Thursday, December 8, 2011

Developmental milestones

I made it through NaNo, no better than last year. Actually, a little worse- I only wrote about 10,000 words. But they really aren't bad, and I'm happy to have at least those. I think it was hard to do NaNo because I've been on such a roll with editing the first book of Power Trio that I was still in that frame of mind. But now I have two options (writing or editing) when I sit down at the computer, so I can pick whichever I'm in the mood for.

Sitting down at the computer, however, has been difficult all on its own. I had to have a minor surgical procedure (lancing a cyst the base of my spine), which has prevented me from doing anything for the last week. I was home from work and I didn't volunteer at the Santa pet photos over the weekend like I do every year (http://iwroteabook.blogspot.com/2010/12/gridlockd.html, but don't worry, I'm still going to next week!). But because I couldn't sit upright, I was barely able to do anything. I even had a hard time reading. It's tricky to read on your side without your arm going numb... But I'm back at 90% and able to sit upright for a little while at a time. I think that makes me the equivalent of a 7 month old baby. Progress!

In other news, my old, deaf cat recently found his voice and has taken to caterwauling (or the male, non-heat version of it). He made a bunch of noise when I brought him home in May, but he's been relatively quiet for the last few months. My mom came to town to help me out over the weekend, and she took to spoiling my cats (as any good cat grandmother would do). They got treats whenever they wanted, and extra wet food because she was worried the old, deaf cat was "too skinny." I think he's making a ton of noise, hoping that she's still here and will come feed him, but sadly, it's just me and he doesn't get wet food from me all the time. Only when I decide it's time, mwah ha ha (mini power trip). But if he keeps making all this racket, I'm going to have to put some food in that pie hole to shut him up...

Hope you all had a happy and productive November and are gearing up for a great December!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Staying alive, staying alive

I have a brief shining moment in my internet in my currently sad internet-less life and I've decided to spend it with you. Awwww. I wanted to give a few good updates and my thoughts:
  • I'm hovering at about 5,000 words in Power Trio 2 but...
  • My move is done. The boxes are not unpacked, but I have located all of the essentials (work clothes), but...
  • The other life essential, internet, is not connected. Which should actually help me focus on bullet one, but thus far has only made life more complicated. Trying to coordinate all the move stuff with the old landlord, get the mail forwarded (what do you mean I should have done that weeks ago?!), and all that mess is much harder without access to email. Annnnnnd my work just changed their filter so I can no longer access personal email at work (good for them, bad for me).
  • And in cat news, which I know you can't get enough of, I've found a sort of new therapy for ear infections that I think I'm going to try for my semi-feral foster cat. Laser therapy that's supposed to help with inflammation. I haven't really looked into it yet, and I'm sure it's terribly expensive (I might be starting a Wildman fund), but after the two months of antibiotics and two flushings didn't do a thing (other than make the bacteria resistant) I'm ready to try something else.
Okay, off to up that word count! Hope you're all doing well in Nano and otherwise.

Of note, "no internet" is a label that I've used before. Probably last November when I moved. I'll have to do some exploring and find it... the NEXT TIME I have INTERNET.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Check-In #1

Power Trio, book 2- 1700 words
Move- 30% complete, family reinforcements coming Monday, movers coming on Wednesday (for the big stuff)
Dinner- thinking of making vegetarian white chili

I've already made two trips over to the new place. I moved a lot of the kitchen items, and now I'm craving white chili. I don't have measuring spoons or mixing bowls, but at least I had the forethought to leave the can opener.

After I get that started (which will probably require a grocery store run), I plan on sitting down in front of the computer and duct taping my hands to keyboard until I get a decent word count. I have to make up for the last few days of slacking.

I'm struggling with the little things in Power Trio 2. I know the main conflict/antagonist. I have a smaller antagonist. I have the love interest(s). I know where my characters are going to start and where they're going to go (mostly talking physically, but I do have some sense of character growth/change that I want to cover).

I'm having a hard time coming up with the actual scenes. Which is why it's kind of perfect that I'm doing NaNo, because the whole point is to stop thinking and start writing. I'm sure if I just open the word document, something will happen.

But, first, the chili!!!

If anyone is up for a Word War later, I'll be on twitter. : )

Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo and the Year of Winning

I'm revving up to try my hand at NaNo agian this year. I didn't "win" last year (http://iwroteabook.blogspot.com/2010/10/nanowrimo-and-bliss-of-delusional.html), but I had a great time, met my current writing group, and wrote many more words than I would have if I'd just spent November the way I spent September and October.

I had hoped to be completely done editing Power Trio (Book 1) before starting into Book 2, but the plot is pretty set, so I don't think there will be any major problems. I've also heard that you shouldn't start "Book 2" until you've sold Book 1. I can see the logic- obviously you don't want to spend a ton of time on a series that will never be published, but I'm so attached to the story and the characters I don't think I could not finish it.
How's that for great English? Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Scott Pilgrim: "Double negative... it's tricky."

Anyway, I'm feeling good this year. I might take a little time tomorrow and do a quick outline, so if I get stuck, I'll know where to head. Wish me long, and forgive me if I'm around even less frequently. I have to save all of my amazing wit for those ~1,600 words a day! Ha!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Life

My life in five bullets:

·         Just got back from an Infectious Diseases conference in Boston and I loved it (the city and the conference)
·         My foster cat is having major ear infection issues (I hate staph...)
·         Power Trio edits are going well, but I’m thinking about pausing for November to start on Book 2!
·         I am addicted to the new Korean shows (previously on Netflix but now on Hulu). Mostly the ones based on Japanese mangas (like Boys over Flowers), but especially Lie to Me. Looooves it!
·         I’m a Tweeter: http://twitter.com/#!/MakeARumble

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Reinvigorated

A month since my last update! Bad blogger. Bad. Bad.

I've had some exciting adventures in the meantime, so can you forgive me? I've meet a lot of new little ones- there is definitely a baby boom among my friends right now (If you live in Atlanta, do not drink the water! I'm convinced that's where all of these babies are coming from). I've helped TribeOne prepare for a month long tour. And am burning his CDs as we speak. I've also been looking for a new place to live, since my lease is up soon.

