Thursday, April 28, 2011


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).


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.