Hey!  I want to thank all the folks out there who have wished me luck.  I think I’m gonna need it.  Last week was insane.  I do not think I have ever been so busy or tired at and after work before.  I’m a youth librarian, and we just had the grand opening for our new teen room on Wednesday.  There was so much last minute work to do, and then there was the party to host.  At the end of the day, the event was a success and the kids like their new space.  (And we like their new space, too, because when we shut the door to their new space, we can’t hear them :D)

So, how much writing did I do last week?  Needless to say, I have a grand total of 5 new pages.  I need to kick my butt into high gear.  What I really need are some days where I don’t have to do anything else but write.  I have a few coming up and I hope to get a lot done then.  I’m still excited, and still think I can beat this challenge.

In fact, I want to extend the challenge to other authors out there.  Let’s race.  Send me a line and let me know if you want to do it!

race

impossible

I’m back and ready for a challenge.

I never was good at keeping diaries or journals.  I wondered how long I would be faithful to doing a blog entry at last once or twice a week.  Answer: About 6 months, lol.  Well, now I vow to do better.  I am challenging myself in two ways.  Way 1: I will blog at least once a week.  Way 2:  Well this one’s the big challenge.

I know a lot of people know about NaNoWriMo where you pledge yourself to write 50,000 words in a month.  Well, a great writer by the name of Stephen King wrote one of my favorite writers craft books.  I don’t really read those things anymore, as I had a writing teacher once say something wonderful: The best way to learn to write in your genre is to READ in your genre, and read a lot.  Many rules and grammar lessons and such just don’t apply, especially as current trends in your genre are constantly evolving.  And, sometimes writers craft books are boring.  If you feel like you’re doing homwork, suddenly writing is not fun.  I ran into that rut for a while.  Writing became work and no play.

But anyways, I digress, Stephen King says writers should get all of their first drafts out in a month or you lose focus and intensity on what you’re writing.  I find the longer it takes me to get a work out the more spread out my ideas become and I have to do a lot of “tightening” up editing.  I’ll use my fan fiction as an example because I have finished fan fiction stories. ;). I find that the fan fics I finish in 4-6 weeks are tighter with better structure and more consistency than the ones I take a year to finish.  Mostly because my writing style is always growing, so you can tell what I wrote in January from what I wrote in May, and mainly because my interest in the project wans over time.  By the end of the year, I’m thinking about and working on different projects, so my focus is split.

So, I challenge myself.  I have gone back to a project I shelved for a very long time (7 years).  It is a novel that I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid, but I put it away because I let a lot of people tell me it was implausible and no good.  I’ve reworked the concepts and characters and I wanna try it again.  I’m very excited, but I also don’t want this to become another 6 year project.  (My last book took that long and now the edits are taking forever because… well, the writing differs in places and it’s too spread out due to me writing parts of it over the course of years).

So, here’s the bet: I bet that my novel, The Fourth Piece, will have a complete first draft by my birthday on April 10th.  I have given myself 4 weeks (1 month) to deliver.  If I loose, well, you guys can throw net bananas at me.  I will blog at least once a week to report my status.

Whoo, four weeks.  I can do it, I can do it.  When I’m not distracted, I’m a fast writer, and I have a bit of an outline to go off of.  Well, wish me luck and ice cream for banana splits.

You guys take care!

challenge sign

So, I’m trying to write a sequel.  It started off great, and now I’m stuck.  I’ve been going to a weekly writers group and a few of them say I give too much back story away too soon, but then I have other people say I don’t give enough back story away soon enough… and I’ve had people say: Hey, I think you’ve found the perfect balance.

I am trying to stop myself from revising every time I read back through the work to figure out where I am.  Too much revision keeps you from finishing anything, or makes a 6-month project turn into a six-year project.  It took me four years to write the first one, I do NOT want to take that long for the sequel.  I gave myself a 3 month goal.  I think I can do it, if I could just get over this sticky patch.

I’m actually outlining to see if that can help me out.  We’ll see.

