Chasing Caviar with a Double Shot of Gin Killed My Stomach

National Novel Writing Month last year was a hoot.

I remember the experience being frustrating, but I had a blast. I wrote Christopher De Voss into my book as zombie actor, Chris De Floss. When Susan and Darby ordered a pizza, they asked for the toppings from one of David Harding’s real-life pizzas. Two photographs of a fellow blogger were described as paintings in the book. They are hanging in a fictional gallery on Rush Street in Chicago. I used elements from a pulp fiction story in the book, and the cover is fabulously cheesy with a man in a gorilla head mask. I think it all turned out great. Image

National Novel Writing Month this year? Blech.

Before I could start my new book, I simply had to finish Maple Leaf Hunter. I wrote over 27,000 words from the first of the month to the tenth. After that, I did a little editing, suffered distractions from family members, and finally started writing for NaNo on the 18th.

The new book is a humorous murder mystery. I love my opening line:
Chasing caviar with a double shot of gin killed my stomach.

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You can’t beat a murder in the first sentence, and I was off and running. I raced the clock for the next thirteen days and finished with only a few hours to spare at 52,677 words.

For the first time ever, I wrote without editing, and the book is a mess! There are a ton of crossed out words and sentences that need rewritten. I didn’t research as I wrote, and there are numerous details to look up and fill in.

I generally do most of my writing after 7:00 at night. In the morning, I read what I wrote the night before and clean it up. By the time I’m writing again, I know my book is in pretty good shape, and I’m in the right mindset for going forward.

I took the time to edit the first chapter of my new NaNo book. The word count went down by 735 words! Yikes!

So how are things in your neck of the woods?

See You Later, NaNoWriMo

ImageAhh, National Novel Writing Month, you are here once again.

I signed up for the writing marathon this year, but I’m somewhat second guessing that decision today. I’m not usually one to set myself up for failure.

My first day of NaNo last year was spent chasing squirrels, and I logged a big fat zero for word count. Each day I fell farther behind, and by Thanksgiving, I was ready to throw in the towel. But then it clicked, and the words poured out onto the keyboard. I wrote 22,000 words over the next four days. I finished Windy City Hunter on November 26, and I published the book on December 21. I was proud to grab my first NaNoWriMo badge.

So why not do the same thing this year?

Because Susan Hunter is still in Canada, that’s why. When I last saw Imageher around three a.m. this morning, she was fishing for muskie. It’s going to take a while yet to get her back home.

Maple Leaf Hunter is the one book I promised for 2013, and not only do I want to keep my promise, I want to finish the book. It’s shaping up to be a lot of fun, and there’s a Sasquatch (my brothers will be delighted). With over 20,000 words yet to write, I’m going to go into November with Susan Hunter. When the book is finished, I’ll take a day or two to make an editing pass, and then I’ll set it aside and move on to NaNo.

The book I intend to write for NaNo is Murder is Where the Heart Is, the second book in the Two Sisters and a Journalist series. I only have the bare bones of the story in my mind, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of penning 50,000 words toward it in November. I’m not confident about reaching the goal, but I’m not defeated before I start either.

So, I’ll see you later NaNoWriMo. Probably around November 10.

If you are participating, are you ready?

A Banner Day

Rich is on vacation this week, so we went to the dump today. If you’ve never been to the dump, it’s liberating and even kind of fun.

We have a spare room upstairs that has been a catch-all for many years. Today was the day to get rid of the junk. Rich backed the truck up below the window, and we threw stuff out and into the bed of the truck. The sound of breaking glass was exhilarating. Legal destruction. Computers, monitors, a television … these were the fun things to pitch. Bags of superfluous junk, boxes, old business records? Throw them out the window! I asked Rich if he felt like David Letterman.

I think we’ll go again tomorrow.

