Thursday, December 16, 2010

Am I qualified?


There's this writing workshop coming up in January, and I've been asked if I would like to be a guest speaker.  Um.  Okay...

I have no problem with public speaking - I used to teach, so I'm used to standing up in front of groups of people and talking about stuff for hours at a time.  I write, so I've got some background there.

But am I qualified to talk to other people about writing?

Obviously, I talk about writing here, on my blog.  But that's an entirely different forum!  Here, you all have read (or had the chance to read) about what I've done, and make a decision on your own about my credentials.  Plus, there's the whole 'never believe anything you see on the internet' rule that you can blame if I'm wrong.  In person, though... I feel like I should have a half-dozen novels published.  Or one.  Or an agent.

At the same time, though, why shouldn't I be able to get up and talk to people about writing?  Oh, yeah, because I don't know if I've got any real 'cred' as a writer.


That's where I am right now.  I'm thinking I'll say no...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not feeling it

I sat down to work on tonight's fiction, and nothing happened.  I stared at the screen, and nothing flowed.  I think there are a few things at play here:
  1. I've been mentally revising for the last few weeks.  I really do need to get it down on paper, but I'm working and reworking on both Partners and Happily Ever After.  
  2. Meliora wants to play again, but I don't know what to do with her.  I condensed several short fiction pieces into a story called Fog Rolls In, but the character of Meliora is bigger than that - I think that she needs a full-length novel.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure of what sort of plot to use, so that's simmering, too.
  3. I got a Shiny New Idea on Sunday while I was in the shower.  I really want to start playing with it, but I don't want to start a new project yet.  Why, you ask?
  4. Mercury is in retrograde.  No, I'm not generally a big follower of astrology, but in general, when Mercury is in retrograde, you're supposed to be better off finishing outstanding projects than starting on new ones.  Which leads us to -
  5. I've got a lot of other stuff on my mind that needs finishing.  Not only do I desperately need to edit Partners and Happily Ever After, I need to finish my mum's Christmas stocking (which will totally not get done for Christmas - I've been spending about three hours a night on it, and I'm only a third done), I need to finish my sister's Sekrit Surprise Present, I need to make a few more Christmas cards for people who have sent me cards (but I'm not complaining about that - please, send me more non-bill mail! I love it!), and a list of other craft projects about a mile long.  Oh, and cleaning up the apartment so my holiday guests don't have to sleep on a pile of dirty clothes.
So you don't get any fiction from me today.  :(  But feel free to go back in my archives and poke around!  Maybe check out the horrible-ness of the "Take Five" series.  I think that may get revisited soon, too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I was wrong.

You may remember that last Sunday I was complaining about a book that I just couldn't get into: With Her Boots On by Lisa Dow.

I was wrong.

I'm not sure if I just had to get over the whole first-person-present-tense thing, or if it just took a couple of chapters for the writing to even out, but once I picked this book up again, I couldn't put it down.  I polished it off in two sittings - my lunch break, and after work that same day.

I didn't like the main character, Mel, at first.  She was whiny and irritating.  But as I got further into the book, I realized that she wasn't actually whiny or irritating.  She was frustrated and stuck, and that made her seem irritating to anyone who didn't see what was going on with her.

I loved that the book was set (partly, at least) in Toronto.  I've never lived in Toronto, but I have visited there, and I've got friends who live there.  I've been to the Firkin, where Mel and her friends gather for drinks after work.  I've met the 'artsy' types like Ursula (and also REAL artistic people - they're not all weird and new-age-y).  I've dealt with a man like Mel's boyfriend.  I've had a friend like Kit.  I know how much of a difference a dog can make in your life.  I am far too much like Mel for my own good (which may also be part of why I didn't like her at first!).

This book was a really good read.  I just had to get over my hang-ups.  If you're into books about real women dealing with the crazy stuff that happens in real life (especially the stuff that sounds like it HAS to be made up!), give this book a try.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday preparations

Yes, it's that time of year again. Life is starting to get crazy.  Wait, starting?  Who am I kidding?  You've been following my blog - starting is a silly, silly word to use.

I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from writing.  It's pretty standard for me this time of year, actually.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, I'm just coming off of NaNoWriMo.  50,000 words in 30 days is a lot.  Although, actually, it didn't feel that bad this year.  What was hard, though, was learning to work with an outline, and trying to pay attention to how I was writing.  I didn't edit as I went, but I paid more attention to word choice, pacing, and all of the little technical things than I usually do.  Granted, I frequently made notes to myself like "fix pace," and "learn more words!" - but I noticed that I was using the same word over and over, or dragging out a fast scene.  I'm starting to realize where my weaknesses lie.

That brings me to reason two for a break.  Now that I have a better idea of what I need to work on, I want to spend some time reading other people's writing to find examples of what sort of things work and feel good to me when I read them.

And speaking of other people's writing... reason number three is that my critique group has just received a piece to read and critique, so I've got that to focus on.  I'm really looking forward to reading this one - I've heard about it for a while, and I can't wait to get started.  I want to be able to give it the attention it deserves.

Finally, it's the holiday season!  I'm having houseguests soon, so I've got to get my apartment cleaned, and try to get rid of some stuff from the spare room.  And of course, there's all the crafting and baking and drinking and sleeping it off! I've got a full schedule!

But no worries - I will continue reading and reviewing on Sundays, I will do a bit of fiction on Tuesdays to keep myself in practice, and I will be a bit more personal and chatty on Thursdays.  See you in a few days!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ice Cream Sundays

Charlie waited patiently by the front door.  She knew that today was Sunday, and she knew that meant a special treat.

Every week, Charlie waited impatiently for Sunday to arrive.  She made it through the endlessly boring work days, and while she enjoyed playing in the park on Saturdays, that was nothing compared to what happened Sunday.

Sunday was special, because Sunday was ice cream day.  Every Sunday, Charlie and Sam would walk down to the ice cream store.  It was just around the corner, but they only went there on Sundays.  They would share a large vanilla cone - never anything more adventurous than that.  But there was no need for adventure - Charlie loved vanilla ice cream, and she was pretty sure that Sam did, too.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Sam emerged from her bedroom.

"Come on, Charlie," she said, picking up a bright pink leash and fastening it to Charlie's collar.  "Let's go for ice cream."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I need to read again!

But I swear, I have a good excuse!  If you read my last post, you know that I've been sick this week.  I actually called in sick twice, and went home early once.  Yeah, I felt miserable.

Unfortunately, because I missed four lunches at work (three due to illness, one due to a baby shower at lunch), I only had one day to do any reading at lunch, and that was definitely not enough time to finish the book.

Fortunately, I'm finally feeling better again!  So I should get some more reading done this week... in addition to a pile of crafts!  Otter's not-so-secret Christmas present is almost done, and Mom's is about 1/4 done.  Woot!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The best-laid plans

I was totally going to blog about how NaNoWriMo went this year, and all the things I learned about myself and my writing.

Instead, I got sick.

I have this nasty head cold, and I mostly want to just curl up and sleep for a month.

So today's blog sucks, and I'm sorry.  Once I manage to get better, I'll write a better blog.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Hello, my bloggy friends!

Well, today is November 30th, the last day of National Novel Writing Month.  For the past 30 days, I've been working on a novel.  I've shown you a few excerpts.

Now that it's over, there's a definite sense of relief - while I learned that I can follow an outline, I also learned that sometimes, and idea doesn't fill as much story as I thought it would.  I'm pretty sure that the 50K word novella I wrote this month really should have been a 5K short story.

At least I realize now that, when I edit, I'll be cutting about 90% of November's output, and then I'll work with the other 10%, and I'll probably re-write most of that.  *sigh*

However, now that November is over, and I don't have the pressure to keep on with that project, I'm hoping that I'll end up with some more story ideas, and more to share on Tuesdays.  I plan to have some sort of flash fiction up for you next week!  Yay!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

With Her Boots On

From the back cover:
     Mel Melrose is getting ready to be a bridesmaid in her brother's wedding and the bridesmaids' dresses that the bride has promised "won't be over-the-top" have actually raised the bar for over-the-top. These dresses are poofier than poof even before the full crinoline enhancement, in a colour that can only be described as construction cone orange.
     Unfortunately, atrocious wedding attire and drunken bridal showers aren't her only stressors.  Mel's career is turned upside down with the addition of a personal translator, a run-in with a sea mammal, and a television commercial producer with an affinity for very large dogs. Any attempt to find solace at home in the arms of her boyfriend is foiled by his sudden infatuation with all things modern dance - especially his teacher, Undulating Ursula.
     Control freak Mel is on the edge even before her neighbours' sudden fascination with lawn adornments rears its gnome-like head. Something has to give... and quickly.
     Will Mel manage to clamber off the edge with her four-inch boot heels intact, or will she discover that maybe, just maybe, Prada boots aren't the answer to all of life's hurdles?

