Thursday, December 31, 2009

HTRYN: Lesson 1 Accomplished

Because I haven't done too great a job working a consistent writing schedule into my life what with making the DDJ into a career, I decided to sign up for Holly Lisle's "How to Revise Your Novel" course. It's a six-month-long intense look at a finished draft and weekly lessons to take that steaming pile o' crap to the manuscript you wanted and that you can submit for publication without infinite tweaking. I've got three drafts that are truly good stories but are atrocities in their current condition and need significant work to get them out the door. I wanted a structure to accomplish that work and some help in pulling together all the various skills I've acquired and advice I've heard over the past decade of writing.

I just finished Lesson One. Seeing as how this class started Turkey Day weekend and, as I mentioned, the lessons are weekly...well, you can do the math. It was hard but good work (a line-by-line reading of the draft, without changing a damn thing and only noting where everything falls to pieces in several different areas). And I just started in to Lesson Two, which requires yet another line-by-line reading of the draft. I'm very very glad I chose to do this course on the 85-page novellette that I want to turn into a long novella or short novel instead of the 100,000-word novel I finished last year before I started my job. Mind you, I want to fix that novel, but I think I might've abandoned the course with the enormity of that task with this sort of intensity.

Tomorrow is really the last day of my vacation I have to make significant progress on the rest of the course lessons to date. Here's hoping I can complete Lesson Two.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Obligatory 2009 Retrospective

For the half-dozen stubborn souls still regularly reading this blog after a very sparse year, I thank you and look forward to a fresh start in 2010.

As for 2009, I have a nice long list of excuses to take me off the hook for writing so little, for taking poor care of my bod, for going long stretches of time not hanging with my family, and for not giving as much of my skills and talents to my writing group in the position I was in this year. Thing is, all those excuses stem from a choice I made rather unwittingly at first but then continued to make without planning much beyond said choice. That choice? My day job became a career. I'm not very upset about that choice. I love what I do during the work week. It's very satisfying and it keeps the anal-retentive perfectionist control-freak side of my personality extremely busy and happily so.

If I could go back to the beginning of 2009, I would still make this choice, but I would be smarter about it. I wouldn't just assume that my life could fall into place around my career choice without effort on my part. I wouldn't assume that choosing something as a career means the career naturally progresses according to my effort and abilities without reference to the careers and attitudes of others around me. I didn't make these assumptions consciously, but I realized I had made them sometime in the fall and didn't take steps to correct them or work around them. That's what my journey since Thanksgiving has been about.

So for 2010, I will not accept exhaustion at the end of the work day or the weekend as an excuse not to write for at least an hour or not to do something active with the family for at least three hours on the weekend. I know my body's limits and a little fatigue is not going to deter me. No more wuss-fest after a long day and week. I think most of the exhaustion I felt was more mental and focused on my logic-slave side anyway than the parts of me I employ writing and being with Drew and Mark. I can compartmentalize better. My body has been in the habit of not falling asleep until 11PM and waking up at 5AM. Rather than toss and turn in bed for an hour or two every night and doze through the last half-hour before the alarm goes off every morning, I'm going to use those times for writing and exercising, respectively.

All of that being said, however, I did submit a short story twice this year, once to a contest, once to an on-line zine. Got rejected and earned the ability to write-off my writing expenses for tax purposes. I did bring in many amazing speakers to my writing group and contributed to another fabulous year for our little volunteer-run chapter of RWA. I also had three writing retreats this year (the first of which was spent sick and huddled under the covers afer about 2K of crap-tastic words; the second was spent playing solitaire after about 2K of pure schlock; and the third produced 3K of great stuff that launched a project I'm using for a revision course that will keep me on a good schedule for the first half of 2010 and should seque right into fixing THUMB for the second half). While it was mostly stress-induced, I also lost 30 pounds this year and am now a size 8 (there's some residual flab that needs toning, and I'd like to maintain this weight without the negativity of severe stress). And we did spend a good deal of time together as a family, also getting Drew in the habit of brushing his teeth every day and practicing writing his letters regularly. And the career is coming along quite well.

