Wednesday, July 30, 2003


I broke the 20,000 word barrier in Red Rocks today. I'm still not comfortable writing in my hero's POV. I keep trying on different attitudes with him. It's interesting, to say the least. I'm just excited that it's coming along so well. It took me over two years to break 20,000 words in Human Dignity. I'm feeling pretty happy.

If James Bond Were a Woman

He'd be Lara Croft. Elegant, sophisticated, British, and knows how to kick some serious ass. And she's got men hanging all over her. Of course, unlike 007, Lara doesn't hop into bed as soon as the interested party says to. She's a bit deeper than that. And, after "Die Another Day," maybe James is, too (although I really have my doubts because a hot spy in a monogamous or even thoughtful relationship doesn't seem to sell). But I must say I was surprised that they even tried it in Tomb Raider. And it worked. Who knew that an action movie would have an ending that would just rip your heart out and stomp on it, Akido chop it, dump it in acid, empty a pistol into it, and then stab it for good measure (hey, it's an action movie)? And it worked?? This is one to buy on DVD. Maybe I dug it so much because I felt echoes of the ending in my Red Rocks trilogy. And the soundtrack rocks. A couple songs are boring and/or repetitive. But it really is amazing for the most part. Especially the last three songs. The score for the ending packs a punch, too, and just makes your heart clench. It's like the "Forth Eorlingas" track on the TT soundtrack. Always brings a tear to my eyes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Guilty Pleasures

A while back, Kane posted a list of things he constantly craves. Well, over the weekend, I was thinking about that list and started thinking of the stuff that I craved. And it turned out to be a list of guilty pleasures.

Fried egg on toast with cheese & ketchup (is that just something from my family?)
Nugatringe (chocolate concoction only found it in a small village in Germany)
Gummi Smurfs
Gyros (with real lamb meat, not that processed shit)
Fritos & Cheetos (my arteries already hate this list)
Silky Unmentionables
Playing Dress-up (with my own clothes, not my mother's)
Cheesy romantic comedies
Disney animated films (but not those lame sequels)
Anthropomorphic animals (two words: Geico Squirrels)
Anything chocolate (unless it also involves the words "covered *any insect*")
Clipping coupons
Hunting for sales
Saving over 50% on a purchase (see a pattern?)
Cleaning (unless it requires the amputation of my right arm)
Laundry (all about bringing order to chaos, baby)
Soup in the summertime

Monday, July 28, 2003

For a Good Laugh

OK, the past two Sundays, a couple of people I care about have dropped some serious bombshells on me (Vegas was even worse than I had realized, and someone else did very stupid things in Tijauna). Both bombshells involved alcohol in ridiculous amounts. And I feel trapped. I want to do something but there's nothing I really can do. The first incident has resolved itself of a fashion, but was the culmination of years of tension that could've (and should have) been addressed a long time ago. The second incident is what's really tearing me to pieces. And I don't know what to do besides express concern and support while being given tickets to see someone dancing very close to the "Life Self-Destruct" button.

So I need a laugh. And Dave Barry has graciously given me one via his blog. Seems the folks at finally caught on to the Freemont gag. Personally, I'm dying to get my hands on "a set of kiln-dried edible silverplated thimbles in a snake-like carrying case". I mean, wow! They're edible! Can't get better than that. But they sure try with that snake-like carrying case. What a find.

Now I will laugh and hope that laughter doesn't turn into tears and curl me into a ball.

2003: A Wolfe Odyssey

My mother's been saying for years that I'm a drama queen. But after reading all the hullaballoo (scroll down to Saturday, July 26, second entry) about a workshop gone bad, I must say I'd be lucky to rank a serf in the Writing Drama Court. And Sheila posts that this kind of thing happens on a regular basis and is one of several reasons why she's said a permanent ixnay to attending conferences and the like. Me? I'm watching this like a deer in the headlights. It's one of those things that I hope to experience first hand - whether to figure out it it's really as insane as it seems or just to obtain an "I've worked with/am a professional writer now" war wound.

It seems one or more students got miffed by Gene Wolfe's critting style. And decided to Tell Him So in a bile-ridden letter. This prompted Wolfe to leave as he mistakenly was led to believe that the whole class agreed with the sentiments in said letter. And then the writing community got wind of this and All Hell Broke Loose. Now everyone's got an opinion on the matter (including me, how 'bout that?). The students need to grow thicker skin if they're going to make it. Wolfe should've explained his crits. Workshops were better in the good ol' days. Workshops are victims to PC Mania. Brutal honesty is vital in critting and should not be compromised. Honesty can still happen with inoffensive words and attitudes. And so on. And so forth.

My take? I have a problem with a critter when he crits me instead of my writing. For example, in my real life crit group, there's a wonderful old man. He's funny and honest. But he's also a bit of a pessimistic realist - sometimes bordering on conspiracy theory levels. And, in case you haven't been paying attention, I'm an idealist and tend to believe sometimes too much in the good of others. There's been a couple times that this great guy will come down harsh on an aspect of my theme or plot or characters because it doesn't fit in with his world view. And in doing so he often ridicules my world view. That's the kind of stuff that I can't take. I try to glean his point from it (OK, so Denise is being far too naive here, etc) and move him on to something else. But sometimes he just gets my goat and I go off (you should hear the fun convos we've had about science and government; and then there's the infamous discussion about how OJ Simpson was framed by the mob). To be fair, I've ripped into him for writing stupid, vapid women who serve only as tune and lube jobs for the heros. No, that's not entirely fair either. One of his female characters could have been a world class ballerina - were it not for her ample bosom. And if those are the kind of women he's run into in his life, then fine. If that's how he wants to portray the fairer sex, so be it. I'm trying to work on how I crit him in a way that tones down the feminist independence knee-jerk reaction and helps him make his story better for the way he wants to tell it. I can only tell him the typical woman's reaction so many times. And maybe he'll find a publishing group that caters to the manly men of yore. I'm sure it's happened in the past and still happening now and will continue.

