Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 reflection, 2010 planning

Such a transformative year! One year ago last Friday, I began this blog to keep myself honest. It was a second step in me becoming a more serious writer (I count NaNoWriMo 2008 as the first step). I am hopeful that the next twelve months will be even more so.

Here's a recap of my writing year, 2009:

2009 new words

+50 K Something
=68 K new novel words
+15K Short stories
+150+ pages of scripts (at 100 wds/page or less)
about 100K = total new words in 2009

To qualify this paltry number, I do want to point out that the fire wasn't really lit under my ass until September, thanks to Kris and Dean. Still, I don't remember the last time I had a 100,000 word year...probably not since graduate school, and almost none of those words were fiction.

In the mail:
4 short story queries (with 4-5 needing to be re-submitted)
6 Novel queries for LSCTS.

Here are my 2010 goals:
  1. 20 novel pages or one short story a week (about 5K)
  2. Stories and finished novels in the mail same week finished.
  3. Script Frenzy in April (with class?)
  4. NaNoWriMo in November (with class!)
  5. 48-hour Film Project in August
  6. One blog post a week. I need to at least post my wordcount, but I am considering posting excerpts, etc., too. Of course, once something sells, it will be all over this baby. :)
That's all for now! Wish me luck. I wish all of you, happy readers, a fully creative new year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Need I say more?

Well, I won't because I'm exhausted. I'll just say that I finished early and watched Monday Night Football, a whole game, without any work in front of me or anything, as a reward.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nano has swallowed my time

No posting = lots of novel being written.

As you can see by the widget to the left, I've had some trouble keeping up with my wordcount this month. There has been far more drama this month than I anticipated, but who can anticipate drama?

I am now 300 words ahead of the curve, thanks to the fact that no one comes to my Tuesday office hours. That means lots of time for me to "grade" and "prep for class." *wink wink*

In preparation for next week's nanoclassmo, here is a link to Scott William Carter's blog. He's coming next week to answer the question: "I've written a novel! Now what?" His book comes out in 2010.

Okay, must go get ready for class. *wink*

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nano Update

16,708 words in ten days! Whoo-wee. When you say it like that, it sounds like a lot. The fact that I haven't written a word on this blog in ten days tells you a little about how intense it is to do #Nano, too.

The book has taken over by putting my MC into the hospital, where she cannot be the center of the action anymore. Her husband and veterinarian have taken that over (her vet for her mule).

I've caught the bug du jour...probably not the swine flu, since I am up and talking, but it's bad enough it really hurt my wordcount for a couple days.

Otherwise, I've recieved two story rejections in the mail. I've got to find time to put the stories back into the mail, and find one or two more publishers to send last year's nano book to.

The NanoClassMo was tonight, too, and we've had a couple people drop out because life got in the way, and a couple peole re-appear from the depths of life getting in the way. I'm so glad those people returned, and so sad about the people who've left. I think everyone is having a good experience with the writing, though, no matter what their wordcounts.

All right. I need to drag my sick carcass back to bed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo is just hours away!

I'm less prepared than I was last year for NaNo. Last year, I had practically the entire book outlined and characters firmly sketched. However, last year I based the book on Lysistrata, so I had a full set of fully-formed characters and a pre-existing plot to follow.

This year, I don't have a firm handle on my main character, and I only have an elevator-pitch for my plot:

Outbreak meets Jurassic Park meets Anne McCaffery.

I think this will be a wild ride, though. I have several short stories on this basic idea that date back to when I was in high school (egad!). One of the stories in the mail right now sparked the idea of the book.

Well, I'm going to do a modicum of research on what a state wildlife officer does so there will be some verisimilitude in my book.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekly update

This week, I got a novel rejection from Simon and Schuster, but whichever little intern read it, carefully folded the packet and stuffed it into my #10 SASE! Bonus. I had a glimmer of misguided hope when I held the weighty envelop in my hand, though.

I also received an email confirmation from Tin House that they had entered my (snail-mailed) story into their online submission form. It should be easier to track, I suppose.

I am mailing a fantasy story tomorrow to a fantasy magazine, though I have since realized that the story is actually the first vignette of the novel I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo. Dragons meet Outbreak meets Jurassic Park. Should be fun to write. :)

Writing-wise, I started a story about a girl and some alpacas, which wants to become My Friend Flicka with alpacas. I'm pretty sure I can sell a story to an alpaca magazine I subscribe to, but as a novel idea, it'll have to wait until after Nano.

The NaNo class begins on Tuesday! Yikes! That means I only have two weeks to commit to a novel idea (Dragons Amok is only the leading contender), and I have to finalize what I'm going to teach. I've got the first couple weeks under control, but it's the four in November that I really need to plan out before they happen. I'll be too busy to plan once NaNo start.

By the way, anyone who wants to follow me on the NaNo website, my handle is "marenster," just like it is on Twitter.

That's all for now!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mailings, Rejections, Death

So, since my birthday, I've mailed two more stories and gotten a rejection for the novel. I turned around and mailed it to another publisher.

However, one of the editors I sent the novel to on 9/25 DIED on 9/27!

I didn't think my writing was that bad. Maybe her inoperable uterine cancer had something to do with it.

That's just rotten luck. For her. I'm just happy my proposal is sitting in her now-defunct slush pile while I live and breathe and write more. Cancer is just a bummer all around.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kris and Dean Show

I spent a weekend in Lincoln City with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch at their workshop, colloquially known as the "Kris and Dean Show."

Eye-opening workshop.

The point of the whole weekend was discussing how to be a working fiction writer...that is, how to make a living at it.

I said in a facebook post that the workshop not only showed that it was possible to make a very comfortable living as a fiction writer, but that I'd be a fool not to try.

I want to share a couple things that might help other writers.

