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!

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Hugs & Kisses

    "'Hugs & Kisses'."  Ally read the words on the back of the small envelope out loud.  "Hugs and kisses?"

    "Let me see that," Jessica said, taking the envelope from Ally.  "'Hugs & Kisses.' Huh.  Wonder why that's on the outside?"

    "Hey!" Ally protested.  "I haven't even opened the envelope yet!"

    "And you're taking way too long," Jessica said, opening it herself as Ally made a grab for it.  "'Dear Ally,'" she started reading.

    "Give me that!"  Ally lunged at Jessica again, finally wrestling the little card from her friend's hand.  "Look, now it's wrinkled."

    "You should have opened it faster," Jessica said, grinning.

    Ally glared at her, but it quickly dissolved into a smile.  After all, it was pretty damn hard to glare when you had just received a bouquet of flowers.  She cleared her throat.  "'Dear Ally'," she began. "'I just wanted to brighten up your office a bit.  I know flowers make you smile, and your smile lights up the room.  Sam.'"

    "Aw!"  Jessica squealed.  "He's so sweet!"

    Ally grinned.  "I know.  Think I should keep him?"

    I write like
    Stephenie Meyer

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

    Sunday, August 15, 2010


    Yes, that's a wall lined with aluminum foil.  Six rolls, plus the better part of two rolls of duct tape.  Why?  All in good time, mes amis!  But if you want a hint, go visit Colby...

    So the foil was today's project... earlier this week, I worked on my sister's blanket, and I've got less than half a ball of yarn to go.

    I'm going to pick up the rest of the yarn for Rachel's baby blanket this week, since she now knows that she's having a boy.  I've switched a project - one of the girls at work saw the blanket that I was thinking about finishing and giving to Karen, but she fell in love with it.  Now, the purple/blue blanket is designated for Angela.  Karen is going to get a white/confetti feather and lace pattern blanket, which I'm in the middle of working on now.

    Also, I made cheesecake!  It was awesome!  It weighed over three pounds... just a little rich!

    I think that was all - for me, it was a slow craft week.  Of course, every time I say that, someone else rolls their eyes and tells me that I did a ton of stuff.  We'll see what next week brings!

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Review: Tempest by Jamie DeBree

    I know, I don't usually review the books I've read here, but most of the books I've read were traditionally published, and people have already read tons of reviews on them.  Today, I'm reviewing Tempest, by Jamie DeBree.  I've been following Jamie's blog for several months.  The paperback version Tempest is available for pre-order on her website now, and the e-book will be available from Amazon, Smashwords and Scribd on August 16.  And now, onto the review!

    I read the whole book in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon.  I knew, based on Jamie's Indelibly Inked web serial that this would not be a book appropriate to read during a lunch hour at work!  Sex scenes can be tricky, but I think that Jamie struck a good balance. The tension between Charlie and Jake is evident from the beginning of the story.  Initially, I was concerned that Jamie might be building up to something she couldn't maintain, but each of their intimate encounters had the same intensity.  The language and descriptions used were enough to get her point across, but definitely not the over-the-top cliches that are seen far too often in romance novels.

    Adrienne, who appeared rather vapid and useless in the first chapter, went on to prove her worth.  I appreciated the fact that she was portrayed consistently younger than the rest of the group, with her reactions more like what I would expect from a teenager, rather than an adult.

    There were a few times that I had to go back and re-read a scene, particularly the ones that featured the full hiking group.  However, Jamie managed to give every character a unique name, making it much easier to follow the large cast.

    Personally, I didn't like the encounters with wild animals, but that was because they were written so well that they freaked me out a bit - I am definitely not a nature-lover.  Congratulations to Jamie for making me cringe!

    Unfortunately, there seemed to be a few lines missing from the version that I read.  I downloaded the .rtf version from Smashwords, because I don't have an actual e-reader, and that might have been the problem.  Luckily, they were at the end of paragraphs, and did not slow down the pace too much.

    Aside from the small formatting issue, I enjoyed reading Tempest.  If you like your intrigue with a side of romance (or your romance with a side of intrigue!), this is a good choice for you!

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Other interests

    I've been talking a lot with a friend who is taking a step back from writing, or at least from writing with an eye towards publication.  She's been talking about priorities, and figuring out what's important to her.

    Last night, I realized that I've been missing something that is important to me - dance.

    My friend Colby has started teaching a Latin/Swing class at a local studio, and she convinced me to come out to her class last night.  It was amazing.  Not only was it a great class, but about halfway through it, I realized that I need to dance.  It's not just a hobby, a fun thing to do from time to time - I need to dance.

