Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Of Collaborating Chaos and other things...

It's been a busy week filled with vacation plans, car problems, and other exciting things happening in the great wide yonder. Things like marriage equality in California, and an epic filibuster to stop an anti abortion bill from passing in the Texas State Senate.

ROW80 is on it's hiatus for right now. I believe it picks up again in another week or so. However, even though, ROW 80 may be on a break, I am not. I'm still plugging away at my various projects: The Undying ones is flowing along, I've updated my two fanfics, and I've started re-writing The Dancer.

It killed me to start rewriting it after I had made so much progress - but here were just some things in the original that were bugging me even though my beta's loved them. Namely the profession of the hero. I felt like a relationship between someone like that and the heroine was just too far out there, and probably would not attract many readers. I feel bad for saying that because I've been encouraging another writer friend that she should write what she wants, and not worry about if it's popular or not - however, what she's writing is way more popular than what I was trying to do, so she'll have a much easier time finding an audience. I am consoling myself with the idea that I can always go back to the original idea if this rewrite does't work out.

A friend has talked me into joining a writing group she came up with in a moment of brilliance. It's a round robin - one author writes one chapter, and then the next author picks up the next chapter where the other author left off, and so on and so forth. Currently we are still looking for more authors, and we also have a poll going on that will decide what we're going to write (sci-fi is  in the lead at the moment!) You can wander over here to Collaborating Chaos to check it out!

And now, it's time for what you've all been waiting for! WIPpet Wednesday! Since today is June 26th, I'll be sharing 26 more lines from the Prologue of The Descendants (the blog formatting actually makes it 27, but I swear it's 26 in the original document!) This bit picks up a few paragraphs after last week's WIPpet:

“Well,” Adam sighed, breaking the silence. “Since story time is over with, we should let this one go to sleep.  Goodnight Kiddo, I’ll see you in the morning.” He leaned over to give Vivian another kiss on the cheek, and then left the room quickly.

Vivian twisted so that she was curled up on her side, her hand still wrapped around the necklace her mother had given her. An idea occurred to her and she turned to the woman still sitting on her bed, “Bree, d’you think that maybe, if the girls were still around, they could bring my Mom back?”

“There are stories that they could do wonderful things; they say that they could bring the rain during a drought, and make crops grow, and, yes, even bring back life... but they’re just stories, baby girl.” The smile she gave Vivian was small and sad.

“I know, but Uncle Mike says that the girls are older than the Bible.”


“And Mrs Flora says the Bible is real - so if it's real then maybe the girls are real.”

“Sometimes stories are just stories, kiddo.” Bree shook her head and tweaked the girl’s nose. “Goodnight, Vivian.”

“Goodnight.” She sighed and closed her eyes, but as soon as she heard Bree’s footsteps fade away down the hallway, she opened them and crawled out of bed to her window. Even though her room was on the second floor, she had discovered that if she pressed her face against the glass just so she could see the porch.

There she could see her dad sat on the porch swing, a spot her mother had always enjoyed, while Uncle Mike leaned against the railing nearby. Bree stepped into view and Vivian could see her lips move as she said or asked something. Her dad looked up, replied, and then buried his face in his hands, his shoulders slumping. Bree sat next to him and rubbed his back, as if to soothe him, like Vivian’s Mom had sometimes done to her when she wasn’t feeling well, and Uncle Mike laid a hand on his shoulder.

Vivian had suspected that he had left today because he had found another lead, but, apparently, it had not panned out.

None of them ever did.

She took a breath, trying to ignore the lump in her throat; she was so tired of crying.
She returned to her bed before the adults could see her watching and hugged her stuffed dragon to her again.

And as an added bonus, here's 6 sentences from the end of Chapter 6 of The Undying Ones:

“I said that you and I are the only ones here!” He walked towards her confidently, his head held high as if he believed he owned the castle and everything in it. “Now tell me what you are doing here before I have my men throw you back in the ruins where you belong!” Now that he was so close Mattie could see he had a scar poking up above the scarf he had tied around his neck and tucked into his shirt... there was only one Undying One she knew of that had a scar like that. One man who had had his throat slit and lived.
The King.

