Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the bleeding love, the silent escape

I meant to go to bed twenty minutes ago, but as it's only 12:17am (three hours earlier than I've been going to bed), I'll probably still get enough sleep before I have to get up and go to the airport tomorrow. I was extremely lazy today, alas. I woke up at eleven, read my email, and was so annoyed by one of them (about the ceremony that I'm planning next year) that I pulled the covers back over my head and went to sleep again. So by the time I woke up, calmed down and composed a response, showered, etc., it was two p.m. I went upstairs and ate a snack while watching the Nate Berkus show, then eventually wandered back downstairs to pack. The packing done, I messed around on the internet for awhile, ate supper with the family (steak, baked potatoes, salad), watched some fine CBS programming (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, NCIS, and the Victoria's Secret fashion show), bid my parents goodnight, came downstairs, repacked (since I'm traveling with only a carry-on and keep changing my mind on what to leave here and what to take back to California), and took care of some email.

Sorry, that's all boring. Hopefully I get a ton of writing done on my plane trips + my two hour layover, and then I'm going straight into hermit mode for the next few days, with the goal of having a clean enough draft of the whole book that I can share it with my beta readers by Sunday. That requires a bit of luck and a shitload of work, so don't be surprised if I go just a little bit crazy here over the next few days. Goodnight!

Monday, November 28, 2011

slow down my bleeding heart

I have nothing to say about today and almost didn't blog at all, but I can't break my streak just because I feel apathetic. The writing did. not. go. well. Which, really, is all I need to say, right? I woke up at noon, since I failed to set an alarm (thinking that I would wake up automatically at ten or eleven), then got dressed, made lunch (scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, which were delicious), and proceeded to bang my head against my desk for a couple of hours. Around four p.m., I thought perhaps I should leave the house and get one of those ridiculously awful convenience store cappuccinos, but instead I decided to go for a walk. It was 37 degrees and the gravel road was slightly squishy since it rained a few days ago and the ground hasn't frozen yet, so I was quite cold despite wearing sweats over a pair of running tights from high school and my ancient hot pink bomber jacket with fur trim. But I walked to the cemetery, which is approximately a mile away by road, and didn't get mauled by a bobcat, so I consider it a success. My dad drove by and found me, then showed me his tiling operation in the field once owned by my great-grandfather (hint: tiling has nothing to do with decorative tile, and everything to do with drainage).

After we got home, I banged my head on my desk for another hour or two, and then ate supper with the family (roast beef, roast potatoes, roast carrots, gravy, leftover apricot salad). Then I refused [censored]'s offer to watch [censored] and tried to write some more, with limited success. I reread my entire journal instead, which isn't a huge feat since I rarely write in it because I'm usually either writing a manuscript or writing the blog, but it was a worthwhile exercise to see how my thinking has progressed over the past eighteen months. I also started sketching out a possible research trip to England and France in the spring, which is the last thing I need to be spending time on right now (which of course makes it the most appealing thing to think about).

So now I'm going to go to bed and set my alarm so that I get up earlier than noon (but not by much, since it's 3am here) -- I really must write tomorrow, and I also must pack since I go back to California on Wednesday. Goodnight!

it's a thousand pages, give or take a few

I can barely remember the first half of the day because it was utterly consumed by the flames of the second half. I shall try to reconstruct it for you, though, like a shoddy arson investigator reconstructing a house fire and getting a dude executed for something that likely wasn't arson (see: Texas, several years ago).

I woke up around 10:15, which was actually early compared to when I have been waking up, although that fact didn't seem to be appreciated by my family. So I showered, got dressed, made my bed, etc., and went upstairs to find the entire Wampler clan gathered in the kitchen. I suppose my aunt's scandalous husband isn't a Wampler, but you can tell he wishes that he were (or maybe he wishes he were anywhere else -- it's a little unclear). sssanyway, Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, Drewbaby, Aunt Becky, Scandalous Uncle Brian, and Gram were all here, as were my parents and [censored], to belated celebrate Thanksgiving, so we all hung out for a few hours. My mother made another midwestern feast: hamballs (ground ham, ground pork, breadcrumbs, etc); sweet potatoes (with brown sugar but sans marshmallows - we're not savages); cheesy potatoes (self explanatory); pickled beets (ugh); apricot salad (canned apricots, orange jello, cheese - much more delicious than that incomplete description makes it sound); relish tray (carrots good, radishes bad); and rolls (gluten-filled). Aunt Kathy brought cranberry salad (cranberries, celery, cherry jello); Aunt Becky brought a lemon cake that looked amazing but that I didn't eat due to my gluten avoidance. We didn't play Rail Baron or anything else because everyone wanted to leave before dark, when the deer descend on the roads and make every journey a miniature version of Frodo and Sam toiling towards Mordor, where the orcs are replaced by unarmed but suicidal deer who thwart you at every turn.

So it was good to see them all. It's so hard to believe that Drewbaby is a senior (as is my nephew Zane), so I'm planning to come back in May for their graduations. I will see them all again when I'm back here in a couple of weeks, though, so I don't think anyone felt a lot of pressure to hang out. After they left, I basically worked straight through until now, with some breaks here and there to snack, watch bits and pieces of TV, catch up on bits and pieces of the internet, etc. I slogged through another 15ish pages -- good, but still never enough. I'm going to work like crazy this week, so even though I get back to California on Wednesday, expect hermity posts through the weekend.

And now I must sleep before the language processing centers of my brain utterly shut down; that last Mordor reference nearly blew them out. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

you smash it, we'll build around it

I was quite productive today, which may have been detrimental for family relations. Since the rest of the Wampler clan is descending tomorrow, I needed to be productive in advance. While I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't write any entire book today, I wrote/edited the equivalent of 20+ pages and typed up all those edits (no quick task), so that's good progress. Unfortunately I still have half the book left to finish, but the majority of those scenes are edits of previous scenes, not new scenes, and those tend to go faster. Hopefully I'll keep up the momentum that I've had the last few days; since my deadline is rapidly approaching, I don't have much choice.

However, I did take a couple of breaks; I ate lunch (leftover chili) while chatting with my parents for a bit, and I ate dinner with the family (leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc.) before watching three episodes of [censored] with [censored]. I'd refused to watch quite bluntly last night, since the book isn't writing itself, but I couldn't evade it again tonight; I said I'd watch two episodes, but the second one turned out to be a cliffhanger, so we had to watch the third. It involved these super creepy angel statues that behave similarly to the Boo Diddley ghosts in Super Mario 3 - if you're facing them, they can't move, but if you turn away, they attack. It doesn't sound creepy, but it is, particularly for someone who prefers to read romance and avoid all types of horror (that would be me, if you're obtuse; and that would be 'dense' if you don't know what 'obtuse' means).

sssanyway, I bailed on further episodes since I wanted to watch the last half of the Stanford/Notre Dame game, and so [censored] retreated to his room while I switched to ABC. Unfortunately, we're far enough away from the ABC tower to render reception dicey, and I watched the entire second half with the picture cutting in and out every 2-3 seconds. I have a massive headache now, likely because I was on the verge of a seizure, but I'm glad I saw the seniors' final game at home. We should go to a decent bowl, although I'm betting the BCS will find some way to screw us -- we shall see.

After the game, I wrote for the past three hours, fueled by Mountain Dew and a deep, abiding fear of the dark. I can't stay awake any longer, though, particularly since my family is showing up tomorrow and I can't sleep until noon. So I shall go to sleep and hopefully dream of Scottish earls rather than weeping angels. Goodnight!

Friday, November 25, 2011

our passion rises up from the ashes

So much for getting up early, but also so much for vacation. When my alarm went off this morning, I shut it off, and promptly slept until noon -- oops. But then I woke up, took a shower, ate some lunch, and proceeded to work most of the afternoon/evening/night. I was working at the kitchen counter for most of it, which was not maximally productive since I had the LSU/Arkansas game on mute for much of the afternoon, and also kept talking to my family members as they wandered in and out during their various chores and errands. I also took a break for supper (for which I made the brined porkchops that I've been making in California, to go with some awesome potatoes my mom made and the leftover layered lettuce from yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner), and I lost an hour and a half or so reading up on British peerage/titles/forms of address (and another hour and a half just now after falling into a rabbit hole about extinct languages on Wikipedia).

