Tuesday, November 30, 2021

National Novel Writing Month is officially a success

I'll do a more detailed post tomorrow about how I got here, the overall experience, and how it's going to affect my writing going forward, but for now the news is that tonight I finished NaNoWriMo with a final word count of 52,819. I actually cross the magic 50k finish line last night at 50,133, but took part in today's Sisters in Crime write-ins to get the word count even higher. 

So incredibly stoked over this. I've attempted NaNo several times in the past on my own, but never made it past the first few days without falling hopelessly (IMO) behind and giving up. This was such a great experience.

Official results:



Monday, November 29, 2021

November Words of Wisdom

A day early because tomorrow's post will be a hopefully celebratory post about finishing NaNoWriMo.
There's no competition. Respectfully, you can never be me. Disrespectfully, I would never want to be you. --Unknown
I am happy I don't have a fake image to maintain. What you see is what you get. Some days I'm amazing, other days I'm a wreck. But every day, I am ME.  --Vicky Zugah
The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which makes you lonely. --Lorraine Hansberry

I'm a fan of reality. I do not like delusional thinking. I do not like deceptive thinking. --Joe Rogan
Put the things you can control in order. Repair what is in disorder, and make what is already good better. --Jordan Peterson
Look at the bright side of life and the bright side will look at you. The reflections we send out always return. --Ron Baratono 

It's time to just be happy. Being angry, sad and overthinking isn't worth it anymore. Just let things flow. Be positive. --Unknown
Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires,  and a touch that never hurts. --Charles Dickens

Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and thre's so much to smile about. --Marilyn Monroe
No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness. --Aristotle 

There is a huge difference between wanting to change and being willing to change. Almost everyone wants to change for the better but few are willing to take the steps necessary to create that change. --Unknown
Befriend the man who is brutally honest, for honesty is the highest form of respect. --Daniel Saint

Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become. --Heraclitus

Learn from your past, then pack your shit and get the fuck out of there. --Unknown

God made the horse from the breath of the wind, the beauty of the earth, and the soul of an angel. --Unknown

The cat crossed the street daintily, pointing his feet like a ballet dancer, lifting them high as if his feet were too good for the pavement. --Vera Caspary

A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer. --Robert Frost
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. --Charles M. Schulz

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Back on track!

After lagging behind most of the month and getting close to catching up, but not quite making it, I just caught up on NaNo! I'm finally on track to hit the 50k goal by November 30, the last day of NaNoWriMo. Very happy about this! The Sisters in Crime write-ins have made all the difference in the world. This will be the first NaNo where I didn't fall hopelessly behind within days and gave up. Tuesday is going to see some happy dances!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hope you all have a lovely holiday!


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Amazon Loot: An app for those who would prefer to loot in the privacy of their own home

The Babylon Bee strikes again: Amazon Looting App. Gotta love the Facebook comments.

Updated 11/24/21 4:35pm: More looting humor from The Babylon Bee.

Let the holiday shopping looting begin!

Monday, November 22, 2021

NaNoWriMo Week 3 Progress Report: The good, the bad, and the ugly

I was behind but kept getting close...so close...
And then, SUNDAY! A girl needs her write-ins, just sayin'. And the only day we don't have Sisters in Crime write-ins is - you guessed it - Sunday.

Day 15 (Monday)
Words written: 1,549 / Total words: 22,325

Day 16 (Tuesday)
Words written: 1,309 / Total words: 23,634

Day 17 (Wednesday)
Words written: 2,671  (check me out) / Total words: 26,305
Badge earned:

Day 18 (Thursday)
Words written: 1,949 / Total words: 28,253

Day 19 (Friday)
Words written: 1,051 / Total words 29,304

Day 20 (Saturday)
Words written: 2,179 / Total words 31,483

Day 21 (Sunday)
Words written...ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. YIKES. / Total words: 31,483

All week long I was getting so close to being caught up/on schedule to make 50k, then...Sunday. The second time I've had zero words and the second out of three Sundays I didn't write at all. Now we have Thanksgiving week coming up. Shopping Monday, possibly Tuesday, meal prep Wednesday, Thanksgiving Thursday...let's just say, I have MAJOR catch-up to do now and probably will have even more over the long weekend. And November 30 is the following Tuesday. We'll see if I make it to 50k words, but if not, it's still been an amazingly productive experience and I'll have a project well under way. Which is more than I'd have without NaNo and the SinC write-ins. Happy writing, everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Recent reading: "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography"

