Week in review

on November 4, 2007

So, I’ve had a week from hell. Now, I know what you’re thinking. A) Here she goes whining again. B) How would this be different from every other week she talks about. I’ll state the obvious now, I am about to whine (just a bit) and yes, every week is rough these days but this one seemed rougher. In truth, neither of these issues matter since this is my blog and I can rant if I want to. *g*

Monday seemed well enough. I planned on getting a jump on my mid-terms (which we’ll get to later in this post) but when I came in from work, I found a note in my door telling me the sprinkler heads were now going to be changed on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, meaning I had to move all of my furniture out from under the sprinklers and empty by large walk in closet which not only holds all our coats, shoes and the vacuum, but also all of my Christmas decorations. There went my night. But the closet is looking much better after all the trouble.

Tuesday night the Wee One had a game which meant running around like crazy and trying not to forget anything. Then it turned into the night that will forever go down in history for all Dancing with the Stars fans. SHE WAS ROBBED!!! I still can’t believe Sabrina was the one to go but the fact the judges tried to pretend complete innocence in the whole mess amazed me even more. They gave the girl a perfect score early on then tore her apart every week after no matter how well she did. The fact is, she was the best dancer in the competition (other than maybe Mel B.) and she should be in the finals, hands down. Now we’ll have to wait and see if the petition (which I signed online) will do any good in bringing her back.

Wednesday was, of course, Halloween. It was a bust. If anyone in our apartment complex gave out candy, I don’t know where they were. And we were not about to trudge up and down three flights of stairs in more than a dozen buildings to find them. So, we went to the Fall Harvest fest at the large church across the street and Wee One had a blast because she got to do the bounce house type stuff and we had a cute little hay ride. Not perfect but plan B worked out pretty well to save the night.

Thursday Wee One had softball practice but I needed to be home for the UPS man and ended up missing him anyway. I spent the night doing dishes and laundry and little else. Oh, I did return most of the house to its original layout before the sprinkler head incident. In other words, my back was killing me by the time I went to bed.

Friday was very quiet at work but I’d somehow managed to irritate my carpal tunnel Thursday (a few too many clicks of the mouse I guess) and suffered in pain all day. Once again I had to race to meet the UPS man but I caught him this time. The good thing is I managed to get some writing done Friday only not on the current WIP. I’ve started a *very* short novella for an open submissions call on an erotica anthology. Yep, erotica. I know! What am I thinking? I don’t know but I do know this stuff is FUN to write! LOL!

The weekend is only half over but I’ve already spent my entire Saturday at the ball field. Two fields really. And I worked the concession stand at one for an hour during which I missed my daughter’s team whip up on the boys’ baseball team. It was a scrimmage game for fun and they beat them 13 to 5. How cool is that?! After that we did more bounce house stuff, I got to hang with some old friends and then I came home wanting to pass out. All I can say now is THE SEASON IS OVER!!! *sigh* Thank goodness.

One meeting tomorrow and then it’s tests all day. The best part about this weekend – I get an extra hour to sleep! I’ve been begging someone to add more hours to my day and this is the one time a year, I actually get my wish. *g*

Now, everyone is free to chastise me for whining, thank their lucky stars their life is not this silly or tell me this sounds like nothing compared to your week. No matter which way you go, thanks for stopping by.

Terri…In Real Life

on October 29, 2007

That should have been the name of this blog site. Ah, hind sight and all that. There are several reasons why I’ve been so lax in posting here. A) I have joined the crew of this great new ship and though fun, they do keep me busy. B) Real life is still kicking my ass as usual. Who’d a thunk college courses would get harder the longer you go? Not me. C) Softball. But this is our last week so at least I’ll get a couple week nights back and I can sleep in on Saturday mornings again. I mean, I can use my Saturday mornings to get more accomplished. Yeah, that’s what I meant…

But for today, I thought I would do a movie review. Since I actually got to GO see a movie this weekend. This is about as rare as me getting all of my homework done on a Monday night. Ok, that has never happened but you get the point. I went to see Dan In Real Life and it was really good. Intelligent, heart-warming, hysterical at times, painful to watch at others.

