Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 -- DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Somehow, I have more than 50,000 words. And somehow, I think amidst all the crap, I even pulled out at least one or two very intriguing twists to follow up on. Twists I had no clue were in this story's potential. And the last one, the one that put me over the top, I started writing it and thought it was way out there, so far out there that I might have been bullshitting my way completely to the finish line, until I realized that it did indeed tie so extremely smoothly into a plot twist I'd started at the beginning of the evening, the one inspired by the child's teeth falling out, that it's like I planned it all along. But I believe I mentioned the other night that generally when I start a paragraph, I have little idea how I'm going to finish it. And usually it works. This one worked FREAKILY well.

I'll ponder sharing some of it tomorrow, but I don't want to give away my main plots should this actually make it into finished form ... so I'll just say this, have you ever thought of how weird it is that kids' teeth fall out and regrow in? As if our creator was problemsolving how to put us together, and realized that teeth, unlike hair and skin and organs and bones, were not something that could just grow with the creature as they matured. I could see the creator, he or she or otherwise, smacking their head against the desk trying to figure this one out. Teeth must be hard enough to bite and grind, which means they couldn't grow, but they must be utilized whether the creature was young or old in order to fuel the growth ... it would be quite the chicken and the age conundrum, only to eventually be solved with the bizarre (in my mind) two sets of teeth.

So, if you were creating humans, how would YOU solve the teeth issue? Or is there some other part of human function that just seems so bizarre and un-logical that it's likely the result of a very tired scientist/engineer creator who decided enough was enough and it was time for humans to exist already, and trusted that he'd dealt with the ingenuity and free will side of humans enough that they'd figure out how to fix themselves.

And now I'm officially losing it. But I'm done! Time to go post my results ...

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (I lied, here's an outtake)

Not promising good ... eyes blurry. But I have less than 1,000 words to go, and just under two hours. Yes, I need to get back to work. But hey, I'm an ex-journalist. Me loves a deadline.

Day 30, late night, bleary-eyed outtake:

Liz ran through the dense woods, barely flinching as tree branches whipped across her cheeks, as nettles began to sting her ankles. Discomfort and pain was not something she cared about right now. Push on she must, push on she will. Keeping going, and going and going. Each bit of pain, each drop of blood, seemed to validate what she was after. Validate the pursuit that could cost her life, but would hopefully save a generation.

P.S. This one's for you Ed: No kids puked tonight. The boy did, however, beg and do a little dance to try to get a bowl of brown sugar for dessert. Even better ... and even better boogie dance to go with the begging ... how about a bowl of brown sugar on top of CANDY!?!?!? He was so denied. But so persistent.

Ok ... back to work. Don't want to flake out this close to the finish line.

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (so close I can taste it ...)

Less than 1,500 words to go and spelling has gone out the window. This is where I close my eyes and type. I'm tired, and even with my eyes open I can barely see the page. Thank you Megan for your kind words, and helping push me to the final lap. Back to the blurry page and the final lap ... no promises of excerpts tonight, or even tomorrow. I will definitely be doing some reflection ... but when I finish, I may just collapse. Sandpaper eyes cometh ... must go finish ...

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (getting there!)

Less than 5,000 words to go, and about four more hours. I did more than 3,000 in the last hour and a half, so I'm hopeful. It's not necessarily as "finely crafted" as some of the previous stuff, but I promised myself in the beginning that I would just write. And if I got stuck, I would keep writing. Even if it was crap. And considering this last month has been full of not just regular life, but significant in-house illnesses, lots of holidays that required travel, and what appears to be the end my grandmother's time on this Earth, I think this is pretty good progress. I could even probably call it a night and be proud of my progress this month. But this particular grandmother in question, well, she'd tell me to keep going. To not worry about the what and just do. My grandmother was a writer. An editor. A mentor. And a big force in my "writer life," as well as my life in general. And so, I keep her alive with writing, and persistence, and stubbornness, and if you come over, I'll feed you until you're overflowing. But more on all that later. My grandmother still breathes the last I heard, even if for not much longer. And I have words to write. I can imagine her, as I write this, shaking her finger at me to get back to work and giving me a playful wink and a hug. So back to work.

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 (here we go ...)

I came into the evening not knowing what the heck to write. I think I might have grasped a hair of inspiration thanks to the tooth-shedding eldest child. We'll see how that works. If it does, it will lead to a nice little twist in my story I wasn't expecting. Off to writing ... 5-1/2 hours to go.

Let the holiday season commence ...

Tomorrow is Dec. 1, which means the beginning of a month of magic. Parties and potlucks and all kinds of crazy socializing. This weekend kicks it off with several tree lightings ... tonight is the Proctor Tree Lighting ... Sunday you have Downtown's 61st Annual Holiday Tree lighting.

Metro Parks has some great stuff going too ... and next weekend is the The Dickens Festival.

And no matter whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or something else or nothing at all, come Dec. 31 ... don't forget about the fabulousness of First Night. An arts-centric, family friendly event downtown that will be going on until the clock strikes 12. Buy a button for $7 in advance, or $8 the day of, and you can get into museums, you can get discounts on food, and you can enjoy all sorts of music and many performances in and around the downtown Theatre District.

More details coming soon ...

Enjoy the magic of the season. (Have I mentioned before that I love sweater weather?)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 29 (24 hours to go!)

I made a little progress. Not much, but a little. I have an awful headache that won't go away, and I'm distracted. But I wrote about 1,500 words ... which only means a little more than 8,000 for tomorrow. I better go dream some plotlines, because I'm stuck. I have some areas I definitely need to fill in, but I'm kinda stuck. Hopefully it's just the headache and tomorrow I'll blaze ahead and hit that 50,000. If I get stuck, I might just have to write some crap.

In the meantime, no outttake today. It wasn't the most interesting stuff, and you got a long one the other day. And my head hurts too much to pick one. Must. Go. Find. Tylenol. Goodnight!

Random lost person ...

I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of 505 Broadway's sales offices being at 711 St. Helens. I ran into a very lost person today, and pointed them in the right direction. But I'm seeing where they got confused ... seeing as Broadway is just a hop skip and away. It would be one thing if they weren't named "505 Broadway" ... but having 505 Broadway sales offices at 711 St. Helens? Which is right at the intersection of some very crazy and confusing streets? Ouch. Great location -- both places. But wow. Confusing. And mostly due to the address naming. I hope they make super-duper extra efforts to let folks know that the name of their place is not the address to their sales center ... as they seem to have some intriguing layouts, including HUGE master suite layouts. Wow. Huge. If you're a couple or single, these master suites rock even in the one-bedroom units. And I think in one 2-bedroom layout I saw a giant closet with a window. These are some very spacious places ... but I don't know the price tags. Not cheap, I'm sure. But worth a look if you can swing it! But if you're looking for the sales office, don't let the name fool you. Just sayin' ...

THE FINE PRINT: Lots of people get lost in this block due to the irregular street layout in this specific area between South 7th and South 9th. It's a fabulous place to shop and wander, but it can be confusing. I just thought it's funny that with all the Marcatos and Triangle Townhomes and other "named" developments, that the one with an address as its name located on a really confusing address corner, and the giant sign out front with the development's "name" doesn't help the matter. But until you build, where are you gonna put the place? So this is more I feel sorry for them having to deal with this conundrum right now. They have a really beautiful set up in that office. I enjoy walking by it. Which bodes well for the final project ...

Back to the grindstone ...

