Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Love Your Work

I've hit the 5 month anniversary for my new job, and I'm finally finding my footing. This vocational shift was a big one (auditor? Really?), and I suspect will continue to surprise the snot out of me when I least expect it.

However, I am determined to do well.

Job satisfaction is important to me. More important than salary. I know, that's insane to most people, but I would rather enjoy what I do than make a ton of money in a job I hate.

You may say I have that luxury. I don' t have a family to support. Hello? Six cats and a dog? A home mortgage? A Farmville addiction. I have bills, too. I just refuse to be miserable 8 hours a day 5 days a week.

I've had jobs that weren't great. Jobs that were stepping stones to better jobs, and once to a worse job. Everybody has to do something they don't enjoy some of the time no matter what job they have. However, your opinion of what a job is and should be has a huge impact on how much you enjoy your work. 

See, I don't consider work a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve tended the garden before they sinned. That was work. We're supposed to work. We're supposed to do something with our lives and skills and creative natures. Work is good, which is why I refuse to accept the common notion that work is something you do until you retire. 

I love my work. I don't fully understand it yet, but every day gives me another puzzle piece to fit into the grand picture of what it is I do. I will be competent in my job. I will do the best I can, and not just the "good enough for government work" minimum.

Happy Monday, dear readers. It's a good day to go to work.

(Except the weather is supposed to be so nice today, I'd probably prefer to work in the garden. Oh well.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Branding and the Turtle

Once upon a time, I learned about branding. It preceded the birth of this blog by perhaps one week. If you cared to do so, you could go back in the archives and look up my first post about it.

Thanks to Yvonne Anderson of the Lost Genre Guild, I just read a refresher course on blogging and branding that led to a few rearranges here in the Swamp. Hope you like the pics.

When I started blogging, I wanted to be somewhat anonymous. "Baby steps" was my motto and the Turtle inched her way onto the thin ice of the bitter lake of the Internet publishing world. I didn't want my name "out there" necessarily. What if I messed up? What if I changed my mind? Far better to have an alias I could ditch.

Enter the Turtle. Ranunculus Turtle. I do love her, and I'm not abandoning her, but she isn't easy to look up, is she? She is my face and voice. My avatar. She is more a part of me than I suspected. As we've journeyed together, I see she should have been a snapping turtle.

I am the Turtle. Yes, yes, perhaps it should have been Tortoise, but that doesn't go as well with "ranunculus," does it? And snapping turtles do live in ponds. 

Since I'm finally getting friends with cell phones who also use FB, I'm finally getting some photos of me to replace my turtle sketch, so I've added a few at "The Real Turtle" page. I also need to practice this "maximizing searchability" skill good marketers speak of. It involves using common key words likely to show up on searches.

Yeah. Like "common" is my goal. (Ooo, that was a bit elitist, wasn't it?)

Anyway, here's to new determination to make myself more visible to those who might want to meet me. I haven't bombed out, I haven't given up, and my mistakes are as much a part of my story as my successes. I will share them all.

Happy Friday, dear readers.

I gotta say, Fridays don't mean as much as they used to because I'm starting to love my new job. It's hard, somewhat thankless and silly, but I believe I can do it. Kinda like writing novels.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Changed My Mind

I was gonna write about writing as "job" or "hobby," and I did, but I'm going to save it for NAF. Can't remember when I post next, but I'll let you all know.

Since I already used all my blog time on that, I guess this is what you get today.

On a side note, I got 63 page views on yesterday's post. Not sure why or how. FB, maybe? Whatever.

Thanks for viewing, folks. Nice of you to stop by. I'll try for "more interesting" tomorrow.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


One of my writers' loops have us all posting 7 lines from the 77th page of our WIP. I did this a loooong time ago on FB, but I was curious if anything has shifted since then. It has.

From Price of Justice: 
  Startled by a wet nose in the eye, (Caissa) jumped and groaned. She squinted at liquid brown eyes at the end of the long muzzle. Two enormous ears perked her direction. The dog whined.
  “Jasper?” The thin black and red dog was an old friend, companion to the one friend who had occupied her thoughts ever since she’d seen the druids. “Where’s Raven?” 
  “I am here, scholar.” The woman who spoke did not—at the moment—resemble a druid. 

