Friday, March 31, 2006

Performace Review

What am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing ok?

Without a boss to say 'good job' or 'wtf do you do all day?' I gave myself an evaluation to make sure I'm on track or can at least see the track.

I'm supposed to be writing a book. check.

Am I doing ok? I've learned a lot, and the current work is still living and showing promise. It's not done but I'm confident I can finish it.

What would I like to improve? Less anxiety, improved efficiency base don learning from the past months, and more income - preferebaly from a BIG HUGE advance, but more realistically from freelancing.

So how am I? ok.

As I've said before, I am apparently less of a freebird, rolling stone than I thought. I'm more Rain Man than Kerouac. I need a little more routine and stability.

I'm working on finding the perfect balance. Same old same old day in and day out doesn't work. No fixed address is better but not quite right.

Monday, March 27, 2006

E Meets the Family

Currently in Ashtabula. The book is with me but still in a bag. Linda, QNE and Grandma Dorothy are all at the Amelia house. Boba had to go to London and couldn't make the trip. E drove down to meet the family and take a bunch of my stuff back. He was a big hit, particularly with Emma. At dinner the first night, Emma announced that she liked e, and Linda reminded her that e. is Aunt Karen's boyfriend. Emma replied, "but I'm cute, and I have fancy pants - she's just wearing gray pants."
Emma kept sitting between us and pushing me away. She is some serious competition! I need to watch my back. E left this morning so I will be re-opening the book bag soon and setting up the laptop to get some work done.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


When you have a lot to do and have deadlines quickly approaching, it's important to prioritize to make sure the important things get done. I have to pack for a visit to Ashtabula and pack for a transfer of some of my stuff up to Parrot Island. I have to figure out how to keep my car legally registered and insured if I want to bring it to Canada and spend the majority of my time there. I also have this freaking book to finish revising - I'm going to a conference at the end of April and would like to be able to give a coherent answer to the question, "So, what's your book about?"

I woke up crabby and feeling overwhelmed. Linda and I stayed up until midnight last night digging through a giant box of clothes. Although my savings is dwindling and I have no steady source of income, I still do not want to hold on to all my possesions as though it were the depression... because it's.... depressing. I kept handing her things saying, "Here - take this." L: "Why don't you want it?"
"I don't want to pack or unpack it ever again."

Honestly, I've had it. My packing role model is Steve Martin from The Jerk. ALL I NEED IS THIS----
I'm going to stumble over the border dragging a chair, but I am not re-sorting and re-packing all those friggin' boxes.

So I'm still a little crabby, but I did get a haircut :)

Oh - remember the critique group I joined and then abandoned because someone was mean to me? Someone else wrote a nice review of one of my excerpts. Thank you, Robb from Texas :)

This thick skin of mine is really helping me handle criticism of my writing.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ms. Fix-it Strikes Again

In the last week, my computer stopped making a horrible fan noise and started taking increasingly frequent unauthorized 'breaks'. I tried AVG-checking for viruses - no, I tried Spybotting for adware - no. I tried 'jiggling' the power cord - no. I had to actually take the cover off the thing and look at its innards. Dusty - yuuuck.

e: use a q-tip to loosen the grime while using a vacuum to get it out.
me: ok, still powering down

e: are all the fans working?
me: all but the one on the power supply

e: do I need to put 2 and 2 together for you?
me: could you? I hate this project. I'm in the middle of Emily Giffen's 2nd book and this whole 'fix the computer' routine is getting old

e: I'd love to help you but you're there and I'm here, but it's good, this way you'll learn how.
me: yeah, great.

e gave me detailed instructions about disconnecting the power supply. I called him back 3 or 4 times to get further clarification, particularly on cutting tie-wraps and on how much I was supposed to pull to get the connectors to 'just snap right out'. Good thing he isn't a busy person and doesn't have many hobbies or projects of his own or I might have been bothering him.

I took the disconnected ps to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, and they helped me find a new one. So it cost $56 but I probably saved a little on labor and a lot of time. I am up and running the same day. : )

As long as e's patience holds out I could get used to this handywoman stuff.
I'm sure there's no correlation, but he is not answering my calls right now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hardy Boys Cliffhangers

aka chapter-ending hooks.

Are they essential?

