Wednesday, November 30, 2005

If I'm Not Blogging, I Must Be Busy....

I guess the more there is going on in my life, the less blogging I do every day, which means there's more to catch up on when I squeeze in some time.

If I had had time to blog on Monday, the entry would have been called "In Sickness and In Health." Eugene woke up with a severe headache that wouldn't go away. He tried going into work anyway, but he had to turn around and come back home. Let's just say he made it back just in time. He felt better by the end of the day, but we're still not sure what he had. It might have been a stomach bug, but a friend suggested it could have been a migraine, even though Eugene has never had one before. I hope that's not it.

I managed to finish Chapter Two of Day and posted it on the workshop late Monday night. So far it has three reviews. I got some praise for it and some comments about character development and something else that's eluding me at the moment. (I'm too lazy to look up what it is.) Currently I'm moving forward with Three. The original version was over 8000 words, so I think I'll split it in two. I have to decide what scenes I want in the next chapter, though; I'm not sure the chapter break comes at a good hook.

In other news, I'm finished with cookies for this year. Eugene and I frosted the sugar cookies tonight. I didn't bother doing anything fancy as far as designs go; I just spread frosting on the cookies and added occasional sprinkles. We have alien "gingerbread men" this year. Eugene used green frosting on some of them; I then tried to use food coloring to make brown frosting, but I wound up with gray instead. Maybe for next year we should find cookie cutters with pointy Vulcan ears. ;) Eugene also brought over some more ornaments for the tree, and we finished decorating it. (Well, not quite: we need to take a picture of us for "Our First Christmas" ornament before we hang it up.)

And on that note, I think I'll finish this entry so I can crash.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Seven hundred sixteen words on Day! Part of me wants to stop so I can goof off, but part of me feels I should ride this writing wave for as long as I can. Now if I can bring some of the energy to Key, that would be great.

Half a Tree Is Better Than None

Back in my single days of oh, two months or so ago, I never bothered putting up a Christmas tree in my apartment. (Of course, two months ago it was still September, and that's way too early. But that's beside the point.) I spend more time in my office than in my living room, no matter what time of year it is. Since I spend Christmas Eve with my parents, why go through the hassle of putting up a tree, decorating it, and taking it down several weeks later? I wasn't a complete Grinch; I put up some Christmas decorations, like lights along the bookshelves and stockings by the balcony. Once I even tried to string lights and ornaments on my ficus tree, but Mr. Ficus didn't seem to appreciate it. (He doesn't like it when I take the pruning shears to him either, but if I don't, he'd take over the living room.) Anyway, now that I have a husband living with me, we want to make our home more, well, homey. (Not to be confused with homely.) So today we temporarily ceased the 2005 Holiday Bakeathon to go to Walmart, since we need tins to ship out all these cookies anyway.

We picked a nice big tree with the idea that it should be big enough to work in a house, since we hope to have our own house by this time next year. We dragged it upstairs and started to assemble it when we realized it was too wide to fit in the tiny space we'd allocated for it, and there's not enough room here to move things around to accomodate the tree. So we compromised; we squeezed the tree into a corner and only put on enough branches to cover the "public" area. The floor doesn't seem to be quite level in that corner, and with all the weight on one side, we had to use both a counterweight and some yarn tied around a fixture to keep the tree from toppling over. This is in keeping with all of the misadventures Eugene and I seem to get ourselves into, so I find the whole thing hilarious. But we put some lights and the few ornaments I have on the half-a-tree, and suddenly it seems as Christmasy as a whole tree. We're not done decorating yet; Eugene has some ornaments at his parents' house he plans to bring over, and we might get some others to fill things out. At least we don't have to decorate the back of the tree! When it's done, I'll post a picture; I'm too lazy now.

