Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Synopsis Done

There are few things in life that feel better than when a migraine fades away. I've been fighting one all day and it's only just now going away. The satisfaction of losing that blinding pain is damn near orgasmic! I hate migraines!!!!

Anyway, I was able to get some writing done at lunch today: another 2,000 words on "First" and what I think is a nicely paced dramatic scene wherein my female MC leaves her people forever. Last night I was able to finish off the last of the GS synopsis and get it all typed up. Tonight (hopefully!) I'll have the wife do a mail-merge to get all the addresses, etc. for the agents I'm contacting and get them all out in the mail ASAP. Who knows, I may actually have them in the mail by the weekend. (Yes, I know you've heard that before but let's not quibble, alright?) I managed to cut the synopsis down by nearly six full pages from the original draft. I did a lot of polishing and simplifying. Hopefully it'll be enough to catch someone's attention. I put even more work into the query letter itself. I really like it. I think it grabs the readers attention and gives them a feel for my writing style in just under a single page. Let's hope the agents agree!

Had another contractor in last night (and yet another coming tonight!) but at least this guy's numbers were in line with what we'd expected to see. the last two were much higher. Which of course is now making us nervous because we can't decide if the first two are trying to hose us or if the new guy doesn't know what he's doing. Have I mentioned being a homeowner sucks? I'm still waiting for prices from one other contractor (excluding tonight's entry) before we start making any decisions. Can't wait till it's all done and I can sit my ass down on the couch and watch football all day wihtout the wife pointing out the things that need to be done on the house that are not magically happening whilst I observe the mystical scrying box depicting battle betwixt the Giants of NY and whatever other srub-ass team dares challenge them! (Could that sentence be any longer?)

My wife was watching "Airline" last night when I came out of the office. The woman is addicted to realit shows! Tell ya' what: when I was young, thin, and handsome (even before I started dating the wife) I had a lady-friend who tried to talk me into becoming an airline steward. she pointed out that I'd get to travel all over the world (free!) and get to spend my time in a female dominated career that would provide me much oppportunity to get . . . well, you know! (Mile High club, here I come!) I came damn close to doing it too. Stewards made good cash at the time (compared to the construction work I was doing, anyway!) After watching that show though, I am damn glad I never followed through on it! I'd have to kill half the jack-asses who show up in airports. My sympathies to all who have to make their living dealing with drunken, pissed off, tired, and frightened airline passengers!

I'll say in my little room and type stories, thanks.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Much Ado About Birthdays

Sorry for the late day post, work kept me hoppin' (it's Monday, what else would you expect?) and I didn't have a chance at lunch to shoot this out. I got some stuff done over the weekend (writing wise) I finished the revisions on the "Godslayer" Synopsis though I didn't have a chance to type them in and start getting them out. I'll do some of that tonight hopefully. I plugged in another 1200+/- words on "First" as well. I'm a little annoyed at myself for the slow movement on this piece. I just seem to be dragging lately - not just on the writing but on everything. I'm a little strange that way. I hit pockets of depression from time to time where all I want to do is sit on the couch and mope over how much my life sucks (even though it doesn't!) I don't know where it comes from or why but I've learned that all I can do is push through it. I feel bad for the wife and kid when it happens: I ain't exactly the funnest guy to be around at these times. I'm sort of like this giant, over-stuffed sock puppet who sits on their couch with a sour puss on.

I'm thinking that exercise is once more the culprit here. (Clever readers will note my careful lack of reference to same over the past two months!) Translation: my fat old ass ain't been workin' out at all! I know, I know! I just can't seem to get the focus for it. If I even think about it my body goes into this massive slump and I can barely keep my eyes open. Why? Beats the crap outta me! I have never had much of a reasonable understanding of my own twisted psyche, so I'm not the best guy to ask. (Ask my wife, I'm sure she'll answer you at great length. She knows all about my twisted psyche!)

We went to Medieval Times this weekend for the boys SECOND birthday party. It was actually a lot of fun (I was particularly impressed with the equestrian demonstrations!) but if you're going, bring a whole lot of cash! These folks have got a brilliant marketing scheme going: you MUST show up 1-1/2 hours before the show begins to be admitted and where do you wait? Why at the GIFT SHOP and the BAR of course! You try to tell small children "No, you can't have anything." when they're standing in a gift shop for an hour! (Luckily, our crew were all older and didn't cause a hassle but I saw some rugrats there that needed a serious ass whoopin' . . .) Even so, the boys were -understandably-thirsty after the long car ride and standing there waiting for another hour (and it's warm in there too . . . accident or evil scheme? You decide which!) so we bought them all sodas . . . at $5.00 each!!! (Oh yea, they saw us coming!) Over all though, the show was very entertaining and the food was surprisingly good. (eating with no utensils is always a cool thing!) I do recommend visitng, but as I said: be sure of the bank account first!

