Saturday, January 24, 2015

Blow out the candles

It's my birthday today.

I am 42.

That is the same age that Douglas Adams died. It is the answer to everything--life, the universe, whatever. I wonder if every writer ponders that when they hit 42 or if it is just me.

I feel old and fat and ugly and tired and worn out.

Trying to get that out of the way so I can get on with the rest of my day and put a happy face on. I don't feel happy. I'm not sure what's up with me today -- maybe it's just birthday crap. They don't usually bother me. Maybe my hormones are out of control. I don't know. I kind of hate my body, because it does that kind of stuff to me, even with the insert that's supposed to help control the levels. Some days I am still just out of balance. This is one of those days.

I don't really want to be around anyone today, but it's Saturday so it is a family day. So, really, I need to snap on out of this.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Obsessive compulsiveness

I know me. Once I start something--a book, a series of shows, a game, etc. -- I want to finish it. I want to know. I want to know what happens at the end. I want to see how it gets there. I want to examine it's entrails and know it all from the inside out. To worry at the fleshy bits and pick apart the bones.

This may be why I'm a writer. I obsess. I obsess about characters. In the book I'm working on now, I know exactly how old everyone is. I have a spreadsheet. I have generations in there, generations of characters that will probably only get a one line (if any) mention in the book at all. Because once I start down a path, I need to follow it.

That said, I'm a bit of a compulsive, random researcher. And I can leave some avenues unexplored if my mind says, hey, no, this isn't important at all. But the things that I might find unimportant aren't necessarily the things someone else would.

I used to despair a bit about how what I see in the world doesn't always seem to match up with what other people see. How the conclusions I draw aren't the ones that other people come to. Bits of that poem by E.A. Poe used to run through my head. From childhood's hour I have not been as others were, I have not seen as others saw...

I'm not very fussed about that anymore. The older I get, the less I care. I know me. I'm not good at people, not on the inside. I add that qualifier because I dare you to find anyone that knows me that would think that. I'm pretty good at faking it...for awhile, at least. This may be why I'm not one of those people who is all BFF with someone. Instead, I collect people. I like to meet people. I like to find out about them.

None of which is any of what I was planning on talking about today. But, like the paragraphs I used to bang out on my typewriter George when I was a teenager, I am nothing if not completely random.

I've watched two more anime series (again, with the MUST. FINISH. ALL. THE. EPISODES. NOW. thing which is, frankly, havoc on productivity). Tried out My Little Monster which had some moments that I really enjoyed but, as a whole gestalt-y type of thing, fell short. That might just be the anime though...the manga goes on for longer and covers more, so maybe it fixes all of the shortcomings. It is, after all, akin to book vs. movie.

The problem was that the characters didn't change much from the first episode to the last. They were essentially in the same place they started. There were ups and downs along the way, but knowing what the end run was and seeing where they were, it's impossible to see how they would get there. But, enjoyable nonetheless with some really good moments. Haru, the boy, was particularly insane and Shizuku impressively deadpan.

Then there's my favourite so far (very surprisingly): Wolf Girl and The Black Prince. I am, honestly, amazed at how much I liked this one because the basic premise is so incredibly overdone and over-used: fake boyfriend to real boyfriend. Not to mention that Kyoya (the guy) was so completely horribly horrendously despicable in the first few episodes. Maybe that was why I kept watching. How, I wondered, can they possibly redeem him after this kind of a start?

But they managed to pull it off. Or, rather, the writer did, whoever he or she is. And the later episodes in particular, when he's turned that corner, had just some incredible moments and spectacularly perfect little lines.

Like when he's been trying all day long to tell her he loves her (because it is her birthday and he overheard her say that's what she wants even though she doesn't actually expect it because everyone knows he doesn't do stuff like that) and he's trying and trying to get it out but can't quite do it -- there's a moment when she's been yammering away about nothing and then stops to ask him what's wrong. Just shut up and keep talking, he says. And that's perfect. Because it's exactly right.

