The Day After

What does one do after focusing on one thing everyday for a month?
All the irritating little things you have been noticing for the past month.
I vacuumed the dirt from the cats off the counch (one bad thing about a dark chocolate colored couch, it shows the dirt more).
I almost finished cutting out the matted fur on Martin's side. He was very patient, but got tired of it just before I finished. I should be able to finish it later.
I'm doing laundry (which reminds me, I think I need to go down and switch out one load for another). I had a bit of a scare when I started the laundry. I have a little stacked washer/dryer combo. I started the washer filling with water, then put in soap and my clothes. When I came back downstairs, the timer was counting down, but it wasn't agitating. Which, naturally agitated me. I fiddled with the controls, imagining that I would have to use some of my savings for a new washer/dryer. Out of habit, I looked at the back and idly wondered if everything was connected right. I fiddled with the one plug and that jogged my memory. A few weeks ago, I had pulled one of the plugs to plug in something else. So, I plugged in the second plug and viola, it started working again. Whew!
I fixed a roman shade I have that had broken several weeks ago.
I'm sewing some pajama pants that need mending.
I'll write up a recipe I promised to some of my guests at the last dinner party, and perhaps start reformatting the novel and run it through the spellchecker. I won't reread the novel or start editing that aspect of it yet.
And last, but not least, I'll start reading something good. Maybe the next Miles Vorkosigan compilation. :)

Later: Wrote up the recipe, portioned out the catfood I made yesterday, and now? Painting my fingernails while watching the LotR cast commentary. Yup. The day seems neverending. :)


We Are the Champions!

I just passed 50000 words a few minutes ago. I pretty much hit the end of the novel exactly at the end of the 50K. Of course, I still need to go back, graft it on the prequel piece that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2005 and do a cursory edit/reformat before printing it out for my beta readers (Mum and Sis, first). This does feel like a stronger story than the one I wrote in 2004, so more likely to survive the editing process and much more likely to be submitted to publishers afterwards.

In the meantime, I'm going to shower, eat leftover Thanksgiving dinner, go to a movie, and then celebrate my brother's birthday.

Thank you everyone, for your support. I can honestly say that you made the difference between giving up and going on. THANK YOU!


[cue Chariots of Fire music]

If you see me cha-cha-ing around the room, that's because I'm one day's worth of writing away from the finish line. I wrote 3K words today, mostly in the evening after I got away from the Boob Tube and in front of my desktop and regular keyboard. The Dell Mini is great, just not for marathon writing.
So, less than 3K to do tomorrow and I plan to get it done before I go to my brother's birthday dinner. Woo hoo!

cha cha cha cha cha CHA! cha cha cha cha cha CHA! cha cha cha cha cha CHA!


Thankful for Friends and Family

Today began oddly for me. I woke up, got up, walked around doing various things, and realized within minutes that something was wrong. My head felt woozy, as if it were on some kind of time-delay. Any time I moved my head, I felt dizzy, and as I experimented with this, I also started to feel really nauseous. After I lay on the carpet for a while, the nausea started to go away. So I got up again to get my cell phone, getting really nauseous again in the process, then installing myself in that age old "just in case" position right by the toilet.
When my head stopped spinning, which it did when I held it still for several minutes together, I called my cousin Susan and my friend Stacey to let them know I was unlikely to get out of the house today. I called my mum. What I am going to do when she's not around to give medical advice, I gave serious thought and decided it would be Brian, my BIL. Anyway, mum had similar (though lesser) symptoms a month or so ago and had come to the conclusion that it was an inner ear infection. As I had come to a similar conclusion (at least the inner ear part of it), I investigated online to find out what the typical treatment is and how critical timing is in the scenario. WebMD gave good, if slightly vague advice. The crux of it is that the condition is generally self-correcting (which is what my mum found) and is generally viral, not bacterial, so anti-biotics don't help. Further, WebMD recommended that you simply get bedrest for a few days, then try to resume normal activities after that in order to let your brain get used to the imbalance.