So since it's 2:45am here, I must go to bed immediately. But luckily, I wrote approximately fourteen pages today -- not enough to finish the book, but I'm making progress. So hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight, write another 14+ pages tomorrow, and keep feeling like finishing this book is possible (hahahahahahaha). Goodnight!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

i'm gonna rock you like a baby when the cities fall

Happy Thanksgiving, loved ones and cyberstalkers! Although if you've been reading faithfully for years and have not yet showed up to my house with a big bottle of lotion and a carving knife, then I consider you a loved one at this point.

sssanyway, I had a lovely day; I was quite lazy this morning, getting up late and eating one of my high-falutin' almond milk and whey protein smoothies while hanging out in the kitchen with my mother and watching a bit of "The Young and the Restless" (which surely won't survive much longer, given the demise of so many other soaps). I eventually came downstairs and showered/made myself up, just in time to have Thanksgiving dinner (aka lunch) with my parents, [censored], sister, brother-in-law, nieces x2, nephew, grand-niece, and grandma. Dinner was delicious -- my mom made turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, layered lettuce, and some stuffing that I thought was quite awesome. My sister made gluten free rolls for me, which was a v. nice gesture that was utterly lost when I proceeded to load up on stuffing and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie in a blatant attempt to pretend that I had no problems with gluten. And then my stomach hurt and I had a headache the rest of the day, so I think my gluten allergy may be the real deal.

Or maybe children give me a headache, which is a possibility that I'm not willing to test again for awhile. But my nieces and nephew are old enough to have conversations with (19, 17, and 15 are old, right?), and my grand-niece is adorable (and can sing bit of Selena Gomez's "I Love You Like a Love Song", which was hysterical), so that was all fine. Anyway, it was good to see the family, and they eventually left around 4:30 for other, more interesting pursuits. I took a nap in the living room, then helped my mother with the dishes, then had a snacky snack while watching "Big Bang Theory" with [censored]. I categorically refused to watch "Doctor Who" with him tonight because I needed a break from noise (which made my mother observe that I'm turning into her, and [censored] attempted to get me to rebel against my inevitable decline into old age by watching tv, which was an odd rebellion that I refused to participate in). So I've spent the last few hours hiding in my room, which has been less than delightful, mostly because my head hurt too much to do more than write a few paragraphs of the scene I'm currently working on.

But that's okay -- my headache should improve by morning, hopefully, and so I'm going to go to sleep and set my alarm so that I can get up and write. Tomorrow needs to involve less gluten and more writing -- wish me luck. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

step step you're too slow...speed it up

I didn't go straight to bed last night, since I decided to read an excerpt from an upcoming Kresley Cole book (LOTHAIRE, which I've been waiting for not-so-patiently for ages). But when I did go to bed at midnight, I was apparently so tired that I slept for twelve hours with no problems, and so I didn't get out of bed until after noon. Hopefully this means I'll be less tired for the next few days, but we shall see.

When I did get out of bed, I was still feeling lazy, and so I messed around online, got dressed, and spent some quality time watching tv in the kitchen while my mother prepared the advance portions of tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast. It turns out I really like the Nate Berkus show (although I just lost more time than I care to admit to reading about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, since he lost his partner in Sri Lanka when they were both swept out of their hotel); he's an Oprah protege who does design, cooking, and fashion segments, all of which were entertaining. I eventually came downstairs and thought about working, although I didn't get much done. Then we all ate supper (teriyaki), and then my [censored] convinced me to watch three episodes of "Dr. Who", which I've never watched. Katie will be devastated to learn that I really enjoyed them, but hopefully she's come to accept that I like sci-fi/fantasy stuff and will still love me.

After running away from the television, I did do about an hour of work; it wasn't writing, but it was plotting out my publication schedule for the next year or so. I'll have a better idea of what's possible once I finish Malcolm/Amelia's book and write Ellie/Nick's book, but I'm hoping to write a book every 4ish months. It's doable but not easy, so we'll see. I also need to decide whether to focus solely on Regency or take some time to finish my gargoyles book; I want to write the gargoyles (even though they have nothing to do with gargoyles), but sales are typically better if you're releasing frequently in the same/related series, so we'll see.

And now I must go to bed so that I don't sleep through Thanksgiving dinner -- goodnight!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

this ain't a scene, it's an arms race

I was brutally tired all day, which is why I'm considering going to sleep at ten p.m. (also known as eight p.m. in my usual time zone). I slept eight hours last night, but I still barely made it out of bed in time for my ten a.m. call with the publicist I'm hiring. I got up just in time to put on some clothes (so I didn't feel utterly slovenly) and grab some tea, and then we chatted for an hour about where I should focus on my publicity and marketing efforts and how we should move forward. I thought she was great, so hopefully she'll be able to help me get my book sales going when the book is released.

And the first book will be released on January 23; we're likely going to release the second one at the end of February, and the third one at the end of April. My agent gathered all the necessary data and sent the first book off to an ebook formatter today, so yay for that. More details to come, but it's all quite exciting, even if I'm too tired to sound particularly excited about it right now.

I spent some quality time this afternoon hanging out upstairs with my mother. We had a rather unplanned chili cookoff; her chili is good, but it has a much bigger quantity of tomato juice than the chilis of California (which is true of the other chilis I've had in Iowa; the ones at church suppers and school lunches had a lot of tomato juice). Since it's so juicy, it tends to be best with a lot of crushed saltines or a grilled cheese sandwich, neither of which work with my gluten experiment. I had bought ingredients for my black bean chili yesterday, so decided to make it in addition to hers. That chili has no juice at all, and the 'liquid' comes solely from a puree of diced tomatoes and black beans, so it's substantially thicker than what the family was used to. They all made fun of it when they saw it, as per usual (see: my attempt to introduce them to risotto), but they also all finished their helpings and mom went back for seconds, so I'll consider it a success. Or perhaps not a success, since I intended to eat it as leftovers for the next few days and may not have a ton left.

After dinner, I came downstairs and lost myself in a wikipedia hole until now. I'm too tired to write, and while I have a book (or fifty) that I'd like to read, I think I'll go to bed and attempt to regain my energy levels so that I can write like mad tomorrow before Thursday's Thanksgiving festivities. Goodnight!

Monday, November 21, 2011

the grand facade so soon will burn

You get virtually nothing from me tonight because I'm beyond exhausted. Five hours of sleep last night wasn't nearly enough, particularly since I had to work on the plane rides. I made it to the airport without any problems, grabbed a latte in an attempt to wake myself up (which just gave me the caffeine shakes), and then worked on my author note/acknowledgments/bio/etc. for Madeleine and Ferguson's book so that I can get it formatted properly in preparation for the launch. The good news is that I've pushed the deadline on Amelia/Malcolm back to December 19th -- which is still v. v. soon, but is so far beyond December 5th that it feels like a miracle. So yay to that, since it means I might actually see my family occasionally this week.

In Denver I attempted to be good and follow Alyssa's directives, but the Wolfgang Puck salad was perhaps the saddest, most awful thing I've eaten in a month, so I didn't eat much of it (but I did finish a whole glass of wine, since I was sitting at the bar, which made me tipsy on an empty stomach). I tried to rectify by getting a Jamba Juice, but I'm not sure I was successful. Then I flew to Des Moines, working on my marketing plan the entire way, and rendezvoused with my parents. They were quite kind to take me to the grocery store on the way home (the one an hour north of us, which is the nearest big-time grocery store -- it's no wonder I stockpile stuff). They were also quite kind not to roll their eyes too badly while I bought almond milk, whey protein, cumin, and a variety of other Alyssa-approved but not Iowa-bred foodstuffs. Luckily (?) it was nearly freezing outside, so dumping perishables in the back of the truck for the drive home was like leaving it all in a vast cooler -- and now I'm stocked up with gluten-free delights.

When we got home, I reveled in the anticipation of sleeping in the queen-sized bed they finally put in my room, which is pretty much the highlight of my year after too many vacations spent sleeping on the twin bed that they bought when we got back from Ukraine and that had slowly transformed itself into a slab of concrete over the past eighteen years. Then, we went out for supper, where I pursued my gluten-free agenda by having a ribeye and a baked potato -- really, it's not a hardship, although turning down my brother's breaded mushrooms was difficult. When we got home, I came downstairs immediately to work, but ended up unpacking first, then watching the last half of "Hawaii 5-O" with my brother (after being lured to it by a v. hot scene of Alex O'Loughlin escaping a North Korean prison). I finally started working around 10:30, and spent the last two hours finishing up some stuff for my agent and writing the rest of my marketing plan in preparation for a call with a publicist tomorrow.

And now that you've gotten way more than I intended to give you, I really must sleep. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

same same

I went hardcore with the socializing today in an effort to see my San Francisco tribe before going back to Iowa tomorrow. Or perhaps I went hardcore with the socializing because it was more appealing than packing and editing. In any event, I'm exhausted and must go to bed asap, since I need to wake up in five hours to go to the airport (after sleeping five hours last night too).

