Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, the dog, Writing

Well There Went Two Months…

Gah! Don’t turn around or time will come ’round and bite you in the rear end. Hard. Like it just did for me.

Since last we chatted, my husband was sick, then finally recovered, but he still needs to schedule his knee surgery. My dog is now currently having knee surgery, after a strange bout with some increased seizure activity. At home, we at long last got the okay from our HOA to get our steep and slipping back yard terraced, and with the rain now stopped, the landscaper can begin moving in supplies. All by hand, because of tiny gate area to the back yard. We got two rooms of our home painted (before this the whole house, inside and out, was pale mocha with white trim, inside and out, and I was dying of boredom), and I’m hoping we’ll see more rooms in color before too long. The pool solar has been replaced after unexpectedly dying. And all along, I’ve been working on the revision of the novel.

Revising is slow going at the moment. I’m writing a couple entirely new chapters to replace a number of chapters that are cut completely out. By changing the plot/character arc near the end of the last draft, I knew this work would come along…and sure enough, here it is. It’s gratifying to see the work coming together into a cohesive whole, but it’s also a slow and tedious process right now, since this is the first thicket of change–and area where the changes cluster and make totally new drafting necessary. I’m holding onto that memory of revitalization I felt at WorldCon, and using that to shove myself through the work each day. Until the end of the day’s effort, when I sit back and realize, Yeah, this is actually working. This is sounding like an actual novel. Astonishing!

In the natural world, autumn has crept in while I wasn’t looking. Here in the Orlando area, that means that I’ll wear long pants and t-shirts in the mornings, and again in the evenings, while the daytime temps still reach the balmy upper 80’s or low 90’s. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to actual winter, and being able to turn off the AC, and maybe even wear socks.

Once the terracing is complete, I can begin planting the back yard (just in time for the cooler, garden-pleasant weather!), making the fairly bland space it is now vibrant with plants that smell wonderful, that bring birds and bees, and some that we can eat. I’ve brought a few starts from the old yard that are really wanting spots in the ground, and can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt. And of course, once Dasher recovers from his surgery, he’ll love the flat area to chase a ball or frisbee in, instead of crashing downhill into the fence at the bottom, as he used to do. [Poor dog. No wonder his meniscus gave out! (Well, not really; we didn’t use the back yard at all, but tossed toys in the open, flat front yard instead.)] And I’m going to absolutely love not killing myself while cutting that steep slope, especially the bouncy area over the tree roots that were being washed out from underneath. Aaahhhh, it’s going to be sooo wonderful.

Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of how wonderful it will all be–the book, and the yard. And I’d be glad if you’d do the same. I hope you enjoy autumn, no matter how it exhibits where you live.

conventions, Personal Life, the dog, Writing

On Brain Weasels and Doubt Roaches and Writing “The End”

Time really does fly, doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday I was wondering how it could possibly be 2019 already, and now the year is on the downswing, the way out, already half over. It’ll be July in a few short days! How?!?!?

We’ll be having our first guests in our new home soon–family members stopping in on the way to Miami and a cruise–which will be wonderful. And shortly after that, I’ll be heading to Dublin, Ireland, for my very first WorldCon! I’m very excited–not only for the convention, but also to see so many online friends  and acquaintances in person, and some dear friends in person, too! Of course, it’ll be great to see the city of Dublin, where I’ve never been. Especially since it means exchanging Orlando’s August weather for Dublin’s August weather; I’ve never been so excited to wear full-length jeans before!

In writing news, I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel, and I’m slowing down. Partly in fear (oh don’t mess it up now!), partly in anticipation (oh this is so exciting! the climactic scenes are tense and tight, a joy I don’t want to rush!), and partly because finishing means I need to start editing the mess into something more resembling a novel, and–yep, you guessed it–I’m just stalling. At least I know this, and am forcing myself to have it finished before next week is out.

