Monday, December 31, 2012

Milestones and Setbacks of 2012, Goals for 2013

I'm going to go ahead and say that one of the biggest milestones of 2012 is that the Mayan Apocalypse didn't happen. As someone who has intricately thought through what it would be like in any apocalypse scenario, I can say most of us wouldn't do well. Not well at all. 

It's funny because it's true.

 Aside from that, it's been a very eventful year. Kameron Hurley has an awesome post where she talks about things she wanted to get done this year, and where she succeeded and failed.

Inspired to do the same, I present to you this post.

Milestones, Events, Accomplishments:

*Gave birth to my son
*Did not die of sleep deprivation (yet)
*Managed to not smother my husband in his sleep (placed on list at husband's request)
*Quit job to stay home with my son
*Started rewriting my book, Zombie Road Trip
*Moved into a bigger house
*Bought new computer 
*Organized most of music library and figured out how to fix the messed up songs that WMA messed up
*Went to Dragon*Con and got to spend time with Rena
*Started Pinterest boards to help mind map book ideas. You can see them here
*Made new friends via Twitter, Internet stalking, etc
*Read lots of book on the craft of writing, and regular fiction

Set Backs:

*Did not finish rewrite of Zombie Road Trip (I could have pushed through and wrote the last 15K(?) before the New Year, but I needed to stop and brainstorm the last act)
*Neglected this blog something fierce. Sitting at under 80 followers for a long time.
*Did not get website up and running 
*Certain family relationships have deteriorated with no fix for the foreseeable future
*Still beta reading too slow
*House work and other Real Life Stuff piles up to near breaking point, so I manically clean/work on things/run errands
*Barely exercising
*Not reading as much as I would like
*Still not cooking as much as I want to


*Finish writing Zombie Road Trip before the end of January
*Edit the pants off Zombie Road Trip
*Query Zombie Road Trip
*Get website attached to blog soon
*Do more active things with blog--contests, give aways, guest posts etc
*Learn how to manage time better for everything--writing, life, friends and family
*Exercise regularly
*Attend James Scott Bell's Next Level fiction writing seminar
*Attend RWA that's being held in Atlanta next year (2013)
*Attend Dragon*Con and spend lots of time with Rena
*Make more time for reading
*Attend cousin's wedding in hometown of upstate New York
*Plan meals better, and experiment more
*Maybe start a bento blog? Or post on here about bento adventures?
*Finish ripping giant collection of cds into iTunes and finish music library once and for all

That's my accomplishments and set backs for this year, and my goals for the next.

What are you guys planning for 2013? Feel free to post in the comments section what you're doing!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ten Months Ago Today I was Screaming

Ten months ago we evicted my son from my uterus with an unscheduled C-section. After being a week and a half late, we induced labor, and after almost two days of labor he came screaming into the world.

He Did. Not. Want. To. Come. Out.

He figured he had a good thing going on in there. Food was delivered via a tube, and he was warm and cozy 24/7.

Ten months later, and he's adjusted to life on the outside well. 

He took seven steps on Thanksgiving and promptly went back to crawling. He would take maybe two steps before getting down on his hands and knees. 

Until we put up the Christmas tree. It was a great motivation. He wouldn't come to Daddy. He wouldn't come to Mommy. But the coffee table ends about two feet from the Christmas tree, so he would hold his hands out Frankenstein-style and walk towards the tree.

Now he pretty much walks around every where, heaven help us. 

He's eating real people food. You go from Stage One food that's pureed single foods in small plastic containers to Stage Two food that's bigger containers and more mixtures, to Stage Three. Which has about five options (two of which involve marinara), a few chunks in the food, and is in a large jar.

You're basically thrown off a cliff after that. He has hardly any teeth, so most adult food is too tough for him. Gerber has these toddler meals, but they're expensive and designed for fork and spoon eating, so most of the meals aren't finger friendly (think mashed potatoes and beef, beef with noodles in a sauce). I've taken to just baking some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cutting that up into really small pieces, because Connor has decided he's DONE with baby food.

He loves the puffs though. Gerber makes these cereal puffs that come in a variety of flavors, and this kid is a puff-aholic. I can stuff him full of dinner, and he'll still eat the puffs I keep out on the table for him the minute his feet hit the floor. 

