After hitting 50k on my NaNoWriMo novel over a week ago, I adjusted my personal goal to hit 75,000 words before the end of November. Well, I have 24 hours and 47 minutes left to go, and I just hit 75k. Think I can hit 80k by tomorrow night? We'll have to see!

And actually, the most impressive thing to me is the fact that I'm nowhere CLOSE to finishing my novel. I doubt I'm even halfway through the plotline yet, though we'll have to see on that one. This means that this will undoubtedly be the longest novel I've ever written, seeing as how my present record is about 90,000 words in total, and I'm almost there with so much left to go. I'm actually quite excited, I feel it's a sign of growth.

Hopefully I can take some more time starting next week to work on revisions on my science fiction novel, which I hope to start sending to editors and agents starting in the new year. I think once the pressure of NaNo is off, I will feel a little less guilty about spending quality time with my other project(s), though I'd really like to finish this novel by the end of the year. If I can write 75,000 words in a month, is it impossible to hope I can finish the book in another month? I think not!

So in summary, I love writing, I love books, and I love Harrison Ford. (I know that was random, but I'm currently wrapping up the fourth Harrison Ford movie I've watched today. My marathon helped me write 5,000 words today! So huzzah for Harrison Ford! :D And to all a good night.

Welcome once again

This is pretty much as close as I'll get to having a Christmas blog. You know, I don't really feel that red and green go together, but in light of the holidays, I will put up with the clashing for a few weeks in order to feel festive.

Also, yes those are snow BEARS, my best friend and I made them last year, in the high school field across from our house in Cedar-town, and it was about an hour before some high school punks came along and destroyed them. I suppose we should have known better. But they wouldn't have fared better in our front yard, and our back yard was far too confining for the spirit of freedom and infinite possibility aspired to by our snow bears.

I suppose that now (or perhaps in two days when it's actually December) it is actually considered appropriate by the majority of people to play Christmas music. I'm fairly certain that none will be found at my workplace, considering how my coworker Cindy feels about anything besides rock and metal. So perhaps I will have to suffice at home. Which means I need more Christmas music!

I do have to admit that I enjoy the Christmas season. I enjoy the new activities, I enjoy the briskness in the air, and I love snow. I love giving presents (if not so much the trying to figure out what to give people). I also really love Christmas decor--I love Christmas trees especially! I can't wait to put ours up, and I'm pretty stoked to put up a little one on my desk at work.

So, in all, have a wonderful Christmas season, and have some pie. Pie makes the world a better place.


A Time of Thanks

I have been inspired by Jen to compose a List of Gratitude, and though her list this year is much more profound, I also enjoyed last year's list, which was much more all-encompassing, and is in fact the inspiration for my own list this year.

The following few items are things that Jen would call "Goes Without Saying":

My Parents. Pretty much, what would I do without them? Well, I would be homeless and starve to death, but beyond that, my family provide an emotional shelter as well as the physical, and I rely on them probably more than is good for me. But I love them, and I am especially happy this year to be spending Thanksgiving with them.

My Brother. Going along with the family theme and yet entirely separate, I am thankful for my brother Kyle, who is currently serving an LDS mission in Virginia (D.C. South Mission). I am grateful for his example, and for his willingness to serve God and bring others to Him.

My birthfather and family. I just can't even express how grateful I am for my Pops, Jenny, and my sisters. They complement my life, they make me laugh, and they just expand the circle of love. Seriously. Adoption is the best thing ever. And speaking of...

The Jacksons. Yep. Adoption rocks.

My cousin Hollie and her kids. These are my closest family besides the immediates, and I love them immensely. <3 to Benjabuddy and Elainabug!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am exceptionally grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. You know, I have this one friend, non-member, who also somehow makes me have to stand up for my beliefs. And I'm grateful for that--I'm grateful that my testimony is so tested, that I can reaffirm, for myself, that I truly do believe in this church, in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and in my eternal Heavenly Father. I am grateful that I have a base from which the root of my being can be established, a rock upon which I have built my foundation, but also that I have this amazing support structure to hold me up when the winds blow.

