Archive for February 2012

Writing the novel- update   3 comments

I stated in my last post about writing that I’d aim to write 5 new pages a week. I am not backing out on that goal but I did have to amend it. Before I can start writing new pages I need to go through and reread what I’ve already got.

It truly has been about 7 years since I worked on this project. On top of that when I go through and read I find error after error and issues. Generally I’m happy with it and occasionally even impressed with myself but it’s a first draft that I haven’t looked at in a long time…. so I can’t help myself from revising and editing as I go through.

Since I have quite a few pages I’m giving myself two weeks to do this and THEN will begin writing 5 new pages a week, minimum. I’m also taking notes and brainstorming things for when I start writing more.

On another note I’ve had at least two people ask if they will be able to read what I have here or elsewhere. Part of me would like to post what I have here for ease of sharing…. and I would love to get feedback. But I’m not sure it’s a good idea for privacy/copyright issue (I obviously have copyright on it the moment it’s written but if things get stolen it can be hard to rescue or claim them…. plus even having the idea out there could be bad, theoretically). Also, I would be posting A LOT over time, we’re talking about a whole novel and a blog probably isn’t the best place to comfortably read one.

So I think what I will do is occasionally post a bit here and there, maybe what I take to class plus other bits. And if you know me personally and want to read more just let me know and I’ll send it to you.

But you have to be kind and forgiving with your notes, bearing in mind it’s a first draft… and those notoriously rarely see the light of day, because they are so dreadful!

Posted February 24, 2012 by etainl in Writing

It’s all about perspective….   Leave a comment

So tonight was really harried and crazy.

I was down most of yesterday with a migraine. LA is getting to an active age where she can’t completely be bribed with the illicit promise of Sesame Street all day (this worked much better when she was little). (And please don’t judge, I’m very anti TV for children ….  but child care while having a migraine is all about survival).

Luckily it cleared up for the most part by her nap time but I was just sluggish and off my game. The house fell apart (Tuesday is kitchen/living room clean up) and I fell behind in work. Dinner was a hodge podge of things I could fix from the fridge (a few meatballs, cheesesticks, defrosted quiche and some broccoli)…. I was not a stellar wife/mama/worker bee yesterday.

Which made today crazy because I’m trying to do my normal thing AND yesterdays normal thing at the same time. On top of which LA seems to sense that mama feels better so she was at full speed.

I stupidly decided to make a nice dinner to make up for previous nights fiasco (ok really like the last weeks fiasco’s… just have been finding a lot of frustration in the kitchen lately… I guess I’m over the cooking/cleaning cycle in there lol)…. so I make some baked “fried” chicken…. LA took the opportunity of my hands covered in raw chicken to eat the crayons I’ve given her. We ended up with tons of pots and various drums all over the floor as I tried to eek out the extra minutes I needed to finish the chicken and cut up the potatoes. (As a small pat on the back  we did have nice baked chicken, basalmic potato and carrots and homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert… points for me!)

Currently I’m surveying my domain and finding it quite a mess. Last night when I went to bed I also found myself longing for my previously clean (by comparison) home.

Look… it wasn’t a dream… it was real.

Before

And here is one taken around Christmas time (we do not still have the tree btw) but the level of mess is about the same… Actually it’s probably worse as her toys and capacity to spread them about has increased….

Kitchen from right after we were fixing it up (why cabinets are not painted)

And…. I’m totally not putting a picture of my messy kitchen out there! Are you kidding?!

So while I was sulking about this I thought of my neighbors home…. it’s perfect, it’s immaculate… everything is in it’s place. There are no projects waiting to be done…. no dishes that still need to be gotten to….And I sighed from jealousy for a moment. When I suddenly remembered she has no children living with her. She lives alone.

Her family visits and she watches her grandchildren several times a week but no one is literally following behind her to make a mess out of things she just cleaned. At least not all the time.

I’m very proud of myself that while I was single I would try to capture the moment. If I started to get in a funk about being alone or still single I would remind myself that someday when I was surrounded by a husband, children and pets I might miss my singleton power to control the remote, eat cheese and shrimp for dinner and take a bath at 2 am if I felt like it. And I was right!