And, in actual writing news, I also attended the GA Romance Writer's annual convention. After I had to miss the Emory writing course when the schedule changed, I was pretty bummed about missing an opportunity to learn some new tips and meet some other writers. Luckily, a coworker told me about this conference (on the day registration closed- talk about a snap decision). I was really nervous about it, because I don't really consider myself a romance writer. But my paranormal YA contains a good bit of it, so I figured I'd learn something. I spent last Friday and Saturday attending sessions on crafting a villain and the importance of premise. I met other writers of all varieties. I survived my first pitch. I even had a request from an agent for the first fifty pages. Nifty! But I hear not uncommon for conferences and I'm not sure if I'm ready to send them yet- especially after the feedback I got from....

One of my favorite activities was the first five pages critique. We sat at a table with 3 others and gave honest feedback on the opening chapters of our books. I'm excited to make some changes (ahem, correct the rookie mistakes). I am also convinced more than ever I need to find a critique group. I'm torn between finding a local group that meets in-person or reaching out to the network of wonderful writers I've met through this blog. I think I might take criticism better over email (or at least the critique giver won't see my eyes well with tears and watch me run for a glass of wine), but I also sometimes need to have things explained to me a few times before I understand, which I could see getting very annoying over email. What do you think? Do you have a preference for in-person or e-critique groups?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Take a deep breath and let go

DragonCon was so fun, and it was awesome to watch TribeOne performing. A good group of my friends from college came out to see him too and seemed really into it. Unfortunately, the event was at the one hotel that wasn't connected to the others and it was raining a bit that night, so the crowd wasn't as huge as we had hoped. But there's always next time, and there's a big show coming up next month (at one of my favorite venues- The Drunken Unicorn- how hilarious is that name?) that should be totally awesome.

I love every performance, not just because I get to watch someone I care about do what he loves (that's a big part), but because I also get to use the experience in my Power Trio story. I'm constantly editing the music-related scenes and I've started noticing the quirky aspects of his shows that meant nothing to me a few years ago. What about you? Any aspects of your life serving "double-duty"? Do you cram writing time in at any random moment? Do you get inspired while grocery shopping?

On an unrelated note, after almost two years of updating the website for the cat shelter that I volunteer at, I've decided to step down from that role. It was a tough decision that I know was right. I spend all day at work sitting in front of a computer, only to come home at night and spend hours updating our 500 cats' bios and photos. And after all that was done, I had nothing left in me to sit down in front of the computer and work on my story. I loved the experience, getting to know all of our cats, but I am really excited to let it go and pass the torch along to another "crazy cat lady." And I hope it means that I'll have more time for the blog and more time for my writing. Life is all about setting priorities. I have a hard time letting things go, and I'm know I'm not going to be able to look at the site, because I'll want to change every little mistake I see. But I'm ready to take those hours and wrap up Power Trio!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Adventures in Beta Reading

Sorry for the radio silence, but things have been hectic. I just hopped on for half a second to share the exciting news- I sent my first chapter to a beta reader! She's a friend who is a journalist turned stay-at-home mom. Now the downside- she really liked it and only had a few minor changes. But that's not unexpected, considering I've spent the last two months working on the chapter (due to my getting hung up on minor things instead of looking at the bigger picture). And now I'm scared to send her the second chapter, because it's nowhere near as good! *insert Cathy-style ARGH here* Does it ever get easier to put yourself out there?

On a related note, my super talented boyfriend has been invited to perform at DragonCon this year. He'll be doing nerdcore hip-hop at the Kingdom of Loathing event (KoL is an online game that I've been playing since 2005! I get to meet the game's creators!!). For those of you not in the Atlanta area, DragonCon is our big sci-fi convention- a long weekend of autographs, comic books, video games, and general nerdiness. This is the first year I've gone as a participant, but I've been a few times to people watch before. I'm excited (not just to watch him perform) but also because there's a YA panel on Sunday morning that Beth Revis is part of. And about a billion other interesting things.

All this lead to a realization. Watching TribeOne (my boyfriend's "rapper name") get prepped and ready over the last few weeks, I've discovered a new respect for him. I've always been the shy one, and I've admired his ability to get up in front of a crowd. But now that I've writing something and gone through the nerves and the anxiety that come with sharing my writing, even with close friends, I can see how difficult it can be to put not just your physical self out there, but your thoughts and words as well... man. I have oodles of respect for him and for every other artist out there who takes a risk and shares something with the rest of us. Which of course applies to all of you out their in cyberland- thank you for sharing with me- via your blogs and your books. Looking forward to reading more from all of us!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Girls in the Band

As you know, I'm in the midst of editing Power Trio. I can see the finish line. It's right over there on the other side of this big ol' mud puddle. No big deal, right? I mean, I don't want to get dirty. I wish someone would come and carry me over there. But that's not going to happen, so I rolled up my pants and started walking. Only after jumping in with both feet did I realize that it wasn't mud; it was quicksand, and with each passing day I feel like I'm sucked in deeper.

Sorry for the melodrama (I am writing YA afterall), but I really do feel like I'm not making much progress. So, this morning I set my computer up at the kitchen table, instead of on my couch like usual, poured a big glass of Diet Coke, and got my soundtrack ready. The three main characters are in a band, so I love listening to music while I work. I thought I'd  take a moment to share the inspiration songs I used to create a Pandora station for each one:

Kay (lead vocals, guitar):

Addison (vocals, bass, keyboard):

 Sofie (drummer):

Sorry for the weird videos. I tried to find originals, but didn't have much luck. If you're intrested in more, here are the band websites:
http://www.ilovemetric.com/ffpreorder/
http://www.daftalive.com/
http://www.theshirelles.com/

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Can't hug every cat

Can someone explain to me how it is that my boyfriend can't listen to me talk about cats for three hours straight, but he has no problem listening to this song three hours a day for an entire week? I have earplugs in, and I can still hear it. I think it's made a permanent impression in my brain.

