Back From Seattle

My husband went to Seattle last week for a conference and my son and I tagged along for a “vacation.”

Translation: super awesome vacation for my son and exhausting work for me

You’d think we did a ton for how tired I was at the end of each day but we didn’t do a whole lot. Monday was taken up with driving and with some wandering around downtown looking for a place where all 3 of us could eat. We stopped off briefly at the Barnes & Noble across the street before calling it a night. Tuesday and Wednesday my husband had his conference so I was on my own with my son. Here’s a breakdown of what we did:

Tuesday:

Breakfast: Starbucks where I amused myself people watching – saw 2 women in Middle Eastern garb and veil with eye holes in their veils so they could see.

Seattle Aquarium – Saw 3 crows gang up to attack a sparrow midair; they captured it, pinned it to a roof and pecked it to death. It was like The Birds come to life – slow and vicious. The fish, seals, octopus, otters, etc were nice but I had one heckuva time keeping an eye on my son because there were a couple school groups (or summer camp whatever) and a ton of Chinese tourists. I think they were on a tour because they all had some kind of tag pinned on them. It got easier when we got past the front with the jelly fish and the octopus.

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The octopus was disappointingly still that day. And we could only find one as opposed to the 2 or 3 we saw last time. I was really excited to see the giant octopus again. Bad timing I guess. Oh well.

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(It’s Nemo and his daddy!)

Lunch: Aquarium Café

Great Wheel – Nice view. My son was the one who’s been begging to go on it since he saw it on our last trip to Seattle some months ago.

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Arcade – Went on the carousel and played some arcade games. A dad who was leaving gave us all of his daughter’s tickets because she decided she didn’t want them. Awesome! Mini Me got 3 small toys – his favorite (though he didn’t want it at the time because he didn’t know what it was) was the backscratcher.

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Snack-ish: Hubby joined us and we stuffed our faces with snow crab legs. Yum! I very much enjoyed bashing the shells with the mallet. Muwhahahaha!!

Dinner: McDonald’s for Mini Me and Chipotle for me. Yay for Chipotle! Our town doesn’t have it and I’ve been missing it.

Weather was nice. Chilly and overcast in the morning when we got going around 9am but got muggy and sunny in the afternoon. Very enjoyable!

Wednesday:

Breakfast: Starbucks for more people watching.

Took Monorail to get to Space Needle and Children’s Museum. Mini Me was super excited!

Space Needle – Went there because Mini Me voted for it. Secondary reason is because whenever I say I’ve been to Seattle, people only ever ask about the Space Needle. Have I been on it, how’s the view, etc. When I say I haven’t tried it, they get all disappointed and act like I missed out on something super special. The view is nice, but really whatever. However, Mini Me loved it. He loves the skyscrapers and was SO excited to be staying in a hotel that was like a skyscraper and go to the Space Needle because it soared above the skyscrapers.

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Children’s Museum – Went there purely for Mini Me to play to his heart’s content. And play he did. I was starving by the time I was able to drag him away to the upstairs food court.

Lunch: Grill in Food Court above Children’s Museum. Watched Fifa on TV while eating there.

Took Monorail back to hotel to drop off some stuff before heading to Barnes & Noble. Hubby’s conference was done for the afternoon and housekeeping chose that time to come so he tagged along to the bookstore.

Dinner: McDonald’s for my son, Chipotle for my husband and I.

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(view from outside one of our hotel windows)

We left Thursday for brunch and Korean grocery shopping at the H-Mart south of SeaTac, then went on our merry way home.

I was sooooo ready for a night without the turdlet. It was pure heaven!

What kinds of things do you do when you go on vacation?

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Plotting

In “On Writing” Stephen King likens a story to a fossil buried in the earth and writers something like archaeologists endeavoring to uncover the artifact. We have our tools to reveal the fossil and extract it from the earth and we endeavor to get as much out as we can. Inevitably we can’t get the entire fossil out or it breaks etc but our job is to try.

Our “tools” are various things like grammar, elements of style, creativity, etc. Plotting is also a tool but he says it’s more like a jackhammer and should be avoided at all costs because what use is a jackhammer when digging out something small and fragile? We needs brushes and tiny picks (like dental picks I guess), etc for the delicate care needed.

I imagined the beginning of Jurassic Park when the paleontologists are uncovering a fossil and are using small brushes to dust the dirt away. Makes me want to watch that movie again.

So, according to him, he never plots his stories. He thinks of a situation then sees how his character(s) get out of it.

I’m not sure if I agree with this or not. I mean, if you don’t do at least a little plotting your idea might fizzle up before you’ve gone anywhere with it. If what King’s saying is true (and he says he doesn’t always speak the truth when questioned about his writing), then I can’t argue with him on it because that’s what works best for him.

