Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kick Ass Heroines

What makes a heroine really rock?  Does she have to really rock?  I mean, wouldn't we rather be able to fit ourselves into a bland little body and ordinary life so that it's easier to go along for the ride?
I thought about this last night while still basking in my Post-NaNo glow.  I was imagining that I would get up this morning, tidy things up, and send my novel off to be published (no query, agent, editor, or any of that malarkey needed).  Then I'd start spending the six figure advance I'll get for my next best-seller, which features a fairly strong heroine who has to learn to admit a couple of weaknesses to find her HEA. 

I was also wandering back and forth between Smilla's Sense of Snow 
Smilla's Sense of Snow Poster

And G.I.Jane
G.I. Jane Poster

Okay.  Brief reviews here:
Smilla:  Good book, mediocre movie. Julia Ormond spent the whole movie walking around looking pretty and miserable.  And okay, she was miserable.  But she made me miserable, too, and by the time she finally decided to get busy with Gabriel Byrne, I was like, "Run, Gabe, Run!  She's cute but she's gonna bring you down!"
Gabriel Byrne, however, was pretty hot as the somewhat backwards neighbor/hero.  Again...the book was better.

Not a big Demi Moore fan.  I hated her when she had big hair on General Hospital, and then when she married my boyfriend Bruce Willis, I really hated her.  Naming a kid Rumer? That was the end.  And she spends most of this movie delivering her lines with this dorky half smile that makes me wonder if she knew how bad she was and was trying not to laugh.  BUT!  It was all worth it, because, as she reluctantly led her team through SERE training, she got to beat the hell out of Viggo Mortensen (with her hands tied behind her back, no less) and deliver that most excellent line, in which she tells Master Chief Viggo to put her male appendage where his mouth is.  Which totally rocks the whole movie.
( how 'bout that mustache!?)
 The politics of women in combat, ehh.  I'm Switzerland.  And the movie dates itself when Demi must defend herself against allegations of homosexual fraternization (she gets all defensive and says her "good name" is being destroyed--I am NOT Switzerland on the issue of DADT, but whatever). 

Anyway.  I'm all about a strong female character, but only if she has to find her strength and deal with character flaws.  Didn't see Smilla cheer up, but then I kind of bailed on the movie before the credits rolled because the "S$^# My D*#@" scene was coming in G.I.Jane.  And G.I. Jane?  I don't know.  She was strong to begin with, had alot of attitude, she worked out alot, got stronger, got more attitude.  Ehh. 

Anyway, the comment lines are open here.  What makes a strong heroine believable?  What cracks does she need to have that let us move into her skin?

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo completed and verified!

Happy Dance.  Woo Hoo!  Wocka Wocka.  Hubba Hubba.  I did it!  OMG.  I wrote FIFTY THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE WORDS in 29 days!  My Word document word counter says 50,356, and the nano validator says 50,289. But really, who's counting?  Well, I am, obviously, but I am not going to sweat the small stuff. 

Please to do not ask to see an excerpt before August of 2015, at which time I might be brave enough to open the file again and take another look. 

Okay.  I'm going to go get something to eat and see if I can find something tear-jerky to watch on In Demand.  I was compelled to post two things on Facebook today that made me cry--one was a youtube video by Pixar about "It Gets Better".  The other was about the medical transport teams that take injured troops from Afghanistan to Germany.  And it didn't have a happy ending.  I mean, at least, not for the kid they profiled.  Hopefully many more of the guys they transport come out okay. 

Okay, I'm done typing for today.  I really mean it.  As soon as I figure out how to put the little "NaNo Winner" thingy on my blog. 

C Ya!

You don't have to be prepared if you can improvise.

Aw, jeez.  I am less than 2000 words from the 50k mark on my nano project.  I had planned to spend my lunch time pounding the last bit out so that I can be done, but dang it, I saved the file to the wrong place.  At least, I hope to God I saved it!  It sure isn't on the flash drive I brought to work today.

I know, I could just open a new file and combine them later, but I get such satisfaction from seeing the increase in that little word count at the bottom of my document.   So plan B it is.   I will just have to see what I can do during lunch time, add them together when I get home, and then make a pot of coffee if I need to stay up late and finish up. 

I have been a girl scout leader for the past 6 years, and I am kind of an organizational mess (stay with me here, this paragraph does really have something to do with the previous one).    I no longer handle cookie sales for the troop, because it always turns into a major disaster, and noone ever gets the stupid prizes that they HAVE to have, so the girls can fill their Stupid Prize Drawers and not open them until their next fundraising opportunity.  We do alot of fun stuff, and although the girls are 13 now and not so much interested in all of the seat of my pants craft projects I come up, they still like to show up and hang out and go places.  We went caving a couple of weeks ago, and we are going to the art museum in a couple of weeks to look at wedding dresses.

We try to go camping at least once a year, and these are the days when my leadership really shines through, because I never remember to bring everything I'm supposed to have. One year we didn't even have the reservations we thought we had, so we mde friends with another troop and shared their cabin for the weekend.  Early on, I developed my own motto:

 "We are Girl Scouts, not Boy Scouts.  We don't have to be prepared because we can improvise!"

