Saturday, July 15, 2006

And A River Runs Through It

Our basement that is. It's wet. It's very, very wet. We had a major downpour last night while I was at karate. I came home to my husband charging up and down the basement steps with buckets of water. Our sump pump had had a major malfunction, resulting in any water it pumped out of our basement landing next to the foundation wall. You can see why this is a less than opitmal way of dealing with a flood.

Long story short - I spent all night up sucking water out of the carpet with a wet/dry vacuum. S then spent most of today working with a rug doctor. We are beginning to be cautiously optomistic that we might get to keep the carpet without massive mold and/or mildew. In service of which our house is currently being kept at near refridgerator temps.

Oh, and my jump drive got smashed in the general rush of hauling stuff out of the basement. Fortunately I'm pretty good about backing stuff up, so I only lost my last three pages of writing, but it's seriously hampering my ability to work back and forth between computers - not to mention that I can't print anything out until I get a replacement.

I am SO getting even with Sensei for making last night a "How many pushups can we do?" night.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

About That Novel...

OK - I have a deadline. By this deadline I have to have a workable Ghost Dancer mark 2. This is both cool and scary. Cool because I will have a formatted, semi-official e-book version of Ghost Dancer available. Something I can send people to (Look! I wrote a book!). It will have a cover, and everything. Scary because the friggin deadline is July 24th. Yes - less than two weeks from today. To take an 80,000 word manuscript with significant plot holes and turn it into a complete book. I'm estimating that it needs to go up to 95,000 words first, and then I start editing down for congruency, language, and all that fun stuff.

I did find a nifty little word meter to drive me onward.

81,983 / 95,000

I also found a fabulous little site called Pandora which will give you a customized radio station. Lots of fun to play with, and gives me some nice background music to write to.

Oh - and in case the deadline isn't scary enough my mother and brother are showing up Sunday and Monday respectively. I need to clean the guest room (easy), and my younger son's room (difficult) to prepare for the arrival.

Plus the belt test. I'm so glad I feel very prepared for this one. I would be so freaking out if I were still trying to get stuff down.

ETA - OK, that word meter didn't turn out so hot. I'll have to see if I can find another one.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


My green belt test has finally been rescheduled for July 21. The new date actually works really well for me since my brother and his family will be visiting from Germany, and my mother will be up as well to see them. I'll have a cheering section for the first time ever. Whether I'll be testing by myself or not is still up in the air. One of our preteen blue belts is also ready to move up to green - almost. He's at that precarious stage where he knows what he needs to know, but is still prone to mental blowouts under stress. Sensei will be watching him for another week, and then deciding.

After the test it's Gulf Games. It's an biannual private board gaming convention that S usually attends. I've been to three thus far. This year it's in Louisville (really Jeffersonville, across the river), so we're acting as hosts. Then immediately following that is the family reunion. This is my father's family we're speaking of - and it's huge. Five sets of aunts and uncles, 21 cousins, most with spouses (I'm on the young side of the cousins), and untold numbers of kids, all hanging out at Roan Mtn. in East TN for a week.

I'm getting some martial arts out of it too. One of my cousins is an instructor (blanking on his style) up in the NE, and has promised to bring along some weaponry. I just have to decide what I want him to show me - bo, kali sticks, or sais. I have both bo and sais, and am leaning towards them, since they're part of Isshinryu, but the kali sticks intrigue me. If I saw James more often, I could wring him dry, but I've only seen him twice in the last ten years, so I may not get a lot of chances.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Writing is Fun - Not Throttling My Family is Hard

I've been spending my week hip-deep in Ghost Dancer rewrites. They're going really well so far, much better than I would have anticipated. I even thought up a really good, and yet reasonably logical plot complication to throw at my poor beleagured heroine. (And boy howdy is she beleagured. The poor thing thinks she's relatively normal, but the universe really is out to get her.)

I love being a writer. Where else do you get to chuckle evily about condeming a planet's worth of people to a horrible death - and still consider yourself a good person at the end of the day?

