Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sorry State of Affairs

1. I have a cold. Complete with sore throat and the overwhelming urge to sneeze every few seconds. I'm suppose to give a dinner party at my house tomorrow night for 10 old high school chums.

2. Yesterday, without warning, the phone company shut off the service to my business. Turns out they misapplied a payment. Meanwhile, for hours yesterday afternoon and this morning, our customers heard: "We're sorry, this number has been disconnected and is no longer in service."

3. It's like a blizzard outside without the snow.

4. The heater in my house has been disconnected.

5. My mechanic just announced that my old car--the '91 Mercedes 500SL I never got around to selling--now has a blown head gasket, making it virtually worthless.

6. I went straight to bed last night, without writing 15 pages.

7. I'm not gonna "win" NaNoWriMo.

Boo Hoo.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

9,000 And Counting **See Updates Below

I feel like I wrote a sh*tload already tonight but as you can see, I've got 9,000 words to go. By 11:59 Thursday night.

Man, I'm tempted to give in. I mean, it's not like anything bad'll happen if I don't make it. Hell, nothing good's gonna happen if I DO.

Ugh. Doncha hate intrinsic rewards? 'Cuz that's all this is about. A few moments of clapping myself on the back. Is it worth the mental torment? Is it worth pushing myself the extra mile (or two, or three...or 9,000)?????

Okay. Deep breaths and let's break it down into do-able parts.

9,000 words equals roughly 36 pages. (Please note and REMEMBER that on a good day, non-Nano time, I eke out TWO, THREE, or sometimes FOUR pages). At my recent Nano clip however, I've been known to scribble (okay, TYPE) upwards of ten.


If I write three more pages tonight, and then fifteen tomorrow and fifteen on Thursday, voila. (Update #1: See? I can't even do math properly anymore. I have to write SIX more pages tonight...and that sound you hear is me sobbing inconsolably.) (Update #2: Yee haw! Up to 43,000...and I must've done the math incorrectly again (too tired to figure out where I went wrong)...7,000 left to go, two days to do it in, 3500 per day, FOURTEEN pages (not FIFTEEN) per day!)

Then I upload that sucker to the NaNoWriMo boys and get some sort of flag icon to put on my blog saying I "won" NaNoWriMo 2006.

Oh, hell. I'm going for it.

Peace out.

...And Puppy Dog Tails

The newleyweds add a "child" to the mix--his name is Toby

Toby learns to climb steps

Uncle Jake on the left; Uncle Zac below

Monday, November 27, 2006


...and the minutes left in NaNoWriMo keep dwindling.

As you can see, I fell off the pace considerably over the 4-day weekend. All that driving...all that ka-ching ka-chinging...really took its toll, y'know?

Ten thousand eight hundred and seventy-five words to write before 11:59 Thursday.


Oh...and let's add about another 3,500 to account for the differential between computer wordcount and the 25/250 method.

Double eek.

Do I have it in me anymore?? Ah, 'tis the question and I don't know the answer.

Right now, I'm leaning toward.....a big NOPE--even though I hate to have come this far without trying really, really, hard to continue toward SUCCEEDING. But at the risk of writing pure drivel? 'Cuz, trust me. The quality of writing is dwindling along with the minutes. And the prospect of editing this mishmash of dropped clues, red herrings that lead nowhere, and excessively passive sentence construction fills me with dread.

Not to mention that the end of NaNo doesn't mean the end of the book. Hell, no. Come December 1, there's another 25,000 or so little buggers to crank out after the 50,000.

Why did I think this would be a real hoot?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sideways X 2

Clever title, really.

With virtually everyone out of town (sob, sigh, whimper) I had to do SOMETHING, right? So on Friday, I popped into the car and headed north guessed it...the Chumash Casino. My reason was twofold. Oh sure, the casino at the end was reward in itself, but it was also a GORGEOUS Fall day here in Southern Cal.

So, first...I went here....

