Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Race to the Finish Line

THERE IT IS! I am so close that I can see it, looming large and bold. I gave myself a month to finish my rewrite. Tomorrow is my last day to accomplish that. Will I make it? I think I just might. If I do, it's going to look something like this.

By the skin of my teeth. I'm very lucky. When I went through it with pens and post-its, I took detailed notes on the changes that I wanted to make. Things are flowing very well. Life got in the way but several things are working to my advantage:
1) Those good, detailed notes.
2) I finished stronger than I started. There is less revising to be done in this last third.
3) I am a night owl, but I work well in the early mornings on coffee. I can take advantage of all hours.

I have until 5pm tomorrow night to finish the last 70 pages. It is flowing so well that I don't feel I am rushing things too much. If I felt that I was compromising the writing, I wouldn't do it at this pace. However, when I dive into that forest, the story comes racing up to me, grabs me by the hand and we're off! I only have until 5pm because I'm meeting Les Girlz for dinner and Eclipse! We're not dressing up (that will be reserved for Harry Potter), but we have so much fun seeing it together. I'll be too worn out from my night out by the time I return around midnight to get any further writing done and I'm educating on Thursday and Friday. That finish line is sooooooooo close. I'll at least be reaching out to touch it by the time I leave tomorrow evening. It's very exciting.

And then...print it out, read it through and rewrite some more!

How did everyone else do this month? Did you MIS - Make It Shine?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Magic Isn't Enough

I guess the magic that came off my fingers onto the keyboard wasn't enough to help poor little Patches. My mom say goodbye to her kitty yesterday morning. She's now pain free and running over the Rainbow Bridge with all the unwanted, unloved ones from the shelters. She's teaching them how to hiss, swat and spit at strangers for their own entertainment, I'm sure. It's funny when you first make that lifetime commitment to a pet, it seems like forever. I am sure my mom would tell you that fourteen years was not enough to spend with her precious little girl. Patches was the runt of a litter whose mother had been hit and killed by a car. She was a bottle baby, hand fed by a shelter volunteer in her own home. Patches and Cinder were the last two of their litters and were, at the time, a bonded pair. When I met them, their foster mom told me tales of Cinder fighting her way to the food bowl, then waiting until Patches had eaten her full. She was her protector. As Patches grew, though it wasn't to more 9 pounds, she no longer needed Cinder to fight for her. They also were no longer as bonded. They fought, as sisters do. Patches claimed the bedroom, snuggling with mom every night. She would come walking down the hall around 11pm, complaining loudly to mom that it was bedtime and she was waiting on her. If mom tried to oversleep, she would bite her nose until she woke up. Towards the end, there were no more bedtime cries and no more morning wake ups. She spent most of her time under the bed. Her last day, she and Cinder actually reconciled. They spent time together grooming each other, something they had stopped doing as kittens. Cinder even graciously left her wet food in the bowl for her weaker sister, though Patches was interested. She sniffed it out of courtesy, but passed it up.

Patches went peacefully and painlessly in my mother's arm, the way every dog or cat should get to go - secure and knowing they were surrounded by love until the end. My thoughts are for my mother this weekend and the loss that she has suffered. Each one takes a different piece with you but it doesn't make you want to share your lives with them any less. Mom got a sweet picture of the two that I will post later. For now, I'm going to go bury myself in my writing until my tears stop and I am happy once more. Thank you for reading. Hug your pets tight!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuning Out the World

I had a very productive morning. By now, you all know my cherished routine. Windows are open, breeze carrying the candle scent through the rooms, music is on. Lily may love the routine more than I do. She's not quite as productive, as you can see. She does love to sun herself, but lately she's been drawn to the music. When I put it on, she scratches at the door to be let in, hops up on the couch and drifts off to sleep. She makes me laugh! Especially when she starts to snore. She's quite loud.