My take:
I started reading With Her Boots On by Lisa Dow in the airport on the way home from a memorial service.  I don't really like the take-off and landing parts of flying, so I really like to have something to read while that's going on.  With an e-reader, though, it's problematic - you're not supposed to have electronic devices on during those times.  I usually end up buying a book at the airport, even though I know that I'm going to need an actual book for the flight.  (I know that it would be cheaper to just bring one of the books from my TBR pile, but that would make too much sense!)

In any case, this was an airport selection.  I picked it up because of the back copy.  I like chick-lit, even if it's not popular anymore.  I like stories about dealing with other people's weddings (I'm in my 30's and unmarried - I can relate!).  I'm a bit of a control freak myself.  I love shoes.  It seemed like a good fit for me.

I wish, however, that I had opened up the book before I got it.  It's written in first-person present tense, and I find that VERY hard to get into.  I know lots of people who like that format, but for me, it's always been a challenge.  I made it to page 72 (of 463) on the plane, reading only during take-off and landing.  When I got home, I set it aside, and I haven't opened it again.  I'm going to blame that partly on NaNo - I read much less during November than I do during the rest of the year, and I'm less inclined to finish a book that I couldn't get into.

I picked the book up again today, and I like the premise.  I sort of like the characters (although I get the feeling that I'm not supposed to really like the MC to start with).  I want to keep trying to read it.  So the plan is, now that November is almost done, I'll take this book to work, and I'll read it during my lunch hours.  Hopefully, in a few weeks, I'll have a proper review, not just a short commentary about why I only made it to page 72!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can't... fiction...

I know, I know, Tuesday is usually fiction day, but I'm totally flaking this week and just babbling instead.

It's been a long week already, and it's only Tuesday.  There's just been so much to do!  I made and delivered a cake for a birthday party tonight (well, I made the cake yesterday, and delivered it tonight), I've been working on Otter's Super Secret Christmas Awesome, I've been working on another SooperSekrit project for Otter and Panda, and I've started working on a Christmas stocking cross-stitch for my mom.

Oh yeah, and I've been doing NaNoWriMo.  You can see my status in the sidebar there -->

And I'm also working full time.

And my puppy has been demanding attention.

So today, I just don't feel like writing.  I did a little bit of NaNo at lunch, but only because I felt like I had to.  I'm not enjoying my story.  I have an outline, and I'm sticking to it (mostly), so I've learned that I can outline and still make a project work.  Unfortunately, I realized after the first two or three chapters that this story just wasn't a very good one.  I sort of like the premise, though, and I think I can take everything I've done for NaNo and condense it into a short story - like 5K instead of 50K.

And that's okay.  I'm still going to finish the story, because you can't edit something that's not there, right?  It's just going to get a MAJOR slash job when I'm done.  And we won't even start on the continuity errors...  Luckily, I realize that NaNoWriMo produces a rough draft ;)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Short Stories

If you've been following me for a while, you will have seen some samples of my writing.  I try to write a flash-fiction length piece on Tuesdays, but I often struggle with those pieces.  I was going through my Google Reader today, trying to catch up on my reading (I've been AFK for almost a week, and I had over 700 blog entries to read!  Down to about 400 now...) when I came across an entry that started my brain working.

Okay, I ran into a pile of things that got my brain going, but only one is relevant to this entry!  I can't remember who it was, or exactly what he/she was blogging about, but it included something about making sure you read what you write.

I realized that part of the reason I struggle with flash and short stories is simple: I don't read that type of writing.  Aside from a few blogs that post short stories occasionally, I don't read short things.  I read novels.  Especially epic novels.  That's just what catches my attention.

So here's my dilemma - do I keep struggling with flash, and also force myself to read more of it, or do I just give in and keep writing novels, because it's easier?  (Easier in that my brain likes that format, not easier in terms of actually getting the damn things finished and polished up.)

Advice? Suggestions?  Anecdotes?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What She Doesn't Know...

Another NaNo excerpt for your reading pleasure!

Jeffrey got out of bed and closed the door, then began rooting through the pile of clothes to find his jeans and t-shirt from earlier in the day.  Once dressed, he took another deep, calming breath before heading out to face his mother.

He found her sitting on the couch, flipping through the channels on the television.

“You know, it’s really a waste to have so many channels," she told him.  “You really only need the basic cable package.  I don’t know why you insist on having all of these extra channels.  I mean, you work all day, so it's not as if you need to have that much variety.”

“I don’t always work during the day,” Jeffrey said.  “Sometimes I work at night, and it’s nice to have options.  Daytime television on basic cable sucks.”

"Still, you could save a lot of money if you just cancelled all of this - Jeffrey!”  His mother dropped the remote, then scrambled to pick it back up.  She frantically pressed buttons until the channel changed, then stood up and glared at her son, hands on her hips.  “Jeffrey Adam Richards!  You have pornography!”

Jeffrey couldn't stop himself.  He laughed.  He laughed so hard that every one of his poor injured muscles started to hurt.

“I don't know what’s so funny, young man!  This is... This is smut!  I raised you better than that, Jeffrey!  I can't believe that you would allow such, such, filth into your apartment!  It's dirty, it's disgusting, it's degrading to women!  You - you - you -” She stammered, lost for words.  Her face was red, as red as the pillows on Jeffrey’s couch, and still, he kept laughing.

“You stop laughing right now, young man!  Stop it!  Stop!  And get rid of that, that, filth!  You should know better!”

“Mother, get over it,” Jeffrey managed to say, pulling himself together a bit.  “It’s just porn.”

“Just porn?  JUST PORN?  Look at the things those poor girls are doing!”

“I did look, and I do look, frequently,” he said, enjoying his mother’s discomfort.

She stammered and stuttered, fuming but unable to form any actual words.

“Did you honestly expect otherwise from me?  I’m twenty-eight years old, as you keep reminding me, with no girlfriend and no prospects for marriage - if I don’t subscribe to the Playboy channel, I’ll just buy the magazine, or worse, download free porn from the internet.  At least this way those ‘poor girls’ are getting paid for what they do,” he said.

His mother just stared at him.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Devil Wears Plaid

This week's review is The Devil Wears Plaid, by Teresa Medeiros.

I picked this book up in an airport bookstore, desperate for something to read.  The selections were, for the most part, completely unappealing to me, but the cover of this book popped out.  Looking at the cover, you can tell that it's going to be a romance, but it was much better than many of the romance novels I've read (and believe me, I've read plenty!)

From the back cover:

Emmaline Marlow is about to wed the extremely powerful laird of the Hepburn clan to save her father from debtor's prison when ruffian Jamie Sinclair bursts into the abbey on a magnificent black horse and abducts her in one strong swoop.  Though he is Hepburn's sworn enemy, Emma's mysterious captor is everything her bridegroom is not - handsome, virile, dangerous... and a perilous temptation for her yearning heart.

Jamie expects Emma to be some milksop English miss, not a fiery, defiant beauty whose irresistible charms will tempt him at every turn.  But he cannot allow either of them to forget he is her enemy and she is his pawn in the deadly Highland feud between the clans.  So why does he still want her so badly for himself?  Stealing his enemy's bride was simple, but can he claim her innocence without losing his heart?

My take:

Despite reading the words "laird" and "Highland" on the back of the book, I didn't realize that this would be a historical romance set in Scotland, and I was surprised at the dialects used throughout the book.  The first few chapters were a bit rough, but once I got into it, I stopped noticing the odd spellings (for the most part).

I read the whole book in less than four hours - it was light reading, but it wasn't ridiculous.  The story was solid, and while there were a few odd twists that I hadn't anticipated, it was not hard to follow.  Medeiros wove a tale that kept me interested.  More importantly, she created characters that kept me interested.  There was a lot of travelling and camping, and if Jamie and Emma hadn't been such well-developed characters, I would have become bored very quickly.

The 'fiery redhead' stereotype made me shake my head a bit, but again, Emma was not just a stereotype.  She had a story, and a reason for doing the things that she did - her choices were not always the sort of choices I would make in her situation, but they were choices that made sense given what was revealed of Emma's character.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story.  If you're a fan of historical romance, I would definitely recommend this book - it's a quick, fun read.  If you've never read a historical romance before, this would be a good one to start with.  It's not a full-out bodice-ripper, and aside from one or two scenes, you don't have to be worried about what someone would think if they started reading over your shoulder.

I've already shared it with my mom. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where did my week go??

So somehow, I totally lost the week.

