Running Amuck

Best mental image of my night @BrianaBvedsted: Character on the loose! Warning! Look out for a druid in a cowboy hat!

cowboy-hatD: I cannot believe you.

A: What?

D: How many of your brain cells died in the exchange?

A: Oh, lighten up, D. It’s funny!

D: . . .

A: I tell you what – how about we give you a fez instead of a cowboy hat?

D: Now you’re mocking me.

A: Yes, but only gently.

D: But you put it on Facebook and Twitter. And you dragged poor Briana into it! You are a danger to society, A!

A: You don’t even know what Twitter is.

D: I do so; a whole bunch of your pointless ridiculousness is right there along the side of the blog.

A: And . . . ?

D: You’d forgo an English Degree to watch Disney movies? Misty Mountains Cold? With Minions? Really A? That is hardly worthy—

A: You leave Misty Mountains out of it, D.

D: Oh, oh wait! I forgot. That’s your inspiration.

A: Oi, Druid!

D: Two can play at this game, A.fez

A: All right, all right. Behave yourself and I won’t tell people that the conversation devolved into you streaking through town with just a cowboy hat!

D: A!!!

A: Are you sure about not wanting the fez?

That was the most fun I’ve had on Twitter (or with D) ever. And I can’t thank Briana enough for indulging me!  Similar to the post I reblogged from 1WriteWay, the sheer variety of digital communications can be overwhelming. When I first signed on to Twitter, it was with a great deal of trepidation. I don’t think Dante would be too put out if I put it somewhere between the third and fourth Circle of Hell. However, it has grown on me – I’m slowly (really slowly – cold molasses move faster than me) learning how to converse in the Twitterverse. Likely, it will never be my go-to format, but I do notice that the interaction is just that – interaction. It’s almost like comments here on WordPress.

Do you Twitter/Tweeter/Sing like a bird? Which social media platform do you like the best for interaction?

Phoning it in

D: I can’t believe you’re typing this on your phone.

A: I know – watch out for autocorrect fails.

D: Auto-what? A it’s bad enough you didn’t listen to your intuition and do this at lunch. Must you add insult to injury?

A: Yes?

Anyway, this is supposed to be my first-of-the-month, Rome Construction Crew Update. I think, in light of the fact that I’m posting this in 3G, those updates and goals for the month shall be brief.

D: Can you actually manage brief?

A: With you? Not bloody likely! If you could refrain–

D: From being me?

A: I’d consider it a favor.

D: I suppose, under the circumstances–

A: Cheers, D. So, progress:

  • Part 2, first draft, is complete, as is the first read-through. I have some structural edits to make, but it’s decent.
  • Also have an outline for part 3 and wrote the first 500 words… The outline is on my google drive, and thus unavailable to me, but im pretty sure I haven’t trashed it.

D: Yet.

A: D!!

D: Sorry.

A: No you’re not.

D: Who’s wasting 3G bandwidth now??

A: You don’t even know what that is – but good point.

  • On a personal note, I’m doing better at the whole low-sugar, grain-free thing (paleo/primal), and resurrected my exercise regime. Weight is, for now, steady – higher, but steady.
  • Garden is in and flourishing. Late spring / early summer sucked weather-wise, but the potatoes are practically gleeful.

D: Can potatoes even be–

A: (Glare)

D: Right – oh look, a blue box.

A: Madman.

  • Finally, I’m waiting for the Part 1 beta readers’ feedback, but I think each “Book” in the Out of Time (working title) series, will a self-contained series. It feels more appropriate to Book 1 anyway, and means interesting things for Books 2 & 3.

