Emily M. DeArdo

writer

NaNoWriMo

Seven Quick Takes No. 128

7 Quick Takes, health, transplant, writing, fictionEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

ICYMI: I wrote other things than the 30 Days series this week! Here's a post on the Four Last Things--in time for Halloween. (Or it was when I posted it!) And part II of my Houston Postcards.

II.

I had clinic on Monday. The X-ray is good, the PFTs are in their normal range, so that's all happy. The biggest happy, though? I got to go off prednisone! Yayyyy!

Prednisone is a steroid that does some nasty things to your body. It keeps inflammation down, and it's widely used in the transplant world. In other types of transplant, people can go off this drug after a few years. In lung transplant, that's much less common. So I knew that there was a good chance my doctors wouldn't let me go off it. But I'm 11 years out, I'm stable....I might as well ask!

"These lungs are basically yours," my doctor told me, so he didn't see a problem with me trying it. I have to go back for lung function tests (PFTs) in December, to make sure that nothing evil is happening in my lungs. But right now, I am off prednisone. 

III. 

I'm not going to lie: the first few days of this have been rough. After only seven days, your body adapts to prednisone and makes changes in a lot of ways. I've been on it for eleven years. Tuesday, Wednesday, and yesterday were a bit tough as my body adjusted to being off it, especially in the muscle/joint department. They liked steroids. I'm hoping that now that I have good lungs that are not full of Evil Bacteria, my joints will be happy without the prednisone. (CF people often have a sort of quasi-arthritis--it's not "real" arthritis, but joint pain, stiffness, etc. happens.) I really didn't miss all that insanity, so I'm hoping that they're going to be happy without the pred. 

IV. 

On Wednesday I got to see one of my favorite singers, Canadian artist Loreena McKennit. If you're not familiar with her music, here's a few tastes: 

 

 

She's hard to categorize; sometimes she's labeled "Celtic", sometimes "new age", and sometimes "world", but I just say she's great. She rarely tours, and very rarely tours in the U.S., so when tickets went on sale for her one concert in town, my friend Suellen and I jumped on them.

Our AP English teacher, Mrs. Low, had introduced us to Loreena's Music, with "Lady of Shalott" and "The Highwayman"--so we've been fans for a long time now. (Yikes, 17 years!) Hearing her sing "The Lady of Shalott" in person has vastly added to my lifetime happiness. 

V. 

I'm also doing NaNoWriMo! This is my fifth year. I'm writing a story about a girl who enters a monastery. I've been wanting to write a novel about nuns for awhile, but having seen a lot of recently released novels that paint nuns in a less than flattering light made me move this story forward over other NaNo ideas. It also has a strong ballet component, so I'm writing about two pretty rarefied worlds in one novel. (And no, it's not like the ballet in Trouble With Angels. Ha!) I'm going to hit the 10K mark today. 

(If you're not familiar with NaNo: The objective is to write a 50,000 words novel from start to finish during the month of November.) 

VI. 

As soon as I hit 10K today, I'm watching The Crown on Netflix. Seriously. I love Claire Foy, I love the Royals, I love Netflix....it all works together for pure binge watching enjoyment! (And there's going to be a second season! WOOOOO!) The goal is to have 60 episodes over 6 seasons. So Claire Foy is playing Queen Elizabeth II in the early part of her reign. I'm so excited. Seriously. Royal geek, right here. 

(And Stephen Daldry is directing episodes! He directed one of my favorite movies, The Hours.) 

VII. 

OK, wow, that's enough fan-girling for one post. Sorry guys. :) Have a great weekend! 

Next week--my October reading wrap post. It's long! It's fun! 

Updates from the writing desk

behind the scenes, writing, current projectsEmily DeArdoComment

(No, I'm not going to ask you why a raven is like a writing desk.)

I have begun editing  Tempest, my NaNoWriMo 2015 winner. My editing process works in layersThe first is--I don't start editing right away. In this case, I gave myself more than a month to let the novel "sit" and give me a break from it. I want to approach it with fresh eyes when I begin to edit. 

Second--I don't read it all in one gulp. I've set about 45 minutes aside each day for editing. Yesterday, that turned out to be basic copyediting, for the most part, because I was really pleased with what I'd written. I think I captured Julie's voice really well in the first section, and that makes me happy. (Julie is my protagonist, for those of you just joining me.) The novel is divided into several parts, and yesterday I got through the first part and a few chapters of the second. 

Third--after I do my first edit, I go back to the beginning, and read it all again. Is everything still working? Do I like where the novel goes? Does the plot work? Do I need more detail anywhere? Do I need less detail? 

So far, that's how my process works. After these steps, I'll leave it alone for another few months, to, again, give myself distance from it. I repeat the process until I'm satisfied with what I have. 

