Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Of Moving and WIPpets...

We are mostly moved in to our new place. There's still a few items we left behind at the old apartment, but we're going back to clean this weekend, so we can grab them then. In the mean time we're unpacking, organizing, and repacking and storing the things we don't need.

My husband did get my new sewing room set up despite all the chaos. It's actually quite nice; I have plenty of room to sew, store my various supplies, cut out patterns and fabric, and since it's separate from the house, I don't have to worry about our cats interfering with any of the above. Sadly the room doesn't have much in the way of insulation, so it's normally hotter than hell when I go in there - even if go out early in the morning! There is an AC wall unit though, so I just turn that on, wait about a half an hour for it to cool everything down, then head on in and get to work.

And, boy, have I been making use of that sewing room a lot since we moved in. Two orders for corsets came in before we moved, an order for a bodice came in the day of the move, and currently I'm waiting for someone to pay for a shirt before I start on that.

Unfortunately, because of the move and all the sewing going on, I haven't been able to do much writing this past week. However, I did find a snippet of something I wrote a couple of years ago to share for my Wednesday WIPpet. From what I remember, it was one of those ones that had to be written RIGHT NOW even though I never did anything else with it (maybe someday though...)

This takes place in an alternate world that's very similar to ours except they had WW3 and we didn't. The girl in the snippet, Stacy, also called Stasia, was visiting a foreign country that's strongly based on Russia and the USSR, but currently doesn't have a name, when she saw too much and was basically taken into custody. She managed to escape, but things happened, and she was arrested. The men who work for the organization that originally took her into custody have come to claim her and take her back.

So, since today is the 28th of May, here are 28 paragraphs from that snippet (don't worry, they're mostly short and it's mostly dialogue)
The girl sat behind the table in the interrogation room, her head bowed so that her greasy hair hid her faced. It was the most subdued Ruslan had ever seen her, and he found himself wondering what exactly had happened in the days since her escape from the institute. The file in his hands accused her of theft and murder. He could believe the theft - she had been alone without any money, of course she would steal food to survive - but murder? She wouldn’t hurt a fly! 
He glanced at Nikolai and then up at the security camera in the corner. Even though they were well out of the range of Illyana’s relay abilities, a quick nod confirmed that the other man understood what his captain wanted. He leaned against the cement brick wall, looking nonchalant but serious, as if he was going to play the bad cop to Ruslan’s good cop. A few seconds later, the camera emitted a short sharp buzz and a puff of smoke. Then, from behind the two way mirror came cries of dismay as the recording equipment hidden in the observation room was given the same treatment as the security camera. 
“Stacy.” Ruslan pulled out the only other chair in the room and sat across the table from the girl. 
The girl didn’t respond. Instead, she just continued to stare at her hands, clenching and unclenching them and rubbing them together. 
“Stasia...” He reached out to grab her hands, but she flinched and pulled away. “You’re safe now.”
Her bitter laughter startled him. “Am I? Really? Feels like I’m right back where I started at.”
“What did you expect?” Nikolai said, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket. He slapped the top of the pack on his hands, once, twice, three times, before he unwrapped it. “Did you think the army and the good doctors would let you go?”
“Do you think anyone back home would honestly believe me if I tried to tell them anything? No one remembers who I am anymore!” She finally looked up and glared at Nikolai, her eyes flashing in the dim light of the interrogation room.
“Better safe than sorry.”
“Nikolai, silence.” Ruslan ordered. “Stacy, ignore him.”
“Yes, sir.” Both replied. Nikolai’s tone was that of a lifelong soldier. The girl’s, however, reminded him of a petulant teenager. 
He flipped open the file the police had given him. “Now, you are currently accused of murdering two citizens -”
“They were thugs. They tried to...” Her voice trailed off and she glanced down at her hands again.
Ruslan leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and tried to focus lest the sudden anger boiling in his veins threatened to overtake him. This is why he had been so against her little field trip with Kiril. Not only was she a flight risk, but a beautiful thing like her would present quite a target for those citizens who were upset with how the war had ended. “So you were assaulted.”
“They tried - they didn’t succeed.” Her voice was so soft he almost missed it at first. 
“So you did kill them.” Nikolai spoke up again, breaking his superior’s order. “How? You suck at hand to hand combat. The self defense you do know is rudimentary at best. You have not been trained on guns or knives.”
Ruslan was tempted to turn around and tear into the man, but a sight of the girl clenching her fists again distracted him. Yes, she was horrible at all the things Nikolai was listing off, but there were other ways. He flipped through the file to the picture of the bodies the police had found her with - they had been burnt to a crisp so badly that not even dental records could be used to identify the bodies. 
“Stacy,” He kept his voice soft as he slid the picture in front of her. “Did you do this to them?”
Now it was Nikolai’s turn to burst out laughing as finally pulled a cigarette from the pack he had opened. “Her? Have you forgotten your little pet is as mundane as they come? She has no abilities. Nothing.”
Ruslan knew that, but it was possible that the doctors had snuck her off to experiment on at some point and had Illyana block those memories. Originally they had agreed not to, since she was not a member of the federation, but now that any record of her had been erased from her home country’s files and from her family’s memory as well, what was stopping them from playing with her genes like they had played with the rest of the team’s?
The girl stared at the photo, blinking rapidly. 
“What happened?”
She licked her lips. “Please don’t make me.”
“If we know what happened we can help you.” He grabbed her hands finally, stilling them before she could rub the skin off of them with her constant rubbing. This time she did not flinch or pull away. “Please, Stasia.”
She sighed and closed her eyes. “Fine.”
Ruslan had only a moment’s warning. One moment her hands were simply warm, the next they were unbearably hot. He quickly threw up his shields before she could burn them, but he quickly realized he needn’t worry - her target wasn’t him. There was a yelp of surprise from Nikolai, and Ruslan turned to find that the cigarette the soldier had put up to his lips had burst into flames before he could light it with a match. He slapped it away, and it fell to the floor where quickly turned into ash.
Fire ability - the rarest of them all. 
To see more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #1

