Friday, October 29, 2010

In matters animal, vegetable, and mineral...

Saw this on Twitter yesterday and just had to share!

If you're unfamiliar, it's a parody of the song "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

*insert clever title here*

The name's the thing.

But what do you do when the clock is ticking and your mind is drawing a blank?

I'm talking about titles, of course. We all know that the chances of your working title being kept by the publisher is pretty slim, and for a lot of us, that's probably a big relief, right? I know it would be for me.

But it's still nice to have something to call it, isn't it? And I doubt many agents are going to want to see "WIP #45 is an 85,000-word thriller."

Or if you're shallow like me, and really want to have a pretty banner/cover for your NaNoWriMo project...

All good reasons to need a title.


I usually can pull a decent working title out of my ass, but for the current Nano project, I was stumped, and I mean stumped.

The main characters are chronokinetic, and that is an important element to the story, so for shits and giggles and in need of a folder title to keep My Documents nice and tidy (god, I really am a plotter, aren't I?), I titled the project CHRONO KILLERZ. Yes, with the Z. But obviously I couldn't keep that! Even if it has a nice pulp-fiction (the actual kind, not the "English, M*thaf*cka!"-kind)(and that's only according to my brother, who was worthless in helping me think of a title) ring, it's a total misnomer.

I've been trying to think of a title for almost a month, so today, out of pure desperation, I googled this:

"I need a name for my novel."

Never underestimate the power of Google, people!! For the Google gods directed me to superstar agent Rachelle Gardner's blog post entitled How to Title Your Book.

Here are her tips, in a nutshell:

  • Go to Amazon and search your genre, then write down 20 titles that appeal to you. Note what elements they share and what elements are lacking. 
  • Free-associate as many words as you can that pertain to your novel, theme, characters, and any phrases or images that come to mind when you think of your story. 
  • See if any of the words you free-associated could work as a single-name title, then start experimenting with adjective-noun, verb-noun arrangements. 
From that point, you basically pick out your favorites and narrow it down until you have a winner. 

I did the first two. Just out of scientific interest, here's an sampling of random books from the sci-fi and fantasy selections at Amazon that struck my fancy:

Out of the Dark
Spook Country
House of Suns
No Mercy
Devil May Cry
The Devil You Know
The Sparrow

Seeing a trend? I guess I'm mostly drawn to short, sparse titles, either one word or an article and a noun (think of Nicholas Sparks' novels: The Rescue, The Guardian, The Notebook). I'm entranced by the idea that one word can really encompass an entire novel's theme. Kelley Armstrong, urban fantasy author extraordinaire, really cashes in on the one-word titles. 

Anyway, I wrote down all my words and phrases and images, but nothing really jumped out at me, until I started thinking about idiomatic expressions. I've always liked those as titles, because they're already in the collective consciousness (of Americans, anyway)--kind of like a high concept title, I guess. And that makes it easy to remember, and we all want people to remember our titles. 

The phrase the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few is an idiom that could be applied thematically to my plot, except the MC is definitely more interested in what she wants than what's best for all. But Needs of the Few is a little clunky, isn't it? Interesting to think about, I guess, and it certainly could induce you to wonder who the few are and what their needs are and how their selfishness could affect the "many," but it still wasn't ringing with me. 

In a very un-Summer way, this project idea came to me in 2 books'-worth of fully-formed ideas. I don't like to think in sequels, but this just so happens to work that way, and I'm pretty in love with it, so I'm going with it. So while I was desperately trying to come up with a title for the "first book," the perfect idiomatic title for the "second book" hit me: Dead Ringer. Several layers of meaning, short and punchy. I liked it! 

But what about the first book? I know this is getting long and drawn out (welcome to my last month), so I'll just cut to the chase and show you the banner and "book cover" I made for the NaNo site:

So. My working title is now Dry Run. It's an idiom, and it has the added benefit of being both metaphorical and literal, plus it's a nice alliteration for Dead Ringer

All this rambling was in hopes of proving that the untitleable are never lost for sure! Definitely check out Rachelle's hints. 

And then when you're done, go here for a bit of fun (arbitrarily rates your bestseller chances based on title alone): LuLu Title Scorer. If you're wondering, Dry Run scored a 10.2% chance at becoming a bestselling title. Ha! Thanks a lot, Lulu! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Survive NaNoWriMo

Since it's the vogue thing to do, I wanted to throw in my two cents for NaNoWriMo.

