Monday, November 29, 2010

Vignette: Dedication

Dear Mom,

I'm afraid that I have bad news.
No. Sounds like a telegram in a war movie. He studied the screen, shaking a few more Cheetos out of the bag.

From the depths of the staircase, "You ready?"

"Hang on!"
Dear Mom,

Please don't be mad. Remember how I was worried about that paper about the causes of the Civil War? I was right. Professor Giammettei gave me a D, and it's forty percent of my grade.
"Are. You. Ready?"

"Just a minute!"
But I remembered what you always said about communicating with my teachers and how they always want the best for me. So I went to talk to him about it, and he's giving me another chance. He wants me to put more of my own original thoughts in the paper. Remember how you said that too? Next time I'll take your advice.

The bad part is that he wants the rewrite by noon Monday, so I think I better not come home for Thanksgiving. And I was really looking forward to the turkey and your six-layer cookies. Nothing here is half as good.

They don't let you use your cellphone in the library, so I probably won't get your email if you reply to this. But I promise I'll call you from the cafeteria on Thanksgiving, in between rewrites. I heard a rumor that they'll have turkey sandwiches, at least.


"Mike! You're paying the extra time on the meter!"

"Coming! Can you grab my skis, please?"

Image: By Tom Murphy VII. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vignette: The Sandwich

(The 200-words-a-day resolution begins!)

On any normal rainy day, Meg would be buying pink mealy tomatoes indoors, not squashing through puddles at the farmer's market searching for the real thing. Actually, on any normal rainy day she'd be staying home eating boxed mac and cheese or the end of a tube of Pringles.

But Mom was coming for lunch--had, in fact, invited herself for lunch. And fifteen months ago, in the summertime, Meg had served her mother a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich that lived on in legend and song.

At first, Mom had been politely unimpressed. A sandwich listed on diner menus? But her attitude had changed when she bit into toasted homemade bread, hand-beaten mayonnaise, shattering bacon, overpriced pink boutique salt, and tomatoes less than an hour out of the garden. That BLT had been the product of one of Meg's rare culinary frenzies, a masterpiece never to be duplicated.

But Mom expected her to duplicate it. She had rarely expressed such approval for anything that Meg had done. And Meg wasn't (yet) ready to lose the legend over a little rain.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Link: Miss Mosaic (Blatant Friend Promotion!)

Just a post linking to a post linking to a friend who's opening her Etsy store. That mosaic with the cranky chicken? Her work.

Image: Copyright Miss Mosaic.

Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Woohoo!

I got there!  52,245! I was just going for 50,000, but it turns out that my word counting method was low.

Now, the novel isn't done. Not remotely. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I wrote fifty (-two) thousand words. I'm pleased.

Now comes the post-fifty-thousand strategy, which is to write two hundred slower words of fiction every day until the end of November, and then a minimum of five days a week permanently. This time I want NaNoWriMo to be a jump-start for a permanent fiction writing habit, instead of a fun one-month stunt.

We'll see what really happens.

Image: NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo: 35,000!


So, I'm happier. My plot doesn't actually work, but I do have two characters that I like, that could work quite nicely in a better plot. And neither of them annoy me. And they both enjoy junk food. That's good, right? Right.

Image: By Janet Hudson. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Halfway!

25,028 words, specifically. Halfway there!

I'm not actually much happier with my accomplishments than I was before. But we'll just see how it goes.

Image: By Waugsberg. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vignette: After the Breakup

(The following results from experiments relating to the old "how do you stuff a character description in there without being utterly obvious?" question.)

Jane extracted the photo for one last comparison before she walked into the salon. It was time to differentiate herself from Kyla. No one ever won by imitating the competition.

They both had long blond hair, maintained to the limit of everything that overpriced beauty products could achieve. Jane's brown eyes probably counted against her, compared to Kyla's big blue over-mascara'd versions. But those blue eyes were set in a pudgy, chocolate-box face of the type that would age into wrinkles the day Kyla turned fifty. Or maybe forty.

How could he ignore Jane's infinitely superior bone architecture? Those high cheekbones? That well-sculpted nose, neither overlong nor nauseatingly cute and buttonish? Jane (thought Jane) would be beautiful into her eighties, long after Kyla had collapsed like an aging Halloween pumpkin.

Feh. Who needed him anyway? Maybe it was time for a pixie-cut. And she'd always wanted to try being a redhead.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vignette: Murder Mystery Scrap

Emily died at twenty minutes to midnight, the last Friday in April. And I could have prevented it, just by inviting her in.

