Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I Can See!

So, a few weeks back, to celebrate big number 39, I got an eye exam. Over the past couple of years (yes, that long), I've had serious problems reading and using the computer. I couldn't get my eyes to focus together. If I closed one (and it didn't matter which one) I could see.

When the eye strain from the computer got so bad that I could only spend an hour or two a day on it, I decided it was time to do something drastic. Like *gasp* get glasses.

My first pair had the wrong prescription. Wearing them was what I imagine being on really bad hallucinogenic drugs would be like. Everything was a little blurry and swam in front of me in soft focus.

I took them back. The girl took one look at them under her microscope thingy and said... oops, left lens has a problem.

I got them back a couple of days ago, set them on the counter and forgot about them. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I started developing the same old computer headache, nausea thing and was distraught. I was in the middle of messing with a short story I want to send out next week and wasn't ready to quit. Then I remembered the glasses. Would they help?

I put them on. Headache disappeared.


Oh. My. Word.

It's a miracle.

I can see.

Monday, January 30, 2006


I was going to blog about the latest report that many food colorings in our meals are from the casings of ground up beetles, but Larissa Ione does it so much better.

Take a look, folks. Click through on her links. Prepare to be grossed out. Yuck.

I Have it on Highest Authority...

...that 2006 is my year.

Thanks to Charity who seems to find the coolest stuff online, I checked the Astrology for Writers, Editors and Filmmakers, 2006 Forecast!

Here's what it says about me:


Caps have the publishing planet (Jupiter) in their House of Dreams and Wishes . The Big Sale, Acquisition, or Merger is more likely in '06 than in any year in the last 10. I've seen true miracles ( pinnacles at least) happen with this house position, so expect the best outcome in all your ventures. Congratulations in advance.

Very cool!!

Didja see it? The Big Sale, Acquisition, or Merger is more likely in '06 than in any year in the last 10.

Y'all will be able to say "I knew her when..."

...when she was a totally neurotic unpublished author (now she's a neurotic published author).
...when she wrote in passive voice on a daily basis.
...when the only thing she published was a goofy blog.

In other news...

I sat down with Liv Leigh this a.m. and worked through some feedback I received quite some time ago. I was inspired to do so when D (*waves*) sent me her feedback on the middle stuff I sent. I'm dragging my feet on the initial edit of the end because it needs So. Much. Work.

I know, I know, if I'm going to fulfill the opportunity that Jupiter offers me this year, I need to get it done.


Enough blogging. Must edit. Would rather have bamboo shoots stuck underneath my toenails.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Keeping Promises

I just finished a category romance novel, and as those types of novels go, it wasn't bad. The hero was a little too perfect -- he was a doctor (pediatrician) and all around him, his single wild friends were partying and sampling their woman of the week, but he wanted something more. Still, I could get past that.

What did get me mad was a broken promise.

All throughout the book, the heroine knows she can never marry the hero because he wants kids and she "can't have" children. This to me reads: the heroine has the inability to get pregnant, that she is infertile. In fact, during their first occasion of lovemaking, she's remarkably unconcerned that they don't use any protection.

Then, all of sudden, POOF! She's preggo.

Say what? But, I thought you couldn't have children???

Turns out that she shouldn't have children because of a high risk to her.

Shouldn't. Not couldn't. Big difference. And I felt cheated. I wanted the happy couple have to get over the hump, for the perfect doctor to have to make changes to his dream of a big family in order to prove his undying and unconditional love for the heroine.

Okay, I'm getting a little overdramatic here, but you get the point.

And then, to top it off, she has an uneventful pregnancy with no complications and manages to pop out that baby -- her first -- after only eight hours of labor. Eight! Sheesh... I had 37 hours of labor that ended in an emergency c-section, and I didn't have a high risk pregnancy.

Oh yeah, and her milk came in for her to breast feed less than four hours after she gave birth (and she had no problem learning how to nurse her perfect baby either). Mine took two days - and I consulted with a lactation specialist.

That book is NOT a keeper. Grrr....

What books have you read that don't keep their promises? And how does it make you feel?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

To Contest or Not To Contest?

There's quite a bit of discussion on one of the contest loops I belong to about why contest entries are down.

Some conclusions?

1. The same editors/agents judge all the contests. If you've been in front of that person before and done poorly (or, conversely, had a full ms. requested), you don't want to go in front of them again.

2. Postage costs.

3. And, the polar opposite of postage, entrants don't like e-submissions.

4. Poor or no feedback on entries.

5. Cost vs. pages submitted. If you're going to pay $25 to enter, why not go to a contest that allows 50 pages instead of 10?

I got to thinking about what I look for in a contest.

Final judges, to be sure. I had all but decided to enter one contest, until I discovered the final judge was an agent that I had no interest in pursuing.

Number of pages to be submitted figures in, too. I find that I like to enter the ones with a few more pages allowed -- I'll probably go for ones that let me send in at least 25 pages.

Synopsis required? Then it's not for me. I haven't tackled my synopsis yet, even though I have the first draft done on two of my WIPs.

What about you? What do you look for in a contest? Do you even enter contests? Why or why not?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Post 200

I feel like I should do something special for my 200th post. Have a party or something. I kind of blew off celebrating my 1,000th visitor a few weeks back, so don't feel right skipping another milestone.


