“When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers.”
Natalie Goldberg

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Shifting Gears
Sat 2005-12-17 00:05:54 (single post)
  • 52,650 wds. long
  • 56.50 hrs. revised
  • 52,880 wds. long
  • 96.75 hrs. revised

Heck with it.

The Averatec laptop is in the shop. Its Windows XP install proved too far gone to repair. An attempt to load a new XP installation over the top (which, if successful, would have allowed me to boot up and actually get to my files) failed to the tune of "Cannot install. C:\ is corrupted." So here I wait, twiddling my thumbs, hoping that the files I was able to see on the disk during a CD boot to DOS operation are indeed recoverable.

And the novel? Apparently I hadn't backed it up once since beginning to work on it this month. Didn't back up a copy of the new chapter outline last week after the IHOP session. Didn't upload to the web server a copy of the novel after working on it in Indiana. I'm a ditz. A total ditz.

So I could continue working on it now, just leave a blank line with a ### in it to mark where the temporarily (knock on wood) unavailable version of the manuscript had progressed, but...

Heck with it.

There is no way that Becoming Sara Peltier would be ready for submission in the next week even if my laptop hadn't taken a nose dive. No, that's OK--Delacorte's Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel is just going to go another year without my manuscript among its contestants.

Meanwhile, word on the street is that I'll hear one way or another about The Drowning Boy by the end of the month. And that novel was backed up along with everything else shortly after November ended. Copied to ZIP drive, burned to CD, the works. So. Today I dove back into it. When we last left Brian, he had finally met the mermaids. Things were very tense. I'd been uncertain how to get the tension to shift so that the story could continue--I sort of had him all curled up in a floating ball of used-to-be-human misery amidst personal demons and suchlike. But tonight, hanging out at the downtown Borders while my husband browsed the aisles, I finally had a spark that just might lead to the end of chapter 11. So that's all better.

So there's the novelling side of things. Back over on the technical difficulties side, I wanna give a shout out to Ken. He used to be a tech for Computer Renaissance back when I bought this Averatec and had the data recovered off the fatally flawed Toshiba Satellite. Now he's working down the street from me at PC Express. He took time out of a morning full of 'xtreme custom computer building to totally hold my hand through the Windows XP repair attempts. He knew I'd have to take it away to Comp Ren because of them holding my 3-year extended warranty--heck, he encouraged me to take it over there--but he took the time to help me out and provide moral support anyway. Damn cool guy, that Ken. You should totally haul your boxes over to PC Express for upgrades and give him some business.

(And super-duper thanks to Willow for pointing me in Ken's direction!)

On Low-Tech Tale-Spinning
Tue 2005-12-13 09:23:14 (single post)
  • 52,650 wds. long
  • 56.50 hrs. revised
  • 50,059 wds. long

So, life quite suddenly sucks. My computer has died.

Well, that's putting it a little overly strong. Life doesn't exactly suck, per se. I mean, John and I are in Bloomington, Indiana; we're staying with Cate; we're comfy and well-fed and in loving company. True, the Saints did not win last night, but you can't expect too much from your weekend. Life is actually pretty good.

But somewhere between hibernating my laptop yesterday morning and attempting to wake it back up again yesterday afternoon, Something Went Horribly Wrong. After I halted its unsuccesful Resume From Hibernate prrocess, it entered a cycle of disk checks during which it deleted many purportedly corrupted sectors, and then after gnawing on itself in this fashion for several minutes it utterly failed to recognize a bootable drive. I get the Averatec splash screen and then nothing but a blinking cursor.

Curses!

So today I pulled out my spiral notebook, wrote down the previous novel-editing session's final sentence from memory, and then tried mightly to keep going. Boy, what a comedown. I've used computers for so long that my handwriting is illegible, and my longhand writing mentality is all, like, "This is just freewriting and Morning Pages and stuff, why should I care about quality?"

Clearly I need to compose manuscript copy in longhand more often. It's no good to rely so completely on electricity and microprocessors.

So today I mostly spent trying to convince myself to write as though it mattered. Then I got a little into Sasha's seemingly unplanned meeting with her classmate crush in the Wilcox Plaza bookstore. And when I get back to Boulder I need to dig up my Windows XP Home Edition install disk, which I am assured exists and ought to be in my possession. I am skeptical of this, having no memory of bringing one home at the time of my laptop's purchase....

