Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sweet lives renewed

I'm back after a week in in the Yucatan jungle and man, what a week! We spent our nights in a primitive but beautiful compound and our days working in the sweltering heat and humidity toiling side-by-side with Mayan craftsmen meticulously building a block roof and laying concrete to finish their little Sunday school.

This was my third consecutive year in Tres Reyes -- and by far my favorite. I spent some time last night after we got home about 10:30 p.m. thinking about why I do it. Why I push myself to my physical limits when I could just as easily stay home, safe and content, and throw money at this or any other such charity. I mean, money helps poor people, too. Right?

Well, sure. It does. No question. So just helping isn't the answer.

I could easily pack up the wife and kids and spend a week in some fancy Cancun resort, soaking up the sun and splashing happily in the Caribbean. So going just for the warm clime and plentiful sun isn't the answer.

Maybe I do it for myself. Maybe I'm selfish. Vain. Maybe I do it to somehow convince myself I am some kind of great person, a saint of an American who does things like this from time to time to show the world (and my friends) how freaking cool and selfless I am.

Maybe, but that one doesn't really ring true, either.

I sat for the longest time last night, long after everyone else had gone off to bed, thinking about my true motives. I'm big these days on depth and honesty, so trying to figure out why I do the things I do fascinates me of late. Weird, I know.

I thought back over the week, about how all 12 of us bonded as a team of human beings. How we sometimes argued and fumed and pissed and moaned. About how we ended up loving one another and, more importantly, respecting one another. How I was able to spend long hours at night under the tropical moon and starlit sky with my 19-year-old son, talking about all the things that we somehow never get the opportunity to talk about here at home. Things like our lives, our loves, our fears, our dreams, our hopes. Somehow, these things seem more real, more soulful, sitting at night with the jungle creatures making noises in the bush, smoking a cigar and just talking and laughing.

That was awesome. Maybe that was the reason this year. To bond with my son, even though I am incredibly close to all three of them here at home.

Maybe. Possibly, even.

But then I thought about the hard work, about how the Mayan women brought us traditional Mayan food for lunch, which we ate even though it was a bit, um, gamy and tasted odd to our American palates. I thought about the bonds we forged with the Mayan men with whom we worked hard with all week, even though none of us could understand a word the other said.

Now we're getting closer. Much closer. But that's the not it. Not really.

I remembered watching my son laugh and play with a half-dozen Mayan children, who jumped on his back and screamed his name, the only English word they knew.

Zach, they would shout. Zach! And he would laugh and chase them and they would laugh and chase him back. And we would laugh about it at night, over our cigars. About how damned cute and sweet and innocent these young Mayans are. And how poor. How damned poor they are. I would see a tear trickle down my son's cheek and I would swallow hard and turn away, lest he see a similar tear on my face.

Oh. The children. My God, how sweet they are!

I remembered the flight back to Atlanta last night, a rocky and turbulent one that had more than one person praying for their very lives, and how my son turned to me and asked that he be allowed to come back next year.

For the children.

And as I thought of that late last night, I knew why I go each year. Why I spend a fortune and nearly break my back in the hot sun. I knew in my heart why I go.

For the children.

I am so glad to be back. We were mostly safe, although there were a couple of minor incidents and injuries. And I got busted coming back into the USA with a bunch of Cuban cigars in my backpack that I had forgotten were there. Who would have thought I would end up a smuggler?

But all's well that ends well.

We'll go back next year, Zach and I.

For the children. Theirs and mine.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adios, amigos!

For those of you wondering where the fuzzy headshot on the left of this blog comes from, here it is. Yes, that's me -- the dork on the right in the Cubs hat. It's from last year's trip. The photo, which also includes my friends Gary, left, and Mike, sitting next to me, was taken on the steps of a tiny church in Tres Reyes, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The woman is an unknown Mayan villager.

We're building a school that's across a small courtyard from the church. Directly across from the church is a very deep jungle gorge (probably a hundred feet deep or more and a half-mile across) over which a very rickety zip line is rigged. We ride it every year. It's terrifying. Really.

