Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Milestones and Setback for 2013, Goals for 2014

Here's a really fun experiment. 

This was my post last year, Milestones and Setbacks for 2012, Goals for 2013 

All I can think of it wow. Wow wow. The places I am now, the places I thought I would be...looking back on the year and figuring out what you could have done better, different, and what you want to never changed. It's a strange feeling, like the room is spinning even though you're standing still. 

I thought I would make a comment on my goals for this year and see what happened. I'm not going to say failed, because that's just too negative and I put enough stress on myself as it is. 

My goals for this year, and how I stacked up:

*Finish writing Zombie Road Trip before the end of January 

I did it! By the skin of my teeth, but I finished sometime around the second week of January *is too lazy to look up the exact date*
*Edit the pants off Zombie Road Trip

This sort of happened. I edited the crap out Zombie Road Trip. And then some more. And it's still off and wrong, and I can't figure out what direction to take the book it. It's just so personal and hard to read that I wind up needing long breaks away to get the distance I need to be able to actually edit it. Which sounds like bullshit, but it's the truth I am having a hard time admitting to.
*Query Zombie Road Trip

This so did not happen, and I need another good edit before it's ready for the betas. So yeah. 
*Get website attached to blog soon

I didn't do that, but I did revamp my blog and add the pages I wanted. It's not nearly what I wanted it to be, but in the midst of moving and packing, something had to slide.
*Do more active things with blog--contests, give aways, guest posts etc

See above.
*Learn how to manage time better for everything--writing, life, friends and family

This actually happened. I manged to get into a routinue of when to do the dishes, to sweep and mop, to write and spend time with my husband. It's not perfect, and it falls apart when something happens, but it's there.
*Exercise regularly

Not quite as regular as I want, but for awhile before we moved I was doing a really good job of going out for a walk after dinner with the kid, and stretching in the morning. It's harder to do here, since we're inside an apartment complex, not a neighborhood, but there's places for it and I need to make the effort.
*Attend James Scott Bell's Next Level fiction writing seminar

Didn't happened; no money for it.
*Attend RWA that's being held in Atlanta next year (2013)

Also didn't happen.
*Attend Dragon*Con and spend lots of time with Rena

Happened and it was so much fun!
*Make more time for reading

Done! I am reading like a mofo! Go me!
*Attend cousin's wedding in hometown of upstate New York

I went with Connor and my family. It was...surreal returning to my childhood home I'd hadn't seen in over a decade. I had a lot of fun. 
*Plan meals better, and experiment more

Dinner is also happening, and I feel more in control. Not that I wasn't cooking before, but I only knew how to make a handful of meals that turned out well. Out of desperation and boredom, I'm trying recipes and making things yummy. I cooked Thanksgiving by myself this year after all!
*Maybe start a bento blog? Or post on here about bento adventures?

Not happening in the near future. Just, no.
*Finish ripping giant collection of cds into iTunes and finish music library once and for all

I also made some progress on this, hoping to not have to pack the hundreds of jewel cases I have, and made half way progress before we moved. So I compromised, and bought a giant CD holder where my CDs now live.

Okay so. That was last year.

Milestones, Events, Accomplishments:

*Moved to Puerto Rico
*Finished rewriting Zombie Road Trip 
*Kept self and family alive (this counts! Don't laugh!)
*Read a lot of books this year
*Went to several author events 
*Went to Dragon Con and it was AMAZING!
*Wrote 50K and 20K on two different manuscripts only to have my hard drive wipe and cut that in half.

Set Backs:

*Moved to Puerto Rico. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous here. But it was so not part of our five year plan. Sold my car, traded in my husband's Jeep and wound up having to get a more expensive one, sold most of our big furniture. Moved to a new country and had to start over with a lot of things we already had taken care of.
*Realized Zombie Road Trip still needs lots of edits. *weeps quietly*
*Hard drive wiped itself and took the knees out of both of my rough drafts. Much pitying and weeping and gnashing of the teeth happened.


*Self publish a novella. Details to come
*Really seriously get this closer to what I want out of website. It's coming. I've got things in the works.
*Edit! Edit! Edit! Lots of editing in my future!
*Query. I'm thinking about revising Ghosts Between Us before tackling ZRT again, so we're leaving this open ended. 
*Finish the two rough drafts I have started.

I feel like this list should be a lot longer, but I'm drawing blanks here. This is a good at-a-glance in any case. It's not like I don't have several major projects on the to-do list here.

So what are your plans? Any goals? Do you make lists like these, or do you prefer to live in bliss?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Stuff Came

Our stuff came on Saturday at ten o'clock. I am so very happy to finally have our stuff. 

Some of the boxes are nearly broken, but mostly everything is okay. And it's here, thank goodness. I've been unpacking like a fiend, put up the Christmas tree, and doing ungodly amounts of laundry.

We're all done Christmas shopping and the presents are mostly wrapped. So progress is being made.

What about you? How are your holidays shaping up?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

So Very Angry

Right now, I am so angry I could set something on fire. 

Rather than commit a felony, I'm going to blog instead.

Most of you know my husband, toddler, and I moved to Puerto Rico at the end of September, beginning of October (my husband went first, hence the range of dates). We decided that it was worth the cost of shipping some of the big stuff across the ocean to Puerto Rico rather than buy all new stuff. So we decided to ship our bed, mattress, my son's crib and dresser, the kitchen table. My son's toys. You know, the big, important stuff.

We hired a well reviewed moving company to do this, but it's been nothing but a nightmare since. 

The first came when they called to resheduled the moving date. I had very carefully planned on when we would move our stuff out, and stay with my in laws so I could get the last bit of business taken care of. The walk through for the house we rented. Shutting off utilities. Stuff like that.

The movers called the day they were supposed to come and get our stuff--ie, EVERYTHING in the house was packed--to reschedule to Monday.  

