Thursday, December 29, 2005
I am not 100% but the achy breaky feeling has gone and the brain fog has cleared, and I can sit up so it's a big improvement. Linda said my room smells like popcorn and humidity. I suppose there are worse smells, but this unique odor was caused by the microwavable heating pad I've been using for the past 2 days nonstop. Finally I can put it away and my room can go back to smelling like -- ? Printer paper and running shoes? Not sure.
Need action. Hmm - my character gets the flu and sits around watching Firefly and microwaving her heating pad. Now that's a gripping story! Where does the inspiration come from?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Monday, December 26, 2005
I had a wonderful Christmas with the Strattons. I finished one book so far: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. Now on to the next book... ahh - to me the perfect day - no schedule, and a pile of good books queued up next to me : )
Quinn and Nate are building Harry Potter lego sets and Emma is playing with Disney Princess mini dolls - they look like Polly Pocket, but they aren't Polly Pocket.
I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing day. Linda is actually en route to a mall right now. I can't stand the thought of it. I worked retail 2 years at Christmas and now I can't stand to be anywhere near the mall at Christmastime.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
I was in charge of getting Quinn & Nate onto the bus the other morning, which I did, and it isn't easy - it involves finding coats, backpacks, boots, gloves and hats and getting them to stop monkeying around long enough to get out the door. Quinn is pretty self-sufficient - give him a heads-up on the time and he goes into action.
Nate is another story... I was sure I'd end up driving him, but he managed to make it to the bus. When he got home he handed me the note pictured above. I was not instructed to do any snack double-checking. Linda put Quinn's lunch and Nate's snack on the table. Quinn managed to get his, but Nate forgot his and somehow it was MY fault. What are they teaching kids at this coddling school? If it were my school I would have had Nate write this note:
If I want a snack during the day I should put one in my own backpack in the morning. I should also be thankful that snacks are allowed. In my Aunt Karen's day, there was no snacking during the day.
My Aunt Karen had to make her own lunch and then walk to school every day. If she forgot her mittens she just had to be cold. I am very lucky to be me.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Mom and Dad just drove off with Merry. They are taking her to live with them and their kitten. The cat situation here wasn't working very well, so hopefully the new situation will work out better. Merry is a sweet, cute, fun cat, and I hope she will be very happy with her new family and kitten friend.
I am sad to let her go. I found her a couple of years ago when she was a kitten - someone abandoned her and another younger kitten in the lobby of the apartment where I was living. She was flea-ridden, hungry, and obviously had not been cared for. I cared for her as best I could and hopefully sending her on her way will make her happy.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Haven't been writing yet - probably not until tomorrow afternoon once Mom & Dad are en route to Ohio. Linda gave me a chick lit book for my birthday - I'm dying to carve out the time to read it. Hopefully I will be inspired and insanely jealous at the same time and it will motivate me to get moving again.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
That's me, ice climbing!
I agreed to this back in July. Sitting on the porch at the cottage it sounded great. Flash forward to a cold day in December.
E:Hey you know what we could do tomorrow?
me: (thinking movies, wine by a fireplace) "No, what?"
E: Go ice climbing! Remember, you said you wanted to try it.
Me: Where? (stalling..)
E: Right downtown. It's easy!
Me: "Uh, ok"
I don't think fast on my feet, plus there is no excuse that E couldn't out-manouvre. He has extra equipment, extra socks, extra gloves, extra everything. All I had to do was muster the courage. I was barely able to, but I did. I'm glad I did - it was a lot of fun - really! There's this place to go right downtown in Montreal next to the McGill campus where you can be roped in from the top so it's very safe and secure. If you want to see more pictures, you can visit my flicr account. http://www.flickr.com/photos/94283842@N00/sets/1585306/
Time to go pack - I leave Montreal today. I am sad to leave E, but happy to be seeing the Strattons and my parents for early Christmas this weekend.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Please note the absence of my name on that list. This is the contest I entered back in September. The point was to force a deadline on myself to get moving and to get some feedback. I should receive my feedback by the end of the month. So yes, it is a success either way. Still - did I harbor fantasies of winning and being heaped with praise and accolades? um, yes.... does that make me delusional or human? Anyway - I am still moving forward and still happy with what I have so far. I have to admit that a little bit of me is a little bit deflated, but not enough to stop or to go back to the "I can't do this" place. It's early. I'm still getting warmed up.
