Monday, November 30, 2009

Word of the Week #78

**Warning: New Moon movie mention in this post.

oneiric - [oh-NY-rik] - adjective

Of, pertaining to, or suggestive of dreams; dreamy.

While several thousand women and girls think that Edward is a very oneiric hero, I'm all about Jacob. Definitely.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Now THAT'S a Turkey

I'm going to try this out.

Here is a new way to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey.

1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes.
2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully. (see attached picture for details)
3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve.
4. Watch your guests' faces...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thinking Thankfully

It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to those things we are thankful for—and gorging ourselves with monstrous amounts of food. So, in the Thanksgiving spirit, I will share some of those things that make my heart swell with gratitude. BUT I want to dig a little deeper than the normal list of blessings: family, friends, house, cars, freedom, security, blah, blah, blah. Here are some more overlooked, but equally wonderful, blessings that I am thankful for.

• Central Air (with programmable thermostats) – can you even imagine life without it? I can, because I grew up without it.
• Power windows – Remember the days of the crank handle? Or, if it was like my car, the days when the handle didn’t work and you had to open the door, put a hand on each side of the window and wiggle it up or down.
• Email – Blessed, blessed email. I don’t have enough room to wax poetic about it.
• Twitter and Facebook – I can pretend to be social without ever having to actually speak to someone face to face.
• Electric Blankets – truly marvelous, especially the ones with 2 controllers so that I can crank my side up and be toasty warm while hubby has his side totally off and is usually sleeping on top of the covers.
• Indoor Plumbing – all you have to do is consider the alternative: outhouse in the middle of January or chamber pots. Yikes!
• Duct tape – the cure-all for even the most repair-challenged.
• Flash Drives – I am thankful for these with the very core of my being. Maybe you have not had your computer crash the day before a 400 page manuscript deadline, only to have all of your backup on discs, then go from friend to friend to friend to find that they don’t even make computers with a disc drive anymore. (Okay, breathe… I’m hyperventilating just remembering. And yes, this was a few years ago, so don’t think me that technologically-challenged.)
• Online backup – it was the best decision I put off for a year and then finally did 3 weeks before a complete computer crash.
• Cleaning magic erasers – you know, the white ones that get off practically anything? I would like to rain kisses on whoever invented it. Probably a woman, so maybe just shake her hand.
• Seamless running socks – they are worth every penny.
• Disposable Diapers – I don’t care how much money you want to save, dunking rags in the toilet to wash off the poop is so not worth it. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
• Microwaveable Pot Pies – I love the things, but heating up a whole oven for one weeny little pot pie and then having to wait 35 minutes for it to cook? I don’t think so! Now pop it in for 4 minutes and Voila!
• Calluses – I go without shoes as often as possible when it’s warm enough so my feet get lots of these.
• Sun – Ahhhh. Vitamin D!
• Homestarrunner – LOL
• Digital cameras – just keep clicking, just keep clicking. Clicking, clicking, clicking.
• Thesaurus/ – I cannot elaborate, announce, declare, affirm, convey, or verbalize how utterly, conclusively, and entirely appreciative I am for this website.
• Emergen-C – my coffee.
• My iPod – if my house were on fire and my family were safe outside, I might dive back into the burning building for my iPod. And my computer. And my pictures. Anyway… I love my iPod.
• Books – some people drink, some take drugs. I’m addicted to books.

Seriously though, above all I am thankful for all the special people I am privileged to know and love: my family, my friends and neighbors, and my brothers/sisters in the crazy, schizophrenic world of being a writer. You enrich my life. I am thankful for those who sacrifice for others and for the miracles I have witnessed. Please remember to take a moment and count your blessings this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Word of the Week #77

tyro - [TY-roh] - noun

A beginner in learning; a novice.

Though I was a mere tyro, the accomplished skiers were kind enough to ski around me when I crashed, which averaged about every five minutes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The plague of Writer Brain

I've suspected this for a long time, but after last weekend I think it's official: I suffer from Writer Brain.

I think it began when I started watching people and thinking things like, How would I describe the way that man walks? or Ooo, look at that woman chewing on a piece of hair without even realizing it, I'm going to use that. Then I started carrying a little notebook to scribble down things like a description of the teenager I saw in the weight room that looks just like what would happen if someone turned a bull dog into a human. I notice how some people always look at your chin when you talk to them, or how one woman walks around the track with her head tilted to the side, like she's leaning into the curves.

