And I thought I’ve accomplished nothing this week…

Wow, it’s the end of the week already. Or is that finally? I can’t believe it’s almost the end of February too! Where has this year gone?

I feel like I’ve been in a whirlwind for the past week and haven’t had a chance to sit down. I think I need to arrange for another massage with Dar, LOL. Unfortunately, I don’t have a wordcount to report this week for the Midwinter Kick in the Pants challenge.

Here’s why:

  • All week: Gizmo Guy has been off on vacation, during which he caught a cold so he’s been grumpy as he’s snuffling about here. Sick hubby = third child
  • Monday: EVERYONE was home on Monday thanks to the provincial government’s new Family Day. Distractions/Interruptions galore. Let’s move Family Day to July.
  • Tuesday: I went out for an hour – an HOUR, that’s all – and came home to find three very important messages on my answering machine. Call #1) Community Care Access people saying there was a room available at a nursing home for Dad. *Phew*  Call #2 was Mom phoning from her cell phone – something she’s never done before – telling us about the call and yes, indeed she was thinking of turning it down. Nipped that one in the bud. Call #3 Youngest Son’s High School Attendance Office – YS is absent, and since they didn’t get a call from me, why is he absent? WHAT? He’d left for school at the proper time, and since it’s within sight of the house, where the heck is he? Turned out YS was in school, had arrived on time, but teacher had mistakenly checked off the wrong student. *Phew #2 for the day* Follow up on Mom’s call – she made arrangements to have Dad transferred the following day. (You have 24 hours to get them there or you lose your place.)
  • Wednesday: Went to the nursing home that had the availability – #2 on the list of 3 – which turned out to be the one closest to me and furthest from Mom. Met Dad as he arrived and got him settled in. The nursing home is REALLY nice, and will be good for him. Lots of stimulation, everyone was friendly and they set out a wonderful private luncheon for the three of us (Dad, Mom and Me) complete with table cloth and restaurant-like service. Then showed us all around and got his clothes all labelled. After spending almost all day repeating everything everyone said for Mom’s benefit (she’s nearly deaf), I came home absolutely drained and slept maybe three hours that night.
  • Thursday: Got a call at 10 a.m. from the nursing home. Dad’s upset and confused, can I calm him down? Well, I’m not the primary contact so technically they should have been phoning Mom, but I’m guessing she either didn’t hear the phone, or they figured I was closer (only 3 kms away) so they phoned me instead. I spoke to Dad who was worried that Mom had been hurt since she hadn’t phoned him that morning not shown up at her usual time as she always did at the hospital. He’s definitely getting better care than that awful hospital room he was kept in.
  • Friday: A normal day, Hallelujah! Normal means I got only two phone calls from Mom – the first one at 8:30 a.m. like clockwork that lasted only 80 minutes this time, the second one later in the afternoon lasted only 20 minutes. That’s down from her usual 3+ daily calls of at least an hour apiece. Progress indeed. She sounded alternately relaxed and unsure if she’d made the right decision about Dad. She has.

Anyway, despite all this kafuffle, I managed to accomplish the following:

  1. I finally got around to reserving my domain name, leahbraemel.com – no, don’t link to it yet, it’s just at the placeholder stage. Now I have to find a host I feel comfortable/confident with. I have been researching reviews – if you have any recommendations or warning, feel free to comment or email me.
  2. Continuing with point one, but worthy of its own notice because I’m chuffed: I’ve been playing with Dreamweaver and have ginned up a fairly decent front page for my website. I’m still wondering exactly why I need a website when I’m not yet published, but everyone tells me now is the time to start in on the marketing end. So what does a so-far-unpubbed-but hopeful author need on a website, anyway? I’ve linked to my blog, but don’t plan to move it. I can put up links to your websites and blogs. I need to write a bio that makes me sound … well, normal. (Not sure that’s possible ;)) But I have a question for you. Do you (or did you/would you) post excerpts? That’s what the prof at that Canadian Publishing course I took recently recommended. But I don’t feel comfortable doing that unless it’s about to be published and has been run through an editor. Feel free to offer any advice.
  3. Blue Sue’s 33 Worst Mistakes an Author Makes about Horses e-book came out on Tuesday. Hehehe, I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements as I kept bugging her with emails with questions about horses, and then she asked me to help edit the final copy. I signed up for an affiliate membership with Holly Lisle’s shop. Of course, I then had to figure out the codes to link my blog to her page. That took the better part of an afternoon. But it worked – one of you kind readers clicked from my blog and bought the book so I made a commission! Thank you!! Now I’m thinking I should become an Amazon affiliate because I usually link the books on my “Books I’ve read” list to Amazon.
  4. I did the promised full read-thru/high level critique on Marley‘s MS that she’s pitching at Shreveport next week. (This is the one that placed second in the contest) Looking good, Marley! Good luck!
  5. I scribbled some notes for some thoughts I had for edits to Private Property, an erotic novella that I want to send around to various e-publishers.
  6. I’ve been following – though not actively participating this time given how busy I’ve been – Alicia Rasley’s Scenes and Themes Workshop (Alicia is an editor over at Red Sage), as well as the Hearts thru History free-for-members Cabin Fever courses on the Tudors, Americans in Regency England, and Dirty Little Secrets of Character Development. (Which was excellent as everything I’ve taken through HHRW has been.)
  7. Birthday presents have been bought for both Guitar Hero (whose birthday is this upcoming Monday) and Youngest Son (whose birthday is the following Monday). They’ve decided they want to celebrate their birthdays together tomorrow. Works for me.

