In light of the impending birth of TWINS (omg. OMG.) I started a blog all about that here. Feel free to ignore it or read it as you wish. I’m also going to tweet about the twins from the handle @TheGeminiLife.
In which the Spider freaks out, then starts a new blog. Tuesday, May 7 2013
If you recall, or perhaps you don’t so you may go here, my last post concerned the news that I am With Child.
Yesterday we went for our first ultrasound. I was nervous, but not for the reasons you might think. Yes, I was a little concerned in general – I have a friend who went to hear the heartbeat for the first time and there was nothing. Her body kept progressing as if she had still been pregnant. I was afraid of that a little bit. My main fears concerned time off work, to be honest.
Anyway, I got to the ultrasound place a minute after Husband. Signed in. Paid the copay. Waited. The nurse took me back for some questions. At one point we were left alone in the room. Husband read on his phone and I jiggled my foot. Finally I pulled some essential oils out of my bag – neroli, which is supposed to be calming. I got it and some bergamot to help me cope with the nausea (the terrrrrrrrible nausea). I rubbed some neroli on my wrists and tried to relax.
Then we went into the ultrasound room. Cut to me on the table, tummy covered in goo, and the tech touching the wand thingy to my middle. For a second I saw….two round blobs. I thought to myself, “Was that…? Naaahhh…she’s just getting all set up. That was my bladder or something.”
But Husband, who is currently doing his pediatric/maternity rotations for nursing school was staring hard at the screen.
“Looks like there’s two in there.”
I burst out laughing.
Over the next half hour, I laughed in disbelief and delight, Husband shook his head, and the tech tried to get B to roll over so we could see the neck. Two strong heartbeats. Two little polliwogs.
This was so far off my radar, I can’t even tell you. Twins don’t run in our families. I had no fertility assistance. And they are identical which means that we had something like a .03% chance of this happening. We just kept staring at each other and shaking our heads.
After we talked to the doctor we went to my regular ob/gyn practice where we talked to more doctors and nurses and kept shaking our heads. Appointments were made. Prescriptions were given.
And we’re having twins.
I feel this is a good enough reason to start a separate blog so if you feel inclined, please come visit. I’ll continue to post writerly stuff here, too, as I am able.
Baby spider Thursday, May 2 2013
Actual baby spiders are not cute so here’s a cartoon baby spider.
Well, people, it’s about time to tell you that there’s going to be a change in the Writing Spider’s web. Come November, we’ll have a baby running around, doing baby things and such. It’s the first one for me and Husband.
Since I really wanted this to be a writing-based blog, I’m considering starting a second one for baby/family stuff.
At any rate, I’m coming out of the first trimester which was pretty rough. Morning sickness? No. Permanent state of pre-vomiting? Yes.
I’m still writing and I’ll continue to update here and post about writing stuff. And I’ll let you know if I decide to start a baby blog. It’s all the rage, you know. Imma get on that bandwagon.
Oh I have a blog! Monday, Apr 22 2013
So I finished a book. This would be my second book completed. The first one is a really weird little stand-alone about some ambitious demi-goddesses who take over the lives of a bunch of characters in order to shape a story that will wow the gods into giving the demi-goddess some celestial promotions. I love this book, it is my baby, but so far, no agents will claim it.
The second book is the first in a trilogy. It is an alternate history fantasy set during World War II. The Colonists lost the war for independence and the US remained part of Britain. A young woman loses her only family – her grandparents – and soon discovers she is a prophesied heroine meant to defeat a mad man. There’s magic and airships and a madam with rubies in her teeth.
I have basically appropriated WWII, its related timelines and characters, and some Jewish mysticism for my own use.
This one has gotten more interest than the first one, which is kind of like when people like one of your kids more than the other and you keep saying, “But Jane is really good at dominoes and she makes her own clothes!” And everybody just says, “That’s nice… Can we talk to Sally now?”
I’m also very much learning to love Twitter. I didn’t think I would like it this much but I do. However, occasionally I will notice that my followers have dropped by one or two and I can’t remember who was following in the first place so it’s hard to see who it was. I always hope it’s those weird Twitter skankbots. Where you get a follower named “Liza Duvall” and her whole feed is links to half-nekkid pictures. How do they end up following ME?
Anyway, thanks for dropping by.
You think writing is hard…try cake. Monday, Mar 11 2013
Cakewrecks makes me cry because it is my life in a lot of ways.
One of my other passions/jobs/hobbies besides writing is making cakes. Fancy cakes, cupcakes, stuff with fondant on it. I have a little price list and I do work for random people – some are referrals, some just find me on Facebook. There are parallels between writing and cake, I’m finding.
