Saturday, October 31, 2009

Perennial Pumpkin Party

This is my last blog of October and I can proudly say I managed to meet the mission of NaBloWriMo and post a blog every day in October.  Tomorrow I change modes and become a frenzied writer for NoNoWriMo and will probably fall back to my 5 days a week pattern that I had carried before October.  As Insanity descends fully, blogs will probably cease to make sense and I will babble incoherently.  Never mind about that though, the Typical Tart will return in December (soon if the novel gets finished, which... I have an odd history of meeting my deadlines early because I hate it when things loom...)

For those of you who don't know, I've decided to go legit with NanoWriMo and start a completely original story, one that came to me recently after a conversation with my friend Courtney.  This is the gist:

All secret service workers are paranoid. Everybody knows that. What they don't know, is they don't start that way. They are made that way--made that way because it saves lives. Liza Dahlmer has worked for a super secret agency for the last fifteen years instilling that paranoia through any means necessary, but what happens when the tables are turned?

In the meantime, I am leaving you with a Halloween excerpt from CONFLUENCE.  It is a fun one...

Jessie had been happy to help Hannah with her costume, and it had been fairly easy. After all her years working with plays, she’d be a poor specimen if she couldn’t put together a pair of wings. She’d even already had the royal blue netting from a skirt she had worn for a strange fantasy production where she played a pixie.

On Saturday though, she passed on the pumpkin patch with Trish and her siblings. It didn’t sound like her kind of thing. Instead, she’d accepted Brian’s offer to go to a haunted barn. After some discussion they decided it was a group activity. Jessie invited Coqui and Lainey, and Brian invited Axe and Dave.

At seven Brian, Axe and Dave picked up Jessie and she guided them to Coqui’s where Lainey was also waiting.

Ms. Dexter was excited for them and had to snap a picture once Axe, Coqui, Lainey and Dave were arranged in the back of Axe’s truck. She winked at Jessie as they all drove off.

A skeleton waited at a gate, counted people and charged them their entry fee, handing Brian the receipt.

“This worth it?” Brian asked the skeleton.

“Scared the flesh off my bones,” the skeleton answered dryly.

They drove into a field of mud that was, fortunately, fairly frosted so they didn’t sink into it. As they parked, Jessie heard Lainey shriek and looked back to see a death mask fall below the tailgate.

“Nice. Started already,” Brian grinned.

There was a bang on Jessie’s window at which she started and said, “I’m coming out your side.”

Brian opened the door and hopped out, extending his hand to Jessie. Jessie could hear Lainey swearing and Coqui and Axe laughing. Dave just wore a smirk.

Lighting cast the parking lot in long shadows. Looking back they could see a few figures bobbing and lurching among the cars.

“Excellent!” Axe said as they walked, and then swore when somebody jumped out next to him then disappeared.

As they approached the line outside the door of the barn, they could hear screams and shrieks from inside, as well as the sounds that would accompany nearly any frightening situation they could imagine.

Suddenly a seven foot tall monster lurched out of the barn with a screaming girl on his shoulder. She appeared to be a normal visitor fighting to free herself. The Frankenstein looked at all the people and began to run away around the far side of the barn. A young man ran breathlessly after them. “Marie!”  He chased them.

“Wicked,” Coqui said.

“That wasn’t real was it?” Lainey asked.

“Earth to Lainey… Frankenstein…”

“No!  I mean the kidnapping. Did they really kidnap someone?”

“They’ve been doing this haunted barn for like… twenty years. If it was real, this place would have been shut down.”

Lainey didn’t look convinced and Dave draped an arm charitably around her shoulder which seemed to calm her. Jessie smirked at Dave.

It took almost twenty minutes to reach the front of the line and then a kindly, mystic looking woman carefully asked them whether their wills were in order and were they carrying an appropriate selection of poison antidotes. She checked their receipts, a light flashed, and she waved them through a door. Behind the door was a set of stairs, vaguely lit, which led to another door.

Through this door there appeared to be a stack of lightly lit coffins, though as soon as Axe and Coqui had cleared the door, it slammed shut behind them and all went black.

“Shit!”  Lainey complained.

There was a dot of red light, but nothing else. “I guess we go to that light?” Jessie suggested.

Suddenly a coffin next to her burst open and someone reached out to grab at them, a faint light emanated from the coffin so all else looked even blacker and only the corpse could be seen.

The whole building was like that, shadowed vision, blackness, something jumping out… chain saws, car engines, human grasping arms. Jessie had never been in a scarier haunted house, yet, she was able to maintain her rational ‘this isn’t real’ in the back of her mind… until the moment she was actually grabbed.

“Holy crap!  Brian!”  And she was pulled off to a room where she was blindfolded.

“Trust us,” she heard. “We picked you because you can handle it. We need a customer a few times a night to keep it real.”

As she was shuttled down some sort of corridor she felt her hand scrape on something. “Crap!  Ouch!"

“What happened?”

“I think I cut myself.”

She felt herself seated, “here, use this.”  A tissue was put in her hand and she wrapped it around the back of her hand. She felt her face being painted, her hair was ratted, a ragged, ripped coat was thrown on her. Her hand seemed better and the girl doing her make-up confirmed that it looked fine. Then she was scuttled down a corridor, un-blindfolded. A hot vampire winking hat her, took her tissue, and put her into what looked like an open grave. “Your friends are the next ones through, beg for help,” he instructed.

Jessie appreciated the brilliant theatrics at work. The people who’d taken her disappeared and another door opened.

“Brian!”  She called.

“What the… Jessie, what happened?”

“Down here!”  And then a light glowed by her foot.

Lainey screamed, “Oh my god, they killed her!”

“Help me out!”  Jessie pleaded.

Brian and Dave pulled her out and then a cackling man rushed through the next door. Brian and Dave both clung tight to Jessie as he grabbed her arm, so he kept running.

There was one last scare as the floor seemed to crumble, but they only fell about six inches and then they saw the last red dot of light and burst out into the exit area.

“Holy shit that was scary!  Oh my f***ing gawd!”  Lainey was beside herself and even Coqui and Brian looked shaken. Axe looked confused, as if he thought he’d been tricked. Only Dave and Jessie seemed to be adjusted.

“Photo of your petrified selves?”  A voice offered from behind a counter.

They stepped over. The man looked at them and pulled up a shot on a computer screen. “You,” he pointed at Jessie. “For being a good sport, you get one on the house. Everyone else, five bucks a print.”

“Good sport?”

“I’ll explain later,” Jessie said.

Brian and both girls bought a photograph of the six of them looking horrified. It was a funny picture.
Back in town at a diner Jessie explained over desserts.

“Well I’d be jealous except everyone here keeps staring at you like you’re insane,” Coqui offered.

It hasn't gone through my final polish, but I thought it was fun an Halloweenish... so there you go...

Have a great Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pesky Pranksters Past

This is not about writing, but it IS a true story, and it is rather Halloweeny, so I'm going with that...

It was a dark and stormy night.

Now wait... clichéd...

I was recently participating in a reading/writing blog and someone (in the spirit of Halloween} asked "what is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you related to a book or movie... I gave a short version of the story below and a woman contacted me asking if she could quote it in an article.  The article will be or was (need to find out) in the Spokesman Review (ironic, as it occurred just  80 miles from Spokane, when I am now so far, and the blog owner is in New York, I think).  It reminded me just how good a story it was...

I suppose I should set it up first...

I came to reading late... not the ability, but the love. The primary problem was I thought I was all that, as they say now... far too mature for 'kid's books' but not skilled enough for adult books. I read a little smut when I could get my hands on it (made me feel older) but it took me a while to find my genre. In sixth grade a girl moved in down the block... I'll call her Mildred for now (explained next section) whose mom read a book a day—voracious reader (and extremely nice lady)... in 7th grade Mildred read a book called Amityville Horror... and I borrowed it... and really liked it... I wanted more...

