Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Well, I crossed the 50,000 word threshhold. Woot!

Now, as my beloved sister discusses on her blog, I am at a difficult part of the book. This is the part where things must appear to be looking up just before everything goes all to Hell. This is the false dawn.

And it's hard as hell to write. Oh, it's easy to get into the snappy dialogue. That, I got. But the emotion? The introspection? The careful weaving of rising action in the plot?

Tough.

So, before I delve into the morass, I'm gonna take a little break and watch a movie. And play some Sudoku, because I haven't stretched my brain beyond the book in quite a little while.

And then? Into the Cave, baby. Let's see if we can't better define the darkest pits of Hell.

Oh, and no one probably noticed, but I removed the Xodtica link from my sidebar. The e-zine hadn't put out an issue in at least a year, but the site was still up, so I left the link for anyone who might want a snippet of the story I'd published there. But no more. Alas, Xodtica has gone the way of many an e-zine.

*sigh*

There goes that publishing credit! Good thing I still have the .pdf of my issue, ne?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Football Sidebar:

Picks for the week:

Atlanta over Arizona
Dallas over Tennessee [good God, this game's gonna suck!]
Indianapolis over Jets [no offense to the Jets, but it's Indy!]
Miami over Houston [*snoooooooores*]
Buffalo over Minnesota
New Orleans over Carolina [go NO!]
Baltimore over San Diego
Kansas City over San Francisco [duh!]
Detroit over St. Louis [I just like watching StL lose]
Cleveland over Oakland [ah, who gives a rat's ass??]
Jacksonville over Washington [I still hesitate to pick Jax, even when they're good]
Cincinnati over New England [Cincy! woot!]
Chicago over Seattle [this game's gonna ROCK...HARD]
Philadelphia over Green Bay [sorry GB, oh ye of my same initials]


Now, here is a bizarro and completely gratuitous statistic, but I've gotten 10 games right every single week thus far. 10 right the first week. 10 right the second week. 10 right the third week.

O.o

What does that mean???

Superfluous Sidebar:

Yeah. Superfluous. See, I determined a long time ago that when Blogger's doing that 0%, 0%, 0% thing, it actually has saved the post, but it won't show up until you post ANOTHER post.

And just for grins, POST.

So yeah, superfluous sidebar. Have fun, guys.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sidebar:

2800 words today. Not too shabby.

God, I'm tired. This won't be too whoopy a week (or two) at work, either. Two more long-term employees put in their notice, so I'll be doing two more LENGTHY 100% audits of all of their charges on all of their clients for the past year.

Oh, joy.

I'm going to pretend to sleep now. G'night, all!

Dear Charlie:

1200 words net today, but it was more like 3000 gross. I did a little pruning -- namely, hacking away the section I wrote at work today over lunch.

It felt clumsy. The characters voices were all wrong. It didn't flow.

Finally, just before I gave up and went back to work, I realized why. It was in the wrong point of view. I was trying to tell that part of the story in the wrong character's head. Duh.

So, before signing back in, I jotted down a couple of notes and some dialogue to remind me of my direction, then trashed everything I'd written over lunch and a little bit of last night's final tally. Never completely gone, of course -- just saved to another document -- but I won't use it. It's not right.

What I wrote tonight is, though. So, while I cut the 900 words from lunch and about 700 or so words from last night, I wrote back positive on my word count, which is cool.

And I fixed the literary constipation. I hate literary constipation. You know, when all the words are there but they won't come out? Yeah. Hate it.

Going to bed early tonight. I'm zonked. Insomnia still sucks, but I'm hoping to at least fall asleep at a slightly earlier insanely early hour of the morning.

[EDIT: Posted this morning because Blogger was being a bitch last night. >.< ]

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sidebar:

Ugh. Insomnia sucks.

Only about 800 words thus far tonight, but I did sit down and write out a possible query. Yes, it's putting the cart before the horse's grandparents, but it's been on my mind. So I did it. Waiting to see if it's as quirky and interest-catching as I hope.

Plus, the evening's not over yet. However, I don't hold high hopes for creativity.

I have a headache the size of Montana and barely six hours of sleep in two nights (and while I slept well over the weekend because I could sleep in, I didn't get squat for sleep last week, either) has made my logic a little fuzzy. Oi.

But I'll try. Before and after I watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I haven't watched that show in AGES! I adore Vincent D'Onofrio!

Guh, see what sleep deprivation does to me? This is ME...watching TV...two nights in a row!!

The world must be about to end. Okay, back to writing.

[EDIT: I am VERY disappointed. Vincent D'Onofrio wasn't on L&O:CI this week. The first time I actually turn on the TV to watch a specific show--read: for something besides football--in like three months, and he's not on! Waaah!

Oh well, back to the slave mines. The Muse has no tolerance for whining. Evil bastard.]

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dear Charlie:

2600 words tonight, and I even made time for the premier of Heroes. I think that show's gonna be big.

Of course, I identify most with the little Japanese guy who wants to live life like Star Trek. Bless his heart! If I had actual proof that I could warp time and thereby warp space, you bet your sweet bippy I'd be trying it out every chance I got!

I'd be wearin that sucker OUT.

Anyway, looks to be an interesting concept. As much as I'm kinda meh about Ali Larter, I gotta admit that I'm curious about her "ability". My reflection starts pulling that crap, and we're gonna have a misunderstandin. There's gonna be some furniture movin.

Heh. This moment has been brought to you by Bernie Mac.

Anyway, I kinda hit another segue section tonight, so it took me a while to get started. Plus, I knew that I needed to disconnect at 8:00 to watch the new show -- and it's a strange day, indeed, when GB pauses her WRITING to watch TELEVISION....