He has four teeth already, his two front teeth, and the two bottom. His canine has a suspicious lump under it, so I have a feeling that might be making an appearance soon. I had all my teeth by the time I was two, so he might get his teeth early too.

He's sleeping through the night, mostly. He's gone back to waking up once or twice a night the last two weeks, but before that there was a three week stretch where he slept straight through the night. The light at the end of the Sleep is for the Weak Tunnel is getting closer. I can almost feel it.  He takes a two hour nap during the day, but if he takes a nap later on in the evening he won't go to bed until ten. He goes to bed at 8:30 as it is.

I thought kids were supposed to get tired early, but not this one. He's a night owl like both his parents, so I guess he comes by it honestly. I've tried putting him to bed earlier, but he just wakes up two hours later like he's had a nap, and then he's up until ungodly hours of the night. The good news is this means he sleeps in a bit. Most kids his age are getting up around 6 or 7, but he sleeps until 8 or 9 most days.    

He says Da-da, Ma-ma, and Ba-ba and knows what they mean. He's smart. He watched me pull some puffs out of his diaper bag, and the next day he was rooting around in the diaper bag and went straight for the puffs.

In short, we're in a lot of trouble.

I hope you're all having a happy holiday! What are your plans for the holidays?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holidays, Writings, and Apocalypses

As I write this, I am holed up in a bunker hoping to escape detection from our machine overlords...

Okay, not really. I couldn't resist the urge to make a plug about the failed apocalypse. From someone who is writing about the zombie apocalypse, it would be irresponsible of me to NOT plug the apocalypse. Not that I was actually hoping the world would go down in flames. No, seriously. I know I write about apocalypses a lot but it doesn't mean I'm super crazy...

*awkward silence*


The book is coming along, but I'm slogging through. It feels like work, and that every word I type is drivel, but I am advancing ever onward to the end of the book anyway. I just hit 77K, and I should be almost done. It's hard to tell, since the beginning in no way shape or form matches the middle of the book.

When the book is a slog like this, when you're Internal Editor screams at you that the book is wrecked, you're doomed, and you should start over now, all you can do is take it word by word. Paragraph by paragraph. Scene by scene. 

I literally cannot remember how I finished the other books. I've written five full length books, and I know each time I hit this place, that everything is coming undone and it's too wrecked to continue and I should just give up. Start over.

I've listened to that voice before, for various reasons. I'm not saying NEVER listen to that voice, but there comes a time when you have to just finish the book and see what you have. You can't hit a moving a target (technically, if you're a good shot, you CAN, but for the purposes of this metaphor, you CAN'T) and you can't edit an incomplete book.

I know I've moved past this horrible, sucky feeling at least five times (more, actually, because I have more books that are technically finished, but I don't count for various reasons), but I can't remember how. It's weird. They say you forget the pain of labor, otherwise women would only ever have one kid, but that is so not true. I remember every hour of that 30+ labor, but I can't really remember moving from suck to finished. 

So I focus on my writing for today. I focus on the scene I am currently in, and what might happen directly afterwards. So far, it's working. I don't think I'll be finished writing before the New Year, which was my goal, but I am super close, so maybe in time for my birthday (January 3rd). 

In holiday news, Christmas is almost here and we're so excited. It's Connor's first Christmas, and he turns ten months old the day before Christmas. He already got to open his presents from my in laws because they've going to be out of town. He got some fun baby activity centers and a walker he's been driving around the living room for the past hour.  

My in laws got my husband and I a GRILL! I know, right??? We've wanted a grill so bad, but living in an apartment we were never allowed to have one. Something about a fire hazard or something.

I know I'll be doing a lot of grilling in the week to come, and not just my characters! Zing!
Wait, come on guys, that was funny...

So as the year comes to a close, what are your holiday plans?


Monday, December 10, 2012

Jim Butcher Interview

Holy frijoles*!

This is an awesome interview with Jim Butcher. If you're pressed for time and can't watch, allow me to leave you with some take away information:


Also, Jim had this advice to impart when asked whether or not he found the rules he made up for his fantasy world constraining (I'm paraphrasing): "No. I use them as a springboard to do something cooler."

