Sunday, May 30, 2010

 My big goal is to finish The Goddess of Vengeance Wore Pink Galoshes this summer.  I know a few of us are trying to write novels this summer, and I thought it might be fun to keep up on each other's progress and encourage each other in this ambitious endeavor!

If you're interested, let me know in the comments what you're writing and what your goal is (mine is to finish before Labor Day, and I have about 70-80k to write to get there!)  I'll have the challenge posted in my sidebar, so we can check in on each other's blogs throughout the summer. I'd love it if you posted too, and you're welcome to use my little badge or make one of your own.  And, of course, if you have any other ideas for how to help each other out through the challenge, please post them below!

Another set of prospective kitty parents visited Buster and Bonzai today. It went very well - although there was an unfortunate moment when I was trying to hold Bonzai (our very shy kitty) and he freaked. I now have some unfortunate deep scratches on my arm from him using it as a launchpad... oh well. These new folks seem so nice though, and found our kitties very cute, sweet and fluffy. So hopefully these boys will have a new home come July!

Last but not least,  pics of my new haircut as promised... although bear in mind, this is with me washing and styling it, and I'm a lazy styler. If it takes more than 5 minutes, it's not happening. So it doesn't look quite like it did fresh from the salon... I quite like it though. It's OK if I just let it air dry to my natural waves or I can straighten it after with the iron. I might still go with the short cut from my style post at some point, but I like the bangs and layers a lot too.
Yes, I was sitting on my front step taking photos of myself for the light. Pretty sure the neighbors think I'm someone's narcissistic teenager, not the homeowner. Because who does that? (Bloggers, that's who!)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Inspired by Kelle Hampton's lovely post (not a "writing" blogger, but I've mentioned my addiction to mommy blogs before), I thought I'd write today about summer resolutions.  Softer and gentler than New Year's resolutions, summer resolutions should be like a puffy dandelion - easy come, easy go in a warm breeze.

So these are my summer resolutions:
  • I'll do yoga and go on long runs. When I want to.
  • I'll spend weekend mornings at Starbucks, drinking decadent coffee-related beverages with extra whip and working away on The Goddess of Vengeance Wore Pink Galoshes.
  • My mountain bike will make it out of the garage at least once a week.
  • Homemade ice cream will be made, and consumed, regularly.
  • Travel for work is a given, but I'll make the most of it. I'll do tourist-y stuff and explore local coffee houses for new writing spaces, rather than staying in my dimly lit hotel room to work. I'll go to the movies by myself for the first time ever.
  • I'll make it to the beach at least once, instead of just griping about how much I miss California, where it was a regular destination.
  • I will meet with other writers. Some time. Somehow.
  • My toenails will not resemble some kind of horror-movie villain. I will get a pedicure once a month.
  • I'll make some kind of art - play around with my point-and-shoot or my old beloved charcoals and see what happens. 
What are your summer resolutions?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today was a surprisingly fun day at work, work aside. Every once in a while we have a "safety stand down", which is oddly reminiscent of some kind of high school assembly, only with grown-ups who are paid to be there. We have to leave our desks, turn off our Blackberries, and sit in an auditorium - where the air conditioning often seems to fail - to be reminded Not To Die. Not to die from drinking too much alcohol, not to die on a boat, not to die in a car (I'd turn this into a Doctor Seuss poem if I were even less irreverent or more poetic -- either one). With Memorial Day and 4th of July coming up, it was time for another lesson on How Not To Be Completely Stupid And Waste Your Life.

The Powers Who Be do their best to make this experience entertaining, though, and so today's presentation included a hypnotist.

And whoa. I believed that hypnosis was real, to some extent; I think our brains can be manipulated. Otherwise, no one would buy iPads or Tiffany engagement rings. But it's one thing to appreciate a technical possibility and another thing to see it in real life.

 The hypnotist pulled about sixteen people from the audience, hypnotized them, and then put them to sleep by saying "Sleep" or shaking their hands, either way. 

Then things got crazy. First, he told them all to think back to when they were four years old, drawing them back through high school, middle school, fifth grade, fourth grade... to age four. He said that when they woke up, they'd be four years old. And when they all sat up in their chairs, one 30-year-old guy was already rocking back and forth in the infamous pee-pee dance.