Steve Carell plays a widower with three daughters. He’s a parenting expert, newspaper columnist who refuses to admit his girls are growing up. His middle daughter, I believe she’s 14 or 15, was the one that worried me. Very beautiful, dressed beyond her years and very dramatic. Oh yeah, that’s my child in five or six years. If not sooner, heaven help me.

Back to the movie. Dan has been alone since his wife’s death four years ago and out of no where meets Marie (played by Juliette Binoche) at a book store. He talks to her for hours but she has to leave to meet the man she’s seeing. Dan manages to get her number and things look good until he meets her again. It’s down hill from there.

Turns out the man she’s seeing is Dan’s brother, Mitch (played by Dane Cook) and the three are thrown together in a family house party. Comedy and heartbreak ensue as Dan and Marie fight their attraction, make each other jealous and ultimately give into temptation.

I enjoyed Steve Carell as the lead in this one. He was intelligent, funny (without being goofy) and endearing. He managed to look pathetic at times but never whiney. I wanted to hug him but never felt sorry for him. Dane Cook did a good job but he was playing himself so it wasn’t much of a stretch. Juliette Binoche played a character that was essentially the perfect woman but still managed to make me like her, and the rest of the cast that made up this quirky family were just a treat. Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney played the wise parents who meddled but always with good intentions, and Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson and Marlene Lawston were wonderful as Dan’s pragmatic, passionate and patient daughters. I say this one is well worth the price of admission.

Did you see any good movies over the weekend? Did you see this one and think I’m out of my mind? Do you buy Steve Carell as a leading man? Would you toss Dane Cook out of bed for eating crackers? I wouldn’t. *g*

on October 15, 2007

Goodness, it’s been way too long. Let me see if I can condense recent events…

New Jersey Writer’s Conference
Incredible. Those ladies put on one hell of a conference and I can’t imagine ever missing it. I can’t say I long to ever drive in NJ again but once a year I can probably handle. The workshops were great, the people were warm, welcoming and supportive. The speakers made us laugh and cry, the agents/editors were gracious and encouraging, and the weather was even perfect. Hot in October in New Jersey. Who’d a thunk?

The two coolest parts were meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon (who is incredible beyond words) and having dinner with Eloisa James and Julia Quinn along with the other Bon Bons. I met people I’ve talked with online for more than a year and spent time with a couple of my CRW chapter-mates. The trip was a success and I’m more than happy I went.

Work
New position. It’s very odd when so many things fall into place at one time. Curious about my future with the company, I consulted my boss on a Thursday regarding my next move. She explained if I could wait until after the first of the year, I’d be all set. No problem. Within the next two days, two employees put in their notice and within two weeks another one would leave suddenly. I now have a new job (admin assistant), a new office and I’m SO excited to have work to do. No more playing at work. Ok, so I’m writing this while at work. Maybe *less* playing at work.

Life in General
Hectic and crazy as ever. Two college (online) course, one major ecourse and a child playing softball. Don’t forget about the full-time job. Oh, and attempting to write a book. Can we say “tired”? LOL! I think I have my school stuff under control for now, I’m still way behind on the e-course (probably won’t catch up until some time in November!) but the softball team gets better with every game. Isabelle loves it and I’m enjoying coaching first base. Well, until those little girls hit me in the knee with the ball – that wasn’t so fun. The pretty purple bruise has now turned an ugly yellow-green. I managed to get a request for a partial during the conference so I’m trying my best to get the first 3 chaps cleaned up nice and pretty. Wish me luck!

