Sunday, August 31, 2003

Back into the Revisions

I got through the first four chapters yesterday (about 60 pages). I've managed to create a rather large infodump in the first chapter that I need to tweak a little bit today. It's so funny. All my critters complained about not knowing X,Y, and Z by a particular time in Part 2, but the same critters than bitched and moaned about any kind of infodump that I had to answer their questions. Picky, picky. So I've got an idea to get the same info in there, but hide it a little so it's not quite getting dumped. The dumpage is still there, but I think I can camouflage it a bit better in a journal entry. Plus, that will give me more time to develop one of my baddies, and that's never a bad thing. Today starts the process of writing the middle that is missing in Part 2. Here's to hoping I can get through it today. I'm still crossing my fingers that I can get through Part 2 this weekend and then take care of Part 3 next weekend, but I don't think that's going to happen. We're going to a picnic tomorrow, and I still have to write up my class for Forward Motion this weekend. And there are other things I want to do to prep for CO Gold, and I'd rather not leave all of it until next weekend. So we'll see.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Locked and Loaded

Today I start revising Part 2 of HD. I'm equipped with red pens, blue pens, highlighters, the kickass Tomb Raider soundtrack, and a McGuire's Irish Pub T-Shirt that says "Floggings will continue daily until morale improves." Ain't no stopping me now.

Friday, August 29, 2003

A Treat

Because my brain still seems fried when it comes to writing (except for those daily exercises, of course), I decided to take a break last night instead of revising Human Dignity. So we rented The Two Towers and Chicago. We watched TTT last night and are now salivating over both the extended version due out in November and the last of the movies out in December. We'll watch Chicago tomorrow morning instead of our usual Discovery Channel shows. That'll be a nice way for me to wake up and get going on those revisions. I had promised myself that I would have HD done by the conference, and I mean to stick with that. I won't be close to a completed draft of Red Rocks (barring sudden success in the writing block department), but I should be able to draw up some kind of synopsis/proposal for it. And I want to write three chapters of Strings of Betrayal and a synopsis/proposal for that as well. That will be more difficult. Not the chapters, but the synopsis. I actually already have one of the first chapters written, and a good idea for another. So I won't be as far along on my projects as I had hoped, but it will still be a good listing of progress for my agent/editor one-on-one (I don't find out who I'll get 15 exclusive minutes with until I actually sign in at the conference).

And I think I'm going to spend the rest of the workday outlining and typing my classes for Forward Motion. I'll be doing a little bulletin board style lecture series on what things are really like in a bio/chem lab. I figure that'll be a nice way to ease back into teaching, too. Something very light. The idea of teaching a live class still causes a slight twitch. I wish I knew why I reacted to that job the way I did....

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Missing the Mark

I just read this op/ed piece about how poor or heavy minority communities not only have parents that don't focus on education, but also teachers who, according to statistics, can't effectively teach. The saddest thing about this opinion is that it grossly misses the point of those statistics.

He starts out saying: Ask any teacher why poor and minority students struggle with low test scores and high drop out rates and they'll tell you: it's the parents.

Well, I used to qualify as part of that "any teacher" category. And let me tell you my answer: it's the system.

Overall, parents aren't helping with their children's education nearly as much as they should or could. But that speaks to a larger problem with society, not the public education system. If every parent invested time and energy into supporting their children's education, then we'd have successes despite the public education system. Unfortunately, not every parent has the time or the energy (let's not even get into the inclination) to help a child learn. It's just a fact of the way we've got things set up in this world. A sad fact, but not really one we can get around any time soon. There are many people who make it their job to step in and cheer kids on when their parents can't. Teachers, ministers, volunteers, mentors, outreach groups, friends, neighbors. They all do what they can. To blame the failure of the students on any one group in that bunch or even just on the parents is as ridiculous as saying that the right to privacy "lifestyle" alone is corrupting society. (Wow, with the numerous potshots I lob at Santorum, you'd think I have a problem with the man. *innocently blinks*)

No, blaming parents, teachers, and any other group that at one point or another influences a child's education isn't going to do anything. Looking at the real issue those statistics bring up, though, just might do something. The author of the op/ed piece seems to think that the low "Teacher Preparation Index" in poor and minority communities means that teachers are the reason why students in those areas are struggling. I honestly don't understand how "someone that has been in the classroom and seen what works and what doesn't" can fail to recognize the bigger problems those numbers indicate. Our system is set up so the poor and minority communities will fail. Think about it this way: If you had to take a job that was going to pay peanuts pretty much no matter where you went, wouldn't you want to go to a place where the community support was, on average, better? Where the folks relying in some part on you doing your job right actually donated time and money to help you out? Where the place of business was more likely to have state of the art technology and up to date reference material? Now let's look at it from the other end. Those more affluent, well-to-do communities will have so many applicants to choose from. They can be selective, they can get the more qualified candidates. Leaving the lesser qualified candidates to go to the less pleasant areas.

In any job, you're going to see a variety of competency. Try as we might, we can't eliminate that variety in public education. Improving certification programs, implementing alternative licensure programs for professionals in non-education areas to come and teach in their field, and just in general examining how teachers are brought in and retained will help. For a while, at least. But it's still not addressing The Problem.

There are many problems with the public education system. I'm still shocked at how many I saw in the three months I taught in the system. The biggest thing that I saw was the fact that responsibility for a child's education is placed anywhere but on the child. Poor performance in school is never the child's fault, according to the public education system. That's as ridiculous as saying only parents or teachers are to blame for the same poor performance. And here's the really twisted part: the praise for a child's excellent performance is rarely given to the child as well. Instead, praise gets bestowed on the district, the teachers, the public policy by some public official, the parents, etc. The public education system is wired to remove all requirements from the child. They are numbers, statistics, test scores, but they are not individuals.

I could go on about this for quite some time. And I was only a part of this system for one quarter of a school year. We can't keep putting patches on a system that needs to be remodled (in the "level it and build it afresh" sense). And we can't keep trying to improve learning while telling the learners "Don't worry, learning isn't your responsibility."

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


In an effort to make sure I come up with at least 500 words of creative writing everyday, I'm trying to hunt down various writing exercises. They seem to be turning into attempts at short stories, but it's still fun to do something different, usually not associated with any of my WIPs, that also keeps the creative writing juices flowing. Justin over at Forward Motion posts a writing prompt daily. And that helps. To see all of them at once, though, you need to sign up for membership with the community. Stumbling around the Internet, I found this exercise from Teresa. The process of coming up with numbers and hunting down the corresponding items to include in your plot sounds like a block-breaking method in and of itself, but then I've always enjoyed solving equations and following recipes. Order to chaos, order to chaos. Fight entropy! (Hmmm, that would make a great slogan for something.)

