Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Auld Lang Syne


So . . . two full days left in 2009. Not much, eh? I reckon that brings us around to talking about what we did or didn’t accomplish for the year. I can’t for sure say I’m excited about tackling 2010. You know, there’s that whole 2012 issue, if you believe that. Closing out aught nine brings you that much closer to twelve. I didn’t go see that movie by the way. I don’t really like end-of-the-world chaos. I might have skippedKnowing if I had known that’s what that movie was about. Also, The Day After Tomorrow. End of the world is no fun.
Funny memory: When I was wee child, mom was taking down calenders at the end of the year. It was 88 or 89, I forget. She said something about throwing them away. I said, well why can’t you just use them next 1989? Clearly, I didn’t have a very good grasp of time. I suppose as a child, you don’t realize how fast time slips by.
All right, enough putting off what I did (and didn’t) accomplish. 
List of things accomplished:
1) I got a tattoo, of which I am quite proud and the story is semi-humorous. I wish it was spring or summer so I could proudly display the tattoo. I wish I had a decent photo of it. It’s a four-leaf clover. I hid it from my mom for over six months because my parents disapproved of tattoos. My husband constantly reminded me I am an adult. 
2) I wrote a book. About Australia. A place I’ve never been to. Hey, people are people, you just have to fix the setting a bit. Not that it wasn’t a challenge.
3) I started and finished NaNoWriMo. Fifty thousand words in thirty days. It was easy, but *cough, cough*, the end result kind of (what word to use?) sucks. Oh, well, I did it. Building up to the whole thing was a lot worse than actually doing it.
4) I have been married for four years. I heard three is the new 20. That makes us married for about 27 years if you figure each year is roughly seven years. Kind of like a dog.
5) I’ve held down this job for four years, give or take. You have to discount that little bit of madness where I quit because I thought working for a bank would be better. Turns out I can’t handle other people’s money because when they spend it all, they yell at me like it’s my fault. I just check the balances, dude, I don’t actually spend your money. Sorry (oh, wait, you’re never supposed to apologize. Fine, I’m not sorry you spent all your money, but I am sorry you blamed me).
6) I got second place in the Missouri Literary Festival Award for Short Fiction. I will get first next time. As soon as I write some more brilliant short fiction. And they hold another contest. Apparently this is not an annual thing.
7) I’m still breathing. I read a sign on a church board that said miracles happen every day. True. I figure you wake up breathing, you’re doing pretty good.
Hey, I started this blog and I’m having fun with it. Woohoo.
Unaccomplishments:
1) Um, I got kind of fat. I don’t exercise near enough and I think my metabolism forgot to metabolise things. Plus, food tastes good. Darn you food!
2) I’ve gotten into the bad habit of sleeping in and not getting to work on time. Ooops. I keep telling myself all I have to do is put on clothes and warm up the car. Who cares if your hair isn’t brushed and you have no make up on? No one sees me anyway except the people I’ve worked with for four years. I’m not trying to impress them.
3) I still procrastinate. Bad.
4) While writing the novel mention in accomplishment #2, I ignored my husband and my dogs. I spent a lot of time inside my own head.
5) I still don’t see my mom enough.
6) I have never gotten around to bleaching my socks. Bugger.
Speaking of the unaccomplishment #2, my hair is driving me insane. I always bob it in the winter. Ever since 2006, which I realize isn’t always, but still. This year I haven’t bobbed it and now it’s touching my neck and getting under the neck of my coat and standing up in funny positions sometimes. My bangs are clear down to my nose now, which I had been keeping short and sort of side swept. I haven’t had a hair cut since October, but I thought I would let it grow out. It’s starting to get annoying. I don’t mind it (at least I don’t remember minding it) being long in the spring and summer, but in the winter I hate it. I really hate when the ends touch the back of my neck. It’s like creepy little fingers or something. I’m thinking about getting it trimmed, but I’m thinking about letting it grow. I just know it’s a pain in the rear to do anything with. My bangs aren’t long enough to secure without them looking stupid if I want the rest of it in a ponytail. Some days I want to get Britney Spears crazy and shave it off. I try to tell myself that some people would love to have hair, that I should feel fortunate for having it. I hate it anyway. Does this hatred spawn from always wearing it long when I was a kid? I don’t know.
Also, I would like to mention how popular this blog has become thanks to the post about the bubble coat. When I go to sitemeter to check my page stats, nearly every search engine that turns up on there is a result of someone searching for bubble coats. Even some hits from way across the world like Czech and Sweden or something because people want to know more about bubble coats. I hope my opinion of bubble coats helped you make a wise decision regarding the purchase of such a coat. I still sort of hate mine, but it’s growing on me a little. I just wish the zipper wasn’t always in my face.
