Jul 29, 2010

Tomato Fruit Salad

Definition of writer insanity: Constantly getting up just before I fall asleep because a new idea about the WIP [work in progress] pops into my head. Getting up at 3:30 to write down ideas. I often also get ideas while chopping vegetables. Got another ping while slicing tomatoes for a salad last night. Yeah, I know, technically tomatoes are a fruit. But who puts them in fruit salad? Anybody?

I roughed out the final chapter about twenty minutes ago. An idea for a scene for the finale came to me as I was falling asleep last night. Third night in a row, I snuck into the closet to write in the wee hours. My Nini was displeased. She insists I follow her schedule of how things are done in this household. My cats are sticklers for their schedules. Regimented. Nini led me back to bed with purrs, wagging her fluffy tail. I let her think she succeeded. Only, I was done jotting down the snippet flooding my head.

Anyone else write in the closet? LOL Makes me think of that South Park episode ...

I'm about 100 words away from 80,000 right now. As I add in things to tie up loose ends and make a nice, neat package of the plot and all its threads, that will go up a few thousand.

Have a waning Moon to deal with during primetime this weekend. So, a lot of things will be washed out again. Of course, I'm away during the next new moon. Dang. Sort of. I'm excited about my trip and the conference. Will make sure my outfit works this weekend. And, I'll make a pack list. Otherwise, I'll forget something.

Enjoy your weekend, and if you care to, caption the picture or write a little story for it. I really enjoyed what you all did last time. :) Party at Shazam's Palace?

Jul 28, 2010

Haunting of the Loose Ends

So, yeah, I wake up at 2 a.m. the other day realizing I had a dangling end. I got up to jot down the note. The next morning, I looked up where the thread started and read it over. Then I had to decide what to do about it. Well, I read through the next few chapters and decided where to put a mention of it. Then I know I can tie it up completely in an upcoming chapter. So, that one is resolved. Sometimes dangling threads just get the axe these days. Depends.

Then from reading my one-sheet, I realized there was another. Damn! So, I jot a note to tie that one up when the time comes.

At least I quit second-guessing myself on the solar system killing scenario. I research it over and over and over, and still worry it may not be right. I decided to let it go for now. I need to move out of my way on that one.

I have one chapter to go. I predict sketching it out tomorrow. I wanted another day with the second last chapter to make sure there are no dangling ends in the larger plot. So far, I don't see any.

I am at chapter 23 in re-edits. I think that chapter needs to be broken up into two. It's quite long. That will put me at 52 chapters. Impressive number I know, but many of them are quite short - 5 pages is average. I will end about 335 pages - 80,000 words.

I have to tweak chapters 23-40 for slight changes and then read over my notes to make sure I tie up all the noted loose ends.

Still working on the synopsis. There are three paragraphs I'm not yet happy with. They do, but I'd like them better. They'll get there.

Only one line on the one-sheet needs to be figured out. I'm not sure it makes sense to the story. I like the idea of it, but think it's wrong. So, I have to figure out how to change it to make it fit. At this stage of the game, unless an editor or agent asks me to revise something, I'm not revising anything. The plot stands. Things have to fit the story now.

I think the story is good. I'm happy with where it went. I'm happy with how it's turning out. Nine days to go. I better be happy. I should be done by next Saturday. If not, there'll only be a few chapters left to re-edit. I'd probably read through the newly written chapters at the end before sending it anywhere, too.

I can say having a deadline has been a phenomenal motivator. I'm amazed at what I accomplished in a short span of time. Basically, with the Word Herd, the plot was overhauled mid June. Since then, I've redirected and rewritten a lot of the novel.

It still might not get me where I want to go. Even after all that work. But it won't daunt me. I've learned a lot in the process and will keep growing. If novel#1 isn't the goldend ticket, perhaps it's #2. If not, maybe #3. Or #4. If I don't keep going, I will never get what I want. So, I keep going.

I'm adjusting to the new keyboard. It needs a lot more breaking in.

Jul 27, 2010

Observations at the Observatory

A photo essay.

As I said yesterday, it was a great weekend up at the observatory despite the full Moon. What's wrong with the Moon? It's so bright, it washes out most of the sky making most objects invisible.