I'm really hoping this process will make me less at the mercy of my whimsical and flighty subconscious that decides when and for how long I can write my WIPs. Now, on to the middle of Red Rocks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

More Strange Predictions

A few months ago, I mentioned that my horoscope said I might bump into an ET. Either it didn't happen, or the alien was very well disguised. And then today, my horoscope decided to drop the ET line again.

You're in touch with something bigger and more knowledgeable. This doesn't have to be a cosmic power or extraterrestrial intelligence.

I'm beginning to wonder if the interpreters of the heavens are trying to tell me something.

Bitter What?

I think I'm going to put this on my list of typos and mistakes I hope to avoid. Or at least catch before I send my MS off to an editor or agent. From this review by Jane Morgan: "The ending was bitter sweat and left me wanting to read the next book, and soon." Now, the brain can do all sorts of funny things when you're writing fast and focusing on something else. But this is exactly the kind of thing you really hope you catch during edits.

Further Evidence

In case you missed the facts that our cats are named Adenosine Triphosphate (Addy) and Inosine (Nosey), that we spent four hours hashing out how to calculate the location of a moon on a planet's horizon, that we laughed at the interchangeable way "cancer vaccine" and "cancer drug" were used in Mary Higgins Clark's The Second Time Around, and that our Saturday morning channel of choice is The Discovery Channel, let me provide yet another clue confirming that Mark and Kellie are nerds. This was the gift Mark brought home for me from Cold Spring Harbor. And, as I put on the bracelet, Mark mentioned that he didn't get a chance to see if the helix had both a major groove and a minor groove. I promptly took off the bracelet to examine it, and we both concluded that it doesn't. It's still pretty cool, though.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Thanks again, Peg!

Peggy's really good at listening to me when I'm yammering on about something and helping me find a solution. I already gave her props for Strings of Betrayal, and now I get to thank her for giving me a book about the crisis in the Catholic Church. Breaking Faith by John Cornwell looks to be a book in which I can find a lot of my own struggles and pains detailed, but with an eye toward how to heal them and improve the Church. Sounds like a good read to me. Thanks, Peg!

Faith Run Amok

I'm sure faith can accomplish some wonderful things (it's a sign of my own personal troubles that I can't think of any concrete examples), but oftentimes faith can bring about so much, well, ickiness. Read just about anything from Santorum or Scalia (particularly on homosexual unions) to get a clear illustration of this point. In the name of their faith, they are trying to pin the crumbling of society on people's desire to just be left alone and do what they will in the privacy of their own homes with consenting adults. Instead of actually doing something about the crumbling of society. But preventing homosexual unions is going to do nothing about divorce. Or adultery. Or the other things that have been chipping away at the "institution" of marriage for far longer than homosexuality. I don't see how allowing homosexual unions could make the situation any worse than it is. In fact, we may have a thing or two to learn from devoted homosexual couples that have been sticking with each other despite the fact that the law doesn't recognize their committment.

Or how about the hullaballoo over Moore's Commandments? Have you seen or read about or listened to the scores of people protesting the removal of the monument? All in the name of defending their faith. I don't think God cares one iota if a big slab of rock is in a courthouse or not. In fact, God might think it pretty tacky that a building dedicated to justice for all sports a 5,300 lb hulk devoted to just a fraction of the ways people reach God. Like me, God may be wondering why all those protestors aren't spending their time and money feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, or even just looking at the planks in their own eyes & finding ways to remove them. You know, if it were just the Ten Commandments, I might not have a problem with it. But it talks about how the Commandments are "Nature's Law" or somesuch. Sorry, but the only laws of nature I'm aware of deal with biology, not God. And the only laws that belong in a judicial building are the laws of the country and the state.

The battles the faithful choose to fight often make me pause in any decision to return to organized religion. Maybe the fact that the Catholic lay people are gathering together to fight molestation is an indication that things in that religion aren't as bad as I had thought.

Sunday, August 24, 2003


So I finally opened this mailing we got on Friday. Out fell two credit cards. One for me, one for Mark. Real ones, not those heavy paper things they send you with an offer to transfer your balance to get their low, low rates. And these cards were from a company I had seen mail offers from, but we'd never filled one out. And the thing was sent to our old address. I immediately thought scam or identity theft. I tried calling the company's customer service. It didn't like my "account number" until I plugged it in twice. And then it politely informed me that their normal business hours did not involve any time on Sunday. The connection went dead. It sounded more and more like a fake card or problem card. So I cut the damn things up, feeling vaguely triumphant at having thwarted someone from stealing my name and credit.

Still troubled by the whole mess, I looked at one of the five pamphlets included in the mailing (it was labeled "Mark your calendar" with the date August 25, 2003 on it - I saw that and assumed it was going to talk about billing cycles). No, on the inside of the pamphlet is an indication that the two cards I just cut up were replacements for our cards with another company. Say what? When the hell did our original company decide to ship us off to another one? I called the original company. The customer service chick politely informed me that our account was sold to another company and that they sent a mailing to notify us of this on June 26. Right when we were traveling and moving. And that's it. There was no indication on any of our bills. There wasn't even a prominent notification on the paperwork with the new cards (not counting the pamphlet with the ambiguous cover). I was just a tad irate - in a pleasant voice, though, out of respect for the rep's own chipper tone. She wasn't fooled. When I asked why our account was sold, she said, "I don't know. I'm not from Mergers and Acquisitions." Bitch. With more sickly sweet tones covering my extreme anger (and growing sense of foolishness), I asked when our current cards with their company would expire. Tomorrow. Which, wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't cut up the brand spanking new ones with a brand spanking new company that were set to be activated tomorrow.L

While I'm fit to spit at anyone from Fleet (and the new company too, for good measure), I'm kicking myself all over the apartment for cutting the damn things up. Actually, I should stop. This whole fiasco has convinced me that perhaps we should take our credit elsewhere. I don't like the new company, I've never liked anything they've offered, and Fleet just bought themselves a trip straight to my shredder if I ever see anything from them again.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Productive Moping

Either I've sent the Muse away so I could be more dramatically forlorn over Mark's absence, or the Muse has deserted me while I wallow in self-pity because I am without my better half. Either way, my Muse has the better end of the deal, and I come out looking pathetic (or just overly sappy). While I don't expect to get much writing done today, I will at least get all the chores done that I've been ignoring so I could curl up on the couch and stare at the TV. And now that I know what it's like to be home alone without Mark, you can bet I'll never let this mewling and "I can't do anything" whining happen again. Even if it is sweet in a romantic comedy way.