Be sure to check out more WIPpet Wednesday posts over here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

He keeps growing on me...

When I first saw Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, I have to say I could not understand what the fuss was about. He was a great actor, but a heart throb? I didn't get it. Then I saw him in the newest Star Trek. Hot holy hell! What was I thinking? He may not be traditionally good looking, but there's a special something there - and it doesn't hurt that he has curly hair that's naturally red.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Finished Object Friday - Red Infinity Dress

My Husband's Cousin married a lovely woman last week. It was a beautiful ceremony in a beautiful place, and the reception was just as gorgeous.

However a nice wedding like this calls for a nice dress. I had sold most of mine off earlier in the year (we needed space and I never wore them) so I rushed about to find a dress. Unfortunately I wasn't really impressed with what the store had to offer. There was one dress on ebay that I did like, but the model they showed it on was very skinny, and the pictures I was able to find of larger girls wearing the dress were not very flattering. I didn't have any luck on Etsy either.

So my husband suggested I make my own dress.

Sadly, there aren't very many cute dress patterns for larger girls out there. While I knew I could size up a pattern to fit, I wasn't sure I wanted to bother with all that math and the mock ups to make sure everything fit properly. Time was ticking down and it was getting close to the wire when I remembered that I had seen a pattern on Pinterest for an Infinity dress.

I was first introduced to Infinity Dresses through David Tutera. He loves to use them as bridesmaid dresses on his show, My Fair Wedding, and they've become quite popular since then. They can sell for for as much as $200 (depending on the designer) but according to the link I saw on Pinterest, they seemed surprisingly easy to make. I decided to give it a shot.

I won't go into detail, because I'll be sharing links with instructions later in this post, but basically you cut out a circle skirt, a waistband, and then two straps that are about 10" wide (I had to go with 13"). You sew the straps and waistband to the skirt (supposedly you can do this with one seam) and then you can twist the straps around you to create various difference styles like so:

The boys, of course, were very willing to help me while I worked:

Once I was done I decided to wear it Kimono style:

Overall the dress was very easy to make and it turned out beautifully. The only problems I had with it were the fact that 1) I am too tall, so I had to cut out two halves of a circle skirt and then sew them together and 2) the waist did not want to stay at my waist. It had a habit of inching up towards my chest, so I had to keep tugging it down. Also, in order for it to be more bra friendly I had to make a tube top to wear underneath it. 

Next time I'll probably make the skirt a little bigger - which should eliminate the problem with it climbing upwards. All the blogs I had read said you should cut it one to two inches smaller than your waist as the material often used for these dresses is very stretchy. However I figure you can always take it in by wrapping the straps around your waist. Also I would eliminate the waistband and just sew the skirt and the straps directly on to the tube top instead. 

And last but not least, here are the tutorials I mentioned earlier:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Dancer and The Descendants...

Chapter five is done.


I may have celebrated a little by dancing in my chair (which prompted my co-workers to look at me weirdly, but they should've realized that I'm strange by now...) and running down stairs to buy a candy bar and a soda.

Round 2 of ROW 80 ends tomorrow. It occurred to me again today that I have honestly been struggling with chapter five for most of this round. However, my only goals this round were to keep plugging away at TUO - which I did with some success. Even though Round three won't start for another week or so, my goals will probably remain the same as they did this round: try to write as much as possible every day and get TUO published.

First though, I need a little break from TUO, especially after struggling with chapter five so long. Even though I have started on chapter six already, I've been plugging away at The Dancer the past couple of days because I felt bad for neglecting it for so long. I didn't get very far though as the heroine in The Dancer is annoying me. She feels a little too young at times - if that makes any sense. She's supposed to be in her twenties, but sometimes she says or does or thinks things that are closer to what a teenager would say, do, or think than what a twenty something would. I don't know if this feeling is because I've forgotten what it's like to be that age and so she seems so much more immature as a result, or if I'm accidentally writing her that way, or if I've just lost sight of her character and history.

