ROW80: Half Met, and a Good Book

I met half of my goals this week, and plan (hope) to hit the other two today. The fact that my husband is out hunting today helps. I love hunting season. 😀

Here’s a recap:

  • Edit Chapters 7 & 8 of my RIP (revision in progress) – Done
  • Format anthology for Kindle, for my copy editor – Done
  • Design book cover for my beta reader – halfway done
  • Critique a chapter for my critique partner – halfway done

The formatting threw me off the other two goals, as I’d forgotten several gotchas I encountered the last time I did formatting for Kindle (in August, with Time’s Enemy). This time I wrote up a cheat sheet, so I will have that to refer to, and next time formatting should go much more quickly! What annoys me the most is I am a technical person, I can write HTML in my sleep (literally!), and this stuff is supposed to be easy!

My editing was more a matter of getting to it – once I did that, it wasn’t that difficult.

The next few chapters of my RIP aren’t too badly wrecked, so hopefully they will go faster. I also want to get the first half of the book to betas, so they can get started. So this week’s goals are to get Chapters 9-11 marked up, which will be the first half of the book. Then I’ll need to do the type-in for all so far, and go over it a second time for style, typos, etc.

My copy editor’s book is a good one for this week! If you’d like a slightly-spooky read for Halloween, check out Ghostly Tales by Sheri L. McGathy. It’s also available at Smashwords, and will soon be on Barnes and Noble and Apple’s iBookstore.

If you’re a goal-setter, how did you do last week? And good luck this week!

Wacky Words: Alas, I Digress

Another place you'll see ALAS and DIGRESS

Today’s going to be a short one, folks, but something that’s made me go “huh” for a long time: Are there certain words and phrases we only use in writing?

Of course, there’s jargon and the occasional formal term (especially legal) that don’t typically occur in spoken conversation, but I’m talking about ordinary, everyday English, and not words that have simply fallen out of use – they’re just not used verbally.

One such word is alas. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “alas,” or even if I’ve ever heard it. It’s not obsolescent; I’ve seen it in written form far more than I’d like. The same is probably true for any writer who’s tried the query-coaster of submitting work to publishers, agents or magazines, as the most common use for “alas” seems to be on the lines of, “Alas, we regret that this doesn’t meet our current needs.” Which is probably why “alas” is a word I’m not particularly fond of. 🙂

Another word – or phrase, rather – that I see written often, but seldom hear, is “but I digress.” Bloggers digress a lot! I try not to, but I’m sure I do. I just don’t tell you about it. 😀 Digression happens on a regular basis while eating lunch with my coworkers. No one ever acknowledges it.

Can you think of other ordinary words that you see often in written form, but hardly ever hear spoken? Curious minds want to know!

Dictionary photo by Dr. Marcus Gossler via, Creative Commons license

#ROW80: As Expected

…I have nothing, writing-wise. But I expected that, as we had dinner plans on Monday, plus Monday is paperwork day, so I often don’t get to writing on Mondays. And yesterday – also expected nothing. The past couple weeks have been one thing after another, and I have things promised to others that I haven’t even been able to get to. Now they’re to the point where I really need to.

When I can, I put off other stuff and make time to write. Sometimes the writing has to wait.

At least I accomplished one big task that’s been hanging for over a month now: reformat my daughter’s computer. (This should have been on the list I posted Sunday, but I forgot it.) It’s been slow and bogged down for a while, and eventually got so that software couldn’t be installed on it (a problem when that includes security updates and virus definitions!). We weren’t even able to copy her stuff off onto a flash drive, so I had to actually take the hard drive out of her computer, install it in mine, copy stuff off, and that added to the overall task. Also, that was when my graphics card decided to crap out – in the middle of copying! But all that is behind me now (hopefully!). So now it’s on to formatting, cover design, and critiques I owe!

If you’re doing ROW80, is your week going as expected, even if your expectations weren’t high?

ROW80: It’s 5:30PM

And I just finished edits through Chapter 6. Does that tell you anything? More importantly, does it tell me something?

(Yeah, like I took on too much this week!)

Granted, yesterday was fun. I went on a “castles and caves” cruise through central Ohio, saw some lovely sights, spent time with some wonderful friends, not to mention my daughter. You know, doing that living life thing we writers often have to make a point to do. So it was well worth it.

