Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Which Group?

I am currently double checking my formatting and such of Where to Belong. Planning to have it all wrapped up and prettied up before much longer. Hoping to have it out before the end of July. I was sure I would have it up by the end of this month. Glad I didn't promise anything there, just to myself. It is, at the moment, with an author friend of mine. He is looking it over to for me. He has been writing for much longer than I have. He also read some of my first projects. I haven't heard much from him since he took it off my hands except that he can tell I've been working on my craft. I think that's a good thing. I'm supposed to get one of his newest proofs to look over and grade. I hope I can actually help. If not, it is still exciting to converse with a real writer in the flesh. I've met many via phone, skype, twitter, facebook & what not. I have to say it is much more relatable to share stories face to face. For once I had someone who knew exactly what I was talking about. The usual nay-sayers backed off for a few hours and let us be. That was nice. Colt laughed about my fan girl attitude. I explained that it was like him finding the one Mac guy or Star Trek guy in a room of thousands. It takes a bit not to latch on to their leg and beg them to take you home with them. This friend had offered to help before and sent care packages to see me through my beginner phase. I didn't let him in as often as he offered because I thought he was rubbing his success in my newbie face. I was wrong. He had some amazing and encouraging experiences to share, and some real heart breakers too. I hope I get to talk with him some more before he heads back home (visiting from Michigan).

Meanwhile, I have a bit of a conundrum. I am dragging my feet horribly on my newest writing project. I have it plotted out, but I am not able to concentrate on actually writing the manuscript. I need a push. And from past experience, I know I need a challenge. Along comes ROW80. Round of Words in 80 days. This is so very tempting. Starts July 4th and I set my own goal. Runs for a few months so it isn't too hectic. There seems to be a good support group with it, other writers that are signed up for it. I've been debating on throwing my hat in the ring. I've never worked with this group before so I have the whole "will I fit in" complex going on. Second option is Camp NaNoWriMo. It starts Friday, July 1st. I know this group. I've worked with them before. I will work with them for sure come November. But ... 50k words in 30 days might not be achievable while I'm still finishing up Where to Belong. And I hate signing up for something I can't complete.

ROW80 I set my own rate, sign in twice a week, have to blog about progress, twitter based support group.

Camp NaNoWriMo will be more of a challenge, might be too much of a challenge, but I know the group and had a blast last time I worked with them.

I have a few more days to weigh my options. There are other things going on that I need to be a part of around here so I'm leaning towards ROW. I'll keep you posted.

In other news ... The Boo party went very well. The bbq was absolutely perfect. The cake was fun. The Wall of Dillon was a pain to make but a great conversation piece (now to pull all the pictures off). He LOVES the snow board. The bag it came with had backpack straps and he lugged it around for awhile grinning at everyone. I missed him stuffing it into the Mini Cooper, so sorry I don't have any pictures of that. Only three people cried: Mom when a friend asked her how she was handling her baby moving away, Grandma when Dillon hugged her before she went home, and Kile when Aunt Jo got onto him for playing in the bubble lamp. But that's ok, Aunt Jo has made us all cry at some point as children. It's a rite of passage.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tag! You're It.

I am so very late on following up on this, my apologies to Brenda for the delay. This is new to me. I'll give it my best shot. According to the rules, I have to answer a few questions and pass them on. Before tackling the answers, I tag ...

Stephanie
Stella
Donna

1) Do you think you're hot?
There have been moments, but in general, not so much.

2) Upload a picture or your current wallpaper.
(current wallpaper that goes with a new story line that has been growing in my head)


3) When was the last time you ate chicken?
Just a few minutes ago. One of those too convenient frozen dinners in a bag. Meals at the desk are usually like that.

4) What were you thinking about as you wrote this post?
I have to get some studying done here in a few minutes and I'm wondering if I have all my materials together. Odds are I will have to track a few down.

5) What songs have you listened to lately?
Train's Whipping Boy just went off. Goo Goo Dolls' Iris is just starting. Everything Thriving Ivory makes is my current favorite.

6) Do you have a nickname?
Several friends and family call me "TJ". (Tracey Junior, I am supposedly my mother's clone)

So there you have it. Hope I haven't goofed on the process. It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be! Who's next?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Page Contest

Where to Belong
Women's Fiction
72300 words

The uncomfortably small helicopter rattled as if it were wrestling with itself as it slowly gained altitude in the cloudless night sky. Madison glanced out the rounded window behind her to confirm they were actually rising instead of falling. She quickly turned back to the narrow gurney and her wounded friend upon it. He looked rough.

