Wednesday, December 31, 2003

The Experts Weigh In

I've had two general writing questions of late. The first was how to classify agent rejection letters. The second was how do organic, write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writers manage to crank out a proposal for an unwritten book (which is basically the way things happen once your work starts selling). The results are in.

Question 1 yielded several answers. The response to my agent rejection varied from neutral with positive elements to positive overall. Two published authors provided their feedback. From Wen Spencer (via Forward Motion): "This isn't a judgement on her part on your book, but a 'we just don't click' on your writing style and her personal taste." From Sheila: "As an authority on rejections (cruising toward a career total of 2000+ myself) I can assure you this one is very positive. The agent has class and professionalism, sounds honest, and took the time for a personal response, all of which is always a good indicator. When you get three-word brushoffs like 'Not for us' scrawled in the margin of the original query letter, then it's time to break out the solace substance of choice and rethink the proposal."

For Question 2, I went straight to Carol Berg, whose workshop on outlining alternatives I attended at the RMFW conference in September. Seems this is something she struggles with as well. Her own experience has been to write as many as nine chapters of the proposed novel and then write a proposal that concentrates heavily on the events of those chapters while sketching her best prediction of what the rest of the novel will look like.

These answers mesh pretty well with the basic answer I had floating around in my head. The rejection was good. Nothing too earth-shatteringly good, but better than most folks can expect their first time out the gate. A nice bit of encouragement to keep me trying. The organic writer's proposal is a problematic thing, something only writing at least part of the book will accomplish. Which isn't necessarily different from the more structured writer's proposal. Instead of all that detailed outlining and such, organic writers just dive right in and then sketch the basic premise they see unfolding. The problem is that starting the book is usually more time-intensive. And that becomes a problem once you are a published author and have to worry about writing the books that have deadlines and weaving in time to start books that may not get bought by a publisher. Hopefully Carol will have some advice on this at the next conference.

Knowing these answers provides nice closure to 2003, in a writing sense. Everything seems to have wrapped itself up. Not my projects, of course, but my goals and ideas for the year. My first experiences with a writing contest, with a writing conference, and with an agent submission have all concluded. All i's dotted, all t's crossed. That goes well with my hopes for 2003. I still have many things to do, many goals to reconsider and create anew, many self-analyses to make, many dreams to savor, and many realities to face. More on this to come.

Parting Shot

Just when you think it's safe to start ringing in the New Year, the ground falls out from under you. Or, in our case, the ceiling drops on your head. OK, so not the entire ceiling, but even a small piece of it crumbling above you is not a good thing. Here's the best part: I'm not being metaphorical. At all. Shall I explain?

For a month or so, Mark and I have noticed a slight ring on part of our bathroom ceiling. Like the shower in the apartment above ours had been leaking or something. We didn't get too worked up about it, just added it to our list of things to eventually ask the apartment complex to fix. You know, right next to "repair cracked fridge shelf" and such. And what with the holidays, we never got around to putting in the maintenance request. This morning's observations did much to light that fire under us.

There's a hole in our bathroom ceiling. It's small. Maybe half an inch in diameter. But it's a hole. And I likely wouldn't have noticed it were it not for the fact that it was created when I turned on the bath faucet and saw what used to be our ceiling crumble into the water. That'll wake you up in the morning. And make you extremely grateful that you have two bathrooms. Into the Alternate Bathroom I went for my shower.

I'll be calling the apartment complex office shortly (they don't open for a few minutes and I don't feel like dealing with the incompetent folks who run the emergency line - you should've heard the conversation I had when our door wouldn't shut one night; "OK, so your door is locked and you can't open it?" "No, it's locked and we can't shut it." "OK, I'll send someone over to come open your door." "No, I said we can't get it to shut. Something's wrong with the lock and it's stuck." "Oh, I see. We'll send someone over with a key." etc). I wonder if I should call with the cracked fridge shelf and finish up with, "Oh yeah. And there's a hole in the master bathroom's ceiling." Might as well make the last day of 2003 entertaining for as many people as possible.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Evil Time-waster! Beware! Click at Your Own Risk

Random generators are fun. This one is on the same level as the The Surrealist Compliment Generator. Do you hear that? That's the sound of my free time being frittered away. If I ever become a Big Name Author, and helpless PhD students are forced to write thesi on my works, I truly hope the following titles will be used.

The Oral Naming The Disenfranchised: Kellie Hazell, Human Dignity and Objectification
Kellie Hazell Colonizing Reception: Human Dignity and the Violence of Production
Challenging Identity: Discursive Dissection in Kellie Hazell's Human Dignity
Dialectic and Flight in Human Dignity: Kellie Hazell Penetrating Suppressive Ethos
Means of Production as Hybridity: Exhuming Marginalized Epistemology in Kellie Hazell's Human Dignity

I don't know about you, but I would gladly give extra credit to a student who could create a very long title with as much alliteration as possible.

Christmas Report

Because I'm still trying to deal with my anger at the Catholic church, I really didn't get into the spirit of the season as much as I usually do. I regret that. But I truly didn't know what to do about it this year. I'd rather have continued my usual attitude of caring and kindness without battling an enormous amount of anger and trying to not let it infect my celebration. At any rate, December's been great.

Due to our holiday travels, Mark and I celebrated our own Christmas a few days before the actual date. We didn't want to lug all our gifts down to my father's, and we wanted to have our own special holiday time together. We also wanted our own holiday meal so we could have leftovers. And we do indeed have leftovers. Turkeys were on deep sale the week before Christmas. Anything over 16 lbs was $7 and anything under was $6. We decided to aim high and snagged a 18.5 lb turkey. We weren't really thinking how big that was for only two people. And for our oven. We barely dented one breast for the dinner. And then it was time to hack up the rest of it for soup, salad, tetrazini, and various other leftovers. Mark can't carve a bird. I can, but not very well. It took me a good half hour, but I slaughtered that turkey. And now we'll be shifting all sorts of leftovers around in the freezer as we gradually finish the meat. 18.5 lbs. We'll probably go for a smaller bird next year.

And then we went to Oklahoma City, arrived around 5 on Christmas Eve. My stepmother's family is from Spain and everyone was in town for the Christmas. This combination resulted in big gatherings every day. With lots of food and wine. Have I mentioned before that I'm rather intelligent and talkative when I'm drunk? I get it from my father. And now everyone in my stepmother's family knows this. My dad was nowhere near phased by the wine he drank, but I was buzzing very well. With my newfound political attitude, I wanted to pick my father's brain about some key issues. And so I did, slurring a word here and there ("education" is hard to say after your sixth glass). I think we were louder than either of us intended. Not in an arguing way, but in a debating way. I only hope that a few folks were impressed that I could be so articulate and intellectual while smashed. At least, Mark assures me that my drunken debates sounded sound. That was Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was saved from being a nightmarish experience by my stepsisters. They didn't wake up until 10, giving me plenty of time to down some aspirin and stop the world from spinning. I imbibed much less for the big Christmas Day dinner gathering.

I had thought not to get drunk again during the trip. But that was before someone opened up some Asti on our last night in town. So Kellie got drunk again and this time had intelligent conversation with Mark and her stepgrandmother. I don't think I was as bad as Christmas Eve, though. After all, there were creme puffs and eclairs sitting on the table in front of me. Picking one up and popping it into my mouth became reflex. I save the political debate with my father for the car ride to his house. We finally finished that round up (Mark had crashed long before this point), and I went to stave off the morning fun by taking some aspirin and drinking lots of water. I really would've gone to bed then, but one of my stepsisters was up and we started chatting. That lasted for a good two hours. Great conversation. It's the first time I've really had a chance to sit down and talk about anything for any time with either of my stepsisters. And I wasn't about to give that up with the lame excuse of "We're leaving at 6 AM tomorrow for a 12 hour drive".

The trip was great, and the Christmas holiday wonderful. Gifts included movies, chocolate, perfume, tea, hand-knitted scarves, Bath&Body Works stuff (can never have too much of that), sweaters, and jewelry. Yes, Mark was his usual amazing gift-giving self. The lapis lazuli bracelet he got me finishes the set I have of that stone. And he got me the complete first season of The West Wing. There's so much about that first season that I've forgotten. I've really enjoyed remembering it all.

And now it's time for another year. Nice to end 2003 on such a great note of family, friends, and life.

Monday, December 29, 2003

One Wait Over, Many More to Follow

I just got my first rejection in writing. The agent turned down respresenting Human Dignity. The package was in the mound of mail we had to sift through upon our return last night. I saw it sticking out of the pile Mark juggled and grabbed it from him - I'm pretty sure I waited until he had set the mail down, but I only say that because we didn't have letters and bills scattered over the living room floor after I snagged the thing. With a surprisingly muted sense of urgency, I opened the package and grabbed the letter from the top of my submission - I was pretty sure that meant the letter was a rejection, but I had to figure out if it was a good, bad, or neutral rejection. Here' the letter:

It was a pleasure to meet you at RMFW, and thank you so much for sending me sample pages of Human Dignity.

After a careful reading, I'm sorry to say that I don't believe I am the right agent for you.

You deserve an enthusiastic representative, so I recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one "yes" and with so many different opinions out there, you could easily find the right match. Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.

I've got this posted in a few areas for feedback from other writers as to which category of rejections this belongs. It's either neutral or good. I think I'm pretty capable of recognizing a bad rejection. Most of the explanations of rejection categories that I've heard focus on rejections from editors and publishing houses, not agents.

I'm actually not all that disappointed. This is a young agent, fairly new, and looking to break into science fiction and fantasy representation (I think). While such a partnership may have been best for both of us in the long run, the combination of two newbies would've made for an extremely bumpy beginning - my luck only stretches so thin before it breaks. And that's the kind of risk I shouldn't be taking with my writing unless I'm given no other choice. So off Human Dignity goes to the dream agent, the highest I know to aim right now. And I breathe a slight sigh of relief now that I can finish the revisions without the pressure of an agent potentially wanting to see the rest of the book in the next few weeks.

