Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday update

This week is all up in the air, kind of working, everyone home, trying to write, and trying to catch up on all the blogs and critiquing and writing I let go since pre-NaNo and the Christmas frenzy.

I've been percolating my 100 word sentence for Elena's 100 words for $100 contest. Yesterday I put my idea down and shaved my 109 word monster down to exactly 100 words. It will be revealed on or after the 1st as per the contest rules.

Christmas came to my house in a flurry of family, food and kids opening presents. My twelve year old son was ecstatic to recieve his very own laptop. Now I can use mine without finding myself logged into his facebook or gmail account. Yay for privacy for both of us.

My eight year old daughter was thrilled to get the hermit crab she'd been asking for. We have since added another hermit crab friend, so our family now contains crustaceans, Shelly and Wiggly. Both are a great source of amusement for her and obstacles the rest of us have to make sure we're not stepping on when she has them out of their home to play.

I don't have anything up for critique next week, so my time will be spent getting my next NaNo short edited and introduced here. Healer and Blue Warning both gathered a pile of critiques I need to go over and then I'll be sending the shorts out into submissionland.

My cold had finally subsided to a random cough here and there and I've been able to sleep in two days in a row. Even better yet, I've been able to sleep in bed (I spent the majority of a week on the couch so my husband could sleep) and through the entire night. It's been wonderful.

I hope you are all enjoying your post Christmas/pre New Year week!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In search of a day off

I've been sick, not horribly sick thankfully, but with one of those lingering colds that sends me into coughing fits and leaves me perpetually tired. Despite my best efforts to get well it just doesn't seem to be happening. This could be in due to that cursed, tattered, red superwoman cape.

I have tried to take the stupid thing off. The ties are stuck and they are impervious to all cutting items. Setting it on fire while its stuck on my person is probably not a good idea.

Now, since school is finally out for Christmas break, I thought I'd might catch a break with some down time. Alas, it has not been so.

Saturday: "Mom, when are we going to bake Christmas cookies? It's almost Christmas!" Oh crap. We made cookies and fudge, but I cut way back this year from all the goodies I normally bake. I make my son get out of the car and deliver the goodies to our usual list of recipients.

Sunday: I'd already made plans (and reservations) to spend the night with my friend and her kids at an indoor waterpark with an overnight winter cabin stay. This was our solution to not doing our usual gift exchange because no one really needed more 'stuff'. It was fun, but the chlorine filled air did little to help my angry sinuses. Running around to keep my little Ms. I-don't-like-the-waterpark-for-whatever-sudden-reason and the teen, Mr. I'd-rather-hang-with-my-Ipod, entertained while keeping an eye on our two water loving tweens was hardly restful.

Monday: Got home in the afternoon and had a pile of work to catch up on. Being self employed has its downfalls. There are no minions to take up the slack when you are sick or out of town (or both). Not to mention, people want everything right away, cause you know, it's almost Christmas and they didn't plan ahead for their gift items. Somehow, despite the fact that we are hit up with an xmas countdown sometime in July and are inundated with said countdown from November first onward, this winter holiday manages to sneak up on some folks like the stealthiest ninja. Then there's dinner to squeeze in before running off to play Boy Scout secretary for a rambling two hour committee meeting which makes me an hour late for the recorded tv show finale (that we missed due to being out of down) that my family is impatiently waiting to watch with me.

Tuesday: I'm going to take the day off darn it. Umm yeah. Until I get a call from the mother-in-law saying she needs groceries, and she needs them now because she's out of Coke. No one else is apparently capable of getting her the correct kind of Coke that she wants. Then I realize that instead of waiting until Christmas eve day, I could take care of it now. I usually get her an extra bag couple bags of groceries--filled with all the treats she wants but doesn't dare buy because they're not on sale--so I might as well drag my behind out in the twenty degree winter weather and go to the store. And while I'm at it, I better drop off the eight forty pound boxes of books at the UPS store from our NaNoWriMo Used Book Drive that have been sitting in my garage before we get a below freezing day and the bottom boxes get wet. Oh and there's more work to do that I also have to deliver.

Wednesday: Ok, I'm at least going to sleep in. Darn it. The dog sees a squirrel invading our bird feeder and whines right outside my door, then right next to my head in case I missed the signal that he wants to go outside. I take care of the dog and crawl back in bed. Just as I'm getting back to sleep, the phone rings. It's right next to my head and the kids are sleeping so letting it ring will only wake them up too. I sigh and answer it. Wouldn't I love to donate to Special Olympics? Great cause, but you people call me ever other freakin month. It's 8:30 am. Heck no. I fall back on the pillow and close my eyes. The phone rings again. Our investor--that we've been playing phone tag with for three weeks--calls to give me an update on our accounts. Then the business line is ringing... downstairs. Someone needs a last minute Christmas gift. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Is one day with out being needed by someone, when I need a day for me, too much to ask?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tyler attacks

Xander leans over to Ms. Wildstar and points down the row of paper. "Look, it's someone new."

A boy, maybe fourteen years old, wearing blue jeans and t-shirt ambles towards them.

"Hey, kid, what's your name?" Ms. Wildstar stands and pulls Xander up with her. She whispers, "Something about him doesn't look right. Get your slingshot."

"I don't have it." He eyes the boy. "November is over. You and Nekar said to stay armed all November. We're over halfway into December. I got sick of carrying that stupid rusty slingshot around."

"You idiot!" She glances up at the desk looming over them. "Haven't you heard her? She's resumed her regular writing sounds. She's here again, not toting her computer off to those write-in things she kept mumbling about. That means she's either cleaning up those stories or done with them."

Ms. Wildstar backs into the wall of paper. The thin edges of the sheets press into her back. "We've got to get out of here!"

Xander spins around. "What about your slingshot, Ms. Always Prepared?"

Ms. Wildstar checks her nametag and lets out a relieved sigh. "Hey, that's not my name. Thankfully. That would be horrible."

"I'm beginning to see why you got cut," he mutters. "Concentrate! Where is your slingshot?"

"I used it on a boy with a weird silver pinky finger a couple weeks ago."

"You never told me about that."

"What, are you jealous or something? I killed him, just like we're supposed to do."

"Of course not."

The boy is hunched over, reading a passage from on a crumpled paper.

"Is the slingshot a one time use sort of thing?"

She blushes "Not is used correctly."

"Why the hell are you blushing at at time like this?"

"It's what I do. Character flaw, or something." She crosses her arms over her chest and pouts.

"Seriously? Pouting now?"

"Oh shut up. I wasn't written at the same skill level as you, Mr. Smarty Pants."

Xander resists for a second but then glances at his name tag. "That would just be cruel." He shakes his head. "Really though, what are we going to do about that kid?"

"Hello there. My name is Tyler. Have you seen my story? I seem to have been seperated from it when I fell from the almighty desktop." He looks wistfully to the dark desktop high above them.

"Okay, that was creepy," Xander whispers. "He was over there, and suddenly he's right here."

"Victim of a story with missing scenes. He's able to jump ahead in time." She smiles at Tyler. "I think I saw your story over there. How about we help you find it?"

Tyler regards her with empty eyes. "That would be nice. Thank you."

Xander and Ms. Wildstar fall into step a few yards behind Tyler. "Why are you being nice to him?"

"I'm not. Go get Nekar."

"You'll be all right with Tyler alone?"

"I'll smile a lot at him. It's what I do best."

"Right." Xander lopes off though the paper lined paths.

"So, Tyler, what is your story called?"


"I remember her talking about that. Bicycle on a sidewalk right?"

"Yes! You've read it?"

"Uh. Yeah. Of course. It's right here." She opens up a still bright white wad of discarded story. Go in and have a look."

He climbs up the crinkled side and into the opening at the top. "This is it! You found it!"

"I'll let you in on a little secret. The way to get back into your story is to read it a couple of times."

Tyler goes silent. Ms. Wildstar taps her foot. "Where are they?"

Xander comes runing down the path with Nekar, carrying a crate of adverbs, close behind. "Where is he?"

She nods to the paper wad. "In there."

"Good job," says Nekar. "I'll take it from here. You kids go on now. You don't what to be around for this."

"He's right." Ms. Wildstar takes Xander's hand and leads him away. Behind them they hear Nekar scale the paper wad with his crate in hand.

They both turned around for a moment. At the top, Neker pauses and draws out a handful of words. He hurls them at the boy inside. Sharply follows deadly and pointedly. "Take that you half-formed NaNo cast off."

Nekar pulls another handful of words from his crate. They turn away.

Xander cringed. "What's he going to do?"

"Haven't you ever read his character bio sheet?"

"No, why?"

She smiles. "He's an assassin."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mission one: Completed.

I came out of NaNoWrimo with two short stories I'm fairly happy with. They will both need some work, I'm sure. I'll leave the degree of reworking in the hands of my critiquers for the moment.

Since Healer will be coming up first--I'm still tweaking the second one--I'll introduce that one today.

As I've mentioned, I always head into NaNo with the intent to do something different than what I've done before. I can't say that I've ventured beyond the typical definition of fantasy or sci-fi since I've been seriously writing. So that was mission number one.

