Monday, November 30, 2009

New Toys and Digital Organization

My printer died a little over a month ago. So I braved the Black Friday crowds to get a new one. Normally $120, on sale at Best Buy for $65. I waiting till the afternoon, and it was a fairly painless process. Surprisingly enough, setting it up was also painless. I hate wires, so it connects to my wireless network. It's a scanner and copier too. One of my projects is scanning all my papers so I can get rid of them all, so I'm back to work on that tonight. I asked my accountant, and he said to keep 5 years of originals of tax documents, and scan the rest. I have my tax papers from my very first minimum wage job when I was 16, working at Lion's Choice. That's 14 years of tax documents. Yikes. Will be nice to get rid of most of them.

I also had all my photographs scanned a while back, and have finally gotten them organized into folder by event. I have a box of stuff from high school, and some old photographs of my family (as in, grandparents and before...I mean old photos) that I need to scan still. But slowly my pile of stuff I never look at it growing smaller. It's a great feeling. One reason is, I just feel better not having so much "stuff" around. Another reason, is it's good planning. What if there was a fire? If I have everything scanned, I can just grab my laptop, and my dogs of course, and run, and not worry about losing important stuff. Sure, there are a few "things" I'd miss, but for the most part, everything is replaceable except photographs and documents.

Another thing that drives me nuts is wires all over my computer desk. I had a wireless keyboard and mouse, but there was still a wire to plug the receiver into a USB port. I finally got a mouse with just a USB plug, no wire, and a bluetooth Apple keyboard. I'm loving my new, wire-free setup. My desk is so much more organized.

It's been a productive weekend of getting my digital files organized. There's still a lot to do, but I've made a dent in it. Not much writing was done this weekend, but sometimes you need a break. Tomorrow is the last day of NaNoWriMo, and I'm going to the final write-in, even though I'm done. I'll work on reading through Ravaged Heart and figure out where I need to go with that one. That will get me back on the writing track. My writing group is also meeting Saturday, so that will be another good writing day.

I'm going to scan 2 more things to get myself to a good stopping point, then head to bed. It's way too late as it is. Good night all!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, a little late

I didn't get this up Thursday...was too busy sleeping and stuffing myself and putting up my xmas tree. Normally I put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but I have to work this year, for the first time ever.

I found this great blog post by Neil Gaiman's personal assistant. Now before you jump on me, I'm not a scrooge. I love spending time with family and friends. But I also love spending time by myself. I thought this post brings a little perspective to how many of us treat the holidays. So I'm sharing the link to it.
So remember that yes, the season is about spending time with loved ones, but it was not intended to be about running yourself ragged, and it was definitely never meant to be about consumerism where you dig yourself a hole so deep to buy the latest greatest thing for your kids/friend/significant other. Spend time with them. But don't kill yourself, and don't go into debt for it. This year, I'm not spending much on anyone. I enjoy buying things for people, so a select few will still get a small item that says "I care about you, I was thinking about you, and thought this was totally awesome for you." Even my little cousins, who I normally spoil rotten, won't get much. They don't need anything, really, but they're kids, and they love getting stuff, so a few small things for them.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here's what I'm thankful for (in no particular order).
My family
My friends
My dogs
My writing group
Writing 50,000 words during November, even if I don't like the result
Having a steady paycheck
Having a roof over my head
My NaNoWriMo buddies
My Kung Fu classmates (even though I'm currently on hiatus due to lack of money)
My writing ability
Having enough money for food, heat, the essentials
Not having lost my vacant house to the bank (yet)
My parents' generosity, without which the above item would probably not be on this list.
My health
My cake baking/decorating ability
The life lessons I learned in the past year
Learning more about myself in the past year

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Night of Writing Dangerously

Every year NaNoWriMo hosts the Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco. ( I dream of going one year in the not too distant future. This year St. Louis decided to host its own NoWD on the same day and time (well, ours was a few hours earlier to make up for the time zone difference.) Sunday night, we invaded MoKaBe's and took up over half of the upper level, consumed vast amounts of coffee, and wrote copious amounts of words. Well, some us wrote copious amounts of words. I hear others didn't write much at all and instead spent 6 hours socializing. I socialized, but also wrote 4112 words while I was there. This was on Ravaged Heart.

Our fabulous Municipal Liaison decided to make this a fund-raising event, but the donation was optional this year. We raised $121 Sunday night alone! How exciting is that?!

So why should you donate to NaNoWriMo? Why is it important to a bunch of crazy adults? Well, it's a non-profit organization. And the people who run it need to pay to keep the website up and running, and the electricity in their offices, and some of them even like to eat and pay rent. But to me, even more important than support us crazy adults who give a month of our lives each year to noveling, is to support the kids who do it. There's a Young Writer's Program ( that encourages kids to write, and NaNoWriMo donates goodies to the classrooms that sign up for this. And, writers are also readers, so it indirectly encourages kids to read as well as right. That in and of itself is a very worthy cause to donate to.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

So, lots of fun was had by all. I realized, however, that I need to reread Ravaged Heart and make lots of notes in the process. There are parts I inadvertently skipped, and I think I started the novel far too late in the story time line. Where I am now, at somewhere around 50,000 words, is much closer to the end than another 40,000 words will allow me to be. So I need to start sooner, fill in some key plot points I missed. Reading and making notes will make that so much easier to do. So that will be my task for this week.

For all you NaNoers who haven't reached 50K yet, keep going! One more week. I know you can do it! For those of you who have reached 50K, congratulations! One more day until we can validate and get our purple bars. (How perfect is it that winners' word count bar turns purple once they're validated?) And for the rest of you who just think I'm insane for this, well, thanks for following me on my journey. I didn't reach my goal of 100K, but I'm starting to come to terms with that. I have words written - perhaps some will even be salvageable - and I have research done that will help on another novel that is in the early stages. A novel I get to be a collaborator on. Very exciting, yes? Yes. This one will be a side project, as I'm going to focus on a final round of edits for Divided Heart, sending out more query letters to find my agent, and finishing up Ravaged Heart. (Is that all?) But it will be there nonetheless.

What's that? You want to know what this collaborative effort is? A few days ago John came to me with an idea for a novel. Keep in mind I hadn't told him anything about my NaNovel, just that I was doing NaNo. So when he told me his idea, and asked if I'd help write it, I was surprised that it was about half of what I was trying to do with NaNo. He's writing it, but I'll help with research, ideas, editing, finessing. It should be a blast.

Oh yes, there's also the little matter of writing more poems and essays for the second volume of In the Moment (release date TBD...we need content first). So my writing plate is very, very full. I need to clone myself so I can send my clone to my day job, while I spend all day writing and editing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Halfway There and My First Tattoo

It's November 16, and I haven't posted in a while. NaNo, and life, have gotten in the way. Sorry all, but if I have to choose between word count for the day, and a blog, well, word count wins. So how am I doing? On Saturday I hit 50,008 words!! Officially I am a winner, but I'm still only halfway to my personal goal of 100,000. I'm still on track for it, even though I didn't write at all yesterday. That's the nice thing about having a bit of padding. Though that padding is all gone now, so it's back to the grindstone tonight.

Yesterday I had the joy of raking leaves from the yard of my vacant rental house. The front and back yard were covered with 3 inches of leaves. At least I'll only have to rake once this year. Sadly I only got the front raked, so once it stops raining and dries out again I'll have to rake the back. Seriously contemplating paying someone to do it, even though I really shouldn't spend money on something I am physically capable of doing myself right now. Vacant rental house = poor me (poor as in no money, not woe is me)

After raking, I went to the Old School Tattoo Expo ( here in St. Louis. I've been thinking about getting one for quite a while, but honestly didn't intend to get it yesterday. I didn't even think any of the artists would have openings spur of the moment. But they did, so I got the tattoo I've been thinking about for over a year. A quill pen with an ink pot. I was nervous when I asked the artist (Jason from Designs by Dana - they're from Cincinnati, and very good) to draw it up. I came back 20 min later, and it was beautiful! He transferred it to a stencil (I forget exactly what they call the transfer they use...the transfer the outline to your skin so they don't freehand it on your body). Then he transferred it to my left shoulder blade. I went to the bathroom to look at it in the mirror, and I loved it! Then when I sat down I had to take some deep breaths to calm down. I was now very nervous! John said I'd be stupid not to be. After 5 tattoos he said he still gets a little nervous. It's a big decision, after all, permanently etching your body.