Skip ahead to six weeks later, when they said our stuff should arrive. I called and they it's still not here, check back in two weeks. 

This is the pattern of the next two months. I call every two weeks, and am told to call back in two weeks.  They blow past their eight week maximum time stated, and move into three months. 

The week before Thanksgiving, we get told our stuff is caught in customs. So we call customs, with our lot number, to find out what the hell. Customs has no idea what we're talking about--they don't deal with household goods. We raise cane, talk to two different managers who say two different things.  One office tells us the cargo isn't even in Puerto Rico. The other office says the boat is sailing and it will be there in two weeks.  He assures us it will be there in two weeks.

So we wait. I called them last week and they said someone will call us on Tuesday or Wednesday to schedule a delivery date. 

Guess what? Yesterday was Wednesday and no one called. I called them, and once again, the manager in Puerto Rico says it's not here, and the office in Florida tells us that they will call us on Friday or Monday for a delivery date. I'm currently waiting on the manager to call me back. 

And I'm livid. I am so angry I am spitting angry hornets, who are also spitting angry hornets.

And the worst part, aside from them CONSTANTLY lying to us about where our stuff is and when it will get there, is the anger. I was nice and polite and understanding and that did nothing.

Nothing. Just more lies.

I get angry and tell them this is unacceptable and I need to talk to a manager, and suddenly we're getting answers. Still the run around apparently, but they're making an effort to call us back and appease us.


I just don't get it. Why? Why is it only when I get angry and yell when things get done? I hate yelling. I know most people are just trying to do their job, and it's not their fault. But when it is their fault? When they are just lazy or incompetent, and don't give a crap about your or what you need? They won't lift a finger until you show them you're not a push-over and that only happens when you become the "angry customer". You can hear the sigh and annoyance in their voice.

How simple would it be, just to, I don't know, do their job

I had the same thing happen to me when we were renting apartments and our air conditioner broke. My son was four months old, and this was the heat of Georgia and it was 85 degrees in our apartment at night. We tried to get them to fix it, but for three weeks they did nothing. It wasn't until we were in the front office, in their face and angry, did they bother to fix it. 

I say again, WHY?

This makes no sense and just makes me angrier because I don't like being the angry customer. I hate it when I'm forced to be rude and mean to get something to happen, and then I'm the asshole. I'm the jerky, bitchy customer just ruining people's day. 

They lie and jerk me around, and I'm supposed to be okay with that. I'm supposed to be okay that they've had our stuff a whole month longer than their maximum time stated, a month and a half longer than they said it would take, and have to sleep on an air mattress with a hole it in and type on a lap top that's on it's way out, and have no TV, or DVDs, or any of my books, or my cookware, or kitchen table, or any of my son's toys, and I'm supposed to just accept it when they put me off two weeks at a time. 

I'm not supposed to get upset and angry and want to talk to people who know what the hell is going on. I'm supposed to smile while they screw me over.

Because the minute I yell? The minute I tell them I want my stuff and I want it now, and I've been more than understanding, I'm the jerk. 

And I just don't get it. I really don't. I don't like people who go right to angry in stores. You know the ones. They ring you up twice for something at the check out, and this person goes straight to screaming and yelling. You watch in horror, thinking "What a crazy person!". 

But I'm starting to think there would be a lot less crazy people in the world if people would just do their jobs. If they just did what they were supposed to, to the best of their ability, the first time. Without needing the extra incentive of Angry Customer. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back Up Your Stuff--Right Now!

Yesterday I suffered a devastating loss.

I've been using my lap top's hard drive to save my work because my desk top is on the boat with the rest of our stuff (still not here) and the casing on my external hard drive has popped open, and I was worried it would stop working. 

But when I booted up the lap top yesterday, the computer had reset itself to it's settings from almost two years ago. I knew it right away when I saw the wallpaper I was using at the time. I've run scans and rebooted it in hopes that all of my hard work would come back, but I don't think that's going to happen.

Luckily, I saved my work on my husband's computer about two weeks ago, so I'm only a little behind. And by a little, I mean I lost 20K words on both of the manuscripts I've been working on. Not to mention the notes, the brainstorming, the novels I've been critiquing. It's all gone. 

I'm getting a new external hard drive for Christmas, and I'm looking into a Carbonite subscription. If not for Christmas, then definitely after. I cannot think of how much worse I would feel if I lost EVERYTHING instead of just two weeks worth of stuff. 

There's also services like DropBox and the iCloud, depending on what you want to pay (or not) and how much space you need. I want more space because I have family photos to save in addition to writing. 

The point is, you need to save your stuff. Right now. If you're broke, sign up for DropBox and use the free space for the most important stuff. Email yourself your manuscripts. Print everything out and put them in a safe deposit box. Make sure that if God forbid, your computer gets stolen by a pack of rabid chimps, sets itself on fire, or disappears into an alternate universe, you don't lose everything.

I've lost work before. When I was in high school and we were still using floppy disks (the hard kind, not the actual floppy ones) I lost some disks of poetry and stories. It was just gone. No idea where it is. It always feels like a sucker punch to the gut, like something deep and important is gone and there's nothing you can do but mourn. 

There's a lot of so called negatives to living in the computer era we do. We're growing up with completely different experiences than our parents and parent's parents. One of the best things, though, is the ability to inexpensively store information. So take advantage of that, and make sure your work is safe.

If anyone needs me in the meantime, I'm going to be laying on the couch eating chocolate for breakfast.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Winner is...!


And you, for supporting me. With your pageviews and comments, and allowing me to quack into the void that is the Internet.

As I do every year, I'm going to keep writing until this draft is DONE. DONE DONE DONE.

