Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday

Just a quick update on Across Two Universes:

Currently On: Chapter Twelve, Page 124
Total Number of Pages: 298
Total Number of Words: 96,000

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back on the Blog Chain: Speaking Words of Wisdom

This time around, Cole presented us with the following situation:

Pretend you are addressing a crowd of aspiring authors eager to soak in your words of knowledge. The problem is, you've only been given a time slot of five seconds. In one sentence (no more than 20 words), please summarize the most important words of wisdom you can impart.

You can elaborate and address questions only in the comments section.

Here's my advice:

Act like a professional writer from the beginning, and keep learning about yourself, other people, and the world.

I'd love to expand on this, so feel free to ask me questions. ;)

Terri and Kat are the previous and next links in the chain. Check back with Cole at the end of the month, when she collects everyone's advice into one post!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update. Here's my current status on Across Two Universes:

Currently On: Chapter Twelve, Page 121
Total Pages: 298
Total Words: 96,000

I'm in a scene that hasn't changed much, if any, since my first draft. It's one of those darlings I had to murder since it no longer quite fit. In the original version, Sean and Paul searched through some of Sean's old belongings for something Paul's mother had given him, with Sean questioning Paul along the way. The new version just had them sitting on crates talking to each other, which I felt was much less interesting to "stage." Today, after a wasted lunch hour, my muse finally gave me an idea: Sean will give Paul one item of his choice, but what Paul doesn't know is that Sean is judging him based on what he selects. What will Paul pick? You'll just have to read it to find out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Madison Trip

Last Thursday, after Date Day, it was back to work for me. But I didn't have to go into the lab; instead, I was Madison-bound. My mission was to visit another lab we would be outsourcing some of our work to and qualify them to do the work. Not fun stuff, but it was nice to have some alone time in the car and listen to my music instead of Alex's ABC CD.

The drive up to Madison (after I brought Alex to daycare) was pretty smooth. The lab was located on the west end of Madison, in a part of town I wasn't familiar with. I didn't have any problems finding the place, though. It was a very big lab, far larger than my own company. I won't bore you with the details of my visit, but I will note that they had a very nice cafeteria. I also got to tour the lab.

After my work was done, I headed back home. I was tempted to drive through Madison so I could see the downtown area, but I didn't want to take too long getting back home. I did stop by my parents' house briefly, though I regretted it when I ran into a delay on the highway (accident). Luckily, once I got past the accident site, the rest of the drive was without incident, and I got back to daycare at my normal time. It's a shame to go all the way up to Madison and not be able to see anyone or anything I care for, though.

Date Day: Cantigny

My online time was a bit limited last week, so I have several days' worth of posts to do. Guess I'd better make them short and sweet.

I'll start with last Wednesday, which was a Date Day for Eugene and me. Earlier this year, we decided that since we're not going anywhere on vacation this year, we should take some day off each month, drop Alex off at daycare, and spend the day together. Well, work has been so busy for me I didn't take a vacation day since late April, even though I needed some time off. I finally took Wednesday off so I could recharge.

The last time we had a Date Day, we knew in advance what we wanted to do. This time, however, we knew we wanted to do a wine tasting at Lynfred Winery, but we couldn't figure out what else to do. After looking at some of the local forest preserves, we decided instead to visit Cantigny, the home of Robert McCormick, late editor of the Chicago Tribune. The estate includes several gardens, a military museum, and the house (which is also a museum).

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the gardens. I really wanted to just sit by a body of water and stare at it for a while until I absorbed some tranquility. Although they did have a reflecting pool and some nice ponds, they were all surrounded by tall grass and other plants so you couldn't contemplate the water. How disappointing! Still, they had a gazebo and some other shaded areas that did make nice places to sit. Of course, the gardens were smaller than those at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the plants weren't identified. I guess I'm too used to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

They had an array of tanks from various wars on the ground, but we skipped the military museum. (Eugene will probably return there on his own sometime.) We did take a tour of the house, which was pretty interesting. The decor was mostly from the 30s and 40s, with Asian and European influences brought in by McCormicks' two wives. They actually had a dishwasher and a specialized ice cube maker (not a regular freezer) in the kitchen, items I didn't think existed in that era. Among other interesting items were a 70-fo0t rice paper mural in the dining room (it had been custom-cut to act as wallpaper), a concealed bar in the library (which had 22' high walls) for entertaining, and a bookcase filled with signed first editions of books by, among others, Winston Churchill and Charles Lindbergh.

