Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I had a great weekend of food, fun, and family. But I'm glad to be back home. Plus, I made it just in time to enjoy the flurries. Tomorrow it's back to business, but tonight I'm watching snowflakes and spending time with my cats.

Here's hoping all of your holiday wishes came true!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Somewhere out there

I'm working on two projects right now. One is a YA paranormal fantasy, and the second is a contemporary detective novel. One is about girls with superpowers battling an evil supervillain (fun!), the other about a normal girl accused of killing her best friend.

Things are going great. I've been writing one, editing the other, and being moderately productive. Couldn't ask for more. Then yesterday I typed a sentence that made me pause. I'd share the sentence with you, except that I don't have it in front of me, and I can't exactly remember it. What I can tell you is that it involves the phrase "chloroform shampoo."

For those of you out there who don't know, chloroform shampoo does not exist. Nor would it be a viable means of dispersing chloroform to an unsuspecting victim. (There would be no way to ensure an adequate dose. That's just asking for trouble.) Now, I've taken a lot of liberties with the fantasy novel- the girls have superpowers after all! But, this line does not appear in my fantasy novel. It's in the detective one.
The exciting conclusion? I love it, it works for the story, and I'm keeping it. With writing, unlike other aspects of my overly scheduled, Type-A life, I'm a bit of a rebel. Just kidding.

Maybe this isn't the best example, but the whole thing got me thinking. How far out on a limb do you take your stories? What if you have to invent something completely crazy to progress your plot? Do you consider the genre you're writing or do you do what needs to get done?

I got the opinion of my live-in critic (not the cat- the less hairy, more human one) who thought it was hilarious. However, a day later, while watching an episode of Bones, he couldn't help but fixate on their digital imaging software. "They can't do that!" he insisted. "It's not possible. That kind of technology doesn't exist." We notice when something is made-up. At what point does that part interfere with enjoying the story?

I guess I could always fuse the two into a superhero detective story. (What? That's already been done? Nerd note: While hunting for a decent link, I discovered that they're making this into a TV show!)

What do you think?

Also, I apologize if this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I need to work on my time management. No more 12:30am posts!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Success! I am rejoining the electronic world. After three weeks of agonizing hours-long phone calls with AT&T, they finally fixed my internet. The best part? No, it's not being back on blogger (although, that is pretty sweet). It's the fact that AT&T was wrong. They insisted the entire time that it was my problem- either faulty wiring in the house or a broken modem. Turns out, the signal was never even making it to the house. Knowing that I was right doesn't completely make up for the three weeks of "net-less" life I had to endure (oh the woes), but it does give me a right bit of satisfaction. I wish I could tell you that I had an amazingly productive few weeks, and that I finished one of my projects, but I can't. I didn't come to a screeching halt, but this is definitely a hard time of year to concentrate on anything. All that to say, I'm glad to be back and really excited to get caught up on what's happened while I was "away."

Two interesting stories before I had to bed. I attended my first NHL game today and watched the Atlanta Thrashers cream the NJ Devils, 7-1.
Hockey seems like an interesting sport. From what I could tell, there are three basic rules:
1) if you beat the puck over the blue line, you get in trouble,
2) if you hit the puck really hard across the ice and no one gets it before it hits the wall, you start over, and
3) if you beat someone really hard, you get in trouble, and they guy you beat up gets in trouble too.
I should note that my first word ever was not "Mama" or "ball," but "puck." I think that gave me an advantage.

Also, this is probably true everywhere right now, but what is going on with traffic lately?! I sat for over an hour on Peachtree (ah, the infamous Atlanta Peachtree roads) and only made it about a 1 mile. Sure, maybe I shouldn't have gone near the part of Atlanta where two shopping malls sit catty-corner from each other during the Christmas shopping season, but still. An hour?! One mile?! I did get some plotting done for my still unfinished NaNo. I guess sometimes being gridlocked in real life can help get things moving in other places. Wait, that sounds strange. But you know what I mean.

Oh, third interesting thing: I'm Santa. That's the reason I've been away from my computer. I've had to get all these presents ready. It's not easy, people!

