Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Thursday, so why is it acting like a crankypants Monday?

Today is Thursday, but it's behaving like a tantrum-filled Monday. Not fun. I haven't been bombarded by nitpicky lunacy like this in a while. I hate to get on the blog here and rant, but I need to blow off some steam before I get back to editing or, heaven forbid, take my rage out on the WIP. Nobody wants to see that.

So, everything started out on a stressful note. I heard my email notice chime on my phone last night while I was falling asleep. I figured I'd check it out in the morning, since I'd been having a back and forth with a crit partner. I thought it might be more edit notes. HA! No. It was nothing I want to go into here, but it wasn't good news. That's the first thing I saw this morning, and unfortunately the day didn't get much better.

I knew I had to pay bills today (I forgot the phone bill was due today, and while I was there I just balanced the checkbook and paid everything else). That never makes me cheerful, but I thought it would improve my mood to know I didn't have to think about it for another few weeks. So I guess that did work out in my favor. I was feeling better. Temporarily.

I had to go to a training session for the camp I'm working at in a few weeks. I forgot to bring the paperwork I needed to hand in about my kayak instructor certification. I'm glaring at it right now, so I have to make another trip out in the heat to deliver it.

While I was at the training, my cell phone refused to connect to the network. It's been doing this a lot lately. Stupid old phone. It took a 20 minute phone call to Sprint to make it work again. It apparently keeps dumping all my password information. Grrr. At least it works again, but I was like five hours behind on everything because I still didn't have time to catch up.

I paged through the mail while we were fixing my phone, and the community association wants me to take care of a fallen tree in my yard. Apparently it's ugly. Oh, and so are the weeds. Sorry, I haven't had a chance to spend two days hacking through the jungle that my garden turns into in the span of two weeks every summer. So now I have two weeks to take care of it. In record-breaking heat. By myself. Ugh. Lulu volunteered to help, at least. We'll see how that goes.

We also had to go grocery shopping. At least that was fun. I think I overcompensated for my bad mood by buying ALL THE SWEETS. We have moon pies, doughnuts, and two kinds of cookies now. At least I can't blame my problems on a lack of delicious, fattening sweets.

Come to think of it, that makes today...not all that bad, in retrospect. Because it's kind of impossible to be upset when you have Moon Pies! :)

Okee dokey. I'm going to put on my hat, grab some water, and go hack through the jungle. Maybe if I pretend I'm Stanley on a mission to find Livingston in the Deepest Corners of Darkest Africa, I'll make it through. It feels hot enough outside, and it's always easier to take care of horrible tasks if you can make up a good story to play with while you're torturing yourself.

Or maybe I'll wait until after dinner. Maybe the tension headache I gave myself from grinding my teeth together will be gone by then, too.

So there you have it. I worked myself up into a lather for nothing. Life's not so bad. At least the air conditioner is holding out...knock on wood.

I hope everyone else is having a happy Thursday, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buccaneer Blogfest

Banner by Cody Underwood

Sharon Bayliss  has thought up a marvelous way for writers, bloggers, and readers to get to know each other through our blogs. Whether you're an experienced blogger, or a beginner, or anything in between, spend July at the Buccaneer Blogfest! Sounds Blogtastic!

Also, I'm usually up for anything with a pirate theme. I did get married on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So I'm looking forward to this.

From Sharon's blog, here are the highlights:

Court Young and I will be hosting the Buccaneer Blogfest, an event designed to help bloggers build their platform and create connections. Together we will sail the blogging seas! Arrrgggh! This blogfest is open to all bloggers and want-to-be-bloggers who post about writing, books, publishing, and everything related. Bloggers at all levels of experience are welcome, and Courtney and I are happy to advise and support new bloggers on all things bloggy. Participants are strongly encouraged to follow each other and comment on posts. The idea is to build new connections and a larger blog audience. The blogfest will run from 7/9-8/3 with three prompts per week. If you have to miss posts, don't make that a reason not to sign up, a few missed posts are fine. If you're not a writer or don't have a current novel or WIP, alternate prompts will be available for week #2. This is an outline, more detailed instructions for the prompts for each day will be made available the weekend before each week. Also, you are welcome to adjust the dates +/- a day or so if you have other commitments. Please put any questions in comments! How do I participate? 1) Add your blog link to the linky below 2) Throughout the fest, visit the other blogs as much as you can and comment. 3) Post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the prompt of the day 4) Re-post the Linky & Buccaneer banner on your own blog to show your pirate pride and promote the blog fest 5) Finally…Have Fun! 1. Intro Week (July 9 – 13) a. (July 9) Introduction: Tell us a little bit about you and your blog. Post the sign up linky for this blogfest in your post. Include your other social media links so we can follow. b. (July 11) Why you did you start blogging? What are your goals for your blog? c. (July 13) Interview the person signed up below you on the linky and post that interview. *During this first week, you are strongly encouraged to go around and follow the other participants in the blogfest - both their blogs and other social media. 2. Work in Progress (July 16 – 20) a. (July 16) First paragraph of novel or WIP b. (July 18) Character interview c. (July 20) Share your light bulb moment with us. How did you come up with the idea for your WIP? 3. Reading (July 23 – 27) a. (July 23) What are you reading? What books are on your shelf? b. (July 25) Favorite authors and why? c. (July 27) Recommend or review a book of choice. Tell the interwebz why you love it! 4. Final Countdown (July 30 – August 3) a. (July 30) Social Media: Share your feelings and opinions about social media and it's relation to writing and reading. b. (Aug 1) Host a giveaway using Rafflecopter or a similar tool. If you don't have anything you'd like to giveaway, we'd be happy to let you post the Rafflecopter form for a CQ sponsored giveaway. c. (Aug 3) Reflection post: Share your experience from this blogfest. What are the next steps you want to take with your blog? *Courtney and I will also be hosting a treasure hunt in this last week where you can win prizes by visiting each other's blogs. Why Should I Participate in the Blog Fest? To sail the seven seas of the internet and make new friends. We plan to have tons of fun over the next few weeks and we hope to inspire you to write! Make the most of this blog fest by visiting and commenting on other people’s posts. Leave comments and let the blogger know you visited. Don’t be a stranger. If you like the blogs that you sailed upon make sure to follow them so when the fest is over you can keep in touch.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Writing is Evolution, or why chapter one stopped working

