Saturday, February 28, 2009

Follow Me, Follow You

[Warning: Shameless plug ahead]

Did you know you can follow me? As if, follow my blog? There's a gadget halfway down the page that says "Follow Me" and if you click it, you too can be a follower!

Now, I can already hear some of you grumbling that you're an individual and don't like to follow along with the crowd, but if you look at the gadget, I don't exactly have a crowd. I've started paying attention of friends' blogs and most of them have a lot more followers than me.

I know I shouldn't care, but it got me worrying that you think I'm boring or you don't really like what I have to say. Then it occurred to me that there's the outside chance you just didn't know you could follow me. That you weren't aware that possibility existed.

So, if you like me and you just didn't think to do it before, how about you click the little gadget? I swear it won't hurt. (Unless I decide to lob a grenade through the intrawebs, in which case I promise to aim at the people who irritate me, and clearly YOU are not one of those people.)

This will be very embarrassing if I don't gain any new fans, or worse, I lose some people, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

btw, by following me, I won't actually do anything to you, other than occasionally smile at your teeny profile picture when I check out my followers.

Thanks. :)

Friday, February 27, 2009

How About a Writing Post Today?

I don't have anything new to report about Mexico this morning (because I haven't looked online yet) so instead I'll talk about writing. If you recall, I received comments from my betas a couple weeks ago and was very excited to get started with my fourth draft. I'd done an exercise to help me develop a minor character into a major character, and I'd taken all kinds of notes to help me get started.

Then I didn't start.

I read a book on plotting (Plotting & Structure by James Scott Bell, part of the Write Great Fiction series) and that gave me a lot of ideas. I realized that I need to tighten my plot, develop my main character arc more fully, and give more depth to some minor characters.

But still I didn't write.

I've been taking notes over the past couple weeks when little ideas strike me. I worked out a way to keep a nice guy from looking too nice, too soon (everyone said he offered to help way too fast), and I decided to rob my MC. I've kept my little notepad (it's really just scrap paper stapled together) in front of me at all times so I can see my notes. I keep hoping a new scene will spring into my head, ready to burst onto my Word document.

Yet nothing happened.

Until this morning. Ibis left for a run and I rolled back over, hoping to go back to sleep. My mind flashed to scenes from the Twilight series, as it so often does (yes, I need help), and suddenly my thoughts shifted to my new character. She started talking to her boyfriend, and he spoke back! Her worries flooded to the surface in complete sentences!

Really? I thought. My eyes won't even open and NOW you want to talk?

I dragged myself out of bed and scribbled down her words before the sleep had left my eyes. Then I turned on the computer.

It's not a huge start, but it's a start. Roughly 400 words this morning. I'm hoping this is all I needed to get back at it.

My friend Wendy received good news yesterday, and that inspired me to get moving. So thanks Wendy!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Found a Link in English

From the AP:

On Wednesday, gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles opened fire and hurled grenades at a patrol car in Pacific resort town of Zihuatanejo, killing four officers.

The car caught fire, and the bodies of the officers were found burned inside, the Guerrero state Public Safety office said in a statement.

An hour later, gunmen shot at a police station near the Zihuatanejo airport, but nobody was hurt. It was unclear if the same assailants were behind both attacks.

For those of you who've been to Zihua, I believe "the police station near the airport" is the one when you just leave town on your way to the airport.

Calm Before the Storm

Well. The quiet day yesterday? It was short-lived.

Around 5pm state police were ambushed on the main highway, about 15 minutes south of Zihuatanejo. Four police officers were killed when the men fired a bazooka into their truck and it burst into flames.

The police didn't even have a chance to fire their weapons. The assailants fled and while the national highway was closed for two hours, as far as I know, they haven't been found. The newspaper is reporting that the checkpoint between the airport and Zihua was also hit with bullets during the attack.

There was a different shooting not long after this and most of the smaller neighborhoods near the main road have been blocked off ever since. I saw my friend this morning and she said her street has been blocked since last night.

I'll post a link in English if I find one, but for now you can go here to see photos and read the story in Spanish.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quiet Day

I have no new or scary news to report today. Phew!

Yesterday's snorkeling was canceled so we just went to the beach instead, and today I'm joining my friend/former teacher at her hotel to hang out by the pool. They have TIGHT security so I figure I'm just doing my part to stay safe. ;)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Mexican Police Force on Strike After Grenade Attack"

We could have predicted this:

MEXICO CITY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The entire local police force in a Mexican beach resort town walked off the job on Monday demanding better pay and benefits to compensate for the rising dangers they face from drug violence.

