Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Something Nice to Say...

Remember that old saying... If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all?.

I was reading the blog of a female living in the middle east the other day. How I got there, I have no idea. But I was looking at the pictures of the beautiful architecture and reading about the history of some of the buildings and the stories about them that have continued for hundreds of thousands of years.

I admit that I was hesitant to read the blog because I figured it would be political and I'm sort of all washed up on politics lately. I figured it would be that way because there's so much upheaval in that part of the world right now.

But I was wonderfully surprised to discover that it wasn't political really. It was just an account of her daily life, the place she lives, the people around her. And it was beautiful.

Then while reading some of her comments, I read one by an American who said they were tired of reading blogs by Americans where all they do is gripe about how something isn't going well or what's not good right then. They went on to say how surprised they were to find someone who lived somewhere, in a time and place where there was surely plenty to complain about, who instead shared the beauty and joys of daily life instead.

And I thought... Gee, I really need to think about that. I need to stop complaining so much. Sure I worked from 9AM to 10:30PM yesterday, but at least I had a job and apparently business is good if I'm working so late.

I'm usually an optimist anyway. But I decided to try an keep my attitude a little more positive. We'll see how long it lasts ;-)

On a positive note, I didn't get any writing done yesterday, but I did find this:

Pretty eyes!


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sink or Swim...

Ever felt like you've just been tossed into the deep end of a pool without any knowledge of how to swim or even the benefit of a cute little pair of swimmies?

I have felt that way a lot lately. And I've decided I will even take a pair of those ugly orange swimmies. They don't have to have butterflies on them or anything! Seriously!

I guess that's life and there's always that saying, "what doesn't kill us, only makes us stronger..."

Even with my writing I've been facing this. Life gets so nuts sometimes and it's difficult not to allow it to take over and press out everything else that is important... Such as my writing.

My RWA chapter met this weekend. Since we're so close to Atlanta, there's a lot of talk about nationals this year. It'll be my first. I've decided that I want to have my wip polished off and ready to go out by nationals, so I'll have it to pitch.

Hopefully redefining my ultimate goal and having a definite reason for it will help me to keep focus on getting it done. It's definitely going to call for me to pull more writing than my current progress, but I think it is definitely doable!

Here's a little inspiration to get me started:


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Just Who is Writing This Story?...

I'm very thankful that after the long break of the holidays, I have been able to settle back into my writing comfortably.

But now I'm beginning to wonder just who is writing this story. I feel more like I'm reading than writing. While I have an overall idea of what is going to happen with the story, I'm not completely positive of exactly what twist and turns will take my characters from point A to point Z. And I was surprised to find, while writing tonight to discover that sometimes I didn't even know what was going to happen in the next paragraph.

In my mind, I had a scene set and as I began writing, suddenly my characters started doing things differently. I decided to give over to their demands and follow their leads. And I think it turned out better than my original plan. But it made me question, Just who is writing this story?

Is this a question unique to me? Do most people have everything so worked out prior to actually writing that they don't encounter this? Or am I just a normal person whose characters like to jump in her head and take over?

Here's where the scene took place:

Isn't it lovely!


Monday, January 23, 2006

She said what?...

I took French in high school and I learned it well enough to pass the college requirements so that I didn't have to take it in college. I know some Spanish, but since I took it in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, I don't remember A LOT of it. Just enough to pick up words here or there and enough to find out where the bathroom was when we honeymooned in Mexico. I've even learned a little Italian. But since I learned from an Italian practical joker, I don't think the words she taught me really mean what she said they mean.

While working on my current wip, a sassy Italian fell into the story. I hadn't planned it, but there she was. And there, my problem arose. My Italian tutor is long gone and not trustworthy for that matter. I still think she taught me something perverted.

So I tried to find translators online so that I could discover terms of endearment. I've seen terms between a man and woman, but not between two women. And I don't call my hubby the same thing I do my best friend. On second thought, I call him sweetie and her sweetie too, so maybe I do.

Anyway, there are translation sites where you type in text and it translates it into what ever language you want. But it's a direct translation and it isn't what would actually be spoken by an Italian.

So, I considered changing my character's nationality. But she really wanted to be Italian. And then I found it. The website I'd been looking for. It's a message board really. A part of the Word Reference website, it's a forum where members from all over the world converse and help people with language issues. It seems geared towards writers who need help specifically. And you can find someone from just about anywhere and they're eager to help you with your language needs. I posted a query for the terms I needed and within 24 hours, someone had posted a full list of choices and details about how "good" of friends the two females would be if they used each.

