A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in review

I do a "Year in Review" blog post every year.  I think it helps put things into perspective with the old year and to bring new ideas and goals into focus for the new year.

2010 has SUCKED.  At the end of 2009 and for the first few months of 2010, my life was pure hell.  I lost pretty much everything and some very well loved people left my life for a very long time.  There is a chance that 10-20 years down the line we'll meet again.  I don't know...I can't predict the future.  I'm not a psychic, I don't have a crystal ball - and believe me, I DON'T want that job.  I'd make a lousy Oracle.

BUT...as I was thinking about 2010 I came to realize that in spite of my depressed maundering, this year wasn't all bad.  I made a bunch of new friends - both IRL and on Twitter/Facebook/Blogger.  *waves to everyone in the virtual world*  I was able to reconnect with a couple old friends I'd lost touch with through IM.  I've made huge strides in my writing and with some personal projects of my own.  I've emerged out of my shell and tried some new things.

For 2011, my goals are pretty simple.

  1. Finish revisions, edits, and polishing ONLY A NAME by June so I can pitch it at Mayhem in the Grove and start querying it.
  2. Get my query letter written and polished by June so I'm not totally embarrassed when I set out to query my novel.
  3. Polishing some of my shorts and either publishing them as mini-ebooks or doing a full on anthology and e-publishing it by the end of April.
  4. Lose another 20 lbs so I can reach my goal of losing 60 lbs by the end of 2012.
  5. Learn how to use my DPNs and my crochet hooks.
  6. Crochet an afghan for my bed and a shawl for me.
  7. Knit fingerless gloves for myself.
  8. Continue with my social networking and get to know all my online friends a little better.
  9. Keep my job and possibly try for a different position within the company if one opens up.
  10. Finish writing CRACKED WORLD, and get the revisions started by the end of 2011.
  11. Work enough overtime to save up enough money to move into our own place by the end of 2011.


Hope everyone has a fun night and I wish everyone success and happiness in 2011.

And to end this post...a couple music videos I love.


SKILLET - Monster

SKILLET - Awake and Alive


Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Favorite Blogs

I just thought I'd stop & give a major shout out to some blogs I love that I've found throughout the year.  If you don't already follow them, I'd highly recommend chasing them down and tagging them.  ;)

My 10 Favorite Blogs on Blogger are:

1. Go-Go-Rach's 'Living the Dream' - This woman has something to say and she's not afraid to say it.
2. Rachel in the OC's blog...her Mancode is hilarious!
3. Unedited - Jen Daiker's fun blog (her contest is just icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned)
4. Query Shark - Writers, follow this blog because it's awesome for tips on how to write queries
5. Writer's Beware - One of the most useful & informative sites for writers
6. The Rejectionist - Always has something interesting to say
7. Diane Amy's blog About Writing is full of good info and she's also a social media consultant
8. The Character Therapist - Jeannie takes us on a psychological journey through the minds of characters...she even did two of mine for me :)
9. Amos' blog seems dark & strange, but it actually a fascinating read
10. Pub Rants - A politely worded rant about the usual things you see in publishing, and other random coolness

I follow so many, but those are just the top ten that I love here on Blogger.  If you really want a long list of interesting people check out the list of blogs I'm following and peruse at your own pace.  I'd highly recommend any and all that I've got as something interesting to read.  I also have a lot more from personal websites and WordPress that I haven't linked here.  There's just so many interesting people out there that I highly recommend getting to know everyone you can and read their blogs.  It's a great way to make new friends.

*waves to KD, Rachel, Diane, Jen, and everyone else who's taken time to get to know me & become friends*

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday 'fess up...a.k.a. [insert something witty here]

Wittiness is not something I'm very good at.  Holidays were...okay. Got enough gift cards to get us gas & some new clothes, which are much needed, so many thanks to friends and family for that.


Ah yes.  Writing! That thing I do when I'm NOT swamped in dealing with real life, Twitchy, and being a total nut case and trying to knit a bunch of Christmas presents in three days.  Well, I did it - and I got some writing done too.

ONLY A NAME is still under revision.  I was told in #writechat today that the process is actually write/revise/edit/proofread so the official name for what I'm doing is revising.  It's all editing to me, so if I keep referring to it as "editing the MS" please understand that I'm just trying to get the damn thing ready to submit/pitch at a writer's convention.  (Yes, I intend to do both next year.)

CRACKED WORLD got cracked open and two pages written on it.  I've hit an impasse with that story so I'm focusing more on ONLY A NAME (dear Flying Spaghetti Monster I need new titles for these stories...LOL).

I've also edited and put up the three stories in a short story arc I wrote some time ago that I'm rather fond of.  They're tied in to the events of ONLY A NAME in the sense they're during the same time period and reference some of the characters/events from the novel.  They're over on my WordPress page.

The Rescue
The Soldier and the Boy
The Pigeon and the Fiddler

I'm probably going to end up revising the timeline a little in these once I finish ONLY A NAME, to make them fit in a little better once I've completely established the chain of events in the novel.  But those will be small edits.  I'm always happy for C&C, so if you'd care to leave a comment I'd love to hear what you think.

That's it for this week's 'fess up.  New vlog will probably be coming some time in the next week (I'm REALLY curious to see how well I can do those.)  Another 'fess up next Sunday as usual.  And maybe even another short up at the Dragon's Lair on WordPress.  *waves*  See y'all next week!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Me vlogging as well as blogging...and other stuff

If you've been following my Twitter feed, you'll know I've made an attempt to start vlogging as well as blogging.  It's not exactly my forte as I'm not very good with face to face stuff but I figured it wouldn't hurt to learn.  So...I've got exactly TWO vlogs up on YouTube right now.  I'm already planning my third one.  They're nothing fancy and honestly, I don't know if I'll make them fancy or not.  I like things simple so I might just keep them that way.

Anni's Vlog, Ep 1

Anni's Vlog, Ep 2

I've also got some of my writing going up over on WordPress.  I'm eventually going to purchase the domain name and use that as the start of my webpage.  Right now it's a good place to find some of my stuff.  I've only got two posts up there right now.  But I'll have a third up before the end of the year, and then I'm going to TRY to get something up every week or every two weeks.

Going to my dad's house for a little bit tomorrow (I expect to have to post a family rant later), then to our friend Katey's house, and then on Monday over to dad's again so I can play with my niece's two boys before I head to work.

I'll be posting my usual Sunday 'fess up this week also, so be watching for that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday 'fess up...a.k.a Anni's NOT in trouble this week YAY!

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.  This week has been a lot better in terms of writing.

First, ONLY A NAME has gotten some serious love this week.  I wrote out a torture scene to bring home the kind of conflict that is plaguing Sorcha and her friends.  It's the whole reason why they're homeless and what motivates them to do what they do.  I edited out the prologue because it gives away part of the "big secret".  I adjusted the beginning to once again play up the violence of the world that Sorcha lives in and how it's personally effected her.  I've tightened up a couple scenes at the beginning and now it's flowing a lot better.

Second, while I haven't been tweeting much in the way of positive stuff - though I've gotten a few tweets in there - I am posting a "Happy thought of the day" to my personal Facebook page.  I'm going to try to incorporate that next week into my tweets too, so if you see a hashtag that says #HTOTD that's what it's about.