The dump (or the landfill if you are more refined) wasn’t the best thing about today. Take a good look at this picture:

ImageAhhh … the perfect set up for a perfect evening. Today was not a day for the new way of eating. I’ve lost 52 pounds since the beginning of June, and I feel great, but this was a treat day. Yes, that’s a fortune cookie from the Hunan Chicken for dinner. And that’s a high-powered Cola-Cola. Oh my gosh! Caffeine and chemicals taste sooo good! The vintage ashtray filled with peanut butter M&M’s? That’s a gift from hubby. You bet I won’t hold back on those.

So here I sit … on my new deck … happy as a clam and ready to write for the evening. The locust noise has reached about 150 decibels, but I can live with that. It’s a beautiful evening with the temperature at 70 degrees. Justin Timberlake is singing Mirrors on the iPhone, Rich is in a chaise next to me, and the dog is hunkered down beside him. All is right with the world.

I’ve been writing quite a bit lately. I’ve had a hard time not feeling guilty because Susan Hunter has taken a back seat, but I have to write what has been filling my mind – and that is my new series, Two Sisters and a Journalist. … Synopsis: Jo Ravens stumbles across (well, actually she crashes a bicycle on) a murdered girl. It’s the fifth body she’s found in two years. She solved two of the previous murders with the help of her sister, Pepper, and her friend, Jackie (the journalist). Jo enlists them once again to help solve the murder of Peaches, a prostitute from Pittsburgh. Things get a little creepy for Jo when the dead girl comes to her in dreams.

Of course, there is some humor, because I’m simply not that serious. The first few chapters have been run by my mother and my sister, and both have given the book two thumbs up. I’m to the halfway mark at about 25,000 words. I’d like to finish this book within two weeks and then go right to finishing my Susan Hunter book. My goal is to have both ready to publish by the end of October. After that, I’m considering something I said I would never do again – National Novel Writing Month. I can write book number two in the new series in November. I think that sounds like a plan.

I’m taking time this weekend to read blogs, so I’ll be by to see you soon. What’s the number one thing I’ve missed with you while I’ve been gone? If you’re writing, how are things going? Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you had any M&M’s lately?

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Almost done! We still need skirting around the bottom, handrails on the steps, and the two boulders to the right need to be hauled away – to a dump! The gate at the top of the stairs keeps the dog in and strangers out.

He’s Baaack!

ImageNational Novel Writing Month, you have been conquered. My book is finished, and I’m four days early. Whoo-hoo! I finished at 8:42 p.m., and the final word count is 52,452.

Considering I’m easily distracted, I’m proud of my achievement, and the book is quite entertaining, if I do say so myself. I think this calls for a celebratory interview about the book. My favorite interviewer just happened to be nearby when I stuck my head out the back door and whistled down the street. He’s settled at the kitchen table with me now.

Cranky Interviewer:  I thought I told you not to call me when you finished this book.

Me:  There was no one else available, and I’m excited to get the news out.

C.I.:  Just so we’re clear, I want cash this time. … The title is Windy ImageCity Hunter, right? Was it windy?

Me:  Yes, Windy City Hunter, because the setting is Chicago, and of course it was windy. Chicago in December two weeks before Christmas? It was near-blizzard conditions at times.

C.I.:  Well, let’s cover the important stuff first. How many bags of m&m’s did you go through?

Me:  Two and three quarters.

C.I.  You’re kidding, right? That’s nearly 400 m&m’s!

Me:  They inspire me.

C.I.  How many beginnings, middles, and endings are in this tripe, er, I mean this stunning masterpiece of fiction?

Me:  Why do you always have to be such a wise guy? You know my writing is light, breezy, and easy to read. My books are entertaining and a good escape for a day or two. You should try one. To answer your question, there are three beginnings, three middles, and three endings.

C.I.:  You’re kidding, right? You convoluted this book, too?

Me:  It’s not convoluted. There’s a murder, a mystery, and a sort of mystery/puzzle thing going on. I gave that a beginning, middle, and ending, too. I didn’t want to leave any loose ends.

C.I.:  I hate to ask the next question, but everyone is going to want to know. How many exclamation points?

