Saturday, April 30, 2011

in december drinking horchata

I just realized I need to go to bed immediately; I didn't change my laptop clock, and just realized that it's 12:30am instead of 11:30pm. Since I want to be out of here before nine, I should probably get some sleep.

But, today was a lovely day. Katie, James and I had a leisurely breakfast at the mexican place down the street, which meant that I was uncomfortably full most of the day because I ate too many chips before getting my huevos machacados (eggs scrambled with chicken and a variety of other ingredients). Then, we came home and took naps, which was a godsend. After we took our naps, Katie and I went to Tattered Cover, which is this awesome bookstore in downtown Denver that I happen to follow in Twitter. I was v. disappointed in their romance selection, but overall I loved the store -- they have a wonderful space with a very distinct ambience, and we enjoyed wandering around. I bought an edition of 'The Canterbury Tales' and some book that Katie averted her eyes from (a novel replete with fallen angels, ancient prophecies, etc., since I'm still researching the market for my gargoyle project). Katie and I attempted to go to a teashop afterwards, but the teashop was closed for a private party, so we went to a coffee shop where the ambience was cool and the service was awful. But, despite the service, we spent a couple of hours talking, which was much enjoyed by all.

James picked us up so that we could come home and change, and then we went to a pizza place, where we met up with a couple of James's cousins. The pizza was great; we got a prosciutto pizza and a sausage pizza (or rather, two halves of the same gigantic pizza), and Katie and I split a salad. It was delicious and the conversation was entertaining, but Katie and I bailed out around 9:15 because her throat hurt and I needed to finish grading some entries for a contest that I'm judging. I should have sent them tonight but I failed to grade the last one, so I'm going to do it over a break while I'm driving tomorrow. So, we sat around and watched tv while I graded, and now I'm going to go to bed. Hopefully by this time tomorrow I'll be in Iowa!

Friday, April 29, 2011

god save the queen

Today was a lovely day, but I'm still in Denver; upon waking up exhausted and realizing that I had neither the physical nor the emotional stamina to fly back to California tonight, attend a funeral, and then return directly to Denver, I canceled my flight. Luckily, I had booked on Southwest and so got a full credit to use on a future flight, and Katie and James seemed willing to put up with me for an extra night and day. We took our time getting ready this morning, and then went to the Denver Four Seasons for their supposed royal wedding coverage. They were just playing whatever was on Lifetime, which wasn't the wedding -- at that point in the afternoon, it was just endless mild gossip about the royal family. But, it was still totally fun -- they were serving English pub fare, and my bangers and mash were fantastic. I had two drinks that they were calling a 'british baby' -- vodka, champagne and passionfruit, which is apparently Will and Kate's favorite drink (although a bit of research says that the drink is called a 'crack baby' at the club they frequent in London). As any longtime reader of this blog knows, champagne cocktails are my especial weakness, and my fondness for them knows no bounds. And luckily, all our drinks were free; the bartender accidentally spilled Katie's drink, miraculously missing our dresses but getting a bit on James, and the dude was so embarrassed that he comped our libations. Score!

After a couple of hours at the bar, we walked around a few blocks of downtown Denver, came home, lazed about, changed into something more appropriate for the rapidly falling temperatures, and walked down to this restaurant called Root Down. We got there at 4:30, just in time for happy hour to start, and were barely able to find seats at the bar, but luckily we scored a table for three and proceeded to eat, drink and be merry. The food was on par with any foodie establishment in San Francisco; I had a carrot and red thai curry soup that was out of this world good, and a small plate of two diver scallops with a plantain hash that was amazing as well. We also split some sweet potato fries, and I had another cocktail (blood orange caipirinha) and a glass of red wine. Appropriately soused by six p.m., we walked home and watched 3.5 hours of royal wedding footage that James had thoughtfully tivo'd. I didn't cry, but I did think that Kate's dress was absolutely perfect, and I liked the service quite a bit. Of course, the news commentators were mostly annoying, and they were calling her a princess afterwards even though she's a duchess rather than a princess, but other than that I thought it was great. And then we watched some sitcoms and some ridiculous ninja/gladiator competition from Japan before realizing we all needed to go to sleep.

So, I'm glad that I stayed in Denver -- it's been great to see Katie and James for the first time since that epic evening in Iowa with Adit, Omar and my family last 4th of July, and I'm quite enjoying the laid-back nature of our plans. Tomorrow we intend to do nothing more than shop, eat, and possibly see a terrible movie -- I can't wait. Goodnight!

and they lived happily ever after

So, Katie, James and I are not staying up all night to watch the royal wedding. I'm too wiped out from the drive, and they apparently live like real people, so we were all too tired to keep going. It's 2:16am mountain daylight time, so we did pretty well -- but we're going to sleep, get up and around in a leisurely fashion tomorrow morning, and then have lunch at the Four Seasons (which is showing wedding coverage all day). This sounds ideal to me, particularly since I drove almost 800 miles today and would like to get some sleep.

Yeah, so the drive. Ugh. I didn't sleep as well as I would have liked last night, and dreamt too many dreams, and so I wasn't fully rested when I finally stumbled out of bed. I was out of Elko around 8:45am (pacific time), fueled with a large McDonald's coffee and some leftover pizza, and proceeded to drive through major swathes of four different states (big states, not little eastern-seaboard types). Given that I kept stopping for gas, caffeine, and then bathrooms to ameliorate the side effects of too much caffeine, I did pretty good by getting here by 10:30pm (mountain time) - but that means I drove for thirteen hours. Really, though, it wasn't too bad; there was a span between Rawlins, Wyoming, and Laramie, Wyoming, where I was really tired and on the verge of wanting to quit, but when I got to Laramie I put my contacts back in, changed my clothes, got some chicken strips, and was miraculously wide awake again.

My other tactic was so dorky that I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I listened to the first three or four hours of an audio version of 'The Odyssey' as narrated by Ian McKellan (aka Gandalf). Given that this is an 11-CD behemoth and I only made it to the middle of the third CD, I still have a lot to go. But, the narration was lovely, it was interesting to see how Homer was so vivid with his descriptions, and it's 'research' for my next romance novel (which is a loose Regency retelling of the Odyssey). And it kept me awake, which was the main thing.

When I finally arrived, Katie and James were waiting for me, and James made me a professional-grade pismo sour before we settled in to catch up. Katie and I mostly gossiped while James played Halo, and it was a wonderful, relaxing end to a long day. Now I'm kind of wishing that I wasn't flying back to California tomorrow; I want to go to my friend's service, but it's going to be hard, and being with Katie and James is v. easy. At least the ticket is on Southwest; if I change my mind in the afternoon, I can get a credit for it without any problems.

But now, I should really sleep -- William and Kate (and Katie and James, of course) await. Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

say goodbye to hollywood

Really, anyone who has any job other than professional trucking should not be so familiar with the 1800 miles of I-80 between Palo Alto and Iowa as I am. I didn't even need directions today - I just got in the car and started heading west. Unfortunately, I didn't get out of my house until around 10:15, and so I stopped earlier than I intended to - I'm in Elko, Nevada, which ranks right up there as one of my less-favorite places. I'm glad I stopped, though; I got the last room in the Elko Best Western, several of the other motels were sold out, and I didn't want to risk driving another hour and a half to the smaller town of Wendover (where I originally intended to stop) and discovering that there were no rooms. And, since my phone has for some reason rebelled and decided to stop providing me with data even though AT&T's coverage map claims perfect data coverage alone the I-80 corridor, looking up hotels in advance would have proved tricky.

Anyway, the drive today was actually pretty nice, even if I hate Elko. I mean, this is the sixth time I've seen this stretch of Nevada, and I don't know how many times I've seen the part from the bay area to Tahoe, but it's still rather scenic. And once I was past Reno, I set the cruise to 80 and just drove for hours. Yay.

And that's all I have to report, sadly - there isn't much to say when everything I did involved sitting in a car or stopping at gas stations. I did have Pizza Hut for supper, though - the fact that I had Pizza Hut and called it 'supper' shows that I'm quickly reverting to my midwest roots. But now, I should really sleep; I need to get out here earlier than 10am if I'm going to make it to Denver at a reasonable hour. Goodnight!

on the road again

It's quite odd packing for a 2.5 week roadtrip while also anticipating being home again in 2.5 days. While I never again want to do a roadtrip in which I abandon my car and fly back in the middle of it for a funeral, there are certainly upsides to the itinerary (that of course don't outweigh the massive downside of attending a freaking funeral) - knowing I'm coming home again on Friday means that I don't have to worry about unloading the dishwasher, and if I forget something, I'll be able to pick it up when I'm home. That made packing substantially less stressful, which is good - packing for mountains, plains, deserts, and cities is quite challenging.

