Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Words of Hope

About publishing: The fabulous Janet Reid's May You Live in Interesting Times

About Santa: DaMomma's How I Came to Believe in Santa

I am feeling hopeful this morning. It is almost Christmas, all my family is well and happy, and though all may not be "right" with the world, it never truly is. We must enjoy all that we are so very lucky to have.

I do. I am incredibly blessed--with family, friends, work that I enjoy, and this crazy fun obsessive thing called writing. And I know it. You can't get much better than that.

In case I don't manage to post again for a while, Happy Holidays, whichever ones you celebrate. May your holiday, and the coming year, be filled with love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Random

Am head down finishing up this work report before vacation. So for now, just a note:

Last night I watched Sense and Sensibility on BBC, while drinking Bailey's and eating tortilla chips and cheese dip.

That's pretty much girl porn at its finest.

That is all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And the winner is...

WHITNEY!!

Congratulations, Whitney! Send me an email to susan dot adrian @ yahoo.com with your snail mail address, and we'll send your copy off!

Thanks for playing, everybody!

Contest closed!

Thanks for all your entries! The winner will be announced momentarily... Child is making the slips and will draw the winner!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Superstar Courtney Summers Interview and CONTEST!

As promised! Live! Straight from Canada! An interview with the fabulous, the effervescent, the magical COURTNEY SUMMERS!

Courtney Summers' debut YA novel, Cracked up to Be, is coming out from St. Martin's Press on TUESDAY. Blurbage:
WHAT’S THE WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she’s turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

I have been waiting for it for years...okay, maybe A year, but I am very excited about this book. (Plus I lurve Courtney--she makes me laugh all day on Twitter--but that is beside the point.) After you've read the interview and entered the contest, you can go read the first two chapters here, and you'll need it like I do.

I know, I've given you all these links and you want to click them. But no. Be patient. First, the interview! We did get a leetle bit crazy. But just enough to entice, really.


1. Your imminent and utterly fabulous book CRACKED UP TO BE, being YA, has some nasty high school scenes. What was your most embarrassing experience in high school?


Is there a person out there who has gotten over their most embarrassing high school experience enough to actually admit ON THE INTERNET what it was? But I don't want to cop out and let you down because you are so ~*sparkly*~, so here is one of my most embarrassing experiences: I had really short hair during my (brief) time in Catholic high school. REALLY short hair. Like, Winona Ryder at her Shortest Short Hair. I dunno why. It was likely to save myself the trouble of brushing it. I still remember wanting to die when I heard the following words spake in my direction: "Why is that boy wearing a kilt?"
And that is all I will say about that.

2. Though I have not yet read all of CUTB (I will pounce on it the very first second it appears in a retail establishment), I sneak-previewed your first two chapters online. What struck me the most was how very real the voice was: I was immediately sucked into Parker's head, and her perspective. Did you work to achieve that, or did the voice come fairly easily?


Aw, thank you so much! Parker is pretty sarcastic and bitchy. I don't know how bad it sounds to say I never have to work too hard to get into the headspace required to write someone who is like that, but there it is (now who wants to be my BFF?). I have to say, writing a book is always tough, though... I think if one part of telling a story comes easily, your novel will inevitably be difficult in different ways to make up for it. Parker's voice came to me very clearly, but figuring out the reveal of her Big Secret did not. I kept giving it away too soon and then having to go back and edit it like, fifty bajillion times.

3. What part of the writing beats you up the most? Which comes most easily to you? (or should I say which do you pwn?)

All of it. I mean, all of writing totally beats me up, from start to finish. There are brief moments of reprieve, but I have a feeling I'm just so concussed by my own words at those points that they're all in my imagination. Pwnation comes when the book is done and done. And that can take... a while. *sob*

4. How have things changed since you got The Call? How has it affected your writing?

One of the biggest things that has changed is the way I manage my time. I have more things to keep up with than I did before (social networking, promo stuffs, replying to people in a timely fashion), and I have to be able to stay on top of them while finding the time to write. I don't always succeed. So finding a balance, I think, is going to be an ongoing adventure for me. As a result of Cracked Up to Be's sale, my writing process has become slightly more organized. Like, I OUTLINE now. I used to HAATEEE outlining. What is up with that.

5. Tell me about the ~*sparkles*~ and the sparkle hos.

I was saving this chapter for my autobiography--IN SEARCH OF JEFF PROBST--but I will tell you and only you about The Origin of ~*sparkles*~ and ~*The Sparkle Hos*~ because you have a way of asking questions that makes me want to answer them, just like Barbara Walters. The ~*Sparkle Hos*~ are a vigilante group of Twilight fans who right all wrongs in this corrupt, justiceless society, sort of like your world's Batman. We inherited our ~*sparkles*~ from the ~*sparkliest of them all*~ (Edward Cullen) and cut bitches with our ~*sparkle knives*~. Sometimes we pair up with The Outsiders and save orphans from burning buildings, if we feel like it. In our free time, we like to search the world for Carmen Sandiego. Wednesday is our Twilight Book Club Day. We drink tea and eat crumpets and discuss the Meyerverse at length. Sometimes we beat up Jacob Black fans just for kicks. By the way, are you Jacob Black fan, Susan? I ask for for no particular reason.

6. You put together a book trailer for CUTB that made the rounds of the internets pretty successfully. Can you talk about trailers as promotion, and the best way to tackle putting one together?


I know lots of authors feel differently about how effective self-promotion is in the long-term but as M.J. Rose says,"No one will buy a book that they do not know exists." I think making a book trailer for your novel can go a long way into getting the word out. My editor was thrilled when I told her I wanted to do it. I was fortunate enough to have my friend Daisy Whitney (http://daisywhitney.com) feature it on her New Media Minute and her segment on NCB's KNTV (thank you, Daisy!) and these were great opportunities for exposure--neither of which would have occurred if there'd been no trailer there in the first place. You can't overstate the value of actively promoting yourself, really. As far as putting a trailer together--that was a more intuitive process. I experimented with Windows Movie Maker for months before the final trailer was released, just to get a sense of how the program worked and how to best take advantage of its features. I scanned in the hand drawn elements (the notes, the hangman, the broken heart) and the rockin' photographs and music were provided by talented artists who I got in contact with well before the trailer was released. They gave me permission to use their work. Everything was taken care of by the time the trailer went live, and I think choosing to releasing it prior to the book's release (I know some people make a trailer after the fact), allowed for some nice build.

7. What music did you listen to most while writing CUTB? What are you listening to now?

I listened to lots of melancholy, emo tunes or really angry rock/alternative songs while writing CUTB. Matthew Good's song, Anti-Pop really headed up the Cracked Up to Be playlist. The chorus is very Parker: "You're not my girl, you're just tired." Right now, I'm listening to a lot of mah girl, Britney. Cause she's FIERCE and I heart her. Circus, Womanizer--SO SATISFYING. And songs from Lily Allen's upcoming album (I can't wait for it!). Also the Twilight soundtrack/score because when I buy in, I buy in. And Matthew Good Band's The Audio of Being. Brad Sucks's latest release, Out of It, is in constant rotation. All good stuff.

8. Time for your own magical words of advice: one sentence of wisdom for wanna-be writers out there. Go!

Go straight at it.
----------
Yay! Thank you so much, Courtney!

Now, the CONTEST. Simple as eating pie. Add a comment to this post with the word ~*sparkle*~ in it. (It doesn't have to have the fancies, but you get extra karmic bonus points for them.) Entries close at noon Montana time Saturday, December 20. Then we'll do a random draw for...

your very own copy of CRACKED UP TO BE!

I know. I would fight you for it, if I wasn't already buying my own copy and taking it away with me.

Ready? Go! Be ~*sparkly*~!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's your blind spot?

Do you ever watch What Not to Wear?

Basically it's a makeover show, with public humiliation added in. Evil friends and family nominate people who have fashion "issues", and Truly Stylish people secretly videotape them in awful-wear, confront them and make them throw away all their clothes, and then give them money to shop for new clothes. Inevitably the makeover-ees bumble about, completely clueless and angry, but in the end they breathe fabulousness and are sent off back home to wow everyone.

It's kind of mean and awful, but I like watching it now and then. It always amazes me how much better the people really do look (and profess to feel) at the end, with just a little outside tweaking. So this morning I was thinking about this, and I realized: I think everyone has a Blind Spot.