Healer is a paranormal, sort of creepy, little story of a woman tired of being bound to her healing gift and a desperate mother with a critically wounded child. The child is innocent. The mother is anything but. The healer, well, she's up for debate.

Coming in at just under 5,400, Healer is one of my longer short stories. For some reason I like to write long novels and short short stories. I'm sure that must mean something. Maybe I have a lot or not enough to say? Perhaps, with this story, I've found a happy medium.

(No, you're not the only one who just envisioned a grinning fortune teller just then.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

100 words for $100? I'm in!

If you haven't already been to Your write. Except when your Rong. Click on over and check out the details on Elena's contest in honor of her 100th blog post. She's also doing very fun and creative excerpt vlogs, so shoot her an excerpt while you're at it (so I can procrastinate more by watching it).

Now, since I have until January 31 to post my 100 word monster sentence, you know I'm going to ponder and percolate (procrastinate) for a while. I hope you'll be speedier than me. I'd love to (procrastinate while reading your entry) see what you come up with. Good luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Epic YA fail

Every year I go into NaNo with this thought floating in the back of my head: Wouldn't it be fun to write something my kids could read? Every year, around the end of week one, I again come to the realization that I just suck at writing YA. Sorry kids, you'll have to wait until your order to read my stuff.

It turns out that everything I write sinks into dark or lust heavy moments. NaNo 06 considered being about a girl far from home for about an hour. Then she was abused by men and gods, slept with a man, then a woman, then both. NaNo 07 tried very hard to be kid friendly, until the evil uncle got too lusty and started smashing puppies against the wall. NaNo 08 began as a silly romp through fantasy tropes but Bruce, the very hairy knight, lusts after every woman in the book. NaNo 09 gave up on day three when simple minded Joshua started killing everyone by accident. I had high hopes for NaNo 10, but alas, both efforts didn't work out.

Tyler sets out on his bike, wanting to escape his crappy homelife and his depressed mother. Yes, you might remember this as my plan for this year's story, the abandoned bike by the side of the road. Well, ummm, yeah. I got it to the side of the road and everything was going along fairly well, but then... There was no and then. Everything I tried to come up with was too cliche or darn creepy. He's still sitting there in a park talking to a girl who might be dead. We may never know.

Tyler, a boy in the not so distant future, has come of age and is going to get his augmented pinky so he can access the datastreams flowing all around him. After he gets his finger hacked off, the doctors aren't so sure he's integrating sucessfully with the system. He's tagged for observation, and soon after, realizes that if he doesn't sync up with the data stream like a good little citizen, he's going to disappear. Scared out of his mind, he decides to run.

At that point, I'm enjoying this story. I think I've finally conquered my cliche or bordom issue with YA. And then it happens. Do I send poor Tyler to a mine, deep underground where all the miscreants of neat, orderly society are shuttled off to? He can join a revolution, help them rise up and expose the goverment for what it is. Happy ending!

Oh heck no, I want him and all the other misfortunates killed by the dark and evil AI who has taken over the goverment and turned all the augmented citizens into happy, compliant servants. Dark ending!

I tried the mine idea... and my enthusiasm waned. Poor Tyler. I tried. Really, I did.

There's always next year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm back

I survived NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days.

Instead of writing a novel, which I knew I could do, having done it four times already, I just concentrated on writing -- which was exactly what I needed.

Life has a way of creeping into my writing time, sucking up ten minutes here, half an hour there. Next thing I know, I'm staring at a blinking cursor for five minutes, not remembering where I was going with my WIP and knowing I have another obligation to get to, so I might as well go clear that off my schedule instead. NaNoWriMo helps me reset my writing clock every year. I relearn how to find that time I need again.

This year's effort yielded two short stories that I will feature in more length in upcoming posts as I am quite happy with them. I also brought two short story disasters into being. Ms. Wildstar and the gang are fighting them now. More on that in an upcoming post as well.

My biggest progress was getting 25,000 words into a major rewrite of Sahmara's Sunset. That was my first NaNo Novel that I wrote in 2006. I'd never written fantasy at the time, or romance. This one ended up being both.

Sahmara's Sunset surprised me many times (Did I just write that scene? That's pretty good!) and proved to myself that I could write something beyond the one novel I'd been plunking at away at for years. Better yet, It showed me that I could write a draft in thirty days (rather than a decade) AND I could finish it. Let's not mention the huge chunk of missing middle scenes. It had an ending, that was a big step for me.

I tried to get back to working on it pre-NaNo as you may recall, but that lack of time factor impeded any significant progress. Now I'm on a roll. Leaving off just over a quarter into the draft was a perfect place to end NaNo. Instead of being in the middle of figuring out where to go next or stuck in a rough draft wasteland of word count filling crap, I have 25k of pretty, revised, tightened and cleaned up novel (created from 2006's wasteland of crap) that I'm excited about continuing.

How was your NaNo experience?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where does the time go?

I intended to do a post here this morning. It is now 9pm. What happened?

Well, there was a photo shoot with Commander Rippy McWeasel for today's regional email, which I also had to draft, edit and send out. When you're sending email to over 1,000 people, there's this pressure to not have too many typos. During NaNo season. Yeah, I know. Crazy double standard isn't it?

I did finally get around to making reservations for our regional TGIO party today. Yay for that.

An hour and half went to chatting with tech support about my two and half week old office printer that encountered a paper jam two days ago and now sounds like a car with snow chains going down a pothole-covered road on a sunny day. Surprise! They're sending me a replacement printer.

Then there was work, which most of you have, so that really doesn't count as a valid excuse for noveling sloth. Grocieries! Yes, I had to go get mine and the mother-in-laws, drop them off--ok so her's consisted of three twelve packs of coke and a half gallon of whiskey, but still--and put them all away.

Boy Scouts ate up two and half hours of my night. Does taking two hours worth of committee meeting notes count toward my NaNo word goal?

Did I mention my elementary YWP meeting at lunchtime? It's still going. Not strong, but going. I'm down to around fourteen regulars, which is totally workable. However, the early pile of kids thinning so drastically always leaves me depressed and feeling like I should have done something different. Three years of running the program like this and I still succumb to the same motivation slump. You'd think I'd be used to it, wouldn't you? Excuse me as I go stab my remaining optimistic brain cells.

Seriously though, two of my fourteen kids have already met their 5,000 word goal. Several others are nearing half way--which they have to get in order to earn an inviation to my pizza party. Not great winning odds, but I'll take them.

I'm considering tossing the program to the teachers next year and seeing how fast the ball drops. Students really need constant motivation and encouragement to spend those ten to fifteen minutes a day writing. They get two half hour sessions a week with me. It's just not enough. Asking them to write while their friends all go play at recess isn't exactly a great option either, but it's the one time during the day I have access to them.

It just figures that my daughter would finally be participating through school that year and she'll be really unhappy with me if I stop when it's her turn. Hmm, burn myself out or deal with an unhappy little girl. I've done four years of the program for her older brother. Unfair much?

Is there a good choice here?

Friday, November 19, 2010

To write and write again

Rewriting. I won't say I love it, but I do enjoy it.

I enjoy challenge of taking that mental vomit of a first draft, hauling out my cookbook and attempting to create a gourmet meal out of it. This meal, of course, usually ends up bland and undercooked, but after a few tries (or twenty) it becomes something I'd feed to guests. Whether or not they get food poisioning is always up in the air.

As part of my NaNo rebel effort this year, I'm devoting 25k of my writing goal to rewriting my original NaNo Novel from 2006. I love that story and I've always wanted to get back to it. Since part of NaNo is making time for that novel that you've always said you would do but never get around to, this seemed a perfect fit.

Now, when I say rewrite, I mean it. I have the file up there in front of me, but I retype every single word. Yep. Every one.

This might seem like a huge waste of time. The words are already there and surely they can't all suck. True. However, I'm trying to create a Thanksgiving feast from a stale Happy Meal. Not to mention I've learned how to set the table since then and seeing my wayward formatting drives me nuts.

My writing style has changed considerably since writing the original draft, and I'd like to think for the better. Retyping every word helps me to clear the way to rephrase, reword, tighten and embellish. I find it also makes for a smoother and more consistant voice throughout the story, especially when working with older projects. How about you? Do you rewrite rough drafts or do you simply edit what you already have, adding a bit here and there?

Why am I hungry, and where the heck did I leave the paprika?

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 15

Saturday was our all day write-in. Though we had a lower turnout than I'd hoped for, we had a great time during our eleven hour writing frenzy. My writing was interupted by chatting, eating and prize distribution but I still managed to pump out almost 6k in my struggling YA story. As you see, there was a lot of candy involved to fill us all with sugary creative energy. The giant chocolate covered marshmellows helped too.

Commander Rippy McWeasel and I did appear in the newspaper. Though most of his details were miscontstrued, Rippy was happy to see his photo in print and help spread the the word about NaNoWriMo and our event.