More than 300 municipal police officers in Zihuatanejo, a town on the Pacific coast north of Acapulco popular with foreign tourists, went on strike after grenades were lobbed at their offices over the weekend.

Some 6,000 people were killed last year in clashes between rival drug cartels and security forces that have escalated since President Felipe Calderon deployed some 45,000 soldiers and federal police around Mexico to clamp down on cartels.

More than 500 of those killed in last year's drug violence were police.

On Saturday, gunmen threw two grenades at the main police station in Zihuatanejo. While no one was killed, police say they are not adequately covered if a future attack is fatal.

"We are seeing a lot things here that we have never seen before. It is our job to serve the citizens, but we need assurances that our families will be protected if one of us is killed," a member of Zihuatanejo's municipal police told Reuters.

The police want to have direct talks with Calderon to request improved benefits and an increase in their roughly $350 (5,200 pesos) per month salaries before they go back to work. (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; editing by Todd Eastham)

This was the story around town yesterday, but since it happened in the morning it wasn't in the daily paper. We'll pick that up later this morning.

There's a rumor going around that there was another grenade/explosion Monday afternoon around 2:30pm, somewhere near downtown. I haven't been able to find anything online about this so I'm hoping it's just over-excited tourists that are now hyper-sensitive to sounds they've never noticed before. But I talked with several people who all heard something around the same time (once again, I didn't hear anything), so we'll see. News doesn't travel very quickly down here so we may not know anything until later today.

In the meantime, there has been a marked increase in robberies, particularly from tourists. Over the weekend police raided the beach near where Ibis works and arrested people on two different nights. There have been over 50 laptops stolen from hotel rooms, and one victim I talked to yesterday said his friends were robbed at knifepoint - in their hotel room. A lot of the older hotels have open-air rooms and there's no way to keep a determined thief out.

I've made a point to only carry a little cash and leave my debit card at home, but other than hiding indoors, there's not much else I can do. Ibis and I are going snorkeling with guests from the hotel this afternoon, so that will be a nice break from the chaos. Hopefully everything will still be in one piece when we return.

UPDATE: There was nothing in today's paper about another attack, just lots of photos of the officers striking (ie, sitting around).

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Attack wounds 5 in Zihuatanejo"

From The News:

Assailants in an SUV hurled two grenades at a police station in the Pacific resort town of Zihuatanejo on Saturday, wounding one officer and four civilians.

Police and soldiers stepped up patrols and set up extra checkpoints after the attack in the popular beach town, according to the Guerrero Public Security Secretariat.

Three taxi drivers, a woman and a policeman were hurt.

The attack came a day after soldiers in Zihuatanejo arrested nine people in an organized crime sting - including the son of the former mayor of nearby Petatlán.

Officials in Zihuatanejo told the Spanish news agency Efe that they were investigating the possibility that Saturday's attack was an act of retribution for the arrests.

Grenade attacks have become a fixture in the nation's brutal cartel-related violence. Last week, five civilians and an officer were wounded in a grenade assault on a police patrol in western Michoacán.

On Wednesday, police reported finding the bound and bullet-ridden bodies of two men in a car in Zihuatanejo.

Zihuatanejo has suffered mounting violence in recent years as the area has become a key smuggling corridor for South American cocaine.

Now for a few details this story doesn't tell:

- You know the track I mentioned last week? The one where we've been going running? It's across the street from the police station and Ibis was there when the grenades exploded. He figures he was about 150 meters away and said he's never heard anything so loud.

We didn't find out until Saturday afternoon that it was a grenade attack; until that point a lot of people in town assumed it was a gas tank that exploded (something that's frighteningly common here).

- Among the nine people arrested on Friday was the son of the former mayor of Petatlan. I've mentioned Petatlan here before - it's the town that has had the ongoing violence between two drug families and the place we've stopped visiting because it's so dangerous.

Well some media outlets were reporting that the former mayor was among those arrested, so Saturday afternoon he held a press conference in Zihua to tell everyone that he's not involved with drugs. He went on to say that the business next door to his house is the one who's dealing drugs, and he questioned why the police didn't search that building.

Four hours later he was gunned down in the street. "Riddled with bullets" is how the newspaper described it.

Last night I found out that the former mayor was also Ibis' boss's godfather.

