Friday, March 30, 2007

Best Friday Ever!

I go home today. Despite the damn snow storm that's predicted for this evening. I was so excited about leaving today that my special treat to myself last night was to pack. I'm not kidding. Now I just have to contain my excitement until 1:30 when I leave to pick up Drew and then head over to the airport. T'ain't gonna be easy.

This week has been very difficult to get through. Early on, I was waiting on pins and needles to find out about the resolution of the matter I blogged about last Friday (see below). Then, I realized just how much more really needs to be done at the DDJ and that I was going to be leaving things dangling and working hard to accomplish them remotely next week. And finally, by yesterday, I was just plain sick of this whole mess and stopped being able to function at times, staring mindlessly at essay after essay on the rise and fall of Battlestar Gallactica.

The good news about this week, though, is that Mark's company got an extension on their project, allowing them the time they needed to optimize the last experiment for the project. And, in a late dose of the serendipity I called for a week ago, they discovered on Wednesday that the reaction they thought wasn't working that triggered them to ask for the extension (which, actually, getting the extension put the entire situation into a much more positive aspect for the company's future)...turns out it actually did work, they just had, basically, an ingredient past its expiration date or from a bad batch that tanked the results. There's still work to be done to make sure they slam dunk this project and leave no doubts to the future of everyone's job security. But things are looking very, very good that we won't have to worry about unemployment next month. Also, the crazy work hours may start to revert to normal, though Mark had to request Saturday off so he could spend it with me and Drew. Still has to work Sunday.

So it seems like our own version of March Madness will pay off quite well for us in the long run (did I mention the DDJ gave me a significant raise this week? and that all of a sudden there's tons of work to bring me back to full-time?). I don't ever want to go through this again, though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Word of the Day is Serendipity

If you've done any sort of study of the history of major scientific breakthrough of the past few centuries, you'll know that most of them have come from serendipity, pure luck, accident, etc. Mark and his insane project-to-save-the-company has hit a snag at the last step, the zero hour. It's the sort of setback that, given a couple of weeks, wouldn't be too big a deal. But they've got less than two days to figure out what the snag is, how to work around it, and how to optimize the step. And if they can't get things working in this very limited timeframe, then the big push will have failed after three weeks of very hard, remarkable work.

Please think happy thoughts. Please pray. Please concentrate on getting the universe to do its trippy science serendipity thing to make things work.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rejected Novel Dedication #1

For _______, who vowed to do everything in her power to keep my books from being published.

Hope you enjoy this, my tenth novel!

Monday, March 19, 2007


By the time yesterday hit, it had sunk in as to just how universally stupid I was to volunteer to do this. Got reinforced today when my family's monumental sacrifice during a difficult time was (unintentionally) belittled so that someone else wouldn't feel bad or be held accountable. Got pounded into my brain when I was handed a MEGA EFFIN HUGE project in addition to all the other junk I have to accomplish in two weeks.

I *heart* the DDJ.

I'm taking a nice long vacation next month.

On the plus side, everyone is really doing what they can to be accommodating of my unique situation. I got to indulge myself at my coworker's wife's spa on Saturday while my coworker and his daughter watched Drew. I now have tastefully painted fingernails and shockingly painted toenails, which is how it should be. Also on the plus side, I found a swimsuit that manages to somewhat flatter my post-Drew figure (most of this is accomplished in hiding the nasty stretch marks on my tummy and hips). It's too bad the hotel pool is too cool for Drew's liking; I only bought the damn thing so I could take him swimming while we were here (you should have heard the screams when his little legs touched the water).

Thankfully technology has improved so that I could find the time to quickly enhance my blog with an RSS feed and a subscription service. That's the new-fangled stuff on the sidebar over there. If you want to spare yourself the time of checking my blog for updates (particularly right now when they certainly won't be daily), you can sign up to get an email every time I post. The internet is way cool.

The posts I will be doing will be quick and fun posts. I think I'm going to start a new series of posts called "Rejected Novel Dedications." Tune in tomorrow for the first (or just wait until your email pings you).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

To Do: Purchase Straightjacket, Commit Self to Nut House

The name's Sane. In Sane.

What was supposed to be a quick three-day trip to the DDJ to take care of my usual monthly face-to-face meetings turned into something a bit more extended. Sixteen days more extended, to be precise. Before you go railing against my DDJ and telling me what I should tell my company, I will note that I actually suggested the extended stay. See above post title.

Seriously, I have been kicking around the concept of a two-week or longer visit since I realized over the past couple of weeks just how unorganized things have gotten with the day-to-day aspects of the project that I am no longer responsible for as I am remote and part-time. Blame can get passed around to a lot of places for this, including to me. I don't think I trained my replacement in the manner she required, nor did I follow up with her and our manager as extensively as was clearly necessary. Of course, that's all hindsight. (And also couched in careful language.)

