Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Verdicts Are In

The first verdict: the majority of my readers are scaredy-cats. A couple people emerged from their anonymity, but many many did not. But that's ok, you're still welcome. :)

The second verdict: I can't decide which writing books to request. All of your suggestions were wonderful and I was only able to eliminate three or four (for various reasons).

Here's my list, in order of preference:

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) by Francine Prose

Plot & Structure: (Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish) (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (Write Great Fiction) by Nancy Kress

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School by Gotham Writers' Workshop

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner

How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (How to Write a Damn Good Novel) by James N. Frey


Did you notice I slipped one in that no one recommended? Stupid Amazon and it's endless supply of books... I really, really want the first five on the list. Well, who am I kidding? I really, really want all of them, but I think the first five will be a good start. I think it's funny the book with "the first five" in the title is number six on my list, but I think that's just my lack of sleep talking.

Thank you all for your suggestions!


ETA: This just in. My benefactor has offered to purchase all of the above books. :)

I have a wonderful mother.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Step Right Up!

Janna had a brilliant idea and I'm stealing it.

I have a loyal group of people who regularly comment and make me feel like I'm not spewing my thoughts into the stratosphere. I often write with them in mind; sometimes my posts are even influenced by things they've talked about. My stat counter says I get anywhere from 20 to 50 hits per day, but only a handful of people comment.

Who are those other people?

Hints come to me from unexpected places. A comment from my mom that my aunt mentioned the pink shirt Ibis wore to graduation, that she'd only know about if she read that post. An email from a cousin telling me she knows what's going on in my life because she follows my blog, then asks if that's weird. I actually get emails like that from several friends, and no, it's not weird. That's why I'm here.

So, if you come here regularly but don't normally comment, could you? Just for today? I'll keep copying Janna and say you don't even have to out yourself. Log on anonymously and leave a clue so I'll know who you are.

Maybe I'll customize a post for YOU!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Writing Books

A generous benefactor (my mom) has offered to buy me a couple writing books. She saw the comments last week when I said it's hard for me to get my hands on anything down here and said she'd order them so they'd be ready when I arrive home in September.

Now, you know how you can have a whole list of things you want, but the minute someone asks you, your mind goes blank? That's happened to me. I cannot think of any books! I know I saw one in the last month or so on a blog - real specific, huh? - that has something to do with 48 Reasons Not to Write, or 52 Ways to Get Published. Not to be confused with the blog 101 Reasons to Stop Writing (see right sidebar).

I believe my cousin has mention Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel, but I could have the name or title wrong.

I already have Stephen King's On Writing, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. Beyond that, I'm open to your suggestions. I don't think I'm really a workbook type of person, but I'll keep an open mind.

I can't wait to hear your suggestions!

Monday, July 28, 2008

21 Hours Later

Ibis has torn apart the kitchen and is killing everything that moves. I found several nests *shudders* in various drawers and cupboards, so he's got his work cut out for him.

I've declared that I am finished dealing with these things, but we'll see how long that lasts. If one jumps out in front of me, I'm obviously not going to let it have the run of the house. Oh, and I need to clarify something from yesterday's post: the biggun I flung off the deck was closer to three inches long, not two.

At the moment, all the drawers and shelves have been removed, and the contents of the kitchen are in the living room. I hear banging, but every time I go in there he tells me he'll call if he needs something. As long as I don't hear a death scream, I suppose I'll let him be.

Thanks for all your well-wishes. I am feeling better today.

ETA: I'm in clean-up mode and had to share something. Before Ibis left I drilled him to make sure he really did look everywhere for bugs. (I found an ant nest since he left.) Our kitchen rug is in a bucket of water, so I asked if there were any cockroaches in it.

"Yeah, but he should be dead."

Should be? Ack. As soon as the water comes back fully (oh yeah, water ran out when I started to clean) I'll tackle the bucket. Joy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Abandon Ship

I give up. The cockroaches win. I'm leaving the house until Ibis gets off work and can deal with this. I killed four smaller ones and shot a 2 incher off the deck, but at least four got away from me in the cabinets.

If you don't hear from me in 24 hours, please send backup.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Where's Robin When You Need Him?

