Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday. Today stinks so bad I could cry.

Today started out great. I was all psyched up to write, since I wouldn't be able to work on the deck. First thing I had to do was balance the checkbook. I handled that like a pro, and moved on to the internets. I got all my email and things sorted and squared away, and then was ready to sit down and write. Yay!

Then the guy painting my house showed up and said we'd need more paint. Could I run out to Lowe's again and buy a few more gallons? Gah! So I did. That's three trips to Lowe's in six days. I'm really getting sick of that place. Turns out, I need to go back AGAIN and buy one more gallon. I could have cried.

Then we have a serious bit of drama going on with a friend of mine who has escalated a minor passing disagreement into a federal case. It has eaten a large part of my day, and filled me with distress. That's all I'll say about it here, but let it be known that it really eats at me that anyone who has a problem with me doesn't just say so to my face, but runs around and causes problems for all kinds of other people because of it. I'm not stupid, and we are not children. If you have a problem with me, just tell me, darn it! Don't run off and tattle to others, please.

Then, I had to run off to chorus practice, where a friend and I rehashed all that drama yet again. When we were done, I checked my email real quick, and realized I'd heard back from the agent who has my full manuscript. She rejected it, but with some very insightful advice, which I'm taking into consideration, and planning a whole rewrite of the first novel. Which means I'll have to trash most of the second novel, as well. The revisions she suggested, which mostly consists of bringing the two main characters together romantically, happens in book two, and that's about half the story line of the second novel. What they go through makes them realize they belong together. If I have to move all that to book one, I'll have to completely rewrite both books. And the third book I'm working on right now should basically just sit and go unwritten for now, if the first two books are going to undergo that much change. Pointless to keep writing it until the first two novels are rewritten. Right?

Not even wearing my pink shoes could keep me from wallowing in the doldrums today.

Damn Cheerful Shoes

No, not even these puppies could cheer me up after all that. I can't wait for Tim to wake up, so I can ask him what he thinks about all of this. I don't know whether to be happy to get so much great revision advice, or to cry because of just how much work will go to waste if I take it.

Then again, it's good advice. If I don't take it, I might never get published at all. And then EVERY SINGLE BIT of work will have been wasted, technically. Who the heck knows? I certainly don't.

I've decided to wait until tomorrow to make any decisions on what to do now. I've also decided not to cry, which is an improvement. Glad I had this chance to share.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What the heck was I thinking? (Part 1)

There are people who refinish decks for a living. They make good money. There is an excellent reason for that.

I tried to save all that good money by choosing to refinish our deck myself. All I can say is, "OW!"

I have splinters, blisters, and I think I'm developing carpal tunnel syndrome. It's freaking HARD to paint all those stupid little balusters! I think I am going to start an "I Hate Balusters" group.

I got the entire "upper level" of the deck's railings painted, including the back stairs, and part of the front porch railings and steps done. I still haven't even started on the floor of the deck, which is getting a different treatment than the railings. I could cry.

We decided to start this huge project last week because Tim was off work. We figured it wouldn't take more than a week to pressure wash and stain the whole deck. HAH!!! We didn't count on the bad weather postponing our work for two days. So now, he's back at work, and all the staining is falling to me. I haven't been writing yesterday, and I won't get to it today either. I have essentially put all that on hold until I get the deck finished. I have two days in a row of good weather, so I have to run out and pick up another gallon of paint for the railings.

There's no point in trying to write until all the physical work is done, though. I spent 8 hours on it yesterday, and the sooner it's done, the better the world will be. I have to take advantage of the good weather, because we're expecting rain on Wednesday. If I can get this all done by tomorrow night, I'll be so happy! At least the physical work is tiring me out enough to sleep at night, despite the book screaming at me in my head. It's better than the alternative, which is to try to keep writing in my exhausted state and have the story make no sense whatsoever. I'm afraid I'll have to start all the way back at the beginning again, because the choppy work I've done on it so far still leaves me confused when I sit down to write again. I forget what I've already written, and I'm worried it's repeating stuff, or leaving stuff out that needs to be there. And the plot line has completely fallen apart in my head. It's sad. I'm 40 pages in, and the damned thing has already derailed.

I hate balusters.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How odd, an award!

I was tagged by T.Z. Wallace for a happy little blog award. Since no one has ever bestowed such a thing upon me before, I thought it might be fun to answer the questions she posed, and repeat the process for anyone who stumbles across this post and wants to continue the happy randomness.

For anyone who wants to play along, here are the rules:

The Tag rules:

You must post the rules.
Answer the questions and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
Tag your award winners and link to them.
Let them know you’ve tagged them.

I'm just going to answer the eleven questions T.Z. posted, and create eleven new questions. Anyone who wants to answer my questions, please feel free, and let me know what your answers are, too!

  1. What book character do you had a crush on?  Harry Dresden. The poor guy, he's always in trouble, but he handles it the best he can.
  2. What was the last book that made you cry? I reread Lord of the Rings every winter, and it ALWAYS makes me cry. How sad is that?
  3. What scenes are the hardest for you to write? Anything sexy. I always feel like it comes across as awkward and uncomfortable. Plus, my mom might read that! Ick!
  4. Are you superstitious about your writing methods, or do you have any rituals regarding your writing? No, not really.
  5. Do you listen to music when writing, or do you have to have silence? Often, I prefer to have the TV on with the volume turned down low in the background. I can listen to music, but it has to be consistent (not my daughter's chorus practice, but actual recorded music). I just like to not feel "alone" when I write.
  6. What book antagonist do you love to hate?  That's too hard! So many deserve our righteous hatred! :)
  7. What is the last  book that you stayed up ridiculously late to finish reading? Hit List, by L.K. Hamilton
  8. When was the last time that you waited in line for a book release? I don't think I ever have. I have a Kindle, so I get things downloaded automatically on release day. The last author I stood in line to meet was Clive Barker. What a nice man! ;)
  9. What book(s) is/are currently on your bedside table? Timeless, by Gail Carriger (no matter what I do, I can't seem to find the time to get started on it. Tim goes back to work tonight, so maybe I'll actually get it read now!)
  10. What is your "guilty pleasure" book that you read and re-read? Guilty Pleasures (and the whole Anita Blake series). I thought that was an appropriate answer.
  11. How comfortable are you calling yourself "a writer/" I write, so I'm a writer. I write things more involved than grocery lists and memos to my daughter's teachers. I still haven't figured out when I'll feel like an "Author" as opposed to a "writer."

