Tuesday, November 30, 2010

i don't mind if you don't mind

Ugh. After staying up until after three a.m. last night, I neither slept well nor got up early; I may have to come to terms with the fact that I need to adopt a more adult sleeping pattern (where adult means grown-up, not pornographic). After all, I felt good and managed to be productive last week when I was in LA and subject to Terry's absurdly early (7:15am! gasp! and she got up at 5:30! double gasp!) waketimes. So I'm going to go to bed as soon as I post this, and set my alarm for 7:30 with the intention of knocking out the last bit of my Golden Heart entry tomorrow.

I just read through the 50-page main entry and the hated synopsis and made minimal changes, so I think they're good to go. The rest of the entry lacks about 5000 words (20 pages) of being complete to my satisfaction, which is definitely doable in a day, but I want to do it early enough in the day that I can FedEx my entry before going to class tomorrow night. So, writing is going to have to take priority over everything else (which it should have done today, but I did a bit too much Cyber Monday procrastinating, which took longer than usual as I spent more time dithering and deciding not to buy things because of my funemployed state, rather than just adding everything to the shopping cart and checking out in five minutes like I used to). And I did not go to the gym, but I did eat a brown rice cake with organic peanut butter as a snack, so I feel that that is punishment enough (but, as usual, I went into it thinking I would hate it and discovered that it was strangely good and may become my go-to snack. damn my luck.)

Okay, I'm starting to get all rambling and my eyes desperately want to close, so it's time for bed. Goodnight!

Monday, November 29, 2010

knock me out every time they touch me

I'm in a substantially better place with my writing tonight than I was last night; perhaps this will doom me to being in a worse place tomorrow, but I'll take what I can get. I managed to write and rewrite my synopsis today, and to edit the first fifty pages of my manuscript to include as much feedback as I could from my beta readers while still keeping the story tight for the purposes of the contest. I think I need to add another scene in there someplace to lay out some motivations even more clearly, but I'm not going to do it for this entry -- I think it's more important to end on the perfect cliffhanger for a contest, and so I tried to add in a few bits and pieces of motivation in the existing scenes rather than inserting a whole new scene and breaking up the flow.

So my entry is in pretty good shape; I wanted to finish this part first so that I could print at my leisure tomorrow and have time to recover from any catastrophic printer malfunctions. Starting when I wake up tomorrow, through to Tuesday around two p.m., I'm going to write like the wind on the rest of the draft, but as it's not as important as the first fifty pages, I'm not too concerned. And then I can get down to the business of actually writing for real, and not trying to tweak for a contest, which I must say I'm looking forward to even more than the fact that I could theoretically take a break after Tuesday.

I did nothing other than write today, with the exception of my usual Sunday call to my parents and a v. brief trip to the gym, which was abbreviated because the gym closed earlier than usual due to the holiday weekend. Isn't my life exciting? And on that note, I should really get some sleep so that I can be fresh for tomorrow's slog -- goodnight!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

cells about to separate and i find it hard to concentrate

I hate hate hate writing synopses. For those of you who aren't deeply mired in the publishing trenches, a synopsis is sort of a cross between an outline and a back-cover blurb, laying out the whole story in anywhere from one to twenty pages. It's something that, paradoxically, I may have to do more of as I become more successful, since successful authors can eventually pitch a book based solely on a synopsis + a couple of chapters, rather than writing the entire book before trying to sell it. So, I should be trying to get good at it now...but that doesn't make me loathe them any less.

The problem is trying to tell the story concisely, cleaning, and with glimmers of the same voice you're using in the actual writing, without getting bogged down in details or secondary plot points. I reread the synopsis that I wrote for the Golden Heart entry that won last year, and it was actually pretty good -- but then I was depressed for a couple of hours, because I no longer really like that book and would rewrite the whole thing if I had a chance. So I worked on the synopsis for this year's entry after I ate some leftover pizza to get over my depression, and while I'm making progress, I think I need to take a break and get some sleep before trying to finish it in the morning.

Today was not a great day for the writing; the dreaded synopsis brutalized my productivity. I did make it into the gym for a ten a.m. training session with Alyssa, and then I stocked up on groceries so that I can eat for the next week without having to scavenge too badly. Then I did a combination of writing, procrastinating, and watching Stanford decimate Oregon State -- all fun, but not as much work as I should have done.

I'm recognizing my own self-sabotaging tendencies -- there is a part of me, as you all well know, that does not like to lose. I particularly do not like to lose when I have won before. And there is something scary about the possibility of not winning this contest that I'm entering, even though writing is much more subjective than math, and I could fall victim to having a couple of judges who don't appreciate my actress-in-disguise plot. Alternatively, perhaps last time I got really lucky with having judges who like marriages of convenience, so perhaps that victory was the fluke and this entry will land me back in loserville where I belong.

Clearly I'm being just a little bit ridiculous, and the rational part of me sees that. It's the rational part that also recognizes that leaving the synopsis until the last minute is one of those classic "well, if they had seen my better work, I would have won" defenses that is an ultimate act of self-sabotage. But the emotional part, which has been oscillating wildly between "this is a great book" and "Madeleine and Ferguson must die" for several months, is just scared enough that it's making it hard to concentrate.

So anyway, I need to get over this, not just in relation to this contest entry, but also in regards to publishing in general -- rejection happens all the time and I will have a much higher fail-rate than I'm used to, and I'm going to have to figure out how to keep moving on and not let it throw me into a local minima each time I get some bad news. There is time to get over it tomorrow morning, though; for now, I desperately need to go to bed!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

but i swear in the days still left we will walk in fields of gold

Between not sleeping enough last night and driving up from Los Angeles today, I'm properly exhausted and ready to toss away the laptop for the night. I woke up a little before eight a.m. (shocking, I know), and Terry and I had breakfast at a cafe near her (which was v. quiet, since most people were either out at the Black Friday sales or still recovering from yesterday's feasting) before she saw me off at ten a.m. I got home around 3:30, which means I made excellent time; I stopped once to get coffee, once to get gas, and once at Casa de Fruta to use the bathroom and walk around for five minutes since I was getting sleepy in the car, but 5.5 hours with three stops is quite speedy. While it would have been nice to have stayed longer, I'm glad I left today and avoided the weekend traffic -- and as you know from last night's post, writing is going to be imperative over the next few days anyway.

But when I got home, I was too tired to write, and so I caught up on some stuff online and then took a nap. I woke up around six, realized I was starving and had no food in the house, and so ordered and picked up a pizza from Applewood in Menlo Park. Then I curled up on the couch (did I mention that it was fifty degrees in my house when I got home? it's warmer now, since I've decided to accept the weird fluctuations in temperature caused by the sticking thermostat needle; it's supposed to be 40 degrees tonight, and so warm/cool oscillations in temperature are better than freezing to death) and watched the finale of "Top Chef: Just Desserts" (verdict: mostly boring). Then, in an attempt to get myself back into the romance frame of mind and contemplate how I want to write the end of my book, I reread a few of my favorite Georgette Heyer endings: THE MASQUERADERS, THE UNKNOWN AJAX, and DEVIL'S CUB. I could have just as easily read THE GRAND SOPHY or SYLVESTER or BATH TANGLE or any of the other twenty Georgette Heyer romances sitting on my special Georgette Heyer shelf, but these three will have to do. All three involve, to greater or lesser degrees, an extended climax in which someone's clever machinations are all explained and the gentleman wins the lady. Since I'm contemplating having Ferguson make a particularly insane and ridiculous plot to win over Madeleine during the climax, rereading these was quite useful (and fun, of course).

But now, I should go to bed; I'm training with Alyssa tomorrow morning, and then after that I've completely cleared my schedule until Tuesday night, when I need to mail my Golden Heart entry just before going to my blogging class. It's going to be a busy few days, so I'm going to get a good night's sleep tonight in preparation. Goodnight!

Friday, November 26, 2010

i have come back to you now at the turn of the tide

I'm feeling rather like that moment in THE TWO TOWERS when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are in Fangorn Forest, right before Gandalf shows up against all odds and tells them that the battle is on. That may be the stupidest simile I've ever come up with -- I should have just stuck to the old cliches of calms before storms, etc. Or perhaps I shouldn't have drank slowly and steadily (or tortoiselike, to continue overusing overworn phrases) all evening.

In any event, what I mean to say is that tonight is a bit of a lull before the battle commences in earnest. By "battle" I mean making the drive back up to Northern California tomorrow, and then locking myself to my laptop and finishing my book by noon on Tuesday. I have approximately one hundred pages to go, which may sound like suicide -- but I wrote my seventy-page Stanford honors thesis in three days, and that required footnotes, research, persuasive arguments, logic, making a legible diagram of the main connections between fifty or sixty different anti-Nazi conspirators, etc. The honors thesis turned out very well, if I do say so myself -- so writing a bunch of sex scenes tied together with hijinks and dramatic breakups/reconciliations should be a walk in the park (Hyde Park? St. James Park? clearly the park must be in London, but I'll leave it to you to decide which).