It turned out to be the later. The character comes from a troubled background, and while she mentions it in the first couple of chapters, it's kinda disappeared since then. I've been going back through that story with a fine tooth comb and tweaking her dialogue and thoughts when needed to get her back in to character. So far she's being cooperative. I have about three more chapters of that before I'm caught up where I left off, and then hopefully she'll stay in character without any more interventions.

There's been no progress on The Descendents though I may have commissioned an artist to draw portraits of two of my favorite characters from that series. I've tried drawing them myself, and they've come out all right, but an artist I'm a fan of on Deviant Art had openings for commissions and her prices were very reasonable (Like 'oh my God are my eyes deceiving me' type reasonable).

Speaking of that series... I am afraid of giving too much of TUO away, so I have decided to share a little bit of Descendents with you for WIPpet Wednesday instead of continuing to share from chapter 6. Since today's date is June 19th, I'm going to share with you 6 paragraphs and 19 lines from the prologue. This part takes place in the modern times when Vivian, the heroine, is still a young girl. Her mother has recently disappeared and is presumed dead. Her father, however, still believes that her mother is still alive somewhere and has been looking for her.

“In the beginning there was man.” Bree said, starting a story that she knew by heart as she tucked her young charge into bed. “Man did not understand the world, and became angry when the elements would destroy their creations, their crops, and their lives on a whim. So Man sought to teach the elements a lesson by binding them to the lives of four girls. There was one for fire, for air, for wind, and for earth. Man taught them how to cook, how to dig wells, how to build houses strong enough to withstand a winter storm, and how to plant the fields. However, the elements ended up teaching man a lesson as well; how to live in harmony with the world, and everyone was at peace.”

Vivian nodded as she pulled one of her stuffed toys closer and wrapped her hand around the necklace her mother had given her for protection. At ten she was a bit old for a bedtime story, but it was the best idea she could come up with to delay lights out for just a bit longer. Her father and Uncle Mike had ridden off on their Harley’s earlier that day, and she did not want to go to sleep until she knew that they were home safe. When Bree, her Uncle Mike’s sister, had refused to let her stay up late, Vivian had gone for the old standby of requesting a story. Thankfully no one had thought to warn her new nanny about that trick.

“Then one day, man became greedy.” Bree continued, “They decided to control the elements instead of working with them. The world fell into chaos...”

“Oh that’s a real great story to tell her right before bedtime.” A deep voice said, interrupting the story. Both Vivian and Bree looked up to find Vivian’s father, Adam, watching them from the doorway.

“Dad!” Vivian cried out, feeling a little better now that he was home safe.

“Hi sweetheart.” He came to the bed, bending down to kiss his daughter on the forehead. She hugged him, burying her face in his shoulder and breathing in the mix of leather and cigarette smoke with a happy sigh.

“When did you get home? We didn’t hear the Harleys.” Bree stood, making room for Adam on the bed, but he motioned for her to sit back down, and pulled up his daughter’s bean bag for himself. Vivian smothered a giggle at seeing her father trying to fit on it; he was so tall that he had to stretch out his legs in front of him or else they would reach up to this chin.

“We turned them off  and walked them in because this one was supposed to be asleep by now.” He gave Vivian a mock glare and waggled a finger at her. She giggled and slapped it away, and he ruffled her hair.

“Did you...”

“Not in front of the girl.” Adam cut Bree off and she flushed. “Continue with your story.”

“Well, that was pretty much it - the world fell into chaos and that’s why things are the way they are right now. There’s so much evil and darkness in the World because the elements aren't around to keep the balance.”

“But, when they are needed, the girls return, and order is restored.” Vivian finished for her.

Bree raised an eyebrow at her, “You’ve heard this one before?”

“Your brother used to tell it to her and once I caught Evie...” Adam started and then abruptly stopped, his jaw tightening at the memory of Vivian’s mother.

And that's all for writing today! You can read more WIPpet Wednesday posts over here, and see more ROW 80 check ins over that-a-way!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Music Monday: The Grand Finale...

