Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Memoriam

When I was a toddler, my father decided to move our family out of the big city and away from the violence occurring in the Detroit area.  He picked the tiny town of Atlas, southeast of Flint, to settle near and bought a big white house on the corner of two country roads.  In no time at all, my mother met the lady who lived down the hill and they became fast friends.  Best friends, even.  Not a hard thing to imagine considering she was the matriarch of a family the size of ours and her children's ages almost mirrored the ages of my siblings.  

Elva Isham was like a second mother to me for most of my childhood.  She babysat me when my parents were working.  She was the go-to person if we were ever out roaming the countryside and needed help.   When I became a mother myself, she was one of the people who babysat my own daughter.  She helped my mother through the pain of my father's illnesses and Mom helped her through the grief of losing her husband.  When it was all said and done, though, even though my mother was there for her, El spent her days in a private hell where no one could help her.

Night before last, my mother's best friend of almost 40 years finally succumbed to a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. In the end, it was a mercy.  Alzheimer's is a cruel disease.  Little by little, the victim forgets every little piece of themselves until finally, they even forget how to breathe.  Perhaps that's the kindest part--the very end when the victim goes quietly into darkness.

After all the years of fear and pain, El is with her husband and at peace. Godspeed, Mrs. Isham.  Alzheimer's may have made you forget us all, but trust me, you will never be forgotten.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School

Today is the first day of school at the Sanderson Home School.  It's the first day of the last year, as a matter of fact.  In honor of this momentous occasion, I woke up feeling like something the cat dragged out from under a bus. 

The jury's still out whether this was caused by nerves over the prospect of my daughter starting her senior year or by that truly awesome but incredibly greasy fried chicken I had last night.  (Seriously the best tasting chicken I've had in as long as I can remember, but since I changed my diet, greasy and I don't get along.  I never should've eaten the skin.) 

Anyway, this semester's schedule looks something like this:

Algebra II
Algebra II
Intro to Management

Yep, Daughter wants to keep her internship going through the school year.  As long as her grades stay up and she's getting her assignments in on time, I'm cool with it.

And yes, you do see two sections of Algebra in there.  Due to an error on the part of the teacher (namely me), last year's math was Business Math and I found out over the summer that doesn't actually count as a math with most colleges anymore.  Go figger.  So, we're cramming two years worth of math into one year.  Algebra II this semester, Trig next semester.  Yay.   (It's broken into two sections because Daughter just can't see herself surviving a two-hour block of math straight through.  I don't have the heart to remind her some college courses are two-hour blocks.)

One more year.  A good friend of mine asked me what I was going to do next year - after Daughter's off to school.  My answer: Write more.  We'll see how that goes.  ;o)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Just In

Last week I won a before-it-hits-the-shelves copy of The Hawk by Monica McCarty.  I just finished it and I had to stop here to let you all know...


Erik MacSorley is officially my new favorite Hot Highlander.  And Ellie de Burgh is the perfect heroine. 

If you read historicals, or even if you don't, go out and pick up a copy.  NOW.  Trust me on this one.  I've never been a huge fan of historical romance in general, but every once in a while a writer comes along that makes me change my tune.  Monica McCarty is just such a writer.  That and she's a helluva a good person, too.  (I know because I stalk her blog: Romancing the Highlander.)

Okay, now that the gushing is over, let me just add that I didn't love this book because I got it for free.  I'm not reviewing it because I have any hopes of getting more swag in the future.  (Although, I would love it, I'm probably going to bow out of the next contest to give another fan a chance.)  As always, my gushing reviews are because I love what I just read.  And if I didn't love it enough to get this excited, you probably wouldn't hear from me about the book at all*.

Now, what are you waiting for?  Go buy the... Oh yeah, it doesn't officially come out until 8/31/10**.  You know what that means?  Get thee to a bookstore on Tuesday.

*I don't review everything I love either.  Just the ones I get all sparked up about.

** Yes, that was a neener neener boo boo comment.  I can't help it.  This is the first time I ever read a book before it officially hit bookstores.

Cats and Edits and Explicit Lyrics

It's Sunday and Kira cat woke me up at quarter to five wanting to be fed.  Then I went outside for a cigarette and some java whereupon Max also wanted to be fed.  I love my cats, but on mornings like this, I'm sorry I ever taught my cats to meow when they're hungry.  (Okay, so maybe all cats do that, but I used to encourage it.  This morning, I'm kicking myself for that.)

On the bright side - if it can be called that - I can get right back into my re-font edits.  I got five chapters done yesterday.  Since it takes about an hour a chapter, I think that's an honest day's work.  (Maybe that means Kira's got my writerly interests at heart...  Yah, right.)

