Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Wherein I do All the Things *Except Writing*

This weekend has been full of funly goodness. Saturday we spent the day with some old friends we hadn't seen in a long time. Long meaning we hadn't seen most of them in more than a year. These are the folks we hung out with at least weekly until we all moved, bought houses, had families, etc. The kind of people we used to have a softball team with, the kind of people who were not only at our wedding, but HOSTED our wedding in their yard. Life gets in the way, though, and we've scattered across five counties. We only see most of them at these huge parties now, so we really love it when we have a chance to see everyone.

To wit: we have a picture of Lulu (on the right), our friend's daughter Sarah (on the left) and yet another friend's son Brendan (in the middle).

The girls think they're "babysitting", Brendan thinks he has two new girlfriends.

Another couple of friends recently got back into knitting, and were praising the joys of yarn art. I never learned to knit, but I do crochet. I haven't made anything in a while. Like, more than a year. But I was handed a skein of gorgeous Noro yarn in Iris colors, and sworn to use it ASAP.  To that end, I spent yesterday trying to find a scarf pattern, beginning the scarf, pulling it out, searching for another pattern, beginning again, pulling it out again. I finally have about a foot of scarf, and I think I'm going to pull it out again. Grrrrr. I think this is why I stopped crocheting a while back. Too frustrating. Also, it's too reminiscent of writing. I need to find another hobby that doesn't involve so much uncertainty. I think that's why I try to do something completely non-creative when I need a break. Making stuff is too much like writing (i.e. work).

This is what I have so far on the scarf, a basket-weave pattern that I usually use to make blankets. It's making a thick scarf, and I think I want something more net-like for a scarf in such summery colors, though.

So then last night, after all the yarn drama, I worked the baseball game. We got seven innings in when I went outside for a break and saw this:

Crazy storm! The sky went from beautiful clear blue to this insane wall of storms in a matter of minutes. Everyone in the stadium fled to the small section of the concourse with shelter, or out to their cars. It rained sideways. So we got soaked. It was probably a good thing, because I was also the victim of three beer attacks. I had three different kegs finish  in one afternoon. When a keg is emptied, the last beer you pull out of the tap tends to explode in a blast of air and foam. If you're really lucky, it all hits you squarely in the stomach. I was lucky three times. When I got home, Lulu told me I smelled like baseball: French fries and stale beer. Mmmmmm.

In better beer news, I tried this fantastic beer for the first time. I only picked it out because it has Edgar Allen Poe on the cap:

Local Baltimore beer. It's really quite nice. I wish I had something knowledgeable and pithy to say about it. My ability to analyze the subtleties of beer is limited to "it's good" or "ick." Either I like it or I don't. This, I liked.

Today I have to help Lulu turn a lump of styrofoam, moss, and pipe cleaners into a diorama about Gaia and Iris. Her paper is written and the power point presentation is done. Now, we have to build the final bit of her last big school project for the whole year. Then, and only then, can I get some writing done.

At least I had some fun this weekend first.

And now...bring me the glue gun.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beige: It's What's for Dinner, or #WVTP Whiplash

I've been following The Writer's Voice Twitter Pitch today, and didn't garner any requests. After six hours of reading the amazing 140 character pitches (well, 135 when you account for the hashtag, #WVTP), I was amazed at the variety of ideas. I did learn a valuable lesson, though.

Lesson: It's really hard to boil your entire novel down into a single coherent sentence that still has the power to hook a reader without leaving them with a confused, open-mouthed, glazed-over expression.

I tried a handful of different pitches. I followed along for six hours. I didn't write a single darn word all day long.

For some reason, all that adrenaline-fueled tweet reading sapped any desire I had to cook a visually stimulating dinner. It all tasted good, but I didn't realize until I piled everything on to plates just how....monochromatic everything turned out.

  • noodles are beige
  • sauteed chicken is beige, even when you do it in a white wine sauce with flavorful seasonings, it's still freaking beige.
  • when sauteed, yellow squash is mostly beige
  • baby bella mushrooms are beige
  • onions are beige
So. Ugly, albeit tasty. And that sort of defines the entire day.

I did get some actual work done. Not writing, but workity-work, the kind that pays $$$, so that's a good thing. I WILL have time to write tonight. I will I will I will.

Other things I found interesting on the WVTP:

  • TONS of other writers are writing about dragons. Dragons might be the next thing. You never know. I hope so.
  • At least one other person out there used my main character's name for their main character (Thalia)
  • There are some great, interesting Sci-Fi ideas out there. I would love to read some of this!
  • Forty-three berjillion people write YA.
  • The writing community is AWESOME! If I didn't write, and I met half the people who were online today, I would become a writer just so I could associate with y'all!

Thank you to all the organizers, agents, and writers who participated in the WVTP today. It was a lot of fun. Overwhelming, but definitely educational, and definitely fun.

The Writer's Voice, Part the Second: #WVTP

Today is the Writer's Voice Twitter Pitch contest. You can follow along on the Tweety-box under the hashtag #WVTP.

Brought to you by the lovely people behind the original Writer's Voice contest, Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.) and Mónica B.W. of Love YA.