Today's selection comes from the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack. It's titled The Grand Finale. Danny Elfman is one of my favorite composers - second only to Hans Zimmer - and this piece is equally ethereal and eerie.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Secret Garden...

It's been another long week. It had it's ups (New couch! Clean living room!) and it had it's downs (totally useless doctors appointment) but it's almost over with.

I wasn't able to write as much as I wanted - we were still testing for the mid month website update up until yesterday (the update was due to be released tonight) but I was taken off of testing and reassigned to doing triage on stuck orders yesterday. I was annoyed at first (one always feels as if they've done something wrong or are being punished when they're removed from a project) but at the same time it was a little bit of a relief - people were getting frustrated and not communicating. My stress levels are already high enough due to this PCOS and fibroids stuff, so it's nice to take a step back, and work by myself.

My only complaint is that I've run out of music to listen to while I work. Any suggestions?

While I wasn't able to write as much as I wanted, I was able to chip away some more at Chapter 5. It's really quite sad that I've been struggling with this damn chapter ever since this round of ROW80 started. But I'm almost there. I swear. Girl Scout honor and all that.

Patricia Wrede posted a blog about writing crowd scenes today - which was appropriate because I'm in the middle of a crowd scene in one of my fanfics.

For this weeks WIPpet Wednesday, I have decided to share another part of Chapter 6. Since today's the 12th, here's 12 sentences for you to enjoy. This picks up a little bit after last week's WIPpet -Mattie has followed the footsteps, and has stumbled across a strange garden.

The continuous maze of hallways and rooms suddenly emptied out into a garden. Mattie skidded to a stop and stared at her new surroundings in shock. Despite the disrepair of the rest of the castle, this garden was surprisingly well kept; the plants and flowers had been recently trimmed and and far off she could hear the burble of water in a fountain. She followed the trail of stepping stones that stretched out in front of her, her head turning from side to side as she tried to take it all in.

Even though she had never seen it before - any of it - the well-worn paths between roses and other flowers seemed familiar.  Only... no... that wasn't right... The garden felt more than just familiar; the longer she stood there, the more she realized that she knew it by heart... like one of Rordan’s stories. She knew, though she didn’t know how to explain how she knew it, but she knew that if she continued straight ahead there would be a marble fountain. Beyond that, down a smaller side path, there was a grassy circle which was the perfect place to have a picnic during the summertime, or to watch the stars pass overhead during the night.

Her heart continued to race as if she was still running and the little hairs on the back of her neck stood up as if she had just walked into a cold room. It was one thing to not remember that you could read if it had been centuries since you had had a reason or the opportunity to read, but it was another thing entirely to recognize someplace one had never been. Was this more proof that she was losing control of her mind?

Or was she simply seeing things again?

Poor Mattie...

Anywho, WIPpet Wednesday was started by K. L. Schwengel of My Random Muse. The rules are simple, all you have to do is post part of a work in progress that some how relates to the date, or if you don't have a WIP, you can always start something new.

Be sure to check out more WIPpet Wednesday posts over here, you can also find more ROW 80 updates over here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The PCOS Diaries #2

I went in yesterday for my meeting with the Specialist concerning the ultrasound results.

Previously, when I had called to get my ultrasound results from the OBGYN, she had told me that the specialist and I would discuss if I needed surgery or not, and that I would probably be put on some medication (most likely metformin) to treat my PCOS. She also mentioned that they might put me on Clomid to help with the infertility.

While the thought of surgery was scary, I had done my research and knew that, depending on where the fibroids were, the surgery probably wouldn't be that bad. Also, while Metformin is normally used to treat diabetics, it's common for it to be prescribed to treat PCOS, and, aside from a few side effects which my friends who take it warned me about, it's really not that bad.

The Clomid, if prescribed, would be really interesting. Because it makes both ovaries ovulate at the same time, there's a higher chance of having twins. Twins happen to run in my family and in my husbands family, so taking the Clomid would bump up our odds of having twins even more than normal.

