Thursday, March 31, 2011

young money thieves steal your love and leave

Today was utterly awesome - exactly the kind of day that someone who is self-employed can have if they don't intend to get a lot done. I didn't make it to the gym this morning, since I decided to sleep until eight instead, but I did make it up to the evil city in time to get a facial at the fancy-schmancy spa that I keep intending to cancel my membership to. I was all prepared to cancel today - but after spending some quality time soaking in the jacuzzi, then getting a fantastic facial, I paid my bill and left before debating canceling again. I can always cancel next month, right?

After the spa, I proceeded down the street to Samovar, my favorite afternoon experience in the world, where I wrote for a couple of hours while lingering over quiche and masala chai, followed by a pot of bai mudan white tea. One of the biggest reasons to go to the city today, of all days, was that I was out of Samovar's loose leaf English Breakfast tea - I live on the stuff at home, and am now too spoiled to go back to bagged swill. So, I got three packages of English Breakfast and a package of bai mudan; the combined tea should last me about three months. Yay. I also caught up with the waitress who always serves me (she knows what I order, and she now kisses me on the cheek when I walk in - I have arrived). And, most importantly, I figured out some key details of the plot for the next book - I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to knock out the synopsis tomorrow and get it to my agent by Friday as promised.

I left the evil city a little after three to beat traffic, came home, and researched synopses online to make sure I'm prepared. Then, I went to dinner at Fiesta del Mar with the Heathers - Heather #1 = dear respected madam, and Heather #2 = the girl (woman) I managed when she, Pete and I used to have margaritas and pie. We discussed all sorts of subjects, including hair, weddings, work, and the fact that the public seems willing to forgive people of anything (including domestic violence and rape/sexual harassment - see Chris Brown/Charlie Sheen and a substantial number of professional athletes), but can't forgive anyone who hurts a dog (see Michael Vick and people still calling for his execution even though he went to prison, unlike Chris Brown). Now, I'm not saying at all that what Michael Vick did should be condoned or forgiven, but it does seem a bit odd that he's vilified more than someone who beat the shit out of their girlfriend. The reason this came up is because as I was walking in San Francisco today, I overheard some girl talking to her friend about how her dog needs surgery, and it's going to be super expensive, "but luckily, my boyfriend's dad died last summer, and so the life insurance money can pay for it". Ah, priorities.

And now that I've probably alienated a whole bunch of people, I shall move on. After dinner, I came home and painted my nails while watching the "Top Chef: All Stars" finale. I'll miss this season - it was really a great one. But since it's over, I should really go to bed; I have to train with Alyssa tomorrow, and possibly have coffee with some people, and then write my synopsis before it kills me. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the tumor becomes malign

I realized this morning, while working out with Alyssa for the first time in a week, that I'm starting to display the workaholic tendencies that previously kept me chained to my desk and locked away from the social world. Granted, I was social the past few days, and my rationale for not going to the gym was that Walter was in town, and then I had to prepare for the writing group and start working on my synopsis. Still, while I'm thrilled that I'm working hard on something that I care about, I need to be careful to not let it totally overwhelm my life (or to be happy that I've let it take over everything else - which could be where I end up).

Anyway, Alyssa tried to kill me, as is her wont, and then I did some cardio before showering and grabbing a salad from their cafe. I ate said salad in my kitchen while checking up on the online world. Then, I took a nap, because I'm so industrious. After the nap, though, I rallied, ran some errands, went to Starbucks and worked for an hour, went to an art supply store to get a big display board and some post-its, and then came home and worked until it was time to go to dinner. The project for today was to start placing the scenes I brainstormed into some semblance of a story structure, and that's what the display board was for - I may have just succeeded in making a v. pretty object with no substance, but right now I'm excited about it.

However, my plotting stalled when I realized that I really need to figure out what conflict/spying the hero was involved in before returning to England. So, I lost myself in Wikipedia, and was thankful that I'd set an alarm on my phone to remind me to go to dinner. I hied myself over to Sunnyvale for a Blood of Lincoln excursion to Taste Buds, which was both tasty and buddy-filled. Then, I came back home and researched on Wikipedia for another two hours, finally stopping to take care of some administrivia (I miss that word from the business world) related to the writing world.

I really want Nick (the hero) to have spent the last decade in India, since I heart India, but I'm not sure it works given the geopolitical realities of the time - if the English were going to spy someplace, they would probably devote their resources to Europe and Napoleon instead. But, since fighting during the Seven Years' War had erupted globally, perhaps they would have kept some men on the ground to watch out for belligerence abroad - and since the East India Company was massive and powerful, he could stumble across something there that would put him in danger later. I'll figure this all out tomorrow; right now I'm going to sleep on it and hope that the answer comes to me in the morning.

But now, I should go to bed - goodnight!

i sprinkle holy water upon the vampire

I'm making progress with the synopsis - somehow I'm pulling a story out of thin air, and it seems to be coming together even though I still feel like I'm completely flying in the dark. I learned a lot about the hero today and wrote up twenty reasons why he might decide to finally come back to England. I brainstormed twenty challenges the heroine might face as a result of him coming back. I also listed approximately 55 scenes that could happen someplace in the book (I probably need 60-70, and some of what was listed could either be split into two scenes or would not make it into the final draft).

In other words, I'm happy with where things are. I need to do some research about what spies did back in the day (when in doubt, make your hero a Regency version of Jason Bourne), and I need to figure out which conflict/geographic location the hero spent his time in, and then I can start plotting in earnest. I also need to figure out exactly who the villain is, since that's the biggest piece I'm currently missing. But, once I figure that out, I can storyboard everything and write up the synopsis - easy peasy, right?

This is basically all I did today; I was going to go to the gym, but I skipped it (Alyssa will not be happy with me - I haven't been in a week). Upon eating stale rice cakes and peanut butter for lunch, I decided I should make some time to go to the grocery store this afternoon, and the errand was duly accomplished. I also folded the clothes I washed two days ago, swept and vacuumed, and cleaned my bathtub while procrastinating/thinking through the next bits of the plot. And, I took a bath in some sort of eucalyptus/spearmint scented bubble bath that was supposed to reinvigorate the mind - perhaps it did, but I also somehow cut the top of my thumb in the bathtub (extremely inexplicably), which was quite disconcerting because I didn't notice until I realized that my bathtowel was streaked with blood. Perhaps this is a good thing - it's my right thumb, aka the smartphone thumb, and so I might be less inclined to thumb through twitter on the phone for the next couple of days.

I finally wrapped up for the night with some quality time brainstorming new titles for my books - not that it matters, since the editors will change them anyway, but you do want them to be as catchy as possible, so I'm making one final attempt to see if I can come up with anything better than what I've got. And now, I think I'll go to sleep - I am going to the gym tomorrow if it kills me, and then I'm going to get to the point with my plot where I can start writing up the synopsis. Goodnight!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

in this very moment i'm king

Today was v. productive - almost all of it was for someone else, but this was the last day that I needed to get through a lot of other stuff, and I'm going to start my synopsis tomorrow. I think I have a decent working idea for what the hero of my book has been up to for the decade prior to the story, and since I know what the heroine has been doing, I think I can make some progress.

But, today was the writing group, and so I got up, went back through the manuscript, and made notes. I finally took a break for lunch, and eventually wrapped up around one so that I could call my parents for our usual Sunday call before going to the writing group. It was good to talk to them, even if it was generally depressing (it snowed there last week, so I can't exactly blame them). Then, I went to the writing group, which was supposed to last from three until five p.m., but it ended up going until almost seven (so it's a good thing I called my parents first).

It was quite an interesting experience; the writer's fiance moderated a long discussion of her book, starting with high-level questions and eventually moving into a chapter by chapter discussion. The writer (Becky) sat in the back and took notes without talking, which might have been a nervewracking experience -- I couldn't tell if she actually enjoyed it or not, and I was thinking the whole time about how much I would hate doing that myself (even though I really enjoyed giving comments). Mostly, though, I thought the comments could be quite helpful, although that amount of feedback might be overwhelming. Also, her parents participated (who were lovely -- particularly her mother, who talked to me about Regency romances while we took a break), and her father commented on the amount of profanity and didn't seem to like that there was a happy ending, which I thought was hilarious but might have been mortified by if it had been me in her shoes.

So it was great to participate, and I'm glad I read her book; it really was good, and I enjoyed it beyond just critiquing it. When I finally got home, I discovered missed calls from my brother, so I talked to him for awhile, then ventured out of my house to get something to eat. When I got back, I was going to start brainstorming, but I'm too tired, so I caught up on romance blogs, wrote a post for my romance blog, and generally procrastinated. And now, I'm off to bed -- tomorrow I'm back to productivity, and also hopefully back to the gym and cooking better stuff for myself, since I haven't worked out in almost a week and am completely out of groceries. Goodnight!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

sometimes behave so strangely

I was v. productive today, even though none of it was for me. One of my writing friends invited me to read her recently-completed manuscript, and since I'm participating in a group discussion of it tomorrow, I needed to finish reading it today. This ended up taking basically all day, since I had to read much more closely than I usually do. Luckily, I really enjoyed it, even if it did make me a) insanely hungry and b) dream of moving to Europe to write. It was set in Hungary in 2001, and since I love Eastern Europe, and since the protagonist was a writer (actually, a journalist) in her late twenties, I perhaps identified with the character more than I should have. I still need to type up my notes tomorrow, but the reading is done, and I think I can speak to it mostly coherently.

