Monday, December 31, 2007

Happiness is...

(Note to say: weird, this post disappeared for a while. It must have been when I tried to revise and hit the "draft" button...)

I'm a happy girl.

I'm managing to get some (few) words in despite being home, which is rare. Child is thrilled, and obsessed in a good way, with her new dolls. We're all going out to lunch in a little bit, and then we're going to stock the fridge.

AND I just got to use my Amazon gift card. Hooray!

I ordered:

STORY by Robert McKee. I've read bits before from the library, but I want my own copy.
DREAMS AND WISHES: ESSAYS ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN by Susan Cooper, one of my favorite authors evah.
PRETTIES by Scott Westerfeld
BREATHE MY NAME by R.A. Nelson
and last but not least, a fabulous new book by a forum friend of mine,
THE SPYMASTER'S LADY by Joanna Bourne

Hoooraaaaaaaay!

Friday, December 28, 2007

yes!

I made it to 22,000. Whew.

A few recs

Goal: 22,000 by end of today. It's a stretch, but I can do it.

I've seen a couple of wonderful indie movies lately that I have to recommend. Last night's was a total surprise--we ran across it idly on the rack, and brought it home based solely on Alan Rickman's participation. Loved it. Trust the Rickman.

1. CHALK. A mockumentary following several teachers in their first years on the job. HIGHLY recommended for anyone who's ever taught. Or, you know, gone to school. I giggled.

2. SNOW CAKE. Don't read about this movie...you don't want to ruin any surprises for yourself. Just rent it and watch it blind. Good, insightful flick.

We've been on a movie kick. We've also seen The Nanny Diaries, We Are Marshall, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and many others I can't even think of right now. I lurve movies.

One more rec, for those of the book persuasion: I got GODS BEHAVING BADLY for Christmas. I haven't had much time to get very far yet, but I love it. One of the most original things I've seen in a while...and reminiscent of Douglas Adams. (high praise!)

Off to work!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yay, 1000 words today! And a brand-new scene I'm happy with. Yay!

Oh, it was a good one

Usually, Child wakes me up with a gentle tapping on my back. Sometimes it incorporates into my dream, like the alarm buzzer, but she just keeps up the tapping, tap tap tap, until I respond.

Yesterday it was more of a thump thump thump.

"HE CAME!" she said, in a barely restrained whisper. I rolled over immediately, to find two big eyes, right there. "He CAME and you'd never believe it I've never seen so many presents IN MY LIFE!"

She bounced up and down, clutching her teddy bear, beaming.

"Really?" I whispered back, snapping out of grogginess pretty quick. "Did he eat the cookies?"

"YES! I looked, and there were only CRUMBS LEFT! And he drank all the milk except for THIS MUCH!" She scrunched her fingers together in a fist, showing me a teeny gap, and grinned. Bounce, bounce, bounce. "And I've never seen so many presents, and you have to come look, and there's a present on top that's shaped like a TURKEY! Come ON!"

There was no "okay in five minutes" yesterday. There was only a smile between me and hubby, and a quick throwing on of socks and such, and an even quicker push of the coffeemaker button.

And then it was Christmas.

The rest of the day was wonderful, filled with surprises and playing and phone calls and a lovely time with grandma and grandpa. But that...that was my favorite moment. That lasts me all year.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!


My house isn't clean and shiny and sparkly, but we've been spending all our time playing together, making crafts and fudge and wrapping presents. Listening to Christmas carols. Watching the Grinch, all snuggled up on the sofa. Ticking off the days on our advent calendar. There is nothing quite like having a 5-year-old at Christmastime. Everything is vibrant, thrilling, and magical. I adore it--Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, and this one is looking to be the best of all.

Merry Christmas, everybody. May you all have a wonderful New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

One day

A day in the life...yesterday.

I wake thinking of snakes. I have to remember to add the snake idea into my WIP. Add in a brief mention in previous scene, longer bit in current scene, with explanation.

Realize that the water is boiling, Child is not fed yet, and I really have to put together that pasta salad for the potluck. Go do all this, dress child in fancy velvety Christmas dress with fur. Shower and clean myself up, check on husband, get everyone to sign cards for teachers, herd out the door.

Arrive at Child's Christmas program, chat with parents. Watch the rather surprising choice of a play about a child dying from the atom bomb attack, then Child ringing Christmas bells. Think idly about snakes. Wonder if I need to rework that last paragraph...something's not right there.

Abandon the hour-long line for a buffet of cocktail weenies, go out to lunch instead. After lunch, split off and go Christmas shopping (alone!). Puzzling over what happens next in the story, while driving under big lit-up bells hanging at the stoplights.

Go home, clean. Decide I need to definitely take out that last para about snakes...too telling. Don't get a chance though, because Child and hubby come home. Play.

Pack dinners, head out to basketball game. Stuff self with popcorn and candy.

Come home, rush Child to bed, zone on sofa with hubby and a movie. Go to bed at midnight. Fall asleep thinking about plot and boyfriend issues in the book, and snakes. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

snow

YAY! It's snowing!!

Finally. I was getting so tired of looking at brown with spots of muddy ice.

If you're going to live in Montana, you should at least get a white Christmas...

A dirty secret

It's time to admit my addiction.

I tried to deny it, really I did. I tried to remove the temptation. I tried to pretend that if it wasn't right there, easily clickable, I wouldn't go look. I certainly wouldn't seek it out, right?

But oh yes, I do. I will click through three websites now to get there, daily. I snort and I giggle, and I spew coffee all over my monitor.

And in the name of facing up to it, I'm just going to add the link. No more being ashamed!

I'm a fug fan.

It's all A Novel Woman's fault.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What?

From The Onion today:



As a 30-something person who loved HP--not crazy love like some people, but I did order the thing in hardcover so I could read it before some fool told me what happened--I laughed out loud. I think maybe my husband wrote this piece, actually. :)

Looking back over my blog posts lately, _I'm_ bored. So here's the question all bloggers ask when they're tired of hearing themselves blah all over. What would you like more of? Giveaways would be good, right? What else? Craft? Gossip? Recipes?

I'm looking to inject a little life back over here, if the needle's not too big.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

work and yawning

In spite of excitement, Work continues. I added another 500 words to Ghost Girl, almost making it back up to where I was a week ago. I'm still convinced it's a Much Better book for it, though.

I'm also exhausted. In fact, I think I'm only vertical because of the 2 shots of espresso I had at 2 o'clock. Think they'll last until 9 or so?

Wait for it...

I. Have. News.

Which I can't tell you yet.

(Yes, I AM a tease, thankyouverymuch, but isn't that part of being a storyteller? Making your audience wait to know what happens?)

Just know that squee below? That's nothing compared to last night and this morning!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ghost Girl progress today:

cut 1000 words (ouch)
added 500 hopefully better ones

so far...

It has to come out somewhere...

squeeeeeeeeee!!!

{chewing fingernails}

That is all, for now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmassy update

Someday I may start blogging regularly again.

At the moment, I feel like I'm in a holding pattern--waiting for responses, waiting for work stuff, waiting for Christmas--so I never think there's enough to report. A few things, though:

  • I finished my finals! Wahoo, this term is over. I'm officially halfway through my Masters. (better start working on that thesis, huh?) I've also registered for next term. Advance warning: I'm going to be stressing about making movies next term instead of giving speeches.
  • I had a Major Revelation on Ghost Girl, and figured out all this stuff I had wrong for backstory (no, most of it isn't on the pages, but it needs to be right in my head). Major changes that affect character interaction, internals, etc. So I took a brief break in forward progress and am re-writing (loosely) the first bit. I like it MUCH better.
  • Our tree is up! Christmas shopping almost done, except a few stocking stuffers for my hubby and something for my mom. I think this weekend it might be time to do some baking.
  • Saturday, however, will be busy. Birthday party to escort Child to, then all of us are going to the Nutcracker, then out to dinner. Yay!!
Music: Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin yakking it up with "Marshmallow Cloud in the Winter" on a Pandora Christmas swing mix.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Morbid, but not so much

I'm thinking a lot about death today.

Cheerful, isn't it?

But perfectly reasonable, considering.

Evil Knievel died last week, and his appropriately over-the-top, jam-packed, star-studded funeral is taking place in about ten minutes, here in my little Montana town. He was born and raised here, and was proud of it. Though they acknowledge his bad points, people here are proud of him too. It's definitely more of a celebration than a solemn occasion--we went to see the red, white, and blue Evel memorial fireworks last night. {s}

In counterpoint, my next-door neighbor passed away unexpectedly this weekend. Hubby and I heard the sirens at a quarter to midnight and watched, shivering, from the window as he was wheeled out on a stretcher, a paramedic straddling him, pushing on his chest. As the ambulance sat in the driveway while they continued to work on him. As the mother and son stared, blankly, as the 14-year-old daughter cried quietly in the car. The ambulance eventually drove away, the cars following, but it was pretty clear what had happened. Hubby and I couldn't sleep, of course--we curled up together on the sofa and watched a late-night movie. Ever since I have been almost constantly aware of their sadness, but at the same time fiercely joyful and grateful for my own family, for being alive today. For having love.

