I am not dead.

There was some germy business, and some apathy business, and perhaps a schedule to rival that of a Hallyu start brought me right to the precipice, but NOT DEAD.

Hopefully, more later, if I can get myself motivated enough.

Anybody notice how little writing I've got going on, lately?

The last line I wrote in The Book is:

"Drew surprises me."

And even though it's only about 55 pages in, and i know how things proceed, what happens, and the whereto's and whyfore's I cannot for the life of me WANT to write anything more.

Send . . . encouragement?

Pretty Maids Tied in a Bow*

Besides having posted three very pretty boys in the post below (let's all take a moment to swoon, shall we?), today I'd like to rant discuss what I think of as "The Rushed Conclusion", or more informally, "What the hell? Twenty hours of build-up for ten minutes of Happily Ever After? The Asymmetry!"

I think it's safe to blog that I am a really big anti-fan of things being too neat. This applies to stories as well. I want things to feel complete, sure, but is perfection the only kind of completion to chase after? I cry foul. If everything ends up with every little loose end tucked safely back into the rope, how has anything really changed or grown from the beginning of the story to the end?

Lately my beef with this sort of thing has been grilled by the Korean dramas I am still, yes, addicted to (moving on, now). Each one has been between 16 to 25 hour-long episodes, during which there's a pretty good pace and the story arc is well developed . . . until one gets to the last episode or two, wherein they often try too hard to make everything seem impossible to overcome or survive the Bad Situation in the current drama, and then, at  the last possible scene everything works out so that everyone gets exactly what they want. This usually takes five to ten minutes.

Ever read a book like that?  Where, yes, all the questions are answered and all the problems solved, but it's like on the second half of the last page? And how annoying is that? Even though everything ends up resolved, it doesn't feel like it, and you come away having this weird kind of niggling in the back of your mind that you've forgotten something, even though you haven't. It IS annoying.

So, my advice, as a consumer of stories, is this: Don't just worry about tying up loose bits at the end. That won't cut it with most of us. You've got to make us work for it.

*A version The Eagles didn't release, as opposed to Pretty Maids All in a Row, which is my favorite Eagles tune.

If my keyboard was equipped to post this in the Korean alphabet, I'd do it.

So, yes, it's after midnight, and I have a glaring headache and a stubborn streak about going to bed any time soon. Might as well blog, yes?

Lately, I've fallen victim to my MISH! and her diabolical plan to never see me finish editing a novel because her latest move involved something called Kdramas. For the uninitiated, these are quirky/fairly innocent nighttime soap operas from Korea. With subtitles. And boy howdy are they addictive. The teenager in me fangasms like mad about them. My husband may have lost all respect for me, because yeah, okay, there is definitely a common thread of hokiness in all of them, even the vigilante revenge one, but COME ON. He knows my biggest time-sucking weakness (and he's strangely encouraging about it ???), and I present the following into evidence.

Kim Hyun Joong, possibly the prettiest male smiler ever.


Lee Min Ho
Lee Min Ho, who has unfairly long legs.
And finally, the ridiculously beautiful Jang Geun Suk

Apparently, Korea is churning out some seriously pretty Pretty Boys, AKA that aforementioned weakness of mine. In my defense, though, while I might have begun watching because of the scenery, I kept watching because I became more and more interested in the cultural differences. For instance, I've begun learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet, and wonder if I might some day learn to speak Korean. It's so lyrical. So far, the lessons are going well, even if I'm a little apprehensive about getting into the grammar, because I have English grammar so very deeply ingrained in my knowledge banks. Still, it's been kind of fun! I love language, and I like studying things independently, so . . .

I also determined to mutually get healthier and my sexy back, so I've been working out between 30 minutes and an hour every day, mostly weight and resistance training, but as much as I hate running/cardio, I've even worked in some of that every day. You would not believe how pumped you can get just playing Star Wars Kinect Galaxy Dance off. Guys, I have actual biceps at this point! They're still small, but they're there! Husband and I have a weekend away coming up, and I plan to turn some heads for all the right reasons.

There you have it; what I've been doing instead of editing as much as I should. Summer's coming up soon, so after a week or so readjusting for that schedule, I should get a lot more writing time in, even while nursing my Kdrama affliction.

*sigh* And now I'm finally tired. head's still roaring dully, but I think I can fall asleep. 

Night, guys. Stay safe.

By the Light of the Moon

If you don't know this already, I am a Reader. In the bedroom I share with my husband, approximately one quarter of the all wall space is covered with stacks of books, no bookshelves. In general, I can pound out reading a 400 page novel in about 16 hours (though often I "pace" myself and stick to a couple of days). I love reading, and I am damned good at it.

Another thing you might not know, my eldest son, of whom I am SO PROUD NO MATTER WHAT, has always had a tough time with reading. Long story short, his kindergarten teacher was an easy mark and didn't insist he actually learn much before she passed him, and because he didn't do as well as other children, he truly believed he couldn't read. Another kink, the kid is both seriously smart, and seriously stubborn, which means he loves learning, but only what he's interested in.