Anyway, today was rather hectic; I kicked it off by going into the gym to see Alyssa, who reassessed me before my trip. Technically I only lost two pounds, although we agreed that I was retaining water and had actually lost closer to five; better, my body fat percentages are dropping dramatically, and my overall strength is improving in tandem. This is all a good thing - if I were doing this on my own, I would probably be going to the gym rarely and starving myself instead, so while my weight would be dropping, I wouldn't really be any healthier. We agreed that I would do my best not to get off-track in the land of interstate fast-food, and that we would hit it v. hard when I get back. Alyssa's version of 'v. hard' and my version are probably two different things, but hopefully we'll meet somewhere in the middle without killing me.

After the gym, I came home, took care of a bunch of stuff, then ran over to my old office to see Gyre. We've been trying to get together for a couple of weeks, and I wanted to see him before I left because of everything that happened with James + the fact that Gyre's wife is expecting - she's due in June, but she could very well deliver quite early based on what happened with her first two pregnancies. So, it was good to catch up; I scheduled 45mins on calendar, but ended up staying for an hour and a half. After he escorted me to the door (but failed to prevent me from stuffing my purse with a couple of beverages for the trip), I got my car washed, came home, started packing, and didn't get very far.

Then, I had to scurry out again for a romance writer function. Jayne Ann Krentz, who also writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, was speaking at Kepler's bookstore tonight, and she invited a bunch of local romance writers to have 'high tea' with her at a tea shop near Kepler's beforehand. It was such a lovely gesture, and she was truly wonderful; she introduced herself as soon as I walked in, seemed to introduce herself personally to everyone who attended (probably 25 or 30 in all), offered to answer questions in the smaller group before the talk, and paid for the whole thing. It was both a lovely gesture and a v. savvy move; by having tea beforehand, she ensured that all of us would show up to the event at Kepler's, thus showing an independent bookstore that people will turn out for romance events. In fact, when I showed up at Kepler's, it was clear that they really underestimated the crowd - they ended up having to set up over twice as many chairs as they originally had out, which was awesome.

I invited Heather (aka dear respected madam) to attend the speaking event at Kepler's, and she was waiting there when I arrived. I think she quite enjoyed her peek into the weird and wonderful world of romance novelists, and I enjoyed showing her what my secret double life is actually like. After the talk, she and I adjourned to Cafe Borrone, where she had a late dinner, I had a latte, we shared dessert, and we had a v. long, leisurely conversation about all that has happened in the past week. It was great to catch up before my trip, and while I'll see her again at the service on Saturday, this was obviously to be preferred.

Then, I came home, packed like mad, wrapped up loose ends, and am now ready for my trip. Driving means it's pretty easy to just toss a bunch of stuff in the car, which means I way overpacked, but that's no big deal. So tomorrow I just have to shower and load up the car and I'm on my way! Wish me luck, friends; barring disaster or oversleeping, I should make it to eastern Nevada/western Utah by tomorrow night. Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

written in the stars a million miles away

I'm slowly but surely crossing things off my to-do list, even though I don't particularly want to do any of it. As a result, I have nothing of interest to report here tonight. I mean, seriously, nothing.

So if you're still here, don't say I didn't warn you. I woke up in time to make it into the gym, where I got a massage (yes, my life is rough) in an attempt to get some of the tension out of my shoulders and calves before starting my drive across the Great American West. I don't think I was particularly successful, since my back still hurts, but given that I'm stressed, sad, and generally in a local minima, I'm neither surprised nor particularly enthusiastic about the chances that it will magically heal itself tomorrow. Then, I ran some errands, grabbed a late lunch, came home, did some stuff on zee internet, took a nap, did some more stuff, and went to Stanford campus with the intention of doing all the scoring for the contest entries I read last night.

I ended up only doing one, which took well over an hour, and so I'm a bit concerned about how long it will take to score the other three. But, I ran out of patience for the exercise, so I came home, procrastinated a bit, answered a whole bunch of email that I'd been avoiding, and squared away some bill payments and tings.

And now, I think I shall go to bed. Don't worry, the blog will get more interesting starting tomorrow, since I have things happening outside the house with real people (amazing!) and am then leaving on my trip. But the next thirty hours or so are going to be chaotic, since I'm hoping to get out of here bright and early on Wednesday and haven't even started packing. I guess the good news (?) is that since I'm flying back here on Friday for James's funeral, I can grab anything I missed. That's an odd way to handle a road trip, but so be it. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

go on brush your shoulders off

I am quite amazed at my own productivity today - not that I was the most productive person in the world, but I was certainly more productive than I usually like to be on a Sunday. I managed to wash and fold four loads of laundry, reorganize my linen closet, change the sheets and duvet cover on my bed, clean out my car, organize some of the stuff that I need to take to Iowa, talk to my parents, and read all four entries that I needed to read for a contest that I'm judging. Doesn't that all sound lovely? Unfortunately, I felt vaguely nauseous all day, which I hope doesn't turn into anything worse, but it was probably just a combo of stress and the fact that I didn't eat anything after lunch yesterday until I decided to have a bowl of frosted flakes at 10pm.

But as a result, I have nothing interesting to share with you. I can't talk about the contest entries -- although the good news was that they were a) shorter than the last contest I judged and b) all were mechanically well-written even if some had nonsensical plots or started with way too much backstory. Unfortunately, I can't just assign a score -- I need to give comments with the scores, so I'm going to have to put in some quality time on it either tomorrow or Tuesday to finish it off before I leave on my trip. And as for the rest of the day -- well, laundry is laundry, and I have no entertaining laundry stories to share with you.

And so, I think I'll go to bed early; I need to get into the habit of going to be earlier and getting up earlier if I'm going to survive my drive across the Great American West. Goodnight!

let's make love and listen to death from above

Today was mildly unpleasant, but by the end of it I went with my tried and true cure of seeking solace in a book, which worked wonders. It's been years since anyone close to me has died, and I suppose I'd forgotten what fresh grief felt like. And anyway, it's not just my own grief that I'm feeling; while I may not be in touch with my own emotions, I have an overabundance of empathy, and I'm heartbroken for what Jenni is going through over losing her fiancee.

So I forced myself up and about to start getting things done before my trip. I got a lot of sleep last night, which was nice, and then I drank some tea, showered, and went to Joanie's for a slightly late brunch. I made a long to-do list, then prioritized it and broke it down into tasks I need to accomplish on each of the days between now and when I leave. I did okay on the list today; I went to Target and got some stuff I needed, picked up my dry cleaning, came home, washed two loads of towels, put away all my clothes, and cleaned my bedroom. I should have kept going, but the next task on the list was to judge some entries for a romance contest I'm judging, and I couldn't bear the idea of reading stuff that might bring me no enjoyment. So, I read a book instead.

And now, because this entry is so boring and I have nothing else to report, I will be merciful to you and keep it brief so that we all can move on with our day (or our night, in my case). I should get some sleep anyway, since my to-do list for tomorrow is long and arduous. Goodnight!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

into the afterlife of you and me

Hmm. So I feel slightly better today - still weirdly and dangerously vulnerable, and on the very knife-edge of tears, but I did a lot of things to drag myself into a better mood. I made it into the gym even though I had no desire to get out of bed, and I trained with Alyssa whilst watching the gym televisions. She and I are going to assess my recent progress on Tuesday, right before I leave for a roadtrip and undo it all. Hopefully I don't actually undo it all; progress is slow, but it's also steady, and I'm at least feeling a difference in terms of what I'm capable of at the gym even if I'm not noticeably skinnier. After the gym, I showered, came home and changed (since I was running too late this morning to put together an outfit to take with me), and then went to downtown Palo Alto to have lunch with someone at Reposado. My lunch date was the woman who is temporarily filling in for my old job part-time; since they haven't hired anyone to replace me, they finally broke down and got a part-time consultant to take care of stuff while they continue the search. I still don't know whether to be flattered that I'm so irreplaceable or concerned that my job apparently wasn't that important, but you can guess which way I've decided to judge it. The woman who's filling in part-time also writes mysteries, and so we spent just as much time talking about writing and the publication process as we did my old job, which was lovely.

Lunch wrapped up around 2:15, and I left Palo Alto and drove down to the southern edge of San Jose, which is where Jenni's parents live. They actually live just a little ways away from Vidya's parents, and Chandlord went to the same high school as Jenni and her sister. Anyway, I had emailed Jenni last night and didn't hear from her, as I expected, but I also emailed Lauren (my old old boss from several years ago, who became more of a friend than a boss and is Jenni's best friend), who told me I should stop by the house since Jenni was doing better if people were around. So, I spent a couple of hours there; Lauren's brother Scott, who also works at our place of employment, was there, as was his wife (whom I met on the epic wine tasting adventure that we did in Napa for Jenni's birthday a year and a half ago). I'm glad I went -- it was good to see people who knew him, and I'm so glad I saw Jenni. She said she kept thinking of the dinner the three of us had last week, because he started feeling sick in the middle of the night after that -- which is unbelievable that I hung out with him on basically the last night before everything started to change. But, it wasn't a heart attack -- it was a pulmonary embolism, and would have been difficult to catch, particularly since he also seemed to have entirely unrelated flu symptoms as well.

