Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Resolution: Overachievers not-so-anonymous

Last year I jumped on the idea of a one word New Year's resolution. I'm happy to report this is the first time ever that I've actually stuck to my resolution for the entire year. No griping, no forgetting about it after two weeks, no feeling that I was roping myself into some unrealistic goal. No sir, it worked, and I feel so much better for it. Last year's word was: Less.

This year: Me.

Yep, a very small word, yet a very big aspiration.

This is my last year volunteering at my daughter's elementary school. After nine long years of PTO duties, I'm soooooo ready to hang up my dinged up, paint-covered name tag. My big Christmas craft project is done for the year so it's all downhill from here. This means that after June, that's a lot less obligations and stress for me.

I've been on a grant review board for the past couple years, and while I've enjoyed doing it, the one night the six meetings a year are on is the same night I have two other obligations. I enjoy the other two things more, and one of those is only for a month out of the year. This one is still up for debate, but I'm seriously considering stepping down as part of the reducing stress for me effort.

This past year, I've all but handed over my writing time to the drool-sucking monster of work. NaNo helped me find that time again, but not the creativity and inspiration that actually makes it enjoyable and readable. It's time to put an end to feeling like I need to work twelve hour days, day after day after day. Sure there will be some, but I've got to turn off work and make more time for me to do what I enjoy.

My kids are ten and fourteen, they don't need me every second of every day anymore. I need to step back with the small things and continue to hold them accountable for the things I expect them to do and find a few more things they can help out with. It's easy to just keep doing most things myself, but I could be delegating more. They're old enough to help spread the load to help reduce my overwhelming list of things I try to squeeze into every day.

Possibly most important, I will make time for me to eat lunch and breakfast. I can't tell you how many days I went without one or both this past year because there was just too much to get done every day.

I'm not sure when or how I became an overachiever, but it sure seems to take a while to recover from being one. After realizing how thin I've spread myself, I can't say it's hard to step down from everything I've roped myself into, but I do feel guilty knowing that those things might not get done by someone else. Sometimes, they just don't. I've seen it happen and I cringe. But I don't leap back into the fire. I'm not a superwoman with endless energy. I'm just me and there's only so much I can do. I have another resolution to stick to and I'd love to report another successful year. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing strikes again

A big thank you to Stephanie Herman of The Wild Literati who hunted my lurking self down to tag me for The Next Big Thing blog hop. Stephanie was kind enough to do some critques for me on A Broken Race a while back...back when I had time to write and put work up for critique. But Jean, you say, didn't you just rediscover your writing time with NaNoWriMo? Well yes, however, this is my really busy time of year for work so we'll get to this whole writing thing, a rant on stupidity in a bookstore, and my one word New Year's resolution in January posts.

For now, I'm going to attempt to play by the rules for The Next Big Thing. And I'm going to break them immediately (You did see that I said attempt?) by using a short story instead of a book.

What is the working title of your next book?
Found, which is a short story for those of you who skipped the paragraphs above.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I participated in A Story a Day In May this past May, and this was one of the stories that came to me. In a day. The whole thing just spilled onto the page...or screen as it were. This was one of the few days that month that my brain worked in coordination with my fingertips and I knew I was on to something good.

What genre does your book fall under?
Horror? Paranormal? Young Adult? We'll just settle for Speculative Fiction

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
An innocent looking little boy. No one in particular.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Little Adam MacIntire discovers a special place to play with his new friend Caroline, a place where no one can hear or see them.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Found is scheduled to be published in the January 2013 edition of Allegory

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
A couple hours. That makes it sound so easy. It's not really. It just happened to be a good writing day. If you want to see why I don't have 365 other short stories waiting to be published, check any of my May 2012 posts for details.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
No quick answer springs to mind. I'm sure there are some, probably many, but I haven't read anything similar recently enough to have memory of it.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Every parent's fear of losing their child in a store. Been there. Sweated heavily, heart pounding, frantically searching. No sir, not fun at all. Then I wondered what the child was thinking and doing while mom was freaking out. Oh hey, I had a story to tell.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Hiding is all fun and games as long as someone will eventually find you.

And now we get to the portion of the post where I tag a few fellow writers. I'd normally tag Ian over at Views from a Bald Patch but he's already participated and had tagged me back in November. So I'm going to nudge Ray Veen since it looks like he's got a project in the works and Ryan at A Dark Corner of the Mind because well, he needs to tell the world more about this book he's been editing for almost a year now.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Children of the Trees is live

It's been a busy month around here. Not only with NaNoWriMo, but with short stories. I have two bits of good news to share today.

Children of the Trees is now online in Issue 15 of Liquid Imagination.

Also, I'm happy to announce that my short story, "Found" has been accepted for publication in Volume 20/47 of ALLEGORY which will be live on the web in January.

Thank you to all of my wonderful critique partners who helped me get these stories fleshed out and cleaned up. I guess this means I need to get some more stories out in submissionland now that NaNo is over.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

As NaNo winds down

Contrary to what you might believe from my blogging presence, I am still on the planet. It's just, well, NaNoWriMo.

I'm happy to report that I wrote my 50,000th word last night at 9:12pm. No, the story is not done. The story will very likely never be done. It's a mess. It's easily the worst thing I've written since I started to take writing seriously. However, it didn't suck so horribly bad that I couldn't bear working on it. It had some redeeming bits.

On the redeeming list:
• Characterization practice. Since I spent a good deal of this "novel" trying to find out just who the hell had an engaging pov to tell it through, I did a lot of showing of the scene and events through many different people.

• Writing through the "bad guy". Yes, I've done the antagonist pov many times, but this guy was a different experience. He saw the world at a very different angle than everyone else. He had a very disturbing (yet fun in a writer-sort of way) mind to get into.

• Description is awesome for adding word count. This is probably why I'm light on description in most of my other writing. I'm usually focused on keeping the word count low and only focusing on the important details rather than trying to build up lots of words. However, this was also a good place to see how people saw the same things very differently.

• I made time for writing again. This was my real goal so even though the writing generally sucks, I'm calling it a win.

What sucked so bad:
• I was so stressed with life that I couldn't remember my own character's names from day to day. I had to make a list - and when I forgot to add secondary people, well on the next day, they ended up with names like "guy 2" and "nurse 4".

• I repeated soooo much stuff because I couldn't find a character to tell the story through that spoke to me like they normally do. This was also likely due to life being stressful / not being able to relax and sink into the story.

• Inane. That should be the title of this "novel". While it had a few scenes I really enjoyed writing, most of it was in the "OMG just get through this so I can get to the next plot point" or "For the love of all that's holy someone do something" category. In short, the whole lack of focus thing on my part led to mind-numbing three page scenes where two characters ate crackers and then declared they were thirsty. Tired brain no make interesting thing happen. Gaaaah.

On the whole, I'm chalking it up to a month-long writing exercise. Which makes me a little sad because this is the first time I've not walked out of NaNo with a shiny new project I'm proud of.  I guess that's what the other eleven months of the year are for, huh?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The benefit of threats

Apparently telling my floundering cast of NaNo characters to get their plot together or get off my keyboard had some effect on them. Or me.

I can usually tell when a story just isn't going to happen and know when to bail on it in favor of using my time (somewhat) more productively. This mess was going nowhere. Then I made the angry Father do something. What was the biggest conflict he could create other than slogging along as the advocate for the unfortunates? He needed to want to make a change in the mess that wasn't going anywhere. He watned to make things better for the characters, and to do that he was going to need to confront the director of the hospital. We've not met yet other than in passing mention from Eva, the nurse--which was the one POV that was really working so far.

Then came the idea that we should go meet the Director before Father go there. Oh boy, this guy is off his rocker! I had no idea. But ooooooh is he fun to write. And now, I have conflict brewing that is much more immediate than my overall plot. Yes, yes, I think we might have something here after all.

Maybe. Until things dry up again and I have to drop more threats.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The slog

So how's NaNoWriMo year seven going for me, you ask?


Yep, that sums it up nicely (or not so nicely). I've never written such a wandering, inane mess of attempted scenes. Thankfully. I'll give myself the opportunity to write utter crap this one time because hey, gotta try everything once, right?