The outline was the worst. That hurt like a . There were times when I wondered if he was just slicing into my skin instead of tattooing it. But I took it well. No tears of pain leaked my eyes. I gritted my teeth and took it like a champ. Even Jason said I did very well.

Filling in was easy compared to the outline. Don't get me wrong, it still hurt, especially over particularly bony areas. But a little over an hour later and it was all over. Back to the bathroom to check it out, and it is gorgeous!! The next day and I'm still happy with it. No morning after regrets for me. I'm already thinking about what I'll do next. I have a couple in mind. These will be smaller than my first, and less complex. But they can wait a while.

So, I have my first tattoo. I have 50,000 words for my NaNovel. How is the novel going? Well, obviously the word count is there. Quality? Hmmm. I have my work cut out in editing, and let's leave it at that. I can't decide if I planned too much or too little. I think too little, because I keep finding myself stuck as to where my plot should go next. Another problem is my characters haven't come alive like they did for my NaNovel last year. I think after November I'll stick with that series. The characters are so much more alive to me. But there are still 15 more days. I might have a breakthrough yet. I still like the idea, the execution just needs some work. I must admit, I can't wait to get back to Ravaged Heart though. I never have gone back to the novel I put on hold for NaNo last year, and I was a little worried RH would suffer the same fate. No fear though, I'm even more excited to get back to it than I was when I had to stop writing due to this thing called life getting in the way for a few months.

One thing I know, this one (The Future is Past) will most likely get a new title. It changed so much from the original plan that this title just doesn't quite fit as well.

What's that? You want to see a pic of my tattoo? Oh, alright. Here it is. I'll post another one in a month or so when it's all healed and not so red and angry looking.

and PS...I hope my parents don't read this or my Facebook page before I get a chance to tell them. They're going to flip out anyway, and hearing it from me might make it a little easier. But they're away on vacation, and I'm too excited about this to wait to share it with all of you. Mom and Dad, in case you see this before I talk to you, I love you! Please don't be too mad. I thought about it really really hard. Promise. Look at it this least I didn't get another motorcycle.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Sorry all, I had to change comments so they're not open to everyone. You'll have to enter your name now. Got my first bit of spam commenting...definitely not something I want showing up here. Stupid spam bots.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 5

20,464 words. That was 460 ahead of where I needed to be. Now I'm behind, because I haven't written a single word yet today. I'm getting to it. Really, I am. It's not even 8:00 yet. Plenty time. Technically I only need 3000 words to keep up, though I'd like to get more. It really shouldn't be a problem once I start writing. I'm just procrastinating right now. In my defense, I had a busy afternoon. Re-inspection of the house (it passed, yay!), grocery store, eat dinner, 20 minute power nap, feed the dogs, then procrastination started. So I figure, why not post a blog entry, then I'll have no more excuses to procrastinate. Except getting more coffee. :)

Last night was a write-in at a new place for us. Wired Coffee. It was great! Not freezing, like Barnes and Noble, great food, and fabulous coffee. Tonight I'm at home. Hopefully cute puppies won't distract me too much. Headphones will go on so the TV in the other room won't distract me (darn NCIS, I love that show. In fact, darn USA Network in general. They have too many good shows.)

Tomorrow I'm off to Chicago to see Emilie Autumn (have I mentioned how excited I am? And the other awesome thing about the trip - besides that it will be made with my best friend - is there are Dunkin Donuts in Chicago!!! I will be bringing home a bunch of donuts and a box full of Munchkins.) We're driving back after the show, so it will be a late night. Saturday taking my cousin out for her 11th bday to see the new Christmas Carol movie. Ugh. I don't want to see anything xmas related until after Thanksgiving, so sitting through a 2plus hour xmas movie, in 3D, with Jim Carey of all people, well, let's just say I REALLY love my cousin. Though after the late night, I might just take a nap during the movie. It might be better that way. When you have a version of A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart, do you really need any other? I thought not.

Now I'm really procrastinating by boring you with my babble. So I'm off to refill my coffee mug, then to start pounding out my words for the day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Current Word Count: 13,731

I am 2 days ahead. Which is good, because I won't get much, if any, writing done Friday or Saturday this week. Friday I'm driving to Chicago and back with my best friend to see Emilie Autumn. Saturday is my 11 year old cousin's birthday outing, the only completely unavoidable obligation of the month. So I need 2 days padding to make up for the weekend. Missing the time writing will suck, but seeing Emilie Autumn will be so worth it. One of the most talented musicians I've discovered in a while.

Yesterday was filled with writing. Two separate write-ins, but unfortunately all the Bread Companies in the city closed an hour early, so we got kicked out at 7:00. I had 10,632 words by then, and planned to write more when I got home, but that didn't end up happening. But I have met my goal of being 2 days ahead. So I'm allowing myself a break to write this blog. I may try to write more tonight. I said I was going to write 4000 words tonight. That's because I'm not good at math and guessed that's how much I needed to get 2 days ahead. But more padding won't hurt. We'll see how long I can stay awake after taking a break.

Tomorrow will be another write-in. I do pretty well writing from home, but my super cute puppies can be a bit of a distraction. Tiberius sticks his head in my lap, begging me to pet him, and Emmy wags her tail at me looking super cute. It's impossible to resist. Just means I get my word count a little slower than I would otherwise. But they're totally worth it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 1

Started at midnight last night. First went to see Queensryche, got my picture taken with Lita Ford, and got her autograph. Waited in the cold for autographs from Queensryche, but they took forever coming out and I had to leave. Made it to the NaNo party with 3 minutes to spare. In 2 hours there was lots of writing, and even more talking. It was a little distracting, but I didn't put my headphones on and joined in the chatter. I still wrote 3449 words, though I'm not sure how good they are. We'll find out in December. For now I'll just keep writing. 5 hours of write-ins today, plus whatever I do on my own. To reach 100,000 words, I have to write 3333 a day. Already have that, so I should get a nice, safe pad of extra words today.

I got about 6 hours of sleep, woke at 9, cuddled with the puppies, made some scrambled eggs, checked e-mail and Facebook, am blogging, and will then get coffee and commence with more writing. Already doubt is setting in with "how on earth are you doing to write 100,000 words on THAT??" but I'm not listening. Just keep writing.

To all your NaNoers out there, Happy November 1st, and Good Luck! Don't give up! Keep writing, even if you think it's utter junk. Come December, I bet you surprise yourself with how much it doesn't really suck. (at least, that's what I'm hoping for!)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Little Over 6 Hours...

And NaNoWriMo 2009 will begin! I need to hop offline soon and get ready for Halloween festivities, but wanted to post one last pre-NaNo entry. Life has gotten in the way of all the planning I had hoped to do, but I have a general plot idea and have been working on my characters a bit, so I feel ready enough to go. It's the most planning I've ever done before writing a novel. I'll have a bunch of research to do come December to flesh things out and make sure I'm not just making random stuff up, but I've done all I can for the time being.

Tonight I'm going to see Queensryche. Then I'll head to the Municipal Liaison's house for her Halloween/Kick-off party. It will be social until midnight, when everyone will pull out the laptops and start writing, from midnight until 2AM. And I'm more excited about Daylight Saving Time than ever, because that means I'll get to write for 3 hours, not just 2. Then home to sleep, then more writing tomorrow. Write-ins from 2-4 and 5-8. I'm very excited!

Well, I'm off to get ready for the night. Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone, and for all you NaNoers, Good luck!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Retreat Day 2

Yesterday was fantastic. We started with breakfast, then wrote until lunchtime. I got research done, and finally figured out who my bad guy is, so now I can continue with my plot planning. We took a long walk after lunch, then more writing (well, research/planning for me.) After dinner came back to the room to do some of our old fashioned timed writings. I wrote a short story that I will edit and submit to some magazines, see if I can get it published.

Now we're almost off to breakfast, then more writing, then lunch. We have to check out by 11:30, but we talked about putting our bags in the cars and hanging out in common areas a bit longer to prolong the day. This has been such a fabulous weekend of writing and bonding, I don't want it to end.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Writing Retreat Day 1

We got here about 3:00 and I couldn't be happier to be here. It's so beautiful with the leaves changing colors. It's very relaxing, and the food is delicious! We have a loft room with a balcony overlooking the lake. Perfect setting for writing.

