Ch-ch-changes

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? After all, I’ve been in one place for more than a year. That’s right, folks. I’m moving again!

Well, it’s not completely official. Not yet. We’re in the offer/counter-offer stage. For those of you who haven’t been with me very long, I move a lot. Since 2008, I’ve moved four times, not counting now. It’s because we not only wanted to try out several different areas of town, we wanted to rent until we found the perfect place for us, and it looks like we finally have. Now we want to buy.

It’s made me think a lot about the sheer amount of stuff in my life, stuff that I’ve packed and unpacked and now will have to pack and unpack again. There is the desire to just chuck it all and start over, but it’s more than that. Being confronted time and again by the things I surround myself with has actually changed how I see those things. Objects that used to give me joy just don’t anymore. That’s when I had to start wondering, was it just the hassle, or is it me that’s changed?

Take books. I love stories. I always will. And I like physical books (though I also adore my Kindle). I like their smell and their sound when you flip the pages. I like bookmarks and have a small collection. At one time, I collected books and had over 2000.

Now I’ve pared that down considerably, giving books to friends, donating them to libraries or Goodwill. I used to sell them to Half Price, but since that would only gain me store credit, I decided that giving them away was the way to go. I’ve kept those that mean something to me. I’ve kept my favorite authors, but most that I read, I just…let go. It didn’t give me the pain that it once would have if I’d been forced to part with them.

The only other collection I have that rivaled them is my pen collection.

And it's grown since then

And it’s grown since then

This was taken in 2009 or 2010, so the pens have grown considerably. They were starting to take over my desk, and I began to wonder if I care about them as much as I used to. It gave me joy once just to look at them. Now, not so much. So far, all I’ve done is move the bulk of them to a bookshelf, but once I start packing, I think I might go through them, pick out those that resonate emotionally with me, and slowly give the rest away. Maybe I’ll even include them in any giveaways I do in the future.

It’s bittersweet, like most change. I’m sad that I don’t care about the pens or the books like I used to. It reminds me of when I drifted away from toys in childhood. I remember trying to play with them again after I’d lost interest, as if I was letting them down by forgetting them. I tried to summon the joy I once had, but I just couldn’t. Now I’ve started looking at other things and saying, “Do I still love that? Do I need it?” I’m resisting the urge to go hog wild and get rid of almost everything. I’m afraid I might come to regret that. And I’m also trying not to beat myself up if I do want to keep some things that make me happier just by having them around. I still have quite a few journals that I’ve never used, but they’re sparkly and pretty, and I like to stare at them sometimes.

Maybe that’s what I’ll rate everything by. Stare-ability. On a scale of 1-10, how much do I want to just sit and stare at this? Seems as good a measurement as any.

Have your collecting habits evolved over time? Is there any collection you once loved that now you think you can do without?

IWW: How I wound up here

When I first decided I wanted to write female main characters, it was hard not to write ABOUT women, about what pressures I felt as a woman or what impacts I thought society had on women or yeah, yeah, yeah. (I know you were starting to tune out right there.)

To counteract this and write a story that starred a woman instead of being about her, I moved my story to outer space.

Well, that’s not completely true. I wanted to write stories set in outer space anyway, or at least on other planets. Since one of my first college loves was anthropology, I created an anthropologist studying alien species in order to help her human colony survive.

You win this fabulous jungle background!

She felt tremendous pressure to do her duty, to do what was expected no matter what she might want for herself. Those pesky societal constraints sneaked in there again, like ticks, or gnats. Stupid societal constraints…

Crap.

On the same planet, years later, I wrote about a space marine. She followed her own path, walked to the beat of her own drummer. She knew about sacrifice, but she chose to do it; no one ever forced her. She was huge and muscular, and too tough to cry.

Barbie dolls can’t flex enough to truly bring the gun show to town.

I still like her, but she was a bit of an overreaction.

For my next female MC, I swung far the other way. I wrote about a dancer who could take care of herself but wasn’t afraid to cry or love or wear pretty dresses, you know, all that girl shit. She embraced what some might call the feminine things in life. (In real life, I think this is when I fell back in love with glitter.)

No matter what I did, she looked drunk, okay.

I discovered that female characters could cover all these ranges, could cover every range. They could be insecure, easily swayed anthropologists, tough-as-nails space marines and dress-wearing dancers. I realized there was no one role model everyone could look up to. Not everyone can be a superwoman, but all my characters had one thing in common, when the chips were down, they were all brave in their own ways. I think I mixed them all together to make to create the heroines of The Pyramid Waltz.

Prom 1996

Two women, each brave in a different way, each very different people. Starbride (on the left) is a thinker. Katya is a fighter. In different situations, each is cautious or impulsive. They both love jewelry and nice clothes, though they have very different styles. Katya takes sacrifice to extremes and needs Starbride’s level head. Starbride tries to do everything herself and needs Katya’s helping hand.

