Saturday, April 30, 2011

World Building Choices

As part of taking your most-excellent advice, I'm revisiting that fantasy novel I started back in March.  Since I've never done fantasy before - not in any substantial way - I'm floundering a little, but it's okay.  I have a general idea of what I want to do.  It's the execution that's giving me trouble.

I'm trying not to think too much about whether this is saleable.  I'm trying not to worry whether anyone will like it.  And I'm definitely trying not to think about whether this is different enough to stand on its own in bookstore.  (Failing at that last one, but I'm still trying.) 

I'm just trying to take this idea I dreamed last month and run with it.  We'll see where it goes.

The main problem here is I have to create my own world.  Unlike writing anything contemporary where I can just write along and tweak out any setting errors afterwards, I need to have this world pretty firmly in place before I wander too far along the plot path. 

For the world building, I'm faced with two choices: build an entire world on my own, or take a firmly set mythology and warp it to my own needs.  I picked door #2, which has landed me hip deep in research.  At this point, I'm really enjoying the research (perhaps too much), and I have a murky idea of how I can make this work. As with everything, time will tell.

Provided it's done right, which setting would you rather read about: A completely new world of the author's making (i.e. CL Wilson) or a mythological world twisted into something new (ala Gena Showalter*)?

*Okay, so Gena's books aren't fantasy, but you catch my drift.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Post and Posse Numbers

Well, I hit 80 followers in the posse.  Hi Everybody!  :waves:  I'm happy you're all here and I hope you enjoy riding the wild writing life waves with me.  I know in the scheme of the blogosphere 80 isn't a huge number, but I appreciate each of you.

Also, after someone else asked on their blog how many blog posts their commenters had, I did the math.  Between this blog and the old Writing Spectacle, the total came to around 1500 posts since December 2006.  Man, that's a lot of random thoughts, rants, writerly wisdom and general junk.  I'm sure there are people out there who wouldn't be surprised I could blather on for 1500 posts, but I'm surprised a little.  Who knew I had that much stuff to talk about?

Here's to welcoming another 80 followers - hopefully well before I reach another 1500 posts. 

How long have you been blogging?  Do you blog daily or are you more sporadic? 

BTW, if I'm not currently following you, I apologize.  Leave me a note and I'll add you to my daily blogroll.  If I am following you and I don't comment, forgive me for that, too.  I do read most posts, but there are only so many minutes in the day to respond to everyone.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not Dead

Just trying to find my way.  I'm not being a total toad and have gotten some words out, but on what, I'm not ready to talk about yet.  I think it's better that way for now.

Are you working on anything you'd like to talk about?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Seven Year Itch

Some say that at seven years, most people start to re-evaluate their relationship.  Why am I with this person?  And what if there's something better out there for me? 

Well, I've been married for almost seven years... but that's not what I'm talking about.  Hubs and I are still going strong, with nary an itch in sight.  Nope, I'm talking about the other major relationship in my life - me and my writing. 

Writing and I have been together for seven years now and I might be getting the itch.  I've been thinking a lot lately about why I'm still doing this and wondering whether I shouldn't just get a job ringing up groceries.  (Lord knows there'd be more money and less stress. "Paper or plastic?"  How hard can it be?) 

Of course, during the research for this post, I also found where other people were relating the seven year itch to VD.  I've got the writerly clap?  Figures.  Maybe I spent too much time hopping from one genre bed to the other, trying to find the right one, that I caught something itchy.  I wonder if penicillin works for writerly diseases...

Anyway, I still love Writing - I think.  I remember why I fell in love with it in the first place.  It's just that I'm bored with our relationship.  I'm doing all the work and Writing is just laying there, drinking beer and watching infomercials with one hand down its pants scratching its nether regions.

I want the romance back.  I want it to take me dancing - or at least give me a reason to dance.  I need a little sizzle. 

As with everything, this too shall pass.  I'll find the romance again.  It's not like this hasn't happened before.  This time, though, just feels longer and harder - and not in a good way, if you know what I mean. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Bunny Day

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, and whether you celebrate it traditionally or just go wild with the chocolate, have a great day today.

For Daughter's last Easter as a kid, I rigged a treasure hunt.  She's still sleeping so I won't know whether she thinks it's a great idea or just her lame old mom up to general weirdness again.  As with everything, time will tell.

Since you're reading this right now, Darling Daughter o' Mine, the first clue is under your Dove chocolate bunny. 

