Monday, February 28, 2011

i promised not to call but i lost all control and i need you now

I'm back, bitches. Not that my physical location matters so much to any of you, unless you actually live in the bay area and care to see me anytime in the near future, but it is nice to be home. It's amazing, though, how going away for a few days somehow both rejuvenated me and got me to do a whole ton of work -- I would do it more often, if spending money on a hotel in addition to paying rent in one of the most expensive areas of the country didn't seem like a supremely foolish thing for an unemployed person to do.

But, in this case it was worth it, even if the amount of work I did yesterday meant that I spent most of the day today wandering around in some sort of weird melty haze. Writing is like no other work I've ever done, in that it seems to consume some vital part of my energy that other activities leave untouched; and if I push really hard, at some point I come to the end of the line with that energy, and it saps everything else while trying to replenish itself. So that's how I felt all day today, although I managed to navigate the twists and turns of the road back up from Monterey without incident. I got home around two and forced myself to clean my house before sitting down, since I knew that if I didn't do it immediately, I wouldn't do anything about it for several days at least. Then, I talked to my parents, who seemed to be surviving the weather (which, as usual, made me feel guilty for being annoyed at the 50-degree weather we've been having here).

After I hung up with them, it was time for the Oscars, and I watched the whole telecast even though it was supremely boring. Really, I found most of it rather unenjoyable -- but since I had planned to watch it, I followed through anyway. Post-Oscars, I was too tired to edit, but I needed to finish judging Golden Heart entries, so I sat down and forced myself to read the remaining four entries. Two were at least well-written, even if they had too much backstory and so left me feeling like I hadn't gotten to the story yet; one was meh, and again almost all backstory (when the hero hasn't shown up in the first fifty pages, it's a problem); and one was so ridiculously awful that it felt like I was reading a poorly-written satire. I need to sit down and figure out the numerical scores to give tomorrow, but at least I'm done. With my house clean and the judging finished, the only tasks on my list this week are grocery shopping, laundry, and some quality time at the gym -- and beyond that, I should have plenty of time to finish editing my story so that I can get it out to the world.

But that requires sleep so that I am capable of seeing straight tomorrow, so it's time for bed. Goodnight!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

all the pandemonium and all the madness

I'm having trouble typing, which is a sign of how v. exhausted I am; my typing skill is usually one of the last things to go, long after I've reached the vomit stage when drinking or the fever and chills stage of an illness. However, I haven't had anything alcoholic in over a week, and I'm not sick -- unless the burning need to write is an illness, in which case I'm totally screwed. And I just tried to spell 'screwed' with a 'k', if that's any proof of the disconnect between my brain's language center and my fingers.

The reason I'm having trouble typing, and the underlying issue of why my language center is burned out, is that I spent the last fourteen hours editing zee romance novel, with a brief, uplifting break to read about concentration camps on Wikipedia (I need to write a dystopian young adult series someday, if only so that all the expertise I developed on totalitarian regimes and resistance movements in college can be put to some use beyond that honors thesis I knocked out in three days). The editing is deep and far-reaching, both line-by-line and chapter-by-chapter, which means that I've been analyzing every word and making minor changes while also deciding where to add/delete paragraphs or write entirely new sections. So, over the course of about twelve hours of work, I edited 150 pages -- approximately half the book, in the font and formatting that it's currently printed in. Unfortunately, that's the half of the book that I've edited before. In other words, while I'm happy with the changes I've made and glad that I took the time to revisit these pages, the second 150 pages are rougher and are thus going to take longer to edit.

But, I'll take the progress I made and be pleased with it. I did nothing else today; I walked a couple of blocks away to get a bagel for breakfast/lunch, did some of my editing at Peet's, did some more editing in the lobby of the hotel, and eventually returned there for dinner (which I edited through). Needless to say, I saw nothing new of Monterey, but I'm sure I'll be back someday, so that's just fine with me.

And now, I should really go to sleep; I need to get up in time to pack all my notebooks and toiletries so that I can check out and drive home, where I intend to edit again (or perhaps enter all these massive edits into my computer while watching the Academy Awards, since I can't do edits while watching television but I should be able to type again by then). Goodnight!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

running up that hill

It's time to go to bed, but I'm slightly distracted by the extreme squeaking of the bed in the room above me (which I assume is due to people have sex, not a poltergeist). So, I've been watching some Craig and teaching myself how to knit -- isn't that a lovely juxtaposition to whatever is going on upstairs?

Today was okay; I didn't get as much done as I should have because I got caught in another Wikipedia hole (my version of the Bermuda Triangle, which I fall into and lose all track of time and can't ever seem to extricate myself). I did get up and have lunch in a different part of town (Pacific Grove), at this cute little diner that I would have enjoyed more if I had remembered that I don't particularly like omelettes. I also stopped by a knitting supply store to get needles and a skein of yarn. Then, I worked on zee romance novel this afternoon and evening, making some more progress on Ferguson's storyline. I wasn't feeling quite as good about it today as I was yesterday, if only because the amount of work is rather daunting (not in terms of how much I have to do, but rather how to organize it so that I make the changes in an order that makes sense and doesn't create more work for me in the long run). But, I'm plowing forward, and I'm eager to get the latest changes knocked out so that I can move on with my life.

And with that, I have nothing else of interest to report, so I think I'll try to sleep. Goodnight!

Friday, February 25, 2011

take take take it all, but you never give

It's only a bit past midnight, but I think I need to go to bed. While progress on the manuscript has been mostly exhilarating today (with the exception of the two hours I lost somewhere on Wikipedia), it's an exhausting process -- I'm having to keep track of the macro edits necessary to make a 400-page story flow nicely, develop conflict appropriately, etc., while also noting the micro edits I will need to make to grammar, spelling, word choice, timing issues, and the like.

The result is that my printed copy of the manuscript now has notes in five different ink colors, with post-it tabs in three different colors jutting out from the top to tell me where to add/remove/substantially rewrite scenes. The light blue notes are what occurred to me last night as I was reading; the dark blue notes are transcribed from the comments I had made to myself in Scrivener (my writing software) and didn't choose to print on the manuscript earlier; the orange notes are what the beta readers thought of the first half; the green notes are plans to develop Ferguson's character; and the purple notes are changes I need to make to Madeleine. I suppose this doesn't count the shocking-pink to-do list written on the back of the last page, but that color won't go into the manuscript proper until my next pass (the forces working against Madeleine and Ferguson to keep them apart). And I still have to add red (the sexytimes pass to make sure they're having sex at the right times/in the right quantities/qualities, and that there's reasonable tension between them when sexytimes aren't happening). You really wanted to know that, right?

So anyway, the good news is that I think I finally have a handle on the dark, hidden heart of the issues each of them are resolving in this book. You'd think I would have figured that out, say, six months ago, but better late than never. It doesn't change much, but it will help to make their conflict more believable -- after all, he doesn't want to be a duke, and she doesn't want to be a duchess, and it's pretty hard to believe that given that I would likely agree to sacrifice at least one of my siblings (sorry, siblings) if I could be a duchess at the end of it (as long as the duchess was duchess of someplace cool, like Aquitaine or Sussex, and not, say, the duchess of Novosibirsk). And, my musings tonight revealed the reasons why their desire to avoid that kind of power/title might make sense.

Okay, I'm done talking about the book -- this isn't v. interesting to any of you, unless you read the first half as one of my beta readers (in which case you would rather have me writing the book instead of this blog so that you can finally read the ending). Suffice it to say that the editing is going well, and I think I'm going to emerge from this weekend with my sanity mostly intact.

Hopefully everything else emerges intact too; it's supposed to drop into the 20s in Palo Alto this weekend, which is unheard of. I almost wish I had chosen a different weekend to leave, since I may miss a v. rare snowfall in Palo Alto, but I'm committed to Monterey until Sunday morning. I also hope that nothing untoward happens with my house; I turned the heat down to 45, but luckily I didn't turn it off, so hopefully the pipes don't freeze. The very fact that I even thought about the risk of my pipes freezing feels absurd; I don't think it's dropped below freezing in the decade that I've lived out here, so this is all v. strange and bizarre.