So, here I am, lying in bed, surfing the 'net and writing my NaNovel with my little Dell Mini. The writing is going OK, but slowly, as my brain does not seem to be running on all cylinders. No matter, it appears I have lots of idle time in front of me to work at excruciating slowness. When I get up to get something to eat, I actually do OK for several minutes at a time and usually return to bed because I am really really tired.

So, if this ever happens to you, you can recognize it!

In other news, I am really irritated to be missing Thanksgiving dinner - which, I love. My cousin Mike (Susan's awesome dad) is making pheasant. I called Susan to ask her to put some in the freezer for me so I don't miss it entirely. I'm missing turkey and cranberry relish (my favorite!) and mashed potatoes. I will not, however, be missing pie. Janiece has promised to save me a piece and bring it to me on their way home. Yay Janiece!
I'm also missing my friend Stacey's party with our mutual friend Susan (a different Susan). She's visiting from Huston, TX, and has managed to pay off her house, so she's having a little celebration, with champagne and everything.

It sucks to be missing out on these things, but as I am dead tired and my head still feels oddly wobbly, I doubt I would be very good company. I have no doubt that I should not be operating a vehicle.

However, I feel VERY lucky that I have such caring friends and family wishing me well. AND I am thankful that this is probably only a minor inner ear infection (which I really hope does not damage my inner ear for SCUBA diving) and should be mostly resolved by the end of the long weekend.

So, in the words of a very provoking character: "I forbid you to feel sorry for me."

Hope you are all having a better Thanksgiving than I am!

ETA: I am feeling much better. The vertigo has subsided to almost nothing, and with it, the nausea, but I find myself getting tired out quickly. My two groups of gift-bearing angels came one after the other and probably constituted 20 minutes of conversation in total, but I was pooped afterward. And now it's 8:30, I have reached 44K words, so will go to bed now. Good night all!


Into the West

The previous post was a view to the south and east of the building. Here's the view to the northwest from the 32nd level balcony. Talk about dizzying!


Seeing the Finishline Ahead

I'm at 40,471 words, which means I have less than 10k to write. I'm going to keep up the 2k per day pace, I think, so I'll be able to either finish early or take off Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, MWT has finished 50K! Congratulations!

Building With A View

Here's the view on a foggy morning from one of the top floors on my building.


Toot toot!

I have gotten to the heights of 38,419 words, which is where I'm supposed to be if my words/day average is to get me in to the finish line on time.
Who rocks? Me! That's right!
Well, MWT rocks too, for patiently listening to me cogitate through my plot issues (turned out it was a character issue, actually, but it got fixed).
And Jen rocks, for sending me a cake pop that I ate halfway through the day as a reward for meeting my minimum words requirement so early in the day. It was DELICIOUS! I now see why you are so popular amongst the younger set. ;) And you are absolutely correct. Yellow always lifts my spirits.
And Jeri rocks for passing the 50K mark already.
And Stacey rocks for sending me good writing vibes from the tundra of Chicago.
And Janiece rocks for making raspberry jam and for, well, being Janiece.
Actually, that's the reason that you rock too! Yeah, you! Thank you for thinking of me and wishing me well. (If you're my enemy and secretly wishing me ill, well, nyah nyah nyah, I'm doing great!)

Oh yeah, and I'm not hating the story, which... is nice, to say the least.

I still have to keep working, but it seems to be going pretty smoothly at the moment. Keep your good writing vibes coming, and thanks, to all y'all (yes, part of the story is set in Tennessee).


My Friends Are the Coolest

Brilliant + creative + generous = Jen A.

Round about Halloween, Jen blogged about making Halloween cake pops. I admired them (who wouldn't?) and because Jen is awesome, when she made ladybug themed cake pops, she sent me one! In the awesome and colorful Nesquik container. Isn't that cool?

Jen, I have not been as diligent today as I should have been. Despite having figured out a plotline last night, the writing has been slow. I think I've figured out the problem. Hopefully it's not "I hate this frickin' story." I've got a plan. We'll see how it goes.

