Monday, March 31, 2003

I'm BA-ACK! :) Competition itself went very well, the rest of weekend...well...that's a long story. My chorus improved 28 points from last year and were 2 points away from the 3rd place small chorus, and only 6 points away from the 2nd place small chorus. We've never ever gotten that close to placing before. It's very exciting. We might actually place next year (in the small chorus scoring, not the overall contest). And I didn't go to the Show of Champions again this year. I'm not all that upset about missing it (I'm upset about why I missed it, but that's the other story). The whole experience made me realize that perhaps I don't want to go hog-wild with this hobby and become a director and sing in a quartet and run for management team. Maybe I just want to sing. Who knows? Maybe that will change once I'm a full-time writer (I've stopped saying "if" in regards to this). But I'm still going to sing with my chorus and get what I can out of it.

The other story is that I will never again stay at another Sheraton hotel. And you shouldn't either. My roomie brought her dog into the room for the weekend. I was under the impression everything was on the up and up with that. After dinner on Saturday, I try to get into my room, but my card didn't work. Turns out they had cancelled our cards so we would have to go to the front desk. I wouldn't have minded except for the fact that I had to get all the heat from the pissed off manager about my roomie's dog (which apparently wasn't allowed in the room). He said that he'd had complaints of barking and that he had sent security to investigate. Even after I told him it wasn't my dog, this manager was still reading me the riot act. So I went back to my room, only to discover that someone had eaten pizza on my bed. Toppings and crumbs and grease stains all over my turned-down sheets. My roomie hadn't done it (and I know because she wasn't in the room alone with pizza during the time it happened). So I called the front desk and talked to the same manager. He obviously didn't believe me and thought I was making up some bogus claim in retaliation, but he sent security down anyway. The security guy put a card reader in the slot and determined that only guests had been in the room (even though the reader indicated times that my roomie and myself were physically nowhere near the room). The manager then calls me back to tell me that, as far as he was concerned, the room was secure because only my roomie, me, and himself had been in the room. Himself? He had told me security was sent to the room, not that he went to the room. The manager offerred me nothing - not even to get the sheets changed. I was pissed. After fuming, I went down to the front desk and asked for a new room. He said they were booked and he couldn't give me a new room. So I checked out (and had to pay for two nights, too, bastards). Meanwhile we find out that the manager had NOT used an employee card to access the room, but rather a card that came up as a guest card. Also, their precious security reader computer was twenty minutes behind on its clock. And to top it all off, on the one night I did sleep in the room, two spiders decided to feast on me (OK, two distinct bitemarks isn't a feast, but it's still gross). So, tomorrow I will write scathing letters to the hotel and the women in charge of booking hotels for competition. Why not today? I still have ten hours to write 2500 words to complete the March dare. And I've already wasted too much time today getting caught up.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

OK, so I'm off for the day and will not be on-line again until Sunday. Here I go to sing at Colorado Springs! :)
AARGH! I just finished typing a nice long entry. Lots of neat insights. Lots of cool plans for the next year or three of my writing. Pep talks and such. AND THEN BLOGGER LOST IT ALL!!!! Gah. Well, here's the short of it: more frustrations because I'm so close to finishing but can't seem to finish because of problems that won't be fixable until I see the finished project. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I wrote 562 words yesterday. And I have a pretty good idea about what's going to happen up to the end of Part 2. Just have to figure out who dies and who lives. It's not going to be pretty. And while that's been going on, I keep getting more and more ideas for my fantasy trilogy - mainly inspired by songs. Which is appropriate since the magic in that world is musically based. I'm even putting together a CD of songs that either have inspired scenes for this world or just feel like they belong there. It's a lot of fun. But I'm not getting too excited yet, seeing as how I should really focus on cranking out another standalone scifi book before I get too caught up in the fantasy trilogy. My standalone scifis will be much easier to sell as a first-timer than the first book of a trilogy. Well, "easier" meaning that I might get a couple agents and/or publishers to actually read my query letter all the way through before they file it in the trash. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Well, I ended up writing 1200 words on Saturday. Then I did absolutely no writing Sunday. Believe it or not, I have not scheduled any writing time on Monday (that day is for crits, research and outlining future stories). So I haven't written since Saturday. But I did kind of need the time to let my brain come up with ideas for what I want to do in the next chapter. I've got a few. But I'm still not sure. I have a feeling these chapters are going to start getting short as the climax in Part 2 approaches. Which should hit after this next chapter. Which means I'm getting close to finishing Part 2. And I still have no idea how it's going to end and what Part 3 is going to be about. Part 3 might be a very small part. Or not. It all depends on Aidan. He finally started coming to life in my mind this week. But I'm still not sure what the heck he wants out of life. Well, he's only 15 - he likely doesn't know either. :) OK, time to balance the checkbook, sketch out some ideas for my fantasy trilogy that hit me in the car this morning (my baddies in that trilogy are really not pleasant, but I love the fact that I've figured out what made them unpleasant - time to start jerking at the reader's heartstrings and sense of morals/ethics! :)), and get some writing done.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Blame the Cats: Only written 400 hundred words today so far. I'm aiming for 3k. It's the cats fault. They're being so lazy and cute and cuddly. I took a break to read a book for a few minutes. But then both cats snuggled up with me and those few minutes turned into two hours. I suppose it didn't help that I was likely looking for an excuse to be lazy, either. I guess I haven't gotten tired of lounging around and doing next to nothing. Probably a side effect of working so hard for the past fifteen years and not having to anymore. It's nice not to push myself. It's nice to "waste" time reading a ton of books and watching fun movies and pampering myself. But the moments where I am impatient to get this book finished keep snapping me out of my laziness. Same with the knowledge that I'm working fourty plus hours a week as a secretary and I certainly don't want to be doing that for the rest of my life. Maybe I should schedule in some lazy time in the grid I created yesterday. Write for two hours and then do whatever the heck I want for two hours, then write for another two hours. Maybe that's the way to wean me off this habitual laziness. And if that's the case, then it's time to write for another two hours.

