It is done

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And to celebrate, the query is going out as soon as I put up this blog post, with a nod of thanks to everyone for their encouraging words and advice.

Here is my take on Roxanne, which I thought would be appropriate:

(sung to the tune of Roxanne by The Police)

Edits, you don’t have to keep me up all night
My deadline’s coming
And there’s a really good movie on tonight
Edits, please don’t give me all that stress tonight
One day I’ll earn money
Don’t care if my tense is wrong or if it’s right

Edits, you don’t have to keep me up all night
Edits, you don’t have to keep me up all night
(Edits) Keep me up all night, (Edits) keep me up all night
(Edits) Keep me up all night, (Edits) keep me up all night
Keep me up all night, oh

There was this pesky comma
I didn't need the drama
I have to tell you just how I feel
My spellchecker’s just a toy
My motivation’s stolen
With fourteen semicolons
Told you once I won’t tell you again it’s a noun phrase

Edits, you don’t have to keep me up all night
Edits, you don’t have to keep me up all night

(Edits) Keep me up all night, (Edits) keep me up all night
(Edits) Keep me up all night, (Edits) keep me up all night

Okay, I'm outtie. See you on the other side.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:33 AM 3 comments

The end is nigh

Monday, July 30, 2007

It is with tired fingers that I compose this wee post, as I have spent a very long Sunday inputting all but the last 12 pages of edits for H&B.

I know, just 12 pages! If only I could have stayed up an extra hour or so to do them, but then I'd have to go back and proof them to make sure it was in English. (A lesson learned on Friday morning after working until 2:30 a.m. the night before.)

My query letter (now without the Harry Potter reference), revised synopsis and first three chapters are comfortably waiting until August 1. Sure, I could send them out now, but I feel that sending out a query letter for a novel that isn't complete (even if it's this close) is asking for trouble. Call me superstitious, but that's the way I'm approaching it.

And I can't wait for the real waiting to begin. ;)

Seriously, all of this waiting for me to finally get my butt in the chair has probably done little to prepare me for the gut-wrenching, soul-sucking waiting cycle that I will be entering come Wednesday. This is the part of the process, I'm sure, that drives my comrades-at-keyboards to drink.

I must pick up more paper umbrellas on the way home today.

It's time to release this novel out into the cruel, overloaded-with-submissions world. That way I can get all of those other projects done (sends big hugs out to understanding editors and publishers) and prepare for the fast-approaching frenzy that, no matter how much I try to plan, always catches me by surprise each fall.

I also kind of cheated and bought myself my "finishing the book" reward: tickets to see The Police on November 9. Woo hoo! Now I just have to live up to that promise and deadline so that I don't have to give the tickets away because I'm unworthy of such a reward.

Oh, and thanks to everyone on the "leave the lid on" egg-boiling tip: it really works!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:18 PM 3 comments

Eggs as WOMD

Friday, July 27, 2007

Okay, if you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that sometimes I can get...focused and lose track of things. Like running water in a bathtub or where that important piece of paper is. And now that I'm in the final stretch of getting all the revisions in on H&B, everything else has fallen by the wayside.

Case in point: Thursday, July 26, 2007, 8:15 a.m.

Since I had purchased two cartons of eggs at once in order to enter a contest (hey, I could win $10,000), I thought it would be a good idea to boil a few of them up for breakfast. Now I'm pretty darn particular when it comes to hard-boiled eggs: they have to be hard-boiled. No soggy areas or runny bits for me; they have to be solid. So I let them boil for at least five minutes, even if it's not environmentally friendly.

The DH was heading out the door when he called out, "Want me to turn these off?"

I was downstairs working through the edits, but still I heard him and replied, "It's okay, I'll be right up."

At this point I really have no idea how much time had passed but I had revised about six pages when I heard a loud bang. I raced up the stairs to the kitchen and I saw wisps of smoke and little bits of eggshell on the floor. The scent of roasted, not burnt, eggs hung heavy in the air.

Flipping off the element, I dared to peek into the pot on the stove.

One egg, a little brown on parts of its shell, sat in the bone-dry pot. The other, now in little bits all over the pot, stove and kitchen floor, was just a memory.