Maybe something will come of it--some scene that jumps out at me that could be turned into a short story or a novella. One thing is for sure, it's not going to end up anywhere near novel territory as far as a workable amount of coherent words.

So what the hell is going so wrong this year?

I had an idea. It seemed like a good one. I had a beginning point, a character, a setting, and knew where I had to end it. You have to understand, this is way more planning than I usually put into any NaNo novel so I thought I'd be way ahead of the game. It turns out, not so much.

Jackson, my intended MC didn't have the same fun personality to write as Joshua (from A Broken Race, of which this new story was supposed to be a prequel).

So I switched to Grace, whom I'd had no intention of using for POV character at all, but hell, Jackson wasn't working so why not, and there could be some love interest there...maybe? Grace worked for a while, but after she took three pages to eat a meal of crackers, I realized that she wasn't the key to breathing life into the story I'd intended to tell.

Let's try Jerry. No, didn't intend to POV him either, but he seemed to be working and he carried the story on for a good while after I'd ditched Grace. The words started to come. Oh hallelujah! But then he dried up. Crap.

Eva! Eva didn't even exisit in the story until Grace needed a direct antagonist. Eva was doing wonders for my lagging enthusiasm. Then a prompt to add an unexpected child came up. YES! Eva had a sick child, and this I could work with! Words happened. Story happened. We learned things. We even got a bigger antagonist to deal with. I was just about jumping for joy and then I wrote a really sad scene for poor Eva and I had to put her aside for a little while before she could feasibly take on the next part of the plot. Which meant I needed to write: "Time passes" or  jump POVs again.

Back to Jackson, Grace or Jerry? None of them enticed me, but the angry-on-the-inside-priest from Jackson's chapter did.  I was all excited about writing Father Frederick for a while but the story is dragging again.

Which is why we're back to: Blarg. It's just not clicking and I know this story not going to amount to much for all the slogging I'm forcing myself to do. However, it is getting the creative writing juices flowing again and I am carving out time to write from my otherwise over-filled day. I am accomplishing part of what I set out to do this month. So I'll give this story another 5k to shape up or not and if it doesn't, I'll fill my other 25k with one of my other countless projects that needs finishing or one of the short story prompts on the sidelines that needs starting.

So take that Novel-that-would-be, either click or get off my keyboard.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

So what is my NaNoWriMo 2012 Project?

It seems that during my blog visiting lull, I was tagged in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop thanks to Ian over at Views from a Bald Patch. I'm way behind on following through with this, but I'll share my November NaNo Novel for what it's worth.

Why say it like that? Because for the past few days I'd rather clean toilets than work on this project. However, yesterday afternoon, thanks to a POV character change and some odd challenges that I was presented with, things finally started falling into place a little.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Jackson - I often name a WIP after the MC until an actual title hits me.

2. Where did the idea come from for this book?
Critique partners who suggested they would like to know more about the past of A Broken Race.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
At this point, the very broad: Speculative Fiction

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I have honestly not given that any thought whatsoever.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Egads. I'm 5,440 words into this thing for heaven's sake. Uhhhhhh....
A virus culls the population until those considered flawed are the majority and now humanity must either attempt to regain their past glory or forge a new path into the unknown.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Let's just concentrate on completing the rough draft at this point, shall we?

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
30 days, ideally.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Can't think of anything similar off the top of my head, though I'm sure there's something out there that hasn't crossed my reading pile yet.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I think we covered that in #2

10. What else about your book might pique the readers interest?
Underdogs get control of humanity. That's got to bring some triumphant feeling with it.

Jackson is currenly eeking along at 5,440 words. Jackson and Grace, two young people are getting thrown into situations by all sorts of well-meaning 'normal' people that will shape them into the foundation for a new world...set in the old one that is rapidly falling apart thanks to lots of bloody deaths and odd challenges from my regional challenge jar.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Another story to be published

Happy news time! Children of the Trees, a short fantasy story, is to be published in the upcoming edition of Liquid Imagination. It's due out in November.

When Hemina's body and her tree dwelling people are attacked by a God in need of a phsyical form, she finds that her Goddess is missing and someone has to take up the slack.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

One of my four dragon eggs.
Unlike most NaNo participants, preparing for November has far less to do with outlines or creating characters than it does with filling the Kitten Jar with challenges, gathering RSVPs, sorting prizes and figuring out just when the hell I'm going to actually find time to write.

October is filled with "Things I put myself through" also known as Donning the Superwoman Cape. Things like:

Preparing of 312 Christmas craft kids for my daughters elementary school (because that certainly wasn't getting done in November). I am only doing half the school this year, so hey, that less thing is still working.

Filling goody bags, sorting prizes for all our big regional events and weekly write-ins, and finally getting around to filling out and dropping off the one donation form I pledged myself to.

Then there is the matter of spending some time with crafty-daughter who declared we needed to make dragon eggs. I'd forgotten how much of a pain in the cheeks it is to blow out eggs. So yes, we made dragon eggs and then the eggs needed nests, which meant a trip to the craft store because I was out of black rocks (and we needed black rocks, I guess). Hopefully this fills my mom and daughter craft quota for the upcoming month.

Running my kids to and fro with all their fall school activities. Taxi anyone?

Getting a couple of my stories that had dropped out of submisions back in into the juggling mix, the house decorated for Halloween and cleaned enough to tide me over for the month ahead with only a little general maintance.

And, of course, working, but thats a perpetual challenge these days.

I suppose I should read over the couple pages of the short that I'm intending on turning into this year's NaNoNovel, huh? Thankfully I still have a few days to squeeze that in.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nearing NaNoWriMo

October hit with the realization that November's noveling adventure is only 31 days away. I'd flee in terror except between the stress of work, a lingering cold and a two day migraine, well, I just don't have that kind of energy. Instead I'm sitting on the couch declaring that the Broken Race prequel is my chosen project and if that goes to hell at some point in the month, I'll fall back to pounding out short stories or filling in one of the missing middles of a past NaNo novel. Assuming there will be time to write, there's no lack for projects that could benefit from 50,000 words or any portion thereof.

Our regional forum is up and buzzing with energy. Details are being worked out for various events. Write-ins are filling our calendar. Raffles prizes are overflowing. So far, all is well in NaNoLand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


From my vacation to the Badlands: Even rock can show love.
Today is an odd day for me. My last grandparent has died, which leaves me a generation closer to old age and death. Only a few weeks from her 90th birthday, my Grandmother finally left this world. I say finally, because we all knew it was coming soon, even if she didn't. She didn't know much these last few years, but it didn't slow her down until the very end.

Dear Grandma wasn't the grandparent I begged to spend a week during the summer with every year. She didn't play, bake me cookies, or inspire me toward gardening or creative pursuits. She made just enough food for everyone present and not a morsel more. Though she had money, she didn't waste a penny on anything remotely frivolous. She greeted my crazy hair colors and clothing choices with nothing more than a slight eye roll and an exasperated 'oh heh'. That what all she had to say about most anything she didn't agree with. Oh heh.

She certainly wasn't the Grandma I considered fun. But she was always there. Dependable. When it came to taking me out shopping for birthdays she was there. She was always happy to provide a family Sunday dinner once or twice a month. And I always got a hug when I arrived and one when I left.

Most amazingly, though, as the years went by, the Grandmother than I'd always consider the kind, sweet, fun one grew sulky, angry and highly opinionated. Dependable Grandma, well, she stayed herself - smiling, hugging, and grateful for every visit even when she no longer had any idea who I was.

While I wouldn't mind being considered fun should I be fortunate enough to live into old age, what I truly hope to be is dependable.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Still alive and kicking

From my vacation: The Badlands 
Perhaps alive is exaggerating my zombie-like state. I'm mostly kicking with a little screaming now and then. Thanks to work, writing has ground to a standstill but ideas are percolating so at least progress is happening even if the words aren't being written down. Short stories are still fluttering about in submissions. Novels are getting sparkly new query letters. A synopsis for A Broken Race is in the percolator.

And NaNo prep, yes, that's all going on in the background too. Mostly the prep for the regional raffles and activities at this point, but story ideas are vying for attention as well. I'd like to get back into the true spirit of things with a fresh new novel dripping from my fingertips, but the prequel to A Broken Race is offering me chocolates. A few other past discarded projects are also sending me notes expressing their affection. I'm waiting for that one droolworthy idea that knocks me off my feet. Or expensive chocolates.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

All work and no writing makes writers twitchy

Apologies to my usual blog haunts. I have not had the freetime to hang out in my beloved internet. Blame work. I do.

