Three Lists

Jun. 23rd, 2008 02:43 pm
rj_anderson: (Top Gear - Speed of Henry VIII)
What I Have To Do Today:
  • Catch up on my writing of Wayfarer, which is now nearly two weeks behind schedule
  • Grocery shopping (including buying food for 70 people for Saturday's church picnic)
  • Laundry (3 loads -- IN PROGRESS)
  • Strip and remake beds
  • Take toddler outside to play
  • Make spaghetti sauce for dinner
  • Take kids to music lessons
  • Pick and practice a solo for the concert on Sunday
  • Polish up my Acknowledgements and Dedications for Knife

What I Feel Like Doing Today:
  • Sleeping
  • Crying
  • Eating large quantities of chocolate

What I Have Actually Done Today:
  • Debated with [ profile] swan_tower about the Narnia books on [ profile] janni's LJ
  • Written this list
  • Picked up my copy of Elizabeth Wein's The Empty Kingdom from my local indie bookseller, finally, huzzah!!!

ETA: More things done. Slowly, slowly came the earthworm into the world, as the old Swahili proverb goes...
I am feeling rather sad and sorry for myself today. A combination of gloomy weather, a cold that won't leave, an exceptionally busy week, a toddler who has suddenly decided to stop napping, and several other biological and circumstantial factors have converged upon me in a heap of Disproportionate Gloom. And much as I love Eeyore (yes, he really is my favorite A.A. Milne character), I don't actually want to be him.

So you have anything particularly happy-making to share -- pics, videos, articles, stories, whatever -- would you mind sharing in comments?

Thank you.

*goes back to munching thistles*
This afternoon as I was preparing to settle in for a writing session, I dropped my laptop and broke the hinge on one side.

Shortly after that, the toilet overflowed and flooded the bathroom.

Meanwhile, I got fifty words written on my JJ fic and didn't like any of them. It's like somebody took the creative switch in my brain and flipped it to "OFF". And then stuck duct tape over it for good measure.


I really hope that Tuesday is better.
First, the better:

My call to Air Miles went smoothly, and although their records showed that the mistake was my fault, they waived their change fee and I only had to pay the airline change fee ($40) to get the flight moved from Monday at 4:30 to Sunday at 2:30. I'll have to miss the last couple of sessions at the SCBWI conference, but oh well.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson: no matter what you say to the travel agent, make sure you listen VERY CAREFULLY to what they repeat back to you. Or perhaps even more importantly, don't try to book something as important as an airline flight on the phone when you have three small boys rampaging around your feet.

Second, the worse:

I called the courier to give them the information they'd need to make delivery. To my considerable surprise, the lady on the phone informed me coolly that they had already made two attempts and would not be returning to my address.

"But I only received one notification of delivery," I protested. "And it says that this was their first attempt on Friday, November 30th and that they would try again on Monday."

"We've been there twice already," she repeated. "The first call was Thursday. I can put in a request to my supervisor to make another attempt, but it'll be 24-48 hours to process."

So, five days to deliver a one-day parcel. Not good.

"Or," she said, "you can pick it up from our depot at [town an hour's drive away]."

We are currently in the middle of some serious snow-and-ice weather which led to the boys' school being cancelled today. So... not so much with the picking-up-myself thing.

My only hope is that the driver is more merciful than the dispatcher, and that he will be true to his word and try again today. On the other hand, that's assuming he doesn't end wheels-up in a ditch halfway between the depot and my house (it really is nasty out there).



First, I have a cold and feel kind of achy and tired and stuffy-headed and generally crappy. But wait! That is as NOTHING compared to what I have just found out.

The flight to New York I booked through Air Miles last week, with the nice helpful lady on the phone? The return flight is booked FOR THE WRONG DAY. Instead of returning on the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 10th as I requested, she has me returning on the MONDAY afternoon, the 11th. What's really scary is that I just assumed she had it right -- I wouldn't even have noticed the mistake if I hadn't been sorting out plans to meet my roommate and decided to look at my flight schedule.