But, this will require a level of hermitage and insanity that I have not embraced recently, but am secretly (or perhaps not so secretly, since this is a public forum) eager to dive into. I'm going to throw myself off the bridge of Khazad-Dum, wrestle this fucking Balrog of a novel into submission, and eventually stake its heart on the side of a snowy mountaintop. Then I shall be reborn as human again, and I'll take a couple of weeks to stare catatonically at the television until it's time to reemerge. I shall not, however, come back wearing all white -- it really does nothing for my usual deathly pallor.

And now that I have written nearly half of this post as a direct comparison between myself and THE LORD OF THE RINGS (which, I do realize, is fictional), perhaps I should sleep. I had an absolutely lovely day, though -- perhaps I'm delirious because I woke up at eight a.m., which hasn't happened on a Thanksgiving since I was probably eleven. I spent the morning drinking coffee and mimosas with Terry and her mother, spent the afternoon pretending to write while watching a marathon of "My Super Sweet Sixteen" (oh, the humanity -- spending a quarter of a million dollars on your daughter's sixteenth birthday party seems, oh, a bit excessive), and then ate the night away.

Unfortunately, Terry's mom suddenly came down with flu-like symptoms while cooking dinner, and so while I had been expressly forbidden from lifting a finger (which made my midwestern help-your-hosts upbringing extremely uncomfortable), I finally got tapped to finish whisking the gravy, which made me feel v. proud. Dinner was lovely and v. v. entertaining, particularly as the siblings all discussed the many and varied ways they had attempted to kill each other growing up. We ended the night with dessert and Irish coffees, and then Terry and I came back to her apartment so that she could sleep in her own bed, I could have ready access to my car in the morning, and we could watch two episodes of "Bones".

So now I'm going to go to sleep, get up early, grab breakfast with Terry, and then speed back to Northern California in an attempt to outrun whatever plague is currently attempting to get a foothold in my body. If I'm sick, my novel will be even more epically difficult to duel with through the chambers and chasms of Khazad-Dum -- but I shall emerge victorious. And on that note, after having alienated all of my non-LORD OF THE RINGS friends (which is basically only Katie), I shall say goodnight. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the trouble with love is

I have had an absolutely lovely Thanksgiving Eve -- Terry's family does not play Rail Baron (as is true of every other family in America but mine), but they are quite entertaining, and the lead-up to Thanksgiving is proceeding apace. Terry and I woke up at 7:15 this morning (actually, she woke up at 5;30, which I consider an abomination) and went to the gym, where she got me in on a guest pass, and she had a training session while I did some treadmill and read part of a (rather disappointing) romance novel. This enabled us to shower with the amazing shower products and get ready at the same time, which substantially sped up our morning. Then, we picked up our laptops and went to UCLA's business school library, where I wrote about ten pages while Terry worked on a project with someone until around 1pm.

At that point, we both sloughed off for the day, picked up our bags from her apartment, and drove to her parents' house in La Canada (which should be pronounced "kahn-YAH-dah", but I'm not going to bother to figure out how to put that foreign-looking tilde on top of the "n" -- this is 'merica, after all). We dropped off our stuff, picked up Tom, and grabbed a late but v. necessary lunch at Panera. Then, in an attempt to have "sisters time" (which I was crashing), we returned Tom to the house and picked up Kasey and Mary Kate with the intention of getting mani/pedis, but the salon we went to smelled like everyone in there was already pickled in formaldehyde, so we changed our minds and did some desultory window shopping in old town Pasadena instead.

We made it back in time for dinner, which consisted of caesar salad, scalloped potatoes, and tri tip -- thank goodness Terry's family are not vegetarians, right? I had a v. entertaining time with Terry, Tom, and their parents at the 'grown-up' table while their younger siblings hung out elsewhere; it's quite interesting to see a large family in action, and I'm rather enjoying the experience. Eventually, the girls adjourned to the back den, where we watched "Love Actually" (my all-time favorite holiday movie, which I know virtually by heart), and now we're going to bed even though it's only 10:30. I am old, I know -- which is why I'm using my anti-aging cream religiously. It may not enable me to get by on less than eight hours of sleep a night, but as long as I look dewy while falling asleep in my chair, at least that's something.

Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone! Goodnight!

don't you want to feel my bones on your bones...it's only natural

I made it to Los Angeles perfectly on schedule, although I did not go to the gym this morning -- I'll have to confess my sins to Alyssa when I see her on Saturday. I don't know whether the lack of gym attendance, the french fries I had with my lunch, or the pasta I had for dinner would upset her more; regardless, what's done is done, and I'm not expecting to have the most healthy week anyway (although I'm guessing that California Thanksgiving will be healthier than Iowa thanksgiving, if only because I won't be tempted by my favorite french onion sour cream dip and my mother's mashed potatoes -- although on the other hand, my family doesn't really drink and Terry's is more "festive", so maybe I'll just divert my caloric intake to alcohol instead of potatoes).

So I made it out of Palo Alto at noon and was parked and at a cafe a mile away from Terry's house at exactly seven p.m. -- not bad, particularly since I stopped for almost 45 minutes at Casa de Fruta and another 20 minutes at the last stop north of the Grapevine to get gas and wait in an absurdly long drive-thru line at Starbucks. Terry had some school stuff this evening, so I got in 45 minutes of writing while lingering over my pasta, and then she met me there and had dinner while we caught up. We came home, I gave her a bottle of wine for hosting me, she was excited about the wine but had lost her corkscrew, and so we went to the grocery store in our pajamas to buy a corkscrew (thus looking a bit deranged, but as that's how I usually look, I'll take it). Then we came back to her place and drank some of the wine while watching three episodes of "Bones", the show that she successfully hooked me on despite my many protestations that it's stupid and unwatchable (as usual, I was wrong).

Tomorrow promises to be fun; we're going to the gym in the morning (in hopes that she can get me in with a guest pass, since my membership is club-specific rather than all-California), and then I'm writing for a few hours while she does some school stuff. Then, I'm invading her afternoon with her sisters, and we're apparently getting mani/pedis and doing other girl stuff (which I could desperately use, since my toenails are devoid of color for the first time in years -- having a house hovering just this side of freezing has made painting my toenails difficult, since they're usually buried in either slippers, fuzzy socks, my down comforter, or all three when I'm home). It's going to be quite an interesting sociological study to see someone else's Thanksgiving traditions -- particularly Terry's family, since she has four siblings and, as I mentioned, they are "festive". So, I'm super psyched, and I will report back on my findings over the next few days.

Now I need to go to bed; Terry gets up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 (which I do not understand or approve of, and may need to take into consideration when her friendship lease is up for renewal in a couple of years), and while I don't have to get up then, I still have to get up around 7:15 so that we can make it to the gym by eight. I don't think I've gotten up at 7:15 since my days as a paid, productive member of society, so this should be interesting. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

sweet perfume never tortured me more than this

So I realized tonight that the theme song for the hero of my next book (Nicholas Claiborne, marquess of Folkestone and Ellie's once and future lover) is some bizarre combination of Sting's "Desert Rose" and Alice Cooper's "Poison". So far, none of my characters have had theme songs performed by Nickelback, which relieves me since I get enough ridicule for the Nickelback on my iPod as it is, but my writing career will be a long one and I don't expect to avoid that particular embarrassment forever.

Anyway, I was more slothful than I intended today, since I was taking care of stuff before driving down to LA tomorrow. I made it to my training session with Alyssa today (who said that my squats are looking much better -- if I were in training for a cross-India train journey, then I would apparently be doing the right exercises to avoid urinating on my own feet in the train bathroom), and I'm going to try to go into the gym tomorrow before taking off (if my virtuous desires for once outweigh my lazy tendencies). Then, I came home, packed up my laptop, went to Cafe Borrone, and enjoyed a bowl of soup and some toast while writing for an hour or so. After Borrone, I came home, did laundry, packed, did dishes, answered emails, took a nap, procrastinated a bit, etc., and then ate a quick dinner before going out to run a couple of last-minute errands, get cash, get gas, and generally finish preparing for my trip. I also wrote a bit tonight, although not as much as I should have.

I'm starting to think that perhaps, given my acknowledged all-or-nothing work style, that in the future I should ignore all the advice to write every day and instead write every other day -- days on would be a hard and brutal slog, and days off would involve trying to use the computer as little as possible and read, watch movies, go to the beach, people watch, think about future books, etc. The problem right now is that a lot of my procrastination happens on the computer, and that's where my writing happens too -- so even though I spent nine hours on the computer today, I certainly didn't get nine hours of writing out of it, but I did get a massive eyestrain headache because I don't even have meetings with other people to break up my computer usage. This is all going to have to change -- which I will work on in a couple of weeks, once I'm done with my Golden Heart entry.

