Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

I’ve been preoccupied, and that hasn’t included blogging.  Apologies from myself and from Hedda, to those who have missed us.

At the beginning of the new year, it seems appropriate to think about priorities and goals.  My entire life, I’ve been in love with stories, not the act of writing itself.  If I’m going to pursue a writing career, it’s going to be in the world of fiction.  It’s a more difficult goal to achieve, true, but it will also be more worthwhile for me.

Back to priorities, though – I need to work on mine.  I have more hobbies than I can shake a stick at, I always have.  I love trying new things, especially new crafts.  When I discover that I have a small talent for one of them, I’m all over it like butter on toast.  Then older, more beloved pursuits get dropped for a bit until I get over the thrill.  

Clearly, I need to work on that.  

If I’m ever going to take on the career I wish for, I need to finish my books.  I have one book, Underside, which I’m doing another read-through on before I start the third draft.  I have another one that’s been in progress for so long, I’ve lost track of the version numbers.  It’s probably between 3 and 4, but I’m planning a rewrite of the ending.  All I really need is time… and focus.

I’m working on it.  Meantime, one of those pesky other hobbies has turned into a paying gig.  I acquired a copy of a board game with plastic miniatures, Super Dungeon Explore, an adorable anime-style game.  I was painting the bits for myself when I was offered a trade… someone’s brand-new game for my painted game, plus cash money.  I only hesitated because time is a precious commodity here over at the bunny pond, and I’m going to miss having my own painted game… but I’ll make time to paint it again, just not as quickly.

This brings up an interesting possibility of painting and selling miniatures… but I’m not that talented (or delusional).  This deal is going down because I have more time on my hands than Mr. J., who is buying my work.  Maybe if I put more time into painting… but that would take away from my writing, my one true love.  Painting is just a phase I’m going through 😉

Happy New Year, all.  I leave you with a few goals of mine for the coming year…

1. Finish that dratted third draft of the WIP and get it edited.  The goal is to do this by end of January.

2.  Get an actual author site up and running that’s more than just a free blog.  This will happen sometime soon.

3.  Find a cover artist, go through all the other steps of self-publication.

4.  Get traction on this blog again

5.  Increase my daily word count.  1500 words a day can’t be that hard – I was doing 2500 to 3000 during November.  I did NaNoWriMo, and while I ‘won,’ I also wound up with the roughest rough draft I’ve ever seen in my life.  If I could set a computer file on fire, that story would be ashes right now.  Instead, it’s buried on my hard drive with the last successful NaNo attempt.

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A Fine Line Between Stephanie Meyer and Arthur C. Clarke?

The internet says I write like Arthur C. Clarke.

I write like
Arthur Clarke

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Clearly, this is a reliable source, because they got his name right and everything.

The first try at this, I provided only one paragraph of the novel I’m working on, and it told me I write like someone I’m really not a fan of.  After I recovered, I added a few more paragraphs and it gave me results that I like. Wisely, I’m stopping there, and I’m going to continue with the second draft of my book.

Edit: The more pages I add, the more it changes. I can’t seem to stop. I became giddy when analysis of 5 pages told me I write like Stephen King. I can’t top that so I’m stopping. For real this time.

Another Fractal Friday Already?

I’m afraid so.  Hedda and I were working on another article on love, she has a lot of wisdom to share, but she became distracted when we got rid of the Ugly Couch and found this:

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She thinks we’ve been invaded by Borrowers. She’s been watching the hole with such vigilance that she’s forgotten all about giving advice to the masses.  She’s talking about mounting an expedition into the hole.  I’m talking about buying some spackle.

With that in mind (curse Hedda’s single-mindedness!) I’m left with a Fractal Friday update.

1. Last night I played Universalis for the first time ever.  I had so much fun, I should write a formal review – another thing to put on the list!  I would love to play again, even if it’s something different from the story.  Personally, I wanted to see how it ended, but it was late and the host wanted to go to bed.

We created the story of two kingdoms – one on land, one under the sea.  The badger king sent his Knight Ermine to the underwater kingdom to recover a stolen artifact.  A pirate ferret on the run was in the underwater kingdom, seeking enough treasure to get his high maintenance princess girlfriend to run away with him.  He gets caught up in the Knight Ermine’s quest to find the Golden Hook when the agent of the Leviathan Cult comes after him to steal the magic charm he carries…

Well.  There was more pending, but we ran out of time.  I’d love to finish the story, but more likely we’ll start from scratch last time.  Not everyone in our group liked the talking animals schtick.

2. I have a new but deep love of storytelling RPGs. I haven’t met one I didn’t like – I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the Indy Games room at Gen Con.