Anyway, Jenni was doing about as well as one could in this situation. I'll probably go over again on Monday, since I'm guessing she'll have plenty of people around this weekend but may see the visitors trickle off during the weekdays. But I eventually had to leave her house because I was hosting a Blood of Lincoln evening at my house, and I had to be here to let people in. Luckily, we had already decided that I was not cooking, and so John and Jess picked up salads on the way over. John, Jess and Chandlord all stayed for three and a half hours or so, which was totally lovely even though they are all weirdos. To illustrate: we watched YouTube videos of tap dancing, John made me knit a row of stitches on my first and only knitting project, which he for some reason seemed almost angry to see, and we made far too many jokes about Easter. Both Chandlord and Jess expressed interest in chocolate chip chewies (which I had intended to make, but I was out of eggs and time). So, we went to the grocery store, bought eggs (and Chandlord suggested putting noodles in the cookies, which made no sense), came home, and everyone watched me be a domestic goddess while I mixed up the cookies and got batter all over my shirt. Then, we ate a ton of cookie while it was still hot, which was both enjoyable and sad, because the fuller we got, the closer the cookies got to cooling and becoming what we actually wanted them to taste like.

But now, I should go to bed; there's a lot to do this weekend if I'm going to get ready to go to Iowa, since I need to pack, clean out my car, take care of a bunch of writing-related stuff, etc. Goodnight!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

all this waiting is regret

So in some respects today was fun, but in most respects it was completely fucking awful. I woke up after too little sleep and made it into the gym to see Alyssa, who put me into a better mood while torturing me. Then I ran to the locker room to take a shower before my appointment with Art, checked my phone, and got a bit excited to see a missed call/voicemail (since I was hoping to hear from my agent). But it wasn't my agent -- it was Gyre, calling to tell me that my friend James had a heart attack and died last night. Observant readers will note that I just had dinner with James a week ago tonight; I'm good friends with his fiancee, Jenni, since she and I were on the same team multiple times, hung out in India and Dublin, went to South Africa together, etc. Obviously, this is a huge shock; he wasn't even thirty yet. He and Jenni were also getting married this fall, and I can't imagine how hard this will be for her.

So I went to my appointment with Art in a bit of shock, but I figured it was better to spend half an hour lying on a table being kneaded than it was to go home and stare at the wall. Eventually I did go home and stare at the wall, but I didn't stay there for long. I had planned all along to go into the office today for coffee with the big boss, but I went in a couple of hours early in hopes of seeing Gyre. I failed to rendezvous with him, but I did dragoon John into having coffee with me at the cucina-whatever cafe in my old corner of campus. It was good to see him; I didn't particularly feel like talking about James directly, so while I told John what was going on, we spent most of the time talking about linguistics and his birthday. Then, I had coffee with the big boss, but neither of us were really in the mood to discuss anything of note, so I'll have to catch up with her again in a few weeks.

After I left the big boss, I called up Heather (aka dear respected madam) and hung out with her for an hour. We went trolling the halls looking for Alaska Matt, which I promptly regretted when he pointed out that I'm a terrible friend for never telling him when I'm on campus or attempting to make plans with him. Sigh. Despite being castigated, I was glad to see him, and hopefully we'll do an Alaska/Iowa summit sometime soon.

But when I came home, I wasn't in the mood to write, or read, or watch tv, or anything. I talked to my mom for a bit, then finished the blog post I had to write for the group romance blog I'm part of, then went to Palo Alto Sol and ate delicious Mexican food. I had one margarita, and it was so good and I was feeling so numb that I considered getting smashed, abandoning my car, and walking home. That plan would have worked, but I was wearing the wrong shoes and a too-thin sweater, and the thought of walking a mile home tonight and then doing it again in the morning before going to the gym saved me from getting trashed alone. So instead, I came home, continually refreshed the Facebook group someone started for James, and mourned. My mourning was briefly interrupted by Adit, who called from Boston to tell me that Boston sucks and he can't wait to leave that hellhole; lucky for him, he's moving back here this weekend, so hopefully he'll be happy to come back to the land of friends and Amy's enchiladas.

There's not much else to say, really, and so I won't try. Whether I ever try remains to be seen; I don't grieve particularly well, which is probably why I'm a writer. It's a lot easier for me to sublimate my own emotions into my writing than it is to actually express them. If nothing else, though, it made me think about how much I leave unsaid in all of my relationships, and of how devastated I would be to lose those close to me without saying what I feel. I still may not say any of those things; it feels as though there's a wall between my heart and the world, that my heart is a secret garden whose door is locked, whose key is missing, whose flowers run amok and undisturbed. But while I may decide to keep that door locked, today gave me a glimpse of what that choice will cost me. I try so hard to protect it, to keep it from getting trampled on, to keep badly healed wounds from reopening, that I think I lose sight of what I'm missing out on by locking it away. And if I remember nothing else from today, I need to remember that life is too short and death is sometimes too swift to waste time with walls and scars.

I can't write anymore tonight -- there aren't any words left, and the ones I can scrape together don't mean what I want to say. Goodnight!

waiting for a train

Today, productivity came late (say, after eleven p.m.), which is rather unfortunate for what I need to get done tomorrow. I intended to get up early and go to the gym before lunch, but I actually slept well last night, and so when the alarm went off I made the executive decision (although I doubt it was an executive decision -- it was something less conscious than that) to let myself keep sleeping. But, I got up and got ready with plenty of time, and left my house early to avoid the Obama circus -- he was speaking at Facebook this afternoon, which is two blocks from my house, and I figured I should get out of the neighborhood before he arrived and stay gone until after he left to avoid any negative traffic repercussions.

My first destination was my old place of work to have lunch with Dontae. Not only did I go to my old place of work, but I actually went back to the building where I worked when I first got hired full-time oh-so-many years ago; Dontae works in that building now, which has been remodeled several times and is no longer recognizable. We were going to go to the cafe in that building (Crave), but just like the time I tried to go their with John, we took one look at the food and walked across the street to get food at a different cafe. I don't know which one we ended up at, but the food was good and the company was better. After parting ways with Dontae, I did succeed in going to the gym, although I cut my workout short because I was running low on time. Then, I dropped off my dry cleaning, came home, and did some furious cleaning to get my place up to snuff.

The reason for the cleaning was because I hosted my historical fiction writing group tonight. Denise, Jack, Nancy and Chris came -- Chris is a girl, fyi, which explains why Jack rather plaintively asked if we could try to find another guy to join us, since he claimed his book is turning into women's fiction, which couldn't be farther from the truth. The group was good; we spent a couple of hours discussing writing in general and Jack and Nancy's stories in particular. Nancy's story was quite lovely; she's a new addition to the group, but I'm glad to have her, since I really enjoy her writing. Jack isn't really going down the women's fiction road; he's telling the story of his ancestors in South Carolina in the 1700s, and he has a lot of fascinating stuff to work with, but he needs to decide whether he's writing history or fiction (not an easy decision). Anyway, the group left and I was feeling energized to write...

...but I had to draft a blog post for my fellow 2009 Golden Heart finalist blog, which is going live on Friday. So, I did that, with some procrastinating sprinkled in, and just now finished. And now, I really must go to bed; I have to be at the gym at 10am for Alyssa, followed by a stretching session with Art, followed by time to get myself all prettied up to have coffee with the big boss (not that she cares whether I'm pretty, but I feel better in a dress, and I hardly wear them anymore anyway). Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

they justify my claim

Today wasn't quite so bleak, at least when it comes to my writing, even though I did less of it. I never thought that I would ever, in a million years, be the person who said that going to the gym helped them to destress, but it apparently worked. I rendezvoused with Alyssa today for our usual Tuesday torture session, and between a workout with her and some stairmaster afterward, I left around noon feeling somewhat less agonized about my book than I had before I went in.

However, I wasn't tremendously productive this afternoon; I came home from the gym, inadvertently took a nap, woke up starving, and went out to grab lunch. While eating, I tried to write, and came up with about a page -- no proud feat, but better than nothing. Then, I picked up a couple of prescriptions (and mourned the loss of my 'cadillac' insurance plan from my former employer), bought groceries (finally), came home, and stared at the manuscript for awhile. I don't particularly remember how long that lasted; the afternoon is a haze of procrastination that I would prefer not to revisit.

But I eventually pulled myself out of it, made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (so glamorous), and crossed some stuff off my to-do list. I made a reservation for me and my brother at the Grand Canyon in a few weeks, since that's the only night of our journey that is likely to sell out, and exchanged emails with him about our itinerary. I read the stories that my writing group is discussing tomorrow night (and should have cleaned, since I'm hosting them, but I put it off until tomorrow). I wrote a couple of blog posts for zee romance blog, including one on that movie "Limitless" and a Salon review for a book about the psychology of writer's block. I caught up on romance email. In other words, I did a bunch of stuff that needed done, but none of it was writing, and none of it was the more distasteful/time consuming stuff on my list. That, I'm afraid, will consume the rest of my week.

