Category Archives: Happy happy

Happy Writer is Happy

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Blogging? What’s that?

I can’t believe I never do this anymore. I know why. Because I will write, and before I know it a week or so has gone by and so much has happened, and I think “there’s no way I will be able to cover everything” so I don’t post. Instead I just puke everything out on an ongoing basis every day on Facebook. Because it is easier.

I don’t even blog on my website! And that’s what I should be doing for my writing career. Most of the writers I look up to and even the ones I don’t look up to, but have large followings, post every day and share amazing advice and insights into their work. I just don’t feel into doing it for some reason. I’m way more about absorbing things right now, than finding things to share with others. I’m being selfish, and damned if I don’t care. Selfish is just where I want to be right now. It helps me get things done.

Since my last post, I joined up with a few other local writers to form a novel critique group. We share one chapter at a time of our books with one another, two weeks before we are to meet up again. Then we meet and go over all of our work in person. We’ve been meeting at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks, and we’re usually there for almost two hours. It’s excellent discussion, too. I just love that these women are all where I am regarding writing fiction. We’re all novel-writers (no non-fiction). We’re all devoted to our work. All of us have the same goal: to write excellent books and be published. We support one another, we encourage and help brainstorm to help one another out of challenges that come up when you’re trying to get a scene to work.

Our meeting for January was the best one yet. OK, it was only our 3rd meeting, but still. We added a new member to our group who has turned out to be a most valuable connection for me (more on that in a minute). I’d spent a lot of effort on each of the women’s critiques, writing up detailed notes and doing track-changes on their files. Everything went over well and I was able to help one of the girls “flip a switch” with one of my suggestions and she was so grateful. But my ego was stoked, big time. Why? Well, my book is the one that everyone is going crazy about. I can’t believe it.

Now, all these women are excellent writers. Well…one isn’t as good at it yet, but damn, her heart is in the right place and she is one hell of a reader and energy-cheerleader. Still, they know what they are doing and they are connected. They participate in all kinds of writers’ pitch contests, go to conferences, host blog tours and are on street teams for a handful of debut authors we all know through Twitter, and one of them has even self-published a book already. They have read all of the books. (Well, it feels that way. They bandy around titles and authors so fast my mind spins and I can’t always write down the titles/authors in my notebook fast enough!)

When we get to my work, the compliments astound me and just flatter me. They love the concept, they love my main character, they love the way I’m structuring it, and they sometimes go back and read passages I’ve written out-loud because they enjoyed the descriptive language, the way I have worked in all 5 senses to what my MC experiences, the dialogue, and the fact that my MC has very healthy relationships with her family. (Ever notice how many books have troubled family dynamics, or absent parents, or siblings they hate, etc? There are a LOT. And I, for one, am tired of those.) But most of all, I’ve got them HOOKED. They are dying to see my Tarzan guy.

I just sent off chapter 3 today and I’m psyched because this is the one where we finally get a good look at him. It’s only Olive, my MC, and “the jungle man” in this chapter. Close, intense interaction. I can’t wait for them to read it.

I can’t get over this. That my book is working this well on the first draft. I’m like giddy-jumpy-nauseous-hyperactive excited over it. And I can honestly say I LOVE THIS BOOK. Just love it. I love the world it takes place in, I love the things I get to describe, I love the between-the-lines themes I’m working into the plot, I love thinking of a hot, super sexy guy and I’m burning with the anticipation of the intimate and hot scenes I have coming up very soon.

I’ve never written anything like this one. It’s like my own custom candy store! I’m including so many things I love into this one. I get to write about wild jungle animals; the untamed, not-quite-human-man thing I have a near-fetish over; a girl who is best friends with her sister (something I have experience with and that I cherish); and the early days of the NJ shore boardwalks and carnival/sideshow culture.

And I’m currently doing some heavy behind-the-scenes work to develop an antagonist that’s fully developed and, I hope, will be somewhat liked by the readers. I’ve been inspired by Loki. Yeah. How cool is it that the villain has become more loved than the hero in the Thor movies? Why is that? Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought, I’ve done a lot of reading and…well, OK, I have to admit, a LOT of lusting. Tom Hiddleston is the shit. So talented and so fucking sexy-cute. I can’t believe the first time I saw Thor, my reaction to Loki was just uncomfortable. I didn’t think he was good-looking back then. I didn’t know why I was unsettled by Loki. But once it hit upon a second viewing of Thor, it hit hard. It was because of this scene. Sympathy for the villain. I don’t know that I’ve seen this kind of thing much in movies before, and it’s surprising it happens in a comic book movie. Huh.

My villain is nothing like Loki. Doesn’t have the same kind of backstory, doesn’t look like Tom H. But the model of how Loki was built to become so complex and hard to shrug off as “just evil” has influenced me so much. I want to attempt that model. Make my readers feel weirdly conflicted every time the villain disappoints us again by doing something bad. Just when you think he might be reformed, is giving in to his emotions and allows ‘sentiment’ to come to the surface–blam. Stabs the good guy in the stomach.

The latest villain to make me go, “hold on just a goddamn second here” is Moriarty from Sherlock. Which, by the way, is an excellent show. I knew it would be, b/c the friends who have recommended it to me wouldn’t lead me astray, since we share the same tastes. I only started watching it about a week ago, but I’ve already re-watched a couple of episodes and then went online and read some analyses of the themes and nuances of the characters. Sherlock alone is fascinating. He’s kind of a jerk but the way they’re handling his genius-thing is fascinating. He’s the hero who is somehow, not-quite-sure-how, perilously close to being a villain. I hate when he doesn’t appreciate John. OMG. I love John, too. ANYWAY… I digress.

