Monthly Archives: March 2007

Smacked in the Head

Getting smacked in the head sounds painful, but it’s not always bad.

This morning, while I was “snoozing,” waiting for the phone to go off again (I hate lunging across the king-sized bed for the alarm on the other side, so I set my phone), I was smacked in the head by The Perfect First Sentence for a new story. And I had to get up and write it down. I wrote for 30 minutes, and got 2 pages. I just love it when that happens. :)

I’ll have to make some notes and figure out further plot and stuff, but the idea’s been churning around in my subconscious for the past 3 months while I’ve been working on finishing New Blood, so it’s not hitting me cold…the hero of the new book is a secondary character in New Blood. So I’ve got him characterized, pretty much. (I originally cast Ralph Fiennes as this character, but he sorta morphed into Johnny Depp–more as he was in The Libertine than as Jack Sparrow…) I’m using the subplot I excised from NB as the main plot of the new hero’s book. I just have to learn exactly who the heroine is, and what sort of magic she’s best suited for. OH, and I came up with what I think is the perfect title. The new hero is a conjurer who works spirit magic, like the heroine in New Blood is a sorceress who works blood magic, so the new title is OLD SPIRITS. Yeah, I guess I’m excited a little bit…

I spent the day selling sausage wraps and breakfast burritos to the 2400 competitors (from 6th through 12th grade) in the judging contest the local community college sponsors. The Friends of the Library went to serve breakfast–and lunch. I ate one of each for my lunch. Yum. I had to get all my marshmallow treats for the sale made yesterday, so I could go with the fella to the estate auction in Amarillo.

The really good stuff was going up under the hammer today, so I didn’t get the cool shamrock teapot or any of the neat things–last night they were just selling the box lots. My job is to say “Oooh, that looks cool, let’s bid on that” and then sit in the chair and read my book and not look like I’m bidding. Last night, I read Her Perfect Life by Vicki Hinze–a FANTABULOUS book, and one of the Rita finalists. I’d already picked it up, and was meaning to read it when the Rita nominations came out, so that just made me read it sooner. Loved it.

We bought a box of copper stuff, and a box of boxes (mostly jewelry boxes, but there was a Silver Jubilee biscuit tin from 1935 and a really weird rawhide earring tree thing, and a cool inlaid mosaic-type box that was the one I really wanted for me), and three boxes of books that had Tarot decks in them. I read Tarot, so I wanted the boxes with the decks. And the one with Hopi legends–there was a lot of New Age-y stuff that will be good for research, and some Santa Fe art catalogs. Oh, and we got a couple of rolling file cabinet things for $10 each. Not bad. No idea where we’ll put the file box things, but… I have stuff to fill them up. And then I got to eat dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. It’s really noisy, but we like the food.

Varieties of Working

When I come into my office to write, I say I’m Working. In fact, in my “labels” for this post, when I put “work” up, that means the writing. Because I am a full time writer.

And it is tiring to sit and write. I do my first drafts in longhand, remember, so there’s a little handcramp to deal with, and there’s always the dreaded fanny fatigue. Sometimes, if my thumbnail gets a bit long, it digs into my forefinger as I’m holding the pen. And that doesn’t even count the mental exhaustion. Or the tendency to slump into slumber…but that usually doesn’t hit unless I try to write in the afternoon.

I’ve been writing a love scene this week. Or trying to. For some reason, love scenes seem to take me forever to write. It’s not that I don’t like writing them, or reading them either, but they’re just hard to write. I mean, it’s the same basic act every time, only the characters differ from book to book…and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, they’re the same characters…but they’re in a different place in their lives. And that’s the only thing that’s really, essentially different. But you have to make each love scene different, anyway. Because they’re different people at different points in life, and … and I have really had trouble getting into this particular love scene.

Every time I think I’m getting it finally underway, the heroine comes up with some NEW problem, some Other difficulty that is messing up her head, and frankly, she’s as frustrated as I am. I think I have finally solved ALL her problems, and we’re going to get some nookie going…but I have diabolical plans, and I know what will happen when things finally cut loose a little, and they’re going to have to get into yet another conversation before they can get back to business. Monkey business, that is. And then they can do magic.

