Saturday, February 21, 2009

Suze Orman, forgive me!

I'm a bit of a tightwad. Or so I like to think.

Okay, I spend a lot on little things. Daily lunches. Comic books. Art supplies every few months. Online courses. (Ooh! I'm taking 3 really great ones right now, one from Yosemite Romance Writers, one from San Diego RW, and one from good ol' Heart of Carolina RW. The first two are PR for writers, and the last is screenwriting.)

On rare occasion I get the urge to spend on Something of Consequence. Even more rarely I am overcome by the desperate need to Get Things Done.

This past week I've succumbed to much of both of these conditions. I bought a new TV. I'd been planning to, partially because of the digital conversion (now postponed) and partially because my TV hasn't given me a really good picture in about three years.

In addition, I went ahead and upgraded my DirecTV plan to include local and neighboring (ie, Triangle and Triad) channels, though I just got a converter for the tiny TV in the guest bedroom/Brad Pitt shrine/comics library/mailing room/etc/etc/etc. In order to do this I had to upgrade my DTV service (no longer offered) to the next higher $$ level. Ouch.

My home is what they call a "manufactured home," meaning a double-wide. My particular model was billed as the "Home Theatre" edition because a corner of the family room had TV, tuner, multi-CD player, sensu-round sound (rarely used) and VCR built into it. So that meant that if I ever wanted to upgrade it would be a major operation since things have to be pried out of this box they built behind a bunch of trimwork.

Plus if a new TV were larger than the old... say, if TVs went to a wide-screen format and lots of people were getting 37" screens and larger... it would have to come out of the corner entirely, get its own TV/entertainment table, and require an electrician to rewire everything.

So that's one of the people who came out this week. Unfortunately my electrician didn't quite know what he was doing, but thank goodness DirecTV got a guy out 2 days later who went zip, zip, RRRUUUNNNGGG (that's a drill), zip, RRRUUUNNNGGG (he found out I had a second connection in the back), zip, and everything's fairly much set up. Unless I want HD, in which case I have to get 1 1/2 trees cut down, plus $100 in a new service call to get me a new dish & etc.

Faced with a hole in the living room where the entertainment center used to be, I called in a carpenter who says he can do a temporary plug job until May, when I want to do some serious work on the family room. In the meantime he'll also be Getting Things Done: pressure-washing the house and painting the porches and pergola, plus waterproofing a large mural I have in the back yard. (I was in a strange mood back in '05.) (But oh! does it look good!)

And since things were finally getting painted, it was time to Get Things Done in the yard by moving a few trees that weren't doing so well in the front yard to the back yard, where they'll have root room and sunlight. This has to be done before the sap rises. We're kind of pushing our luck on this, as some trees have begun coming out already. Two weeks ago the pink-blossomed trees at Cameron Village Shopping Center in Raleigh were in full bloom, but they're always the first guys out. Still, there's a haze of new red in the woods, and I spotted some light-yellow blossoms on a handful of trees in Mebane yesterday.

Ca-ching! Suze Orman, forgive me! I'm spending money when I don't have my safety savings net and still have lots of credit card debt! But I'm paying in cash (out of my treasured, "don't touch this otherwise" Travel Savings). So does that make me fiscally irresponsible? Out of control? Evil?

Now, if I bought that Neuton electric lawnmower whose brochure is even now lying open next to me, advertising their pre-season sale... Definitely evil? How about those books from North Light Book Club that I have circled in the brochure under it?

I mean, so what if I bought two plant collections from QVC this weekend? They're perennials. They'll increase the value of my property, if I can ever get out there and work on it at any length.

These things seem to come in cycles. Once a year -- maybe twice if the planets align correctly -- I spend. I Get Things of Consequence Done and/or (too rarely) Go On a Cool Vacation. The rest of the time I clasp my wallet tightly to my bosom and snarl at those who want me to dispense my hard-earned cash in their direction for whatever reason.

Sigh. Maybe tomorrow I'll buy two lottery tickets. It's definitely time to put a bunch of paintings up on eBay, though that doesn't seem to be the greatest place to sell paintings, at least if you want to get a reasonable price for them. Give me a day to post a few and check 'em out. On eBay I'm Lina Strick, I think.

Contributions are always welcomed!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


More or less. I've signed it so it must be done, though it's not varnished yet. It gets to sit a while in case it needs a few changes.

The Lazy Days of February

Ah, here it is February somethingth... the 8th?... and I have windows open, able to clear out the catbox-air in the house at least temporarily because it's 70 degrees outside. Heaven!

Think I'll go outside later on, sit and read Jenna Black's book "The Devil Inside." I don't usually go for urban fantasy but this was staring at me one night when I had nothing else to read and I started it. Fast-moving sucker. Interesting predicament for Our Heroine. I don't like the sex scenes, though, because they don't mesh well with what's going on. Suppose they had to be included in order to sell, sigh.