I think the part of me that is a little bit of a crazy cat lady doesn't like people making fun of this, but then I watch that cat play on the keyboard and it's all worth while.


P.S. Pretty sure the original interview was a fake, but still a very entertaining song.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Productivity

My cats have a special radar. They can sense when I'm being productive, and they spring into immediate action.
In the foreground is Marvel, and in the background is Wildman. My legs were propped up on the coffee table, so he was using his nails to balance on my knees. Marvel crammed onto my chest between my face and my computer.

Sorry for the quality- taken with my camera phone.

I'm curious- what are your biggest distractions (kids, TV, attention-grubbing pets)? And how to you resist the temptation to set your work aside?

DISA...

...ppointment.

The writing class that I had been looking forward to for months was rescheduled and I won't be able to attend. I got a nice little refund (technically, all I've gotten so far is the receipt, but I'm sure the actual money will come through in the next few days). That's how the cookie crumbles!

I'm going to see about signing up for it again when it's offered in the fall, but for now I'll have to keep meandering my way through this. I'm setting a goal for myself to share my work (at least the first few chapters) with one person by the end of August. I need to do it. Get it over with. Rip the band-aid off, but I'm on the uphill of the roller coaster and I don't want to take that first drop.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Antici....

PATION!

One of my least favorite things about being a "grown-up" is that it gets harder and harder to find things to look forward to. (Crap. I ended that sentence in a preposition. I'm in edit mode, so I'm trying to be better. Let's try that again.)

One of my least favorite things about being a "grown-up" is that finding things to look forward to gets harder and harder. When I was in school, I loved counting down the days to the next break- Spring, Summer, Winter, whatever! And birthdays! Oh how I looked forward to my birthday. Now, birthdays are just another day (except I do get to eat cake without any remorse). And summer feels like any other season in my windowless office.

I get the occasional vacation, but only when I save my days like a Western Scrub Jay hoarding peanuts. So instead I've got to find other things to fill my heart with eager anticipation. And I've found one such thing. And it's writing-related! I signed up for a five-week writing course at Emory. I'm pretty excited, because the class is being taught by a published author whose website describes her as a scientist turned writer, with no formal training (like me!).

Emory also offers a certificate program, which I could decide to do at a later time. It involves something like 40 hours of classes over two years. The grand total is $2000, which is pretty hefty. Not sure I'll do that, but I'm not ruling it out now. First things first, we'll see how this class goes.

I thought about signing up for this for the class for months, but I wasn't sure if it would "do anything" for me. Seems like if I want to write a story, I should just write it. And if I want to edit a story, I should just edit it. But after spending almost three years writing the story and months of editing the same five chapters, I'm realizing that things need to change. I'm ready to learn, and not too proud to admit that I need some help. Maybe the class won't solve anything, but maybe it will. I'm willing to try!

Back to school! If it doesn't work out, then I'll have the end of the class to look forward to. (Crap... I'll look forward to the end of class.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Smelly Cat

I have been singing the song from Friends for the last few weeks.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETQfuzNGT58

On May 27, we decided to foster a semi-feral senior cat from the cat rescue I volunteer with (despite considering myself a very logical person, I occasionally make very strange decisions). He's adjusting very well, and it has been a learning process for all of us.

A little back story: I've known the cat for two years- he was a resident of the room I clean regularly. When I first started cleaning, he was very wild. He'd been brought in as a feral cat. Probably already about ten years old and very much "intact." The group had him neutered and tipped his ear, with the intent being to release him again to live out his life, but he had bad infections in his right ear, which led to repeated hematomas. So, they kept him at the shelter to make sure that he go the care he needed. 
 
In the room, he liked to hang out on the top shelf, a place where most people couldn't reach him. But I'm tall enough to get to the cats that try to hide up there. I was hand feeding one of his friends, and he would take a piece of food from me. But he always let me know that he didn't like it. I remember once he was hissing so much that he choked a little on the kibble.
 
After a year of working with this wild cat, we got to a good place. And in the last few months, he would come to see me when I came into the room. He'd let me pet him without hissing or cringing. Sometimes, he would even reward me with a purr! I wanted to help him turn that final corner- from feral cat to happy pet. I thought bringing him home would be the best way to do that.

He's been in our home for over a month now, and we had a rocky start, but things are going great now. He has his moments, and his first instinct is always to hide, but he sleeps next to me every night (sweet, until you remember that he really smells). The hematomas caused that ear to curl up in what is called cauliflower ear that emits a funky odor...

Which leads us to today. I'm taking him to the vet. He's very food motivated and not familiar enough with cat carriers to be scared of them. I think I'll be able to get him there , but I'm nervous to see how he reacts to the vet. I have a feeling I'm going to have to put drops into his cauliflower ear. He barely lets me touch it now.

He also inspired me to add a cat into my amnesia girl story. Which I have been working on instead of Power Trio... bad!


'Men have forgotten this truth,' said the fox. 'But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.'
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Updated Grades (aka 'Editing down a storm'?)

Le sigh. Sometimes I feel like because I'm in my late twenties, I should be a better writer/editor/whatever than I am. Then, I have to remind myself that I have never writing a story before in my entire life (unless you count the glorious ten-page saga, The Magic Ring, which I don't).

In a late night fit of something that is not editing, which is what I should be doing, I am forcing myself to revisit my report card. As you may recall, I got an A in Editing in a previous post, Editing up a storm.

I can only assume I had some sort of inappropriate relationship with the person assigning those grades, because I am not sure it was very well deserved. I've got a mean grader evaluating this time (a less caffeinated me), and here are my new grades:

School of Life
Student: Elizabeth

Thinking about editing while doing something else: A+
Turning on the computer and opening Power Trio: A
Actually editing: C-
Working an a WIP or blog post, so that at least my fingers don't forget how to use a keyboard: B
Editing up a storm: C-
Editing down a storm: What does that even mean?
Going to bed instead of editing: A+

So, maybe I like to tease myself a little bit. But I'll do anything that helps prod me into getting some actual work done. It's happening this week- no more excuses. I made a schedule and I'm going to stick to it. I will finish editing by July 31. Wish me luck.