But that wasn’t really what I was going to write about when I started this. See, I went out and pulled weeds again yesterday. And I was so tired and so sore, I fell asleep after supper and almost didn’t wake up in time for choir practice–and the concert is this Sunday. (I’m wearing my new pink-and-black jacket.) And there are still way too many stickery thistle-dandelion things. (They’re not really dandelions, because they’re stickery, but they have yellow flowers, and make puffball seedheads, so…) I don’t think any have bloomed yet. Maybe I can stay ahead of them. I’m not pulling weeds today. I’m getting a blister on my right palm from the trowel, and it’s cold and rainy outside. Today, I’m going to be lazy. So there. :)

Sprung Spring

Spring has exploded in the rolling plains. Winter hung on and on and on–and then all of a sudden, kablooey! It’s spring.

The daffodils came and went so quickly, I missed them, and I’ve already got iris blooming. I mention this, because I finally went out and worked in the front flower bed this afternoon, pulling up those giant thistle things and volunteer elm trees that I missed last year. And I only got one corner of the bed, the one under my office window that has horrible heavy clay dirt that turns rock hard when it dries out, and is overrun with Bermuda grass. (Which I HATE. Hate, Hate, HATE.) And now my shoulders are killing me even more than they were before I went out to pull weeds. And I have the whole rest of the flower bed to pull the thistles and elm trees out of. (sigh)

But the sage is coming back really strong and the iris are putting up lots of buds, and the roses are leafing out nicely (need to replace a rose that died with one of the ones we put in pots–I think the other potted one may die before spring gets too much more advanced…) and the lilies are coming up. Lots of work to do, so I can’t slack off. I’ll be getting different exercise in this week.

I only got 4 pages written today, even though I spent my 3 hours at the work. I ran smack bang into a love scene. I wasn’t ready for it, so I finally quit and went off to think about it. I know what needs to happen, but I need to figure out how to get into it. My characters are always too dad-gum talky. (sigh again) Tomorrow the love scene. I shall prevail!


I have signed into Blogger at least three times this week, intending to blog, and never got anything written. I did manage to blog this week, but this was three other times I came here to blog again, and never did.

I even had some things to write about. Like, how when I walked down to the bank this week, the librarian saw me heading back (the library is half a block down the street from the bank), and came out and hollered at me to come sign something. I had to sign something to send in to the State Library people. Or maybe the federal Library people. I don’t know. I did read it, but I don’t remember who it was for. I’d forgotten that she called me last week or so and asked whether I was the president of the Library Advisory Board.

I knew I was on the board, but had no clue whether I was the president or not. I’ve been on it for over a year, and we’ve met once. And when Jerri Ann said she thought I was the new president, I said, fine, I’ll be the president. Only now she tells me we need to meet and come up with a policy for the kids’ computer use at the library once school is let out. Sigh. And one of our board members lives way out of town past a couple of slidy hills and some low-water crossings and can’t get to town if it’s raining, so of course it’s been storming all week…

This is like when I agreed to be the vice president for the Friends of the Library, because I wouldn’t have to do very much. Then we discovered that we had to completely split the Friends from the Advisory Board, and the president of FoL went over to be an Advisor, and I got to be the President of FoL–and that was when the treasurer discovered that we really needed to fill out the official IRS paperwork to become an official non-profit organization (even though we barely fundraise $500 per year), AND we needed to re-do our bylaws to make them fit with the IRS papers. Sigh. This always happens to me.

