Another Kind of Warrior

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend my first NBA basketball game, the Golden State Warriors vs the 76ers. My husband’s idea of date night: Free tickets courtesy of an educational technology firm called EverFi. They were sponsoring a group of high school students to attend the game. I agreed to go after being assured I wasn’t responsible for monitoring the children. Field trips are great, but not my idea of a hot date.

We met the EverFi folks in front of the Oracle Arena in Oakland. They seemed like a nice group, fluent in both regular English and Edu-speak. We donned our Oracle Arena lanyards with our Oracle Arena tickets, and were led by an usher into the Oracle Arena. He led us right past a line of people waiting outside a door marked VIP Entrance. As we cut in front of the VIP line, I started to think maybe my husband had the right idea about tonight.

Later, we were given Wilt Chamberlain bobble head dolls. What I knew about Mr. Chamberlain is he slept with about a billion women. What I learned is that he scored one hundred points in a single game. Good to know they’re giving bobble heads out for that instead of the other thing, no?

Another perk of being the EverFi guests: We got to sit courtside to watch the warm-up. Here’s a picture of us, which we immediately put up on Twitter and implied we would be sitting there for the whole game. Instead, it was about ten minutes.

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The gentlemen warming up were quite large and tattooed.

Here’s a picture I took of one of them:

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That’s Marreese Speights, who ended up leading the blowout against the 76ers.

Another player, Stephen Curry, was also really good, despite being neither as large nor as tattooed as his teammate. I did find his oral fixation a bit distracting. I mean, if you’re going to wear a mouthguard, shouldn’t it stay inside your mouth? I wore them back in my field hockey days, and I’m quite sure they don’t work when hanging out of your mouth.

Although we passed on the $12 Bud Lights, I still had a great time. The company was fun, the game was exciting, and we even got featured on the Jumbotron. All we had to do was wave around some big red posters that read Oracle Arena while wearing Oracle Arena T-shirts. And now I can say for certain that I know exactly where the Warriors play, and it’s named after that sailboat that won the America’s Cup.

Post-NaNo Update

Wow, it’s been a long time since my last post. I left off of blogging to put my energies into NaNoWriMo and somehow two and a half months have gone by. I guess I have no one to blame but Thanksgiving Hanukkah Christmas New Years myself.

NaNo was awesome. I had daily word count goals, which I stuck to (for the most part) and accomplished 50,000 words of a new novel by November 29. It was such a great feeling to achieve that goal. But the best part was actually spending a month writing consistently.

Here are my Top 5 Lessons Learned from my first NaNoWriMo:

1.    I can write a page in 15 minutes.

A real page! In regular-sized font! I didn’t know I could do that. Kind of does away with the excuse that I don’t have time to write, doesn’t it?

2.    Accountability is helpful.

Posting my goals and updating my word count on the NaNo website was fun and motivating. Anyone want to start a word count competition with me?

3.   Outlining is a good thing.

I wrote an outline for my NaNo novel during the month of October. Turns out when you outline an entire story, it helps you stay on track when you’re actually writing the thing. Otherwise, you may reach the end of your novel only to realize the story is totally different than you thought it was. You then have to decide: Do I rewrite the entire first half of the novel? Or toss it into the trash and never look at it again? With an outline, you get to the end and say, “Yay, I got to the end!”

4.   Social media is a mixed blessing.

The pep talks by authors on the NaNoWriMo website were inspiring. Twitter was slightly distracting but somewhat NaNo-related. Trolling Facebook to see which of my friends is getting married/having a baby/eating Paleo was not conducive to writing at all.

5.    50,000 words is a lot—but it’s not a complete novel.

It’s a skeleton. The next step is to go back and fill in the flesh, the blood, the organs, the muscle tissue—well, you get the idea. But having a solid skeleton is whole lot better than having nothing.

Did you win NaNoWriMo this year? What was your experience like? What are you going to do with the novel? Let me know!

Positive Thinking Versus the Rejection E-mail

People say the biggest challenge when running a marathon is the mental block.  It’s that voice in your head. You know the one:

running_legs“You think you can run 26 miles? Are you crazy? Go back to the couch before your lungs explode and your legs fall off!”

I haven’t run a marathon, so I couldn’t say if it’s that or the whole running thing that makes it difficult. But I do believe that your attitude and mindset have a huge impact on whether you reach your goals.

