31 August 2011

Plot Problems (Are There Any Other Kinds?)

Well, maybe it's not a problem, but it's certainly thrown me off track. I mean really, what is my subconscious thinking tossing that idea my way this afternoon? I'm 60,000 words into this new novel—from here to the end was even outlined—and this idea comes out of nowhere and smacks me upside the head. The ninja block turned out to be way to slow, and I got it full force.


I said, “What?” Well, this happened during lunch at work, so I didn't actually talk out loud. They all think I'm slowly meandering down the path to crazy anyway, so I try not to give them any additional excuses to commit me. So in my mind I had this little argument.

*Plot twist thought occurred*
“You heard me,” my subconscious said.
“I'm ignoring you.” I went on typing.
“It's not working.”
“Yes it is,” I insisted. “I'm totally ignoring you and your insane, twisted ideas.”
Dramatic, internal sigh. “You'll come around.”
“Still typing.” Tap, tap, tap. (How would one describe the sound of typing?)
“It'll be great for the story.”
“No,” I'm sure I frowned. “No, it's too dark for YA.”
“Uh . . . you were there when we read the Hunger Games, right?”
“You are not to speak of that series.”
Subconscious smells victory. “You wanted an active protagonist; this plot twist will help with that. Not like that main character in the series we do not speak of.”
“Shut up.”
“It's not like I can go anywhere else. Kind of stuck in here.”
I tried to ignore.
“Typing louder will not make this go away,” my subconscious said in a droll voice.
“It might.”
“It won't.”
I stopped typing. Glared at the screen. Hovered my fingers over the keyboard, lowered them. “Drat.”
“Told you so.”

Lucky for me, this doesn't change too much of the story before this. It was actually good timing for the plot twist. Now I just have to re-outline to the end and then fix everything else.

One thing at a time.

But first, I need to find my subconscious a shinny object to go after so it will stop pestering me.

29 August 2011

Being Good

That could refer to so many things. Being good, I mean. And I know the answer to my next question, but I'm going to rant about it anyway.

Why is it that when I decide I'm going to “be good” in regards to going off of my see food diet (see it, eat it) cookies appear, chocolate throws itself at my feet and people start talking about bacon wrapped whatever?

The answer—cruel irony.

The same force of the universe that tosses all of the family obligations on the same weekend, sends rain when I leave my car windows down and refuses to cough up a recycle bin when I've got an aluminum can that I want to throw away.

What I did, precisely, to irk this bit of the universe is beyond me. I mean, it's not like I've gone around trying to send the balance of the cosmos askew by forcing angry people to listen to uplifting audio files about self esteem, or poking babies with pencils to make them cry in church. I even did something nice today.

Wait, maybe that's what happened.

No, that doesn't make sense. The irony has been lingering around me for years. This one act of niceness couldn't be the cause of all the times I wore a white shirt and been served spaghetti for dinner. Could it?

But I've digressed. Cruel irony. Being good. Yes, I've vowed to eat more healthy at least a dozen times since the beginning of the year. It usually lasts until 10am when our HR lady comes to work, opens her office and releases the chocolate. She's naughty. I'm trying to be good. Why would she sabotage me like that!?! What kind of HR person makes people feel bad about themselves? Why?

I've wronged the healthy gods at some point in my existence. I'm thinking that this injustice can never be repaired, and that I will go on being sabotaged from now until the day I die—not as healthy as I'd like, but certainly happy with the last bit of chocolate I ate.

I think I hear a cookie container being crinkled open in the next room. I go, responding to the call of ripping plastic and the smell of crunchy preservatives. Hello cruel irony, I've missed you.

27 August 2011

Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille

Synopsis: (borrowed) Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille serves the best matzoh ball soup in the Galaxy, and hires some of the best musicians you'll ever hear. It's a great place to visit, but it tends to move around-just one step ahead of whatever mysterious conspiracy is reducing whole worlds to radioactive ash. And Cowboy Feng's may be humanity's last hope for survival.

A couple of good friends of mine recommended this book to me a few weeks ago. They laughed about it and said how great it was. One of them read me some of the opening lines, and I laughed too. So I expected reading the book to be a romp through the plot, with lots of bad puns and interesting humor.

Okay, so I got all of that, but even more, I got an unexpectedly deep plot and (wait for it) a book that made me think.

Yes, I typed think.

I don't normally go for thinking books. I prefer my fiction light and fun. Sure, some depth is expected, but if I'm having a bad day I plow through it to get back to the action. I'm sure there are several derogatory terms for my fiction habits, but hey, they're my habits, so back off!

