Thankful Thursday-A Tough One

The thankful part is for all the wonderful friends I've made on LiveJournal the last few years. The tough part is that I've decided I need to close down my LiveJournal blog.

Wait! I'm not going away. :)

Most of you, but not all (?) may know that I also blog at my wordpress website,
www.beckylevine.com. I started this site/blog last fall, when I knew I was for sure getting to write the critique book and wanted a better, more professional site. At that time, I couldn't stand the idea of letting LJ go, and I thought I should keep the posts at my website more...not sure what. Yes, professional. Maybe instructive/helpful? So I got into this blogging-at-two-places thing.

Ack.

It worked for a bit, but I've been feeling spread thin, in terms of blogs, for a while now. And--here's the rub--because I need to keep a post or two a week up at the other blog, I'm doing less of my fun, more personal blogging here. And that's not making me happy. So...I'm going to combine it all. At the other place. I'm going to close down the LJ blog and move myself and my more casual posts about life, writing ups & downs, and kids' book reviews and contests over to the wordpress blog. (I'll still be trying to get one "meaty" post up once a week-ish.) So, if you like this blog, you don't have to miss me. :) I've got an RSS feed up on the site, and many months ago, the generous
Susan Taylor Brown created a specific-to-LiveJournal feed here, in case you want to add the other blog to your LJ Friends page.

I'm not shutting down the account, because I'll still be reading your posts on my own Friends page, and I'll be commenting! The writers and other bloggers on LiveJournal are such an incredible community; you guys are my drawing-board, my support system, my reality check. You're one of those big parts of life that remind me why I'm doing this work. Again, that's the THANKFUL part. It's also the sad part.

But...I'm hoping, truly, that you'll all come along for the ride. Even though this move isn't going to change anything for me, in terms of actual numerical minutes of time, my hope is that it's going to loosen things up for me over at the other site, and I can get back to loving to blog. 'Cause that's where I want to be. :)

See you all around the blogs, one way or another!

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    grateful grateful

Thankful Thursday

1. I'm thankful the latest heat wave decided to only hang around a couple of days. The house is cool enough to work and think again.

2. I'm thankful my son is having a good time at his cousin's--going to the Exploratorium, riding some concrete slide thingy, and doing the Alcatraz tour this weekend. It means I can have long hours of productivity AND non-productivity without feeling guilty.

3. I'm thankful for people who are happy to help with research. Yesterday, I talked to a museum librarian in Chicago, and was so nice--completely welcoming about my questions and my upcoming visit. I also emailed back & forth with....IDA B. WELLS' GREAT-GRANDSON. OMG.

4. I'm thankful that husband and I are getting fun time together this week. Last night, we saw The Proposal and pretty much laughed the whole way thru. Tonight, we're meeting friends in Santa Cruz at a Sri-Lankan restaurant we've never tried. We may even go for ice cream.

5. I'm thankful that I've got things relatively together for the Chicago trip and that I got thru the copyedits for the critique book. (They're working on the page design now!) This means that I'm actually going to be able to step back into the WIP a bit this week & get reacquainted with the story.

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    mellow mellow

The Miles Between Roadtrip Continues--Contest Winner!

I just finished reading Mary Pearson's The Miles Between, and I loved it. I posted over at my other blog about secrets today and what I've learned from seeing how Mary uses them for tension in both this book and in The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Everybody's been saying this--that The Miles Between is very different from Jenna, and I'd agree. But I really loved it--the quirkiness of the kids and they day they have and what it leads to...wonderful.

So I'm supposed to post photos of the book in my hometown. Well, I don't live in a hometown--we're about five minutes outside of Los Gatos, California, just a bit up into the mountains. I knew, though, when I saw the contest, exactly where I wanted to take the photos.

Here's the ARC.


And here's me, the ARC and both of los gatos.


 
This driveway is just off Highway 17, the road that leads from Los Gatos over the hill to Santa Cruz. It's at the end of a big parking lot, at the other end of which is The Cats restaurant. The restaurant is in a really old building, up against the hillside--and it used to serve great steaks in a very funky atmosphere. Last year or so, the owner decided to retire and sell. We've held our breath, hoping someone would take it over and keep it funky, that it wouldn't be torn down for something new and shiny. And it looks like we're going to get our wish--it's going to reopen, and all reports point to the new owner staying true to as much of the old aura as possible.

I have no idea what the cat statues are about. The funny thing is that I have never seen anyone go in or come out of that gate. I think I always thought of that driveway and whatever was up there as abandoned. Nope. Just as we were packing up the book and camera & getting ready to leave, a shiny, new, bright yellow SUV (land rover, maybe?) drove out. And I'm not going to give away anything about the book, but after reading it, that just seems such an amazingly perfect thing to have happened, on that day.