Well, now you know at least two old friends resurface. What would an Ah-rahk story without Jasper be? Wrong, that's what.

However, I've also broken my WIP into smaller viewpoint-specific chunks for my first drafts. I don't have 77 pages of Rhami yet, so this is from page 7:  
  “I’d be happier with a tower,” (Rhami) repeated. “Wizards should have towers. The Great Harvarkoset—”  
  “Died wit’ his t’roat cut, stallion. His tower didant save him.” 
  He hunched further. The disastrous end of his most famous ancestor was a sore spot. “That’s not my point. My point was that he had one, and he was the most famous wizard ever.” 
  (Galena's) blade flashed in its steady journey up and down. “A tower don’ make you famous.”
Hmm. Using the "quotes" option totally wonked up the formatting. Annoying. Anyhoo...

Feeling a strong urge to write something other than a post. Gotta go.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Stay warm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Back on Schedule

Being sick can throw a wrench into anybody's clockworks, but it seems to be taking longer than usual to recover my stride, especially considering my sickness lasted about 24 hours.

My insomnia is back, despite taking 5-HTP and Valerian Root prior to bed. Yesterday, I finally bought a memory foam mattress topper to soften my "firm" Tempurpedic mattress, so here's hoping that solves some of it. The rest, I suspect, is a result of holiday parties and a neck ache holdover from when I didn't wear my mouthpiece last Monday night.

The not-sleeping is irritating on another level. I joined a one-month wellness program sponsored by my insurance plan (and counting toward a reduced insurance price next year) called "New Year, New You."

TT: Normally, I wouldn't do such a thing because I don't like anybody telling me how to be healthy. I do just fine on my own, thank you, and better than the majority of Americans. However, I do want to add exercise to my routine and this seemed a nice way to get it started.

The requirements are ridiculously simple: get 7 hours of sleep, eat a whole grain, eat 3 servings of fruit/vegetables, and exercise 30 minutes. I get one point per activity per day, I need 50 points to complete it and I have an entire month to get those 50 points. The only thing I don't do now is the exercise.

Except, since I signed up, I haven't slept through the night. I keep waking up at 2 and 2:30 and 3:30, so I can't honestly say I've slept 7 hours. Elder Brother says it's performance anxiety. Murphy's Law is what I call it. The topper helped last night, though, so I may have solved this problem.

Also, thanks to Elder Brother, I have cable hookups in nearly every room in my house, including the basement, where my Health Walker resides. I can now watch TV and exercise without having to rearrange my living room (I have a very small house) or my schedule in any noticeable way. I'm trading goof-off computer time for walking time without losing TV time. Huzzah for me. The exercise should also help me sleep better.

TT: I should be out walking the dog, but one guilt trip at a time, please. I'll walk her when it gets warmer and the sun shines longer.

Happy Tuesday, everybody. Have an apple.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

House of Poison, part II

The nausea was over at this point, so it shouldn't come up (much) in this post.

After spending a little time under a thermal blanket to restore my temp to something above a turtle on a frozen pond and sucking down a few more ice chips and some Gatorade, I was able to climb into mom's SUV and ride to the farm to recoup. Good thing, too. Second Dad was also sick, so mom didn't need to split her time between two houses 20 minutes apart.

Once I stopped throwing up, I got better. To my knowledge, I didn't run a fever. I had no aches, no congestion, no other digestive issues (see how PC I'm being in this post!). Also a good thing, because mom got sick about 8 PM and I got up to take care of her.

I thought about the plague. How the sick took care of the sicker until everybody died? Comforting, yes. I thought about Elvis while I was on the kitchen floor, so you see I'm a natural pessimist.

The next morning, while preparing what food I could for the two plague victims, I scrounged for something I could eat. My memory of the morning before was quite vivid, so I didn't want to go for the gusto like I normally would, but I didn't have many choices.

See, I mostly follow Joseph Christiano's Blood Type Diet, so I avoid certain foods. I have a whole list, but a couple of the biggies are wheat and milk. At my house, I have almond milk and gluten-free bread. Mom doesn't follow the blood type diet, so she has regular bread and regular milk, foods which don't sit well in my stomach on my best days.