Want to check it out? Here it is: Word Reference Forum.

Have fun!


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Writing to Music...

Everyone has their own environmental requirements for writing. A friend recently told me how strange it was that I listen to music while writing.

I'm very picky about how and what I listen to though. I use itunes which has become a sort of addiction. I get a song in my head and click over and download it. Thank goodness for the gift cards I got for Christmas.

I don't listen to it really loudly. I put on my head phones and turn it to a volume where I can hear it, but it isn't overwhelming my thoughts. I also found that I often listen to particular songs while writing particular types of scenes. For instance, in Setting Her Sights the setting was tropical. So, I listened a lot to some 80's music with tropical influence and to calypso music. It really helped me to go to the setting.

The story of the song often also coincides with what's going on in the story line at that time. For instance, Joan Jett's As I Am when a female is feeling vulnerable or Rascall Flatt's I Melt during a love scene. I also like Sade and Chris Isaac.

My taste in music runs the gammit. I have cds by Louis Armstrong, Richard Marx, Sarah Mclachlan, Primus, Rascall Flatts, Vivaldi, Pavarotti, and U2. That's about as wide a range as I can do.

I have to confess that if all else is failing me, I listen to U2. They're always sure to suit my mood. It probably has something to do with the whole 80's child thing, I'm sure.

The strange thing is, that as long as I have my notebook pc and my ear phones, I can write just about anywhere. Sometimes if I'm on the couch and my hubby is watching the tv, I have to put my ear muffs on... They're these large orange things that construction workers use to protect their hearing. They fit right over my earphones and ears and block out all of his yelling at the athletes on the tv.

What do you need to write (or concentrate on a project)? Anything special?


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Took A Break...

I took a small break this week, because apparently it's been a full moon... around my house at least.

This has definitely been a week of some firsts. The least of which was being asked by someone to break a federal law. I had to laugh (insert evil laugh here). This dope asked someone whose worst offense is speeding (but never in a school zone) if they would break a federal law for them. After the bout of laughing, I smiled and said, "Not on your life."

To be honest, I was a little shocked that he came out and asked me out right. It would have entailed me telling very big and blatant lies for them on a loan verification form. I love helping people, but I can't risk ruining my own life to help someone and it wasn't even for a justifiable cause! I've had people ask me to do wrong stuff in a round about way before. But never have I had someone do it straight out and in front of an office full of witnesses nonetheless.

Am I just naive? Should I not be surprised by the fact that he was so forthright in his quest to get me to break the law? Should I expect people to ask me to do illegal stuff? I hate to think that!


Monday, January 16, 2006

Never End on a Finished Thought...

That was the recommendation of Tamar Myers at a workshop she gave this past November to my rwa chapter.

She suggested that when you're wrapping up writing for an evening, you should end in the middle of a thought. She said that if you complete your thought, then it's harder to get started when you come back because you have to start from somewhere where you weren't sure what comes next. She suggested making a few notes about what is next and then stopping.

With my recent ms, I have been using her recommendation. And I have to admit that it has been a much smoother transition back into writing where I left off the day before and my ideas and scenes seem to be flowing together better. I never stop writing at the end of a scene. I begin the next and get at least a little part into it. Enough so that I know where I'm going with it before I stop.

The only time I've had a problem is when I've reverted to old behavior and stopped at the end of something... A scene, or whatever. I stop in the middle, make a few notes about what is coming and shut down. The next day (or day after that) I open it up and I already have an idea of what I'm writing to begin with and by the time it's time to come up with "fresh" material, I'm in my groove!

Now I'm off to get into my groove... Hope you all are able to do the same. And if not, maybe this will help:


Saturday, January 14, 2006

I Could Be Wayne Gretzky...

Well, except I'm not nearly as outwardly aggressive as I am in my head. Oh yeah, and I guess I probably don't ice skate all THAT well; I live in SC for goodness sake. We don't exactly have ice here. And the final and most important reason: I like having all my teeth.

Despite living in the South and not having being surrounded by ice, we had some last night. We have an ECHL team (East Coast Hockey League). And I'll confess to being a fan. Not a fanatic, but a fan. And last night we got a really big treat. We went with a group of about 15 to a game. And three of us got to go down and sit in the manager's box. Our arena wasn't built for hockey, so it's a typical arena and the seating starts just below the top rim of the glass. So you're always looking down on the action. Except for when a stray puck puts you in the middle of it... That's not fun.