O.o

But once I got back to the ol' computer and just made myself write, it flowed again, and another good 2000 words cranked out. I sat down at 9:00 and wrote for like five minutes, then looked up and it was 10:40. Yikes!

So, time for bed. Here's hoping for some sleep tonight, because if I keep up this half-insomnia bit that I've had for the last two weeks, I'm just gonna get up and write.

I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dear Charlie:

7500 words.

*pauses for effect*

Wow. I didn't think I'd written that much until I checked the word count. I'm up to 44,000 words.

O.o

That's over half-way done, folks. I can barely believe it. I finished three crucial scenes today. Now, I just have to make sure everything goes to Hell in a handbasket and clean it all back up again. Woot!

Ack! I have no idea what happened with football today! What's wrong with me??

*runs to check NFL.com*

Dear Charlie:

Okay, I hadn't planned on posting even a teaser of the current work in progress because I didn't want to jinx myself. I'm superstitious.

But I'm really, really proud of this section and amused as hell by it. So ha!

Plus, while there are hints in here that do pertain to the plot, this particular "setting" section is more to set up the next section, which I will NOT post, so it's pretty harmless. I hope. And yes, I know there's some passive voice that needs editing, but this is a rough draft. It'll pretty up later, ne?

And if I ever hit PowerBall, I am SO building this mini golf course!


He needed a distraction. If he stayed cooped up in the house with her all day, he would dig his hole deeper than it already was. It was long past time to take this non-relationship out into public.

Plus, he was bored.

"Are there any good mini golf courses around here?"

She looked up from her scrambled eggs and blinked. Though he'd felt uncomfortable since the night before when he realized she didn't want to introduce him to her friends, he couldn't help a tiny smile at that slow blink. She looked like a surprised cat when she did it, like she would comprehend in her own good time.

"I guess that depends on what you mean by good."

"Interesting. Difficult greens. No clowns or ponies or carnival music."

Instead of the amusement he expected, he received the suspicious narrowing of one eye. Hiding a sigh, he realized that it wasn't only her friends that she didn't want him to meet. She didn't want to be seen with him at all.

"Never mind. I'll just borrow a book after breakfast."

Something in her face softened. "Are you that bored?"

"Of course not." He sat up straighter. "I read all the time."

"Jack...." She paused a long moment before her chin came up. "Chimera Green is the best, but it's also the busiest because it has other stuff like batting cages and go-carts. Go Go Putt Putt is obviously for kids. I'd say our best bet is Arg, Me Hearties."

His lips twitched. "Arg, Me Hearties?"

For the first time all morning, she smirked. "Pirate themed."

"You don't say."

They stared at each other, lips twitching, for a full second before bursting out laughing.

"It's Talk Like a Pirate Day all year there, Jack, I kid you not."

He fought for breath. "That's it. We're going. I have got to see this place."

"I have to warn you. I am terrible at mini golf."

His chuckles wound down to the occasional guffaw. "Do you hate playing?"

"Bite your tongue." But she smiled. "I love playing. I'm just terrible at it."

"Fair enough. What time do they open?"

In less than an hour, he pulled his Envoy into a parking spot barely ten yards from a cinderblock building painted to look like a pirate ship. Plaster cannons poked out of the sides at regular intervals. He killed the engine and sat staring for a long moment.

"Boggles the mind, doesn't it?"

He nodded, caught between wide-eyed and highly amused.

"Every time someone finishes in under par, they fire the cannons."

"No way."

She snickered. "They have them set up with compressed gas and sound effects. The guy checks your score card and hollers 'Fire all!' and it's like a touchdown at Tampa Bay."

Shaking his head, he opened his door and stepped out. "I love this place. I don't even have to go inside to know."

"It is definitely something else."

He kept his hands safely in his pockets as they walked toward the building so he wouldn't accidently put his arm around her or grab her hand. She walked close to him, and that was enough for now. Besides, she wasn't hiding her eyes or darting glances around to see who might catch her with an escort. She seemed relaxed and even grinned up at him when he opened the door for her.

"Ahoy, maties!"

The chorus came from all sides, and he fought the urge to snicker. She nudged him with her elbow, and he looked down to find her eyes twinkling.

"Hope you brushed up on your pirate lingo. The desk is over there. I gotta go use the little wench's room."

He watched her go with a grin and nearly laughed again when he saw the signs on the bathroom doors. Wenches and maties. Good God.

"Welcome aboard, mate. How many rounds would ye like?"

Carefully hiding his amusement, he paid for a single round, not wanting to push his luck with her. If all went well, he hoped she would grab a late lunch with him before he drove back to Caston. He ought to work in another heavy petting session to make up for not being in the mood last night, but he might not be able to fit it in.

While he waited for her to return from the little wench's room, he looked over the decor with a wide smile. Rigging and nets draped every wall. Wooden casks and barrels piled in the corners, some even with fake rats squatting on them. The walls were painted like wooden slats, the ceiling criss-crossed with heavy beams. And the crowning touch, an honest-to-God cannon, squatted against the far wall, a pile of cannonballs beside it.

A hand on his arm turned him from his lolly-gagging, and he didn't bother hiding his amusement.

"This place is a scream. How often do you come here?"

She quirked her crooked grin. "Just once. The course is a little too distracting to really work on your game, and my game needs serious work."

"I gotta see this."

They chose putters, then pushed through the far door leading to the course. He stopped just outside.

"Oh. My. God."

"My sentiments exactly."

A scale-model ship capped a blue-tinted hill, all billowing sails and storm-tossed waves. Water hazards with real running water abounded. Alligators, a squid, and an octopus guarded several holes. And, of course, a sinuous, coiling sea serpent.

"I love this place."