After seeing the 'Pregnant' symbol pop up on the pregnancy test, I immediately called my husband upstairs and showed him the test.

His face was pretty priceless.

We hugged and cried and laughed - and immediately called our respective parents to tell them the news. Even though so much can go wrong in the first trimester, we didn't want to wait. My in-laws were ecstatic. So was my father.

My mom, however, was a little more reserved.

She knew that since I was overweight and had fibroids, my chances of complications were much much higher than the average pregnancy. We had a long discussion about how I would need to eat better now, and exercise more, so both I and the baby could be healthy.

Then she told me that regardless of if the baby was a boy or a girl she would be buying it nothing but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff, because I had been so crazy about them as a kid, and driven her nuts with them, so it was only fair she pass that obsession on to my child for me to enjoy.

We both laughed at that.

The next day I called my doctors office and made my first prenatal appointment. The earliest they could get me in was February though. My friend who was currently pregnant, was shocked that it would take that long, but I had read that most doctors won't see a pregnant woman until she's at least two months along. Also, my doctor is pretty popular, so I was really surprised.

Then, I started spotting.

Everything online told me that it was probably nothing, that spotting happens in the first trimester, that it could be late implantation bleeding, and that the only time I should worry was if the blood was dark red and I had period like cramps.

Thankfully what I was seeing was only light pink, and it disappeared quickly. But when it happened again the next day, and the day after that, I began to worry.

I called up the doctors office, and even though they confirmed what I had read online (spotting is normal, etc etc etc), they were able to get me in to see the doctor the next day. She, according to the nurse, wanted to do an ultrasound.

That made me worry even more. If everything was normal, then why was she doing an ultrasound?