Third, I'm thinking that I might get ONE of the seasonal pieces written.  And it's not going to be a Christmas story per se, but it will deal with winter and finding hope when you think there is none.  It's also not in Aleran but dealing with one of the characters in one of my UF stories.

Fourth, in order to show that I am following through with my goals I came up with another method for accountability.  I'm going to post once a week (unless reality leaps up and swallows me whole......again) to a WordPress page I set up specifically for my writing.  In fact, I've got a short bit already posted as my first post there.

Chronicles of the Fallen

Fifth, I just wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU to everyone who's encouraging me, supporting me, and helping me in this.  As I've stated before, this time of year hasn't been a good one for the last few years and all of you are making it better for me.  I really do appreciate it and one of these days, when things are better, I might just surprise you all with some cool and awesome handmade gift or something.  :)

That's it for this weekly update.  Catch you next week for the next episode of "Sunday 'fess up".

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday 'fess up....a.k.a. Anni's in trouble

Hoo boy.  I posted about my goals and asked you guys to keep me honest.  Well, I'm being honest.  This first week of me trying to take care of these goals...is a failure.

I haven't been able to get anything done with the seasonal pieces.  ONLY A NAME is sitting there looking forlornly at me, although I did manage to get a page of edits done.  I didn't even open CRACKED WORLD.  And I haven't been very good about tweeting positive things.

I can say that one good thing happened this week - I got a 5 day weekend.  I don't go back to work on Tuesday, and I'm getting paid for 2 of them.  (Two days vacation, regular weekend, and a "volunteer" day where I volunteered to take it off unpaid because they got overstaffed.)

Another good thing that happened is I got my Sims 3 game to work, and redownloaded all my purchases from the store.  I discovered I've been playing since June of '09 with that game.  At least, that's when I made my first store purchases.  I've got World Adventures to also load in but with all the trouble it caused me I'm holding off on that until I get my own computer again.

So while this week was mostly a failure, I have high hopes for the next week.  I'm going to get something done on either the shorts or ONLY A NAME, and I WILL tweet something positive every day.

Keeping this short so I can get back to writing.  Going to put some hours into ONLY A NAME, and if the inspiration strikes for the shorts I might work on them instead.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The whole "cablegate" and WikiLeaks drama has got to stop

Dear WikiLeaks Supporters,

Okay, we get it.  You're pissed that the government is trying to prevent the release of private documents that WikiLeaks has no business releasing.  We get the fact that you think that information is vital and needs to be released.  We get the fact that you're upset because *gasp* the government wants to hold someone responsible for taking information that wasn't theirs to begin with and releasing it to the public.

I DON'T FUCKING CARE!  I don't care who releases what, who objects to what, or if any of this really embarrasses anyone (and I don't think it will...let's be serious here folks.  Those uber secret documents?  Were probably all over the desks of other ambassadors and intelligence agencies long before WikiLeaks got them.)  The WikiLeaks founder is in jail because of a completely unrelated crime.  I don't hold with the conspiracy theory that these are trumped up charges to pigeonhole him until someone can figure out how to bring him up on more serious charges related to the WikiLeaks thing.

These denial of service attacks that some of you are performing to "prove your point"?  They're going to have the OPPOSITE effect that you want.  You want the internet to stay free and independent?  Then stop with the attacks.  You're GIVING THE GOVERNMENT AMMUNITION.  They're going to start pushing for tighter regulations on the internet now just to prevent another denial of service attack from taking down a major corporation's servers.  What happens then?  Tighter restrictions on downloads (not that they aren't already stifling as it is).  Preferred service packages that were shot down earlier this year.  The blacklist that we so recently got rid of?  It'll be back.

And you know what?  Because of you fucktards swearing this is a "data war" and you want all information to be free and easy to access?  THE FUCKING GOVERNMENTS ARE GOING TO GET THEIR WAY.

Please use those brains you've got for something other than hair growth and bleating uselessly about "freedom of information".  All you're doing is denying other people the same right to enjoy that freedom.

No love,

P.S. To the various Facebook pages supporting Julian Assange and WikiLeaks....NO I WILL NOT SIGN YOUR PETITION/LIKE YOU/FRIEND YOU.  I think the vast majority of you are MORONS.

P.P.S. To those of my friends on Twitter and Facebook who support this whole thing, I don't think YOU'RE morons.  I think the people who started this whole mess are.  I also think it just needs to be dropped from our tweets and our Facebook pages because this is a battle that should never have been taken to the public forums in the first place.  If you continue to tweet about it or post to FB about it, I won't do something juvenile like block you.  I'll just do what a reasonable person would do and ignore that particular tweet/post.  But can we please do with a little less of the WikiLeaks stuff?  Please?

P.P.P.S. To the rest of you media moguls out there who are capitalizing on this, shut the fuck up and let us all get back to our daily doses of conspiracy theories and bemoaning the fate of the economy.  I know I'd prefer that to all this WikiLeaks shit.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December Goals

My husband and I got into a long discussion the other day while both of us were battling our depression.  One of the comments I made is I no longer wished/hoped/dreamed for good things to happen because let's be honest: my life hasn't exactly reflected very many positive things lately.  Everything good that's happened has been unlooked for so daydreaming about the good stuff that can happen has gotten me absolutely nowhere, except even more depressed.

My husband looked at me and said, "So?  Stop daydreaming and start DOING.  Make some goals for yourself."  That's how he's managed to lose weight over the last few months.  He set his goals, set the steps for those goals, and he's actually succeeded.  This has inspired him to set other goals and work towards them.

I am not a goal-driven person.  I'm a "go with the flow" type of person.  However, that hasn't been working out so well for me.  Going with the flow means I'm circling the drain.  And I don't want to completely get flushed by my depression and by how badly life drags me down some (most) days.  So...I've decided to set a few goals.  Mostly to do with my writing, since that's where I've lost the most focus lately.

Now I'm sure you're wondering why I'm mentioning them to you, my dear followers.  (And even if you're not, let me have my delusions. *grin*)  The simple truth is: I'm lazy.  Without someone to keep me in line and demand a report of my activities I'll set my goals and then ignore them and fall down again.  I'm closer to achieving my first goals at work which will lead to me getting OFF the phones the majority of the time and into something more like management (which is what I want).  My manager is forever checking up with me on this, making sure I'm doing what I need to do.

So I'm going to use my blog as a way to account for my actions - along with the usual rants, whines, ecstatic exclamations, social commentary, etc.  I've got some goals I'm setting for December and I will be updating once a week (probably on Saturday or Sunday) with how I'm doing on accomplishing these goals.

So...my list of goals for December are:

1. Finishing the first round of edits on ONLY A NAME.
2. Start & finish the holiday themed short stories I've been meaning to write.
3. Make some progress on CRACKED WORLD, which has also stalled because of my inability to focus on my writing.
4. Find something POSITIVE to tweet/blog about every day instead of focusing on how bad everything is going.  (I probably won't blog about the positive things EVERY day, but I might make a list when I do my Sunday goal check posts.)

So, next Sunday expect to have an update of how I'm doing on these goals.  Also, if you follow me on Twitter, I'll be posting a bit about my goals there too.  So hopefully someone here will keep me honest and be after me to keep up the work on my goals.  After three months of this, I probably won't even need the watchdogging because for humans it takes 3 months for something to become habit.  So if everything goes well, by March I'll have this down as a habit.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter sucks...and so do the holidays

Before I get jumped on about how the holidays are "wonderful" and are the time of year to "be with one's family", let me make one thing clear...I DON'T HAVE A FUNCTIONAL FAMILY.

