Friday, December 26, 2008

Online hiatus

I think we have pinned our internet woes on our ancient router. ("We" being myself and the children with whom I share an internet addiction.) We have reduced ourselves to one computer in the house being hard-connected to the modem, and that happens to be not-my-computer, since my computer does not have the modem nearby. In other words, I'll still be checking in here and peeking at my email until the new router arrives, but my online presence will be much reduced. Also, my parents will be here over the weekend, so I'll be busy enjoying their company as well.

I'm sure I'll be back soon enough, certainly once the break is over and I am once again in front of my computer wavering between actual word count production and writing a blog entry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Even a miracle needs a hand

My internets are the poopz today, but in theory this should work.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A stillness of the sun

This is, I suppose, where I'm supposed to write something profound and moving in regards to Christmas. Honestly, I've always found Christmas to be a bit overwhelming--even seen as a time in which to introspect on the "true" meaning of the season. Because, being me, I find plenty of time to introspect about all things spiritual (and everything else) throughout the year.

There are things I still love about Christmas, but they are small things and possibly not so much about Christmas in specific as about my need to stop and listen for the divine on a semi-regular basis: I like to sit quietly in a darkened room and gaze at the tree lights. I like to watch the Christmas specials--the old ones, like Rudolph and Frosty and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or the one with the mice who save Christmas by making, breaking, and fixing a clock--and let myself get caught up in the magic so deeply that I still tear up in all the right places. I like the pristine cold air at midnight, and the hymns belted out with more enthusiasm than accuracy at midnight mass. There is something in the air at moments like those, something I probably can't explain no matter how many words I throw around. It has nothing to do with religion or even with Christmas, and everything to do with feeling, with no proof and absolute certainty, in spite of my constant struggle with depressive tendencies and the always-nagging question "why?", that there is somewhere, somehow, an answer, even if I don't know it yet. That there is some kind of divine spark inside each of us. That there is light, and on my best days maybe I even manage to help spread it around.

On a recent trip to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis with my boys and some friends, we watched a planetarium show called "Season of Light." I learned that the word "solstice" means "still sun," and chills went down my spine as they went on to talk about how the earliest solstice rituals were meant to welcome or even attract the sun to return to us. There were images of druids building bonfires during the darkest, coldest nights--despite the dark and the cold, with certainty that the sun was still there and would return.

Happy holidays to everyone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wiped. Out.

I spent the day herding fifth graders through the Children's Museum in Indianapolis. Cool place. Good kids. I had five in my van. One of them rode in the front seat with me and regaled me with everything from how he's going to be an engineer if the NFL doesn't work out to his opinions on the economy, all the while fiddling with the radio to find his favorite classic rock station so we could jam out.

Amusing, but exhausting.

One more day to Christmas break.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nail on the head

Via one of my new favorite blogs, Shrinking Violet Promotions:

Online Jung Typology Test

Typology Test for your blog

(And let me just add that these are but two of the many wonderful bits I've found on that blog. The tidbit on the sidebar which begins with "Introversion is NOT a social disease"? Yeah. I knew I'd be visiting these people a lot as soon as I saw that.)

There are various places to find detailed descriptions and information regarding your type, once you find it, including the Human Metrics page the first test is on and The Personality Page. Being me, I find it all pretty fascinating, and most of it seems pretty on the mark for me.

My personal type comes back as INFJ, with REALLY high scores under Introverted and Intuitive and low to moderate under the Feeling and Judging. The type is described as The Protector or The Counselor, depending on which site you use to look it up. I found this one seems to describe me the best.

However, I answered all those questions as they apply in face to face situations; when I went back for curiosity's sake and took it again, answering any social-related questions as if they applied to online only, my high Introverted score became a low Extroverted score. Which probably explains at least in part how my blog scored ESFP--The Performer. And, I would imagine, also explains how so many of my closest friends are those I meet and hang out with online. I'm guessing that has a lot to do with the fact that there is a clear if invisible wall around me when I'm online--if I'm available for socializing, then it's only because I have put myself out there, and I only do that when I am in the frame of mind for it. In other words, I guess, I am definitely an introvert, because I much prefer my quiet alone time. But when I do put myself out there into the world, I am capable of and even enjoy behaving like an extrovert.


