Friday, August 31, 2007

In, or Out?

So, you know the rule? No adverbs? Well, I’ve been using a few adverbs in my writing, lately. It’d gotten to the point where I use practically none. (In my fiction, that is. I don’t seem to have the slightest problem using adverbs galore in my blog, LOL.)

It felt like a naughty pleasure, like a sin that was oh-so fun. I’ll let you know if it’s still there after I polish the chapter tomorrow.

Then I hear adjectives are out? No one told me! Oh shit.

I’ve also noticed (that) I’ve been missing the word that lately. I know it’s out. I eradicated it from my fiction. In my reading, I’ve also noticed (that) other authors have eradicated it, too.

But lately, I’ve found myself having to mentally insert that, in order to clear up a sentence. Right now, I’m not putting them in my fiction (except where absolutely necessary), but I’m finding (that) I want very much to put it in.

I’m told (that) it’s incorrect to use that in such a way, (that) it’s needless and leads to loose writing. But when I read all these sentences with no thats, I often have to go back and re-read the sentence, and adjust my mental inflection of the sentence.

Having to re-read a sentence and re-adjust one’s mental inflection of a sentence has always struck me as a mistake. Something I need to fix. I don’t want to interrupt the flow for a reader, not ever.

Yes, it’s tighter without the thats, but I have to re-read more often. Probably I just read too fast, and it’s something I need to adjust in my reading. Maybe I just read differently, and I need to trust the rule, in this case.

So, for the time being, thats are out, I guess. What do you think?

(If I’m a good little writer, you won’t hear from me all weekend. If you do, you can yell at me for procrastinating. I’ve got 28,000 words to write by Thursday. Plus a DH to welcome home, LOL.)

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Great News!

DH is ON HIS WAY HOME!!!!!! He’ll be here tomorrow afternoon. I’ll meet him at baggage claim, assault him with a hug, and I’m not letting go for at least thirty minutes. He’s just going to have to deal.

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

The reality of the biz definitely tipped me over this past week. It just got to a point, and one last dose of reality from just one more reality-dosing blogger just did me in. But, no matter, because you can go here and get some good news:

There’s some strange magic blogging has for me. Whenever I need something, it magically appears, out there. Sometimes it feels like it’s there just for me, LOL, even though I’m old enough to know the world does not revolve around me.

Now off to write. If DH had been home this week, I’d never have had this crisis. He would’ve just looked at me like I was an idiot who’d just grown two horns, and said, "If someone else can do it, you can do it." He wouldn’t’ve even let me vent. He woulda just dismissed it all as stupid thinking, saying "Why not?"

Why do we forget how lucky we are sometimes? I can’t wait until he’s back. Tomorrow at 5. It feels SOOOO far away. I love him so much!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Latest Obsession

Sometimes I need to spend some time doing something mindless. Something relaxing and involving, like the grown-ups version of coloring. I miss coloring. Who deemed that it was only for kids?

What do you do for mindless fun? For relaxation?

Here’s something fun. From The Puzzle Club:

A Hanjie Puzzle Consists of a grid like that below, and may be of any width or height. The aim is to fill in the number of squares specified in each row and column to create a picture.

1277592635_417f6f82b5_m

Typically, the larger the grid the harder the puzzle though this does not always follow. You will notice at the top and left of the puzzle are a set of numbers. These indicate which cells within the grid are to be filled in.

For instance:

  • A ’1’ next to a column indicates one cell is to be coloured in in that column
  • A ’3’ means that three cells should be coloured in that column
  • A ’1, 1’ means that there are two cells coloured in total; and there is a gap of at least one blank (non-filled) square between the two filled squares

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Focus on the rows and columns with the largest numbers next to them first
  • If the total for a row or column is more than half the number of cells in that row or column, you can instantly place at least one cell
  • Remember that cross-referencing is the key to solving these puzzles
  • Each time you place a cell, check how it affects the other rows and columns
  • It is also important to work out where a filled cell cannot be

Like any puzzle, hanjie takes practice, and you will get quicker at working out possibilities over time. All our puzzles can be solved with no guesswork required - through deduction alone - and there is only one solution for each puzzle. You will end up with a picture, for instance if the puzzle was called snowflake, you might get a picture like this (note this is not the solution to the example grid at the top of this page!):

1277594047_f9ee9835cf_m

You can find a bunch of Hanje to play with, here!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Sat On the Front Porch.

I sat on the front porch this afternoon, finally. It was awesome!

Okay, I just realized how insane that sounds. But it was awesome. I’ve been struggling to figure out how I used to--and how other people--fit kick-back time into their lives.

I miss sitting on the front porch. I miss walks. I miss walking to the falls every night and meditating by the river. I miss sitting back with a glass of wine and just listening to music.

My whole house is my business, save our kitchen and bedroom. I miss sitting in a living room to watch TV. I miss having a fireplace, and a couch on which to cuddle up to DH.

I miss a life without the incessant never-done to-do list. I feel guilty doing
anything relaxing, because there’s so much to be done. I swear, I never stop, and most of the time I’m multi-tasking. It’s frazzling. And when I drive or shower or try to sleep, my mind is going a million miles a minute.

Do you ever just get sick to death of hearing yourself think?

The whole entire universe is telling me to stop thinking, and my mind won’t shut up.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm younger than that now.

Agent Nathan Bransford is pet-peeving about rhetorical questions. I don’t want to talk about rhetorical questions, but a commenter tried to redeem rhetorical questions by quoting a Bob Dylan song:

How many roads does a man walk down before you call him a man?

I read that, and my heart did this totally clutchy thing like, ohmigawd! Bob Dylan! See, I haven’t listened to Bob Dylan in years, but I used to listen to his stuff nearly every day. His lyrics are poetry, man.