Monday, December 12, 2005
12/12/66 = my birthday
12/12/64 = E's birthday
12/12/05 = us celebrating our birthdays together :)
We actually started Friday with a trip to E's cottage. Wood fire, snow lightly falling outside, chilled sparkling wine. mmm perfect : ) : )
Saturday we went snowshoeing - to me the best part was walking along nice, flat wide open trails, but E quickly got bored with that and led us into a more wooded area. At one point I was having a little trouble finding my footing because the path was narrow and made of sharpened, jagged branches sticking out in all directions - not the kind of place you want to fall. I looked down to my left to see a 2 foot drop and running water and to my right, pooled water.
"What are we walking on?"
"How am I supposed to do that?"
Can you see where this story is going?
That's right - kersplash!
At least I fell to the right, into the shallow, pooled water. In retrospect I should have been more suspicious when E insisted that I borrow a pair of waterproof pants instead of just wearing my cool weather running pants.
I got up and managed to traverse the rest of the beaver dam fueled by venting my aggravation with a stream of expletives.
"What the hell were you thinking?"
"You know I just got those snowshoes - I wanted to just try them out."
"And you did. You can't test them on flat trails."
"I fell into a beaver dam!"
"Actually you fell off of a beaver dam."
"Grrr. I'm all wet"
"One hand is wet, and you've got waterproof pants on."
At this point I was just shaking my head. The worst part is I knew what I was getting into. Any time you go on any outdoor activity with him, you have to expect that he will push your physical and mental limits to the point where you want to kill him. Every time. I'm not sure if that reveals more about his twisted mental state or mine since I keep asking to go on these outings.
As a grand finale to the afternoon of showshoeing, I was given a choice of more slogging through the woods or going on the road. I chose road, but after 30 minutes of lugging my snowshoes uphill I started to doubt my choice.
"I thought you said we were close to the cottage."
"We were only abut 100 meters away"
'Why are we still walking?"
"That was through the woods. The road route is about 5 times longer."
"Why didn't you tell me that?"
"You didn't ask."
If I hadn't been so freaking tired, I could have killed him. Again.
Ahh, but it's never dull, always interesting.
Tonight we are supposed to have a quiet dinner for two. I don't know if it involves skydiving or heli-skiing. I'm hoping the only extreme part of the meal will be the calorie count of the chocolate, but since I didn't ask I can't be sure.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I like the way Elizabeth Peters handles Amelia Peabody. While she is more or less a stayer, Peters moves time along, forcing Peabody to change as her life circumstances change from single to married to mother to grandmother. While her basic values and attitude don't change, we see different aspects of her personality revealed at those different times of her life.
Back to it... I have a character that I'm struggling with. I think I need to embrace his darker side. I'm having a hard time with my not-so-good characters. I guess it's because I'm sooo good... I just can't relate :)
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I finally had a quiet day to get work done and I couldn't even get to the desk!! Someone piled tons of bags all over the floor. Spookily similar to what happens to my room in Plainfield, but now it's happening in Ile Perot. What a strange coincidence.
It's now all cleaned up and I am happily writing away. I'm close to the halfway point!! How did that happen? Of course that's halfway through draft 1. Still lots of editing and polishing to do after that, but still... still... excellent : )
Sunday, December 04, 2005
I think he did this on purpose so I wouldn't even consider suggesting putting up lights. The plan worked. That's the most horrifying tangle of lights I've ever seen.
Apart from lack of in-house holiday decorations, everything is going really well. I finished my 4 weeks of contract work Friday so this week I am back on book duty. I found a chick-lit lover who has graciously agreed to read some of my draft and give me some honest feedback. I am torn between hoping she can be brutally honest and fearing that she will say something like "uhhh - yeah.. it's uhhh... good..."
Going downtown tomorrow to hopefully see a few friends, have some overpriced coffee and just enjoy downtown. The only bad part is it involves waking up at 6. At least I don't have to be dressed for success. I'm back to wanna-be novelist attire. ahhhh
Monday, November 28, 2005
Here's where I'm staying. It's quite nice : )
Thanks to the friendly, outgoing nature of my gracious host, I've been on a whirlwind social schedule lately. He's energized by it and I'm completely drained.
"Sooooo how 'bout this weather? ....Yeah - snow.... Something, isn't it? ...Got your winter tires on yet?"
Good God. Why am I so bad at making chit chat? Last night I had to resort to mentioning tonight's Steelers game to gain points. Luckily I'd talked to Dad yesterday morning or I wouldn't have even had that nugget.
Please help me come up with my 30-second sound byte about what I'm doing. Every time I try it I end up sounding crazy. At one point last night all the seats around me were vacant and it was no accident.
