Monday, December 31, 2007

Oidhche Challainn

Well, it looks like the writing I did this morning is all I'll get done today.  Not only have I been fairly busy at work (I've got to stop counting on "slow" days!) but mentally I'm dead in the water.
 
I guess I can only function on 4 hours sleep for three nights in a row before crashing.  Today was the fourth. 
 
I'm not actually awake right now; I'm caffeinated.  There's a difference.  *g*
 
I do have tomorrow off, and I do plan to sleep in, then spend the rest of the day writing.  But the joy of it all is that for the first time in years we've got something going on for New Year's...and it's at our house.  We're hosting about 12 people and we told them they could stay all night if they wanted (though I imagine most will leave around 1-2 am).  People will start showing up around 6 pm.  There's housework yet to be done, and I most desperately need a nap if I'm going to be at all social and awake for another 8 hours.  Oh, and I'm still at work; not sure when I'll get to leave.
 
But it will all turn out in the end.  If nothing else I'll make the excuse that LB insists I lie down with him for a while when he goes to sleep.  Which he has done the past few nights.  Maybe I can sneak a little nap in that way.  As long as DH doesn't leave me up there all night!
 
At any rate, everyone enjoy themselves (and I hope our friends on the other side of the Date Line did too!), be safe, and
 
Bliadhna Mhath Ur!!!

What a way to start off the morning...

So this morning I finished a scene I'd been avoiding, in which A&E find a mother and child who die/have died (respectively) of measles.  I knew the impact I wanted to make, and the points I needed to get across with this scene, but as a mother of a young son it was hard.  Even though it was fictional and not based on any personal experience, finishing the scene choked me up a little.

Not exactly beginning the day on a high note.  But Robert Frost said "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader," so hopefully that means I've written something with emotional impact.

On a lighter note, see the post below for a contest!  I'm off to get ready for work.

CONTEST!!!

I just had a brilliant thought: a contest to add (even more) excitement to the upcoming completion of my book!

There will even be a real prize.  Possibly monetary/bookish in nature.  I'm leaning towards a $25 Borders gift card.

The rules are simple: post a comment with your guess as to the final word count of my MS when I finish it this week.  Whoever guesses closest, wins!

Some info to help you out: right now I'm at 93,163 words.  (Ignore the wordmeter, I need to fix/fiddle with it.)

Feel free to ask me other questions in the comments.  I may or may not answer them.  *g*

So let's hear it.  How long-winded do you guys think I am?

A valiant effort

...but one doomed to fail. It just takes too much out of me to write for more than a couple hours straight, so I had to take multiple breaks that slowed me down. And in the end I gave in to the siren call - more like the incessant wail "mmmooooommmmmmmmmmmmYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - of Little Boy, and then we all went grocery shopping for our New Year's Eve (Hogmanay? *g*) party and had dinner and I gave LB a bath and put him down, but he insisted I lie down by his crib and I didn't get away until much later than I intended to get started again.

Bleh.

Even so I took my little yellow pill (that's caffeine, for any new readers - nothing illicit *g*) and had a cup of instant cappuccino and settled in for a long winter's write.

Not to be. I can tell I'm brain drained, so I'm packing it in in favor of a few (likely 4) hours sleep to start fresh before I have to go to work. Should be a slow day there, and I'll spend it writing if I can. After lunch, though, I'll have to switch gears and start getting ready for the party.

I'm off on New Year's Day, which I'd planned to spend sleeping in and cleaning house, putting away Christmas decorations, etc. but now I suppose I'll spend it like I did today. I'll still consider it making my goal if I finish by the end of that day.

Though word count *is* a measure of progress, I've switched over to completed chapters as my benchmark. The 100K goal was just an estimate, and I'll be adding and cutting stuff as I move through to the end. Whether it ends up at 98K or 108K is impossible to know at this point.

All in all, I did manage over 2K new words today, and 5 more chapters under my belt. Not too shabby.

No matter what, I'll be done by the end of this week. It's a staggering thought!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday morning

I've been up since 5 am.  Progress is slower than anticipated, but my momentum is building.  And my internet keeps crapping out on me; I think it's the writing gods' way of keeping me on task.  *w*

DH and Little Boy are at church.  LB didn't even know I was here (I'm usually gone to work by the time he wakes up, so nothing really out of the ordinary except it's the weekend).  The plan is to stay holed up in my office (the spare bedroom) all day...and into the night if necessary.  I'm keeping myself caffeinated, with the reasoning "I can sleep when I'm done."

As of right now, I'm at 92.5K (no wordmeter update - Zokutou hasn't been working lately *sigh*).  At 500 words/hour, that's about 15 more hours to 100K, or 2-3 am.  Assuming I maintain pace and don't go over.  We'll see.

I'm up through chapter 17 and 202 pages of contiguous MS!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday morning

Well, some progress at least.

Yesterday morning I finished Chapter 12, the trip to Glasgow. At work I realized chapter 13 was already written, it was just in a big chunk I had to re-paste into chapter format. I've been working on 14 this morning. Finished a major scene. Tonight will be another marathon session, during which I'll hopefully finish the other major scene in that chapter and move on. Chapters 15 and 16 are already largely written, just need to be formatted and smoothed over. I'm thinking about abandoning my family tomorrow and spending the entire day holed up with my computer.

I have finally really seen the light at the end of the tunnel. The gaps are closing fast, and it turns out I don't have so much left to write after all. The major thing slowing me down is that everything left to write is the slow stuff, stuff I haven't been able to "see" well, and transitions, etc.

But Little Boy just realized I am, in fact, home (does that make me a bad mom?) and I've got to be somewhere this afternoon, so I have to leave poor Elspeth kidnapped by Campbells and on her way back to Kilchurn to face Ormelie. It's a decent stopping point.

Fight scenes are hard for me to write. I want to make them accurate, and true-to-life. Elspeth can kick some ass, but she's also a woman, in skirts, surrounded by armed men with rather different attitudes about gender equality and fair play. I generally have to do them bit-by-bit, trying to imagine realistic actions to whatever move just occurred.

Today I knew one of the kidnapping party was going to try to abuse her, but I couldn't let that happen. I knew she fought him off but I couldn't "see" the action in one continuous play. So I'd write a paragraph or two, then have to think about something else and after a bit I'd realize what the most logical next move would be. And now it's done, her virtue intact, but not her sense of self-control...

(And because I have no self-control, I took another look at that CafePress list and found these gems: a mousepad I might have to get, and THIS SHIRT that I almost certainly will.)

Fun t-shirts

A real update coming soon, once I have something worthwhile to update. Hopefully in a few hours.

I'm up early to compensate for passing out on the couch last night and not only not writing, but missing a planned chat I had been looking forward to. Sorry, girls!

Anyway, I stumbled across this and thought some of you would appreciate them:

Fun author t-shirts on CafePress

I particularly like

Of Course There's a Writing Formula:
beginning + middle + end = story


(Oh, if it were only that easy. Especially for those of us who write in chunks!)

and

All the cool kids are writing.

Hehe. Also, the sadly accurate

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
-Thomas Mann


My personal favorite:

Careful, or you'll end up in my novel.

the search for which (with my Christmas money) led to the finding of the page.

Addendum: on a later page I found

Not Now! My muse is kicking ass

and

I prefer to think of myself as "pre-published."

and this awesome magnet:




Thursday, December 27, 2007

Not tonight, dear...

After 2 cups of Diet Pepsi *and* a caffeine pill, I'm still sitting here useless and blank.  So I'm going to pack it in for the night and set my alarm extra early.

Though it occurs to me: even if - by some miracle - I hit the 100K mark by New Years, I don't know if I'll actually finish the book.  With only 10K left to go, that's 4 (relatively short) chapters, and I think there's more story than that to tell.  Glencoe itself will be at least a chapter or two. 

I'm writing heavy, and a lot of stuff is going to be cut on rewrites, methinks.

Boxing Day

For me, the day after Christmas means the return to normal, which in this case was a 12-hour day at work.  Bleh.

I did get BIC tonight but not until after 10 pm.  Only managed a paltry 300 words.  However, a large part of my time was consumed by research.  I'm in Chapter 12, which is the trip to Glasgow.  Now that I have the background, hopefully things will pick up tomorrow and roll smoothly through the next few events, most of which are already roughed out.

I did find a neat website:
FirstFoot's Scottish Vernacular Dictionary

And the Wikipedia article on (modern) Glaswegian dialect defined the expression "pure dead brilliant" as "rather good".  Someone's got a sense of humor.  *g*

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

<---Courtesy of icanhascheezburger.com, the LOLcat that summarizes my day.

It's not so bad, really. Only a half-day, and being salaried I get paid for full. And it's almost time for me to leave.

