Monday, July 27, 2009

Golf Balls

David had yet another Great Trauma today. He had a swollen jaw that made him look a bit like one of the chipmunks. It put me in the mind of when his father had an abscess, which is what I thought it was so off he went to the doctor.

Turns out, I need a placard for the door. I was right. The doctor prescribed penicillin and said he had no restrictions (other than chewing tobacco, alcohol and fast women) and since he is ten, he went swimming. After that, and since it looked like he had half a golf ball in his face, Michelle decided to take him golfing.

David loves golfing. Who woulda thought it? Personally, and I appologise to all of you golfers, I never got it. You hit a tiny white ball to a tiny hole. Repeatedly. I like Bocce. I love it. Tennis, I get. Volleyball and Basketball I love. Golf... yeah, no. But David? Loved it. He loved putting, he loved the golf cart, loved it. He wants to go again. He wants to go again tomorrow. He wants to join a team. He wants to go pro. (Is there a pro, Mom? I stared back at him blankly. Don't they wear pink?)

So my son has a new sport, and I am happy because David is happy and unlike four wheeling (where his death seems eminent) I think he would stay safe if he followed this one. There is no violence in golf. No contact (like wrestling or football) and no blood or gore (like the martial arts love he continues to support). I must say, I think we are getting somewhere.

But there are clubs. I shudder. I am sure he can think of something bad to do to or with the clubs. And irons. Sounds heavy. And he was talking about opening up the throttle on the golf cart. How fast can those things go?

Better not to speculate.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wild World Of Jefferson

Okay, the title for that one was supposed to be a spin off of Wild World of Sports and I am probably showing my age by spinning off that title as I am not even sure that particular show still is on the air. I don't watch sports, so really, I have no clue. But the purpose of using that title is that the past two days, other than being ill and off work, I should have gotten major writing done.

But life got in the way.

Sometimes it works out that way. I have read enough other writers bloggies to know this. Life kept jumping up, hitting me in the face with drama after drama, each bigger wave climatic enough (and interesting enough to my little writer/watcher brain) that I had to sit back, help others in some cases, and just try to keep my head above the crests.

Life is funny like that.

I am left assuming there is some purpose to all of this. Perhaps Siren's Song is not meant to be completed in a week (a harried, misshapen boob of a work thrown together because its Frankenstein like author just wanted it done with because its first edition sister is finally marketable). Perhaps it is just that I am a workaholic and God himself decided that while I am sick and unable to work, I was, ahem, not going to work at all, darn it all.

Perhaps, I, a mere mortal, if all-knowing being on paper, am not to know the reasons behind everything.

But needless to say, other than blogging, Siren's Song and Blood and Bones sat unwritten. They got polished a little (what, you thought I wrote NOTHING for two whole days??? I carried FiFi (pet name for my laptop... the desktop was Pheonix, and a laptop is like a lapdog so when I renamed it PheonixII, it got shortened to FiFi) with me everywhere... I just wrote no ORIGINAL work. Chapter Five, my new favorite chapter of all time in any book anywhere (aka, pivotal scene that got taken over by character that was not invited to the party... but he is so flipping cool and did some major metaphysical stuff that worked out way better than I planned... um, never mind) got polished and I get all giddy everytime I reread it. And Blood is now all shiny up to Chapter Three. Sadly, when I say shiny, I mean first draft shiny. I am sure, when I do my finished and then walk away and then come back, this version of shiny will still not be shiny. But these are some of the shiniest firsts that I have ever had.

Then again, I have never been writing two books so clearly at once before.

It is strange enough to have your regular home life, where you have your family and friends. You are one person there. You are say, wife, mother, daughter. Then you have your work life and perhaps you are a slightly different person at work. Depending on what you do for a living, you may be more dramatically a different person, so perhaps the shift from work to home life is somewhat more staggering depending...

For me, just now I have both those lives. Then, in addition, I have the Odd Stuff world with Siren's Song. All my Odd Stuff friends trot around, telling me what is happening in their world, arguing for page time, and only probably other writers know what I am referring to when I write that. My characters from this series have been with me for awhile, so they feel free to invade my dreams and tell me at 3am that I am getting their story all wrong.

And then, while I am now writing two books, I have the Blood characters in there too. They are a somewhat quieter lot, as this is their first book, and we are all just getting to know one another. This does not stop them from invading, midscene of a Siren chapter, to insert, "Did you know that she is going to lose her memories in chapter seven?"