I wrote out Christmas cards to my friends yesterday, and am hiding a little in my office today. I just want to be alone, to think at peace. (and I want to write, at lunch. More on that tomorrow)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Woot!

Huzzah!

A good writing day--the stuff is sparse, but I was giving myself the shivers, which is always a good sign. Got 1000 words, to 30%.

I also had my first of two finals this morning, and it went really well. So yay yay triple yay.

Song on Pandora that's making me dance: Victim of Love, Erasure. I am such an 80s girl sometimes. {g}

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A little change, a little stay the same

I'm here. Working on keeping my head in the new book instead of my email inbox, and making steady forward progress even if I must remind myself that this is in truth a shitty first draft.

I've been having a little trouble slipping into the skin of my MC...I get it for flashes, but mostly it's like she's not quite letting me in. I keep finding I was wrong about her--she doesn't like baseball at all (shame), she just likes to wear a Mariner's cap because her grandpa gave it to her. Oh, I say. Hmm. And must rewrite that bit. She dips in and out of being a photography buff (this I think is likely just me forgetting to keep that part in my mind).

And oddly, last night I realized I may have her name wrong. I heard a name on the radio, and suddenly something clicked in my brain and I thought, Ah. It's not X, it's Y. Maybe that's why you're fighting me, because I didn't even know you well enough to get your name right. We shall see. I'm trying out the new name today and see if I've got it this time. She seems much happier with it so far. (this last is the part where non-writers secretly think I'm insane)

I've also been reading Stephen King's ON WRITING, which has been recommended to me for years, rightly. Excellent. Most of the advice I've heard before, but it's always useful to be reminded, and in such an honest, no-bullshit, entertaining way. Actually that's probably the sum of his message, right there. Be honest. The story rules. Tell yourself the story on the first draft, tell it to others on revisions. Rock on, and keep at it. (I did meet Stephen King once, long ago at a wild Book Expo party, before he wrote this book. I was too overwhelmed to do anything but mumble.)

There's also a nice, completely true post by suricattus here about writing blahs.

Keep at it, fellow writers! Hope your holidays or pre-holidays are going well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

YAY!

I made my November goal for Ghost Girl! 15,000 words, 25%. Woo-hoo.

The story's taken off in a different direction than I expected, but that's always a good sign. I maybe get to do a little research this weekend, and then we get to the next exciting bit. {rubbing hands together, twirling mustache} I also unexpectedly came up with the beginning of another book last night. This is not the way I usually work, one book at a time, but I'm paying attention to it. It's a good beginning.

It's supposed to be -9 F tonight, which is damned cold. We haven't decided what to do yet, but I can promise you it won't be outside.

Speech done, check. Photography portfolio almost done. Work progressing apace.

Queries...still waiting. Wait wait wait wait wait. This appears to be a normal part of the process, so I shall continue...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dash

Two quick notes about my girls!

--An AMAZING review of Joanna Bourne's upcoming book The Spymaster's Lady over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. YAY Jo! We all knew it rocked. Now everyone else is starting to know it too!

--Vicki's over at the Romance Novel TV message board today only with her 3 co-authors to talk about Holidays Are Hell. Go say hi!

I'm not blogging because I'm:

--preparing for another speech
--working
--putting together my final project
--studying for finals
--Christmas shopping
--writing Ghost Girl
--querying Jenna

pretty much all at the same time. Later, gators!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shows and blog posts and writing, oh my

It's show season in Montana. We saw the national tour (as hubby says, probably "a national tour" not "the") of THE PRODUCERS last night. Amazing. I actually hurt from laughing so much, and the performers were spot-on.

Yay! I love being able to see super-class productions in small-town Montana! 5 minutes from my house, with no waiting!

In reading back over my old blog posts just now, I'm embarrassed by the contrast to now. Now mostly I do random updates on my writing progress and occasional notes, with little else. I used to be much more verbose. Hum. Maybe I said everything already?

Or maybe not. I think rather I'm choosing other outlets for those thoughts, and that's okay. At least partly. You always have archives. {g}

Speaking of writing progress {cough}, I've been struggling with the writing on Ghost Girl over the past week or so, and I realized this morning why. Somehow, I'm holding back again. I'm not dumping everything into it and just having fun. I'm worrying. I think it's reflective of the rigorous query process I'm going through right now with JENNA, with all the emotional ups and downs and simply high-strung waiting that involves. There's so much guessing, second-guessing, market-consciousness etc. in that process that it's dribbling over into my current work. I'm LETTING it dribble over.

I. Must. Stop. This.

Starting today. I'll revise the first bits later if I have to, but I'm freeing it up today. Moving on deeper, but with less stress. Letting my character be whoever the heck she is, even a swearer or a little bit of a bitch, if that's what she is. For now. Remembering that this is a SFD, not a perfect first draft. That I shouldn't start second-guessing my premise at this stage. (if it sells, it sells. If not...I'm writing a story here. It's the story that matters, not whether the premise is popular.)

So there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A moment

On Sunday night all three of us went to a wonderful show, with a pianist and a baritone, Leon Williams.

Wow.

Leon is a powerful singer, with a great stage presence and expression. He managed to connect with the audience and bring us along with him for a wide range of songs, from negro spirituals to Moon River to a kid's song Child has the book for, "Fiddle-I-Fee". His last song was the heady "Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.

Tears sprang to my eyes. I looked over at this 5-year-old, beautiful, well-spoken, reading Child sitting next to me, watching with eyes wide, feet bouncing on the chair, and I flashed back in an instant to the first concert we ever took her to. She was 3 weeks old, still a red-faced wrinkled tiny person I still didn't have a handle on. Hubby's brother-in-law was singing the lead role in a community production of Man of La Mancha, and they convinced us to bring her. She'll be fine, they said. You need to see this. So we bundled her up and took her along, and as soon as the first notes started, she cried.

You thought I was going to say she loved it all, didn't you? But she bawled. SIL and I high-tailed it out into the hallway, where we could still faintly hear the songs through the walls. We took turns walking and rocking her for the rest of the show. And when "Impossible Dream" started at the end, I looked down at this perfect little new being in my arms, and I thought "There's my impossible dream, right there."

And here we are now, at a place I couldn't even imagine then. She's still perfect (to me), but she's BIG. She's her own individual, marvelous person. And she can sit with us, holding my hand and enjoying the song in her own way.

Life rocks, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Meme

Jen tagged me. I don't know if this is good or bad...but here you go.

A) Four jobs I have had in my lifetime:
1. Scientific editor
2. Bookstore manager
3. Pet caretaker, when people go on vacation
4. Telemarketer (for 4 days before I quit…awful job)

B) Four movies I would watch over & over:
1. White Christmas
2. Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe (newest version)
3. Emma
4. Sound of Music

C) 4 places I have lived:
1. Butte, Montana
2. San Diego
3. Brighton, Sussex, England
4. Penryn, California

D) Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. ER
2. Saturday Night Live (sometimes)
3. Baseball
4. Um. That's all, really.

E) Four places I have been:
1. Florence, Italy
2. Dublin
3. The Bahamas
4. Winnipeg

F) Four people who e-mail me (regularly):
1. Julie
2. Vic
3. Husband
4. Dad

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Mexican
2. Thai
3. Salt (popcorn, chips, nuts, lime dipped in, you name it)
4. Chocolate

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
Maybe home writing/reading, but otherwise I’m good.

I) Things I am looking forward to this and next year:
1. Signing a publishing contract!! (positive visualization)
2. Attending Child's Kindergarten graduation
3. Christmas
4. Finishing Ghost Girl, starting the next one

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

weather report

November has finally hit. There's a scattering of snow and ice on the ground. There's a strong west wind, bending the trees and brightening our cheeks. And it's COLD. It was 9 degrees this morning.

I've completely forgotten how to deal with this. I gave in and brought my red winter coat out of the closet. Child's snowpants, hat, and gloves are dutifully crammed into her backpack, though she won't deign to wear them yet. But I must remember the Rules of Winter:

--when it's super-cold (or when you're getting used to it) don't go outside unless you have to.
--wear a COAT! Even if you're running to the next building and it looks oh-so-sunny from the windows.
--shuffle across the ice. yes, you look like an old woman, but it's better than falling and having to shuffle because you have a broken leg.
--bring a scarf to wrap around your ears. ears get cold in wind.
--boots work better for shuffling across ice than super-cute Skecher shoes.

And that is all. I think...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mosaic Hen

I got up over 10,000 words on Ghost Girl, with a burst of "what if this happened". I love those. I almost always follow them, and they rarely let me down. Onward! At least 16,000 by the end of November, maybe more. I'm starting to really enjoy this book. I remember this giddiness when writing Jenna...and it's like drugs. Once you've experienced it, you have to go back for another taste.
(Or so I hear on the drugs. No, Dad, I don't know from personal experience.)

Longer-term goal: I want the rough draft of GG done by March. Revisions slated for April.