Not that I would change my life… I adore my life… but sometimes I do miss the ability to make household decisions that only made me happy. Sometimes I miss the fact that if I did the dishes they stayed done until I made a mess…. I didn’t walk in and find a mess someone else made.

So if I was right then I am right now…. someday I will miss this.

There will come a day when Steve and I don’t have to step over building blocks. There will not be stickers to pull from the dogs fur. I will be able to cook a meal without pulling a toddler from the dog water bowl.

And I will be sad.

This time is short… in the grand scheme of things we will move from Sesame Street school buses to Barbie dolls to Mp3 players to boys to college books to …. things left behind from visits.

When she wants me to stop cooking dinner to bang on some pots and pans with her I need to seize that moment because eventually her friends will be cooler than I am… and someday I might be not cool at all. Right now I’m one of her favorite people in the world. I’m awesome. I’m Elmo and Maximus from Tangled and Santa (not that she knows who he is yet) and everything all rolled into one miraculous Mama. I get the kisses and the love… and I only have to share her with a small corner of the world that her Daddy and I deem safe.

She’s mine… and she loves it.

Someday she’ll want to leave… and that will be good and natural in it’s own time. But this is the time to enjoy this.

Maybe it’s slightly exasperating to find that she has dumped all of her cheerios on the floor but I’m willing to bet that in 20 years I’d pay good money to happily clean it up if only to spend a bit of time with her at this age.

It’s all about perspective. So tonight I will go to bed after lovingly admiring how trashed my living room is. I will look at my incomplete kitchen as proof that I held my baby and played well with her today. And I won’t mind that I’m a bit behind in work because I stood and held her in my arms just a bit longer before bed because she wanted extra hugs.

This is MY time to not only have a messy home, but to be proud of it…. we are building a person here! And it’s a full time important job…. much more important than dishes or laundry.

…..she is worth it 🙂

Posted February 22, 2012 by etainl in Life, Mommy-hood, Stay at Home Mom

The Writing Class   1 comment

I headed off to my writing class last night full of giddy, nervous excitement.

I ended up taking both novels first few pages or so with me and figured I’d decide on the spot.

When I arrived in the back room of the recreation center I found a group of six men, one near my age, and one woman, not near my age. This surprised me a bit because most writing groups, conferences etc that I have been to are predominately female. They told me that the previous months class had about ten more students, not sure where they went.

There was a larger room attached with a giant game of BINGO going on, we could hear every winner! While we waited for the class to start everyone asked each other the writing question, “So what do you write?”

It’s a normal thing to be asked among writers but I so hate answering, especially because I write a variety of things and rebel at the idea of being tied down to one genre or label. I’m not even sure what I want to commit to so how can I tell others? So I went with fiction, fantasy, some historical, anthology, memoirs, mostly centering around female protagonists and one non fiction project.

The class started and I began to feel like I definitely should have taken the woman up on the offer to take the advanced class. All good information but things that I used to teach. I actually took a list because I was so amused that these were things that I always went over with my kids. At one point I even offered a couple exercises to help with some of his points. I found myself taking down notes to share with my students… you know prove to them that I know what I’m talking about… and then I realized that there really wouldn’t be an opportunity to share it with them properly (except here I guess). I was then momentarily bummed about not teaching, I really loved teaching the creative writing course.

So after we got a brief refresher/lesson we moved on to discussing the pages of the other students. They had each emailed to the others 500 words or so of writing. We went around the group to hear the notes and criticisms for each. This was obviously just listening time for me since I hadn’t received the work. I was also quickly coming to two conclusions. The first that this course might not be as helpful to me in finishing my novel as I hoped. If we were just turning in 5 pages each month I could easily slack and not do anything. I mean, I have over 100 pages of each manuscript in reserve, I don’t have to do anything to fulfill my homework requirement. Also the discussions were limited by the size of our sample, they would not truly be able to help me with plot points, sub plots and the questions I have about sustaining tension, character and interest for a full length novel…. But I also realized that while it might not be the class to help in the grand scheme of novel writing, it could still help me with writing style, voice and quality… all of which are good things. And then perhaps I could move to the advanced class to work on the larger issues.