1. Can you just write/make me a…? Usually this sentence ends with something ridiculous. “…four-tier fondant-wrapped sponge cake in five flavors? I need it in three days and I have a budget of $20.” Or, “A 27-page brochure that requires research and has huge blocks of technical language? I need it in a week and my budget is $50.” People think that cakes and writing just come out of my bellybutton like magic. I like to think of this as the Cake Boss effect. People watch TV shows where a commercial bakery produces spectacular cakes in less than a week. Here’s the thing: I’m just one person and I only have two arms. People have no concept of big commercial baker vs. little home baker. And people STILL think that writing is easy. You know what’s really easy? Bad writing.
2. Why is it so expensive? You get this in freelance writing and you get it in cake. It’s not expensive, dummy. It costs the exact amount it should cost. I do a lot of math to decide how much to charge for stuff and I have to include things like when I make a cake, I use actual butter and sour cream. Those are more expensive than lard and whatever else you might use instead of sour cream… For writing, it takes time to research, write, revise, revise, rewrite. Time is money, people.
3. I’ll just go to Walmart/do it in-house. I do custom cakes. People loooove their sculpted fondant. So when I get a request to do a baby-butt shower cake (don’t ask), I have to figure out time + supplies + effort to sculpt out of sugar a baby’s behind, legs, feet and diaper. Then they’re STUNNED, SHOCKED even, when the quote comes back beyond what Walmart will charge. I cannot tell you how often I hear, in a really miffed voice, “Well. I can just get a sheet cake for $15 at Walmart.” Yes. Well, I love to buy cakes where I can also purchase ammo for my gun, motor oil and camouflage pajamas. Same thing with writing. “I”ll just have my secretary do it.” Yes! Let her, because she has Word’s spelling and grammar check, she’ll be FINE.
I have a lot of Feelings about this.
How Improv Helps Me Write: An Entirely Improvised Blog Post Thursday, Feb 28 2013
I’ve only just begun claiming “improv-er” as a label. “Writer” had been on the list for a long while.
My bachelor’s degree is in English and Theater, though I am no great actress. My best part ever was in a weird postmodern piece during which the first line of the play was mine: “OH MY GOD, THE TURKEY!” I never aspired to DO anything with that dramatical part of my pedigree, as many of my friends did. But about a year ago, I felt an itch to perform. Not plays or musicals – I was afraid they’d take up too much time (and though I can sing, I mostly chose not to in front of People); time I could use to write or query or edit or something writerelated. I emailed a local improv group and asked if they were open to new members.
They were. That was a year ago.
The connection between writing and improv is not really so mysterious although it has been revealed to me only recently. When you sit down to outline or write or revise, you may have a structure in your mind, you might have a few characters at the ready, but you are, essentially, improvising. And when we step onto the stage once or twice a month, we have a few characters and we know we’ll be doing what’s called a Harold or a Henriette (those are long-form improv structures) but we don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens.
My friend and fellow improvisor and writer, Patrick Wensink, is teaching an online class about this. I have not had the pleasure of Professor Your Honor Wensink’s class, but I am sure that it’s awesome. He is, after all, a seasoned improv-er and published author so he must be doing something right.
There are many principles of improv that work on stage or on the page. These are the ones I find myself thinking about most.
1. Yes, and… In improv, you never negate what someone has said to you. If you get out there on stage and your scene partner says, “I just love having my hair dyed orange!” you should not say, “But your hair is brown…” You’ve killed the scene. “Yes, and…”-ing is a useful skill onstage, off stage, on the page, off the page. It opens up so many possibilities and adventures. On the page, you can use this as a jumping off point for conflict which is much more savvy than relying on “NO!” to create conflict for you. “No, but…” is flimsy conflict and doesn’t reveal much about the characters or relationships.
2. Support the reality of the scene If you’ve already made it clear that you are in a classroom in Queens, you can’t just start acting or writing like you’re in a spaceship on Mars. You create the environment then you live in the reality of that environment, stage or page. If something unforseen or unplanned happens, as it is wont to do, you go with it. As my former improv coach used to say, “That just happened.” That means you deal with that reality and make it work. See where it takes you. In writing, you might end up with a scene you didn’t imagine and might be awesomesauce.
3. Trust In improv, the thrill is not having a script safety net and trusting your scene partners to not let you fail – and they won’t. In writing, you have the luxury of outlines, drafts, revisions, edits, critique groups, and so on. Trust the instincts and jump out of the damn plane, already. Your chute will open, I promise.
If you’re in or near Louisville, Kentucky, you can check out my improv group, Project Improv. We have the Facebooks and everything so you can see when we are doing shows. We hope to do more shows with INDYPROV out of Indianapolis, too.
I’d love to tell you where to get my book but I don’t have one yet so you’ll have to wait for that.
