Thursday, June 30, 2005

Long weekend coming up...

I didn't sleep all that well last night, so I feel I did pretty well to get all the way to 595 words today. And then, because I was falling asleep at the desk, I hauled out the vacuum and cleaned the store.

Tomorrow is Canada Day, and it will be a busy weekend, what with Jim's niece's grad tonight, his sis's wedding on Saturday, and our anniversary party on Sunday. So I probably won't see you all again until Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ups and Downs

On the UPside, I got over 2K today on the novel, and it is picking up steam. It's looking good. In dire need of revisions, but good bones for all of that.

On the DOWNside, hubby got asked to work two more night shifts. He accepted. So he's away from home with no camper, no extra food, and its pouring rain. And our bank account isn't extending to nights in motels and big meals in restaurants. He's scrounging by, but it could be nicer!

Here on the home front, it means I'm back to throwing bales for the cows, which takes me the better part of an hour when I get home from work. I still don't have wheels, but my mother-in-law is taking pity on me. So far!

He's missing his day shifts this coming weekend due to his sister's wedding and our kids throwing a 25th party for us, so I guess these two nights make up for it. And it's not like he can cut hay yet, with all the rain.

On the OTHER upside, I don't have to haul water when there's this much rain, either!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Question for fellow writers

I'm approaching the finish line on my fifth novel, as I'm sure you've heard me whine about, I mean, mention, a lot lately. You've also heard me whine about the slogging that I am going through to get the story told. (Today came in just under 2k, which makes me very happy!)

When I look back at my previous novels, I see a similar pattern. I start off well, and manage fine through the middle (except for the first novel, which didn't have a plan and didn't fare very well through ANY of the stages), but get bogged down with endings. I've been trying to figure out why that is, now that I've seen a trend. It is, after all, a trend I'd prefer to skip in the future.

So why is it? I have an outline of sorts, so I have a reasonably good idea what needs to happen. The outline is not so detailed that all the fun is gone. Is it that I am reluctant to part with these characters? Or sad to put them through the rest of the nasty stuff I have planned for them? Maybe. But I think it's that I'm afraid I'm losing some of the balls I've been juggling, that the ending can't tie everything up and give the reader that satisfied *ah* on the last page. I'm afraid I'll miss something. Or that two parts of the ending that need to be, will turn out to be mutually exclusive. Or something. I know that can be fixed in revision, but wouldn't it be better to not have to fix fundamental flaws in revision?

Your turn, if you've completed one or more first drafts. What area of the writing bogs YOU down? And have you figured out what to do about it?

Sunday, June 26, 2005


I have just finished reading Wolfskin, by Juliet Marillier. I had one serious problem with the book, which I otherwise enjoyed. The problem? The story doesn't actually begin until page 130, and it was well past that, at around page 200 of a total of 516, before I got immersed in it. You might wonder why I stayed with it that long. To be honest, it sat on my nightstand for months after I started reading it. Many months. My daughter told me it was worth the read, and being as I expect her to read the books I recommend to her (grin), I decided to give it another try. It took several more tries. (I also had had previous experience with Juliet Marillier, in reading her Sevenwaters Trilogy, which I would recommend with many less caveats.)

I suppose you could call Wolfskin a historical fantasy, as it is loosely based on the invasion of the Norse on the Orkney Islands in approximately the first century. It is a complex tale of loyalty and vows. Both of the main characters have fiercely conflicting loyalties within themselves, and Marillier does set up the main conflict and its solution well ahead of time, but not in an obvious way. I'd recommend it (and her other books) to anyone who enjoys that genre. Only, do yourself a favor and start on page 130. I don't think you will lose much that you won't figure out on your own.

Silver Linings?

There is a silver lining in every cloud. I really want to believe that. Although there were good reasons for Jim to take this out of town job, right at the moment I'm struggling to remember what they are. He was home briefly for shift turnaround, and has just left. For the second time. I imagine he'll be late for work tonight.

He got home about 9:30 last night (after a twelve hour shift and a four hour drive) and stopped off at the church where the rest of the worship team and I were waiting for him for practice. The practice went fairly well, and when we went out to come home, the truck wouldn't start. The good truck, not Thunder. I'd driven Thunder in, so thankfully it was there for us to bring home, grab a few tools and a flashlight, and go back. It didn't take him long to get it running (something about bleeding a fuel line or something...?), but still it was nearly midnight when we got home.

Of course he couldn't sleep in this morning, due to our team being up for worship, and church is now on summer hours and starts at ten. So we come home, have lunch, and finish loading a few days' supply of food and clean clothes into the camper. And he heads out, right on schedule, about one o'clock.

At two o'clock I hear a vehicle that sounds suspiciously familiar, and when I look out the window, yes, it's Jim. About twenty minutes down the highway he blew something in the motor; he thinks it's likely the head gasket, and spent the remainder of the time limping back home. In thirty minutes flat he was on his way again, this time in Thunder, loaded with everything he needs, if less comfort than the camper. I'm pretty impressed we found the tent, thermarest, sleeping bag, campstove, propane canister etc in record time, shifted the contents of the camper fridge into a cooler, clothes into a gym bag and off he goes. To a four hour drive and a twelve hour night shift.

