31 December 2008

NaNo... My Gahd. Will It Never END?!??

So we drove home from Florida yesterday and are safely back in Itty-Bitty City once again, where it is considerably colder than the shorts-and-T-shirt temps we had became used to. Sad, that, but one cannot vacation forever when one is not independently wealthy, which - sadder still - we are not.

The trip went well (no one puked!), but I wrote NOTHING. Instead of working on my own novel, I spent my non-driving hours reading some (truly dreadful) "stock" romance novels (I got them for free and I believe it to be an essential part of my writer education to read other fiction genres (and I learned a lot - mostly about what NOT to do - but more about that later)), regardless of whether or not they actually interest me (and let's just say "stock" romance is, erm... not my first choice).

Anyway. The point of this post is to lay out in public the fact that I have not yet completed my December goal of 22,500 words and the phrase "The End" typed at the bottom of my 2008 NaNo.

I cannot and will not accept failure.

So - it's 9:30-ish, the children are in bed and The Husband just left to pick up his dad and step-mom from the airport. I have approximately 1-1/2 hours of pretty-much-assured continuous silence without distractions -- and about 1500 words to write.

Here 'goes.

Wish me luck!

EDIT - 11:25 pm: Well, I made the 22.5K goal-for-December. Yaaay!! :-D Didn't break 80K, though. And didn't type "The End" either. On the bright side, I'm ending the day in the midst of a battle scene and Bran has an arrow embedded in his abdomen! Oh, dear. Poor, Bran... how ever shall I get him out of this one??

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27 December 2008

NaNo ... Uphill in January?

Still making progress, but slogging along. Christmas, Florida, and family are NOT conducive to writing. Like, at all. I wrote all of 29 words before the kids woke up yesterday, and then it was non-stop Everything Else all day long. Tennis, shopping, Bananagrams (great game!), and movies (Wall-e, which is effing brilliant) - oh, yes, and eating, let's not forget eating - took up the rest of the day.

This morning I managed to get just over 1000 words, so all is not lost, but I wanted to be DONE by now! Arrrgh! At least, the story is where it is supposed to be. Two more scenes and That's. It.

Until it's time to edit and probably add another 20K...

OK, I think I'll go quietly insane now...

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23 December 2008

NaNo Florida

Hello from sunny - but cool - Florida!

Yes, we're here! We made it! And with only two bouts of car sickness (thank you, Ms. Baby) and a minimum of 'are-we-there-yets' (thank you whoever invented portable DVD players). It was one long, long day, but whatever. It's over and I went swimming yesterday.

Progress on NaNo 2008 creeps along. I wrote NOTHING in the car at all, though I did get some really sticky plot problems worked out. I don't know why, but driving always helps immensely in that area. Terry Brooks mentions this in his book on writing, and I doubt it would work for everyone (not everyone actually likes driving), but there's something about having a particular proportion of my brain occupied with a task like that that frees the rest of the brain for more interesting things. So, yippee for that!

It's hard to find time to write here, though. The kids want to play. My sisters and my mom want to shop and talk and eat and drink coffee ALL DAY. I think we have a field trip of some sort planned for today. So it's hard to squeeze writing in anywhere.

But I woke up at 5:15 this morning and just said what the hell. I'll write til the kids get up. And now I've got just over 1000 words today and here I am at 75,000 for the story!

If that continues, I should be good on the December goal. After that, I'm not sure what I'll do. I know at some point, I should just put it away to come back to later. But I don't think it's ready for me to do that just yet. I think I need to go back through with the notebook I kept during NaNo of Things that Need Fixin' and take care of them. Then there are several bad guy POV scenes I want to add, and THEN I think I'll let it sit.

So that means I'll have to sit down and figure out how many words that will take and set a new goal with a new spread sheet and a new word ticker and.... *sigh*

I wonder if it will ever actully end...

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17 December 2008

Ooooo! Nifty-ness!

Thanks to Soleil's blog, I found a nifty little word counter thing-a-ma-bob!


The Angel and the Assassin
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter
72,022 / 80,000
(89.0%)


This is cool, because it shows what I did before (the gray area) and the progress I'm making on 'phase II', so to speak. Very cool! And I think if you click on it, you can get one too! :-D

EDIT: Ooo, weird... does it look all broke up to you? It seems to be fine in my sidebar, but here in the actual post, it's ... been julienned! Ack!

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15 December 2008

Updates, Updates, Updates.

NaNo 2008 Current Word Count: 70,121

Cumulative Total Words for December: 13,432

Aaaah! I broke 70K last night and it felt good. Bran and Heilla are still a crazy mess and I still don't understand a few critical things that are happening, but I'm just going to go with it. I really, really want to finish the draft by the end of December and I'm running out of time! We leave for Florida next Sunday, and between Christmas and my sisters, I have a feeling not much writing is going to get done there...

Plus, there are some other BIG things going on: I got my business licenses from the county and city last week, which means I really need to get the content written for the website so it's ready when the design is done. Saturday in the mail I got notification that the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences thinks I have enough experience to be eligible to take their certification exam - woo-hoo! and I'm thrilled, but now I have to go through the study guide, figure out where I'm lacking skills and knowledge and make up a plan and schedule for filling in those gaps by next October, which is when I want to take the exam.

Yikes! Full steam ahead!

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13 December 2008

NaNo: Onward, Ho!

NaNo 2008 Current Word Count: 68,936

Cumulative Total Words for December: 12,247

I am happy to report that the pogo stick worked and the story is now suffering under the weight of some serious Plot Bunny Proliferation Problems (which I will take any day over Brick Walls of Utter Nothingness, thankyouverymuch). Yahoo!

In part, I owe this wonderous turn of events to the fact that I woke up at 3:30 AM horrified that I still had No Idea what Fancy Dessert I was going to bring this afternoon to Christmas-Early-Because-Everyone's-Traveling-This-Year at the in-laws (OMG, did that even make sense? how much coffee have I had today...). Thanks to Internet-on-my-Phone, I soon found something (cranberry orange bundt cake!) and tried to go back to sleep.

However.

Bran and Heilla kept jabbing me in the back and whinging on about how they were cold, lost in the fog and hungry and would I please, please, pleeeeeeeease consider getting out of bed (even though it was still dark) and get them out of the freezing rain and under a blanket or something.

At 4:23 AM, I gave in to the jabbing and sat down on the couch with a Hazelnut Soy Latte (which, miraculously enough, no one woke up while I made) and wrote 1,836 words!

And now Bran and Heilla are in even deeper shit than they were before... 0.0

But that's good. And there's hand-to-hand combat on deck for late this evening or tomorrow morning. And that's even better (I do love a battle scene...).

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10 December 2008

Typo of the Day

For once, not one of my own...

Happened across this today: What happens when you remove the first "e" from the word "genome"?

Yes! You guessed it! You get a "gnome-wide association study"!!!!!

'Cuz, yanno, the better we understand the gnomes among us, the happier our gardens will be. Or something.

Anyway, Go Gnomes!!

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Brick Wall, Meet Pogo Stick

NaNo 2008 Current Word Count: 65,433

Cumulative Total Words for December: 8,744

Yep. Still steaming along and even averaging over 900 words a day! Which is bloody amazing considering how much else is going on (most of which I can't even talk about, because it's so top secret...).

Unfortunately, it's all about to come to a crashing halt. At least, it's trying to... I can see a brick wall on the horizon.

See, Bran and his girl have to escape. They're currently on a forced march through the wilderness to a worse prison than they were in before.

But that isn't even the real problem.

The real problem is that they have to get away before the bad guy catches up to them, and he's not far behind. Only they have no means of getting away because they're marching through a meadow. There's no cover. No bushes. No boulders. Not so much as a tall weed to hide behind. Plus, it's early spring, so the meadow grass is all flat and half rotted from sitting under the snow all winter - in other words, it won't hide them if they lay down in it.

So I know they get away. But I don't know how. So I'm about to be stuck.

Enter, Pogo Stick.

If there is one thing I have learned, and learned well, in four years of doing NaNo, it is this: Stop. For. Nothing.

There's no need. It will work itself out or you will figure it out later (i.e., after you are done with the draft and can afford the time to sit down and think it through). Either way, it isn't worth derailing your momentum and chances are the solution will present itself one way or another.

So wish me luck - I'm about to make the big hop! (Seriously, it's been, like, 30 years since I last mounted a pogo stick....I may well break something...!).

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08 December 2008

Maybe There Is Hope For Writers

Or, at least, there is someone with some sense out there.

Someone posted a link to this NY Times article on writing to the AMWA freelance listserve. It's brilliant and painfully, painfully true.