It wasn't the fact that they followed orders, donning costumes and trick-or-treating amongst the crowd, that surprised me. That seemed par for the course.  What surprised me was the actual regression, like the boy - erm, man - who got up from his seat to go steal the Jason mask away from another subject, the adults skipping around and yelling "Trick or treat!" in high pitched voices, or the grown man and woman who bumped elbows while raising their hands and then began to catfight, swiping each other's hands.

One thing that I appreciated about the hypnotist's regression of those subjects, though, was that he told them, "You remember the toys you played with, the TV shows you liked, your bedroom. You remember all the happy things from being four years old, and only the happy things. You're four years old again, and you're happy." Because when he first started to take them back to childhood, I was nervous for them... some people don't have childhoods they need to return to.

Don't you wish that every child could just be four years old with only happy things to remember?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Since I didn't have the most current copy of The Goddess of Vengeance Work Pink Galoshes on my computer this past week to work on, I've been focused on outlining. I'm using a combination method, outlining a few chapters ahead, but still letting things develop. So far, I like this method a lot, as someone who tends to write by the seat of her pants rather than according to a strict timeline -- it's good to know what comes next, even though I don't feel the urge to know the exact events of chapter eighteen yet.

My outline is flippin' long, though. Right now I think every page of my outline is about 10-15 pages of fiction; my outline is more of a synopsis (and a detailed synopsis, at that; not the kind of thing any agent would want to wade through!).

I've read and been intrigued by several different outlining styles, like the snowflake method and  chapter outlines or chapter summaries. For right now, though, what I'm doing seems to be working for me, even though this long outline is less efficient than some other methods (I've even found myself starting to outline Bodie's Men, when flashes of inspiration come to me, which I think is going be my 2010 NaNo project).  We'll see what outlining method I settle into when I've written ten novels - part of being a writer is experimentation, in my book. :p

The one thing I'm sold on? Outlining somehow, anyhow. I'm so much faster writing now, but I'm also enjoying my writing time more.  It's harder for me to get road blocked when I know what happens next and how my character is getting to that next pivotal scene!

Do you "pre-write", assembling your outline before you touch fingers to keyboard, make it up as you go along, or outline-as-you-go like me? If you do outline, what's your preferred method, or are you still deciding?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thirteen Reasons WhyDue to a lack of other inspiration, today's post is brought to you via stream of conciousness. In other word's, it's a little random (books, bangs, opposable thumbs, and quite a lot about sweets).

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate)I've read 45 books so far this year. Hoping to hit 50 before June, for no real reason whatsoever...

I decided to travel light for work and only bring my work laptop (as opposed to my usual work laptop/personal MacBook combo), but sent myself the wrong copy of GODDESS. Brilliant. I was so excited to keep working on the interactions between Willow and Lauren, and now I don't know what to do with myself. Actually, I do. I have an outline to grow. That's just not as glamorous.

I made the best. carrot. cake. ever. to welcome MJ home from his business trip before I departed on mine (he got into the airport around 10pm Friday night, we had Saturday together, and then I left Sunday afternoon).  I am dying for some carrot cake right now. Oh, and I miss MJ too. But that was some seriously amazing carrot cake.

My mom is visiting this coming weekend! I have big plans... high tea, antiquing and bookstores in Fredericksburg, VA, Gadsby's Tavern and Museum in Alexandria (plus my favorite cupcakery), massages and pedi's, maybe dim sum... I might also put her to work helping me paint and shop for the house. :p

Nothing yet on the kitties -- the potential new kitty parents can't take any new cats into their home until mid-July. OMG. I am really in love with these cats; it's heartbreaking to wait on their forever home. I know this is what I signed up for, but I don't want to fall any more in love with them!