In the blog post at SVP where I found the blog typing link, a LOT of people commenting noted that they are INFJ's--almost exclusively, actually. And INFJ is supposedly the rarest type. Coincidence, or are INFJ's simply found in larger percentages in the writing/blogging/artistic circles the blog is geared toward?

If you feel like sharing your results or thoughts, you know where to find the comments section!

In the meantime, I have to cover a classroom during the teachers' Christmas luncheon tomorrow, followed by driving and chaperoning for a 5th grade field trip on Thursday. Start sending any excess extroverted vibes you don't need my direction now, please.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday morning geekery

I'm still working on a rewrite plan for Crowmaker. It has thus far involved a lot of scribbling notes and diagrams in OneNote and a whole bunch of deep thinking, but it is also resulting in a rough outline which accumulates the important bits I discover during the scribbling and thinking. It's in what I usually liken to a birthing stage--painful and slow, but I can feel that what I'm struggling for is close to coming out where I can see it more clearly. I'm trying to not force anything much this week, with two weeks of Christmas break right around the corner. But I am working!

The aforementioned geekery comes to you courtesy the Joe-Bear, who spotted this on my computer screen over the weekend. "You're making a soundtrack for your novel?" (Said in the "huh" tone of voice that could be interpreted as "That's cool" or "My mother is kinda weird." You decide.) Mostly I just use it to prod the Muse when she's sleepy, but here's a list you can do with what you will. (I'm too lazy to collect links this morning, so you're on your own this time.)

"Best of You," Foo Fighters
"To Be a Man," Boston
"The Pretender," Foo Fighters
"No Way Back," Foo Fighters
"Saints and Angels," Sara Evans
"One Blue Sky," Sugarland

Friday, December 12, 2008

That's my story and I'm sticking to it

It wasn't the most productive week ever, but I did manage to get a solid start on an outline for a rewrite of Crowmaker. I also did a fair chunk of chasing links to new and interesting blogs and articles. (Some of which I've added to my sidebar.) Technically, the link chasing counts as work, falling under the "educational" category. I also did some meager research into where I should send "Wings" next.

The blog watch for the WotF contest is officially over--I got the rejection letter for "Pale Roses" in the mail today. So researching potential markets for that story also goes on my To Do list. In looking at my calendar, I have one regular work week left before Christmas break hits. I'm not counting on accomplishing a lot during the two weeks of break, so I probably won't put the market research or submitting of either short story on my calendar until after the kids go back to school. I may admit to just feeling rather bleh about doing much of anything with either of them. Or I may not.

So, in summary: This week was not a complete loss, for which I am thankful and pleased. Next week will likely follow a similar pattern of leisurely writing-related work, and the two weeks after that are entirely up for grabs. The first day following break will no doubt find me at my desk, eager to plan my little heart out and get something productive done.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Going down again

I think at this point, since the sad has still not really gone away, that it's safe to say I have entered the annual season of the winter blues. My "coping" yesterday and Monday consisted mostly of playing video games and rolling in self-pity. Today, I decided it might be wiser to go with the special (albeit expensive) sunlight-mimicking light bulb in my desk lamp, a little bit of exercise, and forcing myself to do some writing-related work, even if I couldn't quite get directly to the writing just yet. And music. Music usually helps a lot, too.

So far this morning, I have constructed a final timeline for Crowmaker, to aid in this whole "planning the rewrite" stage. No, really. It's the final timeline. It's not at all like the first five. I really mean it, this time! I put this one into OneNote, in a nifty table format that is easily tweaked and played with and seen all at one time for the big picture effect instead of scrawled haphazardly across and in the margins of several sheets of paper. (Some lined, some the back sides of letters from the boys' school in SC... One of them was even pretty yellow!) So I feel productive. And more, I think I can go back to the outline I was working on and fix the stumbling block I'd tripped over there that sent me scrambling for a working timeline to begin with. Yay.