Night everyone!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back and better than ever!

Or, okay, maybe I'm back and about the same. But it feels good to get back into in the swing of things. I've picked up a couple new books (at the closing of my favorite Borders- nooooooooo). I'm still editing Power Trio and haven't been quite as successful as I would have liked, but I am finally letting someone else read it. However, that person is my significant other (I know, I know, not a viable critic). But in his defense, he is a writer and a librarian, and I think he secretly likes to hurt my feelings (He told me one of my favorite paragraphs distracts form the scene! How dare he!).

I have definitely been missing reading all of the amazing posts from you all. I'm excited to get caught up. And that direct correlation between writing on the blog frequently and working on my story frequently holds true. It's hard some days to sit down and write, even lately when I've not been so busy, but just typing this makes me want to open my WIP (I miss amnesia girl!). Maybe I'll try to get in a little writing tonight.

I'll also have to give you all an update on my latest animal adventure- I'm fostering a semi-feral cat from the shelter I volunteer at. He's been quite the treat, although I'm not convinced that he's semi-feral. He's definitely a little awkward, but even after 10+ years of minimal human interaction (before coming to our shelter), he seems to crave it. I think he'd really like to meet my other cat, but she's not so into it yet. We'll be introducing them gradual. Good things come to those who take their time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Haitus

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful weekend and spending some time doing the things you love with those you love. I'm taking a little break from the blog (and my computer, in general), to sort out some personal items and spend some time with those I love. Thank you all for reading, and I'm excited to come back (hopefully very soon) wtih a fresh and new perspective.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Teleworking

Today was my first day ever teleworking. I am lucky enough to have a job that is "telework-friendly" at a place that encourages teleworking (for both office space and environmental reasons) and I've always wanted to try, but I was worried that I would be too distracted at home to accomplish anything.  I log into my work account on the occasional weekend or evening to finish up a big project or shoot off an important e-mail, but I have never sat down at home for a solid 8 hours and worked. How could I get any work down with a TV, two cats, and a story to edit right at my fingertips? So instead of going through all of the paperwork, I decided to give it a trial run first and figure out if teleworking works for me.

I was a bit slow to start this morning- I tried to work for about 45 minutes in comfy clothes. I did change out of my pajamas, but I tossed on an old t-shirt and some shorts. Even with the help of my morning caffeine, my brain refused fully engage. Around 9:15, I broke down and put on some work clothes. Don't get me wrong- I didn't brush my hair or put on deodorant or anything drastic like that, but  I did have my business casual slacks on (oh, yeah).

Once that was taken care of, things really got rolling. I resisted the temptation to work on Power Trio. I didn't even open it! One cat was too busy snoring in her cat tree to notice me sitting five feet away; the other didn't even emerge from the bedroom until 2:30! And I had enough to keep me busy, so even the siren song of the TV didn't affect me. Really, the only problem I had was knowing when to turn off. I managed to pry myself away from the scrren about an hour later than usual. I like to think it evens out this time, considering my first 45 minutes weren't the most productive, but I think if I keep this up in the future, I'll have to be better about working "normal hours." It's easy to lose track of time when you're already home.

Maybe it's my science brain, but I don't feel like I can really judge teleworking based on one experience (it's not a viable sample size to determine statistical significance!), so I want to give it a whirl next week too. Here's hoping it goes as well as today. Anybody out there got any tips or tricks for staying focused (be it on work, schoool, or whatever), while you're on your computer but not working on your writing?

Also, I searched for an image to include with this post using the keywords "telework" and "Snuggie" and there was nothing to be found. Someone who owns a Snuggie needs to remedy that immediately!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Done, Done, and Done!

Done 1: The French Memo Board door project
Close-up of the fabric, blue
ribbons, and white brads.

The final product turned out infinitely better than I could have imagined. Three of the four panels are perfect, and one is way off, but I stuck that on the bottom and I'll cover it with a big photo or something. Yay!
  
Done 2: Scientific publication accepted
A first author publication in a well-known, peer-reviewed journal- nerd dream come true! All I've got to do is respond to the reviewers' edits (and I've got a few weeks to get it all done).

annnnnnd

Done 3: Power Trio first draft!!!
3 years and 8 days, 99,953 words, and 36 chapters later, the first draft of Power Trio is done. Time to start editing. But first, a read through. There are chapters I haven't touched in months!

Tonight is a good night.

I will note that even all of these accomplishments don't get me out of having to scoop the cat litter boxes tonight. These cats have it good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Magic Ring, Part Two

I was hoping to have series of fantastic announcements for you all today, but I'm 2 for 3 right now and I really want to make this a trifecta (or a hat-trick for those of you who are more athletically inclined). So, in lieu of awesomeness, I am giving you part two of The Magic Ring.

As you may recall, when last we saw princess Sandra, she has a super mean brother (current king), a missing dad (former king), and a desire to hit you over the head with her emotions (Oh, when will I learn to show and not tell!). I still make the same mistakes now. I love to really spell out exactly what a character is doing. Not how she feels about anything, mind you, but exactly where her feet are and what her hands are doing at any particular time.

Because of how I cut the sections, you miss out on the full gloriousness of the word "snuck" appearing 4 times in 5 sentences. Apparently, I had not yet learned that most word processors come equipped with a built-in thesaurus. If you haven't already checked out the first part, I highly recommend that you do: The Magic Ring, Part One.

If you've already read Part One, and want to jump in, let me give you something to get you into the right frame of mind:

Sneak, snuck, snuck, snuck.

Okay, you're ready. Enjoy!


********************

Later that night she put the robe on over some tattered, old rags she had found in her maid's closet and snuck into the kitchen. Without turning on any lights she got a loaf of bread, some ham, and a bottle of water [Bottled water?! What year is this?]. She hid them in her bag. She went back up to her room and tied the rope onto a foot of her bed. Then she draped it out of the window. She put one leg out of the window and suddenly jerked it back in. [You do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around.]