While I love the ability to pay bills, the lack of writing time is really getting on my nerves. I pity the character who gets their wish to have me work on their story next. I have a good deal of pent up aggression to vent into words. People might get hurt. No, I'm kidding, they'll certainly get hurt. Hell, they'll probably get killed.

I could really use a good fight scene right now. In the mood I'm in, I wouldn't place bets on which side would win.

Mermaids might suddenly find the ocean dry pumped for a good scrubbing.

Samarah, you might find the middle is one bloody fight after another with no sex until the end, which as I recall, there wasn't much sex at the end. Your patience is hightly recommended.

Jackson, your story includes a lot of blood and gore. I don't think I could make that more depressing, bloody or gory than it already is, but hey, do you really want to challenge me on that?

Bruce, my dear knight, your story already doesn't end well for you, suffice it to say, the middle will likely not be any more pleasant. What with the excess body hair, the flock of godly sheep, and your empty-headed twit of a girlfriend...say what if she talked a lot, really loudly, until she drove you all into madness? I'm open to changing up the ending. What do you say?

Maribella, I'd recommend not making any demands right now. I'm much more in the mindset of your uncle at the moment.
You don't want me writing about babies right now, Marion. I guarantee it would be some deformed, demon-possessed creature dead set on bringing about the end of your world, and while it wouldn't provide much resolution, I'm inclined to let the baby win.

Which brings me to Vayen and the gang. Really? Do I need to even go there? You know what this mood is like first hand.

Deep cleansing breaths and all that. Ahem. Yeah.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I came home to a letter

I returned from my trip to Yellowstone late last night to find a note on my desk. In light of not having all my photos organized enough to post anything trip related, I figured I'd share the letter.

Dear She Who Taps the Keys,

We hope you are enjoying your time away from us. We stand here stunned. We don't have much choice, you see, because you left your laptop behind. You've left us for a long weekend, sure, but nine days? What were you thinking? What about all those great ideas you get when you're away from the computer? How are you supposed to apply them to our stories if you leave us behind?

Perhaps you don't fully understand our plights. Here, we'll lay them out for you so you can sit your butt on the couch, plug in your laptop and seriously consider making up for lost time.

Samarah would like to know what the hell happens in the middle of her story.

Jackson wonders what happened to his family (and the rest of the human race for that matter).

Bruce also wants to know what happens in the middle of Not Another Bard's Tale. What is it with you and skimping on middles anyway?

Maribella demands to know which young man (none of which she likes) she's going to marry. Her uncle suggests himself as he's quite content to run the kingdom. No really, he'd be happy to take that plot issue off your hands.

The mermaid is getting restless and is threatening to feed your toes to her new husband if you don't finish her story's revisions.

Marion is very depressed as you keep talking about fixing her story but never seem to get around to it. She may start stealing babies from other WIPs if you don't act soon.

Oh and Vayen and the gang are quite annoyed that you've set their third novel on the back burner. Are you sure it's wise to annoy them?

We hope you enjoyed your vacation. Don't plan on another any time in the near future.

Your Characters

Monday, August 6, 2012

Go ahead, freak me out.

From my pond: One of our many friendly frogs.
With now seven submissions bouncing around as they look for a home, opening email has become even more of a gut-wrenching, nail-biting, take-a-deep-breath-and-click daily trial. The odds of rejections, sometimes multiple per day are even more likely. Yes, rejections are part of the game and certainly to be expected, but that doesn't make getting email any more fun. Yet, masochist/writer that I am, I still find myself checking the darn inbox several times throughout the day. So feel free to mess with and write a comment. Nothing like seeing something in my inbox to make me freak out for just a split second.

I'll be maintaining blog silence (no new posts anyway) for the next two weeks while I take a road trip out to Yellowstone. Ah, the smell of sulfur, it refuels the creative juices. Or maybe those are churning stomach juices... Anyway, I'll be recharging all my juices and taking some photos to adorn future posts. It's been fifteen years since my last visit there so it will be fun to see what has changed along the way as we travel.

See you on the other side of silence.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Don't say no to the Panda.

I'm still buried under work and trying to finish a short story before the submission deadline. While I'm neck-deep in that...'s something completely different.

Can I just say, I love this Panda? I laughed so hard I was crying for the whole last two minutes. I had to watch it again. If I ever had to pick an animal that best represents me, this particular one would be it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All set to take over the world

...Now that my army of tiny NaNoBots is complete! Mwahahahaha

I really have to stop checking in on what the other NaNoWriMo MLs are up to, because it just leads to inspiration and that leads to projects that I really don't have time for. But they're fun!

They don't need to sleep. They just do. And do. And do. And some of them even smile about it.

So how does one go about raising an army of their own?

First, visit your local robot part outlet. Mine happened to be called Hobby Lobby.

You'll need two sizes of wooden blocks. I used 1 inch and 3/4 inch. There are smaller sizes, if you want really little bots, just keep in mind that you'll need to find hand and feet parts that are equally sized.

I picked dowel hole plugs for the head knobs, 1/8 dowels for the arms and legs, wooden balls for the hands and some little rounded dowel part for the feet.

I cut the dowels at 3/4 inch using a wire cutter. They snap off really easy. You will need to sand the cut edges to get a good base for the other parts to attach to.

Using hot glue (because I really didn't have time to sit around while stuff dried), I attached the head knobs on the smaller block and then glued the smaller block to the larger one.

Things got rather assembly line after that. Attach the arms to the hands and the legs to the feet.

Because I was doing thirteen of these (the max I could do with the pieces I had purchased), I assembled all the arms and legs before moving on.

The easiest way to assemble the feet is to set them both side by side and put a drop of glue on top of them. Set the block body on top of the feet and adjust as necessary until the bot stands up.

If the legs are mostly in the middle section of the block, it has a pretty good chance of standing on the first try. Making sure the legs are generally the same size would be a good idea too, if you're going for a uniform look. My army is a little haphazard. I'm okay with that.

Once my robots were assembled--all thirteen took about an hour from opening the supplies to figuring out the first one to gluing on the last leg.

Removing all the glue blobs and stringy bits would be a good idea at this point.

Then it's time to find some paint!

I could have opted for regular old acrylic paint, but I had this hammered silver spray paint in my closet and it begged to be used.

As you might notice in the pictures, some of my robots have different feet. I ran out of the nifty little bowl pieces. Boo! But, I had some craft sticks sitting around so I snapped off the rounded ends and darn it, they made cute feet too.

Behold my army of NaNoBots!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Percolator In Action

From my backyard: A cecropia moth visited our trampoline.
While I haven't had a change to write a darn thing lately, the time away from doing so has allowed my subconscious percolator to do its thing. Three things I've accomplished this week without physically accomplishing anything (writing related):

1. At long last, I've happened upon a title for the sequel to Trust. Now called: Chains of Gray. That only took several years...

2. I've discovered that I seem fond of two themes throughout several of my stories--which are otherwise unrelated. One is the color gray (or grey, as I prefer to see it) having some significance in various ways. The other is genetics - either the manipulation of, breaking down of or restrictions based upon them. It started with Trust, then went in another direction in A Broken Race and splintered into Devolution. Now its continuing on in the as yet untitled (Egads, yet another project to title. Let's hope that doesn't take years, shall we?) prequel to A Broken Race. Neither thing was intentional in its multiple manifestations. Giving the percolator time to wander through my stories while my body was busy allowed it to make these connections and point them out to me. At which point I profoundly said, "Huh. Weird."

3. I've had time to work on troubleshooting the aforementioned Devolution. That short story has been languishing in my 'rework' folder for well over a year. I've got the conflict down its just finding the right *bang* for the resolution that totally escapes me as of yet. It's not a twist kind of story and that might be what's tripping me up. At least this gives the percolator something to chew on while the rest of me is off in worker drone mode.

