Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Just Write Challenge

Whatever your writing goal, you can meet it with the help of the Just Write Challenge. Your fellow challengers will offer you support and motivation on your writing journey.
For the new year friend Melissa came up with a plan to jump start her writing and she is inviting all to join her. For January, she is encouraging writers to set up their goals. The real challenge begins in February. If you are looking for a challenge or simply need to get back into the writing swing of things, check out the Just Write Challenge.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Girl of 100 Lists

Christmas is over, the decorations have been stored away and my two month hiatus from real life has come to an end. As much as I enjoy the holiday season, I am not sorry to see it go. I don't understand how people can continue to leave decorations up after the new year, it seems so depressing. Ah well, my house is pretty much Christmas clear and my thoughts move on to the new year.

Usually this is a time to think of changes I want to make in my life. I ponder my existence and come up with a list of goals I desperately wish to achieve during the coming year. My resolutions run from the mundane to the extordinary. Most of them are pretty common. Very few of them are ever completed. They are lofty and lack any forethought on how I plan to accomplish them.

My problem is that my goals come from my heart and not my head. They are as substantial to me as unicorns and sparkly fairy dust. If I were ambitous, I would sit down and devise a strategy for each of my goals, map out a plan and follow it. Unfortunately, I'm not that ambitious.

I'm a list maker. I like lists. I have all sorts of lists on my computer. I like to be told what to do, even if I'm the order-giver. I can follow my own instructions as long as they are simple and written out. Eventually I internalize my list and it becomes a good habit. For example, I can't leave the house if my bed isn't made. Making my bed was on my to do list for so long, I finally just did it without thought.

So I only have one resolution this year. I'm going to make lists. Before I got to bed I'm going to make sure my lists are made out and in order. While its not a sure-fire way of accomplishing everything, it doesn't take much thought or heart to get something done.

Oh, and bonus points if you know where the title of this post came from.

Currently Reading:

Monday, December 29, 2008

If You Are a Writer Living in the L.A. Area.....

This is from my local chapter. Thought it was pretty interesting...

We want to get you read

Now is the time to work on that story idea sitting in your head or in that file box.

East Valley Authors (EVA), the West Covina chapter of RWA is offering you a chance to complete your manuscript and have it read by an agent or editor.

We are sponsoring a “Book in a Year” campaign.

Staring January 3rd each monthly meeting will sequentially focus on the process of completing a book.

Any manuscript started in January or February 2009 and completed by January 2010 will be sent directly to an agent or editor without you having to do a query letter.

To participate you must
1. Be an active member of both RWA and EVA
2. Attend six of the monthly meetings and six of the critique groups that meet after the general meeting.
3. Have no more than one full chapter completed before the Jan. 3rd start date and have the story finished by January 31, 2010. (You may start in either January or February).

We are inviting you to participate.

EVA membership is Membership is $15.00 per year and $1.00 per meeting. The first meeting is free. EVA meets at the Barnes and Noble in the West Covina Mall the first Saturday of every month at 10:15.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bad Reading Habits

I dogear books. I bend them until the spine cracks. I lose the jackets of my hardbacks. The pages of the books I read are usually sprinkled with cookie crumbs or blotched with spaghetti sauce. The tell-tale warp of the pages reveals my penchant for drinking beverages when I read. None of this really bothers me (if the book is borrowed, I'm far more careful...or I borrow books from people with the same habits). I do something worse.

When I was a kid I loved getting the T.V. Guide and reading ahead to find out what happened the next week on my favorite shows. I was never satisfied waiting until the next week to find out what was going to happen. What new fantasy would Mr. Rourke provide on Fantasy Island? Would Gopher get a date on Love Boat? And lets not get into the soaps. I remember sneaking peaks through the soap magazines at the grocery store to find out what was going to happen to Bo and Hope.

I'm just as bad with books. I always catch myself going to the last page. Usually it doesn't mean much. The hero and heroine have generally ironed out their differences and author rewards us with a light epilogue which gives us a glimpse at the love birds. But I take it a step further. I read random pages, trying to get a preview of what lies ahead. It's such a habit I don't notice it anymore. I love to be in the know. And I'm curious. With the "Twilight" series I was desperate to hear how it all ended, however, I didn't really care for the first book. The thought of plodding through all of them didn't appeal. Luckily my son got peer-pressured into reading them and he gave me the cliff notes version.

Am I the only what that does this? What bad reading habits do you have?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Most Busiest Time of the Year

Just when I thought I was out, the Toys R Us ad appears and pulls me back in.