I need to be more careful about my blog topics. In the past week I've written about seeing the movie Batman and having a new predator in my home. Can you guess where this is going?

Last night, as I innocently watched The Lords of Dogtown on TV, a bat swooped through my living room.

A BAT.

IN MY LIVING ROOM.

RIGHT OVER MY HEAD.

I managed to maintain my bodily functions and flattened myself against the sofa. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds - I barely had time to yelp before he (she?) flew out the window.

I've seen them downtown, circling the trees after dark, and we even encountered a pair in a friend's hotel room, but I've never seen them in our neighborhood.

Perhaps someone turned on the batlight?

Friday, July 25, 2008

So Apparently Vanilla Means Dark Brown

Like many women across the globe, I color my hair every couple months. I used to go to a salon, where Andreas would give me three different colored highlights, but now I use Garnier Nutrisse. Considering I'm still a relative newbie when it comes to home hair color, a mistake here and there should be expected. Up until now, however, it's been smooth sailing.

I've played around with colors - I was really blond over the winter - and lately I've gone a shade darker each time. Nothing drastic, just a slight shift. Well, I tried a new color, Vanilla, and this is what happened:



In case you don't see the problem, please look at yesterday's post and the picture there. Quite a difference, eh?

The good news is NO ONE talked to me this morning. They didn't even look at me. Perhaps I should've done this months ago.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Writing

Last night Ibis was playing with our video camera and snapped a couple pictures while I was writing. Yes, our video camera also takes pictures; it's quite handy.



Anyways, I don't think this is the best picture of me, but it shows exactly how I look when I'm writing. There's the notebook, the cushy chair, and around the corner is a fan blowing at my feet. I wrote about 500 words during that session, and while I wish I could squeak out more in one sitting, I'm proud of the progress I'm making.

Since joining the online writing group at the beginning of June, I've written roughly 12,000 words. And they only require 100 words per day. My goal is to complete the first draft by mid-August, and while I've definitely sped up in recent weeks, I'm not sure if I'll finish by then. I've allowed myself A LOT of crap, skimming through scenes that I know I'll fill out later, so who knows. Maybe I will get it done in the next month.

I meant to post last week that July 17th was the one-year mark from when I first decided to write my memoir. I started writing every day around the end of August, so if I CAN finish this wip by then, that'll make two full-length manuscripts in one year. Hmm, that might just be enough of a challenge to make me do it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Backstory

One common problem writers face is when and where to put backstory. Too much, too soon, and it becomes the dreaded info dump and the story falls flat. We know this, yet often we can't resist the urge to cram the main character's entire life story into the first twenty pages.

"Ooh, I'll make it a flashback!"

"He can be dreaming... it'll be a recurring dream about his traumatic childhood."

"Two characters who haven't seen each other in years will catch up over coffee."

You know what I mean. I've struggled with backstory in my memoir. The story is about me and Ibis, so it gets a little fuzzy for me where to draw the line. I'm sure there are parts I can drop later in the story - that's one thing I'll be looking at in my next round of edits - and some of it I can just drop.

Mysterious Matters, a mystery writing blog, makes an interesting point about backstory:

...extensive backstory kills any momentum the narrative may have built up, destroying the suspense. Think about it this way: When you meet someone at a cocktail party, don't you run for your life when he starts to tell you his entire life story? You're concerned with the here and now, not with the name of his first-grade teacher. The more you get to know him, the more interested you are in hearing more about him--as long as he has not bored you silly. That's when bits and pieces of the past become more intriguing.

This is an excellent way to look at it. No one's saying the information itself is bad, just that we should rethink how we present it. We don't want to put the reader to sleep in the first ten pages.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Ads

I'm sorry for the double post, but my new ads are cracking me up. My mom and I figured out that Amazon tailors the ads for each individual, but the GoogleAds seem to be based on the content of this blog. Right now it's advertising Avila Beach! Who knew?

More on the Antagonist

My bad guy just pulled into the parking lot. He and my main character (MC) are about to meet and I'm all atingle just thinking about it.

