Friday, September 30, 2011


I know. I've been missing and I'm really sorry.

Truth be told, I'm having a tough go of just about everything lately. And there are so many things I want to blog about but almost none of the ideas have to do with writing. Rather, it's more like one big pity party over here and I'm trying to spare all of you and not be some Debby Downer who puts all her personal stuff online.

But if I can't put it here, in a safe online community of my peers, what's the point of having a blog, right?

So here's the truth: I've been spending a lot of time hoping someone important to me changes. Yes, it's a boy and yes, the logical side of me knows that this is ridiculous. People don't change. And yet, I keep hoping that if I just continue to show him support and continue to be the "Totally Amazing Person," he'll have to see it sooner or later, right?

Wrong. I know that's not how this works but lately, EmotionalMe (EM) has been driving this car, not LogicalMe (LM). EM had been trying like hell to write the most supportive emails and be the bestest listening buddy ever, often at the expense of LM who is currently being suppressed with Jameson, Camel Ultra lights, and comfort food. EM has realized she's not very good at talking face to face, but she can craft quite the email expressing support and well wishes while secretly dreaming up the most romantic-yet-unrealistic scenarios. Now if only she'd shut the hell up before she makes us all look like desperate sots...

A few more days, friends. I ask that you bear with me just a bit longer. I know I missed Banned Books Week and my friends' blog fests. I'm so sorry, guys. I even have writing/reading/literary stuff to share, but that all lives with LM and she's currently unavailable.

In the meantime, I leave you with this tune from the new Christina Perri album that leaves me a crying mess moved. And wanting to don my old bridesmaids dresses and twirl around in the privacy of my living room, but that's for another day...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fun with photos: where I write

Random things I learned this weekend:
  1.  A clean kitchen is an awesome way to start the work week.
  2. When your cream of tomato basil soup calls for finely diced garlic, finely dice the garlic. Go ahead and take the extra few seconds because when you don't, you end up with large chunks of garlic in your soup that leave you with a gross taste in your mouth.
  3. Any sad or frustrating thing on your mind can be healed with a cup of tea. Preferably Irish Breakfast.
  4. Speaking of the Irish, I'm going back this fall for 10 days. Just need to figure out the dog sitter situation.
  5. If your leg muscles hurt from your workout on Thursday, pushing them to the limits again on Saturday doesn't make you a hero. It makes you walk funny.
Okay, this is becoming tedious. Here's what I really want you to know. This is a big deal, so are you ready? Brace yourselves...

I finally finished Game of Thrones over the weekend. Guys, this has taken me over two months. It has been countless lunch hours and 30-minute increments on the stationary bike at the gym. This one book has consumed more time than any book in my history, not including the ones I've written.

That's right. The longest book EVER. And now it's done. I feel like celebrating!

Instead, I have to get to work. I have many writerly/book related things I'm juggling all at once. My NaNo novel outline, my TBR pile, the book I'm reading for my friend, my two other NaNo novels, blog entries, and the writing lesson I'm supposed to have ready for my Tuesday night crit group. Lots of things to juggle.

In an effort to get my writing space ready for November, I spent many hours this weekend upstairs. And because I feel like sharing, here are some pics. One is my writing desk and the other is my writing bookshelf. Take a gander...

Why yes, that is a piece of chocolate cake the size of my hand on my desk. Why do you ask? Don't judge. I made it with egg beaters and unsweetened applesauce, ergo I can eat as much as I want.

Okay, here's my office/baseball paraphernalia/scrapbooking room. The desk is from the 1990s and is held together with a prayer and possibly duct tape. The chair is made of pine and the cushion you see there doesn't help. Some day when I'm all grow'd up, I'm gonna buy a big kids desk and a black high back chair. With wheels. It's going to be epic.

Some things on my desk include a stack of CDs, the ever important Mug of Something Warm (Irish Breakfast tea today), my space calendar which will soon be destroyed and taped on the stark white wall above my computer, a plethora of candles, a picture of an elephant because they're my favorite, and a bunch of post-y notes to remember stuff.