So, that's where the ARC made it to this week. And today, as promised, I asked son to draw the name of my contest winner, so we can send the book further along on it's roadtrip.

And son drew...Jeannine Atkins! Yay! :)

Jeannine, my turn to need YOUR mailing address. Send me an email & I'll put the book in the mail! And Mary's "rules" for the roadtrip are here at her blog.
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    geeky geeky

Two Pieces of Happy News on a Wednesday

Two hours ago, I sent off the email with the latest set of revised files for the critique book. Okay, there are two tiny files still coming my way, but I don't expect any changes of real size, so I'm calling myself "done." I think the next step is the page design, and since I am completely artistically challenged, I am beyond pleased to think of this job in someone else's creative hands. And I can't wait to see what it all looks like. In each of the the how-to-critique sections, I've got examples of an overall written up critique, and a page of line-editing critiquing. When I typed in the info, it got the point across about what I wanted to do, but it looks pretty much like...garbage. I'm really excited to think about these being transformed into, well...not garbage.

The second thing is that I decided, once again, that this is not the month to do lasik. Maybe, hopefully, not the year. I know, I know--just lay down, open my eyes, and let them cut. And I might still go there. But my wonderful, genius, patient-saint-of-an-eye-doctor has come up with another way to try and make it all work with glasses. And, yes, while you will now get to see that old-fashioned bifocally line across the lenses when you meet me, I will hopefully have a vision tool I can work with.

Plus I got to pick out new frames, which is always fun. These are just a little less John Lennon/Benjamin Franklin and a little more...oh, I don't know. I'll have to get a new profile pic, and you can tell me.

So today ends with me once again revision and eye-slicing free. Which makes me perhaps a wimp, but a happy wimp.

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    cheerful cheerful

Tired Tuesday

If you're interested in being a stop on the road-trip of Mary Pearson's ARC, The Miles Between, don't forget to leave a comment at my contest post. We'll draw the winner Friday.

Got myself to push through a LOT of chapters today, just checking last stuff on the copyedits. My eyes are bonked, but it feels good. A couple of things to finish up in the morning, then...off they go.

Son is having a mini film-fest/sleepover here tomorrow. My plan, curl up with a binder of research from the web and just let myself skim it for goodies. Maybe I'll even do that in front of the movies--they're renting BOTH Men in Black films. :)

And we'll be offering son's friend my father's gourmet invention: A peanut-butter-and-jelly omelet. Hey! Stop that gagging noise. You haven't even tried it yet. Son, who is normally rather...choosy, likes them, and his friend will supposedly eat anything.

We have bagels for back-up.

Off to rest my eyes with someone ELSE'S book! Ta. :)

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    tired tired

Blog Contest: Join The Miles Between Road Trip

Okay, this is not the official picture:



I haven't read the book yet, and I have to get husband and camera and me and the book together in the next couple of days, but I wanted to get the blog contest started!

This is not my typical blog contest in which you get to keep the book. Instead, you get to participate in the road trip for Mary Pearson's ARC of
The Miles Between, on its way from Mary to her editor in NYC. The official rules are posted here, at Mary's blog. The basics, though, are that you take a picture of the book somewhere in your hometown and post that on your blog, then pass the book on to another lucky "traveler."

It's summer, and things are complicated enough, so I'm keeping this contest simple. Just leave a comment, and you're entered. (If you don't have a LiveJournal ID, do leave some kind of name/nickname for me to draw out of the hat!) I'm going to run this contest until Friday only, so drop your name in now! And be sure to stop back in on Friday to see if you win.

Thanks to HipWriterMama for making me a stop on the road trip. And good luck to everybody!
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    cheerful cheerful

Prepping for Research Trip

Yesterday, I had a revelation. It wasn't a big one. Probably, it was one that most of you had and didn't really notice or pay much attention to. Here it is:

OMG, it's July.

Did my first draft get written in June? No. I'm okay with that. I've made progress and will make more and the draft is moving forward. I have some feeling that, with this story, moving a little more slowly may be the right choice (rather than just an inability to get it together, on my part). It may be the best way to understand my characters and the choices they will/won't make. I hope.

But...here's the other thing about July. In one month, I go to Chicago to do research for this WIP. And I need to put some time into that, so I don't want into those museums with a big "Um!" thought-bubble over my head. And I haven't really, ever, done historical research. So the "Um!" is there, and I'm trying to figure out how to make it go away.