So 2009 wasn't a bust though it kind of feels like it. Mostly because I know I can do better.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The One Who Birthed the Reason for the Season

Had my Christmas songs on shuffle as I drove home from a half-day of work, getting in the mood for tonight and tomorrow, looking forward to taking off from work until Jan 4, and one of my top five Christmas songs came on. I decided to link to it on the blog as a way to get back into this swing of this here online journal. But I was utterly disappointed with the versions of the song I could find on-line.

Back in 1996, I attended the Notre Dame Glee Club's Christmas concert and was absolutely amazed breathless by their rendition of Franz Biebl's Ave Maria. Unfortunately, the versions now available by the NDGC, while pretty, lack all of the punch that the 1996 crew managed. In fact, the song sounds almost like a dirge in the current production. I'm not sure if the director changed or what, but in 1996, the song built to a powerful crescendo that brought tears to my eyes and made me want to thank every single man on that stage for giving me one of those musical experiences that I carry with me and treasure. (This is the version, much to my delight, immortalized on the CD I bought while a student but no longer available for ya'll to enjoy.)

Instead, I shall share another of my top five Christmas songs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I've set up a Facebook account and can see how quickly it can such away free time. Maybe I need to set up a Twitter account so I can tweet an SOS to save me from all this social networking.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Which Nothing is Said of My Shoddy 2009 Posting Record

I finished Kate Elliott's Traitors' Gate last night. Stayed up late to do it, despite the fact that I was losing the fight against the latest upper respiratory bug, had cared for a sick kid and a sick husband over the long weekend instead of writing or resting much myself, and have very insistent writing projects sick of waiting patiently for my attention (which explains why they think my paltry attempts to resume their halted progres is HORRID and UNWORTHY and WHAT WORTHLESS CRAP HAS CONSUMED THAT ATTENTION SO AS TO RESULT IN SUCH A TRAGIC DISPLAY YOU'D THINK ALL THIS TIME OFF WOULD RESULT IN GOLD PURE GOLD UPON YOUR RETURN).

Worth it.

Part of me wants to devote a very thinky post to reviewing this book and the whole trilogy because there's a lot of good stuff to crunch in there. The other part must bow down to the insistent voices of my own writing projects and stop finding ways to give too much of myself to things other than them. So I'll compromise and give a brief, scattered recall of what I liked about this book and the series in a quick post. One of these days I'll get good at rewarding myself with such fun posts if I've made certain amounts of progress in my writing. Best I focus on getting back on the writing horse at all for the moment.

Where was I? Ah, Traitor's Gate.

First, stayed up past my bed time because of the particular binds and conflicts Elliott forced upon her characters. She found a satisfying ending despite elements of it being rather sad and open-ended. As a writer, I think I would have frozen halfway through the truly sticky ordeals I was creating and started revising in order to get to the Shiny Happy Ending. So I kept reading, sensing that the ending wasn't going to be bliss, but trusting that I was still going to appreciate where it got me after the journey of those three books. I took some mental notes on that score, but I think it might be a while before I feel confident enough to pull off a similar feat.

Also on the writing score, even though I knew what one particular character had done and could see the trend of where he was going to land, I still read with anticipation how each of the characters who interacted with him came to discover the actions and arc and what they would do about it and how it would impact their own arc. Furthermore, deftly weaving politics and morality and gender and sexuality into the voices of many characters and not coming off preachy in any way? Awesome. Hell, even the occasional asyouknowbobbing in the dialog was helpful rather than aggravating because it actually quickly and concisely and in a character's voice gave me information from the past two doorstops of books that was more than a little fuzzy in my memory.

At some point during the commute home, I requested my brain provide something coherent and thought-provoking to offer as a deeper reader response than *fangirl squee*. The brain actually came up with something.