She laughed and took his arm, heading for the first hole. "Let's get this show on the road."

© copyright Molly Burkhart, 2006

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Only 1200 words today. I slept late, then watched two movies that a friend let me borrow. I wanted to make sure I'd watched them so I could take them back with a clear conscience on Monday. I'm nearly obsessive about returning people's movies. Books? Well...that's a little different.

Heh.

When I went back to writing, I spent probably an hour determining the best place to write in a scene that I had missed the first time around. Okay, I didn't really MISS it, as I'd planned to put it later, but I realized that I needed it earlier. I just had to find the right place.

Luckily enough, the right place was all but written in. It's scary when that happens. Heh.

Anyway, then I called my beloved sister, who's had a rough patch of it the last week. We got to talking about our respective projects, as we always do, and there went an hour and a half! Geez!

Plus, she mentioned some of the tweaking she'd done to her recently-finished work, and it's been in my inbox two whole days, and I've been SUCH a good girl to not open it up and read it straight through, so I gave myself a little treat and read the last 50 pages.

*sheepish*

But it was so good! I couldn't help myself!

So I kinda goofed off today, but I did still make progress. Plus, tomorrow, it's nose to the grindstone again. I want this added scene done, and I want to get back to where I was to finish the scene after that, too. Heh.

God, I hope this is as funny as I think it is. My sense of humor is so screwed up that I can only guess!

Oh, and for some reason, today it was back to Neil Young.

O.o

Sidebar:

Taking a quick break to post the ol' football picks. I got 10 the first week and 10 the second (though I only posted Week 2's picks here), so let's see how this week of either juggernauts or yawners goes.

Miami over Tennessee
Indianapolis over Jacksonville *
Houston over Washington **
Green Bay over Detroit
Jets over Buffalo
Tampa Bay over Carolina
Cincinnati over Pittsburgh ***
Chicago over Minnesota ****
Baltimore over Cleveland
Seattle over Giants
Philidelphia over San Fran
Arizona over St. Louis **
New England over Denver
New Orleans over Atlanta *****

* - This game's gonna rock. I only picked Indy because they're at home. Either could take it.
** - No offense, but who cares?
*** - This could be a good game, but I think Cincy will take it. However, you never know with Pittsburgh. They'll surprise you.
**** - O.o
***** - Boy. Tough call. I gotta go with the Saints though. Who knew we'd get another season in the Superdome?

So yeah, these games are either gonna be Shit Bowls or all out war. Just depends on which games we get.

*sigh*

No Chiefs this week. My poor boys.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Having an editing night tonight. I got the urge to be ruthless, so I took pruning sheers to the current 70+ single-spaced pages and hacked back down to the green parts. Thus far, I've stripped over 1000 words from the first 48 pages, bringing my word count down to about 36,300. Still not bad, and the story's much tighter.

I plan to do the other 20-some pages before going to bed. Tomorrow, I'll go back to adding instead of subtracting.

I also activated some passive sentences and took out a lot of the gesticulating and emoting. I tend to be dialogue-heavy, so I subconsciously have my characters shift and smile and frown and play with silverware and pencils and the hem of their shirt. Usually, it's a cheat to show who's talking without using dialogue tags -- even the invisible "said". I hate using dialogue tags. So I gesticulate and emote.

Most of that's gotta go. Don't get me wrong. They have to be doing something besides talking, but when I've had a character smile four times in the same conversation, I'm obviously not getting it done with the dialogue.

Heh.

Anyway, it's tighter. I think it reads better.

I'm listening to Blue October tonight. I blogged about them earlier in the year, though damn if I can find the link right now. I'll look later. Anyway, I absolutely love their song Hate Me, so I downloaded a few more of their tracks to see if that one was a fluke.

It's not. Some of their stuff is pretty hard core, but all of it flows. Good stuff. Good to write to.

Sorry, Anna, but Neil Young is sooooo yesterday. Heheheh....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dear Charlie:

4100 words tonight, baby! Woot!

*dances*

The Zone swallowed me whole. I was takin dictation. Call it what you will, but the words just flowed. I didn't wanna stop! If it were tomorrow, I'd just keep writing all night. I'm in it.

And oddly enough, after two weeks of writing to a nearly psychotically eclectic mix of music, I had the urge to put in my Prairie Wind CD. Yup, Neil Young. I don't know why -- it has absolutely nothing to do with the story I'm writing -- but it keeps me focused.

I don't know if it's Mr. Young's voice or the steady, simple beat or what, but I like it. I bought it when it first came out, but I've only listened to it once since I opened it.

Now? Hell, I may pop it in every night. Like the word count posting, Prairie Wind may become part of my superstition. Heh.

Anyway, good night all, and may sweet dreams bless you tonight. I may not sleep for all the words crowding my head, but you guys will all catch Zs for me, right?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Woot! I broke 30,000 words! I'm up to almost 32,000!

*dances*

So, I got the brilliant idea to just take my laptop to work so I could write over the lunch hour. Worked like a charm (though I usually get interrupted at lunch if I don't leave the office), and I managed about 900 words. I wrote another 1600 after I got home from work.

I would have a more impressive count if not for this. Someone posted the link for the "How Much Do You Know About Serenity" quiz, and I could not resist. I looooove that movie. Needless to say, I aced the quiz. *preens*

I cannot withstand "how much do you know about X" quizzes. I might even call it my defining characteristic. With the world falling down around my ears from nuclear war or alien invasion or natural disaster, I would still stumble across a "how much do you know about the End of Days" quiz and have to stop and take it.

It's like putting a T-bone steak in front of a dog and telling him not to eat. It's cruel and unusual punishment to give me a link like that and expect me not to quiz every movie I've seen on the list.