Typing Without A Clue

And it reinforces my sense that SOMETHING has got to change in the publishing industry, and that if it doesn't change itself, we-the-writers will figure out a way to circumvent it. Maybe POD. Maybe PDF. Maybe something entirely different. I don't know.

But there has be a way. There has to be. Because I'm tired of waiting to read Susan's novel about Trevor and the gang. I'm tired of not having hard copies of Joely's stuff. I'm tired of reading about people like Joe the Plumber and OJ Simpson getting published, while people who can actually tell a damn good story don't.

OK, so what if the rules are the rules and life isn't fair. I say let's change the damn rules already.

So there.

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07 December 2008

How To Make An Entrance

So Ms. Baby (a.k.a. the Loudest Child on the Planet), out of the blue this morning, starts yowling at the top of her lungs and stomping her feet as she marches across the living room floor, comes to an abrupt halt between my desk and the couch her sister is sitting on, grins around at her now rapt audience and says, "Hi Everybody!".

Something tells me her teenage years are going to be... "interesting".

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05 December 2008

Laughter

Boss Lady had a meeting today with somebody who arrived when I was away from my desk (they have to walk by me to get to her), so I didn't know who it was. I could hear them talking, but they were speaking in Chinese, which I don't understand well enough to figure out who the visitor was from listening in.

And then the visitor laughed - a good laugh, genuine, not fake.

And then I smiled, because I knew exactly who it was.

It's a good thing when you can recognize a person from their laugh, and it makes you smile, you know what I mean?

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04 December 2008

Still on Target

Amazingly enough... I have not yet fallen behind!

OK, OK - so I'm only going for 750 words/day. That's still the Mt. Everest of goals some days, what with grant deadlines, kids, colds, Christmas, and the ever-present Hell known as Housework... :)

And things are getting "interesting". I had this one character that had sort of dead ended during NaNo, so I had just let her sit and pout in a corner. Monday morning on the commute in to FPU, she burst out with what actually happens with her while her cousin is being tortured...!

Yahoo!

Total December Words: 2,399
Total Words for the 2008 NaNo: 59,088

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02 December 2008

Figures...

I was going to actually sit down and re-figure out how much story I have to write, then post a number, but naturally Boss Lady has a grant to submit tomorrow, so - no time for such pleasures...

However, my ball park guess is 9 more scenes and since my scenes tend to run about 2500 words, it comes out to 22,500 for December, which it totally doable. I've set my daily goal at 750 words and snagged that easily yesterday.

Tonight, of course, will all about the angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and the genes in this pathway related to breast cancer survival. Oh, the joy. I can hardly contain it.

Gah!

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01 December 2008

NaNo: Victorious-ness!



Weeee-hooo! I won! *does happy dance*

Naturally, the story is only 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to the extra-happy happy-dance state of Actually Finished, but it's a good start. I took Turkey Day off (well, from writing-writing... I took a notebook and pen and worked out the final scenes in the car on the way to the sister-in-law's house), but on Friday decided rather than be trampled to death in a shopping frenzy, I would get back to work and try to get as much done as I could, so I would have less to do in December -- because I WILL finish the story in December, come hell or high water. We've got a long (15-hour) car ride to my parents' place in Florida, so there's a good chunk of time, even if I have to do a lot of the driving myself (I may be driving one way with just me and the girlz, but we'll see, we have yet to finalize dates and such...)

Anyway, I'm still using the 200-word Trick, because it works so incredibly well for me. I routinely hit 2,000 on days that I do this, and it's relatively painless. OK, that's a lie. But it breaks the pain into small, managable pieces and I tend not to bleed all over my keyboard quite as much as if I try to sit down and just write 2,000 words all in one go. :D

So to keep myself honest, I'm going to work out my goal for December today, post it and update it. Hopefully, that will keep me from slacking off and finding new and interesting ways of slurping eggnog instead of writing.

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26 November 2008

Procrastinations Galore

Word Count as of 7 AM today: 46,009

Word Count as of 6 PM today: 49,018

Which is impressive for me, until you consider that I've been at it just as hard for the last 3 hours, BUT:

Word Count as of 9 PM today: 49, 436

Oooo - 400 words in three hours. Positively smokin', baby. *blows raspberries*

Why, I cannot say, but it's alway the last 700 words of NaNo that are the hardest to spit out onto the bloody page. Always. They kill me.

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Counterspace

Itty-bitty, 197os kitchens with NO COUNTERSPACE are clearly in violation of the Geneva Convention. I'm sure of it.

I mean, seriously, I've had dollhouses with bigger kitchens than mine. Bah! Humbug.

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25 November 2008

NaNo: The 200-Word Trick

So if you have kids and you write, you know how hard it can be to find writing time. Some days, it is well nigh impossible ... OK, make that most days....

And then you decide to do NaNoWriMo. And discover that you knew nothing about trying to find writing time. :)

This year has been especially challenging for me, because my work schedule has changed since last year, so the time I used to have on reserve for writing - 5 AM to whenever the kids woke up - is no longer available, because I'm getting ready for and then am on my way to ye olde work-work. That has left the couple of hours after the kids go to bed at 8 or 8:30, by which time I'm usually asleep on my feet and incapable of writing anything I don't hate myself for in the morning.

Two weeks ago, however, I found the Magic Elixir.

No, really! And I managed laundry and kitchen dredging at the same time!

You think I'm lying - and that's OK. But it's all true!

What's the big secret? Well, I do not enjoy laundry or kitchen dredging in the least, but things had become desperate (because they had been ignored for so long - no underwear, no spoons, oh the horror!). To add insult to injury, I had also reached that inevitable point in the story where I utterly loathed it, had lost all motivation to pick the story up and was very, very close to just pretending I had too many other things to do and abandoning it altogether.

But I SO hate to lose at anything. And I would so hate to lose NaNo even more.

So I joined my mild ADHD with my hatred of losing and set the following rule: I would write 200 words, then accomplish some Unsavory Task (i.e., one that was housework-related). Once the Unsavory Task was accomplished, I had to sit my fat butt down and write 200 more words, then it was time for another Unsavory Task, and so on.

Astoundingly enough, it worked! The first day I tried it, I ended up with 4,000 words! The following weekend, I had a 5,000-word day! For me, that kind of speed is well nigh unbelievable!

More importantly, however, the 200-word trick got me through the I-can't-imagine-WHY-I-ever-thought-this-story-was-so-cool doldrums and delivered several brain-popping Story Epiphanies.

It really seems to work for me, and I think part of the reason it does is because 200 words is about as much as I can write before a kid needs desperately something. Cool, huh?

Now. If I could just get The Husband to stop practicing his #%@*&$# duck calls in the living room.... Can't have everything, I guess...

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22 November 2008

NaNo Bits: Sheer Shock

It is now midnight and I should be in bed, but I must express my ... I don't even know... shock, awe, amazement-at-the-shit-that-comes-out-of-my-head?

Something like that.

It's like this: My very boring, very plain, very straight laced, very innocent (or so I thought...) main character up and decided she could not avoid murdering someone today. Murder! She couldn't avoid it. She really couldn't. It was a terrible line, and she had to cross it, but I am appalled. Appalled. And very much not OK with this turn of events. (How sympathetic is a character that is that cold blooded??)

But mostly, I am very, very shocked at how terrifyingly neatly this murder thing fits in with something else that I already knew about but didn't know the particulars of.

See, there are these bloody knives that another character finds later on. Only I didn't know whose blood was on them or how it got there.

And now I do.

0.0

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20 November 2008

NaNo Bits: Character Mutiny #1

It happens every time I write any kind of fiction. I don't know why it still surprises me.

But it does.

I guess there's just something sort of shocking (and exciting and magical, truth be told...) about your characters looking up from the page/screen, giving you the hairy eyeball, then shaking their heads at each other and - in unison- yanking the plot out from between your fingers.

It's just so ... well, I don't know what to call it, but it's very similar to the rush I got in my younger (and fitter) days from skiing and rock & ice climbing. Thrilling, maybe? I don't know. That seems corny.

Whatever.

Let's just say it's just really, really cool when you realize that your charcters know your story better than you do.

As you might have guessed, it happened again today. I had this scene all planned out where these two characters, who haven't been getting along, suddenly find some common ground. Only they didn't. Well, actually, they not only didn't find common ground, they fought like cats trespassing in another cat's territory. And it was exactly what they should have done and much better than what I had planned for them.

Wild.