But back to my productive morning...The hubster is off work today because he is on call this weekend. He took her out for a long hike this morning while I slept in. Then he dropped her off at home and went to meet his brother. I had the morning to myself and I spent it on one chapter. It was a chapter that needed work. I had to flush things out and it added to my story. I'm very pleased with it. Then my stomach growled to let me know it was time to eat so I'm pausing for leftover veggie chili (let me know if you want the recipe - it can be done with meat and it is the BEST chili I have ever made). The problem that I have is finding my way back to my story and my productivity after lunch. I have kept the music on and will relight the candle, but in the afternoons I hear the house calling to me - dust me, vacuum me, wash me. I'm not the kind of person who can dust the house, then settle back in with my story for a few hours, then vacuum the house, then settle back in with my story. I have to do all the cleaning or just stick with the writing, distracted as I may be with the house chattering in my ear like that annoying person on the plane who wants to tell you their whole life story even though you've cracked open a book to give her a hint that you aren't in the mood for being social with a stranger. It's four hours of listening to the house as it drones on and on. Lily, of course, will sleep through the whole thing. She might roll over onto her side but that's about all that it will effect her.

What I wouldn't give for a house elf today! Do you feel the tug of the real world when writing or are you able to tune all else out?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Away From Home

It's amazing where you can write when you put your mind to it. When you let your story in, there is no stopping you. I've found in the past few months that I can write on the back of a teaching schedule in a crowded lunchroom. Last night, I found that I can write at Mom's house on her computer long after everyone has gone to bed. I rock my iPod, open my manuscript and the story flows. I was only able to finish one chapter before it was time to head for bed (well past 1am) but I did it! This morning, the house is quiet for a few hours again so I'll be diving in. Mom always keeps my scented candles around for atmosphere, though last night I didn't want to burn them in her bedroom. She has a rather sick kitty who is trying to decide if it's time to say goodbye or rally for another year. No breathing problems, but I don't want to create any where there are none. Poor Patches has enough going on at the moment. She snuck out to eat next to me, walk around the house as best she could, then went back under the bed. All the while, I clicked away. Maybe the magic that flew off my fingertips onto the keyboard dropped little sparks that filtered their way under the bed to her, reviving her a bit. If only it were that easy, right? But I've wandered off the path again. I have discovered some wonderful things about myself through this writing journey - the story is in every room in every house and school! The story rides the train! The story runs around playgrounds with the children! All I have to do is call it over, capture it with my pen (or fingers) and off we go. It's very comforting to know that it's always there, in the shadows. Not creepy stalker like, but small child (or cat or dog) - waiting to be called over for some attention. I better not waste another moment. Mom's house gets quite busy and you never know when people are going to call.

Happy Friday everyone! May you have a fun, well balanced weekend - lots of fun, lots of writing, lots of love love love!

(Note: the picture has nothing to do with the post, it's just an adorable picture from the 1930s of a boy and his pit bull that mom has on her computer.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I debated putting that picture up. I loathe it because of ME (so kindly don't click to make it any bigger, my hips don't need to get bigger than that and I honestly can't tell you what I was thinking with THOSE jeans for my newly bigger body), but it really fit my post this morning. Lily looks great - she has such awesome focus. When I say 'watch me!', she does. She may glance away momentarily, but her eyes come straight back to me. We've been working on it while heeling recently and she prances. It's quite a sight walking down the street with her glued to my side, eyes on me, prancing (usually while some little dog goes all cujo on her lunging and barking). She's so wonderfully focused...most of the time. She does have walks where she'd rather have that sniff or we get to a corner and she sits...a good foot away from me. I can say, "Um, where am I?" and she immediately moves over, but not to where she absolutely should be. I've been having a lot of Lily "off" days. My focus is just off. I wish my WIP could talk and say, "Watch me!" to regain my eye contact. It's not that I'm struggling with the work. The story seems to be flowing nicely. Yesterday, I actually wrote on the back of my schedule in the teacher's lounge in between classes. I had good eye contact and was spot on Monday. Tuesday? Not so much. I feel like I'm at the curb and I just sat a mile away from my WIP. I've been struggling to stay on task today. It wouldn't be a problem to have an off day here and there, but this has been since the beginning of the month. I set a goal of finishing this rewrite at the end of June. I'm only 7 chapters in to this thing. By the end of the summer, I wanted this so solid, I was ready to work on query letters and elevator pitches. Sigh. I have to find that focus. I don't want for time most days. It's just using that time wisely that I struggle with. I get so frustrated with myself. One little sniff leads me far off the path. I look up and I'm in a completely different area, the sun is setting and the day is long gone. I've wasted yet another day on trivial things that didn't help my WIP or my life in general. There is just so much stuff to lead me astray. I'm out of town Thursday and Friday this week so today and tomorrow are important. Focus, focus, focus! I teach half the day tomorrow but that doesn't mean that I can't be writing on my breaks or that I can't come home and write after a nap. It also doesn't mean that I can't get a little rewriting done when I'm in San Diego for a few days. Setting goals usually does it for me, but right now that isn't working. Perhaps a smaller goal - weekly rather than monthly - would help? I don't know!