Have you noticed any unintentional repeating of things in your stories?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dragon myself through the week

From this side it looks angry.
It's been a crazy busy week. You'd think being down one kid (he's working at Boy Scout camp for two weeks) would make for a little extra time, but no. Work has continued to devour what would usually be my writing time. Which also is my critiquing time, so sadly, I've also fallen woefully behind there too. On the slightly brighter side, I have been able to devote some subconscious effort to percolating submission pieces for A Broken Race, which is nearly ready to head out into Queryland.

While I've been so busy, I have managed to carve out a little craft time with my daughter. She's been in a 'let's make dragons out of clay' mode lately. Who am I to argue? So I sat down with her and a ball of air dry clay and we made dragons.

At this angle its more friendly.
Admittedly, I made this dragon over a month ago (work has been at crazy level for quite awhile). I then moved it to the corner of my kitchen counter where stuff that sits around collects. I figured that if it sat there, I'd remember to make time to also sit with my daughter and paint it. Great intention.

It sat there for a week and got hit with some random something that I set on the counter. One wing, a foot and several back spines fell off. I swore. Profusely. Then I got my glue gun out and fixed it.

I moved my repaired and still unpainted dragon to my desk in an 'out of the way' place so it would be safe until I got around to painting it. While it was in this safe place, it seems that I managed to smash it with a tape gun in a flurry of shipping packages for work. All that stuff that broke before, fell off again. Only this time, the wing shattered. Again, I swore profusely. I didn't fix it.

The poor dragon and its broken bits sat in a pile of clay dust for several weeks. You might say it was daring me to fix it and I was ignoring it because I was still pissed that I'd broken it again before I had made time to paint the darn thing.

Finally, after a late dinner, I hauled out my box of paints and my glue gun. The dragon got fixed. Again. It also got a base coat. Then it sat on the table for two days until I stepped away from another twelve hour day and a late dinner to begin the brain numbing process of painting scales. Four days later, its finally done.

The dragon has now been placed in an actual safe place. And if fate has it's way with the dragon again, at least I have these photos.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Getting away from it all

From my pond: Suicidal stag beetles.
For the record, they suck at swimming,
but keep coming into the pond anyway. 
The juggling of submissions is still going on, as is an overwhelming work load. So what do I do? Leave.

I planned to be gone for most of four days, but only manged three thanks to the insane heat and deer flies. I hate deer flies. I hate mosquitoes too, but together, they are a force I'd rather not reckon with. So yes, my answer to the near triple digit heat and bugs? Leave.

It wasn't all bad though. I did get to relax a little. I swam a lot in a gorgeous little spring-fed lake. And I sweated. A lot. Probably lost a few pounds. The night sky was beautifully black as opposed to home with all the city lights interfering. And there was much reminiscing.

I hadn't been to that campground since 1989, the last year we went camping as a family when I still lived at home. After my mother's sudden death, all family camping ground to a halt. It was sad but fun to go back to visit a place where we'd all relaxed together. Now my own family has been there too. It was a peaceful sort of reclaiming happy memories, part of my ongoing twenty-three year and counting search for closure sort of thing.

Now that the camping supplies are put back in order and stored away until next month, laundry is done and the house is relatively cleaned, it's time to get back into the swing of things.

Sort of.

I'm still counting today as being on vacation. Which means I'm working as little as possible. I'm not editing. I'm not designing and I'm certainly not producing anything. I have answered all my emails and I did finally manage to read Steven Brust's Dragon this weekend. That's only been sitting in my TBR pile for a year now, along with far too many other books. Oh, free time, how I miss you. I enjoyed hanging out with Vlad again. It's been years, and he's one of my favorite characters to read.

Tomorrow, I'll get back to work, but today, darn it, I'm relaxing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Camp, edits and balls

Trala runs screaming through the paper-lined paths. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

"What the heck are you talking about?" Delilah asks, peering upward. "Holy crap. She's right. Run!"

Nekar stands his ground beside Ms. Wildstar. They both watch as a wad of cloth plummets to the floor. Nekar gives it a minute to settle before examining it closer.

"Why the mass of terrycloth?" asks Blue.

Ms. Wildstar shakes her head. "It's a towel."

Nekar extracts a crumbled post-it note from within the wad and straightens it. "She Who Taps the Keys has officially thrown in the the towel on Camp NaNo." 

Delilah creeps out from the paper wads. "She finished?"

Blue holds up his translator. "Perhaps you should get one of these." He sighs. "It's a phrase meaning-"

"What's on the post-it note?" asks Ms. Wildstar.

"Story titles." A steady whump, whump, whump sounds overhead.

Trala takes another hysterical lap. "The sky! It's falling!"

Blue snakes out a tentacle and trips her. He whistles to himself as he backs away. 

"Is she submitting again?"

"Five stories at once. Hence the juggling. If you hear any hint of swearing. Do run. Worse than the sky, balls will fall on your head."

Ms. Wildstar nods. "That explains the editing snow of random words that fell thickly over the weekend." 

Nekar reaches over to pluck a shred of paper from her hair. "Hey, you got a nod on you."

"Oh god, get it off!" She shudders. "They were everywhere! I thought I'd burned them all."

"We should make sure there aren't any more laying around. The damn things breed like dust bunnies." Nekar leads Ms. Wildstar into the pathways.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Still working on that New Year's Resolution

Back in those last few minutes of 2011, I pledged that this year I would embrace the word Less. I am pleased to announce another milestone in my efforts toward that end. This weekend I wrapped up my four year stint as a Girl Scout leader.
While there were some proud moments during those years, I can't say that this is something I'm going to miss terribly. It was something I let myself get roped into for my shy daughter's sake, and because I thought I could bring something to the program that our troop was missing - namely a craft lady and organization.

We've decorated and tool aprons,assembled hygiene kits, and this year, made blankets for a local women's support organization. We've made cards for service people and place mats for the elderly. We earned bunches of badges, sold car loads of cookies and went on some fun end of the year reward trips together. We hung out at a big mall and made Girl Scout build-a-bears. We went to a big water park where some of the girls had their first big night away from home in a pretty awesome hotel. We went camping, which many of our girls had never done. This year we went to a smaller water park and also went horseback riding, which, again, many of our girls had never done. We went roller skating and bowling discovered local art museums, pet stores, parks and countless other field trip locations.

These girls all went into this as girls who went to school together, but came out as friends. There were even some unlikely exchanges of phone numbers and promises of hanging out over the summer happening on the way home yesterday. I hope they follow through and look fondly on all the pictures they took together in the coming years.
Both of us current leaders are passing the torch to a new pair of brave souls. I wish the new leaders luck and patience.

Why wouldn't I miss what seems so sound rather like a warm-fuzzy-fest from this post?

No more pressure to attend the monthly leader meetings and no more planning meetings cramming into the frantic end of summer. Two less after school troop meetings a month - which also means no more last minute phone calls of:
- Did you get snack or do I have to?
- OMG! Do we have paperwork from everyone for this field trip today?
- I'm so far behind at work, I'm going to be late. Oh crap, you're going to be late too? Ahhh!

No more:
- Wading through piles of emails from the local leadership
- Feeling guilty that I couldn't squeeze more of the fun local opportunities for the girls into my schedule
- Filling out troop paperwork
- Having to run to the store to get last minute craft supplies for projects I didn't have time to set up because of work.
- Having to call thirteen parents to remind them of what their daughters need to bring to our next event.
- Composing last minute notes to send home to try to avoid those thirteen phone calls before an event.
- Waiting for twenty minutes at the end of every meeting for the same two parents who never remember to pick up their kids even though our meeting gets done at the same time every time.
- Dealing with other leader drama from the other troop at our school.

Yes it was fun, but it was a lot of work too. And so, with fond memories intact, I will undo a knot from my superwoman cape, allowing a little more neck room, and walk a few feet closer to the sunset.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back to the Positive Side

The last thing I expected to see when I
looked out my second story window was a
groundhog staring back at me.
True Story.
It's been a busy week around here. The Family has been talked to about their dog. It seems the frolicking Great Dane wandering my yard was the perfect excuse to haul myself over there to speak to them. All is as good as it will get for now. Maggie is no longer left out for the entire day. So hooray on that front.

