A lot of life, a little story

A quick update on life, and then I promise I'll talk about fiction. This weekend is Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle. Originally I took Friday off to have a three day weekend to spend in Seattle. I bought our tickets months ago. Now, March 2015 - I'm looking at a financial and reality crunch: our three days with hotel turned in to one day and sleeping in the car, a cheap hotel if we can find it. As I write this, we'll be leaving for Seattle around 3am (roughly a five hour drive), listening to an audio book [Sabriel by Garth Nix, via Audible] (historically, I will sleep the entire way) and trying to make the convention the best we can. This will probably be our last "big" trip together. Emerald City ComICon #ECCC

I have a skeleton plan for #ECCC: I want to visit Aspen Comics (they were not there last year), find a Keyblade from a vendor, and try my best to get a photograph of Alex Kingston. I'd also like to get one piece of artwork specifically for my new apartment.

Thursday night was complicated. Whether it was my own overactive imagination turning against me (because I am not writing), or a miscommunication, or a simple case of a having a friend who doesn't give a fuck--I ended up with 4 bottles of wine (bought 1 I knew I liked, 1 for a friend; while waiting, tried it and hated it, went back for a replacement... bought 1 replacement, and 1 more of the one I knew I liked: 2 turned to 4, wine magic!), a bit of crying and a few hours of my life wasted when I should have been writing instead of over-thinking the situation.

So Friday morning I slept in to tried and recover my hurt feelings. Joe says it best: "Your overactive imagination hurts you more than anyone else ever could." I told him how I felt; he told he how he would have handled the situation (differently, as you can imagine). He knows me better than I know myself.

Our plan was to go and check out a series of apartments and put in applications where I could. I was feeling pretty down (which is a seriously terrible place to be, when your best (male) friend is the man whose heart you broke). And yet, against everything, Joe brings me breakfast and insists that we go and correct the issue.

Apartment #1 in Coeur d'Alene (15 miles from my current home): I'm informed over the telephone that I make $0.69 too much per hour to qualify for a Low Income apartment (I make $10.69). The woman wasn't very clear, and I was immediately angry. I think I'll call back again and ask more questions. My understanding is that Low Income housing is government regulated and the Idaho 50% median for Low Income for one person is a gross income below $20,500 (I make $18,900~).

Apartment #2 was back in Post Falls (current city). I was pleased with the receptionist. Joe took the application, filled it out -- and had me sign it. It's a simple gesture, but he knew it was stressful for me. Life, it seems, is too stressful for me. I haven't filled out a rental application in years. This was a basic, pre-application (no credit check, background or rental history yet), but it was the first step to get on the inevitable waiting list. I put myself on a waiting list for 1 and 2 bedroom apartment in a Low Income apartment complex.

Apartment #3 was the same application but the office was closed; again, Joe filled it out, I signed it, and we put it in the drop box. On a waiting list for a 1 bedroom.

Apartment #4 was in Liberty Lake (about 15 miles in the opposite direction towards Washington) but the prices were a bust. I couldn't afford the one bedroom, and their Low Income housing was for seriously low wages (1 person had to make less than $12,000 gross).

That was enough progress for one day. I was pretty jaded by the end of it, and thankful to have Joe with me. My taxes came back, and I needed to spend a little money. It always cheers me up. It's not the healthiest habit to have when you're trying to save money or when you don't have it to begin with. I started small. Safeway for some Sweet-o's (2 for $5; 1 for the road trip, 1 for later), a cinnamon type Cheeto that we sold at work for about 3 days, just long enough to get me hooked on them...

Then we decided to go the Mall, to visit my favorite clothing store (do you see disaster approaching?). We went to Hot Topic, and I found a pair of earrings that I had honestly owned about 15 years ago. The same exact pair. SOLD.

Hot Topic Earrings

I love this little Asian run clothing store called Red Fox. Luckily nothing fit (I wear a Large there... and it's mostly Small and Medium). We wandered the mall for a bit, shared lunch (Flaming Wok), and left.

With some of my taxes sitting in my bank -- I know that now is the last time in a very long time I'll be able to do certain things without seriously budgeting. I knew I needed a toner cartridge for my Brother Printer (if I'm going to be printing manuscripts to edit soon!). I'd been putting that off for a long time. Now or never (or not without asking for help). Went to Staples, dropped $55 on a cartridge that will get me ~1,400 black and white prints (seriously closer to ~2,800 on toner save mode). It should realistically last me a year. Then we went to Target to get some work clothes. The summer is coming up and I wear a Mad Scientist uniform. It's hot, and heavy, and black. So I convinced my boss to let me wear a black t-shirt and an apron instead. Three black t-shirts, 2 black tank-tops later (standing in the check out mostly in black already), a song came to mind...


My last stop was Walgreens to buy a bottle of perfume that I've wanted for a while. A knock off of another brand; but that's where I am in life: knock offs, food stamps and leaning on friends and family. Midlife crisis? Well, my hair is teal, and my life expectancy isn't higher than 60 so... yes, maybe?

After shopping was over, I felt better. I can't say "much" better, but I was able to not think

Enough About Life, Tell Me About Fiction

Enough about life. Let me talk about fiction. April is fast approaching, and that means: Camp National Novel Writing Month. And you know I have a title, and a premise, and maybe not much more than that. The rule about #CampNaNoWriMo is that you can't start writing the actual story until April 1st. Not even, technically, snippets of dialogue (which I really prefer to do). So I'm left with the reality that I need to write an outline or I risk the story dying half-way through conception.

I had a half a bottle of wine left over (it's bubbly, I couldn't let it go flat and waste it...), and a chip on my shoulder. I decided I'd start an outline tonight, damn it. Hours before a trip out of town. As per usual, I didn't get as much progress done as I'd like (by now I've spent more time writing this blog than I did constructively thinking of the outline itself).

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I used the notebook cards I had started a week (or two) ago. I laid them out on the table. I'm using a system by James V. Smith called "The Ten Scene Plotting Tool." Someone made a wonderful little PDF of the file which can be found here. James V. Smith wrote a book called "The Writer's Little Helper" and I love it. I couldn't find my copy tonight but I was able to find the PDF online so that was enough to get me started.

Using that format, I knew I needed 10 major scenes. The only part I'm really confident about at the moment is my beginning. So that's where I started.

Caution: strong emotional scenes ahead, not friendly to those of faith or squeaky clean morals (of which I am not). The Renegade Messiah begins with drunken sex, an unplanned pregnancy and an abortion. It's not going to be an easy story for me to write--or for you to read. I promise it will be gritty, and something exciting will rise up from the ashes of the main character's life: I just don't know what that is yet.

So if those topics bother you, I'm going to politely as you to stop reading. Try one of my other stories instead.

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This 3x5 card layout (the "Scene Intention," "Complication" and "Result") style is from "Make A Scene" by Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

I basically drank my wine, laid on the floor and thought about my life. I thought about some of the mistakes I had made. I thought about one of my dad's favorite movie ("The Game"), and worked in a scene about the abortion clinic disappearing from the story. I thought about my friend who causes so much pain in my life, and has no idea. I thought about my own past, of ex boyfriends and the one time in my life I ever really disagreed with my parents.

I wrote out a page of outline notes from the Prequel and the Opening scene.

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I'm taking the advice of a writer friend: I haven't picked out the setting yet. I'm leaning towards a Post Apocalyptic / Wasteland just because of how gritty it feels. I guess I'll find out on April 1st!

It turns out, I need to follow the same advice I'm giving to my protagonist: let it go.