Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nose, meet grindstone

That's a grindstone. And that's me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Ever reached the frustration point and said something mean, then wished you could take it back?

I have.

Ever misjudged speed and cut someone off?

I have.

Ever had a thought pop into your brain, and you say it--then realize how STUPID that was to say? How it might even have really bad consequences, just because you let it out into the air?

I have.

Ever get impatient with somebody taking forever, then find out there was a damn good reason for it?

I have. That one happens too often.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone (as far as I can tell) loses their temper, says stupid things, DOES stupid things, gets wrapped up in their own world and loses sight of how their words, their actions, affect people around them.

What I find interesting is when people get trapped in those mistakes.

We just saw a GREAT movie, an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's book The Painted Veil. I won't reveal spoilers, but a major focus of the plot is one character's refusal to allow the other to make up for a mistake. It's like he boxes her in that moment--where she'd erred--and will never let her get past it.

Something similar happens in Rachel Getting Married. Kym (played by Anne Hathaway) made a horrible mistake, yes. Horrible. And in a series of mistakes. But to the people it affected, she can never get past that point, that one decision failure--because of the consequences. And the movie is (partly) about both she and her family TRYING to get past that point.

I find this fascinating in writing too, of course. Characters are always going to make mistakes, little mistakes of temper or lack of awareness. And isn't it intriguing to follow the consequences of those mistakes? To explore what happens when something awful happens because of your character's mistake--or the relief when she realizes something awful MIGHT have happened, but didn't. That time.

Mistakes make us grow, hopefully. They also reveal us as real, as frail. They reveal your characters in ways that will make them real to readers--and readers will more easily identify with people like them. People with tempers and impatience and stupid-mouth. I think it's important to be aware of that dimension in your books, to play with it. Follow the mistakes, and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Research Weirdnesses

I just ordered a pile of books through interlibrary loan yesterday for the NEW SHINY book I get to work on after I finish revisions. Like most writers, I'm kind of a research nerd--in small doses, at least. I think it's fun to explore new topics, find weird little factoids and whole areas that other people are fiercely devoted to that were completely unknown to me.

So today I thought we could share some of the odder topics we've researched in the course of writing. Here are some of mine, many of which are for books that will never see the light of day or scenes that were cut. I'm glad I learned about them anyway!
  • Late 14th century England. I have PILES of books about different aspects: politics, clothes, food, medicine, roads, words, names, uses of magic...this is one of the biggest sections of my bookshelf.
  • Cathedral building, stonemasonry.
  • Life in a monastery.
  • Politics and art in 15th century Venice. (That one didn't last long--I discovered fast that I wasn't interested enough in it to carry me through a whole book.)
  • Hospitals. MRI machines. Prescription medicines and side effects. IVs and feeding tubes.
  • Ghosts. Ghost-hunting, and all the equipment used for that.
  • Photography.
  • The Kumeyaay tribe, language and culture.
  • Theatre exercises.
  • Romanian gods and goddessses.
Fun, huh? Well, it is to ME! Now it's your turn. What kind of research have you found yourself doing? What weird worlds have you explored?

Monday, May 18, 2009


Another fabulous weekend, if not as eventful as last week. Camping, picnicking (how odd that word looks), fishing, swimming, eating out, ice-cream slurping, gold panning...

These are the animals we saw wandering around over the course of the weekend:

Cows and horses (duh--it's Montana)
Prong-horned antelope
White-tailed deer
An eagle
An osprey
A muskrat
A ram, with big curved horns
Red-winged blackbirds
Rainbow trout
Cutthroat trout

And this morning, in our yard, a wild bunny. Child and I got to spy on him for a while as he chewed our grass. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Love Day Friday

This should be a fun weekend.

It's Child's school campout. Now, hubby and I don't actually CAMP, per se. Like sleeping in a tent and all...no. That is just uncomfortable. So Child will be staying in her friend's family's camper tonight, and we will be fishing and staying in a hotel somewhat nearby--then meeting them in the morning for the fun family day of gold panning and tours and picnicking and such.

My kinda camping, baby.

In other news, have my more-revision letter, so I'm working on that. Fortunately the LAST revisions are good--now I just have to tweak to match them! It's the butterfly wings effect: every change has more and more consequences. For the BETTAH.

Also, it's Friday, and I feel like having a LOVE FRIDAY. This one is fairly general: list at LEAST ONE thing that is somehow involved in the publishing world that you love. A book you're reading or have read, an author, an editor, an agent, a blog...anything.

I'll do (at least) one of each:

I love:

BOOK: Death by Bikini, by Linda Gerber. Just finished it yesterday. Now on to the next ones, Death by Latte and Death by Denim (which was released yesterday!)

AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson, who makes me laugh on twitter every day, and on her blog. Also Melissa Marr, who inspires me with her generous, honest, serene approach to this crazy world.

AGENT: Duh, Janet Reid The Fabulous Sparkly Shark for more reasons than I can say! Also Amy Tipton and Colleen Lindsay, fellow fabulous FinePrinters.

EDITOR: My dear Moonie. Also, the just-discovered-this morning blog of Molly O'Neill, which I've already added to my Reader.

BLOG: Other than those above, my favorites are Cake Wrecks, Motherhood Is not for Wimps, and The YA YA YAs.

