stephaniecain
19 June 2012 @ 05:09 pm
When I'm struggling through the nitty-gritty grind of squeezing out word after word, trying to get things just right on the page, it's really easy to forget there's a world out there, let alone other people who understand what I'm going through.

Then I see a post from someone like [profile] kosmickway, talking about some aspect or other of writing, and I'm reminded that Hey! I know other people who do this nitty-gritty grind of squeezing out word after word! And sometimes just talking to them helps you figure out what's blocking you, or why you're struggling, or what your character really wants, or how to portray what your character really wants.

So this is just a shout out to the many, many people who have been helpful to me over the years. Not necessarily people who get paid to put words on the page, but people who do it for the joy of it. People who like to read words on the page. People who ask smart questions. People like [profile] kosmickway, [personal profile] slightlyjillian, [profile] krycek_chick, [personal profile] severity_softly, [profile] resolucidity, Zardok the Amazing Beta Reader, and so many, many others.

Thank you, guys!
 
 
Current Mood: excited
Current Music: Ramin Djawadi - Jon's Honor
 
 
stephaniecain
16 June 2012 @ 01:04 am
Though apparently they are calling them partial-tissue-thickness these days, or something like that.

Anyway. The lovely Resolucidity has been offering her expert opinion via photo messages and text, but there is only so much nursing that can be done long distance. *G* Since I haven't had a burn like this in my life, I finally decided today to go to urgent care, just for my own peace of mind, if nothing else. I ended up seeing the guy who is my dad's now doctor, so that was a plus. In many ways, because DAMN that guy is cute. Also probably 12, but cute. (Disclaimer: 12 is an exaggeration based on how young he looked in comparison to how old I feel; I am not attracted to 12-year-olds.)

Anyway. The doc said that I have been taking good care of it, doing everything right, except for the fact that I only realized two nights ago that the Neosporin I was putting on has been expired for two years. *headdesk* He also said it didn't matter that I had waited a week to come in, because the first few days would have been a "wait and see" scenario anyway. He was at first concerned that the middle part of the burn might be third-degree or full-tissue-thickness, but was relieved when I said that it is tender to the touch. No nerve damage, in his opinion. So good news all around, basically.

He gave me a prescription for an ointment that works to enzymatically debride the necrotic tissue from the eschar, which is basically fancy doctor words for a dead-flesh-eating-ointment. So I guess I have a thin layer of zombie medicine on my leg right now. He said to mix that with some (NON-expired) Bacitracin and keep the wound covered at night and when I am out and about, and that my healing will be measured in weeks, rather than in days. But in general, that's pretty good news. And $96 wasn't too much to pay for peace of mind and knowing I won't need skin grafts or anything. Of course, the Santyl (sp?) ointment was another $103 (OMG) but again, worth it just to be able to say I have dead-flesh-eating-ointment on my leg. :P

So anyway, just so you all know, my leg is not going to fall off, and I am out doing yard work again, but staying well away from mufflers and other hot objects.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
13 June 2012 @ 10:45 pm
I finally finished chapter four and sent it off to the beta-readers. That gave me a brief sense of relief, but of course, chapter five is already underway.

Apparently having to wait at the tire repair place is good for me, or at least good for my characters, because I got the better part of a scene written there. Today was "Wild Wednesday", so Mom and I were hiking at Shades State Park and Pine Hills Nature Preserve. But I'm determined to get another scene written tonight before I sleep.

Last week I gave myself some gruesome first-hand experience to write from. I backed into the lawnmower muffler while doing yard work. I don't recommend this method to people, but now I know what a second-degree burn feels like and how it heals (or at least starts to heal, and then possibily gets infected...) I now understand why my main character, who was subjected to hot irons in the torture chamber, hates me so very, very much.

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a friend, and then, if the burn isn't healing well enough, I'll be making a stop at urgent care, I'm afraid. Cross your fingers that the antibiotic ointment keeps doing its work!
 
 
Current Music: Eagles - Hotel California
Current Mood: cranky
 
 
stephaniecain
11 June 2012 @ 12:22 am
So Friday was the day Mom and I planned to do some work on our trail. She's been out of school for about a week now, and we've been working our way through gardening and yard projects over the past week, with Wednesday off for hiking. And Friday was my day. We have about 3.5 acres very far out in the country, and on one corner of our property, we let progression take its course. We stopped mowing for about 5 or 10 years, and in that time, a lot of little trees grew up. Unfortunately poison ivy did too, but we're working on that. Anyway, several years ago, we cut a trail through that little woodlot, from near the mailbox curving around to the very front part of the front yard.

