Friday, August 31, 2007
It RAINED. I can't tell you how psychologically uplifting that early evening shower was. It just about ranked right up there with getting a one hour Swedish massage at a five star spa.
Watched the finale of Jekyll. I'm so hooked on BBC America:) Boy, that show sucked me in and I'm still shaking my head at the clever twist at the end. Threw me for a loop.
I didn't write any fiction. Now, I said I wasn't going to, so I'm fine with this.
I met with my book store 'brains' and we revamped the policy/procedures manual.
I'm starting to figure out this damn cash register. Figured that was a better choice than tossing it out the kitchen window as I was inclined to do earlier this week.
Managed to get the kiddoes to all their 'stuff' and not resort to eating out. Yes, I cooked all week. I'm most likely going to become the crock pot queen this fall. Got any good slow cooker recipes?
Read a book and started another.
Up for today, make the changes to the book store stuff, make cheat sheets for the register.
Have a relaxing Labor Day weekend:)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Up next, Cinda Chima's YA book "The Wizard Heir"....so far seems to be a stand alone sequel to "The Warrior Heir."
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Cases in point are the two children's books "And Tango Makes Three" and "The Higher Power of Lucky." The Tango book has two male penguins raising a baby penguin, major no no. Yep, this children's book advocates homosexuality according to many. Yeah, right.
The Lucky book, of course, uses the word 'scrotum' in the story. Oh my, guess I must have missed the parenting class where we should only use metaphorical terms for anatomy.
Good grief, don't these people have anything better to do? I'd heard about both of these book brouhahas several months back. We actually did have someone challenge the Tango book at my local library. Don't think anyone dissed the Lucky book.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Okay, so I'm at the soccer field watching the oldest at her keeper clinic. I watch and then read and continue on back and forth for the 90 minutes. The current 'haul around' book is Cleo Coyle's "On What Grounds." The story revolves around a coffee house in the Village and our heroine gets caught up in solving a mystery. Cute story, love the coffee tips, heroine has spunk to spare. I have to admit, I've read the ending first...I like to know who did it and see how the writer gets us there. The villain/evil doer just now made an appearance and I probably have less than 75 pages to go.
Why does this bother me? Does it bother anyone else? I feel like the writer says, "oops, I forgot to have our brave heroine interact with the bad dude...better stick him in a scene or two."
On the bookstore front.....I took the cash register out of the box and started to figure it out. Good Lord, I think I need a remedial course in something. Reading that manual is like trying to read Chinese. I was about ready to toss the thing out the kitchen window. Needless to say, I plowed on and came to the conclusion that my meeting Thursday will involve making some decisions about just how 'in depth' we want to make our cash handling procedures. Do I really need 45 clerks? Do I really need 100 departments? The hubby, tech dude that he is, came up with some solutions for me. Now, whether or not I can sell this to the ladies is a whole other matter. Keep some fingers and toes crossed for me, would you??
Monday, August 27, 2007
I don't plan on writing or editing or revising any fiction over the next thirty days. This may be a real good thing for me. I need to do some work that involves positive, concrete, measurable results. Working on this book store project will give me that.
So, look for updates on the birth of this new book store endeavor. I may also post some short book reviews. Don't expect any info on my writing. I'm setting down the 'pen' for a spell.
Friday, August 24, 2007
So, what in the hell did I do this week besides the laundry? I do know I need to take stock in "Shout" because the soccer gear is incredibly dirty so far this season. My daughters seem to think rolling on the field is the best way to play their positions of goalie and forward. Soccer season starts next week and if the moaning and bitching my two did last night is any indicator, they are starting to gear up mentally for a rough season. Not good. Of course I told them to suck it up. I'm not a sympathetic parent when it comes to their athletic performances.
I read two books, Eclipse and Poltergeist.
I finished the third revision of MB and started the fourth.
I tinkered a bit with Lani.
I submitted a short story based on MB to two ezines.
Have been rejected by one ezine already.
Have tinkered with the short story again.
Looking for a few other ezines to sub to.
I read Kaycee's short story and provided my usual 'insightful' feedback. Ha.