And the whole time I was editing I listened to my Pandora cranking out stuff like this...

Playing in my head: Standing in the Shower... Thinking by Jane's Addiction (Warning: Explicit lyrics - well, actually not as explicit as I've always thought...  who knew they were saying 'piping hot'?)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Forging Ahead

I'll be forging ahead with my writing this weekend. Here's hoping all that heat and pressure sparks something great. ;o)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekly Update - Fish Hooked

This has been an interesting week - in the same way having a fish hook in your hand is interesting, I guess.  At first, you don't really feel anything, but you're standing there with a piece of metal sticking out of you.  "My, isn't that interesting," you think right before you realize someone is going to have to pull that thing out.  This is the point at which nothing hurts really bad, but you're dreading the pain you know is right around the corner. 

Last week Wednesday, I finished DLN (whose real name is Djinnocide, btw - snazzy title, eh?) and I spent the time between then and this most recent Wednesday trying to decide what I was going to do next.  I read a few books, watched a lot of TV and twisted in the wind.  I figured I could go back to revising the other book that's been on my sidebar for months - RTL.  But I was just meh about tackling that one again.  So, I dinked around with a couple other things to no avail.

And I started thinking about Bloodflow (or Nanotechnology in another incarnation).  Great premise, and pretty damn good writing, but the plot's all over the damn place.  I did some editing there, and I still love the piece, but I've played with this so many times it took a day to realize I was editing on an old draft, and now I'm not sure which direction I like better.  :shrug:

Enter the suggestions I talked about on Wednesday.  Okay, sounds like a plan.  I've got to print out Bloodflow.  I get it.  Okay.  Yeah.  Umm, that's a daunting task if there ever was one.  The damn thing's like a big jigsaw puzzle.  What I need to do is take the pieces and reassemble them into a cohesive whole.  And this is like a 5000 piece sucker.

So, while I'm standing here staring at that painful problem, I decided to take another suggestion from the same post.  I turned DLN on its ear by changing the whole thing to another font.  I think the one I settled on was something called Utlaat or some such silliness.  The specifics don't matter, just the results.  Sure enough, I changed the font and...  I frickin hated what I wrote.  Talk about taking gaffs and making them GLARING ERRORS.  Holy shit.

I closed the manuscript and went off to some fluffy place in my head where everything is rainbows and bunnies.

Last night, I took another look at the DLN fish hook and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.  Sure, I had some HUGE info dumps in chapter two.  And some of the wording is lame.  All that can be fixed.  All I need to do is stop looking at the hook and just pull.

If you close your eyes, you hardly feel the barb. 

Playing in my head: Sugar, We're Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You're Finished. Now What?

Okay, so you've finished your novel.  Now what do you do?  Well, a guest post by Kater Cheek over at Ask Daphne (KT Literary Agency's blog) has some really great suggestions on what happens after you get to THE END.  Considering that the post is mostly about editing, and that's what my brain's been focused on for the past few months, I thought the whole thing was particularly educational.

For instance, one suggestion I thought was pretty awesome was the idea that you change your whole manuscript's font.  She suggests Comic Sans, but any different font would work.  The idea is that it jerks your brain out of its groove and forces you to see the words you wrote in a different light.  Hey, any trick that helps find errors is okay in my book.  In fact, I'm going to try this on my next go-round with DLN.

Additionally, she suggests something I already do - PRINT IT OUT.  The only problem being that the process can get expensive - especially if you're printing after every draft.  Still, sometimes you have to spend money to get it right.  Having said that, I'm probably going to take Bloodflow and print the damn thing out so I can see where I went wrong.  I've been working on this manuscript off and on since May of 2008, and I really like the writing, but the plot has flaws.  Maybe this time around I can fix them.

She also gives some hints on synopses - which I'll be doing for DLN shortly - and query letters.  All in all a pretty informative post.

Your turn:  Do you have any suggestions / tips / tricks to help with editing, synopses or query letters?

Playing in my Head: Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Playing in my Head

For fun I'm going to try a new daily addition to the blog called "Playing in my Head".  I usually wake up with some song or other pumping through my brain, so I thought I'd share.

Today's would look something like this...

Playing in my Head: "Let Me Go" by 3 Doors Down.

It's not always a 'song' per se (for instance a couple days ago, I woke up with the old Coke commercial in my head), but posting the music in my head seems like a fun thing to do.  I'll try to put a link to some kind of video of the song or if not, the lyrics, along with a link to the band's website.