Had I known that this high source of protein could be considered a weapon of mass destruction, I would never have left them unattended. Heck, I would have fried up some bacon instead.

So this morning, I stuck with Special K. Because it's safer.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:54 AM 7 comments

Just do it already

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Michelle has read Eat That Frog, a book about battling procrastination that I might just have to borrow from her, but I think I might use reading that book as a delay tactic.

Things on H&B are still moving along, though at a slower pace as my penmanship leaves a lot to be desired. It's all getting on the page, no matter how many wrinkles I get from all this squinting.

But you're not here to read about my horrible handwriting and less-than-stellar eyesight: you came over here to find out how the Loud Cell Phone Babe is doing.

Oh yes, today was a very special day here in Etobicoke when I happened to board a bus that Petunia* was already on. Remember her?

And I haven't seen her in, like, ages.

"Yeah, so I was at the club and he's totally there, pretending like he
doesn't know me. After we got busted together and everything."

Obviously she's mispronouncing the verb "bustiering," since I'm sure she's talking about drag queen auditions given the amount of makeup she has on. And the silver platform shoes.

"...I was so wasted that night..."

Oops, looks like she's following the LinLo path.

"But at least they're not fake like Sally's..."

Poor Sally. I wonder if she knows what Petunia is saying about her. And that she's got those nasty platforms on while she's saying it.

While I would have loved to find out if the short, skinny, older boyfriend was the one who dissed her at the club, I didn't want to miss my stop.

Sometimes the reality train just passes people matter how loud they're talking.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:33 PM 0 comments

Step by step...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oh great, now I've got that New Kids song stuck in my head. Time for a dance break:

Whew, that was close. I could have been totally overcome by acne again.

Where was I? Oh yes, steps:

Query letter - DUN
Revised synopsis - DUN
Online edits - not done...but getting there

Good news: I can still read my handwriting so I'm making good progress.

Bad news: the universe keeps on throwing other stuff in the way, like magazine article due dates and revisions. And don't even get me started on the mass of important junk piled around the house -- that's decor.

Good news: I'm remaining focused and know that I'm on track.

Bad news: I'm not gonna be able to start Harry Potter until next week.

Good news: I love this song:

See you on the other side of page 300 tomorrow. 'Night.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:45 PM 3 comments

Willing to do anything else

Monday, July 23, 2007

Yesterday I found myself doing laundry, sorting through my coupon file and making broccoli soup from scratch. It must mean that I'm progressing too quickly for subconscious to handle.

After a good start and a nice bout of Sunday sleeping-in, I raced (okay, meandered) over to the keyboard and continued entering the H&B changes. While my goal for the day was to hit page 200, I felt completely tapped out by page 193. Not too shabby, I thought at around 3:00 p.m. as I took a " wee break."

That's when I discovered all of these things that I wanted to do. Never before had laundry seemed so appealing. Homemade soup with fresh Ontario produce? Yummy! Catching about four episodes of Design Superstar Challenge? Why not? I could always claim this as research for my next novel...

I think I know what triggered this bout of non-writingness: my query letter. Here's my first draft:

Dear agent,

Please represent me. I have a good book, which took me forever to write. It's
just like Harry Potter...except without the wizards, school and Alan Rickman. Oh,
that's the movie version. Well, you know what I mean.

I ran my manuscript through spellcheck and there are hardly any typos. And
the ones left in I'm keeping for dramatic effect. Oh, did I mention this is a
chick-lit novel? Some parts are even funny. My girlfriend really likes it and
she hates just about everything else out there.



P.S. I also have a blog.

Okay, it might need a little bit of tweaking, though I am tempted to keep the Harry Potter line in.

I'm kidding. For now.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:28 PM 4 comments

Offline edits COMPLETE!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

You read it here first. Sure, I pick the day when everyone in the universe is reading Harry Potter (no spoilers please), but still, I'm very excited!

As of 6:45 p.m. today I completed the last offline edits of H&B, leaving just over a week to get all of these changes into a Word document before my self-imposed deadline of August 1, 2007. Stamp saved.