- Finally, the "western Michoacan" town that's mentioned in the article is Lazaro Cardenas, where my in-laws live and where we lived our first several months in Mexico.

This is all a little too close for comfort.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Envelope

Janna posted a writing prompt a couple days ago based on a photo of a letter. I thought I'd share what I wrote. It's inspired by my gramma, who's still very much alive. :)

The Envelope

The handwriting caught my eye, and my hand froze over the book. The tattered envelope stood upright between the open pages, beckoning to me. I peeked inside. Would it still be there after all this time?

The brittle seed slid out of the envelope, and I smiled as the scent of roses surrounded me.

As a kid I leapt with joy when a new letter arrived. It wasn't her words that I looked forward to, it was the surprises she'd tuck between the pages. Pieces of cinnamon gum, stickers for my notebook, and my favorite – the helicopter seeds that came from the tree in her backyard. Over and over, I'd throw the seeds into the air, then tilt my head back as they showered down around me, the scent of her roses still clinging to the paper-thin husks. When they'd scattered too far to collect, I'd unfold the letter and feel her presence wash over me.

I wish I could be there with you.

All my love,

The surprises changed as I grew older. Five dollar bills replaced the gum, gift cards replaced the stickers. But every so often an envelope would arrive stuffed with helicopter seeds, and I'd race outside to throw them in the air, imagining her by my side.

The letters stopped, as I knew they one day would. Sometimes I'd pass a tree with the seeds still clinging to the branches and I'd lift my face towards them, hoping to bring her back.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Like, Woah

I had a bit of a mental pause this morning. Ibis asked what today's date is, then answered himself before I could. He was shocked to discover it's already February 20th. We couldn't believe it's almost the end of February already!

It seems we do this every year - shake our heads in disbelief at how quickly time passes. But what's crazy about THIS particular February 20th is in a little over ten months it'll be 2010.

As in A Space Odyssey. Are you kidding me?

I remember being a kid and daydreaming about what life would be like in the year 2010. For sure we'd have hover crafts - there was no question about that - but what would we wear? Would we eat freeze-dried food like that astronaut ice cream we bought at the Air & Space Museum? Would we be best buddies with the little green men from Mars?

Surprisingly, our clothes are pretty much the same as what we wore in the 80s (minus a bit of florescent coloring), people still seem to prefer natural foods (although some junk food has me wondering), and we've yet to make contact with Martians (but not for lack of trying.) As for the hovercrafts, if this economy keeps up we won't be going anywhere, so our form of transportation won't be as important compared with the basic necessities.

Aside from the technological advances, our lives are still pretty much the same as they were back then. We're in closer communication with everyone, but we still have the same worries, the same fears, and the same hopes for future generations. Even if it is almost the "future."

Is there anything that you thought would be part of our daily lives by now that isn't? Or something that is that's surprised you?

Now please excuse me while I go polish my moon boots.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Utilize This

Dear Mexico,

I've been living here for almost two years and while I've come to appreciate the vast differences between you and my native country, there is one area that I need to discuss with you.

The utilities.

Back home, we received monthly bills for gas, electricity, phone/internet, and cable. I would slip a check into the provided envelope and mail them back to you. Some people paid them online (something I was about to switch to when we moved) and others have the amount due automatically withdrawn from their checking account.

You do things a little differently: you make people pay their gas, water, and electric bills in person. In a country where people the postal system is a joke, I can understand not wanting to trust your revenue to the men in pink and green, plus a lot of people cannot afford stamps. I dutifully go to TelMex and CFE when my bills are due and wait in line with everyone else.

But then there's the satellite service, which doesn't send a bill at all. We pay over the telephone, but it doesn't always take effect and, more times than not, we lose service for a day or so. With the Oscars approaching around the time the bill is due, I'm very nervous something will go wrong. (This same concern happened last month with the Superbowl.) I know it seems logical to just pay the bill early, but I don't even know the exact date it's due.

I mentioned the horrid postal service earlier, and this is another thorn in my side. You see, the developers for our condo moved out last fall but they never set up mailboxes for the people who live here. While they were still here, they received our mail and would flag us down if we had anything. Now the mailman sticks letters and bills between the metal bars and the glass on the vacant office's door. If we're lucky we'll see if something arrived for us (I did get my grandmother's Christmas card) but we went four months without ever receiving a phone bill. Again, I know when it's due, so I just bring the old bill to TelMex and make sure I have enough cash to cover what I think will be the amount due. (It varies because they charge for every phone call.)