 I live by this motto, not only as a girl scout, but as a mom, a wife (you really don't want examples for that one), and a scientist.  I am the MacGyver of womanhood.  Give me a can of shaving cream, an ice cream scoop and a shoelace and I will make you a car.  Okay, maybe not.

The point is, if things don't go the way I originally hoped, I can rearrange my plans and my expectations.  The book I started to write 29 days ago is NOT the book I am going to end up with. If my heroine's dead husband suddenly becomes her comatose brother,  I can introduce him to a hot nurse who might just manage to wake him up.   Who needs a stinkin' outline?  I'm a girl scout, dammit! 

What about you?  Do you stick to the script, or do you improvise? 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful to be Plugging Away at it

Seems like most everyone has a nice Thanksgiving-themed post today, which I think is just great.  When I was learning to live without alcohol (What?  I know.  But I was tired of puking all the time), it was suggested that I make a gratitude list every night before bed.  I mostly have kept this routine for the past 7 1/2 years.  The really challenging thing is to make a gratitude list even when everything sucks.  I mean, when you have one of those "My dog is terminally ill, my husband is a jerk and I can't believe I married him, my real kids were switched at birth, my best friend is bi-polar, and my boss needs a stupidectomy" days, it can be really hard to make a gratitude list. 

Now, when I am feeling all spiritual and mentally well, I can sometimes be grateful for the crappy stuff that happens, because I know I'll learn an important lesson.  Yeah, whatever. 

Anyway.  About writing. Today I am grateful that I have the time to spend on my NaNo project.  I calculated that if I write 2500 words a day for the next week, I can get 'er done. I think I might be cutting that down a bit today, which would be good, because I don't know if I can get away with dragging my laptop along to Grandma's for TG dinner tomorrow. 

I am also really grateful for the eye opening pep-talk that came in my in-box this morning from Lemmony Snicket via NaNoWriMo.  I looked for a link for it on the website, but it isn't there yet, so I'm just going to copy and paste and hope that I am not violating any weird copywrite laws.  Can I just mention here that A Series of Unfortunate Events was my total favorite series to read with my kids?  Harry Potter, not so much.  Those poor, pathetic Baudelaire kids, uh, YEAH! 
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! 

Dear Cohort,
Struggling with your novel? Paralyzed by the fear that it's nowhere near good enough? Feeling caught in a trap of your own devising? You should probably give up.
For one thing, writing is a dying form. One reads of this every day. Every magazine and newspaper, every hardcover and paperback, every website and most walls near the freeway trumpet the news that nobody reads anymore, and everyone has read these statements and felt their powerful effects. The authors of all those articles and editorials, all those manifestos and essays, all those exclamations and eulogies - what would they say if they knew you were writing something? They would urge you, in bold-faced print, to stop.
Clearly, the future is moving us proudly and zippily away from the written word, so writing a novel is actually interfering with the natural progress of modern society. It is old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy, a relic of a time when people took artistic expression seriously and found solace in a good story told well. We are in the process of disentangling ourselves from that kind of peace of mind, so it is rude for you to hinder the world by insisting on adhering to the beloved paradigms of the past. It is like sitting in a gondola, listening to the water carry you across the water, while everyone else is zooming over you in jetpacks, belching smoke into the sky. Stop it, is what the jet-packers would say to you. Stop it this instant, you in that beautiful craft of intricately-carved wood that is giving you such a pleasant journey.
Besides, there are already plenty of novels. There is no need for a new one. One could devote one's entire life to reading the work of Henry James, for instance, and never touch another novel by any other author, and never be hungry for anything else, the way one could live on nothing but multivitamin tablets and pureed root vegetables and never find oneself craving wild mushroom soup or linguini with clam sauce or a plain roasted chicken with lemon-zested dandelion greens or strong black coffee or a perfectly ripe peach or chips and salsa or caramel ice cream on top of poppyseed cake or smoked salmon with capers or aged goat cheese or a gin gimlet or some other startling item sprung from the imagination of some unknown cook. In fact, think of the world of literature as an enormous meal, and your novel as some small piddling ingredient - the drawn butter, for example, served next to a large, boiled lobster. Who wants that? If it were brought to the table, surely most people would ask that it be removed post-haste.
Even if you insisted on finishing your novel, what for? Novels sit unpublished, or published but unsold, or sold but unread, or read but unreread, lonely on shelves and in drawers and under the legs of wobbly tables. They are like seashells on the beach. Not enough people marvel over them. They pick them up and put them down. Even your friends and associates will never appreciate your novel the way you want them to. In fact, there are likely just a handful of readers out in the world who are perfect for your book, who will take it to heart and feel its mighty ripples throughout their lives, and you will likely never meet them, at least under the proper circumstances. So who cares? Think of that secret favorite book of yours - not the one you tell people you like best, but that book so good that you refuse to share it with people because they'd never understand it. Perhaps it's not even a whole book, just a tiny portion that you'll never forget as long as you live. Nobody knows you feel this way about that tiny portion of literature, so what does it matter? The author of that small bright thing, that treasured whisper deep in your heart, never should have bothered.
Of course, it may well be that you are writing not for some perfect reader someplace, but for yourself, and that is the biggest folly of them all, because it will not work. You will not be happy all of the time. Unlike most things that most people make, your novel will not be perfect. It may well be considerably less than one-fourth perfect, and this will frustrate you and sadden you. This is why you should stop. Most people are not writing novels which is why there is so little frustration and sadness in the world, particularly as we zoom on past the novel in our smoky jet packs soon to be equipped with pureed food. The next time you find yourself in a group of people, stop and think to yourself, probably no one here is writing a novel. This is why everyone is so content, here at this bus stop or in line at the supermarket or standing around this baggage carousel or sitting around in this doctor's waiting room or in seventh grade or in Johannesburg. Give up your n ovel, and join the crowd. Think of all the things you could do with your time instead of participating in a noble and storied art form. There are things in your cupboards that likely need to be moved around.
In short, quit. Writing a novel is a tiny candle in a dark, swirling world. It brings light and warmth and hope to the lucky few who, against insufferable odds and despite a juggernaut of irritations, find themselves in the right place to hold it. Blow it out, so our eyes will not be drawn to its power. Extinguish it so we can get some sleep. I plan to quit writing novels myself, sometime in the next hundred years.
--Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket is the author of  A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can learn more about his work here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More is Being Revealed: My hero was raised by lesbian Llama farmers