And then she showed up with The Shining... (also borrowed that from Mildred and her mom). I fell in love with the genre, the author, and reading (pretty important in the grand scheme of things). I loved all the psychic stuff I now know is called paranormal, I loved the setting... I loved that a book I was capable of reading had actually captured my attention and imagination. And yes... I liked that it was scary.

The Players...

[Beatrice, Mildred & Gertrude]

I had a lot of friends from a lot of different groups of people all the way through, but when I did things in a group, the group I was 'a part of' had four key people through most of Junior High. These three nuts, and me.

Junior High girls, being what they are, pass notes between classes so they have something to DO in their classes (heaven forbid they'd pay attention), but a few crafty teachers did things like posting all confiscated notes on the bulletin board, or reading them out loud... We were prepared... we tried code, but it was cumbersome... instead, we just gave everybody an alternate name and called it good... if nobody knew who we were talking about, it couldn't be all THAT embarrassing... I was Prudence (a name bestowed by Gertrude which I am obviously STILL trying to prove false)... the others, Mildred and Gertrude, (obviously), and Beatrice... there was at a time also Suzy Chapstick, but she moved at the end of 8th grade...

Our group of girls had a corresponding group of boys (as groups of girls are likely to do) and since I have no memory at all of what we called them in our notes, and I've done some thinking about parallels, I am going to call the three involved in this story Sirius, James and Remus [and no, to my HPANA friends who've heard me say I married Sirius—not this one, but YES, this IS the Sirius depicted in Awakening, though he plays a smallish role here... in fact it is possible it was a DIFFERENT 3rd with James and Remus *annoyed with faulty memory*]

Back to the story...

So Mildred and I had read the book and Beatrice and Gertrude had not when The Shining was made into a movie (for the first time) in spring of 1980. Of note is the fact that the movie came out 5 days after Mt. St. Helen's blew. In Moscow, Idaho, where we all lived, we got almost an inch of ash settling on the streets, creating a spooky apocalyptic feel and canceling school for the rest of the year, so there was a MOOD present, as well as the antsiness that comes from not being able to get out much and having school unexpectedly canceled.

We decided to go to the movie (only my second R movie, if I remember right) and then spend the night at Beatrice's house. [girls of 13 and 14 come in packs and rarely have a weekend without a sleepover, so this is all run-of-the-mill...]

We were all dropped off at the movie theater downtown (anyone remember stand-alone theaters?) and watched... the movie was not LIKE the book, but it had a few spooky additions... Jack Nicholson was divine... Overall I love the book much better, but I think the visuals of the movie played into the rest of the night.

We went back to Beatrice's house and sat around her kitchen table doing that finger thing Danny does, saying “REDRUM, REDRUM,” and “Heeeeeeeere's Johnny!”

Mildred was decidedly spooked, telling the rest of us to stop. Gertrude was hysterically amused, laughing and not particularly sympathetic to our spooked friend. Beatrice and I... middle grounders... went back and forth a little. My memory may be playing tricks on me, but it seems to me SHE was more participatory downstairs, while I was my meek mild mannered self *glares at unbelievers*. The reason I think so is strictly this... as an only child, I had not mastered (or learned to enjoy) teasing somebody and she is the younger sister of a MERCILESS teaser, and so had.

We all went upstairs to get ready for for bed. As we walked into Beatrice's room (on the second floor, mind you) across her bedroom window was REDRUM in red.

Mildred screamed... and screamed and screamed and screamed. I think I screamed at first.  Beatrice screamed but then got MAD (I now believe because of how upset this had made Mildred), Beatrice's mother ran in, stark naked, to see who was dying... and all the while Gertrude was laughing hysterically—she'd never SEEN anything so funny. I went back and forth... I mean... It was a GOOD JOKE, but I was sympathetic to the upset Mildred, or so I remember it... I'm not positive it came across at the time...

In the aftermath...

We learned that the Marauders, who knew we'd gone to the movie that night, sat outside the kitchen window and listened to us scaring each other (laughing all the while). Remus and James (at the very least... I don't think Sirius made it to the roof) then climbed onto the garage roof with a tube of lipstick stolen from one of their mothers (probably Marilyn, as Remus called his mum), and wrote REDRUM (of course they remembered that from the OUTSIDE for it to look right, what they really had to write was MURDER. They didn't make it off the roof before we came in, and I think it was James who twisted his ankle leaping off the roof.

And I'm pretty darned sure Beatrice's mom called and made them come over and get on the roof to clean the lipstick off the window a few days later, but I might be making that part up... it would be very in character, though--Beatrice's mom has a certain undeniable authority when she gets that look in her eye, even today.

Oh, that's a fond memory... Even Mildred enjoys it in retrospect!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peer Pressure Persuades Posse o' Participants

Okay, that's overkill, isn't it?

S'not. It's only 3.

That's that Monty Python Math again, isn't it. You're trying too hard.

It's Thursday. I'm nearly always silly on Thursday. And no. That is NEW Monty Python Maths, which is entirely different from old Monty Python Maths (see how when we're British, Maths is plural—in the US we claim to only have one math, but it's a LIE!). 'Nyway... The seventies were about exaggeration (old MP Maths). Now we are cutting back (new MP Maths).

Oh. Right.

IS EVERYBODY NAKED? Don't forget! It's Naked Thursday in the Common Room!

I am not really a follower, and in many respects that is the personality you want in your children. The trouble, is some independent leaderly-minded children just may take my approach and haul their friends full speed ahead into trouble. That was me this week. Yes, we're talking about NaNoWriMo again. Just thought, since it was Naked Thursday I would bare myself and share some of these tactics for peer influence in case YOU TOO want to shame, persuade, tempt, or dare your friends into action.

Social Ostracization.

Used this just yesterday and nearly nabbed Mari! Of course it is one of the tactics that WORKED with Stacy. Repeat after me: “All the cool kids are doing it!”

In case you're slow... (and I'm not saying you are) this implies nearly subliminally, almost invisibly, but ever-so-understandably, that anyone who is NOT doing it must not be cool!

The Carrot (or whatever phallus seems most tempting to your target)

In this case I dangled a Chippendale dancer. I knew my target from years of association, and felt this would be the most effective form of temptation. After all, we've only ever eaten one meal together, so I'm not even sure she LIKES carrots. Nearly Naked, peck laden, washer-boarded, eye candy with dance talent on the other hand... *fans self*


I've often heard puppy dog eyes as the expression for PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE. I've had the picture next door thrown at me. In this case however, I gave llama eyes. Have you ever LOOKED at a llamas eyes? Llamas have deep soulful eyes, with unusually long lashes. They're really quite exceptional. So I took my chances that my subject had been up close and personal with a llama (aside from me that is) and gave her llama eyes...

Gross Exaggeration about how easy and fun it will be

“Only 1667 words a day! That's nothin!” (and in the presence of inspiration, it really ISN'T bad.) Absent inspiration? Huoah boy... But I had FAITH that my subject is properly inspired, after all, I'd just dangled Chip & Dale in front of her, along with the full 64-pack that is their abdomins!

And finally, the big guns. THREATS...

We'll talk about you if you aren't there! This taps into the insecure teen in all of us. NOBODY wants to be TALKED about! (well maybe me, but I'm freaky that way).

So if any of you are wanting to exert undue influence on your friends and loved ones, just follow these simple measures...