Side story - last week, there was a deer in the front yard, and I grabbed the camera to snap a couple of pictures. We see deer all the time, but we never get tired of them--though we do get a bit exasperated when they eat the garden or important trees! Anyway, the deer saw me coming and ducked down into the trail. Mom and I decided to hurry up and see if the deer was still on the trail, because we thought it would be a neat picture. She went around the outside of the woodlot and I went along the trail. The deer was nowhere to be found! Not on the longer trail or the little connecting trail, not running across the field, not anywhere I could see hiding in the underbrush... Then apparently, Mom went around the opposite direction from how I was going, and suddenly she couldn't find me either. She thought I'd vanished!

Me, I'm just cranky that apparently our trail has a door into Narnia, and I go on that trail all the time, but I've never made it to Narnia. *grumps*

Anyway, Friday I was apparently feeling extra klutzy. Earlier this week, while mowing, I drove an autumn olive brancy into my knee and scratched it all up, then later was attacked by a tulip tree that didn't think I had enough scratches on that knee. Then while we were working on the trail, we hitched a wagon to the mower (not a little red wagon, but a proper hitchy-type wagon). While trimming tree branches and such, I took a step back, hit my calf hard on the hitch, and fell over backwards, scraping my elbow on the way down. I was terrified I was falling into poison ivy, but fortunately the spot where I landed was clear.

As I was getting up, Mom said, "Be careful of the muffler! Don't burn yourself!"

Clever as I am, I replied, "In all the years I've been mowing this yard, I've never once burned myself on that muffler."

Famous. Last. Words.

Two wagon-loads later, we were almost finished with the trail and ready to move out into the open areas to do the sides of the woodlot. That adds just a little more tragedy to the story, because it was only the close quarters along the trail that caused my downfall. I was trying to get between the equipment and a rather large hickory tree. Squeezed between them, paused to look at something, and a couple seconds later let out an ear-splitting shriek as I realized that my leg was melting off.

Yes, I had pressed my calf (the same one I bruised earlier) against the muffler. I looked down and had a five-and-a-half inch streak of bright red running up my calf. We didn't have water, of course--we were drinking Gatoride-like stuff, and I thought the sodium and such would hurt if I poured it on the skin. So I sprinted to the house and stuck my leg in the sink. Which, let me tell you, is an incredibly awkward pose, even though the vanity is pretty big.

I've been fortunate, though, that taking 800mg of ibuprofen whenever it starts hurting (which is sometimes 6 hours and sometimes longer) has kept the pain to a minimum, except when changing the dressing. Showering was especially not fun. Anyway, tonight I'm venturing to sleep without a bandage on it. It's healing pretty well, but I'm worried about the cats, especially Eowyn, because she has a habit of curling up against my legs, especially my calves. I may end up shutting the cats out of the bedroom when I go to sleep. :(

For the curious, I have a picture of the trail and two pictures of the burn behind the cut.

Large photos - Pretty scenery and then some graphic wounds. Yippee. )

In the meantime, I totally feel guilty for subjecting my protagonist to hot irons when he's being tortured by the bad guys. Then again, he has a blood-drinking sword that will heal him. I am not so fortunate.
 
 
Current Mood: sore
Current Music: Harry Gregson-Williams - The Battle
 
 
stephaniecain
13 May 2012 @ 11:16 pm
Had a pretty nice Mother's Day, and Mom says she did too. She woke up with a migraine, and Dad and I both woke up with a headache. Weird. But anyway, skipped church, slept in, and had a casual lunch. Then Mom and I headed to town. We stopped by the library, where I picked up a couple of books about Linux, and then headed to our nearest state park, Prophetstown.

We've always been a bit disappointed by the park, mostly because there's not much in the way of hiking. It's a prairie habitat park, with some river flood plain. Not a lot of trees, and very flat. But they did a very nice job making it a family-friendly park, with miles of paved bike trails and several nice playgrounds and picnic shelters. It's just not a great place for gung-ho hikers the way we are.

Today, though, we were pleasantly surprised by some changes to the park. They've expanded a trail into some woodlands, so we were able to see some new parts of the park. The new trail goes down along a small stream and boggy area. At the furthest developed part of the park, there's a nice viewing platform over the slough. Between that and our hiking in the prairie area, we were able to add some lifelist birds today.

We did a day-trip up to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Friday (and one last Friday as well--they're taking off scheduled snow days at her work) and this past Friday I saw a Common Yellowthroat, but Mom didn't. Today, she got a very good look at one, so she was able to add that.

We also saw a Great Crested Flycatcher, which I have been wanting to see for a while now. Gorgeous yellow belly and cinnamon-colored wings and tail, with a gray crest. He gave us a very good look and did some hawking for bugs while we watched him. We also saw a couple Brown Thrashers and a Gray Catbird, both of which we have at home, but love to see anyway. There were Eastern Bluebirds flying around. We've had a couple of those at home too, but we never seem to get them to stick around. This weekend we put up a second bluebird box (the wren moved into the first one we have) and are hoping the pair will nest here this year.