During this quasi-desperate push to get through this whole NaNo craziness, I've been learning alot about my creative process.  I'm finding that I can't just invent background for my characters from thin air.  I had fifteen minutes this morning to write and drink coffee while I waited for middle child to finish his shower (aside:  how can he spend so long in the shower, when I KNOW I used up the last of the hot water before I got out of bed?); and I found myself writing a scene in which my hero checks his voice mail to find that his aunt has left him a message about bringing a date to Easter dinner.

 Turns out his aunt raised him.  His Aunt Janet and her lover, Aunt Stevie, who have a Llama farm in eastern Kentucky (where did I get the Llama idea?could it be here?).  Where is the lesbian aunt in my subconscious?  Who the hell knows. Although, now that I think about it, I do have a gay friend from college who had a farm for a while.  WHATEVER, Freudian issues are not the point of this post. 

The point is this:  I can't just sit around thinking about my characters and figure out what happened to them in the past.  I have to move my fingers to do find out who they are.  Interestingly enough, use my hands alot when I talk, too.  If I sit on my hands, I can't talk.  It doesn't seem to matter whether I am using a pen and paper or a keyboard, but I have to write to figure out what's going on.  Hey!  I think this might make me a WRITER! 

What about you?  How do you figure out who you are writing about? 

Monday, November 22, 2010

The NaNo Word Count and Other Important Stuff

I am woefully behind on my NaNo project.  8 days left and 20,000 words to go.  Not going to do the math on that one, I'll just keep verbally vomiting into my word processor. 

I did accomplish something over the weekend.  I can now cross "Tent camping in November" off of my bucket list.  HOLY MALOLY!  It.  Was.  Freaking.  Cold.  Of course, I didn't fight my son for the -30 sleeping bag, I crawled into the 1993 slumber party sleeping bag; but I had an extra blanket, an air mattress, two pairs of pants, three sweatshirts...you get the idea.   Then I had to go to the bathroom at 1:30 in the morning, so I had to fight my way out of this tiny tent, and the zipper got stuck, so I wound up crawling under the edge, pulling up the stakes, OMG.  Fortunately, the whole thing didn't come down on my tent-mate.  Sigh.  Hopefully I earned some Good Mom points to make up for all those hot meals I don't fix very often. 

On to today. After I checked to make sure I didn't make it on to peopleofwalmart.com over the weekend, I spent the morning trying to get some science done.  Every now and then an experiment seems to work, and I get all excited and hopeful for the future.  This is one of those days.  It makes me remember why I hung in there through grad school, and why I willingly work for so little (besides the freedom to blog, check my facebook page, and the university tuition remission for my kids). 

I won't trouble you with the details of my project, but suffice it to say that I got the little brain cells to grow on the little scaffolds.  Yay!  Next week I'm going to cure Parkinson's AND spinal cord injury.  The week after that...total world domination. 

Oh, wait. I'll have to postpone the Parkinson's project because I have to finish NaNo.  Sorry, Michael J. Fox.  I'll get to it in December, I promise. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pathetically Drunken Heroes

I watched the movie Crazy Heart last night with Jeff Bridges, and it got me thinking.  What is it about the seemingly irredemable drunk that is so appealing?
Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake (do you not just love how corny that name is?), a formerly famous country singer/songwriter who is on the way down.  He's become a sloppy drunk, but still very professional.  I mean, he runs out of a show in the middle of a set to puke because he's so drunk, but he still makes it back in time to finish the song.  I loved that every time they showed him getting out of his beat to hell suburban he had his pants undone.  He spent half the movie zipping and buckling. 
It took me a while to get this, but Bad apparently had mentored county sensation Tommy Sweet, played by Colin Farrell (who didn't even get listed in the credits), and now Tommy is big, and Bad is well, bad.  A couple of times early in the movie Bad is asked about Tommy Sweet and he's all "Oh, no, I can't go there", but it's not really clear why, and then his agent calls and makes him do a show with Tommy, they get together and have dinner and everything is all peachy between them again.  I suspect there might be some scenes that got cut there, because that whole conflict kind of didn't work. 
Anyway.  Maggie Gyllenhaal shows up, they fall in love, even though he's old and stinky and drunk and has totally saggy man boobs, and she's cute and young and smart ( I love her as a heroine because she's not perfect looking, she's going to have baggy cheeks when she gets old, except she's not because she'll get plastic surgery, but whatever). 
Bad messes up, loses Maggie, sobers up, tries to get Maggie back, and well, I'll leave it at that. 
BTW, the soundtrack to this movie was great.  T Bone Burnett wrote all the songs, I guess.   I'm going to have to hit I Tunes for this one.

