Writer’s Workspace: 2/6

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  Revisions to ABSENT, my archaeological time travel novel, are roaring ahead, plus I’ve started drafting a new, very exciting project (top secret, of course).  Here’s a little excerpt:

Snippet from the screen: “Daniel laced his fingers through mine.  His palms were callused and his dark skin was warm.

I sighed.  “I don’t deserve you, you know.”

“Sure you do.”

Huh.  Like I’d ever believe that. 

We sat in silence, holding hands.  Outside, the rain began to fall.  A gull shrieked as it sought shelter in the broken-down third floor turret and raindrops pelted the window, tappity-tap, tappity-tap.  They sounded like a fairy’s tiny fists knocking against the glass. 

If only.  If only magic was fairies and rainbows and wishes.”

In my mug: Mighty Leaf Tropical Green Tea, with a little honey.

On the iTunes: Keep on Tryin’ by Poco.

Keeping me company: No pictures of Mr. Ramses today.  He’s found some dark corner to hide in; probably where he’s working on his manifesto for a world free of human overseers.  Maybe I’d better go check on him…

Out the window: global warming continues to offer Brooklyn a deceptively mild winter.  Sun. 52 today.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone: a few links to share.  First up,  if you haven’t been over to Adventures in SciFi Publishing recently, you should check it out. There’s all sorts of yummy book reviews, podcasts, and interviews with awesome authors.  And, speaking of book reviews, some fellow VP alums have started a new blog for that very purpose, Spec Fic Chicks.  They have in-depth, thoughtful reviews of books featuring strong female characters or written by women authors.

Okay, that’s all from me today, folks.

Over and out!

Writer’s Workspace: 1/20

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  I’ve got two projects going right now.  The first is development for a new book I want to start drafting.  It involves an epidemic, so I’ve been working on building an epidemiological model for the virus.  This has been a fun confluence of research, imagination, and ick-factor.  In the meantime, I’m continuing with revisions to the second draft of my archaeological time travel novel, ABSENT.  I’ve made it about 1/3 of the way into the novel and my characters are currently marooned in Ice Age Wyoming.

Snippet from the screen: “Nick was crouched at the edge of the group, his gaze shifting across the barren, grey landscape.  He looked as if he felt slightly ill.  Emily didn’t blame him.  It was one thing to speculate about traveling through time, but quite another to actually find yourself 11,000 years in the past freezing your ass off on top of a glacial moraine.”

In my mug: White tea with honeysuckle and…honey. 

Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses is not so much keeping me company as begging constantly for food.  He seems to be of the opinion that colder weather = development of a Jabba-like exterior layer of fat.  Fortunately for Ramses (and unfortunately for me), he is an expert, extremely annoying, relentless beggar.  Jabba-the-cat, here we come.

Out the window:  Brooklyn is currently clear, cold, and sunny.  Passersby on the sidewalk are hunched into their coats.  Snow is in the forecast for later today, with the weatherman calling for everyone’s favorite, a “wintery-mix” (read: ice slushie).  Good times.

On the iTunes: to keep my heart warm on such a brittle, cold day, I’m listening to Afro-Cuban jazz and remembering the feel of sunshine on my face and wine in my glass from last week’s vacation to the Napa Valley.  It’s working surprisingly well.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone:  First up: an interesting podcast from Writing Excuses on how to turn protagonists into antagonists (or just add a little twist of the dark side to your good guys).  Second: a link I’ve found very useful lately — a slightly older post from Rachel Aaron’s blog in which she lays out her process for plotting a novel.  It’s very pragmatic and detailed and nuts-and-bolts.  Finally, for those of you interested in my aforementioned trip to Napa, or those of you considering making such a journey yourselves, I’ve blogged a wine country travelogue (with reviews of restaurants, wineries, etc.) over on the food blog I contribute to, Between Courses.  Check it out.