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle
After the trauma of Verity, I needed a palate cleanser. Monty Python's Eric Idle provided it.
In addition to being the title of both this book and the famous song that closed out Life of Brian, always looking on the bright side of life seems to be Idle's lifelong philosophy. His childhood was rough - his father died when he was a child. Having survived World War II in the Royal Air Force, Idle senior perished in a traffic accident while hitch-hiking home to his family. Eric's mother descended into an understandable depression and he went to live with his grandparents for a while before being dispatched to a boarding school that was at best tough and at worst brutal. He seems to have responded to it all with a sense of humor and doesn't seem to have any lingering issues despite his less than privileged early years.
Once at college he began writing and performing, putting him on the path that would eventually lead to Monty Python, and the rest is history. In addition to his own stardom, this led to his association and friendships with many hugely famous people, especially George Harrison, but also including Robin Williams, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Lorne Michaels, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Carrie Fisher, and he writes warmly about most of them (the exceptions being Harry Nilsson, who apparently took himself a bit too seriously for Idle's taste.

A huge part of Idle's life has been his second wife and soulmate Tania. He makes no bones about being a less than perfect husband to his first wife Lyn and an often absent father to their son Carey, but luckily figured out the monogamy thing by the time he met Tania. 

This is a hugely entertaining bio by a big star who didn't have to go off the deep end and hit rock bottom before figuring out life, and in that alone it is refreshing. Whatever bad things he might have had to deal with, Idle dealt with them intelligently and with a indefatigable sense of humor. It's a bright, fun look at the life of one of the founding members of the greatest sketch comedy team ever.

John Cleese's eulogy of Graham Chapman:
Graham Chapman is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. And I say good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard. I hope he fries. And I say that because if I hadn't said something inappropriate he would never have forgiven me.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Entertain in Julia Child-Style (Webinar)

WGBH presented this webinar today that featured Chef Jacques Pepin and author Alex Prud'homme (who is Julia Child's great-nephew, co-writer, and keeper of her legacy) discussing Julia Child and cooking for Thanksgiving. 
And it was delightfully informative, beginning with this tidbit: 
  • The famous Dan Ackroyd/Saturday Night Live sketch in which he played Julia bleeding all over the place was based on an actual event. Julia and Pepin were about to do a demo on the Tom Snyder show, and Julia badly cut the end of one finger just before going on. According to Pepin, it was a really serious cut - he kind of helped push the skin back into place, then wrapped it in a towel. Julia was pretty blase about the whole thing, insisting that Snyder not mention it on air. Of course, as soon as they started Snyder brought it up. She ended up having to get stitches after the show. Also, it was great to hear that Julia loved the Ackroyd sketch.
  • Pepin stated that he believes in "taste over presentation" - although you want your food to look good, taste is the ultimate issue. He made the comment, "All food critics should be blind."
  • Chef is not as picky about wine as you'd expect from someone who is both French and a chef. His favorite wine is "free" (wines that people bring to him). When buying, he looks for wines in the $12-$20 range. Other than that, he's just not picky about it.

Chef Jacques Pepin

  • Guilty pleasures: Julia never felt 'guilty' about eating any type of food. Among her favorites that might be considered guilty pleasures for someone of her stature in the food world are hamburgers and Chinese food (she and her husband, Paul Child, were stationed in China during World War II). She also loved serving Goldfish crackers as during cocktail hour.
  • Julia owned one of the early microwave ovens. She referred to it as her "NASA contraption". She once attempted to microwave an entire meal - chicken, vegetables, and for some reason, ice cream - all together, all at once in the microwave. Needless to say, it wasn't a success.
  • Julia's favorite fall dishes (according to Alex): Her Beef Bourguignon and chicken stew.
  • Chef was asked about the array of pans hanging on the wall behind him, specifically which ones were his favorites, and about what kinds of pans he prefers in general. He doesn't have a specific favorite, but stated that he likes non-stick pans for omelets and cast iron for roasting. Which pan he picks pretty much depends on what he's cooking.
  • Both were asked about their favorite thing about spending so much time with Julia. Chef: The camraderie, that she was always straight-forward, so you knew where you stood with her, and that she was genuine - the person you saw on camera was the same person off-camera. Alex: Being around her was instructive, fun, inspiring, and never dull.

