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Writing Progress Jul. 27th, 2013 @ 11:50 pm
I've been working diligently on the resumed writing project since July 1 and have written almost 23,000 words of it since then. The book now totals over 35,000 words! I'm in the middle of chapter 5 out of 13 and on track to finish by the end of September, I believe, if I can keep up this pace. Then the editing begins, of course. I'm also rewatching a favorite five-season series and reading a Jessica Mitford book to get me in the proper frame of mind for writing this, just to be extra cryptive about it.

I still need to finish the world-building on the project I wanted to resume on July 1 but didn't because I wasn't ready. So I will try to shoehorn in more of that during my daily writing time while not reducing my output on Current Project. I'd now like to complete the world-building work by the end of September so I can get back to writing that while editing Current Project.

I've also queried a couple of agents concerning Quantum Harry and received one thanks-but-no-thanks letter. I will send out a couple more queries this week. I've been neglecting that and I really shouldn't. I've got what I think is a pretty good list so far, so we'll see how it goes with more queries out there.

Progress report over and out!

You've Got Time Jul. 23rd, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
I have been seriously ear-wormed with this song ALL WEEK.

(And I'm not quite done with Orange is the New Black--episode 10 is next for me--so no spoilers, please!)
Current Location: in my head
Current Mood: foot-tapping
Current Music: what do you think?

Twenty Feet from Stardom Jul. 18th, 2013 @ 12:14 pm
Rachel and I just saw this yesterday. Amazing film, amazing women. And, once again, something that includes information about Phil Spector leaves the viewer with the general impression of, "Man, was that guy a dick."

Go see it!

Various types of progress Jul. 12th, 2013 @ 12:07 am
I queried two agents today concerning Quantum Harry! So that's something. One just wanted a query letter, proposal and outline, while the other wanted all of that AND the first five chapters of nonfiction works, so I sent the Introduction and first four chapters (which amount to almost 60 pages). Both agents are on the record as interested in nonfiction AND "pop culture", which I suppose Harry Potter might fit into, so I'm hoping one of them is a good fit. I have other people to query as well, but the rest are only interested in nonfiction, as far as I know. We'll see.

I also recently rewrote the Introduction to Quantum Harry, so I have to resend that to the alpha readers; as the first part of the book that will be read by prospective agents/editors, I felt it lacked "oomph", so hopefully I've improved that. It's five pages shorter, so that can't hurt!

In my "new" fiction project (one I shelved a few years back and have returned to), I've written 6,675 words since the beginning of the month, for a total now of over 20,000 words. Not too shabby. I need to get back to some of the planning I was doing for the other fiction project, but I've been trying to make sure I'm at least writing a little of this each day, which has worked, except for yesterday. But ten days out of eleven isn't so bad. (I was spending most of yesterday agonizing over the query letter for Quantum Harry.) Although technically, I spent the first couple of days of July editing the existing 13,000 words of this project; I needed to refamiliarize myself with what I'd already written. It's been a while, but now I feel like I'm back in the swing of things.

I'm also reading The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford as background material for this project. And rewatching Six Feet Under. That's all I'm saying right now about the subject matter.

Question: Have you ever planned a funeral for anyone? What is your most memorable experience of doing so? Or your most memorable time at any funeral?

Why do I read the comments on some articles? Jul. 10th, 2013 @ 01:26 am
So tired of people automatically saying about both Orson Scott Card and Stephenie Meyer that their being Mormons explains anything they don't like about them. There are plenty of Mormons who manage NOT to actively work to dehumanize sexual minorities and take away what few rights they have (OSC) or who manage NOT to create characters who are horrible role models for young people (SM). I choose not to pay money for anything these two have created because of the agenda OSC supports and because I don't agree with a number of things SM does in her work, not because they're Mormons. And don't even get me started on the idea that not supporting an artist for ideological reasons is "stealing" from them, blacklisting them or censoring them.

(This post stemming from an article which had a bunch of Facebook comments in which people repeatedly kept saying, "Oh, OSC is Mormon, he's a cultist. That explains why..." yada yada yada. And then people responding by saying, "But you're a Catholic, so you're also a cultist, yada yada yada..." Gah.)