Friday, August 22, 2003

For Mark

He works on sex determination in fruit flies. And it appears that some other scientists are figuring out that pathway in honey bees. Maybe Mark will understand why the scientist quoted in that article thinks his discovery is a "grail". I can kind of understand, seeing as how what makes humans male and female isn't as clear as one would think (there's a lot more to it than Xs and Ys), and the more we know about how other organisms handle sex determination, the more we can discern about us. But I don't know that I'd call it a grail. I think I'll reserve my cup of Christ comparisons for something that will cure cancer, Alzheimer's, or anything in that vein of things. Or something like this, which seems to have farther reaching implications. But I'm not and never have been a developmental biologist (and never will be). So what do I know?

Two Nights Down, Two More to Go

Mark's off in Cold Spring Harbor, bumping shoulders with important colleagues in the RNA field. And raising more than a few glasses of wine with them too. Rumor has it that Watson celebrated a birthday there last week, which may explain why he hasn't been sighted at the conference this week (a scientific birthday party may just give you a weeklong hangover). So while I'm very happy that Mark is there - networking, getting his research known, finding potential contacts for jobs after he gets his PhD - I'm not happy that I'm without my husband.

I would hazard a guess that most newlyweds don't like to spend time apart. In the nearly eleven months we've been married, I've had to go out of town for a couple days here and there. Actually, the whole time we've been living together (about 2.5 years), I've always been the one zipping hither and thither for a random conference, retreat, or visit. I've never had to experience what it's like to be home alone while Mark was off gallavanting somewhere. And I don't like it.

What's more, the cats don't like it either. This is a new twist for them, too. Mark tells me that they get all cuddly with him when I go away. So I figured that's what they'd do when Mark went away. Nope. Those cats are moping worse than I am. Even *my* cat Addy. This is the cat that would only sit on Mark's lap to fart when he first moved in. I spent the night being lazy in front of the TV, watching reruns. Nosey occasionally snuggled up to me and demanded attention. But Addy plopped herself on the floor and hawked the doorway, as if waiting for Mark to get home. When we go to bed, Nosey is right there waiting for more attention, and she usually commandeers at least half of Mark's pillow or mine to sleep. But not the past two nights. I've barely seen her in the bed.

So now I'm really upset because not only is Mark not here, but the cats are missing him too much to comfort me in his absence. This sucks.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

More on "The Tour"

Tonight on The Tonight Show. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Dead Kennedys. And the Patriot Act!

I can see the lines forming now as citizens crowd the streets to catch a glimpse of John Ashcroft and the Act-mobile.

I wonder if the Patriot Act would get secret service protection while on its tour? But here's the real kicker: what would the code name be?

"Roger that. Papyrus is moving."

Hey, maybe they could call the Tour "Operation Deadwood."


I read yesterday that Ashcroft is taking the Patriot Act on "tour". All seriousness about the problems surrounding this legislation aside, I just couldn't help but laugh at the notion of taking the Act on tour. I can see it now....

The lights fade to black. A spotlight starts flashing around the podium. The "pump-you-up" strains of the Rocky theme trickle out of some speakers and gradually gain volume. And then the announcer booms in true "Let's get ready to rumble fashion:"

"And now, straight from DC on its Great American Tour, the little legislation that could....the Patriot Act!"

The lights come up and the music swells. Ashcroft waves as he wheels a plexiglass box containing some papers to podium. Then he begins his infamous ventriloquism act:

"Hi, I'm the Patriot Act. I've been saving the US from terrorists all day. Boy am I tired."

Amused chuckles.

Methinks Ashcroft is going to find a much tougher crowd than he expects.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Stuck in the Middle

Anyone who's read the first draft of Human Dignity can tell you that I have a problem with middles. The problem being that I tend not to write them. About as soon as all the tension, mystery, and fun introductory hijinks of the beginning ends, I make a bee-line for the tension, mystery, and fun conclusionary hijinks of the end. I may be kind enough to provide a transition of sorts (usually in the shape of a heading that indicates six months have passed, or in a couple paragraphs of "here's what you missed last week" scattered throughout the beginning of the end). It wasn't too much of a problem with Part One of HD, but Part Two has suffered greatly from this issue. I have at least fifty pages of transition and "middle" material to write fresh. And I've got ideas for it. I think it will work out well.

But I just realized that I'm pretty much smack in the middle of Red Rocks. And that's why I'm bored. I want to get to the end. I want to start writing the intense face-offs, the cliffhanger moments, the heart-gripping decisions. There's a part of me that's very tempted to put in a filler of "some time passes" and then keep writing. But it's really not going to help my overall skill in the craft if I do that. And I promised to challenge myself always when I decided to devote my life to writing.

So now I'm faced with forcing myself to buckle down and write a middle. I have to ignore the esteem-grabbing perfectionist critic in me and come up with at least a vague outline of a few middle scenes that can in some way, shape, or form get me to the ending. And then I just have to write them. Easy, right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Time for Some Good News

Actually, the time for this news was Sunday, but I forgot that was the right day and then yesterday was, well, not a good day to say the least. So here's the really good news:


I could've talked about this a couple weeks ago, too, when I talked about our trip to Buffalo, but I thought it would be better to describe it on the actual day. At the first wedding of the summer, the DJ did a "Anniversary" dance (I think that was what it was called). What happens is all married couples start out on the dancefloor. Then the DJ starts to whittle away at the remaining couples by progressively increasing the number of years you have to have been married to keep dancing. Mark and I were gone by the second measure. But his parents didn't leave the floor until the man said, "If you've been married 30 years, keep dancing." This jogged one of their sons' memories (I can't remember which one - means it probably wasn't Mark :)) that their 30th anniversary was coming up. The sole woman in this conversation, I decide Something has to be done for them. We realized Mark and I would be in Buffalo fairly close to the big day, so we decided we could do Something then. But what? The Boys come up with dinner at a pretty swanky Italian place. I think it's a great start, but we should do More. Figuring we have the whole summer to work this out, we decide that we'll do dinner and come up with the details later.

As the summer drags on, I thought of taking my mother-in-law to a spa while the Boys went rock climbing. Finding a spa in the Buffalo area was an experience. I was brutal with several internet search engines. I combed through whatever I could find on the web. And then I started calling. For starters, the people I talked to seemed disconcerted that I was calling from Colorado. Then they also seemed offended when I asked to schedule a spa package on a particular day. One spa told me that she would need X,Y, and Z to accomodate my request. So I gave her the information she needed for X,Y, and Z. Then she told me she couldn't set up the appointment because Soanso wasn't there today. She asked me to call back the next day. And I scratched their name off my list. The phone number for another spa led to an answering machine that said, "We will be closed for the Memorial Day Weekend...". Considering that I was calling them in mid-July, I scratched them off my list too. Finally I found a professional receptionist that handled my request in stride and we were good to go.