A huge heap of thanks must go to Michelle, who has threatened me with something I am actually fearful of if I let this deadline pass without getting this bloody manuscript done. It's so evil I can't put it into words, I'm escarded.

So, to signify this major step on the road to completing H&B, here's a song parody inspired by the image of Elvis that Amy posted on her blog a while back. She selected Love Me Tender as her song of choice, so I present...

On a Bender

On a bender
On the street
Feeling like a ‘ho
Those last 14 drinks were sweet
Now I’m outta dough

On a bender
Sad but true
Stomach contents spilled
Oh my darlin’ I’m confused
And I feel so ill

On a bender
Been so long
Liver’s torn apart
And my flugah* hurts so much
Wished I didn’t start

On a bender
Wine and beer
And some bad moonshine
Alcohol seeps through my tears
I don’t have a dime

(When sobriety hits you
Darling this I know
Memories may not ring true
But your friends will know)

* This term was used in a description my Amy, though it appears it can take the form of a verb, noun or facial expression depending on the way it's used.

Now I must dash off to rock the Word doc. I'll provide updates.

UPDATE: Have reached page 116 as of Sunday at 12:32 a.m.! Listening to Duran Duran's Rio over and over again is really helping me for some reason. It almost makes me forget that I'm missing The Police reunion concert this weekend. Le sigh. Now I will save the file and dance.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 7:16 PM 6 comments

What's that smell?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

They (whoever they are) say that when you lose one sense, the others strengthen to make up the difference. As I lost my senses of practicality, logic and good television viewing, my sense of smell has increased at least by about 2%.

Tonight, after working through the final pages of H&B, I decided to stop before writing the final two scenes, not quite an epilogue but the denouement or, how I like to say it, the daewoomon. When I called my friend SP to share the good news, she informed me that I was procrastinating. So I hung up on her...after chatting for another half-hour or so. ;)

But still I wasn't ready to approach those last pages, so I ran upstairs to my "work" computer (the one that doesn't have the bookmarks of all the contests I enter, and not the writing ones) and proceeded to sort out some files and respond to emails.

Then I smelled something...wrong. It was just a whiff, but I knew something bad was happening somewhere. So I felt around the computer, thinking that I'd finally received enough spam about viagra to make my computer melt. Nope, everything was way cool on that PC.

So I checked out the stereo, where Madonna was hanging out all decked out in plastic bracelets and bad-nasty torn leggings. She might have thought she was hot, but there was nothing else happening there apart from a clever hook and a funky backbeat.

The smell was at the top of the stairs. So I called down to DH, who was so engrossed in an eBay auction for vintage windshield wipers or even a life-size Wookie doll (Christmas is only a few months away...maybe more) that he didn't hear me.

I climbed down two more steps and shouted, "I think something's on fire!"

That's when I noticed that it was awfully dark at the top of the stairs...and it wasn't just the warm summer air making the top floor of our wee home stifling. Afraid to flip the switch, I went back to turn off Madonna completely by putting a Clay Aiken CD case next to hers. The computer was next, without the necessity of a WWJD reference.

As it turns out, my super-schnoz detected an electrical fire in the early stages. In the light that I like to leave on when we go away for weekends or longer trips so the house looks "lived in." Oh yeah, if that hunk of whatchamacallit decided to melt when we were up in cottage country, we might have returned home to a pile of ashes.

Lesson learned? Use timers and fork out cash for lighting fixtures that cost more than $9, no matter how nice they look.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:21 AM 8 comments

The need for feed

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

So there I was, minding my own business, working my way through the last batch of nasty H&B pages when I found myself placing my heroine in yet another restaurant.

Can you believe it? After all the ripping out of other eating scenes and scenarios involving food I discovered that I had written these words last night:

The second plate of fries wasn't as tasty as the first, but I nibbled at them anyway.

Oh. My. Gawd. Is it possible for me to write 10 pages before I start referring to every food item that I'm craving at the time? Do I need to take diet pills just to stop this high-carb writing?

Not only will this type of writing leave my heroine at over 700 pounds by the end of the book again, Weight Watchers will ban this novel as it would be cruel and inhumane punishment for their members to read it. Le sigh.