Still to Come: The Christmas Report. New Year's Resolutions.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Posting from Afar

I'm in the land of the Sooners right now. Every where I look is maroon and white. It's a good thing we'll be leaving before the big game. Too much craziness. But it is good to be with my dad and my stepmother's family. Lots of holiday insanity and imbibing. And more presents than we deserve. Full report to follow (perhaps I'll censor the drunken revelry, perhaps not). In the meantime, Happy Holidays to all those who happen upon this blog.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


That Teresa's one smart cookie. She's uncovered all the intriguing neuroses of authors. Damned if she didn't get one of mine pegged on there.

My first novel took a long time to write, but now that I’ve been through the process and gotten my feet under me, the rest should go much faster.

Dammit. Now what? I actually didn't realize this was insanity. The others she's listed seem like much more fun. Maybe I'll trade it in for this one: Your editorial comments are brilliant. I adore them. No one has ever understood my writing as well as you have. I am now so paralyzed that I can’t revise the book. That's it. It's perfect! Now I don't have to worry about finishing my revisions. Ahhh. The world is right again.

Hmmm. On second thought, maybe I'll see about inventing a new insane habit that Teresa can uncover and add to her list. Might as well make it interesting for everbody. Or is this like themes and plots? Have all neurotic writer tendencies been done? Can I find a way to create something that's not derivative? I suppose I shouldn't bother if I can't. If I can't be crazy in an original way, I guess I'll just try for sanity.

Addendum: Teresa, in the comments of the above-linked thread, clarified my transgression.

What's the imprudence in #3? Assuming on not enough evidence that the pace of your writing is going to speed up. It may well do so. It may not.

Now I don't consider it a bout of insanity to be guilty of the third, so much as a moment of stupidity. My saving grace is I usually phrased it as "Once I get my feet under me, I hope the rest will go faster."

Monday, December 22, 2003

Straggling LotR Humor

I added this to my original list of things not to do while watching RotK, but I felt it deserved its own little spot.

21. When they go in the paths of the dead, wait for a tense moment and
shout, "I see dead people!"
22. Imitate what you think a conversation between Gollum, Dobby and Yoda
would be like.
23. Release a jar of daddy-long-legs into the theater during the Shelob
24. Wonder out loud if Aragorn is going to run for governor of California.
25. When Shelob comes on, exclaim, "Man!Charlotte's really let herself go!

Sleeping, But Not Really

I've been exhausted for much of the past week. I couldn't understand why. I got a fair amount of sleep - I'm always up for more, but if felt like I had barely squeezed in four hours when I know I slept six. Even this weekend, I got quite a bit of sleep, yet I'm still exhausted today. I realized on Friday that I was doing some of my sleep apnea-ish things (feeling like I couldn't breathe, startling myself awake as I fell asleep because I had stopped breathing, etc). So I figured that was the cause. But nearly every night this week? I've never had problems sleeping like that. Then I remembered that sleep apnea sorts of problems can be caused by anxiety and stress.

Well, duh, it's the holidays. I may have been ahead of the shopping curve, but this time of year is never just peaches and light. Still, I really have no reason to be stressed about the holidays. We've done the baking, the shopping, the mailing, the decorating. And we did it in fairly laid back fashion. So that would only explain part of my stress. Then it hit me.

I have a submission out to an agent, and I'm still mired in revisions.

That's it. That's it right there. That's the hot button. My writing. I'm not all that nervous about the agent thing consciously, but I bet my subconscious is pacing a path in my gray matter. And I went and gave myself a somewhat strict deadline for finishing the revisions - by the end of the year. Well, one thing 2003 has taught me is that I don't deal well with writing under a deadline. This obviously has to change if I expect to make a career of this. But I still haven't found a good way of dealing with it. It's so foreign to me to resist a deadline, or to even have a deadline have such a negative impact on my ability to finish something. Maybe once it's my career, it'll be different. Who knows.

Movie Experience

I never did share my impressions of RotK. Mark and I saw it again Saturday night. Still just as good, though I was squirming by the end of it more than the first time. Watching the Extended Editions was very nice, even though I fell asleep about thirty minutes into TTT and was out for an hour. I've actually been sleeping horribly for about the past week or so (more on this in another post). Anyway, we get to the theatre about two and a half hour early - we like having our pick of seats and I had a deck of cards to keep us entertained. There wasn't a line set up for our showing. So they told us to hang around until the line for an early showing cleared. I dutifully did this as Mark and PJ went to grab a pizza to bring back. A half hour goes by. The line of the earlier showing gets longer and longer and the pizza has not arrived. Turns out all the restaurant in the theatre area had been mobbed. The line finally cleared, but only then did I realize that folks for my showing have been standing in the line. So I was actually a decent ways back in the line, even though I was one of the first to show up for our showing. Muttering under my breath, I realized that an hour and fifteen minutes had passed since Mark and PJ embarked on their Pizza Recovery Mission. After another fifteen minutes of hungry muttering, Mark brought the pizza. PJ was still missing. He had ordered some bread sticks. Fifteen more minutes until PJ showed up. Finally we got into the theater and were still able to get decent seats (next to a pair of seats with half a cup of soda spilled on them).

The movie was great. I cried for a good half hour toward the end. I had a few niggles here and there, but nothing that pulled me out of the movie. I didn't have a problem with the four mini-endings. Except the last one got a bit tiring. Jackson should've just ended with Grey Havens. We didn't need to go back to Hobbiton one last time, no matter how cute Sean Astin's little girl is. Also, the $9 and three hours of uncomfortable sitting positions are worth Billy Boyd's song. The whole scene leading up to the song, and the footage during the song are incredible. And Minas Tirith is absolutely gorgeous - puts Edoras to shame. There's an amazing sequence of lighting beacons - that's also worth the money and the length of the film, even if you don't like the film as a whole. Those three elements are just too amazing to not be seen on the big screen.

I was disappointed with the mediocre to nonexistant resolution for several characters (Eomer, Eowyn, Faramir, Saruman). But I've heard rumors that those scenes will be in the Extended Edition, so I'll deal with it. Overall, Jackson and his crew did a fabulous job of creating a cinematographical interpretation of Tolkien's books. A perfect adaptation was impossible, and even Tolkien himself knew that. Movies require things that books don't, and certain themes aren't going to be 1) possible to put into film and 2) interpreted in exactly the same way by everyone - even the most devout fans.

If someone should ever make a movie out of a book I write, I hope I remember my love of these movies and my ability to hold them separate in some ways from the books. I also hope that whomever messes with my books would keep me in the loop if possible.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Tolkien Week at Foxtrot

For those of you who don't have access to the funnies or who don't read Foxtrot, check 'em out. Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Enjoy.

Addendum: Saturday.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


Saw the movie. Still recovering. Amazing. For various amusing discussions, reviews, comments, nitpicks, gushes, etc about Return of the King, go here. Here's my favorite line (slightly spoilerish if you're not familiar with the books):

As for the floating Ring, well, I'm sorry it didn't do it for you, John. But when we're discussing a malicious and near-sentient magical artifact serving as the focal point for the worldly power of a Dark Lord, I'm not really prepared to get my innards in a twist over its buoyancy.

I mean, we've already seen that it can slip on or off a wearer's finger at will, re-size itself to fit its holder, call out to its holder by that person's name, and be thrown into a fire without becoming hot to the touch. Is it really that much of a stretch to accept that it wouldn't dissolve or sink without a fight?

Go see this movie as soon as you can. If you have the time, watch the Extended Editions of the first two before hand as they link quite a few images and moments into the third. Also, bring lots of tissues. And be aware of any trace of arachnophobia you might suffer. Shelob is frightening enough without catching you off-guard to boot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Middle Earth's Secret Diaries

I know I linked to this a while ago, but here are the diaries again. There's also a link to Cassandra's livejournal at this site, where you will find diaries with entries pertaining to the action of TTT. One might expect to see more entries after Cassandra sees RotK.

Numenorian Time Scale?

Someone on the radio this morning freaked out when she found notes on how to propose to her among her boyfriend of six months things. Freaked out because it had only been six months. Now, in the grand scheme of human dating, six months is a fairly long time. My perspective may be somewhat scewed as Mark and I decided to get married after only a month of dating and I had the ring on my finger another month beyond that. However, six months of dating just doesn't seem like the freak out level this lady was thinking. Maybe she's watched LotR too much and thinks courting should be dragged out for decades before any concrete decision is made. Methinks she, unlike Aragorn, wouldn't be able to wait until she was 90 to get a definite answer (question? :)) out of her man.

If you're going to freak out about the suddenness of a proposal, I would think you should reserve all concerns for relationships shorter than three months. This all depends on the nature of the relationship, of course. Perhaps six months for this woman only meant occasional dates. Or maybe she believes in dating for five years before the next level of committment is even discussed. Who knows? But six months just doesn't seem to eye-poppingly shocking. Six weeks, sure. Six days, pop away.

Hmmm. Six days. I'm reminded of some guy I went out to dinner with once or twice in college. He was a senior and I was a sophomore (going through a self-identity crisis and my parents' divorce on top of taking physics, cell biology, organic chemistry, and their enjoyable labs). He said the "L" word after only four dates (and something on the order of two weeks). I dropped him like fifth period French. (I love that line. When, oh when, will they stop teasing us with rumors of a sequel to Ocean's 11?) I don't even remember how I met the guy now. All of a sudden, he was taking me to dinner. I must've known him from somewhere or through another friend. Can't think of it now. I do know that I ran screaming from him because I could just smell the "will you marry me" coming and I did not want that. I also remember that he was the third reason I made my "no pre-med majors" rule when accepting dates. The first two reasons were dating mistakes from my freshman year and the summer afterward.