3. I had my first serious fangirl moment when I found out Mercedes Lackey is going to be at Gen Con.  She was one of the few women fantasy/sci-fi authors I found when I was a kid.  She made it seem possible for me to do what she does – tell stories.  I wasn’t even this excited about getting Wil Wheaton’s autograph.

Things I’m Working On:

Profiles and a portfolio for freelance work

Plans for an eventual website of my own

The revision of Underside (Novel)

Revising a short story about an alien encounter

Learning SEO – I feel like I’ve got a grip on it, but I haven’t finished the book.  I need to do that before I make official changes to my profiles.

Fractal Friday – A Random Update

I swore to myself when I started this blog that I’d post at least once a a week.  Now that it’s Friday with no post, I’m feeling a large amount of pressure, self-imposed deadline or not.  So, in honor of this moment, I’m going to start a weekly Fractal Friday, where I post a list of what’s happening with me, and try my best to be entertaining.

1. I’m learning SEO and relearning HTML.  My goal is to break free of the corporate cage I’ve found myself in and go freelance.  It might just be a crazy dream, but it’s helping me get up in the morning.

2. The dog has gone an entire week without chewing up anything I own.  I call that progress – I’m getting very good at hiding my stuff from her.

3. Secretly, Fridays are not that amazing to me.  For one, I still have to work on Fridays, even if I have tomorrow off.  For two, I feel more pressure to finish projects on a Friday, because if I don’t it will sit on my desk all weekend and collect stress like dust.

4. Last week I went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness, after successfully dodging all spoilers.  I loved it.  I also discovered that going to the movies on a weeknight is a brilliant idea, it’s much easier to get good seats and the place isn’t completely packed.

4. I got up an hour late today. I woke up about 15 minutes before my alarm with a cramp in my right leg.  Once I got through it, I decided there was no way I was getting up on that note, and set my alarm back an hour.  

5. I could do that, because I’m the crazy person who gets up an hour before I have to, so i can work on my writing or other projects before work.

6. My cats know my schedule.  If i’m in my office five minutes later than usual Karma will walk up and complain to me.  I don’t think it’s concern that I get to work on time.  She’s trying to score some kitty treats.

That’s it for today.  I hope this was entertaining enough for being written on the fly.  May the Force be with you all.

Hedda Is Helpful – Love Advice Part I

How To Tell If He (Or She) Is Into You

Hedda is recuperating from her traumatic encounter with the dog.  During her recovery, she has had some down time to rest and reflect.  She’s had a few hard knocks in life, which makes her think she can advise others on how to avoid the pitfalls she’s encountered.  Today she’d like to share her insight on how to tell if that special someone is just as into you as you are into them.

ImageHedda has been unlucky in love.  She’s learned quite a bit from bitter experience, most recently as she gets the cold shoulder from Tony Stark (would it kill him to send a get well card?).  These are her thoughts.  Take them for what they’re worth.

1. They don’t get up and leave when you join their table.  As surprising as it may seem, most folks like to be with their love interests.  If they don’t mind standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you, an occasional flirtatious touch, or when you lick their face*, then view that as a positive sign.  If they put physical distance between you at every opportunity, that’s another matter.

2. They do not avoid eye contact.  You look at them, they look back at you.  If they smile or even blush, then Hedda has good news for you (see #4).  If they avoid eye contact with you at the cost of walking into doorways or falling out of windows, Hedda would advise you to go after someone a little more graceful.  Health insurance is expensive these days, something to bear in mind when looking for a mate.  Sometimes your wallet needs to come ahead of your heart.

3. They return your calls.  Some of you might be looking for a magic number of times you can call before they return your messages, but Hedda doesn’t have one.  She notes that leaving messages until their voicemail is so full they have no choice but to listen to them is ineffective.  Her guess is that texting has a similar limit, and that you should at least stop to have a sandwich between each try.  Your crush could be eating, sleeping, showering, or pursuing other activities that help them stay alive, and so remain a potential mate.  That’s assuming that kind of thing is important to you.**

4. They seek you out.  You enter the room, and you lock eyes with your crush.  If your crush smiles back and approaches, you either have a friend or they’re interested.  Congratulations – you have inspired positive feelings about you in another person!  This is a beneficial life skill.  If they seek you out and initiate any kind of physical contact, even better! ***

5. Their hints and flirtations do not require the Rosetta Stone to decipher them.  The following clues are ambiguous and should not be acted upon without more concrete evidence: They like your Facebook status.  They allow you to buy them ice cream.  They commend you for taking a bath.  These clues may not be clues at all. In fact, they may be nothing more than common politeness or a willingness to let you buy them things.  Do not let yourself fall into the trap of reading more into the color of their sneakers than is actually meant.  Sometimes a shoe is just a shoe.  Sometimes an ice cream cone is nothing more than a dessert.

hedda2

Hedda is no expert, but she has learned from experience, and hopes her advice and warnings come in handy.  As always, when seeking advice on the internet, consult your own common sense and legal counsel before acting on what you find.