When I started writing the first book in this series, way back at the end of last summer, I knew who the characters were, and I had a general idea of the conflict that should arise and how it would be resolved. That was it. It was, admittedly, very little to base a novel on, let alone a series of books.

I wrote, revised, edited, and then wrote some more. Fast forward about eight months. I'm half way through writing the first draft of the third book in this series. All the while I've been adding things and taking away things from book the first. At this point, I'm happier with the second book in the series than the first, because it's been incubating on the hard drive for a while, while I've been playing with book one again. Book three is sitting idle, waiting for me to resume the car chase scene I abandoned it in.

Why would I abandon a perfectly good car chase? Because I found out that book one was more of a car accident. Thanks to the insightful and delightful editorial input of one @FeakySnucker, every confusing thing is being excised or rewritten. And I'm grateful.

The process of writing seems to breed inconsistency. The more I wrote, the more alive my characters became in my head, the more I went back and changed things. Turns out, a lot of those changes created strange loops, redundancy, and a host of other problems. The biggest problem? The story changed or grew in my head without any of that information landing on the page. Not exactly convenient for the reader, eh?

Since I don't write specifically for the mind-readers of the world, it's fantastic to have someone point out the confusing bits. I know the story so well now that I'm incapable of seeing the deficiency. My brain fills in the gaps with the information it knows should be there.

When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher was explaining the importance of punctuation. He asked for a volunteer to stand up and read a paragraph out loud. I'm a dork, so I volunteered. The sample had no punctuation marks. The teacher, who obviously didn't know me very well yet, expected me to read it as one long breathless blob of words. My brain wouldn't allow that. I read it like it SHOULD have been written, inserting my own pauses where they clearly should have been. The teacher was flustered, and asked me to sit down, complaining that I was clearly too good a reader for that particular exercise.

But that's what my brain tends to do. When there's a mistake, I fix it automatically and move on. Just like with the little blobby writing sample, if I KNOW something should be in there, I fill in the gap and keep going. It might be selective blindness, or maybe I just have some sort of mental spackle that smooths all the rough bits and plot holes out.

And that, my friends, is why a good editor or crit partner is worth their weight in helium. (Comment context for the science-impaired: since helium is lighter than air, amassing enough to equal a human's weight is impossible, thus rendering their value as infinitely increasing.)

So all that setup (Look Ma! Backstory!) goes to prove a single point. I had to essentially rewrite the first chapter of the first book in the series last night. I was up until 3 in the morning, but I murdered half a dozen darlings, and wrote three new paragraphs that set the stage so much better. They explain the essential conflict of the story. I'd assumed all along that everyone would understand the MC's problem immediately, but then it was pointed out to me that I never really explained it at all! Crap! So now it's in there.

I'm going back to reread from the beginning, and hopefully I'll tweak and clarify a bit more before the mental spackle starts spreading over it again.

Just for fun, now: Things overheard in my house in the last 24 hours:

Me, being a bad influence: Lulu, you want to have cake for lunch?
Lulu: No, I think I want a proper lunch before cake.
Me: O_o
Lulu, 5 minutes later after rummaging through the fridge: Okay, I'll have some cake.

Helper Monkey, on leaving for work after a week of vacation: Good night, see you in the morning.
Me: Don't work too hard!
40 minutes later, the phone rings, and I panic. Phones ringing at midnight aren't usually a good thing.
HM: Guess what?
Me, panicky: What? Please tell me you're okay?
HM: Fine. I'm not scheduled to come back until tomorrow night. I'll be home in half an hour.
Me: Crap. Ten bucks in gas down the toilet...and the last night of your vacation wasted.

Oh, and I went swimming for the first time this summer. I've taken Lulu to the pool several times, but this was the first time I went in. It was so crowded, you needed a shoehorn to get in. Even the lap lane was populated with people teaching their toddlers how to doggie paddle. I managed to get about two dozen laps in, nonetheless, by swimming under, around, and through clusters of sunburned teenagers and kids in floaties. It was better than nothing. Hopefully we'll get to go back this week at a less crowded time. Usually after dark is the time to go. All the moms who sit in the lounge chairs baking themselves are gone, and the few kids tend to stick to the shallow end and let the old fogies have the lap lane.

With that cheerful thought, GET OFF MY LAWN! I'm going back to work. Thanks for tolerating me yet again.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I saw this, and it changed my life.

Three words for you: Cowboy. Monkey. Rodeo.