As for harsh but honest, I can go either way. If you're forewarned that someone likes to be brutal in their honesty, then you can brace yourself for weeding out the truth in a pile of shit. If you're not forewarned, it's far too easy to let defensive instinct take over and you lose the truth for the shit. It doesn't matter if the critter makes it clear that it's the writing not the person he thinks sucks. You still hear "this (something that you created) sucks" when you weren't expecting it.

When I crit, I try to be completely constructive in my honesty. There are times that I'll pull off the gloves (getting hit with a hurled fist in a glove still hurts, by the way), but they are rare, and I try to reserve them for the vapid characters. :) If the goal of crits is to help that person improve their writing, then the lesson is better learned if you say "You did this right, but this was way off." You give the subject a much better chance of hearing you, rather than saying "What an ass" and writing off everything you say. When I've found myself being harsher than necessary in a crit, I'll often examine why. Does the writing really suck that bad? Or is there something that I just don't like to read in here? Turns out it's often the latter, and I tell that person I'm critting. Now they're forewarned that I might be harsher than usual because I just don't like westerns. It still doesn't remove my responsibility in trying to reign in the harsh tone, but at least the subject doesn't have to go home wondering why I picked his story to shreds over teeny, tiny things like one word or the placement of a comma when I left other stories well enough alone.

Some of the big names who have cashed in on this debate (see Harlan Ellison) have bemoaned the fact that the PC police have infiltrated the writing world and are now destroying workshops by trying to make sure everyone goes home happy at the sacrifice of learning something that might actually make them better writers. That's just even more horseshit. It's like the tenured profs mistreating all their students because, dammit, they had to go through hell to get where they are and so should everyone else. Or the ever classic "I walked uphill both ways in three feet of snow year round to get to school so quit whining" hogwash. Just because you suffered a vast deal to succeed doesn't mean you have to make everyone else's path just as treacherous. In fact, I would hope you feel compelled to try and make the path easier for those who follow behind. Similarly, what harm is there in toning down your attitude in a crit? So what if the publishing world is a war zone. So what if editors aren't going to be so kind. If someone can calmly and without undue invective say "I liked this (even if it's only the teeniest element of the story), but here's what you're doing wrong and here's one way to do it right" then the chances of someone taking that advice and doing something with it improve a great deal. As a critter, you've done your job. And no one had to leave that session with the advice needed to improve buried in a laundry list of "this sucks", "this really sucks" and "you're not ready for the publishing world." It's even possible to say "I really didn't like this and here's why" without reverting to some of the harsher crit tactics out there. The same information is still given. But the two methods of revealing said info will greatly impact whether or not you are heard. And if no one's going to hear you, what's the point?

But, of course, the non-harsh constructive criticism only works if you have a receptive audience. It's very possible that the subject will hear "I liked this part" and not the "but this was way off." If that's the case, though, that person doesn't really want to succeed in anything (unless someone comes along and "beams" them to the end of the path; and that looks a lot like success but isn't really because they still know nothing). You can't force people to learn (which is, IMO, what harsh critting tactics do). Well, not all the time, at least. And most times that people are forced to learn, they also learn very well to hate. And I think we've got plenty of that in this world, don't you?

Sunday, July 27, 2003


Cleaned the old place yesterday. And my right arm was complaining about it for the rest of the day and still utters the ocassional whimper today. It was scrubbing the windows that did the arm (and, as stiffness today indicatee, my back) in. Mark cleaned the kitchen and I cleaned the rest of the place. Next time we have to clean out a place, I'm going to do the kitchen and see if it really takes as long as he claims it does. I'm not getting suckered into the "I'll clean the kitchen and join you when I'm done" ploy again. I'm going to find out for myself if it's a ploy or not. One thing I know for sure: that kitchen is spotless. If we had cleaned the whole apartment to the degree that he cleaned the kitchen, I would be scrubbing windows with my feet because my arms would've given out long ago. My arm has never been in that much pain. I'm wondering how much writing I'll be able to accomplish today. Even just blogging and surfing through boards for a short while has brought on a resurgence of whining from my tricep and wrist. No matter what I do today, though, I need to make sure I'm prepared for my uncle's call tonight. Have to prep my questions and put together a plan for taking notes on what he says. And then Red Rocks will resume.

Friday, July 25, 2003

You Know Your Brother's Insane...

When the Marine Corps gives him the following commendation.

Superior performance of his duties while serving as platoon scout team leader, company C, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, on 17 April, in support of operation Iraqi Freedom. While acting as part of a mounted patrol in the city of Tikrit, Sergeant Hazell's vehicle came under small arms fire from a nearby building. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Hazell immediately dismounted from the vehicle in order to provide local security for his vehicle commander. After coordinating with the other platoon scouts, Sergeant Hazell lead his scout team across 500 meters of open terrain in an urban area at night to engage the building from which they had taken fire. Sergeant Hazell's team moved swiftly and tactically under his leadership and reduced the enemy threat. Sergeant Hazell's timely and fearless actions reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps.

"With complete disregard for his own personal safety." That's the line that just sort of makes my eyes pop and keeps me praying that November will come sooner than possible. In November, my brother's enlistment is up. I just hope they can't whisk him away to Liberia before then.

But all selfish sisterly concerns for my brother's hide aside, I gotta say how proud I am of him. He's done so well in the Marines. It's nice to see him finally get the credit and praise he's always deserved but never was inclined to get in school. Way to go, Baby Bro.