Now go out there and have a GREAT Naked Thursday!
(all the cool kids are doing it)


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pen and Paper Pathways

Like many writers, I survived my angsty youth by writing. I credit part of the discovery to my friend Melinda, who I met at camp between 5th and 6th grade who was the world’s BEST pen pal. I’d write. She’d write back. I’d write back… For over a decade we wrote probably a dozen letters a month. We shared pre-teen stuff, then early teen… in our teens we added in song lyrics and poetry (mostly stuff I wrote from my end—she did more seeking out of things that fit). She introduced me to the Psychedelic Furs (angsty stuff if ever there was any)—you see, I was in a hard rock town. She was across the state border in a much more cosmopolitan place (Pullman drawing students from Seattle—a resource Moscow just didn’t have). Oh, sure… chuckle if you like. It is how I saw it then.

A year or two after I met Melinda I began journaling… adding boys to my pen pal list… writing that bad poetry I mentioned… I don’t know what other kids did after school, but largely I sat with the television on and wrote. Sure, I had a lot of friends, and did things with them sometimes (more often weekends it seems). And I did gymnastics (yes, I realize I’m almost six feet tall, but my balance and flexibility were at one time quite good). But I wrote wrote wrote.

In college I kept up the pen pals. And for a couple years I kept up the journaling, until I had a boyfriend who felt that not SHOWING him was hiding stuff from him. Fine. I just won’t write then (I know now I should have just drawn the line with the boyfriend—it’s private and if you can’t live with that, I can’t live with the relationship).

I majored in Journalism and Psychology, but with Journalism, I actually feared the writing… okay… not the writing… I liked that… the TALKING TO PEOPLE. That is the part I feared. Interview? No way… Advertising was my emphasis… I know a lot about the media. I know the rules of copywriting and press releases… but I never did take a news writing class because I was afraid of talking to people.

Enter the Computer:

I only took one term of computers in college and it was a strange Mac programming class, but when I graduated I knew I’d have an advantage if I learned a little, so I signed up for a Dos/WordPerfect/Lotus class that summer that I did my internship. When I got my job at the end of the summer, that class made me the expert in my office for using the solitary computer the account service people shared.

I used it to type minutes from meetings (because they always needed editing) but the typewriter at my desk was for letter (at first)… As I got more proficient, I used the computer for more (after all, I was the only one who could).

THEN I took my business hiatus… you see… I got a little wary of advertising… it lost its glamour and so when I got a new HORRIBLE boss, I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to find another advertising job. Instead I took up waitressing and applied to graduate school.

GRAD SCHOOL! Now, four years later, everything is EXPECTED to be done by computer… I bought a Mac and did what I needed. The summer between years of graduate school I even wrote half a book on my Mac (directly into the computer, no less). It was a horror novel, and must have been terribly campy, thinking back on it (I only have it on an old Mac disc that I may at SOME point try to retrieve, but I already know it’s bad. It would only be for nostalgia.

I guess my point is post grad school I’ve written quite a lot professionally, all on a computer. But the content is scientific. The grammar is proper and cool, and the content is given in a prescribed way.

Four years ago (last Sunday, in fact) I began my first effort at fiction after the 1993 effort at a novel. A dozen years later a few things were different. I had two children, my home computer was no longer sitting in the center of activity, and I’d gotten in the habit of taking a bath every night to unwind. So I began The Other Prince (a fan fiction story about Eileen Snape) in my bathtub…recycled paper (no lines) on a clip board, mostly, all long hand.

I was surprised how easily the story flowed… then again I’d had a plan for some mid points and the ending (something I’d never had before and learned (read: finally accepted) made for better books from my Harry Potter discussions).

Since that time, I’ve written a few ‘episodes’ at the computer, and I have several short stories I’ve written that way. You know what? People notice. My ‘voice’ is not the same at the computer. It is either clinical (my professional voice) or overly zany (my forum/blog/Facebook voice). I don’t get the characterization right. My dialog is jilted. So I have come to a conclusion…


You know how there are things you can do that you can’t explain? Skills that are so automatic that trying to teach someone is just really difficult. The brain is an amazing thing. People who injure part of it and have to learn new methods of doing things are acutely away. I’ve heard to this referred to as brain paths—the routes our thinking takes to accomplish something. And everyone can learn new paths, provided there are enough alternate routes, but it takes time.

I believe my brain path for ‘creating’ is intertwined with the handwriting, and that the path that goes through computer usage has been filled with the tails (the super serious and super silly) of the kinds of things I can produce.

I’ve asked my HPANA friends this, but am curious about others. I think this is related to three things: 1) age, 2) a habit of having hand written (journaling, letters, etc) and 3) conflicting things you might use the computer for.

So informal poll… how do you do it, and what are the answers (generally) to the above three questions… then I can provide some stats for you!!! (okay, so nobody gets excited about stats like I do… it still might be interesting…

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Parade of Primal Peeps

I've noticed an interesting trend... or rather, lack thereof...

I emerged as a writer in the Potterverse, deeply immersed among like minds... like an underwater birth, and I swam with people who were as in love with the content as I was for months (years now). I'm not saying they would have liked anything I wrote, but they are an open-minded bunch, so long as nobody does anything TOO far out there. I know... if anyone is going to be far out there, it is me, but I was always a canon stickler, so my shocks were more outrageous in other ways, than in ways that tend to rile up this crowd. In fact by now, most of them have joined the Naked World Domination Tour. They are my people.

I've been thrilled, but not terribly surprised, that much of this group has either come along this independent writer journey with me, or at least been regularly supportive as I transform from a fan fiction writer to an original fiction writer. This group ALSO was the source of my first Facebook friends, so they have gotten the day to day madness all along.

But What About All Those People Who Love Us… Like from forever?

[I’m in the middle of the back row]

Among my friends accumulated over a lifetime, it has been downright intriguing to see who is interested and who is not. It may be as simple as those with a writing interest are interested in the process a writer is going through, but the takers and the 'non-takers' among those old friends could be the content for a psychological dissertation I think.

I should probably confess I am a lousy correspondent. Pre-Facebook I lost a lot of people for years at a time. I am lucky if I get Christmas cards sent every third year. I don't like the telephone and rarely use it. I live on the other side of the country from most of my friends and family. I'm a recluse. That said, I AM the one among my high school 'clique' who gets a group email going now and again so we can all catch up... I tracked down several people in my high school class to pester them into joining Facebook. Being anti-social doesn't mean I don't LIKE people (I adore people, in fact I think I have far fewer people I dislike than average—I can find things I really like about almost everyone). It just means I am more comfortable interacting in written form, but have managed to get too busy for the individual letters I used to be so prolific with. I only have about two friends I correspond with one-on-one with any regularity via email, and one of them was part of my new batch of Harry Potter friends who I just happen to have a lot in common with. So I think I'm clear I'm not exactly dishing the love, either...

But back to my train of thought...

Artists for the most part, are interested... they are among those who create, who know that part of the soul goes into what we do... painters, sculptors, singers... all of them. They are happy for other artists succeeding, and supportive of the process. The artists among my friends, even people who were once more peripheral friends, are FABULOUS this way.

Other than that, I haven't been able to sort the hows and whys. There is a little bit of 'who has time', but that isn't entirely it. Of my aforementioned high school clique... not one. No takers. They haven't a clue what I'm doing (or if they do, have not said 'boo' about it, in spite of my flashing nature, so they KNOW I have written a book)--yes, a busy group mostly, but I find it odd. Yet other friends from high school I've had long conversations with—some I didn't even know all that well at the time, but they've been amazing and hugely supportive (including ALL the people who are friends with my author profile or follow here)...

College friends aren’t quite so mysterious, as I was terrible, terrible, terrible at keeping in touch with this set after college, so I am just honored ANY of them are around, and there are a few.

My family? My cousin's wife reads. I know my uncle HAS and he is always really nice when he does. But my aunt and mom have both received portions of CONFLUENCE and have never said a word (maybe it is the swearing in chapter 1). I just find the whole dynamic fascinating. I guess it’s possible they hate it (and there are some not very nice mothers in there, so it’s possible I’ve offended, though neither of these are based on MY mother—other than the neat freak thing, but the BOOK neat freak is sort of a cold fish and my neat freak mother is very warm (possibly too warm… she doesn’t grasp why I am more aloof)—my point being, neither mother has anything to do with mine.