If nothing else, this was good practice -- I've been doing rather a lot of critiquing and editing recently, and it's been making me think about starting up a freelance editing business to supplement my nonexistent writing income until the writing income becomes existent. Ideally, I would just be a glorified proofreader, although I could proofread if it came to that -- but, I do think I have a generally decent understanding of story structure and narrative, and so I could do that type of editing if I felt so inclined. Since so many people are jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon, I think the demand for freelance editors is going to increase, and so this might be a good time to get on the boat. If I'm going to do it, it would be smart to get my website up, figure out my pricing, and start drumming up business in time to really search for business hard when I go to the romance conference at the end of June -- I could edit a lot of things, but I understand romance the best, and it would be a good place to start building my business.

But, who knows -- I also like that I had plenty of time to concentrate on writing the last couple of months. Then again, freelancing means I can load up on projects for the months when I'm blocked, and decline projects during the last month of the manuscript when I'm living and breathing my own edits. Regardless, I don't have time to think of the business plan for this until I write Ellie and Nick's synopsis -- and as soon as I get back from the writing group tomorrow, that's all I'm going to work on until it's done.

However, I did take a break tonight by having dinner (my own leftover boeuf bourguignon at someone else's house, amusingly enough) with John and Jess. I could have taken two breaks, since Chandlord asked if I wanted to see 'Jane Eyre' with her, but the need to finish reading my friend's book was too strong. Still, taking a break was nice, and we had a good time even if Chandlord was missing. Then, I came home, looked at the manuscript some more, caught up on email and twitter (since I hadn't touched my computer all day, which is totally shocking and unlike me), and am now going to go to bed. Goodnight!

Friday, March 25, 2011

golden state

So, I have good news - my latest book is a finalist for the 2011 Golden Heart award**! I knew that the announcements were coming today, and I didn't sleep well last night as a result. I had dozed off again sometime before eight a.m., even though I expected that calls would start around eight a.m. in each time zone, and was awoken by my voicemail tone. This surprised me, since my phone had never rang. Even though the person didn't leave a voicemail, I called back (which I never, ever do), left them a voicemail -- and got a call ten minutes later saying that I had finaled. Much rejoicing ensued, of course; even though I went through this before, it's still super exciting to be recognized and feel like I'm on the right track, etc.

Luckily, I had someone around to celebrate with; Walter was on my couch in the living room, and so he got the honor of hanging out with me this morning while I was sublimely happy and not particularly interested in talking about anything else. We both eventually showered and then went into Palo Alto for lunch, where we oddly settled on Pasta? -- mostly because we were able to get from the car to that particular block on University without getting rained on, and I didn't want to take the chance of going another block (which proved to be prophetic, as we just missed a downpour). So we had lunch, came back to my place and enjoyed a cup of tea, and then Walter left to go to southern California. It was v. good to see him, and I'm sad that we don't live closer to each other since we both seem to be constitutionally incapable of keeping in touch over long distances.

After Walter left, I caught up on the online romance world (since this was a big day in that community, obviously), took a nap, and caught up on this week's "Top Chef: All Stars" while continuing to practice my knitting, since I needed a little downtime before getting to work. After that was over, I started thinking about my next book. I need to figure it out this week, so my little vacation is over and productivity begins immediately. I took a break to eat some leftover boeuf bourguignon (yum), then spread out a whole bunch of materials on my kitchen table, archived all the notes and detritus from Madeleine and Ferguson's story, and made new binders for Ellie and Nick. This may seem like procrastination, but I can't work without notebooks, and so this was an important first step. So, everything's now organized, and I have all the little notes I made to myself with ideas about Ellie's story gathered in one place, so I can get started.

Now, though, I think I'll go to bed; after the euphoria of finaling and the joy of Walter's visit wore off, I was left with a raging headache, and I'd like to get some sleep. Goodnight!



** For those of you who pay only casual attention to anything I say about the romance world, the Golden Heart is the award that I won in 2009 for my first book. They narrow down ~1000-1200 entries and come up with 6-8 finalists per category, and then those finalists are judged in a second round before the winner is announced at the annual romance conference in the summer. While I was still polishing my book for the past couple of months, the first round is based on the first fifty pages, which were apparently strong enough to get to the finals. Yay.

vamos viver a vida

Dear Alan (aka Walter's dad) - Walter says hi!

For all the rest of you - today was a lovely day. As you can probably guess from my unusual intro, Walter is in town for a surprise guest appearance, and I spent the entire day with him. He arrived at my place around 10:30am; unfortunately, I had an appointment at eleven that I couldn't cancel, but I came home directly thereafter and we went to Joanie's Cafe, where we had delicious breakfast-for-lunch and began the long and arduous process of catching up. Then, we proceeded to Whole Foods to buy potatoes for tonight's dinner; when I decided on the spur of the moment to make strawberry shortcake, we then went to Safeway to buy Bisquick, since Bisquick is too much of an abomination to be carried by Whole Foods.

After the grocery stores, we went to downtown Mountain View and hung out at Verde drinking pearl milk teas; Walter took the adventurous route by ordering something different, which is always dangerous there, and ended up drinking something that tasted like sour salted plums (mmm). For the first time in many moons, I made myself laugh so hard that I started crying - for some reason, this happens frequently when I'm around Walter, but since I hadn't seen him in ages, I've typically been more controlled than that. This happened twice more over the course of the day, so hopefully I'll be able to get command of myself again once he leaves.

Anyway, we came back to my place, sat around the living room, talked, and drank more tea. Sometime around 6:30, I began preparing for the evening's festivities - I decided to serve leftovers for dinner, since I still had enough boeuf bourguignon to feed an army, but I made fresh mashed potatoes and also made shortcakes and cut up strawberries. John and Jess arrived around 7:30, not knowing who the surprise special guest was; Walter happened to be in the bathroom when they arrived, and the reaction was even better than I expected, because when he came out of the bathroom, I heard Jess say, "Who are you?!" She has only met him a couple of times before, and in her defense it was quite dark in the hall as he stepped out, but this was certainly a strange reaction to the surprise guest of honor.

However, the evening progressed wonderfully, and we voted to remove Chandlord from Blood of Lincoln and replace her with Walter. She should not be hurt by this; my own residents stripped me of my title of golden goddess and gave the golden god title to Walter instead, so I see Walter's winning as not just expected, but inevitable. However, as he is returning to San Diego tomorrow, I think Chandlord is still in by default, since Blood of Lincoln cannot sustain itself with only three people.

Anyway, dinnertime was awesome; the boeuf bourguignon was fantastic, if I do say so myself, and I don't feel bad about serving leftovers because it was twice as good today as it was on Tuesday. More importantly, though, we had a wonderfully ridiculous time, culminating in some quality time looking up words in the Oxford Historical Thesaurus (which is actually amazingly fun if you're a complete dork, and pretty much the hit of the party - particularly after we discovered that 'raccooning' can mean to 'raccoon about', as though wandering like a raccoon in the dark; this resulted in us turning off the lights in the kitchen and then Jess going completely crazy while the rest of us couldn't stop laughing. Also, to be 'wampish' is to wave/toss one's arms about, which is pretty much all I do while telling stories, so apparently it's an integral part of who I am).

John and Jess eventually left because they have 'work' or some shit. After they left, Walter quite stoically said that he was willing to collage/brainstorm with me so that I could work on the plot for the next book, but I decided not to put him through that; instead, we watched "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", which we had both seen many times, but had not seen recently. It was well worth the rewatch, and I'm eager to jump into my shamelessly lazy few weeks of movie watching and book reading as soon as I'm done with this synopsis. Now, though, I should probably sleep; Walter and I will likely eat something tomorrow morning and then he will take off, at which point my little week-long vacation ends and the fight to figure out the next book begins in earnest. Goodnight!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

i know we're cool

Today was v. eventful - not good for Ellie and Nick, but v. good for my temporary reemergence into the social scene (such as it is). I slept almost ten hours, woke up, had some oatmeal, took care of a variety of tings online, and eventually got myself ready in time to meet Tammy (aka Tammmmmmehhhh) for dim sum at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge. She was in town this past weekend, but since I was in LA, I had to catch her on her last day here before leaving for Boston tonight. Luckily, we were able to gorge ourselves on a great variety of shrimp families that may or may not be radioactive (if they were, it only made them tastier). The HKFL was hopping; even on a Wednesday, the wait for a table for two was over half an hour. But, it was worth it - when they seated us, we happened to sit down right in front of the Cart of Happiness (tm), which meant we had deep fried shrimp dumplings with mayonnaise, deep fried shrimp in bean curd, and barbecue pork pastries before our tea even arrived. Shrimp dumplings (aka shrimp families), steamed bean curd/shrimp, and shrimp noodles all followed shortly thereafter, and so we had a totally delicious, coma-inducing lunch.

