March 31, 2003
Writing Journal

So, I keep a journal with Weight Watchers for weight loss. I figure I'll keep a nightly journal for writing. Maybe it'll help me focus on it again by trying to keep track of crits, words, and revs.

During Ambercon:

Critiques: 1
Words: 1600 (chapter 2 of Dreamwalker)

Today:

Nothing (I'm BEAT!)

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:10 PM
March 24, 2003
Book Review -- Warchild

Warchild
by Karin Lowachee
Aspect, April 2002

Wow. Okay, let me say that again. Wow.

I picked this book up in part because she's an OWW graduate. And I'd heard some really good things about it. So I started getting curious and decided I'd give it a whirl. And I'm damn glad I did.

I stayed up way too late last night because I hit the point of no return and then I still had to put it down because I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Then I was almost late this morning because I picked it up while getting read. I tucked it into my bag and during lunch break at work (which it turned out later I shouldn't have taken because Ry got sick... again...) I ran outside and enjoyed the spring air as I gobbled down the ending.

Wow.

Karin Lowachee has an interesting style. The first part is in second person -- it is difficult to read because we're just not used to seeing it. But it was intriguing the way it was presented, and I was sure it was done for a reason. Which I did figure out later.

After the first part it snaps into first person past, and then later, it switches to present tense. All the tense changes have a definite meaning, and show the story in a very different light.

The story revolves around Jos Musey, a boy whose world is destroyed when his ship is raided by pirates when he is 8, and his parents are killed. He is taken by one of the pirates, and then escapes with the alien enemy. His loyalties shift and change as he grows through learning what is right and what is wrong. The tense changes and vague descriptions show how even in first person, the main character can hide the details from himself.

This isn't an easy book to read. Jos's life is harsh, and Karin doesn't flinch from it. Rather, Jos himself ducks away from what has happened to him, couching it only in the vaguest of terms, but clearly enough that *I* knew what had happened even though he hadn't said it. Even though, in fact, he had flatly denied what others knew to be true. I thought this to be remarkably well done, showing how a person can psychologically skitter away mentally from things that they simply do not wish to remember or believe. And this was when I realized how wonderful the opening with the second person was, distancing himself from the memory and placing someone else in it, yet making them feel it. Wonderful.

The book doesn't end, yet it completes itself. It comes to a place of both beginning and closure, where the relationships are still just as tangled, and in many ways, Jos is still confused. I would love to see another book about Jos and the Warboy as they build forward into the new world that they have worked to create.

As for the rest of you, go buy this book!! And if you are nominating/voting for Hugos & the Campbell, remember her name. I know I will!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:31 PM
March 21, 2003
Metamorphosis Denied

Just got the email... Metamorphosis was rejected by the anthology I sent it to. *sighs* That's a story that'll get trunked. There are few enough places looking for sf gay male erotica. There are even fewer places that like the same but with dark elements and not exactly a happy ending.

*sighs* Pity, I rather like the way the story came out. Ah well.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:57 PM
March 20, 2003
News Overload

On my way into the office just about everyone I passed who had a radio or TV was listening to news reports about Iraq. I was on news overload last night when Kev had to watch it as it happened (until it put him to sleep). I was wondering if there would be any place to escape... any way to get a break and stick my head in the sand. It's not that I want to be ignorant. But that right now, I am so stressed that in some ways I *have* to be ignorant in order to survive. I need to be able to focus on the here and now because life goes on and I can't let it take over my life. Or else I will spend all my time being afraid of what retribution we might feel here on homeland soil. I can't worry about how it is going to change my life. I need to live my life.

Then I walked into our break room to put together my breakfast. It was silent. Oddly silent. And I looked up.

The TV that spends all day on some channel or other telling us about the stock market was gone. Simply plucked from its shelf and the space left bare.

I wonder if that was done so that we didn't have to listen to the news all day. Or so that people didn't get war obsessed and spend all day watching it unfold.

Whatever reason, I am grateful. There is a small place of peace in this building, of silence. And I like it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:37 AM
March 19, 2003
Bubble YUM!

There is no bubblegum quite like BubbleYum. I am SO glad to find that they have a sugarfree version. Talk about a stress help!!! Must go get many many packs...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:32 PM
Out of the Sandbox

With eBear's help, I've got my unofficial play outside of the sandbox challenge (I was having trouble identifying my sandbox... so I had to beg for help).

Write an SF story with a *straight* male protagonist.

The wheels are turning as my brain tries frantically to find a personality with a story to tell. Then it'll be up to me to find the time to write it in amongst all the other stuff I don't have time for. *smiles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:57 AM
Ain't it always the way?