Quick Pause

Never fails. The minute you give up hope or throw in the towel or just make alternate plans, something goes right. My uncle just emailed me with information I need to keep going on Red Rocks. Well, some of it. And we're setting up a call time for next week. Sweet. I feel like a bona fide writer now. I have a source. :)

Not Again

They're tinkering with my posting template. Again. I liked it fine before, guys! Leave it alone!

Pausing: I'm going to put Red Rocks on hold for a bit while I wait to hear from my cop source. I've gotten to the point where I really need to know whether or not I'm writing stuff that's even plausible for how the police really handle missing persons. Writing when you have no idea if you're accurate tends to really increase the level of self-doubt and self-criticism. So to avoid tanking the project by floundering in ignorance, I'm going to take a breather from it. I'll use the time I gain to revise Human Dignity and really boost my worldbuilding time for Velorin.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

More Medical Fun

I love making doctors scratch their heads. It's so much fun. They took some blood yesterday to check my RBC count and my thyroid. And I've got to do a sleep test. But they couldn't fit me into their schedule unitl mid September. And they'll give me the equipment so I can do the test at home myself. Which just makes me nervous. But last night I did have similar problems again. Nothing as bad as the night before, but enough that I noticed. Not too surprising, actually. Sleep apnea can be caused by anxiety. Nothing like having the doc check your thyroid and not tell you why to boost the anxiety levels. Of course, idiot me, I didn't ask.

I rewrote about twenty pages last night. I ditched a couple characters that really didn't need to be there anyway. And I worked in the debate in a much easier to read form. I think I'll type the changes in this weekend. I would wait, but I'm not sure I'll remember the notes I made to myself! One thing that revision is letting me see, though, is how far I've come in my writing this last year. I just hope I can make the style in the book consistent. That'll be the real challenge.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Off Day

This sucks. I was all set to plunk out at leat another 1k today. But I had some weird sleep issues last night. A handful of nights this year, I've had breathing problems while trying to go to sleep. Either I'll feel like I'm suffocating, choking, or just not breathing all together. It sounds like sleep apnea, but it doesn't happen harldy at all. The number of times it's happened has increased the past six months, right about the same time that my dizziness got bad again. But last night was really scary. I was so tired, but I kept jolting myself awake, struggling to breathe and trying to get my heart calmed down (wonder what my pulse was). And I had this irrational (well, slightly rational considering I kept waking myself up because I had stopped breathing) thought that I was going to die, so I didn't want to fall asleep until I could be sure that I could breathe fine. It was a terrible night. And I started to think that maybe this was connected to my dizziness. I have no idea how, but it's a thought. So I'm going back to the doc today. I don't think I'm going to hear anything very helpful, but I really don't like nights like last night. And if I can prevent them, then great. Might as well get that ball rolling, too.

As for writing, I'm too dizzy today. I did revise about 50 pages last night. It's not a "complete" revision. I need to axe ten or twenty pages and rework a lot of the into the 10-20 pages that follow. It's by no means impossible, but I just didn't take care of it last night. Sheila's got a class tonight and this dizziness doesn't seem to be going away, so I might not get any revision done tonight. We'll see.

To the Bugs Around our Apartment

We have cats. And all my shoes are now easily accessible in our roomy walk-in closet. Do I need to set up a little Tower of London-ish display outside our door showing the crumpled spiders that have had the misfortune to disrupt my morning workout? Do we need to release the beetle that said cats have been toying with this week so he can tell his harrowing tale of torture at Addy's and Nosey's paws? I feel confident that such unsavory tactics will not be required because I'm willing to assume that you are smart bugs. You will notice that Bob the Beetle has been missing for quite some time now and that you haven't seen Sally the Spider and her sister Suzy for far too long. You will get the point. And for those of you that don't, you have been warned about the cats and shoes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


I was hoping to finish up my marathon goal today and write about 2500 words. But I've been pounding away at Red Rocks and I've only managed to eke out 860 words today. I may be able to reach my daily goal of 1.5k by 4, but I doubt it. But 860 isn't too bad. I'll probably break 1000 today by the time I finish up this chapter. And that's still progress. One thing I'm not ready to do with this new crazy scheduling is beat myself up for not doing what I had hoped. I just got to give it everything I got and see where it takes me. The goals are to help me aim. As I get used to making writing much more of a daily habit, I can start reaching those goals with regularity. And I'll likely be able to make up any word counts on the weekend. I tend to write much better then. It's all about experimenting with what makes me happy and works best for the realities of my life right now. I just need to make sure I don't give myself too many or too big an opportunity to whimp out. That's the key.

And my uncle the cop agreed to help out as much as he could with my research. That phone call went much better than expected (I really wish I could figure out why the notion bothered me so much). He's going to hunt through his books and send me any he doesn't need and send some references. I hope my questions don't look stupid. Wait. That's it! That's why I was hesitant to call him. *slaps forehead* Oh, get over it, Kellie. You can't be perfect to anyone, not even your relatives. Hell, especially not to your relatives.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Back in the Saddle...

After finishing the move in this weekend, I finally settled down into the new place. No more weird sensations that this is temporary or something's not right. I decided to capitalize on this and revamped my very dusty schedule for writing. I also got a bit of inspiration to do this by reading a recommendation for a new fiction line. My ideas for the next two months are very ambitious, but it feels right. I thing I was also spurred into action by the package I had waiting for me on Friday. 250 business cards proudly bearing my name and the title "Writer of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Romance". How can you not try to live up to that? Especially when you got the cards to pass out at a writing conference where you'll be bumping shoulders with agents and editors and authors?

So here's my crazy writing plan for the conference. I'm going to have Human Dignity revised and ready to kick out the door (meaning a good query letter and a shorter synopsis). I'm going to (hopefully) have a draft of Red Rocks completed or very nearly there as well as a synopsis (or synopsi - one short, one a bit longer). And I'm going to have the first three chapters of Chords of Honor (ick, still not happy with that title) done and a detailed synopsis written. I have no idea if I'll be able to do all this, but I'm sure as heck gonna try and have fun with it. I want to have all this completed by the writing conference so I can give any agent or editor I talk to more than vague ideas of what I want to write and where I want my career to go.