Oh, that reminds me, the other day at work I almost changed the signature at the bottom of my e-mails to “Yes, I'm still cranky”. A co-worker decided she might change hers to “Back Off!” I suggested BOMB for Back Off Monkey Boy (movie reference, anyone get it?). She laughed. I had my clever moment for the week. We moved on.

And that's what this book is like. Random (but enjoyable) tangents and deep thoughts thrown in at every twist and turn. Not like my thoughts, but real ones.

My favorite line was “I laughed, I cried, I fell over, it changed my life.” Or something like that. Sorry, I returned the book to it's owner earlier today and a six second Google search did not pull it up. It's probably everyone's favorite line, but that's okay. It's good. I loved it. I haven't fallen over about it, but that could still be coming.

So anyway, I was expecting a lighthearted romp and got a very cool, rather deep, character rich read that left me feeling sad and glad all at the same time. I guess deep is okay. Maybe, someday, I'll write a deep novel and be remembered for my quirky and realistic look into our world.



23 August 2011

Home Again and What's New

I have no idea how it happens, but the ride home from Reno takes at least twice as long as the drive out. Space time continum, worm hole, alien abduction distracted by shinny object. Or something.

WorldCON turned out to be a very interesting, very educational experience. Right now I'm in the midst of my second Young Adult book. This one is dystopia (sort of) and therefore leans in the Science Fiction direction. However, the publishers at WorldCON were looking for the hard core, adult sci-fi. I did talk to a couple of editors that take YA, which I count as a huge plus. Thanks go to my writing group for tossing me out of my comfort zone like a baker tosses pizza. I've sent my query to one editor, and have three to go.

What's new? Yesterday I had the most bizarre thing happen to me. As I sat in my writing chair, one leg up over a wobbly arm and my laptop balanced on the other, I poised my fingers above the keyboard and dropped them in anticipation of writing a kick butt action scene.

Nothing happened.

Hello? Fingers? Go fingers!


Type! Type like the wind! Use those short sentences. Let the blood fly. Be free!

Still nothing.

I'm sure I scrunched up my brow and stared down the white screen before me. Glancing away, only to watch the keyboard out of the side of my eye had no discernible effect. Affect? Whatever, it didn't help. Neither did sitting there, checking my e-mail, getting snack or changing my laundry.

I wondered if I'd caught some rare anti-action disease in Reno. Action is my fun time in writing. Bring on the fight. And yet, last night, I finally sat down to type again, and found myself ready to write the emotional backlash that follows said action scene. Shock, death, betrayal, anger and (yes, believe it Melissa) crying.

What? What's wrong with me? (No, it's not “that time” so don't even start.)

Is this a turn in my writing? Will I ever be able to type an explosive, exciting, action packed fight scene again? Or will my writing from now on be restricted to brutal emotion and sappy angst?

If so, will someone please smack me? Oh wait, Sensei promised an “epic” work out tonight. He had that smile on his face that makes me wonder if I should just go to bed instead of class. Unfortunately, I promised I'd come back. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I can't lift my arms.

Oh, 48,500 words down!

21 August 2011

WordCON Day Whatever

Ooh! Today I saw lots of cool things.

First off, I sat in line with a friend for a Kaffenklatch something or other for about an hour this morning. After we turned around in our spot a few times, kicked up the carpet and sat down, a handful of budding, hopeful authors came and sat down behind us. (I am not a budding anything—too old. These were children. Children in twenty year old bodies with far too much intellect and a lack of personal hygiene.)

Their conversations were, to say the least, hysterically absurd. One of them, I am happy to report, has been living off the free food in the CON suite and all of the parties at night for the entire week. The smell he emitted led me to wonder if he'd been sleeping under someone's bed. Go geeks.

Once that, er, ordeal came to a close, I went to a weapons class. Normally the people demonstrating with weapons are amateurs that have done a little bit of play sword fighting at Renescance fairs. This guy, however, knew his stuff. He had some really cool weapons, including an 18lb, 6 ½ foot tall sword that made me want to jump up and take it from him. No matter that it's over a foot taller than me. Or that the guy outweighed me by at least 100lbs. Nope, I just wanted to play with the sword.

Seriously though, he really knew his stuff. I only know some hand to hand fighting, but he applied pretty much the same techniques I would when going against a tall/long opponent when he talked about defending against this giant sword. Very cool.

Let me think, what else? I actually pitched to an agent while I was standing in the hall. That was a fun. I managed to pull off a good pitch as well, which made me feel better.

