You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.
While at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, I noticed the zoom on my camera was sticking. Then I realized I’d had it 4 years and used it extensively. Time for a new model. So I went online and was quickly overwhelmed by all the choices.
I emailed Z (my go to tech friend) and begged him to find me a couple good options in my price range. I wanted 3 things: decent pics, midweight camera and a finger gripper so I could do one-handed shooting. He sends me links of ultracompact, lightweight, slick cameras that require both hands to shoot. UGH!
I was back at square one and figured screw it. I’ll just stick with my old camera. Then a series of things occurred last Friday and my day went from bad to craptastically unbearable. By the time I got off the subway I was a mess.
I knew if I went home, I’d just cry. So like any smart woman I distracted myself by shopping for a new camera. Without any research. I walked in J&R and talked to the best camera salesman (Victor M. Rodriguez Jr.) for an hour, trying out a dozen models. He listened to what I wanted and what irked me about different models. Staying within my price range, he presented me with my options. He never pressured me to make a decision, understanding that I had to evaluate each model. In the end, I went with a Panasonic Lumix FZ 35.
I got it home and checked the reviews online and it looks like a great model. For once not doing research paid off! But I lucked out in getting an awesome salesperson. I’ve tried it out this week and its super easy to use and very intuitive. I haven’t been this happy with a purchase in a long time.
As a side note, I went to see Clash of the Titans in 3-D. Not worth the money. The story was cool (caveat: I love Greek Mythology). The acting was okay. But the 3-D seemed pretty minimal. Nothing like Alice in Wonderland. I was definitely underwhelmed.
It’s Mother’s Day on May 9th. Have you figured out what to buy for your mom/grandma/mother figure?
I did! (Doing my little happy dance around my desk)
And because my friend always hits me up for ideas I’m going to share some tried and true gift ideas:
- Afternoon Tea in the city at Lady Mendl’s, the St. Regis, or the Ritz
- Spa afternoon for mom
- Planning a weekend trip for her (with you if you get along, otherwise with dad or her bff)
- Digital camera as long as you are willing to provide a tutorial and tech support
- Picture collage of you together through the years
- Anything from Tiffany’s
- Her favorite music that she can’t find anywhere
- A card with a long note/letter about how much she matters to you
Best of luck! What are your best and worst Mother’s Day gift ideas?
Emily Autumn has a great line in one of her poems:
How to break a heart
It is not difficult
Anyone can do it
So could you, if you tried
Just find a light
And switch it off
As easy as blinking
I never realized how easy it is. I mean I’ve had my heart broken a few times. Careless words thrown at me proved just how fragile love is. It shattered from a well-aimed needle or a stray bullet. I always marveled at the power of love and how it bound me to someone. Somehow, forgetting how delicate love could be, unraveling with one snip.
My character’s heart is going to break. I haven’t worked out exactly how. But having gone through it myself, I know it will tear her apart. But she will get through it.
I remember the first time my heart broke what hurt the most: Knowing it wouldn’t kill me. Instead, I would have to endure months of pain. Each day a bitter reminder that I was once again alone in the world, cut loose from the ties that bound me. The sun shined, the bird chirped and the rest of the world could give a rat’s ass about how I felt.
I hated that feeling, hated playing the waiting game. Most of all, I hated knowing that I brought it all upon myself because loving someone always opens you up to hurt. It’s the risk you take.
But I’ve also learned that all those feelings can be locked inside a big trunk and stored in some forgotten corner of your soul. Repressed away until you feel nothing.
In the end, life can be whatever you make of it. Broken hearts mend. Loss is overcome. And one day you smile after months of sadness. I can’t quite flip a switch and make it all go away, but I learned to wallow and then bury it. To mourn and then move on. I think that is perhaps the greatest tragedy in life: Knowing you can survive anything, but wishing you didn’t have to.
How did you deal with your first broken heart? Do you prefer to read about someone bouncing back or wallowing and slowly climbing out of it? Which makes a better heroine in your mind?
I read a really interesting article in The Writer magazine about how the concept of writing what you know makes very little sense. In his article, “Write what you know—and be sorry,” Kris Saknussemm drew comparisons to Mordor and bullet ricocheting around in a shootout and asked what author’s really knew what that felt like. I think the article raised some very valid points.
This phrase of “write what you know” is bandied about without taking the time to examine what it means. If you strictly adhere to it, you will be sorry because the scope of your story is severely impinged upon.
But I think the concept is valid in terms of emotions. If you have never had a moment of fear, can you really do the emotion justice? I think it should be: Draw on your experiences, but always leave room for the imagination.
What do you think? Should a writer stick to something they know, create something without any ties to this world, or aim for some middle ground?
Remember way back in middle school when you learned about levers and pulleys and inclined planes? At the time, nerd that I am, I found it fascinating. Good thing too because it came in super handy last night.
I am a packrat. Trust me this is very important backstory. I save everything. But I have someone staying with me this summer, so I needed to clear space in my apartment. In January, I rented storage space and began the process of cleaning closets, cabinets, and drawers. I threw out ten bags of garbage. Gave away 2 bags of stuff.