After all my writing Saturday, I spent Sunday unpacking all my bags of write-in supplies and eating leftovers. I also started in on rewriting my original NaNo novel from four years ago, a project I've desperately wanted to get back to. I'm hoping that this will go faster than slogging my way through the YA story. I want to get back to the short story, as well, but at this point, I need to build some momentum and I'm jumping ship to where the excitement is. During NaNo, any writing progress is good progress!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freakouts and Suck Dragons

Tomorrow is our never tried before, all day write-in at a local college. I'm both nervous and very excited. I'm busy mentally packing my car so I won't forget anything.

Why the freakout over forgetting something? My days have been so hectic that as I was rushing off to my weekly local NaNo write-in tuesday night, I threw my bag of prizes into the car and got half way there before realizing that I'd forgotten my laptop! Serious head desk moment there. Thankfully, that location less than ten minutes from my house and my wonderful wrimos saved a seat for my late behind.

Saturday's write-in is just under an hour away. Kind of hard to run home a minute and get what I forgot, should that happen. Don't forget anything. Don't forget anything. Don't forget anything.

One of the local papers is advertising the event. I'm waiting anxiously to see the story as it may be featuring Commander Rippy McWeasel. He's been scampering around my feet all morning getting himself worked up about what photo they might choose and if they'll use his good side. Between you and me, he doesn't have a good side. He's a weasel.

I have no idea what kind of turn out to expect, but if attendance follows the trend of everything else this NaNo season, we should have lots of people. However many end up there, I know we'll have fun. We always do.

With two stories I'm happy with completed and one still being munched on by the suck dragon, I'm happy to announce that story four has teetered back from the cliffs of suckiness and is evolving into something I can work with.

My second attempt at something YAish is very rough at this point, but I like where it's going. So far.

It's about a boy recieving his artifical finger interface which allows him to uncover society's secrets and possibly save his friend who as vanished. Unless I decide that the friend is dead. I haven't gotten that far. Either way, he'll try to save someone, even if it's himself. Maybe he'll save everyone! Oh, the choices I must make for this young man. I feel like I should warn you, I'm laughing nefariously.

And now with a deep breath and a packing list in hand, I'm off to write today's 1667 words.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 10

Please send sleep and more time to write.

Life is good here. Mostly. I have two short stories done that I'm pretty happy with. They'll be going up for critique in December. The third story is currently being fed to the suck dragon until it finds a purpose in its wandering chaos of run on sentences and expansive sections of rambling streams of consciousness. Number four is tetering on evolving into something workable. I'm holding my breath.

Also, if you could send oxygen, that would be great.

The Elementary YWP is going fairly well. Attendance has significantly dwindled thanks to the beautiful fall weather enticing kids to play outside rather than write with me. And, of course, there are those who have realized that they have to write outside of our meetings with prizes and don't want to make the effort. Happens every year. I'm used to it. The faithful will go on.

The Middle School YWP is a bust. It just never got off the ground this year, which is a shame. Though, I'm appreciating the open space on my calendar. I am still going in to write with my son during his lunch hour, but one hour instead of three, is fine with me with everything else I have going on.

Regional events with the adults have been wonderful. In person event participation is way up. We're two people away from tripling our number of members in our region this year from last year! 666 people are doing NaNo around me. We had twenty people at our write-in last night! That was a new record.

One of the local papers is doing a story on our event this weekend. I can't wait to see it. I also can't wait for saturday to see how this big event is going to go. It's the first time we've done a huge, all day write-in so who knows how well it will be attended, if we'll have enough space, food, or raffle prizes. At least one thing is for sure. I'll be getting some writing done!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Solitude" - Out today!

After much waiting, I am thrilled to announce that my short story "Solitude" is now out in the fall issue of Tales of the Talisman.

Trapped alone on a space ship, Zephros, the last wizard, discovers the secret to saving humanity that his kind has hidden from themselves for generations, but is he willing to succeed?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Thanks to an extra day off school for the end of the marking period, I had to rearrange my schedule and do my elementary Young Writers group on Thursday. Because it wasn't our usual day, less kids came. That was fine by me, I still had a room full.

To conserve my stock of prizes for my huge unanticipated group this year, I decided to consolidate our two shifts of word wars into one. Waiting an extra five minutes got all of the forth graders and the majority of the fifth graders included all in one word writing frenzy.

Last year I'd discovered that the same three kids could write far faster than the rest and won the majority of the prizes so this year I changed my prize tactics. If they write more than a hundred words in ten minutes, they get to enter. Most of them can do it and the rest will if they keep working at it. Out of those, I pick four to win small prizes.

That meant that the first time with two groups, I was out eight prizes already. We meet twice a week. I didn't exactly have sixty-four prizes. Not even close. Half that, I could handle between stickers, funky paperclips, erasers and other misc things I'd picked up throughout the year on sale. Not to mention since my middle school group seems to be a complete bust thanks to the teachers (I'm still fuming about that lack of any effort), I can use their prizes for my abudant elementary group.

We got done with our word race. I picked the winners. They get their prizes. A fifth grader piped up, "Um, what about the fifth grade word race."

"You just did one."

"Yeah, but it was with the forth graders."

"You entered to win a prize with the forth graders. That was the one word race we're going to do. I don't have enough prizes to do each grade seperately each time."

"So get more prizes."

I refrained from glaring and took a deep breath. "I pay for all of these prizes out of my pocket. I can't just keep buying more stuff for all of you. We have a very large group. Normally we'd only do two prizes. I was being generous by giving you four chances at winning something."

"Can't you just go to the dollar store?"

"I did. I buy prizes for you and the middle school. That's around forty dollars of my own money for you guys to win prizes. I don't get anything out of it. You do. We don't have to have prizes at all. It's just for fun."

"Oh." Yet, she seemed far less than impressed.

Some kids, I tell ya....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 3

Sitting at 4224 words so far. Not bad. Not great, but I'll take it considering how busy I am with everything else. At least I'm semi close to being at my daily goal by the end of the day - which I've yet to do this year... in all two previous days.

My first short story is turing out pretty well. Then again, I started with the only one I had a full summary for, so I suppose that helps considerably. Story number one is about a healer who is forced to heal a child. In order to save the child's life, she must die. She's not real happy about that after the fact and does her best to get even.

I thinking it will wrap up just under 5k. Which means I have to start pulling teeth on a less developed idea.

Our first regional write-in last night was quite a sucess. We took over a good portion of the tiny Barnes & Noble cafe and monoplized their single outlet with our powestrips. All your power will be ours! Mwahahaha!

Today was try two at kicking off the middle school YWP. Yesterday's attempt allowed me to write a thousand words while I hung out in the library, but only yielded a single student - one poor girl I cooerced to come over who had participated last year. She wasn't thrilled to be the only one there. I thought more were coming. Honest! Including my own son, who managed to forget about the meeting in the two hours between getting his lunch pass and finishing his lunch. Can you see me rolling my eyes?

Other than my son remembering to show up and the other girl returning, try two was as dismal as try one. I even waited for two hours this time. Though that allowed me to almost catch up on my word count, I was really hoping for more kids.

The problem seems to be a total lack of communication. Either the teachers aren't reading the email about promoting the program to the students or they just aren't promoting it. I know the students aren't getting the message because the ones I have talked to (in trying to lure them in) haven't heard one word about it. Sigh. I feel rather powerless over that situation since I have very little influence in that large school.

Tomorrow we have our second elementary YWP writing meeting. At least I know most of them are gung ho about the program and are having fun with it. That makes me feel a little better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 1

I wish I had a stellar first day word count to report, but alas, I have yet to start. I should have plenty of time later tonight to pound out my 1667 words for the day. Besides, I have my kids to challenge to word wars once they get home from school.

Our first writing meeting of the elementary YWP went splendidly. I still have around 40 kids after our two planning meetings. I'd hoped to have a solid body count, but things were a little hectic with two different grade groups (and large groups at that) coming in at diffferent times. All the kids were very well mannered and polite. Several of them even made trips back in to hand me pencils they'd mistakenly walked out with. I have to remember to compliment their teachers.

Middle School YWP launches tomorrow. I'm concerned that we'll have a less than stellar turn out again, despite having the program open to an entire school. Last year we relied on the teachers to pitch the program to the kids. That didn't work out so well, but it seems that's the method we're left with again this year.

I was up until midnight last night, madly typing up the regional 'get ready to write' email that I thought I'd had finished days before and then had read ten times since, adding and subtracting here and there... only to double the word count in the last two hours before sending it out at 11:57. I'm considering counting my bi-weekly regional emails as part of my 50k. ;) The late night made for a bleary morning where no writing got done, that's for sure.

So now, with a girl scout meeting, a boy scout meeting and an hour or two of work ahead of me, I'm off to squeeze in 1667 words. Best of luck to the rest of you who are participating!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The day before NaNo

Twas the day before NaNo and all through the house was much sticking and grumbling as I scittered about like a mouse. The Halloween party had left quite a mess and here and there guests had left parts of their dress.

Cups and bottles, returnables galore, I wasn't sure which chore I disliked more. With much sweeping, vaccuming and mopping ahead, I really just wanted to curl up and go back to bed. But there were decorations, seven totes of them, to put away before I could begin my novel the very next day.

