31 July 2006


Finally, I’m getting somewhere. Remember that “let’s write a half-ream on my characters” thing, where I ran screaming into the street? Guess what, it’s starting to work! Even though I have only 39 pages so far.

I have also been think a lot about Kay’s motives in Carter’s character sketch, since I am still having a hard time understanding how she could be so generous to Carter while on some level realizing that this whole relationship was not working out.

Now that I have some momentum, I’m starting to enjoy this delving into character. And the Rogers quotes are really helping out by giving me a number of starting points.

What's even better is that this weekend, the inlaws ran off with my daughter, and since my husband was at work, I had the whole house to myself. Well, me and the mopy bulldog. And I was finally able to make progress on the novel itself. I am now done with chapter 16 for good (at the present time of course)! Got two new chapters arranged and written. Oh! Do you know how good that feels? I buzzed through a few chapters (I'm trying to get this out the door for a critiquer) and now I'm on chapter 25, "Vortex of Swans." So, yeah, I'm feeling better.

Here's a little excerpt, just for fun. It's a Carter and Kay scene today.

That night, he told me about his 'dark side.' Told me how much he needed me to help him fight his demons. He believed I could do it, because oh how he loved me, and he knew I loved him too.

I loved the nobility of my sacrifice. I would be an angel, wrapping my wings around him, though I wore the ashes of my old love on my forehead, invisible and pure. I would raise him up, I would make him a new man, I would save his life.

Except the next morning I woke up depressed. At breakfast I shunned people and glowered at my cereal alone. I kept going over last night, hoping to revive that sunshine-and-roses feeling I’d had, but my heart was too busy sinking through the ocean to help. Why had I nearly fainted when he told me that story? Out of pity? Why that excited laugh from Carter?

After breakfast, I came out of the Union. The sunlight slanted through the sycamores like light through a cathedral, and through dapples walked Carter, wearing his black overcoat because it was a little chilly. He smiled and changed his path to meet me. As I walked toward him, I opened my arms to honor his pain.

Except I suddenly felt that my show was fake. That I was lying with my whole body. I fought to ignore it, to keep smiling, to keep my arms open. He was going to see that I honored him, that I would sacrifice myself for him, whether I liked it or not.

28 July 2006

More on (trying to) find books of color.

I just ran into Wawa Moore's post about checking out the huge display of YA books at Borders and not seeing a whole lot for people of any color, and how glaringly obvious this need is.

Let's get to work, people!

23 July 2006

One woman facing down a sea of red.

Here's a blog post I'm linking to so I can be sure to check it out in more detail later. Paula over at Paula's JORT (Journal of Random Thoughts) is talking about having received her editorial letter and marked up MS! Man, what a ride.

I'm thinking, oh this would be so cool! But then I'd have to do all that work. Waaah! I'm such a wuss.

21 July 2006

Stop taking Harry Truman's name in vain.

What is it with this damn president Bush who has to invoke Truman at every whipstitch? Every time Bush compares himself to Truman, I feel a rumble in the ground which is My Man From Independence, two hours down the road, spinning in his grave.

I was just reading this article from the Washington Post called "Hijacking Harry Truman," and totally agree with it. And I found myself adding a few more reasons why this dolt we call a president should be violently restrained from saying he's following Truman's footsteps.

First: this little issue of a war record. In WWI, Truman served as captain of Battery D of the 2nd Battalian, 129th Field Artillery. Served with distinction, always in the front lines with his soldiers even when all hell was breaking loose. And when WWII began, the 57-year-old Truman went to then-General Marshall to re-enlist. General Marshall said Truman would be better off staying where he was.

What did Bush do during Vietnam? To dodge the draft, he went to the Texas Air National Guard. He tested in the 25th percentile out of 100, then leaped ahead of thousands of other Guardsmen (thank God for special privilege) and was given a pilot's post.

