Monthly Archives: December 2014

I Survived Christmas 2014

2014-12-25 09.22.36I Survived Christmas 2014 – I think I could write a novella and name it that. Between out of town relatives that my moody teens barely spoke to, unexpected snowfalls, burst pipes, and cat angst and relocation, I think this holiday has been memorable. Let’s talk about cats because no one really cares about moody teenagers. It’s what they are. Especially when you’re down a cat.

Remember how, many moons ago, we added Princess to the family to solve the problem of the teens fighting over possession of Darth Jingles? Then the cats didn’t get along. I figured these things take time. Yeah, well, the cats decided otherwise. Hubby broke up a lot of cat fights, so that made him extra unpopular with Princess. She was The Girl’s Siamese and would only lower herself to mingle with the other household peons if we had food. Although, honestly, the cat weighed a ton. Food was the last thing she really needed.

In her little kitty mind, Hubby threw down the gauntlet – he didn’t share his morning bowl of cereal. Not that he didn’t let her have the milk after he’d eaten the cereal, because that was an established routine. Princess upped her demands and wanted his Cheerios. Hubby refused. That sort of uppity behavior was not to be tolerated. She stared right at him, and peed on his socks. It went downhill from there. Princess targeted Hubby for a week for her revenge potty warfare and probably didn’t know she was in danger of becoming an outdoor – only cat with snowfall looming on the horizon.

What saved her? Well oddly, in an attempt to cut down cat fights at night, we’ve been tossing both feline arses outside all day to work off some energy. Little did we know Princess went from our house straight to Mr. & Mrs. Patience’s house and hung out with their dog. (Mr. & Mrs. Patience have four teens of their own and all of their kids’ friends and neighborhood teens hang out at their house. They even feed them. What would you call them?) When Mr. Patience opened the back door to let their dog in, Princess went in too. She jumped up on their sofa beside the dog, curled up, and slept all day. We’d wondered why she still had energy to prowl and cause mischief all night after being outside all day.

Hubby dropped in on Mr. Patience to ask about – I really don’t remember or care – and found our cat on his sofa! He called me and I came over to see. I was mortified. Mr. Patience laughed, he didn’t mind cat sitting our little hellion. In fact, he had a friend over the other day sitting there on his sofa, petting our cat, and commenting she was going to steal this cat because it was so soft and docile. Really? Well actually…

So Princess found a new home (with three other cats, two dogs, and some birds) on a trial basis. She fit in well and they kept her. The Girl was a little put out, but understanding. Darth Jingles is like a new cat. She is extra lovey and purring all the time. It’s like she’s either really grateful we got rid of the interloper, or she’s trying to prove she is cat enough for the family and we don’t need another one. Either way it works.

Okay, it did work – until we left her alone Christmas Eve and went to Hubby’s parent’s house. Jingles has been alone all day before without trouble, but apparently doesn’t like being left alone at night. That or she knew it was Christmas and the last two years we’d taken her with us to see the Grandma who likes little black cats. She likes to play hard to get, which isn’t hard when you’re playing with a frail woman over eighty. Anyway, we came home to find paper and ribbons all over the living room, a lamp knocked over and chipped, and ornaments knocked off the trees. Yes plural on the trees, each kid had their own to decorate.

Whatever, I didn’t even scold her because we did leave her home on the holiday. Our fault, moving on. She wouldn’t have enjoyed it. We spent most of Christmas day trying to soak up water from the downstairs bathroom after a hose came loose under the sink and gallons of hot water flooded the bathroom, hall, and utility room. They’re getting a Shop-Vac for Christmas next year. Hubby’s parents are impossible to shop for, and now I know what they don’t have. Using a Green Machine to suck up gallons of water was, well, it was inefficient. They also don’t have a box fan, so there’s one birthday down.

On the plus side, The Girl wanted a white Christmas and she got it. The winter storm warnings indicated we wouldn’t get snow where we were, but they were a little off. Only off by about eight inches or so, no big deal. Enough for her to play in and it’s kept the cat mostly house bound. It’s okay though. Since we relocated Princess, Jingles has been much nicer, even to Hubby. Smart cat.