Last night I had a late work meeting, which meant no NaNo-ing ... and today I've been busy with the South Sound Technology Conference, where there was a news blog panel, a parenting blog panel, and a civic blog panel. No time to pontificate tonight, as it's back to NaNoWriMo writing, as it's just over 24 hours to go, and nothing was done last night. For now, I'll just say, I enjoyed hanging out with the the TacomaGnome, Elle, TacomaMama & Beast Mom in the front row. And sorry to Mr. Editor for my bit o' mama brain affecting my ability to read lips as he attempted to tell me how to use his camera through mime. Luckily, it was Elle to the rescue. And, Mr. Editor, I have a couple decent pics of you I'll e-mail once I download them.

Ok, back to the novel ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaNoWriMo: final countdown ...

I passed the 40,000 word mark! Considering that less than a week ago I was only in the mid-20,000s, well, I'm very happy. I have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday until midnight left to write and I have less than 10,000 words to go. I know I'll have plenty more work later on regarding this novel, as I weave the pieces together, edit, strengthen the plot line (which only one of you has seen in anything resembling a fleshed out form ... those pieces are SO not online), etc.

I have hope.

And now that I've crossed this next-to-final threshhold, I'm fairly confident I'll make it to the last one ... but we shall see. I don't want to be writing "the end" 5,000 times. (Kidding. Wouldn't do that. I'd write boring s*** before I did that. Promise.

OK. I think bedtime is in order. To celebrate over-40,000 ... yeah, that's it. I'm not tired or anything, no ...

NaNoWriMo: random

I gesture a lot when I write. Especially when I write fiction. Especially when I'm trying to get a better handle on a theme or a word or something else that is on the tip of my tongue ... or my fingers, if you will.

Laugh if you will.

It seems to work.

Those who've seen me talk when I'm excited won't be too surprised.

If you haven't ... let's just say you don't want to sit/stand too close. Just might accidentally smack you. I'm a handtalker. I admit it ...

NaNoWriMo: Pure weirdness

I just tried to type the word "program" and instead I typed the word "brother." WTF?

I swear, I never had these typing mind blips before I had kids. I'd like to blame it all on the fact that I type really, really fast and perhaps I just get ahead of my thoughts. I even typo my own name ... but it's just letter flipping. One hand tends to get ahead of the other. But seriously, I've noticed this a lot lately ... I think one word, and a completely different word comes out. It's spooky.

Did I mention I used to be a copy editor? Aren't you glad I'm on a different career path now?


NanoWriMo: Day 27 (the insanity!)

First, I'd like to say, do you have any idea that I sometimes start my paragraphs without knowing what the end of said graph will look like? Seriously. I just start writing and hope something makes sense. That's how NaNoWriMo has been, which is why I could blaze through 12,000 words the other day. That and I had pent-up ideas after several day soff in a row.

Right now ... I haven't had several days off in a row and I've been rushing to catchup up before Friday's midnight deadline. And I'm starting to run a little slow on ideas. A lot more has been put onto computerized paper that anyone who's been following this trail of tears has seen ... but I'll admit, with hours to go, I'm starting to falter. I could use a kick in the pants. I could use an infusion of outside creativity. If anyone out there has any theories. If you have any ideas of where you'd like to see this story go, please comment. Please e-mail me. Please something. I would appreciate it whole-heartedly. I have until Friday at midnight, and I know if even one or two people could put their hypotheses into my conciousness, I could blaze through the final few thousand words. Whether I agreed with them or not, I feel confident I'd be able to riff on it. And thus I beg ... if you've read any of this, send me a few lines. A quote. An idea. Really, anything. I'll probably make it through ... but I need to kick some action into this storyline, and I'm still a little rough on this.

However, faithful friends and random followers, I did force myself a bit into the dark side if you will today. Trying to get a bit of action. A little less ho-hum. And thus today's excerpt is next, and then back to writing for me ... warning: it's long. I didn't shorten it up as much as usual.

Day 27 outtake:

Chill at her cheeks. Warm beverage in her hands. Liz stood uphill from the tallest building in town. Most of the windows were dark. Many had gone home for the day. But the 10th floor was still blazing bright. Liz smiled. The 10th floor. What went on at the 10th floor … oh, if only the walls could talk. The testing. The plotting. The targeting. And quite likely plenty of torture on top of all the other horrible things that were masterminded out of these offices. The insurance agencies and bankers and other professionals who passed these evildoers each day in the elevator or escalator had no idea who their neighbors were. GENTECH is all the door said. Innocent enough. The genetic industry was big in the Northwest. And most were making revolutionary advances in medicine. ... But not all of them. And this particular one definitely qualified as the not one of them. They knew what they were doing. They’d seen the proof. They’d covered it up. They’d murdered to cover it up. And this wasn’t a floor of scientists doing a job and not having seen the studies. These were the ones who stayed late because cover-ups have to happen at all hours of day. Liz spotted a wooden bench a few feet away, and decided to have a seat. As she bent down, her cellphone rang.


“Hey.” It was Agent Miles. He was positioned a few blocks closer. Waiting for the blonde to enter the building.


“She just walked in. Give it 5 minutes and then you know what to do.”

“Gotcha.” And she flipped her phone shut.


Liz looked back at her watch. It was time. She flipped open her cell phone and called Agent Miles.


“We still good?”

“Yup. I’ve heard from the other two as well, and no one’s left the building since blondie went in.”

“Good. Just checking. Ready?”

“Ready or not, here we come.”

Liz flicked her phone back shut and stuffed it into her pocket, then fumbled around for the other device. Pulling out a small, glossy red square, she polished its cover for a bit. Any passerby would have thought it was just a fancy cellphone. But it wasn’t. She flicked the cover of this one open, and inside was a button that glowed red. She took one more glance toward at the tallest building in downtown. She watched as the 10th floor glowed with business. She saw figures moving by the windows. She was pretty sure she recognized the blonde’s shadowy strut. And she pressed the button.

Everything happened in slow motion after that. A deep boom seemed to come from beneath the earth. She watched as the 10th floor grew even brighter with flame. From the elevator shaft out the brightness expanded until the windows around the floor shattered. Glass poured down on to the empty sidewalk, into the empty square. It hailed glass. Flames lept out. It was as if they’d discovered the horror into which they’d been sent and the flames started trying to leap out the window. Of course they weren’t. There was a body or two that fell. Folks trying to make a fruitless attempt at escape. Ten floors they fell. Slowly doing cartwheels in the air. And into the square they landed. Unmoving. Dead. She could hear the screams from blocks away. A part of her cringed. But she’d seen what they’d done. Heard screams much closer. Heard the wailing. Seen the faces. Seen the product of their deceit. Her face burned with anger. Her conscious was clear.

NaNoWriMo: Day 26

Well, it's after midnight, but just barely. I've been steadily catching up, writing more than 12,000 words between Saturday night and Sunday night, and now another couple thousand tonight, meaning just over 13,000 words to go, in four days, in order to make the goal I set out for. Attainable, but barely. There's a night meeting in there. That could cause trouble, but likely not much more than the children who tonight enjoyed running in every half hour to tell me they weren't asleep or this or that. We won't talk about the raisins all over the floor. I did take time out to enjoy dinner with them, and hear about the letters to Santa they're writing. Next week things will return a bit more to sanity, though I'm hoping to at least somewhat keep the writing thing up, though perhaps not with quite the output expectation this last month has meant. Besides, next month I'll be needing to grab some index card and start writing down all the bits and pieces I've written up and try to put them in some sort of sensical order. While writing this, I've truly solidified my membership card in the Right Brain Club. My structure is definitely not lineal. And as much as I think some of it's pure crap as I write it, more and more seems better as I glance back. But there's definitely some plot stumpage that requires me to sleep on it to move forward as quickly as I hope. And with that in mind, I wrap this up and go to sleep.