I read all my blogs, like a good girl, and even managed to post replies on a few.
Went to two back to school nights at the middle school. Enjoyed the teachers...got to love it when they tell jokes and are actually funny. The Algebra I teacher is a hoot. The reading teacher reminded me of myself after I down a pot of coffee....she bounced, no lack of enthusiasm there.
Today I'm off to the library for a bit to see the about the bookstore shelf installation. The hubby and I have dinner plans tonight with the neighbors and tomorrow with the library director and her hubby.
Good weekend to you.....
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I was meandering through Target yesterday as I'm apt to do when the oldest is at her music lesson. Of course I wandered back to the book section. I always like to see which books Target has selected for their special stickers. A few random thoughts struck me as I read book cover after book cover ranging from Jodi Picoult to Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Why do we write what we write? I'm not sure if I've ever truly thought about it. I'm not or will I ever be a writer of literary fiction. It just isn't in me. I'm not sure if it is because I'm from the Midwest, grew up in a two parent household, had a happy childhood, married a good man, remained married to him, have three healthy kids or have managed to live a life of moderation. Maybe it's because I'm a product of Catholic schools....who knows!
Now, I read a ton growing up. I was given free rein to read whatever I wanted to. No censorship in my house. I toted John Jakes "The Bastard" off to St. Jude's and gave Sister Katherine Delores a reason to phone my mother. But usually, fantasy books were my stories of choice. Then I discovered Anne Rice. I launched into reading paranormal books. What do I write? I write urban fantasy. I can't ever see myself writing a story that doesn't have some sort of 'magical' twist to it.
Is that a product of my reading tastes? Or because of my very stable life, have I searched for a bit of edginess and that is where I've found it?
Last night after I went to bed, I tried to think of some 'literary' book themes and plots. I swear my brain started to cramp. To ease the discomfort, I switched gears and flipped on the old magical 'what if' switch and came up with a handful of paranormal ideas.
Are our imaginations just hardwired that way? Have you ever tried to step far, far away from your comfy writing zone and tried to write or even plot a story totally different from what you usually produce?
I need more coffee...and by God, the paper better be here by now. My brain is hurting again.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Women and older people read more than other groups. So, old women read a lot. Makes me think about marketing......write a book to touch all those little niches. What exactly would such a book look like?
The bottom line, people are reading less. In 1999 survey respondents said they read 10 books a year. In 1990, the average was 6. A bit of fluctuation there.
We often wonder about the current crop of young readers and whether or not they will continue to be readers beyond the Harry Potter phenomena. Makes me interested in seeing what the polls will show in 5, 10 and 15 years.
Hey, did you hear JK is working on a crime novel????
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Enough of my home life...well, in a way. I operate the household with a fairly tight schedule. Laundry and cleaning duties are set daily. I meal plan for the whole month. The kids have assigned chores to complete. To the casual observer, the operation has to look pretty smooth. My mother laughs, she knows I wasn't raised that way. I've fallen into this routine so I can carve out dedicated writing time. I feel guilty writing when I know I have house/family stuff to do. It is a juggling act most writers face, in one form or another.
My methodical nature seems to be sapping my creative side of late. Or, the whole revision process for Maddy Blue is doing it. New ideas seem to be rare as rain right now. My lawn is dying and the stories in my noggin are drying up. Maybe it is the heat and lack of precipitation. Why can't it just rain, damn it??
Monday, August 20, 2007
Okay, I did read Eclipse. That took up most of my Saturday. I bought the latest Kat Richardson book yesterday and started it. I didn't work on any of my writing. I never seem to on the weekends. With the hubby and the kids around, no way to sneak off and focus on the WIPs.
Today I'm headed to the doc with the youngest. Just the annual visit, hope to be in and out of there in a reasonable amount of time. I think we have our weekly schedule set now that the music teacher called with the oldest kid's lesson time. I'll be living in the old Odyssey again....I really need to invest in a laptop. Just think of all the writing I could do at the soccer fields!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Back when I first started ordering books for the library's YA collection, I ordered a few copies of "Twilight" more for myself than potential readers. I wasn't quite sure how many YA vampire fans I had in my patron group. Needless to say, finding any of her books on the library shelf is a rare moment. She is extremely popular.
