Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Anniversary

It's that time again!
Today is the beginning of my third year of non-traditional employment, and I can't say I've once regretted my decision to walk away from life in an office.

I occasionally regret the lack of money in my bank account, but that's not the same thing.

Progress notes:  I finished my edits Saturday, did a last review and sent the book off to the agent yesterday.  I got the manuscript down by a little over 25,000 words, which surprised the hell out of me.  Having someone else potentially take a red pen to your work makes you far more able to see things you ignored the first (ten) times around.  This was possibly the best writing lesson I've ever had.

My first craft show of the season also happened Saturday, small and fairly short, but a good practice run for the two big ones coming up.  Pulling everything together at midnight the night before is not recommended; you're bound to forget something.  At least it wasn't anything important.

It was also half price day at the thrift store on Saturday, and I found a bunch of fabulous print scrubs tops which will soon be turned into fabulous print toddler dresses with ridiculous amounts of rickrack or other trim.  I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with my sewing machine.

Oh, and by the way, IT'S FINALLY SPRING!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pretty Pictures

I'm still revising, deep in another century.  I leave you with some photos of the YSL/Halston exhibit at the FIT Museum in NY.  See it if you can.  I never thought much of 1970s fashion, having grown up during the period.  I think I've changed my mind.

















Sunday, April 5, 2015

Not there yet

So it's Easter.

Thankfully my hen lays blue eggs and I don't have to do anything else.

Took a break from revisions to visit the inlaws today.  Ate too much, came home and did more revisions.

I'm down by 13,000 words and I'm only at the halfway point.

So much for thinking it was in a good state; all it took was the threat of someone else doing this work and it's amazing how many different ways I've found to tighten up my prose.

For sewing friends: it's like I made nice jacket.  Nice, but a bit boxy.  Maybe a little off in the shoulders when you look closely.  A smidge too long in the sleeves.  Something not quite right about the lining.

When I'm done, it will have princess seams and fit like a dream.

At least that's the destination.  But I'm not there yet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Toning

Apparently losing words is as difficult as losing weight.

I've been waiting to hear from my agent about when she would begin the review and pitching process for my book.  I got an email from her yesterday, saying she would do a final re-read on the manuscript in mid-April.  She also said that the book was a bit long -- apparently there's an optimum size for a first novel (at least if it's to get the attention of a publisher), and it's not the epic tome I've got on my hands right now.

Could I whittle it down a bit before then?  

Since she's an editorial agent, she could make suggestions herself when she does the final re-read, but since they're my words, I'd rather be the one to decide which ones are to go.

I've got to lose around 20,000 words in the next week.  20,000 words.  I didn't realize just how much easier it is to write them than it is to decide which ones don't need to stay.  

I went through the first 4 chapters last night and actually got rid of over 2,000 -- without changing any of the actual story, just tightening sentences and looking for places where, if I'd said something strongly enough the first time, it didn't bear repeating.

Basically it's very similar to my theory of weight loss: yes, I'd love to be 20 pounds lighter, but in reality, I'd settle for everything just being a bit tighter.

That's what I'll call it.  I'm not whittling my manuscript.  I'm not pruning it.

I'm toning.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Practical Things

Sometimes you just need to make something useful.

I stitched up these microwave-safe bowl potholders the other day because I'm tired of scorching my fingers every time I take leftovers out of the microwave, or heat the soup too hot and then have to carry the bowl upstairs.  (They're also nice for ice cream).

They're 100% cotton fabric with 100% cotton batting inside, so they won't set themselves on fire in the microwave -- something definitely in their favor.

I was thinking about making a few more sets to offer at craft shows this summer.  What do you all think?

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Monkey for Maria

I didn't have a picture of a monkey - but there are
crocuses blooming in Philly, and that's almost as good.
This post is inspired by a blog post written by my friend, Maria Wulf, a few days ago.  She's going to be getting a horse soon, and talked in her post about the relationship that girls/women have had with horses.  She wanted a horse as a child, but so did many of us, and it's not really a practical - or possible - gift for most parents.

This quote reminded me of something from my own childhood:

"I wanted a monkey too when I saw it in a pet store and believed my mother would let me have it if I could only convince her how much I really wanted it."

I had a monkey as a pet when I was about 7 years old, only my mom was the one who really wanted it.

I've talked about my mom before. She was . . . unusual. She had certain ideas that she couldn't be talked out of, and weird enthusiasms that had no basis in any reality the rest of us could see.

When she was a little girl, in the 1930s, my great-grandmother used to tell her not to stay out after dark because the Gypsies would steal her. Most children would have been cowed. My mother? She packed up the classic bandanna-on-a-stick parcel and fell asleep on the curb, waiting for them to come for her.

She grew up (mostly), but she never lost her fascination with them. There were a couple of Gypsy kids in my grade school. Their families would come and go each year, generally leaving in June when school let out. One year, Mom happened to be nearby when they were packing their cars. (Was it deliberate? Even as a 40-something, did she want them to take her away?)

They got to talking, and somehow, my mom came home with a monkey.

I came home to find a tall metal cage on the kitchen table, with said monkey inside. His name, of course, was Gypsy. He was small and skinny and made a lot of noise, and had very bad manners. My poor aunt Margaret, who lived with us, didn't understand what he was doing until my mom explained to her that monkeys were a lot like small boys who'd just found out that they were carrying the best toy in the world around on their bodies.

He also threw food. And poop.  And anything else he could find. (Can't say I blame him; it wasn't a huge cage and he was probably bored silly and wondered who this crazy blonde woman was who kept cooing at him).

And then my dad got home from work.

My dad was a patient man. He had to be, with my mom. She got away with everything short of murder, but the monkey crossed a line. As a fireman, my dad had almost no sense of smell, but he could smell monkey, and it wasn't good. The fact that Gypsy was on the kitchen table meant that he took his dinner in the living room that night and fell asleep in the recliner.

Gypsy moved to the back porch, Mom called the local pet store, and she and my aunt spent the night scrubbing and airing out the kitchen. Gypsy moved on to the pet store the following day, chattering and flinging poop all the way, and peace was restored.

Years later, Mom said she was sorry she hadn't had time to take a picture with him, but she wanted to dye her hair black and find a good pair of hoop earrings, and just didn't have time before he left for the pet store.

I can only imagine the legend that would have grown up around that photograph.