Marlon Brando was another good Pathetic Drunk portrayer with major issues (both him and his characters, I guess).  And nice pecs.  Until he went all Apocalypse Now, although there was still something about him...
But the movie I'm thinking of is the one with the nail clippers and the stick of butter.  You know which one I mean. I can't remember the title, and I'm not going to google it right now, I'll call you when I remember at four in the morning.  That movie was hot.  It was like, "OMG, I know I'm supposed to be freaked out, and I am a little, but wow." 

And of course, Kris Kristofferson in the remake of A Star Is Born.  I was never quite able to sit through the original, but again, there is that drunken rock star boy. 

And Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas.  Now THERE was a movie with a happy ending (that was sarcasm.  I don't have the sarc mark to add).

I think that, besides the Pathetically Drunk hero in all of these movies, the common factor is the woman who loves him.  The heroine who finds and falls under the spell of whatever humanity remains in our wastrel hero.  Sure, we are hoping he gets it together, and sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't, but the heroine always manages to find her way.  She manages to stand up and say, "Hey, I love you, but I have to take care of myself and I am not going to let you fuck me up along with you."  Okay, it's been so long since I've seen Leaving Las Vegas that I'm not sure that happens with Elisabeth Shue, but it does in the other three. 

Here's the thing. In real life, there is nothing sexy about loving a man who could choke on his own vomit at anytime; and who can't be counted on for anything. Fortunately, my own beloved doesn't fall into this category of protagonist.  But there sure are plenty of drunken men (and women!)  and plenty of women (and men!)  who try to make it work.  Call it optimism, call it insanity, whatever it is, some of us must have some sort of an "If-He-Love-Me-He'd-Change" mutation in the genome.  I've been to an Alanon meeting...I know this is true. 

Well, anyway, it makes for good cinema.  Happily Ever After?  Not so much.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fifty Greatest Sci Fi Movies of All Time?

MSN has a link to this list of the fifty greatest sci fi films of all time.   I had a tough time navigating through it, the "next" button kept pooping out on me, but it was interesting to see how many of these I have actually seen, since I don't consider myself a big Sci Fi fan.  But I married a closet Trekkie, and I sure have seen an awful lot of Sci Fi television over the past twenty years.

I have seen alot of the top 25:  Star Wars IV and V, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Terminator, T2, Total Recall (who can forget that awesome scene where Arnolds face is getting sucked apart by low atmospheric pressure?) and Star Trek 2, Wrath of Khan.  Blade Runner...whoee, mostly nekkid Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford.  And Alien and Aliens, Sigourney Weaver kicks ASS!   But there were a few that I have not seen and maybe need to check out:  "These Are the Damned" with Oliver Reed.  I just love him,  he's such a sexy bad boy. Well, he was, he's dead now, he was apparently living the part too well.    Oliver Reed.  So broody. 

and I've not seen Omega Man with Charlton Heston
Okay.  Wait a minute, right there!  Planet of the Apes was NOT on the list!  WTF?  Really?  Look at that picture...that is CHARLTON HESTON kissing a gorilla!  What a guy!  If he could go for a gorilla, he could totally have gone for me!  Okay, except I was, like, 8 when the movie came out and that would have been gross.  But do the time warp thing, and I'm totally there for him. 
And another Charlton Heston great was Soylent Green.  Who can forget that one?  I don't know who made up this list, but they are totally WHACK. 
 Although they did think to include Solaris with George Clooney. 

There were definitely more movies on thelist that I have not seen, and only wish to see if I am laid up with, say, a broken pelvis and lots of morphine. For example: 

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

I just can't wrap my mind around this one.  I mean, I can.  I get the premise. I just don't know where they got the spray tan stuff in outerspace.  Doesn't the aerosol can explode under low atmospheric conditions? 

After some blog chatter last week about Daniel Craig, naked, I am going to be lining up to see Cowboys and Aliens.  It's got Harrison Ford in it, too.    It should already be on the list even though it hasn't even been released yet.  Nuff said.
Cowboys & Aliens Poster

Writing Workshops

I think that since January and February are normally the most hideous months of the year for me I, I will try to take some writing workshops online.  I took one using the W method for plotting, which was really helpful, and then another one about writing sex scenes, which wasn't so helpful, but maybe I just wasn't "in the mood" at the time. 