Finally, for those of you following my heating saga: I did email my landlord today, and he's going to send someone to fix it when I'm in my house next week. However, I also let the heater run well past the point where it should have shut off just to see if it will ever shut off on its own -- and discovered that it generally does shut off about five degrees above the expected mark, and turn on 5-10 degrees below it. It's a crapshoot, really, and I'm hopeful that the heater expert can either fix the thermostat or install a new one, since the thermostat still suffers from the issue of the needle sticking; but, after discovering this, my house was certainly warmer today than it was yesterday.

Okay, I must go to bed; I'm trying to go to the gym and still get out of Palo Alto by 11am tomorrow, so sleep is imperative. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

she's making sure she is not dreaming

I was embarrassingly lazy today -- I need to call my landlord about my heat situation if only so that I stop spending hours on end slouching in headache-inducing positions under the warmth of my spare down comforter. After staying up too late last night (and freaking myself out slightly with the possibility of getting killed in my little cabin in the woods, since it was raining quite hard and every scrape on my roof sounded like an intruder attempting to claw his way in, which I knew even at the time was rather improbably at best), and getting up to a v. cold house, I didn't crawl out of bed and turn on the heater until about noon. I might have just stayed in bed all day if Adit hadn't called, but since I had not talked to him in quite some time, I figured he merited some time. So I made myself some tea and curled up on the couch while we caught up, which felt almost like family time even though he's over three thousand miles away and so could not harangue me about the wampdevils that I need to swiffer up.

After we parted ways, I got dressed and went to downtown Palo Alto, where I had a late breakfast at Cafe Epi (the posher replacement for Fratelli Deli). I wrote a couple of pages of Madeleine and Ferguson's story while I was there, then came home with the intention of getting more done -- but first I called my parents and talked for over an hour, and then I went to the gym and did a combination of elliptical, treadmill, and foam rolling (which basically means "massaging"/torturing my muscles with a big cylinder of hard-packed foam in an effort to get them to loosen up). By the time I got back from the gym and ate dinner, it was after 8:30 -- and then I spent the rest of the evening procrastinating by catching up on a ton of romance business news and author blogs on Google Reader. I can justify this somewhat because I'm researching what I want my romance blog to be, since I have to redesign it for the class I'm taking -- but I really should have waited to do that until next week. Still, at least I wrote a few pages today, and tomorrow is gloriously empty (other than a training session with Alyssa at nine a.m., which at least means I will get out of bed at a more normal hour).

Since I have to get up at eight tomorrow, I'm going to bed right now rather than giving in to the temptation of writing until four -- goodnight!

give 'em the axe

Today was relatively hermity, and as I've been typing for hours, I believe I shall keep this brief. I dragged myself out of bed around 9:15 so that I could make it over to the gym for a 10am training session with Alyssa, where I promptly felt guilty for not going to the gym yesterday or Thursday (the best of intentions, etc.), and then slowly felt less guilty as she made me do exercises involving resistance bands that I'm pretty sure make me look at least half retarded. Not that that is hard, when it comes to me and physical activity, since I suspect that all the synapses that went into giving me strength in both writing and maths were stolen from the areas of the brain that would have enabled me to walk without tripping over my own feet.

After the gym (which ended with her 'massaging' my calf muscles with a length of PVC pipe), I went to Mike's Cafe, primarily because I knew that my apartment would be back down to sixty degrees, I have no food in the house because I intended to leave for LA tomorrow (I'm now leaving Monday or Tuesday instead), and so I wanted both warm food and a warm place to sit. I worked on the synopsis for sequence six for about an hour, while warming up with my usual breakfast casserole and coffee. Then, I came home, huddled up on my couch with my spare down comforter (which is where I've been for the past eleven hours), and watched Big Game. It was a pleasure to watch a complete drubbing of Cal (sssssss), even if perhaps I should have been writing instead.

I then spent several hours procrastinating, which was a mistake; I should not procrastinate on my laptop, because that means that I spent like ten hours on my laptop today, even though I only worked for five, and so I have a smashing headache and am probably going to make myself blind (from eyestrain, not from internet porn, you sicko). But, I did eventually settle into the writing groove, and I wrote 4517 words -- about eighteen pages, for those of you keeping score at home. I need to repeat that feat for the next few days, and if I do that, I should have a draft done in time to do some final editing/polishing of the first fifty pages for my Golden Heart entry in a week and a half.

Now, though, I really must stop looking at this screen for at least nine hours -- goodnight!

Friday, November 19, 2010

all of these things are written in the sand behind me

It's raining tonight, and my cabin is feeling like the perfect setting for the start of a postapocalyptic zombie horror movie (which I wish I hadn't just imagined, since that's not really a comfortable thing to contemplate right before going to bed). Luckily, it wasn't raining this morning and my plans for the day went off mostly without a hitch. I pulled myself out of bed by nine (shocker -- well, less of a shocker since I then returned to bed to make some phone calls and take care of some business, but as my apartment was 55 degrees and my bed was approximately ninety degrees since I tend to heat up like a furnace at night, I can be forgiven), got ready, and was out the door by 10:45 to make it up to the evil city for a hair appointment at noon.

Readers who are obsessive about the smallest details of my life will recall that my stylist in Palo Alto left the salon she's been at for years to be part of a startup new salon in the city of sin. This would not be that big of a deal, since my hair usually doesn't get split ends and can go a year without desperately needing a trim -- but with the twin issues of having bangs (which require trims) and going to the gym five times a week (which requires shampooing my hair, since sadly I sweat rather than glow), I need to get my hair cut more often, and now I have to drive to the city to do it. I suppose I could find another stylist, but I love Susie -- she grew up in Wisconsin, and so we bond over the midwest and get along smashingly.

The salon is lovely, even though it's still unfinished (they just opened two days ago), and the staff was super friendly. Susie chopped several inches off the bottom (which I suppose is obvious, since she could hardly chop it off the top), lightening it up, which was great. I'm debating coloring my hair for the first time ever, and she and Dustin (the senior colorist) were practically salivating over the idea of having their way with my "virgin" hair. So unless I chicken out, I have an appointment to get highlights in December...we'll see whether I still have the courage then, or whether I stick with my dull, safe browns.

I just remembered that I always tend to do something to my hair when I'm wanting a change (such as cutting bangs a week before resigning from my job), and it's a wee bit sooner than I expected to be feeling that desire for change again. But I will shove that thought back into the darker reaches of my brain where it belongs. After getting my hair done, I called my father to wish him a happy birthday (happy birthday, Daddy!), then went to Samovar for a long lunch/writing session. The usual staff suspects were there, and one of them hugged me since it had been so long since my last visit (which I believe was in August). So I wrote for a couple of hours over my usual masala chai, salmon quiche, etc., as well as a pot of bai mudan (a really lovely white tea), and I stocked up on English Breakfast tea so that I can enjoy the pleasures of Samovar from the comfort and cheapness of my own home. The writing went well, albeit slowly, and so I'm going to throw myself into it this weekend without any other distractions.

After Samovar, I went to the airport to pick up Tammy (aka Tammmmmehhh), who is visiting for the week. This was basically my only chance to see her, since I'm going to LA, and I capitalized on the experience by making fun of her and letting her make fun of me, as per usual. We drove down to Menlo Park, had coffee at Cafe Borrone, and then met her boyfriend Daniel (who lives out here, which is why she was here -- she clearly wasn't here to see me) at Iberia for tapas and wine. Sadly, the highlight of the evening was speculating why on earth anyone at Iberia (home of expensive tapas and high quality wines) would order four pitchers of Fanta, since we were eating at the bar and saw one of the servers spend several minutes filling pitchers with Fanta from the soda gun. That wasn't really the highlight of the evening, but everything else was mostly inside jhokes or would not retell well here, and so I will leave it to your imagination.

I'm glad I got to see Tammy before my sojourn south; we parted ways around nine, and I may get to see her next weekend if I drive back in time and she's not too busy with her other plans. Then I came home, took care of some emails, and generally procrastinated. And now, it's time for bed; I have a training session with Alyssa tomorrow at ten a.m., and she may not be happy with me since I skipped the gym both yesterday and today. Oops. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

win-win situation

Today started out fine and ended in complete disaster. I got up and did a very respectable amount of writing, and then got dressed and had lunch with John at my old place of employment. We actually went over to the side of campus where I worked when I first started there seven years ago, back when the company was confined to just those buildings, before we started hiring like drunken sailors and long before I left to be an "artist". The cafe we went to was quite good, with these little sweet potato pie tarts that were much more delicious than the granola bars I would have been eating for lunch if I were on my own. And it was good to see John; I didn't go for the free lunch, contrary to what my sweet potato pie rhapsody might imply.