Okay, now it’s rant time.  The security alarm in my apartment still doesn’t work and guess what it decided to do ALL day and ALL night last night?  Chirp! Chirp-chirp-chripity-chirp chirp!  Chirp! Chirp! CHIRP! Chirp! Chirp.

Did I sleep?  No.

Did I have to get to work early this morning?  Yes.

I called the complex and they gave me a code that is supposed to make it stop.

If it doesn’t work ye all shall see me on the news.

 

Yay, I heard back from the agent I sent my full manuscript and synopsis to.  She took exactly one month from the day that I sent it to her.  She didn’t give me a standard form letter; she wrote me a nice, brief, note.  She said that while I am a promising new author she felt that she could not empathize with the main character enough to be able to champion her story. 

I take that as positive feedback.  She didn’t say: Yuck, this sucks.  Or you need to read these craft book or revise.  She just said: You’re good, but this isn’t my cup of tea.  Good luck!  Lol.  So, now it’s time to decide who to send to next.  I really should start sending out to more than one place at a time.  In fact, I think I will this time.  I already know one place I’ll send it to next; I’ll hit up The Writers Market for some more.  I’ll try to do a submission a week :D. 

And while I’m doing that, I will not stop writing.  I will keep writing my sequel, and hopefully finish it before the summer is up and move on to the last book.  I just feel like I should have so much more material than I do.  Once I get my apartment in order (oh, by the way, the rest of my stuff got here today, WHOOO), I will be able to concentrate more on writing. 

Okay, I’m about to discover the joy of unpacking… again.  But yay to hearing back from another agent, and getting a personalized note.  And once again, I say:

NEXT!

 

 

I love the airport in Fort Lauderdale and their hospitality towards those with late flights.  I flew to Texas early Sunday morning and came back to Florida late Monday night, or really early Tuesday morning.  My flight landed at 12:30 am.  I got off the plane and went to the restroom and before I even rolled down my pants, the overhead com came on: Hello passengers from Flight 51.  Your baggage has been unloaded.  Hurry to baggage claim or we’ll close and your suitcases will spend the night with us and you can come get them in the morning.  Translation: Get your stuff and get out!

So, I rush to baggage claim, joining a crowd of people from my late flight, only to stare at empty baggage carousels.  Our luggage hadn’t even been put out yet.  Airport personnel just wanted to corral us all in one place, so they could start locking down.  The bags come out and once the last bag is out, they cut the power to the carousels, so we had to walk around looking for our bags instead of having them revolve around us.

Message: You don’t have to go home, but you got to get the hell up out of here!

So, anyway… back to flying to the Lone Star State.  I took a 7:00 am flight that should have gotten me to Dallas Love Field by 10:40 am.  I got there about noon, rented a huge van and drove back to my old apartment.  Once inside, I discovered that I had left behind more stuff than I thought, and it might not all fit in the van.  I repacked and, with a friend, crammed as many boxes as I could into the van.  I woke up the next morning to make two trips to Greyhound to drop off my boxes.

Let me tell you something awesome.  I used this company called busfreighter.com.  You tell them how many boxes you have and approximately how much everything weighs together and they tell you how much it will cost.  I estimated that I had 65 boxes and that each box weighed about 40 pounds: total of 2600 pounds.  That cost about 1600 bucks.  Busfreighter.com sends you shipping labels via e-mail the next day, you tape them to your boxes, and then you drop them off at Greyhound.  Well… I got to Greyhound, they weighed my stuff piece by piece, and the total weight was… 956 pounds.  Busfreighter.com has a policy: if you underestimate the weight of your shipment, they will charge you for the extra poundage.  If you overestimate the weight and pay too much, no refund.  Noooooo!  So, I called them and explained and they generously said: Well, since you were more than 200 pounds off (hell yeah, I was), we will see what we can do about a refund.

Sigh, even if they don’t (and I pray that they do) I still will have paid less to move than I would have had I stuck with those good for nothing movers.

Ah well, now I’m back in Florida, awaiting my multitude of boxes to arrive.  Joy.  More unpacking.