My birthday celebration had to be postponed until next weekend, which is cool by me. The wife and boy have something planned and we just didn't have time this weekend. Me, I'm just thrilled that the wife actually remembered my birthday this year! (Oh yes, this has been a source of much irritation in the past and the wife will no doubt scorch my ears for bringing it up yet again! Hi, Dear!) I'm not real hard to please, don't need gifts, or parties, just a simple: "Happy Birthday!" and a hug does it for me. (and cake . . . one must never forget cake!) Still, a quiet day with the family will be nice, so I'm looking forward to it.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Freud and Patriotism

1700 words on "First" today and a sizeable chunk of the editing on the GS Synopsis done last night. That makes me happy (the fact that it's Friday don't hurt either!). I moved onto the next chapter in "First" and introduced my second MC for the first time. I really like this character! She is young black woman from a tribal culture who can see the future and has some limited magical ability. She has to abandon her society and enter a culture she has no understanding of to meet my other MC and help him save the world. If she does not, her entire race will die. The kicker is, in order to do this she has to cut herself off from them completely and she can never go back. Talk about a beggar's choice! I needed something to really focus on with this character so I did a little online browsing and came across a pencil sketch of a woman who was just . . . her! I downloaded it for reference and I've been looking at it as I write this section. it is scary how perfect that picture fits her personality. I've never tried a visual like this for my characters before. It seems to be working really nicely so far. I've already picked up a few details and character points I hadn't thought of just by being able to see her face so clearly.

It is the weekend once more, so I won't be posting for the next two days. Saturday is the second of the boy's birthday parties (that still kills me! TWO parties!) and Sunday is actually my birthday. Yup, I'll be 38 years old (which reminds me, I'l need to update the header at the top of this page!) How in the hell did that happen???? Christ, I'm pretty damn sure that I just turned seventeen last week, but the driver's license tells me no . . . (actually, so does the mirror but I think all mirrors are just an evil conspiracy by the Dark Gods of Time anyway!) Here's a scay realization for those of you in my age range (or beyond) - for most of us- we are now older than our parents were when we remember them from our childhood. Think about that for a minute, then go off and cry in a corner somewhere.

More contractors last night and tonight, and the possibility of paying someone to do my basement is fading further and further away. Looks like I'm not old enough to beg off the home construction work yet. I'll be down there swinging hammers and cursing like a drunken sailor over all the things that won't work the way I think they should. I am so NOT looking forward to that! Ah well, it'll all be fine so long as the wife stays away from the construction area. There is nothing certain to fuel a fight between us faster than her walking into the room after I've spent six hours struggling to get a pipe through the wall and having her ask: "Why is it taking so long? Are you sure you know what you're doing?" or even worse: "I don't like it there. Can we move it?"

Two words: "Justifiable Homicide".

To be fair, I am just not good at taking criticism from the significant other. Other folks can point out my mistakes and shortcomings all day long - no problem! When the wife says even the most casual criticism though, it goes right up my spine. Yea, I know: it's an insecurity thing. I need constant reinforcement from the person I love the most to validate my sense of self-worth. (how's that for a load of Freudian crap?) Honestly though, I definitely respond unfairly to her smallest statement but I don't know how to stop. Oh well, after 15 years, she's learned to deal with it. She flips me the bird, calls me an asshole, and we move on. Now that is a successful marriage!

Just a quick aside here . . . I was watching the news last night and they were covering Cindy Sheehan and showing a bunch of people with different opinions of her protest outside the President's ranch. I had to take umbrage with one elderly woman's statement. She said:

"This woman is saying that America is not worth fighting and dying for! I can't accept that!"

That pissed me right the fuck off. Cindy Sheehan has said nothing of the sort! This woman's son joined the military and made the ultimate sacrifice. Let's not question the Sheehan family's patriotism, alright? More importantly, I don't think Mrs. Sheehan is saying any such thing. I'd bet money she believes America is worth fighting and dying for. . . She just doesn't think Iraq is.

I agree with her.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Stupidity

The level of stupidity of which I am capable never ceases to amaze me.

I sat down last night to print out my query letter and synopsis for "Godslayer" and realized:(drum roll please!) . . . I had never finished the god damned synopsis!! Don't ask me how this happened, I have no idea. The only thing I can say is that I lost track of where I was while I was away on vacation. In any event, my silly old ass forgot that I was only 3/4 of the way through the synopsis and that it still needed much polishing. So, last night was spent finishing the synopsis and tonight will be revising it. If that goes well, I''l print them tomorrow and get them in the mail Saturday. Other than that, no writing done yesterday (or today) because I'm travelling for work. Hard to write when lunch time is spent in N.J. traffic . . .

I'm also a little bummed right now. The contractor called with his numbers for the home renovations last night and it was damn near DOUBLE what we were hoping to spend. It's looking like I will be going back to doing most of the work myself. I was really hoping -for once- to be able to pay someone and get it done in a reasonable amount of time instead of taking every weekend for the next year to do it on my own. Ah well, such is the life of a poor homeowner.

Did I mention that I got in another 2,000 words on "First" the night before last? This has become my magic number. I can crank out 2K in just about an hour without breaking a sweat. Imagine what I could do if I were working this full time! (Actually, I imagine keeping that pace for several hours a day would wear me out pretty damn quick, but I can see me doing 3000-4000 words a day without too much trouble) It's a wonderful feeling to know I can output like that consistently. Time was: if I got a thousand words in a month I was kicking ass! If you're having trouble writing regularly I suggest you do a little mental visualization. Picture your writing as any other part time job: you have to sit down and do it if you expect to get paid. If your significant other asked you to go to dinner when you were scheduled to work, you'd tell them you couldn't go and if your kids wanted to play a video game you'd say: "Sorry, I have to go to work now. We'll play tomorrow." That's what you have to do. if you don't treat it as a profession, you'll never be a professional!!! (says the guy who forgot to finish his synopsis!)

