Wednesday, November 30, 2016

faking the books

Today was genuinely pretty delightful. Blocking the internet in the morning continues to help me focus (although I still have enough internet that I can answer email and take care of basic tasks - I just can't go down an endless rabbit hole of political coverage). I got off to a late start since I went to bed so late last night, but I spent the morning/early afternoon hours taking care of a wide variety of necessary activities to move me closer toward my goals of writing a book + moving out of my apartment (spoiler alert if you didn't know: I'm moving out of my apartment in less than three weeks, and it seems like as good a time as any to mention that here).

So yeah - did I tell you that I'm moving out of SF? And that I'm going on a grand world adventure? It starts with driving my car to Iowa in mid-December (always a dicey proposition), followed by three weeks in Iowa for the holidays. And then I go to Bali for six weeks, followed by London for six weeks, followed by Venice for a week, followed by Milwaukee (because Milwaukee is a natural way to end such an adventure).

I'll be blogging a lot more about this in the future (especially when I'm in these places, obvi), but I'm pretty excited for this next adventure. I've been feeling the travel itch for a long time, and have also been traveling a lot already anyway, and it just felt like now's the right time for me to go someplace and have some adventures and hopefully write SPINSTER HONEYMOON (especially in a place that could add some additional fodder for the story).

sssanyway. the next few weeks will be insane as a result - moving and also finishing a book should not happen at the same time. So of course, I took a couple of hours off this afternoon despite that. I walked down to Hayes Valley, where I had a v. late lunch in a pop-up type place that serves lunch inside Noir Lounge when Noir is closed during the day - my salad was exactly what I needed. Then, I went to Warby Parker and got new glasses (highly recommend them!), and then I went to Philz and caffeinated and wrote for a couple of hours.

Then I came home, took care of household chores (including cleaning my bathroom, which is a joyless, thankless task), and then spend the evening hanging out with Claudia. I hadn't seen her since before I went to Salem, so she came over and I ordered Thai and we opened a bottle of wine and had a proper catch-up. And I realized that I'm not feeling all that many emotions over going to Bali because I'm gone all the time anyway - so right now it just feels like a bit of a longer trip than usual. Also, if I spent six weeks in Bali, that will be the longest stretch of time I've spent in the same bed in at least two years - so it's no wonder that this kind of travel feels approximately as stable as anything else I've done recently.

But now I'm falling asleep on my couch and it's time to rectify that and go to bed - goodnight!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

wrap her up in a package of lies, send her off to a coconut island

Today was rather shockingly productive, considering I was not feeling #inittowinit for awhile (especially after I had some bourbon, but I'm getting ahead of myself here). I woke up this morning and forced myself to sit down and write for twenty minutes before I did virtually anything else, and that seemed to help get me into story mode even though I didn't have time to keep going. Instead, I showered, ate a snack, and drove down to Mountain View, where I had lunch with my old coworker friend Tomas. I hadn't been to campus at all since April, I think, and I've been v. removed from the gossip as a result. So, we caught up over one of those lunches that maybe would have wowed me ten years ago, but now doesn't feel totally worth driving down for (yes, I'm still spoiled even though I haven't worked there in a year and a half).

Then, I drove to San Bruno, where I had a writing date with Anne, Barbara, and Deborah. I often don't get much writing done with them, especially when we haven't seen each other recently - Barbara spent last week in Hawaii and Deborah and I have had alternating travels for several weeks, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of productivity. But I eventually settled down and got four pages, which I'll totally take. This was even with the distraction of email and texting and scheduling social activities for the week - so that was good.

Then, I sat in my car and called my mom, and then I drove home and quickly ate a frozen enchilada and made myself a boulevardier and called my friend Maya. She and I have been trying for weeks to get time together to talk about writing stuff - she lives in NYC, which makes the scheduling tricky. But we finally talked tonight, and it was great - we both want to make similar career switches over the next year (she also writes historical romance and wants to write something closer to YA or women's fiction), and we're going to start talking monthly and sending chapters to each other, and I'm excited about that.

I was also excited to discover that I make a mean boulevardier - I probably could have happily had five of them tonight. But since it's pure alcohol (bourbon, campari, and sweet vermouth), five of them would have put me under, and I need to work tomorrow and not spend the day recovering from a hangover. So, I limited myself to one (heroic, I know). Then, I turned on the tv and played a couple of episodes of the last season of 'Top Chef' so that I had some background noise while I was working. I've been meaning to finish reformatting the paperback for LORD OF DECEIT forever, and I really need to get it done - and some cooking in the background was the perfect complement to my eye-straining endeavor of redoing the InDesign file so that the book size can be 5"x8" instead of 6"x9".

So, I finally finished that - I still need to redo the cover to fit the new trim size (smaller overall size, but wider spine because there are more pages in the smaller book), but I'm going to attempt that tomorrow. For now, it's time to sleep and hopefully dream of something like Bali instead of something like running from Nazis (in other words, I'd prefer sweet dreams instead of my usual nightmares). Goodnight!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

a different line every night guaranteed to blow your mind

Today was lovely, and I'm on a roll (belatedly) with the writing, but I'm going to stop while I'm ahead and get some sleep so that tomorrow won't start as late as today did. I got up around 9:30 (note: I didn't go to bed when I said I was going to last night), showered, ate some eggs, and met Katrina at Cafe du Soleil for what was intended to be a writing date. Instead, we had a delightful lunch and a couple of coffees each (plus some orange juice for me to improve my vitamin content), and we ended up talking about writing and work and life and Bali for five hours. This was exactly what I needed, since I hadn't had some bona fide friend time in awhile - I've been kind of hermity lately, and while I was out of the house for Thanksgiving, that wasn't the kind of 1:1 bonding that I was in the mood for today.

So, we had a lovely conversation, and then I came home and continued exercising my vocal chords by calling my parents. Then, I took care of some tings, ate some supper, played some sudoku, and eventually forced myself to write four pages, which I will totally take. Ideally I will get triple that tomorrow, but for tonight, that's good enough to get back into the story. Goodnight!

these seconds when i'm shaking leave me shuddering for days

Today was super quiet - I spent the morning working in bed while the rain fell, and then I needed to get out of the apartment and take a walk before I went mad. So I walked to Japantown and went to my favorite stationery store and stocked up on cards, and I bought some Mountain Dew on the way back because I've hit that part of the writing process, apparently.

