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.”