Oh, and it was good to see Tammy too.

Seriously, it was good to see her - I hadn't seen her sans boyfriend for quite some time, and while I like the boyfriend, sometimes you just want a little girl talk like you're on "The View" or some shit. We spent two and a half hours there, until they were all giving us the Cantonese side-eye and clearing everything around us. Then, I dropped her off, said my goodbyes, came back down to Palo Alto, and ran a couple of errands, including getting some art supplies for an Ellie/Nick project I'm going to work on. I've decided to maybe make some collages, or at least download some inspiring photos/maps/etc., in an effort to get to know Ellie, Nick and the story better, and so I bought a sketch book, some glue, and some v. pretty paper that somehow felt like Nick (I can't explain the inner workings of my mind, and you shouldn't want me to).

Just after I got home, Chandlord called and asked if I wanted to have coffee. So, I met her in downtown Mountain View, and I talked to my dad while I drove over there, since I missed talking to him yesterday when I called my parents for their anniversary (happy anniversary!). When Chandlord and I rendezvoused at Starbucks, we both decided we didn't want that, and so we walked down to Cascal for drinks and snacky snacks. It was happy hour, and so I had a mojito, she had a glass of wine, and we split "chips and dips" (great tortilla chips with guacamole, queso fundido, and a black bean dip) for about $9 each. Since she was in Miami last weekend and I was in LA, we actually had something new and different to talk about -- shocking, I know. We somehow survived the excitement of this and hung out for an hour and a half, and it was everything I dreamed it could be and more.

When we parted ways, I ran to Target to pick up a couple of things, came home, sent a couple of emails, and then downloaded a book that I needed to read tonight. I'm interviewing an author next week about the book that she just self-published to help promote the book, and so I needed to read the book and draft the questions that I'm asking her so that she has a chance to respond to them in a timely fashion. Obviously, that took several hours - reading the book wasn't a super fast endeavor, and then I spent an inordinate amount of time catching up on romance-related emails and brainstorming questions. I'm done with it now, though, so I'm glad that's taken care of before the weekend reaches out and devours my productivity.

Now, though, I should get some sleep; I have tings to do tomorrow and have guests coming tomorrow night, so I should get up and try to be productive at some point. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

and though my kingdom awaits and they've forgiven my mistakes

I'm utterly wiped out, but since there are people who claimed to be nervous about what I might share on zee blog tonight, I clearly had an entertaining day. It started with a training session with Alyssa -- or rather, it started at four a.m. when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, and then fell asleep only to have nightmares of a) Prince William's wedding and b) a serial killer coming after a girl who managed to survive him the first time. Needless to say, those dreams weren't particularly helpful, particularly since I live in a cabin that can somehow feel scary and secluded even though it's on a relatively major street. After I woke up for the final time, though, I got ready and dragged myself into the gym. It was good to see Alyssa, and I'm eager to get back into things more steadily than I have been over the past few weeks, since my insane writing schedule encouraged me to eat like crap and skip the gym.

After training, I went to BevMo to buy wine and Courvoisier, and then to the grocery store to get the required ingredients for tonight's feast. Then, I came home and cleaned madly, some of which I did while talking to my mother. My house is usually pretty clean, but it was quite cluttered from several weeks of focusing on my writing while neglecting everything else, and I decided to put in the time to make it immaculate. I mostly succeeded, and I'm glad that the house is up to my standards again. But, I should have stopped cleaning and started cooking half an hour earlier than I did -- the food took longer to prep than I remembered, and so even though I started cooking by 4:30, the food wasn't ready until 7:30 (and my friends were supposed to come over at 6:30). Oops.

But, we had a fantastic time regardless. The group was my oldest work friends, the ones who get together for a friendship renewal dinner every six weeks -- you may recognize the names, if I tell you that Tolu, Joann, Sarah, Lizzie, and Jane came over. We did this one at my house partially because Lizzie is back in town for spring break (she moved to Seattle last fall for grad school), and doing it at my house was far cozier than going to a restaurant, even if my 'service' was extremely slow. But, I had snacky snacks and plenty of wine to tide us over, and it was nice to have plenty of time to catch up. And, the boeuf bourguignon turned out v. well -- sadly for them, it will be even better tomorrow, but it was certainly edible tonight.

My friends left sometime after nine, and I forced myself to load the dishwasher and wash up the few remaining items before sitting down so that I wouldn't have a mess to confront in the morning. But now, even though it's only eleven, I'm going to go to bed -- I had several glasses of wine tonight, which always makes me sleepy, and I'm too tired to do anything productive now anyway. Goodnight!

Monday, March 21, 2011

running up that hill

Even though it's only 9:40, I'm already in bed -- I'm going to knock out this blog post for the sake of you, my loyal reader (aka Mom), and then do a bit of writing until I fall asleep. I made it back from Los Angeles in good time (around six hours door to door, including a stop for gas and a stop for Starbucks), but the drive exhausted me. And, since I need to clean the house and cook dinner tomorrow, I should probably get some sleep.

But, the day wasn't all driving -- I slept in a bit this morning while Terry went to the gym, then showered and packed up in time to go out for breakfast/lunch with her when she got back. We ate at her neighborhood's version of Cafe Borrone (they do not share a name or owner, but they have a similar vibe) and discussed recent developments in the publishing world -- after I posted last night, I read a long blog post about a bestselling author who turned down a $500,000 book deal so that he can self-publish his work. We live in interesting times.

After lunch, I left LA, drove through the snowy/rainy Grapevine, and then drove in rain intermittently all the way back to Palo Alto (which is probably why I was so tired when I got here). I did a bit of cleaning in the kitchen, but put off the bulk of it until tomorrow, and then caught up on last week's "Top Chef: All Stars". And now, after some desultory web surfing, I need to go to bed; I did a lot of brainstorming during the drive (and wrote a bunch of notes while sitting in a fifteen-minute line at a Starbucks drive-through), but I'm going to have to do a whole lot more this week if I'm going to come up with a decent storyline for Ellie's book. Goodnight!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the rain in spain

I intend to go home tomorrow morning, but hopefully the weather will cooperate -- it's been raining steadily/torrentially in LA all day, and the Grapevine (the major pass in the mountains which stand between me and the north) is currently closed. If I can't use the Grapevine, I can always go around, thus adding a couple of hours to the trip -- but since I'm having people over for dinner on Tuesday and I need to start plotting Ellie's story *immediately*, I'll have to get home one way or another.

Today was nice despite the rain, though; Terry and I woke up around nine (or rather, Terry woke up around seven and I ignored her until nine), and took our time getting ready while watching some basketball. Then, we met up with her family for lunch at a delicious Chinese place somewhere in the La Canada vicinity (I have no idea where, since I wasn't driving). Originally, they were supposed to come to this side of LA, but for some reason that plan changed, so we met them over there, then ditched them around two p.m. to see a movie in Pasadena. We went with the strategy of seeing the earliest acceptable movie showing after we walked in, and so ended up picking "Limitless" -- the Bradley Cooper movie in which he starts out as a writer suffering from horrendous writers block whose girlfriend dumps him, and with the help of a rather amazing/sinister pill, is able to access his entire brain and becomes an absolute genius. It had all my favorite things -- although when I started to list them here, I realized the only thing on the list was crazy, menacing Russians (of which there were several). Terry spent the entire movie telling me to stop daydreaming about taking a pill to make all my writers block go away, but after having seen the movie, I'm pretty sure I would take it and be damned. So much for the moral of the story, right?

After the movie, we came back here (in an absolute downpour, during which I was glad that I was not the one driving) and vaguely straightened up the apartment before Lisa came over. I haven't mentioned Lisa here in a v. long time, but she's the one who got married in Ojai several years ago, and she lived on my floor when I was the RA of the 'hell' floor my junior year (she was one of the least hellish of the bunch). The three of us went out for Mexican food, which was delicious (although my enchiladas suizas had some weird variation of tomatillo sauce that reminded me too much of tuna noodle casserole -- and while I love tuna noodle casserole, I do not love it when I'm expecting an enchilada). Then, we came back and watched several episodes of "Raising Hope", which is absolutely hysterical and a must-watch for anyone looking for a new sitcom.

