Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Dear Charlie:

I just received my contract and acceptance letter from Xodtica! Holy cow, this is really happening! I'm really gonna be published, my words shipped to countless people over the ether, my thoughts and ideas put out there for the world to read, should it choose to do so. Plus, I get a 50-word bio along with my story.

I'm not sure if that's way too many words or way too few....

What should I say? What CAN I say? Something snappy but professional, quirky but not silly, mature but still holding a hint of my usual, almost giddy outlook on life.

And mention of my blog, of course, as I don't have a website.

Egad! I better get cracking! This puppy's coming out in September, folks, and last time I looked at my calendar, August was wearing pretty damn thin!


Monday, August 30, 2004

Dear Charlie:

I've been too excited tonight to write -- or to revise, actually. I can't believe I actually sold a story! I mean, I know my stories aren't terribly boring or badly written, but good enough that someone IN THE KNOW is banking on its readability? Its mass appeal? WOW!

I guess I never thought of it that way before. Now, the idea nearly overwhelms me.

Wow.

Wow. Did you know they made Harley Davidson shoulder pads for professional football players? Yeesh! You learn something new every day, especially when you watch Monday Night Football, ne?

Hn.

Needless to say, my somewhat childish inability to focus when I'm excited just asserted itself. Sorry, folks! I'll try to stick to the point in future.

*snicker* Shyeah, right....

Hilarious Sidebar:

My beloved sister is attempting -- and doing a damn good job -- to drown me in my own drool. I suggest you go check out her little Irish drinking song and all the extra verses she's added!

Oh, my.....

The imagery...the sensory input...the...the thigh band.....

Wicked, wicked woman! God love ya, Sis!

Special Bulletin:

THE BEST NEWS EVER!!

The editor of Xodtica.com magazine just offered a contract on my short story, "Need", for her September issue! Wah-hoo!!! I'm gonna be published! I'm gonna be published! *does a little dance*

Okay, back to the practical, proper adult I pretend to be....

At any rate, the website is http://www.xodtica.com, and issues will be available soon. It's a new e-zine, but the editor seems to be a pretty straight shooter and has a good head for business on her shoulders, and compared to the really long turnaround on the 3 other short stories I have out right now, she's INCREDIBLY quick on reply time!

In fact, she's incredibly quick by any standards, but I felt the need to mention the others for a little petty "See, I AM good, darn it!" get-back. After all, one's been out for 4 months, the other out for 2 a piece, and she got back to me in well under a week. You do the math!

I'm SOOO excited!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Dear Charlie:

The Chiefs game totally rocked the house.

*huge, ridiculously happy Goku grin*

First tier, up under the second level so we weren't blinded by the sun or sweltered out, lots and LOTS of beer, cheering like a lunatic until I totally lost my voice again, righteous fans, all preceded by tail-gated T-bones and Mike's Hard Lemonade....

Life just doesn't get better. *happy sigh*

I could die perfectly happy at this moment. Of course, as my beloved sister well knows from a phone conversation earlier today, I have even less voice right now than at my worst last week, but hey! I refused to quit screaming for my boys!

Didn't get much resting done. No writing at all. But who cares?? It was THE CHIEFS at ARROWHEAD on the FIRST TIER!! What else is there?

*megawatt grin showing ALL teeth*

Of course, TECHNICALLY, it COULD have been better if they'd held off that last touchdown on that last play, but who the hell thought a third-string quarterback on the Browns could place a pass that frickin' well?

So, killer day, and now I'm kickin' back with more hot tea than they serve in a Japanese steak house on any given weekend, watchin' DBZ and wishing I'd thought to tape Smackdown last night to fully round out the happy karma of the weekend.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Dear Charlie:

God, I love music.

I have another half hour here at the office before the weekend officially begins, but it's okay. Queen is belting out "Another One Bites the Dust" from my speakers, just making me SMILE. After that is "Fat-Bottomed Girls". After that, the Darkness with "A Thing Called Love".

Hell, I got a list a mile long. *grin*

Music just makes me so damn happy. Simple pleasure, yes, but the best there is.

Dear Charlie:

I have a moral dilemma.

Now, everyone who KNOWS me knows I'm going to the Chiefs/Browns game this weekend at Arrowhead, all hail the best stadium on Earth. For the last month, that's been almost all I could talk about when it came to football. For the last week, it's all I've talked about PERIOD.

Karla, that wonderful woman, offered me one of her season tickets to go with her and her son, do a little tail-gating, and spend the night in a hotel up there so we can each have a beer or two and not worry about driving 2 1/2 hours back from KC. She even paid for the hotel room, bless her soul forever! We'd be in the third tier, a couple rows back, and on the opposite side from the sun, so we'd be nice and comfy with a great view.

You can't really get BAD seats at Arrowhead, even in the nosebleed section, but these are damn good ones.

However, Dave, buddy of mine for countless years, got tickets to this game too.

Karla's response was, "Does he need a ride? He can go with us!" Wonderful woman.

But, Dave's tickets are in the FIRST tier, and he wants me to sit with him. He was SO HAPPY to have those tickets, and I'm sure he kinda sees them as a chance to kinda pay me back for something I keep insisting he doesn't owe. I mean, he's a Chiefs fan here, but he's from New York, so he's really a Jets/Giants/Bills fan at heart. Ah, I'm probably selling him short. He's always hollered just as loudly as I do for my beloved boys. *grin*

Now, the game is tomorrow. Karla can probably find someone else to go on her other ticket, even last minute, and she's already said we can still ride with her, tail-gate, and stay in the hotel, no matter what. She's wonderful. Did I already say that?

Dave, on the other hand, hasn't even looked for anyone else to go yet, knowing I'll be damn hard-put to pass up a first tier ticket to see my beloved boys.

What to do?

I promised Karla I'd go with her. We looked so forward to hollering like idiots and joking around with the other season-ticket holders on her row, etc. etc. She was worried for a while that I'd flat cancel (God only knows why! I wouldn't miss the Chiefs for a life-saving operation!), and I'd just convinced her I wouldn't miss it for anything.

And I WON'T miss it...but I'll feel a little bad for ditching her at the game for better seats at the last minute while taking advantage of her blindingly kind offer of a ride and a hotel room and tail-gating. I'm bringing the T-bones, yes, but she's bringing the grill.

So, what to do?

I don't want justification, here, folks. I want a clear conscience. I mean, who could have planned this? I didn't go to a single game last year, and my football withdrawals after the Pro Bowl in February were LEGENDARY from the lack. This year, I'm not only going to two games, thanks to Karla, but I now have two people wanting me to go with them to one of those games!

Man. I should probably be pleased as hell, but I don't want to slight either one. They're my FRIENDS, and I don't want to be either selfish or ungrateful.

*chews on thumb in concentration*

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Dear Charlie:

This is pretty cool. Surprisingly accurate, too. Weird, ne?

dragon
You're like a Dragon!

?? Which Mythical Creature Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

New Update:

I told you guys nothing was wrong with me!

Well...I'm not SICK, anyway....

Doc said I have a minor sinus infection. He also said it's probably a good thing I lost my voice. It means this one isn't settling into my chest like the last couple. It's promising that it took my voice instead of becoming pneumonia.

Hell, if it stays in my nose and throat and doesn't knock me out like that last one did, I'll lose my voice for a week!

At any rate, he said to take some Tylenol, gargle some warm salt water, and enjoy the game.

Good Doc, ne? *grin*

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Update:

Dammit.