Yes, those are monkeys riding border collies. Yes, they are herding sheep. They did a remarkable job of it. The best part is, they really like it.

Second best part: Last night was Helper Monkey's birthday. He was in the stands. You can kind of pick him out in the second row all the way at the far left of the picture. He's one of the blurry blobs in a white shirt. Trust me, Helper Monkey enjoyed the show. Full article on the insanity here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Third Post of the Day (I know, but this is worth it)

Okay, okay. Y'all are sick to death of me. But this is a riot. Well, this first part isn't that funny. Just delicious. Our raspberry bushes are finally fruiting! YAY! Now, on to the funny.

We went bowling today, and you must see Lulu's divine technique.

For a kid with dry spaghetti for arms, she makes it work.

At the end I show the scoreboard. She's Lulu, Helper Monkey is "Monky" because they only let you have five characters in your name, and I'm "Miten". Lulu spent the entire game calling me Might-en, and her father Mawn-key. Gotta love it.

The scoring table we were at was directly under the A/C vent, so it was the perfect way to prevent melting today. I hope everyone else out there is having a cool evening (in every sense of the word).

Twitter...Is Missing!

Quick question: How do you complain to a wide audience that Twitter is down when...Twitter is down?

And not just down. I tried accessing it on every device and browser in the house, and nothing! Twitter?!


***Edit: Okay. Who broke Twitter? *foot tapping, combined with Mommy Glare*

I mean it. Who is responsible for this? You know what this means? I actually have to get back to work now. *continued tapping and glaring, with no discernible effect on the situation*

***Second Edit: How ironic is it that Twitter announced its problem on Tumblr

It's hard to stay cool in 100 degree heat

Obvious, right? But I'm staying cool for now. It's only 88 so far today, but it's supposed to hit triple digits. There's some great news to balance out the face-melting, hair-poodlifying weather, though.

The best news I've had in a while came yesterday around dinner time. I spent most of the day busy with stuff and things. I was feeling a little sad that Helper Monkey's vacation week was passing so quickly, but I was determined to enjoy it as much as possible. Then the major revelation hit. Helper Monkey let me in on the secret. Yesterday was WEDNESDAY! I spent the entire day thinking it was Thursday!

In one brilliant, shining moment, I experienced time travel! I gained a whole day! Even if it only happened inside my brain, it was a brilliant feeling. I can't even describe how happy I was.

But now it really is Thursday *checks calendar to be sure*. Yes. Today is Thursday. It's like Groundhog Day! But I only get to have two Thursdays this week (one of which, I know, was technically Wednesday, but humor me, please).

Unfortunately, the combination of heat and humidity does horrible things to my hair. This is Hat Weather. I look like a cross between Jimmy Neutron and an electrocuted poodle. During the winter, I can make my hair nearly straight. In summer it always looks like I had a drastic haircut combined with a bad perm.

So what do you do to avoid melting into the pavement on days like today? Helper Monkey has invented Oven Day Fun Time. This is similar to Rainy Day Fun Time, without the joy of putting on a bathing suit and running around the yard through a downpour. We play a lot of games. We watch movies in the basement, where it's always 15 degrees cooler than upstairs, and today, we might go bowling. Duck pin bowling. A.K.A., the GOOD kind of bowling. But I'm only going if they assure me their A/C is working, and currently blasting out snowflakes in addition to cold air.

Tonight, and I do mean late tonight, we might head over to the pool. We've only been a couple of times so far this year, and I have a feeling it will be as warm as bath water tonight. Maybe we can bring a few drinking straws, blow bubbles, and pretend it's a huge Jacuzzi.

Oh, and the editing is going like blazes! Sorry for the heat-related metaphor. Okay. The editing is going like water in a waterslide. There. That's more refreshing, right?

I'm half way through chapter two, and finding bits and pieces that need to be rewritten or moved elsewhere. I waited too long to explain a few things about the world, and I'm moving them closer to the front of the book. All this edity-wedity stuff is so thrilling! And I sincerely do mean that! :)

I love watching the story I love get better and better. :)

 I hope everyone stays cool today. Keep Cool and Have a Frozen Lemonade!

***Edit: It's easier to stay cool when I can sit in my chair and scroll through Tweeties. Also, Twitter is back now! Yay!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to the beginning, with better notes this time.

Between being on pseudo-vacation this week, and numerous tiny but time consuming chores, I haven't really been writing. Sigh, once again. This is becoming an all-too-frequent refrain around here. It's starting to sound a little whiny.

Hark! What's that yonder? *squint really hard at the horizon*

It's a PROPER edit/crit of my first manuscript! Wait...oh no! It's too much! It burns! Aaaah!

Cue much flailing and wailing and gnashing and rending. /END that silliness, pull on Big Girl Pants

Now that I've recovered from the shock that my writing isn't 100% clear and perfect (I know, right?), I have renewed purpose. I'm bowing out of the #B22K exercises for a bit. I might keep writing the WIP, but for now, the primary goal is to get book one up to snuff before finishing book three. It only makes sense.

In the mean time, I will keep writing. I can't really help myself at this point, even if it is just a few hundred words a day.

Also, I'm wondering what to do about the submissions I have out at the moment. Book One is in the hands of people with the power to make my dreams of publication come true, but now I'm terrified they aren't seeing the story at its best. Do I email them and ask for a chance to resubmit after the edits are complete? Or is that wishy-washy?

