Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Project 333: The List 1st Quarter '11

I have decided that I am going to really do Project 333. Yesterday, with the help of my very savvy daughters, I put together my wardrobe for the next 3 months. It was actually very freeing to box up everything else in my closet. And guess what I found?



And Mr. KCW wanted to buy more hangers this weekend. I did end up going to the store and purchasing a sweater hanger thingy so I can fold my sweaters and have them in my closet rather than in the drawers. That way everything I wear outside of underwear and socks is right there in plain sight. I don't have to second guess what I is available. I thought that was a brilliant idea. I also bought a shoe rack for the bottom of my closet. I packed away my more summery shoes, although I don't think that my hemp rope espadrilles are actually going to make it to the summer. I may have to replace those next spring. But the only things visible are my Project 333 clothes. It makes for a very bare closet, but that's ok because I have plans to eventually use that space to put a small dresser for my socks, underclothes and small knitwear items.

Here is the list:

1. Jeans
2. Black striped pants
3. Brown pants
4. Black skirt
5. Pink cami
6. Lime cami
7. purple cami
8. gray cami
9. Turquoise 3/4 sleeved shirt
10. Gray long sleeved shirt
11. White and silver long sleeved shirt
12. White v-neck long 3/4 sleeved shirt
13. black v-neck 3/4 sleeved shirt
14. Bright Teal long sleeved shirt
15. Pink cabled sweater
16. Teal v-neck sweater
17. Black cabled sweater
18. Purple buttoned sweater
19. Black jacket (which may get a replacement this year)
20. Art shirt
21. Cranberry corduroy button up shirt
22. Ishbel shawlette
23. Annis shawlette
24. Maja shawl
25. Gaia shawl
26. Seaweed scarf
27. Pink pashmina
28. Salwar Kameez set (it's a three piece suit, but it all goes together and isn't interchangeable so I counted it as one thing)
29. Green Crocs (also may get replaced)
30. Brown Boots
31. Gray Birkis
32. Pink Converses
33. Black Shoes (which I may trade out for my heels before I ever wear them)

This is what they look like hung up ever so neatly:

Things you may notice are missing from my list:
1. A jacket - because I only have one and only wear it when it is raining and only while outside and I have a wool sweater that I wear if it gets too cool for the layers, but I'm more fond of layers because I tend to get warm (thanks, perimenopause).
2. Hats, gloves, winter scarves - it just doesn't get that cold here. I have 2 pair of fingerless gloves. One pair sits in my office and the other pair is in my knitting bag. You may see me in a hat here or there, but I didn't count any hats.
3. That pink and orange shawl I'm wearing - This is my office shawl. It hangs on the back of my chair and I throw it around my shoulders when I get cold. I don't ever wear it out (at least in the winter) and it sometimes ends up in my lap rather than my shoulders as a lapghan.
4. Jewelry - as I said in a previous post, I just don't change my jewelry. I have the same pieces that I wear all the time. I consider them a second skin. If I were to change them someone might think I had done some radical plastic surgery or something.
5. Hand knit sweaters - confession: I've never made an adult-sized winter sweater. I have knit two summer sweaters, but never a winter one. I'm thinking of remedying that this year.

So off we go!

Ten on Tuesday: Intentions

I like the word intentions rather than resolutions. Resolutions at the New Year have become very much like the Lenten disciplines. "Oh, it is the new year I must give up something or do something because this is when I am supposed to make myself a better person." Intentions are just that. Things that you want to accomplish. There are quite a few things that I intend to accomplish this year. So here is my list:

1. Eat better. I'm not so interested in dieting. I just want to eat better.
2. Make Project 333 work well for me and my closet.
3. Finish revising some of these books before I start writing new ones (OK, quit laughing)
4. Knit from my stash rather than buying new yarn.
5. Take classes at the Small Business Development Center to learn how to
6. Open a yarn shop
7. Go to Stitches South
8. Write at least one query letter a week.
9. Continue working through The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
10. Remember to blog more regularly.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll talk about how I intend to accomplish some of these intentions.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Last Minute Gifts

My children decided three weeks out that they wanted to "do Christmas" this year. Being non-religious, we haven't celebrated Christmas is many years. We usually go to a movie and then out for Chinese food. So this year the kids said, "Hey, we want to do Christmas with a tree and a gift from each person and lights. Yeah, we want lights and cookies." So we have lights and a tree and I've been working on gifts. In the future I would truly appreciate a bit more warning the the kids want to "do Christmas" so that I have time to properly knit for everyone.

Having this list has helped and since I am that minimalist at heart (and needing a few suggestions that won't break the bank, be meaningful and useful) here is my list:

1. e-reader books. Don't know how to do that? Then get your favorite book lover a gift card. It's like buying them the book they've been wanting all year. Look on their B&N or Amazon wish lists for ideas.

2. Knit them cup cosies so they don't have to keep using the paper ones at the coffee shop. In fact make them one that will go over their favorite mug at home. There is something fantastic about cuddling a wool enshrouded ceramic mug in the winter.

3. Knit yoga or house socks out of worsted weight yarn on size US7 needles. They are quick and easy and if you do yoga socks, no heels (although that is the favorite part of a sock for me) or toes and you can be fairly generic with the size.

4. Make felt dolls or stuffies (monsters are very popular this year) or sock puppets from left over fabric, felt and dryer widows.

5. Create an indoor herb garden. You don't have to pay a lot of money for the fancy hydroponic specially lit plastic kits. You can make an indoor herb garden with a narrow windowsill planter and some already sprouted herbs from the garden center of your local home improvement stores. If plants aren't available you can make your own hydroponic garden using a reclaimed bowl from the thrift store, some Styrofoam sheeting (that will float on the top of the water), some garden seeds, a reclaimed lamp and a full spectrum light bulb. There are instructions on the Internet for making your own hydroponic indoor gardens.

6. Have a crafter in your life? Buy them the supplies of their craft. Know a quilter? Get some fat quarters (if you don't know what those are just ask at your local fabric store or hobby store that sells fabric). Scrapbooker? How about a die cut machine? (Psst, the Making Memories Slice is on sale for $49 at JoAnn this week. Just saying). Knitter? Yarn. Cook? Interesting ingredients (or for that matter any ingredients. I would not turn down a five pound bag of flour!) Consumables are always appreciated by those of us who create

7. Back to that e-reader thing, make a nook cosy or a Kindle cosy. They can be knit or felt or quilted. We e-reader users love to look like we have different books even when we are holding the same device. Think of it as clothing for our nooks (does that mean if I do the 333 project that I need to get 33 covers for my nook?)

8. A collection of family recipes. Two of my dearest possessions are my dad's pancake recipe and my grandmother's honey whole wheat bread recipe. They are on my refrigerator waiting for the next time I bake. I love them and they are precious because they are familiar. What family recipes are important to your children or relatives? Write them up on some tidy recipe cards or type them up and print them or download them to a CD-ROM.

9. Nice pens and journals. But only if they will be used. I love my journals and am always carrying them with me. I also have a particular pen that I love that aren't easily found so when I do find them I buy several packs of them at a time. And journals don't have to be expensive or large. I like little ones that fit in my purse or knitting bag. They are perfect for jotting notes, making lists, plotting a story, or quickly dashing off a note to a friend to leave on her windshield.

10. Your time. It may sound cheesy, but your time is one of the most valuable things you can offer. Babysitting, laundry folding, knitting or sewing or cooking lessons. Errand running, dog walking, cat box scooping. I love gifting people my time and appreciate when people value their time as a worthy gift as well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Ravelry Download

I took a deep breath and posted a pattern I made up on Ravelry. They are some simple yoga socks that I made for a friend. I call them the Dancing Stone Yoga Socks and they are free! I love them. I may even make myself a pair for them (in my vast amount of free time!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PoMoGoLightly prompts me to Project 333

I have been considering Project 333 over at the Be More With Less blog. I'm a minimalist at heart. Truly I am. I followed Beverly on her blog and Twitter the past few months as she worked through the project. The basic principle of the project is to select 33 pieces of clothing (not including underwear or pajamas) and only wear those three pieces for three months. I loved watching her transform her wardrobe into very unique different outfits using these 33 pieces. She took pictures each day and her outfit along with a quick listing of what she wore. It was cool. And she also has ceased making me run over to the Fluevog website twenty times a week to see what cool shoes she's been drooling over.

