Monday, July 29, 2013

Ever the explorer.

My cousin will be arriving from New York tomorrow night, which means there'll be a lot of adventuring to do this week! We'll be exploring a bit of New Mexico, like the Enchantment Loop, the Echo Amphitheater, Abiquiu Lake, and so on. Naturally, I'll be bringing my camera. I'll also be stashing away a notebook, just in case the muse strikes. Can't leave the house without a Sharpie and notebook, right? Shadow will be along for the trip too - he's going to be in heaven with the amount of hiking we plan to do.

I spent some time last week researching more about indie publishing (can never know too much about anything, really), and I've been going through my medieval armor book that I snagged during Amanda's visit here. Needless to say, I'm very happy I did not dream of men in various armor designs, explaining where they're from and giving me every little detail of what they're wearing (that should indicate just how much I've read so far). Can't say I'm surprised that the biggest sections in the book so far are the Greecian and Roman armor. I remember telling Mom that studying armor is very much like studying religion - one culture just "borrows" from another and make their own tweaks.

The other thing while researching armor is that yet again, I have the urge to work on my Shadow Walker piece. Turns out there are more cultures than I thought that would skin animals (humans as well) and wear it like armor. This goes more along with that storyline than it would for book 3. I might cave in and just do some free-writing pieces, just to get something down. My reader isn't done with book 2 yet, so I've got some extra time on my hands. It bugs me though, that I suddenly want to work more on this project than the current one. I've been doing my best to break the habit of starting things and never finishing them, hence why I'm fighting so much.

"Everyone is gifted with tools that they do not necessarily understand at first. When the time is right, the person will gain the knowledge necessary to perform what is needed to be done. The fog will clear; you must be patient...Unless of course, you’re secretly an impatient raven who loves nothing more than to gift others with migraines." - Cailean

Well said, Cailean fluff-ball, well said.

At least I am closer to having a definite title for book 3 of the Artemis Ravenwing series. I also know that this part of the saga will be split into two books as well...perhaps even three. It definitely feels that way. Now if only I can focus on JUST book 3...

I checked out the Spanish Market on Saturday (solo, I might add...I don't usually do such things on my own). It actually felt smaller to me. I could have sworn that the other two I've been to had more tents stationed around the plaza, and around La Fonda. I was also surprised that there were more booths with wood work and tin work, rather than jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and weave work. It is also the first time where I actually preferred the contemporary art section over the traditional. I spent more time watching the shows too. I love watching traditional dancing and listening to traditional music, and it's even more fun when you see the performers you've seen from the festivals before. Even with the feeling of change of the market, I made the most of it. Now I wait for the Indian Market! :)

I don't plan on getting much work done this week, which is ok considering I am in need of some adventure. A little break won't kill me, as much as the workaholic in me would disagree. And I get to spend time with my cousin, which is always a good time. Truthfully, Mom and I could use a break from work and the house. Wish me luck in my efforts to keeping a balance between my storylines too!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Grace Period...sort of.

This one by far is probably one of the best (and closest) "meme" I've seen concerning writers. "How society sees me" is true, and while I do not own a typewriter (gods, I think my hands take enough of a beating with the amount of typing I do on top of the gaming days), I do hide away in places in the house and type furiously away. I don't believe Mom sees me as Shakespeare...I'm sure she believes I'm a whacky genius in my own right (just kidding). My friends can agree that I hide away in my "den", "nest", or whatever else they want to call my hermit mode. I swear, their favorite phrase with me is, "how long are you hiding away from the world this time around?". The ravens are hilarious, and Microsoft Word better recognize the raven queen *wink wink*. I do see myself as a thinker...hence the extensive need for coffee because sometimes I drift away into sleep with all the thinking I do. As for the reality, imagine a large amount of variously designed and sized notebooks, research books, and power cords for different devices. Oh, and the multi-colored pack of Sharpies too - I love me some Sharpies.
I finished my read-through of book 1. Ever get those moments where you return to an old piece of writing and then get pleasantly surprised that it still reads as wonderful as you believed it the first time around? Yup, my worries have lessened. Book 1 flows well into book 2, and I remembered how much I really hated certain characters. This is good though; readers always need a few characters to hate while cheering everyone else on. I'm still waiting for my reader to finish going through book 2. While that goes on, I've still got some research left to do for book 3. I'm also in a battle with the characters from my Shadow Walker piece; I've found some pictures that closely resemble some of the characters, and because of it, they want attention. *sighs* I wish I was still able to multitask in writing. When I read through book 1, I noticed my moments of distraction by work and other sources during that time (they've been fixed, of course), and when I first read though book 2, you can tell I gave it my undivided attention. I told Mom that I feel like it's the best piece I've ever written...and I don't ever admit such things, let alone to other people. The "one storyline at a time" is the policy I must follow.
I'll be starting on the reading list I've been given by those who follow my Facebook writer page soon. I've been slacking on my reading last week, and I plan on correcting that. More suggestions are always welcome, by the way. There's no such thing as having too many books on a list to read. I normally stick to fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi, but I'm learning that I do enjoy a good mystery novel. I'm not one for non-fiction, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any good non-fiction out there for me to discover. Basically, that means I'm not putting on limits to your suggestions, so recommend away! :)
I've got other things on my plate for the week as well; I've got to prep for my cousin's visit next week, I've got a graduation party on Sunday, and I have to finish getting the rest of the black dye out of my hair. Yes, you read that last statement correctly. I haven't been my natural blonde since I was 13 years old. While I will always state that I was meant to have black hair (and I will always love it), I decided to give the "natural" self a chance. Santa Fe is that kind of place where you get the urge to start everything over in life and just move on from there; I've already chopped off my hair for donation, as well as metaphorically wanting a fresh start for myself, so I might as well keep walking that path. Yes, I'm enjoying every moment of it.   
The annual Spanish Market in Santa Fe is this weekend too! The first time I ever came to Santa Fe (it was in the summer of 2010) was during the Spanish Market. Mom was also signing the lease to the first house then too. It's a really great festival, and I love seeing the artwork and the shows. I remember telling Mom during the first one that I felt so at home while watching the flamenco dancers and other traditional Spanish dances. It feels the same way during the annual Indian Market too, which is usually held in the month of August. Anyone who wants to visit Santa Fe, the markets are definitely worth checking out. Just plan wayyyyy ahead for it though, because people book hotels for the festivals at least a year in advance. And bring more than one SD card for your camera. I'm not exaggerating.
Off to my "cave" and into the land of research!