So, what's playing in your head today?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Most Creatively Corrosive Element

If you don't read the Guide to Literary Agents blog, they have this regular post called 7 Things I've Learned So Far (link goes to the category, just in case you hadn't read them before).  Today's installment is from author Hollis Gillespie (who I've never heard of... sorry) and her #6 makes an interesting point I wanted to touch on today:

6. Fear is the most creatively corrosive element that writers have to face each day, and it comes disguised as so many things.

I've talked about fear before at my old blog ('Introspection Time' from 6/24/08 comes to mind) and I've talked about it here briefly.  Instead of rehashing the old fear thing again, let me turn it over to you...

What about this writing business are you most afraid of?  What fear sneaks up on you and jumps you from behind when you least expect it?  And finally, what do you do to combat the fear?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stop Writing Excellent Books. Dammit.

I've been anxiously awaiting Dream Called Time by S.L. Viehl and it finally arrived on Friday.  It was so shiny and perfect.  All I had to do was finish the book I was already in the middle of and it was all mine.  I started it yesterday shortly after noon and read it straight through - with breaks for dinner and other necessaries. It was awesome.  The author nailed it.  And being that this was the last book in a 10-yr / 10-book long writing journey, she did the whole series justice with the way she finished things.

Of course, this post wasn't meant to be a book review.  No.  This is a cautionary tale.  Excellent books are not for the weak reader.  In fact, sitting here in the only position I have left that doesn't make me want to cry, I'm thinking people should stop writing excellent books altogether.

Point the first: When you read an excellent book, you read to the exclusion of everything else.  Sometimes meals get forgotten.  Often you lose sleep.  Your family begins to wonder if you've slipped into some kind of bizarre state of catatonic schizophrenia where you don't acknowledge the world around you, but you still remember to use the bathroom.  And occasionally, you forget to move around which causes certain parts of one's body to stiffen up and remain stuck.  (Causing more sleep loss both for you and whoever is unlucky enough to be sleeping with you at the time.)

Point Two: After you've read said excellent book, you can't stop thinking about it.  You lose more sleep.  Your minds wanders off in the middle of conversations -which leads to unconsciously agreeing to host the family reunion in your back yard complete with a balloon bending clown named Scraps.  (And you thought shouting Yes! when you remembered how the heroine saved the day was only in your head.  Sorry, but Aunt Matilda heard that and she wants fifteen pounds of homemade potato salad by Thursday.)

Tertiary point (for other writers only):  You begin to wonder why the hell you're writing anything because whatever crap you put down will never be as good as the book you just read.  And then you begin to hope you'll glean some sales from the few people who weren't moved by the book you just read.  You are even willing to take sloppy seconds and castoffs from Awesome Writer.  Because, as I said before, you will never write anything that good.

Fourth point:  When one book is so excellent, it sells lots and lots.  This means, of course, that people are spending their hard earned money when they should be saving it for things like food and shelter and clothing.  In these hard economic times, is writing a book everyone wants to buy really fair to the general populous?  I think not.  (And besides, if people are spending money on the excellent books, they aren't buying the not so excellent books, which means smaller checks for the less brilliant authors.  That's so totally not fair.)

So, I beg you brilliant writers out there... CUT IT OUT.  Geez.  Write something mediocre next time so I don't end up with a bent neck and no sleep.  Seriously*.

* Not really.  If you thought any of this** was serious, I'm truly sorry for the fact my mediocre writing would lead you to that conclusion.  ;o)

**  Okay, I really am serious about how awesome Dream Called Time is.  I'm also serious about the fact that I was so wrapped up in the story I forgot to move around and now my neck is stuck in a permanent 'bent over book' position.  Somebody overnight me a case of Aspercreme.

ETA: I just posted a review (and a comment to another review) of Dream Called Time over at Amazon.  Of course, this reminded me that I didn't put that silly disclaimer up with this post, so here goes...

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way affiliated with SL Viehl or any of her other pseudonyms.  She didn't give me this book and I'm not getting any kickbacks from the woman.  I bought my copy off Amazon.  I hope everyone who stops by here understands I only say nice things about books I actually like and for those books I don't like, I keep my mouth (or in this case, my fingers) shut.  Mom always said if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  (Okay, so I don't always follow that rule, but I try.)


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Agents Sites, Blogs, Etc.

Update 11/09/17:  If you came here looking for my previous list of literary agents, all apologies.  Someone pointed out to me that a link was broken, which reminded me I hadn't looked at, updated, or cared about the list in YEARS.  Since I no longer believe agents are the way to go, I deleted it. 

Yep, I've gone rogue.  Self-publishing all the way, baby. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Change of Plans

I know I said I was going to dive right back in and have this puppy beta-ready by the end of August...