Alrighty!  That’s it for me today.  I’m off to get my characters into more trouble (up next: a run-in with an Ice Age giant bear.  Fun!).  What are YOU doing today?

Writer’s Workspace: 12/12

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  now that the semester is nearly over, I’m beginning to find a bit more time to write.  Two things are on the table at the moment:  the ongoing revisions to the 2nd draft of ABSENT and outlining for my next novel, tentatively titled TROLL UNDER THE BRIDGE.  It’s exciting to be emerging from under the pile of lectures, exams, and papers and starting to refocus on my writing.  Here’s an excerpt from ABSENT for your reading pleasure:

Snippet from the screen: “Nick hunched at his desk.  A half-eaten egg-and-cheese congealed nearby in its wrapper.  It was late on Tuesday afternoon; late enough that the streets outside the precinct would be painted with long, reaching shadows; late enough that Happy Hour couldn’t be far off.  Nick glared at the burned, acid-smelling cup of coffee stagnating in his fist and considered how much better a shot of whiskey would taste.”

On the iTunes: Okay, admitting this is admitting that I (occasionally) watch Glee…but I really like their recent re-imagining of the 80’s classic “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.  It’s slow and mournful and really like a whole new song.  I’ve been playing it a lot, I confess.

In my mug: Numi Organic Breakfast.

Keeping me company:  Since there is construction going on in the apartment upstairs from ours, Mr. Ramses has spent most of his time hiding in dark corners and shooting truly pitiful looks at anyone who happens to stumble upon him.  So, no company for me today.  The construction is loud and distracting, but the upshot is that the building developer is letting me use an unsold, staged apartment in another building as a hide-out while the work is going on.  It’s cool – kind of like squatting, but in a really fancy house.  Best of all, because the units aren’t sold yet, there’s no internet to distract me.  In fact…I think maybe I’d better head over there right now 😉

A little procrastination never hurt anyone:  before I go, I have two links to share.  First off, the New York Times posted an article yesterday about these amazing photographs by French photographer Cédric Delsaux.  They portray industrial landscapes with a post-apocalyptic feel superimposed with images from Star Wars.  So Cool.  In a more writerly/readerly vein, check out my friend Cath’s list of her favorite books of 2011.

Okay.  Miranda Out.

Writer’s Workspace: 11/16

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  I haven’t had a lot of free time lately, so carving out moments to write has been painful, if necessary, work (mid-semester with a new course prep ain’t a pretty row to hoe).  I’m pleased with the results of my efforts, though.  I’ve managed a few hundred words most mornings, whether I’m headed off to campus or not, and some longer hauls on off days (like today).  Thus, the 2nd draft of ABSENT (my archaeological time-travel novel) is being excreted, word by word, paragraph by paragraph.

Snippet from the screen:

Nick listened in silence.  When Emily was done, he sat back in his chair.  “You can’t seriously expect me to believe this.”

Emily crossed thin arms over her chest and regarded him with a grim expression.  The cut on her cheek looked puckered and angry, and though she appeared small, almost lost, inside her baggy black sweater, she most certainly didn’t look like she was joking.

On the iTunes:  I’m not really in a musical mood today.  The world is too grey and hushed.  But the hubby is working from home this morning, so I’m listening to the tapity-tap of his keyboard coming from down the hall.  That’s music enough for me.

In my mug:  Well, regular readers hardly need me to fill this one out.  Nevertheless: Numi Chinese Breakfast.  Just the dregs left now.

Keeping me company:  Though I have a lovely, cozy office space, today I’m out in one of our equally comfy living room chairs, feet up on the coffee table.  Mr. Ramses is passed out on the couch.   It’s what he does.  Pretty cute, eh?

Out the window:  Fall’s grey cape, my friends.  Brooklyn will see rain before the day is out.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone:  Today I fear that if I go hunting for spicy links to share I may never return.  Writing calls.  And I bet it calls you too.  Get to work!