And on that note, I should go to bed. I did walk around when I woke up (not an accomplishment, since I didn't get out of bed until after 11), and I made it down to the wharf, where I had a bowl of delicious cioppino (probably not Alyssa-approved, but steamed seafood with a tomato broth is closer to approved than the fried clams that I wanted instead) while looking out over the water. I also spent a couple of hours in the lobby of the hotel having dinner, where I brainstormed by the fire while eating and watching the solitary waitress dealing with an unexpected onslaught of diners. But if I can get up earlier tomorrow, I think I'll go have breakfast in a different neighborhood and perhaps check out a knitting store before buckling down to the writing -- wish me luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

please don't stop the music

So I'm in Monterey, and I accomplished the main task for tonight -- I did a full read-through of the current draft of zee romance novel. I procrastinated for a bit because I was afraid of what I might find, since it's a bit nervewracking to read my own stuff. And the verdict is that there are some things that I'm in love with, some things that I have a pretty good idea of how to fix, and some things that I will likely have to cut. I have a lot of work to do, but I feel mostly confident that it's work that I'm capable of doing.

That sounds like a fairly qualified 'yay', right? It's rather unfortunate that being a writer (or any type of artist) is probably the exact wrong career choice for a competitive perfectionist -- I should have stuck with the typing contests I won in high school. For all that I'm pleased with what I've written so far, I know that I will look back on it two years from now and hate it, in the same way that I can barely stand to look at Amelia and Malcolm's book now because I can only see the things that I would now do differently. But, I'm going to persevere -- the only way to get away from this book now is to finish it and move on to something else, and that's what I'm going to do.

The rest of the day was pretty good; I got up in time to go to the gym and have some lunch, and I made it out of my house by 1:30p.m. That put me into Monterey around 3:15, where I promptly checked into my hotel -- and I have to say that it's lovely. There's a great chaise lounge in my room that is unfortunately in a shadowy corner, but during the day the window over it gives enough light to work there. There's also a fireplace (gas, not wood), a v. comfortable bed, and an ergonomic chair for the desk -- in other words, everything I need for several days of editing/writing. After I checked in, I took a walk; the hotel is right on the edge of Old Monterey, so there are lots of restaurants and cafes and stuff around here. I found a cafe and judged a couple of Golden Heart entries (let's just say they went from bad to worse, sigh) over a cafe au lait. I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way back and got some snacky-snacks for my room -- in general, I can't complain about any hotel where I can walk to a grocery store within two blocks. Then, I came back and ate in the lobby restaurant; while there are other restaurants around, I don't think I could have beaten what I had here (taste-wise, I definitely could have; but the happy hour price for a 12" pizza was $5).

After dinner, I read my whole book, making notes as I went. I also took a pseudo-break at 11pm to watch tonight's episode of "Top Chef: All Stars", reading during the commercials since I couldn't fast forward through the commercials. I'm glad I watched it, since I would have been upset to have tonight's episode spoiled for me (although since I was upset about what happened, perhaps I shouldn't have watched it). And now, I think I should go to sleep; I need to leave the room at some point tomorrow if only so that the room can get cleaned, but I intend to spend all day tomorrow editing my little heart out. Goodnight!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

i wonder is this all there is

So suddenly, miraculously, and rather anti-climactically, I wrote fifteen pages and finished the latest draft of zee romance novel today. Yay! It still needs quite a bit of work (particularly the second half, which has never been touched by my editing pens -- and yes, I mean 'pens' plural, since I go a little crazy with colors/post-its/etc. while editing), but progress has definitely been made, and it suddenly feels like the end is sort of, almost in sight.

As I alluded to last night in my abbreviated blog post, I'm hightailing it out of town tomorrow and holing myself up in a secret location to edit for the next few days. It's probably not still considered a secret location if I tell you where it is (Monterey), but it's far enough away from my real life that I won't be tempted to procrastinated by friends, laundry, swiffering, cooking, working out, or any of the other million things that I usually have to take care of (and thus use as an excuse to stop writing). I'm driving down tomorrow and coming back Sunday, which should enable me to get through a major chunk of my edits and hopefully send something to my beta readers (you know who you are) by next week. I'm not going to lie and say that I intend to work twenty hours a day, since I'm sure I'll need to take some breaks, but since I've been to Monterey before, there isn't a compelling need to sightsee. I also chose a hotel with fireplaces in the rooms, which sounds super cozy and perfect for editing, so I'm excited about my temporary escape.

My packing for my temporary escape is perhaps weirder than any packing I've ever done, which is saying a lot -- I have one carry-on sized bag of clothes, and one carry-on sized duffel filled with books, paper, pens, highlighters, post-its, volumes of notes and scribbles that I've made about this book over the months, journals, a paper punch, and a printed copy of my manuscript. The books include "Titles and Forms of Address", the Chicago Manual of Style, and a couple of all-purpose books about the Regency, so hopefully I'm stocked well enough to avoid any major research problems.

I'm also taking my Kindle, which may be slightly dangerous. I actually tried the Kindle app for my Android phone for the first time today (while at the car wash, which was vitally necessary since the inside of my car had become so dusty that the windshield was no longer safe to see out of) and surprisingly loved it. I picked back up with Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", which is sort of a meditation on the relationship between his long-distance running (he runs a marathon every year) and his writing. I had put the book aside at some point a year ago because it was too sleep-inducing for whatever I was doing then -- but now, as I'm both trying to write full-time and going to the gym more often, I'm seeing things in it that I failed to see before. So, the Kindle goes along, and I suspect I'll do some reading when my eyes start to cross from editing.

Beyond all that, today was lovely in its own right. I made it to the gym in time to train with Alyssa, since I sadly won't see her again until next week. Then, I ate lunch, got my car washed, got the oil changed, came home, took a nap, and then went to Starbucks. Between Starbucks and home, I wrote for several hours and cranked out the end of this draft just in time to leave for a friendship renewal dinner at Sura Sushi with Tolu, Joann and Jane. They were entertaining, as always, and it's great that we have this dinner on calendar for every six weeks so that we get together without having to plan it. Then I came home, printed out the rest of my manuscript, packed, etc.

Even though it's only eleven, I think I'm going to read for a little bit and go to bed. I don't need to leave early tomorrow, since I don't think I can check in very early and Monterey is less than two hours away when it's not rush hour, but I want to go to the gym before I leave, so I suppose I should get some sleep. Goodnight!

you'd still enjoy it with your foot on masada

This post will be v brief indeed - my router is failing to route, and so I'm typing this on my phone, which has already gotten old. Nothing of interest happened today/ I slept too late, went to the gym, and generally procrastinated from the end of the book that is tantalizingly within my grasp. Tomorrow will be better, though, since I recentered myself by writing in my journal. I also decided to take an impromptu long weekend trip to Monterey, since I was able to get a fabulous deal on a hotel and want to indulge my growing desire to run away before it becomes so strong that I feel the need to move to Cambodia.

But now, I need to sleep; Alyssa and the final scene of my novel await
Goodnight!

Monday, February 21, 2011

you're gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul

I've got v. little of interest to report today, but skipping a post won't help me to get to a million words on my blog, so I'll try to bang out something. As you may have guessed, I didn't just go to bed last night; I picked up a book, and of course stayed up and finished it, so I didn't go to sleep until after two a.m. Sadly, the book was not particularly satisfying -- it had a fallen angel theme that could have been interesting, but there was something just a little bit off about the storytelling that I couldn't put my finger on. Also, while sex scenes in romance novels are absurdly perfect (I usually just suspend disbelief and roll with it), apparently fallen angels wrap their wings around you when it's all over, which I found difficult to a) appreciate, even though perhaps it would be like a nice down comforter and b) understand, since the dude wasn't walking around with wings, they just sort of magically appear out of nowhere whenever he wants to fly or wrap a girl up in them.

But I can't go on about this any longer or I'll make myself seem even weirder than you already know I am. Needless to say, I didn't get out of bed until almost noon -- but luxuriating in my wonderful bed was worth all the work of yesterday. I showered, made myself some eggs and toast for breakfast (eggs over easy with toast are one of life's simplest, wonderfulest pleasures), procrastinated for a couple of hours, and then called my parents, who had remarkably little to report (no weather disasters, no deaths, no animal disappearances -- quite boring, really). Then, I wrote three pages of zee romance novel, which positions me to potentially (gasp) finish it off tomorrow and start revisions in earnest.