So, other than the visit to the people ER and the animal ER all in one night this weekend, we’re all caught up. Not to worry, Wee One and I are fine. It’s much too long a story to go into but suffice it to say, I don’t want to experience a night like that ever again. *g*

Anyone else attend a conference lately? Get a new job? Stretch yourself to the brink of exhaustion? It can’t be only me…

Almost ready…

on October 2, 2007

This week is abso-freakin-lutely crazy. And that’s an understatement. Two college courses plus a writer’s e-course all started yesterday and I’m already behind. The e-course is fantastic but talk about a lot of info. The first lecture was over 30 pages. And we’ll have two of those a week. It’s DEEP EDITING by Margie Lawson and the reason I’m doing this on top of everything else is because I KNOW taking this course will make me a better writer. Between Donald Maass and Margie Lawson, how can I go wrong?!

But the big deal is this weekend. My first conference. I’m so excited. I’m also nervous but not as much as I would be if I were pitching. The book just isn’t near finished enough to try pitching it. I haven’t completely decided not to try but I’m 95% convinced I shouldn’t. I’m taking a pitching workshop Friday so I’ll wait and decide that night.

The main thing is not forgetting anything. Yes, we tie back into my CRS. I ALWAYS forget something. I’ve done so much traveling in the last few years I’ve gotten better but still not a 100% remember rate. Here’s my list:

Clothes
Shoes
Hygiene necessities
Computer
Notebooks
Folder in which to collect handouts
Bag to carry around notebooks and folder
Business Cards
Flash – with WIP so I can work (yeah right)
New digital camera (Whoohoo!)

What am I forgetting? Any conference veterans out there with tips? Something I’d never think to bring but would be miserable without? Anyone else going to the New Jersey Writers Conference this weekend? If you’ve been to any conferences, please share some stories. We’d love to hear them!

Momentum: An Amazing Thing

on September 26, 2007

I’ve been writing. Not like before when I said I was writing but it meant I might *try* to write something on my WIP a couple of times a week. I’m really writing. In the last week I’ve written over 50 new or revised pages which may not sound like much to some people but it’s quite a bit for me. I admit I cheat and am able to write at work. Ssssshhhhhhh….don’t tell.

But I even wrote at home this weekend which never happens. In an hour I had 6 new pages. In. An. Hour. Where did that come from? I’m finding I love the changes I’ve made to the story, I really like my characters and I’m enjoying myself. Who knew just making it fun would make it easier? Ok, I’m sure someone knew that but it’s wasn’t me.

So, I’m keeping this short because I want to get back to writing. My h/h are about to run into each other again, which is pretty much all they have done for the last 80 pages. LOL! These two are either going to take out restraining orders or give in and jump each other’s bones. I’m hoping they take the direction I have in mind or this book is going to be a real wallbanger. *g*

How about you? Have you ever been swept away by momentum? Have you been writing up a storm? Shopping like Ivana? Reading like a fiend? Or maybe you’re in a rut and need to get some momentum of your own going. Any suggestions on how to get things moving then make sure they stay that way are welcome. I say make it fun! What do you say?

That Magical Box

on September 20, 2007

I am a child of the 80s which means I grew up attached to my television. I was there August 1, 1981 when MTV started. I was there when Alf beamed into our living rooms, when Tutee took off her roller skates, when Murphy had her baby and when the gang from Cheers said goodbye. I was there when six friends started hanging out at Central Perk and I cried when they closed shop. I was there for the Boob-Heard-Round-the-World, when Regis said, “Is that your final answer?”, when George said, “Yada yada yada” and when Madonna slipped Britney some tongue. Yes, yes, she kissed Christina as well but what was so shocking about that?

There are several ironies in my long-standing connection with television. One – I spent years working in radio. Video Killed the Radio Star anyone? Two – I have always been an avid reader and am now a writer. Stop rotting your brain by watching tv and read a book! And my new obsession adds even more irony. Reality television. Let me preface by saying I do not want to watch some man pick his soul mate from 25 cat-fighting chicks who DO NOT need television to find a date. I can’t stand practical jokes so Punk’d and whatever that show was where the girl had to convince her parents she was marrying a moron are out too. I am, however, addicted to just about any reality show Bravo creates. I say just about. Those rich chicks in Beverly Hills can jump out a window and that annoying house flipping dude needs his ass kicked.