The heroes in this story continually questioned themselves and their understanding of the world. They weren't afraid to see their flaws and try to change or at least try to do their best despite them. They doubted but kept trying their best, particularly to let others have power to choose for themselves their own paths. The villains rarely questioned themselves, and if they did, the questions immobilized them, or the questions were rigged to provide a false answer or the one they wanted. They never wanted others to have power that they could not control or overtake, particularly when it came to how other folk should live their lives. And that's why, despite an ending in which an antagonist endures fairly triumphant (hopefully vague enough not to be a spoiler), the protagonists actually have a triumph of their own, because they are still able and willing to question themselves and the world around them, and to try their best to restore power to those who have none.

And that's my deep thought for the day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This is Why I Love Writing

If stuff like this got taught as part of the satire and parody spiel in high school english, more people would think reading and writing is cool. My fave is from the Stormtrooper Commander, mostly because it's pitch-perfect for standard corporate speak in which one must point out flaws yet work toward a solution while barely restraining the desire to descend into a long string of "OMG! WTF? SRSLY?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bowling Fiend

Drew is quite the Wii bowler. He beat me yesterday by scoring 160. He even bowled four strikes in a row that game. I am not quite sure how his seemingly random swinging at the screen translates into such bowling prowess, but whatever he's doing clearly works for him.

As for the other Wii sports and games, he's developing an affinity for boxing and enjoys the golf target practice. He likes the concept of tennis and baseball but gets easily frustrated because those games require a bit more coordination of the timing and angle of the swinging motion. On the Wii Fit Board, his weight is mostly too negligible to allow for much fun and success with those games, but he does have a blast failing on the ski jump and turning his Mii into a snowball.

There are a lot of games he likes to watch, like the cow racing game on Play and the tightrope on Fit. He also gets a big kick out of Link hacking through grass on Zelda. I hope he'll develop an interest in watching Momma do yoga poses and more of the aerobics games. I've managed to lose a lot of weight this year, but I'm still struggling to get rid of the flab that dribbles over my c-section scar. I refuse to admit defeat to it!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Sequel that Improves the Initial Movie

Mark and I finally got around to watching Quantum of Solace this weekend. DirecTV had a two-fer special bundling that with Casino Royale for a good price, so we went that route and reminded ourselves what the Bond Reboot was up to and why.

I'm so happy we did.

Having watched these two movies within a few hours of each other, I'm very impressed with the overall storyline and character arc. I don't think either movie stands too well on their own compared to how they work together. I've never seen that happen so effectively in serial movies or duologies or trilogies. And it's a bit of a risk that the creators took in splitting that story up as they did. Granted, it's a bigger risk to have tried to bundle CR and QoS into one 4.25-hour-long film, and I don't think there's much I'd recommend cutting out of either movie to get that number down to something more manageable. But I don't think I'll ever be able to watch either CR or QoS on their own and be satisfied with the experience.

That being said, I think the Bond Reboot is effectively established at the end of QoS and that now the franchise can get on with more standalone stories that should offer more depth than the previously established idiom could allow.

Yay, Bond. You've finally found your way out of the Cold War without resorting to cartoonish scenarios and caricatures.

Monday, May 04, 2009


The Monster has been melting down over very tiny things very often lately. Usually the punk does this just at the beginning of half-hour-long car rides in which Momma and Daddy don't have much in the way of recourse for his whines. We do our best with ignoring him and taking away privileges at our destination if possible, but it's really not as effective as taking him physically away from the situation to give him a time out. And it's harder on the parental sanity.

Other than the fact that the kid is 3 and ripe for this sort of behavior (and probably learning all sorts of similar tactics from his pals in daycare), I think Drew's reached an age where he's smart enough to know we can't be consistent 100% of the time, has probably caught us a time or two caving to his demands to get bad behavior to stop, and is now trying to figure out just how often he can make that payout. He's learning it's not often. We're on to the little bugger.