Armed with this knowledge, I walked into the appointment with the Specialist feeling hopeful that everything would be resolved.

I walked out feeling crushed.

The specialist was rude and condescending and I got the impression that she didn't care and didn't want to help me at all. .

She refused to do surgery on the fibroids. Even though they were in a spot where I could get the less invasive surgery, she said that due to their size, she wouldn't be able to do the surgery at all. It's not that I wanted surgery - who does really? - but I knew that the size of the fibroids could make it hard for an embryo to implant in the uterus, and could cause miscarriages later on.

She also refused to diagnose me with PCOS even though the ultrasound showed, very clearly, that I had poly cystic ovaries. She stated that since I had a regular cycle, I was fine. The thing is though, you can have regular cycles and have PCOS. Just like you can have normal skin and hair and be thin and have PCOS. The only sure fire way to tell if someone has it is to test them.

Once I explained that it did run in my family, along with fibroids, endometriosis, and thyroid issues, she seemed a little more willing to admit that, yes, there might be a problem. However, she couldn't prescribe anything to treat it because 'Specialists don't write prescriptions - only GPs do.'

Then, to add insult to injury, I had to suffer through another pap smear for the second time in as many months (the first one came back clean, and when I mentioned that she told me she was starting over from the beginning with me... can we say, huh?) and told to loose weight.  

On the upside, she did schedule me to get blood work later this month. One test to confirm that I am ovulating, and another is to check my thyroid and blood sugar levels (which really needed to be done know that I know my family history).

Later I told my husband and our friends what had happened. They were all shocked and insisted that I get a second opinion- especially about the prescription for Metformin, because, if left untreated, PCOS can cause some serious medical issues later in life. Currently we are trying to find a better doctor, but it's hard to find one who has good reviews, is up to date, and is in our insurance network. 

Someday we'll get this all figured out...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Turkish Bodice...

Last year I made a really fabulous peasant bodice for myself that I decked out with two different fabrics and golden gimp braid. It was a beautiful piece and everyone loved it. However, I only wore it at Faire for two hours, because it was extremely hot that day and I ended up coming down with either Sun Stroke or Heat Exhaustion. All I know is that I was sick all the way home, and I didn't start feeling even remotely human again until I had taken a cold shower and laid in front of the A/C unit at home for two hours.

This year I was determined not to repeat that experience - so I decided to wear tribal garb instead of English. The only problem was that my old short bodice, also known as a Turkish Bodice, was a bit too small. I had gained weight since I purchased it, and, even though it had lacing on the sides so I could make it smaller or larger as needed, there is only so much of that you can do before it's uncomfortable and not as supportive. Seriously, the last time I wore it I had to keep adjusting the girls every five minutes!

However, I didn't have a pattern to make a new Turkish Bodice. I began to research how to make one, but, surprisingly, there are no free patterns for a Turkish Bodice online (though there are plenty of patterns for peasant bodices, chemises, skirts, and bloomers). My friends said they either used their English bodice patterns and just made them shorter. Another sent me a sketch that involved darts, and a fourth person suggested that I use elastic lacing for the sides (which isn't a bad idea).

Not wanting to use my English bodice pattern, because it wasn't the right shape, and thoroughly confused by the sketch that involved darts and weird measurements that I wasn't quite sure how to get, I decided to take a look at my old Turkish Bodice and use it as a pattern.

I stretched it out over some wrapping paper we had and drew around it, making little marks where there were seams - like at the shoulders and in the front. I then added an inch to the bottom, and added an inch to the sides and the princess seams in the front. After that was figured out, I used the new pattern to cut out a mock up and sewed it all together.

Once I was pleased with the fit, I went ahead with the final bodice using some fabric I had bought several years ago for another project that never came to fruition.

Even though it came out smaller than I intended, the Turkish Bodice still fit really well and was very comfortable. Between this and my other tribal garb, I was able to keep cool every time we went out to Faire, and there was no Sun Stroke or Heat Exhaustion repeats.

