Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Halloween for Reals!

And so begins the Christmas season.

I'm not even joking. I'm seeing Christmas commercials y'all.

And I really really love it.

Tonight, we'll prop the door open for any  kids who will actually be trick or treating, assuming the weather is good. It was pretty nasty last year, rainy and cold. This year it's just cold, which is perfect Halloween weather.

I don't do the whole Reformation Day thing. I am neither Catholic nor Protestant, and besides, my faith holds that salvation comes through Christ, not your denomination, creed, music preferences, or Sunday morning traditions.

So Happy Halloween!

I'm planning Christmas presents out right now, including the big one to myself, the goal of having my novel in print by Christmas. No, I didn't manage it by my birthday. It'll still be good, and maybe even better now.

I'm also getting together ideas for desserts on Thanksgiving. It's gonna be held at my house again this year, and I have a couple of additions to the usual chocolate chip cookies.

This year, I will be making what have been lovingly named Unicorn Poop and Angel Turds (the latter of which was spoken last year.) Don't worry, they're harmless. Unicorn poop is rainbow sugar cookies, with all sorts of sparklies and color and shimmer. Angel turds are mini red velvet cupcakes, with regular white icing, green sprinkles, and mini-chocolate chips. You can see where the name might have come from (and I didn't make it up.)

The sugar cookies are a recipe online. They actually look like less work than the kosher apple cake I made one year, which was delicious, but time-consuming.

So Happy Halloween and here's to an awesome upcoming Christmas season!

Friday, October 26, 2012


I think it's the law of how things work.

Yes, I'm back. I really really hate the fact that I haven't been doing the warm-up writing I'm used to doing now that I don't feel like I have to, or now that I don't have a chart to fill out.

The book is finished in the most raw form it will ever be in, at least in regards to its current incarnation. (And yes, I think I will put some excerpts from the original creation up again. That was fun. Humiliating, but fun.)

I've taken the time to make some pre-named Notepad files to get what I have now in a typed form. Once I finish the last couple pages of the chapter I'm typing now (currently titled "Alien Planets"), I'll have six of those Notepad files left.

The fact that I'm so close is thrilling. It's yet another peak I've reached.

The higher peak is definitely going to be the editing, and formatting, and cover design, and all the other parts of a book that everyone takes for granted, but which are important and which give a book the real feel it needs.

The fact that I can do nothing but read business articles, completely uninterrupted, for something like two hours, while an attempt to type longer than a paragraph is met by constant interruptions, is immensely frustrating.

But there's only six pieces to go.

And since we're talking about things that make books into books, I will add that I agree very much with Stephanie Meyer on one thing regarding music that she put in her acknowledgments (and pay no attention to the nerd behind the green curtain that reads stuff like that)...

Muse is awesome.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Family Reunions and Weddings

The concept of the family reunion is a funny one to me. How do you reunite with people you don't really know, and therefore were never united with?

I went to my mom's family reunion today. None of the cousins I actually know were there, mostly because of work, life, distance, birthdays, and other things. I usually see these family members at Christmas. Last week was my dad's family reunion. I see that family all the time, because they live around where I do. I ended up talking a lot to my cousin, who told me all about her cousin's (on her mom's side) wedding, then I played with my other cousin's kids.

Today, in the crowded, small, hot Ruritan club meeting house, I suddenly realized why the state of etiquette is the way it is today.

Back in the day, when family reunions were probably not as often a thing as they are now, it was an easier thing to invite family to a modest wedding. If they lived pretty far away, odds are they weren't gonna make the trek back from Oregon or wherever it was they carted themselves off to.

Today, we have cars. Or planes.

I looked at this huge crowd of people, most of whom I did not know, and realized that some of them will be wedding guests.

And it scared me. Suddenly, I have people I don't know showing up, maybe, if they do the gypsy thing, which I understood, from that gypsy wedding show, to mean that word is spread and people just show up. That's normal. That's expected. It's probably exactly how things used to be done everywhere.