Day 26 excerpt:

Therese sat on the couch. Unmoving. Her face was a bit gray. Liz wasn’t quite sure what to say to her friend. Therese was obviously in a different world, her eyes distant. Her mouth still, not edging up or down. Just still. Therese had just gotten home from the hospital. She’d miscarried 6 months into her pregnancy. Six months into a pregnancy that was 10 years in the making. And she hadn’t been old when she started. A mere 25. ... It should have been easy. It should have been a no-brainer. In Therese’s family, it was a well-known joke that her parents had conceived her and her six brothers and sisters on every kind of birth control known to mankind. She was a condom baby. Two of her sisters were conceived on the pill. Her youngest brother was brought into the world while her mother was on Depo. Another two brothers … IUD. And the eldest, of course, was a present from the rhythm method. But of Therese and her six siblings, only one had been able to conceive. The other six, all married by 25 and trying by 30 hadn’t been able to seal the deal no matter how many methods and interventions they tried. Adoption was definitely an option, but somehow, slowly, quietly, the adoption world was no longer clamoring for parents.

Now I really have you confused, don't I. Really, this is the same story. Just wait. You'll see. Maybe. If I ever finish ... off to dreamland, hoping to dream of some plot bridges.

Afterthought: I take little comfort in the fact that if I added up all my blogging on this novel writing, that I'd probably be over 50,000 words. Add in the procrastinating e-mails while I should have been noveling. The messaging. The stupid Facebook pirate game. ... I don't want to think about it. Ok. Sleep. Really, will go sleep now ...

Monday, November 26, 2007

A T-Town bakery review and wish list

Independent bakeries have long held a soft spot in my heart. Perhaps it's rooted in my helping make chocolate chip cookies when I was still in diapers, or perhaps it's nostalgia from when I was 5 or 6 and my brother and I would cross the street from my family's bookstore in downtown Oregon City to Muno's Bakery to buy teddy-bear cookies. All. By. Ourselves. (With parents watching through the window, I'm sure.) While my husband is the household chef, baking has long been my niche in the kitchen. My aunt co-founded a fabulous little bakery called Vinmans Bakery in Ellensburg, where everything is fabulous and drool inducing. This weekend, I visited the kitschy Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland for my first time, and it inspired me to reflect upon the purveyors of baked goods in hometown T-Town, and ponder what might still be missing ...

In no particular order ...

Margaret's Cafe isn't your stereotypical bakery. It's actually more of a cafe, but Margaret does plenty of baking to qualify for this list. And since it's quite likely the one I frequent the most due to its proximity to work, I'll list her first. In addition to salads and soups and other great meals, she bakes her own rolls, offers coconut and peanut-butter chocolate cupcakes, cookies, biscotti, scrumptious brownies, occasional pies and so much more that I probably don't even realize. I tried her chicken stew the other week with a roll at the bottom of the bowl -- yum. And apparently around the holidays she takes roll dough and pie orders. And she caters, too.

Pao's Donuts is probably the place I frequent next often. If you hadn't guessed, they make donuts. Some of what I believe are the best within the City limits. And while not as quirky as some of PDX's Voodoo odd offerings, they are still unique. One of my favorites is the honey-glazed chocolate donut or the apple-spice. And the cruellers and fritters? Yum. Just make sure to bring cash. And I will warn you, the place doesn't look like much from the outside. I've talked to many folks who have seen it, but never ventured in. Let's just say they spend more time on the food then the decor, and that's a good thing. I love the fact that you get a wide array of folks in there, from families in beat-up Eurovans (that would be my family) to folks driving brand new jaguars. Great people, great donuts.

Corina Bakery. A fabulous place for cake, bars, cookies and so much good stuff. It was about exactly a year ago that I first ventured through their doors during my first month on the job in my still-pretty-new downtown career. I think it might have even been my first week on the day job that I walked through their doors and selected a piece of egg nog cheesecake. And while I'm done with eggnog lattes, I think I might be venturing back up the hill this holiday season to see if this tasty treat is back. Since that visit, I've become addicted to their magic bars, and they've gone from lovely hole-in-the-wall to lovely locale with a recent remodel that's as decadent as their goodies.

Hello, Cupcake. This cutie pie place in downtown T-Town, right smack on Pac Ave seems to have been busy since day one. I don't think I've been able to walk by once without seeing someone heading in, or heading out with a pink box. I tried a variety box back in September, and was a bit disappointed in the cake, but I've had a bite of their red velvet more recently, and I've heard other reports that makes me thing that they've worked the beginning bugs out -- which is fabulous. It's a great concept, and a great addition to Tacoma's re-emerging bakery scene.

Le Donut. I gotta say, I have yet to get here. Donuts are occasional Sunday morning treats and Pao's on the west end of 6th Ave is nearer to me than this downtown destination. But I've heard fabulous things and whole-heartedly encourage a try if you're in search of donuts near downtown!

I've also heard Upper Crust on North 21st does some bread baking and occasionally other goodies. And there's of course the Safeways around town. But as for independent bakeries, that's all I know of now that Frisbee's, Harbor Bakery and Elena's (did I remember that right -- it was in Proctor ...) are all gone. And what's missing, at least in my book? Bread. I think there's still a Great Harvest store in University Place, and that's just a small chain. But when it comes to independent bakeries and bread ... there don't seem to be any options right now. Am I missing someone? Because I gotta say, I may need to make an Ellensburg run soon ... or I suppose Olympia's Wagner's would be a bit closer. Because as much as I love bakery goodies, but I miss really good specialty bakery bread.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 25 outtakes

Well, I'm making up ground fast. Between tears and fears and pure procrastination, I'm forcing myself to make a final push to the end. I think I have some good stuff in store. Whether or not I'll figure out completely how all the bits and pieces tie together by the end of the month, I'm not sure. But in all honesty, I think that once I map out the bits I have, and write out the characters and the plot, there are several folks I know I can tap to help flesh out the spots I'm stuck. My writer's group, my parents, my pals, there are many who will readily feed me ideas if only to get me to finish the damn story so they can see where everything fits together. I know because when others are stuck, the answers seem sometimes obvious to me. I'm counting on the bridges to my canyons being obvious to others, and thus I continue to write. Following the tips of many of the NaNoWriMo guest columnists, when I get bored, I jump. I go explore another realm. When I feel the storyline stagnating around a particular scene, I wrench myself away from it. Push myself away.

And thus today's scene, which I really can't believe I'm posting. No blushing allowed. I opened the doors and this is what came out. No apologies. And, ok, a few blushes. But hey, I went to VooDoo Donuts in Porland this weekend. And I visited my grandma. I'm feeling a bit daring.

And to my writer group: I will be seeking some input soon. I need some help pole vaulting some canyons. Oh yeah, and I should thank my brother for this evening's excerpt.

Day 25 outtakes:

Liz headed to the molded plastic seating area. Around the corner, true to what the ponytailed order taker said, was racks of pubs. Senior citizen newspapers, real estate listings, autotraders, a few copies of The Oregonian, The Columbian, The Olympian, The Daily News, The Daily World and even The News Tribune out of Tacoma and some copies of The Stranger from Seattle. Lots of commuters must travel through. And of course, there were the nickel ads. As if anything was a nickel anymore. Even the ads must be worth a few dozen nickels by now.

Liz grabbed a copy of the Stranger. She was in a mood for some mindless entertainment. And the Stranger’s “alternative” voice managed to cover fact and fiction in a manner both informative and entertaining, that she might even learn something while distracting herself. It was a nice benefit. On the cover this week. A bucket of geoducks sitting on a vintage scale. Apparently submitted by a reader. It honestly looked like a bucket of castrated penises. Gotta love the geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck for the uninitiated.) And you gotta love that it’s actually the mascot of Olympia’s Evergreen State College. Only Evergreen, with its fuck-if-I-care-what-you-think-of-me reputation would have the balls to pull off such a mascot. There might be no football team, but no one at UW or WSU could pull that one off. They need huskies and cougars to amp up their masculinity quotient. Vicious predators. Evergreen just puts it out there. You want mascots and masculinity? Well then, we’ll just make our mascot a penis. It’s almost like a subtle joke on all the other schools. Mocking their mascots while they think they’re mocking the geoduck. If only they knew.