It was supposed to be finished by the end of this week…but here it is Friday and I’m not done. Dasher had a really horrible early part of the week, with clusters of seizures over the weekend, and another episode on Monday–this time a focal seizure, where the only symptom is a facial tic. Poor Dasher’s nose and eyes twitched, rather violently at times, for a long, long while. I held him and soothed him and kept him in a darkened room, then stayed near in case it was just the first in another cluster of seizures. Fortunately, it was a stand-alone. This time.

That said, lack of sleep (when he’s having clusters like this, if I hear even a tiny sound at night, I’m suddenly wide awake, expecting it to be another seizure) took its toll, and for a couple days I just couldn’t write a word. I’d stare at the computer, feeling dull, and squint my eyes at the bright dazzle of the screen. Ugh. Not a good way to write the climax of the novel you’ve spent a year on!

So now I’m feeling it again–awake, aware, and eager to write. Mostly. But the longer it takes to type “The End,” the more the Brain Weasels feed me a diet of Doubt.

Coincidently, I’ve been reading the perfect book to combat all this nonsense in my brain. It’s “The Writer’s Book of Doubt,” by Aidan Doyle. A writer himself, editor Aidan Doyle has gathered essays from other writers, and written many himself, on the various ways we manage to Doubt–ourselves, our abilities, even our desire or need to write–and combined them into this book, illustrated with fun line drawings that perfectly capture each essay’s meaning.

Not every essay rang with a pure clarion call for me, but enough certainly have that I’ve found it well worth my time to keep reading! I’ve taken some of the advice and created, for example, my very own Awesomeness Dossier. Even making that made me feel better! Whether your doubt nibbles or cripples, I’d suggest giving this book a look.

And with that, I need to get back. “The End” won’t type itself. And even after that, there’s a whole mess of editing to start.

 

Magic of the Everyday, Moving, Personal Life, Writing

Whew!

Well, the transition is over. We are moved out of our previous home, and all our things–both those we stashed in a Pod for showing, and the stuff from the mover’s truck–are in our new house, albeit much still in boxes stacked haphazardly in various spaces. We’re updating the lighting and fans and such things even as we attempt to unpack and put things away, which means everything is going more slowly than we’d like. But it’s going, it’s getting done, and everything we’re updating is delighting us that much more.

And of course, let’s not forget that we have to find various types of doctors, a vet, a chiropractor (sooner rather than later after that Pod!), the good stores to shop at, banks, and two types of pharmacy, and also explore parks and dog parks, cook, clean, cut grass, figure out trash days–basically, live a normal life. Or, well, whatever passes for “normal” in this house, at least.

The Pod got delivered yesterday, and though my back is aching today, the whole thing is cleaned out, ready to be picked up again and carried away. Dasher the dog is in dog-heaven, because he just got a delivery of all the toys that went away before the showing. He’s been carrying around his lemon-head toy, leapt into the pool yesterday again and again for his favorite old frisbee, and fell asleep last night still holding his long squeaky snake toy, which he’d been dragging around like a true prize. All is well on the canine front!

And on the orchid front, as well. My oh my, who knew that just a wee bit south, the orchids just don’t need me to do anything–other than not thoroughly abuse them–in order to flourish. They are thriving on this new location, growing like literal weeds and looking lush and gorgeous. A few are newly in spike, and one that was spiking as we moved (and oh, didn’t that make me nervous, moving that big, spiked orchid; I was so afraid I’d break off that flower spike!) is about ready to burst open. I promise I’ll post pics soon, although they might hit Twitter first.

My new office is wonderful, and after the bedroom where we sleep, it was the first room set up. My novel is up on the wall, 3×5 cards showing the scenes left to write. And I’ve been writing here. It’s a perfect space, and I love it. Let’s hope my writing loves it, too!

And with that, I gotta run. More writing to be written, more packed things to unpack, and  yes, a vet appointment for Dasher to meet his new doctors.

Happy Summer!

Moving, Nature, Personal Life, the dog

Moving Blues

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.

Wish me luck!

