Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! 
I'm up and getting at 'em at 7:30 on Sunday morning.  Whatever.  I don't have to be anywhere until church 11:30, but then the day kind of takes off, so I guess if I have any hope of quiet time, this is my chance.  Besides, It usually takes a good four hours worth of coffee to keep me awake in church.  If it was November, I could be writing my NaNo Novel, but I'm holding out.  Although it's November somewhere, New Zealand, right? 

The kids carved the pumpkins last night, without any help from Mom and Dad (Thank you, God, no trips to the ER for stitches!) and I roasted up some pumpkin seeds.  I've got a trip to a corn maze with the girl scouts this afternoon, one kid has a birthday party to go to, and the daughter will be trick-or-treating with her friends.
I have some sewing work I need to get done this week, so hopefully I can fit that in with my NaNo-ing.  It's machine embroidery, so as long as the machine doesn't clog up on me, I can plug my laptop in next to the machine and write and sew at the same time.  I love multitasking!  I guess I'd better budget a few minutes to clear space in my sewing room for my computer.

I need to be disciplined about staying out of my ToBeRead pile for the next thirty days.  I have SO many books that I want to read.  I finally decided to read Outlander,  which I guess every woman in the universe but me has already read.  I am about 3/4 of the way through, which means I only have about 500 more pages to go...surely I can get through that before midnight tonight, between cleaning, parties, sewing, passing out candy, and passing out from eating candy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How fast can I write?

I've been reading alot of blogs lately about how to prepare for NaNoWriMo:  get some good tea, get some good music, lay in a few crockpot meals (I rarely cook anyway, so that's not really a problem, my kids are really good at macaroni and cheese as long as someone remembers to buy milk).  It occurs to me to wonder if it is even physically possible to do this, to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I've figured that if I am going to build in some 'off' days, I need to think about maybe gettting in 2,000 words a day.  How much of the day does this actually use?

 I just whipped up a scathing email in reply to a "discussion" I had with someone, and I wrote 103 words in 4 minutes, during which I stopped twice to reply to emails from my boss.  So if the "reply to my boss" break is cancelled out by the "I'm really mad so I'm typing twice as fast as normal" effect, then that means I can write 1545 words in an hour if I dont' stop to actually think about what I am writing.  Really? 

So that means that I need 32 hours to write 50K words.  Shoot.  I'll just take a couple of mental illness, er sick days and be done with it! 

Somehow I suspect that it's not going to be so straightforward.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Future of the English Major

A friend posted this video of an English Major asking for letter of reccomendation for grad school on her facebook page yesterday.  I don't know if the link will work or not, but I haven't had enough coffee yet this morning to download the whole video and then re-upload it so the little movie screen will show up here. 

Anyway, the video is pretty funny.  I was an English major for all of three weeks my freshman year.  I loved English, but decided that science would be SO much more lucrative...bwah ha ha ha!  I guess maybe science would pay more if I'd sucked it up enough to study and go to med school (although I know that's not all it's cracked up to be, either).  I'm kind of glad that I didn't major in English. That way I still like it.  I don't get to be bitter, teaching at a community college in BFE Alaska (not that this would be a bad thing, necessarily!).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Following Blogs I Follow

I am learning at least as much about blogging and tweeting as I am about writing this month.  So if I  officially follow a blog, it won't automatically show up on my blog list, but my little picture shows up on the follower section of the blogs I follow, right?  And what does being an official 'follower' really do for me?  Do I get updates when those of you that I follow post something new?  Apparently not.  There is probably a button I can toggle somewhere. 

Did you ever notice that if you repeat a word too many times that it stops making sense, and you are no longer certain that you spelled "follow" correctly, or if it's even a word? 


I was going to write about heroes, but I think I'll just go back to obsessing over whether or not I should go to the public NaNoWriMo kick off thing being held in my area.  If I go, what should I wear?  Should I wear my glasses so I'll look smarter and people will think I'm a real writer?  Nope.  Not going.  Too many decision to make. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

NaNoWriMo-- National No Writing Month?

Just kidding.  I know what  NaNoWriMo is.  I'm not THAT much of a noob.  I think I might sign up and give it a shot.  What have I got to lose?  Some sleep or some time that I could spend vacuuming (oh, wait, I never do that, so it's not like I have to reallocate any housework).

I revisited the snowflake method concept of plotting today, so I'll start with that and spend the rest of the week working on summary/synopsis stuff so that I can hit the ground running on Monday. 