Someone got into my car Monday night and stole all of the cash out of my purse and all of the coins out of my daughter's purse (that I hadn't even realized she'd left in my car) thanks to us forgetting to shut the garage door overnight. *waves goodbye to hard-earned money and gestures to the thieving little punks that took it*

The charger for my laptop decided this would be a great week to die--thus completing the trifecta of suck. Good thing I have several other computers around here to fall back on in such emergencies. The new charger arrived yesterday so I'm back in business...and on the couch.

On a better note, I've got my summer family vacation all planned out. We're road-tripping to Yellowstone. Buffaloes and bears beware!

Camp NaNo has mostly been an utter failure on the actual writing front, but hey, I have been motivated to get last month's shorts into the jaws of critiquers, stories polished and suitable markets sought out for submissions.

Next week promises to be slightly better for writing as I won't have child transportation duties smack in the middle of my prime writing time. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The dog saga continues

First I'd like to say that dear Maggie hasn't been on her front yard tether in two days for more than a couple hours at a time. So yay for that. Oh, and they've mowed. Woohoo!

In other events, I received an irate letter from the family today in the mail. Obviously Mr. Officer did absolutely nothing to attempt to cover events. AND he managed to get almost everything I said on the phone and to him in person wrong. Holy crap, is it really that hard? I swear I wasn't speaking in code or practicing my Klingon.

The dog is tied up outside for eight to ten hours a day with no shelter other than a tree. Her water bucket is tipped over every day so she has no water other than when they first put her outside (which I can't attest to because it's tipped over by the time I get up and see her outside) - and one day, no bucket at all. They come and go, but never check her bucket, even when it's plainly tipped over. The dog doesn't like being in the front yard, looks abused and shows major anxiety anytime someone walks down the street - which happens all the time.

So I get a letter explaining that Maggie eats five meals at day and is not underfed. If they leave food outside for her, she could get worms. The water bucket is there every day. It's behind the tree so it must be that I can't see it. So they'll put the bucket in front of the tree in plain sight for me. My dog is outside all the time and they don't know if it has water or food but they don't call the police on me. I should have just come over and talked to them or at least checked the situation for myself rather than calling the police right away.

Holy headdesk batman. I've gone over to try to talk to them about their dogs many times over the years. They don't answer the freakin door. I'm the one who has chased their dogs (sometimes three times a day) around my yard and put them back in their fenced in (albeit with broken slats) back yard - because Mr. Family, who is home during the day, is sleeping and doesn't answer his door. Ever wrangle a frolicking Great Dane who's bored and wants to play? It's gobs of fun, I tell you. I went over and gave their dog water for goodness sake.

My dog is out either with me or for less than half an hour at a time on his tether - which is not in the front yard and he has access to the door to let me know when he wants to come in and, yes, he has water both inside and out. That wasn't the point at all. The point was leaving the dog out all damn day with no water or shelter where she could feel calm and safe. But apparently that's really hard to convey so now I'll have to do that myself or just live with having irate neighbors that I already don't speak to.

There are days I really don't like people. This is one of those days.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Animal Control Fail

We interupt my frantic day and my stress over not having written anything in two days to bring you a rant on Animal Control and Stupidity.

There was a family who lived in a house with three dogs. A big dog, a medium dog, and a little dog. This family loved their newest big dog and didn't much care for the medium dog. They didn't care much for the little dog either, but this story is about the medium dog, we'll call her Maggie.

Maggie used to bark and howl and annoy the entire neighborhood until the family invested in a shock collar. The neighborhood was happy. The family was happy. Maggie wasn't so happy. In fact, Maggie acted like she'd been severely beaten and was extrememly aggitated anytime someone came near her- not violent, but very scared.

For whatever reason the family chose this week, they decided the front yard was a good place for Maggie. Not the backyard that's fenced in where the three dogs are usually kept. No sir, a tether on a tree in the middle of the yard. There, Maggie spent her day pacing silently, around and around the tree, backing away as far as her tether would allow any time someone walked down the street.

They neglected to give her water the first day. The second day they put out a black bucked in the nice warm sunshine for her to drink from. The third day, the bucket was knocked over from the night before so she had no water (though a neighbor brought her some). The fourth day, the bucket was back. The fifth day, a nice 84 degree day, nope, no water to be found.

The family tied Maggie outside at 8am and brought her in around 7pm every day. Other than those times, they ignored her completely. Even though she stood right next to the driveway where they came and went throughout the day, they didn't even bother to look her way.

A neighbor finally called animal control, explaining to the nice dispatch lady that this animal was being neglected, that it was hot and she had no water, that for a change, the family was home all day but still no one had come out to attend to Maggie in any manner. Other than the tree she was tethered to, Maggie had no shelter. Had a storm come while the family was gone all day (as they usually were), poor Maggie would be screwed. The neighbor explained that she wasn't on speaking terms with the family because they very rarely answered their door and they didn't treat their kids much better than Maggie (but that's another rant). As such, the neighbor would appreciate if the animal control officer could visit the family and inform them how to be decent people responsible pet owners. And no, please do not stop over afterwards and tell me how it went (who really wants this? Anyone? really?) If they felt they must call to explain how the issue was resolved, that would be fine.

And so it came to pass (five more hours with no water later), that the animal control officer drove down the street. Did he pull in to see the family with Maggie PLAINLY tied up fifteen feet away from the street right in the freakin middle of the yard? Oh no. He pulled in to ask the neighbor if she had a dog that she kept tied out all day. *headdeskfacepalmflailingfail*

Meanwhile, the family wrenched back their curtains and peered through their filthy, crayon-scribbled windows, across their foot and a half high lawn (except the circle that Maggie has trampled down), at the animal control officer talking with the neighbor. Subtle much (for everyone involved)?

Redirected (and seemingly not having consulted any of the information that the nice dispatch lady had taken), he drove the ten feet across the street and went to talk with the family. They didn't even bother to come outside, they spoke through a screen door. The animal control officer left a couple minutes later.

The result: Maggie is still outside on her tether without water (an hour after he's left) and it's pretty obvious to the family which neighbor called animal control on them.

Thank you, officer. You have been so damn helpful.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Crazy Cometh

From my yard: Sunbathing squirrel
"Nothing to see here. I'm just a shingle.
Move along."
"What is that tapping sound?" asks Ms. Wildstar.

Nekar cocks his head and listens. "I'd call it more of a banging."

Blue checks his shiny new translator and jabs a tentacle upward. "I'm getting a distinct Kablam Kablam Kablam."

"I'm pretty sure that's not a word," says Nekar.

"It might be. You don't know them all," says Ms. Wildstar.

"I've been keeping an inventory of everything that's fallen down here since I arrived. I've yet to see that one."

Blue rubs his bulbous head. "Please don't imply that this translator is also malfunctioning."

Ms. Wildstar gasps. "No. It can't be." She shrieks. "Oh great word processor save us! She's dancing with that nano zombie--remember that cute boy? Tyler, I think his name was. Didn't one of you take care of him, Nekar?"

"I thought we did."

Blue accesses his database unit. "Did you burn it? According to your all-knowing wiki-"

"We don't get access to wiki down here. That's for She Who Taps The Keys. But hey, what else does the all-knowing wiki say?"

"Nothing." Blue hides his database unit behind his back. "I must remember to keep my advanced knowledge from the locals. It causes nothing but problems. Rule one, Blue. Must remember these things." He slinks away.

Nekar watches Blue leave and scratches his chin. "What is going on on up there?"

"I think She Who Taps The Keys has lost her mind."

"Are those bruises on her forehead?"

Ms. Wildstar peers through a pair of binoculars. "It sure looks like it."

"Where the hell did you get those?"

"I uhh...found them." Ms. Wildstar darts into the mountains of crumpled paper.

"Will someone please tell me what is going on around here?" Nekar yells.

A post-it note flutters to the ground at his feet. June. Camp NaNo.

Friday, June 1, 2012

On your mark, get set, June!

Camp NaNo has arrived. I spent my first day working. Not even working on my computer where I could sneak in a lunch break of writing, but out doing vinyl installations. When I finally got back home after enough errands to make me dizzy, I still had to work until 10pm to catch up (sort of) from being out of the shop all day. So what do I do when I finally get time to write? Yeah, I create a regional camp logo because my work brain wouldn't shut off.

So what am I writing this month? Well, I fully admit I never intended to embark on a new novel. Instead, I plan on reaching my 50k by writing whatever project I'm working on that day. I know I can write a novel in a month. What I need to do is clean up some projects and finish them. So yes, I'm pretty much bending this challenge to my needs. I need to make time to write. That's the challenge.