Phase two was when I became a chronic eavesdropper, like the time two construction workers outside my house got into an argument and I sat right next to the open window so I could hear better. I listen in on others' cell phone conversations and imagine what the person on the other end is saying. If two people are having a lover's quarrel I inch closer, and I'll end my own arguments quickly sometimes so I can run off and take notes.

The next stage was when I started thinking "What If?" all the time. Like the other week when my children told me about their friend's dog that pees when he gets excited. What if a person had that character trait? Imagine the situations and neuroses that would arise out of that? I even said it something like that out loud. After my kids looked at me in surprise, they jumped right in the game of What If? (I'm sorry, guys. You have no chance, really, with the mom you've got.)

Then last weekend I was with a group of friends who were talking about a tragedy several years ago where a husband hired a hit man to kill his wife. The wife happened to be the cousin of one of my friends. So everyone was talking about how horrible it all was, etc. in appropriate somber tones.

And I was thinking, How would someone find a hit man to hire? If you were just a normal, good Christian guy, where would you even start looking for one? And then how would you do it so the police wouldn't find you? My mind was racing on the logistics of how that would even work out, in case I ever wanted to use that in a story.

Without realizing it I had said my thoughts out loud. There was silence as everyone turned to look at me. "I mean, what a horrible thing! I can't believe people are really like that," I quickly said to cover up my faux pas.

But really, how would someone like me go about finding a hit man? Where would I even start? I guess I'd have to ask the shadiest person I know, hoping that they'd know someone who knew someone? Or are there sites online where hit men post their resumes? Maybe they don't post their resumes but just put down GPS coordinates that will lead to a place with their contact information, like Geocaching for hit men...

**Note: I am not planning to hire a hit man. Really. I'm not.

Please don't hate me, I'm just a victim of Writer Brain.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lowering the Bar

I've talked about rough drafts and embracing the crap before, but it's taken on a whole new meaning as I'm cranking out words for NaNoWriMo. It is taking sheer will to ignore the "to be" verbs, the passive voice, and the shoddy sentences. But I'm doing it! And forging ahead. (Just past the half-way mark. Woot!)

Whenever I get the urge to go back and fix something I try and remember how much time that wastes, because I just need to get this first draft finished. Then I can revise to my heart's content, and whine about it then.

But for now, I'm lowering the bar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

It snowed over the weekend, and so that makes it the perfect time for:

A) snow boots
B) hot chocolate
C) fuzzy slippers, electric blankets, and sweats
D) another Christmas book review
E) all of the above

If you guessed E) then you're right on. (Good for you!) I'll have to let you take care of your own A-C because I can't help you out a whole lot on that, but I can take care of D) for you.

Today's Christmas book review is An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson.

From the back cover:

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day’s events — or maybe his interest in Micah’s widowed mother will do the trick. The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill.

Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town’s holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable — which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better. Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed.

An Angel on Main Street fits perfectly in the uplifting, Christmas feel-good-and-be-thankful-for-your-blessings niche. And its short enough and a smooth enough read that it won't knock you over into the "Ahhh!-I'll-never-get-this-finished-just-like-I-won't-finish-my-Christmas-shopping-and-I'm-now-a-ball-of-stress" that happens so often during the holidays. (But then, I might just be projecting my own issues.)

I appreciate Kathi Oram Peterson's reminder that there are angels that surround us and live next to us every day. And that sometimes we are the ones called on to be the angels. I recommend An Angel on Main Street for a nostalgic Christmas read with a good message. You can find out more about Kathi on her website.

And because I love my blog readers, here you go:




Monday, November 16, 2009

Word of the Week #76

bombinate - [BOM-buh-nayt] - intransitive verb

To buzz; to hum; to drone.

Throughout the month of November, computers across the world bombinate late into the night or at the early hours of morning as thousands of NaNoWriMo writers type like mad.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Like Twilight? Give Firelight A Try.

If you haven't seen it, here's a hilarious SNL parody of Twilight starring Taylor Swift. My hubby, who's never read Twilight or seen the movie, even laughed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Work in Progress Letter of Apology

Dear Blogosphere,

I must apologize for my neglect the last little while. You see, I'm doing this crazy fun writing project called NaNoWriMo and I'm so stubborn tenacious that I sometimes move along at a snail's pace just to make sure I'm still moving. So some days I don't always have time for you.

To all the blogs stacking up in Google Reader, I'm sorry. I will probably neglect you for a few more weeks, and by then I'll probably have 2000 un-read posts and might just have to clear them all and start over. But I'm sure your blogs are great.

