"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, July 30, 2007

Connections to a Billionaire

Last week we had a few people from Scotland over for face-to-face meetings here at work. And of course, Harry Potter (and JK Rowling) had to come up.

Turns out the one guy lives two blocks from JK Rowling in Edinburgh.
And the other guy's mother who is a teacher taught JK Rowling's daughter for years.

So if you lived two blocks from JK Rowling, would you go out of your way to walk by her house?
Would you hope mail got delivered to the wrong address so you'd have an excuse to ring her doorbell?
Would you bake "all the neighbors" cookies and hand deliver them?
Would you get your kid to try to sell her girlscout cookies?

Would you drop your ARC on her doorstep?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not yet

OK, so I haven't finished Harry Potter yet. In fact, I've only made it to page 100. Then my husband made me turn out the light, and my drooping eyelids didn't complain. And even as I read it, I'm trying to imagine how hard it's got to be to end the series at all. Not because of wanting to just keep pumping out the Harry books. But trying to wrap up every loose end. Trying to make fans happy (or at least satisfied).

So no spoilers yet.

On the WIP Revision 1. My first drafts are really just that. I've managed to get the story down on paper. The writing may suck. The characters may need some life breathed into them. But the bare bones are there. So, I figure a few good revisions, and then I'll send the first chapter off to the critique groups for review. I plan to re-read Fiction First Aid, and I also just got The First Five Pages. So watch out, group!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm finished ...

... with WIP draft 1.

I'm so excited! I love my story! And I'm looking forward to revisions. But none until I get back from Virginia in three weeks. Then I'm allowed to start.

In the mean time, I can finally read Harry Potter. Is Darth Vader really his father?

College Memory Number Two

I had so much fun recalling college memory number one. So why stop at one? Why limit to college? No good reason for either, but in the spirit of the last post, I give you my other college experience with ... exposition.

From sophmore year on, I used to have this job as a security monitor. Ok, my job wasn't to tackle intruders and pin them to the floor to be handcuffed. Basically, I worked from 10 pm -6 am on weekdays and 12 am -6 am on weekends (not every day) in the dorms. The doors got locked and I was responsible for checking people's IDs before letting them into the dorms after hours. If their ID didn't match a name on the list, they didn't get in.
(I could go off on a side note here of what I actually would have done if someone refused to obey me. Most people trying to break the rules pretended to play stupid when I told them to go away - like they didn't know they couldn't get into the dorms).

Anyway, I always brought my five pound Maltese, Killer, along with me, and we'd stay up all night doing homework, reading, talking to other people, or watching TV. If only I'd known back then that I wanted to be a writer!
So one night I working. All my friends had gone, and it was just me and Killer hanging in the lobby. It was a co-ed dorm - boys on one wing, girls on the other. Suddenly, the door from the girl's side opens and out walks this guy into the lobby. He had his hair frizzed out, his face painted green, white paint around his eyes. And he was stark naked with a huge erection!
He didn't look at me, though I have no doubt his show was for me and me alone (unless you count Killer). He simply looked straight ahead and walked from the door of the girls' side to the door of the boys' side.
I found myself speechless - mouth hanging open. I'm guessing he was checking my reaction out of his peripheral vision, and I'm sure I didn't disappoint. Killer lifted her head from the pillow she slept on, looked at him, and went back to sleep.
Me? I was certainly alert the rest of the evening. I called my boss, who came and hung out with me for the next few hours. And trust me - we got plenty a good laugh out of the whole thing.
So thank you, weird face-painted-green-guy, for giving me something to laugh about fifteen years later!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Do I have to stop reading blogs ...

...until I read the final Harry Potter? I mean, is everyone and their brother going to post spoilers on their blogs? Please, no!!!
OK, I know I don't stand a chance here. I'd planned to wait until I finished the first draft of my WIP before I read the book. But sadly, I believe I may need to change my plans.
I've having a hard time thinking I'll be able to make it even a day without seeing a headline, hearing a passing conversation by the coffee machine, glancing at a blog entry about how someone's predictions were accurate.
And so I'll buy the thing tomorrow. I have to admit - I can't wait to read it, even though I'd planned to.

So when are you going to read it?
(And don't comment at 6 in the morning Saturday and tell us how you bought it at midnight and just finished it. OK, you can comment, but no spoilers!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I run into writers everywhere

It amazes me (and I love it) when I meet people who write. Or I find out people I've known for years write. It's like instantly there's this bond. There's so much to talk about. First drafts. Rejection. Conferences.

