Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Fun Christmas Survey

I was tagged by Carol.  I tag: anyone reading this who hasn't done it.  *g*

Insert your own answers and pass it on to whomever you feel would respond – including the person who sent it to you

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper - I consider wrapping gifts an art form, and oddly-shaped packages a special challenge.

2. Real tree or Artificial? I grew up with a real cedar tree cut from my grandparents' farm every year, but these days it's a pre-lit artificial.

3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend after Thanksgiving, but this year we were a little delayed because of the Golden Heart deadline eating up ALL my free time.

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually New Year's Day.

5. What do you do with your tree after you take it down: Back in the bag, and out to the garage until next year.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A "Pound Purry" I named Love.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My husband's step-family that I barely know.

8. Easiest person to buy for? DH and Little Boy - I always know things they will love.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?  Several.  The main one in the front hall, LB's Fisher Price version, and a few small ones scattered around.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Usually mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  Anything that I have no use for and get no enjoyment out of.  Really, what's the point?  I'd rather get no gift at all than something completely useless to me.  Then the giver is out money, and I'm stuck forcing gratitude.  (Yes, this is directed at a particular person, who shall remain nameless.)  Here's the thing: I'm a gift person.  I take pride in picking gifts people will love.  But just in case, I always include a gift receipt so they can take it back and get something they really want if I miss the mark.  People who buy random stuff and "throw it at the wall to see if it will stick" because they don't take the time to get to know me and what I like get on my "gift person" nerves.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Siding with Carol here: It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually around November, but sometimes earlier if I find a good gift.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yeah.  (See #11 above - what else was I supposed to do?)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Bourbon Balls (recipe coming soon!) and Father-in-Law's Crispix party mix.

16. Lights on the tree? Lots of colored lights.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Carol of the Bells.  My favorite version is Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  Travel 2 hours to the in-laws' on Christmas Eve, at home Christmas morning, and to my extended family's get-together Christmas afternoon.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?  You mean you can't?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?  Right now an angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve: new pajamas.  Christmas morning: everything else.  (We do gift exchange with the in-laws before this, however, so we've been opening something.)

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?  That the stores put Christmas stuff out in freaking October.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?  I guess cats/kittens, by default.  (I'm kind of a "cat lady"...)  For many years now, my yearly ornament has been a cat.  I'll have enough to do an entire tree soon.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?  We don't really do Christmas dinner, but we have a big Christmas breakfast with cinnamon rolls and sausage and biscuits and gravy and eggs and toast and all that stuff.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? So far I've gotten 2 purses (I ordered them, so I knew in advance) and Trans-Siberian Orchestra tickets (saw them Friday: AWESOME concert) and I'd like some cologne and maybe some cash.  I wrote a list, but I forget what's on it!

Bookwormed!

I've been bookwormed!  By a few people by now, I think.  *g*  Anyway, I'm supposed to find the nearest book, open it to bage 56, and copy down the 5th sentence and the following 2-5 sentences.

Nearest book to my computer was When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James, which I finished a few days ago.  (Highly recommended!  It's moved from my TBRead pile to my TBReviewed.  Someday…)

Anyway, beginning with the 5th sentence on page 56:

He arrived in London the night before, woke up at dawn, and waited for the appropriate hour to pay a call on his wife.  It was all easy.

And nothing was easy.

For one thing he had to tell his wife, who already thought he was cracked, that their wedding had to be delayed.  Again.

That ended up a nice little teaser snippet.

Because this is fun, here's the book I'm actually reading right now – The Bride by Julie Garwood:

"Oh, all right.  I'll take him."  Turning back to Jamie, she muttered, "There, sister, are you happy now?  You've forced me to lie to a man of the cloth."

"I forced you?"

The gasp in Jamie's voice wasn't due entirely to her sister's outrageous comment.  Alec's hand had curved around the base of her neck.  His fingers were stroking her sensitive skin.

Another Alec!  And he's up to something, apparently…

Speaking of men named Alec, here's page 56 from my MS, One Highland Night by Rebecca Clarke.  (Yes!  You read it here first!):

"So you believe me now?"

"Aye.  I dinna want to, not really.  But I do." He crossed the narrow space and pulled a stool up next to the cot, laid the bag beside her with shaking hands.

She knew the contents, what he must have seen: the guidebook.  No wonder he was unnerved.  How would she feel if she read a book saying that within a hundred years from her present, the United States would be torn by war and its people conquered, their way of life changed forever?  To see pictures of places she knew in ruins?

Lesse…I think most everyone's been tagged by now, but if you're reading this and haven't been, consider yourself "it"!  *g*

Monday, December 01, 2008

*FANFARE*

Reporter: So, Jenny - you just finished a massive overhaul of your MS by deadline!  What are you gonna do now...?!?

Me:  Forget Disneyworld, I'm going to....SLEEP!!!


Actually, not yet.  I did just finish revisions, but I still have to get everything together to actually submit for the contest.  That means formatting the MS into a singular document (LSB keeps chapters in separate files) and burning it to a CD, pulling and printing 6 copies of my first 50 pages, and revising my working synopsis into something suitable to show people.  That, too, needs 6 printed copies.  Then it's off to the Post Office in the morning on my way to work.  Express Mail delivery is guaranteed by noon on Tuesday (deadline is 5 pm CST).

Then I have a full day of work, and my Scottish Country Dance class.  THEN I'll sleep.  *g*

In a bizarre twist, I guesstimated my wordcount at 95K on the Golden Heart entry form almost 3 months ago, before really starting revisions.  I would have been happy with anything between 95-99K, and made no specific attempt to cut it down to a certain length. 

Final wordcount?  95,098.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Add yours to the list!

Go to THIS BLOG and log-in your book purchases towards the "Buy a Book, Save the World" campaign.  Help us reach One Million!

And while you're at it, join the Facebook Group.

...now back to your regularly scheduled rewrites panic.  *g*

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'...

Through 26 and into the home stretch.  I just tied up the last (I think) of the new story arcs, so there shouldn't be much more new wordage to churn out.  The remaining six chapters (and epilogue) just need a clean-and-polish.  If I can finish that tonight--or rather, by the morning--I'll sleep for a few hours, go with DH to visit my MIL and pick up Little Boy and eat turkey dinner, round 4(!), then get everything formatted and printed and ready to ship tomorrow night.  Monday morning I'll hit the post office on my way to work, and then...we wait.

Finalists will be announced some time in the spring, and the winner at the national RWA conference in July.  It's in D.C. this year (2009) so that might be a fun trip.  Just trying to think positive.  *g*

Thanks to a tip from one of the lovely ladies in my local RWA chapter, I found this blog: Contest Divas.  It's a running list of all the (romance) contests out there and their upcoming deadlines.  I've already found another one to enter, and the judge of my category is a senior editor at Dorchester.  This one's for queries and pages.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

On more serious note, go read this moving post about "why write."  The bit about being exhausted from pushing through "that draft on deadline" and afraid the state of the publishing industry will make it impossible to sell when I'm done...yeah, I'm there.  But I keep writing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Big Push

Here we go...4 hours sleep and I'm back in the saddle.  Sorta.  Gotta run and take a shower soon, and put in my contacts (glasses make my eyes water if I'm on the computer very long) but then it will be like a marathon today.  I'm probably only gonna stop to eat, potty, and help DH get our outside Christmas decorations up before it gets frigid again.

Ten more chapters.  Good thing I have plenty of Mountain Dew and Snickers...

Revisions Update: Getting There

Two more chapters down and I am now two-thirds of the way through revisions.  Ten chapters left to go, and two days left to do them.

I'm up through Chapter Twenty-Two, the "money scene" - Alec and Elspeth's handfasting on the night before his execution.  Interestingly, this is Scene Zero, where I started writing the whole book.  All the rest of the plot has spun out from this scene.  Let's hope it goes over well with readers.  *g*

I'm going to go grab a few hours of sleep, then get up and try to knock out a majority of the remaining material.  There will be some new wordage, though, and resolutions to a few plot changes, so I hope that doesn't slow me down too much.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Revisions Update: Thanksgiving

Tuesday I didn't get much done, because I fell asleep waiting for DH to get home from Boston (there was a minor snafu in his travel plans, but it was relatively easy to resolve) and then went on to bed with him rather than stay up writing.  Wednesday I was back at work, and settled in late last night for what I planned as an all-nighter, to make up for Tuesday's lack of progress.