Anyway, here's a snippet. The writing totally sucks (I consider the end product of NaNo to be nothing more than a really detailed outline, so be warned). I'm only posting it because this is the end of the scene and they're supposed to be all hugging and bff with each other... hah!

Heilla’s expression changed to one of irritation. “Oh, I see. This isn’t about you or me – this is about Bran, isn’t it?”

“You just stay away from him,” Eydis snapped. “If I catch you near him again, I’ll make you wish you’d never been born. Understand?”

Heilla managed to look dignified as she said, “Perfectly. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find some clean clothes.”

“Right,” Eydis sneered as the other girl went past. “You do that. Just don’t go anywhere near the infirmary. I’m serious.”

“Whatever,” Heilla said and she left.
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13 November 2008

NaNo ZeRo

So I was sick yesterday - couldn't-get-out-of-bed sick, no less. And I didn't write a word. Not. One. Word.

That is a new record low for me for a NaNo daily word count (previously, it was 57 - really!). My first ZERO day. Eep!

I don't much like it, especially since - another first - I am officially BEHIND on the word count of the day tally. I've always, always, always been ahead. Always. Until now.

Don't much like this either.... and I'm hoping I'm not starting a trend that will result in this being the first year I don't "win".... That would seriously suck. Seriously!

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08 November 2008

NaNo Bits: Day 8

It's still going reasonably well, which is shocking the hell out me - I've averaged almost 1650 words a day during the work week! That's astounding for me. Last year, I was lucky if I could manage 800 during the week and then had to make it up on the weekends, which sort of sucked.

Seriously, I think I finally struck the right balance between planning enough but not too much. My characters are continually surprising me, but in a good way for once.

Then again, the first six scenes of the story were pretty well laid out and I had really good visuals on them. The same cannot be said for The Middle of The Story.... However, I'm hoping that because The End of The Story has been pretty well mapped out too, that The Middle will take care of itself.

Well, one can dream, right?

Anyway, I have to thank Susan for her post on new music, via which I found Apocalyptica's Farewell. It's stunning and was perfect for the scene I was writing last night. Thanks, Susan!

And now for a snippet. Eydis has just lectured Bran about being reckless. He doesn't listen very well, and it's about to cost him.

Eydis looked up to find herself walking in the wrong direction. Why she’d started walking towards the bloody Tower, she couldn’t even begin to guess. Thinking too much, instead of paying attention most likely. She was about to turn around and head back through the onion patch, when she saw something streak up the side of the Tower.

Bran! The idiot – what did he think he was doing? Didn’t he know he could be seen?

She wanted to scream at him – with mind and body voice both – but she didn’t dare. She watched with horror as he soared past the top of the Tower, hung for a second in mid air, then dove down the other side. He emerged beyond the top of the compound wall, silent and moving fast.

There was a shout from the direction of the gate and Eydis heard the sing-song chatter of the Han guard.

Then her blood froze in her veins as she heard the sound of a bow string lose an arrow.

Word Count as of Right Now: 14,035.

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07 November 2008

Help! Need Tunes!

I've finished with the first two of my three POV characters for the NaNo, and it will be time to start on the third this evening (probably late this evening, which cannot, unfortunately be helped...).

Everyone else has theme music (Bran=Buckcherry & Glasvegas, Heilla=Kronos' Caravan), but Ms. Eydis here is being a pain in my ass and refusing to mesh with anything I can find on Napster, despite me finding a LOT of cool music...

Hence the plea for help.

Some background: Eydis is a pretty strong chic - stubborn, tough, and resourceful, but she's been through hell having grown up in a prison colony, so she can also be suspicious of strangers, close minded, and brutal when she has to be.

Anyone have any suggestions? I'll try anything. Really. Anything at all.

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06 November 2008

Deluge

'Cuz it can't ever just rain, yanno...

Here's a summary/brain-dump about the multitude of shit going on in my life that is simultaneously about to hit the fan, just so I can clear my head:

  • There's NaNo, of course -- 1667 word/day, right? Do-able and I've done it. But I wasn't planning on having quite so many other things going at the same time.

  • Work-work is being crazy-crazy and the rumors, they are a-flyin'... there are more small signs every day that I should maybe be looking for another job - so I started to...

  • ...which means updating the CV, churning out brilliant cover letters, answering unknown numbers when my cell rings, being all bright and goddamn cheerful when I do so (this requires a rather monumental amount of effort for me)...

  • Trying to come up with a catchy name for my business that doesn't sound just like every other biomedical editing firm out there. Harder than it sounds, because as it turns out there just aren't that many ways to say 'biomedical editing'...

  • Website design for the business. I have someone doing this, but she needs some input from me about what I want, and it takes time to gather information, examples and put my thoughts together coherently.

  • The Husband's birthday is Sunday. He likes to have a Big Fat Hairy Deal made out of his birthday, even though he's past the age when that's really appropriate. That means I have to go birthday present shopping and I hate shopping and I hate it worse when I'm buying presents for people who are picky and impossible to please.

  • Another of my sisters-in-law is pregnant and her baby shower is Saturday afternoon. So I have to go shopping some more. At least, she is registered at Babys-R-Us.

  • Because I'm going to be an independent editor, I finally decided it would be worth it to take the board exam that would certify me as such, which means gathering transcripts together in one place and getting three letters of recommendation (yes, I have to have to have recommendations in order to take a test - isn't that a pisser?). This also means that...

  • ... I have to draft the recommendation letters, since the people I'm going to ask for them will expect me to provide them with something to work from, since that's how such things are typically done in Academia.


OK. I think I'm done (for now).

I think I might even feel better.

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04 November 2008

NaNo: Favorite Bits From Day Three

I hate the Daylight Savings time change thing. I woke up at 3:30 AM - and I mean wide awake - and couldn't go back to sleep. I gave up eventually and got some words in on the NaNo... not great words, but that's not the point, I guess...

Anyway, writing-wise, other than what I'm posting below, last night and this morning was a biatch. I have a time line issue -- always my nemesis -- that is refusing to resolve itself and had many false starts. It being NaNo, of course, I didn't delete a single word of them....

Bran straddled the ridge of the dormer window roof as best he could, took a deep breath and prepared to call the bailak.

Time to stow the wings, he called softly into his own mind.

So soon? the bailak replied, sounding wistful.

Don’t worry. I’ll need them again in an hour or two, Bran promised.

Very well. Are you ready?

Bran was never ready for what the bailak was about to do to his body, but he'd learned not to scream out loud while it was happening.


Off to work-work...

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03 November 2008

NaNo, Day The Second

The Husband, curse him (OK, not really), got two free tickets to the Titans game yesterday and took his grandpa with him (see? brownie points). Since he was gone, I figured I'd have kids climbing on me all day and get zippo done on my NaNo.

Shockingly, the kids cooperated. Ms. Six spent most of the day playing with her friend across the cul-de-sac and Ms. Baby was quite happy to play in the front yard, while I sat in the sun on the front steps (it was frikkin' 74 degrees outside and sunny yesterday - in November...) with my pen and notepad and went to town. That's always a good technique, because when I typed up those three notebook pages during Ms. Baby's nap, what was probably a couple hundred words on paper turned into a little over a thousand in the computer file. Yay, me!

Here's today's mini-snippet:

Not surprisingly, there were sixty four men around the first campfire and around the two others he counted. It was always some multiple of eight. Every time.

That was the Han for you, Bran thought shaking his head, bunch of superstitious bastards.

Oh - final word count for yesterday: 5,116.
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02 November 2008

A NaNo Mini-Snippet

This was Joely's idea, of course, this mini-snippet thing....

Er, let me back up...

NaNo is in full swing! I actully managed to finish the first scene yesterday and it went surprisingly well. OK, maybe it shouldn't have been surprising. It's one of those scenes that I could see the whole thing, beginning to end, which is not always the case. It really helps, lemmetellya... 'cuz the next one is d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g...

Oh, well.

Anyway, final word count for yesterday was 2,772 (which is also the phone number for my HR person at work... scary, that...).

And since I think it's a neat idea to post my favorite (or least suckiest) line each day, here's the opening for this year's adventure:


Heilla rushed down a frightfully empty corridor, one hand on her head to keep her head scarf from flying off as she ran, the other holding up a handful of skirts out of her way so she could run faster. How she had managed to oversleep again, she couldn’t even begin to comprehend.

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31 October 2008

Waiting Impatiently

NaNo starts in 28 minutes. I am trying to be patient about it. I am not very good at patient.

So I'm trying to distract myself and happened to notice Google's word of the day today is 'gloaming', one of my all-time favorite words ever.

