Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 – Reading Roundup

    It’s one of the nerdiest things I do, but I keep a spreadsheet of the books I read during the year. This would make sense if I were a book reviewer or had some other reason, but I basically do it because it lets me use my spreadsheet program. I do love my spreadsheets.
    Anyway, I’ve done this for three years so I feel like I can now spot trends in how I read. I was a reporter for several years, and as every journalist knows, if you have three similar events, you've got a trend.
    What I’ve learned is that I’m remarkably consistent in my reading patterns. In 2012, I read 51 books – the same number I read in 2011 and just one more than I read in 2010. I seem to have found a pace that I’m happy with.
    What did change this year is that I read far less nonfiction this year than in previous years – only four books in 2012, compared with nine in 2011 and six in 2010. Of the four nonfiction books, I have two favorites. The first is Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. So hilarious that I had to stop reading in bed because I kept waking up my husband by snort-laughing.
    The other was Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. The author is mad as hell about the financial crisis, as we all should be, and this book should be required reading for anyone who thinks the recession was caused by that those irresponsible people who bought a house they couldn’t afford. I had to read this in small chunks because I could feel my blood pressure rising as I turned the pages. I highly recommend both books, but for entirely different reasons.
    My fiction reading consisted of mostly contemporary romance and romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense and mystery subcategories. I read more novels and fewer novellas and shorts this year. My favorite was probably In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I loved the writing, the characters, the setting, the story. The author did such a beautiful job building the connection between Clare and Russ. I haven’t read the next in the series yet, but I will and probably very soon.
    This year I also revisited Amanda Stevens’ series that started with The Restorer, one of my favorites from last year. The Kingdom (book 2) and The Prophet (book 3) were excellent and among my favorite fiction reads this year, too. This is an author I will add to my auto-buy list. In fact, she’s the reason I created an auto-buy list.
    Also on that new list:  Liliana Hart. I loved Whiskey Rebellion and Whiskey Sour and am anxiously awaiting the next in that series. Also, I binged on the MacKenzie family series. Then this month, I discovered Dirty Little Secrets, another series with a smart and smart-ass heroine, which I also loved. Thankfully, there’s a sequel in the J.J. Graves series, so I have something to keep me happy until there’s another Whiskey book out.
    What stands out the most from my reading habits in 2012 is that most of the books that I marked as my favorites were told in first-person POV. This was the same in 2011. I have always thought that I preferred third-person POV, but I really need to reconsider this. My own writing projects are all told in third person, but I am thinking about whether this is the right fit for me.
    So maybe that’s another benefit in keeping track of my book consumption. I think I’ll be adding a new item to my 2013 resolution list – to give first-person POV a try in my own writing.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Greetings!

   The holiday break is here and just in time. I was starting to feel like these Christmas tree lights -- tangled, half-burned out. A little dim.
   Now my office is closed until January. The tree is up and lit. There are presents wrapped. Packages have been mailed. Cards addressed and sent. Cookies were baked. Then eaten. And then more cookies were baked because those were supposed to given to other people.
   I'm also writing and working toward my goal of finishing one of those unfinished projects by the end of this year. Nothing like a deadline to inspire.
   Should you be in need of your own inspiration, I recommend a Tom & Jerry. That's an old family recipe that I've shared before. Works wonders. Enjoy the holiday season!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Resolutions – November Update

    I didn’t participate in Nanowrimo this year because I spent the month mired in work. So. Much. Work. I did manage to get some writing done. I’m still not sure how, but my spreadsheet shows that I wrote 5,623 words in November.
    I wrote on eight days last month, which is very few — but still surprised me, since I worked at least one day every weekend last month. Somehow, I was able to escape into my imagination in the middle of a stressful, busy time at work.
    The bulk of my writing was on the project formerly known as the novella — 3,718 words. The former novella now stands at 73,000 words. I think it’s time to find a new nickname for it. I also wrote a short scene for the eventual sequel to that project, adding 878 words. And I wrote 1,027 words on last year’s Nano project, which I would love to complete next year.
    I am now at 133,879 words for this year. Last year at this time, I had written 100,769 words. In November 2011, I wrote 15,479 words, which was my late entry into Nanowrimo.
    But despite the excellent word-count, the number of WIPs completed in 2012 stands at zero. We’re closing in on the end of 2012, so I’ve decided to focus on the former novella. I had a goal of 85,000 words for that project, so I’m only about 12,000 words shy of that. And since my chapters run about 3,000 to 4,000 words, I’m only about three chapters from the end. My characters are arcing, my plot threads are ready to be tied together. It’s so very close.
    And that is where I will be for the next four weeks — focusing on wrapping up the last chapters of this WIP so it will be complete by the end of the year. That was, after all, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 — finish something, anything.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Five Weeks To Go

Thanksgiving sunset
   Thanksgiving is over and so is my major work commitment that kept me from participating in NaNoWriMo. I'm looking forward to the next five weeks when I can better balance work and writing.
   The month wasn't a total bust because I did get a few scenes written, mostly this weekend while I was on the road to visit family. This coming five weeks, though, is the make-or-break period for one of my 2012 goals -- to finish one of my WIPs. I have two contenders and need to focus on one of them to make this goal.
   To that end, I just bought Rachel Aaron's awesome writing book, 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. I've heard Rachel interviewed on several podcasts and was inspired by her approach to figuring out she could write faster. She developed a three-prong approach centered on knowledge, time and enthusiasm. Knowledge is knowing what you're going to write before you start. I'm more of a plotter than a pantser, though I'm not fully in either category. Time is tracking your productivity to see when you write best and under what conditions. And enthusiasm is keeping yourself excited about what you're writing. I've read the blog posts, but the author has added to that in the e-book and it is  worth far more than the 99-cent price.
   This week, I'm working on the project formerly known as the novella and I'm going to finish the outline, so I will know what scenes need to be written. I have a pretty good scene list, but it's lacking the last 20 percent. Taking Rachel's advice, I'm writing the end first and will then figure out how to get there from where I am.
    And where I am right now is in front of my computer with a couple hours before I need to go to bed. So I'm going to get started... now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Resolutions – October Update