I suddenly feel compelled to sing "Memories." (And yes, I'm fully aware that the Middle Earth relevance of this post was rather low and somewhat forced. I'll try to do better later today.)

Monday, December 15, 2003

Tolkien Week at Kellie's Blog

In honor of the premiere, I'll be trying to keep my posts relevant to all things Middle Earth. Here's the first:

1. Stand up halfway through the movie and yell loudly, "Wait... where the hell is Harry Potter?"
2. Block the entrance to the theater while screaming: "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" - After the movie, say "Lucas could have done it better."
3. At some point during the movie, stand up and shout: "I must go! Middle Earth needs me!" and run and try to jump into the screen. After bouncing off, return quietly to your seat.
4. Play a drinking game where you have to take a sip every time someone says: "The Ring."
5. Point and laugh whenever someone dies.
6. Ask the nearest ring-nut if he thinks Gandalf went to Hogwarts
7. Finish off every one of Elrond's lines with "Mr. Anderson."
8. When Aragorn is crowned king, stand up and at the top of your lungs sing, "And I did it.... MY way...!"
9. At the end, complain that Gollum was offensive to Ethiopians
10. Talk like Gollum all through the movie. At the end, bite off someone's finger and fall down the stairs.
11. When Shelob appears, pinch the guy in front of you on the back of the neck.
12. Dress up as old ladies and reenact "The Battle of Helms Deep" Monty Python style.
13. When Denethor lights the fire, shout "Barbecue!"
14. Ask people around you who they think is the next "Terminator" sent from the Middle Earth of the future to assassinate Frodo Baggins
15. In TTT when the Ents decide to march to war, stand up and shout "RUN FOREST, RUN!"
16. Every time someone kills an Orc, yell: "That's what I'm Tolkien about!" See how long it takes before you get kicked out of the theatre.
17. During a wide shot of a battle, inquire, "Where's Waldo?"
18. Talk loudly about how you heard that there is a single frame of a nude Elf hidden somewhere in the movie.
19. Start an Orc sing-a-long.
20. Come to the premiere dressed as Frankenfurter and wander around looking terribly confused.

21. When they go in the paths of the dead, wait for a tense moment and
shout, "I see dead people!"
22. Imitate what you think a conversation between Gollum, Dobby and Yoda
would be like.
23. Release a jar of daddy-long-legs into the theater during the Shelob
24. Wonder out loud if Aragorn is going to run for governor of California.
25. When Shelob comes on, exclaim, "Man!Charlotte's really let herself go!

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Minor Amusements

I ran a spell check on the previous entry. The Blogger spell-checker suggested replacing "yahoos" with "yak", "Misadventures" with "mistyping", and "Satan's" with "Santiago's".

It's Still Not Friday?

I'm really wondering if I can just pretend that today is Friday and that it's already 4:30 instead of nearing 1:30. That would be nice. This week hasn't been very pleasant. I spent Monday mired in the hell that is an on-line ordering system for work. Then I had to drive home in snow. Then I had to drive (in snow again) to the bus stop to pick up Mark. Only he missed the bus. So I got to kill a half hour in the mall oh-so-conveniently located right next to the bus stop. While I'm waiting for Mark, the college buddy we were supposed to meet up with in Denver that night called to chat, since we couldn't visit (due to the yahoos who don't know how to drive in snow). Turns out my bud is getting married. The downside: he's getting married on the same day as my brother. Unless there's a stunning breakthrough in bilocation before June, I can't go to my pal's wedding.

On to Tuesday and my Misadventures in Satan's LCD Projector Playground. LCD projectors seem to be rarer than a lunar eclipse. I finally found one that would be available for a presentation. But here's the catch: this technological contraption resembled more an artifact from the 3rd Mingh Dynasty than it did a projector. As I lamented to Peg, I was quite certain I'd have to burn a stick of incense in the projector, pray to Vishnu, and have a Buddhist monk stand on his head and chant in order to get the thing to work. Luckily, at the last possible moment, another projector surfaced. One from the Common Era.

Wednesday, yesterday, should be dubbed "Kellie Runs Around the Site, Pushing a Cart Laden with Pizza." Strangely enough, this managed to consume my entire day. And then I went home to bake Christmas cut-out cookies. Ah, holiday baking. A time of mutated candy-canes that must be turned 180 degrees and inverted in order to see the vague hook shape. A time of de-haloed, de-winged, and decapitated angels. A time when Santa's boots look more like smelly slouch socks from the 80s. A time of squashed and distorted snowmen, stars, bells, and trees. At least icing helps them look like edible cookies despite the irregular shapes.

The positives: My buddy is getting married! Another college buddy and his wife are expecting their first child! I made progress in my revisions! And Friday is only a day away!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Got the new commenting system going. And it looks like all the comments that weren't on the past seven entries were kept. In fact, it looks like you can still comment using my old system in my Archives. I'll have to see about fixing that. But this will work for now. Feels good to have one less annoyance in life.


I'm about to start tinkering with my commenting feature. I'm trying to figure out if I'll lose all the comments I already have or if I'll end up breaking my blog or what. Bear with me.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Blogger just ate my post about snow in the area. Just take my word for it that it was witty and entertaining.

Friday, December 05, 2003

My Mood is Improving

Today started on a bad note. I had just locked up the apartment when I remembered that my lunch was still sitting on the coffee table. Just like I had left yesterday's lunch behind. Rather than have to buy lunch again, I decided to unlock the door and get it. I was running late due to oversleeping, but an extra minute to grab my lunch wouldn't hurt. Only I couldn't get the door to shut after I had grabbed my lunch. So I spent a good five minutes figuring out just what the hey was going on. And then I still had to scrape off the car. Only the ice wouldn't scrape. It sort of scratched off in tiny ribbons, leaving huge stripes behind. After another few minutes of futile scarping, I just got in the car and blasted the defroster. And then I had to face a day of work I didn't want to do. In general, I haven't been a happy camper on this fine Friday.

That changed when I remembered that it's the beginning of a new month and Sheila would have a new story or something on her website. I eagerly wandered over there, and was ecstatic to read her latest update. She's still tinkering around with a blog!!!! It's a Cherijo story in daily snippets. And it sounds like she might do this sort of thing again.

My Friday just got better.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Not Sure What to Think

This guy gives new meaning to the Absent-minded Professor. The quotes that are making me stumble:

"The case has been hotly debated in the US scientific community, where many luminaries fear that it may deter other researchers from working with sensitive biological samples."

Deterring folks from working with nasty substances isn't a good thing. We need people researching hazardous substance so we can better protect ourselves for it. So, after reading this, I'm on the guy's side.

"Most of Butler's convictions concern his business dealings with drug companies, with which he had several clinical-trial contracts. Half of the payments went directly to him rather than to the university. The jury did not accept the argument of Butler's attorneys that such "shadow contracts" are commonplace and not illegal."

I'm not sure about this. It doesn't sound on the up and up. Does "half of the payments" mean that he was paid 10 times and five times the money went straight to him and not Texas Tech? Or does "half of the payments" mean that he was paid 10 times and half of each of those payments went directly to him and not Texas Tech? If it's the latter, then that sounds like it might be kosher. If it's the former, nope. So now my support of Mr. Science is starting to waver.

"Butler was also found guilty of crimes relating to a Federal Express parcel of plague bacteria he mailed to Tanzania in September, labelled "laboratory materials". He said that he was unaware that federal laws required him to declare the contents more explicitly. The jury convicted him of making a false statement on the package label and of illegally exporting hazardous materials."

What idiot after the anthrax scare is going to think that he can get away with labeling the plague as "laboratory materials"? How in the world would he be unaware of the federal laws after that mess? Has the man not mailed any sort of package since then? And what kind of program would Texas Tech be running if they didn't provide some way for this guy to know and/or be required to find out what the regs are? I have little support left for him at this point.

"Jurors also accepted Butler's defence that he was unable to remember the complicated regulations concerning the transport and importing of plague bacteria."

WHAT????? Mister, that's the sort of thing you find out if you're getting ready to mail the plague to Tanzania. You at least ask a colleague for his opinion if you can't remember how to do this.

My confusion: Is this a bigger problem with Texas Tech, or was Mr. Science here a one-of-a-kind screw up in their program? And if it's the latter, why in the world were they letting him send the plague anywhere?

Those Dangerous Funnies

Does this mean that laughter will become a controlled substance?

Evolutionary Hopefuls

While contemplating the situation of my dental hygiene yesterday on the way home from work (admit it, you wish you were me), I wondered why we didn't have another set of teeth waiting, or an endless supply. We've got baby teeth and adult teeth. And if you screw up your adult teeth, you've got to find some way to deal with it. This didn't strike me as being fair - biologically. My teeth are perfect in one regard. They are perfectly straight. Dentists are often shocked to find out that I've never worn braces because they're so straight. But these teeth o' mine are also excessively weak. Mark could gargle with sugar water for weeks and only brush his teeth once, and he might get a cavity. Maybe. My teeth, however.... Well, let's just say that I once had six cavities filled in one appointment. Did I mention that my teeth are also extremely temperature sensitive? My point: It would be nice if humanity evolved to give us at least one more round of adult teeth. Third time's the charm, after all.