But I won't leave you hanging without a brief recap. I woke up, showered, trimmed my bangs, turned them into a mild disaster, and left them a mild disaster because I didn't have time to fix them (since any further cutting could be fatal, and I needed a break to refocus my efforts so that I don't butcher them on my next attempt). Then I sped over to Katrina's for book club. It was technically Lauren's turn to host, but her house is still being renovated, so Katrina hosted for her -- and via a miscommunication, they both made food, which turned into a delightful and delicious mistake for the rest of us. Chandlord was too sick to come, but Terry was a trooper and came for an hour on the way to the airport (with her sister, who was taking her to the airport and so was an informal and uninitiated guest for the proceedings). The book, as you know from last night, was THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and the conversation was interesting and entertaining, as per usual. Terry and Kasey left, but Katrina, Lauren and I sat around and drank champagne until two p.m., which was a lovely way to start the day.

After book club, I came home and furiously attacked my to do list. I got everything packed up, cleaned my room, emptied my part of the fridge so that rotting veggies aren't taking up space for Terry's Thanksgiving feast, etc., etc. I also talked to my parents, as per usual, although there wasn't much to say since it was my father's birthday yesterday (happy birthday daddy!) and so I talked to him then, and will see them both tomorrow.

I wasn't planning on doing anything other than working tonight, but Shedletsky invited me to dinner with Tammy, Tammy's boyfriend Daniel, Can Sar, and Shedletsky's girlfriend Christina. I don't see those kids very often, and this was my only chance to see Tammy while she was in town, so I drove to Belmont to hang out with them for an hour. I spent more time in the car than I did in their house, but it was worth it; I enjoyed the chicken tacos, and the conversation was as entertaining as it always is.

Sadly, I had to leave them to come back to the evil city for second dinner, this time with Adit, Priyanka, Katrina and Chandlord for Sunday night family dinner at My Tofu House. We don't get together every Sunday, but it's lovely to have some family time [side note: I got a hit on my blog a couple of weeks ago from someone who seemed to be one of my mother's cousins, who clicked on the tag 'family time' and must have been v. confused]. It was particularly lovely since I won't see those fools, or eat soft tofu, or any other soy product really, for a couple of weeks. So we hung out and ate and were merry (sans drinking, thank goodness) before I abandoned ship to come home and take care of the last little details before my trip.

And now, after blogging for longer than I intended, I really must sleep - 4am is going to come all too soon. Goodnight!

we are such stuff as dreams are made on

I am nearly hallucinating from exhaustion; as I brushed my teeth with my eyes closed, I felt surrounded by any of the dozen bathrooms I've had over the past decade, and the starbursts on the edges of my vision may be some cause for concern. If they were tasty strawberry or lemon starbursts, perhaps I would delight in their chewiness, but they are exploding pinpoints of light on my retinas, which is much less enjoyable.

I woke up moderately early today and spent several hours preparing my room for my departure; there's more stuff on my to-do list than I can possibly do, which is how I roll, so c'est la vie. However, I had to leave my house at 1:30 to drive to Manteca, which is ridiculously far away, for a board meeting of the San Francisco romance writers chapter that I'm part of. I got elected to a vice president of programs role, which is both cool and more than I should have committed to, but it should be fun. The chapter president lives in Manteca, which is so far along the route to Yosemite that it actually says Yosemite on signs around there. The meeting was good, though, even if there are characters that I would like to describe to you and cannot (both from circumspection and because there are no words).

After leaving Manteca, it took two hours to get home, but forty minutes of that was spent in a standstill on the approach to the Bay Bridge (damn rain). When I got home, Terry and I watched Big Game, and I was supremely thankful that we beat Cal (sssssss). We took a break at halftime to get burgers, and then I proceeded to watch the rest of the game even though I had way too much to do. The game ended at 10:30, I came upstairs at 11, and then rather than going to sleep like a smart person, I started reading the book for tomorrow's book club....

...and of course I finished the whole thing, even though I vowed to put it aside halfway through and accept that I would have to go to book club without having read it all. The book is THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and I am torn between thinking it was great and really hating it, so perhaps some sleep will clarify my opinions. But now, I really must sleep; I have to pack, put together a bunch of stuff for my agent, run some errands, etc., etc., and manage not to be so tired that I miss my flight on Monday morning. Yay. Goodnight!

Friday, November 18, 2011

all you want is a beauty queen, not a superstar, but everybody's dream machine

It's Friday night, which must mean that it's time for one of those posts that combines "I didn't do enough" with "I drank too much." But first -- a public service announcement! For those of you who read this via Buzz, or who are sooooo tired of the effort required to type in a URL, you now have the option to subscribe to my posts via email. See the sidebar for "get my drivel in your email", and if you enter your email address, it will deliver my posts to your email inbox. Pretty slick, right?

sssanyway, I woke up this morning, did a bit of non-writing work (the social media side of my job), and then drove down to Palo Alto to train with Alyssa. Right when I got there, I got some potentially good news in my inbox, but I'm going to hold out and not tell you what it is until it's set in stone. No, my request to become a cyborg did not come through, so don't get your hopes up too high. So I made Alyssa cool her heels while I sent a couple of emails, and then we worked out, which was still strenuous despite missing the first ten minutes of our program. After working out, I showered, dolled myself up (rather ridiculously; my love affair with leggings may be my downfall), then ate a salad at the gym. I then proceeded to Target, where I stocked up on cleaning products, etc., and then I rewarded myself with a peppermint mocha, which may or may not have given me a headache since it was the first sugar I've had all week.

I drove home after that, but I hit the beginning of rush hour and sat in traffic on the approach to the city; while the mocha may have given me a headache, the combo of the mocha and some DJ Tiesto on my ipod was all that kept me from a case of extreme road rage. When I got home, I procrastinated for a bit (again, no writing) before Terry came home surprisingly early. So we talked for awhile, and then she went to get her brows waxed while I answered emails that have piled up over the last 4-6 weeks. Upon her glorious return, she opened a v. nice bottle of wine, which we proceeded to drink most of while watching last week's "Next Iron Chef" and two episodes of "Once Upon A Time". Yes, we're dorks, but I defy you to find a funner evening (or more fun, depending on what level you made it to in grammar nazi training).

Sadly, we didn't watch the OSU/ISU game; I didn't want to watch it, but I'm stunned and thrilled that Iowa State beat Oklahoma State. It just makes Stanford's loss that week that much more depressing, since we would be in the national title hunt for sure if we'd won, but c'est la vie. Still, I feel for Oklahoma State since they lost two coaches from the women's basketball program in an airplane crash today -- what a rough thing to have to play through. But way to go, Cyclones -- tragedy or not, it's amazing that they kept playing, didn't give up, and ultimately gutted it out.

And now, I must sleep; I need to write in the morning, and then I have to go to the wilds of Stockton (or thereabouts) for a romance meeting in the afternoon. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

from underneath the rubble sing a rebel song

I'm in serious trouble. Half of today was bleak, rotten, miserable, the kind of misery that eats away like acid at one's heart and mind, until all one's faith and hope are burnt to ash. The other half was awesome, perfect, transcendent, where all the words come in just the right order and every character lives and breathes and feels so powerfully that they etch themselves on the page.

From that you might guess that I'm in serious trouble because I'm bipolar, but no (or rather, who knows, but that's not the problem). I'm in serious trouble because I have four days until my self-selected deadline for finishing this draft, and I have more than four days' worth of work left to do (particularly since I've got plans every day of those four days, including flying to Iowa). If the deadline slips by a day or two, the consequence is that I have less time for my beta readers to read it and give me feedback before my ultimate deadline, which is currently two and a half weeks away. And I care too much about writing the perfect book to be happy with whatever I can knock out in the next four days, even though my honors thesis experience would argue that I'm certainly capable of finishing in time.