Well, my road might be rocky,
The stones might cut my face.
My road it might be rocky,
The stones might cut my face.
But as some folks ain’t got no road at all,
They gotta stand in the same old place.
Hey, hey, so I guess I’m doin’ fine.

How does that happen? How do you completely forget something you love? What’s something that really spoke to you, to the point of being a part of your life, that’s ... just disappeared? Forgotten?

I’ll leave you with my favorite Dylan quote:

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

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The Bourne Ultimatum

//static.flickr.com/1289/1254308583_3293edd874I just went to see The Bourne Ultimatum.

The. Coolest. Movie. Ever.

It’s action scenes are so awesome, I laughed with delight.

With delight, not the sort of laughing one does when watching 24.

I had a blast. Spirits are definitely lifted.

That’s what I love about the movies.

So, tell me. Which do you like better? The book or the movie?

Here is a laugh, if you need one: Poet vagues up poem.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

My "Living" Portfolio

This is a bit of a vent. It might be useful, if you’re considering a life without a day job. It might not. And it’s a long post. I could be wrong about things, but this is just my experience, my research, my knowledge. Just warning you.

This weekend was frustrating. My frustration really started a week ago, when I watched my pseudonym sit down and just write. She writes so easily in comparison to my real name. Just gets the job done, and loves it.

My real name has struggled. Part of my problem, is that I’m seeing NY as this big, horrible beast who makes it impossible to make a living. So when real name sits down to write, she’s constantly fretting about breakout this and good enough that and this may not make any money.

So when a post about getting to NY, making it, and getting screwed over was posted again, it was the last straw. (All I’ve read lately are negative posts!) I’m having enough trouble handling the pressure I’m putting on myself, not to add to it everyone saying that once you make it, you’re almost definitely going to get screwed!

And when I posted on a group in my frustration, begging for something positive, hoping for some wisdom, a bunch of unpublished writers just told me not to quit my day job!

Okay, that’s funny today. In the midst of a frustration freak-out, it just irked the heck out of me.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe every single pitfall and every single horror story.

But.

This morning, I had a good talk with myself. My pseudonym and my musician sat down with my real name, lent some perspective. And it was such a relief to read Making A Living As A Writer and Mark Terry’s List of Helpful Posts.

Fact is, I’ve had a day job for a whole six months of my life. Um, actually, five months. So I fantasize about a day job, because, you know, the grass is always greener.

But the grass isn’t really greener, because if it were, I’d’ve hopped over the damn fence. Don’t misunderstand me, for many people, a day job is wonderful. It’s their life, their lifestyle.

It’s not mine. I fantasize about health insurance, about no self-employment taxes, about a regular income and a steady paycheck. It’d be wonderful to know exactly how much money will come in next month, and not a round-about figure.

But the truth is, I can’t imagine a life where you can’t sit around dreaming up ways to make more money. I can’t imagine a life where I’m limited to one, single venue in which to depend on, for the roof over my head. I can’t imagine a life where someone else sets my schedule, where I have to report to someone, deal with someone who could fire me and leave me without any means to make money. Where I can’t decide when to go on vacation, how many weeks I want to work at what, how much time I want to spend on this project or that. My whole livelihood is not in the hands of a company that doesn’t care at all about me.

Quitting a day job is not a big deal. It’s just another choice in one’s life. It’s a life of constantly being creative with your business planning, a life of loving to think up different ways to make money. It’s a life of variety. It’s a life of not-so-much security, but not as little security as a day job. After all, you’re not going to fire yourself. And there’s always something to do to make money, if you’re creative.

For some bizarre reason, people working a day job think that "success" is doing one thing. I’ve made that mistake. I let myself make myself crazy, teaching music all the time, because I bought into the whole idea that you’re a success if you can make your living from just such-and-such.

When my pseudonym, my musician, and my real name sat down, we had a good laugh about that. We laughed at ourselves, because we all have bought into that ridiculousness at various stages of our lives.

See, a self-employed freelance life is like investing. You’d be absolutely nutso to invest in only ONE stock. You’d be an idiot to put all your eggs in ONE basket.

The safer you want to make your money, the more you need to diversify.

Sometimes this means that I work all the time, on a ton of different projects. But kids don’t seem to be in my crystal ball, and what else am I going to do?

And anyway, I’m not really spending my life working. I’m spending my life doing exactly what I choose to do. I can choose to work less. I can choose to work more. I can choose to play some, teach some, write some, and that’s cool.

And I get to make money from it.

A life without a day job is like the stock market. Diversifying is the key. (Okay, that’s the only thing I know about the stock market, so take my analogy with a couple grains of salt.) When someone doesn’t pay me from teaching, writing saves me. When writing falls through, music saves me. When one publisher disappears, the other one magically needs something.

This means I’m oftentimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of baskets I’m
balancing, but that’s cool.

I’m diversified. Diversification, in itself, is a security. Did you see Shakespeare in Love? Well, there’s a great quote, where it’s a few days before opening night for the play, and the financers are freaked out, wondering how things are ever going to come together in time.

The director just shrugs, laughs, and says, "It’s a mystery!"

Self-employment is like that. Things just work out. One way or the other.

With a day job, if you get fired, laid off, quit, whatever, you’re pretty much screwed until you find another job. Not so, with self-employment, if you’re diversified.

Whenever I decide to pursue a project, I have to weigh the risk, the possible profit, the possibility of failure, the time involved, and the impact on my other projects. Everything’s a calculation.

I’ve downright failed, at times. I’ve made mistakes. But they were my mistakes, my choices. I’m making money for me. I’m making my life, I’m making my decisions. I’m not making money for someone else, growing someone else’s business. I get to make all the decisions, whether I fail terribly or whether it’s a good call.

To me, deciding to query NY isn’t just a dream, it’s a calculated risk. I try to see how pseudonym name’s writing compares (she’s not a good judge; she really doesn’t know), I try to look at other people’s failures and other people’s mistakes, analyze the cost/benefit ratio, and I try to get a handle on the reality of NY.

