N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a horror writer.

I remember when my wife had a death in the family and it was up to us (being the only ones in town) to take care of her effects.

I remember it being creepy sitting in the same room where someone may or may not have died. There was just this really heavy feeling of finality…of endings…of unfinished business there. Not that there were any spirits or anything, just a kind of…how do I put it? There was a feeling of threads undone that did not put me at ease.

Thus, I was on edge and my wife was on edge and we spent a lot of time being quiet…we could have turned on a radio to speed time along or even the TV but we didn’t…we just worked in relative silence unless my wife was talking to her family on the phone.

One plastic ghost is scared by another.

BOO!

I’ve got to tell a funny story on myself though…we were going through the bags and I startled a little.
Wife: What?
Me: I just freaked myself out there for a second.
Her: How so?
Me: I know I’m not going to find a severed head, or a random toe or anything…but I keep expecting it.
Her: Doesn’t pay to be a horror writer at times like this, does it?
Me: She wasn’t a mad dog killer was she? No serial murderer tendancies?
Her: *laughing* Um, no. Did you see the number of gifts she had stashed away for people? She didn’t have time to kill people.
Me: Good to know.

Then later…oh, this one is priceless.
Wife: Hey, Renee…what’s this? *holding up a luggage tag*
Me: It looks like a luggage tag.
Her: Funny place for a luggage tag.
Me: Where did you find it?
Her: Here by the door.
Me: Bring it here, let me look at it. From here it just looks like trash.
Her: Ok. *brings me the luggage tag, hands it to me. I take it and read the big black words on it*
Me: EEP! ICK! *I randomly throw it into the air and it goes toward my wife, who screams like a little girl and jumps away from it. It falls to the floor.*
Her: What? What?!
Me: It says, “Attach to toe.”
We both look at the toe tags lying on the floor.
Her: Nice of them to leave us the extras.
Me: Yeah, just in case.

Back from the…ouch.

Where have I been? What have I been doing?

I wish I could say I’ve been consumed with NANOWRIMO, but I can’t.

The short version is this…I’ve got eye strain. Oh yes, me of the HUGE screen has developed eye strain so bad I want to pluck them out and roll them around in salt for some relief. My head has been hurting so badly that I spend half my time rubbing my eyes and neck and the other half moaning about how bad I hurt instead of writing…

Thus I’m taking as much time off from the computer as possible…I’m still doing the NANOthing, I’m at 34,000+ words (haven’t added them all up lately-but I know I’m down at least 4thousand from the 2 days I was in bed with a sheet over my head wishing for death) I’m just doing those words in a journal and then transcribing them.  Mostly I’m doing the transcribing into the computer  with my eyes closed, which is sort of funny and gives me some great typos.

This wouldn’t be so bad but I’ve got to use the computer all day for work, so there is no real relief available unless I take the time off from the screen at home, and that’s what I’ve got to do. (It also helps that I’ve got an archives project here at work that allows me to get away from the screen when it gets bad during the day…but does not solve the problem.)

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what was going on with my blog…and my life. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I hate pain.

Find your peace and live it, even if it’s with your eyes closed.

-Renee

What day is it? Hell?

Two days to half way and I’m feeling the strain. I’m about 100 words off my game which is nothing to cry about, but it would be nice if I had some sort of a buffer to catch me when I’m feeling dragged out. Did I mention I’ve been feeling dragged out all week?

Monday started like this: woke up to the dog panting to be let out, rubbed eyes, took a step toward the bathroom (bursting bladder comes before desperate dog some days)…stepped in dog poop, screamed, hopped to living room with dog trying to knock me over, hopped into dog pee, screamed again, let dog out. THEN after getting my feet cleaned off, taking a shower, feeding the cats, getting breakfast, changing clothing, and transferring what I had worked on the night before to my flash drive I realized…wait, I let the old dog back in, where is she?

Oh yes, that’s right she’s in the cat room eating two cups of cat food so she can be sick all day and poop everywhere. Somedays…no, some weeks are not worth waking up for.

Since that very telling morning I’ve been fighting a bad mood, a headache that could kill small children and the elderly (likely brought on by…), neck/eye strain, and this overpowering desire to just sleep! But no, I’ve got 2000 words a day looming over me like the tsunami that ate my brain, and if I let it get too far ahead of me I’ll never catch up.