Goals for July

  • Signed up for the July Camp (insert abbreviation jumble that means I’m writing 50k words in a month here). That will take care of Parts 2 and 3. 2013-Participant-Lantern-Circle-Badge
  • Develop and prep food/recipe cleanup project, which I hope to debut by month-end. D will not feature.
  • Start researching potential agents/markets. After much research, I know I haven’t the personal resources to self-publish in a way that would please my hidden perfectionist soul. Or impress enough people to at least make it pay for itself.
  • Complete my beta reading assignment – it has a deadline, so it’s a given (gotta have a few of those, right?!).
  • Set up all the delightful guest posts for my two-week child-free writing hermitage. All of you are fantastic. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
  • Read a book – preferably a frivolous, delightful book. I’m open to suggestions.
  • Also, I’m thinking of adding something along the lines of “The Story So Far” to this blog. It would be a road-map/synopsis of where I am in the Out of Time/Sean & Maureen journey and would introduce the players and the events a little better to give D and I a bit more context.

D:Make people feel a bit more welcome, perhaps? Help them understand the crazy universe that you reference willy-nilly as though we all had access to your head?

A: Says the character in my head.

D: Precisely. Are you done yet?

A: One more! I want to outline one longer piece of fiction and write two other short pieces that aren’t related to the Out of Time universe, and submit a piece I’ve been working on for the RCC.

D: Always have to have the last word, hm?

A: I learned from the Master, D.

Final last word (I promise): The time may be nigh (ok, in a year or so) for an adventure. If you could go anywhere, if things like Visas and Passports weren’t an issue, where would you go? How long would you stay? What would you do?

One does not simply

D: A? A, are you ok?

A: Grumph!

D: I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch that.

A: Harumph garumph!

D: Are you attempting to learn a new language? I know it may or may not be a Pre- Indo-European language, but Pict doesn’t sound like that.

A: Gah!

D: Uh. . . A?

A: Sorry – too much peanut butter.

D: (Starting already?)

A: (Cooking failed today. Cooking failed miserably.)

D: (I see.)

This has no reason to be here, except that Captain Jack is my third favorite immortal, after 10 and River. Oh, wait, I know… walking into Mordor is how I felt about reading my own stuff wholesale. Yeah. That’s it.

This has no reason to be here, except that Captain Jack is my third favorite immortal, after 10 and River. Oh, wait, I know… walking into Mordor is how I felt about reading my own stuff wholesale. Yeah. That’s it.

A: Do you have any idea how difficult it is to read 100 pages (Times New Roman 12pt, double spaced) of your own writing . . . without touching a single word?!?!?!

D: Um, I’m a Pict, remember? We didn’t write down our epic greatness.

A: I’m beginning to see why. I read a great post over at Creative Writing with the Crimson League, and it struck me that I had never read any first, second or even third draft of my work without attacking it with my pen or cursor, or whatever was handy to make edits.

D: Never?

A: Never ever.

D: I’m afraid to ask, but how did you do?

A: okay, ish.

D: Ish? It’s late, A. Could you please spare me from . . . you?

A: Cheers, D. It was tolerable. I didn’t hate what I read, and while there are about ten million pages of edits to attempt, it was worth it. It was excruciating, but it was worth it.

D: What doesn’t kill you, A–

A: Might end up killing you, D.

D: Right, no platitudes. Well then, shall we get to it?

A: Be my guest!

The Druid Tells the Tale

Charles of that fantastic world of Windemere has a cover art update – check out the Prodigy of Rainbow Tower. It looks stunning – my kind of story, as well.

A: You only wish you could shoot flames out of your hands, D.

D: And what makes you think I cannot?

A: You only shoot fire out of your hands if rainbow sparkles also come out your–

D: Moving right along! A, don’t you have a tale to tell?

A: Well, isn’t that tempting. . . I mean, yes!! I do. Head over to Ionia’s Readful Things Blog to catch the last (boo) installment Harry Steinman’s series on Marketing and Publishing. This post covered cracking Amazon’s Top 100 Paid in Kindle store. The entire series has been excellent; I can’t say enough about how helpful it’s been to me as a newbie.

D: (no comment.)

A: (shut up, D.)

