Monday, November 24, 2008

San Antonio Rose

Just call me San Antonio Rose today... I'm here for the ALAN Conference, a conference on YA literature. It's been fun so far, in that I've gotten to meet face to face some authors that I know online. I got kind of a late start this morning, so I'm missing some of the morning panels. There are some I'd like to see this afternoon. One thing it brings home to me, though, is how behind I am on my reading.

I'm on a panel tomorrow with Sarah Mlynowski, E. Lockhart and Mariah Fredericks: Love and other Four Letter Words. Great title. I hope I can say something insightful and pithy. I have definite ideas about what's romantic, and what makes a good love story in a book, though that's not the central element in the Maggie Quinn novels. Though relationships are important. Maggie is actually a good example of a young adult finding her place in the pattern of relationships that we have as adults: There's our love of our family, romantic love, and the deep friendships we form. There's betrayal, and trust issues, and the changing patterns as different types of relationships take precedence over the others.

I would go kind of fangirl over my company on the panel, but I've decided I need to be more professional. (We will not talk about the fangirl noise that escaped me when I met Rick Riordan last night. I was being very cool and composed, shook his hand, said how glad I was to meet him, and that I was a bit of a fan. Then I hear this girly "hee!" and realize it's me! Oh well. Compared to some inarticulate blathering "conversations" I've had, I was a *paragon* of composure.)

It is funny, though, how many people I don't recognize from their name but from their book title.

Anyway. I'm happy to be back in San Antonio. Someone remarked on it being a rather dated city, but I prefer "old fashioned." As I'm sitting here, I realize there's truth in that. The buildings downtown are all quite old. Even the newer restaurants along the river have the old facades. San Antonio was built up un the 50's and it looks it. There's a comfortable shabbiness about it that's very South Texas. The outlying parts, where Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld are, are glossier. But even the touristy parts of downtown--the Market and the Riverwalk--are decades old. But I like it that way. It hasn't changed much since my parents came here on their honeymoon, and... I don't know. I like that. I don't think things have to be reinvented just because they're old.

But there is free internet downtown! That much has changed. :-)

Almost done with my coffee, so I'd better get a move on my day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Houston is depressing and a Name Game

So, I'm down here in Houston, visiting Alexander Hamilton Middle School. (Shout out to random googlers.) Staying in a Holiday Inn Express, which is a new hotel for me. All I can say is, those loyalty programs did their job on this one. I wouldn't have picked it otherwise. And I might have been a little closer to where I'm going. As it is, I'm by the airport, which would have been nice if I'd decided to fly. (Which I should have done.) But on the other hand, I got on the road much later than I intended, because UPS put my box on the wrong shelf in the truck. (Now, I love my boys in brown, who delivers my stuff in a careful, timely manner, except the one day I'm waiting on something to take out of town with me. *sigh*)

Anyway. I guess airport hotels are basically all alike. Business hotels are all alike, depending on how high or low end you go. This one is clean, neat, the breakfast is pretty good, and I have a surprisingly big fridge and a microwave, which would be awesome if I was going to be here a little while. I was thinking it might be overpriced, but I'm not used to traveling during the week. When I'm on a vacation, I pick small, local hotels, and when I'm on business, it's usually a convention rate. So what do I know?

When I used to come to Houston from Victoria, most of what I did was either on the south side, or in the hospital area. Or we went to Galveston. :-( Guys, the local news shocked me. The Hurricane damage really got preempted by the banking crises, and then the election, but it's still really bad here. I was especially sad to hear about all the layoffs from UTMB. The damage to this university hospital on Galveston already forced them to halt a lot of programs in research and low income services. Now they're laying off well over a thousand people. (Mom used to work for UTMB, in a satelite clinic.)

(The news is depressing all around. Good Morning America is talking about how no one is going to buy stuff for the holidays, or hiring extra workers for the holidays, or in general. Ugh. Such a vicious cycle.)

So for fun, a NAME GAME!

1) WItnesss PRotection Name: (Mother's and father's middle names)

Marrianne Wallace

2) NASCAR Name: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)

Eugene Robert. (Heh. This thing really works!))

3) STAR WARS name: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of you first name.)

Clrose or Morose (Bleh! Both of those are icky.)

4) DETECTIVE name: (favorite color, favorite animal)

Green Otter? (Uh, not so much.)

5) SOAP OPERA name: (middle name, city where you live) [note: Like frost_light, from whom I stole this, I'm changing this to the city where I was born.)