That got me thinking about other things I hope evolution takes care of. And, of course, my mind drew a blank. More teeth was as far as I got before I was home, checking the mail, and oohhing and aahhing over the last minute Christmas beauty specials in a Victoria's Secret catalog (one of fifteen I've received in the past month, and I'm not exaggerating). I'll have to start a list of evolutionary hopefuls and see about threading them into a future novel idea. More teeth will definitely be the first.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The Air Up There

I got a little incensed this morning when I read an article about the Bush Administration trying to undue Clinton's Clean Air policies, particularly the allowable amount of mercury factories can expel. The other big environmental issues of Dubya haven't bothered me too much. The Alaska drilling for oil idea isn't a good one, but I had a hard time believing W would be able to make it happen. And it didn't seem too crazy to see a politician looking for another source of oil (the crazy thing is that no politician seems to be looking seriously into another fuel source other than oil). The Kyoto business of a few years past didn't get my ire up. I swallowed the spin that Bush and his gang didn't think the document was well-written (or something like that). Hey, not all laws/accords/pacts/treatises/memos/notes passed between diplomats with good intentions are going to do a good job of putting those intentions into action. It's better for the environmentalist cause if all such documents are as well put together as possible than if they aren't. But wanting to do away with the mercury limits doesn't sit well with a someone who has been warned about mercury for six years of research and lab courses. It's not good stuff. As I wander through my thought process on this, I'm thinking about the arsenic business that was all the rage when Dubya first go into office. Or was that Clinton as he went out of office?

At any rate, I'm pissed about this mercury business. The regs passed just fine at least three years ago, if not more. And companies had all sorts of time to start trying to comply. Now the Bush boys' trying to do away with the reg smacks of something vile. It's never a pleasant thing to watch the idiots running the country muck up science.

Enough of my ranting. Again to bring levity to an icky situation, I link to The Onion. As always, enjoy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Got past the hump in my revisions last night. I have been chipping away at it for the past week or two. This is the spot where I stopped on my first round of revision, and I was stalling at the same place during this round. It's a hard spot because I tried to skip the middle of part 2. Which means I had to write the middle from scratch. I somehow didn't think about this as I wrote the first chapter of the middle. And then last night I looked at what used to be Chapter 6 of Part 2. I had to read the whole thing real quick and determine what I wanted to keep and what I didn't. I kept some of the stuff on the very first page and that was about it. The ideas in Chapter 6 are largely still there, but I had to completely rewrite it. Mainly because I was trying to skip the middle and tell the reader what had happened in said middle. I'm happy with the rewrite - much happier with it than I was with the original. And it feels good to be over that hump. There's still a lot to do in Part 2's middle, but it feels more like I'm writing downhill than scrawling my way up it.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Another Turkey Bites the Dust

Well, almost, anyway. But let me build up to that.

The trip was great, fairly uneventful, and relatively low-key. Mark is very glad he won't be spending any time longer than an hour in the car until Christmas, when the drive will be only 10-12 hours as opposed to 14. We got on the road at 5:30 - very early, considering Mark's hatred of the morning before 8 on a good day, 10 usually. The biggest adventure of the trip down was our brief stop in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, New Mexico, that is. We stopped to get gas, and the blue signs near the exit said there was a Wendy's nearby, so we figured we get lunch as well. After filling the tank, we went in search of grub. We saw a KFC and Burger King, but no Wendy's. After journeying two miles away from the gas station, we turned back, figuring that KFC would work just fine. Only to find out it was closed for remodeling (something the marquee displayed on only one of its faces - meaning we couldn't see this important information driving from the gas station). So we tried the Burger King. I told Mark what I wanted to eat and went to the bathroom to put in my contacts. I get into the bathroom and realize I had grabbed the bag with my contact solution in it, but not the one with my actual contacts. I left the restroom, only to find Mark standing there without food, waiting for me. This particular Burger King doesn't take credit cards. Back into the car we go, eager to leave the silliness that is Las Vegas not in Nevada. We had not ventured far out of Vegas when we nearly hit a dog trying to cross the Interstate. At 75 mph, that wouldn't have been a pleasant site. It seemed to be waiting just for the right time to cross as there weren't any cars for quite a distance either in front of or behind us. And that was about it for the drive down.

Our stay at my mother's was pretty relaxed. Watched movies, hung out in the spa, nothing too big. The Turkey Day meal itself was grand, as always. Although it wouldn't be my mother's cooking if there wasn't some sort of misadventure there. The turkey was a little undercooked. We were able to trim off big chunks that were fine, but it's about par for the big bird course. On the bright side, this turkey would've been fully cooked with another hour or so (likely less), which means it's still nowhere in the league of the Turkey that Wouldn't Die. I think we gave up on that one after 15 hours of cooking. Or maybe we did let it go longer.

Saturday we started our first leg of the trip back. We went to Phoenix to grab lunch at the only non-Western New York location of Ted's Hot Dogs. It's set up just the same as the others, with lots of Buffalo paraphinalia. They even had a few Buffalo newspapers there. Mark got a little misty-eyed. Until we realized that they are a cash only restaurant. Enter the fun game of Scrounge for Change. It was actually a rather entertaining experience. And the hot dogs were from Sahlen's, the same supplier of the NY Ted's. They even had Loganberry there.

That night we caught a sunset at the Grand Canyon. Breath-taking as always. It'll be nice to be closer to the park one day. We stayed in Flagstaff. Choosing a place proved somewhat interesting. Two hotels of equal price and caliber were right across the street from each other. Then we saw the marquee for one of them. It announced, "Martians Welcome." We went for the one not proudly catering to those uppity green folk. I mean, imagine sharing a floor with those aliens! Of course, my muse kept wondering what the story behind that announcement was and what these particular Martians would look like. And Mark actually dreamed about why the hotel advertised such a thing.

And now we're back, facing a mountain of laundry and a pile of newspapers. Time to start preparing for the next road trip.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Another End

Last night I officially took a leave of absence from my chorus. I said I'd be gone for a year and hoped to be back after that, but I don't know. Going back depends on how my writing is going. It wasn't all that hard to say last night, and most of the chorus didn't seem too surprised. They were extremely happy for me with my writing and eager to hear all about sending my submission to the agent. And, of course, they all want autographed first editions. Nothing was difficult about the night until I actually had my jacket on, my purse and bags in hand, and was walking out of our practice hall. That put a bit of a lump in my throat and made me look back over my shoulder with regret. It didn't last too long, though, as I realized that I was spinning the next scene I needed to work on for HD and would end up writing it that night. Writing on a Monday night? That's never happened before. And yet it happened last night. So leaving my chorus did hurt, but I've got to look at what I gained. More time to write, and a better attitude about writing now that I don't have the draining distraction of my chorus. I'm so energized about HD, that I'm even going to bring everything with me on our Turkey Day trip. I'm also going to see about writing in the car. I doubt that will happen, but I'm eager to try. So the ending of my chorus days - even if a temporary one - brought about a beginning or at least a refreshing new step in my writing. I can live with that.

Monday, November 24, 2003

It's in the Mail

Sent the packet off to the agent today. If her turnaround time is as advertised on her website, I'll hear back by the end of the year at the earliest, end of January at the latest. If her turnaround time is on par with the email response she sent after the conference, I could hear back by the end of next week. Because I still have quite a bit of work to do on Human Dignity, and on my writing habits in general, I'm hoping she takes her time. But not too much time. Just before Christmas would be good. Because if she wants to read more and/or represent me, that would be an excellent Christmas present. And if she takes a pass, then I've got lots of gifts to cheer me up (not to mention another excuse to eat Holiday goodies).

Friday, November 21, 2003

Silly Astrology

My horoscope is at it again.

Stop thinking so much about what you want to do 'someday' and start making plans to actually do it now. You have so many good ideas -- don't let them all go to waste because you're keeping them to yourself. It might be a bit scary to expose your creative side to the rest of the world, but once you do, you'll feel as though a great weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. Something really good can come from your willingness to share your hidden talent.

OK, fine. I get the point. I'll send the pages off to the agent this weekend and get busy writing every day. Just stop beating me over the head with it!

Thursday, November 20, 2003


The end of a cold is worse than the beginning and middle, in many ways. You're ready to be healthy again, and yet the silly bug still has a grip on you. Your throat always has a tickle, but your coughs never do anything to ease that. Instead, your coughs give you headaches, pulled muscles, and other fun things. Your nose is always stuffed and you can never blow it enough. Your ears pop continually. And you still feel just a smidge of weakness to keep you from carrying on with life as usual. At least when you're in the middle of a cold, you're too miserable to do anything but sleep and take cold meds. The beginning is never too bad because it's usually a dry, scratchy throat and not much else. But the end of a cold sucks.

There's another end happening right now. The end of a few internet presences. Holly Lisle and Sheila. They've both decided to end their blogs and end all involvement with on-line communities. These two women are responsible for getting me into blogging, and they've both taught me more than I can list about writing. They both explained that they need to just focus on writing, "protect the work" as Holly put it.

I went through several reactions to this news. At first it was loss. I enjoyed reading their blogs and their comments in various forums. They had such unique voices and many things to say. And it kept that human element to the writing world alive and well for me. But, despite my loss, I felt respect for their wishes. Then I got angry. I looked at my own life and realized how much I wanted to just focus on writing. How much I wanted to have that option. But I don't. And I got really pissed that suddenly these two women who had shared so much and given so much to my writing experience were suddenly taking it away - and in a fashion that made it all too clear that I couldn't follow their example in their last lesson on writing. Now I'm impatient. Eagerly watching the clock tick away to the day when I can take their lead and protect my work.

I'm trying to do what I can now. I find myself thinking about my own blog and how I use the Internet. What can I cut? What do I need to help with my writing and just life in general? I've already started to cut things out just because I've been so busy at work. I don't post hardly at all at the various bulletin board / communities I belong to. I don't do a daily blog read. I check a couple, skim here and there. But nothing like before. And I don't make it a priority to post here any more. That last I'll probably change. I do like this blog. I enjoy learning about coding and internet stuff in this fashion. And it's nice to know that my relatives scattered all over the country can hop on-line and see what I'm up to (if only they'd comment now and again and reciprocate - hint, hint :) ).

