31 October 2006

Eeeeeeeeeeee!

Less than 4 hours til NaNo officially starts in my time zone!!! I'm so excited, I can't stand it!!!

30 October 2006

Daylight Saving Crap

I just have to say this to get it out of my system and then I'll shut up about it:

I fucking hate the whole daylight savings thing!!

I just wish they'd leave it one way or the other, because the "Big Switcheroo" always messes with me. It's like having fucking jet lag without having gotten to go anywhere.

Bah! Humbug!

OK. I feel better now.

29 October 2006

When Plot Bunnies Attack

I was going to post my NaNo plot summary, such as it is, but ended up posting this Plot Summary Metamorphosis on a NaNo forum this morning and thought it did a better job:

I started out with a Nice Young (Viking) Girl, who gets transported to another world, meets a Nice Young Boy and has a bunch of Adventures in the process of trying to find her Dad.

Enter My Muse (Dorothy).

Now the Nice Young Girl has a Twin Brother who follows her and gets abducted by the Evil Empire, a Radical Religious Sect is bent on dismantling the Nice Young Girl's brain, a bunch of Bad Guys in Kilts are bent on dismantling the rest of her, a Random Malevolent Creature is bent on dismantling Everyone Else and a Herd of Mythological Beasts are wandering around and have not yet adequately explained their presence...


Yeah. That's about how it goes for me.

FFFF99

OK, I'm experimenting with colors here, trying to make El Blogo easier to read. Didn't like the purple, wasn't an improvement, I don't think.

This is some form of yellow whose hex code is FFFF99.

Thoughts?

24 October 2006

NaNo Survival Stratagems

As stated in a previous post, time is of the essence for this November’s NaNo adventure. That is, I will have very little of it.

With that in mind, I am collecting methods of conserving time by being more efficient with what I’ve got so I can have enough to pound out those 1,667 words every day. (Other suggestions would be most welcome.)


And My Muse Will Have the Merlot

1. Caffeine. I drink lattes, since straight-up coffee messes too much with my stomach. Lattes take time to prepare – time I’m not willing to give up. Therefore, I plan to make a Small Vat of Espresso on a Sunday or whatever and keep it in the fridge. Then, when I wake up at 4AM and decide to get some writing done (instead of some sleeping), I can quickly and quietly (latte preparation is also rather noisy) pop a cuppa in the microwave and be on my way.

2. Supper. Ideally, I would have been preparing and freezing stuff for most of October. Unfortunately, my freezer is still stuffed with last year’s deer meat. I’m thinking instead that I’m going to stock up on crockpot items. I have a great recipe that my mom gave me. Actually, I’m sure we could think of something to with some of that venison. Which would make some room in the freezer. Which means mac ‘n’ cheese, meatloaf, meatballs, mole enchiladas here we come!!

3. Snacks. I can’t have dairy, since it doesn’t sit well with Ms. Baby, so cheese is out for a protein-based snack. I’m going to substitute nuts. Other than that, veggies and fruits.

4. Chocolate. I’ve laid in a supply of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (on sale at Wally-world, $1.88! Woot!). I should be set. At least for the first week.

5. Wine. Waiting for the end of the month when I get paid, but I’ve got it all planned out. Box o’ wine: merlot and cab, one of each. Chardonnay: Australian, Yellow Tail, (Which for some reason smells to me like sawdust, which for some reason reminds me of Wyoming. Yeah. I have no idea either.) for those really trying days between 25K and 30K.


1,667 Words Per Day

1. Word Count Padding. Just as a review for myself:

a) I will not use contractions.
b) I will not use hyphens.
c) I will describe every blessed thing in excruciating detail.
d) I will not delete ANYTHING. If it really, really bothers me, I will color the text gray and put it in italics so it can more easily be ignored.
e) If I discover that I have written something that requires me to go back and “fix” something I’ve already written, I WILL NOT DO IT. I will instead tell myself that I’ve already fixed it and move on.


2. Making Quota.
a) I will keep my PDA synced with my laptop at all times.
b) When I am away from my laptop, I will have my PDA on my person at all times.
c) All spare moments not spent eating, sleeping, feeding babies and other members of my family or working will be spent writing. If this means foregoing showers, So Be It.
d) I will write. I will not worry about whether it is total crap. I will not worry about whether it makes any sense at all. I will remember that it can all be fixed – or set afire, as appropriate – come December.
e) I will reward myself for completed chapters, paragraphs, and – if it comes down to it – sentences, as necessary with snacks, treats and perusals of the NaNo forums.
f) I will not spend inordinate amounts of time forum-whore-ing.


