Stand, fall, sleep, write, go broke

Friday, May 29, 2009

My goodness, I've gone clear from Monday to Friday without updating. For shame! In truth, I've been a busy guy this week. For starters, as I think I mentioned, Sam is standing with the help of anything he can find. That means he is also falling. That means I spend most of my time following him around the house, wondering what he will use to pull himself up. Some options include the couch, a toy drum, the step stool in the kitchen, an empty coffee can, the laundry basket, and my lap*.

Also, since Eric Stevens was so late with his last job, I had to make up for his lazy ass by getting my latest job in early, specifically today. I've also sent in one spec sample for some new work-for-hire stuff (I'll have to let Eric Stevens and Deirdre Black fight it out to see who gets that job--if the samples are enjoyed, that is), and been working a bit on YA MS the Second.

NEWSFLASH! Just this morning, a new addition to my repertoire of silly nicknames: YA MS the Third! It came to me in the last couple of days, and, as I lay awake in bed this morning from 2 to 3:30, I wrote the first page or so in my head. Upon crawling out of bed at a little before 6 (thank you, Misters Sam and Goddamn Cardinal in the Lilac Bush Outside Our Bedroom Window), I typed it out, mostly as I had planned, I think, and it came to three pages. Clearly not an auspicious, mindblowing start to a new project. But it does feel right, and frankly brilliant, so although it can't get my attention right away, keep your eyes peeled for more on YA MS the Third.

And finally, the engine light. $2100 later, the light is now off. I made the guy behind the counter promise to give Sam a job when he turns sixteen so he can pay for his own college tuition. Zing!

*The video title was not my idea, but Beth's, so don't think I'm judging my wife because Sam fell. Babies fall; Sam is a baby. Ergo, not the worst mother by any measure.

Id est

Monday, May 25, 2009

I didn't realize it had been five days since the last post.

As I think I mentioned, Saturday (i.e., two days ago) was WYAODII for me, and it happily coincided with a Tenners weekend event, known through the Twitterverse as #ChapterChallenge. All in all, though I didn't follow the oh-so-strict guidelines as establish by Trish Doller and Josh Berk (i.e., write one chapter per day, Friday to Monday), I did manage to write on Friday, Saturday, and a little bit today over 5000 words, in a total of four chapters and change, most of which, even in the cold light of the morning, seem pretty good. This is for YA MS the Second, naturally, which you will recall enjoyed a Eureka! moment over lunch with Beth last weekend.

The rest of the weekend was spent grilling with friends, of course, and going on many, many walks, including two good ones today alone. I even got out on the bike for a short while today with no place special to go.

In other news, holy crap Sam is pulling himself into a standing position. I'm glad I got a lot of writing done this weekend, because it may have been my last chance for a long while.

BEA is this week. I remain jealous of those attending.

The "check engine" light came on in my car this weekend, too, and, having exhausted my own know-how in car maintenance (i.e., I checked the oil level; it was A-OK), I'm going to have to bring the ol' Camry in to Midas this week. Hopefully, the student art show is still showing at Harmar Mall!

He's all muscle under that shaggy hair

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It just occurred to me that I haven't updated the Exile with my feelings on Jellicoe Road. I did write a full review* for my class, but here I'll just say this: upon closing the book, I turned to Beth and said, "That was the best book of all time."

Now, yes. I do tend to speak in superlatives. But obviously I loved it, and am fully onboard with the hype, as I proceeded to Twitter, as well.

In other news:

1. Harry got his summer short do, and looks like a completely different dog. (Less like Eddie, and more like Wishbone, that is.)

2. To the right, you will see I've added a little glossary of acronyms I use on this blog frequently, at Roo's request. If any come up that I've forgotten, do let me know. I think it looks a bit skimpy as is.

*The ongoing assignment in this class is a Mock Printz Award Nomination thing, for which I will be reading 10+ YA titles and either nominating or rejecting each for the award. I'm a little concerned about this, since I don't want to make a habit of "rejecting" any of my fellow YA authors' works. Diplomacy will be of the utmost, I suppose. I'll probably make an effort to only read greats, so that even if they get a rejection (I can't nominate everyone, after all), I'll have lots of nice things to say.

Metallic Pea!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Productive weekend!