We look at ourselves in the mirror and focus on particular things--our hair, or the way our shirt is pulling on the shoulder, and we fix it and go. But we don't really LOOK at ourselves as a whole very often, the image we present to other people. I don't think we can see it that way. We're stuck too far in ourselves to recognize it.

Do you know anyone who has one thing about them that's really OFF, that everyone else notices, but they seem blind to? I used to know someone who wore heavy pancake makeup, every day, that was clearly too pale for her skin. It didn't match; it looked fake and patchy and nasty. I could never understand how she could look in the mirror and not notice that. Or the lady I used to work with who dressed professionally, had nice makeup...and wore her straw-yellow-dyed hair in a poufed 60s hairstyle every day. It aged her 10 years, that hairstyle. I just wanted to put it in a ponytail for her.

Yes, there's perception: some people might like that look. But really, not most people. There are things that are just all wrong--that's what Go Fug Yourself is based on. And usually really easily "fixed". I suspect maybe everybody has a Blind Spot. Maybe something not obvious--MAYBE SOMETHING NOT PHYSICAL--but something everyone who encounters them notices, but they're not aware of.

Now before you go all thinking that I'm a shallow, judgmental, horrible person (it may be too late for that, right?), I do have a writing reason for talking about Blind Spots. They're a great thing to think about when you're fleshing out characters.

For instance. Jenna, one of my MCs, is an excellent actress. She knows that, everybody knows that. So she thinks she can hide stuff very well. She imagines that she can control everyone else's perception of her. What she doesn't realize--but everyone around her does--is that she's living behind a wall. She's closed herself off, and doesn't let anyone in. It's clear in her behavior, but she doesn't see it. Blind Spot, and more interesting than a physical one.

It's also useful when you're simply describing a character. MCs, being the perceptive creatures they are, will hone right on in other character's Blind Spots and point them out to us. Then you can play with that awareness--the reader knows, the MC knows, but the other character doesn't--which is always interesting. Subtle extra conflict to layer in on top of other more obvious drama.

So as a writer when you're developing characters, when you're writing a scene, it might be useful to think about everyone's Blind Spots. What do they not see about themselves? How can you use it?

What are your characters' Blind Spots?

Also, ***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT***: Very, very soon, I will be posting an exclusive interview with the truly amazing Courtney Summers, whose debut novel CRACKED UP TO BE is due out next week (pause for squee). We'll be giving away a copy of CUTB, so you won't want to miss it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

and MUSIC!

Thanks so much for your lovely food comments yesterday. Let's all take a moment to think about holiday food.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Now let's turn to our next topic specific to the holiday season*: Holiday Music.

As soon as we hit the day after Thanksgiving, I allow myself to let the Christmas music in. We have a pile of old classics CDs at home: Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme. (Yes, I meant OLD classics!) Plus the Charlie Brown Christmas CD, which I understand many people hate. *shrug* For me, it's soothing. At work I also crank up Pandora, to "Christmas Rock" or "Green Christmas" by the Barenaked Ladies.

But none of that is what I crave, musically. All of it is nice background music, I sing along, and it's all good. But the music that feeds my soul during the short, dark days, the music that makes me overlook the bustle of shopping and remember what it all is FOR?

The Cambridge Singers.
(alternate link here)

If you haven't heard of them, The Cambridge Singers are a sublime British-based choir, with almost all the songs arranged by John Rutter. They sing medieval Christmas carols, hymns, and new (gorgeous) works created by John. We own many many of their CDs, and they're all loaded into ITunes.

For Christmas specifically, my favorites are Christmas Star, Christmas Night, and Christmas Day. Here, let me see if I can post a snippet.

This is in video form, but it's really just the music.



So, that's my favorite music. Your turn: what do you like to listen to at the holidays?


*You'll note I'm not talking about further publishing meltdowns, or panic because of same, or how books are going to go away. I think Janet Reid addressed that quite nicely yesterday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tis the season for EATING

First: I finished my final, and my term paper, and thus my class! Yay! One more semester + thesis, and I am DONE. Of course that's still a lot of work to go, but Iamthisclose!

Second: Like many areas of the country, it's freaking COLD. With wind chill it was -30F this weekend. Without wind chill this morning it was -20. Brrr.

I talked before about what that feels like, so I won't go over that again. Today, I wanna talk about one of writers' favorite subjects: food.

Cold weather makes us all want to increase our food intake, particularly carbs (it's scientific!) Plus it's the holidays, so we all have traditional foods that we make every year...or crave.

So. Here's a top ten list of the foods/drinks I crave at this time of year:

  • satsuma oranges
  • chocolate, particularly fudge
  • pasta
  • potatoes (any form, really)
  • chips and onion dip (this is straight from childhood)
  • peppermint mochas
  • eggnog
  • bread bread bread
  • Chinese food (?)
  • pot roast
See? It's all about the warm, the carbs, the protein. And the chocolate. :)

How about you? What are your top ten cold/holiday food cravings?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Where I am right now

I know, I have not been posting.

This is partly because I continue to be swamped. Today I'm working on my department's Biennial Report to the Legislature, which thankfully this year will not be as boring as that sounds, as we're completely revamping. Of course revamping means "me completely redoing from scratch", but hey. It sounded like a good idea when I volunteered for it. :) I'm also working on final projects for class, *trying* to work on the thesis, and juggling increasing levels of Holiday Stuff. None of which I mind--it's just that I'm busy.

The other reason I haven't been here is that the economy is continuing to suck, and as we all know the publishing industry took a ginormous hit this week. I don't like to talk about negative stuff like that, as I feel that continuing the negative "oh my god" patter just perpetuates the downward cycle. People panic, people cling to their dwindling wads of money, more people get laid off, more people don't have money, etc.

Let's just say that in reading the American Girl Kit Kittredge books with Child this week, the "About Kit's World: The Great Depression" informative bits in the back sounded disturbingly close to today's headlines. And it's soooo easy to let the panic bump up. I've got a book out there in this publishing craziness, trying to find a home. It's easy to *worry worry worry* over every headline of bad news.

But.

I have to realize, control freak that I am, that the publishing industry's survival, and the whole nation's economy, are not in my hands. I can shop as I normally would (I am), I can keep putting money in the stock market (I am), I can give more to those who need it (I am), and I can support the book industry by buying more books (yep, that too). If I look around for ways to help, and I'm doing all those things...what more can I do?

I can keep doing my job, and do it well. All my jobs: the one I'm paid for, and the ones I'm not. Right now writing is one that I'm not yet paid for. That's not a change. I haven't been paid for it for 10 years. I'm not going to stop doing it because the economy's losing its mind. I'm not going to stop putting words on the page, or my butt in the chair, or my passion in the story. Or figuring out ways to do it *better*. Yes, I don't know what's going to happen to my stories on the other end, but right now, that's not my problem.

Panic is useless, and self-feeding. Action, even usual day-to-day "500 new words" or "grocery shopping" action, is positive.

It'll come back up eventually. It HAS to. In the meantime, I've got some work to do.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Contest bonanza!

And not mine. Obviously some giveaway spice is in the air, because all of a sudden everyone seems to be holding contests and giving away stuff.

You think I'm kidding, but no. Here are the contests I've seen in just the past two days. Go! Enter! Win free things! (Why not?)
Okay, I know there were more. Anyway, that's good for a start!

I'm fairly head down. Paper done and turned in, working on project, filling out forms to register for my last classes and to graduate (!). Also work work stuff. Plus, you know, CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!

Happy December 2!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Confession time!

All right, I admit it. I didn't make my writing goal over the 4-day weekend.

BUT I had a lovely, restful holiday. I ate turkey and stuffing and cranberry relish that Child had made at school. We introduced Child to the wonders of the Wizard of Oz--she and I cuddled together in the big chair in case the witch was a little too scary.

For me, of course. Child was fine with her. And after watching the original again, I think my flying monkeys are definitely scarier than those flying monkeys. Mine have spotlight eyes, for one. And they're not blue. And I don't know what those sardonic expressions were--mine never make you want to laugh. Cower, maybe.

Anyway, I may have to let up a teeny bit on SSP goals for a while. End of term is crunching hard and fast, and thesis deadlines with it. But I will NOT stop! December, I'm ready for you!*

*mostly

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiting!