Then I continued up through Santa Barbara and cut through on the San Marcos Pass. After you go over that bridge I posted a while back, you emerge on one of those "views that goes on forever" and it includes Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley.

God, these pix look horrible, don't they? Must be something to do with the way I re-sized them so I wouldn't have to wait forever while they uploaded.

Anyway...this, "Sideways" country...yep, the route the guys take to end up with Virginia Madsen and that Oh lady--the one on Grey's Anatomy.

Of course, I didn't have any "Sideways" experiences...

Oh, and the "x 2" in the title?

Yesterday, I did it all again.

Okay, so y'all don't think I have a gambling problem...on day two, I went to meet a girlfriend.

And in case you're keeping score: the first day I won $100; the second I lost about $150...which puts me $50 in the hole for the weekend...but...well, you have to agree those views are priceless, right?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

I hope you and yours are safe and warm in your beds, patting your overstuffed stomachs.

And I hope you took a moment out to appreciate what you're thankful for.

I may even write a memo to the L.A. Times 'cuz I woke up thankful for the good taste they had to put four (count 'em four!) "good news" articles in the paper today. Must be the new editorial staff.

I also found myself being extremely thankful that my niece's husband, Jon, was HERE spending Thanksgiving with US, instead of in Iraq. (Enough said about that.)

Then...right before I left the family fold, my nephew slipped in a video 1983!! Ouch! Talk about people with funky clothing and younger faces! Oddly, I didn't appear in any scenes--there's a theory out there that I was taking the video, but I sure don't remember doing so--anyway, take it from me: no matter how annoying that family member is who insists on recording every last stupid antic on holidays, you'll be glad he/she did twenty years from now.

Or not.

Remember, I didn't have to see myself.

Something else to be thankful for.......

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brand Names

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I go to the supply cabinet at work looking for paper clips, Scotch tape, or rubber bands, all I see are staples. "Why have we got so many boxes of staples?" I demand.


It's the name on the boxes of paper clips, Scotch tape, and rubber bands 'cuz that's where we buy that stuff. Staples.

Maybe I'll switch to Office Depot to clear up the confusion.

Just a thought on this Thanksgiving Eve.

Monday, November 20, 2006

War Of The Words

Notice the new addition to the sidebar...yep folks, the race is on. I'm neck-and-neck (but still lagging behind) writer friend, Jax (a.k.a. Ms. Let's-Do-30,000-By-Sunday and now newly morphed into Ms. I'm-Gonna-Get-To-35,000-By-Thanksgiving.)

She'd have left me in the proverbial dust today if it hadn't been for a sudden spurt of inspiration (and new ideas) on my drive home tonight.

And, get this: I read over the entire manuscript, and it's not half as bad as I thought. Definitely not ready for the crap heap...yet. (Let's face facts--it could still deterioriate into the worst piece of crud ever written.)

If only I could think of a title. Somehow, calling it "My NaNo Project" doesn't reek of "best seller."

NaNo Gone Bad

You may have noticed I, er, didn't hit the 30,000-word target by Sunday night like I was aiming for. Yeah, you're not half as disappointed as I....

See, here's the deal. Remember, I'm writing this thing on the fly. I have a premise and that's about it. Around day four, I figured out the first turning point, and wrote toward that.

Now, I'm there, and I don't have a clue where to go next. Ah, the drawbacks to not having a plan. Especially when your goal is to write as much and as fast as you can.

Kinda hard when you have nothing to write.

The idea is to forge ahead anyway, with the hope that somehow you'll stumble out of the abyss and discover a new treasure trove of ideas. The danger there, in my opinion, is the possibility (probability?) that you waste a whole lot of time either a) writing yourself into a corner from which it's impossible to recover, or b) creating a whole lotta crap. I live in fear that I'll doom a reasonably good start by making such a mess I'll just wanna chuck the whole thing (see NaNoWriMo project circa 2003).