But I did break away by about 9:00 and put my writer hat back on. I'm kinda proud of that. Sometimes I'm so easily sidetracked that I'll look up and realize I've been reading food labels for an hour instead of actually cooking. *sheepish* So I only allowed myself about an hour and a half of quizzing before dragging myself back to my one true love.

Woot!

Anyway, since I was late to bed last night, I figure I'd better hit the sack a little early tonight. Now that I have an extra hour to write at lunch, I feel a little better about turning in early at night. Zombie GB doesn't write so well as Well-Rested GB.

Although Zombie GB comes up with some pretty kitschy stuff....

Sidebar:

Gah! Time got away from me!

I worked late, called a sick friend to check up, and got a call from Mom. I just wanted to come home and write!

Plus, I obsessed about a particular section. I wrote 800 or 900 words, then axed them. Wrote 1000 words, then axed them. Wrote another 500 words and axed them before they really got started. I knew where I was going, but I needed to finish a previous scene before getting to the next one.

I just. Needed. A SEGUE.

So, though I only "advanced" about 1800 words tonight what with all the cuts, I am inordinately proud to say that I got over the first hump I've encountered in this story and am now steaming along again, as evidenced by the fact that I should have been in bed two hours ago. Yikes.

Regular work day tomorrow, though. No late clients. Hopefully, once I get home, I'll actually get to steam through a bunch more pages now that I figured out what kept stumbling me.

On this particular story, when all else fails, make 'em do something funny. Used to be, I'd blow something up or pick a fight between characters or introduce some graphically painful irony. Not so, here. This genre mutant of mine speeds right along when everything's all buggered up.

Heh.

Of course, it's not a genre mutant. I'm just not used to writing in this particular genre and never expected to have to. Maybe I'm the mutant for this one.

O.o

God only knows what will happen when it's done. It'll either be hilarious or flop like a sedated trout.

To bed! Either to bed or to write all night, and writing all night ain't sounding so bad!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Toilet's fixed. For now. Funny story, that.

See, I must not come across as someone who knows what she's talking about, no matter how smilingly reasonable I am. I said, "I don't usually flush the toilet when it's messed up like this because the water doesn't stop."

Pretty self-explanatory, ne? I mean, when the toilet's messed up, the water doesn't stop when it usually would. When the little plunger thingie pops up, the water just keeps running. When the tank is filled, the water just keeps running. There's no rhyme or reason to when it will stop. Sometimes it'll run for five minutes, I kid you not. But only when the toilet's messed up.

Yes, I am aware that you can just push down the plug. And that there's a shut off. Neither work when the toilet is messed up. I'm not your average user, here.

So...what does the guy do? Flushes.

Instant mess. Not a terribly attractive smell, either. The guy is okay until he can't get the water to stop. Gee, it just keeps on coming out. He sends his partner out to shut off the water at the curb. I'm SO not kidding.

I just offer him my dwindling supply of towels, shake my head, and tell myself that they'd better clean this bugger-all up before they leave. I'm paying $65 for this?

So he freaks out when it just doesn't stop and keeps saying, "I've never seen a toilet do this! Why doesn't it stop?" And I repeat, "It just doesn't. It'll stop when it's done and not before." To which he patiently and calmly replies, "When's he gonna get the goddamned water turned off!"

Heh. Anyway, so it stops, and the guy heaves a sigh of relief and kicks around the towels for a while, trying to soak up roughly a half-inch of unattractive and not-pure water from my bathroom floor. I blithely hand him paper towels to aid in the process, and his partner comes running in, saying that she couldn't get the water shut off at the curb because it's twisted too tight.

"Then...why'd the water stop?"

"It just does. There's no rhyme or reason. It just stops when it's done."

I feel like I've had this conversation before. Anyway, he mops up the worst of it with paper towels and I encourage him to just throw away my poor bath towels -- need to get more of those, by the way -- and most of the revolting smell disappears. Funny thing, the water is almost BLACK. Not a good sign.

So they pull out the big guns and get the big outside snake. After a while, during which he keeps repeating that he's never seen one just not shut off like that, the verdict comes back. Roots in the line. Well, duh. What else turns toilet water black?

Don't answer that.

Admittedly, I didn't guess the "roots" thing until I saw the black water. "Gee, that looks like dirt." That kind of thing.

Anyway, problem solved, and the toilet flushes just fine and shuts off just fine. He stares at me like he can't believe it. I just shrug. I told him.

So they charge me $50 instead of the original $65 and leave, and I get to mop the bathroom yet again. Twice in one day. A record. Actually, three times -- one with Pine-Sol and one with bleach. Yeah. I do NOT want to smell crap until that room airs out. No. Frickin. WAY.

And THEN I went to work. *dies*

Quick Sidebar:

Waiting for the plumber to show up. He's not supposed to be here until 9:00, so he's not by any means late. I'm just...impatient.

I've been dealing with this stupid toilet/pipes issue for going on three months now. Longer? Maybe. I have very little concept of the passing of time.

See, the toilet doesn't get clogged, exactly. The fluid/air ratio gets buggered somehow every couple of months and makes the toilet act like it's clogged. The two times (out of DOZENS) we've had someone come out to fix it -- and by "we", I mean me and Dave, though he's not here anymore -- they've taken the snake to it and found no clog...but the toilet mysteriously flushes by plain ol' gravity again.

Hmmm....

Usually, I can get it fixed on my own by pouring a bucket of hot water down it instead of flushing. No chance of run-over that way, and it somehow eventually re-establishes the proper balance.

Not so, this time. And I think I'm starting to bugger my wax seal, so it's time for a professional.

Needless to say, last week's stomach flu was no cakewalk. Still isn't, truth be told, but I'm so much better that I might as well be completely over it. Oi.

