Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Reclaiming My Office!

The Fire and Flood Company brought my furniture back today!

I’ve found the boxes with the laptop docking station, keyboard and large-screen monitor, as well as a few other desk items: speakers, telephone, electric pencil sharpener.

::: EXCITED!! :::

I can’t wait to get back to working in my space. Working at the kitchen table since September has been a real bummer. Distracting, too. I’m hoping that getting back to my own space will be freeing, creatively.

This is what the front half of my office looks like right now:

Boxes in the Front of the Office

The thing I’m amazed at: the last box I looked at was numbered “70.”

Really?

And I packed 12 additional boxes from my doll cabinet. (I wouldn’t let them take those away for fear of something getting damaged or lost.)

So that means I’ve got at least 82 boxes of junk in just two rooms of my house.

I’m hoping that a great many of these boxes are books…because if they’re not, I’ve got a ton of stuff that has no place being here.

I’ve already told the Husband of Awesome™ that I anticipate that at least a third (I hope more) of what’s in these boxes is not going back on the shelves.

I believe this means parting with a great many books, and possibly some (published) manuscripts that have been lying around. I’ve been advised to scan them and toss the originals.

Closets and Boxes in the back half of the room.Here’s a picture of my double closets. Note the filing cabinet in one. I have a bookshelf in the other closet. I love the option of putting furniture in closets. It makes the space so much more useable.

Notice the non-brown boxes, devoid of pink labels? Those are my own. They’re numbered, too, but not in any scheme I can figure out. And, now that I’m looking, they don’t appear to be counted in the 70 (82).

Now, there’s a mystery I’m going to have to solve. The Secret Math Junkie™ inside of me is starting to wonder: How many total boxes? How many brown ones? How many are the 3 cubic feet version? How many are the smaller? How many contain books? How many contain paper? Etc.

It might take me a few weeks to get through it all, but in the end, you’ll have your report. 🙂

In the meantime, I find myself already with a plethora of packing supplies on hand. Anyone need any bubble wrap?

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Today’s Writing Prompt Will Be Short

Sad, sad, office.A short writing prompt is in order today.

As you may know, I no longer have an office to work from (for the time being).

In spite of the lofty writing goals I’ve set for myself…I’ve got “home stuff” to accomplish in order to get the office — and the rest of the upstairs — back in order.

In the spirit of transparency, here are the writing goals:

  • Write, edit and post the writing prompt
  • Kick out 3,000 words on the WIP
  • Create a cover for my short story, On the Path*
  • Answer any writing email that’s been lingering since the roof event.
  • Several house-related items that aren’t important in a writing world… 🙂

I’m a little worried I won’t be able to do the 3K words… wish me luck.

Now, on to the writing prompt.

 
 
 
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*On the Path was previously published in “Triangulation: Dark Glass,” edited by Pete Butler. Rights have returned to me, so I want to post it at Smashwords.

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

What Were You Doing on September 11, 2001?

Twin Towers being struck by a plane, September 11, 2001.Years ago, at family get-togethers, I used to hear my grandparent’s ask, “What were you doing when Kennedy was shot?”

I was born long after the event, so these questions and answers felt more like a parlor game than shared remembrances — or shared horrors.

Everyone had a different story, each unique, and each remembered with such exacting detail that you could almost imagine yourself there as the tale was told.

I never dreamed I’d have my own such question to ask.

What were you doing on 9/11?

I was working in a federal building just outside of Washington, D.C. I was de facto Webmaster for a USDA agency, and working on a Web site. I’d just finished a particularly taxing page and popped over to Yahoo for a news break.

Yahoo was reporting that an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Buildings. It was a one-line story, breaking news, and they had no further details. No photo accompanied the story.

I had the foresight to hit “print” and capture the page. I still have it. It reads:

Plane Crashes Into World Trade Center
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A plane crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center Tuesday, witnesses said.

I’m glad I printed the story, because I was unable to visit my other go-to news sites for more information. The Internet was tied up. In a ‘denial of service’ caused by people wanting more information, servers became quickly overloaded.

