Friday, July 25, 2014

So it is difficult to find something to do with myself lately. I don't have school stuff at the moment, after 4 years of after school planning for teaching and 4 more years of studying for my own college experience, having no homework is weird. I feel like I am slacking when I am not doing anything, when really, I have nothing pressing to do right now.

I go to work and do my job; 10 hour days are tiring and I don't feel like doing much afterward. But on days like today, when I have work off, I feel like I should be doing something productive. Last weekend I did a lot of sewing...I made a few dresses for my friend's little girl and I made about 8 dog collars. I will probably do more sewing stuff this weekend but I'm not feeling 100% into sewing stuff.

What I SHOULD be doing is writing. I gave my hard copies of my finished book, tentatively named Trios, to some friends last week. The first couple people have returned it with good comments. The
teenager that read it for me wrote me a fan letter (my first fan letter!) and it was very sweet. Now the second round of friends have the copies and I am awaiting their opinions.

I am trying to give myself some distance from the story because I find when I write and immediately re-read and edit I think that everything is terrible. I'm too close to the story, I know it so well, I can't look at it objectively. I have noticed this with fanfiction I have written; when I go back and read it months later I wonder at myself for not finishing it, yet I know at the time I didn't think it was worth a darn. Distance forces me to look at my writing with fresh eyes and a more objective point of view.

Therefore I am not going to look at what any of my friends wrote edit-wise until after it's been passed around. Then I will re-read the copies and edit what needs to be edited. One of my friends from work does a lot of novel editing, or beta-ing if you choose to call it that; she already has it filled with pink sticky notes, mostly grammar things from my quick skim through. That's awesome. It can only help me improve, right?

In the meantime, I should be working on something else. I have Contender half written; I'm blocked on that because I have to write a scene killing a beloved character and I don't want to. That's been that way for a little over a year now. I have my fantasy/dragon story that is a little over half finished. I have no excuse for not finishing that other than I was trying to focus on one story and Trios came up the winner. I also have a dystopia/spy novel that is about 40% finished that I could work on. I could work on a possible sequel to Trios that may or may not every happen but I feel I should have something started. Not to mention the fanfiction I intended to write for my sister and finish by Christmas. So lots of writing to do. The problem is, I just need to do it. I can find so many ways to procrastinate on writing, it's ridiculous.

And I know I won't get anything done tonight. I have to work in the morning, I have to go to bed early so I'm not a crab apple at work. I am having lunch with a friend. At some point I need to take the girls to the dog park to run because walking them two-three times a week isn't quite cutting it. I want to make a fairy costume for my dog because Ren Fest is next month. So many excuses not to write....I need to stop that and just do it.

We will see. This blog, whether anyone ever reads it or not, will keep me accountable. I'll have to report what I have or have not done next week. We shall see if I overcome the procrastination monster or succumb to its temptations. Let's try to keep positive thoughts, shall we?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wow! It's been a long long time...

So, yes, it has been a while since I have posted on this blog. School has been killer, along with work, and laziness. I admit, I have been a slacker of blogs lately. School has always been the best excuse. Why would I blog when I really needed to be using my Internet time to do schoolwork? Of course, I was using it to get stuck in endless YouTube loops where you start with watching two videos with ten minutes in mind then end up on the other side of the Internet three hours later wondering what in the world you're doing with your life. Not much, not in that moment.

So now, it's official. I'm done with school...for now. I have a Master's degree in Educational Technology...with no where to use it. Michigan, for those of you who don't know, is tough for teachers. If you have a teaching job then you're golden, if you don't, good luck buddy. Everyone wants to teach here because, A) Michigan is the best state ever, and B) you get paid well to do so. So, I am struggling to find a decent teaching job....but I really like my current job. If I could make an actual living working there, doing what I do, I would so do that.

Currently, I'm working at a veterinary clinic as an assistant. I can do about 80% of the things there, I can talk to you until I'm blue in the face about dog care, I'm pretty knowledgeable about behavior, I've looked a lot into nutrition, and I can recommend the best course for you to take with your dog depending on your living situation. I love working with dogs, to a lesser extent cats, and I love the people I work with (for the most part). It's a great job, it's just not a career. I can't support myself with it.
Mia, Tilwyn, Bailey...waiting for their nightly treats.

