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!