Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sort of a Public Service Announcement

I teach entry level science courses at the University of New Mexico, and one of the most baffling things I’ve come across is that there are people who don’t believe or trust the data about climate change. I swear I’m not going to go into this more than this once. This is my PSA.

I’ve had students who could believe that we are pumping water from the aquifer faster than it is replenishing. I’ve had students who could believe that length of day has changed due to orbital resonance with the moon. But every time I talk about climate change, I get some student who refuses to believe the data. There’s a ton of data on climate change. It isn’t my field of expertise (I only study the rocks that fall from the sky, everything else is someone else’s problem), but I can speak competently on the subject. It makes me crazy when they come up to me after class and ask me “Well isn’t all of this complete bologna? Remember that scientist whose emails proved he was throwing out data that didn’t fit his model?”

That guy got a lot of press, and the nay sayers sure have spread that story. Interestingly, they didn’t spread the story about his exoneration. Typical. And so every semester, I’m confronted with another student (sometimes they travel in tribes), and I have to tell them about how the data is not really something that can be argued with, that really any idiot (even a sloppy scientist) could collect temperature data using a relatively calibrated thermometer (a tool we’ve had since the 1850s). And any idiot could easily see the global temperature change, irrespective of its cause.


Well, this year I have finally found the one thing that seems to put aside all the bitter infighting about global climate change, and I’m passing it on to you. It is a fantastic thought experiment, and I highly recommend you give it a look. And then share it with everyone you know. Seriously, as an Earth Scientist, I’m with the doomsayers, but think for yourself.

Right, I’ll get down off my soap box now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Harder than Anticipated (Now, there's a shocker)

So I have this WIP that I love. No, no: LOVE! I’m so head over heels in love with this WIP that when I realized it was sort of built on a shaky world with poorly motivated bad guys, I had to fix it. But the only fix was to scrap the draft I was working on, and start over from scratch.

At first, I thought this was a brilliant idea because I am completely IN LOVE. Now that I’m 10K into it, I realize that I R dumb.

I thought this would be easy for a few reasons. First, of course, is my utter and complete love of the project. This one qualifies as a baby. I’m going to cry when I get the inevitable rejection letters for this project (I know, I’m really setting myself up for some major pain down the road here). So I thought that because I love it sooooo much, it would be easier to rewrite it, reimagining the awesome from last fall.

I also thought this rewrite would be a good idea because my voice has changed. You have to realize that the first novel I wrote thinking it might have a chance at publication I wrote in third person boring because everyone from my childhood had written that way. I guess I must have thought it the polite and proper way to write (Wow, when did I become a Victorian era lady from London?). Suffice it to say that me and third person (boring, entertaining, or otherwise) do not mix. I wrote three books in third person. Then I said, “oh to hell with publishing” and I wrote a book just for me. And my voice changed. My voice changed throughout that whole project, right into the next (abandoned) project. By the time I started in on my SuperHero WIP I knew it was changing faster than the Climate, and all I would be able to do was mitigate Sea Level rise.

And then, it settled. It settled on overwritten, but I feel like it finally worked. I was at the 2/3 mark of the Super Hero of Awesome project (not it’s actual name). But to make the last third of the novel work, I needed that world building. If I had just finished, it would need so much RetCon*, it could sell tickets and people would come dressed up in their Steam Punk costumes.

Enter the rewrite.

I thought it would just go awesome because I had so much more I wanted to put in. I’ve never rewritten a project from top to bottom (maybe I should have started on a smaller project), so perhaps my naivety can be forgiven. But let me just tell you, a rewrite is hard, like pull out your fingernails hard.

For me, the problems are that I remember how I wrote certain parts the first time, and I liked them. It wasn’t like I’d done a particularly bad job the first time, there just wasn’t enough. So the whole time I’m wondering “Is this enough? Is it too much? Am I ruining the parts about it that everyone loves with my messing around like this? Is my voice really different enough to justify starting over from scratch? Oh crap I forgot to put in that pivotal part about that alien race so there can be more tension in the climax. Why do I suck so much? Uh-oh, did the first try suck this bad too? Was it worse? Was I just completely incapable of seeing how crappy my voice is?”

It ain’t pretty, I’ll tell you that.

So just like every other part of writing, rewriting is hard.

*RetCon is a term for retroactive continuity. It’s the “I wave my magic wand and the crap at the beginning of the novel doesn’t count because someone had a brilliant idea right at the end.” It’s not a good tool.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


So everyone at my house is sick. That's why I didn't post yesterday, I couldn't keep my head above water.