I come from a very dysfunctional background.  The only members of my family who give a DAMN about me are my husband, my oldest sister, my oldest sisters 3 kids, and one of my brother's stepdaughters.  Everyone else would be very happy if I fell off the face of the planet.  They sure as hell won't be spending the Christmas holidays with me.  I have 3 other nieces and a nephew out of my brother and other older sister.  They're not talking to me either because their parents aren't.  So the whole "Christmas is a time for family" bullshit pisses me off.

My husband doesn't have any family to spend it with either.  His sister is married and moving to the Netherlands - and hates us for not following her and my mother-in-law to Texas like good little sheep.  His parents are divorced.  His dad is in Florida with his new wife and has nothing to do with us.  His mom isn't talking to us either, much for the same reasons as his sister.  Long story about the move from Washington to Texas with us stopping in Idaho.  I might even share it some day.  Not today.  I'm already in a bad enough mood as it is.

What makes the holidays even worse is the emphasis on kids.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE kids.  I want kids.  I desperately want kids.  I can't have them.  Not capable of having children.  And because of the state of our finances, and the fact we're living in a 3 bedroom house with a total of six people sharing very limited living space, we can't adopt.  We haven't been in a position to adopt for a long time, and I don't see that changing any time soon either.

But having the fact that I DON'T have children shoved in my face at every opportunity by people around me sucks.  My workplace did something where co-workers and managers could nominate families in need and everything would stay anonymous but gifts would be purchased based on what the nominees who were chosen needed/wanted.  I nominated a single mom on my team at work because she's putting in overtime just so she can pay rent and buy groceries.  I also know she was chosen.  I'm glad because this means she'll get some help for the holidays for her and her three kids.

I ALSO know, due to having overheard a conversation I probably shouldn't have, that I was nominated for help because of the fact I barely break even most months on bills even with both of us working.  We don't have much in the way of appropriate work clothes and it bothers my boss (in a sympathetic, not nasty way) to see me wearing the same worn out work clothes day in and day out.  He nominated my husband and me because he felt we too could use some help.  He was told by HR (and this is the conversation I got to overhear since I sit right next to his cubicle) that because we don't have children WE DON'T QUALIFY FOR THE COMPANY'S HELP.  Their whole goal is to help "families in need" and because we don't have children we don't count as a family.

What the FUCK ever.  I'm not upset because we didn't get chosen.  There are a lot of people who need help more than we do.  It's the REASON we weren't chosen.  Because my husband and I don't have kids, we're not a REAL family.  That's what pissed me off about the whole situation.

We've had a lot of snow dropped on our heads.  I almost didn't make it to work alive yesterday because people around here don't know how to drive with snow on the ground.  I'm grateful my husband does because he's the one driving and he kept us safe yesterday.  I half jokingly asked my boss what would happen if I called out for today because of road conditions.  He said, "The company doesn't care if you can't drive in. If you don't have any more sick time, you'll be fired for calling out."  I just stared at him.

"You mean they'd rather you DIE because of bad weather conditions than call in because you can't make it to work?" I asked.  He just nodded.  He looked as upset as I was.  Apparently he got an email from the center manager telling him that if anyone called in because of the weather, and if they didn't have the time to cover it, he was to tell them to swing by when they could and get their stuff from security.

When I was told I had 3 planned days left and I needed to use them before the end of the year, I jumped on the chance to take today off.  I also have a 4 day weekend next week (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon).  I need the time off so I can get some writing done.  I also need the time away from the "YOU RUINED MY KIDS' CHRISTMAS!" from parents who have NO concept of managing personal finances.

I'm doing handmade Christmas gifts this year.  I'm knitting hot pads for dinner tables, glasses cases (pretty much everyone who's still talking to me in my family wears glasses), and trying my hand at a purse.  I'll probably scrap that one in favor of the easier presents and do the purse for a birthday or something.  I don't know.  I'm at the point where I don't even want to do Christmas presents.  Just send everyone a Christmas card and call it good.  It's not like they don't know how hard hit we've been in the last several months.

*sigh*  It doesn't help Twitchy (the roommate who owns the house) has a house full of people right now.  They've been here since before I got home from work last night.  They were loud and obnoxious all night and I finally grabbed my Benadryl and took four of them to get to sleep.  (Two doesn't work on me anymore. I've used them as sleeping pills way too often in the past 9 months.)  Apparently my husband went out and ranted to one of our other roommates - his best friend Parker - about the whole situation because HE was pissed off by it too.  Also about the fact that he was told he couldn't say even a quarter of the stuff he wanted to say in response to Twitchy's younger sister and her two boy toys' bullshit.

My husband and I both have to worry about random piss tests for drugs and alcohol.  It's part of life right now for us.  Twitchy's younger sister's boyfriend SPIKED MY HUSBAND'S SODA.  It was just a damn good thing he noticed and spit it out.  The boyfriend thought it was freakishly hilarious, even more so when he found out the consequences if hubby got caught drinking.

The two boy toys also set off my "creep meter" big time.  I didn't even get a good look at them before bolting for  the bedroom.  Twitchy was rather offended by the fact I didn't stick around to talk to her and the others hanging out.  My husband reminded her I suffer from social anxiety.  Twitchy's response? "But these aren't strangers!"  My husband pointed out that to me, since I didn't know anyone except Twitchy's best friend, they were.  There were four people I didn't know (and three I did) drinking in our rather small dining room/living room area, being very loud, and two of them set me off so bad by just being in the same room that I ran for it.  Yeah...not going to stick around for that.

Twitchy asked me if I was going to make my white enchiladas tonight.  I told her only way I was making them is if the house guests were all gone.  I'm not leaving the bedroom while they're still here.  She got all butthurt and told me if I couldn't handle her family being here then maybe I should learn to get over it.  I wanted to smack the shit out of her but I restrained myself.  I told her that since she was so inconsiderate to NOT pay attention to the fact that she has FOUR ROOMMATES and that she's inconveniencing all of us with her house guests, why should I care about her being upset I'm not making one of my all time best dishes to serve them?  They're not my house guests.  They're not my friends.  And after that shit last night, I don't trust them.

Winter makes me all kinds of moody.  I'm not a summer or winter person.  I like spring and fall - it's neither too hot nor too cold, and there's always something pretty to look at.  The only pretty thing in winter is the mountains and it's just too damned cold to go outside and enjoy looking up at them.  Inconsiderate roommates and nasty ass bitches at work piss me off.  Not having anyone I can trust to rant to aside from my husband (who's already heard all of this, by the way) wears me down.

My husband and I hit a very rough patch about 2 years ago.  During the intervening 2 years, I've lost almost all of my so-called "best friends".  There are a few people who've stuck with me but I hate whining to them all the time about life because I'm sure they've gotten sick of hearing about it.  Just like I'm sure all of you, my dear readers, are probably tired of listening to me whine on this post.  So I'll stop here with this.