Friday, March 21, 2003

This reporter is embedded with my brother's battalion. Watch abc news and look for an incredibly skinny Marine with no hair and big ears.
War, Weather, and Writing: Everyone's talking about war. And because none of them are saying, "Sgt Brad Hazell is being shipped home today," I find it very annoying, trite, full of rhetoric, and just, in general, pointless. And a little surreal. I don't think the full realization has hit me yet. That the images I see on TV are what my brother experiences first hand. But at the same time, I did feel a little better after watching all the footage of troops in Kuwait and Iraq. They all looked like they were having as good a time as possible. I saw one soldier run up to an abandoned observation point and take the Iraqi flag that was hanging there. Of course, the newscaster went off on the symbolism of us returning the flag to the Iraqi people and blah, blah, blah. Nah. That kid is looking to get it signed by Saddam and framed over his bunk back home. And that normal behavior for troops just made me feel better. That my brother was likely doing the same kind of thing over there. I can't wait to hear some of the Saddam joks they've undoubtedly come up with. And this is how I'm going to deal with the war as long as we hear no news of resistance from Iraqi troops and friendly casualties on the battlefields. If that news does start coming back, I have no idea what I'm going to do.

The other topic that's all over the news (and seems to get equal airtime here) is the "Blizzard 2003." Denver has been very slow to recover. And that's hard for me to imagine because Boulder recovered very quickly. The roads were very passable during the worst of the storm, haven't really been icy, or anything. Another bit of surrealism. I'm actually getting rather sick of hearing about all the snow that everyone else got. Let's just move on, people. And make sure we're prepared for another storm that seems to be heading our way for next week.

As for writing, I did manage to finish Chapter 8 yesterday. And I think I've figured out a little of what I want to do to improve my good guy action. First off, I actually need to give them some action. And I've got a few ideas for that. It requires shipping them off to Bethesda ASAP, though. And just when I was really enjoying the cavern system. I've been doing some more wandering through Forward Motion, and stumbled on Sheila's "Writing in Multiple Genres" class. Complete with a sample weekly schedule. And it made me realize that I truly need to write down a schedule for myself if I hope to finish this book by summer. Be a little more structured with my time. That ought to help me out a lot. That's the hope, anyway.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Well, I've been buried under snow here for a while, so that's why I haven't blogged the past two days. Boulder really didn't get hit too hard. I think we only managed to get 30 inches or so in about as many hours. The rest of the area really got pummelled. It was so bad yesterday that the cops were issuing tickets if you didn't have an emergency reason to be on the road. And "going to my secretarial job" most likely wouldn't qualify. So I had a snow day. Now the management is really dragging its feet to tell us whether or not we'll get paid for yesterday, or if we'll have to claim it as a vacation day. I'm betting on the latter, knowing the kind of cheapskates I work with. The only reason I even knew not to go in yesterday was because I called to tell them I couldn't make it in after trying. You'd think they could've called a couple people? Maybe that would've prevented others in worse areas from trying to get in as well. But this is a subject on which I could rant and rave for several blog entries. So I'll leave it alone for now.