"Hang in there, Skyler," she shouted over the deafening ruckus of the chopper. His blue eyes opened for a moment as he grasped at the hand she had pressed to his bandaged chest.

Madison studied him as she thought over their failed assignment. She couldn't understand what had happened. It went horribly wrong. Someone must have set them up. Her team followed the rules and conducted themselves flawlessly. They walked right into a trap. It had to have been. Now, Skyler was badly hurt and Morgan made the choice to stay and complete their assignment on his own.

With her free hand, she tugged at the ring hanging from the delicate gold chain around her neck. She wasn't supposed to wear the engagement ring during assignments. It might give away her identity, or Morgan. Tucking it back into her shirt, she looked again to the window and wished her love to stay safe and hurry back to her.

The abandoned factory building shone brightly in the light of the full moon on the outskirts of Miami. There were no lights within the three story structure beside the pier, but Madison knew it was active despite the darkness.

Heads Up

I've signed up for Shelley Watters' First Page Contest with Victoria Marini. So on Saturday the 25th I will be posting the first page of Where to Belong. There are 100+ entries for this contest. Each entry will be posting their first page on their blog for everyone to review and help critique it. Then Victoria Marini, an agent with Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, will look at them on the 27th. Sounds like fun to me. Also kind of nerve-racking. All in all, a good deal!

Contest Page

Shelley's blog: http://shelleywatters.blogspot.com/

Casey McCormick's Agent Spotlight on Victoria

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whirlwind Week

This week started off with a bang and hasn't slowed down yet. No, I'm not ready for the party I'm supposed to be hosting this weekend. It's been kind of hairy around here. My mom was in the hospital Tuesday. I got a text from her just after 8am, "Guess where I am." My only answer, as it was the typical day after another sleepless night, "Please tell me it's somewhere amusing." She proceeds to tell me not to panic or worry, everything is ok, they are only keeping her for observations. As in? She had been having chest pains for several days and they intensified at 3am Tuesday morning. So my dad took her to the ER where they stayed until 8, then was admitted for tests and all that fun stuff. She forbid me from visiting, thus I texted my hubby (whom works @ the hospital). He "dropped by" and stayed with her in between tickets and pages from his station. She was released later that same day and only took one day off from work. We've all taken turns lecturing her about relaxing, but she's your typical mom, relaxing is rare. Her doctors believe her pains were from anxiety, which I completely understand and would not doubt, but have her scheduled for more tests.

Amid all that fun, Dillon announced that he is still moving in less than two weeks no matter who pulls the next stunt. He said she reminded him of the Mom off Two and One Half Men. He was just as worried as the rest of us. He only shows it differently. His first words when she came home was, "Did you not have time to pack me lunch before you left? Not even a sandwich?" Now you should know he always trades his sandwich for someone else's lunch at work or goes to sonic for a chili dog.

His Jeep, aka the Big Red Jeep, was picked up yesterday to be delivered to his new home in California. That was kind of a wake up call for us all. It was like his moving was blatantly official at that point. If the Jeep has left, he won't be far behind. He didn't even stick around after it was loaded up. Left Mom and Gwen there to watch it leave in tears, and me on the phone crying along with them.

I printed roughly 100 pictures this week in preparation for the party. Still don't know exactly what I'm going to do with them, but I have lots of ideas. Wall of Dillon? Dillon streamers? Book of Dillon? Box of Dillon? Yeah, weird. I know. I don't do decorations at parties, or themes. I do "what in the world is that?"

All he knows is that Saturday is BBQ with friends and a rack of ribs is promised. I told him he owes me for a few events, thus I have his cooperation. He should be coming and bringing a friend (whom knows about the whole thing). I have a few back-up people to make sure he arrives. If he some how avoids it, we'll have that much more cake and ribs to go around. Now about that snow board.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a decent snow board in Texas this time of year? Surprisingly, not that difficult. We finally obtained one last night. It's so pretty! This is sad because I have never seen one before in my life. Pictures, yes. Actual board, no. All I can say is that I instantly imagined it being a hover board instead of something to play in the snow with.