Then with all of the chaos regarding Mark's job, I kept coming back to this idea, particularly when we thought he would be at home full-time right about now. So when I got to the DDJ this week and actually saw the extent of the difficulties, I knew I wouldn't be able to help get things back on track in just three days. I also knew that if things continued in the same fashion (and it was clear that my efforts would be needed to prevent that) that all of our jobs would get exponentially more painful in the near future, and I would more than likely have to come back for a longer trip then.

Yes. More Careful Language.

So, since Mark is working insane hours anyway at the moment and it's unclear what our situation will be like in April, I ran my crazy "How 'bout I don't come back 'til the end of the month" idea past Mark. He wasn't thrilled, but, seeing as how we had just weighed similar pros and cons when he was asked to go back to work nearly 24/7, he was willing to make the sacrifice as well.

The good news is that I still have all my connections up here from before our move and can call in favors for home-cooked meals and playdates for Drew on the weekends. The Drewbinator will be hanging out with the daycare provider he was with just prior to our move. We're staying in a suite-like hotel, which means I can write this comfortably on a bed while the Boy sleeps in the sitting area (the two areas are separated by 3/4ths of a wall). This is a vast improvement over hanging out in the bathroom as I've had to do in other hotels during previous trips with the Drew Monster.

The bad news is that, of course, Mark won't see his wife or his son for nearly three weeks, and me and Drew will be living out of suitcases and in cobbled together living situations for three weeks. Not exactly ideal. But things will be vastly improved at the DDJ, we'll have some extra money to work with (I'm full-time while I'm up here), Drew will be able to socialize quite a bit more than he gets to at home (as will I!), and Mark won't have to feel as guilty about working so much.

Here's to hoping April will be smoother for us than the past six months have been. I find myself sometimes wandering through the day, wondering if it's 2008 yet.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Promote Your Book on TV...For FREE!

For years, now, only the Big Shots in the publishing industry have been able to use TV time to advertise their books. They're the ones who do the talk-show circuit. They're the ones with the thirty-second ad with impressive background music and famous voice-over guys intoning some logline. You have to be a mega New York Times #1 Bestseller to get this sort of treatment.

Or, you did until this week.

Take a lesson from author and self-proclaimed deity and Asian Supremecist, Kenneth Eng, who dodges the important questions about his recent ass-hatery in order to promote his book.

That's right, you too can get that coveted air time by making raging bigoted comments in a somewhat obscure local paper. You just need to develop a key sense of narcissim and build a thick hide and adjust your auditory awareness (or at least refuse to be bothered by silly questions about your racist screeds in favor of babbling incoherently about your latest book).

I predict Kenneth Eng's next book is going to be a how-to for writers RE self-promotion. Or something else non-fiction about how evolution can be more logical, because that's totally the sort of thing I want to read about from an Out and Proud Bigot.

Update: Nevermind. This wasn't a good example of free publicity. The author in question was flogging a book that was released two years ago, when he has a book that just came out this month. Clearly, there's something else going on. Clearly.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Whale of a Sale!

Holly wanted to change her luck, so she decided to put her writing clinic books (and a fiction book) on sale. This means you can get your mitts on the Create a Character Clinic, or the Create a Language Clinic, or the Create a Culture Clinic, or Hunting for the Corrigan's Blood, or any combination of the four, or ALL FOUR for cheaper than you could last week!

Seriously, gentle readers, the clinics are great. The Language and Culture clinics are excellent for not only helping you create a believable fictional world, but also for keeping your thoughts on that world organized for reference and future use. The Character clinic (which I haven't played around with as much) still struck me as an excellent way to develop character motivations and backstories, something which can be difficult if you have a character who enjoys playing mute.

As for the fiction novel, I haven't read it fully yet, but it starts out with our heroine in close quarters with a corpse! What's not to like?

Go. Buy. Enjoy.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Pardon the Shifting Soil. We're in Transition.

It's rather amazing how things can change in the space of fifteen minutes. As my work day wound down, Mark and Drew arrived home from changing the oil. Mark was on his cell phone, and Drew was covered in vomit. I extricated the boy while I overheard Mark saying things that sounded job offer-ish from his nearly-former job. Mark managed to sign off the call as soon as he could (wonder how many times he'll have to say, "I'll call you back shortly, my son just threw up"?) and start cleaning up the car while I cleaned up El Boyo. After the immediate mess was gone, Mark checked his email (the phone call was to mention that there was an email waiting for him), and Drew did his usual huddle close to Momma cuz I'm sick thing.

Turns out there's a project that got an extension and some funding wiggle room to meet an imminent deadline. If the science works out by the deadline, then the funding flows like wine, and Mark's got himself a job again. If it doesn't work out, then we'll have another few weeks of money from his job and even more glowing recommendations for the job hunt. The downside: the deadline is so imminent and the resources so tight that I pretty much won't see Mark for the next two to three weeks. Which means the Drew Monster is coming with me to Colorado next week. Still, a few temporary inconveniences are nothing if it helps Mark land a job in the long run.

