Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DVDs, 2008

I love Netflix. I believe I've mentioned that a time or two. I love that I can get TV shows on channels I don't get without commercials. It's fabulous. I love getting the movies, too, but as you'll see, movies weren't so high on the list this year.

Here's the stats for the DVDs we've rented this year:

Total rented: 147
Rentals by percentages:
-Television shows: 58%
-Movies: 35%
-Comedy: 5%
-Educational: 2%
Individual TV shows: 13
Cody's favorite TV show: Wonderfalls (Technically, we borrowed this from a friend, but I'll still count it under the "rentals.")
My favorite TV show: Coupling (a British comedy that ran for four season, all of which we watched within a month, I think. Of course, I had a really hard time selecting this show above, say, Battlestar Galactica or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I just got into this year. There was also Dr. Who and Torchwood contending for the favorite slot, along with Psych and Lost. Still, Coupling had the most draw for being the shortest show.)
Cody's favorite movie: Tango and Cash
My favorite movie: LA Story (As you can see, we didn't go with any new movies. Looking back through the list, there's not a single movie I would rewatch from what we rented. Most were good on the first watch, but not worth a second. The few that we saw this year that might be worth a repeat viewing we saw in the theaters, so they didn't make this list. Oddly, I didn't keep track of movies we saw in the theater...maybe I should. Which reminds me: We saw Iron Man in the theater and then again on video at a friends house--again not a rental so didn't make the list--and that was worth the second viewing.)
Educational fact: We only watched 3 education DVDs this year: An Inconvenient Truth (it took me a while to be ready to see that one), Ancient Mysteries: Canals of Venice (oddly fascinating), and National Geographic: Inside Special Forces (which was nothing like I'd thought it'd be, but was interesting nevertheless. I got to see the inside of one of Hussein's palaces, which he built atop a mountain of dirt he had carted in so his palace would be the tallest in the land--crazy!). In 2007, we watched 4 educational films, and in 2006, we watched 13! The numbers are declining rapidly. I'm hoping that the number of nonfiction books I've been reading mildly redeems me. Or maybe I should simply think of it as I'm embracing creativity in all types of fiction better and better each year and not being bogged down by so many facts.
TV shows watched but not rented (me only): Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, New Adventures of Old Christine, and ANTM (I thought I was done with ANTM--America's Next Top Model for those of you not addicted--but it sucked me back in for the fall cycle, so I don't think I've weened myself yet. I need an ANTM patch. And that stupid Stylista show they advertised after it was not going to do it for me!)

Tomorrow (and Final Year-end Tally): Firsts, 2008!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reading, 2008

As everyone knows, I love to read. I had the brilliant idea last year of keeping track of everything I read in 2007 to see if I read as many books as I thought I did. Plus, there's something supremely gratifying about finishing a book and getting to add it to my spreadsheet. Last year I read 52. A book for every week is pretty good.

Here are this year's reading figures:

Books read: 49
Percentages by genre:
-Paranormal Romance: 29%
-Romance: 24%
-Fantasy: 20%
-Nonfiction: 16%
-Fiction: 4%
-Young Adult and Other: 6%
New authors read: 22!
Most read in a month: 6 (in April, October, and November)
Most read by a single author: 7 (Cody gifted me with a Katie MacAlister novel in February for Valentine's Day and I promptly bought my favorite used bookstore's entire stock of her novels.)
Multiple books read by the same author: 4 (Katie MacAlister, Jacqueline Carey, Jayne Ann Krentz, and P.C. Cast--all of which I recommend)
Repeat authors from 2007: 10 (Carrie Vaughn, Charlaine Harris, Christine Feehan, Janet Evanovich, Karen Marie Moning, Laurell K. Hamilton, Lora Leigh, P.C. Cast, Rebecca Chastain--yes, I count when I've read through my own books; I was hoping to add Madison 2 to the read in 2008 list, but it'll have to be on the 2009 list--and Vicki Thompson)
Recommended new authors: Colby Hodge and Anjali Banerjee (I thought I'd have more new authors to recommend, but aside from Katie MacAlister who was a new author this year for me, these are the only two new authors who I believe will be repeat authors. However, I highly recommend all the repeat authors from 2007.)

