Monday, April 30, 2012

Things come up

Sunday morning I sat down, plowed through the inbox, and sat down to finish reading Unraveling. I didn't have much left from the previous day, and I figured I'd get to work writing as soon as I finished it. But, things come up.

While I was sitting on the back porch with my kindle, enjoying the lovely weather and the page-turning final chapters, unbeknownst to me my phone was ringing back inside the house. I missed the call, obviously. But two hours later, I checked my messages when I sat down to write. HAHAHAHA! Life interfered.

In case you're not a follower of this lowly blog, I volunteer to raise money for my daughter's girl scout troop and the children's chorus by working a few shifts a week at the local minor league baseball team's home games. And they needed my amazing skills at pouring beer and running a cash register, because they'd sold more than a thousand tickets more than they'd originally predicted. Let's hear it for nice weather!

I got dressed and dashed across town to the stadium, where I proceeded to save the day. At least, I poured enough beer to make several dozen people happy. They'd be happier if it wasn't $7 a glass, but hey, I pour to the rim. Bonus time: I got to have a corn dog for dinner. I don't think I'd had one in twenty years. It was good for the first half, and then I remembered why I hadn't had one in 20 years. Deep fried corn bread is best in VERY SMALL doses. Bleh.

So I came home, showered the beer/grease/sticky off, and sat down to work. I didn't realize how much I actually did until this morning, though. I tweeted last night that I wrote less than I wanted but luckily more than nothing. Heh! Turns out I actually managed about 3500 words, and 11 pages. I'll say that's pretty good for a day I'd given up for lost.

I meant to take a picture at the game, maybe of the crazy-long lines we had to deal with, or even the scoreboard when the home team totally tanked. In all the hubbub, I sort of forgot I had my phone in my pocket. I also sorta didn't want to stick my hand in my pocket with beer fingers. So no pretty pictures today.

I am going to write now. Toodles!

Words: 36,530
Pages: 121

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Unraveling, unwinding

I spent ALL DAY (other than a two hour break to take my daughter to a dance) writing synopses (synopsises?) for my first two novels. I actually had a two page synopsis for the first novel, but I'd recently learned that agents might want a shorter, one page synopsis. Ack! Don't they know how hard it is to relate everything in a 350 page book in just two single spaced pages? Now they want it chopped to a single page? Whasa?

So I started with that. I copied the long synopsis that I made during my first round of edits into a new document, and started chopping and rearranging, rewriting and condensing. It took hours, but eventually, I got that sucker to fit on a single page. And then it was on to the difficult task.


I took notes during the first round of edits on the second novel, but I never transcribed them into a proper synopsis. When I reread after the first draft, I make notes of every plot point, character intro, and anything else I think is important to the story. I started by transcribing all fourteen pages of notes. Fourteen pages! Granted, that's fourteen pages of my handwriting in a 6x9 legal pad, so it's not as bad a fourteen pages of typed notes, or fourteen pages of notebook paper. Still, though, I write kind of small...

When I finished that, I had four pages of typed, single-spaced synopsis. It was nearly 2300 words. Too long even for a long synopsis. I got out my chainsaw and started cutting, pasting, and rewriting. I finally got it down to two pages, single spaced. I renamed the file "Long Synopsis", saved it and copied it into a new document. This time, instead of a chain saw, I used a scalpel. I pared everything that wasn't absolutely necessary to coherency and after hours of this, at 12:19 this morning, I finally had a single page that defines Devil May Care. Then I went to bed.

Seriously, it took about twelve hours to do that. I promised myself a reward today if I could get it done. So I'm paying up. I've spent most of the day today reading Unraveling by Liz Norris. It's great! I'm about a quarter through it, so I'm eager to get back to reading now. It's the kind of book you can't put down once you pick it up, and I'm too eager to find out what happens next, and what's up with the mysterious Ben, what Janelle's dad knows about the victims in his case, and what it has to do with Janelle. So....gotta go now.

Oh, one last thing. I was enamored with Lulu's fashion choice this morning:

Stripey!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cavalcade of Reserach...unfortunately none of it for the actual writing

I've spent a lot of time in the last day or so compiling the list of agents I'm querying, researching their agencies, their client lists, the genres they like, and the ones they're absolutely sick to death of at the moment. It's been a slog. But I'm done with this current batch. Maybe I'll send out some more next week. There was nothing else to do in the "big deep breath" moments after the Liz Norris contest. Now it's back to normal life.