I will say, thinking about getting a doctorate. Seriously. I would love to teach college. I think I would be a great college professor. That's as much as I'm talking about it today, however.

So now, the question is being begged, what do I do with my time?  Finish up my book, of course. Well, the first one, at least. I have about 3 others in progress, none are a continuation of the first, though there is the possibility of the first being a series, possibly. In that vein of thought, I have finished my revisions, my third go round where I changed up some things and started the polishing process. Now it's time for line revisions and getting POV from a broader audience. So I ordered 2 printed copies to disperse to my friends, emailed my sisters and aunt the link to the Google Drive, and now to go through it with a fine tooth comb.

My goal is to have it out and then back by September, maaaaybe October to put the finishing touches on it. I want to submit to agents by the end of the year. That is my goal. The end of this year. Sooner if possible. It's a long goal, as to make it obtainable. We're at the halfway mark and I'm about where I want to be. We shall see what happens.

Meantime, I do want to sew as well. I have to finish up a binding for Beth's quilt that her mom made, that will take all of an afternoon someday soon. I have been making dog collars, martingale style, and I want to make more but the company I order the tri-slides from sent me the wrong size! They are awesome, however, and they will send me the right size with instructions on how to send back the wrong size ones, no charge to me. Which it shouldn't be, because it was there screw up, but still they could have been indifferent about it but so far they have been amazing. So if you need hardware for purses, or collars, or whatever, check them out. They are a Cali company, which is cool as well.

I also have fabric for some dresses for Stacey, and I'm looking into making these new things that are "in," hooded-cowl things. I can't find a good pattern so I might have to make my own. Meanwhile, the animal hats that I made 1.5 years ago are now all the rage so I might make some more of those. I need to get an Etsy store going again. ALSO, I am making a scarf of darkness and redness and whiteness....if you know what that means you are cool. But I have some other scarves and stuff I want to work on...oh YES and doggie dresses. So many things....and yet I waste time in YouTube loops....

I am off to work on something. Writing or sewing, one of the two.   In the classic words of my new obsession:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Seriously, school! Stop it!

I hate November.

For the past two years my most writing intensive classes have been the Nov-Dec classes. And they suck out all my creativity. So here it is, NaNo month and all I want to do is follow the rules. I want to write my 50,000 words for NaNo and screw everything else.

But you can't 'screw' school. You have to do that. So here I am, forcing myself to do more writing than ever. I just started a review blog. I just finished my novel- except for the rewrites, revisions, and additions I need to make. And I am making a blog for school AND creating an online class for ... my online class.

Not to mention that I have a craft show coming up in 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS. And I have stuff to sell but I should probably work on making more stuff. So do I work on sewing...or do I work on writing? I know what you're all thinking- I should focus on school, right?

Boo. I've had some classes that are not so writing intensive. Why couldn't those be my Nov-Dec classes? Why can't I have writing intensive classes in February when it isn't near the holidays and it's snowing so I don't have the gumption to do anything beyond sit and write for my class? Scheduling sucks.

I have two good things to say about this month.

1. Catching Fire tomorrow. I am looking forward to it. Excited even. Hoping that it doesn't disappoint as so many sequels do.

2. Turkey day! Love me some Thanksgiving foods.

Monday, November 18, 2013

FINISHED! Almost...

Today I chose Barnes and Noble for my typing. I thought it would be quieter. It was...for about a half hour. Then children came. And when you are in a quiet bookstore, children are amplified. When you're in a semi-busy restaurant, children become part of the background buzz. I will continue, from now on, to write at Panera. I focus there more easily, believe it or not.

Plus, B&N only has 1 outlet for their entire cafe! Silly cafe.

But I did manage to eek out my last chapter in a little less than 2 hours. I am so happy at being DONE. Mostly done. Maybe 3/4 done. Here's why it's not complete:

  1. I don't have an end to my ending. I need a paragraph or two to finish it off. I HATE writing endings. I agonize over them (if I ever get to them). I like happy endings. I like everything tied up in a neat bow. Sometimes that is easier to do than other times. Therefore I have an end chapter, just not an ending yet.
  2. I have a lot of revision to do. I have 2-3 chapters to add into the middle. I have a change of a core concept I need to go back and rewrite. I need to go back and spruce up my showing not telling. There's a lot to go back and look at.
  3. Line edits. Ugh, I don't look forward to those.
So, yep, almost done. Closer than ever before.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pat myself on the back

So while reading some book reviews on Amazon (it inspires me to write, believe it or not) I realized that stories have climaxes. I know that I knew that, and I know that I write them, but I've never consciously thought: "This is my climax scene." It makes me think of writing 101 in high school for some reason. But yes, stories typically have a build up and climax before the end. I wish all these words didn't have innuendos behind them but alas, I know at least half of you have giggled each time you read the word 'climax.'

