Archive for October, 2010


NaNo Prepping

Done:
– Halloween party
– Handing out of Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters
– Removal of Halloween nail polish
– Replacement of said polish with something less overtly goth
– (unscheduled) Development of cold D:
– Acquirement of part-time job which will ensure that I get out of the house and away from the writing sometimes
– Main part of novel storyboarding
– Reworking of main character (MC)
– Semi-last-minute addition of another major character, purpose only semi-determined so far, and whose presence will probably severely wrench half of what I’ve got planned, and who still needs a flipping name

To remember in November:
– Eat enough to justify caffeine intake
– Shower so as not to horrify coffeeshop patrons or my husband
– Go to the gym sometimes
– Talk about non-writing, non-novel things to non-writers, since almost no one IRL really wants *that* deep a glimpse into my own personal crazy

To do:
– Come up with opening scene so that I have something to write tonight at midnight
– Decide what tense to work in
– Figure out at least a preliminary title, since this project has thus far steadfastly refused to name itself (unless I decide something batshit, like going with one crazysauce idea I had to make this a seven(!) book series in order to take care of the title problem)
– Flush the last shreds of sanity down the toilet until December
– Create some sort of basic playlist (unless I say screw it and just go with what works scene-by-scene)
– WRITE 50,000 WORDS

People, I have a bloody amazing job perk homework again. Each week, I have to try a bottle of wine and report back on it, cork attached to the report sheet to prove that I have indeed busted on in to partake.

Now, I’m awesome with beer. I’m pretty good with liqueurs and whiskeys and all that.

I comparatively suck at wine. Like, I’m not hopeless by any means, but my knowledge of wine is something like 1% of what my beer knowledge is.

But now I have homework wine, and since I’m incapable of remembering things without writing about them, I’ve decided to share my thoughts with you. Hopefully, in six months I’ll sound like I have a clue what the hell I’m talking about. I don’t think I will right now.

With that preamble, this week’s wine:
Name: Pagos de Equren Tempranillo
Color: Red
Country/Region of Origin:
Spain
Vintage:
Hrm. I should check, but the bottle is downstairs. I am not downstairs. I am lazy, so we’re not going to worry about this right now.

This has to be the lowest-tannin red wine I’ve ever encountered. It’s still dry, but it’s so low in tannins that my mom, who has the tannin allergy that makes drinking red wine intensely painful along about the jaw region, was able to drink it no problem.

The wine was… red wine. It had a sort of menthol-y, mineral-y undertone* that I frankly didn’t like all that much. It did have a nice sort of sour cherry/berry flavor though – much more pronounced than the mineral aspects – and I liked that.

Overall, I’d pass. I think this was the first Tempranillo I’d ever had. If this is what they’re like, then I think I’ll stick to recommending Riojas when people want Spanish wine.

* Note: it was my comment about the menthol/mineral combo that made Mom try it – one of those “that sounds gross, let me try it!” things that always happens with food.**

** Yes, I did link you to my other blog. Yes, I am that person.

I’m insane.

NaNo starts in 3-ish days, right? As in 72 hours from now I will be sitting at my laptop, hopefully hammering away at the keys, beginning my 50K wordcount for the month.

So naturally, today seemed like the ideal day to decide for sure and certain to sit on the project I was planning on working on during NaNo, because it took something of a wrong turn and I need to stop and figure out what the right turn is before I can get it to progress any further. Plus it’s almost too cold to write that novel right now. That’s a summertime novel.

So I needed something to write.

I’d had a project going over the summer. Or rather, over the summer I’d outlined and storyboarded and worked on characters and whatnot for a project. And then I started writing said project and the MC (main character for the non-writers) just… didn’t fit. I could see this whole huge story, but the character I had planned on shoving into it steadfastly refused to work with it. She was too logical and even-keeled for what the story needs. The story needs a daydreamer. The MC as I had originally conceived her dismisses daydreams as a giant waste of time. I need an MC who doodles in the margins of her notebooks during class and wants more than anything to do something crazy – like strap fairy wings to her backpack – but is afraid to do anything like that because she doesn’t want all the attention.

