Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I've been tagged!

Thanks to Cindy for the taggage. (Heh, as opposed to baggage.) A-ny-way....

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Oh, hot chocolate all the way. I mean, I can drink eggnog, but I crave hot chocolate.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Santa wraps presents. My husband thinks it is slightly odd that we have no presents under our tree at all until the Christmas morning, but that's the way it's always been in my family. Presents to each other and presents from "Santa" get put out in the night before Christmas, and they're all wrapped. (Except the really, really big or oddly shaped ones.) Besides, 3 cats, 2 dogs, and a now-mobile baby would demolish anything put out beforehand. And it's more fun to unwrap stuff.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Always colored lights on the tree. I prefer white lights on the house, perhaps with some color accents. Though I do appreciate "gingerbread" houses with colored lights along the rooflines. DH prefers the opposite (white tree, colored house) but he kindly abdicated and let me have my way. :-)

4. Do you hang mistletoe? We have a fake cluster (real is poisonous to pets and babies) with a bell that we hang between our living room and kitchen.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving. Growing up, we always had real trees, so it was more like mid-December in my family. But DH likes doing it right after Thanksgiving, and we have an artificial (pre-lit, it's great) tree, and the long weekend is very convenient. But never before Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Grammammy's bourbon balls. It's a family recipe, handed down for about 200 years. (Modified somewhat for modern ingredients.) I just wish I got around to making them more often.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Hmmm. I remember the year we got our stockings and stocking holders. I was maybe 7 or 8, and we were pretty poor. But my aunts and grandma went in together and "Santa" brought them to Grandma and Grandpa's house by "mistake." My stocking had an angel on it, but my favorite thing was my stocking holder - a little black and white kitten - I still have it and use it.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Okay, I admit it - I never believed in Santa. There's not a negative reason, I just remember knowing from a very young (like 2 or 3) age that Santa wasn't real. I did lead my brothers on, though.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Every year we get new pajamas on Christmas Eve, and that's the only gift we open before Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Pre-lit with colored lights, angel on top, gold bead garland, and all our family ornaments (lots of Hallmark stuff, etc.). No tinsel - animals spread it and eat it. We usually get a new ornament every year (mine are almost all cats - do you sense a theme with me?) and for special occasions (New Home, Parents-to-Be, etc.) but there's lots of room left for more. :-)

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? In my dream world, it would be in the 60-80 degree range from January 2nd to December 17th. Then on December 18th, the temperature would drop, it would snow 6-12 inches, and stay snowy until New Year's. Generally, around Christmas I like snow, especially when it is fresh and clean. After about February (or the first warm spell, whichever comes first) I'm ready for Spring. I'm a warm-weather girl.

12. Can you ice skate? I've only been once in my life, but I did okay then.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Other than my stocking holder, that's hard to say. I've gotten a lot of great gifts over the years, very thoughtful ones, and ones that I really wanted. But nothing pops out at me. Oh, wait. Love, the grey-and-white Pound Purrie (remember those?) I got when I was about 5 or 6. I still have her. She was my "reigning" top toy all through my childhood.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? I like spending time with family. I also enjoy giving gifts. The big thing, though, is comemorating Christ's birth (even though it was probably really in the spring).

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Haven't I answered this? Oh, that was dish. Okay. Well, make my "dish" honeybaked ham, and my "dessert" bourbon balls, then.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas Eve we get a bunch of indulgent snacks that we normally don't have, and watch Christmas movies and hang out and open our pajamas.

17. What tops your tree? An angel figurine.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Giving. I love to pick out "just the right" gift. Though recieving is fun, too. :-)

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Carol of the Bells. Favorite version: Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? They're okay. Look good on trees, but our dogs eat them. I might eat one or two over the season, but I can take or leave them really.

Hmmm...I tag Jen and Shaylin.

Characters, and how we get them.

If any of you watch NCIS you're aware of the story arc that has most all of the other characters mad at McGee. If you don't, here's the deal: the other characters knew McGee was "writing" a book, but they didn't know he had gotten it published, with a fair degree of success. That fact came to light a few episodes ago, and now all of them are reading his book (a really nice hardcover, with "Book 1" and "Continuing Adventures" on the front, so apparently he got a multiple-book contract - way to go, McGee) and getting mad at him because they think the characters in his book are based - often unflatteringly - on them.

It is true that most of the people in McGee's book have names and positions very similar to his coworkers and friends (i.e. Tony = "Tommy", Jimmy Palmer = "Pimmy Jalmer", and the main character is "L.J. Tibbs" as opposed to McGee's boss, Leroy Jethro Gibbs). So I can see how most people watching the show see McGee squirm and say "They're not based on you guys!" and think to themselves Riiiiiiiight, McGee, sure they're not.

Except the writers. 'Cause I'm sympathizing with McGee. The process of aqcuiring characters, especially secondary characters, is an interesting one. My characters post that I wrote early on in this process captures a lot of it. Basically, if you know me, you might see - or think you see - yourself in my novel, but that is probably not true.

Although I do love this hilarious t-shirt and would probably wear it. Hehe.

So I can see where McGee is coming from. He used the basic setup of his workplace, changed names slightly (and I know how hard it is to name characters, so he gets some slack), maybe borrowed a few characteristics but then added in a whole bunch of other, unrelated stuff to fill out his characters and make them NOT just fictionalized versions of his coworkers.

An example from my book: Elspeth's friend from work is Andrea Duluth. She's 28, slim, and the chief dosimetrist at the cancer clinic where Elspeth works (in modern day, obviously). I happen to work with a chief dosimetrist who is 28 and slim, and a friend of mine. However, Andrea is an outgoing party girl, and my coworker is not. Andrea's long blonde hair comes from a friend of mine from high school, but I have no idea why she has green eyes. She could be considered to be named for two people - the chief dosimetrist at the University Hospital where I did my Master's program was named Andrea. But the Andrea in my book goes by Andi, which I got from DH's cousin, also named Andrea. I have no idea where I got the last name "Duluth". That just popped in.