I was fairly successful!  Chapters seventeen through twenty are revised and edited, and seventeen lacks only a couple of short scenes I just couldn't visualize last night and will work on today (hard copy) while eating turkey and pumpkin pie at three separate (!) Thanksgiving dinners.  Betas will get the lot of them as soon as I finish seventeen, and then it's on to twenty-one.

Since we last saw them, E & A have argued over intervening in another clan's affairs, Elspth leaves for Glencoe on her own and falls in a loch, Alec follows and rescues her, and the two try to prevent the massacre at Glencoe, where Alec is captured by Breadalbane.  We leave our intrepid hero in the cell at Kilchurn, bruised, weary, and sentenced to death.  Elspeth is in Glenstrae, and just learned the news.  She and Hugh set out to rescue him. 

Twelve chapters left, and 4 days.  That's 3 chapters a day over a long weekend.  I think I might pull this off...

Announcer: Will she succeed before she hits the wall of exhaustion?  Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Revisions Update: Two for One Night

Despite Little Boy's refusal to nap this afternoon and my own exhaustion, I managed to knock out two more chapters today, thus proving that this crazy, mixed up, middle-of-the-night routine is working for me.

After finishing the first scene in 15 this morning while LB was at preschool, I didn't get a chance to work again until he was in bed.  I dozed for a few hours, then perked myself up with caffeine and Superchic[k] and set to the computer...whereupon I promptly decided to cut and completely rewrite that completed first scene.  Instead of Alec's aunt Catriona (sorry, Cathy - but she still gets a cameo later!) Elspeth runs into Hugh immediately after the announcement of Alec's betrothal.  Then Hugh goes to Alec, and the two discuss what do to about her.  Hugh offers to marry her, but Alec can't stomach the idea, and puts off the decision.  Later he can't sleep, and goes to find Elspeth (who also can't sleep) and the two have the discussion I wasn't sure about leaving in, but reworked to my satisfaction.

Sixteen blitzes through about 3 months, hitting the highlights: Janet's arrival in Glenstrae and the little incidents that start up against Elspeth again; the proclamation that all chiefs must sign a treaty with William, and the power struggle that ensues when Elspeth tells Red Malcolm he must do it;  Elspeth convincing Alec to warn Glencoe via a letter to Alec's cousin Sarah, MacIain's daughter-in-law; Christmas/Hogmanay; and the reciept of a letter from Sarah reassuring them everything is fine, MacIain signed the treaty.

Only it isn't fine; he still did things the way Elspeth remembers, and therefore the massacre will happen.  Going into 17 tomorrow, I have to write Elspeth and Alec getting into an argument over whether or not someone should go in person to warn the MacDonalds, Janet confronting Alec about his continued "flaunting" of his "mistress", and Elspeth's tearful decision to leave Glenstrae and warn Glencoe herself.

Randomly: I am ridiculously excited about my new purses, even though I won't carry one of them until next spring.  When did I become a girly-girl?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revisions Update: The Wee Hours

Out of Fourteen and into Fifteen!  I'd hoped to be farther along than this by now, but it bears pointing out that these are the chapters formally known as "Sixteen" and "Seventeen" - through revision, reordering, and general tightening, I've lost two.  There are 32 plus the epilogue at the moment, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that drop to 30 or so by the time all is said and done.

Amazing how right now I think nothing of pulling thousands of words - what might have been a week or month's worth of work.  But I'm shooting for around the 95K mark, still a more than respectable wordcount, and that leaves me the luxury of cutting nonessentials.

Chapter Thirteen took a lot of work and most of the day, as cutting the measles scene meant reworking the entire end of that chapter and adding in a whole new section wherein Alec takes a beating for his "careless" rescue of Elspeth from Ormelie at Kilchurn.  Fourteen is Andrew's wedding and the following ceilidh...where we learn just how good Alec is with his fingers (he's a fiddle player, you perverts! *w*) and the result of his father's ultimatum.

I wanted to get through Fifteen tonight, but I really need to take a step back and decide how to handle the next part of the story.  Elspeth's just found out about Alec's betrothal to Janet Cameron.  Fifteen as it stands is her initial reaction (likely to stay) and then a long heart-to-heart between her and Alec that I'm just not sure about.  I need to add in a conversation (blocked out but not fully written) between Alec and Hugh about what to do with Elspeth once Alec's married, and bring Janet to the Tigh Mor as an actual secondary character.

In other (slightly) related news, I am apparently becoming nocturnal.  I seem to have developed a penchant for Diana's writing pattern: doze off for a bit in the evening, wake up late while everyone else is asleep to write, then crawl in bed for another few hours before morning.  The past few days, my best work has been done between midnight and 4 am, and despite spending all day at the computer, nothing compares to these hours for productivity.  Unfortunately, I don't have Diana's (hard earned!) luxury of sleeping in - I usually have to be at work by 8 am, and even though I'm taking off tomorrow and Tuesday while DH is away, Little Boy still has to get to preschool.

In other other (completely unrelated) news, I broke down and bought the second purse.  Merry Christmas to me.  *g*

Finally - if you're just that desperate to see what I'm up to at any given point, come join me on Twitter.  Yes, I gave in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What to do, what to do...

I have been staring at my computer for hours, making very little headway, because I am trying to decide what to do about a scene.  Should I cut it entirely, revise it significantly, or let it stand?

The scene in the SFD involves Alec and Elspeth on their way home from Kilchurn.  Alec has just rescued Elspeth from Ormelie, who kidnapped her.  On their way back to Glenstrae, they pass a croft in which a mother and young child have contracted the measles, and are dying of it.  The child is actually already dead, and once the mother knows this, she gives up and lets herself die as well.

SPOILERS BELOW

The purpose of this scene was to show Elspeth's reaction to an (unfortunately) common condition in that time period, and set up the absolute certainty that she would not take her own young child back to this dangerous time.  Therefore Alec, who comes forward with the intent to find Elspeth and take her back with him, realizes she will not come once he knows she has a child.  And he must decide whether or not to stay with her if that means up giving up everything he's ever known - time, family, etc.

END SPOILERS

In my rewrite notes, I also intended to use this scene to play up Elspeth's backstory, and reveal how she feels both her parents abandoned her - her mother by dying unexpectedly of breast cancer, and her father by running out on the family shortly after her mother's diagnosis.  This on top of her fiance's abandonment just months before their wedding.  And her realization that Alec alone has not abandoned her, in fact he has made a habit of coming back for her.  This is the turning point in her attraction to him, and henceforward her internal conflict comes from the (supposedly) unrequited love instead of her angst over these abandonments and her difficulty trusting because of it.

But THIS POST on the Smart Bitches blog, along with nagging doubts about the scene, got me thinking.  Do I really need it?

The current state of revisions has already trickled out quite a bit of Elspeth's backstory.  And in fact, the chapter prior to this one has Elspeth's realization about Alec, though to a lesser degree than I planned for the measles scene.  I don't think I'm using the child's death as a cheap dramatic trick; more like trying to be true to my period and acknowledge the nitty gritty reality of living in the seventeenth century, while at the same time achieving the plot purposes above.

OTOH, this IS a romance novel, and while Diana's readers (myself included) appreciate her hard-bitten reality and absolute allegiance to the history, Diana does not write romance.  Romance readers (myself included) often are looking for lighter, happier reads.  Which is not to say we don't appreaciate a story with depth and tragedy.  I love love loved The Time Traveler's Wife.  But a lot of romances, espcially the escapist types with fantastical elements, tend to gloss over some of the darker aspects of the story world.  And let's face it - most of the Scottish time travels in print right now are pretty glossy.

Which is also not to say I'm trying to "dumb down" my book to appeal to the masses.  I'm just trying to take a critical look at a scene and decide if I really need it or can accomplish my goals without it, if it fits in with the overall tone of the rest of the book, and if I was secretly trying to "push the envelope" with the scene, but may in fact end up alienating - or at least disengaging - a large segment of potential readers by leaving it in.  I don't think readers who wouldn't've minded the scene will notice its absence, while readers who hate scenes like this will most certainly notice its inclusion.

That said, I think I've talked myself into cutting it.  For now.  I never throw any scenes away, so if betas or an agent or an editor clambor for it, I can dust it off and slip it right back in.

Well, then.  Back to the drawing (writing) board.  I'm working in chapters 14 and 15 right now.  Elspeth has just been rescued by Alec, as I said.  New stuff is coming up in that Alec will be taken to task by his father for jeopardizing himself and the clan for a strange coigreach lass, and Alec's betrothal to Janet Cameron will be brought forward into more prominence as a result.  Alec's father's way of making him get his priorities straight.