Writing, writing, just keep writing... * Jul. 5th, 2013 @ 12:28 am
I worked on three different writing projects today that are in rather different stages:

1. I looked up ten agents who deal in nonfiction works, and specifically a couple that include "pop culture" in the list of topics they handle because I decided to query agents and publishers simultaneously for Quantum Harry, rather than just publishers. I also added two publishers to my original list of eight who have carried nonfiction books on Harry Potter before. (There were only eight because it's surprising how many nonfiction books about HP are either self-published, from houses that don't take unagented submissions, from houses that don't have any submission information or even contact information online, or come from university presses and textbook publishers.) The two publishers I added to the list have published nonfiction tie-in books for other fandoms, but not HP (mainly Star Trek and Buffy), and their submission guidelines are pretty straightforward, so I thought they'd be a good fit. Now I need to really get my querying material in order (tailored for the guidelines for each publisher and agent).

2. I almost finished creating the employee schedule for my circus/carnival (what I'll be calling the RM project)--but just one version of the schedule. This one is for days when they put on Big Top Show "A" and there is a parade in the town because it is opening night in that location. (It's always show "A" on opening nights.) I still need to put twelve more employees on the schedule (I did 36 today) and then start working on the version of show "A" for other situations (like morning openings). Then shows "B" and "C". Ack. This is why I'm still in the planning stages for this project. So much to consider.

3. On my third day of revisiting an old project that I plan to actually write during July, August and September I finally did some new writing instead of just editing old writing. On Monday and Tuesday I edited Chapters 1 and 2, written a couple of years ago. Yesterday I edited what existed of Chapter 3 and added 1500 words to it. Today I only added 712, but that's okay. I'm giving myself until this coming Monday at midnight to finish Chapter 3. And I've started reading Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death Revisited for background (on my Nook). I'm feeling good about this project. And it's nice to actually be writing again, instead of always PLANNING for writing! (I'd already planned out was going to be in each chapter of this book and so far I'm not deviating from that plan.)

So--a little writing, a little background reading, a little logistical work and a little internet pavement-pounding to find agents and a couple more publishers. That's a full day in the salt mines for me!

* with apologies to Dory

Boosting the signal Jul. 2nd, 2013 @ 01:04 am
One of many reasons why DOMA needed to go away.

Felicity was one of JJ Abrams' first forays into fantasy... Jun. 30th, 2013 @ 12:20 am
...mainly because he had no idea how college really "works". Examples of this:

On the show: On the day she graduated from high school, Felicity decided, because of what Ben wrote in her yearbook, to scrap her plan to go to Stanford and instead go to the University of New York. And she makes it happen.

In real life: Impossible. She hadn't even APPLIED to the (admittedly fictional) UNY (a thinly-disguised NYU), let alone before the deadline, let alone applying for a dorm, applying for financial aid, etc. So the very premise at the start of the series is pretty firmly based on JJ Abrams' fantasy idea of how college applications and acceptances work. Convincing her parents to pay for UNY instead of Stanford would have been a moot point.

On the show: Sometime during her first semester, Felicity starts to have doubts about being a pre-med major. In her second semester she decides to take an art class that other fairly serious art majors are also taking. It's not an art class that non-art majors are using for an elective. She gets in and does rather well. It's also a class that Noel is taking, even though he's a sophomore.

In real life: Also impossible. To get into a class like that, except perhaps at a community college, she would need to present a portfolio to be admitted. And Noel would be much more likely to have taken the class during his freshman year, although that's only mildly implausible compared to Felicity not needing to submit a portfolio. I won't even get into the studio being open after hours and being the location where she does something for the first time the school would probably frown on her doing in a classroom studio.

On the show: As stated above, Felicity followed a boy to NY. She also admits as much to him, which really should freak him out. It does a little, but not all that much. Oh, and she gets a work-study job in admissions, where she goes into the files and reads his application essay. Which is presented as wrong but not particularly strongly.