After lunch, I went to a Starbucks for a couple of hours, where I wrote some more. Then, I met up with Chandlord at 4pm, and we proceeded to have an absolutely terrible night. First, we went to Joya, where we had wine, empanadas, guacamole with "new world" chips (which means yucca, plantains, taro, etc.), and churros -- balanced meal, right? Fueled by that nutritious and delicious meal, we came back to my place, where we then spent the next four hours torturing ourselves with a movie double-header. We started off with "Letters to Juliet" because we were going for romantic comedy, which turned out to be a really boring, disappointing film with no chemistry and no discernible acting talent (other than Vanessa Redgrave, who was completely wasted on it). Then, rather than redeem ourselves, we watched "Sex and the City 2", which may have been the worst movie I had ever seen in my entire life. It would not have been the worst if it had only been 75 minutes, but instead, it was 2 hours and 26 minutes that I should have spent working on my book instead.

I can't decide whether we should have drank while we watched the movies or not; drinking may have improved things, but then again, at least tomorrow I will only feel bad about myself and not also suffering from a hangover. Now, Chandlord is falling asleep on my couch and I need to go to bed so that I can make it up to the city tomorrow in time to get my hair cut -- goodnight!

just another heartache on my lips

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the "worst of times" category is the fact that none of you want to help me become the Rick Steves of my generation -- so I guess I'll just have to make some new friends on the road. Also in the "worst of times" category is that I didn't write enough words today. I did write, and I'm feeling clearer on the next 8-10 scenes and what happens in them, but since "enough" in my mind is 20-30 pages, it's probably not surprising that I didn't get there since I had a training appointment at noon and class at six p.m.

But in the "best of times" category, I'm feeling really good about my writing -- whether it's this book or the other projects percolating in my head. Heather (aka dear respected madam) finished the first half that I sent her and told me that it was amazing how much my writing has improved from book one (which she liked, so that wasn't a backhanded compliment), so I'm glad that all the torture of writing and rewriting and changing ideas and reworking and polishing and scrapping is paying off. Second, my magazine instructor asked me if I had considered trying to teach a Stanford continuing studies class on writing and publishing romance novels -- it would help if I actually published one, but he seemed to think that it would draw a lot of interest (and implicitly seems to think that I could do it; it probably helped that tonight's discussion was about getting an agent and I had a lot to contribute). So, maybe next year, after I sell Madeleine and Ferguson's book (the power of positive thinking), I'll put together a proposal.

The rest of my day was fine; I trained with Alyssa at noon, worked on the book for a bit, went to the CoHo again where I worked on the book some more, and then had class. I procrastinated when I got home as per usual, since I had been "on" all day, and then wrote for another hour before throwing in the towel. Now my battery is dying and I should get some sleep -- goodnight!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

how's it gonna be when you don't know me

I'm dreaming of foreign lands. All those old urges to pack up everything and move, to chop off my hair (and even dye it, which I've never done, some sort of flame-red Christina Hendricks color) and run for the hills, to endure months of that strange dislocation from reality that comes from extended, unrooted travel -- it's all coming back. I thought I had cured myself with my overly hectic travel schedule this spring, but it's easy to write off those experiences because I was deathly ill, and Paris just was not as fun when I couldn't walk for more than half an hour without taking a break to regain my breath. I also thought I had cured myself by moving into a wonderful, perfect-for-me Abe Lincoln cabin in Palo Alto -- and by quitting my job, which at the time felt like an ultimate act of lighting a match to my safe life and setting off into the unknown.

But I'm too much like Pa Ingalls, always ready to move off to the next place on the prairie (where prairie = Europe). The urge struck me hard during my blogging class tonight -- partially because I wanted to stab myself in the face out of boredom because I am way more familiar with WordPress and Blogger than my classmates, and since tonight's class dealt with such fascinating technical topics as "how to upload a photo" and "how to insert a YouTube video", I spent most of the time daydreaming rather than paying attention. I found an awesome WordPress blog theme for travel blogs, and spent the rest of the class thinking of all the places I could go, how long I could spend there, and which of my friends (that means you, dear readers) I could convince to meet up with me at various points along the way.

I don't know if this will come to anything; I need to finish this damn book first. But if it does, you will be the first to know -- and you'll benefit from months' worth of travel blog posts, rather than the inanities of my Palo Alto life, so you should be hoping that this happens!

Anyway, the rest of my day was productive, but not as productive as it needed to be; I got up at a respectable hour, did about thirty minutes of work for the freelance project, and worked on my book for the rest of the morning (plotting, not writing). I made a 4x6 notecard for every scene that I think happens between now and the end of the book, based off the brainstorming I did yesterday, and then stewed over the ideas while working out at the gym. When I got home, I gathered up my stuff and then went to the Stanford CoHo, which is basically unrecognizable due to all the renovations they've made, where I had a surprisingly good chicken sandwich and spent another hour and a half arranging my notecards so that they are in the right order and I know how the scenes are structured.

At the CoHo, though, they were playing hits from the early/mid-nineties, such as Nirvana and Third Eye Blind. While listening to Nirvana, I realized that for the freshmen at the CoHo, they were only one or two when Kurt Cobain died, and so it's sort of the equivalent of if I had gone to the CoHo as a freshman and heard them playing Pat Benatar, Bob Seger, Hall and Oates, etc. Granted, I love the '80s, but I was a little sad to realize that the music of my high school days is already becoming oldies.

After that depressing realization, I went to class, came home an absurdly long time after that, messed around on the internet and tortured myself by reading travel blogs, and now need to go to bed. Either tell me to stop thinking about traveling, or tell me you're coming with me!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

take a minute to concentrate and she opens up her eyes

I accomplished my three-hour daily minimum in terms of time spent on the book, but I didn't write a damn word; instead, I wrote out several pages of notes about where to take the second half, including brainstorming 70+ possibilities for scenes between now and the end of the book. I really only need about twenty-four and I think I have most of them already figured out, but this was a good exercise. I learned some things that I didn't know before, even if I did come up with some ridiculous, unusable ideas (like Madeleine's pirate cousin Sebastian showing up from Bermuda and threatening to fire his cannon on Ferguson's seaside ducal estate -- Sebastian is a pirate, but firing on a residence on British soil probably wouldn't go over so well, even if he is the son of an earl and not just a scurrilous seadog). So, I have all day tomorrow to write (except for doing homework for and going to blogging class), and I have a pretty good sense of what happens next (sort of).

Anyway, I worked on that this morning, then scurried around and went to the gym for a training session with Alyssa. I asked her a question about her weekend that showed that I had been listening on Wednesday when she said what she intended to do, and she looked startled, and then said that she had mentioned to another trainer that I was one of the first clients she's had who asks her questions and seems interested in what she does. That was quite bizarre to me; she asks me what I'm doing, so why wouldn't I ask her? Then again, the gym is expensive and so mostly attracts a) executives/lawyers and b) the type of women who loudly discuss their botox treatments, so I suppose it's not really a surprise that they might be too self-absorbed to talk to "the help" (which is what a trainer is, in some ways). But my workout was good, and I had a delicious sandwich in their cafe afterwards before running home, picking up my laptop, and doing a couple of hours of work at Starbucks.

I threw in the towel around 5:30 to meet the Heathers for our belated margaritas and pie (tonight sans both margaritas and pie, since we all had Diet Cokes, and we never have pie at these events anyway). It was lovely to see them both; Heather #1 (aka dear respected madam) had read the first six chapters of the romance novel segment that I sent her and had excellent, useful feedback to share, so I was v. grateful for that. One of her biggest pieces of feedback was that I need to describe Ferguson's red hair so that it's hot auburn or strawberry blond hair and does not make her think of Carrot Top (my words, not hers), which I think is fair. I also got an email from Priyanka tonight with a lot of useful feedback as well, so I have a lot to ponder.

The good news is that so far I don't seem to be way off base -- there are no quibbles about the mistress plot so far, and most of the issues can be resolved through the addition of more detail, not major plot overhauls, which is more of a relief than I can possible describe. I'm still curious to hear back from the other people I sent it to, and I need to focus on just finishing the damn draft before I get sucked back into revisions, but really, it's good to feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

After dinner, I sprinted to Sephora and did some damage; I had a 20% off everything coupon, which is fairly rare, and it expired today. I checked out three minutes before the store closed, so I was just in time. I'm trying to be good about my expenditures, but I'm not yet ready to go sans makeup (and the older I get, the less ready I will be), and 20% off of everything was too good to pass up. So I stocked up on mascara, tinted moisturizer and dry shampoo, and also bought some anti-aging eye cream because I'm still getting carded regularly for alcoholic beverages and I want to keep it that way. My face, hair and body are pretty much remarkably unchanged since about senior year of high school. I'm just waiting for it to all go to hell (hence my freak-outs whenever I find a white hair - and I have a couple of white hairs in my left eyebrow, which really *really* bothers me), and I expect the next decade will not be as kind as the last one was. So, Sephora still gets a line item on my funemployment budget despite the inherent frivolity of spending my savings on magic potions.