I am really curious what other writers have found. I am PARTICULARLY curious if it changes on publication... if maybe people keep their distance because they are skeptical--incapable of being supportive without evidence. It's possible I have a really wonky batch of friends ( I KNOW I have a wonky family), or maybe this is why so many writers stay in the closet so long... but I'd love to hear.

Also from FOLLOWERS… is it a curiosity about the WRITING or the WRITER? Though I suppose that is an awkward one to throw out there… I am just deeply curious about the WHY of the people who are interested.  Hoping for some insight on the NOT.


All that said... there is another parade of peeps going on... I have been comfortable with my writing legs for a little while now. It has been four years since starting to share what I write, three since diving into CONFLUENCE in a committed way—my first original. I now have two books under my belt and am well into a third. But this NaNoWriMo thing has sent me running for the comfort of companions who have been part of this process with me all along.

I mentioned Tara and Maria both joining yesterday. [everybody pray to the computer gods for Tara’s laptop] I found out about another taker, Auriga, who I admire all to heck, because not only does she tell a great story, she tells them in English, when her native tongue is German. A couple more might join and I just have to say, that as much as I ADORE the new writing community I've become a part of, it gives me a little extra courage to be surrounded by peeps who've been with me since I first came out. (Tara was my first ever reader!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pre-Phrenzied Phobias

Last night I had what can only be described as anxiety dreams. You know the kind... you show up to work naked, class with no pants (which never seemed to bother me, oddly). You have a test and have never been to class before (this was my early iteration). For me my most recent variety is the restaurant I am waitressing at is slammed and I can't even seem to get one drink out to them. Do you know what last night's anxiety dream entailed? Blogging. Blogging about NaNoWriMo no less. I think it is conclusive proof that I am caught up in the frenzy.

So let's examine the matter. Why would signing up for something that only amounts to 5,000 words different in a month than I already try to do anyway stress me out?

Is it the Big Brother effect?

The fact of the matter is, a nudist rather parades her stuff all the time anyway. I am constantly flashing. Look at me! But you know what? It is only when I'm naked. When I go in for a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, you don't hear about it. So maybe it isn't so much the audience nature, as the CONSTANT nature. That waitressing dream was like that. It was the relentlessness that made it suddenly hard to handle.

Is it because the blind are leading the blind?

I've convinced at least two friends, possibly more, to do this with me. Do I know what I'm doing? Not at all. So what do I do? Pray on innocent victims. One assures me she has considered it before, and the other is part of my writer's group who I would VERY MUCH like to have the confidence of a done novel behind her because she is working on something BRILLIANT but often has life get in the way (and lack of appropriate hardware). So I don't feel terribly guilty on that front.

Is it the frantic pace?

I think this might be it. I just spent a weekend at that pace. 2000 words each on Friday and Saturday, and 2500 last night. It is a doable pace, but normally I settle down for my writing time and start with a SUDOKU or something... sort of relax my brain... Oddly, after Friday's acupressure session, I don't feel I HAVE to have that to write (concentration was on relaxing and letting creativity flow), but maybe I do have to have that so the writing doesn't get to me--write first, SUDOKU after... Jury is still out on that one.

Whatever the case, I can see how this who process is a major group rush and why it seems to be addictive for the people who try it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Outlining Orgy

So like everything else in my life, I typically fly by the seat of my pantslessness on outlines... sort of... I outline, but vaguely, and only when it sort of occurs to me what I can't possibly forget to include and how it ought to flow. I start with the set-up, a few characters, and if an ending doesn't occur to me soon, I know I have some thinking to do before committing (the simmering stage). Then I map a few key events and start writing, not REALLY outlining, ever, but mapping a main point per chapter when it finally occurs to me... much easier to write with a path.
So COINCIDENCE is the second in a trilogy, and the first is DONE and the last is partially planned, so I knew where this one had to END, but the middle has been more murky as I dug in... how to get from point A to point C is obviously B, but what font? Do I need serifs? Uppercase? Lowercase? Am I overdoing the metaphor?

I was plugging away regardless, but on my (YAY) power walk this morning, I went back to a thought that had occurred to me when I first added the main twist that stuck... and I dug deeper... and I think I understand now where I have to go! That all sounds a little cryptic, but I feel like it has to, because unlike hints in a first book, hints about a second give TOO MUCH on the first.

Teasers on my thought process...

This trilogy started with a dream that I was writing and felt 'watched' and realized there were kids living in the walls and hidden rooms of my house.

Second block... a song from The Living End about a woman who misunderstands her husband's 'double life'.

Then the letters thing I've blogged about before that stuck Athena into the mix... and a whole lot of spiraling mojo having to do with Romania, Portland, etc.


First NEW block for book 2...
Offspring song about the kid who turns out mysteriously to be a pretty good assassin (though the song isn't clear if it is metaphor)--whatever the case... an unlikely bad guy.

And I was plugging away, but without the serious mojo... But that idea, of an unlikely bad guy... someone who does the wrong things for the right reasons... planted a Star Wars thought... Anekin. So I've been looking at his motivations and my OWN plans have finally begun to solidify for at least this strand of the story. YAY!

I love it when things finally fall into place.

More News

I am officially signed up for NaNoWriMo and if anyone wants to buddy me there, I would LOVE some friends along for the ride. I am hartjohnson, as I didn't know people used silly, fun names until I signed up. Even before it starts it feels a little crazy and chaotic... I think I'm supposed to be at a meet up right now, but life got in the way...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Orthogonal Order

Yeah, yeah. It's a statistical term, but I swear it will make sense by the end. The only challenge is following my wonky brain that far.



I've mentioned before that my intention is to be really hot by my book tour, right? Never mind that I haven't found an agent or publisher yet. I WILL, and by that time, I need to look much better if I am to inflict my naked self on the reading public. But for the last two years, I've had repeated attempts of micro-progress, then giving up. I don't seem able to follow Weight Watcher anymore (something I've had great luck with in the past—never mind that I can't seem to keep the weight off for more than a couple years—3 at my longest stretch—it is always a major routine change that blows it—moving, new job, pregnancy—though that last one is no longer a possibility, thankfully).

I've also mentioned finding an old college friend who does acupuncture and acupressure, the later focused on food cravings. So I had my first session yesterday. She likes to focus on one food category at a time, because it is more effective that way, so I chose.

Confession time. I focused on alcohol, because those are the empty calories that I was loathe to give up—drink after work, two in the tub when I write. I felt like I needed the first to let go of my day, and the latter two to sort of let the creativity flow.  Unfortunately... relaxed inhibitions also lead to more snacking, so I felt this would be the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak.

So the session focused on not needing the alcohol to relax—in other words, on relaxing in OTHER ways, and it was pretty cool. I got home and felt no compulsion to do my normal thing (fetch a glass of merlot). I filled a water bottle, stretched, typed a little, got called to dinner, and you know what? I wasn't as starving there either, even though we didn't work on that. We had stew and I bypassed both roll and seconds (typically I might do both, surely at least one). I even recognized my stomach feeling full as something I'd sometimes mistaken for hunger (weird, that—hubby thought it was really strange until I explained HE didn't have food issues. I did.--he is now considering acupressure for smoking.)

Evening was fine. Bath was fine. And strangeness of all strangeness... I wrote a whole chapter. It is 10 pages, though I did incorporate about two pages I had set aside when I went back and started earlier in the story—but fresh 2000 words... so alcohol-free creativity—definitely accessible.

This Morning's Power Walk

So this morning I had a few bills to pay and mail so I decided to walk the opposite direction of what I normally do because I pass the post office, but wanted to drop mail earlier than later in my walk. I seriously considered going another route from there, and then it occurred to me... why do I ALWAYS go counter clockwise? The session yesterday had an integration piece at the end-uniting left and right brain, which reminded me of the chick up top... spinning one way if you use one side, the other if you use the other.