Now, hello, Truman would have scorned such use of influence. Back in Kansas City, during the 20's, he worked with Pendergast, the city Boss. Pendergast helped Truman get elected as judge; he wanted a little favoritism in return. "The Boss wanted me to give a lot of crooked contractors the inside and I couldn't," Truman wrote.

"Didn't I tell you boys," Pendergast spouted, "He's the contrariest cuss in Missouri." And then Pendergast never asked Harry to do anything illegal after that.

As far as Bush's record on using influence to his profit, cripes don't get me started.

Second, let's look at Truman's record as a senator. When WWII started and the big corporations started dogging the Department of Defense for contracts at insane prices, Truman started up the Truman Committee to make sure the nation's money was spent wisely. His committee inspected war plants, army posts, and strenuously investigated defense production. They found companies producing faulty airplane engines and ships that broke in two, and made them pay. The Truman Committee's work may have saved the country at least $15 million.

Of course Bush saved the country more money. Somewhere. I don't know where, actually, but that doesn't matter, does it?

Then there's this issue of fighting a pre-emptive war. Guys. The Korean War was not pre-emptive. Communist North Korea marched on U.S.-occupied South Korea. Truman didn't want to start this, which he felt could escalate into WWIII, especially with Russia just waiting for their chance. War was the last thing he wanted.

And then General MacArthur wanted to make the war bigger, wanted to take on the Chinese as well. He wanted to drop atomic bombs on China. So of course Truman did.

No he didn't! He kicked MacArthur's ass out of Korea and replaced him with General Ridgeway! Got a lot of flack for that, but Truman didn't want a war on two fronts, didn't want a war that would create enormous deficits and loss of lives.

Just like George.

The kicker: in the 1948 presidential election, whose side would Bush have been on, Dewey's or Truman's? Hell, he would have voted for Dewey, of course, that arrogant old automaton who was too full of his own ideas to even talk with the common people. Bush would not have voted for Truman, he would have been too busy denouncing him with the rest of the press and the Republicans and the Dixiecrats.

Well, the feeling was mutual. Truman on Dewey, 1948:

"This soft talk and double talk, this combination of crafty silence and resounding misrepresentation, is an insult to the intelligence of the American voter. It proceeds upon the assumption that you can fool all the people -- or enough of them -- all the time."

Or on the Republican doctrine:

"If you can't convince them, confuse them."

Or Republicans in general:

"They dare not answer me. They are afraid to get on the issues. They talk about home, and mother, what a nice country it is, 'you can trust us.'

"You can't trust 'em."

And that just about sums it up, people!

Current music: "Where Are You, Harry Truman" -- Chicago.

19 July 2006

Them that don't ask don't get.

Got my contract for my article today, saying "Sign this here and we'll send you your check." Which made me feel dumb, because just yesterday I hassled my poor editor, saying, "Give me that big fat money!" Hit me with a brick.

But when I read the contract, I said, "Uh-oh." The first thing I ran across was the dreaded "hold harmless" clause. That's a clause that basically says that the author agrees to hold the Publisher harmless if a smackdown takes place because of something she's written. If the author agrees to such a clause, then it's the author who has to pay all legal expenses.

I mean, I can't imagine anyone's going to sue over this article. "OMG I hate legumes! I'm going to sue!" But when the world has gone mad, cover your ass.

And secondly I saw that the contract said I was selling all rights. Might this lead to trouble when I'm writing my soilbuilding book? Because I was going to discuss using alfalfa in the garden, and it's hard to know where the demarcation is between what is their article and their information and what would be mine. I'd just as soon not even go there.

So I called up the assistant editor in charge of contracts and said, "Hello! I got a contract today and wondered if I could strike a clause or two."

She said, "You can change anything you like."

"I'd really like to strike the 'hold harmless' clause." And then I got silly and said, "And also let's raise the payment to a million dollars, stat!"

She went off in gales of laughter. "I'd like to see legal when I send this contract over!"