"So, you live in the States?"
"Yes - Chicago."
"Oh,... have you eaten at...string of restaurant names..."
"Uhh - no. I'm partial to Panera Bread and 59 cent coffee at Speedway."
"How about Garrett's carmel corn?"
"It's famous in Chicago!! You haven't had it??"
At that point I realize that saying Chicago was a mistake but am in no mood to get into the Plainfield conversation.
conversation dies. am sitting alone. wish I had a book.
Even worse is the "So what are you doing/who are you staying with/why?" conversation. I don't have answers that make sense. I need Linda's answers since she has been answering the same questions.
My friends are the only ones who get it.
"So where are you staying?"
explanation follows ending with "... I know it's a crazy plan that doesn't make sense..."
"Sounds like a Karen plan"
I like my friends. I'd better hold on to them because judging by my current social skill level I won't be making any new ones for a while.
Chocolate consumed over the weekend:
frosting off the top of a piece of chocolate cake,
piece of black forest cake, strudel (same night)
piece of Oreo birthday cake
Wine consumed over the weekend:
1/2 bottle of??? some delicious red wine I can't remember right now
3 glasses of something white that starts with an L
1/2 bottle of Barolo - yum, plus one glass of champagne
book progress over the weekend: 0
big surprise there.
I'm counting all this socializing as character research.
It actually did snow here. It's quite pretty.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Picture me standing on one of those floating ice chunks. Now the ice chunk splits so one foot is on each side of the split. It's ok at first, but the chunks are starting to drift apart and I'll have to choose which side to shift to before I end up dropping into the icy water.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I am still on track. Did some writing yesterday afternoon and managed to carve out 1/2 hour at lunch today. I think those little snippets of time will keep me sane. I am not getting along with the printer in this testosterone den - it refuses to print any chick-lit related material. Buffy is going to take it down this weekend.
Ahh - the pink is working already. Just made plans to go see In Her Shoes on Sat as an escape from War Movie Marathon day here. excellent.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I can do this. Just re-read what I had, figure out which edits were and were not done, find the outline, keep moving. keep moving. keep moving. I want to finish. I need to finish. I can't stand the thought of not finishing. Oh my God, what if I lost my chance to do this....
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Now I am settling in. Luckily I am staying in accommodations with an excellent amenities package: my own office with computer, phone and Internet access, free use of the basement gym complete with heavy bag for kickboxing, an open invitation to the all-you-can-eat chocolate supply, use of the house vehicle - I drop him at the train station and drive in. It's all good. I have drawer space, there's an iron and an ironing board. No bathroom squabbles so far.
Oh yeah - the work part is fine, too.
The only slight incident involved me chucking my nylons down the laundry chute at the end of the day Monday to hear a "HEY!" from downstairs. OOOps - sorry about that. My bad. Why couldn't I have chucked something cool like a lacy bra? Nooo - I had to chuck some yukky, foot-odorous day-old nylons. Great. We've since worked out a system where I yell "Fire in the hole!" before chucking stuff down the chute.
In case anyone was wondering, unlimited chocolate supply use = 3, home gym use = 1. Some things never change.
Friday, November 04, 2005
"Hi, Can you come work for us in Montreal for a month?"
"Can you be here Monday?"
OK, see you then.
So I am doing laundry and packing. The book is coming with me, but I will have to give myself a one month extension. One month won't make a difference, and the extra money I'll be earning will buy me several months of living expenses.
It's all good.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
On the candy front, so far so good. Emma parked herself next to me with her candy while I was entering yesterday's text and she gave me extacly 2 M&Ms: one blue and one green. Apparently that's my allotment.
I'd like to thank whomever is in charge of this weather - more, please! Sunny, cool and crisp. I love fall days like this.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Here's the snag. I can't just crank out 6 crap pages. I need to be able to see that the timeline works, character names and relationships make sense, and that I'm sticking to my main plot and subplots. I can't just 'woo-hoo' let the story spiral off on tangents. I'm going to try to relax a bit with this and not revise too much as I go along, but so far I've felt it necessary to keep stopping and making course corrections.
On the freelance front, I'm getting better at figuring out which companies to call. Today 2 out of 6 actually use freelancers and said to send my stuff in. Much better than the 1 out of 15 from last week.
On the sugar front: I have not eaten any Halloween candy today. All the leftovers have been removed from the premises. The kids have their own loot, but I am not a thief.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
There are always piles of crap on my floor. I don't know how it happens. Apparently each time I enter my room I drop whatever I'm carrying or wearing until it's impossible to walk and then I finally look down and say, "What the hell happened in here?"
