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NaNoWriMo: Eleventy-‘Leven

11 Nov

I’m up to 9400-ish words in NaNo Land. Almost halfway to where I’m supposed to be. But I’m catching up.

I finally felt like posting an excerpt on the NaNoWriMo site today. Might be the migraine meds affecting my judgement. I put the entire (unedited) first chapter up. I shall similarly afflict you, my dear readers, here and now.

Maybe I feel like, since I’m so behind quota, I need to prove I’ve written anything.

The first draft of the first chapter of my third NaNoWriMo project, The Tale of the Fugitive Phantasmic Oracle (plus its quick synopsis):

Synopsis

A twelve-year-old runaway decides to pay “rent” on his woodland hideout by becoming fairy godkid to the family who owns the land – eavesdropping in order to grant wishes, serve as a human Ouija board, and perform anonymous good deeds from the tree tops. However, his “magic” keeps leading to disaster, winter’s on the way, and rumors are spreading that could lead to discovery by the stepfather he’d hoped to escape.

Excerpt

Catskill Mountains, 1962

Mid-tackle, feet in the air, Jim realized this was the stupidest thing he’d ever done. But it was too late. Cartoon characters could stop time, could backpedal and change direction as they fell.

Jim Scott was no cartoon character.

A blur of trees, and then he slammed into the taller of the two boys with bone-crunching pain. It was pretty much for sure that he’d exploded, broken into shrapnel the color of idiot would-be kid hero. Was the other guy made of granite or something? He waited for the thunder of falling stone followed by the patter of a zillion shards of No Good Jim Scott. He was flabbergasted to hit the ground with more of a roll and a thud, just two guys. Meat and bone.

Probably intact.

But who knew?

He was blind; he was numb. All he knew was the bitter smell of adrenaline and the roaring in his ears. For a moment. Then the pain came back with a vengeance. But the silence stretched out.

Confused, Jim blinked and opened his eyes. He was on a bark-padded trail through the woods he’d found on the far side of the ridge from his house. He’d never tried the path before. He’d rather stick to the trees above and feel invisible. He didn’t come here for company.

On his left stood the two little girls this pair of guys had been menacing. On his right stood the shorter (but stockier) of the two boys. They were a matching set of giant eyes and mouths. He could almost see tonsils.

He looked down at the villain he still straddled, and the world went more topsy-turvy upside down and vomitorious than before. Was he insane? This wasn’t a guy. Blond hair that half-covered blue cat-like eyes, long lashes, high cheekbones.

He’d tackled a girl.

Then the girl’s limp body went rigid as stone again, and Jim found himself back in the air, this time landing on his back in the mulch at the edge of the path. She’d thrown him as easily as a rag doll, and now towered overhead, one foot on his chest.

Jim took another look. Adam’s apple, wide shoulders, muscular arms, and a face that was a lot sharper without the initial surprise.

Jim drew a breath of relief. Thank god. Definitely a guy.

A quick scramble and he was back in the fray.

He’d climbed over the ridge of the hill a few minutes earlier, escaping trouble back at home, and from up above he’d seen the two girls cowering and clinging together, he’d heard boyish voices shouting and gloating. Skulking around the trees, Jim had come into view of the boys. They held ropes, sticks, and the taller one held a black sphere that looked like a bomb. He’d grinned as he passed his hand over it like some explosive crystal ball, and he said, “Beat the wenches? Or just drag them to their doom in the caverns?”

His friend had yawned and said, “What’s quickest? I’m ready for lunch.”

That set the girls screaming, and Jim had thrown himself into the fight.

Now he stood facing down the tall guy, hands in fists, but the guy broke the stare first, turning toward the girls as the ruddier one pointed at the black ball, which had rolled a few feet away, and called to Jim. “Bash his head in with it!”

The other girl, pale and hollow-eyed, whimpered.

The first girl looked at Jim and jumped up and down. “Ooh! No. Never mind. Let me do it!”

Were even the little girls savages over here? Jim almost felt admiration, then he blinked out of it. The guy was distracted. It was now or never. What the hell. He’d already started it with the tall guy. No looking back.

And the guy’d been after the girls. He deserved it.

Another launch of his body, fueled by righteous fury, and he knocked the guy to the ground again, this time from behind. Grabbing the guy’s hair, he shoved his face into the splinters and pebbles of the path.