Enough griping, let me tell you a sad story…I was in the pool, I’d pushed myself to do 18 laps (I started with just 12 so this is really a good thing) after working on my legs with the weight machines. I was breathing hard and felt wrung out, and while finishing the last half of my last lap a guy (thin, surprisingly not in a speedo, goggles, very little hair) stands at the end of my lap. When I arrive he very sweetly asks me if he can share my lane (I heart this guy already, he’s not making me look at his package and he’s being polite!!!). I tell him he can have it, and as I strip off all my swimming equipment, and lately I’ve got a lot, we have the following conversation…

“I can share, I don’t mind.”
“Nah, I’ve done my 22 for the night. I’m finished.” (twinge of guilt for lying, but the man is so damn thin!!!! Be sure to pull a face of exhaustion, because 22 yeah that’ll exhaust anyone! You’re a badass Renee!)
“I hear it takes 88 to make a mile.”
“Really, I heard it was in the 60’s…oh well, I just don’t have it in me to do anymore tonight.”
“I know how you feel, some days I get in the pool and I’m feeling good I’ve eaten right I’ve gotten enough sleep and I hit about 45 and think…I just can’t do another lap.”
(starts to think perhaps I should have said 35…40…perhaps 100 wouldn’t be too much of a stretch…yeah, I do 100 laps a day, what of it? You think a fat girl can’t find time for 100 laps? Sizeist. *spits*) “Some days it just doesn’t work out. I’m feeling good that I’ve gotten up to 18, I started at 12.” (desperate vie for validation)
“Good for you! You know daily improvement is the goal.”
“Yeah. Daily improvement.” (smile brightly, too brightly, begin to look manic…time to giggle like a freak) *giggle* “Well, have a great workout. Goodnight.”
RUN! RUN FAR AWAY! DON’T EVEN STOP AT THE HOT TUB, JUST RUN FAT GIRL RUN!!!!!

The end.

Find your peace and live it, even if it is only 18 laps long!  You’re a badass!

-Renee

Day 2 and Off to an Undead Start

I had a great weekend in a little town called Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Cute, but with a patina of sadness.  Back in 1889 a flood wiped out the town…a flood caused by a burst dam which was the responsibility of a rich “Hunting and Fishing Club” 14 miles up the mountain (For more info: http://www.jaha.org/FloodMuseum) .  They have rebuilt, but it’s just sort of sad.  A lot of the really cool things there are direct results of the flood…like the Inclined Plane (www.inclinedplane.com).  Instead of this being bad though, it really gave me the bug to write my Zombie novel.  I could just see the hardship in the eyes of all the pictures and even in the people that still live there today.

By the end of my stay, I wanted to capture it forever in my novel…Not just the people, but the whole feel of the town is perfect for my novel.  The proud rebuilt city, coming into its own among the ruins…forever fearful, forever minful, but not very watchful at all.  Thus I wrote over 2,000 words today.  All good words that smell like Pennsylvania Pine and have a cover of icy morning frost. 

This puts me on schedule…although you wouldn’t know that thanks to the NANO site.

UGH!  Here’s some hate for the NANO site. (hate, hate, hate)  I can’t get in, I can’t update anything, I can’t even get it to move.  It’s like a snail…no, worse than a snail, and that is so frustrating because in less than an hour I will be 2000 words behind!  NANO, why must you MOCK me!?

Find your peace and live it, even if you are thwarted!

Renee

Would you believe “Photo Wednesday”?

I wish I could claim illness for not keeping up…but it’s more likely that I’ve just been busy doing other things.  Hawaii part 2 is coming up next week.  For those of you interested, Day and I won a trip to Hawaii and gave it to my parents.  They didn’t want to go without us, so they offered to pay our way…and you just don’t say no to a “free” trip to Hawaii.  So now my parents and I are going to Hawaii, and well, being the kind sister that I am I invited my siblings as well.  My sister and her hubby are the only ones available to go, but actually that works out as I believe having an island full of my family might be a bit too much.

Since I’m the only one who has been there before it is up to me to plan the trip and get ducks and put them in rows.  We have Pearl Harbor planned, the Polynesian Cultural Center, a day on the North Shore, the Bishop Museum, the Iolani Palace, and volcanoes.  I’m hoping to make everyone happy at least one day (My day?  The North Shore of course!).  I’m also responsible for the hotel and car rental…and get this the limo and lei greeting for mom and dad.  That last bit was my idea.  This is Mom’s dream vacation, I want it to be everything she’s ever wanted it to be.

