Tuesday Morning

In some ways, I already have the lifestyle one thinks about successful writers having–if you’re thinking about a tropical island and palm trees swaying in the wind. If we’re talking about money, or a house on the beach, fuggedaboutit.

Tuesday morning, and here I am with my 100% Kona coffee (best darn stuff in the world), the windows and doors all open, and a gentle tradewind blowing through the house. Can it get any better? Uh, yeah. I could actually have an income from my writing and feel a lot less like a slug. I’m happy, but I feel guilty because my husband gets up every morning and trots off to work. He loves his job though, so I shouldn’t feel too bad. I am a lucky woman, and I thank God every day for that.

Okay, so what did I do yesterday? I had a 5 page goal, and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if I reached it or not, because a lot of what I did was layering and revising of earlier stuff. If I’m brutally honest with myself, probably not. Probably more like two new pages. Except, I had a better idea last night of where I was going than I did when I started.

I did waste a lot of time at the eHarlequin website yesterday. But I can’t really call it wasted. I found a Q&A with Brenda Chin where she talks about the Blaze line and contest. Learned some stuff, I did! For instance, she doesn’t care if the manuscript is incomplete. She’d rather work with you on finishing it than have a complete mss that needed a lot of work. Also, the big word count and format bugaboo that drives writers nuts. She said computer word count was fine. (!!) She also said she didn’t care if your margins were 1 or 1.25 inches. A standard 12 point font is fine. Nothing weird. TNR probably works best for that, my opinion, though I am in the habit of putting work for submission into 12pt Courier with 1 inch margins and 25 lines per page. This will be a hard habit to break, especially since it has been hammered into me since I was a baby writer that it was the professional way to do it. Only amateurs use fancy fonts and improper margins. Uh-huh. Think again.

Word count is the key though, and probably why they don’t care about the format so long as you know the word count. And, let’s face it, these days, we’re all using Word and we’ve all got the same count feature and its pretty standard. And it’s come a long way since the days of Windows 3.1. Uh, yeah, I was a 3.1 user, so I guess that dates me. In fact, I was on the Internet back when you used to have to Telnet and Gopher. I’m not really that old, for heaven’s sake, but I was on the information superhighway before it had easy to read road signs. 🙂 I remember bulletin boards and getting on line with a 2400 baud modem. When we upgraded to 9600 baud, we were flying. Ha! And I am not yet 40, so there, that should dispense the image of a graying old lady talking about walking uphill both ways through snow to access her internet connection.

Worked on my contributor notes for the short story anthology I’m appearing in. It’s always weird to try and write something that sounds interesting and yet remains the truth. To prepare, I looked at notes from other publications. Some folks are very wordy, others have 3 short sentences about themselves. I tend to the wordy side, but I think I managed 4 sentences. And then the sentences about the story itself, in which I still managed to talk about me. Ha! But the inspiration for the story comes from my life, so it wasn’t gratuitous.

I love these early mornings in Hawaii. The sky is almost always blue, and the air is warm and fragrant, and it makes you feel happy to be alive. I love the day just beginning, and the idea that it’s a new day and a new chance for me to write something, to get to a new place in my story. It stretches before me like a blank canvas, and it makes me want to achieve something before I climb in bed at the end of it. My husband wants me to trek downtown for lunch, but I don’t really want to. He works in the center of the island, but today is in Honolulu. If I go, if I spend time getting dressed and driving down there and finding parking and meeting him in the Ala Moana mall, I won’t get a thing done. I’ll have to go to Williams-Sonoma to look at pots and pans and gadgets, and I’ll have to pop into Macy’s and the Gap, and before you know it the day will be galloping toward a close and I won’t have anything done. I could take my borrowed AlphaSmart and try to work, I guess, but since I need to be onscreen with the current story right now, I’d have to work on something different. Nope, probably not going to go. I don’t feel too bad, since he’s taking tomorrow off anyway.

Oh, speaking of AlphaSmart, I ordered my own finally. I just have to have it. Naturally, they charge $25 to ship to Hawaii, but it should be here tomorrow or by Friday at the latest. It better be, since it cost that much to ship it! My husband thought it was just a useless gadget, especially since he bought me a nice new laptop, but when he saw it and saw me using it, he changed his mind. The AS is less worrisome. If I take it to Borders, I’m not as worried as I am over my laptop. When I set up my laptop, it’s a process, even though it’s a great computer and slim and features the Centrino technology. The AS runs on AA batteries and you can toss it into a bag. It’s not fussy like a computer. The thing that bothers me about working on my computer in a public place is how bright and lovely the screen is. Anyone who gets close enough can see what I’m writing. Don’t like that, not because I’m worried about someone stealing my words but because it feels like exposing yourself to have raw work out there for anyone to read. On the other hand, when I do a writing day at my friend’s house, I love to take my computer. It’s just the two of us, though, and I don’t have to pack up the computer when I need to pee.

Okay, I’ve been at this blog for half an hour, and I’m certain the writing batteries are charged, so it’s time to get busy. Again, I’m trying for 5 pages.

