Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm still moving along. Got my poem done, my presentation done. I'm snail-like in my progress on my grad projects, but at least the snail does get there eventually. Crossed 9500 words on Jenna today, so I'll get 10,000 by end of March to meet my goal. Yay.

You know what's funny? It took me the better part of 4 months for me to get 9500 words on Book 2, which is roughly where I stopped. It took me 39 days with Jenna. A better pace by far. {g}

My new working title is "The Weirdest Thing about Jenna", though I'm sure that will change.

And though nobody did ask, I'm going to post a picture of what Jenna looks like, since she's taken over my head. She's just about 3 years older than this picture, but it's a pretty good likeness for a stock photo. {g}

Monday, March 26, 2007


It's 45 degrees outside right now, but it's HOT in my office. I have both windows open and a fan blowing about a foot from me. I do wish when it's warm outside they'd turn the frigging boiler heat off. {roast}

In good news:

1. I had an excellent weekend. We went on a shopping trip to Bozeman on Saturday, and came back with piles o' clothes (I'm sporting a very cute shirt right now, polka-dotted and springy), new pillows, and a fish tank for Child. We'll pick up the fish this week, yay.

2. It was 70 degrees in Bozeman on Saturday, and the aforementioned 45 here today. It is sunny and balmy, and the bulbs are coming up and the trees budding. We don't usually have spring in March here, but it's nice.

3. I managed a bit more on JENNA today. Should be able to accomplish the 10,000 by end of March with no problems--5 days and 1130 words remaining. I also wrote a good draft of the poem I have to produce for an April 1st deadline (a local artist/writer collaboration project) on Friday. Finally.

4. I got my haircut on Thursday, into a layered bob kind of like the avatar look. It makes me feel all different and ready for warmer weather. Bonus: when my hair is that short, it bounces up and gets curly. I always forget this when it's long. {g}

5. Hubby and I squeezed in watching THE PRESTIGE and HOLIDAY over the past few days, and I loved them both. THE PRESTIGE is very reminiscent of THE ILLUSIONIST, and yet just different enough. Both totally fooled me, though. Why can I never see the twists? I told my husband that I'm the perfect movie/magic/hypnotism subject. I always see what they want me to see. {sigh}

Things I'm not thrilled with:

1. Term is over in a month, and I've left my grad school projects to the end. I started last week (again, finally) but it's taking longer than I'd hoped. I'm going to be putting in some major hours these next couple of weeks. Yuck.

2. I have to read a chapter on "Contesting the Objectivist Paradigm" and present it in class on Wednesday. Bleagh. Can you tell I'm more into writing than grad school this term?

3. I am extremely sleepy.

On balance, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I just have to kick myself in the butt to do the grad school stuff. Of course it's hard to kick oneself in the butt when one is extremely sleepy, but will try.......

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Writing Journal

Confession: This is Vicki's method. After she told me to try it four or five times, I finally did. And it works so well, I'm going to pass it on to you. Try it. Don't make me tell you five times. {g}

After I decided to put TMT under the bed, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I wanted to try something I was enthusiastic about, something that included all the elements I love. But you've all heard this before. The part I haven't talked about is the Writing Journal.

Yeah, revolutionary, right? A journal. Like no writer has ever tried a journal before...that's what I thought. But then Vic explained that she wasn't just writing her daily life experiences. It's more than that--it's a way of freeing yourself to talk about the character, to get into the character, without worrying about the precious words.

So here's what you do. When you sit down to write, open a journal file. Do a paragraph or so about how you feel, what's going on around you, life. Then just start to type about your character. What is she doing right now? What situation is she stuck in? How is she feeling? Put in any authorial notes you want. Write what you changed last time, thoughts you had about the world/setting, ideas you're thinking about. Jot down those niggly ideas or questions you have. Do you need to expand that scene with Joe? Does this part feel flat? What could happen to make it more interesting? Suggest something off the top of your head, then explain to yourself why that won't work, or is cliche. Suggest something else. Think with your fingers. Then...go write the scene you're thinking about.

This works SO well for me. It allows me to brainstorm and avoid wrong turns before I take them. It allows me to get into the character, to think about all the intertwined threads of what's going on with her so I don't lose track of any. It allows me to work things out without worrying about which words to use.

I also insert pictures all over my writing journal. This is what I think Jenna looks like. This is what I'm imagining Joe looks like. Here are pictures of the setting...and then I can go back to those at any time.

