Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

In lieu of a top ten list, let us merely take a moment of silence to reflect on the year that was 2010.


(That's a fancy way of saying I have nothing interesting enough to list.)



Happy 2011 to all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Misery of a Happy Song

Ever had a story or experience change the entire nature of a song for you?

It happened to me when Kurt Vonnegut used Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" in Mother Night. Nazis and spies and betrayal, oh my. Diana Ross will always zap me back to the morning of a heart-rending breakup. And, for no reason I can pinpoint, the song at the beginning of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sends me into reeling, anguished, superstitious panic. The song has a name. I don't want to think about it enough to remember it. I felt that way about the song before that movie existed, and the movie's theme of intentional amnesia/buried memory  just makes it worse.

Those examples are due to external associations, but I can cause the shift myself, especially since I took up writing.

I'm writing a novel, so obviously I can't actually set a chapter to music, but I do have songs that evoke scenes in my head when I hear them. One is "How Can I Be Sure" by the Young Rascals. I'd wanted to use it somehow, but it always seemed cheesy for a happy scene, verging on Eighties Musical Makeover Montage territory. Then my sister told me I had to use it. Always one to obey orders (not), I complied because I'd had a twisted idea.
Funny how making a happy waltzy song the soundtrack for the violent end to a controlling, abusive relationship changes it altogether. Why did I ever think that was a happy song? It's creepy! And paranoid! Rather threatening. And, if I listen to the singer's voice now, he sounds rather desperate, bitter, jealous.

But maybe that's just me.

I also cry my eyes out over songs like "Warmth of the Sun" and "Something". Again, my fault.

Still, seriously, look at these lyrics!

How can I be sure
In a world that's constantly changin'?
How can I be sure
Where I stand with you?

Whenever I
Whenever I am away from you
I wanna die
'cause you know I wanna stay with you

How do I know?
Maybe you're trying to use me
Flying too high can confuse me
Touch me but don't take me down
[that last bit sounds like a threat]

Whenever I
Whenever I am away from you
My alibi is tellin' people I don't care for you
Maybe I'm just hanging around
With my head up, upside down
It's a pity
I can't seem to find someone
Who's as pretty 'n' lovely as you
[sarcasm or obsession?]

How can I be sure
I really, really, really, wanna kno-o-ow
I really, really, really, wanna kno-o-ow

(Oh oh oh ...)

How's the weather?
Whether or not we're together
Together we'll see it much better
I love you, I love you forever
You know where I can be found

How can I be sure
In a world that's constantly changing?
How can I be sure
I'll be sure with you






Is it just me? ;)

Something Stupid

As I fumble my way back into writing after dealing with the holidays, a son with a bad case of toothache, and Drama in Real Life (we've come down with a bad case of The Economy over here), I thought I'd fill in the posting gaps with a little bit of nonsense I discovered in my files today. I wrote it in late October as work on my NaNoWriMo novel (about Bebe, an aging Vaudevillian) rekindled inspiration for my main novel, set in 1969.

Music plays a big part in painting my fictional worlds.

I'm sure it makes no sense to those who haven't read my novels, but just consider it a promise that I'll be back soon with something more relevant.

_____________________________________________________________

Bob Dylan and George Harrison stopped by today to say, "Hey, what the hell, man? Your main novel heard you were seeing some floozy from the '30s. What about 1969?"

I've been pining for their stupid novel, missed it so much that I was an emotional wreck at the sight of them, wanting to fling myself into their arms, but I didn't want them to see that.

I said, "What about it? Main Novel's refused to answer my calls or see me for months now. I'm tired of weeping into my pillow. I have to move on."

Bob held out a hand. "But Main Novel loves you. It just got...confused."

I turned my back.

They said, "All right, man. We didn't want to do this, but now we've got to call in The Beach Boys."

One by one, the Beach Boys filed into the room, and I faltered. They lined up behind Bob and George and gazed at me with big sad eyes. They said nothing, just hummed in quiet harmony. They knew how protective I feel toward the character they represent.

Sergio Mendes slipped through the door, apologizing for being late, said Mama Cass took too long at the diner. Looking out the window, I saw Jose Feliciano shuffling up the front walk, feeling for each crack with his white stick, and I threw out my hands.

"Okay! Okay! I admit it. I miss you and want to come back. No more!"

The sound of approaching mambo drums ceased, leaving a moment of quiet in which I could hear one last fading wail from Jimi Hendrix's guitar.

Bob nodded at the file for my primary novel and made an impatient gesture, but I shook my head.

From the back room, I could hear Hoagy Carmichael and Scott Joplin warming up on the piano, hoped they wouldn't come out here.

"It's just... You came at an awkward time. I've already got plans with my rebound prequel for the next month."

There was grousing and mumbling among the men, and I wondered if I was crazy, risking this longed-for reconciliation, but at last George said, "Okay, but if we decide we've waited long enough, you'd better be ready to drop everything and come with us."

That pissed me off. "Excuse me?"

Sergio placed a hand on George's shoulder. "He means please. Please come back, if we need you. Being dead makes George uptight."

I relented. Nodding, I showed my guests to the door.

At the foot of the front steps, George turned back. "You're just lucky we didn't have to involve that Maria Cortez."

A voice behind the hedgerow said, "It's Marisa Elena Talbot Cortese, you bastard!"

One last beat from the mambo drummers sent the men scrambling.

I closed the door and patted Antonio Carlos Jobim's head. He'd been hiding his face in a pillow, feeling awkward because he's in both books. He asked which book I was going to do.

I said, "I don't know. Might get ugly if Bebe goes to battle with Marisa."

But, hey, it would make a hell of a story.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Literary Christmas Genius

Proof that my sister is a creative genius.

Oz gift theme

This is the third year in a row that she's created a literary theme for her gifts. I love them.

This year was The Wizard of Oz.

  • Ruby slippers (literally slippers)

  • poppy seeds

  • lions and tigers and bears (oh my)

  • emerald earrings (green crystal & silver, she made them)

  • apples (a la the angry trees in the movie)

  • a silver heart frame (tin man)

  • a book of word puzzles (scarecrow/brain)

  • a bottle of Professor Marvel's Liquid Courage for the Cowardly Lion (mini wine bottle with a custom label she created)

  • Wizard & Gale's Wicked Witch Repellant (bottled water with a custom label she created)

  • a gingerbread village to represent home


Last year was Alice in Wonderland.



  • tea

  • teacup

  • drink me (soda)

  • eat me (a cupcake, not shown, eaten)

  • pea soup (more pepper)

  • marzipan (in lieu of mushrooms)


The inaugural year, 2008, she did Little House on the Prairie.