To all my bloggy friends who are still posting awesome blogs while racking up insane wordcounts in NaNoWriMo, I'm sorry. You won't see many comments from me, but know I still love you. And you make me sick--in a purely loving, writer-crush kind of way.

To my own blog with its dashboard full of half-written, meaty, content-filled posts on Twitter, habits of successful writers, and other topics oozing profundity, I'm sorry. Please bear with me. Once I don't feel like brain cells are oozing out my ear by lunchtime I will finish you all--pinky promise. But maybe not until December, because not many writer-types would be reading them until then anyway.

To my husband who would like to play a leisurely game of whatever on the computer without his wife hovering and giving him the evil eye, I'm sorry. I know the computer isn't mine, just mostly mine. And I'll try and take my twitchiness in the other room.

To my butt that has spent a lot of time parked in the computer chair, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry for the treadmill workout this morning. But you are spending a lot of time parked in the computer chair.

To my Christmas shopping list and my yard work and my basement, I'm sorry. I'll get to you before Christmas. At least I hope I will.

To my friends and neighbors who I walk right past without acknowledging, I'm sorry. I'm not really being snooty, I'm just concentrating on stuff like plot points and character arc. Just peek at the contents in my shopping cart and if they look totally random then chances are I'm in my own book world.

To my Twitter followers who've had to endure some really weird tweets the last week, I'm sorry. I'm blowing off steam and I *think* I make sense, even though sometimes I don't.

To my main character who just got made a complete fool of by genetically engineered kittens, I'm NOT sorry. And you better buckle up, buddy, cause it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Warmest regards,

Jaime, a.k.a. Bookmom

P.S. I'm at 14,000 words into my Zero Draft for NaNo (I like calling it a Zero Draft, because that first draft is really so horrible it almost doesn't deserve the title First Draft, and then you don't beat yourself up so much about yucky writing when it's only a Zero Draft). And I'm also at about 6,000 words of Dragon Wrangler, where my co-author is sending me her Zero Draft and I'm making some revisions and hopefully nudging it over into a First Draft.

P.P.S. Anyone else feel like they need to apologize this month?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review - Santa Maybe by Aubrey Mace

Dear Santa,

I've been a good girl this year. (Well . . . pretty good.) I have a nice life and there s only one thing that I really want one thing that s missing. If you happen to have an extra one lying around your workshop, I would really like a husband. I promise to take good care of him.

Love, Abbie

Now that Halloween is over I feel like I can realistically post reviews of Christmas books. And I was excited by the first Christmas book I've read for this season, which is Aubrey Mace's latest book, Santa Maybe. I really enjoyed the other book of hers that I read last year, Spare Change, so I settled in for some fun reading.

(And yes, per stupid FTC soon-to-be-enacted requirements, I did get a copy of the book from the author, so theoretically I could sell it and get rich--except I won't. I'm sure I'll somehow get taxed for that.)

Abbie was one of those girls that always fell in love, but after a series of relationships that never ended in happily ever after, Abbie decides it's not for her. Now Abbie owns a bakery and devotes her whole heart, soul, and time to her business. On Christmas Eve, a silly mood overtakes Abbie and she writes her note to Santa. The next morning she wakes up to find a man sleeping under her tree. He's not exactly wrapped up with a bow, but he is good-looking, intelligent, helpful, and has amnesia. As you can imagine, there are several fun directions that premise can go.

Santa Maybe is a light and fun read and definitely one I'd recommend for anyone suffering from holiday stress. Or for those not suffering from holiday stress. Or for those who are trying to ignore the holidays because they haven't even started thinking about Christmas even though their neighbors spent the weekend putting up Christmas lights. (Who, me?)

You can find out more about Aubrey Mace on her website or at her blog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Word of the Week #51-#75

It's time to celebrate 75 weeks of Word of the Week. Here's the post with links to the first 50.

And now for the next 25:

51. imbroglio
52. myokymia
53. flense
54. fillip
55. tergiversation
56. limn
57. nimiety
58. gamine
59. daedal
60. quidnunc
61(a). quondam
61(b). pejorative (apparently I can't count)
62. velleity
63. glabrous
64. melange
65. sui generis
66. escutcheon
67. pule
68. prestidigitation
69. decrepitude
70. temerity
71. mendacity
72. discombobulate
73. outre
74. equipoise
75. sapid

I hope you enjoy all the new words and try to incorporate them all into your vocabulary. Today. Amaze total strangers with your intelligence! Or at the least get some weird looks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breaking the Chains

Do you ever feel like as soon as you start a project that you're already behind? Like organizing your basement, or winterizing your yard (or maybe that's just me). Or what about your NaNoWriMo project?