Then I came home, did an hour of work for the freelance project, procrastinated, and then wrapped up my brainstorming. And now, it's time for bed; tomorrow requires intense writing productivity and some stuff for my blogging class, so I should sleep. Goodnight!

p.s. congrats to my cousin Drewbaby for his role in getting his high school football team to the Iowa state championships! From what I read online, he made all six of his point-after kick attempts, which is awesome. I texted him when I saw my uncle's comment on my last blog post and congratulated him on being the only star athlete of this generation of Wamplers - perhaps not a huge feat considering that my brother and I are his only competition, but still.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

it's hard to hold a candle in the cold november rain

I have a smashing headache, likely because I had nearly no caffeine today -- a single Diet Coke and a half-finished mug of tea aren't enough for me. The tea wasn't doing it because I'm down to the dregs of my last tin of Samovar English Breakfast and so I switched to bagged stuff, which I now taste as wildly inferior. No, I haven't given up tea because I'm trying to save money; buying looseleaf isn't that much more expensive than buying teabags, and given how much tea I drink, I might as well buy it in bulk as though I'm an aristocratic housewife from days of yore. But Samovar is in the evil city, just close enough that it's silly to pay for shipping, but far enough away that I don't get there as often as I used to. I'm tentatively going up on Friday to get my hair cut (so that Susie can even out my bangs from my passable effort to trim them myself the other day when they crossed the line from artistic to shabby), so I shall stock up on tea then, and perhaps my headache will subside.

So today was a busy day but not in the way I would have preferred; I rolled out of bed around ten and spent most of the morning/afternoon working on closing out that freelance project I've been working on. They're launching their site on Tuesday, so hopefully with another round of edits tomorrow I'll be able to wrap things up. Around three p.m., I talked to my parents as per our usual Sunday ritual, and then I did a bit more freelance stuff before going to the gym and reading a design magazine to distract myself from the tyranny of the treadmill. Then I came home, did a last little bit of freelance, procrastinated a bit, reread some bits of my manuscript, and played with my writing software (they just released a new version and I took the time to upgrade).

All in all, none of this is interesting to any of you, so I insincerely apologize for that. But I'm going to bed now (at 11:23pm, shocking) so that I can get up early and get cracking on my crazily absurd goal to finish a draft of my book in two weeks -- it's going to be as close to the wire as it can possibly be, which is my preferred position, so hopefully I can pull it out. Goodnight!

you don't own me

Staying up until four a.m. writing was great for knocking a major goal off my list and getting the first half of my book out to my beta readers. It was absolutely terrible for making anything substantial out of today. Luckily, I was able to cross of my "write at least three hours" goal today even though those three hours happened between midnight and three a.m., so I wasn't too ashamed of not writing today.

I didn't sleep particularly well last night, likely because I was so breathtakingly caffeinated to help me push through that final stretch, so when I crawled out of bed at noon, I wasn't feeling particularly chipper. I made a big vat (well, more like a small vat, but it's big for only one person) of chili, but it's a good thing that I had a granola bar at 1am and another one when I woke up briefly at nine feeling like my stomach was trying to claw its way out of my abdomen -- maybe I like to read paranormals because I will someday give birth to a demon in one of those hideously gory scenes from those horror movies I never watch? Anyway, as I was saying, it was good that I had other things to sustain me, since I ended up not eating lunch until two, and then having a snack at five and another bowl of soup at eight. And, I had to take a nap at 4:30 so that I could muster the energy to drag myself to the gym, where I stretched an excessive amount, spent more time than I would have liked (but that's not saying much, since the amount of time I would have liked was <5mins, and I did more like 25min) on the elliptical, and caught the last quarter and a half of both the Stanford/Arizona State and the Oregon/Cal games. Both games were looking dicey, and for awhile I worried that Cal was going to both prevail over Oregon and see us get knocked out by ASU, but my fears proved unfounded.

I did some freelance stuff this afternoon (another reason why I didn't write; I need to finish this project), but I decided to take a break from all work tonight and read an advance reader copy of FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT by my friend Darynda Jones. The bizarre thing about this is a) even when I'm taking "time off", reading romance is kind of work, and b) becoming a writer means that I'm making friends with people who are starting to get published. Darynda was one of the fellow finalists in that award I won last year, and she won her category as well -- and has gone on to make some stupendously amazing sales, including TV rights for a young adult series that she's working on. Anyway, her book isn't out until February, but I happened to win an advanced copy so that I could review it (which I will do on zee romance blog when her pub date gets closer -- and on Goodreads and Amazon, which get more traffic than zee poor romance blog, although I'm taking that class at Stanford this quarter so that I can turn my romance blog around). And I can see why she sold this book and is getting a major marketing push (and a debut in *hardcover*, which rarely happens in romance) -- the book was fun and insanely good.

But now, even though I'm not really tired, I'm going to force myself to go to bed. Hopefully the fact that I only had one caffeinated beverage today (the horror) will help, although my lack-of-caffeine headache may not be a good thing. I have to get back onto some semblance of normal people time, though, if only so that I can eat meals when my body is expecting them and not have to oddly time then around my weird sleep schedule. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

at night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

It's almost 3:30am and I'm utterly wiped out, so this post will be necessarily brief. I just wrote off an on (almost entirely on) for the last ten hours, and while it was v. important and I'm glad I did it, perhaps it would have been smarter to have written two hours every day this week rather than trying to cram it all in at once. But, with this massive effort, I got to a point with the first half of my manuscript that I felt comfortable (not thrilled, but comfortable) sending it to a small handful of trusted beta readers for feedback. And now, I can move on to pounding out the first draft of the rest of the book, hopefully in a couple of weeks of caffeine-fueled hysteria. Great plan, right?

Before I started writing, I did manage to get out of the house; I had my regular every-three-weeks lunch with Gyre, and we discussed all the stuff I've missed in the last few weeks (basically, nothing). Then, I made a quick stop in downtown Mountain View to pick up the contacts that I ordered a month ago and neglected to ever retrieve before coming home and making myself an absolutely perfect latte with the stovetop espresso maker my parents gave me for my birthday. I took an extended break to chat with Terry and Heather (aka dear respected madam) online before diving into the book -- and I stayed dove in, taking a break to have a steak and a baked potato (one of my favorite comfort meals).

I mailed out the drafts half an hour ago, then did some cleanup on my laptop, and now I need to sleep. I have a ridiculous crick in my neck from huddling on the couch under blankets while trying to write, and I'm sure I looked just as absurd, since I was wearing striped gloves that I had cut the fingertips off of so that I could still type while keeping my hands warm. Verily, I am living the good life.

Okay, I'm off to bed; tomorrow I need to go to the gym, then it's onward and upward to the second half of the book. Goodnight!

Friday, November 12, 2010

summer is winter and you always knew

I'm in that lovely, warm, full, happy state that comes after a four and a half hour dinner/dessert/drinks extravaganza -- and I must hope that I don't die of hypothermia in my house tonight, since I'm feeling so satisfied that I could go to sleep in my frigid, unheated bedroom and never wake up, just as Almanzo (that hottie) feared that Laura would in "Little Town on the Prairie". If I only I had an Almanzo around to take me out on his sleigh (which, in the 1880s, was not a euphemism -- although I suppose it isn't really now, either, unless 50 Cent has released a new song called "In Da Sleigh" for Christmas) -- but alas, Almanzo remains as dead as he has been for the last sixty years, and I'll just have to hope that I will wake up tomorrow.

But if I do freeze to death tonight, I had a good day to go out on. I didn't get out of bed until after ten, and then I putzed around for a bit, had lunch, and finally settled down to take care of a bunch of stuff that I had been putting off for weeks/months -- namely, sorting out all my insurance, medical reimbursements, bills, rollovers, etc, since my 30-day anniversary of leaving my job is fast approaching and some of that stuff expires at the end of thirty days. So I was wildly if boringly productive all afternoon, getting through massive swathes of the undesirable parts of my to-do list, which means that I will have health insurance and all sorts of other beneficial things during the next phase of my life.