Family reunions are probably included in the reasons why people get freaked out about wedding guest lists. What used to be uncomplicated has suddenly become quite a bit more tricky. Suddenly, you realize your parents existed before you entered into the world like a shrieking banshee, and they have cousins and relatives who you might not know and who will expect to get an invitation, even if they don't know you.

And now, what was once a situation of "fix enough for everybody" has now become "oh no, broke me now has to pay to feed 200 people" and even though every single one of the people your age goes "it's your wedding, do what you want" you know they probably don't quite get the way family can be and what is expected of you. I mean, my grandmother thinks it's improper to sit on a bed. We differ on that. I turned my bed into a makeshift couch.

I think I see the point of destination weddings now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Not A Lot To Say

I worked all day today. I didn't do any typing, but I'm going to do some now. Tomorrow is the last day of 14 days to book. I should have worked harder and longer on typing it. At least the raw draft is done. That's something at least.

Basically, today I played with using MyPaint and Gimp together and actually came up with some nice designs for the book cover. One element I want on the cover looks good as I did it in Gimp and MyPaint, but it also looks hand-drawn, which isn't what I want. It's a small, simple thing, so I'm thinking I'll have to make one out of polymer clay, photograph it, edit it insanely, and then add it. Also, I came up with a title for the book yesterday, to be revealed later.

It's going well, and I'm still pumped.

Friday, October 12, 2012


The other week, for a few brief, panicky moments, I literally forgot what a VCR was called. My mind scrambled to recall the correct name of "that thing that played tapes."


It came as a surprise to me, because when I was growing up, I used our VCR a lot. So much so, that as a still very young child, I knew how to adjust the tracking to clear up the picture, even if I didn't know exactly what it meant.

Tapes were a thing. Back then, we didn't go to Blockbuster, choosing instead to frequent a placed called The Video. The building's still there; in the years since the movie store left, it's been about five restaurants. Another strip mall (torn down now)held a small video store that we also went to. This one, I remember vividly, had a large picture of Chucky on the wall and a sign that said "Even Freddie and Jason were kids once too." Apparently it was from a horror movie called Mikey.

The result of all this is that I took to indiscriminately shoving tapes into our VCR. This included some home movies, my mom's copy of Dirty Dancing, and a Denise Austin workout tape from 1986. Also the Wizard of Oz and 101 Dalmatians, the latter of which was later taped over with an episode of Regis and Kathy Lee, because someone at some time had the bright idea to make the record button bright red.

Anyone remember the movies that McDonald's used to sell on VHS at Christmas?

Man, where's my Rudolph tape? I am in serious need of a 7UP commercial right now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vampires Make Good Business Partners

And they won't bleed you dry, pun quite intended.

Knowing that this book, when it's done and ready, will be shoved out of the nest and into a crowd of other self-published books, is a scary thing. I mean, I like my ideas. I like that I have control over the project. I sort of relish the idea of producing this book by myself, because I promise I'm gonna make it sweet.

But it's scary and off-putting to most people because they're afraid they'll never experience what I call (and there are probably other names for it in this line of work) the Twilight effect.

It has very very little to do with vampires, and a heck of a lot to do with how the publishing business works at its best and most organic moments.

In the fall of 2008, I worked at our local Books-a-Million while taking a semester off of college. If you remember, that was the year that the first Twilight film was released, in November, just before Thanksgiving. I honestly didn't know much about that series except for that they had vampires and were really popular.

I was working the day after the movie came out, and I obviously hadn't seen it yet. A lot of customers who came in that day requested at least one of the Twilight books, often the first one. Why?

They liked the movie.

They liked it so well, they bought the first book, and maybe the second. Eventually, we actually ran out of copies of New Moon (which was frustrating, because Christmas.) We sold a lot of copies of Twilight that season. The best part was that people who enjoyed the first book would come back and buy all of them. This meant a larger audience for the next film. That meant more books sold.

