50,038 Words Hit! Game Over!

Hit the mark a few minutes ago! *whew* Not that there’s anything to “win,” but.

Congratulations to all ye who typed all month, whether you reached the 50K goal or not!

So now I have a fairly good start on yet another impossible-to-sell weird book. And Dallas just set a record for the lowest high temperature ever recorded on this date–around forty-two degrees or thereabouts. All day it has been snowing, sleeting, and freezing. Tomorrow’s supposed to be cold and clear. I guess that was just a way to get rid of all those winter plantings that the rich people made for winter.

Another NaNo marathon over, another dollar. Except–where’s my dollar?

Oh, and they canceled my aunt’s surgery. She and my uncle were dressed and ready to leave for the clinic when the call came. The clinic decided that it was too risky–someone might have complications, and there’d be too much difficulty getting back out on the roads–so they rescheduled everyone for Monday. They also had to reschedule all the patients who had been scheduled for appointments on Monday. I imagine the receptionist is fit to be tied tonight. My aunt did all that dreading and suffering in anticipation, and now she’ll have to do it again . . . I hate that part. But they were probably right to err on the side of caution.

At last the Midwest knows what we go through when it snows/ices. Sure, you can drive on SNOW. But Dallas never has SNOW. We always have a half-inch of ice and THEN snow on top of that, and that’s why the driving is so treacherous. St. Louis found out what that meant, and so did Seattle. They slid around today the way that we always do. Maybe now they won’t laugh when we can’t drive on that snow-over-ice.

Tomorrow–clear and cold, huh? The ground is still warm, so the snow will probably clear off by afternoon. I got a few photos of our birds (cardinals, finches, sparrows) at the feeders while the flakes were coming down, but they spook so easily when somebody comes too close to the window. They kept scooting into the nearby hedge until I backed away again. It’s because of the neighbor’s orange cat, who is always sneaking into the side yard to stalk them. Well, today the cat was indoors. They really should keep the cat indoors, too–we have a leash law here. But we constantly watch out that window and shoo the cat away, and the birds are pretty skittish and vigilant. We have a fairly large flock living in that hedge and in the live oaks.


The last NaNo day, and nearly there

_Ziegfeld Follies_ just ended on TCM. As usual, I was glued to the Fred Astaire-Gene Kelly dance duet. People think it’s so easy just to jump around and twirl on the stage, but hey, to do that and walk behind the other guy without tripping him or tripping yourself, and stay right on your mark, and do things in unison–t’ain’t easy, Magee. What struck me is that Gene Kelly (he’s always SO HAPPY and grinning) looks as if he’s working hard, concentrating hard, and has rehearsed and worked on the routine a lot, and he’s great. But Fred Astaire looks as if he’s just ad-libbing it. He doesn’t really grin full-toothed so much as wear a secret little smile, as if he’s amused and he knows something we don’t, or maybe that he thinks we ought to know. He’s graceful and light on his feet and looks as if he hasn’t had to work on it at all, that he’s not really working hard or concentrating. Yet I know that Astaire used to rehearse for hours and hours and was a perfectionist, running through routines and practicing steps until it frustrated everyone who was impatient to get it all down on film.

There’s an analogy somewhere in there about all artists and the different ways that they approach art/craft and what they accomplish, but I’m not up to speculating about it. I just thought I’d mention it.
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All night the sleet shattered down, pounding the windowglass.

I woke up a few times to see if the power had gone off and checked my Friends page. I always find a few cool things to quote.

The difference between war stories and fairy tales is that fairy tales start “Once upon a time…” and war stories start “No shit, there I was…” (WARNING: the journal entry I’m linking to here has a lot of what mailing lists call Shameless Self-Promotion for stories/books that has out. Happy to assist with that.)