The first are Heinlein's Rules which are simply this:
1. Write
2. Finish what you write
3. Do NOT revise (unless a paying editor tells you to)
4. Mail what you write to someone who will pay you for it
5. Keep it in the mail until someone buys it.
6. Start working on something new.

Simple, right? Well for the past fifteen years, I've only done the first two, and ignored #3 entirely, lustily revising short stories until they were limp and fraying. Three or four years ago I started #4, but quickly became discouraged, mostly because I wasn't following #6.

As a result of these rules, here's what I propose to do:
  • I will write and finish one story or 20 pages of a novel a week.
  • I will put the stories into the mail the same week I finish them.
  • I will put the novels into the mail as soon as I have a first reader copy-edit them.
  • I will endeavor to write more than one story a week eventually.
As always, I'm posting this on the Interwebs so that I can be held accountable.

So, in the 12 days since the end of the workshop I have mailed five stories (four of which were laying around from years prior), written two stories (one finished last night...need to find a market for it), and just today, I put the novel Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store into the mail to four publishers. I may even mail it to one more.

And, today is my 36th birthday, so it will be easy to remember when this all happened.

Wish me good fortune, mon amis!

NaNo Class is supported by OLL!

The Office of Letters and Light (the people who run NaNo) got back to me and said that the NaNo class is not only kosher, but they are really excited that people are teaching it in colleges and community centers. They've asked that I help out with some project connected with teachers and NaNo. Naturally, I will help in any way possible.

This is a great load off my mind. The last thing I wanted to do was somehow harm NaNo. Such a relief!

So, come take my class! I will help you through NaNo! yahoo!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Official announcement of "Nano" class

Here's the announcement for my novel-writing class on the DEP website. I'm trying to find out (belatedly) if I am allowed to use the "nano" name, but the class will go on, either way.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

NaNo Class in Salem Monthly

Therese O'Neil wrote a great article about my NaNo class in the Salem Monthly.

Please tell your friends about the class. At the moment, the cost is probably going to be under $100 for the seven-week class.


Past-present film link

Hey everyone!

This is the link to the film I "wrote" for the 48-hour film project. The verb there is in quotes because 90% of the dialogue is improvised.

I think it's great. I wasn't able to be involved in any of the shooting or editing, so I saw it for the first time today. I really think our little group of filmmakers are really blossoming.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NaNoWriMo Class a Go!

I don't have all the details, but the NaNoWriMo class is a go! Once a week for seven weeks, I'll meet with students who want to write 50K words in 30 days for NaNo.

  • The first two weeks are going to be focused on getting ready for NaNo: finding a story, getting into the writing habit, making sure the friends and family know what people are up to so they aren't offended when they are put off by the writers.
  • The month of November will be devoted to writing in class and supporting each other including helping people write themselves out of tight spots, etc.
  • The last night will be a post-mortem of NaNo and Scott Carter is going to give a talk on what to do once you've written a book.

This class is NOT going to be a traditional writing workshop where we critique each other's work. The idea is to get a first draft of a book out there. And it's allowed to SUCK. In fact, if it doesn't suck, you probably weren't doing NaNo right.

The whole idea is to use the impetus to get a first draft out because you can't have a second draft if you don't have a first draft. To that end, writers are not allowed to go back and revise anything. If it sucks, you'll go fix it later. It's all about moving forward until you get to the end of the book.

So, once I get specific information, I'll post it here and broadcast it to the world. It ought to be a wild ride.

Oh, yeah. We decided the class is going to be called "Write Your First Novel in Thirty Days." Catchy, huh?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surprisingly productive

I have nearly revised the whole of Liz Stratton Closes the Store! I'm amazed that I am working on the last chapter now.

Of course, this final chapter needs some serious work because the parts of it were written months apart. Now I'm trying to stitch together the parts into some kind of cohesive whole. Plus, I have a Hollywood ending, which fits, is a little cute-sy. So, I'm conflicted by the last pages. I have some holes to fill in, too.

However, the upshot is that I am making serious progress on the text, and it looks like I will finish this revision well before my self-imposed September 12 deadline.

I'm stunned.

I even have up to chapter 13 to my first readers, who ROCK. They have given me such insightful and helpful comments.

So, this frees up time between now and school starting for the Kris and Dean show and other projects, notably the "Library Quest" web movies I hope to film with a friend during Fall Quarter.

I did write a "script" for the 48 Hour Film Project this year, too. I'll post a link and write an entry about it once the film is online.

That's all for now. I wish it were summer all year so I could be this focused on writing all the time!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

chapters 9 and 10 revised!

I want to thank the deities that control the number of hours my baby sleeps during her afternoon nap: the 3 1/2 and 4 hour naps are FANTASTIC for my writing productivity!

I'm up to 224 pages of the second draft. Awesome. Feeling smug. That's about the time Murphy steps in and messes up my best laid plans.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

revision to chapter 8 done

Yay! I'm now 181 pages in to the second draft. I only have four or five weeks more to finish the project, but that light is definitely visible. 

I'm actually pretty deep into revision for chapter 9 today, too. I've found that if DD is entertained with crayons, I can sit next to her and do paper edits pretty effectively. 

I still like this book. That's a good sign, right? 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chapter 7 revised--Excerpt


I now have 150 pages of Draft #2 done. In this chapter, Liz's friend Maureen helps repel a man sent to tempt her. Plus, I've included the lesbian sex scene I promised my husband.

Hey, gay women have sex, too, you know.

(I hate to think about the search-engine traffic I'm generating here.)

Interestingly, this is pretty much the only sex in the first half of the book. It is a book about a sex strike, so that shouldn't be too surprising. There is more sex later in the book, I promise.

What's that ? You say you want an except? Okay.