In real life: I think that these days, a lot of people would have the good sense to stay far, far away from someone who did this, not become their friend. And they wouldn't consider dating her once they knew that she'd read confidential files in the admissions office. "Stalkery" would be a mild way to describe her actions at this point. Most people would probably consider all of this to be major red-flag material.

On the show: She starts to date her RA (Noel) at one point. She's not supposed to date her RA. Or rather, he's not supposed to date her; he's supposed to be an authority figure to the dorm students, so there is an imbalance of power.

In real life: This would not be shrugged off or result in no consequences. Noel would be out of that RA job in a heartbeat.

On the show: The next year, Felicity is an RA, despite breaking rules with her own RA the year before. Meghan is also an RA despite not at all having the personality for it. (And I love Meghan--her eventual friendship with Felicity is one of the saving graces of the show.)

In real life: Most schools would have a ton of students vying to be RAs and there would be a screening process by which people not suited to it or who blithely broke rules related to the RA job in the past would be eliminated as candidates. And don't even get me started on the giant dorm room. You could hold a prom in that thing. And the fact that it was the same room Felicity and Meghan were in during their freshman year; even if they were RAs in a freshman dorm, there would be regularly designated RA rooms, and the same one they had as freshmen wouldn't be included.

On the show: The university suddenly drops swimming as a sport. One of the only things Ben enjoyed at school was swim team, so he is rather upset about this. He and Felicity break into the pool, bring alcohol, and have a private swim. They are caught and have to see a counselor and do community service as payback. Felicity's community service is volunteering at the student health clinic, which is run by another (pre-med) student, a senior (who hits on Felicity) and is otherwise staffed by medical personal who are also volunteers doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. This includes Felicity's dad at one point.

In real life: First, most universities have their funding for programs like competitive swimming lined up well in advance, so if a program does get cut, they know it's happening semesters ahead of time, not a week before it happens. Second, Ben and Felicity getting expelled for their stunt is far more likely. Third, I can't imagine even the most cash-strapped school in existence NOT having a student health service that is fully staffed by paid personnel.

On the show: At one point, Felicity discovers that Meghan didn't MAIL (yes, really) a form for Felicity to drop a class she needed to get rid of in order to make room in her schedule for an art class. Despite not attending the class ALL SEMESTER, by studying with Noel THE NIGHT BEFORE THE FINAL she manages to get an A on the final and in the class. It is also stated that a "normal" courseload is 14 credits and with the extra class she has 18.

In real life: There was so very much wrong with this. First, just about any school in existence, even in 1999-2001, would have had students hand-deliver such a form to the registrar's office to drop a class. Second, it was probably a combination drop-add form, both dropping the one class and adding the new one, so the teacher of her new class would have informed her that she still hadn't shown up on the roll if it was several weeks into the class and there was still no sign of Felicity's name. Actually, most teachers would have made her bring a copy of the drop-add form to the class to verify that she really had gone through the proper channels to take the class. There's no way Felicity couldn't have known that the drop-add didn't go through. Possibly just a drop, but that's not what they wrote.

On top of that, it's highly unlikely that any school has a "normal" courseload of 14 credits. A fulltime load of 15 is usual for schools on a 3-credit system (5 3-credit classes) and 16 is usual for schools on 4-credit systems (4 4-credit classes). A 14-credit load being "usual" is actually quite UNusual. Before the 14 credits were mentioned I also though it was weird that she was allowed to stay in the new class (which was actually the "extra" one, since it was added last) if she didn't pay more money for it, but I think the 14-credit thing was supposed to explain that. It explained squat. And THEN, on top of that, was the unlikeliness of a teacher letting her take the final after not attending all semester. I think 97% of all teachers would have flunked her outright. Or, even if they'd let her take the final, she might barely scrape a D or something out of the course, not having taken the midterm or done any other assignments all semester. This one really had me shouting at the TV!

On the show: After he is riding in a ambulance with a gunshot victim (don't ask) who dies and then is revived by the paramedic, Ben decides to be a paramedic. Only after he goes to paramedic training between his junior and senior years, he decides he doesn't really want to be a paramedic, he wants to be a doctor. So he changes his major to pre-med. And still graduates at the end of his fourth year.