Even though we've paid our telephone bill on time every month, I often find myself without service, sometimes for an entire day or two. My internet (almost) always works, but the phone line will go staticky and the phone will be useless. I'd understand if the internet also didn't work, since they're on the same line, but it's just the phone. This has been going on for over a year and is just another thing I've come to expect.

Finally, the electric company. Every two months someone comes and places a sheet of paper (the bill) on the meters on the far side of the parking lot. For several months I thought the bill was due every three months, and I cannot seem to keep it in my head to watch for the bill more frequently. Two days ago our power went out (as it does quite often - just another charming aspect of Mexico) but when we heard the radios in the neighborhood start back up and our power didn't return, we knew something was going on. My husband stopped at the electric company on his way to work and discovered our bill was less than a week overdue. One week, and they cut the power off. If we could just get a bill like I'm used to, this wouldn't be a problem.

I also have issues with the water constantly running out, but I'll save that for another time.

Irrationally yours,

ETA: I also have issues about this, but that's a lot more than I can fit into this post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

About That Writing Thing

Remember last week when I was all excited about starting the next draft of The Other Side? I still am, but I haven't done much with it. I'm thinking about it, tossing around different ways to make it better, but as for opening the Word file and getting started... that hasn't happened.

Part of the reason for the delay is that I've been hanging out with my dad a little more in the past week. He's only here for another three weeks and I don't want to regret not taking advantage of seeing him while I can. Given how awful the publishing industry is right now, I figure a week or two away from my wip isn't going to make or break me.

The other reason is I've been working on my Dreamweaver tutorial, doing my best to learn the software so I can start designing sites on my own. I'm at the point where the exercises are getting into things that I don't necessarily need to start designing, so I'd like to start putting together my dad's site today. (I also said that yesterday and instead I read this all day long.)

The one thing I have been doing to help my writing cause is reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. It's given me a lot of inspiration for ways to improve my wip and really make it more exciting. One common note I received from my betas is that certain scenes lacked conflict, the key thing required to keep a story moving. This book has given me ideas on how to improve my slower scenes and make the entire wip much more exciting. It's also given me ideas for improving my nano novel, but I'm not allowing myself to work on that right now.

So, with all these different things on my plate, I feel like I'm back in school. A couple hours for Dreamweaver, a couple hours reading about plotting, plus a little time learning InDesign, a page-layout program from Adobe. At least I'm making good use of my time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sore Muscles and a Snake

Wow. I can barely move. Today is actually better than yesterday, but good god do I hurt.

Now, for those of you who've known me for awhile, you know that I've always been athletic so it always comes as a bit of a surprise when I actually have sore muscles. I'm usually in pretty good shape and only feel sore when I play a new sport (the first tennis game each spring always kills me) or if I injure myself. But since I've been slacking, my body is rebelling.

Right now my abs are the worst. I'm not sure if it was the big-boy push-ups I did or what, but I can't seem to sit up from a lying position. (Very stressful while sitting in a beach chair.) After the running yesterday morning, Ibis and I went to the beach with my dad where we played a bit of soccer, volleyball, and walked another mile or two. Today I'm moving as little as possible. He, of course, also swam several miles and is at the gym again today, crazy boy.

Now for the snake. We were in the ocean hitting the volleyball back and forth, during which time he spiked one in my belly when I wasn't looking. After I got him back, we called it quits and were heading back to shore when I stepped on something smooth and slithery. I screamed and leapt into the air, only to step on it again, and I think I levitated at point until I was safely on dry land.

There was a couple nearby who'd been watching something in the water, and they smiled and told Ibis what I'd stepped on. It took a moment for him to translate, but finally he looked at me and said, "snake."


After a few convulsions, I went back to the safety of my chair and didn't move again for several hours. I'm not sure how soon I'll be going back in the ocean.

Have you ever stepped on something creepy?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Running Again

I stopped running sometime in October, about the time my best friend came to visit and brought me a workout DVD. I'm really not a runner at heart - I've only ever tolerated it when it served a higher purpose, like helping me sprint down the lacrosse field faster or catch a long pass. Running for running's sake has never appealed to me, but my options are fairly limited here and I chose boredom over gaining weight.

Well, the workout video worked well enough, but I got bored with it, too, and for the past month or so I haven't done much at all. I've reached the critical stage where my shorts are clinging in ways I'd rather not discuss, so I decided it's time to crack down.

