Kelly Maher
Vacation…

…is a lovely, lovely thing. I’ve spent this last week enjoying the holidays and hanging out with my family. I’m slowly catching up on reading and hopefully shedding the reading funk I’ve been in. Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega books are great so far. I’ve read the prequel short story “Alpha and Omega” (A|B|K) and the first book, “Cry Wolf” (A|B|K). Honestly, I’ve had little urge to spend my time online. And I spend a lot of time online normally! I think this vacation is as much from online life as it is from every day life. I’m looking forward to the new year and being refreshed.

As my alter ego, I’m working on an article for a major publication in my day profession and that’s claiming my writing time for the first two weeks of the year. Come January 15th, I’ll be back to rewriting the book I’ve been working on. I had planned on being finished with it by now, but the article took over my schedule. After I finish the rewrite, I’m writing the first draft of a short story I’m really excited about. It’s got a hero who is a former pro-rugby player πŸ˜€ Oh, the hardship of watching rugby games for research!

What do you read when you’re on vacation?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate! I’ll be spending my day with my family, and I hope you will be spending it with your loved ones, whether it’s your blood family, your chosen family or even just yourself πŸ™‚

What’s your favorite gift you’ve given or received this year?

Traveling

I’ve been thinking about the act of traveling a lot this week. At the beginning of the week, I was sorting out my budget for the coming year and figuring out which conferences I plan on attending. Right now I will be at RT, but wearing my day profession hat, and will also be going to WRW’s Spring Retreat. Under the guise of the day profession once again, I’ll also likely be at Book Expo America. Now *that* is a show I love attending. Everyone around you is there to suck up book fumes no matter how the books are generated. I’ve also got RWA tentatively on the books. I submitted a program under my alter ego with a couple of friends, and I think we have a good shot at getting accepted. If I do go to RWA, I hope to be able to participate in the massive booksigning which raises fund for literacy efforts. The last time I participated the box with my books in it had gotten stolen so I had no books to sign. Poop πŸ™

Traveling is one of the joys about attending conferences. I like the logistics of figuring out the best times for me to save the most amount of money. This doesn’t mean I’ll take the cheapest flight if the time is not to my benefit in some way. I’m willing to pay a bit more for convenience πŸ™‚ I’d be hard pressed to say what has been my favorite city to visit while attending a conference, but I admit New York City is up there. I’ve been to DC for conferences a few times, and that helped make my decision to move here a no brainer. Anaheim was really fun for the weather, and Seattle was really neat as well even though I was there in January. Honestly, the hardest part about attending conferences is finding the time to get out and explore the city a bit. What’s been your favorite city to visit while attending a conference?

Also, fingers crossed that I will have actually made it home to Chicago for the holidays by the time this posts! Winter weather makes traveling so much *fun* πŸ˜€

Favorite shows

Last night, after getting home from knitting, I got sucked into the end of the Miss Universe contest. I’m not necessarily a fan of Miss Universe (though I do love seeing those national costumes critiqued on Tom & Lorenzo!), but I am an absolute sucker for award shows. I love the Grammys, the Oscars, the Golden Globes. I’m even willing to go for the Country Music Awards though country is one of the last music genres I willingly listen to.

Another class of television show I can’t turn away from is crime shows. I don’t have cable tv at home (the cost savings is phenomenal!), but when I go visit my parents I will end up watching Investigation Discovery all day if no one else is home. I’ve been fascinated with true crime and forensics since I was in high school. That’s probably why my undergrad degree is in forensic anthropology. Thanks to Netflix, I can now watch previous seasons of some of ID’s shows, so I will tend to walk laps in my apartment as I watch and listen.

I realized a couple of years ago that my tv watching is almost exclusively of the non-fiction variety. I watch some “fiction” shows, but none on a sustained regular basis. When I read for pleasure, though, it’s 98% fiction, with some non-fiction thrown in for spice. What are some of your favorite tv shows?

Prepping for Christmas vacation

I’m heading home to Chicago this weekend for a week-plus with the family. I’m looking forward to it as I missed Christmas with them last year for the first time ever. This year I missed Thanksgiving. Since I now live half a continent away, I’m trying to balance which holidays I go home for, but it’s a hard decision as Thanksgiving is really big for my dad, and I’m an aunt to four little ones who have the wonder of Christmas lighting their eyes.