Unfortunately, my plan to spend 3-4 hours writing because there wouldn't be anything to do was shot down. I've been fairly busy all morning, and thus: no wordage.

I did make some progress yesterday during LB's nap. Finished Chapter 11 - and therefore Act I - and moved into Chapter 12. This needs some historical background and then I just need to string together and smooth several large chunks as I move through Act II.

Last night I didn't get my BIC time because wrapping the last of the presents took longer than expected (doesn't it always?). Dunno if I'll be near a computer again until after Christmas proper.

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Belated update (and Bourbon Ball recipe!)

So Thursday I practically pulled an all-nighter.  Unfortunately I didn't get much wordage.  I did, however, get a chance to reconnect and chat real-time with some friends (thanks, girls!) which bolstered my confidence and was in general fun.  *g*

Friday I planned to write at work, but the cappuccino machine at the coffee kiosk was broken and, lacking caffeine, I wasn't very productive on two hours sleep.  Then my boss told me I could leave early (holiday weekend) so I did.  Had a pleasant evening with DH and LB, at the mall of all places.  Passed out cold on the couch as soon as LB was down.

Yesterday (Saturday) I got up early to write, but unfortunately LB woke up early too so no progress.  Then FIL, BIL, and GIL (girlfriend-in-law, hehe) came over after the family Christmas get-together and stayed the night.  We opened presents - bless his heart, FIL has given me a cross necklace almost every single year since I met DH, despite the fact that I wear one of them every single day and have the rest stashed in the back of my jewelry box - GIL and I made more bourbon balls, the guys watched a movie, and we all collapsed around midnight.

Oh, and my purse came in at last.  No worries!  100% authentic, and gorgeous to boot.  *g*  So that's one less distraction from now on...

It's now Sunday afternoon and LB is down for his nap; DH has gone out to buy games for his new Xbox 360.  I'm hoping to make some headway while LB sleeps, and then have my regular writing session tonight as well.

And in case anyone's interested, here's the family recipe for bourbon balls, as handed down by my great-grandmother:

Gramammy's Bourbon Balls

2 pounds 10x confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 stick melted butter
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup bourbon
(optional: 1 cup shredded coconut)
Dipping chocolate

Combine powdered sugar, butter, nuts, (coconut), and bourbon in large mixing bowl.  Should be proper consistency to form balls, not too dry or too "gloppy".  (Add bourbon or powdered sugar as needed to correct, but the listed proportions should work.)

Roll into ~1" balls and place on waxed paper or aluminum foil on cookie sheet, chill.

When balls are firm and set, melt dipping chocolate and dip each ball, replacing on cookie sheet and chilling to set chocolate.

Should make 10-12 dozen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In the Presence of Greatness, part 2 (and Wednesday update)

Jo's got another fricktastically AWESOME review over at Dear Author right now.  Shame I missed the giveaway, because I can't *wait* to read the book, but my pre-ordered copy will be here in just under two weeks so I guess I'l deal.  *w*
 
It's so very exciting to know such a great writer and all-around good person and see her rocket to (I'm sure) instant bestseller status.  Jo Beverly, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas...Joanna Bourne.  Go Jo!
 
As for me, I got 700 words at work yesterday and given that plus my state of absolute exhaustion at the dinner table, I went to bed right after Little Boy went down and woke up fully-rested for the first time in a while.  Novel feeling.  I'm hoping to make up some more wordage this afternoon, and put in a good BIC session tonight.  I'm within 10K of my target, though I think there will be a few more old scenes cut as I move forward through the story which will lower the wordcount somewhat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday's update

Yeah, no writing progress still.  DH and I were up waaaay too late last night (3 am! Even when I'm writing I'm usually in bed by 2...) trying to get Christmas presents wrapped - what had been planned for Monday before I fell ill.  I'm running - if you can call it that - on about 4 hours sleep today.
 
It's been 3 days of no writing and that's the threshold to really cut myself off from doing anything until I make more headway.
 
But!  I'm jazzed up on caffeine and have a pretty open schedule at work, so I hope to make up some writing today, at least 1K.  If I do enough, I might just get to bed early tonight so I'll be fresh for the rest of the week's push.  I can only miss so much sleep before my production slumps, and I actually get more accomplished by taking a night to sleep and then hitting it full steam the next day.
 
And I got my gratis copy of Kinley MacGregor's (can't fault her last name! *w*) book The Warrior in the mail yesterday.  Carol's got it too, so that should make for some interesting discussion once we're both done.  And on the Avon Books Reading Group (from whence came the free book) on Facebook, too.
 
Oh, and I spent my Christmas bonus on a new purse.  I'd been wanting a Coach bag for a while, and found a new one for a good price on eBay (yes, I did my research and checked out the seller first - I'm confident this was a good buy and authentic).  I do believe this will be the first designer item I have ever owned.  At the very least, it's the first I've ever bought myself.  But I needed a good purse.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Some Good News

DH and I were just discussing our desire for this the other day.  Woohoo!
 
 
Though, as DH said, if this is going to be two movies, LOTR should have been at least six...

Belated Monday update

I didn't update last night because I was too sick to get on the computer.  Whatever it was gave me a pounding headache and severe nausea (no, I'm not pregnant) for most of the evening.  It was all I could do to get Little Boy in bed (with DH's help) and then I had to lie down on the couch to keep from throwing up.  I ended up falling asleep, and DH woke me up at 11 pm, whereupon I had a very late dinner and went to bed.
 
Feeling much better this morning, though.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

As promised

Daily check-in for Sunday...doesn't look like I'll get to any writing tonight.  I had intended to, but my playgroup is collecting donations for Christmas care packages for the women and kids at the domestic violence shelter we took the Project Night Night packages to last month, and I just realized all the stuff was due tomorrow.  So I've been getting all that together and now it's going on 11 pm.  I consider this not a wasted evening, since it's for the greater good.  *g*

Accountability

It's almost 5 am and storming outside.  I can hear the wind lashing the rain (yes, rain!  where's the frigging snow? oh...up north) against the windows.  I like the sound of rain, so I'm enjoying it.  I'm also the only creature up, and the whole house is quiet except for the sound of my animated train ornament on the tree in the next room.  (I'm back downstairs temporarily.  Dunno if I'll move back up to the guest room or stay down here for a while.)  Ah, the dishwasher just kicked on.  Now I know I'm up too late.

Despite the lateness of the hour, I'm positively wired.  Remind me not to take two caffeine pills within 2 hours of each other, especially not starting at 9 pm.  But I needed to write.  I need to write.  I've been putting it off for one thing or another for the past 3 months.

Over the summer I did 20K in a month.  I've done 6K total in the past three, or one tenth of my potential productivity.

I've cut back on my blogs and blogging and internet presence, as noted.  But just like skipping the writer's forum was depriving me of support and inspiration, not blogging is depriving me of accountability.

I think by telling myself I'm just keeping my head down and not posting to save time for writing, I'm also allowing myself to go days without doing anything and not having to answer for it.  No one knows if I spent 3 hours one night researching how to spot a fake Coach handbag on eBay *cough* and not a minute writing.

So I'm instituting a new policy.  From now until the end of the year at least, I will post at least once a day.  It may only be a line or two, but it will summarize what I accomplished (or didn't).  Hopefully this will keep me on the straight and narrow, and force me to work so I can report good stuff.  I think 2 or 3 days of owning up to wasting time would be an effective deterrent.  Hopefully it won't come to that.

Today, I did spend some time looking at Coach bags on eBay (my planned Christmas bonus gift to myself).  I also played my rounds in the Scrabulous games I've got going.  But I've been working too.  Even though I said it was done, I reworked and added a bit to the end of Chapter 10.  That's the ceilidh in Glenstrae where Alec is all but formally betrothed to Janet Cameron (in the works for years) and Elspeth comes to the bitter realization that she's fallen for him.

Now I'm in Chapter 11.  (Hehe, my finances are fine, thank you.)  Elspeth learns Griogal Cridhe from Catriona *nods to Cathy* and Alec asks her about returning because he can't be her protector once he's married.  This chapter will close out Act I.  Next up, Glasgow for the winter's mart, and the kidnapping.

Total daily wordage: not sure, because I forgot to check my starting point.  I'll keep track from now on.

Gah, I've got to be up for church in about 4 hours (at the latest!).  To bed with me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Yeah, yeah, I know...

REAL writing-related blog post coming soon.  I know, promises, promises...
 
It's kind of the thing where I've got so much to blog, I put it off "until I have time" - and most of you are already laughing now.  So yeah, that's why I haven't blogged.  (Or responded to some of your e-mails...sorry!)
 
Short version: I'm back on a linear kick and chapter 9 is done, chapter 10 is done, and once I finish chapter 11 I'll have the first act complete.  (Some restructuring needed in there, so I think there might end up 12 chapters in Act I.)
 