"Almost forgot," she whispered as she walked over to her dresser and picked up a ring. It was the only thing she had of her father's. He had given it to her before he left to fight. All he told her about it was that it was very, very special [Hey! Did you guys get that it's special! Cause it is!] and that she should never let it out of her sight. The ring was gold with three little engravings. One was of the sun, one was of the moon, and the third was a picture of the wind [Huh?]. Her father told her always to wear it with the engravings on the inside of her hand.

"That way," he had said, "You can hold the sun and the moon and the wind in your hand."

She smiled at the memory of her father and put the ring on just like he said. Then she climbed out of the window [Yes! Both feet went out the window this time!]. As she reached the ground she let go of the rope and jumped off. It turned out she was a lot higher than she thought [Damn those bangs! Always ruining her depth perception.].

"Ouch," she groaned as she landed with a thud on her ankle. She turned and saw a guard coming her direction. She quickly got up and limbed [sic] into a niche in the castle wall.

"Who....who's there?!" the guard called out. He looked around, and started to move towards Sandra. She gasped and crouched down, engulfed by the darkness. The guard walked right up in front of her, so close she thought he might be able to feel her breath on his leg. He looked right over her and then walked away.

"Black on black! No one can see me because it's so dark and I blend in!" she thought, glad that she had grabbed a black robe. As long as she was wearing her robe she was invisible. As soon as the guard was out of sight she headed over to a humoungous tree growing near the castle wall. She climbed it quickly up [Double huh?].

********************
Whew! What a close call. Quite the nail biter, right?

I tried to stay out of the story and not interject my current thoughts, so that you could truly experience The Magic Ring as it was meant to be experienced, but couldn't resist. I have to give myself kudos though, because there were about a million other things I wanted to point out. Like how Sandra gets so "fed up" with her brother treating everyone badly but doesn't bat an eye at stealing from her maid. I think I'll refer to her as a multi-dimensional character. And I'm going to assume that the maid had really nice clothes, and these tattered rags were in the back of the closet.

I was going to type more, but I actually laughed so hard that I have a cramp, and I think I'm going to have to go and lay down. First, I will walk into the bedroom. Then, I will pull the covers back. I will sit down on the bed and then I will lay down. Then I will pull the covers up.

I'm reminded of an exercise we did in science class (the same year that I wrote this story...) where we had to write out the steps of making a peanut butter sandwich and then one of our classmates took our instructions and followed them exactly. So, if you didn't explicitly state that you should open the jar of peanut butter before inserting the knife, the student would poke the jar with the knife and then have to stop. My instructions were fantastic, but obviously that lesson bled into other aspects of my life, because I am very explicit here with everyone one of Sandra's moves. Spoiler alert: She's a robot who needs me to tell her every exact action to take (not really).

I hate to admit that I still revert to this same style when I write today, but I like to think of it more as an outline. A way to get the action down before I go back and add the rich descriptions and characters. I think this is also where being in a writing group with more experience writers is so helpful. Hearing how they approach scenes can help me think of unique and interesting ways to tackle mine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Updates of a writer

When I started this blog, my intent was to chronicle my “journey of a writer.” Or, as more commonly known, the trials and tribulations of those of us trying to put words on a page, and make them interesting enough that someone might want to chip in a few dollars to get to read them (The whole thing seems like a really weird concept when you spell it out, right? That someone would want to pay to hear what I have to say. Most days I can’t pay people to listen to me!)

Anyway, I’ve noticed that lately my posts have gotten away from that original intent. But for good reason: I’m just trucking. That’s it. No major updates. No drastic life changes. No massive announcements. I’m working, slow and steady. But now, as I’m nearing the end of the first draft of Power Trio, I’m starting to get excited.

Even that sounds like a bigger deal than it is, because even though the first draft is almost done, I’m nowhere near the end of the road. I haven’t been writing for long, and the more I go back and read the first part of Power Trio, the more I realize that there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of work to be done. The best part, though, is realizing how much I’ve grown in these 100,000 words.

Because I haven’t been so great about sharing my progress, I wanted to provide an update tonight (even though I hope to provide a major announcement about finishing my first draft soon).

My progress, to date, is as follows:
Power Trio first draft file: 95,390
Messy incomplete word vomit: 2,234

Word counts are kind of meaningless, so it probably provides more insight to say that the messy file only contains two chapters. Two more chapters. That's it. When I clean them up, plump them up, and put a little mascara on them (so they’re ready for the world), I’ll move them over the Power Trio file. Then, it’ll be time to celebrate!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Biting off more than I can chew

I'm on a roll with Power Trio. Only 8 more pages of garbled mess to sift through until I can officially say that I have finished the first draft. So, with this entire day free, what better to do than work, right? But then I had this great idea... I mean I have 15 hours! That's more than enough time to accomplish a bunch of stuff.

I live in a rental house, and when I moved in there was this ugly mirror on the bedroom door. It was curvy and in a whole bunch of pieces that rattled every time I shut the door. I didn't really like it, but it looked like the mirror was attached really well, so I figured I'd just have to live it.

A week ago, I shut the door and I heard something tiny hit the floor. A small little ting, hardly noticeable above the sounds of my two cats chasing each other around. I opened the door and crawled across the floor, but I couldn't find anything. Then, the next day when I shut the door, I heard a much louder crash. One of the mirror panels had fallen, but luckily it didn't break. And, even more good news, it turns out all I had to do to take it down was pop off a few plastic caps. Yay!
To cover the peeling paint!

However, I finally figured out why someone had put the mirror up in the first place:

I wasn't sure what I wanted to put up, so I searched for some options for covering a door. I thought about painting it with chalkboard paint or wrapping fabric around it. Then I found an article about covering a door with French memo boards. Perfect!

So with this huge 15 hours of unplanned Sunday time, I decided to spend a few of them making something to cover the ickiness. Then I'd get right to work on Power Trio. 
They look done, but they still need
the buttons on the bottom right
added to every place the ribbons meet.