Everyone was yelling now. Jim was squished by a new weight on his back, and a strong arm around his neck showed the other guy had finally joined the fight. Jim refused to suffocate or have his head torn off, though. He kicked, struggled, and got the tall guy in a similar headlock. The three of them punched, kicked, and strangled their way down the path. Must have been rolling because Jim started noticing the side of his head scraping against the dirt, and when they finally stopped, the tall guy was on top, choking and wheezing, but he didn’t give in to Jim’s attack. He just gasped, “My spleen! You’ve turned it to jelly.”

Shocked out of his fury, Jim almost laughed. Then he felt his brutal grip on the boy, remembered the kick he’d just delivered to the guy’s back, and he balked. His mouth filled with spit. He was going to throw up. Muscles turning to water, he let go, and the stocky guy finally managed to pick him off, throw him to the path, and help the tall one to his feet. The tall guy wiped at his mouth and turned, face streaked dark with mud but not so much that it hid his expression of utter disbelief, something even Jim understood and recognized. He couldn’t believe himself.

Jim closed his eyes and curled up on the ground, reeling and trying to breathe. Confusion. It was day; it was night. He saw this guy’s face; saw another face with stubble and broken veins. He felt each blow he’d delivered like it was happening to him.

Then it really was. Kicks, punches, and rocks hit him. The guys were back.

But the voice was wrong.

Jim twisted, tried to sit up and look. The blows continued, but through his flinches he saw the two guys standing a few yards away and laughing. Standing over Jim was the girl who’d wanted him to bash in a skull with the black thing, and she was livid. Maybe she’d meant she wanted to bash in his head.

He tried to say something in his defense but wasn’t fast enough. Talking was never his strong suit, and that power went away altogether when fists were flying. All that came out was, “Hey! Hey! Hey!”

“Get off my brothers!” The girl slowed but didn’t stop her punches.

Blocking her as well as he could, he forced words. “They were hurting you.”

She stopped punching him. But then she went right back to it. “You moron! It was a game! Are you that nuts?”

The stocky guy helped Jim stand and shooed away the girl. Up close, he could see that this guy was older than the others, even if he wasn’t tallest. Maybe a high schooler. He’d guess the tall guy was closer to his own age. Twelvish. The girls seemed a few years younger. Embarrassing as that was, since one had beat him up.

The tall boy stared at Jim – lofty and cool but with half a squint and a crease between his brows. He was half turned to go, but he didn’t move. Stayed a tall blond statue. With dirt and scrapes all over his pretty face.

“Just trying to help,” Jim muttered. “Didn’t know.”

Nothing.

The stocky guy chuckled, though. He put on a pair of thick glasses and said, “C’mon, Amie. That’s enough. Laura? You okay?” Gathering the two girls, the rope, and the weapons, he headed west down the path, calling “You coming, Robin?”

The tall boy – apparently named Robin – blinked and frowned. After a pause, he said, “I believe the saying goes, ‘Look before you leap,’ my dear little fox.”

As Jim scowled, rubbing his bark-covered red hair, getting the taunt, Robin bent and lifted the black ball. He held it up – just a toy, one of those Magic-8 Ball fortune tellers he’d seen in the back of a comic book. He looked hard at Jim then shook the ball, flipped it over and read something in the circular window at the bottom. A smirk and a nod. “Yeah. Just like I thought.”

Down the path, his brother shouted, “Robin!”

Robin stepped closer, and Jim recoiled. Too close. He didn’t like people to be so close. Except, apparently, when he was beating on them.

Robin darted his hand toward him, and Jim managed not to bolt. But his cool broke when Robin tugged on his t-shirt, showing how it was torn from hem to arm pit. Jim spun, yelping against his will. No touching. No touching. He couldn’t make his breath slow down.

Robin was silent. Jim turned his head to look at him.

“Did we do all that to you?” Robin tilted his head as though trying to see around to Jim’s front again. His lofty, princely tone was gone. Games over.

“Screw you.” Jim pulled the shirt tighter to cover the sea of cuts and bruises, many faded and scarred.

When he looked up again, Robin curled his lip and shoved the Magic 8-Ball into the pocket of his now-rumpled, scuffed great coat. Jim noticed that he wore similarly destroyed, expensive looking boots. Coat billowing behind him, Robin strode down the trail toward the others, only turning back just before reaching a bend to glare. Then he disappeared.