Gotta go clean this up.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I haven't actually given it to anyone yet, but I'm working on it. The background is white - it just looks odd in the photo. I know the script font is a little wacky, but the selection at Staples is limited to the first fonts ever created. One day maybe I can have a snazzy logo. For now, this is better than scribbling my info on post-its. I've had worse-looking cards in my career.
So far, today has been a good day. I got to speak to an actual person in an actual marketing department instead of being dumped into voice mail or HR. While he didn't need any freelancers right now, he liked the fact that I am nearby and have relevant industry experience and said to send him my information. It might go straight in the garbage, but it's the best response I've had so far, so I'm clinging to it. Plus, I'll be able to send a snazzy card :)
On the book front, I spent 4 hours at the library yesterday, making my way through the list of "to fix" items I made last week. I can actually see some progress. Now I just need to type it up and add it to the official page count.
I like my cards.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
My role in the meeting was to take notes. I did my best, but it was like being in a class where the lecturer never really said anything, just babbled in jargonspeak. So - zero book progress today. I spent the morning calling various places trying to drum up freelance business. It was good in the sense that I got some practice and worked on lowering my Minnie Mouse phone voice. Luckily, my mom has my PR under control and already sent my website address to everyone on her e-mail list. Watch - I'll get more business through her than through my own efforts. I won't complain!
So tomorrow- book book book and then more book. Then I'll freak out.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Yes, yes, I'll get back to it. Right now I need to deal with the cyclone in my room. Someone dumped a bunch of work samples all over the floor and they don't seem to magically be making their way into file folders in the handy "work samples" storage container.
I really appreciate the supportive e-mail you send, like the following from a faithful reader in Montreal:
Blog getting stale. Readers losing interest.
Plainfield, IL - CEO of karenworld to hold press conference later today to explain why viewers are being deprived of much needed content on the Karen and Linda Blog. With the last posting on the K&L blog over 5 days ago, critics are citing dissention within the Karenworld empire.
After sweeping reforms to who can publish on that blog, ex-partner L. Stratton said, “I can’t even get my two cents in. She just cut me off and is hogging the site for her own agenda.”
Viewers of the popular blog are now starting to believe the rumours that the blog is just another in a series of over hyped, disposable media outlets in the growing Karenworld empire. One reader cited the Karenword discussion group, K&L blog, and now the new Karen Smock Freelance site as examples of Karenworld executives creating a media dependency and then abandoning a site and moving on to a new format.
One information availability advocate said, “[Karenworld] is becoming like Microsoft. As soon as I get used to one thing and I like it, they tell me I need to upgrade to a new product I don’t understand.”
Thursday, October 20, 2005
RB: Woo-hoo, I'm moving into act II
LB: Whoa, whoa, how many total words do you have?
RB: words, schmords - don't stifle the muse, man
LB: the muse needs to have 90,000 words by Christmas or Santa is going to skip over your room
RB: no Santa?
LB: no Santa
RB: FINE. Stifle my creativity and do your stinkin' word count
LB: let's see - a bunch of files, no order to them, holes in various plot lines. If I print out this mess and add up the totals, you have 21, 030. Not bad, but we need to analyze Act I a bit further before we move on
RB: You said no editing until 2006
LB: I didn't say edit, you chocoholic flake. I said analyze and fill in holes until we reach 30,000, ok?
RB: I hate you
LB: back atcha
So, yeah - I've lost my grip on reality and am now an unmedicated schizophrenic. AND I have piles of printouts all over my floor. I hope little elves come in and organize this into the snappy new binder I bought at Staples.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
It doesn't seem to be live yet - it's still "propogating" What does that mean? I'm not sure - I just keep checking, waiting impatiently for it to show up.
I'm not thrilled with how it looks - I used default templates to save time. I hope that the look doesn't detract too much from what I'm trying to say. I still need to add some more pages to make a real online portfolio and I need to complete an "About Me" page. After that it will pretty much remain static until I can afford to have it done properly.
For the portfolio, I'll need to scan some selected pieces and maybe somehow make the text available - not sure yet how I'll do this. I need to choose the pieces first.
As for the book, I am apparently terrible at research. Those of you who were with me during my stalker phase might remember how badly that went. Well, unfortunately something bad must happen in this book and I had to dig around to find something bad but not horrifying. It's really not that fun to read old newspaper articles about real crimes. Depressing actually. I think I found one that will work for the purposes of the story. I need to quit playing with the colors on my new site and start writing the crime bits. yuk.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I've pretty much finished 1/3 of the book, so that's exciting. I'm moving on to Act II. Act I isn't perfect, but the basic plot points and scenes are there, so I am pushing forward.