In part, I really like it because it's one of those words with really, really deep English/Germanic roots. No, no Latin-ness here, thank you very much, this one goes straight back to Old English and the time of Beowulf.

I also like it because of the images in evokes in the old brain - low clouds mob a purple streak of twilight on the horizon, something in an alley waits, full dark is coming soon.... sort of the same feel as the first scene of this year's NaNo!

Oh, great... here we are again... waiting...

Aaaah!

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Happy New Year

As long time readers will know, I have no religion.

I have never met one that could hold me. The Christians, the Buddhists, the pagans - in one way or another, they all espouse the One True Way, a concept that provokes my brain into instant and utter rebellion. (I will NOT be told what to think. I will NOT be told how to see the world. I will NOT be made to believe without question. And this thing you call 'faith' that you want me to drown myself in? You can shove it.)

And yet I cannot call myself an atheist either.

It's not that I'm waffling or hedging my bets or reserving my right to say 'oh, well, maybe...' at the last minute. I simply don't think you can know one way or the other (which is why, technically, I'm an agnostic, but whatever).

All the same, I have these moments - like when I stumbled across this: Dreaming the Dead. It's a post on Holly Lisle's blog about a dream she had in which someone who died appeared in her dream with a gift. I had goosebumps the whole time I was reading it. It's that cool - go read it yourself. Seriously.

You're back? OK, good.

It's situations like that, when the universe appears to be hopping up and down and waving its arms in your face to get your attention, when it's difficult for me to maintain a totally atheistic world view. Shit like that doesn't happen for no reason. It just doesn't.

What's really giving me goosebumps, however, is the odd parallel going on in my own life at the moment. Nothing popped into (or out of) a dream for me, but unfortunately, there are some very scary rumors running amock right here in Real Life that may have an effect on my job. A really large effect on my job.

So large that, in fact, that I finally got around to shelling out a bunch of money to have my freelance editing business website domain-named, designed and hosted. The very idea of venturing out on my own into the wide, wild world scares the freakin' crap out of me. But it must be done, and it must be done now. My universe, you see, is either rehearsing for a Broadway musical or knocking itself out to get my attention....

Which, believe it or not, brings us back to the title of this post: Happy New Year.

In the comments to the Holly Lisle post, several people commented on the fact that this dream happened quite close to Halloween, and Halloween - if I'm remembering right - is the pagan/Wiccan/whatever New Year. New Year, yanno, out with the old, in with the new? Yeah, that New Year. And this whole situation I've found myself in has that feel -- new beginnings, new adventures, bid the past adieu -- all that .

So in the spirit of moving on with the beginnings and letting go of the endings: Happy New Year!

.

23 October 2008

Wine Bottle. No Corkscrew.

I've been meaning to get another Swiss Army knife, one with a corkscrew, because when I got my first one I thought, "Oh, I'll get the one with the screwdriver - I'd probably never use a corkscrew." Since that time I have, naturally, had many an occasion to regret that decision and this evening was no exception.

After the day's workshops and keynote addresses, etc, I ventured out from my hotel to wander the very interesting streets of Louisville and, among other items, found a bottle of my favorite wine. Woo-hoo! I thought and headed back to the hotel, thoroughly pleased with myself.

Until I discovered I had no corkscrew. Duh.

That should have occurred to me when I bought the wine, but yanno - a day spent contemplating coronary heart disease in women and how to report correlation and regression analyses can fry the thinker somewhat.

So I googled "no corkscrew", which turned up this: How To Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew, which suggested banging the bottom of the bottle against a tree. Alas, no tree in the hotel room.

So I went down to one of the expensive little boutique-y shops off the hotel lobby to see if I could buy one. And I could have! But they were all out.

I decided to give up. The Husband - from 150 miles away - came to the rescue and proved, once again, how resourceful and handy he is.

"Call room service," he said. "They'll bring you one."

"Oh. Right. OK," I said, baffled at the very idea of putting someone to the trouble of bringing something so inconsequential all the way up to the 10th floor.

The room service people were only too happy to do it, though, so now I am sipping my wine, feet up, laptop in place. Yahoo!

.

22 October 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For...

So. Boss Lady offered (once again) to pay for me to attend the Great and Wonderful Annual Medical Writers/Editors Conference this year (have I mentioned yet today how much I adore Boss Lady?). Of course, I went, but unlike previous years, this year I went by myself. As in, I left Ms. Six and Ms. Baby and The Husband at home.

And so here I am in my hotel room and .... I'm ALONE. There are NO childen climbing on me. I have TWO beds AND a whole bathroom that I don't have to share with ANYONE.

I have NO IDEA what to do with myself.

OK, I'm exagerating - I have plenty of ideas, believe me. :D But this is the first time since Ms. Six was born that I have left my babies and gone away overnight by myself, and frankly, it's a little eerie. Not that I'm not enjoying myself, mind. But it's mighty odd after six and a half years of somebody demanding something from me every second of every day to revert back to being responsible for ONLY ME.

It's a little bit like being in college. Except with money and a really nice car. :-D

.

18 October 2008

Finger on the Button

The plotting of NaNo 2008 has been plodding at a snail's pace this week due to some sort of creeping crud that has been working its way through the family -- so I'm not nearly as far along as I think I should be.

However, everyone finally has a name (Thank You, Viking Answer Lady!) - Mystery Girl very nearly got axed for not ante-ing up (and she's still waffling about the spelling, but whatever). And everyone finally started piping up about what the hell happens in The Middle Of The Story after I threatened to axe everybody and use the outline from 2005, which was completed but never got used because the vampires showed up at the last minute.

Interestingly enough, most of the Middle-Of-The-Story progress was made in a frantic, long-hand, 20 minute period sitting backwards in the driver's seat of my car -- NO, not while I was driving, while I was waiting to pick up Ms. Six after school yesterday. I told Bran and Mystery Girl (she doesn't get to use her name until she tells me how to spell it) they had until the bus arrived back from the field trip to tell me what happens or else.

Lemmetellya, there is nothing like a deadline to make characters start squawking. It's like poising your finger over the button that will deliver an electric shock. Or - more appropriate for my fantasy world - holding their feet over a bed of red hot coals ... or threating to pull out their fingernails ... or ...

Poor Bran... no wonder he didn't want to tell me what happens...

.

04 October 2008

Best Forum Thread. Ever.

This is why I love NaNo and will probably always find an excuse to do it:


For real. Go check it out. It's so hysterically off the wall it makes me want to cheer.

I don't know why shit like this gives me hope, but it does. I so totally identify with people who look at the crazy, horrible, ridiculous world we live in and say, 'oh, yeah? well, i'll raise you a velociraptor! how do ya like them apples?!'

.

28 September 2008

Grant Hell: Coda

The Training Grant Adventure from Hell is over. Fucking finally.

I didn't think we were going to make it when I got to work on Friday at 6:30 AM.

I didn't think we were going to make it at 12:00 PM when we were still missing 3 biosketches.

I didn't think we were going to make it at 4:00 PM when we still didn't have the signature page.

I didn't think we were going to make it at 5:00 PM when Boss Lady LEFT to go pick up her son and attend his piano concert. (Nope. She didn't come back.)

And I really, really didn't think we were going to make it at 7:15 when we were still making copies and only had 15 minutes to get them assembled and downstairs to the FedEx drop-box.

But we did and it's gone: signed, sealed, and will be delivered Monday morning by FedEx.

And then I almost had to kill someone.

Because after I had run downstairs to the FedEx box and dropped off the boxes with the proposal inside, I came back to my computer - at 7:30 PM, mind you - and found this email in my Inbox:

Bethanie, if you have not already sent the proposal, please hold. Boss Lady might want to add another paragraph. Signed, -Other Chinese Person on the Proposal


My jaw hit the floor. I blinked very rapidly, certain I was seeing things. I was not.

And so I wrote back: Sorry. Just dropped it off. And I hit send, shut my computer off and went the fuck home to see my kids for the first time that day.

I found the lolcat below just now and it about perfectly sums up how I felt about that email:

cat
more animals


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26 September 2008

*headdesk*

Well.

My bank failed this morning.

Not a good way to start Grant Submission Hell-Day. Does not bode well. Not at all, really.

Gah!

Where IS my coffee and when can I have another one please?!??

.

25 September 2008

Start the Countdown, Ensign...

Tomorrow is Doomsday.... er.... I mean, Grant Submission Day. Yeah... um, same thing.

Anyway.

I've been at it since 6 AM this morning and now we're approaching 11 PM and, even though I shockingly only had ONE coffee this morning, I am SO AMPED, I can already tell that I'm never going to get to sleep in time to get any kind of rest before the alarm goes off at 5 AM Friday and the race to beat the FedEx guy starts....