Eventually, though, it was time to go to dinner, and I met my friends Jenni and James at Patxi's in Palo Alto. When James was working in the city and I was living there, the three of us would occasionally go to Little Star (home of the best pizza in the history of the world) -- but since we all live in the glorious south bay now, we're looking for new restaurants to call home. We had a lovely dinner at Patxi's, even though we got way too much food, and I got to hear all about the venues they're looking at for their wedding (they got engaged right before I left work). When we were done eating at Patxi's, we weren't quite done hanging out, so we strolled down to Joya, where we ruined our server's night by only ordering drinks and dessert instead of the full gamut of expensive entrees and starters. However, our dessert was churros (to die for), tiramisu (also amazing), and papas bravas (not a dessert, since it's basically a fried potato with some mayonnaise, but amazing nonetheless), and we all had at least one drink (I stuck to my fave champagne, the Gloria Ferrer blanc de noirs that I served at my party), so the guy couldn't complain too much.

So a good time was had by all, and I was glad to see them; I've worked with Jenni forever, and I was with her the night that she first got together with James at one of our sales conferences (the same sales conference/ski trip where Lauren met Nathan -- quite a week from a pair-up perspective), so I'm glad that Jenni and James are getting married. But finally it was time to part ways, so I came home, did thirty minutes of work for my freelance job, and am now ready to crawl into bed and let my breath freeze and turn into rime on my pillow. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

for in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Not only did my goal of going to bed at midnight not happen tonight, but I find myself even farther away from that goal than I have been in days. But, I made some great progress on my book tonight, so I'll take it.

After discovering that my blog and gmail had been blocked due to "suspicious activity" last night, enduring harsh emails from both my mother and Katie about how I had ruined their morning coffee + blog rituals, and fixing the problem, I promptly went back to sleep. So, I crawled out of bed into my frigid house at ten a.m. -- I should get the thermostat fixed, but after my father told me a great story about how someone in our hometown had wanted him to sell them home insurance (way back in the day, when he was briefly an insurance agent and I was also briefly about seven years old) and was annoyed because my father couldn't do it because of a floor furnace...only to get insurance from another company, and then promptly have the house burn down due to the floor furnace. You can surmise from this that I also have a floor furnace, so rather than turning it on tonight (I can turn it on and off, I just have to be awake to do it or else it keeps running because the thermostat can't shut it off), I'm bundled up under my guest down comforter, drinking tea and enjoying the warmth of my sterility-inducing laptop.

Anyway, I made it into the gym at twelve for my training session with Alyssa, but we spent most of it stretching; I tweaked something in my left thigh and was/am walking with a limp, so I had a fun hour trying to contort my limbs into all sorts of painful poses to take the pain away. It didn't really work, and I spent the rest of the day trying to find a position where I could be comfortable and still work (again with limited success) -- but I'm taking tomorrow off from the gym, so hopefully I'll get rested up.

I should have gone to blogging class tonight, but at the last moment I skipped it; I wanted to soak in a hot bath (which I ended up not doing because I got sucked into writing), did not want to walk around campus, and wasn't completely interested in querying magazine editors (the topic of tonight's class) because I'd already sat through a long discussion of that topic in a different class I took a couple of years ago. Instead, I stayed home, and put my time to good use by editing my manuscript; I'm trying to send it to a handful of beta readers tomorrow if it kills me, and thanks to today, I just might make it. I wrapped up around one, then did half an hour of work for that freelance project, and now I need to go to bed. Tomorrow promises to be the same but different -- no gym, but lots of writing, a little frostbite, some continued muscle pain, a bit of freelancing, and hopefully dinner with Jenni and James. Yay. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

programming note

For those of you who stopped by in the wee hours of the morning (which could have included almost noon on the east coast - I sleep late), I did not actually delete my blog. Google blocked my account because they detected suspicious activity. All is well in the world again, so keep calm and carry on. Post from last night below (in which I rant about an unnamed hipster blogger - maybe some fucking hipster hated this post enough to hack my account?).

you're just my toy and i can't stop playing with you baby

This is post 1901. It's hard to believe that I've come up with enough drivel to write 1901 posts, particularly given how absurdly long my posts are -- and yet I have no intention of stopping, so you're stuck with me.

For a funemployed person, I was ridiculously busy today. I didn't get out of bed until around 9:30 because my house was so damn cold and my bed was so toasty; my new strategy for tomorrow is that I'm going to take my laptop to bed with me so that I can write in the morning without having to emerge fully from my cocoon. We'll see if it works -- yesterday's plan to go to bed by midnight every night has already gone out the window, so perhaps I'm constitutionally incapable of setting a routine.

Anyway, after I got up, I immediately did some work for that freelance project, which carried me through until around 11:30. I decided to go to the gym then rather than waiting, which I duly accomplished; I spent as much of it stretching as I did working out, since my poor midget-proportioned muscles are not up to the task of trying to use machines that are sized for normal people. Then I came home, made a perfectly lovely sandwich for lunch, and did my homework for my blogging class, which took five hours. I had to peruse five blogs the instructor sent over (including two whose bloggers came to class tonight for a panel) and write a blog post for class, which took longer than I thought it would because I couldn't write the garbage that I serve you every day. I didn't even finish all the reading, but I eventually just had to go (after reheating some frozen chili and making grilled cheese, yum).

This class is really, really good; tonight she brought in two bloggers to talk about how they got into blogging, got a following, etc. The first is a professional life coach (Tammy - I can send you the details if you want to fire me and get a real person) who writes a blog as an effort to build a platform so that she can publish self-help type books. She was well-prepared, had a slideshow, and seemed quite thoughtful. The second is a 25-year-old guy who gave up his job to live a minimalist life and blogs about living without things or money. As expected, he wasn't nearly as polished as the life coach, and he seemed way into himself and pretty much dominated the conversation; but then again, he has 70,000 hits a month and she has <7000, so maybe he was entitled to dominate.

It's quite funny and hideously ironic that I spent most of the class thinking that the kid was completely clueless and a classic example of a fucking hipster millennial (he was wearing the classic fucking hipster uniform of scoopnecked tank top showing too much chest hair, absurdly tight jeans that were so tight that I couldn't actually tell whether they were jeans or women's leggings, and a hoodie -- three of the 57 items he claims are all that he owns). And yet, I've basically done the same thing, quitting my job to try to 'live in the moment', although I didn't give up any of my stuff. And clearly it's sad that I've become so jaded at the ripe old age of 29, and perhaps someone who is 33 looks at me and my naivete in the same cynical way I looked at this kid -- but I thought it was all just a bit too idealistic, particularly since I checked his "57 things" list while he was speaking and verified that his reusable water bottle with attached carabiner was not included in that list. Yes, I'm that troll who likes to tear down happy hipsters.

Anyway, enough about hipsters; I left the city to get away from them, but they're proliferating like Dutch elm disease and soon we're going to have to cull everyone under the age of 25. Sad. When I got home, I was pleased to see that my house was still hipster-free, and I settled in at my desk to do some work -- I did another hour of stuff for the freelance project, and then spent some quality time typing up everything I wrote yesterday. I had a brief, mad desire to stay up all night and write, but since I have to be at the gym before noon tomorrow for a training session with Alyssa, I think I'll sleep instead. Goodnight!

Monday, November 08, 2010

i've overcome the blow, i've learned to take it well

Yay for productivity! Because both of my dinner plans canceled on me (I doublebooked myself and said nothing to either party with the assumption that one of them would cancel, but I wasn't anticipating that both the Paradise Supper Club with John/Jess/Chandlord *and* dinner with the Heathers would both get axed) I had plenty of time tonight, and I put it to good use.

But first things first. I didn't get out of bed until ten, no doubt assisted by the fact that it was fifty-five degrees in my house when I woke up -- I really need to call my landlord and get him to fix the thermostat. After showering and shivering, I wrote for 45mins or so (mostly typing what I wrote out by hand last night), and then went to the gym, where I had a training session with Alyssa. Training was all good, and I left less sore than I arrived since she helped me to aggressively stretch the thigh and calf muscles that were tensed and rebellious after my last workout. I also left squeaky clean and smelling of their lovely Kiehl's shower products, which made me happy the rest of the day.

I came home for a bit, did about ninety minutes of work for the freelance project that is still going on (and which will require some more work first thing tomorrow), ran a couple of errands after discovering that dinners were canceled, and then came home, did a load of laundry, made dinner (chicken quesadilla, plus I chopped up some peppers and onions to freeze for later cooking endeavors), folded laundry, and settled down to write. The writing started off slow, with at least an hour of procrastination, but ultimately I wrote almost eight pages (again by hand). This included first drafts of a scene with Madeleine and the twins (who appear to have survived my characide and will live to see the final draft) and a scene where Madeleine's cousin/guardian confronts Ferguson at the club (where "the club" is a men's club in the classic sense, not either a "gentleman's club" replete with strippers or "da club" where you might find 50 Cent). So, that's great progress, and I just need to keep it up if I'm going to finish in time to enter the Golden Heart.