Here are the problems I'm having with the Project 333:

1. My wardrobe sucks! Seriously sucks. I've been trying to buy more intentionally rather than "Oh, this is on sale and it fits so let's buy it." The problem with this is that when I do purchase intentionally it is very difficult to find exactly what I want and I get frustrated and buy three things that I don't like. This happened last year when I wanted cute lacy camis to wear under things like sweaters or as another layer under thinner shirts. I wanted this cute layering look that wasn't quite in style yet. So I ended up buying two camis that only sort of fit and weren't all that cute. Fortunately style has caught up with me and I now own a bright pink, a lime green, a grey, and a purple cami. This year's dilemma seems to be pants. I have a pair of jeans and a pair of dressier black and gray striped pants that are comfy. And one black skirt. I need at least one more nicer pair of pants, but haven't found the exact thing I'm looking for. Anyone seen some nice soft corduroy pants with just a little bit of pleating at the waist and pockets preferably in charcoal or rust in a size 20 petite?

2. My children already complain that I wear the same things over and over again. I think this is less about minimalism and more about being in a rut. It's just too easy to pull on a pair of jeans and a knit shirt and call it good with my art shirt and a pair of Crocs or Birkis. I want to look cute or artistic and come across looking dumpy and sloppy. Which means I'm not happy with my wardrobe no matter if it is minimalistic or full.

3. I have a hard time releasing things, even those things that don't fit, I don't like or are tired or out of fashion. It's that "I paid good money for this and I haven't gotten my money's worth so I am going to hold on to it until I do." That would be all well and good except I never will "get my money's worth" because it just hangs in my closet and collects dust on the shoulders.

4. I live in Florida. Today the high is only supposed to reach 42°F. This weekend it is supposed to get up to 70°F. We've been known to have 80°F days in February and by March our days are much warmer than in January. I'm thinking I will have to definitely use the additional rules of having clothes I need to rotate through just to keep up with our wonky weather.

5. A jewelry issue. As I have a fairly boring wardrobe, I also have a fairly boring jewelry collection. I wear the same two rings (both sterling, neither a wedding ring), the same two bracelets (both sterling bands that I've worn for 20 years) and the same two earrings (one sterling and one titanium both in the same ear) all the time. I never take them off. They are a part of me. So do these six pieces count as six items or just another layer of skin? I have maybe three pair of earrings that I rotate through if I actually remember to wear earrings.

6. I knit. And I love my knitwear. I probably have twenty pair of hand knit socks (are those underwear?) and four shawls. And you do not want to know about all the projects worth of yarn that I have in two three bins in my hobby room. I've actually been pretty good about being on a yarn diet since Stitches South in April and have been good about knitting from my stash. In fact the gifts I'm knitting for the kids all came from my stash. I have planned projects, I just don't have enough time to knit what I currently have and am trying not to get sidetracked by new patterns. This is very difficult to do when Interweave Knits keeps putting out such cool stuff and there are all these talented designers on Ravelry.

I am figuring that I have sixteen more days to decide if Project 33 would actually work for me or not. I like the idea. I want to be cute and fashionable. I think I had this same dilemma in the spring when I wanted to look cute and charming like one of my characters. Perhaps it is a seasonal thing. (I'm still looking for blue espadrilles.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Top 10 To Do List

Well, I found that topic to be rather vague. I have several lists (I'm a list maker by habit). I love making lists of things I need to do. However, I find that the order changes depending on the immediacy of the project. I suppose that this is my top ten list of things that need to be done as of ... right ... now.

1. Clean the floor from where my old stove sat (hey, I pulled that sucker out and found: a wooden spoon - been missing for two years; a pair of kitchen shears - missing over one year; a piece of metal - have no idea what it is our where it came from which means I've never cleaned out from under my stove in the six years we have been here; five Legos; twelve packets of English Breakfast tea from England actually - so that's where those went; two quarters; a pile of sludge that looks like it came off a dirty grill.

2. Wait for my new oven to be delivered sometime today. Have I talked about me new oven? The flat top stove with the cobalt blue enclosed burner interior? It's being delivered sometime between noon and four p.m. (sigh)

3. Finish several projects for gifts for family members. I do have a feeling that I am going to be gifting people projects still on the needles.

4. Finish up several charity knitting projects that I have going on.

5. Reverse numbers three and four because I'm thinking that I need to get those finished before the knitted items for family members.

6. Go to the post office to mail off pocket zombies and nuns.

7. Move number six up to the number three spot because those need to get in the mail pronto.

8. Finish editing the manuscript on the book I'm considering releasing through Barnes and Noble's PubIt program.

9. Cook something in my new oven. I'm thinking some bread or a do-over of Thanksgiving with real stuffing and gravy.

10. Outline the new idea I have for a book. It's really cool with nuns and geeks and, um, why yes it was that funny little plot idea from the plot generator, but the more I think about it the more I think it would be completely fun.

Some of my favorite things

Unfortunately in the wonderful Richard Rodgers' song, it fails to mention anything about cookie baking day. I love a cookie baking day. Today is one of those days. I'm making several different varieties for a cookie exchange with my knitting group and since I couldn't decide which cookie I wanted to bake I'm making a sampling from some of my favorites. From very easy (butter, sugar, flavoring (I used orange) and flour) to more intensive time consuming ones that require one to actually decorate and paint the finished cookies. But it's one of my favorite things to do, so I don't look at it as work.

My first recipe called for me to roll the cookies in powdered sugar. This meant I had to get down my sugar rolling bowl. This is a pottery bowl that my mother made probably thirty years ago. I've retained ownership of it and its twin and when cookies need to be rolled this is the bowl that comes down. It doesn't matter if it is powdered sugar for mocha crinkles or cinnamon and sugar for snickerdoodles. It's all the same. This is the perfect rolling bowl. It isn't too deep, it isn't too wide and it isn't too large. It allows for perfect hand movements and is large enough to hold three or four little balls of dough without crowding each other. It is one of those warm and comforting objects that is ingrained in traditions. I am quite sure as my children move out of the house there will inspections made to make sure that this bowl doesn't leave with them. They will fight over who gets it at my death. And if, by some horrid chance, it breaks we will have a service to remember all the wonderful times we had rolling cookies in sugar in this bowl.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Knitting is not for the lazy

Well, not if you want to get anything done. There are fourteen knitting days left until Christmas (in case you didn't know). And I have a total of one project done out of four. Two I have to work on covertly because people keep hanging around or want to "spend time with me" which really puts a cramp on my being able to knit without them knowing what I am making. So all of this is going on and then I find out this week that several friends have had tragedies or bad news in their lives. That equates to charity knitting. Blankets and shawls and demise caps. But you know? I don't really mind. I may have to give a few gifts to family members that are still on the needles, but I think they will understand.

There is something about knitting an item for a friend who has lost a baby or a loved one. As you knit each stitch you think about what they are going through and how their lives are impacted by tragedy and you hope that each time that they wrap themselves in this thing you have made that they will feel loved and supported. For a friend whose grandbaby died our knitting group is making demise caps and blankets for the hospital that has tended to this family. Somehow you hope that the families that have to use these items will feel some comfort knowing that someone took the time to create a hat for their baby.

So in all this I am busy plugging away. I'm editing, so there isn't a whole lot of actual writing going on and because it is December and it is actually cold outside I have been baking cookies. The house smells all warm and good and it is easy to switch batches in the oven between rows of knitting and lines of editing. But there just doesn't seem time to do much of anything else. Maybe January will be easier.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dental pain sucks

Just in case no one knew this little fact I wanted to be very clear that there is no pain in the world as horrible as dental pain. I would go through childbirth again to avoid dental pain even though you end up with a baby at the end that has to be cared for and fed and diapered and taught not to stick pencils up its nose. Quite a few years ago I had some dental pain that ended up in three root canals with crowns. The teeth that held the crowns were not stable and all three ended up breaking out. Now I am faced with the trauma of having to go in and have those three teeth extracted and having bridges built. Every time I go into the dentist they lie and tell me that the pain will go away soon and that it is "almost over." Last week when I had the temporary bridge created I was told that this appointment would be easy. To which I replied, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does." I really hate dentists.

Don't get me wrong, I think I would have a great time at TGIFridays with my dentist or I could see myself having a dandy time knitting with her (if she did knit) or just going shopping for shoes, but I really don't like her as a dentist. I don't like her rooting around in my mouth and sticking me with needles (yet another phobia of mine thanks to a sucky childhood filled with doctors, needles and dentists). I even like the receptionist with whom I know I would have a good time with because she went to DragonCon this year and likes Neil Gaiman. I even like the dental assistant who has a very pleasant voice and pretty eyes. She's gentle and kind, but I don't want any of them poking around in my mouth.