I officially heard from the library - they don't want me. OK fine. On to plan B. Get the corporate freelancing up and running. Start spending 10-12 hours per week drumming up business or doing billable work. It helps boost my confidence to have people paying me to write.
I'm off to Staples this afternoon. Now that I have so much of the book done, it needs a big binder. :)
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Pressure to get the freelancing thing into full swing? Possibly. Insecurity about the book? Again? Doesn't really feel like that. I feel drained and tired. It was an emotional two weeks.
Linda helped me unpack and got me out of the house this afternoon, so that helped a lot. Hopefully after a good night's sleep I will be back to my usual book writing angst.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
As for NaNoWriMo it sounds like a fantastic idea - sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in one month - from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. If I were completely blocked I would definitely do it, but the thought of losing a month to my current project doesn't sit well with me. Also, in general, I just don't work that way - spewing out words with no plan. I am an outline person. If I were doing it just for the heck of it, then I guess I wouldn't care if I had an outline or not and it would just be a fun thing to do. If anyone signs up, let me know. I'm curious how rewarding it is.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Not good. Not even half of what I needed. In my defense I also did three character sheets, but STILL that does not make up for the lack of productivity. Visiting my old office was sort of work-like in the sense that it's a bit of networking, but still...
Bad. I'm bad. I was running around too much, visiting friends. This is not supposed to be a big vacation. I will redeem myself. I will be so prolific this week that I will make up for my shortcomings last week. That means I need 14481 words by the end of the week. This feels like final exams for a class I didn't keep up in. I'm cursing myself but at the same time, I know I can pull it off.
Gotta go. Bad Karen.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Then off to my old office to pick up a freelance check and say hello. That took 2 hours! Fun to see everyone, but I felt oddly disconnected as though it had been much longer since I left.
Next stop - dinner with the ex. It was his birthday and I gave him one of Tad Williams' books - it seems like the kind of thing A. would like. We had a nice chat. He's not traveling at all for work any more so he's in town, getting more involved with local activities. He lives in the same apartment building we lived in for the last 3? years, but a smaller apartment. Very odd to see half of the stuff that used to be in our apartment in his place. My new place looks completely different. Again I felt completely disconnected from the person who used to be his girlfriend.
Are these disconnects the best way to move on or some kind of coping mechaism? Not sure, but it feels good to have faced my previous life and have confidence in the direction I'm heading even if I'm still taking baby steps.
Tonight: dinner with Stephen. Looking forward to it. Today: enter some text I wrote by hand on Monday. Thought it was crap at the time. On re-reading it, I think it works even though there are unanswered questions. Moving forward...
BTW, the refrigerator and pantry here are FULL of chocolate. It's like freaking temptation central. I'm getting hooked on Nutella in the morning. I'll definitely be working out tonight before dinner.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I've always loved taking those cheesy magazine quizzes and changing the answers to alter the results. I'm looking at characterization the same way - if this person is untrustworthy but fun to be around, what would she do in each of these situations...
At the same time, stereotypes must be avoided. AND it's ok to act out of character every so often to keep things lively. Characterization is quite the mixture of rules and free reign.
BTW I am in Montreal working remotely with a big vase of gorgeous flowers on my desk. Happy... so happy... :)
Thursday, September 29, 2005
So yes, I am plowing forward, plot and characterization be damned. That's not true. Characters are taking shape and morphing further away from actual people. It's kind of cool, really. I'll be taking my act on the road soon - first for TrackRick's wedding and then a trip to Montreal. I'll have a spiffy desk/computer setup in Montreal so I'll be working and posting from there.
Gotta go get 'er done.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I finished We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirly Jackson. I loved it - great story about two crazy sisters living together :)
Now I"m flipping between a couple of chick lit books - Coffee and Kung Fu and Making it Up As I Go Along (this one is more women's fiction than chick lit)
Sunday, September 25, 2005
After sending in my contest entry, it's full speed ahead. I have 8,000 words done and I need 80,000 - 110,000. So all I need to do is repeat what I just did nine more times. My goal is to have a first draft done by Christmas, take a break and then revise it. In the mean time, I need to get some cash coming in. Plan: call library - am I still being considered? Possibly apply at Kohls - they're hiring stock people for Christmas. Work on corporate freelancing - this is probably my best option for maximizing earnings per hour. Need to get a real web site going, polish my "flyer" and do some mailings.