I know I'm frequently wishy-washy, so I'm not afraid of that. I just want to know what agents/editors might think of such a request. Any ideas/suggestions? Thank you all! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Long and Winding Road, or how my 11-year-old knows more Beatles songs than I do

The Helper Monkey found this cool graphic online this morning.

by Viktor Hurtz

And yes, it's worth blowing up to gigantic proportions like this. Each image is the title of a Beatles song. How many can you guess?

Well, today I learned that my kid can guess more of them than I can. She's 11. Which makes me proud, and a little sad. I stink with names/titles/etc. I can sing the tune that goes with most of the images, but getting the title right escapes me sometimes. But I knew Lulu would be a champ at this. She's in her room right now, in fact, listening to the Beatles. They're her favorite band of all time. Well, them and U2. I will accept your congratulations on this fact right now. No Justin Bieber in this house! :)

After five minutes on research into this image, though, I discovered the artist is running a Funded by Me campaign to get his posters printed. If you have $30 to spare and a love of good music, please check them out. They are amazing! He has different bands to pick from, everything from Elvis to Iggy Pop. He's only raised $610 of his $3500 goal, so go check it out. If I didn't already blow this month's budget by fixing Helper Monkey's Jeep, and blow next month's budget shopping for a new TV, I'd sign up for one of these in a hot second. (also, Lulu's birthday is next month, so for friends and family scratching their heads, this might be a great gift idea, wink wink nudge nudge. Oh, she also wants a Fez, because "Fezzes are cool," according to Doctor Who.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Let's Play a Game, how about, which finger is the band-aid on? Answer: All of them!

Well, well, well. It's been a very interesting couple of days. I was going to start with the most telling moment and make this post all clever and sophisticated by then "flashing back" to all the correspondingly nit-witty moments of the last few days, but I'm all out of clever.

The First Bad Thing: Our living room TV crapped out for no discernible reason. Lulu was watching Spongebob one minute, and nothing the next. We tried for about six hours to figure out what was wrong with it before we finally gave up and brought out Ye Olde TeeVee from Lulu's room, and put the newer, albeit dead, unit on the floor. The 20-year-old tv has a bizarrely blurry picture, but then again, I think I was just used to looking at HD. The 10-year-old, yet dead, tv wasn't HD, but it was more than 10 years younger than the ancient beast we're using until we buy a new one. It's amazing what 10 years of technological advancement means in a TV.

Okay. I was upset about having to shell out a few hundred bucks for a tv this week, but I was getting used to the idea. Then last night Helper Monkey was leaving for work, and came back a minute later. His "Check Engine" light was on, and he wanted to take my truck to work. Fine. I know he needed a tune up, and I even knew why his check engine light was on. I'd been putting off tuning his Jeep for a month or so, but I knew last night I couldn't wait any longer. I'm not fond of mechanic work, but I'm competent. I just don't like to get that greasy. So this morning, I loaded Lulu into the Jeep, and we headed off to the auto parts shop.

Sidebar for a moment here: Tomorrow is Father's Day, just in case y'all forgot. I have to work the baseball game (which inexplicably, I just typed as "basebally game"). We'd been planning to order pizza tonight, and Helper Monkey proclaimed his desire to have a beer with his pizza. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and get beer while I was out getting auto parts. Helper Monkey was unaware that I'd severely depleted our beer stockpile over the last week or so, and I couldn't have him disappointed on Makeshift Father's Day. We also needed to make a stop at Dairy Queen, because that's how I managed to bribe Lulu into coming out with me.

So we went into the store, bought spark plugs and wires, but I couldn't convince the guy working there that the Jeep did, indeed, require two PCV valves, so I have to go back and finish the job another day. I didn't feel like standing there arguing with him, though, so I took my purchases and headed off for alcohol.

I bought a case of Guinness Black Lager for the Helper Monkey, swung by Dairy Queen (which I keep wanting to spell "Diary Queen"), and we headed home. My hands were full of auto parts and beer, while I trudged toward the garage refrigerator to deposit the bottles. I got the fridge door open, and then the handle on the case ripped and the smashing commenced. I nearly cried. All that Nectar of the Gods, gushing out onto the concrete! Forsooth!

Luckily, only two bottles of the 12 smashed. Still. Sad.

Even worse: Trying to rip the box apart to salvage what I could before the entire garage flooded with Guinness, I ripped open my finger on one of the broken bottles. I didn't even realize I was bleeding until I got into the house and couldn't figure out why my hand was still wet.

Oh, and this morning, I cut a different finger on a can I was rinsing out for the recycling. So I have matching gashes on each hand.

Okay, so I came inside to let the engine cool down enough to work on, and we ordered pizza. The pizza was great! Every story needs a little break in the tension, after all. Pizza makes for a great break. STET.

After dinner, I headed out to do the tune-up. It should take about 40 minutes. It SHOULD take about 40 minutes, but I'm a ninny. I got 5 of the 6 plugs and wires replaced, but the last one just WOULD NOT COME OUT!!! I cursed the Chrysler corporation for putting the last spark plug right up against the alternator. What ding dongs.....oh. Right. I have a wrench attachment to go around corners that fixes that problem. Which I only remembered after ten minutes of wrench wrestling, cursing, wailing, and grumpiness.

Still, Chrysler put the battery in the way of replacing the right headlight. You actually have to remove the battery to change the wee tiny light bulb. Ding dongs. So I feel justified in cursing them, even though I had an easier solution to my current problem at hand.

