Friday, May 28, 2010

Robots Need Love Too

Jen over at unedited is having a fun Friday video contest. This week the topic was tube socks vs. ankle socks. I had never made one of these before and it's so much FUN! I saw the robots and immediately thought of Eva - robots need love too! Here is the silly video I made:


I won!! I'm so excited! Here is my bling for winning:

Thanks Jen!

Now that both my parents have already checked the blog and watched the video, I can safely post the REAL ankle socks vs. tube socks. This is my parents running a half marathon together. Mom has the ankle socks, which don't even cover the ankles, on over her tights and dad is rocking the tube socks. Notice how carefully he matched his outfit with his head band, but not the tube socks. I guess in the 80s tube socks were versatile and didn't have to match the outfit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Creating More Work

I started making notes today before I actually dive into the rewrite. I already had a list of changes to be made. In the middle of notes, I had an idea come up...again. This may mean half the book is gone. The main storyline - my characters goal and her journey to get there - won't change. Some of her backstory, however, has changed. It's so hard to blog sometimes when you have to be vague like this. I think it's a good change. It came up about halfway through the zero draft, but I pushed it aside. Then it popped up again three quarters of the way through and again, I bopped it in the head to send it back into the hole. When I told my bestfriend, she loved the idea! My husband, however, shot off with "but aren't just creating more work for yourself." Well, yes. I hadn't thought of it that way. I thought of it as making the story solid. Stronger. I outlined my behind off (oh, if only that would actually work - I think a lot more of us would spend time outlining like crazy) this afternoon and it works! It really works! With a little tweak here and there in some scenes, it's not really going to add that much. Scenes at the beginning need to be cut anyways so that we jump into the action. I'll finish the list tomorrow and dive in to the first third of the script. I'm really looking forward to it! It's the first rewrite so it's almost like a whole new story. We'll see if my enthusiasm is still here at the end of the second rewrite. I'm following Elana Johnson's advice and trying to get it done in 30 days! Ambitious? I think the most ambitious part is finding readers that will get the pages back to me in a timely manner. I'll chunk it as she suggests and see if that helps. Off to bed so I can get up and write more in the morning.
I'll leave you with an adorable picture of Lily (on the right) with her boyfriend Bubba during their playdate. I keep forgetting that the camera automatically date stamps it and is stuck on 2004, but this picture was taken only a few days ago.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Caught in the Middle

I finished my WIP last week. I had to format it and now am ready to dive into the rewrite. While this story captured my imagination and was all I thought about for almost three months, this morning another idea came along. Like the picture (that is Lily as a puppy in one of my favorite pictures of her), I felt it grab hold and tug me along. It came out of nowhere. Completely unexpected. And I love love love it. I'm never sure if it's okay to share my ideas on my blog. Do we worry about people stealing them? Oh, but I love this one. So now I am caught in the middle. Rewriting one and starting another at the same time. I'm like the toys inbetween Lily and her friends in the pictures below.

Pit Bulls don't have locking jaws. It's a myth. BUT they are known for their tenacity (the true reason why it's hard to get them to let go of things unless they are well trained, like my girl who drops things at "RELEASE" immediately). My ideas are both being very tenacious at the moment. They are each pulling me. So what is the write/right thing to do? Do I try to give them both equal time? Or do I need to devote all my attention and time to rewriting my first book before I even think about the second one? My gut tells me to do the former. I can jot down ideas in my notebook (maybe even the one I might win from Elana Johnson here) but the majority of my time and devotion should be to my current WIP, which I don't love any less. It's just a lot more inviting to delve into a new world when you are facing a mountainous rewrite in the old one. Well, maybe saying I have to climb a mountain in that one is being a bit dramatic. The layout is there. I just forgot some characters along the way and need to either pick them and carry them through to the end (likely) or cut them altogether. Lola had an excellent blog on Show, Don't Tell (read it here) complete with examples. There are also a few places where I told rather than showing my readers in the interest of time and plowing through to the end. I will need to go back through to address those parts as well. I am only at 57,500+ words which comes in at 281 pages. That will be expanding. For the moment, I feel caught between the jaws of two very well trained, perfect family pets. One of them will need to "RELEASE". I guess I need to turn to the baby and tell her to let go for now.
Happy Writing everyone!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Midnight Writing and NaNo Lessons