Musical (re-)discovery this week is The Hooters. One day last week, the boys and I were having supper. The husband was working late, so it was a pretty casual affair, which means we were listening to assorted songs of our choice at full blare and talking about music. (I have no idea what food was actually involved; I don't remember.) While listening to The Killers, I was reminded that I had intended to sometime compare their song "Uncle Jonny" to "Johnny B." by The Hooters. So we decided right then would be a good time. This involved digging up an old cassette version of One Way Home, but we had a good discussion about the similarities and differences between the songs, with their guys named Johnny and their approaches to the subject of drug addiction.

And then, of course, I had to rewind the cassette and play "Satellite" and "Karla with a K," just because I hadn't heard them in ages. At which point I was reminded how much I really liked pretty much every single song on their albums. Michael was bopping along with the music, so I explained to him about televangelists and some of the related scandals and had him listen to the lyrics of "Satellite." He grinned. And he asked me to play it again the next night.

So yeah. The Hooters are on tap on Rhapsody today. I didn't link any of the songs, but I'm willing to bet you can find them on YouTube if you try hard enough. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite, but in addition to the above, I'm also inordinately fond of "Where Do the Children Go" and "South Ferry Road." And "Day by Day." OK, and of course "And We Danced."

Monday, December 8, 2008


Normally, Monday is one of my favorite days of the week--being a mother/housewife type person, weekends are my busiest days since all the family is home and since I save up my big housework projects for those days in order to leave myself some quiet time during weekdays for writing.

Today, we have overcast skies and freezing rain. Very light freezing rain, just enough to make the streets a little slick and the parking lots a little more slick, not enough to close down schools. (At least, not in Indiana.) Joey is home sick with a nasty head cold, the kind where your nose either runs constantly or stuffs up so you can't breathe, and neither option will let you sleep much. He spent the night in his dad's recliner to try and find a comfortable position, but he was wiped out this morning, so I kept him home. I spent the night waking up every hour or so to listen for him, and he got me up at 2am to see if he could take more cold medicine. In short, there is much weariness in this house this morning.

And I just do NOT feel like tackling anything writing-related this morning. At all. I don't feel like reworking any of the chapters I know need to be reworked. I don't feel like writing any of the new scenes that need to be written. I don't feel like digging up the next potential market for "Wings" and getting it ready to mail again. I just. Don't. Want. To.

So maybe I won't. I haven't given myself a day off for quite some time now. And my original game plan was to write mostly Tues. through Thurs. and squeeze some hours from the weekend to give myself 15-20 hours a week for writing. I've been putting in 20-30 hours a week, rolling through Monday and Friday as well as every other day of the week, because it's been going strong and I've felt like it. But that doesn't mean I have to keep up that schedule, just because I can. A day off is OK.

My boss really needs to stop being such a guilt trip sometimes, y'know?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Death to blog titles

Seriously. I am so not good at them.

The WotF blog has posted a second list of Honorable Mentions for the 4th quarter contest. I am also not on that list. According to the lovely blog-keeper, there will be another list of Honorables out in the next few days, followed by a list of semi-finalists and finalists. I have spent the morning doggedly attempting not to waste time on over-analyzing information which, at this point, gives me no clues whatsoever as to which list (or neither) "Pale Roses" may land upon. Exercise in futility, Lori. Move on.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, there was a conversation about the teens in the family and how they're on voice chat on the Xbox so much. One of my sisters-in-law made a remark in reply to one of the grownups who had not tried voice chat: "Well, why would an ADULT need to know how to do that?" The judgmental tone of this is why I spend most of my time with my in-laws with a polite smile plastered on my face and saying as little as possible, even though what I really want to do is scream "I would trade ONE of my online friends for the entire bunch of you in a heartbeat!" and flee back to my computer.

Not that my in-laws are horrible people, by any means. But there's something so comforting about talking to people who GET you, to whom you don't need to explain yourself or your interests or make sheepish excuses for liking what you like. There is a common theme among my anti-online/gaming acquaintances that the internet is a dangerous place. Yes, you do need to use a little common sense and caution. But I have also had neighbors whose houses I forbid my children to ever set foot in, because they gave me the creeps. I've met the parents of my children's friends, most of whom are pretty cool people but some of whom I would never invite into my home. My husband was threatened by an employee and had to have a restraining order put on him, and they added our house to the alert list for the local police patrol.

