Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Fought The Fruit Flies (And The Fruit Flies Won)

The gnats have been upgraded to fruit flies. I wish they were vegetable flies, since I eat a lot more fruit than vegetables.

My garbage can (recently renamed Cujo) remains in exile on my patio. My cutting board, aka Fruit Fly Riviera, is on the patio as well. My fruit is in the currently uninfested refrigerator.

I gave in to the dark side and bought insecticide, some organic stuff that guarantees if it poisons me to death, I'll die green. The best I can say for it (and this is no small thing) is that it's not a fruit fly aphrodisiac. Although I do worry about its logo: Be Fruit Fly And Multiply. But since I can't be trusted with anything that sprays, my kitchen walls are now permanently discolored.

I'm never getting my security deposit back so what do I care.

Scooter is out of sorts because I held off giving him his canned cat food yesterday. Today I fed him but he's still out of sorts because the fruit flies like canned cat food almost as much as he does.

My mother is sort of in sorts. She seems to be accepting the nursing home fairly well. Yesterday (and I was there to witness it), a physical therapist came in just as she was being served lunch, to tell her he'd be in after she'd eaten to take her to exercise. My mother informed him it wasn't good to exercise after eating. I gather she convinced him and she was spared the ordeal of getting up out of her chair and walking.

As you can tell from my complete (and unusual) inability to answer any of your comments, I remain frazzled and unproductive. In theory I'm going to start writing again today. I also have some fantasies of throwing out the garbage bag and giving Cujo a massive scrubbing. I think I'll try to smuggle my cutting board into the dishwasher. Maybe the fruit flies will follow it there and get scrubbed out of existence.

The best thing about this July is tomorrow it will be August!

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Mother Sums It All Up

I got to the hospital just as my mother was being taken from her room to the nursing home. I hadn't realized it would happen quite as early as it did, and I'd spent a lot of time chatting with the gnats (who are still there and send their regards).

My mother was a bit peeved about the whole business, especially since I hadn't been there to explain what was going to happen. She looked at the men who were transporting her and said, "Well the first hundred years were nice!"

The Shade Of The Mother Trumps The Shade Of The Moon

But before I get to that, does anyone know a system for ridding a kitchen of gnats?

I don't know for sure they're gnats- that's my generic term for little nuisancy insects that have a particular fondness for fruit salad. They've been hanging out in my garbage can, so I moved my garbage can to my patio this morning, hoping they'd take the hint, but now there are scores of them hovering around in my kitchen. I suppose I could spray them to death with insecticide, but I'm reluctant to do that.

Hold on. I'm going to try spraying them with white vinegar. Worse comes to worst, I can eat them in a salad...

Well, that's not going to make it to Helpful Hints From Heloise, but I have to admit it was the best time I've had in a while.

In my book Kid Power, Janie has to get rid of Japanese beetles (has their name been changed to something less nation specific?), so she tries a trick I learned in Women's Day or Family Circle- taking some canned fruit and putting it in a bowl and then putting the bowl in a bigger bowl of water. The idea is the beetles get drunk on the fruit and keel over into the water and drown.

I actually tried it once, several years after the book was published. Not a single beetle fell for the trick (I guess they'd read Kid Power), but a number of wasps did. I have a live and let live attitude towards wasps and hornets, so I felt kind of bad about that.

It's lunchtime too, but I don't feel like making anything with dozens of gnats looking over my shoulder. Le hungry sigh.

It's been a difficult week even without the gnat invasion. My mother and I spent five relatively pleasant hours in the emergency room Monday night, and she's been in the hospital ever since. She's getting released this afternoon and will go to the nursing home where she spent some time this past fall. She likes it there a lot, so that's a good thing. As best we can figure out, her blood pressure spiked which started the problems and then the hospital made her sicker (as is their wont).

My brother spent Wednesday in the hospital with her so I could get some work done, but I didn't. There were too many phone call interruptions. So I've left all your comments unanswered, although believe me, I read each and every one of them and appreciated each and every one of them.

I did figure out a slightly new direction for The Shade Of The Moon, but I got an email from Princess Summerfallwinterspring last night saying she wasn't feeling well. If she doesn't make a miraculous recovery, I won't be able to consult with her, and might actually have to plot the book on my own. Which doesn't seem fair, all things considered.

On two very different subjects (intended to distract you from my confession that I haven't been working), Scooter makes a special guest star appearance over here, and The New York Times has an interesting article about the effect of e-books on paperbacks.

I suppose I should see what the gnats and my mother are up to. Maybe one or the other will take over writing my book for me!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Shade Of The Moon Is Right On Schedule

I'm confident I'll meet the August 43rd deadline.