The #WVTP runs TODAY ONLY from 12-6, Eastern time. Get those 140-character pitches ready!
 Here's the rules...
Pitch your finished manuscript on the hashtag. You may pitch any time you see an agent online - just don't go crazy and pitch more than once during an agent visit. We will monitor the hashtag and gently inform you if you're being obnoxious. Make sure your pitch includes the hashtag #WVTP. The agents will be hopping in and out of the feed during the party hours. They'll tweet their requests for the manuscripts that pique their interests. Simple. Right? Not if more than one make a request on the same pitch, it isn't. 
Keeping in the spirit of The Writer's Voice, if two or more request the same pitch, you must choose one of them and announce it in the feed. (They promised not to hold any rejections against you.) 
If you get a request...
After you get a request, you must email us at, tell us which agent requested, we'll verify the request, and send you the agent's/agents' submission guidelines. 
So get your Twitter pitches ready, and make sure to include the hashtag. 
As for my pitch, here it is:
Thalia has info that could stop a killer on the hunt for shapeshifters, but confessing it would mark her as the dragon he wants dead #WVTP

And yes, I just changed that pitch on the fly. Which I've been doing compulsively for days now.

Thanks much to everyone who helped make my 140 the best possible! And good luck! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mad Libs

Today's after dinner game was Mad Libs. We enjoy this one. Picking the most bizarre words possible to fill the slots becomes a competition in itself. We're all kind of geeky that way.

Some favorite lines from tonight's game:

From one about the three branches of the U.S. Government:
  • The Executive Branch includes the office of Pig Wrangler.
  • The Judicial Branch is responsible for upholding the Firefly, which was flown by our founding fathers.
  • The Judicial Branch includes a Supreme Sasquatch, which rules on mottled issues.
  • The Legislative Branch is divided into two puddles.
One entitled Impeachment, reproduced here in its entirety:

A cloud can be impeached for any number of reasons, including lying to the United States Fungus, arrogantly abusing his powers to jiggle sweaters, making smelly remarks regarding shoes, or otherwise behaving in a crusty manner. If the cloud is impeached by the House of Bowties, a trial in the Senate could follow, presided over by the Chief Bowling Ball of the Fluffy Court. After rapidly weighing the lotions, senators will raise their toenails and cast a vote of either "sticky!" or "not sticky!"

And finally, my personal favorite, a rewrite of Nixon's famous "Checkers" speech:

My fellow staples, I spin before you tonight as a candidate for Worm Farmer, and as a man whose cat and mouthwash have been questioned. Every scum that Pat and I have ever gargled is urgently ours. Pat doesn't have a mink squeegee, but she does have a muddy Republican cloth squeegee. I always tell her she would look cadaverous in anything. We did get one gift, however. It was a moist cocker spaniel boomslang and our little sky, Tricia, named it Checkers. And no matter what they say, we're going to smash it.

Poor Checkers! No wonder they impeached the jerk. He smashed Checkers! Not to mention calling his wife cadaverous to her face! For shame!

So there you have it. History rewritten by the Hughes family in postprandial repose.

We're still looking for some new game recommendations that aren't too complicated for an almost-12-year-old, and yet not stabbiness-inducing for the grown-ups. We all enjoy word games, card games, trivia games, etc. Pretty much anything is on the table (especially whatever game you suggest). If you've got a good recommendation, please leave a comment! Thank you!

On a more serious note, I have to thank Jessa Russo for actually getting me to write while the sun shone today. She held a 1k in 1 hour challenge on the tweeties, and I pushed my "real work" aside for a whopping 53 minutes. At the end of that, I had 1,070 new words, though, so it was an (almost) hour very well spent. I would have had more, but I actually had to stop to research something before I committed it to paper (or keyboard, or electrons, or whatever). The perils of writing about something technical and wanting to be sure my terminology didn't come off as hokey or just plain wrong. So I wasted ten minutes making sure I worded a description properly. Sigh.

I still didn't finish the project that will bring in actual cash money, so I have to kill another hour or two with that tomorrow, but then it's all about the new words again! And Lulu goes to the eye doctor in the afternoon, so another day cut short with errands and driving and spending money. But it's better than letting her suffer with headaches when a new pair of glasses will hopefully fix the problem. I'd bring the laptop along and write, but I don't think I'd have much of a chance to get anything done.

Also, thanks to Tumblr, I am now coveting a new fountain pen. And thanks to my addiction to Moleskine notebooks, I also covet a small, lined notebook the same size as my pocket planner (3.5 x 5.5 or thereabouts. And also a 2013 planner, since shockingly, things are starting to pop up that require planning more than six months out. Gah! who invented this kind of long-term advanced planning? I never got used to putting my calendar in my phone. I like having it on paper so I can just flip through and make notes, cross notes out, etc. It's so much easier for me. Plus, Moleskine addict. Need I say more?

I'll settle for this simple Pelikan model fountain pen. A bargain at $278.22 on Amazon! Yikes! And I thought my $40 Zero Gravity Space Pen was pricey!

Still, one more good day of writing to look forward to. Here's the current Progress-o-Meter:

Words: 50,721 (yay! Half way!)
Pages: 166

Monday, May 21, 2012

Profile Not Found

My computer delivers this error every day, at least once a day. I have no idea what it means, what program is missing its profile, or why it insists on showing me this message every single day.