With visions from our awesome regional kick off party engergizing me to write, I began to clean in hopes of finishing before night. The morning would bring the challenge to produce 1667 words and I knew more than half of them would resemble turds. But that's ok, that's what Nano's about, thinking up the story, writing it down, getting it out.

And now with much work ahead for the day, I must stop this horrible attept to rhyme and go on my way. Tomorrow we write!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Attack of the Young Writers Pt 2

We had our second meeting today. I was thrilled to see that my 'do you REALLY want to participate' speech had sunk in and decreased my number by twenty-some. Thirty odd kids who really want to be there is way easier to manage for me. I happily went about our planning meeting with a smile and answered questions from enthusaistic young writers.

Our meeting wrapped up with lots of grins and chattering about cover art they'd all be working on over the weekend. They promised to be back on monday for our first day of actual novel writing. With our satisfying meeting concluded, I packed up my supplies and headed to the office to squirrel them away until monday's meeting.

That's when I happened upon the 'oh crap, that was today?' face of one of the teachers. Again. And I'd even gone in before school even started (because I was there for a special parent student donut breakfast thing we do) to remind all the teachers that we had a meeting a lunch time. But no. I still had a missing group who'd never been down to see me. Ahhhh!

I ended up doing a very quick classroom pitch. Yep, you guessed it, I'm back around forty-five kids again.

We'll see how many show up on monday when the real writing starts.

On tomorrow's agenda: Our regional NaNoWriMo kickoff party with an unbelievable amount of RSVPs over last year. It should be fun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Attack of the Young Writers

I arrived a little early to my first Young Writers Program meeting with my stack of writing workbooks and my bag of prizes to entice the students. And I waited.

And waited.

Just when I thought the teachers I had distributed the flyer to last week had forgotten the YWP entirely, twelve kids showed up. Hooray!

Twelve is a nice number. Nice and personal. Then I realized they were all from one class. This meant I had three missing class groups. Oh crap.

I waited a little bit but no one else came so we proceeded with the intro. These were all fourth graders who I'd not worked with before. They were quiet and listened really well. At the end of our half hour together, they were excited and promised to be back on friday. I was thrilled.

I went to hunt down the three other teachers and found them all together in the lounge with looks of 'oh no!' on their faces when they caught sight of me. "Was that today?"

"Uh huh."

"We thought it was next week! Do you have an extra half hour? We'll send our kids right down."

"Sure." My day was crammed and I was pressed for time, but I figured half an hour wouldn't kill me.

Ten minutes later, thirty-five kids file into the library. Thirty-five. And these are only fifth graders. There's still one mystery quantity of fourth graders to be discovered on friday.

I'd learned my lesson last year when fifty kids showed up the first day, rabid for pizza and prizes. Umm, nooooo. The pizza party is at the end, after you earn it and the only way to get prizes is to earn them by writing. That announcement got rid of almost half of them.

So this year, I didn't even mention prizes or pizza on my flyer. Yet, the kids still showed up in droves. I spent my extra time with my eager and ultra inquisitive fifth graders doing my best to instill that this program involved writing. Lots of writing. There would be pizza and prizes, but ONLY after a lot of writing.

When I got done with my not near as enticing pitch as I'd given the forth graders, I came out and asked, "How many of you still really, really want to do this program? How many of you will be here for our planning meeting on Friday and be ready to write on Monday?"

Every darn one of them raised their hand.

I love that the teachers adore this writing program and that so many students want to particiapte, but holey moley. This is going to be a very long November. Or a blur. Let's aim for a blur, shall we?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prepping for NaNo

I give up. Avoiding posts about NaNo isn't working since it's taking up a good part of my free and no so free time. I'll probably be waxing on about NaNo for the next month or so. Sorry.

Knowing it will be taking over my life, I've begun the last stages of NaNo preparation. I'm not talking about outlining, character sketches or research. When the time comes to write, I'll write. I'm talking about the serious stuff that will be neglected when this 50k in thirty days washes over me, pulls me under and spits me out on the shores of December.

I spent my weekend catching up on my laundry. My family and I will now be able to get by an extra week or so when I forget to toss a load in here and there throughout the month. I payed all my bills through the middle of November. I did a litle extra cleaning because we'll be going to bare minimum real soon. I got all my business financial reports caught up - I hate doing those and was, well, eight months behind. Oops! I spent extra time with my family. I got everyone's halloween costume ready and mine started. Best of all, I'm now halfway done with the nine hundred christmas craft kits I need to do for my daughter's school.

Not that I neglected NaNo in my preparations. I packed all my goody bags for my regional kick off party next Saturday. All my raffle prizes are sorted into my thankfully huge stash of reusable shopping bags - one for each of the two Young Writers Program schools, kick off, weekly write-ins, our all day write-in, and the TGIO party.

And now with a bunch of stuff crossed off my mental to-do list, I can move forward into NaNo with a somewhat clear head. Which begins.... today at noon with my first YWP prep meeting.

Deep cleansing breath.

What do you do to prep for NaNo?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unexpected house guest

When I built my new, bigger, better pond this past spring, I hoped some wildlife would visit it. I was not disappointed. One frog led to two and then we released our two tadpole to frog Boy Scout project frogs into the pond. Next thing we know, we have six frogs and probably more. It's hard to tell them all apart except by size and only one is quite large. The rest are very similar.

The frogs have been a great source of amusement for the kids and myself. Each time we go out to feed the pond fish (four of the ten .10 gold fish that have survived in the pond), we count how many frogs splash into the pond rather than fall into the shadow that is giant mankind. The largest frog has become rather imune to our presence and gives off a 'Yeah, whatever. Feed the fish and leave us alone' vibe.

This has been fun and educational all summer long. But now it's fall and with the frosty temperatures, my friendly frogs seem to be looking for warmer places to hang out. Like under my house.

See, I have a tiny, dirt crawlspace rather than a much needed basement. We're used to chipmunks and mice skittering around under there dispite our best efforts keep their numbers down by feeding them the green pellets of doom. The favorite spot for tiny clawed feet seems to be the external lip around my main floor bathroom's tub. I'm not sure who's brilliant idea it was to install a tub with easy bottom access to all wildlife, but I'd love to track them down and have a word or two. Nothing is more relaxing than a nice hot bath and the skitter scratch of little rodents throwing a luau in the unexpected burst of heat.

Our furnace is down there. That makes for a nice warm place for all sorts of creatures. Including, apparently, frogs,- as we discovered when doing the annual fall furnace check. Let's just hope they are going there to hibernate rather than to sing to each other at night or do battle with the furry rodents who prance around my tub.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Busy and busier

I'd like to say that NaNo had stolen all my free time, so that by December I'd be back to my lazy morning hours of time to compose fun blog posts and write. Alas, it is not so.

Lately, my calendar has been full to the brim. For instance yesterday looked like this:
7am - see husband off to work, get dressed, start laundry, watch news, check emails & forums.
8am - get daughter off to school.
8:30 - see son sit in front of xbox because has the day off for conferences. Go to his conferences
10am - stop home. Discuss confrences. Demand son cleans his room. Get grocery list. Get Mother in law's grocery list. Get a few orders done.
11:45 - daughter is home from half day. Feed kids. Throw food in my mouth. Answer emails. Work on pep talks and forum post ideas
1:15 - go to bank, drop packages at postal outlet, get groceries
2:10 - realize while I'm in the middle of getting groceries, my daughter's conference is in ten minutes. Crap. Quick pay and leave.
2:20 -arrive at school, park, go to door next to classroom and learn its locked. Stupid school security. Drive around to main parking lot and run through school to the opposite end. Meet with teacher. Pick up books for NaNo book drive. Meet with teachers whose students I'll be doing the YWP with, copy fliers.
3:15 - drop cranky daughter off at home. Kick son off Xbox, make sure he's let the dog out an has cleaned his room. Go back to grocery store.
4:10 - finish getting groceries, drop off Mother in law's groceries, put her groceries away, scan all my groceries for stupid survey place and put them away.
4:45 -take deep breath. Answer emails, shift laundry to dryer and toss another load in. Consider what to make for dinner.
5:20 - throw dinner in face, talk to family, watch clock closely.
5:45 - leave for Boy Scout committee meeting
6:00 - no one else is there. wtf?
6:15 - others finally arrive. Have meeting
8:20 - discuss NaNo book drive and Boy Scout fundraiser with other moms while Boy Scouts finish their meeting
8:50 - get home.
9:00 - answer emails, read RIF program requirements - yes, I signed up to head that program up while at conferences. *head desk* Gather up the growing pile of things I need to mend and consider whether to work on that, the 100 felt cardinals I'm cutting out for xmas crafts for my daughter's school, or maybe write something.
9:10 - husband wants to watch tv together. Look at pile of stuff, look at tv and sigh. Watch tv.
10:30 - go to to bed and collapse.

Calgon, take me away!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Revisiting the past

Maybe it's just me, but my memories of things I previously enjoyed are always better than revisiting the actual thing. Movies I enjoyed growing up are always better in my head than hunting them down in a fit of nostalgia and sitting down with eager eyes only to miss the movie entirely, lost in a fog of how far we've come with technology and special effects.