"What?!" I the author ask, and frantically pull up my outline. I don't think that is going to happen just then.

I glance at the outline and that was not where it was supposed to happen at all. I look it over and realize that it would flow much better that way and begin plugging away.

No, they are not actual voices, before you call for meds. It was euphimistic. It was just an example, in an illiterative sort of way, of how muddled it can be to try to walk in two imaginary worlds in your head and try to keep everyone organized at once... No one wants to stay in their own story. I think this is why Laurell K. Hamilton, one of my favorite authors, and longtime writer heroes, writes one at a time. To keep the worlds from bumping. Otherwise your characters get fussy and greedy about face time.

Speaking of, perhaps instead of blogging about writing, now that I have the juices flowing, so to speak, perhaps instead of writing about writing, I should write.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Writing and Avoiding the Hospital

Siren's Song, which by the way has been whirring along about as quickly as my fingers can type, hit a major roadblock. At first it wasn't an obvious roadblock. I wrote Chapter Five. Then I deleted it as it bogged down and didn't go where it needed to to fulfill the outline. Again I got my page count. Next day, poof.

It took me awhile to realize the stagnant pool that I was swimming in and that I was going no where with this scene.

In quiet desperation, I did what I rarely did and let the characters take over. I was surprised when a character who was not even supposed to be in this scene turned out to be pivotal. Then he took over the scene, got it going where it was supposed to go and fixed the whole muddle it was in. Staring in shock at the completed bit that was exactly on track again with the original outline, but totally shocking to me, the author and supposedly all knowing being in this world, I again was left wondering about something I have seen other writers wonder about.

When we are truly telling the story, when it truly has us as it is supposed to, are we the vehicle for our characters, the storyteller, the creator, or are we just hanging on to our seats like the reader, listening with some internal voice going, "Oh, that's what he wants to do!" And when we are listening quite quietly enough, still enough, then and only then, will the story reveal itself to us???

Or are we making it up as we go along?

Ah, sometimes it is both, isn't it?

Anyway, onto the non-fiction end of my world... I am still sick, darn it all. The mean, old doctor (My doctor is neither mean, nor old, if you want accuracy in reporting. He actually puts one in the mind of a pirate and is quite nice. However as he is the one that orders people to come at you with pokey things and other torture devices and pills and such, Mean and Old in this case were suggestive of my feelings toward medicine in general, not towards my nice, young, pirate-looking doc. Sorry, doc) requested more tests, which, by the way, are far too degrading for me to even list. As I am in very nearly excruciating pain tonight, I am sure I probably should have gotten said tests at the hospital today, as ordered. However... yeah, I didn't. Again, I reiterate, exceptionally degrading tests. Instead, I filled the prescription he gave me (only 24 hrs later than he requested) and started the meds (about 34 hrs later than he requested) and hopefully the pain will subside. (Because he is a pirate and I am sure, even without testing, the medicine I don't want to take, but have finally started taking will work.

But the kids have loved having me home. We have finished reading aloud Odd Stuff and all that I have written on Sirens and they are chomping at the bit for me to finish Sirens and Blood. However they have conceded (grudgingly) that perhaps I can only be expected to produce a chapter or so a day. Per book.

If I ever become a terribly famous writer and am given deadlines, I feel I will be prepared as no publisher or editor can compare to the kids.

Most mothers have kids who are saying things along the lines of, "Mom, is dinner done yet?"

Not mine. For mine it is, "Mom, Finish the Book!"

Blood and Bones Teaser

For those of you who are following the writing journey, this is chapter one of the YA title I have been working on. I almost posted the Prologue, but it is too... good and I don't want it to get accidentally stolen. Regardless, here is the teaser of the one I am querying now, Blood and Bones, now that Odd Stuff is in edits with the publiser. Without further preamble, Blood and Bones:
Chapter One