Since Tempest is the first part of a planned trilogy, I need to make sure that what happens here is really clear in my mind (and in my notes!), so that when I go to write books two and three, they are built on the solid foundation of the first book. I've begun writing book two, but I've held off really getting into it until I've done at least one editing pass on Tempest

 

Daybook No. 112

behind the scenes, books, Catholicism, current events, current projects, Daybook, Dominicans, fiction, knitting, links, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a marked contrast from yesterday's blue skies and sun, but since It's going to be in the 60s, I'll take it. Especially since....gulp.....snow might in the future! 

Wearing::

My PJs--I just got up (it's 8 AM as I'm writing this) 

Reading::

North and South, Mockingjay, Rising Strong,  and The Betrothed. I really like North and South--Margaret Hale is a great character. I'm late to the Rising Strong party, but better late than never, and I also have Daring Greatly to read.

In the CD player::

Fun Home and Hamilton. No Christmas music until at least after Thanksgiving!

Living the Liturgy::

Today is Lucy Pevensie's feast day! And since she's my Dominican patron, I get to party all day. 

 

Around the House::

Doing the deep cleaning to get ready for decorating> I don't have much to do--the tree, a few baubles, and my Fontanini creche (one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received, ever). The Baby Jesus doesn't go in the creche until Christmas Eve, and the Magi make their way into the set proper by Epiphany. If you're looking for a Nativity set, I highly recommend this one. The figures are made of a type of plastic that means kids can chew on them, play with them, etc., and they won't break!

Speaking of Catholic households, this is a good article from Our Sunday Visitor that's worth a ponder. 

I'm also in the last stages of Tidying Up. I took three bags of books to Half Price books yesterday, so I'm still looking for the book/CD/DVD "click point" that Kondo talks about. I'm sure I'll find it--eventually. :) Until then, I just keep taking books to HPB. 


Creativity::

I have "won" NaNo--but the book's not done. Oh no. I'm going to write a sequel. (I can't believe it either!) Nothing about this book has gone the way I thought it would, but it's been in a great way. My friend Andrea says the "muse has inhabited me", and while that may or may not be true, it sure is fun. I will officially "win" NaNo on the 20th, when you can start verifying word counts. 

So I have to put an ending on this guy (a cliff-hanger, of course), and then start the new document for book two, maybe do some outlining--and then touch nothing until January. This is what usually happens with my NaNo books--I finish them in November and then don't touch them until January. That gives them, and me, a nice break before I begin revising/editing. 

And I can purl! You'll see the proof tomorrow in the Yarn Along. 

 

Pondering::

In light of the attacks on Paris, this is an excellent read. It's long, but it's well-worth the time it takes. 

There are so many problems in our world that are new, and all colliding at once--fighting a war against an enemy we can't see (as Judi Dench said in Skyfall), the Syrian refugees, elections, earthquakes in Mexico and Japan....

The only solution I can see to it is to pray more intensely. 

 

Plans for the week::

Not much, which is nice. CCD on Sunday, when we'll talk about Jesus' birthday (we talked about Advent last week). And then it's Thanksgiving week, and then we're into December! Holy cow!

 

This Week's Question: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family? 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 101

7 Quick Takes, writing, theater, holidays, behind the scenesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

First an addition to the Daybook from earlier this week. I don't know what happened to the text, but I'd written a bunch about Hamilton that inexplicably disappeared after I hit 'publish'. So, I'm rewriting it here. :) 

 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from  Hamilton . 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from Hamilton

This musical has been getting a lot of positive press, and at first I was skeptical, because: rap? hip-hop? Whaaaa. No. Emily doesn't like that sort of music. But surprisingly, it works really well here, to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton. Most of us know Hamilton because of one of three things: he died in a duel with Aaron Burr; he's on the $10 bill, or he wrote a lot of the Federalist Papers. But he did a lot more than that. He found the New York Post, was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and served with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. 

The musical is sung-through (I think) and covers his life from his arrival in America as a young man, his graduation from Princeton, involvement in the Revolution, marriage to Eliza Schuyler, birth of his son, rise in Washington's administration, and then his political downfall and death. The musical was written and composed by its star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Some of my favorite tracks are "Helpless", "Burn", "My Shot", "The Room Where It Happens", "You'll Be Back" (a hilarious song for King George III, played by Jonathan Groff), and "It's Quiet Uptown". 

Anyway, all this to say--give it a whirl. It's probably going to kill it at the Tonys and there's even talk of a Pulitzer Prize win. 

II.

I won NaNo! Yes, it's only the second week of November, but I'm over 50K, and I think there might be a sequel to this novel, because I don't think I can do the story justice in one setting. How crazy is that? These characters haven't stuck with the plan at all, but I've never written anything so fast, and as long as what the characters want works with the plot, then I'm fine with them dictating things to me. 