Okay. Party at my house. You're all invited! Bring chocolate.

On another note:

Yesterday threw me for a loop. Got bad, bad, very harsh feedback from a couple of people on Liv Leigh. Once I pulled the knife out of my gut (not my heart, it wasn't a killing blow, but man did it hurt! It's like someone looking at your baby and saying, "Man, that is the ugliest baby I have ever seen and it's stupid, too!"), I tried to dig down underneath the blunt words and get to the heart of the problem. And I did. And, in a way, I think both folks are right, to a point.

One complaint is regarding whether my character would go into a strange man's apartment. I think she would, but I am going to change it a little to give her extra motivation to go in there.

The second was that, in their opinions, her instant attraction to him was too overt. Here's my problem with this one -- neither of these people read romance. They are, predominantly, mystery or literary readers and writers. So... is it that Liv's attraction was too overt OR is it that it's romance "lingo" and they just aren't used to seeing it?

As a way to test things, I grabbed some romance books off the shelf and started reading the first two chapters to see how overtly (or not) the mutual attraction was portrayed. Here's what I found:

With the exception of Romantic Suspense, all of the books indicate a VERY strong attraction and most include fantasizing -- stuff along these lines: She looked at his capable hands on the steering wheel and imagined them on her body, strong and firm.

I'm thinking that I'm not too far off the mark. I did get one suggestion that I think was valid (this from my mom) -- make Liv embarassed or uncomfortable with her attraction to this strange man. She is, after all, engaged to someone else.

In a nutshell, I think I'm in a better place this morning. Thanks to Charity, who asked if the feeback I received took genre into account (and hugs across the miles always help, too), and to my mom who sat in her chair and let me vent all over the place.

Are all writers emotional, or is it just me? Man, I hate the swings from euphoria to despair. Gotta go write!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Five Weird Things About Me

As a loose challenge from Charity, I give you "Five Weird Things About Me". I have to be honest, I'm having a hard time coming up with five. Not because I'm not weird -- I am -- but when it's me, it feels normal. So, here goes. Hopefully they'll come to me as I type.

1. I hate being breathed on. Hate. It. Even by myself. When I sleep, I have to cover my arms or make sure they're out of the way of my breath. It absolutely drives me batty.

2. I cannot stand pictures that hang crooked on the wall. Makes me nuts. I have to fix them. A lady at a gallery recently saved my life -- she told me to use TWO nails in the wall so that the picture never moves. So the last time I hung pictures, I pulled out my level and used two nails. Ahhh....

3. I can't fold construction paper with bare hands. The feel of that fuzzy paper against my fingers makes my skin crawl. Just thinking about it is sending chills up my spine. Ewww....

4. I hate being restrained physically. I absolutely flip out. One guy I knew thought it would be funny to tape my hands behind my back, just to watch me freak out ... until I got away and dialed 9-1-1.

5. I won't eat chocolate with fruit. Ever. Yuck. Strawberries dipped in chocolate? Nope. Chocolate covered cherries. Ick. Don't put nuts in my chocolate, either. Chocolate is perfect just the way it is.

================And In Writing News ================

I'm stalled.

The end of Liv moves w-a-a-a-y too fast, and needs a massive overhaul. Add to that some pretty harsh feedback I received (note: I'm not saying undeserved, just harsh) on my beginning, and I can't get past thinking it's all a crock of dog excrement.

This, too, will pass. But until it does, I'm playing with Playing House for a while. I had a great idea regarding that story last night -- which was strange, because I haven't even thought about it for months. I don't want to lose writing momentum, so want to move forward on something.

Oh the joy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You've Got My Number

Your Life Path Number is 8

Your purpose in life is to help others succeed.

You are both a natural leader and a natural success.

You are also a great judge of character.

You have a head for business and finance. You know how to make money.

A great visionary, you can see gold where other people see nothing.

In love, you are very generous - with gifts, time, and guidance.

You love to inspire people, but it can be frustrating when they don't understand your vision.

Great success comes easily for you. But so does great failure, as you are very reckless.

You are confident, and sometimes this confidence borders on arrogance.

Your purpose in life is to help others succeed.

Uh, no, I'm selfish. I want to succeed... well, okay, there is that group I moderate, and that class I just offered to facilitate. But they don't count. It's all about me, Me, ME!

A great visionary, you can see gold where other people see nothing.

See, herein lies the problem. The stores? They don't let me spend gold only I can see. They're funny that way.

You love to inspire people, but it can be frustrating when they don't understand your vision.

I keep trying to drag others forward, kicking and screaming, but it doesn't always work - it's that old horse and water thing. Don't they understand what I see for them?? Don't they? Huh?

Great success comes easily for you. But so does great failure, as you are very reckless.

Oh yeah. Great success. Easy stuff. Want my autograph?

You are confident, and sometimes this confidence borders on arrogance.

Um, unfortunately, this one's pretty much bang on.

What's your lifepath number?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Little News...

I had another very, very short, short story accepted at Flashshot. Honestly, I keep submitting short stories because it's a morale boost when they're accepted. Now, if only I could get Womans World to love me, I'd be all set. They did send back a comment on one of my stories that they loved my "breezy" way of writing, but my story was improbable. Clearly, the editor never worked in the restaurant biz.