The second point I began to realize is that this group of men (mostly) might not be the right group to help me hash out some of the character and plot issues in Plain Jane. Plain Jane is true womens fiction, not something that many men really read. While Sadira might be something those with in interest in fantasy etc might pick up, or at least be more likely to. Dagger (the Nazi era historical drama) might be most up their ally.

So when it came time for me to read aloud my pages I confessed that I had at least four novels that I had in various stages of progress (and just today I remembered two more!) and that I had brought two samples with me because I wasn’t sure which I should do. They suggested I pitch each story and let them vote. So I did.

When they first heard about Sadira they joked that they didn’t want to read about someone punishing women 🙂 (of course not!) but they quickly realized it would involve quite a bit of sex. It was a good conversation and they even joked I should put her in the Nazi story because “Everyone loves dead Nazi’s!” One man voted for Plain Jane because the genre is hot right now but the majority felt that I should work on Sadira because it is unique. No one could think of a story out there like it right now and since it’s similar enough to the vampire trend it would be hot, but it’s different enough that I wouldn’t be competing with that trend. Plus, they thought publishers would like the fact that I picture it as a 2-4 book series, minimally.

So they all voted for the “succi-bitch” as they were calling it. They seem like a good group to work with, lots of humor and interest in others writing. Several of the guys also put in their vote that they would be most helpful in commenting on any sex scenes I would need to write for the story line, they would love to read those first.

One guy suggested I make it a young adult novel because none of the current YA novels have really strong female characters but it didn’t take long for him to figure out (and the other guys to point out) that a story about a succubus is probably not going to be very PG.

Decision made… now I just have to figure out which five pages to send in to them for this first time. I think the first five so they know what is going on. Then I am going to resolve to finish an additional five pages every week during the class….

That should help me get close to finishing!

Of course then I wake up this morning and remember another novel I started a while back that I thought had a lot of potential, until I started rewriting it as a screenplay, about a man who accidentally sells his soul to the devil and is trying to figure out how to get it back… definitely a comedy. Next I start second guessing myself that maybe this group of guys would be more help with that one! lol I definitely have trouble committing to just one story!

Posted February 17, 2012 by etainl in Writing

The Writing Dilemma   5 comments

So as I posted yesterday I have to decide which novel I want to really commit to working on.

At first I thought it would be Sadira… I was just feeling it more.  But then I had a conversation with a friend of mine discussing the merits of each. She made a good point that since I know exactly how I want all the plot points and twists of both Sadira and Dagger to go I should go with Plain Jane, which is a bit more nebulous in my mind (I know all about the main characters but I have some less than clear ideas on how I want them to end up there). She pointed out that if I was going to a class with other writers that might be the group to hash those ideas out and work on the kinks…. excellent point. So now I’m confused again….

I have to go to bed and I also have to decide…

Here is the first five pages of Sadira and the first five pages of Plain Jane…. if you’d like to vote again I’m totally open to it (heck I may need the help! lol)… but I think what I’m going to do is take the first five pages of both and see what the class suggests I do. The instructor may have some insight into what the group can help me best with.

And just so you think I’m just a total indecisive mess let me explain why all the angst. I was lucky enough to have a NY Times Bestselling novelist mentor me a bit. She took me to lunch and went over my writing and gave me some great advice. One of the things I asked her was about genre since many of my ideas bounce from one genre to another. She cautioned me that whatever I published first could get me stuck with that genre for several years until I could develop a readership that would go with me into a new genre or that I could convince a publisher to let me publish a novel in a new genre or under a different name. If my first book was wildly unsuccessful I might be able to switch genres but would have to convince a publisher to give me another chance in a new genre…. so I feel like whatever I pick not only has to be good enough but something I’m comfortable sticking with for a while. And I hate having to choose 😦

By the way… I don’t necessarily expect readers to stick out all of the writing.. but if you do I owe you a cookie or a cup of coffee or something 🙂
I wanted to put it out there… because if I was reading all this whining I’d want to know what all the fuss was about 🙂

Oh and excuse any editing issues this would be first or second draft writing.

