Sunday, October 29, 2006

So close I can taste it...

We are two days away from the Big Write. After all the anticipation, it's so close we can touch it now. I am prepared to write. Yesterday I had an hour or so before a gig so I parked my butt at the local Bread Co. (Panera Bread) and read through some of my notes and descriptions. I haven't looked at any of my notes or read a circus book for at least a couple weeks. So I needed to get myself refreshed and get my brain back to working on this story.

Speaking of Bread Co., I don't think I've ever noticed how noisy it is in there. I suppose it was partly due to the location (in a more chi-chi neighborhood) and the time of day (late afternoon on a Saturday). But I was glad for my good headphones, because the noise level was quite extreme. Part of that noise was their pseudo-jazzy-I'm-so-hip-it-hurts music on the speakers overhead. I'm sure the people at Bread Co. think that is soothing and encourages a sense of calm, but I found it to be otherwise.

There are other Bread Co.'s near me that I can go to. They have free wireless. And of course the uber-quiet Barnes and Noble is nearby too, and their wireless is free to me because I have business-class DSL at home through ATT. There is also a Borders, but I've not been there yet to see what it is like to work there. I will probably not do much writing at Borders, however, their wireless is not free nor is it value-priced (I don't consider $40 a month for limited access to be a good value). And I need to be online when I work for research and to get to some of my files.

Today I'm fixing a big dinner. It is likely the last one I will fix for quite some time. Everyone is just going to have to fend for themselves around here after Tuesday.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Amok Amok Amok AMOK Part 2

So as I mentioned a couple days ago, the reporter from the Riverfront Times conducted her phone interview with me on Wednesday. As I sat in my car on the parking lot of the local Shop 'n Save, she and I talked about my collection of erotica, published earlier this year through Lulu. I've sold a few copies; I hope to get it marketed better in the coming year. It's just sort of been on the back burner. Sometimes you just have too much on your plate, and something has to wait until later.

Since I have not seen the article yet, I can't really say how the reporter is going to spin what we talked about. Mostly we talked about size acceptance, and I talked a lot about how sex was perfectly normal no matter what your size. I talked about some of my inspirations for writing erotica, including Hanne Blank, and the Story Guy. I talked about how I'd "found" myself after going to chat rooms after my divorce ten years ago, and how I'd met my husband at a dance for big people put on my Ample Romance (now a defunct group).

Depending on the coverage the article gets me, I may need to push my book to the front burner once again. I know there is a market for it, especially since Hanne Blank is pulling away from the plus-sized erotica she has gravitated to in the past.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Finding Time to Write

I'm sitting here in a relatively quiet house that is in a mode of waiting. My husband's last remaining auntie died yesterday and later today we will go to the funeral home. Tonight is the big Halloween Ball we've been preparing for all month. Hubby is off working (cleaning house for a disabled lady) and I'm off work because of the wake. This morning I chaufferred hubby back from the mechanic so they could work on his truck, and finished up the last of the halloween costume details, and now I'm sitting here waiting for 45 minutes to go by so I can rinse the color out of my hair.

Good time to get some writing done!!

I may not get a full 45 minutes done, at least half of that time will be spent catching up on emails and reading the local news, especially the weather. The Cardinals could clinch the series tonight if it would just stop raining and let us play!! No luck there so far, but I'm hopeful.

This week, and especially today's, roller coaster schedule is not unusual for us, really. If it weren't for my ability to write in snatches, I would never get any writing done at all! So if I only have a 10-minute snatch to write in while the biscuits are baking for dinner, or twenty minutes until the dryer is done, or 45 minutes while I wait for my hair color to work, then I'll take that. It's better than no time to write.

I know someday all this "busy" that we have in our lives will be gone and I'll wonder where it all went and what to do with myself. Yeah. Right. Somehow, I think I'll be just fine!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Some More Writing Helpers

I had my interview with the reporter from the Riverfront Times. I'll write more on that in a later blog.