At the end of the day we are all just blood and bones. Lying in the dirt road while rain splattered my upturned face and turned the dirt to mud, I have to admit my greatest complaint was the rock that was wedged near my spine. It was a minor irritation, but given the circumstances, I was happy to lie there, rock and all, in the wet and not dying at the moment. I felt like little more than a bag of blood and bones, lying there, hoping that she was not coming to kill me, and hating that stupid rock.
Perhaps I should begin a bit further back in the story. It all began when my mother got sick. The doctors in the hospital worked over her and I stood in the hushed halls and listened to them whisper over me almost as if they thought I was not a person. I saw in their eyes what they did not have the courage to say to my face. They looked at me and thought to themselves, poor little girl. And then with their eyes they would toss the responsibility between themselves as to who would tell me she was dying. I knew without the words. I knew from their sad eyes. I knew from her limp hands. I knew because instead of her skin smelling of warm lilacs it smelled cold. Cold like the medicine that dripped into her skin through the IV’s.
I was supposed to go straight to my aunts’ house after school. Instead, though, I usually walked up to the hospital and sat next to my mother. She was usually tired. She was always tired these days, which seemed unfair as she spent her days in bed dying. You would think that if you had to lie in bed and die, at least you could be awake enough to see it coming. Or maybe it was for the best that she was out of it most of the time. It probably made it easier on her. Anyway, I would sit with her, and talk to her of what ever banal things had happened at school. High school, especially senior year, is supposed to be a big deal. Somehow it wasn’t, at least not when you had all this. But I could pretend. Or lie. I was a fantastic liar.
After visiting mom, I would walk home. I wasn’t supposed to go home, not with no one there now that mom was in the hospital all the time. I guess this was because it wasn’t considered safe because of the neighborhood, but I had grown up here, so this never really stopped me. Everyone in Witch’s Bellows knew that our neighborhood had few humans. On our street, I think we were the only all human family left. It seemed stupid to me in our supposedly modern and all accepting era that segregation was this prevalent, but that was the way it had been as long as I knew.
As I walked I shuffled my feet. In government today we had just gone over the great novel flu’s, which had wiped out huge portions of humanity and allowed all that was other to finally come forth and admit to being Other. Witches, goblins and monsters, oh my, I thought with a glance at the windows on my street, which looked just like any other street. But we lived in a neighborhood that had been bought out over the years by the supposed boogiemen, and the humans had slowly moved out. Except us.. Our family had always lived on ..
564 Oak Street..; as a matter of fact my great-grandfather had built this house. Mom had said that we always would too, but if she died and it was just me left, I wondered if some other family would move in. And then there would be no humans left here at all.
I rubbed at my eyes. I never cried, hadn’t through all of this, but sometimes when I thought too hard about all that was going on I got an itchy feeling behind my eyes and a bit of a headache. I was beginning to think that there was something wrong with me because of it.
I came at last to our house, painted in cheerful blues and burgundy. It had shutters and a porch swing and sometimes just looking at it made me sigh and feel better. Today wasn’t going to be one of those days. I slogged up the steps, listening to the thud, thud, thud, of my dragging backpack and unlocked the door. I dropped my bag and listened to the silence that greeted me. Had things been normal, Mom would have greeted me, both vocally and with the scent of whatever she was burning for dinner. I sighed. She wasn’t dying. There had to be a way around this. I kicked the coffee table.
She had been worse today. I could tell she was worse today. Human medicine was not curing her. They had months now that they had poked, prodded, tested and nothing they had done had made my mother any better. Maybe it was because I had grown up knowing that there were witches and fairies and monsters out there. Maybe it was because she was my mother and the last member of my immediate family and if she left me I would be alone and I couldn’t bear the thought of a world without her laugh. Whatever the reason, lately I had been wondering if the witches had answers that might make her better.
There were rumors about my neighbors. Some of them were made up tales from fear and stupidity, I was adult enough to realize. But I was also child enough to know that from even the most made up stories there is usually a grain of truth. And down the road lived an old woman and her son. In their yard was a plum tree. No one was supposed to touch Mrs. Fitzsimons plums.
I shuffled into the kitchen and sat at the kitchen table and began to draw circles on the table cloth with my fingers as I plotted.
Mrs. Fitzsimons lived two doors down and her plum tree bloomed nearly year round. The plums on that tree grew to look so good that you had this driving need to pluck one and eat it. I don’t really care for plums and yet ever since I was a kid, I had wanted one. The story went, though, that they had strange powers. The stories around town said that they had magic powers like granting wishes, making sick people well, eternal life, whatever powers the storyteller chose to grant them. Of course since everyone knew now that Mrs. Fitzsimons is a witch, chances were pretty darn good that they were imbibed with some sort of magic, the question was what kind.
So, what I would do is steal one of the plums and bring it to my mother and see if it helped. The worst thing that could happen would be that it wouldn’t help. Which since nothing else was helping anyway, didn’t seem to be a big negative. And at least I would be doing something rather than just helplessly watching her die.
This decided; I crept out the back door. If I snuck across back yards, I figured I had a better shot. Most people tried to get to the tree, which was in her side yard, from the front. If I went in from the back, maybe I could get one and get out before I would get caught. And besides, she was old. What are the chances she could catch me anyway?
I later regretted that particular thought.
I crept through the trees and past a bird bath. I jumped my neighbors’ chain-link fence and dodged a Pekinese. The small dog in question did not bark at me as it might have an outsider intruder. Again, I had grown up here; this was my home. The dog knew me. And, also, I had always had a way with animals. Animals weren’t like people. People believed all my lies. Animals looked at you; saw the truth, even if it was ugly. Animals, I often thought, were smarter than their owners.
I was now in the witch’s back yard. It had a small kitchen garden, which seemed to be mostly herbs and vegetables, and a white mulberry tree. I glanced up at the windows, but the angle of the sun threw my reflection back at me and did not allow me to see inside. Her house was a two story, and even older than our own. Her house was also far more expensive than our own, and one could use grand adjectives like stately and majestic when describing her house. Our house could be described as homey and comfortable.
I thought to myself, on a quick, slightly panicky breath, that perhaps a real estate agent might use just those words if I failed and mom died. This helped my failing courage a little. I had never stolen so much as an eraser in my life and, to be honest, I was a bit terrified. I guess if you are going to take a first attempt at burglary at almost eighteen, picking a witch as a target isn’t terribly clever.
I cowered behind the mulberry tree, using it for cover, and looked at the plum tree. It stood, its limbs hanging twisted toward the sky in an almost grotesque way, hanging heavy with purple fruit. I only needed one. I decided my best bet was a grab and dash and ran full tilt back for the tree. Then to try to dash back across the yards and to try to casually walk back the way I had come to the hospital.
I held my breath, closed my eyes, and dashed.
I was stopped and the wind gushed out of me, when I hit a large, very male, chest.

