26 November 2011

Almost There

“You!” the nun impostor roared, her high screechy voice cutting through the air like a knife.

Agent Smith ran for the cage, knowing she had to get between it and the woman.

The woman pulled an impossibly large gun from beneath her nun robes and aimed for the cage, and Agent Smith's friends inside. Agent Smith raised her own gun to fire, but as the scene played out in super slow motion she knew that she wouldn't make it.

Bad plan, she decided.

The above marks me one chapter away from being done with my Nano!!! I just hit the 50,000 word goal, and for once only have a few pages to go to actually end the story. (Not like other years where 50,000 words didn't even get me half way through.) I planned it. Go me.

This year was an experiment. I decided to try to write a 12 episode serial story (I've probably mentioned it like a dozen times, but I can't remember because my poor brain has been overworked at, well, work.) for Nano. For the first time ever my outline held together for almost 2/3 of the story. By the time I got that far I'd put so much random stuff in that I had to revise the rest of the outline. But not too bad, really.

My subconscious seems to like this one. I keep coming up with little things to put together—clues and the like—that actually make sense.

Yes, the world could end soon. Warn your neighbors.

But really, it's been fun. Who knows if I can translate this into novel writing land, but we'll see what happens.

I hope everyone got somewhere with their Nano (if you started) this year. Doesn't matter if it's ten or ten thousand or a hundred thousand (yes, I know someone who wrote that many words in a month once)--those are more words than you had before. Love them. Cherish them. Put them in a safe place until you're ready to revisit them.

You never know, they might be worth something someday.

20 November 2011

This Week

Thanksgiving is coming up this week. It is my favorite holiday, so I figure I should spend some time thinking about all the things I have to be thankful for.

First off, even though I'm about ready to open up a can of kick a** at work, I am grateful that I have a job that provides me with a sufficient amount of income form which I can pay my bills, save a little and have a bit leftover for play. Oh, and right now it's supporting my writing habit.

Next I need to mention my family. Unlike some families, drama does not dominate our gatherings and usually people don't go home from a birthday party feeling shunned, picked on, upset and/or otherwise defiled by the rest of the family. We're downright boring in the drama department, and for that I am very thankful. The worst that happens and my oldest sister and I get into the “She's touching me!” fight. Sad when they sit the 7 year old between us to keep us from bickering. Really we just want to harass the 7 year old. Or his older brothers. We're good aunties like that.

My entire life has been filled with good friends. I've got friends that I still see on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that I went to Kindergarten with. Really. I've always had good support from those around me, and my friends put up with all of the crazy things I want to do in this life. Like hiking to Druid Arch in the snow, for instance, writing books, traveling the world (although my sister has helped with that one) and having Lord of the Rings movie marathons for my birthday. The best part about it is that I'm still making new friends, and I love it!

The past year has seen an unprecedented (look at that awesome word!) push forward for me and writing. Death Camp was just over a year ago. Since then I've completed a novel and sent it out for query. I've written two more novels in rough draft form, came in second in a short story contest, won a first chapter contest, stalked agents, met editors, joined an awesome writing group (or two), seen a friend publish her first book, felt like I've maybe helped a few other people along the scary, writing path and in general, learned to love writing and storytelling even more than I did before.

Thus far I have my health, my happiness, joy in my religion, a comfortable place to live and I've still got my sense of humor.

There are a lot more things that I wish would happen, but life is good.

The t-shirts say so!

14 November 2011

A Word of Warning

If you decide to invade my dreams, there are a few rules you need to follow. First, I get to make all of the cool decisions. Second, it's all about me. Third, you will gladly risk your own (insert important thing here) so that I can get away from any potential bad guys that might be lurking around. If you are the bad guys there are a whole different set of rules, which I will not go over today.

So this morning, in the last hour of my sleeping time, I kept waking up and going back to sleep only to end up in the same dream. Something about a house, running from suburban killers, secret codes and a lot of extraneous walking. Oh, and ridiculously manicured lawns. No idea what that was about.