I didn't do any writing with my snow-induced free time. I wanted my subconscious to percolate the issues I talked about in my last entry. That and Mark got to stay home yesterday, too, so we got to play Married Couple. Lotsa fun.

And then it stopped being fun when PJ called to tell me the war had started. At first I was relieved because it was just a bunch of missiles and air strikes. But now they've announced troops have actually started heading in. Please, God, keep my brother safe.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Writing: I didn't write at all yesterday. Just sat around playing videogames. I felt guilty, but I just couldn't write. I was convinced my story was going nowhere or heading toward a crappy ending. I've been feeling that way a lot the past couple weeks. Mark doesn't understand it. He says my writing's great and I have no reason to doubt that. And I know he's not just saying that because vital parts of his anatomy may be at risk. So finally yesterday I forced myself to think about why I was so short on self-esteem. I came up with four reasons. 1) I have never completed a draft of a book, revised it, and tried to get it out there. The Unknown always does wicked things to my attitude, and this is probably no exception. But if this the only reason, then it's going to suck forcing myself through this ickiness just to have completed the Writing Process on one book so I have a basis for understanding it. If that made any sense.... 2) I stopped doing my night and morning rituals the past couple weeks in favor of sleep. I have a feeling it's not helping anything to spend less time pampering myself with nightly moisturizing and daily workouts. So I fixed that last night and forced myself to get back in that routine. 3) There is something wrong with my protagonists. They've either got the wrong motivation or I'm not expressing them right. Either way, it needs to be fixed before I really like any scene I wrote involving them. It kinda went down hill when Josie came into the picture. I'll have to let that simmer in my head for a while and see if I can really pinpoint the problem and come up with a solution. And, lastly, 4) I really do suck. :) I don't think that's true - at least, I hope it's not true. But I think it's still going to be there (hopefully in much smaller doses) until I get through the process with Human Dignity.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

So I managed to write 1135 words today. I had hoped to do some more after my Worldbuilding class, but I think I'd rather take a shower, do my nails, pamper myself. I think I can write 4000 words tomorrow. I just have to force them out of me and stop focusing on the fact that they really need some revision. The point is to get it all down and THEN go through and fix them.
OK, done with the competition stuff. Took a while. Between making the copies this morning and putting together the folders, I think I spent at least four hours on this stuff. Not what I had wanted to do today, but it is done. Now I can get back to writing. And no matter what, this weekend wasn't a total wash for writing. I did write about 1000 words last night for a scene that I think will be one the first in the fantasy trilogy I'm still fleshing out. OK. Going to grab a snack and then get to work on Part Two.
Well, I didn't do the competition stuff yesterday. So I'm doing it today. And thus cutting into my writing time. But it will be nice to just get this done. Plus the weather is so beautiful that to stay chained to my computer would just be cruel and unusual. I'm looking forward to having that laptop so I can go wherever the spirit moves me during nicer weather. That'll be nice. But today I indulged in one of my sunny, warm weather faves - driving with the windows down and the stereo blasting bright music. One of the radio stations in town had it figured out today and was actually playing tons of summer songs. It was just heavenly. One day I'd like to go horseback riding in this kind of weather. To see if it can compare to the sense of freedom and joy that driving fast (but not too fast, of course) on a beautiful day with great music does. And now Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits is blaring through the apartment, the balcony doors flung open, and that's where I'll be doing my competition stuff.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Very tired. I have to do stuff for competition today, but I really don't want to. In fact, I'd rather be at home so I can take a nap, read a little (I actually think I'm capable of putting Sheila's book down after only reading a chapter or two...or four now) and then write. This weekend is another marathon and I'd really like to crank out at least 5000 words (that's about 20-25 pages). Maybe I'll get inspired and steamroll through the remainder of Part Two. That would be nice.