Just be aware that I am VERY moody at this time of year and you may get another rant post or two.  You may also get to see the first draft of a new short story I'm working on (not ranty, not anti-holidays, and NOT fan fic...LOL) if I ever get it done.  Heading off now...hopefully they'll all shut up enough my sound canceling ear phones will do their job and I can focus on writing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thoughts and Such

I've been saving things up, so beware.  It's been one of those months and I'm rather sick of all the crap.  So some brief commentary on some of the stuff I've seen trending and some rants about life in general.

First of all, the TSA.  SHUT UP ABOUT IT, OKAY?  Look, we're the ones who wanted increased security in our lives.  That's how we ended up with the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.  9/11 scared us - as it should have.  But now we've created terror in our own homes because of it.

For those calling for a boycott of TSA, forcing them to do full body pat downs instead of walking through the scanners, all you're going to do is piss off your fellow travelers who don't give a rat's ass and just want to get to see their families.  We pushed the TSA for stronger security methods at our airports to prevent another terrorist attack like the ones that claimed so many lives on 9/11.  Congratulations!  We've got them!  Now deal with it.  Don't like it?  Drive, take the bus, or take the train.  There are other methods of transportation.

Here are a couple links about the TSA that I found with a random search.  They're probably not the ones you're thinking of.

Something positive, and an explanation for a video that's shocked so many people
The TSA blog where you can get many questions answered

Next...Bristol Palin.

For the love of green apples, lay off of her, okay?  She's a teenager.  She made mistakes.  Her mother is an idiot.  Don't let her mother's mistakes be her burden too.  She's got her own to worry about.  What her mother has pushed her into is disgusting because she's using her own children to push her political agendas.  If you don't like what's going on with Bristol, stop supporting Sarah Palin.  Simple, right?


Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm a major failure this year.  I had all sorts of plans but they've all fallen through since I seem to have lost the drive to finish either of my manuscripts.  I couldn't even hardly start the one dealing with the psionics.  Then I got another idea that I started and made it upwards of 33k.  And there I've stalled.  I've got too much going on over the next few days to try to make up the rest of that.  I haven't written more than 300 words in the last two days.  Part of it is I get depressed around this time of the year because the holidays remind me of what I've lost over the last two years.  I'm to the point where I just don't care anymore about anything.  I get up, go to work, come home, stare at the computer and attempt to write.  It doesn't work.

Fourth...writing in general.

I'm stalled, and probably won't be doing much for a while.  I can hope this funk will pass, but I don't know how long it'll take.  I'm entertaining myself by writing lame fan fic because, hey, it's writing SOMETHING, right?


What am I thankful for?  I'm thankful I have a job.  So many people don't.  I hear horror stories from people every day because of my job.  Some of them are probably overblown to get sympathy and help from me.  *shrug*  That's part of my job.

But to the older lady I spoke with who can't pay us, is trying to help an elderly friend move closer into town because his health is so poor that he needs to be where the other people are even though she's about to lose her own house...I wish her a happy Thanksgiving with someone giving her the help she so desperately needs.  To all of the elderly who call because they need help and then stay on my line because they're lonely and need someone to listen to them...I hope your families come to see you and that they spend hours talking with you and giving you lots of company.  I hope your grandchildren and great-grandchildren spoil you rotten.  To those who don't have families, I hope the warm comfort of friends and good companions will make your holidays bright and happy.

What else am I thankful for?  I'm thankful for my husband.  So many people are divorcing/breaking up and it just breaks my heart.  I'm glad I have my husband, who loves me in spite of everything we've been through and all of flaws in my character that he helps me deal with on a daily basis.

I'm thankful that my oldest sister was well enough to travel this year so she could come see her grandsons.  I'm hoping that before she leaves I'll get a chance to see her since I haven't seen her in years. I'm also hoping to get the chance to see and play with my great-nephews, since I dearly love children and enjoy playing with them.

I'm thankful that, in spite of my various aches and pains, I'm still a reasonably healthy woman.  It could be so much worse.  I've got a lot of things that scare me about my health, especially given my family history, but for now I'm still healthy and working slowly towards a more fit lifestyle.

I'm thankful for a roof over my head even if the company I'm keeping (outside of my husband and our friend Parker) is less than ideal.  I can deal with it because I've been homeless.  I don't want to be that way again.

In conclusion...

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.  Stop and take some time to offer assistance to those who are less fortunate if you can, even if it's just listening to an elderly person babble on about their lives or letting a young mother cry on your shoulder about how frustrating life is.  Remember, we all have our burdens and if we can help someone share their load they may be willing in the future to help share ours.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Please pardon my absence

I know it's been a while since I posted here.  I've been sick, finally got off my LOA and back to work, and mostly been offline because I've had stuff to do.  I'm not even really working on NaNoWriMo much right now because of everything going on.  I hope to remedy my rather deplorable word count soon.

I've been reading a lot and will have a few books to add to the book blog.  I'm not going to add Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, or Little Women because I mostly read those to remind myself of how awesome the stories are.  However, I must also add reading Little Women depressed me a little because of certain circumstances in my life but that's neither here nor there.

On the good news side of things, I've been able to reconnect to one of my oldest friends.  We sort of fell apart after I got married and have had minimal contact with each other.  We recently started emailing and chatting on AIM more and now we've discovered that we're two completely different women than we used to be.  We actually like each other again and are looking forward to when we get to see each other again, though it'll be a while for that.  She lives about 3 hours away from me now.

Things are going to be very tight financially since I found out most of the two weeks I spent on my LOA is unpaid, so if I can't pay the internet I might drop offline again for a couple weeks until I can get it paid.  Other than that, life is simply plodding on as it usually does.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The best thing in my life

The best thing in my life isn't exactly a thing.  He's a person.  In fact, he's my husband.

My husband and I have been together for 11 years and married (as of this coming Sunday...you know, Halloween?) for 8.  I love him more today than I did when we first got married - and I loved my husband a lot even then.  We've been through hell together and come out burned, battered, and broken.  But we're still together, which is something that I thought wouldn't be the case.

I met my husband when the two of us were attending Job Corps in WA.  He was in Culinary Arts and I was in Clerical.  To be perfectly honest, I thought he was an asshole when we first met.  He was condescending and more than a bit full of himself.  He was also 18 and I was 22.  He was too young for me, or so I thought.

I didn't want anything to do with him so I avoided him if possible.  I played D&D and he was there.  But Job Corps was a large enough group of people that I was able to avoid him for the most part.  Then he got put in charge of the Orientation end banquet.  He was in and out of my Orientation class, getting our allergies/preferences/etc.  He was actually really nice.  I found myself beginning to soften towards him.

One of the guys in my Orientation class tried to get me to agree to go out and I shot him down on the morning of the banquet.  When we got to the banquet, everything was awesome.  My husband and his friends served everyone cheerfully, and cracked jokes to make us smile.

I'm a rather anti-social person when it comes to face to face interactions.  I'm a lot better now, but eleven years ago I was still very much against being part of a crowd.  So my friend Rachel and I waited for everyone else to file out after the banquet.  The culinary students were all in there, cleaning up and making jokes.  Then me...the most anti-social person there...I walked up to my husband (who I really didn't like, remember) and gave him a hug.  We were both kind of shocked.  I mumbled some kind of thanks and scampered out after Rachel.