Well, it works for me anyway. Take it with a grain of salt though, as you all know I've only published one short story in my life so my opinion and a dollar might get you a cup of coffee.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Teen Beast

The day is going pretty well so far. Not much writing today at lunch (just a quick read through of the "First" outline") because I was finishing up the PowerPoint presentation I'm doing for the Boy Scouts. It came out really nice. I had a lot of fun adding animations, etc. along with my commentary. Don't know if anybody else will like it but it makes me laugh! (which is -after all- what really counts, right?) Scout meetings tonight, so probably no work tonight either but one never knows. The wife is actually coming to the meeting tonight, she volunteered to run our popcorn fund raiser this year and needs to talk to the adults about setting it up. Should be interesting to have her there. She's still on the fence over this whole Scouting thing. She likes the program and what we do but she is not happy with how much of my time it takes up. I'm hoping that, being involved herself, will give her a better perspective about it. (If not, I'll at least get to laugh at her as she scrambles to get this thing running, so it's good either way!)

We had another contractor come in last night. We liked this guy: he actually walked through the project and discussed every phase of it with us. He even had some input and suggestions on how to make things easier. He's still crunching numbers so we have no idea what his prices will be like but I think both the wife and I would like to work with this guy, so I hope his numbers are good!

So, my boy is actually twelve years old now. He is just on the cusp of becoming a teenager and last night he gave my wife the old: roll-the-eyes-in-an-exasperated-teen way and muttered "God!" under his breath when she told him to do something he didn't want to. Ah yes, here comes adolescence! Well, being the wonderful dad I am, I did what any of you would do . . . I picked him up, threw him on his bed, and proceeded to tickle him and play the bongo on his head until he giggled out an apology to his mother. (Okay, so Dr. Spock I ain't!) I can't really complain. He is a very cool kid who really doesn't give us a hard time over anything. He talks to us constantly (oh, and I do mean constantly!!!) about what's going on in his life and I don't think he could lie to us if he tried. All in all, I think we're pretty damn lucky as far as the kidling goes.

Just thinking that I might have time to print out the first few queries after the meeting tonight (provided I get home early enough!) Yes, I'm still procrastinating on it. It is a very big -very frightening- step. I'm going to feel like crap if they all come back as rejects. (I know, I know! Keep trying, don't give up . . . but I hate rejection. Good career choice for me huh?) I really will get them out this week. I think I'll ask the wife to help me get all the addressing, labeling, envelopes, etc. all put together. She's great at that sort of stuff.

Anyway, I'm out for now.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Tragic Mondays

It's Monday, and I am in pain (as if the fact of it being Monday doesn't hurt enough!) I was at a BBQ for the Scouts yesterday and the entire Troop decided they would try and dunk me in the pool (they failed, of course!) However, my neck is killing me and I have little finger shaped bruises across my upper arm and chest. Those kids came at me like they were a pack of rabid monkeys and I was a ripe bunch of bananas! We also played Adults vs. the kids in volleyball and water polo. We (the big fellas) beat them soundly in all events. (Now, lest you think this was an unfair competition, let me point out that at all times the boys had double our numbers!) Despite the bruises, scrapes, and soreness, I had a great time. Even the wife had fun, she actually hung out for the entire afternoon talking with the other maternal-type attendees. (no doubt villifying we paternal-types!) The boy was -of course- one of the aforementioned monkeys, so he was quite content with the day's proceedings as well.

We also had a BBQ for the boy's birthday this weekend. He got his surprise gift: a new computer (top of the line and tweaked for gaming) and he loved it. That was what he really wanted and I figgered he's not a half bad kid to have about so what the hell? That whole day went nicely as well. The wife and I actually managed to avoid screaming at each other for the entire day - quite an accomplishment for us when there's a lot of work to be done! So, to go along with the boy's computer, I got my new laserjet (actually, it came with his system but I stole it, giving him my crappy inkjet) so now I have no excuses left for delaying the agent queries. They will be going out ASAP!

Actually got to take a lunch break today and get some work done on "First", to the tune of 2,000 words. Not a bad thing. I like the way this is working itself out actually. I originally conceived it as a sort of "young man coming out from his father's shadow" sort of thing and I meant to have a very contemplative tone to underly the all the action (of which there will be a great deal) but -as always- the characters have their own ideas and they are coming off very hard edged with a distinct military bent that I didn't plan on but it fits the story perfectly. The MC is a young officer who needs to hold his own amidst an assembly of very hard men, so he's not the innocent young man trying to grow up I originally thought. He's a very sharp, dangerous, and hard man who is being underestimated because of his age. I love it when the book surprises me! I like this new personality much better than the one I started with. This man is much more likeable and human than the original. The nervousness was still there when I started back into the story today but it slipped away quickly and I was left with a smile on my face as my fingers flew across the keys. That is writing!

So, I was thinking about tragic characters last night. The boy put on LOTR again (for the 300th time - which is perfectly cool by me!) and I was thinking about Boromir. He's a great tragic character. He's likeable, understandable, and incredibly human in his failings. You desperately want him to win through but his own weakness betrays him. That -to me- is the heart of a tragic character. As I thought about it, I realized that all my favorite novels (the ones I have in hardcover in my library and reread a hundred times) all have tragic characters. Strangely, I've never written a tragic character. I'm wondering if that's something I need to correct. I think the TC is a great writer's tool but I've seen it poorly done (oh, and it's very sad when it is!) and I'm not sure if I'm avoiding it because I'm afraid of screwing it up or because they don't fit my stories. I tend to wrap up things nicely at the end of my tales; the MC's win and the bad guys lose. The only ones who are in any real danger are usually secondary characters to whom the MC has an emotional tie but there is no damage to the plot line when they go. I'm thinkin' I need to look at this a bit more closely. I may be skirting an important issue in my writing. What do you folks think? Anybody else have experience with writing the TC?