I met a few other hopeful, Utah writers and we had dinner at the pub. Not very nice of us to bring twenty people to the pub and not buy one alcoholic beverage. That would probably explain the horrible service.

Tonight we went to the Hugo Awards Ceremony. I'm sorry to say, that without being extremely familiar with all of the nominees and their work the ceremony got boring very fast. Plus, to a few of the winners it didn't feel like they much cared. None of the Utah people that were nominated won, which made me sad. So I probably won't go to that again. Unless someone from the writing group I'm here with gets nominated. That's the pact.

Then, after the after party we felt like we needed some ice cream, so we walked through the Carl's Junior drive through and begged them for a shake. Our pitiful cries for chocolate broke down their resistant walls, and we soon had happiness in our hands, and straws to deliver it to our mouths.

Tomorrow, the drive home . . .

19 August 2011

WorldCON 2011, Friday Report

Lessons learned:

Convention center chairs are made for nymphs and are not, in fact, meant to be sat in.
Some writers should never read their work aloud.
Others should not be allowed to appear in public.
CON food induces horrible flatulence in a large number of older men.
Editors are people too.
There are individuals who really do believe that their idea is the best story an editor will ever hear . . . and they share this fact with a great deal of gusto.
CON parties are stinky, crowded and full of people who have no idea how to communicate to one another on a normal level. Or any level for that matter.
People do stupid things when they're drunk, but it's kind of fun to watch.
Free food is good food. Until the older men have too much of it.
Any panel that involves romance will deteriorate into an exposition about sex. Things go awry quickly at a Science Fiction convention. Think about it . . . or not.
Book stores are scary places when a CON is in town.
Telling your pitch to an editor is scary.
Plucky pirates should not exist.
Steampunk costumes are very cool.
Leather corsets—discuss.
Casino hotel bathrooms are really nice, and they smell good.
There are a lot of really great story ideas out there. I just hope mine is soon one of them!

18 August 2011

WorldCON 2011, Thursday Report

Attending any event that caters to hard core Sci-Fi fans is an interesting experience. A friend pointed out that in any other crowd, just one of them would stick out like a sore thumb. However, here, they are safe. They are secret. Wait, there are no secrets. Yes, everyone here is a geek in one way or another. I may not look the part as some other people do, but my inner geek is just as healthy as most. Not as crazy as some, but just as healthy.

This is the first convention that I've been to in which actual publishers have been represented. I've met a few agents before, and one editor, but never anyone from one of the big publishers. So that's been cool! I attended three publisher panels today, stalked an editor from a big publishing house and I talked to another editor, but he doesn't represent Young Adult. As a matter of fact, he told us specifically that the books his publishing company printed were not for children. Yeah, after going to his panel, I can see that. Cool stories, not exactly kid friendly.

So what did I learn today? Well, first off, I'd still really, really like to go the traditional way of publishing for my first book/series. Having someone commission a cover and do all the nasty work is a very appealing offer. No, I won't make as much money on the novel/novels as I could self publishing (maybe) but I'll be published. There is something to be said for that. A big something.

Second, I learned (through watching someone else) that an elevator pitch is important. An editor I spoke with (the non YA fellow) graciously allowed someone to pitch their novel to him. He said, “Give me a paragraph.” When the aspiring author went on for well more than a paragraph, the editor did not seem impressed and I don't think he asked for the manuscript. My friend kept his pitch to a short paragraph and the editor said to send the manuscript! So listen and obey. I can do that.

Third, I found out that casinos are, in fact, designed to get you lost. I took one wrong turn out of the bathroom after lunch and ended up a good three blocks away from the convention center. Without going outside. Now that's talent. I even tried to follow the signs, but failed. Epically.

What will tomorrow bring? Who knows. More stalking. Perhaps some readings. More casino adventures. One can never tell.

16 August 2011

Another Whew Moment

I made it. Yay! I just topped 40,000 words on my new YA Dystopian novel. I made the goal a few weeks ago to get that many words typed before WorldCON (which starts in the morning). I didn't think I could pull it off, but it happened. Again, Yay!

Here are some of the last words I typed:

Ten yards. More bullets. Five yards, she jumped over a log. Three yards. A figure rose up before her, gun trained on her head.

Exciting, no?

Ninja-wannabe took a blow tonight. Sensei and I were attempting to wrangle the little kid's class. We split them in half in order to do a kicking drill. I got the taller kids (which is strange, because I'm usually in the Fun Size group myself) and Sensei got the shorties. One of the shorter kids said, rather loudly, “Oh good, we get the real Sensei.”