I would say that I have no idea how that happened, but that's not completely true.  My Tuesday was totally thrown off by three things:

  1. I went to a seminar instead of to work
  2. I had to cross an 'open skywalk' first thing in the morning.  'Open skywalk' my ass!  It was a bridge, dammit.  Have I mentioned that I hate bridges?  Because I do.
  3. I had to take a glass-walled elevator right after I crossed the bridge.  I may not have mentioned it, but I also hate glass-walled elevators.
I was just off my game for the rest of the day!  

But Thursday, well, I don't know that I really have an excuse.  I didn't realize that yesterday was Thursday until today.  Oops.  Sorry, folks!

However, I did actually read a book this week, so I'll have something to review on Sunday!  Woot!

See you in a couple days!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Brilliant idea. Brilliant!

Yeah, deciding to make Sunday my 'book review' day the weekend before wedding-cake-baking-weekend and two weekends before NaNoWriMo was a brilliant plan.  I am a genius.  A total genius.

I have not read anything this week.  I've barely even re-read stuff that I've written.  I certainly haven't picked up a book... I kind of want to read, but I find that when I start reading in the middle of relatively intense writing, two things happen.  First, I start to try to imitate the style of any author that I'm reading.  Second, I decide that I am a total hack and can't write anything at all.  I know that I'm not a hack, but the first draft is always a great, big, steaming pile of crap.  Stinky, smelly crap.  Editing always helps, but still... when I'm in the middle of a first draft, I don't like reading other people's work.

I've got a couple of things on my TBR pile, though.  I started Confessor, the last book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.  I really want to finish it, but I don't want to pick it up and feel bad about myself... *sigh*  Also on the pile, Hush Money by Susan Bischoff.  I've been meaning to read it for an awfully long time, and I do need to write a review of it for both Goodreads and Smashwords.  Once I'm done my draft, though, I'll get back to my regularly planned reading.

In the meantime, I've been spending my non-writing time with crafting - it lets me be creative and relax in different ways than writing, plus, it lets me feel productive.  If you're interested in seeing what I've been doing, go check out my craft blog: Confessions of a Yarn Whore.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNo - Yes, I'm doing it again

So for the seventh year in a row, I'm doing NaNoWriMo.

I've seen a lot about NaNo online lately, which is not surprising.  People seem to either love it or hate it - there really aren't too many who are lukewarm.  I am (obviously) a fan.  If you read my pre-NaNo post, you can see part of the reason I like it.  I learn something about myself and my writing every time I do NaNo.

I'm well on my way - I passed 11k tonight.  Unfortunately, I'm not really in love with my story.  Actually, that may not be an unfortunate thing.  Because I'm not deeply emotionally attached to the story, I'm much more flexible with it.  I had a brand new character show up, and I didn't have any idea what to do with her.  Now she's sticking around, and she'll provide challenges (physical, mental, and emotional!) to my MC.

Also, I don't hate my MC.  This is actually a bad thing.  He was supposed to be a total douchebag, and he is, but I don't hate him.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong... perhaps he's just so inept at what he's trying to do that I'm feeling some sympathy...

In any case, I'm all full of NaNo this week.  Next week, though, I'll try to be less NaNo-filled, since it's ALL OVER THE INTERNET and I'm sure you're bored with reading about it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Peek into NaNo

(Yeah, I know, I'm totally taking the cheap way out, but today's fiction is an excerpt from my current NaNo project.  Enjoy!)

“So where am I?”

“You haven't figured that out?” the man said, then laughed.  “You said it yourself - three times.  You're in Hell.”

Jeffrey made the fish-face again.  “Hell?” he repeated.  Well, he supposed that made sense.  Why else would he be surrounded in pink and listening to this sort of ‘music’?

“Hell,” the man confirmed.  “And I’m the one in charge of greeting you.  I’m Phongor.”  He rose and held out his hand.  Jeffrey, out of habit, reached out and shook it.  He immediately yanked his hand back, shaking it.

“Shit! That’s hot!”

Phongor laughed.  “Indeed it is.  Damn, I love that.  You humans fall for it every time.”

Jeffrey opened his mouth to make a smart-ass retort, but closed it, thinking better before he screwed himself even more.

“That fish thing you do, it's rather amusing," Phongor said.
Jeffrey just glared at him.  A thought was wiggling around in the back of his head.  The man’s name seemed familar, but he couldn’t figure out where it was from.

“In any case,” Phongor continued, “I’m here to greet you, and honestly, I don’t really like you.  I don’t like you at all.”

“Sorry to make your job suck,” Jeffrey snapped.  He crossed his arms and stood staring at Phongor.

“Yes, well, it’s Hell, so I suppose it's par for the course,” Phongor said, laughing at his own cleverness.  “The point is, though, that I don’t like you.  I don’t want to have to deal with you.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I realize that I planned to use Sundays to review books that I'm reading, but, well...

I spent the last three days baking.  I made a wedding cake for my friends' wedding tonight. I was happy with it, they loved it, and it was totally worth it!

However, that means that I spent no time reading.   Stay tuned for a photo of the cake (got to recharge the phone before I can transfer it!), and back to our regularly scheduled blogging for the rest of this week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"What was I thinking??" or "How I Edit"

NaNoWriMo is about to get under way, which means I'll be shoving my inner editor into a box and ignoring him for a month.  (Funny, my inner editor is male.  Huh.  Any psychoanalysis on that, folks?)  Today, though, it is still October.  I thought that I'd give you a glimpse into what goes on in my head after I post something like I did on Tuesday night (rather late), then go back and read it again later.

First thoughts:  What?  WHY did I write that?  It sucks!

Next thoughts:  Okay, why does it suck?

It was quiet. Very quiet. (Not a BAD opening, but awfully vague.  Like "It was a dark and stormy night," only worse.  It feels cliche, and not in a good way.)

Samantha looked up from her computer. There was no movement in the room. She looked around - it was quiet and still. This was a bad sign. She stood up and moved away from her desk. Not a sound.  (Repetitive, and lots of telling, not showing.) 

"Shit," she muttered. The pillows on the couch were unmolested. The blanket on the floor was abandoned. (More telling instead of showing.)

"Casey?" Samantha called out. (Who is Casey? I thought I was being all clever and providing an amusing ruse, but after re-reading?  Yeah, not so much.)  Nothing. Her pulse picked up as she walked down the hall. She was terrified about what she might find around the corner, but she kept going. It was better to know than to imagine, she told herself. (These last two sentences don't flow together as a single thought.) As she approached the bedroom door, Samantha strained, trying to hear anything that was going on inside. Still, she heard nothing.  (I'm totally bored with the 'nothing.' Also, I've used that word twice in this paragraph, and it's a short one.)

Samantha reached out and pushed the door fully open. (So much telling, so little showing!) There lay Casey, curled up on Samantha's pillows, sound asleep. She let out a sigh of relief.  ("She" Samantha or "She" the dog?) Casey opened one eye, looked at her human, then closed her eyes again, sleeping as only a puppy can.  (This is a horrible attempt at a cliche that isn't really a cliche and it bothers me.)

Samantha backed out of the room, returning to her computer, oblivious of the pile of 'killed' socks under her bed. (Another botched attempt at cleverness.)

So that's what went through my head as I re-read it.  Next step?  Figuring out if a) it can be fixed and b) if I really want to bother trying to fix it.  In this case, I don't really want to bother.  I don't really like the idea, and there is virtually no character development.  It was definitely a case of forcing myself to write without really having any sort of plan.  At all.  Also, it was writing after my bedtime.  Once upon a time, I could stay up until all hours with no problems, but since I've become a grown-up with a day job, I need to get to bed.  If I try to be creative too late in the evening, I end up sewing my jeans to a shirt or writing something like this.

Perhaps I'll find another piece later on to show you my form of editing... (Be warned, I hate editing, and while editing, I tend to hate my writing!)

And in unrelatedness, Ruby is feeling better!  I took her in to the shop yesterday, and she stayed overnight, but today I picked her up and she's running nicely.  She's got a new catalytic converter (I still don't know what that does - I should Google it), but still has her old secondary fan.  Someday, when I'm a rich and famous writer, I'll get all of her bits replaced!  (Yeah, right!)  Until then, though, she's functioning well enough to get me to my day job.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fun with Statistics!

Thanks to the stats feature on Blogger, I can tell you that:
  • I have FIFTY followers! Cool!
  • My blog had 27 pageviews yesterday.
  • My most-viewed post (with 336 pageviews) is this one.
  • I have had 925 pageviews so far this month, up from 770 in September
  • The most popular referring URL is, followed by this one (I don't get it.)
  • The most popular referring site is Google
  • The keywords that lead to my blog most often are "something to write about," followed by "peacock feathers" (Seriously, I don't get it.)
  • 72% of my readers come from the US, 8% from Canada, and 6% from the UK
  • I also have readers from India, Vietnam, Russia, Australia, Finland, Taiwan, and Moldova
Of all of those numbers, I'm most excited to see that I have 50 followers!  Just the other day, I noticed that I had 45, and I wondered if I could get to 50 before the end of the year - I guess I have my answer!  That's more than double the number of followers I had four months ago.  On June 23, I got super-excited to have ended up with 25 followers, and I gave away some stuff.  Granted, only three people commented on that post, so I didn't give away much, but still...