Anyway, at one point two men and I have to get back into the house. No problem, one of them knows the code to get us inside.

Apparently the concept of “time crunch” has never instilled itself into this guy's head. We run across a street that's like six lanes wide, up the driveway and onto the porch. I reach up to key pad and look at the guy, expecting to get the code.

He smiles.

He smiles and then holds up a monetary bill of some kind that's larger than a regular piece of paper. He continues to grin one of those annoying “I know something you don't” kind of grins and points at the upper right hand corner of the bill.

I was like, “Is that the code?”

He shakes his had. “Nope, it's a clue.”

A clue? A CLUE!?! What the . . . I told him we were in a hurry. Nothing. I threatened him. Nothing. He told me it has to do with nostrils. I think about sticking the paper up his nostril. The dumb jerk didn't punch the code in until my dream world started flooding the entire place with water that mysteriously bubbled up from under the ground. Then all of the stuffed animals got wet. For whatever reason that was important.

So I woke up grouchy at this dumb guy and his ever more idiotic friend. The day didn't get any better than that until I cleaned the bathroom after work.

Yes, my life is that sad.

Just over 28,000 words for Nano! Hey, maybe I'll write the stupid code keeper in and kill him off in a not very nice way.

13 November 2011

Transformers 3

Yes, I realize I'm behind.

Summary borrowed form the web:

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

Transformers is one of my favorite childhood cartoons! I loved it as a kid and I probably still have my original Grimlock action figure from the 80's. Bumblebee is my favorite with Jazz as a close second.

The first movie was okay. It made me laugh and had some decent action scenes, although I thought the actual robots were a bit on the pansy side. This is Optimus Prime Vs. Megatron people! Let the destruction begin!

The second movie I blocked from my mind. I remember next to nothing about it and I have no inclination (or even a glimmer of desire) to revisit it in order to bring it back into clarity.

I'd heard that this third movie was better than the second one.

I think that's true. Like I said, I don't remember much of #2.

Unfortunately, I still think it was a horrible movie. Good stuff included a few small bits of the plot and most of the action. Optimus Prime kicked some serious trash—finally. Very cool effects and tense-ness during the destruction of almost everything the camera focused on.

The idea of Optimus Prime being pissed off and giving the silent treatment cracked me up. It's 100% untrue to his character, but funny all the same.

Frankly, the human story in this is crap. The story they should have told is Optimus Prime's. He's lost his planet and most of his friends. His greatest enemy has been reawakened and almost killed him—and now he's back again. His leader is miraculously found and revived, only to betray him. He looses more friends and he's got to wonder why in the world he's trying to protect these annoying, petty, over governing humans.

Who cares that the still obnoxious Sam can't find a job and treats Bumblebee like he's the family dog? Come to think of it, where was the dog? And who cares about his trophy girlfriend? Although her thing with Megatron at the end made me think slightly more of her. And being able to run through a ruined city in those heels for hours on end means she's one tough chick. But really, did anyone believe their relationship? Perhaps if Sam's character had actually grown up a bit in five or six years I could have felt something for him on screen. But no. The writers weren't nice enough to write that in.

I'd love to see someone who can tell an awesome story get a hold of the Transformers and figure out a way to revive the franchise. But please, don't make it stupid. We watched an over dramatic anime movie after we watched Dark Side of the Moon and were appalled to find it a much better film.

Sad, but true.

08 November 2011

Never Tell Me the Odds

It's been a while since I've told a harrowing Kung Fu tale. Lately we've been working on grab escapes (what to do when someone is trying to drag you off to the molester van) and things haven't been terribly exciting.

Tonight we got to try out our new found freedom tactics in the circle of truth and wisdom. Wait, let me rephrase that. (Apply movie trailer announcer voice here) The Circle of Truth and Wisdom—where everyone is no one, and we all get, er, grabbed. Wait, never mind, that sounds awful. I lost some air to my brain earlier, so maybe that's the problem.

