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 fiancĂ© 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!