Then I came home and alternated between procrastinating and working and watching tv - I'm slowly getting back into the book, which is slower than I would like but I'm trying not to stress yet. But I just hit a wall in terms of staring at screens, and I need to go to sleep immediately if I want to be productive tomorrow - goodnight!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

baby we were born to run

I awoke in Pescadero this morning...actually, I awoke several times, thanks to the toddler army (Lauren's son is almost fifteen months, and her sister's two kids are four and two, and they were all quite expressive this morning). But after I mainlined some coffee (and stopped in at a cute coffee shop for more, where they were selling vintage stuff - including a Charlie's Angels thermos that looks like something I saw in my youth for $80. Note to interested parties: if you're in possession of that thermos, you should sell it), I drove back up the coast. I took Highway 1 all the way up, and it was simply, perfectly gorgeous. So simply, perfectly gorgeous that I was rather loath to come back to the city...

...but I had to, so I did. I did some work when I got here, but I was way too tired, and I ended up sleeping for an hour. I was also thinking about cooking, but instead I indulged in takeout Indian food, which was exactly what I really wanted. And then I wasted the evening on a combo of general procrastination + Project Runway - but I prefer to believe that I was stockpiling strength so I can hit it hard tomorrow.

And now it's time for bed - goodnight!

Friday, November 25, 2016

i've had my fun and now it's time to serve your conscience overseas

Happy thanksgiving, everyone! I'm in Pescadero, where I had too much wine while celebrating with Lauren (aka Subz)'s family, and the wine plus the fact that I blocked myself in while helping to move a camper van into prime position (long story) has conspired to keep me here overnight. But today was lovely - I worked all morning, and I did some laundry, and I made some gravy as my contribution to dinner. Then I drove down to Pescadero, which meant I had an idyllic drive along the coast, which filled my soul with joy. And Lauren's family isn't the same as my family, but I've had a lot of events with them at this point, so I was quite happy to share the day with them.

But I'm typing this on my phone, and I should take advantage of the opportunity to sleep before the toddler army wakes up at five a.m. - goodnight!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

find my sun in the dark side of my shadow

Today was one of those rough mornings where I thought I should tackle the manuscript head-on and instead sat around and avoided it, which always leads straight into a death spiral of doubt. This was despite getting up and making a frittata and some coffee and taking a shower early, all of which usually help to jumpstart me.

But, unlike usually, I actually remembered this afternoon (in the middle of a writing date at Starbucks with Anne) that this particular type of block is almost always because something's wrong with the story and not because I'm a lazy disaster - I wish I would have remembered this yesterday, but remembering it today is about three days earlier than I usually remember it, so I guess that's progress? Anne and I had spent the first portion of our writing date talking about all and sundry, but then after I realized the problem, she and I talked through that instead, and I think I have a better plan for how to tackle the next few scenes. Of course, that meant I didn't get that many words on the page this afternoon, but it's all good.

When we were done writing, I grabbed a few things from the grocery store next to the Starbucks (the lines were surprisingly short, thankfully), came home, and did some stuff around the house. I should have written or worked tonight, but I was feeling strangely tired, and I accidentally fell asleep at nine. So I'm going to indulge my sleepiness and go to bed, and hopefully get some decent writing done in the morning before pursuing my Thanksgiving plans. Goodnight!

something about you makes me feel like a dangerous woman

I'm falling asleep on the couch (again...I already did that once tonight), so I'm going to muddle through this as best I can and go to bed asap. Today was a great way to refocus and adjust, though. I slept late, had some coffee and made myself a v. tasty omelette with ham and cheddar (thanks, past self, for buying some breakfast food before I left for ye olde Iowa), and then spent the rest of the morning and much of the afternoon doing a comprehensive sweep of my to-do list (and doing some of the things that have lingered on it).

In general, I think that some of my planning is an exercise in procrastination-masking-as-productivity. However, I'm glad that I took the time to really outline things today - between finishing my book and getting ready for some crazy travel, I basically have more stuff than I can possibly do in a month. Or, at least, it felt like that. But by making eight pages of notes on what I need to do, and then assigning orders and due dates to all of them, and mapping out the next two weeks' worth of tasks, I'm feeling more hope than I did that maybe I'll accomplish everything I need to do.

But by 3:45p.m. I needed to stop and move on to my next task. So I took a shower, and then I walked down to SoMa for an early dinner at Tsunami Sushi with my friend Durand. I haven't seen him in forever, and it was so good to catch up - he now works for my old boss Claire (the big boss), and we have mutual friends (he was in India after I was and we went to South Africa together), so we had a lot to discuss. So much that we were there for 3.5 hours, which flew by like nothing.

Then I came home, and now I've fallen asleep twice while writing this - helped along by a much stronger rainstorm than I was expecting tonight. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

maybe tomorrow the good lord will take you away

I'm back in San Francisco after my whirlwind surprise trip to Iowa - it was #worthit, but now I need to get some sleep and get cracking on finishing Lucy and Max's book. I have approximately eleventy billion things to do in the next month, which is less of an exaggeration than I would like for it to be. Also, tonight I bought a plane ticket to Bali for January, so I need to wrap up a whole lot of stuff before that happens.

But today went as smoothly as it could have gone. I got up at eight and had breakfast with my parents, and we talked until 9:30, at which point I was perilously close to being late for my flight. So I showered v. quickly, packed even more quickly, said goodbye to the parents, and drove to Des Moines. Luckily, the Des Moines airport was as efficient as it always it - it probably took me no more than five minutes from the time I pulled my rental car into the rental car return line to the point when I was through security (maybe it took me seven minutes...but that's pretty good for dropping off a car and going through the airport and up the escalator and through security). So, even though I was later than planned, I still had time to grab a salad and a subpar coffee before boarding my flight.