    This has not been a writerly month (it’s a word) (I had to check). The reason? I will be spending November in trial and when that happens, the month before is spent preparing for that trial. When preparing for or in trial, my client deserves my full attention. So no guilt that I only wrote 3,825 words in October. Frankly, I’m not sure when or how I managed to get that many words onto paper.
    Here’s the break-down: I wrote on six days last month; I wrote 3,263 words on the sequel to the novella, 152 words on the suspense novel, 168 words on last year’s NaNoWriMo project, and 242 words on the novella. Not great. Still, it’s better than last year, when I wrote one day and only logged 368 words in October. Yes, I had a lengthy trial last November, too. I really need to schedule work better so I can take part in NaNoWriMo next year.
    I'm now at 128,256 words for the year. That's not too shabby. Even with last month's anemic efforts toward my writing goals, I'm ahead of last year at this time, when I had 85,019 words done. The end of the year is fast approaching, though, and one of my goals is to finish something in 2012. 
    While not writing, and when not working, I have been thinking a lot about story structure, raising stakes for characters, and motivation. I have many handwritten notes about what I want to do once December arrives and things return to normal. At the top of that to-do list is “nap,” but a close second is “write.” I’m actually looking forward to the second item more (and I do love to nap).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cheering From The Sidelines

  This is the third year in a row where I have a work commitment set for November, seriously cutting into any chance I have to participate in NaNoWriMo. I've never thought that November was a good time to devote one month to writing a 50,000-word novel. But I do love the idea of a community of writers all supporting each other as they work toward that incredible goal.
  Last year, I jumped in late because of a trial that ended the first week of November, and still managed to write about 15,000 words. But this year, I will be cheering from the sidelines. My work schedule is just too busy to even think about writing a new project, getting to know fascinating characters, plotting out a fun story, finding and developing a unique setting...
  Sigh. I will miss the camaraderie this November. For those of you crazy enough to take on this challenge, I'm pulling for you. May the words just flow from your mind. And feel free to join my lobbying efforts for an August NaNoWriMo.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Resolutions – September Update

    After the blockbuster August writing binge, my poor muse was exhausted. As a result, September was not a great month for writing. I felt wrung out, creatively, at least. I’m sure part of this was because I was working a LOT and by the time I got home in the evening, my brain was pretty well mush.
    Even with this break, I managed to get 4,888 words on paper this month. Not great, but better than September 2011, when I wrote 3,367 words. Last month I wrote 406 words on the novella project, and 1,151 on an idea that I needed to excise from my brain and get on paper so it would leave me alone. I wrote 1,495 words on the romantic suspense novel that I’d been neglecting for a couple months. I also wrote 1,582 words on last year’s NaNoWriMo project.
     I wrote 10 days last month, a far cry from my daily writing streak in August. And I did miss it. I’d like to find a happy medium in October – maybe write at least 5 days a week. Still, I am at 124,431 words for the year.
    This year, once again, I have an unavoidable work commitment the first week in November, so I don’t think I’ll be participating in the official NaNoWriMo. I may jump in late, depending on when my work project wraps up. To prepare, I’ve been studying the method put forth by Rachel Aaron in her brilliant post “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day.” She’s also been interviewed on a couple of my favorite podcasts — The First Million Words and The Dead Robots’ Society. I'm totally going to give this a try, even though I'm not starting from writing 2,000 words. I especially love the idea of sketching out the scene you're going to write before sitting down to write. When I've done this in the past, it has helped me focus and write faster.
    One of my main goals for 2012 was to finish one of my lingering WIPs and I haven't done that yet. But I am still confident that I can. I need to take a hard look at the romantic suspense WIP and see what scenes I need to write to get to the end. I already have three potential endings sketched out, but I've been stumped on how to make it to that point from where I am. In the last month, I've had several ideas on that. Now it's time to get them written down. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

View from our Table

   Yes, yes, another vacation photograph instead of an entry. Hey, it's not a cat photo. This time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back at the Helm

Point Reyes, Calif.
     After a couple rough weeks of writing, I'm back at the keyboard. Now the problem is which project to work on next? While I work on that, enjoy this photograph from my archives. I'll write actual words to post soon, but not today. Today is for revisiting my imaginary friends and seeing what trouble I can get them into.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Enjoy the Weekend

Boat in the surf, Mexico, 2008.

  Well. I just don't have a lot to say these last couple of weeks. That's not going to change right away, since I have house-guests this weekend and will be busy entertaining. I might be able to get some writing done, but after last month's marathon writing streak, I think I just needed a bit of a break. My brain feels wrung out.
  So, enjoy this photo from Mexico. And enjoy the weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Resolutions — August Update

    I have long had a theory that National Novel Writing Month should have been set in August, not November. There’s simply too much going on in November — Thanksgiving, holiday preparations, travel, family visits, and if you’re a student, you’re preparing for finals and finishing (or starting) those semester-long projects. But what’s going on in August? Nothing. No holidays. It’s summer. It’s hot (at least here), which keeps people inside during the hottest part of the day. Perfect for writing. Hell, take your notebook outside or to the beach and write.
    My writing progress last month supports my theory. This was the single most productive month I’ve had since I started tracking my word counts. Drum roll, please …
    My total word-count this month:  41,810.
    Now, a small disclaimer:  I’m counting the dates between July 30 and September 2 because that’s how my August spreadsheet is set up. Still, I wrote every day (except one), which was one of my goals for 2012.
    In July, I wrote 3,381 words. I far exceeded my August 2011 total, when I wrote 2,951 words.
    I wrote 28,300 words on the project formerly known as the novella, but which has grown into a full-length novel. I’m pretty close to being finished, with nearly 70,000 words written. I am stumped on the last few chapters, but it will come.
    I wrote 6,372 words on what will eventually be the sequel to this project. These were scenes that I had to write because those characters were haunting me until I memorialized the ideas. Toward the end of August, I began to think about the project I started during NaNoWriMo 2011. This happened when I stalled out on novella’s third act. I ended up writing 7,009 words on this project, though a lot of that was just scene synopses.
    My best day writing, I produced 4,281 words. I have a couple of days when I only managed to get a net gain of 20 or 49 words. These days were the victim of Scrivener’s daily word-count tracker, which will count backwards. I think I deleted some large paragraphs, then rewrote them, so I didn’t have much progress in quantity, though the quality probably (hopefully) improved.
    What was the reason behind my most productive writing month ever? Part of it was a week of vacation, during which I wrote more than 10,000 words. That was followed by a slow week at work, when I was able to leave early or come in late each day, so I had the time and mental energy to spend on my personal projects. More importantly, I joined an informal band of writers at Romance Divas who decided to have a NaNoWriMo in August. That accountability and camaraderie was hugely instrumental in spurring me on to write each day.
    So was having a streak of many days in a row where I wrote. Last night, for example, I didn’t sit down to write until 9 p.m., but I knew I had to produce something or I would have a blank spot on my daily writing calendar. Luckily, I had just gotten a chapter back from my critique partner, so I made some edits to that chapter and ended with a 49-word net gain.
    As of last night, I’ve written 119,543 words in 2012. That is way ahead of last year, when I was at 71,060 by the end of August.
    For September, I hope to finish the novella project and keep up the daily writing. I like the way the spreadsheet looks with all the numbers plugged into the dates. I may also work on the scene list for last year’s NaNoWriMo project, so when November rolls around again, I’ll be ready to dive back into that story.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Estoy Escribiendo