Well, it turned out the nurse hadn't told the doctor everything. When we showed up the next day, she thought we were there to do an ultrasound on the fibroids - which she thought was a bit silly since I had just had an MRI done the week before - and to discuss surgery. We promptly explained that, no, we weren't worried about the fibroids at all anymore - we were pregnant.

The doctor laughed, promised to talk to her nurse about being more clear, and congratulated us.

She explained that it turned out that I only had one fibroid, not two, and that it was as big as the first doctor told us. However, it was in the best spot possible - outside of the uterus and attached to it's top - and shouldn't affect the pregnancy in any way.

The doctor did a quick ultrasound and confirmed that yes, I was pregnant. Our baby, which really looked more like a blob that early in the pregnancy, was hanging out in my uterus and bobbing around. Afterwards she did a quick physical and went over what I could and couldn't do and what I could and couldn't eat now that I was pregnant.

Once she was done, the nurse came in and took my blood to check my HCG levels. The nurse explained that in two days I would need to get my blood drawn again, to make sure that they had doubled.

They didn't double.

The doctor called once they got the results back and told me that while they had increased, they had not doubled like they were supposed to. Also, my progesterone levels were obscenely low - a 4.7 when they should have been at least a 15.

She explained that by now the baby should have a heart beat. The fact that we hadn't seen one when we went in was worrisome, but her ultrasound machine wasn't that powerful, so it was quite possible that it missed it. Therefore she was sending us to a local lab to get a second opinion. Their machine would be stronger, and would be able to pick up more.

The earliest the local lab could get us in was two days later though (thanks, in part, to the nurse sending over the wrong paperwork, not once, but twice) so we spent two days in agony, wondering if the baby we were dreaming of was actually a blighted ovum, or if the pregnancy was a molar pregnancy, or if I would miscarry. There was a lot of crying and a lot of praying that went on during that time, and I pray I never have to go through that again.

The day of the big ultrasound dawned, and I downed my 35 ounces of water like a good girl. By the time we made it to the lab though, my bladder was about to burst. Neither sitting nor standing was comfortable, and I slipped off to the bathroom once or twice to relieve just a little bit of the pressure. My husband scolded me each time, but I'd like to see him down that much water and hold it for that long.

The techs finally called us into the ultrasound room, and I tried to make myself comfortable on the bed. The tech went to town with the ultrasound goop and the wand, and we held our breaths, praying she would have good news.

For the longest time she didn't say anything, so I immediately feared the worst - that something was wrong, and we would have to wait to hear the bad news from my doctor.

My husband, who was just as stressed out as I was, broke down first and asked, 'Does it have a heartbeat?'

The tech nodded, and explained that our baby had a heartbeat of 160 beats per minute and was really moving around in there.

I grabbed my husbands hand and started crying. The tech looked at us like we were crazy until we finally explained that the situation. She congratulated us, printed out some pictures (which still didn't look like much but had more detail than the first ultrasound) and sent us home to recover and bask in the good news.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moving...

My husband and I are in the middle of moving - so we will return to our regularly scheduled WIPpet updates next week!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The PCOS Diaries #6

I apologize for not updating this portion of my blog in awhile - a lot of stuff has happened since January, and for several months there I had no energy at all (if you read my WIPpet posts, you know why by now ;) )

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I May be a Little Grumpy With the Weather...

It is hot in Southern California this week. Not quite cook an egg on the sidewalk hot, but hot and windy, which is just as miserable. I've been turning on the AC as soon as I get home, and any time my husband mentions how we should be fine in our new place with just fans I glare at him and insist that we will be getting a window AC unit AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY THIS PREGNANT LADY IS GOING WITHOUT AC IF THE SUMMER IS GOING TO BE THIS BAD.

*ahem*

Now where were we?

Last week was completely and totally dead at work. Most of my coworkers were at an out of town conference, and those of us who were left behind didn't have much to do. I was tempted to bring in my crochet and work on that (I've done it in the past, when I first hired on with the company, and was nicknamed the girl who knits as a result!) but I've reached that point in the pregnancy where I can't crochet for very long or else my carpal tunnel begins to act up.