If you have multiple children of sentient age, you understand the issue of balance in this gift-giving season. They know exactly how many gifts each has gotten and will claim "unfair" if those numbers differ. Quantity rather than quality is the issue. Doesn't matter what totally awesome toy they recieve, they will whine if their sibling gets more. So I've been running around with my list trying to make sure things are even without going into extreme debt. Of course, the days I have done this have been rainy and cold. Nothing like freeway driving in a icy rain storm with wind advisories, but my children are so worth it. Oops, better not roll my eyes too much or they might get stuck.

Anyway, yesterday was my crowning glory and, I think, the end of my shopping for the kids. Now I need to finish shopping for my husband. This is where I get irritated. I get coupons for Bed Bath and Beyond for 20% off of one item. Okay, there are three items I wanted so I have to keep going back to the store to get these items. Now there are other things I want there but I'm not going to waste my coupon on them. However, if the coupon extended to the entire purchase, I would spend a lot more. Heck, even 15%. So I will be making my third trip to BB&B today. And only buying one item.

I enjoy so much of the holiday season but too much of it is spent running. Yesterday I was carting Girl Scouts around in the rain to do Christmas caroling and while the girls had fun it was hectic. I've got teacher gifts to buy still and cookies to bake. Mind you, I love making cookies, but not when it is hurried.

But I'm taking a time out this evening. My hubby and I scored some free tickets to see "Australia." My folks are taking the kids and hubby and I get an evening to ourselves, a small break in the chaos of the next week. I'm not that interested in the movie, but the thought of down time without the bustle of everything else seems like Nirvana to me.

Have you found this season to be stressful? What do you do to relax?

Currently Reading:

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I can see my WIP, a minimized window on my computer, opened to the spot I last wrote. All I need to do is click and the pages will blossom before my eyes. And yet it doesn't move. I switch to email. I go to Facebook. I look up cookie recipes. Eventually I get out of my chair and do some laundry or dishes. I watch television or play a computer game. Anything but maximizing my document and writing.

Its avoidance. I know it, no reason to deny it. I have plenty of excuses as to why I can't write at the moment. Too many other things to do. Life is too busy to devote to my writing. I'm sure these concepts are familiar to most of you. The excuses may differ but avoidance is still the end result.

What am I avoiding? Well, my book is nearing its end. Truly, I could probably finish in a couple of weeks and take another week to edit and polish. In no time it would be ready to submit to my agent. But there's the rub.

Dark visions fill my head. I'm dream of sending it to my agent and hearing "gee, I didn't know your six year old could type. She does a pretty good job. Oh, I'm sorry, you wrote this? Easy mistake." Or maybe she loves it and can't wait to sell it and again I hear from editors that they just don't love it enough or they don't know where to put it in their lines, yada yada yada. And with the gloomy news about the economics of publishing, only people named Nora Roberts or Stephen King are going to get published.

Before I got an agent, I was pretty oblivious to things. I wrote the book I wanted without worrying whether someone was going to like it. The apple was so far up the tree I could only dream about it. Now I have an agent and I have a stepladder to get to that apple. The goal is within my grasp but darn if there isn't a stiff wind blowing the branch away from me. I think I'm more pessimistic about my writing than I was before. The dream isn't nearly so golden anymore.

Oh, I haven't quit writing. I will finish this book and I will submit it. Despite my bleak view, I still believe in dreams of publication. I'm a writer and I enjoy writing. I also believe in my work. And like the lottery, you can't win unless you play. I won't have any chance of publication if I don't submit. And in the scope of things, there are worse things in life than rejection.

How hard do you take rejection? Does it hinder your writing?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Shopping

Last Friday my son's jr. high had a fund raiser at the local B&N the other night. I came with list in hand. There were several romances I wanted to pick up along with a couple of fantasies and a mystery.

I was doomed to disappointment.

This is a big store, fairly new that serves an area of about 300K people. Its always busy and well-laid out. I like shopping there. However, the romance section was dismal, unless all you wanted to buy was Nora Roberts. I don't have anything against Nora but the shelves were full of nothing but her, as well as the other big time NYT-listers. The variety was so weak, I didn't find any of the authors I was looking for. The shelves were filled with multiple copies the big authors' books. Not even a full catalog of their works. I felt like I was in the book section of a grocery store. I've seen better variety at Wal-Mart. The fantasy section where I tend to spend more of my time of late, was filled with variety. Lots and lots of different authors shared space with the big names. The mystery aisle was the same. And the children and teens' sections boasted a cornucopia of books.

Next time I'm down there I'm going to ask the manager about the meager offerings in romance. I'd love to know the reason. Why is the biggest selling genre given the least presence? I could start on a rant about the fact it is a genre written by and for women, but I won't. Maybe this Barnes and Noble fancies itself a high-toned and above the smut of romance. However, considering the number of books they carry which are based on MMORPG video games, I don't think that's it either. Most romance readers I know are voracious and they are looking for variety. They are constantly in the search of new authors, eager to hear a new voice. Anyway, it made me happy for Amazon.