Maybe I’m not 100% understanding him.

I plot. But I don’t create outlines or plot details. For example, right now I’m plotting the sequel to my MS, Night’s Treasure. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll use letters and numbers instead.

Sophy starts in A. 1/2/3 will visit while she’s there (character/background building and such). Stuff happens. She’ll probably meet 4. Then she’ll move to B to be with 1/2. Stuff happens. She’s called upon to go to C where more stuff happens (preferably a Spoiler) and ends with a Spoiler. Then she’s taken to D by 5 (whom she met during her time in C) to stay for an indefinite period of time. She’ll meet 6, perhaps 7. 8 will pop up eventually to help her out. She may end up with 4 as 4 or not. Haven’t gotten that far. Throughout the whole story she’ll have a struggle with Z.

Really detailed, yeah? That’s how most of my plotting goes though I do have a few more details that I obviously wouldn’t mention here. “Stuff happens” comes up a lot in my plotting though. Those details are usually the ones that come out while I’m in the process of writing. But without that plotting over the general details, I’d never be able to get to the specific details because I’d be sitting there wondering where I was going with the whole mess.

If you’re the kind of person to likes to plot every little detail out, here’s something for you:

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Do you plot and outline etc, do you freestyle it, or do you do something in between?

A Light Bulb Moment

I was always daydreaming when I was growing up (still do in fact but now for entirely different reasons) and when my friends would call me back to order, I’d have a time catching up in the conversation. When I did, they said it was like a light bulb going off above my head like in a cartoon. When I was caught daydreaming they’d say, “Light bulb? What light bulb?”

(Shout out to you, HL Henrikson!)

Maybe it sounds mean but they didn’t mean it that way and I never took it that way. Those are some of my most endearing memories actually and over 10 years later I still think in terms of “Light bulb? What light bulb?”

I love those light bulb moments when I’m writing. It’s like a flash and BAM! The secrets of the universe (my universe anyway) are revealed to me! It’s exhilarating.

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I’m delving into the sequel to my MS, Night’s Treasure, and trying to figure out what’s going to happen. But, since it revolves around Greek Mythology, I can’t do that on my own (have you tried to remember every single detail about Greek Mythology? HA! I know a lot but not nearly everything) so I’m back in the researching stage. Looking up deities and places and such, searching through the labyrinth of details. What can I use? How should I use it?

Thank goodness for pbskids.org. My son can be happily occupied in the computer next to mine at the library while I look up gads of information to save and peruse at my leisure later.

Hands up for Dinosaur Train, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Super Why! WOO!

So as I’m looking up information I find a tidbit and

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Makes my skin tingle! It’s awesome when I uncover part of the story. Makes me want to sing Darth Maul’s Awesome song from Lego Star Wars Empire Strikes Out. It’s super easy to learn – you only have to say “Awesome” a bunch of times in tune with the Darth Maul theme song.

Yes, not only am I a Star Wars fan (not so much the prequel trilogy as the original trilogy though I do really like the CGI Clone Wars), I’m also a Lego fan. Do I rock or what!

As my son would say, “What.”

What kind of things have caused the light bulb moment so far? Hmm… Here are some tidbits:

  • Keres

  • Ares/Aphrodite/Hephaestus triangle

  • Hermes

Most of those names are familiar to most people but who/what on earth are the Keres?

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The Keres (singular – Ker) are female death spirits. They sound a lot like ancient Greek vampires. And this before the onslaught of Bram Stoker no less. Awesome! The Keres are daughters of Nyx (goddess of night) and are described as “dark beings with gnashing teeth and claws and with a thirst for human blood. They would hover over the battlefield and search for dying and wounded men.”

The black Dooms gnashing their white teeth, grim-eyed, fierce, bloody, terrifying fought over the men who were dying for they were all longing to drink dark blood. As soon as they caught a man who had fallen or one newly wounded, one of them clasped her great claws around him and his soul went down to Hades, to chilly Tartarus. And when they had satisfied their hearts with human blood, they would throw that one behind them and rush back again into the battle and the tumult.” (Shield of Heracles – 248-57)

Information from Wikipedia.

Awesome, huh.

As much as I dislike feeding the vampire fad (and me being a vampire lover since childhood, huh, go figure), since the Keres are from Ancient Greek Mythology and therefore came loooooooooong before Transylvanian/Romanian/etc superstitions, I’m keeping this on my list of things I might play with in my story.

A mention of the keres was originally in the first book but I ended up taking it out during one of the rewrites. I never forgot them, however, and still want to use them. I just don’t know how yet.

What Greek Mythological deity/etc would you want to read about?

