A Quickie

I wanted to offer a thanks to those who commented on my Thanksgiving entry. I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine.

Laura, thanks for the encouragement. I had no endo pain on Thanksgiving (stress, maybe, but no pain, thanks to the herbals I'm using). I'll have to check out your book - thanks for the link!

southernwriter, I hate you. ;-) Just kidding. :-) Actually, I had an aunt who had no pain "down there," either. My mother had pain up until she had my oldest brother (who's 50 now - yikes!). Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

Buffy, it's not a bad thing to not have written something in your blog about Thanksgiving. Meh. It just felt like the thing to do. Besides, I didn't think I'd be making any entries for a little while. Imagine that! :-) But thanks for commenting, and I hope your holiday was nice and unhectic!

As for my writing...I'm almost up to 50,000 words, and am up to (I think) Chapter 18! I did a marathon session this past Sunday - about 5,000 words or so. I typed for an hour or so, got away from the desk, then went back and typed for another hour.

Worked for me.

Oh, and the reason for that session? Hubby and I went to the 212 on Monday, to stand in line in the cold...to get Enya to sign a special release CD! Woo hoo! She's so sweet; surprisingly, I wasn't fazed by the spectacle of meeting her. I shook her hand and told her how nice it was to meet her.

Hubby, also surprisingly, was dumbfounded for a moment; he was so cute! Especially when he tried to talk ("Um, you can hand Enya the CD cover now, so she can sign it" I said to a befuddled hubby). Then we made a day of it, heading over the Empire State Building, to the 102nd observation deck. Then it was down to the first floor for some yummy microbrewed beer and a touch to eat before heading over to Port Authority.

Don't give up - keep writing!


The Thanksgiving Entry

Live...from New Jersey...it's...!!!!!!!

Um, oh, no. It's probably not a good idea to start this this way. But then again, I just had to endure a loooong 'splanation of something or other during a departmental staff meeting. The woman is very nice, but apparently she can drone on for some time, and she chose this time to do so.

Ah, me.

Anyway, after looking over a couple of online workshops, I've decided to go with one of the free ones, but not until after the first of the year (and after my current paid one runs out in December). I think I did the critiquing thing a little too early; I enjoyed critting others' stuff, but as for my own...some of the comments, while diplomatic, cut me the wrong way. I stepped away from that particular workshop (which I have no problem recommending, BTW) a few months ago, did a couple more crits back around May or so, and then never went back.

My bad.

Once my current WIP is done, and I'm starting the revision process, then I'll join this other online crit group. I like the way it's set up. And although I still get to pick and choose what I want to crit, it'll be sent to my email address instead of going to the website to do it. (Sounds silly to decide something like that on some technology thingy, but there it is.) And, yes, people have had their shorts and novels published, so I'm not worried about that.

But enough of that.

So...what am I thankful for? When I clear out the cobwebs in the brain and insert some smart and "stay awake" cells in there, I realize quite a lot of things.

I'm thankful to be alive.

Now, it's not as if I was involved in a serious car accident (thank God). I do have an on-going medical illness called endometriosis. I gave up on doctors giving me anything useful that would help me. Hysterectomy? Two surgeries is enough (and the hysterectomy would probably induce other problems, knowing my body). Birth control pills? Tried that - no. I'd been off the pill for many years, was put back on it after my last surgery back in 2002; when I'd say something, I'd have to concentrate hard on what I was saying, or I'd forget what I was saying. I was going nuts, wondering what the hell was wrong (well, besides the endo, which leaves scarring all over the abdominal region; this is a result of "that time of the month," with everything not being flushed out of the body).

I finally read an ebook which described my symptoms exactly. I got rid of the pills, and have been on a search ever since to tame the abdominal pain. At least, thankfully, I'm not bowled over with pain, which was a problem taken care of in my first surgery in 2001 (remember 9/11 that year? Yeah. My follow up was the day after that.). But I still have bouts of pain.

All I can say is...I think I may have found something that will work this time. This, in connection with being careful about caffeine and chocolate (too much of either seems to aggravate the pain a lot) and few other things, may offer the control I'm seeking.

I'm not looking for a cure. But if I can keep the pain to a slight twitch three or four times a month, then I'll be satisfied. (And those of you with babies, be very thankful for your lovely little and big ones; I strongly suspect I never conceived because of my endo - all that scar tissue does not make for a nice place for an embryo to do its thing.)