I'd use this time to do some fun fiction writing, but I've been typing for, like, 16 hours straight and my damn hands are about to fall off....

I suppose it's not helping matters I'm listening to death metal....

*collapses on floor in fits of giggles*

Yeah. It's that fun.

Don't you wish you could do this for a living, too?

OK, I'm off to bed now. Really.

*more giggles*

.

24 September 2008

Pirate Ship Party Sandwiches

So last week, Ms. Six's after school program had a Pirate Party on Friday afternoon. I signed up to make sandwiches, thinking I would surely find something clever and pirate-y online and not have to think too hard about being clever myself.

Well, I seached. And I searched. And I searched.

And Google failed me.

Nothing! I found exactly nothing - nothing pirate ship-ish, nothing really all that pirate-y even. (OK, there was one "pirate sandwich" that involved bologna and olives, which caused it to be immediately vetoed, so it doesn't count.)

So there I was - Thursday afternoon and desperate - wandering around the grocery store with NO IDEA what I was going to do. I had turkey in the cart. I had cheese in the cart. I had Ms. Baby in the cart starting to get cranky and very bored with her third trip through the bread aisle.

I had just about given up on the whole Clever Idea thing and resigned myself to Wonder Bread (*gags*) --- when I saw them!! A bag of tiny, tiny little dinner rolls...

After that it was merely a matter of cocktail toothpicks and skull-and-crossbone images pirated (*wink, wink*) off the Internet....

And so I present for your partying pleasure:

Pirate Ship Party Sandwiches!


23 September 2008

Oooo... Pretty Colors....

Yes. I've lost it. In case you were wondering.

But the Special Hell known as The Training Grant will soon be over. On Friday, we'll make 6 or 7 copies of all 350+ pages of that fucker and FedEx 5 plus the original off to Washington or Baltimore or wherever-it's-going and It. Will. Be. Over.

And I can't wait.

But in the meantime, I thought I'd share the pretty chart I made to keep track of all the people we needed to get stuff from and whether on not we'd asked for it, got it, initialized it, modified it, finalized it and obtained the hard copy.

See the pretty chart? Ooooo.... Colors.... And yes, they all mean something.

Friday has never seemed a sweeter word.

.

20 September 2008

NaNo Dillemma-ness

I don't really want to do NaNo this year.

Really, I don't.

I have too much going on. Someone will get sick. An unplanned grant is sure to appear out of nowhere and be due in the middle of the month. My family is coming here for Turkey Day.

Reasons against abound.

But it's NaNo's 10th anniversary. Seems like a shame to miss it.

And while I was washing dishes a bit ago, I got this totally wicked idea. A deadline would be a really good thing for it, right?

Right?

Dammit.

.

17 September 2008

Oh, Brilliant

Gas prices are shooting for the moon.

Wall Street is crumbling into the sea.

A hurricane has scoured whole towns off the map

My freakin' mortgage company appears to be next.

It's just rumors at this point, but um... just what are you supposed to DO if the bank holding your mortgage does the dead fish routine??

Do I keep paying them if they've filed for Chapter 11? Am I allowed to get irritated if they get bought out by somebody?

Probably not, but it would be - literally - the FIFTH time my mortgage has been handed off to somebody else since we bought the house two years ago. I was just getting used to them! After they held onto to the note for a whole year, I finally broke down and got set up to pay them online. I actually trusted them that much!

And they repay me like this?

Great. Fabulous.

Figures.

.

16 September 2008

Hell and Her Hounds

Rain pounds the rocks. They are slick, trecherous. The only moon in the sky this time of night is Hell, and even She and Her Hounds are hiding.

A hand appears over the edge of the precipice. Stark white, waterlogged, it scrabbles for a hold on anything at all. Its owner doesn't seem to notice when it is cut to the bone by a bit of rock.

Wheezing and panting with fear, a small, wretched form pulls up onto a tiny ledge. No telling whether it is man or woman, it makes for a crack in the cliff that rams into the ledge. There it huddles, gasping, shivering, praying for the storm to pass, the rain to cease, morning to come.


This is how I feel right now. Beat to a pulp mentally and physically (even though I was chained here in front of my computer all day and hardly moved).

I do not like Training Grants. I do not like them, Sam I Am.

Seriously. Somebody just shoot me.

Please.

.

09 September 2008

Stairwells: A Rant

I just got back from a little jaunt around the Gorgeous Office Building (GOB) where my little department of FPU is located. I took my little jaunt in the interests of NOT taking part in the general obesity epidemic that appears to be sweeping much of the developed world - i.e., I got off my fat ass and got some exercise - and in the spirit of getting some exercise, I also took the stairs - up and down - instead of the elevator.

Well. Lemme tell ya. GOB has some seriously uninspirational stairwells.

They're narrow. They're kinda stuffy. Some walls are painted, some are not. There's carpet here, but not over there. There's graffiti in spots. Not the sort of place that makes you want to come back.

Not that this is news to me - I take the stairs all the time (well, down, anyway...), so I'm pretty familiar with their uninviting nature. And really, how much can one expect from a stairwell?

However, it occurred to me as I was out jaunting around GOB - which is so very pretty on the outside - that in light of the fact that most people who work in pretty office buildings sit on their asses (fat or otherwise) for most of the day, wouldn't it be in the interest of public health to encourage people to take the stairs so they increase the amount of exercise they're getting and decrease their personal contribution to the obesity epidemic?

The sorry state of the stairwells is not helping this cause.

Why not make the stairs a place one would actually want to be? Why not make them pretty, like the rest of the building? Why not make them interesting? Why not make them spiral or weave or soar over a pretty atrium with plants and a waterfall? Why not sprinkle them with lovely landings here and there, with trendy couches and chairs and poofs, so people will actually want to visit them? Why not make them a destination in their own right?

OK, OK - this is pie in the sky, sure, and stairwells serve other purposes, such as acting as a tornado shelter, a fact I am intimately familiar with, having spent several hours in one last spring as a very violent storm screamed by outside.... So GOBs will always have to have those interior, uninspiring stairwells.

But still.

Why not make a pretty set of stairs an option, at least?

It just might help. Ya never know.

.

06 September 2008

Pizza. From Scratch.

Yup. Got a bee in my bonnet for homemade pizza. Homemade stuffed crust pizza.

The girls had cheese:

The Husband had pepperoni and mushroom:

I had Everything:


Yup. It don't get no better than that.


.

05 September 2008

Grant Hell: A New Nightmare

And just when I thought things were going so well...

I've got a pretty good handle on the grant thing by now.

  • R01's? I can do 'em in my sleep.
  • K series? A few extra details, but no big deal.
  • DOD-BCRP? Details galore, so they're a pain in the ass, but I've done enough of them by now that I know how to head off the worst of their gremlins.

And, really, I knew better than to believe Boss Lady when she told me in July that the endometrial cancer grant was the last one for the year. I did. And sure enough, we're submitting TWO this month. (TWO!!)

But she managed to blindside me anyway. With a monstrous beast known as a Training Grant.

It is colossal. It has fangs. It has teeth. It is due on the 29th.

This means I will be eating, sleeping, dreaming, breathing Training Grant for the next 3 weeks.

Oh, the happiness. Oh, the joy. Oh, the glory of offering myself up as a sacrifice to such beasts.

Gah!

.

04 September 2008

Vampire Red

Call me juvenile. Call me an adolescent throwback. Call me having a mid-life crisis.

I don't care. I did it anyway.

Yes, yes - I went to Manic Panic. I ordered Vampire Red hair dye.

I just can't stand it anymore.

There are too many rules here. Too much "clean your desk off, we have Important People visiting the office tomorrow". Too much wear the right clothes, wear the right shoes, drive the right car, toe the line, be on time, smile pretty, be polite and helpful and pleasant to everyone, especially the people who deserve it least.

I've had enough.

I must rebel.

I must.

.

03 September 2008

Lab Rat

I almost was one. I was this close: ||.

But then I thought I should probably tell them that Ms. Baby is still breastfeeding (yes, she just turned two and yes, she's still breastfeeding and no, I don't plan to wean her until she's good and ready. so there. :D) and as it turns out, breastfeeding women do not make good endometrial tissue sample donors.

Bummer. Bigtime, 'cuz they would have paid me $200/sample and I could have donated up to six samples, and that would have covered the launch of my freelance medical editing gig very nicely. With room to spare, probably.