As for other things: In my opinion, The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe was very, very, very, very good. Faithful fans of the Narnia books, whether their interest is in the fantasy story or in the Christian allegory, all ought to be well pleased. I am, however, a little troubled by an acquaintance's concern over the "appropriateness" of Lucy's friendship with the faun Tumnus. "I mean, he's, like, ten years older than her and he goes around shirtless! Is it right that they're going around holding hands all the time?" Is this an issue that ought even to occur? For heaven's sake, it's like watching Finding Neverland and begin convinced, despite James Barrie's protestations otherwise (which, by the way, the audience is supposed to believe), that the adult author is sexually involved with his children playmates. My goodness, we live in a corrupt age.

Other than that--other than having my mind now forever tainted by the previously unheard-of concept of little Lucy being preyed on by her best friend in Narnia--I have no complaints. Well, I was unimpressed by Liam Neeson's voicing of Aslan. But maybe that's unfair. Probably for me to be satisfied you'd have to get freakin' God in on that role. Well, God or James Earl Jones. Either one will do.

And in yet other news, the NaNoWriMo article in dirt has come out. Whee! Go read it right now!

On Vacation
Sat 2005-12-10 09:49:36 (single post)
  • 52,314 wds. long
  • 56.00 hrs. revised

Once again, I have overestimated my relative productivity while travelling.

Number of socks returned to functionality from the darning sack: One. The blue Encore DK Colorspun cable knits only had one hole to darn. I did that at the IHOP Wednesday evening while waiting for my computer to deal with the wi-fi situation. The dusty-rose Encore DK Colorspun lace socks both had holes, one of which I darned Thursday morning in the C Terminal of the Denver International Airport; the other is still waiting. (Encore DK is not a sock yarn. Guess which of my socks are frequent visitors to the darning sack? Go on. Guess.) I also knitted two inches last night on the mate to the double-knit gray Kroy sock with the white diamonds on top, but did not finish it. Damn. It's all cold here and I want to wear double-knit socks.

Number of hours spent working on the novel: Zero point Five. Result: One conversation in flashback rewritten. The hour count doesn't include all the staring at the work so far, all the cups of tea, and all the "just one more" games of Alchemy played after a few more minutes of staring.

Not a heck of a lot of progress in either court, I'm afraid.

But! Number of yarn-cutter pendants confiscated by DIA security: Zero. Not even a comment from the guard or a beep out of the metal-detector arch. So that's OK.

And. Number of Narnia-related movies to be watched by the end of today: One. I'll probably have a few words to say about that later. But only if I also get a bit more work done on the novel. Stay tuned.

OK, how about a Montblanc Kafka?
Wed 2005-12-07 23:22:22 (single post)
  • 52,074 wds. long
  • 55.50 hrs. revised

Why not. It looks nice, after all. I think we'll say that Uncle Matt bought it here.

Chapter outline is mostly done. Between that and my markups on the previous draft, I'm really ready for a type-in. I spent part of tonight dashing back into the three and a half rewritten chapters and seeding them with foreshadowy things and subplot arc beginnings. Hopefully things will sew up as nicely as I go.

Tomorrow morning John and I leave for Bloomington, Indiana, to see Cate. Yay, Cate! I am going to spend much of the plane ride darning socks. To that end, I am testing the waters of airport security by bringing my little wooden container of darning needles and my Christmas present from Sarah, a yarn-cutting pendant. It's awesome. It's not only a useful craft implement; it's totally goth. Well, aside from the cute little Clover logo.

The blade is totally protected so that this thing is dangerous only to yarn, but maybe the good folks at the metal detector arches will mistake it for a ninja throwing star and freak out. We'll have to see. Hopefully, by the time we land in Indianapolis, I'll have put three more of my handknit wool socks back into service. And that'll be a good thing, because it's freakin' cold in that part of the country. Even more so than here.