So now it's time for bed; I've realized that my goal to get up earlier only works if I set a commensurate goal to go to bed earlier, so midnight is my new cutoff. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

is this in my head, i don't know what to think

I slept until eleven this morning, which was the equivalent of sleeping until noon if I had done this yesterday. My down comforter with the clean sheets I put on yesterday were just too inviting, and the sound of rain lashing against the roof only added to the effect. I did manage to drag myself up and out eventually, though, eating a bowl of cereal (I am such a culinary genius) before venturing out during a relative lull in the rain to make a return/pickup at Nordstrom (exchanging a nightgown I'd ordered online, since I was going for "old-fashioned" and this style was so old-fashioned that it seemed to fit like one of those cloth flour sacks from days of yore, for a sports bra and some leggings). I also went to the grocery store, where I stocked up on foodstuffs that will get me to make more than just cereal -- although considering that I had frozen enchiladas for dinner, perhaps I failed.

But more on that in a moment; I will proceed chronologically, as we're all accustomed to. When I got home, I made "pizza" with these thin bagels I found at the grocery store, some pizza sauce that comes in a squeeze bottle so that I can refrigerate it without it going bad as quickly as the canned stuff, and some mushrooms, olives and cheese. Delicious, and since it took about five minutes to prep, I was feeling very virtuous for cooking. Then, I called my parents and talked for approximately two hours -- with the election, there was a lot to catch up on, particularly since my dad is our party's county chair, and so he was at the courthouse until one a.m. on Tuesday while the returns were coming in. While I personally disagreed with the vote to toss out the supreme court justices over the gay marriage ruling, I was at least glad to hear that the mob didn't vote out all of the judges on the ballot; if that single act had wiped out half the judiciary, that would have been a nightmare.

After talking to my parents, I made an absolutely fantastic latte using the espresso maker they gave me for my birthday, and then did a fun project for my friend Jen. I had to spend an hour and a half working on that freelance project that I'm still wrapping up -- hopefully I'll finish it this week. Then I ate my enchiladas (I had intended to make pasta, but as it was suddenly eight p.m. and I was starving, I didn't do it) and finally wrote with the last gasp of my day, turning out about three handwritten pages since I was sick of looking at my laptop.

Tomorrow looks to be busy, since I have a training session at noon and dinner plans with the Heathers, but provided that I don't get distracted by the freelance project, I should have time to write. But to do that, I need to go to bed so that I don't oversleep again -- and hopefully my muscles will recover a bit more before I go to the gym tomorrow, or I'm going to be a v. sad panda. Goodnight!

P.S. Good luck to Drewbaby, my favorite (only) Wampler cousin, whose football team is playing in the state quarterfinals tomorrow! Kick it hard/high/straight/however you need to kick it to score (clearly I don't know the mechanics of field goals)!

i keep waiting for you but you never come

I didn't write today, but I treated today as the chance to take away all my excuses for not writing tomorrow. I had a hard time rolling out of bed this morning since I stayed up so late last night, but I made it into the gym for the seventh day in a row and worked out with my trainer (Alyssa - she might as well get an early upgrade to named-status on my blog, since I'm going to be seeing a lot of her). She is awesome, and I love her already, particularly since she has a good sense for how much I can do to ensure that I'm sore without being totally crippled (a big improvement over the trainer I used at work a couple of times in September, who pushed me so hard that I could barely walk down the stairs, and who I now realize may have messed up my left calf, since it gets into pain way faster than anything else).

Seven days in a row is the longest consecutive stretch of daily gym-going I've had since my past-life incarnation as a hoplite in ancient Sparta, so I'm giving myself tomorrow off. Alyssa and I worked out a schedule where I train with her twice, go in three times on my own, and take two days off every week, which is totally doable in my funemployed state. But I'm counting tomorrow as a free day, which means that I have nowhere else to be but at my desk.

Speaking of my desk, my other major task for the day was to fully, utterly clean up my desk so that I have no excuse not to work at it. I'm v. pleased with the results; with the bookcase that arrived on Tuesday and the file cabinet I already had, I've sort of created a u-shaped workspace with access to all my research books, my files, my many and varied office supplies, and a wide assortment of desk flair and memorabilia. The workspace extends a bit farther into the living room than it did before, but it also looks more welcoming and inviting, so I'm happy to make that trade-off.

But, the process of cleaning, organizing, unpacking and repacking the boxes I brought home from work, putting away the laundry I did on Wednesday that was still strewn all of my living room, and doing a variety of other tings took all afternoon and evening. I did watch Stanford trounce Arizona while cleaning, and also watched last week's "Top Chef: Just Desserts" and a couple of episodes of Craig. Then, I did about ninety minutes of work for that freelance project I'm working on, and now it's time for bed. Tomorrow, I write!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

she says it's all gonna end and it might as well be my fault

I stayed up too late, and I had been so good about going to bed just a little earlier this week. The culprit is my desire to read, and the object of my desire was Robin McKinley's newest release, PEGASUS, which just came out on Tuesday and arrived that afternoon on my doorstep in a lovely Amazon box. I left the box sitting just inside my door, unopened and unacknowledged, while I worked this week, knowing if I ever ripped the pulltab open that I would be sucked into the book and not flung back out until I was done.

And I was right. I should have written tonight, since I didn't get a chance to do so today, but I couldn't wait any longer. It's a shame, though, because I knew that the book ends on a complete cliffhanger (practically mid-scene), and since I read the author's blog, I know she's still writing the sequel - which means it's probably eighteen months away from being published. I'm such a fool, since now I'll be dreaming of this story until the second part finally comes out. As with all of McKinley's stories, the writing is luscious, the characters are interesting and believable, and the storyline is v. unique while also feeling somehow comfortable and welcoming. I checked Amazon and was surprised to see relatively negative reviews, which made me sad for the fate of humanity, since two of the low reviews complained about too many flashbacks and not being able to keep track of when things were happening. Clearly people no longer have the attention span necessary to read something that does not progress in completely linear style like a Facebook wall or a series of text messages.

Anyway, I'm glad I read it, and I will likely reread it again at least once before the sequel comes out, but I should go to sleep immediately if I'm going to make it to the gym in time for my eleven a.m. training session. I had a lovely day; I did a couple of hours of work this morning on that freelance project that somehow keeps growing, and then went to the gym, where I hung out on the elliptical while watching a show about famous female murderers (called "Fatal Beauty", since of course all female killers must be attractive in whatever skewed logic was working in the show producers' heads). After the gym, I came home, rearranged books for an hour to move all my research materials to the new bookcase by my desk, and then met up with Heather (aka dear respected madam) for dinner at Chili's (which felt v. all-American, since they were playing Matchbox 20 on the speakers and my other friends would very rarely allow themselves to go there). It was good to see her, even in a setting where the small children in the booth behind me were always banging into my back through the seat.

I will close by saying that the combination of freelancing, working out, going to classes, and meeting up with people for dinner has made me so busy that I've been feeling what I can only describe as a little hum of happiness running through everything. Now I need to channel that happiness and that enjoyment of being busy into some massive writing; the Golden Heart deadline is three and a half weeks away, and the situation is beginning to get dire. So, off to bed, then to the gym, and then some writing this weekend. Goodnight!

Friday, November 05, 2010

the terror of history

Clear sign that I've been reading too much paranormal crap: tonight, for the second time in a week, I struggled to spell 'warehouse'. I kept trying to spell it 'werehouse' (like werewolf, werewhale, etc.), knew it was wrong, and then had to remember that a warehouse is a place for storing wares. I have a serious problem, friends.

Beyond that, today was definitely go-go-go -- I slept until 9ish, since I had not gotten nearly enough sleep the night before, and then did a bit of work for the freelance project I'm working on. I had a couple of errands to run after that, which meant that I had to grab a (surprisingly tasty) sandwich in the cafe at the gym and hastily swallow half of it before my 1pm training session. After the general evaluation yesterday and today's training session today, I am a) sore and b) in love with my trainer. My love is the fickle, platonic love that I have had for many people in the past, but right now it burns brightly with all the hope and promise of a new relationship. So, I went ahead and purchased a package of twenty-four training sessions with her, which is the equivalent of twice a week for the next three months, and is also the equivalent of the gross domestic product of my home county in Iowa (that is mostly a joke).

After I showered (Kiehl's hair products FTW!), I went over to one of the two Starbucks near my old employer, where I had coffee with Vickee, Ziv, Renee, Tolu, Tiffany, and Brittany. Observant long-time readers may recognize those names as belonging to people I worked with/managed on the team I was on before I went on leave in 2008, and they're dropping like flies; Ziv and Renee left long ago, and we had coffee today because Vickee's last day is tomorrow. It was great to see them and to reminisce -- and it's rather funny how little I've missed work since I left. In fact, I haven't missed it at all, which is both surprising and extremely gratifying, since I would be doubting my decision if I missed it.

