Saturday, November 21, 2009

When life gets in the way of life

You ever found yourself wondering just where in the heck two weeks went? That's how I felt tonight when I checked my own blog and realized it had been several weeks since I updated.

When I first started this blog I religiously posted every week. My blogging days were either Tuesday or Wednesday. Sometimes, I'd throw in a random post over the weekend, just to keep my readers on their toes. But over the past year, life (i.e. a full time job, two-book contract, tons of outside obligations) has gotten in the way of what was once my normal schedule. There is no such thing as a normal schedule anymore.

As I forge ahead into the busy holiday season I don't see things calming down all that much. Well, except for the week that I'll be on a cruise ship sailing around the Eastern Carribean. Things should be very calm that week, but you won't see me posting.

However, I plan to return to a regular posting schedule and I'm hoping to bring a different flavor to my blog. While I'll continue to talk shop--because, hey, I am a writer and writing is what I love to talk about--I also want to bring in the sights and sounds of the world around me. Prepare for more "vlogs" (that's video blogs), pictures of a few exciting places I plan to visit in the near future, and sights around Austin, this wonderful city I now call home.

Oh, and stay tuned for my next post. I'm planning to usher in National Buy A Book By A Black Author And Give It To Someone Not Black Month with a contest!

Monday, November 09, 2009

My Friend, the CIA Operative!

Okay, so I know this will sound like something out of a fiction novel, but believe me, I can't make this stuff up.

On September 20, 2009, I lost a very dear friend to breast cancer. I hate cancer. Despise it. Wish I could run it over with my car. But I digress...

I met my friend Andrea via a message board nearly a decade ago. She, along with a group of the coolest women in the world, became some of my closest friends in the world.

Several years ago Andrea moved from Texas to Washington D.C. and joined the State Department (or so everyone thought. The title of this post should tip you off to how this story will end). Andrea went to Iraq twice. Her first trip was interrupted by the breast cancer diagnosis. She came back to the States, kicked the cancer's butt, then went right back to Iraq. I remember thinking she was out of her mind to go back and do "administrative work for the State Department" in Iraq. Why couldn't she do it from a safe little office in D.C.?

Anyway, earlier this year, Drea (our name for her), was once again forced to leave Iraq due to cancer. This time the news wasn't so good. Stage Four cancer in various parts of her body. It was a crushing diagnoses, but she would not allow it to ruin her spirit. She fought harder than anyone I've ever seen with this disease. She was such an inspiration.

Several weeks ago at her memorial service on the campus of her beloved Texas A&M, the sixteen women from our group of friends who were able to make the service found out there was much more to our friend Andrea than any of us knew. That job with the "State Department" was actually with the Central Intelligence Agency. She was a covert operative who performed dangerous missions to gather intelligence for US Special Forces.

That's just cool, people. Seriously, seriously cool.

I still can't wrap my brain around it. For such a girly girl, it's so amazing to imagine her carrying weapons and infiltrating enemy sites. My friend, the CIA Operative.

Check out the picture of her with a rocket launcher! Yes, a rocket launcher! I'm so proud of our girl.

Here's a link to an article published today about Andrea: A CIA operative's fight against terrorism reaches Texas A&M

Rest in peace, Drea.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Great NaNoWriMo Mistake

This past Sunday I blogged about November being National Novel Writing Month, and my sudden desire to participate. After less than a week, I remembered why writing events such as NaNoWriMo are detrimental to my writing. I’ve been totally obsessed with word count!

This constant checking of my word count after every paragraph is driving my crazy. I don’t want to be a slave to word count. And I don’t want to compare myself to others who are churning out 4000 words a day. That’s not my natural writing rhythm, and usually I’m fine with it. It’s not until I join something like NaNoWriMo and start questioning why can’t I do that that it becomes a problem. I need to be okay with having a 700 word count day, because I know the 2000 day will come soon enough.

So after less than a week, I’m out of NaNoWriMo. Best of luck to those who are participating. For me, it’s back to one page, one paragraph, one word at a time. That’s good enough for me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Today is November 1st. Being a Catholic, for most of my life this date has meant visiting cemeteries and placing flowers on grave sites. But ever since I stepped into the world of writing, the first of November has taken on a whole new meaning. Today is the start of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, or even NaNo for the really lazy people.

I'm pretty sure my blog readers who are also writers have heard of this growing phenomenon, but for those of you who haven't, here's how it works: You write. That's it. From November 1st to the 31st, you write your butt off with the goal of reaching 50,000 words. For me, that's a novel.

I had pretty much made up my mind not to take part in NaNoWriMo. I don't do well with structured writing tasked. However, when I awoke way earlier than I wanted to this morning (the sun shines right into my bedroom window, ack!), there was a sense of purpose surrounding me that had not been there when I laid my head on the pillow last night. November is the month I promised I'd have my current work-in-progress completed, and I knew I had to do something.

So, yes, I'm now "unofficially" taking part in NaNoWriMo. I'm debating whether I should login to the official site or use places like Facebook (there are several groups there), or even Twitter (use #NaNoWriMo) to keep track of my progress.

Whatever medium I choose to track my progress, the most important thing is that I make progress. I will have this book done by Thanksgiving. Hopefully, NaNoWriMo can help.

The obvious question is how many of you out there are participating in NaNoWriMo? If not this year, have you done so in the past? How did it help or hurt?