Monday, August 27, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo Update, Week 4

I consider Week 4 of Camp a reasonable success. Although I took a couple of impromptu days off, I still ended the week at 48,211 words. That’s less than 2,000 words from the stated goal of the competition. If I hadn’t slacked off, I probably would have hit 50K, but that's okay. I feel comfortable with where I currently stand.

I anticipate hitting 50K today. With approximately 2.5 chapters left to write, it seems obvious that I’ll be going over goal. I anticipate finishing somewhere around 55K. I'll probably be done by Wednesday.

As predicted, I didn’t get a whole lot done with my other novel. However, I did finish chapter 14, which ended up needing more revision than expected (i.e. almost complete revision). This week, I plan to write the new chapter 15, which will be short (probably only two Word pages) and revise chapter 16. I’ve already reviewed 16 extensively and feel it doesn’t need much work, so it should be an easy week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the werewolf romance story I mentioned last week. I have most of the plot figured out. I’m feeling pretty excited about it and honestly sort of want to get started. Not sure if it’s the best idea. I’m still only about halfway through the fantasy romance and there’s my partially written spy romance to think about as well. I don’t want to get distracted from these two novels, both of which I feel are good stories.

I will be checking in about Camp NaNo for the final time next Monday. Thanks to everyone who's been checking in on my progress!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

AIIW: Doghouse

Movie Stats:
Released 2009 (Ireland?)
British, in English
Director – Jake West
Stars – Noel Clarke (Mickey on Doctor Who), Danny Dyer, Stephen Graham, Lee Ingleby (Stan Shunpike in Harry Potter)

Plot Summary:
When Vince (Stephen Graham, who has been in everything ever) is feeling down about his impending divorce, his buddies take him on a guys weekend holiday to the remote village of Moodley. Unfortunately, when they get there, they discover that all the women in the village have been turned into raving, man-eating zombies. Hilarity and gore ensues.

Bad Stuff:
Hello misogyny, my old friend. And I’m not talking about the man-eating female zombies. If the film is to be believed, all women (and gay men who “act” like women) are unsympathetic shrieking harpies who seek to marry men so that they can control them and suck out their personalities. Yay, male empowerment!

Also, apparently women in small villages dress like super sluts and have time to engage in lesbian threesomes even after being turned into zombies (seriously?).

Lastly, the special effects are so-so.

Good Stuff:
It’s surprisingly funny. There were quite a few moments when I laughed out loud. For example, a scene where Neil (Danny Dyer), tied to a chair and crying, tries to seduce his way out of being eaten by a rather zaftig zombie, had me in stitches. Maybe I have issues.

It’s got Mickey from Doctor Who! And he spends half the movie dressed as a lady! Even when the other men get back into their regular clothes! It was funny. Like I said, maybe I have issues.

I liked the ending, which I will leave spoiler-free just for you.

The Verdict:
The misogyny was tiresome but, personally, I didn’t take it very seriously. I think it was meant in good fun. However, I can see where some people – women in particular – might get offended. I like horror comedy. This one was no “Shaun of the Dead,” but it had its moments.

For me, giving a movie three stars means that it was enjoyable but unmemorable. That having been said, I give this movie 3 stars.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo Update, Week 3

A heavy-duty case of writer’s block severely hampered my progress in week 3 of Camp.

Okay, so it wasn’t so much writer’s block as it was “What the heck am I doing?” This is a common problem with my writing. I frequently know where I’m going, just not how I’m going to get there. Annoying.

Eventually, I figured out the way forward, although it may cause problems farther down the line in the story (I’m not sure yet). In the end, I wrote about 10,000 words. That may seem like a lot to everyone else, but I fell 3,000 short of my goal for the week, so I was disappointed.

Fortunately, I did reach my weekly goal for my other novel: I rewrote chapter 12, and wrote a brand new chapter 13. Upon further reflection, I think the rest of my rewrites will play out like this: massive, although not complete, rewrite of 14; new but brief chapter 15; and minimal rewrite of 16. After that, it will be brand new material until the end of the book. I don’t know how much I’ll work on this novel this week as I try to catch up on the NaNo novel. We’ll see how it plays out.

I also started kicking around a new idea this week for a gay werewolf paranormal romance story. Not sure how I feel about it. The concept might be a little heavy (no, really) but I’m intrigued by it. Hmm.