I am a statistician who uses my left brain almost all the time... but it is the RIGHT brain that is creative, yes?

So I walked the route I normally do, but backward. I was tempted to take all these tangents and do all these other routes, but I kept going (funny, because walking the normal way, there is no tangent temptation whatsoever... but it felt like an integration of sorts...

And so what does Statistics have to do with this?

When a person asks a set of questions that gets at... say, COPING (something I did a lot of analysis on this week at work) then the questions can get at DIFFERENT components of that idea (say, passive coping and active coping, just to simplify it a lot). The NORMAL assumption is that the questions that measure one kind have nothing to do with the other kind... they are INDEPENDENT or OBLIQUE. Now that's just a lot of silliness when the ideas are part of the same thing (COPING). In fact wide dependence on one tells us there is less dependence on the other... they are correlated (if negatively), and so ORTHOGONAL—overlapping, but separate pieces of one broader idea.

Now I am thinking the brain sometimes gets into ruts and behaves obliquely... no communication between the two, and it takes some effort for us to change mode. Having a strong left brain tells us NOTHING about what the right brain can and cannot do (some are great with that too, others not so much--knowing one, doesn't tell us about the other). But this process has given me an orthogonal brain! They are talking, and what one does is moving with the other.

My conclusion... I think that session integrated more parts of my brain than just those necessary pieces to not count on alcohol to relax... it freed me to go back and forth a little more easily... I am excited to see where I can go with it, and if it lasts.

[note:  she always goes counter clockwise for me and today she is going clockwise)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Odious Ornery Ode

Pants, how I hate them,
Zipped, buttoned, or tied.
They squish and they bind
My free spirit inside.

Legs should be naked,
so should the behind.
A more comfy feeling,
You may never find.

Pants should be outlawed,
And hung up like drapes.
Reserved for the criminals,
Malfoys and Snapes.

And Death Eater pants,
As everyone knows,
Are tied up with satin
ribbons and bows.

Because in all of this
Banning of pants
I still like them cross-dressed
when I make them dance.

NaNoWriMo REBEL!!!!

Wahoo! Oh, my rebel roots run deep. (I think I've told this story). I've never liked to follow rules, but I still like to play. And guess what?! NaNoWriMo lets me!!!

There is an OFFICIAL STATUS within NaNoWriMo of 'Rebel'.

The rules of Unrebellion:
1.Start with nothing. (you can have an idea in your head. They could hardly stop that, but you are NOT supposed to have written ANYTHING yet.)
2.It is fiction.
3.You are to write a novel of at least 50,000 words beginning November 1st and done by November 30th.
[Did you know fan fiction qualifies? It is FICTION.]


I think by now you all know my opinion of 50,000 words. *cough*shortstory*cough*. Not NEARLY enough words for character development. And do you know what I call a plot with no character development? An outline.

Under rebel status however, I can continue my 'in-progress WiP' and there is even a forum to network with others who are doing the same!

So because there is a rebel status, and because you don't have to drop everything, but rather just take a break from editing to WRITE MADLY, I'm encouraging any writers (or timid wondering IF you're writers) to participate.

Even if you're writing non-Fiction.
Even if you're writing from a number of different pieces.

The world NEEDS rebels!!!!

I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Operating on Osmosis

(Or Novice Networking)

I've been doing my Author Facebook profile for six months now. It was about the time I finished what I THOUGHT was my final edit of CONFLUENCE, and I started looking for ways to network. I don't remember the date I created the profile, but I do remember the process:

--> Google: search writer networking

I stumbled across, nearly instantly, Jessica Faust's blog entry on social networking (a few months old at the time) with the clear statement that SHE had two profiles: one agent, one personal, and that if people wanted to friend her agent profile, that was FINE. She also was very clear (and has been ever since, as are several other agents), “can't hurt to ask”.

So in that 'seat of the pantsless' way I do things, I created my author profile, invited my writer's group to friend me so I didn't appear to be a loser, then friended Jessica. Then I proceeded to scan HER friends and send friend requests to obvious authors.

How does one FIND obvious authors you ask... At first 1) by a book cover for a profile pic, or 2) a status related to writing or promoting a book. Easy peasy.

Beth Groundwater was the first author I really started tracking. She was preparing for a book tour and so had lots of guest blogs she was reporting and she was kind and responsive, so I also started scanning HER friends. I think that is where I found Elizabeth, though I may be misattributing (it IS what I do). And I've been following Elizabeth around ever since, mostly because she is so nice and gracious about it and seems to be doing all the right things.

Enter Blogging

I started blogging four months ago. Similar approach, but MUCH more work. Instead of pressing 'like' a lot and making a comment now and again, I had to both SAY SOMETHING (preferably something a little interesting, though I've had commentless days that I wonder...)AND (and this is the part you don't think about) spend quite a lot of time reading OTHER people's blogs and commenting (so THEY KNOW I'm reading)--PLUS, commenting on someone's blog who isn't one of YOUR followers often brings them seeking out YOUR blog. Initially I frantically invited tons of FB friends to follow, but anymore, I think most new followers are people I've read, commented on, and followed.

Now there are people worth following and reading you DON'T have to comment on. Nathan Bransford is not going to notice my comment from among the 400 OTHER comments (though I do tend to comment when he polls, being a good statistician and all). There just is an area of diminishing returns where... to comment, I feel obliged to read the OTHER comments to make sure I'm not just repeating a point, and is all THAT effort worth the miniscule possibility that somebody might notice my presence?

I guess my point is... I've made relatively good progress, probably because I have been following Elizabeth and she has such nice friends... Funny thing is though, I was the first of my writer's group really out of the gate with this networking thing... Natasha... erm... Rayna... had been blogging a long time, as had Jen, but I was the first one with a BOOK I was trying to sell, and so a reason to pester strangers into letting me wiggle my way in.

But now that the tart has tested the water, a few others have decided to join me. And guess what?! I'M A ROLE MODEL! *snort* But I find each of them brings something new. Mari has even been tracking down pantsless people for me *waves at Paul* to follow and I find instead of her borrowing MY friends and followers, I am now borrowing some of hers.

I guess what I'm saying REALLY is you don't have to know what you're doing. Dive in. follow. Feel around. It is sort of a squishy melding thing anyway, but if you put in a little effort, it seems to almost happen by accident... or osmosis...


Breaking news! I know I dissed it as impossible for a working girl... and I am not actually under the illusion I could write a WHOLE book in a month... and the way I write isn't actually conducive (long-hand, typed later)... but I've decided to participate anyway. Say what? See, here's my thinking. Amped wordcount goals. Good. Meeting other writers frantically writing? Good. Finding people who LIVE IN MY TOWN writing? Good. [I'm very excited about this aspect actually—there are 650 writers from Ann Arbor signed up. I only know two other fiction writers here, one VERY cool—Colleen, you rock!, and the other I once suggested years of therapy for to the principal of a school where both our children attended... she won't want to be friends with me anyway though, if she even recognizes my name, but I know how to run from her... besides, we have VERY different genres] I can participate in the spirit of it (and Dani said I could)... What I figure I will DO is discuss the book I am WRITING for process, but share pieces of the one I am TYPING—it's all part of the same trilogy, and I never WAS one to follow the rules to the letter. I figure it's only cheating if I claim at the end I wrote something in a month or enter the contest, neither of which I plan on.

And so I will leave you with this thought from Chad Kroeger… my morning mantra, because it was the last song on my iPod on my Power Walk, and it seemed so appropriate to my current state of madness...

“We got no fear, do doubt, all in, balls out!”