"Okay, let's do it!"

But then we settled down, and she said she'd send me a new contract with the changes I'd requested. I'd get first rights, which revert back to me upon publication. (Note to legal: rights listed here are not actual rights until I sign said contract.)

This is going to slow my big fat money down by a few days, but I'll just have to put up with that.

Ha ha! The i-Pod is playing the theme from "Wonder Woman!" "In her satin tights, fighting for your rights!" That's so me! Except you'd never see me wearing satin tights, of course.

15 July 2006

A little housecleaning.

Taking a break from the house for a moment to check my e-mail (there is none; nobody loves me) and post. Miss Thang's birthday party is tomorrow, and she's going to be five. "Mommy, I can't wait!" she told me with the intensity of a little kid that's about to explode. She has also been alerting total strangers to the upcoming festivities, probably so they can bring a present too.

Except she's stomping down the hall right now going "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!" in a Santa voice. "Here's your presents!" She's pretty fun.

Got the kitchen and the living room finished. Still need to clean out the refrigerator, the bathroom, and re-clean up Sophie's room. In the course of cleaning the other rooms, all this stuff moved back there.

Going to totally skip the office and our bedroom. I'll keep those doors closed so I can just shove stuff out of sight, if necessary, at the last minute. Also my husband has some of his piles (some??!) back here and I am not even going to bother.

Back to the old grind.

13 July 2006


I've been wanting to print off the first 50 pages of Part 2 of Symphonians for ages. At first I was like, "Let's not print yet, let's do as much as we can on the computer only." But then I hit this wall. In my mind, the scenes involving Carter all glommed together and everything ran together, and everything seemed like the same old damned thing, over and over and over.

Okay, so it was time to print. Except ....

Our computer that's hooked up to the printer at home freezes up every time I open MS Word. So I can't print off here. So I take the flash drive to the library to print it off there.

The first time, there are no computers available.

The second time, all I had was a $20 and the machine wouldn't accept it and the librarians had no change. Then before I could run to the post office to get change, the machines shut down because it was 15 minutes before closing time.

The third time, the computers were all full.

The fourth time, I got change. But I was 30 cents short. So I had to run and get it. And when I got back, the change machine had spit out my $5, all in quarters, so I had to redeposit all the quarters. Then it wouldn't accept my 30 cents. So I had to Cntr X several pages, print off the first part, then Cntr V those pages into a new document, and print those.

But the dang thing was printed. Hallelujah. I have GOT to get a job so we can get a printer that hooks up to my laptop.

Anyway, tonight my family went to sleep early, so I spread all 53 pages on the floor and walked about and made notes on overall structure.

I set them out by chapter, since I didn't have floor space for 53 pages all together. Chapter 16 turned out to have 25 pages. Chapter 17 had 16 pages, and Chapter 18 had 11 pages.

It was nice to see everything laid out so neatly on the floor. I could see how many pages each scene got. I could see more clearly the overall impetus of each chapter (if it had one). I could see if a block of pages had lost focus. Or a chapter, for that matter.

I found out that Chapter 16 was pretty strong. Chapter 17 sucked. Chapter 18 went by way too fast, since Kay sees Noel again, and that is rather significant. Yet only three pages out of 11 was devoted to that scene. Hm, more work.

So I feel better now that I have an idea of what needs work and what's in pretty good shape. So that was worth the hassle. Or anyway that's what I keep telling myself!

Music: "Baby Let Your Light Shine Down" by Collective Soul

10 July 2006

Kirk Franklin and Stevie Wonder!

I'm in love ....

Check out their song "Why" off Kirk Franklin's Hero album. Oh MAN. (When you click the link, scroll up just a little so you can access the Hipcast thingie. For some reason the link takes you to the middle of the comments page instead of the top.)

Get up and dance, y'all!

08 July 2006

Ban this!