Monday, July 15, 2013

"It's just a jump to the left..."

That's right, ladies and gents! The Time Warp was happening this past Saturday in the Railyard Park! The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival put on the live show of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and for those who didn't know, I actually have never been to one before. Cue the gasps.

I've seen the movie...but to my shame, I hadn't seen it until my junior year of college. It was funny trying to do the Time Warp with Evan and Kenny in Kenny's small single in Ames Hall. But yes, I've never been to a live show until now. I was "branded" with the bright red/pinkish lipstick, sporting a "V" on each cheek. I even dressed up for the occasion. I mean, it's kinda implied that you're supposed to.

So you would think, right?

Santa Fe was definitely one of those places where I expected everyone to be dressed for the show. You have no idea how disappointed I was that only a few small groups who came actually did so. You have no idea how stunned I was when I saw the mass of "normal" people at the park too. This also includes the rather large amount of toddlers at the place.

That was the reaction I was expecting from parents the moment they saw the image of Tim Curry in drag, therefore making the decision to NOT bring their child along. I'm all for young adults coming to see the film (I was a mature kid at you KNOW how many fantasy and mystery adult novels I went through by that age??). I'm not up for 4-8 year olds running around with a large inflatable movie screen showing the content that Rocky Horror Picture Show is made up of. The movie is too much of a classic to go to waste for that to be considered their first showing.
*sighs* Whatever happened to the days where a relative or a friend came to baby-sit the kid, instead of just dragging the toddler out to such functions? They were lucky that most of the crowd didn't dress up the way they were supposed to!

In other news, happy Home Run Derby day! Day one of the ultimate sports hermit has officially begun. Shadow might not take too kindly to being dressed in a Yankee jersey today either. It is a Rodriguez jersey (again, I didn't get it because of the player...don't make me vomit with the thought), so he might grow an aversion to it. I'll admit to feeling somewhat evil if Shadow doesn't like having the jersey on, and I'd instantly say "Good boy" due to the intense "dislike" (we'll call it that) for the actual player.

If Cano makes a repeat of the last Home Run Derby...I'll be a shamed Yankee fan for the month again. And while I'll be sporting the Wright shirt today, I still say that Chris Davis will end up in the finals (and well, take it all). Ok, ok...the sports blip is over.

I should be finishing up my read-through of book 1 today. I haven't made any drastic changes to it; I've been changing some of my word choices, fixing up some sentences, and adjusting a lot of the paragraphs for a better flow. The exciting part is that it flows really well to book 2, which means I'm doing my job well. I still have some more research to do, and once my reader is done with their initial read-through of book 2, I can go back to working on that.

As for book 3, the tentative start for its creation will be sometime in mid to late August. Possibly September. I have two more guests arriving this summer, and I want to keep my focus on them. Mom, as well as a few other friends out here can attest to the fact that once "writer mode" kicks in, you don't see me. At all. It's actually worse than my "sports mode". You'll hear from me, and you'll see that I'm alive via Facebook, but you don't actually see me. Take the image of the ultimate hermit in your eyes, and I'll have them beat. Of course, Mom is the only exception to this since she's in the house (and I have to eat, y'know. As she says, one has to "feed the monster"). Shadow's used to all this by now too. As long as I come out once in a while and give him a belly rub, he doesn't care how long I'm locked up in my room.

