The business of book writing...

Those of you who still check in at ye olde pnf.com are probably sick of the doughnut business, eh? Sorry about that. It's been busy! I won't go into how work and school are busy and how I am feeling sort of like this. And I will skip the part about how Greta's dance and swimming classes are a blast but how they, coupled with the usual weekend busy-ness, make the weekend go by in a flash. And I will even skip the part about how I got totally suckered into the Dragon Tattoo series and how I'm midway through the second book in the series. (See how I just skipped all of that stuff?)
 
The most exciting thing going on with me is that I've taken the plunge and signed up for this year's National Novel Writing Month. I've got a plot, and I think I can do it! I know everybody and their brother wants to write a book, but most people are all talk. I am one of those people (who wants to write a book), and I am really, really hoping I'm not all talk.
 
I am planning on writing about a time from my life that when I have told people in recent years stories from that time, they say something akin to, "Whoa, you should totally write a book about that!" I have also gotten a lot of encouragement over the years from friends and family that they like my writing style and I should write a book, yada yada. So I am trying to put my self-consciousness aside and just go for it.
 
I think NaNoWriMo is exactly what I need. On one hand, the pressure is off: The focus is on quantity rather than quality. If I can just get something written, I will have fulfilled my personal goal. Anything above and beyond that will just be gravy. On the other hand, the pressure is on: There is a short deadline and a few strict requirements. I thrive on deadlines and rules!
 
I won't give too many details on the book, but as a bit of a teaser, I will tell you that the book contains the following: a car crash, a drug dealer, a secret wedding, p0rnography, a 300-lb theif tried in Judo, a creepy bus driver, learning how to make change, ugly people, one heavy petting session, and MURDER AND INTRIGUE!
 
And it's all true, to the best of my selective recollection, except maybe the intrigue part.
 
I am sort of terrified to write it all down and hopefully not either find out I don't have nearly enough material or to just somehow fail miserably...I am actually sort of shaking even talking about it. Grumble, grumble. I can't actually start writing-writing until November. For now, I'm outlining the plot and just trying to collect my thoughts and feeling nervous. Encouragement welcomed in the comments section!
 
Fran

The business of doughnuts...

File under: nada mucho

I try to avoid telling people about my dreams and I try to avoid hearing people's lengthy and confusing explanations about their dreams. I just think dreams don't translate well. In other words, you had to be there.

However, I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream that I thought was worth sharing. I won't go into the details because the details are boring, but right before I woke up, I saw a vision. There was a grainy gray and red image of me that was taken from an old photo from this time we went camping at our friend Pete's parents' camp. Under the image of me was a line of text. Here is my re-creation of what I saw in my dream.

I just had to share. This is probably not nearly as funny to anyone else as it is to me, but I went through the trouble to dig up the picture, scanning it, and doing some Photoshop magic.

Fran

4.5

File under: food | weekend update

We really crammed the fun in this weekend again. Friday was Greta's four and a half year birthday. When you're still young, it seems like birthdays are worth celebrating more than once a year, so we have a tradition of celebrating Greta's half birthdays. We got a pizza and some Cheesy Eddie's carrot cake and went over to hang with the Leshers. It was the perfect way to celebrate Greta's 4.5. Mike took some nice pictures of Greta that he shared with us.

This one just cracks me up. I don't know why I look so sad. I think I must be contemplating just how small I need to make all of the pieces to ensure I have lots of leftovers.

Saturday morning, Greta had her first dance lesson. Here she is before her lesson doing a "dance move." I like the crazy eyes. Don't mind the sneakers!

Parents wait out in the waiting room (or in 80% of the cases the parents haul ass someplace else as soon as the kids go back in the studio) during the lessons, so I didn't get to see Greta dancing with the rest of the kiddies, but she clearly had a wonderful time and she was able to show us some of her moves later on. And can I say I can't fathom leaving Greta in the dance studio while I just disappear and run errands or something?? Is that wrong?

Today, we had lunch at a new restaurant in Rochester, The Owl House. I actually went there earlier in the week with my friend Alex and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I couldn't wait to have Pat and Greta try it, and I also couldn't wait to eat another Fort Point sandwich (in a nutshell, it's a fried fish sandwich). Everybody knows how much I love Doug's Fish Fry, and I've tried many other fish sandwiches, none that have come close to tasting as fresh and delicious as Doug's. Well, comparing the two sandwiches is sort of like comparing apples and oranges, but damn, the Fort Point gives Doug's Fish Fry a run for its money in the fish sandwich department. At this point, I will call them different but equal. You heard it here first. (Sorry, Doug. I will always, always, always love your fish fry [not that you read my cruddy website].)I'm sure the rest of the food at The Owl House is amazing too, but I may never know since they had me at panko-encrusted tilapia croquette.