Really though, we all stood in a circle and put one sucker, er, I mean victim—no wait, maybe student is the best word—in the middle. The soon to be assaulted gets to sand in the circle, close their eyes, get into a horse stance (nice, bent knees), keep their back straight and hold both hands out in front of them in fists.

This is referred to as the “Kill Me” stance.

No, I'm not joking. What's more terrifying is the fact that all of the higher ranks will just drop into this stance the moment a Sensei says, “Kill me stance.” We do it without thinking! If that information got into the wrong hands, all of our upper ranks would be dead in about three seconds. Especially if someone had a projectile weapon. Or a flame thrower. Which is kind of the same thing I guess.

Sorry, distracted. Back to the circle. We've got someone in the kill me stance, and Sensei picks someone else, shows them how to grab the, er, victim and sets them loose.

The white belts get nice, easy grabs like, “Oh, look, I'm going to grab your right wrist with my left hand and drag you away. What will you do?” None of this is said, of course, but that's the unspoken dialogue of the scene. Then the white belt wriggles a bit, maybe throws a punch and perhaps even remembers one of the techniques we've learned and gets out of it. Yay!

Well, uh, being the only black belt in class today, Sensei thought it would be funny to make things a little more challenging for me. One kid (a brown belt) had two people grab him at once. Me? Two wasn't good enough, apparently, so I got three. One of them being Sensei.

Dang Sensei, he put me in a head lock, and two other people each grabbed a hand so I couldn't do anything about it. All this at the same moment so I didn't have a chance to get out of anything before they locked down. First off, Sensei is like a bull dog, or a pit bull or whatever. He latches on and doesn't let go. So my head is being squished in half with his forearm grinding into my cheek bone (he didn't go for my neck, because this hurts way more) and both of my arms are otherwise engaged.

Not sure how I actually got out of it. I kicked something, pretty hard, and wriggled one arm free. The moment it was out I started flailing and hit someone in the face. Oops. Sorry. I ended up pulling on fingers and birthing my head back out of the head lock. I've got rug burn on my face from Sensei's gi. I'm sure there's a better way to get out of it, but at the time all I could think was “flail” and “My hair!”

05 November 2011

Thwarted :(

What can you do when it's Mother Nature who thwarts you? I mean really, there isn't exactly a box you can slip an irate comment into. Nor is there a “proper channel” through which one can lodge a complaint. I supposed that you could go around destroying nature, but what good does that do? And it makes all those environmentalists really, really upset. And when they get upset . . . well, I'll let you fill in your own blanks there.

We woke up this morning and the temperature had plummeted a good thirty degrees over night. Rain fell steadily and loudly outside of our hotel (and the entire surrounding state I think)--none of this was entirely unexpected. These things did not deter us from getting up, filling our camel back bladders, packing snacks, gathering every warm piece of clothing that we could find and heading south, toward the Needles District of Canyonlands.

Nor did the snow we drove through to get into the park put us off. We even rallied after the park rangers said that the road to the trailhead was impassible to anyone in a low clearance vehicle. (I knew we should have brought someone's SUV) We followed their alternate directions, found our set off point and, well, set off.

The first fifteen minutes we had a downpour. Good thing for cheap ponchos. After that it stopped for a while. We scrambled over rocks, ridges, hills and vales. Okay, maybe not vales. Those cute little cairn piles are like life lines. Life lines possessed by tiny voices that laughed at me whenever they led us up a sheer wall of slippery rock. Or down into a ravine, just to then say, “Come on, up this other side now.” Rotten little things . . .

No really, I loved them. Happy piles of stones. Really.

Well, we ended up taking the hard and longer trail (the only option available). By the time we met up with the trail that would then lead us directly to Druid Arch we'd already come almost four miles and had four miles left to go. We'd battled through wind, hail, rain, snow, swift moving creeks, badly sung opera, fruitless shortcuts the failed promise of a disco party and a distinct lack of Druid Arch progress, and while I was ready for an 11 mile hike (not terribly strenuous according to the reports I'd read) I was not prepared to make it a 16 mile hike. Not only that, but the rangers said there wasn't much of a chance that we could get very far down Elephant Canyon because of all the water. And the daylight was waning. Or would be, by the time we got back.