As for me, I've been holed up in my "writing office" (read: guest room) since last evening, and it's starting to look like it.  From this afternoon alone, I cound 3 empty Diet Mt. Dew cans and one dirty coffee mug, plus a handful of candy wrappers littering my desktop.  And yet I've actually been losing weight.  Must be the stress...  I know I blame the book for the sudden profusion of gray hairs on my head.

My other dilemma is completely materialistic.  I have become quite the Coach purse junkie, and there are two particular styles I have wanted for some time - one since this time last year, and one since this summer.  I am already getting one of them for Christmas, and now I am trying to justify the other one, too, to round out my collection.  How to pay for it?  Or should I just wait?  *think, think*

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Character Lookalikes/Casting

Since Jen and Nina posted pics of people they wanted to play their characters, I thought I'd join in.

Of course, I KNOW what my characters look like--that's them over there in the right sidebar.  Click the pic for a bigger version.

But who would play them in the movie version?  (Hey, a girl can dream!)

Alec would absolutely be played by Martin Henderson, of course.

As for Elspeth...I kinda like this chick (Carrie Locklyn).  What do you guys think?  I'm terrible at finding pictures of actors/actresses to sort through.

Revisions Update: Hoping to Catch Up

Last night I let myself doze after Little Boy went to bed, in order to recharge my batteries after averaging only 3-4 hours of sleep per night this week.  DH was supposed to wake me up so I could write, but he only tried a few times (I did warn him to keep at me) and so I peeled myself off the loveseat at 2 am and crawled in bed.  By consequence, I was much refreshed today.  *g*

Now DH is in Boston for the Society of Biblical Literature conference (yup, I married a Bible Scholar) and my mom has come up for the weekend to watch LB while I practice my reclusive author imitation.  As of right now, I'm done through Chapter 12, of 34.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revisions Update: Chapter Eleven

I actually got less sleep last night than I did Sunday night into Monday. And yet I was in a much better mood today, more alert, and more productive. The difference? Momentum.

Sunday night I'd worked all weekend on the same chapter. MASSIVELY rewriting said chapter, but still. Last night I got through three, and finally felt like I was making real progress.

Today I only got through one - Chapter Eleven - but that's my general goal for a workday. Let's hope I can keep the momentum going and get Twelve done tomorrow.

Oh, and here's a fun LOLcat. Elspeth can relate:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Revisions Update: Double Digits!

Rewriting the front end of the MS has taken a lot more time than I expected.  Nevertheless, today I at last broke into double digits on my chapters.  And based on wordcount, I'm about a third of the way through the book as a whole.  We're up to Elspeth's kidnapping, which opens Act II.

I've got to get through this week, and then my mom will be staying with me and watching Little Boy this weekend while DH is at a conference in Boston.  I MUST make serious progress then.

For now, I'll catch a couple hours of sleep, then it's lather, rinse, repeat.  *g*

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Argh

I just lost the past, oh, hour and a half's worth of revisions when LSB froze up.  I thought I had set it to auto-save, but apparently that feature got turned off last time I updated the software.

*headdesk*

Revisions Update: Chapter 7 down

Chapter 7 had a lot of restructuring, and I rewrote over half of it from scratch.  But now it's in the hands of betas and I'm on to chapter 8.  Yesterday I was too brain fried to write, but I did manage to plan out the order of scenes and what new stuff I needed in 8 and 9, so hopefully it will clip along.

Today I'm also attending my first meeting of the Ky. Romance Writers as a full member.  We have lunch beforehand to socialize; I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.  Then it's back in my writing office (guest room) and holed up here for the rest of the day working on revisions.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Revisions Update

I have finished revising up through Chapter Six, and now I'm for bed.  Some last-minute research and a brief stint of panic while it appeared my data stick had corrupted slowed me down a bit, otherwise I would have been asleep much sooner!  I also did some rearranging in chapters 7-12, actually cutting some stuff and consolidating 10 and 11 into one chapter.  So I only have 5 more to get through by tomorrow to meet my goal, but that's still a tall order.

Looks like I'll have to do another assignment for the Circle.

In my defense, I've probably written several thousand new words (it's hard to keep track since I'm replacing stuff as I go, and my word counts aren't changing that much).  And I'm spending every waking minute of free time on this: lunch breaks, evenings, weekends into the wee hours.  So it's not like I'm slacking off, I've just underestimated the amount of time it will take me to get through a certain number of chapters.

The good news is, most of the MAJOR changes I'm making occur in the opening act.  So if I can get through this, a lot of the later material will just need an edit for language/style, but not massive redrafting.  I hope.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On Deadline

...in more ways than one.

The biggest is, of course, the submission deadline for the Golden Heart, looming ever closer on December 2nd.  I must finish revisions in time to send the full MS, along with partials and synopses for the first-round judging.

The one I'm under right now is for my accountability circle.  To stay on track for the GH, my posted goal to have revised chapters 1-12 by next Monday (gulp!).  I'm already under penalty for missing my goals last week - look for an update on my task later - and can't afford to miss this one.

Last night I had good intentions, but I've been so sleep-deprived I ended up crashing hard on the couch around 9 pm, and not waking until 12:30, when I stumbled upstairs to bed.  Though I *did* get a few pages of hard copy worked on while standing in line for 3 hours (yes, my precinct was one of the ones with issues!) to vote.

[Aside: congratulations to President-Elect Obama.  I may not agree with all of his stances and policies, but I genuinely think he's a good man, and I am proud that our country was able to look beyond race and elect him.  It's a huge and wonderful turning point.  Good luck to him in all that he now faces.]

Today was a good day.  I successfully spent my lunch hour holed up in my office writing.  And Little Boy went down with minimal fuss tonight, allowing me to get on the computer relatively early (after taking care of a few things around the house).

I finished-finished Chapter One (it seems I can never stop tweaking the opening, but No More).  I added a new 500-word scene to the beginning of Chapter Two, wherein we meet Alec for the first time and get a taste of his position in the clan and the undercurrent of conflict between him and Andrew (it also foreshadows that he will be in Dalmally when Elspeth shows up there).  And I went over most of the rest of Chapter Two, which had been mainly revised during my two-week vacation last month.  All that remains there is to rework the last scene to fit my new plan for Elspeth's escape, and then on to Chapter Three, where I need to rewrite Elspeth's escape, and get her to the kirk on time.  *g*

I am pondering removing the fight scene between Elspeth and the three drunk Campbells.  We see her MMAS (Mad Martial Arts Skillz) in Chapter One now, so the fact that she's a black belt is already out there.  Three men seems a bit much.  I almost think it will work better if only one follows her - the one who will develop a grudge later - and she takes him out before turning on Alec when he shows up.  Hmmm...  *think, think*

For now, to bed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Look, Updates, & Some Fun Links

I took some time on my last "free" day at the library (Saturday) and updated the blog a bit.  Nothing major, but you'll notice a few new things in the sidebars, and some things have been moved around. 

I added the "Follow" widget over there on the left, just above the archives, so if you're a regular reader, please click "Follow This Blog" so I know you're there!  If you have a blog and I haven't linked to you yet, that will help remind me to do so.  *g*

Also, the status bars are back near the top of the page.  The new one - "Rewrites" - will track my progress as I move through the MS.  Look for a post specific to that in the near future, but for now the simple explanation is:

I'm going chapter-by-chapter through the MS, revising according to my new ubersynopsis.  Some chapters just require editing, some require extensive rewrites, and some require something in-between.  As I finish EACH CHAPTER the final wordcount for that chapter will be added to my Rewrites status bar.  Right now it's at just over 5K; that represents chapters 1 & 2.

Right now my goal is 2 chapters per night.  We'll see if I can keep that up.  (Hooray for caffeine pills!)

I should be aided in my progress by Jen's creation of an accountability circle.  Thanks, Jen!

Another cool link I found on Kait's blog, thanks to her comment here: Crit Partner Match

Remember my Scottish Country Dance partner, Jodi?  She's also going to help me make a period-authentic (or as close as we can get) costume like Elspeth would have worn in the seventeenth century.  Probably not in time for Halloween, not with me so wrapped up in rewrites, but you never know.  I promise to post pics.  Here are some of the links from whence I got my info:
http://www.marariley.net/celtic/scotland.htm
http://medievalscotland.org/clothing/scotwomen.shtml
http://www.costumes.org/history/100pages/17thlinks.htm
http://www.12eyes.co.uk/stays/stays.htm
https://www.reconstructinghistory.com/patterns.php?c=22&d=36&w=24&r=Y

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rewrites: Phase One - Update

8 working days.  7000 words written.  Also quite a few hours spent researching and firming up details, and one evening spent learning Scottish Country Dance (see post below).

