Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Though a bit tired at present from unwelcome insomnia last night, I have had fun today. We opened presents, watched other people open ours and generally enjoyed ourselves. Then, we set up the new slackline (!) and laughed ourselves silly at everybody else's acrobatics. Dad, in particular, seemed to be attempting to walk it at a 45 degree angle. Now why would he do something that silly? But he did improve on the 2nd go around.

I was going to post pictures of us on the slackline so you could laugh as well, but I ran out of time to get the picture edited and uploaded, so instead here is a wonderful cello rendition of the Carol of the Bells. Another excellent video by The Piano Guys!

Until next time!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 Days till Christmas!

I finished it! I finished it! Pardon me while I dance happily around the room. What, you ask, did I finish? My dear Mother's Christmas present. I debated posting a picture of it for today's post, but I decided against it. I can't take the chance that she might see it. However, I promise I'll post a picture of what has so consumed my time recently upon Christmas Day. I highly doubt I'll get around to writing on novella #2 before Christmas. I will have to direct my energy toward cleaning and baking and catching up on my blog posts.

If you've been paying attention to my twitter you'll notice I've been tweeting about collecting interviews for a feature. All I'll say now is that it'll start on January 2nd. I'll announce further details on or around January 1st.

As for the picture, a cute attack kitty! I just love cats. They're so crazy independent and cute!

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 Days till Christmas!

It's starting to get close now! I can't believe that only four days separate me from Christmas. So, in light of that I was desperately sewing my fingers off today on the present I'm making. However, I still didn't get it done! But, I don't have more than one day's work left. Yay! Since I'm short on time today, I'll leave you with a hilarious video. It has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with dancing.

Until next time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

9 Days till Christmas

Yet more lovely distractedness today. For this video the question is, is it real or fake? I found it even more interesting and distracting to read through all the comments debating that point. The first video is the actual prank and the second video has segments on how they did the prank and the results.

On another thought relating to Christmas and writing, do you know of the idiom circulating about how giving is better than receiving? Well, I've come to believe in recent years that it is very true. Lately, I've found it more fun to give people presents and see their reactions rather than receiving presents. So, giving being more fun than receiving could almost be given the placement as the second stage to the process. But then I began thinking. Isn't writing similar? We all start out by receiving (reading), but somewhere along the way, those of us that are writers start enjoying the process of giving (writing) more than receiving (reading). Just a thought.

Short version:

Long version:

Until next time!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 Days till Christmas

Back yet again slightly later than I had hoped. This christmas present I'm making is throwing me off my stride both on here and for writing. Though, I anticipated it delaying the latter. So I leave you with a very amusing video. I hope you like sheep + led lights + people with too much time on their hands.

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11 Days till Christmas

The first of the Christmas presents put in an appearance today. The lucky recipient? The family dog, Sandy. Mom bought her a new doggy bed that has more padding. Sandy needs all the padding she can get in her old age of 10. It was funny to see her investigating her new bed. She wouldn't lie down until we made her and even then she had this guilty look on her face like "Am I really supposed to be on this?".
I put one of her blankets on the bed and she seemed to take to it more after that, but I still think it'll be a few days before she adjusts completely.

Present status? I put in almost 3 hours today. Results? Finished one color and started another. I should be able to get that color done tomorrow. This is where copious hours of audiobooks come in handy. Now, I must be off. There's a Christmas brunch tomorrow for which I have to rise at 6 am. Have I mentioned before how much I hate waking up early?

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days till Christmas/Birth of a Novel #6

Earlier, I thought about what number the title of this post would contain. Then I panicked. I've got a present to finish. In 12 days. AHH! I mean, I'm pretty sure I can finish it by then, but I'd have to put in 3-4 hours a day to get it done most likely. I meant to start back working on it December 1st, but see how that turned out.
I won't say what the present is, but the picture should be enough to ascertain that it's some form of cross stitching. Having to work on this will seal my doom when it comes to writing. All those hours that I could spend writing will have to poured into this project since it has to get done by Christmas morn.