Writing hard is the best distraction I can think of for the query process, which is just a weird thing. In spite of myself I jump when an e-mail comes in. I run for the phone to check messages. My superstitious side is surfacing in surprising ways. But I'm also optimistic, and excited.

Good news today, baby!

Lately I've been filled with an overall thankfulness and appreciation for ALL the good stuff in my life. Husband, Child, family, friends, writing, job. I love them all; I revel in them. Opportunities for creativity. The time and space to play around with words and the people who talk in my head. {g} Food. Wine. Chocolate. (Yes, it is food, but it deserves a separate category, I think.) Other people's stories, that involve me and touch me deeply. Gargoyles. Photos. The colorful mosaic hen Child made for me this weekend.

Okay, I think I'm going to share the hen. {s} And wish you all good news for today!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

more...

Yay! Another 900 words today, almost all tonight.

{tired but happy}

Keep it going

Huzzah! I got more good news yesterday, some for me, and some for Vicki...

HOLIDAYS ARE HELL just hit #21 on the NYT Bestseller List! Wa-hoodle!

And for good reason, too. I already raved about Vic's story, and now I'm reading Kim Harrison's, which also rocks.

I'm taking my co-workers out to lunch today, to thank them for all their tremendous hard work lately keeping up with our map orders. Whew. I deserve it too. {s} Hopefully I will be hungry again by then, as I've just downed a whole bag of microwave popcorn and two handfuls of M&Ms. What? I love food.

And tomorrow is parent-teacher conference day! Fortunately I already got the progress report to review before then, and it's all good. Thank God.

And last but NOT least, I got 900 new words on Ghost Girl yesterday, and am very pleased with how it's going. Should be at 16,000 words by the end of November, which is well into the plot.

Good news, people. May you have good news today too!

Monday, November 05, 2007

More on colors

This may sound obvious based on the way I keep changing my blog colors, but I've just had an "Aha!" moment that each of my books does have its own color scheme, and I'd been subconsciously changing the blog to match.

The Murderess's Tale was green and gold, like the embroidered skirt of a noblewoman's gown.

The Weirdest Thing about Jenna was blue (Jenna's color) and black and white, which echoed the theme of balance, as well as a few other related themes. {s}

Ghost Girl is all fall colors: warm oranges and reds and browns. I think that's all coming from Natalie.

Somehow this realization makes me very happy.

New colors

A new fall look for the blog. As I've said before, colors are very important to me...and my new WIP is fall-based. I'm going to be living in October for a few months at least. {s}

I had a wonderful weekend, and am still riding high on some good news and hoping for more (because I'm greedy that way). Good news today! Good news for everybody!

And speaking of good, GO GET HOLIDAYS ARE HELL. Sorry to yell, but I read Vicki's story The Harvest on Friday, and am still completely rocked. It is soooooo yummily good.

This week I'm pondering what it is to be an artist in various forms. More on this later...

Friday, November 02, 2007

stuff

'Lo.

Hope you all had a fun Halloween. Today is the second day of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. I was in Tecate for Dia de los Muertos once (we tried to go to the beer factory and it was closed, sigh), and it is a prominent holiday in San Diego and Los Angeles. I miss seeing all the skeletons.

I haven't been blogging just because I didn't feel like it. {s} Lots going on, though...I have a bunch of targeted queries out, and am waiting for responses (good news today, good news today is my mantra). Working on Book 3, now with the working title Ghost Girl. Note the floating ghostie in my avatar. Very busy personally, with all sorts of events going on...this is when the social and concert season picks up in Montana. I'm afraid we went a little crazy (again) on a silent auction last night...now to find out what we "won"...

I have not yet made it to the bookstore to buy Vic's new anthology, HOLIDAYS ARE HELL, or Jeaniene Frost's book HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, but I'm gonna. Today or tomorrow, hooray!

And we finally got tired of the horrible OnDemand movies, and gave in and signed up for NetFlix. Should start receiving movies today.

And you see why I haven't been blogging, because I am just a rambler. {g}

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo!


Happy Halloween!!
(this is my very own gargoyle/flying monkey, photo taken last night. It's sitting next to me on my desk right now...)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Surrey recap

I have returned!

Exhausted, but exhilarated. Still spinning from all the face time with my girls, not to mention agent meetings, workshops, discussions, and celebrations. Long, deep discussions and short, silly conversations. Hugs, tears, lots of "you-can-do-its" and raised glasses. I love Surrey.

karen, Kathy, Julie, Rose, Pam, Vicki, Deb, Jennifer, Diana, Stephanie, geez, everyone else...you rock.

I'm not going to go into any details about agents or requests or such, because I don't believe in sharing specifics about the query process as it happens. But I'll say that I had a lot to be happy about over the weekend, and it's all good.

Now I suppose--though I don't wanna--that I really have to go practice my speech for tomorrow. I'd so much rather be working either on tweaking my first chapter or writing the next scene of Book 3. Sadly, the speech requires more imminent attention.

(reluctantly sliding away...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And away!

Off to Surrey!

I'll see all y'all that are going, TOMORROW. Otherwise I'll see ya when I get back!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh

Oh. My. God.

Okay, things are a bit crazy here in Susan-ville. Yesterday a contingent of us went up to Helena to unveil the new Montana geologic map to the governor, which was very cool--though I somehow didn't quite expect the level of press. Three TV cameras, 2 newspaper reporters/photographers. Today we officially released the map for sale...and everything went crazy! The story got picked up by the AP, and orders are flowing in.

And my staff are rapidly going insane. {s}

In the middle of all this I'm trying to get ready for Surrey in two days, my presentation/critique tomorrow, and a 10-minute speech I have to do two days after I get back. Oh, and the little open house that's planned for tomorrow afternoon...

La la la la, I will be so happy when I am on that plane...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday!

Confidence back! {g}

I printed out the whole thing of Jenna yesterday. I love to see a whole book that I wrote in one, thick pile. Now I get to read it again, hopefully this time just to lose myself in the story.

I didn't get a chance to do much writing on Book3 yesterday, but I plan to make up for that today. Goal is at least 5% (3000 words) by the time I leave for Surrey. I'm sitting at 2200 something now, so this is eminently doable. AND the Dead Robert scene is next, yay!

There's an-almost-equivalent-to-Jenna stack of work waiting for me, so that's it for now!

Except the picture:
Yes, that's me, for a class assignment. Kreekie thinks it's freaky, but I rather like it. {g}

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A little shaky

So I'm not always confident.

Last night just before I went home I printed out (and re-read) my synopsis for Jenna. I don't know what it is about synopses, but even though it tells the story, it has the voice, etc....it still makes the story sound kinda weird, all crunched down like that. I think that's what spurred the two dreams I had last night:

1. I dreamed that I got a rejection letter back from my #1 agent, and it was strange (of course, it was a dream, duh) because instead of writing her own letter, she had written snarky comments all over my query, in orange pen. The sweet part about this dream is that after feeling very disappointed for about a minute, I looked up at my husband and said "well, let's tackle the list--let's send out ten new ones today" and immediately started writing queries to other agents. Good attitude turn around there.

2. Shortly after this one I dreamed that I had to read my manuscript out loud to a class. (The provenance of this dream isn't hard, as I was observing peer critiques in a creative writing undergrad class yesterday.) Except it wasn't really Jenna, it was some mutated blog form of Jenna with illustrations I had to show everyone, and a kid's poem to start. And I had that moment of panic where I realized this was just too weird to show anyone, much less sell...

And that's when I woke up and had to get ready for the day. It left me with a little residual sense of negativity, I must say--I wish I'd ended with the first one. Must move on and write on Book 3 today, and I plan to print up Jenna in the next couple days and read the whole thing just before I leave, to pump up my enthusiasm. Hopefully. {s}

Small things I've learned about Natalie in the past 2 days of writing/thinking (that may or may not ever actually make it into Book 3). These aren't major points, just details for me to know:
  • she's always late
  • she likes to wear baseball caps
  • she lived in Seattle when she was little
  • because of this she's a Mariners fan (you're welcome, Kreekie)
  • she has a soft spot for underdogs and will stand up to bullies
  • she's a bit of a daydreamer
  • she's not very into schoolwork, except art class
I really enjoy this part of getting to know a character. It feels like they become real, and settle into my head. And whether or not any or all of this makes it into the writing overtly, I think that if I know it about her, it makes her rounded, whole. And it makes sense if I suddenly want to write a scene and I find it starts with her watching a Mariners game. {s}

And a picture for you!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You got your peanut butter in my chocolate

I really shouldn't have bought the mini-Reese's peanut butter cups AND the dark chocolate M&Ms for the candy bowl on my desk. Bad, bad habits are being created.

Got my Book3 work done for today, on target, though it took me a little longer than I wanted it to. The good news is another interesting, totally unexpected character popped up, and I can already almost visualize a subplot with her. Writing only happens when you write. {s}

Also:
wrote and sent a press release
arranged for a playdate for Child this weekend
worked on arranging this open house we're doing next week
mailed Toad, a recalled brake van, back to Thomas & Friends (rolling eyes)
made changes to a publication and printed a few copies to get bound
made an appointment to get highlights put in my hair on Thursday

check check check. :) There are many more items on the list, but I do feel I'm getting there.