So I wrote instead.

I was able to get more done with the Descendants. Then I promptly changed my mind about something I had written previously, and went back and rewrote that part of the chapter. I also plugged away on my fanfics a little. I tried to work on The Undying Ones, but, unfortunately, that chapter is still being a pain. I severely underestimated how much that needed to be edited! And it's hard to focus on doing that when the other stories are flowing so well!

And now, for WIPpet Wednesday!

Since today is the 14th, I'll be sharing 14 lines from The Descendants. This takes place shortly after Josh chews out Vivian for turning down his proposal (which you can find here). Audra, a friend of Vivian's, has come in to check on her and suggests that maybe, once they get back from their trip, Vivian can work things out with her boyfriend. The fun part about this scene is that I was able to give a nod to a book I adore, and work in a little foreshadowing.
Vivian snorted. Josh? Forgive her? After all the embarrassment she had just caused him? “My odds of meeting a hot ginger with a Scottish accent are way better than us ever getting back together.”
“Okay.” Audra drawled out the word. “So we’re adding a lot of pub visits to the itinerary. Or we can find a circle of standing stones or something for you to fall through like that girl in that one book...”
She tried to glare at her friend, but found herself laughing despite her foul mood. 
“I never liked him much anyways.” The smaller girl added once their laughter had faded away. “I can have him kicked out if you want.”
“Thanks.”
To check out more Wednesday WIPpets, go here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Barefoot in the Kitchen with Peanut Butter...

That title sounds really dirty. I swear to you it's not.

Yesterday, I wanted to have something sweet for desert (normally we don't do desert in our house) but I had baked up all the cookie mix, and we didn't have enough ingredients for cookies from scratch. All we had was one lonely tub of vanilla ice cream. Normally I like vanilla ice cream, but usually with something else to accompany it, like chocolate syrup, strawberries or bananas.

Sadly we were all out of those.

However we did have peanut butter. In fact we have a lot of peanut butter, because it's one of my favorite foods. Seriously. I love it. PB&J sandwiches, peanut butter cups, peanut butter brownies, peanut butter shakes. You cannot go wrong with peanut butter.

Was it possible, I thought to myself, to put peanut butter on ice cream as a topping? We've tried Nutella on soft serve at the local fro yo place, and that was pretty good. But Nutella isn't as thick as peanut butter, and it's a little sweeter too.

Wondering if plain old peanut butter and ice cream would work out, I decided to do a search for 'Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping' in google to find out.

This recipe from All Recipes was the first one to pop up. I clicked on the link and discovered that the recipe was really simple! All it called for was sugar, water, and peanut butter. You heat up the sugar and water on the stove, for about a minute, then add it to the peanut butter and you're good to go!

I told my husband and we decided to give it a shot.

Instead of using the 1 cup of sugar that the recipe called for, we decided to go with a third instead because some of the reviews said the 1 cup was too much. We probably should have added a little more water as well, because the syrup came out really thick. Despite that, it was really really good, and my husband and I enjoyed it immensely.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Casting Characters...

Time for a fun post I've been wanting to do for awhile. One that has nothing to do with sewing, or babies on the way, or crazy cats! Casting characters!

I don't know if this is the same for all authors, but when I write, or think about my stories, I can see scenes playing out in my head on my own personal movie screen. As a result, almost all of the characters in my stories have people 'casted' to play them.

Sometimes they resemble a friend or someone I know. Atiya, who recently popped up in Between Two Worlds, is very strongly based on an amazing Belly Dancer I know from Halloween Haunt and the Southern California Renaissance Faire. Harris, another character from Between Two Worlds, is based, at least in looks, on a gentleman who used to work Faire.

Sometimes they resemble an actor that I'm fond of. Vivian, from the Descendants, is definitely based (at least in looks) on Jennifer Lawrence (LOVE HER!) and her best friend Audra resembles Ellen Page. Maya (the adult version of her that is) is Amanda Seyfried.