Here's a pic of the wobbly bookshelf to the right of my desk. Notice the imminent safety hazard of the extension cord holding my computer plug. What you can't quite see is the outlet itself barely hanging in the wall. The Eiffel Tower lamp is sketchy at best, adding to the electrical nightmare.

The black boom box (yeah, that's right, boom box) is from the 1980's and still works like a charm. If anyone needs a mix tape, let me know. Unfortunately, there's no CD player, so I have the grey one for that function. Unfortunately, the grey CD player doesn't have a jack for my headphones (see them next to the computer in the above pic? Yeah, only the left side works...), so when I want to listen to a CD with my writing headphones but without my internet distraction device computer, I have to use the grey one. It's complicated.

All my writing handbooks are on the top shelf along with all the drafts of my first WIP. The 2nd shelf is for stuff. I'm not too sure what's there. Oh, it looks like paperwork from my 2nd book. Hmm... I should finish that.

The third shelf holds all my journals. Here's a closer look of the journals minus the one that is tall enough and is hard covered so it's holding up the second shelf. Classy, I know. The journals are actually in a somewhat chronological order too, which is kind of neat. There's one that I can't open because I can't remember the code to the lock. Naturally, that one is NOT one my dear dog chewed to within an inch of its life. However, you can see there are plenty that served as a mid-afternoon snack for my dog back when he was a pup.

I never thought I'd really go through my old journals again yet this past week I've do so twice. The first time was to see what I wrote concerning 9/11. The fear and the anger were pretty clear on those pages. The second time was a trip down memory lane when an old relationship ended. There was something calming about reading back to when that ended. All the despair and questioning was okay--I came through alright on the other side. Good things to keep in mind.

So if you're keeping track at home, the number of broken things in my writing room = 5.
The number of journals filled with the trials and tribulations of yours truly = 14.

NaNoWriMo, here I come!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

General housekeeping

Happy Sunday, friends!

Okay, I know. It's been an awfully long time since my last blog. Life happened and before you know it, it's 10pm on any given work night and I have to go to bed, often at the expense of my blogging time. Where does my time go? That's a question for another day. For now, I'm back and I'm planning ahead (gasp!).

Over the course of the past few weeks (read: months) I have received some fun awards and I haven't had a chance to go through them and play by the rules. So dear blog awarders, my apologies. I'll do them below--I promise!

Three (yes, THREE!) of my blogging friends are hosting blogfests in the coming weeks. Please take a moment to stop by and check them out!

Sommer at Tell Great Stories is hosting MonsterFest 2011 during the month of October, though registration is already open. If you haven't heard of Sommer Leigh or read her blog--specifically the College of Blogging Series, well, then I don't know what to tell you. You're missing out. That's all. But you have to check out MonsterFest 2011 if only for the freakin' amazing buttons and because who doesn't want to be part of the League of Monstrologists?

Claudie at ClaudieA is hosting the Superheroes of Science Blogfest, which celebrates the great scientists of our work, whether imaginary or not. Awesome, right? Do you have a scientist in your WIP? Someone who tinkers with genetics or computers or diseases? Yeah, I thought so. Then sign up for the Superheroes of Science blogfest--you might even win a copy of SB Steward-Laing's newly released e-book, Forgotten Gods!

Margo at Urban Psychopomp is celebrating her first year blog anniversary with the I AM LEGEND Blogfest. For one day only--September 29, 2011--you can share with the blogoverse what is EPIC LEGEND WIN about your WIP or your favorite book. It might be a favorite creature or a hero that is so freakin' amazing that you can't help but wonder how to be him/her for Halloween (cough, Starbuck, cough). Tell us all about it by signing up on the linky list and grabbing yet another cool button!

The Follower Project
Do you know Matthew MacNish? Or, I should ask, do you Matt, better known as Yoda in your Google friend reader? If not, go make his acquaintance tout suite! Matt is aiming for 1000 blog followers (yeah, a thousand) before he starts to query his work. While he realizes there's no real correlation between his 1000 followers goal and starting the query process, Matt is going to try anyway. It gives him something to do. So please, if you haven't checked out The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment yet, take a moment to do so. And if you don't know how to follow someone's blog, read up on Matt's posts this week about how to follow other bloggers!

As promised... AWARDS!