On other news, I finally gave in and joined twitter. Pardon me while a shudder races up my back. I never thought I'd join Twitter. Just what I need. One more social network to keep an eye on. However I joined in the name of networking. So, don't expect me to tweet every five minutes like some people do. You'll be lucky to see one tweet a day from me. More likely, outside of tweets signalling blog posts, I won't do much with it. I created the account more for announcements rather than for bleeding out my daily life. That is what my diary/journal is for, not twitter or this blog or facebook. You can follow me on twitter either by clicking here or clicking the links in the twitter widget in the sidebar.

Until next time!

Monday, December 12, 2011

13 Days till Christmas

Eugh. This is how I feel right now:
I mean, the sick part. Not that I'm cutting myself short on cuteness, but you get the idea. If this lasts till Thursday, I might even hit the 3 week mark for being sick. Yay me. So, not much time, or motivation, to write or take photographs. So, instead, enjoy this picture by BMartin.
I promise I'll get around to writing sometime this week. However, rearranging and cleaning my room took priority today. (And, let me tell you, my room is looking good right now!) Plus I have to fit resume writing in there somewhere. Oh the joys of having too much to do and too little time.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

14 Days till Christmas/How to Wrap a Cat

So, I'm breaking my tradition today of putting a picture for each day of the countdown. I really just didn't know what to photograph today and was panicking slightly until I saw this video shared on facebook. Please take this in place of the usual picture and enjoy!

It makes me wish I had still had a cat. Oh the sorrow of being a cat person when living in a house with an allergic to cats person. I haven't had a cat since I took on a stray twelve years ago. Her kittens were soooo cute!

On the writing front, I stumbled across an interesting blog post today. I found the link in my daily digest for the yahoo writing group I'm in. It details how the writer boosted her daily word count to 10k. Click here for the blog post.

I'm not sure I could pull off the first tip mentioned, but the other two sound like things I could work on. So, I cobbled together an excel sheet to keep track of my time writing so I can gather some statistics on how I write. That should help improve my productivity. Now, to find a way to counter procrastination....

Until next time!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

15 Days till Christmas and a Discussion on Copying

Only fifteen days to go. It's hard to believe that's the measure of the time remaining. But whether I wish it or not, the time ticks by. What I really wish is that this lingering sickness would go away. I must have gone through 10 cough drops in row this morning and afternoon to keep from coughing all over our yard sale customers.
Isn't my sister cute? She was our cheerleader/living signpost.
Yes, today was the big day and my room is emptier than yesterday. So, after I clean up a bit (the amount of dust that collects under a desk is astounding!) I can rearrange things into a nice little cozy reading corner. But first, cleaning is a must. The baseboards and carpet look disgusting covered in grey webs of dust and dirt.

As for writing, I still have several more hours left of the day to accomplish something on that front but to be on the safe side I'm downgrading myself from 500 words a day to 250. Perhaps once the holidays are over and the relatives gone, I can go back to 500 or more words a day. After all, I've set a new project for myself. Perhaps I should say, an old new project. It's been floating around on my head and paper for 10 years now and it's about time I finally wrote the whole thing down. I've never managed to get beyond 4 chapters before. But a bit of background first.

I spent the whole yard sale and the rest of the afternoon reading the fourth and final novel in Christoper Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. That behemoth of a book took me all that time to read it because it sits at well over 800 pages (!). I have to admit that his writing has improved over the duration of the series so I look forward to his next book or series, when, hopefully, he'll start from scratch. Yes, I'm a firm believer that Paolini copied far too much from other books and movies. However, that's what happens when you're a young writer embarking on your first novel. I did it, but more on that later. In Paolini's next series, I hope he begins on a new world where he will draw more on his imagination than the books he's currently reading. Each new book in the Inheritance Cycle gave me more and more hope that he was finding out what it truly means to craft your own unique world from not so unique building blocks. Every writer starts out with the same materials. It's how a writer uses them that sets apart the good from the bad, the original from the copies.