In real life: A competent advisor would have suggested he revisit the idea of being a paramedic. His academic history was spotty at best. And the typical requirements for a pre-med major would have meant him basically starting over as a freshman, not being able to still fulfill all of the requirements to graduate. But also, really, this guy is not doctor material.

On the show: Not long before he is to graduate, Noel runs around the library with Felicity and they drape the place in acres of toilet paper, as a prank. Felicity's role is not discovered, but Noel's image is captured by a security camera. His punishment is to restock all of the university's bathrooms with toilet paper. He graduates with honors.

In real life: Noel would probably have been barred from the graduation ceremony, if he was still given his degree at all. Some schools might have split the difference--he gets the degree, but no ceremony. And the other punishment would have been more arduous than restocking toilet paper.

There's more, but that's just a taste of how JJ Abrams was sending Felicity to school at a fantasy university. I really probably shouldn't be surprised by the trippiness at the end of season four, all things considered. I'm imagining him cackling gleefully at the hate male the network probably received when the truly weird plotline started playing out in episodes 18-22.

Felicity, meet Bobby Ewing... Jun. 28th, 2013 @ 08:47 pm
Years ago, when Felicity was first on TV, I watched it. Then, sometime in the third season, I stopped watching it. I don't recall if there was a particular reason. I just didn't continue, and I didn't bother to tape it (the days before TiVO) and didn't have the means to stream it or anything (dial-up speeds being glacial, and networks not offering their shows online in those days).

So I've been rewatching from the beginning, mainly on Netflix (switching to Hulu a couple of times when Netflix was hiccuping) and I've just gone slightly beyond "The Graduate" in the fourth season.

Seriously? THIS is what happens?

WTF did I just watch?

How much of writing is research? Jun. 28th, 2013 @ 12:27 am
I've been trying to get my supplemental materials in order for my "new" writing project, which is really me picking up a writing project that I set aside to finish writing Quantum Harry, which is now with two alpha readers. (If you're interested in joining them, let me know.)

I've been mentally changing a lot about the world-building since I stopped actively working on the project, so this has meant a fair amount of revamping my world's "bible"--a series of files with vocabulary, backstory, character profiles, family trees, schedules, etc. To flesh out some parts of the world, lately I've been researching, in no particular order:

- Phoenixville, PA
- Amtrak routes to West Virginia
- Cornish Hurling
- "Ba" (Orkney)
- Uppies and Doonies
- Harpastum
- Petanque

I've also been using Google Translate a lot to find terminology I like for various things. For instance, I put in a very simple word and found a slight similarity between the Welsh and Esperanto translations; after I combined them to create a new word, I asked Google Translate to identify the language, and it decided that it was Finnish! Even better, the meaning of the Finnish word isn't the original word I was translating, but an adjective that, to my mind, fairly describes the activity named by the new word. Win!

What this project ultimately means is that I can use a number of plot elements from my HP fics (the PS series) in these books (the planning is for four total) but with a lot of twists, to make it less likely that people can predict what will happen just by reading the fics. Hardly a case of filing off serial numbers. There are many things that I created for the fics that never showed up in the HP books (and some that did, under different names, after I wrote about them) and I don't want to give up on utilizing those in writing that I could potentially get published, but there are also many things that, though they weren't in the canon books, feel just too tightly bound to the HP world, so I probably won't be using anything that strikes me that way.

Back to work...
Other entries
» Science is your friend
Rachel has become hooked on Orphan Black, a new BBC American show, and has shown me the first three episodes. It's very good and I can highly recommend it--but there is one niggling little Science Thing that they didn't properly research that is bothering me.

It's, as Paul Simon would say, about "the myth of fingerprints". That is to say, the myth that they are genetic. They are not. The little sworls on our fingertips are not governed by our genes but by the environment in our mothers' wombs when we are in utero. And since everyone's in utero experience is absolutely unique, even that of identical twins or identical quads or whatever, everyone's fingerprints really are different, even if two people are otherwise genetically identical.