To sum up: I’ve completely tossed the roughly 5K worth of writing I had for that project and will be starting over and NaNo-ing it come November. So I will be doing the full challenge as rules state. I still don’t have a name for this project, so it will be “nameless YA Fantasy project” until such time as something pops into my head. I’ve completely revamped the MC (although I’m keeping her name) and I’m flipping POV/tense and all kinds of stuff to see if I can get into her head differently and in a way that works better for the story. And in doing all that, the entire opening I had planned out doesn’t work at all, so I’ve still got to figure out what I’ll be writing about come 71 3/4 hours from now.

But I will figure it out, dammit. Because I won last year and I’d like to win this year, because I’d like to get the wordcount on the novel so that I can convince myself it’s really finish-able. And NaNo, in its greatness, lets me feel like I can finish it, and shuts up my inner editor for a while so that I can just sit back and go.

When things get really hard, I’ll be popping onto Dr. Wicked’s and bitching about it here. Enjoy, people.

I recently linked to Reasoning With Vampires under my lulzy linkage because I read a few of the sentence autopsies and about choked from laughter.

A couple of days later, I’m considering moving the link to the writers’ resources area. That blog is, in some ways, the best sentence-level writing instruction I’ve ever seen. She points out the flaws, the unnecessary words, the repetitive headdesks, the needlessly purple prose with an endless supply of snark, so that I keep reading and laughing and reading more. The best thing, though, is that while reading I notice things that I do in my own writing. I think reading chunks of Reasoning With Vampires before going into major editing fits will be immensely helpful as a reminder of what I’m looking to cut.

And then through all of this, even while laughing my ass off, I find myself feeling a little bad for Stephenie Meyer – honestly, it’s gotta suck to have someone combing over your writing and mocking it at a sentence-by-sentence level. Like, mortifying. I recognize that being an author means having to have titanium-level, unbreakably thick skin, but still. Ouch.

But still, I laugh. This potentially means that I’m a bad person and I should feel bad, but I’ll survive. It’s funny.

ETA: I *am* a bad person. I just came across this picture in Reasoning With Vampires:

I effing HATED Huck Finn.

I *did* hope that someone would catch that truant little fucker. And most of the time, I kinda wanted Jim to get sent down the river.
Reader, I suck.

ETA 2: I wanted that to happen to Jim not because of what it would mean to him/his character (which would be getting shoved back into slavery, which would be no-lulz terrible), but because it would give Huck nothing noteworthy to do, which would mean that THE STUPID BOOK WOULD END. Honestly, my main reaction to Huckleberry Finn was to read on in hopes that Huck would drown in the Mississippi.

Which lead me to think about plotting. It’s not actually at all easy: just figure out what needs to happen to make the book end (i.e., let “someone [catch] that truant little fucker”) and prevent that event from occurring. Simple, non?

I’m thinking plotting because I’m thinking about NaNo often. More on that at not-1:30am.

Seriously, if  someone told you to find all the 1000 square foot parks in town and do rubbings of the plaques marking them, would you be able to find them all? Would you be able to answer trivia questions asking you where to find the bust of a town founder, or the date of one of the earliest-built houses? Could you find the back roads linking all of these things in order to cut down time between destinations, thus increasing your chances of actually answering all the questions?

Today Tony and I ran around Lawrence, KS, with a couple of our very close friends, playing an absolutely epic trivia game. It had us doing all of these things and several more. We drove from beyond the East end of Lawrence (a pumpkin patch just outside of town) to beyond the West end (right by Clinton Lake), from 6th St to 31st St and all over the University of Kansas campus (which was a damned good trick because it was Homecoming today and absolutely batshit on campus). And it was an amazing time.

