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March 2014

This one will be super quick because ack, deadlines!!

I'm just taking the writing one day at a time. Trying not to think about all the work still ahead, the days ticking away. Despite the worries, March has been amazingly productive. I finished revisions on the first part of Dark Metropolis 2 and got a decent jump, 4k or so, on the second part. I'm really into writing it, like, truly, love these characters and I feel like in my head I am shipping all of them. Sometimes I'm like, Nan and Thea's friendship is so cute I almost wish they were the lesbians! Sebastian protecting Freddy--d'aww, they could make out right now and it wouldn't feel wrong! Ooh, now Nan and Freddy are making an awfully good team together. And how about Sigi over here with her childhood friend, who doesn't love that?

I don't really know why I keep thinking about it like this. I've never had a group of characters where I feel like I could pair them off in so many different ways and it could work. But in the book, it will be normal-ish. Ha!

I also started an Alfred & Olivia rewrite as a reward for getting the DM2 recount done. I am really tearing it up. In fact, from here on out I am referring it to the Magical Mafia book because I'm realizing that even though A&O are the cutest, their romance isn't really the focus, it's really more of a fantasy family drama.

When this year started, I felt as if maybe I was really getting my writing mojo back, but I wasn't sure...however, so far, so good. I've really been loving what I do in a way I haven't since the fall of 2012.

Also a good Ebay month: $1802 in sales. I've managed to keep from dipping into my savings much at all so as long as everything can hold together, I'm good for a while, enough that I felt confident planning a trip to BEA and not in a really hard-up way: I'm taking Amtrak, not the bus! I'm staying with friends who rented an apartment near the Javits where I will sleep on an actual bed or sofa bed! It's going to be amaaaaaazing!

Didn't read much. I finished Far From You and The Nightingale's Nest, which were both good. But a book in two weeks, not the reading I hope for, and all my ALA books are still taunting and tempting!
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February Roundup

This is what I do now. I roundup. Once a month.

But this will be short because I have an editorial letter for Dark Metropolis 2! Yay! It came on Monday. This also means I finally got to talk to my new editor Tracey for the first time. Just like my sister, she loves birds. She even goes to the same bird place in Florida that I've been to with my sister, when she visits family in Florida. So cool! I'm thrilled with her edits. She presents her edits in such a way that is very compatible with how I organize my thoughts, so it was super easy-peasy to jump in. I totally get what she's saying. Also relieved that what I turned in was apparently pretty decent. I have work to do, but it's only a couple of weeks worth...EXCEPT, then, I really only turned in half a book and a synopsis, and she wants the rest of the book to be a part of this book and not a third book. I completely agree with the reasoning and I think it'll be kind of awesome to have a big epic conclusion to the story. It's just...a lot of work. Not worried yet, but must stay very disciplined. Luckily, so far, 2014 continues to be much more of a "back to my old creative self" kind of year.

Postcard sales: $1660. Quite respectable, especially considering I had pretty cruddy stuff to list and it was a short month. I did spend $700 on fresh inventory so my finances are a bit pained.

Reading: Once again, I read 4 books this month. Groan. But I might finish one or two more tonight. I'm at the end of two different books. I'm just going to count them for February, like, seriously. 6 books, okay? That's better! Last month was Eleanor & Park, this month Fangirl...okay, Rainbow Rowell. I love you. I hate you a little bit, too, because you're so good and WHY is it so good and not just boring but it is, and your writing teases me into thinking "I could write like this, I have some stories kind of like this"...then I feel sure I will never pull off such a thing. The best books always feel like that.

I've been doing pretty well with yoga, except it is so unrelentingly cold that it remains difficult to warm a room up enough to shed enough sweaters to move that much. Same old story. I can't wait for spring, but I promised Dade not to complain about the cold because of smug Floridians on Facebook. This isn't Facebook, though, there are only like 10 of you left or something on LJ, haha, and I think you all know by now that I am not yearning for heat or beaches or tropical anything. I yearn for the drama of spring breaking through the cold and the mountains turning green as a tourist brochure for Ireland. However--we're expecting "significant snowfall" on Monday, so it'll have to wait.
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January Roundup

January went quite well. A good start to the year!