I'll get back on schedule soon.

In the mean time I'm going to go blow my nose for the four hundredth time

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's just Meme

As promised, the 11 question Meme. Again, thanks to Jess over at Ink Spot Splot for tagging me.

1. What food can you not stand to eat?

Eggplant, and it’s complicated. See in the field there are exactly two things that are important: food and sleep. At my summer field camp we never got enough of either. The cook thought he was trying out to be a gourmet, so instead of spaghetti and hot dogs (hello, college students hiking for 14 hours a day in 108 degree weather? Did we want stuffed egg plant? No. Fried chicken: yes) he served eggplant for one whole week and wondered why we were all pissed at him. I lost 25 pounds in 40 days. Yeah, I hate eggplant that much. Sorry that sounds so harsh, but it was personal by the end of Field Camp. 

2. What was your favorite book as a child?

Oh man, I have to pick one? Okay well if kid means 10-12, then any book about StarTrek, or in the Star Trek series (mostly TNG, but I’ve got a lot of the original cast too). If it’s 12-14 then it’s a tie between White Dragon (Anne McCaffrey) and The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien). Now if kid means 6-10, then it’s going to be Robert Asprin and the Myth Series with a side helping of Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars.

3. Which author would you like to ask 11 questions? (Dead or alive.)

I’ve never really thought about this one, but I guess if I had to pick an author to grill I’d really like to sit down and talk with Anne McCaffrey (I was so sad when she died).

4. If you were an evil villain, what would your villain name be? (Sorry, I kind of have villains on the brain right now.)

If? What do you mean if?

5. What toy could you not be separated from as a child?

Well this is embarrassing, but it was a stuffed rabbit from the care bears. Ah, those were simpler times.

6. If you woke up in the morning and found out it was a snow day/blizzard and you had the day off from work... what would you do?

Go play in the snow with my daughter.

7. What is your favorite memory?

So, I have a pretty eclectic family history, and my father races cars (Spec Fords, if you’re curious). One time, we celebrated Easter at Laguna Seca (famous race track). We went hunting for Easter Eggs between turns 3 and 4. It was awesome.

8. If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?

Butter knife. It’s not quite right for every job, but it can do just about anything with a bit of jerry rigging.

9. If you could live in any painting, what would it be?

Anne Stoke’s Secret Garden

10. What do you want people to say about you when you go back to your next high school reunion?

You’re more you than I remember.

11. You've just become a celebrity and it's time to create a breakfast cereal... what would you name it?

Torrid Tarts.

Right, well I think that just about covers it. And since I’m determined not to let this linger any longer, here’s the lucky tags. 

Kathy @ Imagine Today
Elizabeth @ Myself without the Shell, but I'm suspicious that pretty soon she might be too busy to take the 11 question challenge.

And here are my questions:

1.If your luggage got lost on vacation, would it ruin your vacation?
2. If you could publish any of your trunked novels right now, no questions asked, which one and why?
3. Who is your hero? Who is your villain?
4. Speaking of Villains, who is your all time favorite villain?
5. Disneyland or DisneyWorld?
6. If someone told you that a book you hated writing would go on to be a bestseller for months, but in the mean time you had to rewrite it another 6 times, would you?
7. Kirk or Picard? (and I meant he Shatner Kirk. The Chris Pine Kirk is a whole new creature).
8. What was your favorite book in high school?
9. Is there anything about your life that you would change?
10. You are offered an opportunity at true immortality, do you take it?
11. What is the hardest thing you have ever done in your life?

Okay, and now I go teach 250 students about the power of Hurricanes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So what do you get when you mix blog awards and rule breaking?

I got tagged by Jess Stork over at Ink Spot Splot, and that made me realize that my grand plans are falling apart. See, I’ve received a number of awards, but then I did not pass them on. Awards are fun, and I think we should pass them on, but now I’m in the terrible position of having a few too many to pass on. I have Leibsters and Kreatives and Versatiles (oh my), and the problem with letting them pile up like that is that they sort of lose their potency when you just pass them all out all at once like that (“yet another reason not to procrastinate, Rena” my conscious said to me, tapping her foot). So I’m not going to dilute those awards by handing them all out all at once.

Besides, they have so many rules, and I’m just not good with rules. I break rules.