Liz peeked from behind the curtain. In front of her stood a crowd of thousands of horny women who had given up sex to show support for her effort to end the war. They expected her to say something that could keep them from going to bed with their husbands or lovers (or both) until the war was over. But Liz kept thinking about that...that...MAN who was currently in her room on the bus waiting for her, she supposed as she left him...naked and half-crazy with desire. Honestly, she didn’t know whether she was going back to him once she was done with the crowd. What could she say to those women to keep them on track if she wasn’t able to even contain herself?

She slumped on a folding chair and flipped through the note cards, not reading them. She was thinking of Dion’s floppy hair, his sexy sunglasses, his lopsided grin, what his c**k must look like. She sighed and swore.


Sorry for the **. I can spell things out in the book.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Revisions for ch. 3 done

I am feeling better about my work schedule, because it looks like I will actually be able to revise more quickly than I thought I would a couple nights ago. Chapters 1 and 2 needed so much work that they took a long time to rework. The chapters after them don't seem to need so much pounding. We'll see. I am more hopeful.

I'm trying to decide if I should just send my Readers chapters as I finish them, or if I should limit myself to one email a week? I'd hate to overwhelm two people who have generously given me great feedback. Hmm.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just realized...

With regards to my goal to revising Liz, I've just realized that if I complete two chapters a week, I will still be a few chapters short before the workshop I want to go to in September.

Grrr. How is it that in the middle of my second week of summer, I'm already behind schedule? Why is it harder to revise something than it is to write it?

Of course, the answer is that my first draft was written with such glorious impetus and flinging of caution to the wind that it flowed easily. Revising this tangled rat's nest into something coherent will take time and patience...I have the latter, but apparently, not the former.

I may have to take up a friend's offer of living in her treehouse for a week to bang this thing out. Wouldn't that be glorious?

Okay, enough fantasy, whining and blogging. I need to go write.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Revisions for ch. 2 done


That took much longer than I had hoped, but even though it's summer, I'm finding it difficult to find time to write/revise. I'll have to arrange my days so that I have scheduled time to write, otherwise it won't get done.

R3 really liked Ch. 1, which is awesome. She even unknowingly noted that she liked a place I had revised as a result of R1's comments. Excellent.

I think my research paid off, too. We'll see how the rally near the Marine base plays to the audience.

time for sleep. *yawn*.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hooray! I'm working again!

Finally some work on Chapter 2!

Also, my dear friends (Reader 2--R2-- and Reader 3--R3)now have copies of Chapter 1. There is no motivator like a friend asking, "So, when's the next chapter coming?" Plus, R2 and R3 are both girls who either write or like reading the for-girl genre, or both. They will be members of the target audience, in other words. R1 can't claim that, though he holds me to standards above those of said genre.

In short: I have two more first readers who have manuscript now! One small step, etc., etc.

AND, I found time to work on the second draft of Chapter 2. I may even find time later today to work on it more. Bliss.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Library Quest

I am working with Robert Monge at the WOU Library on a series of short "web-isodes" that are set in the library. They are supposed to introduce viewers to different parts of the library, but mostly they are just a fun creative outlet for us.

I'm trying to make a campy revisit of Scooby-Doo with a Pushing Daisies kind of schtick set in a college library. There'll be monsters and ghosts and puns and local references galore. It ought to be silly and fun. Not educational at all.



Monday, June 1, 2009

Visit to Military Base?

Hey, blogosphere/twitterverse: What kinds of things would happen if a liberal, anti-war Presidential candidate were to visit a Marine base on a campaign stop? I need some help here because I don't know the following:

  • Would there be a protest? Where would it be? Outside the base? the building?
  • How big would the crowd be? Would anyone show up? What would their mood be? What kinds of questions would they have?
  • What would the be absolute WRONG thing to say to a room full of military families and personnel on a base that has sent troops to the Middle East?
Leave me a comment and help a novelist get it right...or at least less wrong.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

banging on chp 2

I'm now focused on re-working chapter 2.

Re-reading the chapter reminded me a little of the fever I was writing under during NaNo. I pounded out this draft, with little attention to the language. It's pretty sparse. Next time I do a first draft, I'm going to take some more deep breaths and think about the words more carefully. I was really concentrating on getting from point A to B, and not so much on HOW I got there.

That said, maybe that's not a bad thing. Revision is a more reflective process, so maybe it is the "correct" time for me to attend to the craft of writing.

This is a long way of saying that chapter 2 needs some work.

Oh, and I can now when the interviewer of the future asks me, the famous author, how much research I do, I can say honestly, "some."

Liz goes to a military base for a rally early in her campaign. Originally, she was going to one in Arizona where her original radio show aired, so I Googled "Arizona Military Bases." Curiously, there are only two army bases in that state, and neither of their servers were working that day. However, I learned from other sites that one is only a testing facility and the other only trains intelligence officers. I need Liz to visit a base where soldiers are deployed and leave their families behind.

Now I'm thinking Liz visits Camp Pendleton in California, since Liz lives in L.A. It's a huge base and lots of Marines are deployed from there. I need to read up a bit on it, and possibly review some speeches other candidates have done on military bases to see how it would work.

So, fact-finding melds with complete fantasy. Fun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

At what point does the dead horse protest?

I'm still whacking at chapter one of Liz, and I think it's coming along.

But, as I was editing along, a very strange sub-plot occurred to me. Really strange. Like, mythological-strange. But I like it. I like it a lot, and I think I may keep it. It's just kooky enough to make the rest of the kookiness make sense. Why not? It is fiction, after all. I'm currently reading a chick-lit book about Greek Gods who now live in modern-day London and can't get jobs (Gods Behaving Badly). Why can't I have a little weirdness?

Even Shakespeare did it:

Hamlet--There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

So, I'm in good company. Right?