The flight to Dallas was on time and uneventful. I sat next to a v. nice lady who was on her way to Austin to visit her grandkids, so we chatted off and on, but I also wrote for an hour, which was great. In Dallas I got some more coffee, then boarded my flight to SFO. It was also on time, and I had time for a nap, some solid writing, and a bit of hypochondria over the fact that they guy next to me sounded like he was Patient Zero in a Michael Crichton novel about ape-borne pneumonia.

So when I got to SFO, everything was good - but I didn't want to ruin my happy buzz by sitting in traffic and getting home and having nothing to eat. So, I hung out at a wine bar and ate meat and cheese and drank some pinot noir and wrote some more. When I'd written all I could write, I turned my attention to other tasks (see: ticket to Bali), and I worked pretty steadily for a couple of hours. Maybe it was silly to sit at the airport after my flight landed - but the people watching is great, and they're used to weird people hanging out, and the drive home was only twenty minutes since I waited traffic out, so I'll take it.

But now, I need to sleep - again, I have to do eleventy billion things in the next month, and that requires doing stuff tomorrow. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

he said the leaves are falling down, such a beautiful sound

I meant to go to bed an hour ago, but I fell down a rabbit hole of researching travel gear (one of my favorite obsessions!), and now I desperately need to sleep so that I can do some actual travel in the morning. I had a great short trip home, but it's time to turn around and head back to SF for a few weeks....

Today, though, was nice, and entirely uneventful. I slept in, and then I went upstairs and had breakfast with my parents. I mostly hung around the kitchen for the rest of the day - at some point, [censored] left to go back to [censored], and so he missed out on the excellent cheeseburgers that my mom made for supper. I also watched some fine CBS programming (NCIS: LA, Madam Secretary, and Elementary - a v. good night of tv, in my opinion). And I shared the second half of a bottle of pinot noir with my dad - I'd opened it last night, and it was still delicious tonight. It was from some vineyard called Illahe from the Willamette Valley, and I'd bought it in Iowa a few months ago - I hadn't seen it elsewhere, but I may need to track some more down sometime.

But now, I shall sleep, and hope that my travels tomorrow are uneventful and that I can reimmerse myself in my book. Goodnight!

i got you baby

I stayed up way too late and so I'm suddenly too tired to blog...but suffice it to say that today was my dad's birthday (happy birthday!), and it was a lovely, quiet day in southern Iowa. But I'm falling asleep as I'm typing this, so nothing would be served by trying to write anything longer...goodnight!

Friday, November 18, 2016

we ain't never getting older

Surprise! I am in Iowa!

I will only be here for a couple of days, since I came to surprise my dad for his sixtieth birthday, but I think the trip was worth it. It was even worth getting up at 3:30am so that I could catch my 6am flight. That was all slightly more stressful than usual - I flew American, which I haven't flown in perhaps half a decade, because I had miles on American that I realized I should use on something like this (a last minute trip, which I booked on Sunday). Surprisingly, I was able to find a ticket flying in today and back Monday, and it was all smooth (other than the fact that I'm not at all familiar with the American terminal at SFO and also have never flown through Phoenix, and so my usual SFO->DEN->DSM routine was totally thrown off and I was hungry all day as a result of my poor planning and lack of obvious gluten free options).

So I slept on the plane from SFO to PHX, and then I wrote on the plane from PHX to DSM (good stuff, albeit not enough for my tastes). When I got to DSM, I picked up my rental car, drove home, and rendezvoused with [censored] in our hometown. [censored] was the only person in Iowa who knew I was coming, and I had been texting him off and on all day, but apparently I am not destined to be an expert spymaster (although [censored] was able to translate my Mongolian at some point, so not all is lost). We met up so that he could drive me to our house without ruining the surprise by having a strange car show up in the driveway - and we succeeded rather well, I think. My parents were definitely totally surprised, and if they weren't happy to see me, they are excellent actors.

We hung out around home for awhile, and we eventually went to supper in Seymour, where I had a ribeye and a baked potato to make everything better after a day of limited foodstuffs. My dad has a special relationship with them and they'll make him eggs to go with his steak even though they'll make eggs for no one else at night - he uses his talents for eggs, and I use mine for free wine at bars, but it's all in the same vein. So we ate supper and told jokes and I finally warmed up from the frigid temperatures just in time to go back outside again.

Then we came home, I watched some tv, and now I should sleep - I didn't get nearly enough sleep last night, and I should maximize my time here (although I'll be back in a month, so it's not like I won't have plenty of time then, but still). Goodnight!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

we're not gonna pay last year's rent

I really want to go to bed - today wasn't the optimal productivity day that I was hoping for, but it was still great, so I'll take it. I spent the morning messing around at home, although I got a little work done - I finished putting in the edits from my editor, which is a boring, thankless task, but I finally finished in time to go to my writing date.

My writing date was with Veronica at the Legion of Honor - we're continuing our museum writing date habit. I wasn't as productive today as last time, which was a little disappointing - but I really like Veronica a lot, and it was good to get some quality time with her. We chatted, then worked, then ate lunch (I had a curry that was surprisingly satisfying), then worked some more. And then we saw the special exhibit on the Brothers LeNain - they're a group of three French brothers who painted in the 1600s, and they're a little bizarre in that they seemingly purposefully obscured who produced what, which has led to some mysteries for modern curators. I enjoyed the exhibit immensely, particularly since they painted some children who looked incredibly dim-witted (like the Zoolander of the French peasantry), and they used the same models over and over, which made me laugh. Yes, I am not sophisticated enough for art.

We parted ways after four hours together, and I took a few moments to admire how gorgeous everything was outside Legion of Honor before heading home. Legion of Honor is v. close to the ocean, with a view of the Golden Gate from the west (as opposed to from the east/south, like most of the city), and it's tranquil and gorgeous out there - much moreso than my neighborhood, where I went to CVS and noticed a guy definitely stealing stuff. Thanks for the reminder that I hate the city, thief dude!

sssanyway. After I got home, I took care of a variety of tings (and by that I mean I procrastinated for ninety minutes before running my CVS errand, coming home, and eating dinner). I also scribbled in my notebook while watching a Project Runway episode from two weeks ago - I'm a little behind and I need to catch up.