I'm not where I wanted to be at this point, but when I put it that way, it still sounds pretty respectab(igg)le!

The 7K was not, unfortunately, story wordage.  But!  I'm glad I wrote it.  I'm still in the "organization" phase of rewrites, the one that establishes the foundation for all my future work.  It's good to have a solid foundation, right?  I think I do, now.

I started off trying to hand-draw a timeline, on which I was going to plot all the major events in the book, and get a nice visual on plot arcs and such.  Unfortunately for me, señora perfectionista over here, I got roadblocked by my absolute necessity to have all the spacing between every event to scale.  That's the point at which I started in on my "revisions synopsis" aka ubersynopsis, phase II.

And it has been a wonderful process.  Everythings laid out nice and neat in summary, with one paragraph per chapter.  I can see at a glance the progression of the story.  I made some decisions about plot changes and wrote those in, and now I can just find the appropriate chapter to add them back to the MS.  It's taken me days, but now I have a clear plan on exactly how to attack this.  Betas should be finding it in their inboxes by this evening, for comment before I really get to the meat of the changes.

Another cool thing I plan to do with it is steal the "storyboarding" (heh, is that a form of torture for writers?) ideas of some others - basically, the color-coding - and go through each paragraph and highlight various events with colors relating to subplots, again so I can have a nice visual of the overall shape and distribution of the story.

In addition to the 6K of ubersynopsis-II, I wrote another 1000 words on the character arc that Elspeth follows.  Through discussion with my fellow workshoppers, I decided that a major character change in her (over the course of the novel) would be her ability to trust.  Her father left the family when her mother was diagnosed with cancer the first time.  Then her mother hid the cancer's recurrence from her and died unexpectedly.  Finally, her fiance cheated on her with her best friend.  Difficulty trusting?  Probably.  SO we at first see her resistant to trusting anyone, even Alec.  But he's all the help she's got, and of course with him being the honorable type she eventually learns to trust him and makes peace with the other people in her past.  Then the universe lets all hell break loose on her and the man she's come to trust and love is captured and sentenced to death...  I'll be sending that out to betas for their opinions as well.

SO.  Where does that leave me?  Getting ready for actual rewrites.  I did a very awesome thing and took my MS to Kinko's (now "FedEx Office" blah) and had it printed up: double-spaced, double-sided, and spiral bound.  It was not cheap.  But sometimes I need to see the physical page to revise things.  (Just wait until my post on revising my first chapter for the workshop - you'll see what I do to hard copy!)  I can't make all my revisions on the page and then transfer to the computer; it would take too much time.  But this way I have a hard copy that I can flip through and annotate, and "see" what I want to do on the page while doing it on the computer.  I will also admit, being the first time I have ever seen the entire MS printed, and being in roughly book form, it gave me a little thrill!  Like, holy crap, I wrote a whole novel, didn't I?  *g*

LSB gives my current MS word count as 99K.  So I have brought it down to under 100K.  And I tend to be a "pruner": as I revise, things will get a lot tighter.  Yes, there is new wordage to be written, but as I do so there will also be a lot coming out.  I think my estimate of 95-99K will be right on the money by the time all is said and done.

Alec's pistol

And I do mean Alec's.  *g*

HERE is the link to the page on the National Museum of Scotland website.  It is a Doune pistol made by Thomas Caddell (the First) in 1678.

Alec was 15 in 1678.  His father bought the pistols for his birthday, to signify his status as a man of the clan.  When he arrives in modern day, he sells them - Doune pistols are very rare collectors' items, quite literally worth their weight in gold.  (And they're made of iron, so pretty heavy.)  Needless to say, he's astounded at the price and has quite enough to finance himself for a while in his quest to find Elspeth.  Too bad fake government documents are so expensive on the black market...

I maintain that the pistol above is one of the pistols Alec sold, and it somehow made its way from the antiques shop to the National Museum collection.  *g*


Tidbits

My computer is filthy.  It's something you don't recognize at home, but since I've had it out and about the past week or so, the smudge on the screen, the crumbs and cat hair in/around the keys, and the dried splashes of milk (I sometimes work at the breakfast table, near where Little Boy sits) are all glaringly obvious.  Yet I keep forgetting to clean it.

I spent the better part of Tuesday afternoon backing up my data stick, trying to error-check and defrag it, then repeating the process when the defrag locked up, all so I could install the most recent version of Liquid Story Binder.  I was eventually successful.  And then they released another, newer version yesterday.  *headdesk*

Speaking of yesterday, I was working in the library (I've got a "spot" back here in reference) when I caught a guy fondling himself.  And not just through his clothes.  Yeah.  So I told the libarians, the police were called, I had to give a statement...it was craziness.  DH insisted on driving out here and escorting me home.

In more positive news, I'm loving my new dance shoes.  They're soft-soled leather ballet pumps I bought to wear to my dance class, and I was breaking them in around the house last night.  Very comfortable.  What dance class, you ask?  Why, the beginner's Scottish Country Dance class my good friend Jodi (*waves*) and I are attending on Monday nights for the next two months.  We spent Monday working on some of the basic steps, but we did a fairly complicated jig by the end of the night.  One of our instructors (they're RSCDS certified, so this is "official"!) told me I must have danced before.  Nope, just color guard, but I did preen a little at the compliment.  *g*

Our new bedroom suite ROCKS.  This is the first time in, well, ever that I've owned a bed and mattress that weren't hand-me-down.  We spared no expense (hooray, zero-intrest financing!) and it was SO. Worth. It.  Even if I'm not sleeping more than usual, I'm sleeping much better.  Pillow-topped bliss, even if we had to special-order all our sheets and stuff (California King is hard to find in stores!).  Also, it's nice to have an actual nightstand with, like, drawers and stuff that won't wobble and topple if the cats jump up on it.

Today is the first day in over a month that the weather is acting its season.  We've been having mid-70's-lower-80's weather that was sunny and dry...fine for September (or my preference in general) but today it's misty and cool at 65, much more like mid-October should be.

Having regular internet access again while I'm off has been a blessing and a curse.  I'm reverting to my old habits of looking up anything I want to, any time, and it's somewhat distracting.  On that note, I'd better get back to work.  I only have 1 more day after today (2 if I come here Saturday) and I'm way behind of my goals.  Look for a post about my progress later today.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rewrites: Phase One

Still at it. Work on the second ubersynopsis (revised edition) continues. Yes, it is a BEAUTIFUL Saturday afternoon and I am back in the library. But that's okay. I hope to finish the synopsis and the timeline by tonight. Then I will begin pulling stuff out of the SFD to make room for changes, and possibly inserting stuff if a scene starts to form. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, YIPE!:

http://www.maassagency.com/thismonth.html

I'm seriously debating going ahead and querying, based on that. I mean, the book IS done, and revisions on the full would be ready by the time they'd get around to asking for it, most likely.

Hmmm... *think, think*

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rewrites: Phase One - Organization and Structure

There's a lot to do is this round, and we spent 3 weeks (as opposed to the usual 2) on it during the workshop.  Even then I barely touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the organizing I need to do.  I wouldn't be surprised if I spend the next couple of days on it, even going full-tilt.  But that's okay, because it should make everything else that much smoother.

So, this session - as you may have guessed - looks at the overall shape of the novel, the main plot arc and any sub arcs, and calls for making any large-scale changes needed before individual chapters/scenes are fine-tuned.

One of our assignments was to post our first and last scenes, and look for symmetry there, and the ending's resolution hopefully relating to questions raised in the first chapter.

I posted my first chapter (E goes to Kilchurn), and my epilogue (A & E's modern wedding).  Even though they both needed work, I was pleased to see that - even more than I realized - the two "chords" were very much in tune.  When we meet Elspeth in Chapter One, she's in Scotland by herself on what should have been her wedding day.  I try to raise the question of why she's alone and what happened to break off her wedding.  Also the underlying question: WILL she ever marry?  Of course, the closing scene is her (second) wedding to Alec, on the same date but a few years later.  And I can see now that even some of E's other issues in C.1 have been resolved by the Epilogue.  So woo for that.  *g*

Today I spent most of my day working on a timeline for the second draft.  The main meat of the story is the same, but there are some changes that I think will really take it to the "Next Level" and I need to see where they fall.  Also I want the visual to be able to connect subplot arcs and make sure everything wraps up in a consistent way.

When I stalled on that, I decided the way I brainstorm best is just to "say" it - either by talking to someone (usually DH, or whichever innocent bystander is around when I get an idea), or chatting, or blogging, or just writing/typing it out.  So I thought I'd start from scratch and write a rough synopsis of the second draft, incorporating the changes as I went.  If I let it "flow" then all the organizational stuff should sort itself out as I go.

When that's done (hopefully tomorrow) I'll plot it out on the timeline and connect the arcs as planned.  Then I'll be able to see what sections of the MS need to be cut/replaced, which need to be moved around, where to insert lines or tidbits to tie in the new stuff, etc.

Liquid Story Binder has plotting/timelining features that I hope to get set up someday and would probably help with all this, but for now it's easier (for me) to do it longhand and have a physical visual.  I still do all my writing in LSB - love it.

For now, to bed.  Hopefully the last night on our old bed/mattress - our new bedroom suite is supposed to be delivered tomorrow!

Getting into the groove

I've settled into the nearest branch of our local library to work, and I'll probably be found here for most of my remaining time off.  They've got nice tables with outlets for hooking up laptops, and wifi.  Also there's something about the quiet atmosphere and being surrounded by the sight (and smell) of thousands of books that aids in my concentration.

Only problem is, they don't open until 9:30 and I drop Little Boy off at preschool between 8-8:30 so I need somewhere to go for about an hour.  I think I'll hit the Starbucks near his school for something warm to eat/drink and e-mail time and then come here to get down to business.  Given that I've spent most of the morning futzing around online (backlash for being internet-deprived all summer) that will help me stay focused, I think.

I'm really getting into things as of today.  I've not said as much as I meant to about it, but Barbara Rogan - fellow Forumite (though I've been largely absentee lately), author, former literary agent and editor - offers an intensive online revisions workshop called the Next Level Workshop.  I had the pleasure and the luck to participate this summer.  It sucked up most of my "free" time, and I still have much to do on the MS itself, but the things I've learned and the decisions I've reached have been invaluable.  I'm gonna start a series of blog posts as I work through her recommended 8 "sessions" of revision.

The first one is organization and structure, and I'm starting on that today.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The kickoff

Well, yesterday was a wash due to some other commitments, but today I've settled in to a very quaint internet cafe - just down the road from my office, actually - and I'm spending the morning catching up on teh interwebs before launching Jenny's Massive Revisions Push.  The web surfing is due in part to leaving my all-important USB data stick at home in my rush to get Little Boy to preschool, but DH is oh-so-kindly bringing it to me in about an hour when he ventures forth.

Until I have something more substantive to report, here's a good link to writing advice:

How to Write Fiction

I'll check back in this afternoon.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ramping Up

Again with the radio silence, I know, but all that's about to change.  I did the unthinkable and took 2 whole weeks off work to really push forward with revisions for OHN.  (I had about 5 weeks of vacation time saved up, so they kind of owed it to me!)  I do work this Saturday, and I've got stuff going on this weekend, but from about October 6 until October 19, it's "all revisions, all the time".

The revisions workshop [link] I've been participating in is wrapping up this week, and though I meant to blog my progress through it, obviously I haven't had time.  So as I move through each of those stages during this big marathon push I'll try to get a post in about what I'm doing.

The "big" goal of the next two weeks is pretty straightforward: a Second Draft.  This will be the draft that incorporates the plot changes and such I've planned based on a few readers' comments and the workshop.  When the HNCSD (Hopefully Not Crappy Second Draft) is done, it will go out to betas for comment while I work through some final polishing.

Beginning Monday, I will drop Little Boy off at school as per usual routine, and then take myself and my laptop off to Panera Bread, or Starbucks, or the local library (if they've got wifi) and "work" my normal hours.  Home in the evenings for dinner and LB's bedtime, then likely back on the computer for a bit in the evenings.  But I need sleep too, or I'll fold in on myself and be useless, and I can't afford to waste this opportunity.

The Plan:

  1. Finish slashing-and-burning the SFD (most of Act 4; about 8 chapters)
  2. Organizational Session (new plot and character arcs, timeline the book so I can visualize everything and where the new material goes)
  3. More s-and-b (if necessary) based on the new outline
  4. Draft new material to fill in gaps/make changes
  5. Begin series of edits: character/POV, dialogue, IM, description, language & style, etc. (most of these on a scene-by-scene basis, and combined; this will be the majority of the time spent, as I – currently – have 35 chapters with an average of 4 scenes per)

If I don't get done in the two weeks I'll at least be *mostly* done, and rolling with some serious momentum.  Then I'll shoot for the end of October to have the HNCSD in the hands of betas.  That will give me about a month to make any final tweaks based on their comments and get it ready for submission.

I've decided I WILL submit, no matter what.  If I don't send anything, I disqualify myself from the competition and forfeit my entry fee.  If I submit – something, anything – who knows?  Maybe it will still be good enough.  If not, and I don't final or win, well…I'm still out the entry fee but I can try again next year with the same (presumably improved) MS, providing I don't publish in the meantime.  Honestly, I'd be okay with that eventuality.  *g*

In other words, I don't really have anything to lose by submitting, and possibly everything to gain.  But I still HOPE it will be ready and in tip-top shape, and I PLAN to make that happen.  We'll see.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The results are in...

...AND I PASSED!!! The ABR exam I took back in August, that is.

Whew, what a relief. It only took:

Just under 48 hours of studying, 6 24 oz. bottles of Diet Mountain Dew, 2 (or was that 3?) caffeine pills, and 1 all-nighter to pass 4 hours of exam on only 1 hour of sleep.

Oy.

Next up - the oral boards in May. God have mercy on my soul...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

*gulp*

It is done.

By fortuitous circumstance, I received my RWA confirmation e-mail this afternoon, and was able to access my online account.

As of about 10 minutes ago, my entry into the 2009 Golden Heart contest has been accepted in the category of Paranormal Romance.

I did pick a pen name, and I have registered the domain (.net, because the .com was freaking expensive, but lots of people use .net so I'm okay with it).  To be revealed soon, once I get a few more details ironed out.

Now...wish me luck!  I'm gonna need it, not least of which to get these revisions completed.  *gulp*

Decisions, decisions...

So, I was all set to enter the Golden Heart yesterday, as soon as it opened.  But when I printed the form, I realized it wanted a lot of info I thought I had time to decide.

They want a word count, which is still in flux, but I'm gonna estimate my end goal and give them that.  (I mean, they probably just want to make sure it's long enough but not TOO long, which will definitely be the case.)

They also want the pseudonym the work is written under.  That's the big thing.  "Rebecca Gabriel" is out, for a couple of reasons.  One being the real RG who popped by the blog, another being author Sarah Gabriel who also writes – of all things – Highland romances.

I'm thinking of still going with Rebecca and using a variant on my last name.  Gonna look into registering that domain before I lock in, though.

Would "J. Rebecca Somethingorother" sound too pretentious?

OH, and the entry fee.  $100 cheaper for RWA members than for non.  Well, I tried to fax in my membership app a few weeks ago to no avail, so I finally mailed it.  My membership is still pending.  I don't wanna wait for that to clear just to save the money in case the contest fills up.  But in case I DON'T get done by the deadline and forfeit my entry fee, that extra $100 would really chafe.  I wonder if they'll refund it once my membership processes…?

Anyway, I haven't actually entered yet.  Gotta think about these things and then hopefully by tomorrow or sometime this week.  That is, if it isn't full already.


Monday, September 15, 2008

To Dream the Impossible Dream

I've been so overwhelmed this summer with work and life and the book and the workshop, that I've come very close to saying "enough for a while" and deciding to put the book away once the workshop is over, live my life with free time in the evenings for a change, piddle with the story here and there, and then pick it back up next year sometime, after the new accelerator goes in and my next board exam (God willing and I passed the recent one), etc.

OTOH, even though most of the summer has been consumed with the workshop rather than actual revisions, I've learned a lot, and I have a good handle on what the story needs to go from (in my estimation) "good" to "awesome".  There is some inherent momentum.  And - though I have told myself this before, only to get caught up for a longer stretch than expected - I really think a few months of nose-to-the-grindstone work will result in a final, polished draft that I can either do something with, like query, or shelve for a while, knowing I at least finished the darn thing.

Nothing motivates me better than external deadline.