I know. I'm only right if it works in the book. But now it's fun again. :)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Editing the first chapter

I hadn't realized how long it has been since I've posted here. Naughty Maren.

I have been working on Liz, by re-writing the first chapter. It is beginning to take shape--a shape that is quite different than the original. I've moved a lot of episodes around to try to paint a picture of Liz Stratton and her crew before the "beginning" of the story, which is much more difficult than I thought it was going to be.

Here's the "craft"part. It's different than the "I'm a crazy writer running on caffeine and adrenaline, get out of my way!" rush that I get when I'm plowing through a first draft. This is the "I'm a crazy editor, hunched over the draft wrapping my mind around storytelling, plot and character, stay the heck out of my office!" focus, which I am also good at (writing teacher for over 10 years), but which I don't always apply to my own work.

I have come up with a few goals. I am going to the "Fiction Carreer--a.k.a.Kris and Dean Show" writing workshop in September, and I'd like to have a polished draft of Liz to take with me. To do this, I'd like to devote about 2 hours a day, 5 days a weekover the summer to re-writing the draft and possibly working on new stuff, too. I may be dreaming, but it's good to dream.


Friday, April 24, 2009

100 pages! I'm a winner!

I did it, with several days to spare! 100 pages in 24 days. I'm so proud of me.

Now, to let it rest. I'm taking a few days off, then I'm going to dive back into Liz closes the store.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

96 pages

96 pages? I might actually make this goal. :)

I'm going to break with tradition and NOT kill of my main dog character in this movie. It seems every other f***ing movie with a dog in the lead ends with said dog dead. From to Turner and Hooch to Old Yeller, and I'm sick of it. These dogs won't ever die. So there.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

89 pages

Ok, things are getting silly. We're talking about shaving a dog to disguise it. These are some deranged characters.

Whatever. I'm still sick, so probably the virus is driving the story now.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

84 pages

I'm still sick, but I managed 4 pages tonight. Dog comes back. Plan for resolution beginning to form. Mystery still looms.

Perhaps we'll never understand why this Being John Malcovich, the characters never understood why they could inhabit JM's body. I don't know if we'll try to explain why these people can go somewhere and become a dog for an hour. I like the mystery of isn't magic if it's explained.

I'm done tonight.

Monday, April 20, 2009

80 pages

I think the idea of "plotting" to the middle of the screenplay has served me well. I had a general idea of where I thought the story would go, I got to the end of the plotting, and now the story has legs enough to take me where it wants.

I think I like the bits that are coming from the non-plotted portion better, too. They are less mechanical for instance.

Okay, I feel a crummy cold coming on (and wrote despite it!), but I'm calling it a night!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

74 pp.

The story and characters have officially taken over. Fun!

Now, friend betrayal, or is it?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

71 pp.

Another good day. I've been a little stuck on plot, so I threw in a messenger, banging on the door at dawn. It worked in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and it's certainly thrown a monkey-wrench into things.


Friday, April 17, 2009

64 pp.

One pathetic page.

However, I now go to spend quality, non-child, time with my hubby.

Priorities, grasshopper. Priorities. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

63 pp.

It was like pulling teeth to start tonight, but I hit my page count of 6 (to make up for my lazy ass last night). The pages are pretty good, too. I'm not disappointed when I make myself write. I know this, but I still resist when I'm in a pissy achy mood.

Now, it's time for a tub of hot and an early bedtime. That's a good reward.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a night off

Headache finally caught up with me. I'm now in that "I don't have a headache anymore, but the ibuprophen has given me that fuzzy, numb feeling" zone that is not conducive to writing. I'm actually squinting now, which tells me I need to soak in a hot bathtub until bedtime.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

57 pp

Yay! Midpoint!

Someone has leaked the news of Homer the magic dog and his clearing, so hundreds of people and the media show up.

What now? I don't know. We'll see where the story goes.


Monday, April 13, 2009

54 pages

When you let the characters drive the story, you end up writing scenes you didn't know you needed to.

Example: who knew a lover's quarrel could be mended while two people are in the bodies of dogs? I didn't know until just now. I have always told my students that they can/will learn as they write, but I didn't mean it exactly this way. :)

Stand By Me was playing at the gym this morning, and it got me thinking about Stephen King and how wise he is. I'm thinking I need to read some of his non-horror short stories, like "The Body," the story that movie is based on.

Tomorrow, I'll have crossed the midpoint of the screenplay. I can let my bad guys go bananas. I've named my bad guy after the bully on the Simpsons--Nelson. Ha-ha!


Sunday, April 12, 2009


Well, despite the excuses, I have managed another 10 pp. since my last whiny post.

Part of my problem, I think, is that I have been following a diagram for plot development, and I was depressed that I was a few pages off.


Fortunately, Mr. King, among others, reminded me that story, not plot, is what's important. Yes, there is a difference. Story is the narrative. Plot simply diagrams the ac. It is dumb of me to get upset when the organic story decides to stray a bit from the dead line of the plot. It's like trying to dig your way through a mountain on a hike instead of just walking around it just because the map says the mountain isn't there.

So, I'm just letting the characters loose. I have written a loose synopsis of what I thought would happen before I started the screenplay, but I have already strayed from it, and I don't care. I think what I've written is a little truer and more interesting than what I scribbled down days before Screnzy started.

I'm still a little ahead of the curve, but I've slowed down considerably from my first frantic days of writing. That's what happen to me during NaNo, too.

Oh, yeah...happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

no energy tonight

I shouldn't but I'm going to rest on my laurels tonight.

I'm having trouble writing "fun" things that the people do when they are dogs, partly b/c I don't want to write something unshootable. I should not be worrying about that in this phase of the script, but tonight, I am, anyway.