When Doubts Surface

What do you do when you doubt yourself? Whatever the dream is, many of us doubt ourselves at some point. I always doubt myself. But, then, having been average in most things and never having really tried to push past my boundaries (for most of my life anyway), doubting is pretty natural.

One thing I’ve heard from everyone aspiring to become a writer (or author anyway as lately I’ve heard that if you can write then you’re a writer) is that they doubt themselves.

It seems to be a common trait even among the super famous continually best-selling authors.

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“I WILL be published.”

This is what I tell people. Am I talking to them? Perhaps. Perhaps my eyes are directed at them and I’m answering their question. But are my words directed at them? Usually not.

I say this because I think if I say it enough times with enough force, my doubts will lessen. Maybe even go away.

Until my husband decided to give me his backing and support, I couldn’t even say I was a writer without feeling self-conscious. Inwardly I’d condemn myself as a liar and I knew that everyone knew it. Yes, despite writing all the time and working on a MS and getting some short stories published, I still could not in good conscience call myself a writer.

Perhaps this had somewhat to do with the looks people gave me which I interpreted as “Slacker. Get a real job.” Oddly enough, I got a lot of the same looks when I’d tell people I was a stay-at-home mom.

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Or, even worse, excitement and the dreaded question, “What have you written?” Followed by disappointment and that previously mentioned look. By the way, I get the same look when I say I blog. Since I’m not all professional with my blogging I don’t call myself a blogger but I do consider this to be a part of my work.

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These days my doubts are pretty minor because my husband is supporting me. He said he always expected me to get a job and make money but he noticed all the jobs I was able to get weren’t career jobs. This was a foreign concept for him. Why wasn’t I able to make a career out of anything? Why couldn’t I get better jobs?

The answer to that is pretty simple – the economy fizzled and the job market turned to stinky poop. Also, I wasn’t trained for career-type jobs and nobody would hire anyone without experience.

He concluded that what he considered normal career-type jobs weren’t appropriate for me. My passion lay with writing so I had better become a writer.

My Translation: You’re not cut out for other jobs so you’d better focus on this.

Ooookay! Works for me!

Asimov quote

What do you say to quiet your doubts or do you let your doubts rage?

Adverbs and Passive Voice

As I said in my last post, I’m done with my rewrite. Yay! My plan was to start editing it all on Monday. By the 2nd day of inexcusable sloth, I was about ready to shoot myself out of guilt and boredom. The 3rd day I snapped out of it and powered through it like a lawnmower through grass.

Week’s Progress:

  • 6/4 – Ch 1-3 – 2hr24min
  • 6/5 – Ch 4-6 – 1hr39min
  • 6/6 – Ch 7-12 – 2hr48min
  • 6/7 – Ch 13, 14 – 1hr21min

Huzzah! I should finish later today or, more likely because I do have a family I need to give attention to, Monday afternoon!

It’s going quickly because I was editing the old stuff while I was writing the new stuff. And I was more careful than usual while I wrote the new stuff.

My dad asked me what I do when I edit. I told him I look for adverbs, awkward sentences, missing words, dumb things, etc.

I was mainly looking for 2 important things:

  1. Adverbs
  2. Passive Voice

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I have been loving reading Stephen King’s On Writing and have been taking a bunch of quotes. Here’s what he has to say about passive voice…

Stephen King passive voice

He described adverbs and passive voice as things writers use when they’re unsure of themselves, when they have too much self-doubt. They believe they need these things to make their writing sound stronger when, in actuality, it makes their writing sound weak and flimsy.

Stephen King good writing

I’ve worked hard to get rid of the adverbs and passive voice in my MS (not in my blogging though, I don’t care about that). Of course, then I find out I’ve completely ignored the adverb phrase or clause or whatever it’s called.

Ex: in fear instead of fearfully

I’m sure “she said it with a note of patience in her voice” is probably another though I don’t care enough to find out. “She said it patiently.” Hmm…

What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

So I tried to take out the adverbial phrases/clauses/whatever. That’s pretty much where my courage left me. I plead guilty and will be content…for the time being.

What do you have the most difficulty with when writing?

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

I don’t remember where I saw Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira…Maybe Goodreads. There was a blurb about how good it was and then a description of what it was about.

Basically it’s about a girl who gets an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. She spends the rest of the school year writing letters to various dead people whom she feels she connects to and through these letters we see her life and her feelings. She comes to terms with the death of her sister, who her sister was, and her own life.

I was curious so I put it on hold at my library (there was a short queue) and proceeded to forget all about it as I usually do with books I put on hold.

Although the book’s timing wasn’t the most convenient when it became available, I did my duty and started reading it.

And finished it near midnight of the same day.

I’m not a particularly fast reader but the book isn’t difficult reading. Still, I should’ve been at it a couple times buuuuut…I skimmed through a bunch of it.