It did help that the series was already a bestseller, of course. Money was spent to produce the book and film series.

I'd say they got a return on their investment. That's how business works.

One of the hesitations in the decision to self-publish is knowing that it's very, very likely that there won't be a film franchise to boost sales.

But seeing that demonstration of how the publishing business works is encouraging, because ultimately, during that Christmas season, that bookstore did really well because of word of mouth business.

It's exciting because communication is at the heart of society now. Of business. When given two differing reviews of a product, people are autonomous enough that they want to find out for themselves. And maybe they'll talk about it.

People talk.

And that's awesome.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Typing is Fun!

I just typed a new part. Completely new.

I feel like that's pretty significant because for the last year, I've been typing things in a disjointed, unorganized way. It stunk, and I didn't connect with any of it.

But today, I'm totally connecting. Despite some moments in the past few days where I've felt like the book isn't going to work, actually seeing these words on a screen is pretty cool.

Last night I wrote out a last scene to close the first book. It needs work, but it's there, and I like that it's there.

I have this warm and fuzzy feeling about it. Granted, that also might be because it's October, the weather is gorgeous, and my fiance is moving down here next week.

I think I'll just say that this book is one of the many reasons for the warm fuzzies right now.

I am hoping that in the next few days, I can have some excerpts up for you. Some good ones. Not from the first version of the book, but from this new one.

It's really looking like I will have this book ready by my birthday, and it will be available on Smashwords and Amazon for the digital version. I'll announce when it's ready.

Which will be soon.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I was so ambitious to see the end of the book that I finished.

And then today, at the doctor's office, I thought of another scene I need to add. At the end. It's important, and would wrap up the plot while providing an opening for the sequels.

But where was it the other day, when I left the two main characters sort of hanging?

I don't really know. I took a day off from my book to do some professional stuff. In all honesty, I'm a little frustrated with myself. I got all excited, but there's a couple of pages stil to go, at the very least.


I guess, it did serve as a warning that I said I was sort of finished.

Back to work.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Finished. Sort Of.

I did it.

Today, I finished the raw draft of my book.

Don't get me wrong. It needs a heck of a lot of work, and right now, I have some professional writing that needs to be done before Wednesday. That is money I will make, and it comes first for right now.

But I finished the book.

It took me almost six years, but I finished. I sat in my desk chair in a chilly old building on a gorgeous fifty-degrees and rainy day, my favorite kind, and wrote the last scene.

I've gotten over one hill now. The typing hill is a little shorter, and the editing mountain is even taller, given that I have the need to constantly improve until I can step back and say "one more word would ruin this."

But it's done. I still have half of 14 Days to Book left, and I'm going to use that to type and edit. But there's no rush now, unless I want to rush at the birthday present I said I'd give myself, the gift of a novel, published (at least in digital form) by my birthday. If it's a couple days late, that's okay. It can be a Halloween present.

This version of the book took a lot longer than its predecessor.

And it's finished.

And I like it.

So coming soon, as the book is being typed and edited, are some excerpts. Short ones.

I do hope you'll enjoy them.

Today, I'm just excited about the milestone. And let me tell you, the view is amazing.

The World's Worst Kids Book


Not even joking.

When I was in 6th grade, we were assigned a book report that had to be done on a book from this one certain series. The series' concept was pretty cool; it was aimed at tweens and had the characters interacting with famous figures in history. One I particularly liked was where the girl escaped from slavery and traveled with Harriet Tubman. That was cool.

The next choice, unfortunately, was the one where the kid had some contact, briefly, with Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. If you don't know much about them, that's okay. They were missionaries in Oregon, to the Nez Perce tribe, and were murdered. In the book, the boy never hung around with them for long and actually, not much was mentioned of them. I think they may have died during the events of the plot, but it was just said, not pictured. The protagonist was off getting lost or something. You know. Kid stuff.

Well great, fine. Interesting book. Typical G-rated kid adventure, only for a required assignment.