I did this every day for a week or two before I started actual writing on JENNA, but by then I was so itching to start the writing I was ready to go. And I'd already thought of and rejected several possible plot options, in favor of more interesting ones. Now I don't do it every single day, but I do several times a week, and any time I feel stuck on where's the best place to go next. It's a fabulous--and simple--tool.

Ready to try it yet? If you're stuck at all, or you're just ready for a new idea, try it out.

Oh, and did I make anyone curious as to what Jenna looks like? {g}

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Life

Still here, just hiding. Livin' life, which is rocking pretty hard right now, so I'm trying to enjoy every minute.

Yesterday Child and I had an unexpected day off together, since her school decided to go ahead with their planned Ski Day.'s been 60-65 degrees for 3 weeks, with no storms. Anything left on the slopes will be pure ice. And I'm not sending a preschooler to ski on ice, sorry.

So I was Super Mommy, and invited her best friend over for a playdate in the afternoon instead. Man, it is so cool to watch your kid be that happy. The two of them were giggling like fiends for 3 hours straight, playing dress up and 'chicken pox' (?), and playdoh meal-making and Angelina Ballerina and I don't even know what all. I was also selfishly hoping that I'd have time to write while they were playing, but I only managed 100 words in between being Miss Lily and Mom and the sister who did not have chicken pox. And that's okay--I have enough sense to know that word count and even writing are not always the most important things. {s}

However, I'm back to it today (trying to resist the Spider Solitaire urge, but that's another story), and will get up over 8000 at least.

Oh, and I found a wonderful, perfect post on "How to Write the Book of Your Voice" by Julie Leto. YES yes yes. Writers, go read it. This is the realization I've been coming to these past few weeks. (Thanks for the link, Diana)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why, you ask?

You know why I haven't been blogging so much lately? Because I've been writing. Jamming on writing, and having a ball. Watch that bar over on the side go up, every day. My goal is 10,000 words by the end of March...but that may be conservative; I've written about 4000 good words since Thursday, which is super kick-ass for me. If I get 10,000 words by next week I won't complain, and I'll just keep going.

Yeah, baby.

Oh, and I also haven't been blogging because I have a blecky cold. My head feels roughly like a Mylar balloon at the moment, and that's without medication. Which may account for the euphoria. Hmmm.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Quote from STORY by Robert McKee:

"So...ask: What's my favorite genre? Then write in the genre you love. For although the passion for an idea or an experience may wither, the love of the movies is forever. Genre should be a constant source of reinspiration. Every time you reread your script, it should excite you, for this is your kind of story, the kind of film you'd stand in line in the rain to see....Be honest in your choice of genre, for of all the reasons for wanting to write, the only one that nurtures us through time is love of the work itself."

YES. This is complete validation of my recent switch, and of the work I'm doing now. And I am loving it, the characters and the voice and the story, and I think it shows in the work. Yes.

Are you writing in your favorite genre? Are you writing about what's important and interesting to YOU?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Busy busy

This was an odd weekend--I was out and about doing stuff all over the place, and hardly saw hubby at all. {frown} However, it was all good stuff:

--Took Child to a birthday party, and spent most of the time hanging out with the cool group of parents, drinking red wine (yes, we all were) and eating whatever was put in front of me. Oh, and assisting with the Dora adventure, painting, and lunches as need be.

--Went to see a local production of Bye Bye Birdie--and they blew my socks off. Small theatre, all local people, but they did a fabulous job.

--Went to a writing class with Patricia Briggs (latest book is Blood Bound) Friday and Saturday nights. A lot of it was a bit on the basic/beginner side, but she was a kick to talk to, and she had some good insights. And how cool that we have a NY Times Bestseller in our little town!

Sunday night we made an error in judgment, and gave in to Child's request to buy her a copy of Disney's Peter Pan. She'd seen it last summer at a friend's house, and I had good memories of it, so we thought it would be okay.

Ack. Sooooo many things in that movie that I really would rather she didn't see. Hubby and I first raised our eyebrows when Tinkerbell was bemoaning the size of her hips. Then came the bumbling, idiot dad figure who no one listens to--we really try to avoid that stereotype. Then Captain Hook shoots a guy for no reason, and John says that "Injuns" are "cunning, not intelligent", and do I really need to talk about "Why the Red Man's Red?"

Sheeesh. As hubby said, "A lot of things have changed since that movie came out, for the better." We did let her watch the whole thing, but I'm thinking one day this week we might have a talk about Native Americans....{shaking head}

In writing news, with all the other stuff I was unable to write over the weekend, though I kept trying. I am itching itching itching to get back to it today. Got about 2000 words on Thursday and Friday, so we'll see how well I do today. Hurrah!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Persephone Story

Thanks for answering, guys!