So what frustrates me, lately, is the impossibility of getting a reasonable grasp of the reality, because the only people who are dishing out reality are the ones with bad experiences. I hear PLENTY of people complain about sub-5,000 advances who never earn out their advances, but I hear nothing else, UNLESS it’s the huge sales that are a bit like a lottery win.

Sure, I buy lottery tickets, but they don’t figure into my business planning, LOL.

Writing is how I live my life. I’m not gonna dream about it, I’m just gonna do it. And if my pseudonym is the only one who can make money, fine. NY isn’t a dream for me, it’s like ... a potential investment for my life portfolio. It looks like it’s got a higher risk, but a better return for my time and energy.

Getting a book published in NY? I bet I know exactly what it’ll be like. It’ll be hundreds and hundreds of hours of writing, probably a big bit of stressing, and another ton of promoting, some money, and somewhere in there, there will be about twenty hours of flying high and about an hour of squeals. Sure, there’s a dream element, but ...

If only my pseudonym writes, fine. I’m writing. If I looked at my writing and thought I wasn’t ready for NY, I would wait. I’d figure up the costs of continued education, practice, time, and weigh them with the possible gains in the future. And when I think of when to write that NY novel, I have to look at my budget (both of money and time) and factor in the rest of my "portfolio" obligations and possible earnings.

I assume (going on pseudonym’s career, LOL) even NY-published authors who are living exclusively on writing novels are diversified: several novels making royalties, some current contract/s, probably future novels. They’ve got to consider past royalties, the pattern of their past royalties and guesstimate on future royalties, past contracts, current contracts, probable future contracts. Consider the worst-possible scenario, the dream scenario, and the most likely scenario. Consider if they want to diversify further, or focus more of their energy in one direction, etc.

Living without a day job means that you’ll sometimes fail, sometimes make wrong choices, sometimes trip on a streak of luck, sometimes plod along a nice, predictable road.

So NY. Yes, my real name expects to make money from NY, just as much as Donald Trump expects to make money from everything he invests in. I might not, and I know he doesn’t. It might be another failure, something I’d try to invest again in
another year or two. Or maybe it’ll never happen.

It doesn’t matter. I’m diversified. And I’m living my life my way, on my own terms. That’s the joy of living a life without a day job.

So, if you want to quit your day job, just do it. Just diversify, plan, calculate, and do it. It’s not the end of the world, LOL. If you fail, you think up more venues to make money. You create your own jobs, make your own corner in your field.

And, for goodness sake, if someone asks, don’t tell them to not quit their day job! Everyone has to choose their own life.

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Quick Apology

Hey! I’m at Panera’s, since there were no free tables at Borders. The bad bit is there’s free internet, and I logged on. The kinda good news is that I logged into my gmail online, rather than popping it from Outlook.

Holy crap! There’s tons of emails in my spam folder, that are from my friends! You guys! I’m sorry! It goes back for weeks, and the stuff before that is automatically deleted.

I’ll have to catch up when I get home, but I just felt so horrible for people to think I was ignoring them, that I had to post it here.

Okay, internet off, back to writing. Have a post brewing in my mind for this evening, about quitting your day job, damnit. (LOL)

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fiction with a Capital F?

I’m not talking fiction, I’m talking Fiction.

Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction (whatever), Fantasy, and children’s books just don’t count. Love the stuff, but I’m in the mood for regular Fiction.

I’ve been craving capital-F Fiction, like John Irving. Fiction that suspends disbelief, but is not presented as "real."

Do you know what I mean?

Like Dickens, too. Quirky characters, and plot rich with twists and turns that delight.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Lee Child, Barry Eisler, Joseph Finder, Robert Littell, (why ARE they all men, darnit?!) and Marcus Sakey. But it all feels REAL. They do tons of research to make their books REAL.

Take John Irving. Take Dickens. Even take Neil Gaiman (not sure if he counts, because he’s kinda fantasy). Their fiction isn’t real. It’s kinda plausible. But they use damn good storytelling to suspend your disbelief.

It’s not like 24, where you have to manually put your disbelief on a shelf.

Irving, Dickens, Gaiman, they all use great craft to suspend your disbelief.

Right now, that’s three authors. I’m on a search for more. Who have I forgotten? Missed? Fantasy and Sci-Fi don’t count, nor does Horror or Paranormal. I’m looking for straight fiction with a capital F.

And if anyone can show me a Thriller with a capital F, you get triple bonus points.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Do You Worry? Ideas.

Do you ever worry about fellow bloggers? Wonder how their doing? I mean, when they disappear without explanation for more-than-usual days?

Just curious.

I don’t know if it’s obvious to you, but it has been finally made clear to me that my pseudonym is a far more confident and experienced writer than my real name. Yesterday, my pseudonym was told by a respected and reliable source (my one publisher, who’s been doing it way before Ellora’s Cave, and pretty much knows the entire niche), that my pseudonym’s idea was really, really different.

What’s strange, is the pseudonym had felt it contained elements of everything else. She had really sat at home (after sending it off), worrying that publisher would read it and say "Argh, not this again." It hadn’t felt at all different. She’d thought it was just a slight variation on a theme.

Which led me to (in a moment of split personalities, LOL) ask my pseudonym how she came up with ideas.

Can you believe it? I asked the number one annoying question of myself!!

And she didn’t know. But she did know a couple things.

  • She didn’t try to come up with an original idea. She just sorta put together an idea and didn’t worry at all about whether it was original or breakout-worthy.
  • She barely gave the idea part any thought. She literally thought two words, pitched two words, and then sat down to write.
  • And when she sat down to write, she didn’t have one second thought that she’d be able to flesh out and continue the idea through the end of the novella. She just knew she’d make it work, just like every other idea she has.