We are less than a week away from the Big Write. I have been remiss in keeping up with this journal, but it's been a busy few days for us around here. And I'm feeling uninspired to write, which isn't a good thing when you're less than a week away from the Big Write! Someone on my NanoWriter's group asked how we come up with our plots and story ideas. Often, I'm a spiral or circular writer; I have a mere germ of an idea that I then build around. Kinda like an oyster with a grain of sand. I take that tiny little kernel of an idea and cover it with layers and layers of scenes and characters and locations and voila, I have a nice little pearl! Many times my grain of sand is so small that it wouldn't mean anything to anyone, in its initial form.

But sometimes we need help getting something to work with. We might have a grain, but no layers and no idea on how to get those layers. There are helpers out there, and hopefully these few will inspire anyone who's feeling uninspired at the moment.

Recipe for a First Draft

FreeStory - Writing Tools

Using Index Cards to Plot a Novel

BellaOnline Fiction Newsletters

Open Directory - Writer's Resources

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Killing Time

I'm thankful I'm busy this weekend. The urge to write is very strong, and if I had free time, I'd probably have a hard time trying not to write. It's really hard to have this story flying around in my head every night when I'm trying to sleep. I know that when I write it, it will stop flying around in my head, and it will be easier to sleep.

Fortunately, my distractions this weekend include the World Series (my hometown Cardinals are playing), getting ready for our annual Halloween party, and trying to get costumes done for the Halloween Ball we are attending on Friday. That last thing is enough annoyance to keep my brain and my hands occupied quite well at the moment. LOL

Hard to believe it is still ten days from the Big Write!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Amok Amok Amok AMOK!!

I had an email the other day from a reporter for the Riverfront Times here in St. Louis (an alternative newspaper). She wanted to interview me, mentioned Paganism and that I was a writer. Not sure how she found me.

Anyway, I wrote her back and told her I'd be happy to talk to her. Tonight on the way home from work, she called. I had a nice long conversation with her, mostly in the driveway of my house. She started out asking about the St. Louis Pagan community, hinting that our community didn't seem to have trouble fitting into the community at large. She's right; in general Paganism is accepted here, and we don't suffer from any broad forms of persecution. Most of us can be "out" in many parts of our lives and it works out okay.

So from there we moved on to what I'd written. She was very interested in my written erotica, and how I'd started doing it, how often I wrote it, etc. She seemed even more interested in the fact that my erotica was written for plus-sized girls, i.e., BBW's (Big Beautiful Women). I told her how I'd met my hubby through a local BBW group, and how I'd written an article for a 'zine some years ago that dealt with sex in chat rooms. That and my erotica were published under the name of Clarissa Rounds. The 'zine is now out of print, but the editor of the 'zine, Hanne Blank, has her own book of BBW erotica out there, although it is not written by her.

I talked about my family, my job as a geek at a college, about me being an ordained minister. We covered a lot of ground. At the end, she asked if it would be okay for her to run an idea for an article about me by her editor. Well, that answer would be yes! LOL I did suggest that she narrow down her topic a bit, figure out exactly what she wanted to write about. I am a Renaissance Woman; being a Gemini means I am not just one thing, but many, I suppose.

I wonder what idea she's going to run by her publisher? Wouldn't it be cool if this meant I sold more books?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Name Those Characters!!

I'm always on the hunt for unusual yet traditional names. I know that sounds like an impossibility, but it's not.

I read a lot. Nothing bothers me more in something I'm reading than a boring name. It doesn't have to be an exciting, exotic name, but it needs to be something that fits the character and is "different" than every other Emily, Caitlyn, and Sarah out there.

So when I'm ready to write a novel, I hunt down names for all of my characters before I begin. The process is actually rather involved sometimes; I have my 6,000 Baby Names book, but that's not always enough. I like to feature at least a few characters in my books from countries other than the U.S., and they need ethnic names. There are some great name sites out on the 'net, and I use those to get names for those foreign characters. But for my American characters, the name thing is often a conundrum for me.

I try to think about the character and what it would sound like for someone to say their name in anger, or in glee, or in love. I try to match the character her or himself to the personality and position they find themselves in. Sometimes it needs to be a Biblical name. Sometimes something more unusual.