Other birds we saw were American Redstart (both male and female), and a pair of Dickcissels. They are striking birds. At first we thought they were a type of sparrow with yellow on the head, but then they turned and we saw they were bright yellow underneath with a black bib. Gorgeous little things, and I got some very good shots with the long lens, I think. We also saw an Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Buntings, Mallards, a Great Blue Heron, and a bird we're tentatively calling a sandpiper. We're wavering between Solitary Sandpiper and Spotted Sandpiper, but until I get the pictures downloaded to the computer and we can compare them, we won't know for sure.

Then our last bird, after we left the park and were driving back towards town, was a gorgeous adult Bald Eagle that flew right over our car. That was exciting! We know they're growing in number and even had one in our own back yard once this winter, but it's never any less exciting to see one. It's good to have such proof they're coming back so strong from the DDT crisis back in the 70s and 80s.

Over the past two weeks, I've added probably a dozen birds to my life list, including five migratory warblers. I honestly think our trip to Trinidad & Tobago taught us to be better birders. We're more willing to take the time to really get an identification. I'm doing a better job at learning to bird by ear (though for whatever reason the Northern Cardinal fools me a LOT). My Audubon iPhone app has really helped, too. I still use my books to flip through for a tentative identification, but what really nails it for me is being able to listen to the bird calls on the app and compare them to what we're hearing. Seeing witchety-witchety-witchety in the bird book is one thing. Knowing for sure you're hearing it is another (the Common Yellowthroat, for instance, says witchety, but I think the American Redstart's teacher-teacher-teacher also sort of sounds like it.)

Anyway, we finished up with ice cream from Coldstone Creamery, and then came home to watch the Baskerville episode of Sherlock on PBS. A pretty good day, for sure!
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
10 May 2012 @ 09:31 pm
I've had an Acer AspireOne D260 netbook for two and a half years, and it came with Windows 7 Starter Edition preinstalled. The netbook has 1GB of memory and a 1.66 GHz processor, but it was never quite enough enough to handle the load of web surfing and Microsoft Word. I took the netbook on our trip to Trinidad and Tobago, and it was adequate for downloading pictures and uploading them to Tumblr, but not truly satisfactory.

Recently, I've had a horrible time making myself sit down at my desktop computer to work on revising the novel. I have an iPad that's okay for actual writing, but horrible for editing and revision. I haven't found a writing app that doesn't mess up the formatting in Word. Not even QuickOffice, which ought to be perfect. But it turns tabs into spaces instead. So annoying.

Anyway, I finally bit the bullet and installed Xubuntu Linux on my netbook. It's like having a brand new computer all over again! I can't quite figure out how to make it as pretty as I would like (I know, I know) but considering the fact that my real complaint with the netbook was that it has always run painfully slow, even while only word processing...

I've decided I love Xubuntu. :)
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
01 May 2012 @ 05:39 pm
A couple of people expressed interest in seeing the kitty play tower, so here are some pictures. :)

Some details I shall mention beforehand:
- I was building this out of lumber scraps I already had in the garage. Leftovers from other projects, etc. So it's a little irregular in size and material. *G*
- Dimensions are roughly 35" wide by 27" deep by 4' tall, basically because I had an old table-top that could serve as the base and was 35"x27". I had two 2x4s I could use as the corner posts, and they were 8' long, so I cut them in half for a 4' height.
- I had originally planned to use 4x4s for the corners, but 2x4s work fine.

Clickable thumbnails behind the cut )
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
This past week I have spent almost every waking moment struggling to breathe through both nostrils and not sneeze more than once per minute. I noticed yesterday that the honey locusts are blooming. Bloody trees are gorgeous, but they are responsible for my current misery. I take Zyrtec and Nasonex on a regular basis anyway, and this week I've been alternating between Benadryl, Mucinex, and Excedrin PM (it has Diphenhydramine HCl in it same as Benadryl). The few times I could actually breathe, I had that awful hot, dry, tight feeling in my sinuses that makes my head ache.

Okay, enough whining.

I've been picking radishes by the double handful this week. I've decided the Sparklers are a keeper. The Crimson Giants aren't quite as nice, but they are giant. I ought to go see if the farmer's market is running yet this year. I could probably make some cash.