My manuscript came home earlier this week. My editor had finished with it the week prior but hadn't gotten around to sending it back. So I volunteered to pick it up. I got car sick on the way there and ended up waiting in the Jeep as Colt went in to get it. Grady (editor) came back out with him and held the fat binder hostage. He proceeded to drop it in my lap when I rolled down the window. I think it had gained weight since I last saw it. I don't remember it being so heavy. Anyway, he leaned in the window and told me that the changes I had made were just what the story needed, it reads much easier, and that he is this proud (spreading his arms out wide, & he is a BIG dude) of my progress. He started a silly jig, and I joined him. Grady's wife and Colt stood back and laughed at us. I joked that they were judging us and our imaginary world, Grady just laughed and kept dancing. He did eventually get serious and made a few recommendations to make the story thrive that much more. I've finished the grammatical corrections needed. Now to weave in the spice he suggested. It has his stamp of approval and his best wishes as it is wrapped up and offered to the world.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Asked For This

I knew June was going to be a busy month. I also hoped it wouldn't be too busy. This is my own doing. The whole 'do I have a job or do I not' completely distracted me and I've lost track of the days. There is supposed to be a party hosted here next weekend and I've done absolutely nothing in preparation for that. A part of me wants to bail on it. The long lost challenger in me plans to tackle this head on and have the best going-away-party for my baby brother that would blow everyone's minds simultaneously. I should get busy planning and plotting, but nope, not yet. It will happen. Eventually. And I'm thinking that if I go wash the Jeep and take the top off it, we just might get some rain and bring this heat down to a bearable level. If the house is going to be packed with friends and family, we're going to have to pipe in some better AC than what the unit is currently putting out. Maybe we can all just eat ice cream cake and call it a day.

Nah, there's plenty to do and I have it all planned out. Gotta bust out the photo printer and make copies of super adorable pics of the deporting punk that will make him remember how much his family loves him (insert evil laugh). The food is planned as well, but I've yet to order the cake. Chairs are another problem. That too shall be solved. Games is a tug-of-war topic and I'm losing in that department. I was wanting horseshoes and volleyball, but if this weather keeps up its rant everyone will avoid the outdoors. The only inside game I have is Jenga.

As for the job thing, I still have one. Doc interviewed four people this week as potential replacements for me. He has decided to run the ad again. Don't know if I should laugh about that or not, but I did. Kind of feel sorry for him. One rolled her perfume before she came in and it is a small office, that's all I'll say there. Another giggled uncontrollably through the interview. One never smiled. I didn't stick around for the fourth. I went in Friday to meet the fifth and was stood up. That is weird because she sent her resume twice and had her Doc call and recommend her for the position. Oh well.

The book I order last month still hasn't come in. I sent the seller an e-mail through Amazon to let her know. No reply. I sent another Friday morning that was a little less kind and still got nothing. So Friday night I started the process of filing about the issue and was finally told that she has tried to contact me. They hid her email address and which email she sent the information to. After much email digging, we found it in one of Hubby's old accounts. The one that was set up with our PS/Sony account that was hacked. So no, we didn't actually get the email. So Colt sent an email to her through another account to let her know what was up and to apologize for my being such a jerk in the second letter. I felt really bad about that when I learned that she was at least trying. I am ashamed. I don't want the book anymore and have since moved on to another, but I think I should go ahead with the transaction. So we'll see how this plays out. Shame on me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Recovery

I expected this past Monday to be a little awkward at the office. It was just fine. No mention of any problems with me going to part time. All week went well, actually. But as I was heading out the door Thursday, Doc blindsided me. Me and my co-worker we actually singing as we were hopping towards the back exit when he called me into his office. His tone was the one he uses when he is irritated. He started off by asking what my plans were for Friday (it was my Friday off). I shrugged with the answer of catching up on things around the house. He proceeded to blurt out that he was calling in someone to interview for full time and that he was not going to have one and a half assistants. I didn't have an answer if it was meant to be a question, so I just stood there. Then he asked if I was going to stick with my request for part time, which I confirmed. He waved me away and said that he was just making sure. I was standing at the back door when I finally figured out his cryptic message and peeked around the corner at him and asked if I was out of work. His only answer was that we would see come Monday. What was I supposed to do with that?

First thing I did was text my coworker with only the one 1/2 assistant message. Next I phoned Colt and relayed the conversation. He laughed and said I've now had my turn at employment fail. We had, thank goodness, considered the scenario of me being booted with my asking for less hours. We'll be fine, but I hoped for the realization to be less brutal. Understanding one's expendability sucks. My coworker was texting up a storm by the time I got home. It was mostly comic, but with the undertone of "what the heck?"