"Eclipse" is the third book in the Bella-Edward saga. Meyer has a real talent for creating emotional moments and for capturing the heart pounding, mind numbing obsession of teenage love. "Eclipse" isn't as action filled as the first two books, but this isn't a slow read. The real focus of this story is Bella's examination of her relationships with Edward and Jacob. This is a more mature book. Love does involve choices and Meyer spins a story about the cost of love, the repercussions from making choices and the realization that even with good intentions, we can hurt those we love.
Now, that being said, I think Bella plays a far more passive role in this book than in the other two. She seems very comfortable at times, perhaps too comfortable, letting the boys make decisions for her. Quite a bit of emotional manipulation going on....and that bothered me.
Friday, August 17, 2007
So far this week I've: written and submitted two press releases, one article, updated the book store policy manual, worked on store signage and created an email list for sales targeting the local schools. I edited Maddy yesterday, stopping at page 241. The heat got to me and I had to seek relief about 1:00. The a/c just can't keep up in the attic. Crappy insulation! I've also read a book this week, got the kids to all their appointments on time and chatted with the youngest kid's teacher. On that front, all is well. Today I have to head out for some groceries and then plan on trying to plow through the rest of Maddy.
Ordering pizza for dinner.....I'm tired of cooking. Grilling dinner at 9:00 to avoid the afternoon sun/heat works, but requires more planning than I could do last night.
Good weekend to all.....
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I finished everything I needed to yesterday for the Friends. Yeah. Today is a clean slate and I have Maddy in my sights. No plans to leave the house until tonight when I get to go to the youngest kid's back to school meeting.
With a bit of effort I should be able to complete this current round of revisions....and finish removing the one character I'd targeted as a nonstarter. Then it will be time to assess the damages and see where I need to start working next. My best guess is the few plot threads that are dangling will need attention. I'd really hoped to have this piece polished before the bookstore opens, but I'm not sure if that timeline will still work. Right now I just don't have a good feel for what needs to be done. I should have a better idea after working a few hours in that WIP.
I also need to start thinking synopsis. Ugh. The hook/query is pretty well set.
Then for fun, as a special treat, I may even open Lani and see about her and that story. Or I could open the Maddy short story I worked on....many possibilities....
However, I need coffee, life is just a bit too blurry right now.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I didn't work on any of the fiction sitting patiently beside me. I heard old Maddy bitching up a storm as I struggled through the third press release for the Friends. She threatened to sic some demons on me......like I need added pressure. Then Lani chimed in with the legitimate complaint that I left her and Connor at the mercy of his amoral dark fairy father.....yeah, kid, I know, I need to decide what nasty things happen to you two next.
Today is the last day I'm working on the Friends stuff. I will get this crap emailed out to all my newspaper buddies today. I will not open a nonfiction file of any sort tomorrow. I will open Maddy Blue and finish the current round of revisions. I will decide if Lani takes an arrow for the team.
I will. I think I can. Hi ho.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I spent three hours yesterday working on book sale publicity and press releases for the Friends. Today I need to take a peek at the policy manual for the book store and polish up a few things in it. The library is still drowning in returned books in need of shelving. I may head that way Wednesday as I need to download some pictures from their camera for my press releases.
The kids had a good first day of school......except we've already had a 'come to Jesus' meeting with the youngest. The kid is super bright but would rather ponder the universe and quantum physics instead of finishing his 'early bird work.' He can't seem to get it through his head that he could knock out the worksheet in 5 minutes and then spend the next 20 doing quadratic equations. He'd be happy, I'd be happy and the teacher would be happy. Arghhhhh. He's giving me gray hair daily. The oldest kicked some goalie butt yesterday at the clinic....wowsa, how did I mother such a fierce daughter? The middle one is happy as a clam, the posse is still intact except for two girls and her afternoon conference call assured all parties that the ties are still in place.
The joys of August.
