Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So Like I'm a Winner

I finished NaNoWriMo last night with 51,500 words or something like that. My book isn't actually finished but luckily we'd planned for this and Cullen had written an emergency ending where the characters get hit by a meteorite and are killed, thereby wrapping up all loose ends.

This book turned into a romance, kind of against my will and right now the leads are in bed together. They finally consummated their relationship. I think I wrote twenty pages of them rolling around in bed before the actual moment, which I skipped. Boy can these characters talk, talk, talk. They're pretty funny but most likely I'll cut most of it out or perhaps scatter it throughout the book. It actually does make sense that it took them so long because my female lead passes out every time she gets excited. She may not faint at the site of homemade monorails like I do but she swoons when she's sweet talked or her boyfriend kisses her.

I'm weirdly depressed over November ending. Let's see what December brings in the way of writing habits I guess.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Little Excerpt From my NaNoWriMo 2005

Rough, rough draft but I like it. My heroine is describing the moment when she realized her husband, who went to work one day and never came home, is truly dead and won't ever be coming back again.

"You know that film where you played the shepherd? And you've been out all night looking for the lamb and you come walking through the fog, carrying the lamb, obviously very tired, sort of damp from the fog and being out all night and your shirt's undone and you see the woman you love has been waiting for you, tending the fire?"

"Yes, that was a bugger to shoot."

"When I saw that scene I thought I was going to fall out of my seat at the theater. You were unbelievably swoony. All dark and handsome and grim and yet endearing and approachable. It wasn't long after my husband died and I remember I felt this terrible piercing longing for him. It was like I'd been stabbed in the heart and I thought I'd never learn to live without him."

Kipling was quiet, holding her hand and listening intently. He kissed her on the end of her nose. "Did you?"

"Yes, I did. I think that moment was the one for me that made me realize he was gone forever and I wasn't ever going to have anyone give me that look again. That look that says you're the one who succors me, you're the one who makes my day complete, you're the one I save up little stories to tell, you're the one who I'm letting past the armored gates of my heart and I'm glad for it. I knew those days were behind me and I was on my own from now on."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Proposed Asthma Medicine Warnings

I'm about a week behind in my email reading, mostly because I've been working on the novel so much. WaPo ran this story last week about three asthma medicines that might get warning labels "stating that the drugs could increase the chances of severe asthma episodes that could result in death."

Basically the drugs reduce the frequency of asthma attacks but when you have one it is more severe and can result in death. The three drugs are Advair, Serevent (which I thought was taken off the market) and Foradil.

I was on Advair for years until I got pseudotumor and told my family doctor I didn't want to take anything with steroids in it if I didn't have to. Then she started me on Foradil, although I'm not taking it right now.

Interestingly I've had to go to the ER and been admitted for asthma while on Advair and Cullen almost died while on it when he was six. He had only one millimeter of space left in his trachea by the time I got him to the ER. (I probably have talked about this before.) Cam was on it when he has had several trips to the ER requiring IV steroids.

For obvious reasons the article was extremely interesting to me. If you or someone you love has asthma you should read it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A Day at the Races

I took the kids to the racetrack today for a little winter racing. It was quite cold, 27 degrees when we got home. We stayed in the clubhouse as much as possible between races so we were pretty much okay and the horses and jockeys seemed not to mind too terribly much.

The 16 horse in the seventh race was huge. He was big and fat and I would have picked him if I wanted a horse to ride. I liked him a lot but not as a racehorse. The horse I liked in that race, Rock Island Salami, won but we got back from the paddock too late to bet so no money for us.

We had two horses in the 8th race, 10 and 5. 10 won really nicely but the jockey fell off of number five and the horse ran around loose for a long time. The jockey seemed to be fine because it looked like he rode in the nine race.

We had the winning horse in the ninth race but I when I was telling Chris how to bet, because by then I was too sick to walk back and forth to the betting window, I forgot to tell him to put money on the horse to win and show. The horse went off at 99-1 odds and won. He paid 28.20 to show and 257.40 to win. Yep we were that close to lots o cash.