Along the edge of the alt-newspaper was the faintly visible daily message. This copy was well-used by the time Liz grabbed it out of the bin of earmarked papers, but the words were barely visible. “They’re watching.” Short and simple. Sometimes meaningful, sometimes meaningless. But always there. A little inside joke at times. Today’s was a little too true for comfort. They are watching. Who they’re watching, who knows. What they’re watching, who knows. Everyone? Everything? Liz hoped not. Liz really hoped she’d still managed to stay beneath the radar for the most part. Obviously not completely, as she was learning how on the radar she was for a certain segment of folks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 24 outtakes

I know, I've missed a few days. I've been distracted with family sicknesses, with Thanksgiving holidays, with family and daily duties. And yes, I'll admit, yesterday I was distracted by the stupid, pointless, mindless, strategiclessness "Pirates" game on Facebook. I finally got conned into skipping out on MySpace and started a Facebook account, and then got hooked on the stupid game. I think I've cured myself of the more than 10 minutes at a time though. When after an hour or two I'd gotten "far" ... to level 24, I discovered other folks on levels in the hundreds and thousands. And I have no desire to waste that much time on nothing, with no point, with no skill involved, with no point, and did I mention no point? I may still hop on for 5 minutes or 10 now and again when I need some mindless time, but I think I'm through with the addiction phase.

Plus, while on "Thanksgiving vacation" down in the state without sales tax, I actually had some "adventure dreams" to draw inspiration from. And perhaps the time doing nothing let my brain rest enough to get back to the task of creative writing. I don't know. But I have to admit, I read over some of my last stuff and had forgotten enough that it was interesting. And now I'm kicking myself for not doing some flash cards as I go so I remember plot lines and twists and character name and stuff like that. But I think in December I'll make myself go back through and write all that down, then try to assemble more of an order to all my random scenes so that I can fill in the blanks for a full novel. (Note: Not all are THAT random ... some are on quite a theme, but others from earlier and during points of "I'm stumped" are a bit more random, though I think they are finding there ways in through some interesting "side roads" to the storyline ... I just don't write straight storylines apparently.)

Anyhow, I'm still WAY behind. Don't know if I'll actually hit the 50,000 ... but definitely have a good start on a novel. I'm up to almost 25,000 with less than a week to go. If I can "hit it" every night, I know I can finish" ... but even if not, I've made great headway, and will just have to have a competition for myself. Because sometimes, life happens. Life, and sometimes death, happen. And you have to deal with life even when you want to channel the creative gods. And sometimes, November is not the month the muse hits.

November has been a great muse for me. I've found my lost muse, and I have better discipline ... and hopefully I can keep with it. Whether it means 50,000 by Nov. 30? I don't know. I'm not going to kill myself for it, but I will keep working. This is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and it won't be my last. And for me, winning doesn't necessarily mean winning NaNoWriMo, I've discovered. (Don't tell my teenage uber-competitive self this ... she just might bitch-slap the 30-something version ... kidding. Or am I?)

Today's excerpt thus far:

“Liz!” shouted Viki. “Did you see this? Isn’t this your labmate?”

Liz ambled as casually as she could over to the sofa where her roommate Viki was sitting watching the evening news. Eric was on the television, getting hauled off by the cops. Liz’s face flushed as she heard the reporter talk about how he was being held as a suspect in Colin’s shooting. According to the news reporter he’d been the last one before Colin to enter the lab, and therefore was a suspect. Liz didn’t know what to think. Right or wrong, that could have, should have, been her.

“Oh my,” said Liz. What else was she supposed to say.

“Man,” said Viki, “what is up down there at your lab? Have you even been able to get back to work?”

“Nope. Not yet.”

“Apparently your labmate entered the lab about 20 minutes before Colin, so he’s a pretty strong suspect,” Viki said, filling Liz in on the details she’d missed while doing the dishes.

“Seriously?!?!” This reaction was true. She’d entered maybe 10-15 minutes beforehand, unbeknownst her roomie and apparently most other folks, and just after Eric apparently. She subconsciously rubbed her shin, where a dark bruise had recently formed. And then she remembered … she’d tripped over Eric’s stool. Not something he normally left out. Had he been there, too? Had he just ran into the lab and back out in a hurry, kind of like she had meant to be in, or had he ducked out of sight when she came in … but why? Had he watched her?

Liz’ previous blush was quickly drained from her face and her face and fingers were soon icicles due to the new realization that there might be a witness to her witnessing, and a witness to her return of “the file.” Why would Eric hide when she came in? Any answer made her cringe with the fact that then he had seen her switch the files. Of course, he very likely could have just been in and out. That had been her plan, after all. But Liz was sick with worry. Sick with what-ifs. Sick with who might know what. Sick with not only who already knew where she’d been when, but with who quite possibly might know why she’d been where when. That, she had been secure in thinking was still her secret alone. But perhaps no more. And that was a scary thought.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

7 reasons to love breakfast in Tacoma

I'd been told by coworkers of the wonders of Puget Sound Pizza's breakfast, especially after they moved serving my favorite meal from weekends only to SEVEN DAYS A WEEK of breakfast wonderfulness. I'd attempted going to the FeedTacoma early bird event a few days ago, but an early morning meeting I couldn't skip conflicted. So it wasn't until this week that I found a morning where I was really, really hungry and walking by the fabulous smells that come out of their 7th & St. Helens location (just kitty corner from one of my other favorite places). I couldn't help myself -- I was lured in. And oh, so hungry.

I already know the place and people are fabulous (had the pizza -- yum!) and I was ecstatic to finally get a glimpse of the breakfast menu. I got a chuckle over the "Mother and Child Reunion" (has eggs and chicken ... and other yummy stuff) ... and noted for my brother's girlfriend that they had a nice stack of pancakes for just over $5. (Though, dear brother, no milkshakes on the breakfast menu.)

This particular morning, I decided to keep it small, simple and easily portable (though you can get any of their stuff to-go). I had the breakfast sandwich, which consisted of two fried eggs that were a perfect balance between cooked and runny (such as in, barely runny but not overcooked), two juicy-yet-crisp pieces of bacon (you can also choose sausage or ham) and a croissant roll (there are various bread options). And then I headed back to the office where I hope I didn't torture anyone with the glorious smell of breakfast. I made sure to thank my tipster coworker profusely. So good. SO hit the spot.

I love breakfast.

And so, in no particular order, here is a list of my favorite 7 breakfast spots in Tacoma (outside of my own kitchen -- I make a heck of a french toast strata) ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 19 (no soup for you!)

Progressing being made, but not enough for an excerpt. Looking forward to the long weekend ...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NaNoWriMo:Day 18 (no comment)

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday dear eldest one ...
Happy birthday to you.

Small progress, but not much.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 17 ... Strange kids

After a full day of birthday activities and the middle child fretting about going to bed, he finally comes into my room, and eventually gets over his tantrum and heads back into his own room upon saying "I just needed to clean my head up." Hmmm. Seeing as no writing has happened today ... ditto here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Birthday Shopping in T-Town aka NaNoWriMo: Day 16 (no progress)

The husband might be sick, but that does not change the fact that eldest daughter who just lost her first tooth is about to turn 7. Which meant sick day for mom, lots of local shopping, and another day of no added words for my poor NaNoWriMo novel ...