Now, I suppose I should go to sleep; I'm going to make a gametime decision about whether to go to the gym with Terry in the morning, and then we're going to have breakfast/lunch before I take off. Wish me luck with the Grapevine -- goodnight!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

in your eyes (the light, the heat)

Today was an utterly lazy day, which was exactly what I needed from my minibreak between finishing Madeleine/Ferguson's book and the two weeks I've given myself to plot the next one and send a synopsis to my agent. Terry surprised me by sleeping until nine a.m. -- business school (and the resultant late-night drinking excursions) has changed her. I won't say it's changed her for the better, but sleeping until nine was most certainly more welcome than waking up at six.

Anyway, after Terry got up, she made us coffee and oatmeal, and we sat around for awhile talking and watching basketball. We rallied and went to the gym, where I did stairclimber (during which I had a conversation with the woman next to me about my shoes (which are quite hot, even if they do have v. bright orange/tangerine colored soles) and treadmill (unfortunately next to a guy who randomly shouted jubilantly during his workout -- I'm pretty sure it was all self-directed/caused, since I couldn't determine any correlation between his excitement and either the basketball or 'Live Free or Die Hard' playing on the televisions). After Terry and I showered, we adjourned to a restaurant and I had a v. delicious sandwich (with carved roasted turkey, rather than deli-sliced coldcuts - yum) while we watched part of the UCLA men's basketball game.

We then proceeded to Pasadena/La Canada, where we spent the afternoon and evening with Terry's family. All of her siblings except for Tom are home this weekend, and so we spent the afternoon watching basketball (and taking advantage of the fact that every single game was on simultaneously on different channels - although flipping back and forth between all of them means I don't remember any of them, except for the awesome end to the Pitt/Butler game and the v. sad end to the Kansas St/Wisconsin game). Terry's dad grilled chicken and steak, and kept making us margaritas, so I basically sat around and ate and drank all afternoon. It was basically a reprise of Thanksgiving, only without Tom and with substantially more basketball. We eventually left around nine, came back to her place, promptly changed into pajamas, and watched some 'Raising Hope' and 'Modern Family.'

It's a bit funny that I drove all the way to LA to watch television and eat/drink, but it's been a really nice break -- I know that if I were home right now, I would be stressing myself unnecessarily. Tomorrow, the relaxation continues. I'm guessing we'll watching some more basketball, and then we're having lunch with Terry's family, hanging out with her sister Kasey before taking Kasey to the airport, and then having dinner with our friend Lisa. All in all, this has been a v. relaxing trip so far -- hopefully tomorrow is just as nice. And now, goodnight!

it's surprising wise men looked at the horizon

Goodbye, house that is dirty/unkempt from a month of hardcore concentration on zee romance novel -- hello, southern California. My reward for finishing the book was a v. impromptu trip to LA to see Terry -- I'm only going to stay for a couple of days, since I need to start plotting the next book (I owe a full synopsis of it to my agent in two weeks, which may be problematic since I currently only know what happens in the first chapter, and even that is vague). But, it's great to get away for a couple of days and take an enforced break, since otherwise I would have just spent today moping around in the aftermath of finishing the book (which is more like a kind of death than anything euphoric, oddly enough).

I didn't leave as early as I would have liked; since I didn't go to bed until 2:30, I let myself stay in bed until 10:30. Then, I showered, ate some cereal, took care of some emails, and threw a bunch of stuff in my car (four bags' worth, which is overkill for two days, but it was faster to just keep tossing stuff in the pile than making decisions and editing down my packing list). I made it out of Palo Alto by 12:45, and with the three stops I made along the way (for a v. belated sit-down lunch at Casa de Fruta, gas at Kettleman City, and caffeine at the last stop before the Grapevine), I rolled up to Terry's apartment at 7:15. I unloaded my car, changed into something cuter than the 'fur'-lined pink hoodie that I wore on the drive down, and then Terry and I went out for dinner at some fish place in Santa Monica. They had an outdoor patio that was quite lovely (particularly since there were plenty of heat lamps), and we spent a couple of hours lingering over dinner and drinks. I originally stuck to one mai tai, but Terry ordered a second mai tai and then gave it to me after three sips, thus doubling my consumption. Amusingly, at some point in the evening a dude came over and hit on me by telling Charlie Sheen jokes -- this might have worked, since I haven't had anyone tell me any jokes in awhile, but considering I also haven't seen anyone I know (other than Alyssa and my CPA) in a week, I'm probably too socially awkward these days to capitalize.

So after dinner, Terry and I came back to her place, continued to catch up, and then watched an episode of "Bones" (since that's what we do). And now, I should really get some sleep; Terry wakes up at some ungodly hour (and for me, ungodly is now anytime before nine a.m. -- I had to get up at 7:30 earlier this week and it almost killed me), so I should take advantage of my sleepy time while I have it. We're going to go to the gym, possibly see a terrible movie, and then have dinner with her family, so it should be a good time all around. Goodnight!

Friday, March 18, 2011

trying to make some frontpage drive-in news

Done. DONE done. I sent the manuscript to my agent half an hour ago. I intend to do a proofreading pass in a week, once the dust has settled and I can see again, but unless my agent or my lovely, wonderful beta readers raise any red flags, there are no major changes left to make. That means that Madeleine and Ferguson can ride off into the sunset where they belong, and I can start discovering new and clever ways to torture my next characters (Ellie and Nick - you should learn their names, as they'll be the stars of my life for the next few months).

As you can guess, today was basically all work and no play. I went to the gym first, where Alyssa assessed my progress over the past four weeks. It wasn't quite as bad as I expected -- while the scale said I gained a pound, Alyssa calculated that I lost two pounds of fat and gained three pounds of muscle, which isn't bad considering that I've spent the last three weeks eating like crap and sitting for twelve hours a day while trying to finish this book. I'm going to get back on the horse next week (where horse = elliptical machine), but this weekend is a vacation.

After the gym, I grabbed lunch, dropped off some more paperwork for my CPA, got a pearl milk tea (sans pearls) since I was already on Castro Street, and then came home to do battle with the manuscript. I took a break around seven to eat, and then I took a nap because I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, but I finished. The best task was using Scrivener to identify words I used a lot, and then scouring the manuscript to remove them. I ended up cutting 50ish uses of seemed, 42 suddenly, 35 certainly, and a whole slew of perhaps, rather, likely, utterly, and exactly. Yes, I know, you're jealous of how exciting my life is.

The saddest part of today is that I saw no one who could appreciate my new tshirt, so I will have to link to it. The site is pretty great, but only if you like all things Iowan. Some of the other shirts on the site include 'Des Moines: French for The Moines', 'We Built Sioux City on Rock and Roll', 'Don't Meth With Iowa', 'I Went to the Iowa State Fair and All I Got Was Type 2 Diabetes', and 'Everything's Greater in Slater' (hint to the Slater crowd who reads my blog). Yes, I know, you're now even more jealous of how exciting my life is.

Okay, I really should sleep -- I'm going to take an impromptu trip to see Terry, but since I haven't slept so much recently and haven't packed yet, I need to go to bed if I'm going to get up in time tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

the only one who's ever known who i am, who i'm not, who i want to be

DONE.

Well, not quite done. I need to go through the manuscript tomorrow and fix the tiny things that I've been putting off (clothing choices, anachronistic words, geography), and do a proofreading pass on the scenes that I wrote today. But, after sitting in Stanford library until almost midnight and writing twenty pages of new/expanded stuff (mostly the sex scenes, for those of you who are into that sort of thing -- which is kind of a weird thing to write in a library while everyone else is studying for their econ finals), I'm done with the actual writing. And that, my friends, means I'm on track to send it to my agent by the end of the week. I'm taking the weekend off and going to LA to see Terry, so I'm glad that I'll get a couple of days off before I start plotting the next book.

I was thinking today that being a writer is either going to make me or destroy me. Most of you (some more than others), have either observed or been a victim of my tendency to keep my emotions closed up in a little shell -- I don't like messes, and it's easier to ignore some things than to deal with them, whether that's actually a good idea in the long run or not. But writing the kinds of books I'm writing requires me to find some chink in the armor and let some of the emotion out onto the page that I would never figure out how to access in real life. And you can tell that I haven't shut off the spigot yet -- I'm too wiped out, as evidenced by the fact that I was reading the words aloud as I typed when I sent some emails a few minutes ago, which is something I normally don't have to do to make sure I'm coherent.

So anyway, in the crucible in which I write, it's not just characters and scenes and words that emerge -- it's some part of me, melted down and reformed into a story that is simultaneously not about me at all and the truest thing I've ever written. If it's not true, it doesn't have the resonance necessary to draw a reader in -- but by making it true, I'm bleeding myself into it. Whether that's a positive, cathartic bleeding, a neutral act of artmaking, or a negative rehashing of the past, I don't know. Tonight, it feels good. In the morning, it may feel bad. Either way, I suspect I will be exhausted tomorrow -- this is why I can't write for ten hours every day, because a vital aspect of it is drawn from my soul, not my head, and that takes more energy than any number of powerpoints and spreadsheets.

