(I know, I know–it’s supposed to be Two-fer Tuesday, but I’m giving a bonus, because it’s gonna be a long week, I think)
Friend and fellow author Shannon Rampe has a special blog post written by yours truly (that’s me) up on his newsletter, and cross-posted on his blog. You can find it here, if you’d like some springtime-themed writing content. While you’re there, you might want to browse his site, maybe sign up for his newsletter–he’s got one collection of short stories out, and has another coming later this month. He’s also got links to some of his published works, so you can get a feel for what he writes. (Hint: It’s good.)
GOOD NEWS! I’ve sold another story to Nature: Futures! I’m truly thrilled to announce this. It’s my third sale to them (!!!), and the first time I’ve sold a story to the very first market it was submitted to–thus it’s a double-Writer’s Bingo square! I don’t know yet when it will be out, but I’ll be sure to let you know. As always, I’ll post a wee bit here about its backstory, or how it came to be, or some such story-related anecdote.
I’ll leave you with a photo from today’s walk. It’s the baby alligator at the local small “improved” pond, with paved trails, paddle boats, playground, nearby shops, and an arts pavilion, etc. I’ve seen this one slowly growing since winter gave way to spring (as estimated in Florida time, that’s about mid-February). Now its yellow stripes are nearly gone, and I’m starting to wonder how long before the little thing gets moved.
Just as the title says, the world was blanketed in fog this morning, and I took a walk. One of the wood storks that hangs out at the retention pond decided I looked like I might offer food. I didn’t, but that stork came so close that it gave me a wonderful photo opportunity. (This is doubly fine because Santa brought me a new phone with an immensely better camera than my previous phone had.)
So, without further ado, here are some foggy stork pictures:
As this difficult year comes to a close, I hope you, dear reader, find peace and joy, and that the coming year finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
Yes, I currently have two bunnies in my garden, right up against the lanai screen, contentedly devouring sweet potato leaves and leaf-stems. Yesterday was a 3-bunny day, a major milestone! Once we replaced our rotted out and falling over wooden fence, the back fence that barriers against a wooded retention pond runoff area was changed to powder-coated metal, which allows the critters to easily slide right through.
We’ve definitely seen an increase in backyard wildlife. Used to be we’d get maybe one rabbit sliding through the low hollow beneath the fence. Now it’s all the critters gliding right on in and out to come a-visiting! I’m not too concerned about their eating the sweet potato vines down to stumpy bits; I’ve already harvested and given away more sweet potatoes than I care to think about, and still have about half of the vines left–or, well, I did, until the rabbits decided to help 🙂
I’m so glad for this bit of delight, and the cooler weather that allows us all here to enjoy being and working outside, because not everything’s been bunnies and harvests. Dasher had another scary episode of seizures (he’s idiopathic epileptic). Before that we had the longest span without seizures he’s ever had since his seizures began at about 1 year of age. As he’s nearing 8 years old, every seizure wracks his arthritis-pained limbs, causing more discomfort and pain for longer after he recovers. It’s truly heartbreaking, but I’m glad to report that he’s fine again now, and seems to have completely come back to his good, happy, regularly-abnormal self!
Writing-wise, things were going swimmingly up until Dasher’s seizures started. I had an “aggressive” writing plan for the month of December (aggressive for me, at least!), pushing through the last half of the novel’s edits to be finished before the end of the year. However, I’ve now lost a full 6 days, plus another 1.5 for recovery–I got somewhere between 2-4 hours of broken sleep each night of the dog’s “episode,” and multiple auto-immune issues mean I really don’t do well with that; stress literally turns my thinking capacity to mush. So… I’m still trying to push ahead and finish as much as I possibly can between now and the end of the year, but I’m gonna try to not flay myself if I fall short of that goal (I hope).