3. Maintaining My Sanity.
Ba-hah! Just kidding.

23 October 2006

Cover Art

I didn't have a computer capable of doing this last year, so I never made a cover for that NaNo-novel. This year, however...

Credit for the background pic goes to Lynnette Cook. The other images are a photo I took in Nepal in 1994 and my very poor attempt at sketching a natural land formation in my fantasy story's world.

The proportions aren't really right for a cover, but I figure I'll just say it's a "wrap-around" type cover... yeah, that's it... heh.

22 October 2006

We’re Doing WHAT in November?

So.

I started putting together a list of what I’ll have to work around in November in order to do the Great Novel-Writing Adventure thing that is NaNoWriMo. Just so I could be prepared, ya know?

I’ve succeeded in sorta freakin’ myself out.

Here’s what I know about at the moment:

Nov 1: The usual grant deadline. This one is less of big deal, since – because I’m still working from home – the major work I’ll do on the proposals should be prior to November 1. When I’m trying to iron out my plot wrinkles. Oh well.

Nov 2: Ms. Baby's head scan. I suspect this will take up most of the morning by the time we’re done. (She has to have her head scanned because there’s a funny bump on the back on her skull. See photo.)



Nov 8: Appointment with the plastic surgeon. About Ms. Baby’s funny bump. At 7:30 in the morning. In the middle of the city. This will necessitate getting up at an ungodly hour and driving through the city’s rush hour traffic. With Ms. Baby screaming her discontent at being in her carseat the entire time. Joy.

Nov 9: The Husband’s Birthday. He doesn’t want anything for his birthday. Except to go hunting. Which means he’ll gone for part of a weekend.

Nov 10/11: More birthdays. The Husband’s stepmother’s birthday is on the 10th and his grandfather’s birthday is on the 11th. Or vice-versa I can never remember.

Nov 15-ish: The not-so-usual grant deadline. Hopefully, there won’t be a ton of work for this one, since it’s the 3rd and final submission. Hopefully.

Nov 19: Visitors. My sister-in-law and her very cute 18-month-old arrive for a 10-day visit. They live in California, so we don’t see them very often. We’ll be wanting to make up for that. I mean, look at this hair. We can’t miss out on that.


Then, there’s Thanksgiving on whatever, the 24th or something. And there will probably be more doctor's appointments, depending on what Ms. Baby’s scan shows. (Hopefully that will be nothing more than her skull is growing funny and she’ll have to wear a helmet. Hopefully.) I’m figuring at least two more fun drives into the city for that dealio.

And I’m going to try and write a novel.

Where IS my brain? I seem to have misplaced it.

19 October 2006

Eirik’s Boat

OK - so this is your typical pre-NaNo 'Oh, crap' moment:

So one of the characters - Eirik - has this boat. He and the main character are supposed to escape her execution on it. It's a special ship, probably been in the family for generations, handed down from father to son, yada,yada, yada...

In my mind, it's a Viking longship. Complete with dragon-headed prow.

So last evening, in a bid to constructively procrastinate instead of work on the outline for the story, I decide: I might as well do some reading up on longships just so's I know what the hell I'm talking about.

I mosey, ever so languidly, over to Wikipedia. Longship, I type. Here's a bit of what I find: lapstrake construction, fastened with iron rivets, oar-driven, center mast, prow carries a dragon carving.

So far, so good.

And then, the kicker: they were BIG. Most longships were 60 to 75 feet long or longer (bet that's why they called 'em ... oh, nevermind...). Not only that, they had crews of 60 or more big, burly men.

My brows draw together and my lips begin to purse. This is going to be a problem. Well, not so much a problem as a MAJOR PROBLEM. Mainly, this is going to be a problem because I do not have a crew of 60 or more big, burly men. In fact, I have no men of any sort.

Five kids. That's what I've got and I can't even count the two youngest, really, because one is 4 and the other isn't even a year old yet. So three kids: an 8-year-old girl and two 16-year-olds, one of which is also a girl. And these three kids, even with help from the bossy 4-year-old, are not going to be able to sail a ship that big. Not by a longshot, not even in a world where they could have 'magical' powers (which none of them do at that point in the story).

Oh. Crap.