Apparently old habits die hard. It would be hilarious though if this was turned into a movie. All the location scouts would have to do is find about 14 restaurants of varying price points and they'd be covered.

Maybe it's time to stop for a snack...

posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:37 PM 2 comments

The final chapter

Monday, July 16, 2007

The muse was kind to me this weekend (the lack of television viewing probably helped with that a lot) and I now have a mere 20-0r-so pages left to completely rewrite before I put all of the revisions into zee H&B Word doc.

If only my brain didn't feel like I've been working the Customer Service desk at a Wal-Mart for a month. My mind is fried. The inspiration train left only a few empty chip bags and the aroma of burning diesel behind. And no, not Vin Diesel, though he's so not my type.

So what I need now is a game plan to get back on the revision horse. And, thanks to a my overindulgent eating habits at the cottage, bribing myself with food is not an option. There is one thing that should inspire me to get everything -- computer edits and all -- by, say, July 22: the last Harry Potter.

I wouldn't be the only one planning a media and entire-life blackout as we struggle to remember to breathe as J.K. takes us on this final trip to Hogwarts. Yeah, I'm just like all of the other freaks who pre-ordered the book so I can show up at a bookstore at midnight to get a lightening-scar tattoo and drink some Polywog potion. Oddly enough, it tastes just like Orange Kool-Aid. ;)

Of course, I should be spending what precious little time I have left before Book 7's arrival sorting everything out to make room for dedicated reading time. Namely finishing H&B and that blasted query letter. Thankfully the synopsis is done (yay me!) so that's one less heinous activity I need to take care of before I'm swept away like the dimwitted Muggle that I am.

Okay, back to the rewrite...and I will celebrate its completion by posting a lovely Elvis song parody for Amy.

UPDATE: Thanks to The Grammar Geek I found a new way to pass some time:

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:24 PM 2 comments

Dr. Phil killed my TV

Saturday, July 14, 2007

This is a true story. That crazy therapist used some type of power to bust our household's ONLY television set. Let me share the whole story with you so that you fully understand the impact this one Southern man can have on electronics.

I was experiencing a very productive Friday. Two interviews had been completed, my invoicing for the week was done and I had even taken out yet another eating scene from H&B. As 2:45 hit, I felt the need for a good break.

And there's no better way to take a break from interviewing plastic surgeons and jewelery retailers than with an hour of watching people too stupid to live.

So I made up a plate of veggies (with more dip than necessary) and settled down in front of the Staring television set. The DH was out running errands so I knew I would be able to talk back to the TV undisturbed. The theme song played and Dr. Phil introduced the topic:

Some woman with five gazillion kids was going to be reunited with them even though she was behind bars.

"You've gotta be kidding me," I muttered as a reached for another carrot stick.

Images of the children and the prisoner, whose crime hadn't been mentioned yet, flew by as Dr. Phil started talking about how important it was to explain situations to children so that they understand cause and effect.

Then the screen turned green and fizzled out.

Talk about cause and effect. I could still hear voices, but the picture was gone. Turning the set on and off only yielded the same spooky green image and then darkness. An unseen child cried as a tear slipped down my cheek.

The DH was totally going to blame this on me, so my only hope of surviving the investigation was to pin this on Dr. Phil. But how?

First, I made sure the TV was set to the same channel, hoping that just the sound of Dr. Phil's voice, if the DH arrived back within the hour, would be all the proof he needed. And then I memorized a few Dr. Philisms that I could work into our conversation about the damaged set:

"How's that working for you so far?"

"Are you kidding me?"

"We're gonna solve this, no matter how long it takes."

When the DH arrived home, I stayed at the computer, hoping that my latest spritz of Febreeze's Innoscent Mist would keep me out of trouble.

"What's that smell?" he asked.

"Hmm?" I blinked a few times, which made him suspicious.

"I'm surprised you're not watching Dr. Phil right now. Bad topic?"

I turned away from the computer screen to give him the news. "Dr. Phil broke the TV."

The DH stared and then laughed. "Sure he did." He picked up the remote and the good doctor's voice filled the room. He was talking about rehab and parole violations, but it didn't matter.