Wouldn't you know it, but Writer Unboxed has another post about the antagonist, but this time Therese Walsh talks about the contagonist. This character is similar to the antagonist, where they try to prevent the protagonist from accomplishing their goal, but different in that they only want to delay the inevitable. They don't want to stop him. I know it sounds a little confusing; please read the link for a better explanation.

*****

Yesterday Ibis and I went to my friend's house for a pool day/BBQ. The party was almost a bust when the sky opened up for a two-hour rainstorm - almost. The host and her boyfriend ran to the pool and madness ensued. All eight of us became kids again - diving, flipping, and canonballing into the pool. Two of the dogs even joined the fun.

It's always in the 90s here so the rain wasn't cold and the pool felt like a sauna. It was pouring so hard that I had to shield my eyes just to see ten feet in front of me. We only had one injury - rain + slippery tiles tend to do that - but after a little ice, she was fine.

I planned to elaborate a little more but today is turning into a migraine day. And I didn't even drink, grr. I'm going to lay low the rest of the day and hopefully get some writing done. I can't wait to meet my bad guy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A New Predator

Can I take back all my complaints about cockroaches? And ants? And bees? And geckos? Although really, I like the geckos, they just startle me more times than not. The other day a baby one clung to my sandal (that was on my foot) when I was sweeping the floor.

Seems we have a new pest. One that makes me want to vomit just thinking about it.

Yesterday I was peeling a mango and noticed a couple brown spots. No big deal, I thought, it is produce, after all. Then I noticed a little white, wiggling worm. A maggot. In my mango.

*vomit*

I did what any person not raised around lots of bugs would do: I threw it in the trash. I didn't stop to think that maybe I should try to kill the maggot before tossing it in a container full of discarded food. This morning I pulled out the trash and, you guessed it, maggots. Plural.

I ran the bag downstairs to the garbage bins (we don't really have bins but that sounds nicer than the garbage pile on the sidewalk) before more could escape, but when I returned to the kitchen, they were all over the floor. I sprayed them with all kinds of cleaners, but they kept on inching across the floor. I was forced to do something that I avoid as best I can.

I squished them.

*vomit*

Not with my bare hands! Oh god, no. With many paper towels (I swear I'm trying to be an environmentalist) soaked in bug spray. That seemed to work. Ibis and I went for a long walk, and when I returned, more maggots. I couldn't figure out where they were coming from so this time, I pulled out the big gun: bleach.

I bleached the entire floor, then scrubbed every surface in my kitchen. Two hours later, I think I may have won.

This round.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Batman in Spanish is Still Batman

We went to see Batman last night, but unfortunately it was NOT in English as I'd hoped. I understood the majority of what happened and really enjoyed the movie, especially all the Chicago scenes. Quite a few outdoor shots were filmed very close to my old stomping grounds, including the recently closed Buzz, where Ibis and I met.

If you're going to watch a movie in a language other than that which you are most comfortable, an action movie is the best choice. Especially one based on a comic book. It's pretty easy to figure out the good guy, bad guy, girlfriend, and crooked cop. I was able to follow along up until the end - you know, when the moral of the story is revealed and everyone confesses their secrets? Yeah, I missed that. My husband tends to fall asleep in movies and dozed a bit during the longer talking scenes, so he wasn't much help.

This was the first movie we'd gone to see since late Fall 2006, and we used to go to three or four movies per month. We weren't sure what to expect with a Mexican movie theater, but it was very clean, the chairs were comfortable, AND, there was an intermission! The lights came on at the halfway point and everyone went to the bathroom and concession stand. I think that's a brilliant idea because no one got up during the movie. They knew they'd have a chance midway through the movie so we didn't have to deal with people getting up and down. Smart thinking, I say.

On the drive home it occurred to me that Batman was still Batman, even in Spanish. Spiderman, you see, in called el Hombre de AraƱa. I got to thinking and asked Ibis about Superman. Is he called el Hombre Super?

Nope, still Superman. Now I want to find out about all the super heroes.