Distractions on the way towards a chapter outline.
Mon 2005-12-05 22:15:15 (single post)
  • 51,946 wds. long
  • 54.00 hrs. revised

Four chapters into the outline. Only four. Why only four? Well, those four chapters are already written (I mean, revised; the rest of the book is all NaNo-draft). So, writing them into the outline was a matter of observation, not planning. And observation led to certain distractions, word-and-line-level edits, and the taking of notes. Such as:

  • The symbolism of the pen and journal being like a sword and shield. Example: They are Sasha's defense/comfort when visiting Anubia. Example: Magically charged and returned to her, they are like quest items given to the hero of a fantasy story.
  • The real reason no one at school tries to mess with Anubia: they all know something Sasha only just found out. They know that Anubia has killed. This is also part of why no one at school likes her much. Not that her being a lesbian and a witch help much, not in this small Alabama town.
  • I need to decide on an actual fountain pen for Sasha. If Uncle "Traveling" Matt brought it back from Vienna, you can bet there's an appropriately fancy and expensive Viennese fountain pen model in real life. (Yes, Uncle Matt's nickname is from Fraggle Rock. Whyever not?)
  • If you mention the Salem Witch Trials at the beginning of a book about witchcraft, the witch trial motif had better show up later in the book. Even if only in flashback. Maybe to do with how the town treated Anubia after the murder/self-defense episode. (Note to self: How the heck did she not get lynched?)
  • Anubia and Uncle Matt share some marked conversational characteristics. The bombast, for starters. The pompous know-it-all attitude. Only when he does it, it's charming. When she does it, it's obnoxious. From Sasha's point of view, anyway.
So what with one thing and another, the rest of the chapter outline will have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a couple recommendations. If you are sitting down to edit your first novel, it helps to fortify yourself with a calm-smelling candle and a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and black rum. Well, it helps me, anyway.

Annnnd they'rrrrre OFF!
Tue 2005-11-01 00:48:00 (single post)
  • 51,821 wds. long
  • 53.00 hrs. revised
  • 52,755 wds. long
  • 96.25 hrs. revised
  • 135 wds. long
  • 257 wds. long

It is now officially November, and now I have a word count. We had a Countdown To Word One House Party. CO_Butterfly came over, and my husband, AKA Worldnamer, pulled out his ancient decrepit Compaq (yes, we both have ancient decrepit Compaqs--mine's more ancient but less decrepit, haha), and we got to work. Well, we sort of worked. We also did a lot of chatting and goofing off. Sarah and Bridget were over for Halloween/Samhain goodness, moral support, and, well, just to be NaNoWriMo groupies.

Dude. Boulder is so hoppin', we have NaNoWriMo groupies.

(And no, that short story did not get written in time to submit. But, oh well. It'll still get written. I'm sure I'll find somewhere else that will publish an Adam & Eve spec fic story.)

As for that other novel, I had a dream last night. I had this weird dream wherein I was in the New Orleans area, at my parents' house, and going swimming at the neighbor's house every morning while the neighbor rode a bicycle around the bottom of the swimming pool... none of which is actually the point, because the point is that in the dream I got a call from Wizards of the Coast, which happened to be headquartered right there in Metairie. And they said, "We totally want to publish your book. How soon can you bring the full manuscript by?" And I said, "Dude! Right now!" And I brought it. And it was on this sort of old tape backup drive, and they were having trouble getting the file off the drive, and so I finally said, "Well, y'know, that isn't actually the real manuscript anyway... I'll bring you the real one in a day or two." I didn't want to admit that I hadn't actually finished the publishable draft. But the editor totally caught on and gave me this sort of pity hug like she was about to break the news to me that she wasn't going to buy my book anyway...

So. Yeah. I'll be doing both novels this November. And did I mention that I still haven't finished and submitted that other other novel? *Sigh*

Not that having too much writing to do is the worst of fates, or anything...

You know you wanna.
Cleaning House
Wed 2005-09-14 07:47:01 (single post)
  • 49,315 wds. long
  • 83.25 hrs. revised
  • 51,821 wds. long
  • 53.00 hrs. revised

At right: Uno argues his usefulness in helping John re-assemble our bachelor-pad-style entertainment center, which we'd disassembled in order to paint the last living room wall. Meanwhile, I discover twenty-year-old addictions hiding underneath all that dust.

Sometimes, to break out of a rut or rediscover your passions, you just have to rearrange the furniture. We've been spending a lot of time on the couch since moving its L shape to face west and south. It's just so comfortable now. With the entertainment center against the west wall, we can watch TV or manipulate the CD-player aspect of the PS2 by remote from the kitchen table, and wires no longer lie in walkways. The desktop computer has its own little nitch, the up-lamp is out of the way, the modem and router are easier to get to--the living room is just more livable.