Am I frickin' nuts?  Holy crap, I must've been possessed.  It took most of the day, but I think I've finally throttled myself into throttling back.  The way I'm looking it at right now, I think I need a bit of a break--if only to chill out.  For the next few days - or until I can't stand not looking at the WIP - I'm going to do yard work and read.  I might even :gasp: clean. 

And if I get really crazy, I might open up one of the old manuscripts - like, you know, the one that's been hanging out on my sidebar for godknowshowlong. 

I may even catch up on my blog reading and write a few intelligent posts.  Hey, stranger things have happened.

What do you do when you finish a round of edits?  Please say you go a little deranged, too. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Red-inking Phase Complete

Okay, I did it.  I finished this round of revisions.  I know I said I'd have this phase of the WIP done over the past weekend, but I don't think three days late is going to kill anyone.  Of course, when I said I'd finish it that quickly, I didn't envision one of those chapters needing some major tweaking.  I guess that's why they're called estimates and not facts.  ;o)

Now I've given myself until the end of the month to get it polished to send out to beta readers.  By then I should also have the query letter close to banged out.

And, of course, Daughter's senior year of homeschool starts on the 30th, so I really need to get most of this stuff done before then.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making Words Count

After two chapters red-inked this morning and the changes entered tonight, I'm brain-fried.  I intended to write a complementary post to one I read this morning, but it ain't happenin' now.  Instead, I'm just going to point you over to Murder, She Writes where Roxanne St. Claire says it all with her post Are You Making Word Count... or... Making WordS Count?

Mine is comment #12.  Head on over, read the post, comment and maybe win a couple of Roxanne's awesome Bullet Catcher novels.

Me?  I'm heading to the couch for a little R&R.  I'm done in.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Funny

And yes, I know it's not grammatically correct. (I already knew, but Daughter felt the need to point it out. That's my junior editor.)

 *All images deleted to avoid any chance of copyright infringement*

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Recipe Sunday

Just a quickie recipe today, but a good one.  Since it's late summer and the height of the sweet corn season, I thought what a perfect day to post this recipe. It's especially handy for those of us who are grill-challenged.

Oven-roasted Sweet Corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover a large baking sheet with foil (to aid clean-up).  Place a single layer of unshucked whole cob corn on a baking sheet (three seemed to fit perfectly here).  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until husk is hot to the touch.  Shuck and eat.

The husk keeps the moisture in and adds something to the flavor that was quite nice.   Still, the hard part of this recipe is shucking hot corn.  The way I did it was like this...  Leave the corn on the sheet and peel the outer most leaf down.  Repeat with each outer leaf (rolling the corn as you go) until they're all at the bottom of the cob like a hula skirt.  Use a pair of scissors to cut the hula skirt down to a mini-skirt.  Serve with butter and salt to taste.

It worked out beautifully here.  I hope it works for you, too.  Let me know if you try it and how it turns out.  =o)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Head Down, Pushing Through

I'll be keeping my head down and pushing through the work this weekend.  With any luck, this round of revisions will be done by Monday.  See you all on the other side.  (I'll be here, but I'm taking bets whether my sanity makes it with me.)


What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writer Chick is Wigging Out

Does this avatar make my thighs look big?  Seriously, my waist is tiny in comparison to those thighs. 

The staff?  That's to whack grungy little excuses on the head before they nibble at my gumption.  But seriously folks, I'm brain fried.  I have ten chapters to finish by the end of August with hopes of being ready to submit this puppy sometime in September.  Yep, I'm wigging out.  4-6 week self-imposed deadline anyone?  Considering the fact that I had originally hoped to be finished with this project in June and submitting by now, it's no wonder I'm pushing.  I feel like I'm way behind.  For crying out loud, I've been at this WIP since the beginning of last September.  I haven't spent an entire year on one book since the first book.  I feel like I'm draggin' butt.  Bleh.  I want to query.  I want to net me a nice big agent.  And then I want to see some publishing contracts. 

On second thought, maybe I should use the staff to whack myself around the head and neck until I just chill out.  Or lose consciousness.

Don't mind me.  I spent the whole afternoon working on a homemade lasagna that shall henceforth be known as The Lasagna That Ate New York.  I swear the damn thing weighed ten pounds.  Okay, it just felt like ten pounds.  But if I add up all the ingredients - 2-3 lbs of beef, a pound of mozzarella, a big saucepan full of homemade sauce (with baby bell mushrooms), a can of sliced olives, a tub each of cottage and ricotta cheeses, noodles... holy crap that sucker was huge.  Of course, now I'm brain-fried and my belly feels full enough to make me want to waddle.  (I won't but I want to.)