Eight hours later, I am still working on these French Memo boards. Things always sounds so easy on paper. I do have Power Trio open right now, and I am going to put in a solid hour or two before bed. These memo boards will have to wait.

Kind of like writing a book, right? I keep reading these stories about people who write a book in two months, edit it in two, then get signed to an agent and published within a year. I'm almost three years from the start of Power Trio. (I can remember because I had the idea during an annual conference that I am about to head to tomorrow morning.)

Reading the instructions for these memo boards, the process sounded so easy, but then once I was into the process I realized it was not going to happen easily. It was going to take work. I had to troubleshoot a few times, but every thing gets me another step closer to finishing! Before long I'll be able to say that I've finished a book and four memo boards! And you guys will be the first to know.

Okay, time to get some editing done. Wish me luck! Hope that you had a great weekend too! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blogfest: The Magic Ring

As part of a super fantastic blogfest in honor of Elizabeth's fantastic fifty followers, I am posting the only story I have ever completed in my entire life, recently discovered in my parents' basement underneath a pile of holiday decorations and dust. I'm actually traveling right now, so I'm not able to post it in its entirety or with the images I had promised, but I will get them up as soon as I can. I was thinking it might be nice to do this as a series, since I don’t want anyone’s eyeballs to erupt into flames from the awfulness.

In order to retain some semblance of dignity, I will not be telling you how old I was when I wrote this, but I will say that it was prior to taken a decent English class. I have left the story "intact" and in its full glory (aka, spelling and grammar errors abound… yes this was the first paragraph. Which also happened to be the entire first page. I love large fonts.). Please to enjoy:


The Magic Ring

Many years ago in a land called Finchton, a young princess, named Sandra, lived with her mother and her brother. She had long, wavy brown hair. Her bangs feel over her face blocking the view of her most striking feature. Her eyes, which seemed to stare right through people, were an almost invisible, crystal blue. They didn’t seem to match with her dark hair and brown tan. Her brother was the one who made her cut her hair to cover her eyes. He thought that when she was with him everyone was looking at her and not him. Her brother, Xander, was king and felt that everything should be his way or nothing at all. Sandra’s father had been the king before, but he disappeared last year while fighting in a war. The Beniffs, a people from a kingdom across the big river, had tried to expand their castle across the river. A war had broken out and it lasted almost a year. The king had been lost, but the Beniffs had retreated. Before the war, Finchton had been a prosperous kingdom, but after King Theo disappear the land fell apart. As soon as the king had been reported missing her brother had taken control of the land. He was an heartless and wicked king. He made the peasants work all day long with no pay and then at the end of every month he taxed them even more. Xander cared nothing for anyone, but himself and all he wanted was money. One day Sandra decided she was fed up with the way her brother was treating everyone. She had never given up the hope that her father was still alive and now, she decided, it was time to see if she could find him. She got a beaded bag made of golden thread from her room and went outside to the shack in the back of her house. This was where the servants kept their tools. She knew that the guards would be watching for intruders on the castle grounds tonight, so she needed a way to sneak by them and over the tall wall that surrounds the castle. She took a rope and a black gardener’s robe, to keep her warm, and hid them in the bag. She snuck back inside and into the map room. She grabbed a map of the forest and a blueprint of the Beniffs castle. Then she snuck back inside and up to her room.




Oh, yes. She did sneak back inside twice! She's super sneaky. Who knows what she was worrying about. And for those of you wondering, the first illustration is a drawing of Sandra. So, you can see those crystal blue as just as soon as I get a hold of a scanner.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Setting Goals

I love goals.  "I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

Okay, that was Douglas Adams, but I actually do love setting goals. I love making lists. I love calculating how far I will get if I... [lose 0.6 pounds a week], [write 750 words a day], [jog 30 minutes every morning]. But here's the thing about setting lists, they don't mean anything unless you stick to them.

I can't actual jog for 30 minutes straight, but I have signed up for the Peachtree Road Race (Atlanta's huge 10K run). And I'm actually training this year, as opposed to other years that I've done it. My goal is to run a significant (>50%) chunk of the race. (I'll keep you updated! I'm on week 1 of a Couch to 5K program.)

After six months, my blog is still a lie. I still haven't actually written a book. But I get closer every day! In high school, I used to reward myself for studying with equally spaced M&Ms. Is there a grown up equivalent? What do you do to help you stick to your plans?

Side note: Netflix on my PS3 is dowwwwwwn! What to do with my life?! Achieve my goals, you say? Nonsense!! (I do realize this is a possible sign that I should open my WIP tonight.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I love the South

After enjoying a sunny, 80 degree day, I went to the first cookout of the season. Summer's here, right? It's official... Dear weather, please don't take this away from me.

Hope you all got to enjoy some great weather as well- no matter where you are.

On a related note, I didn't get any writing or editing done today. No regrets!

Update: And now I am watching Twin Peaks. This show is so strange and fantastic- how have I not seen this before? I like to call this researching, since I'm trying to write a mystery/detective novel. This counts as research. Definitely.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Editing up a storm

I wanted to share a little progress report with everyone:

School of Life
Student: Elizabeth

Science: A+
Math: Incomplete (I still need to finish my taxes!)
Home Economics: C (The laundry is not going to do itself.)
P.E.: B- (Time to hit the gym.) 
Procrastination, with a concentration in TV watching: A++
Blog Updating: B-
Editing: A


That's right- an A in Editing!! Aren't you proud? Feel free to hang it on your refrigerator, I know I will.

I've made some really awesome progress on Power Trio. I'm not sure how other people go about doing this, but here's my approach: I have a document, entitled 'Power Trio', that contains my first draft. I have a second document entitled 'Extra Lines' which is full of 10,000 words of things I wrote in that first draft and then deleted or funny quips or lines I thought of that haven't made it into the actual document. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Yet to be determined. Then, and this one has been the bane of my existence, I have a third document labeled 'Second half- incomplete 11 2010.' Sigh. I work in that documents and move the chapters over to the 'Power Trio' file. Over time 'Second half' shrunk to 'Third third' and now it's hover at about 'Final fifth.'