One fun thing we've done was attend the middle school theater class performance last night. Lulu played "Worker #1" in a play loosely based on three fairy tales. The tales were turned on their heads, with the "princess" characters standing up to the bad guy for themselves, while the "handsome prince" characters stood by and watched. It was a lot of fun. Aside from Lulu's riveting seven lines of dialogue, the best part was the fairy godmother, played by a boy. It was hysterical!

Lulu, in the center, with both arms over her head, taking her bow.

The Progress-o-Meter shows just how busy I've been not writing. I plan to remedy that in the next few days. But then that's always the plan. Sometimes the plan doesn't work out. We'll see.

It's technically my night off, but I've been not-writing so much today, I'm spending the next two hours at the keyboard. NOT on The Internets. Hopefully.

Words: 33,098
Pages: 110

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sigh...but amazing nonetheless.

Well, Janet Reid announced the winner of the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Debut Novel Contest today, and it wasn't me. But I could have told you that days ago. In fact, I had the winner picked since the day before I announced my finalist status. She was finalist #3, and was revealed the day before I was. When I read her entry, I basically knew I didn't have a chance to win. Congrats to Cassie Marshall on winning, and getting to go to New York for the Backspace conference! My personal seething jealousy aside, I'm confident her novel, "The Stars Fell Sideways" will be on bookstore shelves in the very near future!

So, what am I doing now that I don't have to pack and plan for a trip to New York? Querying. When I took a break to revise my first novel back in early March, I stopped querying. I resumed for a few days around the time I entered the Liz Norris contest, but stopped again when I was (miraculously!) chosen a finalist. I figured, what the heck, I've got a 1 in 9 shot of winning now, so I'll wait and polish that query again before I head back into the land of writer torture (a.k.a. querying agents).

I spent the entire day today dusting off my agent research, finalizing my query, and compiling emails to half a dozen agents. Knock on wood one of them works! It really is a time drag, but I needed a day off from my WIP. I'm entering the Great Boggy Middle of the novel now, and it's perilous trying to navigate my way through those treacherous swamps. False plot lines threaten to lure me off the trail, while here and there I see a glimmer of light through the trees and hope to dog I'm still walking in the right direction.

The Helper Monkey is about a third of the way through Devil May Care, and so far he likes it even better than Dragon Hunter. And I planned to change the name of Dragon Hunter to Running Down the Dragon, but since I'm claiming "Finalist" status in the Liz Norris contest on my queries, I thought it best to hold on to the original title for a while. At least until an agent requests more material. At that point, I think I will let them know I changed the working title. Just in case any of them ask Janet Reid about my entry in her contest, it would be bad if they used the new title, and Janet told them she never heard of it, and I must be some crackpot. :) So, for now, sticking with the old title, even though I've lost all my love for it.

And I finally found an image that remotely looks like my dragons. Although all the dragons in my novel are black. Whatever. These are the closest things I've been able to find that fit my mental picture of my imaginary friends. Hopefully this helps anyone who read my query clarify what I mean by dragons. Minus the weird otherworldly backdrop. My main dragon lives in Boston, for crying out loud! :)

Thanks again, everyone. Especially Janet Reid, Liz Norris, and everyone involved in the contest. It was a fantastic trip, and I'm grateful to have been introduced to so many wonderful people along the way, even if we're only friends online for now. Someday we'll all be published, and meet regularly at events and conferences, and have yet another great story to tell.

The Progress-o-Meter is kind of stuck lately, but here it is, anyway. I plan to write some tonight. Hopefully. We'll see. Still recovering from the craziness.

Words: 31,473
Pages: 103

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tumblr is a Time Sink

That's right. I was writing. "Was" being the operative word in that sentence. I happily edited the last ten pages or so I made last night, and picked up writing where I left off. And then I took a break and checked the Tweeties. There was an interesting link to someone's Tumblr. I tried to resist clicking, but I had to see the damned picture. So I spent the next forty minutes dancing through Tumblr posts. Gah! That's why I don't use it more often. I'd waste my whole life reading through everyone's mental meanderings and random photos. What is wrong with me? I have important work I need to be doing!