I tried phoning the Husband of Awesome™, but phone systems and cell towers in the D.C. area were also tied up.

We had a small black-and-white TV in the break room, which got poor reception on good days, but I remember watching President Bush, interrupted while reading to a group of second-graders, stop and make a statement.

After the second plane strike, and the hit on the Pentagon, fear began to percolate in our building. We were the tallest Federal Building for miles around. Could we be the next target?

Federal employees were eventually told to evacuate their buildings and go home. Those inside the beltway had trouble getting out. Streets were packed, people apparently walked for miles to get home. Just outside the Beltway, the roads were like a ghost town. I remember getting onto the highway and being amazed that mine was the only car there.

After a while, a few more cars came onto the road, but the eerie feeling didn’t leave, even with their presence.

I got home, turned on the TV, and sat glued there for the rest of the day. Images of the planes hitting the towers were replayed over and over again. It’s changed the way I see airplanes.

To this day, I can’t look at a plane in the sky and not remember 9/11.

What were you doing on 9/11?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Guess What Floated Over My House Today?

Hot Air Balloon - As seen from Underneath!
One colorful — beautiful — hot air balloon!

This very same balloon passed by our house a few weeks ago on a Saturday. I’d heard it coming: the intermittent sound of the driver letting loose a stream of fire to keep the balloon aloft. (Almost like a dragon coughing out a bitter exhortation of flame…)

But the noise was strange — I’d never heard it before — and I couldn’t place it. I finally got up to look and saw it drifting past the house.

By the time I’d gotten outside, the balloon had sunk so low, we could hear the people talking in the gondola. I’d rushed to get my camera, but I was too slow. It had dipped behind our neighbor’s trees, and I only caught about two-thirds of it.

Tonight, the balloon passed directly over our house! I’m kicking myself for not zooming in more on the bottom of it. It came in closer than the picture actually shows. At the time, I felt I could almost — almost — jump up and touch the bottom.

Again, we could hear the people chattering away in the basket. So close!

Next time, I’ll be ready! I’ve got to figure out who’s giving these balloon rides. What a thrill it would be to glide over my own house and set down in the neighboring field! A quick walk through the woods and I’d be home!

Hot Air Balloon - As seen from Underneath!
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

How Hot is it Where You Are?

Melting LadyI’m in Washington, DC today, and temperatures are approaching triple digits. (It’s always great to come back from vacation a research trip to sweltering city heat.

I’m melting.

It was really mugly this morning, and I had to drag a suitcase and a laptop from the metro.

I’m taking some nerdy, geek training for my day job, so I’ll be in the city for the next four days.

Training has been fun so far, and I’m learning a lot (makes me want to abandon WordPress and build my own drupal site…) but the facilities have been a little worse for wear.

I don’t know if it’s the heatwave or something else, but it feels like there’s no AC here in this room full of computers. They’ve brought in two fans, but it’s not doing much to help.

Did I tell you I’m melting? I hope someone gets the AC on the ball before class tomorrow. I believe temps are supposed to be even higher.

How is it where you are?

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

On the Road Again…

Amtrak Sign at the Depot

…or maybe I should say, on the tracks?

I’ve got wifi in the station, but not on the train. So once the train pulls out of the station, I’ve no access until tomorrow morning.

Alas…

On the other hand, maybe I’ll get some writing done without the distraction. But then, I’m hoping for scenery types of distraction en route.

I’ll be traveling over night. The last time I did this was in coach, with the marching band during college. Having abhorred that situation with a royal purple passion, I sprang for a sleeper car. This is going to be an adventure!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

American Flag

I’ll be celebrating by gorging at a family picnic today. The menu includes:

  • steak
  • chicken
  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • corn on-the-cob
  • (my) Mom’s Famous Potato Salad
  • other miscellaneous salads
  • three cakes
  • and more stuff I can’t remember.

I think there will be seven of us in attendance. That’s the kind of parties my family throws.

The good news is: like Thanksgiving, we will not have to cook for the rest of the week!

What are you doing today?