The girls at the office, bless their souls, tricked me into going to the doctor today. Karla suggested I call my gynecologist to just phone in some antibiotics to the pharmacy. Judy suggested I call my regular physician for the same. Both said that if I didn't get rid of whatever I have, I wouldn't be able to go to the Chiefs game this weekend.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

So, I called my doctor. I said -- whispered or croaked, actually -- that I quite obviously had a bit of a sore throat, a minor temperature, and had lost my voice, then said I was unrelentingly busy and asked if the good doctor could possibly just call me in some antibiotics.

No dice.

"We have to see you. It sounds more serious than you apparently think. We can work you in at 1:00 today. I suggest you come on in."

Dammit. What the hell do I have??

*growls*

Man, if I have bubonic plague or West Nile or something equally disgusting and devastating, I'm gonna be PISSED.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so maybe going to Woody's last night -- which, while a pizza place by name, is really a bar and grill by action -- wasn't such a smokin' hot idea.

I had the BEST time. A lovely couple from Scotland -- a country I love and worship with SUCH enthusiastic devotion -- was there with some friends of mine, and I chatted with them all night, letting their absolutely FABULOUS accent wash over me. Usually, I pick up on people's accents by accident without even knowing it, but I resisted last night. I didn't want them to think I was teasing them or anything, as I was the only person who didn't have to ask them to repeat themselves every five minutes.

Loved these people. Billy and Eleine? Love you guys! Come back soon!

At any rate, they even suckered me into getting up and singing American Pie, though I got to listening to conversation and forgot about half of the third verse and Scott had to leave early for another gig, so I cut off the last one entirely.

So, why should I not have gone, you ask?

Smoke. Everyone and their mother was smoking. As you know, I've been sick all week. This did not help the condition. I now have no voice.

Some people will likely consider this a blessing, but it's QUITE inconvenient at work. I'm USELESS on the phones (yippee!!) because you can only make out 4 out of every 5 words, and the ones you can understand sound like a throttled frog. I also can't go five minutes without someone coming by my office and saying, "Oh, you sound AWFUL!"

Thanks, people. I needed that. *chagrin*

At any rate, despite my fabulous time last night, I probably should have stayed home and revised. I can't do much more of this sore throat, no voice thing. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't mind being quiet, but I can't afford it at the office.

*sigh*

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Note to Self:

Okay, at Woody's tonight, I will not discuss the following topics:

1) WWE Smackdown,
2) the delectable Luther Reigns, or
3) Dragonball Z.

These subjects will cause my friends to both roll their eyes and listen intently for things they can tease me about later. Love ya, guys, but I think you have enough fodder on me to last a lifetime!

I will, however, enjoy the MUSIC.

I love music. I love it like I love sleep. Sure, you can get by on a few hours' worth a night, but who in their right mind would turn down the chance for more?

I love all music, but Scott -- my buddy who plays live every Wednesday at Woody's -- works magic with covers. I love his cover of Piano Man more than Billy Joel's. I love his "Levon" and "Saturday Night's All Right" and "Black Water" better than the originals. And when Scott and Max -- another music buddy -- or Scott and Mike get together....

Woo-hoo!

I'm particularly fond of Scott's and Max's "Poison Ivy" and of Scott's and Mike's "Play that Funky Music". They just ROCK OUT on those two! *sighs happily*

At any rate, I'm hoping for some John Cougar Mellencamp, some Tom Petty, Hoobastank, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Doobie Brothers, America.... The whole gambit.

God, I love Wednesday nights! Music RULES!

Dear Charlie:

I had SUCH bizarro dreams last night.

My beloved sister, God love her, knows that when I say "bizarro", I really mean it. Therefore, the content of said dreams won't be divulged here. Suffice it to say that I was actually pretty glad to wake up this morning, and I only hit "snooze" once before practically fleeing the covers.

Now, these weren't BAD dreams. I'm not talking nightmares.

However, my dreams do tend to be disturbingly...vivid. They're just so very REAL. So real, in fact, that sometimes I wake up and feel, well...leftovers.

For instance, one night I dreamed that a mutant alien spider thing bit off the first two fingers of my right hand. The dream was SO REAL that not only did I feel every nuance of pain -- the singing of exposed nerves, the deep buzzing ache of severed bone, the burn up my entire arm -- but I also experienced everything else.

Blood welling up in the severed digits and spilling down my hand and arm. The horrified shrieks of my friends. The vise-like strength of my other hand as it clamped down on my wrist, trying to stop the copious, deadly flow. The utter shock at both the quickness of the attack and the immediacy of my own vicious reprisal as I shook the little bastard off and stomped on it, hearing and feeling the satisfying crunch of its exoskeleton under my boot.

And then I woke up.

And the nightmare wasn't over.

I still clutched my wrist in a deathgrip, trying to stop the blood I still felt pulsing out the gaping wounds and down my hand. I still felt the buzzing pain all the way up to my shoulder. It was terrifying in its reality. For a long, desperate moment, I knew with utter certainty that I had just lost the first two fingers of my right hand.

It took a measureless eternity to calm down enough to force my mind to doubt the powerful illusion. In fact, even when I eventually conned myself into turning on the light to prove it false, I was still so convinced by the myriad sensations that I honestly expected to see bloody stumps. Even SEEING my perfectly whole and unbloodied hand didn't fully dispel the image, and I felt phantom pain for the entire following day.

At any rate, though my dreams last night weren't exactly nightmares, they were a bit disturbing in their reality. I woke up feeling like I'd been used as a punching bag by either a skilled martial artist or an insane idiot.

I'm not sure which is worse.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Weird Sidebar:

Um, I think my priorities are a bit...screwed up.

I feel like I'm cheating on my writing with work.

*nervous grin*

I really, really begrudge that 8-9 hours every day when I could be writing. I ALWAYS begrudge it. But, for some reason, that discrepancy really hit me hard today.

I crunched really hard on "real" work, but in the back of my mind the whole time was this nagging, fretting little voice whispering, You should be writing. You could be revising as we dither here. Hell, crank out another short story! Anything but WORK!

So, I feel like I'm having an affair with work when, in reality, the "other man" is my writing.

Is that bad?

Dear Charlie:

Well, with the Chiefs looking utterly sweet on both offense and defense even unto the third string and with revising going well and me being back at work -- though I don't really feel better today *sigh* -- everything seems to be in place with the world.

There's a certain comfort in that, ne?

No, not everything is perfect. Far from it. But everything is in place. For today. That's not so bad.

I'm listening to Queen, working on a medical chronology -- or was and will be again shortly -- and drinking some nifty cure for a sore throat and hacking cough that my buddy Dave insists on. Plus, I'm out of the house. I can only be in the house for so long. I mean, there's tons to do at home -- which is why weekends are wonderful, beautiful things -- but when you're sick and only have a limited scope of options, most of which include laying on the couch and sipping hot tea and hacking up your guts, home gets pretty boring pretty damn fast.

I hate being sick.

That's half the reason I dragged my sorry butt out of bed this morning. *grin*

At any rate, something tells me I'll be feeling better soon, and that warm, tingly glow from watching my boys kick the Rams sorry asses ought to go a long way toward a cure.

Go Chiefs!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Happy Sidebar:

*sigh* The year is finally starting to get good!

Not only is it Monday Night Football, it's the Chiefs. And not only is it the Chiefs, but Barber just intercepted on the Rams and ran it back for a touchdown!

Does life get any sweeter?

Yes, I know it's preseason, but life is still good.

Plus, I'm going to the Chiefs/Browns game next weekend, and you can bet your sweet bippy I'm so damn tickled at the thought that I've nearly gone to plaid.