Right now I'm imagining them as YA novels. But of course anyone can read them. 

III. 

The Confirmation last weekend went well. I was proud of my cousin, and glad she picked a real saint--some of the kids just picked their middle names or something. (I know this because I asked one kid who her saint was--I'd never heard of this--and she said "it's my middle name." Eyeroll. Now, I'm sure there is a saint with that name, but come on, guys!)

IV. 

My Christmas cards are  done! Yay! I always love doing the Christmas cards. I usually start sending them out the first week in December, because some of my friends are in school and go home for the holidays, and I want them to get it before that happens. And I also love sending real mail to people. 

V.

I also binge watched Starz's Flesh and Bone this week. I wish the ending would've been more concrete, since the series isn't being renewed, but I guess it was probably shot before that decision was made? I love anything that has to do with ballet, so this series, which focuses on a fictional ballet company, was something that's like catnip to me. There were several great plot lines. (And also several tired plot lines--crazy artistic director, back-stabbing catty corps dancers, etc. )

VI. 

I'm moving on in Sketchbook Skool, too. Right now we're doing continuous line drawing ,which is something that I definitely need to work on, because my drawings looks crazy right now. Our assignment is to do one, two, and three objects this way, and then do one three object drawing and watercolor it. I'm a little afraid of that assignment. 

VII.

How are you guys doing on your holiday shopping/preparation? When do you put up your decorations? I Usually start the day of the OSU-Michigan game, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 111

Daybook, current projects, writing, books, fiction, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Gray and rainy, sort of windy. The last few leaves are clinging to the trees and it really feels like fall out there. Not that I mind. I'm ready for it, because I do love my sweaters, tea, books, and blankets. As long as it's not snowing (heaven forbid), I'm fine. 

(It's actually not my window. I'm at Starbucks, writing and getting lots of stuff done with a Peppermint Mocha to hand.) 

Wearing::

jeans, navy blue flats, fake diamond studs, and a sweater from Lands End that's "vicuna" (that's what they call this sort of creamy khaki color) and black stripped. It's super cozy and perfect for today. 

Reading::

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Betrothed for Facebook Catholic Ladies' Book Club; The Fiery Cross (again). I've also got one more Neapolitan novel to read, but I think I'm going to wait to pick that one up. It's the last one, so savoring is appropriate. I'm also re-dedicating myself to finishing City of God sometime in the near future. It's just sitting on my "to read" pile and mocking me. 

Writing::

So, NaNoWriMo is still off and running, and man, I am writing fast, but the book has changed a lot from my initial conception. I've changed the title, I've changed the plot--basically, the characters have told me that they want this story. Forgiveness is a major theme. I'm wondering if this should even be--gasp--a series. Because it might be too long for just one book. I can certainly write them as two. 

Julie (My protagonist) is a fascinating character to write, because she's really not like me, and that's a first. Most of my protagonists, up until now, have had some basis in myself. But not Julie. This is also a YA novel, and I've never purposefully written one of those before. 

I'm really excited about this project, which is funny, because at first I wasn't sure if I was going to Do NaNo at all--but now I've got characters that are really clicking, and a long-winding plot that might go for two books. I should hit the "winning" total- 50K- by the end of this week. 

Creativity In Other Areas::

My friend Sarah is going to help me master the art of knitting and purling in the same project! So we're going to hopefully have a yarn along update for you guys tomorrow! I'm also working on a bunch of new blog post ideas, including the return of the Food Stories posts. 

Quick Movie Review::

spectre-poster-black-white.jpg

I saw Spectre with my brother last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it was as good as Skyfall, but it's really close, in my opinion. I love how the writers drew all of the Daniel Craig Bond plots together into a cohesive web. I don't know if we needed the car chase through Rome, but "reason not the need", as Lear says. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and I love Ralph Fiennes as M (although I miss Judi Dench!). 

The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the next movie will be like. Speculation on the Interwebs is saying that movie will be out in 2017, so I guess I don't have too long to wait. 

(Although, one thing--can we stop with the efforts to dismantle the 00 Program, please? I mean, how many movies do we need before the British Government realizes that it's a very bad idea to do away with Bond and his ilk? Come on, guys!) 

(I also now feel the urge to watch all the Craig Bonds in succession. Maybe I'll do that after I finish writing today.) 

Tidying Up::

I have just about reached the end of the categories! The next step in the book is "finding a place for everything", and that might take some time. I'm going to re-read that section and try to get an idea of a game plan. 

Kondo talks about a "click point"--as in, you'll know when you're reached the optimal number of things you need in a category. I don't think I've hit it yet with my books or DVDs, so I'm going to keep culling. 

Listening To: