Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm the new Chicago hot dog lady!

Yes, you read that right. I'm the new Chicago Hot Dog Examiner! What's new in the hot dog world? What are the best toppings? What are the best kind of dogs... and where can you find them? I'll be answering all of these questions - and more - over at

My first article went up yesterday about what makes a Chicago-style hot dog.

I'm having SO much fun with this. Questions have been poring in to my email inbox, so feel free to jump in and ask your burning questions about the Chicago dog, too!

Of course, with this new stint, I've been a bit distracted from the novel. I'm still shooting for all the deadlines I gave myself, but I know they're going to be a little bit more hard to beat now that I'm writing about hot dogs.

I like saying that: I write about hot dogs.

Check it out now, and check back often.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WIP Wednesday #5

My writing comes in waves. I write a ton and then… it trickles. I’ve been like this for years – not counting my year in grad school where I wrote every day because every day I had either a deadline or a goal that I needed to meet if I was to get my thesis done (which I did). But I graduated from The University of Chicago about a year ago, and my writing went back to coming in waves. In last week’s WIP Wednesday posting, I recounted all the progress I made in the previous three weeks – and then that wave of work ended. This past week I’ve been working on only one lonely chapter, and I haven’t made a drop of progress.

I want to get back to being as productive as I was back in grad school. Granted, I don’t have entire days to devote to my work – I have to pay back those grad school loans somehow! – but I know there’s more that I can do, and that’s why I wrote yesterday’s post and created some pretty hefty deadlines for myself. The deadlines make me a bit nervous, but I kind of like it that way. I have distinct goals that I can tick off each week; I can measure my progress. These deadlines – and thereby my nerves – help hold me accountable.

Then again, last night my daily writing consisted of writing the beginning of a story that got stuck in my head on my way to work, and that had nothing to do with my novel… but at least I was writing.

I’ve got a lot to do in the next two weeks – writing and otherwise – so back to it!

As always, happy writing!
If you want to join in on WIP Wednesday, check out Kate's blog here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Writing Schedule, or Keeping Tabs Tuesday

It's time to hold myself accountable. If I'm going to finish this novel by the end of the year, I have to pick up (and keep up) that pace. That said, below is the consolidated schedule of deadlines for my WIP - lofty goals, I know, but the more I keep you updated, the more motivation I have.

For most (if not all) of you, these deadlines, number of chapters, etc. mean very little - I'm not giving details of the chapters away because you're going to one day read my book - so feel free to skip to the end and leave an encouraging note, or two. =)

By June 30th:
- Finish revising/rewriting chapters 8 through 11
- Do a major rewrite of chapters 12 & 13 (this is where the majority of the rewriting work begins!)
- Research the Champ de Mars massacre & the Catacombs a bit more
- Keep reading Plutarch's Lives
- Update outline and sequence of events timeline - both for 1793 and 2005 - to make sure the novel remains consistent


By July 7th:
- Rewrite/revise chapters 14 & 15
- Read more of Marat's writings... this may alter a few key scenes in chapters 14 & 15
- Keep reading Plutarch's Lives


With each subsequent Tuesday, from July 15th to the 28th, serving as a deadline, I'll revise/rewrite two to three more chapters each week. One week will include adding an entirely new chapter that is desperately needed; let's refer to this, for now, as "Anne's second rebellion."

*AND MAYBE, YA KNOW, ENJOY THE SUMMER WEATHER... well, if it ever comes to Chicago*

I should be moving north to Roscoe Village about this time of the month, which will force me to take a break, for sure. I'll need to get settled into my new place!

But, then back to the keyboard, with deadlines restarting every Tuesday beginning August 11th. Again, rewriting/revising two to three chapters every week (allowing for most weeks to only be two chapters) up until September 8th.


So, that's my goal! By September 8th, I'll have an entirely new 1st POV draft of my novel that will hopefully be a huge step closer to being done...

And then PARIS! Well, maybe. Hopefully. The financial situation is not what it needs to be right now for a trip, so I might be living vicariously through Paris blogs for a few months longer. In that case, I'll re-evaluate the novel, plan what I need to do, and then maybe take a break from the manuscript.

No, not maybe. Definitely. I'm making some huge overhauls in the next couple months, and I need to make sure I have a clear head when I come back to this draft, ready to make some final revisions!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

If This Was Me...

... I'd ask for monetary compensation, instead of asking for the billboard to be taken down.

So the story goes, a Missouri family was shocked to learn that a family photo of theirs was posted as an advertisement in Prague. Read the story here.

Crazy! But it's a compliment, right?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WIP Wednesday #4

It's been awhile, I know. My computer still has a virus, and until I get that fixed, I'm using my boyfriend's laptop - which is fine (even if it's disconcerting to look at the keyboard and see Chinese characters) but I know I haven't spent as much time writing as I should be.

It hasn't helped that I'm still having issues with my eyes. The eye doc says (after four appointments in the last two months) that my eyes are getting better and the nasty eye infection from my building's pool is starting to clear up enough that I can wear contacts again - finally! (But only for a couple hours, every couple days. Yeah. Seriously.) I've also been hunting for a new apartment, and am possibly moving further north but still well within Chicago city limits. I've been out of town, gone to weddings, have been volunteer teaching right after work... I know. I'm just making excuses for myself. I still need to write every day and keep plugging along! That said, despite my absence from my blog, I am making progress on the novel, albeit slowly.

In the three weeks since my last WIP Wednesday posting, I've revised/rewritten Chapters 4 through 10... okay. Wow. I didn't realize that until I looked it up. Seven chapters ain't so bad!

What I've been working on:

  • Changing the POV from third to first person. I hit a couple road-blocks when Anne had her first time-travelling experience; the POV shift meant that her entire relationship to Charlotte changed. At first I didn't see how this would work. Would Anne just float around like a ghost watching everything? Nope! She becomes Charlotte, and I feel like I can say that without giving too much away. I'm still working out a few kinks - does Anne automatically know what Charlotte knows? - but so far, so good.
  • Anne's voice. Ohmy. She sounds more like a teenager than ever before. Thank you first person! Not only that, but the dynamics of her relationship with the grand-mother she's never met before are coming out like never before. They clearly both want to get to know one another, but don't know how without coming off snippy and resentful because of their pasts.
  • Incorporating more French Revolution history but not overwhelming the reader with too many dates, facts, etc. This is something I'll be working on until the novel is finished!
  • Giving enough context for what's going on with France's 2005 riots for some of the scenes to make sense. So far, so good - but I still feel like I don't know enough about the riots. This frustrates me, so if anyone has any good resources, knows anyone I can talk to, please let me know!

Looking forward:

  • I'm approaching the midway point of my novel, which makes me nervous. This is the least revised part of my book and I KNOW how much works needs to be done.
  • The ending. I had a total 'light-bulb' moment two days ago about the novel's twist. That's all I'll say, otherwise it won't be a 'twist'! I might even write this twist (and the novel's ending) before I write the middle, because I'm way more excited about it and how it'll impact Anne and Charlotte.

As always, happy writing!

If you want to join in on WIP Wednesday, check out Kate's blog here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Morning

I live in Chicago, and even though my place is just a couple blocks from Millennium Park, I'm in the center of a concrete jungle. So, imagine my surprise on my way to work, when I see a sord of ducks - a mommy mallard leading seven ducklings - just outside the Aon Center.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the ducks I first noticed, but the way people reacted to them. People took out their cameras (unfortunately, I didn't have mine), commuters who typically didn't give the time of day to their fellow sidewalk walkers chatted about how cute the ducklings were, and - what really caught my attention - two taxi cab drivers and a handful of people coaxed a couple ducklings out from under a cab. The same cabbies who mercilessly honk at anything and anyone in hopes of speeding through the yellow light and cut you off, whether you're a pedestrian or fellow driver, were taking the time to get make sure these ducklings got up onto the sidewalk.

The mama duck didn't seem to notice too much, as she quacked and led the way between the Lakeshore Fitness Center and Aon buildings. As she waddled away, as if it were any normal day, people stopped, took notice, and helped the ducklings. And that, I must say, is a great way to start my Monday morning.

(The above picture is clearly one I didn't take - not only because I didn't have my camera, but also because there's no grass near my building. But I had to add a pic; after all, ducklings are adorable!)