Must go do some schoolwork now to balance out, in the half hour before it's time to go home!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday madness

A loverly weekend. Lots of hanging out, watching baseball (though now my Angels are out of it too...boo), and even swimming. I tried a new recipe last night that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but it was okay. Easy stuff tonight, soup and bread.

I was freaking out a bit this morning at the sheer volume of STUFF I have to get done before Surrey. Everything from preparing a speech to taking pictures of myself (ack) to presenting the new state map to the governor of Montana to dealing with the press to making sure I buy nylons. Sheesh. I made a list (aptly titled FREAKING LIST OF THINGS TO DO BEFORE SURREY), which makes me feel slightly better. Lists always make me feel slightly better. Are you a list person too?

Today I'm mostly doing lots of small detail-y things for work and catching up on homework. I have a class this term that is all online except for our 4 presentations--which oddly is hard for me. I leave all the assignments until the last minute. I'm not really sure why I have discipline when it comes to writing but not so much with homework? (desire? {s})

I'm still getting to know Natalie. Managed a bit more, and should make my (easy) goal of 2000 more words this week, 5000 total this month. That seems good for a first month, with Surrey. After that I'll dive into the more usual 10,000 a month goals.

That's all for today, because I have a quiz in less than an hour...except for your picture of the day.
For a textures/patterns assignment. This is a close-up of Child's laundry basket. {s}

Friday, October 05, 2007

More

Weather: Snowing. The other day was a half-hearted attempt for an hour or so, bitsy flurries just to get an "I can't believe it's snowing already" reaction from us. Today I woke up to wet, slushy snow on the ground and weighing down the trees, and it hasn't stopped, all day. {SIGH}

I have not even had time to sit and write a blog post until this very minute. Running here, running there, doing a full-scale photo shoot, two scheduled meetings, more impromptu meetings, phone calls back and forth and back (and forth) with the governor's office...

WHEW. I am sitting down with a cup of tea and a handful of mini Reese's peanut butter cups, for a few minutes. Right now. There.

I did manage to get up over 1% on Book 3 at least, and tantalizingly close to my 1000-word goal for the week, if I hadn't had to wrap up my lunch and trudge out (in the snow) to a meeting. Finished the first scene to at least "it can live for now" status, so I can move on. I'm really looking forward to the Dead Robert bits, but those are not next. Next is Tony and still vague female friend.

See, I won't share snippets or actual details, but still can pretend to tantalize you with random character names dropped here and there. Sly of me, right? Dead Robert is sooooo my favorite, though. I think I will love Dead Robert.

Did I say I was looking forward to Surrey?

The weird thing is, regarding Surrey, that I'm actually looking forward to pitching. Most writers will probably think I'm insane for even thinking that. But I _think_ Jenna will be a really great match for the agent I'm meeting with--I think it's right up her alley and she'll like it. So I'm looking forward to introducing her to Jenna, so to speak, in the same way that you look forward to introducing two friends you really like.

Of course like introducing the two friends, I might be wrong and they might not like each other at all. They might despise each other from first look. But that's okay too. I have a list of potential agents as long as my arm I can introduce Jenna to, should this meeting not go as well as I hope. I'm not all wrapped up in this one chance; I just see it as a really good opportunity. That I can't wait to get to.

Is that weird of me? Or insanely arrogant? I wonder, but don't know. At any rate I figure it can't be a bad attitude to go into the pitch with, so I'll stick with it for now. Until I stand there quivering before her, my little red folder squashed tightly to my chest...

No, seriously. Just a chance for a chat. {s}

(I'm still liking this bleagh-spill-out-my-mind style of blogging better than the stale updates. You? It does make titling them more difficult.)

I decided that I'm bored with the "Whadjya eat" thingum, because how many times can I reasonably write "we had Mexican food again" without throat-slitting becoming necessary? So since I am taking a digital photography class, and since I've been taking all these photos of minerals for our calendar, I'm hereby instituting a "photo of the day" feature instead. Voila, it is done.

Photo of the Day (which I took this morning):

Thursday, October 04, 2007

wow, that's a ramble you've got there

I have added 2 new blog links to my list: Melissa Marr and Libba Bray. I know, I know, I should stop reading other writer's blogs and just get to my own writing, but since I've been on this YA kick lately (writing YA, reading YA, thinking YA), I like to hear from other YA authors. It makes me feel, no matter how self-delusionally, that I'm tapped in.

Anyway. I haven't even read Libba Bray's books yet, but somebody mentioned her blog on the forum and I looked, and I read two entries and said "I must add this!" And I loved Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely so much that I actually wrote her a fan-girl letter last week. (I have not written a fan-girl letter in like, ever, so this is big. Melissa responded almost immediately with a very nice note. She is not only an excellent writer, she is good people.)

I apparently am writing my blog free-form today. Don't question. Ride along.

I meant to not start the word counter for the new book (er...Book 3, Natalie, or something) until I had at least 1000 words, and I should have listened to myself. I looked at that 0% this morning and felt sad. Must write more to get over 1000. I realized that I'm actually having a bit of difficulty transitioning to writing all-new, first draft material again. I'm so darned used to the revision mode that I feel like I want to polish and fix, even when I only have 150 words to work with. Must. Stop. This. SFD!

Hmmm, this free-form blogging thing might help. I think I must do a writing journal entry today.

In other news (I wonder how often I say that?) I am finally relatively well, hurrah, after a full week of first cold and then stomach virus. It feels almost odd to be well, but good. GOOD. And I get to leave early this afternoon to go take Child to her ballet/tap class, which should be fun.

My coffee cup is broken, as hubby dropped it spectacularly yesterday (picture fountains of coffee spewing all over the garage floor) and dented it. Who knew this would make the coffee not come out the top? Yay, good excuse to buy a new one.

I WILL BE AT SURREY TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!

Yes, I will leave it there, for now.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Natalie

Okay, I got some 400 words today, and Natalie (Nat) feels right. So I'm going with that for now.

And though I won't share snips, I will share photos. This is what Natalie's hair looks like. {s}

Yeah, I know, you're fascinated.

Not Freddy

Hmph. Yesterday I contracted the "mild GI bug" that Child had over the weekend...which doesn't feel quite so mild in me. Argh. I'm feeling like it's karma just for saying that.

It's snowing, with a strong, cold wind. I am so staying inside.

That's the bad news. The good news is I started writing on Book 3 yesterday (yay). I quickly discovered, though, that the MC's name is NOT Freddy. It just doesn't fit. I'm looking for a new name, though "Natalie" keeps popping up (over and over and over), so maybe that one will stick. For now I guess I'll have to refer to it as Book 3 until I'm sure...

Will add more today!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The bleeping Padres closer blew the save and lost the bleeping game in the bottom of the 13th inning.

{rest of post censored for a huge string of nasty swear words}

Change in plans

Child had a mild GI bug over the weekend, AND it snowed, so we took it a little easier than planned. Meaning we skipped the homecoming parade and football game and went to a nice indoor volleyball game instead...though we still went to the activity-packed birthday party on Sunday. I was soooooooo tired last night. (why do birthday parties wear out parents more than kids?)

The bloody #@*The bloody #@*$& Padres lost 2 games this weekend when they only needed to win one, and so have to do a tie-breaker game tonight to try to make it in the playoffs. They better win tonight, or there will be mucho swearing in our household, at least half of it by me.
amp; Padres lost 2 games this weekend when they only needed to win one, and so have to do a tie-breaker game tonight to try to make it in the playoffs. They better win tonight, or there will be mucho swearing in our household, at least half of it by me.

I got feedback today from 2 out of 3 of my teen readers who have experienced epilepsy, and was really (really) happy with their responses, especially that they felt the epilepsy bits were spot-on. A big whew and yay.

And I brainstormed Freddy today. I now know what Freddy looks like, and am getting a sense of her. And I know where the first scene starts! I set a goal to get 5,000 words this month, and will start those this week, definitely. Hmmm, maybe 1000 this week.

Surrey is coming in only 17 days!

Whadjya eat? Steak, garlic bread, mushrooms fried with garlic and butter. I miscalculated and the steak was underdone, which made me sad. {sigh} Oh well, will know better next time!

Friday, September 28, 2007

the weekend, and a new book.

Yes!! I know what the next book is going to be about! (or rather who it's going to be about) And I love it! For discussions' sake, I shall call it Freddy.

Other things going on right now:

--still yucky icky cold. I can feel it descending into my chest, which sucks.
--have to attend a 2-hour groundbreaking ceremony in about 45 minutes for my agency's new building, which I have spent countless hours working on, since I'm on the lovely floor plan committee. Would be fine, if I didn't have a cold. {sigh}
--after ceremony, I get to attend lunch with a bunch of VIPs, including the governor.
--tomorrow is homecoming, so parade and football game (unless it snows, which it might!)
--Sunday I'm escorting Child to a birthday party

I'm rather tired just thinking about it, actually. Must think about coffee and new books instead.

