Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We have been incredibly lucky. Despite living in a veritable forest, we don't seem to have lost any trees. There are branches, leaves, and other debris everywhere, but a walk through the neighborhood showed no significant damage. The neighbors we ran into were equally pleased and puzzled.

Spot the deer! She was herding her two kids up the street this morning. We've watched the babies grow up all summer, so I'm glad to see they made it through the storm.
I know many people, especially to the north and east, didn't fare so well. Our thoughts are with you as you rebuild, recover, and get back to normal. Hopefully you're all intact, out there. We've been following the reports on tv in shock and horror. I wish I had better words of comfort for you, but I know what you're going through. I'm right there with you, in spirit.

During the worst part of the storm last night, Lulu hunkered down in our room. She fled her boring parents about 1 am when she realized we had no plans to turn the tv off. So now we know we're worse company than howling wind. I knew this day would come. Life with an almost-teenager is certainly rewarding.

The picture above is from the bottom of my driveway to the lake waaaaaay down below. It's hard to tell from this angle, but that floating dock off to the right? It's not floating. It was marooned up on land when the water crested last night. And that tree in the lake? It wasn't there yesterday. Someone lost a tree somewhere. We found it!

During the worst of the storm, that manhole and those gray rocks (which are part of the drainage system in the neighborhood) were covered with water. O.O

Someone's been busy! Even without the for sale sign out front, it isn't hard to guess which house is on the market. It's the one with NO LEAVES ON THE GROUND ANYWHERE INCLUDING THE STREET. We thought this was weird. The rest of the street is paved with leaves and branches.

And we actually got mail! Sure, it's completely soaked, but it's here! Sorry you're all wrinkly and sodden, Oriental Trading Kid. It's kind of nice to know the USPS still takes that "neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night" stuff seriously.

We're still getting a little drizzle, and the rivers haven't crested yet, so likely there will be more flooding, but the worst is done for us. Nothing has been more helpful than the care and support shown on Twitter. Y'all are amazing people out there. We got off easy here, but it's still good to know everyone else did, too. Not to mention some of the amazing heroic tales I've heard.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who put themselves in harm's way so the rest of us could stay safe. We owe you all. You're heroes in my book. And I do mean that quite literally. I can't thank any of you enough.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rain, rain, go away.

So far Sandy hasn't succeeded in blowing us away.

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In fact, it isn't really windy at all. Just rainy. We're still holding on.

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Poor duckies!

I hope everyone in Sandy's way is all battened and hunkered. Good luck to you all.

I've got a big pot of chili and I've done just about everything possible to prepare. I've got my flashlights, lanterns, candles, and my weather radio. I've got a jacuzzi tub full of water, and two freezers full of ice. Both trucks are gassed up, and we're ready to use the fireplace if worse comes to worst. Have I forgotten anything? (before you answer, bear in mind I have plenty of cookies, twinkies, and candy. I have the ice cream on standby if the power goes out.)

Here's our current view of the lake. It's running a LOT higher than usual, and is as muddy as I've ever seen it. We've already had more than 4 inches of rain, and it all runs down into the lake. It's really a dammed river, so hopefully they'll be able to safely open the flood gates without flooding the lower-lying creeks and the Monocacy river downstream.

Seriously, everyone. I hope you're all holding up. Good luck to you all, and hopefully we'll all be here in the morning. Drop us a line and let me know you're still there! *clings to all my internetly friends* BE SAFE!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frankenstorm: Is it time to panic yet?

For those who don't know, Helper Monkey works at a grocery store. He gets to witness storm panic first hand. When he got home this morning, he said the lines were out the door, and they were selling bottled water faster than they could restock the shelves. O.o

Also for those who don't know, I grew up in Miami. I survived Hurricane Andrew. We didn't have power for nine days after the storm. We didn't kill each other. There was no zombie uprising. Life went on.

A few years ago, we had Hurricane Irene hit the DC area, and watched appalled as folks prepared for the storm like they do for a blizzard. They lined up to buy bread, milk, and toilet paper. Sure, these things are all dandy, but when the power goes out, you're going to want a whole different list of things on hand. I think they've learned their lesson now.

My family and I go camping frequently, so we have a lot of the things that people might need in a power outage. Lanterns, batteries, a radio that works with a hand crank instead of batteries. We have ways to stay warm if the heat fails (since we have an electric heat pump). We have a fireplace and plenty of wood. We don't mind living off the grid for a few days, should our power go down. It's not fun to think about losing access to the internet, and not being able to write after my laptop battery and the backup battery both conk out, but I would live through it.

