Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Victory is mine, victory is mine! Great day in the morning, people. Victory is mine. I drink from the keg of glory.
Of course, the keg of glory looks an awful lot like a nalgene filled with room temperature water because I forgot about its existence about two hours ago. But that's hardly important right now. What is important is that I have persevered over self doubt and holiday weekends and doggy diarrhea in order to become an official winner of NaNoWriMo 2010. Look, I even have the graphic to prove it:
Now, someone go out and bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land (particularly muffins loaded with chocolate chips). Just leave them on the kitchen counter will you- because I'm going to first celebrate with a nap.
Monday, November 29, 2010
So we're in the homestretch of this whole 2010 NaNoWriMo experience. And boy, am I glad. Last year at this time, I was blogging about how happy I was. I was blogging about how much I've come to love my story. I was blogging about how I'd already managed to not only hit the 50,000 mark but also surpass the 50,000 word mark by a good 2,000 words.
Not so much this year though.
It would be easy to blame the holiday weekend and I just might do that because it was busy and I did have to work the entire weekend but here's the thing, it was the same deal last year and last year was the year I had my now infamous freak out when the management team decided to make me stay late one day. They did not make me stay late this year, however, I ended up doing that anyway.
The thing was, I was just so damn tired. I know I was tired last year too but I still managed my word counts every day. Maybe the problem is that I Hate My Story. Because I do, you know, hate my story.
It was so good in my head. In my head, it was going to be the best damn thing I'd ever written (which, considering my present writing related circumstances, may not be saying a whole lot). But on paper? But on paper, it kind of sucks. I don't like it in the least bit and I don't know what to do about it. I know the point of NaNoWriMo is to just write 50,000 of a bad first draft in thirty days but this is a really terrible first draft and I am honestly looking forward to December just so I don't have to work on it anymore.
That's the spirit!
So anyway, yeah, I am 6,800 words behind right now. I have to write 6,800 words just to reach the 50,000 word mark and I am damned determined to reach that goal. Why, I don't know exactly, especially when I hate this book so much but I'd like to go out a winner, if at all possible. Fortunately in the case of NaNoWriMo, quantity trumps quality. I can worry about quality later.
Unfortunately, I am not the only roadblock standing in the way of me and my 6800 words. There's also the Gator Girl. Her stomach's really unhappy. This has made all of us really unhappy because instead of writing words, I've been spending my time scrubbing various bodily- uh- substances (they're not really fluids) out of the rug. And then there's Vader the Cat. If you remember, Vader is having a hard time (check out my September 30th blog if you need or want reminding) and it's getting harder. This morning she had a hard time all over Joe's bathroom. And Big, determined not to be left out, spent last night throwing up in my kitchen. At least he threw up over an easily cleanable surface.
I love my pets. I do, I really do (even when I've gone through a dozen rolls of paper towels in five hours). Joe, however, currently may not be as fond of them.
But he is still fond of me (or at least he was before Vader did unspeakably gross things to his bathroom) and he understands that I have this insane need to reach the 50,000 word mark before midnight on November 30th and that I am determined not to sleep until I have done as much. I also hope he understands that he's on his own for dinner until that happens.
And for all of you NaNoWriMo winners out there, I applaud your success and I am in no way completely green with jealousy. Until next time...
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and since I doubt very much I shall have the opportunity to blog tomorrow, I am going to write this entry today. It is a list of some of the things for which I am thankful. Thus the clever title. This list isn’t in any particular order, nor is it likely to be all encompassing. It is what it is.
I am thankful for my friends, all my friends (Omar! Leah! Everyone in puppy class!) but the following five get a very special mention: Mike and Heidi and Heather and Jacob and Alison. They’re the people who most often act as my sounding boards and read everything I write (particularly Mike who gets the honor of reading every draft of everything, for example twenty drafts of a particular synopsis and then the query letter to accompany it.). They’re the people who never (outwardly) flinch when I ask a completely out of left field bizzaro question such as “Do you know any interesting ways to torture people?” or “Do you think I should kill a kid” (Important note: I only torture and/or kill fictional characters. And only when the story calls for it. I swear.). I think Mike was the proud recipient of a throat slitting question once and still considers (as far as I know anyway) me his friend. Anyway, I am thankful beyond measure for this support group. Thanks for having the confidence in me I am often times lacking.
I am thankful for my family, the big bunch of specially packaged almonds we all are. I am thankful for my parents for raising me right, for instilling in me independence along with a good solid work ethic and a good sense of morals (I only kill fictional people after all). I am thankful to them for giving me a marathon length stubborn streak and not naming me Prudence or November or Persephone. I am thankful for my siblings, all three of them, even though I spent a lot of time in my youth wishing to be an only child. My foils, my antagonists, my partners in crime, thank you for being my friends and companions on this journey we know as life.
I am thankful for my niece, Jupiter, and for the once in a lifetime experience she gave to me when she joined our family. I am thankful for my godchildren and every moment I get to spend with them. If the children are our future, you three make me think it’ll be very bright indeed.