Nature, Personal Life

ugh

my right thumb was stung by ground hornets on monday as i tore out the spent broccoli, and now my entire hand is swollen and gross. just got meds yesterday from the doc, and while they’re helping, they also make me a bit snoozy. and typing is still haaaarrd.

so, while i recover, have a quick picture of the wee little plums forming on the plum tree:

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Travel

December Travels

The Spousal Unit and I celebrated a Significant Anniversary this year, so we celebrated by taking a Significant Trip. We chose to return to Nürnberg, Germany (where we lived for a couple years) to visit the annual Christmas Market, or Christkindlesmarkt (which we haven’t seen for nearly 20 years!!!!!!).

The view from our window on a rare, blue-skied moment.

It was a magnificent trip! We stayed at a VRBO just inside the Altstadt walls, close to the tower gate that we entered when we lived there. It was quiet and peaceful, and close to everything, including mass transit. Perfect! Here’s a view from our window.

The market was everything we recalled: nice and fun and filled with delights during the week, and a crazed mass of wall-to-wall people on Saturday night. Honestly, even wearing a winter coat, some of those folks I skooched by now know me really well. But the food was good, the glühwein warming and yummy, and the sound of the bells ringing out from each church a sheer delight. We brought home gifts both for ourselves and our friends, but the best thing we brought home was memories–both reawakened old ones, and new ones from this trip.

Here are a few pics from our adventures.  

 

 

 

It was amazing how many things had changed. But it was also reassuring how much had remained the same. And as with every good trip, I’m glad we went, I’m gladder to be home again, and yet I can’t wait to return.

Nürnberg holds a tiny piece of my heart, forever.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life, Writing

Hey, What the Heck’s Been Going On? A Round-Up

I’ve had an incredibly busy summer–and now that it’s fall (by human reckoning, if not by Mother Nature’s calendar), I’d like to tell you about it. Get comfy–grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair–as this may take awhile.

First off, I’ve been battling some not-fun health issues. I won’t get into them here, but suffice it to say, I’ve not been getting as much writing done as I’d like, and that has made me a bit grumpy. And, it loosed the ever-patient brain weasels–you know, those mad little beasts that like to nibble away at your self-confidence, erode your cheer into fear, etc., at any chance. If you’re a creative of any time, I’m sure you’ve experienced them. Basically, not writing made me cringe, but whatever writing I did wasn’t “good enough,” or even just “enough.” I should have been doing more. Which made me want to not want to write, because it made me feel bad. Which unleashed yet more brain weasels…

You see how this is a nasty cycle. Fortunately, (I think?) I’m familiar enough with this that I just keep plugging away at it. I let the weasels run riot and do my darnedest to ignore them. They don’t go away, but at least I don’t let them monopolize my brain.

So despite the weasels, I managed to finish the first draft of Unspoken, and I’m closing in on my plan for the rewrite, which is what Draft 2 will be: a complete rewrite.

You might think I’d be upset about that, and well, let’s face it–I wish I could just do a quick polish and know it’s “perfect.” Of course I do. But it’s not, and I’m okay with that. I know what I need to do, and I want this novel to be good, really good. I feel it can get there, and this is the way to do it. (Thanks go to my husband, and my VP, Taos, and Codex friends and acquaintances who’ve been cheerleaders along the way, keeping me up when I got down, and shouting down the weasels when they got to me.)

How can you not love this guy?

The dog has been mostly good, fortunately. He had a pretty hard seizure yesterday, but it’s the first for a while. Since he’d been kenneled, I’m not sure what the trigger was for this one–maybe just stress? He is a homebody and a cling-on boy, so it may well be the case. Other than this, he’s been good. No surgeries, no real illnesses (other than a startling case of allergy to some pollen or another), just chillin’ away the summer heat and humidity. So YAY!

How would you even describe that shade of purple?

At the beginning of summer, the plum tree went berserk, and I managed to make all the plum jam. Now the beautyberry bush is in full lavender berry, and I’m making beautyberry jelly. It’s really very good, and made a terrific ice cream! Fiddly as all get out to pick the berries off the stems, and pull out the leaves and other various debris, but worth it in the end. The recipe I used is here.