Questions I will pose to the world (feel free to answer if you wish, either in the comments or linked back here):

  1. What fictional character's special abilities would you like to have, and what would you do with them?
  2. What author would you like to have a one-on-one chat with, and what would you ask them?
  3. If you could become any animal at will, what would it be and why? 
  4. If you were offered an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
  5. What do you do when you're stuck on a plot line? Do you have some specific activity to get yourself back on track or clear your head?
  6. How do you reconnect with the story after a day or two away from writing?
  7. What is the last book you read that made you run out and tell everyone you know about it?
  8. If told you could only eat one food item for this entire week, what would it be?
  9. What TV show are you embarrassed to admit you love, but you wouldn't miss it for the world?
  10. Do you have any tattoos? If yes, why? If no, why not?
  11. What's the first thing you do when you sit down at the computer to write?
Well, that was fun! I hope someone wants to answer my questions.

As far as my writing goes, I didn't get a lot done yesterday, because we were out selling Girl Scout cookies. We did great, with 102 boxes sold in three hours, and an additional $40 in donations! Wow! Thanks people, that was remarkably generous of you all! You're helping girls and the USO all at the same time! Good on you!

I think I need to lay off the exclamations!

Words: 11,457
Pages:  40

And we have sun outside, so I'm probably going to waste another day trying to get the deck finished. I can always write after dark, which seems to work better for me on the current book anyway. So far it's daytime in the story, but it's kind of a dark, dreary day for my poor characters, and it's hard to get into that when it's lovely and sunny outside here. Especially when I'm pressed to get the stupid deck painted.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More stuff and things...

And just enough snow to wet the deck so we can't paint the blasted thing AGAIN! Maybe we'll have it done by summer time at this rate.

We finally took the last boxes of Christmas decorations back to the garage. They'd been clogging up the guest room floor for months, and it's good to get them out of the way at long last. Now I just have to get the rest of the junk out of that room, and then maybe we'll be able to have actual guests! It's still home to the air hockey table and our violin stuff, but at this rate, that will all be in there forever. If only I had time to actually play the violin more often, it might actually be worth it to leave it set up that way.

I planned to sit down and write again today, but it hasn't happened yet. I swear it WILL happen though. We have a cookie booth this afternoon, and I plan to take the laptop with me. Hopefully I can get something done there. I don't think anyone will complain if there's an active intellectual pursuit going on at a GS cookie booth. Maybe it'll even attract some customers. Who knows?

I did manage to write some last night. I forgot Lulu had a school dance, and between driving her to the dance and then returning an hour and a half later to pick her up, I had a total of fifteen minutes during which I could write. Of course, I didn't bother. I ended up playing games on my cell phone instead. Not the responsible adult thing to do, but I don't care. I ended up with a handful of new words, and some edited stuff to boot for yesterday.

Words: 10,253
Pages: 35

 So I finally broke into five digits on the word count. I was so pleased to see it. Anyway, I'm off to the word races again. I've got an hour and a half before I have to go fetch the cookies...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Two days in a row.

Two days in a row without a significant accumulation of new words on the page. And I didn't even blog yesterday. I was busy. But today, the weather has conspired against me. It rained, so I can't work on the deck. You can't stain wet wood. We're supposed to have 60 mph gusts of wind today, so I figure the whole house will get a good blow-drying and we'll be able to get back to work tomorrow outside. But tomorrow we have our first Girl Scout cookie booth at the grocery store. If you're near New Market, MD and you need cookies, come on out from 3-6 to the Food Lion and support the troop.

I also took my old desktop computer down to a friend for fixing. The hard drive died, and he's going to swap it out for a functional one. Finally I won't feel guilty hogging the laptop while I write. The happy side effect of having to deliver the computer: I got to go out to lunch! We had yummy Asian food, dumplings and bihong.

I managed to paint/stain half the deck railing, but now I have to deal with all the fiddly little posts that hold the railing up. What a PAIN! When they dry, those buggers are going DOWN! I've only got one day left with my helper monkey before he has to go back to work, and then I'll be stuck doing most of the work myself, so I am really mad at the weather for being all wet today. The helper monkey is lying on the couch at the moment, watching old reruns of game shows. Not the best use of our time, really, but fun.

I managed to edit the previous chapter I wrote the other day, and made it a little better, but I'm just having such a hard time getting this story to congeal. I think part of it was taking a long weekend off when I went camping, and then being distracted by all the work around the house this week. It's been a bad kind of week for writing. Tim's been off work, and I feel sort of obligated to spend some time with him during his vacation. All this stuff is conspiring against me.

Words: 8,817 (remember, that's two days worth. Sad.)
Pages: 31

I'm hopefully going to get some real work done today. If worst comes to worst, I think I'll just take the laptop to the cookie booth with me. I can pretend I'm tracking cookie sales on it, and sit and hack away at it during lulls. We'll see how that works out...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On a roll..but unfortunately not with the book.

We finished pressure washing the deck and front porch today. It looks like a new deck! Now we have to get busy staining. There's still so much to do! To think, the huge wrap-around deck was something we liked when we bought this house. What a pain in the patootie it's become. It'll be nice for summer, though.

I wanted to start staining, but the contractor we have pressure-washing the rest of the house saw me and stopped me from doing any more. He was worried all my stain would run when he got it wet in a few minutes. So much for staining! I'll get back to it soon, but I needed a break anyway. I've been outside working for the last seven hours, minus a short break for lunch. I've got a headache from the ridiculous amount of noise two pressure washing machines can make. At least staining will be a quiet activity.

The repetitive motion of all this work is great for thinking, though. I can totally zone out from the physical work and work on plot development. Since I've just started the new book, I really need to focus on what's going on with the story. I'd like to reread what I've already written, but I think I'm sticking to the right track with my distracted musings.

