My Grown-Up Candy Store

I am absolutely exhausted right now, but too triumphant to resist a quick blog post.  I did it!  I made it to 60,000 words for my novel (though 50,000 words is the goal of NaNoWriMo, decided to shoot for 60,000 this year) and then I kept on pushing through.  I wrote 3,337 words today and my novel is now at 63,790 words.

I’m about midway through the second of two big story climaxes, and I think I should have this thing all wrapped up by 75,000 words.  What a fantastic feeling!

I’m having a blast with this story, and think I’ve really found my niche in the mystery/thriller genre.  I’ve tried my hand at a couple chick-lit books, started a memoir I have no intention of finishing, and started and fizzled on a story about a rock star, but of all these novels the one I’ve loved writing most is this one.

One reason I love it is that I get to indulge my curiosities.  For example, today I spent a fair amount of time researching bombs, firearms, and lock picking.  My browsing history looks extremely suspect, but I’m having a blast!  I’ve looked up cities in Iraq, airport layouts, and made up some completely fictitious but still vaguely plausible stuff.  I’m a kid in a candy store, though what kind of person lets a kid into a candy store that has firearms in it?!

I should stop typing now.  I’ve reached that punch-drunk stage of writing wherein everything feels awesome and connected but is in no way relevant to anything else.

More to come soon, when I’ve written a little less and am feeling a little less punchy.  Mmm, punch…

Snow Day

I can’t believe my life sometimes.  The house is quiet, this my first day of being a stay at home mom / wannabe novelist, and the snow is pouring down thick and fluffy outside my window while I recline on our couch and sip hot cocoa.  I’m fairly certain this qualifies me as the luckiest person I know.

This small respite comes at a perfect time.  We are approaching the end of NaNoWriMo (I’m sitting pretty at a little over 49,000 words) which has had me hopping all month, I quit my job and the last two weeks have been filled with last-minute projects and culling through resumes looking for my replacement, and we just hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family at our house last night.

It’s been a busy month.

But now a snow day.  Snow days always feel like a bit of a gift.  Perhaps that’s because they used to mean no school or work.  I don’t think that’s the only reason, though, because even Aidan seems extra mellow today, content to snuggle and read books and scoot around the floor.

As for Thanksgiving, it went really well.  It’s the first time I’ve ever personally been responsible for preparing the Thanksgiving meal, and hosting the holiday at my house felt like a rite of passage.  Wes and I forswore turkey in favor of making truly finger-licking-good ham, and I made green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.

In lieu of spending my morning swearing obscenities at my inept attempts at pie crust, we bought these really luscious pumpkin cakes from Whole Foods (a local natural foods market with a killer bakery) and took it easy.  My mother and her husband brought my step-dad’s famous Sweet Potato Pie (seriously SO GOOD) and my grandmother brought her equally famous Hot Cross Buns (they taste like the holidays).

It wasn’t a fancy affair.  We ate off pretty paper plates to cut down on dishes, and neither Wes nor I can really claim we slaved over the meal, but everyone enjoyed the food and there were no empty bellies at the end of the night.  I’d say that qualifies any Thanksgiving as a success.

So now I’m home with a sleeping baby, a couple open bottles of wine, a whole pumpkin cake, and about ten pounds of leftover ham.  If Wes comes home and finds me collapsed on the couch in a pile of pumpkin cake crumbs with a discarded ham hock and empty bottle of wine as a pillow, you guys will know why.

Satisfying Anythings

You know what’s fun?  Interviewing people.  The interview process is a whole different beast from this side of things.  I got dressed up fancy-nice today (by which I mean I wore a non-spit up-stained shirt) and sat in on three interviews, trying to find my replacement.

I had fun, because those three people had to like me.  I’m not terribly articulate, and often think of too many words at the same time and trip over them, but the three people we interviewed were not allowed to think I was a blundering weirdo.  Because I was doing the interviews.  Mwa ha ha ha!

We met some nice people, found a really awesome person who we think will totally bring it, and I’m counting the whole thing as a win.  My co-workers are taking us out to dinner on Friday night to say goodbye to me, and I have faith I’m leaving them in good hands.

As for my new career, however…Well, it’s entirely in my hands now.  I’m reading my new book, 2010 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, and taking notes like crazy.  I kinda feel like I’m cramming for a degree in creative writing, but I’m learning a lot so that’s good.

