Thursday, September 30, 2004

A Cat, A Movie, A Writer, and Time

But maybe not in that order. I've realized that time for blogging is going to be sparse during the week. So I need to get in the habit of posting my long, thought-provoking, challenging material (OK, stop laughing) on the weekends and post the quickies during the week. So here's my first attempt.

Addy was so sweet this morning. She purred really loudly (something unusual for her) when I wrote my Morning Pages in the study this morning next to where she was perched, just as I did for most of the summer. I didn't have to touch her or even look at her, just be with her. That's reason enough for me to make sure I always do my Morning Pages there from now on. Sweet kitty.

And the best news I've heard in a while is that Mel Brooks hoping to release a sequel to "Spaceballs" the week before Star Wars Episdoe III. Very exciting. I've been trying to find some kind of link for this info, but have failed. The only confirmation Brooks made was that he had written himself into the sequel.

I got a good laugh this morning from Teresa's blog. Turns out a writer has decided to auction his manuscript on Ebay. He apparently doesn't want to go through that whole "vanity press" publishing hassle, so he's hoping some Big Name Author will find his manuscript and snatch it up for $150,000 and put their name on it (he grants that they might want to change the title) and sell it as their own for megabucks. Beyond the obvious comments, I wanted to point out that the author refuses to email his manuscript to an interested buyer for fear of that person "stealing [his] story and putting there [sic] name on it." Which I suppose I can understand not wanting someone to do this for free when he's trying to make money on it, but it just seemed odd that he says this as part of an explanation asking a big name author to do that very same thing. He also states frequently that both English teachers AND professors have read the manuscript and love it. I wonder when this man gave up on trying to go the traditional publishing route. It sounds like he hasn't even finished the thing yet, let alone gone through a round or ten of revisions (and judging from his writing explaining the auction, ten rounds would be the minimum number required, I think). Good for a laugh, and Teresa's discussion of it is good for more excellent thoughts on vanity presses.

Back I go to work.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Off to Entertain

Mark's parents are in town from Buffalo until Sunday, so I'm heading out for some fun with the in-laws and won't be posting until Monday. Have a great weekend, and tune in next week for the very long-awaited "I'm an Ass" post and a few other things that have been cooking in my noggin' for a while.

Bad Thursday, Bad

OK, so it seems that Thursday is just going to hit me hard every week unless I figure out exactly what my deal is and how to fix it. Each Thursday I've been here, I've gotten incredible creative urges, this often over-whelming desire to sit down and just WRITE! And not for an hour or two when I get home in the evening, but all friggin' day. I wonder what it is about my weekly schedule mentally, emotionally, and physically that creates this need. Because it makes Thursday a bitch of a day to get through at work. I'm cranky, I'm frustrated, and I'm prone to just stare off into space, wishing I had my laptop with me and all my writing materials to just got nuts. Which is tantamount to wishing I could spend Thursday at home writing and not even think about going into work. I wonder if they'd let me get away with that? Coming in on a Saturday or Sunday instead of a Thursday? Wait, do I want to do that?

At any rate, I've got to figure out why this happens every Thursday, because I'm not a happy camper at the moment. I'm certainly not productive. The first thing I can do is at least bring in a writing journal or three on Thursdays and give myself five minutes here and there to sketch out ideas and thoughts about my projects. That should help. I just wish I knew why it was a Thursday thing. Because it would be nice if I could convince this unbearable writing urge to move to Saturday or Sunday--a day where I could actually give in to that seemingly insatiable need to be one with paper and keyboard and muse.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You Know It's an Interesting Day When...

I got in this morning to find that the simple request of one file from someone resulted in that someone suggesting I take ALL of his files in a reply--a reply, I might add, in which he CC'd the president of the company. Way to show up on the Big Guy's radar real fast. And, of course, my manager left yesterday for vacation for the rest of the week. It's not that I don't mind taking his files, I'm just not sure I can, and it's also really weird to get back a "you want one file, you gots to take dem all" response. :) I love my job.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Bad Carma

The misspelling is intentional. This is apparently the Week of the Car. Yesterday, my manager was gone for much of the day because she somehow ran over a boxcutter and had to get a new tire and such. I remember thinking how glad I was that it wasn't me. Then I tried to drive to work this morning, and the key wouldn't go in the ignition. Something was physically blocking it. Sound like a strange problem? Well, it's actually happened before. Only I couldn't remember how Mark got the problem fixed. And he was on a bus on his way to work without a cell phone. So much for leaving at 7:30 to get to work by 8. The good news is that I got a chance to write the morning pages that I hadn't done today because I slept in a little and ate an unhurried breakfast. And since I couldn't get the car fixed until after 8, I had five minutes to swing into Target and pick up the Star Wars trilogy instead of rushing around on my way home from work and before my crit group.

