Friday, August 31, 2007

Bittersweet

Today is my last day of work at this job. I've been here for two and a half years. Am I sad? Yeah, a little. I love my co-workers. Fortunately, we're the type that keep in touch quite well with lunches, emails, and after hours get-togethers.

I've learned so much at this job, and I have to admit, my writing has improved dramatically. That happens when you are forced to write every single day. While I am moving on to a copyediting job, it will be different than what I've been doing, but that's ok. I'm ready for a change.

I don't think it's hit me yet. I've been so caught up with preparing for the new job and planning my vacation, not to mention finishing the novel and getting it in the mail, that it hasn't sunk in yet. But I'm sure it will when I walk out that door for the last time. It will definitely be a bittersweet moment.

The weekend plans include lots of football and relaxation. It's Labor Day on Monday here in the States, so it's a three-day weekend for a lot of people. I plan to make the most out of it. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Signs of Autumn


The temperatures dropped last night to a very comfortable 56 degrees or so. Today, our highs are supposed to be in the low 80's.

I can live with that.

We've had some truly sweltering days this summer and I, for one, was miserable. When you combine heat and humidity, well, let's just say I'm not a good person to be around.

The Huskers have their opening game Saturday and I can't wait. This is the only college sport I enjoy watching (plus it's my alma mater), and we're supposed to have a stellar quarterback this season. My stepson also has his first game this weekend and he's the quarterback for his Midget football team. Should be a good time. I anticipate some junk food and my husband yelling at the t.v. :-)

Cooler weather, school's in session, and football - definite signs of fall. I can already see my mood improving. :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Because You Can Never Look At It Enough

Seriously. How can I not look at this and think,
Wow. I wrote that.
P.S. - Don't forget to look at yesterday's post. It's a video! (One that I should have sent to America's Funniest Home Videos!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure

A few years ago, we made the trek to the Omaha Zoo. And if you have been reading this blog long enough, you'll remember the story of how the white tiger decided to lift his tail and teach me a lesson.

And at long last, here is the video:


video

Saturday, August 25, 2007

News Update



The book is done, done, DONE.

I didn't come up with an idea to fix the second half of the book for one reason: the second half of the book is going to be its own book. When I had my critique partners read it oh, about three months ago, they said that my book naturally ended at the conclusion of part one and that the second part felt "tacked on." Well, me, being the stubborn Italian that I am, thought that they were wrong and the second half needed to be included.

But I took a long, hard look at it and I realized that they were right. But my characters' story isn't finished yet - and that is why there will be a sequel.

I don't know why I was so resistant to this idea before. I think it's because I dearly loved the second part of the book and didn't want to let it go. But you know what they say - "murder your darlings."

So I gave the manuscript one more read-through and I can honestly say that I love this story. I feel it's strong, heartwarming, and well, good. I'm excited to see what the agent thinks. And best of all? I have a sequel in the works that is going to be so much fun to write. It's going to require more research into postwar Berlin, but hey - that's not a problem for a historian!

Other News...

It's been a crazy, busy week. I found another job and I'm very excited. I'll be working as a copyeditor now in a place only five minutes from my house. The people are great and so is the company. It was rather sad to give my notice at my old job - I'd been there for two and a half years. But it was time to go.

But I am in need of a vacation before I start the new job, so I'm off to western Nebraska over Labor Day weekend. I plan on staying for a week, visiting all of my family and maybe sneaking up to Fort Robinson (where my novel takes place) and making sure I got all the details right. :-)

Hubby's doing fine in his walking cast - thank goodness he doesn't need to worry about crutches. I'm hopeful that his job interview on Monday goes well.

I'd like to say I want to take a break now that the novel is done, but here's the thing - I don't want to! There are too many wonderful ideas floating around in my head. I plan on starting my Italian Duet novel and working on the outline for the sequel to the novel I just finished. I'm much happier when I'm writing, so why deny myself? ;-)

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, August 23, 2007

You're Not Going to Believe This

My husband broke his foot.

You don't believe me, do you.

I wish I were fooling.

I'm not.

He has to have a booted cast on for six weeks.

Isn't life grand?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Storms and Golf Courses



Big, huge thunderstorm last night. Wind gusts up to 80 mph. (No, I'm not kidding). Hail. Fierce rain. Lightning. Thunder.

It was a bit scary.

While I love thunderstorms, storms of this power and magnitude are a bit scary. Tornados are always a possibility in this area and the strong winds can do a lot of damage.

(This picture isn't from our storm, but we did have golf-ball sized hail last night).

My daughter usually loves storms, too, but this one was a bit too much for her. This morning on the way to school, we listened to the radio and heard reports from last night's weather - trees falling on houses and cars, power outages, and golf-ball sized hail. My daughter listened with interest and then proceeded to ask me a question.

"Mom, why did the storm go to the golf course?"

How do you not chuckle at that?

