Friday, August 30, 2013

The Magic of Reading (for lack of a better title)

Reading Harry Potter through for the 6th time, as near as I can calculate. Still just as good as it was the first time through, six years ago. Extra special this time because my fiance is reading them all for the first time... so I feel like we're at Hogwarts together. :)

I find that reading this series makes me happier and also helps me hone my writing craft. JK Rowlings is such a master of characterization, plot, humor, and narrative drive that it helps me think and rethink how I do my own writing.

(Speaking of which, I reached 25,000 words on "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" today. For reference, the typical novel ranges between 75,000 and 100,000 words.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wedding stuff, check check check!

Wedding RSVP cards have arrived!!! We chose to go with postcards from Vistaprint - cheapest option by far. I did all the design work myself and I think it turned out very well... if I do say so myself. (Okay, a couple people now have thought that I was using a precreated design so I must be doing all right).

Then, Vistaprint had another sale, so we placed the order for the invitations themselves on Sunday night. They've been shipped so... I'm kind of super excited for Friday to come so I can see them!

We are really trying to minimize everything going in the envelope. The invites are single sheets (not folded) so combined with the postRSVPcard (that's what I'm gonna call it now) it'll be a nice efficient planet-friendly combo.

At first I didn't want to prestamp the postRSVPcards, but after doing research I learned that it's the most successful way to get responses. Apparently in today's day and age, people will not respond at all and still show up... unless you call them and track them down. Ouch. I'm afraid if anyone shows up without having mailed their response card, there won't be any food for them. So if you get one of those cards, friends, please mail them in!

Now comes the fun part of handwriting all the addresses! I've told the fiance he can manage the stamping, stuffing and licking, and I'll do the writing. We're both happy with this arrangement. Having been enlisted by my siblings to address their graduation envelopes, and having done most of the Christmas letter addressing myself this past year, I'm in pretty good shape!

Time to nail down the photographer, florist, program design, music and... oh right, finish scheduling the premarital counseling. Plus, you know, dress alterations and gifts for everyone... oh and speaking of gifts, we're going to be doing our registry very soon, which should be quite fun!

...did I forget anything?

Friday, August 23, 2013

For Relationships AND Writing

I'd heard of "For Women Only" and its companion "For Men Only" for years, but it wasn't until my fiance suggested them to me and loaned me his copy that I actually picked one up.

(I figured it was probably an ideal time.)

Now don't mistake my meaning. My fiance was not telling me I was doing things wrong and needed to read a correctional book. He was saying that he'd found "For Men Only" really useful and thought maybe "For Women Only" would be equally interesting and enlightening for me.

It was.

I've read a lot about relationships, character and temperament, and the differences between males and females. It's something that comes up a lot when you're seeking an alternative to normal dating in highschool and also...

...when you're a writer.

Anyhow, I didn't expect to learn a ton. And, well, "ton" would be an exaggeration, because I did have a really good foundation to build on. But this book built on that foundation and helped explain some things clearer than I'd heard them before. It also presented a couple of new concepts that I was happy to learn about.

Then, because I was curious to know what they were saying about women in the other book, I went and read "For Men Only." Well, skimmed it. I didn't feel as compelled to dwell on every section as devoutly. However I found it to also be really helpful, because it gave me some really good explanations for why women are different than men, and phrases and examples I could use to explain myself and my gender to the men in my life.

Or, you know, if I'm trying to write realistic characters, both of these books are invaluable resources of surveys and comments from real people on the issues that are most diversionary between the sexes.

I promptly recommended "For Women Only" to a good friend of mine who devoured it immediately and was, if anything, even more enthusiastic about it than me. The best thing is that both of these books are very small - I read/skimmed "For Men Only" in less than an hour, and only drug out "For Women Only" because I wanted to take the time to think about what I was reading. It was really hard not to rush and read the whole thing in one sitting!

Anyhow, I would pretty much recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the other gender, particularly if they are dating, engaged, married, or a writer.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Man, how I've missed tea.

"Missed tea?" you ask. "You haven't been drinking it????"

Well, not so much for the past six months. One of the things I've had to do to help control my migraines is to add some drops to everything I drink. I was on such a high dosage that anything less strong than cranberry juice or lemonade tasted awful. So I haven't even had plain water for half a year, it's been mixed with strong juices.

Thankfully I like juice. But I really missed tea. I allowed myself a few cups here and there (like at the Doctor Who Tea Party at CONvergence), but for the most part I stuck strictly to my regime.

Last week I got the news that I could drop down to less than one drop per ounce... which means that the flavor is barely detectable in water, much less in tea, so I can drink whatever I want now! Huzzah! I had a marvelous cuppa today, which was especially wonderful as my allergies have been miserable and nothing helps allergies quite like hot tea. I was also able to enjoy a cup of hot tea when I hung out with my aunt yesterday. Girl talk and tea - best thing ever.