That's awesome. I've run up against rules before and often thought I shot myself in the foot. But in reality, the rules will set you free. You make the rules, show them enforced, but then do something totally cool and unexpected!

That's all for me today. I'm off to get some writing done and watch my kid attempt to walk across the room. YES HE'S WALKING NOW HEAVEN HELP ME.
 *By the way, "frijoles" is Spanish for beans. So yes, I just said "holy beans"!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Birth of a Novel Progress

I've been making intermittent progress lately, but it's all in a good direction. Time really is a funny thing. It can slip through your fingers if you're not paying attention, but if you watch the clock too closely it seems to crawl by.

But these are not new observations.

I've passed the 60K mark, and this feels like a bigger milestone than 50K for some reason. I guess it's because I am more than half way done, and that feels better.

The best news is I've fallen in love with my book again. Books are a little like being married, especially if you're in the long haul for drafting. Writing a novel in a month or two is a little like having a short, passionate fling. When the writing goes longer than that, you have to keep falling in love with the book, over and over again, or you're doomed.

Or it feels like doom, anyway.

The important thing is I've rediscovered my passion and zeal for this book, reminded myself why I started it so long ago, and I look forward to writing. Writing isn't always about sunshine and love and passion, but it should be there often enough, or you start to question why you even bother.

So here's to falling in love, all over again. *lifts a glass of champagne* I hope you rekindle the love you have for your book soon. I hear diamonds help. ;)

What about you? How goes your novel progress?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Updates and More!

There's not a whole lot to update on you on, other than to say I am still not sleeping well, am running around like a chicken with my head cut off preparing for the T-word this Thursday (shhh, don't say it or I will break out in hives), and finishing the house.

We're basically unpacked, thanks to the help from my family, and I've basically gotten back into the swing of things, but time is still at a high premium.

I am not writing nearly as much as I want to, but I am glad I am doing NaNo all the same. I am making time and forcing myself to write words here and there, when normally I would say I didn't have enough time and move on to a chore.

The end result is I am not making as much progress as I would have wanted to before the month started (and I was still harboring delusions that I would have more time), but I am making progress. 

Progress counts. 

It's a good lesson that even when you're busy and life gets in the way, you can still make time for writing.

So how are you all doing? Have the holidays gotten you yet, or are you holed up indoors with a shotgun at the ready?

PS: I have no idea what I was thinking when I said "and More!" in the title. I have no "and More!". 

Except this picture:

Free Digital Pictures

PPS: And this Tumblr. It's hilarious.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Birth of a Novel: The Way Behind from Being Sick and Moving Edition

It's time to post about my writing progress! A day late! Did I mention I moved last week? Are you tired of hearing about that yet?

Progress: 0 words written

Okay, end of post.


Just kidding. Hahaha, aren't I funny? 

This last week has been super duper busy. I could go into the gory details, but essentially moving took a lot longer than I thought, and I am still unpacking vital rooms like the bathroom. Most of the other rooms are finished, or close enough, but between unpacking, feeling like death warmed over, and having an extremely needy baby who hasn't adjusted to his new house yet, I haven't gotten a single word written. 

I'd considered writing one word before I wrote this post, but that just felt more pathetic than no words, for some reason.

Instead of talking about my lack of progress, I am instead going to do the Next Big Thing bloghop. The lovely Rena tagged all of us in the Birth of a Novel blog chain.  So here it goes!

1. What is the working title of your book?
It was "When Zombies Attack" way back when I first had the idea, but it's currently "Zombie Road Trip". The title pretty much says it all. It's a road trip, and there's zombies. 
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I honestly dreamed it. 

I had a dream that my friends and I were at Dragon*Con when zombies started to attack. We made witty banter while fighting our way through hordes of undead. Obviously the characters aren't fill ins for my friends and I, but the opening scenes are pretty much the same.

Of course, the dream didn't hand me much else. It took a long time, and a lot of false starts, to come up with a solid plot. That's the thing about book ideas that come to you via dreams. You still have to do a lot of leg work.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Oh genre, you fickle mistress. I would say dark urban fantasy. I've struggled with genre because normally zombies land you straight into horror, but this book is not horror. However, it doesn't really resemble most of what is current in urban fantasy, but it's the closest thing.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm...for the main character Lilah I would say Anne Hathaway. She does plucky, slightly clumsy girl really well without making herself seem like a total idiot.

