Saturday, October 29, 2011

Countdown To NaNoWriMo

It's almost here!

As always, NaNoWriMo comes at the worst possible time to sit down and write. And as always, I say screw it, I'm doing this.

And this time, I WILL be a winner darn it. You see, I have a secret weapon up my sleeve this time. Its a plan.


This time, I am going to plan out what my novel will be BEFORE I sit down to write. I will figure out it's structure. The plot points, the pinch points, the beginning and the end.

Now, you may be thinking, what is all this will? If she hasn't done it by now, odds are it aint gonna happen.

You have good reason for your doubts my friends, but keep in mind, I have two more days. I will get the planning done, as soon as I quit blogging. I swear!

Good luck fellow NaNoWrimo-ers. And if you need a buddy to cheer you on, look me up. My handle is MerissaJ.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Change is Hard

I know. Profound, right?
Change is Hard.
I imagine you're thinking, "tell me something I don't know, Captain Obvious."

But I think acknowledging that change is hard takes away some of the power of that adverisity. As in--yes, change is hard, but sometimes we have to change.  Sometimes we have to grow. To break bad habits and replace them with better ones. To let go, and live in the now.  Maybe to not let go quite so much, and to be more responsible.

I don't know what it is about the Fall, but it always seems to make me want to be better. To lose weight, to be more concientous about my exercise, my sleep, my health, my writing, my work. It makes me want to be this shining, ideal of a person.

Unfortunately, by the time Christmas rolls around, I'm back to enjoying the pecan pie on the couch, thinking about exercising/working/writing. Because--say it with me--"Change is Hard."

So how to make changes stick? You got me. I haven't managed yet.

What am I trying this year?
The stick of peer pressure and the carrot of loose clothing.
Bring it on baby!

Check back with me around Christmas. Maybe this time, by Christmas I'll be the shining ideal of a person I keep seeing evey Fall. And if not--well, at least there'll be Pecan Pie.

And a couch. Come on over and have a seat.

Monday, September 12, 2011


So I signed up for NANOWRIMO 2011 today. I signed up for NANOWRIMO 2010 last year and was a total loser. But this year, this year will be different my friends! I will be a winner, no, a champion of NANOWRIMO!

No seriously. I will.

Quit laughing. I can hear you, you know.

You see, I have a plan.
     Step One: Sign Up.
     Completed!! See--I'm suceeding already!

     Step Two: Plan out my novel.
     I'm totally going to do this. Stop laughing. You'll see.

     Step Three: Write. A lot.
     Again, I'm Totally going to do this.

     Step Four: Win, and flaunt my amazing winningness to all.
     That's right. You'll be sorry you doubted me. This is my year to win, and I'm not going to be sparing with the I told you so-s.

My NANOWRIMO handle is MerissaJ for all you fellow NANOWRIMOers who want another writing buddy this year. A winning writing buddy that is.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books On Writing

I was looking for an i pad charger yesterday evening. I didn't find the charger, which surprised me not one bit.  I never find what I'm looking for, but often I find something else that I've mislaid.
On Writing(pic borrowed from Amazon)

That's right--I found my lost copy of On Writing by Stephen King.

I love this book. I've read and re-read it, but thought I'd lost in in one of our moves. I can't tell you how excited I was to discover it tucked away in our guest room closet.

Do you guys have a favorite book on writing? My favorties would be Stephen King's On Writing, and Donald Maass' Fire in the Fiction. Both are just wonderful.

Guess what I'll be doing this weekend?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kindle--3rd Time's a Charm

So I had a birthday a week or two ago.

I've hit the age where birthdays are to be celebrated only when they belong to my kids.  I feel old and decrepit enough--I don't need any more birthdays thank you. Of course, as it has been pointed out to me, the alternative isn't so great either. So, for the past couple years I've done my best to ignore the birthday on the assumption that if I don't bother it, it won't bother me.

But this birthday I got a Kindle. It came from my mother in law. I had no idea she even knew what a Kindle was. But apparently she knew that I knew what a Kindle was, and that I liked them. So the sweet lady went to best buy and had them sell her one, along with a wonderful cover with a built-in light.