Moriarty is batshit insane and it’s great. The actor they chose is mesmerizing; that sing-song voice is creepy and when he all of the sudden screams with fury it’s like a firecracker going off 6 inches from your face… And then there is this line:

“I will burn…the heart… out of you.” (I’ve watched this scene many, many times already)

I have held off watching the last episode available on Netflix (season 2, ep. 3) because I know the basics of what will happen and I’m positive I need to give it my full attention and have a notebook ready. Yeah, I’m a nerd. I take notes during things I’m watching sometimes. But I can’t wait to let myself find out more about Moriarty. Who is he, where does he go, where did he come from, why is he the way he is, what does he love, what drives him, what’s the obsession with Sherlock all about (I already know that one, I think: the two of them are almost mirrors of one another, which is a dynamic I am dying to dig into because that’s another one I have never given much thought to before now)… sherlock_and_moriarty_by_jaxparabellum-d4q6ap6

I really can ramble about the things I love, can’t I? 🙂

Suffice to say, my brain is in full character-development mode. Because I love my book and I love my characters. Because having this much fun writing a book should be illegal.

I couldn’t be happier.

Oh. There’s another huge piece of writing-career news. Remember how I mentioned the new girl in the critique group earlier in this post? Well, she and I hit it off that day and hung out and talked for awhile after the meeting. She’s an intern for a publishing company and told me all about it and what it entails. Then she mentions that there is a current opening for a new intern; someone to cover New Adult manuscript submissions. She gave me the name and contact info for the editor at the company, and encouraged me to apply.

I applied a day later, and then the day after that I was “hired.” The editor was excited when she saw my work experience as an editor and contributing-author coordinator. Since I know how to read a ‘disaster first draft’ and revise it and work with the author the whole way, I was a good fit. Even though I’d yet to do any of this with a book, my experience counted. Wow– another excellent revelation. All of my day-job nonsense has not been in vain.

So anyway, I got my first assignment and spent the next 7 days reading it. Unfortunately, it was a manuscript that just didn’t work. I couldn’t get into it; I saw the problems with it within the first 10 pages and knew I wasn’t going to see the things a good book needs in order to engage readers. I soldiered through, and still didn’t finish the whole thing. But when, by page 100, you still can’t tell who the antagonist might be, what the plot really is about, and what’s so damn special about the supposed love interest… I’m confident when I say it’s not publishable.

I have to write up a report about each manuscript I read, discussing as many of the key elements as possible and explaining what is good and what is bad about the book. It is NOT easy to do this. But I’ll tell you: when I finished that report and edited it up, I felt amazing. I felt like I had just learned something really important; that this is something I could really get into. I love having to work hard at something I am legitimately interested in learning. Sadly, it has been so damn long since that’s been the case for me in my adult life.

So, the internship is going great so far. I just started assignment #2 last night. It looks like I might be expected to do a book a week. This is already cutting a little into my usual writing-time, but I’m not that worried yet.

Between the internship, the critique group, networking through Twitter and the other writers I’ve connected with in the past year… it’s all coming together.

I am on the right path.

I’m going to get paid to do things I love. Someday, sooner rather than later. I won’t waste away in a go-nowhere, thankless business magazine job for much longer. My resume is morphing into gold by the minute.

It’s such a satisfying feeling. And it also feels comfortable; like, “I totally GOT THIS, yo.”

Time for bed now. It took me two hours to write this overall. See? This is why I don’t blog! I can’t shut up and I take too damn long!

Dogs’ day out

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So, this weekend I didn’t do any writing or editing. It was really nice, but… I’m ready to get back into things again. But more on that in a minute.

I spent a lot of time with my sister this weekend; we had dinner out, we got wigs for our Halloween costumes, we played with her dog and she took photos of me that I can hopefully use on my new writing-only website. Yesterday, we took all three of our dogs out for a long walk at the park near my house. Jack is all over the place with excitement and puppy energy. Moose trotted along on his stubby little legs, tongue out and panting but he seemed super happy to be there. Hurley, on the other hand…

He does not like to walk long distances. I don’t know how much of it is caused by his weight and how much of it is just plain laziness and dislike of going for walks in the daytime. Because we’ve had some night walks that were at least as long as our walk yesterday (should have been). And he never once would sit down on those walks. Yesterday, he laid down so many times we lost count. Yes, it was kind of hot out and with all that fur, he’s not a dog made for strenuous activity in AZ heat. But I also gave him a lot of water along the way. And we walked along a shady path.

I still feel bad because he IS overweight. Just like me. It’s unacceptable to have pet dogs that are fat, I know. I plan to get them moving faster on our night walks and keep pushing the distance out again now that it’s cooling off. We all tend to do our share of moseying along on most of our walks. It’s time to stop sniffing and air-peeing on everything and get moving. (I’m the one who does the sniffing and air-peeing. Of course.)

My sister took some fantastic photos of our dogs yesterday. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

Jack, Hurley and Moose near the end of our walk

See sheep run. Run from loud, rude dogs.

First time all three boys have been in a car together! They did wonderful.

The Euphoria of “The End”

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I have wanted to write this post for so long! And now I can:

At long last, I finished my book last night at 1:30am. It is 333 pages long, and 103,239 words.

Everything’s in there now. All the flashbacks, all the pick-up scenes from other versions of the story…it’s all patched together and given a hard edit (heh heh) and in the end, there are 30 chapters. Some are quite short, but I think that’s OK. I read books with short chapters all the time.

The feeling of doing that final save and knowing it’s done just about made me lose my mind. I was laughing and crying and jumping up and down and dancing with the cats and ALL of that. Here’s what the general timeline on this story has been:

Summer, 1996: Began the first version of this book. Zachary was younger and basically an Army/Navy brat who finds out he’s actually a hybrid. Took place on a Naval base (I pictured the one in my town in NJ). Written on looseleaf, I got to exactly page 100 before …

Winter, 1998-99:…I changed my mind and thought, “Nope. I really don’t like this.” My boyfriend at the time (Writer Ex) read what I’d done and pointed out the problems it had and said the one thing that always kinda bugged me: “Why do you torture your characters?” [To this day, I still wonder about that. What’s my psychological profile that makes me want to do that? Ehh. Whatever — it’s storytelling, damn it.]