Beginning of a New Week

So it’s Monday and I’ve promised myself I will do things right this week. Today, like it or not, I have to write. Preferably, I’ll write something on the WIP that I’m targeting to Blaze, though maybe I’ll end up writing something on my paranormal chick-lit instead. I did not get much done last night, even though I thought I would manage to do something. Instead, I got busy surfing the web, working on the Anchor Chain (newsletter of which I am Editor), and tweaking the website. I tell ya, I can’t stop playing with it. I like it, but then I go to other writers’ websites, the professionally done ones, and I think, whoa. No way does mine look anything like that. How do they do it, I want to know.

See, I’m the kind of person who thinks I can do nearly anything that involves learning. I’m not a computer professional, not even close, but darned if I don’t think that with enough study and tinkering, I can pass for one. It’s not true, of course, and it’s as bad as a computer professional saying, hey, with enough study and tinkering, I can write a novel as good as yours. Not that writers don’t come from all walks of life, of course they do, but I’m talking about the guy or gal who isn’t the least bit interested in writing to begin with. At least I know my foibles, but it doesn’t stop me from studying those sites and wondering how I can improve mine. Maybe when I sell a book or two, I can justify paying someone to design a site for me, but right now I’m on my own. A few short stories, poems, and articles doesn’t yet qualify me to spend moolah like that. My husband, dear man, didn’t argue about the fact I’m paying for web hosting, or that I spent two entire days last week building a site, but he did ask me when I thought I’d finish the book. He thinks it was time and money well spent, for the future, but he also thinks I need to get my work out there or what’s the point.

He’s right, of course. I haven’t queried an agent or an editor yet with either of these novels. One is still in second draft phase, so I’m not yet satisfied with it, and one is half done. They aren’t ready to be out there yet. Unlike my last novel, I intend to be completely ready this time. But you know what, I hate that I have to write the entire novel every single time until I get a contract and can sell on proposal. I know I’m capable of seeing a novel through from beginning to end, but of course an editor or agent can’t know that since I am unpublished in book length fiction. They want the complete novel, rightly so, but still. It takes so friggin’ long. I wrote my last complete novel in a month and a half, so that’s not bad at all, but of course that’s first draft. Fleshing it out, turning it into something–that takes a lot longer. I wrote 115 pages of the current novel in a week, but I wrote myself into a corner and I’m busy digging out of that, so it’s taken much longer than it should.

Writers are great time wasters, I think. Here I am on a beautiful Hawaiian morning, and I’m blogging and drinking coffee and avoiding opening my book. I will do it, and writing in this blog isn’t so unusual for me because I often write in a journal before I begin anyway, but the temptation to surf is strong. I am not a television viewer at all. I’m proud of that, proud of the fact I don’t know when Desperate Housewives comes on, or what day I can tune into CSI, etc. I don’t have cable, and I never feel the urge to turn on the boob tube. But, I have my own addiction, darn it, and it’s attached to my computer via a cable. The WWW is out there, waiting for me to go skipping through it every day. I think the reason I don’t like television is because the web is faster, because the sound bites are trimmer, because I can avoid commercials and get the info I want instantly. I don’t care about watching American Idol when I can read about what happened instead. And that scares me somewhat because I think, wow, if my attention is this difficult to hold, what do I need to do to be sure I can hold a reader’s attention for four hundred pages?

Anyway, guess I need to stop blathering and get busy. I’m aiming for 5 pages today. We’ll see how that works out…..

Saturday’s Writing

A tiny bit. Went to Haleiwa on the North Shore and took the AlphaSmart. I wrote a few paragraphs while sitting at the beach. Mostly, I didn’t get much done because I’m at the point where I need the manuscript on the screen in front of me because I have a lot of revising to do on upcoming scenes. This is what happens when you write the first half in a white heat, and then realize maybe your characters’ goals aren’t strong enough. Darn Debra Dixon. (grin)

I love Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, DD’s book. Wow, if I can’t figure out how to write a cranking plot now, I need to find something else to do. Everything is explained so well, and when I charted out the characters’ GMCs, I learned that the heroine’s goal wasn’t strong enough. She needed the possibility of a dream come true and a limited timetable to do it in. So, hence the rewrite. It was just some weaving in the beginning, but now I’ve had to cut a couple of scenes. Some scenes need extensive rewriting. I love being a writer, though I sometimes hate the pressure of staring at the screen and having NO idea what comes next or if I can even pull off the idea I began with. I’ve written four complete novels and I’m working on a fifth. I don’t think it gets easier, though you do have a better idea with each successive book on how to go about telling the story.

First novels are almost uniformly bad, though there are exceptions. And I mean first novels one writes, not first novels one publishes. Those usually aren’t the same, though in rare cases it happens. Not to me, thank heavens, because I would be embarassed to know that clunker was out there.

Hubby is working on a paper for his law class, so I hope to get a little bit of writing done tonight. We’ll see. I tinkered with the website this morning, then we went down to Honolulu’s Chinatown for lunch, then back to the store for cat food. I have no excuse not to work on the book tonight……..