But now, I'm desperate for sleep - I am way behind on my to-do list, and I am hoping to catch up on all the things tomorrow. Goodnight!

no reservations

I've stayed up past my bedtime, but today was worth it. I got quite a bit done this morning, thanks to turning off the internet before waking up - it's a tactic that I'm probably just going to have to continue. So if there's major news, call or text me rather than expecting that I'll see an email or social post...I feel a lot happier when I can bury my head in my work for a few hours before reality comes knocking again.

But I had to stop working before I was ready to this morning - I had lunch plans with some of my writer friends, since we're all ladies who can do such things. My friend Tina was supposed to go to Tahoe with us, but she was too sick to join, so we had lunch with her to catch her up on what she missed. Grace, Anne, Barbara, Tina and I met at the Cliff House, where we had possibly the most perfect table with an amazing view of the ocean (made even more amazing by the fact that it was actually sunny). I never go out to the ocean, but every time I do, I'm reminded of how incredible it is...but driving twenty minutes across town to get there is just not something I do all that often.

Lunch was great - I had a glass of champagne so that Tina could have the experience she missed of watching me drink (Tina doesn't really drink, but if you know me at all, you know champagne is my weakness - and they had Gloria Ferrer by the glass, so I couldn't resist). I also had a great steak frites with perfect truffle fries, so that was blissful. And we had a great time chatting and catching up and filling Tina in on everything - hopefully we can go there again sometime, since it was great and relatively convenient for all parties.

Then I came home, procrastinated, did some stuff around the house, and hung out with Vidya, who came over to do Chandlord-y stuff. I plied her with salad and heard about her upcoming trip to Burma (Myanmar?), and that was all great.

But she had to go pack, and I had to go the opera house to see Anthony Bourdain speak. It was a bit of a strange experience - the bro behind me was waaaaaay too excited about Bourdain (his girlfriend kept shushing him), and a protestor got up early on and started yelling at Bourdain about puppies and animals and vegetarianism (he humored her for awhile, but then threatened to go out and shoot a puppy in the head if she didn't stop talking, and eventually security took her out). The rest of the talk was funny and uneventful - it was almost like watching a standup routine by a guy who isn't a comedian, but who still have interesting and often funny things to say.

Then I came home, did some internet stuff, and accidentally fell asleep in the middle of writing this, so I think it's time for bed. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

i will never be satisfied

I had a pretty good day, productivity-wise - I set up aggressive internet blocks last night before I went to bed, so I wasn't able to check fb or twitter or instagram or the news or any of the other million things that have been distracting me. While this didn't lead to me writing a million words, I was certainly happier and more focused this morning - so I'm going to do it again tomorrow. I also did laundry, took care of some business stuff, and did some solid editing, so that was all great.

This afternoon, I had a writing date in San Bruno - as is typical, I didn't get a lot done with them, but it's always good to see Anne, Barbara, and Veronica. Then I came home, made chicken and greek salad for dinner, and started wondering again about tomatoes/nightshades because my hands started hurting tonight for the first time in awhile. And then I procrastinated rather than working, but I think that's acceptable...

And now I'm going to go to bed early and hope that I get a lot done in the morning, since I have many other plans for the rest of the day - goodnight!

Monday, November 14, 2016

i'm a little unsteady

Long day with quite a bit of progress...I woke up at six, which is extremely unusual for me, and actually got out of bed (even more unusual), which meant that I had several extra hours at the beginning of my day. I used that time to unpack, organize, take care of some lingering things on my to-do list, and get down to inbox zero in both of my main email accounts (that never happens). I also went to the grocery store, came home, and made a perfect sandwich (it's the little things, apparently).

But then things went a little sideways into slothville, mostly because my twenty-minute nap went well over an hour, which left me groggy. But I made some coffee and then was diligent with the writing for awhile - I got notes back from my editor, and they were spot on, so I spent some quality time with the manuscript and my thoughts.

But I can tell that I'm not going to get anything else done tonight, and I'd rather sleep than try to force it - goodnight!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

and this is how it starts

I'm clearly still on east coast time, since I really wanted to go to bed two hours ago. But that made for a productive morning today - I got up, made some scrambled eggs (which was all I could scrounge together) and some iced coffee (instant, not cold brew), and then answered email for a couple of hours to get caught up on everything I missed while I was out of town. Then I showered, made some mayonnaise, and then made some tuna salad, which was the only other thing I could scrounge up (my grocery situation is dire).

I should have probably rectified the grocery situation, but instead I went to a cafe and had a writing date with myself for a couple of hours. Then I came home and talked to my parents for like 2.5 hours, while I slowly risked succumbing to starvation while waiting for my food delivery to arrive. But I eventually got fed, and I did some more work tonight, so I'm feeling organized(ish) for the week ahead.

But the week ahead requires a *ton* of writing, and also some groceries and attempts to feed myself, and also laundry and general cleanliness, so I should go to bed. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

fragile to the waves, vicissitudes of days

I'm sleepy and jetlagged, but I'm about to enjoy my own bed (after already accidentally enjoying a nap on my own couch), so this shall be v. brief. But I woke up in Salem this morning, showered, packed, checked out of the hotel, and had brunch with Barbara before saying our sad farewells. I was ready to come home, but I also don't have any idea when I'll see her again, so that made our leave-taking a little sad since we've had some great times together this month.

But all things end, even the fun things, and I'm sure I'll find some quality time with her next year. I went to the airport, had a glass of wine and ordered a salad to go, and got some iced coffee to take on the flight. Happily, my flight was only half full, and the seat between me and the person in the window seat was empty, which made for a way more comfortable five hour flight than I usually have. I had intended to spend it working, but I did v. little work (other than half an hour of journalling) - instead, I finished A PROMISE OF FIRE (which I'd started last night). I had a little trouble getting into it, and the heroine was a little too whiny about being kidnapped (doesn't she know that she's the heroine in a fantasy world and that getting kidnapped and falling in love with your captor is part of the gig?!). But by the end I was hooked, and it ended on a cliffhanger-ish, and now I am eagerly awaiting the sequel in January.