Ah well, time to return to the real world. Another contractor is coming in to give estimates on the renovations tonight. Yay. Much fun.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Wishes and Fishes


It has been nothing short of insane this week. Work has been running me ragged and every night has been taken up with the house, contractors or general running about. The writing has come crashing to a complete stand still and I don't see it easing up through the weekend. We have the first of the boy's birthday parties (yes, you read that right: "first"! The boy gets two parties, one for family one for friends. Nah, he's not spoiled . . . MUCH!) so I will be yard tending, cleaning, setting up and then cooking for all the guests (BBQ of course!) after which all his cousins will be staying for the night (which is alway a lot of fun actually) Then on Sunday, we have a Boy Scout BBQ and Court of Honor (for which -I just remembered- I need to do some shopping tonight!) See what I mean? The crap keeps piling up.

We had contractors in yesterday to waterproof our basement with an underground drain system so I had to leave work early to be there with them. They got all the work done (after a few minor issues got resolved) and it seems to be working fine. I'll know for sure when I get home tonight . . . It is pouring outside right now like Noah plans to float by at any moment. I truly hope I don't walk into a basement swimming pool!!!!

I'm getting nervous about "First" now. I think it's just the outline thing again but every time I think about working on it I get butterflies in my stomach. How damn silly is that? It's only another book, right? I've written three this year already but for some reason this one is worrying me. The old feeling of "I can't do this, I'm not good enough" is suddenly rearing its head once more. I hate that!!!! What the hell is wrong with my head that I panic every time I even start to smell the remote possibility of a fleeting chance that I might conceivably -on some far distant day- become a professional writer? Am I afraid of success? I understand some folks are. I never thought I was but who knows? All I can say is that I sometimes get frightened looking at the blank page in front of me and a part of me wants to just turn off the computer and go watch some bad re-run on TV. I've read enough other writers blogs and bio's to know I'm not the only one who feels this way and that should make it easier. I know (in my head) that it's just part of the process and I need to push past it but my guts still go along their own merry way, telling my head to shut the fuck up and mind it's own business. (Yes, I am sad to say I do actually hold these types of internal conversations!)

Ah well, I'll get past it. I will be a professional and I will not quit until I am. (see the little train? I-think-I-can. I-think-I-can . . .) I got my new laser printer in and I will (try to) get the agent queries out in the mail next week. Wish me luck! (Or, you can wish that I hit the friggin' lottery. That would be good too . . .)


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another Day in the Life

Sorry about yesterday's lack of a post but it was a choice between 20 minutes of work on "First" or 20 minutes posting. Sorry to say, you all lost out on that vote. (I know! I feel terrible about it too!) The day at work was crazy and I only had enough time to scarf down a sandwich as I typed with my free hand. (I don't recommend this. Not only is it hard on the wrists but you keep dripping tuna on the keyboard . . .) I did get in about 600 words which -while sad- is still better than nothing at all.

Last night we had a contractor stop in to talk about waterproofing our basement. This was the second guy we had in and his price was less than 1/2 of the first guys for -literally- installing the exact same system! We hired him and he'll be doing the work tomorrow. It will be the first step in our renovations. The basement has been leaking since we bought the house and we can't finish the basement until it's finally dry. The wife is absolutely thrilled about the prospect of not walking down to do the laundry and finding four inches of water waiting for her . . .

We still have to meet with a bunch of regular contractors to do the kitchen and finish the basement. We actually had one who was supposed to come by at 7:00 a.m. today but of course the idiot never showed. I absolutely HATE that!! How do contractors stay in business when they never rerturn phone callss and don't show up when they're supposed to? Hell, that's why I switched from cable to satellite, folks! A little customer service goes a long way.

Tonight will be taken up moving the contents of the basement out of the way for the contractor so I don't know if I'll get any writing in. I really hope I can . . . this whole "life" thing is interfereing with my writing and it's beginning to piss me off! I really feel uncomfortable and jumpy when I'm not writing regularly. I get that sort of sickly feeling in my stomach that I get when I know I should go mow the lawn but I'm sitting on the couch watching football and eating chips instead . . . Know the one I mean?

Anyway, work is summoning me back after another short lunch. Gotta bolt . . .


Monday, August 15, 2005

Rampant Insanity

Late day post for me today. Monday was a beast (as always!) with four - count 'em: FOUR - trainees to deal with all at the same time today. On top of which, we are running tight on office space and computers in the office. We are growing faster than we can keep up with!

Writing tally for the weekend: NADA!

Between shopping, working the festival, working with designers and lining up contractors: the whole damn weekend blew by. We had a great time at the festival (Okay, by "we" I mean: me!) and earned a good bit of coinage for the Troop. More importantly though, I was able to feed my fat ass with wonderful Italian food, kettle corn, roasted nuts and a home brewed ice tea that was sent from heaven! (The wife and I both loved it and intend to try making it ourselves. I'll let you know if it's worth the trouble!)