Tres Reyes is a very remote Mayan village where only Mayan is spoken. Since part of our work crew is Mexican, everything must be communicated in three languages: English, Spanish and Mayan. It's fascinating to learn Mayan words, since it's a language that's been slowly disappearing along with the Mayans themselves for the past five hundred years.

We'll also have a chance to again tour some massive and breathtakingly beautiful Mayan ruins while we're there. Very cool. And this year, I'm taking my 19-year-old son, Zach, with me. He's excited to be going, but I'm even more excited to have the opportunity to take him.

We're leaving home at 3:20 a.m. tomorrow. Yikes. I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and gets some serious writing done. If possible, I'll try to post a short blog from an Internet cafe in Leona Vicario, the Mexican village where our compound is located.

Otherwise, this blog will be back a week from Sunday. If it's anything like our usual trip, there will be plenty of adventures to recount.

Be safe. I will.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A lazy, thoughtful day

I am such a slug. Really. I spent today -- literally all day -- reading. Just relaxing and taking it easy, trying not to look at the empty suitcase on the floor or think about the gazillion things that need to be done before we leave for Mexico at 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

It was wonderful, deliciously wonderful.

Yesterday was very hectic, and I apologize for not blogging. But it was crazy, and when we finally got home last night, it was all I could do to collapse in front of the television and watch the Olympics.

I also spent a lot of time today in some fairly deep thought, about me and my place in the world. About what's important in life and what's not. About helping others, about being selfless, about trying to do some good in a broken world. I won't bore you with my metaphysical musings, but suffice it to say that I found myself reading some heavy books, good solid deep writings.

I always get into this frame of mind before leaving on one of these mission trips. It's against my nature, frankly, to spend a week in very primitive conditions helping other people. I mean, I love travel and adventure. I really, really do. But, and I'm going to get real honest here, it is way out of my comfort zone.

I am a creature of the comforts of home and hearth. I wasn't always this way, but I am now. I am happy sitting at my computer, alone, creating a whole new world. But I'm also aware that too much of such isolation can be a bad thing, an unhealthy thing.

And so I push myself to do things like this on a fairly regular basis. Whether it's spending six weeks living in Ecuador or a week in a tiny Mayan village, I do this for two reasons -- to help others and to help myself.

Altruism isn't something that comes naturally to me. I'm working on it, though. Over the years, I have become more-or-less comfortable going way outside of my comfort zone. It's not only healthy emotionally, I believe, but it also makes me a better writer. I know that sounds funny, but it's true. The further outside my physical comfort zone I get, the easier it is to get outside my writing comfort zone.

Life is about taking chances. About adventure. About doing for others. About being uncomfortable by choice rather than by force.

I'll post again tomorrow but after that, this site will fall silent for week. Unless I can finagle a way to get to the little Internet cafe in the village and have enough time to post a quick update.

Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Zombieland rocked; I rolled

I had promised to post my impressions of the film Zombieland, which I watched last night with a couple of friends.

It totally rocked. Sure, it's no Oscar candidate, but then it's not supposed to be. Instead, it's a hilarious zombie movie with great wit, marvelous one-liners and, surprise, a heart. It's kind of sweet, once you get past all that blood and gore. I mean, there were zombies getting dispatched in all kinds of creative ways. Seriously.

Much better than Shaun of the Dead, if you like these kinds of movies. I'm no zombie film aficionado, but I really did enjoy this one. A lot. Of course, watching with two other guys enhanced the experience, since we giggled at all the right sexual innuendos and all.

So rent it. But be careful when eating. It's a little gross in spots. And there's a cameo near the end of the movie that is absolutely worth seeing.

Oh, and I know I said I was probably going to take the week off in preparation for my mission trip on Saturday. But I got bored and knocked off an entire chapter revision this afternoon. It felt good, and now I don't feel totally guilty.

I'm posting a bit early today because the mission team has our final meeting tonight before we leave at dawn Saturday. We're packing our take-along suitcases, which will contain items such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, deodorant, vitamins, etc. You know, the stuff we take for granted each and every day. It's amazing how appreciative the Mayans are when we give them the stuff.

I can't even imagine how it would feel if it was the other way around -- if foreigners were coming here and giving my family essential items because we were too poor to afford them. Every time I think about it, it makes me want to cry.