Money: I sold $2230 worth of postcards, smashing my previous record of $1820. I wish every month was like this! I also sold about $300 of other stuff, so all told for once I actually did make enough to cover the month's expenses, except for taxes. A single postcard sold for $156, which is the first time I've gotten a true "Can you BELIEVE THIS?" postcard sale. (My previous record was $48.)

But I also started working on my taxes and it is so colossally depressing, it spiraled me into a dark hole I couldn't climb out of all night. I literally just climbed in bed and shivered for half an hour at the thought of having no money again, and we haven't even started edits on Dark Metropolis 2 so that check is a ways off. I am just praying Dark Metropolis does well and gets some foreign will take a while for all that to shake out, but at least I'll have some sense of "I can do this for now, because it will be okay eventually". I don't know how people live like this all their lives, like some people do, working hard, harder than I do, and not being able to pay the bills. I so worry that will be me. It's so exhausting.

Writing: At least early buzz for Dark Metropolis has been good! I have an ARC giveaway running at my blog right now: I've been feeling a little more like a writer this year than the past two harried years (which makes me more resentful of my other job, but such is the life I guess). I'm having trouble settling into a new project that really feels right. But I am, at least, excited about like five different projects. One of them just needs to stand out as "the one". Right now I'm rewriting Alfred & Olivia again. I talked to Jenn about it at ALA and she said it just doesn't feel big compared to Dark Metropolis. I hadn't even looked at it much since I started writing DM, and when I took it out now, I realized how much I've learned. It seems very bloated with unnecessary stuff, among other problems that now seem glaringly obvious. I know I can fix all that, but I hope I can also make it feel "big". I'll probably talk about these realizations in more detail over on the Blogspot soon. The other projects I've dabbled in are:
--A high fantasy romance that is a complete and total reworking of "On Borrowed Wings", an older project, I have always loved Syri and Maria and I still want to tell their story!
--Glam rock faeries in 1972! I keep thinking this sounds so silly but could also be very fun and commercial. I know hot-but-at-odds brothers are involved. Who doesn't love that? And the protagonist is a big fantasy/sci-fi reader/writer. It's like Fangirl + Moonrise Kingdom + Labyrinth + NANA + Vampire Diaries + Almost Famous. Har.
--My first novel, Selkie Rock, rewritten as a middle grade.
--The witch middle grade. I love the concept and setting of this book but something is wrong with the voice. I'm wondering if it might be better told from Thornley's POV? Or maybe I need to just go to 2 POVs, third person, like how I've been writing everything lately?? I feel like it's easier to get a larger scope with that, even if it's close 3rd.
--A short memoir of my radical education for other unschoolers/unschooler parents.

Gosh, I need to make more time to write somehow.

Reading: Not doing any better than last year. I've finished a mere 4 books this year. But at least the books I read were good ones. Eleanor & Park and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were both AMAZING.

ALA: Just what I needed!!! I got in Friday night and stayed with Shveta Thrakar. We stayed up until 3 am talking about everything under the sun so I barely got any sleep but I was so buzzed, it didn't matter. Then she dropped me off at the conference where I hooked up with Ilene Wong (whose 2015 book I'm very excited to read--a YA "Middlesex"!) for two days of prowling the floor, grabbing more ARCs than we intended, and meeting loads of people. Both of my former editors were there, and I finally got pictures of myself with them, since I had never remembered to do so at previous meetings! Cat, my Hyperion editor who is now with Bloomsbury, was adorably pregnant again and said she was considering naming her baby "Dorothea" or "Althea" because she loved the protagonist's name in Dark Metropolis! It's just a name, but I was super flattered. She asked what happened in the sequel and sounded very intrigued. I felt good about that simply because some time has passed since I turned it in and I realized my overall feeling about the book was positive and excited. Sadly, my current Hyperion editor couldn't make it, but I did get to meet some of the publicity people, who were very nice, and got to see them put out a stack of my ARCs, which was a thrill. I signed a couple of the first ones to be picked up, but then I moved on, didn't want to turn the whole booth into the Over-Excited Author show. I ran into a lot of my favorite bloggers and other writers and book people as well.