I had to take Lulu to the mall today to buy a pair of plain black flats for her chorus concert in a few weeks. They rejected her current pair because they have little metal pyramid studs across the toes. So I spent 30 perfectly good dollars on a pair of shoes she'll probably wear once. Crap. At least we got soft pretzels. The mall is good for something.

We also got new slippers. Two pairs for $10, and they're as soft as little pillows. I have a slipper obsession. I don't have any idea why, but I wear them constantly, and they wear out almost as fast as I can buy them. I think I'm on my fifth pair since the new year. My slippers are black with little purple bows, and it took me ten minutes to realize there was no "right" or "left" slipper. They're like little glorified ankle socks, with cushioning sewn into the sole. Delightful! Lulu's are rainbow stripes.

So now I finally get a chance to sit and write, and what do I do? Waste half the night on Tumblr. I give up. I'm going back to work now. Fooey on the Internet for being such a tempting diversion.

Words: 30,157
Pages: 99

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Writey McWriterson is back

Finally, a day where I accomplished a substantial block of writing, despite my many attempts to procrastinate. Since writing is essentially boring to anyone but the writer, I figured anyone reading this post might be more interested to know what I did during breaks to avoid going back to work distract myself for a few scant minutes at a time.

I needed to get in a holiday mood this morning, because my WIP takes place three days before Christmas. It was in the upper seventies here today, and sunny. Not exactly getting me in the mood to write this particular tale. I hauled out my Jack Skellington mug and made some hot tea, thinking it might help the mood along. While it brewed, I cleaned the kitchen a bit, and then found a great project to stall for a while occupy the few minutes before I had to get to work.

We keep a flower pot full of pens and pencils on the counter by the phone. It was overflowing with crayons, markers, and all manner of things, and you couldn't get half the pens into the pot anymore. I dumped it out on the counter, and tested each pen before placing it carefully back. By the time I finished that important task, I was almost done with the tea, and figured I should get to work.
I threw out about a dozen non-functional pens, and still the pot's full to bursting.

My next distraction came a few hours later. The kid has a little stretchy man made of yellow rubber, and she was throwing it up into the air in the living room. It stuck to the ceiling, about fifteen feet up.

He's the little speck in the middle of the shot. Sorry it's hard to see, but it was about ten feet above my head.
The Helper Monkey got the broom and retrieved the little guy for us.

Safe and sound...for now
Of course, this prompted a round of running around the house finding other surfaces he might stick to. You see, he's not sticky, he won't stick to the painted walls, or the fridge, or the stove, or the light fixtures, or anything else in the house. So we started throwing him up against the ceiling again.

On the ceiling of the hall
This, as you might imagine, was insanely fun. We found a ceiling we could reach ourselves, without the Helper Monkey's assistance, and spent the next ten minutes making him stick, before knocking him down with a broom again.


All this highly intellectual activity was exactly what I needed to inspire me to go back to work. Actually, it was the shame at how hard we'd been laughing at Sticky Yellow Guy's trauma that eventually drove me back to work.

Nevertheless, I still managed to get quite a bit accomplished today. I'm stunned how this project is turning out to be completely different than the last book in this series, just as that one was completely different from the first. This one is much more of a mystery, with my two main characters following a bunch of twisty-turny clues to solve the crime. I'm dashing everything down in my usual Pantser fashion, but I know this book is going to require a lot more in the editing department than the others. Continuity is a bigger issue here than it was in the others, since it's freaking hard to keep track of who knows what about the mystery. Can't have anyone reveal something too soon, and can't have people oblivious to something they should have known already. Gah! So confusing! So in addition to all the new words I've written today, I've spent an inordinate amount of time skipping back in the narrative to make sure the continuity is....continuous. Ahem.

Back to work again, while the word factory is still open for business in my brain.

Words: 28,261
Pages: 93

Afterthought: What's with the new Blogger interface? I'm lost. Please bear with me until I get used to it.

 After-Afterthought: I finally named my WIP. It's called BLACK SHEEP, for future reference. I hate naming my novels. In fact, I'm thinking of renaming DRAGON HUNTER. I was thinking RUNNING DOWN THE DRAGON sounded better. Any thoughts?

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm suffering from Writer Brain.

More accurately, the Helper Monkey is suffering from MY Writer Brain. Since he works night shift, and gets only one night off a week, we tend to use that night to catch up on a ton of recorded TV shows. We watch a lot of mystery/police/detective type shows, and my severe case of Writer Brain is starting to infringe on his fun. We've been noticing that, since I started writing, I've gotten better and better at spotting the twist in the plot long before it's revealed.