Tomorrow: DVDs of 2008!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Events, 2008

There are a plethora of events to be celebrated every year, some traditional, some not so much. Like I want to start a National Nondominant Hand Day on which people would use their nondominant hand to do everything realistic (nothing dangerous--using a knife--and nothing particularly pointless--writing or mousing with the opposite hand all day). Good examples include: brushing teeth, eating, unlocking doors, etc. I think that it would be 1) amusing, and 2) help bring people's awareness to the moment. I'm thinking this holiday should happen early in January. What do you think?

Anyway, back to the events of 2008:

Weddings: 2 (Same as the last two years. I think I'm running out of single friends.)
Baby showers: 1 (I expect this number to increase soon.)
Birthday parties: 11!
Parties: 4 (One of which was my last-day-at-my-much-hated-work party. Hooray!)
Babysitting: 4 (This includes kids and cats. Most of these were overnighters.)
Art shows: 1 (For Suzanne Goodwin. I love her work!)
Wine tastings: 3
Vacations: 1 (To Oklahoma for my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary.)


New computers: 2 (One for me, one for Cody.)
New monitor: 1 (Just for me.)

Tomorrow: Books read and authors to recommend!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Writing, 2008

The year-end quantitative look back at 2008 has begun! We're kicking it off with all things writing related (in honor of the spirit of the blog), but first a little back story.

I've long loved the recap Christmas letters, most likely because my mom used to send them out when I was little. She would write down a little "here's what happened in the Chastain family" paragraph at the end of each month, and by the end of the year, she'd have a one- to two-page letter to send out with the holiday cards. At least I think that's how she did it. I tried it one year, and realized that I'm far too long-winded for a summary of each month. Hence, the quantitative letter was born. I think that a lot can be gleaned about a person's life and previous year by a few statistical facts. It helps immensely that I like to keep track of things (I have a spreadsheet for all the books I've read, another, compiled at the end of the year, of all the DVDs I've get the picture).

Here is everything about my writing in 2008:

Novels written: 1 (almost--check the tracker at the top of the page; I'm this close to finishing it)
Pages written: 302 and counting (see the tracker for the number of words; in 2007, I only wrote 277 pages, and that included part of a previous book; in 2006, I wrote 356 pages--yeah, that first book is really long)
Most pages written in a day: 15
Most consecutive days of writing: 12 (I wasn't as good this year as last year, when I think I only took one day off in November. Of course, I also finished last year's book in November and it was only 72,000 words or so...)
Times I've whined to Cody that this year's book will never end/need so many rewrites/is sucking away time from Book 1, which needs to be sold: Countless
Times I've gloated to Cody that this year's book will be my best book yet/has the best ending/has the best characters: Nearly as many
Query letters drafted: 5
Synopses drafted: 8
Titles debated (for Madison 1): 3 (The titled selected: Basic Trouble)
Hours I've worked on Basic Trouble: 85 (Time includes all rewrites, queries, synopses, and agent research. I started keeping track in July to make myself feel better about the paltry amount of time I've been able to put toward finalizing this book, but I don't know that I'd say this number could be doubled to get an estimate for the year. It really doesn't look like much here, but on top of work, sometimes the extra 5-7 hours a week was a lot. Seriously, though, I see a new goal for 2009.)
Author signings attended: 1 (by accident, but I bought his book anyway)
Published authors who've commented on my blog: 2
Published authors who've sent my blog post to their editor: 1 (thank you!)
RWA chapter meetings attended: 1 (it was so inspirational to be surrounded by fellow authors in every stage of the process!)

Tomorrow: Entertainment of 2008!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Hiatus

I'm back, a day later than I expected. I spent a good deal of yesterday feeling very sorry for myself--the excesses of the holidays caught up with me, laying me low for the day. I even missed a holiday party! Bummer! However, today I was able to get out of the house long enough to swing by Borders. The whole world is a better place when I have books.