But there's no time to be exhausted; I have to be at the gym at ten to see Alyssa (we're assessing last month's 'progress', which is nonexistent because I've been eating like crap while trying to survive the final throes of the novel), and then I need to finish this thing so that I can pack and leave for LA on Friday. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

baby, you were born this way

Am I the only person in the world who really, really hates Lady Gaga's "Born This Way"? As anyone who has ever read this blog knows, I adore "Bad Romance", and I went through flings with "Alejandro", "Poker Face", "Paper Gangsta", etc., so my problem isn't with Lady Gaga per se. However, whenever the song comes on the radio, I want to punch it in the face. It sounds like she wrote the song specifically so that it can be sung as some sort of hideous karaoke/montage scene sometime during the fourth hour of the yet-to-be-filmed "Sex and the City 3", while Samantha goes down on a seventeen-year-old and Carrie fails yet again to realize that she could just settle down and enjoy life with Big. Ugh.

And now that my minirant is over, I will get back to doing what this blog does best these days -- boring the crap out of you. I worked hard all day (poor me), starting with a training session with Alyssa, followed by lunch with my CPA, where I turned over all my tax documents and we discussed my writing and the book she wants to write someday. Then, I came home, made some tea, packed up my bag, and went to Stanford library, where I worked until sometime after seven. I made it all the way to the end of the latest round of revisions -- I have a couple of scenes to rewrite/expand, but after I do that and do some desultory clothing research, I'm done. I'm desperately hoping to finish by Thursday, so I expect that tomorrow will be more of the same.

When I could no longer handle the library (mostly because someone stinky sat down at my table; it's finals week, and he seemed to be taking the no-shower approach that I had to my honors thesis), I stopped by the CoHo and ate something while continuing to write. I got home around 8:30, and proceeded to watch a couple of hours of television; I turned it on because I needed a distraction while scouring my heaping piles of mail for a form that I couldn't find for my CPA, and then I left it on because I needed to rest my eyes from the tyranny of the laptop. So, I watched NCIS, NCIS:Los Angeles, and The Good Wife, all three of which were excellent tonight. Yes, I make fun of my parents for only watching fine CBS programming, but they trained me well. And now, I'm going to go to sleep (at midnight, shocker) so that I can get up tomorrow and write all the live long day. Goodnight!

Monday, March 14, 2011

the taxman cometh

It's only 10:30, which means it is only 9:30 according to the old daylight unsaved time, but I think I'm going to go to bed. I had a v. long, productive day, starting with an eight a.m. alarm so that I could get up and out of the house in time to get new tires. Getting the tires was quite unremarkable; they installed them in less than half an hour, during which time I successfully edited a chapter of my book. I went straight from the tire place to the gym, where I did a desultory workout and ate a salad. Then, I went to Starbucks, where I edited for several hours amongst the various Stanford kids who are in the midst of finals week.

When I got home, though, I had to finish gathering my tax documentation since I'm meeting with my CPA tomorrow. This took hours and hours, with a long break to talk to someone from my former company who wanted some advice. The problem is that I was v. disorganized with my receipts this year, and so I had to locate all of them, print out stuff that had been saved as online confirmations, and enter them into the tracking spreadsheet. Theoretically I keep a running spreadsheet all year, but I hadn't entered a single thing into that spreadsheet until today -- oops. Fifty-some receipts later, I have the full list of deductions, and I also have all the W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, etc. that I need to submit.

So while I'm pleased that I'm done, it wasn't good for zee writing; I didn't finish until 7:30, and by the time I went out and grabbed a sandwich (my grocery situation is beyond dire), I couldn't bear to look at the manuscript tonight. Instead, I did some desultory wikipedia research, and now I'm going to sleep so that I can get up and edit tomorrow (preferably before my training session with Alyssa -- but since all I have for tomorrow are her and the CPA immediately afterward, I have all the rest of the day to work). Goodnight!

you're killing me now

The switch to daylight saving time had a much larger impact on my day than I expected; I didn't wake up until eleven, and the rest of the day proceeded to be kind of a wash. I don't mean that I wasted the whole thing -- I did a load of laundry, organized approximately half of the documents I need for the appointment with my CPA on Tuesday, talked to my parents, and spent several hours working on zee romance novel -- but I wasn't particularly enthused about any of these tasks and was just generally grumpy for the entire afternoon.

As a result, I have v. little of interest to say, so I think I'll go to bed. It's only 12:30, which is early for me, but I need to get up around eight so that I can take my car in for new tires, and then I need to spend the rest of the day furiously working on zee romance novel. Yes, my life is so exciting.

And after the shortest, most boring post in recent memory, it's time for bed!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

and i won't be denied by you, the animal inside of you

I stayed up far later than I intended tonight, which is the inevitable consequence of taking a two-hour afternoon nap. The nap was, in turn, an inevitable consequence of getting up at 7am this morning, which is the earliest I've woken up in well over a month. While the alarm went off at seven, I didn't drag myself out of bed until 7:30, which made it a bit challenging to make it to Berkeley in time for the start of the romance meeting. As it turns out, I made it with ten minutes to spare for the 9:30am meeting start time, and was happy to find that there was still food left, but I missed out on almost the entire social hour before the meeting. C'est la vie, I suppose.

However, the meeting was good, if nothing else because one of the authors who spoke also has a frightening tendency to toss out and rewrite her entire manuscript every time. I sincerely hope that I never go through the massive amount of toss out/start over that I went through on this book, but at least it's nice to see that someone can have a reasonably successful career using that method even if it does lead to some madness along the way. I also got to catch up with some people I know, and so it was all lovely.

As soon as the meeting was over, I ditched the group and skipped the after-meeting optional lunch; I'm always so inspired to write after these things that I don't want to stick around. So, I drove back to Palo Alto and had a late breakfast/lunch at Joanie's Cafe, where I took the v. unusual step of writing an editorial letter to myself. Basically, this is a letter that lays out in some detail the key areas for improvement, and while I've flagged different things and made a variety of different lists, I thought I'd try writing a letter to myself to see if it helped to break through the block I've been experiencing. And, I must say that I was successful; between Joanie's and home, I wrote a three-page letter that helped me to refocus.

Then, I took a nap. Then, I procrastinated for an hour. Finally, around 6:15, I got myself into gear and went to Stanford, where I had coffee and then dinner at the CoHo while writing, before adjourning to the Stanford library and writing until 11:30pm. It's dead week at Stanford, so the library was hopping and open late for a Saturday, and the large tables with copious outlets (and no wireless access for non-students) were exactly what I needed to be productive.

I didn't get all the way through what I need to change, of course, but I rewrote the opening pages (the bane of my freaking existence) and made substantial progress with the rest. I came home shortly before the library closed at midnight, spent some time researching tires online since I need to replace mine, and then worked on zee novel for another hour.

And now, my clock has automatically switched from two a.m. to three a.m., and I am desperate for sleep. I need to spend tomorrow doing some less delightful tasks, particularly related to taxes, since I'm finally getting them done on Tuesday and I need to go through the giant piles of unopened mail and filter out the various year-end forms. Yay. Goodnight!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

so go on if it'll make you happier

Today started off fun and ended in a morass of research, trivialities, and extreme displeasure with my writing. Actually, today started off not-so-fun, since I was catching up on the Japan quake/tsunami; I saw the breaking news right as I went to bed last night, so I was aware that it had happened, but the news reports were pretty devastating. Just so all non-Californians know for future reference (since I got a call from my sister while I was showering), either a) I would have to be totally stupid and go to the beach to seek out the tsunami, or b) the tsunami would have to be an end-of-the-world event to hit Palo Alto, since we're separated from the Pacific by the Santa Cruz mountains (~1500ft elevation).

Anyway, I had lunch plans with Heather (aka dear respected madam), whose birthday is tomorrow. She took today off from work since she's going to Indiana tomorrow (she's a good midwesterner like I am), and I met up with her and Salim at Santana Row. We had a long lunch at Left Bank, where Salim and I apparently infuriated the old woman sitting next too us by laughing too boisterously (Heather noticed this; I was completely oblivious). Then, we went to Borders since it's one of the stores that is closing soon, and Heather and I gorged on romance novels; I bought like fourteen books at 40% off, plus 10% off from my Borders Rewards membership, which was a great deal. She bought a similarly high number, and Salim went a little crazy as well. Even though it was Friday at 3pm, the line was probably fifteen people long when we got in it, and the clerk said that weekends have been totally crazy. She also said that they had to close the bathrooms because people were ripping stuff off the walls and urinating everywhere, which made no sense to me. It's too bad they weren't so busy before they started putting everything on sale -- I mean, it's a good sign that people are lured in to buy books, but not a good sign that they had to discount the entire store first.