Weeeeeeeeee! (he doesn't say that part... it is just my natural response to Chad Kroeger and adrenaline) Oh, Chad... kicking isn't the only thing I'd like to do...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Owesome Opportunity *shifty*

Ember in Wrilogonzia

Introduction: Late last week I saw an aye aye, possibly the cutest little creature in existence on Facebook, so I followed the link and saw what is effectively a round robin opportunity... one story teller at a time, the next person claims a spot, and together we are writing a fun little tale. Before you read my little addition today, please check out the introduction, and 2nd and 3rd posts of the story, all linked here:

Ember Explainer, Story Start and Links

Though in summary, Ember has fallen asleep at her computer and is “Jumping” through the blogosphere, so order is only necessary for the links between to make sense after the first.


Ember felt a persistent poking. Three small fingers in the small of her back. She wanted it to stop; she was having such a comfortable sleep.

“Psst. Wake up!” The whisper was urgent.

Poke, poke, poke.

“If you don't wake up you're...”

And it was gone, but that made her lift her drowsy head. The plank table she'd fallen asleep on was being moved. It was Della.

“I'm so sorry Ember, but the Master was rejected this afternoon. Third time this week. When I mentioned you were here, he said he'd rather eat you than meet you.”

Ember spotted the open oven edging closer. “Surely that was a figure of speech!”

“I'm sorry. He's very cruel when we disobey.”

Ember tried to move her legs but they were frozen, petrified, like every nightmare she had ever had. “No! This can't be happening!” Computer. Computer. If only she could reach her computer. She closed her eyes. Screen saver. That's why she couldn't move, her computer had fallen asleep.

She squeezed her eyes shut tighter, envisioning her hands on the keyboard. If only she could...


It was only as she hit enter that she saw she hadn't pressed the S. Tart. She was going to be baked into a tart!

But suddenly she found herself immersed in water. Where was Misty when she needed a save? She was a bad swimmer! And who ever heard of a Watery Tart? That made no sense. Finally her legs propelled her through the top of the water.

“There you are!” A llama exclaimed with obvious relief! “I worried you wouldn't get out of that one, but there you pop like Mr. Happy! Though I would have recommended another location.”

“Who are you?”

“Hello! Perhluna? Remember? I spent almost an hour on top of you!”

“But you're a llama.”

Perhluna rolled his eyes, for some reason she was sure the llama was male. “She has rules. The Komosny who visit can only take certain forms. Badgers, otters, squirrels, chipmunks, and innuendo llamas.”

“So why would you choose to be an innuendo llama?” she raised an eyebrow incredulously.

“As luck would have it, it is the only one with the gift of speech.”

Ember was sure now that she was being subject to a grand joke, when suddenly Jack Sparrow approached. “Ember, love! So good to see you again!”

He took her hand and began to suckle each finger.

“Again? I think I'd remember...”

“I'm hurt! You've forgotten! Jerome? We barely escaped...”

“But you used to look like Jude Law?”

“Like the llama said, love. Her rules.” Jack... erm... Jerome, led her to a lounge chair and Aragorn son of Arathorn brought over a tropical looking pitcher and an iced glass. It was only then she realized how warm it was.

“This is sort of nice... tropical... handsome men... drinks...”

“Oh, you'll love it here, love,” Jerome assured her, seating himself on the ground near her chair. She'll make you lose these though.” He tugged at the knee of her pajama bottoms.

She frowned.

“It's part of her trap,” the annoying llama warned. “She makes you comfortable and then it is play, play, play. No work gets done at all!”

“That's a lie!” Aragorn of Arathorn pulled out a very sexy sword from somewhere, though for the life of her, she couldn't see where. He just wasn't wearing enough to have hidden it.

“Just look at all the men waggling their swords around. No decency at all,” the innuendo llama added.

“Llama, I've had enough of you disrespecting the Empress's Ways,” Aragorn had drawn up to the llama and had his sword to its neck.

“Erm...” the llama said meekly, “We'd probably best pay our respects.” He sounded terrified, which in turn terrified Ember.

She shook as Jerome led her to an odd garden, with a waterfall and a mass of scantily clad Cabana boys on one side and books on shelves as high as she could see on the other. In the middle, surrounded by a circle of desks, three with computers, and one with a note pad, was a woman. She appeared to be wearing nothing at all, though the monitors from this distance made that hard to confirm. Aragorn stepped behind her and nibbled her ear, “We've got visitors, love.”

“Ralph! You've come back! And you brought a friend!”

“It's Perhluna,” the llama said irritably.

She waved her hand and said, “Why don't you dance like I like?”

Perhluna began dancing.

“So Ember, how did you find yourself here?”

“You know my name?”

The woman pointed at a computer screen with a cartoon of herself on it. “I do read.”

“But I don't know who you are.”

“Nonsense. You specifically requested to come here. I'm the Tart... the Watery Tart. And I don't let just anybody enter through the pond portal--it's my seat of power, so to speak, but as it was an emergency...”

Ember was disconcerted, but figured she needed some answers. “You don't plan to eat me?”

“Oh honey, I'm straight, but I could probably round you up somebody if that's what you're after.”

Ember blushed so her face matched her hair. “But... what is this place?”

“My little haven, where I rule the world. Eventually I will rule all of it, but for now, this is my little domain.”

“But you're not mad I'm here?”

“Hey, I can share my toys, as long as you play nice, but... you are breaking my primary rule.”

“What's that?”

“No pants. If you're the uptight sort, we can probably find a fern for you to stand behind.”


“There is a trunk with bikini's,” Jerome added quietly, “if you're a real prude.”

The llama had moved so he was dancing behind her, grunting quietly, “all part of the trap. You will get comfortable and be stuck here forever.”

“Ralph, if you ever want my help winning Ramona from Xavier, I'd stop with your side comments.”

“You know where Ramona is?”

“Jerome, lead her to her chambers while Ralph and I have a chat.”

Jerome was now kissing up the inside of Ember's arm as he walked her into an airy palace. “Much better than being chased by Gattaca Security, ne?”

“Ne? What's that?”

“Erm... another rule... picking up odd vocabulary here and there. It all adds to the charm though!”

“Jerome, answer me honestly. Is this like the Hotel California?”

“NOTHING like the Hotel California... erm... except the can't leave part...”

“So paradise forever... but... what about my life?”

The Tart was suddenly behind her. “Is your life really so fabulous?”

“It is!” Ember cried defensively.

“I'm not sure I'm buying it. But I'm willing to offer a trade. Do you know a man who could use some... reform?”


“Someone insufferable. The kind who try to rule you. It's sort of my hobby... reforming bad boys.”

“Well there's my brother Wyndel.”

“Wyndel? I knew a Wendell once. He was rather bendy. Probably not the same guy?”

Ember shuddered and shook her head. She really doubted it.

“You give me this Wyndel's email address so I can haul him in for a month of reform—lingerie training, cabaret dancing—that kind of thing, with them, and I will let you go.” She pointed to a troop that Ember didn't know how she could have missed. They all wore lady's lingerie, high heels and were practicing a complicated line dance. Teaching them, was unmistakably, Lucius Malfoy. (Unmistakably, based on the flashing sign over his head). The Tart saw that Ember was grinning and smiled, “They perform every evening and on my whim. Would you like to see?”

She shuddered, knowing her brother would soon be one of them. She didn't really want that visual dancing around in her head, but he could sure use the lesson. THAT was a deal she could live with. She shook her head and wrote down Wyndel's email. The second she handed it over things started to go fuzzy.

And the continuation is here! Written by Tundiel (aka: my buddy Tara)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Objectivity Objections

FOWL! That’s two forms of the same word! It hardly qualifies as alliteration!

Your honor, I really am arguing about what objectivity is… objecting to prior definitions.

Sustained, but get on with it.