Strep update: The kid is feeling much better today, thanks to the magic of kick-ass antibiotics. I do believe he's going back to school tomorrow! And I still feel fine, so maybe I'll dodge that particular bullet. I certainly hope so.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Strep throat and Zombieland

Well, the little guy has strep throat. We took him to the doc today since he's been sick and running a fever all weekend. Yep, his yearly bout of strep.

I'm a little concerned since I'm leaving early Saturday for Mexico for a week -- and there ain't no doctors where we're going! The pediatrician says if I'm going to get it, I should know within 24 hours. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Especially since the mission trip is already paid for -- and non-refundable.

I'm heading over to a friend's house tonight to watch Zombieland. I've heard it's pretty good. It's a man date, since there will be three of us and no women (they're out for the evening). Okay, that sounded a little weird. But you know what I mean -- lots of belching, farting and junk food. Mmmmmmm.

I did nothing on the manuscript today. I'm ashamed to say that I used the kid's illness as an excuse to screw around online all day. Since he's going to be home tomorrow, I might just do it again. But I know that, at some point, I need to put the pedal to the metal. It's just that with the trip looming, it seems like there's a lot of loose ends to tie up. (Wow. Did you hear that little whine in my writing voice?)

I'll let you know tomorrow how Zombieland was. Even if the movie sucks, the company will be good and really, that's all that matters.

Later, taters.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love link

So I received this Love Link thingy from my friend Gina, who continually amazes me with her depth and coolness.

I'm not really sure what I've done to deserve such a thing, but I'm grateful and touched that she gave it to me. I'm liking this Internet writer-friend thing.

Gina is a tough-as-nails writer-biker chick with a heart as big as her intellect. She goes on these hilarious rants sometimes and, amazingly, always manages to bring the point around to something that's meaningful and profound. Gina's deep and insightful posts can be found here //

Follow her. She rocks. She's also one hell of a writer. Just wait until you meet Shay -- a girl that will stay in your heart and mind long after you quit reading about her.

Now, I'm supposed to pass this on to five blogger friends. So I happily pass my Love Link on this Valentine's Day to:

Christi at Christi is a a frequent commenter on this blog and a dear friend of mine. She is creative, a bit of a free spirit, intellectually deep and a very good writer. She also had the courage to submit the query for her completed novel to the Query Shark. I predict good things for Christi. Really.

Kristy at Kristy is funny, self-deprecating and slightly profane at times. She's one of the most endearing people I've met online. And man, can she write! I love her blog to death. If you want to laugh and get deep at the same time, go read her blog. Do it every day. It's worth it.

Tera at Tera is a poet and artist from Texas whose two joys in life are raising her cute-as-a-button young son and creating things that speak to the heart. Tera has had a tough life and uses her poetry and art to help her make sense of a world that sometimes can be as cruel as a hot Texas afternoon. Go read her poem called simply "Jeans." You'll be glad you did.

Josin at Another Texas girl, Josin not only has the coolest name in literature, but is somewhat famous for having an excerpt of a blog comment used on uber-agent Janet Reid's website. It doesn't get any cooler than that. Josin is a superb writer who likes to post excerpts of her work for us to enjoy. Go. Read her stuff. I also think she would be a great beta reader for me and someday I'm going to get up the courage to ask her. ;)

Aidan at I just discovered this blog recently and am amazed at how incredibly cool, deep and touching it is. Aidan's debut novel is coming out in a few months. She's a former NYC lawyer who quit her high-powered job to raise her two darling kids, be with her handsome hubby in their Manhattan apartment -- and write. She's a girl after my own heart. You must read her blog. And to top it off, she spends hours answering each comment with kind, thoughtful words. She truly appreciates her commenters. I could learn much about blogging and being a decent human being from Aidan.

So there you have it. My five Love Link friends. So now what? Well, now those of you who received this need to follow the instructions in the paragraph below. And those of you reading this, go to the above blogs, read and enjoy them. And tell them I sent you.