May the Beats Be Ever in Your Favor

10 Apr

Jennifer Lawrence will play Katniss Everdeen in the upcoming film

Okay.

A little embarrassed by my fangirl squeeing over Hunger Games last weekend.

But…

Yes…

I read the whole damn series again this week.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta

In my defense, this time I was reading it with a critical eye, looking for technical elements — how she set up the plot, her sentence structure, et cetera. I’m still amazed at how well she grabs the reader and never lets go, not for an instant. There’s always a sense of peril. Safe times are found only in retrospect, in that, “Okay, I guess it really was okay after all,” kind of way. But you don’t believe it at the time because everything and everyone is suspect. Blake Snyder talks about how a character’s goals and stakes must be primal at their root — love, survival, hunger, protection, sex… It doesn’t get much more primal than this!

It took me until the second book to realize the story was written in present tense. Unbelievable. That’s usually something I notice in the first paragraph and have to grit my teeth to get past.  She executed it perfectly, I think, and it could not have suited the anxious, fast-paced immediacy of the story better.

On second reading, I was equally engrossed. Only in the third book did I start skimming. Exposition galore. Necessary, though, I suppose. We’re in a new place with new rules.

I do wish the last bits of the series were a little more fleshed out instead of summarized, but I guess it couldn’t go on forever.

M. Howalt — you asked in the comments last week what made the series compelling. My friend Samantha wrote an excellent post on the series here. Check it out. I agree with everything she says (and am clearly still fangirling because I got happy chills reading the title of her article, heh).

***

In my personal realm, I remain a foggy-headed, migraine-laden hermit. Gotta snap out of that somehow, someday.

But, hey, it hasn’t been a total waste. Besides falling in love with a series (which is such a great feeling), I also managed this:

My novel! All in one place! All the pieces! (Although some are vague [solves problem] or drawn in broad strokes.) Redoing  the major beats on red cards was a treat. I’m an office supply junkie and a visually-oriented person. The red cards make it feel concrete and prove to me that it’s not all an amorphous smear of a cloud. It has the bones! Look! Right there! 😉

Look at Act One — so many cards. Look at the second half of Act Two, so few cards. Not that big a deal, I think. The second half of Act Two is where I’ve drawn in broad strokes, labeling major elements. I think I pretty much  wrote the entire first act on the cards up there! Lots of details that don’t need to be there. I’m still figuring all of this out, though.

The pirate ship was already there, an unintentional metaphor for how my sons like to shoot cannons of distraction at me at all hours of the day.

Life in the Bermuda Triangle

9 Mar

What do you get when you combine the following?

  • strep throat
  • lingering influenza
  • migraines
  • an emergency root canal, extraction, crown, and fillings for one’s kindergartner
  • a husband working long painful hours
  • a broken axle followed by a complete engine fail on one of your two (aging) cars (leaving you stranded since said husband has the other car with him at work day and night)
  • ongoing deposits of mutilated rabbit parts in your side yard from some unknown predator*
  • etc.

My month! Woohoo!

It’s all made extra special by the fact that we owe $$$ in taxes this year, and that we have a bad, bad, bad case of The Economy, doing things previously unknown outside of games like Monopoly or Life. So, yeah, this one-car situation? It’s gonna last.

Yummy.

Nevertheless, things go on. I haven’t had a single speck of inspiration for blogging, and I’ve been kind of caving it from the outside world (working on a long hermit beard), but I’ve been reading like crazy, and, better, I’m writing. Nothing special. Nothing good. Nothing important. And that makes it all the better. I just sit down, dim-minded, and I go, just see what happens. I’ve written 22k words over the past two weeks. I’m grateful. It’s made a big difference.

I also have the distraction of American Idol — hours of frothy television I’m actually happy to watch this year. Let us never speak of last year again. (And, if anyone cares, I’m rooting for James Durbin and Casey Abrams.)

So, relevancy shall return, but, for now, I leave you with a few funnies. First, a short from Britanick Comedy. Second, an ad that makes me happy — cats with thumbs!

*[ETA: The predator revealed itself today — a redtail hawk who ate two pigeons in our yard to entertain my children.]

Life Is Good (My 1st Blog Award)

26 Jan

I received my first blog award this week. Thank you to Tony Benson, luthier, musician, and writer. (Check out his blog at Fireside Park.)