One of the group has gone to bed, the rest of us are still awake. Sarah and Mary are talking about their iPhones. Sarah, our technophobe, recently got an iPhone and is loving it. I think it will ease her into the techie world a bit. Tina is working on her laptop, as am I. Once I finish this I'll go back to reading "Vampires, Werewolves and Demons" by Richard Noll. I've only gotten through the Foreword and Introduction, and Introduction to the section on demons so far. It's a gathering of psychological case studies of patients supposedly possessed (or suffering vampirism or lycanthropy, but I'm focusing on possession). Since my NaNovel will center around demons, some real life case studies will be an interesting, and hopefully information, read. I've also been reading up on the Key of Solomon, demonology in general, and will begin reading the Book of Enoch soon.

I picked the brains of my fellow writers for ideas on what the "bad guy organization" of my novel could be all about. It's quite a central part to the plot, so I need to get that figured out. I can't get any further in my plot until I figure out who they are and what their goal is. I have some ideas on who they are, and perhaps their goals, but am still not quite clear on it all. Hopefully I will be able to do enough research, and the correct research, to lead me to the answers to this conundrum before Nov. 1.

8 days to go....

My boyfriend tells me I got a package from Houston today, which should be my box of goodies from my NaNo swap partner. Drat!! I have to wait till Sunday to open it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


It's odd...if you asked me, I wouldn't consider myself a leader. I wouldn't consider myself a follower either, I'm more a free spirit. But I guess in a way I am a leader of sorts. If I see something that needs to be done, I'll take charge on it, because too many times I've seen things go undone because no one wanted to take responsibility. Sometimes potentially fabulous things.

What brought on this realization? The person teaching my urban fantasy workshop suggested that we start an online critique group amongst ourselves for once the workshop is over. I've gotten some great advice so far, and thought it would be a great idea. Well, a couple people have said, "Yeah! Great idea!" but so far no one has done more than that. So I decided to organize it myself. I want to see it happen. I know it will benefit me, and I'm sure it will the others as well. So I sent an e-mail to the list asking people to let me know who's interested, and I'll organize and I guess sort of run the thing. Not that I'm going to be an omnipotent leader or anything. I definitely don't want that responsibility. But if it takes me leading it to get it done, then so be it.

Me, a leader. Who'd have guessed? Not me, that's for sure.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Blog to Check Out

Another NaNo thing I'm doing is mentoring a couple of newbies. What does that mean? Since I've done it before (albeit only once) I have an idea of what to expect, so they can ask me any questions, and I'll answer them to the best of my ability, and we'll also cheer each other on during November. I'm mentoring 3 newbies, and it's been a lot of fun so far "meeting" different people. One of them is even in St. Louis, another as far as England!

This is the blog of my St. Louis, um, mentee? What's the right word for that? I'm going with mentee, and yes, I know it's not a real word. It's very well done and her writing style is great. I'll pass along her warning that the first page has music, but the rest don't.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My NaNo Buddy

Say hi to Tish, my NaNo swap buddy. I added her blog to my favorite blog list, but here it is front and center for you to check out. I love her sense of humor, and we're really getting along! Maybe someday we'll even get to meet in real life.... But for now, here's her new blog!

Plotting Pages

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Musicians I Write To

You get a bonus double post tonight. Aren't you lucky? :) (I've had this one mostly typed up for a few weeks now, just hadn't posted it yet.)

I can't write to music with English-language lyrics (Portishead seems to be the exception...they're one of my absolute favorites). So I look for either lyric-less, or foreign language. Lately my tastes have been leaning toward harder music. German metal bands are my favorite of the moment. First I'll list the bands I've been writing to since the start of NaNo, then those I write to in general.

Emilie Autumn - Unlaced (no lyrics, her other stuff all has lyrics. Well, Laced doesn't, but classical hasn't been fitting the mood for this book.)
Danzig - Black Aria and Black Aria II. Fabulously creepy.
Nightwish - Dark Passion Play instrumental disc
Nox Arcana
Midnight Syndicate

Also going to try Brian Eno and see how it fits for this novel. He hasn't come up in the playlist yet though. I also might add the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, since parts of my novel center around Jerusalem, and the music is beautiful.

Softer Music
Emilie Autumn - Laced/Unlaced album
Sigur Ros
explosions in the sky
Godspeed! You Black Emperor
Dead Can Dance (but not the songs where the male is singing.)
Lisa Gerrard - I absolutely love her voice!
Azam Ali
Sacred Spirit (Native American)
Dream Catcher (Native American)
Ulrich Schnauss
Lord of the Rings soundtracks
300 soundtrack
Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack
Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV
Conjure One - the songs without lyrics anyway
Pure Moods 1-4 (songs without lyrics)
Midnight Syndicate
Nox Arcana


Eisbrecher (German)
Oomph! (German)
Rammstein (German)
Moonlight (Polish)
Unreal (Russian)
Danzig - Black Aria and Black Aria II are instrumental albums

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

There's a thread on the forums about your survival kit. I thought I'd post mine here on my blog so you can get a little look into my writing life.

Scrivener (writing software)
Moleskine notebook
Papermate Profile pen, preferably in purple
index cards for character profiles
thumb drive to back everything up
coffee - lots of coffee
Whoppers (my power food)
wrist bands or arm bands or fingerless gloves
hoodie so I don't get cold - can't write when I'm cold
backpack to carry it all
(optional depending on my mood) knit cap

That's about it. Though in reality, if I were stranded on a desert island, all I'd need would be, well, lots of notebooks and pens. I'd say all I'd need it my laptop, but when the batteries died, I'd be out of luck. So notesbooks and pens, and water. Though coffee would be really really nice to have.

And now I'm off to do more research. Or maybe character profiles. I'm feeling a bit lost as to where my plot is going, or even what it is. Maybe if I get a better idea of my characters it will help me figure out my plot.

Oh, I was going to print out the questionnaires and write them out but I can't. Why? My printer died. It sure chose a convenient time for that. (I'm not bitter, really.) I think I'll be breaking out the credit card. I don't print that often, but when I do, man, I need it. I'm feeling lost right now. (I said that above, didn't I? Sorry for the repeat, but it's the overall feeling at the moment.)

Workshops and NaNoWriMo

This is better than Christmas as far as I'm concerned. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo) starts in less than 30 days. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, during the month of November. Do you win anything? Not really, just the knowledge that you wrote 50,000 words, or more, and a group of new writing friends. This will be my second year participating. Last year I went in with nothing more than "a young detective goes undercover to investigate a cult." I knew the main character's name, and that was it. By November 15 I had my 50K. By November 30, I had 87,000. By December 1, Divided Heart was complete at 90,000 words. I've since edited it and started it's sequel.

This year I've done a bit more planning. I have a synopsis (though it very well may change once I start writing) and I'm working on character sketches right now. I even have a working title: The Future is Past. I can't wait to start writing it.

So every year on October 1, the folks who run NaNo take down the website, clear out the forums, update the site, then relaunch it to much fanfare. This year they took it down in the afternoon. We NaNo-ers waiting with baited breath. At 10:00PM central time, they updated their twitter feed saying the site should be back up in an hour. I was tired, wanted to go to bed, but was more excited for NaNo, so stayed up. 11:00 went by, no new site. At 11:30, I finally gave in to sleep. I had a dream that night I woke up the next morning and the site still wasn't back up! First thing I did when my alarm went off was grab my trusty iPhone off the bedside table and pull up the site. A sigh of relief accompanied the discovery that it was, in fact, relaunched. So I've since been chatting with other NaNo-ers and joined a couple of swaps.

The first swap I joined is where you get paired up with one other person, and you swap goodies, no more than $20 in value. What must you have to write? Candy? Stickers? Funky pens? Trade lists, and make a new NaNo friend in the process. I'll probably go shopping for my buddy this weekend.

The second one is a music swap. You get paired with 3 other random people, and you make a CD of 18 (if music CD) or 50 (if data CD - mine will be data) of your favorite songs for writing. I love finding new music, and sharing some of my more obscure tastes with others, so I joined 2 swap groups (the max). I can't wait to get my 6 CDs and discover new music.