These were not online-related incidents. "Real" people can be dangerous, too. Moreso, I'd go so far to say, since none of the potential online creeps I've run across had access to my real name or my address or my kids. So, y'know... There may be a line between people who are OK and people who are not, but that line is not defined by the internet.

The boys get out of school early today. We will be traveling to Indy to visit the Children's Museum, where we will spend the afternoon with two friends I've know for... a couple of years, now? I talk to one of them almost every day. We share tastes in books, talk about writing, hang out and play video games with each other and often with my boys, as well. He is one of my highly valued first readers, offering that rare but treasured combination of sincere enthusiasm for my stories mingled with intelligent feedback and questions that help me make them better. The two of them got engaged a few months ago, and I spent most of that day grinning because I love how perfect they are together.

Today will be the first time I meet them. If I'd let some generalization rule my life, about how the internet is a line you should never cross, I would never even have known them. I wouldn't know most of my current friends (online or otherwise), as a matter of fact.

That's a line I will never regret crossing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rules, schmules

I enjoy writing fantasy, or what I guess we're calling "speculative fiction" these days. I like playing "what if" without the boundaries of reality constricting me. I like to take the abstract and give it physical form. But oddly enough, it is not usually the magical setting or system that comes to me first when a story starts to form--it's usually the overall theme, and then I try to think of character interactions that could illustrate that theme, and then I try to imagine what kind of world those characters would live in. This is, from what I can glean from other spec-fic writers' discussions about their process, possibly a little backward. I am NOT a big fan of world-building. Drawing maps and making up cultures and religions and the rules of magic systems does not give me chills or tempt me to spend too much time on it. At all. I draft my stories while making up whatever speculative elements seem appropriate (or just cool) at the time.

This means, of course, that inevitably I reach a point where my logical me is piping in with questions an awful lot. "OK, the emotional groove in the scene is working fine. But that thing she just did with the magic there... Does that really make sense? I mean, yeah, it's cool. But how does it work, anyhow? EXACTLY HOW?"

So I just spent the last two days alternately pacing circles around the kitchen (which makes the dog nuts) or checking my email every five minutes or rubbing my forehead as if I could shove some fresh insight in by force. But I think I have all the major kinks worked out of Crowmaker's magic system, now. It should all make a remote, fantastical kind of sense.

Y'know. Even though none of it is remotely possible in reality.

As a side note, I have grown to love OneNote. A lot.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let it snow, let it go, let it snow

Snow flurries today, which look pretty and have even managed to accumulate in scattered puffy mounds in the grass. Nothing's sticking to the roads, of course, and the forecast indicates it'll likely melt away in the rain tomorrow or Wed., if it manages to last even that long. Still, it looks pretty coming down.

The extended holiday visit to the brother-in-law's had pleasant moments scattered amongst mind-numbing boredom and an overall antsy longing to be in my own home doing my own things. I rank it "tolerable and over" and am moving on.

Apparently my bout of semi-depression hadn't passed entirely last weekend--I was still feeling traces of it Saturday and yesterday and today. Some of it comes from my tendency to get angry with myself when I don't suck it up and toe the line as well as I think I should, emotion-wise. I sometimes have to remind myself that it's OK to not be in perfect balance emotionally. There has to be joy, in order to remind ourselves that life is a joyful thing, and to have those joyful moments to look forward to and keep ourselves going. But there also has to be sadness against which we can measure our joy. I'm not sure if it's human nature or borne of our society's obsession with some mythical state of perfect happiness, but I tend to obsess over every little thing I don't handle exactly like I think I should have. I had to repeat my "you're obsessing again" mantra a few times the last few days--"let it go, let it go, just let it go."

On the writing front, I added over 3,000 words to Crowmaker during my three writing days last week. Word count is hanging right around 500 today. I'm wavering between "I suck" (brought on at least in part by Strange Horizon's rejection notice on "Wings," which I got last night) and "This is really pretty good. And I think I might know how to finish it, too." Which is, as far as my experience has shown, pretty much how this writing stuff goes.