I've got to go get the kid from school, completely grubbified. She'll be humiliated when she sees me, I'm sure. I'm wet from the knees down, covered with muddy spatters, and my hair's completely hat-headified.

I refused to go to bed last night until I had at least 1,000 words for the day, so I actually have an update!

Words: 8,051
Pages: 28

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spellcheck as Entertainment

Tim was reading the book I just finished, and found a spelling error. I decided to go back through and run the spell check again. I have it set to alert me when I type something it doesn't like, but sometimes even the wiggly red line isn't enough to catch my attention when I'm typing. It's not enough to get my attention when I'm editing the stupid thing six times, either, apparently.

That said, when I ran a complete spell check, I found some wonderfully entertaining replacement word suggestions. Next time I do that, I'm going to write the funnier ones down, because I have a memory like a sieve. Here is the main one I remember:

It wanted to correct "velociraptor" to "velocipede." These are two very different things. I picture a dinosaur dressed as a Victorian gentleman riding a pennyfarthing.

I also tend to make up words, or smoosh words together to make new words. Spell check doesn't like this. I can't really remember any of the suggestions it offered to replace words like "kiester" and "recombobulated," but it doesn't really matter. The fact I had to teach it to recognize "berjillion" as an acceptable word that people would understand is inherent to a conversational writing style.

My original idea for this blog post today was to report on the success of writing as a sleep aid. I managed nearly 2k words yesterday, and would have slept great, if I hadn't first woken up in the middle of the night sweating, and then again an hour later freezing cold. That's what happens when it goes from 50 degrees outside down to 20 degrees outside over the course of a few hours. The heater overcompensates to catch up to the temperature drop and roasts me. I kick off the blankets, and then an hour later, when the heater thinks it has everything under control, the basement where my bedroom is begins cooling back down faster than the upstairs does. Unfortunately, the thermostat's sensor is upstairs, so the heat doesn't kick back on when it starts to get freezy in the basement again, and I end up icing over. (And yes, freezy would be the kind of word I love, but spell check hates.)

Overall, though, writing really helped my brain rest last night. Experiment successful. I'm NEVER skipping writing again. Here's the new total:

Words: 6,815
Pages: 24

I can't tell you how good it feels to have an actual update! :) The plot is starting to come together now, and once it gets going, the writing pace really picks up.

I have a lot to do today that has nothing to do with writing, though. I've got a few errands that have to be done today, and then I have to pressure-wash and prepare the deck for staining. Big Fun! Ack. Time to get going on all the stuff I have to do, so I'll be able to write eventually today.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A weekend off is not so restful

So, I thought it would be nice to leave the laptop at home while I was camping. I knew I'd have a power source to charge the battery at our camp site, but I thought I'd just be too busy to write. I swore after I went to Florida last December I would never travel without the computer again, but apparently I forgot that lesson in two months' time. Now I think it's completely ingrained in my brain: Not writing for me is the equivalent of watching a horror movie marathon and then walking around in a dark forest without a flashlight. SCARY!!!

My imagination needs an outlet. For years, that outlet had been reading. Reading had been what kept me stable and sane. Ever since I started writing seriously (you know, producing novel-length works rather than writing down random thoughts in a blog or journal), reading does not work as my therapy anymore. In fact, I think it makes my imagination even more active now.

Writing this blog is helpful to me in organizing my thoughts, but it doesn't really let my creative mind work very hard, and it certainly isn't enough to keep me from losing it mentally, as I learned last night. I didn't really sleep well at camp. I never do. It's not in the contract. I am not there for myself, but as a chaperone for all the kids in our troop. When a girl gets up in the middle of the night with an issue, the grown-ups have to get up and help her deal with it. Not to mention the fact that we grown-ups tend to sit up late into the night chatting and preparing the activities for the following day, and then get up at dawn before the girls do to clear away our gear, shower, dress, and get ready for the day. I probably sleep in two hour increments, for a total of four hours a night, at camp. I figured I would be so exhausted last night I would sleep like a log, regardless of having tired out my imagination by writing or not. I was physically worn out, but mentally, my brain would not shut up.

Thank the heavens above my husband works nights, and is used to being up most of the night. We went to bed at a reasonable time, watched a few tv shows we'd recorded, and then turned out the lights before 2 am. And then I tossed and turned for twenty minutes before I was completely frustrated and stormed out of the room. I'd worked myself up into a fury, my brain running a mile a minute through all kinds of crap that writing would have soothed. My first instinct was to go up and sit down at the computer for a while, hack out a few pages, and then go back to bed for another try at sleep. And again, luckily for me, Tim's off work this week and was actually there to talk to. He'd followed me upstairs to see what the problem was. I ended up rehashing a ton of things that had been bothering me, realized just how lucky I am for so many reasons, and finally ran my brain dry around quarter to five.

Three hours of me basically ranting about everything under the sun, from the Kafkaesque dealings I've had with Bank of America in the last few months to frustrations about what we need to do to refinish and stain our deck (which is our big project for his week off work). I've basically come to the conclusion that writing is my Thorazine. If I don't write, I will need to be institutionalized. Without writing, I'm probably not fit for human company. When I say I'm writing the bad things out of my head, I really, truly mean it.

I still haven't done any work on the book, but I swore to myself I will write at least two hours today. I can't write all day like I'd like to, because there is the physical labor requirement of clearing off the deck in preparation to pressure wash it, but that won't take ALL day. Tomorrow we have to go buy the stain and the tools we'll need to apply it with, and then Wednesday we'll have to start staining, etc. It's going to be a physically busy week, but I have sworn to myself that I will NEVER slack off on the writing again, even if I end up only writing a few words. It's worth it to use up the extra brain steam to keep myself from boiling over again.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Camping done, back to work...tomorrow

I've been camping for the last 48 hours. I am question-mark shaped now from hauling gear, hiking, and everything else. It's good to be back in the Comfy Chair.

Strange things we've eaten, since we let the girls plan all the meals:

1. Train Wreck Soup: Everyone brought a can of their favorite soup, and we mixed them all together in one pot. Sounds gross, tastes fantastic! Who knew beef stew, chicken noodle, and Italian wedding soup all tasted good mixed together? I swear, it's true.