I picked up Kim Harrison's latest (in paperback), Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (a new author for me, so I'll let you know what I think when I read it), and Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose (another new author for me). I picked up Prose's book partially because it was on super-duper sale, but mostly because its enormously long subtitle made the book sound like it was written just for me. (I've just looked at Prose's picture on the back of the book. She looks like she's auditioning for a depression ad. You can bet your (fill in the blank) that I'll be smiling, if not grinning, in my author photo! Her picture on the link attached to her name above is a little better.) I'll let you know how this book turns out, too.

The last five posts of the year will be the promised year-end tallies. Tomorrow: writing-specific tallies. Like I said, I'm rather excited about these. I hope they give you a little insight into my life that you might otherwise not receive from these posts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I'm taking the holiday off, but never fear: I'll be back on Friday with brand-new posts, including year-end tallies, which I'm very excited about.

I hope you get everything you want for Christmas or Hanukkah, and have a happy Kwanzaa!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Cody and I just returned from some last-minute Christmas shopping. It is crazy out there! The insanity was confined mainly to the roads, where apparently the general traffic laws, especially red lights, no longer apply to the rushed and harried. We called it a night before we finished just to come home and avoid the crazies. We'll be back out tomorrow morning, when most of these people will hopefully be traveling, working, or done with their shopping.

And for all those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, here's a little holiday cheer:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guilt: Surprisingly Motivating

So I sat down to write a blog about how guilty I was starting to feel because I hadn't written at all this weekend, and then I decided to do something about it. An hour later, I have another 1,948 words and I've almost reached 90,000 words total. Nice.

I've had a really nice weekend that involved so many of my favorite things: seeing a friend from LA, going to my favorite nursery/cafe (and eating some chocolate-beet cake), tasting at my favorite winery (and buying a bottle), browsing through my favorite used bookstore (and buying a handful of books for me--after being on somewhat of a book hiatus, I'm thrilled to have new fantasy novels!), seeing my family, watching a little Buffy, and, finally, writing. It's been a full, fun weekend. I'm feeling really blessed and loving it. Here's to hoping you had a similarly kick-ass weekend.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Violence and Romance

I recently finished a romance with the central conflict revolving around a progressively more violent antagonist bent on destroying the heroine's life. It left a foul aftertaste. The romance was nearly overshadowed by the beatings and blood and random killings, and I felt like the few scenes with just the main couple were a reprieve from the otherwise very unromancelike action. Perhaps I wouldn't have thought so much about it if the book were billed as a murder/mystery or a suspense, but it was sold as a romance. The successively worse violence felt like a gimmick to add easy "depth" to the plot. Rather than devise a creative way to delve into the characters' psyches, the author threw in a body, and everyone simply had to react. It felt cheap.

When did death and blood become a common subplot for romances? Has it always been, and I've just been oblivious? I scanned through the romance section at my favorite used book store today and had a hard time finding an action-packed romance that didn't involve a PI, FBI agent, Navy Seal, police officer, or someone on the run from a killer. (Okay, maybe it was a case of finding what you're expecting to, but still!) Is this where the violence in America is coming from--from too many people reading about casual death scenes and five pages later immersed in a steamy sex scene with the people who found the body? Maybe TV's been given a bad wrap. Maybe we should be blaming publishing houses.

It reminded me of a romantic movie or a TV show I saw once (and this would be so much better if I could remember the name of said movie or TV show). There was this very beautiful, high color, sunny and soft erotic scene between two people in the midst of a passionate embrace up against a wall. It started with kissing and the lover's hands roaming over each other's clothed bodies. Then, with the same sensual camera view, the scene switched to somewhere else to pan across a bloody beating in progress. Then back to the couple, some clothing removed, the energy between them more intense, the scene, by itself, more beautiful. Then back to the beating. Then back to the now sex scene. It turned my stomach.