Monday, August 13, 2007
On the writing front......the Internet is abuzz with news of the huge, gigantic, enormous book deal for the latest vamp story/author. Of course my hubby said, "Get your ass upstairs and fire up that damn computer." My crit buddy said the same thing, but without the profanity.
I do need to hit old Maddy hard this week. It won't be today though...I have a list of things to do for the bookstore and the Friends. Those items come first and I should be able to put the mess in order and finish my list today. Maddy is on line for tomorrow.
It is now or never. I'm jumping in.
Friday, August 10, 2007
This week I didn't write one word in any of my WIPs. I didn't even open the files. Just didn't happen.
I did read the one book...and after I wrote my review I read several reviews on Amazon. Amazing how strongly I disagreed with them. Perhaps because I've read this book several years after it debuted, I've got a very different perspective on what worked and didn't work in the story. I think this book tagged along on the southern women wave caused by the Ya Ya book. Not nearly as good as that story.
I worked six hours at the library shelving books. Took both the older kids with me on different days then treated them to lunch out with Mom. Had a good time.
Today we are off to see the Pixar rat movie after we take the oldest to her music lesson. Tonight is date night for the hubby and I. Maybe we'll use the very generous gift card our neighbors gave us for watching their dog and house while they were out West.
I've also written down the major things I need to get done next week for the Friends and the book store. I'm going to be a busy girl.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I picked up "The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc" by Loraine Despres at Sam's club several months back. It languished on my nightstand along with two mysteries and a historical for several months. Finally, I worked my way to it, plopped myself down in our reading room and spent the afternoon with Sissy. I'm a sucker for quirky southern women. Guess I got sucked into that relationship due to my ongoing appreciation for Scarlett O'Hara and the infamous Vivi from the Ya-Ya book. Not to mention my high school English teacher adored Flannery O'Connor.
I was predisposed to like the book. I did like it in some places. In other places, I just found myself cringing. The basic story is a woman's high school sweetheart returns to town to find her stuck in a go nowhere marriage. The reason she ended up married is the well worn reason of getting pregnant...and that is the twist. Of course the baby isn't her hubby to be's...it is her future father in law's. For some reason, the conflict factor of her premarital affair made me cringe. It didn't ring true. Once we flashed back to that part of our heroine's life, the book lost steam for me. I also didn't care for the let's wrap it all up in a tidy package ending.
Not sure if the book tried to do too much or if it didn't do enough. Can't give this one a thumbs up...more of a sideways thumb.
The crafty tip for the day.....I'm struggling a bit here and going to borrow something I noticed when I read my kid's essays. Don't rely on spell check for everything because sure enough it will miss the 'there-their-they're' problems. For short pieces, read aloud. Another trick from my j-school days is to edit by reading the piece backwards.
I'm off again to the library to shelve books. They had stacks of returns on the floor, honest to pete, a yard high in some places. Took one kid yesterday to help then treated us to a lunch out. Today, child #2 gets to go and do some shelving time. Tomorrow, our last official day of summer, I'm hauling them all off to see the Rat. movie. With temps in the 100's, the best place to be is a dark, cool movie theater enjoying how only Pixar can make a rat cute and how peanut M&Ms always taste better at the show.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Every so often I sit and stew over why I write. I've always written and have hand scribbled ramblings from grade school to prove it. Yes, I have stories knocking about in my head and I enjoy putting them down on paper. That doesn't mean I'm good at it. It doesn't mean I'll ever be published. So, what does it mean?
My writing seems to serve a purpose in my life. It is like the cliched faithful friend. Most people have one. The person you can go years without seeing or chatting with and when you bump into them or call them, the years disappear and you pick up right where you left off. My writing has always been there, but I began writing in earnest after my third child was born. When I put him down for his naps, I'd fire up the computer and write for those few hours. It gave me a respite from my two older kids and gave them some time away from me. They'd watch some Disney movie and I'd venture back to medieval Scotland.
I wrote commercially and made some pocket money in the newsletter business a friend and I started. I sold an essay to a nationally published magazine. However, I've never queried my fiction. I'm not sure if it is fear or sheer lack of motivation that keeps me from trying. It isn't easy to get published and I'm not at all sure why I want to be.