When I spot it, I swear I try to hold my tongue, but I get too much of a thrill showing off my hard-won Writer Brain. And Helper Monkey is getting used to me pausing the show, sometimes as early as fifteen minutes in, to reveal what I've figured out about all the characters. It's happening so often now, he's actually started congratulating me on it, rather than being peeved for ruining the show.

I think Writer Brain is a side effect of writing. I spend hours every day trying to craft these kinds of mysteries. When I see a simplified version of a mystery (like an hour-long cop show on TV), I can't resist applying my own writing process to the action on screen. It's become a game for me to see how early in the show I can spot the upcoming AHA! moments. It's sort of like writing in reverse.

Having said all that, it's back to actual work for me. Since I've confessed I spent most of last night and today watching TV with the Helper Monkey, I haven't written much. Here's the update, though:

Words: 24,272
Pages: 80

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The big lumpy thing under my hat. AKA: Squee! I'm a Finalist!

Wowie wowzers! I'm a finalist! You are? Yes, yes I am! *insert maniacal laughter* I can't even believe it. But there it is. See? It's right there---> http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2012/04/finalist-4.html

When Janet Reid emailed me to notify me of my finalist status, I thought there must be some mistake. There was no way my silly little novel would be a finalist in anything. I had an attack of the vapors, eventually recovered, and decided to play along with the pleasant delusion. I sent off the list of answers to the Finalist Questions, and tried like heck to forget about it. Maybe if I played along and kept reading about the other finalists, and their amazing novels, I'd come to my senses. I doubted it until the second I saw the post online with my name on it next to Finalist Number 4. In fact, I still don't really believe it.

When it posted this morning, I was actually at my daughter's school. I showed her the post when she walked by me trying to pretend she didn't know me. It actually merited a thumbs up and a smile. From a pre-teen girl in front of her friends! Wow! Now I'm Really Someone!

I was a chaperone on the drama class field trip to the local high school. We saw "Once Upon A Mattress." All through the play, I fidgeted. It was a great production, and I totally loved it. Other than the fact I was dying to stand up and shout the entire time.

The Helper Monkey works night shift, so he's all tucked away sleeping now. I'll have to squee at him when he gets up. In the mean time, thanks for all the great comments! This has completely made my day! :)

Thank you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fun with Sock Puppets

I just got the kid from school, and she's started a new project in her Life Skills class (think home ec.). They are using their new-found sewing skills to make sock puppets. I love this.

Today they had to sketch out their designs. She brought it home for me to see. I love my kid. This is what she designed for her sock puppet:

It's Doctor Who!

Yes, she's making a Doctor Who sock puppet, complete with bow tie and Fez. And even a wibbly wobbly timey wimey thrown in for good measure.

Her second choice design is a little more disturbing:

Creepy weeping angel.
If you've never seen the "Blink" episode of Doctor Who (or any of the subsequent episodes featuring these monsters), this might seem cute. Trust me, it's one of the least cute things I have ever seen. *brrrrr*

I'm glad she went with the Doctor.

So this is what we're teaching her.

Writing has been going sort of well. I managed to make new words, and get the bills paid, and balanced the checkbook, and dealt with idiot people on the phone. If I've spoken with you on the phone in the last few days, please know that you, personally, were absolutely NOT one of the idiot people. That was someone else. You were absolutely delightful (unless you're with Verizon or Citibank. Then, you stink.)

Chorus tonight, which means two hours of semi-uninterrupted writing time. Huzzah!

Since the last update:

Words: 20,512
Pages: 67

Sunday, April 15, 2012

AAAHHH!!! I THINK I'M ON FIRE...

Wait, no. My lighter didn't malfunction in my pocket. I didn't accidentally stab myself in the thigh. I'm not bleeding, and all my clothing is intact. What the hell happened?

A wasp flew up my skirt in the Lowe's parking lot.

Let me say this: IT FREAKING HURTS TO GET STUNG THAT CLOSE TO YOUR LADY BITS.

I can't sit. I've been up and down all afternoon, and I haven't written a single word all day. This is the first time I've been able to sit still for more than a few minutes without feeling like I was being stabbed in the tuchus with a flaming sword.