Still not as productive as I'd like to be, but at least I'm B.I.C. every night.  End-of-year goal date stands.
 
This post is mainly me absurdly excited to be getting a free copy of Kinley Macgregor's new book The Warrior courtesy of the Avon Books Reading group on Facebook and wanting to share my good news.  *g*
 
Christmas cards will be going out today and tomorrow (finally!) so if you haven't gotten me your address and want one, drop me a line.  If you have gotten me your address, watch your mail.  International delivery may take a bit, though, so consider them "New Year" cards too.  *w*

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In the presence of greatness...

Our very own Jo, master of the Writing Exercises and all-around most excellent teacher/mentor/writer/person, has gotten some great press lately!

Read this review on SBTB.  She also garnered 4 1/2 stars from Romantic Times.

All together now:  SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, go pre-order the book.  (Click on the cover image to the left there to go straight to the Amazon listing.)  *g*

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How Jenny Got Her Groove Back

She surfaces!  I've been meaning to post for over a week, really I have.

Last week was productive, if minimally so.  A scene that started out fresh and free-flowing got slower and more tedious toward the end, but I really wanted to finish it.  Add a boar hunt to the list of times we get Alec almost killed.  *w*  Finally finished that out at 2100 words, which for 5 days of writing averaged a little over 400 words/day.  Not great, but better than nothing.

Sunday night I could have strangled myself.  Little Boy was in bed - and quiet! - just after 8 pm, and I was on my computer by 8:30.  It's been a looong time since that happened.  But did I get any writing accomplished?  No.  The siren song of the internet was too strong.  To be fair, I was finishing up some Christmas shopping, with which I am pretty much done.  (Now, just to wrap the stuff...)  But still.  I've complained that my lack of productivity was due in part to late starting times, but when I get an early one what do I do?  *headdesk*

However, I made myself write at work on Monday (things have finally slowed down a bit, though I doubt it will last).  And tonight I got B-i-C by 8:30 again, caffeinated and ready to work.  Also determined to make up for the sins of Saturday.

So here I sit, actually feeling inspired for a change, making progress and dead-set on finishing this SFD by the end of the year.  Want to know the real secret of my regained vision?  The answer may surprise you.

Like several others, I tried to cut myself off from my usual internet haunts in an effort to boost productivity.  This included the CompuServe forum.  To a degree, the relief of expectations to post and be social on these sites (as well as the endless time-suck of my blog feeds) did free up some time.  But did it boost productivity?  No.

I guess I am a weak, weak woman.  But there are many times during the day (especially at work) where I don't have the time to get into a scene but I need a mental break from what I'm doing.  Enter the internet.  (Heh.)  I stuck to my resolution to avoid my usual sites but the problem was...I found others.  Non-writing-related ones.  So I was still spending time online, but doing stuff that kept my mind off my story and writing.  And that, I think, was a big obstacle to me gaining any kind of momentum.

So tonight, in my pre-writing-time allowed internet foray, I'd already hit all my other usual haunts.  The CompuServe button in my browser bar tempted me.  Time-suck! I fretted.  I'm so behind there, I'm always afraid to try to wade back in.  Mainly because it takes a long time to get caught up.  But I needed to do something while I finished my soda before I put in my whitening trays (long story, see my braces blog in a few days) so I popped on over.

Only spent 5 minutes there, and made one post, skimmed 2-3 threads.  But you know something?  Just being back in the (virtual) company of other writers did something for my productivity that almost 3 months of R&R could not do.

So I'll be lurking over there more often instead of vegging on the braces board or ICHC.   (Though I'll probably still limit my posting until I get done with the MS.) 

I'm newly inspired.  I'm gonna finish this thing.  I can feel it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meh.

This week, it is not going as planned.  I had starry-eyed visions of 2K nights, leading up to me finished (or nearly so) with the SFD this weekend.

Despite staying up till 1-2 am every night so far, juiced up on soda and caffeine pills, my wordcounts have been half to as little as a tenth of my projected targets.

But!  I am at least getting wordage.  Consistent wordage, writing-every-night wordage.  This is something I haven't managed to accomplish in over two months, so I consider it progress.

So I won't be done in November, but next week the majority of my other irons will be removed from the fire: Heroes and DwTS have run this-season's course, so no more TV nights breaking up my momentum.  And my external projects are mostly completed.  Now there's just the little matter of Christmas...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Big Vocabulary = Free Rice for the Hungry

This website is for real:
 
 
Take a vocab quiz and for every correct answer, rice will be donated to the hungry.
 
According to Snopes the cost of the rice is paid for by the advertising.
 
With the kind of vocabulary rampant in our writers' circles, we could feed a small country at least!
 
(Warning: major time suck!  But you learn some cool words!)

Christmas Cards

I'd love to send out Christmas cards to everyone!  If you want to make my Christmas list, send me an e-mail with your mailing address.  International requests welcome!  *w,g*

Media Blackout

Despite the fact that I'm about to make several posts, I'll be on a complete media blackout this entire week, in an attempt to get my butt  in gear and make more significant headway than I have been.  Yes, it's time for one of Jenny's masochistic manic marathons.
 
So if I don't respond to e-mails/messages, that's why.
 
The word counter is still not correct.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Future

The Future:

It is Now

Tagged

Carol tagged me for this, and I finally surfaced to see it.  *g*  So here goes...
 
Four Things You May or May Not Know About Me

A) Four jobs I have had in my lifetime:
1. Hallmark Cards merchandiser
2. Color Guard assistant coach
3. Humane Society adoption counselor
4. Medical Physicist

B) Four movies I would watch over & over:
1. any Star Wars
2. ditto Star Trek
3. and LOTR
4. Hmmm...Indiana Jones?  Now, if you'd asked me about books...

C) 4 places I have lived:
1. Louisville, KY
2. Brandenburg, KY
3. Irvington, KY
4. Lexington, KY (see a pattern here?)

D) Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. Heroes
2. Journeyman
3. Dancing With the Stars
4. NCIS/The Unit (they're kind of a single entity for me) 

E) Four places I have been:
1. Israel
2. Tampico/C.D. Madero, Mexico
3. Seattle, WA
4. Washington, D.C.

F) Four people who e-mail me (regularly):
1. Shaylin
2. Deniz
3. Carol
4. Claire

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. sushi (did I ever think I'd say that?)
2. homemade Crispix mix
3. anything from Red Lobster (Cheddar Bay biscuits!)
4. warm cornbread muffins with real butter

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Gatlinburg
2. Scotland
3. Florida
4. The Bahamas

I) Things I am looking forward to this and next year:
1. Finishing OHN
2. Getting an agent (I hope!)
3. Hiring another physicist at work
4. Paying off a few of our big loans
 
Well, heck...is everyone tagged already?  I'll safely say Shaylin and Jon and Brooke (if you're still out there), and anyone who hasn't been tagged yet in case I'm missing someone.
 
Side note: generally, when Jenny isn't blogging Jenny isn't writing, but I have been.  Sorta.  Anyway, updates coming soon and the word counter is not accurate.  Progress at last!

Monday, November 12, 2007

And we're up!

Or I am, at least. My pitch is the very first one on today's list of critiques over at BookEnds:

Pitch Critiques Round 5

As I told Carol, I guess I should have sent her the one I sent EE, and sent him that one! All the detail was based on comments from EE's blog, after my nice, tight paragraph "left too many unanswered questions, i.e. how exactly did she end up in the past?"
Not really negative from her, though. I could wish she'd said if the concept or the rest of the hook worked for her, besides the fact that - as a "synopsis" rather than pitch - it was too long.
Guess I should take heart from the fact that she didn't say "BORING!" like she has for a few others.
And it really was nice of her and generous to offer the critiques in the first place. I really appreciate her doing it.
Still at the drawing board...
I also got my chapter of the group novel up on the CompuServe Forum, so now I can return to OHN full-strength. Well, after Heroes and Journeyman tonight.
(I had the weirdest dream this morning. It involved Russia, braces, time travel, and Red Sox baseball. Bizarre.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Group Novel and other distractions

Well, I've had some minor setbacks since regaining my momentum somewhat over last weekend.  Nothing insurmountable, just my progress hasn't been what I'd hoped.
 
I tend to focus on one major "project" at a time.  For most of the last 18 months, that project has been the book.  Others have intruded from time to time and slowed me down.  This week, the group novel and the Project Night Night event I've been planning are vying for my attention.  But the PNN thing is this evening, so that will be one thing down.  The group novel will be the other.
 
I didn't read the previous chapters of the GN until my turn, so I could take them all in at once and try to come up with a coherent continuation.  I read it over Monday night, but needed to let it simmer before I knew what to write.
 