Anyway, today was extremely hermity. I only left the house for three minutes (to stock up on diet mountain dew from the corner shop), and I spent the rest of the time locked in my room, either working or procrastinating (mostly procrastinating in the morning, almost entirely working from 3:30ish until midnight, with a break for dinner). When I'm in procrastinating/stress/work mode, I tend to cook more than I otherwise would, and so my late breakfast/lunch was some applewood smoked bacon and some scrambled eggs with peppers, onions, and cheese, and my supper was the last of my leftover risotto with a freshly-cooked porkchop (which I wasn't entirely in the mood for, but it had to be cooked tonight, and it turned out deliciously enough that I didn't mind it). I also drank some truly excellent coffee from my French press, in addition to two bottles of diet mountain dew, and yet I feel confident that I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Somewhere along the way, I wrote ten pages from scratch (2200 words) and revised several scenes (which involved writing lots of snippets from scratch, but I didn't count up those words), so I'm making forward progress. And all I can say is onward -- it will happen, and all I can do is make it happen as fast as possible. Now I shall sleep, so that I can go see Alyssa in the morning before continuing to work like the devil is gnawing on my heels. Actually, that wouldn't be particularly motivating, but you get the drift. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

they smashed my heart into smithereens

I need to start using lotion on my hands more frequently. I just stretched them over my head before beginning to type, and in the dim half-light of my bed, obscured by my blindness as I looked at them over my eyeglass frames, they looked like hideous, grotesque dinosaur claws wrapped in human skin and painted, macabrely, with Affair in Red Square nail polish. In other words, I saw what they may look like when I age, and it wasn't a pleasing thought. The ravages of time are coming for me, but I shall not go gently into that good night. So, lotion it is, or at least remembering not to flex my hands so that I see the tendons shadowed by my bedside lamp.

That was a bizarre opening to the blog, but I'll let it be. My usual refrain of not getting as much done as I wanted to is starting to wear thin. Today I woke up around ten, and thus was two hours later than I had intended to be for an informal writing date with my friends Grace and Tina, but they were kind enough to forgive my nightowl nature. When I got there, Tina had made sushi for lunch, and so we chatted for an hour before getting to work. The first work was't for me, but it was a fun brainstorming session with Tina about her next series, so it was a good mental exercise. Then, I worked for a bit and wrote four pages in an hour, which was pleasing, before talking to Tina and Grace again. It still counts as work, since Tina is massively successful as a self-published author (300,000 copies sold in the past 12-16 months) and there's a lot I can learn from her as a result. And, whether I could learn anything or not, they're quite entertaining, so I'm glad I went over.

I left around four, came home, spent a bit more time working on zee manuscript, and then made supper -- reheated risotto and a freshly-cooked pork chop. The risotto was slightly less thrilling than last night, probably because it was leftover, but the pork chop was possibly perfect. It had brined for an extra two hours last night before I pulled it out of the solution and wrapped it up for later cooking, and I didn't make the timing mistakes that I made yesterday, so it was piping hot and juicy when it was time to eat it. Yummy yummy. I know this confession is sacrilege, but I may have almost preferred it to a steak. You can revoke my Iowa birth certificate now (although, in my defense, Iowa raises a lot of hogs).

After supper, I went out with Jenni and Marci, my old coworkers from oh so many years ago. Jenni and I have been friends for years, and I spent a lot of time with Marci (including a summit trip to India) before she went to Boston for work. She moved back quite some time ago, but since I no longer work at our mutual employer, I don't see her much. So, we got together at a wine bar (The Pour House at Polk and Bush) and caught up for an hour or so. They did the wine flights, but I confined myself to a single glass of excellent pinot noir (truly excellent -- one of the best glasses of wine I've had in awhile). They were both in good form, and I'm glad that we actually got together before the holidays. After we parted ways, I went to the airport to pick up Terry, and then she and I caught up at home for an hour or so before her bedtime.

And now I, too, must sleep; I'm going into lockdown hermit mode tomorrow, with no plans to see anyone, and I intend to keep it that way. Goodnight!

a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, clutching a hand grenade

I wasn't as productive today as I intended, but since that's always, always true, I should probably stop saying it. Remember my birthday goal of being nicer to myself this year? It's working out real swell, tanks for asking.

So I woke up this morning and worked throughout the morning/early afternoon, with a trip out of the house to grab lunch at Morning Due since I had nothing worth eating in the kitchen. However, when my parking ran out, I needed to vacate, and my errands on the way home took longer than I expected. I made an impromptu, utterly unplanned stop at Flax, my favorite paper store ever (except for Mai-Do, but Mai-Do is more Japanese paper and cutesy stationery in a tiny shop at the mall, while Flax is a gigantic art supply store sprawling across a warehouse-size space). I make my own notebooks these days, and while I have enough plastic covers and rings and paper options to outfit a small army of writers, I was out of pretty paper to use for the interior covers. More detail about my obsessiveness than you wanted, I know. But I bought some utterly awesome paper that will keep me in covers for awhile, and also a small mat and a rotary cutter so that I could cut the covers for my smaller notebooks (since I no longer work for my former employer and so don't have access to their industrial strength paper cutters inexplicably on every single floor even though most people don't have anything to do with paper during their day to day work). And I resisted buying an awesome red fountain pen, so I consider it all a victory.

I then stopped at the grocery store to buy stuff for dinner, came home, put my pork chops in the fridge to brine, and did a bit more work. However, at that point I was running out of steam, and I hit a wall with a scene in which I realized the motivations made no sense and the whole book could be resolved if Malcolm and Amelia just had a sensible conversation over tea instead of arguing excessively. Damn damn damn. So my storytelling side needed a break to work my way out of this dilemma, and I took that break by making an elaborate dinner, violating my personal rule about not drinking alone, and watching the first four episodes of this season of NCIS: Los Angeles. Dinner was a repeat of last week's elaborate dinner (pork chop + risotto), but I bought better, thicker pork chops this time, and it turned out quite delicious (if a bit undercooked, although that made it tasty; if I die of trichinosis, I brought it upon myself). Since I had to open a bottle of wine for the risotto, I proceeded to drink two glasses of it, which I rarely do by myself since there seems to be such a slippery slope from frustrated writer to alcoholic writer -- and the level of pleasure I got out of self-medicating tonight is precisely why I very rarely indulge (alone; last weekend was all the proof you need that I'm quite capable of indulging with others).

Of course, NCIS: Los Angeles was self-medicating too, but it was fantastic; I really like that show a lot, and the backstory that is slowly being doled out about Callen and Hetty is super intriguing. I may have to pound the remaining episodes before I go back to Iowa so that I'm caught up for whatever I might see there (CBS programming and all that) -- but since I have a fucking book to finish in the next six days, perhaps I don't have time. Sigh. So I really should go to bed, get up, and get to work. At least I forced myself to take a break between episodes to fold clothes, clean the kitchen, do the dishes, etc; without that busy-work to distract me, hopefully I can get a lot done. And I think I figured out how to resolve my plot dilemma, so forward progress shall be made. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

you couldn't be that man i adored

It's hermit week, and so I have nothing of interest to say. I went to Palo Alto this morning to train with Alyssa (who was rather brutal to me since I'm canceling Wednesday's session in honor of my hermitage), then showered and ate a salad at the gym before going off in search of someplace to work. I started at Philz Coffee, and one of the highlights of my day was trying a different coffee than I usually get; today I tried Jacob's Wunderbar, and it was quite wunderbar (as zee Germans say when something is wonderful). So I worked there for a couple of hours, debated going home, and instead went to Stanford library and did another couple of hours of work. After eating dinner at the CoHo, I made it home around 7:30 or 8, and I've worked ever since.

Boring, right? The last couple of hours weren't super productive, since it involved a lot of printing -- I'm printing out a fresh copy of my manuscript since a lot of the edits I have would go must better if I were working on a hard copy. But I should be ready to get productive tomorrow morning; I canceled the plan I had made for tomorrow, so I have the whole day to focus.

I also have the whole day to come up with more exciting things than I had to share in tonight's blog post, but you shouldn't hold your breath that tomorrow's post will be any more interesting. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

took my love and i took it down, climbed a mountain and i turned around

I'm blogging early tonight so that I can abandon the laptop, crawl into bed with my notebook, and write until I fall asleep. But first, I must say that I'm incredibly impressed (if I do say so myself) with how coherent last night's blog post was; it's almost like I wrote it without having had eight drinks beforehand. Whether it's good or bad, I don't know, but I've retained my ability to go big when the situation warrants and still seem at least moderately sober/coherent. Yay for me, right?

Still, this morning wasn't totally pleasant; waking up six hours after last night's fun times would have been brutal whether I had been drinking or not. A v. long shower helped me to recover, and I slipped into the best purchase I've made in months -- a pair of leggings that look and feel like a comfy sweater, making them a dressier version of sweatpants. Then, I took Terry to the airport and bid her a fond farewell before driving back to the evil city and having breakfast with Priyanka and Adit. Priyanka had wanted me to stay over last night, which made no sense since I was closer to my place than theirs, but since I went over for breakfast it was like I had all the benefits of a sleepover (morning family time) without having to sleep in my clothes and wake up looking like a mascara-smeared train wreck. Priyanka made me a delicious omelette while Adit played tennis in the park, and we continued to hang out when Adit and his tennis partner returned. The eggs helped me to feel more human, which was a v. good thing.

