Pages

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Big Push

I think that was the name of one of the campaigns in WWII. History buff, you know. This was my big push, the last full weekend before the end of NaNoWriMo for me. Not that weekends are over, just for November. I wanted to finish the novel I was writing this weekend.
Not even close.
I did good. I think I wrote more words this weekend than ever, and I think it's going to be a long hard edit when I'm done. One of the things that makes it more difficult is the letter A. Like on sesame street. The episode this week is brought to you by the letter A.
My A is broken. The key is loose and I usually have to go back and add more A's after each paragraph, like I'm doing now. It takes time. Little things like that eat time away as fast as anything else. How many A's in that sentence. Can I substitute something else? Hows this. @s I look b@ck on the weekend, I re@alize that I w@s missing something.
No? There's a little A in the center. Not gonna work, huh. Sigh. I asked Santa for a new computer. My poor antique laptop has lasted a long time but I think it's on it's last legs.
Part of that is my fault. Millions of words and who knows how many letters or how many of those letters were A's. Eight novels, one novella, and several starts, outlines and partially finished books all in the memory of this machine, with a full backup on my external hard drive and a few thumb drives. Finished items are burned to disc.
That's a lot of words. That doesn't count the many hours I wrote total drivel while I was practicing my word smithing.
I still need to finish the first draft of the book.
Six days left.
My little laptop is gonna get very tired.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

I'm stuck. I'm writing my book(s) and this blog and making notes on several other books and notes on this and future blogs and I just realized that i haven't actually written anything.
I'm doing stuff for future writing, some editing, (which goes against NaNoWriMo totally!) but I haven't put a word to paper in the continuation of the book to be.
While it is true that it was 7 A.M. and I'd only been home for an hour, I did this yesterday afternoon as well. I need to finish SOMETHING!
Besides my next cup of coffee, that is.
We get stuck doing little things and stop doing the things we were going to do before we got in that rut, and a rut is a grave with open ends. Gotta break out somehow.
So I shut down my laptop. I know. Shutting it off instead of working on the books is sort of counter productive, yes? It does work for me, at times. I did something totally different. I played an old video game on my PS2. No, I don't have a PS3. I  do have FFX,and XII. (I have X-2 but we won't talk about that one) I have Kill all Humans! and God of War, Sonic the Hedgehog and all of the Zenosaga and .hack. I even have Myst III, and have diligently attempted to figure out all the clues, usually taking forever to do so.
I was lacking in play time. I worked, wrote, did the holiday baking and wrote again. My imagination was tired.
I went outside for a few minutes and watered the small garden we have growing. Peppers, one tomato plant, scallions, and herbs, all in pots so we can bring them inside when the weather gets gold or a hurricane approaches.
I talked to a cat who just happened to wonder by to see if I was doing anything of interest. The neighborhood ducks visited for a time, after the cat left. (Yes, real ducks, quacking merrily as they wandered from one pond to the next in our community)
Then I went to bed.
Now, here I am, typing away about stuff I like. The game is till running, just paused, while I helped get the turkey out of the pan to cool before we slice it up and I have another nice hot cup of coffee in front of me.
And I finally finished something.
Gotta go. I have to get to Raithwalls tomb.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rambling