And it doesn’t hurt that I can easily make them into Barbies. (I do wish, though, that the Barbies of color were a little darker. I think the one I bought is supposed to be Hispanic, but her skin tone is even lighter than her blond counterpart.)

And now I have enough dolls to stage this:

Yes, that is a woman dancing with a panda in the background. That’s what you took from this?

Aaaahhh, so good. Yeah, I didn’t put the panda and the pear together. That would’ve been…weird.

But I can’t stop doing this.

I know, it looks like there’s some ass-cupping there. These dolls are hard to pose!

Or this.

The untold Disney story.

Or if I’m honest, this.

A love that will not be denied…

Who’s up for writing a ninja/pear romance with me?

And a super duper p.s.: My friend John Clark has started a Kickstarter for his novel, Red Chords! Let’s all go help him out. If you’re a fan of Laurel K. Hamilton or Patricia Briggs, I think you’ll really go for this.

p.s.s It’s not even my birthday yet, and I’ve already received some wonderful presents from my writer friends:

Soo……much…..glitter…..*drool*

What’s goin on with you guys? Writing news? Birthday news? Barbie news? What can I say, it’s all I think about.

Really? Still with the blurgh?

I kinda disappeared on ya last week. Sorry about that. In the midst of my awakening cold, I went to San Diego for a bachelorette party! We went to the zoo, hung out with some friends, went clubbing (ha!) and had an all around awesome time.

I ha at the clubbing because I’ve never been and let’s just say, I left it a bit late. It did remind me how happy I am to be married, though. ^_^

I had really hoped to have another IWW post done by now, but the cold that I held off for most of the trip hit me like a brick upon my return, and I’m only just now feeling good enough to get out of bed. I’m sure I left some fun comments on some of your blogs in the midst of my Nyquil induced coma. I swear I’ll have another IWW post soon, as soon as I can drag my butt up the stairs to my special Barbie photo studio. (Otherwise known as the spare bedroom closet!)

To help you along, here are some of the goodies I acquired on my trip or just before.

Very sparkly purse!

In the sunlight, I can blind muggers!

It’s more clutch size than handbag size, but you’d be amazed what I can cram in there. Um, never mind that.

San Diego had an awesome pen/paper store, where I got the following pens, erasers and sparkly paper! (Aren’t the exclamation points making you excited?!?!!!) !

If I had a sense of smell at the moment...

No idea what I'll use this for...

The pens and erasers will join the enormous flock of office supplies on my desk (which come in flocks) and the paper… Well, maybe I’ll find some Barbie use for it. Paper garments? Backdrops? Panda regalia? The possibilities are…nowhere near endless. There are pretty much just three.

Here’s a close up of the pencils and erasers.

Double Yummy!

OMG, you guys. Milk scented!

I expected these to smell awful, and some of them do, but the grape ones are right on. Now I just have to figure out why they’re all in milk containers… And the milk one smells as bad as you think it does. Trust me.

So, what’s been going on in the healthy world? Does on even exist anymore?

The after Thanksgiving wind-down wind-up

It’s so hard to get my brain off vacation, to dig it out of a turkey-induced coma and back to freakin’ work! We’re not even into December yet, and it’s looking like a busy busy time. Everyone’s scrambling to get things done before the end of the year. Companies are looking to spend those last budget dollars, so all the independent contractors like my husband are set on “Go.”

I’m trying to push full-steam ahead on my editing. The end of the year is such a milestone, and I want to be hip-deep in edits by the time it gets here, letting that burst of energy around New Year’s carry me through the middle of the book all the way to the end. There’s just Christmas in the way.

Oh, crap! Presents, decorating, holiday parties! When you’re looking at a busy year, you forget these things are fun. Right now all my friends and family are in danger of getting pens for Christmas just because I have writing on my mind. I guess if they don’t like the pens, they can always give them back…

In case you missed it yesterday, I did an interview on Tracy S. Morris’s blog! If you haven’t seen it yet, please drop by and say hello.

I felt crazy last week and decided to walk as far as I could in my enormous neighborhood. I ended up with six miles under my shoes by the time I was done, and took this to mark the occasion:

The end of the sidewalk. Past this was the entrance ramp to the freeway. Good thing I stopped.

How is your December looking? Do you even bother with any kind of holiday, or is it just another month?

Nano? Done. ^_^

I hit 50K in 11 days this year. Even I hate me, just a little.

My physical therapist thinks my back pain is because a bulge on one of vertebral discs. Good news is that he thinks it can be corrected with some back exercises. Wish me luck. Agonizing, tiresome luck.

So, now that I’ve finished my sequel, I have to begin the editing process. This is also pretty tedious in the beginning, but it does let me use a shitload of pens and sparkly notebooks to get my thoughts and plot points in order. That’s always a cause for celebration. My current fave notebooks have “University of Style: Glitter” on them. You don’t know how much I want to go to the University of Style and major in Glitter with a minor in Sequins. I could go all the way to PhD.