I should mention that we only told the happy couple that they didn't have to plan anything for the Friday we would be in town. We didn't tell them why. You should have seen the tricks Mom used to pry information out of us. Yet we didn't break.

Friday rolls around and they still have no idea what's happening. The Boys go climbing, and I give the street address for where Mom and I need to go. That's it. She didn't know what was at that location until she pulled into the parking lot. That was fun. And then she had a massage while I had a facial, so I told the woman where we were going to dinner. And to pass the news on to everyone but Mom. Everywhere Mom went that day, people in the spa kept coming up to her and saying, "Hey, you're going to have fun at dinner tonight. It's a great place." Or just the very enjoyable, "I know where you're going to dinner. But I can't tell you." (The "neener, neener, neener" was implied, of course.)

Dinner time arrived. We told the parental units that semi-formal attire would be a good bet. Then we kids jumped in one car and told Mom and Dad to follow us in another. We got to the street of the really fancy place. Figuring that they might be on to the surprise, we decide to blow right past where we were actually going to eat and pull into a subway joint instead. We even got out of the car and started walking toward the door before we called the joke. Then we all piled into the real restaurant and ate like kings. The restaurant had even set up the ceilings to look like stars (we were sitting right under a shooting star).

So that was how the kids celebrated Mom and Dad's 30th anniversary. Now we'll need to start planning the big 5-0.

Monday, August 18, 2003

The Last Band-Aid Has Fallen

For the past four years, I have been applying very small bandages to the cuts on my faith, hoping they would hold and magically heal the gashes when I wasn't looking. Instead, the wounds grew even worse while I wasn't looking. Teresa posted about a suddenly found Catholic document that may or may not be the lynch pin of the lay people's case against the Catholic Church's molestation cover-up. And damned if that post and the subsequent comments didn't just up and rip off the last Band-Aid I had protecting my Catholic faith. Enter the tidal wave of repressed bitterness and anger that has been building since I started to see inconsistencies and hypocrises in the Church (which any good thousand-year-old institution is bound to have). And I let that wave flood Teresa's comments. For that I apologize.

Please excuse me while I go off into a corner and cry and try to remember why I've always loved the Profession of Faith and why I've kept insisting that I am Catholic.

More Cool Science

In addition to their previous thoughts on beer, some science geeks out there are thinking we can start running computers on DNA. It's the kind of scenario that makes science fiction look more like science fact. It's as terrifying as it is fascinating. With some more years** of tweaking and refining both this new development and nanobiology, we might be able to replace antibiotics with bug-busting nanomachines. Very cool, to be sure, but, while I may enjoy writing about implants to enhance our brains, I'm not entirely positive I want to face the option of receiving such an implant myself.

**NOTE: Anything from 10 to 100 years to never depending on funding, society, and politics. Wonder if they'll start a bet on this at Cold Spring Harbor?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

The "Solitary" World of Writing

I'm reading Lerner's The Forest for the Trees, an editor's view of the world of writing. The first four chapters or so are devoted to talking about her impressions of writer psyches. And it's interesting. I don't know that it's going to help or hurt my writing so much as it's going to make me look at my motivations for everything I do, but it's still a fun read. But she lost me last night as she mentioned for the twentieth time that writing is a lonely profession, a solitary pursuit. Now, she's not the first person to say that. I often hear this. My mother, when I mentioned that I wanted to write full-time once I quit the hell that is the public education system, told me that I wouldn't enjoy writing because it doesn't give me enough of the people interaction she felt I craved. "The writer is a loner" seems to be the one thing everyone knows about writing. And I think it's a load of bull.

On-line and real-time writing communities are my first exhibit. I belong to one of each. Forward Motion and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization. Every Tuesday night, I get together with five other writers in RMFW for a critique session. I play racquetball as often as I can with one of those people, and I work with another. We tend to call or email each other on a regular basis. In fact, without my critique group, it would've taken me years of floundering before I finally found my writing voice. As I've mentioned before, I will be going to a rather large conference hosted by RMFW to interact with writers, editors, and agents. And RMFW hosts at least one community event a month. As for Forward Motion, the sheer continual presence of writers in incredibly varied stages of the craft served as inspiration for me to really buckle down and get busy. Most Friday nights, I hang out in a Think Tank in an on-line chat room with at least a couple dozen other writers, and we have the greatest time tossing around ideas for people's writing issues. I've participated in quite a few classes by published authors and aspiring authors. Once or twice a month, everyone tries to participate in a writing marathon, and we all post our progress and cheer each other on. Now, you might say that on-line commaraderie doesn't count for anything. I have to laugh at this. If anything, the on-line forum often enhances intellectual exchange. (Well, I must admit, that often depends on where you go.)

The Blogoverse is Exhibit 2. I've read in certain places that blogging is vanity run amuk. That people who spill their guts for all the world-wide web to see are attention-hungry exhibitionists who have serious issues. Again, the truth or fiction of this will depend on where you decide to hang your hat on the internet. But blogging allows such an amazing peek into who we are, what we believe, what drives us. It's like sitting down with a cup of tea on a porch with hundreds of different people just jabbering away at whatever they want. How can you feel alone when you have so many witty, insightful, touching, thought-provoking people out there who share bits and pieces of themselves in their blogs? And with commenting, you get a chance to interact a little with that mosaic of humanity. Granted, the connected world does have its problems: the lack of face-to-face and voice-to-voice contact can create misunderstandings, and some people forget how to really live and interact in the real world because they focus all their energy on the web. I'm sure the list goes on, but the internet is just like anything in this world. You can use it to enhance your life, or you can abuse it to destroy your life.

My final piece of evidence that writing is not as solitary a sport as everyone seems to think is the very nature of the craft itself. Writers spend hours with other people - their characters. Of course, this aspect of writing is also the trait that makes writers appear and sometimes become a few sandwiches shy of a picnic. But again, you can use it to make your life better or make your life worse. It's up to you. So even when I shut myself in the study, disconnect from the internet, and just sit down with my computer (OK, my cats will likely be involved, so it won't be total solitude), I'm still not alone. I have the lives of countless fascinating people hanging around with me. People that scare me. People that make me think. People that excite me. People that disgust me. And they're all trying to tell me something. I can't help but listen and try to accurately convey their thoughts into a story. I've felt more alone in a room full of friends and acquaintances than I have ever felt when I write. Because in that room, I often have to hold something back. I can't be all of me with everyone I physically interact. It turns out that I sometimes even shouldn't reveal a whole lot of myself in certain situations. And there are always those people who just don't want you to be you anyway. I've never felt that way about writing or around writers. As I mentioned before, writing allows the most complete expression of myself that I've ever experienced. That includes my social tendencies and need for human interaction.