Saw a funny book video this week from Liz Jasper, a fellow author at Cerridwen. I'm interested in book videos -- I'll have to do one soon -- and so looked it up. Great hook -- I bought the book! Discovered that Cerridwen may offer a better deal than most on the actual price of the book but that their postage rates are utterly outrageous! Ordered it from Amazon instead, but Liz told me just afterward that the best deal was from Barnes & Noble, whose original price was low AND who had decent postage rates. Sigh.

This week is Book in a Week week, a week in which interested authors from our local group try to write first draft material as hard as they can. No, no one's expected to draft an actual book in a week. I've read finished books that were done in a week or week and a half, and, well, you could tell. Bleah.

Anyway, I'm in charge of these monthly challenges but I told the group that I'd be joining them only in that writing would take top priority for me this week. So what did I do on Day 1, yesterday? Put up a new webpage and burned that huge pile of leaves that's been sitting in the backyard waiting for a day without wind. (As soon as I lit the match, the wind began to kick up. Still, it wasn't as lively as it is today and everything that was supposed to burn, burned, and everything that was not, did not.) Okay, I got two chapters kinda fixed, but they were really easy.

Today I watched TV, which I've been doing hard for the last week (just got extended channels along with the local ones, which I got because of the upcoming digital changeover). Tore myself away and did a little work on the book before my radio shows came on, signaling that it was Painting Time. Got some good progress made on Ye Abstract. Should have it finished by end of day today, though I don't know if it'll still be light enough to take a pic so I can post.

I want to get this final draft final drafted so I can send the thing off to Cerridwen! After that I'll be finishing "Nothing Personal" and then going on to Book 3 in my Three Worlds series, which just needs a really serious and heartless edit to knock off a hundred or more pages, all of which -- I bet -- are Process, Process, Process.

I love introducing characters to the reader even though these characters will not come into serious play for three more volumes. I love showing the setup of my Mega-Legion, how it functions in its universe, what weaponry it uses, what the members eat, how their evolution happened, how they decorate their hallways.

Now all I have to do it cut all that, keeping enough in so the reader isn't confused and is able to follow a crisply-paced plot that concerns interesting characters in exciting situations.


Think I'll go outside and read a bit now...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Whine and cheese product

When can you tell you're finished with creating something? I've called it quits for the day... for the week, rather, on the abstract. It's looking a helluva lot better than it did last week, and even more so than that than it did Friday, but still... Well, you can tell it's a sunrise or perhaps sunset through the woods, and that's what the intent was.

Too bad it doesn't hit me yet as being done.

(Maybe that's because I haven't followed through on my two dominant kinds of shapes. Hm and aha!)

Speaking of done, I thought I'd hit one of my goals this week by entering an art contest. I got everything all formatted the way they said they wanted an e-entry done for the North Light cover contest and started filling out the entry form. A line at the bottom caught my eye: "Contest is closed for entries."

Checking closer, I saw that the deadline was not Jan. 31st, but to be done BY Jan. 31st, which meant the 30th.

Missed it by THAT much! Oh well, there's still all the contests in "International Artist" to enter, what the hey.

I've been reading a manuscript by an e-columnist about superheroines and finally completed that. I sent him comments and darn it all, he commented back, so I've got to do some research on one question in particular to get back to him with. Ending a sentence with a preposition, yeah, I know. Anyway, if you'd like to help I've posted the same question on the DCMBs under BoP and GA/BC because it's a Black Canary question.

This author claims that by the start of BoP "Black Canary had been the strident 70’s feminist heroine who was now burned out on the whole superhero scene." I told him that I didn't recall her being strident about anything having to do with feminism in the Seventies. The only thing strident about her was her Canary cry. She was merely GA's arm candy.
Would anyone here like to comment?

And this guy is listening to me? The author is obviously not like me. When my crit partners made comments about my stuff (though it was fiction, as opposed to this book) I would take into account quite heavily who was giving me the comment. Some crit partners I'd silently but instantly dismiss unless someone else in the group echoed the sentiment. However, if two null partners said the same thing, I gave the section in question a second look.

Is that absolutely awful of me or is it merely a show of efficiency? Just to pay attention to the ones whose opinions I've found usually to be significant, that is. Oh, don't tell me; I know. I'm extremely opinionated. And I don't give a darn that others think so. (I am completely baffled by those who can't make up their own minds about even the simplest of things!) (Though up at least until now I have restrained myself from slapping silly any of them in the hopes that that would snap them to their senses.)

On my to-do list I also have several indexes that a kind gentleman has sent me in hopes that I'll post them on my WW website, listings of Amazon appearances across the DCU and such. I'm going to try to wade through those this week so I can free up my desk for writing my own stuff. I think readers will find it helpful in their own research projects. Just hope I can make it all purty and legible and such.

Trying to finish up all these projects so I can move on to others and raise my writing up to Project #1 again! I've got goals to hit. I was going to go to Atlanta in March for a plotting weekend but have decided to stay home instead because I already know how to plot. Why waste my time in a workshop (though I've heard it's an extremely good one) when I could be doing the preliminary plotwork on my next two books?

Hope you all are progressing on projects of your own.