Plus, I'm just wiped out. excuses, excuses. We can point to this moment when I lose the Oscar to Lucas in 2011.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

40 pp

I feel my page count tonight is a cheat, because I don't think I'll use the scene I wrote for another 20 pages or so. I've had to tuck it into my scratch-pad because it just didn't fit where it was. It's too early in the script for the bad guys to fuck things up.

When I finish Stephen King's book On Writing, I think I'll review it here. I'm really enjoying it. I'll review other books I read about writing, too. Lord knows I come into contact with enough of them.

(For those who don't know, I teach writing and I get scads of free books about writing.)

Oh well. Pages, even if they don't fit, are pages.


Monday, April 6, 2009

37 pp.

So, five pages a night seems like a comfortable pace for me. Tonight, that's translated into one beer.

Due to other circumstances, I have the time to edit LSCTS if I wanted to, but I think I'll take a bath instead.

I've changed the title of the screenplay to Following Homer, because the magic dog they follow is named Homer...or so he "tells" one of the people when they are a dog. I like this title a lot better than the Being Dog title, which never really worked for me. It seems really static compared to the new one.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

32 pp.

I did write about five pages last night in bed after I watched a movie with Charles. Hand-written script pages translate better into typed script pages than fiction does. I think all the formatting makes things that way.

Anyway, I'll pose the same question here that I have posed on Twitter : What would you do if you were a dog for ONE HOUR?

Respond by commenting to this blog post.


Friday, April 3, 2009

22 pages

I like writing because it's a lot like reading for me. I discover things about my characters the same way I would for characters in a book. So, it's like I'm reading a book that I'm writing at the same time.

That is to say that I like the screenplay I'm writing, though it sounds very weird to describe the concept. I'm not sure I would go see a movie with a log line like mine has.

Being John Malcovich
meets Bridget Jones meets Benji. Nope, not a movie I'd probably stand in line for. Not that I've seen a movie in a theater since the baby was born, but that's beside the point.

I'm reading Stephen King's book On Writing. I'll put a link up to it on the blog. I like it a lot more than I thought I would. I like King's writing, but normally I can't stomach his subject matter. I am enjoying this book a lot.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

18 pages

So far, so good.

The plan with this script is that it could be filmed by my friend/film making parter in crime Shaun Huston sometime in the future. The constraints are, as always, it needs to be local, use local talent and resources, and be cheap as hell to make.

We'll see if I can do it, and tell a compelling story at the same time.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fade In :Screnzy

Well, I've banged out 10 pages of script for Script Frenzy. Yippee! I think it's going to be a fun little project.

I have found a former student to be my "buddy." Hi Patrick! He'll keep me honest.

Off to take care of a sick husband.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My first response team

My friend Henry has finished reading the first chunk of LSCTS, and we're meeting Tuesday to talk about it. I don't think Chick Lit is really his thing, but he has excellent instincts, and he's a published poet
, so he's all about words and language. 

Man, I hope he likes it. I didn't realize I was so nervous about it until just now. Yikes!

I've been devoting about an hour a night to editing LSCTS, in bed, in my jammies just before lights out. I'm not making many global changes, which tells me that I'm not doing much more than re-aquatinting myself with my book. It's good when you laugh out loud at your own jokes, right? 

Jeesh, I hope he likes it. 


Friday, March 20, 2009

grading kills creative energy

Oh, wait. I've complained about this before.

Actually, it isn't even true tonight. I just want to snuggle with my hubby in front of the t.v.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

screnzy logline

Being Dog-- A mysterious hound appears at a suburban dog park and takes specific people to spend an hour as an animal that most suits them until undue attention from the media and a violation of the rules threaten to end the magic.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

editing some more

I like editing. It feels good to re-read what I've written and tweak it so it feels better. I like this book, which is a nice realization.

I am a bit concerned about my use of off-color language. I'll have to peek at a few chick-lit books I have lying around to see the level of swear words they use. As I said to a friend, for the first draft, I just let my nasty self off the leash. I knew I could swear like a sailor, but it's still a bit disconcerting to see it in print.

I'm also prowling the Script Frenzy forums trying not to begin writing the script idea I came up with last night. Magic dogs. It'll be a winner.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Okay, so I am not going to get this first draft up to 80K because I’ve realized that I’m done. I could try to write another 6,000 words to get to 80K, but I think what I’d be writing is filler. I don’t need filler. I need to dig into the book and get it organized and stitched together. All the threads are there, but they are a little tangled since I stopped writing linearly after NaNoWriMo ended.

Besides that, I admit that I am totally distracted by Script Frenzy, which starts on April 1. I’ve currently got four screenplay ideas that I like and all I want to do is write a treatment for each of them before Frenzy starts.

So, that’s it for Liz word count updates. As of April 1, I’ll have page updates for the screenplay for Frenzy.

If anyone is following along, find me at , which is my page on Script Frenzy.

That’s all for now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I have a generous offer to read the first three chapters of my book from a friend I really respect and admire, so I am leaving off the end of the book to give those chapters a quick edit.

A cursory glace tells me that I probably need to get to the meat of the book--the sex strike--before page 50, where it now sits. This is partly because my friend only committed to read thirty pages, and I really want him to get a feel for the main part of the book. I can't see myself editing/moving that section a full twenty pages, but we'll see. Maybe he'll agree to fifty pages. It depends on how much he feels he owes me for a read of his poetry manuscript a year ago.

Another thing squelching my writing is grading. ugh. It's the beginning of finals week, and I am already buried under papers. I've made good progress, but it sucks the life out of me...or at least kills my creative energies.

Finally, Script Frenzy is approaching fast and it has that "new project" smell to it. All I want to do is to write a beat sheet for the ideas I have for screenplays. I think I'll just give a portion of Spring Break to it, though Spring Break for teachers in the quarter system is simply five days to submit final grades prepare for the next quarter...not like there will be oodles of spare time.