Early 1999: The new version of the story began. Same protagonist, totally different setting. It took place in a kind of commune, and Zachary was basically free to do what he wanted to. It was a breezy, sunny story taking place in San Diego. Only problem? Not much happened. I couldn’t figure out where the conflict was going to come from.

Fall, 2007: The book had been languishing for years. I went on a cruise with X that November and one of the destinations was Catalina Island. Not only was the place gorgeous as hell, I was fascinated with the fact that, by order of the Catalina Island Conservancy, 88% of the island is to remain undeveloped. There are two small towns on the island. We visited Avalon, which was quaint and pretty. I wished we had more time, because you could do tours into the island’s preserve lands…

That night on the cruise ship, I had an epiphany. I wanted to change the setting from San Diego to that island–or, at least, a fictional version of that island. It made more sense (a remote location, perhaps hidden deep in “conserved” lands, miles from the only town) would be kind of crucial for a controversial project like this).

That’s the harbor, and the town of Avalon. The roads snaking up the mountain into the rest of the island are what caught my creative attention… where did those roads go? Were any secret military bases well-hidden off those roads…?

As much as I hate to admit it, X told me that he believed “the government would have to be involved in a project like that one”… and the new version of the book was born. I wrote the first scene once we got back home, and it’s only partially changed over the years since.

Summer, 2012: I find out about the Writer’s Conference. Decide I’ve had enough with procrastinating with this thing. If I want to live the life I want to live, I have to actually write and finish my fiction. Something clicked, and I’ve been hard at work ever since.

And so, this has clearly been a huge part of my adult life. I know my protagonist back and forth, and I can see the Complex where it all takes place clear as day in my head. I know the personalities of all the dolphins and, especially, the hybrids. I admit it: I love this story. I wrote the book I would like to read, which is the most important piece of writing advice ever: Write what you want to read.

I think I’m close to completing my pitch and query letter, as well. I ordered business cards (well, they’re technically ‘networking cards’) last night from VistaPrint so I have something to hand to people who could be interested in my fiction work. I’m seriously planning my wardrobe for the Conference so I make the very best impression on everyone I meet there. I want to show everyone that, without question, I am serious and focused on becoming a published novelist. I’m not afraid of hard work, revisions, critiques, etc. I understand that if this book doesn’t sell, my next one WILL. I’m realistic. I’m also learning every single thing I can find about the business of publishing fiction. I’ve read over sample agency contracts and have a cheat-sheet about the different rights and any fees that could be on top of an agent’s 15%. I’m prepared and ready to fuckin’ DO THIS.

I’m gonna go in there and own the place.

Honestly, I don’t know where this confidence and “fuck it all, I’m going for it” attitude came from, exactly, but… I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m savoring it and plan to make the most of all of it. I’ve spent too many years shrinking away into the background, talking myself out of writing this book, putting off any hard work, and settling for a mediocre everyday existence of get up, go to work, write stories I don’t care about whatsoever all week, come home, do the same damn things every night, go to bed. I’ve been bored and unchallenged for far too long and atrophy was starting to set in, for real. If I don’t do this, right now, I could risk getting sucked into a complacent, average and uninspired existence that I’ll have a hard time getting away from as more time goes by.

I have already wasted far too many years of my adult life. That shit ends now.

GOD, that feels good!!!!

So, if you’re reading this, and you have some dream or goal you’ve been putting off because it’ll require hard work or drastic changes in your life…or because you’ve told yourself you’re just not ready/ strong enough/ smart enough/ good enough to pull it off… I really do hope that you get to a point where you make a solid try and take steps to do what you’ve always wanted to do. If you’re like me at all, you’ll surprise yourself how sucked in you can get once the ball is rolling!

Just don’t be hard on yourself. 🙂 Life is shit and it’s not easy. But sooner or later, you have to learn to say “fuck it” and move on to the next thing, and the hell with all the other insignificant stuff.

And if you want to give yourself something luxurious and extravagant, make that thing time and effort to become the person you want to be.

The many things occupying my Friday mind

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Enjoy this fresh new blog post, now in handy bullet form!

  • Tonight, my sister and I are helping set up a Halloween event. We’re volunteers, and so as thanks for helping out, we get free tickets to the actual event tomorrow. It’s going to be pretty cool, I think. Workshops, performances, something called a “monster market”… As a lover of all things Halloween, I feel it’s almost my duty to attend this thing.

 

  • My company laid off two people the other day. One was one of the most senior-level executives here. There’s no danger my job’s going to be on the line, though, so that’s good. We have a new CEO, and he’s looking at the entire structure of the company and figuring out where the fat can be trimmed. I’m actually quite pleased that this new guy is trying to make us a little more profitable and efficient. We are waaaaay too top-heavy at the moment. This little move really helped even things out somewhat.

 

  • I think I pinpointed the ideal publisher for my book today, out of the blue. I was www.yahighway.com and noticed the term upper YA as a genre. Hey! That’s the term I was looking for to describe my market’s book! Anyway, the publishing company in question is looking for upper YA books, and has a wide global distribution network. I skimmed through their titles on their site, and found one intriguing book that seems to be the closest match to my book in terms of tone, plot and style: Touch by Jus Accardo. I found it before lunch, bought it for my Kindle for $4.99, and read 20% of it by the end of lunch. It’s good! Not perfect, though… but still highly entertaining and paced very well.

 

  • Tough call this weekend: I could get my new work article done, or I could get my book done. On one hand, the article is what I am obligated to do… but the book…? That’s got to get finished so I can send it to people to read over before the Conference. Soooo, it’s not hard to figure out which thing I will most likely make the priority.

