28 July 2009

Outlined a synopsis!

Well, drafted it, really. By hand. Due to some quirk left over from high school, I think best holding pen and paper, at least in the organizational stages.

I started on it this afternoon after finishing Turn Coat, around 3 or so. I had this odd sense of my head being full of cotton and bees, a general sign that I could be getting a headache, but I ignored it, willing it to go away. But around 4, my brain said, "Hey, you're going to sleep now. Put that pen down and grab a pillow." A few minutes later, I woke up and it was 4:35. I felt better, though.

And I got to finish the first draft after dinner. I'll revise as I type it up tomorrow.

27 July 2009

Second draft!

Thanks to my ability to focus when I'm stuck against a deadline, I got 4000 words written on Friday, then another 1600 or so Saturday and today, including editing and expositing.

Now I wait for my beta reader(s) to get back to me with crit. Hopefully before I vanish without internet access for 3 days. In the meantime, I'm working out the query and synopsis.

I need to make it as polished as I can in ... 2 weeks. God. Nobody pro waits this long to do this stuff.

And have another Tarkan video: Sorma Kalbim. Watch him emote. (Speaking of Turkish, so far I can count to ten. Except I can never remember ... is it 7 or 8? one of them, anyway.)

25 July 2009

Vacation, editing, and a rejection

First, the rejection. I wrote a piece of flash fiction (a story under 1000 words) earlier this year, and I submitted it in March. I got periodic updates, saying that my story had made it past the first and second cut, which was pretty awesome, really. I finally got the note saying it had been rejected the other day. But the feedback in the letter was fairly positive -- most of the 8 reviewers liked it, and one said it was among their favorites. So my spirit isn't crushed, though I'd (obviously) have preferred for them to buy it. Ah well. I'll look at revising it a bit and send it to a couple more places, after I'm done editing this stupid novella.

Nice segue. So, I'd finished the first draft last I mentioned it. Then while I was sitting on it for a couple weeks, I started hating the second half. I asked my beta readers, and they agreed that it was pretty weak. So I floundered a bit, trying to figure out WTF to do with the 13K words at the end, since I don't have much time to rewrite them before the submission closes. One of my betas gave me an idea that I thought would save me a ton of rewriting, but I was wrong. So I've basically rewritten 10K words or so since Tuesday morning. I would like to die now, plz. (Not really.) The story is stronger, I think, and I hope I can get it edited into publishable format before ... the 10th. With 2 planned vacations in the middle and a 2-day orientation (unpaid, boo) for another potential temp placement. And get the synopsis done and write a decent query letter.

Shoot me? I guess I can spend some time synopsizing on Delta next weekend. Though both my flights are at shitty times as far as consciousness goes: 6:30 am out and a red-eye back from Oregon. Bleh.

Look there. It's another segue. So I'm going to Oregon next weekend for a family get-together thing on my MIL's side. Should be interesting, though I had enough of Oregon during my residency, TYVM. At least summer shouldn't involve constant rain. Ugh. Then the weekend after that, I'm heading to the beach with the anime club. Based on past experience, I'll have No Time to work on writing. At all. But I hope to get the stupid thing sent out before we go.

So, I'm trying to decide whether to take two of my favorite movies with me. They're both brilliant, but neither is particularly happy. German movies tend not to be.

One is Gegen die Wand, a movie by Fatih Akin about two Turks living in Germany and how they react to being there. The male lead, Cahit, has excised everything Turkish from his life, while the female lead, Sibel, chafes under her parents' strict traditionality. I saw it while I was living in Oregon, and it was a beautiful sucker punch to the gut.

The other is The Lives of Others, which won an Oscar the other year for best foreign language film. It's about a playwright living in East Berlin in 1985 or so and the Stasi agent assigned to spy on him. It's a fairly authentic portrayal of life in the DDR (with a bit of artistic license, of course), according to people who lived there. Folk singer Wolf Biermann said that the tale matched part of his own life. (He had quite a file in the Stasi's archive.)

