Monday, November 28, 2005


I'd meant to hop on-line a bit closer to Turkey Day and say something deep and profound about Thanksgiving and what the day meant to me, with thanks for my son's health--despite the early appearance of teeth and my own quirky medical issues--featuring prominently. And this post was going to be just a delayed "no, really, I'm grateful, just busy" post. Then I read Byzantium's Shores sad news, and the words "thankful" and "grateful" no longer seem adequate and on some level even feel inappropriate.

I've been following Little Quinn's saga since his birth, paying extra attention when I found out I was pregnant. I read their triumphs and trials, furiously taking mental notes about grace, patience, and parenthood in general. As I struggled with the complications from Drew's birth, I often found myself thinking how grateful I was that Drew was in perfect health. I mean, as painful, annoying, challenging, and ironic as my medical issues have been, I always found comfort in the fact that my son didn't have to deal with any of it--beyond the multiple trips to the doctor and ER with his momma. The only concern we've had with Drew was his weight gain in the first few days. Maybe it was the percocet edginess, but those few days of waiting to see him start putting on the ounces instead of dropping them were torture. And Drew wasn't in any pain or discomfort then.

I was grateful before. Now I'm doubly so. And Andrew's latest habit of only calming down in my arms is something I've now added to my Thanksgiving list. Because even though it means I have to type this one-handed, it also means I've got an armful of my son, and there's a father, mother, and sister who had such joyful cuddle time taken from them today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hedging Their Bets?

Have you seen the latest TV ads for the movie Zathura? Notice how the review they quote says, "...the greatest family movie so far this year"? The first time I heard that, I thought, "Um, it's November, nearly December. Shouldn't you feel confident that it's the best of the year? And why would the movie's marketing people think a review that says that at Thanksgiving is going to sound good to anyone with two brain cells to rub together?" And then I remembered that Narnia is coming out very soon, and it's more than likely going to blow Zathura and any other family flick out of the water. And I realized that the reviewer was hedging his bets.

Speaking of strange advertising decisions, there's a wine company quoting a review that says their wine looks like $40 and tastes like $20, but costs less than $12. Does it strike anyone else as a positive thing to say that a product tastes only half as good as it looks? Geez, with the crap marketing and advertising I'm seeing lately, maybe it's a really good thing that I'll be doing most of that work on my own for my books if when they get published (unless I become an overnight success, of course).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Good Writing Links

We weren't quite fast enough with the camera for this one. Just a split second before we took the picture, Drew was doing a perfect imitation of Monty Burns's "excellent" hand gesture. So use your imagination and pretend that Drew is saying "excellent" to these excellent writing links.

Tam wrote a great piece about the importance of writing without the safety net. This is something I started doing last summer while I was unemployed. I faced the dangerous ideas and scenes in my head and tried to do it without flinching. It was really, really hard, too. The characters were hungry, manipulative, and a strange breed of passive/agressive that made me twitch on their own, and then there were the things they were telling me they wanted to do to each other. Quite frankly, it was the sort of idea that you really wish you didn't find lurking in your mind because it makes you think twice about your own sanity. And I still pulled some punches. I still turned left toward beige when I should've kept on the dark path and maybe even turned right into further darkness for the true power of the story. And that was only a short story, people. I'm trying this again with Strings of Discord (man, I really can't find a good title for this one), but I have the sense that I'll have to read for beige in the revisions and rip away that safety net. I did a little bit of that last night as I got to thinking about how Airen would react to a situation. Beige was accepting responsiblity and meekly following the path duty and obligation laid out for her. And I couldn't write it. It felt wrong. So I thought about it, and I realized that it would be such a dangerous shade of puce if she denied responsibility and fought duty and obligation tooth and nail until it was absolutely imperative for her own survival to accept what she had rejected and would hurt her the most to listen to duty and obligation.