Long story. It was for charity...
I signed up to take the photos and this is what happened.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Losing NaNo, Winning at Life

I thought I'd pop in for a bit while mooching some coffee shop wifi to let you know that I have "epic failed" NaNoWriMo. And yet, somehow, I still feel like a winner. I've only got 12,500 words of my new project (affectionately called Amnesia Girl), but that's 12,500 more words than I had on Oct. 31. And, there are still three and half more hours to go!

I think the first year of NaNo is a little like your first love. It's awkward, difficult, fun, scary, and more than a little complicated. This might not be my "one true" NaNo, but I will always look fondly back onto my first try. I'll remember the night we stayed up together laughing about nothing. I'll remember the angry fight where we both said things we didn't mean. We tried. We really did. Even until the end, neither of us was willing to give up, but we realized that our days were numbered. I wanted it to work, NaNo wanted it to work, but it wasn't in the cards.

Maybe we both need to mature a bit first. And if the stars align, we might even try again next year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Life and Times of Elizabeth B.

It's been exactly a week since all of my stuff was crammed into boxes, shoved into the back of a van, and dumped into a house that is slightly smaller than my apartment. Life has been a bit like playing Tetris on Level 9 with the height set at 5. You want to make things fit, but you already have a messed up pile of junk that you have to clear about before you can even begin stacking. 

We've been working hard this week to unpack, and this weekend, everything has started to fall into place. The cats have emerged from under the bed and have laid claim to their new spots (the back of the couch and the chair in the bedroom) Our older kitty is having some "litter box issues," in that he has decided that he no longer has to use the litter box. I think the woman in the house before us had a cat, and my theory is he's trying to overpower the scent with his own mightier musk. I'm sure he'll sort it out, but until then I will continue to chase him around the house with paper towels. Is a 16 year old cat too old to train to use the toilet? I'd want him to flush too. And to change the roll when it's empty.

While things are definitely on the up and up, there was one terrible tragedy this week: we have no internet access at the house! *Collective gasp* I'm okay. I know this is shocking, but things like this happen to the best of us. I'll pull through, I'm sure of it. I'm just not sure of when. AT&T has been less than helpful. There solution is to charge us either $60 for a new modem or $80 for someone to come out to the house and tell us what's going on. The modem isn't the issue. It worked last week, and I can connect to its IP through my computer, and I'm not about to pay $80 for someone to tell me that. The landlord is out of town this weekend, but I shot him an e-mail. I'm hoping there's a trick having to do with the house. Like only one of the phone jacks works for internet. Cross your fingers. Until then, I'll have to organize the occasional trip to Borders to get caught up on e-mail and to update you!

Now that things are settled, it's time to get cracking on NaNo! I can do 40,000 words in three days, right?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Exhaustion setting in

Here are the facts:
My apartment is entirely packed, in preparation for this weekend's big move.
I can't find a pen.
I want to remember something that randomly popped into my head.
My blog is open.
I'm going to share it with you and give you a glimpse inside my mind:

"Robot food for technological thought."

I feel like we know each other better already! Sharing is caring!

I have no idea why that sentence ran through my mind, but for some reason I think I'd like to do something with it. My brain might be telling me to corner the market now, so that I'll be the biggest wholesale distributor of robot food in 50 years. Entrepreneurism! Or, maybe, I could use it as a prompt for a short story (after November is over).

If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Potential Robot Food?

As I was labeling this post, I realized that it is not my first about robots. There was also that song about Odysseus (aka Ulysses) and his small robot friend. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious working on my blog reminded me of that? I'm not sure we'll ever know for sure.

Daredevil Writing

I'm a nerd with a cat named Marvel and a near complete run of ROM, so you might be thinking this post is going to be a critical review of the 2003 Ben Affleck box office bomb (Gigli and Daredevil in one year, yeesh). But you'd be wrong. This is not a review of a craptacular movie, but if you were thinking about a blind lawyer in red spandex, you're only slightly off-base.
The Great Evel Knievel

Lately, I've been trying some new things, like NaNo and moving to a different neighborhood. And to get through it, I've been channeling my inner daredevil. Here's a few things I know. A daredevil has no fear. A daredevil is someone who laughs in the face of danger and doesn't listen to the little voice inside their head that tells them not to do something. A daredevil is willing to break a few bones to achieve something impossible.