How is your focus? What do you do to get back on track when you've lost it?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

When True Blood Gets in the Way

We hiked Lily this morning to tucker her out for the day. Having a dog is all about management. Good owners know the old adage to be true - a good dog is a tired dog. They don't wear themselves out either. A yard doesn't exercise your dog. I may have been good at entertaining myself growing up by writing stories, but I certainly didn't run around the neighborhood by myself. I needed my brothers or friends. I wouldn't lace up those rollerskates and skate to those great Air Supply hits alone. Actually, I wouldn't do that with my brothers either. They would have been dead before being caught listening to Air Supply with their sister. Dogs are just like kids - leave them to their own devices and they're going to entertain themselves with whatever they have available whether it's your shoes or your new roses in the garden. Giving up a few hours to hike is not only good for us, our dog, our sanity, but it's good for our shoes and our garden. She sacked out and I did the last of the cleaning before running errands. I had a schedule to stick to today in anticipation of tonight.

I was counting down the hours until True Blood. It did not disappoint, hooker (Lafayette reference there). Tell me how I can go months without a new episode of this show and somehow survive, but the next week now feels slow and torturous and I'm not sure that I can make it through? I don't want to wait until next Sunday night. It seems soooooooo far away. I'm suddenly that young girl with her rollerskates on pouting because no one will come skate with me. I have to admit to getting into True Blood late (like after the first season came out DVD late) and I loved being able to watch episode after episode without stopping. I had to take a train to San Diego for the weekend and I downloaded a few episodes to pass the time. I sat next to the bathroom because I have a small bladder (this seems like TMI, but I'm going somewhere with this so hang in there). Have you seen the first episode? Well, that lovely seen with Jason and Maudette and the crazy vampire? Yeah, that startled also startled the two marines waiting in line for the bathroom that were watching over my shoulder. I didn't know they were there until I hit 'pause' in a complete panic and heard a voice say, "Aw, don't stop now!" I was beet red. And I blurted out..."It'snotporn." Awesome. I was concerned that complete strangers would think I was watching porn on my iPod on the train. I was in such a state of panic that I couldn't even remember the title of the show to tell the guys. Not that I could talk after my blurt out anyways. Too embarrassed. I didn't turn it back on until they were gone despite their protests. By the end of Strange Love, I was hooked (and not because of the sex scenes). I bought the first season on DVD as soon as I got off the train. Then I made my poor mother watch every episode with me in a 24 hour period. That Jason and Maudette and crazy vampire scene? "Oh, that's just lovely Jennifer." If you have watched the first season, you can imagine how many times I heard that in a 24 hour period. My mother usually enjoys my visits. I think that one might have been one of her least favorites.

With what little is left of my night, I'm off to write. Lily is snoring on the couch next to me. I've got Sia singing softly through my earphones. Time to head deep into the forest. Well, not too deep. Tonight we're starting in the cabin instead. We'll see if we make it into the woods. Happy writing, everyone! Hope you have a GREAT week!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Steaming the Floors and Polishing that Manuscript

I spent the afternoon cleaning the house. I love love love the smell of cleaning products. I love a clean house even more. There's something about walking barefoot on my hardwood floors after they've been steamed that just makes my heart sing. If I had little wings, I would flit around the house. Although, what would be the point of the washed floors? There is something so cathartic about scrubbing the place top to bottom, getting rid of the dust bunnies that are hiding way under the bed, in the back of the closet and under the couch, scrubbing the walls and floors until they sparkle like a vampire. While I was dusting, vacuuming and shining, I was thinking about my WIP (which is never far from my mind). I wish that I had been so enthusiastic about diving into the first round of clean up with it. Why? Because once I jumped in, it wasn't bad. You might look at the picture above (and the one below so you get the side view as well) and think I'm joking. I got through it in less than a week. Yes, I allowed my anal side to appear - the blue post-its are the new storyline, the maroon are character (spicing up my villian, strengthening other characters) and the green are plot. Very colorful. It's not clean and shiny, but it is on its way. Tonight I feel a bit of inspiration in my spotless house. I've lit a few candles, thrown open the windows for the cool breeze to carry the scent through the rooms and will be settling in to tackle those post-its. I'll be removing them and working them into the book like I worked the cleanser into the counters, making it shine!