My Friends. I seriously no kidding have the sweetest friends ever. No joke. I couldn't even list them all if I tried. And they're amazing. So supportive, so loving, always willing to chat and get together or say hi. I simply couldn't live without them.

Books. Writing them and reading them. It's sort of my ultimate hobby/new career move

To complement these most essential things, here are some of the more superfluous things for which I am grateful:

-My new car, Roxanne, who is EXACTLY what I wanted in a car.
-The ability to make a killer raspberry pie.
-My singles ward.
-Being a Gospel Doctrine teacher
-The Ensign
-The West Wing and House, M.D.
-Being able to play the piano.
-Music: at this particular time most particularly U2, Coldplay, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation, Evanescence, and many, many others.
-My job. Much as I am bored by the day-in day-out routine, I am grateful for my income and for the general entertainment provided by my coworkers.
-PGSA. I keep my hopes up by remembering that if I so choose, I can quit my job in June and flee back to Pennsylvania for the summer.
-The Democratic Party and Barack Obama.
-My Blackberry.
-Frederick Warrick III (ie my iPod.)
-and Leopold, my beloved MacBook.
-Going to the temple every Wednesday.
-Flip flops.
-My electric griddle.
-The China Bowl and Cafe Rio.
-My ten-minute commute to work every day. I get to see the Mt. Timpanogos Temple every day as I drive, and I get some precious time to contemplate whatever needs contemplation that day.
-GoogleChat, which is how I talk to my friends when I'm at work, and thereby keep from going insane.
-Chicken salad. You know, the stuff with chicken, grapes, cashews, and occasionally celery or green peppers or whatever.
-Road trips.
-Skiing with my dad.
-My whiteboard. It's seriously the coolest creative space of all time.
-Dr. Pepper.
-Rock Band.
-Roommates. I wish I had some.
-Playing games.
-Long, hot showers. I seriously do some of my most creative brainstorming in the shower, and I'm not even kidding.
-Paid days off.
-Going to New York next summer!
-That my parents got to go to Hawaii to celebrate their anniversary. They deserved it.
-Baby Martin.
-Going on dates.
-Good theatre.
-Randomly deciding to go to Ogden for the weekend...and being able to go five minutes later.
-Sweaters. And sweatshirts.
-Holidays spent with family!
-Late night drives through town.
-The capacity to help other people.
-Public libraries.
-Fresh notebooks.
-The National Parks. Being able to visit them.
-Trident gum.
-Chapstick and hand lotion.
-Education in general, and teachers. I've had an awful lot of good teachers in my life.
-The gift of patience.
-The ability to learn from past mistakes and experiences, and to grow.
-The infinite power of hope.

I think I will stop there (because my list is getting ridiculously long) though I'm fairly certain I could go on forever. I honestly feel that I have an infinite number of things to be thankful for.

Mostly, I am grateful to live in a place where I can worship God and Jesus Christ in freedom, and be able to enjoy those freedoms with my beloved family and friends. I simply can't deny that life is good, and thus I intend to enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Infinite possibility

Today I got involved in a rather lengthy debate with my friend Michael. First it was about changing tables, but we won't even go there. (Except to say that men obviously just don't understand the value of changing tables.) We then began discussing what Michael calls 'ubiquitous computing' which implies, in his words, "that computers are universal and inside everything. Stoplights, cellphones, everything. Soon they'll be in our sunglasses." The discussion led to journalism and then to books, and my shared fear that books and print media in general will eventually become obsolete.

We continued to discuss the future of the printed book, and how dynamic books of digital paper may be the eventual replacement. A person would own a handful of digital books which would hold the same physical feel as books now, with their then digital, varied contents. Digital paper is already in the making, and Michael believes it is a near-future possibility.