I'm puttering along on Liv Leigh and thinking about trying to clean up the first 25 pages or so and enter it into a contest to see what people who don't know me think about it. There is no rat involved, so maybe I'll do better than two out of three... of course, there is a ferret, but he doesn't show up in the first chapter.

I'm still not ready to tackle a synopsis, although the first draft is done, so I know what happens from beginning to end. I started one, but I'm rambling (kind of like what I'm doing here, now). Not to mention the fact that I need to add a couple of important scenes, and I don't know where they'll go. So, guess I'm looking for a contest without a synopsis requirement.

I am going to have to get over my fear and aversion of the dreaded synopsis soon, though. I'm hoping to query Liv in the next few months. And those silly agents like to know what the story is about.

In other news, my husband stayed home from work yesterday because of the weather -- we went from sunny and 60 degrees to snowing heavily and 25. That's just wrong. Anyway, my whole week is going to be off a day now. I'm already trying to remember that it's Tuesday, not Monday. This could be a mess.

Okay, I'm babbling, I'm tired and I need to shut up now. How was your weekend?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Out of My Brain and on To the Paper

What do you do when you can't translate what's in your brain to your story? As an author, it can be incredibly frustrating. We can see our characters clearly, we know what makes them tick, we know their quirks and their fears...all things we need to know to make them real.

But what happens when we don't get that down?

I have a character, Camilla, who loves to sing -- even though she can't carry a tune in a bucket. But, do I have her do her karaoke thing in the book? Nope. I have a picture in my head of her dancing around in her lingerie to some silly seventies disco song ("Shake your groove thang, yeah, yeah"), but it never happens. Why not??

Liv is helpless in the home: can't cook, can't clean. I wanted to thrust her into a situation where she had to do those things, and watch her struggle through them. Did I do that? W-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l... sort of. But not to the extent I had envisioned in my brain.

Also in Liv's story, I have critters. She hates critters. I had scenes in my head of great things involving the critters and Liv. Did they happen? Uh. No.

What the sam hill is going on here?? I'm the writer. I control the scenes. So why isn't this coming out the way I had planned? The depth I long for isn't there. It's in my head, but not on the paper.

I moderate a romance writing group at WVU. Last week I posted a writing prompt that involved using several seemingly unrelated words in a short piece. It was great fun and I think all the members had a blast using it. I remember reading over what I wrote and thinking "Now, that's the kind of detail I want in my regular writing!" Because I had to find a way to use these odd words, I took careful note of the things going on around my characters: sugar packets, toilet paper on a shoe, polyester pants, the color of the booth seat, the waitress's expressions... it was, IMHO, one of the richer scenes I've written in quite a while.

Now, I just need to do the same thing with the story I hope to get published. Sheesh... what does it say about me when my throw-away pieces are better than my novel?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What's in a Name?

I ran my real and my pen names (which are remarkably similar) through the Kabalarian website just to see what came up, and now I need to tell the folks that they apparently named me incorrectly, and I did a much better job of naming myself.

Take a look.

Real name analysis says:

You desire a home and family of your own and have the ability to create understanding and harmony in family association as you are pliable, forgiving, and tactful.

Though the first part is true, I may be the least "pliable, forgiving and tactful" person you'll meet.

You love children and would not hesitate to care for any children who might need you.

Again, only partly true. In general concept, I do love children, and if it was a choice between me taking the child or it being dropped in a dumpster, I'd take it in a hot second. BUT, I don't like being around children particularly. I can deal with my DD because she IS my DD, but get me around more, and I'm decidedly unhappy and uncomfortable.

Whenever possible, you avoid argument and turmoil because you prefer not to face an issue if it means hurting anyone's feelings.

ROFLOL... Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..... excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor. Me? Avoid arguing with anyone? Puh-leez...

Now for my pen name analysis:

Your first name of Marianne has made you happiest when you are expressing in some creative, artistic way, and not conforming to strict routine.


In a large group of comparative strangers, you are quiet and rather shy, unable to express yourself, not really wanting to become involved in conversation.

Also true. I hate large groups of people and am painfully shy on the inside (I hide it well, really I do, but inside I wither up and die).

On the other hand, among friends with whom you feel at ease, you are expressive, witty, and quite charming.


These contrasting natures make it difficult for people to understand you and can lead to friction in your personal life.

**lies back on couch, hand on forehead** "But, Doctor, no one truly understands me." Actually, joking aside, again pretty true.

You are deep, philosophical, and refined, but your extremely sensitive nature causes you to become depressed and self-pitying over any real or imagined slight.

Very true. Well, maybe not the "refined" part.

So there you have it, proof positive that children should be allowed to name themselves.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

This is True...

Because we're getting new livingroom furniture today and my house is a disaster and my husband is on a tear and... well, you get the picture. So I'm cheating on the blog today, thanks to Charity who found this quiz.

You Are Balanced - Realist - Powerful

You feel your life is controlled both externally & internally.
You have a good sense of what you can control & what you should let go.
Depending on the situation, you sometimes try to exert more control.
Other times, you accept things for what they are & go with the flow.