When I left their place, I came home and talked to my mother earlier than usual; she wanted to discuss bedding options for my room at home, and we talked about bedding for nigh on an hour (so for those of you who wonder where I get my bedding addiction and my obsessive planning, I present Exhibit A). We hung up around two p.m., and I had approximately ten minutes to take care of business before Katrina showed up. We had a prearranged date to go to Sephora to take advantage of my 20% off everything coupon. For me, this involved an indecent amount of money stocking up on moisturizer, mascara, and the other staples of my cosmetics wardrobe (since 20% off only happens once a year and is a great deal). For Katrina, who doesn't wear makeup, this was an opportunity to get a couple of key items so that she can dip her toes in the wonderful ocean of makeup.

She may not see it as the wonderful ocean that I see, but it was quite entertaining, even if the combo of our discussion before Sephora and our trip to Sephora took three hours. She bought me a coffee on the way home, which was much appreciated, and then we parted ways so that I could call my parents for our usual Sunday conversation. After talking to the parents, I tried to unwind a bit, ate the last of my leftover chili, and finally sat down to work on the manuscript -- and am not feeling it, since I still have a headache. So I tinseled my hair (so useful, right?), which helped me to unwind a bit more after an entire weekend spent in the company of others. I need some hermit time over the next couple of days, and I intend to take it.

And now, my friends, I shall retire to my bed with my notebook and see where it takes me. Goodnight!

i'm a freak, a star, i'm everything you are

Mmm mojitos. I shall regret this in the morning, particularly since I must awaken at 8:45am so that I may take Terry to the airport. But mojitos, particularly those made by hipster bartenders in lovely, ironic flannel, are worth the pain that I shall suffer.

But as usual, we must begin at the beginning, even though the beginning is rarely as interesting than the ending (as was discovered by all the people at the party tonight who knew that I'd gotten a manicure (per the beginning of last night's post) but missed the spilling of half a bottle of red nail polish all over my couch (per the end of last night's post, which they apparently missed)). My beginning was rather early today, but I made it to Berkeley by 9:15am for the monthly meeting of the San Francisco romance writers group. My friend Vivi (not her real name) joined us, which was great, and the program today was a 'man panel' (a California Highway Patrol cop, a train engineer, a wilderness expert who happened to be female, and two firemen). Obviously, that was both entertaining and insightful. Also, I was elected VP of Programs for next year, which means I get to plan the agendas; this would be more of an accomplishment had I not run unopposed. C'est la vie; a political career must start somewhere, and mine is headed for the stratosphere, right?

After the meeting, we all stuck around for lunch, and I had a variety of wonderful conversations about writing/publishing, and also made tentative plans to have high tea in Sebastopol (which is not in Russia, its Russian name notwithstanding). Then Vivi and I hung out at the brewery for another couple of hours and pretended to work, but failed. Then I drove home and watched the Stanford/Oregon game, which was pretty much the most depressing thing that I've watched this year, so I shan't recount it.

I managed to regroup after the game, and Terry and I went over to Adit and Priyanka's (extremely) early Christmas party. They rented out an entire bar in SoMa, and it was fairly epic; it peaked quickly, resulting in an unnecessarily difficult to navigate crowd, but it was still quite fun. Clearly it was fun for me; I had five mojitos, half of a Hemingway daiquiri (my favorite drink of the night; too bad I spilled it while reaching for a slice of Domino's pizza that Lily ordered), half a glass of wine, and a shot of whisky. Really, I should be dead. Or rather, thank you to my liver for saving me from my self so often. Anyway, all the key players showed up - Adit and Priyanka (natch), Chandlord, Katrina, John and Jess, Folk-e-man, Peder (aka Timmy Timer), etc., etc. Many people left over the course of the evening, but I was part of the last ten who closed out the bar at two a.m., a dubious feat that I will disclaim all memory of in the morning.

And now, after taking a taxi home, I really must go to bed; 8:45 is going to come all too soon. Goodnight!

Friday, November 11, 2011

what if i avenge, what if eye for an eye

I didn't write a single word today, other than a couple of emails and this blog post (which is still in progress as I type this, obviously, and could turn out to be complete crap - which seems likely, given how I've started it). I woke up around 8:30 and worked on publishing related stuff until it was time to leave for my gym session with Alyssa. I was a few minutes late due to the rain, but it was good to see her. The gym was super crowded today because the 1%-ers who train there had the bank holiday for Veterans' Day -- while I was getting dressed after showering, I was listening in on a delightful conversation in which one woman was gleefully telling another woman how she'd gotten invited to some dude's house in LA for Thanksgiving, and he has a butler and everything, etc. Great. Still, Alyssa was good, and I'm glad I saw her.

After I made myself cute (and Alyssa saw me after I was cute, which is rare since she usually has a client after me; she seemed startled at my showered, made up appearance), I went to Joanie's and had some eggs while thinking about what I need to accomplish over the next couple of weeks. Then I promptly threw the list out the window and went across the street to get a manicure. I picked a bold red (Affair in Red Square), since I have a ridiculously early in the season Christmas party tomorrow night, but it turned out to be a tragic choice for reasons which I shall enumerate shortly. Still, eight of my nails look great, so I suppose I'll take it.

After the manicure, I sat around and wasted a bit of time, and then met up for coffee with a Palo Alto author (Meg Waite Clayton, who wrote THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS and THE FOUR MRS. BRADWELLS). Alan, my old old boss (i.e. before the big boss) had been trying to get me to meet with her for ages, and I'd kept politely declining out of a combination of shyness and knowledge that we write very different stuff. But, he finally convinced me, and I'm so glad he did. She was quite lovely, and we talked for over an hour about what worked for her and what didn't in terms of publicity, interacting with readers, etc. It's always great to meet other writers, and it was a wonderful way to spend a rainy Friday afternoon.

When Meg and I parted ways, I checked my phone and discovered that tonight's dinner was suddenly at 5:30, so I sped over to Vive Sol and met up with Heather, Salim and Durand. They were all in fine form, and we generally reminisced and entertained each other over margaritas and a variety of Mexican delights. I got home around nine, and Terry and I watched this week's episode of "Bones"; I still haven't caught up on the last couple of seasons, which means every episode carries with it the chance that I'll find out who died at the end of last season, but I was v. pleased to see that one of my top three guesses (the prosecutor) wasn't the person who bit it.

However, in the middle of the episode, tragedy struck. While having coffee with Meg, I was fiddling with the lid of my tea and accidentally cut grooves into the paint on my thumbs, which was dry enough not to smudge but not dry enough to withstand cutting. Since I have my own bottle of that exact shade (Affair in Red Square, which I will repeat so that you grasp the impending horror), I decided to patch it tonight. I'd put on a coat, then let it set for a bit, when I reached for the bottle to give it a second coat. However, I hadn't screwed the cap back into place (which is rare, since I usually seal things like that), and so when I picked up the bottle, I accidentally flung it across the table and dropped it on the floor, where it rolled under the couch. Disaster, right? There were streaks of polish on the arm of the couch, down the side of both the couch and the end table, and on the carpet (luckily on my rug, not the condo carpet). Terry ran for the towels, and luckily my fingernail polish remover was gentle enough that we were able to wipe up the polish before it set in. So the couch and the table are fine, and it wasn't as awful as it could have been -- but I hope it warms up tomorrow so we can open a window and air out the fumes.

And now, I must go to bed; I have a romance writers' meeting early tomorrow morning, I intend to come home and watch the Stanford/Oregon game, and then I have to go to this Christmas party (ridiculous). Goodnight!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

difficult difficult lemon difficult

Today was one of those rare days that I spent entirely in the city; had I not gone to Chandlord's nearby slum for dinner, I wouldn't have left my neighborhood at all. I woke up at eight, accidentally fell asleep, and woke up again at 9:15. Then, I worked for a couple of hours before taking a shower, which seems to be my norm when left to my own devices. My agent had sent me an email requesting some information from me, and I also got an email from a publicist I contacted a couple of days ago about the potential of working together, so I spent some time dealing with both of those emails. Marketing feels like something I could theoretically do myself, given my background, but I also want to get this launch right, and this publicist was a publicity director at a variety of publishers for 20+ years before forming her own company. So I'm excited to work with her, and hopefully it will get my books some good exposure.