I don't like my sex combined with violence. Not at all. It cheapened the sex scene--took it from something beautiful, and warped it merely by contrasting it with such brutality. One scene was motivated by love; the other by hatred. I believe the author/director/producer were trying to portray the connection and the juxtaposition of the extremes of lust and passion displayed in both scenes. Whatever. I get it. I don't need it shoved in my face. Not in video form, not in book form. Especially not in "romance" form. If I want violence, I'll pick that genre, thank you very much. I'm perfectly okay with violence in my literature. In fact, Basic Trouble and Book 2 have their fair share of violence. They're also not romances.

Needless to say, that author won't be a repeat read.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

When I originally heard of the idea of the Garfield without Garfield website, I thought it was stupid. I mean, wouldn't that be like The Cosby Show without Bill Cosby? (Which brings up a point I think America as a whole needs to address: Why is it called The Cosby Show when no one in the show is named "Cosby"? Why not call it The Huxtables and have a little "staring Bill Cosby" notation?) Or (back on point) wouldn't that be like The Drew Carey Show without Drew Carey? Or Calvin and Hobbes without Calvin?

And then I read a few of the Garfield strips without Garfield and realized I'd never appreciated how funny Jon is. My favorite strip was two empty panels and then the last with Jon in it, saying, "I think my toes are jealous of my fingers because they get to point at things." It makes me giggle every time I read it!

Yesterday, while at Borders, I ran across the Garfield Minus Garfield book that actually got printed. The Garfield-free strips are hilarious at times, strangely thought-provoking at others, and altogether just plain amusing. I wanted to stay and read the whole book in the store, but Cody pointed out that we had other shopping to do. Still, the book--and the idea--were an amusing surprise.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's the Pot

For a while now I've been on a hunt for the thing in my kitchen that randomly smells bad. I've hunted for hidden dirty dishes, taken out the trash, sprayed lemon and placed orange peels in the garbage disposal, and sniffed around all my food cupboards and the refrigerator for what could possibly be causing the bad odor. The random smell is something akin to a strong, used green tea bag but more pungent, sickly sweet and at the same time, carrying the upper notes of skunk. Frustratingly, I've not been able to find the source. I've looked for a pattern--after I used the toaster or when I eat spaghetti or something like that--but have found none.

It was Cody who finally figured it out. Our kitchen butts up against the neighbor's kitchen wall. Both walls have a vent above the stove, a vent that, apparently, is not very tightly sealed. Thus, whenever my neighbors light up their bongs, the smell drifts into my kitchen!

At first, I didn't believe Cody when he offered this theory, but a few times of stepping out on our shared front stoop and smelling the much less diluted odor of pot wafting from their apartment, I've conceded that he is right. F-ing potheads! It's bad enough to be woken up by the sounds of my neighbors having sex, but now I've got neighbor's pot smells in my kitchen! I can't wait to have a house with some space and privacy around it!

(On a happier note, despite the fact that I took yesterday off, I more than made up for it today: 3,617 words! Hooray!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Ending, 2.0

Hallelujah! I have an ending. A perfect ending. An ending a thousand times better than the ending I'd originally planned. It still has the same core elements, but it's enhanced. It's the luxury suite, concierge service, chocolates on the pillows, bubble bath in the Jacuzzi tub, private balcony on the top floor upgraded ending from the budget motel twin bed by the train tracks ending. I couldn't be more in love with it (if you couldn't tell).

Thankfully, some friends called just as I was finishing my earlier bemoaning post about my doubts and fears (which was being followed up by a buildup to a good pity-party, which Cody was the unlucky witness of) and instead of wallowing in my doubt, I went out for a cup of tea and some good conversation.

I don't know if it was the tea, the conversation, the fact that I was up past my bedtime on a work night, or the two krumkakes drizzled in chocolate that I ate right before bed, but I couldn't sleep. Tossing and turning, I tried to get my mind to a happy, sleepy place, and the next thing I knew, I was wide awake in the middle of Book 2's final battle. It all came together almost while I wasn't paying attention.