Ok, enough gushing about Hawaii.  I’ve been struggling with Photo Sunday lately. (as if you didn’t notice)  It’s this hard line between art and memory I keep treading…I look at other photographers and wish I could figure out if I am a point and shooter with a high powered camera or just an undeveloped eye trying to make her way in the world of Halloween costumes and Sunday best.  It continues to be my bane that I cannot bring what I see to life…that I forget the basics of taking photos…that I am lazy and just want art to be easy.  Ok, enough.  Here goes nothing:

Photo Sunday #29:

Picking peaches at Homestead Farm was a real highlight this year.  I went out more than once, not only for the faboo fruit but also for a chance to take some pictures.  Below is a nectarine just itching to be plucked!  Of course I did the minute after this photo was snapped and it later graced my lunch bag. 

Blackberries have such great color at all stages of their growth cycle.  I was lucky enough to find this clump of ripening (and a few ripe!) berries waiting for their closeup.  Yes, I picked the ripe ones once I was done.  They ended up in a pie.

Photo Sunday #30:

My morning glories are blooming as well as my moonflower.  I really didn’t think this picture was going to work.  I had put my camera on the ground to fold back the top of the flower in order to get a face on shot and when I went to pick it up I decided to snap a picture.  I actually kinda like it…

I find abandonded/unused playground equipment kind creepy.  The only thing this old b-ball hoop needed was a frayed net to really make the whole feel complete.  I tried this exact same photo without the flash, but it made the colors too warm.  Overexposing, aka using the flash on, this photo really made the creepy vibe come to the fore.  I was pleased, but again lamented the lack of fraying.

Photo Sunday #31:

I wanted to revisit some dog photos, especially with Kitty so frail lately.  This is outside a friends house.  She rarely wags her tail anymore, I don’t know if it hurts or if she is just old and grumpy…but here she is wagging away.  My heart is going to break when she goes…just shatter into a million grains of sand.  I love that dog.

In my sniffling over the old dog, I decided to try to get a shot of the young idiot.  She wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to really get anything out of her until she thought she heard Day at the door when we were outside.  She froze and I had just enough time to turn the camera on her.  Day says that little girl does not love her, but I’ve got photographic proof right here.  That dog was ready to bolt for her owner and leave me in the middle of a sniff filled forest, if that isn’t love I don’t know what is.

 

Photo Sunday #32:

Tropical Storm Hannah blew through the area as Day and I were recovering from this heinous cold we’ve both got.  It gave us a GREAT excuse to stay in bed and take Nyquil and not lament the loss of a day.  When we finally felt well enough to go out, we were rewarded with a great shot of the last of the storm front passing through.  It was moving pretty quickly, but I got at least one shot off before I lost it over the buildings completely.

Ok, that should catch you up…so no whining.  Just kidding, whine all you want it proves that people actually keep up with this.  See ya later this week.

Re-Launch Party for Unleaded!

I really need to master this whole USB thing.
I’ve got a report on Balticon, but it is currently stuck in the computer at work. Yes, I know I have a USB for a reason, and yes I really do know how to use it. Still, sometimes multiple media doing multiple things in multiple places gets the better of me until here I sit with my USB but without the two page report on Balticon. It is done, I rave about it, it should be worth reading. Unfortunately tuning in next week is mandatory to hear that particular report, thanks to my continuing battle with technology.
In the meantime, let me tell you a little about the Re-launch party for Unleaded!
Day and I have decided, as I mentioned before, to invest in Unleaded again (for those just tuning in Unleaded is our writing podcast full of inspiration and perspiration), to start up the recording again and put the site back into action. Thus to help us get the energy up to start again and to mine our friends for guest hosts we hosted a Re-Launch Unleaded Writing Party.
We invited everyone from our writing group to come join us on a Saturday…when it was too hot to even think about going outside…for a little food, a little writing, a little podcasting, and a whole lot of fun.
We had prizes for the person who was the most productive (- A bag of books.), the person who contributed the most episodes to Unleaded (- A bag of books with a Malice Domestic bag), and the person who made our life the easiest (winner: Kate who babysits the old dog when we want to escape – BadA** Fairies 2 “Just Plain Bad”).
We plot noodled and wrote and talked when we should have been writing…we shared and called out strange questions like, “I need a coffee drink name!” and “Vampires have to use breath to speak, yeah?” We ate salmon dip and chips and salsa and abused Jen2’s bf (who is a saint and we love him!). It was a great CVS experience!
Ok, until next week when I put up the grand Balticon report…

Find your peace and live it, especially if it has writing involved!!!!!
-Renee

Now that it is done. It is done.