I am thankful for Joe, my significant other. Even though we more often than not bicker like the couple from On Golden Pond. Probably because of it even. I am thankful that he has accepted all the idiosyncrasies that come along with me and my writer-being (how’s that for some damn fine writing?). He never (outwardly) groans or gets irritated when I turn the bedroom lights on at two or three in the morning because I have some exciting thought I need to get down on paper. He never (outwardly) groans or gets irritated when I don’t go to bed until four or five in the morning (thus causing a billion decibels worth of noise when the dogs either come into the room with me or get up to greet me) because I’ve been up writing all night. He never (outwardly) groans over my obsession with medieval weaponry. He didn’t even get (overly) upset when I (accidentally) put that hole in the wall with my authentic Braveheart broad sword and killed that one shifty looking lamp with my quarterstaff. He didn’t get (overly) annoyed when I was rendered incapable of having a trans-atlantic phone call with him when I discovered my most precious writing notebook missing in my Yekaterinburg hotel room. He puts up with my quirks, my (occasional) bouts of bitchiness, my ever growing piles of books, my television obsession, my Dr. Horrible obsession, my Jacoby Ellsbury obsession and countless other obsessions…and even loves me in spite of it all. Thanks, sweetie. You’re the best.
I am thankful for my puppies. Although they are often times huge pains in my ass, they’re the best damn puppies around. Sure, the Gator Girl is simultaneously the most brilliant and dumbest dog I’ve ever known with both an energy and anxiety level that far outstrips the rest of us put together. Sure, Big’s obsession with marking trees and his refusal to have a bowel movement unless I’m the one walking him, is annoying. Really annoying. But they’re still my babies and I love them to pieces.
I am thankful for my job even though the bullshit to sanity ratio is way out of whack. I am thankful to still have a job, no matter how maddening it may be. I am thankful for the insanity that lives in that place if for no other reason than it gives me the ability to write some damn funny (or so you’ve told me, my faithful few readers, for whom I am also thankful) blogs. Plus, I am thankful that it’s a retail experience that requires me to work no nights and very few weekends and spend my time there often thinking about writing.
I am thankful for Sharpie Fine Point Pens. Especially the purple ones. I am also thankful for Joss Whedon. I am thankful that Harry Potter asked to be in Gryffindor and that the Twilight saga is only four books long. I am thankful for macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake. I am thankful that How I Met Your Mother coined the phrase “Slapsgiving”.
And I am thankful I will have the opportunity to spend the holiday with my family as well as Joe’s family and that we don’t have to rush home because I have to work at some ungodly hour come Black Friday. No, this year instead I’m working the late shift (9am, that is…which is late on Black Friday.)
I wish I could write more but I have to go out and brave the madness that will be the grocery store so I can get the much needed items assigned to me to bring for tomorrow’s dinner. Hope they’re not out of rolls…
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The latest thing floating around Facebook...
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your Facebook notes or your own blog. Or both. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds on Facebook. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!
(My personal note: I am going to write a little something about some of the titles. This is not part of the rules or whatever, just something I feel like doing. Anyway, let the games begin...)
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen- God, how I hate this book. I am normally a fast reader but this novel (hell, this novelist) slowed me down to a pace so slow that a glacier past me along the way. I do love the movie adaptations though. Colin Firth can be my Mr. Darcy any time.
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien- Another series that took me a long time to get through. I was determined to read them one day because I thought it strange that I was a fantasy writing English teacher who had never read them. I finally had to bring them to Russia with me where I would be surrounded with nothing to do and very little English. Again, I loved the movie adaptations.
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte- I was supposed to have read this book in high school and, well, didn't. I read it for real a couple of years ago and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it.
4. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling- Well, if you've followed any of my book reviews, you'll know that I've read this series. Repeatedly.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte- Back in the tenth grade, I was supposed to have written a paper on the symbolism of the weather in this book. Instead I wrote a paper on how the weather wasn't symbolic at all, that it takes places on the moors of Northern England so of course the weather sucked. I received a C+. Didn't love this book, not even when I read it again a couple of years ago. This surprised me because I'm such a sucker for a tragic love story.
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman- Most of this series bored the living daylights out of me. And the movie sucked too. Not enough Daniel Craig.
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens- I actually liked this book.
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott- I love the movie version starring Winona Ryder. Joe groans whenever I go to watch it.
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare- I haven't read them all. By the by, shouldn't #98 be included in this?
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier- Have you seen the movie? It kind of kicks ass!
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger- I didn't like this book really. There was one part toward the end where the imagery was cool that I enjoyed but mostly, I was kind of bored.
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger- Haven't read the book. I watched the movie version though and was thoroughly bored by it.
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell- I read this one back in my college years when I was sick with mono. Walked around speaking with a southern accent for a while afterward. Just because I could.
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald- I really love this book and have long harbored a crush on Nick. I taught this book back when I was teaching. I just read in Entertainment Weekly that Baz Lurhmann (the director of Moulin Rouge!) is in the process of making his own version of this book. Color me excited.
23 Bleak House- Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy- Haven't read it but everytime I think of this book, I always think of that Charlie Brown episode where he's supposed to read this book on his holiday vacation and wheels it around with him everywhere he goes.
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited- Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy- I read this one in college during a modern fiction class whose focus was suicide in fiction. We also read Madame Bovary and The Sorrows of Young Werther. I'm pretty sure there was another novel in there somewhere too but, for the life of me, I can't remember what it is.
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens- Yep. Read this one too. Didn't like it though.
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis- Question...is this not a part of the Chronicles of Narnia? Because I kind of thought it was. Doesn't really matter though, I suppose, because either way I haven't read it. It's just that if it is a part of the Chronicles of Narnia, this isn't really a list of 100 books, is it?
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell- I can't even believe the number of times I've read this book. Because it's a lot.
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown- First of all, I can't believe someone put this book on a list alongside writers like Dickens and Austen (yes, even though I don't particularly care for either of those writers). Second of all, I can't believe I wasted an entire weekend reading this book. Because it sucks.
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding- I did love this book. It was kind of horrifying. But the character, Jack, helped to shape my view on how I write my male leads.