And then, sometimes how I picture them changes over time. For example; Gwalchmei, who Vivian runs into in Book 2 of The Descendants, was originally Bedwyr, a complete and utter misogynist jerk, and had black hair and blue eyes. Back then, I totally pictured him as Joe Manganiello. Now, that Bedwyr has turned into Gwalchmei, is much kinder, and has red hair and blue eyes, I often picture him as a bearded, long haired Tom Hardy - though I have to admit, Michiel Huisman comes in as a close second (I blame this entirely on his portrayal of Daario in Game of Thrones)

Hello gorgeous...

There are exceptions though - I have not cast Mattie, from The Undying Ones. Since she wears a mask for a majority of her story, I don't know what her real features look like just yet. The same goes for Rordan and Talesin - who are so scarred it would require several hours of make up for anyone to look anything like the picture in my head I have of them! Domick from Between Two Worlds is another tough one. While there is a portrait of him in the People of Pern, it looks nothing like anyone I know, or any celebrity I may have heard of.

Who do you see playing your characters in your stories?

Your weekly dose of writing news:
Amanda Hocking talks about words she gets mixed up when writing (I confess I have this problem sometimes too.)
LJ Smith is taking back her series, The Vampire Diaries, through Fanfic

And now for WIPpet Wednesday!

Since today's date is May 7th, here are 12 lines (5+7=12) from the chapter of The Undying Ones I'm working on cleaning up. When last we checked in on chapter 10, the King had left his tower for the first time in ages and had joined his people in the Great Hall. Needless to say, they were all a bit surprised! However, the King seems to be in a bit of a foul mood, and some of his men think they know who can help:

Finally, as if the guards had reached a silent agreement, one of them stepped away from the dais. He sighed in relief when he found Mattie hiding in the shadows at the edge of theroom. “Go talk with him. He likes you. Maybe you can cheer him up.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“None of your business. Go do your friends and family a favor and speak to the King. Make him smile.” He shoved her away from the wall, into the middle of the room.

Mattie could feel everyone’s eyes on her and hear their conversations fade away to whispers as she approached the King’s throne.

To read more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Of LJ Smith, Vampire Diaries, and Kindle Worlds...

When I was younger, I used to adore LJ Smith. My dear friend Steph, who passed away three years ago this month, introduced me to her Nightworld series, and I quickly devoured them. Afterwards she introduced me to The Secret Circle, which was also finished quickly, and The Vampire Diaries, which I was less thrilled about, but still enjoyed.

In the late '90s, LJ Smith stopped writing due to personal reasons.

My friend and I were devastated; what would happen to our favorite characters?!? How dare she leave us hanging! We were forced to reread and reread our books over and over and over again until the spines became creased and they started to fall apart.

But with the popularity of Twilight came a new hope. LJ Smith started to write again, and began to add more novels to her Vampire Diaries series. While I still wasn't thrilled with them (I was WAY more into Nightworld... I was totally obsessed with a secondary character who only shows up in two chapters in one book... I was a weird kid...) they were fun to read.

And then LJ Smith got fired from her own series.

I was shocked, as were many of her fans. It turned out that she had never owned the series to begin with - she had been hired, as a young writer, by this publishing company to create an Interview With the Vampire series for teenagers. They owned the copyright, the characters, everything she had come up with, and did not agree with the way the story was going. So, they fired her and hired other writers to continue with the series.

How crappy is that?

Last week, though, I stumbled across an interesting article on The Mary Sue, and after checking LJ Smith's website, I learned it was true. Apparently, she is able to continue to her version of the story, which picks up after Midnight, by publishing it as fanfic through Kindle Worlds. (You can read more here.)

While I'm not a big fan of Kindle Worlds (why would you want to buy fanfic when you can go on An Archive of Our Own or Fanfiction.net and read it for free) this is a pretty amazing way to use it - and it took some pretty big cajones for LJ Smith to do! Bravo Ms Smith! Bravo!