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…

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.

goals, Magic of the Everyday, Writing

Spring Changes

This week, the sandhill cranes have been gathering into great flocks that swirl up the late morning thermals into the higher altitudes, their melancholy voices calling and overlapping into a overwhelming, bittersweet chorus as they begin their long journeys northwards. Yesterday morning, the far end of the alley, where the trees are thickest, was overrun with robins. Hundreds of them, chirping and calling and catching every bug they could find before they, too, flew off in loose groups of tens and twenties for their northern mating grounds.

My windows are open all night, and local strawberries are in at the farmers’ market. On the afternoon dog walk, we seek out the shady path instead of the sunny one. And the plum tree has burst into fluffy white bloom, promising another bumper crop come summer. Even the wee new blueberry bushes are in blossom!

Plum tree in blossom

It’s official, then. Spring is here. The groundhog was right. Despite the snow and ice still plaguing the north, the birds are flying spring up to you.

Spring is a season of change. Of renewal and rebirth. And in that light, I have some news of a wonderful change in my life: I have been accepted as an Active Member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America! This has been a goal of mine for a very long time, and I’m thrilled to be able to join this organization, and to nominate and vote on the Nebula Awards!

awards, goals, Writing

A Residency!

current mood: jumping for joy

I am very pleased to announce that I’ve been selected for a two-week writer’s residency in Key West this fall. The Key West Literary Society sent me an acceptance email this morning, and I am still bubbling over with my joy and enthusiasm for this amazing opportunity, and at the thought of having two weeks totally dedicated to all things writing (and editing)! Until then, I’ll be editing the novel in bits and pieces, hoping to get the first revision pass done and the novel sent out to my  beta readers.

Now, can we all just cross our fingers that no hurricanes blow in and toss this lovely plan into the weeds?

goals, publication

“Sanachi’s Escape” Now Available!

ColoredLensWinter17I have good news, and I have better news!

The Good News: My short story, “Sanachi’s Escape,” is in the current issue of The Colored Lens, now available at Amazon. It’s the story of a boy growing up in a very different world, making very difficult choices, just to survive. It’s just that sometimes, plans have to change.

The Better News: Starting January 31st, The Colored Lens is going to put the electronic version on sale. The entire issue will cost just 99¢! They’ll be announcing this shortly on social media, so get ready. The price will slowly rise, regaining full price on February 3. So get your copy on January 31st for the best pricing!

Now, did you see that picture up there? Let me point out that I’m the first author listed. That’s right, my story opens the issue! (insert squee here!) This is a first for me–being the lead story–and I’m thrilled that “Sanachi’s Escape” has garnered that faith from the editors.

Ready for a little bit more about the story? Well, the idea for “Sanachi’s Escape” came from my thinking about the children born into war-torn, strife-laden countries, and how that affects their lives, and the lives of all born there for generations. Naturally, it changed as I wrote it, but you can see that start if you’re looking for it, I think. Also, an early version of this story was my first submission to Writers of the Future, garnering an Honorable Mention.

I’m so pleased it found such a wonderful home, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

goals, Paradise Lost, Writing, Year in Review

Annual Statement of Goals, 2017 Edition

Ah, here we are sliding into the new year with nary a mistake dating a check or letter so far! This must be a good omen, right? That or my brain is setting me up for a massive fail later…which I wouldn’t bet against, but also which I won’t be thinking about just now.

It looks like last year worked out pretty well for me. My short story sales and submissions went down, because early on I focused on the novel(s), letting short fiction slide. It distressed me quite a bit–still does, in fact–because I’ve become used to the “instant gratification” of short story sales instead of the “delayed gratification” of novel writing. For the longest time, it seemed to me that I just wasn’t getting anywhere. It took my husband commenting that “you know, you didn’t get as many submissions or acceptances as you’d hoped, but look, you wrote two novels last year” before my brain realized that, duh, yeah, I hadn’t been lazy or non-productive. Just “differently productive.” And this year, last year’s productivity will come to fruition.

2016: Highlights in review

  • Submitted Book 1’s opening for Taos Toolbox
  • Accepted to & attended Taos Toolbox
  • Edited Book 1 prior to workshop
  • Edited Book 1 after workshop!
  • Revisited overall trilogy plot
  • Wrote Book 2
  • Wrote at least 8 new short stories (Gah! I never tallied those figures so I can’t tell you–or myself–exactly how many!), 6 of them in Codex contests.
  • Became a Writers of the Future Quarter 2 Finalist (!!!!!)
  • One new story sale, one story “near-sale” [market went on hiatus 😦  ]
  • 6 stories still on submission at the turn of the year.

So, here are my writing goals for 2017

  • Start Book 3 of my Jess Stow trilogy
  • Finish Book 3 of Jess Stow
  • Edit ALL BOOKS of Jess Stow, and send to editor
  • Final edits of entire trilogy
  • Get covers created (OMG–so exciting!!!!)
  • Publish Jess Stow books
  • Finish planning and plot-breaking Unspoken, my next, stand-alone fantasy novel
  • Start writing Unspoken
  • Participate in Codex short story writing contests for at least 5 new stories
  • attend Paradise Lost Writers Retreat

In fact, my advanced plan is to have Book 3 finished before Paradise Lost (end of April), which I can do if I average 5000 words a week on that novel. The Weekend Warrior contest is going on now, which takes a lot of my time over the next 5 weeks–but I’m still committed to this insanity plan. So you might not see me here or on any social media much until after Paradise Lost.