"Are you kidding me?" DH asked, taking one of my lines.

"How's that working for you so far?" I asked him right back.

He did a double-take because I ended up using a Southern accent.

"We're gonna solve this, no matter how long it takes," he said, adding his own accent and tossing the remote in the bin. "No more episodes of The White Rapper Show for you."

My jaw dropped. "No!"

"Oh yes. No TV until the novel is done."

Did I mention that Friday was also our 16th wedding anniversary? It's the only reason he's alive right now.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:15 AM 0 comments

10 meals in as many pages

Friday, July 13, 2007

I've reached what I refer to as the never-ending-buffet portion of H&B. Seriously. While I thought I had removed most of the scenes involving food, the hunger strike ended at around page 285. Not only does my heroine go to a few restaurants, other characters show up on her doorstep with takeout! It's frightening how much that woman can eat. I must have been dieting when I wrote this or something.

Although I'm not nearly at the same pace as those unplugged days of yore, I'm still working on those darn edits. And what's helping me get through them is the realization that there will be further edits down the road anyway, so I shouldn't sweat it too much.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm still trying to get the best story possible on the page, but it doesn't have to be PERFECT. In fact, it never will be because there's always something you could do to make it better. I think that's what drives writers to drink.

That being said, part of me is tempted to run H&B by the betas again, but I don't think I'll have the strength to deal with doing another draft before this goes out the door. Book 2 is now demanding some attention and sneaking into my thoughts when I'm not focused on the current beast before me. Oh, that's H&B to whom I'm referring, not the DH. ;)

And I can't wait to start writing that new one, which I've promised myself won't take forever and a day like H&B. Okay, it's only been 2-1/2 years, give or take, but that's not the length of time I want to spend on each book. It's not like I'm a 39-year-old anymore. ;)

I think what I'm struggling with is trying to find a schedule that works for me and my writing. As I'm already writing most of the time, whether for ad copy or magazine articles, it's hard to find a way to continue sitting at the keyboard without doing anything but writing. Would having specific "writing hours" work?

How do any of you crazy people deal with getting solid writing time in without doing it all during the wee hours and weekends?

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:03 AM 2 comments

I love my men weird

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

There. I said it. Put it out there with a can of silly string and rainbow-coloured legwarmers to boot. Last night the DH and I sat in the SECOND ROW at Massey Hall and thrilled in Weird Al's...weirdness...

It was loud. It was hilarious. Streamers and fake $100 bills fell from the ceiling at different parts during the show. I swear, the man had more costume changes than Cher's last tour. My sides still ache from laughing and cheering simultaneously.

The wildest part was that my cousin, who told me about the show, ended up in seats right behind the DH and I. Talk about a cruel twist of fate -- especially since the DH is rather tall -- lucky for those behind us we left the beach hats at home.

And how did this help me work through the last of the H&B pages? Uh, it didn't. Nor did completing three interviews for two magazine articles with due dates approaching quickly. Oh, and I caught most of a The White Rapper Show episode today...and entered 598 contests. ;)

But just because I've fallen off the wagon doesn't mean I can't get back onto it, even though Canada's Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance and that new show with Wayne Brady and messed-up song lyrics are all on tonight. Le sigh.

That's what VCRs are for. The DH has even abandoned me (so that "his breathing doesn't bug me") to go see the new Harry Potter film. Without me!

I have no one to blame but myself though. I told him that I wouldn't go unless I was done the offline edits -- and I'm not. So here I am, doing a blog entry instead.

Makes perfect sense to me. ;)

posted by Bonnie Staring at 6:42 PM 0 comments

50 pages left

Monday, July 9, 2007

As impossible as I thought it would be, I actually survived being offline for 4-3/4 days. Of course, being in a cottage in Northern Ontario without a computer or Internet access does help things. ;)

And even though I didn't get to the very end of the book, I've learned some very important lessons when it comes to writing a novel:

1. Just sit down and write it.
2. Perfection is pointless.
3. Even if you think it's horrid, keep at it.

Imagine my surprise to discover I was able to review and revise 270 pages over the course of four days. And no, I wasn't up 24/7; I actually slept in and stopped for meals and the occasional game of The Apprentice, which is so tacky I was tempted to bring it home but the DH stopped me. On Sunday night we turned off the lights in order to witness an evening thunderstorm in all its glory.