The banquet ended right around the beginning of the regular lunch hour, so we had a lot of time to kill.  Rachel wandered off to do something while I took a walk around the grounds.  When I came back around, I saw him standing in the gazebo smoking with the rest of the culinary students.  I walked up and gave him another hug, thanking him again.  We chatted for a minute, and then he asked me if I was seeing someone.  I was depressingly single at the time, and had been even before I went to Job Corps.  So I told him no.  Then he asked me if I'd like to go out some time.  I said, "Sure!"  I said it in such a bubbly, cheerful, high pitched voice that I cracked a few people up.  We agreed to meet after trade (the time you were in classes or doing the on the job style training we did) for dinner and to talk about our plans.

Eleven years later, I'm still with him.  We hit a rough patch where we broke up for about 4 months.  During that 4 months I finished figuring out my life and who I thought I wanted to be.  He did the same thing.  Then he came to Idaho to live with me in January of 2002.  If you've never ridden a bus through the mountains between Washington and Idaho in the middle of winter.....don't.  It's NOT an adventure I'd like to repeat again and he feels the same.  But he got here, we got things worked out, and we got married on October 31, 2002.

He is my love and my lover.  He is my other half, my cheerleader, and my best friend.  Without him I wouldn't be who I am today because he has helped shape me.  As I have helped shape him into the man he is.  And we continue to shape each other.  We are partners and companions for each other.  We are complete opposites, and a recent study shows that opposites don't really attract for stable relationships.  Well, we have our fights - all couples do - but we're a living contradiction to that study.  In our case, opposites really do attract and we love being so different from each other.  It makes for interesting days and fun conversations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food in Fiction - or why I love to feast my characters

Way back when I was a little girl, we'd go visit my grandparents up in WA.  One of my Granma's favorite things to fix was a good, old fashioned Southern dinner.  My grandmother was whiter than Wonder Bread but she was a real Southern granma (even though she only lived in GA for 10 years) and she learned how to fry, barbecue, and boil/steam everything.  Deep fried catfish, collared greens, corn bread, gator (don't know where she got it back in the '80's in WA state), fried chicken, green beans and bacon, etc. I LOVED dinner at granma's.  When granpa had a stroke, granma stopped cooking the southern way.  It broke my heart because that's my fondest memories.  When granpa died, granma stopped cooking much of anything other than basic stuff like grits or blacked eyed peas and ham hocks.

Why am I talking about my memories of my strange relocated Southern Yankee grandparents?  Because I wanted to discuss food in fiction.  Specifically, the use of food as an evocative tool to give you an idea of what the lifestyle and culture of the characters is like.

NY Times article
Amazon has a list of books!
Meals are a great way to describe relationships
An actual website that offers alternatives for fantasy writers
SFWA even includes diet in its world building questions

These are a handful of links that I found.  Granted, a lot of the links I found weren't as indicative of the subject as I'd like but let's be honest - my Google-fu isn't all that great. :)

I use food with Anneke and Raghnall to indicate the troubles the two of them have adapting to life because their mother is an elf.  Elves, in my world, don't eat meat or any other animal products (butter, cheese, eggs, etc.).  Now where Seda could have died by eating it, her children (who are only half elf) have to adapt to society where things like eggs are a staple.  Turning away food is tantamount to starvation in the wild and brutal land that Anneke is living in.  It's a major insult to not accept dinner invitations when you move in the social circles that Raghnall moves in.  I had to come up with a way for them to eat and not die, so I subject them to the food from an early age to the point where they become adjusted to eat it.

Food is completely different in the area where Anneke lives from where Raghnall lives.  Reidar's diet is completely different as well.  There are foods available to Reidar that aren't available to the other two.  The same thing can be said for what Anneke eats compared to what Raghnall eats.  But I also include how the food is cooked, how it's eaten, where it's prepared, who prepares it, etc.  All of these things can paint a picture of a culture that you wouldn't normally see but is still vital in showing who the characters are.

I'm having fun creating recipes and using things I find on programs such as "Bizarre Foods", reading medieval cookbooks (well, cookbooks that showcase medieval style cooking), and a lot of online research about what people of different cultures might be eating.  I'm hoping to one day have a recipe book full of recipes I'll be using/mentioning in my books.  I might not ever share it with anyone but my family but it'll still be fun to have.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Character Interviews #3

The room has changed since last we entered it.  Now, instead of the empty room with only the chair and table, we are now on the apparently abandoned bridge of a FTL battleship.  The bridge is set up as a series of concentric rings, with each level being devoted to a separate duty.  The smallest of the circles is the captain's chair and command station.  Here he can see everything that goes on as well as taking full command of the ship if necessary.  The multitude of different panels and holographic screens shows that the captain of this vessel is always in touch with what's going on.

The second level holds all of the communication equipment.  The third the navigation units.  The fourth holds the entrances and lifts to the levels. Right now the lights, which are recessed into wall panels, are dim.  A massive area of open space shimmers overhead.

The doors down below open and a single person walks in.  You can hear the hum of the lift as he comes straight to the top of the ring and the captain's chair.  The man in question is of middling height, perhaps 5'6" or 5'7", and probably weights no more than 175 or 180 lbs.  He's got sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes.  He's sporting a few scars, and is dressed in a dark grey ship suit with a white jacket thrown casually over one shoulder.  You can see by the brightly colored bars on the jacket's sleeve that this is the captain of the ship.

Gah!  I really need to talk to security about letting people onto the bridge of the Zenith II without my perm- Oh.  You're here for the interview.  That's right.  I really wish Anni would stop trying to skrag me.  If she wants me dead there are easier ways than a heart attack.

Frak, I hate engineering.  Hang on a sec.  *adjusts something on his screens, and what was blinking red is now green again* There.  I'm Captain Jaspen Telphys, commander of the Telphys Core militia.  The Zenith II is my new flagship.  The Zenith got fragged during a fight with the Tershanes.  Now, I'm happy to answer your questions but be warned if the klaxon goes off, you're getting off.  No civilians allowed in combat situations.  Especially not on the maiden flight of my ship.

I'm 42 years old, and I'm the third child, out of nine, of Renee and Hadrian Telphys.  My mother is the matriarch of the Telphys family.  We're a family of engineers, although I'm one of the black sheep of the family.  I know the basics but never went beyond that.  I frakking HATE engineering.  Love my family even if they don't care much for me, though.  The only one who thinks I'm worth much of anything is my little sister Eloise.  I know you met her.  Sweet girl, isn't she?

*leans back in his chair*  Let's see here.  I ran away from home when I was nineteen.  I couldn't stand dealing with the engineering shit anymore.  It was too confusing once you got me past the basic stuff.  I'd been flying since I was eleven and enrolled myself in the Pylon training course when I ran off.  I blazed through the training program, even going so far as to working up a special flight sim with a guy named Jon which was one of the most difficult runs I'd ever been on in my life.  With his help we made it almost impossible to get out unscathed.  The Telphys Run, as it came to be called, is more a test of ingenuity and restraint than it is flying skills - although without those you won't survive past the first obstacle.

Found out later that my buddy Jon was actually the only son of the Pylon matriarch.  By that time Jon and I were good friends and I'd taken my sister Eloise to meet him a few times, as well as to watch what matches we could get away to when he was playing.  Eloise managed to sweet talk my parents, and Jon browbeat his, and the two of them ultimately eloped anyway and got married.  This put my family back on top in the R&D world since it meant we had the lucrative contracts to fund our research.  Me?  I got a new ship out of the deal, which is where the Zenith II comes in.