If all goes well, I'll officially finish the first draft by April! How fantastic!

Also, I have some incredible news to share. I'm always blabbing about how I only recently discovered the world of writing. I was not one of those kids who grew up writing. I couldn't even keep a journal. Instead, I grew up with my chemistry set and my science summer camps (Why, yes, I was a Young Astronaut!). 

But wait! I have stumbled upon a gem of all gems. This is the Holy Grail of Wannabe Writer history. I wrote a story! And I did the illustrations. After reading it and laughing so hard I sobbed, I have decided to share it will you for Elizabeth P.'s upcoming blogfest. You should consider participating too, but definitely come back here on April 1 to join me in celebrating my progress as a writer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Only two things in life are certain

Death and taxes. And the latter is driving me crazy. It's amazing how much it has made me nostalgic for simpler times.

Maybe that's why I write (aka, am trying to write) YA. I'm secretly and intensely jealous of teens because they don't have to pay taxes. Growing up is tough. I remember being 15 years old and wanting nothing more than to be 25. Life seemed sweet for 25 year olds. They could go where ever they wanted, eat whatever they wanted, stay up as late as they wanted... how could life get any better?

Turns out, even when you grow up, you don't get to go wherever you want (it costs too much money), eat whatever you want (it goes straight to your hips), and stay up as late as you want (gotta go to work in the morning- how did 14 year old me not realize that adults had jobs?!).

But, if I want, I can eat ice cream for dinner! And I stay up as late as I want and willingly pay for it in the morning. So even though there are things I miss from those fantastic teen years, I'm happy to be where I am (and will be much happier after April 15).

No matter how old you are, there are things that suck and there are things that completely rock! And what you focus on can make all the difference. So, I'm going to lay back, watch some funny TV, and put off those negative things for a later day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Yay! Contest! Winner!

I'm happy to announce the exciting conclusion of the super sweet Spring contest:

The winner is... Elizabeth Poole! Congratulations!
I have to add that I've been reading her series on How to Write a Novel and learning a ton! For example, I've noticed that I overuse exclamation marks in my writing! Can you believe that!

Elizabeth, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you the list of ARCs (teaser: I've got some strange ones).

Thanks again to everyone for being a part of my journey to writer-dom. I didn't get much editing of Power Trio done last night, but I did a good bit of reading, and I am more convinced than ever that

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Promiscuous writing

You may have noticed the word counts of my current projects (See 'em? Over there on the right). The first-ish draft of Power Trio has been done for a year. I say first-ish, because the first third of the book is probably on draft #3 and the last third of the book is on draft #0.65. At work, I love to edit, but this felt too daunting. I was intimidated and bored at the same time. I needed to walk away. Right when I thought I was done with writing and going to have to find a new hobby, a shiny new idea popped into my head. It was fresh and fun and I was so excited to get to know the new characters. I happily filed Power Trio away in the depths of my computer.
Now, I'm about a third into Forgetting (maybe that's my lucky fraction- 1/3), and I can feel myself slowing down. And lately I've been thinking about Power Trio. I miss those girls. I wonder what they're up to. Do they miss me? I think I'm going to give them a call.

You know, I think it's better like this. Two projects is twice the fun. I can spend time with the one I'm into one day and go home with the other the next night. My boyfriend is lucky I don't feel the same way about men!

I'm off to work on Power Trio for the first time in months- wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Direct Correlation


There is an inverse relationship between how much writing I'm doing and how much reading I'm doing. On a positive note, I've been doing a ton of reading lately! I finally, finally read the Hunger Games. It only took me three years to get around to it. I must confess that the ending was spoiled for me last year, almost immediately after I told this particular person that I had not read the series. That might have had a little to do with my delay in reading the first book, but I'm glad I finally got around to it.

I've not read a lot of dystopian YA lit (as I mentioned in my review of Matched), but I have to say that I"m really enjoying the genre. Maybe it's influenced by my lifelong love of zombies (George A. Romaro is a genius). But I can totally understand why everyone is so into this right now. I like Suzanne Collins dark dystopia where life is hard and survival is not guaranteed. I like Ally Condie's peaceful world, where food and jobs are available, but free thought is discouraged. Both are equally depressing in their own ways. Up next, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies- finally! Or maybe I'll get back to my writing.

Side note: It's not too late to enter my Yay Contest! The soaps smell fantastic- it's all I can to keep from using them myself. I wanted to mention that the journal is a bit on the small side. It's not a full-sized notebook, more of a pocket-sized journal. Well, bigger than a pocket, smaller than a bread box. My stack of ARCs is read and waiting! Good luck, everyone!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yay, Contest!

Wow! I can't believe my blog has hit 20 followers. I've definitely loved learning about each of you through the interwebs. And I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings. I promise to post some more science-related items soon... I know you guys are chomping at the bit for it! I've got a pretty awesome questionnaire in the works that will reveal your inner self with the help of a common flying insect. Wait for it!
   
One of the fabulous prizes

In honor of my fantastic fourth-of-a-fourscore followers (I know, I could have just said score, right? But I love alliteration.. maybe too much.), I have decided to hold my very first contest (I love contests almost as much as alliteration).
  
Because I'm excited for Spring, the prize package includes: 
A fantastic nature-inspired journal, for jotting down your great ideas
 Some Spring-inspired soaps, because they're fruity and fun
And a new book (I have a couple of ARCs and new releases- Winner's Choice)
 
Side view

To win:
All you have to do is be a follower of this blog (new followers are welcome to enter too!) and leave a comment below before midnight on March 3 (March, already?!). On March 4, I'll randomly select one winner with the help of random.org. 

Good luck everyone! Thanks so much for being so encouraging. I can't wait to tell you when I actually finish writing something! You'll be the first to know. 


Monday, February 21, 2011

I Read a Book: The Big Crunch

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman

This was another one of those books that my boyfriend read it first. He proceeded to rave about it and wave it in front of my face repeatedly. I resisted for a bit but picked it up a few days ago. And I loved it. I suppose I need to give him some credit.