I wanted to get through Chapter 8. Or ideally, Chapter 10. Reality? What’s that?

Sigh. Okay, time to get real. Thankfully, I don’t have any major plans today or this coming weekend, so that will help a lot. I also have several things I’ve committed to do for others that I can’t put off any longer, things I owe writer friends who do stuff for me like beta reading and copy editing. So I am going to commit to the following:

Format anthology for my copyeditor

Book cover design for my beta reader

Chapter critique for my critique partner

Edit Chapters 7 & 8

If you are participating in ROW80, good luck!

Row80: Midweek Modification

Halfway through the week… and I only have half of a chapter revised. So I’m thinking, my goals of working through five or six chapters was, shall we say, a bit ambitious.

I could come up with a number of excuses – as noted on Sunday, we had dinner company, then the video card in my computer decided to go kaput, which took me two hours to diagnose. That in itself was annoying, but then I realized I had several things to be thankful for:

  1. I was able to work on the computer and figure it out myself, rather than take it somewhere, which would have not only taken more time, but cost more $$
  2. I didn’t lose any work – even though when the video card died, it spontaneously shut down the computer, but I use dropbox, so everything is backed up, as soon as I hit Save. Word’s autorecover worked quite well too.
  3. The video card that died was an add-on upgrade – meaning it was in addition to a built-in video interface, so I can still use the computer. It’s not powerful enough to run on my big monitor without looking stretched and fuzzy, but at least it works.
  4. I ordered a new video card and it’s due in tomorrow.
  5. The new video card cost $69.99 – then has a $15 mail in rebate. So it could’ve been so much worse on the wallet!

Still, the weekly goals need a little backing down, especially in light of the fact that I have a busy weekend coming up. So instead of working up through Chapter 10, I’m going to shoot for Chapter 8. It’ll still be a push, but hopefully doable!

If you’re doing ROW80 (or even if you’re not), how’s your week going?

Sweetest Day: Hallmark Holiday, or Something More?

It’s an Ohio thing, who knew? I didn’t, that’s for sure! But, I wanted to do a little digging into this so-called “Hallmark holiday” and find out what it’s really all about.

My Sunbird was not a convertible, but looked much like this one otherwise. There's a reason cars are special to me!

See, for me, Sweetest Day is something more. I admit to being cynical about it until 20 years ago, as I was about Valentine’s Day (“holidays that are great for someone who has a Valentine/Sweetest, and make the rest of us feel like crap”). What changed it for me twenty years ago was, I met my husband. Not on Sweetest Day, but on the night before Labor Day.

We met in a bar after a fireworks display. A friend of mine, who knew him through a friend, said hi, introduced us, then be-bopped off to someone else she knew, leaving me there at the table with the guy I had no idea I would marry, and his friend (whom he hasn’t seen since).  I got his number planning to have him work on my car, a Pontiac Sunbird with a bad oil leak. I couldn’t afford a repair shop bill – heck, couldn’t afford any repair bill at that moment – but a month later, I had some money saved so I called him.

I dropped off the car on a Monday night. He called the next evening to let me know what was wrong with it (cracked head gasket) and how much the repairs would cost, then we talked for an hour about all kinds of things. When I picked up the car a few days later, I paid him $400 to fix what would have cost three times that (or more) at a shop, and he asked me out for the following Saturday night.

Sweetest Day editorial that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in October, 1922 (click to enlarge)

That Saturday was Sweetest Day. He left roses on my doorstep earlier that afternoon, while I was out shopping.

Some sources credit Herbert Birch Kingston for starting Sweetest Day in Cleveland in 1922. His original purpose was to spread some cheer to orphans, elderly shut-ins, and other downtrodden or lonely folks by giving them gifts of candy. Kingston was employed by a candy maker, so there was certainly a commercial component to Sweetest Day’s origins. Other sources claim it was totally commercial, the concoction of a federation of Cleveland area candy industry insiders. Although the initial intention was to encourage people to gift candy to anyone, it’s mostly celebrated in romantic relationships  modern-day practice.

So, Sweetest Day is a bit more than just a “Hallmark holiday” for me. (Despite its long history, Valentine’s Day is still pretty much that.) I had never really heard of Sweetest Day before high school (1980), but it turns out it’s been around a lot longer – and it was started in Ohio!