The requirements of this award are:

  1. First, thank and link back to the person that gave the award.
  2. Answer the 10 survey questions.
  3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.
  4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the award.

The ten questions are:

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you are not anonymous, do you wish that you had started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

I’ve gone back and forth. I have a family blog that detailed my son’s pediatric melanoma and its treatment. That was public and under my real name.

When I started writing fiction, however, I was shy and wanted to stay anonymous. Plus, how cool is a pseudonym? Made me feel like a real writer. I chose Bridget Carle because it’s like my real name turned upside down and backward. After a while, though, I relaxed. Why not use my real name? I can still use Bridget Carle on a novel, should I ever get published. (Especially if my antagonists turn out too much like my ex. Heh!) Right now, I’m happy being me. Guess it’s time to update the About section…

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

Right now, the attempt to answer this question. My mind is stubbornly refusing to come up with an example although I know my stubbornness to be inner, outer, and all over the place.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Someone who’s really grumpy about having to be up so early, getting dressed, and taking the kids to school. Not a morning person. No sir-ee.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Diet cola. Any season. Love the stuff. I can’t drink it anymore, though. The sweeteners give me headaches. Also, once I start drinking it, I drink tons. Gets expensive.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I nap, I write, I stare into space — anything quiet and private. I’m a hardcore introvert and need that time alone to recharge. I also like to take long baths and sing along with my iPod. LOUDLY.

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

I want to be a happy, satisfied (and hopefully good) writer, whatever that might mean. Maybe it will mean getting published. Maybe it will mean never publishing but always having the words and ideas pour forth so I can maintain that writer’s high. I’d like it to include eager readers. It will have to mean a good family life.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

I was SHY. I tried my best to be invisible so other kids wouldn’t crush me. But I had a close-knit group of friends that stuck together from fourth grade through the end of high school. Among ourselves, we were loud, giggly, and boy/girl crazy.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

Being told that my father didn’t survive a  heart attack, having to say goodbye to his body when I’d just waved a cheerful goodbye to him a few hours earlier when he left my house for home. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what it meant that he was gone. I still don’t think I get it.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

It’s easy for me to share myself in a blog — so easy that I have to edit myself. It’s much more difficult to talk about others or try to teach a concept. I see too many shades of gray, know there’s so much more to another person’s story that what I see. I don’t say that to sound wise or virtuous. I’m just afraid of being wrong or getting beat up. 😉 I’m working on blogging about writing methods and/or tips, but I need to find the confidence. I don’t feel I have the least bit of authority to be telling others what to do when I’m just flailing in the muck, learning on the fly.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Read. I have a severe phone phobia. Really bad. It’s all on my end, though. I love to get calls, just can’t make them.

I’d like to pass the award on to writer/blogger M. Howalt, who has been a frequent commenter on my blog. It makes my day every time someone steps forth from the fog of anonymous statistics to wave or say hi or talk about my entries. More importantly, the mysterious M has a great blog full of thoughtful, useful posts. Do check it out.

(The questions were surprisingly tough to answer. Sorry to take so long, Tony.)

NPR Fail & A New Writing Contest

24 Jan

By Nevit Dilmen (Own work)

I had a story planned for the NPR challenge — a silly idea based on characters from my WIP. I was poised to write, and then — kabam — a migraine came a-calling. Hey Imitrex man!

By the time I slept off the nasty side effects and scribbled a first draft, it was too late.  The deadline was forty minutes in the past, and I was forty words over limit. Besides…first draft.

My husband did finish and submit a story! I’m really proud of him. And jealous.

***

In other news, there’s a new contest, and I’m flailing because I want to participate but don’t know that I’m ready.

For those of my writer-readers who possess courage and a polished first paragraph (not to mention enough of a manuscript to enjoy the prizes), check out former literary agent Nathan Bransford’s The Fourth Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge! (Gotta love the name.)

The grand prize…

The opportunity to have a partial manuscript considered by [Nathan Bransford’s] utterly fantastic agent, Catherine Drayton of InkWell, whose clients include bestselling authors such as Markus Zusak (THE BOOK THIEF), John Flanagan (THE RANGER’S APPRENTICE series) and Becca Fitzpatrick (HUSH HUSH), among others.

Other prizes include a signed copy of NB’s novel and a query critique.