The usual telescope wrangler was on vacay, so I was up. I wasn't nervous, but my curse with technology plagued me. The menus on the software disappeared and I couldn't figure out how to get them back. As soon as the guests stepped on the stairs, Saturn went out of view. So, I had to move the telescope. Well, without the menus, it was impossible. So I had to go find Kent. After reading the manual for twenty minutes, we ended up having to park the telescope and reboot the system. It should have been easy to get the silly menus back, but it wasn't.

Then I swung to Jupiter too early and the computer shut most systems down. It took maybe a good thirty minutes to get everything set up properly Saturday evening. Oh well, now I know what to do if these things happen again. And, luckily, because of the full Moon, the crowd wasn't very big. Why? Most folks know the viewing is lousy on a bright night.

We did a tour of planets: Venus, Mars & Saturn. We saw M13, the ring nebula, the dumbbell nebula, M11, the Whirlpool Galaxy and M92. I was really tickled by M92 as I'd never seen it before. Ah, the advantages of a GoTo system. We viewed Neptune Friday night and Jupiter. I didn't stay as late Saturday night. I knew I had a lot of work waiting for me on Sunday.

It's a bunny party!

Ms. Deer let me get very close. She had two fawns. That was the video with yesterday's post.

The desert may look scruffy from far away, but close up it's very colorful.

The bright dot under the telescope is Venus. Click to enlarge the photo.

New to the blog - astronomizing slideshow. Oh, and only one more chapter to go! :D

Jul 26, 2010

77,000 and in Good Shape

Last week I held to my goal - 1,000+ words a day and one new chapter a day. I sit at almost 77,000 words and probably have 2-3 chapters to go. I hate the chapter I wrote yesterday. Haven't figured out why yet. So, that has slowed me down. I better figure it out quick.

Woke up at 2 a.m. with the realization something I mentioned waaay back in chapter 6, I never followed up on. So, I went back to read that part this morning then had to figure out what to do about it. Made a note to follow up on it in a later chapter where it will work in nicely. So phew.

Also researched my 'death' star scenario again. I really wish I'd quit second guessing myself. Since I am not an astrophysicist, however, I can't help it. I worry I have it wrong.

At any rate, I should be done with the writing by the end of the week and about halfway or better with re-edits of the edits. I'm at chapter 21 of that right now. So, I've been working on three chapters every day. One old one and two new ones. The new chapters still need more TLC, but it will get done. I feel confident about finishing and being ready in 12 days.

I somehow screwed up the date of the conference and thought it was August 8th, but Saturday is the 7th. Then I panicked that I registered the conference and the hotel on the wrong days. So, I went and double checked. Everything is right and set up for Saturday. Phew!

Spilled water on my desk on Thursday. Had to give up my workout to go purchase a new keyboard. It had been tucked under the desk in its tray, so I thought the water missed it. Nope. Started typing and water was squirting out everywhere. The new keyboard would not type, of course. So, I got to spend two hours of my precious time on the phone with microsoft. "You can type in your problem and resolve it online." "No, I can't. The keyboard won't work." "Oh." "Yeah, oh." I plugged the netbook in, but it refused to go online. Technology was just hating me end of last week. Translated over to problems with the 24's systems [I was running the big scope this weekend]. Gah!

However, lots of friends showed up at PMO this weekend and many nice people. Professors, mabye two new volunteers, one of the Word Herd, volunteers we'd not seen in awhile. So, it was a great weekend at the observatory. Made up for last week. Had a good time with old friends and new ones. They all got into taking photos through the telescope.

Jul 21, 2010

Word Herd

What every writer needs, fledgling or not, is support. Listening to folks tear apart the hard work is tough. But it's a tough business. It's something we've got to get used to. A critique group dishes it with love [one hopes, otherwise you need a new group] and with the intent of making the writer and prose better.

I met with my group again Monday night. We voted to name our team the 'Word Herd'. We invented the term, 'you're moving into ewok territory there'. We talked shop and then dished out the love.

I learn as much from helping my fellow writers as I do from their feedback on my stuff. I am better because of them. I got a comment on how polished my writing is. I have to thank everyone who has been in the critique group and my fellow guild members for that. I've really learned a lot over the past year I've been involved with my local writers group.

