Thursday, July 06, 2006

Grab Bag o' Stuff

Today's t-shirt: Terry Fox Run 1991. The medical center where I worked at the time was the beneficiary that year, so we were "strongly encouraged" (required) to volunteer, for which we got a t-shirt and all the leftover bagels we could carry home. I actually ran it in 2002, but that's a different shirt. There's a misspelled word on this shirt, which my boss the super-editor flipped out over when she saw it (we had no say or control over the shirts).

Book status: Chapter nine is done. If I keep the pace I've had going this week and write a chapter today, I'll be halfway done with the book tonight. Well, halfway done with the target length. I'd worried that I wouldn't have enough story to fill the book, but it seems to be filling out more than I expected, so it may run longer. This book is turning out to be very weird. I normally have things pretty well planned. It's like I've seen the movie in my head and am just transcribing it. There aren't many big surprises. But with this book, I'm being surprised left and right. My planned book-level villain turned out not to be, a minor antagonist is turning out to be the villain, a major antagonist is turning sympathetic and may end up being an ally. I'm also learning new things about my characters. For instance, Owen turns out to have a very sarcastic sense of humor when he's in a bad mood. The grumpier he gets, the funnier he is. He's generally been my straight man, the one who reacts to Katie's jokes, but now he's the one making the jokes, and she's reacting (while keeping an eye out for things bursting into flames or blowing up -- making a wizard mad is not recommended) to him. It feels weird not knowing for sure what's going to happen when I sit down to write, but I guess I might as well go with it and see what happens. At least this book doesn't have a particular writing time. I can write it whenever I have time to write, unlike the last book, which refused to cooperate unless it was the middle of the night.

I realized last night that while I've been getting so much writing done and have been managing a bit more exercise, that evil old clutter demon has been sneaking up on me. It seems like I can't juggle too many things at once. It's not as bad as it was, so I think a little effort will set things straight and fend it off for a while longer until I'm done with the book and have time to do some more serious organization.

I have made the dangerous discovery of the Barnes & Noble University. These are free online classes (based around books, of course) and book discussion groups. Joshilyn Jackson is doing one for Between, Georgia next month, and I discovered all the others when I was signing up for it. Also next month is one on Love and Laughter, which seems to be mostly quasi chick-litty books, including the new ones from Marian Keyes and Jennifer Crusie, plus Curtis Sittenfeld's latest and one other author. I signed up out of curiosity because I suspect some chick lit bashing will take place, probably to the effect of someone arguing that even though many of these books contain all the usual ingredients of chick lit, they can't actually be chick lit because they're good. I'm checking Curtis Sittenfeld's book out of the library, as I refuse to buy her books after her infamous book review of another author's book in the New York Times, in which she said that saying an author writes chick lit is like calling another woman a slut, and then she proceeded to bash the author she was reviewing as having written a book that could be called chick lit (which I heard from within Random House was a big PR gaffe they were cringing over, and I made sure to let them know that I was certainly boycotting her because of it. It's not like I'd ever have got a cover blurb from her, anyway).

Speaking of the library, can we give the person who invented the Internet-accessible library catalog a Nobel Prize? Seriously, that has been so life-changing for me. I can browse the library from my desk. If there's something I read about on a blog or message board, I can just pop over to the online catalog, see if the library has it, put a hold on it and have it delivered from anywhere within the system to my local branch, where I can walk over to pick it up. Genius! I still love a good session browsing the shelves at the big downtown library, but that's usually something I do in the fall when kids are in school (in theory, I love the idea of kids hanging out in a library, but in practice, I don't want to be there when they are), and when it's cooler so that after the library I can get a takeout lunch from a neighborhood restaurant (Arby's, since there isn't one near me and I enjoy the treat) and then sit in the gazebo in the downtown park and eat and read. If I really want to make a day of it, the library is adjacent to the train station, and I can go to downtown Dallas, do some shopping, get my hair done, maybe see a movie, then go by the library on my way home. But for now, while I'm holed up in my cave and working, I love the convenience of the online system.

And while I'm giving out prizes, I want to give a medal to the guy who was mowing around the post office this morning. I try to walk for most of my neighborhood errands, within reason, depending on weather, weight, distance, time constraints, etc. (In other words, I don't try to carry a gallon of milk a mile and a half from the grocery store in 95-degree weather), but I have the odd ability to always be walking exactly when people are mowing along my route, no matter what time of day or day of the week it is, so that the freshly mown grass blows right into my face and I get an allergy attack. It's like they've got a network and send out a signal to converge on my route whenever I step out the door to walk somewhere. But the guy at the post office today actually killed his mower both times I walked past him rather than showering me with grass clippings. What a sweetheart!

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