I volunteered to go to the grocery store today, but Helper Monkey vetoed that idea. He'll pick things up before he leaves work at 6 am. There shouldn't be horrible lines then. So far, my list of emergency supplies we need consists of:


Yes. One item. We went shopping a few days ago. I don't want to fill the freezer or fridge with things that would spoil. We always have a supply of canned goods and other foods that are shelf stable. I'm sure I'll add to the list throughout the day, but after Andrew, I can't really get worked up over a storm with merely 70-mph-winds. And we live so far inland, and up in the mountains (yes, technically they are mountains), I'm not particularly worried about my own house weathering the storm.

I am worried about all the low-lying, coastal dwelling folks not too far from here. If any of you want to camp out at my house, we're all ready. Bring marshmallows. We'll make s'mores and tell ghost stories.

So, the thing I'm worried about most at the moment are the ice cream I bought last week and had been saving for a rainy day. I guess I'll be devouring the Sea Salt Caramel Gelato in the next two days. That's right. Remember, everyone! Frankenstorm isn't even due to hit for ANOTHER TWO DAYS! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PANIC YET! GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS! You have time to run all the errands, to fill your tank with gas, to make sure your zombie-slaying kit is in full working order!

And with that, I'm off to assemble my zombie-slaying kit. If I get cut off from the digital world, send flamethrowers. Good luck to you all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not Tweetworthy (the first in an occasional series)

I constantly think thoughts. Obvious, right? It's kinda hard not to. I am not unique.

Some of those thoughts send my fingers dashing toward Twitter to inform the world of my quirky insight, my spot of humor, or my share-worthy pain. But what happens when a random thought just doesn't translate into a well-crafted tweet? Until yesterday, I was stumped.

I had some mildly interesting things to say, but no place to say them. The next best thing to sharing them with the world, in my mind, was to at least write them down for myself. In retrospect, it's been a strange and eye-opening experiment. I'd like to share my random un-tweet-worthy thoughts with y'all. I also plan to continue my experiment, and will share my results on occasion. Likely that means I'll be sharing them when I don't have anything else to blog about for more than a few days in a row.

Enjoy the crumbs of my overactive imagination!

Carl Approves This Message.
  • Why are the Thompson Twins three people?
  • I bet there is a fireplace app for cell phones that fills the screen with tiny flames. It might be more effective to just set the phone on fire.
  • I was in the mood for cheese, but the only cheese in the house was either unnaturally orange squares or unnaturally orange glop. I went with the glop, because CORN CHIPS.
  • Eva Longoria called me today. It was a recording for a state ballot question. But now I can say that Eva Longoria called me today, and not be lying about it.
  • The thing about NCIS that bothers me the most is that their coffee cups are always empty. You can tell because they SOUND empty when they put them down, yet they keep pretending to drink. At least put some water in there. Something!
  • How the hell did Wang Chung get stuck in my head?
  • You know it's getting bad when you stop muting the political ads and start heckling them, and not in your "inside voice."
  • Addendum to the above: The name of my next band is Reckless Agenda.
  • WHY do I keep getting robo calls that begin, "If you are a senior citizen..."? I SWEAR I AM 38 DAMN YEARS OLD! I do not need whatever the hell you are selling!
  • I think I've developed an ellipsis problem...
OH! And I actually have Progress to report on the Progress-o-Meter! Yes! Despite using my brain to think up the dubious brilliance above, I still had time to write a bunch of new words! Woo hoo! And I'm headed back to the WIP right now, so...Look out crazy bad guys, my MC's are hot on your tails.

Words: 58,072
Pages: 181

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Murdered Gary (my kindle) and Other Tales of Horror

Our camping weekend at Hersheypark was a lot of fun. There was this:

Luckily he didn't show up at our camp site to make s'mores.

Since it's Hersheypark in the Dark, here's the Wildcat all lit up. Roller coasters in the dark! It was awesome!

There was chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. And roller coasters. All of this was very, very good. Camping in the near-freezing cold wasn't bad, either. Once the thunderstorms died down. Luckily we were at Chocolate World during the worst of the weather. And I don't think I'd care if it were raining tarantulas if I were indoors at a place called Chocolate World. Am I right?

So, back to camp. Where everything started going sideways. First, there's Gary. Poor, dearly departed Gary! I'm crying in my soup! Here's his memorial photograph:

I laid down in the dark the other night, and had Gary in my hand. Before my head even hit the pillow, I heard a snapping noise, which was apparently my thumb crushing his poor little screen. I could just die, and you can bury me alongside dearest Gary. RIP, Gary. You will be missed.