The food was good, too. Ilene and I ate at the same dim sum place and basically had the same thing two days in a row. It was a killer meal, well worth having twice. I ALREADY WANT IT AGAIN! Crab and pork soup dumplings, an amazing cucumber salad with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce (as far as I could tell), chive and pork dumplings, and sweet potato cakes with red bean paste. I wish BEA was in Philly!! I want all conventions to be in Philly!! The food around the convention center is soooo good! On Sat. we had dinner with a group. I sat across from John Dixon, who seems like a really nice guy. His book Phoenix Island looks like an excellent read for boys, I was sorry I hadn't picked up a copy at his signing earlier but I didn't know who he was at that point. On Sunday I had dinner with my agent. We were both super tired and we ordered this "beef seven ways for 2" thing at a Vietnamese place but it turned out to be a COLOSSAL amount of food. I felt horribly guilty leaving so much behind. I always love seeing Jenn, though, even if I am barely capable of coherent conversation.

Exercise: I did some yoga at the beginning of the month, but it's been so cold. It's hard to do yoga because you can't do yoga with four layers on. I've tried to get some walks in, but the cold also discourages that, so...snow shoveling??

Cleaning: I'd really like to keep the house cleaner this year, but so far it is a complete disaster area. Creative life, income, exercise and a bit of leisure are still more important than cleaning. *sigh*
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Social Media Rant Ahoy

A couple of weeks ago, jessica_shea noted that I'd really pulled back from social media these days, and asked if I was happier and did I miss it? And recently anywherebeyond posted about her social media hiatus and I left a big old comment there...big enough for a blog post.

The answer to both questions is yes. I am happier. But I do miss it. I'm lonely. I just moved to a rural area in a new state where I work at home. How am I supposed to make friends without social media? But I also find that I'm not as close to ANYONE as I used to be. Is it me? It's partly me. I've been really busy with work at the computer, and when I'm done with that, I don't really want to spend any more time on the computer. But I also got to it ALL me? Maybe not.

Then mainemilyhoon just summed up everything I was thinking, even though she had no idea I was thinking it. (The collective unconscious is cranking this week!) I used to spend a lot of time online in meaningful, conversational interaction. Livejournal, mailing lists, message boards, email and chat rooms. Almost all of those forms of interaction have now been replaced by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads...basically, websites that encourage either very short, quippy posts or the sharing of images, links, reviews and tips. I am amused and delighted by adorable cats and captions, but I am not really getting to know the person who posted them, and the meaningful stuff gets lost among all of the reposting of funny stuff and petitions and blah di blah.

What really drove this home to me was the other day when I former Livejournal friend posted on Facebook about some kind of family tragedy or illness--I couldn't quite tell what it was. If there was an earlier post about an accident or diagnosis or surgery, I missed it. A lot of people were commenting and making reference to what had happened so I don't think it was any kind of a secret, it seemed more likely that I had just been missing some updates. But I didn't want to ask. I just wished them well. But I felt bad that I no longer knew what was going on in a friend's life, likely because Facebook is too clogged with other junk and shows things selectively or in a weird order.

Today's social media also makes me feel left out...even when I'm not. Even when I was tweeting regularly, Twitter is such that you have to be on it all the time not to miss things. I would see remnants of friends talking to each other about something cool and think, "Damn, wish I'd been on Twitter when that conversation was happening! Now it's too late." Livejournal was something where comments could go on between people for days. You didn't have to be "on" Livejournal constantly to catch good moments. It also seems like a lot of Twitter is about tweeting how awesome your life is in the moment. "Woo! Having a great time at #ALAMidwinter drinking in the hotel bar with (insert 3 mega famous authors here)!" "Our plane just landed in Italy, gelati here I come!" etc etc. Which always makes me feel like everyone is having an awesome jet-setting life but me. It's different when someone blogs about a trip. It's like, if your friend went on vacation, came home and gives you a call to tell you about it vs. your friend calls you from a restaurant, describes her delicious meal and then hangs up, leaving you to stare despondently at your frozen pizza. Am I being neurotic and competitive? Probably. But I just...never USED to feel that way, certainly not to this degree. No doubt, the nature of online interaction HAS changed drastically and obviously the new way does suit a lot of people, but it doesn't suit me.