In other writing type stuff, I have been thinking alot about "voice".  I realize that I write in ...'s WAY more than maybe I ought.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a 'yellow' brain and am pretty good at thinking in the abstract and seeing the big picture, but that I don't always finish sentences when I talk.  Apparently, I don't finish them when I write, either.  I always thought I was safe as a writer because I believe I write more clearly than I speak.  But now I'm not so sure...  See!?  There it is again! 

Now that I'm aware of my tendency to leave thoughts dangling, I'm a wreck.  Half the time I can't open my mouth to tell anyone anything because I'm afraid I'll get stuck in the middle of a thought. The rest of the time I ramble. I jump from one idea to another without warning, and have gotten even worse about starting a story and then forgetting the point of the story.  I get caught up in the side information that I think I have to share.  Oh GAWD!  I don't want to be one of those people!  It's either my yellow brain or early dementia...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Used Book Grab Bag

My favorite used book store, The Book Rack is having a semi annual book sale this weekend.  I ran in Friday night between dropping off my daughter to get her ankle broken (more on that later) and fetching my husband from the airport.  Their books are normally half off of the cover price, but this weekend, they were 3/4 off, with tons of clearance stuff, like 10 Harlequin oldies for $1.  They also had big brown paper grab bags for $5.  I bought one, just because I can't pass by a bargain, even it it's not a bargain that I need.  How fun!

I got alot of previous best sellers:  Jonathan Kellerman, Danielle Steele ("Irresistible Forces".  I'm not usually a Steele reader, but this one, naturally, I've read), Catherine Coulter, all kinds of stuff.  "Ordinary People" by Judith Guest. 

What I'm most excited about is the handful of historicals from 30+ years ago.  I've got one by Patricia Matthews, Love's Golden Destiny, OMG, these are the first romances I read. My friends and I, reeking of Love's Baby Soft, read "Love's Studliest Hero of the Universe" and dreamt of white knights.  Sigh.  LGD is about, so far, a spunky single woman venturing into the Klondike Goldrush region to make her fortune (?! Really?  Taking portraits in NYC wasn't doing it for her?) as a photographer.  She's got her spoiled flirty older sister along. I think she met the hero a few pages ago when she hired a teamster out from under him. 

It has been so long since I've read any of these books that I can't wait to be able to compare this to the 'contemporary' historicals that I've read over the past years, most of which are Regencies. 

I should have some extra reading time over the next week or so, sitting in doctors' waiting rooms.   It looks like my daughter may have broken her ankle getting out of a friend's car the other night.  She got her foot stuck in the seatbelt and landed on the other foot...heard a snap...owie.  We had x-rays at the ER and she's in a kind of a half-cast splint thing until we see the orthopedist on Monday.  They didn't see a normal break, but think there is something about the growth plate that needs to be addressed.  She's doing pretty well when she's not worried about everyone thinking she's a big faker.  I'm pretty sure that if there's a cast, her credibility will be safe.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Friday!

Wow!  I logged on here this morning to find that I have a whole bunch of followers now, thanks to Roni Loren's tweet yesterday.  How cool, in an intimidating sort of a way.  I clicked on everyone who is on my follower list now, and checked their blogs, and clicked on the blogs they follow,  I'm REALLY not going to get much writing done now.  Of course, if I could lay off the science stuff (as in, my day job) I could probably do more blog following...I'm sure my boss won't mind.  No, I'm not sure.

I guess I'm also going to have to learn how to tweet.  I have been resistant, mostly because I don't generally think I have anything short and sweet to tweet (and noone really cares if I "Went to the bathroom again because I drank four diet Cokes in the past hour").  I think I have to figure out that whole hashtag thing (and I'm not even sure I'm using the right terminology).  Is there a "Twitter for Dummies" website? 

Oops, my fifteen minute science break is up, better get back to work before the boss comes in...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Congratulations, Roni Loren!

Okay, so Roni Loren is currently my only blog follower.  Therefore she's my best friend in the whole world.  Okay, not really; I haven't met her in person, and it would probably be a little creepy to start any rumors.  Although, maybe noone else has even visited my embryonic blog, so maybe I can just say whatever I want and it would only be creepy to Roni.  But that isn't my goal here. 

 ANYWAY, she just got her very firstest book deal, and since I've been following HER  blog for quite some time, I feel emotionally invested.  So CONGRATS, Roni! 

Early 2012 seems like a really long time to wait to see your book in print, but the older I get, the faster time goes, so I'll get back to my own project while I wait.

Sure Happy It's Thursday!