Still, it's been a rough couple of weeks as he tests us and we hold as firm a line as possible. Hopefully we're nearing the end of the worst phase of this childhood pleasure.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

On Being Sick During a Hyped Outbreak

I'm recovering from an upper respiratory bug that started like the myriad others I've endured since Drew went back to daycare in September. The only difference is that this one sunk its fangs hard into me after three days and sent me to bed for the next three. The number of times I've heard folks ask me if it's swine flu have not been amusing. I work in a medical clinic, so most of the swine flu lines have been jokes. If I worked in a less-informed environment, I'm sure I'd be very annoyed by now.

If anything, this URI might have morphed into something like bronchitis or a sinus infection. But I definitely don't have swine flu. No vomiting, no diarrhea, and my temperture only broke 100 for about an hour, maybe two. Otherwise, it's been an annoying low-grade in the 99s.

So, please. Just keep washing your hands, pushing fluids, guzzling OJ, and doing all the normal stuff you'd do during the height of cold and flu season. Don't flinch over every cough and sniffle.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Afternoon with the Planet

Saw Earth today and loved it. Drew was transfixed through the first third of it then got a little antsy as the pretty pictures didn't enrapture him quite as much as they did Momma and Daddy. He enjoyed the whales the most. Momma teared up for a few of the beautiful shots they put together.

We certainly do live in a pretty special place.

Then my writer brain kicked in and tried to figure out just how in the world someone tried to piece together any sort of narrative to this kind of documentary. They advertised a "join three families" storyline that they kind of stuck to, and there were certainly good vignettes to go with the images captured. But as a storyframe to hang nearly 100 minutes on? Just wasn't up to the task. Given the immense scope of taking a concept such as the Planet Earth series and trying to distill that into a feature film, they certainly did a great job finding any sort of coherent structure. I found myself challenged by the idea of what could make it better and getting lost once again in the wonder of this ball of dirt we call home.

If you've got the $10, I highly recommend catching this in the theater to see the amazing footage they captured and the neat photography tricks they used to show the progression of seasons on a large (yes, even global) scale.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Drew! The Musical

Drew had flirted with singing within the first month or so at daycare. He was shy about it, though, and uncertain of the words and tunes. He favored "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and gave us a few tentative concerts on the way to or from home each day.

Then Christmas time came with its bounty of catchy carols, and Drew no longer felt any hesitation in the singing department. And how could a child hold anything back when "Jingle Bells" is there for the belting?

Ever since then Daddy and I have enjoyed many a morning or evening serenade. Heck, the Drew Monster has even been known to break out into song in public lately. He still prefers "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" but he's having fun with his ABCs and about five seconds of the theme song for Dora the Explorer. Daddy and I are simply grateful the "Wheels on the Bus" and "Old MacDonald" phases seem to have passed.

Let the grooming for American Idol begin.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Emerging from the Work Daze

Since about the middle of February, the day job has been running my life. One of my team members resigned and all of our studies had extremely urgent deadlines for a big conference next month. This past week marked the last of my current load of studies screaming at me with a red-hot deadline. The upside of all of this is that pretty much all of my studies are squeaky clean and caught up in all aspects.

The downside is that, for the past two months, the day job has been all-consuming and kicked me into career mode. Now that the insanity has passed, I'm having to work to remember how I had my life structured and ordered to address the day job, the family, the writing group, and the writing. Figuring out the juggling act for the first three hasn't been too hard, mostly because they have daily necessities that I can't just set aside after too long short-changing them. The writing, however...

To be honest, I've been kicking writing to the curb since December and maybe even November. At first it was because of family issues that needed a good deal of time and attention. Then it morphed into my desire to treat the day job like a career equal to or, at times, even above writing. I didn't make a conscious decision to do so, I just started with little thoughts and gestures here and there and, by the end of January, I had begun considering this job in terms of how to advance my company and myself over the next ten years. Then the recent madness hit and there was no time for thoughts outside of getting through each day, each week with most of my sanity intact and without entirely ignoring my husband and child or the requirements of my position in my writing group.