TT: I'm not actually allergic, and The Wise Woman makes a habit of accepting any gift offered in kindness, so I don't bring up the food anymore when I'm there. It's not normally a big issue.

I ate dry wheat toast and hoped it wouldn't kill me. I ate a banana and hoped it wouldn't kill me. I ate some chicken enchilada and really hoped it wouldn't kill me (I can have chicken, but the cheese and tomato sauce are no-nos. I gave what I could to the dog).

Hence, House of Poison.

Again, I lived. I got home that night and mom and Second Dad are finally getting better, which leads me to believe they didn't have what I did, 'cause I'm pretty much back to normal. A day of non-poisonous foods have done wonders, although I'm still being careful. Unlike cats, I can learn.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. Take that Vitamin D and B-complex and wash your hands. Thoroughly and often. You don't want this. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

House of Poison (or Why I Hate Throwing Up)

Warning: As you might guess from the title, this post is not for the weak-stomached. Elder Brother, turn away now.

At 3:30 AM Monday, I suspected I was in trouble. Rarely do I awaken with the desire to toss cookies (that usually comes after watching a political debate) but there I was, lying in bed, with that awful suspicion that vomiting would follow consciousness at some point. I made preparations, so the trash can was ready when the moment came.

I'd like to pause and reiterate that tacos, however delicious going down, are not nearly so coming up.

Adults know a calm follows the first round of vomiting (usually), so I had time to clean up, move the bag to the outside trash bin, blow my nose, sip a little water - you know, prepare for Round Two.

There's always a Round Two. Your stomach knows its unhappy. Round One gets rid of most of it, but Round Two finishes the job. Normally. This time was odd because Round Two took two hours to erupt. I ejected the bit of water I'd swallowed, the rest of the tacos, some of Sunday's lunch, I'm sure, and that should have been the end of it.

I texted Mom that I was sick, asked for some clear soda, unlocked the back door and went to bed.

By Round Three, another two hours later, I was in trouble. The trip outside was harder. My limbs were shaking. Dehydration was setting in. I had nothing more to expel, yet my stomach would not stop trying. I drank water in the hopes some of it would absorb before the next round. Stupid me should have texted mom that I was worse than previously indicated, but I didn't. I was likely already more than a little out of it.

Mom came with the soda, left it on the porch as requested and went on with her day. She never saw me or she would have dashed into the kitchen and called an ambulance on the spot, I'm sure.

I woke up on the kitchen floor about 10 minutes after her departure. I'd gotten out of bed to fetch the soda and ice chips from the porch and fainted, apparently.  I couldn't even turn over to crawl. How fitting for the Turtle. Flat on my back and down for the count.

My phone was in the bedroom a million miles away. The back door was locked (I'd managed that stupidity before fainting - joy!). I lay on the kitchen floor in my nightshirt in my 64 degree house and  the heat bled out of me. To top it off, Round Four presented itself.

As I threw up into a towel I keep in the kitchen to dry the dog during rain storms, I realized I had a very good chance of aspirating on my own vomit. How ignominious. Considering all the puking I've done in my life, to die that way was really too much.

Remembering that episode of Firefly "Out of Gas" when Mal gets shot yet has to repair Serenity's engines, I pulled myself upright enough to unlock the door. Good. Mom could get in. I might be dead, but she wouldn't have to break the glass.

Keeping the kitchen counter at my back, I found the bag of ice chips and sucked a couple down. Hopefully, I wouldn't aspirate on those. The dog finally came by to stare at me. How I wish I'd trained her to fetch a cell phone. Or drag me somewhere on command.

Obviously, I lived. I made it to the bed, and the phone. Mom and Little Sister came and got some fluid into me. I refused a trip to the hospital. My last bout of dehydration-inducing vomiting cost $900, two bags of saline and an IV phobia.

The rest of the story, and the explanation of the title, will come tomorrow. I'm out of space and time today. Kinda like when I was on the floor in the kitchen. Surreal, that was.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Try to keep it in your stomachs, OK?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Research and The Walking Dead

"Why do you write fantasy?"

"I hate research."

Been a standard answer of mine for years, but I'm coming to the point where I can appreciate the value of research. I don't know everything. Yes, take a moment to mark your calendar. The Turtle admitted she isn't omniscient. Didn't say I wasn't a know-it-all.