In the first half of my senior thesis, I discussed this phenomenon of copying. You might recognize it better under a different name. That is, imitation. When you realize that copying is actually imitation, you can see the logic behind it. Imitating the masters has always been one of the first ways for artists and writers to learn how to write. And so this is where all beginning writers start. Most of these novels never see the light of day after they are written. Paolini just had the misfortune that his novel did see the light of day and was published with all the imitations intact, thereby leaving him open to criticism. Of course, once you start down the road of imitation I would argue that it is impossible to completely erase all traces of imitation even with countless edits and revisions.

But you must move past imitation to become a creator of original works. That first imitative novel or work is an essential step, but it's not the destination.

That leads me back around to my imitation novel. I started it 10 years ago when I was asked by my mother to choose an English course for our homeschool that year. I chose "Learn to Write the Novel Way". I embarked full of enthusiasm on a fantasy novel which I called SwordQuest at the time. I know, such an original name, is it not? At the end of the year I had 4 chapters of a fantasy novel and I had figured out two very important things. 1) I. Hate. Planning. (I still do to this day. Minimal planning/pantsing it is the way to go!) 2) My MC was a carbon copy of the heroine from Robin McKinley's "Hero and the Crown". Why? Because that was the latest novel that had captured my interest and obsession. Once I realized this, I scrapped the novel, revised it and began again until I finally put it aside. Of course that may have also had something to do with the fact that I'd attempted an outline and had not only failed, but I had written myself into a corner.

Three years later, when I again turned my creative efforts to novels, I started writing my first sci-fi novel "Adventure at Anwar" which is still unfinished to this day. However, in those three years my original fantasy novel had been stewing in the back of my mind. My MC went from a princess, to a soldier, to the sister of a soldier, to the daughter of a village head. The series expanded to three books instead of one and I discarded the original idea of having the MC questing for magical items. In other words, I revised it significantly. One by one, I attempted to strip away all the imitations I could see. Around that time, I had a brainwave about how to start writing the novel again. A story about unicorns in "Deep Magic" ezine gave me the idea and so I started back in on it. I wrote most of the prologue and started into chapter 1, figured out a good deal of the main plot points and characters, and even settled on a love interest. But the idea didn't go anywhere. I shelved it in the back of my mind.

This year, I cleaned off the dust. The series has once again morphed. Now it will take the form of a duology thus solving the problems of having no climax for book 1 and a boring journey for half of book 2. I combined them into one book, though the third (now second) book has remained the same so far. It is this series then, that I wish to return to. Even though it has several imitations left in it of Robin McKinley's work, it is hard to find them. One cannot be eliminated because it is essential to the plot. So, once I finish novella #2 for the "Across Time" series, I shall be taking a break to stroll down memory lane and complete this old imitation novel that's been 10 years in the making. Who know? Maybe it will turn out good enough to publish. But I have to finish writing it first. It's been 4 long years since my last foray into the fantasy genre and I think it's about time I went back.

Until next time!

P.S. This blog post is over a thousand words. Haven't written a post that long in a while. O_O

Friday, December 9, 2011

16 Days till Christmas

Charge it! Or just put them under your dinner plates. Mom went shopping and found $1 chargers at Michael's. She seemed quite delighted when she returned, eight chargers in hand.
Today was spent on yard sale stuff. I spent the morning and afternoon painting six signs to post around the neighborhood. Bending over the dining room table painting is the perfect way to acquire a sore lower back. But the signs looked good when I was done. Mom remarked on my use of red and green in addition to the black. She said it looked Christmasy. Honestly, I didn't intend it to be so. I found green, red, and yellow paint and thought the former two would show up better. And while I was painting our street name in red I realized it matched with the 'Red' in the street name. How weird is that? I guess it means I do have some subconscious artistic sense....