[If you've watched SpaceBalls, that comment makes perfect sense. If not, you're likely scratching your head and sort of fast-forwarding over this whole segment.]

At any rate, long live Football, and all hail to the Goalpost Gods. Forever and ever, amen.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Dear Charlie:

Despite a headache, a mild temperature that sucks my will to live, and the continual deep-chest hacking cough, I'm making good progress on my revisions.

All this correcting of my paragraphing has added pages to my already-too-long tale, but I'm ruthlessly hacking out stuff that I'm not sure why it was there in the first place. Over-thinking, over-description, over everything. I've taken metaphysical pruning shears to my story, trying to cut it down to the essentials without giving up style.

*shrug* I think it's going well. I don't think I've cut anything I just can't live without, and I've saved any big sections to another document, just in case.

At any rate, I guess this is one good thing about being sick.

Small comfort, that.

Dear Charlie:

Ugh. Home sick today. I should have known anything that scratchy and hacky at night would only be worse first thing in the morning.

It is, however, kinda fun to call in sick and have the receptionist -- who knows your voice like she knows her own -- ask who the heck is calling. *grin* Yes, I'm that hoarse.

I would've gone in anyway, but I have a bit of a temperature with this thing, too. I had some chills and sweats this morning that drove me out of bed long before I wanted to get up, and I'm afraid that might mean I'm contagious.

So, I'm home. Watch me jump for joy. *rolls eyes*

I really, really hate being sick.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dear Charlie:

Up to 150 pages in my revision tonight.

I'm a little ashamed. I could've gotten a TON more done this weekend, but I kept getting sidetracked.

I visited my beloved sister Saturday and had a great day there. I played mahjong most of the day today, thanks to said beloved sister sharing her computer version. Plus, I watched a ton of DBZ today for some reason, and that's a little...distracting. *sheepish grin*

At any rate, I'm pretty chuffed at the changes I'm making, but I need to keep my sorry butt in gear.

I'm really, really tempted to pop in Budokai 2 and kick a little ass before I go to bed, but I should probably just turn in early. Tomorrow's Monday. Mondays are hard enough without being zonked.

Plus, I seem to have a scratchy, coughy kind of throat today and a lot of excess snot floating around. Dammit. I'd better not be coming down with something.

At any rate, good night all. I'm making myself go to bed after this episode is over. I gotta watch Vegeta tell his little story about how he finally went Super Saiyan before fully turning in.

Hn.

"The sleeper has awakened. I am the Prince of all Saiyans, once again!"

Quote of the Day:

"You truly are a helpless fool!"

God, I love Dragonball Z.

It's just when Goku has gone Super Saiyan and beaten the ever-lovin' shit out of Frieza. In fact, he beat Frieza so badly that he gets bored with beating on someone so inferior and says another classic quote--one I thought to never hear a Saiyan say: "I'm tired of fighting. I'm going home."

At any rate, he finally released his Super Saiyan form and flew away, and Frieza, refusing to admit he cannot win, throws an energy disk. Goku senses it coming and dodges, but it nicks his cheek.

Now, if you know ANYTHING about the show, you know it's not a brilliant idea to piss off a Saiyan. Rage triggers transformations and gigantic, exponential leaps in their power and abilities.

But Frieza ain't too bright.

Goku slowly rolls his head back to center, those black eyes blazing, and shouts the line.

"You truly are a helpless fool!"

Then, the rage that was simmering just under the surface bubbles over again, he transforms back into a Super Saiyan, and proves just how high above Frieza he is.

*grin*

Then, he says another doozie.

"I guess name-calling is your only attack because you're too WEAK to challenge me any other way."

Ouch! Score one for the champ!

I tell you, no one pushed Goku's buttons like Frieza. No one in the whole rest of the series pissed him off even HALF as badly. It was probably just his adjustment to the power and rage of becoming a Super Saiyan for the first time, but he just BITCHED on Frieza!

God, I love this show.

Special Bulletin:

My beloved sister just received notification that she finaled in the last contest she entered! Woo-hoo! That's the third contest she's finaled -- that word looks so weird in print -- in this year!

How incredible is that??

So, Sis, this little woo-hah goes out to you.

WOOOOO-HAAAAAAAH!!!

Or is that who-ah? No, that's the Marines....

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Dear Charlie:

*happy sigh*

Ah, Smackdown.

I know my beloved sister and the adored Lizard Queen will simply roll their eyes and skim over this post, but I can't help myself. Not only did the absolutely stacked-and-studly Luther Reigns show up for a tag team match tonight, but I just found out Smackdown's coming back to Joplin! Woo-hoo!

Now, I didn't watch Smackdown the last time it was in town, but I still almost went, just from nostalgia from the good ol' days as a kid where I watched wrestling with my brother. I'm talking the ol' Hulk Hogan days where it was still WWF instead of WWE and you were a lot more likely to see blood. *happy grin*

I started watching Smackdown after missing the live version and discovered that I really enjoy the new iteration, though they no longer even pretend to be real. In fact, I enjoy it more because it IS so stylized!

Unfortunately, I didn't figure the live version would be back in town any time soon. *sigh*

Needless to say, I nearly jumped for joy when the local station started pimping this go-round, and I'm not missing THIS opportunity! I'll be there September 27, if at all possible. Even if I have to sit up in the rafters, I'll be there to chant "You suck!" at Kurt Angle, to holler "I lie, I cheat, I steal!" for Eddie Guerrero, and to holla, holla, holla at Theodore Long's Smackdown! Woo-hoo!

And to ogle Luther Reigns in person, of course....

Hope he doesn't mind....

Friday, August 20, 2004

Funny Sidebar:

My beloved sister just asked me The Question.

"Who's Charlie?"

There is no simple answer to this question, and I won't attempt to fully explain it here. I might someday, but not today.

The short answer is this: I simply don't closely associate with anyone named Charlie. The cook at Champs, a man I do claim as a friend, goes by "Chuck", but that's the closest to it and I haven't actually seen Chuck in a coon's age.

Long story short, since I don't know anyone named Charlie, no one will think I'm talking directly to him or her unless I mention him or her by name.

Part of the long answer is this: I will probably list this blog as my "for more information" website if I ever get published, and I like to keep people guessing.

This is probably the more truthful answer.

I may have explained the Charlie part, to a certain extent -- though why I picked "Charlie" when there are literally hundreds of names I can't match to anyone I know will always remain a secret only I know for sure -- but I have yet to explain the "Letters to" part, and I don't think I will any time soon. It's my little quirk, and I feel no need to further explain it. Well, I feel the need, but I'm gonna be contrary and not do so. *innocent grin*

In case you were wondering...no, I didn't really give anyone any information as to the title of my blog. This little digression was virtually worthless in the scope of things, and I doubt anyone is any the wiser as to my motivations.

*happy grin*

You may now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Dear Charlie:

Man, did I have a great night last night!

No, I didn't get much writing done. *sigh*

However, Dave -- my very good friend I warned you'd hear A LOT about here -- brought home the latest dubbed DBZ movie release, Bojack Unbound! Woo-hoo! It's INCREDIBLE!!

The animation was sharp and pristine without those occasional slips into kinda iffy-ness. The dialogue was unrelentingly hilarious until it become unrelentingly serious. And when Gohan shouted, "I am my father's SOOOOON!!!" and powered up, leveling everything, I just stood up and hollered!

The fighting was intense -- surprisingly short and to the point, but so damn furious while it went on. Usually DBZ fights are a bit drawn out. Of course, I don't mind this one bit, but the short, vicious ones in this flick were kinda refreshing! Woo-hoo!