After that, I didn't really want to start working (see: having half a bottle of wine over the first half of the flight, then sharing a second bottle with the woman next to me), so I also finished reading ALLOY OF LAW, which I'd started a couple of months ago and set aside. I ended up liking it better than I thought I would, so when I got home, I started reading the sequel. But I'm too wrecked to keep reading, and I really do need to work tomorrow and try to get my life in order, so it's time for bed. Goodnight!

Friday, November 11, 2016

listen to your heart bleed

I'm flying home tomorrow, and I'm ready for some time in my own bed. However, today was a good end to the conference - I made it downstairs in time for the morning workshop, where I had a few great realizations about my current story (which I need to work on like a fucking madwoman for the next couple of weeks). Then I went across the street for lunch - it was so amazingly windy, sweeping leaves through the cobbled streets, and I didn't feel like venturing any farther than I had to for a salad and some alone time.

Then I came back for the afternoon session, although I was fairly distracted - I'm really not into Lucy's book as much as I'd like to be because my head and my heart are dreaming of other projects and other, bigger plans. So I need to get refocused on the task at hand this week. But all in all, the conference was great - I met some cool new people, and I really really enjoyed all the time I got to spend with Barbara, and I had some good story realizations even if I didn't come up with a whole plot for my 'spinster honeymoon' idea out of the ether.

I grabbed a drink with Heather before the last session, and then I sat through the last session, and then I had a drink and some nachos with Barbara and Heather before they went out for a dinner for the session leaders. While they were at dinner, I came upstairs, took a nap, and then burrowed under the covers and started to read a book - so it was almost a miracle that Barbara convinced me to go downstairs and have a drink at the final party, since I'd taken off my pants and my bra and was happily deep in the book. But I went to the party and had a final glass of wine, and then she and I came upstairs and had yet another great conversation that I think left us both with big dreams and lots of chills (I have lots of big ideas for the year ahead - now it's just about organizing and implementing them).

And now, I shall sleep, and dream of everything I want to do, and get cracking on some of it tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

the other night i dreamt a nice continental drift divide

I have to say that I adore Salem. It's a town that has made its whole economy off the fact that it killed a bunch of women in the 1600s, which is highly problematic, and the Beyonce part of my soul wants to #slayallday and leave this place. But the part of me that is more interested in history and tragedy and chaos and lovely architecture has really enjoyed the days of wandering around Salem and immersing myself in stories.

Today I was much more focused than yesterday; I slept last night, and didn't have to get up early, and so was #inittowinit. I made it to my friend Barbara's workshop at nine (real sacrifice, I know) at the House of the Seven Gables (yes, that one), and I got some really good stuff out of it - it was all about voice, and short writing prompts, and I adore that kind of stuff. She talked about how your voice is what is is, but your genre/style is like clothing that you put on top of your voice/body, and some clothes fit great and some clothes look terrible. And that, to be honest, fit in with all the signs I'm getting in my life that maybe my voice is better suited for something other than historical romance...I love it, but it's not a natural fit, and my snarkiness/cynicism/outlook on life would probably fit better with YA or contemporary fiction than it does with historical, and I need to listen to that calling....

But I'll listen to that calling tomorrow. After Barbara's class, I went to another workshop (also great), and then Barbara and I had lunch at a v. tasty diner (Ugly Mug, I think) a few blocks away, where I had salmon and perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise, and we talked about story and life, and it was all wonderfully satisfying. Then, I walked her to the cemetery and we parted ways, and I went to a coffeeshop and people-watched and wrote and daydreamed to my heart's desire.

Eventually, I came home and took a nap, and then Barbara and I had drinks in the hotel (with a truly insufferable mansplainer who tried to tell his wife that Hillary is still a sitting senator and so can still go back to the senate, and the wife clearly wasn't having it, but he was convinced, so c'est la vie). Then we went across the street and had dinner and more wine, and then we came back to the hotel, and we agreed that we are besties and are so so glad to have met each other, and we have committed that we're doing a train trip in India in 2018 (yessssss, since there are other places in India I want to go and she's someone I can always travel with).

And now I need to sleep - I have several hours of workshops tomorrow and need to metabolize a lot of wine before that can happen. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

world serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs

I'm tempted to just direct you to [censored]'s attempt at writing a blog post for me (see last night's comments) and call it a night, since he #nailedit. But I suppose I should tell you that I'm still alive, although I'm brutally tired - I was up until after one a.m. last night, and didn't sleep well (thanks to almost five glasses of wine), and I woke up at seven feeling like death (mostly due to lack of sleep, not a hangover, which I miraculously avoided as the only gift of today).

It was rather interesting experiencing the aftermath of the election with a bunch of writers - writers are strange beasts anyway, and tend to be highly emotional (or at least sensitive to drama), and often very opinionated. And it was clear that the energy throughout the hotel was awful - there were a lot of tears and red eyes, and a lot of fear.

So I tried to put it all out of my head and focus on the work of learning how to tell better stories, but the morning workshop opened with a rather long diatribe about the election, and it totally distracted me. I took a couple of great things away from that workshop, but I was really exhausted and really unable to focus, so I ended up skipping all the afternoon stuff so that I could relax in my room, then go out and seek a late lunch by myself (salad and a glass of wine at a bar where the locals were also devastated), and then wander around Salem for a little bit. Salem's a really pretty town, and I wish I had more time here - but I think I'll be ready to go home when the time comes.

Then I came back to the hotel and hung out in the bar with my new friend Heather, who is awesome. She and Barbara were signing books at seven because they're workshop presenters and all the presenters did a signing, so I picked up a couple of books and then hid in my room for another hour. But then we all had a late dinner at Bit Bar, which was charming - it had a video game theme, with lots of old gaming machines, and Barbara had tater tots shaped like Tetris pieces, and it was delightful.

But now I'm desperate for sleep and hoping that I can refocus tomorrow since there are some workshops that I really want to get something out of - goodnight!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

your trojan's in my head

So, my blog post ended abruptly last night because I was on the extreme verge of typing nonsense (which I rescued myself from, other than the fact that I tagged the post 'potatoes' for unknown, unknowable reasons). Allow me to add that after our gorgeous dinner at Sarma, Ritu and I took the best lyft ever to Trina's Starlight Lounge, where we had another drink (the pint-glass-sized bourbon cocktail that I briefly referenced in the post). Our lyft driver was named Sayed, and he had amazing long blondish hair that may have been a weave, and a white coat like he was a ski instructor. He has been in the US for four months, and he said that he originally lived in Worcester but had just moved more into Boston because Worcester is the worst - and that even the founders must have known it was the worst, because they named it Worcester (which is pronounced 'wooster', which is, admittedly, close to worst).

So he was highly entertaining, in a good way, as opposed to our earlier lyft driver, who was entertaining in a bad way (he had been a bartender and a cop and an insurance agent and a cabbie and several other jobs, and he insisted that he knew the best way to get to where we were going, but it mostly seemed to involve taking illegal turns from the wrong lane). And our night ended well, with a final drink and some more delightful conversation before we were both wiped out.

Today was great all in all, although I'm wiped out - I felt better than I deserved to feel this morning, but I woke up late and felt late all day. I slept until ten, and then I showered and packed and talked to Ritu, and we eventually left the house and had lunch at Regal Beagle. Then we ran a few errands for her trip to India before she took me to the train station, where we said quick, sad farewells (sad because I have nothing definitive on the books to see her next, as opposed to the many weekends we've spent together this year...actually, now I realize that I've spent five weekends with her this year, which is 10% of my weekends, which is really good considering we live several thousand miles apart).

My train to Salem was quick and uneventful, and I took a cab to the hotel, where I promptly descended into writerly madness. My roommate (Barbara S, who was in Tahoe for the retreat two weeks ago) checked in last night and she was here when I arrived, so we promptly started talking and catching up again. Then I threw on a dress and we went down to the opening dinner -- there aren't any other big planned meals, but there was dinner tonight, which meant I couldn't hide in my room and sleep like I wanted to.

This turned out to be a good thing - it was really fun to meet some new people, including a woman named Heather whom I hit it off with immediately. I'm excited to get out of my romance writing comfort zone and meet some new people and hear some new ideas, and this seems like a good group for that. But it's also helpful to have Barbara here, since it's always good to have one friend (and she's awesome in so many ways, so if I were to pick someone to hang out with for a week someplace, she would definitely be on the list).

But as soon as dinner was over, I left immediately and came upstairs and put on yoga pants, and Barbara and I filled out an order for room service breakfast in the morning. She's giving one of the workshops in the morning, so she'll have to get up early (and she's an early riser anyway) - so maybe I'll be forced to not be my usual slothful self, which will be good. But for that to happen effectively, I desperately need to sleep - goodnight!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

squirting for broccoli

I have discovered a new mathematical equation: (6 bourbon cocktails) = (point at which I text [censored] and tell him that I [censored]). To add a footnote, the sixth cocktail was served in a pint glass, which was really overkill.

As you may have guessed from that, Ritu and I had a great girls' night out tonight. Today was a really lowkey, lazy day - she didn't get home from her hospital shift until four a.m. (new time), and I had writing to do, so our mornings were spent somewhat separately. I tried to get up early and failed, but I rallied and put on pants and went to Peets, where I wrote for three solid hours and made some good progress. Then Ritu swung by, and we took a lyft to Barcelona (the amazing tapas restaurant, not the city that would be impossible to reach in a lyft). She and I had been there with Bill in May, and it's a great scene for brunch - my cocktail there was nice (although I was v. self-controlled and only had one), and the dishes were to die for (especially the steak and eggs and the spanish tortilla).

Then we came home, and I took a time out to send an email to my editor with the current half-finished draft of my book. Then I showered, talked to my parents, and almost got sucked in to an awful dance movie...but instead, Ritu and I rallied and went out for the night (where we treated tonight like the Saturday night we didn't have).

Our first stop was reached by taking a lyft with an incredibly weird, over-chatty driver who had apparently had every career in Boston over the past thirty years, but c'est la vie. Then we went to Drink, where we had two drinks each. Drink is a cocktail bar where they don't have a drinks menu and just ask you to give them a flavor profile to build the drink - this is a great idea in theory, but in practice I have trouble describing exactly what I like in a drink, and also they basically were just making classic/obscure cocktails and claiming they'd made them up. Or maybe they didn't claim they made them up, but that was the vibe I got.

Still, it was a great place to hang out for a couple of hours, even if my first bourbon cocktail (a 1794, apparently) was a little too bitter for my tastes, and the second (a Remember the Maine, which is great for the name alone) really didn't need absinthe. But the fries were awesome and the deviled eggs with bacon on top were the bomb dot com, so #noregrets.

Then we went to Sarma, which I'd been to with Ritu and Bill before - it's Mediterranean tapas, so I joked that we were having our eighteenth appetizer of the day there. The food was truly outstanding - the baked feta was one of the best things I've ever had, and the duck was perfectly cooked, and it was all incredible. My bourbon cocktails there were even better than the ones. So all in all, it was a great, crazy weekend and I also got a lot of work done - I'm going to call it a success. Goodnight!

the monsters turned out to be just trees

I was slightly hungover this morning, but tonight I am unusually up way too late because I was working - this is not a phrase I've ever typed while staying with Ritu, so take a screenshot because it won't last. I didn't sleep all that well last night from a combo of jetlag/alcohol/unfamiliar noises, so I laid in bed until ten, and then I got up and hung out with Ritu. We drank coffee and laughed and looked at pictures from her honeymoon (oddly, that was highly enjoyable and not at all something that I pretended to like doing), and we ate brie for breakfast, and it was all delightful.

But then we realized we should do something outside the house, so we v. quickly showered and drove out to Walden Pond. To my eyes, the fall colors were still gorgeous; to Ritu's eyes, they were boring and dead, since the leaves were much more vibrant a couple of weeks ago. But we parked and walked around part of the pond, and I really enjoyed it despite the fact that I had the wrong footwear for it. Thoreau clearly would have been an annoying hipster if he lived today, so we of course took some selfies and were generally jokey about the whole thing. But the fact that we rallied to do something outside that didn't involve alcohol is both rare and commendable for us, so I think you should all give us a round of applause.

After that, we were beyond starving, so we drove back to Brookline and had a v. late (3:45pm) lunch at Otto. They have a great gluten free pizza, which is what I got; Ritu got two premade slices and a salad because she had to eat really fast and go straight to work for her night shift. After she left, I lingered over my glass of wine, and then I walked back to her place and promptly took a nap.

