Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Chicken WHAT?!?!

Chicken WHAT?!?!

 Photo by Riverseal (flickr)

 

So, last week I shared how I participated in the Camp Marathon for NaNoWriMo (the NaNoThon).  Well, today I had two great pieces of news related to the NaNoThon that really made up for a long, tiring Monday.

 

Not that my day was bad or anything.  Far from it.  It was just a 10 hour day, from start to leaving work, including a 4:00 pm meeting that went until just before 6:00.  Then there was work to finish after that.  This is my normal Monday, and is the curse of working with a client that’s 15-16 hours ahead of us (4:00 our time is currently 9:00 am their time).  I’m still enjoying it and learning a lot, and hey: overtime’s alright.

 

But!  It was long and I was tired by the end of it.  So just imagine my excitement when I got home and checked the mail to find my Camp NaNo donor goodies awaiting me!  A brand new patch to add to my NaNoWriMo hoodie (that I’ll have to show you sometime).

 

Then, I checked my e-mail to learn that I was one of the lucky people that won a NaNoThon Donor Bonus prize!  So I have a Chris Baty Studios poster coming my way (which are beautiful and completely writer-themed.  It will likely be donated to my local NaNoWriMo group if it’s one I already have), along with a subscription to The Writer and an album download from Debs and Errol (which I have been listening to while writing this blog post).

 

So there you go: a rather uninspired Monday that ended up with me feeling pretty excited about NaNoWriMo stuff (we got some more good news about this year’s NaNo plans with our new partner, which I am saving for just the right moment to reveal) and life in general (a health insurance rebate cheque?  Yes please!)

 

What was the best thing that happened to you today?

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I do this to myself in the offseason?

So on Saturday, The Office of Letters and Light had their first annual Camp NaNoWriMo marathon.  Eight hours of writerly goodness interspersed with livestreams by NaNoWriMo staff, and I sat through all eight of them, which let me catch up on the writing I was behind by, and was a lot of fun.

 

But woah, was I tired by the end of it!  I don’t usually spend that much time straight working on much of anything (my day job entails a lot of getting up and talking to people) and it was mentally and physically exhausting.  Which is funny, because I’ve done 12 hour write-ins as an ML (which means being peppy and loud and organizing a bunch of people who don’t always want to be organized) and I don’t remember being that tired.  Then again, I deliberately dedicate a lot more energy to things during NaNo time so that could be throwing off my perception.  Maybe it’s just a different kind of tired.

 

It was nice spending time on what I’ve heard referred to as my “heart job” and I really like that phrase as a description of the work I feel called to do.  I can see myself spending long days like that on writing in the future, although I do think I will split the time up between writing and editing.  8,000 words in one day is excessive, even for me, to continue on an ongoing basis (note to any cyborgs who might read this – your mileage may vary).  But it will definitely be few and far between while I still work the day job (unfortunate, but a reality of life, I suppose).

 

On the plus side, said day job is going very well, and despite the 8,000 words I was behind in camp, isn’t sapping as much of my writing energy as the last job did (no, this time it was two colds in a row).  Only time will tell how things go in the future though.  The biggest thing for me is to have a good mentor/supervisor, and I have that at this job for sure.

Well… I’m back!

Hello friends!  I’m back!!

Yes, I was gone for a rather long time.  And I do apologize for that absence.  I have plenty of excuses, but that’s all that they are, so we’ll just leave them unsaid, shall we?

 

For the last half of February, I devoted myself to finishing the re-write of Fighter One.  Of course, I failed somewhat spectacularly in getting it done before we left for vacation on March 2.  I feel a little bad about it, but life exploded right before I left (when the client is visiting from Australia, you work late, because he’s only there for a limited time and there’s lots to do).  In fact, thus far I’m 3/3 on clients visiting the week before I go on holiday.  So clearly, if we need the client to come at a specific time, I should book a trip for the week after.

 

Vacation was a wonderful break, although it had some challenges of it’s own.  Not, as I expected, to do with hoteling right between mom and dad, and my sister and her boyfriend: traveling with the whole family actually went surprisingly well and was a lot of fun.  No, the challenges had to do with wi-fi being slow (which in itself was okay, as I got a nice break being forced to disconnect), a fire at the resort, and the cold Mark and I both caught right before we left to come home.