So, is it any wonder Writer Chick is wigging out?

Pardon me while I lay on the couch and digest.  If I can think straight, I might even get some editing done.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why I'm Not at WriteOnCon

Yesterday in the comments, Deb Salisbury suggested I spend some time over at WriteOnCon.  Personally I think WriteOnCon is a great idea.  From their own site, it's 'a free, interactive experience, designed to give writers many of the features of a writer’s conference, but in an online environment'.  It sounds perfect for writers who - like me - find attending a conference beyond them at the moment.  Hell, the expense of traveling to whichever conference excites you is prohibitive enough and then you throw in the cost of the event itself.  Ack.  Even the thought of attending the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference in September is too much - and it's only a few hours away.

Having said that, though, I'm probably not going to be attending WriteOnCon.  At first I told myself my absence was because I'm not a YA writer, but that's a lame excuse.  A lot of writing advice covers multiple genres - even if some of it is tailored for a certain segment of publishing.  No, if I'm honest with myself, the reason I'm not attending is the same reason I avoid long protracted posts filled with wonderful writing advice...

Okay, this is going to sound stupid.  I know it's stupid and I'm the one writing it.  But, the reason is simply that any time I read writing advice, and I'm not doing things exactly the same way, I begin to doubt myself.  So I warp my writing to match the advice.  Even if it's good advice, it ends up hurting my writing.  It's almost like I subconsciously apply that advice to everything I'm writing until my own voice is buried.

It's like this quirk I have where if I spend any amount of time around someone with an accent, I pick up that accent.  My father was the same way.  People get very angry when they think you're mimicking them, but seriously, we can't help it.  Hell, I don't even know I'm doing it until someone says something.  :shrug:  Maybe we're just a suggestible people.  B.E. the human chameleon?

This is the same reason that the first few years of my writing career, I couldn't read other people's books while I was working on my own stuff.  I'd read and then my writing would begin to sound like whoever I was reading.  I got over that.  Someday maybe I can get over this, too.  Right now, though, I really don't want anything to interfere with this WIP.

So, I'm not attending WriteOnCon.  Since I assume most of the rest of the world is normal and doesn't pull a chameleon around other people's ideas, I'd recommend the rest of you go and check out the wonderful things they're doing over at the conference.  Once I'm done writing this book, I'll probably go back and read through everything I missed - because missing out on good advice entirely is just stupid.  

Have you been to WriteOnCon?  What about other conferences?  How have they worked out for you?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lazy Day

I'm taking a semi-day off.  It's hot, humid (for Colorado) and I'm just drained.  Time to nap on the couch. 

What are you up to today?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Recipe Sunday

Well, since last week's Budget Saver Sunday didn't seem to blow anyone's skirt up, I thought maybe Sunday would be a good day to post a recipe.  It's still budget conscious - because I'm that way - but it's mostly about the food.  So here goes nothin'...

Chickie-Mex Meal

4 frozen chicken burritos
3 chicken tenderloins (thawed)
1 T olive oil
dash chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can enchilada sauce
1/2 c sliced olives
1 roma tomato (sliced thin)
4 oz (or half a package) Mexican blend shredded cheese
sour cream (optional on the side)

Cook the frozen burritos at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until they're mostly cooked and thoroughly thawed.  Remove from oven.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the tenderloins until they have a nice brown on both sides.  (They will still be a little pink on the inside.)  Season tenderloins to taste while this step is occurring.  I used chili powder, salt and pepper here.  Place partially cooked tenderloins on top of the mostly cooked burritos.  Cover all with the enchilada sauce.  Sprinkle with olives.  Sprinkle cheese over everything.  Take the tomato slices and lay them artfully down the center of the meal.  Sprinkle a little more cheese over the tomato slices.  Put back in the 350 degree oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the tenderloins are cooked through and their juices run clear.  Serves 3 - depending on how hungry those three are.  

As with most recipes I use (except baked goods), the quantities are subject to change.  If you like more seasoning, use more.  If you need to feed more people, increase the quantities.  Ditch the olives if you don't like them, or decrease the cheese if you're watching your cheese intake.  If you're uncomfortable with judging whether your chicken is cooked through when it's covered in sauce, cook the tenderloins thoroughly in the pan and decrease the oven time to just long enough for melting the cheese and getting the sauce bubbly-hot.

I made this last night and it seemed to be a big hit with the family. 

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.  And please remember, with recipes, it's all about your tastes, so your mileage may vary.  Which means, basically, if you don't like it, don't shoot the cook.