NaNo is a lot like cliff jumping. You can see the start and you can see the finish line, but in between is a huge, empty crevasse. One you're expected to fill. So, for those of you out there doing NaNo with me (and hopefully doing better than my ~8000 words), rev that engine and fly full force at the ramp. You might make it to the other side or you might not. The nice thing about writing (versus flying over a ravine on a motorcycle) is that if you fail you can hop right back on and try again. And be sure to surround yourself with people who are there to see you make the jump, not the ones who are secretly wishing for a spectacular crash.

"You come to a point in your life when you really don't care what people think about you,
you just care what you think about yourself."
-Evel Knievel

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Checking in (and out again)

Thought I'd drop a line, potentially the last one before I go completely bonkers. The house hunt and NaNo are running in parallel; some days are fantastic and some days I curl up in fetal position on the floor while my cats stare judgingly at me. Actually, NaNo is going fantastically. I love my story and my MC, I have plenty to write and tons of directions to explore. After all of the time I spent on my other story (tentatively named Power Trio), it's more fun than I thought to start something new.

The house hunt on the other hand is not more fun than I thought. We've found great houses in bad areas, bad houses in great areas, foreclosures for rent, strange layouts, crazy wallpaper (that the owner is waaaaay to attached to), and then some. My favorite was one with the washer tucked in a tiny hall closet and the dryer on the complete opposite end of the house in a brand new addition off the kitchen. Why the didn't run plumbing from the kitchen into the addition so that they could have the washer and dryer in the same place is beyond me? But, it's in a really cute neighborhood on a quiet street. Figuring out where to compromise is not an easy thing.

I promise as soon as I find a place to live, pack my apartment, move (in the next two weeks, eeeep), write 46,000 more words, and take a bath, I will be back. Back and better than ever.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Read a Book: As You Wish

For my second review, I grabbed As You Wish, by fellow Alantan Jackson Pearce. A-town down!

Viola, a 16-year-old struggling artist and high school student, feels invisible. She's smart, but school doesn't hold her attention. She's artsy, but not cool enough to run with that crowd. She has a loving family, but who cares about them! So, Viola is left with only one friend, Lawrence, her ex-boyfriend and gay bff all rolled into one. One day, Viola wishes things were different so hard that a jinn from a parallel dimension pops into existence to grant her three wishes.

As You Wish takes a cute premise, throws in a funny scene or two, and adds more than a heaping glob of teen romance.

The big dilemma is that Viola can't decide what to wish for, and she won't use her wishes until she's certain. Really? You expect me to believe there are people out there that haven't already imaged this exact scenario and settled on their wishes? Doubtful. Here are mine, for example:
1) to be completely healthy and fit, no matter what I eat,
2) an unlimited supply of perfectly cooked Totino's pizza rolls, and
3) world peace.
Easy! Come on, Viola, get it together.

As Viola struggles to find the perfect wish, she and the jinn (now affectionately called Jinn) become better acquainted. He desperately wants to return to his home, but is also drawn to the enchanting loner who summoned him. She finds his gruff personality oddly appealing. Eventually, Viola does settle on a wish and learns that what you want isn't always what you need (maybe I should rethink my Wish #2?).

As You Wish felt much shorter than its 300 pages, even with the occasionally slow pacing. The plot was predictable at times, but there were definitely high points. One scene in particular, a conversation between Viola and Lawrence, was so honest and well-written that I thought about it for days after.

Alternating between Viola and Jinn's perspectives, As You Wish provides insights into both characters' motivations. The downside? Because of all the hopping around, I found it difficult to connect with either of them. That style of storytelling (in general) makes me feel like I'm suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Maybe there's a way to do it well, but I can guarantee that I'll never try it myself.

Overall, the message was cute, and the ending was not what I was expecting.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 2009

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to be a Finisher

There are three steps to being a “finisher.”

1. Start something.
2. Work on it.
3. Finish it.

Despite having all of the answers, I still fall victim to the Lethargarians sometimes (those gooey guys who live in the Doldrums- The Phantom Tollbooth is a fantastic story).

Take, for example, the last 26 months with my novel. Wow, writing that looks awful. 26. Twenty-six. 20 six! Twenty6?! Tw-one-tee-six.,, Goodness, that’s a long time. It really is time to finish it.