I was initially concerned that I'd been logged out of something by mistake, that the computer forgot who I was, or that programs would start crashing left and right without the proper profile. That was months ago. Every day in the early afternoon, this message shows up. If anyone has any idea what the heck it means, I'd love to know. Otherwise, I stopped caring months ago.

I saved up a week's worth of errands, and finally had to go out today. Of course, since I was finally at the point where it was either go shopping or have buttered toast for dinner, it didn't matter that it poured rain today. I had to go out anyway. I don't mind running errands in the rain, if those errands don't result in eight shopping bags full of heavy things that need to be ferried out to the truck and then into the house in the deluge.

I also had to buy some craft supplies for Lulu's history class project about Greek gods. I had to buy supplies to build a mountain (for Gaia to live under, of course), and things to make a rainbow (for Iris to shoot up into the sky). Craft stores are evil. They make me buy tons of things I don't really need, while allowing me to forget half the stuff I went in for. Ceramics glue, anyone? I forgot to buy it. But I found several types of bee appliques and buttons to sew on Lulu's t-shirt for camp. All the counselors get to pick a cute nickname, and she's Bumblebee. Now she'll have bees all over her camp shirts.

Target is another store where I forget what I went in for but end up buying $60 worth of random crap. Actually, I got a good deal on a new sleeping bag. I hated my old one, since it was one of the "mummy" style bags that don't allow for leg movement. I'm getting antsy just typing about not being able to move my legs. I'll be back to finish this in a minute. I gotta walk around for a minute, and maybe find a paper bag to hyperventilate into...

Okay. Deep breathing helped.

And I bought food. But I forgot to bring my shopping list for Chuck Wendig's Faux Pho, which makes me mad. On a side note, I highly recommend the Terrible Minds blog, unless you are constitutionally opposed to swearing. Or fun. I have about half the ingredients, but tried to remember the remainder of the list. I gave up after a few key ingredients weren't even available at my regular supermarket. Strangely, the Helper Monkey works for that same grocery store chain, but at a much more urban store than the one where I shop. My store's Asian section consists of about two feet of shelf space, 80% of which is different brands of soy sauce. No hoisin sauce, no fish sauce. At least they sell Sriracha.

Helper Monkey's store has half an aisle devoted to Asian foods. He'll definitely have everything, in multiple size packages, six different brands, and also low sodium, gluten free, and sugar free varieties, I expect. I have to make up a list for him to buy all the things for me. I passed a Vietnamese restaurant today, and I was dying for Pho, but I didn't have time to stop. Now the Pho craving is approaching critical mass, and I will self destruct without spicy noodle goodness.

So, as you can plainly see, today was carefully crafted to prevent me from writing. Again. I've been reading the last few days, but not writing. And the writing will have to wait another few days, again. Just when I think I'll have plenty of time to write, something comes along and makes itself more important, or at least more urgent. I have to stop thinking that. It's my own fault for not writing, and I can't blame a busy schedule, or other pressing things, no matter how important they may seem, or how important I can make them seem, for my lack of focus.

I think part of the problem in this case is I'm puzzling over the next scene. I haven't puzzled this much over a book since the first novel I ever wrote. This is the fifth. I should be able to write through the rough patches by now without the wailing and tearing of hair. It's getting a little ridiculous. The first book in this series went from 0 words to query in about two months. The second, in another four months. We're talking multiple drafts and revisions on each of these, including critiques and advice and updates. I'm stuck at the half way point in this book, and have been for a week. It's making me insane. And this is just the first draft!

I put it on hold for a week to do revisions on the first novel, and was relieved for the chance to step away for a while. Now that I don't have an editing project to focus on, I'm taking on other work in order to have a legitimate excuse not to work on it. Either something is inherently wrong with the story, or I'm flummoxed as to how to get from point a to point b. I know there's a way, but the tone and setup of this novel is so completely different from the first two, I just don't know how to proceed. The first novel is a pretty straightforward paranormal thriller/serial killer hunt. The second is a weird romp through fairyland and the underworld chasing down escaped demons. Lots of action, go go go stuff.

This novel is a kidnapping case, and the stakes are pretty high--a lot higher than any of the characters realize yet. And for some reason I can't translate that to paper. And in the next scene, one of the bad guys, who isn't actually all that bad... well, let's just say it's bad. I've been putting off writing that scene for about two weeks. I know it has to be written, but it's just a horrible scene. Something my characters are going to regret. And it must happen. But Idonwanna write it!

So on that note, I'm going to go TRY to write that horrible scene. I have to at least try. Or what good am I? I may as well throw in the towel on ever publishing anything if I'm not willing to force myself to write something uncomfortable. Something I really, truly don't want to write.

The work I'll actually get paid for will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm putting on my writer hat. And on that note, Profile Found.

I am writing.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gaithersburg Book Festival Fun

Lulu and I trekked down to Monkey County today to visit the Gaithersburg (Maryland) Book Festival. It was a great way to escape the traffic of Frederick County during the G8. Well, except for the fact that Frederick G8 traffic is STILL lighter than Gaithersburg on a random Saturday afternoon traffic.