I'm not real?

Why hasn't anyone told me this before?

I can take it. I won't cry . . . much.

So here is the topic: Imaginary Sensei's—discuss.

Wait, Imaginary Sensei going to WorldCON on a secret ninja mission to . . .

14 August 2011

Kids in a Candy Shop

Don't worry, no candy was harmed during this incident. Actually, no candy was even involved. Just the bar stools.

So I'm off to WorldCON in a few days. There are four of us road-tripping to Reno from Salt Lake, and since my car has the best balance of shoulder room and gas mileage, I got nominated to drive. I'm good with that. The control freak in me is only too happy to have the fates of three others in her hands. A good bwah-hah should be inserted here.

I do admit, that driving others makes me a little safety conscious, so I did a mental check on what I should have done to my car before we left. The list included: new windshield wipers, an oil change, a few filter changes, vacuuming, dusting and a tire rotation. Big list. And I meant to start on it last Monday, but I got a nasty summer cold, and this week went out the window.

Good thing I didn't have plans for Saturday night.

Don't think I'm pathetic. Wait, you probably already think that. The truth hurts, I guess. Anyway, Saturday night was the only evening this week that I didn't have at least two things going on. We got back from Orem at 4:45pm and I decided that all of this silly car stuff had to be done before 6:00pm.

As we got off the freeway, I drove by the Discount Tire by my house (where I purchased my tires) to get their hours. Even better though, their phone number stood in big, bright numbers on their windows. So I called. Asked in my cutest voice if I could bring my Vibe in for a tire change, got an affirmative and did it.

I felt bad, it being their last fifteen minutes or their day, but they guy said to come in, so I did. As I sat down I saw one other man in the waiting room. He sat at a bar, on a red bar stool, leaning on his elbows and watching out the windows into the garage area with a look of pure bliss on his face. He glanced over at me, grinned, and said, “Best seat in the house!”

Sure enough, it was. He looked like a kid in a candy shop. There may have even been a bit of drool, I didn't look too closely. But I did imagine all of the men who would sit there and watch their tires being changed, balanced, rotated or repaired. Kudos to whoever thought that idea up. It wasn't there when I bought my tires a year or so ago. Whoever it was had to have grown up in a neighborhood where a man gets a new lawnmower, and the rest of the guys on the street have to come check it out the first time it gets used.

Way to go Discount Tire guys. And thanks for the tire rotation!

P.S. Word count is 38,120(ish) words and counting. Almost there for my WorldCON goal!

11 August 2011

The Future

What will the publishing business do? This is the question that plagues writers everywhere. Millions of words have been typed on the subject, and those have been looked at by (who knows) thousands of people. Still, no one has the answer. I don't, that's for sure. So I move forward, submitting my novel and looking at the self publishing industry with guarded trepedation.

However, the more important question is this: as a reader, where in the world am I going to go to find a good book?

I spent the evening with a couple of my awesome writing geek friends, and we got to talking about this.

How did I find David Eddings? (The first big Fantasy series I ever got into.) How did I discover the book White Wing (that got me into Science Fiction)? And what about Ender's Game?

Sure, a good chunk of the books I've read have come from recommendations. Friends, family, teachers . . . you name it and I've read books they said they liked. But not all of the books I've read came to me that way. Some of them I found in the (wait for it) book store.

But wait. Book stores are going out of style, aren't they? Dead in the new age of e-books and Nooks?

I'll refrain from going into the love I have for a good book in my hands. Feeling the pages turn beneath my fingers, and seeing the point when more pages are behind me than in front of me makes me happy in a way I cant' describe.

The other thing I know I'll miss is pulling out a random title, something that may or may not sound good, and finding a diamond in the rough. Or just a rock. Either way.

Where does a reader go? As my friend said, readers are like butterflies in a garden, hovering about, looking at all the pretty things. I don't know. Well, I might know. Let me get back to you on that.

09 August 2011

Another Day, Another . . .

Dollar? I hope I made more than a dollar today. I mean, maybe it's already spent, and I only ended up with $1.01 left from my hard, tedious, forced to sit in long (and overly dull) meetings working day. But that's more than a dollar, right?

Hope? I did have high hopes that some drama would come to a head in a work meeting, just to spice things up a bit. But alas, it was not to be. Perhaps tomorrow. Or maybe someone will bring donuts to said meeting. That's being hopeful, right? Except for the fact that I'm trying to fit more comfortably into my pants. I can hope that I lost an ounce or two today. No donuts, after all.

