goals, Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Writing

Finished! And Starting a New Novel.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Great news: I finished the draft of the *&*%) Novel, and have sent it off to my beta readers/crit group. In five weeks, I’ll hear from them what they think. (Commence nail biting…)

In the meanwhile, I’m far from resting on my laurels. No indeed. While I’m now working on my agent submission schedule, and things like synopses and query letters (omg how awful these are!), I’m also doing something entirely more fun–starting on a new novel!

This one is going to be contemporary fantasy (instead of secondary world, like the first). And set in a really cool place, too (sorry, mum’s the word for now. I don’t like sharing too much until I’m much more firmly in place with my writing, and planning.) I’ve just now finished the full plot outline, and man is this one going to be fun to write! I love the characters so much, and even the bad guys are interesting. At one point, I texted a writer-friend and whined, “How do I let the protagonists win when I’ve so fully stacked the deck against them?!? Ahhhhhh, I don’t know!”

But now, with some helpful prodding by said friend, I’ve figured it out. As always, some bits were serendipitous, little things that just fell into place because of what I’d determined before, but seemed so well planned. (Thank you, subconscious brain!) Other bits, like the ending, were so harrrrd to wrestle into place.

It’s not entirely done. I still have plenty of brackets in the outline, like this:

“They then do [some cool things], but things don’t go entirely as planned [how? What fails?].”

So I’m not ready to start drafting just yet. But I’m getting close! And it’s just such a palate-cleanser from the last novel. Something new and juicy and not yet slogged through four times in a row. With luck, this means that when I get feedback on Novel the First, I’ll be able to look at it with refreshed eyes, and in a mood to rip right on into the work and send it out! (Heh, cross your fingers on that, okay?)

In other news, I have moved so much mulch! It has to be done before 10 am, when the temps and humidity and sunlight combine to make life utterly miserable for the rest of summer. Yesterday, for example, hit a high of 101F, and the humidity made it seem like my lungs were working double and my muscles were wilting on the afternoon (VERY short) dog walk. But the gardens are looking great!

Not so great is the front yard, where a mole has taken up residence and keeps lifting up tunnels that I, daily, sometimes 2 or 3 times daily, smash back down. We play frisbee with Dasher there, and if he steps on one and falls through, he could easily break a leg. Even if he doesn’t, jolting his limbs like that really hurts, since his arthritis is so bad. But he is not about to give up his 15 minutes of frisbee–not for heat, not for moles, not for anything. So here I go, smashing down mole tunnels.

That’s it for now. The afternoon storm has arrived in force. Lightning cracks and whitens the outside as rain sheets against the window, and the lawn outside. Time for a cup of tea, and a good book…

publication, the dog

Announcing a New Sale!

It’s not exactly “new” news anymore, but now that the Kickstarter has funded (and Dasher’s health has taken a break from crises), I can share–without fear of jinxing–that a story of mine will appear in the debut issue of ScienceFictionry Magazine!

This is a double-whammy of a delight. I mean, any sale is a delight, of course! But a sale to a debut issue is an extra Bingo Square in the game of writing goals, you know? At least, it is for me. This is the first time it’s happening for one of my stories, and I’m thrilled.

Oddly, it’s also “weird-ening” too, in that the site makes it look like I’m somehow a “big deal.” I sure don’t feel like a big deal (actually, I know I’m just a tiny, bitty deal), and I greatly doubt that anyone would mistake me for one. But their presentation of the writers in this debut is very lovely, and makes us all look like the professionals we’re hoping to be. [Or maybe that’s just me, and the rest are all old pros at this already? (Well, looky-look, if it isn’t my old companion, Impostor Syndrome, come for another lengthy visit…)]

The magazine’s first issue should be available to the public in August, and naturally I’ll give you a head’s-up that it’s out. I can’t wait to read the issue and see what wonders my fellow TOC-mates have written! I hope you’ll give it a read, too. Magazines without readers don’t last, after all.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Dasher napping inside, safe from the rain and thundershowers passing by:

Snuggly boi

awards, conventions, Nebula Awards

Nebula Awards Recap

The Nebula Awards Conference weekend was a blast! I got to meet new people, put faces and voices (!) to names and still pictures, and hang out with some familiar friends–and watch as John Wiswell, one of my Viable Paradise classmates, won the award for Best Short Story with his story (published at Diabolical Plots), “Open House on Haunted Hill.” Go ahead and read it. I’ll still be here, and you won’t regret it. So first of all, a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to John!

