Gearing up for NaNoWriMo!

This is the first year I’ll be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s been over five months since I wrote my thesis, so I hope my brain has recovered enough for the challenge. I first heard about NaNoWriMo earlier this year via author Marissa Meyer, who used it to work on her first novel Cinder.

My untitled novel will be a YA fantasy story. Here’s the initial elevator pitch:
On the floating island of Upari, there is magic in the…hair. Follicular mages are caught up in the Upari-wide civil war headed by the priests and the scholars who are trying to determine the origins of their island, and if the legend of a land below is true. One woman, gifted with different types of magic, discovers only she can end the war.

I have the most basic of outlines, mostly in my head. I know parts of the middle and the end of the story. Is writing about writing an acceptable form of outline procrastination?

Writing starts November 1!

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Finally finished The Hobbit, and other book commentary

FAIR WARNING, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD! ARRR!

Apologies to those who were spoiled. Continue reading at your own risk.

I’m the type of person who likes to read the book before seeing the movie. At long last, I’ve finished reading The Hobbit. I’m so sad that I was disappointed! I think my problem was that there was no (in my mind) overarching bad guy–yes, Gollum was near the beginning, the goblins were in the middle and end, and Smaug was not as tough as I thought he’d be. My biggest disappointment was the death of Smaug. I was so hoping it would be Bilbo or one of the dwarves who killed him, but no, it was the newcomer Bard, who was introduced on the previous page. I’m not sure how Peter Jackson’s stringing this on to three movies, but I guess we’ll see.

I’ve been able to finally read a few other books that I received for Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthday last year, and had to put off due to thesis work. Unfortunately, not all of them were good reads. Another sad disappointing recent read was Tamora Pierce’s Mastiff, the last book in the Beka Cooper trilogy. I normally love Tamora Pierce’s books–I have all of the Tortall ones, and most of them on audiobook as well. I call the Alanna books my “happy girl-power books” :-). That being said, I just couldn’t get into Beka Cooper. It took me a couple to times to like the first two books, Terrier and Bloodhound, but Mastiff was a different story. I found the pacing slow, and felt that Beka was a different character, more sullen than in previous books. Even Farmer, who was so George-like in his charades, lost my respect in the prison scene. And let’s not get started with the traitor. Tunstall was such a noble character in the first two books, it’s so hard to believe he would go to such lengths to become a traitor. Sigh.

One book I am excited to read is Babylon Confidential by actress Claudia Christian. It’s so brave of her to be so honest about addiction, and to share it with the world. Hopefully many people who read it will find the help they need.

The curse of the mysterious fleas; or, how I found out I had labyrinthitis

To preface this, I would like to point out that Hubby and I do not own any furry pets. I’m allergic to cats and dogs. Our “children” currently consist of three African dwarf frogs, some snails, and various plants.

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Here are the froggies at Devil’s Tower. They moved across the country with us two years ago.

Anywho, I say this to have you understand that we have had no contact with fuzzy creatures in quite a while. Which is why we received quite a start two weeks ago when I woke up with my legs covered in flea bites (yes, we’re sure they’re fleas as we’ve seen and killed them). Now, Hubby and I are generally clean people; yes, we may leave the occasional sock lying around, but we’re not slobs. Did I mention this all was happening during our fourth wedding anniversary? There was a wonderful reenactment of our wedding-eve night (we had spent it in different places for logistical reasons) where I slept on the couch because I was very sick of getting bit (Hubby has mystical flea-repelling skin, and barely gets bit). We cleaned and vacuumed and laundried (is laundried a verb?) ’til we were blue in the face. We used flea-killing carpet powder, with a lovely potpourri scent. We were in the clear…

…or so we thought.

After a few blissfully flea-free days, I woke up on a Wednesday with some bites on my back, which Hubby lovingly referred to as my Harry Potter lightning scar. I went about my day, but at work started to feel very nauseous and dizzy. This went on for a few days, and after receiving a handful of other bites (including a lovely Orion’s Belt on my stomach), we started to wonder if I had picked something up from said pests. The only song in my head was Rats! by The Reduced Shakespeare Company, which is about the Bubonic Plague:

It’s a strange and new disease
That’s carried by the fleas
That live up on the rats

Yikes! Went to the doctor, and she said it had nothing to do with the fleas or the flea powder my smart asthmatic brain decided to put on the carpet. No, I have labyrinthitis (which spell check just changed to “lazy thirties”–I’m not quite 30 yet!), which is a bacterial or viral disease of the inner ear that causes one to feel nauseous and dizzy (or in my terms, wonky), and there is no cure and it should go away in a few weeks. A few weeks?!? I’ve already missed so much work that I’m in the negatives in sick time! I am truly frustrated with this. I have anti-nausea pills, which help, but moving around is what makes me dizzy, and most of my job involves movement. I tried to sit at the computer and just do data entry today, but even that didn’t work. Sigh.

At least the fleas appear to be gone. We are guessing they came either from the giant dog that moved into the apartment upstairs (I’m picturing fleas in tiny parachutes jumping down into our windows), or the cat down the hall that mysteriously ends up in the hallway on a semi-frequent basis. We did tell the apartment manager about all of this, and he said he’d get an exterminator out. However, he called me one day with no advanced warning saying the exterminator was here and we had to vacate the apartment for 4-5 hours. Problem was, we only have one car, and, as it was Hubby’s day off, I had it at work, so he had nowhere to go. As we hadn’t seen any fleas or received any bites in a few days, we cancelled that appointment.

I think I just felt something on my leg.