Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Novelistic Progress

I passed the 20,000 word mark on my novel last night!  After passing the 13,500 word mark, it became the longest thing I've ever written.  I don't know how long this is going to be, but I'm still working on a lot of setup.  50,000 is the number to shoot for during NaNoWriMo, but that's actually pretty short for a novel and I'm hoping this will be significantly longer.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, if I write 1,000 words per day on this novel, I'll get it over the 50,000 word mark before November.  That's probably doable on most days now that I'm in the groove, but even so, I'm not sure this novel will be done by November.  I want to do NaNo this year--I even signed up several months ago--but I'm not sure what to do if this novel isn't finished yet.  I certainly don't want to halt its progress to work on something else.  Originally I'd been hoping to spend October outlining and researching my next novel (I need to do a fair bit of research on plausible orbital space colonies and world-ending natural disasters) but I'm not sure how much time I'm going to have.  I suppose I could work on two at once like my husband does--he researches and outlines one screenplay during downtime at work, and writes a second in the evenings--but I'm concerned about getting them confused, or having trouble moving between them, or breaking the momentum of both.  I suppose one option would be to do some researching and outlining in October and then, come November, just keep writing this current novel until it's finished.  Then, once the first novel is finished I can immediately start the second one.  Yes, this isn't quite playing by their rules, but I'd  only count the words written during the month, and I'd still be trying for 50,000 total words of new prose in November.  And hey, the whole point of joining was to get myself to write a novel this year, which I've begun to do earlier than I anticipated.  Hopefully I'll write two novels this year!

I've finally gotten into a groove when it comes to the novel writing.  In fact, I've written for the last 22 days straight, and the word counts on those days have increased as time has gone on--making me hopeful that I can get to the 1670 necessary to complete NaNo.  This is definitely my longest streak.  The last record was 16.  (This is all since I started keeping track back in February, but I'm pretty sure this is the longest streak ever, since, even as a student, I took days off between projects--and it's very easy to take breaks between short stories.)  If I can get up to 30 without missing a day, I think I'll look for a ticker to put on the side of my blog labelled "Days Without Not Writing."  Even the pathetic days when I only write 150-300 words (which has happened a few times) I at least didn't break the streak.  Each day that increases this record makes me not want to break it even more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Many Silhouette Giveaways

Well, how about that?  Not even a week ago I blogged about my son's birthday invitations and how I would like to get a Silhouette machine, and then my friend finds two Silhouette giveaways to enter!  Sure, my odds are about 1 in 500 (and that's if more people don't enter before they end) but that's still a chance, right?  So for anyone else who is interested, here are the links to the Silhouette giveaways:

From Blue Cricket Design (ends September 29)

and from Somewhat Simple (ends September 30)

Holy @#$#*@#!!!  There are more of them than I realized!  Here are a few MORE Silhouette giveaways:

From Amy's Finer Things (ends Sept 30)

From Twig & Thistle (ends Sept 30)

From The Shopping Mama (ends Sept 30)

From Our Best Bites (ends Sept 28)

From How Does She? (ends Sept 29)

From Crafty Pod (ends Sept 30) (that sure sounds like a sci-fi name to me!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let Pumpkin Season Begin!

Yesterday, I went to a Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off.  I found out about it last week and thought it sounded like fun.  I was also hoping to find some advice, because I have a horrible time growing pumpkins.  Few of my female flowers open (they just wither on the vine and die) so I don't get the chance to pollinate them (yes, I have tried to help my pumpkins have sex.)  So I was hoping that somebody there might be able to tell me what I was doing wrong.

The weigh-off was for the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers Club.  It had many elements of a typical fall harvest festival--food, drink, bouncy castle, face painting, baking contest--with the notable difference that the competition fruits were a yard in diameter.  There were some pretty impressive pumpkins at this thing.  I went by myself, but next year I think I'll bring the family.  My son is a little timid in crowds right now, but by next year I hope he would enjoy the bouncy castle and the fruit that's bigger than him.

I didn't stay the whole time, so I didn't get the chance to see what the heaviest pumpkin weighed.  (They were starting with the lightest.)  I wanted to see the big ones, but needed to get home.  However, I did stay long enough to see how they transported the pumpkins, which I was really curious about.  The smaller pumpkins (like those for the junior division, which I DID see all of) they simply rolled the pumpkin back, pushed a tarp with handles under it, and then team lifted it with two to four people.  I knew they were never going to do that with the thousand-pounders, so I was curious.  The answer is that after using a forklift to bring the pallet with the pumpkin over next to the scale, they used this apparatus, hanging from the forklift, to wrap around the pumpkin:

Then the forklift carried the pumpkin to the scale, where they removed the harness and weighed it.  Pretty nifty!  (By the way, this pumpkin is tiny.  It only weighed in at around 275 pounds.  Last year's Colorado record was somewhere in the vicinity of 1,200-1,300 pounds!)

One of these years, perhaps I'll grow a giant of my own.  After I get my growing problem sorted, that is.  Of course, I'm hoping that I'll be in a completely different house next spring, so my problem might go away on its own.

