Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quest for Cuffs

With Clint's birthday approaching, I had decided to buy him a pair of handcuffs as a silly add-on gift.  I thought they might be handy for...his earthquake emergency kit.  Yeah.  Because if there's ever a natural disaster and someone tries to steal your food, you might need to restrain said-person with handcuffs.

So I went on Amazon and searched out furry cuffs (because even emergency kit food-thieves would appreciate soft fuzzy comfort in bright pink, right?).  But all of the furry cuffs got bad reviews.  A lot of people said they broke after only one time of use.  I was disappointed by this.  Even though this was just a novelty gift, I still wanted something with a little more quality than a toy you could buy from the 99 Cent Store.  I finally gave up on furry cuffs (sorry future food thief) and ordered a pair of simple, stainless steal cuffs that had over two hundred 4- and 5- star reviews.  I decided to have them shipped to my mother-in-law's house to avoid Clint being privy to his gift.  They were to arrive in a plain box, so I wasn't worried about her being in on my purchase. 

The day after I placed my order, Clint's mom called and asked if she could order something through our Amazon account.  We're Amazon Prime members, and she wanted the free shipping.  Clint told her "sure."  I didn't think anything of it.

Later, I dropped the kids off at her house, and she asked.  "So when are your handcuffs supposed to arrive?"

I think my mouth probably hit the floor.

Apparently when she went to place her order through our Amazon account, it showed her my most recent purchase.  I was quick to tell her that Clint needed them for our earthquake kit.  I'm sure the nodding head on her part was complete, utter belief. 

Later on that night, Clint went to check his e-mail when he burst into uncontrollable laughter.  When he finally was able to stop, he said, "Uh, honey...?"  He turned his laptop to face me, and there it was.  A giant picture of handcuffs with the bold print words: "You're item has been shipped!"

So yeah, I obviously didn't realize he received shipping notifications from Amazon.  And I officially need to work on my ninja skills when it comes to keeping gifts on the down-low.

On the plus side, the handcuffs arrived last week, and they are just perfect for our...earthquake kit. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Time for a long-overdue writing update!  This is going to make for some boring reading, but it helps to keep me motivated when I stop to talk about the process once in awhile. 

So here is the current word count for my Daughter of Time manuscript.  You know, I don't think I've ever revealed that title on my blog before.  I should mention that Daughter of Time isn't the name of the actual book; it's the name of the four-book my fantasy world where Book 1 actually gets published.  I do have a name for Book 1; I'm just not ready to announce it.  It's not anything special, it just feels like I'm jinxing things by saying it outloud (so to speak).  Stupid, I know.

I just realized that "D.O.T." is the acronym for Daughter of Time!  Or I could do it WoW-style and write it like this:  DoT.  Ooooh, I like that.  I'm totally going to use that.

Okay, so I spent hours yesterday adding a new chapter and smoothing out some of the stuff from previous chapters.  As of today, I have completed all of chapters 1 and 2, a small section of 3, and all of chapters 4, 5, and 6 (although 6 still needs some serious grooming over, and it's a little too long).  A typical young adult book is a minimum of 50,000 words, and I'm about half-way to that minimum.  At this point, it's looking less like scraps and pieces of a novel and starting to take on a real shape.  Yesterday I was so excited by my progress that I actually felt giddy.  And then I started thinking about that day in the future when my manuscript is finished, and realized I'm really freaked out about that.  At least while I'm writing it, my ultimate goal is simply this: Write a book.  I don't have to think any further than that.  And I can have all the hope I want about it, and there's nothing that can contradict that hope.  But once it's finished, I have to create a new goal:  Get it published.  That's the scary one that requires me to delve into completely foreign territory.  I did get a magazine article published before, but that was so much smaller of a feat, and that was a combination of good timing and sheer luck.  But I have NO idea how to get a novel published.  As an unknown writer, how do you possibly convince someone to read your work?  How do you get your manuscript to stand out when it's buried in a slush pile with hundreds--possibly thousands--of submissions from other hopeful writers? 

The worst is I have to face the possibility of failure.    

I guess if I was willing to self-publish, none of this would be an issue.  But I won't do self-publishing.  I want the thrill of holding that letter in my hand that offers me yay-amount of money for all rights to my story.  That's the fantasy.  And I want to see my book on a shelf--a real shelf--in a Barnes and Nobles somewhere.  Is that too much to ask?  I honestly don't care how much or how little money I make.  That's not the dream.  Seeing something I wrote sitting on a shelf is the dream.  I'd be willing to live in a hole if I could just see that dream come to fruition.   

Oh well, it's going to be a long time before I have to worry about any of this.  Right now my focus is simply to finish writing the book.  And with everything else on my plate, it could take another couple of years to get this baby banged out.

Nice, huh?  My DoT manuscript has it's own special flash drive--the drive slides out from the crystal heart.  Yeah, it's a little on the pretty side for a flash drive, but as far as I'm concerned, any object that happens to be carrying your hopes and dreams ought to be pretty.  The name of the drive is "Pixie Dust," because that's what it's going to take to get this damn thing published.  If my house was on fire, this would be one of the items I would grab before running out the door.