I have been pondering solutions to this problem, though. More later.
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(no subject)

I was going to post about the garden on Facebook and then I was like, NOOO, post on LJ so you can reference it next year! So, here is the status on everything:

Sugar snap peas and English peas: Looking gorgeous!
Curly and winterbor kale: Also looking gorgeous! The curly kale I planted from seed has grown almost as big as the winterbor I bought as a seedling, so next year there should be no need to buy a kale seedling. I've been thinning out one curly kale seedling into my mouth every day. Yum!!!
Eggplant seedling: In the ground for a few days now. This seedling totally wilted in the window while hardening off. I watered it and it kind of perked up, then I put it in the ground. The leaves are pretty yellow and sad looking, but it's still alive, so...
Sweet pepper seedling: Doing okay so far.
Tomato seedlings: The Paul Robeson has started to produce the beginnings of flowers, the cherry was looking a wee bit sad before I put it in the ground so I think it needs more time to spread its wings, but I'm not worried about it.
Strawberry plants: Both are flowering, the first fruit set today.
Celery seeds: No sprouts. Planted at the same time as the peas. I think I'm going to give up on them and plant something else there.
Spinach and radishes: I planted these in sort of poor soil. I was experimenting to see if the weeds that were taking over my peas were in my compost or if they were appearing afterward, so they didn't get any compost. The radishes actually sprouted nicely! The spinach had a very poor germination rate but I've got about five seedlings coming up. But something's nibbling on them. Not too hopeful.
Green onions and chives: I forgot which I planted where. In one bed, nothing came up at all. In the other, something came up...but we have SO many wild onions that I am not sure if what's coming up are just tasty weeds. There are also a ton of other weeds in the bed which I want to get out but it's difficult because the mystery onions haven't been growing any taller. I keep wanting to just tear all of it up and put in something else but I'm still waiting.
Watercress and parsley: Planted almost a week ago, still waiting to see sprouts. Hopefully soon.
Lemon cucumber: Planted today.

I have about four more slots in my raised bed now, and I'm going to stick the basil in with the tomatoes. I'm planning on zucchini, beans, rosemary and cilantro for the rest, adding in more things if some of my seeds don't sprout. Either way, my goal for this year was to have all the raised beds full of healthy plants and I'm about halfway there. I love just standing outside and staring at the magical sight of dirt and tiny seeds turning into plants and flowers. I'm also planning on throwing some melon seeds in the ground somewhere just to see what happens, because I know they need a lot of space. But I sure would love to grow a melon!!


My initial main reason for making this entry is so I can make a "tights" tag for my reference next year. Every year I want to buy some new tights when they go 75% off at Target (or wherever, but Target usually has the cheapest/best colors) and every year I can't remember when to check. I don't go to Target but every couple months, so it's easy to miss the window. Well, I hit it the other day. Mid-March: it's tights time!

Otherwise, I am busy. Lit by Shadows edits are here and I'm feeling great about them, but also so very nervous. I'm 2/3rds of the way through them, so soon it will be out of my hands again and I can distract myself in the garden with spring plantings.

I joined Mike the Gardener's Seeds of the Month Club in the fall, which means I now have over 30 packs of seeds for super cheap. (Let me know if anyone wants a referral code.) That's good since I have no idea what I'm doing. Last year I planted two tomato seedlings, 3 herb seedlings, and seeds for broccoli, spinach, kohlrabi, and radishes. All the seedlings thrived. All the broccoli was eaten by cutworms except one, which produced a small head, but mostly I just got leaves, which did make a few lovely salads along with the tomatoes. The spinach and radishes never came up. I let the neighbor kid help me water and I think he drowned them in his enthusiasm. I don't know what the trouble was with the kohlrabi; I planted that on a different day. So this year I now know to make collars for my brassicas to keep the cutworms away, and to water gently (and alone). Last year I really didn't do anything right, I just threw stuff in the ground and saw what happened. This year I plan to get some better soil and some mulch, but otherwise I'm still just going to throw some seeds in the ground and see what does well, and figure out problems as they arise. It's too overwhelming to try and do everything right as a beginner, easier to try it first and go from there, I think. I'm excited to see what comes up, anyway.