The next assignment was to read a non-fiction book about the historical figures presented in the novels. I could dig that.

Except for Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were the historical figures.

Remember how the novel didn't go into detail?

Well, the biographical book, which came from the kid section of my school's library, and was written for children, did.

Horrible, horrible detail.

Marcus Whitman apparently died of "hatchet to skull" disorder. Okay, sure, I get that. A little gross.

It gets worse.

Narcissa Whitman was, apparently, shot several times in the chest, after which the murderer picked her up by the hair and whipped her corpse in the face a few times. There may or may not have been more gunshots. Also, they threw in some descriptions of children being shot and/or hacked.

You'll understand if I don't remember much more of the book.

But someone looked at this book, at some point (because it was from the 1960s, when schoolchildren were apparently way more hardcore) and said "buy that sucker."

Oh, the wonders of childhood.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Day My School Exploded

Kind of.

My school didn't literally explode. It's still there, just a little private Christian school sorta out in the country. This particular story takes place when I was in the second grade, which means either 1994 or early 1995.

That was a tough year. In addition to the jarring introduction to such grown-up supplies as red pens and notebook paper, my teacher died (not even joking) and the school year went extra long because we had a lot of ice storms that year, which meant schools were closed either because of the roads or power outages (and I don't remember which one.)

One particularly cloudy, chilly winter day, during a fairly normal class time, my classmates and I found ourselves pressed up against the windows, looking at the smoke rising from down the road. I couldn't see it against the clouds. Next thing I know, we were being let out of school. It also snowed, and I remember watching little bits of snow landing on my coat as I walked with my dad out to the car.

Down the road from my school, there used to be a gas station, or all of one.

Part of it, for some reason, and I'm just guessing a gas fire here, literally exploded that day.

Like boom.

My dad told me that he had seen a mushroom cloud in the same direction of my school, and probably thought, for just a bit, that the school exploded.

But no, we were good and hey, half a snow day. The rest of the gas station stuck around for a few years, I think until I was in college. I used to pass it every day going to school, back when we lived just off Highway 301. It closed, and I think the building is still there.

Definitely something pretty unforgettable.

I did write today too. Not as much as I hoped, because yard work. Oh well.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Yet Another Late Post

This one will be short.

I got well over ten pages written today. The climactic scene is in sight! Not even joking.

Like I said, I expect to be done this weekend.

This is fun.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I watched the Presidential debate last night. Good stuff. President Obama relies heavily on a teleprompter and prepared speeches, and that showed in the debates. The local paper had a quote from a citizen here who is head of the Democratic party. This man's logic decided that because the president talked more than Mitt Romney, as in an actual measurement of time, he did better.

Literally, this man believes that the President of the United States won a debate simply by talking more. That was not the case. He was very rarely clear and concise, and he often defaulted to saying the same things over again, using sentences that were basically means of stalling and giving him time. Mitt Romney was concise. He used four words when four were needed, and he didn't stumble.

Believe it or not, you can actually learn a lot about writing from this.

I totally remember padding papers in college, or trying to. It doesn't work, because that is transparent and shows you didn't even try. At worst, it produces work that's lacking in substance and meaning. At best, it leaves you with prose that's just a bit purple. Making the case that your book is good, that it's worth reading, that it means something, means you probably shouldn't go on and on about what a flower looks like in detail, unless the plot pivots on it. Usually, it doesn't, and I've seen flowers before.

Another way a debate can teach you something about writing? Arguments.

When you are preparing for a formal debate, you have to take time to think about how your opponent will argue. You have to look at all angles, and understand their argument without necessarily accepting it. You have to know where they're coming from and why. You literally have to play devil's advocate with yourself. It still allows you to have a passionate belief in something, but it also causes you to view it rationally.