Last weekend our Cub Cadet broke. Again. Same stupid plastic fan that broke last year. Wait, let me clarify--same stupid EIGHTY DOLLAR plastic fan that broke last year. We bought a Cub because they're supposed to be quality mowers! Plus our Snapper and Craftsman mowers haven't been all that great, and the John Deere they used at the church was AWFUL. So earlier this week, since I was allergically miserable anyway, I got out the 20-year-old Briggs-Stratton push mower. I have to prop it against the concrete step to get it started, since whoever invented push mowers was obviously a man with biceps the size of AHHHNAAAALD. But I got about half the front yard done. We have over 3 acres. The first two years we lived here, we didn't have anything but that push mower. I was also 20 years younger. LOL My arms and hands have hurt all week.

Today Mom and I decided to finally build the kitty play tower that Dad has been promising to build for eight months. :P We did a bang-up job...once he finally deigned to help us. Before that, I swear, it was like Laurel & Hardy with power tools. What's sad is I have pretty decent building skills, but my measuring and engineering skills leave a lot to be desired. Also, I frequently forget that old maxim: "Measure twice, cut once."

>.<

All the same, the kitties seem to like it. I put curtains on the bottom floor because Eowyn likes to hang out in the dresses in my closet. I put holes in one of the walls because they like to reach through and around things while playing. I put in a little hidey-hole under a ramp to the third floor. The fourth floor is a big viewing platform for the window. I still need to get rope to glue to the posts and the ramp, and a piece of carpeting or fleece to tack on the top level so it will be comfy for lounging. They seem to like it, though.

I'm starting to question whether Eowyn or Strider is the dominant kitty. I used to think it was Strider, and I thought Eowyn was getting fat because she binged. But lately I've noticed she actually initiates most of the fights, and ALL of the licking-battles that turn into biting sometimes and cuddling other times. She is a truly prodigious size now. I need to get her to see Doctor Jon so I can get his input on this weight thing.

It might have to do with the spiders. She has killed and eaten two spiders this week, and tonight she killed a GIGANTIC spider. I didn't let her eat that one, because I was afraid it would crunch. But I had to get Mom to take it away from her, because every time I tried to pick her up, she grabbed it in her mouth first. Eek!

I'm typing all this without my right thumb, which is actually really annoying. Didn't realize how often I use it, but I obviously hit the space bar with my thumb most of the time. I was holding Strider and about to do a traumatic ear cleaning, and then Eowyn jumped into a box she plays in, saw something scary (a few of her toys) and jumped out immediately and violently. Scared Strider, who struggled to get away and ripped a two-inch gash in my thumb that instantly started bleeding and wouldn't stop.

Anyway. That's what I'm up to these days. That and slooooooooowly working on my novel, and failing to find a new job because I'm not applying myself hard enough. Or know what I want to do. Or anything.

So how are all of you?
 
 
Current Mood: sneezy as hell
 
 
stephaniecain
12 April 2012 @ 10:30 pm
So I've just signed up to participate in the 100 Things blogging challenge, but I'm doing it a little bit slant. I'm using it to help launch my new topical blog, Single White Christian.

I've been, quite frankly, bitching and moaning for years about how the church underserves singles and makes us feel like second-class citizens. While I don't, at this time, feel qualified to start a singles ministry at the church I attend, I wish that one existed. I also have spent a lot of time griping about how the church doesn't seem to love people who aren't like them. I have friends who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pagan, Jewish, atheist, and agnostic. I love these friends. I'm pretty sure Jesus loves these friends. And I hate that at many churches in America, they wouldn't be welcome. (I'm happy to say that at my church, they would.)

So I'm blogging, and I invite and welcome questions and proposals for guest posts. Let me know if you're interested. And I would LOVE to get some comments over at the blog itself, so please click the link and do some reading! :D
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
06 April 2012 @ 02:34 am
Okay, time to guilt myself into writing more. I meant to write a bunch last night. Instead I got sucked into the first three chapters of Love Is an Orientation by Andrew Marin. Good writing, and an amazing and excellent mission. I'm having to fight to keep myself from picking it back up to read some more tonight.

But no! No reading! Tonight I need to make a second attempt at the scene that is currently giving me trouble. It never fails to astonish me how easily some scenes pour out of the pen, while others are just a long, painful struggle for each word.

So tonight I have to get inside the head of my main villain and figure out what he wants to say to his major adversary. Who is currently within his power, and basically buying time with whatever (bruises, blood, nasty invective, etc.) he can afford to spend. It's not hard to understand what the poor good guy is feeling and thinking. The bad guy, though...

What motivates him in this scene? Besides the pure enjoyment of inflicting pain on someone he's hated for a decade? I'm just not sure yet.

So time to turn off the computer (and, more importantly, the internet), and put pen to paper and learn.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
01 April 2012 @ 04:04 pm
Chapter Three has refused to be written at the computer.