Last night we went to a reception for SUNY Buffalo Honor Program alums here in town. It was very small and very cozy. And Mark really enjoyed it, which was nice. And, of course, I had to answer the "Where are you from?" question several times. I've settled on the "I'm a military brat, so I'm not really from anywhere, but I've lived everywhere" kind of response. And if people want to hear more, they ask. If they don't, they smile and move on to some other bit of conversation. Makes my life easier. And their's, too, I imagine. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Yay! I just finished Chapter 7. I've been stuck on this thing for over a week. I adjusted it a little from my plan. Mike called instead of Josie. But it all worked out. Feels good to have written it. Took about 600 words. And I've got a good idea of where I'm going with Chapter 8. Maybe I'll get a head start on that tomorrow.
Great news: Mark's boss asked him to present at a meeting in August at Cold Spring Harbor. This is a really big deal for molecular biology. A very good place for Mark to start making a path for his career. Looks good on a resume. All that jazz. I'm so excited for him. And it's nice to know that his boss hasn't been blind to the slave labor he's been getting out of my husband for the past year especially. I'd love to go with him to experience that, but I might not be able to. Right about the time of the meeting, we'll be recovering from our summer of travels AND finishing all that unpacking from the move. We'll see.

In other news, we did officially buy a laptop last night. But they didn't have anymore in stock, so it's being shipped to us. Should arrive Monday or Tuesday. We got a really amazing warranty to go with it. Granted, we did have to spend the money we would have received from the mail-in rebates to do it, but it was worth it. I get free checkups whenever I want them for 3 years. And they fix anything free of charge. Including replacing batteries (which cost the same as what we paid for the warranty). Very cool. We can't wait to start playing with our new toy. It's a good thing I'm really getting the hang of monthly budgeting, too. That'll help me and Mark pay this thing off quick.

And I've still got two more books in the StarDoc series to plow through, but I only have one of them. And I'm starting to get detached enough from it that I can actually get back to my own writing. That, and I finished the book I brought with me to work and I don't have the next one. So it's either write or twiddle my thumbs until quitting time. Gee, tough choice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Another day of reading and not writing. I stayed up late last night to finish the second in the series and am blowing through the third one. Sometimes I just hate it when a story consumes me like this. Nothing gets done. Well, that's not true. Getting something big done today. Mark and I decided to buy a laptop (on a convenient monthly plan, of course). This means my writing can go mobile. Which will be espeicially helpful given all the flights we have to take this summer and our move to Longmont. It'll be easier for Mark to go into the lab on a Saturday with the car if I can go with him and burrow myself in the library with my writing. Or run errands and then burrow myself in the library. Plus he'll have something he can bring to work to help his own writing for papers and thesis stuff. This means I'll also be able to bring my writing with me to competition and get some work done there, too. Every minute helps. Well, every minute after I've finished the StarDoc novels. Damn you, Sheila. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Hmmm...I wonder if the Fourth Age of Middle Earth will see the evolution of fine reporting such as this?

Really, though, I am going to write today. Honest.

Monday, March 10, 2003

I've really gotta start making entries on the weekend. Maybe that will help me write on the weekends, too. Yes, that means I didn't write this weekend. I had every intention of doing so on Saturday, but Sheila really writes some damn good books and I was, erm, forced to spend the whole day reading them. I don't think I've ever read through 350+ page book all in one day. But I did. I only took breaks to do the laundry. The only thing that's kept me from reading the second book in that series is that I've been freakishly busy today and I'm ready for a nap. So if I don't finish my novel before the summer, it's all Sheila's fault. : )

On the singing front, we had a spring fling concert yesterday. My chorus, another chorus, and five quartets had a chance to do their competition songs. It was actually a lot of fun. It felt good performing our songs for an audience. They got a real big kick out of the choreography that Susie and I put together what seems like ages ago. I'm excited for competition, but still thinking about setting this hobby aside for a bit, or just really toning it down. We'll see. I need to figure out what things are going to be like after competition.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Injury Update: My finger is damn near healed!! I don't have to wear band-aids anymore and the skin has almost all grown back. It's still a little sensitive, but it's nice to not have a hulking bandage on my finger anymore. Yippee!!
So I managed to write a grand total of 20 words this afternoon. Argh. I know exactly what I want to have happen for the rest of this chapter and basically how I want to do it. But I can't seem to write it. I've never had a block like this before. So I'm going to go to Think Tank tonight and just see if I can glean some inspiration from those folks. It's been a while since I've been to a TT. I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm also really jazzed because I scored four books by SL Viehl (see blog links) at the Used Book Store. I had to deal with terrible drivers to get them, though. I've never had so many near collisions in one thirty minute period. I had not one but FOUR cars narrowly avoid slamming into me as I was pulling up to the line in a left turn lane. Do these people have any idea how to square their turns? But the books should be worth it.
I really freaked out last night when Bush's press conference came on. I thought for sure we were going to hear the "go" order for the war. Up until that point, it didn't seem real that my brother was on a boat, anchored in the Persian Gulf. But the reality smacked me in the face last night. The realization that my brother has a gun (and will very likely need to use it on another human being) just sprang to life. I never had to think about my father's job in those terms. I wasn't prepared for the pain and grief and fright. I know this is what my brother's been trained to do. And from what he's told me, he's also found a way to deal with the consequences of his bullets. But it still tears me to pieces. My brother's life will be directly threatened just as he will directly threaten the lives of Iraqi soldiers. And the full knowledge of that situation is just too much. I never had to think of the military in those terms - I purposefully didn't let myself think of it in that way. It made it easier to support what my dad did and what everybody else I encountered in the military did. It's a terrible necessity in this world at the moment and I support every last member of the armed forces. It was just so much easier to remove myself from that necessity when I could reason that my father wasn't anywhere near the front lines of any skirmish. I never had to think about what the front lines truly meant. And I really didn't want to. I've found some way to deal with it today, but it's made me a bit of a space cadet. I've forgotten to do a couple things - they took care of themselves and there wasn't a problem. But still. I hate it when I do stuff like that.