It's hard to believe things get worse than that, but they do.

They have EXTREMELY SPECIFIC speed limits in Hershey.

We got up early today, packed up, and my BRAND NEW sleeping pad got doused with soda. It's sticky and stained now. I haven't even used it yet. Not to mention the inside of the tent that was also soda-soaked.

The worst thing was that after everything else, my car did not start this morning. Laden with gear and girl scouts, on a SUNDAY, getting someone to come help with my truck was nearly impossible. Thank goodness for OnStar, because they worked their bottoms off trying to get someone to help. And thank goodness we were at a campground. Have you ever noticed how many helpful, kind people there are at campgrounds?

Within five minutes of raising the hood on the truck, I had half a dozen other campers gathered around to help. Eventually one of the campground employees rolled up in a golf cart, and decided he could get us up and running. He came back with jumper cables and his own truck. Within ten minutes, we were on the road. It was spectacular. So a million thanks to everyone who offered to help, everyone who works at Hershey Highmeadow, and specifically the nice man with the jumper cables. It turns out one of the battery wires had come loose. What a relief! So while I have to replace Gary, I don't also have to replace my starter or alternator or battery. :D Whoop whoop!

So that's the sad tale of my weekend. I'm going to eat away my stress by consuming the rest of the chocolate we bought.

Hope y'all had a less stressful and yet still otherwise awesome weekend! Because despite all the depressing bits, the overwhelming majority of the weekend was spectacularly fun. I am declaring this coming week the Week of Writing. Since Gary's dead, it's not like I can distract myself with reading.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Off Grid Update

It's been a crazy week. I put myself out there in a way I never thought I could. I'm now forever on the interwebs moving and talking about a novel I wrote. My Pitch Live entry made it to the agent round, but hasn't garnered any love (as of this time of this writing).

I'm also in the agent round of Hook, Line, and Sinker. Whooboy! It's all a little crazy around here with the contests and the everything else. I'll be a little relieved to lose the ability to obsessively check the internet every five seconds. I'm going camping. In the cold. :D

I am in the middle of a packing and gear-checking frenzy. Don't want to have a leaky tent in the near-freezing middle of the night.

Instead of writing this week, I ended up reading the highly entertaining @Fizzygrrl's manuscript. *pauses while you work through your jealousy* It took a whole day (like from 8 am until 2 in the morning), but it's a riot, of course!

And now I will not be able to write all weekend. I'm determined to have a little writer's retreat. Maybe I'll lock myself in the attic among all the outgrown toys and holiday decorations next week, and not come down until I have a complete first draft. On second thought, there's no bathroom up there. Maybe I'll just enact a cone of silence around my comfy chair. We'll see if that works. Updates to follow.

In the mean time, try to enjoy the internet without me. O_O

Anyone else doing something fun this weekend? Or writing?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pitch Live!

Title: Running Down the Dragon
Genre: Crime Thriller/Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 103,000

For those who are confused by this post, this is my entry into the Pitch Live! contest. Go check out that link to learn more. Thank you so much for watching. I hope it caused you no lasting damage. :D

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Twitter has improved my writing

Since it took me three tries to type the title of this post, because I kept writing IMRPOVED instead of IMPROVED, this post will not be about my typing skills. I swear, I am a decent typist. No, this post will focus on a very specific benefit I've gained from using Twitter.

I credit Twitter with a major revelation in my writing. Yes, in proper novel writing. STOP GIVING ME THAT LOOK.

No, not that look, you ickle goatie.
Close, but no cigar, fennec fox.
Yup. That's it. Stunned disbelief mixed with possible psychosis. You should get that checked out.

I originally found my lovely critique partners through a contest we all entered, but we started swapping manuscripts after spending some time chatting on Twitter. While they have been the MOST beneficial thing I've ever done for my writing, we all learn little things every day that can make us better writers. One of those things was a very slow lesson learned from tweeting. I swear.

It's hard to distill something pithy, interesting, and complex down into 140 characters (or even fewer if your tweet is an @ reply or includes a photo or link). Sure, sometimes I will sit there tweaking the words around so it fits. Sometimes I'll commit crimes against English to fit everything in. And sometimes I'll give up completely and send several tweets in a row. Believe it or not, there are lessons to be learned from that frustrating exercise.

Think of your favorite joke, something funny you saw, or an exchange you had with a friend that left you both giggling. Now fit the essence of that into a tweet. I'll give you a minute.