You are a realist when it comes to luck.
You don't attribute everything to luck, but know some things are random.
You don't beat yourself up when bad things happen to you...
But you do your best to try to make your own luck.

When it comes to who's in charge, it's you.
Life is a kingdom, and you're the grand ruler.
You don't care much about what others think.
But they better care what you think!

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened...

Yesterday, some things happened that, in retrospect, were pretty odd and would be interesting to put in a story.

My neighbor, who is in a wheelchair -- and is a very grouchy guy -- has two dogs. Chow's. Antisocial Chow's who come into my yard constantly to do their business. Dogs who don't even care that they get zapped with their collars when they cross the invisible fence. Dogs who will not come when they are called, and who have caught on to the "let's go for a ride" trick when their owner is trying to catch them.

Yesterday, I'd had it. I looked out, and there was Tuko, the white Chow, lifting his leg on the stakes for my bird feeders. In my slippers, rag in hand (I was cleaning my windows), I flung open the door and starting chasing. I must have circled my house twice, running full boar, trying to get that *&^%$ dog out of my yard and stop peeing on my plants.

His owner was wheeling down the road calling him, and the dog was keeping a good ten to twenty foot space between him and us. My dog is going nuts inside, wanting to come out and play. Meanwhile, my neighbors other dog is looking on in amusement.

At that time, one of my Avon customers stops by to pick up her order. There I am, all made-up and glamourous (uh, Not) in my slippers, gasping for breath, holding a dirty rag. To top it off, this particular lady is afraid of dogs, and I have one loose in my yard.

And, as I stood there gasping, all I could think about was "how can I use this in a book?".

It's a little like the time my daughter -- as a toddler -- stuck her face in the dogs water dish to take a drink, and all I could think of was "where's my camera?" (um, I scrapbook in my spare time).

Incidentally, looking over this, it's not as funny in writing as it was in person. If I'm going to put it in a book, I might want to work on that.

So, what about you? When stuff happens to you, do you jot it down to use in some form later on?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Shove in the Right Direction

My poor husband came home from a really, really long day at work yesterday in a very down mood. He doesn't like his job, but works it because it allows me to stay home with our daughter and still eat occasionally.

He told me last night that I need to get published so he can quit. I told him that unless I wrote a run-away bestseller, my book wouldn't make enough for him to be out of work for more than a month or two. He promptly replied that I'd better write a bestseller then, because he was sick of working at his job.

He dreams of being a mechanic again. Deep down, he is a blue-collar guy, and really hates the white-collar world.

Still, it was kick in the pants for me to get busy again. Even if I won't earn an advance the size of "The Historian", I can contribute, and that would be a good thing. Poor hubby deserves to be happy.

Originally, I wanted to have at least one of my three novels ready to query by summer. I'm bumping that up. I want one ready to query by my DD's birthday in April. If I bust my butt, I should be able to make that. And, I have two other WIP's waiting in the wings. I'm also seeking paying short story markets and will be throwing my numerous shorts in that direction.

Found this quote this morning, and like it, so decided to share:

When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound. Rebuild those plans and set sail once more toward your coveted goal. -- Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Every morning, I waste time bloghopping and reading the news. I never watch the news anymore because of my daughter, so everything I know, I get online...

The past few days have been truly strange in the world of online news, and it does make the writer in me sit up and take notice.

Check it out:

Pop a Pill to Forget -- Scientists are developing a pill (egads, there really is a pill for everything) to erase bad memories. I thought about it, and decided that I want to keep my memories, good and bad. They are part of what makes me who I am. But I guess that's not so true for everyone.

Parrot Tells Owner: Your Gal's Cheating -- A blabbermouth parrot named Ziggy squawked "I love you, Gary" — spilling the beans to his owner on his girlfriend's affair.

But this one tops them all (you have to scroll down a bit to find this story): News of the Weird -- With an Oakland Tribune reporter and 20 people looking on in November in a parking lot in Fremont, Calif., Tu Jin-Sheng, 50, "grandmaster" in one of the Chinese arts of Qigong, pulled a rental truck several yards using only a piece of fabric tied to the base of his genitals. Jin-Sheng is supposedly a leader of the branch of Qigong known as "Iron Crotch," whose 60,000 adherents worldwide believe that strengthening the genitals increases energy. To warm up for the pull, Jin-Sheng had an assistant kick him hard between the legs. [Oakland Tribune, 11-23-05]

So... where do writers get their ideas? Good grief... they're all around us!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sitting on the Floor

Yesterday, I sat on the floor in our "school room" (actually a little cubby on the second floor behind the master bedroom) waiting for DD to take her math speed drills. And I noticed something:

Underneathe the heating vents (we have hot water heat -- and so have those awful things all along the base of the walls... I hate 'em) it was BLACK with dog hair. I vacuum just about daily -- I have to because the dog sheds worse than I do (which is saying something), but apparently never got down on my hands and knees to notice the hidden spots I missed.

I promptly got the vacuum and cleaned it up and then made a promise to myself --- to never sit on the floor again!

As I thought about writing this on my blog, I wondered if I could apply the idea to writing. So bear with me as I struggle through, since I am not very good with metaphors (remember that blog I wrote on symbolism?).