So...I've decided to go for broke and dream the impossible dream.  I've decided to enter the Golden Heart.

I think the book is up to it.  Or will be, with planned revisions.  I've read some Golden Heart-winning books in my category (paranormal, it would seem) and I think I've got a shot.

Contest entries open September 22nd, and remain open until November 17th, or they reach 1200 entries, whichever comes first.  (I suspect the latter.)

Assuming my entry is accepted, I would then have until December 2nd to submit my manuscript.

*gulp*

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sick

Me AND Little Boy, that is.

I spent the majority of my Labor Day weekend tending a toddler with the stomach flu, and the latter part sick with it myself.  I was back at work today, and I had the first real food I've eaten in about 48 hours.  On the upside, I've lost 5 pounds!

But though LB was well enough to go to preschool yesterday, today he was home again, and I just came in from spending the past hour scrubbing vaguely fruit-scented pink puke out of my van and his carseat.  The most frustrating part is that the harness straps took the brunt of it, and I can't throw those in the washer (public service announcement from my car seat tech alter-ego: NEVER submerge, soak, and especially never put car seat harnesss straps in the washing machine; it will weaken the webbing and the special strengthening/flame retardant chemicals they are coated in).

Looks like crits for the workshop will have to get done tomorrow.  *sigh*  Between my board exam and this darn virus, I'm almost 2 weeks behind...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My brain hurts

I swore I would get a full night's sleep before my board exam, after late nights and interruptions all week, so I would be in top form.  As I continued to study (and not move as quickly through the material as I'd planned) that got revised to getting in bed by midnight.  Then 2 am.  Then...

The exam was at 8 am yesterday; I had to be there by 7:30.  I slept one hour ("power nap") on my couch in the wee hours of the morning before being awoken by the alarm on my cell phone and returning to the books.

I just don't handle all-nighters like I used to.

I fortified myself (instant "cappuccino" and my little yellow buddy the caffeine pill) and then sat through a grueling 4 hours solid of physics calculations.  I only got one bathroom break, and that was "unscheduled" so it counted against my test time.  That was rough.  I'd been hoping for some kind of intermission.

Overall it went...well, it went.  I don't know how I feel about it.  I don't feel like I bombed it, but I'm not full of confidence that I passed it, either.  OTOH, it's a board exam, and historically all the people I know who've taken them feel like crap afterward, even if they ultimately pass.  We'll see in 4 weeks or so.

Until then, my brain needs a few days of R&R.  I was so exhausted I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up about 30 minutes ago.  We're heading out to DH's hometown later today.  Little Boy spent the weekend with Grandpa, and then my MIL is having a family get-together for my BIL's birthday.  I'm off tomorrow, to make up for working last Saturday, and I plan to sleep in and not do much of anything. 

I do need to get caught up on the revisions workshop.

For now, I'm going to haul the laptop downstairs and play with my new iPod Touch.  I love it.  It was the coolest gadget in the house for all of 24 hours, before DH got his new iPhone last night.  *sigh*

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Radio Silence

I am still here.
 
Life (as usual) has been hectic, but I have not forgotten the book or this blog.  I have actually been working on the book - maybe not as much as I'd hoped, but I am making steady progress.  The blog, unfortunately, has come under the knife of my extremely limited internet/computer time.  When it comes down to either writing or blogging, I've chosen writing.
 
But!  Things are looking up.  We're FINALLY about to hire another physicist, so even though I'll still have a lot to do at work, it won't be so overwhelming and draining.  And my hours might actually regulate a little.
 
The big thing that's been keeping me away lately is the board exam I've got hanging over my head.  That's Saturday.  Yes, this Saturday.  It's the second of three parts I have to pass in order to gain my certification, a raise, and the legal right to perform some duties without supervision.  The third (and hardest) part will be an oral exam next May, assuming I pass this written test two days from now.  For the insatiably curious among you, I'm taking the Part 2 - Therapeutic Radiologic Physics exam from the American Board of Radiology.  (Here are some sample questions.) 
 
I actually took today and tomorrow off from work to study, since I haven't really had a chance up till now.  All my books and notes are in my office, so that's where I am, but I'm in jeans and t-shirt and off the clock.  With that said, I'm going to sign off and go bury my nose in radiation dosimetry and shielding calculations.  Joy.
 
Look for the following in the near future:
 
Revisions/Workshop Updates
Book Reviews
General Life
New Ideas/Future Goals
 
And give a shout out in the comments if you're still around and haven't forgotten me!  I miss everyone.  Hope to "see" you all again soon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Follow-up to FREE Liquid Story Binder XE

As I said in the other post, the offer to get LSB for free is for today, Thursday, 7/18/08 only.  I noticed last night when I was on the GiveawayOfTheDay site that those offers are good until midnight *Pacific Time*.  So that's 3 am my time...or noon on Friday in Australia (unless that funky daylight savings offset has thrown it off - probably so).
 
From my experience with GOTD, you download a .zip file and unpack it - there will be 3 items.  The setup file for the free software, a readme.txt, and an "activate" file.  Read the readme.txt first (I say this because I usually ignore them but this time it's important).  You need to run the ACTIVATE program before installing the software.  Then install the software and it should automatically register itself to the full version.
 
ALL of this needs to be accomplished before the midnight (or whatever) deadline.  You can't just download the file - you have to run the activation and install the software.
 
Just FYI.
 
Oh, and there's a Yahoo! group for Liquid Story Binder users.  For help with the software, updates, questions, discussion of features, etc.  Come on by!

Liquid Story Binder XE - FREE TODAY!!!

A commenter (thanks, Rick!) gave me the heads up last week that LSB might show up for free again and guess what - today it has.
 
I got my copy a few months ago for the bargain price of $15 but today (7/18/08) ONLY you can go to:
 
 
and download LSB XE for free.  The newest version, even!  (I'm running 2.71 but once you have it registered all updates are free, so I'll be upgrading to 2.91 tonight no matter what.)
 
It was well worth my $15 so BY ALL MEANS go get it free today if you don't already have it.  I've been using it for rewrites and I've only scratched the surface of all the features but some of my favorites are: character dossiers, line notes, shortcuts, file associations, picture galleries.  The storyboard and timeline features are cool but I haven't had the time to fully set mine up.  Other stuff I've heard it does but haven't experienced yet: jump words (i.e. if I click on "Alec" I can set it to pull up his character dossier, if I click on "Glencoe" it will pull up the picture gallery or the list of files with all my research on the massacre, etc.), playlists, all sorts of stuff.
 
For more information on Liquid Story Binder XE go to www.blackobelisksoftware.com
 
The interface isn't your standard Microsoft (duh - and some would say that's a good thing) and it took some getting used to.  I had to change the display colors, and all that.  But the more I use it the more instinctively I know where to find the tools I want, the more features I discover and get set up, and the more addicted to it I get.
 
Go.  It's free.  You can't go wrong with free!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wordle and other fun stuff

Stolen shamelessly from Jo (and everyone else)...

For this blog:



For OHN:



And a fun cartoon Deniz sent me that I tracked to the artist's blog online:


Friday, July 11, 2008

More slashing and burning

Another 2700 words cut tonight, and that despite me not getting and staying focused until after 10 pm.  That brings the MS down to just over 102K, almost 10K less than the SFD.  I still have a lot more to cut, though, especially considering all the new stuff that has to go in.

I'd like to be done with this phase by the weekend, and seriously re-plot through next week.

In other news, I've got reviews for several books I'd like to post, if I could find the time to write them.  Unfortunately, being in full-on revisions mode makes me hyper-critical, and I can't enjoy everything as much as I might.  Thankfully, there are some authors (a few I happen to know "personally") who are good enough that I can still get transported into the story and escape for a little while.

In other other news, I booked our hotel for Fergus tonight.  Only one month from now, woohoo!  It's a shame DH isn't coming with me, though; he would have worn his kilt.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yay, caffeine

Revisions with me are proving to be mind over matter.  I was exhausted tonight, and the temptation to turn in early and get a good rest was strong.  But I get to sleep in tomorrow (working late - planned for once - so going in late) so I made myself take the little yellow pill and it perked me right up. 

I picked up where I left off with Chapter 12 and started cutting some more.  Among tonight's casualties: my beloved "takedowns" scene, or most of it.  *sigh*  All told I cut about 2500 words, and that only from chapters 12-16.

The rest of the time was spent adding a new scene, or most of one.  A little over 500 words.  Alec and Janet discussing their future, not knowing Elspeth is nearby and the sight of them kissing will send her off to Glencoe alone...