I had my one sheet and synopsis in the hopper this week. Very helpful. It will make my pitch stronger and better. Now I'm working up questions for the husband unit to play agent / editor. I need to get the words from my head and into my mouth. It takes practice. I've heard writers being asked about their platform and what they're currently working on. I have my elevator pitch ready and a summary. Any suggestions or thoughts on what else they might want to know?

I've been sticking to my goal of 1,000 words a day. Roughed out another new chapter today. I anticipate ending around 85,000 words. I'm at 72,000+ right now. So, 13,000 to go. Hit 600 tweeps today.

I keep feeling these pings of nerves, knowing what's ahead of me. And soon. It's impossible not to be nervous. I want this so bad, I can taste it. Karma owes me for Saturday big time. I'm requesting a cash-in on August 8th. Does it work that way? Ghost of Arthur C. Clarke I need you! WWACCD?

Jul 20, 2010

Signs of the Clarke Kind

Yesterday while visiting Charmaine's blog http://clancytales.blogspot.com/ I was introduced to a site that will analyze a manuscript and tell me who I write like. My curiosity piqued I visited http://iwl.me/s/4ed0f33f and plugged in the first chapter of my WIP. Yes, the one I will be trying to sell in three weeks.

I was tickled pink to see ARTHUR C. CLARKE pop up. Not only is he one of my idols, he still inspires what I write and how I think of how to put a story together. If I latch onto just a little of that, I consider my writing a success. So, yes, I was flattered senseless and thrilled that it came up I write most like him.

Ninety minutes later, after my workout, I got my lunch and sat down to watch a little TV. What was on? 2001: A Space Odyssey. Wow. That was the story that snagged my imagination as a kid. My dad took my older brother and I to see the movie as my brother was reading the book in school. It blew me away. Did I understand it? No. But, that's what I continue to love about that story - it made me think, it made me wonder, it made me ponder. I read the book shortly after watching the movie. I was still in elementary school. But I was awed.

Thirty minutes later, as I sat down to continue work, my closet light turned on by itself. Was it Arthur's ghost coming to pay a call? Probably not, but it's a nice little fancy and adds to the story. So, I'll take creative license and say it was. Either him, or my old cat Mr. Sox. However, Mr. Sox never turned on lights.

Arthur C. Clarke I miss you. RIP. Thanks for all the inspiration, wonder and awe that I strive to put into my work. Seems enough that I write most like you. After the Moon landings, you were the next point of total awe and wonderment. I may not have become a writer or an astronomer without that.

It's great fodder to boost my confidence and spirits as I ready for my face-to-face pitches and a shot at selling my work.

Want to know who you write most like? http://iwl.me/

PS. Thanks for the laughs yesterday. I'm in a much better mood today. So, thanks for the help. Greatly appreciated.

Jul 19, 2010

70,000 600 and Still Going

Yup. 70,000 words and counting. Yeah I reported 67,000 words last time. When I revamped the plot, that scaled me back to 65,000. So I had words to make up. I've now been through the entire pre-written portion of the novel and am writing all new chapters until the end. Simultaneously, I've begun editing the earlier chapters. So I'm up to 17 on re-edits of edits. Necessary because of plot changes and perfectionist tendancies. I have approximately 15,000 words to go. About three weeks until my pitches. I'll be very, very close to finished. So, phew! The end is in sight. The end is in sight! Can't wait to type those words: 'THE END'. It's a thrill.

As thrilling as discovering new objects in the telescope. Added M80 [a star cluster not a firecracker] to my list of discoveries this weekend. Plus, we viewed Mercury in the 24 early in the evening on Saturday. So, now I've seen all eight planets. I think I picked out which dot was Pluto Friday night. Saturday I packed it in and went home before midnight.

I had to deal with some major a-holes, which makes me want the season to end. It's only half over though. Why some people have to resort to being dicks is beyond me. I was actually provoked into yelling, "Shut up or go home." Because some spoiled twit could not get over being asked to turn the flash off on her camera. Nights like that I wish we had more help. I really could have used some backup. Especially of the large, burly male type. It's hard when I'm so outnumbered. And, it's unpleasant to be given such a hard time about following the basic rules of being a guest of the observatory. I know I shouldn't dwell on the one a-hole. Everyone else was very pleasant and I enjoyed showing them the sky and answering their questions. But, it only takes one a-hole to spoil the bushel and turn the night sour. Enough on that, even though I'm still riled to rage by it.