Which brings me to another point about writing: if you are a writer, maybe you feel bad when things don’t go well. Maybe you feel like a failure if you don’t get that story, or novel, published. But I’ve got news for you: rejection of your writing doesn’t mean you are a failure. Not ever. As a human being, you have more value than just what your writing brings in. Human value is not transactional. Never was, never will be. The duo of writers that comprise the byline James S. A. Corey (of The Expanse fame) were guest speakers at Taos Toolbox the year I attended, and it was one of their key points: failure happens, over and over, between the successes that all focus on. Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress gave stories of their own professional ups and downs, reiterating that theme. (I say this so you know it’s not just some rando spouting nonsense at you, okay?) This wisdom has helped me, so I hope it helps you, too, if you need to hear it.
Speaking of which…
Taos Toolboxis open for submissions beginning January 1. They plan on hosting their 2022 workshop in person, June 6-19, 2022. It’s two glorious weeks of focusing on writing and its craft, and it’s set on the gorgeous slopes of Angel Fire, NM. Find out more and apply over at their website: http://www.taostoolbox.com
I have amazingly awesome news: the scientific journal Nature has accepted one of my flash stories for publication in their “Futures” department–this upcoming Wednesday, August 18!
As you might remember, I sold them a story last year; “What You Do For a Friend” ran in Nature’s Futures, on July 22, 2020. So, almost a year later, another sale to this wonderful market is making me very happy indeed. (You can read about that sale on my blog here.)
This time, the story is titled “Terraforming the Heart,” and yes, it deals with a future terraforming contest. I liked the story when I wrote it, and think its message only applies even more now. Of course I’ll provide a link when the story goes live, and a wee bit of backstory about the writing.
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…
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.
I’m stealing William Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction because I’ve recently been enamored with the National Park’s explore.org site, specifically the Katmai National Park’s Bear Cams. They have 5 separate live cams showing different areas, and all of them have given me great views of bear in the river, leaping trout, and the intersections of the two. A couple have audio as well as video, so I’ve been doing editing to the sound of rushing waterfalls, or a babbling broad river, and glancing up now and again to see wild bears! It’s pretty awesome.
And so, to tie in with that headline, here are some of the screenshots I’ve snapped. I didn’t get a good one of the bear cub interacting with–I think–a coyote (or was it a wolf? too grainy and half hidden for me to be sure), but I think you’ll agree these are pretty cool.
Oh my word! The stresses of trying to make your house look like a hotel where no one permanently lives, kept clean by an entire staff, while you actually live there and have no staff but yourself. While also trying to manage a dog with seizures who is undergoing yet another medical procedure. And, oh yeah–write a book!
As you might have guessed, we’re moving. Again.
Southward, once more. To the Orlando area. I’m excited about some new opportunities, but I’ll be very sad to see the end of many things I’ve loved here. Not only the yard that I’ve transformed into a veritable paradise (to me, at least), filled with fruit and scent and bloom, but the neighbors we have here, and the places we’ve come to love, our beloved solar panels, and the wildlife in this area, too.
Just last evening, we discovered that the owlet on the esplanade is actually one of a pair of owlets! We heard, then saw, them both, cree-ing piteously as dusk settled in under the laurel and live oaks, bobbing their heads and craning their necks as they flapped vigorously, strengthening those wings for the glories of future flights. And the hummingbirds are returning in force to the feeders here, and starting to battle for the feeder territory.
We’re in contract on both ends–selling this home, and buying the new one. But oh my word! (yes, I’m repeating myself. but it deserves repetition; these last few days have been stressful!) Realtors, and unrealistic clauses, and inspections, and deadlines, and so very many phone calls, texts, emails, and voice-messages! It’s like a horror novel that never really took off, but merely devolved into a more ridiculous angsty dread with every passing moment, and no real plot to speak of because things move at both a snail’s pace and with ever-increasing speed at the same time.
All this is to say: well, don’t expect to see much of me around these parts until after June begins. At that time, I’ll be coming to you–with any luck and with the appropriate sacrifices to the various gods of moving, whomever they may be–from the Orlando area. Ensconced in a new office. And with a dog fully recovered from his latest batch of medical stuff.