So after spending three hours with them, I came home and proceeded to halfheartedly work on zee romance novel, with a break for a nap. I was too stressed about it and desirous of productivity to go out tonight, since I've gone out every night this week, and so I skipped Timmy's birthday party to stay in and work. I made some progress, but not as much as I would have liked -- however, tomorrow is another day. I have to go to Berkeley in the morning for a romance writers meeting, so I should probably go to bed immediately -- getting up at 7 is going to be painful enough already. Goodnight!

Friday, March 11, 2011

what are you waiting for? take a bite of my heart tonight

I probably should have written tonight after dinner, but I'm back at the point in my process where I need to create new content (two or three additional scenes to flesh out the final bits of the book), and my brain is skittering around the edges of it, hopefully writing in my subconsciousness while my consciousness is doing all it can to avoid the task. Luckily I recognize this for what it is, and so just gave into the urge to read a book tonight rather than force myself to write something I'm not ready to touch. But, I'm going to bed now so that I can get up and write before lunch (so diligent to get up before nine, I know), so hopefully I'll knock off the rest of it this weekend.

The day wasn't all lost, though. I made it into the gym for my training session with Alyssa, and since she's upped the intensity of my workouts this week, everything is sore. I did a wee bit of cardio after we wrapped up, showered, grabbed a salad, came home, and worked off and on all afternoon, with a break for a nap somewhere in there. I took care of a lot of little things with my manuscript, like certain formatting issues, chronology checking to make sure that every scene happens on the right date, grammar checking for the few verb conjugations I wasn't 100% sure of, etc. It's all necessary, even if I probably need to buckle down and write those scenes more than I need to make sure that all my double-hyphens are properly turned into em-dashes.

But, I finally threw in the towel around 6:15 and drove to Mountain View to meet John, Jess and Chandlord for a Blood of Lincoln festivity at a Sri Lankan restaurant that we had never been to before. We were going to go to Taste Buds, but Chandlord suggested this place and I seconded because I wanted more protein than Taste Buds typically provides. As it turns out, the choice was inspired; the food was all really good, particularly this Sri Lankan fish curry that was one of the best curries I've had in awhile. Everything else we had was straight up Indian, but it was all tasty. Chandlord was uncharacteristically late, but we had fun until she showed up, and then we somehow managed to keep having a good time despite her presence. As usual, I can't recount anything that we talked about since the jhokes will be lost on you, but it was certainly entertaining.

After two hours there, though, it was time to come home, and when I got here I took one look at my manuscript before picking up my Kindle instead. And now, it's time for bed; I have both lunch and dinner plans tomorrow, and I need to get some writing done in between, so sleep cannot be denied. Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

like a big bad wolf i'm born to be bad and bad to the bone

I think I'm going to pack up the laptop and go to bed early (for me) -- the good news is that I finally finished entering all the edits, so I should be able to go back and fix the couple of scenes that I marked to expand/rewrite tomorrow and hopefully get this thing to my betas in time for the weekend. Of course, I would have liked to have done more, but these pages were brutally difficult to read/enter because I rewrote so much of them on the paper copy, so entering the edits took a long time. I also spent some quality time at the gym around noon, doing the cardio workout Alyssa suggested (I think she wants to kill me -- I was driving with one hand while drinking water this afternoon, and when I tried to turn the car to the right, I had a dreadful moment where I realized that my muscles were in too much pain to steer, but it came out okay in the end). And, I ran a quick errand to California Ave., where I went to a store called Zombie Runner (the name should tell you that in some ways it's not my scene at all, and in other ways it's the only scene I want -- but they seemed high on runners and low on zombies, so I was disappointed) and got a new pair of training shoes. They aren't nearly as sexy as a hot pair of Stuart Weitzman stilettos, but hey, that's the life I'm living right now.

Anyway, I worked all afternoon, but I took a break to go out for dinner with Durand and Jenni. Heather (aka dear respected madam) was supposed to come too, but since she wasn't feeling well and since Jenni's fiance James had to work, it was just the three of us. It was great to see them; I saw Durand a few weeks ago when we had dinner at Mission Beach Cafe, and I ran into Jenni on campus last week, but I hadn't caught up with either of them in awhile. We ate at Vive Sol, which was super tasty, and it was nice to spend a couple of hours out of the house -- my social life has certainly taken a turn for the better this week, even if I probably should have kept it minimalist so that I would have more time to finish the book.

When I got home a little after nine, I forced myself to finish typing the edits, and then I permitted myself to watch tonight's "Top Chef: All-Stars". After the episode (which was heartbreaking, but at least the girl I'm rooting for didn't get sent home), I messed around and read some publishing blogs for an hour, and now I think I should sleep. I'm training with Alyssa tomorrow morning, and then I need to power through some major edits during the afternoon if I have any hope of finishing this thing. I also have dinner plans tomorrow night (I'm such a social butterfly), so I can't waste the afternoon away like I might like to. Goodnight!

i kept everything inside and even though i tried, it all fell apart

I've got nothing of importance to say tonight, and my arms are starting to hurt from this morning's workout with Alyssa, so I'll keep this brief. I spent four hours at the gym today, most of which was not working out; I trained with Alyssa and then did some cardio afterwards, but then I took my time showering, grabbed a salad from the cafe, and sat in the cafe with my laptop for an hour because I had an appointment with Art to stretch out/massage my shoulders and chest (not in the way my chest got massaged in India - this was 100% muscle massage and 0% nipple massage). When I finally got done at the gym, I came home, did a bit of work, took a nap, worked for another hour, and then loaded up a backpack full of books and took them to Stanford library to be renewed (I have a card, but I don't have access to the online renewal system, which is kind of a pain).

I should have worked tonight -- if I had stayed home, I probably could have finished entering the edits. Instead, I drove up to the evil city and had dinner with Chandlord and Geetika, whom I knew many years ago but who just recently moved back to the city from London. I was actually early (crazy), and so put our name in for a table at flour+water, which is a trendy pasta place. Chandlord was also early, so we hung out together for half an hour whilst waiting for Geetika. Sadly, Geetika was merely on time, so we watched several tables go ahead of us (they only seat full parties) and ended up sitting in the middle of the big communal table, which made it a bit difficult to hear. But, my pasta was totally awesome, even if I'm supposed to be limiting my evening carb intake, and we shared some sort of chocolatey dish that was delish.

When we finally parted ways, I took Chandlord home (and based on our conversation, I'm totally convinced that she should be a joke writer). Then, I drove back down to the glorious south bay, getting here around 11:40ish. And now, even though this is the most boring post I've written in awhile (I threw in a reference to breast massage to try to save it, but I think I failed), I'm going to go to bed and hope that I can entertain you better tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

some girls are sadistic, materialistic

I wasn't utterly productive today; I'm still not done entering edits into my computer, but since I'm at the point in the manuscript where I rewrote virtually every single page, my eyes needed a break. The manuscript is absolutely covered in green ink, mostly tiny marginalia with a lot of arrows and squiggles and lines crossing out other lines, etc., so it's quite hard to read.

But, I did work for several hours today -- first in the morning/early afternoon, and then in the later afternoon after my session at the gym. I also talked to my brother this afternoon, which is rare for us; he's v. busy with grad school and I'm v. lazy about calling people, which is usually a bad combination for us. But, it was good to catch up with him, since usually I just hear about him second-hand through our parents. After the phone call, I went to the gym and did my cardio as ordered by Alyssa, then ran a couple of errands, came home, and worked for another hour or two.

Happily, I got out of the house again for a bona fide social outing (crazy, I know). I met Chandlord in Cupertino for what was originally supposed to be Starbucks but instead became a drink at the Duke of Edinburgh pub. It was lovely to see her, since it had been far too long -- the last time I saw her was when she spent the night after watching 'Eurotrip', which was over two weeks ago, and that kind of time apart is almost criminal. Unfortunately, we had nothing to say to each other since all I do is edit and all she does is work, but we somehow got through the hour without falling asleep from boredom, so I suppose it was a success?

After drinks, I came home, making a stop at Baja Fresh for a v. un-Alyssa-approved burrito (but it was beyond tasty, and the idea of eating a salad made me want to stab myself in the face). Then, I got home and stared briefly at my manuscript before deciding to take the night off and read a book. I put the book down around midnight, and spent the last hour taking care of some correspondence -- mostly romance industry related, following up on that critique I did yesterday and also sending a couple of emails related to the awards ceremony for the romance conference in NYC this summer, since I'm part of the planning committee (although I haven't been super active yet).

And now, I should really go to sleep. I'm training with Alyssa tomorrow morning, and then I'm going to sit down and enter the last seventy pages of edits into my computer if it kills me. Goodnight!

Monday, March 07, 2011

i'm only gonna break break br-break break your heart

My productive hermitage continues uninterrupted; today was not quite as productive as I intended, mostly because I reached a point where I could not physically look at the screen any longer, and so I took a break and didn't finish inputting edits from the paper copy of my manuscript to my computer. But, I will finish tomorrow, and then the edits begin again (much like Michael Finnegan).