In honor of all of you awesome people reading what I've written, I want to do another giveaway!  If you leave a comment on this post before midnight on Sunday, October 31, you can have your choice of one of the following:
  • A Tuesday fiction story with your name (or the name of your choice) as the main character
  • A crocheted critter (hamsterbean, plot bunny, or other creature) of your choice, mailed to you as soon as I manage to finish it
  • A review of a book/novella/short story of your choice (your own work or one you're thinking about reading) posted here on an upcoming Sunday.
Just leave a comment and your choice of prize!

Also, if I make it to 75 followers before the end of the year, I'll do a big giveaway - real books and/or movies and/or snacks and/or other cool stuff!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Puppy Love

It was quiet. Very quiet.

Samantha looked up from her computer. There was no movement in the room. She looked around - it was quiet and still. This was a bad sign. She stood up and moved away from her desk. Not a sound.

"Shit," she muttered. The pillows on the couch were unmolested. The blanket on the floor was abandoned.

"Casey?" Samantha called out. Nothing. Her pulse picked up as she walked down the hall. She was terrified about what she might find around the corner, but she kept going. It was better to know than to imagine, she told herself. As she approached the bedroom door, Samantha strained, trying to hear anything that was going on inside. Still, she heard nothing.

Samantha reached out and pushed the door fully open. There lay Casey, curled up on Samantha's pillows, sound asleep. She let out a sigh of relief. Casey opened one eye, looked at her human, then closed her eyes again, sleeping as only a puppy can.

Samantha backed out of the room, returning to her computer, oblivious of the pile of 'killed' socks under her bed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I've just finished Phantom by Terry Goodkind, the tenth book in the Sword of Truth series.  If you've been reading my blog, you may remember that I was not thrilled with the last book, Chainfire.  This one made up for that.

I wasn't thrilled with the way it ended - it felt as if there was an awful lot left unfinished, but it's the second-last book in the series, so I guess it was intentional, so that the last book could wrap up all the loose ends.  I'm glad that I didn't read this one as soon as it came out, because I would have been really pissed off at having to wait for the next one in the series!

One thing that I noticed in this book is that Goodkind's characters tend to deliver monologues.  I'm pretty sure that he did that in previous installments in the series, too, but I really noticed it here.  Richard will give two or three page speeches about how he figured things out.  I understand that he needs to explain to his friends what's been going on, but the readers have already read all of these things, and it's, well, a bit redundant.  I found myself skimming over most of those, and that's sad.  I like to read a book, not skim it.

But overall, I enjoyed it.  This book actually moved the plot forward, unlike the last book that left me feeling that I had been running around in circles.  And I'm about to start the next one, because after more than ten years, I want to see how this ends!


Want to know about my crafting?  Go visit Confessions of a Yarn Whore, updated today!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Always Learning

My, how time flies! November is just around the corner, and each November for the past six years (sheesh, that's a long time!), I have participated in National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. If you've never heard of it, I strongly recommend that you check them out. The basic goal is to write 50,000 words of new fiction in the month of November. I have met or passed that goal every year, although I did not always finished the story. Each time I have participated, I have learned something important about myself, and about my writing.

My first-ever finished novel came from the draft that I started during NaNoWriMo in 2004, called "It's All About the Shoes". It was utter crap, unfortunately, but that year I learned that I really can finish writing a novel, even if it's not a very good one. Up until that point, I had written a lot, but I had never managed to get to 'The End.' I would get bored, or a shiny new project would come along, and I would abandon my WIP for something else. This first year, I learned that it feels good to finish something. After 30 days and slightly over 50,000 words, I was invested in this piece – I needed to finish it. So I did.

During my second round of NaNoWriMo, I wrote "Fae," an adaptation of the story of Sleeping Beauty. That year, I learned that the best-laid plots can end up resulting in big, steaming piles of poo. I hated every word that I had written. The style was old-fashioned and hard to read. I didn't finish that one. I hit delete and actually got rid of the whole file, I hated it that much.

In 2006, though, I wanted to try it again. I took the same premise that I had used the previous year, but changed everything else – the character's names, the POV, the settings, you name it. That time around, I learned that sometimes, an idea just doesn't work for me. I really, REALLY loved the idea of the story, the idea of taking Sleeping Beauty and making the princess a horrible brat and all of the other bits and pieces that I tried to use. Finally, though, after scrapping the 50,000 words I wrote that year, and scrapping two other false starts in December and January, I gave in. That story was just not meant to come from me.

The next lesson was one that I probably already understood, but had never put into practice on such a large scale. In 2007, I wrote an untitled piece about a young woman in a bad relationship. It was dark – the woman's fiancé was a troubled man, and he took out his issues on her. His family was cruel, her family didn't get it, and on the whole, it was an unhappy piece. I did not write any more of it after November, but I learned that writing can be cathartic. That young woman was me. I had been in a bad place in my life, and in a funk, and I could not find my way out. As I wrote, though, something happened inside of me. I healed. By working out my issues on paper, I worked them out in my heart. I didn't finish that story, but I didn't have to. I felt better by the end of the month, and I was, finally, ready to move on with my life.

After NaNoWriMo 2008, I learned that I can fall in love with something I've written. That year was the year of "Happily Ever After," another princess story. This story, though, did not get trashed after the month was over. It took me several more months to get around to writing 'The End' for the first draft, but I did. I then put it away for a long time – over a year. When I picked it up again, I fell in love with the story. I did not, however, fall in love with my writing. I liked the overall tone and voice that I had managed to create, but a lot of the story felt slow, probably because of the adjective-related padding that tends to show up during NaNoWriMo. Now, "Happily Ever After" is a piece that I consider a WIP, because I am editing it. I am being ruthless, and I LOVE it! For the first time, I feel as if I have written something that (with some work) could be published.

Finally, last year, I learned that I cannot write a mystery, at least not with the writing technique that I prefer to use. In order to write a successful mystery, one must know whodunnit. You have to have a plan. If you don't know who the bad guy is, it's really hard to drop subtle hints. I did have some very impressive red herrings, since I hadn't really chosen the bad guy. I am too much of a 'pantser' to write a mystery right now. An outline is, well, mandatory. I decided, after NaNo, to read more mysteries, to see if I could figure out how to do it successfully. I learned something else – I don't like to read mysteries!

Novemeber is just around the corner... I can't wait to see what I'll learn this year!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trapped v2.0

Remember that old story I found?  I reworked it a bit!  Enjoy!

17 Feb 2293


Yeah, that date is right – 2293. I might have gotten myself into a teeny bit of trouble. And here I am, writing a letter to you, which makes no sense at all once I think about it, because how can I mail a letter to someone three hundred years in the past? So I won't think about it, and I'll just write to you, because I could drive myself crazy if I just sit here and think.

You remember Ted, right? The gorgeous physics post-doc in Dr. G's lab? I had a date with him last night. Well, last night for me… whatever. Anyway. We went out for dinner, and drinks, and then he talked me into spending just a little bit more time with him. Because we both have nosy roommates, Ted suggested that we head back to the lab. What can I say? The idea of making out in a place where you're not really supposed to make out was appealing.

There was this huge machine in the middle of the lab, with all sorts of wires and stuff sticking out of it. Inside, there was a nice big bench – lots of room for the two of us! He told me that it was a "material transporter" – something between a time machine and that Star Trek "beam me up, Scotty" gizmo. It was supposed to be entirely theoretical. "Supposed to be" is the key phrase…

So we were there, getting all nice and close, and we heard a noise. Ted told me to wait in the machine, and he got up to see what made the sound. As he stepped out, he stumbled and hit a whole panel of buttons. Next thing I know, there's this loud buzzing, and a bright blue flash.

I called for Ted, but nothing. I stuck my head outside and I was literally outside! I wasn't in the lab anymore. The whole machine was sitting in a park, and I had no idea where I was. I stepped out of the machine, and started looking around. A guy in a dark uniform came up from behind me and asked to see my permit. He looked young, maybe twenty, and cute, so I put on my best flirty face as I grabbed my purse out of the machine. I handed him my driver's license and he gave me this withering look – I felt about two inches tall. Turns out, he wanted my time travel permit. How should I know that??

Long story short, he gave me a surgical mask to put on, then took me to a big, official-looking building. It turns out that in 2293, time travel is fairly common, but you have to have a permit. I'm not sure why exactly – the judge who listened to my story tried to explain some of it, but honestly, I stopped listening after he said something about quarantine.