    Still writing, writing, writing. Still not to the end of this WIP. My notoriously fickle muse is distracted by last year's NaNoWriMo project and is full of great ideas about the wrong damn story. Focus, muse. We're really close to "the end." Don't abandon me and this project just yet.
    In the meantime, enjoy a lovely photo from my last vacation to Mexico. It's one of my favorite places on the planet.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Time for a Field Trip

   I churned out a few hundred words this morning, but it felt like churning. Nothing came easy. So I'm stepping away from the keyboard and going outside to play. Wine tasting, a picnic lunch, meeting good friends for the afternoon and possibly dinner later at a favorite restaurant. It sounds like a prescription for inspiration, doesn't it?
   I'll return to the story tomorrow, and hopefully will have figured out how to finish this WIP. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One Goal Accomplished!

Scrivener is the best!
   So, this happened last night. I got up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because it was too hot, the cat was patting my head, and I had a glimmer of an idea about how to resolve the plot problem I've been stuck on.
   What else are you going to do between 1:30 and 3 a.m.? I started writing and around 2:15 a.m., I passed my initial word-count goal of 65,000.
   I am not done with the story yet. But I'm close. So very close. Another couple sleepless nights and I should be able to write those two elusive words: 
    The End.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Peach Recipe #1 — Peach Cobbler

  If it's the hottest week of the year, then it must be time to pick peaches. That's because then you have to can peaches, make peach jam, or bake pies with those peaches and all of those things heat the house up to approximately 175 degrees. Celsius.
  But it's worth it, because oh, man, peaches!
  These are the peaches from the tree that the neighbors planted too close to the fence. About 1/4 of the fruit is in my yard. This is just one of the many reasons why they're my favorite neighbors.
  The first basket of peaches was turned into two pies (one for the neighbor). I have been eating peaches on cereal, in yogurt, and while standing over the sink with the juice running down my arms.
  The temperature is a mere 87 degrees today, so I braved the heat and baked a peach cobbler this afternoon. I adapted my grandmother's recipe for berry cobbler. So, here is a great all-purpose cobbler recipe. It's best served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Grandma's Berry (or Peach) Cobbler

The cobbler is not photogenic, so here are the pies.
   1-1/2 cup flour
   2 tsp baking powder
   1/2 tsp salt
   1 cup sugar
   1 egg, well beaten
   3 tbsp. butter, melted
   1 cup milk
   fresh berries (or sliced peaches)

Mix dry ingredients and sift into bowl.  Slowly add egg, butter and milk.  Pour into greased, shallow pan.  Cover thickly with fruit. Over the fruit, pour syrup made of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water.  Bake about 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Dark and Stormy Night

How did I miss this? The 2012 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest winners were announced this week. As usual, my favorite is one of the dishonorable mentions:
Tucked in a dim corner of The Ample Bounty Bar & Grille, Alice welcomed the fervent touch of the mysterious stranger’s experienced hands because she had not been this close with a man in an achingly long time and, quivering breathlessly, began to think that this could be the beginning of something real, something forever, and not just a one-time encounter with a good Samaritan who was skilled at the Heimlich Maneuver. — Mark Wisnewski, Flanders, NJ (dishonorable mention, Romance Category). 

Note to self: Need more photos of stormy nights. This isn't even close.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's a Dry Heat

   Great balls of fire, it is HOT this week. We're also seeing (and smelling) a lot of smoke from wildfires. It's a perfect recipe for a grand headache.
   So this won't end up being a post about the weather, an update on writing:  I'm doing a lot of it. I've written every day this month, which was one of my goals for 2012. I've also written more than 26,000 words since July 31. And I figured out how to fix some plot issues. I will have plenty of other plot problems to fix in revision. I'll have to layer in a subplot that I started and haven't come back to yet.  But I am closing in on "the end." It's a good feeling.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The End Is Near!

     There is so much writing going on here. This week, I wrote just over 13,000 words and I have tomorrow to myself, so I will probably add to that total.
     It also feels like I'm getting close to finishing this WIP. This is huge. I have not finished a WIP yet. Ever. This was a project that started out as a novella idea, but is now at 60,000 words, so I think it will end up being a 85,000-word novel. I think the first draft will be around 70,000 words or a little more, but I will need to go back and pave over some of the plot holes I'm ignoring right now as I race toward the finish. It feels like I'm gaining momentum as I get closer, so I've had some really productive days. 
     However, today it's well over 100 degrees and so damn uncomfortable that I haven't felt like doing much except laying on the floor under the ceiling fan. I wrote 140 words, then gave up and drank wine because it was the only beverage in my house that was chilled. Productivity suffered.
Also, is this normal? My new cat sleeps on her back with her feet in the air. I hope this means she's really secure in her new home and not that there's a layer of carbon monoxide floating above the floor.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Am Writing

   Another vacation picture? Well, sure. I can probably find another photo to post instead of actually writing something.