So, while I was offline Holly Lisle posted a reply to my question about where the next World Gate novel was on her site. I am not pleased by the answer! The publisher is nuts if they don't finish out this series! This is really a wonderful story line and it's the kind of series that builds a slow and steady -but very devoted- audience. I wish I knew of a way to contact the publisher (Eos if you're interested) and let them know they should pick this back up. If anybody has any thoughts on how to change their mind, drop 'em in comments. This is top-notch writing and I hate to see it left unfinished!

Holly also had another post about "Writing for Readers" which I thought tied in nicely with a post from Will over on "One of Ours" which makes mention of my realization that my wife is a reader of this blog. I think Holly has it dead to rights though: you have to be yourself and write what you think needs to be said. Doesn't matter if it's in your books, or on the blog. Writing is writing and you have to let your inner voice speak freely.

So, the boy is spending the week at his grandmother's house. He's thrilled to get a break from us and our constant parental meddling. Grammy lets him do whatever he damn well pleases, which is always far cooler than my constant nit-picking (what the hell is a nit anyway and why does one pick them?) Anyway, I miss the little urchin. He may be a knucklehead, but that boy can make me laugh! That means wifey and I get to hang out together -alone- this week. Nah, don't get any ideas (Yes, I mean you! And you should be ashamed of such thoughts! Does your mother know you think things like that?) we're going to be spending all our free time with contractors to try and get our renovations underway. We have early morning, evening, lunch, and late night appointments with every contractor between here and San Diego at this point. It will be a hectic week. Will there be any writing done? I certainly hope so, but I ain't makin' no promises!


Friday, August 12, 2005

Evil Humor and Friday

End of the work week folks! I don't care who you are, or what your doing . . . Friday is ALWAYS a good day!

I got some more words in on "First" today, nothing massive (only about 1,000) but it's forward progress, right? I actually let myself be distracted over lunch by creating a PowerPoint presentation for the Boy Scouts about our last two trips. This is some entertaining crap for me! I'm taking all the photos from the trips and adding text commentary to each one. (It's amazing the abuse you can heap on someone with only a little thought balloon!) They should have know better than to ask someone with a sense of humor as evil as mine to do this! I'm going to have a blast showing this to the boys!

I've been feeling really tired over the past week and I don't know why. I've been getting to bed at a reasonable time but I still wake up feeling like I haven't slept at all. After work each day, it's all I can do to get dinner on the table. Last night, we went for a family swim after dark. That is always fun. It helped me wake up a bit but once I was back inside I was dozing on the couch in minutes. Not sure what's bugging me . . . maybe I'm stressing over the upcoming house renovations. I always feel tired when I'm stressing.

I'm dreading this renovation. Personal history tells me that it is going to take longer, cost more, and create more heaadaches for me than I can currently imagine. This is S.O.P. for my life and major projects. I want someone to come in, give me a fair price, do the work cleanly, and go away. Probability of that happening . . . Oh hell, I can't count numbers that big! I simply know it's going to be a giant clusterfuck.

Tomorrow night, we're working a local festival as a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts. We do it as a family every year and it's actually a lot of fun. I get to play carnival hawker (don't know if that's spelled right) while the boy sits in a dump tank and the wife hides her face and pretends she's not related to me! Very cool! You'd be amazed at how many people are willing to shed cash in order to see a small child get soaking wet! The boys always love being the guy in the "Wet Seat". They actually fight when we tell them they have to take turns.

Sunday, we're heading out to take a look at kitchen cabinets and I have to mow the lawn (of course!). I'm pretty sure I have at least two other things to do this weekend, but my microscopic brain is too tired to recall what at the moment. No worries, I'm sure the wife will remind me (forcibly if needed!). Hopefully, I'll have some spare time to get more work done on "First" as well. I'll be back on the next vile-day-that-begins-each-work-week and let you know how it goes.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Popeye and Girl Scouts

It's been a good writing day!

The seminar I had scheduled today was cancelled last minute, so I was actually able to sit and write over lunch. (woo hoo!) It was a solid run too: I got over 2,800 words in and I like all of 'em! It's nice to be back typing. Letting the words spill out of you onto the page (well, onto the screen actually, but you get the idea. . .) is without a doubt the best part of writing. That simple act of creation is where the real joy of this process comes in. I just feel . . . happy when I'm buzzing along on the first draft. The editing phase can be kind of fun too. It's nice to sit and polish your creation, knowing that each swipe of the cloth is making it shine a little more. The business end of writing (queries, synopses, submittals, etc.) is not so much fun. Oh, I admit I haven't that much experience with that end of it. To date I've been focused on improving my writing ability but I'm now getting into that part of the industry and to be honest . . . not too much of the fun there. Who knows? Maybe it will get better when I'm actually published! (It would definitely get better if I was published and making boatloads of cash . . .!)

Out running last night, looking at new cabinets & counters for our upcoming renovations. The wife and I actually managed to (gasp!) compromise on the type of counter we are going with. She called me a little while ago to let me know she found exactly the cabinets she wants online and I ain't arguing with her. She can have whatever she wants so long as I don't have to put that cheap-ass, ugly, formica crap on the counters! The boy was funny, he kept chiming in with what type of counter and cabinets he liked and he got the typical parental answer:

"That's nice. When you buy your own house you can put whatever you like in the kitchen!"

Is that parenting, or what? :-) I figure it's a good step above the smack in the back of the head my old man would've given me for speaking when not spoken to - so that's good, right? I'm sorry, but black countertops and blue cabinets are NOT going in my home, kid!