Here's my little secret: I don't know if I'm behind or not.

I'm pretty OCD about numbers and I love spreadsheets, but for NaNoWriMo I decided to try and channel my inner free spirit (it's in there somewhere, I'm sure). I've sent my internal editor on a vacation, and the part of me tied to numbers has also been gagged and shoved in a closet. The idea is that I'll just enjoy the writing and not worry about the numbers.

Since I do have to have some sort of goal, I counted the days in November that I could theoretically write - not Sundays because I take that day off. Then I took 50,000 words and divided it by those days. I figured that I'll be good if I write about 2050 words a day, and so far I'm doing okay with that.

Still, the OCD Number Jaime bangs on the closet door whenever I read stuff like "Should be to 12,500 by the end of the day!" from other people. Then I start to think, perhaps I should subtract Thanksgiving, since I probably won't be able to write a lot then unless I do it at 3 a.m. Maybe I should figure out what my word count should be by the end of this week, and the end of next week, and then I could make a spreadsheet. Oooo, what about a graph? I could color-code it and...

Back in the closet! *shoving her in and slamming the door*

I'm breaking free from the number chains!

Who wants to join me?

For a good laugh, check out InkyGirl's NaNo comic for the day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SATA - Suck at Titles Anonymous

I know there's strength in meeting together with others going through the same struggles. So I've decided to start my own support group.

Welcome to the first ever meeting of Suck At Titles Anonymous, or SATA. If you've ever written a book or story under the title of "My Story" or "Stupid Freaking YA Book" or "Some Awesome Title" then this is the place for you!

Pull up a chair, or. . . well . . . stay in the one you're already in.

First of all, it's important that you know that you're not alone. There, take a deep breath and just feel it sink in--you're not alone. *supportive, therapist-type smile on the whole group*

Let me give you a happy thought: - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

There, don't you feel better now?

As so many other support groups do, SATA will also be adopting a Step Program to success and healing. Today we'll work on the first three.

Step 1: Admit that you are horrible at titles.

Step 2: Believe that a power greater than you will eventually come up with a better title than "The One With the Fairies."

Step 3: Realize that you can't do it alone. You may need ask for help from other writers, loved ones, children, Twitter or Facebook friends, or strangers on the street.

Time out for a group hug.

Now comes the sharing portion of our group meeting. I'll start. Right now I'm working on a Middle Grade novel and my working title is "The Bad Guy Book." I've tossed around the title of "The Villain's Tale" but I know that sucks, too.

How about you? What are some of the bad titles you've come up with?

I'm NaNo'ing - Bring It On!

You see that little badge in the sidebar? Yep, I'm NaNo'ing. I finally decided late Saturday night, Oct. 31st, to take the plunge and be all official for National Novel Writing Month, which started at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 1st.

I'm so ecstatic to join all my fellow NaNo'ers! Now I won't feel left out. Do we have a secret handshake or something?

I've signed up, I know I need to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, and... now what? Do I report my word count somewhere official-like? Is there a forum or something somewhere where I could procrastinate rather than write? I guess I can enter the NaNoWriMo popularity contest and start collecting "Buddies?" (I'm Bookmom2000. Be my buddy. C'mon. Please?) I'm a newbie at this, so maybe some of you seasoned NaNo'ers can give me some direction.

But for now I'm scrambling to do at least *some* pre-writing so that I have a clue where I'm going with this book. The first question: Can I outline and draft at the same time? The second question: Can I not spiral into the depths of despair by comparing my puny word count with those already being posted? (Seriously, people! How do you DO that?!?!)

I figure that I can prolong the torture over a few months to produce an atrocious first draft, or I can just crank it out in a month and be done with it. So, for better or worse, I'm NaNo'ing!

(Is it just me, or does NaNo'ing sound like an obscure desert planet in the Star Wars universe?)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In which Jaime laughs so hard she falls off her chair

*wiping tears*

Anyone else remember Lost Boys? Wow, I loved that movie! And the soundtrack...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Word of the Week #75

sapid - [SAP-id] - adjective

1. Having taste or flavor, especially having a strong pleasant flavor.
2. Agreeable to the mind; to one's liking.

My children rave about the sapid garlic lime chicken that we grill; they call it "The Best Chicken in The World."