Oh, and I haven’t worked on C&C v.2 in . . . two weeks? I sort of was working on something else that I’ve been playing with since I was a kid. Another story that is so unlike anything I’ve ever written. It’s a (yes, these words are pouring from my keyboard. Fine! I’m a nerd, sue me!) fantasy. Hey, I like R. A. Salvatore’s dark elf books. I can’t help it. He’s really a very sympathetic character. But I was working on this long before I ever read anything about dark elves. Before I watched Lord of the Rings. I just barely finished reading the whole series before the movies came out. I find Tolkien a little dry and I remember seeing the cartoon as a child and it gave me nightmares. Anyway, I haven’t gotten very far, but I’ve enjoyed it because it’s different from what I was doing. Got to stay flexible and all that. But I don’t think it’s a full length novel. I never intended for it to be much of anything. So far it isn’t. It comes and goes, but it’s plagued for years.
Whatever becomes of it and anything else for that matter, make sure you accomplish something sometime because there’s never going to be another 2009 (much to my dismay about 88 or 89). You can use 2010 to make up for the things you didn’t get done in 09. Pffft, like I’m really going to exercise. Let’s be realistic.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Giving into Hype


I hate hype. I’m not a natural-born leader (were that I was), but I’m not a follower, either. I have my own drum, if you will. So for me to give in to hype right away instead of resisting until I can no longer hold on or ignore it altogether is strange. For once I was glad I caved. I had to talk my husband into going to see Avatar. I thought it was trumped up Fern Gulley: The Last Rainforest. It wasn’t. I was surprised by the emotional depth of the movie. It was impossible not to feel the amazingness (yeah that’s so not a word) of it all. If you know anything about Native American history, you start to think, oh, crap I know how this ends. Can I do spoilers? Please? Oh, please let me! Wait, this is my blog, I’m doing it. You can skip the next couple of paragraphs if you want. Eh, it’s really sort of a spoiler/history lesson. Your choice.
At one point Jake goes to the tree of souls to talk to it about what’s going to happen if the tree and everything it’s connected to doesn’t help the People. Neytiri tells him the “tree” doesn’t take sides and telling it about the bad wasn’t going to do anything. Did you know that the Native Americans believed the Ghost Dance would hasten the renewing of the earth and wipe away the scourage (i.e. the white people that forced the Native Americans off their land {not unlike Rapture, apparently, only for the natives, not everybody}). Makes sense, really, as the natives were one with the land and the whites were doing what they’ve always done (bless our hearts). The natives believed the buffalo would flourish again and things would go back to the way they were.
So, knowing what I do about Ghost Dances (which is really very little), I figured the Na’vi are screwed. Talk about your black moments. Well, what happened? I’m not telling. I just found the parallels between the Na’vi and the Native Americans very fascinating since I was dabbling with a Cheyenne warrior as a character for a while. I swear one of the speeches Jake goes into sounded just like one of the speeches fromBury My Heart at Wounded Knee. If you like movies about Native Americans, watch that one, it was good. I love Adam Beech. He’s a heck of an actor. Wes Studi is also a good Native American actor, he was the cheif-type guy in Avatar. It has a lot of kind of African/Aboriginal themes, too. Even writing a novel set in Australia, I can’t tell you much about the aborigines. I think I live in the wrong part of the world to study up on it. Can’t find good links for them on the net either. I know zilch about conquerism in Africa. Anyway, stunning black moments. Stunning . . . everything. Seriously.
Once again, back to the drawing board as I work on C&C. Chapter one: no good because romance novels don’t start that way. Chucked it. Re-invented chapter two. Much better! I’m happy with chapter two so I made it chapter one. All right, one chapter down! That’s like . . . 3,000 words. So only 72,000 to go. Okay, great. Suddenly (okay, not so suddenly) I feel less that enthusiastic. Well, keep going. Chapter one is good.