But anyway we had a good time except Cul isn't feeling too hot because of all the cigar smoking. We got to talk to our winning jockeys and tell them they did a great job and thanks. That's always fun. We came home with one dollar more than we had when we walked in the gates and that includes me tipping the woman who was at our betting window. Good times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

An Annoying Day

Today was a vexing day. I went to get new glasses and the eye doctor was kind of horrified by the extreme changes in my eyes, particularly the left eye. He actually thought that his records were wrong or something and went off to measure my old glasses. It's the damn PTC of course, no matter how many times my neuro-opth tells me my eyes look great it doesn't mean I haven't lost a fair amount of vision.

Then I went to get a haircut and the chick that cut it hacked it to death. She said my hair was too thick and set about layering it, which appears to mean cut off three or four pounds and leave hardly any left. I've been toying with growing my bangs out for months and they were just long enough that I could put them up in a pony tail. Now they're too long to be bangs but too short to do anything with. In fact they are precisely the length where you go damn, I need a haircut. Meanwhile the rest of my hair is way too short to put up at all and barely covers my ears. What the hell? It's taken me a year to recover from the crazy freak who butchered it last November. This is why I go six months between haircuts.

Then I come home, very grouchy and with a nasty headache and I'm working on my book, writing this kind of big scene with a speech by my male lead and the cat decides to get up, knocks the mouse out of my hand and shuts the whole thing down, losing what I had written. It doesn't seem physically possible and yet it happened.

Meanwhile my cable keeps going out so I keep losing my progress in various projects I'm trying to do online.

Yeah, so I'm grouchy. Grouchy with a terrible haircut. Ugh.

Oh and I'm pretty sure I hate the frames the chick picked out for me at the eye doctor. I can't see a god damn thing without my glasses so I can't exactly pick a new pair of frames. I think the new ones are weird and ugly. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

40,000 Words

I hit 40,000 words today. I am extremely tired. I don't think so much tired from the writing but my asthma's been a huge pain lately, waking me up at night. There's a funny noise coming from my chest that sounds like a noise a kitty would make if you hugged it a little too tight. Good times.

The lines at Harry Potter over the weekend were completely insane. At Muvico Egyptian you can buy your tickets in advance. Tickets for the film were sold out well in advance and still the theater was herding people around and putting them behind velvet ropes. It looked like no sooner did one showing start when another started lining up to get the best seats. Crazy.

Chris and I saw Pride and Prejudice (Swoon!) and the theater was so full that some people were sitting in the aisles.

It was so good I can't even tell you. Must sign off now, too tired to type anymore. More about museum later.

Friday, November 18, 2005

33,000 Words so Far

It's weird. I'm at 33,000 words and today is the 18th. In the real world that's pretty amazing and cool, especially given the constraints of my particular bizarre illness. Yet somehow I feel behind. I supposed I would like to be at 36,000 words. I am not that far behind but I feel like a total slacker.

Fridays are hard for me when it comes to writing. Thursdays are a huge push to write my column then I work very hard to get all the newsletters out on Friday. By six or six thirty I am pretty much done. A nap seems like all I am good for.

This week was particularly hard. My column was ridiculously hard to do, I think because I was never inspired by anything. I started three different columns and then I threw away the whole thing at nine last night and rewrote it. The finished product was worth it but my goodness it wore me out.

It would be nice to be at 40,000 words by Sunday night but I might not write anything. Chris and I are thinking about going to an art museum and maybe a movie. That would be fun I think. I can't wait for the King Tut exhibit to come somewhere near here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Three words for Americans

I posted this as a thread at the Grapevine just now. I'm curious what sort of responses I will get.

I was helping my middle son's friend with his English homework today via teleconference. He's from Pakistan and he had to write a paper in which he described three strong characteristics of Americans and then back it up with examples from reading he had done for the class. He had some poetry and some essays to choose from but since I didn't know if I had read any of them and if I did I probably wouldn't remember them very well, we decided to use the book The Jungle. I'm sure any of you who read this book will have at least some memory of it and it did have a strong impact on business in the US.

After some discussion we chose these three words.

Independent. I think that this is a word that a lot of us would choose to describe ourselves. Examples would be refusal to rely on charity and a strong belief that you can get it done on your own.

Optimistic. I believe that one of the basic credos of our country is that anyone can better himself or herself and better their family. If that's not optimistic I don't know what is.

Industrious. This goes with the other two words. Not only do we believe we can do it for ourselves and improve our lives, we are willing to do the work required to accomplish this lofty goals.

Certainly the character in the book is all three of these things, constantly working and striving in the face of terrible adversity and horrific circumstances.

