Welcome to the Post-Season

I’m taking a break from my normal topics (babies, writing, et cetera) to congratulate the Tampa Bay Rays!  From before the start of the season, all the “sports gurus” who supposedly know this stuff bashed the Rays.  It’s a rebuilding year, they don’t have a prayer, etc.  When they started out with a 0-8 record, the naysayers said, ‘see, we told you so’.

These same gurus said that this year, the Boston Red Sox would go all the way to the World Series.  Even when they got off to an absymal start (almost as bad as the Rays), they were just working out the bugs.  And eventually they swooped to dominance, swapping the first-place title with the Ska…er, Yanks… on a regular basis, with the Rays toodling along in the wake of the big boys. 

Then came September.  At the start of the month, the Rays were “out of contention”, a whopping 9 games back.  Once again, naysayers pointed out no team had ever overcome a deficit like that to emerge victorious.  The Sox collapsed.  The Rays surged.  It all came down to one GLORIOUS night of America’s favorite past time, to see who would go to the playoffs and who would just go home.

Early on, it seemed the Rays were doomed, down 7-0 to the Bronx Bas, er, Bombers, early on.  It seemed like the Sox would win.  They were playing the Orioles after all, and the Orioles constantly battle to get out of the American League East cellar.  Bottom of the ninth, two out, down by one run.  Dan Johnson, he of the miracle hit in a post-season hunt of yesteryear and holder of current .108 batting average, came to the plate.  Strike.  Strike.  DOwn to their last hope, their very last strike, CRACK went the mighty Dan’s bat.  TIE GAME.

Long rain-delayed play resumed in Baltimore.  The Red Sox expected to win.  After all, the Rays were down, so if the Rays lost and the Sox won, playoffs were at hand.  Bottom of the ninth, two out, two strikes.  CRACK went the mighty bat of some player (whose name I don’t recall, b/c I don’t pay attention to names).  Ultimately…Orioles won.

Four minutes later, south in St. Petersburg, Florida, the rising star Evan Longoria (whose 3-run homer earlier had put them at least in hoping distance of making it a game) came to the plate, took aim and slammed a home run.  Game over, Rays win.

Some will dismiss their win, saying the Yankees pulled their best players to rest them for Friday’s start.  Certainly the Red Sox fans are crying foul (or so the comments on assorted msn articles showed), saying the Bombers would rather lose to the Rays than allow the Sox into the playoffs.  But the facts remain.  The Rays had a fabulous September.  The Red Sox did not. 

Good luck, TB Rays!  Here’s hopin’ we have a long post-season (unlike last year).

Six Months

I can’t believe my precious little girls are six months old now (as of last Thursday).  And now they’re wearing 9-12 month clothes, though they really don’t LOOK that big to me.  Check them out!

Taken yesterday, they finally got to wear outfits someone gave them when they were a month old.  And carrying them around in their carriers, we can’t believe how heavy they are!  Sam got her first tooth (and I think there’s a second one popping up too) the day before 6 months.  Jackie, based on her bitchy (and I mean that in the nicest, most loving mommy sort of way) personality, has been teething since the day she was born.  But nothing to show for it thus far. 

AND!  Best of all, they actually slept through the night last night.  Okay, well, until almost five this morning.  But that’s by far the best they’ve ever done and I’m so excite.  I had to keep pacifying them, but they didn’t demand food until almost 5.  Yippy!

Quick War update:
About a quarter through with the rewrite and have cut a few scenes and cleaned up others.  It’s going well, overall, I guess.  Fun times.

So – how is your life going?

Six Sentence Sunday

This week’s entry comes from my first completed WIP (under consideration at both an agent and a publisher, so while there’s an entry titled Rage is Dead, it’s not entirely dead yet).  The two characters, Athdara and Anthony, were lovers a long time ago, but he lied to her about something so she’s not very happy about his abrupt arrival at a speaking engagement.  Her niece (who physically is about 50 years older than her) has just been very polite, prompting Anthony’s observation.  They’re speaking telepathically as they’re in the midst of a crowded room.

* * *

     “Your lovely niece has proper manners.  Obviously you weren’t involved that much in raising her.  It is common courtesy to extend gratitude for…”

     “I said thank you,” she lied.

     What you said was, ‘I would thank you, Your Grace, but since it’s not my practice to converse with common murderers, I’ll save my breath’.”
     He had a mind like an elephant.