Again, no writing today other than this blog, but the ideas have been floating around in my head. I'm considering whether to write or read one of the five library books waiting for me while running the yard sale tomorrow morning. Of course, this is all contingent on my actually being awake and alert. We'll see how well six hours of sleep suits me.

Until next time!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

17 Days till Christmas

Babysitting and choir practice dominated my time today. No time for writing or photography as spent my free time this afternoon practicing Brahm's German Requiem op. 45 for choir. However, I decided to snap a picture of a item which has been carefully saved for the past few years. Ages ago I earmarked it for a white elephant gift. Finally, it will see the light of day on the 17th at the church class's Christmas party. Can you guess what it is?
It's a toilet lid cover! This picture is of the picture on the underside of the lid. In other words, the part facing your, um, backside when making use of the toilet. I'll leave it up to you. Is Santa peeking or not?

I hope to get a good laugh out of it at the party if it isn't too old fashioned for my peers to understand.

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

18 Days till Christmas

Today was spent peacefully in the house. No excursions or unexpected surprises. Which means I had to hunt around the house for a good picture. Since I already heavily photographed the house for the last Christmas picture countdown, I had to be creative in said hunt. And this is my result.
Mom reads the advent storybook each night we can gather the family (we're reading Tabitha's Travels this year though we have all three books in the series). It's quite amusing to hear the different voices she uses for each character. The joke this year is the Jewish character which Dad pointed out sounded more Mexican than Middle Eastern. She wasn't too pleased with the accusation. I wonder why. At the end of the story, there's a section explaining how the story relates to a Biblical message. At this point, my little sister became bored tonight.
As you can see, she started playing with a pillow. Mom then reminded her that the last bit is the most important part of the evening. I don't think my sister quite heard Mom.

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

19 Days till Christmas/Birth of a Novel #5

I am of the firm opinion that loan companies wish to squeeze as much money as possible out of you through confusion and unclear information. Gah. Though, I will admit that CFNC is quite straightforward. I'm more frustrated with the dear old US Department of Education. First off, they got my graduation date wrong so we had to correct them and now it's still wrong just a different date. So I'm not 100% sure when my first payment is due. And, one of those two loans may be serviced through another site/company even though it's listed on a different servicer's website. I wasted my entire afternoon digging through old paperwork and online sites for answers. Is there a wall nearby I can bang my head on? It's already hurting.

The picture for today tries to capture the mood in this house. On the one hand we're eagerly looking forward to and planning for Christmas (hence the nativity) but on the other we're scrambling to prepare for the yard sale this Saturday (which is going to take place in around 40 degree weather *shivers*). In the background you can see Mom hunting around in the cabinets for cups and other items we don't use and could sell.
So, technically this is post five for the birth of a novel blog chain. However, I don't have that much to report for writing. I've spent it recovering from NaNo and seeing to everything I neglected during November. However, I did write something! And it should only be another few thousand words till novella #2 is over. Now, the big question is should I go ahead and start novella #3 since I have it planned out or should I save it until July when Camp NaNo rolls around and work on editing novellas 1 & 2 as well as other stories. I'm really leaning towards the latter option at the moment.

Until next time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

20 Days till Christmas

My adventures today consisted of unexpectedly having to cook supper and sorting shoe boxes at the local Operation Christmas Child center. The former resulted in a frankfurter casserole and the latter resulted with tired muscles and meeting a friend. Though it was only in passing, I managed to exchange words twice with an online friend I met through NarniaWeb last month. It was nice to see her, though I regretted not having more of an opportunity to talk. Our shifts just didn't sync like we originally thought they would.