According to our theory, books would then become something of a collector's item. Rich people might have bookshelves and libraries, or others would possess them out of the mild obsession of a collector. Handmade books might make a return at this point as an art form and novelty. Something like how people now collect records, but the mainstream society uses CDs and MP3. Although, books would still maintain functionality and a certain practical value, as opposed to owning them for the sake of possession, as in the case of records. They would simply not be part of the mainstream society.

Our conversation concluded as follows, and this is what I most wanted to share:

Michael: So only rich people and enthusiasts would buy them, but they would still be bought and loved.
How many things can that be said of when we talk about the ridiculously distant future?
I think that says a lot about how deeply books are ingrained in the heart of society.

Valerie: According to the views of you and me, at any rate.

Michael: But didn't you know Valerie? We're the ones who get to decide the future.

And this, my friends, is the pure and simple truth. We are the ones who get to decide the future. It is our actions here and now that decide what is important for the next generation, and affect the ones after that. This is our time, and I intend the make the most of it.

That's all. Have a great Thanksgiving! Eat some turkey, give some thanks, and think a few profound thoughts when you have a spare moment.


Human foosball

Imagine this: twenty single adults with very little mass athleticism or associated skills, attached to each other by fifteen-foot lengths of pvc pipe, trying with all their might to kick, punch, whack or headbutt a soccer ball between two pairs of trash cans on either end of a church gym.

Oh yes. That was my ward family home evening.

It was preluded by some Christmas hymns (can you believe it's that time already???), and a lovely spiritual thought that I can't even begin to remember. And then there was a sporting and HIGHLY amusing game, which came down to the wire. I swear, we were at 9-9 for half an hour, the competition was so fierce. That, and we kept kicking the ball really HIGH, and our ref determined that it actually had to pass BETWEEN the garbage cans, height wise as well as width. What I found really cool was that everybody had their moment to shine--almost everybody scored a goal, and everybody definitely had a few good moves going on. Some were better than others, of course, but it was actually the foibles and the outright cheating that was the most fun.

As point of fact--if you can score with the PIPE rather than your FOOT, why not?! For that matter, there was one goal scored by headbutt alone, how cool is that?

And to wrap it all up, we had pumpkin pie. I do so love pumpkin pie. I love pie in general. Beats cake any day of the week. I love Thanksgiving time, simply for the overabundance of pies. Really, what more can a girl ask?


Healthy terror: a possible career move

On Tuesday night I went to a 'write-in' (a less productive variant of a write-a-thon) hosted by the local chapter of NaNoWriMo. I will admit that a big part of the draw was the attendance of local celebrity author Brandon Sanderson, author of Elantris and the Mistborn trilogy. He spoke for about an hour and a half, about writing and publishing and the like. It was informative to a certain degree, and far more entertaining and honest than similar talks/discussions I've attended previously. In particular, Brandon shed light on the possibility of authorship as a career. Before in my mind, it's always been a hobby at which you can make no money whatsoever, or a one-in-a-thousand chance of making it big and making the big bucks. All luck, and not a realistic career path. But B.Sanderson shed light on the actual numbers: selling a book every 1-2 years, a person can, in fact, make a decent living as a writer. And that's just if a book does moderately well--selling 10,000 copies. More than that, and you're making a more-than-modest living.

This makes me come to a full-brakes-stop, with whiplash and everything. This is real. Writing as a career, a possibility. One that I had wished for, but never truly considered as something practical.

I looked around the room several times that evening, and later when the writing started. Most of the people there aren't people I would consider as having potential for real success in this field. That may be exceptionally judgmental of me, I'll admit, as I was basing this judgment almost entirely upon social interaction and discussion of their work, not actual text, which is the important thing in this field. But I looked around, and I wondered if I was any better than anyone in the room, let alone the world, if I could possibly possess some skill or idea that would surpass what all these others might have to offer.