So, WYAOD proved very helpful for YA MS the Second. Although I spent a good number of hours outlining before my lunch with Beth and Sam, much of the work I did was tossed after lunch. "Then why was WYAOD helpful?" you're no doubt asking. Well, over lunch, Beth and I did some brainstorming about plot problems with the then-outline, and the solutions we came to were superb! So, the few hours I continued working after lunch were spent salvaging certain existent scenes, removing others, and sketching out a new outline that actually covers the full plot arc of the novel! This is a first for this MS. This coming Saturday will be WYAOD2 for me. I am very excited now.

Well, that was Saturday. Sunday was all about laundry, farmer's market, dog baths, fancy grilled suppers, lawn-mowings, and the like. When it came time to hit the sack last night, I was out in an instant. Felt good!

Unfortunately, this weekend's productivity on the personal side meant no paid work got done. So Eric Stevens is missing a deadline as we speak. His editor is okay with it, I'm told, so he can play catch up over the next few days.

Finally, started reading Jellicoe Road for class. I like it very much so far, about a third of the way through (it's 400+ pages). I am wondering if I would like it more than I do, even, if not for all the reviews I've read that have praised it up and down the mountainside. Also, I constantly have in my head "Jellicoe Roooooaaaaad" sung to the tune of "Holiday Road" from Vacation, with Chevy Chase.

"**" = "ss"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I chose the windiest, coldest day in the history of the month of May to get back on my bike. It wasn't too bad, though, and down here to the Longfellow DBC from home ain't that far a ride, to be honest.

What am I doing down here, you ask? Well, today is Write Your A** Off Day, so I'm working on YA MS the Second with gusto -- more gusto, in fact, than I have had for this project since that seven-day explosion back in December, during which I banged out about 35,000 words. Many of those words were very good, but many were directionless and tangenty, so now I'm doing some nuts and bolt work: outlining. I hate outlining. Have I ever mentioned that? I hate outlining.

Anyway, in about two minutes Beth and Sam are going to show up to join me for my lunch break at Longfellow Grill. Then I'll get back to work.

Oh, almost forgot. My one-day-late birthday supper was last night, at Luci Ancora. So good. Our appetizer was these croutons with gruyere and bacon with a balsamic reduction. Amazing. My Caeser salad was insanely garlicky, but very, very good. And my entree -- spaghetti with white wine sauce and mussels, was nearly perfect. For dessert, one of my favorites: flourless chocolate cake. So yeah. Recommended. Expensive, but recommended.

35 is alive.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today is my thirty-fifth birthday, or so they tell me. I don't remember my birthday, after all; I was just a little baby at the time.

Speaking of birthdays, or more to the point, cakes, this was yesterday's Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, #1133.

There won't be much in the way of celebrating today. I'll be hanging with Sam, as usual, and I'll probably get some pizza for lunch. Then this evening is my first class of the summer semester. I'm pleased about that. The meals (which is how I celebrate birthdays) begin tomorrow night. We're going to try Luci Ancora. I'm pleased about that, as well. And on Saturday, I plan to take part in Write Your Ass Off Day, even though I can't physically join the gang gathering in New York City.

Today seems like as good a day as any to review my New Year's Resolutions. I think I'm not doing so well. Here's the list:

1. Finish both my YA manuscripts! -- Well, I finished the first one, and hell, even sold it. So not too bad. The second is still a WIP, but I have quite a ways to go in 2009 so far.

2. Finish at least one of the titles in my middle-grade trilogy. -- This seems less likely to happen this calendar year. I was a bit naive about just how much time being a dad would take up every day.

3. Blog five times per week. -- Epic fail. But the spirit of this resolution (to not let the Exile fester, unused) I think has been fulfilled.

4. Cover the windows over the couch in plastic. Soon. -- Another fail, but now that it's spring, I don't suppose it matters.

5. Teach Sam to talk, walk, and eat solid foods. -- Solid foods are done. The other two, we continue our efforts.

6. Eliminate caffeine entirely. That is, from my diet, not the world in general. -- DONE! In fact, I often go days with no caffeine at all. Granted, I occasionally have a Mountain Dew. I'm only human. But I no longer suffer headaches if I skip my coffee, which I usually skip.

7. Get an agent! -- DONE!!

8. Stop buying coffees everywhere. Even decafs. -- Well . . . I do buy quite a few decafs still. I'll work on this.

9. Get that pesky old cholesterol down where it belongs. -- Hm. Another epic fail. 2009 thus far has been the year of the hamburger, I'm afraid.

And, if I can do all that stuff, one final resolution:

10. Get my druid to level 80. What?! Not, like, next week, but eventually. Jeez. -- Ha! Done. I think I had this one finished second, after finishing YA MS the First.