Snow began piling up around us, and I decided that we were finished. Remember, we had to do all of the above again (yes, including the opera) with the threat of cannibals added, and I wanted to be able to get back to the car before someone fell of the trail, sprained an ankle or started to whine like a little girl. That would be me. So we came back.

I do have to say that the hike was spectacular. The wet made all of the bark on the trees very dark—a nice contrast to the green vegetation and the red rocks. I'd go again. But not in the summer. The place would be an oven. However, now I have to come back next spring and do Druid Arch. This time I'm bringing a truck (just in case) and some sort of leverage over Mother Nature. Not sure what, I'll get back to you. Send my any ideas you may have.

Pictures are still in my camera. I'll post them when we get back.

Oh, a plug for the Carhartt jacket I bought. That thing is a rock star. No water got through and I was plenty warm. Also, thanks to the pillow top like socks that I wore. My feet don't hurt a bit. The rest of my body does, but not my feet.

04 November 2011

It Is Time . . .

Well, it's almost time. In twelve hours we'll be on our way, and in 24 hours we should be back. Eating. Reliving our harrowing hike and laughing at the fact that at some point we all thought we might die.

Okay, maybe not the dying part.

In the morning myself and two friends are going to hike to Druid Arch in Canyonlands. I used it as a location (the climax actually) of my first novel, and I figured since I live fairly close that I should visit.

Of course tomorrow is the only day that it's supposed to snow. Of course this is the first weekend in months that there has been even a hint of bad weather. Of course I had to pack an extra bag of just hiking clothes because I have NO idea what I'm going to want in the morning. Of course the temperatures have plummeted twenty degrees.

Come on, who's the jokester? What did I do to you? I'm sure it was all in good fun.

Fate, we can be friends again, right? And can we make sure that happens before about 9am tomorrow morning?

If no one hears from me by 6:00 tomorrow night, call the search and rescue guys in Moab. Handsome, single mean are preferred. Oh, well, we've got a guy with us, so any cute girls could come along as well. I supposed.

01 November 2011

Let the Madness Begin!

Today is the first day of November. To those that know me, it won't come as a shock that I've decided to once again bite off more than I can probably chew and tackle Nanowrimo. 50,000 words in a month. They can be as craptastic as you can write them—just as long as by 11:59pm on the 30th of November you have 50,000 of them plugged into the Nanowrimo web site so you can be a winner!

Yay winners!

Like I mentioned a few days ago, I've completed this little challenge every year for the past seven years.

I remember the first time I did it. Spewing 50,000 words into a text file (most of them even making sense) and only getting 1/3 of the way finished with my story was one of the coolest things I've ever done. I started out with a single sentence. I think I read No Plot, No Problem before I started, took a deep breath and dove right in.

Thirty days later I had about 55,000 words. The fact that I'd written that much on a single story was amazing to me. The fact that I still had 2/3 of the story to tell was even cooler.

That's when I first understood—novels can be written by mere mortals.

The next two years I wrote parts 2 and 3 to my first Nano, ending up with a novel of 185,000 words that is so craptastic that it will never see the light of day. I think I had one friend read it. She still talks to me, so it wasn't repulsive. But It's probably close.

Who can resist a guy named Paul, who has built in Chaos Armor (yes, I know, copyright and all that, back off, it's Nano for crying out loud), carries a battle ax in one hand and a shield named Daisy in the other. Oh, and he's cursed. What's not to get excited about?

I've also Nano-ed novels about super secret agents, a girl who lives in a dystopian world where Scavengers killed her entire family and she is now alone and a re-make of the Seven Samurai . . . in space.

Where else can I let these wild and crazy things out?

FYI: 2,552 words down!