 

  • A new gym is opening not far from my house. Like the Gold’s Gym I have been planning to join, it’s $10 a month. The Gold’s is just a tad closer, and is well-established. This new gym, a Planet Fitness, is the latest in a chain, and I actually went to a PF back when I was married to the X. It’s a pared-down gym, no classes or anything. But, all of the equipment is going to be brand new. HMMM. Decisions, decisions. I’m leaning towards the new gym.

 

  • I have to get an oil change. It’ll be the first one for the Prius, and I’m nervous about it for some reason. I feel like it will be more expensive, or the technicians won’t know what to do. And no, I don’t want to go to a dealership, because that is ALWAYS more expensive. But, we’ll see. I should probably figure it out very soon. The “maintenance required” light came on yesterday. Yikes.

 

  • I locked myself out of my car and house yesterday before work, so that was fun. I had to call my Mom to come let me in. When I put my keys down to give the dogs their usual good-bye treat before I left, I didn’t pick them up again. Just left them sitting there on the counter. I was so pissed at myself. So, yesterday I went to Lowe’s on my lunch hour and made a duplicate key to specifically keep in my purse or wallet at all times. This kind of thing has to stop happening. (I was locked out when I came home from work a few weeks back because I didn’t have my house key on my keyring. I’d taken it off the night before when I took the dogs for a walk… my previous duplicate key is fickle and I didn’t trust it. So I used my main key, and totally spaced on putting it back on the keyring. My sister came to rescue me, that time.)

 

  • I could go into some political stuff here, but I’m not going to do it. It only annoys me too much. All I will say is that 1) for the next election, I am not putting a sticker on my car. It opens too many cans of worms and brings much more annoyance than any sense of comraderie with like-minded voters; and 2) my neighbors need to settle down and stop trying to argue with me whenever they get the chance. I want to be able to go to my mailbox without engaging in a debate with unarmed people. Because they are VERY misinformed and uneducated. It drives me nuts.

 

  • I’m pretty sure my problem tooth, the molar in the back that had a big chip in it, is done for. The other day I think I broke another big chunk out of that same tooth. Now it’s very sensitive to cold and pressure. As luck (sigh) would have it, I’m going to the dentist Monday anyway for my cleaning and checkup. I’m sure that crowns are going to come up in conversation, and this time, I might have to cave in and do it. Unless I get the tooth pulled… it’s just my wisdom tooth that poked its way in kind of sideways, anyway. (My two wisdom teeth came in on the bottom.) We’ll see, I guess. Yuck. Not happy.

 

  • And, finally: it was bound to happen sometime. I have it on good authority that Tina Fey has finally let fame go to her head. She’s not as nice or appreciative to the people who work for her anymore; and even though they weren’t having a disagreement or falling-out of any kind, she didn’t even say goodbye and thank you to my friend’s Dad when it was his last day before retirement. I’m very, very, very disappointed in you, Tina. We all expected better from you. Boo. 😦

“I’d Rather Be Tweaking.”

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Hi. My name is L, and I am addicted to tweaking.

Not that kind of tweaking. Although that would make for a far more interesting blog post, I’m sure. Nope, I’m fighting the urge to “just go in and read over what I’ve done” with my book and then change this word here, and add that sentence here, and then because I added that sentence, I go even further back and add a tiny detail so there is some foreshadowing goin’ on… STOP IT!

I can’t seem to pull myself away from Editor Mode. And I have to. It’s crucial that I do this. I am never going to finish this final draft if I don’t learn to “pick up where I left off” and move forward in the novel ONLY. None of this shit with being a perfectionist. And certainly, none of this shit with suddenly comparing my protagonist’s voice with characters from books I happen to be reading. That bullcrap’s got to stop now, too.

I’m reading three books at once, although Dragonfly in Amber is hanging out on my nightstand all, “Mehhh.” I’ll get to it sometime. But right now I’m reading a book highly recommended by one-a you guys, and the writing is so fantastic in terms of characterizations and building believable, relatable and unique people that seem to live and breathe someplace: Dark House (Experiment in Terror #1).

The protagonist is very true to herself, always. The author doesn’t ever put thoughts in her head or words in her mouth that don’t fit. The character seems like someone I could know, she’s drawn so vividly. She’s funny, too. And I love her quirks and the way she is reacting to all the weird ghostly shit going on in the lighthouse… Layered. Nuanced. And still, wrapped in down to earth, friendly, unpretentious language so you don’t even notice the skill of the author without stopping to think about it. It’s amazing, and I definitely strive to create characters who exist like that.

That means I can’t sit down at page 1, chapter 1, and start trying to mess with my own protagonist’s voice. No way, not right now. Maybe not ever. I know better. I must have faith that I know what I’m doing. I’ve gotten this far. My character exists, and has his own voice, and it’s never going to sound like any other character. That’s how this novel-thing works.

I guess it’s just tempting to apply some of someone else’s coolness to your own project. It’s gonna happen. There are a lot of great books out there, and a universe full of individual characters. Some will grab me more than others. It’s supposed to be that way. That’s the fun and joy in all of this fiction-loving madness!

The third book I’m reading is My Name is Memory by Anne Brashares. I picked it up in the store months ago because the cover and title intrigued me, and then the back flap and a few sample passages hooked me in. I haven’t gotten to it yet… along with about 5 other books in that same particular stack in my living room… but yesterday morning I picked it up out of the blue for some reason and started reading it. I should have been getting dressed for work, and instead I was lying on my bed turning pages.

I did the same exact thing this morning before work, too! It’s stupid! I have enough to read, and enough of my own stuff to work on! Leave it alone. I should make this a reward for finishing the revisions: Once I’m done, I am allowed to read this new book for real.

I feel absolutely surrounded in fiction these days. It’s really nice. I find myself resenting the non-fictiony stuff, though. Like housework, actual work at work, social obligations and party planning… all things I do need to do, and cannot put off for a number of very good reasons. My book’s all I think about when I am not thinking about other people’s books. That’s what’s important to me right now. I don’t really know what to do to change that. Or if I even want to.