I have a new ally in my Ebay business, a guy I met at the auction house who has noticed me coming month after month and sometimes competing for books with him. He's been selling books for years, but he has too many to handle so he asked if I'd like to broker some for him. Couldn't hurt to look, I thought. I didn't know what to expect. When I got to his house, my mind was kind of blown. His entire basement is packed with books. Rooms and rooms. Boxes stacked floor to ceiling, walls lined with shelves...the stuff that antiquarian dreams are made of. It's worked out really well since I've had trouble getting good inventory since I can't drive. (Although it's a goal of mine to get my license, now that I'm here where traffic is SO much less intimidating than in Orlando.) It's also just fun to look through such a great collection and learn from it and from talking to him, and to feel like I have a "coworker" of sorts, along with my hometown auctioneer, I guess, whom I've also made friends with. How I love this area!

I'm looking forward to next month, when my revisions will hopefully be turned in and go on to line edits, and we're expecting lots of visitors--first some friends of Dade's (well, and mine, just even moreso Dade's) from Orlando, then my mom and sister, and then my former Chamberlin's coworker and good friend Heather and her family, who will be just over the WV border for a few weeks when her husband has some job training. I'm so excited about all of these visits and the lovely weather of April and May. I also have plans to go to NYC and visit my editor and hang out with Crissa Chappell, though...we will see if I end up getting my line edits and some crazy deadline then. I only paid $2.50 for bus tickets, so, I will cancel it if I need to.

Now, to pour myself a glass of my homemade kombucha (sooo good) and get back to these edits...
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2012 in Review

Well, it was QUITE a year. I was thinking about it, looking back, the other day, and it took me three years to sell a book from the time I really made it my focus. As soon as I got paid for that first book, in February 2009, my focus began to shift, slowly but surely, to getting out of Florida, and three years later, I did. So I'm thinking it takes me three years to accomplish things, and since I've achieved my two biggest dreams to date, naturally I've started thinking about the big dream that is still out there, writing and publishing the Arestin books. Right now I can't think about publication, whether it's traditional or self-, but I'm writing them anyway, when I have time.

However, this year sucked creatively. I really think moving just sucked the mojo out of me. For one thing, I barely even had time to breathe particularly from October 2011 through May 2012. This has left me with the aggravating feeling that I've been working on the sequel to Dark Metropolis forever, and it will never ever be done. When I think about actual active time I had to work on it, though, it isn't really longer than other books. I can really, truly, only count from June to now, plus maybe a couple months beforehand, so it's been about 9 months, and they were months of huge transition.

This year I am starting it off in my new house and I'm approaching the year mark since I moved in, so I have declared that I will shake off all the old feelings that "this book is taking forever", "I hate it", "it's a disaster and I wish it would just be done". LOOK, self. You have almost 45k done, you are comfortably past the halfway mark, and what you have really isn't that bad. I daresay it might even be great. And this is your first sequel contracted while the first book isn't even out yet, so it is a marvelous opportunity to tell an amazing multi-book story in a really cool, dark world! So stop it. Enjoy it, own it, stop thinking about other books you'd rather be writing because if you were writing them under contract you'd wish you were writing this one. That's how it works and you bloody well know it. Learn to devote yourself to the moment. Write like this is the last book anyone will ever buy from you.

I am also declaring that I will stop feeling depressed about the writing biz. Yes, it is kind of a disillusioning realm for most of us, but successful people don't mope around. And fun people don't mope around either. I feel I have devoted enough time to feeling glum about the dream vs. the reality. When I was in my early 20s, I worked at Sears and made 6.25 an hour, and in my heart I was a frickin' reincarnated glam rocker. So I'm getting back to that. Back to looking at the stars instead of the gutter.

I guess what I'm saying is that if last year was all about the material and the practical: close on the house, fill out these papers, call the plumber, buy an oven, send in the mail-in rebates, find that really important thing that we packed in a poorly labeled box, blah blah...this year all of that is done, and it's time to focus on the greater world of the heart and mind.

My goals for this year:
--Make a trip to NYC to meet my editor so she seems like a real concrete person.
--Make $600 a month minimum selling old stuff on Ebay/Amazon.
--Finish the Dark Metropolis sequel.
--Finish Alfred & Olivia 2.
--Finish a middle grade.
--Give a gift of time or money to someone else every month or so to remind yourself that there is always more.