You have received a LOVE LINK, now it's your turn to pass it on. Pick 5 special blog friends/readers/or non-blogging friends to link to and post about in addition to the person who LOVE-LINKED you; don't forget to add this notice to your post. This paragraph links you to (where it all started) because we want to know how far the love spreads and to how many. So, please come and leave a comment to tell us who you are and that you received a LOVE LINK from a friend.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympics and a new computer

I bought a new laptop computer this afternoon. It's an ice-blue Dell Inspiron and I love it already. I have a fairly new desktop computer (it's a Compaq, but it works), but my five-year-old Gateway laptop is dying a slow and agonizing death.

So I gave the Gateway to the 12-year-old and treated myself to a new one. Yippee.

The new Dell has a long-life battery, which means I can move my wip back and forth between the desktop and the laptop and work outside on the deck or at the local coffee shop. I'm not too sure how well that will work, since I've never written in public (unless you count a hectic newsroom!). But I'm willing to give it a shot. It's time to shake things up a bit.

Also, I know this is Friday and that's usually Family Movie Night in the Towery home, but tonight the Wife and I decided to forgo the movie and watch the Olympics opening ceremony. We are both suckers for the winter Olympics, although we neither one care much for the summer games. Go figure.

So we'll hang on to The Hangover and watch it tomorrow night, maybe. I have to cover a college basketball game for the Associated Press (one of my freelance side gigs), so we'll see if we have time.

Hope you all have a great weekend. We'll talk again on Sunday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Inertia (n): a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force b : an analogous property of other physical quantities. See also Terry Towery.

Ok, so I did nothing today. Nothing. Well, that's not true, exactly. I met a dear old friend for a very long and very enjoyable lunch after a good workout and a heavenly thirty-minute steam at the health club. I came home fairly late this afternoon with good intentions -- I was going to knock off a chapter of revisions.

Good so far. So I fired up the computer and immediately became thoroughly enchanted by Twitter and Facebook and blogs and ... well, you know. Useless crap that seems so damned cool at the time. So by the time I realized that I needed to get to work, the Wife and Kid were home and it was time to make dinner. And then I sat down with the 19-year-old son and spent about three hours having one of those father-son chats that many fathers have with their 19-year-old sons. Ahem.

Soooo. Now it's nearly 10 p.m. and I got nothing. Nothing. And tomorrow? More nothing, since I have a full day of real life stuff going on. The weekend? Full. Monday? Nope, gotta take the 12-year-old to the doctor so maybe he can get his cast off. So that means it will be Tuesday before I can get back to revisions and by then, it will be almost time to start packing and getting ready to leave at 3:30 a.m. Saturday for a week in Tres Reyes, Mexico.

Yikes. I guess I'll get what I can done next week and head off to the jungle as guilt-free as possible. But man, when I get back, I need to get the nose to the grindstone.

Or this book will never see the light of publication.

Oh, and Family Movie Night tomorrow will be of a more adult nature (no, not that adult. Get your mind out of the gutter!). The little guy is on a movie date with two girls and another guy, so the wife and I get to watch The Hangover!

I'll try to pump out a blog post tomorrow if I can. Otherwise, I should be able to write one Sunday night when we get back from a Chicago Valentine's Day brunch with my in-laws.

Have a good night and a great Friday!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On reading

My wife and I are voracious readers. When we moved in together, our book collections collided like two large, slow-moving barges. We were (are) literally swamped with books -- hard covers, paperbacks, textbooks. You name it, we have it.

It was also stunning how similar our reading tastes were. If you don't believe me, take a look at any of the dozen or so bookshelves in the house and you will see duplicates of at least half the books. Mine and hers. Ain't that sweet?

We go through periods where I read more than she does. But I'll admit it: She out-reads me. The woman always has her nose in a book. Always. Me, I read most every day and go through two or three novels a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

She reads a novel a week, sometimes more. And our 12-year-old son might read more than the both of us combined.

I also admit that I have a stack of books on the dresser next to our bed that has grown precariously large. It wobbles and sways and is always threatening to fall down upon my head while I sleep. Probably adding Stephen King's Under The Dome to the top of the pile wasn't the smartest move, since it weighs about as much as a 1974 Ford Thunderbird.

The pile represents every book I've read since last spring. All are new purchases, and here's the deal: We no longer have room for them! None of them. Our bookshelves are double-rowed as it is (books in front of books!).