I don’t normally post about personal things on this site, but this week was so overwhelming I wanted to share and take a moment to explain my absence.

First, I was sick earlier this week.  This meant I took a couple of days off work and watched the lovely weather from my couch.  I had to get my car inspected…so I went to my favorite mechanic and curled up in his waiting area and dozed while I watched CNN.

Yes, lent is over…and I promise to blog about that experiment later.

Wednesday, while preparing to go out with friends for dinner, Day’s uncle called. It seems her aunt (the one that lived here in town) had died suddenly. He asked us if we could pick up her effects and clear out the hotel room she’d been staying in recently. We said we would, of course.

We got to the hotel, found her purse and phone but the charger or her address book. We searched through her things till 1:15am when finally they appeared!  We packed up the car and called it a night.  It took us 45 minutes to drive home and by the time we fed the dogs and all that goodness it was 2:30 in the morning.

I got up at 7:30am on Thursday, came into work and began my day. I was calling family members right and left to figure out what was going on with regards to the funeral and where to send clothing when one of the librarians came in to ask me a question.

Him: “What airline are you taking to Hawaii?  Is it ATA?”

Me: “Yes. Why?” (suspicious)

Him: “Oh no. They filed for bankruptcy this morning, and have suspended all flights effective immediately.”

Me: *grabbed the phone and began to dial frantically*

I finally got hold of Day, who got hold of her travel office. As of this posting, they are still working on getting airfare for us…so cross your fingers that we can still go.

Then when I got off work Day and I headed back down to finish the job we started in the hotel the night before. We honestly didn’t think we had that much left to do, but at 12:45 we were still going through her things. It was 1:00am by the time we packed up the car and left.  We got home at 1:45ish…and I couldn’t sleep. Why?

Odyssey. Did I mention that I am applying for Odyssey? You know, the 6-week intensive writing program here on the east coast?  Yeah, that one.  So, I was up going over my submission last night, worried they will say no…worried they will say yes.  Just worried.  It’s what I do.  So at 2:27 I forced myself to put down the computer and try to close my eyes.  Let me just say that 7:00am, comes early.  Especially if I was supposed to be up at 6:30am.

I have a few half finished blog posts for all of you…all 2 of you. 🙂 I’ll work on them in my spare time this weekend (after I have slept a good long while) and give you a veritable flood of writing reflections, as well as last weeks and this weeks Photo Sunday.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Find your peace, and live it.  Even if it has less sleep than you’d like.

-Renee

I guess a writer really does write…

My mind began buzzing this weekend after reading a rant about LiveJournal and the serious author. It was an interesting rant, one I can’t agree with, but one that I feel I can understand even if from a totally detatched, “I’m not like that, how could anyone be that involved” point of view. You can find the rant on Robin Hobb’s website, it’s called Vampires of the Internet.

Now, you would think my mind would be all involved in defending my journaling/blogging/facebooking/myspacing as I do have accounts and try to keep up with ALL of them, but on the contrary her rant got me to thinking about the writing I do regularly…and there was a lot of it.

I usually post in LiveJournal once or twice a week. These are things that my friends (people I know face to face and spend time with) would find interesting/amusing but that I would never post to the general public audience. Things here are too personal or silly to be worth the pagespace elsewhere. Things like memes, or funny stories, or rants, or quizzes go on my LJ…it is the place where I play rather than work. I sometimes leave comments for friends, and I try to answer comments on my journal if they need it…but I don’t spend that much time ping-ponging like that, I’d rather get on the phone or have a little IM session for that. LJ is the fluff of my writing.

Facebook/Myspace are both new toys for me. They are nice ways to connect, or re-connect with people but I’m still mastering the sharing of information there. Anyone who knows me will affirm that I am a long winded sort, and both of these sites are more soundbite than short story. It is a medium that forces me to distill what is important (even if it is silly) and just give that bit of info. I find it a nice exercise…challenging at times…but worth the time I spend on it. Facebook/Myspace is my soundbite writing.

This blog is the most important non-creative writing I do in a week…which is funny because I think of it as my creative blog. This is a place where I can focus on what I am creating and tell you all about it. It is a log book of sorts…a call to order…a journal where I am held responsible for what I am working on and what I am accomplishing. It is like having another writing group to report to, only this one is much larger (I hope) and less forgiving. I have tried to make Famine’s Table a priority (when computers are not eating my brain) and post here at least twice a week, because if I don’t it will languish. This is not my fun off the top of my head what did I do this week ha ha that’s funny check out this meme or quiz or you tube video or picture sort of place. This is the report on my second job, the weekly reckoning on my performance and some days it isn’t easy but it is always wroth doing. Famine’s Table is the performance appraisal of my writing.