Books are no different. Granted there are a very select few that I will stand by, but most are disappointing given a few years between first view and second. Perhaps this is because I've grown as a reader and/or a writer since I've first read them.

In the mood for something other than grammar humor last night, I pulled an old book off the shelf. By the end of the second chapter, I was beginning to question where it got so good that I'd deemed the book worthy of keeping. (I only hang onto books that I'd read again). It was ok, but little things bugged me. Distracted is probably the better word - confusing scene staging, repetition of words and the overall tone of the book itself.

What happened to the awesome book I had put on the shelf after racing to the last page the first time? I distinctly remember it as a book I couldn't put down. In fact, I'd raced through the other two in the trilogy as well. Did the magical suck faeries wave their wands over them all?

Maybe I've just become ultra picky when it comes to reading for my own enjoyment. Maybe I should build a bookcase shield to thwart the suck faeries! Hmm. Nah, it would just be another surface to gather fingerprints.

I think I'll just stop re-reading books and watching movies I fondly remember and just remember them instead.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm eyeing you

My husband and I were doing a little bedtime reading last night. He’s not a big reader, so this was a joyful occasion for me. A free pass to read without the ‘when are you going to turn that damned light off’ vibe wafting at me. He’s been working his way through a book he borrowed from a coworker. I have no idea what she said to entice him to read it, but I need to find out so I can have more in bed reading time.

Mr. Not-a-big-reader lies next to me, flipping pages. I’m snickering over the current chapter of Grammar Sucks (which I can’t recommend enough.). He turns to me and says, “What the heck does this mean? She cut her eyes to the other people in the room.”

The first thing that came to mind was the MC plucking out her eyeballs, chopping them in mid-air hibachi chef style and aiming the pieces at everyone else in the room. Mmm. Caught one in my mouth! Tastes like shrimp.

Maybe she plucked out her eyeballs, shuffled and cut them and dealt them like cards? Hey, I’ve got a pair!

Visually, really, what the hell does that look like? How about, she glanced at the other people in the room? No sharp objects needed.

I laughed, shrugged and went back to reading. Two minutes later, I’m interrupted by, “Does this seem excessive to you?” He goes on to read a three sentence paragraph that included all of the following: I glanced around, looked at, looked back at me, I caught his eye (Good catch! I hate when people drop my eyes when I throw them. Or cut them. Eek!), shifted his gaze, and looked away.

Holy excessive eyeball usage, Batman! Back away from the eyes. No, really. Put them down and walk away. And don’t look back!

Just below that, there’s another paragraph. Four short sentences this time, including: I looked, He did look, I gazed, glanced at me, I quickly looked.

AH!!!!! Make it stop! Turns out every single movement is being over described in an attempt to add tension. The MCs are watching everyone in the room, people in the room are watching them but everyone is looking away and no one is meeting any one’s gaze (Hello, right eyeball. Nice to meet you.).

We all have crutches we fall back on when writing scenes. But please, for the love of your eyeballs, don’t put them on crutches… er… I mean, overuse them. They need a rest too. No one likes dry, tired eyes.

Monday, October 11, 2010


My goal for this post is to not mention that writing challenge that happens every November that takes over two and a half months of my life. So, moving on....

Yesterday my percolator finally provided a solution to one of my broken short stories. Yay! Now I have to revise the beginning and end again. Let's hope its the last time.

And now for a short rant that has nothing to do with writing because everything that does seems to lead back to that one thing that I'm endeavouring not to talk about today.

I spent the majority of my weekend throwing birthday parties for my eight year old daughter. I had a lot of actual work to do, but I stayed up late both nights to do it, not getting much happy weekend down time so I could perform my all important mom duties during the day. We had a family party, to which my own sister was forty-five minutes late because she lost track of time / switched her plans (even though I'd specifically picked that date and time because it fit in her schedule).

My daughter also wanted a friend party. I'm pretty jaded when it comes to friend parties, having been bitten with a failed party for my son years ago. He has the misfortune to have been born during spring break, when everyone is out of town or has plans. She has a fairly safe birth date, so I agreed to do the whole party shebang as long as we kept it at five guests. I didn't want to go broke.

We sent out invites. We got four official RSVPs and one girl who said she would be there. We got a pinata. We bought party favors. We got balloons. I made cupcakes. We decorated the yard (because it was a gorgeous fall day and if I didn't have to have a bunch of screaming girls in my house, I was all for it). My daughter set up games and I bought prizes. Everything was ready on time. Hooray!

One girl showed up. One. And her mom almost forgot but happened to check her calendar a few hours beforehand and managed to make it.

Thank goodness for that, but still. If you say you are going to be somewhere. Be there. Especially when kids are depending on you. It's darn hard to play party games with just two kids.

Needless to say, she was very disappointed in her friends and I wasn't very happy with their mothers. Instead of having fun with her friends, she learned that she can't depend on them. There's plenty of time in life to become jaded, she didn't need to start at eight.

An hour into the "party", seeing how bummed my daughter was even though she was trying to have a good time, I called a friend of mine to borrow a filler kid -hoping to at least allow the girls to play the games my daughter had proudly devised. I told my friend that her daughter didn't need to bring a gift. I already felt silly enough asking her to join a party in progress and gifts weren't the important part of the party. We just needed someone to come play, eat cupcakes, win prizes and break open a pinata. If I had had a few more friends with daughters of similar ages that wouldn't have been afforted by my asking her to join a party she hadn't actually been invited to, I would have called them. But I didn't.

Her daughter and mine aren't great friends. They don't know each other very well. They're not in the same class or even same grade. But she arrived with a big bag of presents (yes, even after I'd told her not to). The girls all had a great time. When the party was over and the other girl went home, she stayed an extra hour to just play.

I only hope that my daughter doesn't remember her birthday party as the day people didn't show up but the day she met a new friend. Dependable friends are priceless.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Insert witty title

Sorry about the lack of posts this week. I've been down and out with a killer migraine.

On a happy note, I figured out the rough idea of my main NaNo story for this year. It may turn into a 50k novella or it may be one of several short stories. We'll have to wait and see where the blinking cursor takes me.

And yes, I'm going with the deserted bike on a sidewalk idea I brought up earlier.

Commander McWeasel is happy to hear I made some progress with commiting to a story idea. He's threatened to nip my ankles if I don't start with and complete this story before wandering off into sparkly new plot bunny territory. Since I'm still in bandages from my last post, I don't doubt that he'll follow through with it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The cyborg weasel commander has arrived!

He's here! He's here! Last night, Commander Rippy McWeasel beamed into my house to let me know his team of rabid cyborg attack weasels are arriving on Earth. They will be dispatched to your writing areas and will all be in position by November first to monitor our NaNo efforts.

He has taken up his post near my keyboard to keep an eye on me and learn my habits. He tells me this is so he can better tell when I'm procrastinating and when I'm gazing off into space but really working on writing. I think it's so he can memorize my passwords. Between you and me I'm sure he wants my credit card and bank numbers so he can set up a nice little place on the ocean somewhere. Maybe buy an island to populate with hot female cyborg weasels.

Won't he be surprised to learn that the most he could expect out of my finances would be a old, very used travel trailer beside a sludgy river? HA! Jokes on you, Rippy.

Oh crud, he can see what I'm typing. OWW! My ankles! I was kidding, Rippy! Owww!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Grammar Sucks... but it's funny

I loved english classes back in school. Took as many as I could and had a great time. But.... ahem... much time has elapsed between my knowledge gathering and my attempts to make good use of what I once knew.

In sorting through my stack of intended NaNo raffle prize books, I finally came to Grammar Sucks: What to do to make your writing much more better. I've never been a fan of cut and dry reference books. I have a few, but honestly, I don't use them because they're boring. Not so with this one.

In fact, I'm keeping it. Sorry.

The examples alone make me laugh. The chapter and section titles are hilarous. When I'm enjoying myself, I'm much more likely to remember lessons about prepositional phrases, double negatives and adjective phrases. Those all sound like boring things, don't they? But when illustrated with sentences I can relate to, these things sink in.

"The private party behind the garage contains all the cool people."

"The hot chick with blonde hair walked past me on the way to the food table"

"There will not be no Happy Hour today because of the blizzard." (Oh no! Wait. We're snowed in during happy hour and the double negative means it is on? Awesome!)

A lot of this stuff I know, but I have forgotten the actual name for it. Now I know again! If only all memory was so easily restored. Is there a book that can help me remember what I was going into the other room to get yesterday that I swear was important but couldn't remember once I'd walked the thirty steps to get there?

With refreshers on everything from the basics to the nit picky advanced stuff, you can't go wrong with this book. There are even several pages covering the present through past participle phrases of common verbs and plentiful examples on every page.

Both witty and informative, this book is perfect for any type of writer at any level. I recommend it to all of you! Go now! Buy it and laugh (and learn) with me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing, but not "writing"

Xandar peers up at the desktop. Quiet clacking and the occasional sigh are the only things he's heard in days. "What is she doing up there?"

Nekar pats the young man on the shoulder. "It's nearing that time of year again. You're new but you'll get used to it."

"What time? With all that typing I expected some new crumpled pages or characters down here."