Reading stats this year:
64 books. Pathetic!!!! Maybe a couple more because my general disorganization this year led to me not always recording what I read.
MG/YA: 18
Graphic novels/manga: 13
Adult novels: 3
Non-fiction: 29
Mmm...I miscounted somewhere. Oh well. Close enough.

Usually I give you my top 10 YA/MG of the year, but...well, usually I read at least 40 books in that category alone and this year I read EIGHTEEN, so, I will just give you my top 10 books in all categories:
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The Changeling by Zilpha Keatly Snyder
Wayfarer by R. J. Anderson
The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky (collected writings on America's foodways from the Depression-era WPA writer's project)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee
Amy Unbounded and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (both set in the same world so I'm counting them together)
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father by John Matteson
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This is how I procrastinate, I guess.

I've been organizing my music into playlists so it's easier to pick what mood I want without making new playlists CONSTANTLY, and I realized that in many cases, the easiest way to categorize my music is by what character would listen to it. Sure, I have some lists like "1960s" or "New Wave" and a few random selections like "On the Lonely Road" (that's American-flavored music that makes you feel slightly melancholy or disturbed) or Coppola-scape (that is music from Sofia Coppola movies or music I think COULD be from a Sofia Coppola movie) but otherwise it's all Arestin/Hidden Lands characters.

Alfred is totally my indie boy but he also likes some older music; he is particularly famous for listening to Simon and Garfunkel when he is sad, although mostly he only listens to music when he is bored sitting in transportation of some kind, and then falls asleep.
The Killers, The Shins, Simon and Garfunkel, Hefner, Goldfrapp, plus everything George likes.

Anubis doesn't actually really listen to music, but I associate him with one band and one band alone: Of Montreal. Especially their older stuff. Because if Anubis became a songwriter he would write adorable yet sad things like "Happy Little Bumblebee."

Desmond and Lucy make me think of anything playful, youthful, and/or French.
Vintage lounge music, Stereolab, Amelie soundtrack, 60s French pop, Syd Barrett at his less-creepy, Supertramp.

Det does NOT like to rock out, he is all sophistication and he mostly thinks the advent of rock n' roll destroyed music. Funny for a guy who shares a birthday with Elvis.
The Velvet Underground, Astor Piazzolla, Xavier Cugat, David Bowie (mostly Station to Station and Heathen albums only), Dave Brubeck Quartet, Gotan Project, opera.

George likes the 80s, his favorite band is Devo, and he probably also listens to a bunch of cheesy hair bands and stuff I don't even have in my playlist.
Devo, Talking Heads, Foreigner, Weird Al Yankovic, Van Halen.

Gideon is totally mod/punk/glam, although, I think Gideon is also the most open to anything (that is probably also true with him as far as fashion, people, and most other things).
The Small Faces, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Who, T.Rex, David Bowie, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hedwig and the Angry Inch sountracks.

Leo's taste is a lot like Gideon (which is why they are oddly good friends) except a little angrier in some ways and a little more sophisticated in others. Also music is probably more important to him than any other character I have ever created, like...he would die without it. Actually Leo is kind of intense about everything, come to think of it.
Roxy Music, Smashing Pumpkins, The Stranglers, Joy Division, The Buzzcocks, Blondie, The Velvet Teen, The Cure, Iggy Pop.

Leslie likes dance-pop stuff (which is mostly not my thing) from the 80s up until now, and anime music/j-pop and basically anything that is fun. I'm not up on my j-pop or my American pop so who knows what she's listening to nowadays.
ABBA, Madonna "before she got all kabbalah or whatever", Lady Gaga, No Doubt, Bow Wow Wow, Judy and Mary.

Ril has this huge collection of vinyl and I think he likes some pretty weird stuff, like, he is that guy that if you went to a party at his house he'd be like, "Man, listen to this crazy thing", but his favorite stuff is from the 60s and 70s because that was his heyday and for some weird reason when writing about him I used to listen to this channel that was mostly ladies of the 60s. I'm sure he listens to other stuff, too, I think it's more that he is the only character I have who *would* listen to this stuff, so that's what he gets. On one hand it seems like he should listen to something more badass, but on the other hand...why not?
The Mamas and the Papas, Petula Clark, Nancy Sinatra.