I do a heck of a lot of composition while sitting at the keyboard. I used to write longhand a lot more than I do now, but apparently Chapter Three needed to be written longhand. I cleaned out my fountain pens, discovered I'd lost my favorite one, spent three days looking for it while writing with other pens, finally found it, and wrote my way out of the first Moleskine notebook I had dedicated to this project.

Yesterday I made a VERY exciting discovery in a small town not to far from my house. Avalon Jewelry and Pens is an amazing shop with incredibly friendly and helpful owners. They're also the people who make Private Reserve Ink. So I made a visit yesterday and came home with a Chinese-made Hero 616 (something I've seen called a "workhorse" of a fountain pen) and a bottle of Black Cherry Private Reserve Ink.

Today I'm frantically typing Chapter Three in an attempt to get it to my betas before leaving on a three-day trip to Chattanooga for a quick Civil War history fix.

I'm incredibly pleased with how the pivotal scene in Chapter Three has turned out. And while it's fun to sit and type so quickly you transpose letters, there's a much more visceral thrill in trying to write fast enough to keep up with your characters when they seize the action and run with it.
 
 
Current Music: Barbossa Is Hungry - Pirates of the Caribbean - Klaus Badelt
Current Mood: cheerful
 
 
stephaniecain
19 March 2012 @ 08:18 pm
I'm almost 20,000 words into my epic fantasy novel revision, and I'm finally beating my head against a subject I have long dreaded.

Calendars.

Seems like an innocent enough idea, until you think about how in epic fantasy novels, the world is usually not our own. Okay, Middle-Earth was our world, in a sense. But in the quest for an authentic-sounding world, will it really be shaped like Earth? Will it have the same diameter and orbit and axis tilt as Earth? Will it have the same length of year and day? Even if the inhabitants of the world don't know anything about planets revolving and orbiting suns and what actually causes the seasons, an author has to know that stuff, in order for it to have any internal coherence.

So from the beginning of my fantasy world's existence in my mind, I've always held to an Earth-like calendar, with 12 months in a 365-day year. The month names are the same. It drives me crazy to have to learn an entirely new system in order to read a fantasy novel, and trying to figure out that Istvaharla is actually basically our January, and Furryday is the same as our Friday.

But isn't it just as frustrating to be immersed in this world where the names don't sound like ours, and there are magical creatures we don't have, but still call the months names that go back to Latin-based languages and days that go back to pagan gods?

So I started playing with the notion of a 400-day year, with 96-day seasons and 4-day holidays between each season. The 96-day seasons would divide neatly into 3 months of 32 days each that way, which means easy math and calendaring for me, but a slightly different feel for the reader. Then I renamed the months, using a standard -ien/-en ending to the name, to indicate months. But that would mean I needed to rename the days, as well. It might not matter, since I can't recall a single time I mention the name of the day, but that probably just means I have a dozen mentions in the novel that I don't remember.

By this time, I've only written 647 words today, and I'm tearing my hair out, especially since the only reason I need to do this right now is because I want to know how much time has passed since the start of the novel. I don't want to have people in chapter 2 scene 4 reacting to something that isn't actually going to happen for four more days.

So right now I'm giving up on the calendaring system and numbering things by what day of the book they happen on. Scene 1 happens on DAY 1. Scene 2 happens on DAY 6. Etc.

But I'm curious. When you read a fantasy novel, how much attention do you pay to the calendar? Do you have strong feelings either way about the date system an author uses? Why?
 
 
Current Music: Patrick Doyle - 'Once more unto the breach'
Current Mood: frustrated
 
 
stephaniecain
16 March 2012 @ 07:46 pm
1. I got a new desk chair today. Huzzah! It seems impossible to find cheap rolling task chairs with no arms. The ones I could find were either available only online (I want to sit in it first, TYVM) or $70, and no way am I going to pay that much for a chair at this point in my financials. But the Gaiam ball chair just wasn't doing it for me. I think if I could make myself sit in it properly, it would be okay, but I tend to straddle it more than actually sitting, and it was putting my sciatica-ridden hip even further out of whack. But I stopped at the local Staples on a whim today and found a task chair on clearance for $27! Woohoo!

2. If anyone is interested in buying said Gaiam ball chair, I'm taking offers. *G* I can keep using it as an exercise ball, but it's just taking up space, and if someone is hankering to try it, I have one for cheap.

3. Have been working on the novel rewrite. Open submissions at a small press that interests me starts on April 16, so I'm doing what amounts to a double-NaNo from March 13 - April 15 or so. Double, because the novel is going to be at least 100,000 words. If I'm lucky. The last draft clocked in somewhere around 200K, which is just too damn long for a debut novel. Fortunately it also featured much Pointless Walking (TM) and since I don't want people to call this "the next Belgariad!!!" I need to cut some of the walking out anyway.