It was well worth it, though. Crab cakes for lunch! Meeting Authors! New books! A trip to the "big mall!" Well, that last bit was Lulu's favorite part, anyway. She got several new outfits for summer, since she's somehow become too tall for all her shorts over the winter. I thought winter was supposed to be the dormant season where the kids stop growing for a few months. I guess that only applies to lawns.

We ended up leaving before we had a chance to meet Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess. I did manage to pay full price for her book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened. So I suppose that sort-of makes up for missing her. Lulu couldn't stand melting in the heat any longer. Apparently the crab cake bribe had expired, so further bribery was needed to keep her happy. To that end, we got Godiva chocolates at the mall. I endured, somehow.

The main author I went to meet was Steve Ulfelder, though. He writes the fabulous (Edgar Nominated!) Conway Sax mystery series, beginning with Purgatory Chasm, and the newly-released The Whole Lie, which I must get ASAP! On top of that, he's a really nice guy, and it was interesting learning how Conway evolved into the character he is today.

On the way home, driving up I-270, we saw something eminently cool. A convoy of three Chinook helicopters headed straight toward Camp David. Always a neat thing. I had Lulu try to take a picture, but the trees kept getting in the way, and the helicopters were going a lot faster than traffic. This was the best she could do:

Yeah. Not great. I swear they're there somewhere.

This is what they looked like:

Since I don't have a picture of the actual helicopters, for anyone who cares, this flew over my house about 20 minutes ago.

The MetLife blimp, which is superior to world leaders in Chinooks, because it has Snoopy on it.
I'd like to see any of the world superpowers at the G8 try to compete with Snoopy on a blimp. Blimp wins every time.

Sad thing with this blog, I had a FABULOUS idea for this post this morning before I left for the book festival. I had this really catchy title, and a humorous couple of paragraphs about something that I thought was hysterically funny. Can I remember any of it now? Of course not!

Nor did I remember to hand out my fancy-schmancy new business cards to a single person I met today. My brain is going soft. In my defense, it was 88 degrees outside today, and I'm a little fried.

Finally, by the time we got back to the familiar roads of rural Frederick, Lulu and I were completely slap happy. This always makes for a fun drive. We like to play the Alphabet Game, where you have to find the letters of the alphabet in order on signs, other cars, etc. When we reach a letter that's hard to find, we start changing the words we see to incorporate the needed letter. Worthington becomes Jorthington, Taco Bell becomes Taco Jell. It gets completely nonsensical after a while, and usually devolves into discussions of our least favorite words (currently tops of Lulu's list: muffin top and jeggings, as well as Mantyhose. Yes, that is a real thing, unfortunately.) We start inventing bizarre stories involving all the reviled words, and end up laughing so hard I can barely see to drive.

All in all, this was a great day. I didn't write a lick, and I have no intention of starting now. I'm going to unwind with my new books from the festival, and relive the story of the woman with the muffin top having a convo about her vacay, while wearing her jeggings. She bought some mantyhose, decided to change into blousy trousers, and insisted they be called pantaloons, instead.

And with that, I can't focus on this nonsense anymore. It's been a tiring day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Today's Bad Thing in my head: Migraine

Oh, the agony. I overslept the alarm this morning, and that usually only means one thing: I'm not well. Within fifteen minutes of waking up, I knew what was wrong. I had a migraine (and still have it). I get two varieties of migraine, either pure pain or mostly aura. This one was almost entirely aura. The pain goes in and out, but my vision has been wonky all day (seeing spots and lights where there aren't any, things going in and out of focus), I've been sick to my stomach, had ringing in my ears, and I've been generally exhausted. I'd much rather have a straight pain headache. At least I could take some Advil and be done with it.

Even with all this, I still managed to write today, which is amazing. Not a lot, and I'm still at it, but something.

Bright spots to the day (other than the imaginary ones floating inside my eyeballs):

Lulu had a homework assignment for English class that I found particularly interesting. Her class is reading the novel "Homecoming", and one of the questions on the worksheet she was given by the teacher asks for a three sentence synopsis of the entire novel. I found her at the downstairs computer puzzling over what the heck to write. She held up the book so I could see how long it is, and whined, "I have to sum up this huge book in only THREE SENTENCES!"

I laughed, and told her I understood her pain. I explained query writing to her, and gave her some pointers. She found them helpful enough to get the assignment done, at least.

Tomorrow night Helper Monkey and I are finally going to see the Avengers. I'm so excited about this, I can't stand it. Lulu is going to a camping weekend with the girl scouts. Frederick County canceled school Friday because of the G8 summit at Camp David. Apparently they think traffic will be bad enough around the summit that school buses will have a hard time getting kids to and from school in a timely manner. I sincerely hope not, but the roads in that part of the county aren't designed for traffic. It is in the middle of a National Park, after all. Not to mention the fact that the Frederick Airpark is supposed to be so crowded with incoming flights that we've been warned to avoid the area all around the place this weekend, if we can help it. Which I can't, since I live like two miles from it. Harumph...

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is this Saturday, and I'm looking forward to that, as well. I need some new books, and there are a lot of interesting authors speaking and signing books. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing Steve Ulfelder and Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess). I plan to wear a hat with a taxidermied bird on it. She'll appreciate the effort.