Remember my goal to read a YA novel each week and write a review? I blasted through the first two, and then… I’ve started four separate books, and I haven’t finished one of them. (I’m not going to name names, because if we’re being honest the problem isn’t all me. I’m amazed at some of the stuff that’s gotten published. I have a renewed hope for the future.)
The laundry from my vacation has still not made its way back into the closet.

The list could go on.

So, what about you guys? Does anyone have any great tips or tricks for staying focused? Or maybe a procrastination story you’d like to share?

You know, at least I have this blog. I think it’s really helping me to get words down on “paper” and to work on my

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo and the Bliss of Delusional Optimism

So, it's official. I'm signed up for NaNoWriMo.

It's my first year, and I'm super pumped. When I thought of my story idea two years ago (you know, the one I am trying to finish), I kind of thought that would be it. I mean, I'd gone 25 years without getting a great idea before. I figured this was my one. I'd try to write it, and if it didn't work out, it didn't work out. I'd go back to my life of number crunching and biostatistics and leave the creating to the "professionals." But then a funny thing happened, I started to think of other ideas.

Really, it was a form of procrastination. Every time I head a stumbling block with my WIP, I'd write a little paragraph of something else. Most of them were junk, but a few weren't terrible. Then I had another great idea: a premise I really liked, a character who needed to live this story, and a mystery to top it all off.

I heard about NaNoWriMo, and decided to sign up. What a great way to put some pressure on to get something started! I've been looking forward to November for weeks now. Then, today, I had a revelation.

I was checking the NaNo site for tips, since I'm an uber noob. That's when I found this:
Bargain with those around you. Suggest to your housemates that if they take care of chores during November, you'll cover the following two months. Make sure you're not signed up for soccer game snack-duty, volunteering in the neighborhood—any helpful or productive task that isn't writing your novel—until November is past.
Reading this made me realize the following things:
There's a huge conference at work that I'll be attending.
I signed up to clean two nights a week at the cat rescue group (no easy task with >300 cats).
I am moving out of the apartment I have lived in for years in the middle of November. And I don't have anywhere to go yet.

Hmm. It'll be tough, but I still think I can do it! I probably should be more realistic about my chances of "winning" this one. But I'm already planning time to write each week. I'm going to hide my TV remote, so I won't get distracted when I should be working. And I've got an idea that I'm excited to work on.

I'll keep you posted. And if you're doing NaNo, we should be writing buddies!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Official Induction into the Internet Community

After a month of blogging, I have finally done the one thing that makes me an official part of the blogging community. In a fleeting moment of clarity and understanding, I wrote the world's greatest blog post. It might seem like I'm being modest. I can hear you know: "Elizabeth, you always write the world's greatest posts." But trust me, this one was different. This one flowed from me like a waterfall of genius.

My thoughts were clear and concise. No subject matter was of limits. I wrote about human nature and the importance of the novel. I created a new language. I detailed the technological plans for a working hovercraft. I figured out the hidden location of Atlantis. And I even tossed in a witty joke or two.

I sat silent for a second, basking in the warm light from my desk lamp. Time to share this with the whole world (a.k.a. 6 or so people), I thought. The orange “Publish Post” button was begging to be clicked.

Then I saw this:

Arggggh! At some point in time, I must have signed out of gmail, which logged me out of blogger. Back button! Back button! No luck. I couldn’t get back to the page. I frantically signed in, hoping the autosave had nabbed a recent draft. But, alas, I think after I’d logged out, it stopped saving those handy back-ups. Noooooooooooooooooooo!

Why is it that everything feels like the end of the world at 2 am?

And why was I still up and blogging at 2 am? Oh, I know the answer to that: jet lag. Ugh.

And the real question- was my blog post actually that original and hilarious and life-changing, or did it just seem that way because it was 2 am and I am insanely sleep deprived? I guess we’ll never know.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hawaii 5-0

First, I'd like to say hi to the new followers. It was way cool to get back into town and see the comments and new "faces."

Next, I'd like to apologize for my electronic absence, but I think you'll forgive me when you hear the reason. I just got back from a week in Maui. Seven days of sunshine, beaches, and exploring the island.
Volcanic sand
 Some of my favorites were:
sampling pineapple wine
traveling on the road to Hana
watching surfers in Paia Bay
swimming in Wailea
watching the sunset in Ka'anapali
sticking my toes in a black sand beach

To make our Maui trip slightly more affordable, we flew stand-by (and didn't make two flights, getting stuck in both LA and Maui) and stayed with my boyfriend’s mom, who lives way way out in the country. No lights, no people, no drinkable water. More rustic than I was bargaining for, but it made for some incredible views.

