Tuesday, January 27, 2009

late evening ruminating instead of sleeping

I just want to say that I had a great day today. It was cold outside, a state of which I don't approve; but there was also precipitatingness in a form we call "snow," which pleases me immensely.

Well....technically, I suppose it was rather more a "dusting" than real snow. Also, there was ice. But still, it turned the world that lovely, faint-bluish white as only snow can do, and it definitely raised several markers on the Courtney-Is-Pleased-O-Meter.

In other news, I spent most of the day writing, which always means a good day! I know, a lot of you find this incomprehensible, but c'est ma vie. ;o) I wrote more than 1300 words today--not NaNoWriMo standards, but then I'm not under NaNo-pressure right now, either.

I am, however, still working on filling in the gaps and fleshing out my NaNo 2008 novel. I give it another 10k words till the first draft is complete. Great fun is being had by all--meaning me, myself, and I. ;o) This particular story has some fantasy elements, but it's set mostly in present day "real world," so I'm enjoying the challenge of aiming my creative telescope in a slightly different direction. Things are still a bit blurry on the other side of the lens, but as I finish draft one, then draft two, then draft three, etc., I have no doubt the sharpen will focus. Focus will sharpen.

I think it's time to lay my weary head to rest...but don't worry, I haven't been crying.

Carry on! ;o)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting Things Done, and other importantnesses

So, in the interest of bragging, I'd like to direct your attention here, so that you might ooh-aah over How Much I Have Gotten Done since the recent posting of my to-do list.

Yes, I am tooting my own horn, and I am liking it, thank you very much.




I am a geek.

On a more serious note, there is something on that to-do list that I would like to report is now going better. Two somethings, actually. The first is that I have gone running twice a week for the last three weeks. It hasn't been easy--actually, it has been mostly frustrating and demoralizing as I see how much stamina I lost by not running for two months. Six running sessions, and I still can't go as far or as fast as what I was doing when I quit in November.

That's the first time I've called it what it was: quitting. I quit for two months. I hadn't been able to admit that to myself until now.

I soooooooooooooo badly want to get back to what I was doing before I quit. I had been so encouraged by the progress I'd made; it's not easy for a former heart patient to build up the kind of stamina that comes naturally to most people. And by quitting, I sabotaged myself. I tend to do that with a lot of things--too many to go into right now. But I often wonder if I subconsciously believe that I don't deserve for good to come my way, and so I sabotage myself so as to avoid the good I believe I don't deserve?

Possibly. But that is another story and shall be told another time. ;o)

Anyway, the point is that I WANT to work hard and build back up my to pre-November stamina...and then I want to go further. I am competing against no one but myself, which might make my challenge more difficult.

On the other hand, I ***looooooooooooove*** challenge. Bring it on!

The second "to-do" is that I've been listening to God a lot more lately. Things finally came to a head several weekends ago, when I found myself in so much pain--mental and emotional--that I simply had to drop everything and go to God. I'm sorry I let myself go so far that hitting rock-bottom like that was necessary. But hit the bottom I did, and from there, I had nowhere to go but up.

I don't want to go into details, because really, they're not important. What matters is that for about seventeen hours, I couldn't see or talk to anyone (except Ed, since (a) he lives with me and (b) he got to experience the full force of my emotional-fallen-apart-ness). I talked to God a lot, but I couldn't bring myself to go out and see anyone else. It feels a little weird to say, but my need to spend time with God was so great, I couldn't bring myself to attend a Sunday morning worship service. I was so desperate for God, I wanted no other humans with me, not even other Christians. I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but that's how it was.

By Sunday evening, I had regained enough peace to worship with the house church and immerse myself gladly in that fellowship. Since then, I feel as though I've started being a little more aware of God's presence in my life. My relationship with God still isn't anywhere near where it should be--but I think there is healing going on, like a medicine deep inside, working where nobody but God can see. This isn't the first time in my life that I've experienced this healing; one would think I would have remembered that there's a reason he is called the Great Physician.

Hey, remember the song we used to sing when we were kids?

"He's still workin' on me
to make me what I ought to be...
How loving and patient he must be..."

Why do we ever stop singing that song? It's a lot more relevant for adults than it is for children.

Friday, January 16, 2009

courtney thought in facebook status updates all day today

Courtney is glad she was able to talk the Rack Room Shoes store manager into letting her exchange the non-fitting Converse All-Stars for a larger-sized pair, even though she had already worn the non-fitting pair outside.

Courtney wishes the wind would decide on a direction and stick with it.

Courtney does not enjoy running against a headwind.

Courtney does realize that running against a headwind will help her stamina improve, but that doesn't mean she has to like it.

Courtney runs in Nikes, not in Converse. Converses. Conversely, her next pair of running shoes will probably be New Balance....s.

Courtney is a little confused.

Courtney hopes that Ed isn't getting the flu. :o/

Courtney might get to see her Aunt Karen tomorrow--for the first time in...four years? five years?

Courtney had the same bagger at Crest today who, a few months ago, didn't want to let her put groceries directly into the cart instead of into bags, thereby eliciting a severe culture shock reaction.