Today has been spent running kids to and fro, still making two work meetings, getting brother-who-missed-his-bus to the 512 park and ride (we live in N. Tacoma), and spending THREE HOURS shopping with the soon-to-be-7-year-old for birthday presents and birthday party prep. Party: Tomorrow. Birthday: Sunday. And now I'm baking cupcakes and cleaning the living room in order to prep.

So far today, we've been shopping at:

  • Teaching Toys in the Proctor District ... where we picked up a how-to origami book and extra origami paper for the soon-to-be-7-year-old. And where the freshly 5-year-old wanted to only buy things for himself, of course. (Big girl was not on this trip; she was in school.)
  • The Learning Sprout ... where the soon-to-be-7-year-old tried to spend some of her birthday money, and where I tried to find craft ideas, but it was almost as if there was TOO MUCH to choose from. We walked away with a how-to balloon animal book and extra balloon animal balloons (are you sensing a theme here?) and some mini-cookie cutouts.
  • The Bead Factory ... where we bought our craft for the afternoon. We'll be making necklaces. With 6- and 7-year-olds. Wish me luck! We found some great butterfly main beads and lots to fill, and the check-out lady was SUPER helpful with helping me find some stretchy string to put the beads we bought on ... she recommended the magic wire, but the almost-7-year-old wanted the stretchy stuff. So we went that route. Lots of extra beads are expected .. .yay!
  • And Target on Union: Where daughter spent some of her birthday money on a Barbie. I found stuff to put in party bags and many shirts on the clearance rack which should round out the eldest's long-sleeve wardrobe. Yay!
Now, time to bake cupcakes and actually clean up. Ugh. I'm just glad I could do all my shopping in town ... :) Super yay!

However: All this action has meant to NaNoWriMo word progress. However, I am hopeful that once party is over, kids will pass out and I will write with the speed I did LAST weekend and quickly catch up. I miss my NaNoWriMo ... :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 15 (forced day off)

Husband sick. (No Ed, he did not puke on me.)

However, that means having to take the day mostly off and be stay-at-home mom for the day, and for tomorrow. And still make a couple work meetings in between taking kids to and from school. Which means that baby girl got to be my assistant today ... she seemed to like it.

Oh, and tonight the tooth fairy comes. She was asked to pass by last night so that the eldest could take her tooth to school and show her friends. And Saturday is the eldest's birthday party. And Sunday is the eldest's birthday.

And writing will commence. But not tonight. Erik ... you should have DEFINITELY passed me by today ...

Unless I get a bug in the middle of the night and crank a few hundred words out ... hmmmm ... feeling mischievous. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 14 ... day off

I had an 8 a.m. long meeting, and a long meeting until 8 p.m. to wrap up the day. It's been a long day. I know I can catch up. So today: I choose sleep.

(You heard me, no being puked on and I'm STILL taking a day off. I'm such a rebel.)

I will have to just deal with the fact that this means Mr. Erik will likely catch up and/or surpass me with his word county. I'll admit slight joy in having been several hundred, and for a moment a couple thousand, words ahead of him for the last few days. What will I do ... Go Erik! Pass me up! Now's your chance ... tomorrow, I'll be beating my way to the 25,000 line, and by the end of this weekend the 30,000 line ... the race is ON! ;)

On a more productive note, I may have figured out how to put an RSS feed on this sucker ... it should be upper right. I'm new to RSS feeds ... so let me know if it works or not ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 13 outtakes

Had less than an hour, but made progress. Only about 500 words short of where I should be today, which ... considering I had primary parent duties this evening in the getting-them-t0-bed department, and that I gave in to the guilty watching Boston Legal AND Heroes online-because-I-missed-it-last-night ... I'm so bad ... I think that's doing pretty good. Tomorrow my only guilty pleasure is ANTM. And if you don't know what I mean by that acronym, I don't want to admit my guilty pleasure to you. But, basically, I'm admitting to giving in to TV during this novel writing attempt. Can't help myself. And really, I think that keeping up with popular culture can be a good thing. So there. I don't apologize. Just admitting a bit of a weakness. :)

Day 13 outtakes ... my final graph of the night:

He just hoped, he even prayed, that he was playing for the right side. Because sometimes. Sometimes. You just had no clue. The world is a stage, and the people merely players. Merely players. But who … who was the director. That’s what was bugging him. Who was the director. Hell, who was the producer. He was getting tired of only knowing the players …

Monday, November 12, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 12 outtakes (passed 20,000!)

Wow, just passed 20,000 w0rds. Time to take a break ... Eww ... baby girl needs diaper change. Guess I need to attend to parental duties. But I have a feeling I'll be able to crank out a bit more before I got to sleep tonight. (After kids are in bed.) Basically: I'm on a roll! Twists around every turn ... it's a bit surreal. I look forward to going back in the second draft and beefing up certain areas, tightening up others ... but right now I'm just following the plot. I can add better descriptions and tweak the chatter more later. Right now, I need to keep up with figuring out where the storyline is going, as it's quickly escalating into an actual plot.

Day 12 outtake ... he's alive!:

“Hey, did you know Colin Smith?” Viki asked. Liz went cold for a moment and looked over at her roommate. The newspaper was in front of her friend. She was afraid to ask. “Is he in the same lab as you?” asked Viki.

“I think so,” Liz said quietly. “Why do you ask?”

“The guy’s in a coma,” said Viki.

NaNoWriMo: A few reflections on the past 11 days

Eleven days into the 30 days of NaNoWriMo and I've discovered that "write what you know" doesn't necessarily mean what I thought it did, at least not for me.

The first few days, I struggled with trying to start with the known world, and I came up short. I would begin with a situation that I knew, then try to fictionalize ... but trying to take my reality across the great canyon-like divide to my character's fictional world just wasn't working. I wasn't able to make the leap. I'd try, and fall into the deep crevasse with its many sharp rocks. Trying to shed a 13-year relationship and three kids and a long career and many other personal quirks, it was painful. I felt like I was bouncing Homer Simpson-style from sharp rock to sharp rock into the ravine and then trying to pull my damaged, near lifeless character back out. Trying to flesh out one character, I kept thinking "but where did the kids go?" "did they die?" (couldn't go there for a backstory, it's a mom thing) or "but I don't know what single life is like." Every attempt felt like I was cheating on my actual life. It was really silly. But it was simply too personal to start with myself and then try to shed identifiable elements in my effort to channel the fictional world. I couldn't let go. And I spent many hours staring at the computer screen forcing myself to type SOMETHING.

Yesterday was a completely different experience. All of the sudden scenes were flowing out hundreds of words at a time. Instead of hitting "word count" and finding myself 50 or 100 words further when I was hoping for many more, I'd find my word count go up by nearly 1,000 words at a time, and it seemed nearly effortless. Some editing will definitely be needed later, but it's like I'd finally gotten the muse to stay in the room for more than 5 minutes at a time.

The biggest switch? Perspective.

Instead of looking across that canyonlike divide between my nervous reality and the freedom of the fictional world and wondering how to transport myself across the spanse, instead of trying to transform myself into something I'm not, I'm now taking a person from the fictional world and working in some of "what I know" as secondary details to the story. And I feel silly that I was stuck in the first place. I feel like this is knowledge I once knew, that this tact is actually quite elementary -- but my fiction gears were oh, so rusty.

So here's hoping I can keep up the pace ... and seeing as it's a stormy day, a holiday, and the kids are being good ... I might actually get a bit ahead at last and be able to breathe a little easier this week.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 11 outtakes, round 2

Been typing like a madwoman for an hour or two this evening. It's going much better than just a week ago, and I'm definitely making up for lost time from the last couple days of being sick, and being sicked up on. The words are flowing fast, and the story lines are coming together. I might even have a plot by the end of the month, lol.