    I haven't danced in any sort of structured format since last summer's run of 'Chicago' ended.  Before that, I hadn't taken a class since I moved in 2007.  And I miss it!  Sure, I've danced around my apartment; yes, I've used old dance warm-ups and 'Dancing With The Stars' videos to exercise, but it's not the same.  There's just something about being in a room full of other dancers, watching everyone in the mirror, feeling that energy... I can't really explain it.  But last night, I remembered, and I don't want to let go.  So I'm going back next week!

    Please, don't think that this means that I won't be writing anymore! I will still be writing - I need to write, much like I need to dance or breathe.

    I've been working on fixing "Into the Fog."  I'm taking the advice to heart, and trying to expand on it.  Tuesday's fiction was part of that.  I know that Meliora is a supernatural being, that she feeds on people's fear and/or discomfort.  What I haven't fully formed is how exactly it works.  I tried the incident with the cat, and while I didn't hate it, I don't think it feels right.  It seemed plausible in my head, but I don't like it on paper (or screen. whatever.).  That's what I'm working on now, though.  I'm working through what needs to be done to get this story filled in, and ready to re-submit.

    The other thing I'm working on more intensively is "Partners." It just seems right to work on the piece about dancers. :)

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    The cat

    As Carver walked back into the house, Meliora watched through the fog, a scowl on her face.

    "You're no fun," she muttered as she turned away.  Without Carver to play with, she was going to have to find someone else.  The fog started to lift as she walked down the street, keeping her eyes open for anyone else who might be outside.  Unfortunately, with the sun starting to set, most people had gone in for the evening.

    Meliora scowled, her footsteps turning into irritated stomps as she walked along.

    A hiss from the shadows caught her attention.  Meliora's eyes narrowed as she saw the orange cat, its fur raised as it stared at her.  Meliora didn't like cats.  Cats definitely didn't like Meliora.  Still, she thought, there wasn't another soul to be found...

    The fog started to roll in again, faster than it had the last time.  The cat's back arched higher still, and it hissed again.  Meliora hissed back at it, and the cat backed up.  The fog was so thick that anyone else would have been blinded.  Meliora, however, stared steadily at the cat.  The cat struggled, unable to move through the suddenly-thick air.

    Meliora reached out her hand towards the cat, pointing at it.  The fog swirled around her finger, then moved towards her, as if drawn in by some sort of vacuum.  The cat hissed wildly for a moment, then stopped, its body sagging.  Meliora withdrew her finger, and the fog slowly lifted.  The cat slumped to the ground, its chest rising and falling as it struggled to breathe.

    "You'll be fine," Meliora said, rolling her eyes.  "You've got eight more lives."

    Feeling much better, she strolled back towards the house, a light trail of fog following behind her.

    I write like
    Margaret Mitchell

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

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    A busy week

    It's been a crazy week!  But in a good way!

    I feel like I got a lot accomplished, at least craft-wise.  I started with making some cards:

    I was really happy with the way this one turned out - it's just a piece of printed cardstock, with "hello" from the new Stampin' Up set that my sister sent me.  I cropped the corners with my new corner cropper, and voila!  Hooray for easy, but pretty.

    I also finally finished Spencer's blanket!

    I'm going to have to wait a few days (until the next payday) before I can send, but I can't wait to get it in the mail!  I've got one ball of light blue baby alpaca yarn left.  I'm not entirely sure what to do with it.  Any suggestions?

    Finally, I'm coming very close to finishing the yellow-and-white wave blanket.

    I've used a ball and a half this week, and I've got half a ball left.  Even better, it's got a home now!  My little sister is going to get this blanket once it's done.  It's not too big, just enough to cover up when she's curled up on the couch.

    I also did four rows on the baby blanket for Rachel or Karen (I've got two blankets going, and the gender of the babies will determine who gets which blanket).

    Hmm... only three photos... I almost feel unsatisfied.  But crochet can be time consuming, especially when working with a 3.00mm hook, so I'm going to ignore that feeling.  Now, on to the writing!

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Baby steps

    I re-read yesterday's blog in my Google Reader this morning, and I got lost. Apparently, I went with the stream-of-consciousness style of writing, but it didn't work. So here's a revision, which (I hope) will be a bit easier to follow:

    I've been working out lately. No, not full-on going to the gym and lifting weights or taking aerobics classes. I started small. Every other morning, I'm doing 3 sets of squats, push-ups, and crunches. It's been almost a month that I've been doing this. I started out with 10 reps of each, and I've increased to 12 squats with arm raises, 12 push-ups, and 15 crunches. There was a day, back at the beginning, when I overslept and didn't have time to do my exercises. Once upon a time, I would have just shrugged, and taken the next day off, too, because it wasn't scheduled for exercises. Then I'd come up with some other excuse for the day after, because by that point, it would have been three days without exercising, and I really wouldn't want to do it anymore.