At least the personal dramas have quieted. Most everything is fine and well in the world, finally.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Review of Seussical the Musical

I haven't worked on the novel in a while for a number of personal reasons, but I got the chance to see and review Seussical the Musical for the local alternative monthly. Here's the link:

I hope I get to do more of these!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

a little work

daily word: 345+450 (from monday)
weekly words: 2,355
LSCTS: 74,284

This was another of those," just sit and write, no matter how much you want to go to bed right now" days. I didn't produce a lot, but it's better than nothing.

I need to get back into the groove, so I'm in "shape" for Script Frenzy in a month. I'm doubting my concept for a script for that, so I'm back to brainstorming ideas again.

I'm waiting for the quarter to be over, so I can focus on my writing instead of my working/grading.

Oh, and Thanks to Theresa O. who scored me a ticket to Seusical, which I'll then review for a local magazine. Yippee!


Monday, March 2, 2009

a better ending

daily word count: 1,560
Weekly : 1,560
LSCTS count: 73,489

Okay, I like this new ending lots better than the original. I actually have a resolution, and naked girls, and angry sheiks. Lots of fun.

I got a huge stack of papers to grade on Thursday, and for some reason, I decided to tackle them before I got to writing. I should have known that it was futile to try to grade them all over one weekend, but I forget every term how long it takes to grade them. I also had a bird emergency that took up Saturday night. Every birdy is okay now, but it didn't look good there for a long time.

So, I didn't make my 5K goal last week, and I didn't make my 80K goal for February. Oh well. What is the point of making goals that are easy to make, right? I'll hit 80K soon enough, and then I'll get to editing this puppy. Then it will suddenly be April and I'll be neck-deep in Script Frenzy, and LSCTS will have to sit for a month. That will probably be a good thing.

Off to bed to dream of nude runway models mingling with heads of state. What fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lame night, good start

daily total: 624
Weekly total: 1,783
LSCTS total: 71,929

I could only manage four pages tonight, but I like the direction the ending is taking. It looks like there will be another "spectacle" at the end...just like in Lysistrata, there will be naked girls and perhaps a "party."

That would be a much better ending than what I have now. Ha!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More on Peace Deal

Daily total: 1,159
Weekly total: 1,159
LSCTS total: 71,305

I just couldn't get myself to write yesterday. At every opportunity that presented itself, I chose to do something else. I guess I just didn't want to write what I thought was next.

Tonight, I took a stab at a different something I didn't want to write. Lo and behold! I came out with a better direction for the end of the book. I don't know if I'll make the 80K mark by Saturday, but I already feel better about the last chapter.


Friday, February 20, 2009

5K!! Hooray!

Daily total: 1,329
Weekly total: 5,031
LSCS total: 70,146

Great day! Not only did I break 5K in one week, but LSCS broke 70K! That means I'm only 10,000 words away from my goal of finishing 80K on this book by March 1.

Let's see, it's 2/20, that means I have eight days to write 10K...that's 1,250 words a day. Honestly, though, I'm not going to write a word on Sunday because I'm going to a conference in Portland. So that's closer to 1,500 words a day. That's still less than my 1,667 words a day for NaNoWriMo in November. Like I said before, it's not whether I can, it's if I will.

Still, I get to buy myself a present because I met my goal this week. Yippee!

Oh, and what I wrote today was an alternate ending to the scene with Maureen from yesterday. I decided that she meets her tart before the sex strike. Charles is always asking me to write a scene with hot girl-on-girl action, so I did...well, tastefully. There's no oil or jello involved. Sorry, honey.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maureen's all bi

daily word count: 1,175
Weekly word count: 3,702
LSCS word count: 68,817

I've never written a gay character before, certainly not a lesbian, and certainly not a bisexual. I think Maureen's going to be a lot more interesting than I originally gave her credit for.

I've also come up with a silly plot that I might use for script frenzy. It's a comic send-up of Macbeth set in a retirement community.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Daily word count: 1,313
Weekly word count: 2,527
LSCTS word count: 67,642

I finally bit the bullet and wrote a sex scene! Hooray!

People who know me (or knew me back in the day) might be surprised to know that I've been embarrassed to write a sex scene. Well, I still am, even though what I wrote tonight is pretty tame on the grand scheme of sex-scenes. This is basically going to be the only sex in the novel, though, so it needs to be pretty good.

Well, "first draft of sex scene" can be crossed off my to do list. Editing and polishing comes later, after I hit 80K.


Film Credits

Someone was asking about where they could see the films I've worked on as a writer or otherwise. Here's a list, with thanks to Shaun Huston.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Back in the saddle

Daily word count: 1,214
Weekly: 1,214
LSCTS: 66,329

I'm still avoiding writing the sex scenes (don't know why) and the ending (b/c I'm still unsure how it ends), so I'm writing vignettes to go between the chapters. These will be episodes of Liz's talk show Spare Me hosted by her temporary replacement Maureen Bach.

This episode featured three women who suffered sexism and got revenge. Plus, Maureen is now going to have a love life, too. Fun!

In order to get to 80K by 2/28/09, I need to write 1,139 words a day...this includes weekends. This includes this weekend when I plan on going to a conference for a day. This means that I actually need to write more than 1,200 words a day.

It's not a question of "IF" I can, but "WILL I?"


Sunday, February 15, 2009

been too sick to write


This last week I have been too sick to write. Too sick to do much of anything by make snot, apparently.

I am well now, but I had to catch up on stuff tonight, so no writing. :( I have been working on the book by inserting the Cal/Nicolas plot into the book. I still need 15K to round out the book: this will probably be made up in the ending, which I'm still not happy with.