Oh come ON, the kids and pets were implied.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mines, Breweries, & Burning Pianos

I had intended to get on here several days ago to talk about our New Year’s Eve, but Matt and Alana gave me their cold (thanks guys) and it has been kicking my a#$ for four days straight. Two nights ago I actually broke down and took some NyQuil. It gave me the worst hangover I have ever experienced. I’m changing the slogan to "NyQuil. The night-time sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so- you-can-rest but feel like a zombie whose head is going to explode the next morning medicine.” I’m still all sniffly today (it’s so sexy), but the fuzziness in my brain has cleared enough for me to write at least a short, mediocre post.

So last weekend we visited Matt and Alana up in northern California. We left late Friday afternoon and drove for about six hours before stopping for the night. The whole stopping for a motel thing was a funny ordeal, because Shan had recently freaked us out with a creepy story about a wealthy man in the 1800’s who created a “Murder Hotel” (similar to the Winchester Mystery House, but with victims). Given the late hour and unfamiliar geography, every motel we stopped at from Clint’s viewpoint looked like a modern Murder Hotel, and he was like, “Nope, not this one. No on that one too. Oh, hell no.” After a dozen of these, I'm like, "Holy geez I don’t care where we stop, as long as I can take a shower,” and Clint starts reenacting horror movie scenes in which the hapless blond bimbo is butchered in the shower, to which I say, “Fine with me! As long as the water’s good and hot!” We eventually stopped at the Motel 6, which was gated, well-lit, and multi-storied, thus gleaning Clint’s approval (apparently having only one story immediately puts a motel into the ominously evil category, something you won’t find under typical Yelp reviews). In the end I got to take my heavenly, steamy, chainsaw-free shower, and we both lived happily ever after.

Great, I just spent a long paragraph discussing our journey to Motel 6, which sucks because I haven’t even dived into our official trip yet. Okay, the rest of this needs to move faster. Summary version, here we go:

Saturday morning we arrived to Matt and Alana’s house. They live on—oh damn—I want to give their street name, because it’s so funny. But that would be a huge violation of privacy, so we’ll just say it’s equivalent to living on Hillbilly Lane. Their yard is beyond awesome. They’re home is surrounded by trees and shrubs and nature, as in real nature (we saw three deers!), not stink bugs and tumbleweeds. Spellcheck is bickering at me because the plural for ‘deer’ isn’t supposed to have an ‘s’ on it, but I can’t stand it the other way, so I’m leaving it ‘deers’ (there it goes again).

Oh my goodness this summary version is NOT happening. You know what? Let’s just skip to some pictures. That seems safer than me writing.

Entrance to an old gold mine at the back of the Cosmic Cafe
Dining area within the mine (there were NO customers! Granted it was late, but how is this place not a local hangout?)

Clint and me in the mine
Remnants of an old brewery
The sign said "No Trespassing," which is like telling a two year-old "Don't touch that."
We stayed here in the Cary Hotel, a 157 year-old 'haunted' hotel that boasts "the second-oldest working elevator on this side of the Mississippi."  The kids and I rode the elevator every single have to slide your own caged-door shut, and it has no concept of a smooth ride.  Technically only two riders are allowed at a time, but we figured the weight between us three was about the same as two adults.  The room we stayed in was a suite, so it was like a quaint, old-fashioned little apartment complete with a kitchenette.  I never saw any haunts, but there were a lot of things that went bump in the night.  It didn't help that our room was right next to the archaic elevator.  Okay, this is a really long caption for one photo.  One more thing, we had to walk through this really creepy dark alley every night to get into our hotel.  And there was a place right across the street called "Hang Town," the historic site where people were actually hanged.  Oh, oh, one more thing! (last one, I swear), the hotel clerk behind the counter actually said "Checking in?" in a creepy Twilight Zone-type voice when we first arrived.  Okay: end caption.    
Elijah, Trin and me
Replica of the Sutter Sawmill at Coloma (gold-discovery site in California)
The kids checking out a well
Elijah trapped in the well. But not long enough. 
Relaxing around a bon fire at Matt and Alana's place, waiting for the countdown.  Matt and Clint chopped up an old piano to use as fodder for our fire--you can see the keys burning on the right-hand side. It was like a Shakespearean tragedy.  On the bright-side, Matt saved all of the piano's strings, which everyone dubbed the Hell Harp because the music it produced makes a perfect sound-track for the Murder Hotel. 
Clint and I
Thought I'd end with a picture that took the reader away from Hell Harps and Murder Hotels.
During the countdown, several shotguns in the area were fired (including Matt's), something I'm not used to in SoCal.  And a weird siren went off for a long time.  It sounded exactly like an air raid siren.  After awhile, we were jokingly wondering, "Should we be bunkering down or something?"  Clint thinks it must have been an antique fire truck siren. 
Overall, I enjoyed the enthusiasm of this particular New Year's Eve, and we had a great transition into 2013.