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Remembering the Fallen…

Graves at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day - 2008
Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Sale! And Received Hellebore and Rue Contributor Copy

Cover of the 2010 Issue of The Gunpowder ReviewI recently sold my flash fiction piece, “To Bead or Not to Bead” to The Gunpowder Review.

The Gunpowder Review is a literary magazine which publishes the creative work of women writers, artists, and photographers with a Harford County or Maryland connection.

Since I grew up in Harford County (Go Hawks!) I qualify.

“To Bead or Not To Bead” is a pun-y little piece about the Greek Fates — those women who spin, weave and cut the threads of life. You can probably guess what kind of direction the story takes, judging by its title.

Cover of Hellebore and Rue AnthologyI’ll let you know when it’s available.

In other writerly goodness, I’ve received my paperback copy of Hellebore and Rue.

::: Exciting! :::

I don’t know what magic was used to print the cover of the anthology, but it’s wonderful!

The cover feels like a very soft suede, smooth and — almost — warm to the touch. (And, yes, it’s made of paper.) I like handling it very much.

Hellebore and Rue has received a wonderful review, in which the reviewer mentioned that she’d like to see a sequel or longer work with my characters (which totally makes my day).

How cool is it that a reader wants to know more after the story is over?

Food for thought…

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

M3 Concert: Proving Once Again What a Small, Small World Earth Is

I went to the M3 Concert last night.

It was a last-minute decision, since the concert date snuck up on me: I thought I still had a few weeks to decide.

For the uninitiated, the M3 is an all-day festival featuring a slew of metal bands that play from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. There are two stages, with the A bands playing on one, and the B bands playing on the second: alternating slightly so that there’s always a band playing while one stage is breaking down and setting up for the next.

Since I went alone, I brought my latest manuscript with me to edit between sets. (I am soooooo behind my self-imposed deadline to finish these edits!)

While checking my bag, the ticketer noticed I’d brought work with in me, and told me I wasn’t the only one: some guy had brought in a huge book to study for an exam.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” I told her in perfect English. She said, “That’s what he said, too!”

Um, yeah.

I’d arrived late, and the outdoor arena was PACKED. I had to wade through crowds of people to get to the pavilion and take my AWESOME seat: 14th row, front and center.

And what do I find when I get there? Study-guy, with his book propped open on my seat. (Hi, Bill!)

That’s not the small world part of all this. It turns out that he graduated the same year I did, in the same county, only he went to the Vo-Tech school, and I went to the local high. AND, it turns out he knew well my (high school) boyfriend’s best friend.

It took a concert (a decade or so) later for us to meet. If not for the vagaries of fate, we might have met way back when.

Small world, eh?

As for the concert (if you’re interested) Sebastian Bach — formerly of the band Skid Row — played far too loud. The sound reverberated in the arena too much and muddied the music. The band played some Skid Row hits and some new music, and had tons of energy, but you could tell they hadn’t been playing together long. The lead guitarist for the band couldn’t have been 18 years old, but he could jam. That kid’s going places.

Tesla stole the show. They’re a mature band, and it showed: they worked around each other on stage like they’d been doing it for years and the music was tight. They’d also turned down the music-level when they started and you could hear all the notes in the music: everything was clean. Quite impressive. They’ve got a new album coming out soon. I plan to add it to my collection.

Lita Ford played lame. Her sound was good, the music was tight, but noticeably slower on the pieces I sat in on. Also: she tried for too much control with her voice, less screaming, and she sounded more like a folk singer than a rocker. She looked good though.

Whitesnake headlined, and closed down the night. They started out with some (literally) screaming tune I couldn’t put a name to. Like Bach, the speakers were turned up way too loud. There was so much distortion I couldn’t hear a thing. Luckily, someone else noticed (I’ve been to concerts where they haven’t!) and potted the speakers down. It got better after that.

They, too, played all the old favorites, as well as some new ones. I’ll be adding their new album to my collection, too. David Coverdale looked fit, and sounded great (when he wasn’t screaming).

I’m already looking forward to next year’s M3.