"Listen to the typing. Notice anything different?"

"It's too regular. What happened to the long silences, the muttering and the occasaional run for cover when she gets up to trample us while acting out scenes?"

Nekar nods. "Exactly. She's not writing. Not our kind anyway."

Ms. Wildstar wanders over with a frown on her young face. "What other kind is there? I mean, that's worth spending all that time on? She could have written a quarter of a novel by now."

Xander cocks his head. "Were you hoping for some new characters to hang out with?"

"Of course not." Ms. Wildstar stares at the surrounding hills of crumbled paper.

"Cut it out you two. We won't be seeing any new characters around here for a couple months." Nekar points to the glowing screen high above them. "She's writing peptalks, donation requests, a forum full of informative posts, organizing events, and writing down story ideas for NaNo.

"Oh, not NaNo again." Ms. Wildstar wraps her arms around herself and looks to Xander. "You have to watch out for the newbies. They're not the same. Not real characters. If you find one, kill it, cut its head off and bury it."

Xanders eyes grow wide. "Why? What the hell are they?"

"NaNo cast offs." Nekar hands him a Barthromian slingshot. "Sorry, that's all we've got down here right now. Cases of them. Stupid things. She hasn't cut any new weapons in a while and we've used the good ones up."

"I'm supposed to kill it and cut off its head with a damned slingshot?" He holds the rusty metal bar up and examines the yellowed rubber band. "How long have these been down here?"

"A very long time." Nekar hands two more to each of them. "Always stay armed. Once you have them down, paper cut their necks. There's plenty of that."

Ms. Wildstar snorts. "Let's just hope its not a humid day."

"Enough. This is important. These NaNo things, they aren't fully formed and usually dim-witted, but they can show up in masses or alone. Some of them may have abilities we don't know about, ones she didn't fully explore before tossing them out of the story as she's writing. Some of them have family up there." He points to the desktop. "They want to go back and will do anything to make that happen. If we ever want the chance to get back into a WIP, we need to protect her."

Xander tucks his slingshots into to his pants pockets. "And why the decapitation and burying thing?"

Ms. Wildstar does the same. "They turn into zombies if we don't. Kind of hard to get back into a WIP as a brainless character."

Nekar half-stiffles a snicker. "True. How long have you been down here again?"

She glares at him. "Shut up."

"But what happens if we miss one and it goes zombie? How do we kill it?"

"Fire." Nekar takes a long look at all the paper around them. "And that means we all go up with it."

"Oh. Gottcha." Xander stands tall and looks alert. "So what now?"

"We distribute the rest of these slingshots and then wait for November to strike. Good luck to you both." Nekar heads off into the paper with the crate of slingshots. "It's been nice knowing you."

Monday, September 27, 2010

I need a few more of these days throughout the year

Last year my enthusiastic wrimos asked to have an all day write-in during the next year's NaNo. Since my superhero self is buried under a cement slab in the backyard, I'm relying on two wonderful volunteers to secure the location. For my part, I spent yesterday making this poster. The boxing cyborg weasel will also be on t-shirts for raffle and I'll have free stickers for everyone who attends.

33 days til NaNoWriMo. I'm looking forward to a month of reveling in writing - the one time of year when my family and friends accept that I'll sneak off at all hours to write instead of me having to work around everything else that always gets in the way. More importantly, I have to put aside the excuses that I make for myself. Six hundred guilt monkeys are hard to ignore.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mad Men

My husband recently declared that we just had to watch Mad Men because some of our friends loved it and he was sick of feeling out of the loop. Therefore, we conformed with the masses, glued our behinds to the couch and got watching. And watching we have been. Hooray for season DVD sets.

I like the show. I do. However, I'm so frustrated with the amount of skipped opportunities for tension and mystery time lapses between episodes that I want to smoke a carton of Lucky Strikes and pound a few bottles of gin, vodka and/or anything else sitting around.

People have babies and nothing more is said about it until way later, months go by making me wonder where the hell we are at the start of each episode, people argue and then are fine without any explaination, people leave meetings and we find out later that they were fired. There's plenty of tension still there, but I can't help but think of all we are losing because of missed opportunities.

Neck deep in room temperature vodka and without a secretary to bring me more ice, I pledge now to persue all avenues of tension when writing.

Interesting things about Mad Men I have noted while speeding through the first three seasons:

No one ever says "goodbye" before hanging up the phone until season three, episode nine - yet when this momentous dialogue does happen it's as if the character is offended because the person he's talking to didn't say it. For some reason, all calls in this one episode end in "goodbye". Did no one actually say goodbye in the 60's? I don't remember ever noticing that before.

In a scene where the family goes on a picnic: when they are ready to go, they pick up the picnic basket and shake out the blanket, leaving all their trash on the grass. I honestly yelled at my tv, chastising these characters for their blatant 1962 littering ways. In fact, I was still mad about it hours later. Yes, its was acurate for the time, but still infuriating with our current social consciousness.

The writers earned massive bonus points for cutting off an up and coming antagonist's foot with a lawnmower in an office in a way that totally worked. I bow to the NaNoesque absurdity of it.

Everyone will sleep with everyone else as soon as they kiss or share the slightest googly-eyed gaze unless they are gay, then they have the magical power to say no.

The first think a man will do after arriving home from a long day of drinking at the office is pour himself a drink.

You can't film a scene depicting the 60's without at least one person smoking unless its a scene in church. Even then, I'm sure they are all being directed to think about smoking.

We're almost caught up to season four. I'm finding spoilers are everywhere. Don't tell me!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The dreaded question

As I was in my daughters school last week, gently nudging the principal to let me hold a used book drive there, I ran into one of the teachers. Not just any teacher, but the one I'd first done the Young Writers Program with. She was going on about much she loves the program because it gets her students so excited about writing, but she also asked the dreaded question: "So, do you have your novel published yet?"

She wasn't even asking about the novel I've been slaving over for years, rewriting, editing , querying for a short time and now working on again. No, she was asking about my first NaNo novel. The one that hasn't even seen the light of critiquer's eyes yet. The one I've only started a much needed rewriting effort on after letting it sit for four years. This novel being the one I wrote alongside her class to prove that I could write 50,ooo words in thirty days so they also could meet their writing goals.

I'm convinced she purposely hunts me down every year just to lob guilt monkeys at me.

"No." I go on to explain, like I do every year, that I'm using NaNo as an outlet to try new things and to apply what I've learned over that year. How I use NaNo as a break from working on the one novel that I'm really trying to get ready and out into the big world. I then am happy to finally be able to add that I do have a short story out soon, and did have some progress with my efforts toward getting a novel published, but it's not there yet.

For some reason, while this makes me feel positive, it's never quite enough for those who don't know better. "Oh, well that's nice."

I want to explain that you can't turn around and submit your NaNo-wonder-suck-novel to publishers in December, and that the publishing industry grits their teeth every December for just that reason. I want to tell her that what I churn out in November is a horrible rough draft and nothing even close to an actual finished novel. In fact, I am tempted to go on and on, but I know her eyes will glaze over in two seconds and we both have better things to do. Instead, I smile, nod and make a mental note to pick up extra bananas on the way home.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day of the Guilt Monkeys

In preperation for NaNoWriMo, I've been busy making new items for raffle prizes to help raise money for our regional donation. This year I'm proud to present a set of four guiltabulous stickers.

This sticker features one of the dominating rabid cyborg attack weasels. These weasels keep us in our seats by patrolling the floors around writing areas until we meet our daily word count. Trust me, you don't want to anger the weasels.

Though less threatening than the rabid cyborg attack weasels, a mob of guilt monkeys is hard to ignore. That one in the back on the right looks less than impressed with my writing efforts no matter how much I try. I guess you can't impress every monkey.

Even less impressed than that monkey above, is this one. In fact, he kind of scares me.

If that array of guilt monkeys doesn't spur you into action, there's this little guy. Do you really want to make him cry? Really?

Friday, September 17, 2010

A dictionary for writers

I'm heading off for a night of tent camping with my kids this afternoon, and I have a lot of packing to do. Rounding up, actually. We're more 'rent a cabin' kinda people than 'campers' so what equipment I do have is scattered between the attic, garage and whatever nook it got crammed into. It's also my daughter's first time spending the night in a tent. Wish me luck.

Why didn't I work on that packing thing yesterday?

I spent the day composing and sending emails introducing the Young Writers Program to local schools. An email pitching NaNo's used book drive fundraiser was composed and sent to the middle school where I do the YWP. I met with the principal at the elementary school were I do the YWP and got her on board with the book drive. Writers Die kits were created and assembled. The last ten of the twenty plot bunnies was finished. Oh, and I worked.

Why the picture of the book if all I'm going to do is ramble about what I did yesterday? That's because, in light of yesterday's mental events, I didn't have a chance to dwell on a blog post. So today I will feature another selection from the NaNoWriMo raffle item stack.

Bryon's Dictionary for Writers and Editors sounded interesting so I picked it up to see what on earth set it apart from any other dictionary out there. Well, it holds the magical answers to all (or at least, many) of those things we overthink, misuse or wonder about.