 

Yes, we caught a cold.  And there was an electrical fire at the resort, which  was just an adventure for us, but ended up shutting off power to half the rooms.  The worst part for us was that the pool bar had no blender, so we could only get drinks on the rocks there.  Sad.  Seriously, though, everyone was okay, although a few people had to go to the hospital for observation, and several people were displaced for a night or two.  My sister and her boyfriend bunked with us so that a family with two young girls could have their room rather than having to leave.  And our new friend from Calgary (we met him at Carribean night!) and his wife got to live in their ‘bat cave’ (what they termed their powerless hotel room) for a few nights.

 

I will say this: the resort and the staff were wonderful, the food was amazing, and everyone handled the fire with good humour and maturity.  Although it made things hard for people, it also pulled some people together, and I think we made better friends of our resort mates because of it than we would have otherwise.  I can’t wait to go back!

 

Now that I am home, I’ve spent the last week recovering from the Mexico cold that still hasn’t left me (fortunately it was only a cold and nothing worse) and I think I might be on the mend.  Writing will be slow for the rest of the month as I catch up with house chores and other things that got put off for the frantic novel finishing spree, and then by the cold.  So hopefully I will be back in the saddle come April, for Camp NaNo.  Who knows?

Writing is…

…rewriting is rewriting is rewriting.

 

I have no idea who first said that, although I probably should know.  That’s a familiar cycle, though, that I’ve been stuck in for the last year or so on “Fighter One”.  It’s all for a good cause, of course, as it’s making the story better and better (and better).  But it doesn’t make the actual work any easier.

 

Let me back up.  Over the summer, I spent a significant amount of time reorganizing the novel, making it more streamlined, more believable, and generally less shitty.  It was good work, and I was pleased with it.  I finished the actual edits just before the end of the year, and it sat in a digital drawer, until the beginning of February, when I re-read it.

 

That was an adventure all on it’s own.  For the most part, I actually enjoyed reading the story, and had honestly forgotten parts of it.  Of course, there were parts that I absolutely loved, and some that I loathed.  Most of it was solid, plot wise, but not as strong as I might have liked and there was a definite mushy middle.  But I did manage to “close” the book with the smug sense of satisfaction that I only get after finishing a really good read.  Admittedly, part of that might have been because this particular read was drafted by yours truly, but nonetheless, I thought there was some potential to the novel.

 

There’s also a lot of truly boring parts.  And that’s what I’m trying to fix right now: the incredibly boring parts, especially the mushy middle that needs to be propped up with a tent pole.

 

I have a deadline of the end of the month, so that my fabulous beta reader (also known as my almost-husband) can read it over our vacation.  That’s put me under the gun to fix quite a few things in the next two weeks, and the final result definitely won’t be polished, but I hope it’ll be ready for his plot-related review.  I got 8 chapters edited this weekend (out of 29 total), and some of them definitely needed a lot of work.  I’m confident that, outside of the middle, the rest of the book won’t need quite so much effort, so I might even make my end of the month goal.

 

I wouldn’t be a project manager if I didn’t tell you that I had it all plotted out on a calendar on my wall and I’m crossing each chapter off on a list as I complete them. So I will tell you that.  Only under duress of course.

 

And now, I have a few other things to do before I retire, and tomorrow I have work and then a birthday party, so I think I’ll be off!  Until next week!

Blue Monday

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Image by Ron Bennetts

 

So, today was apparently “Blue Monday”.  The most depressing day of the year where the holiday bills are starting to catch up and the resolutions are starting to be broken.  And yet, I feel pretty good today.

 

Some of that is undoubtedly because I just got off the treadmill and I always feel better when I exercise.  I didn’t do much, just a slow walk while watching some TV on my iPad, but since we only just got the treadmill set up yesterday, it seemed to go pretty well.  So far I’m pleased with the setup – it’s got internal speakers and a perfect platform for my iPad, is nice and smooth for walking/running on, and even has flat armrests that I can use to support a walking desk!  No more sedentary clicking around on Facebook for me!