Moral of the story: don't be so relieved that one man's car trouble is not your own; your car may remedy that situation.

Monday, September 20, 2004

At Least the Rally Cap Works...Sorta

Mark was pinging all weekend long because the Bills were playing the Raiders, and since the Raiders are big Bronco rivals, they'd be broadcasting the game here. And that means he can watch the game live instead of staring at a computer screen, waiting for the stats and scores to refresh. (One day we're going to have the money so he can do that NFL season pass thing with cable or an on-line radio deal, but that day is not going to come this season--or the next. Barring the sudden book deal, of course.) So we got to watch the game yesterday, and that was a mixed blessing.

Last week, Mark started watching the game by wearing the Bills cap my dad bought for me way back in 1994-ish. Then he put the cap on my head when he went to make lunch, and the Bills scored. He became convinced that the cap should be on my head during Bills games. Thus we started yesterday's game with Bills cap firmly secured on my noggin. The first quarter didn't go well, so we re-analyzed our luck-giving strategy. It was determined that I should still wear the hat but perhaps go into another room to work on my writing, and this might bring the Bills offensive glory (or, at the very least, a functioning offense). We went through two quarters that way to no avail. So Mark put the cap on sometime in the fourth quarter and dubbed it the "rally cap". And it did work so far that the Bills did indeed score a touchdown (and were a foot away from catching an onsides kick and winning the game). So the rally cap works of a fashion, and thus we've found one part of the Bills' winning strategy--from a fan perspective.

As for how the game actually went, let's just say it was a lot like watching the Irish play last year--fantabulous defense, shitty offense. Hell, I probably could've sacked Bledsoe yesterday just by blowing at the TV screen. Here's to hoping that the Bills at least don't lose the next game the way they've lost the last two--13-10. Of course, a W would be preferable, if only to make Mark smile once this early football season.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Struggle

So the first couple weeks at the job haven't exactly been grand, and I've finally figured out why. First of all, I knew coming in that I was their third choice, the first two having said no because their other jobs fought to keep them. Other than a slight ego-bruising, I didn't mind this fact too much because, hey, it was a job. And the timing of getting the job was exactly what I needed it to be to get through some issues and such. But when I started the job, I found out that one of the two temps who had been doing my job and the other guy's job had been offered my job and turned it down (she's trying to move and thought she was going to be able to do so right when they offered her the job; turned out she couldn't move then). So by then it wasn't that I was their third choice - I actually never would've been interviewed if the temp had taken the job.

Now I'm beginning to feel like I have to be perfect and prove that hiring me was a good idea. That really sucks since I had just gotten to the root of my perfectionism this summer and was starting to dismantle it and work on telling myself that I'm only human and therefore mistakes are inevitable. Add in Bitch PM's scolding yesterday (I forgot to mention that she actually gestured me back into my seat when I stood up to go correct the problem before she had finished her little lecture), and the fact that I haven't really been trained and I've gotten odd, figure-this-system-out-and-apply-it-to-a-whole-room projects, and I'm feeling the axe swinging somewhere already. I feel like a sore thumb in an otherwise healthy hand. I'm having a meeting with my manager about goals for the next year, and we've finally settled on a who's doing what and let's get everyone trained system, so things should be better in the next month, if not sooner. Still, it's making for a bumpy beginning, especially when I was just getting into a writing groove and looking forward to being unemployed for a few more months. Makes me pretty grouchy, almost as bad as Oscar in his trash can. Almost.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Yippee, Skippee

I just got patronized by a project manager! Yay. Granted, I had done something not quite wrong, just trying to stick to the way things were usually done when I could've thought a bit and realized how she wanted it done in this case. But still. After a while, she pulled me aside, all smiles and "you must be new" looks and told me what she wanted. I immediately stood up to fix the problem, and she did the whole "wait and let me finish so you understand exactly what happened" shit with that annoying smile on her face and treated me like a five-year-old who's never had to think for herself before. Grrrrr. Oh well. It's her loss if she thinks I'm that stupid. She won't get the full weight of my resorces that way. Too bad.