On the line, I snagged the role of taper as soon as the team leader called for a volunteer. I've done it before and consider it more fun than sorting through the boxes and trying to cram everything back in.
So, I stood next to both the sorters and the carton/box packers. It was intriguing to watch, and sometimes help, them stuff 15 or more shoe boxes into one carton. I believe the record for the person next to me was 17 in one carton.
There was an unusual side effect to taping. First, I must attempt to describe the awful smell of this tape. It was stringent and icky, however, my stomach started grumbling. Don't ask me why or how, but I was hungry and merely became hungrier as the 4 hours of our shift progressed. That and thirsty. But my thirst could be explained by a deficit of water intake today. I downed a 10 oz bottle of water in the 10 minutes it took for us to drive home.

Of course, with all that on my plate, I didn't have time for adding more to my story. I will try again tomorrow. If I can fit it in between scouring my room for yard sale items.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

21 Days till Christmas

And today we decorated. The tree is now completely covered in ornaments and we still had some left over. Ornaments seem to be a popular gift among our relatives and so we've collected too many to hang over the years.
On the topic of writing, I did actually write on my novella #2 today. Yay for me! The MC is now cornered and trying to find a way to escape from the friend turned foe. I wonder how she'll escape because she'll have to in order to fly her way into the sequel.

Until next time!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

22 Days till Christmas

I rose at the insane hour of 6:15 this morning to accompany my dear little sister to her ballet recital. She performed very well, dancing without looking at the instructor, and her class was by far the best in her recital group. On the way out we stopped to admire the singing bears which appear every Christmas at this hall. I have fond memories of competing with them during high school choir caroling.
My little sister hasn't seen them in years and she was fascinated.
Once we arrived home, nap time became my first priority, but mother had other ideas. Around mid afternoon we dragged out the artificial tree and started testing the lights. Only half of the small lights worked, so we supplemented it with five extra light strings, one of which gave me a sharp electrical shock when my thumb found a broken light. I'd smashed the light years ago in a door jamb while at college. It, apparently, had been holding a grudge. Father most graciously helped mother and I as we lit the dark patches of the tree.
And we left it at that. The ornaments will be hung up tomorrow or whenever mother decides she's tired of boxes cluttering half the couch. So there was no need for the tree skirt just yet. Our dog, Sandy, decided to claim it. At first she merely lay on it, but then she pawed it into folds and circled to find just the right spot. Doesn't she look guilty?
Needless to say, not much writing got done today except for this post, however I will get back on track tomorrow. I always write something on Sundays.

Our soundtrack for the tree raising was Irish Christmas by Craig Duncan and the Smoky Mountain Band. I cranked up the volume on my laptop and it blasted the music for the whole house to hear. It carries memories of my grandparents' house as that was where I first heard it. Click here to sample this wonderful CD!

Until next time!

Friday, December 2, 2011

23 Days till Christmas

A Christmas goody for today!
Mother baked delicious Apple bread this afternoon. First she ground up the apples and mixed them with sugar
Then in went the flour and spices and she stirred them together into a batter.
Finally, she poured the batter into the pans to bake.
Don't they look delicious?
However, they are earmarked as Christmas presents for our neighbors and we won't get any. Alas. If you're interested in the recipe, click here.

(Ahem, mother prompted edit: She found the previous statement too pitiful, so she is currently cutting one of the loaves for us. And I got the biggest piece. How's that for the power of a blog post! :D And let me tell you, the bread is delicious! )

Until next time!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 Days till Christmas

And it begins! Most helpfully Mom decided to bring out the first decorations last night. Though, when she suggested it, I picked up my laptop and backed slowly out of the room. So my Mom and sister began decorating while I frantically raced to finish NaNo.

Today, I ventured out into the house camera in hand, but I didn't have to go far before I saw these hand made bird ornaments sitting on the piano. They await the Christmas tree and until then are enjoying the music. I captured this shot as Mom played an accompaniment to one of my sister's practice songs. A beginner four hand duet.

Mother crafted these bird ornaments from felt. The wings are decorated with thread and bead embroidery. She barely finished the ornaments on time to give some to the relatives for Christmas gifts. (If you're interested in making them as well, Gooseberry Patch Christmas 2010 magazine has the pattern and the instructions. Click here for the magazine!)

Until next time!

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