Now, four pages of notes later, I think I can sleep. (And I think 90,000 words was a bit conservative.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Length and Fears

It's official: I've written over 80,000 words! My tracker bar thing wouldn't show an over-the-goal amount, so I had to up the total of words. I think 90,000 is a good estimate. I hope it is. Today was another writing day where 1,700 plus words was merely a bridge between two scenes, so it was not officially on my storyboard or planned for. I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm trying to stay very positive, because I've reached the point in the story where every doubt about the plot and characters are coming up, making me think there's going to be major revisions in my future. I must. Not. Think. About that. I also am maintaining that the fact that I already have seven different revision notes that require scenes to be reworked, written, or removed is a good thing. It must mean the story is flowing well in my head and I'm seeing it more clearly the more time I spend with it. It must mean that.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Outraged at Torchwood

So with Cody done with school and actually home before ten at night, we've had some time to catch up on some much-missed TV. We don't have cable or a DVR, which is why I'm in love with Netflix. It also means that I'm perpetually a season behind on most shows (and since I tend to bury my head in the sand when it comes to the majority of what's happening in the entertainment world, I'm able to miss out on most spoilers).

We just finished season 2 of Torchwood. I'm guessing that all of you have already seen it and know what happens, and the rest of you don't care. I care. I care very much, and I'm very upset! I was all set for a cliffhanger. I was even more set for excitement. I was not prepared whatsoever for two main characters to be killed off! I'm outraged! I should not cry at a season finale! Combine my disappointment/sadness with the last episode with nightmares about never dying and being the last person left in the world umpteen-thousand years from now (which is what I get for thinking about Captain Jack's fate right before falling to sleep), I'm a bit miffed at Torchwood.

And this season was so intense and dark! I became a Torchwood fan because of Dr. Who, which started out pleasantly campy, though it, too, got darker in the last season (I'm referring to season 3 with Martha Jones--it just occurred to me that I haven't seen season 4 and it's out! Yay! I just added it to my Netflix queue!). I hope that they lighten things up in the new season (though don't tell me anything that could spoil it for me!)

We followed up the season finale of Torchwood with the first two episodes of Lost season 4--another show that's getting darker and darker (though I absolutely loved the "Lost in 8:15" recap; I thought it was quite funny). Fortunately, we've got a little Buffy to watch (season 3). I need more lighthearted shows! If you've got any good suggestions, let me know!

Oh, and as far as writing goes, I finally finished the one scene today. 4,887 words for one scene. Yikes! I'm getting close to the end, though! So close, I can taste it. (Too far to write it all in a day, though.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Krumkake Extravaganza

I took today off, celebrating Cody's last day of school for the year (he had a crazy-busy semester which involved two 14 hour days and three normal days of schooling a week--translation: I didn't get to see him as much as I wanted and am super excited that he's done) and to go to Cody's sister's house to partake in (watch) the annual krumkake-making marathon.

Cody and his sister are Norwegian (as you might be able to tell by Cody's head size in the "Real Adventure" post from August 10), and every year, his sister makes dozens and dozens of krumkake. For those of you not familiar with this delicious treat, krumkake are traditional Norwegian waffle cookies made on a special griddle that puts fancy designs on them as they bake. Cody's sister's griddle (a family heirloom) makes only one krumkake at a time. Once each waffle is cooked, it must be hand-rolled into the traditional cone shape to complete its cookie destiny.

The hand-rolling is something mere mortals cannot do--as far as I can tell, you must be Norwegian and have fingers of steel which don't burn when touching flaming-hot items. I've seen these fingers in action, pulling food or baking containers barehanded out of the oven. Were I to attempt something similar, I'd be running for the toothpaste, screaming in agony. (Yes, the toothpaste. I get a lot of weird looks when I suggest people put in on burns, but it really does work. So next time you find yourself with a first-degree burn, give it a try.)

Being of indiscriminate ancestry with a normal-size head, I made myself useful by drinking mimosas and chatting. All in all, it was a pleasant way to pass the day.

The celebration of Cody's freedom continues.

Friday, December 12, 2008

12 Days of Shopping Left

I don't know why it never occurred to me that some scenes might take longer than a day to write and longer than 1,667 words. It simply didn't. Today, I wrote 9 pages and I didn't even get from one end of the scene to the other. I blame Rose, Madison's coworker, who's back on the scene for the first time in about 150 pages. She's a talker, and she likes to tease Madison. It takes up space. Good space, I hope, but space nonetheless.