I think I need to focus on characterization.  I sure hope someone has some suggestions for me.  There seems to be a wealth of options out there, and I don't know where to start.  Any thoughts? 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, leaking into Sunday

So.  I spent my weekend earning BIG brownie points by taking my daughter and three other girl scouts on a wild caving adventure in Indiana.  We crawled into a big dark wet hole in the ground, got good and claustrophbic, cold, wet and dirty, and crawled back out.   Next weekend I'll be going horseback riding with an undetermined number of boy scouts.  I should be good to hibernate for the rest of the winter after that.

I was all jazzed up to get back to my NaNo writing on Sunday night.  I opened my file and started to skim through what I had done so far, and realized that I had accidentally copied 1000 words into the story twice, when I was combinig files from different documents.  DANG!  Okay, minor set back.  I was already behind, having taken a few days off to be a parent, but that was such a monday kind of a thing.  I recouped, got two-thousand words in last night.  Not caught up yet, but still better.

Then this morning, I got up and spent a few more minutes writing, in between yelling at various kids to get out of bed and get ready for school.  Yay, good start!  Until I went out to get in the car.  Which I had left out overnight, even though I have a nice warm garage that the car even fits into.  And the battery was dead.  Okay, not so bad, Hubby's Big Red Truck was home since he's out of town, and it started right up.  Damn thing's too big to fit in a parking space at work, though, so I had to use it to charge my battery and drive my own car.  Except that I couldn't find the latch to open my hood.  SHEESH!  Back in the house, get the teenager out of bed to open my damned car hood, move the truck closer, blah blah blah. 

AND THEN, I get to work only to find that my cells are dead.  Which I kind of expect, since it's science, and it's Monday.  But still. 

wah wah wah.  I'm done.  Thank you for letting me share. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Writing Marathon Recap

Well, I didn't manage to find any veterans to harass with gratitude yesterday, but I did spend a little time watching the Warrior Challenge on ESPN for a little while.  This was a Men in BDU's Olympics at whatever military  base that is in Germany.  The guys were competing in things like "who can load the most MRE's in a Humvee in the shortest time".  It was very cool. 

I also hit my 20,000 word mark, and my laptop survived.  I didn't do the tomtato timer thing (though I'm going to go check that out, thanks for the idea!). I did a whirlwind tour of coffee shops and other places to plug in in Northern Kentucky (which isn't a city.  It's a fancy elitist term for "southern Cincinnati".  There are about a dozen little towns in three counties that have all run together within the 275 beltway on the cool side of the Ohio River.  Not that Cincinnati isn't also cool, but Kentucky's cooler, especially since we rarely wear shoes, and it is November (a ha ha ha.  I crack myself up.). 

I hit the Starbucks at the Crestview Hills Plaza and had a  venti brewedThanksgiving blend with a double chocolate brownie, which netted me about 1500 words.  There were a surprising number of people at this Starbucks for a Thursday morning.  Maybe it was because it was a holiday, but I was shocked at the number of Ladies Who Shop hanging around, ordering a mocha java kappa delta lattes with straight faces.  There was an interesting young man sitting at the table next to me, drinking a hot chocolate, with three snapshots of people spread out on the table in front of him.  I saw him again a little later, standing in front of Bath and Body Works, just looking at his snapshots.  I wonder who the people are in the pictures? 

After hitting the 18K mark and WAY over caffeinated and chocolate-ized, I rewarded myself with a visit to Borders Books and Music and redeemed my $10 credit.  They are having a buy-two-romances-and-get-a-free-B J Daniels-Intrigue novel promotion, so I bought An Unforgettable Lady, by Jessica Bird, aka JR Ward; and Defender, by  Catherine Mann, and only spent $6.50, which totally rocks, although I now have 903 books on the TBR pile next to my bed. 

THEN I went to the Kenton County Public Library, and curled up in a chair in a sunny spot and plugged the Chevy Sprint Car of laptops back in.  I tell  you, this puppy is making some serious noise.  I've got to bring her in and sweet talk our IT pit crew chief into giving her a lube job or something.  It wasn't obvious at Starbucks, because there was enough chatter from the Ladies Who Shop to drown out the noise; but I was a little embarrassed at how loud it was while I was in the library. I cranked out another thousand words and then slunk out of the back door. 

After a lovely lunch at Jimmy John's in Crescent Springs, I made it to Reality Tuesday's coffee house in Park Hills.  This place rocks.  It's all mismatched furniture and original art and business meetings and high school kids and little old ladies.  Here I managed to hit the 20K mark between sips of an iced Chai (without the milk) and surreptitious lustful glances at the Men in Camo on ESPN. 

I had a great day, and spent some quality time getting to know my characters.  Then I hit the carpool circuit, the grocery store, and ended the day with a lovely trip to buy jeans with my twelve-year-old daughter.  I had forgotten that if the size 7 jeans look too tight, then you need to go to the size 5's, because, you know.  OMG, I have to call my mother and apologize, again, for every time she didn't kill me when she took me shopping. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Writing Day

I came into work this morning to check on my cells and wean some rats, but since it's a real live holiday, I'm going to take the rest of the day off to go hang out in Starbucks or maybe the cafe in the nearest Borders and write.  I have this urge to run around looking for veterans to thank, but that seems a little weird, so I'll just thank any that I run across naturally. 