I'm focused on editing right now and am determined to get something, anything, ready to submit by summer. I've gone through about 2/3 of Liv Leigh and focused on the basics (but have most assuredly missed all the @#*&^% passive voice that's there): grammar, weeding out the stupid stuff that is out of character, trying to shore up the weak points in the plot.

That's my daily vacuuming. I'm not moving the furniture or looking under the heating vents.

During the second edit, after gathering feedback on the first one from a few trusted crit partners, I will hunker down for the hard stuff. I will "sit on the floor". I'll peek under the furniture and the heater and the bed. I will make sure every last bit of that novel is clean.

And then I'll invite the company over... er... send out my queries.

But first, I have to hunker down. And sit on the floor. Even if it's a little painful and makes my bum sore.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Grace Notes

I was perusing my book "Grace Notes" by Alexandra Stoddard -- you're supposed to read it every day, and I've been slacking. It's interesting to note that the past few days have all dealt with using time wisely. Ironic, but interesting:

Lost time is never found again." - Benjamin Franklin

Tomorrow's life is too late. Live today. - Martial

"Action! Action! Action!" - Demosthenes

I'm trying to take them to heart since I haven't written an original word in over a week that's worth anything. Mostly I've written garbled brainstorming that amounts to nothing I can ever use.

It's frustrating to feel this blocked, and I've tried all the "tricks". I am writing something -- at the very least, I'm writing this blog daily, but I want to produce something I can submit somewhere. A poem. A short story.

Editing on Liv isn't going well, either. I'm struggling through, bit by bit, but it's an unbelievable chore, and I still have the thought that I'm short such a huge amount of words.

Wah, wah, wah. Welcome to my pity party. Guess I should stop whining and get writing as per Ben's words of wisdom, above.

What about you? What do you do to kick writers block to the curb?

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Thanks to Mary, I know what I'm blogging about today.

What were you doing ten years ago?

Working two jobs to help pay for my upcoming wedding!

What were you doing one year ago?

Not working outside the home anymore (see...it all comes back to you), and doing about what I'm doing now: homeschooling my daughter, writing, being a wife and mom. Though, last year I was determined to submit a novel, and I didn't make that goal. Shoot. I'd forgotten about that.

Five snacks you enjoy.

Dark chocolate in any form -- except when it has nuts. Yuck.
Salsa with Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits - I eat it by the gallon
Popcorn - but it has to be smothered in butter
Dry roasted peanuts

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics.

Just five? I must know a couple hundred. I can remember once, in high school, my friend C.D. (waves) and I challenged each other to see who could write down all the lyrics -- from memory -- to "Renegade" by Styx first. I don't remember who won.

Still, because I live with a 6 y.o., I know pretty much all the songs from:

Mary Poppins
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Lion King
The Sound of Music
The Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack (My DD loves this, and we listen to it over, and over, and over).

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire

Buy a new house on a decent amount of property with a separate MIL house for ME -- I crave my own space.
Buy a house for my mom.
Open a shelter for unwanted & unadoptable pets to live out their lives
Pay off my brothers house
Take my DD to Disney World in style

Five bad habits

Not exercising enough (is this on everyones?)
Not playing enough with DD
Having a short temper
Not eating right
Not being as a good listener as I'd like to be

Five things you like doing

Going to the movies (which I seldom do anymore... *sigh*)

Five things you would never wear or buy again

Black spandex dresses
Low rise jeans (will they ever go away??? I hated them in the 70's!)
Blue frosted eye shadow
Leg warmers

Five favorite toys

Toys?? Erhm.... hubby has all the toys. Let me think...

My dog?
My daughter?
My record player (yup... I have one to play my 300+ vinyl records)
The leaf blower, when it works
Board games?

Five people I’m tagging

I don't think I know five people well enough to tag who have blogs...so, if you read this - you're tagged. How's that?


Hey... that was four!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I HATE Editing

Argh!! I'm tearing my hair out. Editing takes all the fun out of writing. Really.

Lovely Liv Leigh is giving me fits. I think I just figured out something that makes something controversial make sense in the story (and OMG that sentence needs some serious editing help) but it means that I need to go back and rewrite the dickens out of the entire blasted story. ACK!

I don't know if I can face it. But I have to. I must have at least one of my novels ready for submission by summer to meet my goals. I want to start Liv in contests just to get an idea of how other people feel about her and if she makes sense.

I can't do that until all this *&^%$#%^& editing is done.

Can you tell I'm a little frustrated?

Okay, I'm procrastinating. Guess I should get back to work.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Fanciful Friday....Random Ramblings

This has not been a good week for writing -- between a family tragedy and eye problems, I haven't been on the computer much. I did feel obligated to keep up with my blog and that was a good thing.

As previously noted, I turned 39 this week and began to feel my mortality a little. I gave myself a facial and have promised myself to make more of an effort to take better care of myself. As a SAHM, I have a tendency to get sloppy about my clothes, hair and makeup. No more.

I also realized that poor hubby only got to see me first thing in the morning (in my warm but ugly jammies) and late at night (when I have huge bags under my eyes, my hair has frizzed and most of the makeup is gone). He must wonder what he ever saw in me! So, another promise made was to get dressed, brush hair and apply makeup first thing in the morning. I'm up at 4 a.m., so this shouldn't be a problem.