That evil wench, Jax, who continues to rack up the words with abandon, gave me a couple of ideas to put the ball back in motion.

If you see that bar start creeping toward the right again, you'll know one of 'em worked.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Stealing Amy Teaser

Okay, I tried to create a "royalty-free" video for Stealing Amy...then I read the "fine print" until I decide I'm totally ripping musicians off and the Internet Police are knocking at my it is....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Half-Way Home

Did ya see? Did ya see? Woo Hoo! I passed the 25,000-word mark! Yippee! And if I really get into the spirit tomorrow...and allow myself to write PURE crap...I should be able to get to 30,000.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Getting There

Hope y'all are keeping track of my NaNo progress on the sidebar. It's killing me to keep lagging behind. BUT. Writing buddy Jax has issued a challenge: meet her at 30,000 by Sunday. (Can you hear the engines revving?)

Here's the problem. At the halfway mark (25,000 words), in the non-NaNo world, I've got roughly 56,000 more words to go, which translates to roughly 224 manuscript pages. Now, most people average about 3 pages per scene, three scenes to a chapter. That means...argggghhhh...74 (SEVENTY-FOUR) scenes to go....74 (SEVENTY-FOUR) riveting, essential, conflict-filled scenes to go.

Kinda daunting when I don't even know what happens next after scene 30.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Disturbing News

The palm trees of southern California are disappearing. Some are dying of old age--after all, they'be been around a hundred years. Others are falling victim to a fungus that debuted about ten years ago and apparently defies eradication efforts. In Santa Monica, an ordinance was passed requiring tree trimmers to use special equipment and precise cleaning methods in order to reduce the spread.

Still, the palm trees of southern California are disappearing.

And thanks to the Vegas casino construction boom, municipalities can't afford to replace them. So instead we'll be seeing cheaper, indigienous trees like oak and sycamore lining our streets and creating our skyline.

I don't know about you, but the prospect really bums me out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fun, Fun, Fun

...and today it was. Writing, that is. Yep...note the word count in the sidebar, if you please. Pretty damn cool, huh? Okay, so I'm still a little over two days behind. I can make that up by cranking out an extra 500 words on four days. Give or take. 'Course that also means I have to keep up the 1666 per day pace for the remaining 16 (?) days...which, y'know, could be difficult while I'm INGESTING ALL THAT TURKEY, STUFFING, MASH POTATOS (?Dan Quayle, where are you when I need you?), AND GRAVY.

Speaking of which...had a chat with my Jenny counselor today (yes, I have one of those but I don't go to an office; I do it over the phone). They actually have turkey day recipes and menus on their web site to help us over the holiday. HA! Right. Like I'll be checking THOSE out.

As a matter of fact, I committed a MAJOR cheat over the past two days. Hey, what's a blog for, if not confessing? On Sunday, I partook (is that the proper past tense?) in one of my fave past times (is that one word? And can you tell I've been writing my a** off and am too lazy to look this stuff up?). I bought a big ol' bag of tortilla chips, a package of cheddar/jack cheese, my favorite salsa...and, of course, the current issue of People Magazine. Ah, bliss!!

Took me two days to finish it all so, like I say, it was a two-day cheat. And the best part is: I'm not even feeling guilty! Well, maybe a bit.

I didn't even get on the scale today, and Tuesday is my weigh-in. Last week I hit ten pounds (or, was it the week before?) and I was scared (oh, let's face it, I'm SURE) I inched up a tad.

But, I digress. This was supposed to be about the writing, not the eating.

Page count is at 77 new pages...added to the 9 I originally wrote back in May (?) that brings us to...well, you can do the math: 86. Time for a major turning point by my calculcations. And, don't worry! This "panster" has one in mind!

I'm a little clueless about what happens afterward but, oh well. That's what NaNoWriMo's all about, right?

Winging it.

And having FUN.