 

Some of it is also because I again got more positive feedback at work today and, although the job is proving challenging, I do feel like it is kind of something that I can do.  It means juggling priorities and personalities, but at least I’m starting to feel like the team likes me and is supporting both me and the project.  Also, positive feedback right before a three month review is a good thing!

 

But really, I think the main reason that I feel pretty good is actually a more general one.  I haven’t done much writing in the last three weeks, although I have made a point of working a little more on my goals of spending more time planning and editing and I have a couple of semi-secret projects I’m working on (one of which I will reveal shortly), but I’ve also made my health my priority as well.

 

The term “blue” has meant a lot to me for the last couple of years, as I’ve been struggling on and off with Depression and stress.  My health has been generally not all that good as I’ve been less conscientious about my eating and a lot more sedentary.  And I feel just gross because of it and my whole self is suffering.  But the changes I’m making (including the aforementioned treadmill and a new standing desk I’ll probably blog about later) are making me feel positive even if I only started them in earnest today.  It didn’t hurt that I managed to eat “right” with little to no temptation today and that my partner has issued a walking challenge to get me a little more active during my days.

 

Without getting too introspective, I think that Blue Monday is a good day for me to change my negative mental, physical, and emotional states that have kept me from enjoying life as much as I might like.  And if I feel better, sleep better, and look better, I’ll be happy.  Besides, I might just find that I get more inspiration for writing too!

On Friends and Family

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Image from PublicDomainPictures.net

 

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of attending my very first engagement party.  As in, the first one that I’ve ever attended.  It also happened to be my own engagement party.

 

My future in-laws hosted it and they did an amazing job of it.  There was the perfect amount of food for the humblingly large number of people that showed up, and some of our favorites were there.  There was even a cake to practice cutting, the color of which matched the decorations they had set up.  There were toasts and speeches, and a few laughs and tears shed.  And it was wonderful.

 

But the one thing that stuck with me the most is that we are both amazingly blessed to have so many people that love and support us.  Family from as far as three hours away drove out to be with us, and friends that we hadn’t seen in years.  The two families seemed to get along very well and the friends, as usual, had a great time.  I was busy running back and forth between the two or three groups that always seemed to develop but I managed to chat a little bit with almost everyone.  I guess it’s good practice for the eventual wedding.  But I am amazingly thankful that so many people made time in their weekend to come celebrate with us.  I love them all and I’m so very lucky.

Four Years and Four Weeks

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Four years and four weeks ago, I sat down at a table in a local family restaurant, not knowing for a moment that my life was about to change.

 

It had been a rough year for me, you see: I had moved from Grande Prairie back to my hometown and I was struggling to fit back in.  I was still living out of boxes in parent’s basement (until I found a place of my own) and my former high school friends had their own lives.  A lot changes when you haven’t lived at home for seven years.

 

I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo that year.  I had decided it.  It was too much trouble and too much stress.  The last two years had been marginal successes, at best.  And I didn’t need that kind of stress in my life.  Or so I had told myself.  Of course, my friends, and fate, had other plans.  When I expressed the above to a good friend, she immediately shut down all of my rational excuses why I wouldn’t be writing a novel in a month.  Instead, she gave me a new challenge: “write 5,000 words and meet new friends.”

 

I wrote 5,000 words that first weekend and just kept going.  You see, for the first time since I had started NaNo, I was spending a significant amount of time around people like me: other Wrimos.  That changed everything, including my outlook on writing.  Of course, I was writing a horrible Mary Sue fanfic that shall never see the light of day… but I was writing.  And having fun.  And meeting people!

 

And then, November 14, 2008 came.  The day when I innocently sat all alone at a table at the Ricky’s.  You see, fate had plans for me that day; thank goodness it’s more clever than I was.

 

I wasn’t alone for long.  One of the other Wrimos that I had sort-of-befriended came to keep me from feeling too lonely.  Then the Municipal Liaison at the time sat two “shy” girls at the table.  Of course, the four of us ended up singing songs from Harry Potter Puppet Pals, but who cares?  We were having fun, and I was hanging out with people that got me.  I was smiling.

 

And then someone else joined the table.  A young man with an amusing shirt, a hat, and an engaging smile.  I don’t really remember much else about what he looked like then, but I do recall that I couldn’t seem to stop talking to him.  I still haven’t stopped.