And yes, that leaves me without wheels for two days. I wonder if cycling to work would kill me? I'm a bit out of shape.

And now? Nice relaxing Sunday afternoon? NOT. Now I see the cows have broken down a small section of fence. We'd planted a couple of shade trees last year in the corner of the pasture, and fenced them off so they could grow strong enough to withstand cow rubbing. So if I don't go fix the fence, they'll break the little trees. I could do with about 40 less cows around here. We have eighteen cows, eighteen calves, three of last years calves, and a bull. You do the math. (And yes I am well aware that a bull is not technically a cow, so you don't need to go there...)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

the gears are starting to mesh

Today Jim has headed off for his second set of shifts for his new job. He found the adjustments from day shift to night shift and back again to the land of the living to be a bit strange, but he hasn't done any night shifts for nearly twenty years, so I can bet it will rock his boat the first few times. And maybe more than a few! This time he was able to get some fencing done while he was home, so the cows are moved to a different pasture. The theory is that I won't have to throw bales for them at all this shift. I can't say that I'll mind a lot :) He also got our old truck running (last week he figured out that the brakes were shot, hours before he had to leave.) You all would be amused, seeing me roar around in a 1975 3/4 ton pickup truck named Thunder.

Between bosses in and out, and quite a few customers doing the same, it took awhile to get (and stay) really focused on the writing. I did come out with just under 1K, and I'm happy with the words. At least I managed to stay awake today. Yesterday I was so over tired, it was hard!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Slow Going

It's going to take awhile to get to the end of this draft at the rate I am currently traveling. In the past two days I've written just over 1K total. Yesterday I had excuses--nay, REASONS, even--but today I'm just dog tired from not sleeping well last night and the word *focus* has little meaning. I've been trying to do a few non-writing things to stay awake while waiting for the end of the day, but with marginal success. It's even been fairly quiet at work today, likely due to our area having its first spate of hot summer weather since August. I'm sure folks are thinking of other things to do with their time. Not to worry, we have enough flooring contracts to see us through until the weather turns cool again.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mind Games

Outlines and I have been having some difficulties the past month or so. I get the idea that my sub-conscious is just LOOKing for the word outline so it can sabotage my efforts. But still, I'm a writer who needs a road map. I'm approaching the end of the first draft of the most complicated novel I've done yet (out of five), and there are a number of things that need to be tied together. I *need* an outline. The outlines are evading me.

Today I wrote six chapter descriptions. Please note. This is NOT an outline. But these lovely little descriptions have the power within them to see me through to the end of this draft. I discovered a new, quite minor character that needs to be mentioned earlier in the story, and I know where, but other than him, everything needed is pretty much in place now. It will be a lot of fun to run my cast of characters through the hoops set out for them. Mwahaha.

Jim's home from his first set of night shifts, and doesn't work again until Friday day shift. Tomorrow we have a funeral to go to.

Friday, June 17, 2005

*RL* resumes next week

Real Life, that is. I've been sort of back for a couple of days, but it's taken me that long to get caught up at work and in the online world. Also, these were Jim's first two days at his new job. Tomorrow he starts his first twelve hour night shift. I don't think that will be a huge problem for him as he is rather a night owl anyway. He's more flexible than I am in that department. So far it has all been orientation. He wound up sleeping in the cab of the truck the first night (extended cab, so it could have been worse) because he had to take all his tools to the jobsite and they took up the entire back of the truck. Last night he could stretch out in the back on some foamies (under the canopy). But tomorrow he will take the camper back with him, and be living in high style. He'll haul some bales for me before he goes to simplify my feeding time at the zoo.

This evening my sister-in-law's father-in-law died of cancer. The last few weeks have been pretty stressful for that side of the family, and I guess it will remain that way a bit longer. He was ready to go. He was a Christian and prepared to meet his Maker. But in a way, one is NEVER really ready to go, I don't think. Jim's grandmother is also in hospital (not locally) and suffering a variety of things; they're not sure how long she will last. She's 94.

Okay, enough of that for now. Our trip went well. It is a very long trip to Victoria, and we definitely required our stretch breaks. When we got to the ferry landing in Vancouver, we saw a pod of killer whales in the harbor. That was very cool and from what I gathered from the folks around us, not that common. Or not common that close in. I have lousy eyes and could see them clearly, so I was Very Impressed. The first day we were there, both kids had to work. Our daughter Hanna had caught the bus from where she lives to ride down with us (she was on the road 24 hours total), so she and her parents had a good time roaming downtown Victoria along the harbor. She is an artist, and was really inspired by all the artists, musicians, and street performers along the inner harbor. And it WAS very cool. That evening we went to Beacon Hill Park along the ocean for a walk.

