2012 Summary — And Light at the End of the Tunnel

I’m coming to you from the upstairs bedroom of my parents’ house. Today is my mother’s birthday, and to pseudo-surprise her, I’m staying overnight. I have an ulterior motive, however. Tomorrow morning, I am taking my sweet little dog to the vet to have a bladder stone removed. This is an open abdominal procedure, and he will have (most likely) a long recovery. That probably means I will be a tearful mess ala 8:30am. I just knew I couldn’t drop my terrified pup off at the vet overnight without a little support.

My dog’s sickness comes after a dying fridge debacle — which included the drama of a new delivered fridge breaking within three hours of said-installation — and a completely shattered half-bath mirror. As in, I opened the door and found myself staring at shards of mirror in the sink and all over the floor. I just … closed the door and ignored it for awhile.

I’m a singleton, so everything I do, I have to support myself. Nothing makes me more upset than when I cannot pay for something. My dog’s surgery is … hella expensive. Add on top of this the likely tax bill I’m going to get, because even though I’m by no means rich, I make too much for a single person. Does that make any sense? Then, the cherry on top is that glaring, yellow maintenance light that’s flashing in my car. With my luck, I have no doubt that will result in some enormous bill.

For about a week, I enjoyed being accepted to the Algonkian NYC Pitch Conference, which required an application. I had this elaborate dream of spending my birth-month doing something pro-active for my book … but that was before I got slammed with these expenses. I have no room in the budget for a trip to Manhattan. The good news is that I was told I could attend a later conference this year without having to reapply. That gives me time to save, because despite these setbacks, I refuse to go into debt.

So anyway, this has launched me into quests for freelance work. (If anyone knows of any, please let me know!) Right now, I have several irons in the fire, per se. Hopefully I can do my already exhausting regular job – and then do these additional jobs on the side to take care of all these expenses. Sigh.

But hark! What is that light on the horizon? I’m having some exciting work done on my house next week. Pictures I’m sure will follow.

And the really good news? Today, I got a request for my manuscript from a fairly prestigious agent. No doubt I will be scrambling to revise the book … yet again … in the coming days. You know, with all that free time I have?

But after attending a brand spanking new book club this week and submitting a ridiculous(ly fun) project for my weekly Triangle Writing group, I’m trying to tell myself that maybe I’m getting over the initial hump of 2012. Hopefully things will be much smoother in the coming days! Wish me luck, and pray that my little dog swiftly recovers from his surgery.

Working with my Hands

Hello, 2012! Please, please, please be a good year!

So, while I have work and freelance gigs over my head, my parents and I have been redoing my half-bath. This involved buying MDF boards and lattice strips at Lowes Friday night, followed by sawing and nailing Saturday (Dad’s power saw was on my front porch and aroused much curiosity from the neighbors), followed by corrections and priming/painting today. The primer is drying as I type this.

I am sort of a Harriet Homeowner. I know how to paint, wallpaper, and so on. I enjoy working with my hands after spending so much time on the computer. I’m also a little obsessive about my house. For instance, I finished scanning in my DVD collection (598!) and put them back according to cover color. So, Mom’s idea of doing this to my bathroom was well received when she proposed it.

I did turn in my writing submission for writing group this week, and I finished reading Wither, which I really enjoyed. I’m coming to the conclusion that while I want to do other projects, my heart is still on my fantasy epic. I should just write Book 2 for the hell of it. Who cares. It’s what I enjoy, and my friends are fans — even if I don’t find a publishing home for this. :-/

That’s all for now! Check out these pictures of the half bath project!

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And then the first coat went on. We will have to do the second coat tomorrow.

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Hello from the sickbed

So, I survived Thanksgiving at my house and a work/fun trip to Orlando, despite a trip to the ER. Now I’m sitting bundled up in a blanket with a veritable sea of tissue boxes around me and a mountain of work to do.

I’m sad to say I did not complete Nano. I was full steam ahead on Book 2, until I got a rejection of Book 1. That took the wind out of my sails. I tried to switch projects, but plenty of real life business got in the way — as it always does this time of year (as in, CPT 2012 updates and five freelance articles and the December CodingCon conference in Orlando). Plus, I’ve been various degrees of ill. I’m not a fan of excuses, but I’m giving myself a break on this one.

I was productive in the reading department. I read The Name of the Star, Divergent, and am making headway on Among Others. Certainly in a YA mood.

In any case, I’m hoping to be well enough to go to my writing group Tuesday night, despite not submitting anything in ages. I need some writing inspiration!

#NaNoWriMo: Switching to my YA Project

FROM THE DIARY OF DENNY O’HANLON

6:15PM – Rosemead. Fried chicken, 5 stars, made by Miss Cecelia. Eaten: wing and thigh, two biscuits, one helping of beans. Too stuffed for dessert.

The above is a hilarious chapter entry from my Young Adult Southern novel, The Relic Reader, which follows the five O’Hanlon children’s lives after they’re dropped off at a decaying North Carolina plantation. Hijinx, including having to ride in an old 80s limo and waking up to the sound of grandpa Pervis singing, ensue. I started the idea last year for National Novel Writing Month, and while I enjoyed working on it, my attention diverted to other areas: namely work.

Yesterday, I got some disappointing news. While I know all of us writing receive these rejections all the time, it did threaten to take the wind out of my sails. Uggghhh. Why work on a second book, when my first one hasn’t found a home yet?