Me:  You will be happy to know there are only 83 exclamation points in this book.

C.I.:  Jeez Louise, will you never learn? … What’s this I hear about zombies? How could you possibly incorporate zombies into one of your fluffy books?

Me:  They were on television. Susan was greatly affected.

C.I.:  Oh, for crying out loud. You’ve been hyping zombies for weeks, and now you’re telling me they were on television. You’re killing me here! … Does Susan cry very much in this book? Why does she cry so much?

Me:  Of course she cries a lot in this book. She’s sensitive and emotional, but she laughs a lot, too.

C.I.:  How about a quick synopsis?

Me:  Sure. Susan and Darby are in Chicago to compete in a cooking competition. They stay in ImageDarby’s Uncle’s condo, and shortly after they arrive, a tenant is murdered. One of them, Darby or Susan, I’m not telling you which, is eventually suspected of the murder and ends up in jail. So, you see, it doesn’t matter which side of the bars Susan ends up on, she’s upset and crying.

C.I.:  Where’s Mick during this crisis.

Me:  He’s in England. He doesn’t have much of a role in this book.

C.I.:  There are rumors that your blogging has seeped into your writing. Are some of your blogging buddies going to be embarrassed by what you’ve done to them?

Me:  Oh, you bet! There will be acknowledgements in the back to thank one awesome guy for allowing me to seriously abuse him, and I described the photos of another blogger as artworks in a gallery. That was very cool.

C.I.:  You’re going to get sued, you know. … When are you going to publish Windy City Hunter?

Me:  I’m not going to rush it. I want to be careful with the editing, and I have to give my niece time to do the cover, so I’ll probably publish in January. It would have been a neat accomplishment to publish five books in one year, but I’ll settle for having written five in one year.

C.I.:  Yeah, whatever. … Last question. Will there be another Susan Hunter book after this one?

Me:  Of course! I don’t have a working title yet, but I know Susan is going to be writing children’s picture books in the next book. I’ve had a few suggestions so far: Zombie Hunter, Flushing Hunter, and Rat Hunter (thanks, guys!).

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Cranky Interviewer Dude

C.I.:  I’m outta here. Good job on that NaNoRhinoceros thing or whatever it was you just did. I’m not interested in your next book at all. I hate kids. Please don’t call me.

Me:  Ok. Toodles!

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Vacation, Writing, and An Aussie

My husband says his vacation is technically over, but I still consider this weekend to be the last two days of his vacation.

I thought about doing a Christmas song post like this: On the First Day of Vacation, My True ImageLove Gave to Me … a rude awakening to the sound of a saw. Not a manly man chainsaw like a burly woodcutter in plaid would use in the forest, but a Sawzall with its weenie little sound. He was outside and finally cleaning up the large tree branches from the wind storm a few weeks back. I made my way downstairs, opened the back door, leaned out to give him a thumbs-up and said, “You go girl!”

But the rest of the days sort of blur together, and I don’t remember what day he slept on the sofa all day so I could write. Or what day he went to the grocery store for me so I could write. Or when he cleaned the kitchen and then cleaned out the junk drawers. He ground up dried jalapeno peppers in the coffee grinder and filled a spice jar for me with “jalapeno dust.” I also noticed the fried microwave disappeared. He kept me supplied with chocolate.

On Wednesday, he took a drive up north and picked up my mother. Then he came back for me (because I am not riding 60 minutes round trip listening to those two moan andImage complain!). We went to Warther’s Museum to see the Christmas tree displays. Local businesses set up trees, sell them, and the proceeds support the local hospital. Mooney Warther was “the world’s master carver,” and we always enjoy the time spent in the museum – Christmas trees or not.  Afterward, the three of us had lunch together. It was a nice day.

I’m still slogging away at writing my book for National Novel Writing Month, but I’m woefully behind. I’ve broken the rules of the experts, and I’ve taken the time to read what I’ve already written. I’ve also done some editing, and I’ve rewritten a few passages. Sue me. As of this post, I’m at 20,894 words. Unbeknownst to my husband, I’m going to continue to slip Nyquil to him so he’ll sleep all weekend so I can write.