After seeing all the giants yesterday, and considering that we're now five days from October, I decided it was time to puree the pie pumpkins I got at last week's farmers' market in preparation of doing some pumpkin baking.  I make some killer Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies which I can only allow myself to make in October and November so my family doesn't overeat all year long.  We also have some good pumpkin pasta and pumpkin soup recipes, and I like to make my own puree.  I only got 5 cups from two pumpkins though, so I'm going to have to buy another 4 or 5 of them.  The soup takes 4 cups on its own, and the cookies take 2 for each batch (technically that's for a double batch, but I always make it double, it means I can wait a little longer before making more.)  So I'm going to need to stock up on more pumpkin.

I hope everybody's Halloween/Harvest Time goes well!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inviting a crew of small children into my home

I must be something of a masochist, because I stay up way too late finishing these projects.  At any rate, the invitations for my son's 2nd birthday party are done!
I'm quite proud of the way they turned out.  My husband even had the idea to incorporate boarding passes into the invites, to fit the theme, which I did.  I found an awesome online template here, and it was a breeze to personalize.  (I think they were designed as invites for a destination wedding, but it worked really well for our purposes too.)
It's been a long time since I used my Sizzix machine.  Some of the dies didn't want to cut all the way through, which was really getting on my nerves because I didn't want to cut out half of each tiny airplane by hand.  A friend of mine has a Cricut machine, and I'm starting to think that I might finally catch up on my scrapbooking if I had a new toy to play with.  However, I think I might get a Silhouette Machine if I get anything, because the Silhouette can cut out any font on your computer, whereas you have to buy cartridges for the Cricut.  (For those who don't know, both machines cut paper, vinyl, t-shirt transfers, etc for scrapbooking, cards, and various other crafts.  Cricut even has a special model that can cut fondant frosting for cake decorating.  Unlike a traditional press-style die-cut machine like the Sizzix, they both are more like printers with a blade instead of ink--and no muscle or rolling required.)  Scrapbooking has barely been a part of my life since my son entered it, and I would enjoy doing a bit of it again.  Perhaps this will be on my Christmas list...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Decluttering my Mind

I'm the sort of person who writes best when I don't have other things to do hanging over my head.  I'm not particularly concerned about things like laundry (which I'm happily ignoring as I write this) but intellectual things like updating my budget, sending emails, and filing story ideas.  It occurred to me that although I've been writing every day for the last two weeks, I haven't been getting much done--just a few hundred words each day, which will mean the novel will take forever.  And I've been doing the bulk of this writing not during naptime, but after both my son and husband go to bed at night, and I've been depriving myself of sleep in the process.  I also realized that my office had gotten quite cluttered and my "I'll take care of that later" list had gotten very long.  I therefore made a concentrated effort to tidy up--both in my head and out--in the hopes that it will make my writing flow more easily again.
I'd hoped to spend one naptime doing this, but it turned into three.  I took care of bank statements, filed papers that had been sitting around, cut out a few recipes that I've been wanting to try and filed them away, signed up for an online service I'd been meaning to do, sent a half-dozen emails that had been on the backburner, transcribed some papers so I could get them off my desk, and ordered some stuff for my son's birthday party.

I definitely feel more relaxed.  It's nice to look around my work space and see everything organized.  Will it help my writing?  Well, naptime today was spent entertaining since we had people over, so here we are in the evening again.  I'm hoping to get back on track during naptime tomorrow.  Time will tell!

Writers of the Future Feedback

I thought I'd share, (since not everybody is going to read all the previous comments) that I got a note back from Writers of the Future on the feedback I gave them regarding their electronic submission process.  The most gratifying part was this quote:
"I'll pass on your comment on the "housewife" category as I think you are right. I can think of several winners right off bat that are stay-home dads."

They also said that they collect age and occupation for demographic and marketing purposes, to find the best target audience when they market the books--which could eventually lead to more money for prizes. I'd still like it not to be mandatory, but the reasoning makes sense.  It was especially nice to hear since my immediate reaction had been "this contest is supposed to be blind, why are they asking for this?"

I was also happy to know that my comments didn't fall on deaf ears.  Thank you, Writers of the Future!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Writers of the Future Contest now accepts electronic submissions!

Okay, so many of you probably already knew that, but I haven't submitted anything to Writers of the Future since February.  I think it's excellent when a market opens up to electronic submissions since it saves on time, postage, and trees.  It's so much easier for me to hit "send" at any time of day than cart a wiggly toddler to the post office.  Asimov's also recently (sometime between March 2008 and July 2010, anyway) started accepting electronic submissions too.  Now if Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction would jump onboard, I'd almost never have to visit a post office!