First up is rewriting a couple opening chapters of Trust - the motivation hammer and the percolator aligned in a way that made the angels sing. Or maybe that was just my ears ringing... Either way, I've found a way to fix some issues I've been told where there and I knew were there, but I couldn't see around my baby to do what had to be done.

After Trust, the plan is to open the dusty file of Swan Queen and see if I can't find out where the hell that story was going. It needs the last third written and the rest needs revising. The poor novel is several years old and I don't know about you, but my writing style significantly changes over the years.

That should be enough to keep me busy for the month but if I hit a rough patch, the percolator is working on a short story set pre-A Broken Race, and I have a couple other short story starts from May and a failed YA short from two years ago that's been knocking at my creative doors with the invitation to get dark. I might have to RSVP to that.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May writing challenge summary

Blooming in my yard today: Sweet William 
So what did I get out of this crazy A Story A Day In May challenge? Aside from the stress of realizing there was no way in hell I could work long days AND come up with a story idea AND write it to completion every day, I managed to birth five short stories I'm pretty darn happy with, one so-so story and five starts that either I ran out of time to work on this month or didn't go anywhere. My percolator also got quite a workout.

Was it worth trying? Yes. I wrote more than I would have if I hadn't roped myself into participating because I felt I had to write because I said I would no matter how darn busy I was.

Would I do it again? Perhaps. But only if I went into it prepared with my own prompts/ideas for each day I planned to write (you don't have to write every day and I had at least intended to take Sundays off). The provided prompts didn't work for me / didn't inspire me / sounded like things I would normally avoid writing or complain about in a critique. I'd hoped to work with at least a couple of the provided prompts but not a single one lit a creative spark. Perhaps my spark is just fickle - it was certainly lacking in fuel even on a good day.

So what did I end up using for prompts?
Tickle and A Little Thing Like Death came from upcoming magazine prompts.
Sunset Cruise was inspired by my recent reading of Friedman's Fables.
Taking a Breather was inspired by a 100 word story I wrote a year ago. Though, it completely twisted from what I set out to write. I love when that happens.
Found came straight from the percolator. I sat down. Words came out. And as a bonus, they made sense! It's pretty awesome when that happens too.

Tune in during June to follow my trials and triumphs of participating in Camp NaNo. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Writing Challenge: Week 4

Before we get to the weekly update of shame, I'd like to take a moment to thank Ian over at Views From The Bald Patch for the Kreativ Blogger award. The discarded gang thanks you too (and Blue promises not to eat you).

According to the Kreativ Blogger rules, I need to:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated me for the award, and provide a link back to their blog.
2. List 7 things about myself that the readers might find interesting.
3. Tag 7 other bloggers, providing links to their blogs, and letting them know.

Seven things about me that you may find interesting:

1. My favorite flower is the Iris. They smell soooo good. Here are some of my favorites from my yard.

2. I got married in my garage. On Halloween. Our big costume party reception (also in the garage with a huge tent attached) was a riot. As a bonus, one forgets our anniversary.

3. My favorite hair color is blue. The problem is that it stains everything that it touches so I've not been blue for a while now. There's just to much cleaning involved after the dyeing takes place.

4. I can't watch other people brush their teeth. No sir. It grosses me out to no end. When there are teeth brushing scenes in movies or on tv, I'll look away until it's over. Like people who get all squeamish shots or gore, that's me with foaming toothpaste.

5. As a kid, I grew up processing deer. Hey, I live in Michigan. Deer season is holy around here. Not being a hunter, I took care of the other end - the skinning, sawing, cutting, grinding. I spent most of my elementary through high school years hoping that I'd washed all the blood off my hands and arms before I went to school. In fourth grade, I took a brain to school in a cool whip container for show and tell. No one would touch it. Wusses.

6. I have OCD-like issues with necklace clasps and tags. It gets worse when I'm drinking because that cancels out my introverted tendencies and propels me across the bar to fix any stranger's offending tag or clasp I spot. Not fixing it and knowing it's there makes me so damn uncomfortable and distracted that its just easier to go take care of it. However, after my friends caught on to my 'I'm just going to go talk to that person over there for a minute' issue, they started flipping their tags out and wearing their necklaces backwards just to bug me. Since then, I've gotten better about controlling my urges-mostly just to spite them.

7. My favorite color is grey. It used to be black but as I grew older, my favoritism faded. As a side note, spelling it gray drives me nuts. Yes, I know that's the proper way to spell it in the US, but I work with color all day and in everything I do, it's spelled grey, so darn it, that's how I spell it. Don't correct me.

Rather than specifically tagging people, I offer up a free invitation to my regular blog readers. Consider yourself tagged. No go forth and share seven interesting bits about yourself!

And now, onto the topic of shame:
A Story A Day In May update:

May 21: Didn't get any writing of note done at all.

May 22: Wavered on quitting this crazy challenge all together and worked on finishing up the first round of edits on A Broken Race. Damn that feels good to have it all sitting pretty on its second draft.

May 23: Ripped the lid off the percolator and pulled out a story idea from last week. Wrote and finished: Found - a 2,800 word short story about a little boy and hiding.

As much as I'm not fulfilling this challenge very well, I do love the feeling of writing a complete story and calling it done in a day--not counting percolating time, of course. At least I'm coming out of it with more written than I otherwise would have made time for during this insanely busy month.

May 27: Oh hey, surprise, thanks to working long hours, I haven't written anything in days. Unless an awesome idea hits me, I'm now going to devote my scattered energy and precious few minutes of writing time toward preparing for Camp NaNo which begins in four days.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May Writing Challenge - Week 3

A Story A Day In May update:
(a daily log of  victory and shame)

May 14: Took a break from writing today (or trying to write) and finally read Hunger Games. All of it. Today. Because that's how I read (devour) books. I was very disappointed in the ending. I hate 'buy the next book to continue the story' endings. A story should end, leaving me the choice to continue on with what happens next or not.

I don't usually read YA, but I'm percolating my June Camp NaNo project--which is to revise (and write in the last half and ending of) an attempt at a YA fantasy. I figured getting in the YA mode of thought might help get the ideas flowing. Overall, I liked Hunger Games. It was an easy, enjoyable read and had some touching moments. However, I kept waiting for something really drastic or unexpected to happen but it never did. Maybe this says something about me when twenty-two kids dying horrible deaths inflicted by one another just isn't drastic enough to wow me.

May 15: Yanked last week's failed story from the percolator. Got the first couple hundred words down and realized it still has no goal. It is slightly more funny though so hey, that's something. I shoved it back in the percolator. Worked on catching up on crits and revising A Broken Race instead.

May 16: Got a good idea for a story but beyond the opening line, didn't get time to write it down. Maybe tomorrow. On the other hand, I did get some more revisions of A Broken race completed.

May 17: Wrote opening scene for as of yet untitled story and have the rest all laid out in my head. I'm liking this one--it's inspired by a failed short I wrote during NaNo two years ago. Spent the rest of the day prepping for annual garage sale.

May 18: Ran annual garage sale singlehandedly AND worked then volunteered for four hours at night at school for PTO event. No writing.

May 19: Garage sale all day AGAIN and cleanup. Worked on the ending of story from the 17th in my head, though I didn't get a chance to write any more of it down on account of crashing, exhausted and with a migraine into bed at 8:30pm.

May 20: With the garage sale done I was really looking forward to a day of writing after my busy week. I curled up with my laptop, got yet another idea for a short that brought together several ideas I'd had floating around for quite some time and started writing. Damn that felt good! That is, until my husband reminded me that we had agreed to spend the day at our property picking up the thousands of sticks from over the winter. (insert excessive amounts of internal swearing.)

In summary: This week sucked for writing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May Writing Challenge: Week 2

A Story A Day In May update:
(a daily log of  victory and shame)

May 10: Too damn busy.

May 11: Total percolator fail. Planted flowers outside instead.

May 12: Tickle - a 1230 word story about a stalker alien. I rather like this one.