And in that vein, I need to get back to the writing, especially while it's still flowing out in hundreds-of-words-at-a-time bursts. So, my mini excerpt of the last couple graphs ...

Day 11 outtake, round 2:

With a deep breath, she resurrected a bit of courage and stood up from her dark corner. She saw Colin across the room, lying still on the cold floor with a hole in his head, a pool of blood growing on the floor.

But he moved. Just barely, but she could see he was not gone. Not yet.

NaNoWriMo: Day 11 outtakes (makin' progress)

So, I'm definitely not done for the day. But the kiddos have requested early Thanksgiving, so we're a cookin'. And a couple folks a comin' over. I made pumpkin pie. I made cranberry sauce. There's mashed potatoes, chicken & turkey, bread, cooked pumpkin and so much more.

But I still found time to write today, and am strangely finding a possible blend between my "channeling conflict" storyline and one I'd brought up to my writers group a few weeks back. So perhaps I'll have more of a novel by the end of this than I thought. No matter, the experience is definitely pushing me. Definitely making me realize the areas I need to practice more and challenge myself more if this is something I want to be serious about. And definitely making me realize that creative writing has so many avenues, and I've not traveled the fiction road for far too long.

Anyhow, no one's puking, and dinner's not quite ready, so better post while I can ... :) And Ed, glad I could make you laugh. Meanwhile, we had to change sheets in the middle of the night. But LUCKILY, no splatterage on the laptop. Escaped by inches.

Day 11 excerpt:

Liz wasn’t sure what she was looking at.

She’d left the lab in a hurry that evening, wanting to slip in an early dinner with a girlfriend before settling in with her computer and files for homework. ...

She’d apparently grabbed the wrong files. Shit. Her evening schedule had been closely scheduled in order to allow at least a little time for sleep, and now she was going to have to run back to campus. Liz flipped through the files, hoping that her eyes deceived her and that perhaps she just wasn’t recognizing her own data in her delirious busy-ness. She shuffled through the manila file folders, thumbing through thickly paperclipped bunches of papers, hoping to see her familiar blue medium-point pen markings. But these were all Sharpie-labeled with the handwriting of an engineer -- each line the same, each letter’s slant exactly matching the one before. Perfect, and clearly not hers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 10 (today's excerpt interrupted by puking child)

Baby girl just puked on us. Today's update is postponed until further notice.

Friday, November 09, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 9 (you'll just have to wait)

It's Friday. I'm tired. It's a three-day weekend. I'm finally starting to feel better. I'll soon be writing my heart out. If there are any suggestions or requests for direction attempts, just e-mail me or comment. I'm fearing I'll venture back into the land of the benign, as I'm trying to figure out the next stop of afore-written-about plotline. I may have to start a new line of conflict, but I'll try to pick another part of the already-touched-on storyline. Might be before, might be after ... I think I can do it. But I'm nervous.

But for now: Sleep. New haircuts and new hair colors (not quiet as daring as Ms. Zesty) mean need for sleep. Or should I blame the anarchists. That's it .. .this novel is facing anarchy.

Hmmm ... no, just tired.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 outtakes

The work week is nearing an end, I'm beginning to recover from whatever has been draining my energies, and tomorrow downtown Tacoma could erupt in craziness and potential violence, or a simple peaceful protest. No matter, I'm tired. I plodded through another 1,000 or so words to keep myself somewhat on track. (Only a day and a half behind!) Not the best words, not the worst words. But I'm tired, and am going to treat myself to sleep and see if my dreams can awaken the destiny of my main character's quest. But for now ...

Day 8 excerpts:

First, a follow to yesterday ...

The trio sat in stunned silence. Their breath before them, nothing but the sound of intake and exhale. Then George began to shriek. First it was little more than the sound of a balloon when you slowly let the air out. But it soon escalated into something more piercing than the squealing wheels of a road-racing Mustang or a 2-year-old who’s been told no. But Liz would not be shook. “Tell me,” she insisted. The slight laceration on Davin’s cheek still fresh, he retorted, “Tell you what." His voice was soft but clipped, his lips pursed. He was subdued, but still stubborn. ... “Why I’m here,” she responded. “It’s a pretty standard question. I don’t appreciate being a toy.” The shrieking continued to escalate. George was entering the realm of banshee before Davin spoke again. “You’re not a toy,” he stated. “You’re a weapon.”

Liz kept her gaze on Davin for a few more seconds, trying to read his face, find fact within this man’s fiction. But she couldn’t ignore George’s shrieks anymore. He was now writhing on the ground. As she watched, he began scratching at his clothes, pulling at his hair. He was beside himself. Soon his hysteria led to welts. Then scratches. Then there was blood not of her own hand.

“You’re killing him,” Davin said calmly. Liz kept her position.

“I thought this is what you wanted,” she retorted.

“We wanted to test you,” Davin responded. Unfazed. “It was a success.”

And in another scene (we will return to conflict at a later date) ...

Liz turned as a drunken young man tumbled across the five-way intersection, jolting to a stop every few feet as if he’d just dodged a car. The streets were all but empty, making the stumble-step-step-dodge pattern look like a bad dance routine. Perhaps a clown act. She couldn’t help but stare. When he finally made it across the street, he stood to attention with a goofy grin. Did he even realize his precarious ambling? “You look lost,” he insisted.

And now to ponder ... does he get killed off? Is he a spy? Not human? Or just a distraction for the dear reader ... (quick! Look over there!)

Good night!

Really good chocolate for a really good cause

If you're a chocolate lover and would like to support a really good cause (adoption) by a really great local gal (see blurb in corner as to why this blog is purple this month), you can do both at the same time. Sweet Hope chocolates are only available once, twice and we might be able to talk her into thrice a year, and I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful pink box with brown ribbon last year. And now I can't wait to see what comes with this year's order. The flavor descriptions are enough to make you drool ... this is torture.

But did I mention chocolate? And a good cause? Just a click away.

When the weather is soupy ...

Eat soup! There are plenty of options around town for a good bowl of soup, and lunch specials for those who just need that little something extra to make it a meal ...

My favorite soup haunts:

Margaret's Cafe, 754 St. Helens Ave
Her soups, along with her salads, change daily. But there's a fantastic soup, salad and roll lunch combo that will help you be warm and cozy and the weather is drippy and nippy. Plus, if comfort food is what you're after, she carries some great brownies, cupcakes, pies, scones, cookies and more. And she's currently taking orders for Thanksgiving pies and roll dough (your Thanksgiving guests will thank you ...)

Over the Moon Cafe, 709 Opera Alley
Many folks know of this little treasure on this little enchanting alley practically across the street from Puget Sound Pizza, but I've run across a few folks who don't know they're open for lunch. And they have this great cup of soup and half-sandwich special for under $8! It's phenomenal. It makes me very, very happy. Their famous grilled cheese with that fabulous crab bisque? Divine.

Infinite Soups, 445 Tacoma Ave.
Tiny space, lots of fabulous, fabulous, ecstacy-provoking soups. If you missed them at Farmers Market, or if you miss them now that there's no Thursday Farmers Market for a few more months, they're still cooking soups in their little shop. Little price, lots of taste. But it's just soup, and a roll or crackers. But it's wonderful soup. Did I mention their soup is great? Lots of options, changing all the time. Great soup. Did I mention I really like their soup?

One Heart Cafe, 6th & Fawcett (next to the Grand)
I haven't actually tried this out, but my swim buddy raved about their soups (by Infinite Soups, and did I mention I love Infinite Soups?) and sandwich specials, and how she had a full meal and latte for under $10. Oh, and it was good, too. This locale is the former Kickstand Cafe, which currently underwent a change of management and a complete rehaul. Me thinks I must check it out one of these days ...