(forgot again, added later) Whadjya eat? I found a cool pre-cooked carnitas pack. Heated that, served with tortillas, refried beans, fresh salsa, avocados and sour cream. YUM. And lots of leftovers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Huh.

Yesterday was unexpected.

I got a call at 11 AM from Child's school that she threw up, and could I come and get her, please? I practically steamrolled over people racing across town, picturing my poor baby feverish, shivering, you know...ill.

Um, not really. Apparently she got sick for no reason (in the middle of circle time, eek) but was still perfectly fine. She wasn't exactly cheerful, but after we got home and watched a half hour of kid TV she was raring to play. She ate fine, had lots of energy, had no fever...parenting really is a mystery, I guess. As my boss said this morning, "sometimes kids just do that." {shrug}

I, on the other hand, have a nasty yucky head cold, and have already gone through half a box of Kleenex in spite of being dosed with daytime cold meds. Maybe it was good for me to stay home yesterday too. It got me out of a class. {g}

Whadjya eat? Sliced turkey with lingonberry sauce (YUM, better than cranberry), banana-nut muffins, fresh vegetables with ranch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ah-chooo

Revisions made to Jenna: check.
Jenna hook: check.
Jenna synopsis: check.

Whew. I still have a couple more teen readers out there, but otherwise I'm just about ready for Surrey.

Time to start on the next book, I think. {s}

I need to turn in my paper today, but it's mostly done. Yesterday I was all crazy productive and cranked a lot of stuff out. Then last night I came down with daughter's cold {sniff}, so am feeling anything but productive today. {SNEEZE}

Perhaps I will take it nice and easy today.

Ya know, I'm thinking this blog has become pretty boring lately. Sorry about that. Sometime soon maybe I'll get back to ranting and actual coherent discussion instead of just updates...

Whadjya eat? French toast, maple breakfast sausage, and peaches.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Yo ho ho

Another busy day! At work I'm putting the final touches on a publication to send it to the printer today. It was a rush-rush project, but we made it right on deadline, whew.

Once that's done, I can think about my paper that's due next week, and maybe do an outline. I also get to do a fun work project and go take pictures of some pretty minerals for our annual calendar.

And tonight I get a massage my hubby bought me (yay) and go out to dinner. And then tomorrow hubby and I are leaving Child with Grandma for an overnight, and going out of town to a comedy/theatre performance. I'm really looking forward to that!

Jenna update: 3/5 readers have given me full feedback, one partial feedback. I'm extremely stoked at the responses so far. AND I was very excited today that another beta-reader agreed to take a look, someone who's experienced epilepsy herself. I really wanted to have some feedback from that quarter before I pitch. Today at lunch: work on synopsis and hook.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

my mind is on vacation at least

Hey, y'all!

Since Jenna's out to readers, I'm taking a little vacation (well, if you can call doing classwork and presentations and real work and going to a curriculum meeting at the preschool tonight a vacation...ya know. I was going to work on my synopsis today, but I went out to lunch instead. That's vacation.).

I also took time over the weekend to read Scott Westerfield's UGLIES, and I highly recommend it. It's a wee bit heavy on the message in a few places, but that's far overwhelmed by the strength of the story and the characters, and the originality of the concept. I'll be reading the sequels.

RE the Jenna-out-to-readers thing, I must admit that I've had a few twinges over the past couple of days just thinking how odd it is that my characters and world are now also living in the minds of other people. Five other people max, but it's a start, right? It's a strange thing. These characters--people--were created in my brain, and now I can have actual discussions with others about Jenna and Joe and Dr. Ramsay. WEIRD. Think how Vicki and karen and all the rest of you published folks must feel on a daily basis. :)

Whadjya eat? Yesterday: pita pizzas, with salad. Child gets to make her own, which is fun. Sunday I did a real-cooking thing and made Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken, and again it rocked. If you like to cook at all, try that recipe.

Friday, September 14, 2007

YAY!

Revisions over, and it's off to my beta-readers. WHEW.

(I should say this round of revisions over, because I know there will be more after readers, but whatevah. Done for now.)

To celebrate, I bought myself this:


Yep, a foam gargoyle with LED light-up eyes.
Those of you who are reading Jenna now will soon understand. It did get rather a "what the hell" from my husband, but I explained that to me it's like a leap of faith in my book. I saw it, thought "that's a perfect promotional item for Jenna signings" and, after dithering a bit, bought it. I realize that as of this moment no one has even read the book but me, much less agents, editors, or readers, but I believe. Someday I will need this for a signing.

{beam}

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A heroine

This week I've greatly lamented the loss of one of my favorite authors of all time, and one of my primary inspirations: Madeleine L'Engle. I've done it privately. But today I saw on Jennifer Jackson's blog this poem:

At Tara in this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place between myself and the powers of darkness!

I memorized this poem, when I was an early teen, and repeated it to myself whenever I had troubles. I read the book again as a young adult in college, and I renewed the memorization, checking myself every few days for a while to see if I had it still, because I wanted to keep it in my head. Because it, and those books, were so important to me. They still are. They always will be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not a rant

I could do a major rant today. I want to--it's boiling over in me, triggered by yet another snide comment from someone who loves to shoot others down out of pure jealousy.

But. September 11th does not seem like a suitable day to rant about piddly things. So I will focus on my work, and my book, instead, and put that energy to a more positive purpose.

Out.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Update (yes, I'm alive)

There. Plot revision done. I cut about 7500 words, and added about 5300 new ones back in. That's about 10-12% changeover, and hopefully all for the better. Yay!

Next up: language draft. I expect this one to be a lot easier for me than plot changes--it just will involve going through the whole thing (again) and polishing the language. Taking out repetition, changing up cliched or old phrases, making sure descriptions are clear and fit with the characters. This is the type of editing I usually do, so I'm more comfortable with it. Plot revisions are Not As Much Fun. I have 10 days to accomplish the language draft changes to make my goal of sending it to readers on September 20th. Then I plan to gnaw on my nails until I get comments. :)

We had an excellent weekend. First home football game of the season for the college we both work for, which is a big deal! Sadly we lost, but it was fun. Yesterday I alternated between playing Fish Day with Child (don't ask me, she announced that it was Fish Day and we were supposed to read fish books, play fish games, and dress up and act like fish...) and doing actual house and yard work.

Oh, I'm sorry. I should've given you a warning before I said something so shocking. :)

Anyway, I have to go to class in an hour and one of my authors just called, so must go work. Later!

Whadjya eat? Steak, scalloped potatoes, squash baked with butter and parmesan cheese. This week I've got to do something with the hundred or so apples we picked from our little tree...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good and Bad

Hola! It's been a while, I know. I just haven't felt like blogging. Too many other things going on, and I've been living in my own little Jenna-revision-world anyway. People keep catching me staring at the walls or the ceiling for long periods of time.

There is too much. Let me sum up.

---------
Good: Last night, while lying in bed listening to the Angels/Mariners game on the radio, I solved my subplot problem. Yes! One thread has been giving me headaches since I started, never quite fitting, never being strong enough to balance everything else. Voila--if I move all the action one month later, I complicate Jenna's life tremendously and make everything more difficult, yet stronger. Perfect. Ha ha.

Bad: I couldn't sleep at all last night, tossing and turning while my mind worked on the implications of the above. Major ripples to deal with. {YAWN}
---------
Good: Child starts Kindergarten tomorrow. Same teacher as last year, so no stress there. And we all love her school.

Bad: Of her two best friends, one moved to another school for kindergarten and the other is in the other classroom. {sigh} AND she's five and so big and her childhood is zooming by...{sniff}
---------
Good: My grad school classes have started and are fun so far, especially digital photography. Yay!

Bad: My grad school classes have started.
--------
All good:
You MUST READ Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Yes, it's a middle-grade novel based on fairy tales. I don't care what grade it's for. It's inventive, captivating, funny, and intense. The concept is original and very well done. I read the whole thing in One Day. Go. Check it out. Trust me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Other Stuff

Some things I haven't mentioned, while I was obsessed with Finishing:

--Child has been attending kid's drama camp all week, which she is LOVING. They get to do a performance of Where the Wild Things Are tomorrow. She plays a monster. :)

--Grad school starts next week. {sigh} Fortunately this term I'm taking catch-up required classes: Digital Imaging (photography and Photoshop) and Professional Presentations. Decided against taking Rhetoric, yay.

--It's been nasty here for about a week, socked in with smoke from all the forest fires in Montana and Idaho. The sky has been orange or yellow, and really icky to breathe. Yesterday it rained (thank God) and cleared a bunch of it up, though. Whew. I have my window open again.

--Last night I started reading Into the Wild, by Sarah Beth Durst, a fellow blogger. (Sarah's agent was one of those who read the full of TMT, so I found her blog while reading up) So far, I'm really enjoying it. Hooray for reading and movies during my self-imposed break!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

YES!

Guess what, guys?

3300+ words later, I have finished the first draft of Jenna.

WoooooooooHooooooooooooooooooooo!

(yes, I'm all teary.)

Thanks so much for all your support. Mind, I'll need it again in a week or so when I'm editing, chopping, adding, and re-working, but for now? Thank you.