I don't think I'll ever be able to consider writing a solitary craft. What's more, those who do consider it a lonely occupation seem to be missing out on something.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Revising, Worldbuilding, and an Attempt at Something New

I'm in the middle of Red Rocks, and it's starting to bore me a little. So I'm going to take a break from writing the new stuff today and see if that will help me figure out how to inject some more fun into that project. So today will be a mega Human Dignity revising day with forays into worldbuilding Velorin. I also started playing around with a short story idea last night. It's something that stuck in my head Thursday evening from a writing exercise prompt at Forward Motion. Turns out I even mis-read the prompt. I thought it read that you were listening to the ship's self-destruct sequence and it suddenly stopped at 6 - write about why. But it was supposed to be a prompt that you were listening to the ship's launch sequence and it suddenly stopped at 6. It was too late, though. The story idea based on a ship about to be destroyed stuck with me. And I finally agreed to start writing it and see where it took me last night. I've even written it in first person, another extremely new thing for me. I figured I might as well make my first experiment with the short-story world really different from my novels. So I may not write all that many new words Red Rocks this weekend, but I'm still going to get a lot done.

Friday, August 15, 2003


Wandering around the blogs of some authors (somehow stumbled onto Peter David's blog), I was trying to get a feel for what the daily grind of the pros was like (Sheila, you don't count because your daily grind is at least ten times what the average pro writer does :) ). And the name Neil Gaiman kept popping up. In fact, his name's been popping up for the past two weeks as I wandered around in the writing blogoverse. I knew I'd heard it before. I couldn't remember from where. I saw a book titled American Gods attached to his name at some point and that stirred another vague, "Oh, yeah, I saw that or heard about that...somewhere." So when I saw that Peter David linked to Neil's blog today, I figured I'd check it out. See if I could jog those memories.

Turns out Neil co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett. And that's what had been niggling the memory centers. I borrowed it from the CU library at some point just before I graduated my ass the heck out of there. I think I had to return it unfinished because of said graduation. Can't remember. But I do remember enjoying what I did manage to read. So I started poking around Neil's site, just to see what's what. Personal websites are fascinating. You get such neat glimpses into other viewpoints and personalities and little corners of the world.

At this point I should mention that I was taking a break from writing Red Rocks and worldbuilding Velorin. So I was feeling pretty good about my writing. I had accomplished something today, I had direction for all my projects, the weekend was going to bring about some good progress, etc. And then I clicked on Neil's biography and my jaw dropped. Granted, he's got twenty years professional writing experience to my zero, but still. A big whopping dose of perspective fell into my lap. And the cockiness of "I can do this, I can do anything" faded. But overall, it was a good feeling. Somehow the experience of reading just how much this man has done gave me hope. That if I work hard, stay serious about it, and don't give up, I can succeed too. Maybe I felt empowered by the fact that the current entry in Neil's blog talked about a story a couple people had trashed years ago - and he's getting ready to sell it now.

Of course, Neil just won a Hugo (along with every other award under the sun, it seems) for American Gods, so we're getting very deep into apples and oranges territory.

And now I find myself thinking how I managed to miss that his book won the Hugo. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to the world in which I want to publish. I can see me at some swanky author party, embarrassing myself a la Bridget Jones by saying to Neil, "Oh, didn't you co-author that book with Terry Pratchett?" It's like going up to Brad Pitt and saying, "Hey, you're Jennifer Aniston's husband!" One thing I know for certain: I've got the art of dining on my own foot down.


Chugging right along. I haven't written as much in Red Rocks as I had hoped to by now, but it's still coming right along. About 27,000 words. I revised another 60 pages of Human Dignity last night. I would've finished going through Part One, but someone decided it would be fun to repeatedly bang a sledgehammer against my sinuses. So I went to bed a little early. And Velorin worldbuilding is progressing rather well. I increased my language vocabulary, came up with some planetary mechanics (see yesterday's post), and started writing the backstory of my prime baddie. She's a fun one.

I've realized through these three projects that I'm very much an organic writer. (Gah, I hate how the word "organic" has been tossed around without any real idea as to what it means.) But, near as I can tell, being an organic writer means that you don't do a whole lot of planning. You just kind of start writing an idea and see where it takes you. I do plan, outline, research, and sketch a little before I start writing something, but it's very basic compared to what most people do. For example, I have the basic plot of Red Rocks sketched somewhere in the notebook devoted to this project. But I have no real idea how I'm going to get there. My characters have been doing a great job of keeping me in the loop as I write. But they're not telling me everything. Especially those damn heroes. The villains can't help themselves and blab motivations and plot twists that the rest of the group would berate them for if they ever found out somebody was spilling the beans. I would love to be in on my characters' secret meetings. Where they all get together and decide who's going to do what, who loves who, who hates who, who really just wants to be left alone, and so on. But they find a nice quiet corner of my brain (didn't know I had one), set up a wall of blankets, pin on a poorly written sign (secrut metin: no writurs), and make someone stand guard in case I stumble onto what they're doing. The guard's really good, too. He usually distracts me by saying, "Kellie, look at that fascinating new story idea over there!" And off I go. I wonder if my muse is in on this too. Or if she's just as pissed at my characters and sneaks into their meetings complaining about all the extra work they're making her do.

This organic writer business is going to be a problem. I was hoping to write a proposal of Strings of Betrayal for a possible submission to Luna by mid-September (end of the year at the latest - do you like how I just flexed that personal deadline?). But writing a proposal requires that I know a lot more about a project than I usually do before I start writing. Like, I don't know, how the book's going to end, what the characters are going to do. I really need to have a chat with my muse and characters. Some things have got to change.

More of What Not to Do

When seeking employment, it is probably not the brightest of ideas to ask potential employers if they do criminal background checks as part of the application process. Someone called me, trying to get a hold of one of my managers and asked that question. I honestly couldn't tell her, but I think it's a safe bet that IBM would. Of course, I barely squeaked out a response to her question, since I couldn't believe she was asking me. Thank God I didn't go with my first sarcastic response of "Why? Are you hiding a felony?" She seemed like a nice enough person - except for the fact that she kept calling me even after I told her the manager was busy for the next half hour in a meeting. And she had another employment question (Do I look like the human resources department?), so I finally transferred her to human resources and let them deal with her. But let me tell you where her application would have gone if I were the one to decide such things: circular file.

Then one of the ladies I work with mentioned how she had a coworker that was arrested for drugs and will always be denied employment at certain places because of it - even though she's turned her life around and the felony is a decade or more in her past. And how sad would that be if the lady that kept calling me had screwed up in the past and now has picked herself up off the ground and really made something of her life? But she can only get certain jobs because of a mistake in the past. That would really suck.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Cool Science

I didn't feel like reading depressing news about the heat-wave in Europe or just how many names the poor voters in California are going to have to wade through, so I sought out the science section and found this. Very cool that we can dig up some old dude from a chunk of ice, figure out how he died, what he ate before he died, that he put up a good fight before his death, and numerous other things. Gets me even more excited about this Sunday's Discovery premiere of Nefertiti Resurrected. Forensic archaeology is just amazing. But we've already determined I'm a science geek, so maybe there aren't a whole lot of people as excited about this as I am.