And Vegeta's entrance was, as always, worthy of the highest kudos in the known universe. It provoked two hearty shouts of "THAT'S my sonuvabitch!!"

Even Mr. Satan, that unfogivable clown-shoe, had some hilarious one-liners that made me not loathe him quite so much. His, "Mr. Satan, you are a crafty devil" goes right up there with "Kiss my Blarney Stone" as the only things that save him from utter disdain. *grin*

So, didn't get much revising done, but I was CERTAINLY entertained!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Dear Charlie:

Up to page 100 on my revision!

Wow, this thing is TRUCKIN. I thought I would have to change more in this initial battle scene, but -- surprise, surprise -- as I read over it, it's surprisingly tight. I've separated out the few perspective shifts with asterisks, but the narrative really stays true.

I'm a bit surprised. All the scenes leading up to this needed quite a bit of readjustment to fit this new point of view scheme of mine, and I was deathly afraid I had totally screwed up this battle. Or worse, that I'd have to totally screw up the give and take to make the point of view work. But, I didn't do as much third-person-omniscient as I thought, and the few times I'm not in either one head or the other, it just requires a bit of perspective shift. It's usually like a sentence of Bryn's reaction to something Jita said that shouldn't be there because I'm in Jita's head. Little stuff like that. Easily fixed.

So, I'm a lot less worried about the rest of these revisions. They should be fairly easy to carry through, and if I remember the upcoming scenes correctly, there's a pretty natural progression into a more omniscient point of view. It doesn't really kick in until Book 2, as Book 1 is really Bryn's story, to a certain extent, so it needs the distinct perspectives, but it's there, and I think it will work all right with very minor tweaking.

Woo-hoo!

Dear Charlie:

So I'm at Woody's last night, listening to my buddy play, right?

Now, I get teased mercilessly for loving WWE Smackdown, but since those doing the teasing enjoy the teasing so much, I like to give them fodder. So I get off on a tangeant about Smackdown and what I heard about Summer Slam, which I didn't get to see because I don't have cable or satellite and can't get pay-per-view.

At any rate, I mention I'm bummed because I didn't get to see if Luther Reigns got to wrestle, as he's my new favorite guy. "Luther who?" they say, not really interested, but listening carefully so they can better make snappy rejoinders. Luther Reigns, I reply, heading off into the weeds of who the guy is on the show.

And then I let it slip.

"Oh, MAN, he has the best legs I've EVER seen!"

Oops.

Now, I could have probably turned the conversation to safer waters, but my wonderful friends, always eager to pounce on my few girlie traits, fairly tripped over each other on their way to examine this new nugget.

"I see...."

"Now things become a bit clearer...."

"So, he's CUTE, huh?"

A sage nod. "I knew there had to be SOME reason...."

A little desperate now to salvage what was left of my reputation, I further mired myself by saying that it was simply the perfect proportion I admired so much. Usually these buffed up wrestler types either over-do EVERYTHING and look a little freakish or just work on their upper bodies, leaving these little chicken legs that simply aren't attractive at all. But Mr. Reigns.... Oh, Mr. Reigns, bless you for being 6'5" and so very perfectly proportioned!

The rest of the conversation was a barrage of rolling eyes and smirking nods, but the damage was done.

No matter how much I protest now that I watch the show for the sheer spectacle, everyone will now think I watch it to compare body types. *shakes head* Me and my big mouth.

Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done last night.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Dear Charlie:

Now this is interesting.

My revision process has hit a fascinating, if unexpected, turn. In tidying up my perspective and such, I've decided to make each scene from a particular point of view, ne? So far, this hasn't been a problem, as most of the beginning is from Bryn's point of view until we get to know Jita and Gabin a bit more, anyway.

However, now that I'm so much more aware of point of view, I realize that it will likely be a jolt to step into either Jita's or Gabin's heads where I intended to, though it seemed an easy enough transition before.

The problem? Simple.

Third person omniscience.

The solution? Well, I'm working on that.

See, when I initially wrote the tale, I started out strictly in Bryn's POV, then gradually switched to a more omniscient narrator. Now that I know better, I know I can't do that. Well, I can, but not until I've published several books and have earned some lenience. *grin*

This time through, I kept in Bryn's POV until I hit a snag in that first fight between her and Jita. First, it's only a "fight" from Bryn's POV. When I slip so naturally into Jita's POV, it's a "spar". For some reason, that jolted me this time around. The words are not interchangeable, as anyone who's done either knows.

I didn't know before that I couldn't just jump around between the two like that.

So, I decided to organize things by being more strict with my POVs, as I was in a novella I wrote recently. It was strictly from 2 POVs, and I was so deep into those POVs that it was almost stream of consciousness, though more structured.

I've become pretty fond of that, and I decided to give it a go here, though with more than 2 POVs. Hell, I have 3 main characters, a bunch of bad guys that the good guys don't even KNOW about, and several supporting characters who are as important to the plot as the main characters and just haven't been introduced yet.

This is where the problem came in.

I can't just jump into Jita's head so fully like 70-some pages into the story. It's a jolt. It jolted me, and I knew what the hell was going on.

I've been in Bryn's head for 70+ pages. I can't just suddenly be in someone else's because it's convenient, and I can't tell the entire story from just her POV. It's a sci-fi. It just doesn't work that way. You wouldn't hear about the bad guys -- who aren't only instrumental to the plot but ARE the plot -- until they showed up.

If I thought jumping into Jita's head was a jolt, I can only imagine how smoothly THAT would go down!

A solution immediately presented itself, but I was too tired last night to work on it, so I put it off until a more opportune time. The solution? Bring both his and Gabin's POV in sooner, so it's not such a jolt. Simplicity itself, ne?

Well, not so much.

I have found the perfect place to bring Jita in, but it's still pretty far into the story -- only about ten pages sooner than before, actually. I'm working on it, and it's going swimmingly, but it's still too late in the narrative. Gabin's is after that, even, so that's not too helpful, either.

Then, inspiration hit. Eureka! By Jove, I have it, Watson! The perfect place to bring the boys in! It's in the first chapter, it's a natural break in Bryn's POV already, and I'd been curious in my own mind as to what the boys were doing at that particular point, anyway. It's BRILLIANT!

Of course, it means adding 2 or 3 pages of exposition to an already lengthy book, but if it solves this POV problem, I'm sure I can nip something else later.

I'm SO relieved. *grin* Now, I can continue.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Dear Charlie:

One last post before heading off to bed.

This deep edit is going swimmingly. Up to page 75, and I think I've finally clarified things that, while obvious to me because I know so much about my characters, might not be obvious to the world. It's paced so much quicker with what I've learned about paragraphing, and I've fixed a lot of the sentences starting with the simple subject/verb pattern.

Plus, I've eliminated a lot of character names by being more careful with who is in perspective. It's not point of view so much as who the point of a given section can see, hear, smell, etc. Since I've clarified so much of that crap, I don't have to say "Jita said" or "Gabin did" nearly so much, and I rarely have to use Bryn's name at all in the narrative. I mean, thus far, she's the only "she" I have. *grin*

Oh, oh! And while I haven't shortened any chapters, per se, I have divided them into smaller scene chunks, separating each with little asterisks. I think it'll make the transition to my few skips in point of view easier to assimilate. They'll seem like simple scene changes, rather than drastic changes in who's doing the thinking.

I hope.

Little things like this should make it so much easier to read, and I think they improve the overall flow immeasurably.