So work's been like having five screaming babies and only being able to pick up one so the other four just scream louder. So I decided that yesterday I would pick up the documentation screaming baby, and today that one has to just scream while I pick up the get ready for John's arrival screaming baby and the Institutional Reporting screaming baby.

And as I sit here, trying to figure out exactly where to get started, I find myself suddenly wanting to do documentation. Despite the fact that all day yesterday I hated doing it.

Isn't it amazing how the psyche works? No matter how much I hate doing something, it is always more attractive than the things I *have* to spend the day doing. *laughs*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:58 AM
March 18, 2003
Short Break

Took a nice, short break today. Walked down to Subway and took a folder with some work to crit in it. Had a sub, some baked chips, and relaxed while finishing up the one crit I was working on, and then doing the next chapter of that same novel. Well, doing the second passes. I still have the third to go when I type them up tonight.

Critting is time intensive, but strangely relaxing. I do three passes for each story/chapter. On the first I just read, and circle anything that jumps out at me as either REALLY noticably good or bad. Second read is deeper and MUCH slower -- doing recommendations and more in depth comments on character or flow. Third pass is when I go into the version I saved and start quoting and typing up my comments and trying to put my scattered thoughts into vocabulary that makes sense, gets the point across, and is still somehow tactful (and we all know tact is SO much my strong suit, right? *laughs*). In the end, it seems to work.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 01:32 PM
March 17, 2003
Pleasant Snack

Okay, it's 3pm and I'm having distinct trouble staying awake this afternoon. Documentation is BORING. And I just had a pleasant little snack -- 1 envelope Hershey's Cocoa Collection Fat-Free French Vanilla and 2 Grandma's Guilt-Free Vanilla Walnut cookies for dipping. 2 points and TOTAL yum. So I'm toasty warm from the hot cocoa, full, and have had chocolate and sweet. No wonder I want to take a nap!!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:57 PM
Weigh In!

Lost 3 pounds this week!! Woohoo!!

I'll start adding the exercise in slowly. Hopefully going to make it out for a walk this afternoon. It is supposed to be GORGEOUS out today.

Now if only I can stay awake all day I'll be doing well. I'm exhausted for some reason this morning.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:20 AM
March 16, 2003
The Ring

I would've marked this a movie review, but to be perfectly honest, it's more like a movie ramble. Because I don't want to do spoilers.

This movie is DISTURBING. There is no other word for it. I stood up and just shivered. And shivered again. I walked a few steps into the kitchen, starting to get ready for bed, and I shivered again.

I commented in the middle that this movie had the sheer creepiness factor that Blair Witch wanted to have. But didn't. I didn't like Blair Witch. This, I loved. Which is good, since I bought the DVD.

Damn.

I think it's a damned good thing we didn't watch it last night. We all woulda slept much worse. I have to go get sleep now. Hah! I think I need to spend some winding down time first.

*shivers* *shakes head* Damn.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:40 PM
March 14, 2003
It's always fascinating

I always find it fascinating when I'm trying to puzzle through something in a piece of writing and suddenly the character says something I just wasn't prepared for. I'm mentally trying to fit together the next few scenes for Dreamwalker so I can write chapter two (and pray it lives up to Chapter 1's reviews) and suddenly I hear in my head that Traci's getting a visitor named Shane. And she's like yeah, Shane's coming, like it means something, and I'm going who the hell is Shane??

Characters are talking to me. I'm... scared... almost. It hasn't been this real, this vivid, in so long. And I'm sort of expecting it to be taken away again without warning. I don't know why I'm this lucky right now. I don't know why Dreamwalker is working. But it is. The compliments I've received are heady scary stuff. Because now I have to keep it up and continue the good work. I might actually have something here. And I'm not sure I know what to do with it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:02 AM
Sweet & Sour Pork Loin (Crockpot)

Okay, so I was experimenting yesterday. I had this pork loin (two, really, the other has yet to be cooked), and I needed to do something with it and I wanted it to be easy. So I made this up, and it was REALLY yummy. I had originally wanted to do pulled pork in barbecue sauce, but didn't have any barbecue sauce. And I didn't feel like adding brown sugar. So I based this off of a recipe for meatballs that used ketchup and beer, and went from there. I think next time I'll probably add bell peppers to it, and maybe a little bit of heat, too.

Oh, and I found that eating 1/3 of the pork, for 6 points, made me feel REALLY indulgent, and yet didn't break the bank. Which was way cool.

Sweet &Sour Pork (Crockpot)
6 servings
(WW estimated POINTS per serving = 3)

Ingredients

12 oz center loin pork, lean only
1 cup ketchup
1 can or bottle light beer
1 medium onion(s)
1 cup canned pineapple, packed in juice

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except pork in crockpot -- whisk to combine. Add pork. Cook on low all day.