I'm stuck in this little room, all alone. They feed me three meals a day, and I've got running water and all that, but it's really just a glorified prison cell. They gave me a reason: something about my immune system not necessarily being compatible with the current microbial population. I'm pretty sure that it's the other way around, and they want to be sure I don't have smallpox hidden in my clothes. Of course, that's not an issue, because they took my clothes.

Actually, you'd like the stuff they gave me to wear! For a uniform, it's pretty comfortable and stylish. I wish I could have a tv, so I could get a better idea of what it's like out there… All I know now is that there's at least one park around, and that the government is still just as full of bureaucratic crap as it was back home.

I hope I'll get to give this letter to you, Janie. I'm worried. What if the "material transporter" thing only worked by accident? What if I can't figure out how to get back home with it? What if the government won't give me one of those time travel permits that I need?

For now, I guess, I'll keep writing you – because it's as much a diary of sorts as it is a letter, at least at this point. I miss you. I miss my family. I miss home.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

311 Pelican Court, fin.

I finished it.  It took weeks, literally, for me to work my way through Debbie Macomber's 311 Pelican Court.  I did not enjoy it.

I was talking to someone about it, and in the middle of our conversation, I realized what it felt like: it felt like I was reading a soap opera.  It was as if I had channel-surfed into the middle of it.  There were eighty-bajillion story lines being told in the same book (okay, it was more like 8, but it felt like a lot more).  It felt as though the characters had been previously established, but at the same time, the author was telling me the same thing over and over, in case I hadn't read the previous chapters.

Obviously, someone likes this style, because Macomber's got a pile of books out there.  Unfortunately, I don't like this style.  I was in a used bookstore this weekend, and I opened up two or three other books by her, and they all had the same feeling for me.  I don't think I'll be reading any more books by this author.

So now that I've managed to finish this book (finally!), what should I read next?  Suggestions are definitely welcome!  If I don't get any, though, I'll probably start in on the last two installments of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.


Want to see my crafting adventures?  Visit Confessions of a Yarn Whore

Friday, October 15, 2010


So I totally flaked on Tuesday's post.  I have an excuse, sort of.  I took a long weekend (four and a half days!), so when I went back to work on Tuesday, it felt like a Monday, so I didn't think to post anything.  Then, on Wednesday, when it felt like Tuesday, I started writing a post, but then I had to rush off to the theatre, and I didn't get a chance to get online before bed.

Then I completely lost track of what day it was, and only knew that I missed blogging this week.  I hope my absence hasn't upset you terribly. (Right, because you all noticed!)

In any case, I think that I'm reasonably sure that today is Friday, and that I should be posting my reading update on the day after tomorrow.  I think.

I will see you all then, hopefully in a less frazzled state of mind!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

311 Pelican Court

It's been a slow week for reading - usually, I do most of my reading during my lunch hour at work, but I took a few days off this past week, and worked through a couple of lunch hours so I could leave early.

I did, however, try to read more of 311 Pelican Court by Debbie Macomber.  I'm about 2/3 finished, and it's a hard read.  It's not that the language is beyond me or anything like that - it's just hard to make myself read it.  In the first two chapters, there were five couples introduced.  I had expected that one of them would become the main focus (perhaps the one mentioned in the back cover blurb?), but at page 259, there's no clear leader.

I feel very scattered with this book.  I want it to focus on one plotline.  Just one.  There is just so much going on here!  I feel like she could do a really great job if she would stop jumping around.  As it is, there's no continuity, and the writing feels choppy to me.

However, I will still finish it.  Eventually.  I don't know, though, that I'll ever pick up another Debbie Macomber book.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More from the Archives (sort of)

That last little story was written in grade 8 (since you asked!).  I was 13.  I've come a long way, baby!

But the funny thing is, my process really hasn't.  I hated editing then, and I hate it now.  I like writing a piece, and calling it done.  I went back through this story, and attached to it were several 'drafts.'  Back then, the teacher graded us on not only on the final product, but on the whole process.  I had three 'drafts,' each of which had to be 'edited' by a classmate.

I worked backwards.

I wrote what I considered the final story first. Then I went back and made changes that I knew people would not like, so that they would have to be 'edited' into the form that was in the final draft.

Yeah, I know.  Kind of arrogant.

The 'outline' was done the same way - wrote the story, then made up an outline that went along with it.

These days, at least, I'm not totally convinced that my stories don't need editing.  In fact, I'm quite certain that they need an awful lot.  But I still like to write in one big chunk.  I don't like to write detailed outlines.  And I'm not a fan of editing.  If I could just turn my first draft over to someone else to finish, I'd be a happy camper.

But I'm doing it.  I'm learning to outline (sort of), and I'm editing as best I can.  I'm learning, and working at it, and if nothing else, I've improved my storytelling skills since I was 13!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Blast From My Past

(This story was written back in February 1993 - a glimpse into how far I've come! I have kept all of the original spelling/grammar/etc.)


February 17, 2293


  I don't know if you'll get my letter, but it helps me to write this down.

  Okay, here goes nothing.

  I'm in big trouble.

  Remember how I was helping Professor G. on his invention last summer? Well, he finished it and on January 12th he called me and asked me to go see it. The "material transporter," as he called it, is supposed to be a time machine. I didn't think it would work.

  He told me to go in and look around. I had just stepped inside when suddenly there was a flash of reddish light and the machine disappeared.

  I looked around. I was in a courtyard, surrounded by a building about ten stories hight. Next to me, there was a building that said Main Computer Base.

  I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. A boy flashed a badge at me and asked to see my permit. When I asked what he was talking about, he explained that you have to have a permit to time travel. I realized that I was probably in trouble.

  The boy arrested me.

  Yep, I'm in trouble.

  I couldn't believe it! I was arrested for being mixed up in a screwed-up teacher's screwed-up experiment!

  The room I'm in is comfortable, more of a hospital room than a jail cell. It's nice because I'll probably be here for at least five years.

  I'll be here for five years because this generation has no disease. The person in charge wants me to stay here for five years to get rid of any diseases I might carry. The only people I'll see are workers who have been immunized against everything.

  Tell my mom "Hi!" I miss you! I'll write again soon. Bye!

        Marie Bishop

(The teacher's comments: "How can you write send a letter if your ahead or behind in time? This bothered me"  I got a C.  I can't help but wonder if an English teacher who can't use "your" and "you're" properly is really all that qualified to give me a C...  I'm not claiming this is a wonderful piece, not by any stretch!  But it's an idea of where I used to be.  Much improvement has occurred in the last 17 years!)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Change in the Plan

If you've been following my blog, you probably know that I've got a schedule: Tuesday is fiction day, Thursday is writing about writing day, and Sunday is crafting day.  I've talked to a few people, though, who have mentioned that they don't really read the Sunday craft posts, because they don't fit with the rest of my blog.  And you know what? I realized that they're right.

I have another blog, Confessions of a Yarn Whore, that I have neglected for a while.  This weekend, I copied my last few crafting entries over to that blog, which I consider my craft blog.  I've decided that I'll still blog about my crafty stuff, but I'll do it over there.

That leaves Sunday open.

I thought about it for a little while, and I've realized that there's something that goes along really well with writing - reading!  So on Sundays, instead of filling you in on my craftiness, I'll share a bit about what I've read each week.

And if you really want to keep up with my crafting, follow me over at Confessions of a Yarn Whore, or just click the link at the bottom of every Sunday blog!


Want some crafty goodness? Check out Confessions of a Yarn Whore!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Busy, busy bee


Have you ever had one of those days when you weren't sure what day it was? Not because you're just forgetful, but because everything has blurred together because you've got so much on the go?

I've got house guests. I'm working. I'm busy with theatre stuff. My puppy wants to spend every possible second in my lap. I've got a blanket to finish before Christmas, and I've started on making my own Christmas cards. I'm getting ready to bake and decorate a wedding cake. I'm really not sleeping enough.

Despite all of this, I'm feeling ready to write! I'm soooooo in the mood for writing! Funny, how I get my greatest levels of inspiration when I have the absolute least amount of time available for it. So I'm carrying my little blue notebook around in my purse, and my flash drive in my pocket, and jotting down all of these little ideas, and writing snippets whenever I can.

Maybe I should blame NaNo... After all, writing 50k in a month will teach you to write under pressure!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Before he even opened his eyes, Sean knew it was a Monday.  Not just because yesterday had been Sunday, but because it felt like a Monday.  No, not just a Monday... a MONDAY.

There is a substantial difference between a Monday and a MONDAY, Sean thought to himself, his eyes still squeezed shut.  A Monday was just another day, albeit a bit suckier than the others because it involved going back to work.  A MONDAY, though... the air seemed different on a MONDAY.  The possibility of disaster seemed almost palpable.