I don't mean that her death was my fault. It was the fault of the man that broke into her apartment at three o'clock that afternoon. He spent almost nine hours there. According to the police, he used the toilet once, ate a bowl of cereal, and watched Breakfast at Tiffany's on her DVD player. He didn't bother to turn the television off when he left after shooting Emily once in the head. I'm never going to feel the same way about Audrey Hepburn again.

Emily knocked on my door at eleven o'clock that night. She didn't ask to stay. She never asked for anything, and that's why she died. If she'd just said, "I'm afraid to go home. Can I stay here tonight?" she'd still be alive.

Instead, she said, "I made it after all!" Standing on my doorstep, beaming and benificent and, as always, perfectly pressed.

Emily's perfectly pressed state always annoyed me. It annoyed me all the more at that hour, when any normal human woman wearing a linen sheath should be draped in a network of wrinkles. So I just looked at her, until she started to wilt.

She tried again. "To go through your wardrobe. Remember? We talked about it."

I didn't step back from the doorway. "We didn't talk about it. You said that I needed to get a wardrobe consultant if I ever wanted to break into management. Which I don't."

Emily laughed. Her laugh, well-modulated and synthetically sweet, annoyed me almost as much as her unwrinkled state. "Oh, I know, I know, you don't want to put me to any trouble. But what are friends for? I thought we'd have a slumber party - we could go through all your clothes, figure out some outfits, and maybe I could help you with your makeup."

I'd been reading about boundaries, and I set one. I didn't let her in, not for the "slumber party", not for a cup of coffee, not even when she asked to use the bathroom. I told her that the apartment and I weren't ready for entertaining, and I sent her on her way. The police came four hours later to tell me that she was dead.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

NaNoWriMo: Fifteen Thousand!

So, this year I'm ahead of schedule on NaNoWriMo. I've reached 15,500 words, which is where I should be on the ninth.

But I don't actually like many of the words. Or the plot. Or the setting. And aside from Henry and perhaps Drusilla, I'm a little dubious about the characters. Hannah in particular is really starting to annoy me, and not only because her age keeps changing. Oh, and that licorice mouse is severely lacking in personality. And why does Drusilla's home look exactly like the evil covered pony-cart that dropped Henry into the ocean?

Um. Ok. I'll get a grip and emerge from the surreal. My point is that while I don't expect to get even a first rough draft of a novel out of NaNoWriMo, I want to accomplish something. By this many words last year, I'd broken through much of my problem with writing dialogue. A few thousand words later, I'd created Henry, the first male character that I'd ever been able to empathize with from the inside, as opposed to just painting from the outside.

This year, I don't see that I've accomplished much. I've decided that after I kill off fifty thousand words, I'm going to immediately try to form a habit of writing two hundred words of more carefully crafted fiction every day. But what about during the fifty thousand?

I'll keep writing. Maybe it'll come to me soon.

Image: By AzaToth. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vignette: Motives

(This one's probably only comprehensible to some of the folks currently in the throes of NaNoWriMo.)

"Sure. That doesn't mean that you need to take up sculpting ice cream. It probably doesn't pay very well. And you probably need a freezer to do it in."

"Sounds like a cold job."

"You talk about sculpting ice cream and it didn't immediately occur to you that it would be a cold job?"


"Eat the ice cream."

"Have you heard of that fourth wall thing?"

"Fourth wall?"

"It's where a fictional story acknowledges that it's fictional. I think it's originally a theater metaphor. The theater has three walls, and the fourth wall is the audience. So to "break the fourth wall" is to address the audience. I think. Something like that."

"What if the audience addresses the actors? Does that break the fourth wall?"

"Only if the actors answer. The actors control the fourth wall. It's only broken if they're aware."

"And how is this relevant to our current discussion?"

"Well, we're talking endlessly about ice cream. On and on and on. And it's November. That doesn't tell you anything?"

Image: By Lumen GmbH. Wikimedia Commons.

NaNoWriFragment: It's Getting Surreal Already

Then the candy blew. Lemon drops flew apart in a thousand yellow-tinted sparkles of crunchy sugar. Licorice unfurled as if the separate strands had been sprung steel twisted to the limit of its tolerance. Turkish Delight became flying squashy missiles, hitting hard enough to chip more glass out of the window. Chocolate bubbled like lava. The licorice mice fled for their lives. And the clerk chased Henry and Hannah with a stack of glass jar-lids.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.