Monday, June 30, 2014

I wrote a book!

With ten minutes to spare! OH MY GOSH. (I'll write more later...right now I have to go collapse).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

#WIPMarathon Report #5 - POSTPONED

Let the record show that I am here, on my blog, ON TIME, to report for the month of June. Let the record also show that I have grounded myself from all blogging until Monday. My self-enforced deadline for finishing my MS is June 30th, so this is me for the next 48 hours, minus the facial hair and Adam's apple:

One way or another I will be back in two days, by 11:59 p.m, either to proclaim my happy news to the world (aka: my pitiful handful of followers), or to lament about my failure. But until then, sorry to those whose blog I'm neglecting to comment on right now...especially my fellow WIP Marathoners. Promise I'll catch up with your posts soon!

Okay, back to work.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Fancy Puddle--COMPLETE

Our pool is filling up with water right now. RIGHT NOW, as I type this blog entry. Check it out:

Oh my gosh you guys! We have a pool! I can NOT believe it. Granted it only has about a foot and a half of water right now, but I AM IN AWE. I'm not the kind of person who owns a pool. I'm the kind of person who has to duct-tape her broken shoe together in the middle of her shift. That's who I am. Not this grown-up person who has a pool.

I promise I'll get over this soon. 

Here was the pool earlier today, right after the plaster was finished:

Can you believe you use a garden hose to fill a pool? I don't know what I was expecting to use, but it cracks me up every time I walk outside, seeing that tiny hose guzzling away, taking on such a huge job...the little engine that could. Gary (our pool guy) says the pool will be full by tomorrow. Then we can treat it with its cocktail of necessary chemicals, and it will officially be ready for occupants on Saturday. Since our 'pool warming' party is on Saturday, we're cutting it a little close.

To sum up the whole installing a pool experience, I would say it's sheer bliss for the first two weeks when your contractors are doing all the work, but then it's pretty much hell when you're trying to pass inspection. I swear we barely made it. We failed our inspection on Tuesday, and Gary had to beg the supervisor to come yesterday to reevaluate our fence. We finally passed inspection yesterday, just in time for the crew to plaster today.  

I have to hand it to Gary. Our pool was originally promised by June 18th, and he delivered it today, on June 19th. One mere day late, despite all of the obstacles that got in the way...including the fact that our plaster crew flaked out on us today and Gary had to hire new ones at the last minute. Seriously, it's insane we have a completed pool tonight.   

We still have some work ahead of us (covered patio and rock-scape), but for now I just want to lay in my backyard and watch that little puddle grow.

P.S. I asked Clint what I should title this post, and he said "Rubba Dub Dub This is a Big Damn Tub." 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dirt, Wind, & Why I Don't Grocery Shop

My post titles are really going downhill.

June 30th is creeping closer and closer, and I have NOTHING WRITTEN. It turns out that re-doing your backyard is about as counterproductive to writing a novel as you can get. I mean, yes, it's the contractors who are installing the patio and the pool, but we're on our own when it comes to building a fence that will actually pass inspection, and figuring out some sort of landscaping (lest we have a big watery hole in the middle of dirt, which could be fun, but not quite what we're going for). So this entire week, which I had pictured as me chilling out at Starbucks with my laptop, has instead been me elbow deep in dirt. Soooo much dirt. It's in my ears and in my hair and up my nose just about every orifice that grains of sand can wiggle their way into. Who knew that digging a few holes and planting a few rose bushes and building a few trenches would be so...dirty?

It's the desert. Oh my gosh you guys there is SO MUCH DIRT. 

And do you have any idea what it's like trying to hang up panels for a fence when the wind is slamming into you like a semi-truck? WHY IS IT SO DAMN WINDY? 

So now that I've talked y'all into purchasing real estate in the High Desert....

But seriously, for all the complaining I'm doing, Clint has been doing ten times the amount of work as me. The dude is a working machine. He has been living/breathing/sleeping/eating backyard fence right now. 

Well, minus the eating.

But I am happy to say that things are progressing nicely. Which is good, because we scheduled our "Pool Warming Party" for the 21st. This one's for family only, since our backyard won't be finished and the pool and spa will be freezing (we can't run the heaters for three weeks because the plaster needs to cure--though water is just fine). Here's the little invite I made using PowerPoint:

It includes "a dash of Lucas's birthday" because my little nephew Lucas is turning five, and he so badly wanted to have a birthday pool party at our house. We originally told Moo (my sister in-law) that we wouldn't be able to, because the pool wouldn't be ready in time. So she made plans to have a small birthday gathering for him at an ice-cream parlor down the hill instead. Well lo and behold we discovered the pool would be ready in time (though barely), so now Lucas is celebrating his birthday twice. The ice-cream party will be for presents and sweets, but our house will be for splashing around and all-around fun. Moo ordered these cupcakes for our pool party:

Cute cupcakes makes up for frigid water and an incomplete backyard, right? (Say "right").