This will be my third year "competing." My first year, I heard about it and signed up around 10pm on October 31, with not a clue in my mind what I'd write. I was working full time at the animal shelter then, and had never finished anything except for some poems and a short story.

I tried, but I failed: I peetered out around 32k? But something good came from it: that was where I developed Saving Me, the women's fiction novel that I finally finished earlier this year. I wouldn't change that NaNo for anything. I may not have won, but I created a story that I could truly love.

Last year I was out of work with my wrist injury, my husband was gone 12 hours a day, and I had zero social life (some things don't change). So yeah, I won that year. I wrote my 50k in 23 days, due to some Thanksgiving obligations.

I'm not what one would consider a fast writer by any means. Sure, I can churn out a few thousand in a sitting, but it's the day-after-day bit that really gets hard. Believe me.

Anyway, there were FOUR things that really helped me get through that November, and I'd like to share them with you:

1. Self-Rewarding
  I don't usually advocate for self-rewarding during writing, but it's a totally different story come November. I respond as well to a bribe as the next person. My bribe of choice?

30 Rock! The entire series as it was then was available for instant play on Netflix. I'd make myself an arbitrary goal (say, 750 words or 1k) and when I reached it, watch an episode. This worked wonders! It's a fantastic show, and I'd go speeding through my daily word count in order to watch the next episode.

2. Just For You, Baby

  Having something that you use/eat/drink only during NaNoWriMo. It's Pavlovian--as soon as you encounter that item, you're instantly in the NaNo frame of mind! My special thing?

This tea is the shit. For real, if you like peppermint tea, try this! It's only available during holiday season in the stores, which makes it fairly easy to save for NaNo. Unfortunately I haven't found it for this year, but I still have a week, dammit!

3. Support

   This year is going to be great, since I know so many of you bloggers and friends are participating. Seriously, the level of awesome is approaching epic. However, last year I only knew 2 other ladies doing NaNo, and only one of them was hardcore about it. So, I found myself a member of the official NaNoWriMo Facebook Group. We were our own little cheer team, and it was great! I doubt I'll be as active this year, but I won't forget their amazing support!

4. Fun! Fun!

   Really, that's the name of the game, guys. Let me tell you, if you haven't spent any time mucking around in the plethora of NaNo forums, you're missing out! There's a thread for everything, if you just look! Forums by genre, by age, forums for questions, forums for answers, and forums upon forums of just plain silliness! The forums are one of the main things I look forward to every year. I was there within minutes of the Office of Letters and Light folks resetting everything for 2010.

It's great to do all your writing during the day (or whenever) and check that 1,667 words off your calendar (the plotters, of course), but you're probably going to be finding yourself doing this more than once:

I know I did! And weirdly, the hours between midnight and 2am were like magic--the words just flowed. Maybe I was hypnotized by the glow of the computer monitor? Either way, it worked! It's always good to get ahead on your word count, just to plan for the unexpected. (And there's a sense of satisfaction in watching your progress bar skyrocket past your friends'.)

Don't forget to backup your work! Google Documents, jump drives, external hard-drives, email! Do it! Do it! Do it! 

So, to all of you who are waiting for next Monday: bon voyage! Can't wait to see you there!

If you haven't buddied me, my username is summerbp.

And don't forget to please sign up for my blogfest in the linky and spread the word!! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh Snap!

So last night I was finally working on some writing-related stuff again (waffled back to a previous idea for NaNoWriMo--I know, so indecisive! Gah!), when I realized something:

All those pages of character notes--
All those maps of the world and solar system--
All those details about the "magic"--
The page-long description of a made-up drug--
The hours of Googling manslaughter and imperfect self-defense--
The subsequent scrawling of many post-its with notes from above Googling--
The albeit-short, but still a synopsis of the novel--

--Do Not a Pantser Make.

I feel like my world has been turned on its ear.

This is it, guys. You may officially revoke my pantser card.

Oh, oh, and don't forget to sign up in the Linky for my Show Your Space Blogfest!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blogfest for the Lazy

I've been thinking about having a blogfest for a while, since they're fun and interactive and a good way to meet new people. Kind of like intramural frisbee, minus the potential mishap and awkward displays of athleticism.