Tess Gerritsen also had a great post about writing, specifically about how difficult it is to write a sex scene. See above link to Tam's post about safety for further explanation of why this is tough. This is my favorite bit from Tess's post:
Why is it so much easier to write about autopsy rooms or crime scenes (which, let's face it, most novelists have actually never seen) than it is about sex (which, one assumes -- one HOPES -- that most novelists have experienced.)
Heh. It's the same sort of thing. There's saftey in an autopsy and a crime scene, strangely enough. That's detail writing, and the scope of the environment, the human body, is finite. Once you start writing sex, you have to move beyond the details and get into those pesky, infinite emotions. That's where the danger lurks--especially if your characters are troublesome and have hot pink emotions and not the easier beige ones.

I read so many great author and writing blogs that if I tried to link all the great advice and posts I found, that's all this blog would be. But occasionally I don't have much of my own to say, so I let the pros speak for me and add my own piece.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Now It's Funny

I knew one day that I would be able to laugh at all that's happened this year. That I would be grateful and thrilled enough with the results of everything that a chuckle would emerge instead of tears. Yesterday was that day.

My doctor says I'm ready to start getting back to normal activity levels. The wound still isn't completely healed, but we no longer have to pack it with silver. We're just waiting for it to scab over. I can start slowly trying to get rid of this lovely Santa-esque belly flab (just in time for the holidays, the easiest time to lose weight too, eh?). So I was feeling pretty jazzed toward the end of my appointment yesterday. Everything seemed to finally be going OK--with the exception of that liver abnormality, which will get checked out via MRI in ten days or so. The doctor did have one last parting shot, though. He came back into the exam room with my prescription for the MRI happy drugs and said, "In addition to that liver abnormality, they're also going to check out that kidney stone." To which I replied, "Kidney stone?" Turns out I have a kidney stone that no one mentioned because at least one doctor missed it entirely. I started to laugh as I asked, "You mean, on top everything, I'm going to be passing a kidney stone?"

Chances are that, since it's been six weeks since the CT scan that found the stone and I haven't passed it yet, I probably won't pass it. But it's a fun thing to have hanging over my head. At least I no longer have intense abdominal pain from the c-section, which would've made passing a kidney stone that much more enjoyable. I'm really glad no one told me about the stone six weeks ago. It just might've pushed me over the edge--an edge I was already teetering on more than I should have been thanks to percocet. But hearing about the stone now just struck me as hilarious. I chuckled all the way to the theater for my alone time with some popcorn, peanut M&Ms, and the new Harry Potter flick (lotsa fun, that movie, though I suspect Emma Watson was given some strange acting instructions from the director, namely "ham it up").

Friday, November 18, 2005

Yay for Daddy!

Here's Andrew a few days before 6 weeks, celebrating Daddy's good news in his sleep with a full body stretch. And what, exactly is Daddy's good news? His thesis advisory committee told him that he will graduate--no ifs, ands or buts--in August 2006. He'll defend no later than July 14, and they think there is still a (small) chance he could be ready to graduate in May, which would have him defending April 14. So this time next year, we'll be at the next stop in Mark's scientific career, which is hopefully a scientist position at a biotech company in Arizona. And there's a chance that I can go to part-time work as early as mid-April. I'm not banking on that, and I'm only planning around the July 14 date. But man. It feels so good to have a definite timeline to tell ourselves and our family. And let me tell you how happy Grandmommy is to hear that because if Mark gets the job he wants, we'll be with her in Arizona.

Now all Drew has to do is be patient as Daddy slaves away writing his thesis. Poor guy will have not just one but two parents dividing their time between him and a strange glowing box that they move their fingers in front of.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chompers Already?