I was trying to remember when I first heard this story, and suddenly flashed back to a book I read as a kid...with rather vivid pictures. {shudder} No wonder it stuck in my head. Anyway, the basics as I remember them (I might have bits wrong, but this is the gist. Afterward, I'll see, just for fun, how close I got to the original.

Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, also known as Mother Earth. One day she's out picking flowers with her mother and is captured by a great bull, who takes her down to the underworld and transforms to his real form, Hades--the God of the Underworld. He wants Persephone to be his wife and stay down there, and he offers her food and drink. Now somehow she knows that she shouldn't eat or drink anything, but she's so hungry, she eats 6 pomegranate seeds.

Meanwhile Demeter is searching the earth for her daughter, and is furious when she finds out what has happened. She demands Persephone back. Hades smugly tells her that Persephone is his--she's eaten at his table and is therefore bound to him. Demeter admits this is true...but because she only ate 6 seeds she only has to stay there for 6 months of the year.

So poor Persephone goes back and forth between being above ground with her mother and being the forced wife of Hades, half of the year with each. And while Persephone is in the Underworld her mother mourns...and we have winter.

Good story, eh?

This version is a bit different than I thought...she only stays there a third of the year, and there's no bull.

The wikipedia version covers some different versions of the myth. I'm still not seeing anything about the bull, so maybe that was a weird version I saw...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pomegranates and Persephone

Here's a poll, of sorts:

Without looking it up, how many of you know the story of Persephone and the pomegranate seeds?

I'm curious, as I refer to it in the book, and I was surprised that my husband didn't know it. It's not a problem as I explain...but I'm wondering how well-known the story is.

I changed the right-hand menu a little. In the final step of severance, I took the Murderess excerpt link down--it was time. I'm not working on that book anymore. And I put up a progress bar for the new book, currently titled "Jenna". My goal--thanks, Vic {g}--is to have the first draft done by Surrey, at the end of October. I wrote 1100+ words yesterday (yay, me). I can make that.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Science Fair

Guess what, y'all? After ONE WEEK on the shelves, Scent of Shadows made #82 on the USA Today Bestseller List. Wow! Congrats, Vicki!

Back to your regularly scheduled blog:

On Tuesday, I participated in the regional Science Fair for 5th-8th graders, as a judge for 7th/8th grade behavioral science. (No laughing, please--I was a psych major, if briefly.) I also had to choose the winner of my department's award for best board presentation overall.

I'd never judged, or even participated in, a Science Fair before, so this hormone-soaked competitive atmosphere was a bit new to me. Kids lounged under tables, listening to ipods or reading thick fantasy books, until I walked by with my clipboard...and then they leaped to their feet, smiling anxiously, mentally preparing their speeches. I kept telling them not to worry, at which point most of them would mumble "okay" and drop instantly to their lounging positions again. Very Strange.

I listened politely to all 12 groups of kids in my section explain their experiments. Some were quite impressive and well thought out--and some raced rodents through tubes for no apparent reason. But I'd finished my group and the other judges weren't done, so I took the opportunity to wander the whole hall to decide on the overall prize.

I was feeling pretty cocky and grown-up, walking through aisle after aisle. Look at me, I'm a JUDGE, I thought. I'm a professional, working woman. Some of you might even look up to me.

And then I got a tap on my shoulder.

I turned to find a 7th grade boy, in white shirt and dress pants, about 2 inches from my face. He was surrounded a few paces back by a circle of similar boys. They all snickered simultaneously, and I suddenly wondered if this was that dream, where I forgot to put any pants on.

"I like your badge," he said, and they all laughed again. I blinked. I looked down at the "JUDGE" badge pinned on my chest, a simple tag with a little icon of a judge in one of those plastic covers. It was exactly the same as all the other adults were wearing. How on earth do I react to this? What is the appropriate cool grown-up response?

"It's hot, isn't it?" I said, with a knowing smile.

His turn to blink. Then, emboldened by his friends watching, he continued. "It's shiiiiiny," he said, and they all turned, like a school of fish, and walked away.

I have no idea what this little episode means...or whether it was particularly good judgement to say "It's hot" to a 7th-grader. But I must remember this when I'm writing about 14-year-olds.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Small Pleasures

I am currently listening to Julie Andrews sing "Edelweiss"...and it just makes me smile all over.