So instead of following the rules, I’ve decided to take these awards, melt them together and hope they’re like chocolate and marshmallows when it comes to s’mores. I’m making a new award.

Here’s my recipe:
Take one part Leibster
(Thanks Jen)

One part Versatile blogger
(Thanks Carrie)

Two parts Kreative Blogger
(Thanks Kathy, and Elizabeth)

(I think I missed one, and this is why I should never procrastinate because I think it's from some time this summer... Bad Rena)

The reason that I’m making a new award is because these awards didn’t really fit what I wanted to say. There are people who made a big difference in my blogging world, and I want to thank them. Some of them stuck with me through my earlier, less knowledgeable times (you know, when I didn’t really respond to comments). From the first Liz to check out my blog because I naively put my name out there as if I really needed a crit partner (at the time my manuscript needed a shot gun, but tell that to my former self). My dreams aren’t here yet, but I’ve definitely launched (Fly? Yes. Land? No.) so I thought I’d take this opportunity to thank the people who have been there and helped me.

So, without further ado, I’d like to set forth the new award, the Dream Launcher Award. I don’t know if it’s totally meaningless, but even if this little jpeg is meaningless, the people I’m giving it to have meant a lot to me. You have made a huge difference in my steps towards becoming a “real” writer (even if they are baby steps). Thank you. 

Here's the list of people who I'm giving the Dream Launcher Award to (please go check out their blogs):

So now that you have the award, the rules are simple. There are no rules. Take it. Leave it. Give it to another hundred people who made your day, or hoard it for yourself. Put in your website. Forget you ever got it. Just know that I appreciate what you’ve done. Thank you.

p.s. Jess at Ink Splot, I’ll post my tag on Friday.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yay! another blog fest.

So I signed up for Hook Line and Sinker over at In My Write Mind, and I'm a bit late posting for it (sorry). Things are crazy busy here, so don't worry if I'm not responding, I'll be back more towards the end of the day, I promise.

So the premise of Hook Line & Sinker is simple, do the first 500-1000 words of my WIP convince you to read the rest of the story (or at least chapter).

Here are some helpful questions to think about at the end.

  • Does the character have a personality you can fall into easily? Or at least one that you would like to learn more about?
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Too much setting or not enough?
  • Lastly, would you read more? 
Also, if you leave me a link, I'll return the favor even if you didn't sign up for the blog fest (but you really ought to go sign up.

So here's the first 990 words of WIP

A solid decade sat between me and the last time I’d slept in. My daughter, Allyson, poked me in the back, yanking me from happy-go-lucky dream land into the real world. And last night was a prime example of the real world: nightmares at eleven, cups of water at two, and now who knew.

“Mommy?” she whispered, without actually lowering the volume of her voice. 

The clock display blinked 6:15 at me. My muzzy mind took a moment to comprehend the numbers. The clock just couldn’t be right. 6:15 was only fifteen minutes before Jeff needed to leave for his Wall-Street-In-Albuquerque job. “Shit!” I said, suddenly coming fully awake. I slapped Jeff on the arm.

“Huh? What?” 

“Jeff, your alarm didn’t go off,” I said, flying out of the bed past Allyson. 

“Lori, I told you I have to be on time today.” 

I bit back my first response, and inserted my our-daughter-is-listening voice. “I thought you’d set your alarm,” I said. 

Jeff scowled at me. The tension in his shoulders rivaled the shocks on a monster truck. “If you hadn’t woken me up so much last night.”

“Excuse me,” I said in that warning tone. 

Jeff pursed his lips. “Well, you didn’t have to roll around so much.” 

“You mean after taking care of our daughters, I should be more respectful of your sleep time?” I asked. He didn’t deign to answer, he just went to the bathroom and closed the door. 

“Mommy?” Allison asked again. 

“What, honey?” 

“Katie had an accident,” she said. 

My stomach tangled into a knot. Katie’s accidents were never pleasant. I braced myself and stepped into the girl’s room. The smell hit me first, unmistakably number two. 

This is my life. This is why I flushed my career down the toilet, so I could clean up poop before I got dressed in the morning.

Without comment I began containment. I ushered Katie to the bath, and gathered up the dirty laundry. As I stuffed the fouled bedding into the washing machine, Jeff came in. He was straightening the tie on his immaculate suit. I had narrowly missed shit-smears and hadn’t brushed my hair yet. I wasn’t even wearing a bra yet. There should be a law that says you get to put on your bra before taking care of poop-splosions. 