Ibis stopped running long before I did, but he sprints up and down the 60+ stairs at work all day long, and the weight took a little longer to catch up with him. But catch up it did, and two weeks ago he started running every morning. For three hours... *shakes head*

We've negotiated that every other day will be a "short" day so I can join him, and I'm proud to say I ran a mile and a half today, and walked the rest of two miles. He's been going to the city's public park and I had no idea that it has a track, a gym, and all kinds of exercise apparatus (apparatuses? apparati?)

There were a lot of people there so I think I'll be able to stick with this a little longer, plus we went long before the sun rose and it was still quite cool out. I just need to get our iPod shuffle in working order and I'll be all set!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy V-Day everyone. :)

I have a busy day today, with two trips to the airport and a grocery store run for people who are supposed to arrive at 2am (which technically means three airport trips). We're hoping to go to a place in Ixtapa that's having a salsa dancing competition (no, we'll just be watching) but after a long day, odds are good Ibis will be tired. I may have to get my romance in the string of movies on tv today.

I got comments from my final beta reader yesterday, and while it certainly wasn't a love-filled valentine, he made a lot of good points that my other readers didn't mention. Whether that's because he was the only man to read it, because the others were just being nice, or what have you, I have a lot of work to do! I haven't done any new writing so far - just plotting for the expanded character - so now I can finally jump in.

So, it looks like it'll be a busy day for me. Do you have special plans?

Friday, February 13, 2009

English Class

Ibis's brother is an English teacher in Lazaro Cardenas and two days ago he asked if I'd be willing to talk to his class via webcam. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but figured it could be fun.

We talked for fifteen minutes this morning and it was very entertaining. His class is full of twelve-year-olds and most of them had questions prepared, things like what's my favorite movie and do I like wrestling.

I took several screen-captures while we talked to share with you:

Ibis' brother is in the back in the yellow shirt, holding a microphone.

I told them I'd be happy to do this again, so I'll let you know if we do!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Character Development

Over the weekend I got feedback from a beta reader on The Other Side, and one of her suggestions was to add a subplot by expanding one of the minor characters. She wasn't the first person to suggest this, but she was the first person to phrase it in a way that the idea immediately took form in my mind. Or if not immediately, very soon after my initial "whaaaaaaa?" reaction. ;)

I knew it would be a lot of work, and that's not a problem, but I wasn't sure where to start. Lucky for me I have very creative friends. There have been a LOT of meme's going around Facebook and my friend Turkey (Ms. Lurkey to some of you) twisted one of the "getting to know you" chain mail letters and turned it into a character development exercise.


This is what I needed to figure out how to expand my minor character!

Here's what I came up with for Claudia, the main character's sister:

• Outside my window... the bushes need to be trimmed and the neighbor kid's tricycle has been laying there for a week. I hope she's okay. The drain spout is broken and the water has stained the yellow paint an ugly brown. A window in the apartment on the other side of the courtyard was broken a couple nights ago and now there's a blue canvas taped over it.

• I am thinking... that Mateo has no idea what it's really like here. True, he's always been able to adapt a little better than me, but it's not as easy as he thinks. I've kept mama and the rest of the family from knowing the truth, but it won't be so easy now.

• I am thankful for... that's a tough one. I love Jorge, but he's always so tired after work that he sometimes forgets to show me that he loves me back. He's so angry all the time. At least he helps with the bills. And he's letting Mateo stay here, at least for a week or so. Hopefully Mateo can find his own place soon.

• From the kitchen... I can smell the chicken grilling in the pan. Jorge teases that's the only reason he stays with me. I really should remember to thank mama for teaching me to cook the next time we talk.

• I am wearing... the same black pants I wear everyday. I can't afford more right now so I wash them every night after work. They're usually dry by morning. My shirt is one of several that I have. I don't really like the style but they don't have much selection at the second-hand store.

• I am creating... a sense of panic. I need to stop worrying about Mateo. He sounded fine when we spoke. He's a horrible liar and I would have been able to tell if he wasn't telling the truth. But I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong.

• I am going... to the pawn shop tomorrow to hock Jorge's [something valuable]. I need the money to help pay for Mateo to cross. He's bringing money but I have to pay before the coyote will release him, then he's supposed to pay me back as soon as he gets here. Then I just need to make sure I get back to the pawn shop before they sell it, or before Jorge notices it's missing.