That's Aug. 43, 2011 for all you doubters out there.

There's been no end to the obstacles in my path. The Evil Murdoch Clan forced me to spend an entire day watching CNN International (Parliament committee meeting rooms remind me a lot of the local school board meeting rooms from the days when I used to watch local school board meetings on TV, albeit not on CNN International). My mother has entered the Misplacing Years, so I've had to make the occasional trip over to her apartment to locate her hearing aid and the suchlike. Even though my apartment has central air conditioning, I still had to take time off to ponder the sweltering heat outside. And I've had to nurse my modest one game winning streak on Free Cell solitaire.

Saturday evening, when I was pondering the inevitability of folding my laundry, I had one of those ZOWIE! realizations that force freelance children's book writers to rethink everything (or worse still, to fold their laundry). To use the term Shakespeare popularized in his memoirs (My Days And Nights With Queen Elizabeth The 1st, available only at Borders Bookstores), I've been plowing my way through this ding dong manuscript, occasionally leaving massive gaps when there's a scene to be written that might actually take energy and brain cells (both better spent on Free Cell Solitaire). There were (well, technically are, since I haven't written any of them yet) three of those scenes yet to be begun, except in my mind, where they're just about all written, and not for the first time I regret that no one's invented a way to get words directly from brain to book while skipping all the intermediary steps.

My ZOWIE! realization was that after those three big energy scenes are completed, there are no more big energy scenes left in the entire book as currently plotted, which means a handful of more discerning readers might find the final fifty or so pages a complete anti-climax.

Okay. More than a handful. More like everybody.

Now personally I have nothing against an anti-climax if I'm the one doing the writing, but I am sensitive to the wishes and needs of all humanity (except the Evil Murdoch Clan and maybe some members of a political party that shall remain nameless because the very thought of them gives me hives and I don't want them to have the satisfaction of seeing my skin all blotchy, although now that I think about it blotchy skin is probably an excellent reason not to get any work done), and all humanity writing reviews of my masterwork casually mentioning that the final fifty pages or so are completely, totally, and irrevocably anti-climactic might not be beneficial to my future royalty checks.

Fortunately for me, folding my laundry provided quite a wonderful distraction, and I didn't bother thinking about those final fifty pages for a happy day or so.

But last night I thought I really should solve this problem, because I only have so much laundry to do at any one time, and the Evil Murdoch Clan is laying low (and lying high). So I did what any sensible writer would do. I called in the reinforcements.

I happen to have a very close friend who I consult on occasion when a plot is giving me woe. Since I have enormous respect for her as a person, but not so much respect for her right to privacy, I'm going to call her by her actual name, Princess Summerfallwinterspring.

I called Princess Summerfallwinterspring and told her the basic idea of The Shade Of The Moon, leaving out only the witty repartee on Pages 12-13, so she'll have something to look forward to when she reads it. I explained the three big scenes and the ZOWIE! concerns. I told her of my inchoate whatevers (inchoate is such a fabulous word, but I have no idea how to use it in a sentence), and how I was willing (more than willing, maybe even salivating with willingness) to dump one of the three big scenes, in exchange for a super big scene at the very end of the book.

Princess Summerfallwinterspring (or Princess Summerfallwinter as she's known to her closest of closest friends) listened, pondered, and solved. She led me, kindly, patiently, and on her phone bill, to a final scene that has a lot of stuff happening in it, plus that emotional resonance I'm such a sucker for.

It's still not 100% formulated in my mind, but then again I probably won't write it until August 35th at the earliest.

And when I woke up this morning, I completely changed one of the remaining two big energy and brain cell draining scenes, so it's a good thing I never wrote a single word in either of them since I'd have to rewrite it anyway. I guess the Evil Murdoch Clan was good for something.

For those of you who are still interested in what I have to say (Hi Mom!), there's a new interview with me at The Gatekeepers Post, which is a very interesting place with or without interviews with me.

I'm off to play another round of Free Cell Solitaire, to see if I can keep my winning streak from falling into negative numbers. I promise to blog again before July 39th!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Spoiler Solution Is Safe For Spoiler Avoiders To Read

Not perhaps the slickest of blog entry titles, but I wanted everyone to know it's safe.

I wasn't sure how to put spoilers for The Shade Of The Moon where folks who wanted to read them could and folks who didn't wouldn't run into them.

And then I remembered, I had an entire blog for This World We Live In that I haven't used since This World We Live In got published. Blogspot with its infinite generosity didn't care what became of it.