Plus, the more I read, the more I'm assured that this is a pretty darn good story. There are flashes of real humor, real sorrow, real anger in these lines. My characters are adamant about the story they want me to tell, and they're nudging me none-too-gently toward that ideal.

I feel the vigor, the need to finish that I haven't felt for quite some time. I can't wait to get to Book 3 and write new stuff, and I can't wait to write those sacred and blessed words....

THE END.

I can almost taste it. *grin*

Beloved sister? Adored Lizard Queen? You've created a monster.

Dear Charlie:

Well, after that binding statement I made yesterday about finishing the ol' trilogy by Christmas, I made huge strides in my editing. I plowed through 30+ pages last night, trimming and tweaking, hacking and grafting. I'm extremely pleased with the results thus far. I think it reads better than ever, and I don't think I'll have heart palpitations when it comes time to query an agent.

I think this will be my best work, and I won't feel whonky sending out this finished product.

Yes. It's that much better.

And, once again, it's thanks in large part to my beloved sister. She's such an incredibly good example in so many ways. In this case, she proved to me that nothing is sacred, and that has unleashed a good portion of my innate editing ruthlessness on my own work.

You see, I felt the first draft of her first novel was sacrosanct. It should not be touched, other than to correct typos. It was beautiful in every way and should have immediately been published. *grin* I still feel that way.

So, imagine my dismay when she basically said, "I can do better" and tore it apart, rewriting it from the beginning.

NOOO! I wailed against the unfairness of it all. The story was beautiful! It was thrilling and gripping and sweet and dangerous and perfect in every way! Why tamper with perfection?

But, after reading a single chapter of the new, improved version, I bit my tongue and learned a lesson.

Yes, the story was beautiful and all those lovely adjectives I used before. Now, however, it was BETTER. Impossible, you say? Not so. Her new version is simply better. I didn't believe it before I read it, but I can't ignore what's right in front of me. It's not in my nature.

So, the lesson learned, I looked at my own work. My spirit quailed within me. Did I need to completely rewrite, too? I love my characters! Had I done them a disservice? Why even bother if, when I finished the rewrite, I might need to do yet another?

Oh, the despair! Oh, the weeping and wailing!

Oh, the melodrama.

Wading steadily into this cruelly deep edit, I can categorically say I am NOT rewriting, nor is such an all-encompassing upheaval necessary. My story is in a different genre from hers, so I have more lenience with some things than she does. Plus, thanks to my naturally smart mouth and my bizarre tendency to write like I talk, the story is damn funny, and it'll never be wholly serious, so I can get away with a little more, there.

It still needs a lot of work, of course, but that's okay. The original product is no longer sacred.

I can simply cut out a sentence, a paragraph, an entire page without thinking I'm losing something holy. I can add to what's there to better describe, to better show what's happening around my characters. I can do them and their story justice now without worrying about destroying the purity of the text.

Purity, schmurity.

If a complete rewrite does my sister's heart and manuscript that much good, a hard tweaking can only do the same, even if it changes the subtle flow of the story I've told. Even if it makes some of those aforementioned smart-ass comments a little more serious or a serious comment a little more tongue-in-cheek.

So, the second draft is coming along nicely, and all thanks to the knowledge that nothing is absolute. The story is already written (except for most of Book 3, of course), but it's not set in stone. I will polish it until it shines, and when it sparkles so brightly it's almost blinding, I'll show it proudly to an agent and see what happens.

Mayhap I'll show it to a dozen agents, a score of agents, a HUNDRED agents before finding one who thinks he/she can sell that shine, but I won't be so damn wussy about sending it off to them. I'm disgusted with my cowardice, and I'm done with it. I will find my balls, wherever they ran off to, and remember that, while I am no warrior, I can at least behave like one.

After all, what's the worst they can say? No? It sucks? What the hell were you thinking, you pathetic idiot? *shrug*

Bring it on.

I had an older brother, and he said worse before he got out of bed in the morning! I can take it.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Special Bulletin:

Okay. Thanks to my beloved sister and the adored Lizard Queen, I have a special announcement to make. Actually, I've already made the announcement, but it's in the comments section, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to ignore it there.

So, for said announcement to have any meaning to me whatsoever, I must make it FORMAL.

AHEM. Hear ye, hear ye. As of this 16th day of August in the year of our Lord, 2004, I, Molly Burkhart -- aka GutterBall -- do hereby declare that I will have at least a first draft of The Second Chance, Book 3 in my trilogy, finished by Christmas of this same year of our Lord, 2004.

And there was great rejoicing. Yay.

I further solemnly swear that, if I finish said book well in advance of the Christmas deadline, I will then change my oath to querying out said trilogy by Christmas.

There. It's out. Like the chicken shit comment, it can no longer be taken back. *grin* Look out, world.

Dear Charlie:

Yuck. I hate Mondays. I always end up wishing I'd just stayed in bed.

So much to do today. Finish a medical chronology, update my browser at work, stay awake....

Those three things alone would keep me hopping all day, but with all the little every-day things we all have to do -- wash dishes (and GOD, do I need to wash dishes!), do laundry, write, write, write, exercise (egad), fix at least two square meals (I forget to eat. So sue me), write some more, take movies back to the store to avoid late charges....

Well, you get the picture.

What? Surprised a scatter-brained nutbar like me actually thinks about such mundane, practical things as housework and rental fees? *grin* Well, I like surprising people, so that's okay. And I like that people give that "What the--?" look when I'm ridiculously practical. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

At any rate, I have so much crap to do that I'd better get to it. If anything non-mundane happens, I will, of course, post it immediately. Until then....

Oh, wait! I forgot! I had a bizarro dream last night, and my beloved sister would smack me for not telling her about it, since it's ALL HER FAULT!

Said beloved sister is, in an unprecedented and utterly ballsy move, writing up her query and synopsis to send to an agent. ACK! I bow down in worship to her courage and will. However, she has suggested that I do the same, the result of which being the post from yesterday about Simon and chicken shit. *grin*

So, of course, it should be quite obvious that I dreamed about it last night.

I dreamed I wrote a lovely synopsis in two pages (the agent wanted one) and a superb query letter in Times New Roman font (the agent wanted Courier, for some reason -- that's usually a manuscript). I hemmed and hawed, then finally sent them off to the same agent Joely queried.

ACK! That's where the nightmare began! As soon as I sent it, I noticed like ten REALLY OBVIOUS typos and one just HEINOUS grammar mistake, which I NEVER make. Then, I realized I forgot to mention that my sister had already been accepted (prophecy for the future, Sis? *wink* ) and had mentioned my name to said agent, so I'd totally missed my chance to name-drop. THEN, I realized I'd forgotten to enclose the frickin' synopsis!

Needless to say, I don't think I'm ready to query just yet. *rolls eyes*

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Dear Charlie:

My beloved sister posed a very intriguing question on her blog. The link is to the side of this blog under "Links" if you'd like to see it -- the Joely Sue Burkhart one. I suggest you take a walk around her site. It's very, very nice.

But the question....

"...have you ever read something later and honestly not remembered writing it?"

Now, this happens to me a lot, usually with the better stuff I've puked out. I'll read over it and go, "Damn! Where'd that come from? It's hilarious!" or "Wow. Someone else must have snuck that in when I wasn't looking." or "Um, I honestly don't remember writing that." Happens all the time. But why?

I think it's because, when we hit the zone, it's not really us writing anymore. It's like watching a movie in our heads, and we're only taking dictation. So, where does it come from?

That's another question for another time.