Which I am. (Wish I could put a little smiley face here, but I don't know how so you'll just have to picture it in your mind.)

Anyone curious yet about the premise?? Here's a hint: blogging is involved.

Shhhh. That's all I'm saying.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another Road Trip

So, on Saturday I meet Senor de la Cruz and his lovely wife Anna Margarita in the Ralph's parking lot around 2 o'clock. And because it wouldn't be a road trip without an emergency stop at McDonalds, we swing back off the freeway minutes later for rations. Me, I have a diet Coke.

Next, we slide into the parking lot of Ross Dress For Less in the Valley around 2:30 to wait for Tony Hemmingway (yes, these are all aliases). About 3:15 (still no Tony), Anna Margarita needs to use the restroom so she treks into the store. Upon her return, as she's climbing into the Denali, she exclaims, "What a sh*t-hole."

The Senor and I chime in. "The whole VALLEY's a sh*t-hole," we say.

Suddenly we notice a woman pausing near the car. "Excuse me," she says. "Is it really horrible in there?"

Anna Margarita describes how half the merchandise is on the floor and the checkout lines are a mile long.

"Thank you," the stranger says. "I was wondering."

And with that she turns around, strides back to her car, gets in and leaves.

Which makes me wonder about the serendipity of it all. I mean, was she driving along, intending to do some shopping, but fretting about the shape the store would be in? Was she hoping to get a report before stepping foot inside? Was it merely luck that brought this woman and Anna Margarita to the same place at the same time?

Or was it random providence?

Anyway, Tony finally arrives after making us wait an hour. We console ourselves that when one of us hits a huge jackpot at the San Manuel Casino in San Bernardino, we'll feel less put upon by his timing.

Um. This doesn't happen.

However...we drag ourselves out of the casino and get back on the road about 1:15 a.m. As we're traveling through Hollywood, we come upon the first traffic accident. Then, as we descend through the pass, we see the second...with a third about a half mile ahead.

Who knows? Maybe timing was working for us after all.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Getting Back On The Horse

Despite the earlier post, I whipped off a couple hundred words just now and went back to MY method of counting them, thankyouverymuch. Still behind and will lag even further behind by tomorrow, but I'll make it up.


Bad Timing

So, here I am, typing my little fingers off, exhausting my brain with the unrelenting effort to figure out the next avenue--the next scene--and, what happens??

Yes, ladies and you other people: the greatest motivator of all...the publisher who had Fit For Love for THIRTEEN MONTHS finally got around to sending me a rejection letter.

Since I've never named the publisher, I feel safe about ranting a little.

Let's recap, shall we? In August of 2005, I sent three chapters and a synopsis. They apparently liked what they saw enough to request the rest of the manuscript, which I then busted my you-know-what to pare down to the appropriate wordcount, and submitted. Flash forward (ha) to thirteen months later, and yesterday (mailed in my original SASE with its OLD 37 cent stamp!) I received a one-page letter, 90% of which they spent apologizing for taking so long. Then in one sentence they summed up why they were passing: "we don't publish romantic suspense." Um, hello? Didn't they read the synopsis??

Oh, well. My feeling about rejection letters is that it's useless to parse them. They coulda meant "your writing SUX"...although they, in fact, said "your writing is great."

The bottom line is (and I know I'm not alone, here) when you get these things, you sorta have a hard time continuing to bust your you-know-what on the current project.

Which makes it a good thing I'm really writing it for my own enjoyment.

On the other hand, I read a post on the chick lit loop this morning from an author who said she used the "pantsing" method for ten years before giving it up and forcing herself to become a plotter. Thirty-two published books later, she still hates the process, but likes selling better than not selling.

And since I've posted here before that, despite my preference for pantsing, I believe the probability of writing a great book soars exponentially when you plot and plan...I'm probably wasting my time doing NaNo.