I also volunteered a bit, and got to help people enter the Hopkinson Suite, many for the first time. I really enjoyed my volunteering time, and was very fortunate that no laser bats found the Airship during my watches! Things went a lot smoother this year, since the people behind the scenes had last year’s ongoing re-boots as a “don’t do this” training exercise. And many of the good things remained–the Airship role-play embraced through Slack, Cuddles the dragon at the ceremony, and the continuation of increasing BIPOC faces both in attendance, on panels, and receiving awards.

In my house, things went a bit sideways when (because the conference was run on Pacific Time in honor of its supposing to be held in person in LA) I just set my office clock to PT and referred to all times in PT to my husband so as not to mess up and miss my volunteer time slots. But my husband kept referring to ET, where we live–and lunch came at some truly strange times, let me tell you.

And how about that photo? That’s what happens when the universe leaks in through your Airship porthole!

I know this is a wayyyyyyy too short a summary of three days, but I’m still tired, still trying to get back to “regular life” in the wake of the conference chaos, and honestly, unless you were there, you won’t want to relive it with me. Just know it was fun and I hope I see you there next year.

Speaking of which…it’s still not too late to join the 2021 Nebula Conference! All the panels were recorded, and can be viewed from now through March 2022 when you have a membership. In addition, there will be ongoing Co-Writing Dates throughout the year, where you attend through Zoom, write for a period of time, then break to chat or get advice, then write some more. More words through peer pressure–but only with a membership. And you don’t have to be a SFWA member for any of this. If you just want to watch the awards ceremony, you can do that, too, right here.

conventions, Writing

Will I See You at the Nebula Awards Conference?

I’m really excited to be attending the virtual Nebula Awards Conference again this year. Last year was so much fun! This year I’ll be volunteering, so you might see me working as a Door Dragon, letting people into the Zoom suite, as well as wandering around the various “rooms” in my off hours. And of course, in the various panels and panel chats! Can’t wait to watch the newest Grand Master, Nalo Hopkinson, in conversation with Tobias S. Buckell on all topics writing.

I just updated my Zoom app to the latest version, but I’ll check once more just before the conference begins–basically, if you don’t have the latest version, you might need to back out of the reception area, update the app, then re-enter, in order to have a fully functioning experience and move about on your own. So don’t forget this, okay? But the Door Dragons will remind you to update if you can’t see certain things; it’s our job 🙂

I’m super excited by this year’s nominees, especially for “Open House on Haunted Hill”, by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20), since John attended Viable Paradise with me. And over in the novelette category, there’s “Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super”, by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 5-6/20)–and she’s just a super wonderful person who happens to be in a small Slack group with me, and John, and a host of other super cool people! I’m so excited for each and every success of those in this tight-knit little group, and hope for many, many more in the future.

That’s it for now, peoples of the internets. Keep reading, keep writing, keep enjoying life!

orchids, the dog, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 05/19/21

Out the window: Strong breezes clatter through the palm and bird of paradise leaves right outside, and rattle the hummingbird feeder’s metal covering against the stake. It rings like an irregular chime, and my new office door (!!!) clunks and shimmies in its pocket. Clouds are thickening in the sky, but it isn’t supposed to rain: we’ll see if Mother Nature read the forecast or not soon enough, I guess.

On the desktop: A cup of Stash Earl Gray tea in a blue, white, and gold dragon cup, giving me that mid-afternoon caffeinated pick-up. A slew of notes, both old and new, as I go through this draft, editing and reminding myself of details for later. My volunteer times for the Nebula Awards Conference

Wait, you know about those, right? And you are going, right? Here’s the info on the conference, which is held online again this year, as it was last year. It was a total BLAST! The dates are June 4-6, and by registering, you get access to the recorded panels and presentations ALL YEAR LONG. In addition, there are other fun things scheduled throughout the year, like co-writing dates with some of your favorite authors. Honestly, you should check it out.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  The F$&#*^& Novel edits, of course.