Anyway, so I'm hoping to get in a few words before scampering off to work, but I dunno that I'll manage. I already cleaned the bathroom as best I can -- you know, until the toilet's fixed, there's no 100% clean -- and mopped the floor.

O.o

Why do I clean up more for total strangers for whose opinion I care little...but very little for my friends? Except the kitchen, of course, which Jody pointed out gets the lion's share of my cleaning mania. Heh.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Only 1500 words today, much to my shame, but I worked from 8:00 this morning to 9:00 this evening, so I'll take those 1500 words with less shame than I would have yesterday. I was supposed to work late tomorrow instead of tonight, but the secretary fell ill -- yes, with that godawful stomach flu I survived last week and probably accidentally passed on -- and didn't come in today. Oi.

Which means I'll probably be working late tomorrow night, too. Good news is that I probably won't have to go in on Friday until like 1:00. Ha!

Oh, and on a bizarro sidebar, on my way home tonight, I watched a guy walk along beside the road, then suddenly just bend over and puke while I drove by.

O.o

Is that normal? And I'm not talking just BLECH! and it's over. This was like bleeeeEEECHBLEEEECHBLECHblechblechBLEEEECH! I think it might have actually hurt.

I almost slowed down to ask if he needed medical assistence, but I figured my beloved sister might well kill me for pulling over for a vomiting drunk. That is, if the vomiting drunk didn't turn out to be a psycho fake-puker who killed me first.

To bed! Gah! And such pleasant tidings to dream about!

*facepalm*

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sidebar:

Woot! 7300 words today and 13 pages, single-spaced!

*dances*

I'm over a quarter of the way through, up to the part that usually starts to drag -- not necessarily action-wise, but writing wise -- but I think it'll be okay this time. I have what I hope is a hilarious scene coming up, and I can't wait to write it. Hopefully, it'll put me over that mental hump that my beloved sister and I were discussing just this weekend.

God, I hope this works. This book has been so much fun to drown in, though it's conversely one of the hardest I've ever written because it's not in a genre I ever thought I'd write. I know more about it than I have any book that I just started in on. Oh, I've known short stories from beginning to end before. And I knew a lot of this stuff in the trilogy, but not until after I got to it, most of the time.

I see the Hero's Journey unwinding ahead, though not for the character I'd initially thought. I know their strengths and weaknesses. I know their fears and their hopes. I know the curve balls I plan to throw at them and the harsh words they will all throw at each other. I know their darkest moments.

I've never really thought about this stuff while writing before. I either didn't know I was supposed to know these things until they happened, or I sat down and plotted them out before writing. They've never just been integrated into the story so well before.

Of course, I'm probably jinxing myself now. Heh. Yikes!

Anyway, now it's to bed because I have to go to work tomorrow. Stupid work! Getting in the way of my REAL job! Heheheh....

Dear Charlie:

O.o

I'm actually doing pretty well on my football picks this week...except for overtime. All three of the overtime games ended up in losses for me.

Including my beloved Chiefs. My poor, poor Chiefs.

They played so well! I mean, c'mon! The defense did great up until that last quarter, and I can't blame them for being dog-tired at the end.

I can, however, blame the coaching staff for dallying with ZONE DEFENSE.

>.<

I believe I have made my opinions on ZONE DEFENSE quite clear. We don't play ZONE DEFENSE, and we hold them to a single figgie. We start playing ZONE DEFENSE, and suddenly it's tied. And then we go into overtime, which is apparently the Kiss of Death for whichever team I picked today.

Oi.

But Huard did far better than could really be expected of him. The defense...when not sucked into the godless black hole of ZONE DEFENSE...played with excellence. I was very proud of their pass protection in the first three quarters. We've sucked at pass protection for many years now, so it was good to see.

The offensive line, bless its monstrous heart, needs to find itself again. Last year and the year before, we had a damn near flawless line. Trent Green had eons to throw most of the time. This year? Well, I know that there have been some personnel shifts, and I'll give them kudos for trying to plug the resulting holes. They're working on it, okay?

But at the end of the day, it ended up being 6-9 in hostile territory. We played well, and our rusher did his 100+ yard game thang, and that was it. Denver, those potty words that I will not utter on a Sunday, found their momentum and took ours away.

Bastards.

'S a good thing I'd already written 3000 words before the game started, ne? I mean, I couldn't look away! You wouldn't think a 5-field-goal game could hold your attention, but I couldn't bear to leave the room.

Anyway, back to the grindstone. I'll post a final word count before I drop off to bed.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Marvelous Sidebar:

Woot! I am VINDICATED!

My beloved Tuesday Morning Quarterback (see sidebar for a link to his archives) says, and I quote:

Worst, it is outrageous that no flag flew when Cincinnati's Robert Geathers dove at Kansas City quarterback Trent Green while he was sliding. The feet-first-slide rule is unambiguous: "Whenever a runner declares himself down by sliding feet first on the ground, the ball is dead." Any contact constitutes unnecessary roughness. Geathers pile-drived into Green as he slide, and the pile-drive is itself illegal. Not only should flags have flown, Geathers should have been ejected. Instead, the officials were staring off into space.

HA! What'd I say??

I feel better. Okay, back to writing. I cranked out three pages before Dad showed up this morning and took me to lunch and a movie -- Invincible, the one about the Philly Eagles and new head coach Dick Vermeil...oh yeah...and about Vince Papale, too, heh -- but I also cut three pages that I'd written last night. They were good pages, and it broke my heart to cut them, but I don't want to get carried away with one aspect of the story to the detriment of the rest.