After dealing with all of that (and eating the last of my leftover risotto for breakfast -- I'm sad to see it go), I finally showered, got dressed, etc. I took a break around one to make chili for a late lunch, and the chili was just as awesome as it was the last time I made it. Then, I spent the afternoon alternating between writing notes/plotting out scenes for Malcolm and Amelia's book and despairing about my prospects. The despair lifted by the time I threw in the towel at 6:45pm, though -- I went on a salvage mission through the original manuscript and pulled out a whole ton of scenes that I can use/reuse/recycle and put them in the appropriate places in the new manuscript, and discovered that there are now only 10-12 scenes that I need to write from scratch. The rest can all be cobbled together, hopefully without any Frankenstein's monster scars, from the best bits of what I already had. If I'm diligent, I might actually meet my deadline of having a draft of something to share with my betas before I go home for Thanksgiving next Monday (fingers crossed).

I eventually had to stop for the night so that I could fulfill my promise to have dinner with Chandlord. I met her at her place, and then we walked through the fringes of the Tenderloin to eat at some Burmese place at Larkin and Turk (somewhat insalubrious, but I only made Chandlord cross the street to avoid upcoming crackheads once, so that feels like a victory). The restaurant itself was decent, particularly with the first salad that we ate, and we ordered way too much food because it was all cheap (which meant we then proceeded to spend too much). After dinner, we went to the bar that replaced Lush Lounge; it opened three weeks ago, and Vidya wanted to check it out since she had loved Lush, but it was mostly disappointing. The bartender was eager to please but couldn't pronounce curacao or grenadine, which made him seem somewhat questionable. Also, I ordered a mai tai, which he made completely differently from the ingredients printed on the menu -- which isn't to say that his was worse, just that going off the menu for one of the only drinks on the menu seemed odd. However, the bouncer went to the convenience store across the street and brought back pretzels and M&Ms for the bar, so that was nice, right?

Since neither of us were feeling the bar, Chandlord and I went back to her place, retrieved her DVD of "In the Loop" and my car, and returned to the generally dull safety of the Marina. Lauren (aka Subz) was here, having a similarly lowkey night with Terry, and so we hung out with them for a bit before Subz had to go home (since she trains with Alyssa tomorrow at seven -- sucker). I put the movie in, but Terry started falling asleep almost immediately, and Chandlord fell asleep a bit later even though it was her idea to watch it. So I rousted her from the couch and took her home so that I could go to bed myself. And now I shall do that, so that I may go to Palo Alto in the morning -- goodnight!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

watching the throne

I'm super sleepy, so this is gonna be quick. I was supposed to go down to Palo Alto this morning to train with Alyssa, but I canceled on her at the last minute; I woke up with a headache and didn't particularly feel like driving down, so I skipped it and got a whole bunch of work done instead. I still ended up going to Palo Alto later, but I was glad that I was productive (even if my headache never did go away).

I left home around 2:30 and went south, where I spent an hour-plus running an annoying errand (buying rubber bands/binder clips, then picking up a printout of HEIRESS from Kinko's, then going to the post office and mailing it while listening to a toddler have a fifteen-minute tantrum and ignoring his mother's ineffectual but loud threats to cancel the play date he was supposed to be going to after the post office). The errand was necessary, since I was sending a copy of the manuscript to get a possible review from Romantic Times (the magazine that I know you all wish you were subscribed to) and it needs to be there early next week. Then, I went to Starbucks, where I worked for another couple of hours and also randomly ran into an old coworker who ended up sharing my table.

The real reason I went to Palo Alto was to have a friendship renewal dinner with, Tolu, Joann and Jane; I didn't feel like driving down, as I mentioned before, but I didn't want to miss out on dinner with them since we might not get together again before the holidays. We went to Coconuts, a Jamaican restaurant that I was last at a couple of years ago (April 14, 2009, to be exact) during an earlier friendship renewal dinner. The drive was worth it to see them, and we had a v. lovely time discussing our respective lives for a couple of hours.

Now, though, I should really sleep; I have no plans to go anywhere tomorrow, which is so exciting, so hopefully I'll get some serious writing done. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

you gotta crawl 'fore you walk

I was pretty productive today, although I could have been even more productive had I not made what turned out to be an unnecessary drive to the glorious south bay. I woke up relatively early, did some work, showered, etc., and eventually made my way around my block to my polling place so that I could vote. My civic duty thus accomplished, I came home, did some more work, and then decided that a change of scene was in order. Since I was supposed to go to my writing group tonight, I drove down to Stanford and hoped that the library would revitalize me. However, after sitting for a couple of hours, I decided that my headache and cough were still too much to bear, and so I canceled on the writing group and drove home. I felt guilty, but since I can feel guilty over just about anything, I decided to forgive myself.

As I was getting home, Katie called, and we caught up for a lovely hour or so. And then I proceeded to work the rest of the night; my headache may well be stress-induced, and I'm trying to make great strides this week so that I can go into the week before Thanksgiving with a better sense of my manuscript. I spent some quality time tonight reevaluating where I'm going with the rewrite in an effort to make sure I'm not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and discovered that I may be able to rescue at least a few limbs even if I can't save the entire thing. So, that's good news. And now, after a v. boring blog post, I shall go to bed and hit it hard again tomorrow -- goodnight!

Monday, November 07, 2011

i put my hands up in the air sometimes

Mmm...today was lovely. I woke up in time to get some work done this morning, and I even wrote a page of Malcolm and Amelia's story before venturing down to the south bay for my training session with Alyssa. As I suspected, Alyssa tried to kill me after my week away, and my phlegm-filled lungs tried to assist her, but I survived. I'm actually feeling a lot better, even though my voice is still rough and I occasionally start coughing uncontrollably, so at least there's that. And my workout made my twisted ankle feel tired, but hopefully that will encourage it to return to its usual untwisted state sometime soon. Alyssa was in fine form and it was great to see her, so I'm glad that I went down despite my cold.

After the gym, I went to Joanie's and ate some delicious eggs (the waiter was v. surprised when I asked for eggs instead of a cobb salad, but it was just cold enough outside that I wanted something warm). Then, I adjourned to Starbucks and wrote for a couple of hours; I need to look at my notebook and determine how many pages I actually wrote, but I finished the scene I was working on and had a major revelation about one of the characters (which I may or may not keep - it's a big risk), so it was all good. I eventually abandoned the south bay and drove back to the evil city just in time to beat traffic, then went to the grocery store and bought a few ingredients to make something tasty for supper.

Terry is quite pleased that "Next Iron Chef" and "Top Chef" are both in the DVR rotation -- watching cooking shows always makes me want to cook, and I was seriously in the mood tonight. So when I got home, I read a few recipes from Bruce Aidell's "Complete Book of Pork" cookbook and put the porkchops I'd bought in a brine to enhance their flavor before cooking them. Then, I did some work for an hour before cooking supper, but the supper was relatively easy (albeit stir-heavy, so I spent half an hour over the stove), so it was quite nice. I made the risotto al barolo out of Mario Batali's cookbook; when I've made it for friends, they've loved it, but my parents were quite bemused by it when I made it several years ago. I didn't have any barolo wine, but the pinot noir I picked up at Safeway did the trick (so much so that I used a cup for the risotto, and then Terry and I polished off the bottle tonight). When the risotto was nearly done, I pan fried the porkchops, and it all came together at approximately the same time. I didn't do the recommended pan sauce after the porkchops since I didn't want to bother with it, but perhaps I'll try it next time.

The verdict was that the risotto was great, and the porkchops were quite tasty but perhaps overcooked by a minute (or they could have been brined longer; the cookbook recommended four hours and I brined them for two). Still, it was a lovely supper and I felt v. please with my accomplishments. Terry ate the risotto too, which was a score for me since she then volunteered to do the dishes afterward, and we sat around the dining room table and drank our wine and discussed life. Then we watched tonight's "How I Met Your Mother", and now I'm going to go to bed so that I can get up tomorrow and write (supposedly). Goodnight!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

let's delay our misery

The morning was lovely, but my energy has crashed along with my caffeine levels, so I shall keep this brief. It was rather a godsend that the time changed last night, since I'm not sure I would have survived going to brunch if it hadn't. While I certainly didn't drink as much last night as I did on Halloween, I still felt like crap, and dragging myself out of bed and into the shower required a Herculean effort. However, I left the apartment on time and sped over to my old neighborhood for brunch with Dontae, one of my former employees who wanted to ask me some questions about business/life. We were going to go to Mission Beach Cafe, but after I spent twenty minutes looking for parking and finally made it over to meet him, we were still well over an hour away from getting a table. So we promptly abandoned it as a lost cause and went to Chow, where we were immediately seated on the patio and enjoyed a delicious breakfast (and three cups of coffee, which started my rapid ascent and even more rapid crash).