I spend the next 10 or 20 minutes doing some rather frantic, panic-stricken research into other kinds of Viking ships. The only ones I can find that these kids might be able to handle is called a faering. Faerings are sort of small and canoe-like. And quite decidedly unfit for the stretch of open ocean my kids have to cross. Besides, I need a dragon-headed prow. And not just because they're cool and I like them - it's an important plot point (it is!).

I go to bed, dejected, depressed and really, really annoyed with the Vikings for having such big-ass ships. I figure I'll sleep on it. Maybe something will turn up in my dreams.

Morning. Nothing. Lots of dreams, not a single ship to be had.

I go about my day: feed baby, convince Ms. Four to wear clothes to school instead of her Cinderella costume, make lunch, deliver Ms. Four to school, feed baby, prep manuscript for submission, feed baby, etc, etc.

Finally, work-work done for the time being, I make myself sit down and work it out. This is exactly what I type:

OK, OK – it’s like a mini-longship. A longship-shaped ship that has a dragon headed prow and all that, plus a mast that can be stepped by a couple of reasonably strong people, even two 16-year-olds, say. And it has a sort of hold and a covered/sheltered sleeping area that’s barely big enough to fit the 5 of them. We could even call it a faering, if you like. A dragon-faering. Yeah, that might work…

*deep, satisfied sigh*

I love writing fantasy. If it doesn't exist, you get to make it up. Solves everything, real easy-like.

16 October 2006

Twitch, Twitch

I love my job. I really, really, really love my job.

I'm not being facetious. I'm not even being sarcastic. I really do love my job.

But sometimes, the people I work for, they're enough to kill me.

Like today, for instance. I sat down to edit this manuscript. I've edited it before. It got submitted to a journal. It got rejected by the journal.

As part of being rejected by the journal, it underwent peer review. I believe there were three different reviewers and you know what? Each and every one of them said that the manuscript had - and I quote - 'many grammatical errors'.

Many. Grammatical. Errors.

You know what my job is? Correcting grammatical errors. You know what I did to that manuscript before it was submitted? I corrected the grammatical errors. You know what the first author on that paper did? He ignored my corrections of the grammatical errors. And submitted the paper with them.

You know what I think of that? Well, to quote Hermione's comment from one of those Harry Potter movies: Wot. An. Idiot.

I mean, c'maaahn. What does he think they pay me for?? Does he really assume he knows my native language better than I do? (He's Chinese and probably, in this guy's case, he does. But that's another story.)

Here's the deal, people: If I put in a 'the' and take one of yours out - trust me. If I tell you it's supposed to be 'widowed' not 'bereft of spouse' - trust me. If I break up your 99-word sentence into something the human brain can actually process - trust me. If I rewrite a whole sentence from your Abstract because it doesn't make any frikkin' sense as written - trust me.

I understand that there is an 'issue' here: I don't have an MD. I don't have a PhD. And I don't have an MA, MS, MPH or M-anything. But for fuck's sake people, I am a native English speaker, I'm not an idiot and while admittedly, there are plenty of jargon, technical and medical terms that I may not be familiar with, I always try my damndest to familiarize myself and figure out what the stardard practice is. Furthermore, I will readily admit - in writing, because I always type up my "editing notes" and send them along with the edited manuscript - when I can't figure it out.

Crikey! That will be all, people.

15 October 2006

Damn Hyperactive Imagination

[a NaNo rant ]

Knowing it to be an exercise in futility, I wasn't going to outline this year. I mean, I learned my lesson last year. I know how hard my characters will laugh at any outline I come up with when I start referring them to it. I was going to save myself the trouble.

Unfortunately, as soon as my imagination gets wind of a new project in the works, it gets all these illusions of grandeur and epic tales begin to blossom in my mind. Sort of like the mushroom cloud from an A-bomb.

Next thing I know, I'm frantic to find a pencil or pen or crayon or SOMETHING to keep all these wonderful ideas from disappating into thin air and BOOM! An outline starts taking shape under my fingers.

Pretty soon, I'm starting to organize it into chapters. Then I get all in a tizzy about the ending. Then I start obesessing about details large and small. I've got Character Bios started and now I'm trying to decide if I'm going to have more than one POV character.

Gah! Somebody save me from myself!

12 October 2006

Extra, Extra...

OK, this one wins my prize for Bizarre Headline of the Week:


The first time I read it I was envisioning the faces of teenagers leaving trash all over powered antennas attached to bras... the real story is only slightly less bizarre (thankfully no one was killed).