Enough of that pity party. (What, you're not at that stage? I must be doing something wrong. ;-)) Suffice to say, after having some cola last night, this morning wasn't the greatest, but things are smoothing out right now. That's why I'm hopeful for this latest herbal stuff I'm taking, because 1) a woman put together the formulation and 2) It's specific to the problems of endo and fibroids.

I'm thankful to be writing.

I do have one pubbed credit to my name, but that was three years ago. Gads! I'm hoping this time around, in between taking a break from the rough draft and diving into the revisions, that I'll do some other writing: I have a subscription to Realms of Fantasy, and I'm really enjoying the shorts in them. Which got me thinking that maybe I should try that again, and instead of giving up after a couple rejections, to just plow on. Well, I'd have it critted first.

But, yes, I'm thankful to be writing. My day job is mundane typing, a lot of the usual memos and 200-page plan documents (don't even ask). Writing fiction takes me away from that mundane existance (my hubby would pipe in that he takes me away from my mundane existance, and I'd have to agree :-)). It gives me a chance to create interesting characters, to twist things around, to have fun with ideas and names and all sorts of stuff. Can it be a drudgery? At times. But it's a chance to let my creativity blossom, it gives me a chance to unleash the fun and ideas inside of me. And if others like what I've written...all the more fun and satisfaction.

I'm thankful for both of my families and for my co-workers.

Yeah, I'm lumping 'em all in; you got a problem wit' that? ;-) Anyway, co-workers are like family, simply because those of us in the corporate spend so much time with them. All the more pleasant, then, when they turn out to be friendly and funny and helpful, which almost everyone here where I work is.

My family? Well, except for my mother, I don't really get to see my side of the family all that much. But I'm thankful for them because they had to deal with my temper as I was growing up (just ask my mother; she really should've smacked me upside the head a few times for the fresh way I spoke back to her). My mother's really sterling, handing us "Care packages" when hubby and I weren't bringing in a hell of a lot of money, and just being a general help. My mother's sweet and tough and generous, and makes the best damned perogies on the planet! (So there.)

My hubby's family? Have you ever watched an episode of Seinfeld? It's something like that, minus the shallowness. My "married family" is loving, rambunctious, loud, helpful, obnoxious, generous...oh, and did I say loud? ;-) One of hubby's sis-in-law's has a soft voice, and can barely be heard above the ruckus when all the siblings get together (the police are always alerted ahead of time, just in case). Sweet, low-key, innocent me? I was shellshocked the first time I met my then boyfriend's family.

But I got used to it. I figured out early on that if I didn't want my words of wisdom or dreck to be lost among the crickets, I'd have to raise my voice a few decibels. That mission was accomplished very early on.

And my mother-in-law? No, I'm not going to let loose a torrent of mother-in-law jokes because it doesn't apply here. She's as sweet and tough and generous as my mother.

I'm thankful for helpful writers and agents and editors.

Why? Because they're giving of their time to help me, an aspiring writer. It doesn't matter if it's just an encouraging word or three, an interesting insight, or something else. All of these people - whether they're involved in fantasy, SF, romance, whatever genre - deserve my thanks for whatever help they've decided to give.

I'm thankful for my hubby.

Where do I start? (I'm not being flippant.)

There was a time when I felt totally inadequate about not having a child. I'd dreamed about it in my teenage years, wondering how I'd handle that (at the same time wondering if I'd ever get married in the first place, lol).

But it never happened. My first surgery was bladder surgery, and the doctor told my hubby that there was a lot of ugly stuff in there; fortunately, not cancerous. Then the second surgery, to deal with all the scarring elsewhere in my abdomen.

Prognosis from the doctor: Unless you want an ectopic pregnancy, forget about having kids.

She was right, of course, but it didn't hurt any less. I plodded along at my job and in my usual life, then started writing. One WIP that I've put aside but will come back to was written at this time. I poured all of my grief into one of the characters in that story.

Anyway...I'm fortunate in that my hubby doesn't look at me as a baby machine, and that he's not into the whole "carrying on the name" bit. Because if he was, he probably would've dumped my ass a long time ago.

But that didn't happen...because I have such a warm, loving, understanding hubby. His only concern the entire time was that I was okay. And he didn't care one whit about the baby thing. He has me, and that's all he cares about.

Well, he likes his beer, too, but that's another story... ;-)

He's my best friend, my lover, and if I can ever get over keeping a lot of my feelings to myself, he'll become even more of a confidante than I consider him to be.