I feel a little bit like a failure because I only won by the skin on my teeth. My final word count was 50,005. I know that's still winning, but my greedy brain was used to almost having an entire full length novel finished by now. Such is life and the things that happen to your word count when you move and your new apartment floods and you have to cook Thanksgiving by yourself so you spend two whole days in the kitchen. 

In other news, my husband and I lost our minds temporarily and went shopping on Black Friday. Yeah, I know. I know. It was CRAZY. We did get some awesome deals and some Christmas shopping for the kiddo done, so it was not all in vain.  Amazon has a lot of books on sale and it's really tempting just to go in an click "BUY" on all the books. Because books. I'll restrain myself, but only just barely. 

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you venture forth on Black Friday or did you stay home like a sane person?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thankgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for all my blog followers this year, for sticking through moving and babies and all kinds of life stuff. You guys are seriously awesome. *wipes a tear*

I'm going to be wrist deep in turkey for the rest of the day (don't ask), so I'll leave this post short and sweet. 

Enjoy your holidays and we'll talk next week!


*eats some pie for breakfast*

*stick hand inside turkey*

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hooray for the Internet! Also, NaNo Updates.

Gather round children, as I tell you a tale of woe.

The house we were renting blew up. Not literally, but figuratively. The hot water heater stopped working and the circuit breaker was so old the electrician couldn't find replacement fuses in the three weeks between it stopping and us moving out. The dishwasher was broken before we moved in, so hand washing dishes in cold water was fun, let me tell you.

The fridge stopped working, the electricity bill was atrocious due to the aforementioned old circuit breakers, and none of the windows sealed up (very common for old houses in Puerto Rico, I must mention) so while we ran the AC at night the cold air went out the cracks and cervices. 

It was also a much longer commute than my husband was expecting and gas is way more expensive than in the States.

We decided it was time to move and gave notice. Our stuff STILL hasn't arrived from the States, so we tried to hurry up before it arrived, so we wouldn't have to move it twice. We found a place, signed the paperwork and called the electricity and water companies to get things switched over to the new town.

This took all day of being on hold. We had to enlist the help of one of my husband's coworkers because most of the people we talked to over the phone aren't fluent in English. 

Side note: you really should be fluent in Spanish to live in Puerto Rico. A lot of people made it out like we would have no issues speaking only basic Spanish, but that is so not true. Most people speak some English. You can go out to eat, go to public buildings, go to the grocery store, and get by. But there will be a time when you need to be fluent in Spanish, like say the security guard who opens the gate to your neighborhood, or the realtor who is showing the apartment you want, and you'll be completely screwed. 

This is not to say that the entire island has to cater to English speakers. They don't. It's our job to be able to communicate in the dominate language of the country we're living in, and that language is Spanish. English is more ubiquitous than in other foreign countries, but it's still an issue. An issue I hope won’t exist too much longer, as I am studying Spanish diligently, but unfortunately the people I’ve run into need me to understand what they’re saying beyond greetings.

Anyway, back to the horror story that has been the last few weeks. We get the utilities switched over and are told it will be 3-5 business days to turn them on, and Monday was a holiday. This was a Friday. We find a cute little vacation home to stay in for a few days while we wait for them to turn the stuff on.

Tuesday night we drive to the new place to check. We open the door only to step in a two inch puddle of water. The lights are on, and so is the water. In fact, the former tenant left the beday running in the upstairs master bathroom, and it’s flooded the top floor, and flowing over the balcony to the entire downstairs. 

Two hours later, we managed to squeegee all the water from the upstairs, to the downstairs, onto our balcony where it’s draining. Thank God this was Puerto Rico, and everything is tile floors. The next few days we spend cleaning the condo from top to bottom. It’s laid out like a townhouse, with the bedrooms upstairs and the living room, kitchen, and sunroom downstairs. We also have a penthouse level on the roof. It’s more spacious than the townhouses I’ve seen in the States though, hence it being more like a condo. 

After we finished cleaning all the things, including the kitchen from top to bottom, we went shopping for food, and necessary items we had been using at the other house. We also set up to have the Internet installed on Tuesday.

On top of that, I’ve been fielding calls to the moving company, trying to figure out where the heck our stuff is. It’s been a month and a half longer than they said it would be, and they told us it was “customs” holding things up. Every time I call for an update, they say it will be another week or two. We called customs and they have no idea what the moving company is talking about,  since they don’t deal with household goods. Let’s remember, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. They have customs, but it’s not as rigorous as if we were moving to Germany. So I asked for the landing number and the cargo company they were using. I am currently waiting for them to get back to me on that.

It’s been good times, I tell you what.

Somehow, despite missing many days of writing, I’m about on track with NaNo. The good news was I managed to get really, really ahead in the first week, and that managed to make a nice buffer for me. Adding to that, when I have a writing session I can usually blow the bare minimum daily word count out of the park. 

Of course, the “this book totally sucks and I am a sucky, sucky loser” feeling hasn’t gone away. That’s a special part of the process that just keeps giving. :D
It’s a weird balance though…when real life is blowing up around me, I crave the escape that writing provides. The extra stress and anxiety makes drafting harder, but it’s also a welcome retreat. 

I’m not going to blow the NaNo word count out of the water like I have in the past, finishing with ridiculously high word counts like 70, 90, or even 150K like I did that first year, but I feel confident that I will win NaNo this year, and then keep going. This draft shouldn’t take as long to write as ZOMBIE ROAD TRIP did, mostly thanks to a) regular naptimes for the toddler, and b) said toddler sleeping through the night, so I am not in turn, exhausted every day.

There’s the updates and why this NaNo have been distinctly lacking in me frantically posting about how it’s all going sideways, and DOOM!

But don’t worry. Now that I have Internet again, I should be able to fill your days with regular updates of terror and distress. 