Down with the sickness? No. Not down at all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I've got a wicked cold. It seems a bit better today than yesterday.

Sam's got a wicked cold. It seems about ten times worse today than yesterday.

Sam had a load of trouble sleeping through the night. Babies shouldn't take Nyquil, you see. For that reason, I had slight trouble sleeping through the night, but the Nyquil I was allowed to take helped. Beth, on the other hand, was up for too long, too many times, soothing a sick baby. And also soothing Sam. Ha! Kidding. But in truth, my extra-loud-because-of-my-stuffed-nose-and-Nyquil snoring definitely didn't make Beth's night any easier.

Here's the point: I can't get a thing done. Well, I did get a load of laundry done, but I do laundry in my sleep nowadays. I mean writing. I'm not getting any writing done. I have YA MS the Second to work on, plus the next FTM, which is due Friday. I've got a write-night scheduled for tonight, so hopefully I will (A) actually use it, and (B) get something done.

My first class of the summer semester is Thursday, which is also ps my birthday.

You know, if this weren't Tuesday morning, I'd totally head to Azeroth right now. For real.

Bonus features

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's fairly early on Saturday. The curtains and blinds are still down, since the rest of my family is still asleep. The house is ours once again, and it's very quickly becoming slightly messy. I should nip that in the bud.

I want to get back to work on YA MS the Second. There's been some "soft writing" going on (a term I learned from the awesomely named Alex Steele, a honcho at GWW, not to mention a playwright and author), and I have some ideas on how to solve various plot malfunctions. But it means scrapping so, so much. It pains me. It always pains me to scrap so, so much, especially when I think the main character is so freakin' hilarious.

Can we start a trend, like DVDs, of having deleted scenes at the end of a book? Bonus material: Jessamine can't sleep!

Still, I really should get back to work on it. Hopefully some time today I can sneak away for a couple of hours or even up to the attic office. I should at least outline this beast in earnest so there's hope of real progress.

Is it possible that I get worse at Bejeweled Blitz the more I play it? Did I mention I turn thirty-five next week?

Day in photos

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today was a rough day down at S&S Children's, my former home away from home. I miss those guys, and my heart goes out to all of them. Those of you who know me know that I don't drop platitudes like that without meaning them.

So, in the hopes of dropping a little happiness, I'll post a few nice photos from our day--the last day with Mom in town.

We went to the zoo at Como Park this morning. Though many of the animals are still being kept inside most of the time, it was a good time. That "walking carpet" is a sloth. Didn't move at all. And this orangutan (I think?) got a kick out of walking back and forth in front of the glass, saying hello to all the students from a high school field trip. And Sam got his first-ever ride on a carousel. I do believe he had fun. Though from the pics, maybe not as much fun as his mom and grandma did!

Later, Beth's folks were over for that early Mom's Day celebration. After the guests had left, and we'd cleaned up the dinner debris (big shout-out to my mom for doing dishes duty her whole visit--holla!), Beth spotted a rare double rainbow. It was a sight to see.

So that's our day in photos. Mom is New York-bound tomorrow afternoon.

"And who should I make it out to?"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

(Or is that "Out to whom should I make it?"?)

I'm going to try to write an entry, even though Sam is not currently napping. He seems pretty focused on the rug in the hallway.

Big day! I had my first-ever book signing! It was at the International Reading Association north convention in Minneapolis, at booth 1526, to be specific. I must have signed about forty or fifty books. Maybe? I'm not sure; should have kept track. It was pretty thrilling, though. Now, I'm no fool. I know full well that most if not all of the people I signed for today were responding to the big "FREE" on my placard. Still, it was really flattering. Most visitors (librarians and teachers, most of them) were genuinely glad to meet me and have me sign their free book. One teacher said her ELL students had read Mummy at Midnight already, and had liked it a lot. AND one librarian said her boys love the Jake Maddox books. Eric Stevens will be so proud when I tell him. By the way, of the two available books, I Dare You! was the more popular choice by far. We ran out of stock. I think people are looking for "boy" books, and the male narrator and spooky cover fit the bill.

In other news, Beth's mother-in-law is still town, living in the attic. She and Sam get along like a house afire. Tonight, she will babysit so Beth and I can go out for supper. We're thinking Tanpopo. And tomorrow afternoon, in celebration of Mother's Day a little early, we're having Beth's family (or some of it) over for a cookout! Turkey burgers! Turgers! And one veggie burger.