My real name has none of her confidence. My real name is obsessed and worried about coming up with an idea that’s "good enough" for NY. My real name writes a little, looks around, and tells herself that there are SO MANY better writers out there. My real name does not have the confidence that she’ll make whichever idea she has work, that whichever idea she chooses will be just fine. And my real name is obviously struggling a whole lot more to write.

My real name and pseudonym are in negotiations. The real name would like the pseudonym to ghost write her first novel for her NY dream, in exchange for continued embodiment, care, feeding, and clothing. My pseudonym keeps complaining that she’s already typing her fingers off to feed and clothe the real name. I’ll let you know how it turns out. :-p

On a less insane note, my baby’s back home! And his bestest bud brother spent ten straight minutes, literally sniffing every single hair on his body. I guess to make sure it was really him? Find out where he’d been? Make sure he hadn’t changed?

Now the Little Bit won’t go near him, because Big Guy smells like the horrible experience he had in the hospital. *sigh* My Big Guy seems depressed, since coming home. I hope he peed last night, but I’m afraid he didn’t. So I’m sitting here, hoping to witness this illustrious event before I have to leave and get stuff done.

AND, DH comes home in 8 days!!!!! Ohmigawd, I miss him SOOOOOo much!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Check this out ...

Allison Brennan, over at Murder She Writes, has a cool post up about loglines. She’s also linked to another cool post about loglines at Murderati, written by Robert Gregory Browne.

At Murder She Writes, she offered:

Now, it’s your turn. Read Rob’s article and come up with a log line for
the readers of MSW to critique. I’ll be at Six Flags Marine World all
day, but I will comment on every log line posted by midnight tonight.
AND every brave soul who posts a log line will be entered in a random
drawing for any book in my backlist.

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The Universe.

Somedays, you just gotta laugh at yourself, you know?

I swear, the universe has been trying to tell me something for ages. It probably started over ten years ago. A hint here, a hint there. As I didn’t "get" it, it increased its hints in intensity every year.

Coming down to the past month or two, when it’s been daily nagging.

And then, last night, the universe planted itself in front of me, talking in that loud, slow voice we do when someone is being impossibly stupid, and drew a huge sign in big, block letters.

Then said, "Are. You. Getting. The. Message. Yet?" And looked, for all the world, like it wanted to add, "You. Daft. Idiot."

LOL. "Um, yeah. Got it this time."

Let’s hope.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Slowing Life Down, Part I

I apologize, but I’m about to go on one of my obsessive streaks. The topic? Slowing down my life. I gotta. I’m scaring myself!

If you haven’t noticed, I’m on a quest to slow my life down. It gets to a point that one becomes afraid one is going to have a heart attack if one doesn’t slow down. One starts to continually feel a breath away from hyperventilating. That’s not to say my life is horribly more stressful than anyone else’s, it’s just to say I don’t yet have the skills to do life slower.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Or with a similar quest?

Part of my problem is that I’ve always ignored talent. Disregarded it as a factor. After all, I’ve seen plenty of students without talent far surpass those with talent, just because they could work smarter. In fact, talent has always seemed like a detriment in my students. The more talent, the less work skills they have. I don’t know why.

So, I’ve always focused on doing more than anyone else. I can work longer and harder. It’s about the only thing I can control, you know?

But you know what? The work ethic of generations past just doesn’t work anymore, because the world never stops. We can’t work longer than others, because everyone is incessantly working. I wonder if there is/is going to be an increase of heart attacks, because of our constant-on society, in thirtysomethings. The internet took off when we were in college, and the only way we know how to live life is to deal with this incessant ... information clutter, technological clutter, to-do list clutter. How can we deal with the constant feeling of things left undone? How can we cope with putting our head on the pillow every night, knowing full well that we didn’t do x, y, and z?

I know part of my problem is I’m self-employed, and it’s extraordinarily difficult to feel like everything’s done. And I can’t close my door at the end of the day--my business literally takes up nearly every room in the house. (I’m trying to carve us out a living room, but right now we only have our bedroom and the kitchen free and clear.)

I picked up Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload a few days ago. Here’s what she says in the Introduction:

You and I live in a 24/7 culture, and someone is always upping the ante. New technology makes you more productive but pressures you to pick up the pace. You have a new cellphone? Good. Now, your boss can reach you on your day off. Wireless PDA, huh? Excellent. We’ll expect e-mails, too. Mini-PC? Even better. We’ll instant-message you those files ... Whether you work inside or outside your home, you juggle a schedule of constant demands and always-on electronics. Multitasking is rampant. For better or worse, we’re rewiring our brains for what the technology industry now calls "continuous partial attention."


In the digital age of distraction, we function at new levels of stimulation and anxiety. The Internet spews information like a fire hose, but to digest information we need to sip it through a straw. Overwhelmed and overloaded, we have no time to process or reflect. Sunday is not a day of rest, but an attempt to catch up and clear your clutter. Old ways of paying attention can’t keep up. We need new tools.

So today marks the beginning of my quest. Any tips? Do you feel the pressure, too? How do you deal?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bookstore & Writing Rituals

When I was growing up, my neighbor said that if you were having trouble ... feeling down ... whatever, just let the Bible fall open and it will open to just the advice you need.

Well, my Bible is now the bookstore. (Oh, sacrilege! Oh, you hypocrite! You heathen!) Actually, I think my church is the bookstore. What better church? What better place of worship? Between that and the little sitting rock by the stream, I’m set.

Anyway, after I set up my computer and get my tea, I head towards the book part of the bookstore. I always get this little tingle inside, like there’s one, very special book that I’m just meant to find today, something to lead me, inspire me, or comfort me. Just something special, something I’m meant to read.

Sometimes I find it right off. Like today. Boy, are you going to be surprised. *insert eye roll*

Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and OverloadThe first book that caught my eye was Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload.

