I’d really thought I had my word-count right.

I gathered up all the documents and files I’d scattered around—my laptop, a Netbook, my phone,  my e-mail draft folder, that scribbled-over credit card bill under the cat—loaded ’em all into the verification window (presumably in the right order, but meh), hoping I wasn’t too far off the 50014 words I’d guesstimated.

I was way off, as it turned out.  It was 50572.

Nano Winner

Of course, I didn’t really write a novel.  I wrote sketchy outlines, a character study or two, and two rather long short stories, the first of which cuts off abruptly at a strange point and is linked to the second by a single sentence:  “Meanwhile, from the other side of the author’s subconscious . . . ”

Because if Nanowrimo 2012 has taught me anything,* it’s that when you attempt to write a Police Procedural, there’s only so far ignorance of all but the most basic Law & Order-gleaned police procedures will take you—in fact, it will take you about 28,485 words.**

The rest is . . . a bit right-brained.  Like Salvador Dali-grade right-brained.

I’m not sure any of this is salvageable except for the premise of the first story and the crime in the second—neither of which particularly mesh—but I don’t have to decide that right now.

Right now, I have to sleep.


*Besides the undeniable fact that my Internal Censor is a vicious bitch, distracted only by caffeine and shiny plot points.

** Eventually, it will take me to my local police department with a list of questions.  Maybe.


Random Thursday: Swirly Lit, Gummi R&B, and a Facepalm Plot Fix

Not necessarily in that order . . .

Two more days of Nano, so this is as much random as I can spare.  I’m at the point where I’m channeling Herman Meville—instead of using four words to say, He tied a knot, I’m writing things like He moved the rope ends over and under and through and then over again, but then undid it to start over because the knots had to be secure and finally it was done with a nice bow that he double-tied just in case, because the rope was hempen and as anyone knows, hempen rope is made of hemp which is both hairy and slippery in its natural state—just like the man he was tying up, for seventy-six.

And don’t think I’m not cutting and pasting that one  into the story.  Time’s a’wastin’.


Swirly Thing Alert!*

The Literature Map site has been doing the rounds of the library forums lately. You plug in the name of an author and after a brief kaleidoscope effect, you get something that looks like this, only bigger:

It isn’t actually a read-alike map, it’s an also-read map. In other words, the more confessed John Irving readers who have also admitted to reading, say, Phillip Roth, the closer Mr. Roth and Mr. Irving will settle.

So I’m not sure how useful it is for Readers’ Advisory, but it’s fun to click on authors and watch everyone go whizzing around the screen like literary bumper cars. Ayn Rand in particular seems to enjoy these big dramatic swoops, and occasionally you’ll see Hemingway muscle Fitzgerald out of the way in a corner, neither of which surprises me.

Go one, try it. You know you want to.


But . . . the wolf represents the essential loneliness of the cabbage . . .

I read this and thought how great it would be if all plot tangles were so easily fixed.

And then I hit my forehead with my palm.



I was moved to tears

Who’s ready for a ride on the nostalgia train?

I actually liked this show—the premise was questionable, but the writing was surprisingly good, at least at the beginning, and the voices didn’t get on my last Smurfing nerve.


*First person to name that reference gets a brownie point!

Poetry Wednesday: Mediocrity in Rejection

I received this poem a couple days ago with this note:

This is for all of us who’ve queried a manuscript, submitted an article proposal, auditioned for a role, sent art to a jury, or picked up a microphone and had to wait for a verdict.

Mediocrity in Love Rejected
(Thomas Carew)

Give me more love or more disdain;
The torrid, or the frozen zone,
Bring equal ease unto my pain;
The temperate affords me none;
Either extreme, of love, or hate,
Is sweeter than a calm estate.

Give me a storm; if it be love,
Like Danae in that golden show’r
I swim in pleasure; if it prove
Disdain, that torrent will devour
My vulture-hopes; and he’s possess’d
Of heaven, that’s but from hell releas’d.

Then crown my joys, or cure my pain;
Give me more love, or more disdain.


A Musical Interlude

It’s the home stretch of Nanowrimo and I’ve four days to write (at last count this exact moment) 6.202 words, so this is going to be a shorter post than usual. You’re welcome!

I don’t listen to the radio much. My car radio is tuned to my MP3 broadcaster thingie, and I don’t have the patience to reset everything all the time* and while I could preset the stations, I never think about it when I actually have the time.  And I don’t tune into online stations very often, either—most of my new music comes from personal recommendations and chance YouTube encounters.

But through an odd set of circumstances and a couple of random clicks, I found myself listening to Radio Two out of Canada the other night while I was Nano-ing. Three songs grabbed me enough to scribble down the artists or titles, and when I came up for air, I went hunting.

Amelia Curran was described somewhere (because I couldn’t find it again) as a cross between Patsy Kline and Leonard Cohen. I’m not arguing:

I found a live version of Ms. Curran’s “The Mistress,” too (click the link–it’s worth it). And bought two albums worth of her downloads because I couldn’t wait for Christmas. I’ll apologize to my family later.

Did I ever mention how much I love Martha Reeves and the Vandellas? I forget sometimes, myself, but Elise LeGrow reminded me:

I dare you not to sing along by the end—and maybe do a few hand moves, too.