😀

Remember the pee-pee smell of my carpets and me accusing the previous tenant of owning a dog and not telling anyone he did?  Well, my apartment complex insists that the previous resident insists he didn’t have a dog.  So, I really wanted to say: So what you’re saying is the previous resident himself peed on the carpets, because I certainly didn’t do it. 

But anyway, that’s beside the point.  So… the previous resident claimed he didn’t have a dog.  Well, that previous resident really should have had his mail forwarded.  I checked my mailbox for the first time today.  The box was so crowded with mail I could barely get it all out, and only three letters were for me.  The rest were for Ryan Dugan.  Let’s see, I got bank statements, credit statements, investigative reports… and oh, a reminder that his precious dog is overdue for his rabies shot, please bring him to the clinic soon.  Thanks.   Busted!

I think I’m going to take that to management and see if they’ll discount my rent or pull up the carpets.  I doubt it, but I wonder what they’ll say anyway. 

Tomorrow is my first library program at my new job.  I’m kicking off the Teen Writers Group, and I had some teens say they were interested in coming.  Wish me luck on my first lesson.  I hope the kids like it and will want to come back.

 

I used to think I was just MS Word stupid or a jinx, but after doing some net research I have come across many a message board with people ranting and raving about how MS Word sucks.

It is very hard to submit a manuscript in the format an agent asks for when MS Word has trouble even putting the manuscript in normal format.  My documents end up with these huge paragraph sized gaps at the end of the page, because MS word doesn’t want to break up paragraphs, and I end up having the manually drag the ruler down on each page.  I know some sites say: Oh easy fix, take off word wrap, make sure Widows and Orphans is on.  Well it’s off, and it’s on, and MS Word still sucks. 

Now, MS Word has decided that it’s forgotten how to measure margins.  I set it for 1 inch margins on all sides and it gives me insanity.  I am going to have to get a real ruler and stick it up to my monitor to measure my own margins to make sure MS Word is behaving.  I just don’t get it.  There’s nothing like getting 50 pages into a document only to notice… WTF… that margin doesn’t look 1 inch.  Highlight everything, check it, it says it’s one inch… BUT IT’S NOT! 

I miss Word Perfect.  That was my favorite word program, but nowadays they make it MS Word or nothing.  I used to take Word Perfect files and convert them to MS Word, but it ends up putting funny formatting into the document and I’d have to go through and manually edit them.  

Okay, enough of the MS Word rant… but hey, the reason why I’m ranting is because I’m… WRITING.  Yes, that’s right.  I have actually come up with the rationale behind the sequel to my first book, and am ready to outline the plot.  Funny thing about me, I usually get well into the bowels of a piece before I decide to outline, lol.  I know I’m backward, but writing the chapters inspire the outlines for me, not the other way around.  I used to write my papers like that, too.  I never outlined anything, and if teachers required for us to turn in an outline of our papers, I’d take my already written paper and use it to make the outline.

Well, wish me luck. 

Oh, and if the agent that requested my manuscript really only takes a month, then I should be hearing something about if she likes or hates my manuscript soon.  I’ll keep you posted!

Literally.  Okay, so my new apartment is starting to look like someone lives here.  There are clear walkways, and I have a desk and chair.  I built them this evening.  (Yes, I have a tool box with real tools in them.  Okay, so the tool kit is pink and so are the tools, but hey, they’re awesome! And for your information I paid 10 extra dollars for those tools to be pink 😛 ) Anyway, as I built my complicated Office Max desk, I noticed that the screws and holes they were meant to go into weren’t quite the same size.  Meaning my hand drill vibrated and grunted while the screws said: Haha, sucker, I’m not going any deeper into this hole.  May your desk wobble!  And to top off the screws not all fitting in the holes, there were several screws missing.  I used substitiute screws… and there’s still one mysterious hole with no screw to go in it and no extra joint.  Hmm.   (The finished product looks good, though, and is still standing, even with my computer on it.  Now… it may fall down in the night, but I’m about to knock on wood).  

Tomorrow, I’m building my home entertainment center to put my itty-bitty TV on.  Everyone laughs at my 19 inch TV, but I think he’s cute.  Hmph. 

