Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I have officially done it.

I've lost my mind.  Wait, no, that's not it.  I've finished the first draft of my NaNo Novel:  Through a Mirror, Darkly.  This is the first long work I've actually come up with an ending for and made happen.  I have lots of open ended pieces I need to close out, but this is the first novel-length thing I've FINISHED.

That was my real goal during NaNoWriMo 2011:  finish what you start.

So I've done just that, and I know it needs crazy amounts of revision, and that's okay.  Really!  I don't mind!  I need to go back through it, make sure I'm consistent throughout with details and dates and all that, and fix the errors...  I need to decide what my themes are, since I seem to have a couple, and see if I can play that up.  I need to let it sit on a shelf and collect dust once I'm done with the minor edits.  I might even re-write it, but I'm not sure about THAT one yet.  I do like most of it.  A rewrite is kind of a drastic thing, but I do need to hack it to bits with a machete.  And I can't do that while it's so near and dear to my heart.  Oh, pretty little first novel draft of mine....  *Swoon!*

Anyway, so off we send National Novel Writing Month.  In comes personal editing month.  Back to my fantasy novel month, and with my success (small as it may be to some), I bring my faux wisdom:

  • Small steps, but don't get behind.  1-3,000 words every day.  Do more on the days you don't work the "real job".
  • Have a PLAN.  Figure out where this thing is going, and take it there.  Ride the waves as they come, sure, but you steer that boat your own self!  
  • Make yourself notes!  Character sketches, plot outlines, ideas for later, write them down in a separate file.
  • Speaking of files, SAVE SAVE SAVE!  And not just in one place.  Send yourself email, save on your own private blog, something.  But save!!!  The worst thing is losing all your hard work!  Don't let it happen!
  • Keep at it.  If you are having a not-writing day, set a timer for 15 minutes and do nothing else for a little while.  It's just like anything else (yoga!), once you get moving, you'll probably want to keep moving.  Work in spurts if you have to, but keep at it.
  • Take breaks!  Don't just work until your eyes bleed or you're delirious.  That doesn't make for good writing.  Take a break, take a walk, read a book, play a game, hang out with your kids, your spouse, your dog.  You'll come back to it with a new perspective, even if you don't realize it.
  • If you are on a roll, make yourself notes so you can come back and fill in blanks later.  If you can't remember what color hair your love interest has, don't stop and look.  You'll get distracted.  Type "so and so's (hair color?) locks waved in the wind," and keep going.  Fill it in later when you are editing.
  • And finally, write first, edit later.  You have permission to re-read, but leave it alone!  Edit later.  If you can't stand to look at something, change the font to white, so it is still there if you decide to look at it again.
Okay, there I go pretending I know what I'm talking about again.  But I've just come off of it.  I do know.  I'm in your shoes.  *nod*

So, let's get back to it, NaNo or no NaNo!  I'll be starting up the flash fiction challenges again on Friday!  I'll give us all a day off to decompress first.  :)

And just for fun, my final draft Word Cloud, from Tagxedo!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Victory Fudge!!!

I won, I won, I won I won I won!!!  (Imagine a little stupid looking dance, from the girl who can't dance without choreography and lots of practice)

This is a little late, as I officially won super late on Thanksgiving.  Ok, fine, it was officially the day AFTER Thanksgiving, but ONLY if you are one of those crazy people that counts "days" by the time of day.  I hadn't gone to bed yet, so in my (clearly not normal) brain, it was still Thanksgiving.  Even though NaNo didn't let me verify until the next morning.

ANYWAY!  YAY MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!    (pause for applause and overall cheering)

And thus, I make victory fudge. I thought I'd share the super easy recipe with you! :) Also, the story to go with the fudge recipe:

Years ago, when I was cashiering at Super Target in Nebraska, a little old lady came through my line with just a few things. "What are you making?" I asked as I checked her out.

"Oh, I'm making my famous double layer fudge," she replied with a smile. "I make this to add to Christmas gifts every year."

"That sounds nice! I can never get fudge to turn out for me, what's your secret?"

"This isn't a true fudge," she admitted, lowering her voice. "It's really easy, would you like the recipe?"

"Oh! Yes, if you don't mind!" I smiled widely at her, and she told me how she makes it.

This is the fudge I make now, every year, and every year I think of the sweet old lady, whose name I never knew, who gave the recipe to me. ♥

And now, the recipe:  (If you need to convert for your area, this site is helpful: )

Double Layer Fudge

12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (one regular sized bag)
12oz milk chocolate chips (one regular sized bag)
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
4sTablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

(optional add ins: 1t of ONE hazelnut extract, almond extract, orange extract, or my favorite: peppermint extract, OR 1/2c finely chopped nuts)

Put semisweet chips in microwave-safe bowl, or double boiler. Add 1/2 can milk, 2T whipping cream, and 1t vanilla. If adding extras, put 1/2 extract or 1/4c almonds in. Melt in double boiler, or microwave 30s to 1min.

DO NOT melt until totally melted to the eye. You want this to melt as you stir it so you don't burn the chocolate. It will not look done. Trust me, stir. If it still has clumps of chocolate chips, heat again but VERY little.

Pour semi-sweet mixture into greased 13x9" pan.

Mix milk chocolate, remaining extracts, remaining milk, and remaining whipping cream (remaining nuts if using). Melt in the same way you melted the semi-sweet batch. Pour over the top of the semisweet mixture and carefully spread around.

Chill for a couple minutes, then cut into desired sizes squares, and allow to cool fully before eating.


I move mine to the freezer after cutting, and when good and cold, I put individual (1") squares into those little white cupcake-looking wrappers. I stack them in gift tins and ship them or store in freezer until I can give them away, if they're in-person gifts.

Just don't store peppermint with plain, or the plain will taste minty too! This is a little tip I learned after making that mistake once!