Tip of the pen to Bookshelves of Doom for bringing this to light.

Seems that the Wilsona, Ca., School District is banning 23 books and bringing up rules that the library collection must abide by.
Books now cannot depict drinking alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, including "negative sexuality," implied or explicit nudity, cursing, violent crime or weapons, gambling, foul humor and "dark content."
Well, that pretty much wiped out the collection. What's negative sexuality, anyway? Is that a grumpy prostitute? Do they write picture books about grumpy prostitutes now? I seem to be missing out on all the fun trends.
"We realize there might be a story about police, but that's not violent crime, that's police doing good," Superintendent Ned McNabb said. "There's no way you can take the judgment out of it. You frame it better so it's easier to know what the guidelines are."
Whew! So Officer Buckle and Gloria are safe ... but wait! Isn't that Gloria on the endpapers, smoking a cigarette? And there she is, playing in the microwave oven! And setting her tail on fire! And rolling the police car down the hill! This book has got to go.
Trustees said one rejected book contained an unsavory hero who was a bad role model for children; another was about a warlock, which they said was inappropriate; and others were books with which they were unfamiliar and didn't know whether they promoted good character or conflicted with textbooks.
Ban first, read later, maybe.
That's the way to do it.

In their haste to get books off the shelves, some Clifford and Disney books got swept into the stack. But they'll put those back later, school officials said. However, Clifford, being a naked dog, will have shorts drawn onto his lower body. And Donald Duck ... what's with him, wearing a shirt but no pants??

The new policy states that library materials must be age-appropriate, taking into consideration the different maturity levels of district students who range in age from 5 to 14.

"For example, most of our elementary students are not dealing with issues of puberty and we do not want to encourage them to try to identify with characters that are," the policy states.

I love how they're trying to protect them from puberty. Makes it all better when the early developers suddenly get hit with it and don't know what the hell to do. (And some kids will start experiencing it in fifth or sixth grade, if I remember correctly.)
"Middle school materials may have a somewhat broader range of information. However, even at the middle school level, there can be a wide range of maturity. Materials for the middle school level should therefore be selected with appropriate limits in mind. An example: romance stories are out - puppy love is okay."
Yep! Puppy love sounds just right for the middle school student with a wide range of maturity!

*scratches head* But don't these school board members have any idea what these middle-school kids are watching on TV at home? And that you can get better, more truthful information about the world from a book? No, wait, books are out to exploit readers, make sex glamorous, make drugs and smoking glamorous. It's like those books with Sarah Jessica Parker and all her friends talking about sex. And there are all these giant explosions and long car chases everywhere in books. You read a book and it makes you get all hopped up and want to go out and wreck stuff.

And that's what happened to me. I read books all the time, and I always got in trouble. From Mom. Because I ... um. Because I spent so much time reading subversive books that I didn't do my chores.

*dead silence*

Um, yeah. I was a bad, bad girl.

On the CD player -- "Ballad of Waterhole #3 (Code of the West)" -- Roger Miller

06 July 2006

Symphonians songlist!

Many have asked me about the songs that keep popping up through my Symphonians novel.

Actually, nobody has asked me a damn thing, but that's not going to stop me from making a fool playlist of a lot of the songs that have shown up through the novel. And it's odd that a novel with Symphonians in it has so many blues/rock songs in it. But that's the way it's turned out.

Load this up on your i-Pods, people!