But there is a double irony in the reality shows I choose to watch. None of them are about anything in which I would normally be interested. For instance, Project Runway. I know nothing about fashion, don’t particularly like fashion and will most likely never wear anything fashionable. But I love this show! Top Chef. I do not know how to cook and I know nothing about spices or flavors. I’m an extremely picky eater who would starve in any gourmet restaurant. I still have a cringing reaction when I hear some of the dishes described but I never miss an episode.

Last night my other favorite started a new season. America’s Next Top Model. Why do I love this show? I don’t like watching immature, skinny chicks curse and cry. As mentioned, I don’t like fashion. But I LOVE this show. My daughter loves it even more. I’m not sure it’s smart to let an 8 year old watch this show but Tyra makes it all about self-esteem, confidence, chasing your dreams and seeing beauty where others might not. So, I’m thinking we’re good.

Do you also need your weekly dose of Heidi, Chef Tom and Miss Jay? Please tell me I’m not the only one. Do you watch reality shows? If so, are you screaming at the television who to vote off the island next or do you prefer to sit back and watch the train wreck that is Paula?

Squinty Hookhand the Well-Endowed here…

on September 19, 2007

And I bring you “National Talk Like a Pirate Day”. Well, I don’t really *bring* it to you. I mean, I have no idea who came up with it or how they got the word National on the front but I’m thinking whoever *they* are, *they* are masters of marketing.

Back to the program. Today is “National Talk Like a Pirate Day” and if you’re anything like me, you’re already tired of those morning radio people saying “Aarrrrgggghhhhhh” all morning long. But wait, we can’t be tired of pirate talk already! It’s not even 9:30 in the morning. Well, it’s not 9:30 yet here on the east coast at the moment I am writing this blog but I’m thinking it will be well past 9:30 by the time I post this so lets just say, “It’s not even 10 o’clock in the morning yet!”

Back to the topic. You may be asking yourself, “Who the hell is Squinty Hookhand the Well-Endowed?” Silly you, that would be me. But you can call me Squinty for short. Just don’t call me Hookhand because I don’t really like the sound of that. And Well-Endowed isn’t bad and it does technically apply (take a bow girls!) but it seems a little over-the-top don’t you think?

Where was I? Oh yes, pirates. So I have this really cool book called Pirattitude (thanks to a wonderful friend in Mississippi) by John “Ol Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers. Hey, I just read the back cover and it says these guys invented “Talk Like a Pirate Day” Mystery solved!!!

Sidetracked again, sorry. This books talks about everything from how to find your pirate name (hence my new one) to pirate pick up lines to how to throw a pirate party even Martha Stewart (or Squinty Headwound) would be proud of. You can find translations of everyday modern speech into pirate. For instance, for the kiddies in school, detention would be Davy Jones’ locker and skipping school would be called taking shore leave.

You’ve got yer pirate fashion, yer pirate quotient (Pi-Q!) and even yer pirate zodiac! Here’s my sign of the Piradiac…

Cutlass – Ye’re sharp and decisive! Ye’re also scrupulously truthful, but willing to work on that. Ye show great initiative and leadership under fire while still enjoying long walks on the beach and those fancy drinks served up in a coconut shell with a tiny paper umbrella. Ye likes what ye likes! If ye weren’t a pirate, ye might be a firefighter, a military officer or a livestock auctioneer. Predicted outcome: Aye, ye’ll hang. But ye’ll know ye had it comin’.

Wow, it’s like they know me exactly. I say give the site a good lookin’ over and see if ye can’t have a little fun today. As the guys say, DO refer to everyone as “matey,” “me hearty” or “me saucy dumplin’ o’luv!” but DON’T use anyone’s real name. They are drinking to forget or be forgotten!