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I try to experience new things, grow and learn from new experiences. I genuinely want to keep an open mind. There is a limit. Now let’s talk about B movies.

Hubby recently discovered I’d never watched Arachnophobia. Oddly, it has not once occurred to me to consider this a deficit in my pursuit of theatrical enlightenment. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of movies I haven’t seen. Titanic 2, for example. Does it really matter that I haven’t seen it? No. From talking to The Girl, I’m actually better off. I’ve seen such B movie classics as Rocky Horror Picture Show, Buckaroo Banzai, Sharknado, and Megashark vs Crocosaurus, and others that I’d rather forget like Airplane vs Volcano, Two-Headed Shark Attack, and Dracula 3000. Bit heavy on the sharks there, hmm.

Now some B movies just happen to be low budget and that’s all that really holds them in that category. For me it isn’t enough. A B movie isn’t all about budget anymore. Technically, Arachnophobia, isn’t a B movie. It had a big budget and was billed as a horror-comedy. Yeah. I’m going to shove it in the B movie category anyway because, while some movies are intentionally ridiculous and bad, some try for greatness and fail.

Regardless of how you want to categorize Arachnophobia, it’s ridiculous. Yet Hubby insists I watch it. I tried to explain that it’s not exactly an oversight that I haven’t seen it. “Tried” being the operative word there. Odd, usually I’m fairly articulate. I would have thought, after 22 years of marriage, that he’d be aware I’m not fond of spiders. Somehow, I’ve neglected to mention it to him. This is why women shouldn’t kill their own spiders, ladies. Apparently, men can only see women in two ways: we’re either terrified of the tiniest eight-legged arthropod, or we love them. It’s beyond weird.

Anyway, I did manage to watch it with him while The Girl was at school. Why? Because she falls into the ‘terrified of the tiniest eight-legged arthropod’ category of women. I haven’t convinced my “self-rescuing princess” (per her T-shirt) that she can rescue herself from a spider. Getting there.

So Hubby and I sat down to watch a movie designed to reducing me to a twitching mess. I had a roommate in college who couldn’t help herself from going to movies, then coming home and giving me a play-by-play of the entire storyline. I knew everything that was going to happen because this was one movie that I didn’t mind so much not bothering to go see myself. I knew the story wasn’t scary (to me) it was just going to get me on the startles. I really don’t like those. I anticipated, after this movie, walking around the house, staring at the floor with suspicion and looking for invisible spiders.

Note on the invisible spiders for those who haven’t read those older posts: every house has its own species of indoor spider. The variety that lives in this house is different than our previous house, to the glee of the children. Spiders in this house are only seen on the walls. (Clearly we have fewer here.) Let’s take a closer look at that sentence, shall we? It’s completely true, and yet misleading. Spiders in this house are only seen on the walls. That’s because they exactly match the carpet. I’m serious. If you go to whack one, and miss, and it falls – you will never find it. The spider becomes invisible. Except to cats, who occasionally can be found to seemingly stalk and play with air. It’s bizarre and unnerving. (The next house will have blue walls and floors. I want to see them coming.)

So I have invisible spiders and I just watched Arachnophobia, anyone see a problem? I now have images in my mind that spiders can hiss at you (who knew?), stalk you (I suspected this already), and can fling themselves the length of the room as if they could fly (as if rappelling down invisible lines wasn’t bad enough). I may have to get back to you on how this new information impacts my view of spiders in my little corner of the world. The season for invisible spiders has largely passed, so I may be safe. Although I believe the rules of marriage give me the right to demand Hubby sit through a chic-flick with me now. I’m perusing the options.

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I wrote something. Yay! Now what?


NaNoWriMo is over. Many of you are surely relieved. Some because they don’t do this sort of thing to themselves and are tired of hearing about it. Others because they did and now they want to collapse into a puddle on the floor. A few wish it would have gone on a little longer so they could get just a few more words in.