Eugene and I should be done with our baking in the next couple of days. Here's the recap of what I've made so far:

Peanut Butter Blossoms--Very good.
Lemon Slice Cookies--One of my favorites. The dough was a little dry this year, but they still turned out well.
Choco-Mint Snaps--Another of my favorites. Usually they're pretty moist, but this year they seemed dry. I wonder what I did wrong.
Pfeffernusse--I'm German; I have to make these! They were good.
Sugar Cookies--I'm a sucker for frosting, but these were still good even plain. Once we get some larger bins so I can store them properly, I plan to make buttercream frosting from scratch and decorate them. Ummm, frosting....
Chocolate Florentines--These were a disappointment. They're supposed to be sandwich cookies with a chocolate layer. I always make them too big, and I lost two trays' worth when the cookies wouldn't come off the foil. Next time I try these, I should use the parchment paper Eugene swears by. By the time I sandwiched these, I only had fourteen left. Oh well.
Lemon Madelines--This is the only batch I still have to make. I'll probably do them this week, since Eugene has taken over the kitchen to bake biscotti. He'll have to add his own baking report.

Despite all of this baking, I managed to catch up on the crits I owe on OWW. (Sue has graciously suggested I skip reviewing her latest novel, since I've seen it before and need more time to work on my own stuff.) I even had time to chat with Sue. And yes, I'm writing too. Haven't done much with anything in the Lennon's Line saga recently, but I'm making progress with Day. I'm working on the final scene of Chapter Two, where I introduce Jenna. I think she's coming across as more sympathetic with some of the changes I've made to her situation. The chapter as a whole doesn't have enough descriptive "texture" yet. I can tell a good book by the details that make the world vivid, and this draft doesn't have enough of them yet. It's as if trying to juggle description along with character, plot, and dialogue is still too many balls for me to handle. :( I must work more on this; I have an idea for a short story that might help me work on description. Still need to thrash out the plot and characters, though. Anyway, I hope to get another chapter of Day up on the workshop soon, though with all the holiday prep still to do, who knows how long it will take?

And on that note, I should shut up and write. If this was my novel, I'd be very happy with all the words I'd written today. May the Muse be with me, please!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Playing with Pictures

OK, just for Russ, I'm going to try adding some pictures:

Eugene took the picture of me on the left a few minutes ago. Unfortunately, I'd already brushed all the curls out of my hair, so it's a bit anticlimatic. You have to look next to my face to see any of the layers; they blend in with the rest of my hair. Adam and Natalie took pictures when we were at the restaurant, so if they send me a copy, I'll post that so you can get a better idea of what my hair looked like this afternoon. Sorry, Russ! (And no, I'm not trying to hide my identity with the glasses; I wear them most of the time because I can't wear contacts in the lab at work. I do have contacts for special occasions.)

We had dinner tonight at Maggiano's with our friends Adam and Natalie, who were visiting the Chicago area. Their picture is on the right. Both of them were in our wedding, so we had lots of proofs to show them. We had a fun time and wish we could see them more often.

I have more pictures to post, including some of the get-together in Madison and of Thanksgiving, but I think I'll add them tomorrow. I'm not sure how many pictures I can have in each blog entry anyway.

Give Me a Head with Hair...

This should be newsworthy; I got a haircut.

I'm very conservative when it comes to changing my style, and though the length may have changed a bit, my hairstyle has been pretty much the samee for the last eight or nine years. Lately, however, I've been feeling like I'm in a rut, so with the new marriage, I decided (with a lot of nervousness) to get a new haircut. I looked at a couple of websites for ideas, but nothing really appealed to me. Finally, I went into a salon today and asked the stylist for suggestions. He recommended layers to frame my face. They're not too short--around chin length--so hopefully I can still French braid my hair. He also blow-dried it in a way to take advantage of the waves in my hair. It almost looks like a perm now, but I can still comb it straight. So far I'm happy with the cut, but I need to live with it for a few days to see how well it works for me. I wonder what Eugene will think when he comes home. He's leaving work early tonight so we can have dinner with our friends Adam and Natalie, who were in our wedding. We have lots of pictures to show them!