May 13: Sunday is my day off of writing - but I did percolate a little so we'll see what Monday brings.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May Writing Challenge - Update 2

A Story A Day In May update:
(a daily log of  victory and shame)

May 7: Taking a Breather - 1850 words - A very dark attempt at a mermaid story. This one was loosely inspired by a 100 word sentence story I wrote a year ago. It needs some work, but I'm fairly happy with how the story turned out.

May 8: Here's a short story about why I didn't get time to write: I woke up at 4am with an allergy attack and got back to sleep at 6:30, half an hour before I had to get up. After seeing the kids off, I worked like a maniac. At noon, I ran to pick up one child from school for both of our dentist appointments. Then brought said child home to eat lunch while I worked, then dropped child back at school. I finally had time to eat lunch. Then more work, but I ran out of time to drop off orders for shipping. Dropped off Girl Scout snacks at school, then dropped off shipments. Ran back to school. Loaded up car with Girl Scouts and went on a field trip. Came back to school. (Noticing a central school theme for the day?) Got rid of all kids but mine. Dropped that kid off at home and drove to other kid's track meet. Met other Girl Scout leader there to exchange paperwork and watched the half of the track meet I hadn't missed because I was late thanks to the field trip. Ran home with track kid. Made dinner and shoveled food in my face. Drove to a Girl Scout leader meeting. Sat through an hour of women blathering to get my needed paperwork exchanged / picked up / stuff for the girls. Drove home. Talked on the phone for an hour with the other Girl Scout leader who couldn't make the meeting. Then I dealt with Boy Scout emails from people who had three weeks to order shirts for their boys, but didn't and now want to know if they can have them tomorrow. (Um no.) And now my zombie ass is sitting on the couch staring off into space. Not the kind of staring that means plotting, but the drool from the corner of the mouth kind. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

May 9: Document 9: The percolater coughed up a little something. I put in sci-fi, it came out fantasy. I asked for comedy, it came out depressing. I wiped it up with a tissue and put it back in the percolator. Moving on.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May writing challenge: Week 1

A Story A Day In May update:
(a daily log of  victory and shame)

May 1: Mary's Garden - 870 words of literary something I'm rating just above 'Meh'. I blame my hurried and lackluster effort an a hectic day topped with horrible allergies. But hey, it's got a beginning, middle and end so I'm calling it a success on that front.

May 2: Total  fail. There's something about two volunteer projects and an eleven hour workday that isn't conducive to writing a darn thing. Though I did find a prompt I'd meant to work on a month ago and put it in the percolator.

May 3: Total fail. See above.

May 4: A Little Thing Like Death - 1,840 word futuristic love story. The percolator paid off! The ending came to me last night. Loving it (as of finishing it five minutes ago).

May 5: Document 7 (untitled as of yet): 500 word beginning of sci-fi humor that just isn't clicking. It's been in the percolator for weeks but it's coming out strained. I'm going to let this one percolate for a few more hours and see if it goes somewhere in my head rather than wasting my morning with banging my head on the keyboard.

Sadly this means I'm pulling in my pre-May story, Sunset Cruise to bring my first week total to:
2 good stories
2 meh
2 fail
I'm taking Sunday off. I have a hangover on my calendar for May 6 (and a volunteer obligation later in the day), so unless the percolator hits me hard, there will be no writing.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The story ideas, they're attacking!

So I signed up for this writing challenge in May - 31 stories. Short stories. The only stipulation is that no matter what the length, they must be a finished story (finished = beginning, middle, end). But the ideas! They're haunting me early! It's like someone turned on the faucet, and I don't have the right wrench to turn it back off.

Let's just hope the creative flow stays running once May hits.

I woke up with an idea. One of those ideas that won't shut up. Ever have one of those? I get them from time to time and generally, those are the stories that end up working. This one just sat there screaming at me until I got out of bed, opened my laptop and started writing.

The weird thing was, this is the not the sort of thing I usually write. In fact, I've never written plain old general fiction before. I'm a genre kind of girl. It blame it on the fact that I'm currently working my way through (meaning it sits in my car and I read when I'm waiting to pick up my son from track) Friedman's Fables. Which also isn't the kind of book I'd normally pick up, but there were slim pickings in the sections where I pick up books for my NaNo writing group prizes and it seemed like something anyone could get something out of. For the record, it is exactly that.

It's April 28, and I've just given birth to an 1,800 word short story called Sunset Cruise that I'm in love with (for at least today). For the record, I'm holding this in reserve as one of my 31 stories in case I miss a day because darn it, I wouldn't have even had this 'problem' if the challenge hadn't nudged my creative faucet.

Update: Two other ideas are knocking at the door. I'm fending them off for now. Hopefully they'll gather some backup and mob me tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2012

May Challenge: I should be committed

Whether that be committed to writing or in the psychological sense, you be the judge.

It's nearly May. It's not near November. It's not even near June when I plan on doing Camp Nano (Because, yes, I am insane, thank you for asking.) But I'm nearing the end of edits on A Broken Race, and I'm not ready to dive into another novel project until I get this one wrapped up - which means a synopsis and query head banging session is in my near future. That leaves me with finding something writerly to occupy my time while my percolator finishes a few things and the last two chapters go through critiques.

This is where the evil little mention of 'hey there's this writing challenge in May' comes in. No, no I really shouldn't. But darn it, the seed is planted! Enter: A Story a Day in May. Witty name, isn't it? What is it? Exactly that. One short story each day in May. (Or the days you commit to.) I haven't done flash fiction in a while, so I'm thinking that's my goal. Short and simple, one a day. I can do that, and who knows, maybe one of those shorts will blossom into something larger later on - like in November and I actually am totally committed to writing.

Will I hang out on their website? Probably not, I have enough distractions in my life, but I have signed up and I will be writing. Care to join me? *cough* Fred? *cough*

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weaving a novel

My favorite part of editing came upon me yesterday. That moment in working on a novel that the light bulb stops flickering and stays lit. The point where my percolater goes *bing* and the questions I've been pondering are suddenly answered. I want nothing more than to curl up with my laptop and connect all the dots that I've just seen before I forget the knowledge my subconscious has just bestowed upon me.

For me, writing a novel is much like weaving fabric. I start with thread. Some of it is pretty crappy quality but I weave it in anyway because I don't have enough of the good stuff to make the design I see in my head. The thread knots. It breaks a few times, so I tie it back together. Occasionally I even use the wrong color. Hey, I never said my rough drafts were pretty to look at.

Once the fabric is done, I take it off the loom and watch in horror as one side pulls all crooked because I wove that section too tight and another section has huge gaps because I wove it too loosely. I spend weeks pulling out the crappy thread, inserting good thread, and adjusting the weave until it looks uniform. But when I show my cloth to other people, they point at the knots and the spots where the pattern doesn't quite line up. I spend a few more weeks fixing everything until surely it must be just right.

And somewhere in there it hits me--the point where I see that the pattern is much more intricate than I'd first thought. And I know just what to add to create it! Who knows, I might even add a few sequins for a little sparkle. (In this case, they were black sequins--the sparkle was quite dark.)

I've still got a little embellishing to do, but I'm liking what I see. What does your moment when all the threads fall into place feel like?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Playing along with Lucky 7

No, I wasn't tagged, but I was intrigued. And really, what better way to tune out not one, but two mother freaking robins now pelting my window, than by scrolling through my WIP to see if it passes the Lucky 7 test?

Bird lover disclaimer: These birds have covered my deck railing in bird poo because they sit there all day between attacking my window and sitting in the tree ten feet away when I bang on the window. I put big white clings on the outside of my window. I put a huge freaking hawk cling on my window. I even taped a 3ft by 4ft piece of paper to the outside of my window (which blocks a lot of my needed natural lighting, I'll have you know) and still, the stupid robins are hurling themselves at the very edges, were a one inch strip of window is still there. (Hey, I need some sunlight, all right?) What the hell, you stupid, poopy robins? What the hell?

So this Lucky 7 thing is to see if your WIP holds up to the 'is this interesting all the way through test'. Something should be happening on every page. The rules to the Lucky Seven are as follows:
*Open the document for your current MS/WIP
*Go to page 7 or to page 77
*Go to line 7
*Copy the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them exactly as they are written. No changing or cheating!

Here is the designated excerpt:

He felt her neck. Dead. A perfectly good breeder, dead. Dread took hold of him. “Did Jack kill her or you? What happened here?”