I am thankful there are so many sources on the internet for names and their meanings. Back in the day, when I was in college, we didn't have computers or the internet. I would look for names in the phone book, or use the first name of an author I liked. I would even use the names of my friends or roommates or professors. And of course bad guys (or girls) got the names of my nemeses (as in more than one nemisis) in grade school and high school.

But it's still a challenge for me. This year's characters are being named as I dream them up, and so far, so good. We'll see.

At least in this day and age with word processors, if I end up not liking a name, a simple find and replace will take care of that little problem.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I'm a very potent dreamer. Always have been. Some mornings I wake up tired from dreams that had me in every sort of adventure, mostly unbelievable ones. Sometimes, the dreams are frightening, but mostly, they are just strange casseroles composed of ideas. They come out tasting like something that probably should have been pitched rather than eaten.

Just last week I dreamt I was riding a camel. Uphill. The camel could talk, and his name was Kai. We were going very fast. I was dressed in black Arabic robes like a man. So was the man on the camel next to me. It was sunny and warm, but there were trees. And a creek. And Kai the Camel was telling me stories to keep me entertained, so I wouldn't notice how badly he smelled. I realized that the man on the camel next to me was Jeremiah, the bull hand I'd met in Wisconsin. As we were loping up the hill at a high rate of speed, Kai suddenly yelled, "the saddle is loose, you're going to fall off." I reached forward and grabbed the skin of his neck and held on.

Yeah, like I said. A casserole of ideas. I actually do know a Kai the Camel, but he doesn't talk. He grunts and groans, but he doesn't talk. I've never ridden him, or any camel for that matter. I've also never dressed in black Arabic robes like a man. I've never dressed in any kind of Arabic robes.

The good thing about the dreams is that my mind is obviously working hard on different elements that have been running through my head. Even if I don't use a camel running uphill fast and carrying my FMC, it still means my brain is thinking.

The bad thing about the dreams is how tired I was when I woke up from that one!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Writing Music

We have only fifteen days until the Big Write. It leads me to think about the music I will listen to while writing this year. Music is an important part of how I write; it allows me to cut off the world and focus my mind while the words pour out.

Last year I wrote for thirty days while listening to Transiberian Orchestra's Beethoven's Last Night. Strange and wonderful stuff, it is.

This year, I've got several favorites; I'm getting to be a huge fan of Blue Oktober (the rock group), Matchbox 20, and anything by Josh Groban. Fortunately, I have absolutely every piece of music I own on my iPod, so I'm sure I'll find something worthwhile to listen to. The cool thing about the iPod is that it can run for hours, and when the little Sony Fontopia headphones are in, I basically can't hear anything going on in the house or around me, and I can get some good writing done.

One song that I keep hearing in my head is Tasha Bettingfield's The Rest is Still Unwritten. I know, it's a song about self-improvement, but the lyrics speak to a writer, too. When I sit down to write, the rest is still unwritten, and if I just open the window and look out, I'll get all the inspiration I need to put my story on paper.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Itchy Fingers

Man, do I want to get some writing done!! I've been pretty busy with real life stuff, but always in the back of my mind is the Big Write. Sixteen days!

Every single weekend in October is booked. Either there is a wedding, or a party, or both! I'm glad I did most of my research already and there isn't much left to do to be prepared.

I know some of the people on my Nano Group are already writing. I am just holding my breath and resisting the urge. I can hold out. I have to hold out!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Argh, Every Mailing List is Susceptible

I had to put a stop to a conversation on my yahoo Nano group when it diverged into religion and politics, and not in a good way. The original topic had been skirting on the edge of getting out of hand for a couple weeks, but tonight I had to put a complete stop to it.

I HATE to have to do that. Makes me look like the bad guy. But if I don't stop it before it gets out of hand, lots of people's feelings get hurt and then next thing you know people are leaving the list and the list dies.

I don't want that to happen, I like our list, and am judging by the numbers (261) that people like the list enough to stay. So, I had to do it.

