Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tactical mistake

I made a huge mistake last week. Time was going well. I knew what was supposed to happen and it was happening on plan.

Why, why, why did I go back to the beginning?

Actually I do know the answer. I finally figured out how Nat's gift works, and it's pretty cool. It's way more fun and interesting than it was in the beginning and it even has a touch of plausibility. I've been stuck all along on how it would be possible to see the future and not have the future be pre-determined. If you know what's going to happen, doesn't that imply that what's going to happen is fixed? I don't like determinism, I don't believe in it, but a logical proof of precognition would seem to require it. But I finally managed to wrap my brain around a way that Natalya could have foresight without violating the uncertainty principle, and even managed to bring in a nice use of the observer affect. Yay, physics.

So I went back to the beginning to fix the early references to her gift.

Gah. So much easier said than done. One little tiny change and yep, I've spent the past five days revising Chapter 1 for the ... I don't know how many-ith time.

I really wanted to have this book written and ready for beta readers by the first week of February. Instead I might have the first chapter finalized. I keep telling myself that as long as I persist, I will get there in the end. In the long run, persistence is what matters. And it'll be a better book because of all this. But I am seriously missing writing fan fiction where if something didn't work, a new episode would change everything anyway.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I dropped my computer on Friday.

It broke.

I realized almost immediately that I'd cursed myself. I told someone in a comment or email that A Gift of Time would be ready in March or April as long as I didn't lose any more time to colds or flu or minor disasters. Saying something like that is like asking for the universe to start laughing. Whoosh. Have a cold. Ooh, and here's the flu. Almost done with that? Okay, next up, minor disaster...hmm...I know, broken computer!

I'm so glad I specified minor.

Fortunately, I appear to be up and running again, and it was indeed minor. I thought I might have broken the power jack on the computer itself, but I got a new power cord and it works. Yay!

Several days without a computer though was...strange. I don't know that I would say that I'm addicted because that implies that it's optional in my life when the reality is that for me it's an essential tool for work and communication. I managed to do some useful household chores that I've been wanting to do--my bedroom has new curtains, which is something I've been intending to do for months--but I also spent a fair amount of time at a loss for what I ought to do next. Even my fallback entertainment options are linked to my computer. I read books on my computer, play games, watch television and movies, talk to friends. Anyway, I am quite glad to have it back and not just so I can start writing again.

Speaking of that, though, I tried to write on paper. With a pen. And no. Just no, no, no. I've thought more than once when I felt stuck that I should try going offline and writing in longhand, but...No. Not gonna happen.

This feels like a really boring blog post. I should probably title it that, for full disclosure early on. But I'm back online and wanted to type, so this is a little warm up to get me back to Natalya and Colin. :)

Friday, January 18, 2013


I've been pretty quiet for the past couple weeks: this is because January is off to a rocking start. (Not.)

R whined to me the other day that it just wasn't fair that he was sick again. I responded matter-of-factly that often when you're sick, your immune system is depleted and it makes it easier to get the next virus that comes your way. That was before I caught his latest virus and holy cow, it's a misery.

While the rest of the country wallows in coughs and sore throats, we're hovering by the bathrooms and discussing which foods might just possibly, maybe, not make us too much more miserable. My vast expertise in vomiting would be useful if I was willing to go to the grocery store to get us some nicer foods (popsicles! mint ice cream!) but meanwhile, we're debating the plain pasta vs plain eggs repertoire. Again and again and again. First time I've had a stomach virus that has lingered for more than 48 hours. I'm ready for my immune system to get itself back into gear.

Every once in a while a list of the things that are piling up drifts into the back of my head and I start to feel a little panicky. It's not that anything has a deadline of tomorrow, but the number of small and mildly urgent errands that I should be taking care of seems to have gotten scarily long. I think next week I will make a literal list so that I can start crossing things off.

Unsurprisingly my New Year's resolutions fell by the wayside. 20/10? What's that? 1000 words a day? Hahaha. But I decided today--possibly in a symptom of getting healthier, possibly just to relieve my sense of guilt--that I will start New Year's over again after Martin Luther King day, which is Monday. I sort of like the idea of MLK day being a day for saying, "Hey, you had great ideals and hopes, but they didn't quite work out the way they should have, now it's time to try again and do better this time." A fitting MLK quote: "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." Okay, so I'm quite sure that he wasn't talking about my personal struggle to get undepressed/motivated, but it still seems nicely fitting.

Oh, and the real reason I decided to write something today--it's Zelda's 9th birthday. Nine years old! I hate that number, although I like it better than double digits. Here she is with her siblings, eight years and several months ago. Of course she has a ball in her mouth.
IRL, she's staring at me now, trying to tell me that it's time to get off the computer and do something. She'd prefer a walk, but she's going to have to settle for a greenie. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

So many stories, so little time

I hit a point where I had to stop and think for a while in my writing today. I'm at an important scene, where the characters are emotional but also revealing for the first time the heart of the conflict between them, and I don't want it to wind up hokey. It's one of those times when the scene is so clear in my head that it's not creating, more transcribing, except I'm not getting it right. And it has to be right.

So I take a break. I decide to nap for an hour. Sometimes naps are just pretend sleep, where I'm closing my eyes in order to better imagine my world and sometimes they become real sleep, but either way, it's a Sunday afternoon and I need a chance to think a little.

Think a little about Natalya, that is.

Somehow I wound up, half imagining, half dreaming, Grace and Rachel. What are they doing in Seattle? How do they know each other? Did they even meet when Rachel was in Tassamara? Grace wasn't at the diner that night. And wait, shouldn't Rachel be in San Francisco with her mother?

