31 January 2011

Monday...

Thank you for all of your birthday wishes! I had the best day!

Due to a crazy week and the need to get to sleep, there's no writing related post this morning. But please come back on Wed for an announcement. I'm going overseas at the end of this month and I can't wait to tell you about it!

24 January 2011

Something New

Two weeks ago I said something was in the air. After all, it snowed on Christmas Day for the first time in my life. I moved my prologue... and thought it worked. Now I'm even considering changing the voice, despite the fact that it would take so much work. Still don't know about that one.

My birthday is Tuesday (Yay!) and ... snow is in the forecast. Not a "storm" like last week, just flurries. But it counts. For the first time in my life... maybe in the history of the state of Georgia, we might have snow both on Christmas and on Jan 25.

This morning I looked outside for those unicorns. Guess they are still on their way. For the record, I've also requested centaurs and fauns to accompany them. :0)

And for the biggest impossibility of all.

I have a close friend with incredible taste in clothing. She always looks like a runway model. Sometime this year I began to suspect that she was slowly making over my closet with a suggestion here, encouragement there. I'd buy (cheap- we shop at outlets, Marshalls, and TJmaxx) stuff completely on her "Girl, that looks great on you!" comments. I'm not as interested in fashion as I am in color/comfort. So I trust her opinion.

But I have a few things I draw the lines on.

1) Jeans. Jeans bore me. I'm convinced they all look alike (when I told my friend that, she spent half an hour trying to convince me that every jean is unique and fabulous...um, no), and their only purpose is to be there... like ponytails, cereal, and sandwiches- what you wear when there is nothing else to wear. They are like a green screen when I see them on other people. I see their shirts and shoes, and the rest fades as if it isn't there.

I wear jeans, but I only have 2 pairs, just in case one gets dirty before I'm able to do laundry. I don't see the point in needing more. I only wear jeans when it's below 50 degrees outside. And don't get me started on skinny jeans. Not going to happen. Ever.

2). Pencil skirts. I love clothing that flows. Pencil skirts just emphasize hips, and what good is there in that?

Last weekend, I went shopping with my friend. She motioned at the jeans rack and suggested I try one on. I said no, that I didn't need anymore jeans in my life. I have two pairs... and it'll be warm enough in March that I won't wear them again until November. But to appease her, I grabbed a pair without glancing at them individually, just at sizes. Went into the dressing room...

They fit perfectly. Name brand jeans so on sale that even I can afford them, (NOT skinny jeans... seriously, never). First and only pair I tried on.

Impossible.

I walked out of the store bored, because even though it was a great find, they were still jeans. Not exciting. But my friends were excited for me. And even I know the odds of the first pair of jeans you try on looking great on you.

Last night, at another discount store, I found a pencil skirt for $10 that was remotely comfortable and not a giant hip billboard.

Three weeks into the new year, and it's like my mind has been repeatedly blown. I have a third pair of jeans. And a pencil skirt. Everything I knew to be true has turned upside down and laughed at me. Maybe this is my year after all. Hmm.

That being said, now I'm going to go scrutinize my story, to see if it's better in 1st person (current condition) or 3rd person. Oh, I hope it's 1st. Please, Lord. Wish me luck!



*As of Sunday night, Jan 23, snow has been removed from the forecast for this week. Whew! That was definitely too much for me to handle!

17 January 2011

What Cabin Fever Taught Me

We survived the Snowpacolypse 2011. Barely.

Sunday dawned late. By the time the sky was alight, I'd already risen at 3am, driven to the Atlanta airport, and returned to catch a short nap at 7am. The rest of the day was a tired blur as we were out and about running errands. Rumor was that grocery store shelves were bare. Turns out everyone else from Ga thought it would be worse than Y2K. Our goal was to be back at my friends' house by 7pm, but we were late by 20 minutes. I threatened to "sue" since it hadn't started snowing yet and the weather alert had already began.

The plan was for me and 2 other friends, a couple named Seth and Ashley, along with their dog, to spend the night at our friends' house. In all, there were 5 of us and 2 shih tzus.

Being oblivious to the "dangers" of snow, I didn't think to pack for more than 2 days, and even that felt like overkill. My other four friends, who were all from tundric lands like Michigan and Minnesota, scoffed at Southerners' panic. They bought frozen pizza. At 9pm, right around the time the snow started, we realized that if the power went out, we were screwed because we didn't have any bread. Or food that didn't have to cooked in some way. We didn't have batteries... firewood... a fireplace... or anything we'd need if we the power went out. But that's just fearing the worst, right? And if we lucked out and got a snow day at all, we'd be able to leave the next night. No worries. Just in case, we precooked some food for the next day.

The snow continued all night. By the next morning, we had 4-5 inches. Yes, that's just a dusting... but without snow plows, salt trucks, and on steep, windy, back country roads... we were stuck.


*neither of those people are me*.







By that night, we started making bets on who would lose their minds first. We tried sledding down the street in front of the house, but that turned into snowboarding/surfing on the ice.

By day number two, my friends pushed a truck out of the ice. We also decided baking pastries every day was a great idea. I started rationing the Coca-Cola I'd brought. We watched "Dinner for Schmucks" and I laughed more than I thought I would. Which was a good thing, because that day the snow mixed with sleet from the day/night before and became ice.

By day number three, the Coca-Cola, milk, baking ingredients, and meals were gone. We were getting more and more creative with what was in the cupboards. The sun came out in the afternoon.

On day number four, the "guest dog" broke first, whining at the door wanting to leave. The sun had melted enough snow that we decided venturing out might be okay. It turned out that the main roads were fine... but ours still had serious ice. We were able to get food at the grocery store and soothe our cabin fever. The two friends left with their dog; I still didn't want to drive on the back country road.