Ms Saba over at Of Thoughts and Words gave me the Versatile Blogger award, along with requiring me to tell you 7 unique things about me. In no apparent order, here you go:

1. My dog is currently whining for me to feed him. Someone call the ASPCA.
2. My writing headphones only work on the left side. Annoying.
3. I'm a Leo but don't act like one.
4. My kitchen is clean for the first time in WEEKS, people. Weeks.
5. I'm working on my 2011 NaNo outline right now.
6. I am a professional napper.
7. I'm currently watching (and enjoying!) The Last Avatar.

Mel Fowler at Adventure Writes was kind enough to pass along the Liebster Award, given to people with under 200 followers. Thanks, Mel!

Sarah McCabe from The Aspiring Sub-creator awarded me the Blog on Fire award, complete with ridiculous questions to answer. :) Here goes...
1. Are you a rutabaga?  Yes, of course. Aren't you?
2. Who is your current crush? Oh... this is hard. There's the guy from this summer, or the cute guy I see in the parking lot during the week. Clearly, I need to walk around with my eyes up more often. Oh! ALCIDE! How could I forget the hottest man on tv? Go ahead and Google Alcide and True Blood. You're welcome.
3. Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile. K. Let me see what I can find...
4. When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato? Friday night for taco night!
5. Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise? I refuse to use a vehicle navigation system. You should know where you're going. I know how to identify my place in a city or town based on where the sun is in the sky or by landmarks. I hate being lost but because I study maps, I rarely am.
6. What is the weirdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do? Um, the "worst" job was as a server and I actually really liked it. So I think I'm lucky on this one!
7. Where da muffin top at? I don't answer ridiculous questions that end in a preposition but if you truly want to know where my muffin top is, it's right around my tummy. Where's yours?
8. What author introduced you to your genre? I worship at the authorial altar of JK Rowling.
9. Describe yourself using obscure Latin words. Procerus, puella, scriptor

Dierda Eden-Coppel granted me the beautiful Powerful Woman Writer award. Thank you, Dierda!

Please take a moment to check out Dierda's blog, A Storybook World because it is fascinating.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Campaigner Challenge

Rachael Harrie posted the First Campaigner Challenge! Here are the rules:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

I've never tried flash fiction before. Something about it intimidates me. However, the only way to get over your fear is to try it, right? Here's my story, weighing in at exactly 200 words. *high five*

I hope you enjoy my first attempt at flash fiction. If so, please feel free to vote for it over on Rachel's blog. I'm number 264!


The door swung open in the wind, the force of the gust taking him by surprise.

She froze, unsure of what to do, what to say, or how to feel.

“It’s good to see you,” he opened. She looked down, hoping her eyes wouldn’t betray her strong appearance. Not again. Not here.

“You too,” she mumbled. There was so much she yearned to say but the words were trapped in her brain, only to be unlocked after the moment passed. Later she would wonder, "How could you do this to me? Do you still think of me? Don't you miss me as much as I miss you?"

She watched him. He looked more vulnerable than she remembered and then she saw. He was afraid. The man who hurt her so deeply, who embarrassed her so severely, was afraid. The revelation brought small satisfaction.

“Here you go, thanks,” she said quietly, handing him the box.

He stared intently into her eyes, his defenses kicking in. “What? So this is it?” he challenged.

“I guess so,” she said, feeling the familiar prickling of inevitable tears. Please leave, she silently begged.

He turned, storming out of her room and the door swung shut.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at flash fiction. If so, please feel free to vote for it over on Rachel's blog. I'm number 264!

Monday, September 5, 2011

My scary new idea

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a great weekend. It was a 3-day weekend to celebrate Labor Day here in the States. While I love a long weekend, it's also bittersweet since Labor Day represents the (un)official end of summer, rings in the "back to school" atmosphere, and is the last real holiday some of us will get until Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, I brewed the fancy coffee and set up shop in my office. I tried to ignore my ancient (read: broken) desk and hard-as-a-rock chair and focused instead on my notes and my story.

About 30 minutes into writing, a wild and crazy idea hit me. Well, wild and crazy for me.