But they take up a lot of time, don't they? I mean, we all like to be nosy and read each other's stuff, but it's consuming and tiring and thinking of clever comments for 50+ folks can get taxing, to say the least.

So then I thought, what would promote the community spirit, indulge the creepy stalker in all of us, and still be fast and writing-related?

And it hit me.

I'd like to propose a Writing Space Blogfest!!!--

--in which we all share photos of our writing spaces, whether it be a desk, a couch, a coffee shop, a pad of paper--whatever.

If that's too creepy for you, maybe you could just describe it to us.

Purple prose is welcome--nay, demanded! 

Don't lie: you totally spend at least half an hour cruising YouTube or Googling pictures of babykittenssqueeUmaThurmansboobsdismemberedarmvodkamtrushmorethailandtattoos.... Or is that just me? Anyway. Point being, we can look at pictures pretty fast, right? And it's easy to say, OMG, I love your self-portrait composed in macaroni noodles and macrame! I have one just like it! So inspiring! 


Since NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I know a lot of us are participating, I propose this blogfest be held on November 1, 2010. That way you can schedule your post, or if you're too lazy or forgetful for that, you can quickly upload a slap-dash photo of your chair. No pressure.

That gives you 12 days to beautify that little nook, or at least dust the cobwebs out of the corner *cough*.

Until then, spread the word for me, and add your name to the linky at the top right of the blog.

Lazy writers unite!

Thoughts? Feelings? Hate it? Like it? Think I'm creepy? Love being creepy with me?? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Got your attention? Good.

Do you know Alex Cavanaugh?

I'm willing to bet you do.

He lives between these satellites. Or maybe under them. Or perhaps he actually lives on a secret space station, and these are the satellites he uses to communicate with us lowly terra-bound Earthlings.

Not that he's an alien or anything.

But he could be.

Doesn't really matter, because Alex is one of the nicest bloggers I know. We met way back in the beginning (of my blogging experience)--he was one of my first followers, I'm pretty sure, and he's always been a loyal commentator--but I'm sure I don't have to tell you that.

Don't take my word for it. 

Today's a special day for our friend Alex--his book, CassaStar, hits the shelves and the virtual waves. He's already been getting some excellent press, and I look forward to soon adding my own review. 

If you're reading this post, chances are pretty high that you dream of one day seeing your name on a cover in a bookstore, or on the Amazon bestseller list--or heck, even one of the $0.00 Kindle buys that everyone downloads and reads, regardless (at least I do). 

Now it's our chance to put in some good karma for Alex, whose dream is about to be realized. 

Alex's publisher has been kind enough to offer up one free copy of CassaStar to a lucky follower, so go here for details.

But enough of my upselling (I always sucked at that in retail). Here are the dirty details: 

And as is totally fitting for a novel of the future, CassaStar is available in eBook format for Kindle, iPad, Nook & more. 

So go out and get your copy today, or at least swing by his blog and give him a majorly hearty congratulations, because he deserves it! And hopefully one day soon, it'll be your turn to get this pimp treatment...(um, run for the hills?) 

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm In Your Windooz, Lookin at Your Wordz

I've been scattered lately...I mentioned that last post, I think (see? proof). I haven't had a strong blogger presence, though part of that is because I made the switch to the Dark Side (Google Reader) and am too lazy to do all the work for comments. Sorry.

But I feel out of the loop.

So, tell me: what's happening? 

Lot of folks are gearing up for NaNoWriMo. 
Some folks are getting ready for book releases (looking at you, Alex & Talli). 
And hopefully a ton of writing going on... ? 

Maybe you've put out your Halloween/Samhain decorations, or maybe you're having difficulty deciding between miniature Twix or Snickers for the trick or treaters this year? 

This hermited, lonely, crazy-cat/ web-stalker-lady wants to know. 

In the least-creepy way possible, of course. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All These Things

This post is going to be a bit fragmented; a perfect counterpart to my mind as of late. I've been having great difficulty concentrating on any one thing the past month. I've tried to focus on what revisions need to be done for my sci-fi novel before NaNo, I wrote 15k of a new idea and dropped it, I've been cleaning and organizing our house like a madwoman, and I've recently picked up an old hobby again: crocheting.