For the love interest Rowan, Sung Kang is a really good fit.

For the villain, Donald Trump. Yes. I said it. Bad hair piece and all. 
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a zombie outbreak starts chewing on the population, Lilah Reynolds travels to quirky road side attractions to set up anti-zombie ritual sites, but discovers along the way her best friend is in league with the evil necromancers. 

The sentence isn't polished yet, because it's changed since I've started writing, but that's the general idea. 
6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft of the first incarnation only took about a month to write. I'd had the dream, and sat down to write out the first few scenes so I wouldn't forget it. 30,000 words later I realized I had a book on my hands. I plotted it out, and wrote the rest. 
It was terrible. I revised and started rewriting it about a year ago. That draft didn't work either. Early this year I started the current version of the book. I'm about halfway through the  "first" draft, and things are moving along nicely. Finally.
7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I haven't read it yet, but I did notice that Nancy Holzner's Deadtown has zombies and undead creatures front and center. There's also a ton of zombies in other supernatural books, too many to list here. There's also a ton of general zombie apocalypse books.
The movie Zombieland is pretty close to describing the book's tone and feel, so we're going with that. 
8. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My love for apocalypse novels coupled with my interest in all things geeky.
9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let's see...the characters travel to awesome places like World's Largest Ball of Twine, there's lots of references to geeky things like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, and last but not least, House Buffaloes are mentioned. A lot.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Birth of a Novel Returns!

Okay, so anyone who follows both Charity Bradford and I already know this, but we're bringing back Birth of a Novel. For those followers who aren't familiar with the bloghop, basically we write about writing a novel in November.

I almost didn't do it this year, because I am knee deep in a rewrite (no exaggeration--I am just past 50K in a book that will probably run me 100k). The official NaNo rules state you can't confirm your victory if you're working on a book already. Which honestly, is a little silly. I feel like you should still win if you write 50,000 new words, starting a novel or in the middle of the book not with standing. But I don't make the rules.

But, as my friend Liz pointed out, I can be a NaNo rebel, and I can still post about what it's like being in the middle of a rewrite.

AND then I was supposed to post about this on Thursday, but hey, guess what? We moved Thursday, and it took a lot longer than we thought it would. Basically, I've spent every day since unpacking and taking care of the baby (who is teething something fierce, by the way, and not sleeping through the night at all). 

So it's late, but better late than never, right?

Here's the post that Charity made up. I hope you'll join!

Charity and I are bringing back the Birth of a Novel Blog Chain! I'm so excited! We both felt that a little extra motivation might do all of us good during this busy holiday season. Some of you may be starting Nano today. Others of you might be in the middle of your WIP. Wait! What about those who are revising and editing? Everyone can play! It doesn't matter what stage you are in your writing journey, we want to know how you're doing and what we can do to help you keep moving forward.  Every Thursday post a progress report, then visit the other participants and encourage them to keep working toward their goals. Everyone is welcome to grab a button and join the blog chain by signing into the linky below. So for today, just share with us what your goals are. It can be your goal for the week, month, or rest of 2012.  

The Button  

The Link List

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Kindness Project has a blog!

I've been really busy trying to get things in order for us to move. Especially now that we're moving in two weeks instead of four. But I wanted to let everyone know that the Kindness Project has it's very own blog now!

It's beautiful. Stop by if you're feeling down or just need some inspiration!

The Kindness Project

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Magic Wakes by Charity Bradford

Talia has a secret, one that will save her world and yet rip it apart. Only she can decide if the price is worth it.

Scientist Talia Zaryn has always had visions of an alien invasion and of her own death. She’s kept it a secret, hoping they are nothing more than childish nightmares. But when her face in the mirror matches that of her dreams, she fears the dreams are prophetic. Talia must prove that life exists beyond their planet, Sendek; perhaps then people will prepare to fight.

Talia's work at the Space Exploration Foundation leaves no time for personal relationships, but Major Landry Sutton isn’t looking for a friend. He is looking for a traitor. His ability to sense emotions convinces him Talia is that traitor until a touch sizzles between them. In an instant their minds are connected and they can communicate telepathically. Just as the two begin to trust each other, the invading force arrives.