Click on the link above to read the rules and/or enter. Good luck! You may see me there. Not sure. My first paragraph is pretty, but I’m not sure it’s compelling.

***The gif of the radiometer has nothing to do with anything. I just liked it. Purty.

The opportunity to have a partial manuscript considered by my utterly fantastic agent, Catherine Drayton of InkWell, whose clients include bestselling authors such as Markus Zusak (THE BOOK THIEF), John Flanagan (THE RANGER’S APPRENTICE series) and Becca Fitzpatrick (HUS

I Require an Aslan Doorknocker

21 Jan

Dear Certain Moms at My Sons’ School,

I look like Attila the Hun in sweats or basic crewneck t-shirts and jeans. That’s why I don’t wear them like everyone else. You’re younger, thinner, and richer. I’m older. I get to dress weird. So don’t give me those looks.

Also, the reason you have to honk at me to move forward in line while dropping off my son is not because I’m stupid and using the phone or texting. It’s because I’ve been idling for twenty minutes and started reading my Nook and got pulled in by the pretty writing and forgot where I was. So I’m stupid and using a device — but literarily. You see the difference now. And don’t give me that look.

Thank you for your time

***

- NarniaWeb.com

My first grader is reading The Chronicles of Narnia right now, and I’m just giddy. Mr. Untitlement read the first few books to them at bedtime, and my son read Prince Caspian on his own. Now he’s on to one of my favorites: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I took him to see the movie the other day.

Which leads me to wonder…

Why is there no Voyage of the Dawn Treader play set? Where is the toy ship with the plastic people and talking mouse? Where is the plastic Eustace As Dragon figurine?

Thimbles and thunderstorms!

All the toys are from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Prince Caspian. They have a plastic version of every critter in the battle from PC, but no Dawn Treader? Come on!

I fell in love with a set of Aslan/White Witch bookends during my shopping quest, however. Must save up. Gollum and the Watchers of Rauros are getting lonely. (I’m entering my forties. It’s mandated by law that I collect figurines as I age. I’m going to make mine as strange as possible, though, and imagine them lurking in dark corners of an imagined future home library where all the books have gilded spines. If The Stand had figurines, I’d… Well, I’d probably avoid those. M-O-O-N — that spells nevermind.)

Weeklong migraines are not good for me.

Shorter, more useful posts soon.

Ears Spiting Faces All over the Place!

20 Jan

Imitrex is a cruel mistress. Perhaps that’s why it shares so many letters with dominatrix. (Oh boy, the hits I’ll be getting now.)

It’s a gamble. It’s a deal with the devil. (Again. Devil. Dominatrix. If I get a zillion hits a day for Tigger when I’ve never even typed that word until just now, merely posted Eeyore’s picture… Hello, future misled search engine victims!)

ANYway.

Here’s the thing with Imitrex. It takes your migraine and sucks it right out of your head. No more migraine. Yay! Miracle!

HOWEVER, the makers of the drug are clearly fans of stories like “The Monkey’s Paw”. Its help comes at a cost.

Imitrex takes your migraine from your head — miracle — and crams it into every other cell of your body — the horror! At least, that’s what it does to me. No headache, but my skin hurts, my muscles hurt, I get puffy, my throat aches, I can’t eat or drink, my jaw feels tense and achy, my heart beats strangely, I feel heavy as granite. Oh, the fun we have! It’s still better than a migraine, but it’s crushingly awful for the first hour or two.

Oh, and tee hee hee — you must, simply must, take it at the very first sign of a migraine. Since I don’t get auras or any of those signs, it means I have to take it at the first sign of a headache. But what if it’s a normal headache and will go away with Tylenol? Then I won’t have to suffer psychedelic assault and battery for no good reason. But if I take Tylenol and it doesn’t help, by the time I know that, it will be too late, and I’ll have my brain replaced by a black vortex of howling pain.

In short, it’s a gamble, and one I’ve had to make for the past four days. I’m resisting a fourth Iminatrix right now, and my brain is messing with me. Here’s a trammeling of pressure and pain and — whoops — it’s gone. It will be back as soon as I start to relax. Snarl.

In other gambles this week, I ordered a pair of  shoes that were on clearance but still cost just enough that I got mad when they felt like walking on rocks. People swear they feel like heaven once they mold to your foot and get broken in…most of the time. If not, you’re still out the price of the shoes since they’ve been worn and are no longer returnable. I got lucky. One or two wearings (yeah, I took the chance), and they do feel nice.