There are so many things I want to do each day. Most are not going to happen, in spite of my wants, because they are just not possible today. I will not climb Fuji San today, because I am on the other side of the world and I have to work tonight. I'm on third shift and getting there and back before starting time would be difficult.
I will not put my foot next to Neil Armstrong's dusty print on the moon, because NASA said no in very unflattering terms. At least, they would have, if I had asked.
I will not win the Miss America contest, even if I wanted to, and I don't, but it would be fun to try. Grins and giggles, you know.
I can have a good cup of coffee. I can eat a slice of banana nut bread, if I hurry. It's going fast. My son came by and carried off a section of the loaf last night.
I can imagine doing almost everything on my bucket list (I really like that term) in my mind and could have my characters do all and more, but I don't.
My books contain limits. They have to, or they would be too boring to read or to write. But I get to pick those limits. I can have wizards, dragons, or send my guy or girl to do those things I want to do. I can have her take on a spiritual quest to meditate atop Fuji San.
I can send him to the moon, or Mars or another universe. As long as I obey reasonable rules.
You can't have a hero or a villain so strong that they are impossible to stop. If they can do anything without blinking an eye, the story is over in a page and a half.
Laws of the universe must be workable. Unlimited energy is nice, but people get tired. They must eat, drink and deal with the byproducts of eating and drinking.They need a toilet or a one-two-three trench and a handful of leaves, but they have needs.
When I was a kid, I thought horses could run as fast as cars and do it for days on end. The bad guys robbed the bank and headed out of town twenty minutes ago, lickity split, hell bent for leather, etc.
The hero and his trusty (non Caucasian and therefore somewhat socially inferior, but lovable and as loyal and dependable as a good dog) sidekick rides in, talks to fifty people, grabs a bite and then leaves. (I never wondered about the sidekick back then. Now I wonder about everything. Why is he or she called a side kick? Why were they always foreign or have a thick and today, obviously fake accent? Why were they socially inferior? They saved your life a hundred and seventy eight times this month ALONE for crying out loud! You should be PROUD to have them get your sister in the family way!) They catch up in three minutes, shoot offhand from running, bouncing and dusty horseback in a gun fight lasting another fifteen minutes, while those magnificent horses are STILL running at full gallop. They  hit every minor gang member, no matter how many there are, from distances bordering on the ludicrous. Oh, yeah. Six guns held forty or more cartridges. You rarely see them reloading. The bad guys do throw their guns when THEY run out of ammo, never bothering to carry any spare rounds with them. Bad guys are always so stupid, you know.
Those kind of shows were fun when I was a kid. Today, they're funny, but not for the same reasons. Today, I know better.
My work must have some limits, unlike my imagination. My weapons are not magicked to flay their opponents without any training or skills on the part of  the user.
My opponents are not one sided, only evil guys and gals. At least I hope not. The crazy ones maybe, but they're crazy. The bad guys want stuff. The good guys want stuff. The victor writes the history so the winners are ALWAYS the good guys after it is all over.
Even magic must have laws to operate. Nothing is unlimited, everything takes energy and skill to use and learning must be done over time, just like we all learned English grammar and how to diagram a sentence. I have no clue why we learned to diagram a sentence, but the teacher seemed to think it was important. I've never needed to do one of those for work or for fun.
Have you ever watched the movie 'Red Planet' with Val Kilmer? I love the line when he is looking for the living module.
'Well, here it is: that time they told us about in high school when math would save our lives'
So cool.

Now you may be asking what the title has to do with any of this. You may not. I just liked it, so I used it. I also tend to write that way. You may have noticed. Sometimes I walk that way, but you can't see that unless you live in Tampa and see me out strolling haphazardly about..
In other news, as you can see from the nice NaNoWriMo word counting thingy, I have reached 50,000 and continue to climb. Months not over yet and it's a MINIMUM of 50 grand on the word count.
 I'm aiming for eighty thousand before I start editing and filling in the blank spots.











Sunday, November 18, 2012

Novel for November

I'm almost done with the first rough (really rough) draft of the next novel, the one I'm doing for NaNoWriMo this month. At least with the fifty thousand words I need to finish the contest. This book will be longer before the month is up, at least seventy thousand words. After that, I start filling in some of the missing pieces, blank spots where I wasn't sure to take the story in this chapter or that one.
After that, it gets less fun. Editing, proofing, spell check. Yeah, spell check should be first you say? I run spell check every time I am ready to save and fix it then and there. The last run is for all the corrections I make due to editing and proofreading.
Sometimes proofreading fixes things that weren't broke. I try to make my characters speak differently from one another. Dialects help do this as does bad grammar and poor use of spelling.
If I have a person from a tiny rural village, he will not sound like the educated and cultured Prince who is in need of a lackey, e.g., the villager. The villager will say something like "We don't need no stuff lak dat, yer durn tooten we don't."
With that sentence, my spell check has highlighted half the sentence.
If I use Word rather than open office, it gets even worse. I have office seven on my other computer and it checks grammar, sentence structure, asks if you have clean socks, everything. It gets overloaded when I use dialects so I have to turn some features off. If I have to turn them off, what's the point of having them, right? (It might get overloaded because my machine in the living room is old and wimpy. Just a thought.)
So I use my open office and finish off the story. The we edit it. Then I run it through the Word program. If I take care of the big stuff, it doesn't get overloaded, not as bad at least. Since I use Smashwords to distribute my books, I have to use Word to fit their requirements anyway.
I prefer my laptop with Linux to the one in the living room, but there are sometimes I still need to use windows. So I keep it for the word processor and the numerous checks it offers.