I have been working on some writing this week, but it isn't flowing like it usually does. I've worked on brainstorming a short story for Womans World, but it's become w-a-a-a-a-y too long, and there's no good way to shorten it, so I've decided it must be meant for somewhere else. Now I just need to think of another plot for WW.

I had weird dreams all night last night.

I dreamed that my brother lied about my niece, and that she was happy, healthy and energetic (the family tragedy alluded to, above, is that my 8 year-old niece lost her battle with cancer).

I dreamed that my dog was chasing kangaroos in the back yard. Now, we have deer, foxes, bears -- even fisher cats. No kangaroos. Bet a dream analyzer would have a field day with that one.

I dreamed that I was in high school (OH NO!) and participating in a beauty pagent. In order to participate, I had to have all of my teachers sign a waiver. It was at that moment I realized that I hadn't ever attended my math class. It wasn't something I'd done on purpose, I'd just forgotten I even had a math class. And then I couldn't remember where it was to get the teacher to sign off on my waiver.

I am so weird.

But I wonder if any of these dreams could be part of a story? Maybe not the kangaroo one...

Am I the only one who has really odd dreams? C'mon, give it up.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Oh NO! I'm Short!

Okay, actually I'm pretty tall, but my WIP - Liv Leigh - is about 12,000 words short for the line I'm targeting. I'd planned on adding words during my revision, but have instead deleted . A lot. I sat down and added up what I have written which is now about 225 pages. Of course, this is without chapter breaks, so that will add some. But not enough.

12,000 words.

I have one place, at the end, where I'll probably add about 3,000. Beyond that, I'm clueless and that still leaves 9,000 more words.

See, I can still do math, even if I can't reach my total words goal.


12,000 words.

Wants vs. Needs

I got a brochure in the mail two days ago for the New England Chapter RWA Conference and am eaten up by the desperate desire to attend.

My hero (heroine?) is a scheduled speaker - Jenny Crusie will be there and Bob, her new sidekick, will be there as well. I'm dying here.


Because, well... I like to eat, too. And have a roof over my head. And clothes for my family. I just spent a small fortune on glasses for me and for my poor, blind daughter. Even if I could find someone out there to share a room (anyone reading this going?? Wanna share a room? I don't snore -- though I am an early bird), I don't think I could swing the rest.

I have until February 9th to decide. Or to win the lotto.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'll Cry if I Want To

Today is my birthday. (happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me) This one is difficult -- the first one, really, that's thrown me for a loop -- though next year may be worse.

I'm 39.

Now, I know many of you have already attained this wonderful age and are probably snickering out there in the background... but the thing is:

I don't feel 39.

And alternately, I feel every day of it. My hips ache and my bones creak and I'm getting my own set of wrinkles.

I celebrated my birthday a day early yesterday by buying myself a little gift.

An eye exam and reading glasses.


I suppose it is better than the alternative and I have a lot more I'd like to accomplish in life, though when looking back I don't see a lot of accomplishments there (with the notable exception of my daughter and I had help in creating her), so I guess I'd better get busy.

Hey! I just thoguht of something... Charity gets to give me a birthday present by posting her blog today at The Wet Noodle Posse. I always love to read her stuff... I could probably read her grocery list and be entertained.

Two last things.


Your Birthdate: January 11

Spiritual and thoughtful, you tend to take a step back from the world.

You're very sensitive to what's going on around you, yet you remain calm.

Although you are brilliant, it may take you a while to find your niche.

Your creativity is supreme, but it sometimes makes it hard for you to get things done.

Your strength: Your inner peace

Your weakness: You get stuck in the clouds

Your power color: Emerald

Your power symbol: Leaf

Your power month: November

And two -- is it my imagination, or do Pat Benatar and Nora Roberts look like they could be sisters?


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Who Are You?

I popped over to Jenny Crusie's blog to read the latest installment of the 12 Days of Mare and perused her brief charater list for Mare. And that's when it hit me...

My characters are boring and two dimensional. Okay, maybe I'm being a little hard on myself, and maybe I'm just really jealous cuz Jenny gets to go shopping and by cute things and write them off on her taxes, but still...

I tried to fill out the questionnaire for Liv that she used for Mare on her blog and couldn't answer all the questions. And that, my friends, is a HUGE problem IMHO.

I love her idea of making a collage, though I can't build shrines or really anything much three dimensional since my darling husband would burst a gasket at the clutter, but I could glue pictures and words onto a bit of poster board and stick it over my desk.

I have also decided to look for an artificial miniature rose plant with orange flowers as inspiration (the plant is the first gift Mike gives to Liv). It has to be artificial for two reasons: 1. I work in the mushroom pit... no natural light; and 2. I cannot keep miniature rose plants alive.

I'm off now to find pictures -- I need a ferret, a mastiff, a rose, a copy of "Dogs Playing Poker", character pix, maybe a wrench or other tool... could be fun.

It could also be me putting off editing some more. Sorry Darcy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Small Victory

I got an email in my inbox today and I am having a little bitty, 100 word story published in Flashshot. I don't think it'll actually be published until sometime around May, but it's still a little thrill that someone liked what I wrote.