While the Wife and I like many of the same books and authors, we have our separate faves, too. She likes what I sometimes lovingly call "chick books," those romantic books (not romance per se, though) that are almost exclusively written by women. I read Lawrence Block Scudder detective novels when I'm bored. I figure that makes us even.

But we share a love of many classics, along with Anne Tyler books, Pat Conroy books and most anything by Tom Clancy. I know! My wife is a Clancy freak. Go figure.

The point I'm getting at here (laboriously, I admit) is that in order to write well, one must read. A lot.

I know many so-called writers in the journalism world who brag that they don't read for relaxation or enjoyment. How sad for them. I can only imagine how much better their writing would be if they read more.

So crack open a good book and kick back. You deserve it.

Oh, and please comment and let me know your faves. Maybe we can work out a swap. If nothing else, I can maybe get that pile down to a more manageable height. Like, say, five feet or so.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I won another blog award!

I won another award, this time from Christi Goddard (whose wonderful blog can be found here

Now, the Honest Scrap award requires that I list ten weird things about myself. And I'm required to be honest. Hence, the name of the award.

So here goes:

1. I used to smoke almost three packs of cigarettes a day, but quit cold turkey on Jan. 7, 2001.

2. I was a member of the Air Force Security Forces and could assemble an M-16 blindfolded.

3. I had a tumor removed from my left armpit when I was four years old. Luckily, it was benign.

4. One of my two front teeth is fake, but it's such a good fake that no one can tell which one it is.

5. My best friend slugged me and knocked me out in a drunken fight in a bar parking lot in 1978 -- over a girl. I ended up with a broken jaw and the girl.

6. I have three sons.

7. I once was riding a motorcycle shirtless and a June bug hit me in the chest so hard it knocked me from the bike and left a bruise on my sternum the size of a baseball!

8. I call my wife Peter. And she calls me Peter. Seriously.

9. My first concert was Led Zeppelin in 1978 in either Chicago or Minneapolis (I honestly can't remember; there may have been some illegal substances involved).

10. I have seen Bruce Springsteen in concert five times.

Now, I must pass this on to six blogger friends. So, in no particular order, I bequeath Honest Scrap to:

1. Gina at

2. Kristy at

3. Marty at

4. Wendy at

5. Elizabeth at

6. Josin at

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good day's revisions

The finger is feeling fine, and the manuscript got better.

So despite the Midwest's version of Snowmageddon, I had a pretty good Monday. I spent about six hours revisioning and rewriting Chapter 12, yet another key chapter that needed much work, according to Staley, my awesome book editor.

The chapter contains a couple of big scenes, including one in which a 16-year-old girl is saved (or is she?) by Jordan Crane, the boy who might be the Messiah. Or the Devil. Ahem.

Here's a portion of the scene as it appeared before revision:

“What if I told you I can help you?” he said.

“Ha ha. That’s really funny,” she said, her voice breaking. “Trust me, Jordan. No one can help me. I’m on my own.”

“You’re never on your own, Sam,” Jordan said. “God is always with you, even when it feels like He’s not.”

“Oh please. Spare me the God shit, Jordan,” Sam said angrily, looking at him for the first time. “If there was a God, I wouldn’t be feeling like this in the first place. So just drop it and leave before you piss me off even more than you already have.”

“Someone has hurt you,” Jordan continued. “No one should have to go through life feeling such pain. There is One who has all power. That One is God. Let Him into your heart.”

“Just go away!” Sam groaned, sliding away from him. “What is it with you Jesus freaks? Why are you always wanting to cram God down people’s throats?”

“But you want God, Sam. I can feel it,” he said, gently reaching out and placing his hand on her arm. She felt the electric jolt of his touch all the way to her toes. “Can’t you feel it, too?”

And just like that, she did. The misery in her heart began to dissolve into a million tiny pieces, each one piercing her soul like a dagger. She cried out once and began sobbing, her entire body shaking with the effort.

“Let it go,” Jordan said, folding her into his arms. “I’m right here.”

“Oh God help me,” she sobbed, burying her head into his warm shoulder. “I can’t stand this
anymore. It hurts so bad. Please help me.”

Here's the same scene as revised:

“What if I told you I could help you?” he said.