Writer’s Workspace: 9/21

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  It’s been a tough week writing-wise as I struggle to keep up with developing lectures for the new class I’m teaching this semester.  Still, I’ve managed to squeeze a little bit of outlining and drafting in at odd hours (waiting for the bus, during office hours, during commercial breaks of Dancing with the Stars (priorities, people!), and while I administer exams).  Today, if I can knock out slides and discussion questions on Teotihuacan and write a review sheet for the next exam, I earn writing time.  Maybe even a whole 5 minutes!  Thus, the 2nd draft of ABSENT is inching forward (emphasis on “inching”), as is the first draft of my short story about skull collectors in a Steampunk 1830’s Florida.

Snippet from the screen:  “The dusk crept in and wrapped itself around Elizabeth.  It shrouded the scrub brush of the Seminole swamplands, and with it came a great Charon transport machine, clanking and groaning across the battlefield to collect the dead.”

On the iTunes: nothing but the sound of my own teeth gnashing as I overcaffinate and wallow in stress.  Yay!

Out the window: the Great Deluge of 2011 continues.  Rain, clouds, yuck.

In my mug:  My supply of crack cocaine Numi Chinese Breakfast tea has been replenished (I know you were all worried after last week’s shortage), but our Pur filter isn’t working and the distinctive tang of NYC public water can be detected beneath the tea’s flavor.  Not that this is preventing me from drinking buckets of it…

Keeping me company: His Royal Highness, Mr. Ramses, King of Cats, is launching a full-on cuteness offensive.  Asserting world domination, one nap at a time.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone:  truer words, and all that.  Today I just have one link to share, but it’s a super-special one, I promise!  Check it out: top ten (most hilarious) Amazon reviews of ridiculous (yet real!) products.  Wolf urine, anyone?  I know I’m running low.  Thanks to George for pointing me towards this one 🙂

What’s on your docket today (after you run out and buy your Official Luke Skywalker Ceremonial Jacket with Medal of Yavin, that is)?

Writer’s Workspace: 9/7

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  Today I’ve got a full docket – I need to finish my lecture on the Zapotec and I want to start plotting out some revisions to ABSENT (2nd draft, here I come!).  I also have to work my bi-monthly shift at the Park Slope Food Co-op (something I like about as well as scraping poop off the bottom of my shoes).  I’m also working on a new short story set in a steampunk version of 1830’s Florida…

Snippet from the screen: “The dusk crept in and wrapped itself around Elizabeth.  It shrouded the scrub brush of the Seminole swamplands, and with it came a great Charon transport machine, clanking and groaning across the battlefield to collect the dead.”

On the iTunes: Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top (cause, you know, HELL YEAH!)

Out the window: Rain, and more rain…and still more rain.  It’s worse than the supposed “hurricane” last week.  Le Sigh.

In my mug: I have (gasp!) run out of my favorite tea (Numi Chinese Breakfast) and have resorted to a combination of Assam leaves and Irish Breakfast blend to achieve sufficient taste and “wake the hell up, Suri!” zing.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone (especially on such a rainy day): For those you working on synopses or queries, check out Chuck Windig’s 25 Things series on the self-same topic.  Or, over at Practical Free Spirit, you can read along as Amy Sundberg considers whether or not outer space has become an outdated topic for SciFi. Finally, I’ve recently started following K.C. Woolf’s blog.  She writes about travel, writing, and health with both passion and compassion.  Check it out.

Alright.  I’m off to do a little work.  Wish me luck, and share your goals for the day in the comments.  Pretty please?

Writer’s Workspace: 8/29

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  tomorrow is the first day of the semester for me (eek!) and I still have an appalling amount of course prep to do, but I’m trying to sneak a little writing in as well.  I’m working on crafting the final chapters of ABSENT (yay!), which means the draft will soon be done and revisions can begin.