I've put in a panicked e-mail to Air Miles, and will call them tomorrow, but I am woefully non-optimistic about the whole thing, what with my tickets being non-refundable and all. In which case, what on earth am I going to do? I can't afford to stay at the same hotel another night (it's expensive enough even with a roommate). And I don't know my way around New York AT ALL.

*meebles in a panicked fashion*

Then my husband brought in some very soggy mail from our overstuffed mailbox, and in the midst of it I found a note from the courier who had visited our house on Friday, bringing with him a large parcel CONTAINING MY REVISIONS, which I have been DYING to look at, but apparently this courier either didn't ring the doorbell or decided to ring my parents' bell (which doesn't work) instead of ours, so I never heard him and he went away again.


I know, I know, I'm overreacting. At least with the package, I know they will try again tomorrow, and if I can get the notice to stick to our ice-covered front door, they will even leave the package without me signing for it. But still. Wah!

And now I will take my tired, overwrought, sickly self to bed.

ETA: I just got this response from the Air Miles folks:

"Thanks for your e-mail. A personalized reply will be on its way within 7-8 business days. Have a nice day!"

7-8 DAYS?!

Oh, I am SO calling them tomorrow.
My mother just brought me the first slice of her pre-Christmas batch of Saffron Cake, and a lovely cup of tea to go with.

I was going to be all MY SAFFRON CAKE, LET ME SHOW YOU IT, only I can't, because my digital camera seems to be broken.


*eats cake anyway*

ETA: The camera problem is Canon's fault. So now I have to ship it back to them, right before Christmas when I need it most. Gnaarrr.
For some reason, I feel completely brain-dead today. Tired, gloomy, unable to concentrate. I've done a few things, but they don't seem to add up to much. And, of course, this was going to be my Really Productive Day.

My big thrill of today will be when registration for the SCBWI Winter Conference opens at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. I'm looking forward to seeing what speakers and sessions will be offered this year (or at least, I hope they'll have that information up) and starting to think seriously about setting aside that weekend in February to go to New York. I have all these Air Miles sitting around, and I went to all the trouble of getting a passport -- might as well put them both to good use.

Meanwhile, I have a Very Thinky Post on my laptop about the age of protagonists in MG and YA literature, but it's taking me a remarkably long time to distill it into a form that makes any sense. Still, I hope to get it up within the next few days.

Wow, that was a pointless post, wasn't it?

*skulks away*
I did manage to write 2000 words, after all. I still feel like the whole book so far is made up of random jigsaw pieces, and every scene will need a great deal of revision, but at least I am still moving forward, albeit in a shuffling Igor-like fashion (neeeeeed braaaaaaaains).

I wish I felt happier about the whole thing, though. I think it's a potentially good story plot-wise, and I like the characters and feel that they are solid enough to carry the book. But I don't love what I'm writing. I don't get caught up in the mood and the atmosphere and write in a half-daze, the way I did when I was a teenager or in my early twenties. These days I feel that instead of soaring on the wings of a diaphanous muse, I am digging out every word with a shovel. It is not, as such, particularly Fun.

And yet I don't feel any happier about not writing, so onward I slog, and hope that somewhere along the way I will rediscover some pleasure in my own craft again.
Usually I write from 11:30 to 2:00 pm. or thereabouts, when my toddler is napping. Today, however, said toddler refused to nap, nohow, contrariwise. I was having trouble getting my head together anyway, thanks to it being a certain time of the month* but that really put gum in my mental works. Now I have to write at least 1,400 words tonight to make quota, but even with my detailed outline I seem to have lost my grasp on the book and no longer know what I am doing or why.


*No, not that one, the OTHER one -- my brain goes on the fritz every two weeks these days. Feh.
Since mid-January I have had two major illnesses -- one 24-hour bout that left me weak for days afterward, followed closely by the Flu O'Doom, which I am just now getting over two weeks later. I am tired of being tired, and sick of being sick, and generally ready to stop coughing now, thanks. And unsurprisingly, all this has put a crimp in my First Draft in 30 Days plans, leaving me stuck somewhere in the middle of Days 7-13 (Research).