I'm at a birthday party for my little girl, and it turns out the dad of the birthday girl is an author.
I'm at the coffee machine at work, and it turns out our technical writer is an author.

And the funny thing everyone says?

"I hope to be able to write full time."

Me too!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Did you go to ...

your high school reunion?
I know Robin Brande talked about this a while back, but now it is my reality. You see, I'm having my twenty year reunion this October. I live in Texas. It's back in Virginia. There's so much planning going on. So many people I haven't seen in like forever. It would be great to catch up. But I'm not sure about hauling the whole family of four back for the weekend.
But thinking about reunions gives me a few laughs.

My aunt is attending her sixty year college reunion this weekend. As she puts it, you go at that point just to see who's still around.

My coworker just attended his twenty year. Four years ago, he was the arm wrestling champion of the world. I'm not talking America here. I'm talking he flew to Russia and won. (OK, first on his left hand, and second on his right hand). So it's gotta be pretty cool to walk into your reunion with that as bragging material. I asked him if he bragged, but he's just not that kind of guy, and admitted he didn't bring it up.

My dad attended his fifty year reunion a few years ago, and wondered who all the old people there were.

So tell me, did you go? Got a good story?

Monday, July 16, 2007

College Memory Number One

Writing for kids and young adults - and reading much of this genre - always brings back some of my own memories. Some are share-worthy and some are not.
I'll let you decide on this one.
---
My freshroom college roommate and I knew each other in high school and decided to room together. We got out room on the first floor with a window facing away from campus.
Anyway, we used to have friends who would come rattle on the window to visit. We'd open the shade and let them in to talk.
So imagine my surprise when the window rattled late one night and I opened the shade only to reveal a guy dressed in camo taking pleasure with himself!
"Katie!!!!" I called. "Come look at this!"
(OK, cut me some slack - this was really my first experience with someone actually doing this).
She ran over and we watched for a minute - trying to really believe with our eyes what we were seeing. Could we be mistaken? Was the guy really three feet from OUR window? Was he really doing what we thought he was doing?
OK, finally common sense took over and we put down the shade and called all our friends to tell them.
A month later, the same thing happened. But this time, we called the campus cops. They came, took our incident report, and left. Our friendly visitor was long gone by the time they arrived. I guess the fact that we deliberated on whether to actually call the cops or not may have contributed to his getting away.

Got any good stories of your own? If you do, write about them on your blog and let me know!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our Bedtime Story

I've been telling my kids a new bedtime story lately. OK, and it all comes back to book research. But also, please keep in mind my son is six and loves this story. And learning about mythology is a good thing, right?

It's the story of two brothers - Set and Osiris. And Osiris is married to Isis.
Set hated Osiris because Osiris was king. And so on the day Isis and Osiris married, Set went to Osiris and chopped him into fourteen pieces which he then scattered about the earth.
Isis was devastated, and searched all over the earth, finding thirteen of the pieces. She never found the fourteenth piece which nicely enough was his penis.
So she took the thirteen pieces and created the first mummy. Then she prayed for a baby for she and Osiris had never consummated their marriage (OK, I glance over this a bit). And she got pregnant and had Horus.
Horus hated his uncle Set. So he and Uncle Set got in a fight. Uncle Set poked out one of Horus's eyes. And Horus tore off one of Uncle Set's testicles.
The End.

Data storage

So what's the best way to back up your work?
I hear horror stories all the time of authors who have lost their entire hard drives. Disk drives didn't work. Overwrote files.
So here's what I do:
Each night, I work on a new file with the date at the end. Yep, that means I have every version at the end of each day of everything I've ever worked on. And seriously, why not? I think my hard drive is some insane amount of gigabytes.
Every other night, I burn a CD with my writing stuff on it. I then store these CDs in a fireproof lock box.
On the other nights, I back up my entire hard drive onto a backup hard drive. The first time takes a while, but after that it only copies the changes.

So I'm talking about this with my coworkers the other day, and one of them mentions that the fire boxes are only rated to like 200 degrees or something, and that any house fire would get hotter than that.

So I could email myself my current working version every night - uploading to yahoo in a way.
But I've also thought about looking into some sort of off-site backup storage system. Does anyone do anything like this?