This stuff is so easy to make, I made a triple batch while waiting for my coffee to brew this morning. Really. Even if you don't cook, you can make this. Just need a good spoon or scraper, a bowl to pop in a microwave, and some sort of pan to let it cool in. Go on, defy me! Make it round! Square! Heart Shaped! I don't care. But make it. *nod*

Enjoy!!! And if you have not yet EARNED victory fudge, this is still yummy. Though, admittedly less victorious tasting. :P

Friday, November 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo Peeps! Five day warning!!

Five days left, are you going to make it?  Or at least meet your personal goals, if they are lower than the official?  Or meet your goals if they were higher?

I cranked out an impressive amount of words yesterday and passed 51k, but I'm aiming for 60.  So my bar is purple, but I press on!  I'll be alright with my story if I hit the ending before 60k, but that's where I assume it will stop, now that I'm in the midst of it.  I was hoping for 75k initially, but that is something of a long book for the young adult audience, who I'm aiming to write for.

Anyway, I worked out some issues, and wrote a lot last night before bed, and managed to get the validator on the NaNo site to say YES, I did pass 50k.  This is the first year I've done this early.  I barely made it in 2009, and was horrified when the word counter showed I was low.  I had to speed sprint at the end to get there.  And I totally flaked out in 2010.  So I'm rather pleased.  Now I just need to finish it and get a little editing work done.

I left it thus:  The main confrontation just went down and MC is standing there, victorious...  but she has to pick up the pieces and try and stitch her life back together.  I could say more, but I don't want to ruin any surprises for those that might read it later.

So I make coffee, and keep going!  :)

Come on guys, you can do it!  Word sprints until work today!  :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether you spend it with friends, family, all by your lonesome, with a turkey, with tofurkey, chickpea cutlets, or a turduckenbacon monstrosity, may you have a happy day.

And if you're not the one in charge of cooking and there is time, get a little writing in maybe!  We're hanging out at home with coffee, listening to the boy play MY Zelda game that my lovely husband bought for ME, and I'm not watching it because he's spent more time on it than I have and I want to see it for the first time when I play it (after NaNo!  I won't play much until I've won!).  The girl is reading by her brother and we're hanging back here listening to music.  My geeky husband is trying to troubleshoot my phone that locked up once in the last week, because that's one time too many, LOL.

Anyway!  I'm going to try and get a couple word sprints in today and see if I can knock out 2-3k words before we need to go to our friends' house this afternoon.  We're spending our holiday with friends and family together.  Our friends Jim & Jess are hosting, Jim's family will be there, and my husband's family too.  I think there are a couple others joining too, but I'm not sure which others, but it is always fun!  :)  Potluck style Thanksgiving.  Not a bad thing.

So, if you have time and won't offend anyone (that part is important!), write for a while!  And be thankful for every word you get in (seewhatididthere?)  ~  If you need to put the computer away and hang out with family or friends, that's fine too!  Just remember to make up for it tomorrow in your word count if you didn't get yourself ahead for the day already.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Harris clan, and I hope you have a lovely day!  (Pic is from Thanksgiving a few years ago, when my kids still fit at this cute table!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Creeping up on 40,000

One more 15 minute sprint and I'm at 40,000 words.  Really, I only have 300 words to go and I'm there, but I want to pass it up a bit.

My random writing thought of the day is about plot devices, since I was thinking about it earlier, I needed to share it here!  Plots are not bad, and things needing to happen in plots are obvious.  But convenient plot devices need to die in a fire.

Convenient plot devices are not convenient. They're cheating. Work for it, people! :P

Your MC (main character) is in a tight spot. Sure, we get it. But make them work to get out. Close calls. Maybe hurt a little bit. Don't just make some random person you've never heard of before (or even thought of before...) swoop in and save the day with his magic machine gun of bubble gum and unicorns.

I mean, if we're talking this is your way to introduce another character, that's fine, but if you're doing it so your character doesn't have to work for it, that's not cool!

So, before you jump into letting something easy come along and fix all your problems for you, think about your character.  Will he/she learn anything from this?  No.  He/she needs to fight for it.  Work to get out of that spot you wrote him or her into.  If you don't let them work for it, how do they learn?

The occasional help from strangers is fine, but the big things need to be done with their own power, and it's for their own good!

It's ok, they're growing up.  *sniff*  They need to grow up to be "real".  Let them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My (creepy?) thought of the day: People Watching!

Writers, you know who you are... I know you do this, and if you don't, you really really should.  

 I like to go sit and hang out places sometimes just to watch people and take notes on human interactions, etc.  

 I pay attention at work too, and have noticed people truly ignore the waitstaff, or those cleaning around them. They don't exist, and conversations continue on as though nobody is there at all. I overhear some fun snatches of conversation sometimes.

I like to think this correlates over to stories involving actual servants, pretty solidly. They knew a lot, and overheard a lot, because the people who they worked for felt they were SO far beneath THEM, they weren't there at all.

There are exceptions now, just like there would be then, too, of course. Some tables fall silent as you pass.

If you DO people-watch, but don't write any of it down, start taking notes! You'll be surprised how much you can use later!

  • The woman waiting for someone to arrive in the restaurant.
  • The man waiting alone for his date to return from the bathroom, sitting awkwardly.
  • The kid with a notebook who is clearly people watching or writing his own story, but puts it away when his friends get there, and his whole demeanor changes with them...
  • The very thin woman eating alone, making herself chew and swallow each bite, as though it is its own battle in the great war.
  • The girl in awesome bohemian-looking clothing. Walking hand in hand with a goth guy.
  • The waitress who runs, jumps up and hugs her boyfriend/husband when he arrives with flowers, just because. 

Really, each little thing can create is own scene or story. It's good to have them to fall back on when you get stuck in your bigger work! :) Or if you need inspiration to start something new.

Sometimes I take it beyond that and make it a little game.  What happens next?  Why?  And then I watch how it actually plays out and take notes on that too.  Human beings are fascinating, and we definitely don't always react the way one might think!  It's good to take notes, on everything, (even half formed ideas you have while half asleep!) because you never know when you're going to need them!