The Big Crunch (awesome science reference, btw) follows June and Wes and their dramatic high school relationship. The story is told in four parts (fall, winter, spring, and summer). June is a nomad, whose family moves from city to city. Wes has lived in the same town his whole life and has dated the same girl for years. When June first meets Wes, nothing happens. Not your typical love story, but as these things tend to happen, they are repeatedly drawn to each other and eventual start dating, but then things get complicated.

I loved that the book depicts goofy, realistic love. We follow Wes and June's adventure, from butterflies to realities. I also really like June as a character. She's not the girliest and she's not a helpless romantic, but she wants to find love. I relate to her a bit, having moved so many times while I was growing up; I think it's a very accurate portrayal of what can happen.

The Big Crunch features super short chapters and a narrative rapidly switches focus from June to Wes (even as quickly as every few paragraphs). The style kept me on my toes, and kept my fingers flipping those pages.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Books are not TV Shows

As I sit here, watching the latest episode of Bones, I can't help but think about the differences between books and television shows.

I love Bones. And not just like-love. This is the real deal. This is love-love. After six seasons, I wait eagerly for each new episode. I don't have cable, so I watch on Hulu the day after. The wait is agonizing!

The thing about Bones is, every episode is essentially them same. I'm not blaming Bones; this phenomena (phenomenon?) is not unique to Bones. There are a bazillion crime shows on TV that have been playing the same episode for the last 15 years. I know Booth and Bones are going to catch the bad guy at the end. The scenarios are different, and they've been getting more and more outlandish (Dead girl in a chocolate bar? Really?). But, the killer is always one of the three or four characters introduced early on, but not the one you first think did it.

There is a crazy ensemble cast always going in a million directions. And I happily get sucked into the drama. The tension between Booth and Bones, even after six years, is still interesting (Although, come on! Give us what we want!).

Maybe it's not fair, but if Bones was a book, I think I'd hate it. (Also, I do recognize that Bones is based on a series of books that I have never read. Maybe I should read them before I decide that I hate them...)

When I read a book, I want to see change. I want characters to grow and learn. And If I were to read a book series over the course of six years, I would expect the romantic tension between two characters to be resolved. In one way or another, something would change. How is it I can watch a show for six years with the same "will they, won't they" drama?

I think gist is that I expect more from books. There something about the printed word that elevates... I can process trash on my TV, but when it comes from a book, my brain shuts down.

And those concludes my random thoughts for the evening. Good night all! Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Celebrating Successes

Presentation of Doom: No longer impending, and not as doom-filled as I had expected. I was a little nervous. I got a bit teased about my blushing, but I got laughs where I tried and a lot of people seemed to enjoy. I even had some requests for copies (ultimate nerd compliment!).

Forgetting Yesterday: I hit 25,000 words today (super yay!), and I love the story and my MC just as much as the day we met. Maybe even more. I feel good about this one. I'm in it for the long haul, even when the times get tough. We've been taking it slow, but I think I'm going to start to add a little pressure and speed it up! P.S. The title is so tentative, words cannot describe. I actually kind of hate it but I felt like it needed a name.

Computer: Battery dying. Going to watch Greek in bed. Good night.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Read a Book: Matched

Remember that time I was going to read a YA book and post a review every week or so? Good, neither do I.

But I am super thrilled to finally post another review. This time I read Matched by Ally Condie.

Cassia is a happy peon, living under the watchful eye of The Society. She works hard at her job as a "sorter," enjoys the same three free-rec activities when she gets a chance to hang with her friends, and anxiously awaits the big day when she’ll meet the one. Except, Cassia doesn’t get to choose who to love. The Society takes care of everything from what its members eat to who they marry.

Confession time: I am "streets behind" when it comes to dystopian YA lit (any other Community fans out there?). I may be the only person on the face of the planet who has not read The Hunger Games yet. So, I can’t comment on any similarities/differences, but what I can comment on is how much I enjoyed Matched.

The book has two plots running in parallel: one, a teen romance, and the other, a story of a girl learning to question the world she lives in. The romance is a typical boy next door-girl-boy from the wrong side of the tracks love triangle. It's not earth-shattering, but it's entertaining. In my opinion, the stronger arc focuses on Cassia's growing curiosity about why things are they way they are. There were times I wanted to grab her and smack her and other times when I pitied her. The writing is beautiful, and I am dying to find out what happens next (second in the series due in Nov 2011). The ending is a cliffhanger, and those usually annoy me, but it works for Matched. It reminded me a lot of the end of the Golden Compass (book, not the movie).

Hardcover, 366 pages 
Published November 30, 2010

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Impending Presentation of Doom

T minus 10 days. 

I have to give an hour-long presentation at work on February 7, and I am so not looking forward to it. I love my work, and I am completely comfortable with the material. Actually, if you and I were at a party and you mistakenly backed into a corner, I would instantly pin you there and talk about surveillance and infectious diseases in the United States for two hours, easy. But the thought of getting up in front of an audience makes me want to throw up, and then get up at the podium and throw up again.

I've done presentations before, but nothing as long as this one or to this kind of audience (it's a big group of way smart scientists). Imagining them in their underwear is not an options.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

I think I would feel better if I could get my slideset finalized, but I keep tinkering. I need to stop toying with the words and start practicing them. It's like writing a story- you can edit forever, but at some point you have to decide it's done. I've got tomorrow and next week to get the words set and to practice in front of any willing volunteers.

At least the hour includes time for Q&A, so really it's only 45 minutes. But, let's be honest, if I wanted to be a public speaker I would have become a politician or... some other career that requires a lot of talking. Salesman! MBA Business-y worker.

What about you, my fantastic bloggees? Anything you're dreading in the next few weeks? If you have to do something you hate (like, say public speaking), how do you get through it?


And can any of you explain to me why, when I have an impending deadline, this song gets stuck in my head? I hear the song in deepest part of my brain, and then I think of Gob from Arrested Development and I laugh hysterically. (Fun fact about me: This was my ringtone for the better part of two years. Everyone always thought it was the song from Rocky.)