Saturday, October 31, 2009

Laughing, Touching, Squeezing

Journey fan that I am, this post over at John Scalzi's Whatever blog made me laugh.

Today, we paint

We've been doing a little of this and that at the new house since we closed on Monday. We've put some sample colors on the walls. We've changed some door knobs and cleaned the kitchens and bathrooms.

Today, though, the real work begins. Today, we paint. We have family coming over to help, but there is going to be a lot of ground to cover. We have two living areas and a formal dining room.

Those are all being painted one color. We have a breakfast nook that is going to be another color and then the kitchen is going to be a third color. We'll have eight hands doing the work so I am hoping that it will go pretty quickly, but this is the first time I've done this kind of thing so I have no idea what to expect.

I'll try to post some before and after pictures later.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

Doing my regular blog reading and everyone seems to have Halloween as one of their favorite holidays. It's never been one of mine. I enjoy it fine, and Gina and I have bought costumes the last two years as part of a trunk or treat event that her school is part of. That's a lot of fun. We were pirates this year and looked really good. King and Queen of Hearts last year.

And I did enjoy it as a kid. I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of kids and seeing everyone out in the dark in all manner of dress was fun. There was even one year my mom dressed as a witch and we did up the front yard as a cemetery. She would cackle and give the candy to kids out of a cauldron with dry ice. It was pretty cool and we could hear her laughing a couple of blocks away.

I say all that and still, if I had to make a list of my favorite holidays I'm not sure Halloween would make it. More of a Christmas and Thanksgiving guy myself.

In any case, I wanted to post something and since we are going to be doing some painting and other work at the new house tomorrow I am putting this up a day early. And I think I found the perfect thing for Halloween. Meat Hand.

It's a meatloaf. You can find more pictures and the recipe here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

I am sitting on the love seat, watching a bit of TV (the DVR'd debut of White Collar on USA, since you asked), playing with my latest idea and listening to a thunderstorm crackle outside. A cold front is pushing its way through Dallas and setting off quite a bit of thunder and lightning. I'm not facing a window but can hear the water splashing in the courtyard and a clap of thunder just made me flinch enough so the keyboard bounced in my lap.

This idea I am working on is one that I like. I like it a lot and think it could be a good story. So far it's fun to write. Granted, I am only a few hundred words in. My only concern at the moment is the voice that it's asking to be written in. It's somewhat formal and not at all the style that I am used to writing in. But it fits this story well.

The idea was just a little bitty thing when I had my last writers' group meeting. I mentioned that I might use this idea as my National Novel Writing Month project. I've thoght more about that, though. I don't think I am doing NaNoWriMo this year. I've tried it twice and failed both times. And both times I have lost interest in the projects I started. Granted, I did pick one back up but it was more than a year later. The other was a project I'd had in my head for years. I'd stopped and started it over and over and over again. I gave it a shot with NaNoWriMo, hoping, I guess, that I'd get some momentum and that would carry me to the end of it. That I'd finally get it written. I didn't. I made it a little over 6,000 words in and was days off the pace I needed to be on to make it to 50k by the end of the month. Opening the document just now was the first time I'd touched it since I gave up last year.

I don't think I respond well to the challenge. The requirement to average about 1,650 words a day is too much pressure. The words get all tangled on me and I get locked up.

So, I'm not doing it. I'm not taking the project I like with me to NaNoWriMo. I'm sitting this one out and thinking good thoughts to all of the other brave souls heading into November with confidence. You can do it. I know you can. If you are ever in one of those writing binges and you need me to get you something -- water, a sandwich, anything -- let me know. As long as you aren't too far away I'll do what I can to help. My only request is an acknowledgment when you publish that 50,000-word masterpiece.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More good advice

I've had a bit of a policy since I started this thing. It's not a written policy or anything, just a rule in my head. I don't like to post bits from or link to blogs that I'm not really familiar with. I'd hate for some to read something here and follow a link to a blog that then starts talking about something unexpected.

I am breaking that rule right now. I really liked this paragraph from a longer post in which the language gets a little salty.