So, I think I'll take my massive headache and go to bed. The rest of the week is looking up -- lunch plans tomorrow, writing group tomorrow night, coffee with the big boss on Thursday, lunch plans on Friday, and Blood of Lincoln Friday night. If nothing else, constant socializing will hopefully take my mind off the silent mockery of my phone. Goodnight!

it is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing

I sincerely hope that I don't go crazy waiting for an answer on whether my book is going to sell or not. Oddly, I feel both more and less confident than I did last time -- more because I genuinely feel that this book is leagues better than my last one, which was not a shabby book, and less because I know how hard it is to sell and lost a bit of my faith over the course of my first book. So needless to say, I'm a bit of a basketcase right now, and will likely remain a bit of a basketcase for as long as it takes to resolve this. It was too early to expect any news today, and yet I still slept poorly and spent the morning lazing about in bed hoping that the phone would ring. If nothing else, I can't sleep poorly all the time, and I know I'll settle into some uneasy equilibrium while I wait. And, the good news is that by about three p.m. every day I know that business has shut down on the east coast, so I can at least spend my evenings not waiting for a call that may not come.

So, I laid around in bed until almost noon, finally pulled myself out of it, ate some cheerios, showered, etc., and decided that I should get out of my house. I had a late lunch at Sprout Cafe, which I had turned my nose up to when Tammy's boyfriend suggested it for dinner a couple of months ago -- but for lunch, it was a v. welcome change from the salads that I get at the gym. The salad was absolutely huge, and the ingredients were way better than any other salad place I've been; if parking in that particular stretch of University weren't such a bitch, I would go there more often. I stared at zee romance novel for awhile, came home, made some tea, and took myself over to Stanford library, where I spent a couple of hours and managed to write approximately six pages. Yay -- and yet it's a bit concerning that before I've even gotten into the story, just thinking of Nick and Ellie brings tears to my eyes. Between the stress of the submission process and the deep well of emotion I feel for these characters, I may go completely insane within the month. Lovely, right?

After I got home, I decided to give my emotions a break. I engaged in a bit of schadenfreude and watched the "60 Minutes" episode that I taped last night about the writer of "Three Cups of Tea" who has been exposed (by Jon Krakauer, of all people) for faking key episodes in his memoirs and (worse) potentially misusing funds given to his charity that were supposed to go to building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I just checked some stuff online about it, and one of the excuses that Mortenson floated about why he didn't speak to Steve Kroft when Kroft ambushed him at a booksigning was that he mistook Steve Kroft for a suicide bomber. Ha! Granted, Kroft was wearing a trenchcoat and looking like he wanted to dress up as an investigatory journalist, but how many suicide bombers show up, introduce themselves as Steve Kroft, and bring cameramen and microphone carriers and all sorts of other people with them? Wouldn't it just be easier to show up alone and hit the detonator without pretending to be Steve Kroft?

While watching tv, I painted my nails, and since I wanted to continue watching television rather than messing them up by typing, I watched the second half of "Fellowship of the Ring". Yes, I am a dork. I know I'm a dork because I still get a visceral, breath-stealing reaction to key scenes, like the Bridge of Khazad-Dum sequence or Boromir's death. Sigh. I wanted to put in "The Two Towers" and keep going, but I think I shall go to bed instead. Maybe I'll watch it in the morning while waiting for the phone to ring -- although at least tomorrow I need to go to the gym and see Alyssa, so I'll get a bit of the break from the tyranny of waiting. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

hand covers bruise

I went to the evil city today, but unfortunately they don't give out medals for that kind of sacrifice. I intended to get up there slightly earlier than I did, but I turned off my alarm and promptly went back to sleep, so I didn't reach Chandlord's apartment until 11:30am. Once there, she and I walked down to Hayes Valley and had brunch at the Grove that recently opened up in that neighborhood. Verdict: the space is really nice, with lots of natural lighting and enough space for plenty of tables, but the food was hit or miss. The hits were my applewood smoked bacon (awesomely delicious and hard to fuck up) and the hash browns with just the right amount of rosemary to make them interesting. The misses were the toast, which was about an inch thick and therefore not particularly toasty (and they put the buttered side down on the plate, which I found odd), and the poached eggs, which were cooked until the yolks were nearly solid. The whole point of a poached egg, and the entire reason why I enjoy it, is because the yolk is soft and explodes onto the plate, to be sopped up by a slice of toast -- and with a hard yolk and an inferior piece of toast, that part of my breakfast was a disappointment. But, they served Diet Coke, so I suppose overall I would give it a B-.

The company would get a B- too, but as Chandlord is my only friend, I'll have to engage in some grade inflation and give her an A. After we ate, we strolled back up the hill to her apartment, where we laid around talking of nothing for a couple of hours and fighting the urge to nap. Finally, I abandoned her to drive back to the glorious south bay, reaching it just in time to talk to my parents. We were on the phone for quite some time, since they had much to catch me up on; while I like my California life, being here means I miss out on the everyday occurrences of small town life, including the digging of graves, the installation of drainage tile in fields, and talk of the fluctuating price of gold and silver. But, since I don't pay attention to gold prices, know about drainage tile only because I've heard it discussed before, and wouldn't want to dig a grave, I suppose I'm in the right place. Still, I'm glad that I'm going home in a couple of weeks, even if it's only for a few days, and I'll have to make plans to spend a couple of weeks at home sometime later this summer, when everything is green and lovely and I can try to explain to Alyssa why eating two ears of sweet corn at every meal is a necessary part of my diet.

After I talked to my parents, I messed around on the computer for a bit, then went to Stanford campus, grabbed something to eat at a cafe there, and went to the library, where I wrote six pages of zee romance novel. It's not a lot, but it effectively doubled my previous total word count for the project, so I suppose that's something. It's hard to write the intro because I'm straddling a fine line between how much Ellie and Nick should want each other vs. how much they should hate each other for the betrayals of the past decade, and I'm just continually reminding myself that I'll end up rewriting the first chapter anyway and so I just need to get on with it. So far, so good; hopefully tomorrow I can keep up the pace.

And now, I shall go to bed -- for real, this time, since I'm too tired to stay up until two a.m. like I usually do. Goodnight!

doubt thou the stars are fire; doubt that the sun doth move; doubt truth to be a liar; but never doubt i love

I've nothing of any importance to say tonight, which isn't particularly unusual. I stayed in bed until sometime after eleven (and much closer to noon), but I finally pulled myself up and into clothes when I realized that I was about to be ravenously hungry. I haven't bought groceries in almost two weeks, so I went to Joanie's and had eggs (which were slightly disappointing, as they were almost cold - they must have sat too long waiting for the server). Then, I came home and crossed stuff off my to-do list all afternoon - nothing related to getting words of my rough draft onto the page, but lots of other stuff that needed done.

So I thought I would write tonight, but I didn't. Instead, I read the third book of that Victorian mystery/romance series that I started a week or two ago. This one was called SILENT ON THE MOOR, and while I thought it was just a bit inferior to the other two books (I suspect she was rushing to finish for her contract), I still enjoyed it tremendously. I thought the mystery was slightly less satisfying, if only because I figured it all out rather early on - but if I had been less aware of the lifestyles of the Egyptian pharaohs, perhaps the twists at the end would have been more delightful. But, I was more satisfied with the romance, so on the whole, I was pretty happy. There's only one book left (the one set in India, which is the whole reason I started the series), and I don't know whether to save it in gleeful anticipation or devour tomorrow night in one sitting. Luckily, another book comes out in June, but I'm guessing it will be another year after that before she releases another one. It's really too bad that books take so long to write...

But speaking of books, I suppose I should start writing my own again. I got conned into going to the evil city for brunch tomorrow, and then I will have my usual conversation with my parents in the afternoon - but perhaps I will write after that, if only so that I can refrain from reading the last book for another night. I suppose that if I am going to get up in time for brunch tomorrow, I should go to bed immediately. Goodnight!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

back on the chain gang

Really, I was quite productive today - but if you placed your money on me failing to get up early this morning, you won. I didn't actually go to bed as I intended, and so I didn't get up until nine, which meant I had to scramble to make it into the gym in time to see Alyssa. We did a variety of exercises interspersed with cardio, which made us both happy since it meant that we got to see enough pieces of a "House" episode to know what was going on while I did cardio and Alyssa watched (and continually increased the incline, resistance, speed, whatever). Then, I showered and drove up to the evil city -- unusual, I know. But I needed a haircut, and I took the opportunity to go to Samovar first.