Will I make the 80K mark by 2/28? Not at this rate. I will start again tomorrow, and we'll see if i can do 15K in 12 days. I did it before during NaNo, so I can do it again.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

"...and her little naked friends"

Daily word count: 1,042
Weekly word count: 2,470
LSCTS word count: 65,115

What's worse than a sex-strike? A sex strike in a world populated by women who refuse to wear one scrap more clothing than is legal.

I've started an excel file to keep track of my characters b/c I keep adding them, and then I have to try to find them in the text if I want to use them again. Frustrating. I know that there are software tools out there that do this sort of thing. For example, I use Celtx for script writing and it has pages for characters, props, locations, etc. Very useful, and free. :)

I don't think I'm going to hit 5K this week. The family has been fighting the croup...well, in adults it's just a hacking cough. I'll probably get some writing in tomorrow, but I can't see myself cranking out 2,500 words. Oh well. That neat wallet will have to wait until next week.

Speaking of Celtx, I am planning on doing "Script Frenzy" which is NANOWRIMO for scriptwriters. It's in April. I'll have to change my goal from 5K a week to whatever is equivalent for scripts for that month.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Greetings to my motivation!

2/2 word count: 151
2/3 word count: 1,277
Weekly word count: 1,428
LSCTS word count: 64,073

Hi Chris, in case you're actually checking up on me (and I hope you do).

It took me two days to recover from the party you and Julie threw on Saturday, which is a really, really lame excuse for not writing on Sunday and for the paltry, anemic 151 words I managed on Monday. But, I'm back on the horse tonight!

I've remedied the obstacle that faced poor Cal and Nicolas, and at the same time showed that (1) love reduces even seasoned adults to 14-year-olds and (2) established Liz's negotiating skills, which she'll need when she goes to the Middle East.

Well, she'll need more than that kind of negotiating for the Sheiks of Mesopotamianstan, but whatever. It's a comic novel.

In other news: I've decided that a weekly present for completing my goal would also be a good motivator. My prize for the next time I make 5,000 words in one week: a flat wallet in the WOU bookstore I've been eyeing for weeks. It's cheap, but frivolous. Perfect.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

5,024 words in one week!

Daily word count: a paltry 476
Weekly word count: a winning 5,024!
LSCTS word count: a staggering 62,645!

Hooray! I made my weekly goal of writing 5,000 words! yay yay yay yay!

This is the first time I've met that challenge since I started Jan 1. It only took me a month to meet this goal.

My reward to myself is to go to my friend's party this Saturday. She lives in Portland, 90 minutes away from our place. Charles is going to stay and babysit so I can have fun with my high school buddy and her friends.

Mr. Rodger's song is appropriate here: I'm proud of me! I'm proud of me! I hope that you are proud of me, too.

Actually, NaNoWriMo was a much bigger accomplishment, but that didn't feel like "real life," but this does. Whatever. I'm doing it and that is what matters.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cal in Chi-town

Daily Word Count: 1,034
Weekly Word Count: 4,548
LSCTS Word Count: 62,169

It was a little hard getting to the word-goal tonight. I'm not feeling 100%, and the words and ideas came a little slowly, but I did it. Just one word after another.

And, hey! I may actually make my weekly goal of 5,000 words! I'm only 462 words away! That would be a first for this year.

Okay, off to bed. Nighty-night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I like Nicolas Brown

Daily word count: 1,061
Weekly word count: 3,514
Project word count: 61,135

I think my character, Dr. Nicolas Brown, would drive me crazy if I were in a relationship with him because he says what he thinks all the time. It's an endearing quality, but it's going to get him into trouble--because that's what endearing qualities do to character eventually.

I actually wrote a poem for this chapter because Nicolas is a poet and wrote a piece inspired by Cal. So, it's on of his bad poems. I am not a poetess. One day I might give poetry a serious try, but frankly, it is intimidating. Very cool and fun, but intimidating. Kind of like writing a novel before you've tried it.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Hanky-panky ban

Daily word count: 1,068
Weekly word count: 2,453
LCTS word count: 60,074

I did a little math and realized that I may be able to get Liz Closes the Store to 80,000 by the end of February, if I can actually get to my writing goals.

So, my new goal is to get LCTS to 80K by 2/28/09. That's five weeks away. Five weeks times 5,000 words is 25K. That gives me a 5K cushion in of case another crime or illness.

The blog title refers to a scene I wrote today. Actually, lots of hanky but no panky goes on. I like this book. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cal has a date

Daily word count: 1,385
Weekly word count: 1,385
Book word count: 59,006

I have to be careful that Cal and Liz don't fuse in my mind and become the same character. Their reacts to things can be similar, and they need to be different.

Yay, big word count today. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cal gets a new love interest

Daily word count: 1,148
Weekly word count: 3,209

Actually, instead of a new love interest, I'm just expanding the love interest I hinted at in the "A" plot of the story. He's cute. That's all I'm saying for now.

Coffee with SWC was fun and very informative. His major piece of advice is the same advice everyone gives, but I am actually beginning to follow: if you want to be a writer, write a lot. You can't do anything if you don't have words on a page. He will be a good resource once I finish some words on pages, though. Thank you Scott!

I also need to fill up my list of ideas for projects, stories, etc. That will help on the days when I just can't look at the book anymore.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cal confronts her ex

Daily word count: 1,055
Weekly word count: 2,061

Cal gets to confront her ex at a rally because he's the environmental policy counsel for the Democrats. She's mostly terrified during the encounter, but manages to get through it and parse it later on. This ought to free her up for a relationship that I've imagined for her later in the book.