(The top pic is not a photo of what I made, but it's the closest image I could find to how my dish looked.  I did use those El Monterey frozen burritos, though.) *All images deleted to avoid any chance of copyright infringement*

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another Pretty

I'm still deep in edits.  And you know, it's not really that I don't have a lot of time to post, it's more like all my brain power is focused on this book.  Anyway, I hope to have something intelligent to say soon.  Until then, here's a picture I took on my trip to Vegas in May 2003.

There was a pic here, but I had to delete it.

I'm not sure what kind of plant that is, but isn't the sun streaming through it pretty? Judging from its placement in the photo group, it was taken somewhere between the Joshua Tree forest and Hoover Dam, so Arizona maybe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Bit of Pretty

While I'm working on edits, please enjoy a little bit of pretty.

(Taken by me in late May.  The daffodils came late this year.)

ETA:  Kristen pointed out those aren't daffodils.  They're Stella d'Oro lilies.  No wonder they came late. LOL

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Brain-Damaged Writer: Word Finding Difficulty

I've been thinking about last night's post and I decided that perhaps I should explain a little better.  If you've been following this blog, you probably already know I suffered brain damage in 1994.  I try not to make that a focus of my life or my writing - which is why the blog is called The Writing Spectacle and not 'The Brain-Damaged Writer' - but occasionally some brain-related issue pops up and draws attention to itself.  And since I also don't try to hide my brain thing, I thought why not talk about it this morning.

First off, I'm mostly normal now (as in you can't readily tell I'm afflicted).  One of the few things that still gives me trouble, though, is something my therapists called 'Word Finding Difficulty'.  For a good layman's explanation see: Understanding Word Finding Difficulty.  I'm sure we've all had to deal with the whole 'it's on the tip of my tongue' thing from time to time.  For me, it's more frequent and sometimes more pronounced.

What I suffer from is more specifically Anomic Aphasia.  (A term I only just heard this morning.  It's cool to have a technical term for what this is.)

From the above site:

The typical characteristics of anomic aphasia are:
  • Trouble using correct names for people, places, or things
  • Speaking hesitantly because of difficulty naming words
  • Grammatical skills are unaffected
  • Comprehension is normal
  • Difficulty finding words may be evident in writing as well as speech
  • Reading ability may be impaired
  • Having knowledge of what to do with an object, but still unable to name to the object
  • Severity levels vary from one person to another

I'm not so much troubled with the first - not remembering people's names is another brain thing entirely - or with the reading ability impairment.  (Thank goodness for that.  Impaired reading ability would kill me.)  The rest of the characteristics are definitely mine.  And where it says severity levels vary from one person to another?  Well, severity levels also vary for me from day to day and from activity to activity.

Now, one of the funny things about this for me is that sometimes I can't think of the simple word for something, but I can remember the obscure word for it.  That's why sometimes both my writing and my speech are littered with 'big words'.  Yay for the English language and its many ways to say things, but Boo for people who think using big words makes you snooty.  And Yay for my thesaurus, so I can type the big word in and find the common word I can't think of.  (This happened last night, but I can't remember the exact problem to save myself.  LOL)

In the end, this brain problem is like any other for me.  I learned the tools for finding a way around it - like the thesaurus to back track and in verbal communication, having all those other 'big' words to explain myself.  In the end, though, all the tools in the world still might fail me.  :shrug:  During those times I just try to muddle through.  You might even catch me doing what the above site refers to as circumlocution.

"You know, the big sticky-uppy thing on the highway.  Long legs with the ball on top.  Holds water?  Has the town's name on it.  Yeah, that's right, the water tower." 

LOL, it definitely makes life interesting. 

Any questions?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bad Bwain Days

Just a quick note to apologize for the plethora of errors in recent posts.  It appears I'm having a series of bad bwain days.  (You should hear me talk out loud - it's worse.)  Yesterday I substituted the word 'would' for the word 'wonder' and it took me until just now to notice.  Nothing to worry about.  Just a function of my weird ass brain, being tired and having a lot on my mind.  It should clear up soon.  If not, don't think of it as a reflection of my writing.  Please.  I edit that.  I don't really edit here. 

Thanks for your time and patience. =o)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fun With Spam

Emptying my spam folder just now, I got one with the subject 'Be her carnal monster' and I thought to myself that could work into an awesome title for a paranormal romance.  "Her Carnal Monster" or just "Carnal Monster".  I'd probably buy it on impulse if I saw it at Borders.

I wonder what the plot of such a novel could be.  Any ideas?  Have fun with the title in the comments.  If it sparks your muse, feel free to use whatever you can cull from it. 