I'll be writing some time this afternoon; hopefully, I'll finish the next chapter. Oh, and I've decided, in my revision, to add another POV character, except this will be in third person instead of first person (the Diego character is a bit flat at this point; my fault, but I feel he's an important person, esp. since Jackie is depending on him). Diego isn't giving Jackie any sort of reason to believe in him other than he's ruggedly good looking and took care of her big-ass wound in the first chapter (she could have bled to death). But, for now, I'll be concentrating on first person, because I feel it works, and I like Jackie's voice.

Don't give up - keep writing!


Another Week Begins

I didn't realize it had been a week since I last posted...time flies, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (The King and I, anyone? ;-)). Anyway, I've been managing to get my little writing escapades in, with a lot the last few days - minus the weekend.

I know, I know - I should write on the weekend, too. But as I still consider myself unpubbed at this point (I have one pub credit - a short story - but that was published three years ago; certainly not something to point out to an agent). It's hard to do that, though, and since I'm still unpubbed, it'll continue to be a struggle for me.

When/if I get an agent and said agent suggests edits - then I'll write on weekends if the need arises. I probably should get more into that mode, but I don't think it's going to be that easy until I: 1) Finish this thing, 2) Revise and rewrite, and 3) Do the query writing thing. Once those puppies hit the waves, I'll be in more of a mindset to write on weekends.

Of course, this being Thanksgiving week, I'll probably do as much writing as possible in the early part of the week. I'm off starting on Wednesday, but that day's not going to be too much fun: Cleaning and prep work will abound. Blah. Oh well, I asked for it this time. ;-) Anyway, I'm determined to get some words in that morning, even if it's just 400 words.

Thursday and Friday? Forget it, because Mom will be sleeping in the second bedroom (where the computer is) on both days. Now if I get back at a good time on Friday, I might have an hour in order to put in some words. Of course, we'll be going to our favorite watering hole that evening, since we'll be having a pizza party at the house on Saturday evening.

Which leaves Saturday morning and early afternoon available for wordsmithing. Because I have a feeling I might not feel up to doing any writing on Friday after I bring Mom to the train station. I'll just have to wait and see.

So let's see...where am I up to? I finished Chapter 13 today; I'm up to about 35,000 in total (more or less). Plus, there was a nice little surprise at the end of Chapter 13 which will have to be explained in a new index card.

Which, of course, is the beauty of this system (for me, anyway). It's a nice guideline, but I'm not a slave to it.

Tomorrow: My Thanksgiving entry.

Don't give up - keep writing!


Start of Chapter 12

Started out with the argument between Jackie and Diego. It's not too, too long, as she's a bit whiny (but not overly so; she feels used, after all, and rightly so). It nicely segues into a call from her ex.

A little over 1,300 words in this particular scene, and total words so far: 31,000.

Major Progress

I needed to recover from last week, especially last Friday (spending almost all afternoon resending PDFs is not my idea of fun or satisfying work!).

However, I did manage to get in quite a bit of writing last Friday before my eyes bugged out from those PDFs. Not only did I finish Chapter 10, but I finished Chapter 11, too! About 5,000 words. Yay me! ;-)

So I'm now at the point where James Scott Bell in his fab book, Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure, says is the 1st doorway. It's the part where you're going from the beginning to the middle of the story, where your Main Character is thrust into the main conflict in "a way that keeps him there". [Plot and Structure, pp. 28-29] I've set it up so she has no choice but to keep going...because if she doesn't, she's probably going to harm a lot of people and pets...

Not that she enjoys being hooked in the way she has (that is, if she doesn't go forward, the head Elder is going to do something nasty to her). She's going to take it out on Diego in Chapter 12, because she feels he could've stopped the Elder somehow, or could've at least told Jackie what the hell to expect.

Diego will beg to differ, pointing out certain things to Jackie. I think I'm going to start the next chapter with that argument, heh heh.

An Editor's Point of View on Slush

I've been most interested in blogging about my story that I've forgotten I wanted to talk about other "writerly" things. I thought I'd bring in this thread from Making Light, a blog put out by Teresa Nielsen-Hayden. She is (or was) an editor at Tor, and the thread I link to, Slushkiller, gives you, the writer, an idea of what you're up against when you land in the slush pile.

Interesting stuff, as you're getting it from the other side of the equation. Just remember this link, especially if you insist on putting your baby on pink paper with orange lettering and never bothered to learn basic English grammar (since you think that's beneath you).

Did I tell you the one about my sister-in-law receiving a manuscript (when she worked for one of the Warner Books imprints) in a pizza box? Yeah, with all the pizza-type wording on it.