How’s your NaNo coming along? How’s your Turkey day plans?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Obligatory NaNo Prep Post

I feel the need to post some helpful ideas and links for the coming NaNo season, so here's a bunch of links. I'm posting some pictures of Puerto Rico in between things, just to give you something pretty to look at while you're reading. :D

I swear I didn't crib this from a travel website, I honest to goodness took this picture at the beach!

James Scott Bell has a great post about supercharging your novel with one exercise. The bonus here is it's about big picture stuff, so it's for plotters and pantsers alike. Super Charge your NaNoWriMo Novel With One Exercise

Bell also links to a fantastic article in that post, and I'm going to relink (that's a word, right? If not, IT IS NOW) it here:

Lisa Cron's wonderful article: Story First Writing Second

Chuck Wendig has a really great post on some quick tips for prepping: Welcome to NaNoWriMo Prep School, Word Nerds  

Janice Hardy has a great post on Plotting with Michael Hague's Six Stage Plot Structure.

And finally, what good NaNo Prep post would be complete without a random generator?

I enjoy this one at Forward Motion. It's interesting and plot oriented without being so vague it's useless.

So there go you, some posts to get you ready!

How is everyone's prep work coming along? Are we all set? Panicking?  

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Silly, Completely Inconsequental Contest that Changed My Life

Source: wikimedia commons

If you listen closely, you can hear the frantic typing of thousands of writers gearing up for November, when they will embark on a month long trip into Insanity, Population: You. 

Some choose to outline their novel ahead of time (ahem). Some choose to completely wing it with notes, but have their novel premise and characters completely thought out. Others have put several ideas into a hat and when the clock strikes twelve on October 31st, they will choose the novel to write.

Yes, that's right: I'm talking about National Novel Writer's Month. Or NaNo for short.

In other parts of the Internet, writers are complaining about NaNoers, not because they're opposed to arbitrary goals with no consequences, but because they feel it makes the querying climate harsh for people who know not to polish their novel for two days before deciding it's good enough and sending it to unsuspecting agents everywhere. There's some truth to that, but honestly A) December was going to be a harsh month to query anyway and, B) these same inexperienced people are also your year round competition which really aren't competition because no agent is going to say yes to someone in the slush pile who clearly hasn't edited their novel.

Whatever your personal feelings for NaNo, I will always hold it in a special place in my heart, because the year I did NaNo for the first time was the year I really got "serious" about writing.

Let me explain. I was always serious about writing. I was always writing stories, and even attempting novels in high school. I started and stopped many novels since I was fourteen or so, with the notable mention going to the novel I wrote when I was 17 that was 15oK and still nowhere close to the middle. I honestly didn't know how long a book needed to be, because I'd never researched it before. This was before being a writer was ubiquitous with being on the Internet, blogging and maybe self publishing.

I read Stephan King's On Writing, and Orson Scott Card's Character and Viewpoint. I subscribed to Writer's Digest. I still didn't seem to be able to translate the pictures in my head to the page in front of me. Then I read an article in WD about NaNo and I thought it sounded fun. I still remember sitting in my old apartment and taking the magazine over to my computer so I could properly enter the website address into Google. Lately, I had been feeling depressed. Down. Like writing was just a dream I would always have, but never achieve. For the last few years my writing had taken a back seat to going to Massage Therapy school and working long hours. I was trying to build a business from scratch with other entrepreneurs, and it was grueling, heartbreaking work.

But I'd see my copy of On Writing, and feel a pang a sorrow. I'd get my issue of Writer's Digest in the mail, and devour all the articles like they would be my salvation.

And in a way, they were. Because when I went to the NaNo forums, I found a community of writers. Just like me. Beginners, completely new to everything about writing, and people who had been writing for years. Pros. Hobbyists. Amateurs. Amateurs to amateurs like I was that first year, who didn't know what my average daily word count was, or even what conflict was to a novel.

From there I furiously Googled things like creating characters and building conflict. I found Holly Lisle's website and promptly used half the free articles there to develop the idea I had for my book. Because I signed up for that year, and even though I had absolutely NO IDEA if I could even write 50K in a month, I knew I had to try. I knew time was passing, and if I was really serious about being a writer, of being the person who had books in a store instead of just being someone who talked about it, I knew that I needed to take writing more seriously. Instead of thinking "I'll write a book and then edit it" and letting that be this vague statement, I needed to figure out how one actually goes about doing that.

I started that first novel, called Seeing Red, about a modern day take on Little Red Riding Hood, and learned through the course of the month that I could type fast. Only having a day job to worry about, and my then boyfriend/future husband, I could ignore everyone for a month to work on my novel. And you know what? I wrote 150k words that month. 

More importantly? I finished that novel, something I had never done before. I'd written novels before, novels that long even, but I had never, ever managed to type "The End" without jumping from the middle straight to the end and writing one last scene.

It was invigorating. Exhilarating. I knew this was something I wanted to do the rest of my life, and I haven't looked back since. I wrote another book in February. I tried to edit the first book I wrote. Then I tried to edit the second. I bought and read LOTS of novels about writing. James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure was one of the first, recommended by just about everyone on the Internet, and it's still one of my favorites. 

I started this blog, to talk to other writers and blog about my thoughts on writing. You'll see those early posts, where I thought I had my process all figured out. I still cringe when I read them sometimes, but there's a lot of information there, and people still say they get some use out of them, so I leave them up.

Almost seven years later, and I feel like I know less in some ways than I did then. Writing is harder with all that knowledge in my head. All the dos and don'ts and rules and opinions and trends and what to write about and what not to write about and omg you're going to die in a broken heap if you put vampires in your novel. But you know what? I've written--and completed--at least seven novels (I think it's more, but I'm too tired to count right now). I've started countless more in those seven years, and I've lost count of how many books and articles on writing I've read. All but one of my best friends I found through the Internet, through our writing.