So why is NaNo so exciting? It's the challenge of writing so many words in a month while holding down a job and managing a household. It's the fun of meeting new people, online and in real life. The fun of gather with the "real" people at weekly write-ins, talking about your stories, commiserating about writer's block or the monkey wrench your main character just threw into your plot. It's the slap-happiness that accompanies nights of little sleep while your story carries you through to the wee hours of the morning on an intense writer's high, or at the end of the month when you struggle to get those last few thousand words (though I haven't experienced the latter.) It's the joy of meeting up with the NaNo folks from last year, who you haven't seen since the TGIO party in December (Thank God It's Over) in October to drink coffee and talk about your plans for this year's novel. And of course the fun and celebration of victories and defeats at said TGIO party the first week of December.

The first NaNo even this year is this Saturday when some of us will meet and drink coffee and discuss our plans. I can't wait! The official pre-planning party is Oct. 24, when I will sadly be out of town. Sadly, because I'll miss the party, but happily because I'll be on my writer's retreat, a much needed weekend getaway with my writing group.

So yes, for me, NaNo is better than Christmas.

And now you wonder, why the heck did she put workshops in the title of this post? Because this month, in addition to preparing for NaNo, I'm taking an online Urban Fantasy workshop. I don't have much to report about it just yet as we've only had 1 lesson, but it's taught by Jeanne C. Stein, who write the Anna Strong vampire series. I've only read the first book, but it was fantastic, and I have the second sitting on my desk waiting for the time to pick up.

I'm also taking a cake decorating class every Tuesday this month. It's a very packed month for me, and November will be full of writing, writing, and more writing.

Writing Quotes

Here are some of my favorite writing quotes, in no particular order. Well, the first 2 are 2 of my very very favorites, but the others are in no order.

"The Muse cannot resist a working writer." -Ray Bradbury

"Reading and weeping opens the door to one’s heart, but writing and weeping opens the window to one’s soul." –M.K. Simmons

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." -Anton Chekhov

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." -William Wordsworth

"I do a first draft as passionately and as quickly as I can. I believe a story is valid only when it's immediate and passionate, when it dances out of your subconscious. If you interfere in any way, you destroy it. ... Let your characters have their way. Let your secret life be lived." -Ray Bradbury

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” -E. L. Doctorow

"Shut up and write" -Natalie Goldberg

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -Ray Bradbury

"The coroner will find ink in my veins and blood on my typewriter keys." -C. Astrid Weber

"An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere." -Gustave Flaubert

"I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die." -Isaac Asimov

"If I were told I only had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." -Isaac Asimov

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." -Jack London

"If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you." -Henry Rollins

“I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.”
 –Frank Lloyd Wright

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
 -Mark Twain

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -Mark Twain

"Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." -Gene Fowlern

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition” - -Graham Greene.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” - -Saul Bellow

"You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for adults, you write it for children." -Madeleine L'Engle

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for." -Ray Bradbury

Monday, September 7, 2009

Novel Slow Going - thank you life

Thanks to stressors in my life over which I have no control, Ravaged Heart is still going incredibly slowly...mostly because I've had a hard time making time to write, and when I do my brain is so scattered I have a hard time focusing on anything. I'm currently at 43,000 words, which not even half of what I want the finished novel to be. Yes, I know, write to tell a story, not to make a certain word count, but let's face it, novels typically need to be a certain length if they are going to be marketable. So I need about 90,000 words, give or take (preferably give) a few. I wanted to finish this before NaNoWriMo, which is less than 2 months away. I'm not sure that's going to happen. However, the weekend before NaNo begins is my writing group's weekend retreat, so I'm not giving up yet. A full weekend of writing should lend itself to massive word count.

Two weeks ago I printed out what I have written and read through it on paper. Sometimes helps to do that rather than read on the screen. Made some minor edits, but mostly just reread to refresh my memory and hopefully get the juices flowing again. I think it worked, but I'd know better if I had more time. There are scenes/plot points I need to add. I'm currently in the middle of a fight scene, so I should be able to pick up and keep going with it. Stopping in the middle of a scene often helps, because at least I can just continue what I was working on the day or week before, rather than starting a whole new chapter with a blank page staring at me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm Global!

I use SiteMeter to track hits on my blog. It's had hits from Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Brazil, and Germany recently. In the past it's had hits from England, and I think a few others I've forgotten. How cool is that! If you're one of these people, leave a comment if you want, let me know how you found my blog. Heck, no matter where you're from feel free to let me know how you found me. I'm curious and excited to hear about it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Washington, D.C. part 2

Friday we slept in and headed to the National Archives once we were up at about. We got there around 11:45, but the next showing wasn't until 1:30 so we decided to skip it. Then we headed to Ford's Theater, then across the street to the house where Lincoln died. Then lunch at ESPN Zone, then on to the International Spy Museum. That was really cool, but it was too crowded. They had interactive displays, and there were just too many people to get to play with most of them.

Since vacations are supposed to be relaxing, we went back to the hotel for a while and I took a short nap. Then we drove back to DC to Union Station where the Moonlight Monument tour was leaving from. We should have taken the metro again as we got a bit turned around, and traffic out there is ridiculous. We didn't have time for dinner before the tour as we had hoped. We had seen most of the monuments already, but it was cool seeing them at night all lit up. We got some great pictures of the nighttime view of DC. We also got to see the Vietnam Memorial which we hadn't seen yet. I had seen it 12 years earlier when I was there with school, but wanted to see it again. I found the name of someone my Dad had given me to look up, his childhood neighbor's husband. If you don't know how the wall is organized, they have a book at the beginning with everyone's name in alphabetical order. You look up the name, and it has a number next to it, such as 35W 61. that means it's in the 35th panel on the west side, on the 61st line. Very easy to find the name you're looking for. We also got to see the nurse's memorial.

Saturday we again slept in a little, then back to DC. We saw the Museum of Natural History, which was so cool. After that back to the hotel, grab the car, and head to Baltimore. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Again, traffic getting to Baltimore was ridiculous. The line at HRC was ridiculous. Hour and a half wait. But, while we were at the HRC in DC we bought a membership all access card, which gives you 10% off, and lets you skip to the front of the line. So we were seated in 10 minutes. The card doesn't, however, make the chefs cook faster, so we had a long wait for our food. Because we were running behind, and knew how awful traffic was, we didn't get to drive past Charm City Cakes. That was a little disappointing, but I'd rather have made it to the concert on time. We got there just a few minutes before Queensryche took the stage, so we made the right decision to skip CCC.

The Dream Theater Meet and Greet was at 7, so we unfortunately missed most of Queensryche, since we had to get in line by 6:45. What we did see was great though. For the M&G they first sent everyone through line to have their picture taken. Then we went through a second time to get something autographed. I got a Tshirt signed by the whole band. I was starstruck, and didn't say much beyond "hey, how's it going." It was almost better than xmas for us. So cool to get to meet our favorite band.

The next band up was Zappa Plays Zappa. It's Dweezil and others doing Frank's music. I was skeptical, but they were absolutely amazing. If you ever get a chance to see them, do it. They are all so talented. It was a great show. Then of course Dream Theater. We were second row center. Could almost reach out and touch them. So amazing. One of the best concerts of my life. They played a lot of their new music, and it was fantastic. It was the perfect end to a fabulous week.

Sunday we again woke early and started the long drive home. We made it home around 10PM, and while we were sad the trip was over, we were happy to be home with the kids again. Tiberius was super excited to see us, and Emmy had gotten noticeably bigger in the week we were gone. Kitty was Kitty, happy to see us but properly aloof at the same time, as cats will be. It was nice to sleep in our own bed with the kids, though if Emmy gets much bigger we're going to need a king sized bed to fit us all.

Washington, D.C. part 1

I wrote this last Thursday while we were in DC. but since the hotel didn't have wifi didn't get to post it. This week has been crazy catching up on stuff at home, so this is the first chance I've had to get this up.


This week has been fantastic so far. John and I woke up early Monday morning – earlier than I get up for work most days – and drove to Washington, D.C. We took our time, making stops for lunch, dinner, bathroom breaks, looking for an Amish Flea Market that turned out to only be open on the weekends. We made it to the hotel sometime around midnight. Nothing fancy, just a Days Inn, but it has a bed and a shower, which is all we really need. Not to mention a 7-11 across the street for Coke Slurpees and a Baskin Robbin’s/Dunkin’ Donuts next door. I miss Dunkin Donuts in St. Louis, and there are far too few Baskin Robbin’s.