Talia and Landry must uncover the secrets of Sendek’s past if they hope to defeat these terrifying creatures. And Talia is the key—if only she can learn to trust the magic coursing through her veins.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

That is the blurb for my good friend Charity's book. Gripping, isn't it? And what a gorgeous cover!

I've been friends with Charity almost as long as I've been blogging. To say I am excited her book is finally being published (WiDo Publishing) is the understatement of the year, right up there with "Chocolate is okay."

You can get this book in your hot little hands on February 19th, 2013. Charity has a beautiful website here if you want to do some poking around. When the release date gets closer we'll have some fun giveaways, but in the mean time I wanted to put this book on your radar.

I'm off to continue to stare at that pretty cover and maybe get some work done. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flash Fiction: Doppelganger

This is for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction challenge, A Second Game of Aspects

In case you're curious, I rolled three ten sided dice (3d10 for those of you who speak RPG nerd) to generate my aspects randomly. The subgenre was Cyberpunk, the Setting was Inside a Massively-Multiplayer game, and the Element to Include was Cloning. 



Is it murder or suicide to kill your doppelganger?
            I’m not normally the philosophical sort. I leave the heavy questions to the n00bs in Nixeroth tavern who gather to flame each other in between quests. But I’m in a mess for killing my doppelganger, so it’s worth consideration.
            “Do you understand?” The Night Elf chick asked me.
            I wanted to ask her if she wanted to cyber, but now wasn’t the time. She must be trying to make a name for herself, by volunteering to talk to me. I didn’t have to check her character stats to know her alignment was True Neutral. They like to fancy themselves arbitrators of justice. I called them fence-sitters.
            “What crime? My doppelganger is me, uploaded and imprinted into EverWorld of Dungeons. We’re the same person. I even chose to look the same in cyberspace as I do in the meatspace.” I flexed my muscles.
            “That’s not the point.” She frowned. Her face showed faint lines in between her eyebrows. It was amazing how far technology had come.
            “I’m the real victim here.” I looked down at my hands. Better play remorseful. “I watched myself die. I watched the light leave my own eyes. I didn’t sleep for a week.”
            Some of the lack of sleep was because my guild raided the Flame Dragon of Ooga’lith’s Lair for some epic loot, but still.
            “You still killed someone. Even if that person was yourself.”
            “So it’s suicide then. It was a cry for help. Someone should have saved me from myself.” I couldn’t help but grin at my own cleverness.
            The elf chick looked at me like she wanted to use her wand of Flame Strike to cow me into submission. “It can’t be suicide. You’re still here.”
I wondered if her meatspace counterpart was this hot. Probably not. Double D’s were pretty standard in EverWorld of Dungeons, along with super revealing armor. For women the more revealing the armor, the higher armor bonus you got. She must have a +30 to her armor class, at least.
She might not even be a she. It wouldn’t be the first time a guy went home with a Level 20 elf in a +25 flaming chainmail bikini only to find out her meatspace doppelganger was a dude. Some guy actually sued when he found out the she he cybered with was a he, but the courts threw it out. The laws haven’t quite caught up to the technology yet.
            “It’s not murder, either,” I said. “I’m not dead. Completely.”
            She sighed.
            I had her, and she knew it. It was illegal to kill someone in meatspace; it was illegal to True Death someone in cyberspace. But there weren’t any laws saying you couldn’t True Death your doppelganger in cyberspace, or kill your doppelganger in meatspace.
            “Do you know what this means?” The corners of her mouth turned down slightly. “If other people figure out how to you did it, they can True Death a doppelganger from the meatspace, or kill someone from cyberspace.”
           That really wasn’t my problem. “And? I doubt they’ll be able to kill other people. It’s doppelganger versus doppelganger that people need to be worried about.”
            I caught a look of fear before her face smoothed back into True Neutrality. I would have been scared myself. My meatspace doppelganger had been intimately connected to me. Before I offed him, we shared the same thoughts and feelings. I knew him like I knew myself--and I was an asshole.
            Maybe she had something to worry about too. Maybe the worse thing about her meatspace counterpart wasn’t that she was a he.  
It was just the two of us. People were still talking outside in the marketplace about bringing charges against me, but on who’s authority? The people in the meatspace? We’d already set precedent that meatspace laws could not be upheld in cyberspace; that would lead to chaos. And in EverWorld of Dungeons, there were no higher authorities. It was just player versus player in the purest sense.
She leaned in, her chair scratching against the wooden floor of the Harpy’s Nest tavern. I got a much better view of her cleavage. “How did you do it?”
I grinned. Ahhh, the real reason why she said she’d talk to me privately. True Neutral my dancing Dwarvish butt. “Why do you want to know?”
She looked over her shoulder, like someone I couldn’t see was watching her.
“Is your doppelganger logged in?”
“Not yet.”  She shivered. “I’ve started to move. Even when she’s not online.”
“Were you created at the start of the server?”
My theory was right. A handful of us could move around without our doppelgangers signed on. We’d all been around since the start of the server. The amount of hours spent logged on had aggregated into something resembling a soul.
Some of them had already been True Deathed by their own doppelgangers. I know my doppelganger certainly freaked out when he realized I ran the Shards of Destiny quest without his clumsy fingers tying me down. He’d considered deleting me too, but I was in a top tier guild. I was too valuable to delete.
“I think she’s going to delete me.”
“Tell me how you did it. Tell me, and I’ll make sure you don’t get into trouble.”
I wasn’t going to be in trouble anyway. I guess I’m just a sucker for a damsel in distress. “A virus. In his headset. It went straight into his brain when he was imprinting his memories for the day.”
“I know.” I stretched. “Maybe we should go back to my place. I can show you the particulars.”
I brought her back to my mansion to show her a thing or two about downloading.
I was free. No more cancer, no more dying, just me, in cyberspace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Scheduling Your Time--a Better Way of Living