Well, I did chuckle. But then I also realized how we made another memory this morning.

Some day, I'll be driving her to high school and she'll be checking her hair in the mirror (or not, since she hates to have her hair combed and is quite the tomboy, but you never know...) and she'll be flipping the radio stations to listen to her favorite songs, telling me about the latest cute guy at school, and maybe I'll say, "Remember that day you asked me why the storm went to the golf course?"

I hope she gets a big grin on her face and says, "Yes! Wasn't that funny?" and doesn't roll her eyes at me and say, "Mom! Don't even mention that again!"

But even if she does do the latter, I'll always remember the day the storm made a special trip to the golf course—and created a special memory in my heart.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Typing "The End"


I finished the novel yesterday. I had to turn down a game of Scrabble with my husband to do it, but hey, we all gotta make sacrifices (besides, hubby usually kicks my tush in that game).

But while I lay in bed last night, it hit me that there was something missing from the last 1/4 of the novel. This book is structured differently than anything I've ever done before, to the point that I've broken it into "part one" and "part two." Well, part one is solid - it's got the rising action, the major plot points, the black moment, and the resolution without resolving all the issues. Well, part two needs to resolve those issues - but it also needs to have its own black moment.

And it doesn't.

So I'm trying to figure out what to do.

I'm frustrated with myself for not seeing this sooner. I think I was so focused on "getting it done" that I ignored my writer's instinct. And now it's come back to haunt me. I couldn't get to sleep last night (not a good thing since today was the first day of school and I had to be up and at 'em!) because I kept running different scenarios through my mind on how to fix this.

This is what happens when you focus on deadlines and don't pay attention to the craft.

Lesson learned.

The writing journey is full of little bumps and detours that, in the end, make me a better writer. And really, that's ok. Life's lessons are not always pleasant, but that's how we learn and grow.

So I'm off to grow some more!

Have a great Monday...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Still Going...

Well, I didn't finish the novel edits yet. But this weekend should allow me more than enough time to get them done. So I guess I'll miss my deadline by a few days, but hey, that's not too bad, is it?

Besides, it's Friday. And you cannot be hard on yourself on Friday.

What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

At Last!

The wound vac is off.

The antibiotics are stopped.

No further skin graft needed.

And hubby is cleared to work!

Wooooooo hooooooooooooo!

We made it! Thanks for all your thoughts, good wishes, emails, and prayers over the past two months. They meant the world!

The Frustration Mounts


What is going on? Last night I could barely write. I tried and tried to get this scene to work and it refused. So I gave up, went to bed, and suddenly, there was the solution. I wrote it down and thought, ok, got that taken care of, I'll just write the new scene tomorrow.


Well, I'm trying to write that scene (yes, work is a bit slow) and be darned if I can get the words to flow. Am I getting antsy for this to be over and done with and sent in to the agent? Perhaps.


So I'm listening to Frank Sinatra and trying to work my way through this.


And waiting for my husband to call with the report on his arm.


Maybe that's why I'm unnerved. I really, really, REALLY do not want him to go back to the hospital for additional surgery...

Will post more when I know more! :-)


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Countdown Continues...

Thanks so much for all your motivational quotes! I loved each and every one!

I'm still hard at work - I wish I had a couple more full days to devote to it, but the day job has to take precedence right now. No vacation time for me yet! :-)

I'm quite encouraged, however, by this article on the resurgence of World War II fiction:

For You, Reader, the War is Just Beginning...

Thanks to Ello for the link!

In other news, it's hot, hot, hot here. We were supposed to have a heat index of 112 today. I don't think it got that high, but it's still miserable all the same. Anyone who knows me understands how much I loathe heat. I go from one air conditioned building (or vehicle) to the next during the summer and that's just the way I like it.

My stepson has football practice every evening this week - full pads! I don't envy him in the least! But he's half-Greek, so he's probably taking to it just fine! ;-)

Hubby visits the plastic surgeon tomorrow, so we will know whether or not he will have another skin graft. It's looking quite likely, but we'll see.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Will She Make the Deadline?


The ticker says four days until the novel edits are finished.

Think I can do it?

That's about all I did this weekend - write. And I'm thinking four days should be just about enough time to wrap it up. But I need all the motivation I can get!

So if you could kindly post your most motivating quote, I would be quite grateful!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Writing the Tough Scenes


Despite being at my laptop for more than three hours last night, I only ended up writing one scene. I wrote a few paragraphs, then realized that wasn't what I was trying to convey, then wrote a few more. Those inevitably were devoured by the delete button, and on and on the process went.

This was a pivotal scene. All the elements needed to be exactly right. And the only way I was going to get it right was to write it over and over again. So I did.

When I finally shut off the laptop last night - somewhere after 11 p.m. - I was quite satisfied with my work. Sure, it took me awhile. But such important scenes deserve more of our attention. If we don't get it right, then the rest of the story will collapse around it. Think of pivotal scenes - the black moment or a character revelation or a revealing plot point - as the steel beams in your novel. If they're not strong, the rest of the story will be rather flimsy.