The worst part of all of this is that I am in pain! And when I am in pain I don't want to knit, I don't want to write and I certainly don't want to cook because eating hurts too. I'm tired of "eating" pudding, soup, and things one sucks out of a straw. I have story ideas that float through my head, but just sitting down to formulate them hurts and so I make little notes that make no sense the next day. What? I had a story idea about an evil widowed stepmother who is marrying a hotel concierge and the quiet unnoticed stepdaughter falls in love with the new concierge that the EWS refers to as Charles Two? I'm not sure where I was going with that. And anything that requires more than stockinette stitch is just a bit too mind-taxing at the moment.

Can someone zip me to the future, have all my teeth fixed while I'm in some sort of weird unconsciousness and I wake up with a full set of functioning teeth that aren't killing me and no gum pain either? My family would appreciate it greatly.

10 on Tuesday: Holiday Movies

I find it rather funny that most of the 10 on Tuesday topics are difficult for me to do. I'm a list maker and love lists. It's how I cope with each day. I make a list:

1. Breakfast and tea
2. Shower and tea
3. Write 2,000 words and tea
4. Go teach a class (don't forget tea - students will appreciate you for it)
5. Do grocery shopping (stop at Starbucks for a cup of Joy tea)
6. Do dishes (do not drink tea or you will end up washing your cup and will lose said tea)
7. Make dinner and tea
8. Knit (um, yeah, there's tea here too)
9. Crawl into bed with a book and a cup of Chamomile tea
10. Get back out of bed and brush teeth and resist the urge to go make another cup of tea

I get these lists each Monday on making a list of 10 things for Tuesday. It shouldn't be hard, but for the life of me I can never make a real list.

So this week's list is 10 favorite holiday movies. UGH! There aren't that many that I truly enjoy, so rather than making a list of my 10 favorite holiday movies, I will make a list of 10 movies and at least one of them will actually be one that I enjoy.

10. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Yes; the classic puppet-mation. This is a horrid story of a reindeer couple who are so embarrassed by their son's difference that they hide the fact that he is unique. He is taunted and teased by the other reindeer children. He is cast off as a misfit by the Jolly Old Elf. He is completely ignored and considered useless until they realize that they are doomed and his odd glowing nose is the only hope for Christmas because Christmas will be just ruined if the children don't get their boxes and stockings full of useless crap made in China not by happy singing elves in the North Pole. This would not be one of my favorite holiday movies.

9. Elf. This Will Ferrell telling is actually pretty fun and while I enjoy watching it once a year, I don't need to see it for 25 days 3 times in a row each day. It's a cute movie, but it isn't all that.

8. A Christmas Story. This is the one that involves a BB gun, a leg lamp and a group of Chinese restaurant employees singing Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra. I can't begin to tell you what all is wrong with this movie. I have friends who think it is the most wonderful movie ever and I just don't get it. Although, I will admit that every year on Christmas we go out to watch a movie and then stop at our favorite Chinese restaurant for dim sum. I'm not sure if Chinese restaurants have always been open on Christmas or if they decided that A Christmas Story was a great promotional tool and started opening on Christmas because they knew people would watch this movie and want lo mein on the 25th of December.

7. The Santa Clause. This is funny and cute and entertaining. I love the premise of Santa being around for so long because of a "clause." I'll watch it if there is nothing else on. The sequel wasn't too bad either, but the third one was a hack and very lame.

6. The Holiday. I think I love this movie because I love the cottage that Kate Winslet owns and have this secret fantasy of living in such a cottage. It is also a good story and waking up with Jude Law beside me would not be bad either.

5. Home Alone. The original and only the first one. It was cute and charming, although how someone could not notice that they had left a child is beyond me. The sequel and the third and the fourth and the remake, well, no thanks. And maybe that was what happened with Makaulay Culkin. Perhaps if he hadn't been forced to be the cute, witty and adorable little kid for so long he wouldn't have turned out into the drug abusing surly man he is today.

4. Miracle of 34th Street. It's a classic. What can I say?

3. It's a Wonderful Life. Ditto. It's good movie making with a good story and a happy ending and ring-a-ding-ding an angel gets its wings.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It has to be the animated one that has the actual reading of Dr. Seuss's book and not the Jim Carrey version that just sucked all the childhood memories I had away and turned them into great gobs of gelatinous goo.

1. Love Actually. Of course there had to be an Alan Rickman movie on the list and this ranks as number one, not because it has Alan Rickman (he's actually not his most lovable in this movie) but because it just makes me so gosh darn happy. I love what Hugh Grant says at the beginning that people's last thoughts are not of hate, but of love and that love is all around you. I love stories told in vignettes and then finding out that all these little stories are inter-related in the end. Love is all around us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Knitting with words

Because I am a knitter and a writer, I find that words and yarn tend to blend themselves well. This probably won't make sense to anyone who isn't a knitter. I find that when I write certain words lend themselves better because of the way that they sound or feel in the mouth. It is much like choosing a yarn to go with a pattern or a pattern to go with a specific yarn. It might be the most scrumptious Merino and silk, but it may make horrible cables or it might be the most fabulous lace pattern but the mottled yarn causes the lace to be lost amongst all the color changes.

In writing my NaNo for the year I wrote about knitters. This yarn and word mixture was even more pronounced for me. Now not only did I have to find the right word for the moment, but also the right knitting words. Words such as needles, cable, stitch, Malabrigo, wool, cotton all came into play. If someone is angry, the word cashmere is all wrong. She doesn't pick up a ball of cashmere and throw it against the wall. She picks up a ball of linen or a hank of black scratchy acrylic. Cashmere comes into play when he thinks about her or perhaps she remembers that disastrous first date while grasping a pair of fourteen inch long size US 4 Stiletto needles. That combination of words and what they represent varies from page to page and it is all important. I loved seeing that evolve in this book. The fibers that reflected the moment. The knitting actions that represented a feeling. Someone who is angry doesn't flit the stitches from needle to needle, but rather she picks at them or perhaps she is extremely angry and she stabs at her work.

In the end a sweater is born and a book awakens. It was a fun process. And now I have many ends to weave in, seams to sew, and blocking to shape it correctly. It's very sweater-like this book writing.

(Side note to all the non-knitters: you may find this true of your own interests outside of writing. I can't really give you any non knitting or cooking ideas, but you probably see it, if not consider it next time you sit down to write, especially if you involve those things that you love.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I survived (and won)

Once again I managed to pull of the NaNoWriMo challenge and finished in at 63,785 words and actually managed to reach The End. It was a fun and wild journey with several days lost due to dental appointments and Harry Potter. My Big Goal to actually blog my way through NaNo this year failed on day three. That's ok. I figured one of a few things.

1. Those who were truly interested in my NaNoWroMo word count could always go check out my profile on NaNoWriMo or follow my progress on Twitter.

2. Those who weren't interested in my NaNoWriMo progress were probably relieved to not have to hear about my month long ramblings about how my writing was going.

3. Those who were irritated because I wasn't posting blog entries for the month of November could go find someone else to placate their need to read and I probably wouldn't know they weren't here anyway. And I'm OK with that because this is my blog and while I share my thoughts with other people, I'm not out to please anyone.

4. Those who didn't notice I wasn't posting well, you were probably writing right along with me and trying not to "waste" words on blogs but rather your own novels.

5. The knitters and the cooks had more time to do their thing.

But NaNo is over so I can get back to my regular blog entries and start editing my NaNo novel (after the first of the year). I've decided that I really need to work on revisions of my last novels and give my brain a break from Harriet and Carl and the lovely yarn shop I created.

Tune in tomorrow when I hope to talk about knitting with words.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Word count update

Because I promised myself I would. My total word count for NaNoWriMo is currently at 7,878. Nice number. Over 4,000 words today which included knitting 3 rounds on an entrelac fingerless glove (that's not three rows, that's three rounds and that's saying something in the entrelac world because I do not knit backwards very quickly), making dinner, doing the dishes, doing a load of laundry, running to Office Max for a set of bookends that meant I also had to run into Books-a-Million and get an Oreo frappe. I'm glad I'm this far ahead because tomorrow is knitting in the afternoon which is usually my good writing time. Maybe I'll take the laptop with and see if I can knit and write at the same time. (Stop laughing, Julie!)

Off to bed so I will be a fresh daisy in the morning.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And we're off!

It's the first day of NaNoWriMo and I think it is looking pretty good. As of 5:00 this evening I have 3,502 words written and may even get some more out tonight before I go to bed, but first I must pause for dinner and Stitch and Bitch. One must have some pleasures in life.

I'm really enjoying the story and did a couple of challenges with PoMoGoLightly over at the NaNo Salons. I out-wrote her, but I think she was going easy on me. I've seen her 750 count on Twitter and she can easily pull it off in 15 minutes. But it does feel good to be challenged. I'm considering Write or Die, but need to make sure that the electric shock is just a joke.