Sometimes being a List Mom isn't so much fun.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Young Writers

I foolishly suggested to the youth librarian at our local library that we should do Youth Nano with her creative writing group. Open mouth, create more work. LOL

I did finally meet with her and we are going to meet each Tuesday during November for one hour to give the kids some encouragement. The bad thing is that I will be gone the first week of November so she's going to have to inspire them all on her own. The other bad thing is that first Tuesday is November 7...if these kids haven't been writing before then, I doubt they can make the 50,000-word goal in the three weeks they'll have left.

All of this concerns me. It feels like it was hastily planned, which it isn't, it's just that the timing is messed up, and it makes me nervous.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Sound of My Own Words

There is a vice chancellor here on campus who loves the sound of his own voice. He can drone on and on and on...until your brain is asleep and you are trying desperately not to follow your brain.

I don't want to be like him.

But the truth is, I love the sound of my own words. Not spoken, necessarily, but my written words. It is not unusual for me to go back and read some of my old blogs, for instance, and not unusual for me to read the posts I make to my own email list. And today, I started reading my second novel again. Like I didn't get enough of it the 19 times I edited it, and the two times I've read it since I published it a year ago.

The weird thing is that I am surprised at how good it is. I've read it before, I shouldn't be surprised somehow, but I am. The bigger question is, does this mean I have a fat head? That I like too much the sound of my own words?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Premise and Synopsis

Twenty one days until the Big Write!!

I thought it might be fun to do a premise statement, and a short synopsis, ahead of the Big Write, and then see how they compare to the "after" of my work. i.e., did I make the goal I set for myself in the premise and synopsis?


And before I try to write one, I need to know what a premise is. Writer's Digest has a great little article about what a premise is and isn't. Here's mine:

"Sometimes when you run away from home, you find your home instead."


A synopsis is typically a longer document, one or two pages, that tell a potential agent or publisher about your book. However, I like to have a short synopsis, in about two or three paragraphs, especially when starting out. A bigger synopsis can be written afterwards, when you are actually trying to sell the book. The Fiction Writer's Connection has a nice and succint article on synopsis-production.

Here's mine:

Emma Sanders finds herself in a dire pickle when her live-in boyfriend is arrested on theft and drug charges, and she's arrested and charged with possession of stolen property. On the surface, Emma's job as an elementary school teacher has given her a veneer of normalcy. Underneath, however, her bohemian style and feeling of not fitting in have led her down an obstacle-filled path with nothing but darkness at its end.

Fate intervenes when charges are dropped, and Emma finds her escape from the muddled mundane that is her life. She runs away with the circus, not as an aerialist or ticket hawker, but as the schoolteacher.

A more mis-matched group of people could not have been found. There is the gay wardrobe coordinator, Robbie, who can't seem to find his forever love, the clown-aerialist Tino who has avoided women for five years since the accidental death of his wife, the young elephant handler Gideon who has moved from an abusive home life to an abusive symbionic relationship with a brutal boss, and a matchmaking circus hen in the form of Mama del Rio.

While Emma struggles to fit in and find her place, the circus goes on, town to town, week to week. Even a devastating tornado cannot stop the show, and Emma finds herself elbows-deep in making sure the circus survives. But even the love of a good man doesn't seem to be enough to "fix" the broken Emma.

It isn't until Emma receives a visit from her eccentric, Bohemian, former Vaudeville performer Grandma Lovey that Emma understands that she didn't run away from home. Instead, she has finally found her home, with the circus. The lost boy Gideon, the lovelorn Robbie, Mama Del Rio, and the fiercely-loving Tino are her family, her place to belong.

Comments welcome!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Laughing is good.

When I'm not writing, performing wedding ceremonies, or clowning it up, I have a regular job as a geek at a college. I run a computer lab in our library, and work with disabled students' hardware and software needs. It's a fun job, especially the part about working in the library. There is no better inspiration than to be surrounded by books, you know?

So when one of our librarians found out that I'd published my first two books, she insisted that we needed the books on our library shelves. Today I checked the card catalog and found that my books are there, waiting to be checked out. And the thing that made me giggle is that I've been assigned a Dewey number.