I didn't attempt to finish it tonight, though; instead, I went to San Jose to have dinner at Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Salim's new place (and by new I mean they bought it six months ago, but I hadn't been there before). I had a fantastic time; their place is lovely, even if it's not fully put together yet, and they made a feast fit for a carnivore. Basically, I just had steak and salmon with a few roasted tomatoes for vegetable propriety. Dessert was blueberries and cool whip (Heather is a midwesterner too, so things like cool whip aren't anathema to her). Heather and I caught up on books and life while Salim was out grilling, and then the three of us ate together and reminisced about India, etc. After dinner, we retired to the living room and watched some television, which was just fine by me, and I left sometime after eleven. Then I came home and lost myself in a wikipedia rabbit hole for a couple of hours, and now that I've escaped, I need to go to bed before I get sucked in again. Goodnight!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

it's a little too late to say that you're sorry now

I'm utterly wiped out, but happily, I can luxuriate in my beautiful, freshly made (and built) bed. I finally shamed myself into tackling the wasteland that my bedroom had become; there were several rounds of clean laundry that were slowly becoming dirty laundry piled up on the floor, boxes that I had never unpacked from my move (nine months ago), and the bedframe and lamps that I ordered ages ago and never bothered to put together. This wasn't the project I had intended to tackle today -- instead, I thought that I was going to judge the entries that I need to judge for the Golden Heart, since scores are due in ten days. But, I took the entries with me when I went out to brunch...

...but first, lemme back up to the beginning. Adit and Chandlord both stayed over last night, and Adit left around seven to make it to the airport for his flight back to the east coast. I could hear Chandlord moving about in the living room, so I went out to say hi to her, and we ended up talking in the rainy sunshine (that's the way we roll in Cali) until she left around 8:30. I promptly went back to bed, slept until eleven, and eventually dragged myself out of bed. Deciding that I didn't want to eat anything that I currently have in my fridge, I decided to have a late brunch at Joanie's Cafe on California Ave., by which point it was raining again in earnest. And now, back to the previous paragraph...

So I took the entries with me when I went out to brunch, picked up the one that intrigued me the most based on a quick scan of the first pages of all six that I have to judge, and read about a third of it while eating a mexican scramble and warming up with some coffee. Let's just say that the entry I read did not make me look forward to judging the rest of my packet. I'm not judging my competition (I'm judging paranormal, not regency), but I'm not the world's most forgiving reader, so hopefully this entry or some of the others pick up steam.

As a result, I didn't feel like sitting around judging entries all afternoon. When I got home, I discovered that my neighbor's daughter was, for once, not occupying the garage, and so I decided to do laundry. And once I decided to do laundry, I decided to tackle the whole bedroom. So, I put together the bedframe (not the easiest task to do alone, but it turned out beautifully), put together the bedside table things that have been sitting in my trunk for the last three months (white particle board -- I went with function over form, which works for now), unpacked the lamps that go on either side of the bed, did three loads of laundry, changed the sheets on my bed, hung up everything that didn't need to be laundered (and everything that came out of the laundry), and generally tidied up.

So, after eight hours of solid effort (with a break to watch some "Jeopardy!" while eating cereal), my bedroom looks great. Unfortunately, that required trashing my living room, since I have a ton of cardboard/styrofoam that I need to recycle, but that can wait until tomorrow or Monday. I'm super excited to have lamps in my bedroom, though -- this means I can read in bed for the first time since moving in! And that, my friends, may mean that I'll never leave my bed again.

Now, I should figure out whether to go to bed, read a book, or try to do some writing -- I think I'm too mentally wiped out to write now, but I'm afraid that if I start to read something, I'll stay up too late as per usual and squander my writing time tomorrow. Decisions, decisions. Regardless of my decision, I'm signing off from the blog now -- goodnight!

i know way too many people here right now that i didn't know last year

I don't even know what to say about today. It was generally quite good; I didn't do as much during the day as I intended because I slept until almost eleven, and so I didn't make it to the gym. However, I did write about six pages this afternoon, which was respectable. Chandlord showed up around 4:30, and we had lattes using my stovetop espresso maker before doing some more work. Doesn't that sound charming?

The reason that Chandlord came to my place rather than taking her freedom and going someplace more interesting was that we had plans for dinner with John and Jess. Jess wanted to go to Sephora with me, and so we agreed to go to the Stanford Shopping Center for dinner, followed by a Sephora trip. The timing was planned so that John and Chandlord could both escape the Sephora part of the adventure, but that required eating at the mall, which required making the best of a series of bad choices. That meant that we ate at the Creamery, which is an overpriced diner-type experience. e were having quite a lovely time when things suddenly picked up even more -- Adit showed up, after having spent an hour and a half driving down from the city in the pouring rain (which has been going on all day, much to my dismay). He had called Vidya and me earlier and learned about our upcoming dining experience, and so he came down here and decided to spend the night at my place as a result (yay).

So the five of us had a fine old time at the Creamery, and Jess and I took a v. quick break to go to Sephora. I escaped Sephora after spending the least that I have ever spent at Sephora ($10) -- granted, that's partially because I returned something that they were nice enough to take even though I had bought it before Christmas, but still, I walked out with one item (tinted moisturizer, which is what I'd gone in for) rather than all the stuff I would normally buy. Ah, funemployment. But, I sold Jess on tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, and concealer, so at least I lived vicariously through her.

After dinner, everyone somehow ended up coming to my place (Adit because he was staying here, John and Jess because they had nothing better to do, and Chandlord because I shamelessly begged her to). We opened a bottle of wine and then somehow ended up watching "Eurotrip" (which I adore - I first saw it in a theatre with Walter (the Talbotross), and have it on DVD so that I can watch it whenever I desire). John, Jess and I had all seen it before and so were preemptively laughing at jhokes that were yet to come; Adit had seen it before and mostly ignored it this time; and Chandlord hadn't seen it before and didn't seem to think it was quite so uproariously entertaining as I did. So anyway, the movie entertained me, and by the time it was over, Chandlord was too tired to drive home, so she's staying on my loveseat while Adit sleeps on my couch.

We ended the evening by playing some games; Adit and Jess edited a Wikipedia page while John and I tried to shoot empty soda cans off one of the ceiling beams in my living room with rubber bands. I love the ceiling beams normally, since they add character; but since John can reach my ceiling beams and I can't, there are currently a pair of my Uggs, a canister of oatmeal, and an onion sitting up on a beam that I'm going to have to retrieve sometime tomorrow. Also, John and Adit both attempted to write computer programs to count the number of words on my blog, since I had guessed a million the other day; before they wrote the program, we all guessed how many words there actually were, but it turns out that I overestimated. My earlier posts were apparently shorter on average than my later posts, and so I've only written approximately 800,000 words here. I am so sorry for the deceit, my friends.

So after the excitement of shooting things off the beams and watching "Eurotrip", John and Jess left, Chandlord has already fallen asleep, and I should go to bed so that Adit can sleep and wake up in time for his flight back to the east coast tomorrow morning. Goodnight!

Friday, February 18, 2011

back from the dead like i'm machiavelli

I'm going to try to go to bed early tonight - and before you laugh at me and say that I often say that and then end up staying up for another two hours, I will preemptively acknowledge your criticism and say that this time I shall prove you wrong (I think). I had an excellent day, though, and I'm eager for the weekend (even if the weekdays and weekends all blur together at this point). I made it into the gym in time for my ten a.m. training session with Alyssa, whom I adore more with each passing week. We did a full reassessment today -- while we had talked about goals and all that fun stuff last week, we had agreed to do the reassessment this week. The training programs they do are pretty effective, in my fairly unstudied opinion; she reassesses all her clients every six weeks to track weight, body fat, measurements, core strength, etc. We couldn't do measurements because all the tape measures had disappeared, but in the last six weeks I've lost five pounds, gained a pound of lean muscle, and doubled the amount of time that I can hold a plank (and that means holding myself straight like a plank on my toes and forearms, not holding a piece of wood). So much for feeling like it took me a long time to get back into things after coming back from Iowa -- or rather, if it did take me awhile, at least I didn't derail my progress too much.

After we reassessed, she trained me for the rest of the hour, I did a bit of cardio afterward, and I made it home a little before noon. I made myself a sandwich, caught up on twitter, and then proceeded to write for awhile. I had to take a break to run some errands, but I managed to write four pages this afternoon, which I'll take (particularly since I think they were decent pages, so I'm not worried about scrapping them). Around six, Tammy (aka Taaaammmehhh) texted -- she was in town for the day before going up to Tahoe with her boyfriend for the long weekend, and we had agreed to hang out. She originally asked me to meet her in Palo Alto for coffee before dinner, since she was hanging out in downtown PA with her sister -- but, since it was raining heavily and her sister had biked to downtown from Stanford campus, she asked me if I could take her sister home. I said yes, but the trip to get to downtown PA (which normally takes 10mins) was nearly doubled by an accident at Embarcadero and El Camino and another accident on University in the Caltrain underpass. It was raining quite heavily, and Californians can't drive in the rain, so there were accidents all over the place -- another reason why I'm thrilled not to be living in the city and commuting down here anymore.