So, I'm saving the yummy looking treat as a reward for tomorrow's effort.

Which is not to say I'm not going to write more tonight. I will. I just don't think I've done enough today.

Thank you so much, Jen! You rock like Gibraltar!


Writing AND Friends

I had dinner with my dear friend, Janiece, tonight. We had a great time, eating and talking and laughing. Lest you all think this kept me from my NaNoWriMo, I can honestly point out that I used the time waiting for Janiece (who was stuck in a traffic jam) working out some plot issues that were starting to loom. I got 2 and a half napkins worth (both sides!) of outline written out before she showed up. These words don't contribute to the word count directly (unless I were to transcribe it, which I won't) but it'll make my efforts for the rest of the weekend go MUCH smoother.
So, yay for Janiece and yay for traffic jams (except for the stress they caused others)!

I don't know how much I'll get written tonight. I'm pretty pooped (stayed up late last night, writing) but I'll make a stab at it. Tomorrow and Sunday I should be able to do several days worth of work, especially as I haven't planned anything except for this (and going to the store to get materials for catfood).


Cheering Section

Tonight wasn't as difficult to push through as last night (no sentences like "You've been off, making yummy food, and telling us about it." Which, while true if applied to this blog, have zero to do with my storyline. I have no idea what I was thinking.) but I would like to acknowledge my support group for the evening: MWT, whose challenge of who could write 500 words faster helped me to get out of the surfing rut I had been in for an hour and to the boys, pictured below, cheering me on to the 2000 word mark.

I am maintaining my 2K words per day goal (despite what the chart to the right thinks), and hope to jump forward some in the weekend coming up. We'll see. After that, there's one more weekend to complete the effort, but I'd like to be able to take off Thanksgiving without causing too much stress at the very end. Me no likey stress. :)


A Challenge

Yesterday, John Scalzi posted a picture of a sunset in Ohio.
Jim Wright, had to one-up him by posting a picture of a sunset in Alaska.
MWT, not to be outdone, posted a picture of a gorgeous sunset in Georgia, and challenged me to post a sunset of my own. I couldn't find (as MWT suggested) a sunset photo from India, though I know I took a ton of them in Honduras. So, I'm posting a photo of a sunset here in Colorado. We do pretty well with having dramatic sunsets, so I think it'll be able to stand up the competition. What do you think?

In other news, I've passed 26K words and where I was on the 2004 novel that I did complete. If I can continue to be diligent (and my friends are being good about leaving me be), I'll get ahead of the game so that I'll be able to take Thanksgiving off entirely. :D

ETA: Yesterday I figured out that on the weekdays, I don't really need to buy any treats to use as rewards (I was considering cupcakes from here). When I'm pushing myself at night, the best reward is SLEEP! By the time I'm done, I'm dying for it. It doesn't cost anything and it's not fattening. What could be better? :)


Not Drunk, Just Tired

Written last night at about 10:30 while I was trying to get my 2K in:

"The lights spread out below them in the balcony..."
(I'm pretty sure I meant in the valley... oops.)

Me Trying Out Embedding Video

While I'm working my tush off to write a 50K word novel in 30 days, here are a couple videos I thought were entertaining:

First, Justin Timberlake doing a 3 minute version of the SNL show he would have done if he hadn't had to cancel. It's cute. It's packed with Timberlake inside jokes and references to SNL skits I have not seen, so I didn't "get" it all, but something about the energy and inventiveness impressed me. (Full disclosure: I became a Timberlake the Actor fan the minute I saw Black Snake Moan. He is a brave actor, which makes him great.)

Second, for those waiting for the new Star Trek "revitalization" you've probably already seen this trailer. For those who haven't, take a look. It's actually starting to look... maybe good! I'll go purely for Zachary Quinto as Spock.