Happy Bunny Day, Everyone.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


But, hey, it's a holiday weekend - so not caring isn't such a bad thing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Puppy Love

I may have shown this before, but those were my dogs.  Sheba on the left and the baby, Tutter, on the right.  He was about 10 months old when this was taken.  She was a Rott-n-Lab and he was Lab/Malamute.

Dang, I miss those dogs sometimes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


And since I put down the movies I wish I'd never seen, here are a few of the movies I could watch over and over again...

Trading Places
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Master and Commander on the Far Side of the World
The Dirty Dozen
True Grit
The Thief and the Cobbler
Big Fish
Meet the Robinsons
Muppet Treasure Island
The Big Sleep
The Philadelphia Story (with Hepburn, Grant and Stewart)
Big Trouble in Little China
Die Hard (all of them)
Executive Decision (but I like it better once Steven Segal dies)

To name a few.  I could go on, but I'd rather see what movies you have on your re-viewable list.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brain Scrubber Worthy Media

I was talking to a friend yesterday about movies we've seen and he said he wished he'd never watched :insert name of crappy movie here:.  His statement immediately brought to mind a bunch of movies that I wish I could now scrub out of my head.  Movies with such horrible images and/or themes, that even years later haunt my brain.

Just for kicks, I thought I'd share my list of Brain-Scrubber worthy films:

Se7en - I saw this back when it first came out on video in like 1996 or '97.  I thought, 'hey, suspense movie, cool.'  I'm sorry I ever watched it.  I can't get the image of the fat guy or the junkie out of my head.  Even after all these years.  And the ending?  How depressing was that? The other day, this film was on AMC.  Hubs was channel surfing and stopped on it because he saw Morgan Freeman, and his movies are usually worth a watch.  I saw five seconds of them about to find the fat guy and was all like "Turn it off!  Turn if off!"  He looked at me like I was nuts (which I probably was) and I told him it was about to get really really gross.  Thankfully, he changed channels.  If he hadn't I would've left the room.

Sybil - a bunch of my college buddies and I watched this one afternoon in the dorm.  Twenty years later, there are certain items in the drugstore I can't pass without shuddering.

Leaving Las Vegas - an alcoholic trying to die and a hooker who falls in love with him and watches him die - what could be right with that? I wanted to die after I watched this movie.

Hellraiser 2 - part of the reason I stopped majoring in Psychology.  'Nuff said.  I'm having flashbacks even as I type this.  :shudder:

Pay It Forward - After investing my heart in the little boy, and rooting for him to succeed, he dies???  And then, everyone rallies around his mission?  He was a cool kid doing neat things to help people, and they KILLED HIM OFF??  No reasoning, no nothing.  Just dead.  The feel bad movie of that year, lemme tell ya.  I knew there was a reason I don't watch Kevin Spacey movies.  (Except Outbreak, where he gets African Mutaba and dies before Dustin Hoffman finds a cure.)

ETA: Event Horizon - As Ardsgaine put it in the comments - WTF.

Okay, now it's your turn.  Any movies that you wish you could scrub out of your head?

Monday, April 18, 2011

New To Me

About 45 minutes ago, I started reading Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins, and I'm inhaling it.  If I didn't need sleep, I'd probably read all the way through and wind up dragging my buns to bed in the wee hours.

Any new-to-you authors you picked up lately that you just couldn't put down?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Do Your Own Research

I've been working on this genealogy thing for about two weeks now and it's been very interesting.  In one branch of my family tree, I'm related to Scottish Lairds.  In another, I got all the way back to a guy who was born in England circa 1400. 

At least I think I did.

You see, I discovered something yesterday that I probably should've already known.  You can't necessarily trust the information other people have put into their family trees.  And just because lots of people have the same information, it doesn't make the info correct.

For instance, I found a William Williams who was born in 1622.  Sounds pretty good.  I traced family to family to family getting to him.  And then I realized the tree I was tracing through had a glaring error.  It showed little Willie's parents -- both of whom died before he was born (Dad in 1618 and Mom in 1614.)

Vampires?  Alien abduction and implantation?  Zombie birth?

So, I shook my head and moved to the next tree.  Same error.  In fact, the next twenty trees had the exact same error.  Seriously.  I had to call the kid upstairs to verify that I wasn't insane.  At which point, I gave up trying to bash through the wall of idiocy and took a break.

Important lesson that: Just because a group of people all have the same information doesn't mean the information's right. 

Which leads to another lesson: Do your own research rather than riding on the backs of questionable data sources.

Sure, it takes a lot longer for me to trace each family member by reading every Census form and extrapolating if they have the right birthdays, places and family members to confirm that the August Meissner I found is in fact my great-grandfather (or, in this case, that Agust Meismer is really August Meissner).  But it's better than thinking I'm related to zombies who were having babies eight years after they died.