So I retrieved them from PA, took her sister back to Stanford, and put my foot down over going back to downtown for dinner. Instead, we met her boyfriend at Left Bank in Menlo Park. I am uncertain whether I still like that place; my steak was tasty, but the service tonight was pretty terrible, and was not very good the last time I was there either. It was great to see Tammy, even if only for a couple of hours, and I'm going to have to make a trip to Boston sometime, since she's been out there two years and Claude's been out there forever and I still haven't visited.

After dinner, I came home, debated writing, and instead watched last night's episode of "Top Chef: All-Stars". I don't want to spoil it for any of you who watch it (but since this blog is mostly read by my parents, who only watch CBS and don't have cable anyway, perhaps it doesn't matter), but I will say that I found myself strangely sad to see someone go home tonight, given that I had hated that person all through their original season and this one -- but it was almost like a hero redeemed, tragically, too late to actually survive. And now that I'm seeing everything as a romance novel and finding stories in everything, it's clear that my hermitville is starting to go to my head. If that means it's easier to write, then I welcome the insanity. And on that note, goodnight!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

steady as she goes

I need to go to bed immediately, particularly since I read approximately seven hundred pages today (and wrote zero - not that I'm regretting it, since I'm high off the pleasure of others' storytelling). My day was a glorious wash; I made it into the gym in time to do cardio and shower before doing a stretching session with Art, who abused my muscles in an effort to get them behaving like normal-people muscles instead of cripple-muscles. Then, I came home, ate a v. belated lunch, finished the book I started last night, and then contemplated writing. But first, I decided to make dinner -- a beef and portobello mushroom stew from the cookbook my parents gave me for Christmas, to which I added an underlying foundation of mashed potatoes. The stew turned out excellently, although it would have been just a touch better if the beef had been fresh instead of slightly freezer-burned.

I intended to write after dinner, but Adit called while I was cooking to inform me that he was coming over. I'd already poured one glass of wine to drink with my stew (since wine was an ingredient in the stew and I didn't want to totally waste the rest of it), but after surviving an hour with Adit, I certainly needed another one. It was good to see him, and I'm looking forward to having him back in the area permanently. But let's just say that after he said "your hair looks better; what did you do to it?", I was definitely in need of the sweet elixer of alcohol -- because what I did to it was pull it into a ponytail mess while it was still sopping wet at the gym and pull my bangs over the top of my hair with barrettes to keep it out of my face, since I didn't have time to dry any of it between cardio and my stretching session with Art. I find it hard to believe that my disheveled, bangless look is better than when it's been properly dried, but apparently I am wrong.

So anyway, Adit eventually took his leave, and since I was pleasantly warmed by the delightful combination of wine and rage, I decided to read another book. Kresley Cole's DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR released yesterday and arrived on my doorstep the same day because I'd preordered it months ago -- she's the only writer I'm currently preordering with such dedication. I should have written tonight, but I couldn't put it off any longer, and of course I read the entire 500-page book in one sitting. This is one I may have to go back to and savor again another time; the hero in this book was the villain in the last one, and I didn't see how she was going to redeem him, but she managed it. And, there was enough information about other things going on in the series (this one is number nine, I believe) that I'm now desperate for the next one. I love books like that, and can only hope that someday I'll write them myself.

But, that requires, you know, writing, and I suppose that requires that I get some sleep so that I can accomplish something tomorrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

my love is my engine and you might be fuel

This is my two thousandth post! If I average 500 words a post (which is purely an estimate - I write some epics here, but I also occasionally post pictures), that means I've written one million words on this blog. I don't know whether to be proud of my accomplishment, or vaguely horrified that I have shared so much. In any event, tanks for the memories. The blog has been my constant companion through most of my twenties, and it will be interesting to see whether it carries on into my thirties and beyond. I guess I can't quite picture myself blogging every day from my nursing home (although given what's going on with "Jeopardy!" this week, the machines are going to take over long before I reach decrepitude), but I also can't picture when, exactly, I would decide to hang up my blogging shoes (even if it would free up twenty minutes every night).

Anyway, today was a lovely day, even if it is rainy, windy, and generally gloomy. I made it into the gym in time to work out with Alyssa, which did a lot to soothe some of my frustration from yesterday. I also lied to you last night when I said I was going to bed; instead, I stayed up until after one a.m. rereading one of my favorite Johanna Lindsey books from way back in the day, when storylines were more epic and heroes could get away with calling the heroines "flaxen-haired wenches" in every other paragraph. So I came home from the gym around 12:30, ate a salad, spent an hour checking up on the online world, and then decided to take a nap. Much to my surprise, I slept for two hours. At some point in there, I'm almost positive that I shouted at a raccoon -- I believe the shout was real, but whether the raccoon was real, part of my dream, or a squirrel that I mistook for a raccoon outside my window is utterly unknown.

So I eventually woke up, made myself some tea, and then called Katie; she had attempted to reach me yesterday, but I was at the grocery store when she called, and then she was going home to whatever it is that married people do on Valentine's. But tonight was better for both of us, and we talked for almost an hour -- v. necessary, since we hadn't talked since January and I haven't seen her in person since the memorable evening when she, her husband, and her sister came over to my parents' house to hang out with Adit, Omar, and my brother (which is so bizarre that I can't still believe it happened). She tried to convince me to finish my damn book by regaling me with tales of some horrendous nightmare of a romance novel that she's been reading -- and I suppose she was successful, since I ended up writing after I got off the phone with her.

The grand total for today was 2147 words (about 8.5 pages), which was wonderful. I'm still not done with the masquerade scene, but I'm getting closer (and the scene is probably 35 pages long anyway -- several things happen at the masquerade, so it's not an easy scene to knock off). I also talked to Terry for an hour and a half tonight, and then I sloughed off at eleven to do some reading, which was probably better than forcing myself to stare at the computer any longer.

And now, I'm done for the day -- it's two a.m., and while I technically don't have to be anywhere until one p.m. tomorrow (I'm doing a stretching session with Art, the one who examined me like a used-car salesman and then worked wonders to realign everything), I want to get up in time to go to the gym, work out and shower before I see him, so I should really get some sleep. Goodnight!

Monday, February 14, 2011

i will turn your face to alabaster

The first six or seven hours of today were pretty much a wash, and I don't really want to talk about it - finishing this book could well be the hardest thing I've ever done. So anyway, because the food situation is getting pretty dire here (really, having to feed myself every meal + snacks without recourse to a free gourmet cafeteria is a bit of a drag), I finally took a break around four p.m. and went to the grocery store, where I stocked up on the items necessary to feed myself for at least the rest of the week. Of course, as soon as I chose to leave the house, that's when people started calling me -- Vidya asked what I was doing tonight, Katie called (and I wasn't able to call her back because I went to dinner), and then my uncle called as I was pulling into my driveway, and we caught up for a bit as I put my groceries away.

Shortly thereafter, Chandlord came over and we had a 5:30pm dinner at Palo Alto Sol, thus beating the V-day crowds (although perhaps Palo Alto Sol wasn't the top Valentine's destination anyway, even if it's tasty enough to be). We caught up over enchiladas, then came back to my place and watched television for an hour and a half - an episode of "How I Met Your Mother", tonight's "Jeopardy!" battle between Watson and the two humans (verdict: the apocalypse is coming), and an episode of "30 Rock". Then, Chandlord left to have drinks, I stayed home with the intention of working - and instead watched "The Bachelor" (stupid), read a 26-page article in the New Yorker on Scientology (double stupid), and am considering going to bed early so that I can get something done before going to the gym tomorrow.

So that's all - I will do something to vanquish my book tomorrow, since all this anxiety and subsequent procrastination is getting a little bit ridiculous. Goodnight!

she wrote me a letter said she couldn't live without me no more

I had an okay day today, and any failure from a productivity standpoint has been more than made up for by how good my hair smells. That's surely going to help sell some books, right?

So I got out of bed sometime after eleven, made some oatmeal, and showered (thus the sweet-smelling hair - the shampoo I got for home almost rivals the stuff I use at the gym). Then, I took care of some stuff online before making myself lunch (at 2:30 p.m., which is the consequence of breakfast at noon). I used my steamer for the first time and steamed a sweet potato, which I would never have tried had I not enjoyed my first steamed sweet potato experience at John and Jess's house a couple of weeks ago. The combo of steamed sweet potato and some chicken made for a winning lunch. Then, I placed my usual Sunday afternoon call to my parents, who seemed reasonably chipper - it's been sunny in Iowa and the snow is starting to melt, which makes for a much happier tone of voice (at least for my father, who actually has to venture out regardless of the weather).