Today I am taking a break from all that. I am dressed to go for a run in the humidity soup outside. Then I will wrestle with my fright wig humidity hair to get ready to go downtown for a bridal shower tea at the Drake. I'm quite fancy and important.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Have I ever regretted trying something and not achieving it? No.
Have I ever regretted not trying something? Yes.
Lesson learned? Apparently not. All those A's in school and a basic life lesson still eludes me.
What do I regret not trying?
- not going out for the basketball team in junior high. I was tall for my age and we used to shoot baskets in the driveway all the time. I would have done fine and probably really liked it. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I was "not athletic" so that was the end of that.
- not getting a job at the Daily Illini during my University years. I started in Journalism and my academic advisor told me to go get a job at the university newspaper (the DI). For whatever reason I decided I was "too shy" and didn't do it, but would constantly compose "columns" in my head. What a moron.
- not going hang gliding when I had the opportunity. I actually did want to try it. I really don't know why I didn't - at the time I guess I didn't realize how important it was to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.
There are probably more but those are the three big ones that bother me the most.
As for my giant failure - do I regret geting married even though it ended in divorce? No. I would have always wondered what if... and always compared every relationship to some mythical one I would have built up in my head. I didn't end up where I thought I would be, but my life has been and continues to be full of incredible surprises.
So, what's my problem? Whenever I hit a rough patch with the book, my head floods with those evil "What the hell do you think you're trying to do?" demons. My inner Buffy is still working out the kinks in her roundhouse, but she is really trying to keep the demons under control. My inner Giles is trying to help by providing all the past "trying/not trying" evidence that the demons are wrong. Maybe I need to work on my inner Spike. Spike would stop agonizing so much and just bloody well get on with it.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Currently reading: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005
Ugly truth: It's all about marketing. NOOOOOOooooooo. I feel like I'm trapped in the freakin' mafia. Apparently it's ESSENTIAL to market yourself. First by providing a "hook" for your book to help your agent and editor "sell" your book to the all-powerful marketing people who have been known to kill many a project. Yes, yes, I know what you're saying, "but you know how to do it - what's the problem?" I know, and yes I can, it's just.... ugh.
Scary part: Master pitch session. Writers got to stand at a microphone and pitch their stories to a panel of 8 agents, editors and publishers and get instant feedback. It wasn't pretty. Comments were harsh,"You just generically described every mystery on the shelf." or "Why should I care about your opinion on this subject?" ouch. I didn't get the opportunity to pitch - it was done by lottery number and mine wasn't called.
New best friends? Yes, I made an effort to be "friendly Karen" instead of scowling Karen, and I managed to more or less befriend a couple of fellow writers I plan on keeping in touch with. One is a forensic chemist by day and one just relocated here from Maine. As for authors, I used the "Stephen method" of seat selection at dinner and it worked! The idea is to sit at the emptiest table and then see who ends up there. I ended up with women's fiction author Maria T Lennon and sci fi/ fantasy author Tad Williams. I didn't know who they were at the time, which is probably a good thing or I wouldn't have been able to talk at all. Tad Williams was incredibly nice and gave me tons of advice. Chatting with him was definitely a highlight of the weekend.
On Sunday Linda and I went back to the festival to hear Peter Straub talk and get him to sign some books. Linda even asked him a specific question about Ghost Story. If you ever get the chance to go hear him talk you should.
I am definitely motivated and inspired!
Oh, and for the record, I have been eating sugar. I had two pieces of cake on Linda's birthday, 1 1/2 scones at the tea yesterday and miscellaneous scoops of ice cream during the week. I didn't mean to mislead you into thinking I had actually kicked the sugar habit for good. no no no. :)
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I think she might have transmorgrified a ksl duplicate because ksl is incredibly busy. I have no idea where she found time to do all of that book planning. She has to get all 3 kids dressed and off to school each day - this involves helping complete homework, making breakfast, filling out countless forms, keeping track of who needs to wear which shoes for P.E. days and remembering who is/isn't buying lunch at school each day. In addition, fall is quickly approaching so she has been lugging up the storage bins of fall clothes and sorting them for herself, fits and all 3 kids.
I had to get myself out of bed and make my own coffee. Once I was fully awake and caffeinated, I ran with the plan, and - this is the jinx part - the plan is working!! She's a genius! I'm related to a genius! Neighbours think we're the same person so I'm often mistaken for a genius!