 I had big plans this week to finish my story, but that didn’t come close to happening. I only opened the file once, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty. I wish I’d done more, but with views like this, can you blame me?

New goal: finishing the first draft before November, so I can focus my energy on my new idea and NaNoWriMo.

Also, Diet Cokes have ridges in Hawaii. Weird, huh?

Okay, time to watch some bad tv, eat some good food, and attempt to readjust to EDT before I have to work tomorrow. Wish me luck.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Writer's Blocks review

After much blood, sweat, and tears (i.e., a google search), I managed to track down a few writing software packages for the PC.

I’ve been tinkering around with them, and I decided to take my mental thoughts, form sentences, type them into this glowing box, and share them with other poor PC users who are jealous of Scrivener and looking for something to fill the void.

I started with Writer’s Blocks 3.
Not an actual screenshot

I’m always amazed when I open a new program that looks like it was made in 1985. Writer’s Blocks is one of those programs. The opening screen looks like a less fun version of Zork II. Although, after I worked through the tutorial, I was pleased to discover users have the ability to change the font and color of the blocks. I adjusted the settings to be more visually appealing and continued exploring.
My second impression was that it seemed promising (the first being that I want to buy a DeLorean). The program allows users to import a manuscript, summarize plot points in boxes, and arrange boxes in columns, which logically would represent chapters. The boxes can be set to different colors which can represent themes, characters, plots lines, etc. When a box is moved, the associated text moves with it. So as you rearrange thoughts, the text rearranges to match. I will say the boxes don’t always cooperate when you try to move them, and the border does an annoying strobe effect when it’s engaged. But I have a feeling that's the kind of thing you get used to the more you use the program. It even has a word processor, so the manuscript can be directly typed and edited in the program.

Writer’s Blocks seemed like just the thing to “unjumble” the last few chapters of my book. I decided the next time I opened it I would import a few chapters and play around with their order. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance. Halfway through my 15 day trial, the program stopped opening due to an "Error in saving message." The website does offer a solution.

Apparently my User Account Control system doesn’t like one of the program’s components. I can't figure out why the program worked for several days before giving me the error message. To solve the issue, I have to run Writer's Blocks as an elevated application. I’m not going to do that, so this is the end of the road for me and Writer’s Blocks. WB, I wished we'd had more time together. I mean, we barely got to know each other!

Overall, Writer’s Blocks maybe might woulda coulda been a useful program. The blocks are a logical way to take an outline, fill it in, and rearrange it, all while working on the text in the word processor as well. There is nowhere to store character info, location details, or a timeline- which would be useful , but is clearly not the focus of this software. I’m a little concerned about the “bang for your book” aspect. It’s pricey, at $149, considering essentially it’s MS Word with post-it notes.

Requirements: 500 MHz Pentium computer or Higher
Memory: 64 MB RAM
Disk Space: 40 MB
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows ME

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Read a Book: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June

As you may be aware, I'm having some trouble finishing my story. Instead of plowing through the last few chapters, lately I've been tweaking the other, more completed parts of my book as a form of "useful procrastination." The downside is that it has caused me to question the value of finishing the story in the first place, which I hear is normal when critiquing your own work.

So, in an attempt to improve my writing skills (and to curb my TV watching habit) , I'm setting a goal of reading one YA novel a week and reviewing it with a critical eye. It's like dating... before I was doing it for fun, but now I'm actually trying to learn more about what I like and what I don't like. All on my quest to find my ideal mate, um, I mean, book.
I decided to start with The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June, Robin Benway's second novel.

April, May, and June are sisters who are going through a lot: their parents just divorced, they've moved to a new town and are starting at a new high school, and they've discovered that they have supernatural abilities. April, the oldest and most responsible, can see the future; May, the rebellious middle sister, can become invisible; and June, the popularity-seeking youngest sister, can read minds.

I chose this novel because it's similar to my current project, and I thought it might be interesting to see how someone else approached  fantasy YA about girls with superpowers. Also, I loved the cover. Not only is it pretty, but the colors are reminiscent of the old Marvel and DC comics.