On a final note - if you're looking for something whimsical and hilarious to read, pick up Neil Gaiman's and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens. I haven't finished it yet, but it's really crazy and fun. In simple terms, it's their version of how the apocalypse unfurls. Yes, I love biblical twists to such things. Some will consider it blasphemy.

I call it a good story.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer days.

Let it rain! Let it rain! Let it RAIN!!!

Santa Fe has been having a weird summer so far weather wise. In my time here, it has never been this crazy hot. We've been having on and off heat waves, and what rain we do get only gives us some minor relief. We need more rain, Mother Nature! I'll dance in the backyard if I have to! Last night wasn't nearly enough!

Workaholic Mel struck again last week, and I finished the edit transfers to the electronic version of book 2 faster than anticipated. Antsy Mel is not a fun person to be around either (sorry Mom and Santa Fe friends). Once I finished that, life has been more peaceful...except for the days I actually had the Yanks and the Mets on TV.

Speaking of which, All-Star game and home run derby next week anyone? I seriously see Chris Davis of the Orioles up there in the finals of the derby. The man has been a beast this season. I love Robinson Cano and David Wright, but I can give my honest opinion that Davis will outperform them. But we shall see, won't we? And Matt Harvey getting his first All-Star appearance? As a loyal gal of the American League, I can admit that once he's pitching, we'll be in some trouble (and somehow, I really don't mind). I've reached the point in my sports fandom that I can appreciate (perhaps love) talent outside of the Yankees, and not feel guilty about it. I've been doing the same with international volleyball lately too. I guess it's just my reaching a new level in the sports nuts department. No, I will never play fantasy teams in baseball or football. I'm not THAT dedicated.

Back to the topic of work. Since I've been done with that part of the book, I'm waiting on my reader to get through book 2 and then I can have my second wave of editing. Once that is done, I will be going through book 1 again. It's been a while now that I should be able to catch what I initially missed back then, and I just want to reassure myself that everything flows. I just want to make sure everything is up to my standards, and that once I do get a copyeditor, I won't be as embarrassed (the anal, OCD perfectionist strikes again). I can admit that I have issues with grammar, and I only ever had one professor actually work with me concerning it. A gal does what she can, you know. As long as the story comes out the way it is supposed to, I can handle being handicapped (that's what an extra pair of eyes are for, right?).

I'll also be using this week to do some more research for book 3. I'm even thinking of changing the title, but we shall see. I've got this neat book that shows and describes the various kinds of medieval armor, and just other types of armor throughout the countries/ages. I need it to help give me some ideas to add to the Husaria inspiration. All I will tell you is that this is for the "Army of the Goddesses". Can't tell you anything more than that, sorry. I swear, everything is worth the wait. If you know me, then you know that I don't send anything out that I don't like (college is an exception...the things you do for your degree *sighs*).

Another thing right now is that I'm trying to keep my mind free of other storyline distractions. Last Friday, I actually made a short story of a dream I had. I even single-spaced it, which is something I rarely do. I wrote about 4,200+ words in about two and a half hours. I have it posted on my Facebook writer page, if you're intrigued (it's a public page, so even if you don't have Facebook, you should be able to see it). I haven't decided yet if I want to work with it more. If I do, it's going to have to wait in an already long line of stories I need to work on. The day I run out of storylines is the day you want to have me committed. It just isn't possible.

I wouldn't have it any other way, really. I love what I do, and I never had the intention of getting rich or famous from it. If that is one's motivation to anything they do in life, I find that they're more miserable than those of us who are perfectly content with living in "meager" ways. I could go into a whole speal about people who do what others expect them to do, but I'd rather not. The only thing I will say is that it's not foolish to follow your passion, no matter how strange it may seem to others. They are not the masters of your journey; you are. Yes, I live with my mom. Yes, she supports me in more ways than people expect her to. If you ask her to compare the Melanie who worked in Loretto to the "unemployed" Melanie (this is in most people's terms, because you know, a lot of people don't consider writing at home a job), she would tell you that the Mel now is far happier and enriched than the Mel who slaved away on the night shifts (sometimes doubles, and don't get me started on holidays) and barely saw her own mother for 6+ months. Besides, what other writer my age can say they wrote a 100,000+ word novel in five or less months? :)