OK, I would have earned that $200 every single time, because I don't think endometrial tissue donation is, like, a really pleasant experience, involving as it does a speculum up your wa-zoo and dilation of your cervix... But hey - I survived two labors with no meds, so I think I probably could have hacked it. I mean, really, how long can it take? Not more than 10 minutes, 15 tops. Piece o' cake.

Anyway, I must now re-think how I'm going to finance the 'big ticket item' - the website. It's essential, given that most of my clients will have to find me via the Internet and I know better than to fart around and slap some half-assed, ill-thought-out, 'temporary' site together.

I've been there. I've done that. It ain't worth it.

You just end up doing it all over again. So I'm not going there. I do, however, need something up and running in time for the AMWA conference in October.

I suppose I could dip into my savings. I hate to. But it might be necessary...

Rats.

.

26 August 2008

Crank It Up

It never fails to amaze me when I'm driving along in the car, minding my own business, Song of the Day cranked up as loud as I can take it, and suddenly

BAM!

I get fwapped on the head by the huge-est of epiphanies about a story I thought I knew inside out.

It happened again this morning.

Now just yesterday I had the huge-est of epiphanies that this particular Song of the Day (Viva La Vida by Cold Play, of all bands...!) is NOT about the character I thought it was, but about someone else entirely and makes so much more sense that way. So I was not expecting another huge epiphany, not so soon after the other one.

But there I was, squinting through the pre-dawn dark made even darker by the blessed rain that dear ol' Fay has delivered (it hasn't rained here in a month), Song of the Day cranked up really, really loud - like, loud enough that I could feel the drum bit reverberating in my chest. And as I'm sitting there, squinting and cursing my windshield wipers for not moving fast enough to keep up with the rain, the Back of my Mind is chewing on the lyrics of Song of the Day (played over and over and over) as they apply to the proper character and her personal history (violent, bloody, vengeful - oh, but she is fun!) and out the blue (well, the blue-black - it was painfully early) comes this:

It was the Norn who built the Temples, the Han had nothing to do with them.

And in the background is this character peering at me with the tiniest of amused little grins as if she has known this all along and has been withholding the information merely so she could amuse herself by surprising me with it like this. (She's almost as bad as Lars, this one.)

Anyway, I am fairly blown away, because it was one of those sticky little back story things about the history of Imbue (the world where my fantasy stories take place) that I could never quite figure out how to fit togther with the time of Novel #1. And it's just SO COOL because it fits so perfectly with what I already know and it solves the problem of how I could never make the Han mythology fit with the Temple/Tower complex because it doesn't.

*sigh*

Anyway, it just goes to show, that if you crank the tunes loud enough, everything works itself out eventually.

.

19 August 2008

Back to School

It's funny the way the brain works. Sometimes it's in Create Mode -- that's when I'm writing -- and sometimes, like now, it's in Sponge Mode.

Sponge Mode is just what it sounds like -- the brain just wants to soak up everything it encounters. Eventually, it will get saturated and things will start to drip out. In other words, we'll be back to Create Mode. :D

For the moment, though, I'm a thirsty sponge. So thirsty, in fact, that as I mentioned before, I signed up for a class at FPU, a class in Human Genetics, a graduate level class, come to that (eep!). I'll be in way over my head, no doubt, but that's OK. That's where I've been with almost every manuscript I've edited over the last 5 years. I'm used to it.

But on top of that, I'm doing the homework for the statistics workshop I'll be taking in October and I'm peeking at the epidemiology textbook I have every once in a while and I'm still working my way through Holly Lisle's Clinics...

So this morning I realized that, essentially, I've got a full course load this fall: Human Genetics, Statistics, Epidemiology and Creative Writing.

With all that going on, it won't surprise me in the least if the brain fills up and starts overflowing in a couple of weeks -- I'll be itching to write and won't be able to because of all this incoming stuff!

Just figures, don't it?

.

17 August 2008

Yes, I'm Alive

Too busy to even think about having anything to say, but here's what's been shakin' the last few weeks:

  • School started.
  • My parents came to visit.
  • Ms. Beautiful, her daughter and her still-in-utero twin sons visited.
  • I signed up for a workshop and registered for this year's medical writers conference.
  • I tried not to faint when I saw the charge for the conference on my credit card statement.
  • All the visitors left.
  • I signed up for a class (a class! what am i thinking?) at FPU.
  • OK, I'm auditing a class at FPU (which proves that I'm not totally crazy).
  • We watched lots of Olympics. I mean, LOTS.
  • Oh, and we cleaned the house yesterday (since it was starting to fester).

And I have done zippo as far as writing.

Boo, hiss. I had great plans and that synopsis was really starting to gel and then illness had a party with obligation and it got all set aside for 'some other time', preferably one when I wasn't exhausted, covered with vomit and/or supposed to be doing Something of Critical Importance to the Fate of the World (the world of my family, anyway).

I don't expect I'll get back to writing before the end of the Olympics, because they come on during my 'writing time' and they only come around every 4 years and I'll be damned if I'm gonna miss something amazing just because one of my characters is having a moment. So there.

.

09 August 2008

Happy Birthday, Ms. Baby!


She turns two today (at 11:45 pm to be exact). I like two. They can talk enough to make themselves understood and 90% of what they say is just so damn cute you want to write it all down so it will be preserved for all eternity (but, of course, you can't because the minute you turn your back, they've emptied the supposedly child-proofed bathroom cabinet and started taste testing your soap collection...).

We'll have cake and ice cream tomorrow, since everybody's too exhausted (and germy) from the last bout of Childhood Illness 101 to even open presents today (OK, yeah - or even to wrap presents today...), and being two, Ms. Baby won't really know the difference. But we did sing Happy Birthday to her and she thought that was pretty cool.

Here's to many more, squirt!

.

Holly Lisle's husband has a really excellent article up on The Escapist website about the Adventure Known as Parenting.

It's really well written - clever and funny - so check it out (because I said so...).

.

08 August 2008

God Fucking Dammit!

Apologies for that name in vain thing. Apologies for the four letter word thing. Apologies for nothing else.

I. Am. Pissed.

Ms. Six is sick. AGAIN. AGAIN!

She puked all night and is now running a scary-high fever. I have calls in to all known RNs in the family. And I have calls in to all mothers and mothers-in-law. And I have calls in to her pediatrician. And...

Wait just a fucking second.

Didn't we JUST fucking go through this, like, two weeks ago??!??!!!

Oh, yeah. Yeah, we did.

Fucking. A.

WHY does this keep happening? WHY are my kids CONSTANTLY sick?

If this were happening to me, I'd be taking it as a sure sign that something in my life was out of balance and that I needed to change it. So am I being a horrible mother? A horrible housekeeper? Am I feeding them horribly wrong? Am I horrible person for working and not staying home so I can keep them out of daycare where every nasty fucking germ on the fucking planet seems to hang out?

GGGrrrrrrarrrahhh!

Who knows. Maybe childhood illnesses are not subject to philisophical meaderings and I should just suck it the fuck up.

.

07 August 2008

Time Warp

I just spent an hour looking at photos from my high school's 20th reunion.

I didn't go. And I think I'm glad.

Well, sorta. It would have been neat seeing some of those people. But it would have been heartbreaking seeing others. (And, quite possibly, as annoying as it ever was to see the rest.)

All in all, though, it was just really shocking.

I mean, crikey - who WERE all those fat, old people??? (and somebody please, please, please tell me I'm not one of them...)

*pants, clutches chest*

OK, OK - I'm overreacting. I know I shouldn't be, but it was... disturbing... to go from this image I had of people - an image from 20 years ago - to these gray-haired, pot-bellied folk. I didn't even recognize most of them. A few here and there, I could come up with names for, but the rest melded into a sea of vaguely familiar faces.

What stood out were the smiles. The smiles and the eyes. Those were the two things that went whizzing into the dark reaches of my brain and connected with something, and then the something triggered something else somewhere that went "Oh! I should know that person..." And then I'd squint at the name tag, curse the photographer for putting the word 'Proof' right in the middle of what I needed to see, and sometimes figure it out and sometimes not.

I don't suppose it would be quite as shocking, had I had any contact with these people over the last 20 years. But I'm not good at that. In some ways, I see my past as a prison, and once you escape a prison or have served your time, why would you go back?

Makes me wonder what I'll do when the next one of these shindigs comes around.

.

17 July 2008

It's All About Timing

Poor Ms. Six is still sick, still puking, and still hasn't eaten anything since Tuesday.

Ms. Baby, not surprising given her general take on life, has picked TODAY to rekindle her interest in potty training.

So my morning has gone something like this:

"Mama?!" calls a querelous voice from the couch. "My tummy doesn't feel good."