So this week is the test run of the new schedule. I'm off to a good start, too. And I really feel good about keeping it up. Plus it'll be interesting to see how I can juggle writing projects. Something that I'll need to know for that great day I can make this a career.

Dennis Miller on Politics

As everyone should know by now, Jerry Springer is thinking about running for Congress. Miller decided to chip in his two cents. My favorite line: It's no secret that the gene pool, in addition to being a tad brackish as of late, is also so shallow now there doesn't even need to be a lifeguard on duty.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

More Good News for Mark

A couple months ago, I mentioned that Mark's boss wanted him to go to a pretty presitgious conference. That alone would've looked great on his resume. Well, the organizers of the conference want to turn Mark's poster presentation (he would stand by a chunk of posterboard as scientists milled around, getting drunk, and maybe asking him a few questions on their way to the bar - you think I'm kidding, too) into a powerpoint presentation to the whole conference. Poor Mark's stomach plummeted the five floors of his building when he read this though. He thought that HE would have to give the talk to a bunch of scientists eager to clash their egos before they got smashed (again, you think I'm kidding). My husband loves science, but he has a rough time prepping himself just to give a talk to a small group of researchers that he works with on a regular basis. So he was a little less than thrilled with the idea of giving a talk at Cold Spring Harbor. Mark brought the good news to his boss, and was immediately relieved to hear that his boss would be giving the talk. This means that now Mark just gets to go and booze it up himself since he won't have a poster to stand by anymore. He's very happy with this outcome. Not to mention that now his boss has guaranteed him a trip to next year's major RNA conference in exotic Wisconsin AND Mark's resume just got yet another boost. This is another reason why I left science. Can you imagine how depressing it would be to have to celebrate your spouse's amazing accomplishments while realizing the dreary state of your own project?

In other news, the new apartment is fully operational. Everything put in its (for now) proper place and all the pictures hung on the walls. Now we just need to clean the old place (which we decided to do next weekend) and hand in our old keys.

As for writing, I took yesterday off so Mark and I could wander around the quasi-new town (we did live here two and a half years ago) and just goof off at the new place now that it's done. I have decided that I will call my uncle for some research help and just swallow my odd issues with that. Besides, it's better to suffer temporary, if unjustified, embarrassment than to be stuck at 13500 words. So wish me luck as I call the cop and get to work.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Writing Blind

In trying to write Brent's first Red Rocks appearance and POV chapter, I'm realizing just how much I want to know about police procedures and how much I don't know. My uncle is a cop in a suburb of Chicago, so I'm thinking I need to track him down and grill him. I just feel kind of odd thinking about asking my macho cop uncle questions for a romantic suspense. I'm very embarrassed to do this. I have no idea why. Probably another weird product of my brain when confronted with a situation it didn't expect (I'm still waiting to hear back from another source about these questions). I mean, I'm still reeling from the move. Instead of feeling like this is temporary, like there's a big change coming, I feel like something's wrong. It's really got me weirded out. It'll settle down after another week or two, I'm sure. But I just hate feeling like the ground underneath me keeps blinking out of existence.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

My First Poem

The folks over at Forward Motion have known that is a scam for quite some time. But Dave Barry just got wind of it and decided to have a little fun (see the July 13 entry). My contribution can be found under the name of Freemont Kaisha Marsupial. Consequently, this is my first on-line publication. Wonder if I can claim it on future query letters? :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


About thirty minutes after I posted the last entry, the two Cokes I guzzled today caught up with me. So energy be me. Now, if only I knew what to do with it. :)


When I get as dizzy as I was yesterday, my bod just quits. I was asleep by 8:30 (and that was after forcing myself to stay awake until after 8 - didn't want to throw off my sleep schedule too much). And I easily could've slept another five hours this morning. So I've spent most of today trying to keep my brain on top of things. Not an easy task. I'll probably go to sleep early again tonight.

No writing today. Which is kind of a good thing. I started writing in my hero's POV yesterday and, as usual, he's rather reluctant to share a whole lot with me. He's more talkative than Darren from HD, but I still need to know more about him. And right now I'm overplaying his angst a wee bit. And I'm also not sure if I've got the details right. I'm waiting to hear back about some research questions. I've got some other contacts that I could ask, but I'm feeling very new and foolish when it comes to asking people for help with researching a novel. I keep thinking I'm going to shove my foot down my throat or make a major faux-paus. Or, worse, both.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003


Been steadliy adding words to Red Rocks. Up to about 850 today. But I've been getting dizzier and dizzier today. And it just got really bad. So I think I'll have to stop. Critique group is tonight and I haven't been in nearly a month. It would be nice to go, but not if I feel like this.

Monday, July 14, 2003


Wrote 1500 words in Red Rocks today. I had only wanted to add in a couple phone calls and finish up a chapter. Didn't think it would take that many words. Very impressed, if I do say so myself. Now, if only I could start revising Human Dignity. Maybe after this weekend (a marathon, need to finish up the move-in process, and clean up the old apartment).


Everything is out of the old place (well, aside from lots of dust and dirt and tiny cat toys). And we've got the new place almost entirely settled. We need to organize a couple closets so they are neat, orderly, and able to store more stuff in the future. And we still need to hang up all those pictures and such. But everything is else is good to go. Feels wonderful. We celebrated by spending Mark's roulette winnings at The Melting Pot, an amazing fondue restaurant. I know I mentioned it in my last entry, but the food is just that good and it bears repeating. Check it out.