So now what? I'm quitting my singing group to give me more time and energy for writing. I'm trimming down my Internet presence so I don't "waste" my words and time in silly debates that do nothing except frustrate just about everyone involved. What else can I do? I can't quit my job. And I can't keep taking time for granted. It's not the best dilemma to find myself in, but I have the sense of working toward something that will be great, that will work for the way my life has to go right now. That little shaft of hope is mighty pretty. I hope I don't lose sight of it.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Sick, Tired, the List Goes On

It's pretty ironic looking at the entries that are sitting on my blog right now. Well, before I post this, anyway. On Oct 28, I posted about how proud I was that I was taming my pontificating habit. Then on Nov 3, I posted about how I let loose in a thread on politics - I'm certain it was done in true pontificating fashion. On Nov 9, I posted about how I was going to start taking care of myself and my writing more now that I've, more or less, taken the last year to goof off about that stuff. And here I am today, posting about how sick I am and how busy I've been at work. God has to have a sense of humor. Otherwise irony wouldn't exist.

To give some impression of how busy work was last week, let's just say that I could've come into work for just 15 minutes on Friday, and I would've still logged 40 hours. Yeah. That busy. I pulled a twelve-hour day on Wednesday and came in on Thursday hopped up on cold drugs just so I could keep myself vertical. The good news: the reason for all that overtime is a two day meeting that is done. The bad news: I may have to do this all over again for another similar meeting in just a few weeks. While the overtime pay is nice, working myself into a nasty cold isn't. Everyone at work is concerned for my health, but it felt a little less heartfelt when I kept hearing things like, "You should go home and take care of yourself. But since you're here...." Which explains why I really couldn't take the days off I needed last week. The stuff I needed to do couldn't wait and was worked up in a bunch of background work I had already done, making it very difficult for someone to fill in for me.

Being sick wouldn't bother me so much except for the fact that I was unable to perform in my last barbershop concert for a while yesterday. I feel really bad missing that. But I slept through the entire time I would've been on stage, which should say a lot. In fact, writing this right now, I can't believe I'm at work. I thought I would be OK, given that I was at that stage where you really want to be active but know you still need the rest last night. I figured another night's sleep would do me some good and then I would be good to go today. Ha.

I was also going to send off the submission to the agent this weekend, which didn't happen. Nothing happened this weekend except a lot of sleep, a lot of coughing, a lot of blowing my nose, and a lot of watching movies. And now it feels like this week won't be too different. *sigh*

Sunday, November 09, 2003


There's a lot to weigh when you make decisions. If there isn't, you might call it a choice instead. Choosing seems less dramatic than deciding. Choosing seems more "flip a coin" and "blink of an eye". Choosing implies a sense that perhaps you never really had the ability to make the choice, that it was fate, or someone else made it for you. But a decision is another beast entirely. You have to look at the outcomes. You have to look at the factors leading you to such a decision. You have to balance your needs with the needs of those dependent on you. A decision is never easy. Even when the pros far outweigh the cons, the con will never go away.

A year ago, I made a decision. It was the third and final one in a trilogy of life-altering decisions. The first was to leave a PhD program with a masters and give up my eight-year-old goal of teaching and researching at a university. The second was to quit my high school teaching job (after only teaching a quarter of the year) and give up my twelve-year-old goal of teaching in general. The third decision (made a week or so after the second one) was to pursue a writing career and get a job as a secretary to pay the bills (not using my science degrees - six years in the making). Each decision felt like the hardest thing I've ever had to do - until the next one came along.

I am now a year removed from that trilogy. I've spent the year doing a lot of things but primarily taking care of myself. Since high school, maybe even junior high, I've worked myself ragged. I gave myself breaks here and there, but I always felt guilty about them. Like I should be using that time to study for a test, to participate in another club, to volunteer, to read up on current research, to learn something new that I could use in my chosen profession. But not this year. This year I've slept in. I've given myself countless manicures and pedicures. I've spent a half hour getting ready in the morning, pampering myself with a fun hairstyle or a new color of eye shadow. I've read books instead of writing. I've played video games instead of cleaning the house. I've just sat on the couch and done nothing other than sit by my husband in front of the fireplace and enjoy our companionship. I've soaked up the sun. I've put off doing something at work for hours at a time so I could play a computer game or really spend some time emailing a friend. I've called my brother on a regular basis instead of making excuses not to. I'm planning on calling in sick so I can watch the two Lord of the Rings extended versions on DVD and then go see "Return of the King" in theatres that same day. I'm catching up on all the goofing off I never allowed myself to do or felt horribly guilty doing. The guilt is still there sometimes, but I'm taking care of myself.

That's not to say I haven't done anything this year. I've completed a draft of Human Dignity. I've revised a third of it, then started over at the beginning and re-revised the same third. I've submitted it to a writing contest and got feedback on it from an editor at Tor and from a published author. I've prepped it for submission to an agent. I've written 30,000 words in a romance. I've started building a world for a fantasy trilogy that's rapidly becoming a series. I've written the beginnings of a few short stories. I've played around with different writing styles. I've set up a system for dealing with the writing ideas I get. I've learned. I've also gotten a promotion at work. And I've made another decision - to take at least a year-long break from singing.

But now I want to do more. I want to take better care of myself by exercising, eating right (at least occasionally), and by writing every day and holding myself to a writing schedule for my various projects. I want to succeed and feel healthy, to add to the peace and happiness I've had from this past year. And now is the best time. I've given myself a year to do all the lazy I never allowed before. That's long enough. Time to balance it with responsibility in my health and writing.

Monday, November 03, 2003


It's easier to dismiss something in anger than actually try to think rationally and logically about it. Last week I realized that this is what I was doing with the Catholic Church. And today I realized that I'm doing it with politics. It's very easy to do when there's so much to be angry about. But something doesn't feel right about it. Like I'm short-changing something. But trying to confront the issue brings a fresh wave of anger.

We went to church about a month ago. And it was a nice liturgy. The homily seemed perfect for welcoming us back, the community seemed great, the priest reminded me of the good guys from my Germany days. But we haven't been back since. A couple weeks ago we even got in the car and were halfway there before I asked Mark to turn around. Our nice clothes had been dirty, so Mark and I had been forced to wear jeans - an article of clothing I was taught didn't belong in church. Plus, I just kept getting more and more pissed about the idea of going to Mass. I didn't want to bring that into the church. So we drove back home instead.

Last week, Teresa posted about the lengths to which Bush and Co will go to create a good image. Usually when I see her post about such things, I avoid commenting. I've gotten the impression that she believes the Florida Election Fiasco was a Republican conspiracy to get Bush into office and that Clinton didn't quite manage to walk on water but only got his shins wet instead of falling in. That's probably horribly unfair to Teresa. I may be guilty of lumping her thoughts on those subject in with a lot of sentiments I read along those lines because of similar language and/or ideas. Instead of trying to figure out, I try to just ignore the subject entirely when it's brought up in her blog. And we had that great chat at Colorado Gold, I did my best to bite my tongue and help the conversation move on to something else.

But I just had to say something about the post I linked to because I found it ridiculous to accuse Bush of pandering/creating a public image and imply that Clinton didn't do the same things or it at least wasn't so bad when he did it. I made the mistake of bringing up Clinton's infamous $200 haircut at LAX. Instead of taking my point and working with that, the haircut business became the topic of debate. It didn't really happen that way...It was all Limbaugh Lies....You've fallen victim to the right-wing malice machine...etc, etc. I honestly had no idea that the disruption the haircut caused was minimal at best and blown out of proportion by the press. OK, I got that point and acknowledged the error on my part. But it's like I was expected to absolve Clinton of any wrong-doing simply because the press decided to warp something. And that's when my anger slapped me in the face. I want to hate all politicians: Clinton, Bush, Cheney, Gore. Hell, even Nader. It's easier. By far. There's too many jackasses involved in politics. Forget "diamonds in the rough". Try "cubic zirconia in the dung heap". As someone pointed out in the comments, is it really worth my time to sift through tons of shit to find a small, cheap, knock-off imitation that may look pretty but will never be the real thing? No, it's easier to just say that all politicians are selfish imbeciles who should be in jobs as far removed from public office as possible.

And, thus, anger wins.

OK, so I've seen my problem. I'm copping out of my religion and my nation's politics due to anger. Probably not the smartest or the best thing to do, but it sure keeps my stress level down and my sanity intact. There's got to be a better way. One that allows me to participate as necessary in both but without having my idealism trampled to bits on a regular basis. Does anyone have any ideas?

They say that admitting is the first step. Well, damn it, what's the second one?

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Reading Snob?

As I mentioned earlier, my patience is running thin with books. I gave up on C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun trilogy because the pace never picked up despite a very cool story. And I've been less than enthusiastic about Sara Douglass's The Wayfarer Redemption because her writing style is omnipresent POV and rife with adverbs and it keeps pulling me out of a very cool story. I get really pissed when I keep wanting to skim through my fiction to follow the story. I finally got sick of trying to force myself to read books I should be reading (due to extreme popularity or frequent referrals by other writers - I figure these authors must be doing something right, so I should read and take notes). Now I'm reading the books I want to be reading. I started last weekend with Sheila's latest Jessica Hall romance The Kissing Blades. But those take me no longer than a week to zip through (and I never skim, and I love every minute of it - thank you, Sheila), and all I had left were books I should be reading. I finally got sick of trying to read Wayfarer and made a trip to a used book store today.

I picked up a couple romances by a woman that used to work in the same desk I just got promoted from (years ago, so hopefully her good vibes were still there). I picked up a cookbook and a book on CD (for our upcoming trek to AZ for Turkey Day). And I found a book that actually grabbed my attention and made me itch to read it instead of writing today. Kristin Britain's Green Rider. I'm just excited that I've got something that I want to read again. I just hope I can stretch it out more than a week.