Writing? Not sure. I was draping myself morosely across the furniture last weekend, bemoaning my lack of productivity, and then I remembered I’d just scrawled out 2500 words. It felt like nothing. Not effortless, just insubstantial. I’d already forgotten it. Two nights ago, I wrote 1500 words that I thought were quite useful, but when my husband read them to me aloud, I realized the scope of just how vastly wrong they were.  So am I writing? Yes. Am I happy about it? Hmm.

The good news is that my revised sections are great! The bad news is number four on this list over at the Office of Letters & Light.

Wishing you all a great week.

And Yet, This Is Better

18 Nov

If you go out in the woods today, you'd better not go alone. It's lovely out in the woods today, but safer to stay at home.

Yesterday, gravity quadrupled in the Untitlement household.  I tried to use a blanket to hold me aloft, but it just shoved me to the couch and held me there.

I curled up, eyes closed, wondering, “Is my heart slowing? No, it’s speeding up. Or is it slowing? Or speeding! Wait, am I breathing? Am I breathing now?” I couldn’t feel my heart beating. Can I ever feel it, though? If I stopped trying to breathe, would I still be doing it? And who did I call first, if this continued — 911 or my kids’ school to tell them I’d be late picking up my sons?

It was just a trippy hour — my first experience with the migraine drug, Imitrex. But I will say this — the pain was gone.  And since I’ve considered having my head amputated while in the throes of a headache, it was well worth the angst.

I’d like to read about Imitrex online, but the internet is useless in that it contains all answers — as in it will tell you both yes and no to the same question. A few maybes will be in there. A few others will link any topic in creation to Obama (insert snotty voice) or to Bush before him (same snotty voice). And every medical site, from Joe-Bob’s Fixin’ Hut to the Mayo Clinic, brings everything down to one unavoidable prognosis: You’re going to die.

Migraines? Could be nothing, could be you’re gonna die.

The treatment for migraines? It might help, but after Eastern and Western medicine wage a battle with swords and muskets and laser guns to prove that nothing really works and that everyone is lying about it, it all comes down to the fact that you’re probably going to die because of the meds.

I'm tellin' you, brother. I'd have made a better Aragorn.

These days, even sunshine, happiness, and Disneyland are prone to kill you. Really. So who am I to question the fact that both headaches and their cure are going to kill me, too? I’m no hobbit turned junkie/rock star/plane crash survivor. Without Desmond Hume hanging around to save me and divert my fate, I’m just hosed. I think I’ll give up worrying about it.

I went to the great authority, Facebook, and a few friends contacted me to tell me it will all be okay. I love that. Being told that everything will be okay has to be one of the best feelings on earth. It’s even better now than when I was a kid. Why can’t the internet tell you that? Oh. Wait. It does. Right next to the page that says, “What! Are you kidding? We’re screwed! Just look at Obama and Bush and Rasputin and Captain Kangaroo, and what they did with all the deadbeats and railroad tycoons and my tax dollars!”

Anyway, I’m still here, and I even managed to squeeze in my daily quota of NaNo words, although every last one of them is crap.

I will leave you today with these words: It’s okay (or not). Everything is going to be fine (or it isn’t). And it’s all [insert name of choice]’s fault.

{Insert Whooping & Hollering & Cartwheels & Somersaults}

29 Oct

A miserable week just got much brighter!

I just received the coveted email announcing that my NaNoWriMo novel has been selected for the semi-final round of 30 Covers in 30 Days.

Wheeeee!

Hello,

We are excited to let you know that your 2010 NaNoWriMo novel may be receiving a cover designed by an amazing designer. Our design dream team has agreed to try to bash out 30 NaNoWriMo book covers in November as part of our “30 Covers, 30 Days” project, which you can read about in the official forum: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3699349.  We’ve listed the designers participating here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3700248

We loved your title and synopsis. If you give us the okay, we’ll send them to the designer team, and the designers may use them to create a cover design for your novel-in-progress (we say “may” because we’re sending the designers a few options to choose from).  Plots will be sent throughout the month, so be sure to stay on pace with your word count!