That being said, today was the day. I've been thinking about it/planning the skeleton of it for the past four days. I knew it was coming. I just had to start writing it. But what. Exactly. Was. It. Going. To. Be?

I knew I would never be able to write it at home. Someone would bark, someone would snore, someone would have to go pee. I had to go to my writing sanctuary. My Panera. And so I did.

I think I started typing about 11:00am. I finished about about 2:45. In the end it was 5,500 words. That's a lot of words in a day. Especially when I didn't know what going to happen when I sat down and started.

I mean, I had an idea. I knew who the bad guy was and his basic plan. I knew how I was going to have my protagonists set up. I knew my FMC had to do something with her magic. That I knew. But the details, they were fuzzy. But that's how I work. Get a main idea and start typing. The characters will tell the story.

For the most part, that worked. I had to take a time out and go old school at one point. I pulled out my notebook and green pen (this story has been predominately written in green pen where needed) and hashed out some details. The notebook is where I write down the things I don't want to forget, the details that are important. Why is my bad guy doing this? Why does he need to do it this way? How are the good guys going to stop him? What are going to be their struggles?

I wrote it all out and I was like. Meh. My FMC doesn't actually DO anything in that plan. No body does anything. They all just kind of let everyone else do the work. We have to fix that. What's the point of the story if the FMC doesn't actually grow and become the "hero" of the story. Why did we follow her in the first place?

So I thought about it. I tweaked it. And I liked what I was thinking. So I went back to typing. And in the end in all made sense. I even added a few details that made it even more relevant to the initial story I was telling, details that didn't come to me until I was writing. The hours went by like minutes. I couldn't believe that it was almost 3:00 and I had written over 5,000 words. It just poured out of me.

And that's what's fun about writing. That's where the high comes from. When you're typing the words just seem to write themselves. When plot points shore up on their own. When you have those "aha!" moments about why you wrote something a certain way earlier. You knew it was going to be relevant at some point! Trust those instincts.

Now I know the thing is crap. As I was writing some of it I was like...this is crappy writing. But I am still celebrating. Why? Because one more chapter to write and the thing will be DONE. Complete. Finished. A story from beginning to end (for the most part). And that is an accomplishment. I have written many stories, mostly fanfiction. They number in the dozens. I think I have completely finished four or five. So finishing something is a huge stepping stone. I am so close. I can taste it.

And that means the fun part begins. So many authors say the story comes alive in the revision. I've never gotten that far so I look forward to seeing if it is true. I know my story needs an overhaul. I already know where I need to go back and split up chapters/info dumps. I know I need to go back and work on showing not telling. I know that it will be at least another few months before I am ready to show this to anyone other than my sisters.

But I can see that finish line. I can see the end. Because I finished the hardest part today. The part that is the point of the story. The part that you read the book for....well the action part anyway.

Em and Isaac still haven't kissed.

I haven't decided if I'm going to let them.

I guess I still have a lot to think about for that last chapter. I won't know if they kiss or not until I write it. That's one of those things I can't plan. I can work on setting it up in my mind, work on the scenes that will happen but they will have to decide if they do it or not. I can't wait to find out.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sad today

It's a sad day.

About 12 years ago my sister Sarah brought home a flea ridden, worm filled, sneezing ball of black fur that probably weighed a whole pound. Her friend had witnessed someone throw the thing out a car window. She couldn't believe that it was a kitten, but there she was, large green eyes and close to death. So she was bottle fed, but Sarah's friend's mom wouldn't let her in the house. She said she had to go live in the barn. She was so tiny that my mom couldn't stand that thought.