    In truth, I've been writing A LOT. On my novels and stuff, so I want to continue that streak. I'll be back with words again soon, but right now, I need to go figure our why my hero just dumped my heroine at the end of chapter 19. What the hell, dude? Where did that come from?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

In the Dead of Night

View from the top of Lombard Street, San Francisco, very late one August night.
   I'm starting to wonder if my most productive time of the day, for writing at least, is in the middle of the night. Insomnia and I are well acquainted. It's not unusual for me to get up around 12:30 a.m. and go write for an hour or two. This happened last week, when thankfully I didn't have to work the next day, and a 60-minute writing session produced more than 1,000 words and a pretty good breakthrough in the story. I even went back to re-read the scene in the light of day and didn't hate it (that's praise -- this is a first draft, so I'm not concerned with quality right now).
   But I don't want to have to schedule a midnight wake-up call to write when I have a full-time job that requires me to be alert by 8 a.m. So, once you've identified your most productive time of the day, can you reprogram yourself? Can I train myself to be more productive at, say, 7 p.m. or 6 a.m.?
   Or would I want to? I complain about insomnia, but I also love how quiet the house is when I'm the only one awake. I love sitting in a darkened room, next to an open window, tapping away at my laptop and falling completely into my story. Sure, I'm dragging the next morning, but I don't know that I'd trade that temporary sluggishness for a full night sleep if I have to give up my midnight excursion into my make-believe world.
    After all, there's always coffee.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Resolution — July Update

    I was so sure that July was going to be a better writing month. I was inspired! I had fresh new ideas on how to fix those plot holes and help my characters arc. Unfortunately, I also had a whole lot of work. And then a vacation. And you know how it is when you’re planning a couple weeks off. There’s lots to do to prepare for that. So, the writing projects got put on the back-burner.
    Still, I got a scene off to my critique partner and got encouraging feedback on it. And I wrote 3,831 words during the first two weeks. The second two weeks were a total bust. In my defense, I was in a cabin in the woods for one of those weeks. It was a great vacation and was just what I needed to refresh my creativity. Just not real productive, in word count, at least.
    Last month, I wrote 2,465 words on the novella project and 1,338 words on its sequel. I also wrote 28 words on the novel, which I think was some minor editing that I did on the scene that went off to my critique partner for her review.
    This is a far cry from what I managed to write last July, when I wrote 29,114 words. Yes, nearly 30,000 words in one month. How did I do that? Well, last year, we took the fiscally-mandated “stay-cation” (a word that I really hate) and I wrote more than 26,000 words during that two-week span. This year, we actually traveled across the country for our vacation. Good for us; bad for my novel.
    So far this year, I’ve written 77,733 words. That’s still ahead of last year, when I was at 68,109 words for the year.
    For the next month, I plan to get off to a good start on my daily writing goal. The new spreadsheet started yesterday, and I’ve got a couple thousand words on it already. I have another week before I have to return to work and I’m feeling very refreshed and ready to write. So I think I’ll go get started on that right now.

Monday, July 23, 2012


    I swear, this isn't a gardening blog. I don't know what it is, but really, that's not my goal.
    However, I am producing more tomatoes than words lately, so it's what you get. 
    Here's a picture of a tiny tomato plant put into the ground around the very end of May.

     And here it is on July 5. It's bigger now and is climbing out of the top of the cage. Still no fruit on this on, but lots of flowers.

     I received these in the mail from my critique partner a few weeks ago and wow! The timing couldn't be better. I've made several recipes from the new books using my own veggies.
     Thanks, D! You're awesome!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

O California

   I had the day off work today, so I planned to write a substantive post, instead of another recipe. Maybe something about writing. Character. Location, Conflicts. I had many ideas. 
   But it is too hot to ... well, fill in the blank with anything you'd like. It is another day to lay on the floor under the ceiling fan. I did wake up early to write and got 1,200 words written on a WIP. Then the heat hit and sapped all my energy and creativity. Tomorrow, I will try again. 

There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California. — Edward Abbey

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tomato Recipe #3 — Pyllo Pizza with Tomato and Feta

     Sometimes, it pays to never, ever throw anything away. Usually, it’s a pain in the ass and an express pass to a starring role on Hoarders. But once in a while, it pays off.
     Case in point:  I knew I had once clipped a recipe from a Sur la Table catalog for a phyllo dough tart with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese. I couldn’t find it online, at least, not the right recipe. I did find a recipe that looked similar, but it wasn’t quite right. So as a last resort, I turned to my recipe file.
     My recipe file is a box of photocopies, clipped magazine pages, and grease-stained recipe cards with no discernible organization except strata. The most recently used or clipped recipes are generally toward the top of the stack. I knew I hadn’t seen this recipe in a while, so I dumped it out and started at the bottom.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tomato Recipe #2 — Caprese Salad

    The cherry tomatoes are ripening fast and they really don’t keep for too long, so suddenly we’re eating salads twice a day to keep up with the tomato production. This isn’t a bad thing — a nice crisp green salad with crunchy peppers and sweet cherry tomatoes, a little onion and maybe a few bleu cheese or goat cheese crumbles on top. That’s an easy and tasty lunch.
    But by the second week, I was craving something a little different. Hence, the caprese salad. It looked like a good way to use a lot more tomatoes.
    In addition to planting too many tomatoes, I also put in too many basil plants. I haven’t had much luck with basil in the past. It goes to seed too quickly or gets crowded out by other plants and doesn’t get enough sun. But this year, it’s thriving. All four plants are full of fragrant leaves.
    To assemble this very easy salad, first halve about a pint of cherry tomatoes. I used Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, which turn a beautiful shade of orange, and yellow pear tomatoes. I also had a handful of small Early Girl tomatoes that ripened in a brief heat wave before they reached their usual full size. I cut these into small chunks.
    For the dressing, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a little white wine vinegar. Add minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. I wasn’t going to use lemon juice, but I still have lemons on the tree. Also, Rachel Ray uses lemon juice in her recipe, so there ya go.
    Alternatively, The Pioneer Woman uses a balsamic vinegar reduction, and I endorse heartily anything The Pioneer Woman does. Her fancy mac-and-cheese recipe is solely responsible for the larger one-third of my wardrobe. Today, though, I didn't want to turn on the stove to reduce the vinegar. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar for flavor.
    Drain some small mozzarella balls — bocconcino. You can find them at Trader Joe’s in the mini size. Or you probably find slightly larger size at any grocery store. I had the regular sized ones, cut into smaller chunks.
    Cut the basil, using the chiffonade method. Combine the mozzarella and tomatoes and then drizzle with the dressing and added the basil last.
    This is an easy salad to throw together and it keeps in the refrigerator overnight. I’ve used the leftovers, when there are any, as a topping for bruschetta or a green salad.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Half a Year of Books