Yes, they keep me turning pages, BUT if the hook turns out to be fake or easily/quickly resolved right away in the next chapter, then I'm annoyed.

I will keep turning the pages of a book without hooks if I like the book. I prefer that the chapters end cleanly so I can slip my bookmark in and know where to start up again.

Both of the judges from that contest told me I need chapter-ending hooks so I've been trying to end my chapters mid-scene, where the crisis is unresolved, but I don't like it. I think I am going to put it back the way it was.

Please tell me your opinion: Do you need hooks to keep reading the next chapter, or do you prefer clean chapter breaks?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Yoda!

I went to hear author Emily Giffin talk last night and she was amazing! She grew up in the Chicago suburbs, went to law school, hated being a lawyer, quit, moved to London to write, gave herself a year deadline and managed to produce a New York Times best-selling chick lit book. That book was just optioned for movie rights, she's published two others and is working on a fourth.

I love that story.

I also enjoyed the chocolate cupcake with pink frosting, chit-chatting with other writers, and going out afterward for an Espressotini.

mood: inspired, motivated

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kidding Myself

I keep telling myself that once I get rolling, get experienced, get published, I will learn to trust the process and get less freaked out when I'm stuck. According to Tess Gerritsen that's not necessarily true. Her post is freaking me out a little. I did wear the same outfit two days in a row last week because it was on top of the pile...

GAH. Well, I'll worry about that tomorrow. Right now I'm happy because I finally figured out a quirk for a character who needed one. She's going to constantly ask for my main character's opinion of two choices and then instantly tell mc she's not taking her advice. I HATE that.

Can't you advice never-takers quietly go back to your corners and re-consider your options and then quietly do whatever the hell it is you wanted to do instead of rejecting my advice in my face? Don't waste my time. When someone does that to me repeatedly I'll say "I dunno, whatever the first thing you said was" if I can get away with it (if the person isn't my boss).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Out of Sick Mode, Back in Stuck Mode

After spending much of the weekend recovering from a bout with some sort of intestnal virus - yuk, I'm faced with what exists of my book - a rough sort-of first draft printed out in a binder. I do not feel like celebrating. There is a lot to fix here. The middle sags, the end is still a question mark. I am nowhere near the dotting the i's and crossing the t's stage.

Confidence lagging...
Self-doubt creeping in....
Must move forward...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Winter Camping

For everyone who thinks "are you crazy?" when you hear 'winter camping' - go look at the photos in my flickr account. The scenery is beautiful, and you'll see we aren't huddled around a makeshift fire inspecting our frostbitten fingers trying to keep warm. It's not like that at all.
I love the photo of e. above. I snapped it during his only 10 minutes of downtime the whole weekend, but it makes him look like a real slacker - sunning himself with snacks. I should crop the shovel out because it hints at the fact that he just spent the last hour building an igloo.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Another Good Thing About Canada

The asshat (great word!) Bill Napoli isn't there.


Laura, you don't need to be in Namibia to make a difference - we need you here!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Getting there

I'm in the middle of tax hell - trying to figure out which forms and schedules I need to fill out to account for my 1/2 year of employment and 1/2 year of self-employment. While desperately searching for a tuition receipt, I ran across this old story I forgot about. Now I can see serious issues with this piece that would need revising, but I'm leaving it as is for the purposes of this blog. I'm happy I found it because I can already see improvements in my writing. Unfortunately my bookkeeping skills are still pretty bad. I haven't found that tuition receipt yet...

Chocolate-Coated Destiny

I was tired of work, tired of errands and tired of the same old scenery. I needed a quick lift, a little treat. I needed a road trip. I impulsively decided to get in the car and get out of town for the afternoon to wave at the farm animals and breathe in some fresh country air.

Smiths Falls was the destination of choice because it was within a 1-hour drive limit of Ottawa and the name sounded quaint. I thought I would wander around the main street and grab coffee in a diner until I saw the cover of the visitor’s guide–I was in the Chocolate Capital of Canada! Hershey Canada is in Smiths Falls and there were free tours of the manufacturing facility
running for the next 90 minutes. I felt like Charlie when he found the golden wrapper that sent him on a tour of Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot at 1 Hershey Drive and stepped out of the car, I was in heaven. The air was dripping with the inviting chocolate scent of a fresh cup of hot cocoa or brownies being pulled from the oven. I could spot fellow chocolate lovers by their dazed, dream-like expressions. I made my way into the building and started the tour, moving slowly, savouring each step. Bins of freshly roasted almonds sat next to vats of rich, gooey chocolate. Long, rectangular pools of melted chocolate appeared to serve no business purpose other than to encourage fantasies of diving in. I devoured every morsel of information: the complex
chocolate-making process, explanations of community fundraising done by Hershey Canada, and tidbits about each type of candy.