*cries*

*okay, doesn't, but would if she weren't a Klingon bitch with no tear ducts*

Heh. Sorry. Can't resist a Star Trek quote when the opportunity presents.

Anyway, Invincible was all sorts of good. Dad cried. He says he didn't, but he was all sniffling like every time he watches Where the Red Fern Grows and that one episode of "Little House on the Prairie". Heheh.

And I gotta get that soundtrack. I kid you not. Is it sad that I know the lyrics to every song on a movie that was filmed about a time period two years before my birth?

O.o

Okay, really back to writing! I'll post a word count later. I dunno if it really helps me or not, but while in the Muse zone, I tend to be a bit superstitious. If it's worked thus far, I will continue to do it, even if the working is just coincidence.

[EDIT: Okay. So I cut two scenes and added four scenes. The net gain on the day was about 2000 words, but I actually wrote a good 4600, give or take. *sigh* But a hole I didn't even know was there is now gone, and I did indeed murder that darling and write two new scenes in its place that further the plot in the right direction. I think it works pretty well.

Tomorrow, I plan to sequester myself and crank out another 8500 word-day, if possible. Woot!

Um...that's before and after and sort of during the Chiefs game, of course....]

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sidebar:

Just a quick post to update.

3200 words tonight. Not bad, considering that I didn't get started until about 10:00. *sheepish* I had company, and then just as company left, Dad called.

Needless to say, I had to clean up the living room real quick, since I'd promised to do it last time Dad was up. Heh. Ahem.

Yes, Jody. I cleaned up the living room. Tossed out all the junk mail. Sorted through the non-junk mail for whatever wasn't out of date. Saved a few things. Found books I thought I'd lost.

I should probably have vacuumed, too, but--to quote Clint Eastwood in Two Mules for Sister Sarah--"I ain't got time for that!"

So, 3200 words added. It's up to 41 pages single-spaced. In 4 days. Blows my mind. When it goes, it just goes, baby.

And now, it's SO time for bed.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bizarro Sidebar:

Okay, my picks are weird this week. Bizarro. I'll try to explain, but some of them...simply cannot be understood.

Buffalo over Miami [I dunno. it could happen.]
Carolina over Minnesota
Cincinnati over Cleveland
Chicago over Detroit [it's weird, picking Da Bears, ain't it?]
Indianapolis over Houston
New Orleans over Green Bay [what can I say? my northern boys got killed]
Philly over Giants [God, this'll be a great game, though!]
Baltimore over Oakland [heh, I'd pick anyone over Oakland]
Atlanta over Tampa Bay
Seattle over Arizona
St. Louis over San Fran [guh, I hate St. Louis, but I do think they'll win]
KC over Denver [duh, no brainer]
Jets over New England [hey, it could happen...couldn't it?]
San Diego over Tennessee [O.o...no idea]
Washington over Dallas [don't ask, please]
Jacksonville over Pittsburgh [no, I don't really want to get any of these right]

So you can all feel free to point and laugh at me Tuesday morning when I've only gotten like one right. Heh.

Dear Charlie:

My new favorite threat:

If you break her heart, I will rip yours out and feed it to my children.

That's the good stuff, there. Dunno where it came from, but I think I'll keep it. It's Old Skool. And it fits right into the story that is currently proceeding at light speed.

Got sent home from work again today after lunch. I was queasy but okay until I ate a sandwich. I hadn't had anything but chicken broth since Tuesday evening, and it smelled really good and tasted pretty good, too. But it didn't settle well.

At all.

I didn't quite throw it up, but apparently all possible color fell out of my face as I ran for the bathroom. So when I came back, I agreed that I should probably go home and rest a bit. I absolutely will not miss tomorrow or come home sick, though.

I will not.

I can make it through 9 measly hours tomorrow with the promise of two full days of recuperation this weekend. A little stomach flu -- and I'm now sadly convinced that this is no passing food disagreement -- shouldn't keep me down for too long. Dammit.

Plus, I have the current work in progress to take my mind off of it while I'm at home. Work is a little less consuming, unfortunately, but it still passes the time. Between the two, maybe I'll survive without wretching continually.

*crosses fingers*

[EDIT: Only 2500 words tonight, but I spent a good chunk of the early afternoon on the phone with my beloved sister -- never wasted time -- and then spent another good chunk reading a great article by literary agent Rachel Vater on the writing of a catchy query. Good advice, that. I read it twice, then spent another good hour chafing, pouring over the first few pages of the WiP, and hoping I hadn't done any of the cliche crap she warns against. Now, it's off to bed early again. I need the sleep!]

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sidebar:

The plus side of being pukey sick?

8500 words today. Yup. 16 pages, give or take, single-spaced. The Muse has officially shat upon my head.

Now, I'm going to bed. Yes, at 8:40. I feel like death placed near a stove, rather than actually warmed over. I should go to work tomorrow. I probably will go to work tomorrow. But I won't feel like it.

I'm just sayin.

Oh, and I did finally sip some chicken broth. So far, so good. My stomach hasn't exactly accepted the offering, but it hasn't quite rejected it, either. We'll see how it goes.

Dear Charlie:

There are few things worse than being pukey sick, in my humble opinion. Nothing makes you feel better but puking, but puking coincidentally also makes you feel worse.

Ever puked until you feel like you sprung a rib in your back? Yeah.

So, home today. Normally, I would be pleased. Not so much at the moment. The toilet is still frigged up, as is the bathroom sink--they're right next to each other, so if one's frigged up, they're both frigged up--so I've been chucking into...you guessed it...the kitchen sink.

See, it's not so much that I'm puking so frequently. There have only been three separate instances.

And if I'm just puking because I had too much to drink--gosh, it's been eons since that happened last--it's just chuck and it's over.