2. Puppy Chow: No, not dog food. It just looks like dog food. It's rice Chex coated with melted peanut butter and chocolate, then sprinkled with powdered sugar. It's the most evil Chex mix ever. Yum!

3. Little pizzas made on Pillsbury canned biscuit dough. Surprisingly good.

4. Breakfast casserole, made in crock pots. Tater Tots, eggs, cheese, and sausage. YUM!!!

Non strange foods: spaghetti, s'mores , muffins, apples, pigs in blankets, etc.

Smores caveat: The firewood we had was too green to burn, so it took forever to get the fire started, and it smoked so bad we were all weeping and runny-nosed, sitting outside freezing our buttocks off. Eventually we got it going, and had a great time, though.

It was a good weekend, and we all had a lot of fun, but now it's time to get back to work. Yes, indeedy. (mentally standing here, looking around, swinging arms back and forth, feeling kinda lost).

I've got to go back and re-read everything I've written up to this point, because apparently two days in the woods with 6th graders makes your brain melt. First thing when I got home today, I set up the crock pot and put some beef stew together. Well, technically I did that second, after I spilled my soda all over my coat, mittens, and the kitchen floor and had to clean it all up. I still haven't brought in the rest of my gear from the truck. I only brought in the perishable food and the crock pot. Unfortunately, my chocolate stash is still out there, so I guess I really should go dig everything out. The only down side: when I bring in the dirty camp clothes, I have to do laundry.

I really need a good night's sleep, one in which I'm not three inches off the floor in a sleeping bag. I sincerely hope I'm able to get back to work by tomorrow. I think right now I'm going to see what recorded this past week on the tivo, and try to recover from the sodium overdose we suffered this weekend.

Also on the menu for this week: Tim's got the week off work, so we're going to pull all the trumpet vine off the front deck, pressure wash it, and then stain it. Sound like fun? Don't you wish you were me? Cripes.

So now, I'm going to finish watching this ridiculous tv movie with the kid and try to forget all the physical labor in store for the rest of the week.

No update from the last writing updates, so that's all for today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Surprise surprise!

After I wrote for a bit yesterday morning, I really needed to get to the store. I had to make sure Tim wouldn't starve to death while Lulu and I went camping this weekend, and I needed to gas up the buggy so we wouldn't wheeze to a halt on the highway somewhere. I also had to deliver the kid's forgotten lunch to school before she starved to death!

Well, I'd just left the school and I drove about half way to the store, when the little chime on my phone alerted me to a new email in my Author email account. (Yes, I have a dedicated email account for all things writery. All writers should.) I figured it was another rejection, and kept driving. Between the bad weather and the ding-dong I was driving behind, by the time I got to the store, I'd totally forgotten about the email. I remembered it while I pushed my cart through the produce department. I paused a moment to feel the momentary heartbreak of rejection, and WOWIE ZOWIE!!! It was the nicest, most enthusiastic request for a full manuscript I'd ever received! May I repeat, WOWIE ZOWIE!!!

When I got over the shock of it, I called Tim. I felt like a ninny, standing by the lettuce, all giddy, telling him about the email. At that point, I still had to actually buy food, and then head across the parking lot to the gas station. I raced/danced my way around the store, practically singing the entire way. I ended up buying chocolate, Oreo Cakesters, and Cherry Juice (these are celebratory foods). I was indeed truly ninnyish.

I battled the gas pump, filled up the beast in record time, and then drove home unimpeded (thankfully) by any other traffic. I had to put all the perishables away, and repackage the meat I'd accidentally tore the packaging on with my pointy ring while I shoved and crammed everything else into the fridge. And then the doorbell rang. GAH!!!

I forgot I had a contractor coming by, and he needed to talk to me about the job he's scheduled to do. We need to have our house repainted, per the community association. Apparently the old stain is too faded for their tastes. And I have to re-stain the deck too, but I can handle that bit myself. So after I dealt with all this other stuff, I finally had a minute to sit down and format all the requested stuff for the lovely agent.

I checked everything over thirty-seven times, and finally brought myself to hit "send." It was just over two hours after the initial request came in. She replied IN UNDER TWO MINUTES! It wasn't an autoresponse, either, but a very nice letter letting me know she got it, and she couldn't wait to read it. And again, WOWIE ZOWIE!!!

Whew! So after all that, I was truly grateful that I'd managed to write some yesterday morning, because the rest of the day I was so distracted that I think I managed to write another few paragraphs, at the most. Even if I end up with a rejection in the end, this has been a lot of fun. Every other request for pages or fulls has been either written by an assistant, or just a simple two sentences asking to see more in plain business language. This was different. So much nicer! It's great to feel special like that.

So now we are at T minus 5 hours to camping. I still have to finish packing, shower, attend an Honor Roll assembly, and clean out Little Red (there's still Girl Scout Cookies we haven't been able to deliver in the backity back). So glad it's not raining today, though!

So I've decided I won't even look at the current MS today, because if I do get started on a roll with it, I won't be able to continue, and the pain of leaving it hanging until Sunday would drive me crazy. I'm already depressed enough about not being able to take the computer with me! :)

Words: 4,936
Pages: 17

And yes, I'll even miss making my daily blog entry. Last night, I had a great idea, including pictures and everything, and I can't for the life of me remember what it was now. I just remember thinking, "Yeah! That's what I'll write about tomorrow." If I ever remember what it was, I'll probably just forget again before I get to write it down.

At least the cat didn't sleep ON me last night. Oh, but that's probably my fault. I'd forgotten to let him in from the back porch. Oops. I remembered after about an hour, and he was all huddled up by the back door waiting to come in. I think he was just mad at me for forgetting about him. :(  Hey, at least I remembered eventually!

Okay, the sun's hitting me in the face. Time for a break. Have a great weekend. If you don't hear back by Sunday, send snow tires! We might get snowed in at camp and be unable to return on time. I hope not, but I'm prepared for the worst. I packed those Cakesters in my emergency kit.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Of my own making

My latest series of catastrophes is completely of my own making. I forgot to give my husband something to take by a friend's house (the friend lives 27 miles away, but only half a mile from Tim's job, so it's convenient to make him my errand boy). Now I have to remember to give it to him to take tomorrow. Gak.