The novel rotates between the girls' perspectives, which makes it easy for the reader to find one they can relate to (I'm an April!). It's a bit like Sex and the City, in that the girls are a little one-sided, but more of archetypes than stereotypes.

Now, I don't have a sister, so maybe this is my inexperience talking, but something about the sisterly bond seemed off to me. Their interactions are minimal, even after they realize they have superpowers. I would have loved to see them sit down and try to figure out what was going on, but they were to distracted by their own drama (stemming mainly from boys and the popular crowd).

The pacing of the book is slow at times, and it sometimes feels more like contemporary YA than fantasy. Although it was different than what I was expecting, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June was definitely a fun, and worthwhile, read.

Hardcover, 282 pages
Published August 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Time for the blog post I knew was coming. In fact, I probably could have written it a month ago.

I got an e-mail from my “dream” journal today that my manuscript (scientific, not fiction) didn’t suit their needs. Sad. I think the exact words were: “Thank you for your submission, and…. Rejected! Oh, yeah! Sick burn! Sincerely.…”

Actually, the chief reason for the rejection was that my sample size was too small, and some of my results were not significant. Small sample size? Maybe because cases are going undetected? Maybe because this is a neglected disease? And, it’s going to be neglected until people start hearing about it, because how can they hear about it when these articles get rejected from the big journals? Whew, feels good to get that off my chest! No more complaining. *cracks open a “Punkin” beer* On to the next journal!

But, don’t worry, I’m not the only one in my apartment dealing with a harsh rebuff. I’m the only person, sure, but inanimate objects can know the “sick burn” of rejection too. (Right? No? They can’t feel emotions? Oh.) Anyway, to the point, I brought home a cat tree last night expecting my two cats to be thrilled. At the door, I was greeted with large saucer eyes of terror. Apparently, I own the only two cats who are completely terrified of cat trees. When I got home from work today, I added a little catnip to spice up the deal. The younger one “enjoyed” her catnip, and I think is coming around to the tree, but the older one is still giving it the cold shoulder. He partook of his catnip and then proceeded to bite at everything in sight, focusing mainly on the other cat and my ankles. Maybe he just needs more time?

So, now that I’m getting into the fall spirit (yum, October beer), here’s a toast to rejection!
And here’s hoping I don’t spill this drink on my computer!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Importance of Punctuation

In honor of National Punctuation Day tomorrow, I decided to take a stab at one of these. I really like the way it turned out. Hope you do too!

Dear John,

I’m expecting to spend my life with you. Would be dreadful to keep us apart! I would do anything you say. Stay with me. I don’t want to quit trying. I’m not going to keep this secret, baby. Tell your friends! Tell my parents! I’d die without you!



Dear John,

I’m expecting. To spend my life with you would be dreadful. To keep us apart, I would do anything. You say, “Stay with me.” I don’t want to. Quit trying. I’m not going to keep this secret baby. Tell your friends, tell my parents, I’d die.

Without you,

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I should be sleeping, but I'm addicted to

I have now had the pleasure of hearing not only the "Bed Intruder" auto-tuned song, but also the theme song for a 1980's cartoon entitled Ulysses 31.

"Ulysses, Ulysses, soaring through all the galaxies, in search of Earth, flying into the night!
Ulysses, Ulysses, fighting evil and tyranny with all his heart and with all of his might!
Ulysseee-eee-eees, no-one else can do the things you do!
Ulysseee-eee-eees, like a bolt of thunder from the blue!
Ulysseee-eee-eees, always fighting all the evil forces, bringing peace and justice to all!

It's me Nono, small robot you know, friend of Ulysses!
It's me Nono, small robot you know, friend of Ulysses!"

 A small robot friend?! The Odyssey Cliff Notes sucked! I don't remember Nono at all. But I got pretty bored after he spent all that time with Calypso.

Expert Tip: If the 'New Song' button is giving you problems, refresh the page. After my ninth song (which I needed to get that eigth song out of my head, which helped with that catchy seventh song), I started to have some trouble.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm a PC?

I've been hesitant to spend money on my writing, because honestly up until now. This was just something to do for fun, because I had a neat idea, and I wanted to write it down. But now, two years in, I really really really reaeaealllly want to finish. And, I’ve hit a wall.