If anyone else has any great ideas about word count challenges, let me know. Meanwhile, keep on writing!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Writing Prompt Sunday: Be Afraid!

Let's all get excited because I actually A) remembered it was Sunday; B) remembered that I have a blog to keep up; and C)came up with a prompt. And guess what? It isn't really a Hallowe'en related prompt. Well, it's sort of kind of related. It's about fear. As a child I was always fearful of Hallowe'en. I'd been forced through too many neighborhood haunted houses and had too many people jump out of the bushes screaming when I was little to truly appreciate the fun of Hallowe'en until I became an adult. I also feared that my costumes would be lame (like the year I was a flower wearing a green leotard and pair of tights and this huge fabric flower that was starched so it would bloom out around my face, until it got humid half way through trick-or-treating and I looked more like a wilted daisy). I have very few real things that I am actually afraid of. I'm not really afraid of spiders, but have this fear of being wrapped up in spider webs. I'm not afraid of snakes. Not afraid of the boogeyman. Not afraid of black cats or saying that Scottish play's name. My fears run more into the emotional. For instance I fear being lonely (but not of being alone). I fear being lost. I fear being in very large chaotic crowds. Especially lost and lonely in very large chaotic crowds.

Sometimes when writing out characters I find that I either give them too many fears or that they are too perfect and fearless. We can't have that. I don't believe there is anyone who has no fears. So what are your characters' fears? Are they afraid of public speaking? What about falling down? Fear of flying? Fear of bats? Fear of being hit by a foul ball at a baseball game? Fear of being poor or losing all their money? How does that fear move them?

Here's the prompt: Have your character confront one of their fears. What does your character do to overcome the situation so that they can move on? What does your character learn about themselves? Has the confrontation helped or made the fear worse? Do you see your own fears reflected in your character? What would your character say about your fears?

Now how many of you are afraid of what NaNoWriMo is going to hold in store for you this year? (Not me!)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh there it is!

I had a Really Good Idea for NaNoWriMo this year. I had a plot and everything. And the more I looked at it the more I realized it was nothing more than a short story. There was no way I could turn it into 50,000 words. At max it would be 10,000. So it was back to the drawing board. And nothing was coming. Do you know the sound that nothing makes in your brain? It's sort of like playing Pong with the computer as your competition. It's full of dark empty space with the echoing plink as the pong hit the paddle. Yeah. That bad.

Usually when I get into one of these states I will head to the bookstore and just browse the back of rows of books to read their covers. It gets my mind whirling and I end up with a plot about a computer nerd, a nun and a prostitute who are trying to save the world from aliens. (Do not steal that idea. I'm planning on using it one day!) I've had this horrible desire to want to create, but lacking the, well, gumption to actually jump off the creative diving board and do it. I've been that way with my knitting as well. I want to make gorgeous Jane Thornley inspired sweaters and shawls, but I keep standing on the edge refusing to even get my toes wet. It isn't that I don't have the talent or skills or education to do those things. It's that fear of failing or not being good enough. The bookstore did nothing to help inspire me. If anything it made me feel pathetic and clueless.

That's when the wonderful words that keep coming back to me started taking over the plinking of the everlasting Pong game.

"Write what you know," my brain finally heard.
"But what do I know anything about?" I asked.
"Knitting," said the mysterious voice.
"Uh, have you forgotten that this is National Novel Writer's Month?"
"So incorporate it."
"Leave me alone. I'm enjoying my game. Plink. Plink. Plink."
"Have it your way," said the voice.
"Bzzzz. Darn it! You made me miss."

But now it is there. I've got the idea. And yes; it incorporates knitting. Well, knitting is a character really. I've got a plot with a beginning, middle and and end and it can easily become 50,000 words. I passed it by my biggest critic and she said, "Aw, Mom, that sounds like a wonderful romantic comedy that I would pay money to see as a movie." (That, by the way, is a major compliment.) So beginning Monday morning my word count will appear here. You can also follow my progress on Twitter (user name is knitcookwrite there, too).

Now to go find all that yarn for my creative shawl.

Monday, October 18, 2010

OMG run around in circles screaming, "It's almost time!"

NaNoWriMo is almost here again and this year I actually feel prepared going into it. I'm planning on posting my word count each day so those of you cheering me on can know how much further I have to that 50,000 word mark. I love NaNoWriMo. I feel free when I'm writing in a blitz like that. Just write. Don't think about it. Don't edit. Don't critique. Don't even spell check for that matter. Just sit there and write. I should write like that more often because I get really good stuff pouring out when I'm not all concerned about how it looks or reads or if it even makes sense. I think I'm hypercritical when I write leisurely.

In other news, I'm still baking away. It's fun. You should try it. I also am knitting up a storm. Have finished a few shawls and am almost finished with my hexagon socks.

I'm trying to settle on my next "thinking socks" and have a feeling I am going to lean either towards the Miss Marple socks by Star Athena or a pair of entrelac socks.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bread bread and more bread

The weather has finally started to cool off and with that I get a major bug to start baking. I was recently introduced to the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. I am loving the concept of slow fermenting breads. I've played a bit with this concept in the past but never to this extent. I've made several of the breads and they have been quite fun. The hardest part is that we aren't eating the bread as fast as I can make it and most of the recipes come in two loaf variations. This is a delightful large book filled with fabulous recipes. Reinhart talks of bread as though he is wooing it. It is near poetic erotica how he speaks of bread and describes it. Just reading his description of crumb and crust will make you salivate and yearn to get your hands into flour. I highly recommend this book for any true bread lover. Oh and just a word of caution. If you make poolish and put it in a 1 quart jar because it fits and then you forget to put it in the fridge after a few hours you will come home to find poolish all over the counter, down into the draw that houses your bags and wraps, inside the door of the baking pans and in a puddle on the floor. The next day when you go to use said poolish you will only have enough for one large loaf of bread. I don't think you need to ask me how I know this.

The biggest problem that I am having with some of the wetter breads like the ciabatta is that I'm not getting the nice big open holes that these breads are known for. Mine tend to have a really nice crumb and great taste, but I'm missing the holey experience. I'm thinking that I am handling them too much between letting them rise on the cloths and putting them on the pants. The next time I make one of these I am going to let it do a final rising after they are on the pans and see if I am just degassing them too much when I move them to the pans. My friends are enjoying my efforts (though I think that their waistlines are not).

My last bread I made was a lovely egg enriched challah which had just the most wonderfully tender insides. It made you just want to use it for a pillow and it was quite delicious. I have several loaves to make for this upcoming weekend and I am going to make sure that this is one of them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Don't faint - it's a post (and a writing prompt)

Yeah, sorry about being gone for so long. Life sort of got in the way there a bit and I've been so busy with various projects and events that blogging took a back seat. I've got a blog planned for tomorrow that includes a bit about baking and later this week I intend to catch up on my knitting and writing projects. But this is Sunday and Sundays are my writing prompt days. So here goes:

Your character's best friend is having a birthday. How is it celebrated? What does your character buy or make for their BFF? Why? What is the point of the gift? What does this tell you about your character?

See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 23, 2010

10 on Tuesday: Off to College

Today's 10 on Tuesday is about 10 things you wish you had known before you went to college or that you would tell someone before going to college.

1. You don't have to go to college just because you finished high school. You can wait. You can experience some life for a while. You can still backpack across the US or Europe or go do a mission trip to bring fresh water to people in Guatemala if you like or get a job at the MAC counter in the mall. College isn't going anywhere and if you go before you are ready chances are that you are going to drop out, fail out or (worse in my opinion) bore out of learning.

2. Don't let anyone tell you that your major is stupid or useless or not real. If you want to be a theatre major or a French language major or get a degree in fine arts with an emphasis in pottery, then go do it. Do what you love not what someone else thinks is important. If you are studying accounting because your father told you that it was a responsible career where you can make lots of money but you hate it, then don't do it. Do what you love. Be happy doing what you do rather than rich doing what you hate. Also, while it is true that jobs are further and farther between in specialized degrees, not everyone ends up as a teacher or waiter or flipping hamburgers at Mickey D's.

3. You will party. Don't delude yourself that you are going to buckle down and study. Let yourself enjoy your college years. Just don't let your partying dictate how well you do in college. If all you do is sit in your dorm or the library studying and you have no social life, you might as well just do a home study course in your closet in your parents' house. Save it for the weekends and for Bob's sake, please always have a designated driver and make sure that your DD is sober. If you can't trust your DD, then you be the DD.