I did remember to go to community choir practice this week. It was sounding pretty good when the second soprano showed up so us altos weren’t drowning out the only soprano who was there for most of rehearsal. Oh well. Performance is Palm Sunday. AKA this coming Sunday. Hopefully, whatever’s making the gunk in my throat will die and I can sing all those Fs without getting rattly. For some reason, an F (the low one–I haven’t been able to hit a high F in 25 years)(I can only hit a high E when the sun is shining, all allergens are dead and the birds are singing sweetly in the trees. E-flat is generally possible.) shakes loose all the gunk in my throat, when there is gunk, and makes me cough. It’s not where the voice breaks–that’s somewhere around an A or B–it’s just the gunk vibration note. (And I’m sure y’all really wanted to know all that…)

The daughter made an A in her probability class for her statistics PhD. The younger son made a 99 on his engineering test. (This after majoring in theater performance and theater design for 3 semesters before switching to engineering.) We haven’t heard from the older son in a while. Hmm. So, life is mostly good.

Oh, and today, we went to town and bought half-price ready made frames for a couple of paintings, and put them up in the son’s room. They look pretty good, if I say so myself. It all started when we moved out the old broken-down dresser and moved in this antique chest/armoire/desk thing (it has drawers, a door where you can hang up things, and a pull-down writing area). Then I brought in one single painting (see above) to see how it looked over the armoire/desk–and the fella said to bring out all the paintings-ready-to-hang, and we found two more that looked good. We put the “Breakfast in Tuscany” painting over the chest/desk and the one above across the room, and a big “boys at the beach” painting above the bed, but to one side, not over the headboard. Yeah, we started something.


Yes, I am one of those people who, if you look up procrastination in the dictionary, will be pictured there. I am the queen–nay, the Empress of Procrastination! At least when it comes to blogging on my own blog.

Okay, I have excuses. Like, I left town. And then when I came back the computer was still in the shop. For the rest of the whole week. But I could have blogged. I could have used to backup computer, even if it doesn’t have any bookmarks to find places, and I’m not sure I even have the e-mail set up. I could have done it. But I procrastinated. I read. I read and read and read.

I also wrote. I learned a long time ago that if I want to get all the way to the end of a book, I need to Write First. So I came into my office and wrote every morning last week. Some days I only got 2 pages done, but I got them done. I need to remember the No excuses mantra. I want to finish the book this month. I’m getting close to the end. And unexpected things are still happening, so it’s all good. But I need to get more than 6 pages in 3 hours.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been, and that’s where I’m at. Oh, I’m all excited. C.E. Murphy (of Urban Shaman fame) got an advanced reader copy of Eternal Rose and she wrote me this wonderfully incoherent e-mail all about how much she loved it. If you’ve ever met Catie, you will understand how wonderfully incoherent she can get about all sorts of things. So it was nice that my book was one of them. I’m all happy.

Off to sleep now. After writing time in the a.m., will go let the dermatologist look at my skin cancers tomorrow (WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!) and see how they’re doing with the cream treatment. Then I will go paint. I drew off a picture of one of the grandboys I love, so I’m going to give it a whirl. If I can successfully paint three portraits that don’t suck, I may donate one to Brenda Novak’s diabetes auction fundraiser next year. This is number two. Wish me luck.

Books, Books, Books

I came home Sunday evening from the 80th birthday party weekend for the fella’s dad and looked at the letter included in the second panel of Rita contest books I agreed to read…and discovered that I had until Wednesday (IOW, today) to read them all. Seven of them. By today.

Fortunately, none of them were massive tomes, so I was able to get through them fairly quickly. But I have been reading madly since Sunday evening. I read two Sunday night, two on Monday, one yesterday, and the last two today. And yes, I read them with full comprehension and can tell you what each of them was about. But I’m not going to because they are contest entries, and it’s a secret.

I think I’m kind of taking this week off from the writing, which is risky, because I really want to finish the book by the end of the month. So I’m typing it in instead, and doing my first edit/revision. I’d like to get 50-60 pages in by Friday. I’m heading to Waco fairly early on Friday, for the workshop I’m doing (finished it today) and the booksigning at Books-a-Million.

Oh yeah, I’m doing a book signing at Books-a-Million in Waco on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. Hope it goes well. I’ve done absolutely no PR for it, but one of the other ladies participating has done quite a bit. So…

I’m ready to be home for a while. We’ve been gone the last two weekends, and the fella’s been gone for at least a couple of nights during the week for the past month.