So while we were driving about last night, the wife and I were taking a trip down memory lane with the songs on the radio. We were telling the boy all about when we met and started dating, etc. He found that funny as hell, of course. I actally found it a bit depressing . . . there was a time (not all that long ago, dammit!) when I was thin, had hair, dressed well, could dance my ass off for hours on end, and had all the girlies lining up to tell me how cute I was. (Hey, stop laughing! I really did!) Now, I'm just this sort of big, bald, scary . . . thing! (sigh). Life is very unfair that way. The only girlies that line up for me anymore are the ones who know my fat ass will buy all their Girl Scout cookies.

Ah, screw the whining! To quote that eminent philosopher: Popeye . . .

"I am what I am and that's all that I am!"

There's philosophic gold in that simple sentence. Ponder upon it until next time . . .


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Gettin' There

I find a remarkable joy in going back to things I've written that I haven't looked at in awhile. I was reading through the outline, background, and the first few chapters of my novel "First" (the one that's bumping "Alex") and I have to say I'm pretty damned impressed with some of what I have there. It's better than I remembered. Oh, some of the writing is weak as hell, but the story and concept are not the "generic" fantasy I thought they were. They have a nice twist to them and the MC viewpoint is (I think) a pretty fresh one. The MC is a young man who, at story's beginning, has been banished (deservedly) from his culture and must find a way to come to terms with himself, his shame, and the new culture he must adopt as his own. I only did four full chapters on it last year but I like the beginning and the outline I did has some really cool things in it. I'm going to really enjoy this one!

(Ain't it sad how happy we get as we start each new book? Come back in three weeks and I'll be bitching about characters going places I never intended!)

I hope this works out alright. The outline has me worried. The three books I did this year so far have all been free-form writing. In the past, I've had trouble finishing outlined novels. Of course, I've had trouble finishing ANY novel in the past so I'm hoping that it was only general writing laziness that screwed me up & not the outline! I just have to remember that the outline is only a guide: I can go wherever I want and come back to it when I feel like it.

Running at work today, so no writing at lunch. I'm hoping to get into "First" tonight. I left off in the middle of a very cool scene and I think I can pick up the thread and improve the overall writing quality of the piece from here on out. Maybe it's imagination, but I can see a dramatic improvement in my writing over the past year. it's more concise, has better description, and I'm (sort of) getting away from the dreaded InfoDump. (Oh, alright! That's still there but at least now I recognize it!)

Ah well, off to cook dinner now. BBQ pork chops and a nice salad - great summer fare!


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'm Busted!

The cat is out of the bag.

Well, to be honest: it's been out for a while but I didn't know it. In speaking with the wife last night, I discovered that she is aware of this blog and has been a regular reader for some time now. Just goes to show that I should never try to keep secrets from her. She's smarter than I am and I always get caught. (which is why I almost never try!)

So now that I know she reads this will I censor my whining, bitching and moaning? Nah. She knows me for the ass I am and loves me anyway. Don't think she'd recognize me if I wasn't complaining about something. I do have to say though, it was pretty cool of her not to say anything about it earlier. She felt it was "my thing" and didn't want to interfere. The only reason it came up yesterday was because of something she read about blogs and legal actions yesterday that she wanted to warn me about.

I also found out last night that I screwed up (royally, as usual!) When I went to order my laser printer I discovered she actually was getting it for my birthday. (oops!) The denial was to put me off the trail of the surprise gift. I believe she was counting on my inherent laziness to keep me from getting around to ordering it before then. (usually a safe bet, but in this case I really want to get the queries out the door!) So I ruined her surprise. Sorry, babe!

I spent some time last night online ordering my boy's birthday gift (I'm not saying what it is - I don't think he reads this, but as you can see: I never know what's really going on around me!) so I didn't get to any writing. I did however stop to look at one of the novels I started about two years back and I was surprisingly pleased with it. I may set "Alex" on a back burner and jump into that one (yea, I know I'm wishy-washy. Especially when it comes to starting a new project.) I think "Alex" will keep me too long in backstory and not writing. I've gotten into a solid groove of regular work and I don't want to lose it, so I'm thinking I may be better off focusing on something that is ready for a full first draft and doing the world building stuff in my spare time.

For something completely out of left field: has anyone else noticed that we're being hosed by the fast food restaurant chains? We ate at Mickey D's last night and it cost nearly twenty bucks for three "value" meals! I remember when McD, BK, etc. were first getting big. Their major selling points were fast food at LOW prices. Not anymore! Their "value" meals cost nearly $6.00 a pop! I can go to the local diner and get their deluxe burger platter (with a burger 5X the size of the fast food place - and made of real beef!) with fries, letteuce, tomato, etc. for the same price and it's a hundred times better. It hasn't been shriveling under a heat lamp for three hours and the fries are actually hot when you get them! All you get now from these frachises is speed (and not always that!) I can go to any reasonable restaurant and get an excellent (possibly even healthy!) meal for the same price as going to any fast food place and the food is almost always better. (Except for Arby's. Nobody makes a roast beef like Arby's!) I think it's just become such a habit to stop at these place we never pay attention to the price. Stop and look at it the next time you swing into one.

There you go . . . that's my PSA for the week.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Good Book, Good Show, BAD Monday!

(sing along with me now!)

Monday, Monday!
Can't stand that day!
Every other day, every other day of the week is fiiinneeee yea!
But whenever Monday comes you can find me cryin' all of the tiiiiiiime . . .