Alex Prud'homme

It was a brief but fun and informative webinar. I hope they do more of these.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Department of Dumb Criminals: Fish Story Edition

This was yesterday's entry from my true life crime desk calendar:
Hook, Lies, and Sinker
When Bobby Rose caught the biggest fish of the hour at the 2010 BLT Lake Ray Hubbard Big Bass tourney in Texas, he was quickly whisked away for a polygraph tests - common practice in the bass fishing world when an angler tries to claim a prize. The bass was left behind with judges, who noticed a strange lump in the fish's stomach while weighing it. After they placed the bass in a holding tank, things got even stranger - the fish sat at the bottom of the tank, not moving. Officials confronted Rose during his polygraph, and Rose confessed by way of grabbing the fish and squeezing it tail to head until a one-pound lead weight popped out. Rose had weighted the fish, increasing its heft by nearly one-tenth.

Rose was charged with one felony count of attempted theft for cheating in an attempt to claim the tourney's prize of a $55,000 bass boat. He received 15 days in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Hope it was worth it!


Monday, November 15, 2021

National Novel Writing Month - Week 2 Progress Report

After not writing at all on Sunday (Day 7), I got back in the saddle on Day 8. The tough part is staying in the saddle. Also, no new badges - they make it a lot harder to earn them after the first few days.
Day 8 (Monday)
Words written: 1,841 / 12, 073 total (not quite caught back up after my 0 count on Sunday, but making progress.
Day 9 (Tuesday)
Words written: 2,486 / 14, 559 total (almost caught up, but then...)
Day 10 (Wednesday
Words written: 202 (yikes!) /  14,761 total
Day 11 (Thursday)
Words written: 535 (yikes again) / 15,296 total
Day 12 (Friday)
Words written: 3,207 (that's better!) / 18,503 total
Day 13 (Saturday)
Words written: 1,588 / 20,091 total
Day 14 (Sunday) 
Words written: 685 / 21,730 total

So some slow days there, but I'm absolutely boggled by the fact not only that I've written 20k+ words in two weeks, but also seeing my story start to flesh out in ways I hadn't expected. It's really coming together, and the Sisters in Crime write-ins have been beyond helpful.

Onward and upward!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Saluting our veterans

It's Veteran's Day today. Thanks to all our veterans for their selfless service.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Where has the Pomodoro Technique been all my writing life?

Seriously, how have I never heard of this until now?
The Sisters in Crime/NaNoWriMo Zoom write-ins employ what's known as the Pomodoro Technique. Basically you work for 25 minutes, then take a brief break before doing another 25 minutes of work. If necessary, you can take a longer break after several pomodoros. 
Each write-in begins with the writer/host of the session greeting everyone and offering some advice on NaNo and/or writing in general. Then the host sets a timer for 25 minutes and the Zoom meeting goes dark. When the pomodoro ends, the host brings everyone back and we get to boast about our progress in the chat.

I've managed roughly between 800-900 words per pomodoro. Some people do less because they're researching or working on something they've been stuck on. There's no rule about what or how much you have to get done within the 25 minutes, just that you focus on your task.

The technique was developed in the late 1980's by college student Francesco Cirillo and is named "pomodoro" (Italian for "tomato") after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used.

I remember these!

There's a very formal step-by-step list of instructions on how to use the technique here, but you can do it as casually as you want. I have found just doing even two a day during the write-ins to be life-changing in terms of my writing progress, which had been sluggish at best this year. I plan on continuing to use it post-NaNo and highly recommend the technique for anyone who needs more focus and discipline on any task, not just writing.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

National Novel Writing Month - Week 1 Progress Report

OK, so Week 1:
One of the things discussed during the Sisters in Crime NaNo Kickoff on Monday was the idea of doing what you can and not feeling bad about not making the full 50k word count. Several writers mentioned doing "half-NaNos" and even though this isn't official with NaNo itself, it is a goal that can be more easily met. So I've decided if I can't hit 50k, 25k at least will be acceptable. But 50k would be preferable. 😁
Here's my first week's progress, which overall I'm happy with because it's already an improvement on my previous attempts to do NaNo. Note: 1,667 words per day is the minimum needed every day to make 50k by November 30.

