Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

First, you may have noticed that I've been getting a little spam the past week or so. Because of that, I put the box with the squiggly letters back in the comment section. I'll leave it up for a couple of weeks and then take it down and see if we're OK for a while. Sorry for the inconvenience.

So . . . in honor of COMPLETING THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY MANUSCRIPT - YES I DID, JUST LAST NIGHT! - here's the Friday Top Ten:

Top ten emotions upon completing a manuscript draft:

10. Anticipation - I know I can finish today . . .

  9. Expectation - one or two more pages . . .

  8. Amazement - the last bit of dialogue . . .

  7. Accomplishment - OMIGOD!

  6. Triumph - I did it!

  5. Elation - Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!

  4. Party - Dance with me!

  3. Freedom - Tomorrow I don't have to look at it or think about it.

  2. Dismay - Uh, oh.

And the #1 emotion felt upon completion of a manuscript draft:

  1. Resignation - Oh, no! Now I have to do it all over again!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scorpios Can Be a Headache

Not to bore you, but this may be a different kind of day for me.

I woke in the night with a killer sinus headache. Downed some Sudafed. Back to bed. When I woke again, headache was still entrenched, but not pounding with each movement of my head. Or eyes. I just popped two more of those lovely little red pills, so I'm hoping by lunchtime the headache will be history.

So far, I've not done much other than sit here and read email. But after half a bagel and a cup of coffee, I thought I could put together a coherent blog post. We'll see.

While I was reading, I checked my horoscope. I'm a Scorpio. In case you don't know, Scorpios are wicked people. We delight in a lot of things we shouldn't. Today mine says, in so many words, that I'm gonna be really angry with someone.

The thing is, Scorpios are known for holding grudges and no-holds-barred revenge. The horoscope says whoever this other person is, they better watch out.

So I'm doing my duty and passing this on.

If you know a Scorpio . . . might better give them a wide berth today.

And if you are a Scorpio?

Let's have some fun!

Monday, January 25, 2010

January - The Novel

We've had a run of spring-like days for a week or so, and it's been wonderful. Some birds are building nests. And I know for a fact what some of the doves are up to. But the grass is still brown. And no buds are poking out on any tree I've seen.

But yesterday, the winds blew in. With a vengeance. And this morning our temps are near freezing, but it's supposed to be sunny and reach the mid-sixties today.

I just looked at the ten-day weather forecast for San Antonio. By the end of the week, winter will have returned. At least for a few days. So much for spring beginning in January.

It dawned on me that our recent weather pattern is a lot like the pacing of a novel.

Back around the first of the month, we had a few days where the temps stayed below freezing all day. That would be the inciting incident. The beginning of your story. The event that changes everything for your protagonist, Suzy Sunshine.

This isn't normal winter weather here, so people were unprepared. Some had broken water pipes. Others wouldn't go outside. Lots of things. So this is when Suzy suffers problem after problem. She fixes one, two more pop up.

Then it rained. Like crazy. At one point it rained about 24 hours straight. That's when you really dump on all your characters, especially Suzy. By the bucketful.

Then came spring. We thought. Ms. Sunshine has a plan! It's a good one. She's positive it will work.

But the W-I-N-D! This plan of hers suddenly doesn't look so good. In fact, it seems to be heading in the wrong direction entirely.

Winter is back. Suzy Sunshine is huddled in her boots and parka worse off than when she started.

But what's this? A bud on the pear tree! Suzy has a much improved plan. She'll see to it that this one will work!

And what do you know. That old pear tree is loaded with beautiful white blossoms. And Suzy Sunshine overcomes the odds, accomplishes her goal, and lives happily ever after.

The End.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten reasons for sleeping in:

10. You're a lazy bum

  9. Tired 

  8. Awake for hours during the night

  7. Ill

  6. Rain

  5. Couldn't go to sleep when you went to bed

  4. Too little sleep the previous night

  3. The alarm didn't go off

  2. Your partner sleeps in too

And the number one reason for sleeping in:

  1. Because it's Friday and I could!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Animal Care

Over to the right of this post - or at the top right of the blog, if you're scrolling down to read this - is a link to the Animal Rescue Site.

One click over, one click there, and you help to feed shelter animals across the world.

I want to bring this to your attention right now for two reasons.

One
The site has begun a new Shelter Challenge.

Please take the time to choose a shelter in your area and vote for it every day. After you choose a shelter, it will pop up automatically and the entire process might take thirty seconds each day.

The overall shelter winner receives $100,000 for improving the lives of the animals it cares for. The grants go down from that, but there are also winners in each state. And I think in each country, but I'm not certain about that.

Two
I know we're concerned about the people of Haiti and are donating to help in that tragic situation.