But no, they're walking along a waterfront in Seattle. It's not Pike's Place market, but it's someplace I know. There's maybe a fish hatchery? A canal? I know it's familiar. The grass slopes down to a sidewalk and there's concrete and people and they're talking. Poor Rachel. She wanted a fresh start, but her D.C. neat perfection is an awkward fit in Seattle. Her clothes are wrong, her style is wrong. And she's at a school with boys, which is completely scary and strange. No one's mean to her, but it's like she's invisible. She might as well not exist. She can't ask her mom for help because she begged to go to public school. She can't tell her mom how unhappy she really is.

Oh, I just realized. Dillon sent Grace.

Huh. I wonder how?

I wonder why?

And mostly, I really, really wonder how Rachel and Grace wound up being the story in my head when I'm supposed to be thinking about Natalya and Colin?!

(Grace, incidentally, decides that they need to pick the girl whose style Rachel most likes and hire her. Not as a friend, because that would be awkward and creepy, but as a style consultant. Shopping ensues. I think Grace likes shopping. I have never shopped at anything other than a thrift store in Seattle in my life, so it just might be that Rachel's style consultant/future friend is a thrift store kind of shopper. That would sure be a change for Rachel.)

But what the heck are they doing in Seattle?

An hour past the end of my scheduled nap time, so it's time to get back to Nat and Colin. Or maybe start thinking about dinner. But it occurs to me that writing a story set in Seattle makes visiting Seattle a tax deduction, as long as I do some research.

Why Grace, though? Why not Akira? Well, no, she'd be useless. She's not good at making friends herself and she doesn't care about clothes much. And Sylvie...yep, equally useless. My subconscious got it right.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January 3rd--Books Free

It is an extremely weird and sort of surreal experience to be coasting through your RSS feed--which, in my case, is a very random conglomeration of science, politics, mommy blogs, writing, book reviews, friends, and World of Warcraft--and suddenly see your name in the title of a blog post.

It's like the internet just yelled at you.

Fortunately, for me, in this case, it was a nice yell. Mean Old Bat liked the characters, enjoyed the read, and gave it a C+, which from her is a solidly acceptable grade.

Anyway, I decided to use a free day so that any of her readers could pick them up if they felt so inclined, so tomorrow, January 3rd, both books and the short story will be free on Amazon. If you know anyone who might be interested, please feel free to spread the word. Thanks!

Happy New Year!

My resolution of last year was pretty simple: be kinder to myself and others.

I'd say I didn't really do so well at it. Not that I was unkind to anyone else, but then I'm generally not--it was more of a mental change I was looking for rather than an actual behavioral change. And mentally, wow, was I hard on myself last year. C'est la vie. I should probably keep trying, but it's not going to be my resolution again.

No, this year, my mental goal is to try to appreciate the moment. I started with "remember to appreciate the moment," but that's very in-your-head. I don't want to be thinking, "Enjoy this, this day will never come again." Instead, I want to be enjoying it. So that's the goal. Appreciate where I am. (At the moment, the dog is licking my foot with deep concentration. It tickles.)

On a few more practical goals, I'm going to start tracking word count. I made myself a little Excel spreadsheet. I've never done this before: I've never liked the focus. What good is it write 1000 words if the words go nowhere and do nothing? But in the interests of seriously cultivating better writing habits, I'm going to give it a try. (Resolution failure waiting to happen is when you say you'll "give it a try!" So maybe I'll be a little more specific--for the next two months, I will track my word count and if it's helpful to me, I'll continue.)

I'm also going to try to do a 20/10 every day. (If you're not a #UFYH follower, that means 20 minutes of cleaning, followed by 10 minutes of rest.) Every single day. There's always plenty to do--there are some deep goals, like cleaning out closets and the spare room and the garage that I never get to because they seem so overwhelming. So this year, when things are in shape, I'm not going to say, "well, it looks pretty good, I think I'll skip today." That way lies the descent into "ugh, how did this place become such a disaster area?" Instead I'll use my 20 minutes to tackle one of those seemingly irretrievable areas and/or to drive to Goodwill and donate.

Last, but not least, I'm going to really teach myself how to format ebooks. I've trusted in the software process so far, but I'm tired of never really feeling certain what's going on behind the scenes. I want to feel safe that my books are as perfect as I can make them and--okay, it's a little obsessive of me--I'll feel that way not by paying someone else but by knowing how to do it myself.

Do I have writing goals? Probably. Finish A Gift of Time for March release, finish A Gift of Grace with less pain and suffering than Time has already caused. Maybe write a couple more Akira short stories for the fun of it. I have to think that their wedding ought to have some associated drama. But I'm not going to stress too hard on those.

This year might be the very last year that R lives at home (or it might not, life is long and strange) and I want to be sure that my focus is on having a healthy life/family/work balance. I don't get these days back again. If I've spent them all grinding away trying to become a successful writer...well, honestly, I still think it seems really unlikely. Most writers can't earn enough to live on by writing except by making the 18-hour day commitment that JA Konrath and Bella Andre talk about. And for me, making that kind of commitment now means giving up something that matters more to me. Maybe it's worth it if being a professional writer is the only job you've ever wanted, but I've had plenty of other jobs I've enjoyed. Every job has trade-offs. The writer trade-off tends to be that it has to be the only thing you care about and for me, right now, that's just not how it is. Maybe in 2014--especially if R is living elsewhere--it will be.

So! 2013, here we are! May it be a joyful and lucky year for all of us.