That kind of derailed my intended productivity, since I was then a little too groggy/not in it to win it. But I made some coffee, messed around on the internet for too long, and then finally worked for most of the night. I was editing/cleaning up what I have, so there was no massive gain in wordcount, but what I did accomplish was good.

Now, though, I need to sleep - I want to do a bit more work in the morning before Ritu and I pursue our day of fun, and that requires a break from the screen. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

take me to church

I'm in Boston and it's almost three a.m., and I've had more than my body weight in alcohol, which should not surprise you since I'm visiting Ritu, who is perhaps the only true rival Adit has in terms of consistent ability to push my liver past its limits. [note: I don't actually hold either of them responsible; clearly the strange, wonderful alchemy of our friendships encourages us to keep going long past when we all know we should stop, because who would want such a wonderful thing to stop? it's just that in most of my relationships, the other person is smart enough to call a halt after the fifth drink rather than getting a crazy light in their eyes and going all in....]

sssanyway. Today was pretty much perfect, although I only got five and a half hours of sleep. I was so disoriented when the alarm went off at 5:30am that I bolted awake, thought 'I don't go to work anymore and no one owns me!', and almost went back to sleep before remembering that I had a plane to catch. So I hustled through the shower and out the door, and I made it to the airport in time to eat a proper breakfast and get an iced coffee before boarding, which was perfectly timed.

The flight was super uneventful (after they got the boarding door closed, which looked dicey for about five minutes), and I actually wrote 3200+ words, which is close to my record for a non-end-of-book day. Apparently knowing that there is no internet to check is good for my creativity; who knew. And that was even with some breaks to enjoy my coffee and play sudoku on my phone.

When I got to Boston, I discovered that Ritu was working later than planned. At first I bought a coffee, but then I realized that I was about to have a heart attack from so much caffeine, so I threw it away and went to a bar, where I had a glass of wine and wrote some more. I got another 800 words in and finished the scene, which was super awkward - awkward because I was writing the prologue (which I'd been putting off until today, when I have a flash of genius insight and realized that the prologue needed to be Lucy's grandfather's death, not Lucy in London or any other time), and to conjure the emotion needed for the scene I was channeling my own grandfather's death, which I have mostly ignored/not processed/refused to acknowledge for the past fourteen years. So as I was writing, I would occasionally write a line that made tears streak down my face, which looked SUPER DRAMATIC since I was sitting in an airport bar (pre-security, where not a lot of people hang out), drinking wine and looking at my laptop and silently crying. Oops.

But the scene is great, so #noregrets. Then I took a cab (after an uber fiasco) to Ritu's, where we proceeded with our glorious reunion. She's great, as always, and we're great together, and everything is great. We started with dinner at La Voile, where we split a bottle of wine (I chose it poorly, or else it was bad, but we drank it all) and had foie gras with duck and lardons (super super rich, obvi), and then I had a ribeye with french fries. I only ate eight of the ten ounces, which was probably for the best...because as soon as we were done there, we went to Eastern Standard (where we've been together before) and had second dinner.

Second dinner has become a tradition of ours, but usually second dinner happens when first dinner is ~5pm and second dinner is at midnight. Tonight, first dinner was at 8:30 and second dinner was at 11, which was waaaaaay too close together - especially since, for second dinner, we split another steak. Lolololol. But I had a cocktail named Inca Tea (or something similar), with pisco and tea and all sorts of other goodness, which was delightful. Then, I switched to the Dutch Courage, which was mostly like an old fashioned, and I loved that as well.

At some point, Ritu's friend Steph (yet another Steph from the other two friends of Ritu's whose names are Steph) joined us, so Ritu and I had to stop congratulating each other on how great we are and incorporate her into the fold. Luckily, she was wearing a great shirt covered in elephants, so she fit right in. We finished off the steak (rather abruptly), and had dessert, and I declared that we weren't ordering a third drink because otherwise we would have had ten more. But our waiter, who adored us (okay, maybe he didn't adore us, but he humored Ritu for several minutes while she tried to convince him that 'Bread and Leather' would be a great title for a romance novel - and it's such a bad title that the single guy sitting next to me interjected himself into the conversation to say it was awful), took my joke about a shot-like cocktail to heart and ran with it, so we ended up with shots for the road (so welcome, so not necessary). Steph had had a drink called 'The Long Goodbye', and I had said that it would be great if they had shots called 'The Short Goodbye' - and he came back with our bill and three shotglasses of something that they chose to call 'The Final Word'. Apparently my ability to charm waitstaff into drinks spans timezones....

Then Ritu and I came home (with a truly weird lyft driver, but c'est la vie), and I am desperate for sleep. And I'm not as drunk as I thought I was, since typing wasn't much of a challenge tonight...but I'm sure I'll rectify that on Sunday (Ritu is working tomorrow night, so the liver gets a reprieve). Goodnight!

Friday, November 04, 2016

today i regret the night i put that ring on

Getting ready for my trip took waaaay longer than I intended, and so I got basically no writing done today, which is frustrating - especially since I think I might have figured out what was blocking me (note to self: when you wax philosophical about how you're so self-sabotaging, remember that within a day or two, you'll probably realize that something was wrong with the story and not your ability to focus) (note to readers: you are probably becoming just as familiar with my writing patterns as I am at this point).

However, I'm all packed up, and my kitchen is cleaned out (I feel like I do this every week...oh, wait, I do do it every week), and I did my civic duty and took my library books back and also voted. Voting took forever, thanks to California's rather idiotic ballot initiatives - there were 40+ between state and city initiatives, some of which contradicted each other (there was one to abolish the death penalty and one to speed up the death penalty; there was one to raise the tax on cigarettes with the ostensible goal of saving lives and one to legalize marijuana without any apparent concern about smoking; there were two different ones on plastic bags; there were like a million things about housing and taxes and homelessness). So I read up on all of them and generally voted my conscience, and then I walked it over to City Hall and dropped it off in person. And now I would like to abstain from all further political discussion until 2020, tanks.