Needless to say, I spent Thursday night and on into Friday wallowing in self-pity. I was already on the edge of this from learning how much weight I've put on this year and how difficult it is to lose it. I've been lucky up till recently about what I eat and how little it impacted my figure. So the prospect of being a chunky, out-of-work bum left me in a bit of a blue funk.

My coworker sent a message later Friday that she defused Doc a bit and that the ad he put out was for a part time assistant. She said he was still uncertain about it, but that my job might be saved for the time being. Colt brought lunch home to me and did well in reminding me of what all I was wanting to do with more time to myself. I think it was the sheer disappointment of being dumped. I know we'll be fine. We were fine when he was out of work for so long a few years back. My check in nothing compared to his. It was more along the lines of me blurring the lines between business and friendship. When you work along side people for this long and see them everyday and get to know their families, it's easy to get caught up. It isn't the first time to happen, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I get attached. But now I'm in the irritated phase and I want to call him and see if he wants me to come in Monday or if I can sleep in. I don't really want to get up and ready and go in just to be sent back home.

I was hoping that my book would be closer to being released before my income was cut off. It is still with my editor and might be there awhile longer. He's been busy. Now I can only hope that it is all that it needs to be to support me while I write the sequel and other projects. No pressure.

In attempt to distract myself, I've been staying busy around the house. Still, I've accomplished little. Weird how that works. We went out for lunch and met Dillon at Wingstop. He put in his notice on Friday for two weeks since he is moving away. So he teased that they were begging him to stay and here I was getting shoved out. Such a booger. I did get to take a turn laughing at him. Apparently he had a spook last night while working on his Jeep. Colt explained that he was looking for something when he saw Dillon jump straight up into the air and bolt away. Dillon doesn't move fast so it had to have been a sight. It was dark, he had unknowingly stepped on a snake, couldn't figure out what was wiggling underfoot, and looked down in time to see it latch onto the side of his shoe. Thankfully it didn't actually get him, that would have ruined his night, but they both were quickly packing up and heading home after that. And he didn't squeal like a little girl. He's proud of that.

Earlier this morning I got a text from my mom, whom is on her way to NY, about something she did on her flight. She has always gotten onto Dillon and me when we snap pictures of interesting people we see and text them to one another. She tells us it is rude, which it is, and that we need to stop and be more respectful. Well, she said she sat next to a 'hooker' (her exact description) on the plane and had to get a picture of her. I can only imagine how this turned out. I know she doesn't have a camera on her phone because it is an OLD cell phone. (The kind that has three menu buttons and a key pad, that's all. The kind you could get for 99cents at Radio Shack about five years ago. The screen is doing good to show texts.) The only camera she could have had was either a disposable or the quirky one Dillon bought and abused for the past two years (raggedy and takes random pics when it rarely works.) I asked how it went, her ending reply was :-). She called me this afternoon just long enough to tell me that she can't wait to show me all the pictures she is taking and that she forgot her umbrella, then hung up while explaining that someone was coming to talk to her. She's up there with family so I know she is having a blast. They know how to have fun, and if it isn't already there, they create fun.

Now, I'm having dinner at my desk. I was already cooking when hubby came in to tell me he was heading out with the guys. Bow tie pasta with garlic sauce all to myself. I even had cinnamon rolls in the oven. Was going to eat and watch a movie with the kitties, but they are both snoring at the moment. So I'm rocking out to Thriving Ivory and Parachute while blogging. It happens.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(N)ever After

After I promised myself I wouldn't make anymore changes to Where to Belong until my editor finished with it, I couldn't help myself. One scene was driving me batty. No matter how I worded it or arranged it, it was too talky. I kept slimming it down until I simply gave up and decided it was as good as it was going to get. It wasn't even that big of a scene. Too many pages of my poor little notebook were used up by me scribbling something down and then scratching it out. That was until about 11:30 last night. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've not been sleeping well. I tried to go to bed early last night in hopes to get more than 4 hours of good rest. Around 11, as I stared blankly at the merciless clock, I started thinking on that blame scene again. Then it hit me. I had it. So I got up and woke the mac and hacked at the problem scene for a short time. I think I might have figured it out. Less talking, more doing, easier flow. Then I sat there and shook my head at the pathetically simple correction. I tried to summon a few of my readers and got nothing. That's what I get for recruiting responsible adults to sample my writings. They were all in bed and did a very good job of ignoring me. What I learned from this experience: Edits, revisions, and rewrites never truly end. Never. I'm sure I'll still find something I want to tweak after I have a bound book in my hands.