Every year, professional designers donate their time to create covers for thirty of the tens of thousands of novels born of the contest. I’ve been coveting one for ages! Not only does it feel awesome to know that people are looking at my work, but I’m in love with book design. As big a reader as I am, I’ve bought many books just because I loved the cover so much, including my Bartlett’s Roget’s Thesaurus with a retro yellow design. [Edited to add that Kelly Blair, the designer of said thesaurus, is one of the designers for this contest. Spooky!  I had no idea when I first posted this.]

Now it’s down to ninety titles. Each designer gets three to choose from. I looked through the list of designers, and they are amazing, indeed. Lots of eye candy and blogs to add to my Google Reader.

I don’t know when I last smiled so much. I may not be selected for the final round, but this feels wonderful.

I think it even cured my headache.

The Bellowing of Crickets

23 Oct

I spent the last four days in the clutches of a crushing sinus headache. At one point, while climbing out of the car, I realized I must look like Patsy or Edina from Absolutely Fabulous, staggering, bent, squinting, and clutching a drink. In my case, it was Diet Coke, darling, and I didn’t have smeared lipstick and rumpled party clothes, but I’ll bet my hair was plenty askew. And I was holding my keys like Patsy holds her cigarette.

I really should call a doctor about these things, but when I’m ill, I can’t remember or bear to perform such superhuman feats as think or dial a phone. (Do people still say dial?) When I’m better, I forget — in large part because I’m terrified the thing will return just by thinking about it or speaking its name.

So my headaches are like Voldemort (Don’t say that name!), only they have a nose (being of and related to my sinuses). And Ralph Fiennes is nowhere to be seen. Alas.

But now a break! A tentative moment of clarity.

I’ve enjoyed my reprieve by spending the evening eating gummy bears and reading P.G. Wodehouse. It’s my first foray into Wooster & Jeeves — at least as a reader. I shelved the books over and over again in the various libraries and bookstores of my employment. If I didn’t know who wrote them, I’d know his or her last name started with a letter at the end of the alphabet because I can still see where they sat on the long wall of fiction at one particular store which we shall refer to as Barns & Stables.

I can’t remember to get a medical solution to debilitating pain, but I can remember where individual books were shelved fifteen years ago. And the lyrics to obscure Ambrosia songs I haven’t heard since I was in the single digits but which are now playing faintly over the speakers at a loud brew pub.

Anyway, lots of laughs from the books…

  • On Jeeves’ seeming ability to appear as if from thin air (apparate): “I’ve got a cousin who’s what they call a Theosophist, and he says he’s often nearly worked the thing himself, but couldn’t quite bring it off, probably owing to having fed in his boyhood on the flesh of animals killed in anger and pie.” (Those last five words got me.)
  • On a trip away from Manhattan: “The days down on Long island have forty-eight hours in them; you can’t get to sleep at night because of the bellowing of the crickets.”

One week until NaNoWriMo. Gots me a book on Vaudeville. I’ll do a little light research tomorrow.

In Which Autumn Socks Me in the Eye

5 Oct

Ah, autumn is here. October. Why, it seems like only last week we were suffering triple-digit temperatures, afraid to open our windows late at night because it was still 90.

Oh, wait. That was only last week.

I’ve been pining for true autumn weather, shaking my fist at shimmering heat mirages on the road and saying, “I have sweaters and boots, and I’m not afraid to use them!”

The good news is that chilly temperatures arrived yesterday. The bad news is that any major change in the weather sets off doomsday alarms in my head, so I spent most of yesterday curled in a ball, clutching my head, and feeling psychedelic levels of sea sickness although I live near the desert. I had to drive my eldest to school early in the morning, and that was terrifying — I could see the road just fine, but my peripheral vision was full of swirling shadows, and my head was full of stabbing pains like acupuncture gone wrong.

So, no blogging yesterday. My only thought was, “Ouch,” the laptop screen was too bright for my eyes, and Mother Nature was standing over me with a baseball bat, saying, “You wanted to have your cake and eat it, too? Eh? Eh?”

Today is pain free so far (knocking wood), and I gleefully dressed in tall boots, a heavy cotton shirtdress, and a long cardigan to walk my son to school. I even made it back home minutes ahead of the rain, so my new boots didn’t melt. Gotta waterproof those things.

On the writing front, I’m trying to decide on a story for NaNoWriMo. Right now I’m contemplating a prequel set in the 1950s.