“What did you do with my keys?” he asked. 

Clearly, I hid them from you so I could have more time with your glowing personality, I thought. No, Lori, be more charitable. It’s as hard on him as it is on you. Just because you get all the gross jobs doesn’t mean he isn’t tired from the girl’s antics last night.
“They’re in the fridge where the girls put them last night,” I said.

He opened the fridge and made the ah-ha noise of discovery. “Ah, alright, I’ll see you later honey.” Jeff took his keys and slipped out through the garage door without so much as a kiss, leaving me in my pajamas, shitty-shitty-bang-bang in the bath, a preschooler angling for a cake breakfast, and no chance of a shower before I have to leave for work at the labs. 

And to think, this is the life I worked so hard to get my Ph.D. for…

I won’t lie, mornings and I haven’t gotten along since I was a freshman in college, but somehow—with the help of a strong cup of tea—I managed to get both kids to their separate daycares and me on the road to the labs (sans shower). There’s one nice thing about having a research job: the dress code. I’ve never worn makeup (do you think anything less than a full face shield could hide the bags under my eyes anyway?), and we can wear t-shirts on occasion. Well maybe the others can’t, but I’m still a post doc, so t-shirt and jeans with a pair of converse for me. Yeah, I’m thirty-five and I have yet to get a real job, behold the power of science.
I can’t listen to “my” music with the kids in the car, so I cranked it up while I tried to merge into the line of cars. The traffic formed up into four lines, and I waited for the congestion to lift. Something caught my eye, and without meaning to, I looked straight up just in time to see a bright, blue light smash into the front end of the car. 

My world became noise and that flip-floppy feeling from a roller coaster. My brain caught up, and I twisted the steering wheel in my hands trying to regain control of the car. A flash of red caught my eye, and I looked up to see the line of traffic soar above me. 

Oh crap, that’s below me. I am flying through the air. In a car. 

But cars don’t fly.

Oh shit. I’m going to die. 

I thought I was supposed to see something right before I died. Don’t people get to see their life flash before their eyes? Don’t I get some opportunity to make peace with the fact that I didn’t take any of those high powered research jobs and sank my career in favor of actually having children? Is this the extent of my chance to repent? Aren’t I supposed to feel that feeling of ‘it was all worth it for my children’ right now?

Whatever, I’m still pissed Jeff didn’t put his career on hold. It’s not like he put eight years into getting his degrees. He got his MBA at some sort of weekend conference as far as I can tell. He paid some girl to type up his thesis. I’m the one who worked my ass off, and for that I got to raise babies, get puked/pooped/peed on every day. That’s what I got. And when I tried to get back into my career, he wouldn’t even entertain moving locking me into my go no where post doc job. 

So much for inner peace.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm hearing voices: Part 3

So it's the last day of the fantastic blog hop I'm Hearing Voices. If you haven't already, go stop by Cassie and Angie's blogs to get the scoop and take a stroll through all the emotional flash fic hitting the wall today. 

For my last entry, I'm bringing out Warwick, but first a few words. I want to thank Cassie and Angie for hosting a fantastic blog fest. I've thoroughly enjoyed wandering in and out of other people's blogs and finding new people. This has been a fantastic blog fest, and I'm so glad I hopped on.

Without further interruptions, here's a slice of Warwick's life.

There’s no way to be a Ward of the Star and a Knight. And the only way out of the Knights is death.

Staying will only hurt people. Hurt her.

This is the next phase, Warwick, pull it together. She hates you. There is literally nothing you can do to make her come back. Nothing. So it’s time to end this charade and think about the trillions of lives you have to save. Today. This is it, just pull it together and say goodbye.

It’s only everything you’ve ever known.

Shut up, voice, I don’t need your help.

She’ll only think you’re irrevocably dead. That’s all you have to do, break what’s left of her heart.

I can already see her crying—

No! This is the entire existence of every sentient being in the galaxy. How can this even be a question? One woman or every single life in the closest 200,000 light years? That’s not a choice.

She will hate you forever.

She already hates me.

I looked at the fake chakka in my hands and pressed my lips to the cold metal. Soon she will hold it. She’ll cry over it, and her hot tears will pass over my last kiss. When they find the chakka, they’ll assume I’m dead with it, the fools, but they’ll at least give it to her.

She’ll never see me alive again. Save the galaxy and destroy my life.

I dropped the chakka into the flaming char of ruin and walked away.