Oh, and if any of you have thoughts about the Twitter feed I've put at the top of this column, here's where to comment. :)


Blessed 22K

I've had another 4K day and hit 22K words. If I can write 2K words per day from now until the end of the month, I will have 50,000 words and a novel on my hands. This is do-able, particularly if I am diligent about not slacking off and about turning down invites to do stuff after work. That, as we all know, is tough for me to do, so I've taken the additional measure of asking friends not to invite me to stuff for the rest of the month. (Except lunch invites. Those, I can do!) I dearly love to hang out with y'all, but I also dearly want to finish this beast. Put together with the 20K or so words (written for a previous NaNoWriMo) that constitute a sort of preface to this NaNo story, I would have the makings of an official length novel that, properly edited and smoothed out, could be shopped around for publication.

But first, it must be finished!


Puffing Steam

I am "The Little Engine That Could."

I'm up to 18K. The story is moving along fine. I got 2300 words written today, which is not as much as I'd hoped, but over the amount I need to do every day if I want to finish this on time.
I did get a late start today, having gone to a brunch with my sister, future SIL, and good friend/cousin, Susan. We had fun. My sister pointed out that I'd probably do just fine if I could train my family and friends not to invite me to do stuff when I'm supposed to be writing. She has a point. My ability to say no to a social invitation is getting feebler and feebler as I age.
However, if I can keep moving forward at a little over 2K a day, I will finish on time. I'd like to do a bit better than that so I can take Thanksgiving off. And there are 2 1/2 weekends left in which to produce more than 2K [crosses fingers].

It's "only" 10:30, but I'm finding it difficult to string together coherent sentences, so I'm going to bed.

Nigh nigh!

Starting the Day

This morning I'm eating another quesadilla like the ones I made last night. Yum!

Here's how to make them:

Put a layer of cheese (I used munster and monterey jack) on a white tortilla.
Sprinkle on some chopped green onion.
Place on top a handful of white mushroom slices.
Put on some chopped/cubed leftover chicken.
Then layer on some more cheese. Make it enough to stick everything together, but not so much as it would ooze out while cooking.
If you want to add herbs, I'd recommend a light sprinkling of Italian herbs or Herbs de Provence. I ended up forgetting to, which meant the lovely flavor of the green onions was predominant.

Put a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and set the burner for just above medium.
Place this open-faced quesadilla in the skillet and let it cook for long enough that the cheese on the bottom is melting. This should be longer than you think it will be, probably around 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, if you have the burner turned too high, the bottom may begin to burn.
Then, place another white tortilla on top, press it down, and then flip over the quesadilla. The bottom should be golden brown and crispy.
Cook for a few minutes more, until a peek inside shows that the cheese has melted.

Take out of the pan, cut into wedges, and serve with salsa and/or sour cream.


An Excerpt

(for JTS ;)

"You are entering the Ice Queen's NY home. It's not her palace of course, that is either in Antartica, Alaska, or Iceland, depending on who you are talking to. Those of us who know better, of course, know that Iceland is relatively temperate. It's Greenland that's actually icy and the site of the Ice Queen's palace. It's described as a gorgeous composition of ice sculpture, Art Deco in its detailing, I believe, as it's most recent manifestation was built in the 1930s. The detailing is said to be exquisite. The eastern wall is decorated with the image of the rising sun, the rays of light ironic when rendered in ice, a fragile..."
"Shut it, Walter," Francie said, as a liveried butler appeared.

ETA @ 12:13 am - 15698 words. That's 1862 more words than I had yesterday. That's above my average, which is great, but not as high as I need to be doing in order to finish on time. No matter, I'll improve on that tomorrow.



You can tell by the title I procrastinated today.

I worked late (got home at 8).
I ate dinner and watched CSI.
I sat down to write and then...
I posted my old couch for sale on Craigslist and
I signed up for Twitter.