I reached into the pocket of my skirt to pull out my keys, and the black wasp that flew under my ruffles took offense to the near-smashing he endured. I suppose my black skirt resembled the display of bar-b-cue grills out front of the store, and he mistook me for a mobile wasp home. Why do wasps always nest in grills? We pull about three nests a year out of our grill. Can you tell we don't use it very much?

Luckily, there was another customer in the parking lot who had a first aid kit handy, and she actually had insect sting treatment vials. You crack the vial, and rub the mentholated stuff on the affected area. It helps with pain and swelling, but I had to flash the whole parking lot to apply it. I tried ducking down behind the grills, but the rest of the wasps were laughing at me, I'm sure.

Anyway, that's my excuse for today. I didn't make any new pages because every time I sat down to write, it felt like I'd planted my buttocks on the hot coals inside one of those grills. The Advil, hydrocortisone, and ice packs have combined to reduce the swelling, and I might actually get something done tonight. It remains to be seen, because I'm about to take some benadryl so I'll be able to sleep tonight, and that stuff makes me loopy.

Wish me luck, and don't wear loose black skirts to home improvement stores.

Words: 17,401
Pages: 58

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I must not be writing enough...

The weird dreams are baaa-aaack.

Either I haven't been writing enough, or I slept too long today. Since I've only been up for about ten minutes, I'd go with option two. Option one is something I won't touch, yet. I plan to write a lot today. Starting with my bizarro dream.

Here goes: I dreamt that Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer showed up at a strange camp/hotel I was at. There was a lot of strange stuff going on (most of which I can't remember, since it was secondary). There was a tent set up as a store/restaurant, and a ton of people I don't know walking around and doing strange stuff. Hardly anyone seemed to notice Neil or Amanda, either. Weird.

My daughter and I noticed them, and welcomed them to the camp. We apologized for the state of disarray the place was in, and they were really good sports about it. We took them to lunch. We walked around Coconut Grove, Florida. (side note: I went to high school in Coconut Grove, and somehow a lot of my dreams center around some idealized, alternatate-reality version of the town).

After we ate, I ran around doing a bunch of weird stuff, and kept running into them again and again. There was some sort of giant log cabin building, some spooky old house or hotel, and we wandered around through the crowded rooms for a while, saying hello to all the strange people we found there. We had a few lovely chats, which ended with Amanda inviting me to have coffee with her in New York next weekend. I accepted the offer, and said we could get tickets to a play, too. Then they drove off, and I woke up.

There was a LOT of other stuff going on here, but I can't remember what else we did.

So, when I start having these kind of dreams, dreams that are very realistic that I remember in such great detail, it usually means I've been slacking off on the writing. No matter what else happens today, I MUST write. Because I don't think Neil and Amanda would approve of repeatedly showing up in my lame-ass dreams. I think they have better things to do. Though I am tempted to slack off next weekend to see if their offer of a cup of coffee still stands...

I wrote only a few hundred new words yesterday. Completely depressing. I'm not even going to track it here, for fear of demoralization. The kid and I ended up watching movies last night, but it was nice to hang out with her for a while. It was sort of a reward for her, since she made honor roll at school and brought home her perfect report card yesterday. Too bad she couldn't come into my dream and meet Neil Gaiman, though. She loves Coraline! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

The The

Not the band. I actually typed this in a manuscript. The Helper Monkey was reading yesterday, and caught it. Too bad that particular novel is out with agents, and entered in a writing contest. I was distressed, but figured it wasn't too bad. One silly little typo.

The "the the" he found should have read "and the". I figured the fastest way to find it and correct it was to use the search function, and look for "the the." The only instance it should have found was the one Helper Monkey pointed out. Or so I thought.

The first instance of double the's occurred about a hundred pages before the one he noticed. I cringed, deleted the bonus "the," and moved on. It had to be the next one...

And it wasn't. I fixed the second double the and moved on again.

Third time's the charm, though. The third one was the correct one, and the last one. I changed the first the to and, and saved.

YIKES! Bear in mind, I've read, edited, and revised this manuscript no fewer than fifteen times, and it's been read by Helper Monkey twice now. We never caught any of these before. It gives me the vapors thinking about how many other mystery mistakes are still swimming around in the text. I feel so incompetent! :)

Then again, out of 105,000 words, there are bound to be a few mistakes that I'm incapable of catching. Eventually, I think my brain stops seeing them. I know the words so well, I know what they're SUPPOSED to be doing together, and I unconsciously overlook the few troublemakers.