I had a goal to reach 500 twitter followers before going to my pitches in August. I'm getting close to 600 now, so woot!

My pic of the Moon taken Saturday night made astrophoto gallery of the day on Twitter yesterday:

Now onto some silly fun, so I get out of my foul funk. My temper really knows how to hang around. It hangs on like honey. Anyway, got a quote or a story to go with this? Make me laugh.

Jul 17, 2010

The Moon & Yeti Houses

The Moon through my telescope with a 25mm eyepiece and no filter:

The Moon with the 15mm eyepiece and a filter. A closeup, so to speak:

At the top of the summit are stone structures. I tell people they're Yeti houses:

A little birdie liked this one. Look out Yetis! There goes the neighborhood!

Oh no! Is that a Yeti?

My photo essay. Now back to editing and writing. Things are happening at Triton!

Jul 14, 2010

Terror in the High Desert [Part 6] - Looking Death in the Face

A wall of panic slammed Brett toward the tunnel entrance. She scrabbled over ancient lava, smooth and jagged. It sliced through her flesh leaving a trail of red dots.

"Oh crap!" Brett froze. It looked just like the warning at the entrance. Blood? The warning was blood spatter? She gulped back hysteria, acrid and burning. She scratched at her chest as she ran, fighting for breath.

The entrance glared ahead in white light. Like a halo of refuge. She ran, she crawled, she pulled and pushed  toward it. In the outside world's umbrage of warmth, Brett squinted, blinded. Her eyes watered and her lungs strained against the assaults of light and heat.

She fumbled with her cell phone swiping at the stream of tears. The salty rivulets mixed with the blood smearing her face. She stuck out her tongue at the lack of a signal. Her voice took on a sneering bite. "Can you hear me now? Worthless piece of crap!" She shook it, stumbling over the razor-sharp lava. Six thousand years had done little to tame its bite.

Like Liberty leading the masses, Brett held up her phone looking for the telltale beep. It yelped soft and wimpy. She threw her head back. "Thank you! Thank you!" Then dialed the sheriff.

"Deschutes County Sheriff's Office."

"H-h-hi. Is Bill in?"

"Bill Walters?"

"Yes, Cindy, that Bill. It's Brett."

"Oh, Brett! I didn't recognize your voice."

A buzzing grew behind Brett. It couldn't … She reeled. So fast, she almost lost her balance. It made her vision swim. Reality faltered. Red dots swarmed above the lava tube. "I need help, Cindy. Tell Bill-" Her own scream cut her off.


The signal went dead as Brett scrabbled up the embankment. The lava gnawed her hands and knees raw. She headed toward camp then veered toward the truck, praying Paul hadn't locked the battered old Ford.

The buzzing grew louder. Brett wasn't going to make it. She whipped about in a tight, little circle in the middle of the woods searching for safety. She ducked below a fallen, gnarled juniper. The sun scalded. The lava scraped. The old wood offered splinters.

Brett stared at the red dots moving toward her in a rapid hum. The noise tickled at her nerves and blood inciting her to scream again. It drove the swarm in a fury all the faster.

"Hell!" The first stalker came it. It bit at Brett's arm. A bee? Was that a bee? Red, molten hot bees? She slapped at it. The others swarmed in chomping away chunks of her flesh. Blood trickled cool. Then her cellphone rang. The bees backed away. The caller ID said 'Bill'.

"Bill? Plea-" The bees moved. Humming toward her. "Call me back! Bill! Call me back and don't stop calling!" She clicked the phone off. Call me. Please, call me! On her hands and knees she ran until she could get her feet under her. Then she sprinted holding the phone behind her.

Part 1- Spelunking on a Wednesday Afternoon
Part 2 - Stepping in It
Part 3 - Sirens at the Earth's Core
Part 4 - Liberace Haunt, Or is It?
Part 5 - Tunnel of Death

Jul 12, 2010

New Fans. Skies is Buzzing.

My reading went really well yesterday. Please. You all remind me come first week in August right before I leave for Portland. Remind me that folks got excited. Remind me that people wanted to buy the book right then and made me promise I would call them when I had a publication date. Remind me they wanted to know more.