It had been several weeks since Sean had experienced a MONDAY.  Last week, he had enjoyed an uneventful Monday, and the week before had actually been rather pleasant, with a dinner party and relaxed conversation.  He supposed that he was due for one...

With a sigh, Sean opened his eyes.  The early morning light was brightening his bedroom, and despite the feeling of MONDAY in the air, everything seemed normal.  He sat up, stretching and yawning.  As he swung his legs down to stand up, Sean was greeted by an audible 'squelch.'

"Oh, for crying in the sink," Sean muttered, looking down to see the large wet patch on his carpet.  His dog's tail stuck out from her hiding spot under the bed.  "Yeah, definitely a MONDAY."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I made stuff!

Yes, despite the craziness of my life (which involves much drama (literally), much work, much unpacking (still), and much preparing for my parents' visit), I managed to make stuff this week!

I finished the baby blanket for Rachel-at-work, and decided to give Karen-at-work a baby blanket that I had previously completed, because I think the one I had started on was less gender-neutral than I had anticipated.

The two blankets are similar, made with "Oh My!" yarn for the centre portion (white for Rachel, yellow for Karen), with an outer band in blue/white/yellow "Heaven" yarn, which may be the softest yarn on the face of the earth.

I also modified another pair of scrubs into maternity pants, although I made them differently this time - I found my ribbing when I was unpacking, and I remember putting it aside from the other fabric because I knew I'd need it.  I remember putting all of the other fabric into my sewing cabinet in the closet (which now has a crapload of stuff in front of it), and I don't remember seeing the ribbing (which makes sense, because I remember putting it NOT with the rest of the fabric).  Unfortunately, after looking all over, I still couldn't find where I had put it.  I ended up going to Jo-Ann's, and the woman in the fabric section directed me towards the seam binding when I asked her for ribbing (they're all sorts of brilliant there!), so I ended up just getting a knit fabric that matched the scrub pants.  I only altered one pair of pants, even though Rachel gave me three, because I want to make sure that it'll work.  Cross your fingers - she'll take them home tomorrow, so I should know by Tuesday.

In other crafting, I caved and ordered a stamp set from Papertrey Ink, and I've totally made the prototypes for this year's Christmas and winter holiday cards.  Whee!  And they're all sparkly and pretty.  And I LOVE PTI!  I'd never used any of their stuff before, but the stamps were wonderful and simple and soooo pretty!  I'm a convert.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's in a name?

This week, I've dealt with a lot of names.  I helped out with a dance audition, and got to see a hundred little girls and the names their parents chose for them.  I've also been doing an archiving project at work, which involves going through A LOT of charts (over 1000 of them, so far, with probably another 10-15k before it's finished), and entering patient names into a database.  I've seen a lot of names.

It's interesting to see how trends have changed.  The older generations (think 70-80 years ago) have very similar names throughout – lots of Elizabeths and Roberts and Johns.  As people get younger, there's more variety in names, especially starting around the 1980's.  That's not to say that there hasn't been anyone named Elizabeth born since then, but that it's less common.  You're also more likely to encounter an Elisabeth, or a Lissabeth, or Lizbet.

And then there are the recent names.  Wow.  At the auditions this weekend, I met the following little girls: Webhe (pronounced "Webby"), Carter, Murray, McKay, Shamaka, and Desma.  Really?? Why would you name a little GIRL "Murray"?  That just seems mean!

I don't know if other people feel the same way, but I'm sensitive to names and what they can say about a person before you even look at them.  A name can set up an expectation, and sometimes, that can be problematic.  Honestly, when I saw "Carter" and "Murray," I did not expect to look up and see sweet little girls.

Even minor variations on a name can elicit different responses.  Look at my name: Danielle.  Depending on where I am, who I'm dealing with, and the image I'm trying to present, I use different variations on my name.  You get different impressions with Danielle, Danie, Dan, Dani, and Elle, no?

I've currently got four different baby name books sitting on my reference shelf, and I also have Gary Gygax's Book of Extraordinary Names nearby.  When I'm ready to sit down and write, I need to have my characters named.  Once a character has a name, I can figure out who they really are.  For example, in HEA, my MC was Princess Martha Louise, and her mother was Queen Alumedia.  The contrast in the names was part of what drove their relationship, and the plainness of the princess's name was an integral part of her personality and how she saw herself.  The queen, on the other hand, had hated her unique name, and tried to spare her daughter some torment by going to the opposite end of the spectrum when she named the princess.

My heroes tend to have 'manly' names, and my heroines tend to be 'girly' – while I don't mind the idea of gender-neutral names, especially in sci-fi/fantasy settings, I feel more comfortable writing romance or YA where you can figure out whether you're dealing with a boy or girl right away.  At the same time, I have written my share of stories with characters with unique names.  For me, it really depends on the personality of the character.

So what's in a name?  A whole heck of a lot!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Favourite things

The silence weighed on Sarah's ears, the lack of noise feeling unexpectedly loud.  She could hear her heart beating.  Her breath was raspy and too fast.  She inhaled deeply, trying to calm herself.

It didn't work.  It was too dark.  It was too quiet.  It was too small.

Her breathing sped up again, and Sarah could feel her heart racing.  She knew she needed to calm down, but it was much easier said than done.  What would her mother tell her to do?

"Raindrops on roses..." she began, her voice barely a whisper.  "Whiskers on kittens..."

The room was still tiny and dark.  The bonds on her wrists still dug into her flesh.  But at least it wasn't so damned quiet.

"Bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens..." Sarah's voice wavered, but it was marginally louder than she had started.  "Warm woolen mittens... Mittens... Shit."  What were the words?  Why couldn't she remember the song?

Sarah squeezed her eyes shut against the darkness, trying to keep from crying.  "Her name was Lola.  She was a showgirl."  Somehow, these words flowed better.  Barry Manilow was easing her panic.  "With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there."

Ignoring the dark, the silence, Sarah pretended that she was on stage, her voice growing stronger with each line, until she was belting out the chorus. "At the Copa! Copacabana!"

"Shut up!" The shout, and accompanying thump on the door, startled Sarah into silence.  Her eyes opened in the dark, and she felt the fear creeping in once more.  If she couldn't stop it...

"Her name was Lola..." Sarah began again, her voice low, hoping that whoever it was outside the door wouldn't hear her.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Casting off!

I'm nearly done Rachel's baby blanket! I decided this week that I needed to focus on one project, finish it off, instead of hopping from piece to piece.  So I concentrated on this blanket, and I'm casting off.  Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn.  I miscalculated the amount that I had left.  Even more unfortunately, the edging is made of a wonderful yarn called 'Heaven' that is fluffy and REALLY difficult to undo.  So now I need to go and buy one more ball of it, so I can finish the blanket.  But I'm 2/3 finished casting off, and once I'm cast off, all that's left is weaving in ends and trimming them.  And I'll probably do the weaving-in before I get to the yarn store.

Next on the list: finishing Otter's blanket.

In other news, I'm closer to being unpacked!  I unpacked my books, and I filled four boxes to give away.  I put up my wind chimes outside.  I'm charging my power screwdriver, and I'll probably put up my drapes in the living room on Wednesday (they need ironing first!).  I've got a taker for my big box o' yarn, and I've got a place to donate my clothes.  Now I just need to find a place to send my books (oh wait, NaNo is doing a book drive!), and my purses and bags...

Also, I got flowers this weekend, and they are lovely.  Thank you! (Because I know you read this!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ideas everywhere

I know it's fall.  Even though the weather in central Georgia isn't behaving even remotely like fall should, I can tell that it's fall.  How?  I've got ideas!

I've got the Relationship Hell story idea mostly outlined.  I've got another Thurman G. Woodfin story floating around.  The angry tooth fairy from Tuesday's post is sticking around in my head.  I'm ready to re-work Meliora's story, and I'm ready to finish Partners. Oh, and I'm starting to get the hankering to edit Happily Ever After.

After a summer of being in a reading mindset, I'm ready to write again.  I'm really glad that I didn't fight the urge to read.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not going to stop reading!  I've got two books left in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, and I REALLY want to finish it.  I've also got a copy of Susan Bischoff's Hush Money that I want to finish and review this weekend.  Not to mention a whole pile of other books sitting on the shelves...  But I'm ready to write again, too.  I feel recharged, which is a good thing.

I am waiting very impatiently for NaNoWriMo to come around, because I think Relationship Hell is going to sit on hold until then.  Luckily, I've got plenty of 'real life' stuff going on to keep me busy until then.

Hooray for fall!  Hooray for writing!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nice? Yeah, not so much...