Lastly, and this is a complete non sequitur, but I have to tell someone that I’ve become obsessed with the band Neon Trees. I love Tyler Glenn’s voice. 

I’m a little worried for my mental health.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Ode to Menial Labor

All I ever wanted to do was write.

Until earlier this year, I spent my whole entire adult life trying to find a “career” or “job” that I actually enjoyed. I was miserable. Finally, I had to give up and admit to myself that it wasn’t working. If all I ever wanted to do was write, I realized, then that’s what I need to be doing.

When the husband landed his current job here in Dallas, he would have been perfectly fine with me not working at all. However, I wanted a job, both to supplement our income and to get me out of the house. I decided to search for something part-time and low-stress. You know, something that wouldn’t distract from my writing. Within a couple of weeks, I had landed my current job: working the afternoons at a shipping store.

I’ve gotten more than a few side-eyes when I tell people where I work. I understand this reaction. I’m well educated, intelligent, and knowledgeable, all of which comes through in conversation. So I get that my job confuses people. What’s a person like you doing working a job like that? I can practically see the thought forming in their heads. So I frequently end up explaining my situation, like I did for you just now.

And while all of what I explained above is true, there’s another truth that I don’t often share with people: I actually love my “menial labor” job.

I don’t see what’s not to love about it. It’s a quick, short drive from home. I only work four hours every weekday afternoon. The time flies by. My co-workers are nice, interesting, and a pleasure to speak to and work with. Most of our customers are regulars. We know about their lives. They’re rarely angry or rude or mean-spirited. In fact, it’s a little bit like Cheers, only with P.O. boxes instead of beer. My work also requires critical thinking and problem solving skills, so it’s not like I’m not using my brain. At the end of every day, rather than being stressed out, I usually have a funny anecdote to take home with me.

Honestly, I feel very lucky. I may not make much money, but this is probably the most fun I’ve ever had making it. Life is pretty good these days. It seems to me like it can only keep getting better from here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo Update, Week 2

Week 2 of Camp NaNoWriMo was a rousing success.

My goal had been to hit 25,000 words by Sunday (yesterday). I reached this, coming in at 25,064. In theory, this puts me at the halfway point. However, I’m guessing that, like my last NaNo novel, this one will come in over 50K (the last one was just under 60K), so I have a ways to go.

I took an impromptu day off on Saturday. This left me playing catch-up yesterday. I feel like I could have gotten more done if I hadn’t skipped Saturday, so I’m considering writing about 1,000 today. Since I need to get some other things done – house cleaning, haircut – we’ll see if I can also squeeze in 1,000 words before I go to work at 2.

Work on the fantasy/romance was also good. I revised three chapters: former 5/now 9, former 6/now 10, and former 7/now 11. All of them required some extensive, but not complete, rewriting.

This week I plan to do some major rewrites on former 8/now 12. I believe I’ve also decided to add another new chapter, one that will come directly after the new 12. After that, everything left in the story will probably have to be almost completely rewritten. Which is kind of ugh, but I guess them’s the breaks when you want to produce something good. So to recap, for this week: rewrite 12, write new 13, then we’ll see after that.

Still really pleased with my project and feeling pretty good, although I think I might need to start laying off the caffeine because I haven’t been sleeping well.

Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Antique Photos

I feel like my blog is seriously lacking in pictures but I haven’t been getting out much to take pictures of anything lately. So I thought I’d post some pictures that my maternal grandmother took back in the 1930s.

The story, if I recall correctly, is this: During the Great Depression, my grandmother, who would have been in her 20s at the time, took a job in Virginia as a telephone operator. That’s as much as I know. According to the little photo album I took these from, these pictures are from Lynchburg, VA.

Pretty sure that's my grandma on the right.

You’ll have to forgive me if I can only say that I “think” this is her in some of the photos. Sadly, my grandma died a few months before I was born, so I never got the chance to know her. Most of the pictures I have of her are from when she’s older. I find it difficult to recognize her younger self in photos.

I don't know who these ladies are, but the one on the right is beautiful!

I inherited these pictures when my mother died. My mother had this huge chest full of old photographs. I asked for it, along with all the slides of the photographs my maternal grandfather took (he was an amateur photographer and retired cop who died when I was a toddler). I had to leave the chest full of photos with my brother although I hope to retrieve it someday soon. This little photo album is the only one I brought back with me.