SO!  Keep a notebook with you at all times!  Use a note application in your phone!  Text yourself if you have to.  If you work as a cashier of any kind, pull up receipt paper when it's quiet and scrawl it down really fast so you don't forget.  But for the love of all that is holy, TAKE NOTES!!! 

That is all.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 word cloud, at 32.5k words.

This site has been floating around on my NaNo Facebook group, and I had a little fun playing with it to create myself a lovely cloud.  :)  Thought I'd share, if you have any interest in playing with it yourself.  Put in my manuscript so far and it created this lovely cloud for me.  I made it rectangular first, then decided the mirror in my story is round, so round would be better.  Redid the shape, saved again, and I've got two versions of the same cloud.  Will be interesting to see the finished cloud, when I'm all done! We'll have to compare then.  :)

Anyway, I give you my word clouds so far.  Can you tell my MC is Emily and her alter-ego is Emmy?  :)

You can click on them to see the original pic if you can't read it very well.  :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

And I'm over the hump.

I ran over 25k this morning, and am going strong!  I just hit and passed a very interesting moment in my book, and think I'll share the last two (short) chapters with you, just because!  :)  First, the synopsis for my book, so you have a little reference:

Emily is a girl with an unhealthy relationship with the girl in her mirror, and just about everyone else. The mirror girl is the only one who understands, who listens, who she can tell anything.
Her parents are always fighting, dad loses a job, and the boy she likes is "just a friend". No friends other than him, and she is terrified to tell him how she feels, for fear of losing him.
Just when everything in Emily's life is starting to get better at last (her dad gets a new job, and the boy she likes kisses her at last), the girl in the mirror starts talking back. Needs her help. Pulls her through to the other side.
Once Emmy, the mirror girl, is done using her, she takes Emily's place on her side of the mirror, and leaves her to live in her place.
Emily has to deal with all the consequences of Emmy's actions, find her way home, and find a way to set things right.
In Which a Collision is Narrowly Averted

Emily, Dan, and Emmy walked almost on top of one another through the first hallway, and made a right turn hastily, and Emily nearly ran into a guard. His eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth to say something, but she cut him off when the other two were paralyzed with fear. “Watch where you're going, will you? You nearly took my head off!”

The man was older, and he looked over each of their faces slowly before he answered. “My apologies. Where are you headed, Miss...” He studied Emily's badge, “Barton?” He locked eyes with her and she made herself taller.

“We were heading back to the lab after a quick break. Really, we must be going,” she tried to sidestep and keep walking past him, but he sidestepped right with her and remained directly in her path.

“What's the hurry? Late for school?” The man raised his eyebrow at her and smirked.

“Excuse me!? I may be young, Mr,” she paused and looked hard at his name badge as well, “Parrish, but that just makes my Master's Degree in nanotechnology all the more impressive. Would you like to see my diploma, or are you going to allow me to return to my desk, sir? Or shall I call down to the desk and speak to your supervisor about the harassment we received today?” She crossed her arms and stared him down.

Mr. Parrish took a step back, cowed, and muttered, “I'm sorry ma'am. I'll let you get back to it,” and he let the three of them walk past him.

Emily nodded in triumph, “Thank you,” and the three teens swept past him with an air of importance. As the stepped down the hall, she heard the guard behind her.

“Don't get in that one's way,” he was saying to another guard, in a voice he thought was quiet, “She'll have you for dinner.” Emily didn't turn to see the other guard's reaction, but did hear the two of them set off down the hall behind her, in the opposite direction.

“That was close,” hissed Emmy.

“No kidding,” breathed Dan. “You sure are quick thinking, there, Emily. Good thing she's the one with the badge, eh Emmy?”

Emmy nodded grudgingly, then admitted, “You were pretty smooth,” as they rounded the next corner and stepped toward the locked door of the storage room.

Emily smiled at them and nodded to Dan once she was sure they were alone. He pulled his locksmith tools from his back pocket and set to work. The storage room lock was about as powerful as the one on the door leading from the stairwell, so it didn't take overly long to pick, but was not as fast as the one outside.

The click of the door opening put a wide grin on Emmy's face, and the three of them stepped into the dark room quickly, shutting the door behind them. Emmy flicked on a light, and their eyes widened as they looked around at the size of the room.

Emily had assumed the room was going to be a typical small room or large closet, tall metal shelves filled with boxes, maybe some files, but generally pretty boring and simple. The room she'd just walked into was long, bent at the end, like an L shape, and was filled with interesting little gadgets.

Some of them were making noise or flashing colors, which surprised her. The only things at her house that did things like that were meant for small kids. They were only around for when Emily or her mother babysat at the house. And they gave everyone bigger than 10 a headache, so they came out as little as was necessary.

She stepped toward a tall shelf, feeling somewhat hypnotized by the round glass-like object sitting there. The middle was smoke-like, but it swirled and changed colors without any outside interaction. “What's this do?” she asked Emmy, reaching out to touch it.

Emmy stepped forward and hit her hand away, hard. “I don't know what it is, but I know that's not why we're here. We need to find a suitable hiding spot to put this in, later, so it can be found.” She stepped to the end of this hall and turned left, down the end of the L, and pointed to a shelf that sat empty in one place. “That is where I got this from. Help me find a different place to put it back. We need to try and not move things too much, because the Coaties who use this room to store their experiments all seem to have amazing memories, and they'll notice if things are shifted too much.”

“What do you propose we do, then?” Dan asked, eyes wandering. He was trying to not look impressed, but Emily could see his wandering eyes settle on a small silver object, and he took a casual step toward it.

“Hands to yourself, Dan,” She scolded, eyebrow raised. “He raises a valid point, though. If we can't move anything, and they know where everything is already, how are we supposed to find a hiding place for it in here that they'll figure out eventually?”

“We find something wide, but small, maybe, and tuck the PA behind it.”

“PA?” Emily's face grew weary.

“Portal Activator,” Emmy sighed as though it should have been obvious. “Can you just help me look for something small but big?” She didn't hear how ridiculous that statement was, and Emily decided to keep the idea to herself.