But this reading problem makes me worried that I might be a Reading Snob. I keep telling myself that I'm just paying more attention to the craft of writing than I used to. (Should've heard me Thursday night while watching the new show "Tru Calling". In the first few minutes, I kept saying things like, "Well, hello, Exposition." I did like the show, though. Neat concept. It'll be interesting to see if they can do something with it. Trimming down the time that they show the main character running would be a good start. She's attractive and has a good body. I get it. Move on.) But I never used to notice when writing was bad or the style was annoying in a book. I would just read and either be interested or not. Now it's "adverb" this and "exposition" that and "stop showing off your research". *sigh* Is this a fringe benefit of being a writer?

Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween

Trick-or-treater count is at 10. A couple witches, a pumpkin, an ogre, a princess, and Spiderman. One set of three kids had underwear on their heads. They explained that they lost a dare. The first kid was pretty young and tried to get into the apartment. No, literally. When I didn't open the door fast enough (read = a milisecond after he knocked), he started turning the door handle. I open the door to see Mom at the porch with a video camera and Son saying "Happy Halloween" and then walking away before I could give him candy. He came back and was very cute and so on and so forth. But he tried to open my door! Something else I noticed: all the kids say "Happy Halloween" instead of "Trick or treat" now. When did this happen and why? Is this a PC thing? Is this to prevent lawsuits? Or is it just a Colorado thing?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Joys of Colorado Weather

Well, the fires aren't a problem anymore. A cold front swooped down from Wyoming last night, dropping the temp from 80 to 30 and dumping snow and freezing rain on the problem areas. It's odd to think that yesterday I stood outside in a short-sleeved shirt in the sunshine and watched the flames and smoke of the Jamestown fire and today I bundled up in a leather coat and gloves to scrape ice off my car both in the morning AND the evening. It's too bad San Diego isn't "blessed" with the same finicky weather. Usually, this ping pong effect is amusing and/or annoying. Today, it was miraculous.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Colorado Tries to Outdo California

Nature decides to even the score. After all, if there's a big fire somewhere in the US, it seems that Colorado just has to give it a go as well. They keep saying that the fire is 10 miles northwest of Boulder, but it helps to remember that those are foothill mountain miles. Makes it a little difficult to come tearing down this way. It's still pretty frightening to see all the smoke. We've got a great view of it from where I work. Can even see the flames from here. The smoke is the only thing that will really effect us down here. There's a ton of it, and it's blowing right over our apartment complex. And the evacuation center for the fires is right by our apartment complex (which is about twenty miles from the fire, fifteen at the very least). There's also a small grass fire burning to the south of Denver, and the winds are set to blow until Friday. It's strange to be hearing about bad fires at the end of October. I thought this was a summer thing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Almost Forgot:


Another Fun Message from the Stars provides some strange horoscopes. I've already documented the whole "extraterrestrial intelligence" mentions. And now they're getting all analytical.

While it's great that you have your own solid set of beliefs and code of ethics, it isn't so marvelous that you want to preach to everyone else. Having strong faith in yourself or a righteous cause is one thing, Gemini, but trying to get other people to believe what you believe may be stepping over the line. Close friends and family members might be used to your pontifications, but take it easy around strangers and people you meet in a professional setting. There's a proper time and place for 'spreading the word,' and this isn't it.

I've actually done a pretty good job at fighting my Pontificating Habit (hehe). And I've especially cooled it down around strangers and colleagues who aren't "friends". I think. I hope. I usually reserve my "snits" for the people that (a) want to hear them (waves to Peg), (b) have no choice in the matter (waves to Mark), or (c) read my work (waves to a lot of people who may or may not have seen the rant about ethics and research in HD - theme can be hard to find and agree on).

The one area I'm really need to work on this still is critique groups. Most of the regulars are used to my theatrics and speeches. In fact, they often find them entertaining, even if only in a "Youth can be amusing" sort of way. But I'm sure I step on toes and feelings in my crit group tirades. I've been able to limit them, but they still happen. And I really don't think I'll ever stop them. They're fun, they're lively, and they're me. I try hard to let the gang know that it's nothing personal, I just happen to be worked up about something. Or that they inadvertantly pushed a button (waves to Linda C, who hit a huge button one week and then a smaller but still volatile one the next). And I'm really trying to cool the dramatic tendencies when it comes to responding to a pushed button in my crit groups. We'll see how successful I am.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Where's My Routine?

Big changes always flip me upside down, shake the loose change and lint out of my pockets, and then steal my shoes for good measure. Just look at my blogging count for the month of October. Not good. But I think I may be getting back on track. I stumbled onto a routine that worked yesterday. I don't know if I'll be able to make it work again. But it made for a good day yesterday: Play video games; write 1300 words in neat short story idea while taking occasional breaks to play video games; revise fifty pages of Human Dignity. The really good news about Sunday's fun schedule is that it reminded me just how much I love to write. I think the key was to write a decent amount on a fun idea that I'm just playing with. That really got me warmed up and eager to revise HD.

And it also paved the way to re-energize me for Red Rocks. I haven't even opened that file since August. But this morning in the car I heard Rich and Kath's theme song on the radio not once but twice. "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down. Amazing song. And perfect for them. Hearing that song made me realize that I have to write their story. It's going to take me three books, but I'm going to get it.

The other thing that may have helped this renewed sense of enthusiasm for my writing may be my decision to leave my chorus. Hopefully this total refocusing of creative energy will become part of my routine and one that I can sustain.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Afternoon Laugh

I'm very tired, I really want to be at home in my comfy pants, with my fuzzy socks, and a plate full of comfort food as I play Jak II or read Jessica Hall's latest, The Kissing Blades (took me long enough to pick it up). But, instead, I'm stuck at work in a new job that I like but I'm still figuring things out. And fumes from the permanent marker I had to use to write an address on a box are still hanging around my cube. Ick. So I took a break and checked out the latest Onion. Found this. Laughed myself silly. Especially the second to last one. And the watermelon one. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Showing Off Research

I'm not talking about scientific research. IMO, that should be displayed proudly to anyone who can stand to listen. And if you're going to gab about it, make sure the normal folk can understand. But that's another story entirely. I want to rant about writers who insist on showing off their research - or defending it in crits. Most of the time you can tell when a writer has written some snippet based on research. There's a prominent mention of detail or facts. Usually it's small, so you don't mind reading it. And, most of the time, it's also presented in a fashion where you can say, "Cool, I didn't know that" and add to your reading experience. But there are times when all you can gather from reading a research snippet is that the author wanted to gloat/brag/etc about how well he can understand something or how well he researched something. My biggest example of this is Michael Crichton's Prey. I disliked this book for many, many reasons. But the one thing that always bugged me was how Mike couldn't stop showing off his research. I remember distinctly a couple pages where he goes on in three different ways about evolving from a common ancestor. One way he described it worked great: it got the important details for the book across in a quick, easy to understand way that stayed true to the science. I would've been quite happy and not minded the obvious display of "Look, Ma, I can understand science" had he left it at that one long paragraph. But the man had to go on about it in two more ways, both of which were stuffy, boring, detail-buried, and written in some archaic form of English. I read this book months ago. So why do I have my undies in a twist about it now?

Last night, I encountered a Research Exhibitionist in the making in my crit group. She has a neat story idea, she writes well, and she also has great feedback for others. She has a problem keeping her mouth shut when it's someone else's turn to talk, but we're dealing with that. But this woman has also Researched the Hell out of her book. That's not a bad thing. The bad thing is when she insists on defending this research every time someone comments on having a problem with something. For example, the doctor in the scene she brought last night grabbed a brown bottle and poured something out of it. Someone had a problem with there being no label on the bottle (we can get pretty picky sometimes). I agreed it was problematic because, as a scientist, I labeled everything. She went on about her research and how the doctors of the times used different colored and shaped bottles to distinguish things and not labels. This sounds vaguely familiar. So, fine, our nitpick isn't one she need concern herself with. Move on, don't waste our time going ape shit over something tiny like that. I wouldn't have had a problem with this defense, really, had it not been the last of twenty we had to suffer through. I'm guilty of getting defensive about my work, sure. But there comes a time when enough is enough. Just bite your tongue and ignore the comment when you go to do revisions. It's not that hard.

Or maybe my skin is just that thick.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


I'm thinking about dropping out of my Sweet Adelines Chorus. It's becoming more of a chore than anything (and one I pay $300 a year for in dues alone, not to mention gas to rehearsals, lodging for retreats and other trips, and buying sundries for costumes). The few people I really connect with in the chorus are so busy that they often aren't there the times that I am there. And I feel like the only reason I keep going is to support the chorus with my strong lead voice. A sense of obligation is not something to make for a fun time if that's the only reason you're there. We have a show coming up in about a month, so now the big decision is whether or not to stay in until after the show or drop out now. I'm tempted to do the latter, but I don't want to leave these women in the lurch.

It's sad for me to participate in a singing group that drains exponentially more than it adds to my life. I just can't keep doing it anymore. But I'm really going to try and make it work until the show. I owe them that much, and then I can go out with a bang as well. I'll have to get back into Sweet Adelines in Tucson. I should have the money for it then, and I'll hopefully have the time as well (or be more willing to make the time).

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Catching Up

Whew. So the week of musical computers and training like there's no tomorrow is over. My time will still be stretched pretty thin as I find my rhythm at a new desk and figure out the new area, but at least I'll be doing so from my own desk with my own computer. My sanity was tapped by the end of the week because I hate change only slightly less than I hate moving. Most of that stress should be gone now. I spent yesterday finishing my revisions for Part One. I had meant to dive into revisions for Part Two today, but then I realized just how badly the apartment needed cleaning. Fighting entropy took priority, and now I'm just going to chill for the rest of the night.