I'm a playboy and make no excuses for my behavior.  I like women, I like sex, and I'm not into guys so that leaves me two options - crew or whores.  I pay for the services of women on the space station because my strongest rule is don't sleep with your crew.  I seldom drink, I love to gamble, and I have no problem killing people if the need arises.  I'm not as hard and cold as Jon is, and I prefer to avoid combat if I can get away with it.  Unfortunately the Tershanes -

*klaxon sounds*  Aw hell.  I'm sorry to cut this short, folks, but you're going to have to leave.  *flips a switch* All hands, battle stations.  We've got incoming!

As we're escorted off of the Zenith II we get the idea that everyone is scrambling.  Small individual fighters are launching and we can hear the sound of the massive turrets being opened on the battleship.  We're shown to a heavily shielded shuttle and sent back down to the Telphys homeworld.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I write what I write because that's who I am as a writer

Hannah Moskowitz has an amazing blog post on this topic.
So does Shayda Bakhshi.

I figured it wouldn't hurt to put my .02 in on this topic, since I'm actually aiming to get a double Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Creative Writing when I go back to school next fall, and then go on to get my MFA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Anthropology with an emphasis on linguistics.

I took my first creative writing class as a senior in high school.  I needed a filler and my mum suggested that one.  "You want to be a writer, don't you?" she'd asked me.  "You should take it to see if you can learn something you don't already know."

I took it.  And Mr. D was the biggest waste of space for a teacher you could get when it came to creative writing.  I had double trouble with him because he was also my English teacher.  The bell would ring ending English and I'd just sit there and wait for creative writing to begin.  After a few weeks I started dreading that bell because as an English teacher he was brilliant.  As a creative writing teacher, he sucked.

He was insistent on us writing essays, doing daily writing exercises, and keeping a writing journal.  All of those things I wouldn't have had issues with if he hadn't kept failing my writing exercises and marking me off on my journal.  Why?  Because I write speculative fiction, not literary fiction.  I write science fiction and fantasy.  I turned my writing exercises into exercises in description of Aleran or character development for one of my sci fi stories.  My writing journal was full of poetry and short stories tied into my worlds.  He told me that he wasn't interested in someone who wanted to write "trashy novels".

Now, at that time, "trashy novels" were the bodice ripper romances my grandma read.  The ones with the explicit sex scenes.  I told him, quite horrified, that I didn't write trashy novels.  He told me I wrote something other than literary fiction, so what I wrote was "trashy".  He relegated the whole of the science fiction and the fantasy genres with a wave of his hand as "trashy".  He told me I lacked talent and should instead consider looking at becoming a teacher since I didn't have it in me to be a writer.

I was crushed.  At the time I didn't have much in the way of a strong sense of who I was.  So I stopped writing.  I wrote poetry still, but nothing at all in Aleran or any of my other worlds.  That persisted for two years as I struggled to get myself through college.  I decided to pursue a teaching degree, since it at least would let me teach children about "good" literature and that's what I wanted...wasn't it?

It wasn't.  And when the opportunity came to take English 111 and 112 (honors English), I jumped at the chance.  It was a writing intensive program, and once it was done I could brave the spec fic creative writing class.  Even though I didn't think I was good enough I was rediscovering myself as a writer.

Once again, my love of fantasy and science fiction got me ostracized by my teacher.  She told me that the books I loved weren't real literature.  She said that mythology and the early works of fantastical fiction (faerie tales, mythology, the arabian tales, etc.) were just exercises in describing a world primitive minds couldn't understand or to teach virtues to children.  I was told that, once again, my dreams were as nothing compared to the realities of my teacher's world.

I stopped writing at that point.  Completely.  I did the assignments and had my portfolio all neatly lined up for the creative writing class.  But I didn't go forward with it.  I didn't see the need.  I wasn't a writer, just a talentless woman with delusions of grandeur.

My mum had different ideas.  My mum wrote most of her life, and she knew what I was going through.  She went through it herself at one point.  It took her a decade, and a lot of encouragement from my dad, to get her back into writing.  Mum wasn't going to let me suffer for that long.  She walked up to me about a year after I took that class and she quite literally smacked me upside the head.  "Sit down, pick up that pen, and write."

I did.  Bouts of writer's block aside, I haven't stopped since.  That was around 12 or 13 years ago.  I've finally gotten to a point in my writing where I'm getting ready to brave the world of publishing for my first novel that I feel is good enough to reflect me as a writer, and the world I've been laboring over for 20+ years.

I also intend on going back to school and getting my multiple degrees because it's something I love.  If I get a teacher who doesn't love it, I know how to get around that now.  I'll look at anything I learn from those classes as a way to apply a different view to my writing but I won't ever let another teacher dissuade me from writing what I love.

Character Interviews #2

Again, we find ourselves in the same dim room with the bright light on the chair.  In this case, however, there's no food waiting.  Instead a vase full of yellow flowers is sitting there.  The door slides open and a petite young woman enters the room.  As soon as you see her you're filled with a sense of warmth and any lingering unease fades away.  The woman smiles and takes a seat.

She stands no more than 5'3" tall and if she weighs more than 120 lbs you'd be surprised.  Her hair is the color of honey and is twisted up in a knot at the back of her head.  A few strands have escaped and curl about her heart shaped face.  Her eyes are a luminous chocolate brown.

Hello.  Ms. Woods told me to expect something completely different.  I'm rather glad she was wrong.  I really don't like hostile situations.  I suppose that's a strange position for a diplomat to take since without conflict I would be out of a job.  But between you and me, I'd prefer less conflict and more free time with my children.

My name is Eloise Telphys-Pylon.  You met my husband Jon in the first of these interviews.  I'm sure he was very abrupt and almost hostile.  Unfortunately because his parents insist on getting first hand information about the Tershanes, Jon tends to be that way since he's the best equipped to get that information.

Oh, I'm sorry.  I have a tendency to ramble on and get side tracked.  Jon says it's a characteristic of my inability to focus.  I just enjoy being around people and love to chat.  Let's get back to the basics, though.  I'm 29 standard galactic years old and have three children of my own.  I've also adopted something like eight or nine children and I seem to attract every stray child of an age to play with mine because I've usually got two to three times that many children running around the house and yard.

I'm an ambassador for the Telphys family, and these days I pull double duty as the ambassador for the Pylon-Telphys alliance.  It's not much of an alliance though, not with how strained things are between my parents and Jon's parents right now.  I keep the peace as best as I can and I make sure the children get time with both sets of grandparents.  Well, Mali and Aeryk do.  Seffie...the less said about Seffie the better.  Officially she's not even supposed to exist anymore.

My best friend is also my older brother Jaspen.  He's the one who introduced me to Jon.  I've always been a fan of laser ball and Jon plays very well.  He was the highest ranked offense in pairs and front row center in team for the Astral Planars.  He was amazing, and I was more than a little star struck when I saw him the first time.  And the second.  And the third.  *laughs*  Oh let's be honest.  It took me being married to him for a few years before I finally got over my good fortune at snaring him as my husband.  He's a very loving father, and the contracts he brought to the negotiation table have put my family back on top of the R&D business.