One other excellent line from when another guy is trying to convince him to "be a player" and showing off his cell phone full of 500 phone numbers of different girls. Kyoya shuts him down with It doesn't matter how much trash you pick up. You've just got a pile of trash. Which, okay, isn't that flattering to all of those girls, but the point was quality over quantity. Anyway, still surprised at how much I liked this one and how many great moments it had. I might even have to find the manga for it since I know there are more scenes in it than in the show.

Anyway, tomorrow maybe an update on the current book. It's progressing. I'm happier than I've been about it in a long time. And that's good. Working on creating some of my own perfect little moments.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In which I don't have much to say but say it anyway

It's Monday. I don't particularly dread them any more. In fact, they are kind of nice. Max is back at school. Tony is back at work. I like a bit of alone time. Of course, I spend a chunk of that time going out to meet some writer friends to work (which is what I'm doing now), but it's still "me" time. I'm working at getting organised again. Not so scattered. Lists. To-do's.

Last week I finished re-outlining this book. I should have done it months ago, but I kept putting it off. Kept second guessing whether or not this was the book I should be working on. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it doesn't matter. Gotta work on something. And I think I've finally worked out all the issues I was having. I was making things too complicated. Taking it back a step and also trying to punch up the timeframe -- don't give the characters time to stop and think. Keep it going and keep them on their toes.

Or, you know, something like that. Keep me on my toes, right?

I did break down and buy the A4 suspension files I needed even though I hadn't meant to spend the money yet. It's because I'm a bit of a sucker. Sort of. I was in the local art store. Nice people. I thought he might have a few folders I could buy to hold me over, though it's a small place and there wasn't a huge chance he'd have them, but I always try to shop local (except when it's impossible).

They'll always order stuff in for me and the wife always asks after Max. So he found an ancient box of them under a cabinet. Box of 50, gathering dust for probably the last 3 or 4 years or ten years. They are more of an art store than office supply store by far. And once he found them, I had to buy them. So I've got a box of 50 now. The old ones, from back when they were still manufactured in Britain and not in China, like they are now. The price was actually decent because they always try to give me a good price and less than I'd have spent on the same thing at Ryman's or some other big chain. But so much for my waiting until next month and the next paycheque.

That's kind of me, in a nutshell.

In other unrelated to anything news, have been watching some anime and have determined that I'm really quite a sap. I sort of knew that, but I guess my life has been missing some romance or something. All the shows we've been watching have been crime or drama or whatever...stuff good for research for the book and things that also appeal to Tony. More than my fair share of guns and psychopaths and intrigue.

So there I am watching an anime called Say I Love You (which was surprisingly good) targeted toward teen / pre-teen girls. Have to say it was more realistic in a lot of ways than I would have expected and I am a teensy bit obsessed with Yamato, but then I've always been a sucker for tall guys. Even cartoon ones. So sweet but with serious issues tackled as well. It was kind of refreshing. And I liked that Mei (the girl) wasn't a total pushover, though sometimes I also wanted her to open up. But that was the point, so the story worked. It has some issues and some things I would have written differently, but overall, quite pleased with it.

Perhaps ashamed to admit that I totally binge-watched all the episodes in one night while waiting for Tony to come home from an after-work happy hour. Dead the next day. I'm too old to stay up so late least, so long as Max gets up so early.

Also watched Sword Art Online and am also slightly enamoured with Kirito...though that story has some HUGE issues. As a writer, I am both fascinated and repelled by it. So much potential but then idiotic stuff thrown in. Maybe it's the format and expectations of the teenage male audience. I dunno. But it's got so much gratuitous boobage that it's really annoying. A veritable (not plot moving) harem of buxom beauties including HIS SISTER (which isn't exactly his sister, but really his cousin who was brought up thinking she was his sister and she's in LOVE with him for NO GOOD REASON in the plot). And making a damsel in distress out of a really strong female character. It annoys me but at the same time I am looking forward to the next instalment. Because there's a part of me that will ignore all the problematic story issues to soak my seldom-used-hormones in the teenage-y romance-y aspect.