I've never been very good at balancing the stuff I have to do in a reasonable fashion. 

My entire life, I've usually just gotten stuff done in a manic frenzy. House dirty? Spend the entire day cleaning. Behind on the word count? Spend the next day writing. Missing your friends? Spend an entire day out with them.

This sounds exhausting, and it can be, but once I get into the zone I want to keep going until it's done. I have a hard time just cleaning the kitchen and stopping there. Yet, afterward I'm tired, and I don't feel like cleaning for a few days until it piles up and I have to spend another day cleaning again. Ditto with exercise.

I was somewhat more disciplined with my writing. I write just about every day, because it's what I love to do. Some people like to watch TV, or play sports, or I dunno, race dolphins for fun. Writing was always the thing I did for fun. I take it seriously in the sense that I care about the quality of my words and I want to write the best book I can, but it's still fun to me.

Now that I am staying home with my son, free time has gotten weird. On one hand I am home with him, and therefore have all day to do something, in theory. But between feeding, clothing, and playing with the baby are these weird gaps of time that I've learned to use for chores and writing. 

I can't spend all day cleaning anymore, so chores must be broken down into smaller tasks. Now tasks are accomplished like I imagine a normal person does, a little bit at a time. My word count doesn't fluctuate between 2-8K anymore, but it's consistent. I can't clean several rooms in a day anymore, but I can consistently take care of each chore.

In order to keep track of not only the obvious stuff, but also long term projects I need to do, I made a list. But this isn't just a list of things to do. After reading this post on Fiction Notes, I decided to try out her method of using a low tech solution.

I got a legal pad out of my giant box of office supplies, and turned it sideways. I then divided it up into sections: Writing, House, Family/Friends, and Life. I wrote out every thing I needed or wanted to do in each area of my life.

Here, I am going to be really transparent and show you what exactly I have on my legal pad:

Write 3 blog posts for the week
Write Flash Fiction
Write daily word count

Meal plan--bento boxes 
Organize: Tupperware, linen closet, desk
Sweep and mop floors
Cook dinner
Grocery shopping

Take baby to the doctor on Thursday
Crit POC
Visit In Laws
Read "The Thirteenth Tale" for book club

Exercise 3x/week
Read for pleasure
Read non fiction

There's a lot of stuff I want to do, but never get done. I am really tired of feeling like I have all this stuff I want to do with my life, but I am always running behind. 

I want to blog more! I want to exercise more! I want to read more for pleasure, and more for learning! I want to get better at making bento boxes, so I am not in the kitchen for two hours every night when my husband works mornings, and eating cereal for dinner when my husband works nights!