It only took a minute to find the right place. Emily pointed at something that reminded her of a silver flat screen tv, “There! It's big, but skinny, and the Activator should fit behind it nicely.” She smiled widely at her discovery.

“That will do,” Emmy nodded, then turned to Dan as though Emily was not even there. “Are you ready to get home?”

“Yeah, much as I like hanging out with myself and all,” he grinned.

“Alright, then. Need to find that blank wall spot, “she wandered around the corner again and paused at a space between the bookshelves. “This will do nicely,” Emmy smiled at Dan, and got out the activator. She mumbled to herself a bit, and Emily caught a blip of a number, “35.436...” as Emmy turned a dial. She pulled at another one, mumbling under her breath, and turned yet another dial to set it all in order.

The first switch pulled down flicked the machine on and Emily could hear its workings whirring as it tried to turn on and warm up. The second switch came a moment later and a round opening formed in the area on the wall where they'd stood staring stupidly.

The opening shimmered and wiggled at first, like the portals always did, and they peered through to the other side of the same wall in Dan's universe. The room was an office there too, but its occupant was away at the moment. “Better hurry before they come back!” He looked around and suddenly realized, “I left my bag in the stairwell.”

“Oh, crap, do you need it? I can go back out there and get it for you,” offered Emily.

“No, it's just a bag, and I have my tools. That's the important part I wouldn't want to lose. I don't have any of my school books or homework in there or anything. That stuff is on my bed,” he thought for a moment. “Yeah, I have everything I need. I'll just tell my mom I lost the bag or someone took it, and she'll get me a new one.”

“Lucky. If I lost mine, my mother would tell me to suck it up and I can have a new one next year!” Emily laughed and the other two joined her, then the room went uncomfortably quiet.
“I guess this is it,” Dan smiled at them. “Was nice seeing my girlie selves, I guess, and you guys have a good life. Don't get caught, Emmy,” he smiled at her.

Emmy smiled back, “Oh, don't you worry about me. I have my ways out of things.” She winked, and grabbed his arm as he stepped toward the portal. “Test it first, be sure it's solid. Toss something through.”

Dan took his shoe off and tossed it through the opening, and it landed on the floor in the office with a little tumble. “Looks solid enough to me!” he grinned. “Later!” He paused and turned back, “No, not later, I guess. Bye!” He jumped through the opening and pulled his shoe back on, tossed the white coat back through the opening with yet another smile. “Don't need this anymore!' And he disappeared from view.

The girls heard the door click open, then shut again, and Emmy pressed a button on the Activator to turn it off again. She pulled her white coat off and tossed it on the floor next to Dan's coat, and leaned over while Emily took her own coat off too. She heard Emmy say, “Your turn,” and she smiled to herself, glad to almost be rid of this girl who was turning out to be less and less like she thought she could ever be.

Emily leaned over to toss the coat onto the pile on the floor, and when she turned back around to get ready to go through her own portal, something hit her square in the face, hard, and she fell back into the metal shelf behind her. She heard things toppling on those shelves, and all went quiet.

In Which Emmy Does the Unthinkable

When Emily was able to open her eyes once more, her head buzzed loudly and her eyes wouldn't focus quite right. She felt warmth on her neck, touched the spot, and her hand came away bloody. She'd hit her head when she fell and was bleeding from the spot. She felt at it gingerly, but it seemed to be a smallish cut. Head wounds bleed profusely, she knew, so it must not have been too bad.

She fell, why did she fall? She looked up from her spot on the floor and saw Emmy standing there fiddling with the dials on the Activator again. She finished what she was doing, and turned to look down at Emily's heap of a body on the floor.

“Oh good, I didn't kill you. I was worried for half a second,” She said in a voice that didn't sound worried one little bit.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Emily meant it to come out strong and clear, but her tongue wouldn't quite do what she wanted it to do.

“Well, let's see. I am doing what Dan said. I'm not getting caught.” Emmy stared at her, emotionless.

“I don't...” she began, but Emmy threw her head back laughing, and cut her off.

“Of course you don't understand. Honestly, how can you be me? This is going to be fun,” The last phrase came out in a quiet musing voice. She stood staring at a point in the ceiling and zoned out for a moment, then snapped back, “I'm probably caught already. So the not getting caught advice really doesn't help me. I'm pretty sure they know it was me, but haven't done anything about it yet.”

“So they know. What are they really going to do to you? You're giving it back,” Emily said, voice a bit clearer. “You might be grounded, but how bad can that be?”

“No, I'm pretty sure this time my parents will push for legal intervention. 'We can't get through to you! When will you learn?'” she mocked her mother's voice. It was Emily's mother's voice too, but those words had never been spoken to her. “I can't go down that road, so I'm doing the only thing that's been left to me. I'm leaving.”

“Okay, so come with me. I'm sure my parents will let you stay with us,” Emily offered, and felt at the back of her head again. The blood was congealing, and she sighed a tiny bit, in relief.

“No, no, that's not good enough. If I just disappear, they'll think I've run away, and I can't have that. I'm no coward.”

“But you're talking about running away. So, you are a coward, it would seem,” Emily wished, the moment the words escaped her lips, that she had just kept quiet.

Emmy stepped forward and raised her hand, threateningly, and Emily threw her hands up to shield her face. “Shut up! I'm not a coward! I'm thinking clearly, and this is the only way.”

“So your plan is to leave me here and take my place over there?” She peered around her hands, then lowered them upon seeing Emily's back turned. She took the moment to stand up, but found she needed the help of the shelf to do so. Emmy's silence confirmed it. “Why me?” She asked, shaking her head, growing angry. “Why me and not one of the other copies of us? Why did you have to ruin MY life?”

“Your life was already pretty ruined, wasn't it? No friends, parents always fighting, about to lose the house you grew up in because your dad is so lame he can't keep a job?”

“You take that back!” Emily stepped forward, shouting. “Things aren't always perfect for me, but I like my life just fine, thank you!”

“No you don't. Or, well, you didn't anyway. Now you've got a little boyfriend. Or, I guess I do,” she threw her head back and laughed again.