Here's the tricky part, probably oh-so familiar to those of you who write history/historical fiction already. I've got BIG things I need to find out about, like: 

  • Every connection that Ida B. Wells had with Hull-House
  • Every connection Hull-House had with the suffrage movement in the 1910s
And I need answers to very specific questions like:
  • Which railroad station did the Chicago suffrage train leave from, to take suffragettes to the march on Washington, D.C.?
  • Were Ida B. Wells and/or Mary Terrell on that train? Were they traveling together?
  • If they weren't on that train, how did they get to D.C.?
And so many other things, both big and small. Not to mention, I'll have some questions about Ida B. Wells & Jane Addams for a NF picture book I'm contemplating.

Ack!

I only have a couple of days max, to visit several museums and do as much info-collection and hands-on research as I can. I feel like I need to, at once, be as pre-organized as possible and stay flexible/open to research paths I won't know about till I get there. Organized AND flexible.

Yeah, that's me. Not.

I'm going to start by just making as long a list of questions as I can think of, then try & break them into categories. I'm going to send an email to each of the museums, saying that I'm coming, WHY I'm coming, and asking for any tips on how I can best work with them to find the info I need. I'm really hoping to meet some people with whom I can communicate, by email or phone, later, as the story progresses. Some people who might want to read for accuracy/general feel of the book when it's close to done.

That's where I've got so far on the planning. Any tips from research wizards would be seriously welcome!
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    nervous nervous

Six on a Saturday

1. It is hot. And it will be hotter tomorrow. The fans are up and on, and the window shades down. And I made ice cubes. Survival likely, if not pleasant.

2. Started working on my copyedits for The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide. Pretty clean, so it's mostly a matter of reminding my brain to make connections between what's marked on a page and what I know might be related somewhere else. Lots of page-flipping, at least the metaphorical kind, since I'm working in Word files.

3. We are deep into Season 4 of Angel. I did a bit of reading ahead online, so I know a bit more about what's coming than do son and husband. No spoilers coming out of this mouth, though!

4. I can't believe next week is the 4th of July. Time during summer seems to go through bizarre warps and wefts (??), slow then...zoom! We may skip fireworks this year and opt for the opening of Ice Age 3. LOVE those movies.

5. Son starts his video-game programming camp on Monday. This means mornings free for me, and another mom and I are carpooling, so I should make some more progress on the WIP. And on the copyedits.

6. Trying to remind myself that writing is a journey, not a single, immediate accomplishment that turns life around with a snap of the fingers. Remembering that every step I take, every hour I am working with words is getting me closer to...something. :)
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    hot hot

In Which I Share Steampunk Goodies from My Librarian

This is my library.



I usually go to the Bookmobile's twice-a-month stop at my son's elementary school, but during the summer I sometimes drop off and pick up books at a different stop, later in the day. I did that yesterday. They know me so well and are so great to me and wonder when I don't show up. Yesterday, I felt as if I should be calling "Honey, I'm home!" as I came up the steps.

One of the bookmobile librarians, in particular, reads a lot of YA and sci-fi and fantasy and we trade titles back and forth. This week, she wasn't there. I think she was actually at Comicon (if I have the dates right), because she was telling me last time about the Star Trek and Steampunk costumes she was making.

Anyway, we got into what the heck steampunk is, and I found out I've actually read and liked some. Who knew?

This week, with my hold books, she'd left me an article about Steampunk Fantasy. It's "Full Steam Ahead" by Stephanie Klose and was published in the March 2009 issue of www.rtbookreviews.com. In the article, Klose quotes Jeff VanderMeer's equation for steampunk:

"Mad scientist inventor + [invention (steam x airship or metal man divided by baroque stylings) x (pseudo) Victorian setting] + progressive or reactionary politics x adventure plot = steampunk."

Who could resist?

She also left me a stack of reviews for steampunk novels to add to my to-read list. And, lucky you, I'm going to share them here.

Enjoy!
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    curious curious

Character Dynamics--The Brilliance of Jim Butcher

I'm reading Jim Butcher's newest Harry Dresden book--Turn Coat. I love The Dresden Files series--the books are funny and fast, and the writing is beautifully tight and trim.

But I'm being reminded once again about a particular aspect of Butcher's brilliance--the way he gets the entire relationship between two characters (or three) into a scene. He knows his characters so well; he knows who they are, who they've been, and how they have connected with each other over all the years of their history. And with a few lines of dialog and action and humor, he layers it all in.

This is not just because the book is number 11 in the series. This aspect of his writing, this storytelling skill has been present in all of the books, since Book 1, Storm Front.

If you want to see how a master craftsman plays with his characters, I can't point you in a better direction.

Back to the book!
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    impressed impressed