At long last my ideas for the group novel started to "come to a boil" yesterday and this morning, and I was able to get about a page of notes and a page of narrative down today at work.  Not sure how many pages I'm supposed to write overall, I think maybe 3-4 (single spaced)?  So I should be able to finish that up tonight or tomorrow at the absolute latest.
 
Confession time: I've not been nearly as strict with myself on internet usage as I planned to be.  It is a little better, but I've still frittered away plenty of potential writing minutes on the web.  I blame the "Superheroes" app on Facebook *sheepish grin* and another "project" that is sapping a lot of my resources: braces.
 
Yep, I'll be getting braces first of next year and I've been doing a lot of research on them of late because of the insurance paperwork I have to get set up ahead of time.  I even started a blog to chronicle my progress, since you guys and my friends and family will get sick of hearing about it on my regular blogs otherwise.  I needed an outlet - catharsis, you know.  *g*
 
Anyway, back to it since I need to leave work early today.  People coming to my house tonight.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Illuminating Article

And interesting article about "communication overload" and how interruptions and multitasking can make it harder to be productive at work:

Office ADD

I think it can be applied to my tendencies during writing time, too.

A quote:

"If I weren't checking e-mail 30 times in an evening, would I be writing a book?" Bill wonders.

Rough start

Adjusted plan: goal is 1500 words nightly, but I absolutely cannot leave the computer until I have at least 500 words down.

As I posted, I did okay the first day.  But last night I didn't manage any words at all.  It wasn't for trying: I sat at the computer for two hours at least.  And I wasn't fooling around online, either.  I was messing with my iTunes a bit, mainly to listen to some of my bagpipe music and get "in the zone" but for the most part I was just trying to focus and get back into writing mode.  At midnight I gave it up for a lost cause.

Had a productive day today: cleaned up the kitchen, cleaned and did a partial water change on my aquarium, washed several loads of laundry, and cleaned out/reorganized the garage.  (We can actually park a vehicle in there now, which will be handy when it starts freezing in earnest.)  Then we went to a bonfire with our Sunday school group.  Couldn't have asked for better weather - not too cold but with the Fall crispness in the air, still enough daylight to cook by, and not so dry anymore that having a large fire was risky.

Tonight I started slow.  Found some new Alec-y pics of Martin Henderson that got me closer to the character again.  Spent some time looking for an Elspeth, but it's hard to find pics of, say, 20-something actresses with brown hair and eyes online - unless I am the only one not aware of where to look.

Opened three or so scenes and skimmed them, trying to find a place to pick up.  Finally settled on the kidnapping scene, one of the ones I left in the middle and haven't been sure how to finish.

Tonight I squeaked by with my 500 words, and it's pretty late.  At least I get an "extra" hour of sleep in the morning.  (Though I'm not thrilled at the prospect of darkness so early in the evening from now on.)  But!  I have regained a tiny bit of momentum, and the scene is taking shape, so I should get out of the gate quicker next time.

Tomorrow I've got church, some book shopping for the Project Night Night drive, my FIL is coming up to visit, I need to write, and oh - did I mention I probably have to go into work for 3-4 hours (unpaid) to catch up on all the stuff that hit the fan Friday afternoon?  *sigh*

Friday, November 02, 2007

NaNoWriMo, after a fashion

Happy November!  It's National Novel Writing Month, and writers everywhere are geared up to crank out almost 1700 words a day in order to have written a new 50K book by thirty days from now.

Since I've decided to feed off all the energy in the air, and since I'm way behind in the wordcounts and needed a good kick in the @$$, I thought "What the heck? I'll do NaNoWriMo too."

Strictly speaking, I'm not - my words will be the completion of a mostly-written book instead of a new one (mainly, see below) - and I didn't sign up through the official website.

But I have set myself a new goal (remember when I said I wasn't going to set specific goals anymore?) to try to keep pace with the NaNoWriMo folks and average 1500-1700 words a day.  That should pretty much guarantee completion by the end of the month, even if I have to top 120K and then whittle down before everything's said and done.  It's a crazy, frenetic pace, but I have seen that when I'm really focused I can accomplish it.  I just need to stay focused.  See previous post about the internet.  *g*

So I sat down tonight prepared to flex my writing muscle and power forward through OHN.  There was just one minor problem...

Despite my best intentions to not do this until Elspeth and Alec's story was done, I took a page out of some friends' books (if you'll pardon the expression, hehe) and - since I was stuck on Book One - worked on Book Two.

Book Two is tentatively titled One Highland Wife, and will be the story of Nathaniel (Elspeth's brother) and Mairi (Alec's sister).  All the new scenes popping up in my head were between those two, so I went with it.  I also did some more brainstorming, as all I have right now are a few loosely-connected plot points, and wrote a very preliminary "hook":

Nathaniel Martin is happy to accept his sister's offer of a free vacation with her in Scotland, even if it means babysitting his young nephew while she and her husband celebrate their anniversary.  But a family outing to a ruined castle goes completely awry when Nate gets sucked through a time portal and into the late seventeenth century.

The stone that opened the portal is taken from him, and the only way to retrieve it is to buy it back, at an exorbitant price.  It takes everything he has and knows—and then some—to raise the funds.  Meanwhile, [antagonist/conflict here].

On his way to make the trade, he is moved to spend the entire amount to purchase a beautiful young widow named Mairi at auction, to save her from a life of servitude to the brutal man who sought to buy her.  Now he must seek another way to reclaim the stone and find a way back to his own time, as well as overcome [antagonist/conflict from above].  But the hardest thing will be deciding what do about the auburn-haired lass who has taken his name…and his heart.

The major scene I worked on - and cranked almost 900 words out of - will be from a chapter late in the book, entitled "Revelations of the Bedchamber".  Here's a snip:
"You know," Nate said, reclining against the headboard with Mairi snuggled contentedly against his shoulder, "we've been married [X] months, and I don't think you've told me anything about your brother."

"Andrew?" she asked.  "But I've spoken of him often enough.  There isna much to say now, as he's been deid these three years past.  Left a young wife and son, but the bairn was too wee to become chief, so the line passed to my uncle's branch."

"I remember you talking about Andrew.  I meant your other brother.  The one you don't speak of.  I don't think you've even told me his name."

Mairi hugged her arms about herself and sat up, away from him.  Her eyes became distant and she fixated on a point in the opposite corner of the room.

"Alasdair.  But most called him Alec."
And a bit later, after some explanations...

"Hold on.  I thought you said your maiden name was MacAlpin?"

She sighed.  "Aye, and so I did.  MacAlpin is the name my family took when it became illegal to claim 'MacGregor' in public, and to do so was cause for persecution…or execution."

He put up a hand, as much an attempt to bat away the thoughts that were buzzing and swarming about his head as to stall her speech.

"Wait.  You're telling me that you were—are—a MacGregor, and that your brother, Alec, married a woman named Elspeth and then disappeared under mysterious circumstances, never to be heard from again?"

"Aye."  Her eyebrows knit together, and a look of consternation and old pain crossed her delicate features.  It made him want to hold her close and sooth away the hurt, but just now he needed to come to grips with this new information.

MacGregor.  Alec MacGregor, and his wife, Elspeth.  Son of a—

All told, my nightly wordcount was up around 1400.  Not too shabby.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Costume

As promised.
 
Just the right blend of bad Halloween pun and science-nerdiness for my taste.
 
The wig is my special accomplishment.  The costume shop didn't have what I needed, so I bought a granny wig with a bun, lopped the bun off and frizzed up the rest.  It turned out pretty much how I pictured it.
 
The makeup is what I get for buying the cheap stuff.  It's coming off as soon as I get home.
 
I wish I'd had the chance to make myself an E=mc2 t-shirt to wear under the lab coat, though.
 
I would have made the fact that I'm FrankEinstein a little more transparent.  *g*

Withdrawal

Much discussion is going around about withdrawing from the internet for the sake of writing focus.  I probably need to do the same, to a greater extent than I have the past two months. 
 
Sure, my blogging presence has been scanty, and I've only popped into the Forum occasionally, but my activity on Facebook is regular, and I have a "loop" of websites I'll check in all free moments (ranging from local news to LOLcats) that distract my focus and take time that, technically, I could use to write.
 
The most productive I have ever been at work was the month or so they told us our internet usage was being monitored, and we could be fired for too much.  At the time I left my Gmail open all the time, and frequently popped on to other sites to look something up whenever the mood struck.  But I was running scared, so I checked my e-mail only in the morning, at lunch, and while I was pumping (Little Boy was still nursing then).  Then I.T. told us it wasn't real, and we who are salaried wouldn't be as much under focus as long as we were keeping our workload up.  It's been over a year and I've gradually slipped back to my old ways.  But no longer.
 