On another note, I've been expanding my world of books to read. I am an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and I dabble in fiction as well. Very rarely do I venture outside of those genres. I recently picked up a novel from the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson, mainly because I've been hooked on the A&E show, Longmire (fun fact: it's filmed in New Mexico). This is one of the rare times that I've watched something before reading the books, so it was actually hard for me to separate the TV interpretation of the characters opposed to the book version of the characters. I will say though, that many of the actors were well cast, even with the differences in visual description. For example, the character of Deputy Vic Moretti; in the book, she has short black hair and she's a foul-mouthed Italian firecracker (you know that automatically makes her a favorite). In the show, Vic's character is played by Katee Sackhoff, aka Starbuck of the Battlestar Galactica remake. If you know her, she is a long-haired blonde. However, and I mean HOWEVER, she does a pretty damn good job playing Vic; she plays her to the letter. As a person who normally prefers actors to display the image I create in my mind of a character from a book, especially based on the descriptions given, I can totally forgive the difference in details. So for someone who really watches mystery rather than reads it (I'm a child of the various Law and Order shows, NCIS, Rizzoli and Isles, etc.), this was a pretty interesting change for me. Any mystery that I do read is usually of the fantasy kind. This was the first time I read a mystery that wasn't of the fantasy or sci-fi genre. While I haven't completely adjusted to that particular mind-set, I won't deny that I'd love to read the second book of the series. Switching things up isn't always a bad thing!

In case you're wondering about the driving lessons, I will be continuing them. The goal is that within this year, Melanie Rodriguez will have done the impossible and have her license. I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a 23 year old gal who doesn't even have a permit. I lived in New York and New Jersey for a good chunk of my life! I didn't think at the time that I was going to leave it the way I had, heh. I think I've been told once that I have some Gypsy ancestry, and I can agree since the urge to explore continues to grow. Santa Fe is my home, don't get me wrong! But again, I want to adventure around certain places before the window of opportunity closes. Perhaps it never will, but one never knows what they will encounter on their path. Either way, at least I can say that I will continue to write, wherever I may end up! :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

"I think I'm quite ready for another adventure."

Happy July! I trust you're all having a grand ol' summer!

As one can guess from my title, I have been in somewhat of a Lord of the Rings kind of mood. I'll admit to watching the new Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer more times than one should (Legolas is in it, c'mon!). Some of the "purists" (which I know I can be sometimes) are a bit furious about some of the changes Peter Jackson made for the trilogy. I, believe it or not, am not one of them. The Hobbit is a long book in itself, and considering the man decided to make a trilogy out of it, I think there's plenty of room for creative freedom. It hasn't destroyed the storyline, and technically Legolas was alluded to in the novel. I have no qualms seeing my favorite character again.

Fun random fact for you all: Lord of the Rings helped open the world of elves to me. Once I embraced vampires and other supernaturals, the book magic kinda just happened from there.

This probably wouldn't be much of a surprise, but I've been quite the busy (and rather antsy) bee as of late. Yet again, I worked during the weekend. Edit transfers are the least favorite part of my job, hence the urgency of working so that I don't have to be stuck doing it for a longer period of time. I will be resuming my transfers today from Chapter 19 and on. Told you I've been busy working. The goal is to be done by the weekend, though I think I might be done before that. We shall see.

I've also made some progress concerning the publishing aspect of writing. A friend/co-worker of my mom's chatted with us about some neat options and advice concerning self-publishing, of which I will have to research a bit more. But it's exciting! I'm getting closer to the dream, and there's no better feeling.

So speaking of adventures, I should mention a very important step in a new one I've started: driving. Yes, Melanie Rodriguez is learning how to drive.

I've had lessons before, but this one was far different than those. What I originally expected to just be a few lessons in an empty part of a shopping mall ended up being not only that, but also actually driving in traffic. And by traffic, I mean driving down Cerillos and into 599. While I was shaking like a leaf, my "instructor" was pretty much like this:

Needless to say, no one got hurt. Ashley's car is still in one piece, and I really don't like passing trucks or driving behind busses. And hey, I drove us back to my house (minus hitting a curb, but that's more of Nevin's fault than my own. It wasn't a hard hit either, thankfully). Now I just have to keep at the lessons, and then I'll be one step closer to taking the adventure that's been nagging at me the most lately.
What adventure is that, you ask? A road trip of New Mexico and Colorado. Yes, I've been in New Mexico for a little over two years now, and I've only seen Roswell and Carlsbad (there's nothing special in Roswell, believe it or not. Carlsbad on the other hand...the caverns are a MUST see!). That'll change, once I get my license. Colorado has also been calling me for some time now, and there are many places I have a need to lose myself in. Of course, someday I intend to go there to catch some sports. Wouldn't be me if I didn't, right? 
The best part about all of this talk of roadtripping and adventures is that it would not affect my work. As I've been told before (and since then I've really embraced this statement), I can write anywhere. I have a lot more freedom than people think, and I intend to take full advantage of it while I can.