Here’s a really wild geocaching puzzle for ya. I have no idea how to proceed with that one, and it’s not in our area, anyhow. If you’ve never done any geocaching, you might look into it . . . if you love to hack through public forests and vacant lots covered in ticks and dodging spiny vines looking for a 35mm film container with a sheet of paper inside for you to sign. It’s a worldwide treasure hunt/scavenger hunt using a GPS (great excuse to get one.) You go to websites that list ongoing caches and enter the 15-digit coordinate so you can go out and find little boxes hidden on the hillside and dig them up or pull the fishing line out of the creek (brushing off crawdads). The hidden containers sometimes have toys that you can take, if you replace them with trinkets you’ve brought. If this sounds pointless and crazy, the hobby is probably not up your alley (but a good cache might well be–if your alley is wide enough for two cats walking shoulder to shoulder.)

“I am not an innovator, but a rediscoverer of forgotten goods.”–Thornton Wilder

Palindromic names that I’m trying to resist using for characters: Otto, Nick Cin, Emily Lime, Lisa Basil (the last two perfect for a culinary cozy!) Okay, I already used Otto for Dulcie’s dad, but that was my grandpa’s name on Daddy’s side, so it’s OK.
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48,988 words. And the streets are wet with sleet, and it’s icing over. A good day to plow through and get to that goal. I think a few pages of snappy, pointless banter will do the trick. But then at revision time comes the dread.

It’s working! And I should be!

I thought I’d let y’all know that as soon as I asked for everyone’s prayers and Good Thoughts, my aunt Dawn started having better health. They went to the doctor for her pre-surgical workup this morning and she told him she couldn’t see out of that eye, and he said, “Let’s take a look,” and had her cover up the other eye and look with the “bad” eye through that eye doctor thingie (I’m sure there’s a word for this contraption), and it turns out that she does have blurry vision in that eye, with a white line in it down the middle (this is hard to explain, but I think I know what she means–almost like a floater that doesn’t move); she started checking that way, and it’s improved even since then. He says that her eyes don’t focus together, and until the right one gets fixed on Thursday, they fight each other. After the other is fixed, they’ll have to learn to refocus. She was highly relieved. I also think it just took her longer to get her vision back than it was supposed to . . . but anyhow, the Good Thinks are working! Now all we have to do is hold off the durn ice storm that Canada is sending down here, the one that’s supposed to get here on Thursday morning. (Texans don’t drive well in ice/snow!) I can’t blame Canada for wanting to shoo away the frost fairies, but couldn’t it wait until Friday?! *GRIN*

I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that she would do what I did when I was having problems, which was go around closing one eye and looking, and then opening it and closing the other one and looking, and comparing. Or maybe she DID that and just wasn’t getting any good signals until today. She seemed vague about it, but then she’s on Valium (which she hasn’t ever taken before) for the stress and is just a *little* floaty.

I still haven’t sat down to do that post on revision and ideas for _Song_, but it’s on the list. Dennis pointed out that I don’t want to revise away whatever charm it may have, but the critique sheets that came back suggested that my first line should be better. I tend to agree, because I sorta pulled that one out of a hat along with the Trix bunny, but the original first line was too quirky. It used to start out:


And now it starts out:

“Let’s run through that one more time.”

*grin* Neither of those first lines really does it for me. The original one was part of a thought that Paige was having about the way that the background music of this jingle she’s singing sounded to her–like a line of Volkswagens chugging around a circus tent with clowns pouring out. Of course that one was always weird. Now it’s a line from the guy in the sound booth.

I really DO need one of my usual “What the hell?” openers for this one. That’s really the main thing that the critique sheets said. Must cogitate upon this after December first. Revision is due to the editor–full manuscript, ack–by January second. So there’s some time.

In the LIMITED computer time I could scare up over the past couple of days, I tried to reach the NaNo finish line of 50,000 . . . let’s click over in the Word window and see what it claims for a word count . . . 45,292. Heck, I can whip out 5K words in no time. *GRIN* What day is today again?