Big changes like moving always do weird things to me. Last night, I couldn't shake the feeling that things were going to change again. Like somehow the move was temporary or something. I'm choosing to interpret this as a sign that I'll win or just move on to the final round of judging in the Colorado Gold writing contest. Mainly because I don't want to think about moving or anything else that would make me feel like what I'm doing now will drastically change. And, knowing my life, this will just turn out to be a delayed reaction to the move and there's really no big change coming. That's the problem with Instinct (or whatever you want to call it). It's not an exact thing, and it often gets you really worked up for nothing. But it works well with my muse, and that helps.

Sometimes to the muse's detriment, I think. As we were driving home from dinner last night, a song came on the radio. For whatever reason, the song evoked a glimmer of a story idea. But very faint. I just knew there was something there but I had no concept of a theme, a plot, a character, a setting, or even a scrap of dialogue. Just that I was getting close to one of those elements. But as the song ended, the glimmer faded. And all I was left with was an image of my muse wiping her overworked, sweaty brow in relief. And it occurred to me that Dear Ol' Musey might get just as annoyed, frustrated, happy, sad, and irked with me as I do with her. She probably had a nice plan set out as to how she was going to reveal all these great ideas. A little snippet here. A little idea there. A few characters later. Back in 2000 when Human Dignity wandered into my head, she probably thought, "Oh, good. She's listening now. Let's just ease her - and me - into things and take a nice leisurely stroll into Inspiration." And then I left the PhD program and got a secretarial job for a summer while preparing to teach. This gave me more time to write and join a critique group. At this point, I'm sure Muse started to get worried. I had wandered away from Her Plan and looked to be catching up with her too quickly. I bet she was relieved when I started teaching and saw how little time I would have for her. She could afford to relax. But then I quit teaching and became a secretary again. And I went full throttle into the idea of writing for a living (well, for a supplemental income to the fortune Mark will be earning as soon as he gets his PhD). That first month I think really freaked poor Muse out. She tried throwing all sorts of things at me to slow me down. Self-doubt and laziness worked the best. As I battled through those, she and I came to a good understanding. We seem to be a pretty snazzy team. But she must still get a little tired. She must not be ready for me to snatch certain ideas from her just yet. Hence the whiff of Inspiration, but no dice in the frenzied search to find the idea sitting out on the windowsill to cool.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Oh. Right. Vegas.

Mark and I drove to Sin City for the 4th of July weekend. As usual, I spent the first hour or so of the trip remembering all the things we had forgotten to pack. Including my glasses. Actually, I didn't realize I hadn't packed them until after I had taken my contacts out just before we stopped for the night. Try being a navigator while blind. All I could do was laugh when Mark asked me if I had seen a sign saying how far it was to Salina, UT.

We spent a couple hours in the Luxor casino, waiting for my college buds to show up. In three years, we had all managed to cut our hair, but that was about the only difference. Shortly before we went on the requisite casino crawl, a headache of Biblical proportions had taken up residence in my poor noggin. I spent the entire time we wandered that night rubbing my temples and curling into myself. All while keeping on a happy face for my friends. Then we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. Luckily the headache decided to leave me then, as it was VERY loud in there. So I finally managed to have some fun.

Then came Saturday. Juliette, being the horribly jilted bride and, thus, guest of honor, wanted to see the Hoover Dam. I was all for this as I enjoy seeing the follies of engineering that purport to be miraculous successes for a while (granted, I probably won't be around to see the thing fail, but erosion is a force much like gravity - there's no stopping it; "Bureau of Reclamation" *snark* the only reclamation going on is the water reclaiming its former territory). But a couple of my friends didn't want to and made a big fuss out of being "forced" to go. They got a reprieve when we realized that the six of use weren't going to fit in our car. So the two whiners got to stay in Vegas while the rest of us journeyed to Lake Mead. I never get sick of the desert. Nevada is nowhere near as fascinating to look at as Arizona, but it still satisfied my desert craving. We paid $10 for the official tour mainly so we could look at the dam without being in the 122 degree heat that pounded the street above the dam. Finished the excursion with some ice cream. All in all, a very nice outing.

We got back with a decent chunk of afternoon left and the two nay-sayers were nowhere to be found. They took three hours to rejoin us, then did the "we had more fun than you did" routine and formed their own little club for the rest of the night - being sure to scoff at the things the rest of us wanted to do.

At this point, I should mention that my husband has remarkable restraint and is one of the most patient, tolerant people I know when it comes to dealing with others. One of our group (who isn't so much a friend of mine as a friend of a friend, you know?) was pulling the best snob routine I've seen since Angelica Houston in "Ever After". Mark does not take kindly to fake people or snobs and can usually sniff 'em out within seconds of introduction. If this particular "friend" is going on any other trip we'll be invited to, Mark will flat out refuse to come. She was that bad.

But we did have a good time. Really. The Venetian is beautiful. The Bellagio is amazing. The Samba Grill at the Mirage is wonderful. And Lady Luck was hanging around Mark at the roulette tables. She even hung out with me once. So we got enough cash to go to our fave restaurant, The Melting Pot (a fondue place) and enough for me to buy a really sexy red dress on deep sale at a posh Luxor shop and some stuff at M&M world. The dress is really great, and I'm sure I'll look stunning in it. Just as soon as I figure out how the straps are supposed to work.

So we left Vegas with a bit of relief. Mark had met the college pals and they had met him. They had approved of him, and Mark got to see just how far I've come in three years. :) Then we stopped into Zion and did a spot of camping and hiking (in 105 degree heat). And, of course, all throughout the trip, Ms. Muse decided to bug me with new characters, insights into the magic of Velorin (like that spelling better) and the culture.