It's hard, right? But you can do it. Just think about it and say it using the smallest number of words possible. To do that, you have to find the BEST words. And that's how it's helped my writing.

Granted, most of that help doesn't start paying dividends until I get to the editing. First drafts are gonna be first-drafty. Long and windy, and filled with poor word choices. When I edit now, I use some of the same skills I practice on Twitter, making sentences tighter, taking out unnecessary words.

Do you tweet? If so, tweet at me sometime. If not, you might want to give it a try. There are a berjillion writers, agents, and editors online who not only know how to construct an excellent 140 character thought, but who comprise one of the most entertaining and congenial groups in all the Internets. And it might help tighten up your writing, too.

There. Now I've justified the ridiculous amount of time I spend on Twitter. Well, maybe not. But I tried. :D

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting ahead of myself again.

Oh, dear. I'm always getting ahead of myself.

First, I started writing a second series of novels before I'd finished the first. To be fair, that might not be getting ahead of myself. That's more like realizing I was running in the wrong direction. I turned around, and started a different series. The first series is now lying abandoned in an empty field somewhere. I'll go back and find it someday. Maybe It will be a glorious reunion filled with straining violins and weepy tears of joy. Or maybe it will provide hours of laughter. Either way, I will win.

Second, and more to the point of this post, I keep thinking of things I want to do in real life that tie in to my current WIP. Sure, if I ever find an agent and Thalia and company are published, I'm sure this is the sort of thing I would have to dive in to eventually. Right now, though? Why am I spending time and money on promotional tie-ins NOW? I think it's some sort of brain fever. Marketingitis.

What sort of fun and enticing promotions, you might ask? You might ask, but I'm not telling. Since I haven't actually gone through with any of them yet. I will, though, and then you will be like:

Animal Capshunz: You Woke Me Up for This?

So there. I'm not getting TOO far ahead of myself. Yet.

In other writerly news, I am happily caught up with edits/refreshing my memory on the WIP. I am also making NEW WORDS! :D


Words: 56,848
Pages: 177

So, not a LOT of new words yet, but it's been a busy few days around here (hence the dearth of new bloggity).

I am finally getting properly camp trained by the Girl Scouts. I know all this stuff already, but to be all legal and official, I have to go through the course. It was 6 hours of classwork on Sunday, and two days of actual camping in November. *let that sink in* November. Hopefully we'll have a mini-heat-wave that weekend.

Based on the class, I've decided to upgrade some of my old camping equipment. As a result, I went on a camping geek shopping spree the other day. The UPS guy will be delivering Camp Nirvana to my house today. It's kind of sad how excited I am about having a radio/flashlight/cell phone charger that runs on solar AND crank power. *stops and spends five minutes kermit-flailing* See? Sad.

So, what has you all kermit-flaily today? Had a great idea for a WIP? A banner day? Or did you just order some KILLER new camping supplies? Share your joy with me, but just don't get too far ahead of yourselves.

Errands to run, words to make, and coffee to drink.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Get Noticed in a Very Crowded Room

This post is for all my fellow querying authors. You all know just how hard it is to write the elusive perfect query; to boil your word baby down into its most exquisite essence and frame it into the most alluring three paragraphs ever written. Uh huh. That's the idea, anyway. I find the reality of my queries often fall far short of that ideal.

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Oh,hai! Lookie Heer!

Not to mention the fact that every agent you might consider sending that query to is looking for something different. It's worse than blind dating. It's blind dating where you're only allowed three minutes to say half a dozen things, and the person you're on the date with doesn't usually say more than, "No thanks, you're not what I'm looking for." It's a hard way to start off a relationship, and most of the time we walk away wishing we'd picked a different anecdote, or maybe worn the blue dress instead of the red, or even if we'd just had a snappier comment to make when we were first introduced.

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Agent A (for Awesome!) said on twitter that they love it when people include an introductory statement at the beginning of their query.

Agent B (for Badass!) said on twitter that they ABSOLUTELY DETEST when people include an introductory statement at the beginning of their query.

Agent C (for Charismatic!) said it didn't matter to them how you start your query, as long as every sentence you write makes them hunger for the next.

You see where this is going. Your perfectly distilled word baby still has to be tweaked and tinkered with every time you send it to someone new. There is no useful Query Blanket that will cover all agents.

BUT! Lo and behold! There is another fun thing you can try to catch the eye of Awesome, Badass, and Charismatic! I of course refer to the myriad contests that flourish in Blog Land. Many fantastic authors and agents conspire to bring us entertaining, creative, and plain-old-fun ways to reshape the query process from the tinkering of the same three paragraphs over and over into entirely new ways to present your writing to those who might be interested.