Game plan: severely restrict my internet time and the sites I'm allowed to visit.  I will remove Google Reader from my Google homepage (I have over 50 subscriptions now) - after all, the posts will still be there for me to read when I'm done - and allow myself on CompuServe, Facebook, BabyCenter, etc. only once a week (Claire's idea).  I will turn off the WiFi on my laptop (Jen's idea)...at least until I hit my daily word goal.
 
I will continue to check in with the 70 Days of Sweat challenge, to keep me moving forward.  And I do have my Group Novel chapter and the November X on CompuServe, but once those are done I'll be pretty scarce.
 
One thing I can't abandon is e-mail.  Call it addiction if you want, but it's also my primary form of communication - with DH while I'm at work, with my brother in Germany, with my family hours away, with you my friends scattered all over the globe.  I will continue to check that daily, though I will attempt to limit the number of times I log in.  If you need to get ahold of me, e-mail.  If you don't have my e-mail, leave a blog comment (those get e-mailed to me).
 
Speaking of the blog, I can post from my e-mail.  That's what I'm doing now.  An active blog usually indicates progress for me, since I will post updates and small snips.  So I'll keep doing that, but try to keep the posts short.
 
Look for pics of my Halloween costume later today, and then we enter the blackout.  I think a lot of us are taking NaNoWriMo seriously; if not the 50K goal at least the spirit of writing intensely.  See you on the other side.  *g*

Confession

I have only written 2K in 2 months. And that all in one day, a couple weeks ago. Other than that one day, progress has been nonexistent.

This LOLcat sums it up:


I guess I'm not one of those people who is energized as they near the end; I'm paralyzed. Most of the remaining scenes are the ones I've been skirting, dodging around for the past year or so, and don't know how to go about writing. On top of that, I am thoroughly into the "this book sucks" phase, which I had hoped to avoid until rewrites, and the sheer weight of how much emotion and complexity and continuity I am trying to include and likely not succeeding with is bearing down on me and crushing the air out of my figurative writing lungs.

Okay, I guess I don't think the book sucks. I know in my heart of hearts this is a good idea, a good story. I still get excited thinking about plot details. What I think sucks is...me. My writing.

This goes beyond the doldrums. I'm not just waiting for a breeze; I need someone to bring me a new sail, because mine is gone and even if the wind were to pick up, I don't know how I'd catch it.

All the momentum I built over the summer is gone. A lot of it was stolen by the rest of my life, which came crashing down in September after I'd put it off for months to concentrate on the book. Then I was just burnt out and fatigued and couldn't drag myself to the computer in favor of sleep. It doesn't help that Little Boy is near impossible to put to bed anymore, and even when he finally gets quiet, it's much harder to start writing at 10 pm after a long day than it was at 8 pm or even 9.

Over these two months other short-term projects have intruded, and I told myself I'd take a few weeks off the book, then a month, then a few more weeks, and now it's become two months and the end of October - a point at which I'd hoped to be done and into rewrites preparatory to entering a few major contests - is looming tomorrow with me no farther along.

Tonight I was finally reasonably well-rested, caught up enough in life to devote an evening to writing, Little Boy went down at the early hour of 9:30, and my frustration at the delay in finishing the MS was great enough to get me Butt In Chair.

Only, once I actually connected my data stick and prepared to write (after dealing with the minor emergency of some corrupted files - hooray for backups), I froze.

All the places I could have picked up and worked felt dead to me, the scenes wooden or lacking, to the point where I couldn't even bear to open the files and read what tripe I had written there. I faced the ultimate fear of writers: I couldn't hear or see my characters. It's not a disconnect from them, specifically, because I can hear them for the House Party scenes. It's that I can't see what they want to do - what I need to write - for the MS.

...There's this thing I do, a state I get myself into. I call it "variable overload". My nature is to hold in my head all the aspects of a situation, spread out mentally so I can analyze, utilize, compartmentalize, optimize. It makes me a good problem solver. I use it for anything from finding the way to pack the most objects into a space (such as organizing closets or loading kilns) to finding the most efficient order/route to run errands. The problem arises when there are too many variables. My brain goes into this endless loop of "but what about this? and this? and this?" and I end up having a mini-meltdown, stressed out and unable to choose any path. Usually at that point DH has to step in and make the decision for me, and even though I want to protest ("but have you considered...?!") I go meekly along for the sake of doing something, anything.

Right now I'm in variable overload with the book. My brain is a jumble of story arcs, relationship progression, character motivation, settings, dialect, historical details, style and craft...all screaming for my attention, pressing me to work them seamlessly into each scene.

Objectively, I know they don't all have to be in place in the SFD. It's called that for a reason, after all, and that inherent ability to analyze will help me in rewrites once I can see the Big Picture. But I can't get to the Big Picture because I'm frozen, uncertain, stressed out by my inadequacies and the sheer enormity of what it takes to write an outstanding book.

And DH can't make these decisions for me.

Now is the time when perfectionism is a curse.

But I'll work through it, and blogging this is the first step. This is not a plea for pats on the back, hand-holding, and "there-there"s. I just felt I needed to come clean about the fact that, for all that I've been maintaining a facade of progress and enthusiasm, I really haven't done much of anything. And to tell the truth, I do feel better and more motivated for getting it out in the open.

*deep breath*

Tomorrow is a new day, and the day after that is a new month. NaNoWriMo, in fact, and though I'm not taking that particular challenge hopefully there will be a charge in the air - the collective subconscious of so many writers in the country who are energized and focused. I think I can tap into that, and overcome this last and greatest hurdle. By the time a new year rolls around, I'll be where I want to be.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rough Cut Covers

A very nice lady I met through my BabyCenter.com "birth club" (March 2006 Babies) who happens to be a dab hand with PhotoShop made these cover designs for me. They're not what a publisher would put out, by any means (though I've seen worse on some e-pubbed books) but I think they have a good feel for what I'm going for in a cover. I.e. no shirtless kilted man, no bodice-ripping, no pictures of people who look nothing like my characters. And they are WAY better than I could ever come up with. Mad props to her for doing them.

If I ever self-pub (if I ever get this darned thing finished, more on that in a later post) I might use one of these or something very like it.


What do you guys think?

Just in time for Hallowe'en

And marginally related to my own book, a fun and interesting article from Slate on
 
 
Even if you don't believe - I like the author's self-description of "charitably dubious" -  there's some fascinating history and descriptions of several castles.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday

I'll be at one of our satellite facilities all day Monday, so likely no internet presence for me (even with a roaring house party going) until tomorrow afternoon/evening.  And tomorrow's TV night.  I'll see what I can do.

At least I know I'll have my evenings free from baseball, as the Sox completed their sweep of the World Series tonight.  DH is very excited.  *g*

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Church

From MSN.com's front page (!) this morning:

This article

That's my church.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Google Meme!

Deniz didn't really tag me for this, but I thought it would be fun anyway.  *g*
 
Five Google searches that return my blog as the first hit:
 
3. jenny elspeth alec (is that cheating?)
4. sailor's blessing doldrums (I get a lot of traffic from searches like this, for some reason.  Nina posted the blessing in the comments.)
 
Close, but no cigar:
kilchurn breadalbane - I'm the second hit, right after a Clan Campbell society!
medical physicist romance novelist - also the second hit, right below Deborah Hale (see below)
alec glencoe massacre - again, second...after EE's discussion of my query!
 
I'm finding a pattern...a lot of the hits I'm getting are to one specific post - this one.  I guess it has all the really unique combinations.  It's loooong, too.  *g*
 
Interestingly enough, searching for "Alec and Elspeth" pulls up hits to another book, Remembering Laughter by Wallace Stegner, several posts to this blog, and quite a few of my CompuServe posts.  (I have been formerly immune to the CompuServe-Google link as I don't post under my full name and even that is so commonplace that I am buried in the pile.)
 
The MCs' names plus a story location (i.e. "alec elspeth glenstrae" or " alec elspeth glencoe") will almost always get me as first hit.
 
Kind of funny: there is an Elspeth Martin who did math and physics at Glasgow University in the early 90's *cue Twilight Zone music*
 
And apparently there is an author of Historical Romance named Deborah Hale who is married to a medical physicist.  (I've requested her most recent book through PaperBack Swap...she writes Regency, my other preferred subgenre.)
 
The search "compuserve forumites" did not pull my blog up on the first page, much less the first hit.  That honor belongs to Claire, hehe.
 
Another string that I got first hit on, but not to the blog, was "kilchurn glenstrae glencoe", which linked to the House Party "I" hosted on behalf of Alec and Elspeth over the summer.
 
Quite a few of the strings I tried pulled up my CompuServe posts.  But then, if you're doing these searches, you likely know me anyway, because they are pretty random combinations.
 
Okay, now that's my Friday-afternoon-blow-off and I have to get back to work if I'm going to see my husband and son tonight.
 