At least, for now. Give us a few months, and we'll be sick of it again, ready to rearrange the furniture once more.

We're in heavy-duty clean-up mode not just because of wanting to get at and paint walls, not just because of wanting to rearrange our living space, but also because of an impending visit. Someone John met at GenCon, a lovely gal by the name of Cate, will be staying with us during the third week of September. If she's able to find the futon in the second bedroom and even sleep on it without risking a broken limb getting to it, that would be considered a bonus.

Of course we want to show Cate the sights of Boulder. Afternoon tea at the Dushanbe Teahouse, for instance, is obligatory. And since the best sights of any mountain town are seen from above, we've got a flight in a Cessna 172 planned for Thursday morning the 22nd. Which means I need to get back up to speed in a hurry. My log book shows exactly two flights in the past year. Two hours with an instructor back in February, and an overnight cross country to Rock Springs, Wyoming, in September of last year.

As of now we can add to that an hour with an instructor today. Whee! I can still fly! Good morning, November 64548. Pleased to meet you. How's your engine feeling today? Full throttle for cruise, huh? Tch. Oooh, nice taxi steering...

I'll be doing some solo practice on Monday, since we only had time for two of my three takeoffs/landings needed for me to legally take passengers. And then we've got three hours on the 22nd to play, or go to Greeley for lunch, or whatever. And then in October, I've signed up for the mountain course one of the instructors offers. Some ground school, some basics, and then a cross-country from Boulder to Leadville and Glenwood Springs and other scenic points. October is going to be expensive. But it's going to be gorgeous.

So. Flying, cleaning house, moving furniture... Writing! Yes. Well, no rejection letter from WOTC yet, so Drowning Boy is still a priority. Still haven't convinced the brothers Windlow to let me listen in on their reunion conversation. I'm starting to get peeved at them. And October is coming up super-quick, but my read-through of Becoming Sara is still stuck in the middle of Chapter 2, which isn't even to mention that the rewrite stopped at around Chapter 5 and hasn't progressed. Retooled part of some key dialogue last night, though.

I'm. So. Damn. Slow. But hey! I can fly!

Working on the Wrong Novel. Helping out the Right People.
Mon 2005-09-12 07:25:20 (single post)
  • 51,876 wds. long
  • 52.50 hrs. revised

This is the bit where I bore you with a page out of my dream journal. After that, you get some links, so if you want to skip the boredom, just page down a bit or click here.

So before I woke up this morning, I was in this huge, I mean gi-normous university library. Bigger than a convention hotel. I mean whoppin' large. And I was there after hours; I had some friend who was smuggling me in. Our reasons were both personal and political. Political, in the sense that I was working for some underground movement, the details of which escape my waking mind. Personal, because I had my novel to work on, and I needed to work on it all night every night until it was done.

See, in the dream, I'd gotten the call from Wizards of the Coast telling me to go ahead and send them the full manuscript of Drowning Boy. I'd said, "Oh boy! Will do!" and then I'd hung up and said, "Crap! OK, I'll do two and a half chapters a day, that'll finish in enough time to mail them the beast before ten days is out..."

But of course there were these people patrolling the library to make sure no one like me was stowing away. The fluorescent overheads would light up, boom boom boom, one after the other down the hall, and official-looking people would march through, and I'd have to do my best "Huh? Closing time? I slept through closing time?" face. Then I'd let them march me out of the library, and I'd be thinking OK, I can still do this if I do five chapters tomorrow...

A useful dream to get me back on schedule. Too bad the novel I've been working on most recently is Becoming Sara.

Pace to be picked up forthwith.

Meanwhile, here're your links. Hurricane Katrina links. Stuff y'all can do, that you might not have thought of doing, what with other stuff like The Red Cross and The Salvation Army coming to mind so readily.

