Friday, November 27, 2009

I Succumbed to The Crazy

1. It's 5:30 a.m. the Friday morning after Thanksgiving.

2. I've been up since 4.

3. Why?

4. Target. Door busters. Boys who love electronic gadgets for Christmas.

5. Ugh.

6. It's my first time braving the crowds on Black Friday because crowds generally make me behave in ways that could get me arrested.

7. (Case in point: the time I rammed another shopper's cart out of the middle of the aisle during back to school shopping.)

8. (The other "case in point" I can't tell you about because the police still don't have any suspects and why put myself on the radar if I don't have to?)

9. I got to the store at 4:40 a.m. (it opened at 5) and discovered the line was already wrapped around the building.

10. I'm an amateur. I get it.

11. I also got what I came for by making up for lost time--I refused a cart and instead employed the old bob, weave, and ram technique to reach my quarry before it was sold out.

12. Now I'm home and my right eye has developed a twitch.

13. I just read an article discussing the recent death of UGA's bulldog mascot and PETA's public suggestion that UGA should forgo purchasing another bulldog for the school and sink their money into an animatronic dog instead.

14. I frankly don't care one way or the other what UGA does and I bet PETA doesn't either.

15. Why do I say that?

16. Because the logic used in the PETA statement is ludicrous.

17. They say:

... acquiring a dog from a breeder perpetuates the animal overpopulation crisis while causing another dog waiting in an animal shelter to be condemned to death.

18. I'm trying to understand their reasoning.

19. They're saying that by purchasing a bulldog from a breeder, UGA is condemning a dog in a shelter to death.

20. Very strong words.

21. The only way that logic holds together at all is if UGA's alternative would be to rescue a bulldog from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder.

22. But that isn't what PETA wants.

23. PETA wants them to use an animatronic dog instead.

24. Which doesn't do one thing to save dogs in animal shelters.

25. I think the only thing PETA wanted out of this was a headline.

26. As a fierce animal lover myself, I get disgusted by PETA's frequent headcase reasoning and blatant bids for publicity that do nothing to actually find needy animals a good home.

27. *steps down off her soapbox*

28. And that's what you get from me if I'm forced to brave crowds so early on a Friday morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today is the last day to register for the upcoming online Query Workshop at the discounted rate of $35. Tomorrow the price goes up to $40. Go here for more info and to register.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Grand Prize Winner!

Congratulations to Jennifer Parker, author of the Rewrite! Twilight entry #1. Your number was picked out of a hat to be the grand prize winner of a 50 page manuscript critique by yours truly. Email me at cjredwine01 (at) yahoo for further instructions and congratulations!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yay for Blog Awards!

Thanks to Shannon Messenger, I was nominated for the Honest Scrap award. Apparently, the purpose of this is to make me tell 10 honest things about myself. As if you didn't already have enough of my life shoved in your face on a near daily basis.

Here goes:

1. This isn't the first blog award I've received. I think it's the fifth. But usually the process of claiming, reposting, and nominating others feels really overwhelming to me and my five minutes of free time so I thank the nominator and move on. In fact, I was nominated today for another award on a different blog. It remains to be seen if I find the time to pick that one up, though I was deeply honored.

2. I used to lick play doh. It never tasted good. But it looked pretty, so on the off chance that this time it would taste how it looked, I licked it every time I played with it.

3. My favorite color is red because it's dramatic, bold, fun, lively and still maintains some classy sophistication. I once read that when you describe your favorite color you describe yourself so I guess I should subtract sophisticated and add loud to the list.

4. I once grabbed an electric cow fence while it was on. I don't recommend it.

5. If I had to choose an international destination for a dream vacation, I wouldn't head for the tropical beaches. Instead, I'd do a tour of castles in Ireland and England.

6. I don't like the smell of flowers.

7. I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time while I was in fourth grade.

8. I once wrote in my diary that I would grow up and marry John Schneider (Bo Duke from Dukes of Hazard). I later taught his daughter when she was in junior high, was invited to his home for a Christmas party (while I was 8 months pregnant with the Scientist), and had my husband announce the contents of my diary in front of John and his very understanding wife.

9. I refuse to eat green beans. In any form. Don't cover them in cheese and bread crumbs, call it a casserole, and feed me a bite. I promise I'll vomit on your shoes.

10. I played basketball and volleyball in junior high. I wasn't talented at either, but I was fast, aggressive, and had no fear of the other players so I ended up playing more often than not.

At this point, I'm supposed to nominated other bloggers. However, I've also run out of time. So, if you choose to share ten honest things on your blog, snag the logo, link back to me, and leave me a comment directing me to your post. (I seem to have embraced the concept of socialism! YOU do the work for ME and I'LL reap the rewards. Awesome.)

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

1. In my last post, I invited commenters to guess which two items on my list of things researched for Casting Stones weren't true.