  • a "tin cup"

  • sticks of candy

  • little heart-shaped, golden-brown cake

  • a shiny new penny


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Three-Scarf Weekend

A visit from the in-laws, Christmas pageants for two kids, and a three-scarf weekend means zero words written. Well, nearly zero. I did have a few ideas while knitting scarf number two, so I recorded those in my Ideas file. That ideas file is going to be thicker than the OED soon, but much less useful.

It will be interesting to see the scarf/word tally at the end of the holidays. I'm looking forward to some family time, so I'll bet the scarves win. Or maybe the dark horse, cookies, will dive in and take the crown. Yeah. That's more likely.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Love the Smell of Inspiration in the Morning

The smell... You know that smell of old books? Smells like...a short story.

I've always heard it, how you'll be going about your business, and one day something smacks you across the face, giving you a story to tell where once there was none. Ah, inspiration. I've written hundreds of thousands of words, had bursts of inspiration regarding stories I was already in the midst of telling, but altogether new stories just don't bloom that way for me.

I had a minor taste of it last year when my husband, who was fetching a late night snack from the grocery store, accidentally butt-dialed me. At first, all I could hear was NPR -- only, I didn't realize it was NPR. It sounded like my husband was discussing drugs, kidnapping, and smuggling with some woman. A Coen-esque short story bloomed from that, but I've never gone further than the outline.

Today, however, I was reading the blog of John Gall, the book designer who led the 30 Covers, 30 Days project for NaNoWriMo, and he had a link to this...

...an artist, Rachael Morrison, whose project is to go through MOMA and smell each and every one of their 300,000 books, cataloging their unique scent.

Holy...

I LOVE old book smell. I worked at a circa-1970s library as a teenager, and every time someone would return a book from the much older main library downtown, I'd know immediately and snatch it up to hug it and breathe in its musty scent. Aromatherapy for the hopelessly insane.

I also have an odd love for lists and cataloging.

More than that, however, I could see a woman going about this job, ledger in hand, saw the story unfolding. It has nothing at all to do with the real woman, of course, or the MOMA's library, or anything else. But...ah... It became more difficult not to dive into a story than to put it off. So I wrote my first short story in at least a decade. I'm thrilled! And so grateful to Ms. Morrison and her eccentric art project!
~***~

Tell me I'll have this kind of flash again. Tell me where you find inspiration or the odd places it's found you, whether for writing or art or any sort of project.

Friday, December 10, 2010

On Snippets & Scarves

I like to knit. I can knit like the wind (or...something that actually, um, knits) as long as it's in a straight line. I only find time to knit about once a year, so I lose all my knitting wisdom and have to start over from scratch. But man am I good at those long fringed rectangles I call scarves.

Since NaNoWriMo ended, I've transferred my compulsive energy into pounding out stitches instead of words. At first, I felt guilty. It seemed like procrastination or escape from my stories, but I realized the other day that it’s actually more of a meditation tool. Instead of sitting blankly before my laptop with nothing more to show at the end of the day than a few lame Facebook posts and useless knowledge gleaned from StumbleUpon, I now have a fuzzy and functional work of art and all the purls of wisdom (yeah, had to go there) I gained from each stitch. (Insert weaving stories comment here.)

I think it's my inner editor who knits while the rest of me goes into self-hypnosis, listening to my novel's soundtrack and daydreaming the stories I want to write.

Inspiration is like a cat. Chase it, and it runs, skirts around the sofa, shudders as you touch it, then spends an hour cleaning your stink off its fur. Okay, maybe not that last part. However, if you’re doing something else, inspiration is all around your ankles, slithering and striking its forehead against your leg, begging for attention.

And inspiration, like an ornery cat, loves a wiggling ball of yarn.

Now I just have to get back to the writing so that my prose doesn’t suffer the fate of my knitting skills.
~***~

Anyone have other suggestions for productive procrastination? Because I don't want to go back to alphabetizing the lint on my living room carpet...
~***~

My NaNoWriMo novel is taking a hiatus right now, but I've been putting a few scenes out there for the world to sample. I have three sample chapters on my writing site, and, despite my terror, I read 500 words of a chapter to my regional NaNo group this past weekend. No one hurled rotten tomatoes. I'll take that as a good sign.

I'm also submitting a 500-word snippet for the following blogfest (click image for link):
As always, it comes with the terror of showing my writing and the worse terror of putting it out there and getting nothing back except the faint, sparse sound of crickets.

I look forward to reading others' excerpts, though.

(P.S. - Went to the happiest amusement park on earth again yesterday for my birthday. Thursdays trump Saturdays, every time. People were thoughtful, polite, friendly, and said crazy things like please and thank you and sorry. Also, my soda was topped by a birthday candle floating on a lemon slice, it being my special day and all. I've never blown out the candle on a Diet Coke before.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to Have a Nifty Super Duper Swell Time (Amusement Park Edition)

In this tough economy, sometimes we just need to get away, escape for a while with the family. One fleeting, magical day at an amusement park is a splurge, but well worth it if you follow a few simple tips to maximize not only your joy but that of those around you.
  1. Decide to forgo the lockers in favor of a backpack. Make sure that you stuff that sucker full of coats until you're twice as deep as you normally are. And this is the important part -- FORGET ALL ABOUT IT. No, really. Never think about it again. Only then can you play the SUPER DUPER LAUREL & HARDY GAME. If you know you're batting people like ping pong balls every time you turn around or smashing the person on the other side of the rope every time you step backward, then it just becomes malicious, and that just isn't you. You're A Good Person. That exempts you from ever being the bad guy in any situation. You may make the occasional innocent mistake, but if anyone ever mentions it, remember -- they're being jerks, trying to make you feel bad for their own entertainment, and need to lighten up. A blank stare should convey this message clearly.
  2. You know those rules about flash photography? Those are just for all those other people. Other people are stupid. You know what you're doing, and once won't hurt because you're A Good Person. Besides, your camera phone just won't get a good picture of a hairy, plastic, life-size pirate without the flash, and then what will you frame and hang over the fireplace for decades to come, warming the hearts of all who visit?
  3. Bring a stroller. If you don't own one, rent one. No. Rent FOUR. Make sure that most of the time no one uses one, but insist on pushing them everywhere anyway in the crookedest possible path. BONUS POINTS for letting your cutesy wootsy toddler push them. It's ADORABLE, and people don't mind being trapped behind you because they get to watch junior, and all their hearts will grow three sizes.