4. No Doze will not help you pass a test. If you don't know the material, no amount of caffeine will get you through the test. You might as well take it tired with the limited information you have retained than hyped up and unable to answer a single question.

5. While ramen is cheap, you still need protein and fresh produce. Take care of yourself and remember those 4 food groups. Alcohol is not one of the four food groups. Protein and fiber come before rum and Coke.

6. Safe sex. If you don't know what it is, ask. Ask your mom or your dad or your guidance counselor or your school nurse. Or if you really are seeking anonymity, e-mail me and I'll explain it all to you. Or Google it. Just make sure you use it. Got it?

7. If you find yourself hyperventilating before every class and not sleeping because you are so stressed you can't think past the next minute let alone through Friday's Ethics class, then it is time to take a break. It's ok to take a break. See #1. College isn't going anywhere.

8. Always circle the last day to withdraw without failing on your calendar. Just in case. You never know when that World History class (or in my case the five attempts at College Algebra) are going to be your doom. Don't let that date slip by knowing that there is no way you are going to pull off a passing grade. It's ok to drop a course that is killing you so you can spend more energy on those classes that are going to be productive for you.

9. The package store is cheaper than a night on the town and usually lasts longer (as long as you don't invite all your friends over.) Now, I realize I've mentioned alcohol several times in this post and I'm not an advocate of heavy drinking. I'm just being frugal. Oh and red wine keeps better without a refrigerator than white. Just saying.

10. A degree doesn't equate to a career. And not all careers need a degree. If what you want to do would be better served through a different avenue, do it! If you want to own a yarn shop, take some small business classes through your local community college and get a job at a yarn shop. If you want to be a chef, go to a culinary institute and get a job at a restaurant. There are tons of apprenticeships available in all kinds of careers. College is not the only way to a successful and happy career. It's a lot of money to sink into something that you may not use down the road. Make it count for something. And if it won't, then find a different way to get to where you want to be.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

10 on Tuesday (sort of)

I received an e-mail that there wasn't going to be a 10 on Tuesday list this week. So I thought I'd put up my own list of 10 favorite numbers.

1. 11 - just because I like rows of ones all lined up like little soldiers. I suppose you could say I like 111 and 1,111 and 11,111 as well. (But not 1 by itself. That's too lonely.)

2. 2 - Two is a nice number. Two is a couple. Two is a mother and child. Two is twins. Two is a pair (as in socks and shoes, two of my favorite things.)

3. 7 - Like the movie Se7en. (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow). 7 virtues. 7 deadly sins. 7th inning stretch. 7 days of the week.

4. 50,000 - it's the magic "You win" word count for NaNoWriMo It's the beginning of the end of a novel (or half way if your name is J. K. Rowling, Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer).

5. 667 - because it is the neighbor of the beast (even though we all now know that the actual number of the beast is 616, not the previously believed 666).

6. 8 - When I was growing up I learned my multiplication tables thanks to School House Rock. Figure 8 was my favorite one and I always dreamed of ice skating perfect figure 8's on the ice (not that we have ice in Florida, but a girl can dream).

7. 3 - because it is a strong number. Triangles are the strongest shape because two sides give support to the third. Three plays out often in religious contexts (Maiden, Mother, Crone; and Father, Son, Holy Spirit; trinities). It also is the number of books in a trilogy, which are so popular to write at the moment.

8. 100 because it is C in Roman numerals. It was the first really big number I can remember writing to as a child in kindergarten and remembering the thrill of getting to such a huge number. We measure things in 100's. We examine a president's worth by his first 100 days. We celebrate centuries and 100th birthdays and anniversaries in a big way.

9. 97132 - it's the zip code I wish I lived in again.

10. (Hm, it's sort of small for infinity). Infinity is one of those "numbers" that perplexes me. I remember the first time that I was informed that there is no last number. That you can always have one more after it. I sat for hours pondering the largest number I could (gajillions is a number, right?) and then realizing that there could be an "and 1" or even an "and 1/2." Wow. There is no end. It just keeps going. Unlike this post which will end now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hunger Games/Catching Fire Review

Eight more days, folks. Eight more days. I'm going crazy waiting for Mockingjay (book three of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins to be released and downloaded to my nook. I secretly keep checking to see if someone makes a mistake and sends it to me too early (although I would be good and keep it to myself). But in preparation for the release I went and re-read Hunger Games and Catching Fire (the first books in the series).

I will admit that this story line sickens me. For those who haven't read it, the premise is that in the future (this is a post-apocalyptic story) there are 12 districts that all answer (serve) The Capitol. Each year a boy and a girl (ages 12-18) are chosen from each district to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. The idea was that it was to remind the districts of a time when they were at war, but it has turned into a mockery and the only people who seem to enjoy it are the people of the Capitol (as their children will never have to be sacrificed to the games). Things seem to run their course until a player with a conscience enters the games and refuses to sacrifice her friend.

That's really all I'm going to say about the plot because I want you to read the books. They are fabulous and well-written. I was kept on the edge of my seat as I watched the story unfold. I feel for these characters and even though Collins doesn't give me a whole lot of descriptors I can see their faces, imagine the way the stand, present themselves and even smile. The world she has created if believable even if I find it frightening and repulsive. Maybe that was her point.

If you care to help me out a bit, I am using the Hunger Games for our homeschool co-op teen reading group next month and am collecting questions to ask to keep the conversation going. What questions would you ask teens (ages 14-18) about these books? This will be our first meeting for the year and most of the kids will not know each other. I think it will be interesting to see what their reaction would be if I were to tell them that in order to get out of the room they have to kill each other. I'll be sure to report back!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Writing Prompt Sunday

Your MC is lost. Not figuratively. Whether s/he is driving, walking, flying, tessering, or teleporting. This is not where s/he set off to be. What happened? How does s/he get unlost? How does s/he deal with being lost? Is it an adventure or is it frightening? Stressful or humorous? Go write!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some more words for revising

I've been finding so many more traps in my writing that I hadn't even thought of before. Let's consider them, shall we?

Probably The odd thing is that ever since I started noticing this in my own manuscripts, I've been seeing it used in published books. You know what? It isn't needed 90% (or more) of the time and 5% of the time it is used incorrectly. Consider: "He probably was mad because I left the milk on the counter again." Hmmm. I think we know he is mad, so why would he probably be mad? He is mad. He might be mad because the milk was left on the counter. But since we are presuming this is a first person sentence, then we most likely know why he is mad. So let's strip the probability out of the sentence all together. "He was mad. I had left the milk on the counter. Again." See, that's much nicer. It gets the point across and that pesky probably word is gone. When you edit through for this word, read your sentences without the probablies and see if they don't read more concise and more sure.

I think Really? You just think? Get rid of it. It's stupid and doesn't belong there. Up for editing: "I think I can put my on my own pants." It's an I statement. Don't I know if I can put my pants on or not? Strip it. "I can put on my own pants." Ah, there's a strong character and a strong statement. Where would I leave an "I think"? Here: "I think I know how to get there." It shows that the speaker is unsure of what she is doing. That's what you want to portray. Unless, of course, you know that your character really does know how to get from Space Mountain to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad without getting lost.

was _____ ing You know what was ____ ing is. It's when you write was and any ing verb when what you really meant to write was past tense. For instance: "She was already feeling lightheaded and woozy." Really? Did I really do that? Yeah, and unfortunately I did it quite a big. Come on, Lorna, just say it like it is "She already felt lightheaded and woozy." Gah! One would think you never took honors English!

That Here is another word that we tend to throw in that just doesn't belong. Strip them. Go ahead. Put on some really good stripper music and take it all off. What am I talking about: "She was thankful that he was there to lend extra support." See? It doesn't even belong there. It isn't needed. It's a filler word that I would use to earn my Word Padding Badge over at NaNoWriMo. But it doesn't belong in well-written sentences. "She was thankful he was there to lend extra support."

Well, that should keep you busy for a while. And don't forget the stripper music. It's really important (because this is all really fun and easy editing. Save the Cold Play for the serious editing!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pulling out the Pulls

Or maybe since I've been on such a wonderfully fruitful editing streak lately I should say, "Editing out the pulls." I finally rewrote all the feels/felts from my manuscript and tackled the coulds. That was actually quite fun. But neither of those edits was as satisfying as rewording the pulls. As I edited them I made of list of words that I used to replace pull, pulled, pulling, and pulls. Here 'tis:

withdrew (form school - this is a YA book, please!)