I don't get as much time with my kids as I'd like.  I'm forever off world trying to resolve one crisis after another.  I'm home more often than Jon is though.  Mali resents the fact that we're gone so much but Aeryk just smiles when he sees us.  He's definitely a daddy's boy, though.  Whenever Jon's around he follows him like his shadow.  He does the same to my father when Jon's not home, or so I've been told.

My parents are the matriarch and patriarch of the Telphys family.  We've been engineers for generations. Jaspen and I are the black sheep of the family, though I'm considered to be more useful by my parents than my brother is.  I don't see why, though.  My brother's a commander in the planetary militia and was Pylon Academy trained.  The Pylons have the best pilot and officer training classes of any of the military families.

I don't know what else you might be curious about.  I've got friends among the different races and among the different families.  I take care of my children when I'm home and trust my parents to take care of them when I'm away.  I love my husband and my children and I'm looking forward to the day when we can work out some kind of lasting truce so we can all get a breather.

She smiles, picks up one of the flowers and smells it, and then heads to the door.  She waves as she exits the room.  Feelings return to normal as she leaves, revealing the other part of Eloise's nature - and the reason she's such a good diplomat.  Eloise is an empath.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Character Interviews #1

The room is dimly lit, with a single, odd-looking chair illuminated by a bright light.  Next to the chair is a small metallic table with a glass of water and a plate of what could only be military ration bars.  As you wait, a door slides silently open and a man walks into the room.

He stands around 6'5" tall and has a hard, muscular build.  As he comes closer to the chair, you can see he's not an unpleasant looking fellow but not entirely what you'd call drop dead gorgeous.  His chestnut hair is cropped close to his head, and his goatee is trimmed close to his face.  His eyes are hazel.  His nose looks like it's been broken a time or two, and he carries himself with a military bearing.  As he seats himself in the chair - which accommodates itself to his tall frame and adjusts so he can sit comfortably - you see he's wearing a tight black bodysuit of some kind and a midnight blue jacket.  Strangely enough he's also wearing a pair of black gloves made of something you can't easily identify.

Ah.  Ms. Woods told me to expect an audience.  I wasn't aware she'd invited half the cosmos to witness this.  *sigh*  Let's get this over with, then.  I've got a great deal of work to do and not a lot of time to do it in.  My name is Jon Pylon.  I'm 42 standard years old, I'm married, and I have three children of my own - Sefira, Maliya, and Aeryk - and seven adopted children.  I'm the oldest - and only - son of High Admiral Hippolyta Pylon and her husband Admiral Malcolm Pylon.  We're also one of the oldest and most established of the First Families.

Hm?  A question?  Ah, yes.  I'd forgotten none of you are familiar with the world I come from.  The First Families are the descendants of the powerful leaders of the humane exodus from the Sol System.  It took a few generations to get to where we are now since FTL drives weren't common back then.  But the leaders found worlds that would suit well for the colony ships they ran and settled down.  Leadership became a generational matriarchy and that's where we get the First Families.  If you're interested in more history, I'd speak with Ms. Woods.  She's the resident historian.

I am a semi-retired pro laser ball player.  Again with the questions.  At this rate I'm never going to get done.  Laser ball is a game played usually by telekinetics, though the best teams are the ones with both telepaths and telekinetics on them.  The ball is about the size of my fist and is very hard.  The point of the game is to try to score a goal through a narrow opening in the opponents' other goal post.  It's a very dangerous game, often fatal if the other person's armor isn't kept up - or if there's a head shot - because the ball moves at blinding speeds.  It's played in zero g.  Again, if you want more details, ask Ms. Woods when next you see her.

The Pylons are, as they've always been, a military family.  I'm what you'd call the black sheep since I refused to join the navy.  I started as a laser ball player, which is where I got to know my best friend Jaspen.  He was a fan of the team I played on, and his family was one of the top R&D tech families so he got someone in his family to upgrade our armor for free.  I talked with him briefly and then after a match where we should've been slaughtered and weren't, I looked him up and spent some time with him.  He's also my wife Eloise's older brother, so you can just guess how I met her.

Jaspen is slated for one of these things, as is Eloise, so I won't go into too many details here.  My mother needed a tech family and had been looking for a daughter of a suitable Family for me to marry.  I eloped with Eloise.  Good thing I did, too.  The Telphys family turned out to be one of the greatest acquisitions our family ever had the good fortune of securing.

Now, a slight bit of history here.  The First Families started out as allies but after several generations of living in peace, someone got greedy and decided to try to conquer the rest of the regions.  This led to the ongoing conflict that rages even today between the First Families.  We're at war, a perpetual war with no end and no true recollection other than vague reports as to how it first started.  The Family the Pylons and Telphyses have the most trouble with are the Tershanes.  They're a militaristic R&D family who've got an inflated notion of their own superiority.

The war with the Tershanes heated up for a time and my parents asked me to turn my rather formidable skills to the benefit of the family.  In layman's terms, I became a spy.  I'm one of the best, and I provide a great deal of useful information to my family.  Which is what I was interrupted in doing when I was asked to come to speak to you.

*glances at an odd looking watch*  Let me wrap this up now.  I've been running deep runs into Tershane territory now for fifteen standard years.  My wife would prefer if I were home more often but is accepting of the fact that I'm rarely there.  My children aren't quite as forgiving, although Seffie is willing to forgive anyone of anything.  I'm a spy, an assassin, and a thief.  I'm hacker and, thanks to my father-in-law who gave me the impetus I needed, I'm an inventor and an engineer.  I'll probably continue this line of work until I either die or we find someone else as powerful as I am who can do the same thing I'm doing - or we find enough people to do it so I can have a break.

Jon stands up, gives a kind of salute, and strides out of the room.  He holds up his hand and one of the ration bars flies into it.  As he leaves, it becomes obvious that his mouth never moved at all during the conversation.  The words everyone heard were only in their minds, proving him to be as powerful a psionic as he claims.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My thoughts on NaNoWriMo...or "Why I Torture Myself Every Year"

NaNoWriMo is pure torture.  Think about it.  You set a word goal, you type like mad, and you hope to high heaven that you can finish.  It's the annual hell many writers put themselves through.  Why do we do it?

I can't answer for anyone else, but for me it's simple.  No, it's not because I'm a masochist (or a sadist either, though my husband's accused me of enjoying making HIM suffer in November with my NaNo nonsense).  It's because every now and then I need a kick in the pants when it comes to my writing.

Every year I've done it I've done variations on the same MS.  This year I'm branching out.  Instead of working on my fantasy stuff, I'm delving into the world of science fiction and my "Psionics" story.  I've been kicking this particular storyline around for a few years now but I've never put any time into writing it. I know the characters.  I've known them for almost five years now.  I know the setting.  I know how it begins, and where it ends.  But I don't know anything about the journey from beginning to end.

This is what NaNoWriMo is for me.  It's a chance to take a trip with the characters and see them for what they're worth.  It gives me a chance to see where they're going, who they're going with, and how they plan on getting there.  Who knows?  They may change the end on me.  It wouldn't be the first time my characters have run off with my plot and left me gasping for breath.