*Note: Hedda does not condone face-licking without due warning and/or permission.  She is also taking my advice into consideration, that licking someone’s face is not an appropriate ice breaker.
**Hedda does not believe in being shallow, but will concede that hygiene might matter to non-trolls.
***We still advise against face-licking at this juncture.

We regret to inform you…

Hedda met a dog.

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We’re all glad she didn’t meet Sylar as it first appeared, but as you can see there is some damage.  We’re very proud of Hedda for keeping a stiff upper lip and a smile on her face through this tough time.

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This isn’t the first time my boyfriend’s dog destroyed my belongings, and I should really know better than to leave my stuff out where she can get it.  I thought my bag of knitting and Hedda was in a high, safe place.  I guess I was wrong.

I’ll have more depth to my posts next week, but today I’m getting ready for a weekend out of town – assuming I survive the day at work.

For Public Consumption

The Underside revision continues.  The funny things is, I can point out the exact sentence when I finally figured out where the story was really going.  At that point, I sat down and made new notes about each of the main characters and their motivations.  I wrote down a basic outline of what had to happen by the end of the book.  The writing improved immensely from that point on.

 

That still leaves me with 20,000 words of Fail, but I’m not letting that stop me.  Once I get past this first part, the revision should be smooth sailing.  

 

With nothing more exciting to report, I have a short story I’d like to share, taking a page from Troy Blackford.

 KLAUS

     I dreamed that Klaus told me he was coming, and I woke up believing it.  I took my shower with fear and joy in my heart, his message echoing in my head. 

     He spoke my language so perfectly, I only knew he was foreign because he’d told me so.  Once I knew, it seemed obvious.  Something about the way his O’s circle his tongue, the way his teeth cut his T’s at such sharp angles, they now seem to be neon signs pointing to the fact that Klaus is not from around here.  I wondered, that I never noticed them before.  Without them, he could be from anywhere, somewhere in this country that’s remote and far off, that I’ve heard of but never been to, so its way of speaking is unknown to me.  That could be Klaus’s accent, if he was from my country.  But he isn’t.  He said so, and I believe everything he tells me.

     I hummed his message as I rinsed my hair of shampoo, tasting the vowels, trying to say them just as he had.  “I’m coming,” I repeated, over and over.  “Wait, because I’m coming.”

     My day passed me by, the way it did every day.  I went to the bank.  Customers came to the bank.  I helped them, or I didn’t.  They left, and then I left.  Money changed hands a lot.  None of it was mine.  

     Klaus didn’t come.  After some reflection, I wasn’t surprised.  A bank wasn’t Klaus’s kind of place.  He was more a credit union kind of guy.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he buried his life savings in his back yard. I resolved to do the same, when I had savings to bury.

     I ate my lunch in the park across the street.  Peanut butter and lettuce on wheat.  It was all I had, but I hate the grocery store.  I’ll eat every bite of what I already have before I go to that place.  I’d pay people to buy my food if I could afford it.  Klaus wouldn’t be there either.  If he went to the grocery store, it would be at three in the morning, with no one else there but a couple of drunks and an insomniac.  I thought about grocery shopping so late, the aisles full of no one but stockers with their boxes and pallets, and me with my cart weaving around them.  That might be acceptable.  I might try that.

     Klaus didn’t find me eating my lunch.  I still waited.  The message wasn’t exact.  I knew he would come to me, whether it was that day or in a week, or in a year.  He was on his way, but traveling took time.  I was going to be ready when he did come, waiting for him with perfect patience.

     I have a thing for men in trench coats, I always have.  That isn’t because of Klaus.  He has a shaggy trench coat of his own, but it defies something as ridiculous as having ‘a thing.’  It is its own ‘thing.’  Now that I’ve seen it, all other coats are just echoes of Klaus’s trench, mere shadows that it casts.  Clearly, my attraction to long coats was a premonition of my attachment to Klaus.   

     I had a trench coat of my own, but it’s gone now.  I couldn’t bear to own it anymore.  I thought that it would bring me closer to Klaus.  I wanted to be like him.  But it felt like a joke hanging off my shoulders.  It itched, so I buried it alive.  I can’t match Klaus.  I can’t be that close to him.  I don’t know why I try.