The owner's box and the other luxury boxes are all down at ice level and you sit right at the glass. I wasn't prepared for how close you are to the glass. Within two minutes of us sitting down two feet from the glass, someone was smashed into it right in front of us. I admit, I screamed. It's startling. And it didn't look at all fun for the players, but they give as good as they get.

I will admit that being so close gives you a pretty good view of very athletic hockey players. Although, with all that padding it's hard to distinguish anything but their butts. :-)

Since I can't be a hockey player (see above list), it certainly put some interesting stories in my head!

I didn't have my camera with me, but I found this to share:

Our team traded him, so he's gone :-(. But he's still a cutie!

Here's a picture of him while he was with our team:

He's not supposed to smile! He's an intimidating hockey player for goodness sake!


PS: I was naughty today and instead of writing all day, I read. It was great. I haven't read a book in too long. So, I read two. :-) Andrea Kane's I'll Be Watching You and Lori Foster's Fantasy. Both were really good and something I would recommend! But please note that I have gotten a little writing done and finally I was able to add to my counter... A whole 500 words!!

Friday, January 13, 2006

No, It's Just Me...

Yesterday morning, I found myself stuck at home with the power off, while my hot water heater got replaced. Since the power was off and I couldn't use any water, I decided I would take the time to work out some of the plot issues I'm having.

While working out these issues, I found myself speaking for my characters, trying to get in their heads, trying to understand what they're feeling right then. I never imagined while I was away in my world of fiction that the plumbers down in the basement could hear me.

Oh yeah, next thing I know, when they come up to say they are done, they're looking around really funny like. I ask, "Is anything wrong?" And he says, "Is someone else here?" Those of you who are safety conscious are about to scream, and I know what a faux pas it is to say you're home alone, but at least I am familiar with the work crew (we use them for the properties we manage) so don't punish me too much. But I realized why he was asking and I felt my cheeks heat and I said, "Uh... No..." And then it struck me that I couldn't say I had the tv on since they had all of the power off!

He just raised his eyebrows and said, "Oh... Okay then, well, we're all through give it thirty minutes and you should have hot water!" I thought about explaining that I was plotting and then I thought, that'll just open a whole 'nother bag of beans that I don't feel like getting into with the plumber... So instead I just said a polite "thank you" and let him be on his way. He did sort of leave in a rush... Probably off to tell the rest of his crew about the kook!

Am I the only one who's had this experience? For that matter, am I the only one who talks to herself when plotting sometimes?


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Thank Goodness It's Warm Out...

We've been experiencing a nice warm spell here lately. Today the high was 70 (Fahrenheit about 21 C I think). Which felt great! And it's a good thing too, because we might have to take a cold shower in the morning and this way the water won't be ice cold.

We came home tonight to a leaking hot water heater. Argh! So, tomorrow morning I have to call Mr. Plumber man to come out and fix it. Which will probably mean a NEW hot water heater since it appears to be leaking around the bottom. Guess it's a good thing I didn't get that $175 light fixture for the kitchen today. Looks like that money will be going towards a new hot water heater.

On the writing front, I did get a little done last night and (thank you, Emma) I did manage to snag a few minutes of another 007 flick. I'm recording the marathon for future review :-). And just so you don't think I'm a Moore snob, here's proof that I love all the Jameses. Don't you wish you lived in Chechnia? Or maybe just visited there for a souvenir?

Now I'm going to go do some more before I crash for the evening!


Monday, January 09, 2006

What Else Can I Do to Procrastinate?

I know! I can post a blog post!

I need to be writing. I want to be writing. But I'm stuck. I'm at the chapter 3/4 hump and it always seems that one gets me. What I need to do is push through it. So, I'm calling myself out. Here's what I've come up with to procrastinate writing in the last twenty-four hours:

1. Worked on my website
2. Went to bed much earlier than usual for me
3. Done "day-work"
4. Made returns to Wal-mart and Lowe's (I stood in line at Wally World's customer service for nearly an hour)
5. Purchased a light fixture for over our sink.
6. Removed the old and installed the new light fixture over the sink
7. Then I took a break and ended up watching The Spy Who Loved Me. Which wasn't such a waste because watching Roger Moore can be very inspirational.
8. Cooked dinner (when I knew my hubby wasn't eating dinner at home)
9. Shopped for and purchased fabric for drapes for our bedroom (Lord only knows when I'll get around to sewing them)
10. Re-organized our linen closet.
11. The ultimate brain-drain: watched tv.