If that's not bad enough, I packed Lulu's lunch this morning, took her to the bus stop, came home, and found the damned lunch sitting on the counter. The kid's in 6th grade, so I've been doing this for a good long while now. This is the first time in the history of her education that I forgot to put the lunch in her backpack. Not a bad record, but still, it makes me think my brain's starting to go soft.

Maybe it's the cat's fault. After all, he did sleep on my legs all night. Maybe that affected my sleep somehow.
I have a king sized bed. Most nights, Tim's at work, so I'm all alone in the gigantic bed. Morgan doesn't think he should have to stretch out and relax on that vast field of blankets. No. He prefers my lumpy legs. Two days in a row now I've awakened with cramps in my legs from the cat using me as a nest. Even worse: I spent two days last year making him a soft, cozy cat bed. I learned to use my serger by constructing a durable, attractive, and comfortable cat bed. Instead, he curls up on me. I guess I really shouldn't complain. At least he likes me.

Maybe that's his way of showing his appreciation for the cat bed. "Thanks mom, I love the cat bed you made for me, so I'll demonstrate my love by ignoring the cat bed and sleeping on you more often."

And the countdown to my computer-free weekend is started. I have just under thirty hours to go before I have to leave Nero behind and huddle in the frozen woods the rest of the weekend. (yes, my computer is called Nero. Don't you name all your electronics? I suppose that's a post for another day.)

I still have to:
1. Get to the grocery store
2. Deliver the forgotten lunch to school
3. Pack for both myself and Lulu
4. get gas for the monster truck (aka Little Red. You name your cars, too, right?)
5. attend the Honor Roll assembly at school tomorrow
6. launder sleeping bags

Huh, I thought there was more stuff to do. I suppose there is more to do, since I left of WRITING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE BEFORE I HAVE TO LEAVE. I hate leaving when I'm just framing the plot for the new book. It's torture! I can take notes while I'm away, but I won't be able to really work on the story, and it's killing me. I'll have to get over it. I'll only be gone 48 hours or so, but it's still hard.

Funny: Who knew I'd ever get all whiny about NOT being able to work on a weekend? HA!

Words: 3,945
Pages: 14

Doing well, but it's still chapter 1. Hopefully I'll actually have a writing update to post tomorrow... Off to the races now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So much to do, so little time.

I've spent quite a bit of time today trying to figure out how to get everything done before we leave Friday for the Girl Scout camping trip. Yes, we're taking 16 girls camping in February. It'll be fun! At least we're staying in a lodge, and not in tents. It would be a little cold, otherwise. We have to prepare the decorations and activities for the father/daughter dance we're hosting for the whole county in just a few weeks, so locking them all together in a building in the woods seemed to be a good way to get everything done.

In the mean time, I just started writing a new book, so I'm trying to get as much plot as possible, to write as many pages as possible, before I'll be sans computer for three whole days. Three days with no computer! I'm choking a bit just thinking about it.

I've also got to pack for me and Lulu, and deliver another hundred or so boxes of Girl Scout cookies before we leave. I'm cringing just thinking about it. So when am I supposed to get all this done, in the next 48 hours? Gak. Choke. I'm gonna grab some cookies. If I eat all the cookies, I won't have to deliver them, right?

I did finally manage to get some stuff written on the new book last night, after cookie deliveries and errand running.

Words: 1,707
Pages: 7

Lotsa sevens!

I sat at Lulu's chorus practice last night, unable to write because I was horrifyingly distracted by their repeated rehearsal of "Stupid Cupid." I guess it was a good choice for Valentine's Day, but three times in a row is enough. More than that is just overkill. Yikes.

My new slippers.
And I got new slipper socks. I promise to take better care of them than I did my Halloween slipper socks. I promise not to wear them outside on the driveway, or anything stupid like that. These will have to last until Target brings back the Halloween version this fall. I managed to disintegrate both pairs I bought last year, so I swear to be nicer to these. They're just too cute! And super cozy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy V-D!

And of course I mean Valentine's Day. Ahem.

I finished the book last night, and put it on the Kindle for Tim to read. We'll see when he gets around to it...

I also got my widdle heart brokded yesterday. I had my first rejection on a full manuscript by an agent. Granted, it was very positive (she liked my voice and characters, and called my world building "strong"), but she didn't love the story. I guess that's better than hearing it all stank to high heaven, at least. I can't argue with someone to convince them to love my story. Wish I could, though. Sigh.

I sent out half a dozen new queries, though, so hopefully someone else will find it and truly love it. We can only hope.

I have started on the third book, though. I don't know if it's a pointless task now, or if I'll keep going no matter what. I could always do what I did before, and write something completely different. The first two books I wrote were to be the beginning of a series (it was more of an epic fantasy kind of thing), but I never wrote the third book. It's a shame, because I liked those characters, but the first book was CLEARLY my first novel, ever. Maybe someday I'll go back, rewrite it, and make it better. But not right now.

I had the third book in that other series all mapped out, knew the plot, etc. But I never wrote it. Instead, I started writing this current series. So going on and writing a third book for an unsold series is kind of a leap of faith.

Writing the first book is always a crazy adventure, discovering the world and characters, giving them voices, etc. Starting a second book is an act of hope. You hope the first book sells, and therefore there will be a call for a second, and voila! you pull out book 2 all ready to go. Writing a third seems a little either insane or desperate since I haven't even managed to charm an agent with the first book, yet! :)

So for Valentine's Day, we are doing absolutely nothing romantic. Lulu has chorus again tonight, so I'll probably sit in the back row writing merrily along on my laptop again, and Tim will be home power napping, because that's what he always does on Tuesday night. I don't even have anything special planned for dinner. We usually have pizza, because we're in such a hurry between Lulu working on homework, and then running to chorus by 6, we don't have time for anything fancier. But I don't have a frozen pizza. Tim and Lulu ate it on Sunday, because I didn't feel well enough to cook or eat. And of course I haven't been to the grocery store again. I was going to do that tonight, while the kid was singing for two hours. Oh, well. Chocolate it is!