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan- This book is frakking gorgeous and I loved it. I also enjoyed the film version very much.
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen- Another two months of my life I'll never get back. I can't even say I enjoyed the film version because I didn't, even if Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet were in it.
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens- Read this one. Liked this one. I always think of that episode of Cheers where Frasier was reading this book to the guys at the bar and how, when they start to get bored, there's suddenly a helicopter and a gun fight going on. Too funny.
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck- I never read this book in high school but picked it up a couple years back when I was on my 'read classic novels' kick. It surprised me that this book was read in high school.
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov- I've never read it, but I have referenced it in my own writing. Correctly, I hope...
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold- Brilliant and moving and incredibly sad.
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding- The movie was better. Again, why is this book on this list??
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens- Please sir, I don't want any more.
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt- The book was far better than the movie.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert- See above.
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White- Are there really people who haven't read this book? If you're one of them, please, let me know!
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (in French)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare- Of course I've read this. It's my favorite Shakespeare play and I loved to teach this at school. The kids called me a geek because I was so into it. My question is: Shouldn't this be included in the complete works of Shakespeare?
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo- Not only have I read this in English, but I've also read it in French. And I have the musical memorized. Shouldn't I get bonus points for that?
Well, there it is. I've read more than six, so take that, BBC. I'm breaking the rules slightly in that I am not tagging anyone. But, if you're so inclined, post this on your own blogs or Facebook pages.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I've learned a very valuable lesson this week: I should not be allowed to be responsible for anything come November.
I say this because I have developed a kind of tunnel vision where I see only my NaNoWriMo project (and Harry Potter) and nothing else. This tunnel vision has led me to do things like- oh, I don't know- forget to go to work. I got up all right, on time and all that. I fed the pets and then took a couple of minutes just to scribble down some ideas all quick like in my handy dandy notebook. The couple of minutes turned into just a wee but longer than that.
I also forgot to pay the electric bill. I found that one out when all of a sudden I was typing in the dark. Just kidding. With my current rampant obliviousness, I wouldn't have noticed if I was suddenly typing in the dark. I probably would have noticed when the laptop died though.
The electric bill did bring my attention to my need to pay other bills, most notably the mortgage. I'm almost sure I wrote out the checks correctly and put them in their proper envelopes. Guess I'll know the answer to that soon enough.
I went to the grocery store on Friday just to pick up some essentials (like Joe's lunch) and came home with nothing but an exciting new plot twist. I didn't realize what I had done until I got a call from Joe saying, "Uh...where's my lunch?" Today I tried the grocery store again and this time made it all the way through with at least a handful of items that were on my list (forgotten at home, of course) but when I got to the register to pay, I discovered that the card I had brought with me to cover my purchase was my driver's license. So I was forced to break my 'no running in public' rule and run out to my car to retrieve an actual legitimate form of payment.
I came home and told Joe that I shouldn't be in charge of anything in November, especially not a November where there's a Harry Potter film released. His response?
"But you're in charge of everything."
Friday, November 19, 2010
Travel back in time with me, if you will, back to November in the year 2002 when the world was eagerly waiting with breathless anticipation the arrival of the first very Harry Potter movie. It was a Thursday night, the night before the premiere, our tickets for a Friday night show had already been purchased and I was already bouncing with excitement.
Then, at 8 o'clock, the phone rang.
It was my sister, B. She was calling to tell me that a theater down her way was doing a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
"So we can see it at midnight?" I asked. "As in four hours from now?"
She confirmed this was so. I said then, "I'll be there in an hour."
And thus, a tradition was born.
I found out last night that B hadn't really anticipated me wanting to drive down to watch the movie at midnight for which we already had tickets (purchased a good two weeks in advance) for another day (Silly B.). Joe didn't really get it either. "What about the tickets you've already bought?" he asked. "What are you going to do with them?"
"Uh," I said as though the answer were perfectly obvious. "Go again? Duh."
And so we did.
When the first movie opened, we were able to walk right into the uncrowded theater at 10pm and purchase tickets for a show two hours later. We went to Denny's afterward to kill time and walked into the showing about a half hour before it actually started. There was no problem finding good seats because there wasn't that many people there.
What I love about a midnight showing is that you know you're surrounded by die hard fans and they're all just as excited as you are to see what's about to unfold. And when the first Quidditch scene in the first movie came to a close, everyone cheered. There's an awesome kind of energy that comes along with a midnight show that just can't be duplicated.
Until you go to another midnight show.
As the years progressed and other Harry Potter films were released, I was at the midnight opening for all of them. We started having to buy our tickets earlier and earlier (thank goodness they started selling them online. Saved me a two hour trip) and starting having to show up at the theater earlier and earlier in order to get a decent seat. My group thought I was insane to insist that we arrive at the theater two hours early for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix but they came to see the brilliance of my mania.
B managed to hold me off until 9:30pm the night Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opened but when we got to the theater that night, the line was already out the door and wrapping around the building. B looked at me and said, "I am not waiting in that line." Fortunately, my ticket buying mania paid off and we were allowed to bypass the line, go directly to go and claim our seats in a theater that was already half full. At 9:30pm.
I think it was then that B realized just how damn early I'd want to get there for the next one. To her credit, she still came along.
The next one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One), was last night. My friend, Kim, arrived first at 7pm and got in line. About ten minutes later, the line was out the door. B was working and so she and I didn't get there until 8:45 when the line was starting to work its way around the side of the building. It was summer when Half Blood Prince opened but last night was a cold New England November night and once again B looked at me and said, "I am not waiting in that line."