I hope I still feel the same way when I wake up tomorrow and re-read what I did today. Maybe I'll place a rush order from talismans.com first. Just to be safe.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I like having an outline. We had an outline for our stalker story but then got really stuck on the stalker and scrapped it. Then we were working on a two points of view story about two females on different tracks - gee, kind of like me and ksl... We were trying to show that neither track is perfect or easy and that both require tweaking and self-awareness to make them work. Grass is greener effect blah blah blah. This story was getting very complicated and intimidating. It is shelved for the moment.
The new story is much simpler. One main character. Short time frame. Simple plot. We're analyzing our favorite chick lit books and using them as an example of how to arc the story, how much detail to go into for minor characters, how much description is really necessary, etc. We toyed with the idea of trying to crank out something that follows a formula, like romance, but for now that idea is shelved.
We're also learning how to best work together. With 2 POV you can have 2 people writing, but ksl was really miserable. Now we're back to me doing 1st drafts and ksl fixing up the holes, revising to show/don't tell, etc.
Now I'm blatantly not following the advice in the books about not talking about the process. Too bad. I'm doing this for me as well, so I can go back and see the ups and downs, and hopefully see and learn from my mistakes along the way.
I'll keep you posted on our progress. Get it? Posted?
Monday, September 05, 2005
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Emma stomped into my room with Mr. Potato Head, grabbing at the back part where he stores his accessories. "Dis stuck. You help me?"
I unstuck the accessories compartment and she raced out of my room, looking at all the endless possibilites now available to her. She came back a few minutes later with him fully accessorized: cowboy hat, bug eyes, handlebar moustache, mismatching ears and big orange feet. "You win 'dis as a pwize!" she said and handed it to me.
He's been sitting next to my monitor all day, sticking his tongue out at me. I'm not sure how long she'll let me keep him here, but for now he's helping me keep the faith: as soon as I get unstuck it will all come together. Thank you, Emma.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
When we're not writing Chick Lit, we're reading it. Linda's favorites are by Lee Nichols: Hand Me Down and Tales of a Drama Queen. I'm enjoying Valerie Frankel's books. So far I've read The Girlfriend Curse and The Accidental Virgin. I just got The Not-So-Perfect Man from amazon.
I even went so far as to send VF an e-mail gushing about her genius, and she wrote back saying she could instantly tell that I was destined for greatness. Ok, that might be a slight embellishment... but we did exchange e-mail.
I think I will go do the latte/notebook thing this evening. I'm tired of this computer desk. Need some Jordi Labanda time.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
This has happened before. When we decided to ditch the stalker idea, I was on the ledge and she talked me down. It's just too bad we're never in synch. While one of us is happily writing away the other is miserable and distraught. Maybe we have a psychic sister connection where we have to timeshare creativity and confidence. As long as we don't both end up in the abyss at the same time we should be ok. Otherwise she'll be Thelma and I'll be Louise...
Does a ship have a ledge? Seee - I NEED her on board.
We discussed the possibility of starting a monkey farm together. It would probably be easier.
Monday, August 29, 2005
I copied these "7 things" headings from Gretchen's Blog, but the things are mine.