As for the question at hand, I think everyone who seriously writes has one of those "What the hell?" moments where they read over their own stuff, the words produced from their fingertips, and simply cannot remember combining those phrases in just that way to make that incredible concept. I love that moment. It's like seeing it for the first time, even though you obviously put it there yourself. There's no other explanation, is there? *smirk*

I think my favorite "What the--?" moment was a ridiculous little pun I made that I didn't even think about until I was reading that section aloud to my friend Dave (you'll probably hear a lot about Dave in this blog) and just burst out laughing. Actually, we both burst out laughing, though mine was in surprise as much as anything else. If you're reading, Joely, it was that "Come again?" moment. *grin* I love that one. But I honestly didn't remember putting that joke down, though everything led up to it and it came out like it was meant to be.

So, how did I not see it? Simple.

I was in the zone.

I love being in the zone. I haven't been in the zone for a little while, and my beloved sister and I were just discussing that today, not half an hour ago.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I HAVE been in the zone recently, but not in the zone I want to be in. I haven't been in my trilogy's zone. I've been in the short story zone. While perfectly enjoyable, it's just not the same as the novel zone. And it's REALLY not the same as the trilogy zone. The trilogy is such a huge, all-consuming zone....

But, I haven't touched that zone in a while -- ever since I got serious about submitting things to editors. I don't know if it's the waiting for answers (some longer than others *sigh* ) or the idea that...*gasp*...I'm seriously thinking about querying out this trilogy that I've put so much of myself into.

Now, my beloved sister makes the absolutely brilliant point that we should take this monstrous step together. It would be wonderful to have such sympathetic support for all those rejections that are sure to roll in. However, my inestimably wonderful sister is already ready to tread those treacherous waters, and I, simply put, am not. Call me chicken all you want, but I can think of a hundred good reasons to wait, and not a damn one of them has anything to do with the real reason I'm not ready.

I'm a chicken shit.

There. It's out. Can't take it back.

Oh, I could delete this post, but I won't. I'm a chicken shit, but at least I'm an honest chicken shit. I'm not scared of rejection. I can handle that. I'm not afraid of success. I don't care much either way about that.

What I'm really...uncomfortable about...is having someone IN THE KNOW read my work. It's one thing for friends and family to read it and like it. Hell, that took a bit of balls to do, but it didn't cost me anything and turned out for the best. But this....

Well, this is like standing in front of that Simon jerk on American Idol -- which I don't watch, but everyone gets the idea from the commercials -- and trying to sing your best.

It was okay when I was just singing in the shower. Hell, I was in the zone every night, writing 20-30 pages some days, and loving every minute of it.

However, now that I'm considering sending it out, it's like stepping up to that mic and seeing that self-satisfied, long-suffering smirk and knowing that, no matter how well I do, it'll never be my best stuff and it'll never impress that bastard. And HE is standing between me and my future. And he'll never be impressed. He might not cut me raw, but he won't be impressed.

I think that'd give even the most self-assured person a moment's pause.

So, there it is, folks. The one who's not afraid of anything in this universe but spiders is wigged out of her favorite place to be by the knowledge that someone IN THE KNOW will simply not be impressed. *sigh*

And that, Paul Harvey lovers, is the rest of the story.

Dear Charlie:

Ah, the weekend.

Thank God for Sunday, is all I can say. And it's getting ready to mean something again, as it's preseason. In a couple weeks, every Sunday will be a riot of football and whooping like idiots and screaming until the ol' throat's sore. *sigh* I can't wait.

I watched the Chiefs game Friday night, and I gotta say, our first string offense is just blindingly effective! Woo-hoo! And the first string defense did a lot of things right, though everyone will focus on the one wrong thing they did -- letting that guy through to score a long rushing touchdown. *shakes head* That was the ONLY obviously dopey thing they did, and that makes them damn promising, in my opinion.

I can't wait! We're SO going to the Super Bowl!!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Special Assignment:

My beloved sister and the adored Lizard Queen all but DARED me to define my trilogy characters in haiku. Sheesh. I like haiku poetry. It's beautiful, elegant, and concise. However, it's not my strong suit. But, I gave it a whirl. So, here goes.

Main Characters:

Ha'jita
Prince of the Ino-din

Prince of warriors
His birthright stolen from him
Hope only in her

--

Gabin, Ja'taro
Personal Guard to the Prince

Exiled, forgotten
Sent away in dishonor
Finds himself in her

--

Bryn, Na'saki
Mate of her Prince and his Personal Guard

Destiny stolen
Raised without her heritage
Take back who you are



Supporting Characters:

Kité
Exiled Simaanan

Purged from all he loved
Exiled to a foreign home
Master of himself

--

Tibo
Android

Turned from his purpose
Wished for personality
Who knew what would come?

--

Dig, Dixon Meyers
Bryn's Best Friend

Watched his friend's world fall
Helped her pick up the pieces
Found himself there, too



Bad Guys:

Kosa
Tyrant, son of the Emperor

Born of privilege
Terror of the universe
Ambitious li'l shit

--

Sova
Kosa's Personal Assassin

Still waters run deep
Noble warrior disguised
As Kosa's right hand

--

Na'gesa
Ruler of the Eso-din

Kosa's little stooge
One failure too many now
Go clean up your mess



Well, that's it. There are a few more characters, but these are the MAIN ones. Whatcha think?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Dear Charlie:

I just finished watching Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2. I always told myself I'd watch them together or not at all. Guess I lived up to that one, ne?

At any rate, I watched for several reasons. Dared to, which is always nearly irresistible. Wanted to when they first came out, which is less compelling. Was told a story of mine resembled the structure, which perked my curiosity -- which, as anyone who knows me knows, is a fearsome thing! Was admonished that I couldn't very well trade movie lines from it if I hadn't seen the damn thing, which was probably the least compelling but most effective reason of all.

So, I watched them both all the way through. I gotta say that it's a shining example of Tarantino's work. It's out of order and seems almost randomly thrown together. It's a stylistic hodge-podge. People spewed entirely too much blood (and I'm the LAST person to complain about that, as I love bloody movies). The music was rockin', but a little weird.

However, as is usual with a Tarantino experience, when it was over, there was an obvious beginning, middle, and end -- though they didn't come in that order -- and it all made sense. The seeming hodge-podge of styles provided an incredibly detailed order to what initially seemed chaotic. The over-spewage of blood was ridiculously effective, especially in the black and white scenes where the over-stylization would have made that much RED splattering everywhere just look silly.

In all, Tarantino showed a remarkable and completely unsung restraint. He'll never be praised for it, as he does have a flashy style that almost charicatures various movie genres, but it's there for anyone who cares to really consider. Even his anime section -- which I, as a DBZ lover and a new anime recruit, absolutely loved -- was incredibly understated, for all the screaming and blood-splattering and slaughtering. If it's not possible to use those four words together, well....

Somehow, he managed it.

There. Now I've done my little review and even managed to sound pompous at the same time. *grin* In all, I gotta say I loved the Kill Bill movies for one reason and ONLY one reason. I'm sure, if you really think about it, you'll guess.

Yup.

The FIGHTING.

Those scenes were almost obscene in their sheer brutal beauty. The contrast of kickin' music while the entire world attacks to sheer silence when O-ren and The Bride go at it alone in the snowy garden is almost haunting. The swordplay is visually stunning, even over-stylized as it is. They treat those katanas with respect. And the footwork -- I begin to wonder if Tarantino doesn't have some kind of foot fetish after watching this film -- is as intricate as an old Regency period quadrille and a hundred times more impressive. Yeesh.

Yes, the fight scenes were the jewel in the crown.