    I keep track of the books I read in a spreadsheet. It’s pretty nerdy, but I like that I can look back and see which authors I enjoyed, what I loved, what I hated, and how my reading tastes have changed. I did a summary for 2011, and since we’re halfway through 2012, it seems like a good time to do a recap of my reading so far this year.
    Since January, I’ve read 28 books. The vast majority were fiction. In fact, my non-fiction reading has tapered off quite a bit. I think a lot of that is because I have a to-be-read pile that is threatening to topple over and kill me in my sleep and it’s almost all fiction. Even my electronic to-be-read pile, the folder on my Kindle, is huge and full of books that I bought on impulse or on sale or on a really strong recommendation. So, while I’m trying to work my way through that pile, I haven’t been looking for new nonfiction books. Also, I’m not currently obsessed with any particular topic right now. Typically, I will read something that triggers a need to learn more about the subject (The Troubles in Northern Ireland, post-colonial West Africa, the financial crisis) and then read everything I can get my hands on until I run out of steam. Apparently, I’m between nerd-outs.
    Most of my reading was on my beloved Kindle, and I've only listened to two audiobooks so far this year. That's below average for me, but I blame the ready supply of quality podcasts that I've been listening to on my commute.
    So, of the 25 fiction books I’ve read, the overwhelming majority were some sort of romance — skewed heavily toward romantic suspense. I’ve got a few on the list that were mysteries or thrillers, without the romantic element, but only a few. I read my first Anne Stuart book this year, followed by my second Anne Stuart. And there’s a third coming up on my to-be-read list. I can’t believe I haven’t read her before now. She’s just wonderful.
    I usually don’t do reviews because that’s not what this site is about. Also, my notes on what I loved are too vague to be of use to anyone else. It's like how my wine tasting notes basically amount to "tasty!" However, here are a few of my favorites so far this year.
    First, A Little Night Magic, by Lucy March (aka Lani Diane Rich). I loved this quirky, fun, light paranormal romance and recommended it to everyone I know who reads. I am impatiently awaiting the second novel. It will be one I pre-order.
    In the Bleak Midwinter, by Julia Spencer-Fleming, was an incredible book. I just loved it. I learned about this from a review from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and I am so happy I did. The book is incredibly well-written, the characters are genuine and the growing story of their relationship is compelling. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. And since this book came out in 2003, there are many more to read.
    The Kingdom, by Amanda Stevens, the second in the Graveyard Queen series. Oh, my god, I adore this series. I’m reading the third book, The Prophet, right now. The first book, The Restorer, was one of my favorite reads of 2011. The second and third books are just as good.
    Not that this is a contest, but if it were, honorable mention would go to Whiskey Rebellion, by Liliana Hart, because it made me laugh out loud and wake up my husband. I love a book that does that.
     In the next six months, I think I'm going to focus on adding some nonfiction to my diet (it's like fiber, it's good for you and can be delicious). Also, I have amassed some serious credits in my account, so I'm going to let someone read to me while I drive.
     If you have any recommendations, please feel free to share!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Resolution — June Update

    This month, I made some steady progress on several fronts. First, progress on the novella project, including sending the first four chapters off to my critique partner for her initial impressions. Second, progress on the novel. And third, progress toward my New Years resolution to write regularly and to complete one of these damn works-in-progress.
    By the numbers, June was a pretty good month. I wrote 12,664 words. That’s more than last month (9,794) and about what I wrote in June 2011 (12,297). I wrote 5,410 on the novella. On the novel, I wrote 4,574 words. I also feel like I broke through a wall that has been keeping me from moving forward on that project. I wrote 2,680 words on a miscellaneous story that was haunting me, which I finally put down on paper just to get it out of my mind. So creatively, as well as just by the numbers, June was a good month for writing.
    I wrote 13 days this month, which considering my work schedule, wasn’t too bad. It’s one day more than last month’s tally. My best day was 2,899 words, which was followed by a 2,680-word day. That was also my most productive week.   
    This brings my total word count for 2012 to 73,902. Last year at this point, I was at 38,995 words, so I’m definitely writing more this year.
    It was a huge step for me to send to my critique partner the four chapters of the novella (which is already at 40,000 words, so is probably not going to be a novella after all). I really wanted to finish a draft before getting feedback, but I’m at a stage where I need some advice about the big picture issues. I have some ideas sketched out for the last act, but there are gaping plot holes to figure out yet.
    In July, I have some work events that are going to keep me from writing for about a week, and I have a vacation at the end of the month. Still, I think I can top both the word-count and the number of days in which I write. It helps to vacation with working writers who inspire me to keep at it.
    Since we’re now halfway through 2012 (uh, yikes!), I think I may also do an update on the books I’ve read this year. Yes, I have a spreadsheet for that, too. My inner accountant is fighting her way out, one statistical tracking device at a time.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tomato Recipe #1

Good god, there's still lemons.
    The tomatoes are here! These are small ones yet, but there are more on the way. In the meantime, I think I have most of the ingredients for my favorite recipes. I still have lemons on the tree from winter. I didn't plant any corn this year, but otherwise, I think I'm ready to go.
    So, if you, too, have a tomatoes, lemons, corn, green onions and a few other ingredients, I highly recommend that you throw together a a tomato corn pie. This is my favorite summer recipe. I'd recommend following the directions, including peeling the tomatoes and getting rid of the seeds and juicy parts. Yes, they are very flavorful, but there is so much flavor in the pie, you won't miss it.
     This pie tastes like summer to me -- tart from the lemon, sweet from the corn, and the tomatoes! Oh, it's so good! I'm making this Sunday for dinner. You should, too!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nice Work If You Can Get It

La Manzanilla, Mexico, 2007.
   I'm sitting on the patio writing. This is what I want to do full time. Unfortunately, there is the small matter of health insurance, mortgage, and oh, yes, student loans. I'm not quitting the day job any time soon. But for now, I'm going to enjoy the view of my garden while sitting in the backyard, sipping an iced coffee, and telling stories. In terms of a relaxing weekend, it doesn't get much better than this for me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Driving between courthouses, I noticed several groups of women walking toward the office buildings, carrying bags of fruit and vegetables and cut flowers. It was a sure sign that there was a farmer's market nearby.
    I found it a block off my route, found a parking space three blocks away from the market, and jogged back (as much as one cares to jog in 94 degree weather while wearing a suit). It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for. I passed up the rest of the fruits, vegetables, jars of locally harvested honey, olive oils, and bundles of lavender to get to the table loaded down with cherries.
    I made it to my next appearance, fingers a little sticky, but on time. Some of my bounty even made it home. Spring and summer in California is really delicious.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Good Day Shopping