It's hot out. Not even officially Summer yet and it's 100 degrees out there. So glad I work indoors. Sorry for all those who don't. Yuck. Dillon works in a non-ac building. So does dad. Gwen delivers mail so she is in the heat all day. That's rough. Thus I probably shouldn't complain that there is an extremely annoying rattle in the AC of my Jeep. It started out as a vague ticking and has now become an obnoxious knocking. It is something that has come loose in the floor vent on the passenger side. Used to, I could cut off the air and let it wind down, then it won't come back until I hit a jarring bump. It's just plain there anymore. Considered taking a Louisville to it. But I can't get a good angle on it. (kidding) So the Jeep is on its way to get checked out. I can't turn the radio up enough to drown it out, that's why I am really hoping they can fix it tonight.

I haven't watched any new movies lately. I've been re-watching Kyle XY on Netflix. I forgot I had already bought the 1st season on iTunes. I didn't realize they had a second season. Even a third. I'm a little behind. It's hard to stick to watching only a few episodes and taking a break from it. I can easily watch it all day. That might have been what happened Saturday.

I ordered a new book two weeks ago and it hasn't come in yet. Who takes two weeks to deliver something these days? I don't even want the book anymore. Six others are sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. But I keep re-reading Phoenix Rising and Inside Out. I have a sample of Divergent on the Kindle that I haven't started yet. I know I'll want to pick up the whole book and then I feel bad for the other books just sitting there waiting for me. Too many good books and not enough time.

A certain article about YA books has made a lot of waves lately. It goes along with the whole 'banning books' and bad reviews to me. I have a problem with people trying to pass their opinion off as fact. If you don't like a book (or movie or song or music or whatever) stop reading it! Don't hate on it. Put it down and move on to something else. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean no one else should. Yes, some books (or whatever) have contents that are questionable, but who am I to say anyone else shouldn't read it? That's why there is variety. I don't watch scary movies or read certain books because I know I have a wild and overactive imagination and such movies and books will bother me. But I don't try to keep others from watching or reading them. I also know a book or a movie is purely fictional. Made up. Fantasy. I don't expect any portion of the chosen entertainment to actually happen to me or take place in the real world.

And I know the ones who created these stories are not the characters they've written. The protagonist in Where to Belong has a history of opening anything that is locked, be it a safe or car or building; I lock myself out of my Jeep on a regular basis. I have another character who has an amazing collection of motorcycles in his garage; I'm scared to death of riding a bike. Still another character is in a rock band ... I'm sure you get the picture. As a writer, I can see a part of me in each of the characters I've written. But they are not me. They are not real. They exist purely in my head and I've written them out in hopes of someone finding some sort of entertainment or escape with them. But that is also why I am protective of them and know I will breakdown and sob like a baby if anyone gives them a negative review. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I only ask that you remember that those you are criticizing or reviewing have invested in these stories. Be considerate, be gentle.

Getting off soapbox ...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mission Accomplished. Sort of.

I finally did it. The long weekend was spent talking myself into going into the office Tuesday and asking for part time hours. I was afraid my employer would be an all or nothing type of guy considering work schedules. Then something came up at home that completely messed up all plans I have ever made. It took me a few days to learn to breathe again. Hubby and I did lots of "what if" comparisons and decided it was still in our best interest for me to cut back my hours. Doc took it well. I think. Maybe. He got a little flustered at first, then heard me out. I assured him I wasn't looking for work elsewhere or leaving our small private practice family, just simply wanted more time to see to my home life and what not. We went over a few resumes that had recently come to the office and I think we ended the morning on a good note. Monday will be full of questions, I'm sure. So it went much better than I thought it would, which makes me feel so much better.

I've been busy planning a going-away party for Dillon. Little bum is moving to Lake Tahoe. Boo. So the party is code named "Boo Party". He doesn't want a party, but that's just tough. He didn't ask my opinion about moving, now, did he? Again, bum. He is now in my kitchen trying to make a sandwich, so I'm going to stop here. I can only imagine the mess I'm about to find...