First Objection:

So what is blogging etiquette, anyway? A week and a half ago my friend Mari, a Norwegian, posted two blogs about the Nobel Peace Prize, one the day before the award, the other the day of. The first was a charming peek into the country that considers the Peace Prize its own, and how it has been awarded historically over the years, the second an honest and insightful response that I thought was well-thought.

I was shocked, therefore, to find some rather venomous commentary on her Facebook page about it. Yesterday she wrote a careful response (as she was finally back from her travels) and the same…

So that is okay? Where is the line on responding to blogs? Are people free to respond however they darned well please? Are responses welcome only if asked for? Is restraint called for? Can we say rude things so long as we sign in so we can take the heat of responses?

I guess I feel like balance or something might be the answer. “I agree with this, but not that.” Or maybe I don’t object to objections, only rants... “limit your objections to a sentence apiece, please”. I know I love feedback, even that which doesn’t agree with me, but I have veered away from my political views (strong as they are), and only dipped a toe in the religious pool. And probably if somebody told me I didn’t know what I was talking about, I’d be really offended (it’s the downside of being a Know-It-All).

So now I AM ASKING YOU (and want actual honest answers). All you bloggers out there: Where is the line? Am I absurd to think people ought to keep it friendly?

Objection #2:

My son is in the midst of taking the MEAP. Standardized testing… I am a statistician. I am supposed to LOVE standardized ANYTHING. But MAN do I have a problem with high stakes testing. 1) both my kids are at new schools this year, taking tests in October. Their scores are a reflection on their LAST school, yet if they really stink it up, it is their current school penalized. How messed up is that? 2) These tests are the bane of teacher existence. Every teacher we’ve had for years has started the year with ‘reviewing for the MEAP’. They don’t start TEACHING until late October. And on top of that, they don’t seem to be teaching them to LEARN anymore, because there is too much factual material to cram in there. To HELL with the facts! Teach them to process, seek, find, THINK. The objective knowledge a person holds is NOT his or her intelligence. Albert Einstein never knew his phone number, arguing, “why would I? I know where to find it.” EXACTLY! (or maybe that is just the PoV of someone with short term memory issues).

So those are my objections. Object to them if you will!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Naughty N

Most of you probably haven't noticed, but for NaBloWriMo, my intention was to follow a pattern of Alliterative Titles. I like alliteration anyway, but there was a certain rightness to dedicating October to my favorite childhood letter “LMNOP”. You see, until about five years of age, I was convinced this was like 'W'--just one long letter.

My problem is N has not been behaving.

Odd, that. A letter I feel such attachment to because of words like Naked, Nude, Naughty, and Nifty, would come up short for titles. The problem is one of nouns, I think. Naked Nerd might very well describe me, but it doesn't have a lot of page appeal. Naughty nuisance? Nude noodle? The things that go with these words just really aren't all that conducive to alliteration.


I suspect O might have similar problems.

I suppose though, I should take my lessons where they find me. The general one here is that if you plan to follow a theme, try to test its plausibility before committing. Some plans just aren't meant to be. That seems true for novels, blogs, home decoration, and family vacations. Even a really good idea can fall apart if you don't check some of the details and test the waters a bit.

Speaking of Shuffling details...

Friday I grumbled about book 2 of the Trilogy, [working title COINCIDENCE—it is the only one of the three I'm not really happy with]. A certain main character wasn't behaving. In fact I couldn't get her to fall into regular past tense. Everything was past perfect and contemplative. She wouldn't just DO anything.

Saturday's power walk though, resolved the problem. I was starting too late.

LEGACY ends in a certain place (as books will do) and that is the place I was trying to START COINCIDENCE. But both lead characters haven't spoken much, in fact Andrea is brand new (a few sitings from afar notwithstanding). I needed to start earlier, to give her a chance to lay her own groundwork.

I scrapped all I'd done, putting it in a notes stack, so some might show up later, but I started for her with packing to move to Portland, and with Kade at a significant event during LEGACY. (I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you). He too, needs some emotional and psychological grounding before we get to new stuff.

I still wrote a little from the perspective of Andrea's husband, Jim... you see... she's misattributing... poor gal. So I needed to get a feel for what he REALLY was about.

I've managed a chapter and a half now and it isn't the mad flying circus that LEGACY was, but I think it will now flow...


That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday!

You know what I love? Well, there are lots of things, but I love a literary trick where things have lots of meanings and to me today, Happy Birthday is multiply applicable.

Joris the Great

I should be careful so it doesn't go to his head, but I have a terrific friend who has a birthday today. He's 21 and I must remind him that NEXT YEAR he will be half my age... and he knows what that means... But this year he is still LESS than half my age. I met him 4 ½ years ago in the Wizard War Forums when we were still anticipating Half Blood Prince and noticed right off how bright he is. Since that time, he's served as my remote memory, since my internal one seems to frequently fail.

He also is a graphics genius, and dozens of times I've said, “I could really use a picture of...” and there it is, in my in box, often without directly requesting it... you see... he's thoughtful that way.

My Auntie M

It's an easy day to remember as it is also my aunt's birthday... an aunt who I doubt is reading, but I will give a shout anyway. Happy Birthday Auntie M!


I finished the first, hand-written draft of CONFLUENCE one year ago today. It took another six weeks to type, two months to proof read, a month being read by my writer's group and two more months of editing before it was finally dubbed to long and went BACK into editing... it is STILL not done being edited, but like people, I suppose it just WON'T be DONE until it is stuck on a shelf with a tag on its toe, so I am alright with that.

The Tart as a WRITER

This is a birthday for ME of sorts, and there isn't much I like better than throwing a party for myself. You see, on finishing CONFLUENCE, I also became a writer who had finished a book. A year later I am a writer who has finished two books and the identity is settling in as who I am. I write. I may not yet be published in the fiction world, but I have reached a point where I believe I eventually will be. And I keep writing.

So Happy Birthday All! 
Let's Have CAKE!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Neurotic Notes

So I had this dream last night that my daughter had been chosen to be a slayer (you know... a la Buffy?) and my first instinct was to feel slightly disgruntled to have been the skipped generation, then I thought about my mother... clearly at least TWO generations were skipped, unless the life of danger was what LED to her being rather overly controlled about everything. But I digress... anyway, after realizing I was a bad mother to be jealous rather than worried... it occurred to me that that was sort of a fun perspective to tell a STORY from. The only versions I've seen (Buffy and Colleen Gleason's series) have blissfully unaware mothers (at least until season 3 of Buffy) but what would a mother REALLY think (other than my unnatural response... or maybe not completely unnatural...)--thinking I might play with it for a short story.

Speaking of Unnatural Mothers...

Played some more with Andrea last night... she will get there... I wrote a broad story arc for her and found her a fitting job I'm rather pleased with, but the whole book is grandly effortful at the moment. I think I need to write some middle, high tension scenes to get a real feel for her. That worked with CONFLUENCE. I may also toy with the PoVs of some of the other characters... maybe she isn't actually the one to tell this story. Just because she was the first idea, doesn't mean she is the best idea.

LEGACY sneak peak:

While Mari was here she read the typed chapters (all of 5 ½ chapters) and LIKED them! SQUEEEEEE. It definitely MOVES. It's nice to get feedback that that tidal wave of madness though, was not entirely insane.

And On to OVERSIZED Mothers... or rather, the Booktour, Weightloss, Fitness Extravaganza...

Made my appointment with Kara this morning... Acupressure appointment is for Friday! I'm excited! I started keeping track on the Ides (Thursday) which has an instantaneous effect of reducing snacks (ne'er a potato chip since), but I am very excited to have the extra tool available.

And finally...