Oh, also, we took our annual trip to Powers Farm Market. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Every time after Greta feeds one of the animals, she does this funny little slobber hand dance for a second or two.

We're currently in a phase where when we ask Greta to smile, we get something like ridiculous. Exhibit A.

After some coaxing we got this.

Fran

You can pick your friends, and you can pick your apples, but you can't pick your friends' apples

File under: weekend update

Friday night: I was grumpy and had a headache, but Pat and Greta totally lured me to RIT for a carnival and fireworks. The carnival and fireworks didn't really help my headache, but they sure were fun. It was fun to watch Greta take it all in. We ran into Greta's best daycare buddy and her family and got to watch fireworks with them. Oddly, they were the best fireworks we'd ever seen. They just seemed extra super duper loud, bright, and big. We were close enough that we were getting hit by ash and firework shrapnel, which is just close enough for me. (I love fireworks.) It was such a good impromptu night of fun.

Saturday: We had a lazy morning, and then when I was in the shower I had this overwhelming feeling that Greta's swim classes started that day. Pat confirmed and we high-tailed it over to RIT for Greta's first swim class. It was one-on-one instruction, and while Greta was clearly nervous and reserved, she made great progress with her new instructor, Erica (who was much sweeter than my childhood swim teacher, Mrs. Casper, the former drill instructor).

Saturday night: We headed down the street to our neighborhood block party. It was sort of highfalutin! We hung out with the Johnsons, and the girls had so much fun together. There was good food, booze, good company, and after a fairly horrible DJ, there was a fairly awesome band. Everyone really whooped it up, and the band very well had the best gig of their music-playin' lives.  They played a hybrid of Bust a Move and Norwegian Wood that sort of blew my mind. Sadly, I have no idea what the name of the band is, or I would totally give them props here.

Sunday: I took Greta to an apple orchard we'd never been to called Lagoner Farms. It was a bit of a drive, but I loved that they had all of the must-haves I look for in an orchard and it wasn't at all crowded. We took some pictures.

We also made the best apple pie ever.

Later on Sunday, Pat took Greta to Seabreeze for one last time during the summer season. They didn't win any awesome prizes, but they did have a lovely time.

What else? We also signed Greta up for dance classes (finally). That is something I've been looking forward to since Greta was a zygote. (No pressure, Greta.) We went and bought her ballet slippers and tap shoes tonight, and the look on her face when she made the first tapping noise on the tile floor in the shoe store was the GREATEST LOOK EVER. I can't wait to see my little bunny dance. I think my heart will explode with joy a thousand times. (Really, no pressure, Greta.)

Fran

Seabreasy

File under: nada mucho

I mentioned that we went to Seabreeze last week and that it deserved its own post. It was a week night and we just wanted to go for a couple hours to enjoy the nice weather and get out for a bit. I sort of randomly suggested Greta play some game, and somehow she walked away with the "jumbo" prize (based on luck, not skill—or maybe she's a total ringer, I don't know) for that particular game. She picked out this big yellow dog, and we were enjoying the thrill of the win, when Pat plunked down $3 to play some other game. I thought he was nuts, but Pat said, "This is my game." Um, okay. (Pat worked a summer at Enchanted Forest, but I didn't know he had mastered a midway game!) About 30 seconds later, we were walking away with the biggest stuffed dog dressed in a banana costume I've ever seen.

It was sort of surreal. After they won their prizes, whenever they would go on rides, I had to stand there holding both of the giant stuffed animals, and it was so ridiculous. I kept getting heckled by strangers, and it was hilarious. (Maybe you had to be there.)

Sadly, I neglected to take a picture at the time, while we were at the park, so I had to try to re-create the scene in the back yard tonight and then use my (piss poor) Photoshop Skills to simulate the actual event.

Or maybe you prefer this more realistic one in front of the carousel.

And then we went to France.

Followed by a stop in Africa.

Then we went home.

Greta picked the "doggie in the banana outfit," that Pat won, and at first I was just like, "Hmm, dog in a banana costume," and then it dawned on me that it's Brian, the dog from Family Guy, from this. It's one of the few Family Guy episodes I've actually seen. And now there's a giant hommage to it is in my living room. Naturally.

In case you want a behind-the-scenes look at tonight's photoshoot, here you go!

Fran

Hiking and LARPs

File under: weekend update

Hola, amigos. Where to begin?

This past month has been sort of a blur. August was the end of the fiscal year for the company I contract for, and I spent a lot of time either furiously editing (that's quite an image, right?) or nervously awaiting work I knew was going to hit at any moment. It wasn't pleasant, but I'm always willing to work my butt off to make crazy deadlines as long as it's the exception and not the rule. The only other thing I'll say about that is that I'm glad it's done and that I'm glad I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish.

Did I mention Pat has a new job? He is still working at RIT and doing a similar job, but he's in a different department now. The change has been a good one, but it means he's been working extra super hard and getting settled there.

To try and compensate (probably overly so), we have been trying to make things as fun as absolutely possible for Greta. A few highlights include going to Letchworth State Park (aka, the "Grand Canyon of the East"), going to Seabreeze multiple times (that is worthy of its own blog, which I will do soon-trust me), and going to Genesee Country Village and Museum. These things seem noteworthy to me because all of them were completely out of my comfort zone a month ago, but now I think they're all at least kind of awesome.

Last Sunday it was super hot and Pat and I were both overtired and slightly hung over (we went to a wedding Saturday night), so naturally we decided spending the day in the sun and hiking seemed like a fine idea. After I got over the feeling that I was going to pass out and we found trails in the lower area of the park, where we could actually get to the water, we had the best time, as evidenced by these pictures.

See? It's sort of Grand Canyony.

This is what I look like out of doors.

Greta was all serious about the hiking, and toward the end, she insisted that we let her carry the backpack. People were looking at us sort of funny when we got to the really steep parts and she was carrying the backpack like some sort of blond, four-year-old Sherpa, but I was very proud of her. I loved the day so much I had a big, dumb grin on my face the entire time (except when I was fighting the urge to keel over). It was great; I can't wait to go back.

On the way home from Letchworth, we let Greta start a movie in the car. When we got home, she brought the DVD player inside and made herself comfortable on our tile kitchen floor. I just thought it was cute and worth documenting.

Since branching out was so fun, today I suggested we go to Genesse Country Village and Museum (which I had seen pictures of in the past and that made me snicker). Today was colder and windier than a witch's elbow (what? witch elbows are wicked cold and windy), witch which we didn't let dampen our spirits with wind and cold. I took zero pictures, but as I sort of eluded to, pictures of this place don't do it justice. Greta was super into it and was talking to a lot of the LARPs (live-action role players). She asked them cute questions like, "How long did it take you to make that?" and "How long have you worked here?" and things like that. (It's amazing and so satisfying to see your kid turn into this little thoughtful person who isn't painfully shy!) Toward the end it felt like we had been there 5 million hours, and now I am so tired (and I think maybe a little wind burned??), but it was awesome. Yay for stepping out of my little tiny comfort zone.

Fran

 

Visit to (one of) the Thousand Islands

File under: weekend update

This weekend we went to visit Pat's parents at their camp in Cape Vincent. Greta had a blast staying up late roasting marshmallows, riding on her Grandpa Dick's boat, and visiting a real deal castle. Okay, so she thought the castle was sort of boring (thanks to her being completely brainwashed by the horrible, evil Disney Princess empire), but it had its moments.

Here we are on the ferry going over to Boldt Island. Greta asked what princess would be at the castle. I told her there aren't a lot of princesses in this area so she would be the only princess at the castle. Greta was...skeptical.

Pat took this picture about a second after a very loud horn sounded on the boat. I like how the picture turned out.

At this point she was in awe.

The wow factor went downhill pretty quickly, though.

Boldt Castle is super cool, aside from all of the annoying people around. Most of the castle has been renovated and is very lovely. Of course I liked the dilapidated areas of the castle.

Princess Sassafras refused to pose for pictures at this point. I like how creepy this looks.

Speaking of creepy, we stopped for a dinner of champions at McDonald's on the way to camp. I was VERY excited when I found out the Happy Meal toys for girls right now are Madame Alexander dolls. This is one of the odd things about me: I love Madame Alexander dolls! My grandma gave me three of the regular full-size MA dolls when I was little, and I just love them. I find it very strange that McDonalds has mini Madame Alexander dolls, but whatever; mini Madame Alexander dolls that smell faintly of burger are pretty awesome in my book. The dolls they have are from famous fairy tales, and there were some cool ones, like Hansel, Gretel, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Alice in Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter. And then there is the one I got: "Wendy Dressed as the Big Bad Wolf." Wha?? I have never heard of this I don't think? I love it, though. Look how creepy!

Fran

Letting my nerd flag fly

File under: work

By far my least-favorite part about being an editor is when a writer or another reviewer decides to fight me throughout the process. It is really unpleasant. It usually stems from one of the following:

  • The writer/reviewer is insecure and can't admit he/she is wrong.
  • The writer/reviewer has enough knowledge of grammar and style that he/she is dangerous.
  • The editor is wrongmistaken.

 

There are many other scenarios, I'm sure, but those are the three main issues I face. Also, I don't know what it is, but people seem to get great satisfaction from pointing out when editors make an error and really rub it in their faces.

In my reviews, I always try to be thoughtful, thorough, and kind. Although Pat probably won't back me on this, I will fully admit that I make mistakes and that I don't know everything. (I'm still learning!) But 99% of the time I have a rationale for the changes I make during a review and can almost always support each change with documentation. For the most part, I think I am really good at what I do.