In addition to making sure the daily tasks happen, I also have long term stuff. We're moving in a few months, and all of that stuff under "Organize" is tedious and time consuming, but it needs to be taken care of before we move out. Plus, if the stacks of Tupperware in the cabinet gets any worse, it's going to crush me the next time I open the door.

There's not really a big difference between columns on a legal pads and a big list of things to do, but it matters to me. For one, it's not all lumped together. For another, it's not in any order. I have my columns, and when one thing is finished, I scan the columns for what might come next.

I added a week schedule to this column idea by again, taking a piece of paper and turning it sideways. I then marked out Sunday through Saturday, each day with it's own column. I filled in stuff that had to get done on a particular day. I chose not to go the personal calender route because a) I've done that before and it's never worked, and b) with the columns I have more room. A daily calender gets big and bulky if there's writing room, or too small to be useful if there isn't.

I also added a loose order of importance so I know tasks that have to get done in a certain amount of time don't fall through the cracks. I got my highlighters out, because any time I can use office supplies is a happy time, and highlighted the stuff that was time sensitive in pink. So "baby's doctor appointment" was on Thursday's column, highlighted in pink. Daily stuff is yellow, but I don't normally bother to highlight it. Long term projects like cleaning out a closet are green.

Most of the Stuff to Do remains on it's own piece of paper, and I don't bother to transfer it to my weekly schedule. I did write my word count goals down each day, as well as put the "write blog posts for the week" in Sunday's column, but that's more about trying to figure out when the best time to do something would be, and less about a hard and fast schedule.

I know this sounds like madness, but so far it's working. I am not only scheduling time for the stuff that must get done, but stuff I want to do but haven't gotten around to yet. 

For certain areas (Writing being one of them) I plan to break it down even further. Instead of "daily word count" reminders, I plan to eventually get to the point where it reads "Write flash fiction story about time travel", "plot next three scenes on note cards", "write a blog post on scheduling your time". Being specific, especially with writing, has always helped me. 

I'm not saying I won't fall off the wagon and stop doing this a time or two, but I've been at it for about two weeks now, and this system seems to be flexible enough to allow me some wiggle room but keeps me on task. I finally feel like I am making progress, and not just treading water.

What do you think? How do you make sure to accomplish everything you need to do?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Best Commercial Ever

Okay people, so this just happened:


My life is now complete. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Novelist Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia looks like it's spelled wrong, even though Google assures me it's correct. I for one am not going to question our Google overlords, so let's just go with it.

I'm in that weird place where I swing wildly back and forth between positive affirmations for my novel, to soul sucking despair. When you're doing any sort of serious editing, there's really no in between. You either sit down happy to put words to the page, or the minute you open Scrivener, you think of a million other things that have to be done right now.

I have the attention span of a hamster at the moment, so that just makes it worse. There are so many things I mean to do and forget to until I am in the middle of something else. These things range in importance from clipping a hang nail to paying a bill, so when I remember stuff while writing, the urge to take care of this other thing gets really strong. Unlike rocking my son to sleep, I can actually get up from the computer.

If I was a normal person, I could simply write this stuff down in a list and take care of it after I am finished writing. But depending on what I remembered, it turns into an itch that won't go away until I scratch it. Like that hang nail. I wish I was kidding, but it really bothers me when there's a catch on my nail. It bothers me so much that as I am writing, this is what is going through my mind:

"I really need to show how scary this zombie is...that hang nail won't go away."

*picks at the nail. It only makes the catch deeper*

"I really have to remember to cut it the next time I get up to pee. Back to the scene. But what if I forget? I keep forgetting to cut this darn thing and it's really starting to get on my nerves."

*bites nail. It only makes the nail ragged and gross looking*

"Damn, that's not any better. Now it's really going to bother me. Maybe I should just get up and cut it. No. The last time I did that, I got distracted and mopped the kitchen floor, made a sammich, and then remembered about the writing. Then I sat down and had to pee. No, I am just going to ignore the ragged nail and keep typing. Zombies. Think about the zombies."

So I think about the zombies for a little while, but the pressure to get up and cut the nail increases until it's like a klaxon in my brain...