White = raspberry, yellow = honeysuckle.  mmmmmmm.
So since I'm so full of win for the next few days, I apologize in advance if this blog slides into the dustheap. I'll do my best, but....yep already too distracted. Please enjoy this photograph of the raspberry bushes and honeysuckle blooms by my back porch. Try to imagine the delicious aroma, and the abundance of berries we'll have in a month or so.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Game Night

All this week, for some inexplicable reason, Lulu has decided that the half hour after dinner is game time. We've played Uno, Po-Ke-No (my copy of which is older than I am), and tonight I taught her how to play Scrabble. Her comment on finishing her first game of Scrabble: "It takes a really long time to play."

Since we now have a deck of playing cards in residence on our dining room table, I sat down before dinner tonight and dealt a hand of solitaire. Helper Monkey was over on the couch watching the news, glanced over at me, and asked what I was doing.

Me: "Playing solitaire."

Helper Monkey: "Don't you need your cell phone for that?"

Me: "No. I'm playing the old-fashioned way."

Five minutes later, Lulu walks in.

Lulu: "What are you doing?"

Me: "Playing solitaire. Doesn't anyone remember how to do this with actual cards?"

Helper Monkey plays solitaire on his phone all the time. I never do. I'm not even sure I have it installed on my phone. For some reason, I burned myself out on it years ago. I only play if I have real cards.

And I'm glad Lulu wants to play first world games every night. I think we're going for Yahtzee next. I enjoy playing any game that requires you to shout once in a while. I am a natural born shouter, and I'm usually encouraged to tone it down. Anyone know any other games that require loud outbursts? I'd love to know. I'd win those games every time. Or any games that are appropriate for an almost 12-year-old. I'm open to suggestions.

I was preparing to go outside with the laptop to write. It's gorgeous out, and I wanted to take advantage of the great weather. The neighbors stole my idea, though, and have already begun an outdoor hoedown, with a guitar player, a singer, and (gulp) a banjo player. Luckily they haven't played Dueling Banjos yet. I've locked the doors just in case. I think I'll write inside tonight, instead of out in the dark, in the woods, alone, with the banjos...

I bet you can squeal like a pig. Weeeeeeee! *shiver*

Now I bet I won't sleep well tonight, either.

Words: 46,805
Pages: 154

Monday, May 14, 2012

Driving myself to sleeplessness.

Some people are morning people. Some people are night owls. I am definitely the latter. I find that writing during the day is akin to pulling teeth. Through my nose. Once the sun goes down, I'm a writing fool.

To wit, I sat at the computer for hours yesterday trying to crank out pages. I stared at the blinking cursor, reread the last few pages of my WIP, and debated tearing out my hair versus biting off my fingernails. After dinner last night, when the house started to quiet down for the evening (as if it hadn't been quiet all day, too), my fingers finally connected up with my brain and the words flowed.

I thought about stopping for the night when Helper Monkey left for work at eleven. In fact, I stood up, stretched, got a glass of water, shut the computer, and sat on my back porch reading Twitter on my cell phone. I was Preparing For Bed. I never even made it to the brush-my-teeth phase. Five minutes later, I knew what I wanted to write, and sat back down at the computer. Two hours later, I couldn't stay awake any longer. I needed sleep. But I was too wired from writing. I finally got to sleep sometime around two. And after waking up at 6:30 this morning, I REALLY need the sleep. But once again, it's after ten, and I'm just getting warmed up.

So can anyone shed some light on this for me? Can chronic sleep deprivation cause bran dimmage? I mean brain damage? I can't wait for summer vacation from school. I'll be allowed to sleep as late as I want every day, and stay up all night long writing. Last summer, I wrote 15,000 words in a single day. Sure, I spent fifteen hours at the keyboard, and I knew exactly what I wanted to write. Granted, it was a lot of crap that had to be edited to a nearly ridiculous level, but it essentially became the bones of the book I'm querying now. After nearly a year of editing and revising, mind you.

I'm not sure how long I can keep up the late nights, but I hope it's until the current novel is done. HAHAHA! That's funny. So far, this has been the slowest-going novel I've ever written. Getting the words out on paper (or the computer screen) is harder this time around than it's ever been before. (And this is my fifth go at a full-length, 100k word novel.)

I think it's partially the fact that I'm actively querying the first novel in this series. Until I have the approval of an agent, I think my brain doesn't want to cooperate and knuckle down to do the work. I have the second novel in the series ready to go, as well. It's not like I don't have something else to send the glorious angel of an agent who loves the story as much as I do. My brain is practical though. It doesn't want to waste time making words for a book with such an uncertain future. Sure, I doubt myself. All writers do. But that's no reason to let my writing suffer. So I keep writing the best I can.

So I'm off to make the pages, out on the back porch where the rain patters gently against the copper roof and reminds me of what my characters are going through at the moment. It's raining in the novel, and it's raining here. It's as good an atmosphere for writing as I could hope for. Hopefully I'll get to sleep before midnight tonight!

Words: 45,092
Pages:  148

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Random weekend update...

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to any mother reading this. And that includes other writers whose only children are their word-babies.