Anyone have another soup place for the list?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 7 outtakes (catching up ... and a hint of conflict)

Passed the 10,000 mark tonight, but I'm still a day behind. But that's what weekends (esp. Saturday morning cartoons as far as the kids are concerned) are for! We'll all be happy soon ...

Today is the one-week mark and I've said "blood" in today's text and my main character has even wielded a knife. Plus, I kept to a story line and, inspired by Day 5's comments, I experimented with injecting a bit more assertiveness into my main chickadee rather than keeping with the somewhat accidental heroine vein I'd been following. I'll experiment around with this newfound boldness for a few days and see how it works, but will also be open to returning the original vision or looking for some sort of cross-pollination of ideas to occur.

But before I get to excerpts, I gotta say ... not sure how anything I made up today can beat the reality of seeing a balding Superman hanging out across the street from my office today, paying a little too much attention to the soda can he was cradling. In fact, he even lit the can a few times. Kind of like he was smoking it, like a giant doobie ... Draw your own conclusion. His cape was pretty impressive though. He had a Superman shirt, too. Not quite sure what kind of undercover he was going for. Surprised he didn't run into some other undercover folks ...

And back to business ... since you didn't get any actual excerpts yesterday (though you should really check out the music videos I linked to), here's three biggies:

Early Day 7 excerpt: Moments ago she’d shivered at this strange man’s presence. Now … now she felt like she could break his neck with a look. And she kinda wanted to try. As they made eye contact, it seemed he thought she might too. Liz reached for the vial. Davin seemed to resist for a moment but then let her take it. Over and over she turned it, feeling the cool of the glass, imagining almost a pulsating power within. Color had returned to her face and her eyes betrayed her increasing craving for mischief.

Mid-evening excerpt: “Have you ever wondered what fear smells like?” the man she hunted gasped. Liz stiffened a bit, but remained silent. “Like acid. In your nose, your brain. It feels like jagged ice ... and smells like acid in your head.” His speech was more mutterings than sense. More ramble than real. He was quickly becoming delirious. “I think you need some air,” Liz calmly cooed, taking his hand and leading him to the front door as if they were doing nothing more than calling it a night. The confused and undiagnosed terror in his face was easily mistaken for drunken idiot. As they stepped outside, the man stared, practically paralyzed, into the headlights of his fate.

Final graph of the day: Liz was less than pleased. She fumbled for the knife she’d hidden within her costume and crept toward the two figures with purpose. Davin and George didn’t even notice her until she’d placed the blade of her 6-inch dagger insistently against Davin’s neck. “Imminent, you say? Like a cold dagger?” She pressed harder, and drew the cutting edge slowly across his meaty cheek. Her heart echoed more feverishly beneath her garment’s constraints as she made her demands known. A thin line of blood rose to fill the void. George’s terror only grew with his proximity to Liz and the reality unfolding before him. “I think there’s more you need to tell me," she instructed Davin as she kept the blade pressed against him. "Now."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 6 (a work in progress)

This blog has been delayed due to elections, and last-minute school fundraisers. Sigh. I knew it had to happen. An interruption. But it's temporary. If I weren't recovering from that whole being sick thing, I'd write through the night. But I do have to work. So today will be a night off ... sort of, I'll be dreaming of the next plot attempts in an effort to incorporate promised and avoided violence. And I'm really liking the suggested "next line" from Day 5 ... I may try to incorporate and see if it's the "jolt" I needed. That, and I'm trying to read on the bus for inspiration.

So instead of an excerpt, you get my inspiration homework ...

What I'm reading: East of the Mountains by David Guterson
Recent writing playlist includes: The White Stripes, Nirvana, The Killers, Interpol, Green Day and Beck

I'm thinking that perhaps this is a better playlist than the pseudo-country songs (Neko Case/Dixie Chicks) when it comes to rampant fiction and entering into conflict plot lines ... hmmmm ... working so far. Except for the day off thing. But since I'm trying not to have a nervous breakdown by the end of this, I think I'll take one, and write a little extra the rest of the week. No more elections this week, as far as I know ...

Totally unofficial poll observation

I vote at the polls ... a happening that used to be just down the street, but now is over in the Proctor district. And this morning, what could be my last poll-voting morning, I forgot what today was. I blame it on being sick the last few days, but I jumped on the bus only to get to work and realize that I did not have a plan for getting to the polls. So I made one fast. I considered taking the bus there, voting, then jumping on the next bus home. I didn't think it would take long. And I'm glad I opted for taking the bus home, grabbing a car and zipping over to Proctor for my turn. Because, zip I did NOT go through the line. And I had a key kid-switch to do with the hubby before he headed off to post-election parties, and before the kids and I went to the school's great pizza takeover. (Takeover any restaurant equals hell for anyone over 10 ... and yes, I'm including you teachers, too, in being in that hell. You are all more brave then I, who ordered takeout and fled as soon as I could ... before the kids scrounged more quarters out of my purse. This is a stressful venture when the parent-kid ratio is even, but tonight ... it was 1 to 3. And I don't have multiple spouses.)

Anyhow, unofficial and totally who-cares observation of the night from yours truly:

Before 5, the majority of people who voted in the Proctor district seemed to hold last names with the letters M-Z, a letter that let my husband zip through with his A-L last name. After 5, guess what happened ... you got it! A-L all came to vote at once while the M-Z line was practically naked. But I made it through, commandeered my "magic pen" (they were a hot commodity tonight) and studied my ballot to make sure I remembered everything straight. (It was quite the ballot ...)

I'm wondering, will this be my last poll vote? Should I frame my "I voted" sticker?

Because, as crazy as it was in that line and in that room, it was fabulous.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 5 outtakes

Today is going better. Something I really didn't expect. I was still sick and slept half the day, but this evening I started to feel a little more human and had made use of the day-sleep to dream up plot lines. And I was determined to battle my literary demons -- aka, conflict and anything that might seem the slightest bit risque.

So today I took a little leap toward action adventure with some definite sci-fi themes, and the rusty writing gears appearing to be easing up. I've already hit 8434 words (50,000 due by Nov. 20), and I think I can squeeze in more tonight.

Today, for the first time, I actually want to write more rather than dragging to push through the wall. I'm still wondering where some things are going, but I'm pushing out of my comfort zone, there's dialogue, conflict and action are amping up, and I'm getting stoked!

One problem: As I push through the comfort levels with the noveling, it gets a little harder to post something on the blog. Where others will actually read it. So the excerpts might become a bit shorter ... at least at first.

Thanks to everyone for the pep talks!

Day 5 excerpt:

“This basically is what your mission is all about,” he said, taking off the lid of the vial. “Smell.” He waved the small wand under Liz’s nose and she had to try not to flinch. But she smelled nothing.

“I don’t smell anything,” she said.

“And you shouldn’t,” Davin said curtly. “But don’t think that others won’t.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 4 outakes

Ok, things are flowing a bit better. Perhaps it's the Tylenol? Or the nap. No matter, I don't even want to count all the attempted starts this weekend. Or even just today. I didn't delete, but several things sputtered out and my ill brain could not continue. I really should have, as the first couple days I plowed through and was able to keep on topic for my day's allotment. And while there are bits of random right now, they just might all fit in together in the end, or at least some of them. But again, my personal NaNoWriMo experience is all about practice, practice, practice.

And today's breakthrough: Fiction. Nearly 1,000 words of pure fiction in this one burst, and I'm not quite done for the night. But confident I'll eke out a few more hundred words by the end of the night and at least be caught up. So tonight's excerpt, my first couple graphs of pure, raw, unadulturated fiction and I'm even using dialog in today's venture ... maybe I'm nearing the end of pure crap! (Maybe next week it will be only partial crap ...)