But this...when I'm puking because I'm sick...it's like it never ends. Throw up...retch...throw up a little more...dry heave...dry heave...dry heave...dry heave...all for a good ten minutes without let-up. Then, I'm okay for a few hours. Rinse. Repeat.

Needless to say, I'm afraid to eat anything. So I'm writing. Woot!

My poor sink. I'm gonna have to take bleach and an SOS pad to it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Hilarious Sidebar:

This cracks me right the hell up. I've been looking for it for YEARS. I shoulda known Albino Blacksheep would come through for me!

Bwahahahah!

Of course, it's not quite as funny if you don't remember Mambo No. 5 from back in the '90s. Heh. *sheepish*

Sidebar:

GAH!! Why was there no penalty on that play?? Trent Green slid feet-first and got tagged...HARD...anyway! Penalty flag, anyone??

That guy better get fined! A lot!

Okay, so now that THAT'S over....

My poor boys looked pitifully outgunned out there. Admittedly, Cincinnati is better than it's been in thirty...or is it forty?...years, but that's no excuse. The offensive line is more porous than it's been since Grbac was leading the line.

So yeah, the season opener looked...a little shaky. We have the third hardest schedule in the NFL this year. We cannot afford to lose Trent Green if we even want to break 8-8 on the season.

My poor, poor boys. I love 'em anyway.

Go Chiefs!

We'll just call this one a rebuilding year, what with the new coach and new offensive coordinator, and we'll chalk today's Charlie Foxtrot up to new stuff and a killer opponent. To give the Bengals their due, they do earn that title. I've always had a soft spot for that team, even when they blew goats for so long.

How can you not love a team with such awesome helmets??

Anyway, we did have more first downs, though we didn't seem to do much with them. And correct me if I'm wrong, but were there any penalties in the game? On either side? Isn't that bizarre??*

We even held the ball longer by a good three minutes and gained more yardage. But we had an interception and four -- count 'em, FOUR -- fumbles. If we can't hold onto the ball, all the time of possession and yardage gained don't mean squat.

And we've got to get our running back some running room. Poor Mr. Johnson can't do it all by himself, and we simply won't win a game if he doesn't go over 100 yards on the day. It can happen, but it won't. Our receiver corps isn't that deep. Our tight end can't make all the plays...can he? Go Tony!!

Oh, yeah. And we absolutely CANNOT miss field goals, dammit!!

>.<

Although, to give Tynes credit, it was a 51-yarder. But he's made those in the past! Darn it!

But the defense seems to have stepped up in the second half. Two field goals allowed isn't as bad as aaaaallll those points in the first half. *facepalm* It has, however, been a while since I was able to say that our defense outplayed our offense. Surely, that's a good sign if our offense steps back up, right?

Right??

*[EDIT: I guess there were penalties after all, looking at the gamebook. I suppose that whole "there shoulda been a penalty THERE" thing threw off my penalty-detecting chi. Or something. I still cannot believe the refs didn't penalize the hell out of Geathers for that hit! I mean, not only is it a no-no to hit a quarterback who's sliding feet first, but it's a DOUBLE no-no to head-to-head him! Geez, mon!]

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Watching Never Been Kissed.

I've watched it several times. Sometimes I just watch it for the music, which is a fun blend of new and old. Other times, I watch it for the comedy and because Drew Barrymore plays such an adorable clutz.

And other times, I watch it to remember how intentionally cruel people can be to each other and how hard it is to change your circumstances, even when you want to more than anything.

There are so many different levels that are often missed in this flick. A "coming of age" story about ten years too late. The "making of the career" flick where the main character has to put her entire job at stake in an all-or-nothing bid to be who he/she wants to be. There's the piquant reminder of how much we are our pasts. There's the "not another teen" movie. There's a satire on how important it is to fit in, to follow the crowd, to be popular, and an intriguing (and utterly true) theory on how to become popular at the drop of a hat...and a reminder of why none of that is as important as being a good person.

But under it all is Josie Gellar, a cast-off from the Island of Misfit Toys. She's never really fit into her own skin, which means she's never fit into anyplace she's ever been. "A geek to the core," as she calls herself, she is the butt of every joke. She was literally tortured in high school in the '80s -- tortured to the point of post-traumatic stress disorder, I'd think.

One such prank involved the most popular guy in school (with whom she was hopelessly and uselessly in love) inviting her to the prom, only to swing by her parents' house in a limo with a blonde bombshell at his hip and sling eggs at her in her pretty, sparkly, pink prom dress. He throws them hard enough to hurt physically and pegs her in the face...but the emotional injuries are far worse. She'd been handed the world on a platter, only to realize as she took a big, hearty bite that someone had replaced the creamy filling with maggots and broken glass.

When she collapses to the steps in sobs, you feel her pain. And when she runs away so her concerned mother won't see her in disgrace, it's just the rotten icing on the curdled cake.

This is her past.

Her present is a confusing mix of success and failure. She's the youngest copy editor for the Chicago Tribune, but she has absolutely no social life. She spends her evenings stitching throw pillows. She has her own place and her own car and her career...but she secretly wants more. She wants a life.

So when the Big Guy accidently shoves her into her first undercover reporter assignment, she gets shuttled back into high school, back into the nightmare world that she'd only narrowly escaped so many years before. And it's the same-old same-old.

At first.

She tries so hard. The pranks aren't nearly as personal this time around, but meanness still abounds. The current geek-o-the-week quickly befriends her and she manages to find her own little click, but her boss reminds her that she's not there for her; she's there for her job. In other words, quit screwing around and find something compelling and preferably dirty to write about, dammit!