Er-hrmmm, I mean, yes, novel edits. They’re going well, actually. After I finished the draft, I took 2 weeks off to distance myself, then started at the front again–and was shocked to see how much my protagonist had changed over the course of the novel! This is good! Eight chapters in, and I’ve fallen in love with the work once again. YAY!

And now, since I’ve finished working on edits for the day, I’m diving into pre-planning for the next novel. Nothing like steaming ahead at full speed, right? Another fantasy, but very, very different. Modern-day instead of secondary-world. With magic, instead of without. It’s giving me some headaches trying to work out the details here and there, but overall? This one is sliding into place nicely. 🙂

And I’m working this part by hand, using fountain pens and notebooks and pretty inks, too. As if writing isn’t reward enough, this is like icing on a delectable cake!

And Another Thing: The dog has been very unwell. It’s eaten my time and my sleep, but he’s recovering nicely now, it seems. I’m so relieved, but I’m still jumping at his every “odd” behavior, and he’s still being more clingy than normal–totally expected after the way he must’ve been feeling. We’re still not sure exactly what caused this, but I’m just happy he’s getting better instead of worse. No looking this gift horse in the mouth!

And One More Thing: One of my orchids just bloomed for the very first time, and I’m so very excited! I bought it smaller than blooming sized from a big box hardware store, just hoping that the picture on the cardboard was something like it would eventually look. I’m happy to say that the real bloom is even better than I’d hoped! Take a look:

Cattleya bowringiana “Coerulea”
food, Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, publication, the dog, Writing

Hello again, hello!

It’s been a year, hasn’t it?

I’ll just leave it at that. We all know what we’ve been through, and I don’t feel like re-hashing every nasty blow and tanking all our fragile moods by doing so. So, let’s move on the next thing, shall we?

It’s a gray and rainy day here, and a bit cool (for us) with off-and-on showers coming throughout the day, and tomorrow, too. Rather a relief, honestly, as we’d been heading into drought-like conditions. But now my veggies and fruits are breathing a sigh of relief (as is my water bill-avoidant self!), and the grass is growing lush and green. The dog is a bit miffed that his sunbeams aren’t available on the lanai for his snoozing enjoyment, but I think he’ll survive, the poor dear, with an extra treat and an extra snuggle on the sofa.

Right now, I’m taking advantage of the cool to make a big batch of chicken stock, which I’ll can later. I can’t believe we were out, but the pantry was bare of chicken stock. Not for long! Afterwards, I’m hoping to make a bunch of Jasmine madeleines, a recipe I’ve been longing to make for a couple years, since I found the recipe in a Thai cookbook, in the “Thai Influences” section. I had to order jasmine extract from online, and it just got here a few days ago, so I’m eager to try them out. (I’ve been making that recipe using coconut extract instead, and it was very, very good.)

I’ve been making baby quilts, and finished one, which has arrived to it’s new tiny owner. The next one is nearly done–only the binding needs to be appliquéd onto the backing, and a label attached. The third, fortunately, isn’t due until July. And it hasn’t been started yet. I’ve gathered images for the pattern, at least!

Oh, writing? Well, yes. Of course. I’ve been struggling, along with so very many others, when it comes to motivation in isolation. But I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel–HURRAY! Then I can set the whole thing aside for a few weeks and work on something else while I let the draft sit and think about what it’s done! Or, more seriously, while I consider how much further editing it needs and if I need to continue with it or trunk it. Right now, I’m in no proper headspace to decide that.

I’ve started the process of working out my next project, and I’m pretty happy with the work on it, so far. Working on this is my treat for finishing my daily output on the first novel, so I don’t get carried away and forget the “work” for the “shiny.” (Always a fear, for me).

And to end this catch-up post on a high note, I’ve sold a short story! The next issue of Speculative North will include a story of mine that I love so very much. I can’t tell you how glad I am that it’ll be out in the world at last! I’ll give you more news nearer to the release date, of course. Good news is meant to be shared!