Tuesday we slept in, then hopped a bus to the Metro station at the Pentagon and rode into DC. (We’re staying in Arlington.) From there we went to the National Air and Space Museum which was the one thing I really really wanted to see while we’re here. I’m a space geek, and getting to see all the NASA artifacts was absolutely amazing. Words can’t describe what an incredible experience it was for me. After that we walked around looking at monuments. Washington Monument – unfortunately all the tickets were sold out so we couldn’t go up in it. World War II Monument was incredible. Lincoln Memorial has way too many stairs but is impressive. Korean War Monument – did you know the statues’ faces are sculpted from photographs of real soldiers? Then on to Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Then back to the hotel.

By this time my left knee was hurting and I really needed to rest. It was also 90+ degrees that day and we were exhausted. We stayed at the hotel the rest of the night. I took a nap, we ordered pizza in and were just lazy.

Wednesday we woke up early again to make it to the Capitol in time for our 9:10 tour. I must say I was disappointed in the tour. We couldn’t take many pictures, we had to stand in one place while we listened to the tour guide talk, and it was very short. One nifty thing was we walked past the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate. Why is that cool? He’s the only person in the country who has authority to arrest the President. From there we stopped by our Congressman’s office (Troy Akin) to get tickets for the Senate and House Galleries. While there we commented on our disappointment in the Capitol tour, so one of his interns took us on a more in depth tour. That one was impressive. We got to see the old Senate chambers, which later became the Supreme Court chambers, got to take all the pictures we wanted, and just had more time in general to see more of the Capitol. Thank you, Mr. Aiken’s intern whose name I forgot for a great tour.

Before that, however, we had lunch at Tortilla Coast, a fabulous restaurant on Capitol Hill. After the second Capitol tour we went to the Supreme Court for a “tour.” It wasn’t so much a tour as a 30 minute lecture. We sat in the court and listened to a woman talk for 30 min. It was pretty boring and very disappointing.

By this time our legs and knees were showing signs of giving out, so we decided to get dinner then head back to the hotel. We walked to the Hard Rock Café, then took Metro back to Arlington, and spent the rest of the night lazy at the hotel.

Today it was up early again for a tour of the Pentagon. That was a good tour and very interesting. Our guides were great, had a good sense of humor, and very informative. We walked about a mile and a half just on that tour. Then we toured Arlington Cemetery. Kennedy’s grave with the eternal flame, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and changing of the guard. That was a very moving ceremony. Arlington House (memorial to Robert E. Lee) has a gorgeous view over DC. Our knees and legs were still tired and sore, so we went back to the hotel, grabbed the car, and went to lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery. Delicious food, I had lemon chicken and white cheddar mashed potatoes, but the beer wasn’t anything to write home about. Then we drove to Iwo Jima, then back to the hotel for a nap.

Feeling much refreshed after a nap and shower, we headed out to Blues Alley Jazz club to see Hiromi’s Sonic Bloom. Hiromi is a fabulous jazz pianist, and her band is very talented as well. The show was amazing, and I had fantastic crab cakes for dinner and a bottle of overpriced champagne. We opted to leave before the second set. I would have loved to see them play more but we wanted to walk around Georgetown for a while. We found the steps from The Exorcist and ran up them, then had a drink at The Tombs, the bar from St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s a nice, unassuming place that I could see myself hanging out at if I lived here. I had a summer tea, which is sweet tea with vodka. Most bars in St. Louis err on the side of caution (or stinginess) when making drinks, and you would never know there was alcohol in the drink. Not The Tombs. I could taste the vodka, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The drink was fabulous, but I only finished half. Then back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we’re going to see the International Spy Museum, Ford’s Theater, National Archives, then we’ll see from there. Going to take a Monuments by Moonlight tour tomorrow night.

Saturday we’ll probably drive down to Mt. Vernon and have an easy day. Queensryche goes on at 6:00 so we’ll hit the concert by then. The show is in Columbia, MD, about an hour north of Arlington and close to Baltimore. Since we’ll be so close to Baltimore, we’re going to make a side stop to drive by Charm City Cakes. Unfortunately they don’t allow random people to stop by and tour the bakery, which I completely understand, but if we’re so close I at least want to see the bakery of the man who inspired me for my second hobby (next to writing.) Maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of Chef Duff through the window. Then backstage at 7:00 to meet Dream Theater. So excited and can’t wait to meet them and see the show.

Now, it’s off to bed for me. The hotel doesn’t have wifi, and the network cable in our room doesn’t seem to work, so I might not get this posted until we get back to St. Louis. Night all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Puppy Sleep Deprivation

New puppies mean waking up a million times in the middle of the night. For the first few weeks Emmy had to go out every 2 hours. Which meant we were very tired. John and I take turns taking her out, but even so, when she wakes up whining to go out, it wakes me up whether it's my turn or not. So between that, and taking her out a half dozen times in the evening, it made for a very tired me. And she's just so darn adorable all we want to do is play with her. So no writing got done.

Then we had our monthly writing day 2 weekends ago, and I got back in the writing groove. I'm still not writing as often as I'd like, but at least I'm back to it. The monthly write-in was tonight with the people who do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) here in St. Louis. I wrote about 2000 words, but they were very hard-won words. I worry that when I go back to read them again I'll axe most of what I wrote. I have a lot on my mind right now, and my head just isn't in a good place. I know where the plot will go, but not how to get there, so I fought and fought, and had I now know it would be bad for my laptop, I would have banged my head on the keyboard repeatedly. It was one of those night. Thankfully they are rare for me, but when I look forward to something as much as writing days, and it is such hard going, it's very frustrating.

I also have to go to physical therapy 3 times a week for my knees. My left knee has been hurting for no discernible reason. My right knee hurts because of a partial tear to the PCL I got in a motorcycle accident 6 years ago. I figured since I was going to get the left one fixed up, I may as well work on the right one while I'm at it. So between a full time job, PT 3 times a week for an hour each, plus doing my exercises twice a day, Kung Fu 2 nights a week, puppy training class once a week, I haven't had a lot of time, and when I do, I've been pretty exhausted. It will pass though, and life will get back on track. Must stay positive.

Speaking of NaNo, it's 4 months away. That should in theory be plenty of time for me to finish Ravaged Heart, so I can start November with a clean slate and a new novel. Not sure what the next novel will be yet, but I really hope I get this one done in time. The point of NaNo is to start a new novel, and I don't want to put this one on hold if it isn't finished (at least a rough draft), but I want to be able to participate as well. So wish me luck and lots of inspiration between now and then.

And 3 weeks from now I'll be in Washington, D.C. Because of the aforementioned "things" on my mind, I am unable to make my trip to China. Too costly right now, and I have to pretend to be a responsible adult. DC will cost a fraction of what China would, so the last week of July that's where I'll be. Going to see Dream Theater and Queensryche on Aug. 1, and have backstage passes to meet Dream Theater, get autographs and a picture with them. So excited. I'm tempted to pull the old high school trick and hang a countdown calendar on my desk at work. Yes, I may have recently turned 30, but I rarely feel nearly that old. It's all the mindset. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Growing Family

Last Sunday John and I went to Petsmart to get kitty litter and other miscellaneous kitty supplies. We came home with this:

C.A.R.E was there doing their adoption day. I've looked at many puppies at many Petsmart adoption days and always left empty handed. But it seems if I have some encouragement, that steel will goes right out the window. There was a cage with 3 puppies, 2 bigger than the other. We tried to pet the little one, but the other 2 kept pushing her out of the way. John told the volunteer that he wanted to see the little one. I knew this was a very, VERY bad idea. You can't hold them. If you do, it's all over. So he held her for a while. Then he handed her to me. Oh dear. Then he asked if I wanted her.

"We really shouldn't."
"But do you want her?"
"We really shouldn't."

It went on like this for a while. As it was going on, I was still holding her. I should have known better. But I had to try to be responsible. I failed. Finally:
"Do you want her?"

And it was all over. So yes, it was a bit of an impulse adoption. But I've thought about what it would take to have another dog, the work it will take, and all that stuff, so it's not like we're going into this blind. And we're very happy with her. Maybe even more important, Tiberius absolutely adores her. He's the best Big Brudder. She's 4.6 pounds, he's 86. He's very gentle with her. He lets her chew on his tail. And when she wakes whining in the middle of the night in her crate, he hurries over to make sure she's ok. He is thrilled to have someone to play with besides the cat, because while kitty will sometimes play with him, more often she runs and hides. Emmy is always ready to play with her Big Brudder. They love each other and get along great, and she's so sweet and adorable. So I'm very happy with the decision to bring her home. I'm also very exhausted. Waking up every 2-3 hours in the middle of the night to take her outside to potty is tiring. I can't even nap when I get home from work, because Tibs and Emmy are making too much noise playing, and I don't want to put her back in the crate since she's been there all day. So I catch a few mini-naps when she's sleeping and drink lots of coffee. I haven't had any time to write this week, but that's what comes along with a new puppy, and that's ok.