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups production line made me question my destiny in life. A huge quality assurance sign showed the difference between an acceptable cup versus an unacceptable cup. I couldn’t believe that anyone would need a sign for that. I could spot a good cup from a bad cup without any assistance. Years of eating peanut butter cups would finally prove worthwhile – I was now highly trained and qualified to be a quality assurance tester on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup assembly line. I knew that the filling had to be perfectly centred–no leaners. I also knew that each cup must be filled right to the top–no waste. I felt uplifted as I daydreamed about my new job and made my way to the last section of the tour.

I paused to clear my head so I could appreciate the last little bit of chocolate-making magic. I was not prepared for the horror at the end of the line. Workers were pulling used moulds for full size bars off an assembly machine, and there was still some chocolate left in the moulds. Broken
pieces were heartlessly brushed aside as the cruel men stacked the moulds on racks. My heart pounded and I felt anxious watching them. What was going to happen to that excess chocolate? Would they take it home? Could they melt it down and re-use it? Were they just going to throw it away? I was distraught. My euphoria from the earlier part of the tour quickly wore off, leaving me feeling sad and empty.

The tour was finished, and I was consumed with guilt about witnessing chocolate going to waste. I was determined to leave without stopping in the souvenir shop, but a display rightby the exit caught my eye. Gleaming racks were filled with big bags ofunlabeled, uneven chocolate pieces for sale–it must be the excess from the end of the line! I felt a wave of relief sweep over me as my faith in the chocolate industry was restored. My earlier swearing-off of chocolate was
forgotten and I looked around the souvenir shop, eager to make my selections.

I needed to please my inner chocolate lover without awakening my inner chocoholic demon. I shuddered at the thought of the maniac who goes crazy when there is chocolate around and can’t think straight until she finds herself in a daze surrounded by a sea of wrappers. I considered trying to appease my desire for Hershey gifts with non-edible mementos. The refrigerator magnets and key chains looked cute, but I was afraid they would serve as bitter reminders of the time I visited the Hershey factory and deprived myself.

I devised a strategy to limit my purchases to a manageable amount–I would only buy things that I had never heard of before, and I had to be able to carry my purchases in my hands. No basket allowed. As I walked up and down the aisles of temptation, I reminded myself that buying in bulk would not save me money–it would cost me money in diet and exercise programs. Even with my strict rules, I found several must-buys: Hershey Nuggets with Raisins and Almonds. It said right on the bag, “One of life’s little rewards.” I deserved rewards. I also deserved new Hershey’s Kisses Filled with Caramel and new Hershey S’mores. The Eat More Original Dark Toffee Peanut Chew wasn’t chocolate, but it was featured as a major Hershey Canada brand, so I considered it a cultural experience to try one. My ultimate find was a Limited Edition Inside Out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Some visionary decided to put the peanut butter outside and the chocolate inside. It looked like candy from the bizarro world. I had to buy it. The total was only $7.18 and the cashier treated me to a full-size OhHenry! I wrapped my arms around my purchases and walked out feeling elated.

As I drove away I looked wistfully at the factory, wondering if it was fate that sent me there. Of all the small towns within 1 hour of Ottawa, why this one? What could I take away from this experience? Immense treasures are everywhere if you just look? Slow down and enjoy life’s little rewards? I’d have to give it some serious thought, but first I had a more important decision to make: which candy bar to eat first.


off-subject note: I deleted the Z Method post because I'm afraid of Z retribution.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Trinity in Trouble

Poor Trinity. I just noticed her hand reaching from behind my desk. I hope that isn't a metaphor for me and my book project. At least she still had her gun when I fished her out. She is now ready for action. Ok, yes - I have a Trinity doll. I liked the character in the first Matrix movie. Then she got irritating.