And so, a family with a majority of people allergic to cats, adopted a kitten. When she clung to your shirt she looked like a black spider. So she was named Spyder. She had to be fully declawed or dad wouldn't let her stay. She grew up being sniffed to death by a young Westie named Tilwyn. And she has been the near-perfect cat for us.

Spyder didn't crave attention. She liked 5-10 minutes of petting in the evening and that was about it. She didn't like to be held, she didn't need to be loved on. Perfect because we are not a cat family. My brother, my father, and myself were allergic to her. My brother grew up with a constant sniffle because of her. It didn't bother him though. He still let her in his room to sleep with him once a week.

She spent a lot of time in the basement. She spent a lot of time not around people. She was strictly indoors but she'd occasionally run out and chew on grass. She never spent more than 10 minutes at time outside; she didn't like it. She DID like to lie on anything new; a blanket, a new chair, a MOVED chair were all new things to her and she HAD to lie on them for hours.

She got very fat. When I came home from living in Georgia her belly was dragging on the ground. I cut her back to twice a day feedings and she got healthy quickly. She never complained, she just enjoyed eating when she was fed.

The older she got the more personal she got. She started hanging around rooms where there were people. She didn't want to be pet, she just wanted to be near everyone. She didn't want the dogs to sniff her, she just wanted to watch everyone interact. She was content to be in the background, to be off to the side. She was a princess and she had her thrones throughout the house. She picked a new favorite weekly. You always knew where to find her, she was always in one of her five favorite spots.

My dad doesn't "like" animals. He does, he just doesn't like to admit it. For all his gruffness he would still pet Spyder every day. He gave her attention. I would pet her most nights when she would meow at me when I grabbed late night snacks. One day she got locked upstairs with me for the night and her sudden appearance of yellow eyes and a wide MEOW made me scream. She startled the heck out of me. But she got hugs and kisses; more than she ever wanted. The cat knew she was loved.

Her favorite things were plastic bags and wrapping paper. You would come home from the grocery store and have plastic bags all over the kitchen; she would be in the middle of them. She didn't bat at them or play with them, she just liked to lie in them, on them. Same with wrapping paper. Christmas was her ultimate favorite time of year. She would just sit in the piles of wrapping paper, content. 

She had thyroid disease. It was controlled by food. She could only eat a certain food, no treats, no nothing, just her food for her thyroid. And she did it. She liked her Y/D. She ate it twice a day without a problem for two years. It made her thyroid numbers perfect and she kept herself at a good 12 pounds. She was a good cat.

But for the past two weeks she wasn't eating. I'd pass by her food bowl and it would be full. Untouched. My mom told me she wasn't really eating. And two days ago I looked at her and I could see her spine; her haunches were sunken in. She hadn't moved much in the past few days. She smelled bad, like she wasn't grooming. Something was off.

Maybe it was just the remodeling. That's what I told myself. Once the remodeling is done she'll be back to normal. But I took her to work, to the vet office, just to make sure. And to make a long story short that visit ended with two doctors feeling her belly and feeling a mass growing in her abdomen. In her lymph node. Elongated, golf-ball size. It was bad news.

My doctors aren't pathologists but it was most likely lymphoma. Cancer. A tumor. The words you really don't want to hear at the doctor's office. I brought Spyder home. I told my mom. We realized she was starving herself to death and was just going to waste away before our eyes. At best she had months, most likely a week. We couldn't do that to her. Such a good cat, she deserved so much more than that. She was miserable, suffering.

Everyone said goodbye at home. True to her nature she still didn't want to be held. She bitched at us the whole time. But Stacey, Craig, Mom, and I got to hug her. Dad pet her a few last times. We said our goodbyes. I had to take her in by myself, no one else could do it. No one else could watch her go. But I couldn't let her be alone. Even if she and I weren't best of friends I still loved her. She deserved to have someone who loved her with her.

My work is really great about this type of thing. It's the hardest part of the job, death. They all know I don't like cats but they all know that's just something I say. Everyone was supportive, I got lots of hugs. Spyder was sedated before the final injection. She curled up in the table in front of me, in a circle, in my arms, like she was my best friend cat from day one. She trusted me. It makes me cry thinking about that moment. I felt so bad. But Dr. Aubry was there and he told me it was the right decision. She had something bad brewing. She had lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks. She was not in a good place and this was the hard thing, but the right thing to do. That makes me feel a little better.