Oh, well. It's not like I had anything else to do...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Evil Word Count

Well, now I've really got things screwed up. NaNo kindly provides a method by which you can upload your manuscript for a kinda stamp-of-approval word count. I wasn't gonna bother with it, but I've been so curious about that widget thingy in my sidebar.

Meanwhile, I've been teetering back and forth between which method to use: computer word count, or the 25 lines per page = 250 words deal.

Trust me, sometimes there's a huge difference. From what I understand, the variation has something to do with whitespace. So if, for example, you have lots of dialogue on a page, the actual (physical) word count is gonna be less when calculated by the computer. Conversely, a page heavy with narrative may turn out to be more.

Whatever. Something like that.

Right now, if I go by 25 lines per page = 250, I've racked up almost 15,000 words. Sadly, if I make Microsoft count, it turns into more like 12,000. Eeek. Quel difference.

So, like I said, I uploaded a .txt version of the file to NaNo for official ruling and it came back with the figure you see in the widget thingy.

Which is why, since the last time you visited, I may have gone backward (sob).

I still can't explain why it seems to think I'm ahead of the game.

'Cuz I'm definitely not.

NaNo Week Two

Okay, clearly, the NaNo guys aren't mathematicians, 'cuz that widget thingy I imported ain't working right. Here I was merrily typing along, admittedly smug, and relying on the widget thingy for accuracy--I thought I was staying ahead of the game. But, nooooooo. If you do the calculations, I'm apparently consistently BEHIND.

Permit me to do it for you:

I need to average 1666 words a day to reach 50,000 in thirty days. Today is the ninth day so by tonight I should be at 14,994 if I wanna stay on track. But it already shows me in the plus column! Which, like I say, ain't right. In fact, I have to write roughly 2774 words to catch up.

Yikes. You know how many manuscript pages that translates to??? Well, I'll tell ya. It translates to roughly eleven. CURSE the guy (or girl) who came up with whatever formula's behind that widget thingy.

In other NaNo news, today I'd like to discuss the main drawback to performing this exercise. See, for my money, balls-out writing fosters lazy writing. And man, I'm doing a ton of it. In some cases, I don't worry--like if I'm rolling along and run into a blank for a good metaphor, I just type a long underline and move on. Or, say I encounter a new character and need a name--I grab the first one that comes to mind. That's the kind of stuff that's easy to fill in or change later. But other stuff--like all those "was" sentences...they make me nervous. Once I write something, I have a helluva time imagining it written another way. Well, that's not entirely true. I can re-work it, re-structure it--but in doing so, I run the risk of forcing it into something awkward. Hate when that happens. If you'll remember a post from a couple weeks ago, I can spend an hour on one sentence, so the prospect of of spending an hour on each sentence of the manuscript makes me queasy as hell.'s nice to think that at the end of the month, I'll have a pretty good grasp of the story. Not the entire book of course, because even after 50,000 words, there will still be about another 30,000 to write. (How depressing is that?)

I keep reminding myself that, according to legend, Lani Diane Rich wrote a NaNo novel, spent a year editing it, then voila: "Time Off For Good Behavior" and a Rita Award.

Yep, it could happen to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On election day, MSNBC knows which news is really important to viewers.

Hint: Be sure to read the crawl carefully.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Letters...I Get Letters...

Geesh. I received a complaint via email that uploading two photos did not a blog make.

Hey--what about my progress with the Nano project? Isn’t 9,000 words in 6 days enough writing without having to string together crap for my blog??

Here’s the deal. It turns out that three social obligations in a row (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) are NOT conducive to creativity. So, even though I had all of Sunday to bang out the great American novel, my fingers literally froze in their tracks (much like my brain cells).

In fact, I nearly threw in the proverbial towel.

Suddenly the premise sucked, I hated the characters, and I didn’t know why I ever though I could just “pants” my way through this.

Ah, but experience kicked in. I decided to wait until Monday—see if I could rev up the creative juices with a clear head, and get back in the groove.

Thank God, I did.