I bring this up because I recently received my first rejection from an agent. Don’t worry—the drowning of sorrows in a vodka tonic or twelve is almost complete.  Just one or two more should do it….

Actually, I was not devastated by the rejection at all. The agent politely informed me that there is a glut of paranormal books out there right now and she didn’t think she personally could sell mine. Since I am writing in the paranormal genre, she is not the right agent for me. And that’s fine. In fact, I’m excited to have a rejection under my belt. Kind of gives me some street cred in the writing world. (Not quite the same kind of street cred as knocking over a liquor store, but it’s something.)

How do you deal with rejection? How do you overcome obstacles that stand between you and your goals? I’d love to hear from you!

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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Sisters in Crime, Northern California. It was called “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down,” and members were invited to submit the first page of their manuscript to the panel of three distinguished authors. The page was read aloud and the panel gave their critique and opinion as to whether they would keep reading, and whether they thought an agent would keep reading as well.

The three panelists were Sophie Littlefield, Gillian Roberts and Keith Raffel. When the meeting started, I’ll be honest, I was a tad nervous. Okay, I was really nervous, and had been the entire drive up from Oakland to Marin. Yes, the critique would be anonymous, but it would also be very public.

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I spent too much time tamping down my Inner Critic as it tried to predict all the ways the panel could tear my writing apart, and ignored said Critic when it suggested I grab my page out of the purple box and run for Mt. Tamalpais with it. Instead, I sat in the second row and waited for the impending doom. At least if mine was one of the first to be critiqued, the ordeal would be over and I could relax.

Of course, mine wasn’t first. No, mine was second to last. The penultimate submission. Which gave the Inner Critic a good two hours to mess with my head.

criticize_bloggers    But that’s not actually what happened. (For one thing, my Inner Critic does not sound like Simon Cowell.)

In reality, I enjoyed the session. I loved hearing other people’s pages. This is a talented group of writers, and I heard many story beginnings I would’ve loved to read more of. The panelists were encouraging and constructive with their feedback. I told myself I wasn’t crazy to think I could do this writing thing. And I was right. The panel liked my first page.

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They suggested moving a line around and had some questions (when you’re writing about huldras, questions are inevitable), but the major feedback was that this fit right into the urban fantasy genre and that it worked. Hearing that felt great.

In my next post, I’ll share some of the most helpful advice I learned from the panelists about the market and what works in the opening page.

Me and My Car: A Love-Hate Relationship

I have a Volkswagen Golf, manual transmission, cute to look at and super-fun to drive. On the down side, it’s thirteen years old, which we can all agree is an awkward age for anyone. Come on, how pleasant were you at thirteen? At least my car doesn’t slam its doors in my face and tell me it never asked to be born.

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This adorable vehicle does have some little quirks. There are certain lights that come on and off, warning me of impending imaginary disasters. (The trunk is open! No, it’s really not.) The air conditioning isn’t exactly “working.” And the rear windshield wiper has a mind of its own. The thing goes on at random times (read, sunny days), ignoring all my subtle hints. Like when I turn it to the “off” position. I guess my car really is a thirteen-year-old.

There is one feature of my car that I absolutely hate. This little amenity has screwed me many times. The latest happened just this week.

I pulled up at the gas station, got out, and walked over to the pump. My car, sensing nonexistent danger at the nearby Seven-Eleven, went into lock-down mode. All four doors, plus the trunk. With a loud cha-chung just to rub it in. I was left staring in through the window at my key, lying peacefully next to Useful Items Number Two and Three, my phone and wallet. It’s at this point where I start to despise my car.

Really, Volkswagen? Do so many German drivers forget to lock their doors that you had to design the car to do it automatically? From my limited experience with Germans, I find that hard to believe. The Germans are many things, but flaky isn’t one of them. Personally, I get locked out of my car at least six times a year thanks to this diabolical feature. I forget to lock the doors zero times a year. So do that math on that one, you Volkswagen geniuses.

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But maybe I’m missing the point. I should be more careful about not leaving my key in the car. Maybe that’s the reason for the automatic locking: to teach me a lesson about not being careless. To make me a more responsible and thoughtful person, and therefore a more productive citizen. Is that what German engineering is really all about? Maybe my car is not a surly teenager, but actually a wise European sage, and this is all one big learning experience.

Nah. It’s just really, really annoying.