Saturday, February 26, 2005

Uncozy Domesticity

I was going to put off posting to the blog today until I could write something properly substantial, but apparently substance is not forthcoming. Instead, I'm going to draw your attention to a total time-waster, which I discovered thanks to Blogger's list of Sites Which Caught Their Metaphorical or Collective Eyes (or whatever). (You know, I'm not sure why I even hyperlinked "Blogger" there. It's not like you can't navigate to Blogger from about five different places on this page. Anyway.)

What I found is called Things I Hate About My Flatmate, and I'm dedicating this find to anyone who's ever had a roommate they couldn't stand. Be sure to read the sidebar quotes, and note the amusing pictures.

I had annoying roommates once upon a time, until I decided I was done with that action. That was back in college when I lived in dorm- and co-op-land. This eventually motivated me to move into a studio apartment and live alone, which was much better, except for the time the termites swarmed in through my window, but that's another story. Then my boyfriend (now my husband) and I moved in with some housemates, but they were good and non-irritating people. Some had quirks, like eating Hamburger Helper or Red Baron frozen pizza every single day, or owning a five-foot red plastic bong, but hey, that's college (or post-college) for you. Rob and I ate far too much Hamburger Helper in those days, too.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust

Well, while I was gone in sunny Southern California this weekend, visiting my parents, I received a "no, thank you" from Boyds Mills Press. They said my novel doesn't sound right for their list. But hey--Bloomsbury Children's Books should be reviewing my manuscript as we speak. Or at least, it should be sitting in a non-slushy pile on someone's desk. That is, if they haven't rejected me outright due to one of the following gloom-and-doom paranoid reasons:

  • Because I chose to send my work in a padded envelope instead of a manuscript box.
  • Because I hand-wrote the FedEx mailing slip instead of typing it, and used that instead of my ink-jet printed mailing labels.
  • Because perhaps somebody drop-kicked my package while it was in transit and it's now in less-than-pristine condition.
  • Because I was too cocky in the cover letter.
  • Because I ventured to include artwork ideas, though I emphasized that they were merely suggestions and made sure to note that I am also an artist.
  • Because my second rubber band broke, so there's only one skinny little one holding the whole humongoid thing together.
  • Because the book is just too damn long.
  • Because of some other manuscript-submission faux pas that I can't even imagine.

Yes, these paranoid what-if situations are all pre-reading. Possible post-reading reasons for rejection could be:

  • Again, it's just too damn long.
  • Not original enough.
  • Not edgy enough.
  • Wendy cries too much (although, in all fairness, her grandma does have cancer).
  • The characters are dim-witted (though perhaps they only seem that way because I already know what's going to happen).
  • Not enough excitement and adventure.
  • Too cerebral (a problem which seems to afflict my non-fiction).

So now you've caught a glimpse into what's going to be repeatedly running through my head for the next month or however long it takes for Bloomsbury to get back to me. Sigh. Time to start looking for other possibilities--that's not paranoid; it's only practical.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Mass Communication

Would y'all please let me know if you'd like a gmail account? I've suddenly been blessed with a crapload of invitations. By crapload, I mean 50. I'm not even sure I know 50 people.

A Rapid Drive to Crazyville

I had a truly bizarre experience yesterday: the shortest DMV visit in the history of the world. I had to renew my driver's license, and made an appointment with the online system last week. From the time I left my car in the parking lot to the time I returned to my car, exactly twenty minutes had elapsed; this included writing out a check, taking the eye exam, and getting a new picture taken. Of course, these are DMV minutes, and it was 3 in the afternoon, so 20 minutes felt like about twice that, with all the teenagers in mohawks, clamoring children rolling on the ground, disconsolate people without appointments waiting in the nasty line, and constant announcements of "now serving B72 at window 15." But I was out of there so quickly, and they seemed so pleased I'd actually bothered to make an appointment, so they were relatively non-surly.

So that didn't drive me to crazyville. What did drive me to crazyville, finally, was Internet Explorer. As a result, I have just minutes ago made the jump to Mozilla's Firefox browser. It's got a very clean look and feel, and though I'm still getting used to the new layout of my menus and favorites, at least it actually imported all of my stuff from IE. This is my latest attempt to avoid the spyware which seems to be a constant plague. Boo on spyware producers! Boo!! You've caused me to waste precious hours of my life fiddling with things I probably should be leaving to experienced professionals!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Mini-Break

I haven't posted in a week. Very bad. I've been thinking of the blog, though, even if I haven't been posting to it. I've been thinking of experimenting with Moveable Type's free software, because apparently there's no way to get multiblogs working on blogspot. My only issue is web space--mine is limited on my personal site--though I have been itching to redesign yet again (and bring myself up to XHTML standards). So, we'll see. I'll probably end up experimenting on a tiny corner of my site because I'm all cautious and crap.

In other blog news, my attention was recently drawn to this blog by two guys working in Iraq called I Should Have Stayed Home. Some interesting firsthand perspectives and amazing details; pictures, too.

Lastly, in terms of links I've neglected to post, is the website of my new idol. Maybe I'm in the wrong profession.