After I graduated college, mom and I went on a cruise. I was 21 the first time I ever saw the ocean. I wasn’t impressed. I’m sorry, but the Gulf of Mexico isn’t that impressive, it just isn’t. Neither is the port at Miami, FL. I was going, eewww, if I wanted to see icky water I would have stayed home. I can see all the icky water I want to here. Water. I’ve always been drawn to water. Some say it’s to do with your zodiac sign. Mine’s cancer and therefore a water sign. I don’t like to swim, not really. I did when I was a kid, but there’s that whole being wet thing. My hair loves to suck in water and takes forever to dry. Anyway, at CofO, it was a handful of miles to the dam. I loved to go out there and sit on the rocks, just watching the waves role in. When I did my internship at the Corp of Engineers, I (hated getting up early) loved going out on the trails early in the morning when the lake was flat as glass and had no boats. Once during a thunder storm I was on my way back to the dorm, driving over the dam and saw four foot waves rising out of the lake to hit the rocks on shore. Beautiful and frightening. So when I saw the blue water of Grand Cayman and Jaimaca, I fell in love. We stayed an extra week in Florida, just hanging out on the beaches. Sometimes at night I go to sleep imagining my feet buried in the sand and the blue and white waves sucking the sand from beneath my feet. For a 21 year old “kid” from the midwest, it was heaven.
I wanted to move to Florida, but they tell me it’s expensive there. If I was wealthy, I’d be all over it. I’ve been to the Smokies, too. I hated it. My ears kept popping and it was miserable. I did like the mountains in North Carolina, it’s very pretty there. Been to the Rockies, as well. I loved the Rockies, particularly Estes Park, CO. My ears were fine out there, don’t know what the deal was. I wanted to live in the Rockies with all the deer and elk. Despite the snow. What was I thinking? I hate snow!
I hate the cold. Yesterday we were driving down the Ozark Mountain High Road. I was thinking, yuck, everything looks so gray and dull. Then I got to thinking about in the spring and summer. I’m a horrible photographer. I shake too much and have no patience. What’s beautiful to the eye ends up looking like a blur in the photo. So I just try to memorize what nature looks like without a camera. Green. That’s what the Ozarks are. Green with hints of red, yellow, purple, blue, white and pink. Well, other colors too, but you don’t need me to discuss all of them. Some people describe the woods as creepy with the huge over hanging branches and dense foliage. I love it. The deep woods that appear untouched, except by the men and women who forged their way west. They carved out lives along the James River, its fast flowing waters cutting the earth away to form caves and high bluffs. When I think about the people who were once there, I get little shivers up and down my spine. According to the family tree, on mom’s side we’re descended from the Yoakum’s (spell it how you like: Yocum, Yoacum, Yokum), some of the first men to push the brush away to settle the area. One of them (Jacob if I’m right, but I’m probably not) married a Delaware girl. Her name was Sarah (if I’m right, which I may not be).
I love the ocean. I’d be a sting ray if I could shape shift. But whether I live or die, I’ll always be in the deep, shaded parts of the world where water tinkles down across limestone from mountains older than any other in the part of the world we call North America. Where minnows and crayfish skitter across clay river bottoms, where bald eagles soar over a wide river settled under deep bluffs. Where the Scotch/Irish made their homes because it reminded them of the Auld Sod. Ahh, the Ozarks.
Man, there’s a TV commercial if I ever imagined one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wise Fortune Cookie Says


Fortune cookie of the week. Oh wise and noble, not to mention tasty cookie, impart your wisdom on us lesser (and decidedly less tasty), foolish creatures: You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course.
Really? Are you sure? Because from where I’m standing, the journey seems a little tricky. By tricky I mean long and rocky and not unlike the scene in Return of the Kingwhere Frodo and Sam are climbing up the mountain in Mordor and then that nasty little Gollum comes along to bite your finger off. Hopefully I will be able to keep my (much loved) digits while I journey on. I have to stop comparing everything to books and movies.
Ah, grasshopper, you doubt all-knowing cookie’s wisdom? Well . . . yes. A) because cookie doesn’t know everything and B) I’m very much aware of the fact that a second draft is supposed to better than the first draft. Why don’t I feel like the second draft is better? Why do I feel like we’re running on the same tracks? Maybe worse tracks? Honestly, what if it’s worse? That’s possible. Anything is possible, but not everything is probable.
Which, therefore, also means it might be better. Not likely, but possible. Feel like I’m running around in circles chasing my own tail? Yeah, me too. I keep plugging along. Okay, I keep dragging my feet, but little by little I’m getting some things done. I finished chapter 2 last night. That’s something, right? C&C v.2 has many of the same elements as v.1, but as I stared a the screen under the heading THREE, my mind was nearly as blank as the page. Crap. Then I started to notice something. The first two chapters are shorter than they originally were. That can’t be good.
All right, if you meanies won’t buy my book and write it, will you consider not buying it and writing it for me anyway?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rejection Letters


Dear Editor,
Thank you for your letter of November 8th. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me a publishing contract with your company.
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.
Despite your outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of published author with your company at this time. I look forward to seeing my novel in print.
Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bringing Down the Guillotine


Can you believe I spelled guillotine right on the first try? Me either.