We're all waiting for the Call around here.

Not "THE Call", of course, but the one telling us we can leave early and go home for the holiday.

In the meantime I'm supposed to be writing and doing my thesis work (simultaneously?) and I'm not really doing either. Suckage. I'm yawning and watching the clock and IM'ing and waiting for the Call.

I'm ready for four days off, and for turkey and mashed potatoes and pie and cake and onion dip. And for taking some time to mindfully appreciate all the bounty that I have.

I am so, so thankful. Not least, for all of you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another whew.

That was kinda harder than I thought it would be.

Some other major work came up, so I had to revise my wordcount goal. Today's was to heave 'er up over 4000. It took some major brain-sweat, but I did it. In with my two meetings and lunch date and piles of other stuff.

Now I have a million other tasks on my list. Why is this week so crazy? Is it because we're trying to cram a whole week's worth of work into 3 days?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back on the horse

Last week's challenges really helped me get back in the groove, and remember the Prime Rule:

Writing begets writing. When you work, the ideas come.

So the new challenge is: 2500 words.

No, not today. This week. Still got all that pesky Other Stuff, and Thanksgiving undercuts 2 days of writing time, so I'm being slightly easier on myself than other weeks.

But I will get back on it, and I will keep my steady writing pace. I was inspired yesterday by a fabulous, lyrical post by Toni McGee Causey: comfort reading

I like to think that I'm writing for the girl alone in her room, worn out from a day of battling the nasties at school: the kids who are evil just because they can be, the teacher who's coming down hard on her because he wants to help, but doesn't understand that she can't take a single extra bit of pressure right now. Not with her parents fighting in the next room, thinking she can't hear them because there's a wall. Or past caring. It looks like the plant's going to close, she knows that. Everybody in town knows that. And there's nothing else in this town for her parents to do, if they both get laid off at once. Now Mom's crying. They'll lose the house, she says. They'll lose everything. And then what will we do?

And she doesn't want to hear it anymore, think about it anymore. If she thinks about it all at once she might lose it, hard, and she can't let herself do that.

So she picks up a book, concentrates on the words on the page, and thinks about something else for a while. Gets to go somewhere else.

I want to give her someplace to go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One...more...challenge!

We had a brief but whopper snowstorm last night. Hubby peeked out the curtains last night at the snow whipping sideways and said "You think Pa can make it back in this?"*

So today we dragged out the snow shovel, the snow boots, the snow pants. I'm okay with that--it IS late November in Montana. Though we really do need to put the snow tires on the car.

Anyway, if you've been following along, we've been having quite the challenge week, trying to get me and anyone else who felt like joining in back up to a decent writing pace from...well, in my case, nothing. 200, 400, 600. Today is 800 new words, and I'm feeling I can do it.

Can you?

*Yes, obscure Little House reference.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good! Next!

Whew.

A nice group of us made that one too. Yay to Linder, Deb, Brenda, Helene, and Gary! (and everyone else who wrote at LEAST that much yesterday)

I believe it's time for the disclaimer.

So as I might have said, I'm starting a brand-new book after not writing new stuff since August, and I'm trying to get back into the mode. My not-so-secret goal is to get back up to my normal writing pace, which is about 800 words a day.

(That may seem like a piddle compared to many of you full-time writers, but I've found with work and masters classes and thesis work and family, that's what I can do. And I still get books written--3 so far--so I'm good with that as an average, most times!)

So today, I'm adding 200 more words, for a grand total of 600 new words today.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next challenge

So all of us made it yesterday, and many overshot. Woot for us! I ended up with 530 new words for the day. (Thank you guys SO much for participating with this! It's just what I needed!!)

Now. *Demon Physical Therapist Face* Obviously that was WAY too easy. Let's double it.

400 new words on your WIP. Come back here and post when you've done it. Ready? GO!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Story and a Challenge

First the story, then the challenge.

One day about 10 years ago, I was doing extremely boring SGML coding in my cubicle. I decided I needed another cup of coffee to make it through, so I stood up...and my knee went "POP". Owww-ooch.

Follow on with continued pain, and arthroscopic knee surgery to repair my meniscus (which, um, wasn't torn? Different story). Followed by physical therapy.

Physical therapy after surgery is HELL. Fiery evil flames of hell. Physical therapists, while generally nice, are also demons.

"I can't do that," I'd say innocently. "My leg doesn't bend that way anymore."

"Yes you can," they'd say. [picture demon face, teeth bared, roaring "DO IT"]

And they'd make me. And then next time they'd make me do more [painful evilness hell]. And after 6 months of physical therapy, my knee felt perfectly fine in spite of the fact that surgery had done nothing for it. I waved cheerily as I said goodbye to my demon physical therapists.

So I know you're waiting for the moral/analogy to writing here. You can see it, obvious: You can do it if you try, right? You can do more than you imagined if prodded effectively.

Well, right. But also: writing HURTS sometimes. It is HARD. It is the fiery evil flames of hell trying to get yourself going, and you whine and say no I can't. I don't wanna. But it is also a process, and it goes up and down, and eventually you come through the other side with a fixed knee good book, if you're persistent.

And if you challenge yourself.

So, I'm trying to build up my flabby writing muscles again, and I'm challenging you and I'm challenging me. Today we're gonna start SUPER-easy: 200 words.

You can do that with your eyes closed. Go. Write 200 new words on your WIP. Come back and post a comment when you've got 'em done. I'll come back and post when I do too (though it won't be for a while--I DO have to work first!)

Ready? 200 words. GO!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another recommendation...

Because it is genius, for anybody who needs help on where to go next in the plot:

http://matociquala.livejournal.com/1020402.html

Thank you, Elizabeth Bear!

Recommendations?

WAKE UP EVERYONE!

Hermiting is done for now. I think. I'm writing SSP (and it is FUN to start a new book and play!), I'm at work for a full normal week (last week was too weird and disjointed), and I get to go out to dinner with hubby tonight. And we had a lovely weekend.

Plus...I'm just tired of listening to my own voice in my own head. It gets a bit monotonous. So in an effort to mix it up a little, I'm declaring it Recommendation Monday.

Idea: for those two people still reading this blog, post with a recommendation for something you love. Anything. Book, movie, food, hobby, computer game, music, art, blog, whatever. The idea is to share the stuff you love with other people, so we can all discover something new today.

My recommendations for today:

Book: WAKE, by Lisa McMann. I'm not done yet, but I'm enjoying!

Movie: CASHBACK. Again, haven't quite finished; we were watching last night. But I love it!! Quirky and original.

Recipe: Honey Mint Glazed Chicken. Made again last night, and it's sooo moist and flavorful and yummy. And easy! I don't have a grill, so I broil it.

Most Excellent Funny Blog Post: Courtney Summers guest-blogging on The Swivet about YA "rules" or not-rules.

Web Programs to Make Your Life Easier and More Fun: Google Reader. Statcounter (if you have a blog). Pandora.

Your turn!! Please share at least one thing you recommend!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wha?

Oh, uh...hi.

Look at that, it's been more than a week since I blogged. Hmmm. Let's see. I...

--only ended up working for about 2 days. I went home sick Monday afternoon, Tuesday was Veteran's Day, Wednesday Child went home sick suddenly, Thursday I was home with her, and today I've been here for most of the day, though I had to run out for an appointment. Whew.

--had meetings every day I WAS at work.

--did not write. With everything else, I just didn't manage. I tried to get back in the swing today, and discovered my writing muscles are weak and flabby and sore. Now I have to get back in shape again. *sigh* But I will not let it beat me! SSP, I will get going with you!

--on the day no one was sick, and yet we did not have work, hubby and I caught 4 beautiful rainbow trout, about 4-5 lbs each. Most excellent.

And so here I sit on Friday afternoon after a mostly unproductive week. Yet I had fun spending time with Child and hubby, which is much needed. And *right* this second I'm sending out powerful good-luck vibes to one of my closest friends, hoping for The Best News Ever. You know who you are. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday linkage

And with all that time on my hands, I've clicked on some links that I absolutely LOVED.

First, an interview with Michael Crichton and his editor, Bob Gottlieb, on the editing process of The Andromeda Strain, courtesy of Sarah Weinman. Priceless.

For fun, a wonderful and wonderfully weird video of a cappella singing (a group named Moosebutter) to John William's music, about Star Wars. Yes. I mean it. It's fabulous.