I got a lot of sleep last night, which was nice; when I woke up, I messed around and did some procrastinating before going to Joanie's Cafe for lunch. While I was there, I read a story that I was critiquing for someone, then came home and intended to type up the critique, but instead sat around and avoided it because I needed to let my brain mull over the words for a bit (which is my strategy for dulling the sharpness of my critiques, since if I say what I think as soon as I think it, I tend to draw blood -- I had to do the same thing with performance reviews too). I called my parents as well, as is my wont, and today we talked for two hours, which was nice (albeit depressing, since they told me about some goats that burned up in their neighbor's shed).

After getting off the phone with them, it was five o'clock here, and I proceeded to start working on the edits. I worked for five hours straight, with a break to eat some frozen pizza (which will earn a questionable look from Alyssa, although she was happy with what I ate last week because I didn't go out and so was limited to the generally healthy stuff I had stocked my fridge with). By ten p.m., my head was pounding, my eyes were crossing, and I couldn't stand the thought of typing anymore -- so I watched television (a tivo'd recording of Oprah's post-Oscar episode and an episode of Craig, plus five minutes of a v. disturbing CSI:Miami (yaaaaaaaaaaaah!)) while practicing my knitting. I've got a ways to go before I'll feel confident enough in my knit stitch to move on to purl, and from there to the fingerless gloves I want to make in abundance, but my rows are generally uniform and there are no noticeable holes, so I think I'll get there. Then, from midnight to one a.m., I typed up that critique that I had been avoiding, and now it's time for bed.

Tomorrow brings more of the same - edits and hermitage. If you're sick of reading about edits and hermitage, just think - you only have to read about them for three minutes a day, but it takes me sixteen hours a day of edits/hermitage to generate the content for this post. I'm doing it for you, dear reader. Goodnight!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

collecting your jar of hearts

I just hit the wall -- my head hurts and I can no longer quite focus on the computer screen, so I think it's time to go to bed. I did get ten hours of sleep last night, which was fantastic, and then I proceeded to be mostly productive for the entire day. After I made some oatmeal, I finished editing the last 25 pages of my book, and I was thrilled to reach the end (it even made me cry, but since I could be delirious by now since I've done nothing but edit for ten days, I won't vouch for its ability to move others to tears as well). Then, I took a break and went to the gym. When I finished there, I attempted to go to Starbucks to start the long process of putting the edits into the computer version of my manuscript, but it was too crowded, so I came home and started working at my kitchen table.

And I proceeded to work from five p.m. until now (one a.m.), with a break to make dinner (which was super fast -- poached eggs on top of corn tortillas with refried beans, avocado, sour cream, and some delish green salsa that I picked up recently). It took that long to enter the edits from the first half of the book, so the second half is going to take all day tomorrow (boo). I had intended to send the whole thing off to my beta readers by tonight, but that goal has now changed to Monday or Tuesday. But, I shall persevere; what I'm entering so far is in really good shape, although I need to rewrite the beginning again and go back through the whole thing to do another proofreading pass.

And that, my friends, is all I've got. Goodnight!

Friday, March 04, 2011

all my life i've been good, but now...i'm thinking what the hell

Today was totally wonderful, with a slight dip in the afternoon where I thought it might go sad and wonky, but it recovered just in time and ended on a high. It was not totally wonderful waking up, however; since I got less than six hours of sleep for the second night in a row, I was not in a good place. But, I dragged myself out of bed, ate some Cheerios (breakfast of champions), and made it to the gym to train with Alyssa. She tortured my upper body this morning, but it was a manageable sort of torture, and after our workout I put in a bit more quality time on the treadmill before showering, grabbing a salad from the cafe, and coming home. I gave myself some procrastination time and checked Twitter, etc., while eating my salad, and then I sat down to edit.

And I successfully spent most of the afternoon editing; I took an inadvertent half-hour break in the form of a nap somewhere around two, and then I moved to the kitchen table so that it wouldn't happen again. Katie, the queen of my heart, called me later in the afternoon and we chatted for a bit, but I had to hang up on her abruptly because one of the girls from my writing group stopped by to drop off a copy of her finished manuscript that I agreed to beta read. She's the one whom I had lunch with before the holidays and that I have quite a bit in common with, and I'm looking forward to reading her book. Her boyfriend is a consultant and is doing a "focus group" with us at the end of March to facilitate a conversation about the book while she listens and takes notes, which should be an interesting exercise -- my beta readers have been super helpful, but they all live in different cities/states and so I've never spoken to them as a group.

Anyway, Katie had moved on to bigger and better things by the time I called her back (I think she was offended by my suggestion that she might like vampire erotica if she stopped being close-minded about fantastical elements in stories (and by that I mean vampires/otherworldly beings in general, not the erotica part)), so I proceeded to edit some more. Somewhere in there, Katrina canceled our planned drinks excursion, which made me sadder than I either a) care to admit or b) usually feel. While there was a part of me that was like, "Yay, more edits!", another part of me was craving human contact and so was sad to face the prospect of an entire weekend without plans. But, I changed into my pajamas (at 4pm), pulled me hair up, and started editing in earnest, deciding to make do with what I had.

Happily, though, Katrina restarted our plans, turning it into food/drinks at La Bodeguita del Medio, which is a delicious Cuban place less than a mile from my house. It was ridiculous that she restarted it, since she had to drive back down from the city for it -- but as she said, it may have been faster for her to drive down her than to look for parking and then wait for a table in the city, since she found parking right in front of the restaurant door and we were seated as soon as we walked in. She picked me up on the way, and then we picked up Kirsten, who is the bona fide writer who lives in my neighborhood and came over when Katrina and I were playing with makeup a few weeks ago.

We ended up staying at the restaurant for three hours, despite the aggressive clearing of plates by the waitstaff. The conversation was a riot, none of which I can divulge here for the sake of confidentiality -- you will just have to invite me out someplace so that you can experience it live. It was really nice to get out of the house and hang out, so I'm glad the plan ended up working out. And it's clear how desperate I am for human contact this week, since Vidya and others can attest to the fact that I usually don't say yes to last-minute plans (because I have a misplaced notion that I should be working), but even though I was editing the climax of the book, I happily dropped my green pen mid-sentence and walked out the door as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

But, the editing is going v. well, so it was good to take a break -- I edited about 40 pages today, and I only have another 25 to go before I'm done with this round of edits. I still have work to do -- I have to enter all those edits into the computer, which will take hours, and there are a couple of scenes that I need to either write/add in or rework significantly. But, I think I can send it to my agent in a week and a half as promised if I continue to work diligently for the next ten days.

Now, though, I'm super exhausted, and so even though it's not yet midnight, I'm going to make the v. unexpected move of going to bed immediately. Goodnight!

black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow

Today was a v. pleasant day that ended in a wonderful surprise, which is why I'm still up at 1:30am even though I slept incredibly poorly last night and intended to go to bed like a normal person tonight. The poor sleep was unfortunate; I didn't fall asleep until sometime after 2:30, and then I inexplicably woke up around eight and couldn't go back to sleep. So, I finally gave up and got out of bed, which enabled me to make some delicious oatmeal for breakfast and take my time eating it, rather than rushing around like a crazy person before going to meet up with Alyssa at the gym.

The training session was good; apparently getting up earlier and eating better before it is helpful, since I felt like I had more energy despite the ridiculous tings she had me do. I did a bit of cardio after working out with her, and then took longer than usual to get ready because I properly blowdried my hair (rather than drying the bangs and pulling the rest into a ponytail) and then got all dolled up in a dress and a pair of 3.5" heels (quite a shock to my poor feet, since I alternate between uggs, converse, and fuzzy socks in my unemployed state). As I mentioned last night, the big boss and her temporary replacement minion invited me to the lunch taking place during the big boss's leadership conference, and I showed up right on time (I'm turning over a new leaf).

It went down pretty much how I expected, in that I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in ages (including the folks from Dublin, Singapore, India, etc. whom I didn't get to say goodbye to in person when I left), probably didn't see everyone I would have liked to have seen, and somehow felt like I belonged there even though on the surface it was incredibly unusual and odd to invite a former employee to hang out during an internal lunch. But, no one else seemed to find it that unusual or odd, and it was nice to feel welcomed. Alan (the boss I had before I took my leave of absence) did suggest that I should come back and see if the third time's the charm in terms of me quitting and returning, but I took that as a compliment more than anything else.

Unfortunately I didn't actually get to talk to the big boss beyond a few sentences, since she was as busy as she always is, but we're having coffee in a couple of weeks. Several people suggested that I stay for the afternoon session, which would have been even more ridiculous than being there for lunch, so I took my leave. I do have a book to write, after all, even if lunch was fun. So I went to Starbucks, wrote for a while, came home, procrastinated, took a nap, made dinner (salmon and potatoes -- meeting Alyssa's suggestion to eat more fish and ignoring the goal to eat fewer carbs for dinner), and then proceeded to do some more editing. The overall editing today was great, even if my pace remains slow.