P.S.  Close game last night, but the Sox prevailed.  I may actually get to write tonight and then the Series resumes in Denver tomorrow and Sunday...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pitch Critiques

Jessica over at the BookEnds Agency blog is offering "Perfecting Your Pitch" critiques. Just leave your one-sentence or one-paragraph pitch in the comments, and she'll choose as many as she can to critique on the blog.

In a fun coincidence, Agent Kristin is talking about the same thing right now (though not offering critiques, alas).

Because I can't help myself, and figuring out this whole query thing is a long-running obsession with me, I spent all my writing time this morning working up a new version and posting it. I tried to take the advice of both agents, which basically boiled down to "try to make it read like back cover copy".

So that's what I did, trying to set up the situation and give a feel for some of the external conflict (Breadalbane, political climate, etc.), while coming right out and saying that Elspeth and Alec fall in love, but only hinting at the separation that drives the story from climax-resolution.

It may look like 3 paragraphs, but if you count closely you'll note it's only 5 sentences long. *g* So we'll see if it gets picked and what she has to say.

I left out everything about why they can't have a relationship, and Elspeth's trade-off with the Earl to save his life after his capture and sentencing - and their "one night" together that the title draws on - and Alec's journey into the present to find her...which is kind of my core idea and the crux of the whole story. I wasn't thrilled about it. But I was matching the tone of cover copy for books in my genre, so again I guess we'll see.

My problem is, whenever I get it worked down into what I feel is a nice, tight little package (like I did for EE) the commenters always want to know this or that, and answering everything baloons my tight 5 sentences out into 2-3 paragraphs, almost like a short synopsis but still trying for a hook instead of revealing the ending as a true synopsis would.

And often the "sucessful" queries posted have much longer bodies, with more detail. So which to use when I actually get to the query stage?

...

Personal status update: Sven is angry with me, but I married into Red Sox Nation and watching the first game of the World Series with DH last night pre-empted any writing I would have gotten done, just like the ALCS pre-empted it last week. I hope the Sox take this thing in 4, because I don't think I'll be very productive at home until it's over, and work is too busy right now to sneak in much writing time here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking the Plunge

I succumbed to peer pressure *g* and entered the brand-spanking-new version (as in, it came to me last night in bed as I was drifting to sleep) of my opening to Nathan Bransford's LIFPC.
 
Precie entered, I know.  And I saw Jen's openings up there, too as I skimmed through the numerous entries .  So good luck to all!
 
And don't forget to give me costume ideas in the post below...

I need ideas.

Halloween falls on a weekday again this year, and we are allowed - practically encouraged - to dress up at work.  Fun times.

I need ideas of cool/creative costumes I could put together with minimal effort/expense.  Last year I went as Puss in Boots and had a pretty good time of it.  All I had to buy was the mask and cape.

I wanted to do a seventeenth-century getup this year, but finding or making the skirts and shift and bodice was just too difficult and time-consuming, even if I cheated and used department-store plaid flannel for the arisaid.

So...suggestions?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Project Night Night

Sweating with Sven is off to a slow start.  Guess I'm taking some of my "free" days of the challenge right out of the gate.  *sheepish grin*

Besides work kicking me in the @$$ like never before (and I thought it was bad enough previously!) I've been hard at work on a very worthy cause: I'm organizing a donation drive within my local playgroup - we're fairly large, almost 90 families - for Project Night Night.

PNN is a national program based in California that collects stuffed animals, books, and blankets and bundles them into tote bags to be donated to homeless shelters and given to kids that come through there.  They end up with warmth and comfort (in the form of blankies and lovies) and a book that encourages reading.

I'm very excited because lots of people in our group have "extra" stuffed animals and books, and more are pitching in to buy the blankies.  I think we'll have enough to split between the Salvation Army shelter for women and families and the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program shelter.  Then PNN will step in and continue to send them packages to meet their further needs, though we are welcome to continue to contribute.

But yeah, between that, work, and an indefinable exhaustion and general funk this week, it's been hard going.  Things are looking up, though.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Be the Hammer

I almost missed it, but check out Alec - I mean, Martin (looking an awful lot like Alec) in the new Cadillac commercial.

Thanks to DH for pointing that out to me the other night.

...Of course, it has to be Martin.  Alec can't drive.  He's somewhat afraid of (call it "morbidly fascinated with") automobiles.  *g,w*

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sweating with Sven...Again

Seventy Days of Sweat, Round 2
 
Today is the kickoff and I'm back to story wordage, even though I'm not done with my bios and timelines.  I'll keep working on those on the side.  I need between 750-1000 words a day to stay on top.  Since tonight is TV night with DH, I planned to get those words at work.
 
Ha.  After a three-day weekend?  No dice.  Too much to catch up on, AND Little Boy gets his flu shot this afternoon, AND one of the Four Mewses has an appointment for yearly vaccinations and we're taking one of the dogs along for his cortisone shot.  Many needle sticks in store today.  And THEN I need to get the grass seed down on all the huge dead patches of our yard before the scarce and blessed rain tomorrow. 
 
Total words managed this morning: about 170.  Hey, at least it's something.
 
Kicking off with a deficit is a less-than-auspicious beginning, but I'm confident I can make it up.
 
Watch for a challenge wordcounter, so I can see how many new words I write even as I begin to cut and revise.
 
A shout out to my fellow Forumites and Sweat participants, Precie and Deniz (you did sign up for round 2, right?), and then it's back into the fray for me.
 
Oh, and a friend from my BabyCenter birthclub has worked up some awesome cover drafts for me, to use in case I do enter the Amazon contest.  I'll try to get those up soon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Status update

I took the day off work today, paying myself back for working 12 hours - unpaid - on Saturday and until midnight Wednesday night.  We painted the spare bedroom a really nice denim blue during Little Boy's nap (he slept long, thankfully).  That room is going to be his "big boy" room when he moves out of his crib, and we're keeping the tiny nursery as, well, a nursery for when the next one comes along.  (At this point, we're not planning on starting that process until next year sometime.)

I'm back to my nightly B-I-C routine, warming up for the next round of Sven starting Monday.  I'm almost done with Alec's bio.  I've enjoyed doing it, and it prompted a few realizations about his motivation at a several key points that will help me with some of the remaining scenes.  Elspeth's up next, then my historical timeline, and hopefully by Monday I'll be back to story wordage and steaming on for the end.

Oh, and a published author in my subgenre has offered to read my MS when I'm done with it.  Woohoo!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What I've been up to

Still not a huge blogging presence from me, but work continues behind the scenes...
 
Right now I'm in a researching/planning phase before I hit the last major unwritten scenes (Glencoe, Elspeth's kidnapping, etc.).  I'm currently in the middle of a character bio for Alec, getting all my thoughts and decisions on him - family background, beliefs and tastes, what he thinks of Elspeth, and his reaction to present day when he gets here - down.  Then I'll do one for Elspeth.  I've done these for other minor characters, but let the MCs grow as I went.  Now I want to get it all down so that in rewrites I can smooth it over and make sure the characters are consistent and grow throughout the story.
 
I'm also going to hit the books hard for more historical detail as I come into the really historical scenes, namely Glencoe.  I have a "character/story events" timeline but I'm going to write out a historical events timeline for the 9 months Elspeth spends in 1691-92 so I can get the correct political nuances in and make references to the right characters and happenings.
 
Then it's back to the nitty-gritty and finishing up the SFD.  The static word counter over there is starting to bug me.  *g*
 
I've signed up for the "Seventy Days of Sweat: Round 2" to begin a week from today and run through January (allowing down time for the holidays) and my stated goal is to be done with the first draft and into rewrites by the end of the challenge.

Monday, October 01, 2007

*snort*

Y'all, seriously, I checked my "sitemeter" stats and someone actually found this blog by Googling "what do medical physicists do?"
 
Ahahaha.
 
I'm assuming it hit on my then-most-recent post, which was all the (bad) physics jokes.
 
Boy, did they not get exactly the info they were looking for.
 
Though they might have gotten a little unwanted insight into the mind of one particularly cheesy medical-physicist-cum-aspiring-romance-novelist...
 
Oh, and an actual writing update: 1700 words today and going strong, baby!  I am out of the rut!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jokes! And a contest!

One of the recent posts on Smart Bitches Trashy Books had me snorting liquid out my nose, or would have if I'd been drinking anything at the time.  Check it out:
 
 
I had to add my two cents in the comments, to the effect of a list of how physicists "do it":
 
Physicists do it a quantum at a time.
Physicists do it at the speed of light.
Cosmologists do it in the first three minutes.
Mathematical physicists understand the theory of how to do it, but have difficulty obtaining practical results.
Quantum physicists can either know how fast they do it, or where they do it, but not both.
Particle physicists do it energetically.
Particle physicists to it with charm.
Aerodynamicists do it in drag.
Astrophysicists do it with a Big Bang.
Astronomers do it all night.
Astronomers do it in clusters.
Astronomers do it on mountain tops.
Astronomers do it with white dwarfs and red giants.
 