I did about an hour of work when I got home from coffee, and then I dashed over to Stanford campus for the third night in a row, where I attended a free lecture called "Terror of History: Heresy and the Millennium in Late Medieval Europe". I am such a dork, but even though I was the youngest person in the audience by about twenty years (with the exception of a few people hanging out in the back who may have been forced to attend due to a class), I was enthralled, and I took four pages of notes. The professor teaches at UCLA, has a fabulous Cuban accent, and discussed Zoroastrianism, the Cathars (whom I went on and on about in a recent blog post about heretics in the Languedoc region of France), the Waldensians (another brand of heretics), and how the Christian/Jewish/Islamic notion of time having an "end" (i.e. millenium/apocalypse, paradise, etc.) is very different from the view of time as cyclical (Hindu, Buddhist, and my all-time favorites, the Mayans).

So yes, I'm a dork, but it was all v. fascinating to me, and I made so many notes because I think the roots for my gargoyle young adult romance novel lie somewhere in that time period. The lecture series (which was previously 1x/yr, but they're doing three lectures this year) is partially sponsored by a local group of amateur medieval history buffs, which I may not be dork enough to join yet, but by looking at their website I discovered that there's going to be a display of tombstone statues from the dukes of Burgundy on display in San Francisco next summer, which I'm more excited about than I should be. I also came straight home and ordered the professor's twelve-hour lecture series about "The Terror of History", which I'm looking forward to listening to at my leisure when I start researching to gargoyle book in earnest after the holidays.

Now, though, I desperately need to go to bed; I have some more freelance work to do tomorrow, and then I need to hole up and write my own stuff all weekend to make up for the fact that I was distracted by filthy lucre and sold out after only two weeks of unemployment. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

her kindness bangs a gong, it's moving me along

During the break in my magazine class tonight, my instructor asked how the writing/unemployment was going. I mentioned that I was doing a freelance project this week, and he said, "Now you're going to find out what it's like to be getting paid, which is awesome, but simultaneously resent the project that is taking you away from your own stuff."

Exactly.

I actually am really enjoying the project that I'm working on (which is a good thing, since I spent another five hours on it today, and the size of the project keeps spiraling as they keep thinking of more stuff that I can work on, so I've got at least five hours of work to do tomorrow as well). And while ten hours of freelance work is too soon to determine whether I would actually like to do it full-time for, like, ever and ever, it could turn out to be a great match for my normal work style, since it would give me a combination of crushing deadlines and complete flexibility.

But, I'm supposed to be writing a book right now, and the whole reason I quit my job was so that I could write. Yes, this project will pay for a few months' worth of gym membership, or half a pound of fancy organic produce at Whole Foods, but as I had already budgeted for those things, a paycheck is less vital to me right now than time is. So, I'm going to have to strike a balance, but if nothing else, this has taught me that it is in fact quite possible to write at my desk for five hours a day, which I intend to do starting this weekend (or as soon as the project is done, whichever comes first).

However, despite that, my day was quite good. I talked to the guy who hired me this morning, and he was quite happy with what I'd done so far (so much so that he intro'd me to the COO of the group to give me more work this afternoon). Then, I spent a couple of hours turning around his edits before eating lunch (I made myself my very own "baked potato Wednesday", since I don't require my employer's cafeterias to secure potato-based sustenance). After that, I went to the gym, where I had a complimentary evaluation session with a personal trainer. She was really, really good, and I clicked with her immediately; in addition to talking about goals, taking measurements, etc., she also watched me walk and do push-ups and squats to evaluate where and how things were out of alignment (and there were things out of alignment, which is no surprising given that I like to slouch onto my neck while sitting in a desk chair, and even now am typing this in a contorted non-yoga-approved position on my couch). I'm doing the second half (a workout) with her tomorrow, and then I think I might spring for some training sessions with her - so far I'm loving this gym, and it would be nice to take full advantage of it.

When I got home, I did a load of laundry (and talked to the girl whose mother lives in the garage; as you may recall, she's the sister of one of my favorite romance novelists ever, which is just bizarre), made some potato-leek soup (I do love my potatoes, and I have way too many of them sitting around right now), and did the reading for my magazine class. Then, I went to class, where they workshopped my piece (to mostly positive feedback, with some really helpful critiques/suggestions), came home, and worked for a couple of hours.

Tomorrow's shaping up to be much the same; I need to decide whether to go to a writing group tomorrow night or whether to attend a free lecture at Stanford on millenialism and the apocalypse in medieval times (medieval times the era, not Medieval Times the dining/entertainment experience, although I would probably like to learn about the apocalypse at Medieval Times as well). So, I should get some sleep -- goodnight!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

now we're rocking on the dance floor acting naughty

I've been unemployed less than three weeks, and yet I'm already starting to have days like when I used to have the day job. In other words, it's almost one a.m. and I'm working on my couch while watching television (in this case, the election returns, so that's not really a ritual). And, I'm getting paid for what I was working on; the freelance gig that I mentioned yesterday came through, and I spent about five hours on it today, with another call tomorrow to determine what else they want me to focus on. While I'm not exactly a salesperson, I did (mostly by sounding competent) upsell from just a straight editing/writing project to also designing a survey and possibly doing some more editing/content creation for them going forward.

So for all that I hadn't intended to start freelancing yet, this thing that I fell into was quite fortuitous and is making me think harder about setting up my business sooner rather than later. I'm still not going to push hard on it before the end of the year, since I want to finish my book first, but I should start pulling together a business plan, identifying possible markets to go into (such as website content creation, freelance copyediting for books/dissertations, freelance writing for blogs or magazines, consulting on creation vision/mission statements, etc.) and setting my target rates and income.

sssanyway, even though I worked for five hours on this project, I still managed to rearrange my living room for a furniture delivery (I got another bookcase), vote (fun but depressing), go to the gym (where I spent 50mins on a recumbent bike reading a couple of chapters from the book on blogging for the class that started tonight), grab something to eat, and then go to class from 6:30-9:30pm before coming back to work some more. The class is new -- it's on blogging, and I'm really impressed with it. It's going to force me to get into gear on setting my romance blog's brand and content themes so that I can start blogging there more regularly, and I think the class discussions are going to be v. interesting.

But now, I should probably sleep; I should get up in six or seven hours so that I can be fully awake for the call. Depending on how much I need to turn back around for the client, I also desperately need to write tomorrow, and I have my magazine class tomorrow night -- so sleep is essential. Goodnight!

Monday, November 01, 2010

kiss me goodbye, i'm defying gravity

I'm exhausted, so I'm going to go to bed in hopes of getting up early tomorrow and writing. The "getting up early" plan didn't work so well this morning, since I shut the alarm off and then failed to get out of bed -- but the rest of the day went swimmingly. My friend Gyre referred a client to me who is interested in getting some help with developing web content, and so I spent my morning writing time reading his site and developing some recommendations so that I was prepped with the call that we're doing tomorrow. Hopefully it works out; the timing is a little funny since I wasn't intending to start looking for freelance work until early next year (and so have no website or invoices or anything), but it doesn't hurt to start building my portfolio now if the guy decides to go with me.

I had gone to Starbucks to write when I got the message from Gyre's referral, and I had to come home to work on that stuff because the internet at Starbucks was quite slow. Then I had a peanut butter sandwich (mmm) and went to the gym -- I must say that it's a bit weird to watch Food Network while exercising, but it worked for me today. After showering at the gym (heavenly, again), I spent some quality time at Happy Donuts, where I reread bits and pieces to start getting back into Madeleine and Ferguson's story. I'm trying to decide whether to enter the Golden Heart this fall; I've already paid the entrance fee, so I might as well. But finaling or winning again wouldn't really help me, and I think I'm stuck right now because I really need to be making the grand push to the finish line, but if I'm going to enter, I need to clean up the first half and get it to the beta readers asap. Decisions, decisions.

Tonight was paradise supper club night, which meant I met Chandlord, John and Jess at Chaat Paradise. I would like to claim that I still hate the place, but I sadly, regretfully love it. We ate approximately $8 of food apiece, which was plenty, but we were in the mood for dessert -- and somehow ended up at Burger King, where Chandlord had a shake and frieds, John had a double cheeseburger, and I had crown-shaped chicken tenders. It was quite a strange end to a strange dinner, which I rather appreciated.

I grabbed some milk at Whole Foods on the way home, and then settled in at home and answered some email before reading through all the information on candidates/ballot propositions for tomorrow's election. I think I know how I'm voting, but I'm feeling meh about all of it -- I'm heartily sick of politics and don't think anyone has the courage in either party to really fix anything (and by "fix anything" I mean "figure out how to balance budgets and live within our means"). But, I'll still hold my nose and vote tomorrow.

Now, I'm off to bed -- goodnight!