I baked again yesterday. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin loaf and another loaf of Banana bread. The muffins recipe I got from here:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-muffins-ii/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=pumpkin%20muffin%20ii%20recipe&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page

Yeah, it's long. Cut and paste like I do, or go to allrecipes and look for pumpkin muffins II. Nice collection of other holiday favorites there as well.




Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving

It is upon us! The holiday season is here and I am ready for it! Almost. For Christmas I will be baking cookies, but for Thanksgiving I will be baking bread.
Yes, I bake. You should know that by now, since my last mention of the banana nut bread. It is not a mix, bought from a store shelf, although many of those are really tasty. I mix it from scratch for holidays and for other times when I just feel like it.
My wife suggested a bread machine just the other day and I think it would be a nice idea, on those days I do not feel like kneading bread by hand. Kneading is relaxing in a way, the feel of the stiff dough between your hands, the elasticity growing as you work it and adding the flour, the way the yeast adds to the aroma even before you bake it.
Sourdough is even better, the yeast reaching the pinnacle of glory. The way the bread crusts over in the oven is amazing and so much fun to rip into and devour.
This time my wife asked for the egg braid I have made several times in the past for the holidays. The bread is three kinds, wheat, rye and pumpernickel, rolled into three separate strands and twisted together to form a pleasing pattern and a great taste. I am not sure if the timing is right, since I must work the night before. I work third shift and don't get home till seven A.M. She will be using the oven most of the day, cooking the turkey and that may cause a minor issue. We will see.
Visually, the egg braid is pleasing as well, the three colors forming a checkerboard pattern. Sometimes I add minced jalapeƱo to one of the strands, since my son and I both like the little peppers.
When my son was still small, he hated vegetables. I would bake and he would descend upon the kitchen like Biblical locusts and the bread would disappear. I would mince broccoli and other vegetables and mix them in with the jalapeƱo. He ate it without question, the peppers covering everything else.
It was sneaky but he got his veggies.
If you like to cook or bake, then you can understand my feelings toward this and the special feelings for those treats reserved for the Holidays.
I am including here one of my grandmothers recipes here, I think. it's one we had growing up, one of my favorites that make me think of home and the farm.
After all, writing is so much easier when you have a nice treat beside you, isn't it?

Mamaw's Jam Cake 

Three layers baked at 350 until toothpick comes clean. We never had a timer. We did always grease and flour the pans. The lard came from the hogs out back in the old days and Crisco later. We use Pam these days.

1 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups sugar (granulated)
4 (6) eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (2) tsp cinnamon  (some days my grandmother felt spicier than others and would double the amounts. Suit yourself here)
1 (2) tsp nutmeg
1 (2) tsp allspice
2 tbs cocoa (unsweetened as I recall)
3 (4) cups of all purpose flour (She liked to experiment. I go with 3 1/2)
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (chopped)
(1 cup dried cranberries - My addition, not in the original)
2 cups jam (She made her own jam and used raspberry or boysenberry jam)
1 small can of crushed pineapple, drained

 Combine butter, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, soda, powder, and spices. Mix well.
Then add cocoa. Blend in the flour, jam and pineapple. Stir in nuts, raisins and dried cranberries. Pour into pans already prepared and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Frosting

1 stick butter
1 box lt brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in pan. add lt brown sugar and let boil for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk, stirring constantly and vigorously (NO splashing! It hurts!) until it returns to a boil. Remove from heat and set in cold water, stirring until it begin to thicken. Add vanilla and stir.
Sometimes Mamaw would beat the frosting to give it a smoother consistency or add coconut to it.

Layer it on thick when it cools enough not to run off the cake.

About ten million calories to the slice.