Not your typical dictionary with dry explaination, this book lists people, places, and terms with explainations with clear examples. Commonly swapped words are listed together such as altar and alter, with their differences pointed out right there so it might actually stick with some of us. Poets, authors, plays, trademarked words. A smattering of French, German and Italian words. It's not all in here, but there's a good cross section to work with.

There's even a hint of humor. Such as this entry:
alright is never correct; make it all right.

The appendix includes:
-The proper usages of punctuation - with three pages devoted to the pesky comma.
-Abbreviations for major worldwide airports
-Conversions for distance and tempertature
-List of main units of currency

There is also a short glossary that covers grammatical terms such as verbs, predicates, participals, etc. It's the perfect, quick refresher for those of us who have been out of english class for more years that we'd like to admit.

On one hand, all of this information is available online thanks to the almighty power of google. On the other, I felt like I was actually learning something in reading through the dictionary, expanding my vocabulary, rather than doing a quick internet search for the proper spelling of a word I already knew. The dictionary section is only 370 pages, certainly no replacement Webster, but of a length I could sit down with and not feel overwhelmed reading through.

Along with the appendix and glossary, I'd say this makes a useful reference book for any writer.
Now I'm reconsidering its placement in the raffle stack. I just might keep this one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The plot bunny invasion continues

Gracie, this one's for you. Granted, the moustache isn't in keeping with the challenge, but the bunny cried out for one. I lost count of how many times I burnt my finger on the hot glue making that hat. Oww!

In the midst of the churning out all my other NaNo items, I've managed to only give life to three plot bunnies a day. I'd fail as a mother rabbit. Good thing I'm not one. That hot glue gun would be hell on furry little feet.

Yesterday I was able to create and print my stickers for our region, and a set for each of the two schools that participate in the Young Writers Program. I made winner magnets for all three. (Optimistic aren't I?) I also made six t-shirts of various designs and nine posters.

A newly created set of four Guilt Monkey stickers will be raffled off this year at various events. I'll post those friday. They make me laugh and I hope they will do the same for you.

Without further ado, I give you the newest members of the 2010 Plot Bunny warren. I have about ten more to make so suggestions are still welcome.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Plot Bunnies

Along with changing a good deal of names in Trust due to some editorial feedback, my subconscious percolator has finally come up with a way to shave 14k off the word count and bring a good deal of scenes closer together to solve some other issues the novel was encountering. I have been working on it. Honest. But with NaNoWriMo lurking around the corner, my easily distracted mind is in overdrive.

In getting ready for this year's event, I've been working on new posters, t-shirts an a set of stickers based on plot bunnies. This led to checking out a crafy lead I remembered spotting last year: Cute easter bunnies. Easter? Noooo. Plot bunnies!

And so after a trip to the Dollar Tree, Big Lots and then Walmart to find the right kind of baby socks (really, I had no idea it was going to take an freakin hour to find a bulk pack of baby socks with a cuff! Not to mention there must have been a rush on back to school baby shopping because all the hooks, shelves and displays were all decimated.), a small portion of craft supply chaos invaded my living room.

The first few of my warren of plot bunnies came to life. I feel like I should be laughing evily here and milking the giant cow.*
Yes, I'm using buffalo snow for stuffing. It's the same darn thing that you buy for stuffing any other time of year, but after Christmas you can find it on ultra clearance.
Behold, the cute little bunnies. Cute, sure, but not quite there yet. They needed something else. So I went back and raided my craft pile. Mountain, really, but 'pile' makes me sound a little less obessed with crafty stuff, doesn't it? Maybe? Ok, humor me.
After some added flair, I present to you the first occupants of 2010's Plot Bunny warren.

Shh, don't tell my son that I raided his drawer of plastic weaponry left over from MIA action figures. It's a cool barbed sword and it even comes out of the little leather sheath I made for it for extra plot bunny fun!

Up next: the ninja, pirate and princess. Any other suggestions?

*from Heroics for Beginners. If you enjoy humorous fantasy, I highly recommend it.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The editing knife strikes back

"Where the hell am I supposed to put those?" Nekar points to the planet-sized words floating down from my desk.

“Sorry. I had to make some changes in the star system.”

“Why? I liked those names.”

“Me too, but two editors didn’t, so I’m changing a few things.”

The character formerly known as Zsmed storms up to my desk. “A few?” He rips the nametag off his shirt. “I woke up this morning with this. Why in Geva’s name am I now called: Good-looking-cocky-fighter-pilot-that-once-slept-with-Ms-MC-and-was-violently-killed by-Mr-MC? Do you have any idea how much of a mouthful that is? Delilah ran out of breath when she yelled my name this morning and almost passed out.”

“You two arguing? I thought you were getting along.”

Good-looking-cocky-fighter-pilot-that-once-slept-with-Ms-MC-and-was-violently-killed by-Mr-MC scowls. “We weren’t arguing.”

“Oh. Oh! Right. You know, I created the lot of you, unless I’m writing the intimate scene, I really don’t want to hear about the details, ok? I’m glad you’re still getting along though.”

He taps a foot and cocks his head. "My name?"

"I had to give it away. I could give you the one I traded it for, but I'm confused enough as it is. You guys have all had the same names for years, this is going to take some getting used to."

“I don’t even know what race I am anymore!”

“Yes, well, I had to make some changes there too.”

“And what are you going to do about this then?” He waves the nametag in my face.

“I suggest you don’t ruin that. You’ll be needing it for awhile. You might also want to watch out for-“

Good-looking-cocky-fighter-pilot-that-once-slept-with-Ms-MC-and-was-violently-killed by-Mr-MC is swept off the desktop as another discarded planet’s name drifts downward. He yells and shakes his fist at me while clutching a giant B.

A strange stabbing sensation accosts my toes. “What the…” I peer under my desk.

Another character, his tattered clothing covered in dust, raises his knife for another blow.

“Stop that!”

He glares up at me. “I’ve killed an entire warren of killer dust bunnies, traversed the forest of cables and survived months in the dark darkness that transcends black behind your desk. And now I come back to this?” He points at his nametag. “Do you think you can tell me what to do?”

“Put the knife down! That hurts!”

“On one condition. I want a new name.”

“What, you don’t like: Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him?”

“How can you even read that from up there?” He examines the nametag. “This has got to be two point type to all fit on here.”

“I’m all-knowing, remember?”

“Is that so? I bet you didn’t know I was going to do this.” He pulls out a gun and aims it at me.

“No, but I do know that the gun is empty. Otherwise you would have shot me to begin with and not bothered with knifing my foot.”

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him tosses the gun aside. “How do you know I would do that?”

I reach down and pat him on the dusty head. “It’s all in the name dear. Now go find some cover until the rest of the big changes hit the ground.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A visitor from out of place

Hello there. My name is Kevin. I love those little berries that are on the russian olive trees this time of year. I love them so much that I found myself alone in the middle of a suburb with a plentiful russian olive population. The other stupid flocking turkeys that live in the area, don't know what they're missing.

Did you know that a group of turkeys is actually called a rafter? I bet not. Only turkeys called Kevin who use google know that.

You might be thinking Kevin is a silly name for a turkey, but the young girl who named me thought it was utterly approriate for some reason. I try my best to ignore her and her dog that wants to come out and say hello. At least I'm pretty sure that's what he's saying when he jumps up and down behind the picture window. It's hard to tell with all his whining.

For the past three mornings, I go to the big russian olive bush in the girl's front yard and scrounge for berries in the grass. When I eat all of those, I jump up and nip them off the branches. It's very good exercise, you know. But now, this girl, she comes out every darn morning, in the middle of my berry breakfast, with her backpack on and begging to have her picture taken with me.

No freakin way. I don't care how much distance is between me and her, it's not enough.

I run as fast as my long, meaty turkey legs will carry me into the safety of the neighbor's yard across the street, and then work my way into the backyard of the lady next to them and into the places only turkeys like me know to go to hide from camera happy little girls.

Can't a lonely turkey eat breakfast in peace?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You know what they say about assuming?

Every time I catch myself typing 'assume', I hear the voice of an office manager I worked beside years ago. She was fond of muttering under her breath about our boss and clueless customers. If I had a dime for everytime I heard "When you assume it makes an ass out of you and me", I'd be on a beach with an umbrella drink waiting for my massage instead of sitting at my computer.

There are times in life where you have to be confident that you're doing the right thing. That you know what you're doing. That you've sent your submissiom to the right email address with the right information included and in the right format. But it also pays to tone down the assume level with a smidge of paranoia that makes you double check so you don't make an ass out of yourself.

In the past week I've had two prime examples. One made me laugh (an annoyed laugh, but a laugh nevertheless). The other made my blood pressure shoot through the shingles first thing in the morning.

When I opened up my work email to gather my online orders, I came across this gem: The customer orders an item. The size and specifications for the item are clearly listed on the order. The customer leaves a note at the bottom that states: I see this item is for (my particular vehicle) up to the 2006 model year. My current item is this size (lists entirely different size) and is a 2008. "I assume that because the item is listed as (my particular vehicle make), it will fit."

Serious head desk moment for me here. I thought this guy won the assumption of the year trophy for his blatant disgregard for logic.