Maybe it’s the chronic sleep deprivation, but this last song is hitting me just right at the moment.  The  singer has pared down his needs to the essentials,and while I don’t mind a little romance now and then, I can’t help but agree with him:

What have you been listening to lately?

* I might make an exception for that station that plays Christmas music from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, but not for a few more weeks—I’m well aware of my tolerance levels and I’d hate for there to be another unfortunate . . . incident . . . over “Christmas Shoes.”

Thanksgiving Leftovers

It was a good Thanksgiving, all told.

My parents arrived Tuesday evening so they could get up early Wednesday for Family and Friends Day at the kids’ school* and left Saturday morning, a little after I left for work.

Here are bits and pieces of what happened between:


Wednesday evening:

This is all Watson’s fault.  She’s the one who introduced us to Munchkins, a sort of role-playing, monster-fighting, flippin’-hilarious card game with warriors and levels and cursing and running away and really, really odd weapons.

She has expansion packs and different versions—Pirate Munchkins, SuperMunchkins, Zombie Munchkins, etc.—and we all played a couple of hands with Mom, Dad, and Janie while Sunny pulled all the Fairy Dust Expansion cards out of the discard piles and made up stories about them.

The game itself is hard to explain, but these quotes from our evening might give you some idea of what’s involved:

“But . . .but you have a  chicken on your head.  And I smell.

“Do you really want to ask your aunt or grandpa for help, sweetie?  Or will you ask your devoted mother, who loves you very, very  much and will kill that horrible monster for you for only two, tiny little treasure cards?  Because I will be glad to underbid those mercenary people over there just to keep you safe. You know that, right?  Sweetie?”

“No!  No, no, no—remember the first rule of Munchkins:  any dispute must be followed by a loud argument, which we’ve just had, followed by the owner of the game threatening to take her cards and go home unless she wins.  And that would be me.
“You are home.”
“Then I will go downstairs.

“I did it! I did it! I have won the Fruitcake of Destiny!!!!  Oh . . .I think I just wet myself.”


Thursday afternoon:

“Okay,” I said, rummaging through grocery bags.  “Mom and Dad may have forgotten the cheddar and the eggnog, and the baby carrots, but they did remember the diet Pepsi, so at least I won’t be curled up in a fetal position under the table by dinner.”

“You would have gone out and found some,” said my husband.

“True,” I said.  “But all the stores are closed now.  I’d have to find a caffeine pusher on the street corner and you know how that would go:

“Hey, man, all I got is 24 ounces a’Coke, maybe a little Pepsi Zero,  y’know?  The Man’s been breathing down my neck hard, lately.
Yeah, yeah  . . . Wait, is this &(@$%ing root beer?  I know you ain’t pulling this $#!& with me, punk—Paagph!  did you cut this with Sprite?!  I will &(@$%  you up!”

Which is when my husband and Watson started muttering something about an intervention . . .


While Cooking:

“You have to stir it constantly,” said Watson.

“I am.  Sort of,” I said.  “I’m just letting it relax a little.”

“Uh huh.”

“Why don’t I do that for you, honey,” said Mom.  ” If you’re getting tired of all that stirring that you really do have to do.”

“I have made this before, you know,” I said.

Mom held up her hands and backed off.  “Okay, okay.”

“I’m not bothering you with all this  noise, am I?” I asked Watson, rattling the whisk around the saucepan like a troupe of six-year old tap dancers.**

“No,” she said.  “You’ll have to do better than that to bother me.”

“Hey, Watson . . . Watson!”  I lifted the whisk.  “I’m not stirring it.  I’m not stirring it.  I’m not stirring it. I’m not stirring it . . .”

I am flipped a bird that is not turkey and start humming the Jeopardy think music . . .


Thanksgiving Dinner:

“Honey,” said Mom, eying Dad as he reached for the last roll.  “Remember, you’re having cake.”

“You’re right,”he said, pausing only a moment before securing the roll and the butter. “I am.  This is my one chance to pig out and I’m going to do it.”

“Spoken like a man who bought a large amount of Prilosec this morning,” I said.


“Mommy,” said Sunny.  “I don’t want to eat this.”

“Since when do you not like turkey?” I asked.

“Since this turkey.”

“Right. Then have some mashed potatoes.  Or your veggies.”

“But they’re too hot.”

Five minutes later.  “Try them now, honey.  you can’t just have a roll for dinner—you’ll be hungry later.”

“But they’re too cold.  Can I have another roll?”


Photo credit: jose.jhg

The Aftermath:

Watson, eyeing the mountain of interlocked clean dishes my Mom left in the drainer:  “Looks like I’m gonna be playing Jenga.”

“Oh my God, look—look!  I found the lid to this bowl and it fits!  It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!”
“Hallelujah!  Here’s the rest of the green beans.  Do it again.”


About ten o’clock, while I’m brushing my teeth:

“Mommy,” said Sunny, rubbing her eyes.  “I’m hungry.”


* Jane aced a spelling test for the first time in fourth grade!  Her best attempt (for a given value of the word) to that point was a C-minus—Watson and I couldn’t tell if she had test anxiety, some kind of block, or a severe case of Don’t Want To.  But she buckled down all week, memorizing five words a day.  I couldn’t be prouder of her for trying so hard.  We were there when she took the test and every time she wrote down a word, she giggled—she knew she’d nailed it.

**I still have flashbacks from Jane’s last recital.