I doubt it. After all, ideas are cheap. Skill is a little harder to come by, but there are plenty of people in the world who can write better than I can, who can stick to an idea and concept better than I can, who are more creative and original than I am. No doubt.

However, maybe I will have something that they won't? The right idea, at the right time and seen by the right eyes in the right place?

Basically, this means that for the first time in over four years (and another five before that!) I'm going to start submitting manuscripts to publishers and agents. I have to tell you that this is about the most terrifying thing in my existence. Every time I freak out (which is almost every time I think about it), I just have to repeat to myself, "What's the worst they can do? Send me a rejection letter--again and again." Sounds bad, but in all reality, that letter is better than no letter at all, because it means that somebody besides me has looked at my words. That is definitely better than nothing.

If I seem a little wild around the eyes when you see me, this may be why. Or it might be some other part of my insanity. With me, you never know.


The Plague

I just despise being ill. It's such a waste of time! A colossal, monumental waste of time. Sure, I enjoy the sympathy. I enjoy being babied a little by those around me, particularly when I can plead successfully with my mother to get Chinese. Oh yes, these are the perks. And just about the extent of them, because my friends, being sick is just about the most miserable thing on the face of the planet. I have spent the last three days feeling like my head is going to explode at any moment, and sometimes it does in the form of violent sneezes, while the rest of the time I'm so stuffed up I can't hardly breathe. Sleeping is a joke--I spent half my time trying to breathe, and the other half failing to breathe, and the entire time being completely uncomfortable and generally miserable. And this is just a common cold! I've never really had any terrible illnesses, but thank you ma'am, this is well enough for me! Guh!


"Don't judge a book by it's movie"

It's official. I've decided not to see the Twilight movie.

I know. Stay with me.

I love the book. You can either gasp and enthusiastically agree, or you can begin listing your criticisms. Whatever. I'm not a freak about it like a lot of people, but I have my own kind of enthusiasm (which most often results in me re-reading them a gazillion times.) For these reasons, I have decided not to see the movie.

First of all, I just don't think it will live up to expectations. You KNOW that it won't be the same as what you see in your head. The only person's vision it will even come close to realizing is the director's. Everybody else is screwed.

I don't want to change the vision I have in my head. I like it. I like my own impressions, my own memories of the times I've read it, the images I have created for myself. I don't need a visual substitute. I want to keep my own Twilight.

This is not even beginning to start on what I think of the actor choices, the acting choices, the directorial and sfx choices, or even the quality of the production company. You can rest assured that I have those opinions, but they are the least of why I'm not going.

Maybe I'll see it when it comes out on dvd. It will have less of a lasting impression then, especially if I watch it with the lights on and while I'm distracted. But that also depends on what people think of it--whether I decide at that point whether its even worth watching at all.

To those of you who are going, I wish you the best. I hope that you enjoy it, and that it only increases your enjoyment of the books. Because, as a writer myself, I can only hope that these books-turned-movies increase a love of books in the first place.



Today has really sucked at work. We lost a HUGE account yesterday, and it was in big part me and my coworker's fault, and we got not only a critical email from the CEO, but also had to go in and have a meeting with him about what we can change and do better in the future. In addition, it's been declared a Stupid People Day. We have one every couple of weeks, when it seems that all of the most concentratedly stupid people decide they all need to call in on the same day and make us miserable.

And so today I find myself drinking Dr. Shasta (which is in no way an acceptable replacement for Dr. Pepper, but is provided by the company for my consumption, so I can't really complain), and listening to my new cathartic treatment: a dose of symphonicky metal with female and other interesting vocalists. ie Nightwish (which happens to be a favorite of my pops), Within Temptation, Evanescence, and even a little bit of DragonForce (the song I really like of theirs being, of course, "Through the Fire and Flames". All the others sound the same.) God bless Pandora!

I'm also trying to work on my novel, but one of my protagonists is putting me through hell, and I don't know what to do with him. So if anybody has any random thoughts concerning my tremulous plotline, I would certainly appreciate them. You wouldn't believe from what I can pull my muse!