I was scrubbing my face last night, deep in my before bed ritual, when I suddenly had an idea that I needed to add to the story. Exhausted, but hit with inspiration, I lathered on some moisturizer and sat down to write. I didn't go into detail because I still have much rewriting to do. It was important to get that little seed buried in the proper part for watering later on. As I was typing, I thought to myself, THIS is what being a writer is all about. Those ideas that you just have to get onto paper before they disappear into the night and aren't remembered again. I had read on Rebecca Hargreaves blog here that she had done the same thing. Only she got up at 3am to plunk out her pages and flush out a story part! When inspiration strikes, it strikes. We get caught up in it and have to go with it, I guess. Then I remembered a friend who still writes for television telling us all at a dinner party that he has a lighted pen and pad of paper by his bedside. Too many great ideas were escaping while he slept. He would wake up with an idea, whether for the current show he was on or for a future show, but not want to get out of bed. Too lazy to get up, he would lie there in that state just between dreaming and waking as the idea bounced around in his head like a silver ball in a pinball game. He would toss and turn, waking her. Finally, he would drift back to sleep. In the morning, the idea would be gone and he'd have had a terrible nights sleep. Knowing that getting out of bed was not an option for him, his wife had bought him the pen as a present (for both of them). It lit up when you pressed it to the paper. He could roll over, write a few words to remind him of the idea in the morning, then go back to sleep. Problem solved! I know that I have forgotten some gems when I didn't get out of bed or was somewhere without paper to write on. It didn't take long for me to plant the seed, do a little watering and then finish the rest this morning.

This NaNo was so much fun.

1. I can write an entire book from start to finish in less than three months when I put my mind to it.

2. Setting goals helps - whether you set a daily word goal, weekly word goal or just a simple goal of writing daily. I started picking up the pace when I joined other writers and set weekly goals.

3. Some days, no matter how much you love your story and your characters, you have to force yourself to write.

4. I can write in a crowded cafeteria on the back of a teaching schedule.

5. It is easier for me to return to my desk the next day if I have left off in the middle of a scene. I'm more apt to jump out of bed, grab my coffee and get straight to work if I know exactly where I'm going. If it's an action scene, even more exciting. Though, I may have trouble sleeping that night as it whispers to me from the other room.

6. Friends help. There is safety in numbers. It's nice to have people celebrate your small victories, sympathize with the week you struggled and toast you at the end of your journey.

7. Format as you go. I didn't. I started out that way, then got lazy. I just single spaced from Chapter 10 on. No chapter breaks, no formatting. I've spent the better part of the last three days formatting, which leads to rewriting, and I'm not done yet.

8. No writing scenes out by hand. I made this mistake. The point of the Mini NaNo was no rewriting. I do that automatically as I'm transcribing them. This takes more time. Rather than getting new writing done, I'm going over the old scene to perfection. It will not be perfect. This is a Mini NaNo.

9. It doesn't have to be perfect. I am cringing at parts as I format, but that is okay. This is a ZERO draft. There are many drafts and polishes to come! I'm bringing the best out in this wood as I carve it, polish it, paint it.

10. The excitement doesn't end with the NaNo. I still look forward to getting to my writing every morning. It's all I think about when I'm away from it at the moment. Ideas to polish, changes for characters. I love it!

This has been a very rewarding experience. My writing definitely finished stronger than it started. I look forward to tweaking it and then sharing it and then rewriting more as I get the critiques in. At the moment, it's not ready for any eyes by my own. Not even my mother could love it right now, I think (and that woman has loved her some very bad writing of mine in the past). It's okay. It didn't have to be perfect. Progress, not perfection was the goal of the Mini NaNo. Perfection takes time. It takes patience. For now, it's done! The hardest part out of the way. Now comes the fun part - I now have the general piece, but it's time to take the goggles off, put away the chainsaw and get out the carving tools. Time to refine, to get into the details. Hopefully, it will end up the paper version of Tim Racer's piece above.

For more of Tim's amazing work, click on the link below:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Afternoon Naps

If there is one thing my pets excel at it, it's the Afternoon Nap! Sometimes I like to take a page from their book, slow things down and take a snooze with them. Today was one of those days. I had a million things to do, but I set them all aside, found a nice place in the sun and drifted off to sleep. It's so nice to shirk responsibility every so often, to take that time for me!

Sometimes they nap with a buddy!

Sometimes they nap with a toy!