• I am reading... the local Spanish newspaper. That's the good thing about LA - there are a lot of Hispanics and I get around pretty well without any English. Sometimes people are rude, and occasionally I don't get what I thought I was asking for, but really, it's not so bad.

• I am hoping... that Mateo gets here soon. I know the coyote said for him to meet on Thursday, so I probably won't hear anything from Mateo until Thursday night, but this waiting is killing me. I'm a little worried having that coyote know where I live, but what other choice did I have?

• I am hearing... that it's getting harder and harder for the illegals. There was another raid over the weekend and at least one of my friends was caught. I wonder if they're hiring yet. It may not be the type of job Mateo wants, but he's lucky to have me here doing this for him. I didn't have anyone to help me, and look how well I'm doing now. Well...

• Around the house... is very little evidence of my life here. You'd think I'd have more things after living here for two years, but I've sent a lot of money home - they don't understand how expensive it is here - and there's not much left over. A few pictures on the wall, a couple VHS movies, that's about it.

• One of my favorite things... is the framed photo of my family that's hanging in the bedroom. I carried it over with me and had to fold it, but most of the creases are smoothed out. Our baby sister's face is hard to see because it folded right there, but you can see everyone else. Besides, from what mama says, she doesn't look like that much anymore.

• Plans for the future... gosh, just hanging on to my job. I'm hoping Jorge will propose soon, then we can start a family. So right now I just have to keep saving. I told Mateo I'd put up the money for the coyote as long as he pays me back as soon as he gets here. I've had to borrow from all over and some of those people will turn if I'm late paying them back.


I don't know how exciting this was for you to read, but it's really helped me get inside Claudia's head and figure out how to tell her side of the story. This probably makes a little more sense for those of you who've already read it, but I hope this exercise is something you all can use.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cloudy Days Aren't So Bad

I'm sure most of you have heard me comment that I look forward to cloudy days (and then you probably shake your head at me). I'm still not used to eternal sunshine and need a gray day to set my insides right again. It also helps when trying to write.

Yesterday I woke up to this:

Not a bad sunrise, if I do say so myself. Of course the clouds burned away by mid-morning and it was another sunny day in Zihua, but I enjoyed the change in atmosphere while it lasted.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Young Adult

Let me start by saying this: I'm glad high school is over. I was fairly lucky - I got good grades, I was able to play sports, and I had a fair amount of friends, but I still had a handful of people who made it their life's mission to make my life a living hell. As I went to boarding school, they had plenty of time to plan their attacks.

I've moved past that time in my life, but something about that time in my life has continued to draw me in. The feeling like no one else understands you, that no one has ever experienced what you're going through, the first blush of new love... I still get swept up in those stories. I'm drawn to movies about teenagers and recently the latest round of teen tv shows have sucked me in.

I always figured it was just me refusing to grow up, but as I've learned more about writing and written more myself, I'm beginning to think there's something more. The novel I started for NaNoWriMo has three points of view: two adults and one teenager, Becca. The story revolves around something that happens to Becca and addresses how it affects all of them, but while I was writing I found myself wanting to focus on her, to keep telling the story from her point of view.

I'm not so dense that I didn't question whether the story should only be told from Becca's perspective, but at the time I decided to keep going as I wrote it. I still wasn't sure how a few plot points would work out and figured it would be resolved through Becca's father's POV. I set the story aside at the end of November and returned to my current MS, but the nano novel has stayed in the back of my mind.

Enter the Twilight series. I really enjoyed the books and caught myself noticing similarities to how Bella and Edward's relationship plays out and how mine does. (I swear Becca's name wasn't based on Bella's...) Not the plot, just little interactions between the characters, things they do, that sort of thing. That was the first time I realized that maybe I was on to something here.

I've mentioned my curiosity about writing young adult (YA) to a couple friends, and they've said they think my voice lends itself to YA. Of course that made me question my level of maturity, but who am I kidding? I always say I don't feel like an adult, so who better to write for teens?

Then I read this post by agent Kristin Nelson. She talks about how she feels she stumbled into representing YA and how her husband wasn't at all surprised by the decision. It's given me a fresh perspective on the thoughts bouncing around in my head. I know my current wip is not YA, even though the MC is 19 years old, but I don't think I want to settle on one genre, not yet.

What about you? How have you found your genres?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fill in the Blank

Janna posted prompts on her blog yesterday and I thought I'd share my answers with you today.

Outside my window... it's sunny, as usual.