But thanks to Kim, and Kim's professor who ended class early, we didn't have to wait. Outside anyway. We went inside and squeezed into the space Kim had managed to snatch away from the total Mean Girls who cut line in front of her before our arrival. Seriously, I thought Kim and the Mean Girls were going to get into a fist fight at one point. We had the last laugh though when we were allowed to get into our theater just before 10pm and the Mean Girls were forced to wait and watch us go.
Oh snap. That's right, girls. Karma's a bitch and she does not approve of line cutters.
So now we arrive at the part where I actually review the latest Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie. If you know me at all, you know that it's going to be a rave. You just know that I'm going to love it because I have loved them all. I think I may be the only person on the face of the earth who loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fight at the ministry is so flipping awesome. I could just watch it over and over again. And frequently do).
I watched the majority of this movie with my hands over my mouth as I watched, very intensely, Harry, Ron and Hermione battle their way through everything. It's not like I didn't know where the story was headed and that the three of them would be all right because, you know, I've read the book so many times that I'd have to be barefoot in order to count them all. But the action was so damn good. And the quiet parts (and there are a lot in this book) were so damn good.
And plus, did I mention that it's funny? I have to go watch the movie a second time (Saturday afternoon) just so I can hear all the parts I missed the first time because I was laughing so hard.
Now let's talk about what gets cut and/or changed. I'm not going to go into any great detail on this part because I know there are people out there who have not yet seen the film and I don't want to ruin anything for them. So, I'll just say that yes, some changes have been made. Some things have been cut out. I'd like to go on record as saying that I have no problems with any of the cuts, except for maybe one. Well, make that two. I'll tell you about them later if you're interested. The screenwriter, Steve Kloves, makes changes that are smart (especially one involving Hedwig). There's a scene involving Hermione, right at the beginning, that breaks my heart but I absolutely loved its inclusion.
You also have to be careful not to miss the animated section where Hermione reads the tale of the three brothers because it's so damn beautiful. Seriously, kudos to the animators.
These three kids have come a long way from the first movie. They're really great actors, all of them. They've learned to really know how to turn a phrase and make it funny or devastating, whatever the situation calls for. Those quiet moments I mentioned earlier? The reason they work so well is because Daniel Radcliff and Emma Watson say so much without having to say a single damn word. They were adorable in the first movie and I think they're bloody fantastic now.
The casting of these movies has not missed a single beat. Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) joins the cast as Rufus Scrimgeour and although his appearance in the film is tragically short (I've always been sad that he never showed up in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), he nails it. Rhys Ifans (the freaky roommate from Notting Hill) is great as Luna Lovegood's father, Xenophilius. And I know that he's been playing this role for a few movies now, but Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort? Genius.
My only complaints about this film is that (1) it's too damn short (Yeah, I know it's a two and a half hour movie but I would have loved it to have been twice that long) and (2) I have to wait until July to watch the second half. The Battle Of Hogwarts is going to be bloody brilliant.
Do you think it's too early to get in line?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
We're a couple of days past the Halfway point in the NaNoWriMo experience. I was supposed to be at 25,000 words by Monday. And I wasn't. Blame the holiday weekend. I do.
I spent most of the day yesterday trying to get caught up and I came damn close to it but still fell a little short. I did manage to cross the 25,000 word mark (finally) and whittled down the number of days it would take for me to finish. I will now finish on December 3rd. I think that's progress, right?
I actually went back and looked at the blogs I was writing last November to see if I was doing this poorly last year. And there was a good stretch of time when I was behind. Of course, last year the NaNoWriMo people didn't have a status chart that would tell you the average numbers of words you were writing and on what day you could expect to finish. I was loving this chart back at the beginning of the month when it said I'd finish on November 25th. Now that it's bumped me back into December, I'm loving it a little less.
However, I still think I can pull it off. Of course, I have Harry Potter weekend coming up, followed by Black Friday weekend so there's plenty of time for me to screw this up.
I know. That's the spirit, isn't it?
In the good news category: a plot is starting to take shape. It always amazes me (I say 'always' like this isn't just the second time I've attempted this) that a person can write so many words without having a definite direction in which to head. But it's starting to come together now. There is still some doubt as to whether I am actually smart enough to write this book but I guess we'll have that answer by the end of the month. I'm just kind of fumbling along and waiting to see where I end up.
And just as the plot is starting to come together, so are the characters. I've started a list in my handy dandy notebook (NAME THAT REFERENCE!) of sentences that could work as openings to character development. Some of them are starting to gain some depth. Woo Hoo. Go me.
I also have written into the story a Belgian Malinois. Last year, my main character ended up with a German Shepherd and so this year, when I decided to write in a dog, I had to go with the Malinois. Seemed only fair. Joe says this means that next year, I'll have to write in a Miniature Schnauzer. Which I will. Unless I have managed to talk him into letting me have my third dog by then. This means I will likely be writing about a Miniature Schnauzer or living on my own with three dogs.
Anyway, I have 2,361 words to go tonight in order to get caught up. I have absolutely no idea what those words might be. I am encouraged by the fact that yesterday, I came up with over 4,000 words and when I started the day, I had no idea what they were going to be either.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
So, it's Tuesday and I have been rewarded with a day off which I have been spending doing laundry and dishes and trying to get caught up on my NaNoWriMo project (at my current rate of production, I shall be finished with my project on December 6th.) But first, I really wanted to share with you the rest of the holiday weekend's highlights...
Engaging the Customer...Always My First Mistake...
Me: Are you finding everything all right?