  • Habitat For Humanity: A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry seeking to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world. They build homes, literally as well as monetarily. Donate money, or sign up to lend a hand in the disaster-affected areas.
  • Officers of Avalon, a nonprofit organization representing, networking, and benefiting Pagans in law enforcement and other emergency response fields, has created The Avalon Cares fund. In its current incarnation, the fund raises money for The Red Cross's post-hurricane efforts, and sends volunteers to feed supplies into the affected areas.
  • Veterans for Peace have set up camp in Covington, LA. That's in Saint Tammany Parish, right on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, where the Causeway Bridge touches down (and, incidentally, where a majority of my aunts and uncles on my Mom's side live). The Vets have brought a whole bunch of supplies for the relief effort, but they need more. Click the link to see what they need and where to send it or, if you're in the area, drop it off. They could do with volunteers, too. Seems they're picking up a lot of FEMA's slack in the area. Gods know someone's got to.
You don't have to be Christian to appreciate Habitat For Humanity, or Pagan to recognize the good work done by the Officers of Avalon. And you don't have to support the political message of Veterans for Peace in order to support their disaster relief efforts. People need help down there, and these organizations are answering the call. That's all anyone should need to know.

And finally, there's Stories of Strength, an upcoming anthology edited and produced by Jenna Glatzer of AbsoluteWrite.com. The anthology will be published and sold via LuLu.com and all proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross. If you're a writer and you've little cash to donate outright, perhaps you can donate a thousand words of your professional skills. Submission deadline is September 16. That's this Friday, so get a move on!

Coming Up Next: Progress on the right novel! Pics! And addictive substances from the mid-'80s! Stay tuned.

To reread is to revise.
Thu 2005-09-08 02:09:15 (single post)
  • 51,831 wds. long
  • 51.50 hrs. revised

And is, at times, to repent. But not today. My goodness, that first chapter needed some revision. I meant to just read quick through the chapters I'd revised back in March, but every infelicity of phrase just jumped right out of the computer and pinched my nose. Nose-pinching hurts!

Apparently I like really long sentences with commas in the middle, an independent clause on one side of the comma and an adverbial dependent clause on the other. Like that. And I seem fond of phrases like "pristine journal" and "shrinking against the wall." Smack me with a thesaurus and julienne-slice my paragraphs, Mr. Book Doctor! I mean, really.

It's another late-late-late night at the IHOP. Considering my plans for early tomorrow morningabout four hours later this morning, it's probably time I wrapped this up and headed home. Bleargh.

Late Night Lobby Blogging
Mon 2005-09-05 23:34:24 (single post)
  • 51,593 wds. long
  • 50.00 hrs. revised
  • 49,277 wds. long
  • 82.25 hrs. revised

Hey, check this out. The Sheraton Mountain Vista has wi-fi in the lobby. Why the hell'd it take me so long to figure that out? Not that I minded going to Loaded Joe's for my internet fix, but when all I want to do is check email, Google a bit of info, or upload a blog entry, it's nice to have that two minutes from my door rather than ten.

Of course, internet in our room would be even better, but Starwood has not sprung for wireless repeaters. If I go out on the balcony I can sometimes get onto some unsecured private network in the area--its SSID is neither an out-of-the-box default, nor is it obviously related to a neighboring resort--but the flies out there are something awful. And computer monitors? Are ten-star fly attractors.

We'll be driving back to Boulder in a few hours. John wants to be at work for 8:00 AM, and he wants to stop at home and shave first. It's going to be a night of very little sleep and a morning of much earliness.

Chapter 10 is almost done. Brian has been reunited with Mike for the second time, and this time he knows he's not dreaming. I left off with them coming up to the surface to babble happy greetings to each other. No real information has yet been exchanged. The continuation of this conversation will need some careful engineering: Mike will tell Brian how he came to be where he is, a tale that will include admission of unsavory deeds which the elder brother utterly fails to regret; Brian will be shocked, horrified, and as disbelieving as I can paint him without making him look like I rolled him a 5 in Intelligence. That's because his ability to continue relating to his brother after this conversation will depend on how much he can convince himself that he had misheard, or misinterpreted, Mike's tale, and his journey from "he didn't really kill anyone, did he?" to "that bastard has to die" is supposed to take most of the first three quarters of the book. Once again, I've got a lot of delicate psychological tweaking to do here. It's a problem I'd like to sleep on, so I'm stopping here for the night.

And you know what? It's September. You know how far away October 1 is? Not very. You know what that means? Time to haul out Sara Peltier and get that manuscript ready for Delacorte. When we last left off, Sasha was walking into town to return Anubia's video rental and, unbeknownst to her, to run into her crush and find out whether he notices her magical self-image makeover. At this moment, I forget exactly what I'd intended to do with that. I expect tomorrow will involve a lot of rereading.

See you in Boulder.

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