Now that was so obviously it, that it made me laugh. Often I guess at what could be the book of the day. Sometimes I gather five potentials, and never feel like I found the one.

After finding the book, I gather my "friends." These books keep me company while I write. Often, I’ll have as many as six books at my side, which I don’t even crack open. (It’s my writing time, not my reading time!) Usually, there’s a Stephen King for character inspiration and a recent read that inspired me. Maybe a writing book, self help, spiritual, whatever. (Neil Gaiman and Nora Roberts often write "with" me, and Marcus Sakey even spent a significant amount of time at my side this summer, especially for a debut author.)

I won’t actually open these books. They’ll just keep me company, kinda like a security blanket.

So I’m off on a huge writing spree again. Why is it that I can write quickly (and best) under pressure, but take the your-cat-is-going-to-die-if-you-don’t-write-and-sell-something-now pressure away, and I lolligag along at the slowest speed?

Damn. I get so annoyed at myself, sometimes. How am I ever going to get an agent and publish in NY, if I can’t write without a deadline choking my neck? We all have our personal demons, I guess. What’s yours? And how to you get past it?

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Cat Sick.

Ugh. Everything’s going to be okay, I guess.

First comes the horror that one’s baby is sick. Then comes the rush to the emergency room, in tears, sick to stomach with worry.

Briefly, they come tell you that with this, that, and all that, he’ll be fine.

Relief.

And then comes the estimate, at which point you get sick to your stomach again.

Sigh.

I have to pick up the baby in the morning, take him to another vet for watching during the day, at which point I’m sure they’ll charge me another arm and a leg.

Olive Garden had a sign outside their restaraunt. Not only do they offer insurances galore to even part time workers, but they offer pet insurance. Can you imagine that? Pet insurance!

I wanna go work at Olive Garden. And I can’t wait until my baby is home again. Why didn’t someone tell me not to feed a male cat fish-based food???? Damnit. I woulda listened.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Details and Distractability

I can be a detail person, but then I don’t get anything important done. I can be an idea person, but then the details lag behind.

All of which make me miss DH like crazy.

See, things take me longer. Whereas doing all the invoicing for our business would take DH thirty minutes, tops, it takes me two hours. Mostly because I get up to use the restroom, notice a plate in the bedroom, take it downstairs to the kitchen, then notice the dishwasher needs emptied, and I start to fill up the dishwasher, but remember there’s a plate in the office, so I go back upstairs to get the plate, but then realize I’m trying to do the invoicing, so I get back to that.

Until I’m distracted again.

Which is why I kick myself out of the house and to Borders to write.

And, seeing as how not ten minutes ago I had my keys, purse, laptop, and workout bag in hand, I have no idea how I’ve ended up in my computer chair again, writing a blog post.

*sigh*

God, life is so much easier when DH is home. I’m glad the 13 hour days are over, but I miss them. I don’t miss DH so much when I’m working 13 hour days.

Speaking of getting out of the house, here I go.

Into the rain. And I gotta remember to cover the lawn mower, on my way. Better find the umbrella. And I should change these shoes, or else I’ll be in wet socks all day ...

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Our Mad King George (W. Bush)

Completely ripped from Written Wyrdd’s fantastic blog, but I laughed myself to tears, so I had to share.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fear. Alternative Publishing.

Have you ever given your stuff to someone to read, while you’re sitting there? Where you feel that slightly panicky feeling, and you’re trying not to look over their shoulder, but you are? Where they laugh, and you’re like, "What page are you on? What line made you laugh?"

And then when they mention something they like about the story, you watch as they read on, a bit terrified about whether or not they’ll still like how it will turn out in the next chapter?

Well, I feel that panic in the pit of my stomach all the time!

My pseudonym gets her stuff published serially, (one chapter a week), and then the novel/la is packaged up and sold as an ebook and POD book six months or so later.

Well, I’ve been hearing from readers a lot more this year, and I have to tell you, it’s terrifying. They write me after they read Chapter One (and they won’t get Chapter Two until next week), and as nice as they are, I sit near tears wondering if I’m going to disappoint them by the last installment.

It’s just terrifying, sometimes. I’m so addicted to hearing from readers, but ... gosh, I just get so nervous. Tess Gerritsen talked about that feeling awhile back, so I bet it never, ever goes away.

Don’t get me wrong. If I don’t hear from readers, I convince myself I did a terrible job, that I let them down. But when I hear from them before the last chapter? I have this insane desire to run and do another read-through and edit, and make sure that it’s the best I can do, you know?

Getting the check, that’s cool. Signing the contract, that’s cool. On my recent essay, touching the book is cool (yes, I held the book for hours, stroked the shiny cover for hours), and so is seeing my real name in print (it’s smudged now, because I kept pointing it out to DH, as if he hadn’t seen it five minutes ago or the fifty times before that). All wonderful feelings.

Reader mail is beyond awesome--life doesn’t get much better than that. Heck, I even feel proud to pay my taxes, like it officially makes me a writer.

But I always wonder if authors who say they’re excited for their release date are kinda forcing themselves to be excited for marketing purposes.

I just got the nicest email about my first chapter, and I feel panicky and scared that I’ll let her down by the end of the novella. Part of the problem is that I wrote it months ago, so I barely remember it, even though I poured everything I could into it.

Strange, given this panicky feeling, but when a reader writes to express disappointment in something, it doesn’t bother me so much, unless I feel they’re right.

I don’t get this feeling when I write, either. Maybe that’s why I tell myself I write for the money. If I "remembered" that someone would read it after I got the check, I’d probably paralyze myself into writer’s block!

Yikes. This writing stuff is some crazy stuff. Or maybe I’m the crazy one, LOL.

Anyhow, busy weeks from he** are over! I get to write today! Actually, in two minutes I’m leaving! I can NOT wait!!!!!

Have a great weekend!