But then we had to drive home. The one time I drove to relieve Mark, something had to happen. I'm a very good driver. Really I am. It's just the small handful of times where my attention wanders (we're talking maybe three times), something happens. But I don't really think my attention wandered in this case. I'm driving along I-70 at about 80mph. It's 3PM, the sun is hitting the highway very hard from behind me, and we're somewhat low to the ground in our little Saturn. I came up on a dark spot on the road. It looked like a big splotch of tar. And I saw some weird, stringy debris in front of said spot. I'm thinking it looks like tire blow out debris, but I can't see the scrap of tire anywhere. You guessed it. That big splotch of tar wasn't tar. It was the tire. It was on its "rind", curved away from me. I couldn't tell it was a tire until I was right up on it. In a mere second (or less), I had to decide if I wanted to swerve to miss it and risk the chance of the tire hitting one of our own wheels and sending us hurtling either into the car coming up on my left or just into the desert in general. Or if I wanted to hit the tire square so it missed both our tires and went under the car. I went with the last choice as it seemed, in that mere second, the only option that would relatively guarantee my and Mark's safety (and that was all I cared about in that mere second anyway). So we hit the thing, received a jolt, and kept going 80 doing I-70, seemingly no worse for the wear. The gas line appeared to be intact. The engine temp stayed normal, so the radiator appeared to be fine. We turned down the radio and heard us dragging something and figured we had did a number on the paneling under the car.

At this point it's key to remember that we're about 30 miles from the Colorado border in Utah and there is nothing near us. We get to an exit and stop the car to inspect the damage, pull of the dragging paneling, and let Mark take over. The bumper was cracked and the radiator had a slight ding. But that was it. So Mark starts driving and I call the insurance company to report the claim and get that ball rolling. The car drove us the rest of the way home (about 180 miles) like nothing had happened. I bring it into the shop, we get a sweet rental car at a very nice rate (we aren't covered for rentals in our policy), and everything seems to be going back to normal (except for our budget for the rest of the year, of course).

Then I get a letter from our insurance company (who I was praising to the stars at this point) saying that they had investigated the incident and determined I was at majority fault. I can understand that. They "cited" me for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" (well, I can't help it if the sun hides things, but if you gotta blame me for something, I can handle this) AND "failure to take the last clear chance to avoid an obstacle." WTF? You can't have it both ways. If I wasn't paying attention, then there wouldn't have been a "last clear chance" to avoid the obstacle in the road that I was failing to lookout for. OR I could've been paying attention and saw the tire, but failed to get out of the way in time. I couldn't have been both not seeing the tire and not avoiding it in time. But I guess this just goes back to society's sometimes illogical need to place blame, eh? :)

Blow to Corporate America

Silly me, I always thought layoffs were just part of the way the business cookie crumbled. Guess not. Didn't realize they were something you could fight. Interesting.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Red Rocks

So I've broken the 10,000 word mark with my second work in progress. Feels good. After a week or so hiatus from writing, the fingertips are nimble again as I pick up where I left off. I'm even more involved with the story now. As I was driving the car to the repair shop (that's right, I haven't talked about my trip to Vegas yet...more later), a view through Red Rocks and the next two books in that trilogy just smacked me in the face. Only for two characters, really, but it was the two that I'd been struggling with during my hiatus. Remember my first entry about this book? How my evil henchmen, in less than ten pages, had morphed into a much bigger character than I had intended? Well, the muse had been teasing me that she wanted the henchmen to eventually get together with the protagonist's twin sister. And my logical self kept screaming, "But the man kidnapped her! And was in jail! It doesn't matter that he's done everything to protect his little girl. He's still not the nicest of men!" But the dilemma and a few scenes hit me in the car and nearly made me cry with the emotion that these two characters are going to go through over the three books. I know where that's going. And it's going to drain me. But I'm going to try my hardest to get their story right.

And another story idea hit me today. In the form of a bit of dialogue. "I'm from Breeding Pool 5. You?" No idea where that sucker's going to go.

Here We Go Again

It may be time for me to write my congressmen again. Not that Allard will even read my letter, but maybe Udall will. Santorum opened his ignorant mouth again. Here's a sampling of some of his gems:

"Before, the right to privacy in sexual matters was limited primarily to married couples."

I'm sure many couples who are heterosexual and not married would be shocked to learn this. Including my mother, who has not been living with her boyfriend long enough yet to be "forced" into common law marriage.

"It listed "personal decisions relating to marriage" among the areas in which homosexuals "may seek autonomy," just as heterosexuals may."

Hmmm. We could replace "homosexuals" with "blacks" and "heterosexuals" with "whites" and drag ourselves back a few decades or more.

"In fact, I believe that Congress has an obligation to take action to defend the legal status of marriage before the Supreme Court or individual state supreme courts take away the public's ability to act."

WTF? Is Santorum saying that making gay marriage legal will somehow make heterosexual marriage illegal? Or is he saying that, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, homosexuals participating in sex are still criminals and that allowing criminals to marry will make marriage a haven for....You know what? I can't even go anywhere with that logic. His idea with this is lost on me.

"Every civilization since the beginning of man has recognized the need for marriage."

I love selective history. Just because Santorum has forgotten everything but (primarily) Christian civilizations, doesn't mean they never existed.

"This country and healthy societies around the world give marriage special legal protection for a vital reason — it is the institution that ensures the society's future through the upbringing of children."

First off, calling America a "healthy society" is definitely open for debate. Next, he's equating marriage with procreation. I'm sure infertile couples and those who just don't want children agree with Santorum whole-heartedly. Finally, society itself determines its future, if you ask me (which Santorum won't, of course). Santorum even details the ickiness that is "the family" today. And he implies that gay marriage will make it worse. You know what? I'm not interested in what will make it worse. I'm interested in what will make it better. Isn't that your job, Santorum? Isn't that what you want to leave behind for all these children you're raising in your legally protected institution of marriage? A better world? Not just one that's steadily getting worse as you run out of groups to blame?