Samovar was just the same as always, and I hung out there for a couple of hours, getting way too caffeinated while doing some work. I was trying to wrap up the proofreading project that I took on this week, and while my time at Samovar wasn't quite enough, I got pretty close. Then, I went to the salon, where I caught up with Susie (my fellow midwesterner who is an awesome stylist) for the first time since January or so. I've been trimming my own bangs since then because it's just too annoying to drive all the way up to the city to get it done, but it was time to get the bangs cleaned up and some fresh layers in my hair before and potential pictures are taken at my brother's graduation in a couple of weeks. The bangs will probably be just slightly too long then, and I perhaps should have waited another week, but next week looks too busy for a desultory trip to the city. My life is hard.

After my haircut, I promptly left the city, avoiding both the tempting lure of the mall and the increasing close-to-rush-hour traffic. When I got back down here, I was hungry again, so I went to Cafe Borrone and finished proofreading while eating a sandwich. Then I came home, typed up my notes, sent the project off, spent an hour catching up on romance email, and started researching what other copyeditors/proofreaders are charging.

Bottom line, I need to build out more of a business plan and figure out what the market can bear, but I think I could make some reasonable money from editing -- not enough to keep me in Stuart Weitzmans, but enough to pay the rent. It would at least slow the bleed on my bank account, which would be nice. And, I actually enjoyed the proofreading that I did, so it wouldn't be a bad thing to do it more often. But, I volunteered to read another full manuscript for someone else and do the same proofreading pass, so I'll have another set of data to look at; based on the first manuscript, I can proofread quite fast, but I don't know if this would be the norm or the exception.

However, I can't get so distracted by this that I neglect Ellie and Nick, who are currently awaiting their long-anticipated/dreaded reunion. So, I'm going to hole up and write tomorrow and try to make a dent in the mess that is the rough draft. Goodnight!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

i was waiting on a different story

It's only 11:25, but I think I shall actually go to bed -- crazy, I know. I had a long, productive day, culminating in a lovely dinner with friends, and I would rather sleep it all off and get up early to do some work tomorrow. I can hear all of you snorting at that, since you know me too well to believe that I'll actually get out of bed a moment earlier than usual, but I'm going to try my damnedest.

As for today, it all started off with a training session with Alyssa. She made me do one of my least favorite exercises -- she calls it wall-ball, which involves squatting, and then as you're standing up, throwing a heavy ball (more like a large, dense bean bag) as high as you can against a fifteen-foot-tall wall. This isn't the hardest exercise by any means, but given my lack of coordination and my small, raccoon-like hands, I have a tendency to miss the ball on the way down and let it hit me in the face. And for some reason, that just spurred a bizarre memory from what seems like a lifetime ago, when John and I were sitting in his room and he was throwing a basketball at the wall over my head in what was essentially a trust game, and then Zach (I think it was Zach, although perhaps I should give the credit to Adit as usual) came in, took the basketball from John, but thought we were playing catch -- and so I took the basketball in the face. Ah, memories.

Anyway, other than wall-ball, everything else was good, and I did some stairmaster afterwards like a good gym drone. I came home for a bit and caught up on the internet world while eating lunch, and then I went to downtown Mountain View to have a latte at Red Rock Cafe and start proofreading a book for someone. This is part of my investigation into whether freelance editing for fun and profit is something that I want to take on -- based on the work I did this afternoon, the jury is out on whether I can charge enough to make it worth my while, but it's something I could enjoy if I could make enough money on it. I need to finish the project tomorrow, though, which is why I should get up early to work on it.

I came home at some point, worked some more, and finally threw in the towel to meet up with Jenni and James for pizza in downtown Palo Alto. It was wonderful to see them; I realized we hadn't gotten together since Christmas, which is rather unfortunate. We ended up sitting at Patxi's for three hours, then grabbing gelato just before the gelato place closed, so I didn't get home until almost 10:30. They seemed to be in good form, and they caught me up on all the gossip at work -- it really would be easy to walk into the office tomorrow and pretend like I never left.

But enough blogging; I should really sleep. My agent told me today that she's pitched the book to all but a couple of people, and so the waiting game begins. Sleep now holds the additional benefit of being the eight or nine hours a day when I am not checking my email and daydreaming/agonizing about my publication chances. I'm going to try to keep myself from going crazy while I wait, which would be an additional benefit of doing some editing on top of writing Ellie's book. But I'm getting ahead of myself -- sleep comes first, and business plans can come later. Goodnight!

tossed into the wind complete freedom

I really hate writing rough drafts. I know what I want the characters to do, I can see the story stretch before me, I get fascinating, maddening little flashes of action and dialogue and motivation while I'm doing other things (like the dishes, or laundry, or any of the myriad of tasks I took care of today), and yet putting the words on the page is agony. The first draft doesn't live up to the vision, and so it's hard to force myself to sit there and do it when I just want to weep and gnash my teeth, etc.

So needless to say, I stayed in bed longer than I should have, and I didn't make it into the gym until after 12:30pm. But, I did my workout, and I happened to talk to Alyssa for a bit since she was stretching at the same time I was. Then, I came home, did the dishes, took out the trash, and did two loads of laundry + a load of wash-only (my placemats, which are awesome to look at but a bitch to clean, since they have to be air-dried and then desperately need to be ironed). In between those errands, I kept staring at the manuscript, but I made no progress. Tomorrow's another day, etc.

I finally tossed in the towel and met up for a late dinner with Heather (aka dear respected madam) at Left Bank on Santana Row. I actually tossed in the towel sometime before that, since I decided to take some time with my makeup, figure out an outfit that wasn't jeans and a hoodie, pluck my eyebrows, etc. (all of which is a clear form of procrastination). But, it was great to see Heather, and we spent a couple of hours catching up over wine and steak (yum). I got home around 10:30, caught up on Twitter, etc., did some online browsing (including looking again at that dress I love from Betsey Johnson that I blogged about on zee romance blog...sigh), and successfully closed all online stores without buying anything. If I do sell a bunch of books and become rich and wildly successful someday, I will probably singlehandedly revive the retail economy, which is ridiculous considering how much I like to wear my pajamas instead of heels and dresses.

But now, I'm going to go to bed; I have to train tomorrow morning, and I'm editing someone's book as a freebie to figure out whether I want to start a freelance editing consultancy, so I need to take care of that tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

everything that keeps me together is falling apart

The title is not a particularly accurate description of my day, but I was listening to the song it comes from ("Third Planet" by Modest Mouse) and couldn't think of anything better to say. I alternated between productivity and sloth today; getting started with the book is tres difficile, and I'm struggling to get into it. I did manage to write five pages today, which means the book is now five pages long -- hurrah.

First, though, I went to the gym, where Alyssa devised new and ingenious methods to torture me. I then grabbed lunch at Joanie's Cafe, where I learned (after asking, since I've always been curious) that Joanie's Cafe was started 25 years ago by a woman named Joanie and her husband Bernard. They later started Cafe Brioche next door, and apparently some of the wait staff works at both restaurants. But, about ten years ago, they got divorced; Joanie kept Cafe Brioche, and Bernard kept Joanie's. Apparently they're on good terms and Joanie often comes in for coffee, but I found that all quite a fascinating little bit of history.

After lunch, I came home and took a nap, then went back to the gym and got a massage; my shoulders have been bothering me since I hunch over a laptop or book for approximately 14 hours a day, and Alyssa recommends one of the masseuses there (who was quite wonderful). Then I went to Starbucks and wrote for a bit before bringing my iced tea home and continuing to struggle with the written word. Over many fits and starts I accumulated my five pages; it should have been ten, and I'm going to have to make it up tomorrow, but I ended up abandoning it to write a couple of posts for zee romance blog (including a post about a wonderful dress that I found and sadly will not be buying for the awards ceremony in NYC). And now, I think I shall go to bed; I need to write fifteen pages tomorrow to get back on track, so I think I'll go over to Stanford library and be a good girl. Goodnight!

Monday, April 11, 2011

swallowed, hollowed, sharp about everyone but yourself

I'm strangely loath to blog tonight -- not because nothing happened (things did happen, for once), but because I occasionally recognize the weirdly narcissistic action that I take by writing about my mundane daily events and eating habits every night. Then I decide to screw the introspection and just write my usual drivel, but it takes a moment to get over that thought process and start typing.

But now that I have started typing, I might as well finish the post. I will start by wishing Aunt Becky a happy birthday -- I called her this evening, thus fulfilling my niecely duty. But back to the beginning of the day -- I intended to get up in time to go to the gym, but I overslept by an hour, so I took a shower, ate some cereal, got ready, and then went back to my old place of work to have lunch with John, Jess and Katrina. John and Katrina both work there, and they suggested having lunch at the new cafe in the complex where I used to work; I usually avoid that area of campus when I go back for lunch so that I don't awkwardly run into a ton of people, but a) the food was worth it and b) I didn't run into anyone anyway (although I only succeeded by showing up early and doing some strategic turning at the right times to avoid being seen by people). The new cafe is perhaps the nicest of all the cafes there, which is saying something since there are like twenty. And the food was superb (although the fish in the ceviche, while delicious, turns out to be an occasional carrier of some weird tropical-water poison which is often misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis -- so despite my family history of MS, if I come down with acute symptoms of MS and end up in the hospital, ask them to run tests for ciguatera poisoning from eating yellow jack!).