One of the things I liked about myself is that shortly after receiving said news, I did decide to donate the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I’ve been meaning to renew my sponsorship of Zurura for another year, but I decided in the face of disappointment, I could show my gratitude by giving some money to charity. It was like saying, SHUT UP AND BE GRATEFUL YOU HAVE FOOD (unlike some orphaned elephants and rhinos in Africa). Weird, I know. But I felt better after doing this.

Second, I talked to some writing friends who did cheer me up. Plans are potentially in motion to go to RT Booklover’s Convention in Chicago, April 2012. Maybe I can pitch multiple projects there, including the Fantasy Epic currently without a home.

I’m also making some Month Goals for myself. November is doing Nano obviously. Hello, 50K words.

December I was thinking of spending typing up a very old historical fiction piece I did during college, called To Galileo, From Prison. I say “typing up” because I wrote this in the bygone days of 1999-2001, back when we had diskettes. Remember those? I have the printed-out copies, but I do not have the files themselves (I will try to key up very old laptop to see if it’s there, once I get home). I tried to pass this off as “serious historical,” but I’ve since realized that I should embrace the girly-ness and call it historical romance. You’ll find an abusive financier husband. You’ll find a dashing Irish spy. You’ll find a not-so-heroic-but-hot highwayman. All within the span of the 17th century. So, you might imagine me at Christmas, sitting with some hot cocoa and dusty print-outs, typing up this thing.

January-March I’m thinking of devoting to the book I want to write with Mom: the serious historical fiction of The Ladies of Baltimore Street, about the women who lived in the town of Gettysburg during the famous historic battle. On the drive up to the cabin, I was arguing to include Jenny Wade. Mom was saying we needed to include Mrs. Shriver and her daughters. And of course we have to have Elizabeth Masser Thorn, the pregnant cemetery caretaker’s wife who walked alongside General Howard’s horse, pointing out the main roads radiating from Gettysburg. This will prepare us for a spring trip up to Gettysburg, where Mom and I can do more intense research.

Finally, as soon as the TV seasons end next year (in May?), I’m going to do another Read All You Can month. In August of 2010, I managed to read 13 sizable novels, which did put a dent in all my ‘to-read’ books cluttering my shelves.

So, while this news was a set back and more than disappointing, I’m trying to keep my chin up. I’ll disappear into the Rosemead Plantation of my YA Southern fiction novel and try not to take myself too seriously. That’s all we writers can do, right?

#NaNoWriMo-ing: I’m about 5K into 50K, and it’s all outline.

Priority #1 is — and will always be — work. This week included getting a coding newsletter of doom written, edited, and to the printer. This one was especially difficult because it was chock full of new CPT codes. I also had to do some freelance work which included, and I kid you not, Zoroastrianism. Both projects turned out well, and I’m on to less pressing tasks.

This afforded me some time to work on Book 2 tonight, and my words have mainly not been narrative. They have been outline words. I’m a firm believer in outlining.

While I already have some content in the works for Adamant: Scourge of Stalfos, I want to have a working outline that takes me from page 1 to the very last page. Why? Because it allows me to do fun things as the author, like foreshadowing and symbolism. I use the outline as my manuscript’s bible, but it can — and has — changed during the course of writing (as in the case of Book 1).

I’m submitting 5 pages of it to my weekly writing group to get some feedback, as some of my POVs (I feel) need some beefing up. I’m excited to see what feedback they’ll give, because they sometimes give me invaluable ideas. I’m looking at you, as-of-now-underground-Sporting-Rings.

In the meantime, I’ll start working on some actual chapter content this weekend!

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2011

The National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I participated the last two years. Admittedly, I dropped off the first year due to work/family constraints but last year, I participated and succeeded. Those words for a YA Southern goth novel might’ve been utter drivel, but I produced them. But here’s the best part: I met other writers at the write-ins.

Writing challenges: For me, writing 50,000 words is going to be ambitious:

  • In my regular job, I have to produce a fair amount of content. Add to that the nightly writing I do with my buddies (not for publication), I probably already write over 50k easily.
  • I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year and doing a fair amount of the cooking. That means I’ll be busy doing prep things, cooking, spending time with family, and so on.
  • I’m leaving to go on a trip the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which cuts off about 4 possible writing days.

Writing strategy: This year, I have a tactic. I’m going to be working on Book 2, which is my favorite book in the three part series I have in my head. Back in my Trinity College Dublin days, I created an elaborate outline and wrote about 60 pages, which I will most likely expand. This means that I’m not starting from scratch. I’ll have a clear starting point, and a clear destination. That definitely helps when you’re staring at the blank screen.

Writing pitfall: I’ve already workshopped Book 2, Scene 1 with my weekly writing group, and I’ve already encountered the #1 hang-up that can trap a writer. They gave me some spot-on ideas, so I started revising it. I had to pull the reins, saying whoa-whoa-whoa. That’s not what I want to do at this point! My focus should be producing content (or at least a fair amount of it), so that I can revise a large chunk and not chapter-by-chapter later on. My mission is to send my writing group a different section for next week — a brand new one. So that’s forward progression.

Take-away: The following week — and I think this is great idea for anyone tackling a big project (thanks, Kerry!) — we’ve all agreed to send in brief outlines. We’re only going to be discussing the structure of our works-in-progress. Sometimes you can get bogged down in the details of line edits and not see the big picture. Seeing the big picture is what will get you to complete a project, including a NaNoWriMo project.

In any case, this is my plan for November. Check back here to see how I’m doing!