Sadira

“I ‘m a home wrecker.”

 

a note on Sadira… I’m planing on changing the name of the novel and my protagonist… Sadira is tied with Penelope in my mind for what I would like to name a future daughter, Steve just has to be talked into it. I mean, isn’t it gorgeous and exotic? and then we could call her Sadie for added cuteness, All American factor… but it will not work if mama has written a novel in which Sadira is a professional home wrecker seductress 🙂


Plain Jane

I

t’s hard to live in a place when you’re consistently plain.

Plain Jane.

That’s who I am.

Removed both texts for copyright safety. If you’d like to read them just let me know!

Posted February 16, 2012 by etainl in Writing

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Ack! Writing dilmena   1 comment

In keeping with my New Years Resolution I signed up for a Living Social Deal with a local writers group. They were offering courses for a reduced price.

I have previously taught Creative Writing courses but I also know you can always learn more and taking a class can be a good way to have deadlines and to be held accountable… so I signed up.

After speaking to their coordinator they said I could go in the advanced course but it was extra money, so I opted for the Intermediate course.

I actually missed the first class when I was in Texas. I just found out this week that my first class is this Thursday and I need to bring five pages of manuscript (preferrably for a novel) and since everyone in the class doesn’t have a copy I should read it aloud! Ack!

Reading aloud your own work is torturous for me… I never made my students do it.

So that is the first Ack!

The second Ack! is that I don’t know what to bring. I have four novels in progress, various states of “doneness” and one new one that has been bouncing around in my head dying to get out. I don’t know what to bring.

1. historical drama during Nazi era Germany.. star crossed lovers etc…he’s in Hitler Youth about to graduate into SS/Gestapo program, she is living under false paper and is a Jew

2. Young Adult novel– fantasy.. hesitate to write this one first as it’s harder to go from Young adult to adult rather than the other way around… so am nixing this one

3. Plain Jane- Womens fiction about a woman who fantasizes about the road not taken. She is pregnant and already has twin boys when contacted by her ex, the first love of her life. The real world is wearing her down and she dreams about what might have been, or could still be. Kind of a Jennifer Weiner/Jodi Piccolt sort of thing

4. Sadira- Fantasy sort of novel… have an idea in my head of it being a trilogy…. About a woman who becomes a succubus and her adventures from there… hard to describe but covers various parts of history and is clearly much more fantasy than 1 or 3

So I have to decide. Previously I had committed to Plain Jane… but I ran into some road blocks and stopped… perhaps that means I should pick it up and finish it up with this course…..

Any thoughts?

 

Posted February 14, 2012 by etainl in Life, Writing

Trying with Tupperware!   1 comment

My friend Carley posted a picture of her attempt to organize her Tupperware.

To most women I know this is an ongoing challenge. Tupperware seems to multiply like rabbits…. I swear I organize them and the next day I open it up to see evidence of the late night Tupperware party that must have happened. Pieces all seem to run off with left socks leaving behind broken hearted cast offs.

So I have been keeping up with my resolution to organize and down size. I have already donated two big bags of clothing and am in the midst of going through my closet.

Yesterday I went through my Tupperware cabinet and got rid of some I don’t need (on this note I’m going to a swap party in a couple weeks and plan on bringing some of this stuff, hopefully someone else can use it and I can leave the party with nothing…. Or one cool thing!).

And I realized my Tupperware organizer is pretty darn cool….mainly because my husband is pretty darn cool and he built it for me.

Open

20120207-131552.jpg

Closed

20120207-131617.jpg

Pretty cool, huh?

Posted February 7, 2012 by etainl in Cutting Costs, How To, my cool husband, Stay at Home Mom

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Migraines… one more thing!   Leave a comment

So in my previous post about migraines I forgot to mention one more thing. Migraines are embarassing. Or rather they always have the potential to be really, really embarassing.

I’ve said some stupid things, I’ve looked like a stoner, I’ve shaken and I’ve had to put things over my head to hide from the light. That’s publically, privately my husband and loved ones have seen me at my worse. Total worst. And I’m just totally helpless and it can be really embarassing.