How do you tackle your rewrites? Do you chunk them or dive right in and just plow through the entire work?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mixing Fun with a Dash of Inspiration

What's more fun than making cookies with grandma? Contests! Well, maybe not AS fun, but when you're too old to make cookies with grandma anymore and eating them adds to those love handles, stomach and behind, you need fun that doesn't involve food. That's where this blog post comes in. There are a few cool contests that I wanted to point out to my friends and a really great guest blog by Elana Johnson that you all should read as well. First, to the contests:

Sara B. Larson is giving away a first edition of the new Stephanie Meyers book! We're all hearing great things about Bree. You can enter her contest here.

This contest sounds both cool AND fun. GREAT combination. It starts Thursday morning at 6am. You submit the first line of your novel. If it makes them want to read more, you get invited to share your next line. And so on. The winners will benefit greatly (Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency will judge and offer a 25-page manuscript critique to the 1st place winner, a 10-page manuscript critique to the 2nd place winner - how amazing is that!?! But wait, there's have to go there to read the more for yourself) Please share with us if you make it past your opening line so that we can celebrate along with you!

Shannon Whitney is giving away an autographed copy of The Body Finder AND some cool swag here.

An almost contest:

Jen at unedited has almost reached 500 followers. When she does reach that magical number, she will be having a contest of some sort to celebrate. Jen always has FUN contests (see the videos below). She also has a really great blog so you benefit by following in more ways than one. Show her some love, people!

An upcoming contest:
I will be having a contest for our July theme. I've decided the months need themes. We borrowed Jolies MIS - Make It Shine - for the month of June. Let's come up with one for July. I'll do a separate thread for that next week so that people can submit their ideas to that thread. Winner will get their choice of a $15 Starbucks giftcard or Borders giftcard. It's not much but it's 4 grande Skinny Vanilla Lattes or a paperback book and 3/4s at Borders. I run a nonprofit. I have to stretch my budget if I plan to do this every month. MIF - Make It Fun!

Last, but not least, Elana Johnson popped over to Sara B. Larson's blog and laid out her numbers for us. FINISH STRONG was her advice. I found it inspirational and wanted to share. I know we all go through those times where we start to question our own sanity or our ability to make it. This is the perfect post for those times!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Musings

I went to the library on my way from teaching this afternoon on a whim. I'm at the end of A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the series is somewhere in boxes in the garage. I figured I could pick up the books there. I was wrong. What kind of library doesn't have Madeleine L'Engle books? Mine. In a big city. Go figure. No worries, though, I have a list of books I've been wanting to check out - authors or titles that I've picked up on other blogs, magazine reviews, etc. I'll just open my purse and...Of course the list wasn't in my purse. I have a ticket stub from the Chargers playoff loss to the Jets in January, I have an expired CVS coupon that I needed to use yesterday (oh! that's where that was), I have a brochure from a new pet kennel and daycare that someone gave to me at an adoption event last month, I have a business card from the tooth fairy, I have benedryl and sudafed and vitamins and ibuprofen, but no list of books. Naturally, I feel pressured to remember the names and I can't. It's like I'm suddenly back in high school and I've been studying for weeks for an exam. I'm overprepared and excited for it. Bring it ON! Only I get the test in front of me and my mind goes blank. That happens to me in libraries and bookstores frequently. I couldn't recall a single author or title. I spent almost an hour going book by book trying to recognize a few. I've been over my list a hundred times (well, maybe not quite that many, but several times at least) surely looking at them will jog my memory. Not. A. One. I came home with four that look promising but none of which were even remotely on my list. I'll just crack one open tonight and hope for the best. Sometimes I find great treasures this way. My life becomes too full of lists and I find that the true adventures, the measure of myself is really off the lists.

I've thrown open the windows, put Lily in the yard for some sun, lit my inspiration candle (Balsim Fir at the moment), turned on Soundscapes and am about to dive into my rewrite. A bird has built her nest in bush in the yard right next to Lily's favorite spot. Lily is oblivious to the poor things cries of panic and dives at her posterior. She sleeps on. She's actually protecting them. The neighbors mischievious cats won't come into the yard when Lily is out there so they are safe from harm. I keep trying to get a picture of the bird as it dives at Lily. My poor monster. She's just clueless when it comes to most things. That's part of the sweetness that is Lily, though.