See how convoluted this is getting? Basically, several people could concievably read my book and *think* that this character is based on them, but she's not. She's not based on anyone.

So I understand McGee's frustration, and I think most other writers watching the show do too.

Anyone out there reading this who can comment on how they build characters and/or any flack they've caught for certain ones?

Monday, November 27, 2006


I am sick. As in, Saturday I developed a sore throat that morphed yesterday into full-body aches, chills, and general misery. My temperature got up to 103. Today is slightly better, but I still feel blah. Needless to say, I haven't been writing.

I think I'm just going to call November - "National Novel Writing Month" - a wash, which is ironic. I'm still gonna try to write later this week, but my 10K goal is shot. My end-of-year goal of 50K total still remains, however. We'll see.

Friday, November 24, 2006

She posts!

Yes, after a 10-day writing/blogging hiatus I'm back again. The end of the month is approaching and I've been slacking once more, and now I'm trying to get my rear in gear, as it were.

Well, actually, I've only kinda been slacking. We're having a big inspection-type thing at work on the 1st of December, and I've been busily finishing projects (namely the annual quality assurance on our accelerators) and organizing paperwork so that --if questioned--I can produce what they need and we can be only the second accredited cancer center in the state. That means long hours, and I just don't have writing energy after a 12-hour workday. But then the regular days I've used as an excuse to rest from my long days, and still haven't written.

I have, however, been doing some historical research. If that counts for anything.

Very short day at work tomorrow, then Christmas decorations to put up (first time we'll attempt lights on this roof--should be interesting) and then I can spend the rest of the weekend writing. I sense another personal mini-marathon for next week to try to approach my end-of-month goal of 35K. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Marathon - Day 3

Only 700 words tonight. But I stopped myself early so I could go to bed and get up in the morning for the Crusie-Mayer workshop I'm attending. The program looks awesome; a great overview of novel-writing, and addressing some specific topics I want to better myself at.

I have this really great program (thanks Dad!) called Microsoft OneNote that records lectures while you type notes, and syncs the recording up with the typed words. So I can go to any point in my notes and click to hear the actual discussion at that point. I've not used it before (DH has), but I have great plans for tomorrow. I'll take a pen and paper, just in case, though. *g*

Now, to bed!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Marathon - Day 2

Well, again not as productive as I'd hoped. I did come in right at another 1000 new words, which I guess is not bad, but I'd been hoping for 1500-2000. DH, darn him, got 1500 last night and 1800 tonight. But I'm way ahead of him in total wordage, so I guess it's okay. *g*

In my defense, I did spend a good portion of writing time revising previously written material. So that's a little tighter, has some nice new elements, and ties in with the new stuff I've been working on.

All in all, I guess I'm satisfied.

And on the first day...

...of the writing marathon, I managed decently. About 1000 new words. DH beat me - he got over 1500 - but he was already 500 into his scene when I finally started writing. I got a late start because it took an hour and a half of sitting at my computer after the baby went to bed for the Diet Sunkist to kick in and my exhaustion-induced mental block to lift. I added a decent chunk to an exsisting scene stub, and started a new one that came to me. I'd like to get 4-5K by the end of the marathon, I think. If I'm gonna break 50K by New Year's, I need to be cracking.

And now, since my day job requires me to be able to focus on lots and lots of numbers to ensure patients get the right amount of radiation, I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Writing Marathon!

Yah, I know...I've been pretty sparse with the posts lately. I'd like to say that's because I've been writing, but...not so much. My month's-end marathon last week left me burnt out for a few days, and then outside stuff picked up. Mondays and Tuesdays are TV nights with DH (though tonight's election coverage may mess with our shows). My best writing times are Wednesday-Saturday nights after the baby goes to sleep.

So, in a fun coincidence, we're having a writing marathon on Compuserve running Wednesday-Friday of this week. I'd just started to feel guilty for not having written anything lately, and resolved to pick back up on Wednesday. Good deal. Not gonna set a specific goal, but I am stocking up on Diet Sunkist. *g*

In other (slightly related) news, DH finally understands where I'm coming from WRT writing. He's just started work on a story that's been floating around in his head for a few years. Last week he got over 4K in ONE DAY. Now he and I can talk about when characters do unexpected things, or how to deal with the urge to write when you're really busy/tired/distracted, etc. I think I'll ask him to join in the marathon.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And now for something completely different...

A little background: I work at a cancer treatment center, and every year on Halloween we, the employees, dress up. I had no idea what I wanted to be until late Monday afternoon, and after a mad dash out to find a cat mask (yes, there are whiskers on it, if you look closely) and a cape at the last minute, here is the result. I give you:

Puss in Boots

The sword is a replica of the sword from the movie "Mask of Zorro" that DH had. The shirt and gloves are DH's; the pants and boots are mine. Not bad for thrown-together-the-night-before.

Elspeth's desire to learn to fight with a sword just kicked up a notch.

Down to the wire.

Well, I made it. Technically I went past my midnight deadline, but I won't tell if you don't.

Last night I didn't write at all. It was a very long and frustrating day at work, after only 3.5 hours sleep due to my writing marathon the night before. Tonight was Halloween on top of TV night with DH. So I didn't get started until 10:30. I got the first pages of two new scenes, to come in just over my 25K goal.

I'm going to continue to work on these and a few other scenes that I've started but not filled out, but it is coming time for me to do more research and make more decisions. That may take a good chunk of November.

But now, to bed.