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About last weekend…

Nearly 10 years ago in college I started writing a collection of short stories that interlinked.  There were several times when months would go by when I wouldn’t touch the manuscript.  Other times I worked on it in all-consuming binges, even carrying the manuscript with me wherever I went. 

One of my good friends works for iUniverse, a self-publisher, and gifted me a publishing package years ago.  What a wonderful gift!  Sadly, it took me three years to enact on it.  But finally…FINALLY…I submitted my manuscript a few months ago.  Earlier this week I worked on the book details, including details for the cover and author biography.

Now, the book won’t be out on shelves right away, but after years of working on it, I feel like it’s finally coming together.  It’s both exciting and scary.  On one hand it will be nice to see this project in a finalized form.  On the other hand, I’m putting a part of myself out there for everyone to see and critique.

Do I think that my manuscript will be the next Hunger Games or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?  No.  But perhaps this will lead to enough exposure to publish something else down the road, which could be the next hot seller or, again, have enough exposure to continue publishing. 

I’ll keep everyone updated on the process.  The next step is to write the back cover copy (and work on my pitch to consumers).

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in About me, Literature

 

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NaNoWriMo, holidays, and Oz

I know, I know.  I should have written sooner, but I truly have been busy.  Let’s catch up, shall we?  My previous post was an update on NaNoWriMo so I’ll start there.  In case you didn’t already guess, I didn’t finish the month – or even the second week – of writing.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have any ideas, but because of exhaustion.  I work retail and this was one of the busiest holiday seasons my store has had since I started working there in 2003.  I work odd hours, some days going in at 7am, some at 2pm, and am on my feet all day.  By the time I get home, I’m tired and in need of mental decompression – and that’s just a normal day.  Add on the crazy demands for Christmas shoppers and the constant running around with very little down time, it’s no wonder that I wasn’t up for the task of writing after work.  Days off were spent restoring my energy and mental health.  It was too much for me to do what I was obligated to do, let alone an ambitious project on top of it.

Now, that’s not to say that I won’t go back to it.  NaNoWriMo is officially November, but can be done any month.  I can pick my manuscript back up in, say, March, when work won’t be very demanding and yet the weather still not so great that I will be distracted by wanting to play outside.  Should I continue with the novel I started, I will relay my progress on this blog.

Outside of work, I had a lovely holiday season.  Fred and I spent Christmas day with his parents and a little of his extended family.  It was nice to finally meet some of them and talk more with others I’d already met.  For New Year’s we went to a friend’s house for a game night and fireworks display over the lake.  It was fun, but I was mentally exhausted from the “go-go-go” of work since Thanksgiving.  We left shortly after midnight.

I’m not a fan of making many New Year’s resolutions since many times I (and people in general) set myself up for disappointment.  So, this year, I just have three simple and attainable resolutions:

1. Start getting allergy shots.

I know, this sounds like a lot of fun, but I’m really tired of constantly blowing my nose and sneezing.  Last May I got allergy testing done and I’m allergic to many things under the sun, including the two cats with whom I live.

2. Beat one of the Mario games on my own.

Fred has beaten all of the Mario games at least once on our Wii.  He grew up playing these games and has said that a lot of it is muscle memory.  I, on the other hand, never played these games until just a few years ago so I don’t have the reflexes he does.  I would like to complete one of the games without his help.  

3. Read 6 classic novels.

For having an English degree, I’ve read very few classic novels.  Ones like Jane Eyre, that I was supposed to read in college, but didn’t finish, I don’t count as having read them.  I have over 80 classic novels on my e-reader and even more on my bookshelves, and it’s high time I read some of them.  I only decided on 6* because: (1) they take a little longer to read and (2) there will be new, shiny books by which I will be distracted.

On that note, I’ve started reading The Annotated Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Michael Hearn.  While I’ve been reading diligently for 3 days, I’m still in the introduction (it’s a pretty big book).  I find it fascinating, though, to learn of Baum’s history as well as the history of the books and its multiple versions (stage and film).  One of the things that I found most interesting so far is that after the book was released, a “musical extravaganza” was written and performed on several stages, including Broadway.  It parallels with Wicked, which was first a book by Gregory Maquire and then a musical on Broadway and then on tour.  It, too, tells of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but from the point of view of the “Wicked Witch of the West”.**

 

*For Fred: “Six is good.”