4. Working on the novel was difficult to make myself do, when sitting at the desk wasn't very comfortable. Hence a great deal of my excitement at finding a cheap and appropriate chair.

5. I also bought Mom lots of seeds for her garden today. Can't believe it's been in the 80s all week. In MARCH. Geez, if this is how the spring starts, I am worried about how hot the summer will be. Last year the summer was insufferable and we broke a record for days over 100 or something like that. I would really prefer to stay in the low 90s if possible.

6. I got a coupon off a case of Dr Pepper 10, so I went ahead and bought it. Now I am torn, because their commercials offend me, but it really does taste good. I bought a case of Diet Dr Pepper to see if it tastes as good as I remember.

7. I read a novel recently published by a casual friend of mine. As in, a real publisher, a real novel, with advances and royalties and everything. And...I hate to say it, but the novel mostly sucked. I reeeeally wanted to like it. Fortunately she's a casual friend, really just on Facebook terms. So maybe if I don't mention having read it, she won't ask what I thought? :/

8. Had Little Caesar's for supper. Mmm. Happiness for $5.

9. Okay, there is no #9. I just wanted to keep listing.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
27 February 2012 @ 01:37 am
I should have realized that renaming one of the major villains in my epic fantasy novel was going to be a lot of work.

I'm one of those people who's always set great store by names. I love to know the meaning of names. I throw in little jokes about the meanings. I play with spelling. In one novel, the characters even talk about the importance of names. (To be fair, it's in the context of why you never give your name to a fairy, so it's important to the plot of the novel. But still.) Back in my creative writing program at university, one of the compliments I consistently got was about my character names.

So I should have known, going in, that renaming this guy was going to be a bitch.

The villain's name was Robert. It's a good name, but it doesn't scream EVIL GREEDY BASTARD at me. Maybe because I have a friend named Robert...oh, and, duh--my grandfather was named Robert. What on earth possessed me to name a bad guy after my grandfather? My dad tells me he wouldn't mind, but it bothered me, and the name didn't feel right anymore.

I spent two days intensely scouring baby name books and the Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon. What sort of name did I want? Robert means "bright", so I'd never really thought about the meaning of my villain's name. So what sort of names would I find if I went looking at meanings?

Oddly enough, there aren't indexes of names that mean "betrayer" or "oppressor" or "ambitious". The indexes all list nice characteristics, like "brave" and "pretty" and "strong". I suppose no one wants to name their kid something that might make them turn out to be the next serial killer. (Though all those people naming their babies Jacob? "Supplanter," y'all. Think about that. If Stephenie Meyer had been paying attention, Jacob would have stolen the girl at the end.)

But paging through on my own, I found a name that means "to oppress", one that means "loves war", and one that means "glory". Not that glory is necessarily a bad thing, but it's definitely something my villain is after. I also found a "friend of wealth", but that wasn't quite as fitting.

So I started looking at things his father might have named him. The villian's family symbol is a falcon, so I looked at names meaning "falcon". Turned out I really like one of those names, but I want to save it for one of the villain's ancestors. The villain's family is supposed to be a gatekeeper of sorts, defending the kingdom from a powerful enemy to the north. So I found names that mean "determined protector" and "nation's defender" and, yes, "brave". I really liked two of those names, and I liked the irony of naming the kingdom's betrayer something like that. The villain's family is also traditionally redheads, so I even found a name I kind of liked that meant "redhaired".

Of course, then I had to start trying out all these names. I went back and forth on three of the names in particular, but none of them quite worked. Ellard made me think of Ellery Queen every time I said it, so that was just out. (Nothing against Ellery Queen, but this isn't a mystery novel.) Ledyard is a cool name, but it sort of feels like one of those bizarro mashup relationship names, like if Logan Eckles and Edward Cullen got together. (And now that I mentioned that, I totally ship Ledyard.)

So what did I finally do? I looked down my list of names, threw out the meaning of them, played around with the spellings, and eventually picked the one closest to what I'd already had.

So Robert Perregal has officially become Rostis Perregal. Rostis, shortened from the Slavic Rostislav, meaning "glory".
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
15 February 2012 @ 09:58 pm
Thank you to [personal profile] heyurs and [personal profile] hhhellcat for the glass hearts! You ladies are wonderful. :)

Have spent the past couple of weeks replotting and rethinking and rereading my epic fantasy novel. Think I have worked out most of how it will play, but not quite ready to start typing. :P

I seem to have taken up jewelry making as an actual hobby. Finished a necklace tonight for Mom's Sunshine Girl at school, and I'm very pleased with it. Not sure if I'll ever be up to Etsy class work, though.