I think that's my grandma in the fancy car.

Unfortunately, none of the pictures are marked at all, except for the first one above marked “’32.” I don’t know who any of these people are. I assume they were my grandma’s friends while she lived in Virginia.

Grandma's friends at a waterfall.

I like getting to see this little piece of her. I like knowing that she had an adventure when she was young, that she had friends who looked like they were a lot of fun. I wish that I knew more of the story. I should have asked when my great aunt was still alive, or even my mom, because she probably would have told me more if I’d asked.

It really is true that hindsight is 20/20.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo Update, Week 1

Just checking in for a quick update on how my writing is going.

At the end of Week 1, my NaNo book, tentatively titled The Reluctant Wizard, stands at 10,572 words. I’ve been averaging a little over 2,000 words per day. That was intentional because I had been planning all along on taking today off from writing (I need the break, and I’m going into work a few hours early today).

So far, I’m really pleased with the quantity of my progress. I think the quality is also good, although I’m a little concerned that I’ve taken too long on the build up of the story. We shall see as it progresses over this week.

As for my romance story, progress on that has been good as well. While I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I decided that both of my current romance novels weren’t working and required some heavy-duty revision.

For now, I’m focusing on the novel that is a fantasy/romance hybrid. Since vacation, I added four new chapters between what were chapters 2 and 3. After the start of NaNo last week, I completely rewrote the former chapter 3 (now chapter 7) because it no longer fit. I also partially revised the former chapter 4 (now chapter 8). Both of those chapters are complete; this week it's on to the new chapter 9.

All in all, things are going pretty great. However, I’m glad for the break today. I was starting to feel slightly burnt out.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

AIIW: Metal Tornado

Movie Stats:
Released 2011 (Canada)
Canadian, in English
Director – Gordon Yang
Stars – Lou Diamond Phillips, Nicole de Boer (aka Ezri Dax on DS9)

This review contains some spoilers. You weren’t going to watch this movie anyway, so keep on reading.

Plot Summary:
Clean energy company Helios Inc. is attempting to harness solar flares to convert into magnetic energy, which will be stored in gigantic batteries. These batteries can then be used to provide electricity for the whole entire world. Unfortunately, “something is wrong with the formula”! This creates “excess energy” that forms itself into two separate magnetic tornadoes (that pull in tons of metal debris), which eventually threaten both Philadelphia & Paris. Can Helios scientists Michael Edwards (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Rebecca Not-Important-Enough-to-Have-a-Last-Name (Nicole de Boer) stop this before it’s too late?

Bad Stuff:
A story that’s complete and utter implausible bullcrap, special effects so awful that I was embarrassed for them, dialogue that was laughably terrible, and, apart from the two main actors, ridiculously bad acting. Like, “Is that the producer’s kid/dad/auntie?” level of bad acting.

The worst part is that [SPOILER] except for the scientist who discovers that “something is wrong with the formula” in the beginning, no one dies in this movie (although I think maybe the lady who lied to a cop to get out of a ticket died when her car got pulled into one of the tornadoes, but they never said for sure). I thought they’d throw me a bone by giving me some fun, campy deaths. No such luck.

That lone lumberjack randomly out in the woods by himself? When his chainsaw went haywire and started floating around in the air by itself, I thought for sure I was going to get a decapitation. Nope. The chainsaw merely marks up his hard hat before flying away. The farmer out fixing a barbed wire fence by himself? I thought, “Ooo, gruesome barbed wire death! Bring it on!” No. He only almost gets crushed by his tractor.  

Seriously, movie, give me something to work with here.

Good Stuff:
It wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen?

It’s unintentionally funny.

The Verdict:
It’s sort of fun to watch to make fun of. The husband and I tore it apart. I’d love to hear someone give it the MST3K treatment. However, I’m sure there are better ways for you to spend 90 minutes of your time. Maybe go outside, if it’s not currently 100-some-odd degrees wherever you are.

I give this movie 1.5 stars.

An Observation:
I’ve seen 3 movies recently – this one, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers – which had a storyline about clean energy. In each of these movies, the clean energy source somehow goes awry and nearly destroys large portions of the world. I’m beginning to think that Big Oil is funding these movies. (Just kidding. Sort of.)