And verifying your data also means you won't have any glaring errors in your writing. 

(See how I snuck that in there?  Heh.)

How do you feel about finding glaring errors in your work?  What about finding glaring errors in the text of a book you just bought? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Procrastination Station

I had a really great idea for a blog post last night, but then I fell asleep and lost it.  So, I'll just point you over to Michelle McLean's Blog where she's talking about procrastination.  Seems like an appropriate topic, especially since I put off procrastinating yesterday to screw off with something else.

And today's not looking too good either.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Freaking Out a Little

Okay, so here's the deal.  You might've guessed that I'm smack in the middle of a crisis of self-confidence.  (Or you might not have.  I skipped posting a lot of the worst of it.)  I know it's not rational, but right now, I think everything I write sucks.  In fact, the little voice in the back of my head... You know the one... keeps telling me that everything I've ever written sucks and the future ain't lookin' too good either. (Henceforth, this place shall be known as the ES Zone.)

Enter yesterday morning.  I opened my Outlook and watched the universe deposit a shiny new email in my 'Agent' box.  (Yes, I'm such a geek. I trained my Outlook to place anything with the word 'query' in the subject into its own box.)  Of course, with as negative as I've been feeling, it had to be a rejection.

Except it wasn't.

You'd think my first reaction would be one of glee.  You know, jumping around, doing the Snoopy dance, celebrating a little before I sent my awesome packet out.  My reaction wasn't even close to that.  I think my first thought was 'Sunuvabitch' and then, 'How in the world am I going to send out a quality packet with any confidence if I think everything sucks right now'.  I couldn't even look at the damn thing to make sure I was wrong.  Hell, I'm at the point where I even think my grocery lists are lame.

Don't get me wrong.  I know I loved this story when I first wrote it.  I loved it even more when I rewrote it to make the middle sing.  Now?  Well, the ES Zone doesn't allow for love.  It sure as hell doesn't allow for objectivity.  It just sucks everything into the same pool and leeches the wonder out of it.

So, I was freaking out a little.

I didn't tell my husband.  I didn't say a word to Mom.  I just ran around on the little hamster wheel in my head, thinking "As god is my witness, I don't know what to do."  I debated sending out a blanket email beseeching people for help.  I briefly pondered the idea of writing the nice agent a lovely letter asking her to be patient while I rewrote everything I'd ever written - because, of course, I stink on ice.

Instead, I cleaned.  I scrubbed the kitchen floor by hand.  I dust-mopped and swept and vacuumed.  I beat rugs until I was covered in a thin layer of dust.  When I was too tired to move, I flopped on the couch and read while I watched TV.  Later, I delved deeper into my family tree - discovering a spot where my suspicions were confirmed.  (I knew at some point I'd find cross-breeding in my direct descendent line.)  Finally, as my husband was heading off to the nice warm bed I wanted to climb into, I screwed my courage up, pulled my big girl panties on, and got to work.

I'm trying to forge through the ES Zone - re-reading with an eye toward fatal errors, but not changing anything major because I know I'm being Super Subjective Sally right now.  My fingers itch to wipe everything away and start over - using someone else's brain and hands because mine suck so bad - but I'm pushing ahead.  Just because I'm in the ES Zone doesn't mean I actually suck.  I'm just not objective at the moment.  (Yeah, yeah.  I don't suck.  I'm just not being objective. That's the ticket.)

Here's hoping the agent isn't hanging out in the ES Zone herself.  Now THAT would truly suck.

If all goes well, the submission materials will be going out today or tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

Update: 6:55pm - Submission package sent.  I looked everything over and I did the best I could.  Thanks, Everyone, for your well wishes and luck.  We'll see how it goes from here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Nuff Said

Julie Dao knew what I wanted to say today even before I did.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dull, Whiny, Ranty or Nothing?

I know there's been a lot of 'heritage' posts lately.  Facing facts this morning, I think the reason why I'm so engrossed with this genealogy research is that I feel like I'm accomplishing something there.  I need to feel like I'm getting something done, especially when I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere in the rest of my life. 

So, rather than put up a bunch of whiny posts about how everything else is stalled, I throw out information that I find interesting or I don't post at all.  I realize, however, that what I find interesting (i.e. my family) is probably dull as dirt to the rest of the world.  Sorry about that.  Seriously. 