Spousal Unit and I celebrated our anniversary recently–a big one, too. One that’s valued as a precious metal, even–Silver! (But it’s odd, I don’t feel that old.) To celebrate, we went to Disney World (hence the dog being kenneled), and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I got to wake up and look out our balcony window to see giraffes, zebra, antelope, springbok, and more. I was in heaven! Interns from various African countries worked at the lodge, and were very happy to discuss their countries’ various cultures, animals, foods, economies, etc. It was really amazing, and I loved every bit of it. Here are some pics, just because I need to share the joy:

Giraffes from our lodge
Reaching for that palm
Mama and baby Nyala antelope at the lodge
Another stretch!
Sunrise antelope
Evening at the lodge’s main viewing station: pink pelicans, giraffe, wildebeest…
A great group of interns finishing up their year at Disney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last pic is of a fantastic group of interns we met while in line at the Pandora ikrom ride (which is awesome!). They were finishing up their yearlong internships at Disney, and would soon be heading back to Singapore. We had a great 50 minutes line-wait chatting together, and they had nothing but good to say about their experience.

Which brings me back to home. And the upcoming trip…

This next weekend, weather and hurricanes permitting, I’m heading off to a 2-week residency in Key West, where I’ll be feverishly working on the novel’s rewrite. I’m so excited I’m bouncing at the prospect of 2 full weeks with nothing to do but write and, well, basically keep myself alive by eating and sleeping. I’ll report back once I’m home, but don’t expect to see a lot from me (yeah, I know–what else is new?!?) during the end of September. Maybe on Twitter now and again, but probably not too much.

I’ll leave you with a bit of good news: my story Cold Currents has gotten a publication date! You’ll be able to read it in January 2019 at Abyss & Apex Magazine. Hurray! And yes, I’ll be sure to update with a reminder at publication time.

Until then, enjoy September!

 

 

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Travel

Home Again, Home Again

I’m back from my trip to London, where I stayed with friend and Taos Toolbox roommate, Mel Melcer. We had a great time, and ended up nearly walking our feet off. And hey, I discovered some things about the UK.

For starters, all that “rain and dreary gray” nonsense was just that–nonsense–during my trip. It was hot. I mean, I packed the wrong clothes! I ended up buying a sleeveless top, and wished I’d brought a pair of shorts, or a skirt. Whew! We sought out the shade, and changed plans one day to avoid London due to the heat (well, that and our tired feet…).

Also, Big Ben isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Photo proof here:

Big Ben covered in scaffolding.

OK, in reality, the trip was awesome. I saw so many amazing things, ate and drank great things, and on top of all that, 3 of my Taos Toolbox classmates and I got together one evening, and had a great time.

Instead of blathering on, let me share a few photos with you. But first, other amazing things not pictured: visiting Forbidden Planet; attending a reading/meeting of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club; touring Westminster Abbey, walking St. James Park; my first British tea house tea, including my choice of really superb gluten-free cakes; riding the Tube; meeting Mel’s cats, and tonnes more!

Tower Bridge. Got to see the drawbridge raise to let a paddlewheel river boat through. Riverboat’s name? Considering where I’d come from it was, ironically enough, the Dixie Queen.
Panoramic view of the Thames riverside walkway, with a strange aberration from the “pano” process that tickles my fantasy-laden fancy!
Beefeater Tour Guide at the London Tower. He’s also the Raven Master!
One of the seven ravens held at the Tower. Meet Merlin.
Shakespeare statue in the park where the Taos group met; I particularly like the quote on the scroll old Will is holding.
“Alien life forms” in a greenhouse at RHS Wisley Gardens. (These gardens were a-mazing!)
Sparkling wine with Mel (left) and me (right) in her garden.
Feeding the swan and cygnets at Hever Castle and Gardens–another great place to explore!
Inside Hever Castle, looking out into the central courtyard.
Mel and I ride the London Eye, getting a great view of practically everything!
Husband loves scotch. But he did NOT get this one, which I saw at the World of Whiskey, inside Gatwick Airport. (click to embiggen, and check out that Duty Free price! Yikes.)