That's one of the things that I like about writing YA vs. adult. There's something different about first love -- first experiences with love and sex and all the gooey angst that comes with all of that. There's nothing so intense as those first forays into love. By the time you are an adult, the edges have faded. So maybe the next book I finish after this one will be that YA about Death's son. It's a romance, after all.

But now, to work. I've wasted enough time doing my random blog brain dump.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Half gone

How is it that the first month of the year is already half gone? How did that happen? Time keeps slipping away from me (and now, great, I'll have that song stuck in my head ALL DAY). I've got to grab on to it before this whole year gets away from me like last year did. Yes, there was a lot going on last year which I'm not going to recap now because FUTURE, people, the FUTURE, need to look ahead...but I can't let it all get away from me again.

This week has definitely been slipping through my fingers. It's an excuse, but it's partly because I've been sick off and on and off and on since before Christmas. I'm tired of the cough. Tired of the phlegm. Even tired of the word "phlegm" -- I mean, yuck. It's a disgusting word. But it's also that I've been feeling for a long while like a turtle that just wants to retreat into its shell. Or maybe like a groundhog gone underground. I don't know. Like I want to hide.

I've also stayed home this week because I'm feeling really broke. Between Christmas and sending money every month to the family and Tony's new train ticket expenses and me not making any money in eons, I'm feeling strapped. Don't even want to fork out the money for a pricey latte. Been drinking Nescafe. Which, okay, I usually keep around for emergencies, but it's not something I'd choose on a normal basis.

Anyway. I'm digressing. Which is what I do. I need to get organised (as a side note, GAH, I still hate British spellings of things...they don't look right). I did get a filing cabinet as a birthday present to myself. Need to buy another pack of hanging files (British: suspension files) but am going to wait until after the next paycheque (US: paycheck) for Tony before I splurge on those. Would it be weird to ask for office supplies for my birthday?

Because it is, indeed, my birthday this month wherein I will be 42. Which is the answer to everything (though, sadly, also the year that Douglas Adams died during, which is just wrong, really...).

I did have a long sleepless bit last night where I was thinking about an idea for a series of kid's books using some of the half-completed ideas I've already got. Not sure if I should waste my time on those or not as my agent won't handle them. They are cute though. But maybe it's just a distraction.

I did also recently lob an idea at an author friend of mine for a joint project. We'll see if anything comes of it. It was really just the bare kernel of an idea, not anything fully formed or anything like that. A nugget. A little tiny nugget of nutcaseness.

I'm going to try and blog here once a day, just for myself. And today I need to do laundry, do some grocery shopping, do more laundry, and get my to-do list digitised and organised. (Progress! I typed that with the "s" the first time!)

Tomorrow will be meeting with my writing group and working on the book I need to finish this year. First step is going back to the outline and finishing it and no more of the half-assed do-nothingness I've been doing for the last year. I know this about me. I know it. I know if I don't have a real outline that it never gets done. But there were reasons, I know. I know. But no more excuses and no more burying my head in the sand.

What I really need is a deadline.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Well, hello again.

Hi there, old blog that I'm sure no one remembers is here anymore. It's nice to see you again. I kind of need a place to write stuff on that no one goes to, the stuff I don't write on my "official author site" (you know, that place where I'm supposed to be all professional and upbeat and what not).

I haven't been blogging much over there because I haven't had anything good to report on. Or anything, really. And it seems weird to talk about my life on something kids visit to look up things for book reports. Which is when I remembered this place, where I used to spew all kinds of unrelated things, good and bad.

It's been a long time since I've written on here. Years. It's 2015 now, which is amazingly bizarre. Remember Back to the Future? Yeah. That's now. And there are no hover boards.

I've written 4 books and had the good luck/fortune to see them get published. Moved to London. The little peanut has grown up to be almost 7 and there never was a truer, cooler geek in progress than my little man.