“Ha ha. That’s really funny,” she said, her voice breaking. “Trust me, Jordan. No one can help me. I’m on my own.”

“You’re never on your own, Sam,” Jordan said. “God is always with you, even when it feels like He’s not.”

“Oh, please. Spare me the God shit, Jordan,” Sam said, looking at him for the first time. “If there was a God, I wouldn’t be feeling like this in the first place. So just drop it and leave before you piss me off even more than you already have.”

“Someone has hurt you,” Jordan continued. “No one should have to go through life feeling such pain. There is One who has all power. That One is God. Let Him into your heart.”

“Just go away!” Sam groaned, sliding away from him. “What is it with you Jesus freaks? Why do you always cram God down people’s throats?”

“But you want God, Sam. I can feel it,” he said, reaching out and placing his hand on her arm. “Can’t you?”

The orgasmic shock of his touch curled her bare toes. Sam looked at him, her eyes wide, as the misery in her heart dissolved into a million tiny pieces, each one piercing her soul like a dagger. She cried out once and sobbed, her entire body trembling.

“No,” she said, gasping. She struck him in the chest with her fists. “Please. Don’t.”

“Let it go,” Jordan whispered, gripping her by the shoulders and folding her into his arms. “I’m right here.”

“Oh God, help me,” she sobbed. She buried her head into his warm shoulder. “I can’t stand this anymore. It hurts. God, it hurts. Please help me.”

So, there it is. Once again, I tried to show rather than tell. Let me know what you think. Oh, and have a great Monday. Happy Snowmageddon!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What a super day!

Ah, the Super Bowl. Pizza, chips, junk food galore. What could be more American?

I'm still recovering from novel finger, so I'm not going to write a lengthy blog today. I plan to get back to big-time revisions tomorrow, since it's feeling better.

But I wanted to tell you about last year's Super Bowl. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- one I will never forget. We were in Leona Vicario, a tiny village in the coastal jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula, after having arrived the day before. We live in a fairly nice base camp on the outskirts of the dirt-poor village, and drive an hour or two each day to a much smaller Mayan village to work.

William Cen, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Erly, are our hosts for the week. William speaks very little English, so Erly translates since she is fluent in Spanish, English and Mayan. So here we were, a group of about 15 Americans from Illinois, in this tiny village on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon. Super Bowl Sunday. But, of course, there is no cable television in the village. There's not even a television at the base camp. So we were sure we would miss the game.

But unbeknownst to us, William had snuck off, drove a hour to Cancun, and rented a flat-screen television and a satellite dish. He came back, set it up and had the game on in the big dining room when we came down for dinner. He had even purchased snacks for us!

The game was in Spanish, of course, and my Spanish isn't very good, but it was awesome nonetheless! And the commercials were hilarious in Spanish!

It was a good day.

This year, I'll watch the game in the comfort of the downstairs study with my sons. But I will remember those in Leona Vicario tonight, those who have so little in life, yet have such generosity, such spirit.

Hola my friends. I will see you in less than two weeks. And go Saints!

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Friday!

Okay, I'm cheating right now. I admit it. I took off my silly little finger splint to type this. But I promise I'll put it back on.

Although it does look (and feel) silly!

So, today is Friday and I, once again, accomplished nothing. Zip. Nada. My goal is to be back revising on Monday, after giving the poor little pointer finger some time off.

Actually, both pointer fingers. Oh? I didn't tell you about my stupid scissors accident last night? Well, pull up a computer chair, friend.

I decided to cut one of those pain patches for your back into thirds so I could tape it to my finger, right? So I was trying to cut the damned thing while not using my right pointer finger -- and proceeded to cut the crap out of my other pointer finger! I mean, it laid that baby wide open. So now, both pointer fingers are all bandaged up. I look like a lobster with funky white claws!

Not the best week, quite frankly.

Anyhoo, it's Family Movie Night and provided I don't cut a limb off between now and this evening, we're watching Pretty in Pink. Molly's finest, if you ask me. We also rented The Last Starfighter, which we can watch this weekend if we have time (or if we get snowed in).

I'm thinking Night of the Comet for next time. We might have to skip next Friday, since I seem to recall we have something going on that night.

That's it for now. Have a great weekend. I'll be back on Sunday (unless I cut myself to death!).