"There is an ocean of empirical data showing that the union between a man and a woman has unique benefits for children and society."

This is one of my faves. He does some very good hand-waving in justifying a constitutional amendment that would deny the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to same sex couples wishing to marry. Doesn't quote one drop of that ocean of data. If he were in the science community, he would be ridiculed and tossed out on his ear for a statement like that. If you want to add something to the Constitution, you might want to have more than that. Unfortunately, a bland and wholly useless statement like this will convince quite a few Americans who still trust politicians. Just point me to one study, Santorum, and I'd at least acknowledge that you're trying to back up your opinion with facts. Then we could start debating. Now, you just look like an idiot.

"The last thing we should do is destroy the special legal status of marriage."

Again with the legal status business. I really need you to explain this to me, Santorum. Because I honestly don't see how allowing homosexuals to marry is going to effect heterosexual marriages - espcially their "legal status." Are you seriously trying to tell me that my marriage to Mark will become null and void the day that my uncle can marry his partner? What legislative, judicial, or magical twist does that? I really want to know, because I wasn't under the impression that my marriage certificate was that tenuous.

It's times like this that I really wish I could hop into Vehlohrin. That world is so much better than this God-forsaken rock.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Patience is a Virtue

Some days I feel like I need to stand outside and scream myself mute. Those are the days where my brain decides to get hyperactive about everything going on in my life. It gets very impatient and needs to finish something, anything and goes ballistic trying to find the task it can accomplish.

It all started out very innocent. I thought I'd check out the class transcripts at FM and see what I've been missing. There was a class by Sheila on getting organized. Seeing the mess that is my writing notebook and the schedule that I followed for maybe two weeks before it became an intriguing piece of wall decor, I decided I'd read that. (NOTE: I am also procrastinating getting back into Red Rocks. Can you tell?) Sheila gave tons of great advice about getting even expenses organized since writers = small business to the IRS. My brain, eager to accomplish something as the day of the final move looms, starts hopping around eagerly, making plans for purchasing a small accordian folder and new filing cabinets and...and...etc. And then I continued on, seeing Sheila's tips for organization. One was to organize space and time for writing. The brain goes wild again, thinking about everything I'm going to do to set up my space in the new apartment. Now, much of this is stuff I've already worked out. But, of course, I can't do anything about that until Saturday at the earliest, Sunday more likely.

The brain, getting frustrated that I can't go to the new apartment right now and put all these brilliant ideas into actions, decides to try a new tactic. It goes bonkers telling me everything I still need to accomplish by Saturday to make the final move go smoothly. It reminds me of all the addresses I need to change. And so on and so forth. I shout to my noggin' that I can't do any of those things from work because everything I need to do is at home and I will take care of it tonight.

Brain is NOT satisfied. It tells me everything I should be doing with the three novels I'm working on. Simultaneously. It's a wonder I don't have Denise trying to cure lung cancer while falling in love with a magical ghost (well, no one else but me would get that that's a mesh of all three books *sigh*). So my limbs start jerky motions to each of the three notebooks I've got with me to start the frenzied process of working on all three books at once. I forcibly shut down the movements and scold the brain that, amusing as it might be to watch, the body really isn't up to that this particular Wednesday.

Exasperated, the brain finally lands on the one thing I can accomplish - emailing a couple pals about life and such and generally catching up. But by this point, I'm so dizzy and mentally drained that all I want to do is stare at the computer clock readout and count the minutes until 4:30. (NOTE: I have also been procrastinating corresponding with friends. I figure I'll wait until I know if I made it into the final round of the RMFW writing contest before I send a note catching people up on my life of the past six months.)

Is it 4:30 yet?

Not Alone

Sheila linked to a journal entry last week that described one woman's adventures in giving. It was a neat entry and very up. I felt I could use that this morning, so I the same journal again. Lo and behold, Kane suffered the same cruel twist of Internet fate yesterday as I did. And I felt that comisseration warranted a standing link on my blog. Those of us whose prize entries have been the meal of cyberspace should stick together.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


I just had a nice, long post all typed up. And then Blogger ate it all up.


I'll rewrite the long bit later. Here's what I wanted to post before I forgot it, though. A pal from my Germany days' older brother made the front page of the Washington Post yesterday. It's funny how the article depicts him as the quintessential computer grad student geek because I remember him as the cooler older brother with whom I was mildly infatuated. I just love his "Dang, will this affect my degree" quotes. Classic grad student. Way to go, Sean! Now, if the government could just remove head from sphincter, then they'd realize that they could hire Sean to go digging to find weaknesses that they can then plug up. Like Robert Redford in "Sneakers." (Great flick.)

Thursday, July 03, 2003


Leaving for a nice long weekend trip to Vegas. And then the move intensifies. So I won't post again until Tuesday and I might not post much until two weeks from now. Be safe this holiday weekend.

Terminator 3: The Search for Cool Shades and Angst

Saw T3 last night. And it was pretty good. Of course, it short-changed a bit on plot and character development so it could give you the stunning effects. But as far as action films go, they did a really good job with the story. They left the door open for more Terminator movies, and it looks like they could do well with them. But man, the similarities between John Connor at 23-ish and Harry Potter at 15 are stunning. They like to bitch and moan about their lot in life quite a bit. At least John got over himself at the end. But Harry's got at least another year to work his way out of your typical teenage angst (especially considering the bombshell Dumbledore dropped on him - poor thing).

Anyway, back to T3. Mark was pondering the changes in evil terminators over the years. We started with buff Arnie. Then got a lean but muscular liquid metal dude. Now we got a sexy chick with a plasma gun. Mark thinks the T4 terminator is going to be Betty White. No one's going to suspect a nice old lady - until they learn she went to St. Olaf's School for Assassins. :) There was quite a bit of humor in T3, which was nice. And the big car chase/destruction scene was pretty over the top - in a good way, I think. The chick hopped in a huge wide load truck with a big winch that she could move perpindicular to the truck and just smash things on both sides of the road to bits. There are days when I wish I could do that.