That's the good stuff. Way back when, if you'd told me I'd see (at least) four books (and hopefully more) of mine be published, I would've been all WOOT!!! But there's another side to that. Yeah, the side where you don't actually make a living from it. Actually, not only do you not make a living, you don't make, well, anything. Literally. Last calendar year I made exactly 0. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

But anytime a new review gets posted or an award or whatever and people congratulate me on how well my career is going, etc. etc., I just smile and say thanks, etc. etc. Because what else can you do?

It kind of feels good to write that down, in a weird way. See, I generally feel like a complete failure but I don't think there's anyone else out there in the world that would look at me and say that's what they see. But there it is. I wonder every day why I keep writing. But I keep doing it because I have the stories in my head and people do seem to like to read them. People still write me.

But anyway, I thought I would resurrect this for myself. To write all that stuff I'm not supposed to write, somewhere that it is very doubtful anyone will read it. In fact, if I can figure out how to do it in this new too-many-options-blogger-interface, I'll set this so that it doesn't appear in search engines.

Besides which, I've been wanting to write some poetry again. Because angst. And fear. And beauty.

See you tomorrow. Or later. Some laundry is calling my name.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Um, I'm not here.

Just noticed that I apparently never actually put up a post on this blog directing you to my (no longer) new online home: 

Er. My bad.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New year, new me...

Well, we (as in, me and the hubster) have made the trite and oft-used resolution of losing weight. We both want to lose about 25 pounds. So far, I've lost 2. Just mostly modifying the diet so far....honestly, am not quite sure how to fit in exercise yet. We'll see.

So today...had plain yogurt with granola for breakfast. Lunch was a Lean Cuisine thing (and that's all I can say about that). Dinner will probably be something similar...Tony is out of town, so I'm going the easy route. The Max? He had chicken nuggets and tater tots for lunch.

The good news is that Tony is dieting too. It's really hard to diet in a household if you're the only one, especially when he does the majority of the cooking.

Hopefully we can lose it. It'll be like a whole new wardrobe again. :-) Though I guess that ditches my excuse to buy new

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I know, I know...

I'm actually still really upset about Elephant. I'm silly, I know. But I am.

Max seems to be doing okay, at least. He carries around Elephant 2 plus either Binky Dog or Bunny Bear. He seems to want two things. But he's asked for Elly a few times. I just give him Elephant 2 and try to act like nothing's wrong.

Ah well.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Watch out, He Might Blow

(Something less serious and depressing than the last post)

Watch out, he might blow

That little man in the corner over there...
I've been watching him.
The party swirls on around him,
conversations ebbing and flowing,
punctuated by the silver peals of laughter
of our hostess,
the inestimable, the esteemable, the powerful:

And he,
the husband,
so quiet and unmoving.
The lines on his face settling deeper and deeper
into a roadmap of stillness.

His eyes, though,
so much more alive than the rest of us,
darting and fleeing around the room
to stop, to settle, to hang
so heavily on his wife
and then start the pendulum back,
touching always on
that dapper gentleman over there...
the one who hangs on our hostess
so gracefully, so tightly, so singly,
with every bon mot and every glance,
even from across the room.

There's an undercurrent of tension
here, among the frivolous joy --
And I cannot help but wonder
whether cocktail weiners can be
used as weapons of mass destruction.

Epic Fail

I feel like I've had my first big Mommy failure. Max lost elephant at the mall today. Elephant #1. I've been careful lately to not let elephants out of the house, but Tony picked up Max to strap him in the car and he still had elephant. I thought about saying something, but I didn't. We've taken him out before (sometimes both of them) and it's always worked out, though we've had some close calls (left behind at a couple of stores, but I've always managed to find him). This time it didn't work out.

I had to get some new glasses because I lost my old ones somewhere in the house. Or maybe Max did; I don't know...they're just gone. And since Tony is off to London again this week, I really needed some new glasses so I could drive while he was gone. So while I was in VisionWorks at Hawthorne Mall, Tony was on Max duty. They played around the store for a while and then went on to the playground area. Me, I had my eye exam and looked for frames and got my eyes dilated.