I’m walking around, doing what I have to do every day, but inside I am somewhere else most of the time. I wonder if people can see it, or if it’s just me feeling narcissistic. Mostly, I’m just curious… because of all the characters out there, I’m the one I can’t step outside of and really see for who she is.

The rule of 3 episodes and other weekend things

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On Friday, I worked on my book after I got home, and then had some chocolate ice cream. This made me stay wide awake for a loooooong time. So I watched more of Pretty Little Liars.

OK. What’s the deal with Netflix and TV series? I mean, you can’t just watch ONE episode of something in a sitting. You are compelled, literally compelled, I swear!, to watch at least THREE. The show’s not amazing or anything, and I’m kind of embarassed to say I watched it, but honestly it’s just fun. The story keeps going and going and twisting around and ending on little mini cliffhangers, so it does make you go, “Oh, NOW what? Let me just watch one more episode, then…” and it’s nice to look at. Pretty town, pretty actors and actresses, pretty clothes and pretty houses. I am seriously coveting Hanna’s kitchen.

The cabinets, the lighting, the gorgeous tile backsplash… dear lord. WANT.

My idea for a drinking game: Every time they all look at each other with that look when they get a text from A… take a drink.

Every time Spencer wears a really weird hat…take a drink.

Every time blind Jenna walks in a room and says, “[insert name], is that you?”…take a drink.

She needs to be kicked just for the scene where she’s playing the goddamn flute on her porch.

Every time you want to punch Jenna or shove her down some stairs… take a drink.

Every time you want to punch that brat, Melissa, in her supposedly-pregnant belly… take a drink.

Every time you think to yourself, “Man, that Toby is NOT a good looking guy at all and he needs a haircut or something”…take a drink. Wait. That one will give you too high a blood alcohol level.

See? This could be fun. But it could also land a person in the ER and in need of a liver transplant. Still. Good times.

On Saturday, I got a lot accomplished around the house and went out with my Mom for lunch and to the farm market. I got so much food for juicing and salads for only $18. That place is the best.

Later that night, I found some long-lost scenes from the previous version of my book. They were squirreled away on my old PC’s hard drive. I did some transferring but mostly just ended up reading everything I’d written in the past. It’s so strange how much the book changed since then… but there is still some good stuff there. And I have a feeling some of it might come in handy in books 2 and 3.

Yesterday I woke up feeling like crap. My sinuses were so tender, and it made my head pound. I decided to just veg out all day, and that’s what I did. I read an entire book. I made a green juice. I watched some Doctor Who (three episodes, again the magic number) and had a salad. I downloaded the Dead Man’s Bones album (thanks to my sister, who turned me on to this band because it’s Ryan freakin’ Gosling’s band, and they are super fun and weird), which I love.

The book I read is another embarassing one. So, of course, I write about it here. I share all my embarassing media consumption stories here. Anyway, it’s called Bound for the Forest, and it’s a M/M fantasy romance. M/M means, of course, male/male. Gay guys, falling in love and getting it on. I don’t honestly understand why those stories are so much more interesting to me, but they are. Every now and then, maybe about once a year or so, I read a few books in this genre. I love men in books. This book yesterday was kind of silly and definitely weird at several points, but it held my interest and I read the whole thing from start to finish all day yesterday. So it couldn’t have been bad. I just don’t know that there is anyone I know who I could recommend this book to. Unless some of you are also kind-of into M/M stories. (It doesn’t work when it’s F/F. Not at all. Because I am more interested in reading descriptions of hot guys’ bodies than a woman’s body, plain and simple. It’s always cool when there is one hot guy in a book, but when there are TWO… yeah. Way better.)

I looked it up and these kind of books seem to have many more female readers than male readers. Women tend to think, “awww, that’s so cute!” when it comes to two guys falling in love. And usually, women write them, too. It’s pretty interesting.

So, in other news, there are a couple of events coming up. Nothing huge, per se, but should be fun anyway:

This Thursday— a fundraiser for 2nd Chance Rescue. That’s the group I support the most, the one that brought me Moose. All day, anyone who eats at this one Mexican restaurant, helps raise money for the rescue. I plan to go sometime after getting home from work. And I might bring one of my dogs, too, b/c you can eat on the patio there.

Next Friday: Volunteering to help set-up for Keen Halloween, a new event put together by cool people in AZ who love Halloween. It’s a day of workshops, entertainment, a “monster market” and other fun stuff to get people psyched up for Halloween. Saturday: The actual event. Yay!

October 19: The day the Writer’s Conference starts. Just in case I forgot. 😉

 

Goodness!

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This is my favorite time of year. I love the memories of going back to school… getting new school supplies, walking to the bus stop, laughing with my friends every day again, getting to nerd-out and be praised for it, anxiously looking forward to library day (and the Scholastic book fairs, but that goes without sayin’!) and savoring that first crisp, cool September day when you finally got to break out a sweater.

And then there’s Halloween, coming up fast! Months and months ago, my sister and I had a kick-ass idea for our Halloween party this year: we’d do a creepy circus theme.

We already have lots of ideas, and we brought our friend David into the mix to help with the planning because he’s artistic and really into throwing parties. I was all psyched about it UNTIL

The Writing Conference popped up, and suddenly my writing became my absolute top priority.

I’m kind of torn right now, because I committed to the Halloween party well before the Writing Conference, but I feel bad because I haven’t been as serious or inspired for the party as I had been before the book took off. I’m super excited about the Conference, of course, and I don’t regret working on my book. No, not at all. Instead I just wonder if there is a way I can multi-task and still be able to do an excellent job on both things. Probably. I mean, I can’t be revising and writing ALL the time. Maybe if I meet with my sister and David this week we can hash out some kind of plan and figure out who is doing what, and that will help. As it stands right now, the party-planning feels a wee bit overwhelming. Probably because I thought that by now, mid-September, we’d be underway with some of the projects/attractions for the party, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a Halloween party.