After Chow, we went to Four Barrel for coffee, and the latte certainly didn't help my caffeinated state -- I was utterly twitchy by the end. But we enjoyed catching up on life while watching the unbelievable hipster scene happening around us, and it was all quite fun. We spent approximately five minutes talking about what he wanted to ask me and three hours talking about a wide-ranging variety of other topics, which was a lovely way to recover from my hangover. When we parted ways, I came home, took care of a couple of things, and led Terry to the observation that drunk Sara and overcaffeinated Sara aren't too dissimilar -- I'm still remarkably coherent in both states, but there must be some sort of wild look in my eyes that gives me away. The caffeine crash was abrupt and awful, and so I took a nap before calling my parents. Eating some leftover chili for supper helped to stabilize me, but I was still pretty useless and only managed to write a couple of pages tonight -- c'est la vie.

I did, however, enjoy some fine television programming with Terry. We watched last week's "Once Upon a Time", which is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows, and I can't wait to see tonight's episode. We also watched the Halloween episode of Craig Ferguson, which featured Zooey Deschanel (just a day or two before her separation from the "Death Cab for Cutie" lead singer was announced -- and there were markedly no questions about her personal life) and Neil Gaiman (who is my idol when it comes to being a superstar writer). We wrapped it up by watching "Next Iron Chef", which is absolutely astounding to me -- it's truly nailbiter television, to the point that Terry was curled up in a ball on the couch refusing to visually watch the end while I sat in openmouthed horror with my hands covering my mouth as the finale went down. They've picked ten amazing chefs (tonight got it down to eight) who are culinary gods in the kitchen, and the difference between victory and defeat can come down to a sauce being just a bit too thick. It's fantastic viewing for anyone who likes cooking shows, and I highly recommend. In fact, I think that after the new year (I would start now, but I just don't have time), I'm going to challenge myself to make one new, interesting recipe a week, since I love to cook and don't do nearly enough of it, and have also fallen into a rut when it comes to what I make when entertaining. I'm excited for it, and I think Terry's equally excited (as should all of you who want to eat the fruits of my labor).

And now, I must sleep; I have to go to Palo Alto tomorrow as per usual, and then write a million pages. Goodnight!

there's a log on the fire and it burns like me for you

Terry said today that she had no idea I was thinking of entrails and hangings last night whilst I was watching tv with her, so I feel compelled to point out that I wasn't thinking of any of that until the moment that I wrote last night's blog post. I don't know if it's worse that all of last night's post was stream of consciousness rather than a premeditated weirdness, but c'est la vie. I shall attempt to not be weird tonight, but since I had an unholy combination of white wine, red wine, bellinis, and rum punch over the past few hours, weirdness (or at least a headache) may be inescapable.

I awoke this morning to the knowledge that I needed to do a shitload of work, and so I promptly procrastinated. I hung out with Terry for awhile, then procrastinated in my room, then took a shower, then procrastinated some more. I was coughing up my lungs most of the morning and didn't feel like going out, but I felt like cooking even less than I felt like driving, so I eventually went to Morning Due with the intention of eating and working. However, it was extremely packed when I got there, and so I didn't get much done; instead, I stayed for an hour, then came home and worked. And I actually did work -- I wrote a little over four pages, which was not enough (it's never enough), but was at least respectable.

However, I wanted to watch the LSU/Alabama game with Terry, and so I went downstairs and drank some chardonnay with her while watching the first half. We also ate some of my leftover chili from last night, which was even better the second day (as per usual with soups). I was planning to stay in tonight and nurse the remnants of my cold, but Adit and Priyanka called to see if I was going to John and Jess's musicale party in the glorious south bay. Clearly I was intending to bail on it (and had rsvp'd as a maybe, since I was quite sick this week), but Adit and Priyanka knew just how to play me. They started by cajoling, then offered to give me a ride, then said that we could listen to PBS Frontline about "meth in America" all the way down (this was admittedly not a great negotiating tactic). But they saved the dagger to the heart for last, and finally reminded me that John and Jess come up to the city for all our shit. I caved at that guilt trip, and so Adit and Priyanka picked me up a little after seven (with me nursing my sweet mint tea, which was an odd decision after two glasses of chardonnay, but the tea is good for my throat).

We went down to the musicale, and I must admit that I had a lovely time despite my illness. The group was an odd mix of extremely talented vocalists (the minority) and untalented laypeople (the vast majority), and so Jess, her fellow student, and her music teacher sang several different songs. Then Adit and John had a haiku battle, which was quite entertaining. At some point Adit, Priyanka, Chris (aka Boyd) and I adjourned to the kitchen, where I proceeded to drink several glasses of wine in quick succession while we gossiped in whispers (not so subtle, I fear). Eventually, Boyd was convinced to play "Save Tonight" by Eagle Eye Cherry on the guitar, which may be the only time in the history of the world in which Italian opera, haiku, and Eagle Eye Cherry were referenced in the same party. I also hung out with an old coworker and her husband, which was fun, and generally had a great time (particularly after some rum punch was foisted upon me -- sigh).

Adit, Priyanka and I left before the party was fully over since we had to drive back to the evil city, and they dropped me off at my door before speeding off into the night. And now I must go to sleep; I have brunch plans in the morning, and while I shall gain an hour in my sleep, I fear it's not enough to save me from a well-deserved wine hangover. Goodnight!

Friday, November 04, 2011

the city never sleeps better slip you an ambien

I'm coughing like the devil has taken up residence in my lungs and has started up the forges for the appropriate roasting of the damned. But, I'm better than I was earlier in the week; but, I'm also not hung over, so perhaps that may have something to do with it. Anyway, with the continued effects of my cold, I wasn't as productive today as I had hoped -- but I just remembered that my resolution on my birthday was to be nicer to myself this year, so let me rephrase. I accomplished quite a bit, really. I did two loads of laundry, accumulated and sent in the necessary information for an ad that I'm buying, sent several emails back and forth with my cover designer over the blurbs we're including on the back covers (which are now done! and so they will look lovely if you choose to buy a paperback instead of an ebook), made breakfast (bacon and oatmeal), cleaned the kitchen, brought my new desk chair upstairs, wrote a couple hundred words, made some killer chili for dinner, and watched tv with Terry. That's pretty respectable, right?

Eh. If I could just focus on marketing and business right now, I would be a happy camper. But I have to slog forward (and quickly) on Malcolm and Amelia's book, which quickly turned from "oh this will be easy!" to "I want to make a noose from my entrails and hang myself from the Golden Gate Bridge while cursing their names with my dying breath". In the moments when I am most annoyed about revisiting them, and most enjoying the business/marketing side of tings, I begin to doubt myself and wonder if I should just crawl back to corporate America and strive to reach the 1% so that I can buy some third world kid's entrails for a noose if I want to kill myself someday. But I somehow doubt that is the solution to my problems, even if I would pay the kid's family handsomely. No, I want to be a writer, and I am a writer, and I just have to stay true to that and not let myself be seduced by what is easy for me when I know that I can write a great book.

I fear that tonight's wild tangents may have scared you off, so if you're still here, allow me to say goodnight properly. I'm going to go to bed now (at 11:30 - I know, crazy), so that I can get up tomorrow and fight the good fight with my manuscript while railing at my characters, my defective lungs, my stress case stomach, and anything else I can think to rail against. But at least I'll be railing from the comfort of my new desk chair -- it's truly wonderful, and was the brightest of bright spots in my day. You can see a picture of it (with my desk and writing accoutrements in the background) here -- goodnight!

my body don't lie

I kind of feel like death. I told Terry (when she knocked on my door to check on me - she heard me coughing tonight, but since I'd curled up in bed before she even got home, she hadn't seen verifiable evidence that I wasn't on the verge of death) that at least I wasn't as sick as I was when I got home from Germany, and she appreciated that I've developed a baseline. Still, I'm pretty miserable, and so I got virtually nothing done today, which annoys me.

That's not entirely fair to myself. I woke up and nine and cleaned my room, showered, made tea, took care of some business, etc., and then sped down to Mountain View to have lunch with Gyre. This was a journey fraught with peril, since I've been so focused on zee writing that I haven't seen or made plans with a lot of people at my former place of employment. And as Gyre and I walked into our usual cafe, I ran into my friend Jenni (who emailed me a couple of days ago and I hadn't gotten back to yet), but she gave me fair warning that she was about to have lunch with two other people whom I haven't seen (Heather, aka dear respected madam, whom I at least had dinner with a few weeks ago, and another person who's been trying to get together with me for ages and I've kept putting off in the interest of getting stuff done). So Gyre and I fled through the side door and went to another cafe, where the food was awesome and we caught each other up on all the developments in our respective lives (which were interesting and numerous, since I hadn't seen him for six weeks).