Emily rushed forward and pushed Emmy to the ground and hit her in the face with a closed fist. “He's mine, you bitch!” She roared.

Emmy was too strong, pushed her off, and slammed her into the ground, hitting her head in the spot where she was bleeding, and the world spun. “Not anymore,” she said, laughing, as she stood up and stepped forward to press the button on the Activator.

The portal shimmered and opened again, and a beeping sound came from the Activator that Emily hadn't heard before. Emmy tossed a shoe through to the storage room on the other side of the opening, and nodded when it arrived safely on the other side.

Emily pushed herself back up, and felt her head once more. The scab opened again and the blood was coming faster than before.

Emmy turned to her and smiled. “You asked why I chose you. Well, I'll tell you. It's not because I wanted to ruin your life. I chose you because you look like me. I chose you because I can steal your life. I can be you better than you can. And if they catch me now, well, it won't be me, will it? I get to live happy and free while you take the fall. Enjoy living my life. I know I will enjoy being you.”

Emily tried to stand, tried to reach her, not really noticing the beeping on the Activator grew quicker until Emmy had jumped through to the other side, and the portal closed on its own. A timer. She'd set a timer. And she was gone.

Emily pushed a button on the Activator, but it was the wrong one, and the little machine shut off entirely. She screamed and picked it up, and stopped herself from throwing it just before it left her hand. She couldn't destroy it. It was her only way back. But she couldn't take the whole day to figure out how to work it from there either. And then how would she get Emmy back to her own side, if she went in?

She wanted to sit down and cry. She wanted to scream and throw things and ruin half the cool looking little things that sat around in the room. But she couldn't, and she knew that. “I have to stick to the plan. I have to be her for a while,” she said aloud, resolving herself. The very thought sickened her, but she had no choice.

She slipped the white lab coat back on, made sure she had the name badge on, and picked up the other two coats. She could return them on her way, and it would give her cover for the bulge in her shirt. She carefully tucked the Activator in her shirt the way Emmy had done earlier, held the coats in front of her, took a deep breath, and stepped back out into the hallway.

She walked past a guard who looked at her funny, and she debated excusing herself into the bathroom. She couldn't waste time, she decided, and walked straight for the lab where she'd found the coats earlier. She hung up the extra two coats she had borrowed, then slipped back out again, keeping the lab coat and name badge for later, just in case she needed to sneak back into the building. She couldn't think of why she might need to, but she didn't want to risk it either. She was sure the opportunity to steal one from the bathroom would not present itself again.

Emily slipped out the door at the stairwell and picked up the two back packs. She couldn't leave any evidence behind. She carefully put the activator in the bottom of Emmy's bag, then scrunched up Dan's bag and stuffed it into the large pocket on Emmy's. She slung the purple thing over her shoulder, and stepped down the stairs as quickly as she dared, lab coat still on.

In the hallway downstairs, she passed one of the office workers, nodded to him as she did so, and exited out the door she'd entered without anyone stopping her. She ran to the bus stop where they'd gotten off at, and boarded the first bus to arrive, heading back toward her house. She had a little money, thankfully, and she was grateful they'd thought to check the money differences earlier. She wouldn't be accused of having fake currency, at least.

The ride back to Emmy's house was both excruciatingly slow and far too fast, Emily sitting there trying to envision what might happen. Were Emmy's parents like her own? Were they both the same people, or was Emmy's dad her uncle or something? Would she be caught, like Emmy thought she would be? How would she figure out how to work the Portal Activator on her own?

Her head seemed to stop oozing blood, at least, but her hair was matted with it and she knew the first order of business, besides hiding the Activator somewhere in that room, was to take a shower so nobody saw her head wound. The bus stopped when she pulled the string, and she climbed out with a sad smile to the driver. Nothing would ever be the same again. She didn't know how she knew it, but she did.

When she arrived home, nobody was there, and she was thrilled to discover her key from her universe worked at that house too. She hadn't even considered that it might not work, not until the key slid and the click confirmed that it did. She breathed a sigh of relief, and ran up to her room. Not her room, but hers for now.

She pulled the Activator out of her bag and hid it in a box of old papers under the bed, then grabbed new clothes and went to take her shower. Her shirt needed to soak in the sink so the blood wouldn't set, so she filled the sink with cold water while she undressed slowly and pulled out a towel. She pushed the shirt under the water and swished it around a bit, then hopped into the shower and took care washing the blood from her hair. She wanted the blood out, but didn't want to disturb the scab that formed, and it was not an easy task.

She got out, checked her soaking shirt and was pleased to see there was just a small brownish smudge there where the deep red had been caked. It would have to be good enough, and she could probably hide it under her hair if she decided to wear it again. It was one of her cute shirts, with little cartoon ponies on the front, so she wanted to take it back to her side with her, at least. She probably shouldn't wear any of her own clothes on this side, though the thought of wearing Emmy's clothes made her want to scream.

She pulled the clothing on anyway, and glared at her reflection. Too many cheerful colors. She hung the wet shirt to dry on the towel bar and went back to Emmy's room. Her room. She was looking around in the other girl's room to see what she could find when the door clicked open and a familiar voice called up, “Emmy, I'm home! Are you here?”


And this concludes our little peek inside the book I'm working on.  Hope you enjoyed!  It's still rough, but it's a pretty solid start!  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Which I Take a Day off Writing to Make Bags

Yesterday was my last day off this week, and I had a blast with my son!  We met at Chick-fil-a to have lunch and trade off kids, as Grandma is keeping the girl to take her to a Victorian High Tea at the Glen Eyrie Castle here in the Springs.  It's her birthday surprise from Grandma, and she's been looking forward to it for ages!

We said goodbye to the girl, and Aaron and I took off to go run some errands.  I decided my new laptop is nice but not very portable if I don't have a bag I feel comfortable taking with me that fits it.  My old laptop backpack is for a 15", and the new one is 17.3".  So I decided to see if I could find fabric I really like to make a messenger style back with.