Like most aspects of being sick, it teaches you to really appreciate the small things in life.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (How are we going to beat that for longest show title ever?)

Remember back when Buffy the Vampire-Slayer got a spin-off show called "Angel" that was different in tone but ended up being just as awesome?

Looks like we can be pretty hopeful about a similar situation in the case of "Once Upon a Time" and their spin-off show "Wonderland."

I've been refraining from blogging too heavily about the spin off, as there hasn't been a ton to talk about if you're not deep into Lewis Carroll lore (and I'm no expert there, I am only just learning to appreciate the source material in the first place). However recent developments have been whetting my interest in the show. Check out the full scoop over at LeakyNews.

Most exciting bit? Our first look at Naveen Andrew's "Jafar." For those of you who don't immediately recognize him, Andrews played season regular Sayid on LOST. He's a pretty diverse actor, as he also did a turn as the dancing and singing Bollywood version of Mr. Bingley in "Bride and Prejudice." Talented and good-looking, I have a feeling that my sharp criticism of the Hook fangirls is going to come back to haunt me if I start gushing about Jafar. Yikes! Not a sentence I ever expected to say!

Anyhow, I'm excited to see that poor neglected Cinderella will be featuring in the pilot episode, and it'll be fascinating to see how they work Grumpy in as well.

What are you most excited about?

Friday, August 16, 2013

So You Want to be a Productive Writer?

My friend and co-writer Matthew Bowman has a whole list of suggestions on how to achieve this end here.

Personally coffee shop writing is my favorite secret weapon. It forces me to focus on writing like nothing else. And I'm not the only one who thinks so, as a google search for "Why do Writers like writing in Coffee Shops" brings up a host of related articles.

William Landay says...
Nancy Warren says...
The AbsoluteWrite Forum Members say...
What Jack Hight says...
Annie Stamell says...

And one of my beloved authors, Gail Carriger, talks about the Etiquette of Cafe Squatting

(Despite the fact that I am taking to a break to write this blog post, I've achieved about 1500 words so far today and have yet another hour of writing time left).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wedding Planning - Timing and Guest Lists, God's got it all

I am so thankful that I have flexibility in my life to plan this wedding. Because let me tell you, I really wouldn't want to wait longer than 6 months to get married (I don't know how some of you do it!). Of course, I am 24 and my fiance is 27 I know that older brides and grooms are usually more ready and able to have a short courtship and engagement. We've already done our waiting!

Although, I'll be honest. With how everything is coming together it feels like we'd be completely ready for the wedding in November. But it'll be nice to have the extra holiday time for showers and such, and we're quite happy about our January 17th date. Our first date was January 17th, which also happens to be my parent's anniversary, so it's a special date for us. And it falls on a Friday, which was the day of the week we wanted anyhow, and every member of our bridal party and immediate family has told us they can make that date work.

And if we needed further confirmation... our first choice venue was open that day. We didn't know until we were in the process, but apparently it is VERY hard to get this location in the winter. God was working for us and we didn't even know it! It's a beautiful place with both the ceremony and reception taking place in the same building, which will be be awesome as no one will have to drive in a strange place on a dark snowy night to reach their dinner!

The big deal right now is figuring out just who those lucky navigation free people will be. Some parts of the guest list are so easy... others are hard. I was prepared for this, but still it's the only part of the process thus far that's caused me tears. A trusted adviser reminded me that God is the one choosing who is coming to my wedding, not me, and he'll give me peace about the decision that has his blessing. So if I'm uneasy about something, that's not what God wants!

Wise people are important to keep around during wedding planning. Parents are ideal, of course, but it's good to have other go-to advisers who aren't so emotionally wrapped up in everything too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Flu is not cool.

Flu in August? Not cool, body, not cool at all.

At first I thought it was just a bad cold, but by Thursday I was unable to get out of bed and doing anything other than sleeping or eating hurt like heck. Writing anything between the pain and medicinal fog has been impossible. So I sort of vanished for a week.

I'm still not back to normal, but figured I should let y'all know where I'd gotten to.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Internet in the Annex... would it have changed things?

So something I was mulling over the other night... how would "The Diary of Anne Frank" been different if Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter been around? I don't meant that irreverently (I have nothing but deep respect and sorrow for their story), but simply how would a situation like that play out with different technology.

I mean, other than the obvious... that that type of persecution genocide (in Western Europe, at least) would not have gone as unnoticed and unchecked as long as it did. (Huzzah for the community journalist generation, bringing awareness everywhere).