There's a dark voice inside me, one I think we all have, that wants to point out it's been seven years and I'm not published yet. That I still have issues starting and finishing novels. That I should be further along in my writing career by now. That I should at least be moaning about all the rejections I've stacked up over the years.

But right now, reflecting back on all the good that's happened to me, it's easy to push that voice aside. Cathy Yardly, in her phenomenal book Write Every Day: How to Write Faster and Write More talks about our fears, and points out that the things you fear are parts of yourself. Crushing your self doubt, smashing your internal editor to smithereens...these are all pieces of yourself. You doubt things because you're afraid. Of failure, of success, of mediocrity. This is a part of you. You can embrace and attempt to work through it, or let it consume you. I have not found another option; if you have, please tell me.

So in the spirit of celebration of how far I've come--how far we've all come, because every person that views my blog, that writes their own blog, that toils away at their novel when the whole world sometimes feels like it's against them--I'm going to do NaNo this year with the same bright eyed innocence and steely determination as I did that first year. I don't know what project I'm going to write yet--I keep jumping from project to project as one fear or another rears it's ugly head, but come October 31st at 11:59 my butt is going to be in front of the computer and I'll be ready to start a new book. I'm going to write it until I can type "The End". And then I'm going to celebrate.

I invite you to write along with me. I plan to post this month what I'm doing to prep myself (most of it will be of the "try not to freak out" variety since that's where my issues currently are), and then during November I'll blog about my progress. You can come and leave comments or links to your own update posts and we can cheer ourselves on.

What do you plan to do this November? Write a novel? Are you already in the middle of one? How do you shut out the voices about marketing and trends? 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Puerto Rico!

We landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday. 

I can't say that I've been here long enough to really get an accurate picture of what my life is going to be like, especially since most of our worldly possessions are on a boat. It will be a couple more weeks before they arrive, but in the mean time we're making the best of the few things we have. 

I didn't think I would have as much culture shock as an "average" person, but I was wrong. I vacillate between terrified and elated. My husband and I will be out shopping for beach stuff with our son, and I'll fall back into my normal "out shopping with husband" mode, when something completely new and different strikes me, and it hits me all over again we're essentially living in a foreign country.

Because despite English being one of the two official languages of Puerto Rico, despite not needing a passport and everything being in dollars, this is still another culture. I've experienced culture shock before, in many small ways, moving from Upstate New York to Atlanta, Georgia. I thought I was ready; prepared. I was wrong.

All of the signs are in Spanish. The street signs, the Interstate exit signs, the signs at the Wal*mart. Everyone speaks mostly Spanish, although we haven't had issues checking out at stores and eating between the little Spanish I know, and the little English the person on the other side knows.

I feel bad for writing this. I feel like I'm complaining. All I thought about before we moved was what a fun adventure it was going to be. And it is. And will continue to be fun, and I'm far from miserable. I just didn't realize how emotionally draining it can be to constantly be assaulted with new things. It's not like we can hole up in our house until we feel ready to face the world either. 

The neighborhood we live in, known for it's dominance of people from the United States, is still 99% native Puerto Ricans. Despite the temperature staying around 80 degrees year round, most houses don't have central AC. The houses are older, and don't seal up properly, so if you choose to run the AC units in the wall, you're essentially cooling the outside. Not to mention electric is more expensive than in the States. There's Walgreens and CVS and Mcdonald's and Walmart, and Burger King, and even a Firehouse subs. But despite how familiar those places are, it is still very different experiencing it on the other side of the language barrier.

All in all, I've having fun. I like practicing my Spanish on unsuspecting people, and we live a block away from one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. I can eat all the mangoes I want, and outside the Walmarts, they have a Frutera place you can get fresh fruit smoothies for super cheap. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the cool food we can get here. 

I'm enjoying this part of my life, but change is always scary in a way. I think it's good for us to figure out why we feel what we do, and how to fix that. For me, I'm going to get better at Spanish and spend lots of time at the beach.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crazy Land

Now seems like a really great time to let you guys know what's going on. So here we go!

The movers are coming this Saturday to pack all our stuff on a truck, to put it on a boat, to send it to Puerto Rico. See how many prepositions I got in one sentence? That's mad skillz right there.

This boat will be crawling at a snails pace, as we're assured our stuff will be there in four to six weeks. Yeah, ouch. My husband is already in Puerto Rico; today was his first day at work. He arrived last week and managed to secure a Jeep and a house in that span of time. Yeah, we've been busy.

Meanwhile, everything in the house that isn't my computer or the toddler is packed. Although the toddler has tried to pack himself repeatedly, I told him we can't afford the postage to mail him to daddy. When I called the movers last Friday they told me they would be here between Wednesday and Friday of this week (EEEP), so I assumed worst case scenario, and packed ALL THE THINGS. Of course, now they're coming Saturday, but hey. At least we're ready.

Now, the husband has the house we're renting, and an air mattress, and some EasyMac, but since it's going to take so long for the rest of our stuff to get to Puerto Rico, Connor and I will be staying with my in-laws on this side of the ocean for a little while. We're not sure how long exactly, since a) we have more cookware in the house than previously thought and b) he  came back from being in Oklahoma for six weeks only to leave for Puerto Rico four days later, so we MISS each other (I know, ewwww mushy stuff!), but the fact remains it would be better to give our stuff a head start, so to speak. 

ALSO I have stuff to accomplish over here. Stuff like physically going to the water and power companies to close our accounts, the walk through for the house we were renting, and spending time with friends and family. I KNOW! *sniff* Don't get me started. I'm really, really excited to live in Puerto Rico, and my husband has already told me how beautiful it is, but I'm still going to miss my friends and family. I haven't made a long distance move in 15 years, so I'm a little set in my ways. 