Speaking of nerds, I forgot to mention how I spent my Monday night. I was worldbuilding Velorin and finally came up with some of the basic mechanics of the world (length of day, year, seasons, etc). I decided I wanted four moons, one for each season, and that when a particular moon was new, it would indicate the start of a season. My husband is a closet geologist and astronomer, so I dumped this idea on him and asked him to tell me how I might get this to work. Five hours later, we finished creating equations that would provide a rough estimate as to where we could find the moons on the horizon at any point during the year, from any point on the planet. Granted, it took three hours to decide that my neatly ordered four moon system violates at least three laws of physics, but I'm going to run with "the Gods created it thus and ensure it stays thus" for a while and see how that feels.

For the lighter side of science, Teresa linked to a real scientific treat a few days ago. I love scientists with funny streaks.

And here's another example of quirky scientific humor (see Alex Brown's comment). I also find it extremely amusing that they've reduced all lipids to the label of "fats". To be fair, the article did start out calling them "fats and oils" and dropped the "oils" immediately. But at least it was there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Dangerous Thoughts

This is what I get for listening to Evanescence's beautiful but mostly depressing debut album. It seems like nearly all of the songs mention suicide in some way or another. But the songs are really great, so you find yourself sucked into tunes of pain, anger, and loss. It's the kind of stuff that makes you start thinking about things you were very happy not thinking about. Thoughts like, "What the hell am I doing?"

I got to thinking about my life on my drive home from work yesterday as track 4 - "My Immortal" - was playing. The thought process started innocuously enough. For the writing contest to which I sent Human Dignity, we'll get a phone call by Aug 15 if we advanced to the final judging round. Yesterday being Aug 12, I decided it was time to face up to reality and realize that what I sent in would not advance. If I had been able to revise those first 20 pages to what they are now, then it would be a possibility. But not in the shape they were in in May. I'm still glad I did the contest. I got the experience of submitting something. I was forced to write my first synopsis ever - that was fun. And the judges will send back my submission with their comments in the margins - feedback is always a plus. I also told myself to stop expecting my cell phone to ring by Aug 15 because there was a small part of me that believed I might increase my chances of getting said call by convincing myself I would not be getting the call. I love logic.

From this little nugget came all sorts of thoughts. It was one of those moments when you feel like you're really close to figuring out something, to getting something right. But you have no idea what, so you end up thinking about everything in your life, all at once. OK, maybe you don't have this experience, but trust me on this - it's not fun. You doubt everything, you question everything, you wonder if you should be doing what you're doing. And out of this extremely loud and draining jumble of thoughts, you're supposed to figure out something. But you have no idea what.

So I went home and opened the new issue of Jane and turned off the brain. Nice when you have reading material that complies with your desire not to think.

And maybe that's what my brain was trying to tell me. That I need to stop thinking so much. I'm doing something that makes me happy, something that I enjoy, something that I can do passingly well right now and something that I'm improving daily. It's something I can do for the rest of my life and tweak it to fit what's most imporant in my life at any given time. It's something that allows the most complete expression of myself that I've ever experienced. Maybe I should just start trusting in that more.

Not Just Me

Apparently a computer virus was causing the problems yesterday. And this was a poorly written virus. There are at least five witty things I could say about that, but all five things have just collided in my head to make one extremely confusing comment. So if you see random statements about bad writers and hackers in my subsequent posts, you'll understand why.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Is It Just Me?

Or are a lot of things on the internet broken right now? It seems like commenting all over the bloggoverse is kaput. I can't even see the normal excite home page. I can't click on dozens of links in random websites. And my posting template was a bit trippy earlier. Did all the computers and software programs get together, call in sick, and head out for Disneyland?

Monday, August 11, 2003

Santorum At It Again

Just when I think the man will go back to his little corner of politics and shut his trap for a while, he splurts some new gem of wisdom. First off, learning Santorum is a fellow Catholic was jarring - to say the very least. And a daily communicant at that. Then, I read that he "accused colleagues of establishing a prohibition for the federal judiciary of anybody with 'deep faith in Catholicism, having to subscribe to the church's teaching on abortion.'" So, if you don't feel you have to subscribe to the church's teaching on something, does that mean you can't have a deep faith in Catholicism? The implication of everything that spews from this man's mouth just boils my blood and terrifies me for the future. Third-ranking Republican in Congress? Eep! Makes me want to move to Pennsylvania just so I can vote against him next time 'round. Or maybe I should just hang out in another area of Colorado so I can try to boot out Marilyn Musgrave, the "No Gay Marriage" Flag Bearer.

Can we please start practising that whole separation of church and state sometime soon? Like, before I die, so I can at least get a feel for what politics without the legislation of select morality might look like.


Actor-dancer Gregory Hines is dead at 57. This man put tap dancing on the map for me. And ballet, in a roundabout way. "White Nights" was an amazing movie. Without Gregory Hines, I probably wouldn't have appreciated Riverdance nearly as much. Everytime I saw tap, I thought of him. And now he's gone.

This year's taken quite a few stars that I grew up watching. First Katharine Hepburn, then Gregory Peck, then Bob Hope, now Gregory Hines. Before when an aging celebrity would pass on, I would remember having watched a movie or two of theirs, or maybe remember my parents talking about their movies. But these losses have really dealt a blow. "The Philadelphia Story" was one of my favorite classic movies (Jimmy Stewart AND Cary Grant!!). Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books and Gregory Peck will forever be Atticus Finch whenever I pick up that book for a re-read. I remember watching countless Bob Hope specials on the Armed Forces Network while we lived in Germay. It felt like there was always one on. And Gregory Hines made dancing cool. I'll never look at my tap shoes the same way again (assuming I can find them to look at them - I haven't used them since my Irish dance class at Notre Dame) and listening to the Riverdance soundtrack will always be a little bittersweet now.

That nap keeps looking better and better.