When world events, especially tragic ones, occur, we tend to forget about the little everyday things.

Please don't forget about the animals during this time. They depend on us and need our help every day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Foggy

My Monday view: Foggy

Literally. It's foggy outside.

It's also a little foggy inside my head, too, because I'm still enjoying my first sips of coffee. Some new blend my live-in handyman bought. It's very good. But as the caffeine takes hold and my brain wakes up and joins me, the fog will gradually lift and the sun will return.

So with all this fog going on, I thought I'd chat about foggy writing.

Yesterday I had to go back to look for something in the first part of my manuscript. Some items had been placed in a box, and I needed to know what they were. Now - speaking of fog - you'd think I could remember this. But I wrote that bit before the holidays fried my last nerve.

If I kept an ongoing log, like I know some organized writers do, or started with a full outline, like some other organized writers, I could've looked it up. But that's way too easy.

So I scrolled back through the pages to the general area and found it. Wrote the items down on a bright pink stickie and slapped it on my desk right in front of the keyboard. I probably won't need it again, but if I do, I've got that sucker.

I digress. It's the fog.

But while I was a hundred or so pages in the past, I noticed a lot of foggy writing - assorted pronouns, wimpy verbs, adverbs trying to corrupt my real message. It was a muddled mess.

I knew these things were there because I put them there. I just didn't realize how much work I would have to do on second draft. If I can't think of the right word as I'm writing, I replace it with a pronoun that will do. Same with verbs. I move along.

But in that particular passage, the fog was darn thick and traffic was creeping along, flashers blinking.

My little foray back in time gave me a good heads-up on what I have in store next month. I just hope it's not so foggy I can't tell what I really meant.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things to make with rice:

10. Chicken and Rice Soup

  9. Rice Salad

  8. Jambalaya

  7. Fried Rice

  6. Broccoli and Rice Casserole

  5. Rice Pudding

  4. Rice Krispie Treats

  3. A few grains will keep moisture out of salt shakers

  2. A Mosaic

And the #1 thing to do with rice:

  1. Remember the acroynym for immediate care for sprains:
      Rest - Ice - Compression - Elevation

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Clumping Theory

Have you ever noticed how things seem to occur in clumps?

In the book world, these clumps are called hot trends. Like wizards, vampires, chick lit.

In life, it's more the little things.

Yesterday, I got a haircut. Three or four people I email with also either got their hair cut yesterday or within a day or two either way and had friends who were also getting haircuts in this same timeframe. None of us had mentioned it to each other before.

I've also heard this phenomenon called global consciousness or group consciousness.

Have you experienced this or noticed it happening to others or in a different way?

And how would you handle this kind of thing in fiction? I don't know if it could work. Maybe the readers would think it was too coincidental and would never happen the way we wrote it.

Or maybe we could write about a group who was studying it. Hmmm . . . maybe that will become my next WIP.

Don't steal it :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Listen

Sounds.

Right now I hear Shiner lapping water from his bowl, a flock of trainers heading out from the nearby Air Force base, Wrangler's nails tapping on the floor, and my live-in handyman opening the pantry door and mumbling to himself about breakfast.

All at once.

Yet if we're writing fiction, all the sounds our character hears would be overwhelming for the story. The same with everything she sees.

It's up to the writer to determine how to mix and match these sensory impressions to advance the story.

Sometimes we need to include everything, especially if we want to show how it contributes to the stress the character feels - as if the world is attacking her from all sides.

But most of the time one or two can describe our character's mood or add to the scene or build suspense without going hog wild.

Take the sounds I listed above.

These are all comfortable morning sounds to me. I hear them every day.

But maybe you're writing a thriller. The world is on the brink of war. The whine of jet engines would take on a whole different meaning. Counter that with the gentle lapping of water, and your character knows just how much she stands to lose.

A love story. Hearing her lover's mumbles reminds her of the words whispered in her ear the night before.

A comedy. Your character partied too hard the previous night and has a bad hangover. The lapping water is a raging storm at sea. Nails on the floor. Pounding. How much does that darn dog weigh? He's going on a diet!

And so on.

Listen . . . and be picky.

Your characters will like you for it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things that make Texas unique:

10. Great Beaches

  9. Longhorn Cattle

  8. Blue Bell Ice Cream

  7. The Hill Country

  6. Bluebonnets

  5. Our Lone Star

  4. The Alamo

  3. Texas Wine

  2. Great Mexican Food - any time, any where

And the #1 thing that makes Texas unique:

  1. The Shiner Song

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Award Time

Last week Mason Canyon over at Thoughts in Progress presented me with the Honest Scrap Award. This is the second time I've been honored with this award, the first coming from Laura Eno at A Shift in Dimensions.