Oh, alright . . . so that's not the actual words, but you get the drift. It is once more that most despised of days and I am ready to start carving large chunks of flesh off the backside of anyone foolish enough to wish me a "Good Day" (or say "hello" for that matter!)

The weekend was both good and bad. Good (from my wife's standpoint) in that I finally finished working on the bathroom, getting all her decorations, towel holders, hooks, lights, etc. installed. Bad (from my standpoint) in that I got no writing of any type done. I was even limited on brainstorming for "Alex" as I worked because my wife and I were arguing about what needed to be done and how. I can not write when I'm pissed off. It just doesn't go for me. I need to be reasonably calm when I'm writing or else everything comes out in clipped, angry description that I have to cut anyway. Anybody else like that? I've heard that some folk can actually use writing to calm them down when they're mad. I'm just the opposite. If I try, I get even more pissed because the person whose idiocy set me off is now keeping me from writing. I've learned it's a vicious cycle so I just steer clear of writing when I'm ticked.

Anyway, the bathroom is done and now we're moving on to major renovations of the rest of the house. Thank (Insert deity name here) that I don't have to do the actual work this time. I've finally reached a point in life where I can pay other unfortunate schlubs to do the grunt work for me. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! Still, this means mutual decision making and compromises with the wife. Never our strong suit I'm afraid.

I didn't get my laser printer over the weekend either (same reasons stated above!). I'm hoping to get it tonight or tomorrow but I shall not hold the proverbial breath. I did manage to get some reading done (easy way to ignore wifey when we're both mad!) I picked up "Gods Old and Dark" by Holly Lisle, the third book in her "World Gates" series. It was a great read! I love the whole concept behind this series, it's a wonderfully original and creative magic system. My only question (and Holly, if you're reading this, please feel free to post a comment) is:

Where is the next damn book?????

I only see three available anywhere and Holly has not posted anything recently about continuing the series. That does not please me! I really want to hit the end of this story line. I sincerely hope there are more coming down the line.

Watched BSG on Friday - the show just keeps getting better! My son went digging through our old video tapes to pull out my copy of the original pilot episode from the 1st series. He found it interesting but said that it couldn't hold a candle to the new show. I agree whole-heartedly! I loved the original, but the new BSG has a much stronger story line and better developed characters. I also love the new Starbuck character. Having a woman as the out-of-control hard drinking, hard hitting, sex fiend is a great change of pace. The character is also perfectly believable and remarkably likeable. (Katee Sackhoff isn't exactly hard on the eyes either!)

Ah well, work - and Monday - summon me.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Family Night

Well, I just got back from our Newburgh, NY office which is a 2-1/2 hour drive on good days (of which today was not one!) It took me 3.75 hours to fight my way home through summer traffic. Much happiness on my part right now, so I'll keep the post short, else I'll devolve into the reasons why we need to start thinning the human herd.

Tonight is family night (yes, we're geeks and do that sort of thing!) We're playing a board game of the boys choice, ordering take-out and at 10:00 we will be watching BSG! (Have I mentioned this is the best show on television?) No writing today but I came up with some very extensive and detailed plot points as I was driving (forever!) today. At least my training went well today. The folks I taught actually listened and walked out excited and appreciative of the stuff I'd shown them to make their jobs easier. All too often I wind up with morons who are going to do things the way they've always done them (regardless of how much harder it is!) and only show up to syphon off a free lunch.

I'll be around the house this weekend, so I may actually have some time to post. I will definitely be working on "Alex" and I will also be buying my new prnter to get my queries out. (Spoke to D'wife last night: that was not the present she bought me so I can get it this weekend.)

Speaking of my birthday, the wife is very entertaining right now. Whatever gift she got for me, she's very proud of it and can't wait to show me. It always infuriates her that I have no sense of curiousity about such things. She could put the thing in a brown bag at the foot of our bed and I'd never open it. I get more enjoyment out of the surprise than I ever could from the gift, so I won't peek. I'm funny that way. (Alright, I'm funny in a lot of ways, but I think it was very rude of you to point that out!)

Great weekend to all!


Thursday, August 04, 2005

At This Moment

Sorry for yesterday's lack of a post . . . the day was frikkin' nuts!

I was travelling for work and (of course) when I got to the office I was training in the folks there had forgotten I was coming and nothing was set up. (Nothing like feeling imprtant, eh?) I had to delay the seminar, get everything put together and ready to run, get lunch ordered and brought int, etc. It was ridiculous. After that I went straight home, took care of all the yard work I missed out on while I was away last week (sadly, one can not turn of the grass like a light switch. It keeps growing when you're not around. I find this to be a serious design flaw on God's part!) Then I picked up and cooked dinner (aren't I just the perfect husband?) after which the entire family just crashed on the couch. The boy put on "Highlander" the movie (The original kicks ass!) and we just vegetated as a familial unit. It was good.

I did get a decent amount of notes on the background and the preliminary stucture of magic for "Alex" on Tues. night. I've also been running the story through my head continuously so I've gotten pretty far with the plot; I just need to get it down on paper now. I am still dragging my heels on the Agent queries, BTW. I still haven't gotten out to get a new printer so I can get them in the mail.

--quick interruption of the narrative flow here. "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters just came on the radio. This has got to be one of the greatest songs ever written! I think Bruce Hornsby wrote it actually, though I'm not sure of that. Anyway, I love this tune and I even do a decent job on singing along with, if I do say so myself!--

Anyway, the letters will go out eventually. I am sort of waiting because I think the wife may have picked me up a Laserjet as a birthday gift because she changes the subject each time I bring it up so I'll wait the two weeks till my B-day and see what happens.