All in all, I'm pleased.  Yay, caffeine.  *g*

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scenes

So I took a break from the "hacky, slashy, poky-poky" of last night to work on this week's assignment for the revisions workshop.

Right now we're looking at scenes: what makes a well-balanced, complete one, things a scene should and should not do, etc.  Our assignment was to post a pivotal scene from the MS, and I chose Elspeth's confrontation with Breadalbane and her bargain for Alec's life.  On the whole it was well-received (by the two people who've commented so far) and some good comments were made that inspired about a 100-word addition to the scene...my first new words in a while.  I also reworked some stuff and took out some "telling" where I didn't need it.

So that's one out of, oh, about 130 or so scenes in the MS that's in pretty much final condition now.  I'll take what progress I can get, hehe.

Now it's almost midnight and I think I'll be better served in general by going to bed and resuming my slash-and-burn operation tomorrow night.

But in the meantime, if anyone wants to save $30 on a CatGenie - a catbox that not only scoops but washes itself and doesn't need litter - let me know.  I can give you a "friends & family" coupon code.  After less than a week I am IN LOVE with mine.  It's totally worth the money.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Slash and Burn

So, first night of the new routine seemed to go okay.  Little Boy went to bed late, so I only got a solid hour of work done.  Still, for a change, I feel like I actually made some progress.

I made it through the first 1/3 of the MS (chapters 1-11) in my slash-and-burn rampage.

According to LSB (Liquid Story Binder) I cut almost 2600 words tonight.  (I've done a little bit previously, too.)  The overall MS is at 107,250.  So I'm down a total of 5K or so, and I've got another 12K at least to get down to my target of 95K.  Some of that will come in the next few nights as I cut big scenes and chunks of scenes (some are hard to part with, but I have to admit to myself they're more for me than for the story).  Other wordage will evaporate as I get into the nitty-gritty revisions, scene-by-scene.  Right now it's the broad-stroke stuff, because I'll get hung up in the little details if I try to go in and just take out lines or paragraphs.

I will also have new stuff to write, at some point.  But I think after I get all this extraneous stuff cut, it will be a big catch-up plotting/organizing streak, and then we'll see where I am in the revisions workshop - I really do plan to blog about that, someday - and hopefully I'll manage to keep pace.

In other news, I'm probably going to Fergus again this year!  My friend Jodi *waves* is also somewhat obsessed with Scotland and we're planning a "girls' weekend out" road trip.  Fun times.

Now I'm for bed.  Staff meeting at 8 am tomorrow.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A new schedule

Okay, I'm trying to get myself on a routine, since things are still hectic but at least they're settling into some aspect of predictability.

My new plan:

8 pm: begin bedtime routine for Little Boy
9 pm: LB in bed; wash face, brush teeth, etc. while waiting for him to settle down
~9:30 pm: at computer - go straight to work on revisions
11:30-12 am: wrap up revisions for the night, check e-mail/blogs and other online administrativa
~12 am: bedtime
6 am: alarm goes off
8 am: work
~6-7 pm: home, dinner, playtime
8 pm: lather, rinse, repeat

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Another meme, because Deniz posted it *g*

(Y'all, I have so much to blog and absolutely no time to do it - what with the internet ban at work, and my evening computer time taken up by the revisions workshop - so I'll have to make do with this for now.)


Stolen from Shaylin, who stole it from Jon, who stole it from Sandy:


1. What's in your pocket right now?  Nothing.  My cell phone about 15 minutes ago.

 

2. Have you ever gone skinny-dipping?  Do hot tubs count?

 

3. Did you have a baby blanket?  I don't think so, but I did have a tattered old feather pillow with a homemade pillow case (Lovey Pillow) and a ragged stuffed rabbit missing an eye (Lovey Bunny).  Still have them, in fact - though I don't sleep with them anymore. 

 

4. Have you ever tried to cut your own hair?  When I had bangs, I cut my own all the time.  Never the whole head, though.


5. How did that turn out?  Fine.  Like I said, I did it all the time.

 

6. Have you ever sleepwalked?  I don't think so. 

 

7.Have you ever had a birthday party at a restaurant?  Yeah.  Blanking on which ones, but I'm pretty sure I have.

 

8. Have you ever eaten a dog biscuit?  Tried one.  Not bad, actually.


9. If you were in a car sinking in a lake, what would you do first?  Open the door.  (Thank you, Mythbusters.)

 

10. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?  No.

 

11. Have you ever fallen asleep in school?  OH, yeah.

 

12. How many foreign countries have you visited?  4: Mexico, Israel, Bahamas, Canada.  Oh!  5 if you count our layover in Copenhagen on the way to Israel.

 

13. Have you ever broken a bone?  Not officially.  Possibly a few undiagnosed hairline fractures in there somewhere.  OTOH, I drink a lot of milk.

 

14. Have you ever accidentally taken something from a hotel?  No, not accidentally.


15. If you could invite any movie star to your home for dinner, who would it be?  Movie star?  Can't it be someone interesting?

 

16. If you could attend an Olympic Event, what would it be?  I like to watch figure skating and gymnastics.  Fencing would be pretty neat, too.  Also archery.

 

17. How many pairs of shoes do you own?  Hmmm...6 pairs of serviceable work shoes (3 black, 3 brown, usage varies by season), 3 pairs of tennis shoes (white, black/white, and blue/silver - the first 2 are new as of last weekend), 2 pairs of boots (black and brown), 1 pair of tartan - not plaid - ballet flats, and assorted pairs of sandals/strappy dress shoes.  2 pairs of dress heels.  Or something like that.

 

18. If you won a $5,000 shopping spree to any store, which store would you pick?  Oy...  How about Carnival Cruise Lines online reservations?  Does that count?  I'm too tired to analyze best-case options right now.

 

19. Have you ever been rushed to the emergency room?  Not rushed, but taken.  I seriously had like a 106+ fever when I was in 4th(?) grade.  And once I jumped in a pile of leaves and almost broke my wrist (but didn't, cf. #13).  Can't remember if the time I hit the pipe in the road while riding my bicycle barefoot resulted in an ER trip or not.  I think it probably did.


20.  Have you ever had surgery?  Yeah, most recently my wisdom teeth out.  Only one other back in college, and it was outpatient too.  Nothing major.


21.  When was the last time you had a sit-down dinner with your immediate family that didn't consist of a television?  Saturday night?  Sunday we were gone all day to the zoo, and Little Boy's been gone to Granny's since yesterday (he gets back on Thursday, and that's why I'm able to be on the computer before 10 pm...)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is. Not. A. Skirt.

DH sent me this:


see more dog pictures

I especially enjoyed it coming from him, as his 7th wedding anniversary present for me was the purchase of a kilt on-the-sly and him turning up in it while we were in Gatlinburg.

Nice. *w*

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday to Alec!

I hate that I missed it and didn't post yesterday.  But, well, the way my life's been lately, it's amazing I'm blogging at all.

Anyway, Alec was born on June 24th, 1663, the second son of "Red" Malcolm MacGregor, Laird of Glenstrae, and Mary Campbell MacGregor.

Going strictly by birthdate, he is 320 years older than Elspeth, give or take a month or so.  In the "real world" of present day, he would have been 345 yesterday, though biologically he's still only in his late 20's.  (In the novel, he turns 28 the day after he meets Elspeth, making him almost 30 by the end of the book.)

Là breith sona dhuit, Ailig!

(I probably slaughtered that.  My Gaelic is r-u-s-t-y.)

Proof Google is Stalking Me (and probably you, too)

Move over, Big Brother.

Just now I was on ThePeerage.com researching the antecedents for one Hugh Sinclair: tacksman to Malcolm MacGregor, Chief of Clan Gregor and Laird of Glenstrae; effectively adopted brother and good friend to one Alec MacGregor; potential antagonist/almost betrothed/ultimately good friend of Elspeth Martin; and eventual heir (with Andi Duluth) to Book 3 - One Highland Somethingorother.

At any rate, toward the bottom of the page I found a GoogleAds box.  No biggie.  Only it was for Amazon, and the 3 books it highlighted were:

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing
My Lord and Spymaster (Yay, Jo!  And it was this that caught my eye.  Check it out in the sidebar to the left!)
Keeping Kate by Sarah Gabriel

The freaky thing is: yeah, sure, Amazon knows I buy books on writing and that I've preordered Jo's book.  But I've only ordered one book by Sarah Gabriel recently and that was through PaperBackSwap.com, something neither Amazon nor Google should know about.  Hmmm?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm still alive...