But while in Texas I had the mother of all embarassing migraine encounters.

One of the main reasons my father was super excited for us to come visit (besides the obvious) was he wanted to show us off to his church. These people had heard ALL about us. They had anxiously awaited LA’s arrival while I was pregnant. They’d seen the pictures and heard the stories and they were ready to meet the legend herself in person… oh and me too 🙂

So I made sure to pack an ultra cute church outfit and we were all ready to go.

I should preface this story that I was in prime migraine time. The feminine forces of the universe were combining with the unfortunate pillow that just wasn’t working for me. I was primed and ready… but I had conquered the one that threatened to attack on Friday. I got cocky…. big mistake.

On Saturday night my father made his world famous spaghetti and he bought me a bottle of my favorite white wine. White, because I cannot drink red anymore, for fear of migraines. I was being responsible.

I had a small glass with dinner. Then I figured, lots of carbs I can have another. Two small glasses of wine, white wine I might add.

Then like 3 hours later my step sister showed up. She had a blast playing with LA and then LA went to bed and it was time for girl talk. So I…. gasp….. had a third small glass of wine. This is over like 4 or 5 hours mind you. I was in no way tipsy…. but, as I said, the forces of the migraine world were aligned against me.

I woke up feeling on the edge of a migraine. I took some over the counter stuff which I save for emergencies since LA still nurses and I prayed, hard.

It was the annoying type of migraine that kept waxing and waning. One minute I thought, “I’ll be fine.” The next I found myself hovering over the toilet most definitely not feeling fine.

It was obvious to everyone I was not at my best but I was going to do this for my dad.

Here is LA on her way to church….

So we get there and everyone is ohhing and aww-ing over her. We take her to the nursery and she acts like she’s going to play. That only lasts 5 minutes before she needs me. As if she could sense that I didn’t feel well she was glued to me.

I was ok… holding conversations and all but feeling glazed.

We visited lots and it was nice to meet everyone. Then church started. LA enjoyed the first song or two and then she wanted to nurse.

I should note that I get very touch sensitive so nursing can really not be the best idea. But she was insistent. I found a quiet corner and nursed her. I leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes. I already was embarassed that someone would think I was hungover or sleeping or bored at church.

When she was done she was completely asleep and I actually felt ok. The pain was bad but I was a little clearer.

I took her to the rocking chairs in the back of the sanctuary. I rocked my sleeping baby and rode out the waves of pain as the migraine tried to decide if it would stay or go.

Everything was ok…. at the end of the service there was a line of church members who wanted to admire LA. They patted her on the head and someone told me they’d let my dad know where we were. Suddenly I was not ok… there were several church members wearing very strong perfume or cologne. The smells suddenly made me very nauseous… very.

My Dad arrived with a friend and the talking was making things worse. But I was ok. One perk of having migraines is you have excellent nausea control. Dad wanted to take a picture of LA asleep in my lap. I figured as soon as he was done I would ask him to hold her while I went to the restroom to take care of business.

Literally as I was smiling for the picture it happened.

My normal powers of self control failed me and I threw up all over myself, LA, the rocking chair and the floor of the sanctuary.

I suspect my father caught the lovely moment on film, I’ve been slightly afraid to ask if he did.

He rushed off to get me towels. I sat a screaming LA down on the ground (not the finest way to wake up, huh?) and finished what I started in a cup that someone had left nearby.

No sooner than I finished than a nice man came up and reached for the cup. I said, “I don’t think you’ll want this back.”

Embarassed… hardly begins to describe how I felt. The pain was bad enough… the spoiling of a special day that my father had been looking forward to would have been bad enough…. but this was beyond mortifying. I threw up… in church… on myself and my baby.

My dad hustled us home where LA and I got baths. LA, had been super clingy while we were in a new place, but she was tempted away by Tangled and let me sleep. After about 5 hours of sleep and some Coke later I was more human, and still profoundly, deeply embarrassed.

So yup, that is am aspect of migraines I forgot… Not only can they spoil a day they can forever make you be known as “that girl who threw up in the back of church that one time” 😦

Posted February 5, 2012 by etainl in Life, Travel