I have plenty of excuses. I work full-time. I volunteer two or three days a week with an animal rescue group. (Please spay and neuter your pets!) I have to clean up after my boyfriend, two cats, and three fish. But let’s be honest. Everyone’s busy. There are people way busier than me out there who find the time to finish their novels.

And really, I don’t think time’s the issue. I’m sitting here blogging, watching Man vs. Food (Netflix instant streaming is my best friend and worst enemy- what kind of world do we live in that everything I want is at the touch of my fingertips?!). I have time to finish. But lately, I’ve been opening my WIP, staring at it for 30-45 minutes and then running off to do something else (can we say Atlanta Anime Con?).

After a fantastic suggestion from half of my blog followers (!), I decided to investigate some software to help with my "closet dilemma."

But my quest for software is at a standstill. Last night, I dropped by Best Buy to check out my options.
Here’s how the conversation went:

            “HEY! You’re that guy from ***** (my boyfriend’s band).”
I am practically shoved to the ground, as the Best Buy employee drools over my boyfriend.
*15 minute intermission, while Best Buy employee and boyfriend talk music*
“So, can I help you?”
I get to chime in, finally. “I’m looking for some writing software.”
He leads us to a very small aisle in a dark corner of the store. We have to pull cobwebs down as we walk. He shows us the four boxes of scrapbooking software. I shake my head slowly.
“I need you to be more specific.” He scratches his chin while looking over the software. My boyfriend is goofing around on his iPhoneTM.
“Novel writing software. I want something to help me finish a book. The first two-thirds went great, but this last third is all out of whack. I need help. There are these programs for Macs that help you arrange stuff, with sticky notes and stuff.” He gives me a look, like I’ve just dropped a few billion f-bombs in his face.
“Well, this is all we have.” The selection sucks.
I’m a PC.

We went to two stores, with the same outcome. No one carries PC software other than the Microsoft SuiteTM products, SimCityTM, and  Cake ManiaTM. Time for the online search to begin. I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully, I’ll find some decent, downloadable software.

Okay, I’m off to watch my boyfriend judge the Anime Convention Rock Band battle of the Rock BandsTM or not.

Happy Saturday!

Addition: I forgot to mention, my song-writing, musically-creative boyfriend owns a Mac. One store suggested I borrow his computer. So apparently, that's the solution. Are you creative and own a PC? Make friends with someone who has a Mac!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Write like a Closet

I have a cat????
This is my junk closet. It was once used for storing fun items (board games, CDs), but over the last two years it has been filled with every miscellaneous thing that entered my apartment, so that I could maintain the outward appearance of a clean and organized home. When company visits, everything that doesn't have a home gets tossed in here.

My writing is like this closet:
I never show it to anyone (except maybe you someday, lucky reader… don’t judge).
Every time I open it, I find something cool (and then immediately lose it again).
I can never find a place for everything I want to fit in there (maybe because it all shouldn’t be in there).
It’s a little embarrassing (yes, I still own Dream Phone).

I am probably not normal in thinking this, but the hardest part of writing for me is all the words. It’s not finding the time to write or thinking of ideas. It’s that I can’t keep track of what the heck is happening in my book. I think the issue is my “method” (I am using the term very loosely).

I see things in bits and pieces. I write scenes out of order. And then when I try to piece them together I can’t figure out when each should happen. I get lost and overwhelmed. After two years of hard labor with my WIP, I’ve hit 100,000 words (yay). I know I’ve got everything in here, but I have to find it and figure out where it goes.
I want to print the whole thing and lay it out so I can look at it. I feel like if I could just look at it, feel it, and move it around, I could find the order. But, despite the fact that I have three printers, not one of them actually print.

What about you all out there in the interwebs? Do you have a technique for keeping things in order (or putting them in order after you’ve let them go wildly out of control)?

Bonus Fun!
Can you find:
a microwave box?
an origami ball?
Apples to Apples?
a fishbowl?
a Christmas present I forgot to mail last year?
an SNL Holiday Special VHS tape (where in the world did that come from)?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Someone else's computer + good time = bad time

So, last night, I was enjoying a nice glass of red wine (you know, for the antioxidants) and using my boyfriend's Macbook, when suddenly, out of nowhere...