(My favorites are the mathematical and quantum physics ones.) 

I added my own:
Medical physicists do it in fractions.
Medical physicists do it on the table.
Medical physicists do it with doctors, nurses, therapists, dosimetrists…

Ooh, more:

Medical physicists do it with Quality Assurance. 
Medical physicists do it with modulated intensity. 
Medical physicists do it theraputically.

Okay, enough.  Sorry.  Can you tell I'm working late and procrastinating?  *w*

So, the contest part!
 
Elspeth has a tattoo.  I haven't decided what it is yet - that's where the contest comes in.  She's a physicist, like me, so I was looking for some geektastically awesome science/physics-related tattoo.  Nothing too huge or elaborate.
 
Post or e-mail your ideas or pictures to me, and the winner gets their design featured in the book, a nod in my acknowledgements page, and a walk-on role for themselves.  Or...something like that.  *g*

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Writer MIA...again

My internet presence will continue to be spotty over the next few weeks/months.  A lot will depend on how much I get done (book-wise and IRL) and how quickly I do so.  I also really need to restrict my internet time, since blog-hopping and board-surfing consume a lot of what could be writing time. 
 
Of course, I'll continue to be reachable via e-mail and I'll surface for the October X over on Compuserve at the very least.  But I'm going to try to focus on being more efficient/productive at work and at home and on the book.  Hunkering down in my cave, if you will.  I'd like to be done by the end of October (since it's now looking like September was a complete wash) but it's hard to say.  If I really do have 40K more to write, that could take much longer.  By the end of the year at the very latest.  So much for the Golden Heart, but there's always next year.  *g*
 
TV night last night was fun.  Heroes was good (though I admit my penchant for spoilers cut down on some of the suspense for me) and we just almost watched the Journeyman pilot again (saw it twice OnDemand already).  Also caught the premier of "Chuck" which is a fun, nerdy kind of spy-comedy-adventure.  They had me on the reference to Zork.  *g*  It didn't make the DVR list, but if we're home in time we'll definitely have it on while we're waiting for Heroes.
 
Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's back to work I go...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dream a little dream...or two

Since this week at work is kicking my @$$ (did I mention the other physicist has been gone all week so I'm pulling double-duty, and then everything kind of hit the fan?) I haven't made much progress writing, though I have been researching like crazy and slowly bringing a few scenes to boil in the back of my mind.
 
Maybe as a testament to my exhaustion, for the past two nights I've had weird dreams.  And they both relate back to the book in some way.
 
Wednesday night I dreamt that I (and DH, too, at some point) was traveling through time.  More like in Journeyman than my book, because it was spontaneous and I went back and forth several times.  It was about 100-150 years or so into the past, and somewhere here in the States, some big city near hills or mountains.  I distinctly remember having my digital camera with me on the last trip, and I was glad because I wanted to take pics to prove everything.  Only the battery was dying, and I only got a couple shots.  Does that mean anything?
 
(For the record, Elspeth's camera and cell phone are zapped by an EMP-type effect while traveling through hyperspace.  So they're nonfunctional when she arrives in 1691.)
 
Last night's was a bit more exciting because it involved my book being published and selling (relatively) well.  It was either e-pubbed with print option or self-published, but it was doing well enough to get picked up by a big house.
 
Oh, I remember now, I had self-published because I said to DH (in the dream) how the first print run of something like 1600 copies had sold out (don't know how there were "print runs" on a POD book, but hey - it was a dream) and I'd since sold another 1600 copies or so, for a total of more than 3200 copies sold on a self-published book which is a pretty big deal.  I had hired someone to design the cover for me so it looked nice, and then I guess it got good word-of-mouth.
 
And then a big publisher picked it up and it earned out its advance and went into a second print run with them, too.
 
And then my blasted alarm clock went off.  *sigh*
 
Just thought I'd get that down.  I felt the need to post something, and I had about 5 glasses of caffienated soda with my sushi at lunch (mmmm...) so I am temporarily energized to type and *gasp!* I don't have anything to do at the mom-
 
Oh, blast.  Here when I thought I was caught up with work for the week, another load just got dumped.  I'll be so glad when he gets back next week.  Hi ho, hi ho...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That way lies madness

I cannot believe it is almost 5 am and I have been up all night working and reworking my query. It started off as just wanting to have a good blurb for the sidebar, and then I was in the groove, but the thing just kept getting longer instead of more concise, and then...it was 5 in the morning and I'm facing work on only 3 hours sleep (if I'm lucky) after two back-to-back 12 hour days and 3 more left in the week.

All for a book I may have 40K left to write on, and which I certainly won't be querying until next year in any case.

*sigh* Why do I do this to myself?

I love it when a plan comes together...

Based on my (very rudimentary) early research into surrounding clans, I had written in Alec's intended betrothed (no, that's not a redundancy) as one Janet Cameron, youngest daughter of Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, and in her mid-late teens at the time of my story. Most of this I pulled out of thin air - there was a later, famous Janet "Jenny" Cameron who (reportedly) led a branch of the Camerons in the '45 and so the name stuck with me. (Diana mentions her in Dragonfly, pg. 633 of the paperback.) The age was for convenience; younger than Elspeth, basically, and illustrating how early women were betrothed back then.

Tonight, being too restless to actually write, I thought I would look up Sir Ewan Cameron's children to see if I could swing that.

Check this out.

Ahaha! No birth year given, but if you click the link for her father Sir Ewan's listing you'll see she was the youngest of his daughters (by his first wife, at least). Her younger brother, the later Lochiel himself, is listed in one of my sources (Prebble's Glencoe: Story of the Massacre, I think) as being in his teens at the time. So that would make her probably not much older.

And I love how it says the contract for her marriage was signed in March 1696, etc. So maybe, if she were supposed to marry someone else in 1692 but they got themselves outlawed/condemned before the contract was formalized, and so that was dissolved and it took a little bit to arrange another marriage for her to Grant of Glenmoriston...

Sometimes stuff falls into place so neatly it kind of weirds me out. *g*

OTOH

While reviewing my swelling spreadsheet in order to organize my most recent fragments into some kind of chronology, I was struck by the number of significant bits I have yet to even think about/visualize, much less write.

I'm nowhere near done. *headdesk*

I think this thing is going to top 120-125K before all is said and done on the SFD. It will eventually get pared down to a nice, tight, less-than-100K MS but until then it means I'm not "almost" done or 4/5ths done, it's more like back to 2/3rds done and where I was two months ago.

So much for September. October? Eh, a girl can dream.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't Kill the Dog

Wow, I'm making up for my days off by giving you enough posts for all of them.
 
Anyway, Diana Peterfreund had a very interesting blog post today:  Don't Kill the Dog
 
The comment string is where it gets most interesting.  Seems most people genuinely don't like the death of animals in books, and several mentioned the death of a child as even worse.
 
The two comments I left are telling.  'Cause, well, there's a dead dog and a dead mother and child in my book.
 
From One Highland Night (c) 2007
 
The keening wail of a child brought his head back around, and his eyes found young Geordie huddled on the ground next to the body of a dog, its black and white fur stained red with blood.

"Oh, no…" Her voice was quiet behind him, full of sympathy.

"Geordie, lad," he said. "What has happened here?"

"They…they shot him!" Geordie wailed between sobs. "They shot Aodhair!"

"Who?"

"The…Campbell…bastards!"

He swore violently. The lad continued to greet, and he gripped his shoulders. "Are they still here, in the glen? Are they in the village? Tell me, lad, and quickly!" His voice was harsher than he meant, but he had to know. A hiss of indrawn breath behind him indicated the lass's disapproval.

"N-nae…I dinna think so." The boy looked down, stroking the top of the still head between the ears. "He was a good dog, was Aodhair. Why did they have to shoot him?"

He gentled his voice, despite the tension thrumming in his veins. "Because they are Campbells, and bastards as ye said, aye? I ken it doesna make it easier to bear, but ye must listen—listen to me now, lad. It isna safe here. There are Campbells to manage, and we need all the men we have back in Glenstrae to protect it, should they come again."

and

Frantically, she put her ear to the boy's chest, listened for a heartbeat, a gasp of breath. There was none.

"Oh no, no…"

A sound from the bed, a rustle as the woman turned to look at her. Bloodshot eyes found her own and bored into her with feverish intensity. She couldn't hide the truth from her face; her own shock was too new and too raw.

The woman turned her head away. She might have been crying, save Elspeth knew she was too dehydrated for tears. Still, the frail body shook quietly for a few moments, clutching the even smaller body of her son.