Notable things I've seen/done/heard this week:

I saw my first copperhead of the season. Finally it's warm enough for all the snakes to come out of hiding, and we see a lot of them in my neighborhood. I live in the woods, so we see a lot of wildlife, including reptiles, but too many of them succumb to traffic. The first copperhead I saw was sadly flattened on the road. I hate seeing that. I have no desire to get cuddly with venomous snakes, but they're great at keeping the rodent population in check. It's a real concern out here in the boonies. There's nothing worse than a family of mice taking over the inside of your walls. *shiver*

I spent my birthday jumping in glow-in-the-dark moon bounces with a bunch of 12-year-olds. Oddly, this was a FANTASTIC way to spend the evening. I had cake for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner, and got to sit in an inflatable throne.

A truly awful picture, red-faced and disheveled from moon bouncing, but the pizza was good.
We worked a sold-out baseball game yesterday, and by the time I left, I was so soaked in beer and soda, all the way up to my elbows, that my hands were sticking to things. For reference, the stadium is across the street from the cemetery where Francis Scott Key is buried. You can see the top of his monument from the road. I finished work before the stadium had time to empty out, and there was a bottleneck trying to leave the parking lot, and trying to get back out to the main roads from the stadium's smaller street. I turned on the car radio while I sat waiting for traffic to move along, and made myself laugh when the next cd in line to play was White Zombie. It seemed an irreverent thing to blast while staring at a spooky graveyard after dark. I hope Mr. Key didn't mind. I was so tired I had a momentary panic attack that the zombie apocalypse would start any second, and the undead were about to crawl from their graves. I just turned the volume down a bit and rolled up the windows. Thankfully the cars in front of me started moving, and I got the heck out of there.

So this is what I'm doing instead of writing my novel today. Stupid, eh? I've been complaining for the last two weeks that I don't have enough time to work on the writing, and when I finally have a whole day to write, THIS is what I end up writing about. Now I've made myself mad, which is probably a good thing. I need to write a fight scene, and I hate writing fight scenes. So feeling tooth-grinding mad should help, at least as far as the emotional content of the fight is concerned.

Oh, and I'm seriously looking forward to the 24th. The folks running the Writer's Voice competition (which I failed to submit an entry to because I'm incompetent at filling out online forms) are having a Twitter Pitch contest! Pitch your novel in 135 characters or fewer (leaving room for the #WVTP hashtag). It's terrifyingly difficult! For details, see this post from Cupid:

On that cheerful note, back to work! :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

So, today's my birthday. Yesterday I worked a double-header baseball game, and stood up for about 10 hours straight. I was so tired I couldn't even think about driving BACK downtown for my birthday dinner, so we stuck close to home and found a place to eat in our neighborhood. It was a relief to sit down, and dinner was good. And we had cake!

I stood in the kitchen, lit a candle on it, and sung happy birthday to myself while the Helper Monkey sang from the couch and Lulu sang from her room. Very personal and loving! At least they sang. They came out when they realized all the singing meant they'd be getting cake, though.

In more upsetting news, the little nose-pincher dealie broke off my glasses at the game yesterday, so I'm stuck with my emergency glasses today. Now I remember why I don't wear them more often. I miss my light, nearly non-existent glasses. These are heavy, and the thick plastic frames are incredibly distracting. Still, they're not as distracting as being blind would be, so small favors, eh? Now I just have to make an appointment to get new glasses. I was due anyway.

I'm just glad I'll finally have some time to write again, either today or tomorrow, come hell or high water. I don't have to get up in the morning, so I think tonight is going to be a word marathon. At least, I hope so.

So for now, it's back to work-work. Then, when I'm done, it's back to writing work. It is work, but it's a heck of a lot more fun than any other work I've ever done. On that note, toodles for now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'm a Victim of Miss Snark's First Victim

That's right! I have an entry in the MSFV Secret Agent contest this month! If you'd like to pop over and leave a comment, I'd really appreciate it. Plus, you get a chance to read the first page of my novel, formerly titled DRAGON HUNTER, which I've recently changed to RUNNING DOWN THE DRAGON! Wheeee!

If you want to read my entry, it's right here:

While you're there, check out some of the other deserving entries, and leave comments if you enjoy them!

Thanks much!

Now that business has been handled, back to regular life. I was supposed to work the baseball game tonight, and I technically worked something, but the only thing on the field was a big wet tarp. Folks turned up to see a game, and quite a few of them were hungry, so we cooked. Still, it's always disappointing when we get sent home early. And working in the kitchen for a double-header to squeeze in a make-up game kinda stinks.

On that cheery note, I work a double-header tomorrow, since last night's game was also called for rain. Gar!

Before the rain started, I thought it was odd the way they were lined up against the wall practicing their chorus line kicks.
After inhaling ballpark food fumes all day, though, we're going out for Indian food tomorrow night, and I can't wait. It's technically my birthday dinner, since we're going somewhere fun on Friday (my actual birthday). We're taking the girl scouts to an indoor park where they have a berjillion moon bounce thingies, and ADULTS GET TO BOUNCE TOO!!! Wheeee! I can't wait!

Now that all that's out of the way, I'm going to try to write some tonight. It's my last chance until tomorrow night, so I gotta get some words out. Good night all!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Coffee fixes everything.