The Jeep runs like a dream now.

I have a picture that I only realized the true magnitude of when I looked at it later. I wanted to send my step-father a picture of the offending spark plug that caused the fault, but the defunct TV is on the floor in the background.

I am the queen of Defunct Things.
When I was done, I was informed I needed to wash up before I was allowed to touch anything. Before I started work, I put a band-aid on my owie finger. Can you guess which finger that was?

Hint: It's the one that looks different.
So that ended up being the Helper Monkey's father's day. He gets a like-new car (with 218,000 miles on it), pizza, beer, and a frazzled, injured wifey. Oddly, it works out for us.

Now I hope the people at the ball game tomorrow night don't think my hands are still dirty when I serve them beer. It's 100% impossible to remove All The Grease in one day.

If only I could write this many words on my WIP today! That would be a true miracle. But seeing as how the Helper Monkey will be up in about 15 minutes, and it's his first day of vacation, I figure I should hang out with him tonight.

#b22k will have to wait

For those unfamiliar with #B22K, this is the creation of Lindsay Smith. She explains it on her blog here.

The idea is that you find time for writing every day. That you make time for writing every day, and set goals. In this case, the goal is 2k words. I started off the challenge with the best of intentions and the worst timing. I keep swearing to get more written every day, and then the fates conspire against me with finger injuries, car maintenance, and smashy beer.

I WILL write more. Dang it. Just not tonight. I need a nap now.

Words: 54,145
Pages: 179

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lost in New York City, or Writing About Somewhere I'm Not

Okay fellow writers, here's a head scratcher for you. Sure, I wouldn't be in this predicament if I were a plotting plotter, but this is the dilemma my pantsing has led me to. I hope someone out there has some advice, or at least some tea and sympathy. Or even just some tea.

My current project has my main characters running around New York City. I'm 54k words into the project, so New York is staying put as the location. Right now, I need to get my characters from Harlem to Queens. They're following some bad guys in a car across the Queensboro Bridge. They NEED to cross this PARTICULAR bridge, but when I tried to get a good location view on Google maps, it jumps around between the upper deck, the lower deck, and the surface streets of Queens below the bridge as I tried to trace the route visually. THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING I WANT TO CRY!!!

I just need to know what the first possible exit street from the lower deck of the bridge is. My MC needs to be waiting there to pick up her surveillance on the bad guy's car. AND I CAN'T FIGURE THIS OUT!!! GAH!!!

Are any of you familiar with the Queensboro bridge? Or know someone who is? Can you ask that person to let me know?

I sincerely appreciate it. I will reward anyone who can share this info with me. I'll buy ten copies of your next book. I'll name my next pet after you. I'll climb up on the roof and sing a song about your gloriousness and post it on YouTube. Whatever you want! I'll do anything! You name it!

Can you tell I'm desperate here?

I've never had this kind of trouble before. My first novel in this series was set in places I'm very familiar with (Miami, Washington, DC, Boston, Maine), and the second was set in parts of Europe I was able to do a massive amount of research on. This third novel I had to go and set in a city I'm marginally familiar with, but haven't spent a huge amount of time wandering around. At least, I haven't spent a lot of time studying exit ramps from the Queensboro Bridge. Who the heck would do that? Well, I should have.

I'm about to the point where I'm going to take a day and drive up there, cross the bridge, maybe have lunch somewhere in Atlantic Beach, and drive home again. Talk about a long, boring waste of a day just to see what the first stinking cross street is on the Queens side of the bridge is! :)

UPDATE: While trying to copy an image of the Google Map to this post, I realized I was being a nincompoop. I just had to get them to travel across the upper deck of the bridge instead of the lower, and ALL THESE PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED! *doing the victory dance*

This is what happens when tired writer tries to write tired. From now on, I will hash out all my problems in blog post format, just to torture my few loyal readers. It seems to work! :)

Queensboro Bridge: Image from

Now that I've solved my own problem, it's time to go fix the MS.

Have any of you ever had difficulties writing about a city other than your hometown? How did you go about solving your difficulties? I'll probably have other location problems at some point in the future, and not all of them might be solved this easily!

Thanks again, everyone!

Happy writing!

Oh, and the Progress-o-Meter is running well lately:

Words: 53,650
Pages: 178

Though, these stats are only valid BEFORE I fixed the problems listed above.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Something Fun

Thanks to T.Z. Wallace, I have something fun to do while my feet recover. Well, something fun other than work on my writing... which I swear I'm getting to soon. I got my ice cream, the house is quiet (other than the tv) since Lulu is at a friend's for the night, and I swore I would get writing tonight. It will happen, just as soon as I fulfill my obligations here.

I'm not sure I follow seven blogs that haven't already participated in this award, but if you follow me and you haven't already done this, feel free to take the mantle upon yourselves with my blessing.

The first duty of the Versatile Blogger is to list seven things about themselves you might not have known before. This will be difficult, because I basically spew everything that comes into my head out on to paper or pixels somewhere or another. I'll take a stab at it anyway... here goes.

1. I'm hopelessly addicted to Dr. Pepper.

2. I'm also hopelessly addicted to any tv show about crime and the solving of said crime.

3. I tend to go on book buying binges, downloading or otherwise ordering about ten books at a time. Then it takes me six months to read them all before I repeat the craziness.