Well, and thank God for Internet glitches. Lemme tell ya, the fact I didn’t have Internet access last night is directly correlated to my output. Another lesson.

TEN PAGES. The last time I wrote ten pages in a day was…well…the last time I successfully completed NaNoWriMo (forget the year—2001, maybe). I even reached the point where the writing doesn't seem like drek, although there’s still a huge possibility that it is.

There are about as many writing processes as there are writers, and I’ve studied (not to mention experimented with) a ton of them (the processes, not the writers). On one hand you have the “panters” who claim that knowing too much about the story spoils the joy of writing. On the other, you have the “plotters” who use spreadsheets, color-coded index cards, full-blown synopses, and character interviews before typing a word.

I haven’t “pantsed” since my experience with Nano Year One. Even Fit For Love, my first serious stab at writing for publication, involved a rudimentary scene-by-scene plotting sheet. Then, with Stealing Amy, I concocted a table for about the first half of the book—detailing the hero and heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict for each scene. For Leftovers, I wrote a pretty detailed synopsis—ha—a lot of good THAT did me.

So it feels good to try something new again. Even though, at this very moment, I have absolutely no idea what the next scene will be about, let alone the next chapter, the first turning point, or the “black moment.”

There’s something to be said for long as your brain cells are willing to go along for the ride...and your Internet service provider continues to be on the blink.

P.S. Breaking News: I just read that Brittney has filed for divorce from K-Fed. On top of Reese and Ryan...kinda shakes your belief in the whole institution of marriage, doesn't it??


Monday, November 06, 2006

"Hanging" with the "Stars"

Average mom Tysonia Sichinga, with her professional partner Christian Perry at the Pacific Dancesport Competition Friday night. Sorry...can't reveal here how she did--you'll have to tune into this week's Dancing With The Stars Result Show to find out.

Bemco Phones RIP

Farewell, phone system...thanks for the memories...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Public Humiliation

Amazing how putting that stupid NaNoWriMo graphic tube thingy on my blog has inspired me. I HATE to see that minus sign...and it's not fair, because I pretty much (well, so far for two days) get my total in right before midnight which means...almost moments after I do it, I'm already behind!

Still...I'm proud of my achievement so far. Yeah, two days worth!

Really, folks. First, I got up early again this morning and banged out 500 words, then tonight I rushed home after work (late, because our CPA was there) banged out about another 500, then went to a girls' night out affair (so FUN!), got home at 11:45, and thought: Dammit, I'm not letting fun interfere with progress!

So...I wrote and wrote and wrote...stopping about every ten minutes to check my wordcount, and finally reached the goal for the day. Okay, so it's not the most scintillating scene ever written...and, in truth, when I go back to edit, the scene probably won't even make the cut...still...I learned about my character, strengthened my whole notion of who she is, and


For those of you dropping by who are doing NaNo, you GET IT, right??

Now it's 12:32 a.m., I have to be up...well, early...and tomorrow I have to zip home, gussy up, and get to the Westin at LAX for the Pacific Dancesport Championships (er, no...I'm not performing, I'm a spectator). WHEN am I going to squeeze in tomorrow's 1666 words?

All donations gladly accepted. Leave your contributions in the comment section.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tick Tick

I woke up late this morning. Not just five minutes late, but about twenty. And it was cold. I was not happy.

I dragged myself out of bed, skipped the shower, went with two-day old hair, and cursed myself for staying up until midnight. About to walk out the door, I glanced at the clock one more time to gauge how late I'd be getting to work.

It was two minutes to seven.

Um, I don't have to be work until eight.

Damn time change.

I remembered a conversation in the car on Saturday night.

Marty: It takes about a week for your body to adjust.
Me: Not mine.

Yeah, right. I mean, my CLOCKS were correct so it must've been the daylight that fooled me.


The good news is, I used the extra time to start NaNo, and I wrote 350 words! Woo Hoo!