This works really well served with 1c cooked soba noodles.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:57 AM
March 13, 2003
Junkyard Wars Quote

"Can I have some water?"
"How much?"
"Enough to put out a fire."
"Where do you want it?"
"On the flames."

Okay, it was enough to have us giggling mightily at the TV.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:48 PM
March 11, 2003
I guess it's productive

Well, let's see. Today I've answered a few emails (going to answer more). Wrote two crits. Joined a crit marathon to try and get myself to do one a day during the month of April (THAT is insane, I am sure, but well, if I fall behind, I've only myself to blame). Rejoined Weight Watchers and held to my points, even banking one for later (I never really use those banked points). I'm hoping to do some writing on Dreamwalker in a bit, because I'm not in the mood to do revision work on Grey. A part of me is thinking about doing some real serious revisions on how Grey works, how it is put together. Like shifting the scenes around entirely. I need to scope that out. Which means taking a night totally away from the TV and family and just escaping upstairs to DO it. It's the only way that'll get done is if I focus on nothing but.

Things started to shake out at work today... organizational announcements have been made to IT. The new Mgr of AppDev starts next Thursday, so one week for me to prepare, both the list of things to transfer to him and for me, mentally. It's already a rollercoaster ride. I find work very draining, but then again, it will pass. Life goes on. There's my mantra.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:51 PM
DIET

Okay, so it is official -- I am going back to Weight Watchers. I have hit my personal high in weight and that is simply BAD.

VERY BAD.

So I'm back on the diet, and praying I can obsess over it enough to make it work, despite the stress in my life which of course, makes me want to eat. Comfort food. *sighs* We'll see how it goes. I've laid in some good supplies and was good yesterday. With any luck I can continue that today and onwards.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:45 AM
March 10, 2003
Getting Behind

Well, this was one of those weekends where when I get back I'm totally behind in everything. I owe thank you letters for crits. I owe game moves (both running and playing). I owe crits. I owe myself some writing time (I was supposed to have finished the first chapter of Dreamwalker for posting and revising the 4th chapter of Grey for posting *sighs*).

To anyone I owe... I'm sorry. I'm working desperately towards getting there. Honest. To everyone else, I might be quiet for a bit. Gods, I so cannot wait until Ambercon.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:54 PM
Rejection

Well, Lamenita has racked up its first rejection. Time to go hunt down another market to try it out with.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:52 PM
March 06, 2003
Novel Madness

Well, I've decided to be really silly. I've got three slots on the workshop. Should I use all of them? Well, I suppose that's a matter for debate. I'm critiquing as fast as I bloody well can. But it's not like I'm a speed critter, so maybe I shouldn't be posting too fast. But then, I'm not a speed poster, either.

Right now, I'm using one slot for short stories. I've got the revs of Grey going up as well. And last night I started a new novel -- Dreamwalker -- which will be taking up the third slot. I think it's probably nuts to put up two different novels at once. But they are completely different styles, and I suspect they'll get very different readers. At least, I hope they will. It might split my crits. I honestly don't care. I'll just keep rotating through, and keep the synopses up to date, and it'll be okay. So it's insane, but I'm going to go for it. Hopefully it'll help keep me revved on writing Dreamwalker as well.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:42 PM
Blog Changes

Well, I've decided to make some changes to the website. Right now things are broken out in some ways that I'm not so thrilled about. I feel like I *should* keep the writing comments separate, but I think instead I'm going to bring the into this main blog. Keep gaming separate. And I'll develop a static page for writing, well, once I have more than one credit to list on it.

But I'm going to slowly consolidate the blogs. Move the recipes and the writing blather and all that into the one blog. Maybe even the basic gaming stuff. Although it may well not happen until after ACUS when hopefully I'll have a chance to work on it.

Of course, I'll have to figure out how to export and import in MoveableType so I can move archive entries around.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:34 PM
1st person and 3rd person

The difference between writing in first person and writing in third person is that in first person you have to put your main character through hell. In third person everyone gets to share the hell.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:01 PM
Fortune Cookie

I like to keep fortune cookie fortunes that entertain or amuse me with their aptness. Recently I got "You will take a chance on something in the near future." and it arrived the week I was finishing up "Metamorphosis" to send out. So I keep it taped to the inside of my laptop to remind me to take risks and send out my manuscripts and trust that maybe, just maybe, I really can write and there are editors out there who will think so too.

Another one I have kept is "You emerge victorious from the maze you've been traveling in."

I keep looking at that one today. It came at a time when things were coming together with the reorganization of AppDev and the hiring of the new manager and me hopefully moving into my new position as a Business Analyst and really being able to focus my priorities. The fortune has become a touchstone that that WILL happen. I WILL get out of the maze and find my way again.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:16 PM
One of Those Days

I think I need a category for RANT.