Courtney had no problems with this bagger today, and she was glad to discover that she is over the cart-no-bags incident. ;o)

Courtney sure does enjoy driving her car. Thanks, J. ;o)

Courtney is having fun blogging like this.

Courtney wonders if, in addition to speaking of herself in third person, she should adopt the royal "we."

Courtney dresses for less at Ross.

Courtney has all the squares and rectangles of fabric cut out for the curtain she's sewing.

Courtney also wants to continue her afghan-crochet project, but she has to buy more yarn first.

Courtney hasn't bought a new canvas yet. *sadness*

Courtney has been working on finishing the first draft of a new book while her mom reads the second draft of the other book.

Courtney loves writing.

Courtney is going to bed now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

what my book is about, by the way

My cousin asked, so I answered, and this is what I came up with, so I decided to post it here:

It's about a girl whose family fled the authorities ten years ago, and now the bad guys are back and capture her and her little sister, and then a war starts, and the main character has to decide whose side she's on and figure out how to get her sister (who is deathly ill) home. And in-between, there's magic and love and loss and betrayal and hard choices and kissing and kidnapping and secret passageways and horses and waterfalls and swords and crazy people and happy people and sad people and campfire stories and stuff.

I have so much fun with this, somebody really oughtta tranquilize me. ;o)

latest on the writing life

So, as some of you already know, I finished the second draft of my novel a couple of weeks ago. HUZZAH!!! Currently, my mom is in possession of the only hard copy. Since she is English Teacher and Proofreader Extraordinaire--and also recently re-retired and having more time on her hands (when, that is, she's not dealing with house-building issues, which is Another Story And Shall Be Told Another Time)--I asked her to be my beta reader for the second draft.

What is a beta reader, you might ask? (Or not, as the case might be, but I'm going to tell you anyway.) A beta reader is something of a proofreader--but beta reading goes much further than simply noting typos or punctuation and spelling errors. A beta also checks characterization and story development, looks for plot holes, finds the Places Where This Just Doesn't Read Right, and generally tries to give honest feedback on how the story reads to a reader.

The recipient of said feedback is, of course, the alpha, i.e. the writer of said story--in this case, Yours Writerly. ;o)

I had a non-mom beta reader for my first draft, and I will admit that I was on pins and needles the whole time he had the manuscript. It was like letting a non-parent hold your newborn baby for the first time. I survived the experience but was quite hard-pressed not to pester the beta with continual questions such as "What chapter are you on?"--"What do you think so far?"--"Does Event X fit in well with Subplot L?"--"How does the fifth paragraph on page 124 read to you?"--and so forth. Though I resisted temptation to plague the beta with my questions, I do believe I still made a nuisance of myself.

Believe it or not, this time it's worse.

The baby isn't a baby anymore. Draft Two is just past the toddler stage, moving fairly well on its own, yet still occasionally head-bumping into the edges of tables and open drawers. I can let it out of my sight for a moment or two, yes--but it's just independent enough to wreak havoc in the livingroom while my back is turned. And when it falls down and bonks its noggin, it still needs me to pick it up, cuddle it, and tell it that everything's going to be okay--see? we'll just scrape off this unnecessary dangling participle right here, and you'll be good as new, shhhh, don't cry. And it looks up at me and says "I love you" with those big, beautiful, well-dialogued and character-driven eyes, and my heart melts.

And what have I done? I've sent that beautiful, growing-up little one off to grandma's house for the next month or so.

You parents out there can appreciate my agony. ;o)

I have to resist calling multiple times per day. "Is it okay? Is it eating well? Is it reading well? Does this changed plot line work? Does that character makesensenow? And haveIdoneahideousthinginlettingmychildoutofsightandoutofhouse and howmuchlongercanItakethis???????????"

I want my kid back!!!!! It's not safe with anyone but me!!!!!!

It has nothing to do with the fact that my mom is the one who has my kid in her keeping. I'd feel this way about any beta reader at this point. (I'm finding, also, that I'm leaning more toward calling her the "gamma" reader, since she's the third....)

It's not even that I feel driven to work on the story right now or anything like that. I just feel very protective, very vulnerable, and very jealous that anyone else is getting a look at the product of my creative psyche's inner workings. And yet, at the same time, I'm excited, rejoicing-y, and very much looking forward to discussing the story with my "gamma" reader when she's finished. It's a nutty dichotomy, and I suppose it's pretty much the way a writer's life always goes.

Oh chocolate mousse custard. If it's bad now, with the second draft, how much worse is it going to be with the third? And the possible fourth?

I guess that when I finally do send the manuscript to an agent, I'll be pretty much catatonic. Consider yourselves forewarned. ;o)

One more thing on writing-life current events: In November, I was focused on NaNoWriMo. In December, I was focused on finishing the second draft of my novel. Last week, after it was all over and the kid was well on its way to grandma's house, I told Ed that I felt as though I were waking up from a particularly pleasant dream.

"I've been a little obsessive, haven't I?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said, then shrugged. "But you're a writer. You kind of have to be."

That felt good.

