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.)