Do you really think that one got through to anyone who could acquire manuscripts? Sure, and I look like Rick Pitino. ;-)

Anyway...don't give up, keep writing!



I totally re-did Chapter 10 (the first scene, anyway), and came away with 1,750 words.

And they're not dreck. To be sure, none of this is completely fleshed out, but this is much more satisfying than my original try. It's keeping in line with the story, it moves the story forward, it imparts some interesting information that'll be important down the line (that foreshadowing stuff)...all good, good, good.

And I even kept in the workout, but it's only a few lines, and it comes at the end of the scene, when she really needs to clear her mind (after Diego tells her something that upsets her no end).

I'm hoping to finish Chapter 10 in the next couple of days.

Don't give up - keep writing!

Agitation and Writing

I've come to the conclusion that I just can't write when I'm agitated, and I don't think it matters if I know why I'm agitated. All I'll say is that I was linked to by another blog/website ("But you've been recognized!" you might say) for something I posted on an agent's blog.

BTW, it's a silly remark, and why this particular blog/website chose to concentrate on the P.S. appended to the main part of my post...I have no idea. I'll just leave it there, because I need to get on with my life, life's too short, yadda yadda yadda.

After finishing my writing yesterday - about 500 words - I looked it over and decided it was total dreck. I mean, it doesn't impart anything - doesn't advance the plot, doesn't bring up anything the reader needs to know...nothing. I basically have Jackie working out (literally; she's doing a step routine) just so she can get past the point that she acted like a wimpy female.

Well, boo hoo for Jackie, and ::snore:: says the reader, who puts the story down and never picks it up again! The problem is that this goes on for 500 words, which is about 450 words too long. Even worse, I have Diego dropping her off at her apartment, and then tell the reader later on they had a talk. Bleh. I think dialogue might be needed at the beginning of this chapter (number 10) rather than having her just say she talked to Diego and told him to shove off. (Heh heh. Boy, can you tell I still have some anger? Whew. That other blog stuff really got further under my skin than I thought.)

I digress. I know I'm supposed to be in the "just-get-the-damned-story-down" part, but I know it'll gnaw at me until I wipe it out and get back to my outline. That's another thing: I went completely off my index cards yesterday. That in itself isn't necessarily bad; I did that earlier in the story, and I'm keeping that because it furthers the story, and it sounds like it would fit in for my whole idea with this thing.

I can even keep stuff that's mostly dreck, which is what I'm going to do with Chapter 4; I'll siphon off bits and put those good bits in other chapters, junking the rest. However, the stuff yesterday is so lame, most, if not all, of it is headed for the techno trash heap.

Enough with the whiny stuff - time for something positive. I've decided to change the locale of my story. As much as I love New York City (and I do), I don't frequent its streets all that often to have any sort of familiarity with them or its denizens; besides, I can see myself mucking it up, by having a car traveling down a one-way street the wrong way...can you say faux pau? Sure, I knew you could. ;-)

So I'm going to set it in the town I grew up. It's not a small town, by any means; at last count, there were 50,000 people living there. Not only am I more familiar with it (and can visit it a lot easier than NYC), but things I've been reading in cyberspace hint that NYC is overdone; agents and publishers are looking for other venues.

Which, of course, necessitates a change in story title (and if this thing ever gets to a publisher, they'll probably change it anyway, so I might as well go with something I like right now). I was thinking about it in the shower this morning, thinking about how a back blurb might describe this story.

Crossing Paths. Not terribly exciting, but then "Cats of Manhattan" wasn't exactly setting the world on fire. ;-) However, my silly, overprocessing brain got to thinking: Jackie crosses paths with a demonic cat, with Diego, with Linnea (that's the one who becomes/channels Bastet - read Egyptian mythology if you don't know who Bastet is), and with the nuts and weirdos in her family, those who live on her floor, and those she works with (although not too much where that's concerned).

Plus, she's at a crossroads in her life. She's divorced; her lovelife is nowhere; her career is boring her to death; and her health insurance (COBRA) is about to run out. All these things happening, thanks to that damned cat! ;-)

Anyway, that's what I'm doing, and I'm sticking to it. For now. No, really, I'm sticking to that (I've even written down on my index cards where I started the change over to the other town, so I'll know where I'll have to redo NYC scenes to the town scenes). Which shouldn't be too bad, because I'm going pretty minimalist in descriptions at this point.

Don't give up - keep writing!