It also just occurred to me that today is already the 12th. Not only does that mean that I should be done with this book in 6 days (hahahahahah), but it also means that there's only 12 days of shopping left before Christmas! Ahhhhh! I haven't even started!

Something tells me I'm going to be getting some more "research" time in at the mall. Hopefully it'll add more humor to the busy mall scenes in Book 2 and be present-productive.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Over 80,000 Words

It's official. This book is going to be over 80,000 words. I've still got the major climax to write, and I'm at 73,000+ words with the climax two scenes away.

Only thirteen total scenes left, though, and I hope that I can fit more than one in a day (today I got three scenes into 2,500 words), otherwise my final scene will be written on Christmas day. I think I'll have to double up a few day's writing sessions to give myself the Christmas present of finishing this book prior to the big day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Legend of the Seeker Delivers

When I was fifteen or sixteen years old I read my first Terry Goodkind book, Wizard's First Rule. As an epic fantasy adventure over 800 pages in length, it was exactly what I was into. Eight books and about the same number of years later, I stopped reading the series--not because the series had gotten too bad to read, but because my taste had changed to more modern fantasies.

The series has recently been made into a TV show: Legend of the Seeker. It took three promo commercials before my mind linked why the storyline seemed so familiar to the books. I reined in my excitement. It could go very badly. I didn't like the cast when I saw them in the commercials. I didn't know how they were going to do a book in TV-length installments. I wasn't sure I wanted to give it a chance.

I missed the first few episodes. I finally sat down to watch one. I'm hooked. And I've decided I like the cast just fine. You might, too. Check out Craig Horner who plays the main character, Richard Raul. (The one on the right cracks me up.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Degrees to Bliss

This is my 100th post, and I've been wracking my brain for something worthy of a hundredth post to say. Ironically, I'm drawing a blank. After a hundred days of doing this, you'd think I'd have it down to a science. I think I'm going to have to take a lesson from my writing and not force it. When I try to force a scene, it comes off flat. I can't expect a blog would be much differently. Here's to hoping an anniversary-themed post will come to mind soon. In the meantime, back to our regularly schedule post:

It's amazing the difference two degrees can make. All day yesterday I suffered through with cold hands and so many layers on that I looked like the kid in A Christmas Story. I ended up drinking a couple of gallons of hot water (plain because of that whole teeth-staining thing, though come to think of it, I had red wine last night and never had a thought about staining my teeth). I shivered around the house and bundled the cats up in blankets where they lay (they tolerated it for longer than I thought they would). Then, finally, I thought to check the thermostat. Since it'd been kicking on the heater regularly all day, it had never occurred to me to check it before I was attempting to eat my dinner, which kept cooling off after a few bites (renuking food over and over again makes it hard to sit down and enjoy a meal).

It was set at 66 degrees in the house! I know that scientists will tell you 32 degrees is freezing, but they're wrong. Sixty-six is freezing. I cranked the heater up a whopping two degrees and like magic, the whole house was as warm as a tropical rain forest. I was even warm enough, I took off one of my sweaters!

Today the sun finally came out (it's been behind fog for the last week or so) and the house got to a crazy 70 degrees. It was like heaven. The cats and I all took turns lounging in sunbeams (me during eye breaks--them for hours at a time). Yea for heat!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cold Writing

I'm finding it very easy to imagine Madison traipsing around in cold November weather as I write this time, mainly because I've been doing all my writing at home and for the past week, it has been cold. I've kept the heater at 68 degrees, but I have a feeling that this heater's 68 degrees is like most heater's 60 degrees. The temperature has always felt a little off mark to me.

I finished my writing this morning--I actually finished more than necessary, nearly 9 pages this morning!--wearing slippers, knee-high socks, jeans, an undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and a beanie. Still, despite my fingers flying over the keyboard and mouse, they're still chilly. And silly me that I am, I don't want to have any warm tea because I just went to the dentist and my teeth are so pearly white, unstained yet by tea or wine.