4. I love to cook, but between Helper Monkey and Lulu, I'm limited to about three things that everyone in the house actually likes, so I end up making a lot of spaghetti.

5. There is a bear on the loose in my neighborhood over the last day or two. I hope they don't shoot it, but this is not a normal occurrence. It's been freaking me out.

6. I tend to say whatever comes into my head. And I have a strange, snarky sense of humor that I've recently discovered is not appreciated as widely as I thought it was.

7. I'm not good at holding my tongue. It regularly gets me into trouble.

So there you have it. My second duty was to forward this on to seven other bloggers, but as I've said, I'm not sure anyone I follow hasn't already participated. If you want to participate, please leave a link in the comments below to your post of seven fabulous facts about yourself! Enjoy!

Sunburned Feet and the Insidious Blisters (my next band name)

I've had a full day to recover from Girl Scouts Rock the Mall, and all I have left are blisters. The sunburn on the tops of my feet (I changed into flip flops when my shoes started hurting, but forgot to sunscreen my feet) is fading. The bruises on my right hand from repeatedly putting on and taking off a heavy backpack are fading. Just the blisters remain. Unfortunately they are on the BOTTOMS of my feet, right up by my toes. How does this even happen? My feet are so callused I can use them as a pin cushion, but I still manage to get blisters?

Firemen hosing us off to keep us cool. They kept this up for hours. Note: Lincoln Memorial and WWII memorial in background. I love this city.

A closer-in shot:

And me, post-drenching:

And a small (incredibly tiny) part of the crowd:

Frankly, the best part of the whole event was running under the fire hoses. There were two guys at the top of the bucket truck all afternoon, and they delighted in soaking us with a misting hose, and then surprising us with a blast from the cold fire hose set to full blast. Well, probably not full blast, but you know, really strong compared to the misting. I tried to get a shot of their faces, but I couldn't get close enough without soaking my camera, so I wanted to make sure everyone knew I don't think they stopped grinning all afternoon. Thanks, DCFD!

We're also officially part of a Guinness World Record, for largest sing-along. We had over 250,000 people all singing at once. It's probably the only thing I could have managed to do to get into the Guinness Book, since I can't fit a berjillion straws in my mouth, or shoot milk out my eye for distance, or anything else cool like that. Which is probably a good thing.

Anyhoo, I've been hobbling around the house for the last two days, avoiding touching my feet at all for fear they'll explode like two little bombs. That's how they feel, anyway. But things are looking up. I have to put shoes on in a few minutes to drive Lulu to a friend's house for a sleepover. This is both good, and bad, and good again.

Good, because she's going to be away so I'll have a lot of time to write tonight. Bad because putting on shoes sounds like torture. And good, because I promised to take her and her friend out for ice cream. Mainly so I'd have a good enough reason to put shoes on. Ice cream is good enough today.

So, out to ice cream, and de-kid-ification, and then back home to write! Whoo hoo!

I hope it's a good writing night.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Last and First (and 100th)

It's the last day of school here, and the first day of summer. The last day of 6th grade for my daughter, the first day of being a 7th grader. I feel so old. I can't believe the tiny little bundle that once made me cry because she wouldn't stop crying long enough for me to eat dinner is half way through her standard education. Yikes!

With that note of nostalgia, on with the updates.

Last night we went bowling for Family Night. We haven't been tenpin bowling in years. For those who are unfamiliar with the bowling habits of the Mid-Atlantic Region, we have something called "Duck Pin Bowling" here, which is a lot more fun, in my opinion, than regular old bowling. Duckpins are shorter, fatter, and bouncier than tenpins, and the ball is the size of a large grapefruit. You also get three balls per frame, and a strike is exceedingly rare. It's a game of spares. A fantastic duckpin average, like for the top players in the country, is in the neighborhood of 145. So I don't feel as bad that I can't break 100 as I do when I bowl tenpins. In fact, no one has ever, in history, bowled a perfect game of duckpins.

I also think that Wii Bowling has completely ruined my form. But that's another matter entirely. Excuses, excuses. (My fingernail broke! I'm tired from donating blood still! My shoes are too slippery! Whaaa!) I was so bad, the kid nearly beat me, and she doesn't weigh much more than the ball.

Anyway, on the way home last night, we drove through some strange weather. A narrow line of horrible storms passed overhead, and quickly rinsed the whole world down in our path. We chased the clouds most of the way home, and were treated to some lovely views of the brightest rainbow I've seen in a long time.

Tomorrow is a big day for us. We're going down to the National Mall to celebrate Girl Scouts Rock the Mall, along with about 200,000 other people from around the world. It's the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting this year, and the Guinness Book of Records people are going to be there. We're going to try to set a record for the most number of people participating in a sing-along. It should be fun.

This is also my first trip into the city in a couple of months. Last time, I wanted to go into the National Archives, but we ran out of time. I don't care what happens this time, darn it, I'm going in there. Sure, it's awesome to see the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, but part of the novel I'm querying right now takes place inside the building, and I'm eager to double-check that my memory of the place isn't faulty. It's been a couple of years since I was inside, and I just hope I wrote everything accurately. I'm pretty sure I did, but it's still something that's been bugging me. It will be a relief to just walk through the parts of the building I wrote about.

I have one more day of alarm clocks, and then I'm free for four whole weeks before I have to set another alarm. I'm very pleased about this. I am NOT a morning person. In fact, most of my writing is done late at night, and I'm really looking forward to getting a lot more done on my WIP once I don't have to wake up early every morning.