This helps you write because you get to think as the reader. While you won't necessarily be defending yourself in a fantasy novel about zombie elves in the court of Henry the VIII (though you might at some point; that's a pretty iffy plot right there), you do want to make sure you write clearly without over-explaining anything. They can't read your mind. When someone says "I didn't get this part..." you shouldn't be all "uh, duh, Edward VI totally is a zombie." You should have made it clearer. Thinking like your reader ahead of time will help.

So if you're in high school or college, and the opportunity is available, take a debate class. It's fun, it's brain stretching, and it will likely make you a clearer thinker and a better writer.

In other news, I wrote twelve pages today, and I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I feel like this raw draft could be finished this weekend.

I'm incredibly excited.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Slower Day

Today, I only wrote four pages in my book. I'll probably work on it a little more before I go to bed, but I'm starting to think that maybe the raw draft will be done sooner than even the time frame I set. That means I can finish typing it.

Which means I can edit it.

Which means formatting.

That means distribution.

So I might be able to give myself the birthday present of a finished book after all.

Hey, that frees NaNoWriMo up for the second book. Nice.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Closer and Closer

It's the last day of 30 Days, 30 Posts, 30 Chapters. I have not written thirty chapters, but I did write every day. I'm quite glad this turned out as well as it did.

It's also the second day of 14 Days to Book. I stayed up way too late last night watching Red Dawn, finding a stopping point, and making a chart with crayons.

Sorry, I just love charts. And the 80s. I tiredly informed my fiance last night as well that, alas, in an alternate universe, his town didn't survive the 1980s.

I am that kind of tired, ladies and gentlemen.

And yes. I have written today, in the speckled white and black notebook. I have now reached the exact middle of it. Literally. The stitching and all. It's looking more and more like the end of the book will need to be finished in another notebook that's got some nice big space and a lot of messiness at the front. But for today, counting the double-sided sheets plus two half-pages put together, I've written five pages in a notebook, and will continue to write some more after lunch. Yesterday I got something like ten pages written. I haven't done that in forever. It's paying off. I am seriously so excited, because I am so close to the end. Not within five pages or anything, but this is building to the climax.

Horror Vacui is still free, and you don't even have to have an account on Smashwords to download it. I only ask that you review it if you can.

Now that the end of the book is in sight, you know what comes next...excerpts! Good ones, I promise, though I may have some horrible little bits of the original novel posted this week. That's just too much fun.

Monday, October 1, 2012

There I Go With Another Goal

It's the second to last day of 30 days, 30 posts, 30 chapters. I have one more day where I am obligated, by myself, to post here and work at least one or two pages in my book.

Though the book is nearer to being finished than it was, I'm not exactly in the last chapter. I've worked out some problems and discovered the joy in writing again, with a pen and a piece of paper and my bad handwriting and tendency to scribble notes where they'll fit.

Before I started this, one of my excuses for why I wasn't any closer to finishing was that I had some things about the story that were bothering, and that needed fixing, and that I was stuck. Looking back after the past month, I could have fixed that all by just sitting down to write like I used to. Now I'm closer to finishing than I ever have been since starting the rewrite a few years ago. I'm pretty excited.

Also, in just a bit, a character I liked but previously deleted will show up, for just a bit. I think she'll be around later, too. We'll see.

So here's my new thing, since the book isn't actually finished like I wanted, I'm going to set a goal. I will be finished with this book, in this raw draft, by October 14, and I will post my progress here. Every day. For two weeks.

This should be good.

Old Knees Tell No Tales

No fictional tales, that is.

On October 28th, I'll turn 26.

It's weird.

As much as I still feel like a teenager, I'm not one.

Ugh. I feel old just typing that.

The weirdest thing about getting older is what happens when you do certain things, like go crazy on the elliptical at the gym. I mean, there's nothing like the endorphins that result from a great workout. But every so often (like all today today) my left knee will decide to be That Chick and be all "hey!"

"Hey you!"

"You in the Galaga t-shirt."

"Yeah. You."

"You're old." *troll laughter*

Maybe I'll buy a brace or something.

I refuse to get old on purpose.