Anyway, since I spent the morning baking cookies, I haven't done any writing yet today. I may as well try to do something before we go. I'll post about the dinner tonight or tomorrow--and maybe I'll stop being lazy and figure out how to add pictures to my blog.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Time for a Quick Update

Well, since I last posted, I did get to read the EC review I mentioned in my last blog entry. It was one of those reviews where even if I agreed with some of the points, a good solution didn't come to me right away, so that was frustrating. One of my regular reviewers also told me she liked the original first chapter I'd posted back in May better, so now I'm wondering if I need to go back to that. Perhaps I can combine elements of the two. At least I have a good excuse for setting the rewrite aside for a while; I need to move forward with the book. Opening chapters are crucial and do need a lot of rework, but at the same time, you don't want to get stuck revising them endlessly. Better to get all of Day through the workshop before I revise again. I just hope I can manage it faster than I did with Lennon's Line.

I took a day off from writing last night because I was tired, but today I wrote about 250 words on Day and finished Luke's scene. I'm not sure if Chapter Two has enough tension, but I do need to introduce my other main characters here. We'll see how it plays on the OWW.

Time for some non-writing news. Eugene and I have officially started our annual bout of insanity known as Holiday Baking. Between us, we're making about a dozen types of biscotti and cookies (he does the biscotti, I do the cookies). I've already baked two of the six types of cookies I plan to make this year, and tomorrow I'll do a third. We want to get it done early so we can get the calories out of the house--I mean, share the goodies with our friends and family.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, today was the first time I didn't go to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. I called them this morning, but it was still a little strange. At least I've had T-day with Eugene's family before this, so I knew what to expect. We showed off our 971 pictures to Eugene's aunt, brothers, and cousins. We're just starting to select the pictures for our album, and it's going to be tough. At least we're doing it a little at a time.

I should have more interesting things to post tomorrow night or possibly Saturday. In the meantime, if anyone wants to comment on the story so far, please do so. I know my friend Sue tried to post comments a couple of times, but they don't show up. I changed the settings for comments, so let's hope I don't get Spamalot. The musical was great, but spam and blogs just don't mix for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Editor's Choice

Well, Eugene and I came home after doing some shopping about an hour ago. (We bought some items off our registries at Crate and Barrel and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.) I checked my e-mail and found out that the first chapter of my fantasy novel has been selected as an Editor's Choice. Basically, what that means is that one of the professional writers/editors associated with the workshop is going to post a review of my chapter in the next newsletter. Some workshop members look on this as a sign of distinction, but what I think it means is that the editor has something to say about the chapter that he/she thinks will be useful to the workshop as a whole. So that probably means there are some aspects of the chapter that need improvement. Heck, I know it needs improvement, and thanks to the crits I've already received, I know there's too much of an info-dump in the beginning, the end needs work, etc. I wonder if the editor will go beyond that and point out other things as well. It's a little nerve-wracking, the idea that this review will be sent out to hundreds of people. I've done face-to-face workshops before, but those were with smaller groups of people. I guess I should be honest; deep down, I'm still the perfectionist I've always been, and I want my work to be as good as I can make it before I show it to other people. But in the long run, the critting will make my work stronger. Hopefully, the crit will be constructive and teach me something. And there are a couple of advantages to having my chapter be reviewed in the newsletter; it may encourage more people to read/review my work (yes, I know I gripe about my crit workload now, but I've lost some of my regulars and could use some fresh sets of eyes), and it gets my name out to a lot of people in the SF field. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

In other writing news, the second chapter of Day is going slowly. I've written three scenes with three of the main characters; now I need the scenes for Luke and Jenna. I'm changing some things about Luke's character, so I'm throwing out his entire scene and starting from scratch. Once I figure out what to do with his scene, I should be able to make some progress. I don't plan to do more than tweak Jenna's scene, but knowing me, once I read it, I'll decide I should throw that out too and write it all over again. I must learn to stop doing that. ;)

In non-writing news, there's not much to report. Eugene and I are making plans for Thanksgiving weekend. We're spending it with his family this year, since my dad is still recovering from surgery. Next Friday, we're having our annual Thanksgiving get-together with Adam and Natalie, friends of ours from the East Coast. They were in our wedding, so we'll show them the proofs. We're also starting to plan our holiday baking extraganza and getting ready for the party we're throwing in a couple of weeks. Busy, busy, busy, but it should be a fun busy.