In the case of the hang nail, I gave in and cut it (I am sure there's a diagnosis and/or medication for people like me, but I prefer to just blame it on being really tired for about nine months now (But Liz, you say, your kid is only six months old, how can you be tired for longer than he's been alive? To which I say, thank you hypothetical person, for asking and noticing how old my kid is. Also, you don't sleep that last trimester of pregnancy. You're so big by that point that when you lay down, the baby sort of pushes up on your ribs and lungs, and mine decided that kicking was a fun way to past the time at night. So there's the other three months accounted for.)).

Now I've lost my train of thought, and I keep staring at the periods and parenthesis wondering if I have enough of them and they are properly placed. So we're moving on now.

For other stuff I just have to ignore it and keep writing. It's harder when the writing feels like crap, and it's pointless, and it's never going to get better and I am never going to amount to anything and everyone is going to be so disappointed I am going to have to physically move away even though this is the Internet and global warming is probably my fault too.

But seriously, you just have to buckle down and write. Even when you feel like it's crap, writing can be like a parachute. Writer's block? Write some words. Feel like it's all pointless? Keep writing, and eventually it will feel pointy again. Don't know what happens next? Write some words and make it up as you go along. Bored with the book in general?


You write some words, but man, add in something awesome. A nuclear-virus bomb explodes in Washington. Add a llama. Force feed a character with a nut allergy some peanut butter. Shake things up.  

Above all, when you have a million voices in your head chiming in about your novel, only listen to the nice ones.

The rest of them can take a hike.

So, what do you do to quell the voices? Besides medication, I mean. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recent Google Searches

Recent Google searches...

 *What is the maximum strength Oragel for teething?

*My 6 month old ate some paper

*Is eating roadkill sanitary? How could you make it sanitary? 

*My 6 month old is constipated 

 *What is a normal bedtime for a baby?

*Why won't my baby go to sleep?

 *How long does it take leftovers to go bad?

*How do you effectively hide a dead body?

I'll let you speculate amongst yourselves which questions were related to my personal life and which ones were for the book. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Return to Normalcy (Sort of)

Four days shy of my son turning six months old, and I finally feel like life is returning to something resembling what passes for normal in this house.

Of course, this is the new normal, the normal that includes having a baby doing barrel rolls across the living room floor.

I've gotten into a decent routine of picking up as I go along, and taking care of housework in short bursts. Writing comes in short bursts as well, but it's a little more of a stretch for me. I used to simply write for hours, and then go off and do other things. 

Now I might have fifteen minutes there, and ten minutes here. It's harder to keep track of what I was able to write, what the scene was about, and the general thread of the book. Writing's slowed down to a crawl and it feels like this book is Taking Forever to Write. The "this sucks, let's burn it and dance on the ashes" period is lasting longer as a result, and things are generally difficult. 

So, in addition to using nap times, I've decided to out source for help. My mom's going to watch the baby every Monday, and I am going to get some serious writing done. Today was the first day of this schedule, and it was glorious. I wrote for hours, got some plotting done, and had time to spare to make dinner and straighten up. 

You see, it's hard to justify spending money on a babysitter when I am staying home to be with the baby. I feel like it will be easier once I have an agent and a book contract, because I'll be bringing money into the house, but for now it just feels...weird.

It's just me; my husband and family aren't making me feel this way, but it's there just the same. My mom watching the baby seems to be the best solution, since she gets to spend time with her grandson and I get to spend time working on my book. 

This got me thinking about what people do to make their writing feel more legitimate. I think it's really important to not only tell yourself you're a writer, and act like a professional, but practice habits that reinforce that notion. At the moment my desk is in the living space, but when we move into a bigger house, I am going to have a separate room for an office. I've arranged to have the baby looked after so I have time to work. All of these things are scary in a way, but they feel necessary to ensure that I take myself seriously. 

But like anything else, this is a job, and I should act as such. It's easier, working from home, to feel like I am just playing around. There's no clear mark between when I am done working, and at home, so I have to make that mark myself. Part of that is finding a baby sitter, or once I am done with my word count for the day, walking away from the computer. 

Of course, this sense of routine is going to be short lived since we're moving in November. 


But until then!

What do you do to make your writing feel legitimate?