The sources I found all stated that Sweetest Day is still largely celebrated in the Great Lakes states, and not much elsewhere – also something I didn’t know, being a lifelong Ohioan.

Sweetest Day is this Saturday, October 15th. I still don’t know what I’m going to get for my husband. Often, we just go out to dinner, which is what we did on our first date.

Do you do anything for Sweetest Day? Or is it a Hallmark holiday for you (or less)? Do you have a fun story of how you met a significant other? Please share!

Car photo via (unattributed)
Sweetest Day newspaper clipping via

My Town Monday: The Oregonia Hill Climbs

Motorcycles as far as the eye can see! The blue one on the left is mine.

Oregonia is a normally-quiet little hamlet just outside of Lebanon, Ohio. But every year on the second Sunday in October, it’s overrun with bikers, biker wannabes, race spectators, and people who just want to party.

The Motorcycle Hill Climbs have been held annually at Powell’s Farm (no relation to me) since 1948. The Dayton Motorcycle Club has hosted the event since 1973. Local lore says that when the original owner passed away a few years ago, the will stipulated to his heirs that the property would be made available to host the Hill Climbs for the next 50 years. As far as I know, the event has been cancelled only once in its history, due to rain. It was rescheduled for the following Sunday, (which has happened more than once), but this one also had rain.

A view from the bottom of the Devil's Staircase

The big draw, of course, is the motorcycles. Not just the dirt bikes in the race, but those in the parking area. Thousands of motorcycles, of every shape, color, size, make and model, from the most plush touring bikes and trikes, to battered, historical fixer-uppers that are barely roadworthy. My husband and I rode up with the guy my husband does funeral work for – who rode one of the special edition Harley Davidson police bikes, with the purple flashing light for funeral use. He got some long looks, LOL.

Beer is sold at the Hill Climbs by the cup – and by the gallon. Years ago, the gallon jugs were numbered. I’m not sure what the purpose of this was, but by the time we arrived, typically between 11AM and noon, people with single- and lower two-digit numbers were usually passed out, jugs in hands or nearby. I had my own, ubiquitous jug – of water.

The races can be pretty exciting. The Oregonia Hill Climbs is the last race of the year for the AMA Pro Hill Climb Racing circuit. Called The Devil’s Staircase, the dirt track goes up something like a 40 degree incline, which doesn’t sound like much, until you try to walk up it. Then imagine riding a motorcycle! The hill is stepped, which presents the greater challenge: the rider must get up enough speed to crest the first step, fifty feet up, then slow enough to not wipe out. If the first step doesn’t cause a rider to wipe out, the ones near the top of the 330-foot hill sometimes do. The winning bikes in the Unlimited and Extreme classes make the climb in seven seconds or less.

Sometimes dirt clods go flying into the audience. One time several years ago, a rider lost it and his bike went over toward the audience. Usually about one in ten participants either drops his bike, or breaks a chain (with the same result). One motorcycle caught fire yesterday as it crested the top of the hill. But not to worry – fire fighters and medical crews were standing by at both the top and the bottom. (The fire was extinguished immediately, and neither rider nor bike were hurt.)

A lot of bikers come to Oregonia on the day of the Hill Climbs and don’t even attend the races – instead, they party on private property, or go to the Little River Cafe down the road – a historic bar/restaurant with lots of outdoor seating. My husband and I usually leave after the first couple of racing classes, in the interest of getting out before the drunks do. It’s not unusual for someone to get hurt leaving the Hill Climbs – unsurprising, considering the amount of beer served. Law enforcement is always present, too.

If you live in the area, have you ever been to the Hill Climbs? If not, is there an event like this in your hometown?

More at the My Town Monday blog

I won an award! Just for fun, the Versatile Blogger Award

Okay, not a real award, like the Rita, or even the Wrters Digest 100 most useful blogs, but what the heck, it’s fun. You can play too, as long as you play by the rules (at least somewhat):

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you.

Thanks to my writer friend, Stacy McKitrick! Stacy keeps a fun blog called Stacy’s Rantings and Whatnot, where she rants writes about TV, writing, sports, travel and whatever else strikes her fancy. Check her out!