After talking to my parents, I sat down at my desk to work on zee romance novel -- and I'm stuck. There's something about the scene that isn't working, which is why I'm avoiding it, and I know from bitter past experience that I have to figure out what's wrong rather than trying to muscle through it. So, after cleaning my desk and doing any number of things to try to give my subconscious a chance to work, I ended up deciding to print out the entire rest of the manuscript so that I can edit it thoroughly and, in the process, try to figure out what the problem is with the end. I'm going to have to edit the rest of it anyway, so I might as well be editing while I'm mulling over the end, right?

Somewhere in there, my brother called to discuss graduation plans, and we had a v. early-phase discussion on a possible road trip the midwest (either Oklahoma or Iowa) back to California. The southern route would enable us to visit the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, and we could also drive through Tucumcari (a v. rare destination on the Rail Baron board); the northern route would likely take us to Yellowstone. Given that we each spend approximately 5% of our time outdoors, I'm not entirely sure why we're planning a trip that involves neither shopping (for me) or restoring cars/remodeling houses (for him), but I would like to see more of the Great American West than the boring stretches of I-80 that I've driven five times. So, if all goes according to plan, perhaps I'll have some exciting blog posts to share in May, since I fully expect one of us to drown if we take my suggestion to raft down the Colorado River (and in case I'm the one who drowns, I'll write an appropriately maudlin post in my honor and leave it for someone else to put up).

While we talked, I printed out my entire manuscript, and then hole-punched it and put it into a notebook for ease of reference. By the time I finished that and ate something, it was well after eight o'clock - and rather than start editing then, I decided to quit for the night with the goal of getting to bed by midnight so that I can get up and edit with the whole day ahead of me tomorrow. It would help to read the whole thing in one sitting, and it would be better to do that when I'm not on the verge of falling asleep. So, I put the manuscript away, and then spent a couple of hours playing with my romance blog; I drafted a post for Wednesday, since I've realized that I'm going to have to draft those posts ahead of time. They're too involved to write at the last second before posting them, since they require research and much more editing than I do here if I'm trying to get people to think that I can write.

Speaking of that blog, though, please check out my romance blog today - it includes some utterly ridiculous valentine's poems from 1812 (including one that compares a lady to the softest kid-leather), and in honor of the occasion (and because I'm going to try to jumpstart some readership by mentioning it on twitter), I'm giving away a $15 amazon giftcard to a random commenter on the romance blog. So, leave me a valentine there to be eligible to win, and I will love you forever for it. (I'll probably love you forever anyway, but if you've ever had concerns about the fickle nature of my heart, here's a way to assuage your fears).

And now, goodnight! Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

the never-ending why

I don't particularly feel like blogging, probably because I've been blogging for the past five hours, and you aren't going to reap any of the benefits of that here. In my continued procrastination with finishing my book, I've decided to get my romance blog fully up and running, with regular posts and everything. There is rationale for this; I want the blog to have signs of life (and comments, but at least regular posts from myself will do) for several months leading up to when my agent starts shopping the book. If we do go out with it in April, that's only six weeks away (ugh) -- so getting some content up there is becoming urgent.

Luckily, switching hosts seems to be working well -- I've got the blog up the way I want it, and if nothing else, the backend performance is so much faster that working with Wordpress is a dream compared to the previous loadtimes. So, I spent the evening drafting several posts -- a few that I put up (some retroactively to feign earlier activity), and a couple for the coming week (including a v. good one on Valentine's Day -- which will include a chance to win an Amazon giftcard, so you should check it out then). Those posts take way longer than these do, since I have to research the romance posts, while y'all seem to read (or at least skim, looking for your own name before closing in disgust) any tripe that I put up here.

Beyond the blog, the rest of the day was fine; I slept until eleven (which I predict I will do again tomorrow, since it's currently after two a.m. here), then got dressed (in jeans that now fit properly again, thanks to Alyssa, and no thanks to the binge drinking I did while living with Adit) and had brunch at the counter of Joanie's Cafe since I'm out of groceries. I came home, but then decided that I wanted a Starbucks iced tea, and it was so nice out that I walked there and back. Then, I came home, procrastinated a bit, and then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening cleaning up my romance email aliases, website, blog, etc., etc. I did take a slight break to watch some 'Restaurant: Impossible' (from the same dude who is the chef on 'Dinner: Impossible'), which was utterly disgusting, since he was cleaning up a restaurant that was beyond filthy (including dead mice under their appliances). But, as that wasn't v. uplifting, I switched the tv off and focused the rest of the night.

However, my eyes are no longer capable of focusing after this long on the computer, and I should really get some sleep if I'm going to get anything done tomorrow. Goodnight!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

you're in the mud in the maze of her imagination

I should have gone to sleep as soon as I got home, rather than playing with the romance site again -- but, I had a thought on how to fix a minor annoyance I was having, and in the process of that realized that I was no longer getting mail to my site's accounts, and so I decided to take the time to fix the mail tonight in case anyone tries to contact me (which they won't, but I need it to be able to retrieve passwords when signing up for business-related activities).

The day got off to a late start, which isn't a surprise since I stayed up until almost two last night. I proceeded to work straight through the day (after cleaning my kitchen and making some oatmeal), all of it on getting my romance blog up and running. It seems to be okay and seems to be loading faster, but we'll see. I took a break around two to go to the gym, then came home and worked on the website until six. Then, it was time to scurry up to the city of sin -- Chandlord and I had agreed to have a drink before going to Jess's singing recital, and so I picked her up and drove her across the city to the Sunset, where Jess's performance was taking place in a Presbyterian church.

However, when we got to the neighborhood (and I scored parking half a block away without even trying), we realized we didn't care for the one bar we saw next to us, and so we sat in my car for half an hour, talking and eventually asking each other ridiculous questions about what we preferred of all the things around us (which brought back fond memories of how Walter and I would play the question game for hours on end -- he certainly humored me better than most people I know). Then, we went to the recital, but we made a tactical error by not listening to Jess's suggestion of when to show up. She said that we should come late (v. late), but because all we were doing was sitting in my car, we were only ten minutes late. We caught the vocal instructor's welcoming speech, and then sat through an hour and a half of vocal pieces. Some of them were truly good (Jess was one of them, the guy she sang a duet with was another -- if not the best singer ever, still quite entertaining), but it was a long time to sit if there were pieces that didn't interest you.

But, Jess's singing was lovely, so I'm glad that we went. We snuck out sometime during the second half, went back to Chandlord's, and thought about watching a movie -- but as Vidya proceeded to fall asleep almost immediately, I came home instead. It's probably for the best, since I need to get some sleep so that I can write tomorrow -- and since it's now almost two a.m., I'm guessing tomorrow will start late as well. Goodnight!

Friday, February 11, 2011

hootie hoo

I was v. productive today, but again did no writing. However, I did make it through almost an entire book on Regency society, and I swung by Stanford library to pick up a few more books that I had to request from the bowels of the auxiliary library. After reading the book that I read today, I think I have enough information to draft the scene that I've been avoiding, so that's what is on the docket for tomorrow (in addition to an evening trip to the city of sin, where I will pretend that I'm young and fresh instead of old and hermity).

The day started out on a decent note; I made it into the gym in time for my ten a.m. appointment with Alyssa. Working out at ten has proven to be the fix for my workout nausea, since I was totally fine today. Alyssa and I reassessed my goals, set targets, etc., which was a useful exercise, since it's a lot easier to say "I will do x this week" rather than "I will do y over the next six months". Even though I know that weekly goals are more manageable than yearly goals, I tend to set the big, dramatic goals instead -- witness my writing, which would be moving much faster if I set a daily wordcount goal (and stuck to it) rather than a yearly target of writing x books. So we'll see how the goals work, and I think it's time to revisit my writing goals as well (after I finish the masquerade scene, since goal-setting at the wrong time can just be another form of procrastination).

