specifically, saying she laughed so hard she woke the dog. I can't link to the review because it's a private group, but the reviewer is mystery writer Lauren Carr.
Full disclosure: After I posted the story he told me the "I could use a wetnap" part came from Spongebob. *sigh*
I'll admit I haven't been very active on SheWrites, but I've always thought I should be. If anybody wants to connect on SheWrites (which accepts men, too!), click that badge in my sidebar and I'll see you there.
It’s about three kids. Jupiter is 13, Alex is 12, and Mary is 5. They have super powers. They have to fight gigantic stupid worms. And electric monsters that hit them in the face. And dragons who like picking their wings with their toenails. And ice monsters that like freezing their butts off.
And they have a pet bird named Carl Manbirdy. They have to find the Stone of Dreams. Oh yeah, and plant monsters and rock monsters and lava monsters. What do they do with those monsters? Sometimes, play cards.
First they meet dinosaurs playing hockey and have to play hockey with them to get through the rink. Then Alex slips and fall on one of the dinosaurs’ tail. Then the dinosaur goes crazy and tries to eat Alex alive. And then Jupiter and Mary run over and step on someone else’s tail on accident. So then all the dinosaurs go crazy and try to eat them alive. They grabbed one of the stick thingies and they hit the big round thingy into the big hoopy thing. So they get a score, the dinosaurs run after them and they throw their stick thingies at them and the net falls down and they get away.
Then they get to the lava monsters, who are allergic to pizza sauce. The lava monsters hate each other, and they use pizza sauce to kill each other. Then the kids grab the bucket and hit them all in the face with the pizza sauce and the lava monsters’ faces puff up like a cupcake. So they fall over and say, “I could use a WetNap.”
This entire post was written while using my new keyboard for the first time, so it might be a bit boring. You’ve been warned.
So I’m working with a new keyboard, a real splurge. It’s a Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 3000 with a matching wireless mouse, and it has a great keystroke action. A huge improvement from the old Dell keyboard that came with my desktop machine. The coolest thing about this keyboard is that it has a tiny USB receiver which snaps into the bottom of the mouse so I don’t lose it. The keyboard is really light, so I can carry it around to use on any computer I want. Right now I have the keyboard on my lap while the laptop sits on the couch next to me.
And you might be wondering why the heck I would need a keyboard on the couch when I have a frickin’ laptop, right? Well I’m only trying it out on the couch, I doubt I’ll use it here on a regular basis. I’ll be using it mostly at the computer desk while writing. Using a laptop on a table can be ergonomically terrible, and I was developing pain in my arms and wrists and shoulders and back and neck…does that just about cover the entire torso?
Since I realized what was causing all this discomfort, I plugged in to the desktop’s keyboard and mouse, and while it helped with the discomfort, that stupid keyboard is a nightmare for a typist of any speed. The profile of the keys is a mile high, and they depress only if they are hit square in the middle, so that means I’m typing along, thinking I hit the keys and when I look up I see I’m missing every fourth letter. So I slow down and still end up having to backspace constantly to fill in missing letters. When I started shopping on the Internet the best one looked to be the Logitech Wave, with its gently rolling plane, but when I went to Staples to try it out the key action just wasn’t perfect. The one I ended up with has key action pretty much like my laptop, only maybe a little clickier, which is actually kind of nice.
The only bad thing about my purchase is that I chose a neoprene wrist rest, and the off-gassing is TERRIBLE. I doubt I’ll be able to use it. It needs to sit out in the sun and bake out all those noxious fumes.
But the keyboard, yeah, it’s great.
Case in point:
Yellowcat sent me this t-shirt as a prize for her little movie-lines contest. Now I have the only t-shirt from Bubba's in Oklahoma, it's safe to assume, and I wear it with pride. (Yes, I know it's backwards. Too lazy to flip it.) Thanks, Holly!
And another confirmation my blog friends are indeed flesh-and-bone people:
I helped Ian on three of these books. I was a beta on Mustang Sally and Troubleshooters (my fave) and helped him in the Amazon book contest process on Deep Six, and though I didn't work on The Archmage, he knew I'd like to have a complete set. He threw The Archmage in for kicks. These will be worth something someday, guaranteed. They're signed and everything. A very sweet thing to do. Thanks, Ian!
And these aren't the only things I've received from you guys. I've gotten snail mail from several of you, and books, and cds, and I just love getting these little pieces of my Internet friends. So now I'm thinking maybe I should have a contest and give something from my world as the prize. I'm going to really have to think about what it could be.I write, of course, and I can sketch, sort of. I don't work, so no t-shirts. I have a daughter who makes her own greeting cards and a son who draws the coolest action scenes ever. I have several writing books I could pass along. Have I mentioned anything on the blog that made you say, "If only I had one of those"?
And what could the contest be? Oh dear.
So when I came into a little extra cash, I researched a new laptop. This one weighs eight pounds, and the screen resolution is for watching videos which makes everything tiny, and a few other little quirks. But mostly, I was sick of the power issues from both laptops.
What I found was this: Laptops are expensive, y'all. Sure, I could get an el cheapo from Wal-Mart and compromise on features, but why get one that won't do what I need it to do? And my current one was top of the line when it was made (the original owner was a gamer) so it's still fast and relatively responsive. Yes, it's a behemoth at eight pounds. But it does everything I need, plus I've become attached to it, and I really don't want to have to change all my stuff over. So I spent a hundred bucks on a battery.
The communication issue must have been in the battery itself, because Windows recognized the new battery immediately. Yay, no more unexpected shut downs! No longer will the needle crash into the hard disc surface! Woo! I went unplugged for my evening Web surfing and got about 2 1/2 hours out of it, although I noticed watching videos suck the power fast, maybe 3x as fast. When I ran just Word and email, the power drain decreased to a crawl. I think if I could stay offline I could have a good 4-hr writing session on just the battery.
Although I haven't been off the couch with it yet, just knowing I can be is a good feeling. No I just need a bag that will fit Gigantor.
I went up to the office for a while yesterday. It doesn't get much use since my kids are all in school. I miss it. Although, while I was up there yesterday something was irritating my eyes. I think it's the stinky chair. (I tried to find the posts about the office and the stinky chair for the new readers, but I think they're on the old blog.) So that chair has to go, and then we'll see. It makes sense now why I've always felt sleepy up there. Some subtle chemical irritating my eyes. I've only been up there 2-4 times since I eliminated fragrances.
The writing went very well yesterday, though, despite the irritation. I've been feeling pretty crappy about this book because it I was cutting and cutting, watching my word count drop and drop, and that is the most depressing damn thing in the world. Yeah, yeah, I was cutting bad stuff. Whatev. But yesterday I saw an ENORMOUS plot hole, and I think I can make up all those cut words and then some! It's a huge opportunity for expansion. I'm excited again. And I'm still close to being done.
Gotta go get ready for my doctor's appointment. This is my yearly assessment of thyroid level, but I think I should also tell the doc about the old injury to my hand. I have the money but that won't be true in a couple of months. It's probably to late to do anything about it, but it can't hurt for him to look at it.