Despite how I stressed over the pattern, this was surprisingly easy to make! The only problems I had were when I turned it right side out, the shoulder straps were a little too narrow, so, once again, the fabric became stuck. However, since it's thinner fabric, I was able to coax it through a little easier than what happened with the Bodice of Blood and Broken Teeth. I also used 1/2" boning in the front, and no boning on the sides.

The next time around I'll use 1/4" boning in the front and on the sides instead - and I'll use the elastic lacing on the sides like my one friend suggested.

Since these were so easy to make, and I have an abundance of fabric that is appropriate for them laying around, I'm actually going to start selling these on Etsy very very soon. I'll be sure to post the link here as soon as I do!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Always Tweaking Things...

I'm one of those writers who, even though she knows better, will often find herself going back and editing scenes in previous chapters even though the novel isn't done yet. I'm trying very hard to break this habit, but, last week I found myself going through The Undying Ones once again and making changes to the story.

This time around I didn't do anything that made a full rewrite of the story necessary. I just took the flash back scenes and cut them out with the intent of adding them in later. I did this because it made no sense to me to have Mattie remembering things in bits and pieces, and yet having full blown detailed dreams about her past. Instead I plan to build up to the more detailed dreams over the next couple of chapters. It seems to flow better.

I also had to cut some dialogue from the infamous chapter 5 of TUO. It was just holding the chapter back, and I wonder if it was contributing to my writers block for that chapter.

No more progress has been made on either The Dancer or The Descendents. Though I did post a new chapter of one of my fanfics over on - however it didn't generate much of a response.

Jezebel posted an interesting article on How To Write a Feminist Young Adult Novel on Sunday. Then, when I was on Tumblr the other day I saw this comic - which seemed oddly appropriate:

Lindsay Buroker (author of the Emporer's Edge) posted this interview by Sue London yesterday. It discusses how her self published novel became a best seller and how she got there. 

Patricia Wrede discusses world building in her post Icebergs and Soap Bubbles and finding time to write in Building In The Time.

And now on to the WIPpet Wednesday portion of the post. Since today is June 5th, I'll post five paragraphs from Chapter 6 of The Undying Ones (I almost wrote 5 chapters from book 6 there! That would've been a doozy!). To give a bit of a background on the book and the scene: Mattie lives in a castle where no one dies thanks to a curse that was cast ages ago, the queen is missing, and no one has seen the King in years - though his men say he still lives. There have been some disturbing things happening around the castle recently, things that have started jogging memories that Mattie shouldn't have. This scene takes place after Mattie has had an argument with her friends, and is wandering the castle by herself:

She wandered aimlessly about the empty hallways and rooms, straying far from the common areas that she was familiar with. Here was a room that had completed collapsed in on itself. There was one that was marked by flooding. Another had been reclaimed by the garden it butted up against; vines wound through the broken glass and up across the ceiling and a carpet of grass and moss covered the floor.
She found a nursery filled with toys that had probably been made by her father during the good times. However they, along with the furniture in the room, had all been destroyed long ago - not by time, but by human hand. Did the King and Queen have a child that was lost to the plague or the curse? Or had they been hoping for one? The feelings of anger and the sadness that haunted the room were overpowering, and so Mattie left, shutting the door behind her to hide the carnage.
Next she ended up in a library, where shelves filled with books stretched towards the fading murals that decorated the ceilings overhead. The books were tinted with age and stained by mold, but the titles on the covers were still legible. She ran her fingers along the bindings, selected one that looked promising, and sat down on the ground before opening it.
She was surprised to realize that she was able to understand the words on the page in front of her. When she considered it, it made sense to her that she would know how to read since she was the daughter of the toymaker - surely she had helped him keep his books when times had been better. However she could not remember learning, just like she could not remember how old she was when the curse had struck. Since there were not many books to be found in the common areas, she had never bothered to try before. Wouldn't her friends be surprised!
It was a lovely story about a girl who had been cursed to sleep forever when she pricked her finger on a spindle. Mattie had just reached the part where the hero and heroine had met and realized they were attracted to each other when she heard the footsteps.