I used the word honored because that's how this particular award makes me feel. Here at the Tiki Hut, I do throw a lot of scrap out there. But it's all honest. In my head/on the blog is pretty much how it works around here.

Mason changed up the Award Rules a little bit with this one:
Now to pass the baton on to deserving bloggers. There are so many it’s hard to select just a few. I would like to pass it on to the ones who have help me during these past two months of getting my feet wet in the land of blogging. Since it is my award now, I’m changing the rules a bit. I won’t require that the award is passed on, you can do so if you wish; you don’t have to link the award back to me; but 10 interesting things about yourself would be nice (since I had to come up with mine). Feel free to do as you wish with the award.
So while I'm choosing not to pass the award on at this time, I reserve the right to do so at some later time.
 
I did, however, link the award back to Mason because if you haven't yet been to Thoughts in Progress, GO. I visit every day. You'll love it.

Now to the ten things about me, maybe a little more serious than with the previous award back in September:

1. I'm very goal oriented.
2. I love my live-in handyman.
3. And my wonderful loudmouth protectors, Arf and Woof.
4. I'm not a sweets person.
5. I sometimes obsess over details.
6. It's easier for me to see the overall picture.
7. I could eat Mexican food every day.
8. It took me months to learn to drive a stick shift.
9. I giggle.
10. I love sunshine and rain.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back in the Saddle

First, I just approved a comment from Anonymous. When I looked for it to respond, I couldn't find it. So if you're reading this ... Thanks! And I'll do my best.

Now to the regular post.

As much as I love 'em, I'm holidayed out.

Last night I slept for nine straight hours and feel refreshed for the first time in weeks. I have three items still left on my agenda for today. When those are done, I can move all my manuscript notes back to my desk.

Regrouping will be slashed from a few days to a few hours, but since I've been mentally regrouping since last week, I'm good with that. Tomorrow I begin the big push to the end of the first draft.

I'm excited.

So I want to talk about a couple of things.

One, transferring excitement to our writing.

While in a perfect world it should be excitement about the characters and story, sometimes that doesn't happen. Especially in the middle of the manuscript and it's raining outside and Gramma just called to find out why you haven't been to see her. Been there.

Psych yourself up about something. Maybe it's tiny ... the laundry's done, or your favorite TV show comes on that night, or you lost half a pound. Or maybe it's big ... all the kids got great report cards, or hubby's returning from a business trip or deployment, or it's your birthday. Or maybe you make up something - come on, we write fiction!

The trick is to get excited. The excitement you feel inside transfers to your writing. You might start thinking it's pretty dumb, but after a short time at the keyboard you'll see for yourself.

The second thing I want to talk about is goals and rewards.

We're all different, so I'm going to say what works for me. If you know this won't work for you, maybe it will give you an idea for something else you think might work.

I know some writers slow down near the end. The closer they get to the finish line, the slower they go.

When I near the end of a project, I push like a crazy person. The closer I get, the harder I push. By the last week, my live-in handyman almost has to pry me out of my chair for breaks.

I like to finish things. Leaving something undone means it has to go on a new list. I like marking things off. Besides, by the time I'm at the end of a manuscript, I'm wanting to see if the characters end it the way I'd planned.

My goal for finishing this one was by Thanksgiving - so it could rest over the holidays before I tackled the editing process. If I'd been closer, I would've pushed harder, but I'm a good 20,000 words away.

Didn't happen.

Life intervened way too often.

I beat myself up if it's my own fault I don't meet a goal. But when I can't write because family or friends need help or because of emergencies of some sort, I live with it. Those things are out of my control.

I'm a control freak about myself, but not with others.

So my new goal is to finish by January 31.

And just in case I feel like goofing off, I have a reward.

A massage. And one I don't have to pay for. I received a gift certificate for one for Christmas. While I could use it now, I'll need it even more when I finish.

So that's what works for me. A strong desire to finish, a definite deadline, and a reward.

Find what works for you.

You may need to experiment, but keep trying. You'll find it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Before today's top ten, I'd like to say that 2009 was a year filled with sunshine and laughter, smiles and love for my live-in handyman and me. I hope 2010 is as wonderful for us. And for you.

Happy New Year!

Moving right along . . .

The top ten resolutions I've broken:

10. Keep a journal

  9. Learn to ski

  8. Cut back on the amount of news I read

  7. Learn to be a happy shopper

  6. Cook at least one new dish every week

  5. Keep on top of the laundry

  4. Keep our house clean

  3. Exercise three times per week

  2. Be less selfish

And the #1 resolution I've broken:

  1. Lose weight