Giving Up: I've updated my "Currently Reading" thing on the side bar. I've given up on Cherryh's Faded Sun trilogy. It's been a long time since a book has frustrated me that much. I'll probably give it a try again later, but I just don't have the patience for a really cool story line that moves at the pace of molasses because of detours into weather reports and intricate details and feelings and actions that don't seem to have any bearing on anything and serve only to throw a wrench into what quick pace the book accomplishes every now and then. Sheila, you've spoiled me. I expect all my fiction to move at lightning speed and never let me put it down and still provide me with a rich experience. The only thing that makes me mad about that is that I find so little fiction other than yours that doesn't do that. And yet those editors and agents keep telling me I should be writing stories like yours (in terms of pace and depth and such). If we're all supposed to be writing like that, how come I keep finding fiction that misses the mark? This is a frustration as a reader, not a writer. Although the writer finds it frustrating too. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Mud, and Other Fun News

Addy and Nosey have officially been renamed. Their new names are "Mud". For the past two weeks, I've tried to make a loaf of bread in our fancy schmancy bread machine. I'd put in all the ingredients in the right order, program it, and come home to find a nice ball of dough instead of a loaf of bread. We've tried a few different things to rule out user error. This morning's experiment was to not use a delay cycle at all, just get the darn thing mixing right away. I was fairly confident that this would work. I come home after a rather long day (See "Other News") to find the bread machine pulled out of the socket, tossed on the kitchen floor, the door ripped off (nice bits of plastic where hinges used to be), and the bread pan itself upended with a nice ball of dough sitting on the kitchen floor.

The kitties were name "Mud" shortly thereafter.

And the mystery of The Bread Machine goes into the "Cold Case" file.

Other News: So on top of training someone to replace me and getting trained for a new job, I had to drive down to Denver this morning and take care of my follow-up appointment for that icky sleep study I did a month ago. I had a few blips that put one of my numbers into a category just outside of normal, but I don't have sleep apnea. Which I pretty much figured would be the case. Nothing is ever simple when it comes to my medical life. But the doctor did offer suggestions to prevent the fun sleep episodes I do have. She suggested that my acid reflux, which hasn't bothered me too much since junior high, may be acting up just enough to mess around with my throat and make the muscles close up at night. So it's time to start taking some Tagamet stuff just before bed. And she also suggested that my constantly stuffed nose may be affecting things by draining into my throat at night. So it's time to start flushing my sinuses out on a regular basis. She also thinks the stuffed nose may be the biggest culprit behind my dizziness. We'll see.

As for the new job, things finally started to feel good there today. They had to set up a whole new desk for me (including computer, chair, phone, etc) and it didn't look like it was going to happen any time soon until today. Finally things started happening to get me up and running. Which did wonders for my attitude. I felt like I could finally get into a new routine. Very nice. I just can't wait until I'm settled. Friggin' change is never enjoyable.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Waiting for Chinese

I love multi-tasking. I'm typing this entry, participating in an on-line think tank at Forward Motion, and watching the Cubs beat the Marlins. Oh, and eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Chinese food I ordered. And I'm taking a transcript of the Think Tank. My mind is happy. It's very busy, it's very stimulated, it's got constant thought. But it's sick and tired of waiting for my food. Which thankfully just arrived.

This has been a blogging of Kellie's Friday night. We now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


One of my co-workers went to a meeting last night where Connie Willis spoke. This co-worker hadn't read any of Willis's books, so I recommended To Say Nothing of the Dog if she liked humorous but still science fiction and Doomsday Book if she didn't mind getting depressed. The test I've usually given people when I recommend Doomsday is to ask if they liked the movie "It's a Wonderful Life". If they did, then I say Doomsday is all for them. If they didn't, I point them toward Dog. Well, when I mentioned this to the co-worker, she said that Connie herself hates the movie and had written Doomsday "in a snit" about how she hated that movie. I really wish I had known this before I read the book.

I hate "It's a Wonderful Life". It's one of the most depressing things I've ever watched, and I really don't think the few minutes at the end where Jimmy Stewart decides not to take his life aren't all that uplifting after ninety minutes of watching a man's life get ruined in so many fun and delightful ways. When everyone's all smiling and happy saying, "Everytime a bell rings, an angel gets his wings," I'm still sobbing and aching for all the problems that are still going to be there for this man and everything he's suffered. Doesn't put me in the holiday spirit at all. I haven't watched the movie since I was in elementary school, I think. It left that bad a taste in my mouth. I catch snippets of it on TV during the holidays and gag. I get the same way about "Casablanca".

This is why I didn't care for Doomsday all that much. Now, had I known the book was a parody of Capra's Classic, I probably would've enjoyed the experience a bit more. I just think it's funny that there's someone out there who feels the same about this flick! Haters of IAWL, unite!

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Hyperactive Thoughts

Just can't seem to settle the noggin. Maybe it's the Mountain Dew I drank this morning. Maybe it's the fact that I got a promotion at work and need to start crossing over to a new job and work with someone to take my place. Maybe it's the fact that an agent has asked for the first thirty pages of my work and I still haven't hit the ground running with my revisions as I had hoped. It just seems that as soon as I focus in on one idea that I need to think about and plan and do something with, my brain's already zoomed on to something else. Dizzy in more ways than one. Big changes always do this to me. I'm looking forward to getting home and just forcing the brain to be still for a bit. Hard to do here.

Oh, and yes, you read that right. I've been promoted from Senior Administrative Assistant to Executive Assistant. I didn't even know I was a "senior" anything until I found out about the promotion. They're still "waiting for approval" on the pay increase. Go figure. I *heart* Corporate America.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Baby Bro

The brother has come and gone, a very whirlwind visit. And I still haven't caught up on the sleep I've been needing since last week. Is it Saturday yet?

Brad is now on his way to Oklahoma to do the same "hiandgoodbye" stop at Dad's. Brad had to call Dad last night to make sure the parental unit was aware of the actual dates of this visit. Funny the things we miss in a crazy cross-country trek. We all had fun chatting over dinner, hanging out in the hot tub (Mark and I were very pleased to learn that the pool would be kept open year-round), and then nibbling on snacks while watching "Monsters Inc." Well, Mark and Brad watched it. I passed out about ten minutes or so in. And I also slept so soundly last night that I didn't notice Mark having another one of his fun sleepwalking episodes and ripping off the covers and then replacing them. But then I had to get up at 5 again to make Brad some breakfast (aren't I a good sister and hostess?) and see him off.

I wish he had more time to hang around. He's been so busy these past four years, and that's right about when he started to get to be cool. :) No, Brad and I were getting over our growing pains at least six years ago, but it was like having a new friend and then not being able to chat for years. And now he's gone off and found himself a wonderful fiancee, so there's even less time I'll get to hang out with him. Silly brother, he's not supposed to grow up until I say so. And then he's got to do it on my terms.

Well, at least we'll get to see each other again for Thanksgiving. And then next summer for his wedding. Here's to hoping Mark and I can figure out a way to swing by the East Coast and visit all those relative types out there more often.

Monday, October 06, 2003


One last thing about our weekend. I promise. Just after we had checked out of the Omni, I remembered that we had left something in the fridge. So a manager had to bring up to the room so I could get in and get our stuff. A housekeeper happened to be there when we went it. Knowing full well that the guest who had previously stayed in the room was right behind her, the housekeeper opens the door and reacts to the state of our room with an "Oh my gosh!" Now, I'm extremely neat and organized in my own home, but I do get a bit free-spirited in a hotel room. I don't make the bed. I don't hang up towels we've used. That's about it. I'm quite sure that this woman has seen rooms in far worse condition. But it isn't really her reaction that disturbed me. It was the fact that she gave such an obvious reaction while I was still there. Well, she may have refrained from saying, "What pigs," becuase she knew I was right behind her. Now I'm going to be so ultra conscious of how I leave a hotel room.

No, that's a lie. We left the hotel room in Blackhawk in worse condition than the Omni. But there were some cleaning ladies hanging around. I was very tempted to lurk in the hall and listen for their response to the state of our room. Well, no matter how they reacted, I hope they felt guilty. I left them my brand-new, unopened Victoria's Secret mascara. Well, I didn't really leave it. It didn't make the transfer from the shopping bag to my suitcase. Not sure how I missed it. But if the cleaning ladies don't just throw away the shopping bag, then they've got some primo cosmetics (which I got for free because of some coupon, so I'm mainly just pissed I ended up losing out on the deal).


Mark and I had a great time this weekend. Dinner at Benihana's was absolutely scrumptious. I rediscovered my love for Midori with this great sake martini they made. The outdoor pool at the Omni was heated. Mark had a fun time tossing me around in it. We would've played longer, but a family with loud and rambunctious preteens came down and invaded. As we were leaving, the parents were joking, "Oh, looks like we've ruined their pool time. Just wait till they have kids. They'll get to ruin someone else's evening." It was said without malice and meant to be funny, but I still didn't appreciate it. Maybe because I get the feeling they would've said the same thing in the same tone had their kids thrown toys at us and splashed us - which they didn't do because we left before they could. I suppose I really need to get used to "wizened" parents and their "just you wait" speeches. When Mark and I have a newborn, it'll be the "look out for the terrible twos" lecture. And then will come the "just you wait until 13". And then "you thought that was bad, wait until college". Etc. etc. But I digress.

While at the Omni, we exchanged gifts. I won't list what I got for Mark because only Mark would really understand, and I already look too much like a weirdo as it is. Mark got me: yummy salsa; chocolate fondue; a beautiful, currently out of print Ansel Adams coffeetable book on the Southwest; and a gorgeous handmade journal. I'm afraid to sully its pages with my scientist's scrawl and mediocre musings.

The drive up to Blackhawk was nice, as was the town itself. We wandered around the casino, figuring out what kind of slots and table games they had (Colorado is a limited-stakes gaming state - that means very few table games and no roulette, much to Mark's dismay). We joined a player's club, and earned enough points for a free breakfast. The hotel also had quite a selection of movies (get your minds out of the gutter, we only watched "Holes", the Disney flick, not the....I said to get your minds out of the gutter).