It took years to get things sorted, give Eldest the confidence to try a littler harder, to make up for missed progress. A took holding him back a year, to let him gain the maturity to have some belief in himself. It took at least two to three hours of teeth-gritting homework on mine and Husband's parts, because Eldest would have a tear-filled, self-loathing melt-down because he was convinced he was stupid. He hated reading more than anything. We tried books about things that do interest him, like science. We tried reading to him, and asking him to read to us. We tried talking to a shrink. We tried everything we could think of in the realms of tough love and positive reinforcement. Guys, it was an every single day heartbreak, and it was probably made worse by how well the middle brother reads and loves school, and how much I love to read. I imagine he compared himself to us and despaired. We told him over and over that everyone is better at some subjects than other; that I suck like no one's business at math, that Middle son doesn't have a lick of common sense, that the Daddy Man lacks creativity. We said, "It's okay if you don't like reading as much as we do; that's cool. You just have to have the skills, so you can learn more about what you DO love." He said he believed us, but I'm not sure.

By the beginning to middle of this year, he was reading at levels three grades higher than the grade he's in. Even taking a year away for the held-back year, that's two grades above his age. He still didn't much care for reading, but he could do it, and he knew he was better than average at it. You just don't know, people, how relieved we all were. Oh, he was still stubborn, still independent, even a little dismissive of subjects he didn't want to learn, but he learned them, albeit with little interest. And he hates history and science chapter reviews. That's fine. He can hate the reviews all he likes.

But you guys . . . YOU GUYS, LISTEN.

The other night I had to get onto him for not going to sleep at bed time. I actually went in to the room to tell him to turn off his light, thinking he'd left it on as a night light. But no; He was still wearing his glasses, and just as I came in I detected the tell-tale crackle of paper being quashed under a blanket.

He'd been sneak-reading A REAL BOOK UNDER HIS COVERS. GUYS! READING FOR PLEASURE! MY ELDEST "HATES READING" SON!!!! Do you understand the words coming out of my monitor right now?

I calmly told him to put away the book (a Percy Jackson novel, in case you wondered), turn of his light, and go to sleep . . . and then I promptly closed the door, tip-toed back to the living room where Husband and I had been movie watching, and did what is likely the dorkiest-looking HAPPY DANCE in known history. Husband and I grinned at each other like idiots for five solid minutes.

So, dear teachers who have believe in Eldest, dear husband who helped weather that storm, and for goodness' sake, dear Rick Riordan, THANK YOU.

Personal Note: While I was always an awesomely capable reader in school, I didn't actually come to LOVE reading until I was eleven years old. The first book that really sucked me in was a Babysitter's Club book, something about a summer vacation. After that, I read like a maniac, first every BC book our library had, and then I branched out all over the place. Guess how old Eldest just turned? Yup. Eleven. *beams*

What My Traffic Guards Have Taught Me About Stories

You may think, "Wait, what? Traffic guards, as in those people who stand at four-ways and crosswalks directing cars and kids just before and after school hours?"

Yes. Them.  We have two at my sons' elementary school.

First off, on the corner before one gets to the actual entrance of the school, there is a Grumpy Old Man. He is such a very clearly Grumpy Old Man he deserves caps to express his grumpy old man-ness. He's new this year. I don't like him. I want our scrawny, ball-cap-wearing, three-packs-a-day-smoking guy from last year back. He understood my blasting "We Will Rock You" from my windows as I drove by on Fridays was a sacred thing between myself and sons, and he realized it is totally cool to enjoy a rousing play of "Low Rider" in  a minivan that seats seven. Also, he knew what the hell he was doing.

Not the case with Grumpy Old Man. GrOM, for lack of a more sensitive way of saying it, is not only grumpy, but he is wibbly-wobbly without the timey-wimey fun. Now, to be fair, I suspect judging solely on his physique he's recently gone through a necessary and rapidly successful gastric bypass surgery. In other words, I think he's lost quite a lot of weight in a short amount of time, and much of his skin just hasn't enough wibbly-wobbly to catch up, yet. Meanwhile, he cannot direct traffic. Not because of his body, but because he can't seem to get the concept of, "You point in the direction you WANT the cars TO GO." Instead he does a sort of hoppy, skippy, jig step, points in three directions, whistles out his lungs, and tries to glare the oncoming cars and their drivers into submission. We're never sure where he's going with this, and I think we're all just profusely hoping the damage will be minimal when we all pile up because of him.

If GrOM where telling a story, he'd tell it in stops and sprints, all out of order, and with a bullying tendency to beat the reader over the head with plot points. I wouldn't like that story much, would you?