Perfect for a casual outdoor wedding.
     Writing:  Yes, I have been. This morning, I remembered a story that a coworker told me years ago. It was something that happened to her -- something weird and eerie and which was left unexplained. Unfortunately, I remembered the story while driving, so I couldn't write it down. When I got to work, I was distracted by email, voicemail, coworkers, and the usual, and an hour later was scratching my head. What was that idea I wanted to write down as soon as I got to the office? Thankfully, it came to me later and I wrote myself a brief note so I wouldn't forget again. When I got home, I turned that paragraph into 3,000 words, which I was filed away under Ideas I Will Get To Later (Hopefully).
     And then I came home and had new shoes waiting for me. Interesting story inspiration, productive writing session, and cute new shoes? Now that is a good day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Resolution — May Update

    Finally! Some progress toward my writing goals. The spring has been tough for me, but in May* I wrote 9,794 words. Yay! This is better than April (4,124 words) and even better than May 2011 (8,104 words). My total for the year is now 61,238 words. Holy crap! That’s a lot!
    Most of the last month’s work was on the main novel I’d like to finish soon. I wrote 7,485 words on that. The rest was either the novella or some miscellaneous notes on future projects that I wrote down to keep the plot bunnies at bay.
    I only wrote 12 days last month, but considering my workload last month, that’s OK with me. The highest daily word count was 1,841 words, which I wrote in the car while my husband drove to our mountain getaway.
    Best of all, I feel like things are clicking into place. I wasn’t seeing my heroine’s strengths coming through, so I decided to put more pressure on her — financial, career, romantic. Seems to be working. I like her better when she’s being tortured.
    Next month I hope to be able to report even better word counts, and one that includes the two most important words — The End.

* Because of how my spreadsheet is structured, May includes some extra days — April 30, June 1-3. Yes, that’s five full weeks in May. This is a homemade calendar/spreadsheet and it’s just how it worked out. Here’s a screen shot of the spreadsheet I use to track my writing progress.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seeking Tomato Recipes

    Looks all innocent, doesn't it? Just a few little tomato plants. A friend raises heirloom tomatoes from seeds each year and she gave me these last weekend. I accepted because I love growing things and I love tomatoes and I especially love growing tomatoes because I live in an area where they thrive, so it's easy.
    Unfortunately, I already had put in four plants and my friend gave me 9 more. Now, I'm not sure if you know how many tomatoes one plant can produce, but it's a lot. A whole lot. So much more than two people could ever consume in a summer.
    One of the plants is a Strawberry Oxheart, which apparently produces tomatoes that weigh 2 pounds. Two pounds! I have no idea what to do with a tomato of that size, but I'll figure out something. I did give a few of the plants away, but I still have 9 tomato plants in my garden. That's way too many. This is very likely to turn into a cooking blog devoted to recipes for tomatoes in about 75 days.
    Oh, and here's a lovely iris. Spring is so pretty.
    Writing? Yes, I have been. In fact, I'm going to fire up the spreadsheet and report for May very soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

And Thus Does Fortune's Wheel Turn Treacherously*

   So, May has flown right by. A frightening thought. Fortunately, I seem to be getting over the story paralysis that kept me from writing in March and April. Unfortunately, work is keeping me busy enough that finding time to get the words out and onto the page has been a challenge.
   Yes, yes, we all have excuses. I know that if I want to write, I will find the time. Or make the time.
   For instance, this woman made time in the early morning and she works as a lawyer. Good for her. I am inspired to follow in her footsteps. This morning I wrote about 750 words before work. They were good words, too, I think. The scene haunted me last night when I was trying to sleep. I realized that I just wasn't torturing my heroine enough. Instead of sleeping, which I sorely needed to do, I thought about ways to make the poor woman's life miserable.
   Illness? Eh, no one wants to read about a bilious protagonist. Loss of a loved one? Not really necessary to advance the story. Plus, I like my supporting characters too much to kill any of them off (for now). Financial? That's it. She's losing her job. That's in addition to having broken up with a longtime boyfriend, having to compete with her arch rival on a huge career-making assignment, and stumbling into some clues that make her suspect an innocent man is being framed.
   And I think there are yet more anvils waiting to fall on our girl.

* Geoffey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Monk's Tale.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Resolutions — April Update

    So, March was rather a bust on the writing front. April wasn’t much better. In the last month, I wrote 4,124 words. This is not great. I mean, it’s better than April 2011, when I wrote 424 words. But it's not where I want to be with my goals.
    This brings me to 51,444 words written this year, which is an improvement over where I was last year at this time (18,594 words). So this is encouraging. Also encouraging is that I did focus on the one main WIP that I really want to finish. I finally decided to skip the scenes that I was having trouble writing and get to the more exciting part. I still have to go back to fill in those gaps, but I have a pretty good outline for them. And frankly, if I’m this bored writing them, why would anyone want to read them? Maybe it’s time to figure out a different approach to getting that information to the reader because the initial scenes don’t seem to be working.
    I only wrote nine days last month, far from my goal of writing something every day. Last month, I wrote eight days, so a tiny bit of improvement there. My best day was today, with 1,036 words.
    For next month, my goals are to focus on writing every day, no matter how little. I do notice that the daily interaction with the story keeps my creativity flowing. Unfortunately, I have a work commitment that's going to eat up almost two weeks and it's not going to be easy to find time to work on my personal projects. However, I have noticed that when I have the least amount of time to work on my WIPs, that's when inspiration strikes. Maybe this time, when I'm swamped at work and stressed out, I'll figure out a way to rework those troublesome scenes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