Emmy is sleeping under my desk right now and Tibs is next to my chair. Very cute.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Updates to My Website

I added a page to my website. You can now read excerpts from some of my work. Right now there is one essay from "In the Moment" and one unpublished poem. I will add more as time goes on, and will post here whenever I do. Feel free to leave comments here about what you think.

On a separate note, Ravaged Heart is coming along nicely. The official word count right now is 16,000. I hope to write more tomorrow, but tonight am a bit too tired for anything besides technical website stuff, and even that has taken what is left of my brain power. I'm not a web designer, but I can take a template and tweak it to include my own content. However, I haven't found a good web design program for the Mac (I haven't looked too hard either though), so for the basic changes I've been making, I'm doing straight text editing in an .html file. Hurts the eyes after too long. So if you know a good free or cheap program for Mac, please let me know. Something similar to Dreamweaver would be nice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writing and Working Out

I joined a gym. I decided I needed more activity than just Kung Fu twice a week. More aerobics. My cardio is horrible. I can barely jog a mile. So I decided to take an aerobics class at the gym. I'm in worse shape than I thought. Five minutes into the warm up I was huffing and puffing. But I stuck through the whole hour. It was a great workout. Keep this up and I'll be running a marathon in no time. OK, not really. I have no desire to run a marathon. But I'll be in better shape. The workout left me pretty tired. "They" always say not to workout before bed, because you won't be able to go to sleep. I understand the theory of the endorphins or whatever running through your system, but I never have that probelm. A good hard workout and I'm ready to pass out. I took a half hour power nap on the couch after a shower, then got to work writing. 1500 words. I'd like to write more, but I'm tired, and my head hurts a little. I think I'll play with the puppy for a while then see how I feel. But still, 1500 words is good progress. I still don't quite know where the novel is going, but every time I write it flows out easily, and I just can't get enough time to write.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cutting Chapters Already

I had about 9000 words on the new novel. I was trying to figure out how to bridge a time gap. Then I realized I didn't need the first few chapters and had to cut them out. So there went more than 2000 words. Wrote a little more, realized I could salvage some of what I cut, just in a slightly different manner. So after an hour of cutting, re-adding, and writing, I'm back to 8500 words. I also spent some time yesterday freewriting on what I think the main plot of this novel should be and have a much clearer idea of where it might go. I say might, because as Divided Heart showed me, my characters have their own ideas and take the story in entirely new directions that I never imagined. Can't wait to see where they'll take me in this novel.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Projects

I finished editing my paranormal novel, which now has a title. Divided Heart. I've sent out 6 queries so far, and received 1 rejection. That one came within less than 48 hours of e-mailing it, and said "please know that I give serious attention to every letter, outline, and writing sample I receive." When an agent receives dozens upon dozens of queries a week, I'm not sure how they can give that much time to each one in less than 48 hours. Oh well, nothing to be done about it. I'll just keep sending more. I have a very good feeling about this novel, and know it will be published.

I also began writing the sequel, which amazingly enough already has a title. Divided Heart was written, edited, revised, edited some more, revised some more, and it still didn't have a title. So it is surprising that this one had a title when I had only 1 chapter written. I don't even know what most of the story will be. I know bits and pieces, and more is forming in my head, but ask me to write an outline of it and I'll stare at you with a blank face. The first one had no plan until I was typing, and that's how I think this one will be too. But that's alright by me, I like being surprised by my characters.

Oh, you want to know what the title is? Ravaged Heart.

My writing group's monthly meeting was this past Saturday, and it was a very welcome meeting indeed. As always, I got a lot of writing done and received some very helpful feedback. We also discussed some business ideas. More details when they're ready to share. I can say we will be putting together another anthology of poems and essays. No publication date yet though, as it's in the very early stages of planning. Other exciting things were discussed as well. So stay tuned.

And now I'm off work on more query letters, and the new novel.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Editing 99% complete

I just finished reading my novel aloud to myself. There is one chapter that needs a bit of tweaking, and one place I need to do a bit of quick research to clear up some facts, but I will have that done tonight. Now I'm ready to write the synopsis and query letter, and start trying to find an agent. WooHoo!


Respect. Why is this so hard for some people? I went to see J.D. Blackfoot at the Sheldon Concert Hall last night. He is a classic rock legend (well, should be a legend anyway) who got his start in St. Louis thanks to KSHE radio. He is an incredibly talented singer and songwriter, and loves his fans. The show last night was incredible, but there were some incredibly rude, disrespectful "fans" in the audience trying to ruin it for everyone else. His early albums, The Ultimate Prophecy, The Song of Crazy Horse, Tokala, are rock epics. His later albums tend to be softer, acoustic, introspective, poignant and sometimes humorous looks at life. Two very different types of music, but neither is better than the other.

Last night he played some songs from his forthcoming album "The Story of Texas Red." The format of this album will be him telling a short story, then singing a song inspired by that story. Story, song, story, song. So that is how he sang the songs on stage last night. J.D. has a deep, booming voice that would make any storyteller jealous. He brought the stories to life, touched my heart with them. Well, some "fans" did not agree. They only wanted to hear the rock songs from his early years. They didn't care about story telling. So when J.D. was on stage relating these stories, they thought it would be alright to talk loudly through the whole thing. A couple times J.D. simply sat in silence until the quieted down, then continued on with the story. More restraint than I might have shown. This went on for 2 or 3 story/song sets. Finally someone in the audience had enough and shouted "Shut the **** up." Maybe not the most eloquent phrasing, but it got the point across.

J.D. is an artist. He puts his heart and soul into his music and stories. Just because he may not be playing the exact song YOU want to hear, please listen and show some respect. Or if you really don't want to hear it, leave the auditorium and have your conversation in the lobby.

One of J.D.'s best songs from his later years is "Missing You in St. Louis." It is about the Vietnam War and friends lost. The war was before I was born, and no one in my family was involved, but I can't listen to that song without tears coming to my eyes. Last night J.D. invited the Marine Color Guard to the show. Four brave men in uniform carried the Marine and US flags, and 2 rifles, and stood on stage during the song. A man in the row behind me talked the entire time. I almost turned around and told him to show a little respect for those who have risked and given their lives for our freedom. Again, why is respect so hard?

Finally, toward the end of the show, J.D. did something truly amazing. He took perhaps 15 minutes to talk about friends, family, and fans who have died in the past year. He had several empty seats in the audience in honor of them. He acknowledged each and every one, and their families who are still here and were in the audience last night. Again, this brought tears to my eyes, even though I didn't know any of the departed. After about 15 min of this, however, one restless "fan" shouted out, "Play some music!" I wonder if he would have been so rude if any of the departed had been his family?

The show was excellent, even if the "fans" were rude, disrespectful, and downright got on my nerves. I hope J.D. continues making music and sharing it with us for many years to come. I will go see him every opportunity I can. I only hope his so-called "fans" show a little more respect at the next show. Artists work hard pouring their hearts and souls onto the page, the canvas, their instruments, to entertain us. If they wander from the norm a little bit, please indulge them. Please show some respect for what they do. So much of what they do is for us. We should give a little back to them to show our appreciation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almost Finished Editing

I have about 10 chapters left to edit. That sounds like a lot, but I write short chapters (usually 1500 words or less, which is only a few pages.) I will be able to complete that this weekend. Then it will be time to begin researching agents, write the query letter and synopsis, and send out queries. For me, the query letter and synopsis are the hardest parts of writing a novel. You have to condense the whole thing into 1-2 paragraphs (for the query) or 1 page (for the synopsis.)

I'm still trying to figure out a title for the novel, which I will have to do before I can send out any query letters. Tina wants to see a synopsis, since she's only heard a small part of the novel so far, and she's going to help me come up with something. Titles are my weak point in writing.

I've also decided the genre is urban fantasy. It isn't as heavy on the mystery aspect as I initially thought it would be, and the more urban fantasy I read lately, the more I realize that's what this one is. I think it's a pretty hot genre right now, so hopefully that will be in my favor.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Memories of Marie

Today is the anniversary of my Grandma's death. I wrote this almost a year ago, and am posting now in honor of her.