Meanwhile, our other traffic guard is a spry-if-plump older lady who looks like she could eat the Big Bad Wolf for breakfast, until she smiles and then you realize she's just a granny and cookies appear out of nowhere. She stands right in the point of a T where the lines meet, regulating cars coming from the street in front of the school onto the road that winds up into the Car Line (where you drop off and pick up your kids, FYI), and back onto the front street from the Car Line. It takes a bit of finessing the pace. How many cars to let in before you stop them so other cars can get out? What if a car comes from, or needs to go in a different direction? Don't you worry, she's got it. Her movements are precise, distinct, clear. Let in X# of cars, raise hand to indicate stop. Pause to step back two steps, motion for current number of cars in Car Line to exit. Repeat as necessary. Make calculated adjustments for cars coming from the left-hand side of the road (almost all of us come from the right), and for cars wishing to exit right from the Car Line. If the cars were scenes, excepting the "adjustments" cars, which we'll consider plots twists, Spry Granny controls the pace with grace. Scenes flow by smoothly, twists are not slammed into the traffic, but gently, stealthily maneuvered in, and all of it with a stony expression that becomes a sincerely warm smile in the flick of a reflective-striped wrist.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be a Spry Granny writer than GrOM.

Personal Note: My cat is named Fable. He thinks he is a dog, or maybe an owlet, and despite his feline anatomy, he loves baths. He seriously tries to sneak into the tub while the boys bathe, and when I take off his collar he KNOWS he's about to get a bath, so he starts mewing at me excitedly.

Incarnate Treasure Hunt Pimpage

You would have SO MUCH FUN doing this, the winning of bookish prizes would just be icing on the cake . . . creamy, dreamy, extra-scream-y icing.

Ten pages in which to fall in love.

"Courage does not always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." - Mary Anne Radmacher.

You want a great reminder of this sentiment? Read about Eeyore. Yes, he's often portrayed as the storm-cloud cynic of the group, and I suppose when one compares him to a simple bear like Pooh, or a bouncy Tigger, or even a small pig who refuses to give up hope in things, yes, Eeyore certainly seems the pessimist of the group. Except . . . for all his misgivings about the present--lost tail, demolished house, people forgetting his birthday--he never seems to resent his hardships, and furthermore, he doesn't carry his troubles with him into the future. Every day is a new day for Eeyore. His courage stems from waking every morning undefeated, no matted what the day before held (or didn't hold) for him. That's my favorite thing about Eeyore; that and his AWESOME taste in skyscapes.

So, the ten pages? I have to write/edit/adapt them in the next sixty hours or so, and my courage will have to come into play as a person who's pretty sure these pages will fall far short of her hope for them, but is willing to take a stab at it, anyway. Besides, if they're awful to begin with, I can only make them better, right?  And added to my quiet courage voice, I've got wingwomen to adventure along with me, as I will with them. How can I fail with WINGWOMEN?

Ten pages, ten pages I'll write in the next sixty hours, that--when read--soften the reader's heart toward a certain boy, because they see how soft his heart has become regarding a certain girl. There will be star-gazing, Shakespeare references, sharing of sanctuaries, and most of all, falling a little further in love.

Personal Note: The weather here in The Deep South has been rather warm and humid of late. Know why? Because all of the cold in IN. MY. BOOOOOOOOOOOOONEEEEEEEES!  Seriously, it's seventy degrees, but I've been cold for two days straight.

Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge

First off, get thee hence to Fake Plastic Souks and read Alexander McNabb's newest post, titled "How to Write  a Book", in which he managed to make a very long, complicated process seem rather simple, if one is just willing to devote themselves to observing what I think of as "the in between times".

Also, he gives you lots of terms to Google. Honestly, in some ways it's like a freaking college course syllabus.

Also, also? I have no idea what a is a souk. I'll have to Google it.

Now, onto my own post. Things are occurring 'round here. Helpful, YAY! sorts of things. Some of them are helping in The Lifting of the Spirits, while others are helpful in the Getting Done of Stuff Put Off For Far Too Long.  I know, I know, all vague and completely not truly informative, but sometimes that what you get.

One thing I'll mention is this . . . well, actually, come to think, it's more akin to two things, but anyway! Last week, Amazing (husband) and I spent a painful amount of time cleaning out and reorganizing our bedroom and closet. I'm surprised we didn't get adopted by some the Gorgs due to our massively impressive, possibly sentient Trash Heap collected afterward. In the ensuing pushing and pulling of What Was Left, I ended up with a very charming new little writing nook. Wall-o-Books to one side, lamp to the other, cushy stool to sit on, and the bed about two and a half feet behind. Very nook-ish, which is great because I'm not that much a fan of wide open spaces. I like cubbies.

Also included in What Was Left were about three full Early Drafts of The Novel; big, inflated versions no one should ever see, and which I cut to ribbons several times. Guess what? If you go back and scratch out, or find the matching file and strike out or delete all the stuff you've adapted or used elsewhere, it's kind of easy to find those one-liner gems, or that particularly fine turn of phrase you hated to see go, but which you couldn't justify keeping, and sometimes, they're perfect for adding  something your current draft lacks. (*pant, pant*--long sentence!)

See, your mom was right. Keeping your room clean is all kinds of helpful.

Personal Note: The Gunstringer hates me.