And... I get to check off one of my monthly goals. So far, so good!

Humor of a Six Year Old

Apparently, when I was very young, someone told me I didn't have a sense of humor. My mother says that I promptly went out and found a book of jokes and memorized them. See... even back then, I knew you could find anything in a book -- even a sense of humor.

My daughter doesn't have this problem. She drew this for me last night:

She also doesn't suffer from a lack of creativity. She's determined to be a writer and shared this story with me:

Not too shabby for a six-year-old, huh?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Symbolism? I Don't Need No Symbolism...

I've come to the conclusion lately that I'm pretty one-dimensional when it comes to reading and writing. I read what you say and take it at face value, likewise what I write is exactly what it seems to be. The butterfly is just a butterfly, not a representation of how my heroine longs to spread her wings.

Many, many moons ago I dated a man who ran the Tower Corporate Art Gallery in Sacramento. Being a "corporate" art gallery, it was all what I call Modern Art. No pictures, no pretty landscapes or still art. Just lots of colors and geometric shapes.

He and I took a good friend of mine there, and this good friend was an artist of sorts -- and clearly far deeper than I. She and Paul would look at a picture and make all the right noises and then she would say something along the lines of "I see anger."

All I saw were dots.

I can remember in my English Lit class how I would shake in my shoes when the teacher asked us to identify symbols in the short stories we read. Just what did Kilimanjaro represent to Hemingway (anyone else out there hate Hemingway and Steinbeck??? UGH)? I still don't think I know.

I bring this up because a very talented friend posted some writing recently that I obviously Did. Not. Get.

Other folks left stunning feedback about what this series of events represented and how it was clear what motivated the character to do those things. I took it at face value and I think I missed something.


Does this mean my writing will always reek?

Will I drive my readers crazy trying to figure out what the butterfly represents, when it's just a friggin' butterfly?!?

Can you surgically remove shallowness and transplant deep thoughts?

What do you think about symbolism?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Challenge Response -- Where I Write

Paperback Writer mentioned that Lee Goldberg issued a challenge for everyone to post a picture of where they write.

So far, I've seen Jenny Crusie's office and, thanks to Jenny, Susan Elizabeth Phillips office, too.

I work in the mushroom pit aka the Basement.

Here's my desk (please note that a laptop was on the Christmas list, but Santa decided I wasn't quite good enough last year):

My daughter gave me the Ty Beanie Baby Rat that sits upon my monitor when she found out I had a rat in Camilla's Critters. He's my constant inspiration.

Next is a closeup of my "I Love You" wall -- the dried roses from the only time my husband ever celebrated Valentines Day with me (he's not big on celebrating any holiday) and several cards and hand drawn pictures from my DD:

Behind me is this bookcase full of writing books, autographed romance novels and some of my scrapbooking supplies.

Beside me is the bookcase where I keep DD's craft supplies, my Avon samples, brochures and bags, stationery and some misc. curriculum I've purchased for DD but she's not quiet ready for yet. If you look carefully, you can see the open door that leads to the laundry room AND to the cat's litter box. Ahhhhh.... Ambiance. Just right for romance -- ooh la la.

It's small and untidy, but it's home.

Anyone else game??

Virgins in Romantic Fiction ... Urban Legend?

I've been pondering characterizations... and wonder how the general public feels about something.

Virgins in mainstream romance (as opposed to inspirational).

Do you think it's believable that a girl "waits" even if she doesn't have a faith-based reason for it? And, if so, how old is too old to make this believable? 18? 25? 40?

My main female characters are never sexually promiscuous for a number of reasons -- the biggest one being that I don't enjoy writing - or reading - about a character like that. Erotica? Not my cup of tea.

So, adult virgins. Believable or an Urban Legend?


Oh, and Darcy? I'm getting there! Only a few more pages and I'll have the next bit of Liv for you. I swear -- I'm working!

Eye Candy

Didn't have a lot to say today, so thought I'd just have a picture show.

First, I'm posting a picture of one of my characters... well, he's a real person, too -- but I can't for the life of me remember who this very yummy person is. Anyone? Anyone?

Why do I think that Bill Pullman is so cute? From the first time I remember seeing him in a movie ("Ruthless People") I had a crush...

And, though I know it's cliched, and everyone likes him -- I started to fall for Matthew in "A Time To Kill" but "The Wedding Planner" clinched it (but he could stop smoking those disgusting cigars any time and I wouldn't complain):

Though the first crush I can remember was from when I was in single digits... My favorite song was "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" sung by:

Good old Donny is still looking good!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Writing Ideas and Homeschooling

I gave blood yesterday. Not my favorite pasttime, but necessary in my opinion. At least they found my vein the first time this visit -- instead of having to poke me in both arms like last time.

My six y.o. daughter came with me and -- after fielding all the usual questions "why aren't you in school?" "I'm homeschooled" -- she settled down into a chair beside me to watch the goings on. I think that the lady taking my blood was surprised that I carried on a conversation with my daughter nearly the entire time. DD was full of questions "Why does the scale rock back and forth?" "Why can't you move your arm?" "Why are you squeezing that spongy thing?" and so on.