As the week wrapped up, and I found myself able to pick and choose which of the handful of non-urgent work tasks I could do, I started reminding myself that the day job is not the only career I want, that I have something else in mind for the rest of my life. So I dutifully mapped out what writing projects I wanted to dive back into and what outstanding issues they each had. As I read through a couple of short story drafts I want to shape up and submit and scanned through the novella-to-novel revision I haven't really touched since December, I ran into a new dilemma.

I've forgotten why I love each of these ideas.

Well, not in general. And not in any dangerous way that has me questioning if I really do want to pursue writing as a career. But in the specifics that made it not only fun but worthwhile to put the butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard and face the inner critic's utter disdain for the prose that needs to be fixed. So I've been doing a decent amount of journaling and thinking and listening to story-inspired playlists to recapture the sense of joy I held for each of these projects even in the depths of the oh-so-pleasant bouts of "I SUCK I'LL NEVER PUBLISH OHMIGOD HOW COULD I EVER CONSIDER MYSELF A WRITER THIS IS VILE VILE VILE".

I'm hoping that one more night of a concerted effort to recapture the love will kickstart me into the regular writing schedule I really need to re-establish. I've got a lot of itchiness to be writing these stories, particularly the novella revision, so I'm not worried that there'll be nothing to resurrect. I just need to find the right access point, I think. Revising short stories wasn't it as all that idea netted me was depression over how far I have yet to go before I'm ready to break into publishing. (Silver lining time: I've figured out that about a third of the way into any project, I shift from character-driven stories to plot-driven mad dashes to the finish. And I'm finding that it's remarkably hard to reshift a plot-driven draft into a character-driven finished product. This is the silver lining because it's a problem defined. I can deal with well-defined problems.)

I think part of getting back into the regular swing of writing will also translate into regular blog posts. I know, I've said this many times before. It feels right to say it again, though. We'll see what comes of it.

Monday, March 23, 2009


My grandmother, great aunts, great uncles, uncle, and assorted cousins buried my great grandmother today.*

Millie Arel was 97 and is survived by countless children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild. Her health and outlook had been declining for several years since she had to move out of her own apartment and into hospice care, and she always thought she had been far too long a widow and wondered when God would decide she could go join all those who had already left her. So this ending was peaceful and a welcome release for a remarkable woman.

There's so much more I'd love to say about my great grandmother--memories of trips to Grand Forks, pictures of four and five generations of her family--but I'm actually a little bit numb right now. No matter how expected such a moment is, no matter how much I know it's what she wanted, no matter how peaceful her friends and family are at her passing, I still struggle with the knowledge that Drew will only know this woman from pictures as he met her when he was only six months old. I can't help but be sad for that loss.

Let's hope I get better at posting so as not to develop a trend of updating the blog to report a loved one's death.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Adenosine "Addy" Triphosphate

On Wednesday, we said good-bye to Addy. She had been a part of our family for eight and a half years.

As the runt of a litter, Addy always had a wonky health problem to deal with. Nothing major but usually nothing easily diagnosed or treated. About two years ago, she started having some problems with her kidneys, but with the right diet and a few living adjustments, she seemed to adapt and keep up her usual activities and attitude.

Last weekend, I noticed that she felt ridiculously light when I picked her up, and she seemed lethargic and just generally out of sorts. We kept an eye on her with a mind toward gathering info before calling the vet. Then Wednesday morning she couldn't move her back legs and didn't seem to want to move much at any rate.

The vet told us we wouldn't be able to restore her health, that the best we could do was try to manage Addy's pain and stay perhaps one step ahead of her acute renal failure. That would involve a lot of procedures and therapies for a cat already too frail to even hold her head up. It really wasn't much of a choice.