They got this right on Ringer, which didn't have as much going for it as Orphan Black, so I kind of wish they'd gotten it right on OB. :sigh: Oh well. I'm still enjoying it. But I won't be reading anything about it until I'm done all of the episodes--I don't want to see anything spoilery. (Unfortunately, people watching Mad Men haven't been putting spoilery things behind cuts for those of us who don't get to see it yet, and that's been kind of annoying...)

I'm also not clear about why anyone thinks the story is set anywhere other than Toronto. Having been to Toronto, that was clear to me from the start. It's obviously not in the US. Anyone who thinks there's only one "Scarborough" in the world needs to get out a little more.
» Three WTF Moments Within a Few Minutes
1. I received this email today from "Mrs Vivian":

Attention: Email Account Holder,

Congratulations!! Congratulations!!

This is to inform you that your E-mail Address was selected on the 5th of June 2013 as one of the six lucky winner in Uk Lotto Mega Jackpot...of 1,000,000.00 GBP(One Million Pound Sterling)and The Draw No:1593. Send your Names:Address:Country:Sex:Age & Tel.Contact.

Published by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

I mean--really? Is there anyone truly dumb enough to buy this? Just for a start, why would the FTC have anything to do with a UK Lotto game? Scam "artists" don't even live up to the name anymore--there's no "art" to this at all.

2. And you want to know a really good sign that you may be pregnant? How about not having a period for months? I don't care of your husband supposedly had a vasectomy (yeah, riiiiiight). If you're not pregnant and you're still of childbearing age and had a kid as recently as 7 years ago, you should see a doctor if you stop having periods, because if it's not pregnancy it could be something quite serious. :headdesk:

3. And lastly, while reading the Lotto email, Yahoo decided to tell me, in the corner of the screen that something trending right now is: Prostitute Ads. Er, really, Yahoo? This is the internet--is there ever a time when Prostitute Ads AREN'T trending?
» The Hollow Men
This is sort of an informal poll: Do you know what someone is really saying when they refer to someone having a "hollow leg"? Within the last few days, on Facebook, one of my nieces was posting about her one-year-old son having a hollow leg and one of my other nieces was very concerned because of this. Has this passed out of the popular lexicon? The niece who used the reference is only five years older than her cousin, born in 1976 and 1981, respectively.

What about it--do you automatically know what this expression means without having to ask?
» Reading for Story vs. Reading for--Reading
I'm currently about 100 pages into a 250-page book (in ebook form, specifically Nook format) and I'm finally getting into it. In fact, now that I've learned a lot more about the title character, I'm probably unhealthily over-identifying with that character (because there is, of course, a HEALTHY way of over-identifying with a fictional character).

The reason it has taken me about 40% of the book to finally get into it, I believe, is the format in which it is written. Now, I have nothing against books narrated by someone who isn't the central character in the book; after all, apart from whatever type of trainwreck the new Great Gatsby film may be, the book is a classic, and is also written from the PoV of someone observing the title character, not from the perspective of the title character. My favorite novel of all time, A Prayer for Owen Meany, is written in the same way. No, that specifically isn't the problem I'm having. The issue with this book is that it is written from a LOT of different PoVs, and the individual character of each narrator is rather slow to come through, or even who each person really is and how they fit into this world. I'm talking about a combination of emails, inter-office memos, communication to doctors, notes sent home to parents from a school principal, etc., strung together by some very disjointed narrative from the title character's daughter. And finally, a letter written by the title character herself.

I feel like shouting into my poor little Nook, "Quit with the gimmickry already, just tell me the damn story!" Because that's what this structure for the book feels like--a gimmick. And not in a good way. I suppose it was also a gimmick for William Wharton to structure Birdy with alternating plain and italic typefaces to delineate the narratives from Birdy and his best friend from childhood, as the author slowly told the story of how Birdy became catatonic after fighting in the Viet Nam war. But Wharton's use of language is riveting; the writing AND the story-telling are both so compelling that I don't care that I just learned something in one character's narrative that opens up a huge number of questions that I may or may not get answered in the next block of narrative from the other character. I no longer completely care about how fast I get the story because the journey there is so enjoyable that the story is almost a fringe-benefit of being able to read such fabulous writing.