Tim Ward at NAF turned me on to Ramez Naam's non-fiction book More Than Human about human enhancement. While he's answering some questions, the most helpful thing he's done so far is give me some names. Real people doing amazing things in the fields of robotics and genetics that I can look up and study a bit.

TT: Why would I be researching that for my fantasy novel? chuckle.

Since I've been limiting my Farmville play, I had a few minutes this morning to read some other people's blogs. K.M. Weiland reminded me I've wanted to read the C.S. Forester Horatio Hornblower series for a while. I ordered some of those from Amazon and downloaded a bunch of samples from books I've been meaning to check out. Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Secret of the Rose, recommended by Kat, were two.

I hope Horatio will come in handy when I write the prequel to Star of Justice. Some of that takes place on the ocean (Hope you'll enjoy that part, Caprice and Grace. I intend to plump it up for your sakes. Ships make me throw up so I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on them). Of course, that's two books from now. Don't want to get ahead of myself. On the other hand, I intend to have a good library to get me through the Zombie Apocalypse. It won't all be interrupting brain function and running from renegades, as The Walking Dead has demonstrated.

TT: Anybody else having a hard time waiting for February's season premiere? Little Sister keeps posting Darrel pics on my FB wall to taunt me.

Happy Friday, dear readers. Enjoy the warmth. Cold front's coming. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Smaller Bites Equal Bigger Returns

Tuesday night writing went the way of the dodo, not because of social activities, but regular life getting in the way. A grocery trip, an NAF post and raw chicken to cook so I would have food add up to loss of writing time.

Not wanting to "let a missed meal turn me off eating forever," I got back to work last night.

Why haven't I done this sooner? Oh, right, I'm an idiot.

It is so much easier to focus on Rhami when all of Rhami is right there in front of me. The problems are obvious, instead of the vague sense of "something's off." Yeah, it's off and there's why.

I've thought of details I should add, new struggles for him to overcome, even created a few extra people to round out his life so it isn't as empty as the set of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

I may also be messing up the timeline. Meh, who cares? I created the timeline; maybe it needs some messing up. There's no rule stating everybody's stories need to end at the same time. The point is to maintain tension.

I added almost 500 words again last night. That's 1000 words in two sessions compared to 1000 words for December. This was a good idea.

TT: I also noticed this version of the WIP was 66 pages. That makes Tuesday's math correct, which makes me happy. HA! 

Another good idea is breakfast. Jimmy Dean chicken apple sausage and scrambled eggs are calling. I must answer. Turtle needs food badly.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. Enjoy the rain.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Change of Place

I'm getting a new office at work. You can read about it over at

(I'll post some pics once I'm settled)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I won't crow too loudly. I just started this new tack, after all, and starting tonight, I have all that socializing messing me up again. I have got to get rid of some friends.

I was half an hour early everywhere yesterday. Woke up early. Finished farming early. Washed dishes early. Turned the TV off early. Put the cats to bed early. 

I was so early, I almost put off writing. I mean, I've got my schedule of avoidance down pat. Why mess it up?

That's hardly the adult way to handle things, though, so I buckled down, copied all the Rhami parts of my WIP into a new file and got to work.

I added about 500 words. Wow. Haven't done that in one session in a while. They weren't dialogue words, either.

Rhami currently has almost 16K words for his story, and near as I can figure, I'm halfway through the book. If past is prologue (I love that phrase!) and I want to maintain symmetry, Rhami gets another 16K words to finish his bit.

TT: As suspected, Caissa has the lion's share of the WIP, as it should be, but I'll deal with her later. This one-character-storyline-at-a-time idea appeals.

Of course, I have no idea how to convert "16K words" into real story, any more than I could convert fractions into decimals without a calculator. Except maybe I do. If a page is about 250 words, Rhami gets 64 more pages. I used a calculator for that, but it doesn't feel right, especially since his current bit is 44 pages. OK, so 44 to 64 pages remain for Rhami. I can do that. Who gets next treatment depends on where his story ends.

Hey, a plan! Cool.

Happy Tuesday, everybody. Enjoy the sunshine.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Tack

My Dear Friend once advised me to stop comparing my books. Like children, each is different. Each will require different things of me, and each will provide different things to me.