ETA: Absolute Write has a Batman thread that answered all my questions. Phew!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reading About Writing

If you read this blog on a regular basis, I'm going to take a guess and say you read a lot of other blogs, too. Most of those on my daily reading list are writing related, even if the only connection is I know the person through the writing world. It can take me two hours to get through my regulars, and I sometimes question if that's a good use of my time.

I'm not working, so I can't make the argument that I have other, more pressing, obligations, but I'm sure Ibis could come up with better ways for me to spend my time. Every time I start to wonder how useful these blogs really are, the universe gets together and tells everyone to write about the very things I have swirling in my mind.

Just this week, I read an article at Writers Unboxed that says if you really want readers to care, the antagonist needs to be as developed as the protagonist. You can't have the bad guy be bad just for plot's sake; in the bad guy's mind he's doing the right thing and it's our job as a writer to show that.

When I read this, I had just introduced my bad guy. He was in the room and made eye contact with my protagonist, but the real introduction is still to come. I still need to get into what makes him tick. The article says that we probably all know this by now, but the timing couldn't have been better. I'm looking at this character differently, and I hope the reader will, too.

Several of the agent blogs I read have focused on mistakes beginner writers make, either when writing their novels or querying agents. Since I'm writing my first novel AND preparing to query for the first time, all have had a strong impact on me.

Finally, my blog friends have seemed to mirror my emotions lately, and while that may not help with my writing, it makes me feel a little less isolated. Knowing others have doubts and question themselves makes me feel like all these doubts are normal.

Does this every happen to you? Do you find the universe conspires to answer your questions, sometimes before you've even voiced the question?

Friday, July 18, 2008

How Many Books?

Ibis and I were discussing books the other day, and he asked me a question that I haven't been able to get out of my head:

"How many books have you read?"

Not this year, not since school; how many books have you read in your life? A little daunting, isn't it? As the question bounced around in my head, titles from years past washed over me: Lovely Bones, On Writing, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Life of Pi, Memoirs of a Geisha, Metamorphosis, Sense and Sensibility, 1984 the entire Sweet Valley High series, Frog and Toad are Friends, Go Dog Go.... I could do this for days.

How do you even count that? I suppose I could use a rough average of one book per month for my entire reading life (starting at age 6, even though I learned to read at 3 or 4). That would account for the school years when I didn't do as much leisure reading as I'd preferred, although I did read a fair amount of textbooks. I have spurts where I'll read several books per month, maybe one per week, but I think one per month is fair.

So. *whips open handy calculator application*

33 - 5 = 28 x 12 = 336.

I know that's not correct. My rough guess at the time was over a thousand, so maybe I should say three books per month. That totals 1008, so I'll let that be my answer.

I've read 1008 books in my life. How about you?


*****

The ads are up and running. Thanks everyone for your help, especially SpyScribbler for basically walking me through the process!

Writing a Novel = Falling in Love

I stumbled upon Libby Bray's blog today, and if you write, you need to read this. She compares the many stages of writing a novel to the many stages of a relationship. Very funny. A bit of adult language.

I have a writing-related post in my head so I'll get on that soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do I Need a Lawyer?

This morning Ibis and I were lamenting the fact that tourist season has arrived and downtown Zihua is once again overrun with people who are easily confused by our one way streets and traffic circles. Yesterday he was stuck in traffic and decided to sneak through a red light because, as he put it, "there was room and no one could get through anyways."

I was in the shower as he told this story and realization dawned on me as I rinsed my hair. I whipped open the curtain. "Did you get a ticket?"

He looked down."Well...I didn't see the cop standing there."

[Interlude: there are police officers spaced every block or so throughout downtown. He knows this because that's when he remembers to put on his seatbelt.]

I pulled the curtain closed and continued my shower. "So what happened?"

"The officer whistled for me to stop, but I moved ahead with traffic. Then I saw him pull out his radio to call the next officer and figured I may as well stop."

"Mmm-hmmm."

"He came over and introduced himself." Ibis motions them shaking hands through the window. Weird, but whatever. "Then he asked why I ran the red light. I told him I know I ran the light but the reason I did is because I was trying to give plenty of room to the motorcycle in front of me. I looked at him and asked 'If you were on a motorcycle, would you want someone right next to you?' "

The officer agreed that no, he wouldn't want that.