    Remember, a stroller is a magical ENTITLEMENT GRANTER and can be used as a weapon, every offense automatically deemed "an accident" or "in self defense". If anyone gets mad that you slammed the front end of one into their leg or ran over grandma's foot, you must give them the stare of righteous righteousness, the I'VE GOT A BABY ON BOARD AND I'M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT stare. And if you stop suddenly, as you are so entitled to do, and the people behind you trip over you and slightly jar your stroller on their way to cracking their heads on the happiest pavement on earth, make sure you shriek -- not in sympathy but in outrage. How dare they jostle your child in the slightest as they die? Why, next they'll expect you to stop texting as you steer your stroller with your pinkies.

  4. People may claim that it's for the greater good if you ask a few family members to walk behind someone else, narrowing the group, but that's ridiculous. Everyone knows that we are all equals and must walk abreast through the park, never yielding in the slightest to oncoming traffic. Walk proudly! Walk slowly! Let your eyes go unfocused! Then and only then can park guests enjoy WAVE AFTER WAVE OF SOMNAMBULANT ROCKETTES. Tease them by never quite getting to the part where you kick your legs -- unless there are people right in front of you, then encourage your children to spontaneously practice kung fu and karate.

    This method is greatly aided by the next.

  5. If they are actually passing out valium at the park entrance, as it so often seems, get some! Get heaps. All the cool kids are doing it, and they'll look down on you if you don't. So, if you forget, just do your best to act stoned so no one catches on. Zombies are red hot in popular culture right now. You can eat the rational brain right out of a person if you zombie just so. If a non-zombie has the gall to remind you of what they're supposed to do to kill a zombie, then they're just being jerks, they don't get it, and obviously forgot their valium. Do your duty and look down on them.
  6. You will feel that you are slightly off your desired path from time to time. The best thing to do in this instance is to STOP DEAD IN YOUR TRACKS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Do not pull over to the side. Just start shouting, "I thought it was that way," or, "Where's the map?" Argue about that for a while. Never ever look up to see the effect this has on traffic. After all, everyone else is just a cardboard cut-out extra in the movie entitled, YOU, MAMA'S SPECIAL FLOWER, ARE AT AN AMUSEMENT PARK, so they can be ignored. But kindly do remember to fling your arms out from time to time, pointing in different directions, or you won't get to feel the lovely massage that comes of socking someone's cardboard cut-out grandma in the teeth or poking the eye out of someone else's child.Which leads us to the next rule.
  7. Children must be neither seen nor heard. If you have somewhere to go, even if it's a non-emergency,  just plow right through them as though they aren't there. If a child is standing right next to a rope, and you see your friends up ahead, catching up to them is far more important than that child -- besides, those sissies can't fight back. Shove the child, shove the rope so its reverberations take out the ears of several more children, and run like Forrest Gump. If you don't see you've hurt someone, IT NEVER HAPPENED, and you remain A Good Person.
  8. Just as tips are discouraged on cruise ships, "please," "thank you," and, "sorry," are considered in poor taste at amusement parks. If you ever say one of those things, especially at the end of a day, you may see the other person start to weep with shock and gratitude, and that's just gross.
  9. FOR PARK EMPLOYEES: Install lockers on one side of your main street, put all the restaurants on the other side, and then, just as dinner time, sunset, and sharp drops in temperature intersect, CLOSE THE STREET TO ALL PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC. Don't have a parade. Just cord it off, add people waving neon sticks, and direct all the freezing diners who want to get at their coats all the way back to the park entrance, shoulder to shoulder like cattle -- or, in this case, frozen hamburger. Shout at them, put down orange cones in no particular pattern, make it very dark, and shake more lights in their faces so that half accidentally leave the park. Force the rest to repeat their fight up the other side to the lockers. If you can, hire lots of giggling teenagers (drunk on their day of autonomy), and thick-necked men (who've had it up to HERE, unlike the rest of the guests) to shove their way through the crowd for maximum pain and indignation.

    Advanced Method: When the biggest glut of visitors has been put through The Stampede Ride and are in sight, suddenly open the street for easy crossing , just to kick 'em in the gut.

  10. The most important rule of a visit to an amusement park: Hold on to each and every grudge you develop during the day, forget that you were sometimes guilty, too, and then post a rant on a blog that only fourteen yawning crickets read.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How Do You Fly in Your Dreams?

My husband and I have been talking about the different methods people use to fly in their dreams. I haven't heard a repeat yet.

My husband flies by bounding higher and higher until he sometimes gets too high and is afraid to come back down.

Me? I jump and pedal my feet in the air. Madly. With the success of a chicken. It's only good for jumping over puddles, really. Not much more. However, once in a blue moon I fly using something like a kiddie swing, complete with chains that rise to nowhere but serve as rudders. Then I'm up in that sky and ready for adventure, man.

I can also jump at the top of long spiral staircases and then hover-glide all the way down without touching a single stair. But that's in real life. ;)

How about you? Tell me in the comments below:
  1. Do you fly in your dreams?
  2. HOW do you fly in your dreams?
  3. What pitfalls and advantages come from your particular method?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's December

What do I do now?

Well, the first thing is to annoy you delight you with excerpts of The View from Upper High Hog on my writing site, where it joins such treasures as excerpts from last year's NaNoWriMo novel and the latest draft of my main work in progress. (It's truly a rainbow-splendid candyland of amateur writing, and who doesn't love that?)

Next on my list is sleep. And then I'll try to break the habit of consuming mass quantities of gummy bears.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Covers 30 Days - Final Version

All thirty covers are in! (The last one substituting for the previously blank Day 10.) Some fabulous work this year. I've spent a long time staring at each one and enjoying.

Click image for larger version



Also, here's the usual way, starting with Monday, November first


Lastly, a traditional calendar view (Sunday through Saturday)

For a full list of titles, authors, synopses, and designers, go to NaNoWriMo's Index of Covers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Assail Him, Impale Him, with Monster Truck Force

Ten points if you can summon the lyric that precedes that. It's one of my all-time favorites. It's awesome.

Anyway, still racing and pacing and plotting the course, still fighting and biting and riding on my horse.

Stuff.

Mind's fried.

Wrote 8055 words today. Might be able to knock a few more out before I lose all control of my dwindling sanity.

Go me.

Edited for update: Finished the night at 8721 for the day, 41,194 words altogether for the month.

 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Scrambling & Flailing!

Only a few more days until the end of NaNoWriMo! I still have 22,000 words to go! Looks like I'll be sliding across that finish line bloodied and bruised, if I do so at all. People have been verifying their wins for days now. Last year, I was long past the 50k hurdle. I kind of hate Last Year Me.

Ah, well. A story's not much without conflict, eh?

Go me! Aiming at 70% completion by the end of the night (35k). Currently at 58%.  Eep!

Ended at 65% (32473) -- not bad, considering I started the day at 53%.


And this is why we hate Last Year Me

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dumb Dora Is So Dumb...