A couple weeks ago, I noticed a suspicious white spot along Andrew's gumline. A quick check in my handy first-year reference book told me that teeth don't show up until about six months, so then I worried what the heck this white spot that looked a bit like the tip of a molar was. I stopped worrying when another one showed up in the same spot on the other side of his mouth. It's rare, but teeth can start coming in this early. And he has been a bit fussy lately--the inconsolable variety of fussy. He hasn't started putting his teeth on everything, but what we've been interpreting as feeding cues (sucking and nibbling on his fingers) could be more of a teething thing than a hunger thing, and would explain his lack of interest in a bottle when we bring it. And he has started to drool. His two-month check-up is in two weeks. We'll see what the pediatrician says then. I wonder if this means we'll be starting the joys of mushy peas earlier than most.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Just the Two of Us

This is Andrew's favorite position for sleeping and just chillin'. Now that he's a bit stronger, he even likes to push up from my chest or lay there when I'm sitting up more so he can check out the world. I was hoping to avoid posting any pics of me as the postpartum roller coaster has only recently begun to slow down enough so Momma can look somewhat presentable in pictures, but oh well. And looking at all the pictures I've posted, I've realized that we don't have any digital images ready to post where Drew's older than 16 days. He's changed a lot since then. Mainly because he's chunking up so nicely. Baby fat is so cute. We'll have more pictures of him older by the end of the week, weekend at the latest.

Andrew's also likes to emulate his Momma. The little guy sneezes a lot, just like me. He sneezes at least three times a day with at least three sneezes per episode. Granted, this doesn't come close to my legendary high school sneezing fits (ten loud, violent sneezes in a row, usually in the middle of some class discussion that naturally had to stop until I finished; this happened often enough that it ceased to be a novelty by my junior year classes and the rest of the class would simply wait and pick up right where they left off once I stopped), but he's got time.

My dad and stepmother left early this morning, and that was the last of the visits until the spring. While I enjoyed seeing everybody and watching them ooh and aah over the little guy--and it was heavenly to have everyone around to help me out as I stumbled through my recovery--it's nice to get back to our little family. We can start developing some routines, and I can start doing more and more for myself to help speed along the recovery and return to normalcy. So now it's just me and Drew in the daytime.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Buy This Book

By the way, forgot to mention that Tamara Siler Jones's latest book, Threads of Malice, is now out for you to pick up and read. So hop to it!

Listen to the Voice

Motherhood must have addled my brain a bit (some might argue that it's more than a bit, but that's another post). Either that, or the percocet episodes of strange dreams must have made me stop trusting that little voice in my head--my muse. And, really, if the last voice you remember hearing is Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Serenity telling you to get up at 3:30 AM (the one time Andrew wasn't awake that night, no less) and pump breastmilk, would you trust the next voice you heard? (Prescribed narcotics can be rather entertaining, no?)

So when I finished one chapter in Strings of Discord recently, I ignored the voice that was all geared up to write a chapter in Airen's--one of my MCs--POV and went with the logical, anal retentive, scientist in me and decided to write a chapter in one of my villain's--Corla's--POV as that was the proper chapter in the sequence I had established for all of one round of chapters. I had a vague idea for Corla's chapter, but something niggled at me and prevented me from writing it, so I did a bunch of note-transferring and worldbuilding details instead. Stuff that needed to be done, but no actual first draft creation. After a week, I had done enough of the notes and stuff to get me itching to write draft material but was confronted with a chapter it seemed I didn't want to write. Then I finally asked myself, is the Corla's chapter really the one that comes next logically?

Turns out, it wasn't. I figured this out by doing one last little worldbuilding thing: making a scale for my world map. I had the sneaking suspicion that Corla's chapter, a scene set in a desert oasis that reveals some of what they have in store for my other MC, couldn't happen next in line as it would be physically impossible for the villains to get to that desert oasis before the events of Airen's next scene had to occur (waking up after causing elemental havoc in a fayrie grove). I could easily fudge two days of unconciousness for Airen, but not the four or five it would take for the villains to get from the port town of Evarener to the oasis. So, the little voice of my muse was right to get excited about writing an Airen scene as that's the scene that must come next for the logic of the story.