The the end.

*oh, except for the the writing update:

Words: 15,270
Pages: 51
It's been a slog this week. Writing a new novel always entails new research, especially at the beginning. I've been learning all about Damascus steel, railroad spikes, and Northern Italy (one of my characters is from that region). I'm sure there will be more fun research to come, but in the mean time, back to writing...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I wanted to write today, but...

I got sucked into the whole Big 6 publishing/Amazon/Apple/DOJ controversy, and I followed it online all day. Sure, I didn't get a lot of writing done, but now that the business day is technically over, I'm getting back to writing.

Let me say, as a writer who hopes to be published someday, the lack of understanding of the publishing industry by the Department of Justice seems mind-boggling. It's a little worrisome for someone who has yet to break into the professional writing world, thinking this controversy will make it that much harder to make a living as a writer.


Since I'm not a publishing professional, I'll defer further commentary to those who understand the issues better than I do. I'll just reiterate that I'm a nervous writer today.

I'll be writing more this evening, though, so it hasn't been a wasted day. Yesterday almost felt wasted. I only got about a thousand new words on book 3, which still doesn't have a proper title. My cover page has a big blank space with the words, "Thalia Drake Book III" under where the title should be. My LEAST favorite part of writing is making up titles. I'd rather write synopses all day long than try to come up with a clever, catchy, memorable title.

So far, I have Dragon Hunter (book 1, and I wish I could come up with something better, but this seems to fit best), and Devil May Care (book 2, but I still don't like it). I'll leave it up to my currently theoretical future agent/editor/publisher to adjust the titles to their liking. I apparently stink at that. ;)

Now that I'm actively writing again, rather than mired in interminable revisions, I'm resuming the Progress-o-Meter:

Words: 13,761
Pages: 47

Monday, April 9, 2012

After a week off, I need a week to recover.

Today is the final day of Lulu's Spring Break week. She's back to school tomorrow. I have no idea how it happened, but I'm more exhausted today than I was at the beginning of last week. All the extra sleep was still not enough to make up for the Exhausting Weekend.

I spent a day walking around the Nation's Capital, spent two days working at minor league baseball games, and spent another half day serving pancakes at a retirement community. I really need about a week where I don't have to drive anywhere. That would satisfy me. Sadly, it's not gonna happen for a while.

I've been trying to find the time to get back to writing book 3 in the Thalia series, but every time I sit down at the computer, something else happens, and I get pulled away. I really need to find a week where I can hole up in a bubble and crank out pages. I've got the basic road map down, but I need the time to make the journey.

And you say, "But you don't have a real job, how come you're so busy?" or "If you really wanted to do it, you'd make the time," and I say, Of course! But my kid takes priority over all of that. Why do you think I'm so tired? I've been staying up waaaay too late every night just to find some quiet time to write in. And I know it's worth it. Good thing I'm a night owl type.

Upcoming things I'm looking forward to:

1. The kid's first ever drama class play. She doesn't have a major role, but she has seven lines that I can't wait to hear!

2. Working at more baseball games. We're doing it to raise money for our girl scout troop, so this is always at worthy thing to do. And strangely enough, I've discovered I enjoy being a Beer Wench. Finally, a skill I can fall back on. If every attempt to get published falls through, I can always tend bar. I would, however, prefer to do it at an establishment that doesn't use plastic cups (can you say "sloshy?")

3. Day Camp training weekend. I'm not sure if I'm going to be one of the chaperones on this trip, but if not, I'll have two solid days to write while Lulu is off learning how to be a camp counselor.

4. The next Honor Roll assembly at school, in a few weeks. Lulu made First Honors again, and I can't wait to go and cheer her on again.

5.The chorus concert. Lulu's first major chorus concert, since we were out of town for the Christmas concert last December. Unless she changes her mind, it will also be her last chorus concert, since she's ambivalent about signing up for next year. It is a lot of work, and it's a serious chorus where they expect all the members to participate fully. She doesn't want to spend that kind of time on it, and I can't argue with her. It has been a lot of driving and a lot of time in rehearsals, etc.