Today, I realized that my children have no idea why I reply to their assertions that something is sooo [whatever] by shouting, "HOW [WHATEVER] IS IT?"

They've never heard of The Match Game. Heck, most adults in their twenties and thirties probably never heard of it. But, in my head, I'm hearing a studio audience roar it in unison as Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers snicker drunkenly in their upper tier seats and Richard Dawson tries to hit on everyone in America from front row center. Someone was always smoking, too.  That's how old these memories are.

Hi, I'm the Dennis Miller of my own household. Which...in and of itself...is an obscure reference... Sigh.

Old Mama was sooo old [that's your cue], she went to blog about something interesting but instead wound up {BLANK}.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dear Johnny

I'm about to turn off the lights, listen to the rain harmonizing with my laptop fan, and try to sleep. I give up. No great sprint will take this underdog to the front of the NaNoWriMo pack today. I just need my rest.

Therefore, I ask you, dear Johnny Mathis -- nay, I beg -- will you please put a cork in it? I know you are a talented and genial entertainer, and I know Pandora kindly installed "Small World" and "What Will My Mary Say" in my brain to help with my novel writing, but they left said songs on infinite loop and turned the volume up to eleven (it's one louder). So, my dear Johnny Mathis, I'm just saying...STFU!

That is all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here's how the NaNoWriMo 30 Covers, 30 Days project is going so far. I'm fascinated. It's doubly amazing, considering each designer gets less than 24 hours to review, design, and execute a cover.

UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR FINAL VERSION (all 30 covers)


(Day 29 below)


What do you think? Have a favorite? (You know I do. ;) )




[caption id="attachment_746" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Click image for larger version (1200x1259)"][/caption]






Click here for full-size image


For a full list of titles, authors, and designers, go to NaNoWriMo's Index of Covers.

[I'll be updating this until November 30th, so stop by again to see the latest collection.]

Updated 11/29/2010

And Yet, This Is Better

"If you go out in the woods today, you'd better not go alone. It's lovely out in the woods today, but safer to stay at home."
Yesterday, gravity quadrupled in the Untitlement household.  I tried to use a blanket to hold me aloft, but it just shoved me to the couch and held me there.

I curled up, eyes closed, wondering, "Is my heart slowing? No, it's speeding up. Or is it slowing? Or speeding! Wait, am I breathing? Am I breathing now?" I couldn't feel my heart beating. Can I ever feel it, though? If I stopped trying to breathe, would I still be doing it? And who did I call first, if this continued -- 911 or my kids' school to tell them I'd be late picking up my sons?

It was just a trippy hour -- my first experience with the migraine drug, Imitrex. But I will say this -- the pain was gone.  And since I've considered having my head amputated while in the throes of a headache, it was well worth the angst.

I'd like to read about Imitrex online, but the internet is useless in that it contains all answers -- as in it will tell you both yes and no to the same question. A few maybes will be in there. A few others will link any topic in creation to Obama (insert snotty voice) or to Bush before him (same snotty voice). And every medical site, from Joe-Bob's Fixin' Hut to the Mayo Clinic, brings everything down to one unavoidable prognosis: You're going to die.

Migraines? Could be nothing, could be you're gonna die.

The treatment for migraines? It might help, but after Eastern and Western medicine wage a battle with swords and muskets and laser guns to prove that nothing really works and that everyone is lying about it, it all comes down to the fact that you're probably going to die because of the meds.



I'm tellin' you, brother. I'd have made a better Aragorn.
I went to the great authority, Facebook, and a few friends contacted me to tell me it will all be okay. I love that. Being told that everything will be okay has to be one of the best feelings on earth. It's even better now than when I was a kid. Why can't the internet tell you that? Oh. Wait. It does. Right next to the page that says, "What! Are you kidding? We're screwed! Just look at Obama and Bush and Rasputin and Captain Kangaroo, and what they did with all the deadbeats and railroad tycoons and my tax dollars!"

Anyway, I'm still here, and I even managed to squeeze in my daily quota of NaNo words, although every last one of them is crap.

I will leave you today with these words: It's okay (or not). Everything is going to be fine (or it isn't). And it's all [insert name of choice]'s fault.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In the Red

I'm in the red for NaNoWriMo. Two entire days without a single word. I plan  to get back on track on Monday, but the weekend is lost. I drove an hour south for the So You Think You Can Dance tour last night, and I'll be driving an hour north to see it again tonight.

"What's that, you say? You want to write? You just try it!"
"We have bleepin' superpowers. We'll fly to your house and jete all over your laptop."

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Title in Lights!

First there were fireworks, then there were stars. The stars turned into a sea of cartoon creatures dancing a jig, and now they're joining up to form a chorus line.

In short, YAY!!!

Designer Gabriele Wilson chose my NaNoWriMo novel for the 30 Days, 30 Covers challenge, and I love what she did.


The View from Upper High Hog, by Caroline Bridges:

New York, 1954. Jazz Age, Atomic Age, Space Age — meh. The Great Betty Noire (a.k.a. Bebe Rosenthal) figures she’s seen it all. Life on the big time Vaudeville circuit gave this broad an extra broad perspective, not to mention the chutzpa to fight. She’s been through wars one and two and enough husbands to form a chorus line. She’s up for anything.

Therefore, when her latest husband leaves her widowed with no further claim to the cottage on his wealthy employer’s estate, Bebe knows just what to do. Her fans must be clamoring after her long hiatus. She’ll call her agent and get back to her proper place in the world — the stage.

Unfortunately, yet a few more things seem to have gone on hiatus since last she saw Manhattan: the Age of Vaudeville and her ability to find a role.

With no money to speak of and nowhere to go, Bebe finds herself lured by an offer from her late husband’s employer: Give up her cottage, and they’ll give her a job with a handsome wage, lots of time off, and travel. She just has to be ready to start the next day. Sounds great for a gal who loves her freedom!

Then she finds herself herded onto an Arizona-bound train with her previously undisclosed responsibility shoved into her arms. To Bebe’s horror, she realizes it’s her employer’s newly-orphaned niece, Tatiana, a four-year-old who draws attention with her crazy orange hair, ugly duckling face, and constant babbling in Russian, a dead giveaway of her Auntie Kate’s secret past on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

That Aunt Katya — Bebe figures she’s a smart one, killing two broads with one stone, setting her burdens adrift on an ice floe. Thus, Bebe begins her new life as hapless guardian to an alien life form in an alien land — the dust and neon planet of 1950s Route 66. She’s caught between the needs of the child, a feud between Aunt Katya and the equally hostile headmistress of the child’s school, and her own urgent need to escape what she dubs The Jackalope Circuit.