I’m starting to like it here in Florida.  I think I really just needed the weather to lighten up.  It had rained every day since I moved in on Saturday.  I went on a little walk to the store across the street, careful not to walk in the grass.  I’m still afraid of the Florida critters, and it might be a while before I’m brave enough to walk on the trails. 

Also, the people at my apartment complex might actually come in and fix my foyer light and give me new dishwasher racks (after coming in twice and doing nothing).  I also discovered that a cheap Bissel vaccuum cleaner that I bought for 20 bucks, works better than a Dirt Devil I bought for 49. Grr!

Er… and as for writing… hey, I thought about doing some today :D.  I have been brainstorming like crazy, and I think after my apartment is all put together, and I’m totally moved out of my apartment in Texas (I fly back this weekend to get the rest of my stuff), I’ll start cranking out chapters again.  I was on a writing roll right before I moved. 

 

Cartoons are misleading. In cartoons raccoons are cute, and sweet. Now, I know that image can’t be too reflective of real life because those cute, sweet raccoons usually wore clothing. Real raccoons are not cute, are not sweet, are naked…. and are HUGE!  I had a classmate who had a raccoon phobia.  I laughed at him… now I take it back.

I pulled into my apartment after work a night ago. It’s nice and dark and my headlights shine on something strolling across the grass in front of the bushes. I think: Oh, someone’s dog is out. Beady little eyes catch the light and my own eyes widen. It’s a German Shepard-sized raccoon.

I sit in the car, hoping it will go away. Instead, it strolls over to the stairs–the stairs I need to take to get to my apartment. I wait a little longer, then get my stuff out of the car. I peep to see if the racoon is still there, and see that he’s ducked into the bushes… right by the stairs. I creep toward the stairs, stop, eye the raccoon, count to three, and break into a run.

**Shudder**

Anyone else here born in the 80’s? You guys remember the Care Bear Cousins? One of my favorite Cousins was Bright Heart Raccoon.

Not A Raccoon

A Raccoon

**Shaking my head**

Yes!  I have cable, phone and… INTERNET!  I will never take having internet in my home for granted again.  I don’t know how other people do it.  I felt so disconnected.  Getting online at work is just not the same :(. 

My apartment feels a little home-like now.  Maybe I’ll be more comfortable once the rest of my stuff gets here, I build the furniture I bought for the office, get something for the living room, and maintenance comes to wash the smell of urine from my carpets.  I was so embarrassed when the technician from Comcast had to sit in the living room with that pee-pee smell trying to get my internet to work correctly.  I had to tell him that the previous tenant must have had an animal that peed everywhere and didn’t report it to the apartment, so he wouldn’t think that I was nasty and I had peed on the rug.  And I was glad I did, because once I did, his expression changed.  Oh, man… lol.

So… just wanted to give that update.  Today is my day off from work, but I have lots of errands, and maybe even handiwork to do.  By the end of the month, I’m hoping I will settled in and less homesick.  I never thought I’d say this when I finally got out of the Lonestar State, but… I miss Texas with its cleanliness regulations, normal streetlight configuratons, HEB’s, and Krogers….  I miss real suburbs where police officers don’t get into shoot-outs with their neighbors and gated communities meant rich people didn’t want you on their grass.  Here, it means the neighborhood is bad and manned gate is to keep the thugs from getting in… or getting out, without being seen. 

Oh well, I’m sure in a month, I’ll be singing about loving the Sunshine State… though there sure hasn’t been much sunshine since I’ve been here.  Oh, and the horror stories.  Florida has CREATURES.  Hurricane Andrew blew down a serpent zoo and released boa constrictors that eat alligators in the swamps.  There are iguanas the size of dogs that live in trees.  Hares, not rabbits, that attack, and raccooons that play in your swimming pools.  There are lizards that look like little alligators with curly tails and child-sized opossums.  Oh, and we can’t forget if you go out in the Sticks, they’ve got people who keep lions and tigers and ostriches as pets and let them roam the land, checked only by fences that they can easily leap. 

We’ll talk about yellow water next time :).