So I got home around 12:30, ate lunch, and then read for most of the afternoon. Around four, I went over to the library to pick up my books, then came home and read some more before eating supper (the last of the leftover chicken bouillabaisse). After that, I started messing around with my webhosting again, so if the romance website is down intermittently over the next couple of days, now you know why. I also caught up on last night's Top Chef: All-Stars, which I perhaps didn't appreciate fully because I was working while watching and so didn't get that into it (but it also seemed a little boring -- it's more fun when it's a team competition and they all hate each other). And now, I think I'll go to bed -- I have to go to the gym tomorrow, write the masquerade scene, and make it up to the city in time for some socializing with Chandlord before Jess's singing concert. Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

pope of anything

I failed to write again today, and this time I am disappointed in myself. I theoretically could have written; I had an absolutely free day, other than dinner plans, and I intended to get all sorts of stuff accomplished. However, because I had three (or maybe four, or perhaps five) glasses of wine last night with dinner (the advantage/disadvantage of hosting is that I don't have to worry about driving home), I slept late and awoke with a raging headache. It was therefore after noon before I felt restored enough to even contemplate doing anything, and the first order of business was to clean my kitchen. This wasn't a horrendous task (at least I have a dishwasher, rendering it much easier than similar dinner parties that I attempted while living with Adit before promptly giving up on the idea of dinner parties when I realized how much I hated washing plates and silverware). But, it was still time-consuming enough, particularly since I wanted to clean everything before having another dinner guest tonight (more on that in a moment). Then, I procrastinated some more because I didn't feel like going to the gym, and by the time I forced myself to go to the gym, it was three o'clock.

However, at least I went; Alyssa will have one thing to be proud of me for tomorrow, since my close encounters with truffle butter, soft cheese, and ever-flowing wine over the past two days will not please her. After I showered, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to get some snacky-snack type things for tonight's dinner. My dinner guest was Heather (aka dear respected madam); we were supposed to go out tonight, but when I saw the amount of leftover chicken bouillabaisse last night, I promptly invited her over for (upscale) leftovers. This was brilliant, since the bouillabaisse was still delicious, she could come over at her leisure, and we ended up talking for three hours (which never would have happened in a restaurant).

But, my weird guilt issues meant that I felt bad just serving her leftovers with nothing else, even if the bouillabaisse was a step above the leftovers that are normally in my fridge. So, I made a couple of platters of snacky-snacks -- one had hummus, olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and the other had cheese, dates, apples, and blackberries. This is all stuff I usually have on hand (other than the cheese, because I love it too much), so it was no big deal -- but I made the tomatoes special by roasting them with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and sugar, which immediately transforms them from boring, out-of-season supermarket tomatoes to orgasmically delicious best-tomatoes-you-will-ever-eat tomatoes. The fact that we ate eight tomatoes between the two of us without blinking is a pretty good indication of how great they are. So, when I got home at five, I had just the right amount of time to make the tomatoes, set the table, chop things up and organize the platters, and do some desultory twitter checking before Heather showed up.

Heather was in fine form, and she came bearing gifts -- an adorable tea set, with a little red teapot, two mugs, and two teapot-shaped saucers that are ridiculously cute. We proceeded to eat, not drink (thank goodness -- she had water, I had tea), and be merry, mostly while discussing what we've read recently, what we want to read, and what we would absolutely, categorically never recommend to anyone. She left a little before ten p.m., and I proceeded to flush the next two hours down the drain, since it felt too late to get started writing.

So, bleh. I have no dinner guests tomorrow night, so I'm going to go to bed right now, get up and take care of my procrastinating before going to the gym for my training session, and then write the rest of the day, scout's honor. Goodnight!

2004 B.C.

I did no writing today, but I don't feel like it was at all wasted either. Obviously, since I stayed up until after two a.m. (and then slept poorly since I was drinking tea until five minutes before bedtime), I struggled to get up by nine -- and the only reason I got up at nine was so that I could make it into the gym for my ten a.m. training session with Alyssa. She tried to kill me with a variety of exercises involving medicine balls, resistance bands, etc., but I managed to survive. It felt more deadly if only because I was wearing sweats rather than proper moisture-wicking garb -- I was in worse shape laundry-wise than I thought I was, and so was wearing a ridiculous get-up to the gym. So, after I showered and grabbed a salad from their cafe, I immediately came home and did a batch of laundry.

While doing laundry, I was once again struck by how random it is that my next door neighbor is the sister of one of my favorite romance novelists. The sister is doing an art project for the author, and was saying how she needs to do some research since she doesn't know Regency fashion. So, helpful/dorky person that I am, I loaned her my book on 19th century English fashion -- even if I never ever meet the author, it's still cool to think that perhaps my book will in some small way influence some art for her. Yes, I'm crazy.

Over the course of the morning, I somehow ended up agreeing to host a dinner party tonight (the semi-regular Blood of Lincoln gathering). Jess and John sort of invited themselves over, since they were already going to be in the area, although we initially discussed doing takeout. However, I like to cook, don't get to cook anything more exciting than white chili very often, and so decided to make a sumptuous feast. Because the Chandlord was also going to be in attendance, I made two dishes: the chicken bouillabaisse that I made (with great success) for Katrina and Kirsten a few weeks ago, and the truffle butter pasta that is one of my old, tasty standbys.

So, I went to the grocery store and picked up the requisite ingredients for the feast, got home around 4:30, and began cooking. I'd made the bouillabaisse before, as mentioned above, but this one did not go quite so smoothly -- while it certainly came together faster (partially because I bought pre-peeled garlic cloves), I inadvertently scorched the oil that I browned the chicken in, and so I had to make the sauce in a separate pan, losing the browned bits (which were, in fact, charred bits) and making myself quite surly. I also tried a shortcut when making the rouille (a garlicky saffron mayonnaise) by using my immersion blender rather than whisking it by hand, and as a result, the rouille collapsed, turned suddenly from solid to liquid, and could never become solid again. That infuriated me, since a) the rouille last time made the dish and b) saffron is expensive and I basically just turned the saffron into liquid before tossing it out. However, all ended up being fine; the bouillabaisse itself was just as delicious as last time, even without the rouille. Also, the truffle butter pasta was a huge hit, as it always is -- it's also the easiest thing you can ever make for a dinner party, so it always feels like cheating. And, we drank a bottle and a half of wine, which always makes food go down more pleasantly.

As usual, though, I can't really repeat any of the jhokes that were made, because I've either forgotten them or wished that I could forget them. Let's just say that the key benefit of having dinner in a restaurant is that it keeps us moderately subdued. After a v. fun-filled dinner, replete with multiple toasts (most of which had to be repeated after we decided that if you laughed between clinking your glass and drinking your drink, the toast was void), a screening of the v. moving Detroit/Chrysler/Eminem commercial from the super bowl (which Chandlord failed to appreciate because she's not sufficiently 'merican), and a highly questionable decision to watch 'Sophie's Choice' at a future Blood of Lincoln event, everyone went home, and I decided to leave the mess in the kitchen for tomorrow.

And now, after catching up with the online world and talking to my brother (who seems to be enjoying school, although the initial topic of conversation was not enjoyable - my grandmother's sister passed away this morning, which my mother told me this afternoon, although she waited to tell my brother until after he had finished some grad school work this evening), I should go to bed. I'm glad I took some time off to cook and then socialize with friends, since I hadn't spent any appreciable time with friends since sometime in the middle of last week -- but tomorrow, I will conquer this masquerade scene (and the kitchen) or die trying. Goodnight!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

i'm not drowning...there's no one here to save

I may have outdone myself today -- or, at least, I've outdone my own (admittedly high) levels of dorkiness. And frankly, I couldn't be more satisfied, even if it's yet another nail in the coffin of my eccentricity. As of today, I'm a proud holder of a Stanford library card, replete with both unlimited access to the building and the ability to check out up to twenty-five books at a time. You can tell how quickly I have fallen into complete ridiculousness, since I chose to spend my funds on a library card rather than shoes (actually, I have some shoes coming from Zappos tomorrow, but they're new running shoes, and I used some of the credit I have with them from shoes I bought/returned last summer).

Anyway, today was excellent and v. productive, even if I saw no one and didn't write a single word. I got up sometime in the midmorning, ate breakfast while catching up on zee internets, and then showered and dolled myself up in a dress and high heels -- I figure I should dress nicely once in awhile, or else I might forget how. Clearly my feet are not used to heels, since I was on the verge of forming blisters and felt sore after only a couple of hours, but it was nice to wear something other than Uggs for a little bit. I went to downtown Palo Alto to write, grabbed lunch at CPK (since I've tried to convince several people to go there recently and apparently everyone else hates it), and continued to jot down ideas at Starbucks. I eventually realized that I needed to take a time-out for research -- the book's final battle, so to speak, happens at a masquerade, but I began to suspect that the scandalous, orgy-like masquerade that I was planning (not that the hero and heroine participate, but it's an event geared for the more risque side of society, not the prim and proper debutantes) was more Georgian than Regency, and so was happening about forty years too late. I also have no idea how risque the costumes for a masquerade could be. Theoretically, I could have kept writing and done the research later -- but as 'later' is approximately two weeks from now, I might as well do it now and make sure I'm not writing something that is completely impossible.