09 October 2006

NaNo, NaNo

Yeah. I can't help myself. I'm gonna do it again.



Wanna join me? C'mon. I dare ya!

08 October 2006

Can You Say: Doh!

Or: Sometimes life really sucks when your kids are smarter than you are

So Ms. Four had a minor hissy fit over something I told her she couldn't do this morning and threw her scissors.

She is not allowed to throw things. Things that she throws get taken away for the remainder of the day and put out of her reach until the following morning.

So I promptly removed the scissors from her possession and placed them out of her reach.

And spent the rest of the day cutting things out FOR her.

DOH!

06 October 2006

Reverse ATM

OK, the Poor Little Agnostic Brain has now seen everything.




Apparently, churches are finding this an attractive alternative to the traditional offering basket, since people don't carry cash or checkbooks around anymore. This way, even if all you have on you is your debit card (does it TAKE credit cards - that'd be interesting), you can still give your god your money if the spirit moves ya.

Well. Hallelujah.

Dumbass Mama

Yep. I get the Dumbass of the Day award today:

It's 8AM. I'm starving. I decide I want eggs.

It's a nice day. The doors and windows are open.

Ms. Baby is sitting in her Bouncy Seat growing progressively irate.

I butter the pan. I run over to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

I run back to the kitchen and crack my eggs. I run back to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

I run back to the kitchen to find my eggs rapidly overcooking. I flip them. I run back to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

Back to the kitchen. Yeah, eggs are gonna be over hard today. I put the english muffins in the toaster and run back to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

Too late. Ms. Baby has gone from irate to ballistically pissed without passing Go and without collecting so much as a nickel. I pick her up and throw her onto my shoulder.

I run back to the kitchen to find my english muffin burnt and my eggs rubbery. Grumbling, I put them on a plate, toss the plate on the table and proceed to hack at my breakfast with a fork, shoveling bites into my mouth as fast as I possibly can.

All the while I am bouncing Ms. Baby on my knee. She is not impressed. In fact, ballistically pissed is starting to look mighty calm compared to where she's headed.

I try the swing. No. I try different positions. Not even, Mama.

Resigned, I sit back down at the table and shovel faster as Ms. Baby works on one masterpiece of a Royal Hissy Fit.

I give up on eating. I start walking up and down the hallway trying to find a happy position in which to hold the hissy-ing Ms. Baby. This includes up on the shoulder again. Her little arms are waving wildly, probably trying to flag down better help around here.

One hand slaps into my face. It's freezing cold.

I look at the open doors and windows. I look at my flannel PJs and fleece bathrobe. I look at Ms. Baby in her single-layer cotton outfit. Cute. Not insulated.

I grab a big fleece blanket and wrap the now howling Ms. Baby up really tight, pop the Sucky Thing in her mouth and bounce her a few times.

In less than a minute, she's given up on all hissy fits, ballistic pissy-ness and generally fussy behavior and has fallen fast asleep. I put her back in the Bouncy Seat and finish hacking at my breakfast in peace.

Dumb. Ass. Mama.

05 October 2006

Technical Difficulties

Right, so Ms. Baby slept FOREVER last night - like two, count 'em, TWO four-hour episodes In A Row - so I'm feelin' pretty together this morning.

She's down for her morning nap. I decide to make coffee.

Furthermore, having slept an Almost Normal Amount, I'm feeling all kinds of ambitious. I decide before making coffee, that I'm going to descale the espresso machine. It's been about a year since the last descaling, so it's about time. So I go out to the garage and get the gallon jug of vinegar that I keep on hand for that purpose (vinegar doesn't go bad, I'm pretty sure).

I then search the house for the steam stopper-thingy, eventually find it and run a bunch of vinegar through the espresso half of my wonderful coffee machine. That finished, I prepare to de-vinegar it by running a bunch of water through the espresso half of my wonderful coffee machine.

Now. If you've ever seen an espresso machine, you know it's under pressure and there's a screw-on top to the little water chamber-thingy.

It got stuck.

I just spent TEN MINUTES trying to get it off. It wouldn't budge. No matter how I turned the wonderful coffee machine, the lid to the little water chamber-thingy just refused to move.

Was it still under pressure? Do I not know my own strength?

I don't know. I finally got it off, but it was very frustrating.

And I still have no coffee.