In a series of misadventures, including stalking famous musicians, sending hate mail to Betty Hutton for stealing her schtick, and and trying to form a theater company using the residents of a flea-bag motel, Bebe struggles single mindedly to reclaim her former glory, independence, and relevance in the world.

Meanwhile, the newly-renamed child, Elizabeth, looks on, trying to make sense of this equally alien new world and longing for Bebe to give her the stability, home, and love she’s never had. Against the backdrop of the burgeoning Cold War, the two dream of their own versions of happily ever after, or Upper High Hog, as Bebe puts it. And Bebe fights against what she considers the scariest age of all—old age.

Gabriele Wilson is an art director, designer and teacher at Parsons School of Design. She currently runs her design studio in New York City and her new year’s resolution is to finally design her website: gabrielewilson.com.
The View from Upper High Hog, by Caroline Bridges:
New York, 1954. Jazz Age, Atomic Age, Space Age — meh. The Great Betty Noire (a.k.a. Bebe Rosenthal) figures she’s seen it all. Life on the big time Vaudeville circuit gave this broad an extra broad perspective, not to mention the chutzpa to fight. She’s been through wars one and two and enough husbands to form a chorus line. She’s up for anything.

Therefore, when her latest husband leaves her widowed with no further claim to the cottage on his wealthy employer’s estate, Bebe knows just what to do. Her fans must be clamoring after her long hiatus. She’ll call her agent and get back to her proper place in the world — the stage.

Unfortunately, yet a few more things seem to have gone on hiatus since last she saw Manhattan: the Age of Vaudeville and her ability to find a role.

With no money to speak of and nowhere to go, Bebe finds herself lured by an offer from her late husband’s employer: Give up her cottage, and they’ll give her a job with a handsome wage, lots of time off, and travel. She just has to be ready to start the next day. Sounds great for a gal who loves her freedom!

Then she finds herself herded onto an Arizona-bound train with her previously undisclosed responsibility shoved into her arms. To Bebe’s horror, she realizes it’s her employer’s newly-orphaned niece, Tatiana, a four-year-old who draws attention with her crazy orange hair, ugly duckling face, and constant babbling in Russian, a dead giveaway of her Auntie Kate’s secret past on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

That Aunt Katya — Bebe figures she’s a smart one, killing two broads with one stone, setting her burdens adrift on an ice floe. Thus, Bebe begins her new life as hapless guardian to an alien life form in an alien land — the dust and neon planet of 1950s Route 66. She’s caught between the needs of the child, a feud between Aunt Katya and the equally hostile headmistress of the child’s school, and her own urgent need to escape what she dubs The Jackalope Circuit.

In a series of misadventures, including stalking famous musicians, sending hate mail to Betty Hutton for stealing her schtick, and and trying to form a theater company using the residents of a flea-bag motel, Bebe struggles single mindedly to reclaim her former glory, independence, and relevance in the world.

Meanwhile, the newly-renamed child, Elizabeth, looks on, trying to make sense of this equally alien new world and longing for Bebe to give her the stability, home, and love she’s never had. Against the backdrop of the burgeoning Cold War, the two dream of their own versions of happily ever after, or Upper High Hog, as Bebe puts it. And Bebe fights against what she considers the scariest age of all—old age.

Gabriele Wilson is an art director, designer and teacher at Parsons School of Design. She currently runs her design studio in New York City and her new year’s resolution is to finally design her website: gabrielewilson.com.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Milepost

We're ten days into November. One-third of the way to the finish line. One-third of the way through my story, too.

My word count is 15,821 (as of this writing) -- just a little ahead of the curve (because I'm not counting today yet).

Posted an excerpt yesterday from the start of Act II. You can read it by clicking the Novel Info tab on this page.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

If NaNo-ing Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right

A lot of irrational things annoy me.
  • The term "animal style" at In-N-Out
  • Humidity
  • Crisp, overdone foley sounds in movies or television, like "sexy" whispered voice-overs on ads, crumpling paper/plastic, or the sound of footsteps. (Wanted to Hulk out every time they amplified the tap shoes in So You Think You Can Dance last season. Ugh! I'm making fists just thinking about it!)

I'm sure I annoy people with the things I do, too -- like turning everything into a F*R*I*E*N*D*S reference (just annoyed myself by typing the asterisks between the letters) and, now, apparently, by being a part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I really don't understand the hostility. I get the stress from agents whose inboxes strain beneath the weight of the naïve each December, but most participants know better than to query their raw product, and most of the criticisms I read are not from agents but from writers. Perhaps they're tired of hearing about it. Perhaps they're evil. Perhaps it's just the sound of the word NaNoWriMo that makes their skin crawl the way the word dander freaks out my mom. Maybe you all want to slaughter me for my poor grammar and sentence fragments. We'll deal with that later. Right now, I just want to explain why I participate in NaNoWriMo.

Let us begin with a F*R*I*E*N*D*S reference.

In The One Where Phoebe Runs (video here), Rachel is embarrassed by Phoebe's headlong running style and shuns her, not wanting to seem ridiculous by association. She doesn't get the value or appeal of such a thing. Phoebe explains that it brings back the fun of running, the joy from when you were a kid and ran so fast you thought your legs would fall off.

NaNoWriMo, to me, is like running until you think your legs are going to fall off -- and loving it.

When I first began writing in grade school, I did it because it was fun and made my friends laugh. When I took up fiction writing again as an adult, I did it because I'd had a really tough couple of years with unemployment, the loss of my dad, and my toddler's bout with melanoma. Writing was therapy. Writing my heart out made me feel happy again. Alive again. Put color back in the world. I still love it. I still enjoy it. But now I spend most of the year fussing over it, getting serious, running it through workshops and critique groups, agonizing over every word, stressing at deadlines. Worrying about what people will think.

Then November and NaNoWriMo arrive with arm-flailing abandon, reminding me to let go every once in a while,  feel alive again. Join the galloping, galumphing, windmilling parade.

Writing is usually a solitary pursuit. Lonely. Even when you belong to a class or a critique group, you’re all pursuing different goals, are at different points in your stories, and you’re there to get down to business and be serious. These are not bad things. Most of us belong to writing groups and are grateful for the resulting improvement. NaNoWriMo, however, is different. In November, writing becomes a social activity. You no longer feel alone. You're in it together. Writers from all over the world congregate on one site to crash its servers celebrate the joy of writing until our legs fall off. We're allowed to cheer each other on, we bring back the joy, and we walk away with a stitch in our sides from laughing. And sometimes a couple of new friends.

Do I think this is the way to go full time?

No.

Do I think I'm there to write a masterpiece?

Heck no. It might happen, but I'm not concerned about that.