But no. The next morning, he lost his day old title.

I wake to hear heavy equipment on the road outside. Annoyed, I peek out the window to see what neighbor was getting a tree removed or something. My eyebrows rise as I recognized one of our customer's trucks. They rise further when I realize there are also two dumptrucks and a huge flatbed with a bulldozer. Grabbing my clothes, I mutter, "What the hell is going on?"

A quick dash down the stairs later, I snatch the phone off the wall and dial my husband at work. "Did you schedule the lawnwork we'd talked about four months ago and never go a quote on from (our customer)."

"Uh, no. Why?"

"He's here. With trucks. I think they're ripping up the back yard already." I peek out the window. Sure enough, the efficient crew is hard at work within five minutes off the truck.

"He never even gave me a quote!" My husband sounds nearly as flustered as I am. "I noticed he left me a message this morning, but I was in a meeting until a few minutes ago. We weren't going to do anything with the yard if we couldn't trade a job and he never got back to me."

"Well he's here now. I think. There's two guys here anyway. I guess see if he's one of them and find out what is going on."

Turns out the boss isn't there, so I speak to a now thoroughly embarrased and confused employee. He calls the boss. The boss claims he had the ok to do the job. Perhaps, he suggests, I should call the boss. He gives me the number.

Paranoid as I am, and with the office manager's voice chanting in my head, I call my husband again to verify that there was no schedule or quote before confronting the boss.

The boss doesn't like me anyway because, you know, I'm inadequate because a woman. Yeah, he's that kind of guy. This means I don't have to pretend to be nice because this dislike thing has become mutual. If I'm the bad guy questioning the job, the men get to remain good with one another. I don't mind being the bad guy.

Nope, there was never any contact other than the intitial interest in getting a quote on the possible job trade. I call the boss.

"So, your guys are here ripping up my lawn. How much is this going to cost and what exactly are they even doing, because we never even got that information from you."

"I gave your husband a quote. He said it sounded good and to schedule the job. Now seemed like a good time, before the leaves started to fall."

"He never got a quote from you. We didn't know you were coming. Your guys have ripped up my underground robotic lawnmower wiring because I didn't get any notice to move it."

"I guess I should have called yesterday."

One day's notice would have beat none, but really? What if we had been on vacation or something? It's not like he waited to hear back from us, they just showed up and started working. Jeez! I give him a nice long, dead silence.

He starts to sound a little worried. "I have the numbers here somewhere. I thought I gave them to your husband. Maybe I didn't."

"You didn't."

"We'll make it an even trade. Don't worry about it."

Worry about it? You just ripped up my lawn without warning, without any estimated cost, and without any sort of approved plan. I'm not worried. I'm pissed off.

But, he's a customer. A big assuming customer. There's a limit to how much of a raging witch I can be and still keep his business. I grit my teeth.

"Since you've already ripped up my grass and tore up my underground wiring, you might as well go ahead with the rest of it."

At which point he apologized profusely, and I handed him the assumption trophy.

I don't even want to see what assuming wonders this next week might bring. Hopefully none of them will be mine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just one more thing

I'm one of those suckers who volunteers for everything. I admit it. If you sound desperate enough, I'll probably raise my hand and pile on another obligation. But there's a limit. Really, there is.

The phone rings. A familiar Boy Scout dad's voice says, "I need you to run our upcoming popcorn fundraiser."

"I'm sorry, I really can't."

The superhuman inside me seems to have worked the duct tape on her mouth loose. She mumbles something the sounds like, "Say yes." I kick the bound superhuman and wave at her to shut up.

"We were really hoping you would."

"I have too many other things going already during that same time."

Superhuman rolls her eyes. I apply new duct tape before she can scream, "I'll do it!".

"Your name was brought up by several people who thought you'd be right for the job."

"I'm sure it was." I take a deep breath. "You have to understand, during that same couple months, I have to purchase materials and create nine hundred christmas craft kits for my daughter's school. I'm also a Girl Scout leader and have meetings and crafts to organize. We have a PTO fundraiser I'm helping with. I have NaNo raffle items to solicit and some to create and write-ins to set up. I have the Young Writer's program to pitch to new schools and organize in the two I already do. I'm running a book drive for the entire county, and I just signed up to be on the funding committee for the school system. Did I mention that I also run a business?"

He doesn't miss a beat. "I might have someone else that can do it, but can you at least help her?"

I give Superhuman one last kick and rip off her shiny red cape. With a quick twist, I put it on. "I'll do what I can, but I'm not promising anything big."

"Thanks. We'd really like you to take this over next year so keep that in mind."

After hanging up the phone, I drag Superhuman out to the back yard, toss her in a hole and bury her. After standing there minute, I pile on a few cinderblocks for good measure.

There, maybe now I'll still find a little time to write.

Getting groovy

It's almost time to get back into the groove. School starts next tuesday. That means no more waving the husband off in the morning and crawling back into bed for an few minutes (an hour or two) before realizing I've slept all my writing time away and the kids have slept until 10. Again.

This is adjustment week. Up at 7:00am - 'up' as in awake enough to turn on the news and wave the husband off to work. I've been waking the kids up earlier each day. We were down to 7:30 this morning. Bed times have also been adjusted. So far everyone is taking the return to routine pretty well. Evenings have been filled with school open houses, and PTO, Girl Scout and Boy Scout planning meetings. Ah, fall. I'd love to say that I can smell it in the air, but its ninety degrees and horribly humid again today, and I don't want to think about what that funky smell is.

Very soon, I'll have the silent house to myself. I'll get some uninterupted writing time. Of course, there's still work to be done and volunteer obligations to meet, but I'm excited nevertheless.

Rewrites, short story fixes and Sahmara edits, I'm coming for you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reading, ranting and religion

It's sunday evening and it's freakin hot. Ninety degrees and counting. I grab a book from my stack of NaNo raffle prize / Barnes & Noble clearance bin purchases, pack up the kids and head to the beach.

The parking lot is packed. The beach is over-crowded. We find a small haven between the three foot trench someone dug earlier in the day and a couple yelling at their kid to stop throwing sand. The water is cool and clear - for once since we haven't had a good rain storm in weeks to stir it up into its usual muddy look. Waves slurp at the shoreline, filled with kids and a sampling of rafts, tubes and floaties. My kids wade out to join the others. I kick back with my book in the desperate hope that it will be far better than the last.

Thank goodness it was, because I don't have the patience to scrape another learning experience from reading something far less than stellar after the last few books.

While I've heard the majority of the advice offered in this book before, it didn't hurt to hear it again. The positive and realistic light shed by the host of successful novelists was refreshing, uplifting and sometimes even downright humorous. Though I haven't yet come across any 'insider secrets', it is filled with lots of helpful tips and advice. I'd recommend this book to anyone who doesn't have access to a critique group with experienced writers.

As I was busy reading the tirade on writing muses and percolating the issue I'm having with the ending on the short story I'm revising, I became aware of multiple feet gathering behind me. The chatter level grew to a volume I could no longer tune out. My reading and pondering oasis was shattered. I turned around.

A hundred-some people stood behind me, all dressed in beach-going attire but milling around and showing no sign of settling down. Mostly teens and thirty-somethings, these folks gathered into a tight cluster and raised their hands. At least they quieted down at this point so I went back to reading. Or trying to.


I jump a little and turn around. Don't tell me...

And then the guitar starts. And the singing.

Yes, a hundred-some folks have decended on the packed public beach, on a ninety degree day, the last weekend before schools starts when everyone is making their last big beach trek, to hold a church service. And not just any church service, oh no.


The crowd breaks and decends on the beach, heedless of the families they have interupted, the children's sandcastles, and the people that are grabbing their lawnchairs, towels and bags and relocating. Half of the church people wade out into the water, sending kids running in all directions as their swimming space is taken up by the crowd. People with cameras wade out further as do several others. An akward hush takes over the entire beach as a baptism takes place - everyone attempting to be respectful of the occasion thrust upon us all.

The teen boy comes up from the water after being dunked and lets out a loud cheer. The church crowd claps and cheers along with him.

Ok, fine. They're done. Everyone can go back to playing in the water, resuming their conversations and I can go back to reading my book. Don't get me wrong, but if I wanted to be included in a church service, I'd have gone to church instead of the beach.

The crowd doesn't disperse. No, no. They go on to perform thirteen other baptisms with thirteen other rounds of cheering and clapping. I attempt to block out the noise. People attempt to play quietly in the water.

At this point I overhear the suggestion that the masses should go among the beach-goes and spread the love of the church. Seriously? As if you haven't impossed on everyone enough already? I'm sure if anyone felt moved by the ceremony and wanted to join you, they'd know which cheering, guitar-toting, we're-taking-over-the-beach gaggle of half soaked people to approach.

An exodus began from those within earshot of the group. We joined them.

Thank you, church group, for making my last time at the beach with my kids this summer less enjoyable than putting up with the annoying kid who was obessed with jabbing an empty plastic bottle with a large stick for half an hour. He had a right to be on the public beach too, but at least his parents eventually yelled at him for being inconsiderate of others.