Last, Sharpie Art. Because why not, really.

Enjoy.

Between book blues

(I know I've blogged about this before, but I can't find it, so good luck on anyone ELSE finding it.)

I am useless between books.

Absolutely blooming useless. I sit on my butt and do nothing. I am not motivated to clean, or get working on my thesis, or catch up on things that have been long-undone, or even read! I watch YouTube. I click on links I don't even really want to read. I annoy people on Twitter. I stare at my screen and feel empty.

It's like if I'm not using my willpower to fit book-writing in between everything else, my willpower runs away and takes a holiday. Even though there are things I should be doing, I don't want to do them. I am adrift.

Yeah, I've been Without Book for 3 whole days. *eyeroll*

Okay, that's not really true. I haven't been working on a new book since...August. I've been doing revisions since then. So maybe this is all an accumulation of all that blankness of new creativity.

Anyway. Enough is freaking enough, and I'm going to start real work on SSP* today. Thank God. Things can get back to crazy-normal, which is normal for me.

*Super-Secret Project. This will be its name in public for quite some time, I imagine...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

At last.

I cried last night.

Actually, I teared up a lot yesterday.

When I stood in a voting booth, surrounded by all the enthusiastic bustle of a whole town's worth of people, and marked the space next to a candidate I REALLY want to be my President.

When I was knocking on doors for Obama, and I had a long talk with a lovely 82-year-old lady in a housecoat about how voting for Obama reminds her of things her father, an immigrant from Ireland, told her were important. How excited she was that he might actually win.

When I was holding Child in my lap and watching election results, and she was keeping track for me, cheering as the states came pouring in.

But mostly when the results were announced, and I realized I could stop holding my breath in dread that something-would-go-wrong, that it would all be a dream, that it really couldn't happen. That I really could allow all that pent-up hope to come out, at last.

HOPE.

And then I saw his speech, and I blubbered my way through it. All those emotions that I'd been keeping in, free at last. (and no, I didn't type that accidentally)

More hope. Joy. Optimism. Gratitude. Pride.

Thank you, Americans, for giving hope a shot this time. And for those who didn't, I hope you're pleasantly surprised. I've got lots of hope to share, now.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Please, please, please...

VOTE!!

I'm off to volunteer for Barack Obama's campaign, most of the day. Fingers crossed. I still have hope.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hiring Obama

Maureen Johnson is made of awesome.

Her post on YA for Obama about how McCain/Palin would run a Starbucks, vs. how Obama would:

http://yaforobama.ning.com/profiles/blogs/hiring-obama

Edited to add:

I kept reading. Libba Bray's is pretty amazing too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ramblings

Hello there.

I meant to write in-depth about my experience at Surrey, but it's too late now. The moment has passed, and other events have eclipsed it and changed my perception, as they do. So I'll just say that I had a wonderful time with my friends and Agent Janet. Shout-out to my girls.

Next time I go to a conference, I will remember to post about it sooner! But for now...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

I'm not a Halloween devotee, mostly because I generally don't like putting on costumes and traipsing about. Also, it's usually FREAKING COLD here on Halloween. Last year it was like 10 degrees below zero when we were out. It turned into a race: how many houses can we visit before our fingertips are frozen to the point that we need to go back to Grandma's house and warm up with more cocoa?

But it IS fun having a kid on Halloween. Child gets very excited about the costume thing, and the candy thing. (who could blame her?) She's been a princess in some form for the past 3 years, so this year she decided enough with the princess: she is going to be a panther. Black clothes, black fuzzy tail, black cat mask. Black painted nails for claws. This was the MOST exciting part, as nail polish is generally not allowed yet at our house. So last night I painted her nails, and--at her request--mine. Am typing this with black panther-claw nails. :) We also decorated a pumpkin to look like a black cat, to match.

We are READY.

And I hope I'm ready for the election next week, too. For the first time in my life I volunteered to work for a candidate--I believe that strongly in Barack Obama. Tuesday I'll be doing whatever they need me to do, getting out the vote. Hoping it will make a difference, and this year won't be like all the others. This year we'll do it.

I have hope.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes! I'm back!!

First I had no brain to make a coherent post, now I have no time to make a coherent post.

Soon, my pretties.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Buh-bye!!

All RIGHT.

Midterm paper done and turned in. That was my last obstacle, and now I am free! (free free free) *you must visualize the little dance I'm doing while I sing that*

I am off to Surrey.

I love Surrey. Surrey is learning from and hanging out with the best writers, agents, and editors around. Surrey is finding yourself in a room FULL of people who completely understand what hell this whole process is and how you're obsessed with spending all your time doing it anyway. Surrey is reuniting with all my very best friends once a year and enjoying the heck out of it for 4 full days. Surrey is leaving behind all my commitments for a little while--family, work, school, thesis, internet--and just being.

Later, all. I am absolutely not bringing my laptop, so I will be back on Tuesday. Exhausted, maybe a little tipsy still. But refreshed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yipsy doodle

Revisions, you are MINE. Yessss!

Um, for now. For at least a couple days.

Homework, check.

Now off to read my research articles and write an outline for the paper I need to write tomorrow. But I think I've made enough progress that I can allow myself to catch up on ANTM at lunch and eat dark chocolate.

Now that, my friends, is a wahoo!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I know you missed me so much...

But I was really away!

Last week I was in northern California--my old stomping grounds--visiting family. Also, trying to fit in work. In between FairyTale Town-ing, pumpkin patch-ing, and a quick dip in San Francisco, I managed to pound on my revisions, do research for a paper, and do homework.

In other words, I had no time to blog. Crazy, I know.

Now I'm back home, but it's crunch time. Those revisions are due tomorrow (almost done, on final read-through to make sure I didn't leave any craziness dangling in there). The homework is also due tomorrow. The paper is due Wednesday.

And Thursday, I leave for my beloved Surrey to hang with my girls and my fabulous agent Janet.

More on Surrey when I find my head!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

*warning* *overload*

AAAHHH!

Okay, revisions, thesis, prep for Trip 1, prep for Trip 2, homework, thesis work, work work, prepping house for winter, buying present and getting stuff together for a sleepover/swim birthday party Child was invited to TOMORROW NIGHT that I just found out about last night...

I can do all this, right? Tell me I can do all this.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday Love Day

Okay, it's Monday afternoon. I've seen a lot of people having rough times today.

I think everybody's in need of a love day.

I like to do these every once in a while--they make at least ME feel better. Hope they make you feel better too, for a minute at least. I don't like rules, but if you feel like it here's what you do to participate:

POST A COMMENT SAYING AT LEAST ONE THING YOU LOVE, RIGHT NOW.

Easy, huh?

I'll start. Right this particular second I love:

--Louis Armstrong
--Candy corn
--The brilliant orangey fall light streaming in my window

Your turn! You don't need to stop Monday either. Post as many as you want!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Register!

Okay, I know YOU'RE all registered to vote, right? But you might know some people who aren't. So feel free to pass this one along!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Link Festival

Some amazingly interesting stuff going on this week!

Back to work!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A timely quote from my planner:

"Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourself a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles." --Helen Keller


Thank you, Helen. Some days we all need that.

Friday, September 26, 2008

All your publishing questions ANSWERED!

Finally, after much struggle and heartache and dangerous adventures on your behalf, I have located the magic treasure box of Publishing Answers. This box is soooo magical (and sparkly) that it not only contains all the answers every writer wants to know, but it personalizes the answers for each person. So yes, the answers below really are for YOU. They are the real, truthful answers. No more waiting! No more endless wondering! No more twitching!

Now, I haven't tried it yet either, so I'm going to be surprised right along with you. I've made up a list of the usual questions, and we'll see what the oracle has to say.

Anyway, without further ado, here we go....

1. Will my book be published?
ANSWER: Maybe. It depends.

2. When will I get an agent?
ANSWER: When the time is right.

3. When will I get an offer?
ANSWER: When the time is right.

4. Is the book good enough yet? Should I send it off?
ANSWER: No.

5. How many times will I need to revise this book?
ANSWER: Over and over and over and over and over. Until it's ready.

6. Will I go insane before I finish this book/land an agent/get an offer? Will all my hair be gone, because I ripped it out by the roots? Will I be old, and gray, and peering at the screen through massive grocery-store-bought magnifying glasses?
ANSWER: BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA.