No matter what kind of writing you do—short stories, books, children’s lit, screenplays, stand-up bits, whatever—don’t ever approach it as though you’re trying to please an audience. Don’t ever write what you think people want. Don’t ever write about something you think is popular. Because invariably, it will suck. And it will suck hard.

Write to please one person and one person only: yourself.

Which is to say, write the kind of book that you love to read. Write the kind of script that you want to see on the screen.

That came from here and the few other posts I read were good also. Check it out. But be warned, salty.

Welcome to the fall

We have a bit of a ritual in the morning. I wake up when Gina wakes up. She gets ready for work. I help where I can. Then when she leaves for work I walk her to the door. Today was the first day that it's been legitimately cold when I opened the door. Fall is here. Welcome, fall. We've missed you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Elmore Leonard's writing tips

Mr. Leonard contributed to the Writers on Writing feature in The New York Times. You can find his list f 10 tips here.

Read the entire list. There are lots of good things to remember and apply. Plus, it's short.

But if you can't take the time or are too lazy to read it, he sums it up here.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It's my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)

Amen, Brother Leonard. Nothing can take me out of a story more than the feeling that I am reading something someone has written. I know that makes no sense, but if you read the list of tips it will. Come on. It's short.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I've got an idea

Had my first idea for a story today in about a month. And, truthfully, it's not a fully formed idea, just the germ of something. But I'm grateful for even that.

Things have been busy around here and the ideas and motivation to write had dried up. I am hoping that once we get past the move and all of the other house stuff going on I'll be able to refocus on writing and editing and submitting, because I need to be doing all three.

UPDATE: The germ has developed. It's a full-on flu now. I have the swine flu of ideas. I'm excited by this one. I'll keep it under my hat for now, but it could be fun to write. But it's no longer just a little bitty idea but something that has legs. It just needs fleshing out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Here's my dilemma

I mentioned before -- long before actually, in July and August -- about a monster story. I finished it in August and put it in a drawer, knowing in the back of my mind that I'd have one major hole to fill.

I needed to answer two questions, but they are huge, sucking chest wounds in my story. They are questions I know the readers will ask and I have no idea how to answer them.

First, a quick overly brief synopsis of the story. And, if anyone has read something like this, let me know. I am sure this isn't the most original idea, but I am hoping my take is something that will be worth reading. OK, now a synopsis. Main character is the elite agent in an underground group that tracks monsters who have crossed over into our world. There is more to it than that, but that tells you enough to explain my dilemma.

And here that is. I need to know how and why the monsters come to our world. Really, I need to know more of the why they would come here. The how I can let my brain stew on for a while and come up with something. But why would they come here? That's something I still need to figure out.

Our growing writers' group

I wasn't able to make it to the meeting of my writers' group last night. I wish I could have gone, but some things came up (see previous post), and I couldn't make it.

Did get an email from the guy who organized it and he let me know that we had six there. That means that since I was gone there were four new folks. I was kind of liking our intimate little group, but am glad to see us growing.I'll take all the feedback I can get from others. I don't know anything about the new people, I just hope they all show up again next time.

Our long search has ended

I hate to be the excuse maker, but my busy life has interrupted my writing life. I detailed that -- to a degree -- in the post just below this one.

On the list of things that has been getting in the way of my productivity has been our months-long search for a house. Well, my cyber friends, that search has ended. We found out yesterday that our offer on a home was accepted. We couldn't be happier. We got a great deal on home in a Dallas suburb and are supposed to close at the end of the month.

We won't be living in Dallas-proper like we had wanted to, but our patience (and, to some degree, our naivete) has paid off. We got a much newer home than the ones at which we had spent the majority of our time looking. We are right across from a park and at the end of a block.

We are having the house inspected tomorrow and both my parents and Gina's parents are going to meet us there so they can see the place for themselves.

There is some work to be done. This was a foreclosure and someone has taken most of the appliances. The dishwasher, the built-in microwave, and the cook top to be specific. So we have to get those. And the carpeting isn't in pristine condition. But for what we paid, this was a great deal and we are very excited.

To top it off, we beat out five other offers. I know that means we were willing to pay the most money for this place, but it also means I have an excuse to raise my fist in triumph and I'll take any chance I can to do that.