 No, I didn't write about writing. I did write something, though. Besides, it's MY blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Puzzle

I was talking to someone at work and they mentioned one of the other people there had written a book. I asked who, naturally. Turned out I already knew about it, but I mentioned that I also write. You know, part of the conversation. Not selling anything, just continuing with the flow she had begun.
She looked at me and said, "Yeah, well, anyone can write a book." Then she walked off.
She wasn't nasty about it or angry. She was smiling and she seemed to think it was a normal thing to say. I wasn't sure how to respond so I didn't. I could have asked how her novel was coming along, or how many books she had finished. I didn't. It was at work and we try to get along there, no fighting or arguments, just us folks doing our jobs.
It still bothered me. Why would someone say that? Do they actually believe that writing is so simple? The insurance commercial comes to mind as the caveman sits at his typewriter. So simple everyone can do it.
So why don't they?
I think I know why I write. It's fun, most of the time. I get into the story and come up with how stuff works and why they did this or that. I invent a villain and a hero and a few in between. It's fun creating a world and then populating it.
I also like the idea that people read what I write and like it. Not millions of them, not even thousands. Maybe two thousand so far have downloaded one of my books. I assume they read them. Why would you download a book if it was just going to sit there taking up memory in your reader?
I even make a few dollars every month. I can't quit my night job yet, but I can put a tank of gas in the car every month and have a little pocket change left over.
I can imagine a future where I write and not work elsewhere, but the dates elude me thus far. Probably not this month. Not next month. Maybe next year or the year after. I will keep writing until it happens.
Anyone can write. But how many actually make the effort? Few do and fewer still stick with it to learn from their failures, to improve their skills and to increase their audience. Those few earn great rewards, even if it is only self satisfaction.
NaNoWriMo is going on this month and there are hundreds of thousands of people writing for this contest. Write a fifty thousand word novel (or more) in thirty days. It's a challenge. It's interesting. It's fun.
I'm going to win. Anyone can do it. You just have to start.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Daily Grind

I've heard of this for most of my life ad I have had many thoughts as to it's meaning. As a child, I was uncertain. Do adults perform some mundane task to turn rocks into sand? Is it how old people seem to shrink, worn away by the passage of time?
Silly, how children think.
As a young adult, I thought it was for older people, something that happened to you after you reached a certain age. It made your face wrinkle and frown lines appear, those red, bloodshot eyes facing you in the mirror each morning. It was the way life ate at you, so unhappy in your existence in that job you were forced to take to pay all those bills.
You take on responsibilities, marriage, children, new car, new house to hold those children and a place to park that car. Those responsibilities force you into a certain path, one which eventually saps you of joy, creativity, diversity, and the opportunity to take risks. After all, one does not risk ones child or ones family, does one?
Young people. What can I say?
Age changes your outlook. Not very dramatic, nor original, as statements go. Lot's of people have said that and know that. But it is still true.
I decided many years ago that the true understanding was much simpler.
Get up.
Go to kitchen.
Make coffee. GOOD coffee. Grind the beans if you have too. Cappuccino machine. Foam the milk. Cinnamon? Vanilla? Sip. Make happy sounds.
The daily grind is good.
Life is good.
Yes, it is simplistic. It may even be silly. I don't care. You see, I believe in the K.I.S.S. principle.
Keep It Simple Stupid!
Life can be that easy. You go to work and face the day. Are you smiling? Why not? Are you expecting the JOB to make you happy? Your co-workers? The customers, God forbid?
No one can MAKE you happy. Either you are and you have found the secret or you are not and you are waiting  for somebody to hand you the secret.
They won't. Stop waiting. Nobody else knows what will make you happy, except you.
Find what makes you happy. It could be right next to you. It isn't. What? It's not the perfect mate/companion/ significant other? It's not making more money? It's not having a bigger, badder, shinier, new toy in the garage?
No. Your companion is someone to share happiness with. You have to find it first, before you can share. Sometimes you can look for it together, which is always nice. Makes it easier to find.
I don't have a garage. I have a carport. In the carport is an older passenger car that runs good and gets good mileage. It needs a bath. Behind it is my death machine, a 150cc scooter. Such a bad boy am I.
So start your quest for happiness.
Step one. Go to kitchen.
Step two. Make good coffee.
Step three. Sip.
Step four. Repeat.
 Ahhh. Happy sounds.