{looks at magic chest. looks at all of you. looks at magic chest again.}


{HACKS MAGIC CHEST TO BITS WITH HANDY AXE}

Whew. Sorry about that. I'll keep looking.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Talk to Writers

So you're a writer. Not a dabbler, but a "serious" writer—your butt has spent many many many hours in that chair, you have at least one book finished (or damn close), and you're serious about this whole getting-published craziness.

God help you.

Wait, that wasn't where I was going with this.

So you're a writer, and you're headed off to a writer's conference, or a writer's lunch, or some other social function where writers are meant to talk to people who exist outside their own brains. And being a writer and therefore maybe not the best at social events, you panic. "What do I have in common with all these other random writer people? What will we talk about?"

Friends, I am here to help.

I have discovered, through my own vast experience in goofing off research, at least five topics that writers can ALWAYS talk about. A pack of writers could be stuck together on an island for—oh, a long time—and still be able to chatter crazily, if you kept to only these topics.

Ready?

1. Food
More than books, writing, family, anything, food is the king of writer talk. I'm not sure if it's because we sit alone so much, or we're using powerful imagination muscles that require constant nutrition, but writers are obsessed with food. I haven't met one yet, man or woman, who isn't. So if you're meeting over lunch, yay! There is food. Discuss.

2. POV
POV is one of the great writer secrets. You don't even know what it IS until you accept that you are a writer (unless you were really paying attention in english class, but most of you were probably secretly writing stories anyway). Then you have to figure out what group you belong to. 3rd person? 3rd person omniscient? 1st person? 1st person present? (Courtney, this one's for you. *snort*) Or are you bold enough to {gasp} MIX? Or {further gasp} SWITCH?

3. Revision Hell
It is hell. You'd think that would be 'nuff said, but no. Plunk two writers down together (especially those with a toe or a whole foot in the pub process), bring up the "R" word, and you'll be sobbing on each other's shoulders within an hour. Guaranteed bonding.

4. Waiting
Worse than the "R" word. I'm not waiting for anything right now, so I can say this without a hint of whine in my voice: waiting is THE worst part of this whole thing. Especially for those of us with a patience deficit. The good news: you're not alone. Every single person in that room has had to wait, and has HATED EVERY MINUTE and UNDERSTANDS.

5. Ways of wasting time procrastinating preparing yourself to write.
Agents and editors, cover your ears for this one. Okay, ready?
Writers waste time when we should be writing.
It's not just you, with the Spider Solitaire habit and the secret reality-TV watching and the manic cleaning of toilets or baking or laundry that must be done. We all do this. It makes every one of us feel guilty sometimes, but we do it anyway. I think it might be part of the process or something. Anyway, just bring up reality TV or mention casually that you're looking for a new online game, and watch the conversation spark.

You'll note that "pets" and "kids" aren't included on this list, because though they often do come up, I wouldn't recommend them. Usually half the group has one and half the other, or half both and half none, and those in the non-halves hate these topics. Stick to the top 5, and you'll be safe.

But I'm sure I'm missing some. Fellow writers? What necessary author-topics have I forgotten?

Addendum: I knew I'd forget something! A writer friend reminded me of another oft-used (and necessary) topic: "getting beaten around the head by the publishing process". Heck, yeah. I didn't even mention the other nasty "R" word: Rejection. (bleah)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And then I...

Update: over the weekend, I:

slept in, scrambled to get family ready for fishing trip, HAD 8 HOURS TO MYSELF, researched and wrote a paper for class, did thesis work, caught up on ANTM and Project Runway and TopDesign (gack I am getting addicted), IM'd with friends, saw Romeo and Juliet staged with 4 actors in a 1970s set (fab!), slept in again, went swimming, went grocery shopping, played with Child, watched football with hubby, ate and slept again.

What a marvelous weekend.

Yesterday I had to get all caught up on school/work stuff, and dive back into Jenna-land.

That's right! I'm in Jenna-land again! It's a good thing I love Jenna-land, honestly. Sometimes I have a feeling I shall spend half of the rest of my life there.

Sadly, all this work-thesis-Jenna-family stuff has sucked my brain dry, hence the lack of interesting on-topic blog posts of late.

I'll try to round one up from the recesses this week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sally as a Nun

After a lovely lunch of fried food, I'm feeling ready to...sit like a slug.

But at least I can do a brief blog post.

Last night we saw *Sally Struthers* LIVE in Nunsense. I expected it, honestly, to be awful. I expected it to be something I would sit through in disbelief and secretly mock, because it was SO bad.

I laughed my ass off.

Sally herself was really funny, though one of the other nuns (Sister Amnesia) stole the show. Her delivery was brilliant. The show's loaded with slapstick, yes, but also is a good balance of singing, dancing, and stand-up. From nuns.

Saturday, for something different: Romeo and Juliet. Don't know if I'll have quite the same reaction!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finally!

YES!

Sunday was a big day in our household.

Child received her first-ever allowance. I've been meaning to do that for...oh, a year now, but hadn't quite gotten organized enough to do it. You know, chore list (negotiated, with style and format negotiated), allowance amount, schedule, all that type-A stuff. But she did her chores excitedly for a week, so she gets her scheduled $3.

What I wasn't expecting was her reaction, when I handed her three dollar bills from my wallet. She looked at the money, and got quiet.

"You need to make sure we have enough," she said.

I frowned, not understanding, and she looked up at me, big-eyed, serious. "The money that you and Daddy and I share, for all of us. You need to make sure we still have enough if you give me this."

Wow.

Unselfish, thoughtful, worrying. Probably soaking up all this pervasive talk about a bad economy and money worries. This one worry, at least, I could fix. I hugged her hard, and told her we had enough, that we'd be fine.

I'm so lucky (a) that I can say that without question and (b) that I have a kid who would think about it, who would be willing to give it back if she needed to.

A little later that day, she lost her first tooth. There was great excitement, and bouncing, and showing of The Gap. The tooth was tucked in a special pillow for the tooth fairy, and the bounteous tooth fairy brought SIX gold dollar coins, one for each year of how old she is. (I know, I got a quarter too. It's inflation. We only have one kid. I couldn't help it.)

The next morning, she tried to give me three of those dollars. "Because," she said, "I have plenty."

I didn't take them. But Hubby and I decided last night that we'd talk to her about it--and if she wants to, she can take part of that first stash and give to others who don't have plenty right now. We do, when we can, and it's never too early to start.

I figure we have a choice. Squelch that natural generosity, and say "No, spend it all. You never have enough!" Or say "Yes, you're right. You do have plenty. Why NOT share? Let's figure out how we can share."

On a totally different note, I nearly peed my pants laughing at this cat video on Courtney Summer's site. Check out the evil stalker cat!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Apparently it's a linkage Monday...

Partly because I have that floaty-head coming-down-with-a-cold feeling, and I can't manage to post my own stuff. Mostly because the Internet Wisdom is awesome today.

Read Jackson Pearce's post on the friends every writer needs.

Read this!

Later, if I can, I want to post about Child, and new lack of tooth. In the meantime, go read Jennifer Lynn Barnes' post. The woman speaks the truth. (I don't even know her, but I read the whole post and nodded all the way through! YES!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The WINNER

is latteya!!

latteya, please contact me at susan dot adrian @yahoo.com to choose your prizes!!

Congratulations!

I might do another of these soon. I love sharing book love. Thanks so much everyone for sharing your book picks with me.
Half an hour to enter the contest!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

BOOK LOVE! And giveaway.

It's time for some Book Love, Part 2: the more interesting part, wherein I give away free books.

Ready? Sure ya are.

RULES: Post a comment to this entry, listing one book you've read in the past month (and hopefully liked) and one book you're looking forward to reading. Links and friend/self book pimping entirely allowed. Contest will be open until 9 AM Mountain time Thursday. (Sadly, no entries outside the U.S. and Canada this time--the last winner was from Australia, and shipping cost more than the books!) I'll throw the names of posters in a random generator (because I'm lazy that way) and pick one lucky winner. Said winner will get to CHOOSE TWO BOOKS from the following selection:































Okay, NOW are ya ready? GO!!!!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's not that I don't love you...