Sometimes they nap IN a toy!

Sometimes they nap alone!

Then they wake with a yawn, well rested, to get on with their day!

Well, maybe they don't get on with the rest of their day. Maybe they just move to their next nap spot. I, on the other hand, get on with MY day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


There it is in all its glory. I never thought I'd reach it! I started at 11am this morning and 6 hours and 44 minutes later, I reached THE END! It's not perfect. It's not even very pretty - 162 single spaced pages with no chapter breaks. My zero draft is finished, minus the formatting. I'm celebrating by rushing off to my Body Bar Blast class sans my best friend Mel. I will be all alone in the back of the class with no one to goof off with tonight, but I will be blasting this body knowing that my W.I.P. is DONE! I am so proud of myself (and of it). I can hardly wait to share it with another draft or two.

Thank you to everyone who went on this journey with me!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Things We Take For Granted

You probably expected this post to be about the usual things we take for granted - the abundance of food in the supermarkets available for us to buy, a roof over our heads, safe place to sleep, I'm talking about something as basic as a chair and being able to sit down. We participated in a sidewalk sale today to raise money for Paws and Learn (my nonprofit). Disney was beyond kind and donated hundreds of books for all age groups. Street fairs are fun for so many reasons. This particular community is extremely dog friendly and we were set up in front of a dog boutique. It made for a fun day between the kids and the dogs. I particularly enjoy helping the teens finds books that will interest them. I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I read some of the same books that they do. I was surprised that we had a few adults who wanted suggestions as well! The bad thing about sidewalk sales is that, well, they are on the sidewalk. People need room to walk. This means you have room for the table. No chairs. From 9:30 this morning until 4pm this afternoon, I didn't sit down. The bathroom was a four block walk away so I limited myself to one trip (this is a record for me). I never realized that standing can be so tiring. I hike, I take kickboxing, I jog - I'm very active. But just standing? That required different muscles, apparently. I ached my way through the grocery store, a walk with Lily and a bath for her. Now I am blissfully settled into my chair with my cup of tea, my candle burning and that breeze that I love so much. It feels like a little piece of heaven. This may be the best cup of tea I have ever had. Maybe my writing tonight will reflect my newly found joy and the appreciation of a good chair. I can hardly wait to dive right in, even if I have to limp after my characters on these sore feet of mine!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jack Bauer Syndrome

Sometimes I have days like Jack Bauer - commercials every ten minutes, terrorists around every corner and not enough TIME! If you are a fan of 24 and have watched over the years, you will be familiar with these phrases:

"There's not enough TIME!"

"We're running out of TIME!"

"I need more TIME!"

Jack is very obsessed with TIME. I always thought they would have made a killing had they created a talking Jack doll that said various TIME related phrases each time you pulled his string. The writers must have noticed all the jokes online about it because I don't think I've heard him say anything about needing more TIME, running out of TIME or not having enough TIME in this 24 hour segment.

Okay, back from the tangent...I sometimes suffer from Jack Bauer Syndrome. Today was one of them. Run here, meet this friend there, exercise with this friend here and before I knew it, I was out of TIME. It's now midnight and I am determined to get more writing in. I did squeeze maybe a hundred words in earlier, proving that you can always find TIME (and doesn't Jack always find TIME in the end?). Even when I'm out chasing terrorists, trying to immobilize detonators and saving the country from destruction, my story is on my mind. I knew exactly where I was going tonight. I even had dialogue ready to go! I'll likely get a half hour in before bed tonight. I learned from my days in television production that everything you write after a certain time in the evening has to be scrapped the next day. Sure, you think you're being hysterically funny at 1am because you're punchy and crashing from the late night Starbucks run the P.A. went on after dinner, but in the morning when you come crawling back in and read over what was "punched up" the night before, it all ends up in the trash. So I won't be writing too late tonight because it just makes for more work in the long...which will take up too much TIME.