So it was lovely to see 2/3s of the Blood of Lincoln group + Katrina, although I had to dash off earlier than I would have liked. Then, I went to the gym, where I did my prescribed workout + a ton of foam rolling, then took a long shower to try to revive myself. After the gym, I went to Starbucks and worked for a couple of hours. I didn't write-write, but I did figure out some of the intro and decided to move the opening sequences from London to a grand country estate party, which I think will be fun. After Starbucks, I came home, freshened up, then drove up to Belmont to have dinner with Shedletsky and his girlfriend. I hadn't seen their new place, but it's v. lovely, and Shedletsky made minestrone, as well as some delicious ravioli with and even more delicious sauce. I stayed there for almost four hours catching up, since I hadn't seen him since my freedom party six months ago, and it was great to see them.

But now, I should go to bed and dream of ciguatera poisoning; I have to be at the gym tomorrow at ten a.m., and then I have grand writing plans that I will attempt to turn into reality. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

you have chosen...death

I'm back into the pit of nonwriting despair, which I shall have to force myself out of this week. I almost wrote today -- after sleeping until eleven, putting on workout clothes and then failing to go to the gym, I finally changed into real clothes at 1:30 and went to a cafe, where I intended to write over a late lunch. However, the cafe closed at two, not at three as I thought it did, and so I didn't linger (or write anything other than the title of the scene at the top of a blank sheet of paper). Then I came home, talked to my parents for quite some time, played on the internet to keep myself awake, and reread some bits and pieces of "The Odyssey". I read it all a decade ago for SLE, and it may have been my favorite book -- this particular translation is wonderfully poetic, and I felt myself being sucked into it tonight even though I only intended to read a few pages. The basic premise of my next book is that it's a Regency twist on Penelope and Odysseus, as I've mentioned before, and so I intend to refamiliarize myself with the story over the next few weeks.

After eating some leftover chili, I sat down with the intention of writing a bunch of blog posts for zee romance blog. I turned on the television, thinking to have some background noise, and got distracted because "The Amazing Race" was in Varanasi, India, which I found v. entertaining. Then, I put in "The Fellowship of the Ring", thinking that I've seen it so many times that I could write with it in the background -- but that was stupid, since I've been meaning to rewatch them all for awhile, and within twenty minutes I just put my computer away and gave up the blog as a lost cause. My brother called at some point and distracted me for a bit, but it's still funny that I watched for almost two hours and only got through the first half of the first movie -- they haven't even started off to Mordor yet.

My fascination with these movies, though, is that the worldbuilding is excellent -- Tolkien put so much thought into the thousands of years of history that came before this particular story, and as a linguist he invented entire languages for the various peoples to speak. Perhaps some of his characters are two-dimensional, and he certainly didn't seem to think that women should be included in epic quests, but the story arc, structure, and narrative is fascinating. And, in the movies, the actors bring it all to life so well that it's interesting to watch how a single glance or sigh can change the viewer's perception of everything. So, I predict I have a Lord of the Rings marathon coming up this week...bear with me.

And now, I'm going to go to bed; I have lunch plans tomorrow, and I must go to the gym beforehand since I didn't make it in today. Goodnight!

this is happiness, dig yourself right back out

I'm almost too tired to blog, which is a shame; for the first time in days, something has happened beyond going to the gym, reading, and thinking about zee romance novel, and you should benefit from my temporarily expanded horizons. However, in deference to the fact that my twelve-hour absence from my house made me incredibly tired, I'm going to try to keep this brief...

I managed to get out of bed by 7:30 -- too late to allow for hair washing and drying, but early enough to get to the monthly meeting of the San Francisco area romance writers in Berkeley without missing the beginning (or, more importantly, the breakfast waiting in the back). They were v. kind about acknowledging my recent award finaling, which was nice, and the discussion today was quite lively. The guest speaker hailed from Ottumwa; no one from outside of Iowa would know where that is, but since half my readership is from Iowa, it's perhaps worth mentioning. She talked about the differences between men and women when it comes to communication and body language so that writers can try to write believable characters of both genders. It was quite informative, although a lot of it was stuff I already realized for myself (particularly in the context of realizing that I have some "masculine" traits, like not wanting to talk about my feelings until I have them mostly sorted out; thinking that someone venting to me wants solutions, not just a shoulder to cry on; and avoiding eye contact when in the throes of some deep emotion or difficult conversation). But, it's all handy as I'm thinking about character development for my next book, so it was worth it.

After leaving Berkeley, I took the bridge (which was annoyingly crowded) to the city of sin, where I went out for lunch with the gracious and lovely Chandlord. We walked down to Arlequin in Hayes Valley, which is a wine bar with some passable foodstuffs; Chandlord only had a glass of wine, while I had a grilled ham and cheese (or a 'croque monsieur', since Arlequin tries to be all fancy) and a glass of Chardonnay (uncharacteristically, since I prefer reds, but it was quite nice). We sat on the back patio, which felt more like a lovely garden, and it was awesome despite the chilly San Francisco weather. Then, we walked up to Nob Hill -- and the walk, while not totally ridiculous, reinforced the fact that Hayes Valley and Nob Hill are named rather appropriately, since the walk was steep (and made worse by a wind rushing down the traffic corridors that made walking difficult). We met up with Tom (aka Tom Foolery) at a cafe called Contraband, which served a delicious latte that I enjoyed while catching up with him about writing and life. He self-published a memoir a few months ago and is working on something new, but he's basically about three years behind me in terms of general life path (he's interested in writing full time, but he's doing really well in a sales job that pays him plenty of money, so he's not ready to leave). It was great to see him, and we have high hopes of getting together to do some writing soon.

After parting ways with Tom and Chandlord, I rushed over to Beretta -- or rather, virtually crawled over, since traffic was terrible. I was twenty minutes late by the time I got there, but luckily I arrived before the guest of honor -- my friend Natasha's birthday is tomorrow, and her husband Chris planned a surprise birthday party for her. It was great to see her and Chris, particularly since I hadn't seen them in awhile; it was also great to eat some of Beretta's totally delicious flatbread pizza with burrata mozzarella. After an hour, I debated heading back down to the south bay, but then Kevin and Ashley showed up; they're getting married in July, and they both worked at my former place of employment for ages. Kevin actually trained me on how to do email support way back in the day, and we also overlapped for some amount of time in India, which shows how long he's been there. Anyway, I ended up staying until 7:45 catching up with them, and with Natasha when she escaped from her other guests.

All in all, it was a lovely party, and a great end to a lovely day. I felt vague, fleeting regret about moving out of the city and into the suburbs, but by the time I came back to my log cabin, changed into my pajamas, and curled up with a book, the regret flared out. And now that I'm done with my book, I have turned my ringer off and am going to go to bed sans alarm, hoping to get a decent sleep for the first time in days. Goodnight!

Friday, April 08, 2011

on the corner of first and amistad

I was v. lazy today; for some of it, I blame Alyssa, and for the rest of it, I blame my fear of starting the next book. I made it into the gym by ten a.m., but I swear Alyssa was trying to kill me; after a v. intense workout, she ordered me to do another twenty minutes of stairmaster (although I rebelled and only did ten; I'll add the other ten to my Sunday routine). So, after I showered, I came home, checked my email, and then slept for an hour, which made the rest of my day perfect for being a sloth.

And that's basically what I did. It wasn't all sloth-filled -- I finished the edits for my agent and sent her the final copy of everything, and I created the new Scrivener document for my next book and created placeholders for all the scenes that I brainstormed (about forty-five in total). So at least in that respect, my conscience is clear. And I finally broke away from my online procrastination to write in my journal, where I reminded myself that the first draft of the last book sucked, but even though it sucked, once I finally had a full first draft, it only took me three weeks to fix it. That means that the key is to just force myself to write the first draft, no matter how much I hate it and no matter how much its suckage makes me want to wail and gnash my teeth and rend my garments. And then, I can fix it, and lo, the sun will come out again and all will be well in the land.

Anyway, that's a bit melodramatic, even for me. Now that I have the melodrama out of my system (as if), I should go to bed; I have to get up around seven tomorrow so that I can make it up to Berkeley for the monthly romance writer meeting, and then I have a series of plans in the city of sin that will keep me busy all day. Goodnight!

days of sloth and roses

Or rather, just days of sloth. After staying up until almost three a.m. and then sleeping poorly, I did not enjoy rolling myself out of bed and into my sneakers, but I still made it to the gym in time to train with Alyssa. Our training session was not perfectly smooth, mostly because my muscles were still rebelling from whatever had caused them to rebel on Tuesday -- and I suspect that the rebellion is fed by my curled-up, deathlike fetal pose on the couch when I lie motionless for hours and read books. It can't be good for my neck, or my back, or my legs, or my eyesight...and yet there is something so appealing about losing myself in a book, diving headlong into it and getting so swept away that I fail to notice the painful contortions of my body, or my thirst, or my contacts adhering to my dry, unblinking eyes.