Now out of context one would think that none of those words could be interchanged with the pull words, but amazingly I found a way to make it work. Some of the edits required that I rethink the entire sentence or phrase whereas others were simple substitutions. I hadn't realized until I started this major revision how much we rely on the same set of words over and over. How I can have such a limited word base when I love words and have a fantastic library of books about words is beyond me. At least I love to edit and find no great insult in someone suggesting changes to wording and phrasing.

10 on Tuesday: 10 Reasons To Love Bacon

1. JFK
2. The River Wild
3. A Few Good Men
4. Footloose
5. Animal House
6. Taking Chance
7. Six Degrees of Separation (I happen to be only 3 degrees from Kevin)
8. Apollo 13
9. Liberally minded
10. Kyra Sedgwick

Oh, you mean the meat bacon? Oh, ew. Not a fan.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Go do this RIGHT NOW!

Seriously, I mean it. Drop everything you are doing, close all your extraneous programs, put on your editing music and open your most recent manuscript. Now using your "find feature" in your writing software (most have them, in MS Word 2007 it can be found under the "Home" tab to the far right hand side). Type in the Find box,"feel." It is the most insanely overused word ever! Seriously. In my 80,000 word manuscript I found almost 200 instances of feel, felt, feeling. There are better ways of expressing "I felt" than using "I felt." And guess what else? In many instances you can actually delete that little word and your sentence still makes sense. Really. Try it. And if that doesn't work, how better can you write that sentence without using "I felt"?

I only left a few instances of this word in and it was in places where the phrase is so ingrained in our vernacular that it just seemed silly to try to alter it. One instance was "How are you feeling today?" We say that all the time so why not use it? But the word feelings can be said so much better with the word emotions. I am amazed at not only how many times I used that word (or variation thereof) but how well-entrenched it is in our daily speech. Another example where I used feel too often was "The room felt hot." Um, what about just "The room was hot"?

So why are you still sitting here reading this? Go. Go edit. You know you want to now.

A special thanks goes out to RebeccaJoym for her tweet yesterday. She is the author of Infinite Days and blogs here.

Oh and when you are finished with feel/felt, try could and then pulled. I'll post more as I think of them (or share some you know.)

Word Prompt Sunday

Tada! It's that time again. So let's talk about time. What is the time for your book? Is it modern or is it in the past? Is it in a real place or is it in a mythical place? We are going to play with time/place today. Bring your MC to your time and place. Hang out with your MC for a day, showing them your world. Where do you go? What do you show them? How do they react? Do they approve of your time and place or do they only wish to return to their own?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Limiting oneself or sticking to values?

I've been thinking lately about the agents I have been submitting my work to. I consider myself fairly green when it comes to the environment. I carry my own shopping bags so I don't have to use the stupid (weak, holey, and ugly) plastic bags that the stores use. I recycle everything that I possibly can and reuse plastic containers and glass jars. I run multiple errands with thought going to creating a circuit so I don't crisscross town and drive a fairly fuel-efficient car.

I've been spending the past month adding to my database of agents that I want to submit to (as many are on vacation during the months of July and August I'm using that time to research.) I decided to head to the library last week and take advantage of various books on publishing in the reference section. I had my notebook and pen so I could write agencies' addresses, websites and various notes (such as only accepts through various months, what they wish to see for with the query - sample pages, chapters, synopsis, etc.), which genres they represent (of course bypassing those that don't mesh with my own writing), and specific agents' names). I have a great spreadsheet I created to keep track of these things.

I took all this home and started going to the websites to better understand what these agents were looking for, make sure contact information hadn't changed, and to see how familiar I was with any of their current clients and their work. I have truly been amazed in this Internet world that we live in how many agents do not accept e-mail queries or submissions. I started adding up what it would cost me in both paper, ink and postage to send just queries (not including synopses, sample pages or manuscripts) to all these agents. Then I figured out the cost for sending just five agents a query with the first fifty pages (as that seems to be most common). Let's just say it's not cheap. And I have to trust that these agents are actually going to recycle my pages. I don't have this fear of my work being stolen, but more my work ending up in a landfill where it may or may not decompose.

I appreciate agents who say on their website "We are a green company and only accept e-queries." Thank you. You are speaking my language. I was talking about this with another writer who was shocked that I was limiting my search. What if I missed the perfect agent and a great book deal because I refused to submit to someone who was not as "green" as I am? What if that agent is restricted by her firm to only accept paper copies? And am I one of those people who believes in the destruction of "real books" in favor of the e-book? One of her points was also that agents who only accept e-queries might not be as attentive and more easily dismiss work because it is so simple to discard bites of data than sheets of paper and perhaps "e-agents" aren't as attentive because it is "too easy" to create an e-query than to write and print a "real letter."

All this got me to thinking about whether I am limiting myself or if I believe strongly in my convictions of a greener planet by only using agents who accept e-queries. I do firmly believe in "real books." I love books. I've mentioned this before. The texture of the page, the smell of the ink, the dance of letters across the vast expanse of paper creating stories. All these things I adore about physical books. They are things that cannot be duplicated by any e-reader. As much as I love my nook, I will always love the feel of an open book in my hand. But does my application for an agent to help me sell my books (real and digital) mean that I should kill trees in order to reach that goal? I just can't believe that it does.

I'd be interested in my reader's views on this (yes; all six of you). If you are a published writer, did you use traditional means or is it truly possible to find an agent via the web? Tomorrow we will discuss the ways in which to create an e-query and not accidentally send it off to an agent before you are finished.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My first signing (not)

I must admit that we got a little silly at Stitch n Bitch tonight and there wasn't even any alcohol involved. This may be a Very Good Thing. There is a romance writer by the name of Michelle Reid (part of my own legal name) who has a Harlequin Presents for the month of August called Mia and the Powerful Greek (I love these titles, really I do). So The other day my daughter took my picture with the book and we had a good laugh about it. Tonight one of the ladies asked me how my quest for an agent was going and I said, "Oh, didn't you hear?" I ran and got a copy of Michelle Reid's book and made sure everyone was aware that this was not my book.

But then things got very silly and they begged me to do an oral reading, and never one to pass up an opportunity to have a little fun I obliged them. (I'm afraid the mothers with the teenagers won't be returning.) Then one of the ladies begged me to sign a copy if she bought it. So I did (with great and sincere apologies to the real Michelle Reid). But it was all in good humor and fun and hey, both copies of the book at the store were sold (as I really have to have a book that has at least one of my names on it in my library, don't you think?) I must say that I can see the excitement of doing a book signing and hopefully one day I will actually be able to post a real picture of me really signing a real copy of my real book. Until then I 'm going to delve into a little naughtiness and enjoy a fun read.

And if by some stretch of the improbability the other Michelle Reid comes across this, I hold you in the highest regards and am so glad that Nikos does nothing tiny!

10 Things To Bring on Vacation

It's time for another Ten on Tuesday list!

10 Things To Bring on Vacation

1. My toothbrush (it seems to be the most forgotten item by travellers)
2. A simple project to knit and a back up project in case I finish (or get bored)
3. My laptop
4. My iPod
5. My nook preloaded with several books to read (and the knowledge that I can always buy more!)
6. My sock monkey NijiSar as she is a world traveller who understands the ins and outs of international and domestic travel
7. My shoulder bag with lots of pockets to hold all the things that I need with me all the time
8. A small sewing kit (because I am forever losing a button or pulling out a hem)
9. Stamps so I can send witty postcards to friends
10. My phone because it acts as camera, calendar, GPS, address book and watch

I would add my sense of humor because I tend to A) get lost while on vacation (I am navigationally challenged) and B) run into rude people in amazing numbers (I'm like a rudeness magnet and despite the number of times I have been pushed into, knocked down, cut in front of and yelled at for no good reason I just don't push, knock, cut, or yell back).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Writing Prompt Sunday Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Here's this week's challenge: Take a scene from something that you have already written where the MC had to make a choice between two different actions. Now rewrite that same scene with the character making the opposite choice. What happens to the story? How does it change the direction of the story? How does it make you feel about your character? How do your other characters feel about your MC's decision?

Sometimes I have found that even if I just play with a scene and make my character do something different than I originally imagined, it helps me understand my character better. And who knows, it might even change (for the better) the direction a book is going.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jumping off the Cliffs of Insanity

Do not fear gentle readers, I have not lost my wits and taken up cliff diving. What I have decided to do is to leave my lost manuscript behind for a while. It feels a whole lot like cliff diving though. It means I am free to work on other projects. I know that my full manuscript with wonderful revisions is really on the stupid pink flash drive ... somewhere. It can be regained (for a price - between $350 and $900). What I'm writing in trying to replace that which my flash drive is holding for ransom is pure and utter crap. I'm three chapters from the end of the story and about 20,000 (yes that is twenty thousand) words short. Which means, boys and girls, that I've left out a whole bunch of sub-plot (which I know there was some) and character development (which I know there was a whole bunch of) and it is necessary information for the story. SO, I am going to let it sit there as is. I'm not even going to finish the rewrite. I am going to continue with getting the first in this series published (I mean the missing book is the fourth in the series). When the first book is published then I'm going to pay those nice people at the data recovery place their big bucks and get Jason's story back. Until then I'm moving on.