I'm writing this on Thursday night, still from my friends' house. Tomorrow is day number five, and it looks like we'll be able to get to the office tomorrow. It's my first day of work at the office, although I've been working all week off site.

I've decided that the South is the best place to be when it snows. Not just because it won't last forever (because we only get a few inches), but because when we get it, we're more able to stop and enjoy it. I mean, our whole world just shut down for four days. As much as people in other parts of the country scoff at how feeble we are in winter weather- I just had four days to enjoy life, my friends, and work from the table of a breakfast nook overlooking wintery, mountain woods.

Sometimes being weak is a beautiful, refreshing thing.

Btw, for right now, I'm keeping my "prologue" inside my story. Every day it seems to fit more and more.

Here are more pictures from our "snow week". The brown shih tzu is Brodie, the gray one is Roi. The final picture just makes me laugh because Roi looks so crazy in it!



10 January 2011

BIG Events On the Horizon?

On Dec 25, 2010, I saw snow on Christmas day for the first time in my life. It was so weird to see what's described in all those Christmas stories and carols. I always wondered what Christmas lights looked like reflected on snow... and now I know!

And now the Snowpacolyspe is coming. Da, da, duuuummm. Snow is in forecast for Monday, which means everyone in the South is freaking out. We don't know how to drive in snow and ice. We don't have snow tires or chains on our tires. Most people don't have four wheel drive. We don't have salt trucks or snow plows, and I live in an area that is very hilly (the hem of the Appalachian Mountains), with a lot of twists and turns. It occurred to me this morning that it could snow on my birthday this year, which is at the end of the month. If this happens, coupled with the miraculous events of Christmas day 2010, it will be the equivalent of something as improbable as... oh... unicorns eating clover in my backyard - underneath all the snow.

Birds are falling out of the sky, bees are disappearing, and then there are all those dead fish that made the news last week. Something strange is in the air.

Finally, this week I read my story, edited it, and pored over the judges' comments again, trying to see what I could salvage and what to stand my ground on. Something weird happened just a few minutes ago.

I moved my prologue.

Right now I have no clue if it works. It's just as strange seeing it inside my story as seeing snow on Christmas day. Not normal. Out of body. Does it really fit there? I have no clue.

So why did I move it?

Well, I've heard that no matter how strongly you feel about a piece of writing, sometimes it needs to be moved... or removed. Which will not happen, because it's perhaps the best written portion of my novel and it has a purpose. BUT-

My prologue was six pages. And while it ended in action, the first five pages were description, back story, and setting. My favorite part, honestly, because it flows so well. For a long time, I've felt it was necessary to be there to set the scene. But if it works where it's currently placed, then my novel will open with an argument, complete with all the conflict/angst-driven sparks.

I don't know if I like it yet. I'm not sure if I feel as if I've sold out by suturing my prologue somewhere else. Right now I feel as if... well, as if it snowed on Christmas day. Unsure of what to do next. Praise God for good friends with writing talent, who can tell me what they think.

I think the story is good with the prologue. I think the story is good with the "prologue portion" later in the story. The question is, which is best? That's what I'm trying to figure out right now.

Hopefully tomorrow the sun will still rise in the East. And everyone in the South won't die come Monday. :0)


*Btw, this was written on Saturday. *

03 January 2011

Hope

Hey, Everyone!

I'm sitting here wracking my brain for something to say. After all, with two weeks off of blogging, shouldn't I have plenty subject material? But the truth is that other than the traditional Christmas stuff (which, by the way, was awesome), I basically just took a ten day nap, using up the vacation time I had left so I wouldn't just lose it when the new year rolled around. I spent a week sleeping in and reading on the couch with my poodle in my lap- one of those phases where you read like a starving man at a holiday feast. I couldn't stop.

Last Friday, I caught Oprah's interview with J.K. Rowling. It was a rerun, but I missed it the first time around, so that made me really happy. It surprised me just how inspired I was just watching the interview. I'm not one of those crazed fans that stalk famous authors- and never will be- but I love it when I find a rare insight into their lives. I read Harry Potter once a year and each time am struck by Rowling's skill and ability to create Story.

The interview was so inspirational, in fact, that I spent New Year's Eve night rewriting the first 2.5 chapters of my new ms. Honestly, I wouldn't have known midnight came and went if it weren't for the fireworks a neighbor decided to set off beside my window. New Year's has never been a big thing for me. Sometimes I do stuff, sometimes I don't. This time it was just me and a few characters. Now it's caught up and I can move on!

I've also decided that it's time to re-submit my novel, the one I spent a year editing after a rousing round of rejections in 2009 and then submitted to a contest, only to receive 3 uber-confusing reviews. Now to edit one more time, research the submission process once again, write those query letters, and pray for. . .something wonderful.

Why is it so hard to hope?

Sometimes it feels easier just to bury the dreams in the basement. My mother has an ancient (okay, not that old) wooden chest in ours. There's nothing in it, but as a kid I used to imagine buried treasure inside. But I never opened it by myself because the lid was heavy and I had visions of it somehow swallowing me and closing on top of me, never to be seen again. Have any of y'all ever heard the old cassette tape story of The Case of the Secret Room from Adventures in Odessey? If you have, you know what I envisioned, except not in a secret room. Anywho, now the old chest sits empty, with boxes on top of it and luggage beside it. That's where I'd bury my dreams if I could do so and still be able to breathe in the land above. Only that's not possible. And after so long waiting, trying to gather courage and wisdom to do this again well, I think it's time.

Time to hope again. A new season. A new year. In so many ways.

Hmm... this post is very pensive. Guess I did have something to say after all. Thanks for reading, Friends! See y'all next Monday!