"Brick by Brick" -- Kelley Hunt
"Hurt" -- Johnny Cash
"Take Me For a Little While" -- Coverdale/Page
"Ordinary People -- John Legend
"Musetta's Waltz" -- Puccini
The final so-called aria from Wozzeck -- Berg
"Confessing the Blues" -- Jay McShann
"Roll 'Em, Pete" -- Count Basie
Holst's First and Second Suites (especially the Dargason Fantasy, which gets explicated)
"Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" -- Rachmaninoff (the supernatural pianist is Ashkenazy)
Bach's Goldberg Variations (I like to use Bach to represent order, clockwork, etc.)
"Walking the Dog" -- Gershwin
"Nessun Dorma" -- Puccini -- performed by Aretha Franklin, of course!
(Puccini seems to pop up when there's a passion in the air.)
Verdi's Requiem -- the "devil chasing you to hell" part, the Dies irae.
"I Don't Care Anymore" -- Phil Collins
"Hand on Heart" -- Queensryche
Der Winterreise -- Schubert
"I Don't Know How to Love Him" -- Helen Reddy
"On My Own" -- Les Miserables
"We Tell Ourselves" -- Clint Black
"Rivera Paradise" -- Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble
"In the End" --Linkin Park
"Love Bites" -- Def Leppard
"Right Now" -- Van Halen
"Sleepers Wake" -- Bach
"Love Never Dies" -- Kelley Hunt

Songlists are fun.

05 July 2006

Mr. Rogers to the rescue!

Actually, that's Carl Rogers, the humanist psychologist who wants people to keep it real. I had his book On Becoming a Person for ages, and only this weekend did I pick it up and start reading. What I found was immensely helpful. New ways to look at motives, ideas on undertaking the quest for self-knowledge, and ideas on how people work and hide things from themselves. (And that hiding thing keeps popping up in the Symphonians, too.)

I've been typing quotes from the book to give myself some ideas. And now I'm wanting to read more books by more psychologists. I have a lot of Jung, though he's kind of obtuse and flighty. But I do have a book of Maslov's, so I'll tackle that next. I have read parts of Maslov's book ages ago, and I remember that his writing is pretty straightforward. Rogers tries to be straightforward but I still find myself reading parts of it over and over. However, I keep getting interrupted every whipstitch, so it's hard to keep the myriad parts in my head as I go.

I loved psychology in high school and college, so I'm really digging this text. Not to mention that, as a writer, I've got to understand how humans work, especially as they're so cussedly contrary about every damn thing, and nobody wants to easily understood, though they say they do. How can others understand them when they can't understand themselves? All the defenses we put up against ourselves. No wonder we can't connect with others; we can't even connect with our own true selves. Who is that in there? How do I find you? How do I find me?

As an added bonus, I get to question my own behavior, and try to figure out what her deal is. She wants so badly to be a writer, yet there are times, like recently, that she fritters away so much time, then complains about how she never has time to write. Tsk!

03 July 2006

Quick update.

Haven't heard anything back from the agent on the Rose Saga proposal. Maybe she has experienced a dental emergency. Just my luck.

Got all snarled up in Symphonians. In trying to write new scenes, I've started writing repetitious scenes. I'm trying to plot the course of this relationship but it seems to me to be the same things over and over: attraction/repulsion, I love you/run away, alas if only Noel could, etc.

I have to wonder: Am I following too closely the original relationship? I am using it as a framework, but on the other hand I do have to make up a lot of stuff since I don't have a lot of documentation for the first part of the relationship. I wrote up several month's worth of calendars to show what happened on what day, to try to see how the original relationship went, and I have these huge gaps everywhere. I even traveled to the guy's hometown but never mentioned it in my journal. Probably because I mentioned it in the other journal, the one he has and I don't. Oh, egad!

Basically I'm trying to get this new narrative to cover the months of September, October, and November, at which point I can hook up with the old narrative pretty well.

Also I'm trying to figure out what to say about life, love, relationships, and the world over those three months, and what scenes would best do the job. But then I get these repetitious scenes, as I have mentioned before.

Cripes, why can't I just get a cushy job as a soil scientist instead?

(Because you got a D in Dr. Gille's Soils class, that's why.)

I need to get to work and try to sort this madness out before my little family comes home. Wish me luck, y'all.

Here's a quarter, call someone who cares.

The Who (singing): I'm free!
BRC: He's free, but I cost a nickel.