Hopefully next week will be calmer, and I’ll have a wordcount to report for the Midwinter Kick in the Pants challenge. I’ll probably be hiding out at one of our local libraries because, although Gizmo Guy heads back to work, Guitar Hero is starting a week’s vacation. Oh joy, oh bliss.

High Fives all around

8391! That’s my wordcount so far this week! And I’m still writing so it might go up even more tonight. Woohoo! Way above my projected 5,000 word goal.

The words are flowing – my characters are talking and telling me what they want to do – or not do. and why. I love getting into my character’s heads and am thrilled with the way this story is turning out.

It’s been frustrating because most of last year I wrote a minimum of 2,000 words per day, usually wasn’t happy unless I wrote closer to 3,000 words. And then things ground to a halt when my father had his latest stroke in November and I had little time to write, and was stressed out by the constant calls and demands from my mother and sister.

Now the magic is coming back, thanks to Christine’s Kick in the Pants challenge, and Marley’s and BlueSue’s continued prods.

But for me the main Kudo’s go to Gizmo Guy who finished his first full-length manuscript this week – an 85K thriller that stars a kick ass female named Leah! Okay, she’s not the main character, but she’s got a starring role in helping thwart a band of terorists. He started writing this story last September and I’m hoping he’ll polish it up and send it out somewhere because I really enjoyed it. Not just because he’s my husband and I’m proud of him but I’ve discovered he has a natural flair with imagery and similes. Even if he doesn’t seek publication, I can’t convince him that a lot of writers never manage to finish even one manuscript, that he should be proud of himself for actually being able to type ‘The End’ and what an accomplishment that is.

It’s not his first effort at writing, just his first full-length manuscript. He’d surprised me last April by writing a hilarious short story about two middle aged parents and some of the hijinks they resorted to to convince their twenty-something sons to leave the nest. (He claims it is a work of fiction.) He then wrote a 30+K semi-autobiographical story – although it’s in the third person and is told from several points of view – about his experiences in New York the days and weeks after 9/11 helping the survivors rebuild a contingency computer center after the main one was destroyed when the Twin Towers collapsed. A terrifying look at some of the things the survivors are having to deal with. But it’s awful personal to him, so it’ll probably never be made public.

Encrypted is his first foray into a full-length suspense a la Tom Clancy or Stephen Coonts – two authors he regularly reads. And I think he’s as good as either of them. But then I’m biased. Now I’m anxious to see what he’ll write next.

Best Laid Plans …

… of mice and men often go astray.

All right, I admit it, I paraphrased the quote. Robert Burns actually wrote:

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promis’d joy.

But who the heck says ‘gang aft a-gley‘ these days?

What it means in Canada, is that it pays to be flexible about plans at this time of year. Because usually when you really want to do something, Mother Nature decides to throw a few snow balls your way.

Which is exactly what that perverse b*tch did today. So much for my plans to go into Toronto today for the monthly TRW meeting. I probably could have gone, but it was snowing all morning, then just as I was deciding whether to chance the highways,it changed to a mixture of snow and rain. While I’m iffy about driving in snow at the best of times, I refuse to drive in freezing rain. So I gave in to Gizmo Guy’s muttered warnings and stayed home. At least it continued to snow the rest of the afternoon – it’s only just now slowing down, and I have a feeling it’s changed back to rain which makes me feel a tad less wimpy. Especially knowing that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t take the chance – a couple of other TRW members I talked to also didn’t chance the roads. That definitely helped me feel less ‘cranky’ ;)

But the day wasn’t entirely lost. So far I’ve written more than 2,000 words which added to yesterday’s 2765, and Wednesday’s just over a 1,000 means I’ve exceeded my 5,000 word weekly goal. Trouble is I broke Christine’s rule about working only one one story for her Mid-Winter Kick in the Pants challenge. I dragged out another story that I really need to polish up for submission to a specific house’s submission guidelines by adding slightly over 10K to it. Yesterday and today’s work has been on that story.

So, sorry, Christine, I broke the rules, but at least I am writing and what’s even better, my writing was flowing today in a way that it hasn’t for a few months. So maybe Mother Nature did me a favor.

(By the way, if you get a chance, drop over to Marley Delarose’s blog and wish her a Happy Birthday – a day late, but it still counts.)

Ways to Distract you

Yesterday I wrote 1300 words on my story, and so far today I’ve written 1400. So I am on my way to this week’s goal of 4000. (I won’t think about how Gizmo Guy managed to write 5,000 words on his manuscript yesterday – grrr, show off!)

I would have written more (she says knowing it’s an excuse) but Guitar Hero sat down and talked to me for a while, and being a good mother I couldn’t tell him to shove off. Oh, all right, yes, I could have, but I didn’t. One reason was that he showed me this site. The Face of the Future – a program by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland transforms the picture you upload into a variety of cultures. For some reason it works better with guys than women – or at least it worked better with Gizmo Guy and Guitar Hero’s pictures than it did with my own.

So the picture to the left is what I uploaded – the normal picture of Guitar Hero taken last year. Then I chose what culture to transform him to – Afro-Caribbean, Asian – East, Asian-West, Baby, Child, Teenager, Young Adult, Older Adult, Boticelli, Manga, Ape man, etc. Some of the results are hilarious.

Take a look at some of the results below:

Here’s a Manga version:

Here’s what he’d look like as an old man:

And here’s what he’d look like as an El Greco portrait:

Yes, it’s a time waster, but I had fun. And I’m still writing so my day’s not been completely lost.

(Just for fun, here’s me as a Manga character…)