At 250 words/page, then two pages is 500 words and four pages is a thousand . . . *whir whir whir* so I need to do twenty pages. I can do an LJ post of twenty pages within a few minutes! So this should be E-Z! *ha*

No, really, I can probably do it. Not that you win anything for “winning,” but it’s a goal that I can say I set and met. And it’s interesting that I pulled the story out of nowhere, based on just the idea of writing a romantic comedy for Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. (Today, I suppose, the equivalent would be . . . um . . . maybe Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson? No! No! No! *GRIN* Kathleen Turner/Sigourney Weaver both come to mind for the female lead, but the male lead is tougher to cast, as I picture him as this guy I kind of-sort of had a flirtation with when I first started working as a software engineer. We used to go out to lunch together with a small group, and we’d usually end up trading quips while the rest of the group muttered about software or anime and other engineer-fanboy-stuff. We were both already married to other people, so we flirted outrageously and I’m sure everyone thought we were having a mad affair, which only made both of us go into hysterics. I think I said my hero Whit could be maybe Robert Carradine in the “Revenge of the Nerds” days. And that’s not very much at ALL like Spencer Tracy, but oh well.)

I think the book is funny. But then I always think that. I got nothin’.

Hubby had a REALLY bad start to his day this morning. I told him that aspects were inauspicious for Capricorn, but by afternoon it should clear up a bit. (I was just making that up, but maybe it was true.)

He really had a crappy first hour awake. I mean, the new neighbor who bought the house behind us (yeah, okay, they moved in about six years ago, but they’re still NEW neighbors, because they’re not Chuck and Darlene and their two girls) got after him when he was putting our trash out, saying that we had let one of our Diet RC Fridge Pack boxes slide over to HER side of the alley and she didn’t want that to happen because the trash guys might not pick it up and then SHE would have to pick it up with her lilywhite hands OMG, and furthermore he ought to stack the sacks differently . . . she had this real ANGER in her eyes. I know this because I was in my shorts and tank top, dragging the old miniblinds down the driveway to throw on our stack. I should’ve bonked her on the head with them. She had been standing there listening to him talking on the cell phone next to the trash, and waited until he hung up to pull the pitbull. (Pathetic.)

The reason hubby was standing there in the driveway was that his boss had called to chew him out for something he hadn’t even said . . . the call came while he was dragging the trash out, and there he was stacking up the trash after he hung up and she attacks. I told him that anybody who’s that petty (let’s face it–it’s TRASH that gets picked up within a couple of hours! It’s not as if we went over there and sprinkled weed seeds in their garden or let the Pom poop in their pool, though those seem like good ideas now) isn’t worth stressing about. He hopped into the car to go and pacify the boss’s boss and assure him that he had not told a customer, “Yes, that documentation needs to be done, but I’m not going to do it.” He DID say that, but he didn’t say “I’m not gonna do it, neener neener,” in the sense that it was being portrayed. He meant that the tech writers are the ones who actually do the docs, so he couldn’t guarantee when the docs would be out. He got to work only to find that he’d left his badge at home, and his cardkey for the lab and the secure areas is with it, so he turned around to retrieve it. I met him out FRONT with the badge and told him to blow it all off, that 20 years from now no one will even remember any of this. The boss ended up telling him to write the documentation and hand it off to a tech writer for polishing, so he ended up having to do it anyway. And it takes this guy an hour to write an e-mail of any substance. The words don’t flow for him on the page–he can BS forever verbally, but not in writing. I told him I’d write the thing if he’d tell me what to write; I used to do that all the time at work. I feel sorry for him, having to support a couple of craps like us. And I didn’t even get the Christmas tree up today, either.

Of course I made the booboo of mentioning hubby’s bad morning to my mother, thinking that she’d laugh or at least say, “Poor thing,” but she freaked out at the idea that a Neighbor Complained To Us and totally took the neighbor’s side, sight unseen. Of course if someone says I did something bad, I must have done it, and twice! She proceeded to start in about how we’re not worthy of a nice house like this one and we’re a couple of slobs and she doesn’t blame them for hating us, etc. (Sure, she’s stressed, and she’s worried about both of my aunts–because the other aunt seems to have thrown out her back bringing in her potted plants–but as she gets older, she just gets meaner.) She went outside to see “what y’all did to piss off that woman back there,” and as she was coming back inside to tell me off, I said, “Listen, I don’t think you should live with someone you hate so much, because it’s obviously not good for you–I can see that this is comparable to an actual crime in the minds of little old ladies, but it’s never going to be that important to me. People who freak out about some trivial thing like whether my trash is touching her trash for an hour until the trash truck rumbles down the alley are screwed up, and when THEY say that I’m bad or what-have-you, that is a reflection on them, not on me. Their bitterness is being projected outward. But your values have changed, and now you can’t understand what I’m saying. Figure out what would make YOU happy,” and she shut up and shoved me aside, heading for her inhalant machine. On the other hand, she didn’t bring up the trash or the condition of the lawn (it’s turning brown! What a coincidence–so is everyone’s! No, it doesn’t bother me at all!) again. She spent the day short of breath. Well, I can’t be “on” all the time.