Beautiful Morning

On the drive into work, the sun was just low enough and covered just right with clouds that the front range was in shadow and the peaks of the Rockies were in sunshine. And the peaks were dusted with just a tinge of snow with a clear blue sky behind them. It was very pretty, but it had nothing on the desert beauty of the Catalinas at sunset. I miss Tucson.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Writing Resource

I haven't had much time to play around this site, but it looks cool for worldbuilding help, something which I think I will need as soon as I have time for that fantasy trilogy that refuses to stay put for a minute.

Monday, September 13, 2004

More Writing Progress

I figured out Friday night what was wrong with Part One of HD. The plot's driving the characters' actions instead of the other way around. And I had actions left over from the very first iteration of the novel (you know, the part that I wrote back in 2000). So I've rethought some of the action of Part One and made things a bit more energetic and understandable given the characters I set up in the first thirty pages. I still have to write all these changes, but it feels better knowing what was broken and knowing it's fixable.

As for the other projects, The Masque is now outlined through the first story arc (Act One, basically). Unfortunately the outline revealed that I still didn't have the specifics on my MC's research project and the baddies' research project. These are things I need to figure out. That's tonight's goal. I'm hoping to start writing actual new material for this book by the end of the week. Or at the beginning of next week, depending on how my HD revisions go this weekend.

Man, this is a lot to juggle. And in the back of my brain is the goals of writing the HD synopsis, getting four more queries out, submitting it to a writing contest, AND being finished with a draft of The Masque by the end of the year, no later than January 2005. Yipes! Maybe I need to rethink some of this. Especially because my intergalactic archaeologist story is refusing to go quietly into my "to be written later" room in my mind. And my fantasy trilogy, which starts out with Strings of Betrayal, is still lazily doing worldbuilding and outlining in my head. I don't think my muse has any control over these ideas any more. I can see her sitting in my head, tossing up her hands and saying, "YOU sort this out. I'm done."

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Status of Kellie's Writing

My, where to begin? Ah, yes.

< Cheesy Announcer > When last we left our Struggling Author, she had just won a great victory in finishing the [pause for dramatic effect] Human Dignity revisions! [musical riff of some sort] Now, our Daring Writer must face another harrowing battle in [pause for dramatic effect] Human Dignity revisions! [more dramatic music] But there's more! She also must juggle a new novel, several short stories and novelettes loosely related to this new novel, and a fourty-hour work week! [Dun-dun-duuuunnnnnnn] Will our Super Novelist survive? Tune in to this weekend's episode of [cue the echo-effect] Adventures in Kellie's Mind! < / Cheesy Announcer >

I finished the big, huge revisions to HD back in May (maybe even April? can't remember), and then I didn't write until July basically. When I did start writing again, I played around with a couple of short story/novelette ideas that turned out to be a millenia in the future after the events of The Masque. That came to about 120 pages of writing--all for fun, basically. Or maybe not. The Masque's universe is growing and developing and making room for sequels and prequels and a series of short stories that could actually become another novel, etc. In fact, I'm working on story as a gift to Mark for our second anniversary next month. Without intending it to, this story wormed its way into this universe quite nicely. So who knows where this could lead? The other big thing I accomplished this summer was to swing back and forth about the amount of research I needed to do before I got back into writing The Masque. Lots of seesawing. A few nights ago, I finally got sick of the waffling and just decided to start writing the draft again. I had put together a better concept of plot and characters over the summer as well, so I did a lot of background work that doesn't feel like writing but is necessary to the writing.

And, as I mentioned above, I am also trying to get back into Human Dignity revisions. Nothing nearly as extensive as what I finished a few months ago, praise Heaven. But enough to make me scratch my head and wonder just what the heck I can do to fix something that I wrote two years ago and looks it. (I'm eager to write a draft in only a few months sometime soon so I can see the novelty of a book that's written in basically all the same style and at the same level. Writing a book over--egad--four years makes for some frightening variability in the reading experience, for the Intrepid Revisor at least. I'm trying to stick a fork in this sucker so I can have even more mental energy for my other projects. HD needs to be only in the "seeking representation and/or publication" mode and that mode only by the end of the year.