Whether you won or not is irrelevant now actually. Okay, winning is better, you get that high from achievement. But honestly, what matters is setting out to accomplish something, giving it your best, and being able to walk away knowing that you really did do everything you could to achieve that goal. As I wrote about before, things come up. I had an unexpected medical emergency in the family that I certainly didn’t account for. Well, that’s not true. I aim high to try to cover for the unexpected, but even then, I fell behind. I fell behind my personal goal, and even the (low for me) NaNo official 1667 words/day goal. That caused me stress I haven’t felt in a while and I actually don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I’m only doing this for the sake of tradition, and I question that every year. I remember writing my first book, my second – actually, ignore those, they went unrealistically smooth. I remember my third and fourth. Holy hell, there are some chapters out there that I swear I bled on every page – quite a feat considering I don’t physically write or print my books. (My little brother is a writer, he physically writes his stories. Pen and paper. I can’t believe it.) But I digress. Whether you got 70,000 words, 50,000, or 5,000; if you fought to get those words down in 30 days, there were emotions, frustration, maybe anxiety and fear. It’s not over.

So what next? In part, that depends on whether your story is done. If it isn’t – finish it. And for those who are still working on their first novel, or their first in a long time, if what you did during November worked to get you farther than you had when you were toying with the idea before, stick with it. If you need a daily goal, or to not edit, or whatever, go ahead. You can start relaxing a little later on the next novel. If you’re a writer a heart, there will be a next one. It’s an addiction. You don’t have a deadline looming, but some people need that. Some people need pressure.


After you finish, well, things get complicated then. I will usually do a quick edit, and I think that’s appropriate for any novel written this quickly. I look for spelling, obvious grammar and punctuation errors, and to make sure I have all the markers for research (or whatever) taken care of. Then the hard part: walk away. I really am serious about this. Walk away and write something else. Get this novel, this story, off your mind. Then you can come back to it for the first revision with a fresh eye. You need a fresh perspective, distance, to catch small plot holes, oversights, and inconsistencies. Yes, you’ll have other people reading to help with that too, but you don’t want them to see the rough versions. You want to show even to those close to you something good, right? Right. To that end, here’s the process (streamlined):

Write Book A, shelf it and write Book B. Shelf Book B and do first revision on Book A. If it hasn’t been enough time for you to really forget, you can skip it and write Book C. Then first revision on Book B. Write a book, second revision Book A. Then you start leapfrogging through writing and revising one book or another.

How long do you revise? “Until it’s done” is the easy answer. Obviously that oversimplifies it. On the first book, make a note of what you’re revising. Some things may be obvious, like checking consistency, plotlines, spelling, punctuation, grammar. Some things you may only learn after you give your first book to an editor. You don’t want to skip this. Even if you have a degree in English, do it at least once, and find someone with references, a history of clients and feedback, and credentials. What did they point out? Add that to your list of things to look for.

Now, what am I doing now that NaNo is over? Well, I finished at 69,700 words, but I know very well that a good portion of that is going to be cut. Why? I skipped ahead and I shouldn’t have. I chose a book for NaNo that picks up where two other books leave off. These two other books are not in the same series, and – here’s the problem – one isn’t written yet. So I’m guessing about 20,000 words can be distilled to next to nothing after I write the missing book. Then of course I have another problem. I don’t want to force people to read ten other books (not kidding) in order to know what happens in this one. Okay, we’ll say six. Same problem applies. Especially when this is a genie book and I am trying very hard to not make it a series. It’s a collection. You can read them in any order. In theory. I don’t want to change that, so I have to make this a standalone novel. That just happens to assume you’re up to date on the happenings in the lives of the characters that come from other books. That means backstory. I really hate doing that.

So what am I doing? Going back to write the novel I should have written before writing this one. Then I’ll finish this one while that one is shelved waiting for revisions. (See how that works?) This novel is shaping up to be a bigger headache than I anticipated, which says a lot. I knew it was going to be difficult before I even started to outline it. I am not going to get started on that outline.

Take the day off, relax, then get back to work. Finish that novel.

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