Her: I'm disappointed in you today.
Me: I'm sorry but have we ever met?
Her: Your sale isn't very good.
Me: I kind of feel like pointing out that it's not actually my sale.
Her: This sale isn't even worth getting out of my car for.
Me: Well, thanks for getting out of your car to let me know that this sale isn't worth getting out of your car for.
Her: I mean, nothing's on sale.
Me: Actually, everything's on sale. That's why we call it the 'everything's on sale' sale.
Her: There are some big buys in this mall this weekend but not here.
Me: I'm sorry?
Her: I'm a local so I'll be back-
Me: Won't that be nice.
Her: So you let me know when you're ready to move some product.
Me: I can think of a place to put some right now.
Her: Excuse me?
Me: Enjoy your day.
Working With The AssMan...Always My Second Mistake...
Joe came into The Store on Sunday as it was a bonus discount day for employees and I wanted him to look around and see if there was anything he wanted. If you're wondering how insane the AssMan is, well, let's just say that you probably won't wonder that after read this next segment.
Her: (coming out to the stockroom where I am feverishly working to finish up and get the frak out of there) You'd better get out there. Your husband is talking to another woman.
Her: So he's talking to another woman! You have to get out there and stop it.
Me: Why? He can talk to another woman if he wants.
Her: Oh, so you want someone else to deal with him.
Me: What? No. We just have one of those healthy relationships where we can talk to other people without fear of retribution. I don't care if he talks to another woman. He can talk to whoever the hell he wants to.
Her: (shaking her head) You'd better get out there.
(the other woman, by the way, was one of his co-workers and all three of us had a good laugh at the AssMan's expense.)
Seriously, AssMan. Whatever is Wrong With You is No Little Thing...
This next bit is from Monday which, technically, isn't a part of the weekend, I know, but I always think of Mondays after a holiday weekend as part of the weekend as we're out straight trying to recover from the deluge of customers. We seriously had a ton of people in the store and it looked it. The AssMan helped out by doing the least amount of work possible while, in the process, feeling the need to steal my one and only empty bin (a big bucket on wheels into which I put product...a vital piece of equipment for stock people this time of year) when I was busy elsewhere.
Her: I need sleep pants.
Me: (pointing) I have a box of them over there.
The AssMan then proceeds to dig through the boxes right next to me, bringing my productivity to a screeching halt.
Me: What are you doing? What do you want?
Her: I'm looking for men's sleep pants.
Me: In a box labeled 'Women's Outwear'?
Her: Well, what box are they in?
Me: Personally, I'd try the box labeled 'Men's Sleep Pants.'
Her: (laughing) Oh. Am I annoying you today?
Me: It's adorable how you think it's just today. And yes, you are annoying me.
The AssMan went out of her way to suck up to me for the rest of the day. So I guess it wasn't all bad. And I don't have to go back to The Store until tomorrow. And THEN, THEN, I have two days off in a row so that I can happily attend the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Honestly, I think if I didn't have to work on Wednesday, I'd be sitting in the theater right now.
Anyway, I've got to get back to the housework and NaNoWriMo. If I want to get caught up, I need to write 3,652 words. They, unfortunately, will not write themselves. But it would be sweet if they did.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Today is my brother's birthday.
Growing up can't have been easy for him. He was the youngest of four and the only boy trapped in a house full of girls who were always trying to do things like put him a sewing machine bag and carry him around. There are some other stories I could tell that I think my brother might prefer I keep to myself and so I shall. But here are some I think are okay to share...
I think, first and foremost, I have to tell you about the two minute game even if it does make me look like a not nice person. Sigh.
Growing up, we had a finished basement that doubled as our playroom. We had a toy box which one day I think we pretty nearly emptied. This delighted my mother so she told me, B and Jake that we had to clean up our mess. So we sat around the room, looking at the mess and then an idea that shall forever live in infamy was born: The Two Minute Game.
Here's how you play...
Each person has two minutes to put away as many toys as he or she can. Whoever puts away the most toys, wins.
Jake got to go first. He played hard, ran hard and zipped around that room gathering toys to be returned to the toy box. And he won because he managed to put all those damn toys away before his time was up. It was the best day ever. Jake was the undisputed champion of the two minute game. Right up until the point where he learned to tell time and realized that perhaps, just maybe, his sisters were scamming him.
And thus was the end of the two minute game.
But I think we've moved on from that. He still hangs out with me and sometimes, I think, it's because he might actually want to.
We still play games. Only these are more the Milton Bradley variety. Jake is now the undisputed champion of Dirty Word Scrabble. He's also one of a very small number of people who are willing to play either Scene It or Reel Clues with me.
We worked together at The Store before The Store and had a grand ole time mocking the management (even if I was technically one of them) and every now and then, we reminisce about Chuck, freakishly tall Andrew and poor skittish Cameron and wonder where they are in life. Chuck, I'm guessing, is in a Cracker Barrel somewhere. No idea on the other two.
We've done some traveling together too. One of the good things about Jake is that he's always willing to pose for the funny pictures (like the one of our sword fight in the Outer Banks toy shop) no one else is. We met Kenny in Orlando and discovered that Kenny is an endless source of entertainment. We even went north of the border to Montreal We went to Bar Harbor and froze off our asses on the top of Cadillac Mountain one morning in order to see the sunrise.
Jake bought me my first real sword and was thoughtful enough to make sure it was small enough to enable me to swing it around (Joe, by the way, appreciates this to no end). He responds to every random sports question I send his way and never outwardly laughs when I express my desire to be a defensive football playing tackling person. He also tells me the proper names for these positions, over and over again too. When I ask writing questions, he is always full of helpful and hilarious suggestions. Many a scene has been finished with Jake's help.