But the biggest issue right now is how to be a writer and survive in a 9-5 job that, naturally, takes a big chunk of time away from my writing. And the very nature of my muse and my big breakthroughs in my identity this summer is causing problems here. For example, I'm already trying to juggle writing a draft of The Masque with finishing up HD for good AND playing around with shorter ideas in The Masque's universe. Add to that the joys of two other projects yelling to get attention and things get hairy. Also add to that the perils of breaking down a block in a particular story in the middle of a workday or workweek when I can't spend four hours writing in celebration of breaking said block, and Issues arise. It's all a work in progress, though, and I'm determined not to let months pass in which I don't write, as was the case when I worked at IBM.

And that's the deal with my writing at the moment. I think I managed to get everything in there. Feel free to comment if you want even more gorey details. :)

Scary Thought o' the Day

My brother isn't allowed to tell anyone where he will be headed in Iraq because that can lead to an "electronic trail" that the nasty terrorists can find and plan for a nasty welcoming party. On some level, it's intuitive to keep locations a secret--or it's at least intuitive to do so during a war, but we're not at war anymore, so I'm all sorts of confused. Eventually we'll be able to know where he is in Iraq, but just not until he's there. What scares me is that terrorists are either paying attention to my email, blog, and/or cell phones for juicy morsels of this nature. Or perhaps they have some kind of "google" program for finding such information in those various media. At any rate, this latest tidbit from the military does nothing to make me feel better about where my brother is going to be spending the next 6 months or so of his life. Again.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

ET or not ET?

This is probably old news by now, but the SETI folks in Arecibo keep hearing something peculiar in the night sky. Nobody's getting really excited about it just yet, as the article does an excellent job of explaining. But there were a few chunks of it that made me scratch my head.

[The SETI project] uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through signals picked up by the Arecibo telescope.

I've got this ridiculous image of the Arecibo telescope using the flying toaster screensaver to determine if ET is out there.

The fact that the signal continues to drift after this correction is "fishy", [Paul Horowitz] says. "If [the aliens] are so smart, they'll adjust their signal for their planet's motion."

This probably reveals my own ignorance about radio technology, but why would aliens just transmitting something for the benefit of their own civlization (such as, say, light rock of the Michael Bolton persuasion, or would that be something they'd procast to the detriment of their own civilization? that triggers a story idea...), would they be thinking at all about planetary motion? Do FM stations here on Earth do this? No matter the reality of radio tech, Mr. Horowitz's statement indicates that any signal we hear must be the result of ET trying to communicate with us. That seems to be a very odd assumption. Especially since our very first use of radio technology on this planet was all about communicating with folks not living on this planet, right? Sheesh.

The signal could be an artefact that, for some reason, always appears to be coming from the same point in the sky. The Arecibo telescope has a fixed dish reflector and scans the skies by changing the position of its receiver relative to the dish. When the receiver reaches a certain position, it might just be able to reflect waves from the ground onto the dish and then back to itself, making it seem as if the signal was coming from space.

The possibility that the telescope has a problem that could result in a signal from the ground looking like it came from space strikes me as something that really, really, really needs to be addressed by the SETI people before they go any further. Also, the physics that would allow such a thing are starting to give me a headache. Thus, I must sign off.

Very Busy

Hopefully I'll find a nice routine that allows me to regularly update my blog. But until I get the swing of the new schedule, I'll just have to pop in here and post quickies. This unfortunately means I'll start using the blog as a means to set up a reminder system for me to check on cool links I might stumble upon in the few random minutes I get to surf. Here's a prime example: How To Write Epic Fantasy. I promise that the Adventures of Registering Democrat is coming, as is an update on the fun-filled life of my various writing projects at the moment. Maybe I'll make those posts a Happy First Day of Fall gift to my blog and its devotees. That gives me two weeks of wiggle-room. Nice.

Friday, September 03, 2004


My manager has one of those bouncy balls as her desk chair (like a really big dodge ball with handles, only there are no handles on this one and it's got pretty neon colors swirled around it instead of that icky red stuff). I think I'll like it here.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Surviving So Far

Just a quick update. The first two days at the new job have gone well. Things are in a bit of a state of flux here, so I can't really be sure what life is going to be like at this job. Strike that, because who can be "sure"? But because of the looming changes and a big project that's finishing up, I don't have any clue as to what life will be like here. I'm not even sitting at the desk I'm supposed to be at yet. I'm in a temp cubicle with my monitor sitting on top of three reams of paper so I don't have to slouch to see what I'm doing. Although it just strikes me how far away my monitor is from me right now. I should probably fix that. All that ergonomic stuff.... More news to follow, especially a longer, fun-filled tale of how I registered Democrat a few weeks ago.