The Simple backed away. He shook his head, but didn’t utter a word.

Nothing better than a body to spice things up! If you feel like playing along, consider yourself tagged.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Banging your head on the window

As I type there is a Robin banging itself against my picture window. Repeatedly. I rather feel like this Robin.

I spent the majority of my Easter plunking away at chapter twelve of A Broken Race. Yes, it was fully written and all, but I didn't like it. It had repeated information and seemed to be missing some vital connection points between Chapter nine and fourteen. So I added them in. Ta Da! All fixed!

Oh hell. The previously 3,500 word chapter is now 7,000 words?!? *insert Robin body slamming the window*

And there's no tension at all? *more Robin*

But we need the connection bits or the story gets lost between point A and B. Sigh. *insert sleeping on it*

All my pretty pastel Easter words are getting flushed. I just spent the last two hours of my morning reworking the first half of the chapter to add some tension and severely reduce the word count. Thank you Robin, for understanding my frustration. Oh, and it's your reflection, you idiot! Quit doing that!

I'm off to hang something on the window and contemplate the second half of chapter twelve. I hope your day is less frustrating than mine and Robin's.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fools, Writing and Eggs

Being April first I feel like I should have come up with some fantastical fib to attempt to fool everyone with, but I decided to spent my creative energies elsewhere. Instead I've spent yesterday and today catching up on edits for the previous three chapters of A Broken Race. Yeah, probably time better spent, but a fib would have been fun too.

Only five more chapters to run through the critique mill before A Broken Race gets fully spit back into my hands. So far so good with only a few minor noted hiccups. I know, I've just cursed myself, but I am truly happy with the feedback so far - especially from those who have caught some staging slip ups on my part.

In other creative news, it seems my Easter egg project post has been selected as a finalist in the Easter Craft Challenge hosted by Happy Hour Projects and Here Comes the Sun. I feel I've already won by having this project done weeks ahead of time (rather than next Saturday when I would have realized I didn't even have the Easter decor out yet.) So thank you to the lovely hosts of this challenge for getting me thinking about Easter much earlier (on time) this year. If you'd like to stop by and check out all the finalists and cast your votes, here's the link.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A sprinkle in the well

While my creative well still need a few days of torrential rain to get anywhere close to capacity, things are looking up. I spent the morning (when I should have been working) putting the finishing touches on one of the shorts that has been glaring at me and started in on the other. At least I feel like I've accomplished a little something on the writing front.

Now I just need to get to last week's chapter edits. Oh, and that work I put off this morning. Bad me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My creative well runneth dry

It's been a hectic couple weeks around here. I've not done any writing beyond editing A Broken Race. The Percolator is giving me glimpses at how to cut Trust's word count before it tries another foray into queryland. Healer is glaring at me. No one likes short stories glaring at them. Especially kinda creepy ones. I'd intended to have that one revised and back out in submissions but that just hasn't happened. Children of the Leaves is looking like its about ready to gang up with Healer any minute.

I should probably keep Blue close while I'm sleeping. He's be happy to eat anything at this point. His translator is still in the shop. Poor guy...err...umm...male alien?

So what the heck is keeping me from writing? Workity freaking work work.

The not-quite-but-sorta-in-this-case problem is that I have a fulfilling creative day job. (Which has also become an evening job recently). Thanks to a somewhat overwhelming workload, my creative juices are being sucked dry. By the time I collapse in front of my writing computer, I'm running on fumes. Keeping up with edits is all I can manage at the moment, and I'm a week behind the critiques that are coming in so 'keeping up' is a relative term.

On the plus side, bills are getting paid and we're planning a vacation this summer. Let's just hope the Percolator doesn't explode before things mellow out a little around here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eggs, Spring and yet another creative distraction

Mother Nature decided to make spring come to Michigan during spring for once. It's kind of crazy, because in all my years this has never happened. We might not have snow, but it's still cold and usually raining.

With the first day of Spring coming in just three days, we're (vastly) enjoying temperatures in the upper seventies. I've even cleaned out a few of the more protected flower beds close to the house (because this IS Michigan and for all we know, we might have two feet of snow by next weekend). Crocuses and daffodils are flowering. Have I mentioned how crazy this is? We're several weeks ahead of schedule here.

And so am I.

Easter usually hits me as an 'oh crap, that's next weekend?!?!' event. Which means our Easter decorations usually sit out for a whole two weeks (maybe). This is a little sad, because we have a long running tradition of painting wooden Easter eggs every year and I'd prefer to enjoy them a little longer after our effort in creating them. This year, we're on top of things!

When my son was born fourteen years ago, I had this grand idea of painting an egg for him every year so he'd have a little memento to take with him when he eventually moves out. Yeah, I was kinda planning way ahead, but this comes from a similar thing my mother did for my sister and I when we were little. We picked out a new Christmas ornament each year, and when we moved out, we had a pile to start decorating our own tree with. Well, I do that too, but the overachiever in me had to one up my mother and pull in a second holiday.

But now I have two kids and a lot less time. You can probably figure out which years were more of a last minute rush than others from this photo. We've done glitter, and little designs. That second one in the bottom row was finger painted by one year old fingers. And some years, I've actually had time to sit down with my tiny paint brushes and have some fun.

My son is rather past the excitement of painting eggs. In fact, he'd probably much rather calculate the number of eggs he'd have by the time he moved out by pi and multiply by the circumference of Jupiter and then applying that to some ungodly number theory game he learned in math.

Thankfully, my daughter is my mini-me and loves painting so she paints her own eggs now, which frees me up to take over the task of creating one for Mathboy. He also loves Nerf guns, which is why, this year, I decided to use that particular phase to decorate his egg.

Ok, so it's not particularly Easterish. I gave up on that years ago and went for documenting what ever they are into at the time.

My daughter has hermit crabs. So yep, we have a hermit crab egg.

A dragon egg? Sure, why not.

Swords? Definitely.

My daughter was a little easier. Some flowers, glitter and more glitter! That worked for several years before she started painting her own.

A couple years ago it occurred to me that I should make a few eggs for myself or I'll be left with none when these kids finally do move out. Tie dye was fun in egg form for something different.

So how does one make one of these things? 

It's pretty easy. First, get thee to a craft store and buy a bag of wooden eggs. You might notice that mine are different sizes. Some years I had left overs. The medium size come four in a bag. So do the small ones. The large ones are sold individually. Some years I had to go with whatever size was still on the peg a week before Easter. Hence, we have an assortment. 

If you're fortunate, you might find a brand of wooden eggs that are round on the bottom. Most are not. This is ok really because it makes it much easier to stand on the table to paint and dry. Look for ones with the smallest level of flatness on the bottom. You won't notice that once they're all painted and piled in a basket.

 Then you'll need some acrylic craft paint. Just a little goes a long way. Gather some brushes, water and some inspiration and you're ready to go.
 Paint a base coat. You can either paint a solid color or water the paint down a little and do a wash. I'm rather fond of the wash so the wood grain shows through a little. For this year, I did a wash of mix of pearl white and pearl blue. If you opt for the wash, it dries very quickly and you can get right to painting.

If you're going to add glitter, you'll need wet paint to for the glitter to adhere to. Be aware that painting over glitter isn't the easiest thing so only put glitter in the areas you don't plan on doing anything else with. You could also add the glitter to smaller spots at any point by shaking it onto any wet paint area - making little dots or squiggles of paint works wonderfully. 
 And then paint your design. Yep, it's pretty simple. I'm a fan of long, thin bristled brushes, mostly because it better hides the shaking my hands do these days. I usually do something more in the random design arena on the opposite side of actual painting so it can look Easterish if it ends up with right way in the basket.

And then there's the other side. 

At this point, I write their names and the year on the bottom and bring it outside for an overall shot of Krylon clear coat. The clear coat also seals in any glitter.

Once it's dry, it goes in the basket--where it will come out several times as the kids go through the pile and organize them by year (as my daughter did in that long picture), and chat about which ones they painted, and hide them, and find them (or I find them a month later). The best part about them is that they don't chip, they don't rot, you don't have to find a way to eat a dozen hard boiled eggs and they make a great conversation piece year after year. 

And now I can check that little project off my mommy list for year. Hooray!