Of course, with all this "different" flying around, I have to wonder when any of it will be the same. When will my book-writing learning curve stop climbing and finally get 'er done, ya know? If past is prologue, never.

My WIP stymied me - again - this weekend. I was doing fine until I switched viewpoints.

TT: I was initially doing fine until I scheduled a social event that got me home after 9, and I had no time to write before bed. I'm now 4 pages behind my writing schedule. A lesser me would give up and start eating potato chips, but a great Bible study teacher once told me when you miss a meal you don't give up eating, so don't give up anything else just because you miss one session.

So I sit down with the laptop to make up for lost time from the various social events, and I switch viewpoints. I'm staring at the screen wondering what event can happen in the time allotted that won't screw up the timeline for anybody else. That's when it hits me. I should be writing these stories independently instead of concurrently.

Concurrently worked for Elementals, but Elementals is a multi-viewpoint tale of two sisters told in the same timeline where they start together, diverge into different events and regroup at the end. When writing, I rotated viewpoints between sisters, and it worked. I don't know why.

I can't seem to do that with 5 viewpoints. It's too complex. I find myself jabbering on with inconsequentials instead of moving the story forward.

TT: Thank you, plotters, for pointing out that if I'd written an outline before I started, I wouldn't be having this problem. If I'd been able to plot an ending, I would have finished the book a year ago. I can't make up my mind.

Here's the new tack: I'll plot and write each viewpoint, starting, I think, with Rhami. He and Caissa would be the "main" characters, but they don't necessarily have to be in the same place at the end. Everybody else can hang from their timelines. Perhaps I'll end up with five novellas instead of a monster novel. At .99 each, it might be worth it.

Why do I do this to myself?

Happy Monday, everybody.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Good Start

"Why do you call me 'good?' Is anyone good but God?" -Jesus

I titled the post intending to tell you the good things that have happened yesterday. Instead, I pause and wonder, "What is good?"

I think "good" is when I'm happy. When things go my way. When I have a comfortable home, food to eat and enough money to pay my bills. When I'm not coping with depression or money mistakes or lack of sunlight or aching joints.

Is that good?

Should I define "good" as what God wants? What God provides? A couple of months ago, I would have shoved that definition into any orifice you'd care to offer and walked away. But that is what the Bible says.

God is good. He is not tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. Even Job recognized God's supremacy allows Him to do whatever He wants, and our only response should be praise because what God wants is good. Don't get me started on Job.

I told God yesterday after coming home from my good day that I didn't want to take Him for granted. That I know people say we can't know Him completely without trials or suffering, but I'm pretty sure I can, and I'm willing to try if He's willing to give me a pass on the pain.

He probably chuckled. I suspect I amuse Him a lot.

My good day involved titling the Dodge quickly and easily (to all appearances) and getting permission to change offices at work (a boon that made me realize how much my current workspace has weighed on me, even more than my current workload, which is monumental). See, I don't need much to make me happy, so most days are good days for me.

Happy Friday, dear readers. May all your days with God be good days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Editing and Writer's Block

Somewhere in all the posts flying around my online writers' groups (or elsewhere. I've read a lot lately), someone said the best thing - or maybe it was the hardest thing - in a first draft is to turn off the internal editor and put words on paper. I know this. Lesson One for an Experienced Writer.

TT: Lesson One for an Inexperienced Writer is "not everything you write is gold." See the problems we writers face? No wonder we talk to invisible people.

The other bit, though, was the light going off. Editing is reserved for writer's block.


I shut my inner editor up by telling her I'll edit later. I'll need to. I reread a bit from a week ago, and even I have no idea what I was trying to say. It's bad when I can't read my own handwriting, so to speak.

Applying this rule, along with "make something happen when you're bored," work has resumed on Price of Justice.  We all know how much I hate word counts, but I'm spending time every day moving the story forward an inch at a time. If I can produce 300 words a day, I'll be done with the first draft in June.

Oh, how I wish that "if" didn't loom so large in my mind.

No matter. I'll keep writing, 10 words a day if that's all I can get out, until it's done. I won't worry about reader expectations, alternate endings, or arbitrary deadlines. Writing used to be fun. It will be again.