That is not the case with this book. The constant switch in narrative voices (which isn't even always completely convincing--there honestly isn't enough true difference between each person to make it believable that all of these things were written by different people) and formats is merely irritating. There's no interesting use of language or any particularly lovely turns of phrase. I know that this sort of thing is popular in publishing these days--first person narratives in particular (though the Hunger Games series really suffered from this, where it was irksome to me from beginning to end) seem to be huge--and books written in the form of Tweets, emails, text-messages, etc., seem to be all the rage. This book isn't quite at that level (despite being largely emails) but it's still irritating the hell out of me.

Can't anyone just tell a damn story anymore, with a straightforward narrative, and without a bunch of gimmicks? Please tell me if you've read something good that is gimmick-less. I'm not even convinced I'll be able to finish this book--my patience is already pretty frazzled by the nonsense. And I hope to heaven that this trend doesn't mean that if I ever want to be published I'll need to pull crappy stunts like this, because I just don't see that happening. Are slush-pile readers really so bored that this is the only kind of thing that holds their attention? Perhaps I shouldn't think about that--too depressing.

Next someone will tell me that I have to write chapters in 140-character bursts. Yeah. Me. Hahahahaha. SO not happening!
» The Boston Bombing and White Privilege
My first thoughts were that it might be another person in the mold of Timothy McVeigh (mainly due to the timing). Apparently a lot of other people thought otherwise.
» Boston
I hope everyone I know in Boston is okay--Gwen, Amy, Megan, Alyce & hubby, Shar, and anyone I missed. A coworker of my husband's was in the marathon, as was her boyfriend, and he was crossing the finish line when the first explosion went off. (She'd already finished and wasn't nearby at the time.) He was knocked down but only sustained some cuts from glass, which he removed himself. The two of them are otherwise fine, but everyone at the office was very worried until she called someone and that person was able to spread the word at the office that she was okay.

I never knew before that in Massachusetts they observe Patriot's Day on the Monday closest to the 19th, if the 19th isn't on a Monday, and I also didn't know that the marathon was held on the holiday, whenever it's observed. Add to this that today is tax day and--yeah.

I remember back when the Oklahoma City bombing happened and my sister (who lives in OKC) said that she and her husband spent hours in line at the closest hospital in order to donate blood. It took a long time because so many people came out to help--which is good. And they didn't mind the wait; they knew it was needed.

That's probably the best way to help. kylecassidy shared a Bostonian's post on FaceBook concerning where to go, but I'll just copy and paste the info from her here:


They will be open tomorrow at 7:30 am, White 12, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA.

Tuesday, April 16th
- NOAA 9:00am – 2:30pm: 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester
- EF Education 10:00am – 3:30pm: 1 Education Road, Cambridge

Wednesday, April 17th
- Stratus 8:30am – 2: 111 Powder Mill Road, Maynard

Thursday, April 18th
- Building Impact 8:30am – 2:00pm: 920 Winter Street, Waltham

Friday, April 19th
- Boston University 12:00 - 5:00pm: Sargent College 635 Commonwealth Ave

Please note again that they are not equipped to handle this TODAY because of the observation of the holiday.

My thoughts are with everyone in Boston. :hugs:
» Whole Foods to offer discount to skinny people
Pay less if you have a low BMI!

And--wanksplosion in 3, 2, 1...
» Quantum Harry
I'm in the process of doing a simultaneous final edit and footnoting operation on Quantum Harry, all 500 pages and 116,357 words of it. With any luck, it'll be ready for Alpha Readers soon!

The real problem I'm running into, though, is that in my other reading (for pleasure) I keep running across things that I feel like I need to cite in QH. For instance, I'm currently reading Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week. OMYGOD, so much metaphorical queerness! That's definitely going to affect Chapter Seven, to say nothing of what other aspects of the plot and the world-building are going to do to other chapters. (I'm also enjoying Witch Week for itself, though, far more than the other Chrestomanci-world books, which didn't grab me as much.)