I spent last week with MJ away nesting like crazy. Besides all the regular type house cleaning that goes along with three cats, a pile-up of more clothes than anyone actually needs in the laundry room, and an ant invasion in our kitchen... I even bought and assembled a dresser (which is impressive for me, since I'm less handy than any creature with opposable thumbs really should be).  I unpacked several boxes still lingering in our garage. And yes, we moved nine months ago... I could have birthed a child in less time than it's taking us to unpack. Thank God for Glee -- I couldn't have been so domestic without a fun distraction.

By the way, am I the only one who ever gets tired of packing and begins labeling boxes "Random" and "Stuff"? That's a terrible habit.
I'm in Georgia right now. It's hot and I was caught in an outrageously-out-of-nowhere thunderstorm while running after work. Looking forward to exploring Georgia more though, I'm here a lot this summer!

Oh, and I got a haircut, but I can't find my camera battery charger so I can upload photos. My new hair is also very big... my hair likes to be big... but I like it soo much better. I have bangs now! And, as is turns out, an annoying coworker who likes to ruffle them! More to come later.

I am currently very interested in clean eating (like the boks by Tosca Reno), although less interested in giving up things like the aforementioned carrot cake. I'm *reasonably* trim on a diet that includes homemade ice cream, muffins and waffles on weekend mornings, and M&Ms as afternoon pick-me-ups... do I care to be *really* trim if it means giving up such sugary goodness?

I need to go catch up on everyone else's blogs. I'm a bad blogger, but my house is very clean and I had to spend every minute I could this weekend with MJ!
Last night, my internet gave out as soon as I finished typing up my blog post. This morning, I have the internet back but can't cut-and-paste last night's post over into Blogger for some reason.

So just trust me. There's supposed to be an entertaining post here. Hopefully I can fix it when I get back tonight. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

I told y'all about Submission Sundays, where I'd try to submit something once a week (and then promptly failed to blog about it, of course).  This past Sunday I did a little hunting on duotrope and found an anthology looking for horror/suspense flash fiction, which was exactly what I wanted -- I've been looking for a home for my odd semi-humorous through-the-eyes-of-a-serial-killer flash fiction (with a happy ending) for a while now.

And I got an acceptance back.

Now, here's where my crisis comes in. I haven't sold anything to an anthology since I was 12, and that was an unsatisfying experience (never saw it in print, another writer who contributed to it told me that my story was in it, but I never received a copy). This sounds like the same sort of deal -- the payment is "exposure only", and I can't help but think -- not even a contributor's copy? Is anyone who isn't a contributor going to buy this?*

I don't know if I'm being crazy or not here. I like seeing my words in print, as we all do, but I want it to be "real". I want the process to be competitive, my work to be great when it's finally accepted, and for it to be read.  I hope you guys get what I mean here! Obviously there are great anthologies out there... I'm just worried that I might send my lovingly raised little tale to the wrong home!

I kind of want to call the anthology and ask, Dorothy style, "Are you a good home or a bad home?"  But I'll have to settle for googling (and any words of wisdom you readers have would be much appreciated!)

On a separate note (Well, not really, since we've been talkin homes), for those following the foster-kitty saga, the potential new family hasn't been able to visit yet. Hopefully they'll be meeting Buster and Bonzai this weekend -- cross your fingers for my boys!

*Yes, I realize I should have had this crisis prior to sending my flash fiction in. What can I say - I get a little swept away in the process sometimes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I just finished reading The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. It was a good book, but a little depressing as I've found all Chevalier's books so far (I'm not sure if it's her writing style or just the unfortunate position and plights of women in earlier ages that leave me so grumpy).

The idea of writing historical fiction sort of blows my mind.  I've written historically-inspired short stories and poetry. In fact, my undergrad thesis was a mish-mas of a few different elements:
  • an examination of how "history" and "fiction" combine to different degrees in different forums, with fictional dialogue and exposition used increasingly in actual historical texts to convey a depth that facts alone cannot;
  • an analysis of women's history in Warsaw in World War II -- women in Poland were much slower than women in say, Poland, to campaign for women's rights, probably in part because they were usually involved in quietly supporting the revolution and preserving their culture through cycles of Russian oppression;
  • a short story about a young woman in Poland, her mother dead, father in Auschwitz as a political prisoner, and her brother somewhere in the Polish Army, trying to protect her younger sister and wrestling with her own involvement in the war.
So the research for that short story evolved very naturally from reading and writing about Poland anyway, with a very concentrated focus (women in Warsaw from 1939 to 1945), and it was still quite a challenge. It blows me away how much research it must take to get the right details and construct the world properly to write a historical novel!