I don't know if there'd be an audience for them out there, or even anything to watch DVDs on in the rental house. The second movie has a happier ending, in a way, but there's still a heaping spoonful of tragedy. One thing I remember from living in Germany is the person who said, "You Americans, always with the happy ending." I have to say, she may have had a point.

On a happier note, have a Tarkan video. See why I'm obsessing?

20 July 2009

Attention span of a gnat on speed

Or, as I like to call it, fannish ADD. I have eleventy million shiny things I like, and each one is my all time favorite shiny thing of the day. Until the next one comes along, of course. I still love my older shiny things, but they're not as interesting as the new thing. Until the new thing is less new and I go back to the old ones (or the next new one.)

So. Tarkan. German-born Turkish pop singer. Makes damn catchy dance tracks, which blend traditional Turkish music and modern western dance rhythms. The top picture on wikipedia isn't very flattering at all, but here are some much nicer pictures. I got 2 of his CDs (Karma and Dudu), and they're stuck in my head, fairly permanently.

A friend of mine, the fabulous Liz, talked about him a few years ago, and I agreed, yeah, he's pretty hot, and that video she linked to was, too, but I never bought anything. Until like a week ago, when I suddenly HAD TO HAVE IT NOW. And thanks to the magic of the internet, I do.

And I've been toying with learning Turkish for a few years now, and I bought a book (for $9) to see how much I can teach myself and how I do at it, without spending the big bucks on Rosetta Stone. Though I suspect I might do that, eventually. I can tell it's going to be hard to get the pronunciations right without a teacher (though pop music can help! Sort of.) Also, the vowel harmony might kill me. I'm just glad Atatürk scrapped the old writing system (based on Arabic letters) and made his own, based on the Roman alphabet. It's pretty, but the wikipedia article made my head spin.

I still plan to do the Goethe Institut, but it's looking more likely that I'll do that in spring, possibly in Dresden, and I'm hoping to spend a week in Berlin in early November, but Ben's trying to talk me out of two international trips in 6 months. (Also, swine flu. I'll see what the pandemic situation looks like this winter before making any decisions on that.)

So, I'm sure y'all are wondering if, or how, this is relevant to my writing. It is, of course! One of the characters in Blue Danube Waltz is a mercenary (sorry, private security personnel). I recycled a name I'd picked for a character in a story I scrapped, about a Turkish family living in Berlin, Atesh. (It's actually spelled with an s-cedille, which is pronounced sh, but a) I can't find it in any keyboard map, and b) my audience would go, "bwuh?", so I'm opting for phonetics.) I was trying to figure out what he looked like, and I thought, "Hmm, he has green eyes." Then my little brain hamster spun on its wheel, and my next thought was, "Ooh, Tarkan has green eyes." And it spiraled downward from there.

(Yes, people of Central Asia can have green eyes. It's about as uncommon as it is among Western Europeans, but it happens.)

One thing I like about writing is that I can indulge my completely random interests in the name of research for a story. It's pretty freakin awesome, if you ask me!

16 July 2009

I get bad ideas.

About a year ago, I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have vacation time to burn so I could take a Goethe Institut course. They have 2-, 4-, and 8-week intensives throughout Germany, and they're highly reputable. They offer the Test of German as a Foreign Language, though it's called something else, which is The Way to get a job in Germany as a furrner. They also have German for Professionals (business, IT, etc), so you can learn your jargon.

I majored in German (and chemistry) in college. I spent my junior year there. My skills are atrophying, sadly. I can read, for example, Spiegel, but my conversation ability is diminished. I can also write in German, though I need to check words in the dictionary sometimes. I'd love a refresher.

I took their online placement test, and it said I should take the C1 course, which is the second highest skill level. (You take another placement test when you get there, then another when you finish. Theoretically, you ought to move up.)

It occurred to me last night that, with this whole not working full time thing, I could hare off to Berlin for a month, and I wouldn't have to worry about vacation time or anything. I just wouldn't be able to work for that month, so I'd probably have to pick up extra shifts before and after to make up for it. (The joy of temping.)