Packing is going to be hard as Chicago weather can be variable. It doesn’t help that I live in DC now which is having a very mild winter so far. As I’m flying, packing my heavy duty winter wear is a pain. I at least don’t have to pack many Christmas presents as I did most of my shopping online πŸ™‚

If you’re traveling for the holidays, how do you handle the packing issue?

Movies and shopping

Today’s a lazy day. That’s partially because I’m procrastinating from the last of my Christmas shopping. I love Christmas and I love shopping, but I loathe Christmas shopping. Even though all I’m shopping for is books, another thing I love to do!, I really hate going out in these crowds.

So, to enable the procrastination, I’m watching some movies. Right now, I’ve got “Sixteen Candles” on. I was actually looking to watch “Evolution” with David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, but it seems my copy has disappeared. I did discover I apparently own two copies of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” among multiples of other movies. I think I may end up creating an inventory spreadsheet to put off shopping even more.

What movies do you like to watch and do you have multiple copies of them?

Thoughts, part 2

Thoughts, part 1 is in draft form, and will remain in draft form. They are thoughts I needed to purge, and maybe I’ll go back and revisit them some day. I doubt I’ll ever publish them here. I truly believe one should exercise the delete and hide buttons as necessary.

Suffice it to say, my thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and community affected in Connecticut.

Holiday baking

Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Allspice. Cloves. There is just something about the smells of holiday baking that make my heart leap. This Christmas, I’m a bit torn. On the one hand, I won’t really be able to do much baking of cookies, and I have some favorite cookies that I pretty much only make at Christmas, due to my current living situation. I only have space for a toaster oven, and if anyone tries to tell you cookies in batches can be made in a toaster oven, ask them where you can buy what they’re smoking. I can only make three cookies at a time in my oven, and that’s pushing it!

On the other hand, I’ve been invited to a cookie bake at a friend’s house this weekend, and I’m flying home to my parents’ for Christmas a few days before, so I will have access to a real oven and will be able to make some cookies. But there’s something to be said about being in your own space, using your own utensils, having your own ingredients on hand when you’re a baker. At least I’ll be able to eat, if not make, my all-time favorite Christmas cookie because it’s one of my mom’s staples. We seriously only had them at Christmas, and I think that’s why I never make them any other time. Plus the fact they’re a bitch to mix up as they’re a very dense cookie. I regularly break spatulas when I make them, and I’m not about to strip the gears on either my hand or stand mixers. What holiday baking traditions does your family have?

Editing Process: Rewriting

One of my projects I’m working on is the total rewrite of a book. It’s a story I love and have lived with for at least three, and probably close to five years now in various forms. As I don’t have the space for dual monitors, this is my setup:
Photo of three-ring binder with manuscript pages inside. Binder is propped up sideways and open to inner pages of manuscript as pages were printed landscape with two manuscript pages per printed page.

This is working well for me because this is basically how I learned touch typing in high school. It’s easier for me to catch the errors in my writing, both from a copy edit point of view and from a developmental edit point of view. I knew it was working for this project, but when I was typing in the excerpt for “Homecoming” from the printed book last week, I was catching things even in that small section that if I could rewrite, I totally would. I’ve decided that from now on, part of my revision process is absolutely going to be retyping the story no matter how long the story is.

In Angela James’ “Before You Hit Send” editing workshop which I highly recommend to anyone who writes anything, she strongly advocates for reading your work aloud. Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. That is a highly useful technique and one I use. I think, for some people, you might want to also consider adding the total rewrite/type in to your editing process.

Holiday parties

It’s the holiday season! Today I’m attending the holiday party for my local RWA chapter. It will be my first time with them, but I do love holiday parties because it’s a time for people in an organization, in an office, or in a family (whether it’s by blood or choice) to come together and celebrate both the triumphs and tragedies of another year together. I’ll admit my view is probably colored by the overall happy family in which I grew up. Not to say there weren’t blow ups aplenty, but those were eventually brushed aside as being unimportant. Though, that one year when my four siblings and I were all sick with the stomach flu the New Year’s Eve where my parents were hosting all of their friends was quite memorable.

What’s one of your most memorable moments from a holiday party past? Or do you have a favorite recipe for when you attend holiday parties, food or drink?