I'm just there to run my legs off and rediscover the magic. I want to put aside my inhibitions, limber up my twisted imagination, and fall in love with what I do again. When I'm doing NaNoWriMo right, I know it because I once again feel that heady rush of new love. I can't wait to get back to the story, I think about it day and night, and I (obviously) can't stop talking about it.

I wasted too many years of my life not knowing or enjoying who I was because I was too busy toeing the line, forcing myself into herd mentality because the moment I stepped out of the mold, the Eternal Junior High Mean Girls of the world were ready to taunt me, torment me. Shun me. The world would see I was "crazy." As much as I hated to be noticed and labeled as a brain (You're such a brain. I hate you!), I feared the least deviation from perfection and hard work because that would expose that I was a sham, an idiot, and thus subject to more ridicule.

So I need NaNoWriMo's help to let go of that. I like being allowed -- encouraged -- to be BAD, to be WRONG, and to see that no harm will come from it. In fact, a lot of good comes from it. Being able to laugh at yourself is a major skill in life.

People complain that those of us who are celebrating writing "crap" are wasting an opportunity to do something serious and valuable and "good". I disagree. First of all, one man's good is another man's crap, and vice versa. Second, I think they're missing the point of what this month means to people like me. This isn't my only opportunity to write. I write all year long. I revise, rewrite, and edit all year long. I treat my primary novel with the care and seriousness of a parent. I don't go into NaNoWriMo with the aim of producing the next great classic. I don't pose for a woodcut portrait on Barnes & Noble's walls.  I use NaNoWriMo to revive my creative energy so that I can go on to strive for a masterpiece,  whether through extensive rewrites and editing of my NaNo novel or through starting something new with the momentum I gain. It's a workout.

I should have a better concluding paragraph, but I don't. I'm sleepy and have thousands of words to write before I rest. That makes me happy. So I leave you with the following -- a dramatic recreation of how I feel about the sound of crackling paper and amplified tap shoes, brought to you by Ms. Phoebe Buffay and Ms. Pacman.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Punchy

Ah, Wikipedia. How happy you make me with your captioning.



The next bit wouldn't be funny if I wasn't procrastinating from something important. Plus, the above caption weakened my natural immunity to such things.




From the entry "Sidecar (cocktail)" on Wikipedia.com.


I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, & Doggone It, People Like Me!

Day three of NaNoWriMo, and things are going reasonably well. I'm on schedule, no matter what the site claims.



The View from Upper High Hog has 3923 words, and I hope to get Bebe talking some more this afternoon so the NaNoWriMo stats page will stop taunting me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Method Writing

Story set in the 1950s

+

Era-appropriate music

+

This dress


=

Method Writing

(If I could smoke or drink, maybe I'd do that, too.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

{Insert Whooping & Hollering & Cartwheels & Somersaults}

A miserable week just got much brighter!

I just received the coveted email announcing that my NaNoWriMo novel has been selected for the semi-final round of 30 Covers in 30 Days.

Wheeeee!
Hello,

We are excited to let you know that your 2010 NaNoWriMo novel may be receiving a cover designed by an amazing designer. Our design dream team has agreed to try to bash out 30 NaNoWriMo book covers in November as part of our "30 Covers, 30 Days" project, which you can read about in the official forum: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3699349.  We’ve listed the designers participating here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3700248

We loved your title and synopsis. If you give us the okay, we'll send them to the designer team, and the designers may use them to create a cover design for your novel-in-progress (we say “may” because we’re sending the designers a few options to choose from).  Plots will be sent throughout the month, so be sure to stay on pace with your word count!

Every year, professional designers donate their time to create covers for thirty of the tens of thousands of novels born of the contest. I've been coveting one for ages! Not only does it feel awesome to know that people are looking at my work, but I'm in love with book design. As big a reader as I am, I've bought many books just because I loved the cover so much, including my Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus with a retro yellow design. [Edited to add that Kelly Blair, the designer of said thesaurus, is one of the designers for this contest. Spooky!  I had no idea when I first posted this.]

Now it's down to ninety titles. Each designer gets three to choose from. I looked through the list of designers, and they are amazing, indeed. Lots of eye candy and blogs to add to my Google Reader.

I don't know when I last smiled so much. I may not be selected for the final round, but this feels wonderful.

I think it even cured my headache.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Challenge These Two Items to a Race

No!

(Anthropologie 2010, "Poni Sweater," $328)


NO!!!!!!!!!!!!




But together?

Hmm...

YES!!!

Now I just need a crazy old lady hat and skirt or pair of chaps to complete the look.

(Unlike the crazy sweater, the crazy shoes almost interest me. I feel the insanity serves a possibly compelling function there. On the other hand, I can't even wear flip flops due to the horrors caused by having things between my toes. I'm almost nauseous thinking about these.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm a Bad Influence

My children have joined the Middle Earth side of the force. This makes me happier than I should admit.



My little hobbit refused to wear the hairy feet that came with his costume, but can you blame him?



Even Frodo and Sam look horrified, peering at the monstrosities from behind a wall. I think I'll hang them in the back of a closet to scare people. No Narnia in my wardrobes. Just dead halfling feet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Bellowing of Crickets

I spent the last four days in the clutches of a crushing sinus headache. At one point, while climbing out of the car, I realized I must look like Patsy or Edina from Absolutely Fabulous, staggering, bent, squinting, and clutching a drink. In my case, it was Diet Coke, darling, and I didn't have smeared lipstick and rumpled party clothes, but I'll bet my hair was plenty askew. And I was holding my keys like Patsy holds her cigarette.

I really should call a doctor about these things, but when I'm ill, I can't remember or bear to perform such superhuman feats as think or dial a phone. (Do people still say dial?) When I'm better, I forget -- in large part because I'm terrified the thing will return just by thinking about it or speaking its name.

So my headaches are like Voldemort (Don't say that name!), only they have a nose (being of and related to my sinuses). And Ralph Fiennes is nowhere to be seen. Alas.

But now a break! A tentative moment of clarity.

I've enjoyed my reprieve by spending the evening eating gummy bears and reading P.G. Wodehouse. It's my first foray into Wooster & Jeeves -- at least as a reader. I shelved the books over and over again in the various libraries and bookstores of my employment. If I didn't know who wrote them, I'd know his or her last name started with a letter at the end of the alphabet because I can still see where they sat on the long wall of fiction at one particular store which we shall refer to as Barns & Stables.

I can't remember to get a medical solution to debilitating pain, but I can remember where individual books were shelved fifteen years ago. And the lyrics to obscure Ambrosia songs I haven't heard since I was in the single digits but which are now playing faintly over the speakers at a loud brew pub.

Anyway, lots of laughs from the books...