My friend Hannah Jayne's second novel Under Attack is out. Haven't read it yet, but I have a copy and I'm looking forward to it.

Speaking of reading, I just finished Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, and I have to admit, I got really sick of all the emo-kid stuff in it. Maybe listening to the unabridged audiobook made it seem more emo than it really was, but wow. I was screaming, "Just grow up and get over it already!" at Sam and Grace a couple of times. I do, however, love the music she wrote to go along with the books.

*cough* Anyone else out there actually ship Grace/Cole? 'Cause...yeah. *cough*

Speaking of music, does anyone know of a way to save an MP3 from a website to an iPad? She posted all of her music on her website, and I could download on the computer, but then I would have to turn it on, which I haven't been doing much lately. LOL

I seem to be failing in my quest to find Angostura rum anywhere in the state. Either White Oak or Angostura 7 year would be fine, since I'm pretty sure they don't sell the single barrel outside of Trinidad. Damn us being short-sighted and not buying a second bottle of what is undoubtedly the best damn rum in the world. (It tastes like vanilla and molasses and is incredibly smooth and awesome. Seriously.)

I've heard something about Paget Brewster deciding to leave Criminal Minds at the end of the season. I know her contract is up, but really? That's how she shows her gratitude to the fans who got her back on the show? Um, okay, good luck and all, but I'm a bit miffed and don't really care what she does. I don't enjoy comedy shows, so I won't be watching any new project she might have. *sigh*

Oh well, with JJ as a full profiler, we don't really need to replace Prentiss anyway. And in my little fandom world I can pretend she leaves profiling to be a full-time mom and consultant after marrying Morgan or Rossi. *G*

I really, really, really, want to go back to Tobago. I know it's impractical to want to spend the rest of my life sitting on the beach or swimming, but maybe I could learn how to sail a boat, and take tour groups around the island. Even though it would be way better to sit in the bar at Blue Waters Inn and write while sipping rum punch all afternoon.
 
 
Current Music: Kiss With a Fist - Florence + the Machine
Current Mood: artistic
 
 
stephaniecain
08 February 2012 @ 05:47 pm
Writer's Digest is giving away a ticket to the San Francisco Writers Conference. I'm entering to win, because this is the year of the dragon, which means it's my year. :D I confess, I would be utterly unprepared to go, and I would have about a week to get ready, but hey, I'm spontaneous and love to travel, and I've never been to SF.

The contest ends Feb 10 and to enter you just have to comment to this post and spread the word via social media (except Facebook).

Of course, so far 2012 has been a bust, writing-wise. I need to get my behind in gear. I've got my NIndy group's short story week challenge coming up later in the month, but I've been spending a lot of time coasting, since pretty much all of January was taken up preparing for the trip to Trinidad & Tobago or traveling to, in, and from T&T. I've been severely lacking in discipline, and I need to fix that.

So here's hoping I win a ticket to the SFWC. With my tax return this year, I could swing the flight out and back, even if I wanted to use that money to pay a bunch of stuff off. Hey, writing is worth a sacrifice, right? :D
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
07 February 2012 @ 01:15 am
ARGH  
What I am supposed to be doing: working on my epic fantasy novel.

What I am doing: working on the Lovefool achievement in Warcraft, reading TaleSpin fansites, compulsively checking my friends lists, and freezing my ass off.

To be completely fair to myself, I have made a lot of progress in brainstorming changes to the epic fantasy over the past three days. And my writing style does involve a lot of what my mother the cook calls "integrating time". But this is starting to get ridiculous.

...but I really do want that Lovefool achievement. I'm only three holidays away from the Long Strange Trip and master riding.


*headdesk*
 
 
Current Mood: cranky
Current Music: TaleSpin theme song
 
 
stephaniecain
27 January 2012 @ 07:17 pm
Angry Robot publishers has announced an Open Door reading period between April 16-30 this year. It's for unagented debut novelists, and they are only accepting YA or classic fantasy.

My classic fantasy, which is still, arguably, my favorite novel, is languishing in overhaul purgatory. I believe with all my heart in the story, but I feel it's gotten a bit muddled. Can I do an overhaul in a bit less than three months? And if so, do I want to?

They're not accepting urban fantasy, and it's my urban fantasy novel that I was revising last year before NaNoWriMo took over my life, followed quickly by the holidays and my trip with Mom to Trinidad and Tobago. But as much as I love my urban fantasy novel, I love my epic fantasy novel better. I've lived with it in my head much longer. I know these characters.

The open door reading period would give me a hard and fast deadline, which is a very good thing for me. Self-imposed deadlines don't work as well as externally imposed ones. One of the reasons NaNoWriMo has been a winning strategy for my writing life.