I know I've been pretty close-mouthed about what Jenna was even about, but since I'm pretty sure the main plot is not going to move around now, I'm going to post the hook (which, yes, I've already written) in celebration. Here 'tis. Gotta go post on the forum now!

The Weirdest Thing about Jenna
by Susan Adrian

Fifteen-year-old Jenna's life is…complicated. Her mom, a true-life columnist, has a new job on national radio—so now people across the country can share every little embarrassing moment. Jenna's been yanked from San Diego and dumped with her dad, in small-town Montana. Oh, and she sometimes abruptly disappears into an alternate world, where each kid has their own shade, one person who is their perfect balance. At least Joe always understands her.

But the other world starts falling apart at the same time as Jenna's real life. Joe and all the other shades are in danger, and Jenna has to help fix the balance to save him, and herself. But just when she's getting it, her dad sees her "disappear"…in what looks like a seizure. Now Jenna's caught up in a nightmare of doctors, tests, and needles, in a world where she has no control, and no one believes her. Are the doctors right, that Joe is just a hallucination of epilepsy? Or is he real, and waiting for her to save him?

Follow Jenna into a world of flying monkeys, cranky nurses, and a hot guy with problems of his own.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

There!

{Huge grin}

Still not done, though. One more chapter at least.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Okay, enough about freaking Jenna, but no. Not enough.

98%. I think I'll reflect on that for a moment. 90-freaking-8 percent.

Though I think I will go over the wordcount some. Not much, but some. Which of course is perfectly fine. :)

I see the end, like an image in a microscope, coming sharper as I focus the knob.

Some of it is dorky as is. Yes, I admit this. Hopefully I will fix this dorkiness in the second draft, though it's also possible that some of it is just a reflection of my perfectly dorky imagination. We shall see. I plan on giving it to plenty of (diverse) readers when the second draft is done, so all remaining "oh my god this is lame" moments should be wiped out with that.

I am eating Pringle's Salt-n-Vinegar chips like there is no tomorrow. Must stop that.

From Jenna today: "Oh my God, what a headache. Seriously. The headaches I'd had before when I came back, splitting my skull and all? Machetes vs. pumpkin? Nothing compared to this."

Whadjya eat? Leftovers. :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday report

There, got my minimum words in for the day (800), so now I can do a quick post before I get back to real work.

I had a great weekend. On Saturday we all went out to a sapphire-mining place, where you buy buckets of gravel, wash it in a trough, and pick through the piles hunting for sapphires. It's actually really fun, like finding treasure. And there are so many in this particular area that there are at least a few in every screen-full.

Sunday we hung out and went grocery shopping, and I got to spend some good time with Child. We did ballet together, which she LOVED (I was doing a barre routine with her, with plies in first position, second position, etc., and for once she was following, wide-eyed and smiling, instead of arguing with me that I wasn't doing it correctly. {g}). I did discover later that evening that I'd managed to strain my Achilles "showing off", but oh well. Worth it.

Unfortunately it was NOT a good weekend for writing. I got up early on Sunday to write, expecting about an hour and a half, and Child popped up 3 minutes later. {sigh} Best-laid plans. I scraped about 100 words from the scene in my head while she watched TV, but that was it. Though it was frustrating, it's okay. Real life takes precedence, and she's only little once. :)

Oh...last night hubby and I decided to watch the Masterpiece Theatre version of Phillip Pullman's "The Ruby in the Smoke", which I'd always wanted to read, since I like the other series so well. And it was really good, with funny lines and unexpected bits, intriguing, twisted--and then halfway through the PBS station crapped out and just went blank. By the time it came back up, the show was almost over, so we missed it. Bummer. Will have to track it down sometime.

Favorite line from Jenna writing today:
"But still I was stuck here. Pinned in this world like a beetle on a board."

Whadjya eat? Pork chops with a prepared Thai rub, tomato salad, artichokes with melted butter!

Friday, August 10, 2007

And on and on and on...and stop!

Self discovery: I get very cranky trying to hold scenes in my head all day. Occasionally I mutter them to myself, to make sure I remember them. This probably makes me look insane.

I may be to the end of the headlong rush of words (10,500 words in one week!), just because I'm to the bit where I don't know what happens, how to wrap up one of the plotlines. I had an idea this morning, but I don't know yet exactly how it will work, so I'm going to have to pause to brainstorm it out. I don't expect a very long pause, though. {g} I don't want to stop.

On the other hand, sometime soon I'm going to need to get some real sleep not interrupted by excited thoughts about Jenna. {YAWN}

Whadjya eat? I keep forgetting this. Last night: we ordered pizza. {s} The night before, I made Parmesan Turkey cutlets, which is basically thin turkey slices dipped in an egg/parmesan/basil batter and fried. Can't find the recipe at the moment...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Whoopee

Wow. I got up early this morning to get some writing in while everyone was asleep, and I got about 1000 words before I had to get them up and moving. (Child's getting dressed right now.) We have to do a trip to Bozeman today for a doctor's appointment, so I won't have any more writing time than that.

I could've written all day, if I had the time.

As it is, the next two scenes were already bouncing around in my head in the shower, so that I had to scribble some notes down as soon as I popped out. And OMG, dudes, I love it. It's all coming together, and it just fits perfectly.

{boing, boing, boing}

Yes, that was me bouncing around the room. Yes, I have probably had too much coffee. But that is just okay by me. I'm happy, yay yay yay, it's working and I love it and I can't wait to write it--

damn. gotta go. {g}

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Go, go, go, go

Yay! Almost done, almost done! 55,000 by end of this week (that's 10k in 10 days, folks), and then I only have ~5,000 more to go!

{hopping up and down}

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Better

Okay, I've been duly slapped, and I feel lots better.

Thanks, Vic. {ow}

Call to the cavalry

Okay. I need a bitch-slap, fast. Get your arms ready, girlfriends.

The writing is going well--you know this. I blather on about it every day. I'm less than 10k from the end, and it's fast and furious. I wrote another 1200 words or so yesterday; turned down lunch with hubby to spend more time with my girl today. Am drawn to her every minute. But.

Apparently my brain is not happy unless it's worrying about something. So in the past couple of days, even while I'm writing like a maniac, I've been obsessed with the following:

1. Is anyone going to want to read this book but me? I know, I know. Now is NOT the time to even think about this. But let's say this--Jenna will be a good book, I think. A compelling story. But it's not exactly fit-into-a-mold. {cough} There are things in there, fairly serious issues, that turned out to be bigger within the story than I thought. It's not lighthearted fantasy YA, at all. I'm picturing myself trying to pitch it, and panicking...

(Why do I care about this? Why am I even thinking about this? SLAP ME!)

2. Even worse. I'm freaking out about what I'm going to write next.

Dudes, I know! But I'd had the idea that I would be able to write, if not a sequel, then another book in the same world. I'm not absolutely positively sure, but I don't think so anymore. I think Jenna is a stand-alone, and anything else I tried to write about this situation/world would be repetitive or derivative. {sigh} This has just become clear. So now my little brain is spinning: if you're not going to write that next, what are you going to write? Huh? Huh? What's next, write your passion girl?

What if I only have one book that I'm this passionate about? What if I can't do this again? (What am I talking about, I haven't even done it once, I'm not done.) Eeeeeeeekk!

Welcome to my mind. Is this just fear of finishing? What the hell?

I'm gonna go read the last bit of Jenna and try to kick some sense back into myself, but any help would be appreciated.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday status

First:

Vicki Pettersson, who is quickly turning into my writing mentor, is a featured author at Barnes & Noble.com, with her own book club! This is the coolest thing ever--except maybe when she sold her first three books, or when she hit the USA Today list, or when she sold 3 more, or when... {g} Please go by and say hi.

Second:

My rush slowed down a tiny bit yesterday, but just because I had only an hour to write in the morning before Child got up, and there was no more time to squeeze. All told, I wrote 4,200 words since Friday--more than a week's worth of work at my regular pace--and am sitting at my goal for NEXT Monday. {huge g} I'm itching to write the next bit today. Last night I had to get up and scribble out some notes on What Happens Next. I still don't know all, but it's revealing itself pretty fast. I even have an inkling of the end. Not all of it, but half at least.

I also am starting to get a clear picture of what I'm going to have to prune out and plump up again. Some plotlines obviously aren't working or simply aren't needed, and others are muddled. Still, I can "see" it, how it should be.

I have no idea if anyone else is going to like, or even get, this book. It's a touch weird, I admit. But I love it. If nothing else I can just re-read it to myself over and over. :)

Whadjya eat? Yummmm! We bought a seasoning pack of spicy Thai peanut coating, slapped it on pork chops, and baked them. Served with Thai basil-garlic-coconut rice (from a box, by Taste of Thai) and fresh cherries and strawberries. Highly recommend, if you can find it, especially the rice!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Craziness

{GRIN} Yes, it worked. An hour and a half of writing, another 1000+ words. I've done more in the last two days than I usually do in a week.

I'm loving this, I admit it. (almost to 50k!)

But Child is up now, gotta go!!

