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?