City Mouse; Country Mouse

Things you learn living in a small town and moving away in Ohio by Virginia Nelson1. There really are places in the world with potholes big enough to eat your car.2. Some of these places are in downtown Warren on district lines that neither city nor township lay claim to.3. There really are places where everybody knows your name in the country.4. Being in these places is not always to be desired.5. There really are parking lots big enough to lose your car in.6. Some of them happen to be... um, where I work.7. There really are stores that still do not carry ATMs and do not accept any plastic. ANY. You have to leave the store, go else where, get cash, go back and get your purchase. And they are the only flipping store with in a half a flipping hour drive that carry anything simialar to what you want. And they probably close at like nine pm. Because God knows, no one buys anything after nine pm.8. Most of these stores are in Ashtabula County.9. If you are in the Youngstown Warren Area, there are cows within a twenty minute drive of where you live and work. And wide open spaces. And homes that are not in a flood plain.10. If you live in Ashtabula county you are within about a fourty minute drive of a major metro area in many directions. One of them is south. There are Starbucks. Contrary to popular belief the world does not end at the county line. And there are jobs there. And less snow. Like a lot less snow. You have no idea how much less snow.There are a few people this blog is aimed at. If you live in one of these areas and are offended by this blog but do not know why I wrote it, you are not one of them. If you are laughing, you got it.

Odd Stuff Has A Contract Offer!

July 2, 2009 - Thursday
Odd Stuff has a contract offer!!! Current mood: triumphant Category: Writing and Poetry
I am so stupid happy. Ashton and I danced around the livingroom and then I threw up a little and cried a little. And then I called about a hundred people who spent about a hundred hours each reading Odd Stuff in all of her stages of growth. But what it all boils down to is finally, after questioning my sanity, my ability, I get this, only slightly modified for blogsake, letter for my trouble:
Hi Virginia,
Thank you for your recent submission. Blankety Blank Publishing House would like to offer a contract for the manuscript, Odd Stuff. If the work is still available and you would like to move forward, please respond to me with your legal name, pen name and full snail mail address and we will begin contract discussions.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
We look forward to working with you.(insert many hysterical giggles here)