So if you follow this link you'll find a blog entry with 5 (count 'em 5)plot-explaining spoilers (really mostly about who the characters are), plus an explanation of how and why I wrote Chapter 28 of The Shade Of The Moon plus Chapter 28 itself.

And if you don't follow the link, you can remain pure and unspoiled.

Comments can be left over there, and I will be reading them. But I don't see using that blog for anything more than this single entry. It's time consuming enough writing The Shade Of The Moon, not to mention getting Scooter to pose for all those lovely pictures.

For those of you who go over and read, I hope you like the direction The Shade Of The Moon is taking. For those of you who don't, it's a pleasure and a joy to have you here anyway!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

All The News That's Fit To Paw

I haven't gotten very much work done the past two days. Yesterday I watched Parliament hearings on the various Murdochs and their evil minions, and today, well I'm sure I have an equally good excuse why I didn't get much done today.

Meanwhile Scooter has taken to reading the New York Times. He thought this article was the cat's pajamas.

I'll be posting tomorrow with the brilliant spoiler solution. But now I must go back to not working!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Four Six Eight I Think I'll Hyperventilate

I'm taking the day off from writing The Shade Of The Moon, which isn't the same as taking the day off from thinking about The Shade Of The Moon, which is what I really need.

I am definitely overinvolved. It's pretty much all I think about, and when I'm not writing it, I actually want to be writing it. Yesterday I wrote in the morning with every intention of taking the rest of the day off, and then in the evening I wrote a short transitional scene. After supper. When I had no business working.

The book is about 200 pages, the about being significant, because roughly 160 pages are the first 160 pages, and the other 40 pages are out of sequence waiting to be put in place (after some already decided upon revisions). I still don't know how long the book will end up being, but I'm determined to have the first draft completed by August 7, then take a week off, and then do the rewrites/revisions until they're finished (more than 10 minutes, probably fewer than 10 days).

One thing I realized yesterday was because I'm hyperinvolved and working like a maniac, I'm going to really crash when the book is finished and sent off. Not that there won't be other work to do on it, after my editor works her magic. But I'll still be leaving the world of post-moon society, and more to the point, I'll be leaving the world of writing 6 days a week and thinking 7 days a week, and obsessing 8 or 9 days a week (some weeks I take a day off).

I'd say I'll never ever agree to such a tight deadline again and/or never ever agree to spending an entire summer writing a book again, but after this one is done I am absolutely determined to be retired, and will never ever write another book again, so there's no reason to make such firm and decisive resolutions.

Write/Crash/Retire. Except for the Crash part, it sounds good to me.

Meanwhile, here's a lovely blog review of Blood Wounds.

Hmm... Blood Wounds comes out in September. Maybe it'll keep me from crashing!

ETA: I put in a quick three day poll on whether I should do a blog entry with some spoilers. Majority rules.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pracuję, pracuję

For those of you who don't speak Polish (moi aussi), that means I'm working; I'm working, at least according to Google Translations, which was very excited to see me put something other than German in their translation box.

My agent informed me on Monday that in addition to the wonderful good news of the starred Publishers Weekly review for Blood Wounds (always worth a link), we had sold the Polish publication rights for Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and This World We Live In (aka, to me at least, the moon books).

This means the following countries either know now or will someday learn that Lisa is pregnant:

The US of A
The British Empire Past and Present
Somewhere in China

All of them except Denmark bought the rights to all three books, which means I'll be getting 15 more of the moon books in their various languages over the years. I don't actually have room for 15 more books (not to mention Blood Wounds, which will most likely come out in paperback at some point, which'll mean 17 rather than 15), but as my mother is wont to say, this should be the worst problem I ever have.Of course my mother also says I should move into a bigger apartment so there'll be room for the Buxtehuder Bulle when I carry it back from Germany.

Speaking of Lisa being pregnant, I really have been working on The Shade Of The Moon, in which the result of Lisa's pregnancy is a fairly important character. In fact, today while exercycling to the 2002 US National Figure Skating Championships Without Sound (Evan Lysacek came in 12th but they didn't show him on TV), I figured out why Gabe is behaving the way he is. Okay, the real reason why is Because I Said So, but it helps if the motivation is a little clearer than that to the putative readers (or at least my editor). And poof! right in the middle of Matt Savoie's freeskate, I worked it out.

As it happens, because this is summertime when no rightminded freelance children's book writer should be working, I'm letting myself write The Shade in any old order I want. So the first 80 pages give or take are written, but yesterday I skipped way ahead to write a section I didn't even know was going to exist the day before yesterday, and today I'm going to keep going on that section, and then when I return to writing on Friday, return to page 81 give or take. I shudder to think how many pages there'll be between page 81 and the section I'm currently working on.