It's just weird doing a search of a library catalog and finding yourself there, with a number and everything! I could go out right now and find my books on the shelf, at F K298s and F K298c.

It just made me laugh. And laughing is good!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

GREAT Interview

I got the responses to a series of questions I wrote to BETrumble, a blogger who has a circus background. He's been blogging with Carson and Barnes Circus this season. Knowing that no one is on a circus just to do one thing, I kept pressing him for an interview, even if by email, and for his real position with the circus.

Turns out he's a patch. A patch is the guy who makes nice with the public. This can be through smoothing over hurt feelings with townspeople, promoters, or neighbors, or it can be more extensive, like the guy who has to do the difficult interviews with PETA zealots. It's a difficult job, and requires an immense amount of patience.

Now that I know what he does, I can understand why he was rather obtuse in his original discussions with me. He had to be, to protect his circus, and to protect himself.

So having a pretty extensive email interview with him is a pretty cool thing. He did take exception with the premise of my book, in one small way. I had said that my FMC goes to the circus and is "healed." And he felt I was wrong abou that. He was right. "Healed" isn't the right word for what happens to my FMC. What is really happening is she finally finds her place after not being in the right place her entire life. The circus and her "fit" together well. So not healing, per se, but more a finding of herself, and her place. If that makes sense.

So, BETrumble, if you're reading this, THANK YOU for the interview. I am very grateful.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Not in a Closet!!

Well, hubby's been reading my blog.

Today while we were on our way to Walmart to pick up a few things, he said, "should we just put you in the closet for November?"

AAAGH!! Closet?? There's no inspiration in a closet!! No, I'm going to write at the dining room table like I always do! Or at the coffee shop, or the library. Closet??


Boys can be so mean!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Marking that Calendar!!

Now that we're down to a mere 25 days until the Big Write, I had to take some steps at home to remind my family of what is about to transpire. I think in the past three years' worth of Nano, it's been pretty transparent to them what is going on, however, I do still require them to buy into this whole concept so that they aren't obstacles in my path as I type along to my 50,000-word goal.

There are simple rules:

1. If I have my headphones on and I'm sitting in front of the computer, I'm invisible. This means, unless the house is on fire or someone has lost a limb, I'm NOT TO BE DISTURBED.

2. I have voice mail and I'm not afraid to use it. I don't answer any phones while I'm writing.

3. I get first dibs on any coffee that comes out of the coffee maker, no matter what time of day it is.

4. Do not move my stuff. I don't care if there is a five-foot-high stack of books and loose papers on the end of the dining room table next to my laptop, even if I'm not there, don't touch it. These are my research materials and I have them exactly how I want them. Don't mess with my system.

5. I do not fix breakfasts or lunches during Nano. You're on your own. If you can't make your own toast or peanut butter sammich, it's not my problem.

6. No complaining about my 5-minute dinner meals. I don't care if you're tired of crockpot pork chops or microwaved chicken fingers. I'm eating it, so you're eating it.

7. No "mommy emergencies" can occur in the month of November. Don't split your pants and expect me to stitch them up, don't ask me to get a splinter out of your palm, and I'm not doing doll surgery. If it's something mommy has to do, it will have to wait until December 1st. No exceptions.

8. If y'all get on my nerves, I reserve the right to go to the Library, Bread Co, or Barnes and Noble to type for as many hours as I want!

Now, to be fair, I'm a fast typist. I can produce considerable output in just an hour or two, and I'm good at writing in small snatches. But ideally I like to devote 3 hours a day to my writing during Nano. This doesn't mean I'm banging on the keyboard the entire 3 hours, sometimes that time is spent reading, researching online, or going back over what I've typed and making some changes. Nano is about the process, not just the output. Just because it looks like I'm at a stopping point, don't be fooled, I'm not!

Any questions? :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Well, Dang.