This is the signal. I abandon the work-work I'm trying to do and dash over, grab the bowl and assume the position (holding the bowl before a crouching Ms. Six whilst attempting to keep her hair out if it).

Ms. Six starts dry heaving (nothing in there to come up really).

Ms. Baby, who in the meantime has hauled her potty out into the living room, decides this would be the perfect time to come show everybody that she has managed to remove her shorts and diaper all by herself so she can practice potty-sitting. As a bonus, she pulls up her shirt to show off her belly button.

So there I am, torn - do I congratulate and encourage the budding potty-user or do I soothe and reassure the poor, puking Ms. Six.

Tough decision. I went with a cursory 'that's very nice' to Ms. Baby's belly button and then turned back to Ms. Six, since it was hard to make myself heard over the heaving anyway.

I know. You didn't really wanna know that.

Neither did I, actually.

.

16 July 2008

So.... This is Crazy-ville...

Last Saturday, according to my receipt, I purchased a book of 'Forever' stamps at my local post office. I mailed two things that had been sitting around waiting for me to find the time to get to the post office and buy some stamps.

Then I put the stamps in 'a safe place'.

And now I can't find them.

Which is driving me mad, because I have something else I need to mail.

...waaaaait a second...

Yep. Just found 'em. Right where I had looked at least SIX TIMES.

Frickin' stamp fairies. I tell ya...

.

15 July 2008

Attempting to Catch My Coincidences

Well, it's about time for a post, non?

OK, it's past time - kids are sick, work is nutso, etc.

And coincidences are coming out of the woodwork.

Event 1: Best college girl friend sent me a birthday card last week and we started emailing (after an embarassingly long hiatus). Turns out she's ended up doing much the same thing as I am -- editing for non-native English speakers (although she's in economics whoo-haa, rather than biomedical whoo-haa).

Event 2: Not so much an event as the general atmosphere of disorganized bureaucratic clutter at FPU lately has been approaching the itchy side of intolerable. I'm getting fairly burnt out on it.

Event 3: One task set out for the Impending Vacation is to write up the content for my freelance website. I did some of that today, since I was stuck at home mopping up vomit (again) and therefore found it difficult to concentrate on actual work stuff and decided: what the hell, I'll just take an effing sick day.

Event 4: Into my email inbox drops a reminder that if I want to attend the local chapter meeting of the medical writer/editor professional association I belong to, the deadline is Friday. One of the workshops they're offering is 'Business Aspects of a Freelance Career'.

Huh.

I get the feeling the universe is trying to tell me something. :D

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08 July 2008

Vacation Blues

So we - well, I - don't get to escape The South this year. Again.

The Husband has no appreciation for what I will suffer for this. At all. Never having been made to live someplace he despises, he can't seem to get his mind around it. Plus, he grew up here, so he can't see that the place has any faults.

I, naturally, can see pretty much only the faults.

Which sounds like I'm being overly negative, I suppose, but other than my job at FPU and the fact that I can justify a swimming pool, there just isn't much to recommend the place in my book.

And I don't even want to think about all the things I'll have to wait another year before I can see/taste/feel again.

*wails, dies*

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03 July 2008

Check-In: Big, Fun, Scary Adventure Challenge

So, it's July, which means we're 6 months into this year's Big, Fun, Scary Adventure Challenge.

It's time to check in and see how Bethanie is progressing. Or isn't progressing. As the case may be.

Here's the list. And how I'm doing with it.

  1. Complete and submit one short story. This was on the list? Er... really? Heh-heh... Well, I do have a couple stories in the works. One I actually looked at last week. But it's not finished. And the other one is finished, but doesn't resemble a short story so much as it does a sumo wrestler in a string bikini... *sigh* I have such trouble writing short... So yeah, bit of work yet to do on this front.

  2. Learn to speak rudimentary but passable Chinese (Mandarin, I guess, even though everyone I work with is from Shanghai). Here I have actual progress to report! I've got a couple of co-workers teaching me words here and there, and Chik-fil-A was handing out language CDs a couple months ago. We (OK, Ms. Six) got the Chinese one and I've been listening to it on the way to work. I could probably say a couple of things, if pressed. Or bribed with enough coffee or chocolate.

  3. Learn to read/write/vaguely recognize 50 Chinese characters, plus the numbers 1-100. Fifty!?! Did I say 'fifty'? Crikey. I thought I said 20... well, I have learned a FEW... maybe 10 or so, several of which I use regularly because they're people's names. Hmmm... more work to do, I think...

  4. Complete a first revision of either NaNo 2005 (the vampire thing) or NaNo 2006 (the fantasy thing). Ha-ha-hahahhahaha! Well, naturally, I'm in the thick of Revision Hell, but not on either of these... But I figure the experience of completing a revision is the important thing, and at least, I've started on that.

  5. Teach myself some basic biostatistics (since I can't afford to take a class). At least complete one read-through of the $60 biostats book I bought myself for Christmas (I did mention being dorky, didn't I?). Well, if you didn't think I was nerdy before... yes, making progress here. Frighteningly enough, this project is turning out to be easier than expected. I guess, I've learned more than I thought possible in the last 5 years, so the biostats book is more enlightening than daunting. It's like a fill-in-the-blank test, where I already know what all the blanks are, and have to fill in the surrounding text. If that makes any sense...

  6. Teach myself some basics about protein structure (since I can't afford to take a class) by reading online molecular biology textbooks available through PubMed (since I can't afford to buy the $120 book I want). Well... I did get a hold of a book through interlibrary loan and copied some sections. Haven't actually had the time to read them, though.

  7. Complete 20 more plates in my Anatomy Coloring Book (this may sound lame, but you have no idea how hard it is to do this stuff with a husband, 2 kids, a full time job, and a house to look after). Alas! Haven't time for coloring either.


Well, I'm doing better than I thought! That's something! Guess I'll be taking the Anatomy Coloring book on vacation. It should certainly help kill a few of those long hours in the car, if nothing else...

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30 June 2008

A Flat-Iron, A Catch-22 and a Bit of Miscellanea

The Flat-Iron

This synopsis stuff is hard work. Not that I expected it to be easy, mind.

But yes, I’m still at it. I did a bit of homework on what a ‘real’ (to be submitted to somebody) synopsis should be, and what I did last week is not nearly as done as I thought it was. But – shockingly – I think it’s actually going pretty well.

It was a hectic weekend, so I wasn’t able to devote a lot of time to it – not as much as I wanted to by any means, but enough that I managed to have another Revelation.

Er, no, the Axe did not get happy and whack another hapless character from the plot (lucky characters). It wasn’t really a Plot Revelation so much as it was a Process Revelation.

See, I’m always struggling with the Big Picture. All my life, I’ve been climbing things – trees, mountains, cliffs, icefalls – in an attempt to gain some perspective. And my lack of perspective (or inability to gain any) when it comes to fiction is, I think, the main cause of the ginormous bowls of plot spaghetti I end up with upon finishing a first draft.

I’ve tried all kinds of things to get there. Index cards (one for each scene). Outlines (which get ignored by my characters). 3-D models (don’t ask).

These all sound like great ideas, and they probably work for a lot of people. But they haven’t clicked for me.

A synopsis, however, might be the thing that does.

Why? Well, for one thing, synopses have to be written according to certain rules. One of these rules is that they are always written in '3rd person omniscient POV'. So if I play by this rule, writing a synopsis forces my focus to stay at a certain level. In other words, I don’t get sucked into some devious little character’s head and hopelessly sidetracked, because for a change, I’m not in anybody's head but mine, the storyteller.

As I'm writing this synopsis, the plot spaghetti is actually starting to untangle, sub-plot threads are connecting to each other, places to foreshadow later events are appearing. The plot spaghetti is, in fact, looking less like an ugly snarl in unkempt hair and more like ultra-curly hair that's had a flat-iron taken to it - maybe a bit kinky here and there, but overall, much better behaved.

So, long-term, I can see my writing process developing into something like this: it starts with some kind of loose (very loose) outline-ish thing, then a rough draft, then some filling in of plot holes, then a sudden and wrenching recognition of plot spaghetti, followed by some despair - then application of the flat-iron in the form of a synopsis, a sigh of relief, and then… well, whatever comes after that. :-D

The Catch-22

Now this version of the synopsis that I’m working on right now is mainly just for my use. I’m not really writing it to please anyone but me.