I think that's pretty much it for the next month or so, but I'm content to know that all the time I spend doing things for her helps her be the great kid she is. If my writing suffers for it, or if my sleep schedule gets tossed out the window because of it, it's all worth it in the long run. I have priorities. Writing is definitely high up on that list, but it will never be as high as my kid. Or the Helper Monkey, but he can pretty much take care of himself.

Oh, and because I was willing to give up a little of my precious writing time today, Lulu and I both ended up with ice cream from Jimmie Cone.

She doesn't look happy, but that's because I'm taking her picture. Not because of the ice cream.
For those not located in Central Maryland, Jimmie Cone is a local institution. They turned 50 this year, and they're only open during the warm months. We patiently wait all winter just to get our first Jimmie Cone of the season. If you like soft-serve ice cream, you should make a pilgrimage to the original Jimmie Cone in Damascus.* Yum, yum!

Chocolate milkshake with M&M's!

So when I think about it, sometimes I'm really glad I get pulled away from writing once in a while!

*Note: I went into labor with Lulu about an hour after having a Jimmie Cone at the Damascus shop. That place always makes me smile!

Friday, April 6, 2012

I walked how far?

We walked nearly 10 miles yesterday, if you figure in distances walked inside buildings, museums, gardens, etc. Google maps said it was 8 miles, but we must have walked an additional two between the botanical gardens, wandering around the monuments at the Tidal Basin, and inside the National Gallery of Art. My legs are so stiff today that I'm hobbling around the house. I'll be lucky if I can move at all by tomorrow, after 8 hours working the concession stand tonight. My legs won't straighten all the way, so I suppose we should call it a concession hunch over, rather than stand.

Bad jokes and physical torment aside, we had a great day. My cell phone died around 2 pm, but I took a bunch of pictures before then. I think the battery would have lasted longer if I'd remembered to turn off the Google Plus uploads. It eats battery to upload pictures every time you snap one, and I took 39 before I realized my error.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Union Station, still recovering from last year's earthquake.

We noticed a lot of buildings covered in scaffolding, including the interior of Union Station. There was a net all across the main terminal building to prevent any falling debris from hitting travelers. The National Gallery's East Building was also stripped of a lot of its marble facade so brick work beneath it could be repaired.

The statue atop the Capitol building was caged in scaffolding.

Tulips at the Botanical Gardens
I love tulips. I used to grow them all over my front yard at our old house. I tried planting them for a few years here, but as soon as they bud, the deer come along and eat them. I end up with a field of green sticks. I gave up on tulips in my own garden, so any time I see them thriving like this, I have a fit of jealousy and take a picture.

Lulu adding a wish to the Wish Tree
Yoko Ono installed this Wish Tree in the Hirshhorn Museum's sculpture garden. We all added wishes.

Smithsonian Castle
I love the Castle. It's so incongruous on the National mall, the lone brick building among classical marble and modern architecture. And it has a carousel out front, which I was forced (sort of) to ride. After a minute on a carousel, I always think, "Ok, that's enough. Any time you want to stop now." I don't like going in circles, apparently.


Japanese Stone Pagoda near the FDR Memorial
We went to see the cherry trees, even though they bloomed a few weeks ago. We still took the ranger tour, and learned about the other gifts from Japan around the Tidal Basin, including this stone pagoda.

Best part of my day
Every day, I write a little note on Lucy's napkin in her lunch box. I didn't realize she'd done that on my napkin until I opened my lunch. And yes, I dug tissues out of my bag so I wouldn't have to use this napkin.

I was so mad that my phone died before we got to the rest of the museums, but the main exhibit we wanted to see didn't allow photography anyway. It was a display of 30 silk panels painted in the 1750's in Japan. It was really beautiful, depicting birds, animals, and plants with incredible detail. The exhibit has never traveled outside of Japan, and is rarely even displayed there. Since it's only here for a month, we were really lucky to see it. We also ran out of time to see the National Archives, which made me sad, but I've been there before, and I can go back any time I want. It's not like it's going anywhere.

So I got absolutely no writing done yesterday. I had a berjillion emails to sort through when I got home. I've finally managed to get myself seated in front of the computer today, and I have to leave in about 3 1/2 hours. I did manage to wrangle tomorrow down to a half day of work, but I'm still falling behind. I really have to get back to my regular schedule. At this rate, that won't happen until September! :)

Still, I wouldn't trade yesterday for anything, aching feet and all. Why? When I asked Lulu what her favorite thing about the day was, she replied, "Everything." It doesn't get any better!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Weekend of Multiple Engagements

Today was my last day of peace and quiet for the rest of the weekend. I was determined to finish my edits on the second novel in my series. I succeeded! Hoorah!