As a writer, that's what I live ... write for. The whole purpose of a prologue is to intrigue folks into wanting to read the rest of the book. So, mission accomplished.

"I can't see how you won't end up selling that." Awww. I wish I had a recording of that to play 200 million times before I walk into my first pitch.

With Suzanne Burns and Quinton Hallett as the published, accomplished authors reading first, I was not so sure how I'd fare yesterday. But I did fine. I did not expect people throwing their cards at me with shining eyes. "What happens at Neptune?" Tell us. Tell us!

A taste of what's to come? The Universe knows I hope so. Many of you know how hard I've worked, especially on this first manuscript. The first takes more work than any other. So, I feel a payout on effort, time and work is in order sometime soon.

No matter what happens in August, I will keep at it. Why? Days like yesterday. Folks with shining eyes eager to hear the rest of the story. Taking my card with big grins.

I will miss Second Sunday in August as I will be in Portland. I am hoping on my way home with good news. I will be reading as part of the Guild's Member Showcase on Thursday, August 26th though. I haven't decided what I'm reading yet.

I do plan on writing new shorts for Second Sundays in October and November. Sepetember they are celebrating their 6th birthday for Second Sundays. I will celebrate, too. I'm glad I found them. I love their program. I love the opportunity to practice what I most feared about this career. I love getting fans solely from hearing my work. There's nothing more gratifying. I love having another group of people rooting for me.

I also need to get something together for Orycon in November. They have readings, etc ... I think I have to send them something by the end of this month. I better go check. Scary as the thought is (as it will be a much bigger audience of total strangers), I will stand up and read something. I am still far from perfect at reading. I get nervous. I bumble words. I fidget a bit. But, I feel more comfortable up there than I used to. And I get the job done. I get fans. I get people to listen. They hear me. They get me. They wish me well. It is better than I ever hoped for the first time I stood up and read my work. And every time I do it, I am grateful I did. I am grateful for all the good gifts sent my way because I dared. I am grateful for all the kind and wonderful people out there who really loved what I read. Every month I am reminded of why I do this. I get a little boost. It keeps me going with confidence, a smile and a good attitude.

If you dare, your dreams just might come true.

Jul 8, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

This Sunday I am reading at Second Sunday at the Bend Public Library. Brooks Room at 2:00 p.m. I will be reading the prologue from The Skies in Hand, the novel I've been working so hard to perfect these past months.

Almost have my one sheet done. I plan to work up a new synopsis by the end of the weekend.

I'm still editing. Have chapters to tweak and new ones to write. I estimate about ... Six chapter to write fresh. Maybe seven. At the top end, ten chapters. I find original writes go faster than edits in most cases. Go figure.

My husband asks me last night: Do you ever stop thinking about your book?
Honestly, no. Everything under the sun slips my mind as I poke at every detail ad nauseum and then continue to poke at it. So, pardon me while I live with my head inside my novel through the next couple of weeks as I push to complete it and get ready for my meetings. I am obsessive that way. I will think about little else as I feel the need to get ready and get my thoughts 'on'.

Change of topic. I met a friend's in-law's for a beer the other night as they're in town. Turns out the husband knew my grandfather quite well as they were both railroad men. What a small world. Odd coincidence as I was just thinking about my grandfather. Probably because I just returned from Buffalo and a huge photo I have of Niagara Falls hanging in my hallway came from his summer house [where my parents' house now stands]. So, I think of him and my grandmother everyday as I walk past that photo numerous times. I love that photo. It reminds me of Sundays spent in the summer at that little cottage; swimming in the river, running in the yard, Grandma's happy hour, dinners around a huge table with the whole family and many dishes prepared from what was harvested out in the garden. Cold beer and cool breezes. Too many pears to eat, which resulted in my grandmother and mother getting very inventive and us not always enjoying the results. LOL I would think of those days naturally in the summers, but that photo makes them more vivid.

Another change in topic: Summer has finally arrived in Central Oregon. High 80's today. Maybe 90 tomorrow. Will probably still need thermal socks up at the observatory, but I'll wait to put them on until I get there. It's new moon this weekend, so as long as the weather holds [they're predicting thunderstorms tomorrow] it should be fantastic viewing. With the warmer weather, we'll probably get more guests. Which may mean mayhem. Those crazy nights from last season are still way too fresh. We really could use more help on nights like that. There's usually just 3-4 of us. Not enough on nights like those. I'll hold the quiet nights dear. Those are the ones that recharge my batteries.