Ibis continued. "I told him that since I waited for the motorcycle to turn, I went through the light even though it was turning red. I saw that I wouldn't put anyone at risk of being hit and that's why I went."

And do you know what the officer said?

The officer leaned closer to the window and said, "You're a lawyer, aren't you?"

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor. That part gets me every time.

Ibis replied, "Actually, I'm still in law school." He was wearing dress slacks and a button down shirt - his work attire - so he could pass for a lawyer, but OH MY GOD.

They chatted for a few more minutes because, as Ibis commented, the police like to stay tight with the lawyers in town. The entire ordeal took longer than if he'd never run the light to begin with, but he was let go without a warning.

I'm so proud of my almost-lawyer husband. It feels like just yesterday he was graduating from high school. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog Ponderings

Over the weekend, I did a little cleaning up around the blog. I condensed my labels (those were completely out of hand!), updated my blog lists, and started a new section with key posts. I'd still like to add a couple more, so if there are any posts you especially liked, or feel would be helpful for a new reader to review, please let me know. I'm not asking you to search through my 220+ posts, but please share if something comes to mind, even if it's along the lines of "that post where you talked about the fish."

More importantly, I'd like your opinion on blog ads. I've heard various things about how much money you can make from them, but every little bit helps. I try not to discuss our finances here, but let's just say we're spending more than we take in from Ibis's job as a hotel receptionist. My freelance work helps, but it's not consistent, so $3 here and there will help.

But - and here's my hangup - will ads scare away my readers? I like how this blog looks: uncluttered and organized. I don't think I'll have control over ads, in terms of placement or content, and that makes me hesitant.

Do you have ads on your blog? Do you have a strong opinion about them? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Because I Don't Spend Enough Time Online

Ibis and I joined Facebook last night. I've received invitations from friends over the years but never felt the need to do it. Well, last night I spent over four hours searching for friends and figuring out how everything works - I even started a game of Scrabble with a friend from LA!

It looks like there's a way to share photo albums with people who don't have accounts, so that'll be a nice way to keep my family up to date. We take a lot of random pictures (in case you haven't noticed from this blog) and it'd be nice to show them off.

Are any of you on Facebook? Do you want to be my friend?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Warm Fuzzies

I've changed a lot over the past year. Without getting all philosophical and talking about my mental state, the biggest change is how important the internet has become to me. A year ago I'd never visited an online forum, never posted a message on a blog, and certainly never made friends with people online. Are they even real people? What kind of person has friends online? And so forth.

Clearly my opinion has changed. I'm not saying I ever thought there was something wrong with having online friendships, heavens no. It was something I'd never looked into and, frankly, I didn't understand how it worked. So you go to a chat room and become friends with people? It seemed so foreign. I'm a very social person and not knowing what a person looks like seemed like quite an obstacle, albeit a superficial one.

Last August, almost a year ago, I decided to dip my toe in the writing world and my cousin Jenna emailed me a list of her favorite writing blogs. People blog about writing? I devoured the sites and clicked, clicked, clicked my way to a writing forum, Absolute Write. To say AW has helped me would be an understatement. Besides learning an overwhelming amount about writing, I've become friends with people that like me for what I have to say, not because of my haircut or the clothes I wear. I'm not saying my meatspace friendships are based on that, but online, people form their opinions based on your words, especially a in writing community.

I started this blog last October through the encouragement of Janna (remember that, Janna?)(she has two blogs), and have made more friends through Blogland. Spyscribbler recently commented how nice it is that her online friends all read a lot of the same blogs, and I agree. Conversations carry over between sites and we've created a community within the larger online writing world.

The point I'm trying to get to is I never imagined that I'd become so dependent, so reliant, on people I've never met. You make me laugh, you bring me to tears, you make me think, you've made me snort water out my nose, and best of all, you fill me with hope. Hope for my writing "career", hope for my future, everything. I've turned to advice from people I only know from the pictures they post and words on a screen, but it's helped me through the dark times.

