Dead electronics and the serious writer

static on a laptop screen

Making trade-offs: how being landed in a situation in which my two vital electronic tools go on the fritz at the same time is a strategy. Continue reading

I’ve been eavesdropping at Dunkin Donuts while I work on Stars Fall Out.

The employees behind the counter are practicing saying “Welcome to Dunkin Donuts” in spooky voices.

There’s a job interview going on behind me with illegal interview questions.

9/25 scenes done on Stars. I took a little too long on a scene that I came up with four years ago, and that I’ve been looking forward to writing since June. Here’s the excerpt:

Maps. He had given me a pile of maps.

I angled back to the fire, less awkward now that I wasn’t trying to draw. “But these are beautiful.” More beautiful than they needed to be: the swoops, the lines that ran from thick to thin, brush and ink detailing all the hills and buildings of my home. He had made Nirsuathu a work of art rather than a box wrapped in chains, and he had gotten the whole university, even the planetarium.

I sat there studying it so long that he stopped watching for my reactions and looked awkwardly into the fire.

At last, I held them out to him. “Wait…” I snatched them back, and looked at his work again. “Why did you need me to illustrate your brochure?”

“Funny thing, but I can’t draw a cup.”

Rippling mountains. Layered city blocks and tiny spires, even the bakery and the locksmith next door. Streets colliding, separating, winding, curving in precise lines.

“Oh, come on.”

“Ok, I can draw a cup. I can’t make a printing plate. And I didn’t have the illustrations started yet…”

“So you had me do those too.”

“You do have an excellent eye for detail.”

I tend to go for funnier bits when I post excerpts, but here’s a more emotional snippet from Stars Fall Out. I should probably post more like this, since digging in and writing more emotional scenes has been one of the hallmarks of my writing experience with this book.

I attempted to smooth out the note and prop it on my nightstand.

Tyatavar, it began. Not Dearest Tyatavar, or Dear Tyatavar, as some of our dramatic early correspondences had gone. But the extra greeting was entirely superfluous; he had written it into the letters themselves, in the care he had taken with every stem, loop, and curl in my name.

The note had been written by someone who loved me.

I had crumpled it, and thrown it at the wall in the bakery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU_2R1rjbD8

“Neighborhood #1” is the first Arcade Fire song I ever heard, and it remains my favorite. I always seem to come back to this album during National Novel Writing Month.

Worldbuilding pinch hitters

While writing my secondary world fantasy story, Stars Fall Out, I figuratively referred to a character as a pinch hitter. But in order to have a pinch hitter, you need to have baseball. My options here: A. Delete this line. It’s not that important. B. Find a similar term that… Continue reading

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/18/california-daylight-saving-time-elusive-for-supporters/4001407002/

I consider the twice-per-year clock changes as proof that our government doesn’t work. Almost no one likes the clock changes. The spring clock change correlates with a higher number of car accidents, likely due to tired people. It’s a simple, non-controversial thing that negatively affects daily life.

And we can’t get it changed.

I’d love to see a switch over to permanent Daylight Savings Time. I’m not sure how that would work in the much smaller state where I live, where people cross state borders all the time. It would be ridiculous for Massachusetts to switch without a handful of neighboring states coming along too. Otherwise, everyone who commutes between Rhode Island and Massachusetts, or New Hampshire and Massachusetts, would have to factor in a time change every single day.

I’m here, standing before my ending. I’m shooting to use all this month’s NaNoWriMo energy to push through and finish Stars Fall Out.

Since I’ve been going through the draft and tying off loose ends, I thought I’d finally share some short excerpts as I come across them, and as I write them.

This is from a scene in which my character is interrogated for reasons unknown by the Imperial Oneiromancer Master Zanhrori, although she doesn’t realize this at the time–his demeanor doesn’t match his sinister reputation.

“How do you think you did?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I was kind of… baffled by the whole thing.”

“Baffled,” he said, scrawling the word on the paper underneath my name, as though it were a general description of my state of being. “Excellent. Did you know that a baffle is also a type of dessert?”

“No. I did not.”

“There’s a meringue component.” The man sat back in his chair, appearing distant for a moment. As though contemplating dessert, despite the early morning hour.

I looked up some Charles Darwin quotes for a second Judgmental Advice Column post. Darwin said some wise words in his life, but this is what I found the most relatable:

I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.
Charles Darwin

I’m the only person I know with an English degree who doesn’t enjoy Shakespeare. He’s not my bag. (But, I’ve also realized in hindsight that going to school for English isn’t the best choice I’ve made in my life.)

However, Shakespeare created hundreds of words that we still use, and that’s awesome. I remember learning that he coined “ambiguous.” Athough I haven’t been able to confirm that now, Merriam-Webster does say that the word dates back to the 16th century.

“…hold on to this box, lest the pumpkin goblins grab them all.”

Thus reads the warning at the end of the side-of-box copy on Trader Joe’s Pumpkin-O’s.

Of course, I wrote a book called Pumpkin Goblins, so this was hilarious to me. My partner and I discussed whether we thought the pumpkin goblins would actually steal someone’s Pumpkin O’s. I said, no, they wouldn’t. They’re professionals. They won’t mistake a cereal for a real pumpkin. Pumpkin sense goes deeper than eyesight.

He said, yes, they would, but not when they’re on duty.

The Little Engine That Could is female! And so is the red engine who breaks down on her way to bring toys and food to children. I didn’t remember this book well, so I was surprised to find this out when I started reading it to my toddler.

Incidentally, all three engines who refuse to help are self-important dudes. Well, one of them is actually an old, tired dude. His depression-era exhaustion makes me sad.

It makes me wonder if there is an intentional message hidden in the Dude-Engines’ unwillingness to help with the female task of making sure children are taken care of.