But man, I would like to. I have a lot to say right now in a modern setting, but someday I want to write more in a historical vein.  I'm an amateur historian as it is -- it's just a matter of having a story that needs to be told in that setting. And then, of course, reading and reading and reading exhaustively.

What genres do you write, and what genres do you want to write?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Well, I finished the A-Z blogging challenge and then started slacking off, didn't I? Now I'm at work -- yes, at 930 pm -- I'll be here all night, since I have to work a 24 hour shift every once in a while  (the scary thing is I will go from here to meetings meetings meetings all day tomorrow!).  I do get to sleep from about 2-6 if nothing crazy happens.
Making ToastThere are some plus sides to being up most of the night. I plan to work on The Goddess of Vengeance like... well... like it's my job.  And I plan to finish Making Toast and Girl with a Pearl Earring. I'm in a hurry to finish up more books so I can return them to my lib when I go pick up the new ones waiting for me -- I have a couple 2010 debut novels to read!  I just finished Hex Hall, which I loved. It had great voice, great pacing, and the MC was just so funny and relatable. (Being one of those fiction multi-taskers, I am also working on Terry Pratchett's Nation -- I totally thought Terry Pratchett was a woman until checking the book flap -- as my bathtub book and Prada and Prejudice as my nightstand book)

I have a secret addictions in blogging: mommy blogs. It's enough to make me want to become a mommy blogger myself, except that my blog title would have to be Adventures of the Completely Unprepared.  Babies for me are a few years down the road. First I want to enjoy my nice furniture and travel.  I could blog about my cats, I guess!

Speaking of which... my foster kitties Buster and Bonzai have an interested family that sounds perfect! I hope they're a good match. I'm starting to get a little attached to these boys, which means they need to find their forever home ASAP before it hurts that much more to give them up!
 Bonzai Cat is more important than your book!

A few of my favorite things... foster kitties, Buffy cat (She licked Bonzai's head a few seconds after I snapped this), books and the hubs!

So yeah. I will be right here, drinking vanilla Coke and trying to write something brilliant, if you need anything. And missing my cats, who I'm sure are currently wondering a) why their kitty litter hasn't been cleaned today, b) why I'm not petting them, and c) oh yeah, where is that tall blond cat with the opposable thumbs anyway?

Also, what all are you guys doing this weekend? I realize it's only Wednesday, but I need to begin planning now for my own sanity. MJ and I are both having one hell of a long week. I'm thinking about hitting up the local Cinema 'n Drafthouse (which serves up alcoholic beverages and tasty chow along with your $5 movie), although nothing looks that spectacular... there's Cop Out, She's Out Of My League, or The Green Zone to choose from. Maybe some golf or a mountain bike trip? And of course, because there's always something to do around the house... we'll be slaying some poison ivy in the backyard and preparing the guest room for painting!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blogger ate my first Z post. Ghaa! Like it wasn't hard enough to write a post about Z! I didn't even know that could happen... Blogger is always so nice abut saving my drafts for me automatically, I never thought a post could just disappear. Oh well, live and learn!

As a runner, I chase the elusive runner's high, or the zone. This is when running feels GREAT and you never want to stop.

The runner's high happens once in a blue moon, oftentimes, but the feeling of euphoria is great when it happens. It also seems uncontrollable -- there are no set predictors for the runner's high, although a good night's sleep and proper hydration seem like musts to even have a chance at it!

I think the writing zone is the same way. There are things you can do to prepare and give yourself a better chance of falling into a zone where you write and write and write effortlessly, but there's no guarantee it's going to happen. Some days, you're just working away, forcing your legs to go as you run up and down hills, and some days you're just working away, forcing your fingers to move over the keyboard and your brain to give you something, anything.

But luckily, no one runs for the runner's high. It's just a nice thing that happens sometimes. And no one writes for the zone.