And now I should really get writing busy and figure out what to do with Luke. Good night, everybody!

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Am Not Dead Yet....

Or even pining for the fields. ;) I've been juggling the various demands of work, housekeeping, spousekeeping, and, of course, writing. My friend Russ just posted in his blog that the only people allowed to say they're busy are parents of little kids. Ever try to write a book, or worse, several books? They're all like hyperactive toddlers running screaming around my brain, insisting on my attention when I have to do something else but not cooperating once I'm finally in front of my computer. I'm afraid of what they would be like if they were teenagers. ;)

So, if there is such a thing as a reader of this blog, the hypothetical reader may be wondering how my writing is going. I've been working on both Day of All Seasons (Chapter Two, where I introduce all of the new Season Lords) and The Key to All Locked Doors. For Day, I finished rewriting the second scene, with Ysabel. I think I still need to weave in a few details about her mother to set up later events, plus I also have to decide if I want to alter Kay's character, since she comes next. Key is moving like molassess, as usual, but I did get some work done on it today at the doctor's office. It would be nice to finish this chapter by the end of the year, since I posted the first chapter on my site well over a year ago. High time I get the first draft of this done, isn't it, especially when I want to revise both Lennon's Line (and decide if I really want to keep it about the Lennon family or if it would be more prudent to file off some of the Beatleness, no matter how painful) and Catalyst in the Crucible. I also have four crits to do on OWW. I've been trying to put my stuff first, and I do write better when I start earlier at night. It still takes me hours to crit some chapters, even if I don't nit the grammar. Other things I want to do are update my website and finish going through my wedding photos by Thanksgiving.

In real life, I did a couple of interesting things. Saturday, Eugene and I went to a holiday party for his mother's company. They had a raffle, and I was feeling lucky, punk. Sure enough, we won...drum roll, please....a black light shaped like a light saber. We are now fully prepared should Darth Vader invade our bedroom at 2 a.m. We can even check him for ringworm at the same time.

Saturday, Eugene and I drove up to Wisconsin to visit my dear friend Liz. She was maid of honor at our wedding, so we wanted to show her our pictures. We're also good friends with her parents, and they enjoyed the pictures too. Liz had a bit of a headache, unfortunately, but it's always nice to see her because it's so hard to schedule something with her work hours.

Anyway, I think that's enough for now. Time to see if I can crank out a few more words for Key before retiring.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I've spent the last two days trying to review a single chapter on the Online Writing Workshop. (Names and titles withheld to protect the innocent or not-so-innocent, as the case may be.) I didn't get all my comments done in a single session, so I posted what I had as of yesterday afternoon, then worked on it again last night. Unfortunately, as I was finishing up, the OWW logged me out, and I lost all of my changes. That'll teach me not to write it up in Word first! It was frustrating having to review it twice, but at least I had a better idea of what to say the second time around. Still, I'd like to make more progress and clear more of the crits I owe before more new chapters get posted. There are days when it would be easier to push rocks uphill in Hades! (Just kidding, really.)

Needless to say, I haven't gotten far on my own work. After the log-out yesterday, I did manage to write over a hundred words in The Key to All Locked Doors, the latest installment in my Lennon's Line saga. One of these days, I hope to finish the chapter. Of course, I'm also revising the second chapter of Day of All Seasons before I post it to the workshop as well. And once I finish reading some of the recent Lennon biographies, I should start revising Lennon's Line. And people think I spend too much time at the computer as it is. Sigh.