I did a finances check, and I could afford it. Air fare is decent at the moment. And a careful plan could mean I'm in Berlin for some of the 20th anniversary of Mauerfall stuff. But that's in three months. Also, it'll be cold then. I'd like to go to Berlin sometime when it's warm, like spring or summer.

Argh. I have time now, and money, but I can't convince myself it's a good idea.

11 July 2009

Netbook photos!

As you can see, Prussia (my netbook) is tiny.

Here it is sitting on the 15" MacBook.

And here we have Prussia sitting next to a standard hardcover novel.

And here's a height comparison.

Yes, tiny.

10 July 2009

My tech skills are mighty. Sorta.

OK, my google-fu is strong.

I just got an Asus EeePC 900 4G (it's purple with little swirls on it. Hush.) Problematically, the wireless card didn't work, and since the thing's a netbook, the point is kind of that you take it places and use wireless internet. Which defeats the purpose somewhat.

So I poked around on the web, found some forum stuff, and nothing really worked. I got a friend to come over and bring a bootable disk to install Ubuntu, and that didn't fix it. It gave me a nicer user interface, though, which is great, because the default Asus one made me want to stab somebody (namely the person who wrote it. God, it's completely non-intuitive, despite most likely being designed to be incredibly intuitive, for kids or anyone who's not familiar with computers. Which doesn't apply to me.)

Anyway. I got my google on. I downgraded the kernel to intrepid (after having updated it to jaunty). In order to make that work, I had to edit the grub boot list. (That would be google "kernel downgrade".)

I followed these instructions for installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix and its hacks, though I didn't get down to the stuff for Fn keys and fan control; I don't think that's a problem. I might go back and do it later, though it's probably not necessary, considering the other things I did later. The eee repository at array.org was also useful, though their instructions made me O_o. (The previous link is good.)

Having done all that, the wifi still didn't work. On a whim, I changed my network settings on my wireless router, and ... it worked. OK. Whatever.

The Fn key toggles for the wireless card didn't work, so I followed these solutions for problems with jaunty on eeepcs. Because, for some reason, I have terrible luck getting things like updates to work, I then went to the EeePC wiki at statux.org. I followed the directions for fixing the hotkeys and wireless toggle, though it didn't quite work. I can toggle the wireless card off, but not back on, despite putting the text in the grub file as directed. I can work around that, anyway, because I can just not turn off the wireless card if I'm going to want to use it before rebooting. An inelegant solution, true, but it works. I'll have to keep an eye out for any updates to that.

But anyway, now that my Eee PC 900 works, I'm a lot happier with it. I assume if you get one of the Windows ones, it won't be this much of a pain in the neck. But I don't do Windows.

08 July 2009

Plenty of work...

I just picked up 45 hours of work over the next 2 weeks, in 5 shifts. I'm going to spend several days on the coast (ish), sleeping in a hotel. Not that I'll have time or energy to drive down to the beach, of course. One ... nice? aspect of this traveling pharmacist gig is that I get to see a lot of parts of the state that I haven't seen before. Of course, they're mostly out east in the Sandhills.

I ordered a netbook last week, but UPS isn't bringing it to me. The tracking page says "in transit to final destination," from the Chapel Hill hub, since 11:23 yesterday morning. I could freakin drive there and pick it up myself faster than waiting for it. Grr. I wanna play with my new toy. *stalks UPS tracking page*

05 July 2009

Draft complete!

I finished the first draft. It's almost 26,000 words. The first third are intro, the next 10,000 or so are actiony bits, and the remainder are tying up threads and denouement. I've sent it to my awesome friend for beta reading, and in the meantime, I'll work on the synopsis and cover letter. And read some more nonfiction about pre-WW1 Europe.

I haven't taken the pictures from Asheville off the camera yet, but I'll do that sometime this week.

I had two assignments for my job last week. The first was a day of training on the computer, at half pay, and the second, I was actually in charge, at full pay. So I bought a netbook. It's sitting in a UPS warehouse in Ohio, waiting for someone to drive it east.

I submitted an alternate history short story on Tuesday. I don't know whether they'll take it. And I'm still waiting on the story I submitted in March. If I hear anything, I'll be sure to post about it, positive or negative.