I went to a parenting seminar the other evening where we took these personality tests to show us how different people are hardwired to think and work differently.  I've always known that I am a little on the ADD side, but it was comforting to know that I am not alone.  I also learned that, while I almost never speak in complete sentences, and when stressed lose the ABILITY to finish a sentence, I am really good at making inferences, seeing the big picture and using metaphors.  I am the opposite of the linear thinking, list making outliner. 

Maybe this is why I am having so much trouble with the whole plotter vs. pantser thing.  I think I should be a plotter, because I know that I am not very organized, and plotters must be great at putting together outlines and working on their novels in a logical order.  I suspect they get alot more work done and alot more work published, because they are just more on the ball.  However.  Since I am apparently destined to be a pantser, I'm trying to embrace that part of me and not shy away.  I have written down alot of scene ideas, and even have them organized in OneNote in semi-sequential order, with notes about the purpose of the scene.  But I'm not going to kill myself by forcing myself to work on the Cute Meet scene when the scene were my H/H begin to open up to each other is demanding to be written.

I tried this last night.  I hadn't written anything for a week, and kept finding excuses to avoid starting because I feel guilty for not being more organized about it.  But I made myself sit down and open the file, promising myself I could quit after fifteen minutes if it wasn't working for me.  I clicked on the first unwritten scene, and just couldn't deal with it.  Bleh.  I'm not sure what happens there.  So I clicked a little farther down the list, and started writing, and before I knew it, two hours had passed.    Huh!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What is romantic?

My writing has been moving forward in fits and starts, sometimes in a linear fashion, sometimes doing some time travel back and forth between scenes.  I got to a place the other day where my hero pulled out his sensitive side, and I totally stalled out. Just froze.  How am I going to write this without sounding all gooey?

I decided it was time for some research (or maybe just a movie break), and went to Blockbuster.  My hero is a soldier and I've decided he should have PTSD.  Apolcalypse Now wasn't in (and really...there wasn't a whole of sensitive stuff in there) and they didn't have An Officer and a Gentleman (which might lean too far towards sensitive and away from tough guy).  I wound up with Full Metal Jacket  and The Messenger.  Okay, I know, I know, Stanley Kubrick movies are probably not the best source of romantic scenes, but I bet there is a wealth of insight into PTSD-inducing activity in there.  I haven't seen FMJ in many years, I plan on getting to it tomorrow night when I have a kid at home who can help me work the Blu-Ray DVD player. 

I have to tell you, though, that The Messenger was awesome.  It's about this guy (Will Montgomery, played by Ben Foster) who is injured in Iraq and has to spend the last three months of his enlistment doing the casualty notification thing with Woody Harrelson.  Will has to decide what he's going to do with his life after this.  He's already all twisted up because his high school sweetheart has moved on, and then he gets a little obsessed with a widow he has had to notify.  There is no nooky between Will and Olivia.  Not even a lip lock. But there is this scene where they are in her kitchen, and they are getting ready to "go there" but she's just not ready.  They are kind of slow dancing without music and their faces just keep getting almost there, almost to the spit swapping vicinity, and then, Oh!  She backs off.  And then, almost, almost, come on...NO!   Gawd, what a great scene!  Needless to say, it worked for me.

And can I also just say that Woody Harrelson totally rocked as the crusty alcoholic senior officer, also struggling with a demon or two.  He was channeling his inner Duvall.  I'm a bit of a Woody fan from way back because I sat one table over from him in a bar in like...1990.  He got up and sang Hound Dog with the band. We are tight, me and Woody.  Practically related.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Facebook Filters

Okay, so I have to share something that popped up on a friend's facebook update this afternoon, it's a  mom filter for facebook .  I suspect that my kids would really like this, since I am one of those pain-in-the-ass moms who comments when her kids say something inappropriate. I feel really grateful that I haven't been unfriended by them yet!  My mom is also on facebook, but she's never actually ON, so I tend to forget to watch myself, not that it matters, because she's pretty cool.  My mother-in-law hasn't signed up yet. My sister-in-law keeps trying to talk her into it, but really, let's not encourage that. I would friend her, of course, and then I would forget she's there and say something about that time in college, when The Big Guy and I...well, you know.  I would have to de-friend all the rest of my family, because I would have to expand my "no friending of  students or coworkers" rule to include family.  And then how would I know what time Thanksgiving dinner is, since noone ever sends me a real email (or God forbid, a phone call)?