I'm also upping the ante on the word count goal this year.  I did the same thing last year, pushing for 75k instead of 50k.  This year I'm feeling confident I can make 100k in 30 days instead of 75k.  I've also got a private wager going on with my husband, who I've finally managed to convince to do NaNoWriMo this year.  We've got a bet going that I'll out-write him.  It's all about who's got the biggest word count at the end of November.  If I win, I get a kick ass massage.  If he wins, I've got to let him go on a shopping spree with $300 and no questions asked or protests made.  *shudder*  I need to win this.  (No really, I need to win this.  LOL)

Whether or not I win, whether or not I beat my husband, it's all a moot point if I don't have fun while doing it too.  So bring on the November Torture.  I'm ready, willing, and able to deal with it.*

*I just have to lay in my store of chocolate and Mountain Dew first.

Disclaimer: All commentary in this post is subject to change at the drop of a hat because I may change my mind about the word count, genre, and/or the wager with my husband at any moment.  Probably not, but you never know.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

30 Days of Writing - Day 20-25

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

I love when my characters are talking.  I enjoy writing dialogue.  I'm actually ok at it, though I'm far from perfect.  I spend a lot of time having characters spin tales to entertain each other, weaving the histories of their lives and homes into a drink by the fire or at the space pub.

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

Reidar has a daughter named Shalla.  Shalla goes from young child to adult during the course of the books, so I get to write a broad spectrum of ages for her.  It's not easy because it's been a good many years since I was a little girl.  But I rely on my friends who have children, and my own experiences with children in my family, to figure out how she acts.  I've got families in my stories but very few children.

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you've never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

I've written erotic scenes between some of the characters of all my stories.  This is where I learned that I really suck at writing sex scenes, so I gave up on that.  I might have one or two lurking about but I got rid of them as quickly as possible.

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

An entire story?  *falls over laughing*  If it's a short story, it generally takes me two or three days to get the whole thing written out.  A novel?  Well, let's just say I'm very good at procrastinating.  The last novel I finished writing took me two years to write.  I've finished novellas in November, but none of them have ever produced more than a germ of an idea for a later project.  I also don't plan much of anything I write.  I have a basic idea, I do my research, I get a vague idea of the beginning and end...and then I write.  I write until I get to that end and either keep going because the end has changed, or I move on to another project.

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?

I have no problem killing my characters, if their deaths are important to the story.  I actually end one of my series with the deaths of the male and female protagonists as a manner to end a centuries' long war.  Not in a Romeo and Juliet kind of way, though.  More along the lines of, "We're dying anyway.  Let's take as many of our enemies as possible so the war stops." kind of thing.  Most interesting way I've killed someone...he was eaten from the inside out by the acidic venom of a dragon fang.

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

I don't think any of my characters have pets.  Most of them don't have lifestyles that would lend themselves to any kind of animal companion, except maybe Sal.  But her raven is more a burden than a blessing, since it's also her familiar.

(I know I'm kind of out of it these days...sorry, everyone! I've been putting in crazy hours at work and dealing with some kind of massive cold/respiratory bug that my husband just had to share with me.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Intolerance...or why I HATE hatred

I know that seems a bit hypocritical, to say I hate something when this post is mostly about how bad hatred can be.  But the truth of it is that I simply can't stand intolerance.

According to dictionary.com, intolerance means "lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate orrespect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of differentraces or backgrounds, etc."  This is the textbook example of what my roommate's mother is.

One of my best friends is gay.  She came out to her family several months ago.  They haven't spoken to her since.  Her girlfriend is a young woman who is currently a tattoo apprentice and a practicing Wiccan, and makes her living as a freelance artist on the side.  Elsie* is a college student studying to become a botanist.  Elsie* is loud, obnoxious, opinionated, rude, and sometimes really over the top.  Mary* is very similar to Elsie, though she's a little less aggressive and manages to think before she runs off her mouth.  But both of them have suffered, to some degree, the intolerance of their families.

Mary* has an older brother who is bisexual.  He understands their pain because the one time he hinted at having a boyfriend, Mary's* family threw an absolute fit.  They swore up and down he was going to hell.  When he finally snapped, he told them that the Bible always taught to "hate the sin but love the sinner", and that "no man is without sin".  They threw him out for using their religion against them.

Mary*, Elsie*, and Rick* live together in a two bedroom townhouse.  They've had their cars broken into, windows smashed, hateful graffiti spray painted all over their stuff, and beloved pets mutilated and left for them to find.  All because they've found love with partners of their own gender.

I know Elsie's* younger sister Kelsey*.  Kelsey* is the perfect daughter.  She's obedient, straight, and follows the plans her parents made for her life.  When it comes to her sister's lifestyle choices, she is loud, rude, obnoxious, and unwilling to go outside her narrow views of the world.  I'm bisexual (though happy in my relationship with my husband...we've been together 11 years & married for 8 as of this coming Halloween), opinionated, and greatly dislike discrimination of any sort.  I spoke up once - only ONCE - against her intolerance.  Now she won't talk to me, or if she does she's very rude and condescending.  

I gave up trying to say anything to her.  When she's here at the house - because Kelsey* is a friend of one of my roommates as well - I just come into the bedroom and plug my ears in.  I don't support or tolerate intolerance of any kind and won't be in the same room with her anymore.  I disappear into the world of Aleran or one of my other WIPs - where intolerance is defeated by the sheer stubborn will power.

My friend Dystophil had this to say on the subject

And she's right.  It does get better.  You just have to learn to go your own way and understand you're always going to find people who disagree with you and your beliefs, your gender perception, your choice in partners, etc.  You aren't going to change very many minds.  So learn to walk away, find others who share what you enjoy, and find joy in those few minds you are able to open up to the possibilities.

I've written before about the friend I made, the cashier at Paul's who was a Muslim woman.  I got an email recently from her.  She unbent enough to tell me she was living in Oregon.  She wouldn't tell me what city, or give me any details of her life, other than to say that they were okay and that the girls love their new school.  She's still scared, after over a year, to tell me any details because she's terrified of the kind of violence she faced here.

It breaks my heart to see that she doesn't trust me.  She doesn't trust anyone.  She lives in a Muslim neighborhood in some city in Oregon, where violence and hate crimes go unpunished for the most part because the cops aren't able to catch anyone doing anything wrong.  Her girls go to school as part of a large group of children so no one can catch one of them alone to beat them up or kidnap them.

It frightens me to think she's being forced to live like that.  I know things have gotten better for her.  Her emails aren't as tense, so I think something's being done to help the people in the neighborhood she lives in.  She says that there are some very nice people like me - non-Muslims who don't feel they have to look down on her just because some fanatics who follow the same religion as her decided to become terrorists.

Again, that intolerance issue.  This is why I think people need to sit down, shut up, and open their damned minds.  Especially here in America.  We're one of the most intolerant countries in the world.  We're rated as one of the rudest, and we have one of the higher suicide rates due to emotional distress and bullying.  Look at all the reports about bully-induced suicides that have been going around lately.

An Irish girl who moved to the U.S. kills herself because of bullying
Tyler Clementi was a victim of a vicious practical joke & took his own life
He was only 13...what harm did he do anyone?
Why does being Welsh matter when you're part of the same island chain?
We need stronger laws...but we also need better parenting to prevent bullying from the start
A desperate crush shouldn't end in death

I could go on and on, but each of these stories is just making me sick to my stomach.  It's time we stepped back and took a look at ourselves, our world, and our children.  It's time to be heard.  It's time to Speak Loudly against the kind of pain intolerance causes others.