**An absolutely fascinating play.  I have the book, but I haven’t read it yet.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2012 in About me, Literature

 

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Week 1 round-up

Just a quick update on my NaNoWriMo progress.

I am a bit behind right now.  I have only 8,070 words.  Mind you, I did start a day late, but then I was sick three other days.  So I’ve been not writing more than I’ve been writing.  It’s a little bit of a set back but all is not lost.  I have a few days off later in week 2 so I’m hoping to bust some words out then.

The plot is still forming in my mind, though a few things have become clearer to me.  Of course, I can’t really share that right now or I would spoil the fun.

As I write, I am struggling to come up with names of secondary characters and last names of the main characters.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in About me, Literature

 

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And I’m off!

Despite my hesitations and the late start, I’ve decided to write a novel this month.  So far, I’m elated and energized.  I just hope I can keep it up!

To stay on track and write 50,000 words in 30 days, an average of 1,665 words should be written each day.  I started a day late (almost two by the time I started writing).  But in a mere 11 hours (5 of which were spent sleeping), I’ve cranked out 5,321 words.  Not too shabby.  I’m currently caught up and even a little bit ahead.

The year I finished NaNoWriMo, I kept a chart of each day’s progress.  Looking it over last night, I saw that most days I exceeded my needed goal.  This helped when later in the month I got sick or was too tired to write.  I was able to not write a single word on eight different days and still finished the novel a day early.  Granted, I think that novel is complete crap, but that’s not the point of this month-long exercise.

So, what’s my novel about, you ask?  You would think that in 5,000 plus words I would know.  I actually don’t.  (Creator Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! explains why this is perfectly acceptable and even a little encouraged.)  Multiple angles of how the story could go are still swimming through my mind.  Right now it’s open and could go several ways.  As I go about my day as usual, I’ll continue to think and brainstorm, even subconsciously.  I’ll view each interaction with someone as a possible interaction between my characters.  Every story I hear will sprout new ideas in my mind of what could happen in my novel.  Anything is possible!

What I can share is that I have three main characters right now: Corrine, Zach, and Jude.*  They’re all connected to each other but I won’t say how just yet.

As for this blog, I’ll try to keep everyone updated on how the novel is coming.  I might even put in some excerpts, should I find them good enough for others to read.  Any moral support you can give, like my wonderful aunt has already shown, I will take it!  If you, too, are participating in NaNoWriMo, look me up on the website under sarcasm_inc in Indiana, USA.

*Jude had been Jodi but between that, Corrine, and a secondary character named Mary, I thought it might look like I have been watching a lot of reruns.**

**Which I have.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in About me, Literature

 

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Good to great reads

Like most people, I have a list of books I want to read.  Some people keep their lists in their heads.  Others, like my mom, have a sheet or two of paper with titles scrawled all over them.  Mom keeps hers in her purse.  Whenever we talk about books, which is often, and I say, “You need to read…”, she pulls out that rectangular piece of paper and a pen.  Diligently, she writes the title and author down in her small and delicate handwriting.

My list, however, is too long to fit on one or even two pieces of paper and my list grows every day that I’m at work.  So, I use an online database to help keep track of what I want to read and what I’ve already read.  Years ago I started with Shelfari, but have since changed over to Good Reads (Shelfari requires an Amazon account).  Good Reads has so many great features, like setting your own goal and then keeping track of how far ahead (or behind, like me) you are.  You can see what your friends are reading and update them on your progress of your current reads.  The best feature above all, though, is the giveaway page.  This is where users can go and enter for a chance to win ARCs (that’s Advanced Reader’s Copy for those of you not in the know) of books.

The first time I looked at the list of ARCs, there were over 700 titles.  I browsed them all, not wanting to miss anything.  While browsing, I learned about some new books and found others that were already on my to-read list.  Of course, I entered my name to win copies of several books.  The nice thing about this is that it tells you how many copies will be given away, how many people have entered, and how much time is left to enter.  I haven’t won anything yet, though.