And while I'm thinking about Facebook, don't you just love that the word "friend" is now a verb?  Do you think that Facebook has devalued friendship?  I mean, if you have 4,564 friends, how can you ever have a birthday party?  You'd feel terrible for not inviting all of your friends, but there is no way you could say, "Hey, only friends #1-76 are invited".  Maybe Facebook needs to have an inner circle level of friendship.  Then you can have a "Friends who only like me because I'll be their neighbor in Farmville" category, too.

I friended some of my son's friends because they play Farmville (from which I have retired.  I was getting out of bed at 3 a.m. to harvest virtual carrots so I could buy more green chickens) and I wanted them for neighbors.  My kids were appalled, and I had to make sure I emailed their mother so she wouldn't have me arrested for cougar-osity.   I have to work really hard to pretend not to read what they are posting, because I can't unfriend them.  That would be rude.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Being found by my Muse

 In one of the blogs I follow, Roni Loren posted about how her muse keeps finding her in the shower.  Mine tends to sit in the passenger seat of my car when I drive to work.  This is not very convenient, because it's really tough to make notes, right-handed, while driving in rush hour traffic. 

Well, my muse has expanded his horizons (I know we usually think of the muses as feminine, but really?  My muse has a six pack, a goatee and he's about 6'4").  Last night he was sitting on the side of the tub while I took a bath, reading   Explosive Alliance  by Catherine Mann. Not sure where the title of this book came from, because it really had nothing to do with the story, but I liked the book, and I'm off to find more by this author.  But I'm not writing a review right now.  I'm telling you about my muse.

I was soaking, mercifully covered by bubbles, because, let's face it--my muse is about ten years younger than me and he's spent WAY more time working out than I have, and I'm not ready for him to see me completely naked.  Even though he loves curvy older women.  Anyway.  I was reading away, enjoying the story, and I had an idea for a scene.  It had nothing to do with what I was reading.  It just popped into my head between one line and the next.  So I had to get out of the tub, find a pen and a piece of paper, scribble down some notes, and get back into the tub.  Read another paragraph, and there he was again, saying, "What about if you make Joe walk into the room carrying..." 

My bathroom floor was pretty wet before I finally gave up and came to my computer to start writing, at which point my muse poofed away, gone for the rest of the night.  sheesh.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I have a hero!

I'm not going to tell you much about him, because, of course, I'm a big chicken,  but I have a relatively well-outlined hero finally...yay!  I'm not sure that his issues are the most compelling in the universe; but they work for this story, I think.  His name is Joe. He's very strong, of course, and a little scary looking.  He doesn't smile much, but he's a good, kind person anyway. 

I have been fighting with the committee in my head the past couple of weeks, and this has made it tough to get old Joe down on paper.  Every time I start thinking about Joe, the committee chair (we'll call her Phyllis), reminds me that I really don't have the time, energy or talent for this writing thing, so why am I bothering with it? 

I spent the weekend reading J.R. Ward's guide to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and it has a lot of great information about her writing process. And since I LOVE those sexy dirty vampires, I totally aspire to write heroes as dark and troubled as Ward's.  Except I'm going to give them names like Joe and David and Steve, because, really, Vishous is already taken.  And honestly, the names of her vampires turned me off when I first picked up the books, because they seemed a little cheesy.  Until I started reading Dark Lover, and then, of course, it made perfect sense to have a totally hot hero named Wrath. 

Anyway.  I think it might be time to put away the "this is how I do it" books and JUST DO IT. I get all up in my head, and Phyllis starts telling me that even if I did have the time, energy and talent to write, I am not as disciplined as a "real" writer, and I can't find a clear mental picture of a hero to save my life.

ACK!  So I managed to turn off the committee loudspeaker for a few minutes this afternoon and get my hero pinned down.  I think he'll work.  Of course, now I have Phyllis's sister Alice telling me that I am NOT allowed to make the heroine too much like me, because I have absolutely NOTHING that a hero like Joe would want, and I am NOT allowed to make her too different from me, because then I would be a big pretender.   But that's another committee meeting, I might have to miss that one.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Plotting along

If I were writing my autobiography I suppose I would have to have some clear sense of who I am.  As much as we believe that we shouldn't be tied down by labels and stereotypes, some of those classifications are helpful.  One thing I am learning is that I have to live in a world of oxymorons and contradictions (wait...aren't those the same thing?  Oxymoron is just such a great word.). Anyway. 

So I label myself, it helps me remember what I am doing.  I am a mother, a wife, a scientist, an artist.   Depending on the circumstances, some of these labels are more important than others. 