Yesterday I went out with a friend instead of writing, but that was mostly because I had a headache and didn't feel like doing anything but being a bump on a log. Turned out to be a tiring evening, just being a bump too.
The next day I deduced that the headache came from dehydration. I'd been in the field all day, but drinking no water because it was chilly and I didn't think of it.
Today I did much better. Still need to drink more (water), but I did better. ;)

My plan?
I know the procrastination today arises from the fact that I do not have a clear picture in my mind of the setting/situation for the next scene. I know what stuff needs to happen in this scene and the next, but not the how.
So, I'm going to bed and I'm going to brainstorm before I go to sleep and before I get out of bed. And when I'm done with that, I shouldn't have anymore procrastination for the weekend.
For me, it's sometimes good to do my thinking away from the computer and it's myriad procrastination opportunities and the scary blank page. ;)
We'll see how it goes.


A Slog

This time, I'm back to my old pace. I only got about 1300 words written (bettered my abysmal average, but that's all). I'm just so tired this evening, and the words have not been flowing as I like.
I'm a little concerned about a meeting I have to go to tomorrow morning, but meh, I'll read the report before we get there.
Right now, I need to stumble off to bed.

Night night!


A Blur

Wow. I just wrote a couple thousand words in a couple hours.
That's pretty stunning for me. Definitely not typical. I do have a pretty strong idea of where I'm going, however, and I'm feeling comfortable in the setting I've invented, so I'm sure that contributes.
I'm up to over 12K words (actual number there on the right), which is below where I "should be" if I were writing an equal amount every night, but I'm steadily gaining ground on the "should be" number. Actually, what I'm more concerned about than getting where I "should be" is making the most of the time that I do have in the chair and writing a thousand words an hour, rather than the five hundred I usually produce. That way I have time when I can get out and play and not feel pressured! :D



Well, it's been a long slog, but I've made some good progress today. I'm up to... 7661 words right now. That's several thousand below where I *should* be, but it's making progress. Things are going much more smoothly now that I have my (muahahahahahaha) plan. Hopefully the rest of the day today and tomorrow I should be able to make more progress.

Jeri issued a writing challenge and then posted her own response to the challenge. I, amazingly enough, have managed to meet the challenge myself. In a nutshell, it is: Write a short short piece titled - or themed - either “Karachi by Monday” or “The Pakistani Schlep”. Both of these are inspired by our friend and fellow UCFer, Saqib Sadiq, getting engaged! Yay, Saqib! (He's also generously posting peek at the experience for us foreigners. Again, yay, Saqib!)

My "entry" is under this link and is an excerpt from my NaNovel. Interestingly enough, I managed to work in another writing challenge in there. My fellow UCFers should be able to spot it.

Later: My final count for the day, 8346 - 4K more than I had this morning. :)

Depths and Heights

Well, I slacked off yesterday too, 'cause my siblings and their S.O.s asked me out to dinner and a movie. We went to see RocknRolla, the latest Guy Richie film. Very funny, if a bit rushed at the end. The music was great (heavy bass beat, which I like) and the guy who plays the RocknRolla himself is great. Actually, I found the acting in general to be top-notch. Gerard Butler is, as usual, yummy to look at and yummy to listen to. I think one of the things Guy Richie does best is to show how men (friends and enemies) relate to each other. It's one of the things I like best about his movies. So anyway, I recommend it (4 out of 5).

So, I'm in a wordcount hole, mainly because I have some great characters and a great setting, but no plot/conflict. This morning, I sat down with a piece of paper and hashed out a plot. I had dropped in one piece of mystery into the already written part of the story and then drew out the thread of the story from there. I've got the whole thing roughly sketched out. I'm hoping for some of the motivations to develop some inspired qualities once I get there, but for the moment, I have a map. So, HURRAY, writing should be easier from here forward! I'm working in yWriter, which has places to write in Chapter headings and descriptions, so I've done that. Unfortunately, it doesn't count them towards the word count. I could manually add it, of course, but it's only a few hundred words, so in theory it shouldn't make or break me. So I'm very optimistic about my word output this weekend.