Life is all about education, don't you think? As a homeschooling mom, I try not to miss any opportunities to teach. Grocery shopping? Math! Vacuuming? Physics and P.E. Thank You cards? Handwriting, Grammar and Creative Writing!

I think, as writers, we do much the same thing. The world is full of ideas -- and sometimes it only takes one line of a conversation or one odd person to walk by you in the store for a seed to be planted. But we have to be aware and diligent. Look at everything as a learning opportunity. Write down as much as you can remember about the old lady in the baseball cap who mysteriously disappeared from her bench at the park when you turned away for a heartbeat.

My DD's constant questions (and constant talking!) can wear me down by the end of each day, but I try to answer them. And children think of the strangest things!

Do flies have ears? Not as such. However, they can detect vibrations through their antennae and hairs on their body and limbs, and so they can hear in some way. Grasshoppers and some other arthropods do have 'ears' in the form of membranes called tympanae, which appear as small patches on the body.

How far away is the moon? The moon is at an average distance of 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) away from Earth. That is about the width of 30 Earths. Because the moon does not orbit Earth in a perfect circle, but instead travels in a slightly elliptical orbit, its distance from Earth varies between 225,700 miles (363,300 kilometers) and 252,000 miles (405,500 kilometers).

I'm storing away this information to use in a book someday. Hope she comes up with some more!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts for a Topsy Turvy Tuesday

Random thoughts are dancing through my head this morning. I've tried to relegate my randomness to Fridays, but since I haven't a clue what day it is anymore, what with all the funky holidays and having my husband around constantly... I think I'm on a weekday today, but cannot be certain!

I TiVo'd a FitTV workout by Gilead the other day. My DD and I put it on yesterday and exercised. I made it through about 10 minutes before pooping out. Many folks seem to think I'm in good shape because I'm not obese. Ha, ha! Fooled you! That's going to change, though. I've sat on my rear long enough. Take that cellulite!

I puttered through some of the groups at WVU this morning. It's been quiet there because of the holidays so there wasn't much going on. I did, however, stumble upon a hateful (and in my opinion) unwarranted attack on a WVU member that I respect. He's been posted op-ed pieces in a group that was all but dead after asking if that was okay and receiving no word otherwise. I more often than not disagree with his opinions, but they are well written and politely submitted.

Recently he was lambasted by a person who is consistently hateful and rude. This person joined the group (only for a short time, thankfully) that I moderate, and has since floated from place to place, unable to find a permanent home. And no wonder. However, I am on the fence about something. It's really not my place to respond to his attack, but I want to tell him that I think he was out of place. I'm just not certain if my skin is thick enough to take the hateful response I'm sure to receive in return. And really, would it serve any purpose? I laid awake last night thinking about what kind of person this member must be, how sad and angry he is inside. I still haven't come to a conclusion...

Yesterday, I packed up three big boxes of toiletries and snacks to send to "my soldier" in Iraq. I had hoped to include dozens of letters and cards from people to the soldiers in the hosital near where he is stationed. I sent out the call ... and got lots of "that's a great idea" and "As soon as I have time". You know what I didn't get? Letters. Cards. I'm so sad that my friends have time to go spend hours at a local book sale (and, trust me, I understand the allure) or watch six different reality shows on TV but can't take five minutes to write a note to our servicemen and women overseas.

I'm having eye problems. I have been for a while, but it's getting worse. I can't see to read anymore unless I close one eye -- they aren't focusing together. I've always had "better than perfect vision" (which I still don't understand, but the eye doctor seems to think it makes sense... better than perfect sense, I suppose). I'm fighting against getting glasses, but I'm clearly losing the battle. I'm calling for an eye appointment this morning. I really hate getting old -- this is how I'll celebrate my upcoming 39th birthday. Oh. Joy.

I am grateful for the weather here -- it's been quite mild for winter in New England, warm (well, in the high 30's) and rain instead of snow. For the first time, I'm glad I'm not living in California since I would be underwater right about now. Still, I do miss the friends and family I could have shared my raft with.

Lastly, can I count the words I've written on this blog toward my daily goal?

Hope all of you have a wonderful day. I'm off to plan DD's school day.

Monday, January 02, 2006

On Clean Desks and Cluttered Minds

My husband is a neat freak. For those of you who know him, you will understand that this is an understatement of epic proportions.

Still, he's rubbing off on me a bit, and I've been trying to straighten up -- especially my office which tends to get overlooked since I don't have a bunch of foot traffic going through it like I do the upstairs.

Yesterday, I was looking for a book. A book I used to keep on top of my desk next to the printer. A few weeks ago I cleaned off the top of my desk. It's just lovely now, with the printer, a kleenex box, a tiny CD player and a picture my daughter drew for me. However, I have absolutely no freakin' idea where I put that book.

See what happens when you clean? Up until then, I knew exactly where it was.

I was blog hopping a bit yesterday, and discovered this entry on Jenny Crusie's blog. Take a gander at her office.

If she can create her masterpieces in that chaos, well then I should be able to do half as well in twice as much. Right?

BTW, speaking of Jenny, she and her new co-author, Bob, now have a joint blog. Whenever you're looking for a giggle, you can check it out (along with her personal blog, referenced above).