Speaking of my profession, I ought to get back to my constant attempts to jump-start it. The latest attempt is one last try at the Modesto Bee--a montly Community Columnist gig. And some good news is that my manuscript has been sent off to Bloomsbury via FedEx. Now I have to try not to stress and obsess over the next few months, wondering if I committed some kind of faux pas in my choice of envelope, or if I should have mailed it in a box instead, or if I sounded too cocky in my cover letter, etc. etc. Presumably they're more interested in what my novel might be able to do for them and less interested in my packaging decisions, but you never know.

So yeah, back to these columns. Then I have to really start thinking about putting a sample writer's/artist's website together so I can actually market that service. I didn't spend last summer slogging through my first real web design project for nothing.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Unexpected Guests

I bet you didn't know that there are still two plumbers at our house.

They showed up around 11:30 this morning, and with the exception of three or four emergency trips to the hardware store, have been here ever since. Apparently our sink is lame, the water filter is lame, the pipes are lame, the fittings are lame, the tools from the hardware store are lame, and yes, our new faucet is lame. Our new faucet is so lame, in fact, that one of the plumbers said "Rob, if your faucet was a dude, I'd kick its ass."

Drip by Drip

As our plumbing fiasco escalates into a veritable nightmare of kitchen inconvenience that is spreading tentacles of evil into the rest of the house, I continue to edit my manuscript.

The revision process is a like a gradual chipping away, a drip-erosion of the monolith of words. It's not that mysterious, really. For me it entails a lot of nit-picky things like changing commas to semicolons; eliminating retarded words that nobody would ever really use, such as "delight;" cramming in whole new scenes that may or may not work; and fervent hoping that it won't sound as lame to the editor as it does to me now after reading it hundreds of times.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Piece o' Crap

We've been having this kitchen-related plumbing fiasco which some of you already know about. A while after we replaced the filters in our reverse osmosis system, we noticed a leak under the kitchen sink. This leak has grown from a small drip we hoped was a mere temporary side effect of the filter change, to a rather sizeable trickle.

So, we looked under there and saw that one of the pipes is corroded and leaking. Since we were planning, sooner or later, to get our portable dishwasher plumbed in properly, we figured maybe now was a good time to call a plumber and have him do both of these things, plus replace the grotty old faucet fixture with a new one, and put in a new reverse osmosis system that isn't an off-off-off-brand. This is not the fiasco yet.

The fiasco is that I called on Monday to make a semi-emergency appointment with the plumbing company we usually use (by "usually" I mean we used them once when we first moved in here). They set up an appointment with a guy named Rich for Tuesday between 11 and 1 in the day. Unfortunately, 1:15 rolled around and there was still no sign of Rich. I called the plumbing company and they said, well, we left him a message, but haven't heard from him either. Here's his direct line so you can leave him a message, too. Thinking that perhaps something would be accomplished through sheer bombardment with phone messages, I called and left another one. Rich finally called back and said that someone had called in sick that day and everyone else had to take over the sick person's appointments, so he was running way behind. Thus, we agreed to take an appointment this morning, at 9 am, the earliest available appointment--no delays for us this time, thank you very much.

But no. No, I should have known something was up when I left the house this morning at 9:10 and Rich wasn't here yet. After finishing lunch with friends--well after 1:30--I called Rob and he dolefully informed me that Rich hadn't come yet again. He had not come, it turned out, because he had been sick and failed to show up for work, and also failed to actually call in sick, and so consequently had been fired. Rad.

So now, our plumber from two years ago, Cleve (who now runs the company), is going to come on Sunday morning and presumably offer us an amazing discount in return for not defecting to Roto-Rooter or some other corporate plumbing entity.

I like Cleve, but I still have my fingers crossed. I do not want another appointment time to be, so to speak, flushed down the toilet. Let's see; how many plumbing jokes can I make? I don't want to fall prey to another Rich, who befouled the pristine porcelain of the plumber-customer relationship with the waste-matter of employee irresponsibility. Okay, that's enough.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Partial Success...Or Potential For...Or Something

So, um. I have a story.

I got one of my novel proposal SASE's in the mail today, and, bracing myself for the bad news that inevitably arrives couched in an SASE, I opened it.

Please note that I sent my two novel proposals---SENT them--on Jan. 14. Boyds Mills Press promised a one-month reply. Bloomsbury said "Please allow 20 weeks" or some such horrible (but not unusual) time frame. In the SASE was a brief letter from Bloomsbury Children's Books, beginning "Dear Author." (This is usually not a good thing, in my experience.) But the letter went on to say:

"Thank you for sending a summary of your manuscript. The sample materials look intriguing, so please send the entire manuscript to my attention and we'll be glad to read it in full. We look forward to hearing from you."

Then it was hand-signed by the Editorial Assistant and included a little handwritten P.S. with a book she thought I might enjoy.

AAAAAAAAACK!!!!!!! I believe that this is very good news. The not-as-good news is, this means I have to edit the rest of the novel RIGHT NOW, as opposed to taking that 20 weeks they implied I would have. However, this is not-so-good-news I can live with.