I seem to go through phases where things are hunky-dory. I think I've got this whole editor-writer relationship down pat and that I've truly earned the respect of my associates. And then everything will go to shit, and I'm slogging through the day dodging bullets and hoping for the best. All I can do is try to stay thoughtful, thorough, and kind and give myself a pat on the back after a day's work. (That's the other downside of being an editor: When I do a good job, all is well so my work goes unnoticed. When I make a mistake, that's when people notice. Oh, hai! I was in an interview once where the hiring manager said something like, "If you do this job, you're going to have to be okay with yourself at the end of the day. Editors don't get praise." It's so true.) Also, I read blogs like this one. It's like therapy. This latest post definitely struck a chord with me, as they often do, and I thought I would share.

Fran

Goodest Editor

File under: announcement

My father is not the only one in the family who wins awards. Last night I went to a work event, and I was not surprised that the baseball game got rained out, and I was not surprised that the catering at Frontier Field was mediocre at best, but I was quite surprised that there was an awards ceremony and that I won the award for "Goodest Editor."

Sadly, I will not win any awards based on the quality of this photo, but it was the best I could do at the moment.

I was really quite honored. Although the awards all had a humorous twist, it is nice to know I work—as a work-from-home contract employee, mind you—with a boss who knows us all well enough that he could come up with something funny and personal to say about all of us. I don't think many self-employed people get that (or a free night at a ball game) from the companies they contract for, so I am thankful. I am going to cherish the award always and will be throwing it in people's faces (the title, not the award itself, silly) for years to come.

How dare you question me? I won the Goodest Editor award in 2010!

Fran

You Can

File under: blah | update

The last couple weeks I've felt a little like I'm in an emotional rabbit hole. Nothing seems to be going right. It happens. I have a really hard time updating this site when I get into a mood like this because I can't think of anything to say that isn't either overly personal or might be potentially hurtful to someone else. So that's why there has been the big lag between updates. I'm just super grumpy and I've been biting my tongue.

A handful of years ago, I was working at a company where morale was particularly low and people were leaving left and right. They didn't have money to give raises, and there wasn't a whole lot they could do to improve things. One morning, when we arrived at work, we each found an empty can at our desks along with a letter from one of the likeable bigwigs at the company. On the can, there was a label that said "You Can." The letter explained the concept of "You Can," which, in a nutshell, is just that you can make things how you want them. We can't necessarily expect outside factors to all be easy and great, so when the going gets tough, you get a can full of nothin' on your desk so you can panhandling after work to be able to afford diapers...or something like that. Anyway, everyone thought it was ridiculous, and the likeable bigwig and yours truly both jumped ship not long after the "You Can" surfaced. The fact of the matter, though, is that sometimes you gotta just suck it up and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

In the spirit of the You Can, here are some things that I've done or seen in the last few weeks that haven't completely sucked:

Our old college friend Sarah came into town for a night with her boyfriend Dennis. Sarah is one of the nicest people I know, and it was great to see her. (It was the first time we'd seen her since our wedding.) She showered us with gifts, which was completely unnecessary but really nice. My favorite is a Pez dispenser she got for Pat from the Norman Rockwell Museum. How cool is this?

Days after, a different old college friend named Sara came into town for a night. I met up with her at LUX and got to meet her husband, Brian, who is one of those people you immediately like and feel comfortable with, like you feel like you could tell him about the time the gang of senior girl bullies picked on you in the ninth grade and how you still fear wearing hats because of it, and how he would actually care and be able to say something to make you think maybe you could wear a hat again someday. (I resisted spilling my guts to him, though.) They're good people, and I only wish I had gotten to see them more. Plus, there was free popcorn at LUX that night. Yeah, that was a good night.

This week, another old college friend named Amanda came into town for a night. I met up with her and our friend Sue and we went to Flight, which is a pretty cool wine bar. We laughed A LOT. Those people you can go without seeing for 12 years and then laugh with as hard as you used to laugh when you lived next door to them are GOOD people.

And as if that weren't enough...

I heard about this. I love that peer pressure even works on people who are old and filthy rich. Whatever works.

I also heard about this. Who knew mannequin arms could be so hilarious?

I also heard about this. I love that even NPR thought it was newsworthy.

Finally, I am very proud to report that my dad won a prestigious award in his field. My dad is one of those people who consistently works hard and is smart and humble and is good for the sake of being good. If I needed to write an essay for a college application about the person I admire most, I would write about my dad (with Ira Glass as a back-up subject). He is great, and I'm really glad when other people notice. Hopefully he won't be too embarrassed by my posting this video about it.

So there you go. Fran CAN get out of a funk.

Fran

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