Happy Monday, everyone! And happy writing this week! As Jolie says - Make It Shine.

(On a side note: My copy of Wrinkle in Time is so old that it cost me $3.25. Remember when paperbacks were that cheap? I was in the 5th grade.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Video Friday

Here is my latest entry for the fun video contest that Jen is having over at unedited! This week it was Edward vs. Jacob. I had a little fun playing around with "monster myths". Hope you enjoy.

Be sure to check out the other contestants videos as well!

Jessica - The Alliterative Allomorph
Candace - The Misadventures in Candyland
Sarah - T.J. Carson's Writing Endeavors
Katie - Creepy Query Girl
Shannon - Shannon McMahon
Rachel - Open a Window
Susan - Susan Fields
Clara - Pinches of Madness
Angela - Slushpile Slut

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Theme For June

I've been perusing my favorite blogs while taking breaks from my rewrites throughout the day and happened upon a gem over at Cuppa Jolie. If you haven't happened upon her blog yet or been directed there, I encourage you to hop over. She has Monday Moments - writing prompts to get you going on Monday mornings when things aren't always flowing so easily. Anyways, over at Cuppa Jolie, the theme for the month is: Make It Shine! I think this is absolutely wonderful and fits us all so perfectly as we are polishing those rewrites up. I wanted to share both the blog and the theme for our June rewrites as we polish our way to perfection. Or at the very least a nice semi-gloss. So head on over to check out Jolie's blog for a bit, then it's back to work polishing our WIPs (that even sounds a little dirty!) until they shine shine shine!

Happy Writing everyone!

The Bear and the Favorite Childhood Book

My rewrite has become quite the bear...a grizzly bear even. We're talking 700 pound grizzly bear at the beginning of Fall scrambling to pack on the fat so it can hibernate for the winter and I feel like a salmon trying to make it up a very shallow river before I get caught in its jaws or swatted by an enormous paw. It's hard to keep yourself motivated when there is so much to be done. I would be willing to bet that half of my 57,000+ words are going to be gone by the time I am done. This is only the first pass. While the meat of the story is still there, I am stregthening other characters with this secondary story line. It had to be done. I can only go where the story takes me. At the moment, it seems a bit overwhelming, though. Like the boat is headed for a huge waterfall and I need to find a way to the shore despite having gotten rid of my oar. What do I do? I set goals (thanks Jes!). Tomorrow, by hook or by crook, I will be done with the first pass. I'm running two errands and then will be home for the rest of the day. It will be done! Then I'll reassess tomorrow to set more goals.

On a brighter note, Jen over at unedited posted some really awe inspiring photos of libraries today on her blog. The kind of libraries you could get lost in. It brought back memories of our own humble Poway library tucked into the back of the small shopping center. Does anyone from Poway remember that one? Mom would take us there a few times a month. She would have to really work with Drew to get him to pick even one book while I would race around like a madwoman picking out as many books as I could before mom would say "time's up!" It brought back such fond memories. I might have had an unhappy childhood if it weren't for books. My parents loved me, but they fought a lot. My father was a very intimidating and imposing man who believed in the power of the belt. They were blessed with a very stubborn (pig headed even), extremely outspoken child prone to mouthing off. We lived in a small, small town when I was in elementary and middle school. There wasn't a whole lot to do. You could ride horses but we didn't own one and my parents didn't have the money for lessons or rentals. But we had that wonderous library where I could ride horses in Narnia! Or in the Phantom Tollbooth! I opened a book and I was suddenly out of Poway and into a whole new world full of exciting adventures. The pictures of the libraries took me tumbling back into my childhood today. Lucky for Facebook friends, I didn't have time to peruse photo albums and post old pictures because I was too busy going through my old books. Remember this one?

I busted this one out tonight. My copy is so old that the cover is torn and the pages have yellowed. It has that musty smell that only very old books have. I bought it at a book fair brand new in elementary school. Most kids saved their allowance for candy (Drew did!). I saved mine for books. Favorites from the library that I had checked over and over and over again - the librarian raising an eyebrow at me as she stamped it with the DUE date. I would feel guilty, like I was robbing someone else of the joy of the book. It felt good to purchase it with my hard earned money. It was a true testament of my love. So I'm done with the rewrite (or the crossout, as it's becoming to resemble that more than anything) and I'm off to read some Madeleine L'Engle.

Happy reading and happy, happy writing week!