I haven’t been able to keep up with blogs very well, but I will catch up soon. There is one blog I must point out to you today. David Harding is a teacher and an author of children’s books. He lives in Australia, and he recently had a blog post entitled, How to Talk Like Me. It was a hoot, and I suggested he do a video explaining the rules Imageto his favorite game, Gorilla Dice, so we could actually hear him speak … and he did! He titled it, Me Talking Like Me. I’ve watched this thing at least a half dozen times already, and I still laugh when I watch it. There isn’t sound for a few seconds, so be patient and watch with amazement as he affixes a moustache to his face for Movember. If you haven’t already clicked one of the links for him, click this one and go see David and follow him. 🙂

National Novel Writing Month – Day One

Thursday, November 1, 2012

9:00 a.m. – Drag myself out of bed after six and a half hours of sleep. Brrr. It’s cold. Remind myself to find the time to work on clothes warming invention before it gets really cold.Image

9:30 a.m. – Take out dog. Make a cup of cocoa. Clean off my desk in preparation for big writing day.

10:00 a.m. – Show up at a blog and drop a haiku. Mess around reading blogs for a while, write and send an email.

12:00 – Surf websites looking for floor map of condo in Chicago. Walk around the streets of Chicago with Google Street View. Oh, look! A squirrel! Make myself stop surfing clothing stores and go back to condos. Zillow sucks me in, and I shop for my own condo.

1:30 p.m. – Finally have floor plan, room samples, and list of condo amenities. Crap! There’s no paper in the printer and none in the house.

1:45 p.m. – Play a few rounds of computer game.

3:00 p.m. – Drop a comment on a blog and leave a typo. It’s a curse. Read more blogs.

4:00 p.m. – Take out dog again. Did he really wait this long to ask to go out? Converse with hubby about dinner. Leftover spaghetti?

4:15 p.m. – Microwave still dead. Pile leftover spaghetti and sauce in baking dish, top with Parmesan cheese, and plop into the oven.

4:30 p.m. – Run to store for chocolate. Pat myself on back for remembering to buy paper.Image

5:15 p.m. – Hubby home. Dinner is good. Spaghetti is always better the next day – or was it from last week?

6:15 p.m. – Crash on sofa in den and play Dr. Mario with hubby. Crank up music and realize Pitbull and Flo Rida both have new songs out. Hubby loving and singing along with new Rihanna tune; I’m not so sure I like it. I am tonight’s champion. Yay!

8:00 p.m. – Back at my desk. Ok, I’m ready to write. Ready, set … oh, look! A squirrel!  Country Music Awards are on.

8:25 p.m. – Text from son; he works afternoons. Haven’t seen him for a while. Decide to run up and see him over his lunch break.

9:30 p.m. – Back home. Country Music Awards are still on. Fast forward to catch up live. Motorboatin’!

11:00 p.m. – Awards over. I can write for a couple of hours now. That’s plenty of time to crank out more than 2,000 words. Commercial comes on for Nashville with that cute girl from Heroes, Hayden Panettiere. Hey, I missed that last night. Find it online to watch missed episode.

Midnight – Nashville over. Take out dog again. Dog goes to bed. Hubby sleeping on sofa. Now I can write!Image

12:10 a.m. – Grab notebook and start handwriting notes for first scene. No actual manuscript writing, but look at me! I’m accomplishing something!

12:15 a.m. – Oh, look! A squirrel! My dvr is recording something. What am I recording now? Check the listing and see Project Runway is recording. Well, I’m not waiting to watch that! It’s the All Stars.

12:30 a.m. – Give up on writing and put together a blog post chronicling first day of NaNoWriMo while I watch Project Runway. After all, this blog was originally intended to track my writing journey.

National Novel Writing Month – Day 1 – Number of words written: ZERO

Blasted squirrels.Image