So, I liked the movie. Not the best I've ever seen, but it did keep me from playing mahjong all night long, as I was more interested in watching the sheer spectacle than pursuing that last, stubborn board. *grin* That oughtta tell you SOMETHING.

Dear Charlie:

The Last Mates. That's the title of the first book of my trilogy. It's a pretty good book, though it needs work before I even consider querying it out. It's the closest thing to happily ever after that I've ever written -- which is basically "happily for now" because by Book 2, The First Rookie, that "ever after" part has already been proven wrong -- and I'm not sure how that sits with me. It ends with warm fuzzies. Ick.

No sci fi of mine should EVER end with warm fuzzies.

Of course, it does have a short epilogue from the "bad guy" characters wherein one plots the death and destruction of our heroes, but that doesn't quite overshadow the sappiness of the MAIN ending -- that of our heroes.

I dunno. I write INTERESTING endings, but very rarely do I write HAPPY ones. And technically, this isn't really a happy ending, as it's only a temporary end -- a kind of "Stay tuned to this station for the calamity to come in our next episode!" -- that leaves off where the next book starts. And, as I already know how Book 3 ends, I can assure you it's a VERY interesting -- but not particularly HAPPY -- ending. It's not a tragedy, by any stretch, but not everybody makes it home, we'll say. *wicked grin*

See, it's like this. Originally, I'd planned on this story being one book. Nuh-uh. Ain't gonna happen. I hit 500 pages single-spaced, which is well over 1,000 pages properly formatted, before finally giving in to the inevitable and splitting it into two full books and the beginning of a third.

So, the best place to split off the "first" story was at this sappy spot, at this basically happy ending. I'm sure the publishing world will be pleased because they LIKE happily-ever-after, but I'm a bit disappointed with myself. In its original placement, it was just a normal interaction spot. But, as the ENDING of THE FIRST BOOK, it takes on new significance. *sigh*

But, the story is as it is. I'll let it flow the way it does and only guide every now and then, even if the first book ends in a disgustingly cheerful place and the second ends in a disturbingly neutral area where two arguing heroes call a basic truce and simply agree to disagree. Not happy, thank God, but not utter strife, either.

Do you think I'm over-thinking, here?

Maybe it'll all look better when I read it all over again and get back into Book 3, The Second Chance. I've kinda been on hiatus while writing a slew of short stories and sending them out into the cold, cruel world.

Yeesh. Been waiting 4 months on one of 'em. I'll be more than a bit peeved if I've waited all this time for a stock rejection without even a "how do you do". *shakes head*

Why did I pick this business again?

Caveat:

Yikes! Apparently, not even my beloved sister wants to read about my mission to defeat mahjong, so consider that topic even FURTHER shelved! Ha! It's a good thing I'd already moved on, ne?

Note to self: games that basically amount to complicated solitaire are only interesting to the person playing them....

Got it.

Dear Charlie:

So, I had another mahjong marathon last night, right? Not until 2:00 in the morning, but close enough to make me one tired girl this morning.

At any rate, I figured out my fatal flaw and worked to overcome it. You see, I assumed there was a trick that applied to the game in general. Oh, contraire. There's no universal trick. You have to take each board as it comes. Each board has its own trick, if you play it long enough to develop the correct strategy.

Just like battle. Each foe is different, with his own strengths and weaknesses and fighting style. You gotta think on your feet.

*is chuffed with pride* Once I figured THAT out, in less than 3 hours, I figured out the strategy for 5 of the 6 boards on my current game. That's right. In two marathons, I went from only clearing the board on the first shuffle twice in an entire night to clearing 5 out of 6 boards on the first shuffle with at least 75% accuracy.

In other words...reliably. *grin*

Now, that last board.... Well, let's just say that by the time I got to it, I was missing matches that were obvious, so I wrapped it up and went to bed, knowing a tired mind won't see what's in front of it. However, it IS the toughest board I didn't have to buy. Dammit. It still chafes.

But, I think I can safely move to something else once I figure out that board. I won't quit playing such an enjoyable game, of course, but it won't be a vendetta against the luck of the draw, either. Now, I'll just enjoy it, rather than expending all my energy on figuring it out.

Now that THAT'S out of my system....

I'm going back to my desire to learn a little about kanji. Thanks to my weird but steady affection for DragonBall Z, I taught myself katakana. I wanted to be able to write character names in Japanese when I drew them, so I found a handy website and used a few flash cards and, viola, katakana. Hiragana? Well, I can recognize it, but I didn't put in the time on it like I did katakana. *shrug* It's beautiful with all those swirls and swoops -- katakana is much more angular -- but I'm not sure I'll ever devote the attention to detail it needs.

At any rate, the more I learned, the more I recognized that I needed to know some kanji if I'd ever want to be able to read so much as a street sign in Japan.

Now, there's no way I could learn that much kanji without a class and some direction, but I figured it couldn't hurt to be able to recognize some common kanji, right? *sheepish* Plus, I had four distinct kanji in mind to paint on my walls, and I wanted to make sure I got both the correct ideograms and the correct stroke directions.

That's very important, you know. Making your stroke in the wrong direction can change the meaning of the whole deal -- learned that from katakana. Sheesh. Very tricky. And the strokes need to be made in the right order. You can't just trace the design from someone else's work unless you know that THEY know what they're doing. Direction and order matter.

So, that's my next project, and I found two sites that will be QUITE helpful in that pursuit, I hope. I doubt I'll keep you informed of my progress there, as that could well be a life-long pursuit. *grin*

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so I'm playing mahjong on my computer last night, and I realize exactly how weird my mentality is, how very much I wish I could be part of a true warrior species. *sigh*

The game seems simple enough: match the tiles on the available levels using as few shuffles in as little time as possible. Piece of cake, right?

Geez. I played from like 8:00 last evening until 2:00 in the morning and only cleared all the tiles in the first shuffle twice. Count 'em, twice. I played COUNTLESS rounds, and I only cleared the damn thing on the first shuffle TWICE. *shakes head*

Now, I realize the trick to the game is to plan ahead. To see moves that haven't even developed yet. To strategize until you have every angle worked out and nothing you reveal on the next level throws you. THAT'S the pull for me -- the strategy, the planning, the beating of not the clock or the scoreboard, but the very nature of the game.

What I didn't realize, though, is exactly how much mental discipline it takes to do all that stuff both quickly and right the first time. Sheesh.

I'm fascinated with making my mind do it right the first time EVERY time. It's a battle, like most good, absorbing games are. It requires strategy, quick-thinking, problem-solving, and attention to the finest detail. It requires a certain art. It requires the mental discipline to not take easy matches when you might need that particular tile later on. It requires both patience and speed.

The damn game is a martial artist's playground!

So, I'm fascinated and fully hooked. I mean, I played that game for six hours straight -- forgot to eat, as my stomach reminded me as soon as I went to bed -- and still didn't manage any kind of reliable strategy. I played every different arrangement I didn't have to pay for and managed a certain mastery of a couple, but still didn't clear it the first time more than twice. I mean, sure, the idea is to get rid of the highest stacks first, etc. Nice strategy. Like that, I can always match all the tiles and clear the spread. No problem. But not on the first go!

And that's what keeps me playing. I don't just want to do it RELIABLY. I want to do it RIGHT.

Now, if this tenacity of will were channeled into, say, training in martial arts, I'd have probably managed a black belt by now. As it is, I've never taken a lesson in my life and pretty much rely on the threat of my baseball bat -- which I wield with great accuracy, though I've never hit a homer -- to count as "self-defense". Dammit.