We wanted it to be kind of epic, though. That’s the point of all the planning. We’d love to get a huge crowd there if we can. (We’re doing it at my house, in my backyard, which I’m psyched about! I do all this work to keep my yard beautiful–might as well have a reason to USE it for once.)

This is going to be a most-intriguing fall season, I think.

I feel different. In a really good way. Like I’m stepping up to plate after years of being terrified of getting off the bench. And it’s not like I don’t know what I am doing– I’ve been practicing. I’m ready.

OK. Other things that I’ve been thinking about lately:

* I’m excited for my next paycheck, b/c I’ll see how much difference my paltry little raise will make. Little or not, a raise is still a raise, and I’m grateful to get it! I also can’t wait to see how my budget improves now that the cable bill will be gone.

* The new fall season of TV starts soon. I’m excited for The New Girl, Once Upon a Time, Parks and Recreation, Fringe and, of course, The Walking Dead. I think I’ll only make time to watch the Sunday shows when they air. Everything else I’ll either catch it when they air, or I’ll use Hulu. I think the new episodes are up there about a day after they air. The loss of the DVR isn’t so terrible…yet. Heh.

* I’ve been back to juicing for a week now, and I have lost 2.5 pounds already. Aww yeah! (I’m only juicing once or twice a day… twice if you count my breakfast smoothie, which I do, because there’s only fruit and flax seed in that thing.) And it’s been cooler the past few days, so I’m back to walking the dogs each night. I’m not the only heavy one out there–my boys are little porkers and the exercise is doing them good so far, too. Their stamina is better all the time. I’m finally being a good dog mama again. Summer in AZ really makes a person feel DEAD. Now that it’s coming to an end… look out! Everyone is waking up around here, finally. I’ve been seeing more people out walking already.

* I want to go see The Words. I feel a little bad I didn’t make time to go this past weekend and support it… especially after reading headlines yesterday morning about how this was the worst box office weekend in decades!

But… it’s even got a Lady & the Tramp style dinner scene! How could this not be a runaway hit?!

Figures that this is when Ben Barnes’ new movie comes out. I kinda have to laugh, because of course that’s the way it would go. That guy, man… he can’t seem to be in a hit movie for some reason. I’m all excited to see him in a movie, in the theater, and have that movie not be a Narnia movie. It drives me nuts that no one sees his other movies since they mostly go straight to DVD in the United States. And then, none of my friends seem to want to watch the movies, so I feel kinda lonely in my crushing.

Why can’t I be all drooling over a mainstream guy? Why do I find the Channing Tatums of the world so incredibly boring? Oh, whatever. Who cares! I have fun on my own, anyway, when it comes down to it.

So very, very unattractive. What an ugly movie this looks like. 😉

* Speaking of hot guys, I sincerely hope that Chehon wins So You Think You Can Dance this week. I always thought he was the hottest of the guys this season, but then I recently had an inappropriate dream with him in it, and now I’m all oooooh, OK. Yeah. That’ll work.

 

 

Writer-nerd alert!

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DUDE! I’m feeling so great right now, because I have just mapped out how I am going to revise the middle section of my book!

It’s not that extensive, really. I won’t need to write a whole lot of new stuff. Just rephrase things, move scenes around, take things out…

The reason it’s so exciting is because I believe these changes will close up the plot holes that have been bugging me for awhile now. I had tried to work around them, but now that the whole thing’s done, I’ve been able to finally step back and fix things. It sure helps seeing the whole picture!

One thing: it’s scary to delete sections and cut whole characters! I started doing it on Wednesday night from the beginning, and I felt weirdly sick about hitting that delete button. (But honestly, it’s easier when I realize I do have multiple copies of ALL of the versions of this book, in one place or another. I’m not really losing anything forever here. It just freaks me out, in the moment.)

But now this whole process feels amazing and fun. It reminds me of how I felt the day I got my haircut. Lighter, neater, more attractive. My book’s lighter, neater and–most important–TIGHTER. My hope is it will also be a compelling read for the readers, too!

Also, in the midst of all this revising and editing, I am also beginning to figure out what book THREE would be about.

Yeah.

This is officially a series, yo!

It’s almost as awesome as some spider monkeys riding a capybara! KICK ASS!!

 

Other things on my mind these days

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Hey, so there are other things going on in my life besides polishing up my book. Maybe I should think about that stuff for a few minutes and let my book-brain take a break. Yes. Yes, that’s precisely what I need to do.

* My sister is still in Australia on her all-expenses-paid trip through her job. (Well, I guess meals aren’t included. So it’s actually a majority-of-expenses-paid trip.) She is having a great time, according to her sporadic posts on Facebook! She has had trouble logging into her regular email, and T-Mobile gets no reception down under, apparently. But, she did manage to call us on Monday from the lobby of the hostel she was staying in. It was mid-afternoon here, but about 8 or 9am on Tuesday morning for her. I loved hearing from her, and wished we had more time to talk. I seriously can’t wait to hear everything, and see her photos. I miss her so much!

* She took surf lessons. And got to kayak in an area of Byron Bay where a pod of dolphins live, and whales are passing through since it’s their migration season. I would die to see that in real life! Holy crap.

* I finally dyed my hair. I went with dark brown, so when I do the color streaks, they’ll show up well. If I’d done dark red, the colors could clash in a weird way. I still need to make the appointment for the streaks… I might be chickening out on it. I don’t want to look stupid.

* I love, love, love my pets so much. Sorry, I have to brag! My boys are so good, it’s ridiculous. On any given day, Gremlin will cozy up to Moose, purring like crazy… Hurley will sit with Moose and they’ll weirdly be doing almost the same poses at the same time… Simon swishes past, all orange cloud-and-whispy-tail, talking to me while I work on my book, watch TV, or just walk through the house (he likes to follow me, saying “merr, merr” the whole time)… They don’t fight, or cause messes. Well, OK, Gremlin has done it a few times now, but for some reason, he gets a pass. I can’t explain it! I just forgive him so fast. I’m really in awe of the harmony and the sweet nature of each pet. I am so damn lucky, it’s not even funny.