For Lawrencians who haven’t paid attention: there are eleventybillion plaques on Mass St. Like almost every building has some kind of plaque to tell you what the building originally was and who’s owned it over the years and what happened during Quantrill’s Raid or whatever else of import that the building may have. It’s really neat.

For writers: if there’s a town you’re setting a work in and you can find some kind of tour or trivia game or anything else in that town, DO IT. You will learn an insane amount in a few hours and it’s all good stuff to draw on.

Back to Lawrencians: if you haven’t yet gone to Angler’s, GO: raw oysters and a bloody fantastically awesome, informative and friendly staff, raw oysters, the best crab dip I think I’ve ever had and a tap list that made me near-weep from the happy. Really, people, the beer list is to die for there (which is why they’re getting a plug on both blogs).
And similarly, if you haven’t gone to the Burger Stand at the Casbah, GO: rabbit hot dogs and duck fat french fries and quinoa patties and duck fat-fried corn dogs and OHMYDUDE THE EATS.

So I’ll go totally mushyromantic on how much I love Lawrence in some other post, but this was a really awesomehappy day. I hope you all get one like it soon.

The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project

As a counterpoint to my last post, I’m passing on the link just given to me in the comment to that post.

It’s the Twinkies Project (punctuated like it is in the title to the post – I typed it out that way once and thought ‘ah, screw it’ to doing it that way again). It’s a bunch of “experiments” done on Twinkies to see how they respond to sets of experimental conditions (read: the site authors decided to burn Twinkies and write faux-science-y results)(which are awesome). There’s even a link that gives you results in haiku form. Brilliant.

And, because this is WEIRDING ME OUT BIG TIME: who the hell knew that Twinkies are, and I quote directly from the site linked to above: “”Twinkies” and the “Twinkie the Kid character” are registered trademarks of
Interstate Brands Corporation, 12 East Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111.”

TWINKIES ARE OWNED BY A KANSAS CITY COMPANY?
First thought: I should try to work for them.
Second thought: I kinda hate Twinkies. Maybe I should reconsider.

Woah (said like Keanu)

Theoretical physics makes my brain hurt.

Read this.

What I just linked you to is an article about a group of physicists who have decided, per a bunch of math I have no hope of ever beginning to comprehend, that there’s a possibility the universe might be holographic. Like, 2-D. Like, the entire third dimension (you know, the dimension that makes us different than flat planes of nothingness?) is a lie fabricated by our brains as they attempt to make sense of vibrations in the space-time continuum (which, apparently, is FLAT)(or something).

To test said hypothesis, or rather to give themselves some data to work with so that they’re not just playing with entirely abstract mathematics, they’ve built themselves something called a holometer. I read what it does and I don’t think I understand it well enough to paraphrase it here – I’ll just let you work with whatever understanding you came up with in your reading. What I *can* say about it is that this whole thing reminds me of the machine Mary plays with in His Dark Materials (I forget which book exactly, but I think maybe the Subtle Knife). You know, the one where the Dust starts talking to her through whatever computer program she’s come up with.

Because honestly, after reading that the third dimension might be a misconception of our poor, unable-to-function-at-light-speed brains, I don’t think I’d be at all surprised if dark matter started talking to us.

ETA: About five minutes after I posted this, I almost squeed out loud because I realized that I really don’t remember which book Mary talks to the Dust in, which means that I have an excuse to re-read the whole trilogy, which makes me 5,000 kinds of excited.

About thirty seconds later, I realized that His Dark Materials, alone with 99.7% of the rest of my book collection, is packed in a box in my parents’ basement and I have no idea when I’ll be able to see it again. But you can bet your bippie that when I find those books, they’re shooting straight to the top of my reading pile.

This is just a quick post to note that every single time one of you clicks on the link to the picture of naked Ron Paul running through a lake already knowing what you’re going to find because I very clearly told you, I die a little. And then I laugh really hard, because apparently I’m not the only weird one out there. 