  • On Jeeves' seeming ability to appear as if from thin air (apparate): "I've got a cousin who's what they call a Theosophist, and he says he's often nearly worked the thing himself, but couldn't quite bring it off, probably owing to having fed in his boyhood on the flesh of animals killed in anger and pie." (Those last five words got me.)
  • On a trip away from Manhattan: "The days down on Long island have forty-eight hours in them; you can't get to sleep at night because of the bellowing of the crickets."

One week until NaNoWriMo. Gots me a book on Vaudeville. I'll do a little light research tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Woke Last Night to the Sound of Thunder

I fell asleep last night to the sound of neighbors playing bass drums and rolling boulders down the street. This is a Monday night ritual, although most call it wheeling three mammoth waste cans to the curb.

My dreams were fitful since I'd gone to bed feeling sick, and when I heard someone bowling beneath my bed, it seemed about right. It scared me, but it fit the mood. Took a moment to realize that, hey, that's not right. Husband eventually discovered that one of our apparating mice apparated onto a tupperware full of sugar and knocked it out of a cabinet to the floor where it then rolled across the tile. I sleep just above the kitchen. Thanks mice (who are obviously in league with the ants).

Thusly awake at an ungodly hour, I discovered there was real thunder, too. I watched the rapid, flickering lightning that usually occurs only in horror movies, listened to distant thunder, and then the inevitable happened:

The Depths of Despair.

I believe the great Sir Elton John said it best when he declared, "It's four o'clock in the morning. Dammit!"

It was five, but same difference. Just as many Dementors on the loose.

A song crept into my head that used to play a lot on the classic rock channel when I was in college:
I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off, I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves

...When autumn's closing in

The verse follows a crescendo of exulting over being young and restless and bold, and it seems to be him as a middle-aged man looking back. I thought it was kind of sad when I was twenty-three. At forty, it's kind of tragic. At least, it's tragic at 5 AM, and it set me off in reeling despair about age and wasted time and doors closing and no CTRL-Z/Undo.

Bob Seger eventually gave way to Pink Floyd. Yesterday, I hurtled along the road with my five-year-old in the backseat enjoying Dark Side of the Moon, so the lyrics to "Time" were readily available to my nighttime brain.
Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

In the wee hours, a lyric can seem like an epiphany, a message crafted just for you. And even if you wake up later that morning and most of its poignancy is lost, even if it's lost all meaning like those dreams with ideas you think will be brilliant that turn out to be gibberish, some of the emotion remains.

I need to get writing to burn off some of the irritating angst. I blame Bebe. In trying to put myself in her head while plotting Upper High Hog, I seem to have opened a few dark little doors in my own life. Let's just call it inspiration that I can use in my story.

It's a dangerous thing, waking before the sun. Too easy to see what lurks in the shadows when you aren't blinded by the light.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Feel So Alone

Am I really in such a small minority? Are 99% of NaNoWriMo novelists really writing fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian/vampire stuff? (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are dystopian sci-fi vampires.)

But really. It's getting scary. I have no right to feel put off since I'm the kid who wouldn't buy or check out a book unless it had ghost or magic or witch or some such in the title. I'm the grown woman wearing an officially licensed Lord of the Rings "Rivendell" ring. (Should I admit that publicly?) (Or that I have Gollum, Minas Tirith, and the Watchers of Rauros on my bookshelf?) (Shh, Caroline. Shh.)

Maybe I'm just bitter because I want to dive in and play on the message boards, too. But unless you're writing about dystopian futuristic societies of vampires who go to high school and fall in love, find out that they're the long-lost heirs to a mysterious kingdom that's under attack, then overturn the government and their cyborgs before blasting off into space to save the universe from psychic copper-plated mechanical men, all of whom have names that seem deeply rooted in Finnish and Welsh...

Lost track of my point there.

Anyway, I'm probably just jealous because it's the kind of book I should be writing, have always imagined myself writing.

Most of the protagonists (including mine, sigh) have red hair. Gotta watch out. I dye my hair any further, I might get sucked into a fictional adventure (of dystopian unicorn princesses with top-notch sword-fighting skills who fight vampires and...)

Vent over.

Bought myself a gigantor box of gummi bears to last me through next month. Hopefully that will quell the demons.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random ! of the Day

One can only dream of such a land -- a sea of gummi bears and no ants to swarm them.



 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Introducing The Fabulous Betty Noire! (NaNo 2010)

Should all go well, this is what I hope to write next month for NaNoWriMo.
__________________
Quick blurb:
__________________
The View from Upper High Hog

Set in Arizona during the early years of the Cold War

An outrageous former Vaudevillian finds herself put out to pasture, fumbling between her perplexing new job as guardian to a Russian child and her misadventures trying to regain her former glory (not to mention a ticket back to New York) through playing what she dubs "The Jackalope Circuit."
______________________________________________
Short synopsis:
______________________________________________
The View from Upper High Hog

New York, 1954

Jazz Age, Atomic Age, Space Age — meh. The Fabulous Bette Noire (a.k.a. Bebe Rosenthal) figures she’s seen it all. Life on the big time Vaudeville circuit gives a broad an extra broad perspective, not to mention the chutzpa to fight. She’s been through wars one and two and enough husbands to form a chorus line, so she’s up for anything.

Therefore, when her latest husband kicks the bucket, stranding her on his employer’s Hudson Valley estate, Bebe knows just what to do. Enough with this love nonsense. It only leads to trouble. And a little hay fever. Her fans must be clamoring for her after her long hiatus. She’ll call her agent and get back to her proper place in the world — the stage.

Unfortunately, she discovers a few more things have gone on hiatus since last she saw Manhattan: the Age of Vaudeville and her ability to find a role.

With no money to speak of and nowhere to go, Bebe finds herself lured by an offer from her late husband’s employer. Give up her apartment over their garage, and they’ll give her a job with lots of time off and travel. She just has to be ready to start the next day, no questions asked.

Sounds great to a gal who loves her freedom and wants to see exotic places. And no questions asked? Bebe’s first husband was a bootlegger. No problem.

Then she finds herself herded onto an Arizona-bound train with her previously undisclosed responsibility shoved into her arms as the train pulls out. To Bebe’s horror, it’s a child. And, not just any child, it’s her employer’s newly-orphaned niece, Tatiana, a four-year-old who draws attention with her crazy orange hair, ugly duckling face, and constant babbling in Russian — a dead giveaway of her Auntie Kate’s secret past on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

Bebe figures that Aunt Katya’s a smart one, killing two broads with one stone, setting her burdens adrift on an ice floe. Smarter, she’s put Bebe under the supervision of  “Grandpa Joe,” a muscular enforcer from down on the (collective) farm.