What is the depth? I just finished the last of Janiece's apple butter. I had been rationing it, a small spoonful here and there, but now it's all gone. :(



Yesterday, I cooked dinner, watched a little TV and got caught up on my internet. I did not write a word. :(

So, tonight, I went out, had dinner and drinks with a friend, and got back in time to go to bed at a decent hour. I figure, if I know I'm going to dick around, I'd better enjoy it.

I'll work on catching up tomorrow and this weekend. :P



It's actually scary to listen to the speech of someone who speaks so well and so much to the heart. I love that he reached out to those who did not vote for him. I love that he pointed out that the work has only just begun. (Because he's right. There's a long road ahead.)

It's scary to have my hopes raised so high.

Scary, but thrilling.

Wow. What a moment.


Makes me proud to be an American.
I love diversity. I think it's one of the best things this country has going for them. I simple do not understand those who want to be surrounded by those who are exactly like themselves. Intellectually, I know it's about fear, but I still don't really get it.
Like Michelle, I'm a little teary eyed about what this election says about the maturity of the American voter. A pundit on CNN pointed out that this doesn't mean that there isn't anymore racism, but that people are voting for Obama *in spite* of their own racism. I would point out also, *in spite* of the fact that he has a foreign sounding name. It was something that was extremely apparent to me when looking at my ballot. There is no hiding that his name is so different from the Joe Schmoe Anglo name.
Here's Jim's response.
Here's Janiece's well-written "Open Letter to President-Elect Barack".
John Scalzi has Reality Check post I think is a good antidote for some of the extremist kool-aid that's been drunk by both sides.
(Others to be posted as they appear.)
For perspective on John McCain from a former Navy man, here's Jim's post on McCain. (He's pretty rough on the guy, but then again, McCain betrayed something Jim really knows the value of -- his honor as a naval officer.)
More from Michelle and Nathan (stole a link from him, see below).

And to address the breaking of a racial barrier, here is Whoopi Goldberg (Isn't that a Jewish name?) and our own MWT, an American of Asian descent.


I'm good for me :)

I made chicken stock this weekend with the bones from the dinner party and so, of course, tonight I made chicken noodle soup!

It was really yummy, with pieces of chicken, noodles, carrots, green onions, edamame, and sliced mushrooms. Yumm!

Is it because of this kind of thing that I got the following results?

35.5 miles per gallon

Created by The Car Connection


Hmm, I'm only up to 3901, but I'm sure I'll make it up soon. :/


Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Some of you know that I have perfectly adorable kitties. Here's some proof:

In other news, I've written almost 500 words this morning. I went back and tweaked the opening scene so it runs in a more fruitful direction and added some information. Technically, I'm not supposed to be editing my work yet, but :P to that. Now, I need to procrastinate by putting some food on to cook and some laundry in the machine. Multi-tasking, it's the wave of the future!



Again, I got lots done -- made chicken stock, cleaned out cat bathrooms, (hmm, didn't do laundry), cleaned up the dining table, and started collecting leaves. AND got my quota of writing done. I'm up to 3508 words, which is basically on track for finishing in time, if I write the same amount every day. Generally, in the past though, I've tried to get ahead (or catch up) on the weekends, as I don't get a lot done on the weekdays. We'll see how it goes.
I've got a decent track going on the story, and I have a strong feeling about where my story is the strongest. The best part is that I like my main characters. :)

Tomorrow, it's back to work! :P


Procrastination Productivity

Ah, procrastination. So far (at 7:30 pm), I've gotten tons of things accomplished today, but not much writing. Mainly, I did a bunch of financial housekeeping I needed to get caught up on. I also did some other errands around the house. And now, having gorged myself on procrastinatory productivity, I'm going to get my minimum words out before I... hmm, I can already think of something else that needs to be done (the cat bathroom needs to be cleaned!). Fortunately, I'm already on the computer. I'll come back and let you know how I've done. ;)

Later, around 11:30 pm: Whew! I got just over the minimum 1670 words done today. Hopefully it'll start getting a little smoother. :/