Yes, that is all for now; I just felt like sharing. I _did_ have something I wanted to blog about, last night, but it's been completely escaping me all day...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The envelope, please

And the super-cool zodiac pendant goes to...


Congratulations, Danne! E-mail me with your "sign" (or the one you want on the pendant, anyway).

Thanks for entering, everyone--and even more, thanks for supporting The Scent of Shadows! It was a kick to see photos from all over the U.S. and Canada.

Don't forget that Sara's contest is still open, until March 30th!


From Sara at Cole's in Lindsay, Ontario:

Today's the day! But you still have time...

You've got till noon mountain time to enter your picture. Here are 2 more sets--and I hear more are coming!

From Diana, at a Borders in Silver Spring, Maryland ("a nice front of store display"):
From Julie, at Hastings in Butte, Montana:

Note that she seems to be getting a lot of displays and face-outs. Yay!

At noon I'll do a random drawing, and announce the winner shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Books meme

And a quick meme I got from Stephanie, because I found it interesting:

Look at the list of books below: *Bold the ones you’ve read* Italicize the ones you want to read* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)

2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)

6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)

18. The Stand (Stephen King)

19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)

20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) Alternate TBR

27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

31. Dune (Frank Herbert)

32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

34. 1984 (Orwell)

35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)

38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)

39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)

40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)

42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)

44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

45. The Bible

46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)

49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)

51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)

59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)

65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)

68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

69. Les Miserables (Hugo)

70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)

72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)

73. Shogun (James Clavell)

74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)

79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)

82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)

83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

85. Emma (Jane Austen)

86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)

87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)

89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)

93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)

99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

I've read 43/100. Mostly for that English was interesting to me how many I really just don't want to add to my reading list, though. It's too big already!

And from Canada...

From Pam, captured at Chapters in Pointe Claire, Quebec:

Pam has a doozy of a story behind it, too. I've begged her to let me post the story here, but we'll see.

Back to reality

Another Scent sighting, from Davis-Kidd in Memphis. Thanks, Erin!

REMINDER: You only have until tomorrow, noon mountain time, to send me your picture and enter the contest. Details here.

We had an excellent weekend. Saturday was Date Night, and hubby and I went to see the movie Music and Lyrics (thumbs-up), to dinner, and then to see a marionette show. Yep, puppets for adults. Seriously, this man was amazing...the marionettes were so very lifelike in their movements, in the exquisite detail of everyday actions. As a writer I would do well to understand human actions as well as he does.

And Sunday we slept in late, then picked up Child and went swimming at the Hot Springs. Ahhhhh, the life.

Must go work now. Perhaps more later, after writing at lunch!

Friday, March 02, 2007


FTD update: They still suck. But after 3 10-minute+ calls, they at least gave us our money back. Good thing, as when I got home yesterday all the flowers were completely dead. The left is a photo of the bouquet he tried to buy for me. Somebody suggested I just print it out and put it on the wall. :)

This morning I got to hear the governor of Montana speak on energy resources for an hour...dayamn the man is a good public speaker, and very smart and capable. Watch out presidency in a couple of years.

Ya know, I was thinking this morning that this blog's been on the boring side lately. Sorry about that, if so. I've been having some inner journeys {g} and haven't been very social as a result, even online. We'll see if I can be a bit more open as we go along here.

In other news, I just received a photo from Linda, from B&N in Reston, Virginia:

Reminder: Y'all have until Tuesday (noon my time) to send me a picture, to enter for the cool zodiac pendant grand prize. Send 'em in!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another picture...and holding

From Barnes & Noble in Lincoln, Nebraska:

Thanks, Jen! Who else has a bookstore and a camera?

I had a super-cool, amazing quote from STORY picked out to post today...but I forgot to bring the book to work. Ah well. I'm such a tease. You'll get, another day.

In other news, I'm currently on hold with, because they suck. My wonderful husband ordered flowers for my birthday FIVE days in advance, and the idiots decided to ship them instead of using a local florist. So my poor flowers came from Denver, to Memphis, to Great Falls, to Billings, where they got stuck in a snowstorm and did NOT come for my birthday. He was Very Sad. When they did come (yesterday) the bouquet and vase were not even close to what he ordered (beautiful orange and red roses), and they were all brown and kinda smelly. Did I say that SUCKS? So now I am calling to tell them that no, I am not "very satisfied with this gift and that it has arrived in excellent condition". I've been on hold for 10 minutes so far. Grrrrr.

However, I must remember to still be pretty pleased that he sent me beautiful roses for my birthday....even if it didn't work out quite right.

Send me your pictures!