To close, I’ll leave you with a picture of Dasher napping inside, for a change:

Making do with a carpet inside, without a sunbeam. Die arme Hündlein!

Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 01/12/21

Out the window: The sky is a haze of white-gray, with a soft breeze rustling through the palms and oaks, causing more oak leaves to fall onto our newly-raked lawn (:sad:), and promising rain (which may or may not come to us, honestly), which would make my orchids (and me) very, very happy.

On the desktop: TableTop Audio running a playlist: currently up is a new, jaunty Pirates! theme, which is working to get me energized. Notes, notes, notes. And a new fountain pen from Spousal Unit, a Christmas gift that of course I love to pieces!

Fountain pen, Conklin Endura Abalone
Conklin Endura Abalone fountain pen–so lovely!

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  It’s January, which means one thing: Weekend Warrior! This is an amazing contest over at the Codex Writers’ Group. 100+ SFF writers join up for 5 weeks to each write a flash story in 72 hours and upload it anonymously. Then we each download our division’s (with this many participants, we need divisions) stories and give feedback. I’m currently halfway through my division’s reading. 

In addition, I’m still working on the Unfinished Novel from the Depths of Hades, Which Will Not Be Finished in My Lifetime. ™  Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. It’s just a very complicated love about now, you know?

I’ve also just finished a new submission on a short story that just came back (i.e., was rejected) from its very first market–a rite of passage for stories. I’m well-acquainted with the drill: pat them on the back consolingly and shove them right back out the door to the next market. Languishing on the hard drive sofa gets them nowhere! Tough love, baby.

And Another Thing: I’m in the midst of making baby quilts for “upcoming” great-nieces/great-newphews. It’s a great distraction from the hellscape the world’s news has become, and it centers me in the here-and-now. These children are all being welcomed into good and loving families, and I hope each will encounter a world filled with bright potential and hope and joy. (Why yes, I do write fantasy and SF, why-do-you-ask!)

I try to imbue each stitch I make with acceptance and love and comfort in the hopes that the child will somehow feel those things when they see their quilt. It’s a small thing, but it’s a thing I can do. And it makes me feel good, too.

I hope you can find a similar thing: something you can do that makes the world better, and makes you feel better, too. We all need some “feeling better about the world” right now.

 

goals, Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life

Starting 2021, A New Year

You haven’t heard from me much last year–last month, especially. I really don’t want to recount that time and those troubles. Let’s just say that 2020 went out kicking and screaming and causing as much havoc in my life as it possibly could, as long as it could. But now that is over and done.

New Year’s Eve fire

I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to “start anew” and have another chance at success this year. Coronavirus isn’t gone, and we’re not racing around “like normal” (whatever that even means anymore); it isn’t magically “over” just because the calendar year cycled through to another page. (Unfortunately.) But it is a time to look ahead to coming possibilities.

The COVID-19 vaccine is out in the world, and that will surely change things. The US will have (new) leadership soon, and the world is beginning to emerge from horrible year that was 2020 and shake off the dust and excrement clinging so tenaciously to us. Maybe I can see family in person, and friends. Maybe we’ll be able to travel, not for necessity to the store, but for joy to see new things. What magic that will be!

My writing was put completely on hold for the last 6 weeks of 2020. I’d intended on finishing the novel draft in that time, which clearly didn’t happen. But now that I’ve clawed my way back to equanimity, I’m prepared to finish this draft at long, long last. I’m prepared to write more short fiction, and send it out into the world. I’m looking at editing up a series of short novels I’d back-burnered for lack of clarity on their ending; I think I’ve figured it out, and hope to test my theory by writing it.

I’ve also got a number of baby quilts to make; COVID did one good thing: provide my family with plenty of time to procreate! The family expands, and those babies need quilts. I’m on it already, and with great joy.

In short, it’s going to be a busy year. I’ve got lots of goals made, and am excited to get going. Get creating. Breathing new, fresh life into myself, my world, my creativity.

Welcome to a new year. I hope you’re prepared–I think it’s going to be amazing.