In my free time (I know, I slay time *snickers*) I've been doing some brainstorming, but I'm flitting between three different projects. I'm done with my second draft of Zombie Road Trip, but every time I go to start another novel, I feel pressured to pick the right one (which is utter b.s.) and also the voice tells me I don't actually have time to write a novel right now. Which is closer to the truth, but I can still dream, right? Right.  

We'll see what's taken hold when I can actually sit down to write something. Considering I'll be staying with my in-laws before Connor and I fly out to Puerto Rico (and let me tell you, I am so looking forward to getting the toddler on a plane again...) I don't know what my schedule is going to be like. I'll have access to my computer, but I doubt I'll have a lot of time to myself. 

Come on Mom, what's the worst that could happen? I promise I won't scream all during take off and landing again.

I plan to NaNo this year, so there's that. I was doing the dance of joy when I realized for ONCE I wouldn't be moving during November, but my joy is somewhat quashed by the realization that our stuff will probably arrive around the end of October. *facepalm*

So that's the story, morning glories. I'll be on a plane for Puerto Rico probably around the first week of October, and after that it's time to NaNo. I'll be blogging in between, but I'm not sure what the Internet situation is going to be like at my in-laws (they have it, but I need to make sure I can mooch off their wireless).

What do you guys having going on? How's the writing? The living?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

TED talks: Elizabeth Gilbert on Creative Genius

Hi! Still alive! I've got an update post coming, but in the meantime Rena shared this wonderful talk with me, and I in turn need to share it with you lovely people.

You might have already seen it, since it's four years old, but that doesn't make it less awesome. Watch it now and feel empowered and inspired! 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Recommended Reading

By popular request (and by popular, I mean Rena asked), here is a post about all the books I've read recently, and think you should too. Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Peer pressure!

In absolutely no particular order (seriously don't read into this (ha! get it? Read into this? I cracked myself up)):

The Mindspace Investigation series by Alex Hughes. This is a light science fiction series that starts in the near future. It reminds me of X-men in all the most awesome of ways.

Wicked As They Come and Wicked As She Wants by Delilah S. Dawson. Steampunk alternate world romance with an excellent eye for worldbuilding and believable characters. Yes please!

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff. Gorgeous prose, haunting eerie story with fresh ideas. I love this book and I plan on checking out Yovanoff's other work.

Geekomany by Michael R. Underwood. Hilarious and fun urban fantasy with more geek references than you can shake a stick at.

The Deacon Chalk Series by James R. Tuck. Gritty urban fantasy with old school magic and vampires. Finally some dark urban fantasy that's actually dark.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. Brutal beautiful prose about a girl who can see how you die by touching you. 

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman. Split worlds between Earth, Faeryland, and an inbetween place where society resembles Victorian London with it's rigid caste system. There's a gargoyle with a soul, and capricious fey, and feuding families. 

Bloodshot by Cherie Priest. Vampires become awesome again as spies and victims of government experiements. 

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire. Cryptozoologists fight to study and protect creatures we don't acknowledge as real. Midnight Blue Light Special is the next in the series, and why this is on my recently read list, but if you haven't read anything, you should start with the first in the series. :D 

Also by Seanan McGuire is this bit of brilliance: a serial. It's called Indexing, about people who work for a secret government agency protecting the world from...faery tales. Every two weeks your Kindle is updated with a new installment of the story, but McGuire does a good job of wrapping up each episode so you don't feel ripped off.

These last few aren't recent, but since we're listing books I enjoyed, here you go:

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. No words can describe this book. It broke me apart inside, and then made me whole.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. Man who gets badly burned is nursed to health by a nurse who claims they were lovers in ancient Germany. Fantastic storytelling.

Shelter by Susan Palwick. Science fiction in the near future, about two women's lives clashing.

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments section. 

P.S. For some reason while gathering all these links, I had the urge to Rick-roll you guys. Put Wally Lamb's link with Chuck Wendig's for example. But I resisted, because I'd like for you to actually read some of these books if they catch your interest. You're welcome. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The House That Structure Built

Update: editing hasn't kill me. Yet. 

Neither has packing, although there was that time with the boxes of books that almost ended poorly.

Honestly, these update posts make me self conscious because I know I'm editing at the speed of a glacier. Most of my writer friends have started and finished their edits. Writers all over the blogosphere announce how happy they are to be done editing.

And still, I am revising. I'm not even done with the macro stuff yet. 

I worry there's something wrong with me. That maybe I just suck, and can't edit my way out of a paper bag, and that's just it for me. But then I kick some sense into myself, and realize it's not really me, it's the book at this point. Because sweet magnolia cupcakes, this book has a lot of things wrong with it. My rough drafts are messy to begin with, but this baby was written in ten months, starting when my son was five months old and I was carving out fifteen minutes during nap time to write a few sentences. I suppose it's no wonder there's some serious issues such as structure, tone, and voice, all the way down to the minor stuff like how I fell in love with the word "just". 

Or how I need to replot the entire thing. And kill some characters. And fix the plot holes. You know, the basics.

It's been very discouraging, because I feel like I'm taking too long. That I should be done now. It doesn't matter I only have about two hours a day, less lately since the son has decided to wake up between the hour and hour and a half mark from his nap. I've taken to staying up late a few nights to get some more time in. That lasts for a few days, and then I crash.

Lately, the moving thing, the whole let's go through our entire house worth of stuff and get rid of 50% of it so we can afford to move to Puerto Rico has cut into the writing time as well. My husband reports to work the first week of September, and now that our original plans of him staying in a friend's place for a month have changed, he has to get a place to stay a week after getting there (and staying in a hotel in the meantime). We're shipping our stuff over there a month earlier than expected.

So yeah, there's other stuff going on. But I still need to make time for writing, I still need to keep progressing even when that evil voice tells me I should just start all the way over. Again.