Argh. I just don't know what to do!
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
26 January 2012 @ 12:19 am
Well, I'm home, and I'm finally starting to feel recovered from my trip. LOL We had a lot more relaxing time while we were on Tobago, but then we had a 20-hour day of traveling home, flying from Piarco (Port of Spain) to Miami-Dade, seven hour layover at Miami with a last-minute gate change, Miami-Dade to Chicago-O'Hare, then to Indy. We got up around 4:30 to get Piarco in time for check-in and some duty-free shopping (hurrah, two bottles of rum for less than the price of a single bottle in the US). At Miami we had plenty of time to go through a painless passport processing and customs, though it was fun trying to repack one of our checked bags to hold two bottles of rum and one bottle of rum punch. LOL But we did it, and then had plenty of time to kill at Miami. We arrived early in Chicago, so we had about two hours to kill there before our flight to Indy. Thank God Dad was waiting at the gate for us when we got home. I think I would have cried if I'd had to drive home at the end of that day of traveling!

The day after we got home, we were hit with about 3 inches of snow. Bleh. Then over the weekend we had thunderstorms and yesterday it was almost 50. Today we had sleet and snow and then sleet again. No kidding. Seriously, I miss the Caribbean. I've got to find a way to vacation in Tobago more often. In the meantime I've been listening to a lot of soca music and trying to make myself believe it's not bloody cold outside.

By the way, anyone know how to repair a piece of bamboo? I brought home a bamboo pencil holder with a hummingbird and the word Tobago carved on it. Gorgeous little thing, but it spontaneously cracked all the way from top to bottom. I imagine because it's ridiculously humid in Tobago and ridiculously dry in Indiana. :( I just wish it had split down the empty portion, instead of right through the middle of the hummingbird. :(

I haven't heard back from the university. Since they wanted to do second interviews during the two days after I returned from Tobago, and start the new hire this week, I am assuming that means I didn't get picked. I'm not heart-broken over it. Secretary III isn't the best-paying position in the world there, and I've applied for a lot of other clerical positions there. I've also applied repeatedly for Writer-Editor positions, and it's annoying me that I am consistently being passed over for those. How many technical writers can there be in north central Indiana who want to work at the university? And why won't the university give the creative writer a shot? *pouts*

The kitties were pleased to see me return home. Eowyn is, if possible, snugglier than ever. She is also, if possible, fatter than ever. It's not that I object to her being a bit plump, but she is positively obese. That can't be healthy. I'm thinking about scheduling her to see Dr. Jon and get his opinion. She gets quite a bit of exercise when I play with her, and she has never even tasted canned cat food, let alone people food. But I do believe Strider is the dominant cat, and I've seen Eowyn defer to him if he wants to eat at one of the food dishes first. I wonder if that makes her overeat when she does eat. I just hate to have to go to feeding times, since I've always just given my cats free access to the dry food dishes so they can eat when they are hungry. It's the most convenient thing for someone who (when employed) is usually away from the house 8-10 hours at a stretch. I suspect Strider has stayed so lean because he never sits still except when he's asleep. When awake, he's incredibly fidgety, and he's better at entertaining himself than Eowyn is. Anything sparkly and he will chase it, whereas she pretty much restricts herself to strings, which require a human at the other end. She makes an occasional foray into feathered toys, but more often than not, that means chewing on feathered hair clips or dream catchers, which displeases Mommy, for some reason. :P

Mom and I are still posting stuff from our trip over at our Tumblr. She is typing up her journal of the trip. I only wrote a journal for two bloody days, proving once again that I am a crap diarist. *sigh* I also haven't written a thing since we got back. I have a short story idea niggling in the back of my mind, but I haven't put anything down on paper but a couple of concepts.

I can't seem to find any recipes for roti that look like the roti we ate at Asa Wright. It makes me incredibly sad, because I thought it was delicious, especially with the split pea soup over it. I wanted to make some of that for the TNT party we're going to have to show our pictures and whatnot to the family. :/

In other news, since coming home, I've decided I adore the new Sherlock, which shocks me. I've also become addicted to Hart of Dixie, though I can't decide what couple to root for. So many love triangles! And I think I am caught up on Criminal Minds, but my computer's DVR crapped out on me while we were on vacation, so I am not sure. There was "Bittersweet Science", then "True Genius" while I was on vacation, and then tonight's "Unknown Subject", right?

Anyway, I think that's about it for now. Anything exciting happen in your world while I was gone?
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
23 January 2012 @ 03:08 pm
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DRAGON! So this is my year, baby! :D
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Current Music: Material Things - Tele Cruz
Current Mood: hopeful