A Invites the Audience’s Participation

What is the hardest part about editing for you (aside from the editing itself)? Do you have to sit on your hands and banish pens from your sight in order to read what you’ve written without making any edits the first time around?

Updates, or why I fail at goals

female-writer-sepA: Get in the box, D.

D: But–

A: Stop stalling, D, and get in the box . . . please.

D: But I am claustrophobic.

A: Not even that nice shiny blue one?

D: A, I am a time-travelling Pictish warrior-prince and Druid, not a time-travelling alien with two hearts.

A: Killjoy.

D: Crabby.

A: Okay, okay. Please just sit there and be quiet. Can you manage that?

D: If I must.

A: You must. Cheers, D.

I am going to chat about goals. And how I suck at them. Some of my big goals, which I posted over at the Rome Construction Crew, include finishing Part 2 of the book by my birthday, maintaining a more paleo lifestyle because it made me feel better, developing a platform online for the books, and ultimately finishing the Book 1 in the series by the end of the summer. On Monday, I posted goals about how I wanted to write. And be productive. And write. And organize this blog a little differently. And write.

And, none of that happened. My birthday was three days ago (and a great friend held a party last weekend – I asked Green Embers to do a dedication to her… ask him to do one for you!), and Part 2 is still in pieces. I love the white potato so much it makes paleo look at me in horror (but I still try, because I do feel better). Completing the book by the end of summer? I can still do that. Maybe. As for my weekly goals: they died.

The reasons why are frivolous: it was a short week, I covered for a sick co-worker and had a birthday dinner that lasted later than anticipated, because my mother and I forgot to turn on the oven (hello, sangria). So, I failed at my goals.

And I’m going to celebrate.

Yup. Celebrate. I – like many – can be a little hard on myself. I worry. I over-compensate. D gets ornery and things generally don’t go as well as they could. While frivolous, my week conspired against achieving anything of note. By worrying about it, I helped the conspirators.

I read a post at Critical Margins earlier this week, about how even excellent writers are bad writers sometimes. Because that is what it takes to get the words out on the page. I loved it and completely identify. On days when I’m just not feeling it, but I’m sitting at the computer anyway, this is what I tell myself. Just write it. It’ll suck, but do it anyway. Get it out there; it’ll be okay. Then there are those times where I hammer at my brain and expect excellence, thus becoming my own worst enemy, which isn’t unique by any stretch. This was one of those weeks.

So today, I’m celebrating failure.

Because even in my failure, I did get the following accomplished:

  • I typed up my notes and scenes that I hand-wrote last week. In doing so, I drafted the highlights of the rest of Part 2 and set the tone.
  • I came to grips with the fact that Maureen gets to face her demons and come out the other side now, and Sean can progress in his turn. That means it’s okay for this part to be ornery. (I like that word, and will use it at least three more times. Maybe not in this post, but in some post, some time. I could do a treasure hunt for the blog… find the word “ornery” and win a prize: grumpy cat meme. It could work.)
  • I killed a darling. Not a character, but an idea that I really wanted to work, but just didn’t. Not this time, not for Sean and Maureen. And possibly not for anything, unless I really get my Irish on and get all maudlin about something.
  • I helped my son prepare for his “Highlights from Hamlet” performance, and found a make-your-own karaoke track for Rock of Ages’ “We Built This City/We’re Not Going to Take It” for another group performance during the school talent show. I couldn’t go to the show, so I’m happy I was able to help him.
  • I learned more about marketing and developing a platform from this great series hosted by Ionia at Readful Things Blog. Hey, wait, that was a goal! Yes!
  • I have done more creative work in the last two weeks than I have in the last 10 years. Well, not true – all I have

    Hush – One of the best Buffy episodes

    done for the last six months is write, but it’s been all Sean and Maureen (and D as Dubh/Dubhal/Declan) all the time. Now, I have a granny skinny dipping, ghost merpeople, Claude – my first work of fan fiction – and a short story that may find a place in the beginning of Part 2. That’s a whole new world of crazy that just opened up in my brain, and for that I have all of you – the RCC crew, The Community Storyboard, my fellow bloggers, and my son, who doesn’t mind when I flash him signs saying “Bug off, writing” so long as they have pictures from the Buffy “Hush” episode – to thank.