There are other words I want to use to describe myself and others that I don't.  I guess those words fall into the values category.  I want to be kind, and I like to be funny; but my sense of humor is tinged with a strong vein of sarcasm and judgement; so I spend alot of time regretting things I've said and trying to make amends for things I have said.  I want to be generous and honest, but am selfish and self-centered, so I mess that up a lot, too. 

I want to be a writer.  I am not sure why I think I want to write, because it seems that the process is more painful in reality than when the idea was just lolling around in the back of my head, at the bottom of my bucket list (I am also competing for the title of Supreme Goddess of the Run-on Sentence).  I have taken a few on-line workshops and read alot of stuff by great writers, trying to figure out the best way to do this writing thingy. 

I met Suzanne Brockmann, my hero, at a conference last week.  She shared alot of great stuff, including How To Keep Your Ass in the Chair (actually, she called it "Anchoring") and how to write a great hero. She makes it sound so straightforward!  She is definitely a plotter, and has her stories all worked out way ahead of time.  Otherwise there is no way the Troubleshooters series would be as amazing as it is.  I want to be her when I grow up.  Actually, I don't.  I want to be me.  But I want to write compelling characters that make a reader's heart lurch when they connect.   Which leads me to my current roadblock.  I don't seem to be able to put together a complete outline for my novel, including character sketches and backstory.  I don't know who my characters are without writing about them first. 

I seem to be a pantser with the guilty conscience of a plotter.  When I think about working on my stuff, I get all twisted around by worrying that I don't have a perfect outline to follow.  How can I torture my hero and heroine if I don't know their weaknesses and biggest fears?  All of this makes me think of my distaste for GPS navigation.  I go to mapquest, I find my destination, I might even print the map and the turn-by-turn directions, but I need to see where I am going before I get in the car.  I can't stand to wait for the Bitch on the Dashboard to tell me when to turn left.  And that's why the idea of writing by the seat of my pants terrifies me.  On the other hand, one of my favorite things to do is to go to my sewing room, pull a handfull of scraps out of a basket, find a few that look nice together and start sewing.  I have made some really beautiful quilts that way.  No pre-planning, just alot of messing around.  Not every bit makes it into the quilt, but wow, the ones that do look great (and I am strangely comfortable being confident about this).

So which way do I write?  Do I look at the map and memorize it and follow the outline, or do I just go along and wait for a voice in the air to tell me which way to turn? 

I got disgusted with myself yesterday for my procrastination and just started writing, and amazingly, things are getting a bit clearer.  I have a feeling that I'll be making my outline AFTER I've written most of the story.  And maybe that's okay.  I guess we'll see.  After all, life is a journey, not a destination, right?

Friday, October 8, 2010

What am I doing here?

Well.  Here I am.  Blogging.  I'm so interesting that I figure that the world will be a better place if I share my thoughts with you.

Okay, I'm really blogging because I want to be a writer, and I can't think of a better way to practice than to write.  I spend so much time reading the blogs of other writers, instead working on the greatest romance novel yet to be written, that I may as well add to the blog footprint.  Who knows?  Maybe I will help other wannabe writers procrastinate just a little bit more. 

I have always kept the idea of writing fiction in the back of my mind, but it's a scary prospect for me.  I majored in English for all of a semester in college, but I kept hearing the voice in my head (it sounded alot like my mother) saying, "That's great, honey, but how are you going to make a living?" So I changed my major, learned a few marketable skills, got a job, got married, got kids (okay, I helped make them, I didn't just get them at the grocery store), started doing alot of really wonderfully creative things without ever taking the time to try to write more than a couple of lines here and there.

Writing is scary.  I worry people will think I am putting my deepest fears and most closely held fantasies on display for the world to judge and psychoanalyze.  I don't know why that should scare me so much. Everyone who knows me is aware of my craziness and many of them love me anyway, but still.  They might think they are finding out more about me than they want to know.   But let me say here:  IT'S FICTION!  It's all a "what if" game. 

But the ideas keep popping up, and it seems a bit wasteful to throw them out.  I may never finish anything, show it to anyone, or submit a manuscript, but I think I'd like to try.  I've written the first chapters for two novels.  Maybe not a full chapter, that seems like kind of an arbitrary measurement anyway...who decides how long a chapter is?  There don't seem to be any hard and fast rules about where to divide things up...but maybe I just haven't gotten that far.  Hey, I know when a scene starts and ends!  Maybe I should say that I have written several scenes for a couple of books.  The committee in my head is very critical of what I am doing and how I am doing it.  I think I'll address each critic individually in future posts.