* * *

Hope to see y’all back next week (either for SSS or my normal weekly post). Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Organization

Once again, a blog topic came from an email loop.  More on that in a moment, after I ramble.

I think email groups are some of the most interesting tools available to a writer these days.  Long gone (potentially, if one knows about them, which if a writer is serious about getting published, they’d better know about things like this) are the days of writing in solitude with few people at hand who can help/provide feedback.  Now, you can get a critique partner, join in classes, and even get an agent, all theoretically without ever leaving your house.  Maybe this dates me as being pretty young, but I honestly can’t imagine trying to become a published author (or work in a law office) before the days of email, computers, and the internet. 

Heavens, having to retype an entire page because of one small typo?  Oh, the horror!  That said, I remember learning to type and actually doing short stories on an electric typewriter from the 60’s (though it was definitely not the 60’s when I learned to type).

Now – on to my actual topic.  A week or two ago, the topic of the loop was how do you organize your writing?  They meant, do you use physical note books, software of some sort, et cetera.  A lively round of responses came in, mentioning the ever-popular Mac program Scrivener (which is currently doing beta testing for a windows version – check it out at the website here).  Most everyone chimed in about their great organizational techniques (ranging from index cards and post-it notes to Scrivener and similar programs).

In reading those responses, it occurred to me that I don’t do any of that.  Everything I have is stored in my head.  Oh, from time to time I’ve tried to create a document in word as my ‘story bible’ but it never gets used.  I’ve now downloaded Scrivener’s beta, but when I open it, I just freeze up.  Am I dooming myself to failure forever as a writer if I don’t do this sort of thing, write everything down somewhere?  Is it just part of being a pantser, that I don’t write every single tiny detail about my characters down? 

For me, I don’t know anything (usually) about my characters when I start to write.  Heck, I rarely know more than a single plot point when I start a draft.  It all works itself out as I go along in the junk first draft.  I’ve tried to be more methodical, but outlining never works.

How about you?  Do you work everything out to the nth degree before you start?  Do you use a writing program or notebooks or the like when you plot? 

Have a great day!

Six Sentence Sunday

This is my first time contributing to the Six Sentence Sunday thing.  If you want to participate (assuming you didn’t come here through the link on the SSS website), check out the official Six Sentence Sunday website. The following is from my current WIP.  An hour or so earlier, Christine made a move on Jordan and it didn’t go quite as she planned.

“I’m fond of a lot of things,” Chris scowled.

“Earlier, you propositioned me.”

Chris choked at the blunt way he phrased it. “I did no such thing!”

“What would you call it then?” he asked mildly.

“Losing my mind.”

The Cute, the Bad, and the Funny

Before I launch into today’s multitude of topics, I just want to say how much I hate waiting.  For anything.  Whether it’s waiting to hear from a publisher or agent (which, by happy circumstance, I’m doing right now) or the coffee to perk or even to finish being pregnant (as I proved by having the twins five weeks early), waiting is the worst for me.  I keep asking God to give me patience – right now!  So far, he just keeps trying to work on it by constantly making me wait for stuff.  ARGH.

Now, on to other things.
The Cute:

 Both the girls together, so you can see that they’re really not that far apart, size-wise.
 Jackie – 16.2 lbs a couple of days ago
Sammie – 15.6 lbs a few days ago.
I love my twins.  They’re so blasted cute, even in the middle of the night.  I can’t get them to smile on camera though.  I’d love to catch their middle-of-the-night smiles, the big, gummy ones, that say, “I don’t want to go back to bed, so I’m going to give you a big ol’ grin in hopes that you’ll decide I’m so darned cute, you’ll let me stay up and play rather than make me go back to sleep.”
I love their big brother too.  He’s doing well in kindergarten, though he got a bad note home last Friday – running to get in line, he pushed another kid down and they hit their chin on a nearby table.  And he can read!  A little!  He actually read some full sentences last night.  It was sooooo awesome.
The Bad
My mom’s not doing well at all.  She got hospitalized a couple weeks ago (from the nursing home) and was kept in the psychiatric ward while they adjusted her meds.  Even though she’d be in the middle of her bed, she was convinced she was about to fall.  One of the elders in her church called me a couple days ago and it brought home how bad things were.  He was asking me about my preferences for like end of life stuff, to be sure my brother and I were on the same page about it.
In that same phone call, I found out my fears that my brother might do something bad to himself when Mom is finally released from her suffering (at this point, though it sounds horrible and I know it, I just want her to pass because she has no quality of life and I know all she wants is to be with Dad now.  I don’t want her to hurt any more.) are quite justified.  Apparently it took a visit from a whole bunch of the church people to keep him from doing something stupid about a month ago.  Part of me fully expects that I won’t hear about Mom’s passing from my brother, but rather from a hospital official or cop, who drops the bomb that they’re both gone.
I have no control over what he does, but I’m angry with him for making that sort of choice.  And it hurts too, that he’d rather take that way out, instead of coming out and staying with us, getting to know his nieces and nephew.
The Funny
There is a war going on in my house.  It’s the Sleep Wars: Twins vs. Mommy.  Thus far, I’ve won most of the battles.  Most, but not all.  Below is a summary of a few nights ago:
Battle 9/12-13/11
And the night gets off to a great start.  Babies wake up at 1, get fed and are back in bed/asleep within 40 minutes.  Mommy returns to a peaceful sleep.
3:30 – WAAAAAH.  Samantha awakens.  Mommy stumbles in, half asleep, to see Sammie grin that grin.  Pops the pacifier, flops her over, stumbles back toward bed with hopes of sleep.
3:32 – Before Mommy can even get IN to bed, WAAAAAAAAH.  Repeats the process.  Cursing involved.
3:34 – WAAAAAAAH.  Mommy returns, sees same adorable smile, realizes defeat may be imminent.  Tries taking baby to couch to avoid waking the angel Jacqueline.  Much squirming (Sam), grinning (Sam), and glaring (Mommy).  Mommy declares defeat and lets Sam play while she stumbles off to start the coffee maker (which was prepared at the 1a feeding) and turns on Heroes.
4:50 – Samantha drops back into sleep land on the play mat about 10 minutes before anticipated awakening of Jackie.
5:20 – Mommy realizes there might be time for a shower before the monsters awaken.
5:40 – Jackie wakes up.  Feeding commences and Sam wakes up to join in the feeding frenzy.
I love my girls, but I could have sworn the boy was sleeping through the night by this age. However, last night wasn’t too bad.  They got fed around 6:10, and didn’t wake up (and insisted on being fed – there had been a few bouts of wailing that required pacification) until 2:30.  Quite a pleasant change from the 7p, 12a, 4a feeding routine.

Rewrites

As this is a topic on one of the email loops I belong to, it seems an appropriate topic to bring up now.  Recently the moderators asked how rewrites/revisions were approached, and if we liked/disliked them.

For me, I have to rewrite from the ground up.  Maybe it’s a time waster and as I go along (i.e. get more books under my metaphorical belt) I won’t need/want to do it.  But right now it seems simpler to just start from the ground up.  I have my original next to me (either the print version with my handwritten notes or the electronic version on a side-by-side screen view with the new document) and start typing.  Usually things change at some point and I branch off.  With Rage, it ended up going in an entirely new direction each of the two rewrites I did.  Dreams was essentially the same story, though I developed certain things differently in the second draft because the mind behind Ares kept shifting.

With the impending rewrite of War – I think the basic story is going to stay the same.  There are missing scenes that need filling in.  I need more additional secondary characters earlier (it’s Chris & Jordan almost exclusively for almost 100 pages).  But over the course of the first draft, I came up with different ideas on motivations for both characters.  Chris is definitely darker than I thought she was, and that needs to be developed more carefully.  There are certain details that pop up in the second half that I absolutely have to foreshadow earlier rather than just dumping them in.

Something else I’m planning on doing is a little squiblet as a header on each chapter, sort of as world building and it would eliminate some of the internal monologues that chars don’t need to have since they really wouldn’t just think about stuff since, to them, it’s normal but I threw in there because I wanted to world build.  For example of a squiblet:

From the Layman’s Guide to the Non-Human Rights and Responsibilities Act of 1947: The Council retains its primary right to discipline their own when a crime involves vampire on vampire violence.  In other words – if your actions would get you an execution before the Great Awakening, expect the executioner to come calling now.  Don’t expect protection from the humans when you screw up. 