Packed up 20 some odd boxes. Here’s the thing, I packed the boxes until they were full with no thought about how much they weighed. I have a super strong male bff, who can lift anything, and super strong doormen, who can lend a hand.
Another important fact: I have an artificial disk (long story for another time), so I don’t lift anything over 20 lbs. Ever.
Due to circumstances beyond my control (my bff sadly lost a loved one + I was sick for a bit), the boxes remained in my dining room area for a month. Finally, last night I could take it no longer. I went to ask a doorman for help, but the weakest looking one was on duty. Okay onto plan B. I’d move it myself. But how?
I got a rolling cart and brought it to my front door. Then I pushed the heaviest box on my hands and knees down the hallway. When I got to the rug, HERE’S WHERE LEVERAGE COMES IN. I tilted the box and slid it over the lip of the rug without exerting much force. Then I slide it all the way to the second rug, which I ended up tossing aside because it was at the corner of the hall and I couldn’t get the right leverage without twisting my back, which is an absolute NO-NO. I got the door open and once again tilted the box so that the front leaned against the cart. Then I slowly pushed it up. (Think inclined plan here).
Phew hardest part done. I grabbed my fake christmas tree with the lights, the box of ornaments and a small box (3 separate trips). Tossed a few other small odds and ends onto the cart. Then I rolled it to the elevator and down to the storage area.
Here’s where things get dicey. There is a ramp down to the storage area and I knew the cart would gain serious momentum. Instead of fighting it, I went with it. No stress to my back.
Then I wheeled the cart to my storage area and figured out how to pack the light stuff into my space. As luck would have it, right in the front of my the storage locker was a box on the ground, which meant all I had to do was maneuver the cart to the doorway and slide the box off the cart and onto the other one. Again, no strain for my back.
What’s the point of this story? Besides the whole school did pay off in real life thing? Anything is possible.
I decided something had to be done. I decided it was possible to do it. I decided I would not injure myself doing it. And I made it so. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment and reminded me that the limits to what we can accomplish are in our minds. With a little improvising, I was able to move a 50+ lb box. Something I never thought I could do without hurting myself.
Did you ever read a draft of something you wrote and feel vaguely unhappy with it? Like an outfit that doesn’t work but you can’t say what isn’t working. Worse still, every time you try to pinpoint the source of the problem, it escapes your grasp. So you couldn’t say something is wrong, but in your gut you feel it isn’t right? So you jot down a note with a broad indicator like: not flowing, awkward, character feels weird.
You hope that on the next read through, these words will trigger something in your mind and you’ll be able to explain what is wrong and fix it.
Inevitably, when I walk away and start doing something else, a tiny part of my mind keeps mulling it over. Until Eureka! I know exactly what I don’t like/what is wrong with the passage.
Then the revisions come fast and furious. Like someone else is guiding my hand. Suddenly I know with utmost certainty what doesn’t belong and what needs to be fixed. I slap myself in the forehead for not seeing it sooner. New word choices, better sentence structure, cut redundancies.
In the end, I feel extremely satisfied with my work. Exhausted from working hard, I lay on the couch to watch tv until sleep became an absolute necessity.
Does it take you a while to identify what is not working in your writing? How do you handle the revision process?
I came across an interesting post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog that got me thinking. Well, first it got me to comment. Then it kept rolling around in my head and finally I decided to blog about it. The gist of it was about someone’s first foray into writing and finding that though the daydreaming was fun, the writing was…well not so fun.
My first reaction: WRITING NOT FUN?! ARE YOU CRAZY?
My second reaction: Thinking back to when I first started…It was really frustrating. I had all these images in my head. My daydreams were better suited for movies than novels. And translating what I imagined into a book format was, well, hellish.
I despaired that I would never be able to do it. But I kept writing, persevering through it. And in the end I had a craptastic draft. But I had a starting point. And with each round of revisions, queries, and rejections, I learned. Painful? Yup. Worth doing? Definitely. Did I think so at the time? Uncertain.
For me, I turned it into a competition. I was always an overachiever. And that made it fun. I was competing to become a better writer. My last draft was my arch-enemy and I had to leave him in the dust. I read other paranormal mysteries to get a feel for it. Kinda like a self-study course. I took a few online courses. I read magazines and blogs on writing. What is my point? I made writing fun for me. I set it up in a format that didn’t feel like work to me.
How do you feel about writing? What are your secret tricks to make it more fun and less work?
Sometimes I overhear snippets of conversation and I memorize it for future use, knowing at some point one of my characters will use the line. When my close friends read my stories they are always amazed at how tidbits of my daily life work their way in.
Anyway, I am storing the following lines ripped from interactions at the Botanic Gardens for future use. But they made me giggle to hear them so I figured I’d share them now.
a) Picture it, gorgeous rows of cherry blossoms in full bloom. The sun peeking through the clouds. Then a mom turns to her son and daughter (approximately 8-10 years of age) and says, “You are ruining this for me. I will have to come back here alone on Tuesday to enjoy it.”