So Tired

Ugh, it's going to be one of those Mondays. I slept on my shoulder wrong, I had a bad dream about my cat choking on pennies and needing CPR (I have never claimed to accept responsibility for what my subconcious spits out at night), and I'm ready for a four hour nap. So, ugh. I'm supposed to do some worldbuilding today, but coherent thought is difficult (I'm really surprised I can even write this). On the plus side, I have now gone through my entire music collection and ripped the songs I wanted for my Media Player Library. And I wrote 1800 words yesterday in Red Rocks. Next week, Mark will be out of town at a conference, and I plan to get a lot of writing and revising done then. Well, I won't have much of a choice, seeing as how I don't sleep well at all when Mark's not here. Better to get something done than stare at the ceiling until exhaustion kicks in. Damn, I'm really tired. I started salivating at the idea of just laying in bed.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Friggin' Technology

After that entry, my fingertips were all warmed up to write. I cued up a playlist of some music on Media Player and opened my WIP. Only to realize that all the songs I grabbed from my CDs and put onto my computer last week were GONE. I had tried to do some tidying last night and ended up deleting them all. ARGH! It took me a good two hours to get those 54 songs. And they were doing great things to set the mood for my writing. Now I'm torn between re-doing all that work (I'll eventually have to) and just getting to work. Procrastinator in me says: Music! Writer in me says: That music was really helping, maybe you should sacrifice a little writing time. But you've been unable to write for a while now due to traveling. Maybe you should just work on revisions and say to hell with the computer for now. Hmmm, I may be able to work around this. I can revise while I do the music. That might work.

P.S. I knew I shouldn't have listed Sheila's latest book in my "Currently Reading" list. Two days after that update, I'm done with Blade Dancer and need to update "Currently Reading" again. Another great job, Sheila. And I'll never moan about my tiny knee problems ever again! :)

Queasy Stomach

Last night as I was driving home, a local radio station announced their most recent promotion. Yes, that's right. Some lucky listener will win $10,000 to spend at your friendly plastic surgeon's office. If hearing the promotion hadn't have shocked me so much, I would've pulled off the road and heaved into the grass. It's not often that a little piece of reality will reach up and smack you in the face with such force that you even forget to throw up. OK, so it's nothing new that society is all about looking young, thin, and beautiful. And many networks, shows, and various other media give away makeovers and trips to the spa like candy. But giving away plastic surgery? And you should hear the ad they run on it. "Ladies, want a nip, boob job, tuck, boob job, chin lift, boob job, botox, or boob job?" Etc. It's repellent. If they weren't the only station that plays 3 Doors Down, Live, and Dave Matthews without also playing the non-music that is the Beastie Boys, I would never listen to them again. (Whoever gave the Beastie Boys a record deal needs to be shot - or forced to listen to their "music" for all eternity. I wonder how long it would take him to realize that it all sounds the same?)

Anyone who's been dress-shopping with me realizes that I'm a little self-conscious about a certain area of my bod. I mean, it's really frustrating to put on an outfit that flatters every single other inch of your body, but sags in the front. Junior high as a late bloomer in this area was a real treat. When I broke up with one boyfriend, he slipped an ad for bust enhancement cream in my locker. (He also spread rumors that I was a lesbian. And now we're good friends - go figure.) But in all the years of dealing with this little foible, I never once considered plastic surgery. I didn't buy WonderBras. I didn't even think about strategically placed Kleenex. It took me many years to understand that *I* didn't have to be perfect, but not that long to realize that *my body* would never be perfect. And I got over it (well, that trip into Victoria's Secret when I realized all the salesclerks were ignoring me for the more endowed customers set me back a little).

But the caller I heard win a chance at this prize was very excited about it. Maybe that's because, in addition to getting a chance at the boob job, she also got an "adult gift" and some money for a spa visit. Maybe it's like that very first "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" show. The second place prize was a scholarship or something really good - and that's why all the girls jumped at the chance. No one actually wanted to marry the ass they paraded around. They all wanted to be the runner-up. Well, that's what I thought was the deal with that show, but all the other reality shows it spawned and the people they found to be on them really make me wonder.

Well, maybe this really isn't so bad. Maybe all the contestants will have to congregate in one area to do one last contest to win the $10,000 Nip/Tuck Extravaganza. And maybe not all of the women who won a chance will show up. Even if it's just one woman who decides against it, I could still retain some faith in society.

Friday, August 08, 2003


Big, gargantuan, behemoth thanks to Peggy. I was bitching about how I still didn't like Chords of Honor as the title for my fantasy. So we were throwing ideas around, and she came up with "Strings of" something. And that's perfect - it brings in the musical element, and it ties in the whole premise of magic in that world. I've promised Peg very prominent thanks in the book if I ever manage to a) write it and b) publish it. In case I do neither of those, I hope she'll take this post as a "consolation prize". Thanks, Pegleg.


I heard "Jump Around" by House of Pain this morning on my way into work and was immediately dragged back to a junior high dance. Minus the backstabbing bitches and guys who avoided me once they figured out I wasn't easy. And I also felt an unusual desire to hear "Baby Got Back", "The Humpty Hump", and "Hammertime". And a strange urge to cut myself some bangs, curl them up and hairspray the hell out of them so I gained five inches, and then peg my jeans. This bout of nostalgia might explain why, as I walked to my desk and realized that some idiot had turned on the heat, I started singing "The Heat is On". At least that's a really good song. Tellmecanyoufeelit? Tellmecanyoufeelit? Tellmecanyou feel it?

In the Hopes of Stopping the Afore-mentioned Flashback: Here's a little bit of writing humor. I might just frame that sucker and keep it over my desk for when those rejection letters start coming in. :)

Thursday, August 07, 2003

What Not To Do

OK, so someone at Teresa's blog stumbled across this gem. From that page, do a search for "Borton" and "Aker". It's nice to have such stunning examples of how not to handle correspondance with editors and publishing houses. While I love my work and want to see it in print and on the NYT Bestsellers List (I need to find a "better odds at winning the lottery" smiley), I just can't see myself pulling the "unappreciated artiste" attitude and burning so many bridges. Especially with editors that gave very good rejections. But he seems to have an agent, so he's gotta be doing something right. Wonder what it is?

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Topic I Can't Leave Alone

I was going to write a nice long post about the shenanigans at Forward Motion this weekend. Here's the main point: I came back with some amazing writing news that I wanted to share with my on-line writing pals. Instead of being able to share, though, I spent the entire day yesterday sorting through what happened while I was gone. And by the end of the day, I realized that none of the mess was necessary. It could've and should've been handled privately. Instead, it was handled in a fashion that sucked in everyone and embroiled the entire community. And I just can't get over that fact.

So instead of dwelling on it and upsetting myself further, I'm going to curl up with my brand-spanking new copy of Blade Dancer by S.L. Viehl (Sheila). For once I'm not going to grumble about Sheila's books derailing my writing schedule. I need the all-consuming distraction right now.

P.S. I just sent out the 10 MS pages and 1 page synopsis. It's done. No turning back. I'm committed (or should that be "I need to be committed"?).

