Non-Writing · Randomness

Top 10 Signs You’re Up Waaaaay Too Early

10. Toothbrush in 1 hand, toothpaste in the other, you stare at them for a full minute, trying to remember what to do next.

9. Even the cat looks at you like “You’ve GOT to be kidding me.”

8. You put the coffee in the coffeemaker, start it, and can’t figure out why it’s not working. Then remember you have to add water.

7. You’re already daydreaming about the break you’ll take at work so you can nap at your desk.

6. You hate your husband for still being in bed.

5. Your clock reads 3:30.

4. The windchill is near 0. In March. Wait, no, sorry. ¬†Wrong list. That’s a sign that winter has overstayed its welcome.

3. You have a 13 hour day ahead of you but will still get home at a reasonable time.

2. You gulp down so much coffee, your tongue tingles before you even leave the house.

1. You’re compelled to write a list like this.

Non-Writing · Randomness · Rantish

Things You Just Don’t Say to People

As happens on an all-too-frequent basis, I found myself at Target Sunday afternoon (and, off topic, I only spent $9.99 + tax! I win the weekend). As my daughter and I were getting in line to check out, a man passed us. And, as also happens too frequently, he commented on how little I am.

This would be the point where I mention that I’m 5′ tall. When wearing 2″ heels. Yes, I’m 4’10”. As a full-grown adult. Because I don’t have an underlying medical condition, I’m not considered a dwarf. I just have short parents, and had a thyroid deficiency during crucial growing years. But even without the thyroid problem, I wouldn’t have been more than 5’2″ or so.

Anyway, this man approached me as I was trying to convince MissA to put on her coat. And he said, “I’m sorry. I have an important question. Well, it’s important to me. My girl said I shouldn’t, but I have to ask. How tall are you?” I politely answered him and he thanked me and went back to his girlfriend. Who is apparently smarter than he is. He should have listened to her.

While I was polite to this man, mostly because I don’t have the energy to be rude and because I don’t want my daughter to observe me telling this man what I really thought of his question, my outward response was in no way consistent with my internal reaction. What I really wanted to say was “What the hell makes you think it’s OK to ask me that? What the fuck is wrong with you? I don’t care if this question is important to you. You’re not in any way important to me, and you’re taking up my time. And you’re forcing me to inadvertently condone behavior in front of my child that I think it rude and unacceptable. Why the hell would you think it’s any of your fucking business?”

Seriously, what is it that makes people (it’s almost always men, but sometimes women too) think it’s OK to comment on my height. Why do they feel this overwhelming need to point out what’s different about me?

I don’t have a whole lot of point to this blog entry, except to get this off my chest. And to say don’t do this. It’s not OK. Your curiosity isn’t important to me. Respect me enough to keep your rude question to yourself. I’m tired of people being so self-absorbed that they can’t be bothered to think about how their actions affect others. I’ve made peace with my (lack of) height, but what if it was a major issue for me? This guy doesn’t know.

Think before you speak. Think before you act. Your words and your actions have consequences. They affect other people.

Revision · WIP

Killing Your Darlings aka Revisions

As the saying goes, writing is rewriting. Or, to put it less delicately, I will quote Chuck Wendig. “Writing is when we make the words. Editing is when we make the words not shitty.” And, as an aside, if you are a writer and want to learn from someone who doesn’t pull any punches and has a lot of good, insightful things to say about writing as a craft and a business, check out Wendig’s blog. Although if you’re in any way offended by vulgarity, don’t. Here’s his post on editing.

Anyway, I digress. The first draft is fun. Ideas flow. Plots twist. Characters grow. Other characters die (at least in my books). Relationships form. Relationships die. Mysteries are investigated and solved. Justice is served and the main characters fall in love (again, this is in my books). And, if you’re like me, you let the words fly all over the page. I don’t try to edit much during the first draft. I live by the motto of BICHOK. No, not some new slang term. Butt In Chair, Hands on Keyboard. I work in sprints of 20-30 minutes (often on my break at work) and just write. Which gets me a messy first draft when I’m done.

So revision is necessary. Among many new writers, there’s a misconception that revision means finding typos or incorrectly used their/there/they’re. And of course that’s important. I think of revisions at coming in 4 levels. Macro, middle, micro and polish. Things like grammar and spelling and typos are polish. They’re the last thing.

Macro is the 1st thing, to me. Because if you don’t have the big picture working, the rest become unimportant. Macro is looking at whether the character grows sufficiently and logically. And are the main characters (for a romance, there are always 2 main characters, although each book usually belongs more to 1 of them) interesting people a reader will want to hang out with? Are actions well-motivated? Are plot events logical or contrived? Do plot events make sense or are there gaping holes? Does the conflict and tension build over the course of the book?

Middle is looking at each chapter and each scene. Does each scene work to support that main plot? Does each scene work as a mini-story with all the elements necessary to a scene? Is there enough conflict?

Micro is looking at word choices and sentences. Can I get rid of an adverb and instead use a stronger verb? Can I get rid of most of the 1000+ uses of “just” in the manuscript (“Just” is, by far, my favorite of the throw-away words)? This is the time to read the work aloud to find awkward phrases.

Then, comes the polish, the phase far too many writers think is the only part of revisions. This is the typo, font size pass.

And then it’s done. Or as done as any writer actually considers their work. Which is never.

Kids · Non-Writing · Randomness

Homemade Peeps-How Writers Waste Time When Not Writing

In a perfect world, I would have 29 hours a day, my kids would still be in daycare full time and I would write and craft to my heart’s content. Like most of my friends, I have re-pinned all the DIY stuff on Pinterest. And have tried about 3 of them. But the other day, MissA made a request I couldn’t deny her. Because it sounded like sticky, messy, ooey-gooey fun.

She loves Peeps. Which is really going out on a limb for a 3 year old, I know. She has also recently developed a love of Star Wars, much to my husband’s delight. Darth Vader is her favorite and she insists he’s a “nice guy.” Because he’s tall and strong. We have some SW cookie cutters, and one of her favorite meals is a Darth Vader sandwich (butter, ketchup and cheese. Awesome). Sometime this week, we were at Target and bought regular old Peeps, the chick kind. And she asked if we could make Darth Vader ones.

I looked on the vast interwebs, and, whaddaya know. There’s a recipe for make-your-own Peeps. Several, in fact. This one seemed the most adaptable to cookie cutters, so I used it:

I thought I’d have to make my own black sugar for Vader, but a trip to the Michaels’ baking aisle proved me wrong. So, we whipped up a batch of homemade Peeps. We now have Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Storm Trooper and Yoda. I’m not going to try to sell them at the next bake sale, but they’re not too bad. Plus we got to play with marshmallow goo. And they taste pretty good.

The kicker is, MissA has decided they are a present for her cousin who is getting baptized tomorrow. Because what better way to represent the cleansing of original sin than a gift of the Lord of the Dark Side?

Colored sugars and cookie cutters all set to go.
Colored sugars and cookie cutters all set to go.
Boiling the sugar-water.
Boiling the sugar-water.
Whipping the marshmallow goo.
Whipping the marshmallow goo.
MissA cutting out a Boba Fet.
MissA cutting out a Boba Fett.
My messy hands.
My messy hands.
The spread.
The spread.