If you read my blog, you'll know that this is my third kindle.  My first I dropped and broke the screen. Amazon said it was covered by warranty (really?? okay!!) and replaced it with my second kindle. Which I ran over. With my car.  I was too shamefaced to call and see whether that too, by some insane reason, was covered by warranty. Instead I decided to go back to paper as the only thing I could be trusted with.

So, I'm sure you can guess that I was pretty happy about the Kindle #3.  I stroked it lovingly, placed it snug in its cover, and tested the really amazing built-in light.

My new kindle doesn't have 3g. My other two did. Its not really a problem--but I have to connect to a wireless hotspot to download. Anywhere other than Del Rio or the back side of Alaska, I doubt this would make a significant difference. For me it does, but I can live without the instant connectivity. I'm just excited to have my kindle format books back and available to me again.

Thanks mother in law--it was a wonderful gift and I love it and I use it every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

For anyone out there is looking to buy a Kindle, I've had both kinds now, and I think its worth it to spring for the 3g version, unless you live somewhere where the entire town is a hotspot.

Agree? Disagree? That's what the comments are for.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School--Fall is Coming!

It's still sweltering here in Del Rio Texas. The temps regularly hit 102, or 103. I step outside the airconditioned building and immediately break out in a sweat. Its so hot that if I hop in the car wearing a skirt or shorts and I sit on the leather seats, I have to put a towel down or literally risk burning my legs. Blister burning--not, ouch--that's uncomfortable burning. Trust me--you don't want blisters on the back of your thighs. Not cool--excuse the pun.

But I feel fine. Because today is the first day of school. My oldest just went to her first day of kindergarten. My second just went to his first day of pre-k. They were adorable in their matching uniforms, scrubbed clean with shiny, excited faces; my little girl in pigtails.

I'm as excited as they are that school has begun. It means Fall is coming, with bright crisp days and cool evenings when I can open the window and not need to have the airconditioner run all night long. When I can step outside and not break into an immediate sweat. When I can put my anti-burn car towel away until next summer.

Can you tell that Fall is my favorite season? I'm anticipating its coming--not patiently, but with all the excitement cool evenings, Halloween, and Thanksgiving can bring.

Bring it on--I'm ready.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Procrastination, and Simplifying Life

Well, its Thursday and I haven't posted my blog yet. 

Yes, I am a procrastinator.

I make excuses for the trait:

I'm super busy, I have too many responsibilities, there isn't enough time in the day.

It's actually true, but everyone else faces these same things. They manage to get their stuff done, and do it without scrambling right before the deadline. Their cars are clean, they don't pay late fees on their movies or utility bills. Their kids are shiny clean, hair brushed, shoelaces tied. They plan stuff in advance, and get ready for it all before hand. They decide to do stuff, and then, they ACTUALLY DO IT.
They don't procrastinate.

I want that to be me, but it never is. I always end up leaving the house late, and if my kids are shiny clean with brushed hair you can bet I'm lucky to have brushed teeth and two matching shoes. Makeup? Ha! Don't make me laugh. Breakfast? Maybe, at my desk at work--if I get to sit down before I have to be in court.

So. I want to be a nonprocrastinator.

I want to be that person who interviews her police officers on the upcoming trial way BEFORE the Friday before trial. Who has her voir dire mapped out weeks in advance. Who has a case theory weeks before that.

I want to be that person who pays her bills BEFORE time, not right before the deadline, while muttering to herself about the mailbox rule's application to utility bills.

I want to be that person who gets to bed on time, and gets up early enough to actually apply makeup before dragging the kids out of bed, getting them ready and leaving the house.

I want to be that person who gets to work on time, and leaves work on time, instead of getting caught up in whatever she's working on and then rushing to pick up her kids before the daycare gives them away.

I want to be that person who finishes the edits she's been promising herself she will do instead of letting them slide because she has more to do than she can ever hope to get done.

So how? How do those people, those nonprocrastinators do it? Were they born that way? How do I sign up for that?