I got her a Whataburger later on, when she insisted that she HAD to ride with me to drop off the car insurance and pick up a prescription (“You are NOT leaving me alone here in this depressing hellhole of a prison,” etc.) . . . then the burger made her stomach hurt because I forgot to tell them NO MUSTARD. Bad me! No, really, I just forgot. So now she’s in her lair nursing her swollen belly, which *is* too bad. But “Three’s Company” is about to come on, if it isn’t already on, so she ought to feel better soon. She loves that ol’ Jack. Many of his facial expressions and pratfalls give homage to my man Jerry Lewis (and to Red Skelton, from whom JL may have lifted/learned a few); next time you’re watching 3C reruns (if such an event is even possible in your multiverse, that is), watch for those takes and see if you don’t agree.

Maybe I’ll get that tree up tomorrow.

And why has LJ’s default style changed AGAIN? Aaarggghh. The banner is simply HUGE now.

SKIPPABLE: Depressing medical news about my aunt and asking for positive thoughts

I’ll stick this one behind an LJ cut, because gah, you don’t need to hear depressing stuff. But if you’re inclined to send positive thoughts out to people who are in need, or if you have a prayer list, or something like that, please do click through and put my aunt Dawn on the list. . ..

Continue reading “SKIPPABLE: Depressing medical news about my aunt and asking for positive thoughts”

Ding-a-ling brr-rr-rrt ring-a-ding-ding

Got a landline phone call tonight as I was washing up endless plates from my enormous collection of Franciscan “Apple” ware (even the covered casserole, which I do not use for just ANYbody) by hand. It was from an area code I didn’t recognize, and was the Distinctive Ring number and not the unlisted. I wondered which friend/relation could be calling us, as I’d seen most of them or heard from them during the day. I could’ve let the machine pick up, but hey, political action committees and charities don’t call on Thanksgiving, so it must be some long-lost friend. Or an editor. Or an agent. *Ha!*

Anyhow, I did pick up. And . . . it was a contest notification from a manuscript contest I entered in October.

Can you believe that fantastic contest coordinator (and moderator of critique/motivational group “Desperadas” and “Island”) Donna Cauberreux phoned me around seven PM on Thanksgiving (when everyone was sitting around miserable from gorging, except moi, who’d had the usual starvation rations except for sneaking one of the Medifast chocolate energy bars–but I was exhausted from all that driving) to tell me that _Song from the Heart_ is a finalist going on to the next round of judging? !How cool!

Unfortunately, we got disconnected . . . I was telling her that my e-mail address had changed, and there was a hollow sound. I think her cell phone battery conked out. But I didn’t want to ring her back . . . I’ll just e-mail to thank her, as I didn’t get a chance to thank her for calling me.

_Song From the Heart_ is the tale of Paige Campbell, singer extrordinaire, who is determined to become a music missionary/evangelist instead of using her talents for “worldly gain.” (Y’know, like Jessica Simpson of Richardson Heights Baptist Church in, y’know, this very town.) She feels that she shouldn’t use her talents That Way. What Paige is forgetting is that God created the mundane world as well, and intends us to live in it. She thinks she needs to “replace” her cousin, the one who was killed by a drunk driver as she left on her first mission trip. When Paige falls in love with the producer who’s trying to get her to do more work for him in the voice-over and jingle-singing world . . . and finds out that he’s not a committed ANYthing, though he’s got a fairly open mind about religion and philosophy and isn’t trying to change HER . . . she gets really confused. The basic story line hasn’t changed from back in 1987.