The only problem -- while I'm somewhat happy with the direction today's end-of-day blurb is going -- is that I have no idea where it's going next, unlike you NaNoWriMo folks who have outlines and character sketches and stuff. And I'm desperately trying to fight of urges to go tame. Trying to put in conflict, but must pick a direction. Here goes ...

Day 4 excerpt: Liz balanced cautiously on her bar stool, chewing at her newly blue fingernails. She wasn’t quite sure whether to sink in or sit up straight. The stool wasn’t comfortable, and too tall for her. She felt 5. But the bartended looked 15. He gave advice like a 50-year-old, but he looked 15. “Now see here, missy,” the bartender crooned as he slid up to where Liz was with the rum and coke she’d ordered. “You’ve been holding your breath for half an hour now, are you waiting for something? Someone?”

Liz bit her lip, and took the drink.

NanoWriMo: Day 4 ... still in progress

So, I've fallen behind a little bit. Which I can only partly blame on the fact that I'm sick and got whacked with the asthma stick today. Being in pain, tired and not being able to breathe well don't help the whole creative process.

But I'll admit, I'm admitting to an even bigger hurdle: I don't like conflict.

That can make novel writing kind of tough, as usually what makes a novel beat is not a turn of phrase, but the conflicts and resolutions of said conflicts of the story line.

But they said this week might be painful. And it is. But that's why I'm doing it. And so, now, back to writing. Because after a few false starts and the brain struggle of trying to get myself to let go and tell a character to f*** off or something like that, I've been in a feverish, back-achey, head-achey state, and haven't been able to breathe well. And I finally have a taste of an idea that might last a few thousand words and need to get to it, so back to work for me. Hopefully I'll have something better to post later tonight.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 3 outtakes

OK, I'm having a bit of trouble making the leap to fiction. And it is frustrating. I used to regularly write fiction bits and pieces. Short stories, a handful of book-length pieces, poetry and such. Today I tried starting with a true piece of my past to see if I could make the leap. The last couple days it seemed to help ... but I think I need to step out on a limb and just start writing truly crazy, ridiculous stuff and see what happens. I'm listening to Prairie Home Companion this afternoon*, where Guy Noir and so many other tales make me chuckle, and they're filled with old-fashioned, over-the-top craziness that's just so out there it works. I'm thinking I need to venture that way, venture outside the comfort zone. Because I think I'm having trouble "letting go" with the storyline and characters. Worried whether I'm just biographing or telling someone else's story, and worried that I'll hit a little too close to home for comfort. So I think that perhaps rather than starting with the known, I need to start with the unknown and incorporate the known in small elements, otherwise ... well ... it's a bit of a rut.

So there might be two entries today, as today's effort to blend true touch points into fiction just fizzled. But mind you, I might take back everything I just said tomorrow. Tis my perogative. So there.

Today's excerpt:

Driving through Aberdeen’s main drag, most visitors leave feeling empty. They leave feeling like they’re watching a car wreck … like they shouldn’t look, but they can’t help but gawk and stare, can’t help telling their friends about the wreckage they saw. And the myth continues to spread. What they do not realize, is that this former logging town has the unfortunate curse of its dirty laundry being aired for all to see, all to hear. The gray, wet, gritty town with the storied dying lumber town history didn’t get any better of a reputation when Nirvana's lead singer killed himself. People began to visit to taste the nostalgia and discovered that the banks of the Wishkah really are muddy. And they witnessed a downtown handicapped by years of circumstance.

But the heart of this former “Lumber Capital of the World” beats on. For those who venture past the deteriorating fa├žade, the beat is thunderous. Strong, mighty, passionate. The spirit that made Aberdeen an early 20th century legend and a center of culture as fought for its place on the map, and it continues to foster pride and history and pluck.

And now, for attempt two. I have lots more words to go.

*Garrison Keillor is my literary hero, whom I had the pleasure of meeting briefly in a book signing line three years ago, where I found him to be much chattier than I expected with a line out the door. When he asked, "So, what do you do?" ... I realized I really didn't know what to say. Saying 'I'm a writer" to Garrison Keillor -- my personal rock star of a writer -- was a little intimidating. And it's part of why I will stubbornly write my 50,000 words. I want get that certain "something" back that made me want to be a writer. And I know most of it is simply that I'm out of practice. So here's to practice making, well, not perfect, but at least presentable ...

Friday, November 02, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 2 outakes

Today's entry definitely took a different turn, and for awhile I wasn't even certain if I'd get my daily fix in. Afraid I'd break the stride and have to double up on another day. Two members of the household were sick. All the kids were obsessed with the Halloween candy -- though delightfully only part of it was the eating, Skittles were standing in for the Hershey Bar's baby, there were buildings that the Hansel & Gretel witch would have envied. A good friend/new mom/current theater widow called to ask if she could come by and talk to a grownup. (And it was a great visit.) Responsibilities were beginning to take their toll. And then baby wanted a bath. And then kids brushed their teeth, but decided that didn't mean they couldn't beg for candy anyway. But I did it! Another 1,667-plus words. Just jumped into bed with the laptop, pulled up my iTunes and stuck the headphones in so that ill hubby could watch Stargate still between snoring. So instead of snores and Sci-Fi, I had my Neko Case, Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks. Goodness gracious, I'm really not a country music addict ... these are my exceptions. But they're really good writing music.

Today's rambling excerpt, a few words out of today's hundreds that I don't claim to be anything other than the first paragraph of words I attempted to spew for the day ... free-form, no charge, and quite possible complete crap:

The ceiling was still white. And the more she stared at it, the more it seemed to pulsate, the more she convinced herself that perhaps it wasn’t a stagnant object. But it was still white. And it wasn’t really moving. It was white. With little bumps. Little flecks. A squished spider, A couple fruit flies that got stuck when the paint was wet. But all in all, still white. Outside, still cold. Inside her mind, still a place she didn’t want to go. It was an uninviting day. But a day to which she’d be invited, and had already RSVP’d.

Anyhow, tomorrow is a busy day, and I must dream of a plot line to follow tomorrow. And who knows, perhaps by the end of this all the pieces, or at least some of the pieces, will fit together. We shall see ...

NaNoWriMo: Day 1 outtakes

As National Write a Novel in Month day gets off the ground, I'm determined to hit my 50,000 words at the end. Now mind you, this month isn't supposed to produce an actual marketable novel, it's more about getting into the habit of writing, and not letting the "but what should I write about" fears get in the way. This fear has been a stumper for me in recent years. So I'm going to channel high school English class where we were supposed to do stream-of-consciousness writing, and just write. I may restart the story every day. I might write the middle this week, the end next week, and spend the last two weeks writing the beginning. I might write random crap. But I will write. I well get back into the saddle and make this a part of my life, as it's a part I've missed since life got so grownup. I might write for a living, I might write for spare cash, but it's been a long, long time since I've written on a regular basis for my own satisfaction, with the anticipation of other people's pleasure. This blogging thing is nice and fun, but I'm aiming for a different scope.

But excerpts that make me laugh, I'll share. Not in context, but in random giggle humor.

Nov. 1 excerpt: This voice was lower than the rest. And soon followed by barely post-adolescent bird legs sticking out of a bathrobe.

(Note: They say the first week you write crap. And that it gets better as you go. Thank god.)

And now to go do my parental duties of feeding and bathing children and making sure they don't eat all their Halloween candy in one night. Oh, and putting them to bed. Then we'll see what wacky nonsense my brain puts together for tonight's 1667-plus words.

And if it's all crap: I don't care.