Jul 6, 2010

67,000 Words and Counting

Only a few weeks left. August 8th looms large. Gulp! Gets my nerves all tingly and jangling.

My head is down, my arms are holding out and I go at it about nine hours plus a day. It is amazing to me how much the plot has changed over the past few weeks and yet I don't feel daunted by it. I actually feel better about it.

Yesterday, as I hit 67,000 words, there were a few hours of panic as I realized I did not have enough room to accomplish my original plan. I didn't want to have to rush the plot. That never works. So, I had to come up with some sort of revision that made sense. Most of all, I have to feel good about it. At first, I balked at any sort of compromise. But then I realized, change meant I could make my life easier.

A few rambling e-mails to my video genius, some tense conversations with the husband unit, a heart pounding workout and then more discussions with my critique group last night, I feel confident about my decisions of changes to the plot. I'm actually jazzed about the shift in direction.

Although I still have a lot of work yawning before me, I feel some of the pressure lifted. If I keep at it, the changes should have me done or very close to it by August 8. Not only that, I feel I now have time to dedicate to getting the business end right and to prep for the interviews.

The plot has changed so much, I must completely rewrite the synopsis. I'm going to work on it this week, so my critique group can help me tweak it at the next meeting. Also need to work on the blurb [like what would be on the back of the book]. If I get those in order, I can get a more final version of the one sheet done. My chapter outline is moot, too. From chapter 41 on, delete. New chapters are coming in, though.

I am determined to finish. More importantly, I want a favorable outcome in August. So, I need to get my sales pitch up to snuff. Break? What's a day off? That's not in my volcabulary any time soon. Hasn't been for some time. I was telling my observatory buddies this weekend that my boss is a real slave driver. She makes me work all the time. If not on the manuscript, on research, reading the clients of the agents / editors I'm meeting with, the synopsis, the one sheet, getting my thoughts together, marketing, etc ... But I don't mind. I love what I do.

I might take a slight break after August. Probably not. I have two half written shorts waiting and novel#2 needs the spit and polish treatment I just gave novel#1. There's submissions and queries to get out. Fans to nurture. A sci-fi convention in November. Readings. Thus, more short stories to write. Novels #3 and #4 are waiting in the wings, waiting to come to life. Unless, I sell one of the first two and the buyer requests a sequel. Then 3 and 4 will have to wait longer. If not, I keep writing. I keep working and paying my dues.

Jul 2, 2010

It Not Be Warm Out There

Looks like another cold night up at the observatory. Working tonight and tomorrow night. Sky is currently variable. I'll have to unpack all my cords and travel crap from my bag and replace it with my astronomy stuff - star charts & flash lights, gloves, a scarf and hats.

I hope to get some peeks at the stars tonight. We'll see. Might get a crowd for the holiday weekend. Maybe. As I said, it's not very warm. We didn't even hit 70 today. I wore a coat to run my errands.

Happy weekend and enjoy the holiday if you're celebrating one!

Jul 1, 2010

Humidity, Holidays and a Lunar Eclipse

Central Oregon and Western New York had about the same temperatures yet WNY felt a lot hotter. When I came back on Tuesday, I got immediate goosebumps when I walked out of the airport. No humidity. It really does make a difference. I kept up with my exercise while away, getting in a walk almost every day. Averaging about 6 miles or more. Here are a few things I saw:

Looking across the Niagara at Fort Erie, Ontario

Am I going to Guantanamo for this? Homeland security tower behind my parents' house. Seriously. Not only is there a tower, but Homeland Security SUV's, boats and helicopters patrolling up and down their road.

Over the weekend, there was a lunar eclipse. My friends at the observatory e-mailed me this pic, taken by Eric Holcomb:

It's a big holiday weekend in the States. Enjoy. Don't blow yourself up or get carried away with the lighter fluid. I'll be spending Friday and Saturday night up at the observatory.

Why is it when you reconnect with some people it's as if you were never apart?

The family. A scan of a photo, thus the graininess.

Gals I went to high school with.