I must confess, too, that this is one of my least favorite phases of Wiesner's outlining process. There are things in this section which bore me to fiery tears -- fact sheets ("there are twelve patrol officers in the precinct") and timelines and such. She also suggests making a list of your various characters' dialogue quirks, which is giving me flashbacks to Redwall with all the accents spelled out phonetically (noooooo), or Fflewddur Fflam saying "Great Belin!" every six paragraphs throughout the entire Chronicles of Prydain.

So I am cheating on Wiesner with Randy Ingermanson at the moment, and trying to decide which method I really want to go steady with. But since I haven't actually done anything new for about two and a half weeks, I should probably, y'know, make some forward progress first.

There is an outstanding problem with Indigo, however. It involves an Evil Conspiracy on the part of all my characters to drive me insane. Like this... )

However, my new objective is to take a page from [ profile] novel_in_90 and churn out 750 words of something every day, whether it's plot notes or character interviews or (gasp!) actual writing. So I think I'll go and do that now.
Where you're on your third day of the flu and you've got acute bronchitis and there's all this imitation-vanilla-pudding-colored goo in your lungs and you've coughed up all the stuff that was at the top of your lungs and now it's coming up from, like, the very bottom? And you have to keep swallowing or you're gonna choke, but then all the gooey stuff ends up sitting in your stomach and making you feel horribly nauseated and there's this nasty metallic taste in your mouth even though you've just eaten two pieces of toast with jam to try and get rid of it?

I hate that.


Feb. 2nd, 2007 04:03 pm
rj_anderson: (Ninth Doctor - I Grieve)
...I don't know if this particular strain has an official name, but if it does, it must be something like "Martian Death Flu". You may have had it yourself. The main symptom is that you wish you had another setting on your electric blanket, up past "HIGH", that said "ELECTROCUTION".

Another symptom is that you cease brushing your teeth, because (a) your teeth hurt, and (b) you lack the strength. Midway through the brushing process, you'd have to lie down in front of the sink to rest for a couple of hours, and rivulets of toothpaste foam would dribble sideways out of your mouth, eventually hardening into crusty little toothpaste stalagmites that would bond your head permanently to the bathroom floor, which is how the police would find you.

You know the kind of flu I'm talking about.

-- Dave Barry, "Molecular Homicide"



Feb. 1st, 2007 09:44 am
rj_anderson: (House - Full Cast - No Aphrodisiac)
I am sick. Quite, quite sick. Aches, pains, feverishness, headache, shallow cough. I am about to go back to bed.

Last night's House was lame and contrived. Alas.

Despite all the lovely prompts I've been given, I still haven't been able to get my brain to cooperate when it comes to writing new stuff, sorry. However, I found some unpublished House and Wilson banter on my HD and posted it here in response to [ profile] mistraltoes's prompt. It's something, I guess.

Now back to bed. With nothing to read. Woe!
...and I am SO DEAD. My hook is bland. The stakes aren't high enough. My sentences are all too long. There's no hint of an antagonist. Wah! *tears hair*

*takes deep breaths*

Of course, it would be sensible to ask why I am even bothering to do this, since I have two agents looking at the book already. But you see, I want to be prepared in case neither agent is interested in the project. If that should happen, I'll have exhausted all my personal contacts and referrals, and will have to start from scratch in the New Year, cold-querying agents who know nothing about me. And in that case I'll need to be ready with a well-written hook that can grab an agent's attention even before they've read a word of my actual prose.

After reading nearly 300 of the other Crapometer entries, I feel pretty certain that my hook for Knife needs work. I'm just not exactly sure where and how yet. But I guess I'm about to find out...

*meebles faintly*
Overheard from my spotty four-year-old, this morning: "I think my chicken pox needs some distracting."

This is going to be a bit of a lame LJ post, I'm afraid -- I lack the mental energy to be clever or interesting. I have sixteen books to wrap (some of which, sadly, I have not had time to pre-read), a house to clean, Christmas dinner to plan and prepare, and two itchy, fretful kids.