(And no, I'm not planning on using it myself, so have at it.)


Monday, August 2, 2010

Max - An Update

Today Max got the wires removed from his jaw, and OMG, his tongue works again!  I was so happy I almost cried.  I thought he'd never be able to use it again.  The doc even said he thought the tongue had nerve damage and probably would never be right. 

Okay, so it's not working perfectly, but considering that it never left his mouth - even to clean his paws - I'm counting this as a win.  He spent some quality time washing his paws when we got home, and then he washed his face.  Double win.  Of course, he still hasn't figured out how to drink water from a bowl with it, but he'll get it eventually.  After not using his tongue for at least a year and a half, he's got some re-learning to do.  Every little bit of progress is awesome.

If he ever licks my face, I'm definitely going to cry.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Must Read List

Migrated from my old blog...

Top fiction books I think every adult should read at least once in their lifetime:(alphabetical by title, unless I think you should read the author's works, then by last name)

Aesop’s Fables*
Alice in Wonderland*
Animal Farm – George Orwell*
Anything by Jane Austen*
Beowulf - Anonymous*
Big Red – Jim Kjelgaard*
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley*
Bulfinch’s Mythology – Thomas Bulfinch
Call of the Wild – Jack London*
Calumet K – Merwin & Webster*
Candide - Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales – Thomas Chaucer*
Anything by Agatha Christie*
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis*
Cyrano de Bergerac – Edmund Rosten*
All of the books by Dante
Either The DaVinci Code or Angels & Demons by Dan Brown*
Anything by Charles Dickens* (with the exception of the Edwin Drood mystery)
Don Quixote – Miguel Cervantes
Anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
Anything by Alexandre Dumas*
At least one book by Daphne duMaurier*
El Cid – Robert Krepps
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card*
Any book by Erle Stanley Gardner*
Exodus – Leon Uris*
The Eye of the Needle – Ken Follett*
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury*
Any book by Ian Fleming*
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley*
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Good Earth – Pearl Buck*
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald*
Gulliver’s Travels – Johnathan Swift*
The Harry Potter Novels – J.K. Rowling*
Anything by O. Henry*
The Horatio Hornblower books – C.S. Forrester
Anything by Victor Hugo*
I, The Jury – Mickey Spillane*
I, Robot - Isaac Asimov*
Idylls of the King – Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Iliad and The Odyssey – Homer
Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte*
The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan*
The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling*
King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper*
Le Morte D’Arthur (find a good translation) – Thomas Mallory*
Any book by Sinclair Lewis*
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad
Any book by James Michener
The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Brown*
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
The Mummy – Anne Rice*
National Velvet – Enid Bagnold
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck*
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway*
The Once and Future King – T.H. White*
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest – Ken Kesey*
Paradise Lost – John Milton
Patriot Games – Tom Clancy*
Peter Pan – JM Barrie
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Pillars of Earth - Ken Follett*
Complete Works – Edgar Allan Poe*
The Prince - Machiavelli
The Promise and/or The Chosen – Chaim Potok*
The Rabbit Novels – John Updike
Everything by Ayn Rand*
Riders of the Purple Sage – Zane Grey*
Rip Van Winkle – Washington Irving
Robin Hood – Howard Pyle*
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
The Scarlet Letter – Hawthorne*
The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy
The Searchers – Alan le May*
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett*
A Separate Peace – John Knowles
The complete works – William Shakespeare*
The Song of Roland - Anonymous*
Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence
The Stand (uncut) – Stephen King*
Stardoc series - S.L. Viehl*
State of Fear – Michael Crichton*
Anything by Robert Louis Stevenson*
Tarzan – Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Thornbirds - Colleen McCullough*
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee*
To Sir With Love – E.B. Braithwaite*
A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute*
Anything by J.R.R. Tolkien*
Anything by Tolstoy
Trustee from the Toolroom – Nevil Shute*
Any book by Mark Twain
Two Years Before the Mast – R.H. Dana
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
Everything by Jules Verne*
The Walking Drum – Louis L’Amour*
War of the Worlds – HG Wells*
The Warden – Anthony Trollope
Watership Down – Richard Adams*
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne*
The World According to Garp – John Irving*
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

(The asterisk denotes books I have read. At some point, I'm hoping to read them all. If I made a list of all the books I was planning on reading, it would be twice this long. And if I made a list of every book I've already read, I'd be here all day.)

Enjoy and feel free to comment here or create a similar list on your own blog - just don't forget to say so in the comments, so I can link to you.PS. I know I'm forgetting somebody. I was trying to keep it to the top 100. Who do you think should be on here who's not, and why?