All this would've been clear if I had created a scale for the map way back when I actually drew up the map (over a year ago). But the concept of distance on a fictional world threw me. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that idea. I mean, I had no clue as to how much a horse could conceivably travel in a day, and that was the only real starting point my mind gave me. If I wanted my group to take x number of days getting from point A to B for plot purposes, then that was the one fact I needed to make an appropriate scale. Yesterday I got sick of spinning my wheels on the issue and looked up a fantasy book that I knew had a map with a scale and an easily remembered scene where the length of time traveled is clearly mentioned: Holly Lisle's Talyn. That gave me enough to provide my own scale.

I'm sure there's some standard way to do this or something, but I never found it in my internet hunting, and I never got wise enough to actually, duh, ask somebody. It's a moot point now, anyway, as I have a functioning scale for my map of Velorin. However, I don't think I'll include it on the map that will accompany this book if when it gets published, as I'm not confident enough in the preciseness of the scale for it to hold up to intense reader scrutiny.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Interesting Vocabulary

Amazing how having a kid alters the words you use every day--both words you use in your mind and words you use when talking to others. I don't even want to count the number of times I've said "poop" and "poopy". And the phrase "peed his onesie" gets used much more often than I want--especially because it involves frequent laundry loads. Thankfully, though, "golden shower" has only been uttered twice since Drew's birthday. The word "burp" features prominently, as does "nap". Speaking of, I'm going to try to catch an hour now while the boy is sleeping and then do some writing stuff this afternoon now that I've taken care of the on-line stuff.

But before I go, I had meant to link to some good news of Holly's. She's going to self-pub a workshop booklet thingy on creating characters. She's hoping to get it out in print and e-book format early next year. I'm looking forward to it.

Now, time for the nap.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Random Sampling

Took a break this week while my grandmother was in town. Just did a lot of resting and reading, storing up some "me" time because I know it'll be sparse for a while. Haven't even been on-line since Monday. I should get into more of a regular schedule next week--assuming Andrew doesn't make a habit of staying up from 11:30PM to 3:30AM like he did last night. So, I just have a few random thoughts and links to post today.

It's possible to have enough sleep to perform most essential life functions and still goof on a few big things. Just ask Mark, who took the car to work on Wednesday and by the end of the day forgot he had and took the bus back home. He didn't realize what he had done until we walked out of our apartment Thursday morning for my doctor's appointment and couldn't find the car. The great comedic moment of the whole thing was when he turned to me--the person who hasn't driven the car in over a month, who isn't allowed to drive the car for at least another two weeks--and asked, "Where's the car?"

If one of the two quotes on a book cover mentions a "masterful interplay of subjective views", then chances are you're not in for a good action-packed character-based fantasy, regardless of the content of the author's previous novels. Such a quote would be a good bet for a nice philosophical read, but that's not usually what I'm looking for when I pick up a book, especially one by Jacqueline Carey. I read 300 pages before I realized that I wasn't quite sure what was at stake for the characters in the book beyond having their beliefs questioned by themselves and those of the opposing side. Maybe Banewreaker is just one of those "smart" books and I'm revealing my latent stupidity by not enjoying it or seeing its genius, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish the book. Can't believe I gave it 300 pages as it is. I turned around and read Bio Rescue in a day to scrub the experience from my mind.

Food Network and HGTV are great stations to put the TV on when you're moving around the house and such. No matter what show is on, you can always catch some sort of helpful hint whenever you happen to be in the room. Good background noise.

Newborns have some sort of sixth sense that enables them to know exactly when their parents need a nap the most so they can pick that particular time to begin fussing.

Losing 35 pounds in four weeks is awesome--unless you still have 25 more to go and the 35 you have lost are the easy pounds: baby, placenta, fluid weight, and the kicking in of fat stores for breastfeeding. It's especially less enjoyable if you're not allowed to exercise for an indeterminate amount of time. Compound this with the joys of stretch marks, and you find yourself remembering the body you had a year ago, which was already 10 pounds overweight, and realizing you'll never, ever see it again. But, hey, at least I don't need a wheelchair anymore to travel more than ten feet.

And something entertaining to end with.