I've got a lot of great memories of this cat, a wonderful companion I picked up from the Longmont Humane Society when she was only a few weeks old not too long after I had started grad school. She didn't care for Mark when he moved in a few months later, and only deigned to sit on him whenever she needed to fart. When Drew came along, she learned that the best way to get our undivided attention and demand petting was when we were stuck on the toilet. And as her health declined the past year or so, she still had to sleep snuggled up in the crook of my arm every night. She loved helping me with my work and writing and could often be found on a pile of papers on the desk next to me or sitting sentinel beside the laptop, watching a novel take shape.

She also enjoyed sneaking into closets and curling up in a dark corner on a pile of old shirts or pants. Of course, by the time she'd had her fill of the seclusion, we'd be elsewhere in the house or away at work, and she'd be stuck in the closet. Many times since Wednesday, I've found myself automatically sliding the closet door shut behind me whenever I step in to get dressed to prevent her from secreting away inside. That's when her loss hits me the hardest, when I'm aware of the ways we adjusted our habits and patterns around her quirks, and now those adjustments are not necessary.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Worst Parent Ever*

How can I call myself a good parent when it took me three and a half years to introduce Drew to the concept of a bubble bath? It's not that I had any health or educational or other parental excuse for not giving the kid his bubbles. It's that it never even crossed my mind. I must hang my head in shame.

The bubble bath is, of course, a huge hit. He stayed in that tub for a good half hour, doing the usual moving bubbles, hording bubbles, and painting himself with bubbles that is standard for bubble baths. But he added something to the repertoire that never ceased to make me giggle. He kept trying to sit on his bubbles and would spring back up out of the tub, squealing with glee that he had gotten bubbles on his butt.

*OK, so it's not one of the promised posts from way back at the beginning of the month. At least I posted something, though.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Blog To Do List

Things I honestly want to blog about and intend to do so soon, no foolin', like any minute now...or maybe, hopefully, one post before next Monday rolls around.

  • Drew! The Musical

  • Adventures in Drew's Wardrobe

  • When the DDJ Starts Feeling Like a Career...and a Good One at That

  • RaceFail 2009 (aka the Cultural Appropriation Debate That Ate the Internet)

  • Realizing a Horrible White Privilege Mistake 15 Years Too Late (related to the above)

  • The Insanity of Kellie: 2009 Edition (Two Contests, Overtime, Last Minute Short Story Sub, and Writing Group Madness)

  • I'm Glad Battlestar Galactica Still Works for Some

I think that's everything that's been nattering around in my skull of late. Well, there's probably more Drew stuff to share, I'm sure. Stay tuned to this space for one, some, or all of these stories!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stargate: Universe Off to Good Start

I'd like to say I called it, but that always sounds so silly when you only mention this after the formal announcement. But, dude, my Spidey Sense did tingle every so slightly yesterday when Scalzi mentioned he was in Vancouver and a commenter noted that Mallozzi of Stargate fame had indicated Scalzi was there at Mallozzi's invite. I remember a half-formed thought to the effect of "I wonder if this has to do with Stargate: Universe?" And, indeed, Scalzi has announced he will be a Creative Consultant for the show.

As others have noted, this is the best news I've heard about this show yet. It improves the chances of my liking this show considerably and being willing to watch it regularly even through the usual new show jitters. That's saying something after Stargate: Atlantis seemed to go out with a fizzle and no clear direction for the supposedly green-lit movies. It'll be interesting to watch for his influence if nothing else.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Reality of Office Politics

(This is yet another interpretation of Murphy's Law. I think scientists need to seriously start considering Murphy's Law as the Grand Unified Theory of Everything in Nature.)

In any given office setting, no matter how well you perform your job, there will always be someone who sees only your mistakes. Events and timelines will conspire to ensure that your superiors are present when this coworker decides to draw attention to your mistakes. The situation will also be such that your defense would either seem silly in the context (as it would sound defensive and defeat the purpose) or would take up too much time and, well, see the first part of this paragraph.

Usually I can shake this off: I'm good at my job and the folks that need to know it, know it, and they know it well. I'm not perfect and welcome the opportunity to see where I can improve my performance. Also, some people will just never like you.