And now I really need to go to bed and try to get six hours of sleep (luxury!) before getting up and going to the airport - goodnight!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

brother what a night the people saw

I didn't watch the game, but let the record state that I'm v. happy for the Cubs - they have a farm team in Des Moines, so they were probably one of the earliest teams I ever knew anything about (even though I don't think that baseball is intrinsically interesting enough to merit playing 162+ games/year). And I hope that Chicago hasn't burned down by tomorrow morning!

I had a great day right up until the end of it, but now I'm ready for bed. The great part of the day was all the part that I didn't spend writing - I did a lot of other work tasks, did laundry, answered emails, etc., etc., all quite happily. I also got my hair cut and tried to convince my stylist to hire an escort for her birthday, which seems like a great idea, right? She was laughing hard enough that I was a little worried that she might just cut everything off by accident, but it turned out really well.

Then I came home, did some more work, and made zucchini lasagna for dinner - rather than following the recipe I have, I used the bolognese sauce that I made the other night in place of the more standard meat mix. That made making the lasagna really fast/easy - I just had to parboil the zucchini slices and mix up the egg/cottage cheese/mozzarella stuff. And the lasagna turned out sooooo well - it was perfect, and exactly what I wanted. Also, I made it in two 5x7" pyrex baking dishes, which meant I ate half of one tonight and have half leftover for tomorrow, and can freeze the other dish unbaked for a later date. #winning

But then I was going to write, and I fell down the black hole of World Series twitter and was really mad at myself for doing so. But I at least got thirty minutes of writing in at the end and am hoping to dream of the next scene tonight to make things easier - wish me luck with that.

Now, though, I'm going to sleep and remind myself that the story, on tonight's readthrough, is in better shape than I thought, and that this will all come together despite my endless bitching about it. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

i ain't sorry

You know, it's really time for me to get my shit together on this writing thing. And by that I mean that, even though it's been six years since the first time I quit my day job for this (I can't believe that, but I just realized it's true), I somehow keep sabotaging myself in the same ways. The biggest form of sabotage is that I know the following to be true: I write almost exactly a thousand words an hour during my average pace (some days are less, some days are more, but that's where I usually end up). I also know that 2000-2500 words per day feel about right because that's close to a full chapter, and usually I need to take a break and think about where the next chapter's headed before I can write it, so I can't usually keep going beyond that without needing to stop.

And yet despite knowing that my ideal output of 2500 words/day can typically be accomplished in 2-3 hours, I don't happily sit down and do 2-3 hours of work and then move on to one of the literally dozens of things that I would like to do or that would make me happy or that would contribute to other areas of my business - instead, I feel guilty that it's not eight hours of writing, and so procrastinate, and thus throw away my time.


sssanyway. I mention this because I was worried that today was headed where yesterday went (aka nowhere), since I did some stuff from 9:30 to 1:30 but mostly procrastinated and only wrote for 20mins. However, I then went to San Bruno to meet up with Barbara, Anne, and Veronica - and in the 90 minutes I spent writing today, I wrote 2600 words. Granted, it was an easy scene (finishing something with Lucy and her butler, and starting something with Max and his more mysterious sister). So really, 9:30 to 1:30 would have been better spent reading or taking a walk or cooking or sleeping or day drinking or doing anything other than reading the internet and claiming that I'd start writing in five minutes.

I write this here only because I think it's finally time for me to own the fact that the writing part of my job can typically be done in 2-3 hours per day (at least rough draft mode; final draft mode often demands longer hours, but I can edit for a lot longer than I can pull words out of nowhere). And if I own that, then I need to figure out how to maximize the business side of my time, and also make sure I'm doing things that bring me happiness rather than reading every article ever written about the royal family (not that I do that...but I totally do that).

So. That's one part of today. The other part of today is that I had dinner with the Shedletskys - I hadn't seen them since before they went to Japan, and I wanted to hear all about their trip (which sounds like it was fantastic). They're a delightful couple, as per usual, and they're worth driving to San Mateo for (granted, I was already in San Bruno, which makes it a little more palatable). Then I came home, messed around online, hated myself for that, and then cleared my inboxes (shocker!).

And now I'm going to sleep - goodnight!

say hello, wave goodbye

I had the day I probably needed to have from a life standpoint, but not the day I needed to have from a word-production standpoint. It's been so long, it seems, since I was actually home that I wanted to take care of all the things - which mostly meant cooking, with some tidying up and a lot of crossing things off lists. I slept later than planned, and then I made a frittata so that I have breakfast for the next few days (until I leave again, actually) - this frittata was chopped onion, spinach, diced ham, and cheddar, and it was quite possibly the best of all the ones I've made so far. I chopped the other half of the ham and threw it in the freezer so I can make this again when I get back, and I should do the same with the spinach (and some of the other veggies in my fridge, since I'll be gone again before I can eat everything).

Then I showered and did some work until it was time to meet up with Adit for a late lunch - I hadn't seen him since before I went to Iowa back in September, and I'm unlikely to see him again for awhile, and he's on paternity leave, so it made sense to get together. We met up at Morning Due for old times' sake, which was as delightful as always (and their greek salad with chicken is incredibly yummy). His back was hurting and I was still a little surly from hitting my introvert wall, so we were rather lowkey, but it was still great to hang out.

Then I came home (with a stop at Philz) and spent way more time than I should have making an extravagant bolognese sauce (which I made three weeks ago - it's only extravagant in the sense that it takes a lot of time, not because the ingredients are particularly crazy). I'm cutting all grains again at the moment because my hands have started hurting again, which leads me to believe that I am having some sort of inflammation issue that was temporarily helped by my whole-30-ish diet last month - so when the sauce was done, I ate a bowl of it with some cheese and nothing else, and it was incredible. However, I have grand plans to make a mini zucchini lasagna with it for Wednesday/Thursday - I think it would kick the usual lasagna up a notch, and I'm eager to test it out.

And then I mostly procrastinated the evening away, since I was luxuriating in the feel of being alone - but I finally opened the manuscript and thought about it for a little bit and made some edits, so hopefully it won't be as hard to get back into it tomorrow. But tomorrow will come all too soon, so it's time for bed - goodnight!