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.


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.


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!)


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


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, 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*


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.