I'm now torn between re-reading the first 39 pages I had on book 3 before I halted to handle a rewrite on the first book, and then the edits on the second (to bring it in line with changes made in the first), and giving myself a break for the crazy, hectic few days ahead.

Tomorrow, we go to DC for the day, and I'm really looking forward to everything about it (other than waking up before 6 am).

Friday is Opening Day at the Frederick Keys, and I'm cash manager for one of the concession stands. It's all for charity, but there are 80 home games, and I'm expected to work about a quarter of them. I have a feeling I'm not going to sign up for this detail again, but we'll see how it goes.

Saturday at 8 am Lulu and I are working at a pancake breakfast at a local senior living home.

Saturday afternoon, back to the Keys for game 2 of the season.

Sunday, you guessed it, back to the Keys yet again.

I'm gonna smell like fried chicken and beer. Ick. But I'll smell like fried chicken and beer for a good cause.

With all that coming up, I'm not really itching to get started on an essentially new project. When I start a new novel, even though I'm already 39 pages in already, I really want to sit down in an uninterrupted fashion and bang out the basic plot over the course of a week or two. I don't think I'll really be able to focus on it until at least Monday. I am seriously not pleased about it, which I think is a Good Thing.

If I'm this upset about losing my uninterrupted writing time, it must mean I'm committed to it. When I'm not writing now, I feel...wrong. I can't really describe it. It's like I'm wearing pinchy shoes, or an itchy sweater. I just can't get comfortable until I start writing again.

Thalia's world is growing to the point where it's leaking out of me when I can't keep churning it out on paper (or in pixels). I suppose it is a Good Thing. Except when I can't spend the day writing!

At least I still have coffee. If I have to, I'll stay up late, get up early, and work through lunch to get some pages made this weekend. I'll take a bit of advice from my newest fridge magnet, which I actually have stuck to the hood over the stove:

Words of Wisdom.

Monday, April 2, 2012

*Ribbit Crrrrooak*

Yes, I am losing my voice. Reading out loud for two days will do that to you. I've read 204 pages out loud in the last few days, and it's really trying. I've been subsisting on toast and hot tea, hoping I can make it another 122 pages without going completely croaky.

I've still got to chaperone a field trip on Thursday, and nothing is worse than trying to keep a dozen kids together while on the loose in downtown DC if you don't have a voice to yell at them. Maybe I could bring an air horn along. There must be an app for that. (Time passes while I check into it...) Yes, there are DOZENS of air horn apps. That's a relief. I'll just blast any wayward kids if I can't yell.

Also, I can't believe the strange things I've found to fix just by hearing my own words out loud. I think the sense of sight and the sense of hearing (or even the part of our brains that controls speech) process things in different ways. I haven't necessarily found mistakes, per se, but things that could have been written more clearly, or more concisely, or more precisely. I'm never going to let a manuscript out of my hands again until it's been through the read-out-loud test. Best advice I ever got.

I'm glad I finally got over my reticence to hear my own words in my own voice. It was embarrassing at first, because other people could periodically hear me reading it out loud (Helper Monkey and Lulu both have spent time in the room while I've been reading), and because somehow hearing my words out loud somehow made them more real.

I'm not a shy person. I'm not afraid to say what's on my mind, usually. But this is just weird.

I've cringed at the thought of other people reading my novels. I've cringed at the thought that those people will then want to talk to me about them. For some reason, despite not being afraid of saying most anything that comes into my head, letting other people in to meet my imaginary friends scares the crap out of me. I've poured myself into my writing. Knowing other people are reading it is nearly as bad as walking around naked and asking people to comment on my little show. Scary!

But it's what I wanted when I started writing. We'll see if I ever get over that weird feeling.

Also, I finally made a real commitment to writing as a career choice. I ordered business cards. I was going to post a picture of my card here, but then I realized it had my home address, phone numbers, and email address on them. I don't think a random public blog is the right venue for all that information. I took the photo and blurred out the details I don't feel like sharing with the known universe.

How official!

Time to take out the trash. The literal trash. Gotta go, or I'll feel like a lazy bum for not helping.