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Great News

This news is five days old, and I've been hinting at it in various different ways on this blog. So I'm not going to let the bad news that's occupied most of my day (well, the stuff leading up to that link occupied the morning; that link is the latest), get in the way of me spilling my good news.

I will be reading to Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Tor as part of the Annual Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writing Conference. Now when I say "of Tor," I mean that Teresa is, like, Tor's UberEditor. My hands are already shaking. And, here's the best part: I signed myself up for this.

Last month, this sounded like a great idea. Feedback from a real, bona fide scifi & fantasy editor. From a mega publishing house. I'm in. Now I actually have to prep 10 pages of my MS and squeeze the 500 pages of my book into a 1 page synopsis. This is no longer abstract. And the reality is making me nervous.

What if she hates it?

So she'll tell me why, and I'll learn something and improve my writing.

But what if she hates it?

So I'll keep my chin up and try really hard to glean salient points from her critique despite the loud ringing in my ears as my self-esteem crumbles around me.

No, what if she HATES it?

Then I do everything in my power to prevent myself from crying in front of Tor's UberEditor. After that, I will consume large quantities of chocolate (perhaps an alcoholic beverage or ten) and give myself a week or so break from writing while I try to piece together some semblance of enjoyment from my work.

As I wandered through the above reactions, I realized something. No one's ever harshly critiqued my work. There have been critiques that are really attacks on my world view (and those tend to push a button and send diplomacy flying), but the vast majority have been supportive and helpful. As in, "This is good, but try doing X instead and it might be even better" or "Your writing is really improving, here's how to make it even better" etc. I need to experience something a little more severe before I read to Teresa Nielsen Hayden. So I'm going to ask three of my friends that I know are capable of removing the gloves AND that I can still be friends with after said gloves are off to listen to me read as I would in the class and then go to town. That will at least take the edge off my jitters. I mean, if I have some clue about what the class might be like if it goes to hell in a handbasket, then I'm less likely to resort to tears. And, unfortunately, my body deals with extreme emotional stress with tears. I really have no control over it. I have many stories to demonstrate this (the time I burst into tears after finishing my extremely frustrating and difficult first biochem exam and then wanted to discuss the answers with the prof so I could start studying for the next one comes to mind: "Professor? *sob* Don't mind *hic* the tears. I would like to *sniff* find out *wail* how to do number *sob* three."). I'm hoping that exposure to a somewhat intense and stressful situation with friends that haven't read the work but know me will lower the chances of a teary episode with Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

No matter what, I'll come out of the experience having learned something. And you can't beat that. (Well, you could. She could have a contract ready for me to sign as I finish my reading. What was I saying about the odds of winning the lottery again?)

Letting Others Speak For Me

As gay marriage takes a sideshow stage in the twelve-ring circus that is politics, I've been reading my views represented much better in several other forums.

For starters, this editorial has to be the calmest and most logical piece on the matter I've seen yet.

And here's another good discussion (Aug 4).

And here's Sheila's take on it (July 30).

So I'll just cop out with a "yeah, what they said".

Should've Kept my Mouth Shut

I post the last entry, click on comments, and am told that enetation (my comment generator) is down. I hope it wasn't anything I said. I always thought that admitting was the first step....

Quick Blogging Advisory

Well, for one thing, my template for posting looks one way on the work computer and another way on the home computer. I like the home way better, but I have no idea why Bblogger is doing this to me. Mysteries of technology. The real reason for this post is that I've just noticed a potential problem with my comments. For today's first entry, I see an indication that I have one comment. But there are none when I click on it. For the July 29 list of guilty pleasures entry, I see an indication that I have four comments, but there are only three there (Mark's, mine, and Kane's). If you are the missing commentator, let me know. Hmmm...but I guess you'll have to email me to let me know since I won't be able to see your comments. I do have a link to my email in the left margin, near the bottom. And if it's just a random technological SNAFU, then I'm happy to add that to the Blogger issue mentioned above.

And I still have more to blog about the past five days. Nearly caught up.

Time to Catch Up

Got back from a nice long weekend trip to Buffalo for a wedding and a visit with Mark's family. This means I have about 508 things to catch up on today. And I have so much to blog about. Until I get back on top of things, though, this post that I typed on the laptop over the weekend will have to suffice.

Delayed Posting from Buffalo: I'm writing the following on my laptop at my in-laws' house in Buffalo. Seeing as how the time and date of this post will not coincide with my trip out of state, you're probably guessing – accurately – that I wrote this and posted it later once we returned home.

That being said, I'd just like to mention that it's 2:30AM as I write this. (Note to self: Never, EVER drink half a liter of Pepsi after 6PM; there's a pretty good reason you avoid caffeine in the first place.) So I can't sleep and I've got a million thoughts running around in my head like a mouse in an exercise wheel. Mostly those thoughts are about writing. But a few of them are about how much I hate wet climates. I've spent the majority (4) of the past 7 years in Colorado and Arizona. Two very dry places. A humid day in these areas means the humidity level is about 30%. The other 3 years of the past seven have been spent in Indiana. A normal day there is 100% humidity. I really do love my alma mater. Notre Dame is a great school. It's just in one of the worst locations ever. Most of the students there pray to Our Lady that time can be altered and Father Sorin, the school's founder, will decide to stop his cross-country trek at, say, Hawaii. But, this must be old news. I'm sure I've mentioned before how much I despise the Midwest. In case you missed it, imagine one million camels and llamas spitting all at once. Raise that amount of spittle to the millionth power, and you've started to scratch the surface of my level of hatred for this particular region of the country. Note that I said region, not inhabitants of the region. I live in constant admiration of those who call the Midwest home – and I constantly wonder at the sanity of those who fondly call the Midwest home.

Now, I love my husband's family. They are great people, and I enjoy visiting with them. They just, unfortunately, fall into the latter category described above. (Well, their sanity was questionable before I realized they enjoyed living in wet, flat, gray areas. Afterall, they did produce my husband.) So for them, I'll somehow find ways to work around my incredibly flat, straight hair turning into a frizzy mane with a slight wave to it. I'll deal with the pain as I try to pry the backs of my thighs from the cushionless chair I foolishly chose for the four hours we played cards and board games. I'll manage to eat the chips that became stale after two hours exposure to the air. I'll even keep my mood cheerful when that lovely gray permacloud settles in over the Midwest and Northeast, preventing me from meeting my sun quota for the day.

And with that, I think I'm ready to go to bed. There's a lot more I have to divulge both about this trip and recent writing developments (all good), but blogging coherency levels are about to start plummeting. And I wouldn't want to subject any of you to that.

P.S. I really do admire the folk that live in the Midwest. Someone does need to inhabit that part of the country. And I thank each and every one of you daily (hourly when I’m actually in the region) that you're taking up the burden so I don't have to.