In other words, it’s going to be a busy year. I hope I come out at the end of 2017 as pleasantly surprised by my writing productivity as I was last year. And to you all, I hope the same. Happy reading, and happy writing!

 

goals, Paradise Lost, Writing Workshops, Year in Review

Welcome, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a lovely, peaceful holiday season, and are ready for the challenges and hopes of the coming year. Husband and I celebrated quietly, at home together–the first time we’ve done so in our adult lives. It was a marked change, and honestly, this year was a welcome one, as well.

In addition to celebrating the holidays, I kept writing, and I am pleased to announce that I met my goal of finishing Book Two of my YA urban fantasy trilogy on December 30th! Hurray! We celebrated by eating dinner out that night (more hurray!). Since then, I’ve taken a “vacation” from writing, simply enjoying long naps and late mornings, walking the dog and conversations with friends and family. Very nice. Even the weather has cooperated, staying partly sunny and above-average in warmth, so sitting outside feels perfect.

Later today, I start on Book Three, which is outlined and ready to go. And so am I! I’m excited to get on with Jess’s adventures, seeing and living the world through her eyes. She’s a witch, and one of my favorite parts is exploring her magic–how it works, what it does, how it feels. So much fun!

Once Book Three’s first draft is done, I get edit them all (as soon as I typed the final words on book two, my mind started thinking, “hmm, you know, I should really punch that up back there, and maybe over there, too. And if I only tweaked that, then this will really shine…”). And then, lo and behold…I’ll get to send them off to my editor, after which, I’ll edit again! 🙂 Eventually, though, they will be available–my goal is by the end of the year, but I’ll be sure to update you here before that point.

In addition to all this fun, I’ve started playing around with an idea for my next novel, a stand-alone secondary-world fantasy, currently using the working title of “Unspoken.” AND, I’ve registered for the Paradise Lost Writing Workshop, where I’ll not only see lots of writers I know from Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox, but get to meet other writers while we all work on our books and stories. I get a lot of “creative energy” out of these things, and really hope that Paradise Lost will help me plot-break “Unspoken,” so it’s ready to begin once the Jessamin Stow books are finished.

I’ll make my annual year’s end summary and new-year’s goals posting soon–probably later this week. But for now, I’m easing back into a normal working life again. Which means I need to get writing.

But first, for the coming year I wish all of you comfort in your souls, strength in your wills, and health. Blessings on us all.

goals, Personal Life, Writing

Lead-up to Thanksgiving: The Darkening

Lo and behold, we are falling towards Thanksgiving, and the ending of the year. What a year it’s been–especially these last few weeks.

The election–need I say more? I don’t think so.

The dog–I took Dasher to the vet, looking for a non-surgical aid, like a brace or a way to wrap with vet-tape his patella, to help fight his increased limping. I left with the news that his patella was fine, it was his other ACL that had torn, and thus he needed surgery once more. AND an MRI of his brain, since his seizures aren’t fully controlled. AND more blood tests. And I had a growing headache. (Can I say again how much I love love love Trupanion pet insurance? They haven’t faltered or balked once at repayment for this dog’s numerous, large vet bills.)

Now the surgery is behind us and he’s a month into recovery (and getting crazier by the minute!), the MRI is done and yes, they actually found a brain inside his skull–apparently one working just fine, BTW–while the blood tests are all out of whack, showing, well, who knows, exactly? No one, it seems, can figure this dog out. This has been his 5th surgery in two years, and I’m really hoping that we’re all done with those for quite a while. We all need time to just be healthy and normal.

Friends: a friend’s father died unexpectedly, and I traveled back to our childhood home for the funeral. I’m so glad I did, so glad to see and renew those relationships–but also sad that this is the only time we do these things anymore. And I’m unhappy that, this far from my friend, I really can’t help with much of anything that needs doing.

My own health: apparently I pulled or strained a muscle or tendon. Nothing huge, but I can’t sit cross-legged, or in many yoga poses, or sit on the floor to play with the dog, or kneel to weed easily…all those little things just add up. Now I’m getting physical therapy (sigh), which takes more time, but hopefully will get me back to normal life quicker than not. It’s not hard PT, it’s not a bad injury–it’s just one more aggravation when life is already full up with aggravations.

My writing: It isn’t going as fast as I’d like, because of all these things above (and the one below). I’m getting words done, making slow progress, but it feels sooooo sloooow. I am deeply frustrated by this. I’d planned on being finished writing Book 2 at this point in time, and instead, I’m only halfway through it. And now we’re moving into the time of year that writing takes a slow-down due to holidays and all that stuff. The Scrooge in me is lifting his head and taking a look around. Ba-humbug!

Health the Second: Also, all the above stressors are creating a backlash within me, flaring up my Hashimoto’s so that my body attacks my thyroid and I’m just…so…tired…all…the…time. Not good when you’re trying to catch up with life and writing on your return home. (heavy sigh) And stressing over that does less than no good–it only adds to the mess. But it’s hard to be patient with oneself, isn’t it?

So, this list of stuff is the bad, the things pulling me down. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’ll be doing another post soon, wherein I list the things that I’m glad for, that I’m thankful for. And I’m hoping it will be a bigger list.