So, I came home, spent a couple of hours searching for books on Stanford's card catalog, and checked the bibliographies of several reference books I already have to supplement the catalog search. Thus armed with a long list of possible books, and filled with the leftovers from my CPK lunch, I went to Stanford campus at seven -- and stayed there until the library closed at one a.m. I got my card with no problems, proceeded to wander around two floors of the library to pull ~15 books, and sat down to go through them. A few of them weren't relevant, but many of them were excellent. There were several that I thought I could just get through the relevant portions of at the library, so I read/skimmed six books, making notes on my laptop as I went. I learned a lot of fascinating stuff, but I shall save that for another time -- right now, I'm rather tired, and I have to be at the gym by ten a.m.

But, I shall end by saying that it felt awesome to get so sucked into the research, and Stanford gives me access to all sorts of books that are out of print/would never be findable otherwise. Being able to do research there, both for the Regency romances I'm working on and the gargoyle young adult series I'm planning (which has v. little to do with gargoyles), is going to be fantastic. And I don't care if that makes me a dork -- although I may need to try to seduce a grad student who is also nocturnal, because this might pull me even further outside of normal society.

Okay, it's bedtime -- come back for more of this drivel tomorrow!

Monday, February 07, 2011

and i wonder if i ever cross your mind...for me it happens all the time

So I'm embarrassed to say that I spent some time tonight making a playlist for the next book I'm going to write (Ferguson's sister Ellie and her long-lost lover-turned-enemy Nick, who is now the marquess of Folkestone) and it made me cry. I'm not a particularly good crier, but this playlist will do it -- and I even downloaded a Lady Antebellum song for it, which I hope to God is not the beginning of a slow slide into liking country music. While I haven't started outlining the book yet, since I'm still in the throes of this one, I've set my mind to work thinking about them. My agent wants an outline of their story before we start shopping the book I'm working on so that we can try to sell them together, which means I have to actually plot it out in advance much better than the disaster that was my attempts to plot Madeleine and Ferguson's book (remember how Ferguson used to have a father? and Madeleine used to have a fake French brother show up, only to be surprised when her real long-lost French brother, who was a kingpin in the Parisian underworld and too embarrassed by what he had done to survive the French revolution to ever come to England, showed up to rescue her? and Ferguson's cousin used to be trying to kill him? and the twins didn't exist?).

But even though I'm thinking about Ellie and Nick, and getting goosebumps about how good their story might be if I can figure it out and add some plot beyond recycling Lady Antebellum lyrics, I need to stay focused and finish this book. I only wrote three pages today -- not great, but at least it was something, and I think the masquerade is going to rock. I got up around ten today, ate some cheerios, checked out all my usual websites, and eventually went to the gym, where I spent forty minutes on the treadmill (while reading a romance writer magazine) and twenty minutes foam rolling (basically, massaging myself by rolling over a big tube of hardpacked foam, which feels totally awkward, painful, and wonderful). I grabbed a salad there, came home, ate said salad, and then talked to my parents for over an hour. Then, even though I don't particularly care about football and wouldn't have even known who was playing without the stuff I've seen on Twitter this week, I watched the Super Bowl -- and *adored* the Chrysler/Detroit commercial with Eminem, among others. I also got sucked in to watching the episode of "Glee" that came after the Super Bowl, and so perhaps it's not surprising that I only wrote three pages, since I started writing after ten p.m.

So while I like the scene I'm working on, I think I'll go to bed -- I'd rather wake up in the middle of the scene and eager to get back to it than stewing over how to start the next one. And perhaps tomorrow I'll listen to more cheerful music, as is befitting of the ridiculous time that Madeleine and Ferguson are about to have (rather than the tense/depressing backstory of Ellie and Nick's tragic relationship). Goodnight!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

looks like we're getting the band back together

I had a v. productive day today, which was good, since I was feeling distinctly unproductive most of the week. I didn't get up until almost ten, but have decided to try to stop feeling guilty about such slothful activity and just accept it as my nature. I ate breakfast, showered, spent my requisite time on the internet, grabbed some lunch, and then went to Stanford's Green Library, where I worked very steadily for the rest of the day (with one short, inadvertent nap and a quick break to go outside and grab some tea from Coupa Cafe). It was a gorgeous day here, and I probably shouldn't have spent it inside, but I'm glad that I did; by the time I got home at eight p.m., I had written fifteen pages. That is basically the two scenes leading up to the fantastic, climactic masquerade scene, and so I'm glad to be standing on that threshold and looking into the ballroom where all remaining plot threads will be tied up.

Of course, all that writing time meant that I was thoroughly sick of looking at my laptop (I can use my laptop at Stanford because I can't get wireless there, which makes it a safe haven and temporary respite from my gnawing internet addiction), and so I came home with the intention of not looking at my laptop again until it was time to blog. However, after eating supper (a bowl of the chili I made last night), I checked my email on my phone and discovered that Terry was requesting a chat, and so I logged on and talked to her briefly. Eventually, though, I couldn't bear to look at the screen anymore, so I turned it off in favor of my television screen instead.

I was utterly not in the mood for anything historical or depressing, and I did not want to read a book and look at more printed words after staring at my own all day. So, I rented a movie from Amazon (technology really is amazing -- I could download an HD movie to my Tivo box from Amazon in a few minutes, and it will automatically self-destruct in a couple of days). I had meant to see 'Red' in the theatre when it came out, since I have an admitted crush on Bruce Willis (ignoring the fact that he's older than my father) and thought the premise sounded entertaining. So, I decided to watch it tonight. It wasn't the best movie, or even best shoot-em-up movie, that I've ever seen, but it was entertaining and served exactly the purpose that I wanted it to serve -- namely, I got to watch scarily-proficient people kill other people and have a good laugh about it. Yay.

But now that the movie's over, I should go to bed; I want to knock out at least half of the masquerade scene tomorrow, which is possible since I've got no desire to watch the Super Bowl. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

whenever, wherever

The grad students are rocking tonight - I can hear music emanating from the east side of Stanford campus, so there must be a party going on someplace. I had not intended to stay up this late, but I made the mistake of picking up a book, and you know how that story always ends. Miraculously, I didn't stay up and finish it; I managed to put it down a little over halfway in. Perhaps this isn't a real feat, since I've read the book before, but still, I am impressed with my willpower.

The rest of my day was not particularly strong from a willpower standpoint; I didn't write, although I'm still mulling over the ending, and trusting that this brief, unplanned hiatus is what my subconscious needs to enable me to get it down on paper. I did, however, wake up and v. briefly see Vidius Chandicus, who called at 9:30am to say that she was near my house and would come over for ten minutes. She was true to her word, so I very bizarrely saw her at the beginning of the day before she went on her merry way. Then, I had some breakfast, dallied around, and then went to the gym to train with Alyssa since I missed Tuesday's session.

I've decided that trying to get up early like a 'normal' person is completely overrated, and my training session with Alyssa confirmed it. When I trained at eight a.m. the past few weeks, I went into the gym feeling like death, felt nauseated during every session, and was generally miserable. Today, though, I was perfectly chipper, felt quite spry, and completed a much more intense workout than I was capable of doing at eight a.m. yesterday. So, I'm glad that Alyssa and I agreed to switch to ten a.m. sessions next week -- still early enough that I get home by noon rather than two p.m., but late enough that I have a chance to properly wake up and have breakfast beforehand without wanting to die in the attempt.

So I came home around two p.m. with the intention of writing, and yet somehow got sucked into the internet. I've been thinking about my Twitter strategy, my writing blog, my author platform, etc., and so I spent an inordinate amount of time playing with Twitter, reading other author blogs, etc. This is possibly helpful, although it would be more helpful to finish my stupid book. I took a break from my research to make supper (white chili), did a bit more online, and then threw in the towel and picked up a book.