Snippet from the screen:

“Emily glanced down at the old photograph.  It showed five people, all dressed in 1920’s style clothing.  Two men stood against the exposed face of an excavation trench, bands of stratigraphy clear behind them.  Panama hats shaded their faces from the sun and one had a pipe clenched between his teeth.  But Emily’s eyes were drawn to the two women seated on the ground.  One of them was thin and regal and had her head turned away, as if she was looking at something out of frame.  The other stared straight at the photographer.  Emily gasped.  The woman gazing out of the picture looked exactly like her.

     “So you see it, then?” Reid asked.  He sounded relieved.  “It’s not just me?”

     Emily nodded, slowly.  “This woman could be my twin.”

     “And the man, the one standing to the left of the pipe-smoker?” 

     Emily held the photo closer, narrowing her eyes to try and make out more details.  “My god,” she whispered.  “That’s you.”

One the iTunes: I’m chillin’ to the sounds of silence today.

In my mug: Numi Aged Earl Grey, hot and steaming.

Out the window: in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Brooklyn streets are slick and filled with debris.  Our neighborhood got a lot of rain and a little wind, but avoided any flooding and downed trees.  After all the build-up and waiting, this felt at once like a let-down and a relief.

Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses enjoyed all the extra attention he got this weekend (some friends who were forced to evacuate stayed with us during the “storm”), but now he has to catch up on his snoozing and loafing about.  No worries, though — he’s a professional loafer.

I’m pretty busy today, so no time for procrastinatory links!  Sorry.  Feel free to share some of your own in the comments, though.  And let me know what you’re up to today.  Writing goals, anyone?

Writer’s Workspace: 7/21

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Writer’s Workspace – mostly because it’s been awhile since this writer has had much time to work.  Between excavating in Honduras for several weeks, traveling to Readercon, and preparing to move into our new apartment, writing time has been about as scarce as tropical seabirds on the ice planet Hoth.

Still, even though tomorrow is the day of the Big Move, I am determined to carve a little me time out this morning.  After all, there’s not much packing left to do.  We’ve gotten rid of 85% of our furniture, thrown out half our clothes, and donated half our books.  I even parted with a beloved Le Creuset pot on the reasonable grounds that, though it is beautiful, I never use it.  All we have left is a couple of chairs, a bed, a mountain of self-replicating cat hair that was living in the back corner of the closet — and, of course, my workspace.

What I’m working on: with limited time, I’m doing something easy — working on entering edits I made on my hard copy of ABSENT while in Honduras.  Creative?  No.  Necessary?  Yes.  As the example below illustrates, I am a Wordy McWordschmidt when I draft.

Snippet from the screen:

Nick shoved his gun back in its holster, stepped forward, and wrapped his arms around her.  Emily went limp, clutching him, her gloved hands gripping fistfuls of his jacket and .  She was panting, her breath coming fast and her breath was hot against his neck.

They were still standing like that when Reid came tearing tore up to the top of the ridge.

“I heard a roar,” he said.  “And screaming.”   His face was white wild with fear and concern.

On the iTunes: The Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine

"Pack these shoes and I'll cut you!"

Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses is deeply unsettled by all the kerfuffle in the apartment of late.  Where, he wonders, is the furniture he so lovingly marked with this drool?  What has happened to all his good hiding places?  And, if we’re throwing out everything else, can his Friskies be next?

Out the window: I don’t know why I always think it’s going to lovely and summery in New York.  Three years here should have taught me better by now.  It’s near 100 degrees and humid enough for me to think I never came back from Honduras.  I’m sure our movers are going to Super Enthusiastic about lugging our boxes in this weather.  I know *I’m* sure looking forward to it!

A little procrastination never hurt anyone: first up, here’s an interesting post from N.K. Jemisin about the limits put on womanhood in the fantasy genre.  Another fun post worth a look is Amy Sundberg’s discussion of the reasons writers are like superheroes.  Finally, Writing Excuses recently did a podcast about writing query letters.

Well, I’d better seize my opportunity to do a bit of writing and editing before the packing gremlins whisk my computer away!

What are YOU up to today?