And it is a big step for me to do. There are all these other books that are calling to be written and I have editing that needs to be done and query letters to formulate and send and meanwhile I've been sitting here spending this time, pulling my hair out while trying to recreate something that will never be as good as what I originally wrote and I know it. Therefore, for my sanity (and yours so you don't have to listen to me whine about this - at least for a while) I'm going forward with that next book in my head. So. Off. We. Goooooooo!

(This is where there should be some really cool inspirational music.)

A fresh clean sheet of paper (or because this is the digital age a smooth blank word document) sits in front of me and Jo March has left the burned manuscript in the fire. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Too many blogs

I've decided I need either A) another day that I catch up on my blogs added to my schedule or B) a better way to handle all my blogs so that I read them spread out through the week rather than on just one day. Unfortunately, not all the blogs I read are on Blogger so I can't add them to the "follow" feature and I haven't figured out how to manage the RSS feeds (and some people have websites that can't be -or I'm not tech savvy enough to figure out how to - be RSSed.) Anyone have a good tutorial? I tend to read a person's blog almost immediately if they actually tweet that they have a new posting, otherwise I wait until Thursdays and work my way through my list.

This week has been sort of odd. I finished another book and then took a break from writing to do the second edit on a different book. I always find it interesting that I will still find typographical errors in my second edits. Silly things like there instead of their or or instead of our and of course Word doesn't pick it up or find it completely nonsensical. Sent out a few more queries and received a few more no thank yous (thank you agents who are thoughtful enough to at least send a form e-mail).

In the knitting front I finally finished my Kiama shruggy-sweatery thing that I bought the yarn for at Stitches South. It is beautiful and drapey and soft and perfect as a summer sweater for here in the deep south where the temperature is 152°F (factoring in the heat index) outside and -15°F (with windchill) inside. I cast on a new shawl (Maja) out of Malabrigo. It is coming along nicely. And I joined a mystery knit-along that will also be a worsted weight shawl in the end. I'm using the yarn that I frogged from my Clapotis. The hexagon socks are still hexagonning and will eventually be finished.

I'm getting ready to try some new cookie recipes. I need to keep endeavoring on my cookie recipe idea that I've been working on. Anyone have any good ideas on what you think would be good in your perfect cookie?

OK, that is all. Back to blog reading.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

A big thank you to PoMoGoLightly for this idea from Caroleknits. I love the idea of lists (you should see me prior to a vacation) and needed something to fill a weekday posting, so this is just perfect for me. Hopefully I will remember to do this each week (even though I've been following this for several weeks. le sigh.)

10 Things to Do Instead of Watching TV

(OK, these first four shouldn't surprise anyone)
1. Knit
2. Cook
3. (You know it) Write
4. (It's related) Read
5. Sew on that quilt that is cut but not pieced
6. Make some fresh mozzarella (yeah, I know it is something like cooking, but it's really different. It's more like science in the kitchen.)
7. Browse a thrift store for funky shoes
8. Play Sock Monkey Bananigans
9. Go for a walk (but only if the temperature is under 90°F)
10. Ponder why I have the largest non-fruit bearing tomato plant in the world

I will freely admit that I love my television set. Not because I am a TV junkie. In fact, there are many things that I would much rather do than watch TV. However, I happen to love movies. Love love love love love movies. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is to go to the movie theatre all by myself and sit in the dead center of the auditorium and watch a movie while munching on trail mix (the one that mysteriously fell into my bag and I had no clue as to how it got there until after the movie started and then it is there, so I might as well eat it. Right?) I love almost every genre of movie except truly stupid humor and horribly graphic horror. I love rom-com's, comedies, animation, suspense, dramas, action-adventure, classics, art pieces, foreign films, children's movies, and (especially) baseball movies. I just love a good story and seeing that story come to life. There are movies that I go to when I am working on a project. I've been known to put on a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movie while I'm quilting or knitting, just to entertain something that probably isn't my prefrontal cortex. It's background noise. I can't tell you the number of times I have seen Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing while I worked out a complicated knitting pattern.

And if you are nice and promise not to talk to me during the movie I'll even share my trail mix.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Penultimate Writing Prompt

OK, maybe not the penultimate. Although it might be if the world ends after my next prompt and then I would be correct in naming this the Penultimate Writing Prompt. I named it the Penultimate Writing Prompt because, well, I just wanted to use the word penultimate this week and couldn't fit it into my writing. So what is the purpose of all this? To bring up the concept of lesser used words. I love the word penultimate. It's a truly cool word. For those wondering what it means, I turn your attention to Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: pen·ul·ti·mate
Pronunciation: \pi-ˈnəl-tə-mət\
Function: adjective
Date: 1677
1 : next to the last

It's a much nicer way of saying, "the next to the last" don't you think? Wouldn't it be cool if you were the penultimate kid chosen for the basketball team rather than the next to the last kid chosen? (Of course that usually is better than the last kid chosen, isn't it?) Penultimate just sounds more regal, more accepting. There are so many other words that are just as wonderful.

So, here's your task for the week: Find five really good words that sum up an idea that would otherwise need an entire phrase to say. (Is there a word for that?) Use those five words to make a logical story. How can you use this idea to better your writing overall? Expand on it as you work this week and see if you can't find tired phrases and bring new life to them by using a single, better, word. (And much thanks goes to PoMoGoLightly for her inspiring this prompt idea in suggesting that I actually google a reverse dictionary.)

The Big Re-Write

So remember when I lost all those books during the great Flash Drive Mishap earlier this month? I still haven't recovered them, but as I mentioned Tuesday I did find those first few pages which helped me push through some energy to consider trying to recreate that book. It's going pretty well, but it just doesn't seem the same. It's going to take months of edits and revisions before it looks anything like what I remember. The saddest part of having to rewrite something lost is that you never seem to be able to get it exactly as you had before. You try and try, but still it seems but a shadow of its former glory. I tweeted earlier today that rewriting a lost book is like trying to rewrite a classic. It just never is as good as the original author wrote it. Even a favorite book will never sound as good rewritten by someone else.

Consider, if you will, that suddenly all the Harry Potter books are mysteriously sucked up into a black hole (along with J. K. Rowling) and Scholastic Books comes to you and says, "Help! You are our last hope. You are the world's biggest Harry Potter fan and we want you to rewrite these books so that these stories won't be lost!" Unless you have a photographic memory (and have memorized all 4,175 pages) there is just no way to recreate that work. Rowling was a wordsmith and it was her world and she would probably be at a loss herself to recreate what she had worked so eloquently before. Can you remember the exact order of everything that happened in every book? Can you remember all the wonderful witty things that Professor McGonagall said? Do you remember who all were knitters in the books and what they each knitted? (BTW, bonus points to anyone who can list all the knitters and what they were referenced to having knitted) See? It's the little things.

Today I was writing away, and feeling good about the groove I was in when suddenly I remembered a scene. But where does it go? When did it happen? It had importance, but when did I reveal it? Was it before or after Merry was injured? Was the story spoken or thought? If spoken to whom? And what exactly was that wonderful line that Lexie delivered at lunch? But I persevere. I will prevail even. Can someone pass me the pitcher of Margaritas now?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ten Whole Pages!

10 pages and 3,088 words! That is what I found today of my previously missing novel. I am so happy I could almost scream! OK, it really isn't much, but I have that start and the outline to this book. I almost feel like I can write it again. It has to be written. I can't just shrug it off as a lost book. It's part of a series and a much needed story. Plus it was one of my favorites. I remember when I finished it - my NaNoWriMo '09 manuscript - and how complete it felt. It was the first book that I got to the end of and truly felt that I had covered everything and nothing felt missing. And then it all died (see previous blog entry of backing things up). Gone. Lost. Hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing, keeningly heartbreakingly gone.

And then this morning I found this file marked, "Sangali Notes 1" and thought to myself, "Hmmm. That's odd, because there should not be a file called Sangali Notes 1. There should only be a Sangali Notes." So I opened it and there was the first beautiful line and I almost cried. "Jason rolled over." That's it and ten glorious beautiful fantastic euphoric pages! I truly understand the phrase, "Oh joyous day Callou Callay!" And yes, I chortled in my joy!