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Uh-oh. I have a medical issue that is wreaking havoc upon my writing. My pointer finger on my right hand is sore and the tendons feel "weird," like they're stretched out or something.

It's been building for a couple of weeks, and it's now reached a point (get it? point?) where I can barely type! Not good for a writer. And the pain is probably a contributing factor in why my post yesterday was so short.

Alas, this one will be, too.

I am going to give myself a couple of days off from revising (and cut way back on my computer time) in the hopes it will heal up and feel better. I'm leaving for Mexico in a couple of weeks, so that will be seven or eight days with no computer, therefore no typing.

I suspect it's some kind of repetitive strain injury, no surprise considering I spend between 12-14 hours a day at this computer. I hope that cutting back some, coupled with the week in the jungle, will get the old pointer finger back in shape.

However, there is some good news. I slept much better last night! Yay! So maybe it was an isolated incident after all. I hope so.

More later. Gotta rest the old finger right now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Too pooped to pop


Yeah. I'm tired. I didn't sleep much last night, and boy, did it show today. I managed to slog my way through a chapter of revisions, but my heart wasn't really in it.

I'm subject to periodic bouts of insomnia, and have been all of my adult life. Unfortunately, I seem to be heading into yet another bout. It's been a while. I have no trouble falling asleep, but then I wake up half a dozen times and have one hell of a time getting back to sleep. And when I do sleep, I generally have very vivid (and weird) dreams.

I hope it was an isolated incident, that perhaps I ate something last night that didn't agree with me (although I don't think I did). We'll see tonight.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have real difficulties concentrating and being creative when I'm sleep-deprived. It just doesn't come, if you know what I mean.

Here's hoping to a better night's sleep tonight, and a better day's work tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Go! Follow Emma!

Please see the button on the left sidebar. If you click it, you go to my friend Emma Michaels' blog, where she is giving away all kinds of cool stuff.

For free!!!!!!

What do you have to do to win, you ask? Well, all you do is become a follower of hers. Pretty simple, huh?

So go. Click that button and win something. And remember, she bought that stuff with her own money. It's the least you could do!


UPDATE: I removed the button, but you can still visit her blog at

I'm starting to like this!

I've always loved writing, and hated revising.

The very act of writing is cathartic. Creative. Revising is just, well, work. You know?

But I'm starting to realize that I don't hate revisions as much as I thought I did. Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd rather be writing and creating. But in a way, that's exactly what I'm doing now. I'm taking my book and, line by line, I'm making it better. Adding richness and texture. Weighing words and phrases. Replacing bland verbs with better ones, more active ones.

I'm having a blast!

I got through two chapters today. Not bad. And in one of them, I completely rewrote an entire scene -- a scene that I had loved dearly and had been dreading revising. But after getting it done, I re-read it and got goose bumps. It was so much better than before, and yet it retained exactly the sentiment that it had. In other words, the scene gained by revising, and didn't lose anything in the process.

I finished chapters 10 and 11 today out of 28. I'm averaging between six and nine chapters a week, so I should be done in a couple of weeks. It's my goal to finish before we leave for Mexico on Feb. 20. That way, it won't be hanging over my head when I get back, and I can start querying in earnest.

I can't wait.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Quick update

The revisions continue. I slogged through Chapter 9 today. Only nineteen more to go!

I think the reason it took me so long to get through only one chapter today is because I made the mistake of starting at the beginning of the manuscript and reading it. I guess I just wanted to blow through it, since I've done so many revisions that I worry about typos and all that stuff that I thought I had cleaned up months ago.

I usually don't do this, because I always read what I had revised the previous day before I start tackling today's work. That way, I can proof read for any errors I might have added. It also puts me back into the narrative, making the revising I'm about to do a bit easier.

But today, for some weird reason, I started reading from the beginning (I think it was because I got started early and felt I had the time), and that turned into hours of more revisions and rewriting on chapters I had finished days ago! And, you know, it's not like I haven't read the thing a bazillion times!

I just need to quit it and keep plugging along. Moving forward, you know.

Anyway, I got caught up and made it through Chapter 9. Slooowwwlllyyy.

But I'm getting there. So, how is your work coming?