I really don't know, but I'd like to. I think I'll have to research it and see. But it's gonna have to be the week after next--I have a trial to prepare for today. And the deadline is looming--Monday is showtime.

Sigh. If anyone out there is a successfully reformed procrastinator, help me out.
Give me a good place to start.
I'd be eternally grateful.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The "Bad Guys"

This has been a crazy couple weeks.

I work as a felony prosecutor in Texas.

So, I see a lot of "Bad Guys," as my kids call them.
With most defendants, I can look past the stuff they've done and see the person behind. I often still send the person behind to the pen, but even so, usually I can see the person behind, and sometimes I feel sorry for them.

But every once in a while you come across someone who has done something so terrible, so evil, it eclipses the person behind the act. They lose all status as a person who made a bad choice. They become, in the minds of anyone who knows what they've done, evil. Maybe it's a defense mechanisim we use to distance ourselves from someone who has done unspeakable things. Or who knows, maybe that act really does make a person so evil that there is nothing defining left about that person except the evil they chose.

This past week, I saw evil. I will not burden anyone else with details of that evil, even second hand. But, it wasn't bad choices, or acts of frustration, or lack of choice or insanity. It was pure, chosen, deliberate, uncomprehendable evil. And like evil does, it tortured and destroyed the helpless, the innocent.

Dealing with evil makes me exhausted, and somewhat hopeless. Every time I think surely there could not possibly be another living person as depraved. Then, I get proof that there is.

It makes me angry, and it makes me afraid for the children I have brought into this world, who are helpless and innocent right now. I desperately want to shield them from ever having to face evil. Always, even when they're grown, and no longer helpless or innocent.

So, to avoid dwelling on gruesome details, on the flashes of horror that play in my head after a brush with evil, I try to intellectualize it. Make it acedemic.

Which means I now have a debate going with myself. Which is more effective as an antagonist in fiction? The person who makes bad choices, who you can understand even when you disapprove of their acts? Or the person who has chosen to do such evil things that they are what they do--simply, incomprehendably, evil. The reader cannot identify with them as anything but the big bad.

And finally, is evil contagious? Does it spread? It doesn't usually in fiction. But in life? I'm not so sure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Great YA

Friday evening, after running a Grand Jury all day, I got home. My phone had died at some point during the day, and I was running late.

DH, who HATES it when I'm late and he cant reach me (mostly because he's decided about five minutes after i'm officially late that I have been run over, stabbed, shot, pepper sprayed and/or beaten by one of the defendants I sent to prison) was cranky when I got home.

I'll spare you the converation, but the upshot was: Please remember to plug in your phone dammit, and by the way, we are going to Houston.

I was at this point in my evening, collapsed on the bed, shoes and all, trying to decide if I had energy enough to drag myself to the shower. Houston, if you are wondering, is a good seven hour drive from the bed upon which I was collapsed.

I groaned. I summoned enough energy to snag the pillow beside me and put it on my head, the better with which to block out the insane travel plans DH was expounding on.

Then he pulled out the "well, you'd have known about this is you plugged in your phone once in a while."

Followed up with "And I booked a hotel in San Antonio on the riverwalk, so lets go. We can eat out and have some drinks and the kids are at my mom's so lets not waste a perfectly kid free evening."

Well folks, we don't live near family, so we don't often have babysitters. So I drug myself to a sitting position and mumbled feebly about packing. I was informed that he had already packed a bag for me (EEK!!) and all I needed to do was get back in the car.

A cup of coffee,  and an hour later I was pulled together enough to yet again form a coherent sentence, and by the time we got to San Antonio, I was ready to have some fun.

We did (60oz margarita anyone?) and when we reached Houston the next day we did some work. Then we went to Barnes and Noble, where I finally picked up the Maze Runner. I'd heard about it and opened it to look at and never stopped reading. I had to have it. So I bought it. And read it through. Twice.

Which made me want to blog about dystopian-ish YA.  I am a re-reader. I recently re-read the fabulous Harry Potter series for the 6th or 7th time. I've read the Hunger Games trilogy at least four times through. I recently read new author Elana Johnson's Possession, and have just devoured James Dasher's Maze Runner.