I have a friend who teaches in a dojo, but while my friends are free to ask me for any favor, I feel funny asking in return. I mean, that's his paycheck I'd be tampering with if I asked for even a single free lesson. Just can't do it.

I can, however, train my mind a little. Okay, a LOT. And train it, I will. I can already clear the hardest board on the second shuffle in five minutes flat with no hints. That's gotta be good for something, ne?

*sigh* I'm working on it. One of these days....

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Special Bulletin:

I just got INCREDIBLE news from my best friend in my home town....

She's pregnant with twins -- little mutant vampires, she calls them, as they suck up all her energy and the energy of everyone in a twenty-foot radius -- and just did the gender-discovering ultrasound.

*drumroll*

She's having a boy AND a girl! Woo-hoo! How perfect is that? She gets it all out in one fell swoop!

Kudos to you, Kristi! God love ya!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging enjoyment.

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so I'm thinking further on this battle fixation of mine -- doesn't that just beg the question? -- and I got thinking that half the reason I love fighting so much is because of RIVALRY.

Rivalry is a beautiful and wonderful thing, a time-honored tradition. Here you have two "mortal enemies" whose sole purpose is to train and train and get stronger and better until they surpass the other rival, right?

First, there's that hate-on -- the "I cannot believe anyone can be stronger than me! It cannot be! I HATE him!" syndrome. We've all seen it. It springs from thinking you're the best until someone else comes along and just trashes the whole idea. Everyone thinks they want a worthy foe until that foe shows up and shows you up. *grin*

Second, you have the intense battles between the two where they learn each others' moves and how to counter, then come up with all new moves to throw the opponent for a loop, then they have to go back to that training thing again to defeat these NEW moves.

Third, you have a deep and sincere admiration of the opponent's abilities. This is an absolutely necessary ingredient. After all, if you don't admit a certain appreciation of form, technique, and strength, then beating that person isn't worth your time, right? There MUST be some admiration, even if cloaked as jealousy, for a rivalry to perpetuate.

Which is, of course, why so many rivalries turn to truces or even friendships, tentative though they may be.

I mean, think about it. If you expend that much of your energy every single waking moment for the sole purpose of surpassing and defeating an enemy, only to see someone else come along and try to take that right, that PRIVILEGE from you...what would you do?

You'd jump in and join up with your rival to kick the interloper's ass, then go back to the rivalry with a little better appreciation of how much that rivalry means to you. *grin*

So, after the trilogy is done, I may have to turn to a rivalry story. Ideas are perking. Characters are forming in the feculent (thank you, Joely and Jean) morass of my mind. I must create rivals worthy of, say, Goku's and Vegeta's rivalry in DragonBall Z. THAT'S a doozie no one will EVER surpass, but hopefully I can do the concept spawned therein some justice.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so I'm reading a story of mine -- I know, I'm supposed to be working; shame on me -- and it hits me: I'm a battle-junkie.

Now, this is not news to me. However, the realization of just how fascinated I am with the entire concept of battle -- be it with weapon, with animal, hand-to-hand, energy, or simple words -- was eye-opening. I mean, most of my more vivid descriptions are in battle scenes. And I have A LOT of battle scenes.

That, my friends, is the understatement of the year.

The science fiction trilogy I'm currently writing is chock-full of battle. Sparring, training, brawling, trash talk, blood, more blood, energy blasts, cutting off alien tails in the middle of a fight, gore.... Like the Ragu slogan, it's in there. Sure, it has a few nominal references to a growing relationship between the main characters and quite a bit of sex, but in between those scattered references to real life, it's pretty much battle-centric.

So, why do I just now realize my fixation on warriors, war, and the art therein? Well, again, I kinda knew I appreciated battle, so that's not a surprise. But the ART of it, the mastery of form and function, the sheer brilliance of thinking and reacting in a millisecond to the opponent's move and counter-move, the sounds and smells, the hair-trigger reflexes.... Man, I could drool just THINKING of it.

And when writing it? *snort* Man, I THRIVE when I write about it.

I truly didn't realize until just now that I use up all my best writing on battle. Someone even commented as such -- thanks Borath! -- that a particular description of a spar was beautiful or some such (I assume in a visceral, brutal sort of way), and it went right over my head. I even responded that I save my best stuff for writing fight scenes, and it STILL went over my head!

*shakes head* You know, I think that's what this blog is for -- pointing out the obvious to myself! Sheesh.

At any rate, I just had to get that blinding revelation out, in case I went and forgot it again. *shakes head again* Sometimes, I'm such a 'tard.

Dear Charlie:

So I'm watching WWE Smackdown this weekend. Yes, I watch wrestling. Yes, I love it. *grin* Not a very girlie pursuit, but I don't do many girlie things except brush my hair and teeth and bathe every day. Sometimes TWICE.

At any rate, I'm watching WWE Smackdown, and I come to a stunning conclusion: football season is finally here! Woo-hoo! Okay, technically, it's just preseason, but for a football nut like me, there's no JUST about it. Football is football, and it's HERE. Preseason game tonight, and I will be front row center in my living room, Bud Lite in one hand and volume clicker in the other.

So, my sister and I discussed this magical time of year when I visited her yesterday. We're both chuffed to the gills over it. Where we usually talk writing and laugh like idiots -- her husband says our IQs drop to negative when I'm around -- we instead oozed preseason cheer and made sure the game came on local stations so I can watch it without having to drive an hour and a half to my sister's house to do so. *grin* Lucky me. It's on ABC.

At any rate, while watching Luther Reigns -- and isn't he just beautiful? -- stalk around the ring as Kurt Angle kicked the crap out of Charlie Haas, I slowly became ever more excited because I know that THIS YEAR...is THE YEAR. I have a feeling deep in my bones that THIS YEAR the Chiefs will hit the Super Bowl. I know, I know. I say this every year. But this year, we have the pieces in place. It's check mate, baby.

We have an unstoppable offense. We have reliable special teams. And we have Gunther Cunningham whipping our defense into shape -- we always had stellar defense, though the overall team didn't do so hot, with him in the head coach seat. How can we lose?

Of course, you may all be pointing and laughing at me come January, but I still feel it in my bones. I won't say we'll win it all, but I think we'll get there. It's Bowl-time, sugar pie. We're THERE.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Well, this is it. My blog. I've finally given in to the inevitable. It's not a website yet, but I'm tapdancing around the edges.

I've recently come to the conclusion that it's darn hard to be a serious writer -- let alone a published one -- without having a blog. It's easy, free advertising for your own stuff. It reaches people a signing tour wouldn't and is easy to get out there by way of linking to other people's blogs and sites. Plus...hell, doesn't everyone just need a place to blurt every now and then?

So, I'm blogging.

Don't know quite what I'll do here, but it should be interesting, and I'll allow comments in case anyone has any useful suggestions. After all, like the great Katsumoto, all I want is a good conversation. Well, that, and a way to memorialize it. I've been very lucky with the "great conversation" bit -- I've had hundreds of incredible conversations with people all over the world -- but the memorializing part may be a bit tougher. Maybe I can remind myself here. Or maybe I'll just treat it as a very public journal, of sorts.

Either way, I hope someone out there besides my sister, bless her heart, reads this thing! The poor woman reads everything I write because she's the best sister in the world, so she deserves more kudos than I could dish out with a backhoe. But I hope she's not the ONLY one who stops by every now and then.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the Letters to Charlie thing...? Let's just say that's my little secret, and if you stick around, I might just tell you someday. Maybe. *wicked grin*