Currently Reading: Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Diva the Jock

Saturday was soccer, soccer, soccer. My daughter had a game at 10 a.m. then another at 3:45. My husband ref'd at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. then a 1 p.m. game for another division. My daughter's team won both games so we play again next week. If rumors are true, we could be playing through January.

As you can imagine, I have mixed feelings. I'm really thrilled my daughter's team is doing so well. They are a great group of girls and they play well as a team. Its fun to cheer her own and I get caught up in the excitement. On the other hand, I do miss my Saturdays.

This is my first experience with this level of kids' sports. I wasn't much of a jock as a kid. I played softball for a few years but it was always pretty limited. Once your season was over, it was over and I was never good enough to extend my play. By 5th grade I wasn't into sports at all. My stepson was in baseball briefly and Supernerd did baseball and soccer for a few years. He really wasn't into it but we made him do it to keep him active. He's glad now because he can at least swing a bat in p.e. and understands the basics of soccer. But like his mom, he's a book worm and far more content at home with his laptop.

Diva is the opposite. She is a jock. It's tough to get her to sit down and read. She can read just fine, but she doesn't enjoy it like I do. She gets impatient with her friends when they come over and want to play video games when she wants to go outside and ride bikes or skateboards. This weekend I caught her asking her dad about the football game on television. When he gets home from work she demands he take her to the batting cages. The motion is constant.

It is odd having a child like this. Its good, I enjoy it, but sometimes it makes me dizzy.

For those of you with kids, do you have a child who is the opposite of you in interest and skills? For those who don't have kids, are you the opposite of your parents?

Currently Reading: Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dead Mouse, Dead Rat

First, before plunging into a post I wanted to congratulate the NaNoWriMo winners. Awesome job. Kelly and Joely are true inspirations. For those of us who didn't win, hey, there is always next year. I got about 23K words before I totally lost focus. I was actually on pace to win but I couldn't keep up the momentum. But I was pleased with what I did. It felt nice to write something strictly for myself without any real eye to the market. However, it was frustrating to realize that if I had worked on my real WIP, I'd have been done in three weeks. I have less than 30K left to write on my book. Ah well...

So over the Thanksgiving weekend we decided to look for the Christmas decorations. We have a storage unit and thought they were there and that they had been mistakenly taken by someone using the space so it seemed prudent to search for what we did have. Hubby opened the attic and swearing immediately ensued. He found a monster dead rat in a rat trap. Since the remodel we have had rats in our attic. Not a bad infestation but certainly one I'm concerned about. Luckily the nights have been chilly and ratty hadn't decomposed to the point of absolute gore so he was pretty easy to dispose of. But we decided to empty the attic. It will be easier for the pest control guy to block up the access. We did find our missing decorations (oops!) an a lot of other stuff.

Oddly enough we emptied the attic last year for the remodel but I didn't have a chance to really look through the stuff. Found some real treasures. I forgot I had a postcard collection. I found a tee shirt from when I worked at Mervyns. It said "Mervyns Super Saturday" on the front and "Open, Open, Open" on the back. Does anyone remember that ad? Anyway, that's a keepsake. There were little mementos from when I got married and a time capsule I did back in jr. high. There was lots of stuff I felt very little connection to. I'm not one to get lost in sentimentality. But one thing I did find was my writing from high school. Ouch. Over 150 pages of handwritten schlock. It was a historical (I think) and just painful to read. It made me smile.

It reminded me of why I'm a writer. In those sloppy words, I found the roots of my madness. There is a certain rough beauty in the prose. I was so obviously determined in my writing yet oblivious in its content. But I could see why I was writing. I loved it with abandon. There was a poorly conceived world on those pages which pulled me in and set the course for the rest of my life. I'm glad I got a chance to revisit that moment in time. I didn't keep it out. It is the past and it belongs with the past. I boxed it back up with the other symbols of my faraway youth. But I do think it is important to take a look back from time to time and see where you've come from. Its a good reminder of why we are who we are today.

Speakings of memories, do you remember life without computer mice? I remember getting my first mouse for my 386 computer back in 1993. It was cheap, only about $10 with the little rubber ball that had to have a mouse pad. Now I have cordless mice for my laptop. The damn thing died. But I had another one, roughly the same age and that died too. I was sans mouse. I do have a touch pad on my laptop, but I can't stand it. I know some people are artists with a touch pad, but not me. Anyway, I found myself totally at a loss. I barely used my computer for almost a week. How could I become so dependent on such a puny little device? I have a sexy little red number made by Microsoft. I'm hoping this cordless mouse will last longer than my Logitechs.

Are you mouse-dependent?

Currently Reading: The Hunger Games