I could go on (and on and on) about Good Reads but I won’t.  Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite enough that you visit the site yourself.  If I know you, friend me!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in About me, Entertainment, Literature

 

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These Dawgs won’t be put to sleep

Butler University has an enrollment of under 5,000 students, yet almost everyone in America has now heard of it.  Unless, of course, they don’t watch sports or have been living under a rock.  For those people, Butler is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Last year’s NCAA tournament was unlike any other for the Bulldogs.  In Butler’s history, the basketball team had never made it past the Sweet Sixteen.  But in 2010 the Dawgs upset team after team and made it all the way to the Final Four.  The icing on the cake was that the Final Four was held in Butler’s hometown.  The days leading up to and surrounding the tournament, the whole city rallied around the Bulldogs.  Everywhere I looked, someone was either wearing a Butler shirt or yelling encouragement for the Bulldogs.  Even the GooGoo Dolls, who were playing a free concert downtown as part of the Final Four festivities, cheered, “Go Butler!”

Fred and I watched the championship game at his parents’ house.  We were on the edge of our seats the entire game, Butler nipping at Duke’s heels for the duration.  Then came what is now the infamous half-court throw by Gordon Hayward.  My friend Tony’s Facebook status after that moment summed it up best, “The air pressure in Indy dropped significantly as everyone gasped simultaneously.”

Sure, we were disappointed, but we were still very proud of the Bulldogs.  I was especially proud that they were so close to winning because it showed, like the rest of the tournament, that we could run with the big dogs.

Few thought that the 2011 tournament would see the Bulldogs play in it, let alone go all the way to the championship again.  Butler’s regular season was less than perfect, and they were the second seed in the Horizon League, yet they got a bid to play.  Many were shocked when they upset 1-seed Pittsburgh but the shock grew to excitement with each game the Dawgs played.  It was blissfully unbelievable for a team that, two years before, hadn’t made it past the Sweet Sixteen, to be playing a second national championship game.  Again, Indianapolis rallied around the Bulldogs.  The line at the Butler Bookstore wound throughout the space.  People were waiting an hour just to purchase some Butler merchandise.  The morning the team left for Houston (it was early morning, too, long before the sun was set to rise), a thousand people showed up to Hinkle Fieldhouse to send them off.

The night of the championship game, Fred and I went to a pub in Broad Ripple, an area of town not far from campus that is popular with the college kids for all its bars.  The pub was full with people wearing Butler gear, every television turned to the game.  Together we ate, drank, and yelled at the screens.  The closer we got to the end of the game, the more heads I saw bowed in the bar.  It was a tough game to watch, with or without alcohol.

Again, for those of you who don’t follow sports, Butler lost.  Bad.  It wasn’t like last year, where we were so close that one basket could have made a difference.  “Take me home and hold me,” I told Fred.  We both needed consolation.

The next day, I read an article online that made the Butler pride shine again.  After the loss, the locker room was somber, as one would expect.  The seniors were especially taking it tough.  But they literally pulled each other up, embraced each other, and reminded themselves that they are a team unlike any other, whether they win or lose.  The game isn’t about who missed what shot or who got fouled out; it’s about selflessness.  It’s what makes the Butler Bulldogs stand out from the other teams and what got them to two national championship games.

I am a Butler Bulldog and I will always be proud to be one, whether my team makes it all the way to the championship game or doesn’t even get a bid into the tournament.

 

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My favorite birthday memory (so far)

This time of the year is especially exciting for me because I have a December birthday. This year I celebrated in August with a cookout and I’m glad I did since it ended up snowing on my birthday. Fred sent me flowers at work, which was a nice surprise. My favorite birthday memory, though, was my 19th birthday, years ago.

I was in my freshman year at college, just home for Christmas break. My parents’ present was an autographed Christmas CD by my favorite local artist, Andrew Driscoll, and tickets to his show. My best friends were also going with us so it was doubly exciting.

Before the show started, my friends went backstage. I didn’t think anything of it because they’d worked with the local theater company before. I figured they were just popping back to say hello to everyone.

Little did I know they were plotting my surprise.

Near the end of the show, Andrew Driscoll (yes, I have to use his full name every time) paused between songs to talk to the audience. “We have a special young lady in the audience today who is celebrating her birthday.” As he spoke, someone from backstage handed him a bouquet of flowers. He walked down the stage steps and headed in my direction. “Her name is Liz and this next song is for her.” He handed me the flowers and started singing Sarah McClachlan’s “I Will Remember You.”  I could have died a happy woman right then.

Shortly afterwards, when the concert was over, Andrew Driscoll came back out and I got to personally thank him and get my picture taken with him. Unfortunately, my eyes are closed in the picture (this was pre-digital cameras) but it doesn’t matter.  I will always remember that birthday.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2010 in About me

 

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