     It was because of trench coats that I met Micah.  Micah’s trench was cashmere and black, trim, concise, even where the coat hung down it seemed spare.  But I encountered it when I wasn’t expecting it, turning a corner.  When I saw the trench I stared, smiling before the thought was filtered through that this was not Klaus’s coat.  It was utterly unlike Klaus’s coat.

I still remembered the message.  I expected him every moment.  I saw Micah’s trench, when I expected Klaus.  When I saw it was someone else, it was already too late.

     Micah had a nice smile, and he asked me to step into the coffee shop with such calm it reminded me of Klaus.  Maybe I went in because I thought he was Klaus, wearing another face.  Maybe I just wanted to smell the coffee.  I didn’t drink my coffee.  I ate Micah’s cookie and listened to his life.  I told him pieces of mine.  He took the pieces and was satisfied.

It was decided we would have dinner together.  I could wait while I ate my dinner, I reasoned.  I could master multitasking. 

     Micah was clever.  He left his trench coat at home, so it would not remind me, as if I needed reminders.  But perhaps I did.  As we talked, as we ate, as we walked in the dark, Klaus receded like the tide, leaving bits of flotsam and treasures on the shores of my mind.  I shared some with Micah.  Some I tossed back into the water.  Some I treasured for myself. 

     Micah taught me about bands, about statements.  He told me about the war.  As we walked to my house, he told me about supernovas and black holes.  He told me about infinity.  I listened to him, but I had nothing to say.  I don’t know anything about infinity.

     Klaus was standing in the shadows on the porch when Micah and I arrived at the house.  I didn’t see him standing there until he stepped forward.  Micah fell silent.  He could see that there was something about Klaus, maybe from the way I moved away from Micah when I saw him, but not towards my visitor.  Maybe it was the way I stopped talking mid-sentence, and the way my breath all escaped at once.

     Klaus looked at me for a long, awkward moment.  I’d been waiting for Klaus to come, but now that he was at my door, I wasn’t ready for him.  I hadn’t prepared.  Micah was with me, and I didn’t know how to make him leave.  I didn’t want to cut ties completely, but I’d been waiting for so long.  I wanted Micah gone.  I wanted Micah to come back later.  I wanted Micah to stay so I had something to hang onto, in case Klaus evaded me again.  I reached for Micah, but dropped my hand before he could take it.

     “I see you’re busy,” Klaus said.  “I’ll come back.”

     “No,” I said.  “Can you wait?”

     But Klaus left.  He was gone before I saw he really was going.  A wicker chair rocked where he’d been.

     “Should I go?” Micah asked.  He was already at the bottom step, ready to leave.  I saw him there and was afraid. 

     “No.  Stay.  Come inside, come upstairs.”  My house had three floors, with garrets and a cupola that was my pride.  I left the first floor mostly unused.  I did my living on the upper floors.

     “All right.”  His chin lifted again.  His cheeks were marble smooth.  He smiled, and they bent, not so much like marble.  He peered into the darkness on the porch.  His smile stayed the same, so I can only assume he saw nothing. 

      Micah followed me inside, up the stairs, and up to my cupola.  We had wine and toasted the infinite stars, or I did, while he helped me drink the wine.  It was sweet and bitter at the same time, like Micah’s lips, and his tongue that did not curl his O’s.  But Micah was there, and within my reach, wanting to touch and be touched.  Wanting clothing to spatter across the floor like paint.  When it was over, Micah slept in my bed under the single sheet, while I sat on the edge.

     I looked out the window and wished I could see the stars.  There was only a blurred light behind the clouds, betraying the moon’s position.  The wind was whistling around the house.  

     Klaus had left.  He would return, he had said so.  Next time, I would be ready for him.  Next time, I would go with him.

I heard Micah’s breathing change, and he closed his fingers around my wrist.  “Come sleep,” he said.  His words were heavy and tired.  His eyes were still closed.

     “Later,” I said.

     “Hmmuma.”  Micah rolled over, releasing me.  I stood up, and I went to the window and looked out.  The tree outside my window made a veil over the glass, showing me the lawn in tatters between the twigs.  I thought I saw the shape of Klaus, against the grass, but when the twigs shivered in the breeze I saw I was wrong.  He was gone.

     I looked the shape of the man under the sheets.  I’d stopped waiting, being with him, and started filling and killing the time.  Klaus had found me not-waiting, because of him.  I closed my fist and went to the stairs.  Next time Klaus comes, I want to be ready and alone.  And clearly waiting.

     So I got the knife, and I used it.  Now I can wait.

     I’ll wait forever, if I have to.