Two weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, my Grandma passed away. It was two days before her 92nd birthday. She lived in a nursing home for nearly ten years, and the past year she was in and out of the hospital four times. Her death wasn’t entirely unexpected, but of course that doesn’t make it any easier. This was my mom’s mother. My dad’s father passed away when I was a baby, and I don’t remember him. My other grandparents died before I was born, including my mom’s father who died on December 23, and was laid out on Christmas day, when my mom was only twenty.

Grandma is the first person close to me in my family who has died. I’ve been to funerals before, but with one exception, they were all for distant family members I did not know. She and my mom shared the same birthday – March 25 – so the wake was particularly difficult because it was held on their birthday. This was the first wake at which I was part of the grieving family. It was an exhausting five hours, filled with the sadness of seeing my Grandma in the casket, the mental exercise of trying to remember the names of all my mom’s cousins who I have met in the past, but don’t remember, and the emotional exercise of trying not to cry too much, because if my mom can be so strong as to not cry, surely I can be, too.

I met Grandma’s good friend and long time neighbor for the first – and likely only – time. Grandma used to talk about Doris a lot. She didn’t drive, so Doris drove her on errands, to church on Sundays, shopping and Bingo. They even went to Hawaii together. It struck me as incredibly sad that I never met someone so important in Grandma’s life until her wake.

That thought brought forth full force the regrets that had only been poking through my heart until that moment. I wish I had spent more time with Grandma. There is so much I don’t know about her – such as why did she only have one of her two sisters in her wedding? – that now I never will. Sure, I spent time with her. We spent every holiday with her, birthdays, and I almost always went with my mom when she took Grandma to run errands. But I wish I had asked more questions, cared more about Marie and not just Grandma. Everyone keeps telling me I was a wonderful granddaughter, and Grandma wouldn’t change anything. Logically, I’m sure they’re right, but it will take time to believe that emotionally.

Grandma loved playing cards. She played Pinochle with her friends, and probably Bridge, but with me she played Kings in the Corner and Dummy Rummy, Crazy 8s and Old Maid. I remember giving Grandma manicures, filing and painting her nails. I remember one Christmas when I was in high school. Uncle Ron and Aunt Debbie (my mom’s brother and sister-in-law) gave me a basket from Bath and Body works. It contained a bottle of nail polish that perfectly matched the burgundy sweater I wore. I opened it and painted my nails then and there.

Every Easter Grandma got a large, rectangular communion wafer from her church, which we would break and share before Easter dinner – sometimes at Grandma’s house, sometimes at our house. I remember Easter egg hunts in Grandma’s yard, and sitting on her couch next to my cousin Matthew afterwards counting our nickels and quarters and candy, and maybe a dollar bill or two if we were lucky.

Every time Mom and I took Grandma on errands, she pulled out her coin purse to give us a few dollars before we left, and always told us to “tell Bill hello” if my dad wasn’t with us.

Grandma had a round ottoman in her living room. I liked to turn it on end, sit on it and roll across the floor on it. I remember a bowl of M&Ms on her coffee table, conspicuously void of any red ones, because of the scare that the red dye caused cancer. I remember playing with Grandma’s makeup. I never put it on, but loved to open the compacts and tubes of lipstick to look at the colors.

Grandma’s bed sat at an angle to the corner of the wall, and I would climb behind it during games of hide and seek.

The first time I did laundry was at the Laundromat near Grandma’s house – which is now a bakery near my house. I did not realize when I bought my first house it was only a few blocks away from where Grandma lived.

I remember when Grandma moved to the nursing home. I went with my mom to clean out Grandma’s house. We spent time looking through Grandma’s wedding albums, then the parents’ version of my mom’s wedding album, which Grandma had in a drawer. It was smaller, not the full album my parents have.

Grandma’s house was small – two bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, eat-in kitchen, sunroom, and unfinished basement. I never thought about there only being two bedrooms, yet one boy and one girl in the family. My mom later told me the sunroom was her brother’s bedroom, equipped with heaters for the winter, and fans for the summer months.

It is these small memories to which I wish I had paid more attention, for most of those I just wrote, I only now remembered. How many other small yet wondrous memories will I never recall?

The funeral was harder than the wake for me. It was not so easy to hold back my tears. The day started at the funeral home, where we said our final goodbyes. We each took a flower from the casket arrangement and lay it in the casket with Grandma. The night before, at the wake, I tucked the birthday card I made for Grandma into the side of the casket. At the cemetery, I took a yellow rose from the arrangement to press and put into my memory box. After that we went to Our Lady of Snows Shrine for a family luncheon. Even through our grief, the food was excellent. Grandma would have loved it. She always loved food, and ate well until her final days.

I went to Grandma’s grave today. It was a brief visit, only a few minutes, but I wanted to stop by, leave a fresh flower (the arrangements from the funeral are still on her grave, wilted) and tell her I miss her and hope she’s proud of me. I do miss her, but I’m happy she is at peace now, with her husband Leo again after thirty-seven years, and know that someday I will see her again.

I want to end with a quote. For my 8th grade graduation, Grandma gave me a greeting card. Within the card was another card, the size of a credit card, which had a painting of clouds and a quote on it. I have carried this card in my wallet ever since, and will keep it always.

"Whatever you dream, dream with all your heart - Whatever you try, try with all your heart - and happiness will be yours."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Writing Day

Yesterday was our monthly writing day at Tina's. As always, it was an awesome day, though we missed Mary, who injured her leg and isn't getting around very well at the moment. We talked, wrote, shared, ate. I got some more editing done. My self-imposed deadline of the end of March is nearing quickly. I think I will make it, but it will be close. No more TV for me the rest of the month. Well, aside from Ghost Hunters and Ace of Cakes.

As always my group gave me great suggestions for improving the chapters I read. They are wonderful at picking out the little things that just don't add up. Things that as the writer you are a little to close to to be able to find yourself. I am so thankful for my writing group.

We're still trying to plan our next weekend retreat. It's been a year and a half since we had one. We had it planned for the weekend of May 8 this year, but I wasn't going to be able to be there the whole time, if at all (it's my bday weekend) and Tina realized she will be out of town anyway. So it's back to the drawing board to find a date. It's hard to find a whole weekend when all 5 of us busy women are free. But we'll make it work.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My New Blog for Cakes

I mentioned a week or so ago that I started decorating cakes. I started a new blog to show pictures of my cakes, and information about ordering cakes from me (if you live in the St. Louis area.) If interested, please take a look and feel free to leave comments. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natalie Goldberg

Monday night I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite authors, and my favorite author of writing books. Natalie Goldberg wrote Writing Down the Bones, the book that my writing group uses often to spark our timed writings. She has also written many other wonderful books. She was speaking at Left Bank Books to promote the paperback release of her latest book, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.

Left Bank Books is a smallish independent bookstore in St. Louis. The place was PACKED. It was mostly women in the crowd, but there were a few men as well. Hearing Natalie speak and read from her book was amazing. She's such a neat person, and her real life personality is pretty close to what I expected from her on page personality.

After about an hour of speaking, reading, and Q&A she signed books. I had "Writing Down the Bones" and "Thunder and Lightening" signed. It was a very cool experience. If you ever get a chance to see her, GO! I hope to someday have the opportunity to participate in one of her workshops in New Mexico (where she lives.)

My favorite answer from the night was when someone asked Natalie how she gets inspiration for her memoirs.

"I fell in love with my life."

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I did it. I dropped my deposit check in the mail today. I'm going to China. Sept. 19-29. I applied for my passport last week, but had to wait for the next paycheck to make the deposit. Things are in motion.

Why China? Grandmaster Eric Lee is hosting a tour. My Kung Fu teacher went last year and said it was an amazing experience not to be missed. The price is right, my boss is letting me have all the time off work for it (though it will use all my vacation for the year), and I've never been out of the country. What better way to start than China, and getting to train at the Wudang Temple for a few days? Yes, the place where they filmed the final scene in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. We'll visit Canton, Hong Kong, Wudang Mountain. The itinerary isn't set in stone yet, but that's the gist of it.

I'm really excited about this, and also a little nervous. I don't know of anyone else from my school who is going, so it's likely I'll be in a foreign country with a language I don't know and a tour group full of people I don't know by myself, mostly likely sharing a hotel room (it's about $400 more to get a private room). That's a little scary to me, but I'm looking forward to it. We'll have a tour guide the whole time, so language won't be an issue.