I’ve been planning on writing an epic post on how to win Civilization V with a cultural victory, but my unbeatable victory plan so far only works up to Noble (level 3). I can’t make it work on Prince (level 4 – the computer’s level). So I’m retooling and will post it once it works.

The thing with Civilization is that I’ve been playing it since at least Civ II and have played every version more times than I’d care to admit. It’s a really satisfying, complex strategy game, and they’ve done a great job of improving it substantially with every new edition.* Civ V gives us City States, which are integral to a cultural victory, and it plays with border expansion in new and interesting ways so that the city automatically goes for the nearby resources rather than expanding evenly, and the combat system has been retooled in fun ways and so on. But in so doing they also managed to make the Cultural victory damned near impossible, which is why (other than unemployment) I’ve become mildly obsessed with getting one on at least Monarch (level 5).

So far, I’ve established the following:
– you need a hefty amount of money to pay off the cultural City States, because you can’t win without all the culture they give you
– you can’t do more than two (or maybe three) cities
– don’t fall into my trap of assuming that an archery unit garrisoned in each city plus 2-3 other units will keep you from looking like a tasty target to some of the more aggressive leaders (I may have lost my capital last night to Hiawatha, who has earned a multi-game level of “must kill the bastard dead” vengeance from me now)
– you really, really want Chichen Itza – golden ages help majorly in creating culture, so lengthening them is a good proposition

After that, however, I’m lost.

One day, there will be a post with a detailed, tested victory plan. Until then, however, I’m still tweaking.

* I’m not usually a fan of sequels. Speaking of, they really ARE doing an Iron Man 3. Because Iron Man 2, um, sucked, so it’s only logical they should make a third. Hopefully they remember to make it funny this time.

A dream about real estate snafus

So I may turn into one of those people who is forever posting weird dreams that they have because I have a lot of them. But I don’t really want to be *that* person, so I’ll keep it to a minimum and only post them when they’re really, really strange.

I woke up this morning having had the following dream:

I was sitting in not-Favorite Bar in an unknown city, but the bar was populated with a few of the bartenders from Favorite Bar, which is in Easton, PA. We were friends with most of the bar staff there, which is probably why they ended up populating my dream.  Anyway, so I was sitting on a bar stool stolen from one of the bartenders (who was hanging out for an after work beer) and was being spun around in this bar stool by another one of the bartenders, laughing and having a good time and waiting to find out if Tony and I had had our offer accepted to buy Swanky Apartment in Random City.

So I got the phone call I’d been waiting for from the realtor. The realtor was PISSED.

Why?

Apparently either Tony and/or I (the dream wasn’t clear on who did this) had sent the realtor the payment to make the offer (or whatever the logic was) in the form of a GERBIL. As in, the realtor called me hugely pissed off because he’d received the check in the mail, but the check was actually a small, furry, hungry gerbil which had jumped out of the tiny box it was in and bitten the realtor on the hand. So the realtor was giving the apartment to someone else, someone who would pay him with money rather than the finest in rodentry, and he told me he didn’t so much care if we spent the rest of our lives living in our cars. And then he slammed down the phone, presumably to go bandage his rodent-bitten hand.

The thing is, when I dream, I tend to just accept the oddities and missteps of logic and so on, only to wonder about it when I wake up. Apparently, however, sending a gerbil to a realtor was too much even for my whacked-out brain – even while I was dreaming I was trying to piece together how we could have screwed up like that. The best I could come up with in dream-logic was that we had a pre-packaged gerbil on the bar next to the check for the realtor (because for some reason the check the realtor was *supposed* to get was on  the bar next to my bar stool), and we’d accidentally picked up the wrong one (this, of course, does not account for why the gerbil would have been addressed to the realtor any more than it accounts for why we wouldn’t have been handing over a check for a major transaction in person, but details). But I was being spun around in my bar stool and was having fun anyway, kind of like a five-year-old being pushed on a swing, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

So.

I am steadfastly refusing to try to figure out what this says about me, because I honestly don’t want to know.

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