When was the last time you tackled a particularly tough scene? How did you get through it?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yeah, I'm a Little Excited


Ken Burns, the incredibly talented documentary film maker, is launching his latest masterpiece on September 23, 2007. Simply entitled The War, this seven-part series is about World War II from the perspective of four American towns as well as the soldiers fighting overseas. It promises to be a must-see event.
For more information, check out PBS - The War.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Quick Update

Sigh...

Well.

The skin graft didn't take. The part that covers his first wound is fine - but the skin that covered his second wound - near the area where his arm bends - isn't working out so well. So. The doc is giving it one more week and if he doesn't see a vast improvement, it's back to the hospital for hubby and another skin graft.

He's still on antibiotics and will be for some time - not sure how long. Haven't heard the latest on that yet since that is an entirely different doctor.

Anyone want to donate a trip to Italy???

:-)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Meme

Rene tagged me for this meme. I have to be honest. I'm feeling rather cynical this afternoon since I'm facing all the doctor's bills and unpaid mortgage bills and getting the runaround from way too many people. So! Without further ado, here ya go.

Four things that should go into Room 101 and be removed from the face of the earth:

1. Staph bacteria (to read why, well, just go read my blog posts from the past two months)
2. Outrageous medical bills.
3. Phone calls from people wanting money and telling me I should ask my relatives to pony up.
4. Humidity

3 things people do that make you want to shake them violently:
1. Drive while talking on their cell phone
2. Ignore the rules
3. Judge others

Two things you find yourself moaning about:

1. My weight
2. Finances

One thing the above answers tell you about yourself:

I've had a very, very long summer and need a vacation to Italy.

Rules:
Link to the original meme at freelancecynic.com so people know what it’s all about!Be as honest as possible, This is about letting people get to know the real you!Try not to insult anyone - unless they really deserve it or are very, very ugly!Post these rules at the end of every meme!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Flying Fingers


Since the temperatures hovered in the upper 90's this weekend, it was the perfect opportunity for me to stay inside in the nice air-conditioned house and get some writing done. And write I did. I'm getting closer to being finished with my edits and sending this baby off.
Immersing myself in the story has been a wonderful treat for me. With no hospitals to worry about (although hubby does have to go there twice a day for his antibiotics - but he drives himself) and no reason to go outside and melt, I've had the pleasure of happily typing away without worry of interference.
I've lived the writing life this weekend. But today it's back to the day job, back to Curves, and back to a schedule. School starts in a few weeks (unbelievable!) and my stepson will be in football this year, so the schedule will be in full force before long. Writing time will become precious.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why Bad Writing Can Destroy a Good Story: Cliches

When I pick up a book, I want to be immersed in the story - not worried about the writing. If the story is really good, I'm usually willing to overlook bad writing. But it still sort of casts a pall over the whole experience.

If there's one thing I've learned in my journey as a writer - both professionally (a.k.a. the day job) and personally, writing is very subjective. What one person thinks is wonderful, lyrical prose, another might think is wordy and flowery. Some people like sparse and simplistic while others need detail - and lots of it.

But there are fundamental rules of the writing craft that need to be present for it to be considered "good writing." (Of course, it can be argued that rules were made to be broken). Character arcs, rising action, pacing, etc. are all intrinsic to a good story. But when I start tripping over the language itself, there's a problem.

One element in particular that you should avoid at all costs is this: clichés.

What are clichés?

Dictionary.com defines them as as: a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse

It's not just the standard cliches we think of, like "sick as a dog" or "tough as nails." It pertains to phrases we've heard a thousand times before like, "when he touched her hand, a jolt of electricity went through her."

Why are they bad? Because there are so many different words in our language, so many differents ways to describe something, that when you use these cliches, you come across as being, well, a bit lazy. When I read a description of something that I've read innumerable times before, I tend to roll my eyes. Even worse, I am taken out of the story.

How do you avoid cliches when you write? Let's face it. It's a whole lot easier to use a cliche then it is to think of something original. But if you're a writer, you must think of something else. We're wordsmiths, and we have the opportunity to play with the language. We need to grab that opportunity and use it to our advantage.

Am I guilty of using cliches? You bet. But the key is to be aware of it - and then go back and change it during the editing process!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Checking in from the Waiting Room Part 2

Looks like all systems are go. Hubby just went in for his skin graft. And I got a chance to look at his wound. Wow. It's looking ,much better, though, and I anticipate that the healing process will go well.

I'm off to work on the laptop, but if you're at all curious, I wrote a review on my World War II blog about a book I'm reading called The Kommandant's Girl. Interesting book, though I'm having problems with how it's written. More on that in the upcoming days...

One Day at a Time

I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this...