Needless to say, I did it again tonight, but I'll get to that in a moment. After I worked out with Alyssa, I had a stretching session with Art, which helped -- he's a giant of a man, though, and I have a feeling that the backs of my calves are bruised from his exertions. Then, I showered, ate lunch, got gas, went to Whole Foods, came home, and took a nap. After I woke up, I made a snack, and decided to allow myself to read three chapters of the next book in the series I started last night (called SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY, which I already had on my shelves because I'd gotten it for free at a romance conference a couple of years ago)...

...and of course I read the whole book in one fell swoop. Or rather, two fell swoops, with a break for supper; I actually made white chili, which shows that I'm being particularly disciplined this week, since I'm following Alyssa's instructions rather than making myself frozen enchiladas as a time-saver. The book was awesome, but now I'm on an enforced hiatus; there are two more in the series, but I don't have them, and I would rather get them in paperback than download the ebook. That means either ordering them now from Amazon and not getting them until Monday, or swinging by the Barnes and Noble in Emeryville on Saturday (since they're both in stock there). It's probably a good thing I don't have them, though, since I have stuff that needs to get done tomorrow, and my will is apparently too weak to resist these books.

So tomorrow, I'm training with Alyssa again, and then I'm finishing my submission materials for my agent and working on some stuff for the romance conference awards ceremony. And then, perhaps, I shall write -- but we shall see what we shall see. Goodnight!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

and let them be silent in the grave

I had an utterly productive day, and while I shall regret going to bed at 2:30am when I have to drag myself out of it for my training session with Alyssa, I don't particularly regret it now. I woke up around nine this morning, intending to put on gym clothes and talk to my agent, but I rather impulsively showered and put on a dress and three-inch heels instead. This was a good move on my part, since I felt oddly professional and so got a ton done today, but the consequence was that I didn't make it to the gym. I did, however, spend half an hour on the phone with my agents -- the good news is that she loved my book and the synopses that I wrote, and while I need to send her a few slight tweaks tomorrow, it looks like we're ready to go out on submission. She won't send it until next week, since a lot of publishing professionals are at a conference in LA this week. But then the waiting game shall begin, and as I will be biting my nails down to the quick in anticipation of an answer that may take months to come, you will forgive me if I don't update you regularly about our progress.

After our call, I talked to my mother, then went to Joanie's Cafe and treated myself to breakfast/lunch out of the house since I was already dolled up. I started brainstorming ideas for other books while I was there -- I intend to write Ellie's story next, but I'm also thinking about other options in case these books fail to sell. Then, I came home, did two loads of laundry, got some of my summer clothes out of the garage and put some of my winter clothes away, and spent a couple of hours catching up on email (both my real-life email and all the plans I've failed to make/keep in my hermitage, and the hundreds of emails my alter ego has gotten in the last couple of weeks). I also talked to my parents in more depth than I was able to this morning, did the dishes, ate some dinner (leftover greek salad and some precooked chicken from Trader Joe's, which paled in comparison to my diet of chocolate chip chewies earlier in the week), then watched some "Top Chef" while painting my nails a glorious shade of dark blue.

I knew better than to pick up a new book at 9:30pm, but I didn't want to watch any more tv and couldn't stand the thought of looking at my computer. So I picked up SILENT IN THE GRAVE, which can only be described as Victorian mystery/suspense with strong romantic elements and a slight (v. slight) touch of the paranormal. The first person narrator (Lady Julia Grey) had a voice so vivid, and the descriptions were so lush, that I was completely swept up in the story. I enjoyed it thoroughly; the part of me that can remove myself from the equation thought that it was lovely, and the part of me that is driven by ego and competitiveness despaired of ever writing anything so beautiful. So, if you're into Victorian mystery/suspense with strong romantic elements and a slight (v. slight) touch of the paranormal, I recommend it. The whole reason I got around to picking it up, after so many years of hearing good things and never buying it, was because the fourth book was just released. As it's called DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING and involves a trip to India, I decided it was finally time to start the series and see where it goes.

And now, I'm off to bed; I have to train with Alyssa tomorrow, then get my strained calf worked on by Art (he who examined me like a poorly-tuned used car), then finish the edits I promised my agent. Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

remains a sordid twist of fate

My sleep schedule is totally messed up; I'm staying up too late, compensating by taking afternoon naps, and then repeating the cycle. Luckily, there aren't really any consequences for this, and I still got done everything that I intended to do today. I made it into the gym for my session with Alyssa, and the workout was good even though I had some sort of weird strain in my left calf that has made walking painful for the past couple of days. After I finished up at the gym, I came home, took care of some stuff online, ate lunch (eggs over easy and toast, mmm), contemplated working, and instead took a nap. But, I did rouse myself and start working on my project for the day, which was to take a final pass of Madeleine and Ferguson's story looking for typos. I didn't get very far in the late afternoon, though, since Chandlord came over to spend some quality time in my log cabin of food and merriment.

She was lucky she came over; I foisted half of a pizza and half of a tray of chocolate chip chewies on her, mostly since I needed to get the stuff out of my house before I ate any more of it. I also made her a latte while we discussed life, travel, etc., and so our visit was quite lowely. After she left, I had a salad (mourning the loss of the pizza, but it had to be done), then packed up a bunch of books that were due today and went to Stanford library to drop them off. I stayed there for a couple of hours proofreading, then came home and finished proofreading sometime after midnight. It took some time to enter the edits (I was proofreading on the Kindle, since I thought I would catch more mistakes by switching formats, which seemed to work -- I had 30 or so things that I caught, which stunned me since I thought the manuscript was clean before), and then I read some blogs and procrastinated for a bit.

Now, however, I really must go to bed; I have a call with my agent tomorrow, and then I need to either start writing Ellie's story or plot something else (gargoyles, anyone?). Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

you were standing on another track like a real aristocrat

I really should go to bed, since I have to meet up with Alyssa in eight and a half hours. But, it's probably unsurprising that I'm not particularly tired yet; I lolled about in bed until eleven this morning, and also took an unexpected nap around five p.m., so I'm not exactly sleep deprived.

I tried to get my work done during the day like a normal person, but I failed. I procrastinated for awhile, and eventually dragged myself to the gym, where I did my Alyssa-prescribed workout even though I wanted to die. After I showered, I went to the grocery store and got food to carry me through the week, and I was quite good this evening until I cut into the chocolate chip chewies -- and then couldn't quit, continuing to hit them like a junkie in search of an increasingly-unattainable high. Luckily I invited Chandlord to come over and take them off my hands tomorrow, so I can return to salad dinners instead of chewie dinners.

After a nap, a salad and more chewies than I care to admit, I watched the basketball final and was generally depressed that Butler didn't win. During the second half, since there wasn't much scoring going on, I started transcribing notes from a book on Regency England that I need to return to the library tomorrow. And after the game, I continued to procrastinate on the stuff I really needed to do (for my agent) by crossing off a whole bunch of other stuff on my to-do list. It was all good stuff to get done, including taking care of some financial stuff, sorting my mail, buying tickets to NYC for the romance conference in June, etc., etc.

Finally, around 11:30, I started working on what I was really supposed to be working on -- and it went faster than I expected, so I got it all sent off to my agent tonight. I had to write a synopsis of my current book (which I was able to rework quickly from an earlier version, although I had to change the ending) and a blurb for book #3, which is actually going to be the first book that I wrote (is that confusing?). Basically, we're pitching the original book as book #3, but I'm going to rewrite it completely. The same characters will be in it, and they'll fall in love, but they'll fall in love about 150 pages earlier than they originally did, and the plot will be more interesting. Luckily, I was able to take my old query letter for that book and tweak it to make it an effective blurb. So, it's all in the hands of my agent now, and I'm talking to her on Wednesday; if she thinks we're in good shape, it will all go out and I can start having a quiet nervous breakdown while waiting to hear back.

And now, I really should go to bed; morning is going to come all too soon. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

i wish that i could have this moment for life

I was incredibly lazy this morning, mostly because I didn't want to go to the gym and so sat around doing nothing instead. I didn't drag myself out of bed until almost noon, which threw off my whole schedule (breakfast at noon, lunch at three, meaning that dinner at seven made me v. full). Then, I sat around and procrastinated before forcing myself to go to the gym around two; I promised Alyssa that I wouldn't skip any workouts this week, even though she changed my cardio programs to something sadistic (involving elliptical sprints, that bitch). I never skip her sessions, but I haven't been particularly diligent about my non-Alyssa sessions for the past six weeks or so, so I'm trying to be strict again. But, part of my procrastination was customizing a couple of playlists on my ipod to play appropriately paced music for the different segments of my cardio workout, which felt like utter uselessness while I was doing it but ended up really helping at the gym. Who knew?