He brought me to Fenway for the first (and second) time and took me to stalk Jacoby Ellsbury this summer. When we watch the Pats play, he's the one who makes me feel less alone when I'm screaming at the television. And when the Red Sox won the world series in 2004, it was incredibly special to have someone call me on the phone the moment the game ended, that late at night, who knew exactly how I was feel at that moment.
We share a sense of humor which is fantastic because it guarantees that at least one person out in the world will understand what the hell it is I'm talking about. This is invaluable. In addition to understanding my references, he also makes references of his own and it thrills me to no end when they involve the collective works of Joss Whedon and Amy Sherman-Palladino. Plus, we both find Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be very funny. Unlike either of our significant others.
Now I'm going to be a little mushy for a moment because I really feel lucky to have a brother with whom I can share all these things. A lot of people don't have that type of relationship with a sibling and, for them, I feel sorry because it really is a very awesome thing. As evidenced by all of the above.
So Happy Birthday to the undisputed champion of both the Two Minute game and Dirty Word Scrabble. I wish you many more.
Happy Birthday, Jake!!
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Store, before it opens for another day of early holiday shopping.
Melissa (the sarcastic and pain in the ass stock monkey)
Ruthie (the angry but definitely less sarcastic stock associate)
AssMan2 (the second assistant manager, otherwise known as the one the associates can stand to be around)
The Spider (a big giant creepy tan devil creature of which both Melissa and Ruthie have a
paralyzing and embarrassing mild and completely rational fear)
And So Our Story Begins...
Ruthie: Can we put any more of these
ugly ass really well designed tan shirts out on the sales floor?
Melissa: Yes, I believe we can.
Ruthie takes a stack of the
ugly ass really well designed shirts out to the sales floor and look at the table upon which they are supposed to go. After Melissa rearranges things a little (something, by the way management loves), Ruthie places the stack with the others. Melissa fluffs up the stack a little so that management won't notice there's an extra set of ugly ass really well designed shirts here that wasn't there earlier.
Ruthie: This place gets more and more ridiculous with each passing day. Just when you think it can't get any stupider around here it goes and does just that. Did I tell you...
Ruthie continues on with her anti Store rant. Melissa lets her. It's nothing Melissa hasn't heard before or said herself before but still, Melissa feels it's better to let Ruthie get it all out. But the rant isn't the important part of the story. This next part is.
Enter The Spider crawling on top of the newly placed stack of
ugly ass really well designed shirts. Melissa jumps away from the ugly ass really well designed shirt table. Ruthie stops her rant.
Ruthie: What are you-
Ruthie sees The Spider and screams. She then runs away from the table and hides behind Melissa.
Melissa: What the hell are you hiding behind me for?
Ruthie: (still shrieking) Where did that come from? It was on the shirts, wasn't it? The shirts I brought out here!
Melissa: I think so.
Melissa and Ruthie watched The Spider. The Spider watches Melissa and Ruthie. They swear to god that The Spider was watching them. Spiders do that, you know? They have all those creepy little eyes for a reason, you know. So they can stalk you and kill you in your sleep.
Ruthie: What are we going to do?
Melissa: I was thinking about running away and hiding until our shifts are over.
Ruthie: I could get behind that plan. Let's go.
But neither of them moves out of fear that The Spider will attack.
Melissa: Okay, we just can't leave it there...Can we?
Ruthie: I think we can.
Melissa: Isn't this a job for AssMan2?
Ruthie: I'll go get her.
But again, Ruthie doesn't move. She stays hidden behind Melissa. Melissa looks at the spider and is suddenly determined to not let that thing get the best of her. All right, so maybe it was more the unwillingness to open herself up to the shame of needing to be rescued by the AssMan2 driving her actions at this point, but still, she chose to take action.
Melissa moves cautiously around the back of the
ugly ass really well designed shirt tableto retireve one of the Store's many folding boards (boards which exist to help associates achieve the perfect fold. For the record, Melissa would like it noted that she never uses these boards for their intended purpose.)
Ruthie: What are you doing?
Melissa: I'm going to knock it on the floor and squish it.
Ruthie: What do I do?
Melissa: You go over there (points) and distract it so it doesn't see me coming.
Ruthie: I'm not doing that!
Melissa creeps back around to the side of the table. She swears that The Spider is following her every step. Creepy little bastard. She stretches out her arm and tries to brush The Spider off the pile of
ugly ass really well designed shirts. The Spider disappears from the top of the stack but does not appear to be on the floor. Melissa jumps back. Ruthie screams again.
Ruthie: Where'd it go? Where'd it go? Oh my god, where'd it go?
The Spider has now taken up residence on the front of the stack of
ugly ass really well designed shirts. Melissa checks the entrance to the stock room, certain that AssMan2 will appear at any time as both she and Ruthie have been doing a rather alarming amount of screaming, but the doorway is empty. Melissa steels herself for a second try. And fails again. Ruthie screams some more.
Ruthie: I'm getting AssMan2! You watch The Spider.
Ruthie exits, leaving Melissa alone with The Spider who is probably really pissed off with her by now. After a moment of intense stand off, Ruthie returns with AssMan2 in tow.
Ruthie: You should see this thing. It's huge! And it's creepy and we want you to kill it! Right away!
AssMan2 crouches down in front of the table in order to get a better look at The Spider. This causes Ruthie to shriek some more and run in the opposite direction. Melissa doesn't move but does use her folding board as a defensive shield.