It's just that I've been swamped. Any non-classwork, non-work work, non-family time has been spent collapsed on the sofa. Or twittering. Or watching last week's ANTM debut. I'm not even writing! This last leaves me feeling oddly empty, but I'm working on refilling that well and getting other stuff done for now.

Anyway, I thought it was time for a little book love. This one comes in two parts. Today, I talk about the books I've read over the last little while, every one of which I loved in different ways. So no worries about negative reviews here! Tomorrow, I'm going to have a giveaway and give y'all a choice of some of said books, or maybe a couple others.

Books I've Read this Summer:

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr: Yeah, baby. I love Melissa, and I love her worlds. This one was quite a bit darker than Wicked Lovely, but a very, very smart, suck-you-in book.

13 Little Blue Envelopes
by Maureen Johnson: I loved her blog posts and videos, so I had to check out one of her books. I'll read more. It was pure fun. A quick read, but entertaining, with a likeable MC.

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead: Well done. Original take on the whole vampire mythology, and I really identified with the somewhat out-of-control MC. Am intrigued.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: I admit it. I wish I wrote this book.

Now I have to go stock up on more books, because I know so many people who have great books coming out! (Bill Cameron, Maggie Stiefvater, Courtney Summers, Linda Gerber, and A.S. King, I'm looking at you.)

Tomorrow: giveaway. Check back!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

How I Spent my Vacation

I've been gone for pretty much a full week. The three of us headed off for our bi-annual vacation to our old haunt, San Diego. Awesome. Soul-filling.

Vacation by the numbers (because I'm secretly a stats geek, even though I hate arithmetic):

  • Hours spent at major theme parks: 15 (we opened and closed TWO!)
  • Rollercoaster rides, different coasters: 17
  • Buckets of seawater wrung from clothes, after "visiting" Shamu: 4
  • Live performances seen: 4
  • Number of times in front row for said performances: 4
  • Pairs of new shoes purchased: 6
  • Favorite restaurants visited: 7
  • Favorite places visited: tons
Beyond the numbers, favorite moments:
  • At the San Diego Symphony concert, watching Child enjoy the heck out of the Swan Lake piece, tapping her toes and bobbing her head.
  • Same concert, Child in my lap, watching fireworks go off over the bay and jumping at cannon blasts, to the 1812 overture.
  • Losing ourselves in the big tank at the Stephen Birch aquarium. We go there every time.
  • Touring the USS Midway, all of us listening avidly to info about the planes/ship.
  • Seeing The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Old Globe, in the front row, and having Falstaff plop himself 2 seats away from me, briefly, during the show. Walking out by myself and seeing the Balboa Park clock tower lit blue-green against the sky.
  • Swimming in the hotel pool together.
  • Child's glee at telling us all the riddles in her new riddle book.
  • Hanging out with Hubby and Child, without distractions, for almost a week.
Aaaaahhh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Creature Comforts USA - Art

I laughed all the way through. Perfect!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hello...

Apologies for not-so-much posting.

I am:

1) working on thesis, which was by far the loudest voice in my head.
2) prepping for Masters classes, which start up again TODAY at 3:00. Ugh.
3) prepping Child for starting 1st grade tomorrow!!
4) watching ANTM cycle 9 on YouTube, because I am a complete and total addict.
5) prepping for next trip to San Diego, coming up soon!
6) eating way too many sweets
7) Twittering about all of these.

All of the above are true simultaenously.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Proof of Insanity

A snapshot of my brain, or What It's Like to Be a Crazy Person Writer:

Me: Aaaah, my revisions are turned in. Time to relax. Take a breather. Maybe zone out for a while. Read good books, watch some movies...

MELODY (popping up in my face): Yay! My turn! My turn! Okay, listen. I've been thinking a lot while you were gone. I've got some really great ideas for this book. You'll love 'em, honest. Okay, so you're going to have to totally scrap that first part, and my backstory, and that major portion of the plot and all, but TRUST ME! It will be BETTER! Totally, completely different, but better. Let's get to work! C'mon!

GG (sitting in corner, muttering): Nobody loves ME. I don't see why you're not rewriting ME. But oh no, go for the new and shiny after spending a whole month on JENNA. That's okay. Don't mind me. I'm just the middle child, sitting here alone. In the dark.

THESIS: OMG YOU BETTER WORK ON ME RIGHT NOW! I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR A YEAR! I AM ALMOST DUE AND YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING! NOW NOW NOW!

Me: Shut up! All of you!! I mean it! No, I don't really mean it. But for a second? Please?

JENNA (emailing me from agent's desk): I miss you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And finally...

Revisions turned in.

*THUD*

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That's better.

A much better horoscope today:

You're going to shine today, and everyone will be unanimous in their praise of you. Don't start blushing when people keep going on and on about how smart and helpful you are -- just soak it in! This is the start of a very positive phase for you and your people.

Yeah, baby. Me AND my people. And since if you're reading this blog you're one of "my people", it's a positive phase for you too! Go us!

Actually it IS a very positive phase around these parts just now. I'm well on track to finish my revisions on deadline, which is Friday. Work is just the right amount of busy to be fun. I...er...kind of stopped the thesis work again while I was crunching on deadline, but I WILL pick that up again next week. At least I've made some good progress.

And we've been having some fun. We drove to Idaho this weekend for a friend's wedding, and it was absolutely gorgeous. I've only driven through a corner of Idaho before, so I had no idea of the spectacularness (yes, that is a word now. My word.). And the wedding was perfect and full of happy tears.

And...if I'm a good girl and get my revisions in...we get to go to Yellowstone this weekend. Yay!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A big fat pshaw to you, sirs

This line was in my horoscope today:

Daydreaming about your future is a lot like playing pretend -- lots of fun, but not very appropriate for grownups.


I'd find it hard to disagree more. Daydreaming about the future is critical: if I didn't have the daydream of a book contract, keeping my head down every day working on revisions might seem pointless.

And who the heck deemed playing pretend as "not appropriate for grownups"? Pshaw.

I do get the point it's trying to make: focus on today instead of tomorrow. Okay. But I'd rather like to keep focusing on both, thanks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

{HUGS}

It's pretty common in online circles to give each other {HUGS}. (Or (HUGS) or [HUGS] or even ((((HUGS))))--you get the idea. When a friend or acquaintance is depressed, lost someone, is sick, or is just having a hard day, {HUGS} are sent and returned.

It's not the same thing, we know that. Supposedly real-body hugging actually increases the body's endorphins, a chemical reaction that can give us mild euphoria.

I like me a little mild euphoria.

But it's the best we can do without being anywhere near our friends. My "closest" friends are scattered over two countries. {HUGS} convey that we wish we could hug each other, give each other comfort and support, and it does help.

I'm incredibly lucky at this point in my life that I also get lots of real-life hugs. A six-year-old daughter is the tops in hugging. Plus husband, family...I get hugged every day.

It was not always so.

When I was 19, I set off for a year of study abroad in southern England (University of Sussex, woo-hoo!). I was part of an organized program, so I was taken care of. I lived with other students from the U.S., from England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, the Seychelles, Portugal, everywhere. I had people I hung out with. I had fun.

I was also, simultaenously, desperately homesick and lonely. By December Christmas was coming and I knew that (a) I didn't have anywhere to go--the dorms closed down, and all my friends already had plans; and (b) I still wasn't going to see my family for at least 4 months, and I wouldn't be home for 6 months. One of the program directors offered to host the Christmas holidays at his house in London for whichever Study Abroad students wanted to come.

I didn't know what else to do, so I went. I think eight of us went, all studying at different schools across the U.K., guys and girls mixed. None of us knew each other. We'd only met the director once, in our whirlwind entry in September. We were going to stay at his little London apartment for a week, bunking in the two beds and the floor in rotation, doing whatever we decided to do.

It was an amazing Christmas. For whatever reason--enforced company, similarities, chemistry--we all bonded straight off. We had long, wine-fueled talks into the night. We laughed our asses off trying to cobble together a Christmas meal in a minuscule, unfamiliar kitchen with recipes that measured in metric. We sang Christmas carols, comparing American and English versions. We walked together, through lightly falling snow, to midnight Christmas mass in St. Paul's Cathedral.

And I realized, on that Christmas Eve, after hugging every one of them, that I hadn't had a hug since I left my parents. That I NEEDED hugs. That maybe part of my loneliness was that lack of touch.