Speaking of shuddering, my mother who is getting wittier and meaner as she approaches her very own Big 100, said it was perfectly all right for me to be working all summer because my apartment is air conditioned.

She's right about that in English and 7 other languages!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yippee! A Starred Publishers Weekly Review For Blood Wounds!

This is the first review for Blood Wounds and it's a beauty.

Not to mention that shiny red thing on the top certainly looks like a star to me!

Here's the part my publisher will be delighted to quote (me too; I'll be quoting it for days to come):

This intense psychological drama, showing the brightest and darkest sides of humanity, offers remarkable acts of courage and disturbing images of domestic violence. Willa's frankly portrayed grief, confusion, and uncertainties will have a strong impact on readers.

I think I'll spend the rest of the day smiling!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who Knew A Blimp Could Type

I put a lot of effort in this blog and that includes the titles. I want you to know I considered Who Knew A Blimp Could Type? and Who Knew A Blimp Could Type! before settling on the unpunctuated version.

This blimp business is brought about because yesterday I went to get the mail and I saw the Goodyear Blimp flying overhead (as opposed to flying underfoot, but I have a true appreciation for descriptive cliches, because I don't like to write description, and a little help is always appreciated).

Since I am now getting the hang of Twitter, I tweeted about this, and by golly, this morning I found that the Goodyear Blimp itself had tweeted back an explanation (it was going home after a visit to ESPN, which is a couple of hours away as the crow flies).

Anyway, I was delighted that the Goodyear Blimp had bothered to tweet back, so I tweeted my thanks, and by golly the sweet blimp tweeted me right back.

I tell you, we got quite the thing going. And if I don't lose some weight, we could wear matching outfits when I go get my Buxtehuder Bullen Award.

In addition to my romance with the Goodyear Blimp, I also have a book going. I'm on page 60, which would be more impressive (to me at least) if it weren't for the fact I'd already written about 30 of those 60 pages. All of which, except for page 1, I've had to rewrite, so it's almost like writing them from scratch. Or so I tell myself. I have another 30 or so already written pages, waiting to be slotted into place, and then I have to do actual original writing, which may or may not go faster but the smart money is on or not.

When I'm not writing, I'm dealing with mother stuff (I don't suppose you know where she put her keys) or friend stuff or waiting for Derek Jeter to get his 3000th hit stuff (I feel ever more wistful that he didn't get it at the game Todd Strasser and I went to), and now, of course, blimp stuff. All of which use up a lot of energy, most likely better spent on page 61 and all the pages thereafter.

Or maybe I should just ask the blimp to write the book, after it finds my mother's keys!

ETA a couple of hours later: I forgot to tell you I changed Mom reading The Great Gatsby for the 20th time to Mom reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the 20th time. Thanks to all of you who made suggestions on what books Mom would insist on having to keep civilization alive!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

You Read I'll Write (At Least That's The Plan)

I'm back at work on The Shade Of The Moon. My brain is racing with ideas for new and revised material. My fingers, alas, aren't in nearly as much of a hurry. But I did get a fair amount done yesterday, and as long as I keep getting a fair amount done, I should finish the thing fair and square.

Meanwhile, although I've pretty much given up reading for the duration, I have a couple of things to recommend to you to read.

The first, and shorter by far, is an article in today's New York Times about families and all their new variants. I found this article particularly interesting because first of all, I'm a total sucker for families in any variety imaginable, and secondly because I have a friend of a friend whose family is constructed in one of the more contemporary fashions (not a variant covered in this article), and thirdly because a lot of what Blood Wounds is about is the way families exist and co-exist these days. Note what a strong and healthy ego I have, to link to Blood Wound's pushing into 2,000,000 number on Amazon. I'm simply telling myself the number will become more respectable (and less like my weight) closer to publication date.

Speaking of publication, the next link is going to take you to a whole other place, an ebook of an amazing book called ThThe Art Of The American Soldier. Because it is an actual book (unfortunately, in my opinion, available only online), it takes a while to download, but it's well worth the time and effort. Feel free to share the link with anyone you think would be interested. It's patriotism at its best.

I will now resume procrastination at its best. A game or two of Solitaire should get my fingers ready to write!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

He Specializes In Character Development And Annuals

I decided to get a brand new grip on The Shade Of The Moon by writing out its sequence of events on index cards.

Scooter gave the matter some thought.

But then he realized it was far too nice a day to be working.

Why, he pondered, would anyone choose to be indoors on such a lovely day?

No matter. There are impatiens plants to be tended to.

Happy Holiday Weekend everyone. I'll be the one sitting at the computer, turning index cards into fiction!