Do I want to be 'famous'?
Do I want to make money?
Do I want to see my name on the spine of a book?
Do I want to entertain people?
Writers harp about the importance of GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) in a well crafted book. What about the GMC in the writer's life? If/when I start the query process, I need to understand my own GMC. I may be approaching that point.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Had a bit of an epiphany yesterday. The current round of edits on Maddy Blue are focused on removing one character. Yesterday I decided to remove another one as well. In both cases, the removal has increased the potential for conflict. So, that is a very good thing.
I've been procrastinating on working on the book store publicity, but I truly need to sit down and start writing. Perhaps today....but for sure next week.
Actually picked up a book and read it yesterday. I think my bedside stack is now down to three titles. If I get a chance, I'll have to post my thoughts on it. I really liked it in some places and wanted to hurl it across the room in others. More on that later.
Monday, August 6, 2007
I'm ready to have my house and my writing routine back, but I'm not ready for our free and easy days to end. I have some very fun things planned for myself once that first bell rings, but I do enjoy being unscheduled. Life during the school year is anything but spur of the moment. I guard our family calender like it is a crown jewel. I've joked that I really need an entire wall to keep track of all the appointments, practices, assignments and social events.
Instead, I've settled for a sort of Mommy shorthand when it comes to noting our activities on the standard sized calender hanging over the kitchen trash bin. I'm sure I'm not unique in this. Guess I'm fortunate I wasn't overtaken by the urge to name my kids with all the same first initial...unlike my great grandmother whose first four kids all had names starting with the letter "V." I should write the code down for the hubby...he might actually need to look at the calender one day or I might be stricken with laryngitis and be unable to explain what J&AF10/7 means.
But, I digress. So, I raise my coffee mug to you Summer of 2007. I may not have accomplished all of my fiction writing goals, but I did manage to have fun with my kids. I'm excited for them to start a new school year, but I'll miss them around the house. For me, that is a job well done.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Not sure what the weekend will bring, perhaps a trip to the movies. I'd like to see Bourne Ultimato, the renaming of the title is courtesy of my oldest.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Simple, right? Yesterday I sat down with my oldest two offspring and presented a thirty minute workshop on how to construct an essay. I threw in some information on what words to avoid and why. I described category nouns then used one of their favorite songs, the Carrie Underwood saga about unleashing some revenge on a cheating boyfriend, as an example. The song does a wonderful job of not using category nouns. When I pointed out all the specific nouns, I saw light bulbs go off over their heads. Nothing like the specific images of a Louisville slugger, leather seats and souped up 4wds to make a point.
Not sure if I've helped their future writing attempts, but after learning they'd never been taught how to construct a classic essay complete with a thesis statement and supporting paragraphs, I had to take matters into my own hands. The book they are writing about: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
Yes, I did manage to get back on track and wound up calling it quits at page 206 yesterday in Maddy Blue. Sixty pages and then some....also polished the short story. Today we have the oldest child's music lesson and soccer conditioning. We will also have a new addition to the family appearing today. Our neighbors, off to Utah on a family reunion, farmed their greyhound out to some church friends. Said church friends are now passing the dog to me as they are headed off to a reunion. Those LDS folk sure like their reunions.
Quite the potpourri of info today, I could write on and bore you with details of my 90 minute Friends meeting yesterday, but I'm still digesting the possible implications of our last minute discussions about funding staff development. Can't quite go there yet.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
As I write in what I call an attic and local builders call the bonus room, my creative activities came to a crashing halt yesterday about 2:00. Call me a wimp, but when the a/c can't keep up, it is time to step away from the computer and go downstairs for an ice cold diet coke.
I did manage to finish the first draft of my short story. Not sure if it is strong enough to stand alone from my novel about the same character, but it was fun to write and came quick.
I didn't spend any time editing the book, so today I'm behind schedule. I need to sort through 60 pages before noon today. I have a Friends of the Library meeting at 1:00 and told the Library director I'd pop in early for a chat. Going to be an interesting meeting as we are voting on some issues pertaining to the book store. Need to put my game face on...and get ready to bite my tongue.