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Back When ...

Back when my TV lived in the closet, I used to sit on the front porch and drink wine with a friend. I used to sit and watch thunderstorms. Or the people pass by, the cars drive past.

Back when my TV lived in the closet, I used to sit around with friends, listening to good music and telling stories. I used to make dinner for friends, throw parties just for fun.

Back when my TV lived in the closet, I used to take walks at night, just to think. I used to stop by the park and swing on the swingset at midnight. Kick back on a bench and stare at the stars.

Back when my TV lived in the closet, I used to regularly call my friends and spend hours on the phone. I’d write real, honest-to-God letters with my fountain pen on pretty stationery, the kind of letter you put in a box and keep.

Back when I had no car, I used to hop on the transit train and ride it both ways, just to sit and think. A trip on the bus to downtown for window shopping was a big treat, topped off with a movie at the theater. An indulgence, just for me.

Back when I had no car and no TV, I had no TBR pile--just an R pile.

You know, I ache for those days. Why can’t we have them, again?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

What Book Are You?

Sorry. A quiz. I couldn’t help it, it’s so interesting! The book quiz asks What Book Are You? It’s pretty much correct for me (the description, at least; I’ll have to check out the book!), except for the Europe part. I’m far more interested in China, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East.

So. What book are you? (The Book Quiz is only six questions long ...)

//bluepyramid.org/ia/tgoabtYou’re The Guns of August!
by Barbara Tuchman

Though you’re interested in war, what you really want to know is what causes war. You’re out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they really are. Nevertheless, you’re always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what’s going on today. You’re also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can diplomats."

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

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Thirteen Reasons to Love Fall

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Thirteen Reasons to Love Fall

The winner of the last week’s Thursday Thirteen contest , thanks to random.org, is Commenter #21, Alyssa Goodnight. Will you please email me your address at spyscribbler at gmail, and I’ll send you Cherry Addair’s Edge of Fear? Or I’ll eventually remember to email you, LOL.

This week’s book-to-win is Cherry Addair’s Edge of Darkness. To win, just tell me your favorite memory of Fall. As you know, fall does not start in October, but when school goes back in session. Next week!

  1. Big bonfire parties, cooking hot dogs and roasting marshmallows.
  2. The crisp, clean smell of the air in the morning.
  3. The smoky smell of burning leaves on the air in the evening.
  4. The return to a "normal" schedule.
  5. Donning thick sweaters and not having to wear a coat on top.
  6. Cuddling with the man when the nights turn chilly.
  7. The return of good movies to the theaters.
  8. Watching movies at the drive-in, which is mostly deserted in the fall.
  9. Being outside after the mosquitoes die off (or hibernate, or whatever they do in the winter! What do they do in the winter? Fly south, LOL?)
  10. All the fall TV shows start up again!
  11. Decorating the house and lawn for Halloween.
  12. Halloween.
  13. Decorating the house and lawn for Christmas as soon as Halloween is over.


Join in the Thursday Thirteen fun!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Not Writing. Men in Trees.

Three more for-sure days of not writing, and there’s so much to do, that I might have to take a few more days off next week. Liz Wolfe, Monday, talked about "jonesing for writing" while she’s sewing a wedding :-P and preparing for houseguests. I love how she says:

"I need a full week of I-don’t-care-if-anyone-eats-or-has-clean-clothes kind of writing."

Doesn’t that sound heavenly? I’m kind of paying for two years of that kind of writing, which is, um, why it’s taking so long to clean my house. Not to mention trying to fix all the broken stuff, lately!

Then there’s the other side to the coin, where we need to make sure writing comes before the busy work. *sigh* That’s usually my philosophy. It’s a good one!

On another note, has anyone seen Men in Trees? I’m crazy about it. The only confusing thing is that Maren Friske keeps referring to her, um, agent as her editor. This "editor" sets up publicity gigs for Maren, as well as negotiates her contracts with up to nine different publishers. This "editor" also told Maren (jokingly), that if Maren found another "editor," she’d kill her.

I guess I’m confused. This "editor" is obviously an agent, right? And how would a TV writer not know the difference between an editor and an agent? I mean, TV writers have agents, correct? All the ones I’ve read about, do!

I can’t wait to have a "I-don’t-care-if-anyone-eats-or-has-clean-clothes kind of writing" day.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Haiku. Nonsense. Will Smith runs.

No sleep, miss DH.
Cold shower, broken heater.
Extrapolate mood.

Actually, I’m getting pretty comfortable with the no-sleep thing, since DH left. The trick, it seems, is you have to get up super early. I can’t stay up until 5 and wake up 9, but I can go to sleep at 1 and wake up 5. (Or go to sleep at 3 and wake up at 5, in this case.)

Oh my gosh. Not again. Another nonsense post. Maybe I should just stop posting until Monday, when I can turn the writing brain back on.

Okay, here’s something useful: an inspiring interview with Will Smith, from Reader’s Digest. Skip the bits about marriage. Here’s a tidbit (I didn’t quote some good bits, so check out the link, if you can):

RD: Do you get tired of pushing?
Smith: Not yet. There is no pain worse than not achieving a dream when it is your fault. If God did not want you to have it, that is one thing. But if you do not get what you desire because you are lazy, there is no pain worse than that.

RD: Have you always been a runner?
Smith: I started about five years ago. Running introduces you to your worst enemy, to that person who tells you, "Ooh, our ankles hurt and we should stop. Why do we need to run five miles? Let us run three." (...) If you start giving in to that person, you will never get to your goals.

(That seemed a lot better when I first read and bookmarked it. Huh.)

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Monday, August 13, 2007

What a Post!

Well, I just wrote a thirteen paragraph post about my day yesterday, and realized, when I was done, that it wasn’t in the slightest bit interesting. My brain seems to deteriorate when I don’t write.