It's interesting, crochet. There's no real documentation of anyone doing it until the 1800's. Can you believe that? As I'm sitting here, winding loop after loop of yarn around my hook, it really makes me wonder who came up with it? Evidently, no one really knows.

I'm not a great crocheter by any means, but I enjoy having something to do with my hands while we watch a movie or an entire disc of whatever TV show we're currently binging...

My one-day-will-be-sister-in-law's birthday is this Friday. She's Japanese, lives in Maryland with my brother-in-law, and I've only met her a few times. Kind of at a loss what to give her, so I decided, "hey, maybe I'll make something."

So I made these fingerless gloves. It was my first non-scarf project, and I'm pretty happy with the result. They took me about 8 hours total, I guess, plus a little extra time sewing them together & adding the buttons. Here's hoping she likes them.

This is the scarf I'm currently making for myself. 

Between all the cleaning and the crocheting and the cooking I've been doing, I'm kinda joking with myself that I'm "nesting" for NaNoWriMo. I can't concentrate on writing unless the house is clean and all the little chores are done, so I guess I'm getting a headstart on that.

I've been meaning to upload these pictures for a while. For those of you who've been following me from the beginning, you'll remember my on-going gardening saga. For those of you who are recently joined, just know that when we moved into this apartment, the garden space looked like this:

But after 6 months of hard labor and a lot of money, this is the garden's look as it's entering the decline:

It's been a lot of hard work, but worth every sweat drop (and trust me, there were enough to fill a lake).

So, am I the only one with Restless Brain Syndrome? And is everyone as excited as I am about finally pulling out my sweaters and boots?? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Calling All Charlotte-ans.

At the end of this week, Evan and I are going on vacation!

A mini-vacation, but a holiday all the same. It'll be our first little trip together since June of last year, when we went to St. Augustine for a whirlwind 2 nights.

This year we're taking the weekend in North Carolina. So far our itinerary includes:


  • Leave Georgia at ass-crack of dawn
  • Drive through Spartanburg to Charlotte 
  • Go here:
Where we'll enjoy a hard day of white water kayacking, zip-lines, rock walls, and more. We're really looking forward to it! 


Attend the Carolina Renaissance Festival! 
This is the whole reason we're going this weekend--it's their Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literary Weekend. Only one author that I'm familiar with: Michael Stackpole. But I have a lot of hopes for it! It's been at least 12 years since I've been to a RenFest, and then it was in the middle of Georgia summer. I think fall is much more suitable for faires, don't you? 

Here's Where You Come In

Evan and I are going to be spending Saturday night and Sunday in Charlotte, but we don't know what else to do! If anyone's familiar with the Charlotte area, we'd be greatly obliged for suggestions! Preferably nothing too expensive, because as always, we're traveling on a budget (sigh). 

Friday, October 8, 2010

NaNo Nannering

The past week, I have really been getting into the NaNoWriMo spirit. Um, probably too much. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I spent at least 4 hours on the forums. *shame*

But last year, NaNo really helped me out. It was the month before my wrist surgery, I was not at all used to the inactivity of being out of work, injured, and my husband gone for 12 hours a day.

Then NaNo rolled around, and not only did I suddenly have purpose every day, but I also had this enormous community of the like-minded right there with me. We laughed, we cried, we binged on too much food and too much tea/coffee, we updated our Facebook page way too often, we updated our wordcount every 10 words... It was fabulous.

Evan's extended family came into town for Thanksgiving on the 24th, so I had to be done by then, and by George I was! But then I was sad. And feeling withdrawals. I still lurked on the forums, but it just wasn't the same...

December was an extremely dark cloud; I had my surgery on the 8th and had my right arm cast at a 90-degree angle for 5 weeks. Try finishing your novel with one hand! I used the netbook, since the keyboard is so small, and I eventually gave up on proper punctuation or capitalization. And finally, I just gave up.

Anyway, of course I joined the happy Blogger world January 1st and after that, it's all history...

So NaNo means a lot to me. And I am so, SO thrilled to know so many more people doing it this year! My buddy list is wonderfully long, and I foresee many NaNo-related blog posts and Tweets to come. Can't wait!