My horde of cool pens (and cool pens ARE measured in hordes…or shitloads) are also good for drawing maps, something else I need to do to get my made-up fantasy world in order. I’m probably more excited to be using all my pens and markers than I should be. *happy sigh* Maybe I’ll even get out the construction paper, the artiest of the papers. Craft night at my house!

What are you working on? Does it involve hordes (or shitloads) of pens? Glitter? I want to know about all of it, especially the glitter. Marilou, do you ever work with sequined fabric? Someday, I’m going to make a sequined something for my lab, Polly, since she’s so goodhearted about wearing clothes. It will be the cutest thing ever.

Finish line, er, not the shoe store

Hey there, campers. It’s been quite a week! Due to general running around and circumstances far far beyond my control, I haven’t gotten much writing done, so I’m using today to sprint for the finish line on my current project. I hope to be back to talk to you about something relevant next week.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on my current favorite pens. I already had a pack, but these were ON SALE. Why yes, it is a big deal, thank you for asking.

Sorry about the lack of light. When I used the flash, all you could see was flash, but trust me, they’re brilliant.

The small press march continues

I submitted to another small press today. Blurgh. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I can say that in the same tone of voice as, “I went to the bank today,” or “I’m off to buy some throw pillows.” There’s hope, resignation and a sense of the everyday about the whole thing. I can’t say I get the exact same mishmash of feelings about throw pillows, though.

I’m doing pretty good on my current project. Spending most of yesterday at IHOP eating waffles and writing helped a lot. I’m definitely going out somewhere again this week to see if I can keep my roll going.

As for pen displays, I haven’t started trying to make a wall display yet. You all had some excellent suggestions, and I think the one that I might try first are those foam shapes that you buy at hobby stores. From what I’ve seen they, have all sorts of shapes and I could paint them and then mash pens down into them. I’d have to figure out how to hang them on the wall….

What’s taking up all your recent time?

Deep in outline land

Some stories I can write from the hip, just going along, balls out, nano style. My newest project, however, is going to take some planning.

And lots more research. I forgot what a pain it is to write in the real world. I’m getting out my note cards, firing up my pens and outlining and plotting like I never have before. (WTF?!?! How does one fire up a pen?)

It’s hard to choose between my lovelies, though. I have so many pens now that they’re pushing me off my desk. I need a way to display them on the wall. Any suggestions?

Some work done, Halle-freakin-lujah!

So, I seemed to have gotten over my writing slump, at least partly. I haven’t been writing much, but I’ve been doing it just about everyday. The cure happened to be very different from what I expected. Instead of taking my computer to a change of venue, I took myself.

Leaving my computer behind, I went for walks, or cleaned my extremely nasty house. I took the dogs out and played with the cats. I bought new pens *drool*. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I have a problem.) But it worked. Shopping and exercising put me in the mood to write as much as watching tv or relaxing never did. (As an aside, my reading had slowed down along with my writing in my slump, but since I’ve been getting out of this chair more often, I’ve devoured two whole books!)

I feel like days have been longer and more productive. During my slump, the idea of a prolonged writing spree was frightening. An entire weekend of watching the cursor blink on a sea of white background? No thanks. Now I feel like I could do it. I didn’t need rest. I needed rejuvenation.

Might this work for you? Is it still too cold around the rest of the planet to get outside?

The writer slump, but hey, new pen!

New pen? Holy cow! I’ll just get that out of the way first. Ta da:

Pretty freakin’ cool, huh? It was part of my present from Sarah for our writing group’s “Christmas in February.” Patent pending.

Now, how many of you are suffering from the winter writer slump? Just about every writer I’ve spoken to is currently wrestling with this, so you’re not alone. I’m trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps, too. I’ve got ideas. It’s just that I really don’t want to write. I feel a bit maudlin, a bit depressed (and for no good reason that I can suss out). I blame winter. It always makes me just want to sleep, but when I do nap, I feel guilty that I haven’t been working and then, well, we’re on a sneaky hate spiral.

If you’re feeling this, too, the best advice I’m gonna give you is to just put one foot in front of the other, just as if you were having to march across the desert. (Then I’d also add to rest during the day and walk at night.) Write a bit, do something else, write a bit, do something else, etc. If it helps, tell yourself you have to “earn” leisure activities with writing. You have to write a certain number of pages before you can watch tv or read a book. If you don’t have deadlines already, you might want to set some for yourself. Maybe set a reward for meeting the big deadlines. Like a new pen! Want another peek?

You’re welcome. ^_^

So how you doin’ in the winter slump? Getting it done? Not doing hardly anything, really? Too busy with other tasks?

p.s. I’m going to the Backspace Writers’ Conference in May. Anyone else going to this? First round’s on me! ^_^ And I don’t drink alcohol, but I’ll match you soda for…whatever!