I had a horrible headache Saturday evening. I’d like to say it was the sun’s fault. The winter sun is evil, always in your eyes this time of year. It was one of those headahces that grab you at the back of the neck and they run up into your forehead and you’re sure your eyes are going to explode, then you halfway wish they would hurry up. They don’t make over-the-counter medicine strong enough for those types.
I had a vague idea what the problem was. I ran some stuff through my head, the kinds of horrifying thoughts most writers go through. It’s not good enough, it’s an over-used plot, the characters are shallow. And I came a conclusion. I’m finished. Done. It’s not worth that much stress. I was so gung-ho about NaNo and so proud of myself for getting out all those words. Wow, big accomplishment. Yay. Whatever. It was really about procrastinating and I took it all the way to the top. I did that so I wouldn’t have to mess with C&C. And now I’m so burnt out, I don’t even want to look at C&C. I’m thinking about printing JT and burning it {insert evil laughter here}.
Give me something to edit. I’ll cheerfully edit your work, but I’m not touching mine. In fact, that’s my plan. I’ll just edit other people’s work and ignore anything I’ve done. New Year’s Resolution? Don’t need one. I really, really feel strongly about the way C&C is written. I like it that way and I don’t need someone who thinks he or she is smarter than I am telling me it isn’t right. It might sound juvenile, but here goes: is, too.
So I’m mediocre (if I’m even that good), what else is new? So my face isn’t plastered on a book jacket. Big deal. So there’s no fancy contract I probably wouldn’t understand anyway. Who cares? Second place in Award for Short Fiction? Wow, those other writers must’ve really sucked.
It’s nothing anyone said, not really. It was just the dawning realization that the storyline for JT has been done. 10,000,000,000 times. Maybe a hundred billion. And the knowledge that the American public can’t grasp the concept of Australian penile colony situations. It’s not that difficult: 1840′s = 3,000 women in the country. 98% of them are convicts. If you wanted a woman working for you, if you had no other option to hire a woman on short notice, she was going to be a convict. And yet, no one can wrap their minds around it. It gets old trying to explain that to people. So much for originality.
On the other hand, if someone out in the world needs a plot, let me offer to you the opportunity to buy mine. You can have every word ever written on JT, for the low, low price of $1200. I’d offer it cheaper, but I really need the cash. Send me the money, you can do whatever you want with it. No strings attached.
Back the headache. As soon as I thought all of that, the headache was gone. The stress melted away. Amazing. I didn’t even take anything for it, hand to God. And this doesn’t make me a quitter, because it’s not like if I felt the urge to do it, I couldn’t. But the stupid cougar doesn’t eat the horse and Jonah isn’t kind and fluffy. Live with it, because I am.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Hate Bubble Coats


I bought one of those bubble coats to wear. My original coat is six years old and while it has served the purpose (and quite fashionably), I’m tired of looking at it. And the faux fur part around the neck and sleeves is getting kind of knappy. I’ve hunted and hunted for a new coat that I liked. Do you all realized how ridiculously overpriced winter coats are? They’re outrageous. Especially the ones I like, made out of couderoy and lined with wool. It’s probably not even real wool. Those are around $50-60! Crazy prices! So I settled. At Wal-Mart, I found a bubble coat for $7. I wore it around the store for about five minutes while I looked at other coats. When you’re looking at name brand bubble coats with faux fur hoods for $40, you’re thinking $7 is a pretty good price. Especially when husband wants a new coat, too and he desperately needs one, because hobos wouldn’t wear the coat he has.
I bought the bubble coat knowing how I looked in it. I hate winter. I hate wearing coats and long pants and shoes. I hate wearing gloves and layers. I hate laying in bed at night freezing because husband thinks it’s plenty warm, but I’m shivering. I hate having to go outside and let the car defrost. I bought the coat and I wore it for the first time this morning. I keep scissors in the glove box because you never know when you might need scissors. I also carry pocket knife. I was sorely tempted to hack said bubble coat into small bits of fluff and shreds of material. It wasn’t hard to drive in, the way some coats are. It was really warm. But it zips and for that reason, the collar stands up. The zipper kept rubbing against my face and it drove me nuts. I hate the stupid bubble coat. I’m irritated with the inventor of the bubble coat. Why are these in fashion? Who wants to look like a giant colordy marshmallow? This is the Midwest, not the Arctic. No one needs bubble coats. We need sensible coats with quilted lining, not poof! It’s very frustrating. But I have to live with the bubble coat because I bought it. Well, at least I like the colors. If I get sick of green, then it’s reversible and the other side is black. Options, there’s a bonus. Okay, not really.