Not much going on in real life at the moment. Eugene and I are starting to plan our annual holiday frenzy of baking and entertaining. With all of the people we plan to send cookies to this year, we'll be very busy! At least I have an excuse to try some new receipes. I'm slowly going through our wedding photos and picking out my favorites; I'm only a third of the way through. Two months isn't enough time to get the album figured out. Let's hope Eugene and I agree in our scary way on what we want to do with it.

Speaking of Eugene, I assume he might like it if I spend some time with him, so I'd better call it a night.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Busy Evening

I had a lot of chores to do today. I left work early so I could go pick up my car. (I was in an accident a couple of weeks ago when I had to stop for traffic that had stopped for deer. The car behind me hit my right rear bumper so hard I got knocked into the other lane. Is that the real reason deer cross the road?) It's nice to have my own car back after driving a rental for over a week; I'm much more comfortable with the controls. Then I had to stop at the store, run a few loads of laundry, and get dinner going before Eugene came home. Once we got the laundry folded, I started a project that will take me a while--going through all 971 of our wedding proofs and marking which ones I'd like in our album. I figure I'll review two or three books a day. Of course, even after I finish, Eugene and I will have to decide which ones will make the final cut, how to lay them out, and so on. Good thing we have two months; will that be enough time?

Since I was running late, I decided to skip reviewing the next OWW chapter on my list and work on my own stuff. Words came slowly tonight, but I managed about 200 on Day of All Seasons (part of my fantasy trilogy). Hopefully I finished the scene I was working on, though I'm not sure I like the final sentence. We'll see what I decide to do tomorrow--and if I'm able to revise the next scene without throwing it out and starting over. For some wierd reason, that always seems easier than revising the words on the page. ;)

If all work and no play makes Sandra a dull woman, then I guess I should shut up for the night and goof off with one of the games I've downloaded from Yahoo! Sleep? I don't need no stinkin....zzzzzzzzzzzzz......

Sunday, November 06, 2005


It's all Heather's fault that I'm blogging. :)

Heather is a friend of mine who recently started a blog of her own. I wanted to post a reply, but I couldn't unless I registered. So here I am. I suppose it's inevitable, given that college friends and some of my writing friends are blogging as well. Whether or not I'll find time to keep this up is another story.

A little about myself: I'm 35 and recently married to a wonderful husband named Eugene. My day job is as an assistant scientist in R&D for an enzyme company. In my copious seconds of free time, I'm a science fiction/fantasy writer. I've sold one short story to an anthology which hasn't been published yet. I'm currently working on two separate trilogies, one science fiction (involving time/space travel, alternate universes, quantum mechanics, space colonies, an AI, Shakespeare, and John Lennon's clone--but otherwise nothing much) and one quasi-Victorian fantasy centered around a group of four magical women. Plus I'm also a member of OWW, an online writing workshop for science fiction/fantasy writers. This means I spend lots of time reviewing other people's work and getting reviewed in return. It's helpful, though; I couldn't have sold that short story without the reviews I got from other people. Add in taking care of the apartment and monitoring my favorite forums, and some days I'm lucky if I get five minutes to read. Sigh.

Believe it or not, I do get away from the computer once in a while. I was up in Madison this weekend for the World Fantasy Convention. I attended a bunch of panels on writing and got to meet some people from OWW in person. Eugene and I also had an annual get-together/dinner with some of our friends from college. I haven't downloaded the pictures I took yet, but I'll do that in the next day or so.

I should probably explain the title of my blog. As an SF/F writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about my stories. While I do care about what's going on in the real world, I don't devote much attention to the latest TV, music, movies, and so on; I focus instead on my writing. So how much do I have in common with other people who aren't writers? It's as if my real country is Writing, not Mundania. While I'll discuss other things going on with my life, I intend to talk about writing and my current projects here as well.

Speaking of writing, I think this is enough for one post. I didn't get much writing done at the convention, so it's time to return to fiction for a while....

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