It’s a good book. So why did I skim through a lot of it? Because it goes over a lot of those dead people’s lives. Laurel, the character we’re following, is writing to the dead people and will describe their own lives to them as she muses over it and compares their lives to hers. I don’t care about their lives. I care about hers. Though it was interesting to learn about Judy Garland’s and River Phoenix’s childhoods.

Love Letters is well-written and interesting. The title is misleading – they’re not “love” letters, just letters. I can hear the character’s voice and I understand her pain. It’s not 2D like other YA 1st person narratives are these days. The author teases you with enticing tidbits about Laurel’s past and her sister, May.

That’s what kept me reading when I got fed up with the idiocy of teenagers in the beginning – I wanted to know what happened to May and Laurel before May died. I wanted to know how she died.

Why was I reading a YA novel if I just said teenagers are idiots? Because I usually like YA books. Yes, teens are stupid, hormone-driven, and melodramatic. I was a teenager too. I am not exempt from my opinion. I don’t think badly of most teens because I remember what it was like. I laugh at myself when I remember how I used to think. Most of them will grow out of it and will hopefully laugh at themselves later in life.

I hope the book didn’t reflect real life though. I know I had a sheltered childhood but I seriously hope I wasn’t THAT sheltered. For 14 and 15-year-olds to be engaging in the type of behavior Dellaira described…Well, it’s disturbing. I’m not talking so much about Laurel though I didn’t like her decisions either. That’s neither here nor there. It’s some of the people she knew whom I seriously frowned over. Mainly one person who wasn’t even her friend. It’s frightening to think that his behavior is based off of reality. At 14 and 15 years old? Jeez… Disturbing.

Anyway, it all made for an interesting book.

Here’s where I get negative.

The style of having the book written in letters to famous dead people is interesting but it could just as well have been written through diary entries. That’s what these letters really are – a diary. It’s like the author was trying to get through on a technicality. “I’m not doing that diary technique that’s poo-pooed on; they’re letters to dead people.”

Hmm. I’m not buying it. It’s a diary. Just instead of saying “Dear Diary,” she’s saying “Dear Janis Joplin.”

Being able to remember the details and conversations of the day is impossible. Unless she has a robotic memory that records events and conversations of the day, it’s unbelievable that she’d be able to write it all down word for word, action for action. Even small actions. And remembering it all when she’s super drunk or drugged? Nope, ain’t happenin’. I don’t buy it.

For me this means the diary-style, sorry, letter-style the writer adopted doesn’t work. It’s not realistic.

Now we get to the meat of my dislike. I said I liked the book. I did. It was a good book. It kept me reading till midnight when I usually go to bed at 9-10pm and it made me cry, feel worry, shock, pity, etc more than once. But I also didn’t like it because the idea wasn’t original.

HUGE point against the book for me. Nothing about it was original.

I have never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, but I have seen the movie and people said it was a good adaptation. I’m focusing on the story anyway and it’ll be the roughly the same in book or movie. That’s the problem here – Love Letters is exactly like Perks. I’m not saying all the details are the same, but it’s close enough that it made me pause early on in my reading.

How could Chbosky, who praises the book and its author, condone her blatant copying? Point out all the details you want and argue that they’re different, it doesn’t matter. I was so struck by the similarities that I kept thinking back to Perks trying to compare relationships so I could find a connection between the two that would show me Love Letters was a prequel to Perks. That would have made it okay though in that case it should have been mentioned. But, no, I couldn’t find any sign of its being a prequel. Instead, I just see an unoriginal idea practically stolen from someone Dellaira calls a “friend and mentor.” From what I’ve heard, the two books are even told in the same style – through letters.

Read it? What are your thoughts?

Hardest Part Is Done

I consider writing the darn thing to be the hardest part of writing anything be it book, short story, article, etc.

Editing can be difficult, yes, but more in a time-consuming and sometimes boring sort of way. I think I may be alone when I say I find editing to be enjoyable at times.

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Then there’s the dreaded query and synopsis. Those are super difficult and stressful but, seeing as you already have the MS written and you just have to summarize it, it’s not as bad as it could be. Mostly just stressful.

No, finishing the project (in this case, a MS) is the hardest part. That’s the part that takes months or years. The rest can take days and weeks. Whoopdie doo.

I am announcing that I have finished writing my MS, Night’s Treasure.

WOO!!

Week’s Progress:

  • 5/27 – 18pgs – 5hr41min – CH 16 DONE
  • 5/28 – 6pgs – 1hr23min
  • 5/29 – 21pgs – 4hr7min – CH 17 DONE
  • 5/30 – 18pgs – 4hr40min – CH 18 DONE

Word Count: 75,700

Page Count: 279

I’ll probably take the weekend off and then start editing on Monday.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of a writing project?