Because, here's the thing folks. Revision doesn't just teach you how to fix THIS book. I mean, yes, that's what you're doing when you revise. You're making the words not suck. But ideally, while you're revising, you're getting better at writing, so when the time comes to start a new rough draft, you're not making the same mistakes over and over again.

To do that, and to revise properly, you have to figure out what you did wrong the first time, and how to fix that. 

As easy as it sounds, it can be very hard. Very mentally taxing. I find drafting emotionally draining (or rejuvenating, depending on the scene in question), but revision is mentally taxing. You're picturing the book in it's entirety and thinking about what happens if you shift this scene forward. Or you're just focusing on one scene, and reading through each line for the moment where the pacing slacks off. Either way, it makes my already tired brain tired. 

So that's where I'm at, folks. I'm still editing, still toiling away. I'm making a lot of progress, don't get me wrong. I can see how each day of editing is moving me forward, and as soon as I figure out the new plot order, I can start the scene by scene stuff. But it still feels like it's taking forever and I should be done by now and I'm doomed and omg I'm just going to eat some chocolate and hide from the world. 

Then I remind myself it's taken other authors years to finish their edits, if we're going to play the compare yourself to others game, and then I don't feel so bad. 

So, sound off people. Where are you at in your writing? What do you do when it feels like it's taking too long?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Witty Title Goes Here

I have many post ideas. I was going to write a post about moving to San Juan and all the cool things I found out about Puerto Rico. I had another one about my progress on editing (slow, but steady), and still another about all the really cool books I've read lately.

In between packing, editing, shopping, cleaning, and vegging on the couch in exhaustion I've half drafted these posts in my head. Then it was time for bed, or cooking, or something else and it slipped my mind until almost a whole month passed by! Where does the time go? If you find it, let me know. I need some more.

Rest assured, those posts are coming, but in the meantime I hope you all are enjoying your summer and getting LOTS of writing done! :D

Friday, June 7, 2013

Moving to San Juan

I wanted to wait until we were sure and things settled down to post this.

We are sure, and things are as calm as they are going to be.

We're moving to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

My husband works for the government, and through a long series of things that I don't want to go into on such a public forum because of Big Brother, he's going to San Juan, Puerto Rico to finish his training.

So yeah, that happened. It's partially the reason why I've been so quiet recently. I'm trying to sort through clothes, books, and other random stuff I desperately needed to pack with us the last time we moved, but haven't used since.

I am making excellent progress, but I know it's going to come up on me suddenly. We're here until November of this year, so I'm in between having plenty of time for packing, and having no time at all.

I'll post more about the specific details later, but for now I just wanted to keep everyone in the loop.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Or rather, me?

I have been busy doing stuff. Lots of stuff. I went to Deliah Dawson's release party and then Alex Hughes's release party. I had tons of fun. It was really nice to get out and talk to other readers and writers. 

Being in front of your computer is important as a writer. It is. Most of the time it's just you and the words. But sometimes you need to get out into the world and interact with your fellow human beings. Sometimes you need to listen to music loudly and drive long distances, and bring a friend along to a party celebrating a book. What a wonderful idea for a party! I say we have parties for books more frequently than when they're just released, but that's me. 

Getting out and talking about books and movies and TV and songs and the weather and food was good for my psyche. It's me and my 15 month old most of the time, so having real conversations in the flesh with people is wonderful. I didn't have to tell anyone to not eat dirt or climb on the table, which is always a bonus.

When I wasn't at a release party eating cupcakes, I've been home, editing. I've been editing ZOMBIE ROAD TRIP for a while now, and it's taking longer than I thought. It always takes longer to go through the book for all the messed up stuff than I think it will, though, so we're right on track.

I also had a fantastic Mother's Day. I got a pedicure with my mom, and we ate Chinese food for lunch. Which is a trip to the bookstore short of perfect (don't worry, I just bought some books on Amazon to make up for it ;) ).

Life isn't going to slow down any time soon, so I'm about to go into "carve out time to blog" mode, since I'm neglecting the blog again, and time isn't going to appear any time soon. 

So what have you all been up to? Do you like the new blog design? I've been working on admin stuff for the blog in my spare time (hence no new posts) and I think you guys are going to like it. :D

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wicked As She Wants Release Party

Today is the day!

I am going to Delilah Dawson's book launch party tonight for Wicked As She Wants, and I am so pumped!

I had the pleasure of meeting Delilah at Jordon Con a few weeks ago. I've been reading her Blud series for awhile now, so meeting her in person was a real treat. 

If you haven't picked up one of her books yet, they are a brilliant blend of steampunk, romance, and alternate worlds. Once I got to the part with the bludbunnies (adorable, vicious bloodsucking rabbits) I was sold. The fact that the writing was awesome and the characters lovable was just cake. 

I'll have a longer post later about the happenings of the launch party, but in the meantime you can amuse yourselves by checking out her books. 

Try not to let the bunnies bite!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Traveling in Time (But Only 5 Days)

I just spent the last five days sick. Super sick. As chance would have it, my husband caught the same thing I had, so we laid on the couch watching my Criminal Minds DVDs while high on cold medicine.

As some of you may remember, I don't do well with medicine. I have no idea why, but basically anything stronger than Tylenol makes me loopy. The night time stuff makes me go right to sleep, and the day time stuff makes me groggy and spacey. We packed the kid off to the grandparents and laid around wishing we were dead.

Yesterday was the first day I felt like a human being, so I spent five hours straight cleaning the house. All the blankets got washed, all the surfaces disinfected, and all the floors scrubbed. I now feel confident that we will not reinfect ourselves with the plague.

It's always weird getting back to the world and social media after five days straight of not thinking about anything but how much phlegm your body is producing. I feel like a time traveler who's not very good at her job, as I've only jumped five days into the future.