But I'm still sad. I'm still crying. It's not even that I'll miss her; I didn't interact with her all that much to "miss" her. I'm sad that she only got 12 years. I'm sad that it happened so fast. I'm sad that she won't get just one more Christmas. There's no other word for it. It just makes me sad.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What can I say? I'm a slacker

Not that I forgot about this blog I just haven't had time. Reading back on my posts that's my biggest issue in life, time management. Not that I don't know what it is, just that I'm terrible at it. I have my moments. I can be great at it when I want to be.

It's that lazy gene I inherited. I hate it sometimes. I can waste a whole day so easily even though I start the morning with best intentions. I wake up and think, "Today I am going to sew some purses," or "Today I am going to write some chapters."  Which is usually followed by, "But first I need to take care of the dogs, then check my emails, then see if I want to watch anything on Hulu while I eat my breakfast, and find out if any of my YouTube subscriptions updated." Yea. That can waste a heck of a lot of time, trust me.

Anyway, I fully intended to not do NaNo for November. My July attempt wasn't bad- I ended up at around 30k words on Contender in July. I have not finished that draft. I am stuck. I have to kill a character and I don't want to. I've forced myself to write up to that point and I haven't been able to push myself over the edge. However, since I have distanced myself from that book I think I'm coming closer to being able to take that leap. I want to continue it. I think I will. Soon.

But in the mean time I've been working on this other story. I started it in August and I've been doing really well with it. It is currently at 32k words. I am not working on it for NaNo specifically because for some reason the classes that require a lot of writing happen in November. I end up writing so much for my classes that it takes the words right out of me. I don't even want to think about writing for my book after spending so much effort on these class assignments. So I know November will be my slow down month on progress, which is why I wasn't going to do NaNo.

But I did write about 8k words in two days. I did do that. I've pushed myself through this yet unnamed book (lets call it Trio for simplicity's sake), through the parts that I worried about and have been struggling with. I just wrote. And I have figured out my biggest Achilles heel when it comes to writing- MY DOGS!! Yes, those loveable mutts. When I sit down to write on my laptop I usually do it on my bed. That's the only place I have to go right now as the bottom half of the house is being redone. So the dogs jump on the bed with me. In and of itself this isn't a bad thing. I like when they are close. I like my dogs.

BUT! Bailey needs attention. Like, badly. She doesn't like competing with the laptop. She doesn't bother me when I'm on my PC, she doesn't care when I read my Kindle but she'll be damned if I pay more attention to a laptop than to her. She rests her head on the side of it. She shoves her nose at my hands. She attempts to lay on top of it. She does everything she can to distract me and the worst part is I FALL FOR IT EVERY TIME. "Oh, Bailey-bear do you need some pets?" "Oh, Sweetness let me rub your neglected belly." What the heck! I do that all the time! Why is it so important I do it when I have the laptop out? She is my anti-muse!

Mia is slightly better. She's good at just lying at the end of the bed in a curled up ball and sleeping. She only bugs me at dinner time. Seriously. That was the only time.

So my fix that I figured out last month was to GO AWAY. I went to Panera which is literally five minutes down the road. I set up shop on a Sunday afternoon (after some broccoli cheddar soup because, come on, who wouldn't?) and proceeded to type for five hours, uninterrupted. I churned out close to 10k words. It was amazing. I was in the zone and couldn't believe at the end that it had been five hours. It felt like less than two.

I've done this twice since then. It really does help. Today I couldn't; I had lunch with my sister and then came home to type in bed again. But I did what I do when I take a nap. I turned on my fan, turned out the light, and made the dogs sleep in their beds while I worked. This was there feeling on that:
 Mia just takes it because she gets the big bed. Bailey, however, is not amused at the situation. But it worked. The couldn't distract me from there.

Finally I did get to finish one of my hats I am making for the upcoming craft show. I am going to attempt to sell some of my things I have made over the year at a Christmas craft show. Wish me luck. Some of what I am going to make are owl and penguin hats of varying sizes. So I got about 4k words typed today and finished a hat. Other than that I was useless today. I'm not sure if that counts as being productive.

That's ok, tomorrow will be worse since I work from 9-7. Friday will be all about school. When will I get to write again?!

Owl hat I finished today. Super cute.