On the way back to the car, I said "Where's Elephant?" assuming that he had wound up in Tony's pocket like he usually does. But Tony didn't have him. And he wasn't in the car. We got home and called iHop (where we'd had breakfast) and I called the mall where (prophetically) they told me that they didn't have Elly in the lost and found box but that they "threw away any dirty stuffed animals" that they found. Which, by the way, is evil. Because the loved ones? They're the dirty ones. If they are sparkling clean and new? Those aren't the loveys. The loveys are LOVED.

I also called the bookstore since Tony had gone in there and Delia's, since Tony had said that Max kept going in there because he liked to walk through their sign. But no go.

We had to go back to the mall to pick up my glasses, so we did that on the way to the airport. We drove through the parking lot slowly and checked out the aisle we had parked in and two more for good measure. No Elephant. The Max was asleep, so Tony stayed with him out in the car while I went in to pick up my glasses.

While I was waiting for my turn, I saw a security guard standing outside the store (and, according to the people on the phone earlier, mall security is in charge of the lost and found), so I asked the fellow if anyone had turned in an elephant. A guy who happened to be standing nearby taking surveys goes "A floppy grey elephant?" and for a minute I was very excited. It turns out Max must have left it on the post right outside the VisionWorks store while he and Tony had been playing around. The guy had propped it up on the post and left it there, but then later had seen a maintenance worker pick it up.

So I cornered a maintenance guy who was nearby, but he had no idea (and it wasn't him, anyway, but some other taller maintenance guy). The security guy was also no help. I had to get back to the car to get Tony to the airport, so I left. I was also, honestly, a wee bit of a wreck because a) I read The Velveteen Rabbit far too many times as a child and b) Max had already had one major meltdown at home when he figured out he had not two elephants, but one and the elephant he did have was not THE elephant. Backup elephant has always been backup elephant, even though he's loved carrying both around. Tony can't tell the difference, but Max and I can.

Tony doesn't get why I'm so upset, but he calls the mall again on the way to the airport but just asks if anyone has turned in the elephant (a question I already know the answer to) even though I tell him the new info. He just thinks Max will "live" and be fine. And, yes, I know that's true but that's not the point.

When we get back home I call again and explain to the concierge desk lady the situation. At first she tells me there are no maintenance people working today and then she's just confused. Ultimately, they say they'll look again and call me back. They do, about five minutes later, and no elephant. Which I expected by this point. They obviously threw him away.

It pains me to write that. Maybe I'm silly, I don't know. But Elephant has been there for Max for his whole life and has comforted him through bruises and bumps and nightmares and who knows what else. His trunk and hands were turned yellow from Max sucking on them when a binky just wouldn't do. He called him Elly, when the two elephants together where "Ants!" -- but Elephant was always Elly. I thought he'd have Elly his whole life and be able to sit him on a shelf someday and chuckle fondly at how raggedy he'd grown over the years. Maybe sneak him off to college because he just couldn't bear to leave him behind.

Elephant just wasn't something that should ever be thrown away.

I'm sorry, Max. I'm sorry, Elly. This time I failed.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Staring into space

I'm in the writing stage where you spend a lot of time staring off into space. I think it's the stage that most confuses my husband. He's a do-er and this part of writing looks like a lot of nothing.

It's kind of like cooking, if your ingredients were all invisible and stewing in one giant pot. You stir and stir and stir...some things splash out and you clean them up; other things meld together and become yumminess. And after awhile, it's time to put it in the oven to bake and then you really get started.

Almost there, almost.

Though compared to these authors, my writing process seems downright calm and collected.

I'm trying to be fairly organized -- so I'm thinking, then outlining, then writing. I pretty much go from chapter one on down the road, periodically with brief detours into little snippets. But other than that, I'm pretty straightforward. No writing in the tub, though I do think of stuff in the shower.