The only thing I didn't like about the Writers of the Future electronic process is that they made Age, Gender, and Occupation required fields.  Gender I can see--they need to know whether to put Mr. or Ms. on their responses--but what does it matter how old you are or what you do?  The occupation options were pretty general and limited too:  executive/managerial, clerical, blue collar, sales, artist/writer, student, educator, military, housewife, and other.  I opted for artist/writer over housewife because I hate the term housewife.  And because I am a writer and hope to make a living wage off of it someday.  "Housewife" makes me feel like I should pull my hair back with a scarf, keep my house spotless (with little or no help from my husband), happily have dinner on the table at 6:30 every night, and pop out babies left and right.  Chasing after a kid is incredibly freaking hard work (I always feel like I'm running from behind) and I strongly believe that maintenance of a household is a joint (or group) responsibility.  And frankly, the only reason that I stayed home with our son when my husband went back to work is because he made more.  Had our salaries been reversed, I probably would still be in the rat race and he would be staying home with our son.  How come they didn't have an option that read "househusband?"

Anyway, good for them for joining the electronic age, but I think their entry form needs some tweaking.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where do you get stuck?

I'm wondering what parts of a story/book are hardest for other writers to write.

I just pulled through a difficult chapter in my novel that took a really long time, and the problem (it seems to be the problem almost every time I get stuck) is that it was a transition.  Getting my characters to the next place I need them to be--quickly, logically, and without crossing the line between necessary exposition and info dump--is the part of writing that makes me struggle the most.  When trying to figure out such a transition I am most likely to stare at a blank screen, get distracted, and complain about just how difficult writing really is.  Give me an action scene any day--I can get it out much more quickly and easily.

My husband has the same issue, although he tends to outline his work first, so he goes through his struggles during the outline phase.  Once he's actually writing, he knows what's supposed to come next.  How do the rest of you weigh in on this?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doomology Cover Art!

I'm very excited today because I've finally been able to join the forums over at the Library of the Living Dead Press--the parent group that is publishing my first story.  I kept encountering errors and haven't tried in a few weeks, but today I decided to give it another go, and it worked!  So I'm now a member.  I'm not huge into message boards, but I'll definitely be stopping by intermittently.

But that's not the best part.  The best part is that I stopped by just in time, because the cover art for Doomology was posted up there yesterday!  Check it out:

What do you think?  That's the book that will have my work inside!

Monday, September 6, 2010

They're Done! They're Finally Done!!!

Yes, I have more than a month remaining before my son's second birthday, but I've been working on his party favors. These were on clearance at Michael's, and they fit perfectly with the theme of my son's upcoming party.  It will be "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" because well, my son loves all things vehicular.
As I said, they were cheap, so I bought them and decided to paint them. Which has turned out to be a big pain. Do you see how many nooks, crannies, and crevices these things have?
Especially the wheels. There are eight tiny holes on each of four small wheels on each of nine little carts. That's 288 tiny holes to cram black paint into.  Plus four on each wheel of the engine, so 24 more is 312 tiny holes. And the bars. Seven bars on two sides of each cart is 126 little bars to paint. But at least they're done. I will paint the kids names on them once I have RSVPs (which won't happen until I make and send out invitations--more work) but essentially they're done. Perhaps I'll just get a sparkly paint pen from a craft store for the names--it'll be much faster and easier than using a brush to add them. I'm thinking about sending the invitations in a "Save the Date" format. Most likely the party will be at our house, but I'm still holding out hope that someone will want to buy our house in the meantime--and if we're in the process of a move, the party will have to be elsewhere. In any case though, the painting of the favors is done. Now I can go back to writing during naptime, instead of painting tiny carts with tiny parts. Painting, painting, painting. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't enjoy this kind of thing, but I think it drove me just a teensy bit nuts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Stat Check

During the month of August, I wrote on 19 of the days
I wrote four chapters of a novel, sorted through the critiuqes I got for Bleeders and The Weatherman, and rewrote Bleeders
I made 2 submissions
I received 3 rejections
I have 7 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I took between 5 and 7 days to resubmit a story after a rejection
I made 8 blog posts
Between writing, the blog, and Critters, I took 7 days off

I felt like I was playing catch-up for a lot of this month.  This is probably due to the fact that I had let Critters slip away from me and had to do three critiques in one week (in three days, by the time I did them) in order to get The Weatherman out on time.  I also wanted to finish reading all the critiques from Bleeders before I started getting some for The Weatherman (something I'd been putting off) so there was a lot of sifting through critiques happening all at once.  I also started making plans for my son's second birthday party, so that ate away at some of my time.  I took a vacation too, so I had a few genuine days off.  I'd say this month was passable.  I didn't do as much writing as I wanted to, but I do need to sleep and eat, like all mortals.

My biggest goal for September is I'd like to get the bulk of my novel written.  I'm hoping to spend a lot of October doing research and outlining for another novel which I'll write for NaNoWriMo, and it would be nice not to have to think about two at a time.  My first two novels will be written with very different techniques:  the one I'm working on now I simply started and am letting it unfold as it wishes, and the one in November will be outlined and decided upon prior to setting pen to paper.  At the very least, I'll get an idea of which method works best for me.  I'll aim for 10 blog posts and some networking again.

Happy writing!