As for the search for shades....That was a great running gag in the flick. It started when Arnie stole a gay male stripper's outfit and pulled out these sparkly star sunglasses. He wore them for a few seconds, then ripped 'em off and crushed 'em. On to the next pair. And so on.

Good flick. Like how they handled everything. Would love to have seen more of the scifi plot, but I enjoyed what I got. Nothing so incredible that you have to catch it on the big screen, though. Destruction and mayhem look just as impressive on a 22" TV than the big-ass screen.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

More Late Night Inspiration

My brain has been so energized the last couple nights. After four hours of moving boxes and unpacking things and so on, I collapse into bed and the brain just goes bonkers. Last night, I was thinking about strings again. One thing I had wanted for the magic of this world was for it to have elemental parts to it. And strings can do that! With vibrations, wavelengths! And this gives me a good idea for the "cost" of the magic. Headaches, faintness, etc. And this also gives me the scientific opening I was needing for Airen and the potential to continue this as a series. I think, at least. This is going to be fun. Now, if only the plot would make itself more clear to me....

And I also got slammed with inspiration for a barbershop song. The chorus and tag just kind of wandered into my brain and kept singing itself over and over. So I had to go scratch down the words and plunk out the notes. At 11:30 last night (thank God for headphones). I don't know if I'll do anything more with a song (like, I dunno, come up with the rest of the chorus and a verse or two) because I know nothing about composition. I've heard a little bit about how the really important chords will be sevenths (or was it fifths?) and that the notes will do other things at other key times in the song. I would just compose it how I think it should sound without any real thought to what I was doing. But it was fun to give it a try for a couple bars. And I do have a complete tag, so maybe I'll show it to Sharon and see what she thinks. I was just thinking about how there's not a whole lot of those good tongue-in-cheek barbershop songs getting out there as much now (you know, like "Who's Sorry Now"). And then the tag jumped into my head.

Well, I never did claim to understand my muse.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Memory and Me

I was trying to drift off to sleep last night, I thought of something really clever to write about here. And I told myself I wouldn't forget it. I mean, it was funny and witty and darned impressive, if I do say so myself. And, of course, it has completely fled my mind. Wonder if that means I can't hold onto clever thoughts all that long? Let's not think about that possibility too much.

I'm pretty sure it was something about the whole Sodomy law business and the screaming wails of the religious right about banning homosexual marriage in the Constitution. That stuff still just irks me. Especially when every editorialist in the nation seems to be yelling about how the Supreme Court has catered to the "elitist opinion." That it's really only 2 to 3% of the nation that seems to think affirmative action is good and criminalizing homosexual behavior is bad. And that that percent is the liberal media, spinning away at the news. Now, I've never quite understood the liberal spin (at least from a television perspective - as it seems to me that they're all reporting the same damn thing, even the celebrated conservative bastion that is Fox News). In the press, I can see the evidence of spin either way, so I'm kinda with the editorialists going nuts about elitist opinion. Kinda. But what I don't get is the insinuation that the majority of Americans are against homosexual marriage and would agree with idiots like Santorum, Scalia, and Frist as they scream and yell that it's gays and those who like privacy in their bedroom who are destroying the sanctity of marriage or society in general. That implication bothers me. The other implication is that the elitists think that affirmative action has done and will continue to do good things for this country. Well, if it's only the elitists who think that, then I'm happy they only comprise 2 to 3% of the population. And the other thing that really annoys me with the recent yammerings about same-sex marriage is that everyone seems quite willing to ignore that marriage in this country has been deteriorating just fine on its own for the past 50 years. Didn't we blame feminism at first? C'mon, let's chart the progression of blame on the terrible state of marriage and our society. Right now it's homosexuals. I'm wondering who it will be in another ten years.

Sad thing is, I know I had something very witty and deep to say in that mini-rant. It really did entertain me last night just before I fell asleep.

Speaking of things that hit you just as you drift away to LaLa Land (and maybe this is the reason why I can't remember my clever little line), I got the inspiration last night for the magic of my fantasy world. Strings. I got this idea, strangely enough, from reiki massage. A friend of mine from chorus practices this and gave me a free session on Saturday. I'm usually the curious "I'll try anything once" sort, so I buried my skepticism and asked her a lot of questions. Some of the things she said I thought were totally bogus (like how the soul is attached by a chord to your chest area and can float around - I think the idea of a soul is a cop out for something that we can't possibly understand), but some of it was a really nice way of looking at things. As she worked on my back (an arduous task, I assure you), she started talking about the stresses in my life and such, and she said that she could feel the embodiment of some of that stress attached to me in a string right at my right shoulder blade (where I do tend to get stiffness pretty easily). She said she forgot to bring her little sword that she uses to cut such strings off because people can attach themselves to you in that way and just drain you. Whether or not I believe that is beside the point. It's still a neat way to visualize getting rid of stress. And last night all these little memories collided and gave me the basic form of magic for my world.

Strings. I've already got this scene written (it was one of the first that just sort of came to me from this world) where Airen (name may change) sort of "sends her soul" across an ocean so she can watch over her lover Rayn (again, may change) while he's in captivity. If you've read Melanie Rawn, think sunrunning. Kinda. But after I wrote the scene, I was really at a loss as to how Airen managed this. And I've been struggling with what the fundamentals of the magic in this world would be for a while. And last night I got it with strings. So Airen pretty much did the reiki equivalent of an out of body experience. And this makes so much sense for Corla's gift...and Arzachel's (those names will NOT change, they are far too cool and perfect for those two).

As for the reiki session, that's another post entirely.