I've only 18 scenes left. So far, it's been basically a scene a day, which means a scene lasts from 1,667 words to 2,500 words, but I hope that they'll go a little faster later on! Otherwise, this book is going to be over 80,000 words!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Goddess Wisdom

I have a set of Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards crafted by Doreen Virtue, PhD. which I enjoy using for guidance and for fun. They're beautiful cards with inspirational and fun advice. They're also strangely accurate when asked a question (I treat them much as someone might a deck of tarot cards). While I was unhappy at work, I kept getting Goddess cards that suggested I follow a new career or take a leap of faith toward my dreams. When I quit my job and started on my new adventure where I am following my dreams and writing more, I started pulling Lakshmi's card almost daily. The saying written at the bottom of the card is "Stop worrying. Everything is going to be fine." In the little booklet that comes with the cards, the explanation that goes with Lakshmi's card includes this line: "This is a kind universe, and everyone within it is working in your favor."

I was shocked the first time I read this description--for several years now, I've firmly held the belief that the Universe is working with me and helping me achieve what I want. In fact, I had the phrase "The Universe is on my side!" printed on my checks. It was like the card was speaking my own words back to me.

To remind myself of the wisdom of the goddess Lakshmi (and to show my gratitude to the Universe), I recently purchased a print of Sue Halstenberg's artwork on the card (seen here). I'm hoping to get it framed very soon, but it's hanging unframed until then in my dining room, reminding me to go for what I want without worries.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Unexpected Culture

We decided to watch Step Brothers last night rather than Torchwood. We both thought the movie was funny and worth seeing (at home). Will Ferrell is hit and miss for me, so I was happy. It might have helped that I had a brownie (okay, I had two) to go with the movie. No wine, though. I completely forgot about it by the time I left the office.

**SPOILER ALERT** If you haven't yet seen the movie and want to, pay no mind to the rest of the post and merely admire my tracking bar at the top of the blog.

I was shocked by the inclusion of the song Time to Say Goodbye, or Por ti Volare. I love the song, which I recently discovered through Pandora. My favorite version is sung by Sarah Brightman, and you can hear it here. I was shocked, however, to greatly enjoy Will Ferrell's version (despite the insertions of "boats and hoes!"--or maybe because of those insertions).

I'm happy to report I've already finished my writing for today. Yea for progress!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day Two of No Writing

My goddess! What is this world coming to? Two days without writing! I'll tell you what: I blame the fluoride varnish the dentist put on my teeth (very distracting, very annoying). I also blame my cat, who turned into such a wild demon that we couldn't get her brother back into the same carrier yesterday for fear she'd tear him to pieces and had to leave him at my parents' house and return today to pick him up separately (they're getting along great now).

The real culprit, however, is my own laziness, but I'm entitled to a little now and again. Cody and I just got some chocolate chip brownies (and ice cream for him) and we're either going to watch some Torchwood or the movie Step Brothers. If I recall, I think there's about a glass of wine left. These are my big Friday-night plans, and they sound real nice to me.

Tomorrow, I WILL write. I must. The story is building like a pressure in my head. All that creativity is waiting for me to use it. Tonight, wine and chocolate, a relaxing chair, and two happy cats, and Cody are mine to enjoy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Creativity Restored

Today was a nonwork/nonwrite day for me. I took the day off to have everything in my creativity section of my house fixed. (If you practice Feng Shui, the creativity section is the right-middle section of your house.) This means that the bathroom lights now work, the sink stopper doesn't fall into the sink and clog it, the toilet flushes and the handle pops back up so it doesn't continue to run, the tub is recaulked so it's not all moldy, the base along the bottom of the tub is fixed, the heater works (the main heater vent intake is in my creativity section), and the one thing in my skills and knowledge section (front-left section of house) that was broken--a window blind--was replaced. Whew! That was a lot of stuff. And it's all fixed! Hooray! I predict that tomorrow will be a highly creative day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Surprised by Traveling Pants

I love Netflix. It's one of the best things I subscribe to, and I'm pretty selective with what I subscribe to. I love that I can have a whole list of movies saved up, and as I send each one back, they send me another without me having to think about it. We're set up with a three-movie deal, which pretty much means we always have something to watch. It's great, and it's WAY cheaper than Blockbuster with a MUCH better selection.