So I was touched by this guy. Yeah, maybe it could be a little creepy. But I think he just realized that some people don't have hugs in their lives, bone-crushing squeezy real hugs. And everybody needs one, now and again.

{HUG}

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stuff

I keep hoping to have a gap-toothed picture to share with you--Child's first loose tooth is sooooo loose it's gotta be soon, but it's still hanging in. Watch this space (for an impending space) {g}.

I seem to have cursed myself by saying yesterday that the next part of revisions would be easier. I was absolutely positively WRONG. I battled with myself yesterday over every word, questioning every flippin' comma, and I'm not sure I made anything better. And I only plowed through 8 pages, which I have to go over again today anyway. *grumble*

Kids, don't listen if anybody ever tells you ANY of this job is easy. *bangs head quietly*

I also want to do a quick YAY shoutout to my girls, who are all pounding away on their keyboards this summer, staying focused, and kicking ass. Vic, Rosie, Linda, Jule, karen, Pam, Sara, Deb, Kathy, Kreek.... You guys keep me sane, and are my inspiration all.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh, I forgot how much I love this song.

http://www.pandora.com/music/song/toad+wet+sprocket/walk+on+ocean

Fleeting thoughts (thank goodness)

Status:
Step 1 of Major Revision: Check.
On to Step 2, much less stressful.

Meanwhile, random thoughts I had while attending a jazz concert (trumpet/piano duo) yesterday:

--Is it bad to fantasize about chopping the head off the Amazonian sitting in front of me, so I can see? Her neck level would be just about right.

--(craning around Amazonian) Wow, it's crazy what the pianist is doing with his hands when you can see them.

--These guys are good.

--I despise people who get all agro on other people. Amazonian actually got visibly angry at (a) the slight pump of someone's oxygen machine (head-turning, "what is that noise?") and (b) the 80+ old man humming along happily to himself under his breath. She SHUSHED him. I think if you're 80+ and you've made it to a concert, especially in a natty suit, you should be allowed to happily hum quietly to yourself, thank you. It wasn't bothering anyone else. Reasons to chop her head off: 2.

--Okay, they're good, but I do wish every once in a while they would play the actual melody. Just, you know, once through. I think perhaps I am not a true jazz person.

--Ooooh, there's a nice melody...no, gone now. I shall just sing in my head until they get back to it.

--My child is the youngest one here by FAR, and is extremely well-behaved. Yay.

--Hmm, perhaps it's actually healthier for Amazonian, who expresses her annoyance to everyone, than me, who seethes silently at her. Something to think about. I wish I was one of those people who don't even notice these things.

--*singing in head*

Usually I think of plot points, or daydream about my characters, during these concerts. Yesterday I was a little burnt out on all that, so this is what I got. :)

Also, last night I had a dream that George Balanchine (yes, I know he's dead) created a ballet just for me, all on skateboards. Hmmm.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Not really a post.

Still writing. Still an achingly dull and empty blog, for now.

I apologize.

In the meantime, Maureen is having adventures,

Gary is making very funny lists of what not to do in murder mysteries,

and Rose is having yummy drinks.

I did get to see an exhibit this weekend wherein I saw the originals of: the Wicked Witch's hat from the Wizard of Oz, George Clooney's Batman costume, Indy's leather jacket and whip, Darth Vader's cape and helmet (I looked into his eyes and got a little chill), and a whole mess of other Star Wars and Star Trek stuff. Very coolio.

Break over...later, gators.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Adventure! Not.

1:30 AM, this morning

I wake with that middle-of-the-night something-is-wrong alarm, my heart thrumming.

Me (whisper): "If you turned off the sprinklers, why do I hear something running?"
Hubby (sleepy whisper back): "I was just going to ask you that..."

I push out of bed, pad over to the sprinkler control, flip on the horrible blinding light. It is set to OFF. Yet water is clearly running, loud, under my feet. This is Bad. I inform hubby of Badness. He comes out rubbing his eyes and turns the sprinkler on...it makes nasty glugging broken noises...and then off. Still water running.

Me (knowing this is probably a recurrence of the Sprinkler Breakage we had the first week we moved in, but not wanting to admit it): "Do you think we need to go outside and check?"

Hubby: "Sounds like recurrence of Sprinkler Breakage. We'd better."

We fumble around for flashlights and appropriate clothing for outside at...now 1:40 AM. We can hear the water sploshing from around the house...it's pouring up from the sprinkler main, flooding down into our crawlspace. Hubby opens the crawlspace door, and I stare down into it. I am the only one who can fit in there. To fit in there I must contort my body like a gymnast between a little narrow dirty usually spider-infested opening, in the dark, this time landing in I'm-not-sure-how-deep water. But I have to go in there to turn the sprinkler main off. I look at my sandals.

Hubby: "You'd better take those off."

Me: *sigh*

I take them off. I maneuver myself barefoot into the obscenely small opening, getting my butt all wet. I feel for the water depth with my feet--it's mid-calf. And COLD. But it's going to get deeper the longer I wait.

I jump in and try not to shriek. It's not just cold. Our water comes from snowmelt--it's like jumping into a snowbank. Calf deep, barefoot. In the middle of the night.

I slosh over and turn the lever, and thankfully the water stops. Then I just have to pry myself out--which is harder, somehow; I actually got stuck for a minute--and traipse back to the house, carrying my sandals, wet and muddy.

It took half an hour before my legs were warm.

2:15 AM

Me (wide awake in bed, staring at the ceiling): "Well, that was interesting."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New bookage!

NEWSFLASH: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance is out on the shelves, both virtual and shelf-like.

Vicki Pettersson has a story in this anthology. I've read it, and it is phenomenal. You must read it.*

Go forth. I am back to the book.



*Because even though she has the twin annoying habits of being calm and reasonable in the face of my freakouts and being way too often Right, she is a damn good storyteller.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Random Thoughts from this weekend

--I. Love. This. Book. Love love love. Love this book. LOVE. This is me on paper.

--Insomnia SUCKS. I can't even write when I can't sleep. My brain is stuck on high spin cycle. And the next day (that would be today) my brain is stuck in Dull.

--Hubby is awarded extra super bonus points for taking Child to the bookstore for more than an hour so I could work.

--We are officially in "gorgeous weather" mode. Must enjoy it while it lasts.

--Fighter jets are very loud when they take off right in front of you.

--It's very cool to see your daughter perched up on top of a fighter jet. (not, you know, when it's flying)

--It's amazing to see your daughter perform in her first play. And make it through, and beam afterwards.

--Betsy and Tacy is still a good book.

--If the dream that I had this morning comes true someday, even close, I will be a happy camper. Well, not the vampire part. But the rest...yeah, baby.

That is all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ha ha ha ha ha

I am such a geek.

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1823766
Don't mind the absence of the person supposed to be posting on this blog. I'm just a little taken up with something else right now. In the meantime, I'll share one of my favorite recipes. Healthy, yummy, and perfect for summer.

From FoodFit.com:

Grilled Chicken with Oranges and Avocado
This recipe serves: 4

Preparation time : 20 minutes
Cooking time : 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the chicken:
1 cup low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons honey
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 4 to 6 oz. each

For the garnish:
1 avocado
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 small red onion, thinly sliced


Cooking Instructions
1. For the chicken: Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the mixture and coat evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes or over night.

2. Preheat the grill or broiler.

3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. (This protects against cross-contamination.) Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

4. Place the chicken on the grill or under the broiler and cook until the juices run clear, 6 to 8 minutes per side.(I usually do 10 per side)

5. In the meantime, peel, core and chop the avocado and toss it with the lime juice quickly so that it doesn't discolor. Add the oranges, onion and cilantro. Season with salt and serve on top of the chicken.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SCREEECH!

That's me, switching gears.

(awesome image borrowed from http://www.aims-nc.org/)

Hello again, Jenna. It's nice to see you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Confession

Dear Melody:

I cannot BELIEVE I just did that to you. Seriously. I don't know what happened, but it just...wow. It just took off there, didn't it? I'm still in shock myself, and I imagine you're probably kind of a little upset right now.

Ahem. Don't look at me like that. Your eyes are freaking me out.

I didn't mean for that to happen. Er...any of that. So you don't really need to...