So that's our romantic, special day. Since I don't think all the romantic, loving gestures in a relationship should be saved up and spent on only one day a year, I don't really have any special feeling for Valentine's Day. It's one of those holidays that rates a solid "meh" on my scale from "ick" to "ohmygodohmygod."

So to all who enjoy the day, have a great time. To those who hate it, have a horrible time. To those who also meh it, have a day.


Words: 155
Pages: 2 (well, really only one, but I did leave a blank page for the eventual title page at the beginning).

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Icks

So I've spent the past day and a half with a case of the rampaging icks. Tim had it on Saturday, and passed it along to me so I wouldn't feel left out, I guess. I had the dizzies, I couldn't eat, and I could barely sit up. I squished down in the Comfy Chair and did my best to reread/edit, but I didn't get anywhere until about 9 pm last night. I finally started to feel better, but of course by then I had to get some sleep or I'd be sick again today. I finally packed it in around 10:45 and eventually did get some rest.

I spent a good portion of the day watching TV. I have no idea what I watched, other than the movie Local Hero, which was on yesterday morning. I have no idea what was on the rest of the day, since I could barely hold my head up to watch. But I do love Local Hero. If you like Scotland at all, it's a beautiful movie with a lot of oddball characters. And an injured rabbit, as well.

Tim made me tea, which at least gave me enough caffeine to focus on reading, but it didn't do much for my stomach. Hopefully today will be better. There's nothing on the TV right now, so at least I'm not distracted, other than by the Pretty Internets.

Anyway, I suppose I should get back to work. I've only got about 50 more pages to read today, and then format the book for the kindle so Tim can read it. Yay!

I'm kind of hoping to get a nap at some point today, but I doubt it'll happen. And we didn't deliver a single box of cookies all weekend, which means they're all still down in my office calling my name. SHUT UP YOU SUGARY DELIGHTS!!!

On another food note, the cat is still a pastrami addict. I actually ran over him this morning because I didn't realize he was wrapped around my ankles while I made Lulu's lunch. Poor thing. He's going to give himself a kitty coronary if he keeps eating like that. Not because he actually got any pastrami, but because I scared the crap out of him when I moved my feet, and he skittered and scampered out of the kitchen like he was on fire.

I've been trying to cobble together the synopsis on this read-through, taking notes as I go along. That's probably my LEAST favorite part of writing a novel. It reminds me of having to do book reports when I was in elementary school, only worse. At least a book report wanted you to leave the ending out, enticing the reader to read the book for himself. Not so in a synopsis. They also want all major plot twists and turns, and they want it in 2-5 pages (sometimes even less!). HEY! THAT'S WHY I WROTE A 300 PAGE BOOK!!! It took 300 pages to describe all those plot twists so they made sense, but a synopsis doesn't have to make sense, really. It just has to show the main characters going through the story.

You have to leave out minor characters, the HOW, and often the WHY. It makes for really crappy reading, but it serves its purpose: showing what happens throughout the book in just a few pages. You don't go into any kind of detail, but throw in just enough for the synopsis to sound like a coherent plot. IT IS HARD!

So there you go, my synopsis complaint. Anyone out there actually like to write synopses? I'd like to hear about it.

And that's all for today. Or at least for now.

Words: 98,294
Pages: 314
Edit Reread Page: 251

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One more time

Since Tim was out of it sick all weekend, I actually got a lot of work done. The threat of snow all day kept me inside, so we never got any cookies delivered, but I also got through 100 pages of reading. At least I'm ahead of the game on that front. Today, hopefully, we will get some of these cookies out of the house. Before I eat them all.

This current edit has been encouraging. I'm not finding major things to fix this go-around, just silly things. Things like:

-I typed the word "the" but meant "them"

-Verb tenses don't agree within a sentence.

-I use the same word or phrase twice in a paragraph, when another perfectly lovely word or phrase would make it better, or at least less clunky.

Reading for style and polish is always easier than reading for major plot structure. I don't have to keep stopping to skip backward or forward through the book to fix plot problems, so I can spend most of my time reading straight through and looking for awkward phrasing, misspelled nonsense, and general style. I can take a blah sentence and punch it up to reflect the characters' personalities or emotions more accurately.

A few more days of punching at this MS, and I'm going to turn it over to beta Tim. Then I have to sit on pins and needles while he reads through it. I'd rather write and edit any day than wait to hear what he thinks. At least I know he'll be nice about it.

Last night, I kind of got distracted when I realized Return of the King was on TV. Even with commercial breaks, I couldn't stop watching it. What really bugged me, though, was how they edited it. Ugh. They left out some of my favorite parts! How dare they leave out "The Mouth of Sauron?" That's a major turning point in the story. He comes out and shows the Fellowship Frodo's mithril coat and Sam's barrow sword, and the bad guys think they're taunting Frodo's friends with his supposed death. Pippin reacts, and Gandalf silences him. He knows that they didn't actually have Frodo, since Sauron would have reclaimed his ring by then if they did. Gandalf knows it's a sign that they could still have a chance of victory. How the hell could they cut that scene out? Plus, hello, Mouth of Sauron here! You just want to punch that guy right in his ugly teeth. So that's my big complaint with yesterday. I think I'm going to have to watch the uncut version of LOTR today to soothe myself, and get out my "in your face, Mouth of Sauron" vindictive joy.

Punch me in the face, please!

Okay, say it all together now. I'm a nerd. I know it. I accept it. It's a good thing.

So, on to the summary:

Words: 98,213
Pages: 314
(and those are unlikely to change much at this point)
Edit Read-through Page: 97

I can't really call it an edit anymore. It's more of a read-through. I'm just about ready to get through this now. I've already got an idea how the next book will start, and I'd rather be writing that at this point.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Edity-wedity, or "Nanananabooboo"

*sticks tongue out at manuscript* Finished you, you jerk. So today I can read through it once for "pleasure". Yeah, right. As if reading through the same thing for the fifth time in three weeks could possibly be pleasurable! Well, it should be nicer this time through, with fewer stops for corrections (well, hopefully NO stops for corrections). The worst thing you hope to encounter by this round of edits is an extra space where it shouldn't be, or possibly a comma that needs to come out or be put in. Other than the very minor mechanical stuff, this baby should be ready to head out the door.