Y'all must be thinking I am an intensely negative person. I admit, I'm starting to FEEL like I'm an intensively negative person. It's all I talk about, all I can focus on. It seems like things are on such a downward spiral that I can't focus on the good things.

Today it is snowing -- blindingly -- outside my window. I hate the thought of driving home in it. Things have just been going wrong all day.

I walked in, already irritable about something which had come up last night. People trying to push a business process into IT where it doesn't belong. I needed to talk to Chad, and when I caught him, he agreed and was already working on it. There. I tried to release all that negative energy, let it go and come back up out of the hole I was sinking into. Afer all, things would be going right again, right?

Hah.

There were just problems after problems. Little things. Big things. And then the collossal thing that well, pretty much just ruined my reputation with anyone who matters at work. I overlooked a detail, made a big mistake, and people are mad. The error was fixed within 20 minutes of me knowing about it. That's not the issue. The issue is that it happened.

So I'm just feeling again like the world is sitting on me and not letting me breathe. I'm looking forward desperately to Ambercon, just because I get to get away. I need away right now. Hells, just staying home and writing all day and playing with my kids on a day when I didn't have any responsibility to the house either would be nice. *sighs*

Hmph, that reminds me. I should be looking for either a lift to ACUS or someone who needs a ride. One of these years I should start flying to the con. It'd be simpler in some ways.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:47 PM
March 05, 2003
Grandma's Guilt-Free Goodies

Yum.

Grandma's Guilt-Free goodies are low fat, low carb bakery items. There's this guy in NH that makes them, and they are sold through this store down in Massachusetts, right in my hometown. They've got a website (er, it's pink, but it's got the info anyway) -- http://www.guilt-free.com.

I was talking to my mom, and she says he does do mail order with UPS shipping. If you're looking for goodies and don't mind buying, take a look. Why do I recommend? Because these are the muffins I aspire to make. Only my chocolate ones will be much much chocolaty-er. More chocolaty. Something like that anyway.

I have this strange urge to bake muffins again tonight. Maybe I will.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:10 PM
March 04, 2003
Odd Place

I'm in kind of an odd place tonight. Mentally, emotionally. Not lost so much. Maybe. But still struggling.

Things keep changing. Y'know those tests that say "if you can answer more than X of these with a yes then you are a high stress risk candidate"? Well, we've got them. Death in the family, new kid, major change in job, moving... you name it, feels like we're seeing it.

Kevin's grandfather is having a hard time of it. He shouldn't be driving, but he won't give up his freedom. I'm going to end up yelling at him that I don't care if he kills himself if that's what he wants but remember that the person in the car he hits might be someone like US. Does he really want that? He's just not thinking. And it's so hard for him. It's hard to lose independance. I just can't imagine it. It terrifies me, really. We're trying so hard to find good options, something that he'll like and will give him a good place to be. And one minute he's happy and the next he's stubbornly digging his heels in.

But truth to tell, he can't take care of himself anymore. It's so hard to see it happening.

Then on my side, my grandmother is in rough shape. She has a blockage in the artery to her brain, and she forgets things. A lot. So she forgot to take her medicine and ended up in the hospital. I'm feeling really bad for her right now... she's having it even harder than Kev's grandfather. She can't manage on her own because she can't remember her medicine... but she's miserable without her independance. I wish there were a better way to care for our elderly. I mean, there are wonderful facilities. Like the assisited living place we found here for Kev's grandfather -- like an apartment with someone who comes by to drive you places and give you medicine and arrange activities. But they are so expensive that so few people can afford to do it.

It is sad, really. We have learned to prolong life, but we destroy the emotions then instead of the body. I want to find a way to help my grandma be happy. I just don't know how.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:02 PM
Another One Out the Door

And Lamenita is out the door for it's first trip into the marketplace. Will I be lucky or will I begin to gather rejection slips? We will see...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:20 PM
March 02, 2003
On the Right Track

Okay, I played with recipes this morning. I took a lower fat muffin recipe and shifted around, playing with lowering the fat even more drastically, as well as lowering the carb count by utilizing soy flour (which increase the fiber as well). For once, I think I'm on the right track.

It had good chocolate flavor, but didn't have the cake consistency. Next time I'm going to use a similar combination, although adding molasses into the liquid portion instead of using sugar, and using a creaming method of mixing to aerate. A little more baking powder, too, and a lower baking temperature for longer baking for more rising. The hard part is, it has an almost crunchy consistency, which is very different. Not bad, but not quite what I was looking for either. And of course, it has the taste of soy. Handily, I really like soy and chocolate together.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:41 AM