As Mark gets on his cell phone to accept the offer, my work cell phone rings. Come to find out that someone's taking an unexpected vacay and spread the word (to one person, and that person was not me) that I would be picking up the slack for her next week. Um, yeah, OK, because they fly me back once a month so I can do other people's jobs. Makes total sense.

As I got off the phone and Mark went back to a more instense cleaning of the carseat, I looked at Drew, knowing this was his cue to barf again. But he didn't. Instead, he pushed himself off of my lap and picked up a toy to play with half-heartedly.

Sigh. Remember Saturday when I said that I wondered where we'd be by this weekend? Didn't expect to get so much answered by Monday.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stressful Check-in

Who knew that in handling very well the insanity of the lay-off this week that Mark and I would have steam to vent? They should make echo points or neat sound-proofed rooms where you can go for a few minutes and just scream and cuss and bellow invective at the top of your lungs. I think we would have been willing to pay a few bucks for a few minutes of that today.

Mark's last day was actually yesterday. The company arranged to pay for the laid-off employees pay all of next week so they could start the job hunt without having to worry about money for a bit. This is good in that Mark will have a full week of me being here to adjust to the at-home-during-the-day thing. I'll be going back to Colorado for three days the week after.

And, no, I'm not quite able to go back to full-time at the DDJ. There's apparently no other tasks within my department that are suitable for a remote employee. We're begging to other departments now. And, of course, I'm looking for opportunities in the area and have applied to two. I'm a very good match for one and a good match for another. I'm hoping I'll hear back on the first soon.

I've got one story ready to mail out, and should have another one good to go tonight or tomorrow. Early this week, I'll kick them out the door and see what comes from it. By next weekend, I should have another story or two ready for submission, but I don't want to get too much of my stuff out there at once. I might wait to submit anything else until next month. We'll see.

I'm curious to see what the next week brings us. I think, in that sense, I'll be looking forward to the Saturday check-in posts every week.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Happy Accident and an Unfortunate Reality

Last night, I printed out the story I had submitted a couple of times late last year. I thought I had printed the final version I sent out. I ripped into it, merrily cutting and revising per my thoughts on the feedback it received from one editor. As I got to the last line, something buzzed in my brain, asking me where a particular exchange was that I thought I had put into the story. I went through and looked for it, but couldn't find it. I did a mental shrug and assumed it had been in an earlier draft.

Then, today, I was printing out two other stories that I want to revise and kick out the door when I noticed a later draft of the story I worked on yesterday. Opened it up and, sure enough, there was the half-remembered dialog. I quickly read through the draft, making sure there was no other major changes that I needed. There weren't. Looking back at the draft I worked with yesterday and the one I found today, I like the earlier draft better. Much better. In fact, the stuff I added in to that later draft just clunked horribly and raised more questions than it answered.

After one last look through of the story with the revisions I made yesterday, I'll send that sucker out and feel much better about its quality.

While it was nice to have a mistake turn out to be a blessing in disguise, I wasn't so lucky earlier this week with regard to Carson's Learning, that novelette that made me more than a little nuts last year. It's been nine months since I looked at this thing, and boy-oh-boy did the distance do me good.

CL is absolute and utter crap. I'm embarrassed that I sent it out in the state it's in. Don't get me wrong, the nuts and bolts of the words aren't too bad, and the overall story is still there and good. But I've thrown eveything but the kitchen sink at my protagonist in less than 15,000 words, and I have next to no transitions to speak of. Between those two flaws, I have created a protagonist that seems disconnected from everything I shoved at him, heartless in the face of his backstory, and overall rather inconsistent. Also, I have jerked the reader around continuously by having them ask one story question in one scene, only to force them to ask another in the next scene.

Bad, bad, Kellie.

I went back to the basics with this story, getting to the heart of the conflict, looking at turning points, etc. I've got all of the elements of that sort mapped out in a clear way, but now that I'm crystal on who my protagonist is, what he wants, who my antagonist is, and how what that character wants drives the tension, I'm looking at a rough outline that in no way resembles the story as it stands now. In fact, I have an outline of turning points that I simply can't translate into an actual plot at the moment. I keep hoping that my subconcious or my muse will mull over the problem and spit out the answer any midnight now. But nothing yet. If anything, I'm getting more excited about the novel that I want to write with these characters later on in the timeline than I am about revising CL. Sigh.

That's the state of my writing today. Hopefully by the end of next week, I'll have revised all of the other short pieces and identified the markets where I can submit them. Then I'll be ready to get back into Shadow of Zehth, knowing that I've done all I can to bring in money with my writing at the moment.