Monday, September 28, 2015

Rain rain go away

Rain, rain go away; now we've got to pour the foundation another day . . .

The rain might be good for the trees (I've been hauling a water hose around from tree to tree for weeks), but the rain today has completely blown our schedule. The contractor was supposed to pour the foundation this morning.

The piers have been drilled and poured, the foundation beams have been dug out, plumbing lines set, the moisture barrier has been placed over the entire thing, and steel, yards and yards of steel, has been set, we've passed the inspections. Now all we need is concrete.

I haven't heard if the contractor was able to get it rescheduled for tomorrow, or if we're now pushed a couple days out. But I'll post pictures as soon as it's done.

I posted pictures taken from the street when the forms went up.

Here's a different view. This is from back to front.

Monday, September 21, 2015

College football in our future

I'm so proud and excited college football is in our future.

This weekend, Oldest verbally committed to play football for Colorado School of Mines. He attended Mines's football camp back in June and was offered a scholarship on the spot. It was quite an honor.

Now, after three months of researching the school, discussing the pros and cons (not many cons except that it's so far from home), and a visit this last weekend for campus tours and a football game, he's made up his mind. Mines it is.

USA Today has ranked Colorado School of Mines the #1 engineering school in the nation two years in a row. Quite an endorsement. And living in Houston, the energy capital of the United States, we were well aware of Mine's stellar reputation.

When it became apparent during the visit that Oldest had decided to commit, the Works hit the Mines bookstore pretty hard. We've now got t-shirts, caps, bumperstickers, coffee mugs, you name it. They said we were their best customer of the weekend.

Here's sweet baby boy (all 6'4" 245 pounds of him) after the game with one of the Mines's mascots. The other mascot is a live burro named Blaster--cutest dang thing ever. Notice the Colorado weather in the picture--64 degrees and sunny at game time. Colorado weather was definitely a pro.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Writing every day

It's amazing what happens when you write everyday--a book takes shape.

With the first couple chapters complete, seven scenes, exactly, like a form emerging from a heavy fog, I can see the image of a book taking shape. It's exhilarating.

I've introduced most of the main characters. Sprinkled in bits of backstory. Leaked morsels of information that hint at motive and means. Tossed in a bit of early sexual tension, and voila!

But it hasn't been a piece of cake. (Oops, a writer's not supposed to use cliches like 'piece of cake.' I'll work on that.)

I still struggle with pacing. Sometimes it's hard to slow my writing down. When I get into a scene and  am excited about the story, I tend to fire off dialogue too clip-clip-clip. So I often go back and look for places to expand the story where it needs it. Sometimes I add narrative to show emotion or describe setting. Sometimes it's to further develop character or heighten suspense. But I continue to struggle with pacing.

Another thing, one that's more uncomfortable than hard to get used to, is the time spent staring into space, fishing my brain for an idea, or just the right word or phrase. Is this normal? Am I the only writer that does this?

Hmm . . . I'll go with no.

I can't possibly be the only writer that spends time staring into space, but none of the interviews with bestselling authors that I've read mentions it. But how else can you explain an author like Stephen King, who says in his book On Writing that he writes four to six hours a day, and shoots for 2,000 words? He'd have to be a slower typer than my terrier mix to not have more than 2,000 words after four to six hours. So Stephen King must stare into space some. Right? Right.

Changing the subject a bit, there's something else I found interesting in King's book.  He says about reading, "The trick is to teach yourself how to read in small sips as well as long swallows." I've taken this bit of advice to heart when it comes to writing, as well as reading.

I learned early on that waiting until I had large chunks of time available to write was a mistake. Nothing got written. With three kids, three dogs, one husband, and a dream home under construction, I don't often have large chunks of time. I've taught myself how to write in sips. I think I'll find it an invaluable talent.

But enough time chronicling my life here, I've got to get back to daydreaming . . . I mean writing.

Here's Daisy daydreaming on the seat cushion behind me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book Update - Feast and famine

This writing a novel thing is hard - really hard. At the beginning, I set a goal to write 2,000 words per day. So far, so good. far, so pretty good.

But it's the disparity between the times the words come so quickly that I can't type fast enough, and the times I sit and stare at the screen like an illiterate idiot incapable of stringing three words together, that's so surprising (and excruciating).

I've had writing sessions where I was able to knock out the 2,000 words in only a couple hours. Those are great. Those are the times that, when finished, I think, I got this. Shannon Work, novelist. Piece of cake.


There are the times it seems the lid to my treasure trove of ideas has not only been slammed shut, but nailed closed for ever. Yikes. That's when self-doubt creeps in and I wonder, Who am I kidding? I don't have the talent for this. What was I thinking?

But I keep going. And when I need to, I use words of wisdom from a couple favorite authors as a literary kick in the ass.
"I will beat it. I will wrestle it to the ground. It will not defeat me."  - Nora Roberts on never quitting on a  manuscript. 
"Learning to write is no different than leaning to play the guitar, or drive a car, or use a computer--the more you do it, the better you become...It takes work, hard work, lots of work and dedication." - Sandra Brown 
"There ain't no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time." - Nora Roberts again. She's so quotable -- I love her. 
Here's one of my Nora stacks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

House Update - We have forms!

With a three month - I repeat, three month - delay in getting the city permit, we were finally able to start the foundation last week.

First, the contractors drilled, formed, and poured the piers, about 50 of them. Then they scraped clean the excess dirt from the pad. At this point, our lot looked like it had just gone in for hair plugs. Clusters of steel rebar appeared to sprout from the ground in linear rows.

Today, despite an early morning rain, contractors were able to set all the forms that delineate the perimeter of the house, including porches and garage.

Here's the left side. That's my dining room in front, kitchen behind it, and garage in the way back, farther to the left. (Work with me.)

Here's the middle. That's the entry porch, foyer, and gallery that extends the length of the house, front to back. (I know, I know, that back fence is hideous. I've got plans for it. Wait and see.)

Finally, the right side. That's the library in front, great room behind it, and my master closet to the far right with bedroom behind that.