Well, coffee certainly fixed my sagging mental capabilities when I dumped Coke and Dr. Pepper as two of my main food groups. So, I guess everything else that got better in the last 48 hours can be indirectly credited to the influence of a good cup (read: pot) of coffee.

What's the most interesting thing to happen in the last few days? Something I'm not allowed to talk about. Sorry folks. Nothing writing related, but I promised to button my lip, so I'll shut up now.

Second most interesting? Finding out I correctly diagnosed the problem with the Helper Monkey's Jeep. I am now renaming myself Grease Monkey. Helper Monkey SWORE he thought the problem was in the exhaust system, and I swore up and down it was a spark plug misfiring. Of course, when plugged into the diagnostic machine at AutoZone, it spat out a cylinder 4 misfire code. Which means I WAS RIGHT! :)

So there. This is why I never get taken advantage of at car repair places. And why the Helper Monkey makes me take both cars in for repairs. You can't fool me. I know engines better than some mechanics I've met. So when my writing career fails to materialize, I think I'll go into automotive repair. Now I just have to find a few hours in which to give the Jeep its tune up. Oh, and buy spark plugs and wires. Gah! Too much busy!

I actually wrote for several hours last night, which is a vast improvement over the complete wasteland my WIP is becoming. Last time I opened it up, a few tumbleweeds rolled out. So now, I have 30 minutes to write before I have to think about dinner, and then another few hours to work again tonight. Busy busy busy...

At least the baseball game I was scheduled to work tonight is getting rained out. I'll get back on track someday. I swear I will. *boohooing over lack of writing time*

Words: 41,435
Pages: 137

Sunday, May 6, 2012

This Week versus Last Week

Last week was a real doozy.  The only day in my schedule book that wasn't blackened with "to do" items was Monday. And Monday was just Monday, so it was bad enough on its own without getting bogged down with anything else. Needless to say, my writing suffered last week.

Every time I sat down to write, I had to go back and try to remember what the hell I was writing about. Scatterbrained. Addlepated. I ended up wasting a lot of time going over the disjointed few pages I managed to hack out in a futile attempt to make them work. By the time I caught up and felt ready to dive in again, it was time to rush off somewhere else. I nearly cried several times. I did engage in a little primal scream therapy, with mixed results. It frightened the cat, which was good for a laugh, at least.

I also had the stupid idea, in the midst of the cuckoo schedule, to cut back on the amount of soda I was consuming. I was feeling mighty unhealthy about my diet, since I had several meals at the ball park (one of which consisted entirely of hot dog products), and I was coming to rely too heavily on my souvenir-sized drink servings. That, and I couldn't button the black shorts I wear to work at the games.

At first, I tried to go cold turkey from the caffeine. The first day, I couldn't remember why I had a headache, why I felt so damned tired, and why I was so fuzzy and unable to concentrate. After a few cups of coffee, when I started feeling better, I attributed my precipitous drop in IQ to caffeine withdrawal. It got easier to cut out the sodas if I dramatically increased my coffee and tea consumption. Problem solved. Though I'm not sure it's really any healthier to suck down coffee like it's going out of style, at least it's not full of sugar and calories like the Cokes and Dr. Pepper I was formerly addicted to.

So that was last week. This week, there are only two things in my schedule book so far. Thursday, we're going out to dinner, since my birthday is Friday. Going out to dinner on Mother's Day weekend is against the rules around here. At least my birthday doesn't fall on Mother's Day itself this year. That really sucks. So we're trying to find an Indian or Thai restaurant somewhere within twenty miles of our house that's worthy of Birthday Dinner status. Friday, my actual birthday, we have our final Girl Scout meeting of the year, and it's actually going to be a ton of fun. It's more of a party/fun time for the girls, at a local warehouse that's filled with moon bounce contraptions. And yes, the adults get to bounce, too. So I'm making the Helper Monkey come with us. Birthday privilege.

And I forgot to mention today's events (but since I have a Moleskine planner, which counts Monday as the first day of the week, today is still technically "last week." Now I've hurt my brain thinking about that.) I have to buy groceries, since we've eaten nearly every edible item in the house while I ran around last week. Lets put it this way: I had Cheerios for dinner THREE TIMES last week. Before we hit the grocery store, we're going to a scavenger hunt competition at a local mall. It should be fun. I'll probably get suckered into buying ice cream or a pretzel, but I won't complain.

The rest of the week will be devoted to a research project, and writing. Finally, blissfully writing.

On the up side, Lulu had her chorus concert last night. The thing ran more than THREE HOURS!!! It was a little excessive, if you ask me, but luckily they saved the most interesting, audience pleasing songs for the end. Choral music, in my mind, was not designed for interminable concerts. I'd rather have watched three Broadway shows back to back, but I had to be there. Not only was my kid singing (and she did a brilliant job, by the way), but I was on the Puke Crew. It sounds more disgusting than it was. If they had a medical emergency, I had to be ready to assist the sick child. I crossed my fingers that no one actually got sick, and apparently that worked. I got a front-row seat out of the deal, and had a primo viewing spot for the show.