There you have it. At goal setting, I fail, but at living life in general, I’m okay.

D: You are a beautiful loser, A.

A: Thanks, D.

When in Rome

female-writer-sepD: What is this, A? Why am I in a box? Is this your idea of a joke – mad man in a box? I find your Dr. Who references to be very inappropriate. . . . A? A, where are you?

A: It’s just for a moment, D. I need to get something off my chest. I need to explain why I took to the blogosphere to exorcise – I mean celebrate – our wonderful relationship.

D: A? I don’t think I like where this is going, A.

A: Tough, Druid. Buck it up.

D: . . .

A: D is a figment of the imagination. I know this. The only problem: it’s not my imagination.

I gave him a place to play, yes. I’ve encouraged his growth, gave flourish to his ego, and even (gasp) appreciated his finer points and smoothed some of his rough edges. But he is not mine.

D was given to me over 13 years ago. The Irishman who would one day have the distinction of becoming my ex-husband read my book and said, “Sure, it’s great. (Liar.) But I see someone else in it.” He told me about D. He was a blond then, a Celt and a Druid. His eyes were still blue but he was actually far more taciturn and far more forbidding. He couldn’t stay in my head for 13 years and stay that way, though.

Hearing his description of D, I agreed. He had a place in the story and I went about writing it in. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t great, and I couldn’t read it without cringing in places. The story didn’t sit well with me, so I went to write another one.

It wasn’t until I was half-way through the outline that I realized that D had a place there, too; it was the tale of his beginning. I knew too that if this was his beginning, then he had his own story to tell, and lucky me, I was the one to tell it.

There was a problem, however: I didn’t like him much.

Worse than that. I couldn’t see him.

I’m a visual person. I watch a movie in my head when I read and I’m fascinated by the visual interpretations of books on screen, even if they are often semi-comic/tragic interpretations.  For me not to be able to see D was a big problem. His story is actually one I enjoy (even if he drives me crazy), and I felt like I let him and the story down.

Then, life got in my way. Not only that, but the world changed.

Facebook, twitter, ebooks – it exploded!

I had a website – 3 actually – back in the Angelfire days. One, as I mentioned in our “award” dialogue, was connected to NBC for a brief time. I chatted with Irish, Scots and Basque Nationalists and will never look at the Blue Bunny the same way again.

There are many similarities between that world and our own, but when you’ve been gone – working, raising a child, paying too much attention to the mundane details of life – getting back in the game is daunting.

But I knew I had to do it. I now work at a magazine publishing house. I know how this goes. I know I need to make myself marketable. But I’ve struggled with how. For over a year I’ve been exploring my own brain (scary place) and wondering just how to market myself when asking an avid train enthusiast to buy the latest “Railroad Maps” special issue makes me cringe.

How can I do that when the foundation for my books ticks me off and remains elusive?

So, ten years passed without a word written. Rather, I wrote, but on conservation subdivisions, water gardens and the economics of land conservation. I blocked D off. I ignored him. Friends called, said they were dreaming about D, and could I please write something, maybe?

I tried. I had inspiration. I blocked out the new outlines for a revised Book 1 & 2 that made sense, outlines that seemed right.

But I couldn’t write them.

I didn’t understand, but I knew that one day, I would. I let the frustration go, and just let it be.

Then, it was TC’s birthday. We celebrated his birthday and the world not ending by going to a movie. It was lovely; I still listen to the soundtrack. Every day. My nearly-teen son teases me. I still listen.

This is not D, but TC and I still had fun shooting the pictures anyway!

This is not D, but TC and I still had fun shooting the pictures anyway!