I may also take a few minutes to look back over what I've written during this crazy NaNo time, and see if I can put things in any kind of sensible order.  NaNo a third over, and I may have almost 16,666 words written (which is about a third of 50,000, give or take a fraction of a word.  I want to be up to 20K by the end of the day.

My laptop is still making terrible Nascar noises most of the time, so I dug out my flashy thingy to save everything on, in case it implodes before I have a chance to email everything to myself.  I'm really hoping that Starbucks is noisy enough to drown out the Nascar noise.  How embarrassing! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The "Oof" feeling

I read romance for that feeling that I get, right behind my sternum, when two characters really connect, when one character exposes themself emotionally to the other, when things are intense and totally on the line.  Okay, I also like the parts of a romance that cause that "ooooh" feeling a little lower down, but really, I would read just for the "oof", and if I don't get the "oof", the "oooooh" isn't going to happen.   I don't know what to call it, besides the "oof". 

My friend Mary just sent me the first love scene from her NaNo WIP, and I got the "oof", from just a few dozen words.  That is so cool! I SO want to be able to nail that. 

How does that work?  I know that it has alot to do with the whole "Show don't Tell" thing working in sync with deep POV. 

What are the best examples of the "oof" feeling out there?  One that comes to mind is from An Officer and a Gentleman,  when Paula blows up at Zach for being emotionally locked down and she tries to leave their motel room. She can't get the door open, and he jumps off the bed and stops her from going.  He has to break his "I am an island" protocol, and admit that she's important to him.

Another favorite of mine is in Hot Target, by Suzanne Brockmann.  Cosmo has bailed on his bodyguarding job because he thinks Jane is going to be getting with another guy; and she calls him to ask him what his problem is.  He says he didn't want to be there while she was, you know, and she realizes that "you didn't leave because you don't like me, you left because you DO like me!" I'm paraphrasing, but that's the jist. Then Cosmo comes back over, and there is a long complicated scene where they are both kind of paralyzed about getting together because they both want it so bad.  Sigh.  I love Cosmo. 

And I just love me a good "oof". 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A cool blog giveaway!

Jessica Bell at the Alliterative Allomorph (which I have to look up now, because those are some big words) is having a contest in honor of reaching 400 blog followers.  Go follow her and win (or not, because I want to win!)

What's in a name?

My daughter, 12, has been writing for a few years.  Every now and then she shows me what she's written, and, while it's hard to tell how much she lifted straight from Twilight and Percy Jones (that's his name, right, the Last Olympian dude?), I have to say she has quite a dramatic flair.  She also has done some major research for her characters.  She decided that her main characters' family is Irish, just like us.  Except really, we are only about 1/8th Irish.  The other 7/8th's is pure-bred White Trash (as in, we have no idea where those ancestors came from, we think they just sprang up down in the holler).  This is not to say that I am in anyway not proud of my Appalachian heritage.  I think it's cool, and not 'trash' in the sense of being worthless.  More like 'trash' in the sense that other people might think we are ignorant and useless but we know better.  One man's trash and all that.  But I digress.

The daughter spent a couple of hours the other day on the internet choosing traditional Irish names for her characters.  And not Katie or Sean.  She came up with Ula and something that starts with a C that sounds like an intimate body part, but I can't remember the exact spelling, so I'm not going to share it right now. 

I have a hard time with names for characters.  I've tried name generators, baby name lists, the phone book.  When I try picking names out of the air, I always come up with someone that I know, and that feels icky after a while.  So for this NaNo project I'm plugging away at, I've resorted to fruits and vegetables.  I do have 'real' first names for my hero and heroine, but their last names are Apple and Orange, and the Cute Kid's name is Grape.  I just hope I remember to replace everything with Smith and Jones before I show it to anyone! 

Does anyone have a fool-proof method for picking a name? 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Using half of your colon, or, the life and death of the semicolon.

A few days ago, I decided to learn what I could about the ellipsis, my favorite punctuation mark.  At the Kill Zone last week, James Scott Bell wrote a moving treatise on the use of the semicolon; now I have to rethink everything I thought I knew about grammar.  Apparently, it's a no-no in fiction.  I always thought using a semicolon appropriately made me seem kind of smart.  But I guess that if you use something to make you seem kind of smart, you are probably showing that maybe you aren't so smart after all.  Sigh. 

So here a link to my favorite source of knowledge, Wikipedia, regarding the semicolon:

The semicolon (;) is a punctuation mark with several uses. The Italian printer Aldus Manutius the Elder established the practice of using the semicolon mark to separate words of opposed meaning, and to indicate interdependent statements.[1] The earliest, general use of the semicolon in English was in 1591; Ben Jonson was the first notable English writer to use them systematically. The modern uses of the semicolon relate either to the listing of items, or to the linking of related clauses.

This useful  history of the semicolon is followed by several great examples.  I will bow to the greater minds and try hard to keep the semicolon out of my fiction; but I am going to use the heck out of it when I blog, dammit! 

I'm now an Award Winning Author!