What words would you choose to describe us as a people?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rude Thoughts Alert

I was browsing through the clinical studies, trying to find something I want to include in my book, and I saw this one. It's called Effects of SCI on Female Sexual Response. Here SCI stands for spinal cord injury. I was intrigued and then amused by what went flashing through my head when I looked at the inclusion criteria:

Inclusion Criteria:

* MS or SCI
* Normal menstrual periods
* Normal hand function
* Have ability to feel sensation from lower abdomen to upper thigh region.

Does anything leap out at you about that list? Yeah me too.


Edited to add:

I was just talking about this post with a friend and I noticed the exclusion criteria:

Exclusion Criteria:

* Pregnant
* Menopausal

What does that mean? Pregnant and menopausal women can't or shouldn't be having orgasms? How Victorian is that?

My friend points out that if it's been at least six months since these women have sustained their illnesses or injuries they already know if they can have an orgasm. I'm wondering if whoever is running this study is actually trying to learn anything or just satisfying some kinky fantasy.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Avoiding the Inner Editor

Yesterday I was going to take the day off and not do any writing for NaNoWriMo. I'm doing really well and I was very tired but I then I decided I would write just ten words for every chapter I read of my book and I ended up writing three thousand words by the end of the day.

It really helps to know that this could be the crappiest first draft ever because I'll fix it all later. Look what I did here:

"He's five years younger than I am. He's an actor also. You may have heard of him, Kieran Wade."

"Get out, Kieran is your brother? But you don't look anything alike. And you have different last names." She stopped and thought for a moment, sitting back down on the couch and putting her feet up. "Never mind, I guess that doesn't necessarily mean anything in this day and age."

"He's either from a second marriage and my biological dad is dead or he just picked another name for his acting career."

Hmm, thought Mallory, if his father is dead, then maybe he and Seth will have something in common and they'll be able to bond. That would be good. "That's an interesting choice," she said.

"I'm just trying to help you keep your mind off of your headache. How's that going?"

See at first I was going to get stuck writing because I didn't know which it was, why did they have different last names but then I realized since it's NaNoWriMo different rules apply so I had him actually say there was a choice, thinking I could come back later and then she said what I was thinking about the advantages of different answers and then he turned it into a kind of a little joke and I may not have to change it later at all. But most importantly I kept writing instead of stopping and putting the thing away until I knew what I wanted to do. That's the mighty power of NaNoWriMo

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Word Count for NaNoWriMo

I'm around 23,000 words for NaNoWriMo. I almost hate to say this but it's been surprisingly easy this year. Of course easy is relative but the words are coming along pretty well and I'm too frazzled or freaked out.

Today I thought I would take the day off but I felt kind of bereft so I compromised by trying to write one hundred words for every chapter I read of a book. I got about 1500 words in and it was pretty painless. Let's hope I can keep this up.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Made a Chinese Bunny Say Hell

I was working on my column, this week about Jonathan Coulton, and I clicked his link to a really fun video of two Chinese boys lipsynching to the Back Street Boys (while a third boy in their dorm room ignores them completely.) From there I ended up at a Chinese website and clicked random shiny, pretty things until I came to a page that kept giving me error messages (that I couldn't read) until finally Cullen said he thought I should type something into the text box. I figured out that whatever I typed was probably going to show up over this rabbit's head so I typed "Hello, I speak no languages" but only the word "hell" showed up.

See that's what happens to you when you have an impossible deadline like NaNoWriMo. You teach cute, fuzzy, small, Asian animals to curse instead of writing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Thought About Douglass Clegg

I'm in the middle of reading a couple of books by Douglas Clegg. I finished the first one and now I'm on Nightmare Chronicles. I've read a couple of these stories before but if you had asked me I would have said that they were probably written by Clive Barker. Both men have a certain fondness for pain and cutting and torture in their writing. They tend to try and make this stuff erotic and sensual.

I have a news flash for them. Pain is not seductive when you live with it every day. It gets old pretty quickly. I cannot imagine anyone I know who lives with pain making the kinds of choices that these characters make. I'm just sayin'

Brooding About Genre and Word Count

I could make it sci fi. All I have to do is give my character a cure that doesn't currently exist, right? Is that all it takes? Genre is so strange and complicated I can't quite figure it out.

When I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year I ended up in the chick lit section, I guess because my story is told from the POV of a chick. I just switched it over to romance because it is glaringly obvious that this book is not the book I thought I was going to write.