What are your favorites? Please share the love!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

HA! (or...and the shower works again)

Okay, I haven't figured it all out by ANY means. But I think I've got a handle on how to start now. :)

These revelations always happen in the shower...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Deep Thought (49)

In my recent 'blogging' method of expressing emotion with random internet-found pictures (thank my profs last term for making me do all those Powerpoints), this is me today:

(this fabulous pic is from Gutter on Flickr)

It is to be hoped that all that thinking will come up with something.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grad pics...

Just got these from my Mom. Hee! There I am, doing mah thing!

That's me looking at the camera!

Clearly I knew where my family was. :)

(and yes, I am kind of a camera hog. A little. Ballet, and theatre, and all that. Why do you ask?)

Look, look! The HOOD! The bat sleeves of my gown! The big-ass GRIN!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Now THAT was a weekend!

Wow. I won't have a weekend like that again soon.

I graduated *officially* with my Master's degree on Saturday...and in spite of dire weather reports rightupuntilthetime, we managed to have it outdoors and even have some sun. And let me tell ya, it was FUN to walk across that field. A kazillion people I know were there to hug and congratulate me and shake my hand (this is what happens when you work on campus), and I felt SUCH a bubble of accomplishment. Wahoo. Today I feel zen-like in my calm--which, believe me, is rare. Almost unheard of. (plus I got ice cream cake and roses and cards and dinner and jewelry, yay, but those were just bonuses)

And then Sunday was Mother's Day! All I'd asked for was to sleep in, and I got an extra hour. Then I got breakfast brought to me (peanut-butter english muffin, yum), with a beautiful card made by Child. Then we all got ready and went fishing together for a few hours, part of which we all fished and part Hubby fished while Child read her book aloud to me, perched on my lap on a big sunny rock. Aaaahh. We headed home and went to my mom's house, where much sharing-of-presents was had. More handmade beautiful gifts from Child made my day. And we rounded up with hubby making dinner...and me pulling Child's loose tooth!

And then I totally ALMOST blew it and messed up the tooth-fairy thing, because I fell asleep and forgot last night. (Bad Mommy) Thank god I remembered first thing this morning and made the switcheroo before she woke up. WHEW, because she was *so* excited about her 3 gold coins. She squealed (with her beautiful gappy smile) and ran off to show the coins to her daddy straightaway, while I did a little thankful prayer.

And yeah...I really don't think you can get better than that, do you?

*beaming still*

Thursday, May 07, 2009


This is me, after one lovely phone call:

And this:
And also, at last, this:

Just until next week...but it'll do, friends. It'll do.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


This is my desktop picture today (thank you, Webshots):

Lovely, isn't it? At first I just looked at it and sighed a happy sigh and said "Pretty." And sometimes, that's enough.

But I've been thinking a lot about signs and symbolism and meanings lately, and today while I was staring at it (thinking about something else), I realized why I like it so much. Why I chose that particular picture from all the kazillion more obvious "spring" flower pictures.

It's the perfect image for the stage I'm sitting in right now: PROMISE.
  • I'm not quite graduated yet, but I can see it. (Saturday!)
  • It's not really spring here in Montana yet, but I can feel it coming. The grass is greening up. The first leaves of my daffodils are popping through the snow.
  • I don't have a contract yet--an editor to call my own--but I still hope for it. I read my book and feel the possibility there, tantalizing me, just out of reach. But possible.
The flower isn't facing us, the full force of its beauty head-on. We sense that the beauty is there, but around the corner. One more step and we'll see it. In the meantime we have the gorgeous symmetry of the back: less obvious, but still worth appreciating. Worth acknowledging before we move on.

It's the season of promises, the whisper of hopes rising. Not just for me, but for everyone.

Do you hear it?

One more step, and we're there.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Gimme the good news first

Today is a good news/bad news kind of day. Usually I tend to focus just on the good news side, but I've got to admit it's pretty much balanced right now.

Of course those who've read JENNA know I'm all about the balance, so that's cool.

So are you ready? Here goes:

    GOOD NEWS: I sent my revisions back yesterday! WooHOO! They're the most extensive revisions I think I've ever done, and baby, I'm getting to be an expert. :)

    BAD NEWS: The *extensive* part leaves a big crack for the Doubt Monster to creep in, nasty evil thing.

    GOOD NEWS: I am strong, and I have strong friends who stand with me. We're kicking the Doubt Monster's hairy ass.

    GOOD NEWS: My thesis is done. I'm ALMOST done with classwork. I have 1 project left to finish.

    I have 1 project left to finish. (but really, this isn't too bad)

    GOOD NEWS: I'm going to graduate a week from tomorrow!

    BAD NEWS: The weather is predicted to be crap, and for the first time in many years they're going to move it inside. Into our tiny little gym, which will only hold the graduates themselves. So nobody can actually *come* to the graduation. Sux.

    BAD NEWS: I royally tweaked my back this morning, ROLLING OVER. Owowowowow.

    GOOD NEWS: Yeah, I can't really think of a good side of back pain. I have ibuprofen and Aspercreme?


    GOOD NEWS: Work is providing free DONUTS this morning!

    BAD NEWS: No bad news about that!!