Writer’s Workspace: 6/22

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  with exactly a week to go before I leave for the field, I’m powering ahead in a last ditch effort to try and finish the first draft of ABSENT before heading south to Honduras.  I estimate I’ve got to write around 5K per day to meet this goal, and, in all likelihood, I will not make it.  Most probably, I will fail spectacularly.  Still, gotta try!

Snippet from the screen:

“Davis smiled at them genially enough, but his curiosity was clear.  His eyes lingered on their jeans and T-shirts.  “Where did you say you were from again?”

“We’re Americans,” Reid said.

“Ah.  Americans!”  Davis nodded as if this explained everything.”

On the iTunes:  at the moment, I’m listening to “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum.  But 3 minutes and 57 seconds from now, it’s anyone’s guess.

Keeping me company:  Well, my good-for-nothing cat is supposed to be lounging nearby, looking adorable, and occasionally allowing me to pet and feed him…BUT he’s opted instead to snooze on top of the refrigerator and utterly, completely ignore me.  Ungrateful cuss.  I’d include a photo, but since it’d just be of one of his ears barely visible above the cabinet edge, what’s the point?

Out the window:  it’s a beautiful, sunny day in Brooklyn and I’m enjoying the air conditioning while it lasts (it’s 96 degrees and 2,000% humidity in Honduras right now, and the village we live in while excavating is a 100% air conditioning-free zone).

In my mug:  Numi Chinese Breakfast tea

A little procrastination never hurt anyone:  first, you can head over to my archaeology blog and read up on my field project in Honduras.  Then, check out Chuck Wendig’s 25 things to know about writing a novel – funny and true.  And, if that ain’t enough for you, my dear, insatiable reader, mosey on over to Query Shark for a little truth smackdown.

Writer’s Workspace: 6/8

Good morning!  Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  One word for you all today: NOVEL.  Must finish the first draft.  Now that summer’s rolling along and I no longer have even the minor time pressures of my day job, I’ve decided to enforce a daily word count.  1500 a day and not a word less.  Most days I’ll get more, but if I don’t force myself to do at least this much I might get swallowed whole by the gaping maw of excuses (e.g. “I’ve got all the time in world,” “I’ll start writing after I view every Netflix watch-instantly movie from the 1980’s,” “Maybe I should clean out my closet/bookshelf/pantry/magazine rack again?” “Oh! Is that the ice cream truck I hear?”).  So, the novel and at least 1500 words.  Go.

Snippet from the screen:  “Dinner was a blur; Nick barely knew what he ate.  Music rolled over them in waves, crashing gently across the room.  He drank bourbon.  She had champagne.  They talked, telling each other stories about their lives, sharing secrets, leaning in across the table.”

On the iTunes: Rolling in the Deep, by Adele

Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses has been shunning me lately.  Whenever the hubby is out of town (as he is now), it becomes abundantly clear that Ramses prefers him vastly and actually might even hate me.  He appears only to imperiously demand food and play time (then looks at me disinterestedly once I actually get the toys out), or to bite me.  Good times around here, folks!

In my mug: Ceylon tea, slightly over-steeped and a little bitter.  But who am I kidding?  Of course I’ll drink it all.

Out my window:  95 degrees and sunny, as if God had taken a magnifying glass, held it down towards Brooklyn, and said “ROAST LITTLE PRIMATES, ROAST!”  The window A/C units are gasping like marathon runners in the final mile and it’s only 9am.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone: (except, as noted above, me).  But, nevertheless…  Check out Chuck Wendig on when to quit writing over at Terrible Minds.  It seems sleepless nights as a new dad have only spurred him to more humorous heights.  Or, if you prefer something a bit more serious, the lovely Mary Robinette Kowal has joined the team at Writing Excuses; go listen to their latest podcast on creativity.

Better yet, head to the comments and tell me what you’re up to today, what links you’d like share, or how blisteringly hot it is where you are.

Then go write.  Seriously.