I hit fourteen thousand words before I quit for the night last night. So far so good.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

NaNoWriMo and the Chronic Illness

I posted this at the NaNoWriMo boards this morning in a thread about writing with chronic illnesses. (My count is at 7200 if you are keeping track and the column is around 500 words.)

I've got a central nervous system disorder (intracranial hypertension or pseudotumor cerebri), asthma and chronic blood clots. My laptop makes NaNoing possible because I can lie down and type at the same time. Sounds ridiculous but it works for me.

I think the biggest problem I have is that I write a weekly entertainment column and this week I also have a feature article due on the 8th. When I get tired I get aphasic and since I am working on three projects at once (plus my regular full time job) I start feeling like the words are all jumbled together, as though puzzle pieces from three different jigsaw puzzles have all ended all over the floor and I'm supposed to make sense of them, but I can't even access them.

This is why I quit halfway through last year. I was away from my computer for a week (at the Fiddler's Green Sandman Convention) and came home to find out that the column idea had been greenlighted and I got so mentally bogged down doing both that I decided I had better stick with the project that already had a home, the column.

This year I wasn't sure if I was going to even try NaNoing because I'm still somewhat sad that I didn't finish last year, but I figure if I get really stressed out I can stop and then start again when I feel better.

The absolute best trick that works for me is laughing. No matter how sick I am (and since my illness mimics a brain tumor that's pretty sick) I always feel better if I laugh. I've got a very dear friend who can always make me laugh and can always make me feel better.

So what works for me is take breaks when my brain starts feeling like it's sprained, get support when I need it, and don't get down on myself for not having the word count where I want it to be. If I were to count my column and this article my word count would actually be about 2500 words higher at this point.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Twelve Straight Hours of Writing With What to Show for It?

I turned on my computer and started writing at 9:12 this morning. I worked on my NaNoWriMo entry and I worked on the article for Broker. I worked all day, taking a break to try to take bath, only to fall asleep while conditioning my hair.

I've got about 500 words for my article and 7100 for the book. I'd like to be further along with both of them but my goodness I am so tired.

Tomorrow is editing all the responses I got asking what the Grapevine means to people and hopefully more novel.

Here's the link to my latest column.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Day Four of NaNoWriMo

Day one I wrote about 2000 words. Day two I wrote about 2000 words.

Last night I worked on the article for Broker Magazine a little, wrote half my column and worked on the book. Around eight o clock I couldn't do anything anymore. I felt the way I did when I quit my novel last year, sick and headachey and most of all like my brain was sprained. It was like I forgot how to write or even think. Like my head was filled with rusty gears that would no longer turn. Like my head was so full of ideas and words that they were keeping the gears from turning. The words were so scattered that they were no use at all. So I picked up the phone and called my friend A.

He didn't pick up but then he called me back five seconds later. He'd been about to call me when I called him. He was in an extremely good mood and we immediately started talking about something we'd been discussing via email and as we talked I could feel the machinery starting to work again and the sick feeling fading and everything starting to feel all right. By the time he said he had to go I was feeling good and laughing like mad.

"Wait," I said. "My writing is stuck."

"What do you need? Character name? How to kill someone off? Need to get rid of a body?" he sounded like he was ready to go on for hours.

"No, I forgot how to write."

He snorted at me. "The words will come, they always do, just write damn it!"

And I went back to my column and wrote another 450 words, finishing up around nine and then I wrote 1100 words of the novel, for a total of 5100 words. That was an extremely cool experience.

Now I feel that way again so I'm taking a little break and letting the words settle down.

I've got to get that article done by Tuesday morning I think and then start my column for next week. It's a bit like being on an amusement park ride that you're not sure you like and you can't quite see where it ends.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trouble With Remembering Things Drives Me Crazy

I decided to try NaNoWriMo, while pretending that I am not. So for today I started Friday's column, did some research for the article due on the 8th and am planning to write 2000 words of a project I have been thinking about for a long time called The Fragmented Woman.

Of course I run into trouble immediately. I can't remember my plans for this book. I know I wanted it to be a script, ideally for John Cusack, I know it involves hoaxes, impersonations, a kidnapping that doesn't work and generally characters running riot and behaving badly. I know I had some very funny ideas. What were they? Don't know.

I can't even remember what you call the guy on the set in charge of the extras. This is so aggravating.