...barely.

The last 2-3 weeks have been crazy, and not in a fun way.  Work is pretty much kicking my ass, and by that I mean sheer workload.  Consistently working until 7-8 pm for weeks on end will tap me out in a hurry.  Having no internet access while I'm there pretty much sucks, too.  It completely mucks with my schedule.  I mean, I understand they want top productivity out of us, but at least being able to pop into my e-mail or pay some bills over my lunch break would do wonders for my morale, not to mention save the few precious hours I have on the computer in the evenings for the MS.

Despite all I have been making progress - just at a snail's pace.  Maybe someday I'll have the time to blog about it.  We just got assignment 2 (characterization and POV) for the revisions workshop, and I spent a good chunk of tonight working on it.  Once it's posted I'll probably go back to do some more on the first assignment, which was structure and organization.  I'm nowhere near where I wanted to be on that just yet.

On the home front: Friday DH and I are leaving for a 3-day weekend in Gatlinburg to celebrate our (7th!) anniversary.  I REALLY need the R&R.  Little Boy (who is dry pretty much all day at home in underwear now, though he still wears pull-ups in public and to bed) will be staying overnight at Grandpa's house for the first time.  I think we'll all have fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quote

"When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story.  When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story."

-Steven King
On Writing

---

I am so tired and overwhelmed with work and life and this workshop (in which I am hopelessly behind, and the first session isn't even over yet) I could curl up and cry.  Or sleep.  Or something.

But in my desperate reach for input rather than output for a change, I've been toting the above book around with me today and I discovered that little gem on page 57.  It was the bright spark of inspiration in my dismal blur of a day towards the end of a dismal blur of a week (Deniz's visit the obvious exception). 

So to heck with timelining for tonight; I think I'm gonna go rip some scenes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night...

Well, here in Kentucky at least. I'm glad it's raining - the heat lately has been more like late July than early June, and my grass is looking crispy.

I'm wiped. An impromptu orthodontist appointment this morning, yet another blob of stuff in my mouth preventing my back teeth from meeting, a looooong day at work, and the last 2 crits for the workshop have taken it out of me. I should have been in bed hours ago.

But! I wanted to blog the highlight of the evening: dinner out at a local institution (Ramsey's Diner - bringing new meaning to the phrase "Southern fried") with...Deniz! And her husband too, of course. Here's a rare pic of the whole fam-damily with our out of town guests. *g*


From L to R:
DH, me, Little Boy, Deniz, and her husband!
(Names have been changed or omitted to protect the innocent. Oh, wait...)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Torn

I want to do the June X over on CompuServe.  I want to rather badly.  (Not least because part of our first assignment for the revisions workshop was a 750-word synopsis, so I've got one ready!)

BUT I still have 4 crits to do for the aforementioned workshop, and a whole heck of a lot of timelining and organizing and extraneous-scene-culling from the MS to complete in a little less than 2 weeks.  And posting up an X means critting everyone else's and though I usually enjoy participating, honestly I really do not have enough time in the day right now.  I obviously haven't had much time to blog.  Heck, I *barely* have time to check my e-mail.

*taps chin*  Decisions, decisions...

Friday, June 06, 2008

500 Miles

Those of you who've read the last scene from OHN will get why I enjoyed this:

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It's ba-ack...

See the post "Tedium" below the ether post for what I wrote late last night. Not much, but hey - at least it's there.

I'm off to get up to my eyeballs in timelines.

Also, I added Jo's up-and-coming release to my "Recommended Books" section. Wow, I'm on a roll with the updates!

Into the ether (again)

Well, I wrote a post from Gmail about what I've been up to the past few nights that - while not as detailed as I had in mind - still took a fair bit of time in my current exhausted state.

And then it disappeared into the cyber-ether. *sigh*

Past "vanished" posts have shown up in a day or so. Keep your eyes out.

In the meantime, I've done two minor updates to the blog (more coming). Jason's shiny cool pic of Alec and Elspeth now features over in the "About the Book" section on the sidebar to the right (you can't miss it), while Carol's book Cost of Freedom got a pic and link under the "Recommended Books" section on the left. One click will take you to the order page. Hint, hint. *g*

Tedium

I planned a detailed post about what exactly I'm doing and how that fits with the first part of the revisions workshop, but tonight I'm too drained.  Maybe tomorrow. 

In summary: the past few nights have been spent finally (finally!) getting my butt in gear with Liquid Story Binder - henceforward referred to as LSB - and setting everything up for large-scale revisions.

Unfortunately for me and my mental state, "setting up" means hours' worth of importing files, associating files, sorting files into chronological order instead of alphabetical, and tonight: inserting columns (and columns, and columns - 129, to be exact) for scenes into a timeline and labeling them with chapter and scene number.  (Example: third scene in chapter seventeen is labeled "17.3" and so on.)

This is the scut work before the "real" work begins, the stuff that - though tedious - will ultimately make my life easier.  The timeline, for example, will help me visualize and organize issues ranging from character subarcs (i.e. Elspeth's grasp of Gaelic, or appreciation for 17th century food) to sequences of events, times of year, and exact dates, among others.

Of course, were I starting from scratch in LSB (or nearly so, as I will when/if I ever dive into OHW) this kind of thing would grow organically as I wrote, with only small amounts of time required to update my organizational tools.  Starting with 112K of rough draft and umpteen million little picture files, brainstorming notes, etc. and trying to get everything sorted into a software that's completely new to you with sometimes unintuitive commands...well, you see why it's taking so much out of me.

On that note, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

*Fanfare* (for various reasons)

First and foremost, congrats to Carol on her release!  Head over to The Wild Rose Press and purchase her book.  Then pop by Jen's blog with your order number for another contest!

As for myself...tonight I officially resumed work in earnest on OHN!  The Next Level Workshop opened properly yesterday, but I was exhausted and brain-drained and so I didn't really dive in until tonight.

Thank God for caffeine pills, though.  I think my single greatest discipline in working on this MS is making myself take one (note to self: taking a caffeine pill WITH a Mt. Dew is a bit of overkill and makes you jittery) and then getting BICHOK until it kicks in.  Then I'm golden.  Last night I was practically passing out at my keyboard by 10:30, but now it's almost 2 am and I'm going relatively strong.  Off to bed soon, though.

I may continue to have a reduced online presence for the immediate future.  With my writing time restricted to late night (generally the hours between 9 pm and midnight) and so much work to do on revisions, I can't afford to futz around playing Text Twirl or looking at LOLcats for very long.  Also we've been asked to scale back our internet usage at work, and with a load of new (and old) projects - not to mention an upcoming certification exam - I'm too busy to do much online there anyway.  Even my e-mail activity will be restricted to only the most urgent of dealings.  I will TRY to maintain a presence on the CompuServe Forum (and yes - I know I still owe several people replies!) but I've cut myself off from most of my other message boards and hangouts as nonessential for the time being. 

Notes from the home front:
  • I'm just now almost over the upper respiratory infection that kept me coughing for a week, then morphed into a sinus infection that's had me blowing my nose constantly for the past 5 days.
  • We've decided to enroll Little Boy in a Montessori preschool beginning in the fall.  He'll be 2 1/2, which was way younger than I planned to have him in any kind of program, but I just recently discovered Montessori and from what I've read it sounds like a GREAT fit for him, and they usually start kids at 2.5-3 years old.  It's only half days, and it will also give DH a chance to go to class/work on schoolwork/have some downtime.
  • To that end, we've also begun potty training in earnest.  Pray for my sanity, hehe!  LB is doing well, all things considered...which is to say he's no longer screaming and running from the room when we ask him to sit on the potty chair.  Switching to cotton training pants during the day has gone a long way to further his awareness, and he does want to keep them "kween an' dry!"  (Though I felt bad for him the other day, when he was trying so hard to not pee on himself that he wouldn't go AT ALL - even in the potty or his diaper.  He spent the last hour or so before bed with tucked knees and a hand over his bladder, and then filled the diaper as soon as he relaxed for sleep.  Bless his heart.)
Up and Coming:
  • More posts!  I try to post a little progress bit at the end of each session when I'm actively working.  And believe you me, this workshop's gonna kick my ass (in a good way!) for the foreseeable future, so I WILL be actively working.
  • Blog updates.   New pics and stuff for the sidebars, mainly.  I'll be updating my blogroll, so if you're a regular reader and want your blog linked to, just drop me a line to remind me!