   I sat outside this morning with my laptop to enjoy the warm weather and the sun and the incredible smell of the blossoms on the lemon trees. I got some work done (actual work for the paying day job) and then I got some work done (fun work, reading my critique partner's latest chapter) and even started to write a few words on my own WIP.
   It was quite productive. Right up until I identified the faint noise in the background. It had been rising and falling but was mostly drowned out by the usual sounds I hear in the yard – the neighbor's dogs, kids playing outside, a soccer game at a nearby park (also, the infernal car alarm on the '98 Ford Taurus down the block, but it was short-lived).
   When the noise grew louder, I finally got up to look over the fence and see what the new neighbors were up to. And when I got close to the big lemon tree, I saw the source of the buzzing.
    It was this guy. And a couple hundred of his friends. They were also enjoying the lemon blossoms. Or maybe they were getting their work done. I don't know a lot about bees. I will say that they were very industrious and didn't mind me poking around and taking some photographs of them.
   So, while I wasn't working as hard as my little striped visitors, this was a very fruitful start to the weekend.
   Hope your weekend is, also!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Have Fun Storming the Castle

My 3-year-old niece gasped at tower of tiny sandwiches. "Are they for me?"
   A beautiful garden at an historic mansion, a lovely spring day, and a happy and excited bride-to-be. What else do you need for a tea party/bridal shower?
   It was a beautiful setting, and knowing the romantic story behind the couple's meeting, it was also an inspiring way to spend the afternoon. There are some couples who you just know will weather any challenge life brings in the future. 
   And so, I'm off to the keyboard to try and capture some of that inspiration on the page.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Look Beyond the Dark Clouds

  Back when my father and I were warring over pretty much everything, we were stuck in the same car for a very, very long drive. We had nothing to talk about that didn't make him yell and me cry. But we had one cassette tape in his truck and we listened to it several times over. It was my introduction to Levon Helm, my father's favorite musician of all time. He told me about The Band, about the The Last Waltz, about how he discovered this music that spoke to him. It was the best road trip I've ever taken. Especially when we arrived to find my mom waiting in grim anticipation of our arrival, only to see us laughing and talking as we got out of the truck.
  Ever since then, I've considered Levon a member of our family. The peacemaking member.
  My dad remains a fan to this day and will very likely be listening to Midnight Ramble tonight. As will I. Go in peace, Levon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Snow Had Fallen, Snow on Snow*

   I readily admit it:  I'm a bit of a weather wimp. I live in a very moderate climate and I like it that way. I had to ask a friend in New York once just what was this "heat index" everyone on the news was talking about. Answer: Nothing I want to live with.
   But, contrary to a common misconception, there is plenty of weather in California. Here is some photographic proof. A couple winters ago, I woke up at my parents' house and found a good blanket of snow covering the backyard and more coming down. Because I no longer live where it snows, this was exciting. And, like an ill-prepared tourist, I put on some running shoes and grabbed my camera to try and capture the fat, fluffy flakes and the bare trees and the snow-covered train in the background.
   I forgot about the dog. The dog who loves nothing more than to run around in the snow, snapping at the flakes in the air. The dog who totally photo-bombed my attempt to make a lovely scenic picture.
   I suppose I can't blame her completely for the less-than-scenic results. It had been so long since I'd been in the snow, I forgot that those fat snowflakes can hold a lot of water. Within minutes of going outside, I was soaked. What looked like fluffy cotton balls that floated to the ground felt like being pelted with wads of wet paper.
    In the end, I got four shots that didn't have a big drop of water on the lens. All of those shots included the dog. We packed it in for the day and enjoyed the great indoors until the weather improved.

*  This is from the poem In the Bleak Midwinter, by Christina Rosetti (1872). This is also the title of the book I just finished by Julia Spencer-Fleming, which I highly recommend. 

"In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life, Interfering

Howarth, Yorkshire. Home of Brontes.
  It's been a long time since I've checked in and I wish I could say I've been writing. Well, I have been writing, but not anything fun. The thing they don't really tell you when you start thinking about being a lawyer is how much of your job depends on writing. Not that it would have deterred me because I love writing. But I'm ready to write something that's, well, fun. With imaginary people suffering imaginary woes. Instead, my writing has been about real people and real problems and it's been a real downer. But it is what I get paid to do.
   In the middle of this crush of work, I spoke with three people IN A ROW who were heading out on vacations to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and on a cruise ship. Clearly, I am doing something wrong.
   In the last three weeks, my "writing" has consisted mostly of listening to writing podcasts on my commute and thinking about the scene that I need to write and why it is that I'm not inspired to write it. Is there something missing? Why is this scene so difficult to write? It needs to get done, though, so I can get it to my critique partner and then move on to the scene that I want to write.
   Or maybe I'll just skip this scene and skip to the fun stuff.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Writing!

I was going to write something about my hometown. Or my favorite state. But instead, I'm writing! Writing my book! I seemed to have shaken the slump that hit last month. It's not much, but I wrote a 1,000-word scene that explains an antagonist's motivation. It will probably not be in the story, but writing it helped me figure out why he acted the way he did.
Go talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back in a few days.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Resolutions – March Update

    No way to sugar-coat this:  March sucked. The weather was bad. I got sick. Work was a hideous mess of deadlines and impossible demands, topped off with a large serving of crazy. And then there was the shift to Daylight Savings Time, which always throws me for a loop.
    So, I have many explanations for why I didn’t get much writing done. Note that I did not say “excuses.” There is no excuse. I want to write. I need to find the time.
    Here are the numbers:
    Total words written in March 2012 – 5,147. Last year, I wrote 6,210 words in March. Apparently, I don’t feel very creative this time of the year. Last month, I wrote more than 21,000 words, so it’s a huge drop in production. 
    Breaking it down even further, it looks like most of my time was spent on the novella (1,506) and very little on the main WIP (886) that I want to finish, uh, soonish. I had to come up with a new category for miscellaneous writing, and I managed to write 2,755 words in this category. The worst part – and yes, it gets worse than a 75% drop in word production – is that I only wrote 8 days last month. That’s a long way from my goal of writing every day.
    On the plus side, I got a couple chapters back from my critique partner and her suggestions made the chapters much stronger. Her feedback also inspires me to get back to work, so I’m going to rework those chapters tonight to get my head back in the story. I also had a great weekend away, driving to my hometown with a couple old friends and it seems to have jump-started my creative impulses. I was ambushed by a plot bunny – the same one that attacked last year when I traveled home, but this time I took notes for a future project.
    In May, I hope to be reporting that I’m back in the 20,000-word range again and that March was simply an aberration. At least I can be fairly confident that I’ll beat last year’s April total, which was a measly 424 words. But not if I keep writing this entry and not opening my project files.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Retail Therapy. It Gets Results.