It’s going to the desk of Melissa Endlich, editor at Steeple Hill Books (a division of Harlequin).

Now I await further instructions by e-mail as to how to mail the full manuscript to the editor for evaluation. I think there’s a revision period, because they give you score sheets with notes. That means I can tweak a bit. I don’t think I’ll go back and prefix a Nicky Sparks/David Copperfield opening onto this one, though. *GRIN*

This is one of my Oldest Surviving manuscripts. (When I was first sick and going into the hospital years and years ago, my mom and her two best friends came to “clean my house” and dragged all the stacks of typewritten manuscripts and poems and so forth out of my office and out of my file cabinet and got rid of them. That’s their idea of “getting rid of that dusty old paper that disintegrates into allergenic particles.” The stuff was mostly juvenilia and probably not worth keeping, but STILL.) Dennis, Pamela, and LadyJaguar may remember me talking about this on the WRITING echo years ago–it’s the book that almost sold to Questar Inspirationals in Sisters, Oregon. I tweaked the opening in a minor way and sent it off. I think I’ve posted in the past about what happened when I got The Call from the editor there and was asked to change the setting and a couple of other “minor details” and then ruined the book in the revisions. This time, though, I don’t anticipate that kind of request. But we’ll see. It has been so many years (that has to have been around, say, 1987 or so) that I could probably make such a change, if I visted another town. (I knew zip about Seattle when I was asked to re-set the book there. Now I have friends in OKC, Denver, Seattle, and NYC who could send me the kind of info I need to re-set the book there. And my skill set has advanced.)

Contests like this really don’t mean too much unless you actually WIN and the editor wants to buy your book. It’s just fun to get such a call when you’re kind of down about the way that the family celebration did or didn’t actually go. (Everyone fought, and I felt that they were all saying, “If only we hadn’t had to have YOU here to provide the food and dishes, we could have done it OUR way.” Piffle.)

And TVLand will be running a marathon of THAT GIRL over the weekend of December 9-10! I’ve been wondering when the DVD might come out (and since I can’t watch DVDs because they make my eyes messed up after about fifteen minutes, I was also plotting as to how I could watch them somehow.) Now I can TiVo them and dump to VHS tape! Yay!

The show hasn’t been on for at least ten years in our market, as far as I know. It was deemed “dated and sexist,” which it IS to the kids of today who’ve been brought up in Enlightened Times. However, if there’d never been a THAT GIRL, there’d never have been a Mary Tyler Moore Show and a Rhoda and a Murphy Brown, et al. Marlo Thomas’s show was groundbreaking and subversive for its time (1966, gals and pals, when women really DID still wear little white gloves and tiny cocktail hats!! I wore such an outfit as a flower girl in my uncle’s wedding! Still have the little pink dress and the gloves!) Ann Marie said she didn’t want to be married yet and that she wanted to be independent and make it on her own in New York. Most of the stories were about how her dad and her fiance tried to “rescue” and protect her and make her get married and settle down. But anyhow, I remember the show very fondly and am looking forward to that marathon. Lately, they’ve changed most of the TVLand programming to old Westerns (please! Barf!) and shows that were on in my late teenhood that don’t seem to me to have weathered very well. The really OLD shows like THAT GIRL, GET SMART, I LOVE LUCY, BEWITCHED, et al, are dated and kitschy, but they’re old enough and classic enough that they DO stand the test of time. They show you a world that never really existed, that was a fantasy even back then, but that is perfectly encapsulated. The architecture, (portrayal of) technology, fashions, and hair styles are also a nostalgic trip back for me and oftentimes a scream.

Tomorrow’s a new day to start afresh, if you believe in defining “start” as some aspect of the artificial division between night and morning. And it’s the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year! The merchants are counting on you!

There’s nothing I need to buy, though. If I need to shop, it’ll be closer to the big day. What I’ll do is get my Christmas decorations up. Well, MAYBE I’ll stop by Macy’s, but not at 5 AM!