I was supposed to have dinner with John and Jess tonight, but they canceled because John is ill. So I intended to edit all night until now -- but at around 9:40, I saw that I had a missed call from Felicia. I called her back, and it turns out that Nita was in town for one night only, and so they came over to my house to visit. They didn't leave until almost 12:30, and since I volunteered to take Nita back to her hotel so that Felicia didn't have to go out of her way before going back to the east bay, I didn't get home until 1. But it was amazing to see both of them; I felt a little bad for Felicia, because the conversation was mostly dominated by me and Nita discussing romance novels (since we have basically identical taste, right down to these vampire erotica books that I have never had the courage to recommend to anyone else even though they are among the most heartrending/emotional books I've ever read -- how the author makes me sob hysterically after a vampire threesome is beyond me, but she's a seriously talented writer). I hadn't seen Nita in like four years, so it was wonderful to catch up, and Felicia and I hatched tentative plans to try to go down to San Diego and see Walter (if he'll have us).

But now, I should really sleep; I have a bonus third training session with Alyssa tomorrow to round out the week, and then I need to edit all afternoon before going out for drinks with Katrina. Goodnight!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

so i cherish our moments when we were still young

I'm too desperate to go to bed to think of my own title, so I shamelessly stole the lyric my brother used for his blog post tonight - at least if the lyric is wrong this time, he has no one to blame but himself!

Today was lovely, despite the dreary weather that is settling in to stay awhile. I didn't succeed in getting up at 8:45, alas; I got up around 9:30, which was early enough to wash dishes, make breakfast, shower, and get all dolled up for lunch, but early enough to make it to the gym beforehand. I'll be honest and say that I didn't particularly want to go to the gym, which probably encouraged my tardiness, and I don't really feel bad about it since I'm doing an extra special bonus third session with Alyssa this week (training tomorrow and Friday), which may kill me. So, I enjoyed my last non-workout before my death v. much.

My lunch plans were with Gyre, whom I have lunch with semi-regularly; the lunches are supposed to be every three weeks, but we inevitably end up rescheduling. This lunch was originally on calendar for last week, but I moved it because I went to Monterey. Amusingly, I realized last night that today was the first day of this year's leadership conference for the group I used to work with, and I planned the inaugural version of this event last year for the big boss. That meant that I stood a v. good chance of running into people, which of course happened, although the only people I saw were either not invited or were clearly playing hooky from the event, since I carefully timed my departure to avoid them.

Avoidance did not entirely work, however. I sent an email tonight to the girl who got suckered into planning the conference, since the big boss still hasn't hired someone to replace me (which is either flattering, since I handed in my resignation in August of last year, or sad, since perhaps she doesn't need my role), and I congratulated the poor thing on making it through the first half of the conference. She wrote back a couple of hours later, said she'd told the big boss about my email, and they both invited me to the conference lunch tomorrow.

How bizarre, right? As far as I know, I'm the only former employee to be invited to such a gathering, since there are all the confidentiality issues, etc., but since I didn't go to work for a competitor, I suppose it doesn't matter. I debated for awhile, but I eventually said yes; it may be hella awkward, but there are some people from out of town whom I would like to see, so we'll see how it goes. And I have an excuse to wear a pair of the expensive heels that I used to love before my wardrobe reverted to pajamas and fuzzy socks, so there's always that.

So back to today -- Gyre and I had lunch (which was a v. welcome return to the social world for me), and he showed me around my old building since they've started a massive redecorating campaign (although the streamers from my going-away party are still up in the conference room where I bid them all farewell). Then, I went to Target and Whole Foods, came home, did a load of laundry, and edited about 25 pages of zee romance novel (with a break for dinner). My pace has slowed down remarkably, since I'm basically crossing out and rewriting almost every sentence; but despite that, I'm feeling really good about most of it, and I'm still making progress. Finally, though, I needed to call it quits, and so I watched tonight's "Top Chef: All Stars", caught up on Twitter, etc., and am now going to bed. Tomorrow's going to be eventful, since I have a training session with Alyssa, that bizarre lunch invite, and dinner with the Blood of Lincoln gang (which sounds so much more threatening than it will ever be) -- and I have to fit in another 30 pages of editing, at least, if I'm going to finish this book on schedule. Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

i hear in my mind all of these voices

I had a lovely, productive day today, which was totally worth it even if I am going on a week without seeing anyone I know (other than Alyssa, whom I saw this morning, although that doesn't count for the purposes of my pity party). My social drought ends tomorrow, since I have lunch plans at my former place of employment, and I'm making some other tentative plans for later in the week so that I can get out of the house and remember that there are people out there in the world who are not merely characters that I've created in my head.

Since I didn't go to bed until after two a.m. last night, getting up this morning was painful, but I made it into the gym for my ten a.m. session with Alyssa. It was good to see her and good to get back into some sort of routine after nearly a week away (and good to shower with their Kiehl's products, which I certainly missed in Monterey). I grabbed a salad there, went to Starbucks with the intention of working, but was driven out because it was surprisingly crowded for 1pm on a Tuesday. So I came home and worked off and on until now; the afternoon was somewhat consumed by finishing the Golden Heart judging, since I had to submit scores today, and I also ate a snack, took a nap, and eventually made dinner (salmon w/caesar salad, yum). Alyssa and I are currently battling over whether I can continue to sleep late and stay up late; I predict that I will win, since it's much more my decision than it is hers and I'm constitutionally incapable of getting up at six a.m. for no good reason. But, my sleep schedule does make it hard to eat the three meals and 2-3 snacks that she would prefer and still stop eating around seven; if I stop eating at seven, that means it's usually at least fourteen hours before I get up and eat again, and I'm starving at midnight. As a compromise, I may get to eat a nighttime snack (yay), but it can't be carbs (boo), so we'll see what happens.

I'm not quite as obsessed with all of that as the last paragraph may have sounded, but since Alyssa was the only person I saw today, it's all I have to share. I also spent some serious quality time with my manuscript and managed to edit forty pages. This is the part of the book that I like the least (the bridge between the midpoint climax and when everything starts going to hell (in a good way) towards the end), so I suspect I'll have to make another pass or two at it -- but it's in a much better place than it was, so I can live with that. And now, I think I shall go to sleep -- and while I will not be waking up at six, I would like to be out of bed at the awfully early hour of nine. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

but if you feel like i feel, i got the antidote

The editing is still going strong, despite some major procrastination that I engaged in tonight; I knew as I was doing it that I was procrastinating because I was afraid of what the next few scenes held, and I was right to be afraid, since it took me two hours to edit/rewrite six pages (three pages and hour is substantially slower than the 10-15 I was averaging while working on the first half of the book). But, since this is the part of the book that is almost entirely rough, never-been-edited draft, I'm not surprised -- just daunted.

I must have needed to recover from the editing extravaganza, because I ended up sleeping until almost noon. Oops. I did manage to drag myself out of bed and into the shower, but I failed to go to the gym. And since I had no food in the house, I went out for lunch, and spent a couple of hours at Joanie's and then Starbucks editing a long scene that serves as the midpoint climax (in the 'peak of the action' sense, not the 'orgasm' sense, although there are a few of the other kind of climax right before the midpoint, if you get my drift). Then, I went to Trader Joe's and bought some groceries to tide me over, came home, unloaded the dishwasher, did a bunch of dishes, made myself a big pot of russian blend tea (which is v. smoky and dark, the kind of stuff you could imagine yourself drinking in Siberia if you were stationed there as a gulag guard who actually got to drink tea, rather than a gulag inmate who had to make do with mud), and settled in at my desk...

...where I proceeded to procrastinate. However, at least some of my procrastination was worthwhile; I wrote two posts for zee romance blog, one for today and one to be published on Wednesday. The one today is all about how much servants made during the Regency period (hint: not much), and the fact that if I can't have a servant, I really want to buy this absurdly expensive teamaker that has automatic start functionality, keep-warm ability, and a whole range of temperatures and steeping times so that you can brew the perfect cup of looseleaf tea. Basically, the autostart and the keep-warm function are common features on any $25 coffeepot, but I can't use a coffeepot with looseleaf tea because the tea has to steep, and dripping water through it won't cut it. And there are precious few teamakers on the market because Americans are barbarians who are fine drinking teabags. But I won't say anymore here; you can read zee romance blog if you're curious (which I know you aren't, and that's okay).

But after doing some blogging and having some fun on twitter, I finally sat down and edited for another couple of hours, and managed to turn a scene I was about to cut into a little gem that serves multiple purposes at this point in the plot. Yay me. And now, I'm going to go to bed; I have to meet Alyssa for a training session tomorrow morning, and while I have precious few illusions about the likelihood of me getting up to edit before I see her, I can at least pretend that I will. Goodnight!