I am thinking... I hope this isn't a migraine coming on and that I just need to eat something.

I am thankful for... my aunt. She gave me WONDERFUL suggestions for my book. Not easy suggestions, but very very helpful.

From the kitchen... I can hear the washing machine. And I just realized I forgot to turn on the dryer.

I am wearing... tank top and shorts.

I am creating... new chapters in my head.

I am going... to get through a couple more chapters of my Dreamweaver training book today.

I am reading... nothing at the moment. I finished the Twilight series and can't stop thinking about the Cullens.

I am hoping... we hear good news this spring.

I am hearing... ER on the tv.

Around the house... there's a lot of dust.

One of my favorite things... is sleeping soundly through the night. I did last night.

Plans for the weekend... nothing. We went to dinner with my dad at the marina last night and that was enough for me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Friday

Can you believe it's already the end of the first week of February? In 2009? Sheesh.

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today so this will be a short one. Nothing serious, I just don't know how long I can sit in front of a computer today.

We watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night (well, I watched it, he fell asleep after 20 minutes) and wow, it lives up to all the hype. A lot of the story focuses on the relationship between Benjamin and Daisy, but it also follows his peculiar life as he grows younger. The story is framed with a old woman telling the story in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, just another interesting touch. Needless to say, I bawled. I mean, sobbed. I haven't cried like this since The Notebook, which means I highly recommend it.

I'm also in the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn - this one is 754 pages - and hope I can get the Cullens out of my head once I finish.

Any good books or movies to recommend?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Facebook Rantini*

First, I dug through my blog list and I cannot remember where I just read the term rantini. Basically it's a mini rant, something small you need to get off your chest but really won't affect anything important in your day. I wanted to give credit where credit is due, but I can't find you. If this is from your blog, let me know and I'll put in a link.

UPDATE: It was Amy Nathan! Thanks, Spy, for reminding me.

Now, on to my rantini.

I've been on Facebook since July and I love love love it. I've found a ton of old friends, made a few new ones, and spend countless hours playing word games. I love word games.

But. It seems to me that basic courtesy is lost on some people. Maybe they aren't socially skilled, maybe they think the internet eliminates the need for basic manners, or they just think I want 10,000 friends. I don't. At least once a week I get a friend request from someone I've never met, never talked to, never noticed on a friend's page. They don't include an introduction, they just click "Add a Friend" and wait for the magic to happen. I don't think so.

Occasionally I add the person if I see we have 20 friends in common from Absolute Write, but not always. A few weeks ago I actually sent a note to the person asking how I knew her because while we only had two mutual friends, she's from my hometown. Could be a coincidence. She wrote back saying she saw me through a friend of a friend. No further explanation, nothing friendly.

Now you're probably thinking, well duh, that's a no-brainer. Deny! Yet it still took me a couple more days to actually click "Ignore." I felt guilty afterwards, but haven't lost any sleep over it.

Yesterday I received another of these invites. No explanation of where we may know each other from, just a couple mutual friends. The invite is sitting in my requests folder, taunting me. I hate that I'm so nice and always consider everyone's feelings before doing anything. They didn't consider mine, so why should it matter?

Here's the part that kills me: would you go up to a stranger at a bookstore or mall and invite them to dinner? Or to your house to see your family photos? Or to eavesdrop on conversations with your real friends? Of course not. So why do people think it's ok to be so rude online?

I guess I've answered my question what to do here.

I will say this, one person I friended that I didn't know - Aerin - did it the right way. She said where we knew each other from and asked if we could be friends. Probably took her two seconds to write that but I clicked "Accept" without hesitation. (Maybe I should reevaluate that quick impulse, but in this case it worked out fine.)

You've probably guessed how I behave when sending friend requests, and it's worse than you think. Unless I'm 1000% certain the person knows me, I ALWAYS say where we know each other from - something that seemed more important before I added my maiden name to my ID. I friended a cousin a couple days ago that is only nineteen - we've only seen each other a handful of times in my life and I wasn't completely sure he'd recognize my name so I ALMOST said "hey, it's your cousin!" I didn't because I figured he'd think I'm crazy, but that's the ONLY reason. Yes, overkill, I know.

I think I'm going to pare down my friend list today...


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Taking It Too Far

As most of you are aware, I've been reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series for almost two weeks now. I'm halfway through the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, and cannot get enough of them. My sleep schedule is all out of whack, I find myself comparing strangers to vampires, I've convinced myself my friend's puppy is part wolf (er... werewolf), and I can't stop talking about that damned Edward.