* Grem’s new thing is to sleep up next to my head at night, with his chin resting on my forearm or hand (I sleep on my side). The cool thing is that he doesn’t wake me up to do this. I simply wake up and there he is. I say good morning to him, and he flops around and reaches toward me as he stretches. He’s stopped the weird humping thing for the most part, but he still loves to stand on me. He doesn’t care where I am, what position I am in, or what I’m doing. I was lying on my side, talking on the phone the other day, and he jumped up and balanced on my side, between my hips and ribs. It was pretty funny. I’m touched he loves being with me so much. It’s cute.

* My sister brought her dog Jack over to the house about a week and a half ago so he could meet his two canine cousins. Everything went very well. Jack is sweet and happy, and clearly still a puppy. He bounces, and has a crazy-short attention span, all of which is adorable. He loved Hurley and Moose. I realized Moose doesn’t actually know the proper way to play. He wants to play, and he is friendly about it, but he tends to show his teeth and sometimes make bark-growls that startled Jack. His other body language at the time is perfect, though… he’s wagging his tail, no hair is up on his spine, and he does play bows and everything. He’s just got to learn not to put such a scary face on when playing! I think it did, actually, serve a purpose: Jack learned not to be sooooo insane and in Moose’s face thanks to the teeth-baring and growl/barks. Either way, they were working together to figure out their particular play threshold, and that made me so happy. There was never a moment of aggression.

*Jack didn’t meet the cats yet, but I’m sure he will. Simon, in particular, is very curious and wants to check him out. They’re in for a surprise– they have never had to deal with puppy energy!!! They’re spoiled with mellow Hurley and laid-back Moose. Wait till they realize not all dogs are that calm. Hee hee hee.

* I’m back to juicing on a frequent basis again. My goal is to get back to one homemade juice each day, replacing one meal… the only thing holding me back is getting my ass to the grocery store to get fresh veggies and fruit on a more frequent basis. I hate food shopping, even if it is at Sprouts or the farmers market! I wish I liked preparing food more than I do. Anyway, I’m watching what I eat again and trying to go as organic as possible. I had my green juice for breakfast today, and washed and prepped some stuff for my next juice. I don’t know… I might do a carrot-apple-ginger one tonight, we’ll see.

* I still have a ghetto-ass roof situation. Those shingles are still blown off/twisted up in the air, and I haven’t found someone to come fix them for me. I don’t want to pay a whole lot, and I don’t want to call a roofing company b/c I already know the recommended upgrades and repairs I *should* make, and don’t want to get hassled about things I can’t yet afford… I was hoping a male friend or acquaintance could come over and just do it for me. I’d pay, of course. Still, can’t blame people for not wanting to get up on a hot roof in 108-degree weather with the sun blazing down the whole time. Oh, well. In the meantime, my house is trashy. I should embrace it, and put a rusted car body up on cinder blocks out front. Borrow someone’s old coonhound to sit and bay from his place, chained to an old tractor tire under the tree. And I definitely need to throw empty beer cans in the driveway. (This gives me an excuse to drink beers. Many beers.)

* The current season of So You Think You Can Dance is almost over already. I hate the new format, but I do love that there will be two winners now instead of just one. All of my favorite dancers–except for Amelia, who was cut a couple weeks ago on a night they sent FOUR home all at once, yikes!– are in the top 6. I just adore this show, but again, I wish so much it wasn’t a competition. Just a showcase of different choreographers and dancers– they could have a new ‘cast’ every season. I don’t understand the reality TV obsession with competitions. Who says there has to be a winner when it comes to artistic stuff like dance?

* I watched most of the Republican National Convention, and last night the Democrats got started on their own. (Side note: Has there ever been a better First Lady than Michelle Obama?! She is so classy, intelligent and inspirational.) This is the first time I have watched these conventions, and the first time I am quite opinionated and sure of my decision to vote for Obama. I can’t help it– I see the glass as half-full when it comes to the issues in this country. Progress is being made, and that’s a good thing. Why anyone would want to HALT progress that helps other people simply doesn’t make sense to me. Ugh. The pessimistic viewpoints of a lot of (not all!) the Republicans freak me out and make me sad. I don’t feel they’re looking at things in a good perspective. I think people forget about all the blessings we do have just by virtue of living in the US, and how on the other side of the world people are starving, dying, there is violence and terror… Uh-oh, I am starting to rant again.

* I am trying very, very hard not to rant. Or talk politics too often. I don’t want to be a jerk. Or try to talk someone into my way of thinking. I’m just passionate and excited about my own choice, and that’s what’s at the heart of it for me.

* I’m soooooo, soooo close to being completely done with my book. So I do need to get back to it. I really can’t help myself right now–it’s all I want to do. Seriously.

Not settling for vanilla anymore

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VENT!

So, I am taking an online course called “How to Blog” for work right now. Honest to God, it’s the most useless, waste-of-my-time ever. I didn’t have a say in taking this course; my boss signed me and my co-worker up for it because we might, one day, create a blog for our magazine. But since there are red-tape hurdles in our way, it might not be for a long time, yet. Still, he thought we could all benefit in a class to learn about blogging.

Some of the class’ questions: What is a blog? How do you set up a blog? What kinds of things should you blog about? How do you add links in your posts? Ad nauseum.

I know it’s good for people who know nothing about blogging, but it’s so boring for me. I already know how to write in business-blog style (as opposed to my regular voice), so the one thing I could have benefited from learning– how can I retain an individual voice while remaining very professional/factual?–isn’t going to be addressed in class. I know, because I asked the instructor flat-out and she told me, “I can’t really give you recommendations on your writing style. Your work is great, though! Good job!”

Oh, wow. Thanks.