When I encountered this reality last week, I did shrug it away. But when it showed up again this week early in the morning before the caffiene had kicked in to shore me up after a terrible night's sleep...I let it get to me. Just enough to make me vent to Mark on the drive home.

I have a feeling I'll be over it tomorrow. Futile office politics just aren't worth the mental energy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Drew's Comfort Food

Tonight's been rough for the Drew Monster. First he kept waking up because his nose is too plugged up to let him breathe right. Then he had to sleepily suffer through Momma trying to unplug said nose. Finally, a nightmare spooked him fully awake and he just couldn't manage to go back to bed without some parental assistance.

We tried cradling him between the two of us in our bed, but he didn't seem to want that and opted to sleep on top of me. That option didn't fare much better and he landed next to me on the edge of the bed. Finally he decided he need to get up and get some Cheerios and pretend the day was starting.

Momma humored him for about twenty minutes (long enough to watch a view Pixar shorts), and then he insisted we try our bed again. A few minutes of shifting and he wanted back in his room. Off Momma and Drewbie went. He got himself situated in bed, curled around his bowl of Cheerios. Then he instructed me to turn on his music and the awesome moon night light Mark's parents got him for Christmas, and requested I spoon with him for a while. Little guy even fed me a Cheerio to make sure I was in on his comforting regime.

A few minutes of that and he turned his head to me and said, "Thank you." I kissed him on the cheek and gratefully accepted my marching orders--only to remember I had forgotten some computer work that needed to get done tonight. But, hey, at least I got a chance to post the memory for everyone to share.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Undermining the Genre

I've often bemoaned Battlestar Galactica's modern-to-us medicine in the midst of far-advanced science and technology clearly evident week after week. Seems a bit ridiculous and a bit of a conceit that works against the underpinnings of the genre itself. Almost as if the show wanted to create something science fictional but grabbed at the obvious trappings instead of building a world from the ground up.

I encountered the same thing in a most unexpected source yesterday: a YellowBook commercial. We see a futuristic setting in which a woman is discovering (through an embarrasing video phonecall) that her man is cheating on her. She disconnects and starts doing a neat physically interactive search through the YellowBook to find a pawn shop. She brings in a very tricked out futuristic guitar (clearly her ex's) to the pawn shop to get her revenge and walks away with a huge smile on her face and...a stack of dollar bills? In one sense, I get that it's clearly short hand to show us that YellowBook can find what you need for both financial gains and emotional satisfaction. But it just took the wind out of their futuristic setting's sails.

I have the same problem with romance novels that, in the denouement or the big climax when the hero and heroine finally reveal to each other their love, the hero goes all possessive of the heroine and says, "Mine." It comes off as undermining the entire concept of what romance is (to me): loving another person as a person, not as a possession or object. But, given that "Mine" is often something romance heroes say of their lady loves, I think I might be in the minority of women in my interpretation of the genre (or, in my interpretation of what love is).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Backstory Like Shifting Sands

We've been watching Sanctuary, and, as with all new shows, we're still not sure about it but keep tuning in to see if this episode will be the one to win us over or scratch it off our DVR's To Do list. Now that its first season is done, I've figured out my biggest problem with this show: the backstory seems remarkably fluid.

With every revelation of how abnormals work or how Magnus came to be where she is today or what the Cabal is or how the Five interacted, it seems as if the details don't quite mesh together or have shifted to meet the needs of the current story rather than evolved from what we already knew of the characters and the world. In short: it feels like they're making it up as they go.

For example, first we learn about the Five, a group Magnus was part of that studied abnormals and injected themselves with pure vampire blood in order to make themselves abnormal, to varying degrees of success. OK, fine, neat concept. I can work with this. Then halfway through the season (maybe more?), suddenly we meet Magnus's father, and he's also turned himself abnormal (I think) and HE was the one who got Magnus interested in abnormals, and HE was a huge guiding, mentoring, interactive part of the Five. That felt a bit like a left turn.