Anyway, after I worked out and showered, I had a salad at the cafe (I'm down to the end of my groceries again), came home, and talked to my parents while tidying my house. Luckily, the house didn't need much, just some general straightening and swiffering. After I talked to them, I ran to the grocery store and picked up some salad ingredients, then came home and made chocolate chip chewies and a greek salad for my dinner guests. Adit (some people call him the cat) is in town, and so John, Jess, Chris, Connie and Javier came over for a pizza party. I declared pizza party because it's easy to get delivery pizza (and we got it from Patxi's, which is infinitely better than Dominos), but as usual I went overboard and made salad and cookies (although they were well-received and not exactly as far overboard as I usually go). Chris brought beer, and we all sat cozily around my kitchen table as much general merriment ensued.

It was lovely to see everyone, and even lovelier that Jessica and Connie prodded John and Chris to take the items down from my beams -- my pleas are typically met with fond amusement, but theirs generate results, which means that I can eat my oatmeal tomorrow rather than staring forlornly at its perch far above my head. Everyone left around ten, and then it took me around ten minutes to fully clean up -- the chief advantage of the pizza party is not just the lack of cooking, but the lack of pots and pans to clean up. I spent the last hour taking care of stuff and procrastinating online, and now I should probably sleep. I have grand plans to finish the last of the stuff that my agent needs before she starts shopping my book, and I want to start working on Ellie's story tomorrow (or, at the latest, Tuesday). Goodnight!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

savor the moment

My little sloth-filled minibreak continues -- I might not have even left the house today had I not gotten a call from Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Salim, who were outside my house and insisted on dragging me to the Olive Garden. I perhaps should have been embarrassed that they showed up at 1:15pm and I was still in my pajamas (and even more embarrassed that I was rocking a floral nightgown over plaid pajama bottoms with a cashmere hoodie on top), but they were gracious enough to let me get dressed before forcing me out of my house. While I was in my bedroom trying to make myself presentable, Salim independently came to the same conclusion that John has about my ceiling beams -- that the best use for them is to stash my stuff up there where I can't reach it. Sigh. If I don't want to get the stepstool out to retrieve the items, John's coming over tomorrow night, so I could hope that he rescues those items rather than adding to the mess.

Anyway, the reason I was still in my pajamas was that I woke up around ten, made some oatmeal and some tea, sat down with the book I started last night (book three, if you'll recall), and didn't move a muscle until they called. I gave the first two books to Heather, since they were good enough to recommend, and then went to the Olive Garden with them. We had a perfectly wonderful time; for some reason, Olive Garden brings out the best/worst in my friends, and we were laughing hysterically (at the exact same table that Blood of Lincoln had on our last outing there) over the most mundane of topics (what Italians ate before the New World was discovered and provided them with tomatoes and potatoes). Then, they brought my back home, and I immediately finished book three, made some more tea, took a bubble bath while starting book four, and then finished the book over the course of the rest of the afternoon. After emerging from the books, I made supper (eggs over easy and toast, mmm), wrote down all the stuff I need to get done this week, contemplated doing something productive, and instead updated my Goodreads account.

I can feel the happy thrill of an addict in my blood -- mainlining four books in two days only kickstarted my old addiction, rather than sating me. I've read some books recently, either because titles were released that I've waited ages for or because I was so loathing my own book that I desperately needed a break. But, it's been years, decades, since my youth, when I used to read a new book almost every single day. Not that I intend to get back to that point -- for one thing, reading fast doesn't exactly equal reading critically, and while I love the feel of just diving headfirst into a new world and not coming out until it's over, I've learned that the mainlining strategy doesn't lead to great recollection of the book a few weeks or months later.

So, I'm going to write in my new book/movie journal about what I just read before I go to bed -- reading is as much of an education as it is a pleasure for me, since I want to be the best writer in the history of the world but will settle for just improving however and whatever I can. But I'm going to try to incorporate more reading into my life than I have recently -- and the by product of that is that I need to start writing the next book this week, so that I can work on it steadily and read on the side, rather than procrastinating and then forcing it all out in some terrible repeat of the last cycle. Tomorrow, though, is not for writing -- it's for doing the things I should have done today, and cleaning so that I can host some supper thing that I maybe shouldn't have volunteered for, given the guest of honor's inability to reply to emails with anything more than 'heheheheheheheheheehehehe.' Goodnight!

read 'em and weep

I dragged myself out of bed sometime around eight-thirty, after six hours of sleep (which has never been enough, and now feels like torture when most nights give me eight or nine), and promptly flung myself back into it (carefully) with my laptop and a bowl of cereal. While I ate in bed (which I never do -- either my writing life has relaxed my usual uptight code about such things or I'm coming down with something), I tweaked the synopsis that I finished last night and sent it off to my agent. She got back to me a couple of hours later and we scheduled a call for next week to 'conspire to take over the publishing world', as she put it. At least she's as excited about it as I am -- or at least, as I was, before all the doubts and second-guessing and usual neuroses started creeping in.

But, I realized while I was at the gym, in the post-workout endorphin haze that proved to be good for something despite the pain, that all my doubts and second-guessing are basically the equivalent of what I hated Richard Blais for on "Top Chef: All Stars" all season. I will 'splain the metaphor, for those who didn't watch. Blais was the favorite from the very start; it's universally acknowledged that the only reason he lost his season was because he choked in the finale. So this season, he hated every dish he put out, was sure he was going home in every round (even though he won eight challenges), and was generally so sour and hard on himself that I wanted to shake him and tell him to get a fucking grip.

As is my typical modus operandi, I have become something I despise. So, I'm telling myself to get a fucking grip and stop thinking about how my book can fail, about how it isn't good enough and therefore how I'm not good enough, and how the plot is contrived and the characters are ridiculous and I'm going to have to crawl and beg for my job back. Because really, I don't want to be Blais. And that was a v. good realization to have, even if getting there required an hour of torture from Alyssa and a promise to increase the intensity of the cardio workouts I do on my own. Sigh.

And then, I gave myself the rest of the day off. I need to work this weekend to finish the stuff that my agent needs for the submission, but today was for me. I came home and took care of a few things, with the intention of eating a boring lunch, but it was gorgeous outside, so I went to Joanie's Cafe, sat outside in the sun, and let them cook for me while I started reading a book. I continued to read after progressing across the street to get a pedicure, continued to read after I got home...and as soon as I finished the book, I picked up the next in the series. Somewhere in there I took a break for a sandwich and a cup of tea, and then I finished the second one -- and long story short, I'm halfway through the third.

I'm plowing through Nora Roberts' "Brides" quartet, which I picked up on sale at Borders a couple of weeks ago and was saving as my reward for the first moment I could take a break. So far, they're wonderful -- I probably should have stopped at the end of book two, because now I have a headache and my eyes have that sort of vaguely-strained feeling they always used to get when I went on reading binges. But I must say that Nora, with 190 books under her belt and 300 million copies in print, is one of the rare authors who, even if they're phoning it in at this point, is still consistently good. She can still deliver the emotion and the joy of falling in love, which is a gift.

And before I pull a Blais and start debating whether I'll have that talent after my 190th book, or my 19th book, or whether I even have it now, I'll cut myself off and go to bed. I'll probably finish book three tomorrow, and then debate doing my work (although the jury's still out over whether I'll follow through). Goodnight!

Friday, April 01, 2011

take it on the run

I'm utterly out of words and I need to go to bed immediately, but I finished my synopsis. It would have been nice if my productivity had started a few hours earlier so that I could have gone to bed at midnight, but at least it happened.

The first part of my day, though, was mostly fun; I made it into the gym for my training session with Alyssa, and we decided to upgrade to three times a week until the romance conference so that I can buy the most smashing dress possible. I did some cardio after we worked out, showered, came home, and ate some lunch while starting to think about the synopsis. I didn't get very far, though, and eventually abandoned it to go to Starbucks with some of my old workflow people -- Vickie happened to be in town from Seattle, and a bunch of people showed up (including Heather, Ray, Tiffany, Renee, Ariel, and Brittany). Not everyone could stay very long, since they mostly had jobs; but Renee had the day off, and so Renee, Vickie, Tiffany and I hung out for a bit longer. It was lovely to be out in the sun, even if it was almost too hot -- it was ninety degrees, which was a sharp and sudden contrast to the last few weeks of rain. I left them around four, came home, ate a snack, stared at the synopsis, ate an early dinner because the snack wasn't enough, took a nap, and finally started plotting...

...and I think I have a solid plot, which is awesome. I actually plotted it using post-its on a display board, and it seems to flow quite well, with good balance between internal and external plot conflicts. Then, I typed it up, and kept editing to try to make the emotions clear without overwhelming the synopsis with actions. I ended up with six and a half pages, which seems reasonable. I still need to proofread it one more time, but I'm going to go to bed and do it in the morning before sending it to my agent.

And now, I should really go to sleep -- goodnight!