Missed another day. I didn't mean to, but I guess things got away from me. We had a bit of bad news yesterday, hubby will not be going back to Circus World Museum in 2007. He's bummed, and so am I. My trip to the museum in Wisconsin in July is what sparked my idea for my novel. I did a lot of research there, and made a lot of friends. It is worse for him, he felt at home there. So, it's a bummer.

And I'm on the hunt for a couple of "helpers" for my book. I especially need a nice, flaming, gay boy to help me with the dialogue from my FMC's friendship with her best friend, a gay man who runs the wardrobe department on the circus. You know what they say, there is no best girlfriend like a gay boy. I may have found one on my NanoWriter's list. Travis, if you're reading, hi! *waves* I had one, my friend Brad in Florida, but he's in school full time and was never very good at multi-tasking and it's taken him several weeks to "get through about 2/3's" of a six-paragraph bit of dialogue I sent him to look at. So, I need to find someone who can work with me a little faster. When November comes, I'm going to need the help on short notice and with a quick response.

And of course, I will offer the same help in return to whoever needs it.

Networking. Gotta love it!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Writing Helpers

I was going to write about some free writing helpers, but I can't find any! I googled pretty extensively, and all I found were software packages you had to buy.

So, I have nothing to report on this subject! LOL

Monday, October 02, 2006

Word Processing

As we are less than a month away from the Big Write, it is a good time to review our options when it comes to word processing. I know many of us have Microsoft Word and Wordpad as standards, but there are better products out there, for all the right reasons. So I thought I'd share a few of them here for people who are getting ready for the Big Write. All of the ones I list below are FREE to download and use.

Open Office
I rarely use Microsoft Word these days, in favor of Open Office. Open Office is a suite of products that provide a text editor, spreadsheet program, and presentation program.
There are two things I like about Open Office.

First, it has a word predictor. The longer you use the program, the better the word prediction gets. This is great if you are typing complicated names or long words; the processory recognizes the name or word after the first few letters, and simple click of the enter/return key is enough to complete the word. Saves on keystrokes and stress.

Second, it has this amazing ability to remember where you left your cursor, even after you close the document and come back to it hours or days later. When you save and close your document, the cursor remains wherever you left it, whether that is in the middle, end, or beginning. This is great when working on a long document, because you don't have to remember where you left off on editing. And for any document that you are going to continue to add to, like your Nano-Novel, being able to open that document and begin typing immediately is a great bonus.

Open Office can be used on any operating system (Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux) and saves in every format imaginable, including MSWord and WordPerfect.

I've not used this one but have heard good things about it. It is a tiny program, only taking up a few bytes of space. It offers full functionality, works across multiple operating systems, and comes in almost every language you can think of (BONUS for our non-English-NanoWriters).

This neat, tiny little app does things a word processor never thought of doing. Like tabbed browsing so you can easily get to each of the files that you have open. It takes up a very small amount of space and has the functionality of most of the big boys. The only downside is it only works with Windows operating system. Languages available include English and Dutch.

Want to work on your document anywhere, anytime, when you have a network connection? Writely works through your web browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) and provides a secure way to keep documents. This product is owned by the fine people at Google and you will need a Gmail account. If you don't have Gmail, please feel free to drop me a comment, I'll get you hooked up!

Check back tomorrow for some writing helpers I've been collecting.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gosh, it's beautiful today!!

It's a gorgeous day outside. I should be writing but it's warm and sunny and hardly anything like fall. Quite honestly, I write better when the weather is dreadful. I think it's because I can't do much else, so why not. Or something like that.

I do have some notes to go over. In yesterday's mail was a packet of information from the Ringling Museum about Joe McKennon, sent as they promised. I'm looking forward to going through it, and learning more about him. One thing I read already is that the Carnival Press publisher that published his books was him. He laid things out, paid the printer, and did the publicity for everything. That pretty much explains the rampant typos and unedited work I've read so far.

There is apparently a lexicon book about circus that he wrote that I need to get my hands on. Logistics of the American Circus is apparently a must forcircus historians. I think I'm probably approaching the level of "circus historian" so perhaps I should read this book!

I'll have to see if I can get it on, THE ultimate resource for readers.