"Freaking soda industry," the small figure muttered in the darkness.  She crept down the dark alley, her wings occasionally sparkling in a stray shaft of light.  She was hunched over, trying to be inconspicuous.  Her dress used to be white, but it was dingy and torn.  Her once radiant golden ringlets hung limply from her head and she scowled.

She paused under the light of a streetlamp, pulling something out from a pouch at her waist.  Quickly, she began to whittle a point on the end of a toothbrush.  Once satisfied with the sharpness of the point, she put away her knife and resumed her slink towards the large truck at the end of the alley.

"*$#^% Coke and Pepsi," she muttered again.  "I'll show you, freakin' jerks."

With a swift motion, she punctured the front tire of the truck with the sharpened toothbrush.  She moved on to the next one, then the others.  Stealing away in the dark, the figure finally smiled as she muttered to herself, "That'll teach you to mess with innocent kids' teeth.  The Tooth Fairy always gets the last laugh."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Memories

Sunday is usually my crafting update day, but today is going to be a little different.  Today, I want to tell you all about my favourite memories of my Grandpa Clifford.

When we were little, my sister and I would spend time out at Grandma and Grandpa's house in northern Saskatchewan.  It was so much fun!  We would get to sleep on the pull-out couch in the room that used to be our dad's bedroom, and we were allowed to play on the organ, and we got to use the tape recorder and make our own 'radio programs.'  Grandpa had a huge garden outside - before I knew better, I used to think that it was a farm.  We would help him in the garden (although, looking back, I don't know how helpful we actually were...). I remember the taste of fresh carrots, pulled out of the ground, rinsed off with the hose, and eaten on the front steps.  I must have shelled thousands of peas, and eaten handfuls of them, even though I turned up my nose at peas when my mom served them at home.  There were big, tall raspberry bushes behind the house, and even though I didn't like eating raspberries, I loved picking them, and I loved the jelly that Grandma would make with them.

Grandpa had a little black diary, and every morning, he would record the weather that day - the temperature, how much rain had collected in his rain gauge, and how sunny it was.  I was never really sure why he did it, but I know that he did that every day.

Sometimes, at night, Grandma and Grandpa would play for us.  Grandma played the organ, and Grandpa played the fiddle.  The two of them made beautiful music - they had been playing together for so long that they knew exactly what the other was going to do, almost without thinking.  I'm sure I still have a tape recording of their music, from one of the 'radio shows' that my sister and I made.

Me, Grandma, Grandpa, my sister
The world is going to be a quieter place without their music.  I miss them both.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Plotter vs. Pantser

Ah, yes, the age old question for writers - are you a plotter or a pantser?

I have always been a pantser.  Admittedly, it was only about a year ago that I actually heard that term for the first time, but it's definitely the way I usually write.  I create the stories "by the seat of my pants," making things up as I go along.  I usually have some vague idea of what the end of the story should be, and I generally have a really good idea about the characters, but I rarely have a map to get them from point A to point B.  Even in high school, when we were required to turn in an outline for the major essays we wrote in English class, I'd write the essay first, then fake an outline afterwards.

When I started my NaNo novel last year, I had the main character's name (Thurman G. Woodfin) and a title (Thurman G. Woodfin and the Case of the Missing Toothbrush).  As I wrote, it became clear that Thurman, while the title character, was pretty useless as a detective.  Instead, his assistant (Sara Aebli) became the MC - she was the Penny to his Inspector Gadget.  I also realized very early on that his missing toothbrush was not enough to carry on a 50,000 word story.  So I made it up as I went along!  The end result was awful - it turns out that you actually need some sort of plan to write a viable mystery.  Huh.

Anyways, as I said, I've always been a pantser.  But something weird happened this week.  I started to outline.  I decided to do 18 chapters, and I started filling in details about what needed to happen in each of them.  I'm a little more than halfway through, and I sent the outline to Tanya (who is awesome!) to get a feeling for the practicality of the idea.  She and I went back and forth in emails, and I realized that this whole outlining thing isn't quite as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I still need to finish the outline, but I've got a pretty good idea of what else I need.

Of course, I may freak out when it comes time to actually use the outline, but we'll just jump off of that bridge when we come to it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Musical Insights

(A random post, because I feel guilty about missing two Sunday posts! Enjoy!)

I can be fickle when it comes to my music.  If I'm not in the right mood for something, I'll change the song in a heartbeat, even if it's something that I usually like.  However, there are a few notable exceptions to this.  I realized this today, as I was listening to Pandora at work (BTW, that site is a lifesaver when you're doing monotonous data entry!).

  • Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield.  
    • I don't know what it is about this song, but I can't help but feel good when I listen to it!  I was trying to program Pandora for my "Glee" station, and while this one didn't quite fit the requirements, I couldn't make myself skip it.
  • Don't Stop Believin' by Journey.  
    • I also adore the Glee versions of this song.  Even when I'm in a miserable mood, and I just want depressing music to wallow with, I'll stop and listen if this comes on.
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.  
    • This song has such a happy sadness to it… it's a hard quality to describe, but I love it.  It makes me heartsick and hopeful at the same time, and I love the mixture of emotions that it evokes.  The end result varies, depending on my mood, but it's not usually a bad thing.

Are there any "don’t change the station" songs in your playlist?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Falling down

If she had been left to describe the incident herself, Zoe would have been remarkably concerned with the small, unimportant details.  She would have described the cold, unfeeling cinder blocks that made up the tight, gray walls of the hallway.  She would have told you about the bright, fluorescent lightbulbs that crackled and flickered as she walked past them.  There would have been excessive pontification about the rough-hewn stone floors, which were actually made of relatively smooth pieces of granite. 

Zoe most likely would have told you that she was talking to Albert in great seriousness about important matters - perhaps it was her upcoming appearance at the United Nations to present her proposal to eliminate world hunger, or maybe her plans to meet with the World Health Organization to tell them how they could stop the AIDS epidemic.  Perhaps she was sharing advice on how to best deal with friends who could not make their own decisions, or maybe she was simply sharing the secret of life.  In reality, she was probably telling stories about some famous person that she saw once and then claimed to be friends with.

Regardless of what Zoe had actually been talking about, it is simply important to know that she had been talking to Albert, and had been concentrating on him to the point of distraction.  Had she been paying more attention, Zoe might have realized that the hallway had turned into a stairway.  However, her attention was elsewhere, and rather than purposefully stepping down, Zoe stumbled and began a tumble.

Once more, if Zoe had been able to describe it herself, she would have remarked on the quality of workmanship apparent in the stairs, the crisp edges, the cold stone.  Zoe, however, was not able to describe it.  As she lay in a broken, bloody heap at the bottom of the stairs, it was clear that she would not describe anything ever again.

Albert, when questioned about the stairs later, simply replied, "There were 37 of them."

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's never 'different'

Everyone thinks that their case is 'special' or 'different' from every other instance of [insert situation here] on the face of the earth.  The fact is, your situation probably isn't different or special.  If you did something shitty to a friend, you did something shitty to a friend.  It doesn't matter whether you 'meant' to do it or not, or if you think that you had special circumstances.  There are certain rules in friendships, and when you ignore them, you've got to be willing to face the consequences.  Those consequences will likely include the end of that friendship.

Believe me, I know.  I've unintentionally done shitty things to friends, and had to give up friendships.  Luckily, I think I've learned from those mistakes, because I have never repeated them.  Unfortunately, I lost some really good people from my life.

So why am I blogging about this on a 'writing blog' day?  Well, I haven't written anything!  I've been busy moving and unpacking.  But there is a story percolating inside my brain... and I'm almost ready to write it.

You really shouldn't mess with a writer.  Fiction is a great place for revenge!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So I didn't blog on Sunday.  I didn't write on Sunday.  I didn't do anything with a computer or internet on Sunday.  I moved.  Actually, I've been moving since Friday night.  And I'm still unpacking.  And without home internet.  But I am blogging today! And soon I'll have photos up of all the moving fun.  Okay, I'll have a picture of boxes.  Close enough.

There were boxes everywhere.  There were boxes on the dining room table. There were boxes on the couch and the recliner.  That didn't matter, though, because there were too many boxes on the floor to be able to walk to the couch or the recliner.  The hallway had a teeny, tiny, skinny little path so that the bathroom (with a bathtub full of boxes) was sort of accessible.  The smell of cardboard overpowered the smell of Lysol and carpet cleaner that had filled the apartment when it was empty.  The boxes gave the rooms a uniform, institutional sort of feeling.  The worst part, though, was that the boxes were full.  And needed to be emptied.