Day 1: 1,726 words written
Badges earned: 
Day 2: 2,524 words written/4,250 total
Man, oh man, the write-ins make all the difference in the world!
Badge earned:

Day 3: 2,100 words written/6,350 total
Sisters in Crime write-ins? Greatest writing thing ever.
Badges earned:

Day 4: 1,466 words written/7,816 total (no new badges)

Day 5: 1,962 words written/9,778 total (no new badges)

Day 6: 454 words written/10,232 total
Note: This was a slow day in terms of words written. I mostly did research and built a playlist to go with the project. But even with the slow day, I'm still a bit ahead of schedule (just barely).
Badge earned:

Day 7: 0 words written. You read that right - ZERO. I'd intended to write but got caught up on a couple of other things and never got to it. Still, it isn't the end of the world. This is the first day I've fallen behind the pace, but I'll have nothing but time the next couple of days to write, so I'm actually not discouraged. I was overachieving for the most part, so I feel confident I can get back on track, and there's plenty of November left.

So overall, I'm pleased not only with my progress, but how much I have fleshed out my story. Looking forward to week two!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Department of Dumb Criminals - Official Complaint Division

This is from the true crime desk calendar my brother got me earlier this year (bold mine):

In all, former Baltimore County police officer Joseph Goetz pleaded guilty to seven count of robbery for robbing banks to the tune of $280,274. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and two years of supervised release.

He had also robbed five additional banks, crimes he couldn't be prosecuted for because of the statute of limitations, and had previously served time for robbing a UPS truck.

But Goetz is best known for the November 2008 robbery of Susquehanna Bank in York, Pennsylvania. Shortly after the bank opened, Goetz, wearing latex gloves, approached three tellers and demanded money. The first teller fainted. The second teller then explained that they had no money, showing him the empty cash drawer. The third teller did the same. Goetz became upset and vowed to file a complaint with the bank before storming out. He was arrest a few blocks away and sentenced in January 2010.

Okay, Karen. Go ahead, file a complaint. Dumbass.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Today in entertainment news...

First up, something fun: Steve Buscemi handed out Halloween candy dressed as his 30 Rock character that has become a popular meme.


On a less savory note, did you know that there is now such a thing as "the cancellation scam"? Some writer for Jezebel does; apparently it's where a celeb intentionally provokes outrage for publicity. However, using what the writer perceives as Dave Chappelle's "fear of irrelevance" as an example of this is kind of a stretch. If there's one performer today who doesn't need to worry about being irrelevant, it's Chappelle, and that was the case well before The Closer. There are plenty of celebrities desperate to stay in the spotlight, but history has shown that Dave Chappelle isn't remotely close to being one of them, much less "dependent" on it. But in their desperation to rip Chappelle, apparently some people are able to make such ridiculous reaches that I wonder that they don't dislocate their shoulders reaching so hard.

This is the guy who walked away from a $50 million deal back in his Comedy Central days, and as a fan of his show it was a huge loss. But unlike a lot of other people in the entertainment industry, Chappelle has stayed on an even keel, living in Ohio with his first and only wife and their children, and without a lot of the gossip-worthy drama that afflicts other famous people. And another thing - I'd be willing to bet a lot of people griping about The Closer haven't watched it in its entirety. It makes me wonder if these aren't the same people who hounded Daphne, and if - like me - you've actually watched the show, you will know what that means.


Tough news: Steve Carlson, who portrayed one of the hockey playing Hanson Brothers in the immortal Slap Shot is in need of help. He was recently diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic squamous cell carcinoma and needs financial assistance with costs related to his treatment. The good news is that you can help out. His Go Fund Me is here.

The Hanson Brothers make their insane debut as Charlestown Chiefs:

And how bonkers is it that I never knew until now that Steve Carlson spent some time as a Los Angeles King?

If you can, put on some foil for a brother.

Update 7/27/22: Great news from Steve!

Greatest news of NO CANCER!  I'm cancer free, gaining weight and healing.
Yesterday at my six month post chemo/radiation appointment the PET scan revealed Stage 4 Cancer is gone!
I cannot thank you for your support during these last 10 months.
We wouldn't have been able to make it without your help.
Now that I know the fight, I will continue to bring more awareness to the struggles of this disease.
Few of many struggles:
It was the toughest fight of my life .
Thank you for your donations your cards your prayers and friendships.
If ever I can lift someone up in prayer or spirits please email us!  
Steve Carlson


You guys, the wait is almost over! Dexter: New Blood debuts this coming Sunday. 

The return of our favorite sociopath/serial killer will go a long way towards easing the pain that the return to Pacific Standard Time (also next Sunday) always causes me. Dark at 5pm? That sucks so bad.

And now I have to get writing - today is the first day of NaNoWriMo. Have a great week everyone!