The son, sounding decidedly annoyed with his mother’s dramafest, replies, “Mom, take the picture.”
b) This was overheard while strolling among the tulips. Spray Tan Barbie to über Jock Ken, “When did I ever say I was going to leave you?”
I almost felt bad for this guy. Because clearly if he brought it up, she said it with her actions. I love when people have serious discussions in public.
This is one of my favorites from years ago.
It was my first apartment and this couple next door was usually very quiet until one night they got into a terrible fight. She’s screaming at him about how insensitive he is and how she hates him. He growls back at her, “You’ve ruined my life!”
Hands down, he won that argument. I mean what is worse than ruining someone’s life? I remember her trying to come back at him and he growled it again. Then she piped down. I guess she realized she’d done enough damage for the night.
I love the things we say in the moment. People are such characters. Myself included of course.
What is the craziest/funniest/most outrageous thing you’ve ever heard people say?
After checking to see the sun was out and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens’ website (that I’ve been stalking) indicated it was peak bloom time for the cherry blossoms….
L. and I met up and subwayed out the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens!
Often in writing guides, you hear about showing instead of telling. In honor of this rule, I will not fill today’s blog with long descriptions of what I did. Instead, I am going to show rather than tell you about our adventures!
After the tulips, lilacs, azaleas, conifers, and cherry blossoms, we headed to Park Slope for some food. We ended up at Barrio and had a nice meal. Then we hit the Cacao Bar. Finally after dusk we found our way back to the subway and came home. Another glorious afternoon spent with L.
Yesterday, however, I worked my butt off sketching out plots for a few more books and also editing TCOTRR. I also did laundry. This is, of course, my rationalization for playing hooky today.
Between my day job, edits, drafting, household chores, taking care of the dog, and exercising, I hardly ever find time to just, well, relax. But Sunday, I scheduled girl time with L. Damn it, we were going to hang out, catch Avenue Q and eat dinner. For once, my day was not going to be scheduled down to the last minute.
Of course, it started out rocky with the subways running on some incomprehensible schedule. After waiting 10 minutes, I opted for luxury and took a cab to midtown. I got to read the Abbey Cooper mystery novel and see the city. A nice change of pace from my frenetic subway commute to midtown every day. Traffic was good and $15 later and 20 minutes early I arrived at our meeting place: 9th and 50th. Nowhere to sit, so I wandered down 50th looking for a nice stoop. Instead, I stumbled on an outdoor area I hadn’t been to since 2001.
With Hell’s Kitchen the new gay mecca, I felt like I was sashaying down the runway while looking for a place to sit. Hard core people watchers. Most of the plaza was in the sun but I found a spot of shade and continued reading. Ah reading outside, hadn’t done this in a year. L found me and we immediately got into catch up mode. We hadn’t seen each other in months. So of course, boy chatter, work chatter, and compliments abounded.
We got into the Theater for Avenue Q and were amazed by the layout. The New World Theaters houses 5 or so different small theaters. Multiple sets of bathrooms and lobbies for each play/musical. It was such a change from the typical huge theater with a 7 stall bathroom for 100s of women. (I hate public restrooms because women for some reason can’t get in out of their clothes with any level of efficiency–hence the long line) But multiple public restrooms means I can pee and be back before the next half of the show begins.
I immediately hit the ladies’ room and then made a beeline for the souvenirs purchasing a hoodie and t-shirt. L was hesitant to spend money. We decided to go back at intermission. L got the soundtrack and Bad Idea Bear finger puppets.
Avenue Q was awesome! L and I couldn’t stop laughing. From the first song to the last, we were in stitches. “It Sucks to be Me”, “The Internet is For Porn”, and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love)” are just a sampling of why this musical rocked.
For 2+ hours, I forgot about my edits, my chores, my life and was pulled into theirs. Afterwards, I felt relaxed, so L and I wandered around in search of a restaurant for dinner. We went down 9th and ended up on restaurant row, taking a few flyers and scouting down to 9th and 42nd. Then we decided on tapas. I’d never had them before. I know crazy right? Been to tapas places but usually just for drinks. Don’t know why.
We ended up at Meson Sevilla and had a delicious dinner. Weirdly, the main menu looked Italian (though we were in a Spanish restaurant), so we went with the tapas menu. Cod Croquettes, Ham Croquettes, sausages in red wine, stuffed mushrooms, pollo villaroy, meat empanadas, jamon serrano….and a pitcher of sangria. L kept refilling my glass everytime I wasn’t looking. We ate until stuffed and then tried their crème brûlée. They out did themselves with dinner and had good service, but dessert might be best skipped. It was okay, it just wasn’t worth the extra calories.
I didn’t get any chores done, but it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Sometimes you need to take time off from all your work and just chill.
I think it helped because this week, I plowed through 2 more chapters of edits and am at 89,880 word count in a book that was at 105,000 words in November. There are still 5 more chapters to edit and then the book is ready. Which means I could get the word count lower.