I hope it is, anyway.

I really want to change the line in my query letter that says "I am currently writing a second novel based on these characters." I want it to say, "I have written a second novel based on these characters. It is also available for review." Or something like that. I'll have to edit that for a while before I actually send it out. ;-P

And so there you go.

We were supposed to go out delivering Girl Scout cookies today, but it's snaining. Snowing and raining at the same time. The weather can't make up its mind. I think it's mostly snow at this point, but it's kind of icy and slippery out there. Not exactly fun when you've got to carry boxes of cookies up and down hills. I'm not risking my life or my ankles for cookies. Not gonna happen.

Tim stayed home last night, because he was worried he'd get iced in at work, and then he came down with a headache, so he's not even much fun to have around the house. I like it when he takes off work for weather rather than illness, because it's like a mini-vacation. When he's sick, it's just like any other day, and he may as well not even be around. :-(

And that's about it. We were supposed to get actual snow, and it is still coming down out there. We'll see what happens with it. Will it be enough to go sledding? Or will we have to actually shovel the driveway this time? So far, no and no.

I'm going off to blow raspberries at my MS. Have a great day, everyone!

*PS: I forgot to add this:

Words: 98,166
Pages: 114

*PPS: Lulu was just watching Spongebob, and asked me what Gordon Ramsay would think of the Chum Bucket. I replied that he would hate it. Does this mean we watch too much Kitchen Nightmares? We have been kind of addicted to it lately. That and reruns of ancient Family Feud episodes. Survey Says? At least we've stopped watching the Mexican version of Family Feud on Univision. None of us speak Spanish, but how can you resist a show called 100 Mexicanos Dijeron? La inquesta dice?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Drowning in Cookies

So, yesterday was kind of a waste of editing time, but I got a lot of other stuff done. It was Girl Scout Cookie pickup day. There's a shopping mall near my house that went out of business, and all the cookies for our region were delivered there. The deserted parking lot was arranged just for us, with a line of semi-trailers full of cookies, one truck for each variety. We paraded past each, and loaded up.

We ordered more cookies this year than ever before, and we had my truck, the leader's SUV, and another dad's Sprinter van. Now we know, you CAN get 256 cases of cookies in a Sprinter. Yikes!

We hauled them all back to the leader's house to sort. Here's a picture of SOME of those cookies. There were more behind me.

There's just too many to fit in one shot.

After moving all that mountain, I had to hang around and wait for each girl to pick up their order. I figured it would be perfect, sitting out in the garage in a lounge chair working on my edits. HAH!!! Do you know how cold it feels when it's 41 degrees and you're sitting perfectly still? REALLY DAMN COLD!!! So I ended up moving around a lot, going back and forth into the house to thaw out periodically, and eventually giving up and coming home. I am so sore today.

Only adding to my soreness is the fact that I'm a big dummy who fell asleep on the couch last night. Tim sent me to bed when he got up to go to work, but the damage had apparently been done. I am question-mark shaped today. At least I have cookies to cheer me up.

And I had pancakes for dinner last night. That's what Tim and Lulu made, and they saved me the leftovers. I love it when we have breakfast for dinner.

On the down side, I didn't get much editing done, but I realize I'm nearing the end of this round. I think one more read-through ought to do it, and then the betas can have at it.

Words: 97,706
Pages: 312
Edit Page: 251

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Snow and Cookies

We had snow yesterday. Probably about an inch. It'll be gone by lunch time. Ah, bizarro winter! You're so much less bother than Snowmageddon was! Since the whistle pig says you'll be sticking around for six more weeks, I guess I can't really complain if this is the worst you've got for us.

My only actual complaint about this winter is the lake never froze. No ice skating, no hockey, and no walking across to visit friends on the other side. We have to drive around to see them. It takes all of five minutes, instead of thirty seconds. Oh, well.

It's not going to be a great editing day. I've already been through about ten pages this morning, trying to get a jump on things. We have to go pick up our troop Girl Scout Cookie order this afternoon, and then I'll spend the rest of the day sorting and delivering. Ugh. But yum! Cookies!
In case you've never seen 256 cases of cookies all at once, I'll post pictures later. After I learn how to post pictures on Blogger.

Some funny stuff happened yesterday, and while it was going on, I thought, "I'll write about this stuff tomorrow." Yeah, right. If I could remember any of it now, it would be a miracle. Isn't that typical? The only thing I really remember is laughing about something hysterically funny yesterday.

For some reason, when Tim comes home from work now, he puts the TV on and watches ancient game show reruns. He works the night shift, and he's usually home by 9:15 or 9:30 in the morning. There's really not a lot to watch on TV at that time of day, and after he catches up on whatever he's got on the TiVo, he flips around while he finishes his breakfast/dinner. We usually watch the previous night's Daily Show, or whatever else happened to record. But it's on hiatus this week, so we've had to improvise.

We've been watching Family Feud, Card Sharks, and The Match Game. Thank you GSN, for the bizarre flashback to the late 70's and early 1980's.

So, I've only got an hour or so before he gets home and turns the TV on again. I'd better get cracking before I'm distracted by the train wreck of polyester butterfly collars and Farrah hairdos.

Words: 97,582
Pages: 311
Edit Page: 222

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I'm overly excited about my laptop's new battery. It really is fantastic, though. Lulu had chorus practice last night, and for two hours I was able to work in the rehearsal hall instead of messing around on Twitter or playing Angry Birds on my phone. It was fantastic!

The old battery used to die after about ten minutes, but the new one is still running strong now, even though it hasn't been plugged in since last night. I feel liberated!

I had to run a few errands before I got to relax and work on the MS at chorus practice. I'd been out to the stores TWICE since Lulu told me she needed a report cover for her poetry class, and forgotten to pick one up both times. Now I'm more than covered (ha ha, get it?).

I went by Office Depot for the third Tuesday in a row (how sad is that?), and I've obviously become a "regular" since the store manager recognized me, and the cashier went out of her way to point out the report covers on the clearance rack when I attempted to buy some at full price. It saved me $4, and the covers I got were the "deluxe" version. Oooh! Textured! When you run your fingernails across the back cover, you can pretend you play the washboard in a jug band!