Hmm. Does this mean I need to unplug more often? All signs point to "yes."

Of course, I still need to get those last 50 pages done...and then get all the edits/new pages into the Word doc...and then, and then...

But I'm out of excuses. I need to get working on Book Two, Book Three and those magazine columns I keep on talking about pitching. Oh yeah, and I was looking at taking over the world sometime in 2010. ;)

So I will start sending out queries by the end of this month. For H&B. This month as in July. 2007. Life is too short to put this off. Anyway, I promised the chipmunks I'd do it, so now I really have to.

Thanks for the kind words Heather and Laura!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:56 PM 10 comments

Crawling into a cave

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I haven't been working on my blog-posting skills and this week will see this trend continue.

Why? Because I've been called to the Bat Cave to get the last round of edits done on H&B so that I can finally start shopping it around. It's a very exciting time! I've cleared off the calendar, purchased vast quantities of Diet Coke...and non-messy snack foods since I'll be dealing with hard copy and no one likes it when things get sticky. Especially if a red pen is involved.

So I'm not gonna be posting anything for the rest of the week. I know, it's like I've turned 40 and suddenly I'm focused on important things like finishing this damn novel, which was supposed to have been completed last summer. Le sigh.

Just think, over the past year alone tons of writers out there have polished off oodles of books. And sold them! Hard-working zealots. It's as if they actually make time to write or something.


I guess I should take my lesson from them and step out of the running to be Canada's Next Top Procrastinator...but I really wanted to get that Lazy Boy furniture set and the editorial spread in Slouch magazine.

There's always next year. ;)

To my American friends, have a great Independence Day! See you next week!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:27 PM 2 comments

Canada's Next Top Procrastinator

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I'm halfway through Day 2 of the long weekend and my To Do list is stuck in a corner somewhere, collecting dust and hanging out with an April 2005 issue of Writer's Digest magazine. You know, the one with the important article in it that I was gonna read right away? Sigh.

Despite the DH's whirlwind of housecleaning, there are still piles of junk littering areas of the house. He likes to tell our friends and family, "Bonnie has piles."

I love him, so he continues to live.

So here it is, a nice summer day that would allow me to mow the lawn without needing ambulatory care due to heat exhaustion, and I'm downstairs at the computer, working on an article that I was supposed to have done ages ago.

Only I'm not at the computer: I'm on the couch, watching The White Rapper Show.

How I've sunk to this new low I have no idea. But I'll blame Tyra Banks and Jay Manuel for it anyway. Why? Because being Canada's Next Top Procrastinator is so easy. Just look at the lame stuff I've had to do just to get to the final three:

Week One: Found a contract for an article that I was supposed to have signed back in March. Send it in a week before the article was due in late May.

Week Two: Household survives for two weeks on packaged food alone because of lost coupon organizer. Scurvy sets in; DH now talks like a pirate. All the time.

Week Three: End up in the bottom two by completing an insane assignment for a client ON TIME. Miss being cast out of the running as I let everything else fall behind while working on this one thing.

Week Four: Able to braid leg hair.

Week Five: Now consider dust bunnies as pets and feel less lonely when the DH is at work. Start a new pile of important papers under dining room table.

Week Six: Stop watering lawn so grass will die and the need to mow will suddenly disappear. Arrange lawn furniture to cover up the nastier-looking areas. Then take a long nap.

Week Seven: YouTube

Week Eight: Any self-imposed deadlines for H&B have come and gone, leaving only the fear of turning 40 without a completed novel there to egg me on. Oh, you know how that one went. 40 arrived with much fanfare -- but without a final draft.

What lies ahead for me in the final two rounds, I'm not sure. But I'm confident that I have the skills necessary to not only slide under the bar, I'll find away to step around it and still end up with a strawberry daiquiri somehow.

Now that's talent.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 5:59 PM 0 comments