The emails, reps, and comments I received about Ibis's graduation made this all hit home. So many people sent their congratulations - and advice for the jerky director - for the husband of a woman they've never met, and that really touched me. Thank you, all of you, for being there. I hope I can return the favor.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Graduate

Finally! You're looking at the latest high school graduate.


Ibis doesn't like it when I make a big deal out of this - he's embarrassed it's taken this long - but I am SO proud of him. It's not easy going back to school at age 32 (now 33) and sitting in a roomful of teenagers. But he did it and now he can move on to bigger things.

Our day began like any of his days off - a walk on the beach, followed by soccer and volleyball on the beach - but we lost power an hour before we had to leave, and that's where the fun began. The power cut off before he'd gotten up from a nap so we couldn't iron his shirt. The wind was so strong we'd had to close all the windows, and without fans it got very hot inside. We pulled a mirror off the wall and carried it near a window so we could see enough to get ready (it was still light out but the bathroom area is the darkest part of the house), when Ibis suddenly gasped.

"We have to stop by the market!"

"Why?" I asked. Surely he didn't have to bring a snack for the graduation ceremony.

"My only pair of black pants are at the tailor's."

After skipping over my sarcastic comments - no time for that - I remembered we can fit into each other's clothes. "You can wear mine."

He tried them on and aside from a little more lifting in the rear area than he's used to, they worked.

We hopped in the car and weren't three blocks from our house when the wind caught a huge iron sign and flipped it into the street. Two cars in front of us. We waited patiently, trying not to stare at the clock, as three policemen dragged it to the side of the road.

"We could've been killed!" I exclaimed.

Ibis just looked at me and continued driving.

I'd asked my Canadian friend to join us so I wouldn't be the only non-Mexican in attendance, so we picked her and her boyfriend up and drove to the ceremony.

Here's Ibis with some friends before they went into the ballroom:


He's in the center of the back row. Don't they look cute?

The ceremony was in Spanish, obviously, so I missed a lot of what was said. The crowd perked up when a performance group did two traditional Mexican dances, but otherwise no one paid much attention. The valedictorian was a girl I've met several times, and while I didn't understand most of her speech, I thought it was cool someone I knew received the honor.

The graduates gathered on stage for group pictures:


Afterwards, we piled into the car and were driving to dinner when Ibis leaned towards me.

"At the rehearsal yesterday, the director told me I was the valedictorian."

You can imagine all the questions that spilled out of me, the most predominant being "What?" and "You're sure?"

He didn't tell me before because he thought it'd be a nice surprise. He doesn't know what happened, but something must have exchanged hands between 8pm Wednesday and 7pm Thursday. What makes it worse is the "valedictorian" missed a lot of classes, something Ibis was told would cause a failing grade. This girl (I should say woman; she's in her 20s) is tight with the director of the school and apparently that does more than studying and showing up to class.

I was really pissed - still am - and said he should've said something to the director before we left, but he wanted to let it go.

We drove to the taco place and were eating our dinner when who showed up but the director and his family! I behaved and didn't go scream at him in English like I wanted to, but it really burned me to have him sitting so close to us, acting like nothing happened. We said hello as we left - I'd never met him and Ibis wanted to be polite - and as far as I know, that's the last we'll see of them.

I really wish we could do something. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is to me. What would you do?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Graduation Day

Today's the big day so I'm keeping this post short. Please continue to marvel over the fact that I actually wrote a writing-based post yesterday. Ooh, aah.

Pictures will be up tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Current Project

Yesterday I told myself I'd post about my new project today, assuming nothing crazy happened. I should've known better than to go and say something like that. After not having a functioning satellite dish for two days, we got that fixed just as we ran out of water. Then the internet stopped working overnight. You don't realize how addicted you are until there's an unexpected outage (as opposed to a trip where you can tell people you'll be MIA for a bit). Nine hours later, here I am.

The good side is I got a lot of writing done. If you're a regular reader you know that my memoir is about my relationship with Ibis and all the turmoil we went through when we moved to Mexico. When I finished the first draft, Ibis said, "Now you can write my memoir." My first response was "or you could write your own memoir," but the idea stuck. For various reasons I chose not to write his story, but the idea of a young Mexican man giving up everything to find a better life in the United States intrigued me. Since I didn't plan to write his personal tale, per se, I found myself free to embellish the details, adding twists that never happened to him.