You see, I'm still very much a newbie writer. I struggle with character development, story arcs, world building, and plot points. So when the idea of writing in both past and present tense popped into my head, I tried to push it down. Alas, it was too late. The idea grew legs and before long, I shut down the computer and started furiously scribbling notes in two columns on a sheet of paper, one for Past Events and one for Present Events. I started plotting out how I could incorporate past into the narrative of the present, which needed to happen first to make the most sense, and what past events were suddenly not necessary.

I'm still not sold on this idea. I still call myself a new writer even though I have two books done. This feels like I'm jumping into the deep end of the Real Writer's Pool hoping I can doggy paddle with the best of them.

And, because I'm kind of insane, I'm also trying my hardest to do this book in Scrivener even though I have the older version. I recently read Justine Larbalestier's amazing blog explaining how she wrote Liar in Scrivener and I was sold. I knew I had to give this software program another shot.

So there you go. I'm playing around with a totally foreign (to me) novel concept AND am trying it out on Software Not Named Word. le gasp

If anyone has read a blog or better yet--a book!--that uses this technique of dropping in past events/backstory within the actual "current" events, please let me know. I realize this sounds kind of silly since just about every book has some element of backstory, but specifically, I'm looking for GOOD examples. I keep thinking back to The Intern's two blog posts on How Books Work: The Hunger Games (parts 1 and 2). I think the Hunger Games books are a great example of when and how to use backstory, though right now I'm envisioning my backstory sections to be larger, almost like chapters.

How do you incorporate backstory in your writing? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Where's Your Head At?

Yes, I know. I just used a preposition at the end of a sentence. Sue me. It's a song.

Truth be told, my head has been massively preoccupied lately. A few weeks back was Birthday Week and to say it was a disaster of epic proportions would be an understatement. But here's the kicker: I allowed it to be.

My heart was slightly deflated (not broken, no one has that power over me) and my spirits dashed. Someone close to me shared some news that I was not expecting and as a result, left me incredibly embarrassed, sad, reeling with anger at myself for not being smart enough to know better, and brick by brick, rebuilding my emotional wall.

But you know what's worse? I haven't written a damn thing since then. Not one word. I allowed this person to have such an effect (is it affect or effect? I never know...) on my energy level, my spirit, and my creativity, and that makes me even more sad, but this time sad for myself. Commence pity party. *throws confetti*

However, since I'm nothing if not a trooper, so help me God, I will be okay. I keep telling myself, "Give it one more week and you'll feel better." Then when that week is up, I repeat it. Sooner or later I will feel better, less like the fool, and more like a woman in charge of her own life.

What really bothers me is how supportive some of my friends have been, but I've been too consumed with self-hatred and sadness to really hear them. So friends, if you are reading this (and you know who you are), I love you and will mend all broken fences. You have been trying to drill the truth into this thick skull of mine and it has likely been frustrating. But I'm listening and composting on it. Please trust that.

As a new Campaigner (see this post for more info), I've been making the rounds and supporting people in my group. I was fortunate enough to come across Margo Berendsen's blog, Writing at High Altitude. Her recent post entitled, "Don't Play it Safe" hit me right in the gut. She quoted from another blog (you following?) one of their unusual writing tips:
Relate to people. The past decade has totally sucked. For everyone. The country has been in post-traumatic stress syndrome since 9/11 and 2008 only made it worse. I’ve gone broke a few times during the decade, had a divorce, lost friendships, and have only survived (barely) by being persistent and knowing I had two kids to take care of, and loneliness to fight. Nobody’s perfect. We’re all trying. Show people how you are trying and struggling. Nobody expects you to be a superhero.
You hear that, self? "It's okay to tell people you are trying and struggling." It's okay to be imperfect, to be emotional, and to be human. But it's not okay to be mean to yourself and to judge your own sense of worth against ANYBODY else.

One more time:

So that's where my head has been. In an effort to feel better, I am clearing this weekend of plans. I'm picking up Season One of The Last Airbender (yes, the cartoon) from the library, stocking my fridge with brain food (strawberries, cream cheese, bagels, toast, good coffee, salad, Jameson), and will write this weekend.

I will turn off my internet access while I'm writing and will listen to classical music.
I will forgive myself now for not doing all my chores.
I will write something.
I will not cry.

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