Friday, August 03, 2007

And more!

Ahem. Hubby went out for an hour to a work thing. 2600+ words for the day. Dudes, I had to drag myself away.

I plan to try to get up early and write tomorrow, but we will see if it works...

More...

{Cough} 2200 words today. It won't leave me alone...I've already surpassed Tuesday's goal. Ha!

Possessed

Wow. That doesn't happen to me very often.

I was taken over by a scene in the shower this morning. It's not the next scene--it's two up--but it is crucial, a significant revelation and tough point in the book. Maybe the low point for Jenna. (sorry, Jenna!) And in the shower it just started coming to me, whole, complete, with dialogue and images and reactions and descriptions...I was muttering the conversation out loud to myself while I got ready, continuing it on the drive in. I had to hold it in my head until I could type it, and then it all dumped on the page.

1200 words. Not the next scene in the book, but there, down. Amazing and tortuous, dumped out whole. Wow.

I still feel like I'm shaking off a possession. And I'm all emotionally shaken. (sorry again, Jenna, really I am...)

This is not how I usually write. I'm grateful for it--I know it's a powerful scene--but honestly, if I did this all the time either people would think I was crazy or I would be... {g}

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Shock

Well, with 3 posts yesterday, you'd think I could squeak one out today. Maybe a short one.

I've been in class all day learning how to do CPR and use an AED (automated external defibrillator). Yes, I can shock you now. Watch out! {pointing at each of you}

I told everyone back in my office that if anybody needed to have a heart attack now would be a good time, as I was prepared and fresh. But nobody stepped up. Chickens. Tomorrow, Red Cross First Aid. I also told them to hold off bleeding until tomorrow, please.

But I managed to squeeze my words in during my 35-minute lunch break even though I really didn't have time to eat or anything and had nothing but coffee to drink all day and had to sprint back to the place but hey I got my 500 words and...{breath}...that is all.

Whadjya eat? Black beans and rice. Another new recipe. Verdict: yum. Served with fresh pears and nectarines.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Imagination...

The Hat Trick post of the day!

I just had to record this conversation I had with Child yesterday. Hubby heard it from the other room and was just as boggled as I was.

We were coloring pictures of the Backyardigans together.

Child: What kind of animal is that one, anyway?

Me: I don't really think it's an animal. I think it's an alien. (see picture--the pink one.)

Child: Oh, no. She couldn't be an alien. She's nice. All aliens are mean.

Me: Hmmm. I don't think they're all mean. I think I've heard a story once or twice with nice aliens. (thinking fast: do I say they're not real? Do I?)

Child: No, they're all mean.

Me, after a while, nonchalantly: I'm not really sure aliens are real, anyway.

Child: No, they are. I've met aliens.

Me, sitting back on my heels: Really?

Child (still coloring): Yes, I met aliens before I was born. That's why you don't know about them, because you weren't with me.

At this point all those theories of children remembering past lives, heaven, etc. from before they were born are flashing through my mind, but I keep my voice even.

Me: Really? How very cool.

Child: Yeah. And did you know...(dramatic pause)...that there's a Disneyland in your belly?

Me: Um...

Child: There's a real Disneyland, inside your belly.

Me: Was that why you used to kick me so much?

Child: Yes! Because I wanted you to come to Disneyland with me.

{grin}

A nod

Oh...and I put this in the book yesterday. I couldn't help myself. It does fit with my audience.


From The Weirdest Thing about Jenna:


I swiped damp bangs out of my face. Though it was cold as freaking heck up here—the wind was blowing straight at us on this ledge—I was sweating. Nerves. "Wouldn't it be nice if we could just Apparate into the cave, and bring them back with us?"

Neil looked at me blankly. "What?"

"Harry Potter? Hello?" He shrugged, and I gave it up. Who hadn't read Harry Potter?

Let the brain work

The answer for how to get out of the last fix came to me in the shower this morning (and it builds on what I already had, yay!)--and I solved some other plot problems while mowing last night.

I've heard other writers talk about how "mindless" activities can help in plotting, and that's definitely true for me. I suspect it's the subconscious working it out for you, tying things together that you put in there without really understanding why. I love my subconscious. {g} Where do you get your best ideas, or solve your plot issues?

Whadjya eat? Tried a new recipe last night, to rave reviews. Hubby really really liked it. As usual, it's one of Elise's: Spicy Garlic Cashew chicken. You can control how spicy it is--I took out all but one or two jalapeno seeds, so it wasn't too much for Child. I made the marinade the night before and put it on the chicken in the morning, which worked fine. Served with a veggie salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado and fresh pears. Yum.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Out of the fire...into the ?

Yes! I escaped the corner!

And put them immediately in a worse one. {cackles}

No, I don't know how to get out of this fix yet either, but I'm sure it will come to me--or rather to Jenna. Inventive little chickie, that one.

And...I finished Harry Potter today. {happy sigh}

NO SPOILERS please! E-mail me if you want to discuss...

Whadjya eat? Leftover Italian food. Added angel hair pasta as a side, and mushrooms fried in butter and garlic (and a tiny smidge of sweet white wine).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Painting yourself into a corner...and how to escape

Have you ever created a situation--for your characters, of course--so sticky, so impossible to get out of, that you drop into reader mode and think Wow! How are they ever going to get out of that?

And then reality slaps you hard in the face when it comes time to write the scene. You sit there, staring at the screen blankly. Thinking, Damn. How are they ever going to get out of that? And you don't know. You have no idea. Everything that comes to you seems like cheating, pulling a trick on the readers. You know better than to have a deus ex machina, because you wouldn't want to read one. You could back up a few steps and make it easier...but what would be the fun of that? Do you want your character's struggles to seem easy, meaningless? Of course not. You know very well that for a triumph to be important to the readers it has to be critical to the characters. It has to come through struggle and hardship and sacrifice.

So what do you do? As the writer/goddess, you do have the luxury of being able to go to earlier parts of the book and plant clues, if you need to, for something to help solve the current problem. And that might work--if you only could figure out what the best solution to the problem WAS.

This is where I am today. I set it up, so it's my own fault--and I must say the situation is pretty good. Darn near impossible to do what they need to do, and not succeeding just isn't an option. But now I've got to fix it, help them succeed in spite of the obstacles.

Fortunately I'm not worried, because this has happened to me lots of times before, and I know what I need to do. First chance I get I have a date with my writing journal, where I will throw out ALL aspects of the situation and all the options, sort through them, and start suggesting creative ideas. Most of them will be ridiculous, but one of them will stick. And then, fellow writers, will come that wonderful AHA moment, when every little piece falls into place as though you meant it to happen like that all along.

Because you did, right? Sure. You planned it that way. So did I. {cough}

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lessons picked up from other writers

I used to avoid reading for pleasure while I was writing, in the fear that (a) it would take too much time away from writing and (b) other author's styles would somehow seep into my own writing. (a) is not really an issue lately, since I write every day at lunch and just know that I can't read during that time. (b)? Not worried so much about that, since I started writing in my own kitchen-sink style.

So I've been reading. And I've discovered that there can be a wonderful symbiosis between reading and writing, when you're writing every day. Though I don't pick up author's styles, I do notice what's succeeding, and what's not, in their books, and I try to note those lessons for my own work. Here's what I've learned from the last 3 books I've read/am reading (yes, I'm still reading HP. About halfway through).

--From Trangressions, by Sarah Dunant: Don't answer the central question of the book two-thirds of the way through. I really didn't care if I ever picked it up at all after that point--the rest was just floppy plot, of no interest. And make sure that the story delivers on the promise implied by the book's jacket. I was (obviously) quite disappointed in this one.

--From Vicki Pettersson: Pay attention (probably on later drafts) to every word, every phrase, you put on the page. There probably is a fresher, more character-specific way of describing something than the first phrase you clunked down. Vicki is a master of original descriptions and turns of phrase, and I love that in her writing.

--From the latest Harry Potter: Complexity is okay. It's also okay to not explain everything for your readers; let them guess. Let them figure it out. Allude to things they don't really need to know about, but the characters do. All this makes for a detailed, real world. Also, let characters speak as they really would, with pauses and awkwardness and occasional swearing. (I did know this, but it's great to see it in print again.)

(forgot) Whadjya eat? Child and I were on our own, so she got to choose. Grilled cheese sandwiches, cantaloupe (her absolute favorite), and veggies with ranch dressing. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

There!

Whew. That was not easy. But I'm happy with the new blue look. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In the...

Yes, I'm trying out pink. I was bored with green, and must change colors regularly.

Don't know if I like it yet...tomorrow I may go blue instead. :)

Oh, and...um, fix my links. And my wordcounter. {gentle head-bang}

In praise of editors

Gary Kamiya has written a fabulous piece in today's Salon called "Let us now praise editors". Fellow editors, go get a day pass and read it, and revel in the unusual appreciation.

Writers, go read it twice. {s}

Monday, July 23, 2007

What I did for my weekend

I did not go to a midnight Harry Potter party on Friday.