God, what do you say to someone who's just lost a child?

All she could think to do was place a comforting hand on the woman's and bow her head, let her have her grief. At length the bony shoulders stilled. Elspeth looked to the woman's face and was startled to see a wild, distant look in her eyes.

"Do you…do you want some water?" she asked, with some alarm.

Eyes now closed, the woman's head shook from side to side.

"We'll take you with us…back to Glenstrae. You can recover there."

The head shook more violently. The low, ragged voice, forced through a throat parched and raw, issued once more from cracked lips.

"[There is naught more for me here, naught for me to live for, now.]"

The woman spoke to her, directly, and this time she managed to make out some of it. A phrase, an explanation—nothing to live for.

No husband, no son. Had she loved her husband? Had the son been the only thing that bound her to this life, made her keep living after he was gone? Dying of a broken heart had always seemed so tragically romantic but now, as she faced the reality of it, she realized it was merely tragic.

So...am I in for it now?  Tragic, historic, worldbuilding detail or senseless deaths that will get me flamed by readers?

Journeyman

This is the new fall show I've been most excited about, and blogged about once before.  Lucky us, DH and I got to initiate our "Monday TV Night" a week early last night and watch the pilot ahead of time.
 
Our verdict: KEEPER!  We've already set up the "series record" on our DVR.
 
Kevin McKidd - previously seen as Lucius Vorenus on HBO's Rome, which DH and I loved - plays Dan Vasser, a San Fransisco reporter who suddenly begins travelling through time.  (And does an admirable job hiding his very Scottish natural accent while doing so, hehe.)
 
[Some spoilers ahead.] 
 
Dan's married, though the relationship is revealed to have had some rough patches, and they have a young son.  Over the course of the episode we learn that his present wife Katie was once the girlfriend of Dan's older brother Jack, and Dan himself was engaged to a lawyer named Livia.  But Livia died in a mysterious plane crash 9(?) years ago.
 
The time travelling is spontaneous, and at first Dan doesn't know what's going on.  It messes with both his home life and his job.  After his first few disappearances, some for as long as a couple days, Dan arrives home to find Katie has staged an "intervention" with his friends and coworkers.
 
When Dan travels, he keeps running into the same man - Neil Gaines - at different points, at first saving him from committing suicide.  As Dan continues to track Neil and alter further events in his life, he also runs into Livia, his former True Love.  There's a great twist involving her that has me screaming for more episodes.  And the way Dan finally convinces Katie that he's really time travelling and not crazy or on drugs was inspired.  Classic.
 
Seems I was on my mark with my initial reaction to the premise.  This was very Quantum Leap as far as the "higher force" directing him places to change lives/history, but without the overly cheesy "future" set up and the time machine.  It seems this show is set firmly in the present, picking up in late 2007 (I assume, since Dan has an iPhone - I have to say, the juxtaposition in 1987 of him wearing his Bluetooth headset and they guy with the MASSIVE cell phone was hilarious).  The elements of TTW are there with the sudden disappearances and how they affect his present-day.
 
After just the pilot, this has already moved up into my list of favorite shows, right behind Heroes.  How convenient (and brilliant) to slot it immediately after on the TV schedule.  Whether or not it targets the entire percieved "demo" of Heroes, you have to know how many Star Trek/Quantum Leap/etc. ('cause that's a big crossover) fans make up a large part of that market and will be drawn to this show.
 
US readers with digital cable should be able to find the pilot On Demand in the "Free Spot" under "NBC Fall Preview" through Sunday, September 23.  (It airs next Monday, the 24th.)  Thanks to Brooke for that tip-off.  Those with PCs or TiVo can download it via Amazon's Unbox through the same time window  HERE.
 
And this is, of course, tangentially related to my writing, since time-travel is involved.  Heehee.

The Bronze Horseman

by Paullina Simons
 
Rhonddalyn has been going on about this book on the Forum since at least March, and I finally got around to checking it out and reading it.  Now I see what the fuss was about.
 
My review:
 
TBH is set in WWII Russia, mainly Leningrad.  On the day Germany invades Russia, we meet Tatiana, who then meets Alexander, an officer in the Red Army.  The book is their love story, and how their relationship develops through the horrors of war (especially the blockade of Leningrad, and the starvation and deaths that followed) and despite Tatiana's family and Alexander's pretense of a relationship with her older sister Dasha.  Things are further complicated by Alexander's past and the selfish, treacherous Dmitri, who is out to use his leverage on Alexander to get whatever he wants - at first Tatiana, later...well, that's a bit of a spoiler.
 
Basically, it's all about war and how it affects love and family.  Lots of tangled threads.  Claire, you really ought to read it.  *w*
 
I won't elaborate on the plot points at length.  This is a Big Book, not by any means "light reading."  Suffice it to say that theirs is one of those great epic, tragic loves.  As you move towards the book's inevitable conclusion, the depth of their love is almost overwhelming.  I got misty-eyed a few times, and then sat in my office at work and had a good cry when I finished it.  It was like The Time-Traveller's Wife in that respect for me.
 
So, definitely recommended.
 
And that's why I got a bit of scene all-unplanned yesterday.  As I said in my last post, I don't often method write but this book and (SPOILER) Alexander and Tatiana's separation(s) hit close enough to the emotions I want people to feel when Alec and Elspeth face separation that I let it spill over.  This is the kind of bar I've set myself as far as emotional impact.  Can I clear it?  Sometimes I wonder.  It remains to be seen.
 
I was still reeling from the end of the book (SPOILER for all that Alexander's fate was somewhat open-ended, Tatiana at least thinks him dead) when I happily discovered via the discussion on Compuserve that there are TWO more sequels.  Tatiana & Alexander and The Summer Garden .  Epic love, indeed.  The third book seems to be hard to find, but I was very pleased to find all three available in hardback through Zooba.com (a great program, regardless) for only $9.95.  Bonus.

...and we're back!

I had a very relaxing weekend.  Caught up on sleep, spent time with family and friends, and did some stuff around the house.  Oh, and read (more on that later).
 
Friday night during bunco, the ladies at my table started asking me about the book.  Much hilarity ensued when I let slip that one of my scenes is currently titled "blue balls".  Ahaha.  These are mostly woman from my Sunday school class, mind.  But I did get a few of them to admit they read romance, and the way a few others were asking, I think they do (or want to) but aren't ready to admit it in public yet.  Heh.
 
Saturday I finally got the landscaping around my water garden under control, did my fall transplanting, and took down, fixed, and rebuilt the waterfall that flows into the pond.  Then we went out for a picnic with our Sunday school class (saw a lot of them this weekend!), and afterwards to our friends' house to watch the game.  Which really meant the women sat in the kitchen or playroom and chatted while the guys watched.  Fine with me; I'm not that into football.  But Kentucky won!  Who would've thought?
 
Sunday was church, and then DH's dad came up to spend the afternoon.  We've really got to be careful what we say around grandparents now.  Little Boy (he's not a baby anymore *sniff*) really enjoyed the MagnaDoodle at our friends' the previous day.  DH mentioned to me in the presence of his dad that we ought to think about getting LB one sometime soon, so he can practice writing with no mess.  Guess what FIL insisted on buying while we were out?  Yup.
 
Yesterday was *insanely* busy at work.  Oh, and I was finishing up The Bronze Horseman (look for a post on that shortly).  Even so, I managed to get about 800 words down in between things.  I was so emotionally caught up in TBH that I rode that wave of emotion into thinking how Elspeth would feel when she returns, something I hadn't let myself work on yet.  It's about as close to "method writing" as I get - sometimes strong emotions elicited in me from a book or movie or situation spill over into corresponding areas of my book.
 
This is a snip from just the bare bones of a scene, but it helped for me to get it down:

History books called to her, tormented her. They could ease her burden somewhat, tell her she had done the right thing, that he had lived a full and happy life...or they could tell her the opposite. Knowing would make it final. But not knowing was driving her insane.

Ultimately she looked, but she kept herself from looking too closely, still afraid of what she would see. She skimmed pages, letting names jump out at her, only half-reading the sections that followed. [...]

A few heart-stopping times, her eyes found the name Alasdair MacGregor--alternately Alistair or Alexander and McGregor, McGrigor, or MacGriogar--and she forced herself to read on. But it was always the story of his [great]grandfather, his namesake, and the betrayal by the Colquhouns and Campbells after the Battle of Glen Fruin. So she took a breath and kept reading.

Beyond that, little to nothing of the Glenstrae branch, save that chiefship of Clan Gregor had shifted to Glengyle in the early eighteenth century. After Andrew, perhaps? She hoped; despite not knowing him well, she genuinely liked Alec's brother. But what of the second son? History, it seemed, did not remember Alasdair Colin MacGregor of Glenstrae.

But she did.