I made snickerdoodles yesterday, however, and they turned out to be the best batch I've ever made. [ profile] kizmet_42, I think I have to disagree with you about them being best warm from the oven; I find them a little acidic-tasting that way. Once they've cooled and had a day to mellow, however, they're sublime.

Meanwhile, back at the stove, the carrot pudding is steaming merrily. I think it will probably turn out well, too.

I am still waiting for my number to come up on Miss Snark's Crapometer, which will likely happen tomorrow. I expect to be eviscerated for vagueness, cliches, and lack of narrative voice, and probably not asked to send pages. However, on a happier note, I've received confirmations from all but one of the folks to whom I submitted Knife, so at least I know those packages arrived safely. They both said they were "looking forward" to reading the book even though it might take them a few weeks to get to it, so that was heartening.

Finally, it is a remarkably lonely lot, creatively speaking, to be an evangelical Christian with no interest in the religious publishing industry, a fantasy/SF author with conservative views, a Canadian with primarily English sensibilities trying to capture the interest of American editors and agents, and someone whose creative background and connections are mostly in fandom. I keep looking at various writing discussion boards like a kid with her nose pressed to the window, not knowing where to begin to introduce myself. I feel like I don't fit in anywhere. And even though I have all this fannish background, I am no longer active in any fandom now, so even those ties are increasingly tenuous. If it weren't for you I think I might fall off the edge of the virtual earth.

Some days I really miss the old FidoNet WRITING echo. Sigh.

ETA: What kind of title is that? I think from now on I'm going to refer to Book Seven as "Harry Potter... FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!!!"
So a couple of days ago I started giving Knife one last edit before printing it out and mailing it off, like a Responsible Author ought to do. I wrote myself a nice little checklist of Things To Watch Out For and Things To Be Done based on the comments I'd received from various beta readers, and certainly enough time had elapsed since I read the opening chapters that I ought to be able to look at them objectively (or so I told myself).

And indeed, all seemed to be going along swimmingly, with a bit of tweaking here and a name change there and some trimming of overused phrases and cliches, but nothing really devastating... until I hit Chapter Four. At which point I started tearing out my hair and wailing ZOMG I HATE MY PROSE SO MUCH AND MY CHARACTERS HAVE NO EMOTIONAL RESONANCE AND MY PACING SUCKS and spent about two hours trying without success to rewrite the entire beginning of the chapter, until I stopped and told myself that I was probably just being hormonal.

No doubt, said I to myself, this happens to every author after she has spent several months rewriting a novel; she's spent so much time looking at the nuts and bolts that the machine no longer works for her the way it would for a reader. Therefore, I ought to stop obsessively line-editing every sentence, just make the changes that I know have to be made, and get the book out the door before I am tempted to spend the rest of my life trying to get it absolutely perfectly right.

Either that, or the book really does need a lot more work, but I'm just being lazy and making excuses so I can get it out of the door.


*tears hair*


It's not finding a suitable disease that's the problem when researching for House fanfic -- there are tons of them out there. It's the differential diagnosis stuff that'll drive you nuts, because then you have to research a whole bunch of other diseases as well. And if, like me, you really don't like research to begin with and find yourself easily frustrated not knowing where to start (or stop, for that matter)... well, all there is to say is "urgh".

However, I think I managed to get through the worst of it today. I have several pages of scribbled notes (my handwriting is really unspeakable these days, it's pathetic how seldom I pick up a pen any more) and a whole bunch of ideas floating around in my brain.

And if this sounds suspiciously like I'm working on a sequel to "Galatea", then, um... you might be right about that.


Apr. 17th, 2006 04:17 pm
rj_anderson: (Harry - Slow to bleed)
I've just been through about 48 hours of not being able to post or even comment, and Blogger wouldn't let me post either, so I am feeling a wee bit vulnerable just now.

If it was a virus or a trojan as [ profile] cesario suggested, I ran several scans and never found it. But this morning it got so bad that I couldn't connect to the Internet at all, so I restarted my modem and router, and now it seems... okay.

There is, however, an odd mushroomy smell coming from somewhere. *sniffs air suspiciously*


rj_anderson: (Default)

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