I finally discovered for myself what other writers talk about when they say the main character (MC) tells the story, they just write it down. I'm nowhere near finishing but already my MC has taken side trips that I never expected - including a strip club, never saw that one coming! - and I'm enjoying how different this process is from writing a memoir.

One early reader of my memoir commented that she thought I should include more detail about Mexico itself; the little, everyday things that you can't know unless you live there. I didn't think they fit in my personal story, but I'm finding ways to work those bits and pieces into my current work in progress (wip). It makes sense for a Mexican man to notice the small details that someone new to the country would overlook.

So without further ado, here's a blurb describing my wip, tentatively title The Other Side:

Mateo's one goal is to make a new life on the other side. His first attempt to cross into the US ended with him in a border patrol holding cell, so he turns to his sister, who already made it across, for help. She tells him where to find a coyote, a man who sneaks people past the guards for a price.

Mateo doesn't realize that the coyote is part of a smuggling ring being tracked by the US government until he's already in their hands. When the crossing goes bad, he finds himself alone in the desert, with nothing but memories of home and dreams for his future to keep him alive.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Some String's Trying to Get Me

This morning, while working out, I innocently tugged at a string hanging from the side of my shirt and managed to rip a chunk out of my finger. Ouch. I carried on with my day, started laundry, read the internet, and just discovered this:


What in Tar Nation is going on? (And yes, those are Corona pajama pants, courtesy of my sister, several Christmases ago.) The strings are out to get me!

*****

In serious, writerly news, my aunt has given me the go-ahead to talk about the promotion for her book, Freezing Point, that I helped with. She's doing a "World Tour" with her book, sending it to readers in different countries, where they take pictures. I had fun toting the book to the beach, among other places, so go check out her blog!

*****

Finally, here's a picture of the sunset the night before all the rain came.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Amazing Video

I hate to double post today, but this clip from Britain's Got Talent is amazing. I had tears in my eyes!

Watch here.

I Think I've Lost My Marbles

Remember way back yesterday when I said July is hot? Seems I need to take that back. Yes, the air is so heavy you can see the hydrogen and oxygen atoms merging right in front of you, but the temperature is - get this - 74 degrees. In July.

It's been raining for about 24 hours and the clouds have blocked out the scorching sun (and my satellite signal). Last night we slept with the fan on LOW and this morning I actually wore a long sleeved-shirt. It was still sprinkling and my Midwest blood thought the mid-70s felt chilly, so I climbed inside my closet and grabbed a remnant from my old life.

By the time I'd navigated the market and walked home, I'd worked up a bit of a sweat. Before getting in the shower I did a bunch of leglifts and squats, then jogged in place for a couple minutes, because we don't have hot water. When the sun is out the water warms up but with weather like this, the water stays very cold - probably the similar to the cold tap on a normal sink or tub - and it's somewhat bearable if your body temperature is elevated.

By now you're probably wondering where the title of this blog post comes in. Right here: I got in the freezing cold shower and after the first excruciating thirty seconds, I loved it. It woke me up, refreshed me, and calmed my eternal headache. I don't know when exactly I became a person who likes cold showers, but I am. The only drawback is it's too cold to shave. ;)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July is Hot

Yesterday I realized it was a year ago this weekend that my mom first visited Zihua. It'd be pretty hot up until that point, but her visit coincided with the hottest week of the summer. It was bearable before she arrived, and it cooled off once she left, but those four days she was here... whew!

I remembered all this as I was walking through the plaza yesterday to meet a friend and I wasn't dripping with sweat. Usually, if I'm outside for more than ten minutes, I need another shower. Don't get me wrong, after window shopping for two hours then eating lunch outside, I was highly in need of some soap, but the temperature was almost balmy compared to how it's been for the past month.

I have a thermometer in my house that also gives the humidity level (50-60% is considered normal). It's actually below 80 degrees inside today (78) but the humidity is the highest it's been this year: 85%.

Can you hear me dripping from there?