    The unseasonably lovely weather we've had has been replaced with seasonal gray skies, high winds and rain. A whole lot of rain. To preempt any onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I did a little retail therapy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sharing the Scrivener Love

    Two of my favorite writing tools — Scrivener and writing podcasts — came together in the podcast this week by The Shared Desk. Fun!
    Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine discussed their favorite writing software, Scrivener. That’s my favorite writing software, too! I completely agreed with all the reasons they gave for their devotion to Scrivener — the organization tools, the corkboard feature, the ability to import web pages and photos and other research into your binder, and all the many ways to customize the tool to suit your own needs. But my two favorite features didn’t get mentioned — not that I blame them. There are so many features, how could you talk about all of them?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You Won't Regret This

   According to my stats, you guys really like brownie recipes. Who knew a spam-bot could have a sweet tooth?
   So, giving the people (or spam-bots) what they want — here's another brownie recipe. This was a recipe I first tried when I was a teenager and before I learned to read through the entire recipe before starting it. I didn't have enough eggs, I didn't know the difference between dark Karo syrup and light, and I accidentally cut the amount of sugar (really — originally it called for even more sugar). And it turned out so good, I've stuck to my version ever since. Enjoy!

My Favorite Brownies
  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 cups sugar (or 2 1/2 cups — you won't miss it)
  • 1/2 cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts
  • 6 eggs
Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Let cool.

In mixing bowl, combine sugar, syrup, vanilla, eggs. Add chocolate mixture. Add flour gradually. Add nuts.

Grease and flour jelly roll pan. Pour batter into pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a rack. Sift powdered sugar over the top. Cut and serve. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another Anniversary

   Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of U2's album, Joshua Tree.
  That 25 years went by fast.
  I listened to Joshua Tree today while driving home from work. It's been a while since I've really listened to it, or even heard any of the songs in passing. Immediately, I was back in high school, driving my mother's Honda and singing along to "With or Without You" and "Where the Streets Have No Name."
  There are a few songs that can transport me back in time, but this whole album (yes, kids, I said album) has that effect. This is probably because it was in my Walkman (yep, dating myself again) or in the car stereo for so much of that year. It wasn't even my first U2 album, but it was immediately my favorite and has remained so, even after (gulp) 25 years. A couple years later, I saw U2 in concert. Still, the songs remind me of the early days of the album's release, when I used my hard-earned babysitting money to buy the cassette. (Sigh. I am old.)
  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to call my mom and tell her that I shouldn't have to unload the dishwasher, no one in this family understands me, and why can't I have my own car. I suppose that's the downside of a flashback.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

30 years and Millions of Calories Later...

    A few years ago, my parents celebrated a big anniversary. Since they had eloped way back then, my siblings and I decided this time we should have a party. However, no one wanted to have a sit-down formal affair, especially my casual-living parents. After much discussion, we decided on a backyard barbecue in my parents huge and beautiful yard. My dad had just finished building a patio with a huge new grill and he volunteered to grill, well, anything that he could get his hands on. You know what it’s like when you have a new toy.
    My aunt proposed a pot-luck, but that seemed a little too casual. Our solution was to invite the guests, but also invite them to participate in a contest — best appetizer and best dessert. To enter, bring your favorite dessert or appetizer along with the recipe. We put the plates out on buffet tables and in front of each offering, we put a jar. People voted by putting money in the jars.
    This was a massive success.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Resolutions - February Update

    Since it’s the last day of the month, I’m going to tally up my writing totals and report a little early. I don’t expect to get anything more written today and I’m actually fairly happy with the progress I made in the last month, even though I didn’t meet my goal of writing every day (again).
    Because of how my spreadsheet is structured, my monthly total covers January 30 through February 29. During that time, I wrote 21,574 words. This is about 100 more words than I wrote in January. It’s also nearly double how much I wrote last February. So, on that front – success!
    Yet, I only wrote on 16 days. My goal of writing daily really suffered in the last month and I’m not sure why – though work is the most likely culprit. However, when I do sit down to write, I’ve been more productive. My best day was 3,714 words, but I had several days where I wrote more than 2,500 words. I don’t know what to attribute this to, but I am listening to High Focus when I’m writing and it does seem to keep me focused and less distracted by all things shiny and internetty. 
    My other goal this year is to focus on the main WIP and the back-up novella so that one of them gets finished, hopefully soon. At this, I was a little more successful. I wrote 9,926 words on the main WIP, including an important turning point scene and a scene that sets up the ending (yay!). I wrote 3,443 words on the novella, which is the first of three books. Unfortunately, I did stray and write a couple scenes for the second in the series (6,645 words). I also had to put a couple of plot bunnies to bed by writing some notes for future projects (1,560).
    So far in 2012, that’s 42,173 words. The best part is that I’m happy with the content of those words. My critique partner gave me some great suggestions and I’ve reworked some scenes and reordered a couple others and the main WIP feels like it’s barreling toward an ending. I’m very much looking forward to writing “the end” at the end of that story. Maybe in March? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pink is the New Green

     The valley turns a lovely shade of pink for a week or so every spring. So it's not yet spring. The trees don't know that.   
     I'm trying to write every day, but this month hasn't been a great success for keeping that routine. But my word count is pretty good for the month. Plus, there's that extra day tomorrow -- February 29th. I'll get some time tomorrow to bring my February word count up and will report back on my progress toward my goals.
    Have a happy Leap Day. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Not Nice To Steal

Dante judges you.
   I don't have a lot to say today. No, that's not true. I did have a lot to say, but I let it out in emails rather than spewing it onto the internets. That's probably a better, more mature option.
   I am now stepping away from the computer before I change my mind.
   But I will say one thing:  It's not nice to steal.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to Work

Isleton, the town that never sleeps. Until it's dark.
     A long, relaxing weekend here. I finally slept enough to shake this damn cold and I'm feeling healthy again. Just in time to go back to work.
     As for writing progress, well, I did get another 1,000 words today. On Friday, I worked on the story's structure, moving some scenes around and writing some notes for new scenes. This is one of the things that Scrivener excels at - letting the writer move scenes or chapters around.
     This week's goal is to write every day on the big WIP, even if it's just a few words. Unfortunately, my work calendar is packed. But what the hell. I'm up for a challenge.