Stan is my folk/bluegrass nerd with a banjo. He is also my oldest character after Det and Leslie, and I totally associate him with the mid-90s when I first created him, so whenever I hear "Brick", "Wonderwall", "Closing Time", "If You Could Only See", "Welcome to Paradise" and a slew of other 90s songs I think of him. Sorry Stan. You'll never shake it.
Arlo Guthrie, The Beatles, Bill Monroe, old country and blues acts, Bela Fleck, My Morning Jacket, Ben Folds, Oasis.

Thessia, like Alfred, is an indie girl, only she likes girlier indie than Alfred. She LOVES Florence and the Machine, I'll bet, even if I don't (I just don't get all the echoing...).
The Decemberists, Neko Case, Arcade Fire, a lot of mostly female bands I only have one or two songs from.

Veruvisa is a priestess so she gets all the priestess-y music. Although I don't think she'd agree with Det that rock ruined music.
Enya, Libana, Sheila Chandra.

Yeah, I could be working on an actual manuscript, or sleeping, instead this is what I'm doing. *blush* you make playlists for your characters and think about what music they'd like?
alan dare

(no subject)

I know I'm going to kick myself one day for not updating more (since this is my diary) during the first year in our new house. I've been on Facebook, but will I ever look back at "Timeline" when I'm old? HAR.

I will try to type out a few thoughts.

--I started a vegetable garden. The backyard has raised beds already, so I weeded part of them out and put in two tomato plants, sage, thyme, and basil. It's been two weeks since I planted them and they don't look like they've really grown, but they're also not dead, so I'm not sure what to make of the progress. I feel like my basil grew more in Florida, was already off to a better start. I am not very good with plants! But I'm trying to get better. I just don't get good at anything without doing a lot of reading, and that takes time.

--A week ago I went to the auction house, which is just a wee short walk from my house. They have 1 or 2 auctions a month. I thought I might be able to pick up some stuff to resell. I ended up buying like eight boxes of books and some Victorian cabinet cards, mostly of actresses from the 1870s-1900s I'd say, plus a box of old photos (for my own collection). I made a few mistakes from being a newbie and not entirely understanding the rules. But the cabinet cards are SO cool!! I got 11 of them for $20. One of them I loved best and will not sell (it was an old lady in a Marie Antoinette type outfit and reminded me a bit of Belawyn from Between the Sea and Sky) and the rest I put up on Ebay.

They end tomorrow: If you want to see the cabinet cards you can click here. I've already got enough bids to recoup my money on them, so I'm happy. If none of the others get bids I'll just keep them, and gladly!

--On Memorial Day the neighbors had a block party. It was really hot outside that weekend. I drank three beers, a record for me, because the ice cold beverage was so good! Pretty much everyone on the block came and I got to meet all our neighbors. Everyone seems nice. There is an older lady immediately next door who is always super busy but nice, and on the other side, a family with daughters who have been reading my books and liking them, and past the old lady is the Morgan family, both Dade and I have been doing things with the husband because we have loads in common with him. I adore our neighborhood. It feels bustling yet cozy.

--The summer produce is getting in full swing, a few days ago I bought a big bag of cherries and probably a pound of strawberries for $7 from one of the small farms, and then the co-op has provided me with baby turnips, baby beets, kale, lettuce, garlic scapes and spring onions. I cooked up some of the garlic scapes in a Vietnamese stir fry the other day and they tasted buttery and amazing sauteed in coconut oil. Tonight I'm using up the rest to make red curry greens because I want to use at least some of the turnip and beet greens...I hate to just use the baby veggies and throw out all those good greens. But it's so many greens at once!!! *panic*

--I haven't really felt like leaving the house nearly as much as I did in Florida either. There's so much to do around here--working in the garden, playing my ukulele without worrying about the neighbors, cozying up on my sunshine-filled bedroom with a pile of books, turning the amazing local foods into meals. We only ate out once this week, which is shocking for me. I used to always have days when I was too lazy to cook. But I've just been churning out meals--lately I've made some of the usual staples; meat loaf, burgers, Vietnamese stir fry, but then I also tried a Mexican chicken with salsa verde and tomato-tinged rice, and braised pork chops in honey mustard beer sauce.