Instead hubby, Child, and I went to an amazing dance performance in Helena. Artisan Dance is a cool ballet company that hosts professional dancers from all over the country every summer for a workshop, then puts on a performance at the end. We saw it last year, and knew we had to go back again. Wow. During some parts I was leaning forward in my chair, hands clasped, trying to just be closer to it, it was SO good. Ahhhh. Ballet bliss.

Not to worry, though, I had my Harry Potter waiting on the porch for me when we got back on Sunday. Of course I'm only about 100 pages in right now, so I'm going to have to studiously avoid all blogs, newspapers, TV, and radio for about a week until I finish. DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS! :)

I just glanced at Google Reader this morning and saw about three people whose first lines were "So I just finished Harry Potter..." Yeah. So not going there. I would've brought the thing to work so I could read faster, but I have too many other things I'm supposed to be reading/writing here...

Hope y'all had a fabulous weekend!

Whadjya eat? Leftovers; haven't had a chance to go shopping yet. But on Saturday we had an awesome dinner. I had TWO margaritas (good thing the restaurant was right next to the hotel, eh?). We shared an appetizer plate with shrimp "purses", fried scallops, onion rings, and jalapeno poppers. Then I had a salad with bleu cheese dressing, bread, and my entree: pork chops cooked in peanut oil, topped with pineapple and coconut sauce, and baked potato. Dude. I couldn't even touch dessert.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The big reveal...um, sort of

I've seen a couple of rants lately about critique partners & groups, and how to deal with or give criticism. I've even talked about this subject myself, long ago in blog-land terms. I'm extremely interested in this topic, and I'm about to get more interested. Why?

In the fall, I will start research for my Master's thesis: "Online Critique of Creative Writing: Best Practices from OWLs to Blackboard"

That's right, folks. I'm gonna be researching YOU. The gist of the thesis is that I'm looking at how critiques of fiction writing are handled in different online venues: structured critique forums like Compuserve's Exercises, or the related book critique site; small, private critique groups; critique partners, usually two people who crit each other's work; and online writing labs. I'll be comparing how critiques are handled in these places with traditional methods of critique in the creative writing classroom, and try to apply my lessons learned to (a) help writers and (b) help teachers of online creative writing courses.

I'm just working on reviewing the current literature right now, but soon I'll start pegging sites for research, and beginning to set up studies and surveys. So all you authors in the crowd, please gear yourselves up to be tapped to help. :)

Oh, and keep those rants coming. I'm taking notes. {eg}

Whadjya eat? Leftover turkey slices, cornbread, corn-on-the-cob (me) and sliced tomatoes with dressing (them), and cottage cheese. A nice cool summer meal. Still baking in the 90-degree heat, up here...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Weird yesterday

Yesterday I came down with some sort of random stomach illness, and had to bolt home at noon. (I'm perfectly fine now.)

You'd think this would give me lots of alone time to write, right? Not really. I spent about 2 hours on the sofa watching Along Came Polly for the second time (my hubby asked why, and I said "because it was on." Yeah, I wasn't feeling well.). Then I took a nap for a while. Fortunately the nap helped, so I did manage to scrape out 428 words just before everybody got home. Still on schedule, with the bonus words I did this weekend.

Life, eh? Never what you expect.

Whadjya eat? Since I was all normal by dinnertime, I made my originally planned meal, one of our standards: vermicelli with roasted asparagus and tomatoes. Perfect for summer; I serve it cold. We had a fresh fruit salad (peaches, blueberries, and strawberries) with.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A bonus day!

I'm sitting here in Hastings, because it's 100-frigging degrees outside, and we don't have air conditioning. No one does here--we all just suffer through the few days a year when it's hot, because it's just not worth it. But so far we're baking this summer!

Anyway, Child is at her sleepover, and hubby agreed that we could go to a climate-controlled bookstore so we could have iced coffee and I could write. (On a weekend!!! luxury!!!) I added a new scene, about 500 words, and am very happy. Made my weekly goal, up over 37,000 words.

Can I say--oh, just one more time--that I love writing this book? I love this book. Happy happy yay yay.

Okay, enough euphoria. Soon we'll go back out into the 100 degrees, but we are going out to dinner tonight, and then to our play.

Life is sweet today. :)

Whadjya eat? Pizza out. Too hot to stay at our house. Tonight, dinner out again. As hubby said, maybe someday we'll feel like cooking and eating in our house again, but not tonight. {g}

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Oh, I forgot...

Whadjya eat? Grilled chicken rubbed with ginger and garlic (and a teensy bit of light olive oil), packaged Asian salad with orange sesame dressing (my favorite), and fresh fruit. The chicken was a bit drier than it should have been, and didn't taste as strongly as I'd like. More fresh spices next time.

The night before we had quesadillas with leftover steak inside, and fresh-made guacamole. But now the fridge is getting into serious leftover mode. I'm thinking we might eat at the carnival tonight, and have leftovers tomorrow...

Kicking ass

YES! A kick-ass 1150 words today, which _almost_ catches me up completely for missing Tuesday. I could've kept going if I hadn't had to get back to work. :) It was a good scene too (I think), relationship-building/fight. I love writing arguments, for some reason. Fortunately Jenna has lots.

Other news:

--Child is back at Grandma's during the day, so we're in our routine again. Have I said how much grandmas rock?
--We're going to the carnival tonight. Wa-hoo!
--Child is doing HER first sleepover at her best friend's house this weekend, and hubby and I therefore get to go to a grown-up play together. Excitement all around.
--Apparently we purchased an evil, homicidal fish. I told you before about how our big gourami (privately nicknamed Psycho) killed our poor tiger barb, his tankmate. Well, Child picked out two lovely neon tetras on Monday as replacement. Ahem. Psycho chased, harassed, pecked, and then killed one the first day and the second the next day. I am no longer fond of Psycho.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A new experience

This morning Child is here at work with me for a couple of hours, and then we'll take off for home. She's sitting right next to me coloring at the moment. For some reason I thought this would mean she'd not be talking to me constantly, but I was wrong. {g}

It's okay. I like her talk. :)

It'll be a challenge to fit writing in today, though...I've got 700 words as my daily goal...

Whadjya eat? Napa Cabbage Salad. It was good for a summer evening--though not great. Child didn't like it much and made a scrunchy face. I served it with sourdough bread with homemade garlic butter (yum) and fresh nectarines and plums. Child liked those parts just fine. {g}

Monday, July 09, 2007

Next

Hokay. I finished the rewrite of the first half (yay) and wrote 500 new words today.

One thing I discovered in the rewrite, though--I'm, er, closing in on the climax much quicker than I thought. Like...soon. I think this book might not make it to 65,000 words. I'm guessing, from the way it's going right now, that this first draft might come in at around 50k. Around 140 typewritten pages.

I'll have to investigate a little and see if that's fair length for a YA book--it seems awfully short to me. And I could probably expand a little on second draft. But to keep it tight...well, I don't know. We shall see. For now I'm keeping focused on the story, and what the story needs, and we'll do a full wordcount at the end.

Interesting, though, eh? You learn something new every book. :)

The just do it, stupid talk

There have been a lot of inspirational posts in blogland lately.

Alison Kent started a challenge called "Seventy Days of Sweat" to help people push through their novels by September. Diana Peterfreund took up that challenge, and gave herself (and everybody else) a serious bitchslap talk today. Stephanie Tyler wrote about how you make time to write, no matter what.

I totally agree. I'm proud to say that even though I was home with my daughter Thursday and Friday, home for the 4th and home for the weekend--which negates my usual writing hour at lunch on workdays--I wrote every day. I got up an extra hour early to write for two of those days. (Unfortunately this particular strategy didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. Child popped up the second she heard me the first day, wanting to know why the heck I hadn't woken her. I told her why. The second day she let me write for 15 minutes before getting up. {g}) The other days I just told her that I needed some writing time, and she did "homework" while I did writing, and I wrote next to her while she watched TV in the morning. Yes, I CAN do it.

Unfortunately the word count isn't bounding up, but that's because I'm editing this week. I am adding new scenes to replace cut ones, but it's not fast. I'm on page 61 of 87 pages, though, and it should go fast from here, and then I'll get into the new stuff (yay).

I'm not participating in the challenge above just because it doesn't meet with my current goals. However, I am still sticking tight to my own personal challenge. At least 10,000 new words a month, finishing the draft in September. That counts this month too, even in spite of the editing, so I'll really have to push through to get to my 45,000. I do my own form of sweat. :)

I do very firmly believe in the sentiments of the other bloggers. If you want to write, you make time to write. Period. Yes, you may not be able to make as much time as you want to, and different people make different sacrifices that work for them. But you make goals for yourself, and you find the time somehow. If you want it. You know what? I want it.

What'djya eat? Last night it finally cooled off a bit, so we had warm food for the first time in a while. Mouth-watering turkey slices from a pre-cooked deep-fried turkey (OMG, yum. Child said "My tummy likes this so much that it's growling for more!"). I served that with Swedish lingonberries, which are rather like cranberry sauce. We also had peas and twice-baked potatoes (also pre-prepared, not by me. What? It's too hot to really cook.)