Tomorrow will be another Jack Bauer Syndrome day. Hair appointment first thing in the morning and thinking of doing something dramatic with my hair (red with copper highlights perhaps?) so that will take a lot of TIME! My hair dresser is fun to gossip with so I'm sure I won't think of story much while I'm in the chair or being rinsed out or even styled. I have errands to run, a dog to walk, my own exercising to do, lots of things that will take up TIME! I'm hoping for some evening writing tomorrow...I'm so close to the end. To defusing the bomb, revealing the Russians diabolical plot and saving our President. Well, not quite THAT dramatic. Much more fantastic, though. If only I had more TIME...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I know that I usually write about my writing, but I'm going to break from the norm based on a very vivid dream that I had last night. I had a very close relationship with my grandparents (mother's parents). When we were sick, Grandma would drive out and spend the day with us so that mom could still go to work. If we were spending the night at grandma and grandpa's house, grandma always bought us the cereal that mom never would (Cookie Crisp!), had our favorite ice cream, made us peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with Lay's potato chips for lunch after we spent the day swimming in their pool...after college, I would spend weekends with them that would culminate in Sunday football at the Q (NFL Charger games). Grandma was a HUGE Charger fan. In fact, every significant event isn't on a calendar, it is told by seasons. Grandma was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the 1995 season. She had her first chemo treatment the morning of the playoff game against the Colts and had Grandpa drive her straight to the stadium. The woman would schedule their cruises around away games and if they didn't have a tv on the ship that was able to get the game, she either didn't book it or gave the tickets away (as my aunt found out when she was the lucky beneficiary one season). She lived and breathed Chargers football. We still joke that she would be alive in hospice to this day if mom hadn't whispered in her ear that we had fired Kevin Gilbride (grandma couldn't stand that man and his moustache, which she said on numerous occassions she had a mind to just rip right off his face...maybe the pain would bring some coaching sense into him). After receiving word that Gilbride was gone, Grandma finally let go. I should mention that she went into what they call the "death rattle" and we were informed that this only last 24 hours. No human lasts past that once this starts. Well, the doctor told us this IN the room with grandma. She lived for a full week with that just to prove him wrong. Even in death, she had moxie. I suspect if there is a god, she was battling him too because she wasn't quite ready to go. As you can see, grandma made a big impression on me. Though I was luckier than most of my friends to have my grandparents alive and close growing up, I still felt cheated when we lost her. I wanted MORE time. Just like she did.

Which leads me to today. I dream about my grandma often. Probably at least twice a month, sometimes more. In my dreams, she is still dead but she is with us. Like God gave her a visitors pass and she gets to come down to be with her family. In fact, in the dreams, it always comes out that she only has "this" amount of time before she has to "go back". I wish it were really like that. Do you ever wonder what you would do if you had a door that you could step through that would take you back to one day in your life? You could just open the door, step through and there you would be for twelve hours or so. Where would you go? I would go back to spend the day with Grandma - whether we were at a football game hearing her scream "Ah, shit!" (that was the only time we heard grandma cuss so it made it extremely funny for an 8 year old), in front of the tv watching a soap opera while fixing grandpa's fresh green beans (SNAP!) for dinner or laying on her bed towards the end listening to her memories of her childhood while the ocean breeze gently moved the windchimes outside - I would choose days with my Grandma. I guess that hurt has just never, ever healed. Sometimes it's almost a physical ache. After a decade, you'd expect it to have lessened. Maybe the dreams don't let it. But I wouldn't give them up for anything.

She gave birth to three daughters. I was the first born grandchild on my mother's side...another girl. As Grandma would tell, it was very anti-climatic. But then five boys would follow (my younger brother and four more grandsons). Suddenly, I was special again. Grandma called me her "O & O", her one and only. Here is a picture of me with all the boys (and my husband) on my wedding day. Such a tight knit group thanks to my Grandma. We all miss her very much.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Of Journals and Hidden Rooms

I have taken to writing out my story this past week, for one reason or another, in my journal. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Sometimes just the thought of opening the pages and using a new favorite pen can be enough to inspire me. It fit right in with all the candle burning this week, the tea. I was very inspired - 36 handwritten pages inspired. There are drawbacks to writing it out. My hand gets tired. My writing goes from anal and neat to sloppy as my muscles tire. It has taken me two days to type these pages in. I find myself editing as I go, this is good and bad. Good because I feel like I am already polishing these parts, strengthening them. Bad because it has taken me two days and I'm not yet done inputting the pages. I'm not sticking to the hallway. I open doors and explore rooms, which lead to other rooms filled with fun things. I often lose track of time in these rooms. I have to be careful or I might actually get lost in there! I am so close to finishing, I need to just put blinders on and reach THE END. It's difficult not to rewrite yourself when you are typing from page to computer. This Nano that ended up spanning over two months (oops!) has been torture and I've used this as an excuse to do the editing/polishing that I have denied myself for two months. Am I cheating? On this part of the W.I.P., I suppose I am. I'm almost to the end of the handwritten pages and am going to try to stick to plunking away on my computer the rest of the time to avoid this. Just think of how much closer I would be to the end if I hadn't spent time typing and rewriting a bit this week. We'll see if it makes for less polishing on this part of the book when all is said and done. Probably not. It's been an interesting process!