2. The correct answer is: buttermilk pancake recipe and the founders of Oliver Springs, Tennessee.

3. Sadly no one got the right answer so no prize this time, but I've learned my lesson.

4. I'll make the next guessing contest easier. =D

5. In other contest news, I'll be posting the winner of the 50 page critique tomorrow!

6. Starshine recently decided to speak to us using interpretive dance as his main mode of communication.

7. Of course, if we don't get his meaning right away, he follows that up with his usual stream of consciousness.

8. I work every day this week through Thanksgiving which means we'll be eating a late dinner on T-day.

9. I have no idea why any of you would find that fact interesting.

10. I had a commenter recently volunteer to be a moderator on this blog.

11. *looks around at her regular readers*

12. I had to turn her down since all of you are generally so well-mannered there's really nothing to moderate.

13. That seems like a small oversight on your part.

14. Perhaps you should step up your game.

15. I find when I'm totally focused on writing a particular story, I can't enjoy reading for pleasure.

16. I get mad because the book is trying to distract me from my characters.

17. Yes, writers are a strange breed.

18. We listened to J.J. Abrams' commentary on the movie Star Trek last night and it was a master's class in effective story telling, pacing, and attention to the littlest details to get everything just right.

19. Have I mentioned I want Star Trek for Christmas?

20. Reader Question: What's one Thanksgiving dish you could eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's A ... Goat?

1. There is so much wrong with that picture.

2. Bad enough we have to defend ourselves against them on the ground.

3. Now they have the ability to drop out of the sky like horizontal-eyed goat bombs.

4. *is not pleased*

5. When we took the kids to see the sneak peek of A Christmas Carol, we were handed those blocky, black plastic Hey! I'm A Whiz At Calculus And Other Impractical Math Functions! 3-D glasses.

6. Daredevil put his on and they slid to the end of his nose.

7. Looking at me over the rims, he put his finger on the bridge of the glasses, slid them up his nose, and said "Get your nerd on."

8. I nearly peed my pants laughing.

9. I spent the weekend with some dear friends in the eastern Tennessee mountains.

10. They'd graciously offered me the use of their upstairs guest room to have a writing weekend.

11. It was wonderful to write Casting Stones and be able to look out the window at the setting for Casting Stones.

12. We even took a quick trip to a tiny mountain town so I could really get the feel for it and I found Lilli's Mother's house, exactly as it's described in the book.

13. Win!

14. Friday night - Sunday afternoon I wrote over 11k on Casting Stones.

15. Double win!

16. I'm having so much fun with this story.

17. Here's a challenge for you. The following is a list of items I researched lately for Casting Stones. Two of them are false. Can you guess which two?

*The average running speed of a flock of chickens

*Cargo space in an Audi R8

*The founding families of Oliver Springs, Tennessee

*Surnames used often in eastern Tennessee

*Hunting knives

*The location of the Colgate toothpaste factory

*What started the Chicago fire of 1871

*A recipe for buttermilk pancakes

*Harley Fatboys

Leave your answers in the comment section. All correct entries will go into a drawing and the winner will have a short piece of fiction written in their honor.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Point A to Point B

The other day, a (probably) well-meaning co-worker (eavesdropped) overheard a conversation between a friend and me regarding Casting Stones, the book I'm currently writing. (Please note it is no longer known by the generic Lilli's Book One although that title had a certain State The Obvious charm to it.)

In the conversation, my friend asked how the writing was coming along and I told her I needed to really get a chunk done in the next few weeks to hit my deadline. (By chunk I mean Holy Nearly Unattainable Word Count, Batgirl!) I then explained that it usually takes me around 4 1/2 hours to craft a 3000 word chapter.

The (probably) well-meaning co-worker chimed in with the pithy advice that if I already know what is going to happen in each chapter as I sit down to write (And yes, on this book, I actually DO know what's going to happen before I write the chapter ... I know. My Pantser universe sort of cracked and fell off its axis this time.) it shouldn't take 4 1/2 hours. I should just discipline myself to start at point A and end up at point B.


I'd really love to finish the story of what happened to my (probably) well-meaning co-worker but as they've yet to find his body, I think I'll just keep quiet.

But, here's the deal. In writing, 1 plus 1 hardly ever equals 2. Usually, it equals something like 7 give or take 3 to the square root of 52347059 with a margin of error as wide as the entire state of Alaska.

Here's why:

1. I start the chapter at point A.

2. Point A may or may not be exactly, to the nanosecond, after point B in the previous chapter.

3. If it is exactly, to the nanosecond, after point B in the previous chapter, I still can't just jump in without looking both ways. I have to figure out a clever way to re-orient the reader to the thread of conversation/action because the reader may have taken a bathroom break between chapters 14 and 15 and been distracted by a totally unexpected opportunity to stalk Johnny Depp through the streets of her neighborhood as he canvased the local streets looking for the perfect location for his next movie. (Please note this is the ONLY acceptable excuse for putting one of my books down before you've reached the end. Well, that and childbirth. And Zombie Goat interference, of course.)

4. Most likely, I choose to move past some unimportant, mundane tidbits between chapter 14 and chapter 15 and I have to set the scene while still picking up the thread of action/conflict/dialogue. This means I have to carefully consider time of day, weather, angle of the sun, shadows, local foliage, animals indigenous to that location, my chicken-scratch hand-drawn map of local businesses, streets and homes, vehicles (make, model, color, condition) passing by, wind? no wind?, scents, home decor, character's clothing ... and no, I'm not kidding. All of that info goes into my head, bangs around, settles, and I spend TIME carefully crafting two or three measly sentences that perfectly (I hope) set the scene with appropriate sensory detail for the chapter to get from Point A to Point B.