Believe it or not though, that isn’t the only non-creative writing I do. I have you-tube, flickr, and library thing accounts to keep up with. I have work and personal email, work and personal IM, work writing (which some days makes me LONG for the pain of writers block on a story), notes to my partner, notes to my co-workers, cards to people celebrating things…the list could go on.

All of this together would be enough for one person, but for me it’s not, because the diamond for me…the penultimate writing…is my creative writing. I do these other things so at night I can pull out Pearl (yup, I’m still writing on Pearl) and indulge my inner demon. I do all these other things so I can delve into my imagination and run around in a world were I make thing happen or not. I do all this in order to be goddess in my own universe. It is the thing I love, the pursuit I adore (and hate too, but that is another blog post), and the thing I itch to do during the course of a day. My creative writing is what will always come first, without question or effort on my part…I can let all these other things go in order to make time for my creative writing and I’d do it in a minute if other things in life (like relationships with family and friends) impinged on my writing time.

Day and I were talking the other day and she asked me, “If someone told you that after today you’d never be able to write again…what would you say?”

I looked her dead in the eye and with an anger that surprised me said, “F**k you.”

I think that about sums it up.

Peace, love, and writing,
Renee

No television, are you MAD?

My house is giving up television for Lent…yup, even the dogs and cats (who ADORE Animal Planet) are giving up television for 40 days.

Day actually came up with the idea, she felt TV was distracting her too much from things she needed to accomplish. I agree with her. Television can be a time and energy drain, and it takes very little of it to drain quite a lot. I liken TV to a bowl of my favorite candy. I eat one and the taste is great, so intense and lovely and I remember why it is my favorite. When I am done with that piece, I realize it has gone too soon and I need another, so I eat a second one. This one is almost as good as the first, but the newness of the experience has already paled. Still, it is so good that I pick up a third one, this one is specifically so I can slow down and enjoy the flavor. Do I? Not really. The flavor is expected this time, it is good, but it is not that burst of flavor the first one had. Next thing you know the bowl of candy…or your entire evening is gone and the only thing you have to show for it is, well, nothing. You’ve just spent an entire evening living vicariously though someone else, instead of actually living.

Don’t let me lie to you, I’m just as bad as the next guy. To be totally honest, when Day started discussing this I had such a violent “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” reaction to her proclamation that I shocked myself. I had to take a step or two back and think about my reaction, and examine its root. What had become so important about television that I HAD to have it for the next 40 days? What on television was so necessary to life that I couldn’t give it up for the sake of someone I loved very much, and for my own sake? I’m not sure when it happened, but I guess I’ve hung a little bit of my comfort and a lot of my entertainment space on this little square box…I’m not proud of it, especially since Day and I had weaned ourselves away from it successfully when I first moved up here (honestly, there was just too much to do to watch TV, and my commute to EVERYTHING was so long I needed that extra time to get there), but it happened. Now it is up to me to make it un-happen. The first step is to turn off the TV for the next 40 days. No, I won’t be recording it to watch later…I’m giving it up. I’m not saving it for later, I’m forgoing it for my betterment. I won’t be watching on Sundays either, because honestly it is too tempting. I could easily see myself ‘living for Sunday’ where I can lose myself in the television and I don’t want that to happen. I’ve still got the computer…blogging…games…knitting/crocheting…scrapbooking…a metro system that leads to our nation’s capital…I think I’m good. I hope I’m good. I’ve also set a “mini-goal” for myself during this time. I want most of my entertainment to come from books for the next 40 days. I want to read until I am sick of reading, and as I am doing that I want to teach myself that it is ok to not finish a book if I do not enjoy it. Oh, and I want to read one book on how to improve my writing. 

So…Day 1 without television:

I’m hoping to finish up “Perfume: A story of a murderer” today. It is a German novel…and very German in its German-ness. There is always a strange undercurrent of decay and torment, under the obvious decay and torment. I am not enjoying it, although parts of it are enthralling…but I need to know how this ends. It’s one of those, “where is this going?” books that demands to be finished. Tonight is Panera…and writing. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Killing Time (and Space)

Hello and welcome to the blog of N. R. Brown. I am not she, but I AM testing out her website to make sure it is up and working. Whew! This has been a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Hopefully, this blog will soon be filled with many different posts and photos and audio files. If not, it shall remain a lonely and empty, yet still good looking blog.