No dice.  There were nice fabrics, but nothing I'd want for a bag, right now.  I had some back up fabric at home and decided if I didn't find something else I liked that's pre-made, I'd have to go with that.  Target had one that fit, and it was thin and I didn't like it much.  Price was alright, though.  Best Buy had three, all too big for what I wanted, (a sleeve with pockets for my charger, mouse, and maybe my kindle)...  AND they were all around $75.  Um, no thanks.  I'll make my own.

So we went to a movie together, watched the final Harry Potter, we drove home with me answering questions for the confused boy who missed some minor plot turns, and I set to making the bag...  but when looked at how little of the fabric I had left, I was worried and decided I had better make a practice bag first, to be sure I remembered how to make a messenger bag.

Made a little one for the kindle and it's a good thing I did the trial run, because it's ALMOST too small,  And the flap is not long enough.  But it's ok, and it will work for now, and I do love the fabric...  So I made my other bag, slowly growing tired, watching Eragon and then Golden Compass with the boy, who fell asleep on the floor...  and by the time it was done (YAY!!!), I realized it was 3am and there would be no writing today.

So, I give you my bag!  Both of them:

Applix-closure to hold Laptop in place, and padded outer pockets large enough for my Kindle, or the charger.

Barely fits the Kindle, and the small pocket is big enough for my phone, or gum! 

Screw you guys, my birdie goes the other way.

Good thing I wrote ahead the other day!  And thank goodness for shower epiphanies!  I have direction again, beyond the current scene.  I knew in general where it would go, but I now have solid ideas for inner dialogue and steps that need taking.

So I'm off, to have some coffee, make some Gingerbread Belgian Waffles, and hammer out as much as I can before work this afternoon.  And yay for going in 2 hours later than my usual Sunday shift!  :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Tale of a Sweet Little Boy

My son is a very sweet little boy.  Sometimes.  Yesterday was one of those days, and this morning too...   And I'm a mean mommy who made him cry.  In my defense, this is how it played out:

I get up and get dressed for the day, knowing I have to work early.  I mediate two fights before I'm fully dressed, direct both kids to go change for school, and finally come out to make lunches and get myself something to eat.

The boy is in the dining room, spreading cream cheese on a bagel, I note, and move on to make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  While I work, I toast myself some Toaster Strudel, run to the garage for juice pouches and fruit & nut trail mix bags, toss an apple in the lunch bags with the other stuff, and call it good.  Zip it up, spread the frosting on my strudels, and turn around to a little boy standing there holding up a large glass plate to me.

"Mom, I didn't think you'd have time to make your breakfast, so I made this for you," he says.  In a tone that sounds just like, "Mom, I thought you might want a cookie, so I was getting this for you," when caught with hand in cookie jar.

I tell him I wish he'd told me he was making me breakfast, because I just finished making it myself.  Maybe he can eat it for me?  He says he's already eaten.  Tears well up.  I say maybe we can give it to Dad as a surprise.  He goes teary again, but nods and takes the plate to Dad, who is still in bed sleeping.  Doesn't say a word to tell him he's brought food, just leaves it there on the bed.  I didn't accuse him of lying, and didn't want to waste the food, and thought a surprise for the other parent in the house might help appease his desire to help.

When he comes back into the room, I tell him that was very nice of him, but I wish he'd told me he was making a surprise for me.  I wouldn't have made myself breakfast if I'd known.  He bursts into tears and tells me he wanted it to be a REAL surprise, so he didn't say anything.  :*(

Poor little dude.  Many hugs ensued, but then I had to go to work.

Fast Forward to this morning.  He made me another bagel.  Before I could get up.  Left it on the bed.  By my legs.  Didn't tell me it was there.  And as a result, it ended up on the floor.  Poor little dude!!

I can't decide if I haven't explained the breakfast in bed idea well enough, or if he's just so set on secrecy, he keeps foiling his own plots.  Sigh.  So the sweet boy fails again.

I wonder what he'll do tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IRT: NaNoWriMo, Good idea or bad idea?

This morning's blog post is in response to this other blog post someone linked on my NaNo Facebook group.  It poses the question about NaNo, and whether it's a great or terrible idea.  Read that first, then come back here and read below.  (Link should pop out into a new window, so you shouldn't have to do more than navigate some tabs!)  This will be in the comments there too.  Anyhoo...

I disagree with the "any old rubbish" bit as well.  I cannot and will not write something I can't stand behind and be proud of.  It might be ROUGH, but there's a very big difference between a rough first draft of something with a heart of gold and something made of crap just to get a word count in.

That being said, I am doing NaNo again this year.  The first year I did it, I did it to get back into the habit of writing every day.  I managed to win and got a pretty damn good story started.  That was two years ago, and I am still not entirely done with it.  I have most of it in my head but I haven't had the time (since figuring out my plot ending) to hammer it out.

Again, I won't write just any old crap, which is why my first draft is taking so long.  Of course, going back, rereading, and editing as I go is another reason.  So I can agree with the "let the inner editor go" bit, at least somewhat.  For me that means don't go back obsessively and perfect what I have at the beginning before I've reached the end.  That does not mean ignoring grammatical or spelling errors.

Last year I tried continuing that old story from 2009, and I failed miserably.  Probably because I had no fracking idea where the story was going.  I've since sat down and plotted it out.

THIS year, I'm using it as a tool to help me write again regularly, push myself (because I know I can do it, and I DO do this year round, when I have the time and motivation to crank out words), and get another story out that's been rattling around in my brain for a year or so.

And this year, I sat down and planned out the plot before hand.  You know what?  It's going much better this way!  This is also my way of seeing how plotting varies from pantsing, since I've never really sat down and plotted a whole book out and made it happen.  So far?  I'll be doing things this way again.  No question.

Any old person can crank out 50,000 words of rubbish, sure.  It takes a real writer's heart to make it shine.  And not everyone will have that.  If you're writing for yourself, sure, crank out just anything I guess.  If you're writing for just you, and you want to see if you can do it, this is the perfect time to try, because you know you have the community behind you to spur you on.