And with all of this hanging over her head, she very nearly breaks down. It's high school all over again, literally, and she hasn't learned a damn thing. Even when she thinks she's made a breakthrough, it's just a mirage and she becomes the butt of an even bigger joke. She ends up sobbing in a high school toilet stall, remembering the fateful prom night from long ago.

Enter: her ever-popular brother, posing as another student. His role isn't as important as his influence. Because he is so laid-back and fun, he's instantly popular, and he starts sowing mistruths and outright lies about her past that inch her up the coolness ladder until the current Coolest Guy in School finally takes interest. Josie Gellar finally makes it.

And then he asks her to the prom. It's both a dream come true and a nightmare in slo-mo.

It's a great insight into Josie's character that she still has hope. That after all she's been through, she still has the bright-eyed innocence to accept his offer with alacrity and thank him for the honor. It's sad...but it's also sweet. It's Josie.

There's a lot more to the story, of course. I could go into an in-depth essay on how our society's insistence on children not feeling disappointment or failure has toned down "pranks" from outright torture like Josie's first prom night to bare insults and hatefulness. From outright abuse to lukewarm outcasting.

I could point out that her innate sweet nature and her desperate and heartfelt attempts to make popular friends in addition to the few good ones bring everyone around her to a better understanding of her inner strength. When they start recording her every move, a crowd starts to gather. Each new day brings more new faces to the crowd until the entire staff of the Trib is rooting for her to finally break through and be happy.

Oh, yeah. And there's a love story, too...though not with the Current Coolest Guy in School. Heh. It's a very nice little love story, subtle and nuanced. It sets up some of the most obvious audience manipulation I've ever seen, but you still root for her for all of that. You want her to be happy. You want all of her suffering, all of her loss, all of her "real" education to mean something. To come to good.

Because she is good.

By the end of the movie, she is sure of herself. She knows who she is, and she can finally get what she wants...except perhaps the man she loves, to whom she's had to lie about being a student. But the difference between the fade-into-the-wall Josie at the beginning and the savvy business-woman with a deal at the end is astonishing...and it's the point of the movie.

A lot of people missed that, apparently.

No, it's not the best movie in the world, but it is entertaining on more than one level. There's genuine sorrow in some of her words, but there exists also that light, that hope, that sparkle. It grows. It affects others. It brings people to her side, even when she ceases to be the person her brother invented and becomes herself.

Even the Heartless Wonder here can appreciate that.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dear Charlie:

In response to Paperback Writer's wonderful eBook challenge, I'm offering a free eBook written by Yours Truly for everyone's reading pleasure. I hope...heh....

The link is over there in the sidebar under the "Free E-book!" header. Click away, my friends!

It's in .pdf form, so hopefully everyone can get it. If not, leave a comment requesting a different format and I'll see what I can do.

Be warned: this is a dark satire. There's more than just snark in them there hills. Just FYI, ya know.

Have fun! And leave a comment on what you think. Good? Bad? Ugly? I take it all, folks.

Heh.


The Office Mercenary, © copyright Molly Burkhart, 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Marvelous Sidebar:

Barbara is a fade-away Every Woman. David is a paid sex god. She has no confidence in her ability to attract a man's attention enough for satisfying sex. He has no doubt in his ability to make any woman come until she cries. She has fantasies of being carelessly sexy with a modern-day Gregory Peck cowboy. He has...the crappiest Western drawl in the known world.

But somehow, they meet in the same place at the same time with the same goal -- a good, solid fuck.

The true beauty of Anna Black's "The Cowboy and the Schoolmarm" is its simplicity. The set-up is pristine -- a loveless woman nearing middle age has suffered a very short string of unsatisfactory sexual experiences, so she hires a jigolo to give her one good fantasy to live with. Straight to the point.

That's where it gets fun.

David is good-natured and cocksure -- no pun intended. Barbara is increasingly sure that this is a mistake. Witty banter ensues. Yes, humor -- the ultimate aphrodisiac, at least in my humble opinion.

But the sex that almost miraculously happens is anything but funny. Both get far more than she paid for. Heh.

Anyway, I don't read much erotica, but I've long since read anything the lovely and talented Anna Black writes. Why? Because unlike 98% of the erotica on the market, hers has heart. I care about her characters. I believe in their situations. They are real. I want them to get jiggy with it, of course -- that's the whole point of erotica, after all -- but I want them to be happy with it, too. That whole "having the cake and eating it" thing...both for them and for me.

So yes, even if you only buy the anthology for Anna's fabulous story, you'll get your money's worth. I only read one other story in there. It was a good read, too, of course, but Anna's was better. I'd bet dollars to pesos that it's the best in the whole book.

And I'd win.

Anna, my dear, ya done gone and did good.

If you don't believe me, check out Sis's review. She says it all, man.

Happy Sidebar:

I was watching Bob Ross at my beloved sister's house yesterday. We both remember growing up with his soothing tones and happy trees and putty knife painting techniques that left us stunned and amazed. We smile to remember his happy accidents and his wisdom of courage.

The man could have a heart-breakingly beautiful landscape on the canvas, and then smile and draw a big black line right down the middle. You'd cry out, thinking that he'd ruined a perfectly beautiful painting, and then he'd work his putty knife magic and it would be the most beautiful dead tree ever created, and you'd bite your tongue and wish you had the courage to screw up your best work to make it better.

Love that guy.

But he certainly came to mind a little bit ago when I went to make some homemade egg noodles for some chicken soup...and realized that the whole bag of flour I'd noticed in the freezer the last time I looked was...whole wheat flour.

*facepalm*

Well, sometimes you just really really want what you want, ya know? So I took it down, opened it up, and made homemade all-wheat egg noodles. And you know what?

They're WONDERFUL.

A happy accident. Thank you, Bob Ross. Rest in peace, man.