After the movie, I had my celebratory glass of wine (or rather my I-survived-20-hrs-of-labor-and-100-extra-pounds glass of wine). I started thinking about D and the story (because not a day went by in 10 years that I didn’t think about D and the story), and the movie.

And there he was.

In all his glory. It slapped me across the face, gave me goose bumps and made me pay attention.  He had a face. He had a voice. He had a presence that I could see and understand. He was mine. He had marinated in the morass that is my mind long enough, and he was mine.

And so I wrote. I wrote and I blew through the 3-chapter barrier. As we neared the end of part 1, re-writing the entire thing as we went, I realized that the camaraderie I had built with D was something ‘else.’

It might even be something others might enjoy.

Something marketable.

Something that wasn’t me exactly, but was the story, was D, and was faintly entertaining in its own right.

So I blogged. And amazingly, I loved it! I still think Twitter may be Dante’s 8th circle, but it’s kind of fun. I even think I could have another blog (more on that later. . . I might also be crazy!).

My trouble is staying on task, focusing. I need to maintain a healthy disregard for D, otherwise these posts may become a bit of a love-fest, and that’s no fun! I also need to write Part 2, which is hard because I’m not a rabid nationalist anymore. I’ve switched sides, become Sean and I think I might have to OD on Braveheart in order to do Maureen’s idealism justice. The rest of the story is lovely and it’s spinning itself together in a way I had never before considered. I can’t wait to get there.

And then there is D. We do chat. He has a nice baritone, so conversing is lovely. It’s not that I dislike him anymore – I have a very healthy respect for him – but honestly, try living with an overbearing Scot with an ego as big as he is old. Respect, entertainment – it all goes flying out the window eventually.

This is why I’m in Rome. This is bigger – so much bigger – than I had anticipated. But I want to do it. I want to tell the tale and I want to be marketable. D is my brand. Having the support of like-minded people is incredible. And I am so thankful to be a part of the Rome Construction Crew.

D: So, if I’m your brand, does that mean you’re going to stop talking soon?

A: Yes, D – get ready to shine!

Living in interesting times

Interesting Blog Award

Interesting Blog Award

D: Confucius never said that.

A: Um . . . what?

D: That {pointing}. Your title – it’s not Chinese. It’s not old. And Confucius had nothing to do with it.

A: I didn’t—

D: In fact, he didn’t say half the malarkey you all like to heap on his head.

A: D? Calm down, D. First, malarkey?

D: You get flibbertigibbet, I get malarkey.

A: Oh, D, you do tempt me with tangents and random obscurities.

D: That’s not–

A: I know, D. We made up the curse – some ambassador thought it sounded neat and attributed it to an ancient Chinese philosopher. I know. And I get it: you and Confucius were buds way back when in your time-travelling days, and you take exception to the malarkey. But D, this has nothing to do with whether or not the curse was real or if Confucius said it.

D: It doesn’t?

A: Nope, it has to do with me.

D: You? (Snicker)

A: Don’t laugh too hard, D. To be honest, it’s related to this blog, which we technically share. We were nominated for an award.

D: I think I’m going to refrain from my normal diatribe on the lengths to which your society goes to make itself feel good.

A: Thank you, D. It is a first-world problem, and I’m happy to have it.

D: (Grumble, grumble) So, the award . . .

A: It’s called the Interesting Blog Award. I was nominated by the very lovely Kira at Writing Snapshots  and Wrestling Life. The rules are simple: First, thank the person who nominated you.

D&A: Thank you Kira!!

A: Then, list five random facts about yourself, nominate five other blogs, answer five questions and ask five questions of our own to our nominees.

D: Who gets to answer the questions and the random facts?

A: I think we both can.

D: All right, but then who gets to ask the questions?

A: (Eye roll) We’ll split them – I’ll even let you ask the most, if you promise to keep them fairly straightforward.

D: Are you insinuating—

A: I think we’ll begin. First, our random facts:

A: I gave up Diet Coke for my 32nd birthday, and we think the stock went down because of it.