 So I suppose that's all for now. I've been so busy with the boring necessities of life for the last few days that I haven't been writing. This is probably starting to sound old. More excuses.

I think part of my problem stems from the fact that I'm now working on the third novel in a series. I'm querying the first, but the Helper Monkey thinks the second book is actually better than the first. Still, writing something than may never see the light of day is a little disheartening.  Granted, I've only sent out a few queries in the last couple of months, what with revisions, contest entries, and other things making me hold off on querying. Now so many agents are closing to submissions for the summer, I feel like I should just keep writing now, and then go back and maybe edit the whole series again when I'm done.

More circular work lies ahead.

So for now, I'll just keep writing. I don't know how to do anything else. Even if it never gets published, it's still what keeps me going. And it still makes me happy. In the end, that's what I started writing for in the first place. I never intended it to do anything else. I never wrote a single word for another person. Every last keystroke has been for my own sake, not for anyone else. If anyone decides it's worthy of publication, more power to it. Until then, I'll keep my sanity and just keep writing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blah blah blah (in the teacher's voice from Peanuts cartoons)

This is sort of how I've been interacting with the world for the last few days, and I just realized it. This makes me sad, and yet relieved.

I tend to get a little dissociative when I'm under a lot of pressure, or when the pressure finally breaks and I can take a few deep breaths. Right now, I'm under a lot of pressure in one area of my life, but another huge burden is about to be lifted. Without going into the tedious details, it's enough to know that the odd combination of things going on has led to a mild state of depression. Not sadness, it's more like my body and brain go into a sort of static hold pattern.

The good thing is that I noticed it. Sometimes I don't, and it just gets worse and worse until Helper Monkey things he's living with a 5'7" slug instead of a human being. By the time I've completely turned into a puddle of goo, he'll point out the goo is starting to leak all over the floor, and maybe I want to consider doing something about it. He's lucky this time. I'm already mopping before he even realized the goo was oozing.

Battling back from the doldrums is hard. I don't want to do it. I'd rather wallow right now. That won't help anyone, and there's still stuff to do, and that pressurized situation is ongoing whether I want it to be or not. I have to get jumping on it. So that's what I'm doing today. I'm making sure the whole world doesn't fuzz out, that things keep getting taken care of, because if I don't do them, nobody will, and when I finally come out the other side of this funk, Bad Things will be waiting for me if I shut down completely now.

Sorry if this doesn't make much sense, but this post is my personal pep talk. It's sort of working, so thanks for bearing with me.

In other, more human news, yesterday was a wash because the new Anita Blake novel came out, and after reading 20 books in a series, you kind of feel obligated to read the 21st. So I did. It took up most of the day, but I'm glad I read it.

Over this past weekend, I beta read for a Twitter friend, and LOVE LOVE LOVED her concept and characters! Thanks so much, Tamara, for letting me take a sneak peek at Moondreamer! And of course, being me, I can't wait for the an unpublished beta read....because there must be a sequel! :)

So much reading, but little writing this week. It is the last week of school, and then Saturday is the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts, and the huge Rock the Mall event in D.C. So I get to go sing campfire songs with 250,000 other Girl Scouts. After that, no alarm clock for FOUR WEEKS! Yay! Four whole wonderful weeks of sleeping until I'm done. I won't have any idea what to do with myself. Probably, I'll write a whole lot more, since I won't be so freaking sleep deprived.

That will be good. And hopefully, the rest of the world will come back into focus soon. At least I know it's blurry now, though, which is a huge step up from yesterday.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blood and other necessasry things

Every 112 days, I'm eligible to donate blood. I'm tall enough, heavy enough, and A-negative enough to qualify to donate Double Red cells. This is not a regular blood donation. It's the super robot high tech blood donation. And it makes me LOOPY. I apologize in advance if this blog entry is less-than-sane.

They hook me up to an apheresis machine, which sucks out a regular unit of blood, spins out all the red blood cells, mixes the leftover bits (plasma, white cells, etc.) with some bizarro chemical, and then shoots the liquidy bits back into me. Then it repeats the entire process (draw out a unit of blood, spin, mix, return the dregs). It takes about an hour, makes my lips and nose tingle (that bizarro chemical's reaction), drops the body temperature (it's COLD in the Red Cross, and having two pints of 60-degree plasma shot into you in under an hour is chilling), and makes me woozy for a few days.

I hate feeling short of breath from climbing a single flight of stairs. I'm not fond of the lethargy. But then again, the person or people who benefit from my blood probably aren't fond of being in a hospital fighting for their lives. I figure my day or two of wooziness is a fair trade for someone's life. Especially knowing that my blood is usually used for premature babies and infants with chronic illnesses. Definitely worth the wooziness. And I got free cookies!

So if you aren't a regular blood donor, please think about going out this week to give a pint. It takes less than an hour, and you'll get free cookies. Oh, and you might save someone's life.

Only 5% of the eligible population actually donates regularly, and the donor center I went to today was deserted. It kind of makes me nervous to think if my life were on the line, there might not be any blood for me. My blood type is rare enough that I do worry about it once in a while... So if you're one of the rarer blood types, especially, please think about making donation a regular part of your life.

Plus, doesn't this look awesome? (squeamish people, please hit "page down" a couple of times right now)

Going Out

Coming back

Thanks for listening, or reading. Whatever. Loopy, remember?