Anne Victoria

6) SUPERHERO name (second favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optional "the" at the beginning):

The Pink White Russian. (heh! The White Russian isn't a bad name for a superhero.)

7) FLY name: (first 2 letters of first name, last 2 letters of your last name)


8) GANGSTA name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)

Mint Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle (Hee! Snickerdoodle!)

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name)

Lizzie Sublet (eh. Can't use my last one, either, because that would be Lizzie State Highway 279)

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)

Vicky Pepperidge

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On Pomegranates and Pomeranians

I had the weirdest craving yesterday-- for pomegranate of all things. (Heh. I misspelled that, and it autocorrected to "Pomeranian" which would have been an entirely different post.) Which is weird, because I don't like pomegranate juice, or any kind of flavoring. But the real thing? Had. To. Have. Some.

Maybe it's because I don't eat them often, because they're kind of messy. Pomegranates are one of those foods where the ratio of work to edible payoff isn't really in it's favor. Sort of like oysters and Cornish hen. I'm sure that in cultures where you have to work for all your food (i.e., can't just run down to the grocery store for the easy open package) then no one would complain. For that matter, I'm not complaining. Because while I was sitting here pulling open the sections of fruit yesterday--Well, not sitting HERE because this is a new laptop, and as I've said, eating a pomegranate is messy business--I was thinking how satisfying the actual act of eating was, picking out the seeds one by one. It serves that hand to mouth motion that makes me eat bad for me things, like chips and dip, and Smarties.

(I love Smarties. I open the packs, and sort them by color, then reward myself while I writing. Write a paragraph, eat a smartie. OR sometimes, when it's not going so well, write a sentence/word/letter, eat a smartie.)

Fresh coconut is another one of those foods I love but rarely eat because it's too much trouble. I won't touch dried, toasted, canned, packaged or otherwise processed coconut, but ohmygod, it's so good when you pry it right out of the shell, a hard won trophy.

But it does make me wonder who first ate these things. Someone really hungry, I'll bet. It makes me think of that Johnathan Swift quote: "It was a brave man who first ate an oyster."

What about you guys? Do you have something you love to eat, but save for special occasions/deep cravings because it's a lot of trouble?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Library Event on Thursday!

Hey guys. I'm talking at Grand Prairie Public Library on Thursday (November 13th) at 4:30 PM. This is a talk for teens who want to know what goes into writing a book and becoming a published author. I'll give concrete tips on developing your ideas for a novel, and what happens next. There's going to be pizza, prizes and fun. It's at the main branch (901 Conover Drive, Grand Prairie, TX).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back in the Saddle

You may (or may not) have noticed I wasn't exactly faithful in updating my blog over the last... Okay, well, October. I would like to say I've been jetting around the world (I haven't) or I've already completed the next book (I haven't). But after finishing the rewrites on The Splendor Falls, I needed a bit of a brain break.

Which is not to say I've been idle. Just the opposite. I've just been busy doing stuff that isn't active writing. I'm teaching a class next weekend and the North Texas RWA retreat, so I've been reading about how to apply the "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind" philosophy to writing. I'll probably post more about this in the future, because I was surprised how much this applied to how I think and work creatively.

The upshot, however, is that I've been doing stuff that's not writing this month, so that I can refresh my subconscious. Some people call this "refilling the well." You guys who are doing NaNoWriMo (and I'm unofficially with you--more on that later) will find that after you've been outputting a lot, you need to set away occasionally and do something that involves INPUT rather than OUTPUT every now and then.

So here's what I've been doing during my computer/internet break:

1) Sewing. Mostly this involved three(!!) Halloween costumes, but I've also made huge strides in a big embroidery I've been working on for about two years. (Picture here.)I might be finished with it, if I hadn't discovered....

2) Mystery Case Files for the NDS. Oh my God. These hidden item games are so addictive, it's like crack. Big Fish Games has a bazillion of them for PC and Mac, but I like playing this on the DS because I can hold it close to my face. I like to have things that occupy my hands while I watch TV, which I've needed more of, because I've ALSO discovered...

3) Supernatural on DVD. I'm now addicted to the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester. I remember why I didn't start watching this from the beginning. The premise-Hardy Boys meet Kolchek the Night Stalker (or Buffy, if you prefer), is very like the Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil premise (Nancy Drew meets Kolchek). And yet they're somehow also really different. Anyway. I'm only halfway into the second season (I have, after all, not spent the entire month on the couch... and also Netflicks only sends 3 DVDs at a time), but I'm hooked.

I've also read a bunch of books and watched a number of movies, which I'll post about separately. No sense in overdoing it the first day back!