Sunday we drove to Rocky Mountain National Park by way of some unpaved back roads. And we passed a trail of 20-30 Hummers. I guess Blackhawk is the Sturgis of Hummer Enthusiasts. But RMNP was just gorgeous. Aspens glowing red and gold. Elk being lazy. Mountains imposing. Very nice. Then we stopped into a nice Bavarian restaurant for dinner. I had to keep biting my tongue when our waitress tried to say German words. Spaetlese (SHPAYT-lays-eh) became "spotlezzi" and spaetzle (SHPAYT-zell) became "spatslee". You should've seen the look on her face when I asked for the Berkasteler Kurfurtslay Spaetlese with my proper German pronunciation. I had to point to my selection, and then she said, "Oh, the spotlezzi." (By the way, anyone know how to convince Blogger that there's nothing wrong with an umlaut?)

We finally got home at about 7 last night. And found a message from my darling brother that he would be arriving at 5 AM not 5 PM as originally intended. I felt tired just hearing that message. But I dutifully got up at 5 this morning to welcome my brother and chat with him over a nice breakfast of eggs. Turns out he didn't show up until nearly 8. But, hey, at least I had time to paint my nails. My sleep-deprived lids stopped objecting about an hour or two ago.

So that was my weekend. And, yes, I did get a nice collection of writing ideas this weekend, just as I knew I would. My muse can be predictable that way. I guess I need to plan more romantic getaways with Mark. Aside from the obvious reasons.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Is It 3:30 Yet?

I've been asking that question all day. At 3:30, I leave work to go pick up Mark. Then we check into our free room at the Omni (part of the deal for having our wedding reception there) and then we go to dinner at Benihana's. Tomorrow we'll drive up to Blackhawk and stay in a plush place up there (not free, unfortunately), gamble and indulge in room service. Sunday we'll drive through Rocky Mountain National Park and check out the foliage. And then we have to come home. But before we can get too bummed about the fun of the weekend being done, my brother will be in for a quick visit Monday night. And then I'll have all week to think about how Mark and I have been married for a year. Wow.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Who's Fighting Who Here?

OK, so I've been laboring under the impression that my muse is the one who runs the show. When things are rough and I can't put a subject and a verb together to save my soul, I've always grumbled about my damn muse, yelling at her for revoking her capricious gifts of creativity and inspiration. Something made me reconsider last night as I struggled to fall asleep for the second night in a row (ask me how tired I am today!). Maybe I'm the one fighting the muse. Maybe she's trying to force ideas and words into my consciousness, and I'm not letting her.

I can't remember exactly why I thought I might have a role in the "Where's My Muse?" game. It made sense to me at the time as I tried to get comfortable and prayed for sleep last night. Now my reasoning seems fuzzy through a two-nights-of-bad-sleep haze. Regardless of why, though, I realized that I need to work with my muse more. Instead of just complaining about her and trying to bend to her whim, I need to start chatting with her. It's time to make inspiration a two-way street.

That's why I'm going to force myself to outline HD. And sketch out Denise, Aidan, and Mike. That's the goal today. To just get that stuff done and stop fretting about perfection. Then I'll have the weekend to let it stew. Which reminds me....

I found out that my muse is as warped as I am when she gave me the inspiration for Velorin during my honeymoon. While Mark and I drove around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Moab, Zion, Monument Valley, and Bryce Canyon, Ms. Muse gave me a map for Velorin, complete with what most of the world would look like, geographically speaking. And she also gave me a character that was a ghost, of a sort, which eventually helped me figure out the magic of Velorin. Because these ideas that she dropped into my mind were extremely cool and fun, I thought nothing of scribbling down notes on hotel stationery in between other honeymoon, uhm, activities. To add to my odd view of things, I also thought nothing of sharing my exciting ideas with fellow writers - including that they came to me while on my honeymoon. Enter the teasing and snide comments about my husband's sexual prowess - or implied lack thereof.

These jokes took me by surprise. I hadn't even thought about the implications of me getting ideas for a book during my honeymoon. Poor Mark. If I had realized that people would immediately assume that I came up with Velorin because I had less entertaining things to do, I never would've mentioned it. After a couple rounds of these wisecracks, I found my comeback. Anytime someone gave me hell about Mark's ability to please me on our honeymoon, I said that Mark's attentions were just that inspiring. With an appropriate nudge and wink and "if-you-know-what-I-mean" eyebrow wiggle, of course.

This weekend Mark and I are going out of town to celebrate our first anniversary. Knowing my muse, and my own recent illuminations, I will be scribbling all sorts of writing notes during our trip. But I'm not so sure that I'll be telling everyone about the circumstances in which these ideas came to me this time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Is It December 17 Yet?

Omigodomigodomigodomigodomigod! It's here! The trailer is here!!!!! Suddenly it doesn't matter that I couldn't fall asleep until 3 AM and that I'm dead on my feet today. I'll just keep this site bookmarked and drool over it every so often today. I wonder how long this excited energy will last?

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

So Tired

Today the clouds have decided to hang around. They're blocking the sun. They're hiding the mountains. They're hovering in the sky with a bland gray that hurts the eyes and the heart. They're really pissing me off. I'm not ready for gray skies and cold breezes and bare trees. The only consolation is that the sun will be back shortly. It usually can't stand to be blocked by clouds for more than a day or two here. Still...

Blah weather makes me feel blah. It probably doesn't help that I've been genuinely tired pretty often this month. That may just be a product of paying attention to my sleep patterns for all this sleep apnea test stuff. Whatever the cause, though, I'm really tired. and that's about the way September went for me.

I've got a few ways to combat this. I'm going to drag my butt out of bed and exercise regularly instead of hitting snooze for an hour. I don't know if that hour of snooze sleep is helping or hurting my sleepiness, but the exercise will only help, so I'm going to start giving that a better try. And next on the list once I see how that goes is to analyze my writing patterns and come up with a better schedule for me. I still haven't found a plan that works well for me. And I don't like the attitude of "I'll write whenever the muse lets me". It's a cop out. So hopefully the constant exercise will perk me up and give me a good idea about how to write regularly. An idea that feels right.

And those clouds better take the hint and breeze on out of here. That will do a world of good too.

Saturday, September 27, 2003


I just found out that I have spellchecker abilities now! Amazing! So much for that excuse when I see typos on my blog....


Two weeks ago, I spent the weekend with 300 other writers and a handful of agents and editors. The agents and editors were the most sane and human of the bunch, which surprised me after all those evil publishing world stories and terrible rejection letters I've heard about. I was warned that writers loved to talk about themselves and their books, but I didn't expect to be clocking how long it took before someone did the "In my book..." question to a panel (in case you're wondering: thirty minutes into the conference, which means it was the first question to the first panel; ten minutes later, another writer used the same ploy to the same panel). What really shocked me was that the question always had this arrogant tone to it. Maybe that's just the way my ears heard it, but "In my book..." came out in true John Cleese fashion. By the end of the first day, the "In my book..." business was so pervasive that I was trying to tell myself I wasn't really a writer, that I had been forced into this weekend as part of some cruel punishment. OK, so it wasn't that bad, but it got close.

For example, I was chatting with someone about editor feedback in rejection letters and in general. The other writer was talking about how he couldn't think of "whoring" his book by changing everything the editor asked for. After all, The Book was Perfect because the Writer had Written it. I made some sort of comment to the effect that, if he wasn't willing to change it, he could forget the idea of publishing The Book. That's when he said that he would just have to write a different book then. I'm not sure if my jaw dropped or not. I know it wanted to. I hadn't expected to bump into The Artiste with that person. But the stereotype was there, lurking, waiting for the best moment to laugh "Bwahaha!" and spew some arrogant statement.

And then there were the writers, in all their wisdom, that had to tell me what was wrong with my book and how to fix it. These comments would usually blindside me. The rare times I did talk about my book, it was in this style:
Writer: "Aren't contest judges odd?"
Me:"Yes, you should see the differences in my comments. 'Eugene was compelling.' 'Eugene was a blank.'" Etc
Arrogantly Helpful Unpublished Artiste: (butting in) "I thought Eugene was a problem. You should sit down with me and go over *insert piece of writing craft here*. It'll fix all your problems."

I learned so much that weekend. And when Teresa pointed out problems in Human Dignity, I listened. I saw the problems, and I started thinking of ways to fix them. True, I could've defended the things she pointed out, but what's the point. A big shot editor is telling me the things that are preventing her from publishing my book. I want my book published. I will fix said things, especially because I see exactly how they're holding my story back. HD is all about theme. It would take a lot of ruthless tweaking by anybody to get rid of that. Even AHUA. Which is why I grit my teeth and even made plans of working with AHUA to go over *insert piece of writing craft*. Hey, if I learn something, great. Chances are even AHUA's arrogant comments can trigger something to make my writing better. Even if it's just an example of what not to do.

I dunno, maybe my attitude that My Writing Is Not Perfect comes from the fact that I never even considered myself a writer until a year ago. I grew up with the expectation that I would be a research scientist at a university. When writing came along, it was a shock. And I knew I had a lot to learn because I had never spent any time training for a career as a writer. That and I've always loved to learn. So if someone can show me a new way or a new idea or a new thought, I'm there, eager and willing. It's just not in my nature to say "Where does that Big Shot Editor get off?" after a good crit by BSE - even if it is only a way to soothe my ego. The way I soothe my ego in that case is to say "BSE pointed out things I already knew were a problem, some things I can see being a problem, and I've already got a few ideas on how to fix things." That's my way of licking my wounds.

I think that's going to be the one problem with getting more involved in writing. I'll start seeing bigger and bigger egos. I just hope mine doesn't swell with them.