Today’s Writing Accomplishments

Not nearly enough. I have been too fascinated with this whole website/blog thing. I’ve changed my webpage a zillion times today, moving things around, adding things, etc. It’s an addiction! And then I sent the address to a few select friends, which increased the pressure to have the site look good. I can see them now: “Where on earth did she get this crap? I hope she didn’t pay anyone!” No, I did not pay anyone, and I got that crap from Yahoo Sitebuilder (I don’t happen to think it’s crap, btw). I have Frontpage and Publisher, and yeah, I prefer Yahoo’s freebie program. So I’m not a techno dweeb, sue me. Though, proud moment, I did not use a template. I designed it myself.

Okay, so what did I accomplish on the writing front? I edited my webpage. Uh, that’s not what we mean, is it? All right, I did work on the WIP just a tad. I probably cut 50 words and typed 10 new ones. It wasn’t much.

This week has been a wasted writing week! Monday, I rock and rolled. I wrote pages of the WIP, got an idea for two more books, wrote 7 pages of a new book, and basically had trouble shutting my brain off to go to bed. Tuesday, I had to take a Hawaii newcomer shopping. Stopped my flow dead. I had a blast with this lady, though, and I wasn’t sure I would. We giggled like schoolgirls and we’re definitely going shopping together again. Wednesday, I think I was recovering from the shopping. Wednesday night was critique. Thursday, I got this bright idea to finally complete and publish that webpage–cuz God only knows when I might need it–and then today I couldn’t stop tinkering, even when I tried so hard to work on the WIP (okay, probably not hard enough).

I borrowed an Alphasmart from someone so I could see if I liked it. Oh yeah, baby. I definitely plan to buy one. If I’d gotten off my butt and taken that thing somewhere, the temptation to toy with the Internet would have been gone. *sigh* I should have gone to the beach with the darned thing (the clouds did clear up, just like I said). I’d have gotten more done by sitting in a chair on the sand than I did in a whole day with two computers.

My God, we are so spoiled as a nation. Watched a Tsunami program tonight, and then a program about teenagers whose parents paid for them to get boob jobs. Where are our priorities? People lost entire families, their homes, and we have a tiny boob epidemic. Oh the humanity! And here I’m whining about writing and going to the beach to accomplish something and ohmigosh, am I an ungrateful idiot or what?

Tomorrow, I don’t know if I’ll get anything done. Husband is home, and though he has school work for his MBA classes, he’s sure to interrupt my flow at some point. I never get much done when he’s home, even when he leaves me completely alone. If I’ve got to be bothered, I’d rather go to the beach. At least the scenery is gorgeous.

All right, I’ve wasted another day goofing when I could have (should have) been writing. I won’t make promises for the weekend, but Monday is a new day dawning. If I get something done over the weekend, even better.

Zombies and Idiot Parents

I know this is a writing journal, but gosh, I can’t help it when other things strike my fancy. First, it’s cloudy in sunny Hawaii today. It’ll probably pass later, since this is summer. If it were winter, forget it. We’d get several days of rain instead. I love the weather in Hawaii. After six years of living in Europe, I missed it when we first moved here, but jeez, where was my brain? Slippahs and shorts all the time, baby. Mo’ bettah, ya?

Anyway, reading this morning about zombie computers. Seems these teenagers with nothing better to do wrote a code to hijack computers so they could inundate particular websites and get them shut down because of too much traffic. In this case, an 18 year old gave a 17 year old tennis shoes and a watch to get him to shut down a rival sports jersey website. And, apparently, this zombie computer thing is common and you don’t even know your computer has been hijacked. So, if you get a solicitation telling you where to get free nude photos of your favorite movie star, don’t click.

But, really, the biggest thing on my mind this morning is that idiot woman who locked her 12 year old son in the basement while she ran errands because the pit bulls were acting up. Natually, he left the basement and got mauled to death. Now why on earth didn’t that stupid woman lock the damn dogs in the basement instead? Better yet, why didn’t she get rid of those dogs if they were acting aggressive around her child? They’ve arrested her for neglect or something. Damn straight. She said in one interview that it was just his time to go. Ack! His time to go? His time to go? Her son died because of her negligence and she says it was his time. Poor kid, never had a chance.

And my mom informs me recently that my redneck brother has a pit bull tied up in his back yard. He has three children, one that’s only about 6 or so. Sheesh! I’m not sure what to think about these dogs. An entire breed can’t be bad or evil or whatever. But what is their purpose? And why do we always hear about people getting killed by these kinds of dogs (and certain other breeds as well)? Then again, if you thought about the population of pit bulls and the incidents that happen, it’s statistically small. So what’s the answer? Darned if I know. Recently, on a trip to the humane society to look for a dog, my husband and I saw the sweetest dog. You could just see sweetness in her face and demeanor. And she was half pit bull. I’ll be honest though. Knowing she was part pit bull, complete with that locking jaw thing they have, made me pass on her. She probably was sweet as could be, but I have a cat that I didn’t want to become dinner.