I love my husband. He gets it. :o)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

book comments 12

I didn't think I'd be blogging book comments again so soon, but now I find I just gotta, and for two reasons: (1) I'm currently taking a break from noveling, having just finished the second draft of my book, and I'm getting antsy and must write, must write, must write something! and (2) this evening I finished a book that made me really mad, so I must write about it.

"No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel In 30 Days" by Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo Grand Poobah and Dispenser of Many Witticisms
--You might already be able to tell that I heartily approve of Mr. Baty and his book. ;o)
--title is self-explanatory
--I actually started this one during NaNo 2008, but got so involved in NaNo-ing that I forgot to keep reading.
--Baty invented NaNo, so obviously he knows what he's talking about throughout.
--highly recommend for anyone considering NaNoWriMo

"Even Now" by Karen Kingsbury
--story of the consequences (a) of teen promiscuity and (b) of parents' not allowing their children to experience the consequences of their actions
--excellent, well-flowing writing
--clear, well-developed characters
--I didn't like the ending; even though it was a "happy" one, it seemed contrived and out-of-character for the adult Lauren.
--also, I wish Kingsbury had delved into and developed the theme that God is not to blame for the wrong choices that humans make
--recommend, especially for readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories; this would also be a great book for parents and teens to read together

Finally, the book that has me so irritated right now, with spoilers:

"Here on Earth" by Alice Hoffman
--story of a woman named March, who goes back to her hometown after 21 years and starts having an extramarital affair with the guy she slept with as a teenager
--what's frustrating is that this is a very well-written novel: *very* strong, well-developed characters; nothing happens in the story that is not character-driven; clear, flowing style; Hoffman even makes the landscape a character in the story --> masterful
--40 pages into the story, I already HATED Hollis, March's "lust interest" (please note that I do *not* use the word "love"), and halfway through the story, I just wanted him to die. I guess that's another tribute to Hoffman's skill: that one of her characters provoked such a powerful reaction in me.
I hate March's ridiculous dependence on Hollis.
I hate the fact that neither March nor Hollis understand that what they have is NOT love; it is obsession, addiction, dependence, immorality, manipulation, enabling, hate, and cowardice.
By the time March finally opened her eyes to what was going on, I had lost all sympathy for her and was ready for her to die, too!
--I think Mandy was right: These two are a darker, more disturbing version of Kathy and Heathcliff of "Wuthering Heights"--which is saying a lot.
--The only characters I liked were March's reporter friend, Susie, and Gwen, the rebellious teen who's in love with her first cousin.
--This one tied me up in knots, so I can't recommend it--though I stand by my opinion that Hoffman did a good job. ;o)

My next read is going to be Christopher Paolini's "Brisingr," which I expect will leave me knot-free and feeling much more pleasant. ;o)

Monday, January 05, 2009

other people's shopping lists

Is it weird for my first blopgost of the year to be a sample of other people's writing? Hmmm.....maybe not weird. For my standards. But hopefully not telling, either. ;o)


In the space of about three weeks, in the course of my own shopping adventures (which are often fraught with danger, adventure, and frustration), I found several grocery lists belonging to fellow shoppers. Said lists lay forgotten in the bottom of shopping carts or, gasp and egad, on the floor. I picked them up, tucked them away, and re-discovered them last week whilst cleaning and re-organizing my desk.

I don't know why--maybe it's the voyeur in me--but I am amused to see what these unknown folks had on their lists. And, so that you can be as weirdly amused as I am, I am going to share these lists with you. Now.

The Lined-Yellow-Paper List
Bananas for UBall

I'll not venture to analyze the random capitalizations of letters, nor why spraystarch might have been so important as to merit two stars. I will, however, note that "toothpicks" looks a lot more like "toonpicks," which makes me giggle.

UBall. University Ball? Underground Ball? Undiscovered Ball? Unctuous Ball? Ubiquitous Ball? Unabashed Ball? It is a mystery....but not a Mystery Ball, silly, or it would've been noted as "MBall." Duh.


The I-Love-My-Home List
barnuits -
flour -

shredded wheat -

heavy cream

- toothpaste -
Hiland cottage cheese 24 oz 2.00

1 can solid pack pumpkin


The author of the I-Love-My-Home list was apparently rather unconcerned with saving space. A wasteful individual? Or one simply trusting in the abundant supply of notepad paper with "I Love My Home" emblazoned across the bottom of the sheet? We shall never know.

Oh, and whatever "barnuits" might have been, I guess the shopper decided they (a) weren't to be found, (b) weren't necessary after all, (c) were the only thing to be found, or (d) didn't exist, because they are crossed out.

The Upside-Down-Apples List
tortilas [sic]
p bitter
chicken breast
cottage cheese
peppers gr. + red
tartar sauce

At the top of this list is a row of sliced apples, and they are upside down. There is an arrow pointing from "chicken" to "tortilas" [sic], leading me to believe that something Mexican might have been on the menu for supper that night. Also, I am sure that "p bitter" is actually "p butter" = peanut butter, but that sure isn't what it looks like.

And thus ends my first blopgost of 2009. I suspect it might be bloppier than usual. Tah-dah. ;o)