Another example: a couple of episodes in, we meet the Cabal, some darkly secret group who wants to exploit abnormals for their own ends and will mow over anyone who gets in their way. This organization seems an unknown to Magnus, as if she's just hearing about it, but as the rest of the season unfolded, the entire cast (including the Five) seems to have some basic working knowledge and understanding of the Cabal as if they've been known enemies for decades at the least. Another left turn.

It makes this viewer frustrated because I never know which detail they give me will actually remain true to the context and manner in which it is given. So one week I might get excited about a hint they've given me, only to be disappointed the very next week when they twist that hint into something almost entirely unexpected.

Yet I'll be tuning in for the next season at the start. Mostly because the Five seems to bring out the best in the writing and acting (which is why I'm thoroughly bummed they killed off Watson; watching him interact with everyone--except Will; man do they need to do something with that character--was pure joy). And, if nothing else, this show is teaching me the flaws in revealing worldbuilding and backstory that I can avoid in my own writing. I'd prefer to be learning how to do something right, of course, but I'll take my education where I can get it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

#1 Rule for Reading Romance

Always be prepared for any interruption during the sensual scenes.

If you are reading your book in a public place, one such scene will arrive just as someone sits down next to you or tries to engage you in conversation about the book you're reading. If you are reading at home while family is around, one such scene will be in progress when your child crawls into your lap or your significant other decides to chat you up. If you are building towards one such scene in your reading and have to set the book aside for a responsibility, you will never be able to get back to the book as quickly as you would like, sometimes even to the extreme of losing the book, leaving it behind at home when you go on a trip, and so on.

This rule is inviolable.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Geek Status Revoked

A few weeks ago, a friend got me to try out World of Warcraft. As far as the game content itself goes, I loved it. Character creation. Quests. Killing monsters. Running around a fantasy world. Everything I love about RPGs. The online element was fun when it was just me and my friend tag-teaming the beasties and chatting with each other. Then random people wanted to jump in with us and things got decidedly less fun. So I let my trial period run out and didn't sign up for the full package.

When you don't like the MMO portion of an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those non-geeks following along at home), do you even get to qualify as a geek? It's not like my geek status was much beyond the Level 14 night elf I abandoned at any rate (my status among the geeks, that is; to the non-geeks, I'm already hopelessly mired in the culture just for having played the game), but I swear I could feel the experience points getting sucked out of me the moment I made my choice not to sign up for the reasons I did. I got a few back when I bought Final Fantasy XII to satisfy my RPG urge, but somehow I don't think it's enough to keep this Geek Membership badge.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Commuter Truth #14

When a firetruck with sirens blaring weaves its way through a half-mile of traffic behind you and continues on through highway congestion already moving slower than usual, it's time to bail to the surface streets.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2008: The Blog in Review

Wow, so a grand total of 24 posts from September through to the end of 2008. Made putting together a Best Of list easier, I guess. (Except that I'm still a couple of days behind the curve there as well. Sigh.) I think I've turned a corner in juggling family, full-time work, writing, and RWA responsibilities so blogging might actually make something of a comeback this month.

But, in case you've been pining away for quality blogging in this space, here's a list of Oldies but Goodies from 2008 to satisfy you.

Previously on Me, My Muse & I (being an explanation of the recent silence for those who are just tuning in or have not bothered with the reruns)
Welcome to the Nuthouse

Tales of the Drew Monster
The Drewbie's New Clothes
Mister Independent (Mostly)
The Night Watch
Adventures in Commuting

Reading, Writing & Ruminating
Process Exampination for Dummies
Tools of the Trade
The Things We Do for (Genre) Lore
Satire Safari
So Can Mary Sue Transcend Too?
I Have a Plan. Honest.

I doubt I'll ever get into the swing of daily blogging in 2009, but I do hope to avoid posting only a handful of times in any given month. I'd like to manage two to three posts a week to keep the faithul regular readers updated on Drew's latest antics, on my writing progress, and on the various and sundry insanities and amusements that crop up. Consider it a New Year's resolution.