Thus, Bebe begins her new life as hapless guardian to an alien life form in an alien land — the dust and neon planet of Route 66. She’s caught between the needs of the child, a feud between Aunt Kate and the headmistress of the child’s school, and her own urgent need to escape what she dubs The Jackalope Circuit.

In a series of misadventures, including stalking famous musicians, sending hate mail to Betty Hutton for stealing her schtick, and and trying to form a theater company using the residents of a flea-bag motel, Bebe struggles to reclaim her former glory, independence, and relevance in the world.

Meanwhile, the newly-renamed child, Elizabeth, looks on from the shadows, trying to make sense of a world equally alien to her and longing for Bebe to give her the attention, stability, and love she’s never had.

Against the backdrop of the burgeoning Cold War, the two dream their own versions of happily ever after, or, as Bebe refers to it, Upper High Hog. And Bebe fights what she considers the scariest age of all — old age.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Best Book Cover EVER!!!

Found this over at the blog for The Office of Letters & Light:



Just so much to love. My favorite bit is how they're ditching that Jesus guy down in the lower right corner.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cats As Big As Ponies

Wrote 3500 words late last night  of a story that happens in the background of my main novel and will only be dealt with briefly. Woke up this morning and realized that it's not chatty, but it's too much walking and thinking. Walking and thinking does not equal compelling action. Back to the drawing board again, but it sure felt good to be up until one in the morning, writing. I haven't had that kind of workout in a while.

This side story involves my masochistic character. They're suggesting I do this for NaNo and not that other silly thing about the Vaudevillian.

Oh, and I killed time making another useless graphic for High Hog. I'll paste it here and that way I can pretend I was doing something interesting and useful.

 Photo from www.a1savannahs.com

We have apparating mice here in the Untitlement household. Lots of slither-slither-thump along the baseboards, then, poof! Mousie's gone. How do they do that? Mousie floo powder? How will we ever trap them? Or it? I'm hoping it's a case of It and not Them. (Suddenly thinking of ants and scary clowns.)  I think a cat like this would be able to do the job handily, but the only way I'm getting one is if some crazy person gives the local shelter a cat that costs as much as a down payment on a house. (But, come on, look at that cat hanging his head out the window of the car in the above link!)

If they ate ants, I might have to hock something to buy one. Well, not really. How big is THAT cat's litter box?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Maybe Just One Teeny Exploding Planet?

Wrote 1800 words of the last chapter of my book today then sat back and thought, "Well, now, ain't that a chatty little resolution?"

They aren't exactly sipping tea, and I don't require an exploding Death Star for my finale...

Although...

No. Focus.

Anyway, it needs to be quite different. Time to do the old Cut & Paste between my document and a junkyard file for old ideas. And then back to the drawing board looking for the strangest path between Y and Z.

Friday, October 8, 2010

You Cannot Dribble a Pumpkin

Mother Nature and I seem to have reached a compromise -- I get to wear boots and sweatercoats in the morning as I take the kids to school, and then the temperatures rise so I'm wearing sundresses and sandals when I pick them up.

Today was the annual kindergarten field trip to a local pumpkin patch. I took my youngest to school in the AM, and he came home at noon covered in stickers and clutching a little pumpkin -- a pumpkin he really really really wants to use as a basketball.

My eldest informs me he is to play a mirror in the upcoming school recital. I figure a cheap dorm mirror from Target and some duct tape should do as a costume, right?

When I was waiting in my car for eldest to get out of school today, I looked across the park and saw a gaggle of kids standing inside the school fence, jumping up and down in unison. Then they took off tearing toward the fence, pell mell tumble bumble, shrieking, and flailing their arms like Phoebe Buffay on a run through Central Park. It was some sort of race because that same dash was repeated in waves. There were the athletic kids in the lead, pushy boys rough-housing along the perimeter, and girls in sparkly pink princess gowns were scattered throughout (there were a lot of them, for some reason). One tall blond boy jogged cheerfully in the wake of the others, loping with such bounding grace it was clear he could run faster, he was just happy where he was.

I'm not sure why, but the scene really got to me -- the joy, the shrieks, the different flavors of kid. I flashed back to my own childhood and its joys and anxieties, and my unwitting thought was, "It's all still happening." Just to new generations of kids.  On my best day, I still feel like this whole grown-up thing is no more than a never ending game of make believe, and it's scary to realize I'm responsible for a few kids of my own when I still am one  (just exhausted out of my mind and wondering what the hell is going on with my face).

The blond boy in the back of the clamoring mob gets to me the most. It's the kind of contented confidence I want for my boys. It's the kind of carefree peace I want for myself. But, as a kid, I was always somewhere in the middle, trying my best to be invisible like a rabbit surrounded by wolves. And it remains to be seen where my boys land. I hope I can help them land in a good place.







You'll have to click through to YouTube to watch the video.

I'd Like to Publicly Humiliate Myself, but...

One of the writing blogs I follow had a challenge recently where writers were supposed to blog embarrassing snippets of stories or diaries from their reckless youth. This appealed to me on a few levels.

  1. I'd get to read through old journals and short stories.

  2. I might enjoy people laughing at my idiocy for a change.

  3. Unearthing earlier scribblings might make me feel better about my current writing.


I thought maybe I'd make that a periodic feature -- once a week, once a month, something. So I looked into it.

THWARTED!

I shake my fist at thee, Facebook. Too many of the people in my high school journals are FB friends now or friends of friends, and there'd be a heck of a job changing the names to protect the innocent. (See above about being an idiot and then apply that to teenage crushes and resulting behavior.) Not that many people make it over here from the old Book of Face, but I suspect that would be the moment that they did.

I did enjoy reading old journals, though, so people might not be safe, after all. I'm going to see what I can do.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the Bill for November...

Introducing Idea #1 for a NaNoWriMo masterpiece/wreck:

The View from Upper High Hog

Click here for a longer synopsis


Set in Arizona during the early years of the Cold War

An aging former Vaudevillian finds herself put out to pasture, fumbling between her perplexing new job as guardian to a Russian child and her misadventures trying to regain her former glory (not to mention a ticket back to New York) through playing what she dubs "The Jackalope Circuit."

I've hammered out ten pages of notes. I'm full of the music, the images, the texture, and tons and tons of emotion. Now I just have to find a viable framework on which to drape it. Or maybe not "drape" -- that implies some droopy slow bits.

Hopefully those notes and these fiddly unofficial graphics aren't as far as the story goes.

P.S. I think my melodramatic character is getting jealous. Now they're threatening me with truly awful developments when I return to my main novel. But, unlike when my kids act up, I think I'll actually pay attention to this character.