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.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life

Beach Day

Spousal Unit has remembered that we won’t be traveling for the holidays this year, and therefore he won’t need to save his vacation for that travel we won’t be making. So instead, he’s taking a day off mid-week every other week, allowing us to drive out of town and visit the natural world safely, while most others are at work or school. We’ve twice gone to Canaveral National Seashore, a National Park that is a long beach just north of the rocket launch pads (while driving from the gate to the parking area, you get great views of them).

In addition to being mid-week, both days were flirting with clouds and rain, and the second time Tropical Storm Eta was nearing landfall across the peninsula, (and it’s off-season here in Florida, too), so we were very much “isolated and socially distanced” on the pay-to-enter beach. The sound of the waves (some pretty nice ones the second time) crashing into the shore, seabirds crying, the wind blowing your words away, the scent of brine, and the crush of sand underfoot–it was rejuvenating and glorious. I managed to see an osprey dive into a wave top, and emerge from the other side carrying a wriggling small fish away. And lots of ghost crabs scuttling out of sight just as I saw them.

You had to know they were coming. Here are some pics. You have to imagine the other senses while you look, though; sorry.

Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 10/21/20

Out the window: Thick gray clouds that sometimes open to spatter rain. Warm and humid, but not disgusting, so I’ll take it!

On the desktop: a thick stack of revision notes, going through the entire novel scene by scene. I’m over a quarter of the way through them, though, so that’s worth something. Also, an empty cup which once held Adagio’s Apricot Green tea. mmmmmm it was good.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Another scene of the novel, then another. And a third. Do you see the pattern here? Yup, it’s gonna be a long one.

Dasher says “Play!”

And Another Thing: Please vote. And, having voted, please take care of yourself. This is a terribly stressful year, in so many awful and horrific ways. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon your physical, mental, or emotional health to doomscroll endlessly. Take a tip from Dasher, who wants to play every day, whether or not it’s hot, or raining, or people are mad on Twitter. Do something you enjoy. Sit quietly. Sip tea. Read. Play with your dog. The world will still be here, and still be a honking huge mess, when you return. But you’ll feel better.

 

Writing

A Clean, New Look

Well, if you haven’t noticed, it’s here. I’ve changed this blog’s theme, and spruced things up a bit. More has been done behind the scenes, and more will continue to change back there where you won’t notice it much. Hopefully I will, though.

Meanwhile, life isn’t stopping. I’m still attempting to write this draft of the novel, and keep short fiction submissions moving. The west coast is still on fire, hurricanes and tropical storms still threaten the Gulf coasts, coronavirus still sweeps the world, and my dog still has epileptic seizures. Like the one he had yesterday.

All my careful plans went out the window as I re-prioritized everything to care for him. Fortunately, it was only the one episode, not a cluster like he’s been having so often. And I know the source: someone had left salted peanuts out for squirrels at the dog park, and Dasher licked one shell. Didn’t eat it, just licked it. (Reason #41 why not to leave food behind in a dog park!)

Later today I get to take my tablet in for repairs, and cringe at so many $$ being spent to repair the shattered-crazed touch-screen glass. But for 5 days, I’ve not used my tablet. And it’s shown me how dependent on that little thing I’ve become. Keeping up with my friends on Slack is the main thing I’ve missed. It’s much harder to go sit at a computer and log in. And my phone, well, yeah, I can use that–but the screen is so small. (insert squinchy-face) Do not like.

So I’ve gotten a LOT more reading done. Like, a LOT a lot. And…okay, wow. So that’s where all my time was going–quick bursts of socializing, some gaming, checking Twitter, doom scrolling the News, one more check on email… it all adds up to become a rather significant chunk of my day. So, despite part of me hating to admit this, having my tablet out for repair for some while might actually be a good thing.

Now let me change gears and give you more reasons to remain online: two new online magazines have opened/are opening. The first is a new quarterly SF mag named Departure Mirror. What makes them stand out for me is this line, from their submission guidelines: “We’re most excited by stories that tap into the current cultural zeitgeist.” In other words, stuff that is from this moment, and extremely timely. Which is something that many other markets really don’t want, because with their long lead times, there might be a year between acceptance and publication–making the story no longer timely, but “old news.” The first issue is out, and free to download, and all the stories were quite good. I think I’ll be reading this one regularly, and hope you will, too.