This is the signature banner I made for this year. I'm actually writing the sequel to last year's novel, so it's technically the same banner...just a different date!

Anyone else been all over the forums? Got any good NaNo stories to share? Started outlining yet? 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Poetry SLAM

Last night, with husband, brother, and brother's girlfriend, I went to see Billy Collins, just like I said I would! And you thought I'd back out...

I'm so glad I went. My favorite thing about Collins is how he can be humorous and profound in the same line of poetry. Not a single word out of place. And the things he writes about...

He read some old stuff, read a poem from his "forthcoming" (the introductory speaker, Thomas Lux, who is also a wonderful poet, said that he thinks "forthcoming" is every author's favorite word) collection entitled Horoscopes for the Dead, and read some haiku, which might have been my favorite part.

At one point he thread three poems about dogs. One of them was my favorite poem of the night, entitled "The Revenant." As introduction to this poem, Collins talked about how when writing about dogs or pets that we care about, it's often very difficult to avoid sentimentality. So he wrote "The Revenant" in a direct tack against sentimentality, and it is wonderful. The speaker is a dog's ghost, and the first line is "I never liked you."
He said that he has always advised poetry students who are having a difficult time with a line or a stanza to bring a dog into the room, and they will find their way out of the difficulty.

Another funny poem towards the beginning was called "Oh My God." Collins introduced it as a poem about a speech tic that has infected our language; however, as he was contemplating this phrase, he came to realize that while he'd always thought that only verbs have past tense, he realized that this phrase does too, and it's "I was like, 'oh my god.'" Funny stuff, folks.

So. A very enjoyable evening. Even my husband liked it, and he's not into poetry at all. If you ever get the chance to see Billy Collins, go go GO! You won't regret it.

 My brother getting his book signed by the man himself.

 Hard to see, but that's Tom Lux giving the intro. 

Also hard to see, but that's Billy Collins after he first went up. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I have some random polls for you today, friends. Just go with it, okay?

So. Is the name "Payette" off-putting?

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How would you pronounce it?

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Do you reward yourself after a good writing stretch?

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Do you like candy corn?

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Do you snack while writing?

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Which of these names do you like best?

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Monday, October 4, 2010


Yesterday was Evan's (my husband) birthday. He turned 27.
Hard to believe that he was only 20 when we met. And I a blushing lass of 18...
I tried to find the very oldest picture of us, but it put the "awk" in awkward. Believe me.

This one is from our first year of dating. And yes, it's a picture of a picture; I don't actually have this one in digital format. We were in Carbondale, Illinois at a theatre conference.


Nextly, as you're reading this, I am patiently waiting while my kitty-babies get spayed and neutered and made immune to rabies. I'm killing the day in the BIG CITY!, probably at a bookstore. I'm actually writing this Saturday night, so who knows what the hell I'm actually doing while you're reading this. 

Anyway, my kitties will be pretty drugged up for the ride home. THAT should be fun...


Tomorrow night, I'm going with my brother and friends to see THIS GUY:

This is Billy Collins. He was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. 
I know what you're thinking: poetry reading is LAME! And probably BORING! 
But I assure you, Mr. Collins is not only wonderfully talented, but extremely hilarious. He's the number-one poet I want to see read (besides Robert Frost, know), so I'm uber-excited about this. 

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Making it Official (photos)

This afternoon, I finally sacked up and approached my landlord about our foster kittens, who over the last 3 months have truly integrated themselves into our hearts. 

I'm a big wimp when it comes to any sort of confrontation, even friendly ones like asking for a raise or asking to defy your lease and keep not one, but TWO kittens. Who will become cats. Likely fat cats. 

But you know what? 

He said yes!! 

So, Evan and I are officially, finally pet owners. It's been 5 years since I had a pet I could call my own, and I've been missing it every day. 

Couldn't ask for sweeter intros into adult pet ownership!! 

 Did they really look like this?
 Magoo and Mack the first day we took them home.

Time flies! The kittens are now 14 weeks old and getting their neutering on Monday! But still super-cute.

 Since ^^this^^ picture was taken, I gave up on keeping them off my desk. Moved my golden pothos to the top of the wire rack and threaten them with death if they even look at it. They love my desk... *sigh*