One thing I like about these characters is that all of them are strong women who are still vulnerable on the inside. As Dr. Elliot Reid says on Scrubs, "Every woman still has that self-conscious teenage girl inside her." I watch too much TV. :)

Tomorrow, I'll have coffee with a writer friend who's been published...multiple times! It's tempting to squeeze all the information he has about publishing and agents, etc., out of him, but I don't really need that now. I need a writer friend to commiserate with. It'll be fun.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Character sketches

daily word count : 1,006
weekly word count: 1,006

I was listening to a podcast episode of Pen On Fire (search for it on iTunes). It's a podcast where the host interviews writers, publishers, editors, etc. about the trade, so to speak. She does poetry, fiction, non-fiction writers. This time, the author had written a novel, and was talking about how she liked writing character sketches because she liked to see "what characters do when I'm not looking."

I really liked that, so I've done a bit of back story on the character Calliope Talmadge. I gave her a hippie/activist ex-husband who left her for a nubile Brazilian who also wanted to save the rainforest.

So far, so good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heckuva week

Daily total (Tuesday): 1,031
Weekly total: 1,031

Do not taunt Murphy. Just as you would not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

We had an animal get sick on us over the weekend, and she had to go to the hospital. She's fine now, but that was a tense time. Plus playoffs and some personal issues, no more writing has been done.

Writing my goal and editing Tuesday night felt really, really good. I like that feeling.

Tonight, I decided to work on our alpaca podcast instead ( It's been hanging over my head for so long, I wanted to finish it. I'm nearly done.

Off to bed! Maybe a little editing will get done under the covers. It could happen.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Murphy gets in the way...

Hmph. I'm not making it to 5,000 words this week.

(whiny excuse alert!)

My gym locker and car were broken into on Wednesday, and I had a meeting on Thursday night, so I didn't write either of those days. I will try to make words up this weekend, but I'm not hopeful.

(Unbridled optimism alert!)

Murphy (of Murphy's Law) likes to get in the way of new projects. I'm undaunted, though. Murphy has a short attention span, and next week will be better. Ha!

take that Murphy.


Monday, January 5, 2009

The last chapter?

daily word count: 1,099
weekly word count: 3,371

Did I really just write the last chapter of Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store?

Well, I wrote the last chapter of ONE of the POSSIBLE endings of this book. I like the ending, although I admit I stole the concept for the peace deal from an episode of The Simpsons, although originally, it wasn't an idea of how to create peace, but for how too many diseases make you invincible.

I think I'm going to live with this ending for a while and see how it sits. I really need to flesh it out. As it is, I've basically just written a framework, which needs some filling in before it's "done." I can't wait to start editing this book into a daft I can actually show people.

Of course, editing doesn't count towards the 5,000 new words a week goal I've set for myself, so I need to think of something to write for tomorrow. I'll bet there are more words in this project that need writing.

I guess I need to make a list of project to work on. That can wait for tomorrow. :)


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Playoffs foil me

daily word count : 1,162
weekly word count: 2,272

I've decided that my "week" will be counted from Sunday to Saturday, so that I may plan on spending Friday and Saturday nights not writing, but watching Netflix with my husband (This week was Throne of Blood by Kurosawa, a Japanese Samurai version of Macbeth. Awesome in so many ways).

I'm seeing that my plans may be further complicated by the fact that football playoffs are going on right now, and I feel compelled to watch them. This is true even though I don't have a personal investment in any team that made it to the playoffs this year, positive or negative.

In Closes the Store, Liz and company have figured out some preposterous way to end the conflict in the Middle East that doesn't involve wife-swapping. Actually, I have to finalize what they are doing, but I think that's best done by sleeping on it.

School starts tomorrow, though I don't start teaching classes until Tuesday. I was able to write 1,667 words a day during Nano, even with papers to grade. I know I'll be tempted to fudge on writing during the quarter, but if I can do it during Thanksgiving, I can do it now.

Yay, pep talk!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The end of "Liz Stratton Closes the Store"

Daily word count: 1,110
Weekly word count: 1,1110

I am working on the "endings" of my NaNoWriMo novel Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store. The book is a re-telling of Aristophanes's play Lysistrata, in which a group of women decide that in order to end a war, they should withhold sex from their husbands. It's a comedy, so the plan works.

In Liz, Liz A. Stratton is a talk show host who decides to run for President of the United States, and inadvertently calls for a sex strike to end the war.

The problem with the ending is that I know that the war ends, but I don't know if Liz wins the election. So, I'm writing it both ways: one winning and one losing.

Actually, I began with a three-way tie because I thought it would be interesting to explore what happens when that happens. It isn't interesting. It goes to Congress and they decide. I knew I had to stop writing that version when I realized how badly the character Liz didn't want to go to Washington D.C. and lobby for herself that way. She would have lost that battle. So those pages are in the round file.

Now I'm working on the "losing" version. I think we're going to the Middle East because women over there have begun protesting. I know, far-fetched, huh? We'll see how it goes.


The world doesn't need this...

Yet another writer who feels the need to be accountable to someone, even it if is equivalent to telling the void my daily wordcount.

However, I DO feel the need to be accountable, so here we are.

This is all NaNoWriMo's fault. I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in Nov. 2008, and I WON. This means that I wrote 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. That's 1,667 words a day, for those of you who are math blockheads like me.

This accomplishment has shown me that I am capable of producing book-length works, if I put in the time. This means that my guilt for NOT putting in the time is magnified by quite a lot. Hence the blog.

My strategy is twofold. First, I have resolved to produce 5,000 new words a week, or 1,000 words a day for each weekday. On top of that, I resolve to post my word counts and travails here so that I can at least keep track. Plus, I have found that I problem solve when I write, so this will be a place where I can "think on paper," and have it stored handily so when I look for it later, I don't give up as soon as I confront my scary file cabinet or box of old journals.

This may prove useful someday to someone other than myself, but that's a secondary function here. If someone asks me a question, the writing teacher in me will try to answer it, but mostly, this is going to be a place for my musings.

Let me know if any of you have writing questions or questions about my work. If all goes as planned, I'll be updating this quite frequently.

love to all