Fortunately, I'm doing the footnoting by chapter (beginning with 1 again for each), since they're technically endnotes, not footnotes. So if I need to add a handful here or there I'll just be renumbering for the chapter, not the entire book.

Anyway, I completed the re-edit of the Introduction tonight, cut out two pages of text and properly cited 27 sources. I've actually already got a lot of the sources cited in the text itself, so I'm mainly properly formatting the information, removing it from the text and putting it in a separate endnote file. Only 21 chapters and 483 pages to go!

» Not feeling terrifically competent at the moment...
So I just realized that this weekend is Daylight Savings. That means that we lose an hour on Saturday night, which doesn't bother most people, I assume, but if you're a church-goer, especially a church musician (which means you have to arrive before everyone else) it means you're having to make extra-certain not to be late.

I had hoped to be able to wake up one day soon to a new clock radio, but my efforts at that were thwarted. I decided to replace the old one because Chris had the same model on his bedside table, and is exactly the same age as mine (20+ years), but his started sort of self-destructing the other day, so he unplugged it and threw it out before it could start an electrical fire or something. Mine isn't that bad, but I think after over twenty years I can treat myself to a new clock, you know? Unfortunately, when I opened the one I bought at CVS I discovered that it was already broken; the button for choosing the hour of the time or alarm doesn't work, so if I was really dedicated to using it, I'd have to use the minute button only for setting the time. Which would take a really long--time. I might still use it somewhere in the house where I'm unlikely to need to set alarms, but I definitely need something more functional for my bedside, so for now I'm back to the old clock that screeches like a banshee when the alarm goes off. Oh well.

Speaking of time, I've also discovered that two new Tuesday shows I've started following--Cult at 9 pm on the CW and Golden Boy at 10 pm on CBS--are both moving to Friday night. But are they back to back, like they were on Tuesday? Of course not. They're both going to be on at 9 pm. I guess I need to figure out how to record one of them. We do have the technology in the house, technically, but I almost never use it because I tend to watch shows I've missed online. Only I was going out of my way to watch these shows while they were broadcast because I really dislike the CBS and CW websites (especially the CW website, which screws up a lot). I think I can handle this, but I'm not feeling very techy lately, so wish me luck...
» I kind of thought something like this might happen...
Julian Fellowes clearly wants to be the next Joss Whedon.
» Argo and Editing
Argo was certainly funnier than I expected! And nerve-wracking, too, even though we technically know how it turned out. (I've heard people had this issue with Zero Dark Thirty too, another movie you go into knowing the end, and yet it manages to be hugely suspenseful.)

Somehow in the last week I managed to edit 83 pages out of my manuscript for Quantum Harry (it's now 498 and about 117,000 words) while also adding a lot of good content. It's definitely a lot tighter and I've removed loads of redundancies (saying instead "see Chapter 16" so I'm not repeating the same information over and over). There are STILL things I want to add, though, so I'm going to make notes for myself before I go to bed. And I also still need to make a second pass on editing chapters 14 and 21 before doing the whole thing top to bottom again. (I did it according to "book" this time--chapters 1, 8 and 15 address book 1, chapters 2, 9 and 16 address book 2, etc. This helped me to spot a lot of repeated passages referring to the same stuff.)

Hopefully I'll soon be able to get the manuscript to my alpha readers! (You know who you are.) I'll keep you all posted.
» Silent Night
For Christmas I asked for tickets to a local performance of some sort, an opera or play, so Chris got us tickets to Silent Night. We've just returned from the performance at the Academy of Music, which was very good. And it's not often you get to see and hear a Pulitzer Prize-winning opera about a war that started 99 years ago.

I wonder what sort of things will occur next year to commemorate the centennial of the start of the war? It seems so strange that it's been that long; I was born 50 years after the start of the war and there were veterans at my church when I was growing up, but now I assume there are either no more survivors or only a small handful.

I liked the "lullaby" best of all the music, but the opera beginning with an opera-within-an-opera was a nice touch (with the performance interrupted by the outbreak of war).