Thinking it is time to send a couple queries again... back to my routine, which means the editing I had started with CONFLUENCE... So if any super secret agents out there wants to read my manuscript and represent me... you know where I am...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Novel Novel

Or newly novel now that I've finished LEGACY, anyway... I've come back to what my memory told me was a chapter and realized what I wrote last spring was closer to four pages and some character sketches. It's like a childhood sweetheart you have been fantasizing about for years, only to realize he is a foot shorter than you, which is not to say he isn't a great person with gorgeous eyes... he just isn't quite what you expected...

For starters, what was I thinking with PoV? Why is the Realtor telling me her version? [I presume because I needed to get the house story across] (and why does Office Open insist realtor be capitalized? Can't we speak of a non-specific realtor?) Andrea is the Main character's name (the mom of the family buying the house, not the realtor—the realtor is Bitty). One thing Bitty DID do for me though, is confirm that the story of the kids in the wall has been solid since then... no wonder LEGACY went so fast...

So I expanded four pages to eight, but am still feeling more like it is back-story, than part of the real deal... that's okay. CONFLUENCE had a lot of scenes that never made the book. Funny though... LEGACY didn't have a single one... Hopefully this doesn't mean I am back to two chapters a month. I am okay with a compromise... say two chapters a WEEK, but I can't go back to the three years to write a novel thing.

Besides, this morning I began Kade's first chapter and THAT flows fine. No problems whatsoever working with the teen (I'm sure you are all falling off your chairs in shock about that), but the mom's story is interesting... I think I just need to find her voice. She is a little bitter for understandable reasons, but I want to make sure she is still sympathetic... how do you draw that line? I don't want her to be a shrew or a cold fish, but I need those resentful moments to come out from time to time... Hmmmmm.

Oh well, there are worse problems to have. I love character development.

So I’m curious if other writers have had similar disillusionment moments when they come back to something that was intended to be the ‘next WiP’? And I’d love to hear stories about characters who took a while to find their voice and then turned out FABULOUS!

I wish you all a great weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nearly Nothing New

Except... this is the Ides of October *gasp*

So as soon as Blog is posted, I will be emailing Kara to arrange the Acupressure portion... start journaling and counting points TODAY, though I still have company, so I will be watching it in more a 'see what I'm doing' way today. The Ides after all is a Death Day, not a Birthday--so tomorrow will be the birth of a real plan, with the assistance of the Acupressure to come soon. I did weigh in this morning, and I'm not sharing, except to say I need to lost about a quarter of me...

Mari and I have had an EXCELLENT time though.  It's funny to me, how I am not normally a huge fan of the early stages of friendship EXCEPT those people I really bond with online.  My husband insists anyone could say anything and so it's impossible to know what the truth is that way, but I find in writing, people are more genuine.  My online friends I've met have been like diving in to long established friendships (because of course they ARE--just not physically).  Mari and I originally met about 3 years ago and have been part of the same writer's group for a little over two.  I'd met her once before, and I should probably note we joke about being related.  I have a grandmother whose family came from Norway (the exact city one of Mari's sister's lives in, in fact), though it is the Swedish branch of my family she looks like (shhhh).

In Other News

Visiting the Henry Ford Museum today, swim meets for my daughter tonight and tomorrow night, a weekend of writing a fan fic update or two for people who've been more than patient with me, then BACK to the Trilogy!

And finally... the Burrow has posted our Halloween Feature .  The Burrow, for those of you unfamiliar, is my writer's group, and our website features drabbles (a Monty Python term for a story told in exactly 100 words).  Drabbles are a beautiful test of story-telling, because you must be so precise.  People like me, who like stories in 200,000 words, have great difficulty with it, so it is very good practice.

Back to myself tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fair Warning....

Cruella's asleep
Digressing all that she knows
The Tart is asleep
Without any clothes

It's all well and good
When the Tart runs a-buff
and nothing goes wrong
When Cruella thinks random stuff

But when Tarts start digressing
It all goes amok
and when Cruella's undressing'
Then time gets all stuck

Because everyone knows
It's the Tart who goes nude
and when Cruella's digressing
then everything's good

But when Digressionistas
Start acting like Tarts
and Tarts start random thinking
That fine, subtle art

Then all of the people
should run for the sea
because World Domination
is a fact soon to be!

Tricksey Corgy

Joel has learned a mean, dirty trick. My husband and I sleep at different temperatures, so the comforter is only over my side. Joel has decided to take advantage of this half-on-the-floor soft blanket (no issues yet) but he has now begun crawling UNDER it, then rolling away from me, so I am comforter-less and he is a cozy Joel-in-a-blanket, completely surrounded. rolls eyes

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Missing: Mischievous Marauders

They were last seen on a train headed for trouble, though the date stamp on the photo is over a year old and is GSS stamping across the pond from where the Digressionista landed just yesterday (the Tart caught her, no worries), according to aviation records.

Rumors have it the Tart and Digressionista are not alone, but being joined by Hart, Mari, Cruella, a Digressionisima, A Naked Chick and two Burrowers.  Since Seven is the most powerful magical number, they are sure to be up to no good with twenty-seven. [only 13 shown here]

The ability of this band of trouble makers to create Mayhem is largely unprecedented, but we have it on good authority the confetti eggs are mostly gone.

If you see people wandering Naked, Misattributing, or Digressing pointlessly, or more frightening still, Digressing themselves into poignancy, you may be sure that the work of these people is done.

We will try to catch a group photo of all twenty-seven of them.  You do the same.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Manuscript Madness

I'm a bit of wound up nerves this morning. You see, last night I finished my first draft of LEGACY. Friday I thought I had 5 ½ chapters left, but on Saturday, Athena, the little minx, dived right into trouble instead of giving the villain his full-on chase. It has ended up far creepier, therefore I hope better—not the ending I originally envisioned exactly, but it made way for Athena to get to clean house a little as the novel wound up, and to set up one of my OTHER characters, who will be featured in PoV next novel, to have some ANGER ISSUES.

 I can't believe the speed with which this book has fallen out of my pen.  CONFLUENCE took nearly 3 years (once I actually got to WRITING the thing--it simmered for 4 years before that).  This one got a vague plotting (of what is now book 2) last winter--character profiles for people in two families, and then in August, this Athena character started bugging me, poking me, prodding me, and drove this INSANE writing pace.  She wasn't even planned!  But she IS central... you see, she ties everything together... connects me to the bad boys...  LEGACY is 310 hand-written pages.  Typing thus far indicates I lose about 10%, so 280 pages, when typed.  My son assured me that is far more reasonable than my 800 page CONFLUENCE.

So what is LEGACY about? In brief... (and this is my first shot at this, I think, so nowhere near query ready... then again I don't even plan to EDIT until the Trilogy is done)

A young boy, watching through the vents, witnesses his father's execution-style murder. A thirteen year old girl cowers in the closet as her mother tries to trade her daughter's virginity for a drug fix. Peter Nayev and his siblings retreat to hidden rooms in their family home, and Athena flees to the streets to escape the dark legacy their parents have cast upon them. By chance, a meeting in Portland's Pioneer Square, brings these children together, and makes them realize their lives have been intertwined since before they were born. Together they try to solve some of the mysteries, just hoping they can find a way for the world to be safe again.

This book was from the PoVs of Peter (8) and Athena (13). The next one will be Kade (Peter's older brother, 14) and ___ (the mother from the family who buys the Nayev house), and the final one might go back to Athena but then will feature the mother of the Nayev kids (she has disappeared as of the beginning of LEGACY)

That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Meeting Mari

And then I'm ALSO excited to pick Mari up from the airport tonight (SQUEEEEEE!)and take a few days off work (SQUEEEEE!) showing her the thrills of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is not a 'destination' kind of place. People don't come here to vacation. But it is a quaint and sometimes quirky town, and I think we can definitely find enough to do to keep busy for a couple days. It will be interesting too, to show somebody who has read CONFLUENCE the places that the idea originated from.

So I suppose I will be taking a few day hiatus from writing, but that is okay, because the novel is DONE! Woohoo!