I got an envelope from the agent with suggestings & critique about the last couple of things I’ve sent her, and now I’m going through the thinking part of my response. It takes me a while to think about what people suggest/say about my writing, whether it’s a critique partner, an agent, an editor, or whoever. Most of the time, what they ask about is something I’m aware of, and thought I had in there, but it’s obviously not clear, or not clear enough. So now I have to figure out how to make it clear.

And I have discovered that I really don’t like a lot of description in the books I read (and thus in the books I write). Sometimes I want to know about the clothes, but not every single stinkin’ time, and not in any great massive detail. Nor do I want to know about the furniture or the architecture, in great detail, which is why it’s hard for me to put in enough to suit other people. That happy medium is hard to find.

Anyway, I’m here. I’m heading off again. (The workshop is on The Plotter/Pantser Hybrid, or, Whatever Works for You is Right.) And I’ll be back again on Sunday, hopefully without a big stack of books I have to read in a hurry. (Though I still have one to read for a different contest, but I have till April on that one…which is good, because it is a massive tome…)

Long-Term Spending Habits

I got in a conversation the other day with … the fella, I think it was. We were talking about music and “oldies” and what music we had and liked back in the day–when we were in junior high and high school.

These days, the “must have” tech is an iPod or similar MP3 player. Back then, it was a portable record player, or for the really rich kids, a stereo. (This is pre-boombox days, folks. I’m old) And instead of a playlist, my friends had stacks of .45 rpm records. Singles.

I owned one. That’s right. One lone .45 rpm single. (Dedicated to the One I Love by The Mamas and the Papas) And our … you can’t call it a stereo. It was an old cabinet-style radio with a turntable in the top. It was the equivalent of having one song on an old … Walkman. Maybe. It’s not so much that I was impoverished, though with multiple siblings and a dad with a college prof’s salary, I didn’t have a whole lot of disposable income. It’s just that I chose to spend my money on different things.

This was the moment of epiphany. Because when I considered what I spent my disposable income on back in my high school days, I realized that it is exactly the same as what I spend my disposable income on Today. I buy books, and I buy earrings.

I have two massive piles of books in my office, and a rapidly growing pile on the table behind the recliner in the den of books I’ve read since the new year that I don’t want to mix with the books I read Last Year. I don’t just buy books. I buy BOOKS. Lots, and lots and lots of books. I buy books almost every week, three or four or five at a time. (I think I bought 5 at Target this week…) (Some weeks I’ll get a couple at Target and 3 or 4 more at Barnes & Noble.) (Hmm. I bought those books at Target on Tuesday, and today I ordered 4 more at B&N online…) (And I just got a second panel of books to read for RWA’s RITA contest.) (Hello, my name is Gail and I’m a bookaholic.)

And I buy earrings. I have an extensive earring wardrobe. I’ve become a bit more discerning in my earring purchases in the last…mumbledy-something years. (I’m a grandmother. You do the math.) But I own a pair of balsa-wood parrot-in-turquoise-straw-hat earrings, and I would snap up a pair of lady-bug earrings like I had when I was in high school in a New York minute. (I also have garnets, lots of Navajo silver, silver from Norway, turquoise slabs, green amber…lots of stuff.) I’m a sucker for cool earrings.

There are other things I tend to spend my money on. Office supplies–I can get all oogly over pens and notebooks. Yarns and fabric for crafting and quilting. Paint supplies. Flowering plants–indoors or out. Books about crafting and quilting and painting and gardening…though that’s back to the books, isn’t it? Thing is–all those things go back years and years and years too. I bought my first African violet when I started college. I learned to sew in high school. I took oil painting lessons in high school. And of course, I was writing things in notebooks. (Fan fiction for the original Star Trek, and for High Chaparral, which you trivia buffs may know something about.)

I haven’t outgrown my addictions. I’ve just become better funded.

Oh, and I’m still writing. We’ll be in Paris for the rest of the book.