 

Three weeks ago, four years and one week to the day that we had met, that man asked me to marry him.

 

Of course, I said yes.  The last four years have been among the most amazing and life changing years ever.  He has laughed with me, cried with me, grieved with me, and grown with me.  He has challenged my beliefs and everything I thought that I wanted from life without ever making me feel like less of a person.  He has supported me without question no matter what was going right or wrong in my life.  He stood by my side when my world crumbled around me, and he was still there when the chaos stopped.

 

He constantly inspires me to aim for new heights, both as a writer and a person, mostly without even trying.  He pushes me to be better, to do better, and to set goals that I never would have otherwise considered.  He always listens to me vent when I just need to vent, but offers amazingly insightful advice when that’s what I need.  He likes my friends and loves my family (and I love his).  He completes me in nearly every way that it is physically and emotionally possible to do so, and I find myself loving him even more every day.

 

I don’t have the words to express how honored and humbled I am to have found him and I cannot wait to celebrate the next phase of our lives together, in front of the family and friends that have helped to shape us and our relationships.  I love him more than any mere words can say, and I cannot wait to see what other plans fate has in store for us.

So… This Happened

So…

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This happened.

 

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Then this happened.

 

All in all, it’s been a pretty amazing week so far (and it’s not over yet!).  Some highlights include:

  • Tea with friends new and old
  • Meeting an adorable pair of newlyweds and some newcomers at the Meet and Greet
  • Writing in a neat little bagel shop we discovered
  • Reaching my 50K in NaNo (and promptly doing nothing for 48 hours afterwards)
  • Overdosing on candy
  • Finding the perfect gift for my ML Secret Santa
  • Petting a shark and a ray
  • Eating my first sushi boat
  • Visiting the Office of Letters and Light and learning that I look great in a Viking hat
  • Watching a beautiful Pacific Octopus charm the employees of the aquarium
  • Baby Ostriches!!!
  • Dim sum in China Town
  • Meeting colourful characters on the streets of San Fran

 

Watch for more pictures and updates next week, as I’ll have more to share soon!  Tomorrow, we bike across the Golden Gate.  Wish my rear end luck (it’ll need it).  Until then?

 

Have a baby ostrich.

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Sorry, it’s been a while…

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Image from Dreamstime

 

But I have been BUSY!

 

It’s NaNo season, which around here means I’m trying to keep order at meets, frantically trying to confirm events with venues, bemoaning how they keep losing our reservation, and spending my work days overcaffinated.  Also, writing.  I have to do that somewhere in there.  At least I’m on track with my goals and the story is even starting to turn into something I kind of like.  It’s not proceeding exactly as I planned (what story ever does?), but I like some of the twists that it’s taking.  Lots to consider for the re-write.

 

NaNo is a different energy every year, and I’m still trying to figure out this year’s energy.  Personally, it’s been a year of fits and starts – I started my new job on November 5 so I spent the first four days getting my word count to 25K.  It’s a good thing that I did, because apparently working for 8 hours a day is something I am no longer used to.  But I think it’s going well.  My Project Engineer advised me to “sparkle”.  I think I can do that… where’s my glitter?

 

Seriously, the new job seems like a good move so far.  I’m learning a lot already, mostly about the specifics of the project and the team, and it’s a very exciting project to be involved with.  Fraught with challenges of the non-technical sort, of course, which is not something I’m necessarily good at solving, but I’ve done it before./  I’ll be working under a Senior Project Engineer and the Project Manager, and they both seem very reasonable to work with.  A lot like people I’ve worked with before, so I feel like I already know what they expect of me.  Right now, I’m still getting my feet wet and learning all that I can.  I get to meet the client next week!  Should be fun.

 

Anyway, you can sort of see how I’ve been busy.  Busy and tired.  And I apologize for not checking in here more regularly.  I wasn’t foolish enough to try the Epic Month of Blog posts in addition to NaNo and MLing.  I think the idea is really cool (write a blog post a day during the month of November), but I did something like it in April along with Script Frenzy, and it was too much.   So you’ll have to live with the little bit of me that you have here!

 

I promise to try and find some time next week to come back here and update you all.  I’m hoping that I won’t/shouldn’t be quite as worn out by the day job, now that I’m starting to get used to using my brain again!