Hanna admiring art along the harborfront. Posted by Hello

along the Victoria harbor Posted by Hello

The second day Joel had off, so he and his dad and one of Joel's friends and HIS dad went for a hike. So Hanna and I spent the day at the harbor again :) and she took me to a tapas bar for lunch. In the evening we rented a movie.

Monday Jen begged off work, even though they were short-staffed. Her boss could hardly believe she actually WANTED to spend time with her in-laws! Such a phenomena needed rewarding with a day off. The five of us did Chinatown in the morning (as you see in the other entry) then drove west of the city to French Creek Park along Juan de Fuca Strait and played in the tidal pools.

Hanna, Jim, Jen, and Joel admiring the tide pool. Posted by Hello

south towards Washington state Posted by Hello

It was awesome, and our city kids (whose car is uninsured as they bus everywhere) were very glad to get out in some God-made surroundings again after months of man-made city life. That evening Jim and I visited friends we hadn't seen in like 14 years while our kids did their own thing.

Bright and early Tuesday we headed home, arriving about 9:30 pm. Another very long day, followed by the mad scramble to get Jim out the door for his first day at his new job. That brings the blog full circle back to the top! It's going to take us a few rounds to know what he really needs to take with him, what he'll have the energy to cook after a twelve hour shift, etc. That is going to definitely take up some of my time for awhile.

I'm looking forward to getting back into my novel on Monday. WooHoo :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We're ba-ack :)

We had a great trip to Victoria. Our daughter Hanna was able to join us to visit her brother and sister-in-law. About all I really wanted to post tonight was the photos we took of each other drinking bubble tea in Chinatown. I'll try and catch more highlights in the next couple days.

Hanna, Joel, and Jen Posted by Hello

Jim and I Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Well, for a week anyway. We're heading out at the crack of dawn Friday and will be back middle of next week (ish). You all be good now, you hear...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I managed over 1200 words today before giving up. I'm not necessarily expecting to get any words tomorrow either, as I'll be setting up a new fax/answering machine and making sure everything is ready for me to take a week off of work. And yesterday was a washout on account of online meetings regarding the Young Writer's Scene forums at Forward Motion. We did get the next few month's planned out for activities, challenges, and classes, so I guess I shouldn't call it a washout. But as far as my own work on the novel, it was a goner. Still, the chapter I completed today does have some decent stuff in it. The first part, as I mentioned the other day, is a bit too didactic, but today's part went better.

The options for a new water system for the farm are dwindling rapidly. Drilling a deep well is risky, but people in our area have been managing reasonably well lately. Until the neighbor who went down 450 feet and came up dry. And we've been officially been turned down by the local irrigation board because there are two households on our property (Jim's folks have a mobile here.) No matter that they live here legally, the irrigation board has their own rules. I guess I'll be hauling water with the truck for awhile yet. I could be more excited about that than I am! On the flip side the well or irrigation hookup would have cost over ten grand, so...we're richer...sort of... The last six weeks it has done little but rain, so at the moment water isn't an issue. Drier days, however, are coming.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The slide to *the end*

I've decided that this is the hardest part of a novel for me to write. It seems that it was just a few short months ago that I had TWO novels waiting for me to figure out how to control and write that *slide*. That was March. This is now. My outline is pretty much passe. Most of the rest of the story is sort of in my head, defying outlining. The characters have passed through the point of no return, and things are going to keep going from bad to worse, only faster now. The thing that is NOT faster is the writing. Just about 1300 words today, and they're not very good. I will certainly have some work to do in THIS section when I get back to revisions. But...the plot has advanced, the characters are moving towards the big confrontation, and I just can't deal with trying to interject the right balance of dialogue and active verbs and all the good stuff. Maybe these were scene outlines on a bit grander scale. I have no idea. It's just another one of those molasses patches to wade through. So, I guess I just need to dig out the hip waders and get on with it. I hope there's a pressure washer at the other end to clean the molasses off of the hip waders.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Learning to drive a standard

Do you drive stick shift? Do you remember learning how? For me (many years ago), it was pretty traumatic. We lived at the bottom of a hill, and the vehicle was a 3/4 ton Jeep pickup truck. The kind with the gear shift that took up two square feet of shifting space. I remember trying to get up that hill, the truck roaring and lurching and almost stalling; the neighbors plugging their ears and looking askance out their windows.

That's about how I feel about writing the last few weeks. It has been an unending saga of lurching starts and stalling stops when least expected. Except that by now, they should be expected! The past couple of days I've done well to get about a thousand words a day. I feel like I'm wading through molasses, and then all of a sudden there is an *AHA* moment, and something quite unexpected gels totally. Everything is glorious and golden for a few hundred words while that perfect moment is captured, and's back to the slog. Quite a lot of slog, actually. Not that it's *sludge* you understand. I think there's some decent writing in there, and the story certainly has my heart, but that hasn't made it easy to write.

I'm sure it hasn't helped that I'm fighting a cold this week. I think I'm winning. I'm sure trying, anyway!