Each was a wonderful example of great writing, engaging storylines and characters to care about. I know I'll be re-reading these books for years to come. Finding some more wonderful YA to add to my re-reading roster always makes me feel like I've accomplished something great. Just not as great at the wonderful authors who wrote the books.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


So my youngest kiddo is three. And being three, he says a lot of things I think are funny, athough he often misses the joke.

For instance--he is very into super heroes right now. Super man, batman, spider man; these are Gods to my child. He worships them, along with the Super Why cast, and my husband (who he has also decided is a super hero because he fights bad guys and puts them in grown up time out--aka jail.)

I, of course, do the exact same thing as hubby, but am not classified in the super hero category, for reasons I haven't yet figured out.

Perhaps mommys are separate and apart from the rules that otherwise govern the classisfication of superheros. Or it could be that he's penalizing me for snorting with laughter every time he brings up his favorite subject--super heros.

I'd be sadder about this, except for one small factor.

The kid cannot say super.

So...Spiderman, Batman and hubby are all--wait for it--stupor heros.


Not in my household. Thats right--we have Stupor man.
This probably shouldn't bring me joy. But it's just so funny. Every time I hear him say Stupor man, this is what I see:

Stupor man...missing criminal acts everywhere.


He'd rescue folks--if he weren't in such a stupor.

Okay, I know I'm juvenile. But it cracks me up!

I think I'm good with not being a stupor hero. I'm addicted to caffine already. Who knows what I'd need to get me going if I was classified as stupor woman....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mourning my Kindle--Again

So, DH got me a shiny new Kindle some months ago.

So, so pretty.
And I loved it. I adored it. I wanted to pet it and call it George.

Did I mention how pretty it was?
And light?
That it fit in my purse?
And that I could get brand new books without getting out of my pajamas?

I could read it in court, while waiting for jury roll call, and in the hallway while waiting on grand jury deliberations, and in the car on my way to our outer counties (when I wasn't driving of course).

I could read it at lunch (Doritos from the vending machine) when we didn't have enough time between hearings to actually LEAVE the court house.

I could read it in bed, and (carefully) in the bathtub. I could hold a kid in my lap and peer round his/her head to read and change pages with my thumb.

I loved my Kindle.

Then I dropped it.
The screen broke.

I mourned.

Oh, how I mourned.

Then I went onto the facebook kindle page and posted a question on where to get a broken screen fixed. After sufferring through lots of catcalls and fun making--apparently a mourning kindle breaker is impossible to resist making fun of, a kind soul advised me to call Kindle and they'd take care of me.

So I did.

And you know what? They did.

They said dropping your Kindle was covered by the warranty. Yeah--I kid you not.

Amazon sent me a beautiful new Kindle, gratis.

I promptly named it Merissa's second Kindle, and transferred all my books, all the while feeling great love for Amazon and the new free replacement Kindle and praising both to anyone who would listen.

Kindle #2 and I got along very well. It was just as wonderful as Kindle #1, but with the added advantage of an unbroken screen.

But last week, while trying to get somewhere (home) I set my purse on top of my hood, and proceeded to get all three of my (under five) rugrats in their carseats as usual. I snapped them in, defended myself from accusations of making the five point harness too tight, handed them the appropriate toys and water bottles, hopped in my car and put it in drive.

The purse (with gasp--Kindle inside) came off the hood of the car and hit the street.

And I'm pretty sure that I ran over it, because my poor, poor kindle is broken again.

I'm not just talking a broken screen. Its bent, like a giant with its attendant giant behind sat on it. And yes--the screen doesn't work any more either.

I'm pretty sure the Kindle warranty doesn't cover what I've done to the poor thing.

So now I have to decide.

I've broken two kindles in 6 months.

Can I afford another?

At least when I drop a paper book into the bathtub (yes--that has happened more times than I care to count, but dang it--the best reading time I've ever had was in a bathtub) it's a five or six dollar hit. I drop the kindle (or run it over) and its a $190 hit.