An Empty Tool Belt…

on September 17, 2007

I found the idea for this blog in an email conversation last week. I lost it for a few hours but thankfully it came back. Lets say I want to build a bookshelf. What would I need? Wood, saw horses, nails, glue, a tape measure, a saw, and clamps. Could I do it without any of these things? I might be able to skip the glue if I’m ok with some of the shelves not being perfect. I could do without the saw horses if I want to crawl around on the ground which would make it more difficult. I could go without the clamps if I think I could do some twister moves to hold stuff together. And maybe, if I have half of the nails I need, I could just slap it together and not worry if it’s not the most sturdy bookshelf.

The problem is, I could never slap something together and feel good about it. My personality requires that if I build a bookshelf, I must be able to put it next to anyone else’s bookshelf and it be just as good if not better. I’m not saying this makes my way the right way, it’s just the reality of who I am. So, when I write a book, I have to be able to put it next to other books and feel it holds it’s own. It’s just as good if not better. That means I need the tools required to write a good romance novel. And right now, my writing tool belt is sorely lacking.

Almost a year ago I came up with a reasonably simple love story and created two characters of which I’m quite proud. I started writing, made it seven and a half chapters in and realized there was no story. These two met, they liked each other right away and there was no reason for them NOT to be together. She had some abandonment issues that would need to be worked through and he had a dead fiancé he was still getting over but less than five minutes with the heroine and fiancé girl was long forgotten. In summary, I had no conflict.

Now I’m starting over and realizing the problem is how little I know. Not about my characters or about the action that unfolds throughout the story but about writing itself. I don’t have the tools I need to create a powerfully emotional story that sucks the reader in, makes them laugh, makes them cry and leaves them with a satisfactory sigh. That is what I want to create. I must find the tools.

One of the first stops is the New Jersey writers conference in three weeks. I’ll be attending workshops on topics such as dialogue, making the story stick with the reader, forgetting the rules, creating non-Alpha heroes (perfect for me!) and writing emotional love scenes. I have another conference in November in which I’ll learn more about creating conflict and real characters plus I’m looking into a popular and powerful online course that dives deep into emotion and editing among other things. And I can’t forget the book recommended by Elizabeth Hoyt – How to Write the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I did purchase it but I’m afraid I haven’t found the time to read it!

What about you? How is your tool belt hanging these days? Feeling a bit light? Or perhaps so full you can’t fit anything else. Where do you go to find the tools you need for success. If you have any links or how-to book recommendations, please share.

Another big step…

on September 11, 2007

If I’ve learned anything in the last year it’s writing consists of much more than just writing. If you want to be published anyway. In an effort to dip my toe further into the waters and hopefully learn more about the craft and the industry, I’m attending my first romance writer’s conference in less than a month. The New Jersey Romance Writers of America Put Your Heart in a Book conference may not be as large as the Nationals but it’s not all that small either. Authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Elizabeth Boyle, Sophia Nash and the duo of Liz Maverick & Marianne Mancusi will be speaking or presenting workshops. And that’s only the beginning. The complete list offers many more authors as well as industry professionals.

On a little aside, I’m happy to announce I am one of the lucky attendees invited to Julia Quinn’s workshop on dialogue. This is a ticketed event for the first 100 registered and I’m ticket #94. Whew – just made it.

But back to business. In addition to meeting some of my favorite authors (re-meeting Eloisa James Yay!) and gaining priceless knowledge and insight into writing from the people who know, I’ll also be networking. I hope. Which is why I’ve now made it official and ordered my first business cards. I can’t believe it.

First of all, they confirm I’m a writer. Really, it says it right there on the cards so it must be true. And second, I’ve never had a reason to have business cards before so that in itself is surreal. If all goes well, I’ll have them in my hot little hands no later than four days before the conference. If all goes wrong, I could be up a networking creek without a card. But we’re thinking positive here so lets not go there.

How about you – have you ordered your business cards? Have you attended or made plans to attend your first conference? Does the idea of talking to your favorite authors or pitching your MS give you the heebie-jeebies? Thank goodness I’m not pitching this time around. I said dipping my toe in not doing a belly flop off the diving board!

And before I forget – I highly recommend Vistaprint. You can get business cards for free! (plus shipping of course)