I hope everyone had a Happy Mother's Day! Mom was up and curled up on the couch last night after my hubby and the kids (dog and cats) had gone to bed. She read while I listened to my IPOD (oh, I'm so embarrassed to even admit what song I have been listening to over and over and over and over and over these past few days) and clicked away on my keyboard. It was nice to have that quiet time with my mom in the late night. I love that some things never change no matter how old I get. She wanted Starbucks for breakfast this morning and a hike with the dog so that's what we did. Scones and Skinny Vanilla Lattes followed by a nice walk through nature with Lily leading the way! Though she only lives two hours away, that two hours sure seems like a lot when we get busy and don't see each other as often as we like. I'm so glad she chose to spend Mother's Day with us!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I am a creature of habit. My writing routine may take place on mornings four days a week, but it switches to evenings the rest of the week. When I write in the evenings, I burn a candle (either Balsam Fir or Citrus Peel and Pine), open the windows so that the chill night air tickles the back of my neck, sip a cup of peppermint tea and delve deep into the forest. The last two evenings were spent at mom's house. Mom's are great. My mom is the best. She bought a Balsim Fir candle so that I can write when I visit her. How amazingly thoughtful is that? So I spent last night on her couch instead of my own, Balsim Fir candle filling the room with the scent of the forest and I wrote deep into the night. She even curled up on the love seat to keep me company and promptly fell asleep. Unlike my dog, my mom doesn't snore so she is a great writing companion. No distractions.

I played around with my goal for the week. Rather than setting a word count, I set a story beat goal. I fell slightly short of that this week. I'm disappointed in myself because I have done this two weeks in a row. I know that I'm getting close to THE END. This is a scary thought. Part of me can't wait to get there! What an accomplishment to have written a book. Plus, there's the rewriting that I haven't been allowing myself. The deal was - write straight through with no editing. I will admit that I have made story notes here and there on things I want to change/add/spruce up, but I haven't allowed myself to spend hours on sections like I was tempted to. So I'm torn - scared of reaching "the end" and excited to get there so I can start the polishing. I have no idea what to set my goal at this week. I fell 100 words short the week before and only just solved the riddle in the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps this week the goal will simply be to continue writing. Write every day. That sounds like a good goal. My mom will be in town this weekend for Mother's Day but I'm sure she will fall asleep on my couch while I write away with my candle burning, sipping my peppermint tea. I can't think of a better way to end my day!

Happy writing, everyone! And Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

(Note: that's my wonderful mom with my adorable nephew!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Writing Routine

I love my Saturday morning writing routine - dog walked and snoozing in the yard, Citrus Peel and Pine scented candle lit, R Carlos Nakai music playing softly on my laptop, windows open to allow the breeze to softly enter, cup of coffee next to me. Do you have a writing routine? Mine varies, but always includes pine scented candles of some sort to take me back to the forest where my story is taking place. I did have a very productive morning this week in a crowded teachers lounge where my story found me and I was compelled to write on the back of my teaching schedule. Some great stuff came out of that with no pine scented candles. Instead, it was the smell of greasy cafeteria food and the sound of teachers talking. I was able to tune that out, crawl into my story and just write. This morning, however, I am nestled into my normal routine. I decided to do some handwritten story work in my journal as a change of pace. I can take the journal into the yard with Lily, who is always up for a good snuggle on the blanket while I write until we both get overheated and have to retreat to the cool hardwood floors of the house. This morning, as I wandered down the hallway, I happened to look behind one of the pictures. There was a cubby hole that requires a key. It's the perfect place for my character to hide her journal from a sudden threat! As she opens the space, she gets an extra bonus! Locked inside is a tiny piece of paper with two simple words on it - the words that my character was so desperately trying to remember! So the threat that forced her to hide the journal for safekeeping has also in turn unlocked a secret. My story is calling so I had better answer back.

Happy Writing everyone!