I'm so happy I may take my children to go do the recycling today. And the car wash. Oh, heck, let's throw in a trip for Taco Tuesday as well!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Writing Prompt Sunday (Oh goodie)

Sometimes our characters are all too perfect, even if they are loathsome. Villains can even be the perfect villain - they smoke, they drink, they deal in drugs. The princess can also be far too perfect - she dresses well, she sings beautifully, she has long flowing tresses, she uses gentle words and believes that the world loves her. So here's what you have to do: Find the fault in your character's life. How does your character feel about this flaw? How do you feel about this character's flaw. Describe the flaw and your character's association with it in 500 words.

Now go to a self-help group.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New (and surprising) Electronics

I eluded to the acquisition of a laptop in a previous post. Yes; I finally entered the "go to the coffee shop and write without pen and paper age." She's a lovely little laptop that came preinstalled with Microsoft Office 2007. Can I say that Word '07 is the least intuitive writing program ever? It took me over ten minutes to figure out how to "Save As" last week. So I'm looking for a better writing software.

I must say, though, that I am thoroughly enjoying the writing process even more now. I have taken Charlotte (that's her name - and yes; she's named for a Bronte sister) with me to cafe's, bookstores, coffee shops and (ready for this?) the living room! And Mr. KCW was kind enough to finally get the wi-fi going in the house properly so that I could (if I so desired, which I don't have any desire whatsoever to do) carry my laptop with me while I do the laundry. Amazing. Right? I'm married to a freaking network engineer and I think I'm the last gal in the world to have wi-fi in her house.

To add to this wonderful step into writing freedom I have also been gifted a nook. I have resisted having an e-reader for years. Despite my voracious appetite for reading, I never could bring myself to pay a whole lot of money for a "book substitute." As a former librarian and a struggling author, I love books. I love the feel of them, the look of them, the way the letters dance across the page teasing you to read the next sentence. There is nothing like the weight of a book, especially when you fall asleep reading and wake to find it smashed against your face. I even dream about the smell of books - the musty smell of paper and the stringent scent of ink, glue and bindings. There is just something about a book that is so amazing and wonderful. Why would I want to purchase an e-reader if I have bookstores and libraries.

And yet here I sit with a nook at my side. How did this happen you ask? Well, I came to realize that there are just some authors (Stephen King I'm talking about you) who write very large books. Even in paper back they are enormous. And heavy. So having an e-reader that weighs less than twelve ounces is better than a book that weighs three pounds. My second point of justification is that there are tons of free books out there to download. Some of them are even pretty good or are old friends. I was secretly thrilled to find that Little Women was included in the initial free books that came with my nook seeing as it is my most favorite book ever since I first read it at ten years old.

The most wonderful thing about the nook is that I can download knitting patterns onto it and take them with me. Isn't that amazing? I am thrilled beyond belief. Books and knitting patterns all there contained in twelve ounces of plastic and electronics. I think that Louisa is about to become one of my best friends. (Yes; her name is Louisa. Doesn't everyone name their electronic friends?)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


After much hemming and hawing I finally got a laptop. It's for my writing. I love her. Her name is Charlotte. This was prompted by my flash drive fail (see an earlier post if you want to read the entire horrid story) and then my desktop getting corrupted by a drive-by infection (fortunately, not my external hard drive and Mr. KCW was able to clean it without any problems.) Through those ordeals I actually lost several books. It made me just sick. I transferred everything over to the new laptop. I have a new YA book that I've been working on and it is just nicely flowing along. Today I went to work on it some and so I opened Word, opened the document and sat there waiting for it to load. The screen stayed blank. Empty. Nothing. Word count: 0 Character count:0. ZERO! It's gone. Couldn't even restore a previous version. Thankfully most of it is on a flash drive, but I've lost nearly 2 weeks of work on that story. Good work, too. I hate trying to rewrite stuff. I never seem to capture the same spirit. :(

I feel like the technology gods (anyone know their names off hand - I'm thinking a burnt offering of some sort is in order) are out to get me. I'm half tempted to go back to an old fashioned manual typewriter (I have one of those) or maybe pen and paper. The worst thing that ever happened to Jo March was that her sister burned her work. She never had a computer eat her work. OK, enough pity party. I should get back to writing. Maybe I can figure out something and rewrite that first kiss scene better than before (doubtful - it was really cute.)

Writing Prompt Sunday

Write your MC into a situation in which s/he is facing a fear. How does s/he cope? How does s/he work through the situation? How does s/he feel afterwards? Now (because we don't want to leave our MC's needing therapy) write how your MC recovers from the ordeal (which may or may not include therapy).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Writing Prompt Sunday

Write a scene where one of your characters faces a struggle with freedom. What is keeping your character from achieving this freedom? With which freedom is your character struggling? How do you resolve this conflict? Or do you? How does this change your character's outlook on his/her current situation?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dear Mr. Creepy Guy

Yeah, so, I was at the bookstore writing in the cafe. This really creepy guy sits at the table next to me. Out of the side of my eye I think that he might be reading what I'm writing, so I moved my laptop (Oh yeah, I need to post about that) a bit closer to me. He adjusts his chair almost immediately. So then I turn my screen a bit and he moves his chair again. I keep trying to tell myself that it is all in my head until he tells me that I used the wrong word! No I am not kidding. I wish that I were. He said, "I think you mean the word propagate." I turned and looked at him and said, "Excuse me?" He says again, "I think you mean the word propagate. You used propagand." I said, "I know what I used. I meant to do that. Would you stop reading my work?" Then he says, "It looks interesting." So I said, "Fine. Buy it when it's published." I closed my laptop and left. I am totally dumbfounded.

OK, that is all. Just had to get that off my chest. Off to go to a different bookstore's cafe for a while.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the reading table and movies

(Because even though it is beside my bed, let's face it, the primary purpose of that table is not just to sit by my bed but to hold my reading lamp, glasses and my stack of books.)

I just finished reading the first two books in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series namely Uglies and Pretties. I found both these books a tad intriguing i how an entire society (world?) could be controlled by the idea that being beautiful only fits into a boxed criteria. "This is pretty and this is only pretty and if it isn't this then it isn't pretty it is ugly." Individuality is frowned upon and uniquenesses aren't admired. Of course there is much more to this society than just looks. There were quite a few things about these books that I found very believable and other things I found a little hokey, but then that happens in just about any book where the far future is explored. These would make excellent books for a young adult reading group (or an adult one for that matter).

Last night (after coming home from the midnight release party of the third Twilight Saga movie, which isn't always the best time to start a new book, but I had to let my mind unwind a bit through literature) I picked up Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. I read the firs two chapters before my eyes screamed to be shut. My brain still wanted more, but the physical overtook the mental last night and it was probably a very good thing. Absolutely loving the set up in this book and am intrigued enough to continue. I'll post a better review later.

I also picked up The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I seem to be drawn to post apocalyptic stories these days. I haven't seen the movie, but probably because I have a teen who hates post apocalyptic movies (especially those with Kevin Costner). I might rent it after I read it. (Never before).

As I mentioned above, we went to see Eclipse at the midnight showing. It was me and my fifteen year old daughter. The twelve your boy didn't want to go and the seventeen year old boy feigned that she didn't want to go. I've read the books (good plot, not-so-great writing) and seen the first two movies (not impressed and don't get me started on the lack of acting). Last night was impressive though. It was fairly complete to the way things happened in the book (albeit some things were greatly compressed, but I've come to expect that in movies made from books) and the acting was much better than in the last two movies. For fun my daughter and I did a scream girl poll to see if we were in a Team Jacob or Team Edward room. Final count was Jacob: 6, Edward: 3, Seth: 1 (although it was more "aw cute" than "OMG HAWT").

Tonight is the opening of The Last Airbender. Unfortunately there is no way my body will allow me to do back-to-back midnight movies and I think that Mr. KCW would kill me if I actually went and saw it without him as he has to work very late tonight. We will go on Saturday and hopefully I will be able to stay away from any spoilers (even though I *know* what the story is and have seen all the trailers.)

What I love about finding really good movies and books is that it feeds my creativity. I thrive off good stories. Lately the Word Fairy has been blessing me and hitting me upside the head with a good dose of logophilia. I am greatly enjoying seeing daily word counts of four and seven thousand words. Thank you Word Fairy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Writing Prompt Sunday Strikes Again!

Have a conversation with your MC. Do your personalities mesh? Do you even like your MC? Does your MC like you? What part of you do you find in your MC that you don't like? Is that in anyway a reflection of you? What do you talk about? Where do you meet? Are you in your MC's world or your own?