There is one downside to it: Occasionally I put movies in my queue that I only sort of want, with the intention that I'll save them for when we run out of things we really want to watch. And occasionally those movies get sent to us before I'm ready when I forget to reorganize my queue. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 was one such movie.

I added it to my queue with the intention of watching it when Cody was gone or busy, but I wasn't really all that excited about seeing it. Then it shipped. Then I lost it. I knew I had received it, but I couldn't find it anywhere, and then began wondering if I'd only convinced myself I'd received it because I was unhappy to be getting it in the first place. I finally told Netflix that I had never received it. They took it off my queue and sent me another movie.

A few days later, I found it under my car seat. It was a sign, I decided. My earlier intention had been to ship it back unseen, but I decided to watch it. (I waited for a night when Cody was busy to spare him.)

Shockingly, I really enjoyed it. I liked the realistic interactions between the women. I liked seeing them growing and trying new opportunities. I liked all the different settings (whoever got to be set designer looked like they had a ball creating the girl's personalities in their surroundings). I liked the ending, as sentimental as it was.

So if you're in the mood for a good girl movie, I suggest this one. It's not a romance, it's not a drama, it's not a comedy, at least not in my opinion. It's just a story, a good fiction, a story of friendship and women and growing and finding yourself. Really, I'm still surprised at how much I liked it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unexpected Connections

I've been avoiding writing this scene all day. It didn't occur to me until after I finished writing it that Madison wanted to avoid this scene too. Apparently, just imagining her not wanting to do it made me not want to write it. I think this is a good thing: I've been in the story long enough to feel Madison in my head, not just imagine her there. Or so I'm telling myself.

On top of wanting to avoid this whole scene, Dr. Love, Madison's main love interest, is on stage, and there were all sorts of possibilities for things to go dreadfully wrong. They're relationship is so new, practically unformed, and neither knows the other's body language. Even words can so easily be misunderstood when everyone's hormones are so volatile. I think that people in a long-term relationship forget about all the uncertainties that govern a relationship when you're first starting out. When you're in a long-term relationship, you can have a huge misunderstanding, fix it, and move on. When you're still new to each other, that misunderstanding can be the death of a relationship.

I was afraid, when I realized I'd been writing for nearly two hours and my normal word count usually takes me only a little over an hour, that I'd been struggling with the scene more than I realized as I typed. It seemed to be flowing, but like the relationship, maybe I was misreading the signs.

Nope. It was just a slightly longer scene than I expected. 2,733 words. I thought it'd be about 1,200 words. And as happy as I am with how well it turned out and how well Madison and I navigated the dangerous waters of that scene, ending with everything where it needs to be and with Madison quite happy, we're both even happier to be beyond that scene. As wonderful as it is to have the handsome Dr. Love on stage, sometimes it's easier when he's only there in Madison's fantasies.

Tomorrow it's action time. Secretive, dangerous action. Just the kind of thing to take both our minds off Dr. Love and get our heads back in the crime-fighting game.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Authors

As you may have noticed, I've added The First Book to my list of favorite writing blogs. Every Monday, they post an interview with a new author who's recently gotten their first book published. I find it very inspiring to read everyone's stories of how they got published.

The recent interview with Joshua Corin for his book Nuclear Winter was like reading a fairytale. He wrote an award-winning screenplay that a Hollywood producer found on a website and contacted him to see if he had anything new. Just a few days later, he'd sold a book! The book sounds pretty interesting, too. Check for Nuclear Winter to be coming to bookshelves and movie theaters soon.

I was intrigued by Devon Monk's interview about his book Magic to the Bone simply because it sounds like a good novel in a genre I like to read. (And his first book was auctioned! I dream of these things!)

Check out this great blog--it's the first blog I've found all by myself that I now regularly check, and I'm oddly proud of that fact.