7 Things you plan to do before you die:
1. Publish a novel
2. Be a size 8 for more than one season
3. Spend a summer cycling in Italy
4. Go scuba diving
5. Read all the books on my shelves
6. Be able to relax and enjoy dinner parties that I host
7. Read the instructions for my digital camera
7 Things you can do:
1. Write marketing headlines
2. Swim, bike and run
3. Have fun doing something I'm terrible at
4. Order takeout food in French
5. Find something to laugh about
6. Exist without cable TV
7. Quit my job with no real plan
7 Things you can't do:
1. Have straight, humidity-proof hair
2. Give up coffee
3. Appreciate subtleties in the French language
4. Stop worrying
5. Be petite
6. Stay stuck in a rut
7. Keep my living space de-cluttered
7 Things that attract you to the opposite sex:
1. Voice - I know this is odd. I have a voice "thing"
2. Sense of humor + smile + laugh. These 3 go together.
3. Brains. Essential for #2 to appeal to me.
4. Body that gets worked out regularly
5. Interesting interests. Not a cable tv fanatic
6. Eyes. No specific shades, but nothing shifty.
7. Appreciates and accepts the good, bad, pretty and ugly in me
7 Things you say most:
1. The book is going ok
2. I really have to get my desk organized
3. Has anyone seen my shoes?
4. Where's your mom?
5. Are we out of milk again?
6. Ah, crap
7. See ya
7 Celebrity crushes:
1. Damian Lewis
2. Jean Reno
3. Karl Urban (Eomer)
4. Russel Crowe
5. Brad Pitt
6. Julian McMahon (primarily as Cole, then as Dr. Troy)
7. Antonio Banderas
7 Songs I'm currently digging
1. Gwen Stefani "Hollaback Girl"
2. PJ Harvey "To Bring You My Love"
3. Kid Rock "F**ck That"
4. Dave Matthews Band "Crash"
5. Alanis Morrisette "So-Called Chaos"
6. Nickelback "Feelin' Way Too Damn Good"
7. Zero 7 "Destiny"
Sunday, August 28, 2005
I gave myself that pep talk with big plans for today to be a day of intense focus and accomplishment. Unfortunately I woke up with my head full of evil YOU CAN'T DO IT demons. Oh no - not those guys. I keep vanquishing them and they keep coming back. I packed everything I needed in a backpack and ran off to Panera Bread, but the demons followed. Fortified with a half-sandwich and salad plus an iced green tea, I put pen to notebook and forced them out of my head. They were replaced by a band of EVERYTHING YOU WRITE IS CRAP demons, but I've been fighting those guys for years, so I just let them buzz around while I wrote until they got tired and went away.
Now it's time to transfer all those ideas from notebook to computer. First edit stage. How much truly is crap, and how much will make it into Word? Time to fill in all those awkward parts I left "for later." Later is now. A quick blog is my break, gets me typing, spelling (I looked up carrel by the way), getting my butt stuck in the chair, finding a comfortable position. OK I'm here. Time to get it done. I can do this.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
If I *feel* like I didn't get enough done in a day I have a vague uneasy feeling that prevents me from enjoying the evening. I've also been working on weekends. I read about this when I was researching freelancing, but I didn't really understand it until now. Still - if I have to choose, I choose flex hours. For me, there are many more pros than cons. It just takes a little getting used to. If I don't have anything major planned for the weekend, why not get some work done?
I've been revising my personal freelance flyer so I can try to drum up some local business. I did some web research looking at other people's taglines. Here are my favourites:
"We work good for small sums of money"
"Creative, talented writer needs work"
The second one applies to me, but I don't think I'll use it.
Sugar update: had some yogurt and some lemonade today, but the crazed non-stop ice cream cravings are gone, so I'm calling the detox a success. I am not worried about trace amounts in ketchup, pasta sauce etc. Ice cream and cookies were causing me much more trouble!
Monday, August 22, 2005
Finished reading my 2nd Valerie Frankel book, The Accidental Virgin. Liked it, but not as much as the Girlfriend Curse. Linda is reading Tales of a Drama Queen by Lee Nichols. She says it's laugh out loud funny. I'll try to pry it out of her hands tonight.
Thank you, AD/KJ for reading this blog and sending me e-mail. :)
Nice day today. My window is open. Wonderful to have actual fresh air instead of recirculated a/c. ahhhh. Blog break is over. Back to writing next scene.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Cover article in the Tribune today was about sugar addiction being like drug addiction. Not new information, but the image of lab rats next to a kid reaching for Oreos has made me decide to go cold turkey on sugar. I'm officially starting sugar detox, so I should be really crabby for the next couple of days. If I'm nice it means I'm cheating and fully toxed.
Freelance work continues to trickle in. This is a good thing. Pays much better than part-time work at Starbucks or Kohl's or even the freakin' library that never called me. Snubbed by the library? Not avid enough of a reader for them? I'm going to go with "overqualified" so I don't have to scrape my ego off the ground - it's taken enough hits this summer.
How is the book going? We're on our 3rd version of the outline. I am moving forward. I don't know what to tell you. I don't even pretend to know what I'm doing. I glance at the Help Wanted ads in the paper at corporate marketing jobs in the area and my stomach clenches into knots and I am miraculously inspired to get back in my chair and get back to the book. How are so many people cranking books out? Is all of their stuff unreadable shite? Are we setting our bar so high that we're paralyzed? Yes - let's go with that explanation. Actually we're trying to set the bar high enough that we won't be embarassed to have our names on this thing, but not so high that we want to vomit every time we re-read the shite we've written. Actually Linda's stuff is really honest and funny. Mine is insane babble and I've had to kill 90% of the characters I've created. My greatest fear: I am nothing but a marketing hack. Please, please let this not be true...
Must stop blogging and work on my sugar-free, novel-full existence. Wish me luck.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Linda had the actual book in her hands and wanted to leave it in my room, but then I wouldn't have been able to sleep. We finally found a safe place for the book (the garage) and we settled in to watch two episodes of Gilmore Girls to chase away the scary book atmosphere.