    Instead, I woke up that next morning and did the exercises, even though it hadn't been scheduled as an exercise day. I got back into the routine, and I've been exercising every other day since then.

    A few times, I've considered adding in more. I did actually add some arm stuff to my squats, and this week I've added a weighted ball to that part, too. But I decided against adding anything more just yet. Why? Because I don't want to push myself so hard or so quickly that I decide it's not fun anymore. (Okay, I'll admit, I've never found exercise 'fun.') There have been a few other times that I've thought, "Why not do this EVERY morning?" Again, I realized that, if I do that, I'll probably start to feel overwhelmed and quit. So I don't do it every morning.

    Now the big question: how does my new work-out schedule apply to my writing?

    Baby steps. I am, and have always been, great at starting projects, but not so good at finishing them. Part of that is because I take on things that are big. An afghan is a large, time-consuming knitting project. A novel is a large, time-consuming writing project. After I spend a few weeks or months working on something, I get bored. I want something new. So I move on and start a new project. The old one is there, and I do come back to it from time to time, but the thrill is gone. More importantly, the routine is gone. I've jumped into something too quickly, with expectations that are too high.

    I know that I need to start writing more. Well, at all. But if I just jump in and start writing like crazy, I'm going to burn out again, and then I'll have to take another long break from writing anything worthwhile. So what's the solution?

    Baby steps! I just need to pace myself. I need to keep some sort of consistency, but without letting myself get out of control. I've got a plan, though. I will write, and I will do it every day. But I won't write a lot. In fact, I'm only scheduling 15-minute sessions. I can write a blog post in that amount of time (usually), and I can get started on something else if I want to. I can do a couple of pages of edits. I can do a page of re-writes. So I'm sticking with the 15-minute blocks. I do realize that writing is a bit more fluid than exercising, though, so I won't enforce the endpoint if I'm in the middle of a scene or almost at the end of a blog. I just need that 15-minute block to get myself started.

    Now that I've got the timing sorted, what am I going to write? The plan is as follows:
    • This week - finish NaNo-related post for FFC
    • This weekend - write an outline for what I want to do with Damagos next weekend
    • Sunday – blog about crafts
    • Tuesday – five-minute fiction
    • Thursday – blog about how all this has worked for me!
    • Next week - re-write chapter 1 of HEA
    • Next week - start edits on chapter 2 of HEA

    See? Baby steps. No new projects, just work on some old ones, things that need to get done. And hopefully, I'll stick with it!

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Not Pretty

    She was not a pretty crier.

    Anna's nose was red and shiny, like a drunkard on a binge. Her eyes were rimmed in a matching shade, and seemed to be partly swollen. Splotches covered her cheeks, and her face was shiny with tears. She sniffled, but a little trail of snot still escaped her nose.

    Her shoulders shuddered as Anna tried to catch her breath, but to no avail. She let out a wail, and it sounded like someone had stepped on a puppy. The sound was as unpleasant as Anna's appearance. She wasn't surprised that no one had stepped up to hold her and comfort her – Anna didn't even want to be around herself.

    With that thought, she lapsed into another bout of wailing, giving in to her despair and letting herself crumple to the floor. There she sat, in a sniveling, whimpering, wet, snotty, slimy mess, unable to do anything but feel sorry for herself.

    I write like
    Stephen King
    I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Feelin' good!

    I have had an awesome weekend.  Absolutely awesome.  Did I mention it was good?  Like, really good?

    I sat down to write my usual craft update, and I feel like I don't have all that much to post... I mean, I finished one little project, and some cards, but aside from that, all of my work has been on projects that are big enough that I can't finish them in a short time frame.  Plus, I tend to get bored if I work on the same thing for too long...

    First, the photos:

    Illoria's dice bag!  Now all of the girls in Tanya's clan have special dice bags.  Whee!  I'm thinking that next time we game, I'll take a photo of all of the bags together.

    The card for Grandpa and Karen (Yes, I make multiples of cards.  It's easier that way.)

    Birthday cards for friends who shall remain nameless (because I haven't sent them yet, and I don't want to give it away).

    Second, the list!  These are the projects that are currently in progress, in order of pressing need for completion:

    • Spencer's baby blanket
    • NaNo Hamsterbeans
    • Hufflepuff scarf
    • Rachel's baby blanket
    • Karen's baby blanket
    • Picnic blanket
    • Pillowcase
    • Dance sweater/legwarmers
    • Yellow/white wave blanket
    • Purple/pink/white wave blanket
    • Pink/white granny square blanket