5. How much of my 4 1/2 hours does that take?

6. Depends. Some days I have to Google and Google and Google yet again before finding what I need. Then I have to figure out how to translate that into words without using obvious cliches or truly stupid phrasing (I refuse to admit how often the latter is discovered by yours truly upon re-reading a chapter the next day.).

7. So ... goody! 150 words done! Only 2850 to go!

8. I spend the rest of the chapter trying to get the characters from Point A to Point B while layering in setting, sensory detail, increasing emotional conflict, giving hints about secrets yet to be revealed, pushing the main conflict forward, double and triple checking every sentence of dialogue to make sure it A) rings true for that character, B) furthers that character's agenda, C) furthers the story's conflict and D) doesn't sound supremely idiotic upon re-reading.

9. Oh, yeah, and I also have to do all of this while writing in first person so all of this (including other character's secrets, agendas, and voices) have to come through the filter of Lilli's voice without losing their own.

10. And I have to be sure to set myself up for point A in chapter 16 without giving too much away too soon or losing momentum and treading water while my characters sit and stare at each other wondering when their story-teller is going to get her act together.

11. And sometimes (Hang on for the shocker, those of you who know me well) the words won't come.

12. They. Won't. Come.

13. The image I want to describe remains tantalizingly just out of reach, flirting with the edges of my brain like a ... a ... a thing that flirts with the edges of my brain.

14. And sometimes the words that do come sound good at first but end up painting me and my characters into the kind of corner where all good stories go to die.

15. Other times words flow easily and I have a brief egotistical moment of sheer elation where I think Leonardo DiCaprio had it all wrong and I am truly the King of the World.

16. But most times, each sentence takes effort. Focus.

17. Time.

Since I think great art must cost the artist something, it's a bargain I'm willing to make. But writing, really good writing, isn't about starting at Point A and ending up at Point B. It's about what happens in between. And what happens in between takes time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

10 Things I Need According to Google

I just performed a quick Google experiment by doing a search for "C.J. needs." Here are the top ten results:

1. C.J. needs a laxative: If I was the C.J. in question on this post, I'd be handing out certain consequences and repercussions to the person in my life who thought my internal plumbing emergency worthy of a blog post.

2. C.J. needs to become the region's highest appellate court: Um. *looks around* I thought I already was.

3. C.J. needs a hip replacement: I'd feel sorry for this C.J. if I wasn't sort of jealous. I'd rather need a hip replacement than worry I might need a lobotomy instead. (Have you read how many times I've hit my head in the last few years?! Oy.)

4. C.J. needs a vacation: Preach it, sister.

5. C.J. needs numbers: Hm. 12. 3894. 9495793857892020. There you go. Glad to help.

6. C.J. needs to go: Perhaps this C.J. should hook up with C.J. #1.

7. C.J. needs to have a Dairy Queen: A whole Dairy Queen? Really? Cause I'd settle for just a blizzard.

8. C.J. needs to offer a sacrifice: Fine. You can have my flip flops. Yes, I own a pair, but they were a GIFT. Also, you can have my hubby's ratty gray shorts which he refuses to throw away.

9. C.J. needs to shoot more: I totally agree. Who wants to give me a gun for Christmas?

10. C.J. needs help with algebra: Isn't that the truth. Actually (and I believe my high school math teacher will back me up on this) I'm beyond help. Waaaaay beyond help.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Flashback

Today's Friday Flashback post comes from July 2007. The month I discovered the invention of the Hind Motion Sensor Tanktop. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wash, Rinse ... No, really. Rinse.

1. We went to a sneak peek of the new Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey on Monday night.

2. It was WOW amazing.

3. Not suitable for younger kids because thankfully the producers stuck to the dark, chilling aspects of the story and there are some freaky cool visuals.

4. I might be going to a sneak peek for New Moon in two weeks.

5. Some of you hate me right now.

6. Others of you are laughing your fool heads off at me.

7. I'm doing it for Myra.

8. Myra and I don't see eye to eye on music, clothing, tv shows, most movies, and how to drive on a freeway, but we love each other so that makes our friendship work.

9. Plus, we're both sort of aliens on this planet.

10. V!

11. Saw it. Loved it.

12. Anna, the V spokesperson, is a spitting image of my agent Holly.

13. Minus the eeeevvvviiiiillll, of course.

14. Although, something tells me Holly could flip a switch if she were so inclined.

15. One last thing:

16. When one is tired, and one decides to take care of basic personal hygiene needs, one should strive to remember to rinse off before one exits one's shower, towels dry, and then wonders what in the world is wrong with one's hair/face/body/towel.

17. This public service announcement has been brought to you by the words "really?" and "insane" and by the number "to the 92384782nd power."

Harry Potter Trailer & More!

The final trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has been released, and I'm not going to lie. I get choked up every ti...