Next up is a forthcoming magazine called “Constelación.” From their website: Constelación is a quarterly speculative fiction bilingual magazine, publishing stories in both Spanish and English. Writers can submit their stories in either language. Fifty percent of the stories we publish in every issue will be from authors from the Caribbean, Latin America, and their diaspora.

Constelación is being created by a pair of editors, one of whom is from my Viable Paradise cohort–Coral Moore. She’s an amazing writer and an awesome person, and I think this magazine is going to fill a niche that has been too long ignored. They have a Kickstarter going on right now to fund their first year, with loads of fun backer rewards, and they’re looking to provide pro-levels of payment to their authors, their illustrators, and their translators, which is not only the right thing, it’s the awesome thing. So go grab yourself a capybara founder’s pin!

Writing

A New Look is Coming

You may notice something different here–specifically, NO MORE ADS! Yes, that’s right. I finally did it. I finally got a paid WordPress account and got rid of those ads plastered all over the site. (Ugh. I’m sorry you had to deal with them this long.) They weren’t too bad at first, but man did that change!

Anyway, now that I have a paid site, it might be time for a general shake-up and refreshing here at Ye Olde Blogge. Don’t be surprised if it takes me a little while, but eventually things will look all spruced up and fancy when you visit.

I’m hoping that old links will still work. I have quite literally just now made this change, and the instructions warned me that it might take 30 minutes or so for everything to function normally. So if you notice something not working…don’t panic. It will work again soon. -ish. If a month from now you notice something still not working–well, still don’t panic, but it’s definitely time to let me know about it then, okay? Thanks!

I’ll leave you with a picture, from 2 years ago, of a manatee snoot emerging above water, at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Because everyone should see a manatee snoot at least once, right?

Writing

Happy Equinox!

Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s officially the first day of fall. Mother Nature is feeling the love, as our temperatures “plunged” into the low 70’s overnight, and even now are barely above 80°F. I simply cannot tell you how blissful this feels after months and months and endless months (in a pandemic no less) of temps in the mid to upper 90’s with 100% humidity! The windows are open and I’m finally enjoying fresh air while I sit before the computer, preparing to get in my words for the day.

I also just harvested 2 Seminole pumpkins from my garden, and a handful of sweet potatoes that I managed to tickle free from the rest of the growing vines. Yes, I’m definitely feeling the autumn vibe, even if pumpkin spiced anything isn’t on my list.

Dasher, too, is loving the cool. He raced around like a manic little thing last evening after our walk, obviously ecstatic at the cool evening that didn’t sap his energy, until he finally–unwillingly–stilled, his eyelids too heavy to stay open another sweet minute. Of course, his toy was right beside him, safe in case he woke and needed another bout of play. 🙂

With the onset of cool, I’m much more willing to start the next big garden job: ripping out the grass weeds (okay, yeah, let’s be honest, right?) along the south side and replacing it with a drought-resistant and pollinator friendly garden. Spousal unit and I will be doing the work, taking it on in three small sections. I can’t wait until it’s done and looking amazing!

My writing has been coming along. This summer saw two short flash stories published in quick succession, and right now, quite possibly the favorite thing I’ve written is in a slush queue, awaiting its chance to wow an editor. The novel edit is proceeding slower than I’d like, but I’m making progress nonetheless, and I’m very pleased with how this draft is turning out so far. It’s–dare I say it?–actually starting to read like a novel!

And with that, I hear my characters calling me, telling me they’re impatient for me to get back and finish what they’re doing already! One character, in particular–a secondary one close to the protagonist–she’s got a quick temper, and I’m starting to feel that impatience of hers directed right at me. How dare I write stuff here, when I could be writing about her?!? (Don’t anyone tell her the novel isn’t actually about her, okay?)

Happy Equinox, happy autumn (or spring, if you’re in the southern hemisphere), and stay safe out there!