And I haven't finished a damn thing.  I follow Sierra Godfrey's Blog  and she had a contest the other day in which readers were invited to make up a story about Tootsie Pop wrappers.   I won!  I may not be much in the romantic fiction department, but when it comes to sugar, I'm there.  My brilliant short work of fiction, which we will call  The Indian and the Roller Skate Girl is available as a free download (okay, not really, you can just click on the link, and read it in the comments section). 

Thanks, Sierra!  Great Blog, by the way.  I'm still trying to figure out that QR code thing (which my son assures me is not a portal to computer virus hell because of the way smart phones work, but I'm not convinced). 

Happy Friday, everyone! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

6477 words, but does any of it really count? Does anybody really know what time it is?

I didn't really think I would reach self-flagellation this early, but here I am.  I realize that everything that I have written so far is just backstory.  Which is important, but I shouldn't start my novel with it, so I have to start again with wherever the action really begins, right? So does that mean that I'm going to have to be totally honest and pitch these first 6,000 words?  Uh, NO!  I'm saving them, I might need them later.  I'll try to avoid too many flashbacks within flashbacks, but I think they can be tucked in here and there.  

Besides, this is an internal editor-free zone, right?  I think maybe I'm just having a Bad Science Day because I lost my cell pellet this morning (never mind, it would take longer to explain than to just repeat the experiment). 

I'm also a little tired because I went to see Bob Dylan play last night.  Wow, that was really something!
That's him, there to the right, with the guitar and the dorky hat.  It was a very Bob Dylanish kind of a show.  What this means to me is that noone could understand a single word he sang, but we all rocked out anyway because even those of us who don't know all the words can look them up online, and it's just cool to see Bob Dylan.  My oldest son went with me (it was his idea, everyone say "awww", but he just wanted me to go so I would pay for the tickets) and I think he might have been less than impressed, but it was a good time anyway.  

Old Bob played alot of the old Bob songs; you know what they are.  My favorite is Tangled Up In Blue, because it's kind of a love song (at least I think so, even when I know what the words are, I'm not always sure what he's trying to say).    He also did a few swingy/bluesy/rockabilly kinds of things that were newer and very nice.  His voice sounded a bit better on those, too, perhaps because they were written for a 60+ year old voice instead of a 20 year old voice. 

It's funny, I saw Bob play with Tom Petty and the Grateful Dead WAY back in the day (like 1986, on the fourth of July, in Buffalo, NY) but interestingly, don't really remember what they played. Shocking. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Richard Gere/ 1982/ Sigh

I reached the 10% mark last night so decided to reward myself by watching An Officer and a Gentleman.  Sigh.  I didn't really think I was all that much of a Richard Gere fan, but the man was smokin' hot back in the day.  Look at those lips.  Whew. 

 Heck, he was even cute in his bad hair high school picture:
And frankly, I'd still do him, Mr. Magoo glasses and everything:
Of course, I can't just watch a movie or read a book any more without doing a complete plot shred.  What was Zack Mayo's external conflict?  Getting through OCS, I guess.  But what about Debra Winger?  What was her goal?  She SAID she wasn't after marriage, but obviously, she was.  And she got the guy.  Did she win because she was a better player than Lynette, or because she was a good and true heroine?  Hmmmm. 

It doesn't really matter, because I totally love Debra Winger.  She's not all perfecty looking and she sounds like she swallowed sand paper.  Hopefully she won't sound like Marge Simpson's sisters in her dotage, but her imperfections still make her likeable.  And in OAG she was just a little whiney, which kind of worked:  "Oh, Zack, why won't you just open up to me?"  Really?  Kind of cliched, but I guess it served the purpose of establishing some conflict. 

The scene I loved last night was when Paula (DW)'s mom stops her from chasing after Zack when he blows her off.  What a great mom thing to do.  I wish my mom had stopped me from making a fool of myself a few times, but then I guess I rarely let her know when I was about to act like an idiot.  But I digress.  So Paula shows up at the bar with a different (higher ranking) guy, and Zack realizes he's fucked up big time, and there you go.  Crisis of dead friend and big battle scene with Lou Gosset Jr., becoming a team player by getting the girl over the wall, and a trip into the paper factory in the ice cream suit.  Sigh. 

Oh, and I saw that David Caruso was the panicked drowning guy.  Huh.  Guess that was his message to get out of the military and go to the police academy.   

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Workspace (s)

So yesterday Summer hosted a Workspace Blogfest, and I didn't hop on the bus because, well, I just didn't.  But watching everyone else's stuff was kind of cool, so I'm going to show you where I wrote yesterday.  Now let me tell you this:  I spent a good hour on Saturday cleaning up a little corner of my bedroom and putting a nice pretty smelling candle on the table and making sure everything was very sweet and aesthetically pleasing so that I would have a nice place to anchor myself into writer-mode. 