Other than that, I'm off to another training seminar today (which they ARE expecting me for -I verified this time!) and tomorrow I have to travel 3 hours each way to another office. The good thing about that is I don't need to stop in at my office at all. I'll head straight there, do my training, then straight for home. The bitch is that I'll be heading towards the Jersey shore late on a Friday afternoon in the summer when the forecast is for beautiful weather all weekend.

I should get home by mid-afternoon on Saturday.

If I'm lucky.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Acts of Creation

World building is intimidating.

I sit and look at the ungodly amount of work that has to go into the process and break into a cold sweat. (Big man + Cold sweat = Not pretty) Oh, I know it can be a lot of fun; the very idea of getting to play God in that manner is enough to make my shorts tight (OK, that was an image nobody needed!) but creating an entire world, culture, languages, history, not to mention workable systems of magic, commerce, religion, and government is daunting. Once I'm into it I do fairly well but getting started always gives me heart palpatations. I'm never sure where to start, ya know? Do I begin with the world or the culture? Do I start working on a magic system or figure out where people get their food from? So many decisions!!! ARRRGHH!!!!

In the case of my latest novel - working title = "Alex", BTW - I am going to start with the key elements of my story and work my way outward, fitting the world around the tale. I have always worked the other way, setting the world rules then adjusting my story to fit within those parameters. I'm hoping a new approach will yield better results. To date, I always get about 1/2 way through the world building process and let it go, opting to just make up the rest of it as I go through the story. "Alex" won't work like that though. I need a very solid structure for this story. I have to know much more about how everything works -and why- than I normally would. This story will have 5-6 sub-plots running through it and a whole lot of secret background happenings weaving between them all. On top of that the magic system and the social structure of the tale will both be very intricate and I need to have a solid grasp on how they work or the story is going to fall apart. There is also a lot of historical backstory I need to get arranged. Much of it won't appear in the book but I have to have it firmly in place to make the story play out in some logical fashion.

"Alex" may work out to be a YA novel (not sure about that though) which will be my first attempt in that area. I'm looking forward to it actually. When I was a kid I loved the sense of adventure and excitement YA books had. I'd like to try and capture that spine tingling sense of wonder and the desperate need to see "what happens next?". Besides, it's always good to stretch your horizons. (mixed metaphors are fun!)

Busy crazy night tonight. I have a meeting. The wife has a meeting. The boy is coming to one of the meetings (though he won' t be pleased!) I have to cook dinner, food shop, and do some more work on laying out the home renovations so we can fax them over to a contractor for pricing. The good thing is that I can continue the world building for "Alex" while I'm doing some of this. I'm pretty good about keeping this stuff in my head, which is why I usually give up on writing it out. I can recall the details of any given project of mine years afterward without any problems. This time though, I'm going to get it written down (no, really! I mean it!) I plan on giving myself two weeks to get all the necessary WB done before I try to start any writing at all and I imagine I'll be adding to the WB as I work through the first draft as well.

Ah well, that's enough pointless rambling for one day. I'll let you move on with your life now.


Monday, August 01, 2005

I'm Back!!!

Ahh, back once again. Yes, it is Monday and Monday sucks (work is right up my ass today!) but not even that most heinous of days can put a serious dent in my calmness today. I spent an entire week sitting alongside a 600 acre lake at the bottom of a huge valley deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the nearest town (population 347 - I kid you not!) was nearly three miles away and the only burg that might be considered large enough to even warrant a name in my native NJ, over 26 miles distant. It was a stunningly wonderful week. I spent time working with the boys and talking to them. I spent time with the other adult leaders, whittling, watching sunrise/sunset. I even had time to sit and quietly play my Native American Flute (the most relaxing instrument on the planet!) while gazing dreamily over still blue water alight with the dancing flares of brilliant sun upon it's softly rippling surface.


Then I came back to 78 e-mails, 21 phone messages, a lawn that needs cutting and a bathroom renovation to complete. And that's the easy stuff.

The week wasn't perfect of course: there was one night where I caught a stomach virus and spent the night using both the Pilot & Co-pilot seat in the latrine (any of you who've ever been to a BSA camp will catch the reference) at the same time. There was much time spent dealing with boys who also caught the bug, even an overnight hospital trip with one of my guys who had a severe asthma attack. (If you have never seen this before -I hadn't- it is some SCARY shit! He is one hell of a tough kid though and took it in stride. I was proud of him.) There was oppresive heat and some rain, but all-in-all the week was fantastic! We heard about the folks who died at the BSA NAtional Jamboree while we were there (we were on the other side of the state and in no danger.) It was a shame but I don' t know who thought it was a good idea to set up tents under power lines!!!!

So now I'm back and feeling ready to jump onto my next writing project. An entirely new concept occured to me while I was just relaxing the other day & I think I'll go with that instead of the dark fantasy I was expecting to do. This one will require a lot of world building and background before I get to the actual story but I think it will work nicely. I love the concept behind it. I'll keep you posted as I go and I'll let you know as soon as I come up with a working title.

That pretty much catches you up on the week. I won't bore you with all the tales (of which there are many!) of the trip. Suffice to say that a group of 30+ adolescent boys can provide you with enough entertainment in one week for a lifetime of stories!

So, to sum up: I'm back, I'm good, I'm writing, and I'm in a good mental place (for the moment!) I'll keep you posted as things change!