I'm still editing, third round, and when I get to the end I have to re-read one more time before I send it out to the betas. I'm particularly excited about sharing it with the agent who currently has my full manuscript for book one (Dragon Hunter). If she likes book one, she'll probably be glad to know that book two is waiting in the wings. If she hates book one, she'll just have more stuff to add to the bonfire. It's a win-win!

It's supposed to snow today, but only a few inches. It's been such a mild winter here. Two days ago, we were wearing shorts, and then we have snow. At least its not Snowmageddon. I could go the rest of my life without another one of those. The kids had to go to school anyway, but I'm sitting around checking the school website to make sure they're not coming home early. Wait and see...

I'm psyching myself up for tomorrow. It's Girl Scout Cookie pickup day. Our troop sold 256 CASES of cookies. We need my truck, the troop leader's SUV, and another dad's van to bring them all home. Then it's four hours of sorting and waiting for all the girls to come take them away from the leader's garage. Big fun, but at least it only takes the one day. Then comes the even more frustrating part: trying to deliver all the orders to everyone we sold the cookies to. You'd be surprised how many people place an order, and then do everything in their power to avoid being home when you try to deliver and collect payment. There's one house in our neighborhood where I don't even bother taking Lulu to sell anymore, because two years in a row they ignored repeated phone calls to schedule a delivery time. If you don't want the cookies, please just don't order them! It's not nice to tease 11-year-old girls.

So the daily update:

Words: 97,171
Pages: 311
Edit page: 166

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

For anyone who's interested...

For anyone who's interested in seeing all the LiveJournal posts I've made (though I have a hard time imagining such a thing, unless you're also a slightly deranged writer), I figure I should post a link back to them.

MittensMorgul's livejournal ramblings

Very good. Now that's done.

Making the switch from LJ

So, I've been writing over at LiveJournal for a relatively long time, and I'm trying Blogger out for a while. I'm nervous about switching, because I don't want to abandon all my old posts over there. However, I'm interested to see if this platform is a little easier/better/whatever other superlative comes to mind.

So far, I like the layout and format over here. It's easy to use, but then again so is LJ. I've decided to go ahead and write a few of my daily updates here to see if we can't get used to it.

Practical distractions today:

1. My new laptop battery is awesome. I've not been able to unplug and take the computer anywhere for like six months, because the old battery would die after ten minutes. If I needed to print something, it became a suicide dash down the stairs to the office to get everything printed before the computer completely croaked. I unplugged yesterday at 4:17 pm, gave up and went to bed at 11:05, and when I got up this morning, I still had 26% battery life! Awesome Power! Literally! (at this moment it's still at 26%!)

2. Because I am now free to roam the house with my computer again, of course I've been planted in the same damn chair where the power cord is plugged in. Well, I took it downstairs to watch Jeopardy! last night with Tim, but I came right back. And Jeopardy! is apparently misspelled if you leave off the exclamation mark. I should know, since both my husband and I are past Jeopardy! champs.

3. I'm itching to start book 3 now, since book 1 is done, and I'm working second-round edits on 2. But every time I start looking at book 1 again, I want to cry, go back and edit it again. At this rate, I'll bounce back and forth between the first two books, re-editing until the end of the universe.

4. I've discovered I spend way too much time reading Twitter.

Finally, if you've ever seen my LJ updates, they are basically a writing journal I've been keeping, updating my daily progress. I guess that's pretty boring for anyone but the writer writing them. To me, they are a road map through the insanity that got me to the end of each novel. To a casual passer-by, they are probably as dull as dishwater, aside from the occasional bit of insanity thrown in to keep myself on my toes.

At the end of each of those posts, I'd list my daily progress in this format:

Words: (current number of words in the novel I'm working on)
Pages: (for those who find this is a more accurate measure of writing, although I can't imagine why anyone would)
And when I'm editing, I list:
Edit Page: (which reminds me how far I am through the current cycle of darling-murdering)

So, since I really should get to work today, here's the end of it. (And the battery's down to 20%! Go Antivirus program, you battery power consumption hog!)

Words: 96,787
Pages: 310
Edit Page: 96

Monday, February 6, 2012

Things I learned at the Supermarket Today

I had to do some shopping, since our cupboards were getting pretty bare, and I didn't want to have toast and spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight. Since I needed so much stuff, I spent quite a bit of time at the grocery store today, and learned a few things I thought might help other potential grocery shoppers.

1. Don't refer to the humongous, institutional-size can of green beans as "Prison Beans." People might not know what you're talking about.

2. You shouldn't interrogate the produce. It's not equipped to answer your questions, and it doesn't know how many potatoes you still have in the pantry back at home, or if you already used the last onion.

3. Even if your running commentary is addressed to another human person currently shopping nearby, they still might not appreciate your analysis of the state of the "on sale" yogurt selection.

4. I had the best luck at conversation in the meat department, lamenting the fact that the "Big Buy" family size package was more expensive per pound than the single pound packages of ground beef. Another concerned shopper shared my views, or at least didn't try to pretend the crazy lady wasn't talking to him.

5. It's dangerous to give me coupons for chocolate products. I will find a way to utilize every bit of savings, and come home with four pounds of chocolate. Especially just before Valentine's Day. But it's all on sale!

6. Deodorant is no better at conversation than the potatoes were, and it doesn't know where they keep the Chapstick, either.

7. I always forget something important. Even if it's on the list. One important, necessary ingredient will be forgotten in my rush to get home before the frozen waffles defrost. Unfortunately, this week the forgotten item was a report cover for my daughter's poetry class homework assignment. Oops. Looks like we'll be crafting one from wrapping paper tonight.

So there you have it. If you have any other important grocery lessons for us, please feel free to share.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First Post

So this is my first Blogger post. I've had a LiveJournal account for a while, but I wanted to experiment with this format, as well. I don't know what to think about this yet, and I don't want to abandon a year of LJ posts, but I figured it was at least worth a poke around to see how I liked it over here. So far, so good.