2. Share seven random facts about you.

Hmm, this one was kinda tricky. I mean, I’m not that interesting. That’s why I make stuff up! So anyway…

  • Some stuff I like - and some I don't

    I hate, I mean loathe, green peppers and celery. I can deal with the latter if it’s cooked, as that takes out the stringy texture and mostly kills the taste, or I pick them out if they’re not tiny, but peppers tend to leech into the surrounding food upon cooking, which pretty much ruins whatever it is for me.

  • I bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot, who knew? I ordered it a month before it even went into production. It came with new friends, who knew?
  • I can curl my tongue, and make the Vulcan “live long and prosper” gesture. It always surprises me that there are people who can’t do this, including my husband and daughter!
  • Despite my artistic background, I never was able to get into scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, crocheting, or anything like that. I do like sewing clothing, though – I wish I had more time to do it. I’ve made numerous sweatshirts, dresses, hats, slacks, bridesmaid dresses, and even a wedding dress for one of my college roommates. The dress outlasted the marriage, but she’s been happily married to husband #2 for over 10 years now.
  • I am a Dale Carnegie graduate, which came in really helpful when…
  • I met my husband at a bar. If not for DCC, I wouldn’t have kept talking when the mutual friend who introduced us be-bopped off to talk to someone else and left me at a table with him. I started dating him after I paid him $400 to fix my car. I figure I’ve gotten my money’s worth – quite a few times over, as we’ve now been married 17 years!

    My Earliest Memory

  • The earliest thing I can remember is going to get my dad’s new car – a ’69 Camaro – when I was 2-1/2. I mostly remember the weird look on my mom’s face when we went to the dealership, which I later found out was because she’d had no idea my dad bought a car! It’s still in the family, too – my brother spent two years restoring it, and it’s beautiful!

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

Well, I’m only going to list a few, as most blogs I follow are mostly about writing. Some of these aren’t so new to me, either. If you’ve already received this award (or don’t do memes like this), you can repeat it, or ignore, no problem. Everyone else – these are some fun blogs I follow that aren’t all about writing, so check them out!

The Evil Jim Winter – Edged in Blue

Athena Grayson

Michele Stegman – Thoughts from a Writer’s Block

Catie Rhodes – Full Tilt Backwoods Boogie

Julie Glover

My Town Monday – a group of writers who collect links from the comments – fun facts about places all over! Anyone can participate, so if you’re looking for blog topics, MTM is a good way to get them – and share!

Woman carrying a basket of bread and vegetables photo via Microsoft Office Clipart

#ROW80: Week 1 Wednesday Update

I usually don’t get a lot of writing done on Mondays or Tuesdays, because Monday is paperwork night, and both nights are big TV nights for DH. Yet, I managed to knock out my first goal of the week: I finally noted the remaining places in my manuscript where plot holes need to be plugged – yay! There were quite a few, so that’s one revision step that took longer than the week I’d originally planned for it.

That leaves timing and sequencing for the rest of the week for me. If anyone else here has done Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel workshop, this is Lesson 14 and 15. This is my third book using this system, so I’ve managed to compress it a bit. Anyone else using HTRYN?

Good luck to my #ROW80 peeps!

#ROW80 Goals

I am taking part in a new writing challenge – well, new to me at least. It’s called Round of Words in 80 Days, and the idea is to set a measurable goal not only for the challenge as a whole, but each week. We report our progress each Sunday and Wednesday, so I’ll be doing that here. If nothing else, it will keep me accountable on my revisions for Time’s Fugitive.

So here goes:

My goals for the 80 days are:

  1. Finish revisions on Time’s Fugitive by November 7, with the ultimate objective of a release by Christmas (although that depends on my beta readers and editors too). I have specific steps to achieve this, so it’s not just a big eat-the-elephant goal.
  2. While Time’s Fugitive is with the beta readers and editor, my goal is to either outline the second half of the book I started for NaNoWriMo 2009 and never finished, or to outline a new Saturn Society novella – I’ll figure out which when the time comes.

This week’s goals are:

  1. Mark where changes are needed in Time’s Fugitive to fix plot holes
  2. Review scene sequence and timing issues, note fixes where needed. This sounds simple, but it’s time travel – with multiple characters traveling in multiple times – so it’s not. Especially since I want it to make sense to readers. 🙂 After all, that’s all of us writers’ ultimate goal, right?