On the writing frontier, I met up with my good friend, Brandon, for a critique session. I've been friends with his family for years (eight to be exact), especially his dad who actually appears in past blog posts as Mr. A.  But Brandon and I bonded with each other at the beginning of this school year when he started subbing regularly at the Ranch. He just started writing a SciFi book, so over summer we decided to meet up once a week to critique each other's work.  Our first meeting was on Thursday, but we went ahead and swapped chapters the day before so we would be prepared. Overall, considering we're making this up as we go, our first CP session was pretty awesome.  Who knows? Maybe we'll be able to find one or two other writers in our area to join us in the future. Though I wouldn't want more than four, I think. I love how much you can get done with a smaller group. 

By the way, Brandon texted me a few days before our meeting with "The real question is do we meet noonish for beer or in the morning for coffee? You know my vote." So of course we did beer. Which is totally breaking Ernest Hemingway's profound advice, "Write drunk, edit sober." But I think CPing over beer is brilliant. Looser tongues and more accepting of critique.

Oh, I almost forgot to say that today is my and Clint's anniversary. Sixteen years. And it happens to fall on Friday the 13th, AND a full moon. I really, really wish we liked scary movies so we could have commemorated this probably-never-to-happen-again-in-our-lifetime event with a horror-flick marathon (what better way to celebrate your marriage than with blood and gore?). Sadly, we both hate those kinds of movies, so that wasn't going to happen. Ultimately Clint had to work today, but we were able to go to dinner tonight at our favorite sushi restaurant. He gave me perfume, a sapphire necklace, and an orange rose (inside story). We never do anniversary gifts, so now I look like a complete chump. But I did love the gifts. It was a pretty sweet surprise considering I wasn't expecting anything.

I went grocery shopping today. This is only noteworthy because I don't go grocery shopping--unless Clint's out of town for three months and we will literally starve if I don't. Anyway, Elijah kept trying to sneak a watermelon in the basket, which was funny because of all the tiny treats you can try to sneak into a cart, he chooses a watermelon. Still, I have to say I was impressed. Even though I made him put the watermelon back (which he had named "Melon-ie") a thousand times, every time I turned around for a fraction of a second, that damn watermelon was back in the basket. I couldn't figure out how he was doing it. Like, does he have some sort of large-fruit transportation device hidden away in his pockets? Later, when we were unloading our groceries--sans Melonie--somehow a giant jar of pickles dropped and exploded on the ground. By the time the kids and I got into the house, we were all bleeding from various spots (flip-flops don't provide much armor against projectile glass). At this point Trin says, "You know Mom, when we go grocery shopping with Dad, we don't usually end up bleeding."

See, this is why I don't grocery shop.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer so Far: Writing, Pool, & Aqua Cycles

I just posted yesterday, but I don't think lamenting about my chicken whose wing got ripped off counts as a real post. Plus I really want to do a writing update. Okay, and a pool update.

WARNING: The below prattling falls into the category of boring stuff that's really only interesting to me, so I hereby apologize in advance.

Writing update: I have only two more chapters (maybe 3) until my book is finished! But what I'm even more excited about is the fact that Clint sat down with me for three or four hours and helped me map out all of book 2, and most of book 3. I even have the conflict for book 4 now, I just don't have that one fleshed out like I do the other two. I am thrilled with books 2 and 3! Particularly #2. It has a fun story concept, but also starts to play around with the bigger conflict...the one that carries through until the end of the series. The four sisters really have to start working together toward the end of book 2, segwaying into the beginning of book 3, where they learn the full truth of who (or what) they are.

Look at me, talking about it like it's already written.

What's crazy is I would have never sat down and mapped out the series the way I did if Clint hadn't forgotten his wallet. He was on his way to work the other night, and had driven for an hour when he stopped for gas. It was there he realized he had accidentally left his wallet at home. There was no way he could continue on without it (no money for meals, no way of checking in his motel room, etc,) so I told him I would meet him halfway to bring it to him. He said don't worry about it. He doesn't really trust my crappy night vision, but mainly he was discouraged at the idea of having to repeat that hour of driving. So he decided to call in sick. though he was feeling a little guilty about the decision. I told him, "Don't stress, you never forget your wallet. This happened for a reason." Well he ended up coming home and was SO in the mood to talk about my series. We started what began as the world's worst brainstorming session, with him tossing out ideas and me rolling my eyes at the outrageous stupidity of them. But little by little, the ideas started getting better, and I started spinning off his suggestions with ones of my own, and the "What if's" grew to amazing proportions, and before we knew it, we had a kick-ass sequel. Okay, it still has a lot of holes, but it's a lot more than I had to work with for my first book. I told Clint that someday, when I get around to writing and publishing this thing, I'm going to dedicate it to his MIA wallet.