The book is NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman, and I've read it before -- but when I read it before, I devoured it, I believe on a plane, and this time I'm trying to read it critically, like a writer, to understand how he crafts the story and language. It won't help my romance writing, but I have an inkling that studying it (and a bunch of other books -- I also spent some time today refreshing myself on the Harry Potter series, for what it's worth) will help me to identify my fantastic (as in fantastical, not awesome, although I hope it will be that too) voice for the young adult series I'm thinking of. Now that I'm reading this book more critically, I'm seeing that Gaiman makes some really interesting choices with sentence structure, narrative, point of view, etc. that create the fabric of the story, and that all the puns, jokes, etc. are like sequins on top of the fabric. NEVERWHERE is appealing to me anyway because its basic premise is that there is a London Below that mirrors, in v. odd ways, the London Above that we would live in (so while there's a neighborhood named Earl's Court in London, which is where I stayed when I went a couple of years ago, in London Below there is an actual earl who holds court in a subway car on the Underground). I'm an Anglophile anyway, so it's no wonder I liked this book -- but the language, if you pay attention to it, is stunning.

So, feeling quite shabby about my own language and despairing of ever creating anything quite so cool (and yet oddly, stubbornly determined to do it anyway), I'm going to go to bed. I think tomorrow requires the no-internet, no-smartphone strategy that I deployed last week, so I may spend the day at Stanford library -- nice atmosphere, although it would be nice if I could work in my house instead, where I have delicious tea and several somewhat edible (if you count brown rice cakes and organic peanut butter as edible) snacks. Goodnight!

Friday, February 04, 2011

do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again

I worked all day today pretty much nonstop, but since it was on my website rather than on my book, perhaps that's not to be acclaimed. I did make it into my training session with Alyssa first -- and promptly asked her to find a standing time slightly later than eight a.m. I tried the eight a.m. slot thinking that it would get me out of bed and productive earlier in the day, which was mildly successful -- but as it turns out, the fact that I feel slightly nauseated most mornings is not good for my gym performance. If I eat, then I feel like throwing up halfway through the workout; if I don't eat, then I run out of steam and am cranky the rest of the morning. So, starting next week we're going for the more civilized hour of ten a.m., which seems like a good compromise between eight a.m. and noon.

After I got home, I basically worked on website stuff the rest of the day. I signed up for a server that is quite tricky (no real UI, all commands done via terminal, which reminds me of the good old days of MS-DOS sixteen years ago) -- and so while I think that it could be fantastic once I get it set up, the learning curve is extremely steep, and I'm basically groping around blind. Of course, this has just served to make me more stubborn about it; I'm not out any money and didn't sign a contract, so I could easily switch to something else, but I'm insistent on making this work.

Anyway, I did eventually take a break for a v. impromptu, unexpected dinner with Adit, who I suspect offered dinner so that he could first go for a run and then use my shower, since he had already checked out of his hotel. So, he went for his run, showered, and we eventually went to Joya in Palo Alto, which was just as much of a scene as always. Still, the food was good, and I got a glass of champagne out of the deal, which was delightful. Then, Adit left, and I spent the past four hours playing with web stuff. And so, with my eyes crossing and my head ready to explode, I should probably go to sleep -- and plan on writing tomorrow, even if I will want to keep making progress with the site. Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

she doesn't know your story like i do

I've stayed up too late tonight, and since I have to get up and make it to the gym tomorrow morning (after inadvertently not going for an entire week - how sad), I should really go to sleep. I was both productive and not productive today; while I didn't make it out of bed as early as I planned, I did finally get around to having lunch, driving to San Mateo, and working for a couple of hours in their lovely public library. I also got a library card there, although I didn't check anything out this time -- but I'll definitely be going back. If nothing else, I need to go back so that I can go to the knitting store and get some needles and yarn, but I didn't do it today because I needed to repark my car (stupid parking time limits) and decided to just go home before rush hour rather than reparking and then shopping.

When I made it home, I did a bit more work, and then started reading more of this book on building a writing platform before getting a book deal. I got distracted, though, by the pressing need to redo my romance blog -- I actually love the concept and what I intend to post, but I haven't been posting because my webhost is way too slow and I don't want to try to build a following for a site that is often unloadable during peak traffic times. I know it's not something I've done, because it only takes a couple of seconds to load in the middle of the night, but the one time I tried emailing my host, they said they couldn't replicate the problem (probably because they were checking it in the middle of the night, bastards). So, I spent some quality time researching webhosting options, and eventually took a break to go to the Stanford CoHo for supper (as it's both the closest and cheapest restaurant to me, which is ridiculous).

Over pasta, I continued to read the book, but I eventually got driven out by the utter ridiculousness of a Stanford business school event. I knew it was a business school event because a) people were wearing the appropriate branded sweatshirts if they weren't wearing suits or polos and b) some guy asked every single small group who came in, "How's it going, team?", which I found laughable. The event was some sort of music/jazz thing, with a couple of b-school kids performing; I didn't know it was going to happen when I sat down, and I eventually ended up surrounded. One of the guys who ended up sitting at my table introduced himself, offered me a beer, etc., asked what I was reading, and even asked if I was an undergrad (ha). He seemed nice enough, but I found it slightly off-putting only because I began to wonder if he was trying to drive me away by distracting me from my reading to the point that I decided to give up. He probably didn't have such nefarious intentions, but even though he was friendly, the swarm of bschool kids around me was a little too much, so I came home. And then, in true nerd style, I spent the last two hours downloading the files from my old webhost, signing up for a new webhost and watching "Top Chef" and a recent Craig episode (in which he spent the entire time talking to Cornel West, which was interesting).

So now, after hating on the bschool, I should really go to sleep; after the gym tomorrow, I need to finish transferring my blog, and then get busy with Madeleine and Ferguson (or rather, they need to get busy with each other and I need to chronicle it). Goodnight!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

you don't own me

Fact: King Charles VI of France was insane for much of his reign. At a masquerade in honor of the wedding of his queen's lady-in-waiting, he and several other dudes dressed up as 'wild men' to perform a dance for the amusement of the court. Their costumes were, for whatever reason, made out of linen soaked in pitch, and then covered in hemp to make them look bedraggled. Pitch, hemp, and fire do not mix well, and as these were the days of torches and candles (not to be confused with the days of Vikings and dragons, although that would have been equally fatal), King Charles had enough sense to order the torchbearers to stay close to the walls. However, his brother, the duke of Orleans, approached with a torch to get a better look (or, as some sources suspect, to kill his brother), and accidentally set all the dancers (who were chained together as part of the dance) on fire. The duchess of Berry managed to put out the king with the train of her dress, but four of the dancers died. History is fascinating, no?

As you may suspect from that (or perhaps not, since this blog never makes sense), I spent some quality time tonight researching masquerades -- as things stand right now, the climactic scene in my book takes place at a scandalous masquerade ball, and I want to make sure I get the details right before I discover after submitting the book that, say, there weren't actually any masquerade balls in England during that time period. Of course, I know that there were masquerade balls then -- but still, I find historical accuracy to be important.

On the whole, though, my day was not what I wished for it to be. I woke up with a sore throat and a headache, and took the criminal move of canceling on Alyssa before promptly going back to sleep. I definitely need more sleep than I got this weekend, and so sleeping in this morning helped (although my throat still hurts; hopefully it comes to nothing). Then, I woke up, ate some oatmeal, and spent the late morning/early afternoon taking care of the usual first-of-the-month financial tasks. I made myself some lunch with whatever I could find in my fridge (in this case, sort of a tostada/huevos rancheros with scrambled eggs, refried beans, corn tortillas, and salsa - delish), then procured groceries for the week ahead.

I was supposed to see "True Grit" with Chandlord this afternoon, but I wasn't really feeling it, and so spent several hours working through the end-game of the book. I think I've got the final plot figured out, and while I'm a couple of days behind my writing goals due to the unexpected lack of productivity this weekend, I should be able to finish the draft by this weekend at the latest. However, when Adit called at eight to see if I'd eaten (I hadn't), I was ready for a break, and I can't turn down free food. So, he bought me supper at Tofu House (thus satisfying my craving for Korean soft tofu soup), and then I came home and did some more masquerade research until now.

So, from a wordcount standpoint today was a waste, but I have a plan for tomorrow, and absolutely no plans other than to write maniacally. I think I'm going to check out one of the public libraries in the area, since I could stand to get out of the house. Also, I'd like to try my hand at knitting -- I realized that I don't really have a lot of hobbies, probably because I feel that they're a) unproductive and b) I will never be world-class at them so don't feel it's worth the effort, but I'm trying to get over that Puritanical viewpoint and try something just because I want to. So, I got a knitting book from Amazon, and I'm going to seek out a knitting store tomorrow to get some recommendations for beginner needles and decent/cheap practice yarn. Because really, living alone in a cabin in the woods and becoming a hermit requires learning how to knit, right?

Okay, I should sleep if I have any hope of getting up tomorrow morning and finishing this major scene -- goodnight!