Yesterday's post listed a handful of upcoming contests that I plan to enter. I really do hope you'll take a look at a few of them. You never know, writing a log line and a hook sentence might catch the eye of an agent who couldn't get past the first line of your query because it just didn't appeal to them. Life is strange, and if query writing is not your strong suit, then some of these contests might be the big chance you've been looking for.

Here's links to a few of them:



Trick or Treat, with an agent!

Pitch Live! Video pitch event!

And the big doozy of all contests: The Baker's Dozen - Pitch to 15 agents!

Check a few of them out, follow a few of the hosts and participants. Heck, just check out the entries once they start going up online. Call it research and enjoy! :D

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writer Kryptonite

I'm definitely a Marvel girl, but I like the Superman imagery for this post's title. The events I'm about to relate nearly reduced me to a quivering puddle of goo. I swear, I'm not cheating on you my dear X-men and Avengers. No need to come after me with your combined crazy weapons. I swear you're the main focus of this post. *nervous laughter and twitching*

Okay, I don't really take that above paragraph seriously, but I had a strange episode yesterday. It was strange enough, and entertaining enough, for me to put it in writing. You'll see the Marvel connection momentito.

It all started off with a common enough experience: the phone rang. That's not strange all by itself, but I glanced at the caller ID before I answered. It only said "NEW YORK." And my knees turned to jelly.

*Sigh* More backstory: I'm querying right now. I have several manuscripts out to agents. Most of those agents are located in New York. I'm already a little twitchy when the phone rings or the email notice chimes, but seeing the caller is from New York, and it's not my mom or a friend or something, is just about enough to start my eyeballs doing somersaults.

So I shushed the kid, who was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework, and braced myself for anything. I answered the phone. The next 30 seconds went something like this:

ME: Hello?

PHONE: mrrflamlmmmm

ME: Um. Hello?

     *This was an ear-bleed of a high pitched noise

ME: (after recovering from the ear-bleed) Hello? HELLO?!

Then I hung up. My first thought was, "Oh, great, I just lost any chance I will EVER have of publishing/finding an agent because I just yelled at someone on the phone. They probably think I'm the nutter and there was nothing wrong with the call on their end."

Then I realized I could check and see who actually called. Google to the rescue.

I entered the number from the caller ID, and it looked at little strange. I learned something else fun about the internet, too. The number who called me was registered to Trask Industries, and even Google Maps is in on the joke.

For those not familiar with the Marvel Universe, Trask Industries is explained HERE.

So maybe it wasn't a literary agent calling to beg me to be their client, but after the simultaneous heartbreak and confusion faded, at least I was left with the notion that somewhere out there, maybe Wolverine or Iron Man will have to come to my rescue some day. If Trask is a real thing, then maybe they are too. We can hope.

With that bit of nonsense, it's time to go back to my own imaginary version of New York City, setting of the novel I'm working on at the moment.

Unicorn Pillow I made when I was 10. I sit on it while I write now. FTW.
 I can't resist. Apologies.ERMAHGERD! ERNERCERN PERLO!

NEWSLY NOTES: And for a few fun updates on things I'm participating in within the Series of Tubes:

I am working up several new contest entries this month, some of which are already in the preliminary phases. There is the Hook, Line, and Sinker contest being run through THREE fabulous blogs. Already my preliminary pitch is up over at Kat Ellis's blog for critique.

Then there's Trick or Treat with an Agent! This one is particularly fun because of the two questions entrants are asked to answer. Even if you're not entering the contest, if you are a writer you should give those questions a gander! Fun stuff!

And I can't forget the Pitch Live! Video pitch contest. This one just about killed me. I spent five hours making a video pitch, and I still hate it. *grumbles* I'm about to throw in the towel and just do a costumed chorus line routine, and possibly sing my pitch. At least then the agents who view it will have something memorable and likely a good laugh (or possibly an aneurism. Maybe I should rethink that...) I'm working up the nerve to post the video on this blog.

Also upcoming: The Authoress Baker's Dozen, with FIFTEEN agents participating! My logline is also there for preliminary critique, at #15. Kinda auspicious, right? Fifteen agents, I'm number fifteen...okay, I'll take what I can get. This one is a HUGE, MUST-NOT-MISS EVENT for the unagented among us.

There are probably others, which I'll post as I remember them. In the mean time, here's my sad Progress-o-Meter update:

Words: 55,678
Pages: 173
Edit Page: 139