So far I haven't replaced it. But I really want to.

Monday, June 27, 2011

When there isn't much to say:

So here I sit, trying to decide what to blog about.

There's the mini family reunion I just went to this weekend. (Fabulous, but uninteresting for those of you not acquainted with our ummm--quirky? family.) So, no.

There's the simmering rant about (certain) cops who persist in send half ass (ie: lets not bother to actually show that we meet the elements of the FELONY offense we're arresting folks for before we send it to the DA's office) reports that I've been wading through today. Seriously people, your reports have to meet the elements of the offense before we can/will indict.

But no, I don't think I want to blog about that. Talk about a foolproof way to get stopped and ticketed for every traffic violation I might commit in the next year. Cops
(Not my photo--thanks to for the pic.)

But guys, seriously, if you're a cop who writes crappy reports--they're important. They reflect on you, your department and what we (prosecutors) think of you, your department, and most importantly, your case.

I know the chase is the fun stuff, but without a proper report, your prosecutors are going to drop your cases. And if they do take them to trial, they're gonna lose, because the defense is going to use your crappy report to make you look like an absolute idiot. No jury will convict on your say-so once that happens. So just write the damn report right.

And also, before the haters strike, I don't hate cops in general. My hubby's a cop--but he writes wonderful reports and puts the toilet seat back down so he escapes my wrath. SO there.
French Bulldog Raspberry
Kidding. Just kidding guys.

So, what about writing? Well--I haven't done much this week. I did do some structure evaluation on my manuscript that I have been trying to save from mediocrity. (Yes, much like Charlie Sheen, so far mediocrity is winning.)

It was helpful, until my four year old found the papers I was mapping said structure on and ripped them to shreds. I think he may have chewed on the shredded stuff, judging from the leftover mess. (I'll spare the blogosphere that picture. Yes, you may thank me for that.)

So I'll be re-mapping the structure this week. I hope to have it done before next Friday. Yes, that is an arbitrary deadline pulled stright out of the air. Still, a girl's gotta have deadlines...

I guess what I really want to say is: It's Monday folks. Hang in there--Friday will be here if we just hang on.
I hope.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Back...

Hi guys! I'm back!
So if you look back at the various posts I made previously, you'll see that its been forever since I posted. I fell into the social media trap you see. I took on so much at once, on top of my demanding home life, and I burned out. Something had to go, so I stopped blogging and slowed way down on everything else, at least until I could get a handle on my life.

But now I'm back. And I'm excited to be back.
So, I guess an update is in order.

I closed my legal practice, and went back to being a prosecutor. Its far less lucrative, but so much more fulfilling. It was a good move for me.Speaking of moves--we moved our family to the Texas/Mexico border for said prosecution positions. Hubby and I are both prosecuting felony crimes on the border. It's good and important work, and we're happy to be able to do it.

The kiddos have settled, and are doing fabulously. My middle kid (who is now four) is on the autism spectrum--super smart, but with many of the behavioral, sensory and processing tics that come with being on the spectrum. For whatever reason, he has progressed amazingly since our move. It's been wonderful to watch him, and I've gone from being terrifed for his future to knowing he's going to be okay. I can't express the joy that brings to my life.

Writing wise, I have been working, but slowly, slowly, slowly. I've taken some wonderful classes (Larry Brooks Story Structure class is fabulous if anyone is looking for a class to take and can't decide.) I've been in the planning stage of a new urban fantasy series and am getting really excited about starting the actual writing soon.

My first few stories I was a pantser with, but I have had so much fixing to do by the end that I was desperate for a new way to do things. So the story structure class has been invaluable in helping me plan a lot more with this next set. I'm also in the process of going back to my previous efforts and looking at the structure and how I can use what I've learned to fix the deficiencies in those stories. So, I have a lot of work to do. I'm going to try to blog at least once a week, and will let you guys know how the restructuring of my already written manuscript goes.

Have any of you tries to completely restructure a  completed manuscript to fix structural issues? How did it go? How long did it take? And were you happy with the results?