Sara grimaced as she stared at the scene.  Perhaps moving to a smaller apartment was a bad idea.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Confident vs. Confused

The last few weeks have been interesting. I have had a series of compliments about my appearance. Last week, as I was out walking my dog, a guy in a truck drove past and almost hit a trashcan while staring at me. I gave myself a quick check to make sure that there was nothing exposed that shouldn't have been, but I appeared to be fully clothed. This was both confidence-inspiring and confusing. I, like many women, am not a huge fan of my body. I consider myself to be slightly on the pretty side of average, as far as appearances go, but I can rattle off a list of things that I don't like about the way I look. When I get compliments, it's out-of-place with the way I look at myself.

I feel the same way about my writing as I do about my body. I'm on the good side of average. I can write a story that has a coherent plot, my grammar and spelling rock (thanks, Dad!), and I feel that I can keep a reader's interest, at least for a little while. Every once in a while, though, I'll share my work with someone and get a really nice comment. For example, my friend Cavid (not his real name) read and line-edited a story that I was submitting, and told me that he thought my voice was very similar to Neil Gaiman. This was AWESOME! At the same time, it was confusing and scary. Do I really sound like someone who is so insanely popular and talented? Is this a good thing? (I was assured that it is a good thing.) It just doesn't fit with the way I look at my writing.

What's the moral of this post? You know, I'm really not sure. Maybe I need to re-examine the way I look at myself, both as a person and a writer. Or maybe the world's standards are just dropping. (See? I can't manage to squash that inner critic!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Something in the water

Kelly sighed softly as she wiggled her feet.  Her toes stuck out of the water at the far end of the bathtub, but she could barely make out the shape of her feet, much less her legs.  The water was cloudy, a shade of white that reminded her of a horror movie she had seen as a child.

Fortunately, Kelly knew that she wasn't in some psycho horror flick - she was just in agony. Yesterday, while she was out hiking in the woods near her house, she had stumbled into a patch of poison ivy.  She had, quite literally, stumbled into it as she tripped over a root that protruded above the surface of the path.  If she were being honest with herself, Kelly had to admit that going out hiking alone was one of the more stupid ideas she had ever had.  After all, she couldn't think of anyone more likely to do something like fall into a patch of poison ivy.

There was nothing to be done about it now, though.  While she wouldn't try hiking out there alone again, Kelly was stuck with the itchy consequences of her actions.  She had slathered on calamine lotion as soon as she got home, completely forgetting everything that she had been taught about poison ivy.  The calamine lotion had helped a bit, but by neglecting to wash off the area first, Kelly had managed to spread the rash over even more of her legs.

So tonight, she was taking her mother's advice.  Kelly had drawn a tepid bath, and dumped a liberal helping of oatmeal into the water.  The cool water had felt very pleasant against her legs, and the weird, gooey consistency of the oatmeal-water was soothing.  Sure, it made the water all murky and creepy, but it felt so good that Kelly didn't mind.  Besides, who was going to see her in a bathtub of porridge?

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend update!

Normally, I'd post something about crafting on a Sunday.  This week, though, I've done about three row's on Otter's blanket, and half a ball on Karen-at-work's baby blanket.  The rest of my 'free' time has been spent on my apartment.

Yes, that's right, I've been cleaning/tidying/emptying spaces and packing boxes.  I'm moving at the end of the month, and I'm trying to get my life in order.  And it's hard work!

I did, however, discover that the storage area under my stairs is actually an interdimensional space.  I pulled about 2/3 of the stuff out of it, and realized that it covered the entire floor of my living room.  And there was still stuff left.  I have a closet of holding! (Okay, yes, I'm a D&D geek. Deal with it.)  I'm really hoping that at least one of the closets in the new place is going to be a closet of holding too... if not, I may be screwed.

Today, I put shelf paper on the shelves in the new kitchen, and I packed up most of my glasses/cups.  I'm hoping to take those over to the new place and unpack them today.  I need to run the dishwasher, and then I'll have all my dishes clean, and then they'll get moved over, too.  That means that I'm doing takeout for the rest of the month, but you know what? That's cool.  I like McDonald's and Subway and Taco Bell and all that jazz.  There are a lot of options nearby, so I should be fine.

There's a part of me that's really sad to be moving, because I have an amazing apartment right now.  However, it's exciting, and fun, and a great way to clear out crap.  Now if I can just manage to let go of stuff... I've actually considered giving away some books.  Eep!!

I doubt that I'll get much crafting done next week, either, but that's okay.  Once I'm moved in to the new place, I'll have a day of knitting to make up for the week of boxes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's in a name?

In my journeys through other writers' blogs, I've noticed a trend.  A lot of people refer to the significant others in their lives by nicknames.  Meg Cabot refers to "He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog;" Tawna Fenske talks about Pythagoras (which I love as a nickname, btw!); The INTERN has her Techie Boyfriend, Hippie Roommate, and Vampire Roommate; Natalie Whipple has Dino Boy and Ninja Girl.  Someone out there keeps referring to her husband as Hot Stuff, but I couldn't find any references to him in my reader while I was searching today. (If you know who it is, let me know and I'll update this post!)

This got me thinking.  Why do we use nicknames?  Is it because we're worried about privacy? Is it because we're worried about what said nicknamed person will think?  Is it because the nicknamee has asked for it?  I know that I link to my friend Colby's blog a lot.  I don't have any problem referring to her by name, because all you have to do is click on her link and there you go - her name is not hard to find.  Conversely, I find myself referring to another friend as just "my friend" when I link to her.  I realized that it was because I had not seen her name on her blog, and I was wary of revealing her identity if she didn't want to be revealed.  Today, though, as I was thinking about this post, I decided to ask her if it was okay - and she said yes!  So from this point forth, I shall link to my friend Tanya's blog. (*waves*)

So what about me?  If you know me in real life, you probably know that my real name is not Danielle Lanois. I do have to qualify that with "probably" because there are actually a few people who are under the impression that 'Lanois' really is my last name. I have chosen to use a pen name for a couple of reasons, and I want to share them with you.

  • I'm youngish, and still single.  There is still a chance that, at some point, I might get married.  If that is the case, my last name will likely change (although I'm still torn on that point - but it's all theoretical right now, so it doesn't matter).  Then I would have to choose whether I wanted to continue writing (and hopefully publishing) under my maiden name, or if I wanted to change.  By using a pen name all along, even if my real name does change, it makes no difference.
  • I have been Danielle Lanois for years. It, or some variation of it, has been my screen name since 2000 (or thereabouts).  It has become my online identity, and if I were to use my real name, there are some who wouldn't recognize me.
  • There are people in 'real life' who really do think that my name is Danielle Lanois. Well before I started blogging or writing with the thought of publication in my head, I was given the nickname 'Lanois.'  It happened, like many nicknames do, because a drunk guy at a party couldn't remember my name.  It stuck. It stuck so well that I have had wedding invitations addressed to 'Danielle Lanois,' because the bride really thought that was my name.
  • Even though I know it's ridiculously easy to find my real name, using my pen name gives me an extra bit of confidence when I'm writing.  It's like I'm playing a part - Danielle Lanois is smart and sexy and glamorous and all the things I imagine a writer should be, instead of a mildly-insecure, slightly-crazy, yarn-obsessed introvert.
  • My last name is Norwegian.  It's hard to pronounce.  And if you hear it, it's hard to spell.  There's something about French that just seems easier (to me, at least). 
    What about you, bloggy-friends?  Do you use a pen name for yourself, or nicknames for other people?  What drove that choice?

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    For Tanya. Because she asked for it.

    Callie yanked the shoe off of her foot and threw it across the room. It hit the wall with a satisfying thunk, leaving a mark. She pulled off the second show and threw that one, too. She scowled at the shoes where they lay on the floor, rubbing her feet.

    "The things I do for fashion," she mumbled. Her feet were sore. Very sore. There were big red divots in the back of her heels from where the shoes had dug in for the last several hours. Her big toes had weird marks on the outsides, and all of her other toes were nearly flattened from the way they had been crushed together in the tiny space.

    Slowly, with the help of a peppermint-scented lotion, Callie's feet began to forgive her. She wiggled her toes, wrinkling her nose at the slight ache that remained. She stood up, grimacing as the soles of her feet readjusted to standing flat, rather than in three-inch heels. With her feet now feeling better, Callie finally shrugged off the dress she had worn that night, tossing it into the hamper. She slipped into an old Van Halen t-shirt and rummaged in her dresser until she found a pair of fuzzy socks.

    Finally feeling more like herself, Callie crossed the room to the shoes that still lay on the floor. She picked them up, smiling at the softness of the leather. "I forgive you," she said, shaking her head. "You're just too cute to give away." Handling the shoes much more delicately than she had when she chucked them across the room, Callie put them away in her closet.

    She flipped off the lights and crossed to her bed, crawling between the covers with a sigh. Her eyes closed, and her dreams began to fill with cute shoes and a night full of dancing.

    I write like
    Stephen King

    I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!