Presumably, however, I’ll use it someday when I submit the (revised, polished, proofread) manuscript to a real, honest-to-goodness publisher or agent. And that leaves me with the amateur question (that only I can answer, I’m sure): how much detail is too much? Take the following passage, for example:

The next day, Luci travels as far as Chung-lon by way of the Temple’s Tower, a strange building that only women can enter. The floor of the Tower’s Map Room is a mosaic map of Imbue that, if used properly, can transport an adept from one location to another.

Something screams at me that this is way too much detail and wants it re-written so it goes something like:

Halfway on her journey South, Luci stops in the city of Chung-lon.

Which one is better? For clarity and simplicity and get-to-the-damn-point-already-ness, clearly the second one.

But.

I’m a fantasy writer. If I don’t show some of the nifty fantasy details I’ve created, what the hell’s the point? Plus, the Tower and what it can do are important story elements later on. So I'm inclined to stick with the first version, even when I submit it.

Not that it matters greatly for the purposes of this synopsis, but what would you do?

Miscellanea

We got a pool!!

Never, ever did I see myself purchasing a pool - too expensive and too much fuss. But hey, Wally-world has good-sized pools with filters for a hundred bucks and frankly, when you live this far south of the M-DL and don't have a pool, you live in the bowels of Hell. And since The Husband just adores futzing with chemicals and mechanical doo-dads, I said, "Eh, why not!"

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27 June 2008

Synops-oops

Synopsis.

Since I still felt like shit last night, that was my Revision Hell project. Try to come up with a synopsis of the story. To help keep me on track, yanno, and give me The Big Picture so I wouldn't get all dazed and confused by the details. Plus, I needed something I could stick bits of the hacked out character into. (My, that sounds sort of gruesome, if you think about it...)

Well.

Three failed attempts later (I kept coming up with back-of-the-book blurbs - not helpful), I finally got... something. I don't know that I can call it a synopsis, because honestly, I haven't done my homework on how to write a decent synopsis, but I think it'll do what I need it to do for now.

*sigh*

At least, I'm feeling better today. That really IS something.

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26 June 2008

Grinding the Axe

Must keep it sharp, doncha know...

So yesterday was something of a bust for Revision Hell, because - of course, story of my life whenever I start a writing project - I got sick. Again.

By the time the kids were in bed, all I wanted to do was go to bed myself. I did manage to chop out the several chapters that were in the axed character's POV, so I got the manuscript down to 64K. Then I pasted in a couple of scenes for one of the characters who will be shouldering part of the story in his place, so I'm up to 65K.

And then I called it a night, because my throat was sore, I had bodyaches, and my head was starting to feel distinctly balloon-like.

I'm still not feeling that great, so it's good it's a work-at-home day. If I really start feeling bad, I can lay on the couch and I won't be infecting co-workers with whatever-the-fuck this is. :-p

Anyway, the plan for this evening is to work out what other scenes I'm going to need to make up for the axed POV and, if I'm up for it, do some work on the character arc for my martial arts princess. That'll be occupying the back 40 of the brain for the day.

Unless I get knocked down for the count. Glory, but I hate germs.

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25 June 2008

The Axe of Hell

Day One of Revision Hell went surprisingly well. I am shocked, in fact, at how well.

Not only did I wield the Plot Spaghetti/Bullshit Pruning Axe with a ruthlessness I had no idea I possessed, but I had A Revelation. A sad revelation, but a revelation nonetheless.

But let me start at the beginning.

First, I discovered that I had already lopped off the last two-thirds of Novel #1 back in January when I had the original realization that the story was too big for one book. Yay! I was down to 86K already - yahoo!

Then, as I was thinking about the story (whilst making spaghetti for supper - how ironic is that?), some little bits of story drifted into some bits of things I've learned about writing in the last 6 months, there was a gentle collision and then BANG! - the Revelation exploded into my brain.

A major character has to be cut.

Ouch.

Double ouch, 'cuz he's one of my favorites. One of my darlings, in fact. And now I'm embarrassed, because I can't remember who said 'Kill your darlings'...

But anyway, he has to go. This isn't his story. It's his sister's story and while he's important to the overall saga, it isn't necessary to shift the focus to him at this point in it. The things that he does that are really important come later on -- in Book Two and Book Three.

So that was great, but left me with the problem of how to tell the parts of the story that are currently being told from his POV. There's a bunch of Important Stuff that needs to be planted about him in Book One - how do I do that, now that he's been pushed to the periphery of the story? By bedtime, I was frustrated by failing to figure this out and ready to give up on the whole idea.

At 3AM Ms. Baby came to the rescue.

Yes, Ms. Baby, who had conveniently refused to eat much of anything for supper; Ms. Baby who woke up hungry and demanded a "nack" (snack). As I was sitting there waiting patiently as she ate her string cheese, eyes closed so as not to interact and thereby, hopefully, ensure that she'd go back to sleep, I got it.

I can see the bits and pieces of Important Stuff that need to be woven in and I can see whose POV I'll need to use to do it. Yahoo.

So, all in all, Day One as the Mistress of my own Hell was pretty productive. And I'm actually looking forward to Day Two. Which is probably a mistake.

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24 June 2008

Welcome to Hell

Revision Hell, That Is

So Joely's hosting Revision Hell between now and July 31st... well, not "hosting" per se... but... well... yanno, it was her idea! So I'm nominating her as Hell's Hostess. :-D

Here are my personal Circles of Novel Hell:

Polish ('til it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building...)
Circle I Limbo

Add Details, Emotion and Other Pretty Things
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Villian Boot Camp
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Cardboard Cut-Out Characters
Circle IV Rolling Weights

I'll-Finish-It-Later Scenes
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

Character Arcs That Don't
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Pruning Dead Limbs
Circle VII Burning Sands

Plot Spaghetti
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Plot Holes
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell



The Goal: Revise something. For me that'll be Novel #1. Why? Well, mostly because I can hardly make it worse. Eh-heh.

OK, I know, I know - I need to be more specific than that. Ahem. Let's try that again.

The Goal (Take 2): Take the 176,663 words/374 pages (single-spaced...yes, really) of plot spaghetti and hack it down to 100,000, whilst filling in the blanks and smoothing over the jagged edges.

The Plan: That's not as ambitious as it looks, actually, since I finally realized I'm going to need three books to tell the story and - lo and behold - once I realized that, the three parts fell into place with a very satisfactory whump!. So the cutting part should be easy, 'cuz I'm just gonna hack off the bits after the end of the first bit (the last two-thirds of what I have) and stick it in a new file called Books_Two_and_Three.

After that, the real work begins, the most crucial part of which will be getting that all important Character Arc established for my martial arts mistress of a Princess and her drug addict of a Prince Charming. And then I'll get all my little Villian ducks in a row and slap 'em.

I figure I can manage about 2 pages or about 1000 words of editing a day. That's not a lot, but I'm going to be realistic. We've got holidays. We've got grant deadlines. We've got vacations to The Homeland (which involves a 2-day car ride - one way, ouch - which might be good editing time - let's hope so).

So probably, I won't get all the way through a full edit. But I'll get a good start. And that'll be cool!

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19 June 2008

Coincidence? Probably.

So I'm reading this book: Genghis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World. It's fascinating, and somewhere in there is a discussion about the Mongol religion -- part of which involves a diety of sorts called the Eternal Blue Sky.

Cool, thinks I.

I mention to one of our postdocs, who happens to be from Mongolia, that I'm reading this book. We proceed to have this long discussion about the Mongol invasion and how everywhere she's worked over the years - Afganistan, Pakistan, Russia, Egypt - people still remember how their homeland was conquered by Genghis Kahn (or, as she says, Chingis Kahn).

And then she goes back to her cube, and I finish submitting the paper she came to ask me about in the first place. Then I email her to let her know and she emails back and says something to the effect of 'now we just have to pray to the Blue Sky Father (or the God) that it gets accepted'.

Now that may be a literal translation of the Christian 'God' or it may be that people in Mongolia still have the same dieties as Genghis Kahn. I don't know, but whatever.

That's pretty cool, thinks I.

Yesterday The Husband comes home and says, 'You probably won't let me, but can I go to Durango next week.'

Durango. As in Durango, Colorado. Home to a bit of the Great Big Sky, one of the things I miss most about living Way Out West.

For one brief, beautiful moment, I thought, 'Hey! I could go, too!'

That'd be So Cool!, thinks I.

And surely, it was all meant to be, given the other occurences of Big Beautiful Sky in the last week and the fact that I don't believe in coincidence - yahoo!

And then I remembered that I'm not 27 anymore and can't just take off at the drop of a hat for a road trip, 'cuz I have a job and kids and a house and a car payment and stuff.

So, yeah. Probably it's all just a coincidence.

Bummer, that.

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