I didn't mean to, but I know have distance on all the writing and personal stuff I'd been working. I think I am going to take advantage of this, and re-prioritize my projects. I'm also trying to not over do it and "catch up" on all the stuff I didn't do whilst coughing up a lung. Wish me luck!

How you do get back into the routine after spending a long time sick? Any disinfecting rituals you have that don't involve setting fire to everything and hoping for the best?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

And Then THIS Happened!

This weekend I went to JordanCon and met... *drum roll* Seanan Mcguire. 


I know. I KNOW!

The best part? She was awesome! I was so nervous meeting one of my favorite authors. I write books myself, so I know it's not magic, but still...there's something about meeting the person responsible for so many amazing books that still makes me awestruck. 

Now it's time for me to tell you a funny story, and you can all laugh at my expense.

When I walked into the room where the Urban Fantasy panel was being held, I was thinking I would stay in the room, get a good seat, and see the panelists as they were coming in. This would give me time to decide who people were. 

Because I am crap with people's faces. Especially faces that I recognize from Internet photos. So when a bubbly blonde wearing an awesome pink shirt announced she had cupcakes and did anyone want one, I was thrown off. Then as she was speaking to someone else, she said "Seanan's house is unguarded since she's not home."

So I thought, no, that's not Seanan Mcguire. Even though she REALLY looks like her, it must be her sister or something. Then half of my brain piped up, "It is so her." "No it's not. You're going to call her Seanan Mcguire and you're going to be wrong and this wonderful blonde person will be so offended, and then the REAL Seanan will show up and also be offended."

In other to settle the debate before the panel started, I did the unthinkable--I asked. To her credit, she did not laugh at me. I then proceeded to draw a blank on all the things I wanted to say. My brain kicked into high gear, and I did the psycho-fan babble. She was nice and wonderful and encouraging, and didn't back away slowly.

What I didn't say is I had the same doubts about Deliah S. Dawson, Alex Hughes, and James R. Tuck, and only when they were sitting in front of their name badges did I know I was right. 

Oh yes, did I mention? The panel was FILLED with awesome authors. The only author new to me was John Hartness, and he was wonderful. I will definitely be picking up his book.

Here they are, the bright minds of urban fantasy. There was a lot of swearing, as you would imagine.

I don't remember what question Seanan was answering, but I am pretty sure she's talking about chainsaws.

After the panel was over, I went up to swoon over Deliah Dawson, James R. Tuck, and Alex Hughes. And guys, they were so nice! Friendly, welcoming, just...really amazing people. I am still walking around on cloud nine.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Adult: My Thoughts

I've let this post compost in the Drafts section for awhile. I wanted to make sure my thoughts were well thought out, instead of just a reaction to the current articles.

As a result, these links are a few weeks old, but still relevant. You should check them out if you want to find out more about this new genre.

As I tweeted to Sara Megibow, I am honestly a little disappointed that this new genre is being touted as YA with sex. I know that's not all this genre is about; I certainly am not trying to stereotype any of the books or authors coming out. I agree that we needs more YA books that handle sex in an adult manner. We need books about teens and young adults going through their first sexual experiences. I know people think sex in books will encourage kids to have sex, but I don't agree. If they want to read books with sex in them, all they have to do is pick up a romance novel. 

It would be better in the long run if they could read about a character's first experience with sex in a variety of different forms and out comes, and make their own personal decisions from there. I firmly believe we read books for a vicarious experience. I want a book to make me think and see an old topic from a new perspective, but it's also training wheels. I know from reading tons of horror, if there's a crazed serial killer on the loose who wants to kill me dead, I will not go into the darkened basement sans flashlight.

Some of my favorite books growing up were by Judy Blume, who tackled the topic of sex with realism and depth. I watched my friends and associates struggle through their first sexual experiences, and I can't help but think a little more preparation might have been nice. I knew girls who had sex to make a guy like them, because they were curious, because they wanted to get it over with, so they could be better in bed for when their real crush asked them out. Because they thought they were in love, and because they knew they weren't but they wanted to get back at an ex-boyfriend.

I know this would have happened regardless of the amount of sex in YA, but I think if we could have experienced these things through the lens of a character, it might have helped some of us work through our issues (for the record, none of these girls were me. I was terrified of the idea of a guy seeing me naked, so I waited until I was a) older and b) knew I was really in love. There's your TMI for the day.).

So yes, I am all for sex in New Adult. But is that all there is?

What about the entire experience of remaking yourself? What about going through being a responsible adult for the first time? Your entire life up to this point centered around school. Your friends, love interests, and associates were completely dependent upon geography. These days the Internet can fill in some of these gaps, but you can't tell me having three dozen friends on the Internet who like the same things you do will make up for eating lunch at school alone. 

I had friends in high school, but as you know, I am a nerd. I played Dungeons and Dragons. I read fantasy books. I watched a ton of anime. I went to high school during a time these things were not cool. Becoming an adult...I just can't explain the amount of freedom I felt getting out into the real world and no longer being judged (as much) by my reading preferences.

The things they tell you matter in high school (getting good grades, being a jock) no longer matter. The manager at your crappy minimum wage job gives not one single shite that you were a quarterback in high school.

Even if your parents made you pay for stuff, getting an apartment for the first time will not prepare you. It will not prepare you for prioritizing your bills, and realizing after you paid rent, your car note, insurance, and the utilities, you have fifty dollars left to buy food.

If you never went grocery shopping alone, taking that fifty dollars to the store will not prepare you for how little that will actually buy. Let's not even discuss junk food.

I wish there was more emphasis on EVERYTHING there is to learn and figure out about being an adult. Not just the sex part. 

New Adult looks like a promising genre, but I wish there was more focus on other things than just the sex. Because "YA with sexy parts" does not a genre make.

What do you think?