Today, a writer.

For those of you who haven't heard of NaNoWriMo, basically several hundred thousand people across the world get together every November and try to write a novel--or rather, 50,000 words--from 12:01am November 1st until 11:59pm November 30th. For most people, 50k is a challenging but achievable goal over the course of thirty days, and though much silliness often abounds, there is nevertheless a supportive community who very seriously aim for this goal.

In light of this project, and also in light of my own aspiring-author-community struggling to find time to write, this morning I sponsored a write-a-thon for my immediate friends.

I served french toast (and later quesadillas), and we had a massive brainstorming/writing session, though admittedly there was more of the former than of the latter. Mostly, it was just the idea of getting together to write that I personally enjoyed, even though I didn't actually get much done. We talked about ideas, about books, and about physics and mathematical theories, about the nature of matter and energy and void. We discussed different systems of magic, and different writing approaches.

There is a certain amount of excitement associated with writing. It's very like creating. It's art, and there is nothing else quite like it for me. It's a wonderful and beautiful thing, and it makes me exceptionally happy.


An Indulgence

Normally I try to avoid using this blog to "rant", though I'm not sure how often I succeed, and I certainly try to avoid just simple complaining. I don't enjoy reading complainer-blogs, and I doubt you do either. And yet, tonight I beg you to indulge me in a rant-like question.

Why are boys oblivious? And why at such inconvenient times?

I haven't been frustrated like this in a long time--probably because I haven't really liked a guy for a long time. Which isn't to say I really like a guy now, merely to say that these old feelings are resurfacing, and I find them as equally frustrating as I did the last time I experienced them.

I mean, a girl likes a guy, she flirts with him pretty obviously, and yet...no response! What's a girl to do? He's not interested--not that he's unfriendly, quite the opposite! too much friendship and not enough of a little something else. Something more special.

Why? Why are women thus so plagued?

Thank you. Rant completed.


Election Day

I really wanted to vote this morning before work, but then I didn't get up as early as I had wanted to, and I feared--rightfully--the lines at the polling place. Our head programmer was over an hour late to work today because of the voting lines, so it turns out a good thing that I waited. However, I think next time around I will make a greater effort to get up and vote early.

And so, at 5:00pm I made my way to my polling place over at the junior high, where I was admitted promptly, quickly tapped my way through the ballot, printed, ejected, got my puny "I Voted!" sticker, and left. It was all rather anticlimactic, I'll admit.

I've been idly discussing with my cousin the high hopes of turning Utah into a blue--or at least battleground--state, and the idea holds a great appeal. I'd like to live somewhere where people don't scorn me for saying that my vote--or theirs!--matters. A place where the vote isn't taken for granted, but where there is real question and the outcome of every persons vote DOES matter.

Today at work, out of boredom more than anything, I ended up discussing Prop 8 with my coworker. This has become a national debate, the results affecting far more than just California citizens. Cindy and I could come to no conclusion. I still don't know how I feel about it. On the one hand, I have many gay and lesbian friends, and a big part of me supports their desire to marry and have the same legal status as hetero couples. On the other hand, I have my religious beliefs that state a marriage is between a man and a woman. I wish that it didn't have to become a legal issue, and could remain a religious battle. In my mind, what right--what honest, legal right--does a government have to define, limit or impune upon the rite of marriage? Is it not strictly a religious observance in the first place? And yet, due to differing and contending belief systems, it has become an unfortunate and violent legal battle, and an exhaustive one at that.

At any rate, I just wanted to say that I am proud to have voted today, proud to have supported my candidates in this tight race--if not in Utah, then at least across the face of this ridiculous nation.


New Stupid Human Trick

Tonight at my sister's birthday dinner, I learned how to balance a spoon on my nose. It is stupid human tricks like this that remind me of the wonderfully ridiculous side of human nature.

Love you, Pops!