Part of why I've been a space cadet is that I've been doing a lot of "play" stuff this morning as a way to keep my mind off other things. I've officially joined a crit circle at Forward Motion. And I posted another chapter of Part 2 there. Between today and tomorrow, I hope to finish Chapter 7. And then next weekend is another marathon. I really think I can finish Part 2 by mid April. That would be nice.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Blogger's been having issues today and yesterday. So I'm not sure if this will actually make it to my blog.

Mark and I have now beat two video games in two days. I killed the last boss on Ratchet and Clank Tuesday (and the boss was supremely easy with this insane weapon we spent hours earning enough money to buy) and Mark beat the last world on Jak and Daxter last night. Both games have more things we can do in order to unlock more cutscenes and maybe previews for upcoming sequels and such. But I'm just impressed at our video game prowess.

And I do have my disk with me today, and I have an idea of what Denise and Josie need to chat about, but I've got a bit of chorus business to take care of. So I may not have time to write at work. Maybe at home tonight.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Gah! I left my disk at home! I don't have my novel to work on. *pouts* It's probably for the best as I'm still not sure if the next scene should be Denise talking to Josie or Mike's surprise call to Denise. I've been leaning toward the chat with Josie, but I really have no idea what they're going to talk about. And I needed the previous chapter as a reference for it. Which is neatly saved on a disk sitting on my desk at home. Oh, well. I can at least read some more of KatFeete's story and critique it. I really like her stuff.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Kellie the Ruthless Fairhair: Well, that's a mesh of the two viking names I was given this morning. Kellie Fairhair and Kellie the Ruthless. I like the combination of the two. It might not be truly a viking name anymore, but it works for me!

Chorus rehearsal was great last night! Sharon was back, we had a guest director, everyone paid attention and focused. It was so nice to have a good night. I'm actually looking forward to competition now. And it encourages me for afterwards, too. But I still need to chat with Sharon and Edie about my directing responsibilities. I think I either need to cut back or just get more regular "lessons" from Sharon or Edie. At any rate, what's happening with directing now is not working.

Random Link of the Day: While researching cat declawing procedures, I came across a site that finally outlined all the procedures available and the pros & cons. All in a fairly objective manner. I was impressed.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Grrr. I'm trying to research bus pass prices so that way Mark can drive to work once we move. But it's looking less and less like I'll be able to bus to work. It costs more to buy a year pass on our bus system than it does to buy a year's worth of gas for our car. I thought this was supposed to be the alternative to driving to work. Sheesh.
Great weekend! I didn't go to rehearsal, I didn't write. I just sat on my butt and did whatever came into my head to do (well, mostly). I lounged around in a robe, I played video games, I cleaned up the house, I started picking things up for our new place. It was great. I feel very much refreshed and ready to deal with writing and singing again. Well, at least ready to deal with singing until the end of the month. I'll think about after competition later - namely, after competition!

And congrats to my brother-in-law John for defending his title in Buffalo's City Hall race. This is a competition dedicated to timing how fast a person can go tearing up God knows how many flights of stairs. Mark tells me that John's set his sites on a similar race - set in the Empire State Building!!!!! Well, all I have to say is, "Better him than me!" Congrats, John!