After lunch at the restaurant, we drove to Lynfred for our wine tasting. Eugene had won a free tasting for two in a weekly contest. We tasted about seven wines, ranging from white to red. There was also a pear wine; Lynfred has a great selection of fruit wines, and we're joining their fruit wine club when it starts next month. By the time we made our way home, we only had about an hour to relax before it was time to get Alex.

Here are a few photos from Cantigny:

I hope I won't have to wait another three and a half months for the next Date Day!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Seventeen-Year Sighting

Eugene and I have an old college friend named Ed. Eugene met Ed first; they bonded over a low score on an Organic Chemistry exam. Ed was the one who taught us the true definition of toluene (" a benzene...with a methyl group...sticking out of it!") and was involved in some of our most memorable moments from undergrad. Unfortunately, the last time we saw him was in 1992, at the graduation ceremony. Every once in a while, we'd find him online, in an alumni group or social networking site. There may have been an occasional phone call or e-mail, but contact was limited once Ed returned to Thailand, where he was born. Then he came to Evanston, near where my in-laws live, to take a short course at Northwestern. We weren't going to let this opportunity to see each other slip away.

We made arrangements to drop Alex off at my in-laws' house for a few hours. Then we drove to Ed's hotel; it was faster driving there than finding a parking space in the parking garage. Ed was waiting for us in the lobby. He still looks very much the way he did in undergrad.

The three of us walked to Carmen's, a pizza place Eugene and I have been to several times for stuffed pizza. The air conditioning wasn't working--naturally on the first really hot day this summer. The pizza was still good, and the conversation flowed. Ed happens to be one of those friends you can pick up with right where you left off no matter how long you've been apart. Of course we did have to fill in the major personal events of the last seventeen years, but they haven't changed our relationship.

After dinner, we walked to the lake, where we took the above photos. Too bad we didn't get one of the three of us! When it started to get dark, we found a Ben and Jerry's and had ice cream before walking Ed back to his hotel.

The babysitting situation turned out to be a triple win. We got to have an adult conversation and walk around downtown Evanston. Alex's grandparents got to spoil him and hear him talk and identify his letters. And Alex, once he got over our absence, ate lots of eggrolls, played with his uncle, and learned how to use a microphone. Yesterday was also Eugene's birthday, so between hearing Alex spontaneously tell him "Happy Birthday" and reuniting with his long-lost friend, I don't think he could have asked for anything more.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday

I was too exhausted last week to post, so I figure I'd better post tonight:

Currently On: Chapter 11, Page 117
Total Pages: 300
Total Words: about 97,000

This is a fun part, as Paul and Sean are meeting for the first time. I'm actually using some of what I wrote before instead of just rewriting all of it, so hopefully things will be going faster from this point.

OK, time to goof off for a few minutes before bed.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Back on the Blog Chain: Multiwriting?

Once again I'm second in the Blog Chain. Terri started us off with this question:

Do you focus on one project at a time, or do you have many irons in the fire at any given moment?

This will be a short post, as I don't have a whole lot to say about this topic. I'm a one-project-at-a-time person. I can have a couple other ideas brewing in the back of my mind, but when it comes to putting words on the screen, I usually focus on only one project at a time, the one that currently has me in its grip. I think there have been times when I've tried working on a few projects at a time, but I've never sustained multiwriting for long. These days, when I only have a half hour or so to write, I have to focus on one project. It's a nice idea in theory to have a couple of active projects so you can switch when you need a break, but it's not how I normally operate. Maybe if I had more time (or was under contract!), I could try it. But while I occasionally try writing techniques or methods I hear about from other writers, I don't worry too much about them. I just do what works for me.

That's all I have for now. Head on over to Kat's blog for her answer to this question. And I almost forgot--we have several new members who joined us recently! I'll update the links in the sidebar in the next couple of days.

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