Think about it, though. Life in the Annex with internet. Would it have been forbidden? One wrong post somewhere and they would have been found out... right? But in today's world people in hiding manage to use the internet all the time. They're usually on the move, however. Would eight people, trapped in one small space, have decided it was worth the risk? Would they have submitted to a life without even scanning the news sites? (Or getting craft and cooking ideas on Pinterest...)

Would they have set up a computer with all sorts of security on it so they wouldn't have been tracked? (it's not hard to set up a new IP).

Would they have created false online identities? Would they have had to browse in pairs to make sure no data was entered that gave away their location and real identities as Jews?

Would the Nazi's have taken over Facebook as they entered a country and forced the company to reveal religious affiliation? Would Facebook (and similar sites) been banned in such countries for refusing to cooporate?

Would Anne have kept an anonymous blog? Would she have filled her time with tumblr and online shows and pouring over Pinterest?

Would they have used Miep's Amazon account to order stuff that would be shipped to Miep's house and later smuggled over?

Would the Internet have made life more bearable, or would it have betrayed them sooner?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thoughts on Peter Capaldi

If you thought the new doctor looked familiar, this is why...

Ironically it is the same episode that Karen Gillian made her first Who appearance on. Which reminds me, this is grand old Doctor Who tradition for finding the best actors. Both Martha and Amy were on the show before being cast as regular companions. And in a country as small as England, if you rule out everyone who has already been on the show, it shrinks the pool considerably.

Of course, Capaldi did have a fairly significant role in Doctor Who's sister show, Torchwood, being one of the main characters of Season 3. However that was far enough removed from the Doctor himself that I think it will be okay. Perhaps they'll find an explanation as well...? Anyhow, he was brilliant as Frobisher on that show.

I know there are naysayers out there. But that's nothing to worry about. Remember back when Matt Smith's casting was hated? Seems hilarious in retrospect, but people were really mad about it... (it's tradition with a new doctor for fierce loyalty to the old one to emerge).

I watched the live announcement and the moment I saw his face I thought "Oh good, they went with an older actor!" This is more in tune with Classic Who which they've been alluding too all year. It also makes a strong contrast between Smith and Capaldi, and allows them to expand on the grandfatherly vibe Eleven has been giving Clara (when he wasn't oddly flirting with her...).

I'm also very excited to see how he interacts with Alex Kingston's River Song. We have no guarentees that she's returning, but I think she's met more than one other Doctor when she meets Twelve in "Silence in the Library" and I get the sense that she and Capaldi would be a smashing pair.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

First Peek at "The Chronicles of the Ruahim"

Matthew Bowman wrote a short story that we passed out at the Minnesota Catholic Home Educator's Conference this spring. It was a big hit, so he wrote another one to tease the second book in the series - the one I'm currently hard at work on! It's pretty fun. He took a scene I wrote and told it from a different perspective, and you learn some very interesting things...

Anyhow, I just got the print format files and had to print them out and show you right away!

How can you get one? Regina Doman, Publisher and Editor (and Senior Author on Book #1) and Matthew Bowman (Editor and Head Series Writer) will be passing these out at the Catholic Marketing Network Tradeshow/Catholic Writers Conference. You can also read it if you are a member of the Fairy Tale Novel Forum, but you won't get the pretty hard copy unless you go out to the conference!

If you look closely at the back under "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" you can spot my name - or at least the one I'll be publishing under after I get married!!!

Caulking the Cracks

I am going to apologize to anyone right now who is waiting for a response from me for any reason, on anything. I'm doing well holding everything together, but I just know things are going to slip through cracks. Please do feel free to remind me if you're concerned I've forgotten something important! (Like your birthday... although Facebook helps with that!)

Business is kicking up. I have to hire another assistant since one of mine is leaving due to life changes. I'm going to miss her, but thankfully I'll still get to see lots of her since she is going to be one of my bridesmaids! Still, it'll take some doing to find a seamstress as skilled as her to take her place!

I'm also figuring out how to use Microsoft Excel and all of its functions. It's been a bit of a headache to set up but in the long run I think it will make financial managing much easier. You'd be surprised how many days my assistants are sewing while I'm stuck at the computer. Oh well, I get satisfaction from numbers that add up right and putting everything in the correct column.

Then I continue writing. I have a pretty regular weekly writing date with some friends, so that helps but I'm afraid it's not going to be enough to make the early 2014 deadline my editors are talking about. So I'll have to work more of that in. I did have a lovely time last Friday inputting all of the dates in a special Google calendar. Now I can see visually when everything happens in the plot!

And of course the Wedding. I'm excited about it and it is coming together well, but there are moments when I'm a little overwhelmed. I asked my fiance the other night if eloping was an option. He said our friends would get so mad, they'd spend the gift money on a bounty hunter instead to track us down. I laughed pretty hard at that one!

And tomorrow my future mother and sister-in-law are coming over so it's housecleaning time!!!