So I finally managed to buy a ton of food that pleases both the Helper Monkey and Lulu. I was all set to put a roast in the crock pot this morning before going off to get loopy. But apparently I started out pre-loopified this morning, and I totally forgot. So, tomorrow we have the roast. Last night we had salmon steaks, corn on the cob, and taters. Starch city, but it was good.

Tonight, I was absolutely too whacked to cook, so we had pizza. The loopy continued, with Mr. Happy Sriracha Sauce Pizza Face Man.

Doesn't he look happy? He did, until I ate his face. Tasty!

Okay, where was I? Right. I've been Writing Actual New Words! Hooray! I hope they're not as kooky as I feel, but they actually exist, which is more than I can say about most of the week's writing progress.

Helper Monkey now has a new alert function: The Warning Siren of Distraction. Next time someone offers me a lovely gift that will clearly become an obsession, he's supposed to slap me on the back of the head like Gibbs on NCIS. Hopefully this tactic will work.

I'm not sure if it's a function of the bipolar disorder, or if I'm just a smidge OCD as well, but when I'm presented with a project that has a definite structure (such as a scarf to crochet, or a book to read), I tend to drop EVERYTHING ELSE, nearly to the point of forgetting to eat and sleep, until said project is complete. It's a Bad Thing. It's probably the Worst Thing, in fact. Anything that keeps me from writing regularly causes a backlog of the kinds of obsessive mental problems writing helps me deal with every day.

As much fun as it was to do something different for a few days, I'm suffering all around for not writing. But now I'm back at it. And oddly, I have a new idea for a new book, completely unrelated to the series I'm working on right now. We'll have to see if it goes anywhere, and I really have to get the first draft of the WIP done before I start anything new. Otherwise, I'll be stuck in a much larger version of the cycle of distraction I was trapped in for most of the week. Finish one project, then start the next. It's the only way I can work.

I'm completely envious of people who can work on two separate novels at the same time, but I just can't handle it.

Does anyone out there currently have two Works in Progress? I'd love to know how you juggle them both, or if you have a schedule for writing two works at a time. How do you balance it? How do you keep everything straight in your head? Just wondering. If you have a good strategy for managing it all, I'd be willing to give it a try... *frantic scanning of the room, waiting for the Gibbs Head Slap*

So that's it. Back to work! And it's now far enough out from the blood donation that I'm allowed A Happy-Ass Drink.


Words: 52,458
Pages: 174

Friday, June 1, 2012

Strange Food Issues and Other Obsessions

My family is hard to cook for. Strangely, it's not the 11-year-old that has the food issues. It's the Helper Monkey with the sensitive tummy. Poor Sad Monkey!

I can't cook with peppers, and onions are only used sparingly. Chicken is boring. He's sick of pizza and pasta. That leaves me with few options on busy nights. I rely on stir-fry with rice or noodles a lot of nights because I'm too busy to cook a more complicated meal. Unfortunately, he hates this. Unfortunately, Lulu loves it. Her favorite snack is sliced bell peppers. I guess I should be glad she loves the vegetables, but I have to control myself because Helper Monkey would live on meat and carbs if I let him.

Dinner last night was a breaking point. I made a stir fry with chicken and veggies (leaving out the peppers and adding a bit of onion to balance out the flavor). Lulu loved it, I ate the whole thing, and Helper Monkey picked at it with disappointed chagrin. Again, Poor Sad Monkey!

I asked what I can make that doesn't take hours, but would be satisfying and tasty. I was told "Pot Roast." So today I head out to the grocery store for slabs of meat and bags of potatoes. I was also told to buy more fresh fish. My complaint about that: you have to use it THAT DAY. I am NOT going to the grocery store every day for fish, even though I'm on board the more fresh fish bandwagon.

So that's the current dilemma. At least I had a cure ready for last night's dinner faux pas. I took Lulu and the Helper Monkey to Dairy Queen. DQ fixes everything.

Birthday Cake Blizzards!
In other news, I finally finished the scarf made from the gifted yarn. I complained that I haven't been writing, and it was starting to get to me in a bad way. Once again, the Helper Monkey pointed out what should have been obvious. He watched me accept the gift of yarn, and only told me last night that he knew it would cause this problem. He knew I'd let everything else in the world fall by the wayside until I finished the yarn project. He's promised to warn me next time someone tries to give me something nice, so I can politely decline the gift in favor of keeping my sanity.

I have a little problem that once I start something, I MUST SEE THE ENTIRE PROJECT THROUGH!!! I have a hard time letting things go, and I'm limited in how much I can multitask. When something like a beautiful skein of yarn comes my way, I'm incapable of focusing on anything else until the project is done. Sort of like reading a new book. I can't write until I finish reading. It's like throwing a wrench into an engine.  I have to spend a whole day taking the engine apart and carefully putting it back together instead of just pulling the wrench out and starting it up again. If I start something, by goshen, I'm going to finish it.

The Scarf of Glorious Obsession. At least it's purty.

So with that inspiring philosophy, I've got errands to run this afternoon before I get back to writing tonight. And tomorrow, I get to go donate double red cells to the Red Cross. To anyone who needs A-negative blood this weekend, you're welcome.

One last thing before I go: I had a weird moment this morning when one of my sister's books, Sex Made Easy, was featured on the local news this morning! Yay!