These are the places I actually wrote my 3427 words yesterday:
 This is my desk at work.  As you can see, I was "on the ball", except I wasn't on the ball about doing actual work that I get paid for if I was NaNo-ing.  But the writing happened mostly when I was off the clock.  The ball is supposed to be a good ergonomic desk chair replacement to strengthen my abs and all that good stuff.  I'm not sure it works like it's supposed to since I spend most of my time bouncing through the lab.  But whatever.
 This is my sewing room.  I am embroidering a bunch of blankets for some little cheerleaders who won some sort of PeeWee Football cheerleading competition.  Do you detect a theme here?  Hint:  It's not "I'm the tidiest person in the world".
 This is BiRT, the Big Red Truck.  I like to drive it because I feel powerful, but I realized last night that when guys are checking me out as I drive by, it's not really me they are checking out.  It's the truck.  I should probably learn something about the size of BiRT's engine though, so I can carry on a conversation about him. 
This, at least, is aesthetically pleasing.  This is the view from Devou Park, in Covington, KY, and it overlooks Cincinnati and the Ohio River.  There to the right of the white sign is Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals stink things up on a regular basis.  The yellow arch next to the tree is the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge, AKA the Big Mac Bridge (golden arch).  My hero jumps off of this bridge in my story. 

Tuesday NaNo

Argh!  Okay, I got 3427 words down yesterday, and felt great when I went to bed.  Got up this morning and drove to work, and got hit with "Oh, what the hell am I thinking? I don't have time for this, I suck, I don't even really want to write!"  Why is this happening?  Because my internal editor didn't get enough sleep and had too much coffee.  I am 6.8% of the way there, and it's only day 2.  The goal here is to write a really shitty first draft--and I am really good at really shitty!  I have that attitude almost all the time! 

I figured out that BiRT, the Big Red Truck (get it, BiRT?  I just crack myself up) has a real plug thingy in him.  You know, the kind that real plugs go into, not the cigarette lighter kind?  How long did it take someone to figure out that this might be a useful adaptation for a vehicle?  Rather than researching grammar, maybe I need to look into the timing of the invention of the dashboard cigarette lighter, adapting that to electrical appliances and then converting it into a real plug.  Wow, that could be a story worthy of Geraldo Rivera (the vault's not empty today, peeps!).  Why on earth did it take until 2010 to put that in a car?  Oh, maybe it didn't take quite this long, because we haven't bought a new vehicle in years, but you know what I mean.

Oh, sorry, I was digressing.  ANYWAY, I foung the pluggy in BiRT yesterday and drove to the top of the hill at Devou Park, which overlooks the city of Cincinnati, plugged in my laptop and wrote a few hundred words. I like this.  I can have a new view from my office every day if I just drive BiRT around.  Of course, I discovered pretty quickly that I have to keep BiRT running to keep the power flowing, and since BiRT is diesel, that might not be the kindest thing for the rest of the world, so I might have to use some discretion. 

I took some pictures from my Crackberry, but haven't figured out how to do a blog post from it yet.  I missed Summer's blogfest of office spaces, but I'll try to post them later anyway.  Okay, I should probably do some real work for a while.  Ciao!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Today's new word: Aposiopesis

Since I am nearly completely incapable of finishing a sentence, I use the ellipsis VERY VERY often.  Except right there, I didn't, I finished a sentence.  OH, and did you see?  I just did there, too!  Anyway...
Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge says the following:
Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission") is a mark or series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word in the original text. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis) (apostrophe and ellipsis mixed). When placed at the end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech.
The most common form of an ellipsis is a row of three periods or full stops (...) or pre-composed triple-dot glyph (…). The usage of the em dash (—) can overlap the usage of the ellipsis.
The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, dot-dot-dot.
But did you see that cool thing in the middle there, the "aposiopesis"?  I didnt' know there was a word for when my characters talk like me!  I'm telling you-- this has made my day.   I decided that I was going to start learning a little more about grammar and punctuation, and here I learned TWO NEW THINGS IN ONE DAY!  I am also a big fan of the em dash.  I wonder if there are bumper stickers?

1354 down, 48,646 to go!

I started my NaNo Novel!  I fretted all day yesterday about getting started and how hard this is going to be and why do I want to do this anyway, I don't have the time. Then I wound up having to get up at 3:30 this morning to take my husband to the airport, so hey!  I have a couple of extra hours, so I got started.  Just do it.  I should sellt that to a shoe company, Just Do It.  I could be a jillionaire marketing genius. 

I logged on to NaNo (my user name over there is teriannestanley, add me as a buddy!) and updated my word count, but my little blue meter thingy didn't move much.  I mean, I'm 2.7% of the way there, for heaven sake.  I want some credit! 

I might be a little over stimulated from an excess of halloween candy, but I'm raring to go.  At this rate, I won't be out of ideas for another three days.  Shoot, by the end of the week I'll be done and published! 

Oh, and I had a brilliant idea last night.  I'm going to do a "grammar item of the week" post.  Every time I remember, for the next however long I care, I'm going to research an issue in grammar.  I was reading something, somewhere, about how spelling was not standardized through out much of written history (probably even less so in pre-written times, huh?).  So that made me start thinking about spelling and grammar, about punctuation, all that kind of stuff, and wondering who decides what is "right"?  Strunk and White?  Mr. Webster?  Bill Gates?  I mean, we hear every year about new words or new usages being entered into our lexicon ("friend" is now more of a verb than a noun).  What about punctuation?  What about those little smiley things :) at the end of a terse text message meant to soften the tone?

I'm going to start with my favorite, the ellipsis...  Stay tuned...