This is even more incentive for me to step up my own training, starting now. 3 or 4 full days, and I mean full, first thing in the morning to just before bed, training at the temple will be intense. I need to prepare myself for it as much as possible so I can last. An hour and a half class twice a week can be intense, so I really need to get myself in shape. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Editing and Cakes

I started reading my novel aloud to myself this weekend and made good progress on it - 15 chapters. I'm still happy with most of it, but haven't gotten to the parts that I know need some work yet. That might slow me down a bit when I get to those chapters, but that's what editing is all about.

I also got through 2 more chapters last night. I didn't get to do much, because I had a splitting headache when I got home from work so slept for a while. I also had Kung Fu last night. I hope to do some more editing tonight before Ghost Hunters comes on, but am not sure if I'll have time. I have a chiropractor appointment after work. Throw in walking my dog and doing a bit of my own exercise, and I might not. But I'll try to squeeze some in.

I also made a cake for a birthday this weekend. Back in the day, Target used to sell cakes. You could watch them decorate the cakes through glass. When I was 5, I wanted to be a cake decorator when I grew up. About 8 years ago, I bought a few books, some icing tips, and decorated a cakes for my mom's bday. It turned out nicely, but I didn't do any more decorating. Fast forward to now, and my addiction to Ace of Cakes. It's a show on Food Network about Charm City Cakes and Chef Duff Goldman. They make the most gorgeous, amazing cakes I've ever seen. I decided to try my hand at working in fondant. If you don't know, fondant is kind of like stiff play-doh in consistency, but you can eat it. So I made a fancy cake, and it turned out really well for my first try. I had a blast making it. Now I'm trying to think up every occasion I can to make more cakes! That's the bad thing about having cake decorating as a can't just do it whenever you want to, because then you're stuck with a cake to eat!

So I had an idea that maybe I could do a mini part time thing from home making cakes for people. Nothing big, but a few people have already shown interest. One coworker wants me to make a cake for his son's bday. Maybe someday this will grow into something more, maybe not, but in the meantime, it's a creative outlet that won't cause me to gain hundreds of pounds, and I might make a little extra cash on the side. But don't worry, it won't keep me away from writing. Writing is still my number 1 love.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gothic Workshop

So far I really enjoy the gothic novel workshop I signed up for. This is the 3rd of 4 weeks. I admit I had no idea what a gothic novel really was, so I'm learning a lot. Through the exercies, I am forming the idea for another novel. It will have to go on the back burner after the workshop, though. Too many other projects are more vocal in my head.

I have set myself the goal of finishing the edits on my paranormal mystery by the end of March. If I keep my butt in gear, this is realistic. Unless I decide it needs major revisions, of course, which at this point I don't think it does.

Once I finish this (and hopefully have a title for it!) I think I will work on the rewrite of The Moonlight Cafe. That, or I will begin the second book in the paranormal series. I know how that one will begin, and it is ready to go. We'll see where the Muse takes me when these edits are complete.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The past few weeks I've been sick a lot. It started with sinusitis. I thought it was the flu. Got some antibiotics for it and was laid up in bed for a few days, then spent another many days recovering and being tired. Then was better for a few days. Then got gastro-enteritis (I think that's how you spell it.) The doctor thought the antibiotics wiped out the good bacteria and let other stuff take over. Whatever happened, I was miserable. I was out of work for a full 3 days. So between all that, I got no writing done for a few weeks.

I planned on taking Sunday to work on my novel and begin the readthrough to myself. Those plans fell through. For reasons I won't go into here, my kung fu teacher, Matt, is starting his own school, along with another of the teachers, Kevin. They needed to move all their equipment out of the old school on Sunday, and since I have a pick up truck, I offered to help. It turned out to be an all day ordeal and I was wiped out by the time I got home, so no work on the novel was done.

I must say I am excited about the new school. Kung Fu classes will remain as they are, but there will be additional offerings such as Tai Chi. Lion Dance will not have such a grueling practice schedule, so I will finally be able to join that if I choose. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, but have to weigh the time it takes with what I need for myself and writing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Changing it Up

When I started this blog, I wanted to keep it focused on my writing journey. However, that's not the only part of who I am, and when the writing is going slow, so does the blog. So I'm going to add some more variety here.

One new thing related to writing, though, is I signed up for an online workshop about Gothic novels. It's a 4 week course. While I'm not writing a Gothic, I thought it would be helpful with the paranormal aspects of my second novel (which I still don't have a title for. Argh.) This is the first online workshop I've taken, so we'll see how it goes. Writer's Digest has quite a few I'd like to take, but theirs are more expensive, so I wanted to try a cheaper one first to see how I like the format before committing a couple hundred dollars to a class. It starts this week, and I'm excited about it.

The other major part of my life (outside of my family of course) is Kung Fu. Not quite 4 years ago I started studying Shaolin Kung Fu. I studied for about a year and a half and made it to the 5th chamber, black sash. There are 35 chambers. I then decided to stop training. There were several reasons for this, the main ones being lack of time and a desire to devote more time to writing. It was a difficult decision, but was the right one at the time.

Last July, I decided to go back. My teacher welcomed me back to the school. Unfortunately, I had forgotten most of what I learned before so had to start over with my training. I feel I am now close to being ready to test for my black sash again. (Kung Fu works backwards from karate - you start with black and work your way up to white sash.)

Two nights a week now I have class for an hour and a half. My school is very intense. There is a lot of physical conditioning, which I need to work on more on my own time. I'm still weaker than I feel I should be. Horse stance is one of the fundamentals. Imagine sitting in a chair, but there's no chair. Now stay like that as long as you can. I bet you don't last long. To test for chamber 5, we have to do horse stance for 5 min. This is something I definitely need to work on more, as I can only hold it for a minute and a half. If I practice every day, and hold it for 5 seconds longer each day, I will reach 5 min in less than a month and a half. Now if I could just stay healthy long enough to have the energy for this, that would be something.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I'm re-dedicating myself to posting at least once a week. I added a new widget for my favorite blogs...blogger now has an official blogroll widget, so I transferred the list to that and added a few new ones to the list. Changed the quote of the week, updated my profile. Minor things, but they needed to be done. Next I'll work on revamping my website a bit.

There's a writing conference in Chicago the second weekend of February called Love is Murder...sounds about perfect for the paranormal fiction novel I'm editing right now. I would love to go, particularly because there will be a pitch session available, but my novel isn't quite ready to pitch yet, and I worry that I'm too late to sign up for the optional critique session. If I do go, I want to get all I can out of it. I'll probably pass and go next year.

Right now, I want to finish my paranormal novel (and think of a title for it! Just can't seem to come up with one) so I can go back to The Moonlight Cafe. I think it's sat long enough, and I'm once again excited at the thought of working on it. The thought of another major rewrite doesn't fill me with dread. But one thing at a time.

I would also like to work on some short stories for contests or publication (or both!) and maybe some nonfiction articles to publish. Not sure what the topic would be for the nonfiction or how to go about it, but I'd like to start trying to make a little money off my writing so I can begin my journey away from corporate american and towards a life lived with my passion.

Plenty to keep me busy, that's for sure!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Writing Day at My Place

Tina, Mary, and Sarah came over Saturday for our monthly writing day. Sylvie, sadly, couldn't make it. We missed her! As always, we talked for a little while then got down to writing. I organized my notes. Had character notes, copied them to index cards for easier access and easier expansion as I learn more about my characters. Did some resarch too. I'm at the point where I can't do much else until I do a bunch of research and reading. I do need to do my read through out loud to myself.

After writing, we had lunch. I made a chicken casserole which surprised everyone, because I don't cook. I can, I just don't. Don't like cooking for only 1 person.

Then we shared from our novels. As always, I got some good suggestions to improve things.

I think I need to do some freewriting on some of my characters to get to know them a little better. The main ones are fine, but some of the slightly more minor characters need a bit of fleshing out, I think. I'll mix that in with my research so I still get to write stuff.

I also submitted the first chapter of The Moonlight Cafe to Firebrand literary agency. They're doing what they call "query holiday" until Jan. 15. Just e-mail the first chapter and they'll read it. If they like it, they'll respond by Feb. 1. If not, they won't. Yes, I need to revise it, but maybe they'll like it as is. Can't pass this up. You never know what might happen.