I feel like I also want to see the movie now that the opera was based on.

» And now--a new episode of Elementary!
Not dreadfully impressed by the ads I've seen. Amused by my husband's cousin rooting for the Ravens, despite liking the font on the Niners' uniforms better (I was starting to wonder if she was channeling my friend Jim, a graphic designer who can go on and on about the evils of Comic Sans). Actually what I was most amused by during the game was Rachel's roommate posting on Facebook a very fuzzy picture of Rachel coming out of the small room they use as a kitchen in their dorm.

My Comment: You're blurrier than the last time I saw you.

Her Roommate: College changes people.

Now I have an episode of Elementary to watch.
» Thursday night television, writing & cats
Working backwards on what I saw tonight (no planned spoilers, just lots of vaguery):

1. Yay! New episode of Elementary! I wasn't sure at first, but after squinting at it for a while and asking Chris, "Have we seen this? Have we not seen this?" we decided that we hadn't.

2. After I watched both episodes of The Office, I looked online and verified that it isn't ending yet. I think I got confused about that because of 30 Rock. Which is good, because tonight's second episode would have been an extremely weird way to end it all, after nine years.

3. I was so psyched out by Kenneth holding the snowglobe with 30 Rock inside it! That's all I'm saying. It really took me back to another NBC show's final episode, many years ago... In general, I like the way a lot of stuff was wrapped up, especially with Liz's adopted kids. And so many cameos! Julianne Moore's and Salma Hayak's were probably the funniest though. (Well, maybe a dead heat with Nancy Pelosi's.)

4. I get more writing done with my computer in the dining room. I just don't feel as productive when it's on my lap and I'm in a nice comfy armchair or on a couch in the family room. Something about that just doesn't feel conducive to writing and editing. I've been a very good girl lately, and it's mainly because of working in the dining room. Unfortunately, I can't work at my desk in the study because Paisley's in there, or more to the point, her litter box is in there. No matter how freshly cleaned-out it is, I can't cope with the proximity, because of my asthma.

5. Gratuitous photo of cute cats! The fold between Skye (on the left) and MacAindra is where my feet were before I got out of bed the other day. (And oh, it is SO HARD to get up when they're being so cozy with me like this!)

» Our Make-Do Kitchen
We've been in our house almost 23 years now, and for slightly longer than that (from the first time I looked at the kitchen, when we were being shown the house) I've known that we had a crappy kitchen and it would have to change. Just a few of the problems are: terrible layout, next to no storage, inferior cabinets that were falling apart from the very start, a floor that's extremely hard to clean, no tile on the backsplashes, counters that stain and mark easily, everything being out-of-plumb, hardly any natural light, minimal counter space, being only 11x12' and having a too-small basement stairwell eat 12 sq' of that, plus the stairwell has no headroom (anyone taller than a toddler has to duck to avoid being decapitated) and a back door that lets in every gust of air and a multitude of creatures I'd rather not talk about right now.

Over the years, because we had no choice, we had to make do with what we had. There was no money to change the kitchen in any substantial way. We added our own pieces to deal with the lack-of-storage issue, but otherwise there has been no physical change to the room of any kind until we bought a new, taller fridge and so had to remove the (useless) wall cabinet sitting above the old fridge. (A one-foot deep cabinet above a refrigerator is ALWAYS useless--no one can reach into it without getting on a ladder, and the doors are usually blocked by all of the stuff you've put on the top of the fridge in front of the cabinet, because that's real estate you can actually REACH.)

Then, last year, I did make a lot more changes to the kitchen, but they were all technically cosmetic. A huge improvement, but I still long for the day when we can put an eat-in kitchen in the first floor front room of the house and turn the kitchen into a laundry room-cum-powder room. In the meantime, I do like spending time in the kitchen a lot more; it's better organized, more attractive and less haphazard-feeling than before. I don't have "before" photos for all views, but there are a few, from about 3-4 years ago, to give an idea of how we used to cope with the room's deficiencies, versus how we cope now.

Our Make-Do KitchenCollapse )
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