But I'm not just writing for me.  I write to share, and I'm too perfectionistic about my work to let it slide.  So, this book I'm working on?  It will be ready to publish, but not for a long long time.  Because I won't take "good enough" for an answer.  (Hell, I wouldn't even post this without editing a bit, LOL)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Welcome to day 8!

How's it going, NaNoWriMoers??  I'm still at target for the original goal, though admittedly a bit behind for my own.  BUT I figured out a LOT of my problems I'd had, and can now move forward smoothly.  When I find time to write that I'm not falling asleep.

Daylight savings is kicking my ass this time around.  Uncool, Daylight.  Seriously.  Uncool.

On the other hand, it's making me wake up earlier, so I guess it isn't all bad.  I'm down with early bedtime, in some cases...

Anyway!  So there have been days so far when I just wanted to go to bed instead of working, or needed a push to keep going.  And I have found doing word sprints on my NaNo facebook group is perfect for that!  10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and next thing I know, I'm 1500 words further in than I would have been without the push.  It's terribly helpful knowing someone else is on their computer doing the same thing you are.  And it makes it something of a race, so if you are competitive in nature, it can help push you to do your best.

I personally find dialogue is REALLY good for pushing the word count, and tend to try and make my sprints/races heavy with dialogue.  It helps with the story and building character too, so it certainly is not a bad thing!  Dialogue is necessary if you have more than one character...  or if yours is like my main character, and talks to herself a lot.  (Or the mirror, as it were!)

Anyway, so put on some music (check out my channels on grooveshark...  most are for writing!), and get to sprinting!  Even if you are sprinting alone, set a timer and make yourself sit there and NOT pull up facebook or netflix or youtube for 15 minutes.  You'll be surprised how far you can get in such a short time!  :)

Danny Elfman Style...  
James Newton Howard, general
Batman Begins Soundtrack
Avatar Soundtrack (blue monkey people, not blue arrow head)
I am Legend 
King Kong
M. Night Shyamalon Soundtracks
Last of the Mohicans 
V for Vendetta 
Firefly & Serenity  
Lord of the Rings, all 3
Chopin (not a huge collection, but what I could find on there...)
And finally, my original writing playlist.  Includes Braveheart, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, and Pride & Prejudice, among others.  Still a top contender in my writing music lists.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Still ahead, somehow...

I'm really not sure how I've managed to stay ahead, and on track for my higher-than-the-original-goal goal...  I have written NOTHING for two of the six days this month already.  I am sitting at 12,119 right now, and am trying to decide how much longer before my girl goes through to the other side...

So, this is why I guess I'd say it's a VERY good thing to get ahead and get as much in as you can, when you can.  It helps for the days when you fall asleep on the couch at ungodly early hours for no reason, and don't write all night after kid bedtime like you originally planned...  >.<

Speaking of...  I have 45 minutes before I need to be out the door for work today.  I should get moving!  Some more, that is.  I've managed 1500 so far today I think.  I think.

Happy Daylight Savings, people!  :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

And suddenly, it's the 4th.

Where does the time go!?  I just can't say.  So, I'm still on par for NaNoWrimo, thus far.  Well, as long as I get some writing in today.

The official word count goal is 50,000.  I'm aiming for more like 75,000, since I know I'm perfectly capable of 2000 words per day, and 75k would be 2500.  Pushing myself, that's the idea, right?  Mostly, I'm pushing myself to write every day, honestly.  I do tend to procrastinate!

So far this month...  I got a good solid start on day one!  Hit 4634, though I'd hoped to break 5k.  Get a running start, as it were.

Day two, I didn't do too poorly or too great, and was still ahead for both goals at the end of the day.  Added 1689 for a new total of 6323.

So that put me ahead for the original goal (both the official and my personal) for Day 3.  Which was good, because on day 2, my brand spanking new laptop arrived and I had to do all the things one has to do in order to set it up.  And get rid of the old computer.  And for some reason, this prompted us to bring a desk up from the garage, and overhaul the bedroom/office.

SO I spent day 3 doing that.  Tossing a lot of stuff, organizing, moving things around.  I'm still not done, not totally...  but it's a good start.  I tend to do a big declutter every 6 months, if not more often, and it seems like this is the time for that to happen again.  BUT I know I can't do that and ignore my writing.

I allowed myself to not write yesterday, but only because I was ahead.  And as I don't have to work until tonight (closing shift, and a short one at that), I am aiming to get another 5k in.  Or hit 10k total at the very least.  I can do this.

You other NaNoers can too!  Go go go!  Keep it moving, even if you're stuck with where it's going!  If you know what you want to have happen later, I give you permission to write that future scene!  Pick it up and move it to its proper place later!  :)

Nobody said you have to write in a linear way.  I know it's the easiest way to keep it all straight, but it trips us up when we're having trouble figuring out how to move from beginning to middle, which is where we should all be sitting now.

Remember, the first 20-25% of your story is "beginning".  Middle is most of it, and end is the final 20-25%.  Give or take a few percentages.  Your story LIVES in the middle.  And wraps up in the end.  Get past the beginning and into the middle, and take off running!  You can do this.

Now get to it!

Postscript-y goodness!

If you happen to be a person I know in real life and are interested in seeing my work in progress as I go, I've put it up on my other writing blog.  It's partly how I back up my work so I don't lose what I've done (just in case!!  Always have a back up!!), and it's partly how I let my real life friends read along as we go.  It's set to private and I get to pick who reads.  SO, if I really know you and you want to read, shoot me a comment or a private message or email or something with your email addy and I'll get you added to the reading list.

Dragen Rayne, my inexplicable name for the place all this fun happens!  :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So far, so good~

I'm breaking to get kids to school, but here's what I've done so far!  It's also on my NaNo page (bekajoi over there, if you want to look/buddy up, etc), but here you go.  :)

I'm calling it Through a Mirror, Darkly.