How I Write teh Words Tuesday, Feb 26 2013
Think of an idea.
Get sucked into Wikipedia!
Look at YouTubes!
Right now, I have two different books and one was outlined, one was not. I like doing it both ways. People kept talking about outlines and how they’re so very, very important so that is why the second book has an outline. I wanted to try it out. Also, the second book is part of a planned trilogy so it was important for me to plot – at least loosely – the entire three books.
Once I get started writing, I do broad strokes. Like I’m building a skeleton. Then I go back over it and over it and over it and fill in more and more meat on the bones. Sometimes I add or delete entire scenes or move this arm over here, that ear down here.
What’s your process like?
When your WIP is someone else’s published work… Tuesday, Feb 19 2013
Twice in the last year I have run across things that sound a lot like the book I’m writing.
(Briefly, this is the first book in a trilogy that is set in an alternate reality version of World War II where the colonists did NOT win independence from the British. There is magic, and automatons, and this guy named Otto Hitler who’s making zombie armies. The protagonist is a girl who learns she’s got the POWAH to stop Hitler and also do some other awesome things.)
I will swear to you, God, the Universe and everything that I had never seen anything like this before. Yet, in at least one book and one TV show, I see similar elements of what I’ve been working on for the better part of a year.
Does this mean that I am just a channel for the zeitgeist?
As a wannabe author, I spend a lot of time reading in my genre, reading about books, looking at Twitter, and so on. I know you shouldn’t write for the current market – no more Twilight books please! No more 50 Shades of Grey please! You should write what you want to write then try to find a home for it.
I believe that there is someone who wants to read everything. At the very least, no matter how crappy that novel is, someone is going to pay $0.99 for it on Amazon. I’ve read some spectacularly crappy books in print (The book version of Stir of Echoes was hoooooorrrrrible but the film is pretty great). Unlike Amazon’s self-pub scheme, somebody greenlighted those print books.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe it’s that I will not stop writing my story because I like it and it would like to be told. I shopped my first manuscript around last year and didn’t find a home for it but I’m not going to rewrite it to suit the market. Some day it will find a warm reception.
I think this happens to a lot of writers unintentionally and probably a lot more totally intentionally. (“I am going to write Twilight ONLY BETTER. In mine, the WEREWOLVES sparkle, too!”)
Grand Moth Thompson Wednesday, Feb 6 2013
The Moth’s tagline is, “True stories told live.” Louisville got our very own Moth StorySlam a little more than a year ago. I listen to the Moth podcast all the time. I’m a big NPR junkie myself. You get five minutes to tell your story on the topic of the night. Topics are things like, “Music” or “Chemistry.”
Our Moth StorySlams are held at Headliners, which is a bar/music venue type place. I get there early to get a seat, and try not to touch the floor because eeech carpeted bar floor = eeeeeech. I put my name in the hat and hope I get called. There are always a lot of different people there – lots of ages and clothes styles, for instance.
I “won” two StorySlams, one on the topic of the Derby and one on the topic of Music. I say “won” because you don’t really win anything except the right to say you won and you get invited to the Moth GrandSlam where 10 winners compete for a spot at the Moth Ball. Which is the Grand Poobah of Moth story events….or something. The Big Names in StorySlamming.
If you are really lucky, your story gets on the podcast. Neither of mine have been on there. The Derby one probably because I said “tits” every 30 seconds and the Music one because it…I don’t know…wasn’t Serious and Introspective and Told with Gravitas. Whatever. I have a good time.
Our first GrandSlam was about a week and a half ago. It was quite a night. In the weeks before the event, we were encouraged* to run our stories by one of the producers. There was an interview with the local paper (I’ll give you a link when it comes out – follow me on Twitter and you’ll get it faster @thwritingspider). We had to arrive 1.5 hours early for a sound check.
I was the last person to do soundcheck and since I didn’t have any really loud parts to tell, I just did my favorite theater vocal warm up: I am a mother pheasant plucker. I pluck mother pheasants. I am the most pleasant mother pheasant plucker to ever pluck a mother pheasant. That got their attention.
I drew lucky number six – first after the intermission. I love going in the second half. The house was packed to the gills, totally sold out and standing room only. I feel good about my performance. My story was about my three plus weeks in India and feeling hopelessly out of place. It was a fun night, even though I didn’t take home the GrandSlam first prize.
If you have a Moth in your town, go try it. At least GO to it, even if you don’t put your name in the hat to tell a story. People will amaze you. They’ll probably also piss you off because the story won’t be on the topic, or they go on for eleventy million minutes. But by and large, they will amaze you.
*No, we were totally forced. Coerced. Guilted into.
Free Writing Contest! Tuesday, Jan 29 2013
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