So now I'm going to do some actual work. Tomorrow I think I may take down the fluorescent light in the main part of our kitchen. I saw a really great fixture at the store that would look perfect. That'll give me at least another hour of procrastinating.:>) Am I the only one who does this?


PS I'm just 500 words away from where I was before I took a machete to the ms. So, at least I've gotten something done.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

To Web After all...

So, after receiving a little encouragement and scouring the web for help with html, I have put together my own little website. Yikes!

If you check it out, please remember that it's still under construction and I am an html novice and I decided that if I was ever going to learn, I had to just do it. So, with the help of a self-teaching book from the library (I just love books) and some web hints, I built the site using the Notepad on my computer. I'm too cheap to get something like Dreamweaver :-).

I have felt a lot of hesitancy when it comes to building a site. I worry that allowing an editor or agent to see "more" of me isn't going to be such a good thing. For instance, what if they don't like the excerpt I have on the website. Then that small part has blown my chances. Right?

Maybe I am just over thinking this whole thing. Maybe I'm opening up that small part of my brain that questions whether or not I'm actually a good writer. Maybe I need to step back and look at this as an opportunity to open myself to new experiences and avenues.

I just hope that I don't spend all of my free time tweaking the website, since I'm feeling a little obsessive compulsive about it.

Feel free to share any comments you have about the site. I'd love some feedback (I can take criticisms to;-))!


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Reverse Progress...

Yes, I know those two words seem to go against each other, but that's what I've been making... Reverse progress.

After two or so weeks of not working on my wip, I finally returned to it last night and dutifully wiped out 1750 words. Yeah, I know that doesn't sound like progress at all. But it was what was right.

I realize in retrospect that part of what had kept me away from the wip is that I was unhappy with the scene I was working on. When I went back to reread and get a feel for where I left off, my thought was, what in the world am I doing? I have my characters stuck out in the middle of no where and I'm wasting this grand opportunity on this crap? So, I erased the waste and rewrote it in a way that better uses the situation and better fits the characters and the plot. And even though it has set me back 1750 words, I'm happier, because it's better.

In my eternal happiness, I thought I'd share another spot of fun. I thought it was sort of fitting given the subject of this post.
Your Animal Personality

Your Power Animal: Eagle

Animal You Were in a Past Life: Whale

You are active, a challenger, and optimistic.
Hard-working, you are always working towards a set goal.

PS I refuse to change my word count on the side bar. I just can't. So, I promise to make up the rest of the 1750 words tomorrow. Really, I will!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

To Web or Not To Web, That is the Question...

I was recently informed that a web site is a very important tool for ALL writers; published and unpublished alike.

The very sweet and very informative Patti Steele-Perkins made an appearance at one of our LRWA meetings. She was in town visiting one of our members who happens to be one of her first clients. She said that when she gets a query from an author the first thing she does is google them to see if they have a website. If they do, then she scans it and takes a look at any info they have.

I've taken it for granted that once published, a website would be a must. However, I hadn't thought it would do much for me before that time. In fact, I sort of figured that it would be like this blog, something else to distract me. :-). But according to Ms. Perkins, a website can at times make a big difference. She explained that it shows that an author is willing to work and put herself out there. Often, a website gives an agent or editor more info than they would have otherwise had. For instance, if all the agent or editor permits you to submit is a query letter, having excerpts on a website means they may actually read something of yours.

So I guess I need to give this website stuff some more thought. Argh! I have a website for my day job and I manage everyone else's but it's done through a hosting service that provides industry related templates and tools. Very little html knowledge necessary. I've built a very rudimentary website before when I was learning html basics. But I don't know how to do anything that would represent me well. I guess I need to look into some of the template services.

Any recommendations?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back In Gear...

Happy New Year everyone!

Finally, I think I am back in gear and ready to get to work... both day work and book work. :-) I'm nine pounds lighter and hoping to stay that way or better, but we'll see. The cravings for chocolate and french fries are back.

I've given a lot of thought to New Year's resolutions and I considered something like loosing weight, one of my old favorites. Then I realized that they never seem to work out right for me. I did give up being fat for lent once and ended up loosing forty-five pounds. Of course, I gained back thirty getting married. Argh.

Anyway, I decided I would copy someone else. I heard some say their resolution was to do what they normally did, but to do it better. And I thought to myself, what a great resolution. So, I'm making it mine too.

Did anyone else make a resolution? Care to share?