My boss and co-worker are complete newbies to blogging, though. I actually had to set up both of their blogs because they were utterly confused, and I’ve been teaching them more than the class has. The class didn’t really TEACH anything. The assignment for the first week was: Create a blog. Write 10 posts. Seriously, that was it. And the teacher recommended looking at Perez Hilton for an idea of what a good blog looks like!!!!! What?! We’re paying for this?! (Thank god it’s the company’s dime and not mine.)

Boss and co-worker need help with everything. I made them blogs in WordPress, since it’s easiest, but they’re still floundering three weeks into the class. I have to show them how to edit a post, how to comment on another person’s blog post, how to add in photos (something one of them has not mastered yet at all, which seems weird to me) and change the title of the blog itself. (Both of them still have just their URL’s name as the title of the blog– without punctuation or anything. It annoys the crap out of me.)

I’m somewhat amazed that people who use the internet all the time don’t know anything about blogs. And this is my BOSS, to make it even more mind-boggling. How’d he get to this point, as an editor, without knowing anything about blogging? Oh, well. My amazement doesn’t change the facts. Sigh.

I wish I could get some kind of extra credit for all the help I’m giving them right now. I won’t, though. I just had my performance review and he just sort of glossed over all the stuff I am doing to help them get through the blog class.

I’m ready to do something else. I mean, when the next phase of my life kicks in and if an opportunity to do something else to earn money for a living comes up, I’m going with it. This job’s been fine. I made decent money, and I don’t lose sleep over my work. Sometimes I get really busy and have to work at home and on the weekends, but other times it’s slow and I have time to waste and/or work on my real writing. So it could be a LOT worse.

But, you know, this is IT for me, at this job. There is no potential for advancement unless my boss leaves, which he won’t, because he has three kids at home and needs the job (he’s not dynamic enough to get hired anywhere else easily, to be honest). Every year it’s the same old thing. I write the same type of articles each issue, I coordinate the same two columns and I attend the same conferences. I’m bored. My creative headlines and leads get dumbed down and pasteurized, for lack of a better word. I don’t have the final say on that stuff, and it shows. (I would never willingly use the word “thus” in an article– yet, my editor puts it in there all the time. All the time.)

I could not be more ready to plunge into this fiction industry than I am right now. I’m doing tweaks to my book’s first draft now, which is fun, because I’m revising and tightening up sections and writing neat little flashbacks. I’ve begun my pitch and query letter drafts. I’ve begun to outline the sequel. And then, I am formatting two other short stories to submit to some writing contests and magazines (each one has different formatting standards, which is time consuming, but I’m playing by the rules). I am SO doing this. I’m done being vanilla and safe.

When I sell my house this coming year, I’m gonna be so psyched to leave the responsibility of home ownership behind me. I would much rather rent and put money toward experiences; things like travelling. I’m ultra aware of how short life really is, and I am done wasting it doing the safe, expected things. None of that has made me any happier, first and foremost. And none of that ‘responsible’ stuff has brought me a good man, or the ability to adopt or have a child. So, what’s the point? Why not have more fun with my everyday life?! Make the most of what life’s dealt me, and move into a newer, more creatively-fulfilling existence?

I’m changing my appearance to better match my real personality, too. The first, easiest change is my hair. I cut off about 5 inches last night, so no more layers. They only made my hair look thinner and drier. Now I have a blunt bob cut, just above my shoulders. I love it. I will be dyeing it a darker color within the next couple of nights and then going back to the salon for weave/extensions of dark purple and/or blue streaks. I’ve wanted to do this forever, admiring it on some people I see online or at events, and yet I always go conservative. WHY? My job doesn’t require me to have a certain look. We don’t even have a dress code. What am I waiting for? I have to do it now or never, otherwise I will be old and look really weird with purple hair. (Or… it will make me look younger…? I don’t know.) All I know is that I want to be able to compliment myself when I look in the mirror, instead of going, “Ugh. So boring, again.”

The rest of my changes in appearance will simply come from how I carry myself once I start feeling proud again, and feel more like the real me. I’m really excited for that.

I know I am just rambling here at this point. I am simply so ready for What’s Next. I feel like tap dancing towards it! Which is a feeling I will gladly take, for sure. It’s so preferable to the depressed, low-energy, mundane-everyday way I have been living for years. I’m not scared, because I’m not doing anything risky like quitting my job to go “be a writer” or something… and I am older, wiser, more experienced, every day. I’m bringing good things to this fiction journey. I’m not so hung up on trying to keep my expectations realistic as I once might have been. I am allowing myself to believe my writing is strong and unique, and that I do have an honest shot at being picked up by an agent and selling some of my work. It’s a really, really new way of thinking, but it feels nice! I welcome it.

Now: here’s where I ask you if you might be interested in reading my book.

Not right this second. But, before October. Before I take it to the Conference. (Plus, like I said, I am still tweaking it at the moment.) But I do need some readers to just read through it, beginning to end, and give me HONEST impressions and criticism. I don’t need proofreading, per se (although I won’t turn it down, of course), but more or less I want to find out if the story holds your attention, if you are sympathetic to the main character, if it’s got enough action, if it’s paced OK. The ‘big picture’ stuff. I just want to know. I am waaaaaay too close to it to ever really know for sure. Outside, critical feedback is what I’m craving.

I know some of you have already read some of the early chapters, so you will be familiar with many parts of it, but I do think the entire thing has changed since then and so it won’t be a total repeat for you if you read this again. Plus now, it’s an entire story, not just singular chapters. 🙂

Anyway, if you are interested, let me know. When I finish the tweaking-stage, I can send you the document. I really recommend reading it on a Kindle or something, because I can safely say it looks terrific on that screen as opposed to sitting in MS Word. 🙂

Thank you so much! (Oh, one other thing: You are so, so, SO not obligated to do this, so please don’t do it out of guilt, or anything like that. That would suck for both of us.)