--Summer is coming, but I'm not dreading that either like I usually do. So far the weather has been a dream since May 1st. We've had 2 or 3 days that got hot enough that I wished we had AC, but we've since installed wall units in the bedroom, bathroom, and office so at least we can get some relief. Tomorrow is supposed to be hot but today is still perfectly pleasant, I don't even have the fan on, just the window open, and the house is about 72. I love throwing open all the porch windows although opening the place up is quite a project--cranking open almost a dozen porch windows and wrestling the old windows open in the living room!

--Well, I'm definitely getting more of a workout here, even though I haven't been especially trying. I've lost the pudge I was starting to develop since I left retail work down south...

--Last night I saw fireflies for the first time (or lightning bugs, as Dade tells me I need to call them here (but I like fireflies better!)) and the little lights in the dusk and the pleasant-warm evening and the old houses cast me back to childhood trips to Ohio when my great-grandmother still lived in the area where my dad grew up in an old brick house with a basement. I know Ohio isn't usually a state one romanticizes, and for cultural and political reasons I am glad I don't live there, but I think a part of me always loved it and wished I had grown up in a place like that, hearing his stories of sledding and fireflies and finding an old Victorian boot by the river and the Polish neighbors who made pierogies and the pure seasonality and Americana of it all. This place feels so much like that.

(no subject)

Just a general Livejournal-is-my-diary sort of update.

--Still loving the house! I guess that's a given by now. We had to get the water main from the street to the house replaced. But we have water pressure now, thank god. The plumber said our old water pipe was so deep he just left it there and put a new one in at the modern standard (where you can actually get to it, if it needs to be worked on?). I also had adventures with a bird in the attic the other day. I am kind of worried other animals could get in there. There's at least one visible bird/squirrel sized hole that needs to be plugged. The attic scares me a bit. Like, I could go up there and get attacked by giant northern squirrels...they are SO much fatter here than in Florida...I hope they're too fat to get through the hole. That would be nice.

--Our plumber is so nice, I feel kind of sad the plumbing work is all done. Although obviously, that's a good thing.

--Since I now have a post office in walking distance I've been trying out Amazon book reselling. I made quite a bit of money reselling our own discards on Amazon before the move, so why not try it as a side job, I wondered? I went to four thrift stores and handpicked a big stack...spent $30 and I've made back $15 already. Not to mention, well, $12 of the books were things we're keeping? So I really only have to make a few more bucks to break even, and it gives me an excuse to take regular walks to the post office. Also I just enjoy book scouting, so it keeps me from shopping for other, more expensive things...

--The problem with book picking of course is just the danger of acquiring ridiculous amounts of books. Luckily we have a lot of room to throw up bookshelves in this house. We could probably double our bookshelf space without even struggling. The good folks at Saveur magazine are always raving about the Time-Life Foods of the World series from the 70s, but back home I only ever saw the China one, for some reason. I found seven volumes at a little charity used book store. They look like great reads. Bonus: the one on "The Eastern Heartland" actually has signatures from two of the old people cooking in the Pennsylvania Dutch chapter. Is that not THE CUTEST? I also got a book on the life of servants in the early 20th century and an Eva Ibbotson middle grade.

--The day before yesterday we got sucked into the magic of Wegman's and spent over $100. Yikes. They have these crispy dark chocolate cookies made with real butter and brown sugar that taste like homemade (except for the texture, because homemade cookies are rarely that crispy). It's food wonderland in there. Very dangerous. So many goat cheeses. So many chocolates. Alter Eco chocolate bars were half off...their nibs bar is the best of all nibs bars, I think. You can really taste the nibbiness.

--Now I must get back to Dark Metropolis revisions, which have been...exhausting, even though I'm very excited about them. It's so hard to focus right after moving. I think part of it is just that I didn't have much time to read for two months, along with everything else. Reading really fills the well in a crucial way. I managed to get through the general rewriting but there are still a lot of smaller scenes and line edit tweaks to be done, AND some problems that cropped up that I don't know how to solve. I have five days left to do it. ACK. Tuesday we're going to Bethesda to see Rachel Hawkins and Ally Carter at the library. I suppose if I was truly dedicated, I would skip it! And keep revising my face off! But a girl needs a break. 4 days appears to be the max I can just sit at home revising or writing before my brain goes "................"