Glad I snapped a picture of the ticket, because they confiscated them at the door! Yay, Electronic Scrapbook!
On the even upper side, Lulu has decided that next year she wants to take a musical theater class, instead of just a singing class. This bodes well for next year's end-of-year concert show, at least.

All this being said, what have I done with my free morning thus far? Ha! I slept until 9:30, had M&M's and coffee for breakfast, and caught up on bloggy things. Perfect Sunday morning (other than the fact I haven't even glanced at the WIP yet). Now I'm grabbing my pickaxe, and heading out to the word mines.

Friday, May 4, 2012

This is why I lost on Jeopardy!

I stink at pushing the button. It's my major downfall in life. It's why I only managed a single win on Jeopardy! The Stinking Button. (For anyone who doesn't know about the whole Jeopardy! thing, you can read about it here and here.) (And yes, when referring to the game show, if you leave of the exclamation mark, you've spelled it wrong.)

Despite the obvious nerd credit involved with just being on a show like Jeopardy!, I obviously lack some basic nerd skills. I'm not great at video games, because I have a slow trigger finger. I never mastered the darned buzzer button, and I only won a single game because I lucked into a couple of Daily Doubles and wagered big. As soon as I had to face another contestant with a faster thumb than mine, I lost.

Don't get me wrong, I type quite well. I used to be a medical transcriptionist, and you have to type fast to scrape a living doing that. Obviously I lack any other button-pressing skills. I've managed to get quick enough on the Wii to beat an 11-year-old at Mario Kart, but I don't think that skill translates 1:1 into button pushing.

To wit: I failed TWICE to make it into The Writer's Voice multi-blog writing contest. And they even added an extra 25 slots to the second round of entries!

REPRIEVE!!! The four blog owners who are running the contest graciously opened up a third entry window, with only 25 additional slots, today at noon. Maybe the third time's the charm? I can only hope so. My internet connection has been wonky lately, with extra-slow loading capabilities. It's been a nostalgic few days here, hearkening back to my old dial-up connection. I've got to call Verizon and figure out what the problem is.

So I've got one last chance. Let's hope I'm a little quicker on the draw today. Since I don't have the ridiculous schedule I had to battle yesterday (where I was only home for an hour, and running around like an idiot for at least 14 other hours), maybe I can go all zen and miraculously come in under the wire this time. Here's hoping!*

And May the 4th be with you today, this fine Star Wars day.

With the crazy schedule this week, I haven't been writing much, but I feel the need for an update here, if only for my own records:

Words: 39,064
Pages: 130

* And no, I failed again. I kept hitting the refresh button waiting for the widget to appear, when all I needed to do was scroll down to the bottom of the post. I came in at post #206, and they capped the entries at 200. Once again, how the hell did I ever managed to qualify for Jeopardy! in the first place?

**And edited to include this photographic evidence:

Me, as a blonde, and the Trebekster

Thursday, May 3, 2012

30 seconds to say hi

Hi there. Since I only have enough free time to blink, and hopefully shower and eat at some point in the next three days, I figured I'd check in here now so I won't feel guilty for my lack of an online presence until this weekend is over and done with.

And so it begins...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I survived the MVA

For those who live in any state other than Maryland, that title would probably read, "I survived the DMV." But oh, no. Maryland's got to have the Motor Vehicle Administration. Either way, it's always a pain when it's time to renew your license.

The worst thing was I forgot to bring a book. Luckily I found enough distraction on Twitter to keep me from going nutso while I waited. To be fair, we only really waited for about half an hour, anyway. The Helper Monkey needed his license renewed by mid-June, so he came along and took care of it at the same time. He was reading on my kindle, and I can't find the paperback I started a few weeks ago and misplaced somewhere, but I'm going to dig it out tonight, and I promise to sit down and read it now.

I usually hate my license photo (doesn't everyone?). They didn't do too bad a job this time, and I'm only marginally undead looking, which is pretty good when you consider I'm so pale I practically glow in the dark.

Me, all corpsey and smirking about it

So then we headed out to the mall to get a pretzel, and to check the Barnes and Noble to be sure Liz Norris's UNRAVELING was shelved in the correct section of the store. Apparently there was a mix-up in the computerized inventory list for the novel, and it was accidentally being shelved in the children's section in some stores. Yikes! But everything here was hunky-dory:

Unraveling is in the center of the third shelf from the bottom. You should read it, by the way. It grabs you up and won't put you down until the last page!
Once we assured ourselves that everything was satisfactory, we decided to walk around the mall for a few minutes, since we'd bothered to drive all the way over there. We walked past Pac-Sun, and heard something surreal. They were playing an XTC song on the radio, The Mayor of Simpleton, from which we derived one of the cat's nicknames, the mayor of stinkleton. It's a great little song, but it might be the first time I've ever heard an XTC song at the mall. We actually stopped in front of the shop and listened to the song. We are such dorks.

Then we came home. Big fun! But due to the wheels of bureaucracy crushing me down today, I haven't actually written any new words. I wrote a few last night, but I'm looking forward to the 3 hours of chorus practice this evening, during which I'll write up a storm. Hopefully.

Back to the races! But at least we're down to the last five weeks of school. *aaaaaaahhhh* (that should read like choirs of angels singing, by the way).