Put down the longbow. Please. Yes, I realize I gave it to you in the first place. But I don't really think now is the right time to--

Hey. Stop that! No, I won't change it. I won't. It's good. Believe me, the readers* are going to like that part. Even if it is fairly awful...

HEY. That was uncalled for. Watch out, missy, or it's just going to get worse in the next chapter.

{ducking}

me

*This is assuming readers, yes, we are thinking positive.

Book Love

In my regular every-few-months surge of new-book love...

I'm finally reading Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, and yes, so far it is drawing me in as much as Wicked Lovely did. Unfortunately this is dangerous, as I was doing so well working head-down on MELODY last week. I was forced to leave IE at home lest I succumb and spend the whole lunch with my feet up on my desk, in Melissa's pretend world instead of my pretend world.

In addition to that, I had 3 gift cards to cash in. The one at Hastings was all for me. (and it was buy 3 teen titles get one free! Until the end of July!) I snagged:

  • Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. Even though I'm still not much of a vampire fan in general, this keeps getting rec'd by friends.
  • Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. Ever since I saw Maureen's video with Libba Bray I knew I had to read their books. Reading their blogs confirmed it. So I also got:
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I realize I am the last YA reader on the planet to pick up this one. I'm looking forward to it.
  • Enna Burning by Shannon Hale. Silly as it is, I first picked up Shannon Hale because I liked her website (back when I was working on mine. *cough*). I really loved Princess Academy. So this is next!
The Borders gift cards went to Child, who is discovering the first joys of reading chapter books on her own. I barely restrained myself from buying Noel Streatfield's books--they're just a little too long right now--but I did give in and bought Betsy-Tacy for her. I loved those books! I also got a couple in the Jewel Fairy series, which she is into all on her own, and Mary Margaret, Center Stage, which looks perfect for my little actress/dancer.

Book love, two generations.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wall-E and the not-lesson

Last evening Hubby and I took Child to see Wall-E.

I was a bit worried. When I'd seen the preview and read all the glowing reviews, my primary thought had been, "Wow, this may be the first Pixar movie I don't want to see."

See, I'm a contrarian, deep down. I hate to be manipulated, and I hate doing things that everybody wants me to do. So when I saw that Wall-E had such a strong "message" AND that everybody and their bastard stepchild wanted me to GO ALREADY, I didn't wanna.

But I've loved every other Pixar movie--they've never been schmaltzy or messagy--so I sucked it up and went. And yes, Virginia, I loved it. It was endearing, and a good story, and I went along for the ride. We all came out buoyed up by a sense that love will prevail. That YES, we COULD clean up the planet and make it a wonderful place, dang it!

And then an Old Gold cigarette pack landed at my feet.

Sitting in the car parked next to us were three girls in their late teens or early twenties, already with that hard look, eyebrows plucked and hair scraped back into rumpled, greasy ponytails. The one in the back was lighting a cigarette--clearly the last one from the pack she'd just tossed out the window--with a baby in a carseat sitting next to her. She looked at me, realized I'd seen her do that, and quickly looked away.

I was astounded. Hadn't they SEEN Wall-E? Didn't they know how trash would pile up if we all did that? Didn't she KNOW about the horribleness of second-hand smoke, especially to a baby? Did she not have a brain?

My six-year-old was with me, and she'd seen it too. I had to do something to reset the balance. But what should I do? Toss the pack back in the girl's window? Give her a tongue-lashing? Tell my child, loudly, how littering was wrong?

I did none of the above. I calmly walked around the pack, opened the door, and let Child into the backseat. Then I turned, stooped, picked up the empty pack, and took it with me.

I didn't look at the girl again, but I know she saw me, watched me take her trash away to put it where it belongs. I know my daughter saw me too. I figured that was better, if either of them thought about it, than rubbing her nose in it. It was a better lesson by example, without being lesson-ish.

And isn't that what Wall-E would have done?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Melody

Yay 20%!

I am so in the Early Stages of love-love-love with it.

If you're a writer, you must read this

Now. Go on.

http://libba-bray.livejournal.com/36896.html

My song

I am not posting much because I'm writing and it's going really well. This is the song I posted to my writing buds yesterday, because I really am that much of a geek:

Oh, I'm...

playing in the mountains of Moldavia,
Moldavia,
Moldavia,

Oh I'm playing in the mountains of Moldavia,
And I have got a plot.
And a man-god.

Woo-hoo!

*back to work*

Monday, July 14, 2008

Round-up

Another whirlwind weekend, this time soaking up music at the National Folk Festival right here in town. We listened to (and danced to) amazing bands of all genres, from blues to gospel to reggae. We ate food from vendor vans, perched on the grass. We stayed up incredibly late, and all slept in incredibly late. Aaaah.

We were out in the sun most of the weekend. Even with SPF 50 sunblock, I am far browner than my Norwegian/English genes meant me to be...but it's all good.

In writing news, I hit the first real story burst of MELODY, when it all comes flooding to me and I can't wait to get to the page. Of course I _couldn't_ get to the page this weekend, but the story was omnipresent in my head. I'm hoping to make it to 10,000 words today, and pile it on this week.

And in linkage, my writing bud Kelly Gay is giving an interview here. Comment, and you can win chocolate! Go! Shoo!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coolio word clouds

I shamelessly stole this post from Jo.

Here's a word cloud, from Wordle, of this blog.


I love that family, time, writing, and YES are huge.

Here's one of Jenna:
Joe and Neil...yay! Back, time, know, right, one, all good. Just, said, and like...hmmm.

One of GG:I do tend toward like and just, eh? I knew that, though. back, DR, Mom, Tony...and I finally found ghost in there too.

And finally, one of Melody, which is just starting so it will change a lot. That's why I chose the template that looks all scattered and jumbled up.

Hey, at least I'm keeping with just and like, though. :)

Friday Linkage of Awesomeness

YES, Maureen Johnson! YES YES YES! There are no muses! It is WORK! I particularly adore this bit about one of your approaches to writing stalls, which I relate to more than I want to admit:

- Sending long, rambling notes to friends, saying how I have failed completely (again) and am going die of writing mange (again) and how my brain is stalled never to restart (again). This is a pleasant time-waster. Also, my friends LOVE it!
I am going out to buy a book of yours at lunch. Also love the Drunk History video muchly.

And YES Justine! Thank you for pointing me to Maureen's Death to Muses blog post, and for your own comments on said death.
Trouble is all the muse talk makes it sound like ideas and inspiration are the most important part of writing, which, sadly, is rubbish.
You are both in my Google Reader now.

And this weekend, Butte is hosting the National Folk Festival, a 3-day extravaganza of music, dancing, and booths selling ethnic food we have not seen in years. Or EVER, here. Butte is the Happening place, you see. It is the hot spot of the nation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An award, woo-hoo!


So um...cool!

Julianne at Writing the Renaissance (my submission buddy) has awarded me an Excellent Blog award! I hadn't heard of this before, but it seems to be an organic award bloggers give to each other, in recognition of blogs they like. I'm honored, Julianne, thank you!

The second part of the deal is to choose 10 blogs that I enjoy regularly to award in turn. Not difficult at all--there are so many! Here are my ten, in no particular order:

1. Janet Reid. http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/ I'd hang out there daily even if she wasn't my agent. Wait, I DID hang out there daily before...

2. A Novel Woman http://anovelwoman.blogspot.com/ For breathtaking pictures and funny stories.

3. Motherhood is Not for Wimps http://damomma.com/ The best Mom/Life blog I've run across. I've been reading Elizabeth's posts for years!

4. Jackson Pearce http://watchmebe.livejournal.com/ For the vlogs especially!

5. Melissa Marr http://melissa-writing.livejournal.com/ I love Melissa's books, and her blog gives a wonderful glimpse of a professional writer's life.

6. Jo Bourne http://jobourne.blogspot.com/ For the technical writing tips particularly...Jo rocks.

7. kc dyer http://kcdyer.blogspot.com/, who blogs about her incredibly busy life writing, promoting, AND running the Surrey conference.

8. Simply Elise http://www.elise.com/recipes/ My favorite cooking blog EVER. Okay, the only cooking blog I read.

9. Diana Peterfreund http://www.dianapeterfreund.com/blog/ I've been following Diana's publishing adventures for a long time now.

10. Lottery Girl http://lotterygirl.blogspot.com/ She hasn't been out there a long time, but what she does have kicks ass. :)

Enjoy!