Things like character arcs (I’ve never had one of those), 3 act structures (black moment ha-what?!), and literary agents (I need one).  I’m taking the whole getting published thing as seriously as I can, and that means researching and learning.  This can only help, so long as I don’t allow myself to get intimidated.

To be honest, the whole prospect of entering short story contests (a great way to get your name out there. Winning gives you credibility and makes publishers and agents more likely to look at you) or attending conferences is a bit daunting.  But, the best thing to do to get started is to take a step.  Then another, then another.

So that’s what I’ll be doing.  High-stepping my way to…Something.

In NaNoWriMo news, I’m up to 37,278 words.  My plot’s holding steady under the deluge, though I’ll definitely have to go back and fix some stuff at the beginning.  My hope is that I’ll finish it and then not hate it when I re-visit it in a few weeks.  Revision is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you absolutely hate everything you’ve written!

And with that, I leave you with an entirely unsatisfying ending.  Because I wrote over 2,500 words today and I’m fresh out of really satisfying anythings.

In Her Honor

My great grandmother and mother holding me when I was about six months old.

My great grandmother passed away last night.  I found out this morning, and I’ve been mulling over her life all day.  Her name was Eugenie and she was a beautiful woman.  Born in 1909, she grew up in Russia.  She moved to Shanghai with her family, and in 1934 she met and married her husband.

World War Two necessitated that she flee Shanghai with their two sons, and they ended up in Australia.  Her husband stayed behind and they lost touch during the war.  When the war was over, she and her sons moved again to San Francisco, where she lived until her death.

She was a great cook, a devoted volunteer with the Russian Orthodox Church, and a talented seamstress.  I have a cookbook of her recipes, and Wes and I enjoy preparing the recipes she perfected over the years.  I remember that she made really legendary pickles, and every time I’d call her she’d always respond to whatever I said with, “That’s wonderful, darling!”  I can hear her voice in my head even now.

She was over one hundred years old, and her passing eased years of suffering, but it’s always hard when someone you love, a part of your family, is gone.  I do look forward to seeing her again in Heaven someday though.

Anyway, if you’re into Russian food maybe have a bowl of borscht or dig into some pelmeni in my Great Grandmother’s honor, huh?

Fear No Beer

Oh, the outpouring of support and encouragement that greeted my last post was euphoric!  I was expecting a lot of people to greet the news with scorn, but everyone’s just been so sweet!

Perhaps the sweetest person was Wes, who came home yesterday bearing chocolate, a how-to-get-paid-for-your-fiction book, and the news that he purchased a laptop for me!  I can finally realize my dream of being able to write while sitting in a coffee shop, and lo, it will be sweet.

I was afraid that by declaring my intention to pursue publication to the universe that I would psych myself into being too intimidated, but thankfully my novel is still scooting right along.  I stopped writing at 26,130 words this morning, which makes me a little over halfway done with my NaNoWriMo word count!

Truthfully, I see this novel going longer than 50K, and it’ll likely finish up at around 75K.  Which means I’m not halfway at all.  But I’m going to celebrate anyway.

While I write away, I’m also wrapping up my work for Bottle Your Brand.  Because the work I do for them requires such a specific skill set, I’ve volunteered to sift through the resumes of applicants in hopes of finding them some good candidates.

It’s been almost three years since I was a recruiter, but I’m pleased to say that those skills stick around for a good long while.  I continue to be appalled, however, by the laziness of some job applicants.

People who don’t update their resumes, who send form cover letters, whose job experience doesn’t even remotely match the job.  If I can offer any advice to job seekers, it’s this:

  • Personalize your cover letter to the job you’re applying for.  Start by explaining what about the job and company you’re excited about.  Hiring managers like to know that you think their company is cool.  Then go on to specify what exactly about your previous work experience qualifies you for the job you want.  Keep it short and awesome.
  • If you’re going to include an objective section in your resume, customize that section for the job you’re applying for.  No one cares that you’re looking to grow your skills with a thriving company.
  • Don’t get too familiar in the tone of your cover letter.  You’re not getting invited to a kegger, so why would you think a hiring manager would care about your favorite kind of beer?

I kid you not, someone actually wrote down their favorite kind of beer in their cover letter.  What is this world coming to?