I’m on a three-week stretch of no writing. I’ve been doing a little haiku at night, as well as some accidental plotting in my head (can’t seem to shut that off), but I haven’t written. I’m starting to feel panic. Starting to feel like I’m not a writer.

So when’s the last time you had Chex Mix? I mean, HOMEMADE Chex Mix? I love making it myself, because then I can put in a little extra butter and Worcestershire sauce, a little extra pepper, and only use rice and corn chex. Nothing else. It’s PERFECT!

I can eat myself sick on it. Usually do.

Okay, this post is no more interesting than the last one. At least it’s shorter. :-) How’s your day going? Your writing?

Would anyone out there know if electric drills have a screwdriver head/bit thingamabob, or if that’s another electric drill-sort-of tool that I can’t find in DH’s lack of organization? I’m trying to build shelves, to get the 12-shelf bookcase disaster off the floor.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Movie Indulgence

I had a wonderful day, today! I’ve been working so hard, I decided to take a day off this weekend. First, I slept in until 10. Then, I watched Bridge to Terabithia.

Have you seen it? Bridge to Terabithia was one of my most favorite books growing up. When I saw the previews, I didn’t want to see it. May I say how misleading the previews were? The previews led me to believe that it was going to focus on the fantasy world, and not on the real story.

But the movie lived up to its book. I cried my eyes out, which is something I actually enjoy doing when it’s to do with a story. Granted, I haven’t read the book in probably twenty-five years, but the movie gave me the same emotional experience.

Then I saw Stardust. Amazing, wonderful, and it’s not a kids movie. It’s not not a kids movie, it’s just not a kids movie. Kids, though, would probably enjoy it quite a lot. I loved every bit of it. Anything to do with Neil Gaiman tends to make me fall in love with story all over again.

And I finally saw the fifth Harry Potter movie. The movie did SUCH a better job of Sirius’s death. I was disappointed in the book, because it robbed me of the emotional experience of Sirius’s death, simply because I kept thinking, "But he just disappeared behind a curtain! How can he be dead? Why can’t he walk back through the curtain? Harry, why are you fussing so much? It’s just a curtain!"

So I sat in confusion instead of grieving. You know, book 5 and 7 are probably my least favorite.

My foot hurts. It’s doing worse, after a year. Worse, I’m losing hope. Oh well. There must be a reason. I always think, if I can find the reason, the lesson I’m supposed to learn, then I can move on and my foot will heal. Or that if I imagine it being well hard enough, it’ll heal itself. Which of course leads to me thinking I’m a failure, when it doesn’t get better. LOL, it’s an insane circle that I lived through when I was sick. This is so not as bad. Maybe my lesson is to stop feeling sorry for myself! It’s just a foot. I do miss taking walks, though. And I’m starting to get sad when people talk about taekwondo. I did love learning taekwondo. I can’t really remember having that much fun, ever.

So have you seen any movies recently? Looking forward to any? Fantasy seems BIG! Most of the previews I saw were fantasy-related, with big name actors. A lot of good movies to look forward to, this next year!

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Friday, August 10, 2007

I Hate the Phone

I hate the phone.

Passionately.

I only talk to my best friend on the phone, about once a month, and DH, only when he’s gone. Otherwise, if I’m going to talk to someone for an hour, I meet them. Or email them. I don’t do chatting on the phone.

But I’ve spent two hours on the phone, trying to get some information from a stupid bank. They keep transferring me around, and every other transfer is to the customer service department.

Except humans don’t answer at the customer service department.

They want me to SPEAK into the phone. I’m not even allowed to push buttons, I have to SPEAK.

This infuriates me, because the damn computer NEVER understands my voice. Not only that, but they don’t even give the OPTION to talk to a human.

So I try to speak lower, I try to speak more clearly, but every time the same thing happens. I try louder. I try to make the pitch of my voice lower and talk louder. I try to enunciate every single letter.

After the damn computer tells me a million times that they don’t understand my response, I start pushing the "0" button furiously. When that doesn’t work, I end up yelling into the phone "HUMAN! OPERATOR! HUMAN! GIVE ME A F*CKING HUMAN! HUMAN BEING! REAL PERSON! JUST LET ME TALK TO SOMEBODY!!!!!"

During which, the computer keeps interrupting to tell me it doesn’t understand. Finally, it hangs up on.

Now see, I was perfectly fine with the phone banking that allowed you to push numbers, especially when all it took was pressing the zero button to talk to a human.

But now?

It just sucks.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

About that 24 and Jack Bauer

Scroll down for my Thursday Thirteen post! This is sort of an addendum to questions asked in the comments section. Plus a rambling.

Several asked me who Jack Bauer is (main character played by Kiefer Sutherland), and what 24 is. It’s a show on FOX featuring Jack Bauer, the star member of a counterterrorism center in Los Angeles. He saves the world. All the time. Over and over. He has a direct line to the president. And he can tell his superiors what to do, he’s that good. He can even disobey direct orders!

It’s a show that’s always good at upping the ante and deepening the conflict, but it does require suspending a certain amount of disbelief. Therefore, it’s as fun to watch it seriously as it is to make fun of it. :-)

The season is always about one day, 24 episodes long. (One episode for each hour; 24 hours in a day, you get the picture.)

If you’ve never seen it, check it out! It’s a blast!

As far as the jokes, nope, I did not make any of them up. I would give credit where credit is due, but they are all viral-type jokes whose author/s have been obscured long ago. Each joke listed here was stumbled upon over MANY sites. They’re everywhere. :-)

Finally, I received a free audiobook in the mail, from Jerry Spinelli’s publisher. No explanation. Weird. Either it’s something to do with being on some RWA list, or it’s to do with teaching. Since he’s a children’s author, I vote for the latter.

Has that ever happened to you? Bizarre.