Emily was a girl, all alone in her neighborhood. Ever since she could remember, her only friend was the one she made with the girl in the mirror. She, alone, understood it all. Understood everything: How alone she felt, how she wished her parents would stop fighting all the time, how she wished they noticed she was there or took time to hang out with her... How she wished the kids at school would look past her clothes and see HER, how she wished things could be different, but knew they never could.
Until one day, Emily's friend in the mirror no longer mirrored her every move... Her friend spoke back to her, needed her. And on that day, her friend reached through the mirror and pulled her to the other side.
Would she ever get home again? Did she want to?


Emily woke with a start, that Monday morning, and for a moment she thought she was late for school. When her eyes turned to the curtains, though, they were still dark, so she knew she had a little time before she had to move. And when the sound of the refrigerator door slamming was followed by her mother's voice, she knew what had awakened her.
“Is it really that hard to put the empty milk carton in the recycling bin? Or tell someone when you finish the last of it? What am I supposed to do for my breakfast now?!” Her mom yelled at her dad, and as usual, he just sat and took it.
Emily sat and pushed her back up against her old headboard, felt the familiar creak of the wood as it leaned with her weight, and pulled her knees and blanket close. Monday again. School again. Time for taunts and name calling. Again. Joy.
She sat and stared across the room at her alarm clock's green numbers, waiting for them to change, listening to the fight down the hall. The ranting, rather, as her father still had not defended himself. She wondered if he would apologize this time and make it end, of if her mother had gone from wondering what she would have for breakfast to what her daughter was meant to eat before school. But, as usual, her mother was absorbed with her own needs, and Emily's name was never raised.
When the clock's bright colors flipped around and read 7:00, the local radio station clicked on in place of a glaring alarm, and her mother's sounds were partially drowned out by the morning announcer's prank of the day. He was calling random numbers in the phone book and confessing to extramarital affairs with the person who answered the phone's spouse. It didn't seem to matter if it was a woman or a man who answered, and that made her smile.
She stood and looked through her closet for a pair of shirts to wear, and chose a long sleeve black shirt and a short sleeve burgundy shirt with a funny donut print. One jelly donut lay dead, bleeding jelly from bite mark and mouth, and the other donut stood screaming, looking upon his friend's bloody corpse. She pulled the two on and looked for her favorite pair of black jeans among the piles of clothes on her floor. She knew she'd seen them yesterday, and finally found them under the jacket she'd thrown when she got back from her wandering to the park for a swing to herself.
The park hadn't been empty, but at least it was a young mother and her two shockingly blonde children, not some of the kids from her school. The mother didn't even glance at her, as some others did, wondering why a fourteen year old girl was at the park without babysitting charges or younger simblings. She smiled at the little boy with black glasses as he climbed up the slide and slipped back down again with a giggle, and made her way to the taller swing set. She was getting too tall to use the other one, but the one with the blue seats still worked for her.
She'd sat swinging aimlessly, letting the grey of the clouds envelop her view, letting the motion of the swing take her out of her own thoughts, until she realized suddenly she was no longer alone. A group of three boys from her school wandered by and had seen her, and the young mother had apparently taken her children home. The boys didn't exactly harass her, but they certainly were making no effort to talk to her either. They just sat there, at the top of the fading green jungle gym, watching her swing. She sighed, rolled her eyes, hopped off the sing and headed home, tossing her grey hoodie on a pile and burying herself in a book until she fell asleep. She didn't even miss dinner.
As she pulled her jeans on and realized they were a bit loose in the waist, and her stomach growled, however, she knew she would need to eat something that morning. Which led to the kitchen with now-quiet parents. They would still be there, she knew, and if she made the wrong move, she might set her mother off again. Emily pulled her socks on, mismatched on purpose as usual, and pulled her tall black leather boots out from under her bed. She'd saved her birthday and Christmas money up for them, and she loved them more than any other item of clothing she'd ever owned.
Those boots had giant buckles with straps instead of laces, worked under jeans as well as with skirts, and she honestly could not remember the last time she wore any other pair of shoes. They were hers, and though her mother rolled her eyes at them, there was nothing she could do about it.
She'd bought them with her own money, and they weren't like a too-short skirt. There was nothing objectionable about them other than the style not being up her mother's alley. She'd even though to buy them one size bigger than she wore at the time, and was grateful, since her feet grew half a size in the few months since she got them. She'd already passed her mother's shoe size up, and hoped the boots would still fit in a year. Her mother's feet had reached their adult size when she was fifteen, she said, so maybe her giant feet would stop growing soon. Emily glanced down at her feet, and didn't think they looked giant at all, but her mother's words still stung.
Once they were buckled in place just the way she liked, Emily pulled the legs of her jeans down so just the toes showed, took a deep breath, and opened her door at last. The kitchen was quiet, as expected. Her dad sat at the kitchen table, reading a book, and her mother had moved to the living room with her coffee. She was watching a morning show which was hosted by some round faced cheerful woman who spent half the show cooking, and Emily rolled her eyes and shook her head when the woman excitedly said one of her made-up words and her mother laughed.
“Mom?” Emily tried, cautiously, but her mom didn't flinch. She tilted her head a bit so she could listen, but that was all the response she got. “Are there any eggs? I'm hungry.”
“In the fridge, but you'll have to hurry. Your bus will be here in ten minutes. There's bread for toast, if you want to make a sandwich to take with you.” The woman glanced at her when the screen changed from show to commercial break, and sighed audibly, “And pull a brush through that hair! It's a rat's nest!”
“Yes, mom,” Emily turned with a small sigh of her own and made her way to the bathroom. The lights took a moment to flick on, as the flourescent bulbs always did, and staring back at her was a too-tall girl whose dark clothing washed her face out and made her look more pale than she really was. She smiled, as that's exactly what she was going for.
Her mother would not approve of cosmetics at her age, so she couldn't do the dark eye make up and pale blue lipstick she wanted, though she had started purchasing and hiding the different pieces in her room, so she had to make do for now. When she was fifteen, her mother said, and Emily took comfort in the declining number of days as time passed slowly. She only had to wait until January, and that wasn't so far away.