Challenge? Yeah, so at the kids Kempo class tonight our numbers swelled to twenty three. About half of them new. Two of the little tykes (neither more than six years old) walked in with their grandpa, and I knew we were in trouble. I don't speak more than one word of Spanish, and their grandpa knew more English than they did. Sensei speaks some other language, while I remember about six words of rusty German. Poor kids—probably scared to death and wondering what this crazy blond woman was doing trying to teach them to block and punch. Scoop arm, punch, punch. Three words. It's amazing how important language is. Now I know how the monks in China felt.

Tissue Box Down? I've got a stupid summer cold, and my head is really beginning to clog up. If I bend down gravity doubles right between my eyes and the ground threatens to suck my head into a vortex of oblivion. So much fun. And do we have night cold medicine? No, of course not. Three boxes of DayQuil, but no night. Maybe off to the store in a few.

2,000 words on my latest project? Why yes, I did get that done today. As a matter of fact, the word count is now up to (drum roll please) just over 29,000. I'm hoping to get a bit of time tonight and jump that up to 30,000. Yay!

Five more Agents Queried for New Sight? Yes. I did this too. I'm up to thirteen queries and two rejections. Haven't heard back from anyone else yet, which may mean they're thinking about it, they haven't got to mine yet, or they don't write back if they're not interested.

Nap? No, no nap. But the plan is to go to bed a little early. Yeah, right

07 August 2011

Writing Like a Mad Woman

I've made this insane goal (shocking, I know) to have 40,000 words of my latest novel completed before WorldCON next week.

Ack! WorldCON is next week.

I wrote a version of this story for Nanowrimo a few years ago, and decided to pull it out and give it some love. It's Dystopian-ish YA with a little Sci-Fi thrown in for good measure. Mostly it's a character story, which isn't how my writing to date has gone. I'm excited about it. I love good characters, and I hope that this character will capture the hearts of those who read her story.

Naturally (yes, I toss around adverbs like they're bowling pins at a juggling convention) work has exploded around me since I made this goal two weeks ago. I've put in more hours than I care to think about at my day job, and the next week and a half does not look to trend toward any sort of improvement. In fact, I'd bet good money that it's about to get worse.

Yes, yes, I know, I'm usually an optimist, but reality has set in, and I'm sticking with it for now.

So this week, along with work, I ended up watching the dojo for two evenings. (Can I just whine for a second about the fact that I had 19 kids in the kids class and 12 [yes, 12] of them were new white belts. Talk about terrifying. Good thing they love the snake game.) Needless to say that leaving at 5:45am and getting back home at 10:15pm does nothing on the writing front.

Today was my day to make up for it. I'm happy to say that I write about 4,500 words today. That's a lot for me. And all of them were from scratch—no cutting and pasting. My fingers are all tied up, and for some reason I keep missing the “n” key. No idea why. Me”n”tal block or something.

I'll keep my word count posted. Just to see if I can make it. So far I'm at 24,000 words. That's 4,000 words behind where I wanted to be at this point, but they're good words, so I'm okay with the delay.


Stay tuned for more whining, writing and possible miracles. (Those would be me not doing my favorite Kung Fu moves on people who make my life hard this week.) Like the Wonder Twins . . . Writer and ninja unite!

03 August 2011

What Have I Learned About Blogging?

A blog I follow asked this of himself the other day. Well, the blog didn't asked it, the person writing it did. He went on about how everyone has a different blogging style, and that people shouldn't blog the same. That'd be boring. I agree.

So what have I learned about blogging? Well, first off blogging is pretty easy. Blogging after something either awesome, scary or horrible is fun. Blogging about Kempo and writing is cool. Venting about stupid people (who always remain unnamed) is strangely satisfying. So yeah, I like it.

I've got grand plans for a very funny, extremely cliché serialized story (I think that's what it's called) for my blog, but haven't got around to it yet. You know, one of those stories that people put up by chapter or whatever. It'll be cool.

But what have I learned? Uh, I dunno. That some weeks my life isn't nearly interesting enough to blog about. Or, on the other hand, little things can be written in such a way that they sound infinitely awesome. I've also learned to keep my eyes open for the little things in life that either make me laugh, cry or think. I've also learned that it's nice to have a place to stick my writing frustrations. Revising endlessly can be tedious, at best.

I guess that's it. Wow, I'm so boring! Or perhaps I choose not to share what I've learned because it's so earth shattering that your mind would be blown, and then I wouldn't have any readers. That wouldn't be good. Quite counterproductive, actually.

Oh, wait, I can say this! I've learned that I know nothing. Whew. Honesty is hard work.