Sadly, the excerpt says he has "lyrical prose," and the tiny tidbit tells me it’s true! So why would I want to hear it? If the prose is as beautiful as promised, I want to read it, not listen to it!

But we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, huh? It does seem like it’ll be a good book!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thirteen More Jack Bauer Jokes & A Winner

Summer is a tricky time for Thursday Thirteens, but here I am again! I’m sorry for my sporadic participation. Who else is looking forward to school starting and a return to a "regular" schedule?

The winner, thanks to random.org, of the last Thursday Thirteen contest is Commenter #33, Karen Olson! (And I loved her title suggestion: Assassin by Night.) Will you email me at spyscribbler at gmail? Or I’ll eventually remember to email you, LOL. I’ve been doing so well at email lately, too ... (hah!)

This week’s book-to-win is Cherry Addair’s Edge of Fear. To win, just tell me the TV show that you’re looking forward to the most, this fall. Or the TV show you’re currently watching religiously. I need to program my DVR with some more interesting content. I guess that’s the problem every summer!

And now, because I miss 24 and my one post of "Jack Bauer Jokes" is the number one reason people visit my site, at least according to my statistics ...

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Thirteen More Jack Bauer Jokes

  1. Jack Bauer doesn’t speak any foreign languages, but he can make any foreigner speak English in a matter of minutes.
  2. Jack Bauer teaches a course at Harvard entitled: "Time Management: Making the Most Out Of Each Day."
  3. Sun Tzu once wrote, "If your enemy is weaker, conquer him. If he is stronger, join him. If he is Jack Bauer, you’re fucking dead."
  4. Quentin Tarantino was asked to direct a biography about Jack Bauer. He passed. It was too violent.
  5. Jack Bauer was conceived by torturing the other sperm until they gave up the location of the egg.
  6. Jack Bauer once killed a group of Samurai Warriors with only a ball point pen. This lead to the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword."
  7. Nostradamus once predicted in his journal: "In the century 21st, the one known as Jacques will be the savior of the world... five seasons in a row." Moments later, Jack Bauer knocked down the door, shot Nostradamus in the kneecaps, and yelled "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?!"
  8. Jack Bauer has no problem following orders, unless you tell him to do something he doesn’t want to.
  9. When President Palmer quit to start doing Allstate commercials, it took him 43 takes before he could stop saying, "You’re in good hands with Jack Bauer"
  10. Jack Bauer was once shot. The bullet was killed on impact.
  11. Jack Bauer cannot stick his elbow in his ear, but he can stick your elbow in your ear.
  12. 1.6 billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight.
  13. In kindergarten, Jack Bauer killed a terrorist for Show and Tell.


Join in the Thursday Thirteen fun!

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Latest CIA show ... Oh no!!!!!!!

So I’ve been looking forward to The Company for AGES! Ages, ages, ages. I do searches on my DVR nearly every month. I’ve done internet searches, and I just didn’t know when it started.

Well, wouldn’t you figure, I missed the start of THE latest spy show??? Sundays at 8, supposedly. I’m not clear on how many I’ve missed, because there’s three episodes listed, but it said it started August 5. I hope they show the first episode again!

The Company is a miniseries about the CIA based on Robert Littell’s book with the same title. I know nothing about how faithful it is to the original, but I’m sure interested in finding out. I do hope that they portray women a little better in the series than they did in the book. The Company was the audiobook, I’m afraid, that precipitated my Testosterone Overload. Remember?

Don’t get me wrong, I love men. I just need a few women in my fiction that aren’t simpering weaklings, or manipulated pawns. (Spy fiction does call for a lot of manipulated pawns, though, doesn’t it?)

As I was browsing TNT in the hopes of finding a schedule (HAH! Think again.), I stumbled across the Art of War series. Has anyone seen them? Are they any good?

I’m missing TV, which is bizarre.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

York Mints and Their Da*n Tin

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They taste really awesome, I swear. So great, in fact, that I spent the last forty minutes wrestling with the lid of the tin, trying to get to the candy.

It’s like a York peppermint pattie, except the filling is just a teensy bit stiffer. It’s coated with chocolate, and then that’s coated with a white candy shell.

Very yummy!

It is not, however, a breath mint. It will not freshen your breath, and it certainly won’t deal with any more serious breath problems. Worse, as good as they taste, they’re practically impossible to open.

Screwdriver didn’t work. The scissor blade didn’t work. My hands didn’t work, and I crunched two fingernails.

A nail file--if pointed in just the right way, then finagled in just the right way--will open it, within a very reasonable ten or fifteen minutes.

I just wish they weren’t so damned good. They’re a damned inconvenience, that’s for sure! Have you tried them? And what lengths will you go to for chocolate?

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Just So You Know ...

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Gone camping for the weekend!

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Who do You want to Be?

Six hours of sleep last night. Heaven. Except I slept through DH’s call. :-( And somehow, I’m more tired!

I’m not usually into quizzes, but this was too good to pass up. I mean, it’s Harry Potter!!! Starvingwritenow is Ginny Weasley, lucky her!

I was strangely disappointed to score as a Harry Potter. Who wouldn’t want to be Harry Potter? But, evidently, my heart yearns to be Hermione. I do get a bit, er, book 5ish when life gets a little stressful, so I bet Harry Potter is accurate.

If you try the quiz, who did you end up being? Who were you hoping to be? And were you surprised or disappointed? Do you think it was accurate?

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Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Coffee Update

We’re on Day 4 of no sleep. I did enjoy my coffee yesterday, and it helped me stay awake!

I think I’m done with it for awhile. I believe in the addiction gene, because I have the anti-addiction gene. (Don’t believe me, but it’s true! I have trouble getting addicted to anything!) I just peed too much, LOL, and my breath smelled!

I did enjoy the buzz, though!

So.

Five hours of sleep in four days. This post is the best I can do.

Lame, huh?

Do you ever have insomnia? How do you fix it?

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