My adorable cat leapt onto the coffee table, swished her tail sassily, and knocked the glass of wine across his keyboard!

Or, wait, was it...

An earthquake halfway across the world gave my apartment a little shimmy. The table shook and, through no fault of my own, the wine splashed across the clean white keys!

Or, uhhhh...

Aliens invaded Earth and one of their drone ships slammed into my apartment building and shattered the ceiling, knocking a small piece of plaster into the glass which caused it to tip onto the computer

You believe me, right? Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly what happened.

Sadly, as is so often the case, the truth is far less exciting. As I reached for the glass, I hit the far side with my hand and spilled the entire contents across the keyboard. Red wine smeared across the pristine white keyboard, like blood on a doctor's white coat. I turned the computer upside down as quickly as I could, but in those few deer-in-headlights moments, a good bit of wine had already seeped in. In one quick moment, I nullified both his computer warranty and the 'honeymoon' part of our relationship.

Update: Today, we took the computer in to the Apple Store. When we pushed the on button to demonstrate how the computer wouldn’t come on, it proved us wrong by actually booting up. We were able to back-up all of his files, music, movies on an external drive. We’re not in the clear yet. Wine is corrosive, so there’s a chance it damaged (and may continue to damage) the motherboard, but at least I don’t have to buy him a new computer today!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Manuscript out on submission

But not my YA novel! You didn’t really think I had time to finish writing, edit the entire thing, research potential agents, and start querying in two days?

Actually, last month I submitted something from my “real life.” Three years after graduating, I’ve finally turned my master’s thesis into a journal-ready manuscript.

Even though I haven’t been through the process, I imagine submitting a scientific manuscript is similar to submitting queries. I have a number of journals in mind, but one dream journal. Ever since I clicked send, I’ve been waiting by my inbox like a poodle-skirted sock hopper by her pink Crosley phone the day before the big dance.

But despite the similarities, there are some big differences. For one thing, with a scientific manuscript, complete submissions are sent to one journal at a time- no query letters, no slush pile. Also, this is the best part, I’m fairly certain that my article will be published; so long as I keep at it, this publication will find a home.

I think the biggest difference has to do with how exposed a writer feels. I wrote my science manuscript based on observable facts that I collected over two years. While my scientific merit is out there for criticizing, the process feels strangely impersonal and, consequently, less risky. I doubt that a rejection, even from my dream journal, would leave me broken-hearted. On the other hand, criticism about my novel (even when constructive) stings, because I created the world and filled with characters I imagined into existence. I wish I could say I was great at accepting criticism, but I can't. It’s hard not to take it personally. Recognizing you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

I’m sure many before me have pointed this out, but isn’t there more than a touch of honesty in the multiple meanings of the word ‘submission’?

Merriam-Webster defines “submission” as:
1. an act of submitting something (as for consideration or inspection)
2. the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant
3. an act of submitting to the authority or control of another

Nothing like opening yourself up and exposing all of your gushy bits for someone else to throw rocks at. Along those same lines, maybe I'll put up something from my book sometime soon. Just promise not to be too mean.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I wrote-ish a book?

I should start by clarifying. My blog title is a lie. I haven't written a book. But I am trying. And I hope by staring at that title, I'll finally get motivated to finish this sucker.

I'm a left-brained, science-loving girl who's exploring something new. My adventure began at a particularly boring conference two years ago when an idea for a story suddenly sprung into my head. I tried to shake it, but it wouldn't go away. So, somewhere in between the PowerPoint slides and the networking reception, I jotted down a quick outline. After some encouraging, I decided to write it. It hasn't been easy so far, but it's been fun.

This isn't my first attempt at writing (I wrote a story in sixth grade called 'The Magic Ring' -spoiler alert- he marries the princess and they live happily ever after), but I think it's my best so far.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”- Mark Twain

Status Update
Current Project: 102,916 words (74,764 words that are part of a coherent, linear story line + 28,152 additional words to play around with to try and finish this thing).
Other story ideas that I'm seriously considering working on: 1
Cats currently begging for treats: 2
Boyfriends playing a video game: 1
Boyfriends not playing a video game: 0 (That's right. I've only got one. But don't tell him that. I like to keep him on his toes.)