He had a one o'clock meeting that he couldn't skip, so I left campus as soon as we were done and went to the other campus of my youth -- namely Stanford. I was in the parking lot there and almost decided to come home instead, since I felt like crap and just wanted to lie down, but our cleaning lady was supposed to come today and I didn't want to lie about while she was here (so you can imagine my annoyance when I got home at seven and discovered she didn't come - grr). So I went to the library and did some legitimate slogging for an hour, then some daydreaming/sniffling for another couple of hours. I gave up around 5:15, grabbed a quick dinner at the CoHo, then came home and crawled into the bed I had wanted to be in all day. I should have written, but it was a losing battle, so instead I picked up a book...

...which is always my downfall. I read the whole thing, but since I started it at a reasonable hour, I'm done with it and can go to bed at 12:30am, which is pretty good for me. The book is a new release, and it's steampunk, so if you find all that ridiculous, you can stop reading the post for the night. It's called HEART OF STEEL, and is the sequel to THE IRON DUKE, which I read last year. I loved the book all the way through (really, truly loved it), and yet I finished it feeling slightly bemused. It's basically an alternate history/fantasy, and the premise is that the Mongols kidnapped Marco Polo and his entourage of scientists, then used them to create ghastly steam powered war machines to destroy cities, as well as nanotechnology that could either turn people into zombies or make them susceptible to control by radio towers (depending on the strain of nanotech one was infected with). Thus, when the Mongol hordes attacked the West, they weren't stopped at Vienna, and instead turned all of Europe, Asia and Africa into a landmass teeming with zombies and studded with fortified citadels inhabited by enslaved citizens. Cheery, right?

Anyway, I loved this book, possibly more than THE IRON DUKE -- but I realized after I put it down that I loved the characters (adored them!) and loved loved loved the intriguing, unique world (which fits all the characteristics of a world that lives on in the reader's imagination, since it's impossibly vast and can hold millions of stories), but I didn't love the plot/romance. I mean, I liked the plot/romance, and in any other book, they probably would have satisfied me. They just didn't live up to the amazingness of the characters and the world-building, which made them seem weaker than they actually will. Still, I'll keep reading the series and am utterly hooked, so it was a good use of a few hours.

And now that I've geeked out, I shall go to bed and hope that I feel marginally less like death tomorrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

i know that it just ain't right

I sniffled and sneezed and coughed my way through the entire conference today, but I survived the entire thing and am better for it (better in the developmental sense, not in the health sense). I walked into the conference right as it started at nine a.m., and proceeded to spend the entire day tweeting about it. The net result was that I picked up about fifty followers, but probably alienated all my friends who don't care about publishing and hated me for tweeting so much.

The conference was all about ebooks, and there was tons of useful stuff to learn. However, you don't care about any of that. If you do, you can read my post on the group romance blog I'm part of, or check my twitter feed -- but really, you don't need to. The other news is that I finally publicly announced that I'm self-publishing, although that was probably lost in the deluge of tweets about the conference. You can read the official announcement on zee romance blog if you're curious.

By 5:15, I was dead on my feet, but I still met Vivi (not her real name) in the bar of the hotel for a soothing Bailey's on the rocks and some Dayquil (probably contraindicated). She didn't attend the conference, but she came into the evil city to get the lowdown from me, which I gave her whilst sitting in the bar and sneezing periodically. I conned her into going out for soft tofu soup, since I'd been craving it yesterday and didn't get it; just before we left the bar, Priyanka texted to say that even though she turned me down yesterday because she'd just had soft tofu three days ago, she was ready to go again. So I picked her up and we proceeded to 10th and Geary, where My Tofu House gave me some delicious, spicy soft tofu with beef and seafood to warm me up and make me happy. Oh, and the company was pretty good too.

After I dropped Priyanka off at her house and Vivi off at the BART station, I came home, curled up on the couch with my laptop, and watched whatever Terry was watching on tv. When I got up to come upstairs, she said I looked more pale than she has ever seen me (which is saying something, since I ain't exactly colorful). But I couldn't go to bed, since I'd volunteered to write the blog post I linked to above. Now, though, I can sleep, and I intend to sleep until nine a.m., then clean my room, then proceed with my plans for the day as though I'm not dying. Yay. Goodnight!

in the city of blinding light

Bleh. I feel about half as bad as I deserve to feel -- I woke up with a hangover, which was entirely to be expected, and it wasn't even that terrible. But I also woke up with a head cold, which came out of nowhere, and which I was utterly surprised and upset by. My throat hurts, my nose is runny, my head hurts, and I'm generally a mess. Add to that the fact that I twisted my ankle while wandering around in the Tenderloin last night and was wasted enough to forget it, which surprised me when I got out of bed leading with that foot. Not. Pleasant. At. All.

The morning proceeded to go awry; I got out of bed, showered, made myself look passably human, went outside, and couldn't get a cab. After waiting for awhile, I ended up driving downtown, and so by the time I parked and walked to the hotel, I missed the first twenty minutes of the session that I really wanted to see. I stayed for the next session, but they had lost my interest and I felt like death in the superchilled conference room air, so I came home and slept for an hour and a half. Then I went back to the conference, which still didn't interest me particularly; in my surly state I've come to the conclusion that a lot of this transmedia stuff is just bullshit marketing ploys, and while there are some things that are genuinely interesting, I'm not quite ready to abandon books as my primary media platform.

The conference ended around five, so I came home and have worked ever since. There are all sorts of things that I need to be doing (besides writing a whole fucking novel, which I'm putting off until Thursday), and I did some of them today -- signing up for a mailing list management program and customizing the mailing list signups, writing a blog post announcing my self-publishing endeavors and upcoming release dates, redrafting the back cover blurbs, filling out a form for an ad that I'm buying in Romantic Times (yes, that magazine exists), etc. I'm making forward progress, which is good, but I was feeling way too whiny tonight to be working. So I happily took a break for a bit and watched the pilot of "Once Upon a Time" with Terry, which was intriguing and convinced us to DVR future episodes.

And now, I must load up on Nyquil and go to sleep; I need to be at the conference by nine a.m., and since I'm way more interested in tomorrow's all-day breakout on epublishing, I don't want to be late. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

watching the lights go down, letting the cables sleep

Well, this was unexpected. On my first day in recent memory in which I expected myself to behave like a polite young professional, I got utterly and totally blitzed. My bad?

I shall start at the beginning. I didn't sleep at all well last night; I went to bed at midnight, but since I normally don't sleep until 1 or 2am, this was quite difficult for me. I eventually let myself sleep just a bit, so I missed the keynote of the conference that I'm attending -- but I still made it downtown by nine, which I counted as a victory. The conference is extremely interesting, with a lot of implications about how media/content creation and delivery will change over the long term, and I'm glad I participated. It was quite an exhausting day, given how much there was to talk about, and I got into a bit of a twitter spat with a dude who actually said "no offense, but I think you don't understand what the long tail is" (when I spent seven years at my previous job working with the long tail - and the point I made was that anyone who thinks the money is in the long tail is kidding themselves. If you're running a studio (or Google) and have thousands/hundreds of thousands of contributors in your long tail, you can make money off of it, but if you're one of the content creators *within* the long tail, the amount of money you'll make off of any one piece of content you create is unlikely to support you). I really, really hate fifty year old men who treat me like an incompetent child because I look like a cute nineteen year old instead of a potbellied old man.

Moving on, the rest of the day was good. I skipped the last session to have drinks at the bar with one of the women from the San Francisco romance chapter; she introduced me to a friend/fellow conference goer who used to work at Pixar and was the forehead model for Mr. Incredible of "The Incredibles" (incredible!). After my two mojitos there, I came home (via a cabbie with whom I had a v. heated discussion about abortion, to the point that he went the wrong direction and then reset the meter when I pointed it out). Terry came home shortly thereafter, and we went to Chandlord's general stomping grounds to have drinks and pizza/chips/guacamole at Olive. After two drinks there, Terry dropped me off at Chandlord's and went home, while I spent some quality time watching "Gossip Girl" with Chandlord and drinking the extra bottle of champagne left over from book club.

Geetika showed up at some point, and we polished off the champagne before heading out into the night. Our luck wasn't good, since many things were closed, but we ended up at some Thai place across the street from Olive that was amazing. Why I ordered a malbec, I don't know, since it was my eighth drink (four cocktails, three glasses of champagne, one wine), but I did -- and the pad see ew and the papaya salad were awesome. I abandoned Chandlord and Geetika at that point, caught a cab home, and am now contemplating the sweet release of my pillow so that I can get six point five hours of sleep before going to the conference tomorrow. Goodnight!