D: My name means “Black Eyes” even though they’re actually bright blue.

A: The finale of MI-5 made me cry. Fictional British spies made me sob for nearly 5 minutes. I fear for my sanity.

D: (Now she fears for her sanity?!): I was born in 670 AD in what is now the area around Inverness.

A: My son has classier tastes in literature than I do. He loves Shakespeare and has a pet name for Charles Dickens (it’s “Chickens” by the way, and it makes me giggle every single time).

D: I have several tattoos. My favorite is the stylized snake that wraps around my sword arm, but I’m also fond of the raven on the left side of my face. It was never completed because I disappeared into a sidhe mound in Ireland during my training there. When I returned, there was no one to complete it – all those who remembered me had died a generation earlier.

A: I didn’t realize that Han Solo and Indiana Jones were the same man until I was 5. And I was in love with them both.

D: I had only one love of my life, but I lost her when I left to fight a war.

A: Before this foray into the interwebs, I had a website (waaaay back when) called “Letters to Conan O’Brien.” Instead of a restraining order, NBC sent me a contract that made me promise I wouldn’t put up nude pictures, and linked it to the old old old Conan/NBC site in the fan pages section. The site died when I moved to Ireland, but I live in hope that it’s floating around somewehere in the electronic ether.

D: I fought beside fabled kings, warriors and tacticians, including Cu Chulainn, Fionn mac Cumhaill, Brian Boru, William Wallace, and Arthur.

A: Our nominees (They are all awesome people – go visit!):

  1. The Accidental Cootchie Mama http://andrawatkins.com/about-andra-watkins/
  2. Readful Things Blog http://readfulthingsblog.com/about/
  3. The Baggage Handler http://thebaggagehandler.me/about/
  4. The Eye-Dancers http://eyedancers.wordpress.com/about/
  5. Written Words Never Die http://ericalagan.net/ericalagan/

A: Now for our answers:

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

A: I have five – Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Wizard of Oz and Braveheart. . . there are more but those are the ones I’ll watch indefinitely.

D: I’ll go with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Granted, it was also the last film I saw in person.

Who is your favorite author?

A: Depends on the genre, the day, my mood . . . today I’ll pick Frank Herbert, particularly the Pandora Sequence.

D: I always found the Venerable Bede to be amusing.

A: D, you do realize that Bede wasn’t trying to be funny, right?

D: Yes, A – and that’s why I laugh.

Who is your favorite character (can be from a book, movie, or tv)

A: Right now, Tuppence and Tommy Beresford (both the TV and book versions). They are so charming – I love them.

D: I’m tempted to say myself, but that may appear self-serving. I do rather enjoy William Wallace, however. Book, movie or real life, he had such a good way of rousing the troops. He was really quite useful…

A: D… enough.

White Chocolate or Dark Chocolate?

A: Dark! The darker the better!

D: I was always fond of the cocoa bean; I prefer it as prepared by the Aztec mystics, but dark chocolate is quite satisfactory.

If you could do one thing without any repercussions, what would it be?

A: I try to live life pretty close to my desires, but I can’t eat gluten, so. . . eating a Pizza Hut pizza, deep dish (I dream about this some nights – so sad) and second (one is just so hard!), taking the curb during a traffic jam and just leaving all the cars behind.

D: She’s crazy. I can’t compete with that.

A: Finally, our questions:

D: What is your favorite moment in history?

A: If you could eat one food item for the rest of your days, what would it be?

D: What is your fondest childhood memory?

A: If a mad man in a box whisked you away and said you could go anywhere and anytime in the universe, what would you choose?

D: If training, ability and money were not an issue, what would you like to be when you grow up?

A: And we’re done! Many thanks again to Kira for nominating The D/A Dialogues. It’s a giddy moment for us.

D: It looks like I rather overreacted at the beginning of this. It certainly did not go where I expected it to.

A: Well, D, you certainly made it interesting.

D: Nice.