What do you do for backups?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Rewrite

Since I joined this fantastic online critique group a couple months ago, I've been getting some great feedback. What I'm submitting is the second book in my trilogy. I don't think I've really revised this book in probably about 8 months.
When revising, initially I go through and try to do some pretty major changes. But then each subsequent revision gets just a little bit less, then less. Then I have no idea what to revise at all.
Enter critique group and 8 months of time.
And now I think I'm ready for another revision. A major one. The time off is crucial. I know we've all read stuff where it says to put the work away for a week or two between revisions. But even after a week, there's no way I'd be having the ideas I'm having now.
Major changes. That's what I'm seeing. Especially at the beginning. Not just trying to do a better job with Book 1 backstory (though that is a major part of it), but new plot ideas, seeding for Book 3, character name changes, place changes.
And I love this type of revision. For me, it's my second favorite part of writing a book.
1) First draft - I love just getting the ideas down on paper - even it they suck.
2) Major revision where I have some sort of vision in my mind of how/where I can change things.

What's your favorite part of the writing process?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Hatshepsut Mummy

So the mummy of Hatshepsut was recently discovered and identified. And turns out she was no beauty queen - just a queen. She was fat, balding, and bearded - and ruled all of Egypt.

Read all about it!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I am spellbound by this book

OK, maybe I'm the last person to read it, and I'm not quite done, but I can't put down Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Can I say amazing? Does the second book live up to the first? And a third coming out next month.

Here's why I think it's great. The book is written for YA; the protagonist is I think 17. And I'm 37. Twenty years difference, and when I'm not reading the book, all I'm doing is thinking about reading the book. I want to be the main character, and that's amazing to me.

And here's my question. Are books whose ending are not always happy better? I'm willing to bet many of them are at least more memorable. Kind of like Titanic (the movie). I remember watching that and being sad for a week after because I wanted Leonardo and Kate to be together. But they weren't. And that makes an impact.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

New Habit to Form

Back in May, HipWriterMama hosted a one-month-to-form-a-habit. At the time, I picked drinking enough water each day, but put it off as we were heading to Disney (which would already be enough time in the bathroom with a potty-training toddler).
But now I have a new habit I will form. I've been talking about this for ages.
Meditation. For five or ten minutes a day.
I've been wanting to do this forever, and I'm going to start. By August, I will have a new habit formed.

Out of curiosity, does anyone else do any kind of daily meditation? Any suggestions? Techniques? I'm thinking it needs to be something I can incorporate during the middle of the work day in my cube farm. Possibly an escape to the bathroom or Mother's room?

Monday, July 02, 2007

One Month Down

So it's been a month that I've been working on my new WIP. And aside from being totally excited about writing it, another great thing has been happening. I'm re-excited to go back and do more revisions on books 2 and 3 of my Forgotten Worlds trilogy. This is based on great feedback I've been getting from my critique group along with better understandings of plotting, character development, etc.

WIP research done to date:
We just finished the 1930's The Mummy with Boris Karloff tonight.
We've watched The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Scorpion King.
(And just an aside - all are fine for kids. The Scorpion King has maybe a couple "questionable" scenes, but is pretty tame).

WIP words written:
~37,000

Time left for first draft:
4 weeks (about 30 days)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The best efficiency improvement so far this year

Back in January, I set a number of goals. Call them New Year's Resolutions if you want. And so far, I'm doing ... OK.
Once resolution I made which has made my life worlds easier is this:

I clean my own house. I know, so many people have maids come in, but I have some weird issue paying someone else to do a mediocre job cleaning my house when I know I'd do a better job. But long stretches of time between cleanings made this a monumental task.
So I made a calendar.
See, my downstairs really doesn't need to be dusted more than once a month. And my kitchen counters only need to be scrubbed every three weeks.
So I listed each item, and put it on the calendar, spreading out the tasks so they didn't all fall on the same weekend.
Now my calendar tells me what to clean.
For example, this past weekend my calendar told me to wipe the stairs, vacuum the downstairs, and dust downstairs. Next weekend weekend, I wash the sheets and clean the toilets (this gets done every two weeks).
The best thing about being on top of cleaning like this is that a clean house is much easier to keep clean. If I don't dust for four months, I have to scrape dust off the furniture. If I dust every month, a swipe with my electrostatic duster more than does the job.

Once I finish a task, I highlight it on the calendar to mark it as complete - giving me the nice sense of completion.

So, if you're like me on the cleaning front, try the calendar.