On the downside, if I were writing my own life script, I'd have timed this rewrite for the fall. After the boys have gone back to school. It is amazingly difficult to write an intense scene involving death, depression, or psychotic breakdown - and then hop up in the middle to fix some mac 'n cheese, or push a swing. It feels like an exercise in multiple personality disorder. In a memorable moment yesterday, my character was going through the aforementioned psychotic break, brought about by the horrible death of her family - and in between sentences, I was speaking in the voices of dead fish in boxes for my younger son, who was playing a Scooby-Doo game. Horrible grief and loss - dead fish voices - severe attack of agoraphobia - dead fish voices - continue on for an hour.

I mentioned this difficulty to S - not because he can really help right now. The plant he works for is in shutdown, which for him (as opposed to everybody else), means he's working 16+ hour days, and we practically never see him. - but because I was hoping for a smidgen of sympathy. He looked at me like I'd grown another head, and said "Really love, learn to compartmentalize." Because trying to get into somebodies head while they're having a breakdown, and write accurately about it while voicing cartoon charactes, is exactly like working on a spread sheet, and having somebody call you up about a broken valve. Grrr.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Finally Getting Somewhere

I've been having the same blasted dream for a couple of weeks, and it was driving me crazy. In essence, I would be stranded somewhere with two big strong guys, whom I trusted. I would be beat up in some way that prevented me from walking effectively (broken hip, smashed knee, you get the idea). It would be a matter of life and death to get out of where we were - and for the final kicker - I would be, for some unknown reason, unable or unwilling to tell these big strong gents that I couldn't bloody walk. The dreams largely consisted of dragging myself along with the aid of a staff, or walls, or whatever else happened to be about, while my companions were preoccupied with finding our way out - assuming that I was in pain, but capable of limping along.

Pretty nonsensical, but that's a dream for you. The point wasn't hard to figure out though. I just needed to realize which aspect of my life was stuck, where I had the necessary help, and yet couldn't or wasn't using it.

I finally pulled GD - my first novel out of the closet, and have started the rewrite. Interestingly, the dreams stopped (at least I haven't had one in three nights now) almost immediately thereafter. My various first-line readers seem to have given me a ton of advice, some conflicting, but much of it helpful. I also find it telling that the most common person to appear in my dream as a companion was Sensei - who was also one of my first-line readers. None of my other readers showed up, that would have been too easy to figure out I guess - or perhaps it's just that none of the rest of them are strong enough to pick me up.

The rewrite is going well. I've only actually rewritten a few paragraphs so far. First I'm reading through myself, and trying to proof, look for cliched or poorly worded stuff, and trying to condense commentary from five readers onto one copy, so I can work on the computer with only one stack of paper beside me. After all at 273 pages, five copise would be a pretty intimidating stack of paper.

My big issues thus far 1) a tendancy to revert to default positions if I haven't thought out my world well. I.e. when Kira takes a test, it looks very much like a modern day college exam at a high-tech school, rather than something you would see 500 years in the future. Places where the plot intercedes avoid this, but it happens a lot in small things. 2) A tendancy to short-hand cliches. When I'm writing fast, I tend to use the common phrase rather than hunt for the perfect one. Perfectly allowable in a rough draft - killer if left in. 3) Gaps in the plot, where I skipped ahead because I got stuck. This one is a function of NaNo. When trying to write a novel in a month, you simply don't have time to stop and work out all details. If you know A, and you know C, but you don't know B, you just skip ahead (at least I do), and if B occurs to you later, than you go back and fill in. Many of my gaps did get filled in while I was still in NaNo mode, but many didn't. I need to figure out which need to be written in, and which can be handled with a quickie bridge (...three months later...)

Last, but far from least, I need to backfill my ending. Since I only actually decided on my ending in the last few chapters, it doesn't always lead logically from the earlier stuff. Since I like my ending, I need to go back and rewrite said earlier stuff so it all hangs together well. No more having the big baddie walk in from nowhere three chapters from the end.

I'm working away hard on this now. If I can, I'd like to have this version done by the 17th when my brother comes to visit. Failing that, I'd like to manage the 25th, which is when the family reunion starts. I have at least two prospective second-line readers in my family (trust me, my family doesn't gush over tripe. They're tough.) that I would like to be able to give copies to at the reunion. If I can finish by the 17th, then my brother can give me a once over so I can correct any doozies before then - he was one of my first-line readers.

After the second-line readers report back, then I start the hard part - putting together a presentation package, and convincing myself to send this puppy out into the cold cruel world.