AssMan2: Wow. Would you look at him?
Melissa: Yeah, we've kind of looked already. Could we get to the squishing him part already?
AssMan2: Oh, we don't want to squish him.
Ruthie: (from behind a fixture of winter coats) Yes we do! We really, really do.
AssMan2 knocks The Spider to the floor and then walks away. Ruthie shrieks and Melissa stares at The Spider who has decided that it's time to make a break for it.
Ruthie: What are you doing?!?!?
AssMan2: I'm getting a-
But before AssMan2 can explain what she is getting, Ruthie comes flying out from behind her protective rack of coats and stomps on The Spider before it can get any further away.
Ruthie: Where is it? Where is it?
Melissa: I'd check the bottom of your shoe if I were you.
Ruthie does and scrapes the spider guts off her shoe and onto the concrete floor. AssMan2 then cleans up the spider guts with a paper towel while telling Melissa and Ruthie about the big spiders she once encountered on a hike in Hawaii. Melissa crosses off 'hiking in Hawaii' from her list of Things To Do Someday.
AssMan2: Well, all right then, ladies. Are we ready to open?
Melissa: More like go home.
Ruthie: Yeah, I'm worn out.
And thus the day was saved and made safe for all the early holiday shoppers. Ruthie and Melissa returned to the stockroom where they were afraid to touch anything and shrieked any time anything caught the corner of their eye.
AssMan2: This day's going to be insufferable.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
This year, for NaNoWriMo, I am writing a young adult urban fantasy because the Twilight books just piss me off so much. Well, the fourth book pissed me off so much that it made my bemusement with the other three books crumble into hatred. But whatever. That's not really the point.
Why can't I ever stay on topic?
So the basic premise for my novel (called Solstice) is that sixteen year old Gwendolyn Chase fights demons on the streets of Boston until the day, her mother sends her away to a program for troubled teens located out in the middle of nowhere, Vermont. Or New Hampshire. I haven't quite decided yet. She gets sent somewhere in the middle of nowhere New England anyway.
I have some semblance of an idea for a plot that revolves around the kicking of demon ass and the stopping of a massive evil plan but not a whole lot more to go along with it. It's more a "hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." mentality. I'm trying to not worry too much about this because last November, I started with the intention of writing a romance and didn't have a whole lot to go on. I wrote the scene where the two main characters meet and let it happen from there. I really liked where that one went and how that project turned out so there's no reason (yet) to think the plot won't happen to this one.
Except that I am less happy with this new project.
But I am pushing through. Seems the thing to do because it's only just beginning and who the hell knows what's going to happen over the course of the month. Word count doesn't seem to be an issue at all as I have, just this afternoon, crossed the 10,000 word mark. I think that puts me four days ahead. So I have plenty of time to contemplate plot.
A friend of mine suggested to me that plot is overrated. Develop character, he said.
And trust me, I am all about well developed character. I love a well developed character with layers and flaws and all that good stuff. I'm trying to write a kick ass heroine with just those things but so far she's just been sullen and sarcastic. And while that can be fun for a while, I'm going to need something more. She doesn't have a lot of depth to her yet. But that too will come, right?
But as important as character is, I think plot is vital too. Especially when one is writing a book about a teenage demon fighter. In a premise like that, it seems to me that there ought to be some demon fighting. And demon fighting, while certainly character building, seems more like plot to me.
So let's recap. I have no real plot. I have no real character with any real depth to her. And yet, I somehow have over 10,000 words.
I am either a genius or an idiot. I'm afraid it's the latter but let's just say it's the former.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Here it is, kids. The Firefly/Serenity quotes quiz. I am embarrassingly excited to be doing this. It was a great excuse to watch the entire series over again. It was a great excuse to watch the movie over again. This adventure also led to what may be the greatest quote really also ever. Joe, in the midst of one episode said, "You don't f*&k with Captain Tightpants."
I was so very proud.
You all know the Quote Quiz rules by now but as this is a very specific quiz, there are some minor addendums (is that not a word? My word processor is saying that 'addendums' is not a word. What's the plural of 'addendum'? Anyone?). You don't have to name the show because they all come from the same show. Some of the quotes will have come from the movie, however, so you will have to discern that. Name the episode in which the quote appears as well as the speaker of the quote. For extra points, you can tell a little bit about the situation. And, yes, some of these quotes will be painfully obvious but they were just too good to leave out.
If you win (Alison, care to try for a three-peat?), you can name the next Quote Quiz subject (as long as it involves Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Ready to play? Great...let's begin.
1. I could kill you with my brain.
2. If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak.
3. They tell you never hit a man with a closed fist but it is, on occasion, hilarious.
4. I can be terse. Once in flight school I was laconic.
5. The hell with this! I'm gonna live!
6. Every well bred petty crook knows the small concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting.
7. Jayne, we're robbing the place. Not occupying it.
8. I'll be in my bunk.
9. I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.
10. I'm sorry if she tipped anyone off about your cunningly concealed herd of cattle.
11. River, honey, he's putting the hair away now.
12. He looked bigger when I couldn't see him.
13. Mine is an evil laugh!
14. Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.
15. You can't stop the signal.
I could, of course, do this all day long but it's November and I have a NaNoWriMo project awaiting my attention. And some of you, most of you, probably have jobs and families and the like awaiting your attention. So have fun, get your answers in and I'll post all the results in a couple of days.