That said, I completely agree with what most people say about the writing quality: that it's not so good. Meyer's can't get through a page with using extreme adverbs, extensive sighing, and mucho gazing. So why am I still reading, and obsessively at that? Because she tells a good story. Her target audience is teenaged girls, and wow, does she nail that "oh my god I love him so much I can't think straight unless he's right next to me and even then I can't breathe because he's right next to me and I'll never find anyone who I love so much in my whole life" feeling that rules teens' existence. It's been fun thinking like a teenager again. (And dammit, I WON'T find anyone to love me like Edward!)

Several of my friends who've already read the series have been humoring me as I make my way through the series, teasing me with what's to come and using extreme adverbs for me. Yesterday Turkey sent me a link that has me shaking my head. In a recent interview with USA Weekend, Stephen King compared Meyer with JK Rowling, saying:

"Both Rowling and Meyer, they're speaking directly to young people... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good."

Now, I'm not saying I disagree, but I don't really see the benefit to King saying something like this. He does explain a little:

"People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it's very clear that she's writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It's exciting and it's thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because it's not overtly sexual."

So while he thinks she sucks, he still understands the appeal. I have visions of Dan Brown arguments swirling through my head, and I'm wondering if any bestselling authors bashed him after The DaVinci Code. I know Mr. King is entitled to his opinion, but do you think he went too far in this interview? At one point is it okay to stop supporting your fellow writer?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Airport

Those of you on facebook know that I've been spending a lot of time at the airport lately. The winter months are considered high season here and a lot more tourists come to visit this time of year. As a way to make extra money, Ibis sometimes sends me to the airport to pick up guests, and we also bring them back at the end of their stay. We charge less than the taxis so the guests get a deal and we get extra money.

The first time I stepped into the airport with my hand-written sign, I was nervous. Would the people see me? Would the real taxi drivers yell at me for stealing their business (something I'm still careful about...)? Would they expect me to haul their luggage to the car? Then there's the fact that we don't have air conditioning, but so far no one has complained.

Despite my nervousness, it's always gone smoothly (knock on wood) and I usually have a pleasant conversation with the guests. Sometimes we talk about the area, occasionally we end up discussing writing (I swear I try not to!), and yesterday we talked about the changing economy. I often don't see these people again, but for ten minutes they're my new friends. There are a few people that I do see repeatedly, and many of those guests have become our friends. One couple that we met last year brought me M&Ms and a new Sudoku book, while others have taken us out to dinner. We even had one woman join us for a night out with my dad before my mom and sister arrived.

But they aren't the main reason for this post - this actually ties back into writing. You see, when I'm standing at the gate with my much more professional looking printed sign, I get to watch people. Families, groups of friends, solo travelers - they stream through the sliding glass doors with a slightly dazed look on their face, most of them trying to act like they know where they're going. The repeat visitors do, and it's easy to pick them out, but most of them stumble into the heat in their jeans and zip-up hoodies, their eyes glazing over when they see all the taxi drivers shouting for their business.

Ibis' hotel seems to attract a certain type of traveler. I'd rate it a 2-3 star place; it's a great location with full kitchens, but it's certainly not a 5-star hotel. The people who choose to stay there tend to be a little more laid back, borderline quirky, and never come loaded down with twenty suitcases. As the travelers step towards me, I try to guess who will turn out to be John Smith (the names are never that normal), and I make up stories for everyone who walks past me. Some smile when they see me watching me, while others breeze past, in a hurry to get to the waiting shuttle. (My guests never breeze.)

I love watching them and guessing where they're from, what they do back home, and what their relationships are with the people around them. One group that stands out is a family I saw recently: two parents and three kids, all decked out in trendy/borderline goth type clothes. All I could think is those poor kids are going to sweat in all those clothes, and their carefully planned pale skin is going to fry! I like to imagine them playing on the beach, the pretense slowing slipping away, all smiles by the end of their stay.

I haven't brought a notebook yet, but these travelers are all in my head, knocking their suitcases against each other, looking for the beach.

Oh, and most people turn me down when I offer to take their bags, but I do try to help get it into the trunk. Usually the men smirk at my 5'1" self and toss the bags in themselves.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Brain Dead

I cannot think of anything to write about today, so I'll open it up to you. Anything you want to ask me? I can't promise I'll answer everything, but I'll do my best.