(Edited 6/4/07: I went over 100, so now it's just the top books. Let's face it, there are always more than 100 you should read anyway.)

(Edited 1/24/08: Google ate my original post from March of 2007, so I rebuilt this. If you commented there, please comment here.)


liz fenwick said...
I have read many but not all.....so much to read and so little time :-) I've tagged you - sorry!

Kristin B said...
I love that you put Victor Hugo on here. For some reason, people seem to forget him on lists of classics and must-read-before-you-die. I'll never forget when I finished reading Les Miserables...I fell asleep clutching the book to my chest, as I felt it would be a sacrilege to let it go! Ah...teenage years. =) P.S. You'll enjoy this--when I read Atlas Shrugged, I literally couldn't put it down. My mom yelled at me for cooking while reading. But hey, nothing got burned!

Travis Erwin said...
Great list. I have read many but not all by any stretch. On a personal note I'd have to add Where The Red Fern Grows but Winston Rawls since it was the first book that I ever finished and immediately started rereading. Had my elementary school librarian not recommended it, I might not have turned into an avid reader or writer.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...
That is indeed a great list. I too have read many but not all. I would have to add 'anything by Doris Lessing' as she is my top author (and has been since long before she won the very well-deserved Nobel prize).

Budget Saver Sunday

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep I was thinking about different ways to save my budget.  This, of course, led to thinking about a weekly post with bits about how I save money.  Lord knows, most writers aren't hitting the Forbes list.  In this economy, we could all use a little help.  So, I figured, why not here and why not me. 

Anyway, if this topic is a hit, I'll post tips, hints, and recipes that will - one hopes - help my readers save a bit o' the cash.  (It seemed like a good idea after an hour of tossing and turning.  You let me know if it's Yay, Eh, or Bleh.)

Probably one of the best ways I pinch pennies is in my food budget.  Unfortunately, it's also one of the places I tend to blow extra money because I love food so much - and good food isn't cheap.  One of the hardest things to do is make good food while still keeping money in your wallet.  Which is why I buy offbrand frozen chicken tenderloins in the big bag. 

They're cheaper than fresh (which are usually frozen at some point anyway and thawed before they're put in the meat case), they last longer, and unless you cook the hell out of them, they come out tender and yummy.  It's a very versatile food.  Cook them while they're still frozen and add them to recipes.  Thaw them and work with them that way.  Hell, sometimes I cook up a bunch for one meal.  My family eats three - four and the rest go into the fridge for later use.  I mean, seriously, a whole chicken breast is way more than I can eat in one sitting.

And chicken works so well in the ol' diet. 

Around here one offbrand bag of tenderloins - not on sale - is usually $6.99-7.99.  I can usually get 4-5 meals for the three of us (with leftovers) out of one bag.  That's $1.40-$2.00 per meal.  Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the number of people in your family, but damn, that's cheap.  And if you can get it on sale, woohoo!

So, last night, I whipped out five frozen tenderloins and threw them in the oven for 40 minutes - unless they were cooked through.  After they cooled a bit so I wouldn't burn my fingers, I cut them into bit sized chunks.  Then I put a dribble of olive oil in the bottom of a frying pan, threw in one thinly sliced small onion and two thinly sliced stalks of celery heart.  When those were lightly browned, but not mushy, I added the chicken and a can of mushrooms (not drained).  While all of this was going on, I put some pasta on to boil - bow-tie this time - and by the time the meat mixture was ready, so was the pasta.  I tossed the al dente pasta into the frying pan with everything else and let it cook for a few more minutes.  Usually I also put in a can of mushroom soup and a dollop of fat-free sour cream - to give it a little somethin-somethin - but it's not necessary.  It was quite tasty even before I started tweaking with other things.

Of course, the above needs to be seasoned to your own tastes.  I used salt and pepper only last night.  Sometimes I throw in onion powder or garlic powder.  Tarragon is also nice if you've got it.  I also switch up the vegetables - using broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.  depending on what I have (and what was on sale that week at the store).  Those tenderloins are even nice with onions, tomatoes and black olives over angelhair pasta.  :drool:

The point is: you can have good food on the cheap.  You can even mix it up and have something different every time without breaking your budget.  And hey, it works for those people dieting as well.  Win-win.  ;o)

Any suggestions for what an enterprising penny-pincher can make with chicken tenderloins?  What do you think of this as a weekly post topic?  Am I telling you anything you didn't already know? 

*pics pulled off the web - none of the above images were taken by me. 

*All images deleted to avoid any chance of copyright infringement*