UPDATE: As soon as I posted, my satellite lost the signal due to a sudden downpour. I went online to check for storms and found this:


We're between Colima and Acapulco. Batten down the hatches!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tennis Question

We've been watching a lot of tennis since our satellite arrived, and I've noticed something I hope you all can help me with:

Why, as players advance rounds, do they continue wearing the same outfits?

I'm sure they wash them, so it's not a hygiene issue, but is it for luck? Superstition? I know it can't be a rule. You must wear the same outfit for the duration of Wimbledon so we can keep track of everyone. Nadal even wore the same green outfit two tournaments in a row. (He looked very nice in it, so I'm not complaining. Just curious.)

Anyone have any insight?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

These American (or United Statesean) holidays just aren't the same when you're in another country. Nobody cares, although I did make Ibis wish me a Happy 4th.

More exciting than the non-holiday is the fact that today is Ibis's LAST day of class. He has a test this evening then graduation next Thursday. Woo-hoo! What makes this even more exciting/amusing (for me) is his class voted on matching outfits and they settled on pink oxford shirts and black pants. He came home with the shirt a couple nights ago and it's the exact shade of Pepto Bismol. Perfect. :D Yes, there will be pictures.

For those of you in the know, this also brings an end to my evening activities. Double woo-hoo!

I finished my aunt's book, Freezing Point, last night and I really like it. It's a thriller and she's found a unique way to make you jump as you whip through the pages. At one point I nearly leapt out of my skin when Ibis opened the bedroom door, then later I gasped so loudly that I woke him up, twice. That means it MUST be good.

I hope everyone stateside is having a great long weekend. As for the rest of you, Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dead Hornets

If you've ever wondered what a pile of dead hornets looks like, here ya go:


Ibis destroyed the nest on the side of his nightstand and this is what was left on the floor. Yummy.

I've since eliminated (terminated?) the ants in the kitchen, but I still have to go through the cabinets to make sure there aren't any more cockroaches.

In other news, my friend Jes has resurfaced! Hurrah!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My First ARC!

I haven't talked about this on my blog, but my Aunt Karen has her debut novel coming out this October and yesterday I received an Advance Reading Copy. Exciting!

It's called Freezing Point and here's the back copy blurb:
One man's dream of providing clean drinking water for millions, tapped from the polar ice, sparks scientific, business, and environmental conflicts. But no one can foresee the true danger hidden deep within the ice – an enemy more deadly than any could imagine, and an apocalyptic horror mankind may not survive.


Several well-known authors have given great quotes, but the best is David Morrell's, which is printed just above the title:



Do you see it? It says she's the new Michael Crichton. Wowza!

She sent me a copy so I can help out with her promotions. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say what it is, but I'll put up a link as soon as it's ready.

In the meantime, check out her link for the book.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sunday in Zihua

Yes, I realize it's Tuesday (and July, good lord) but yesterday was a little crazy. Among other things I've discovered ant nests in the handles of my blender AND coffee pot, a hornets' nest on the nightstand, and killed at least six cockroaches. Gross.

Sunday was election day here in Zihua so I went down to the plaza to take pictures of what I expected to be a chaotic scene. The two parties have campaigned heavily for the past month, plastering cars with their candidates slogans, covering buildings with banners and signs, and blasting recordings through megaphones. I assumed there'd be more of the same on the actual election day, so I hurried to the plaza to watch.

This is what I encountered:


The ballot boxes were in the gazebo and that's the only place I saw any sort of sign. This was the line:


I admit I was shocked at how quiet and orderly things were. Later that night Ibis and I decided to head down to the plaza to see if anything was going on. The community gathers there Sunday nights for food and entertainment, but we hadn't been in a while.

There was quite a display, complete with tribal headdreses and skimpy loinclothes. The vendors are in the same place as the election line in the previous shot. The rest are of different dance groups. They seem to have a thing for fire here.




Note the tiny little boy in the center of the circle. He's holding a torch as big as he is!


Here's the two of us.


And finally, boxing! Rumor has it there were supposed to be four fights, but only two boxers showed up. We stayed for the first couple rounds but had to leave because the bugs were eating me alive.


In all, a fun night!