If you had a choice on the blogs you read between dull posts, whiny posts, ranty posts or no posts at all, which would you choose?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Researching My Heritage Pt 2

Sorry I've been quiet.  This thing is addictive.  Add to that some other important family things, and I've been pulled in a lot of directions lately.  It's all good, but everything is making me neglect my blog. 

On the upside, I have been getting some writing done.  I'm still meandering around blindly, trying to pick up the thread I lost 2 years ago, but so far, so good.  I think I need to throw in a new body.  Either that or sic the villain on the MC.  Terri's getting to complacent and the villain's getting bored.  ;o)

On another upside, I traced the American Indian link in my grandfather's family tree.  Apparently, I'm 1/16th of some tribe.  I haven't found out which, yet.  I also found where my great-grandfather was injured in the Franco-Prussian war.  It would probably be a lot more significant if I read German, but I muddled along enough to figure out he was a 2nd Lt on the Prussian side.  Maybe his military background is why my grandfather was named Wilhelm - after the Kaiser?  :shrug:

My world is covered in sticky notes and printed census lists, but it's a good world right now.

How's your world?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trade Off Carrots

I broke down and got a trial subscription to today.  Probably not the wisest move I've ever made to forward my writing, but once I saw they had records on my grandfather, but I couldn't access them without paying, I had to do it.  (And that's how they suck you in, the dirty bastards.) 

Know what?  It's really addictive.  I spent most of the day researching my family and then my husband's family and then my daughter's father's family.  I told myself I could research during the time I wouldn't be writing anyway, and in return, I would write.  No writing tonight and no playing tomorrow - that was my trade off. 

It wasn't exactly fair, since I only did 570 words, but still, it worked.  I didn't want to stop researching  - there's so much more to learn - but I made myself close the programs and write.  And that's a start.  Consider it my carrot for sitting here when I would rather be sleeping.

What kinds of carrots do you use when you don't feel like writing?  Or are you disciplined enough that you don't need carrots?  I really need to get there, but until I have an agent, the impetus just doesn't seem to be handy for that kind of dedication. 

(And yes, I realize that I might have the whole thing backwards.  I had the drive once upon a time.  Now I just need the carrot again.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wrote New Words!

Dang, it feels good to write new words again.  It's like going without pizza... when you finally get that first bite, it tastes soooo good.

You'll also notice a new meter over there on the left.  Or rather it's an old meter resurrected to go with my resurrected story - tentatively called Fertile Ground.  I hope to keep the bar moving on a daily basis.  I just need to give myself a swift kick in the buns every once in a while.

Have a great day tomorrow everyone.  I'm hittin' the sack.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Researching My Heritage

Have you ever seen that show Who Do You Think You Are?  I think I blogged about it last year.  It's a show where they follow one famous person's journey to discover their heritage.  Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's sad.  It's very often enlightening - like when Matthew Broderick found out one of his ancestors actually was killed in the Civil War. (Glory, anyone?)

Anyway, I was watching it last night when I was struck with the urge to do a little research of my own.  From time to time, I do this anyway - because it's fun and interesting.  Hell, I started doing this in college when I worked in the Government Documents Department and had access to a boatload of microfiche.  I was the first Meissner to find a picture of our infamous 'Cousin Otto' - the guy who worked for Hitler.  I know a lot about my family, but there are still a few missing pieces.  (Like how exactly we're related to good ol' Otto.)

After a while of typing my paternal grandfather's name every which way - one S, two S, his real first name spelled a couple different ways, the name my father thought was his real first name but was actually his middle name. - I think I might've found the ship's document with his name on it. 

That was the big score of the night.  One document that might show when Bruno got here.  (Maybe.  I still have to talk to Mom to confirm dates and names.)  Another thing I learned?  I don't know as much about my ancestry as I thought.  Once I get to my paternal grandparents, everything just sort of stops.  I had better luck with Husband's family - but his group has some more unusual names than ours.  (Yeah, who knew Meissner was like the German equivalent to Johnson.)  At least on his mother's side.  There are about as many Sandersons as there are Meissners in the world. 

And it gets worse.  On my mom's side, the main surnames I have to work with are Judd and Sherman.  (Speaking of which, next week's episode of WDYTYA features Ashley Judd - who I may or may not be related to.)  Try finding those needles in the internet haystack.  Bleh.  Thank goodness my last name isn't Smith. 

I was supposed to be writing, but I worked on this until bed.  It's a huge timesuck, but it's really interesting to see the individual leaves on the ol' family tree.  And hey, if I hadn't done this, I probably would've have known that Hubs is part Hungarian.  Maybe I should make a pot of goulash to celebrate.  LOL

Have you ever researched your heritage?  Find anything interesting?