For the record I don't think that brainstorming my series was the "reason" for him forgetting his wallet--I'm pretty sure the universe doesn't really care that I'm trying to write a novel. But it was awfully convenient.

I have a title for the book now too! I disclosed the new title publicly to two tweeps, but deleted those tweets when my soon-to-be editor @boundiali recommended I not broadcast it to the world until Cover Reveal Day. The new title is a double entendre, but the reader won't realize that until the beginning of book 3.

Pool UpdateOkay, so the pool! The tile is finished. Next week they're pouring the patio, and then once our fence is finished, they'll do the plaster. They pretty much hold your pool hostage until your fence has passed inspection. At this point, the estimated date of completion is June 18th. Here's what it looks like today:

Brickwork on spa

Close-up of tile (colors are more faded when dry)

One tile catastrophe after another resulted in Clint and I making these tiles ourselves. He cut the burnt sienna tiles into the four corner pieces that you see above, and we pieced together the decorative centers using stock tiles and sample glass tiles ripped straight off of the board of our tile store (they let us rip off their samples because they were making up for the fact that they royally screwed us over on our original order--long story). We hot-glued our arrangements onto 6'x6' square cut-outs of screen (as in, we literally tore down our dining room window screen and cut it into pieces for this emergency project), and voila! Twenty-eight completely custom accent tiles, ready for installation.  The little yellow and white glass tile on the bottom right even has starfish in it. Super cute. We saved $580 by doing the accent tiles ourselves, but I think that might be offset by the spike in blood pressure that comes with being jolted awake in the morning and told that you only have a couple of hours to do an arts-and-craft-project from hell.

Non-writing- and non-pool-related news ('cause sometimes I actually have a life beyond those things. Um...sometimes): I took the kids up to Shan's house yesterday and spent the day relaxing at Lake Gregory--er--Lake Pinecone. It was a gorgeous day. My parents drove up too, along with our friend Sarah. Shan and Jer made everyone an awesome lunch and then we walked down to the lake. My favorite part of the day was riding the aqua cycles with my mom. If you've never seen one before, these are the ones at Lake Pinecone:

And here's what they do:

They look all cute and whimsical, but these things are a workout. It costs $5 for a half hour, and I was laughing because when someone asked the worker "Will you holler at us when our time is up?" she said something like, "No, we don't keep track, but you'll know when your thirty minutes are up because you'll be dying." I wish I could have captured a picture of me and my mom riding ours, but there's nowhere to keep a cell phone safe once you're out on the lake, especially given that on the other side of the lake were these giant waterfall-sprayer things. My mom and I, who turned out to be crummy aqua cycle drivers, ended up trapping ourselves in one of the sprayers and getting drenched.

Have I ever mentioned that Shannon's house is a mere ten minute walk from all this awesomeness? about living the life.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My One-Winged Chicken

Remember that post I wrote, Why You Don't Want to Be a Bird in my House?'s a new one to add to that list. Our new cloister (is that what you call them?) of baby hens was attacked by...something. I never saw the culprit. But of the five chicks, one of them completely disappeared, and another one lost her entire wing. It's just...gone. Nothing left except for a nasty groove where the wing used to be. It's pretty gut-wrenching to look at.

The good news is the chick is presently recovering in our indoor medic center (aka: cardboard box on dining room table), and is doing surprisingly well. I didn't know if she would make it, because she kept falling over on the first day and was taking a lot of naps. But today--on day 4--she's eating like a pig, chirping louder than should be possible, and the wound is almost completely scabbed over.

I'm going to keep her inside for one more day, and then put her back with her siblings. I hope she is able to adjust to life without her wing. It's not just the flying thing, but chickens use their wings for balance. It will be a huge struggle for her to even run forward on the ground without the benefit of flapping her wings, and I don't know how she will be able to roost with the other hens at night beneath the eaves of their chicken coop. When we first discovered her injury, a part of me contemplated putting her out of her misery. But I couldn't. She was still chirping and seemed to want to live. Big or small, I think every creature has the right to choose life, and to fight for that choice.

Oh, we're calling her Maleficent, by the way. You'll get the appropriateness of that name once you've seen the movie.

I had more profound things to write about tonight, but somehow I blabbed about my one-winged chicken instead. Ooh, I still have time to turn this into some meaningful metaphor about life or struggles or something, or impart some universal lesson. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmmm. *scratches head*

"Don't lose appendages. It sucks."