Oh, and one last thing:
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I voted today. I love to vote. Democracy is my drug. That, and Nyquil. I'd like to thank The Daily Show's Indecision Forever site for providing my awesome graphic. It took longer for me to get out of polling place than it took for me to park, walk inside and do the actual voting. In New Hampshire, Independent voters such as myself as not considered Independents but rather Undeclared. I take offense at this because I am declared. I have declared myself to be an Independent. Whatever, New Hampshire.
-Speaking of politics and The Daily Show, they (in conjunction with The Colbert Report), held a rally in Washington D.C. last Saturday (The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear). My young Padawan, DC, sent me a list of the signs seen in the crowd. Here is one of my favorites:
I was told there'd be cookies
There were some other ones too but this blog program is being difficult and I can't seem to list them here all pretty like, so I'm going to skip fighting with it further. But trust me, the signs were funny.
- You know you go to Dunkin Donuts far too often when you order an egg, sausage and cheese breakfast sandwich on an English muffin and the person looks at you and says, "Why are you ordering that? You're a vegetarian who's afraid of eggs." And...yes. That is true. But the sandwich wasn't for me. It was for someone else. You don't think I go to Dunkin Donuts and buy the jumbo box of munchkins and then take them home and eat them all by myself, do you? I mean, sure, I could probably do that, and yes, maybe, just maybe, I have been known to eat a lot of donuts (particularly the chocolate ones) but I really do bring them to work and share them with my co-workers. Really.
-My NaNoWriMo project is now two days old and I am running just under 5,000 words. This means I am running ahead of schedule. I imagine things are going to start getting harder as I still don't really have a plot. Well, I have this idea that I might be able to make work but I'm not sure how to make it work. So, for now, I guess I'm treading water. But I'm still ahead of the pace. For now.
-I set a goal at the start of the year to finish writing Second Nature by the end of October. I had a tentative word count goal of 200,000. And well, now here it is, the beginning of November and I can officially declare that I missed the mark. Not only did I not finish the book, I didn't hit the projected word count. I end up at about the 190,000 word mark which is still a rather lot of words but I've come to the conclusion that Second Nature is going to end up being much longer than that. But that's December's problem. Maybe even January's.
-I am putting the finishing touches on my Firefly Quote Quiz. That's right. I had to make an entire quiz devoted to Firefly quotes because, as it turns out, they're kind of like Pringles (or is it Lays?)...you can never have just one.
Well, that about does it for tonight. I keep thinking there's something else I wanted to write about but, for the life of me, I can't think of what it is. Oh well. If I think of it, there's always tomorrow...
Monday, November 1, 2010
Right off the bat, I am going to apologize for any typos that may appear in this blog. I stayed up all night to get a good jump on my NaNoWriMo project (sitting pretty at 3,000 words so far so I'd say that plan worked) and am now experiencing the aftermath of having stayed up all night eating candy corns.
Sugar hangovers are bad. Very, very bad.
But hey, 3,000 words and counting. Now I just need a plot.
But this blog is about books that have a plot. Or, at least, more plot than my current project. Here's what I read last month:
Torment- Lauren Kate- The sequel to Fallen which I read earlier this year and was disappointed by. Yes, I know it makes no sense that I would then pick up the next book in the series but that’s just what I do. And I’ll read the one that follows this one too, so there. Anyway, there was something about her characters that felt false. Like she was trying too hard to force them into these specific roles and I know it’s a young adult series but so was Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and I never felt like that reading those books. You can write books for young adults without dumbing stuff down. Oh, than there was this whole thing where the couple whose love is supposed to have been eternal well maybe she’s interested in someone else, like in New Moon where you were wondering if Bella would hook up with Jacob Black and I find that just so damn annoying. You make such a big deal out of this eternal love in the opening book and then you throw it away and not even in a good way. I didn’t think it was very well executed. But after all that, yeah, I’ll still read the next one. It’s a sickness, I tell you, a sickness.
The Blue Girl- Charles de Lint- Now this is how you write a young adult urban fantasy. It wasn’t perfect but it was damn close. Faeries, ghosts and soul eaters and tough talking heroines. It was great. It really was. It didn’t dumb things down for the audience and didn’t involve a heroine who falls in love with some immortal mystical being and completely loses her ability to think for herself. Yipee!
The Boxer and the Spy- Robert B. Parker- One of his young adult mysteries. I didn’t care for this book over all. It’s too slight, I think, even for a young adult novel.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone- J.K. Rowling- It’s that time of year again, that time when I start re-reading the entire brilliant series. This time around I have decided to read the British editions of each novel. I don’t know how much I’ll have to say about them as you already know how much I worship these books but I guess we’ll find out as we go along.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets- J.K. Rowling- As much as I love the early books, I’m just really looking forward to getting to the later books. The first two titles have always been my least favorites of the series which is like saying Dollhouse has always been my least favorite Joss Whedon series, you know?
Painted Ladies- Robert B. Parker- I am surprised that anything could have broken into my Harry Potter reading but one of the last ever Spenser novels would do it. That said, I didn’t love this book. I haven’t been a Susan Silverman fan for a long time now and there she was letting her dog run off leash through the park. And you know how I feel about that… Plus, there was no Hawk.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling- This book kicks so much ass! This is where I think the series really starts to take off.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling-This book has a lot of great moments in it but I find the scene where the Dursleys receive the stamp covered envelope from the Weasleys to be so damn funny. Cracks me up every single time.
And that does it for October. Let's check in on the tally sheet to see where I stand for the year...
October books: 8
Year To Date Total: 88
Books Remaining: 12
Twelve books in two months? I think I can make that work. It'll be nice to achieve a goal. It's been so long since I've done that that I've nearly forgotten what it's like. Go Team Me!