It’s rough, but that’s the basic idea anyway.  Add a little something like that at the beginning of each chapter, probably have it be applicable to something that’s going to happen in the chapter itself.

On the children front – I think I have some of the cutest twins ever!  How can I not adore them?  And big brother’s pretty cute too.  Check ’em out from recent pics.

 Samantha chillin’ with Mommy’s sunglasses
 My posing dweeb.  I swear, he always picks the same goofy look.
Jackie, just checking out the shiny light (camera flash)

Oh, btw, got an iPhone recently and I love it!  Just sayin’.

So – how do you handle rewrites?  Share your tales from the trenches.

Development of a Villanous Hero(?)

First order of business:  Well, I didn’t quite finish before the end of August, but that hadn’t been my goal – I’d been shooting for 40 days.  Had the plague not hit our house, I might well have finished Blood War in the month’s time after things got going at the beginning of the month.  Unfortunately, in less than a week at school, the Shrimp brought home the sniffles.  The sniffles turned into a cold in my husband.  Who turned around and handed it off to the Shrimpettes and mother-in-law.  This was in the course of a week.  Just as I thought I was in the clear…BAM – it hit me yesterday.  Luckily, the symptons failed to manifest (or at least I didn’t notice them) until I type The End

There are a few scenes missing, but that’s normal enough.  I never get those kind of things in until the second or third round (I hate sex, just for the record – the writing of it at least).

Second order of business:  Villanous Hero
This story came about in part because I never ended up satisfied with Marcelo as a romantic lead in Dreams.  He was, to use a CP’s word for him, wussy.  And, tragically, I agreed with that assessment.  He sat back and let the heroine and the sociopath deal with the problems that arose.  Add in the fact that the sexual tension wasn’t as good as it could have been, and there were problems.  Especially when a certain blond showed up with more electricity with Chris than Marcelo ever had.

Ideas kicked around in my head for a long time, different things to consider.  The main problem, as it turned out, was how I pictured Jordan – I never looked past his evil tendencies & oh-so-pretty face.  And it is a pretty face, as you can see.

The very same CP who labeled Marcelo’s wussiness nailed my problem with dealing with Jordan.  I never looked beyond the evil side, which was fairly well developed.  And then I started developing him as a fully-rounded character.  Instead of being a one-note player, he changed.  Thankfully, unlike Anthony Caldwell, he hasn’t lost his evil side.  Now, though, he has a sense of humor (good grief, he likes the play on words), a cricket team he cheers for and he sings.  All while happily plotting to take over the world, or at least the vampire world.

Jordan, above all, is focused.  He knows what he wants (a certain redhead dead for reasons not yet explained, a certain blond corporate giant dead or at the very least humiliated, control of the vampire communities, and so forth).  To do this, he’s willing to work with anyone, even his rivals/enemies, when trouble comes to call.  Even as he works with them, I learned it didn’t remotely stop him from plotting their eventual deaths.

I think he developed surprisingly well, considering I’d never been willing to let him stretch his wings out, as it were.  He sums it up pretty well in the midst of a discussion with Chris who is, naturally, a bit suspicious of the man who buried her alive once.

 Though I cringe at the thought of calling myself one, I’m as human as the next man, with likes and dislikes, hobbies and a cricket team that I cheer for.  It just happens that a great many people look on some of my hobbies (author insert – murder, torture, etc are hobbies to him) as distasteful.  They expect to see a monster when they look at me, and since I’d rather not be bothered, it suits my purpose to encourage that very view. 

Blood War is not a romance, though there is a definite emotional connection between the two main characters.  I learned more about Chris, Anthony, and the Aristocrats which are plaguing all the non-humans through the series (as envisioned).  I think it’s the best thing I’ve written, even though it needs a lot of work before I even think of shopping it to agents.  I know where many of the problems lie.

So, for a character who was originally only supposed to show up as a one-chapter villain, Jordan’s come a long way.  Except for the whole dismissal of women as an intelligent species and tendency toward killing, he’s actually personable.  And he doesn’t care who knows what he is and does, provided no one can prove he’s done anything since in my world, vampires are out of the closet and held accountable to human laws (if they’re caught breaking them).  As Chris thinks at one point, it’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove.

How about those of you writers out there – have any of your secondary characters simply refused to shut up and leave you alone until you paid them their proper due, a la Senor Psycho Jordan?  Hope you have a great holiday weekend!