Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk

Writer’s Desk, 6/14/22

Out the Window: hazy, hard-edged pale gray-blue skies with huge white puffs of tall-climbing cauliflower-clouds and super-high humidity. Meaning it’s going to rain this afternoon/evening. Again. It is the rainy season, after all. Yay?

On the Desktop: a small bowl of carrot bites. I’ve discovered that I like crunching things while I’m thinking my way through hard story bits, and carrots are the perfect thing! Also my water bottle, nearly empty. And a folder of pertinent novel notes and maps and such.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Today’s Work-in-Progess: I’m over halfway through my next novel, tentatively called “The Mastery Books.” It’s split alternating chapters of two POV characters, and I simply love them both so very much, although they’re also so different from one another.

This is the first time I’ve tried this new work process, and I have to admit that it seems to be working for me rather spectacularly (so far, fingers crossed!). I haven’t written a novel so fast and so painlessly ever before. We’ll see how it goes in edits, but I think this method I’ve stumbled on through trial and error (and error and error) may be the one I keep!

And Another Thing: We’re hip-deep in kitchen renovations! Which basically means I have no kitchen in the kitchen. It’s wallboard and cement, wiring, and right now, new tile floors being installed. Maybe tonight or tomorrow we can grout. (Grouting Day comes twice this year! My knees are complaining already.)

The fridge is in the living room, there’s a camp stove and the microwave out under cover in the lanai, and the dishwashing station is now the largest bathroom’s counter. It’s like camping, with dust and too many tools, inside your own house. (I highly recommend it to anyone who’s taking the conveniences of modern life for granted!) But when it’s functional again, and the pans, food, dishes, etc, are restored, the new kitchen will be wonderful and lovely. I just have to keep holding onto that dream until reality reaches it. (Hey, it’s kinda like writing, then, isn’t it! LOL)

Magic of the Everyday, orchids, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 2/9/22

Out the window: Sunshine and blue skies, with blissful cool temps of about 60° F. After our recent bout of below freezing nights, the garden plants are soaking up yesterday’s slow rain and today’s warm sunshine like the balms they are. Cardinals song punctuates the air, and the muted notes floating into my office are a soundtrack to spring burgeoning all around.

On the desktop: Right now, just water. But yesterday I brewed up a batch of chai base–the tea, honey, and spices without the milk–that I’ll mix with milk and either reheat or serve over ice later today, once I’ve accomplished some things. Small rewards really work for me.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  I have discovered the misery of query letters.

I’ve been working on this for over a week, tweaking, twisting, ripping out and replacing wholesale, or carefully excising with a scalpel–so many variations! And I still don’t think it’s “there” yet.

Yesterday I spent hours over on the Query Shark archive, and today I’ve been scouring the new site. Seriously, if you’re prepping to query agents to represent you and your novel, check these out. The information is there, clearly showing what to do and how to do it–and how not to!

Querying is its own thing, a very unique skillset of writing. Just like writing a good short story doesn’t mean you can write a good novel (or vice versa), having written a good novel does not mean you can easily write a good query. But queries are essential to getting agent representation, so…it’s time to roll up my sleeves and learn this skill.

And Another Thing: I’ve been running my orchids in and out of the house as the temps dip below 50°F then turn sunny and humid again for a day. As I moved one outside today, I felt something jump onto my hand and cling–and found an anole had been hiding in the orchid pot for 1.5 days inside my house! Fortunately, I was able to convince the poor thing that the grapefruit tree was a better perch than my hand (eventually).

And One More Thing: We just had a visit by Flat Stanley! He is a character from a children’s book that many teachers seem to love (it’s our second visit by a Stanley), and escorting Stanley around is a fun way to connect with where you live, and others around you. I had Stanley in my purse, and when the grocery store cashier saw him, she demanded I get a photo of Stanley with her in the store! That was so great. Even funnier was the look the bagger gave us, because she had no clue what was going on. I’m sure after I left the cashier filled her in–see, even more connections being made.

Thanks, Flat Stanley.

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”
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.

 

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.

 

conventions, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 6/8/20

Out the window: Thick gray and white massed clouds, misting rain, humidity, and yuck. Better than Saturday night’s tornado warning, at least!

sad face
After the Nebulas were over, Sad Writer is facing massive edits and structural work

On the desktop: a scattering of notes from the SFWA Nebula Awards Conference (which was held entirely online, and was simply amazing!), a water bill that I needed help decoding (I love it when the numbers simply don’t add up and you can’t even figure out how much to pay, don’t you?!?), various scene cards in states of revision, the residue both tears of rage and tears of frustration, which leave entirely different marks, trust me.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Breathing. Thinking hard thoughts. My novel’s early chapters are broken. They need revising, badly, and that may entail re-envisioning the entire first half of the novel. Ugh ugh ugh. I took a great risk going with the protagonist I chose, knowing it would be far too easy for this to fail, and it did. Now I need to go back to the drawing board to make it right. Wish me luck.

And Another Dozen Things: This year is a dumpster fire. It shouldn’t need saying, and yet it does: Black Lives Matter. Racial inequity and inequality are unjust and inhumane. COVID-19 is still a thing, so please please please stay safe, protect your health and the health of those around you as much as possible. Hurricane season is upon us, so please prepare and take precautions to stay safe, especially in light of the first two items above. Look out for your friends and neighbors. Be kind. Be generous. Breathe. Be.

And finally, if you missed out on the Nebula Awards Conference and wish you hadn’t, it’s not too late. You can still get a membership! All the panels were recorded, and the accompanying Slack is still live and active. Re-watch parties! Write-in dates! Camaraderie! Social networking! Also, through June, every 2020 Nebula Conference membership purchased “creates a seat for a Black writer. If you are a Black Writer, please email events@sfwa.org for instructions on how to register.”  Where is all this wonderfulness to be found? Right here!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 3/19/20

Out the window: Clear blue skies and oaks in greens shading from newly leafed spring green to a contented have-been-here-a-month-now darker green, while the grass is turning a crispy shade of tan.

On the desktop: oh what a mess! Notes, a water glass (it’s the dry season, and not only the grass gets crispy without hydration), a pack of gum, the dog’s toy (so he’ll just nap already!), about 15 gagillion notebooks (no I don’t have a notebook problem why do you ask?), more notes, a scattering of various pens, a to-do list, the type of toner cartridge my printer needs written on yet another note, printouts of chapters for editing, and a Lamy fountain pen containing beautiful Diamine Red Dragon ink.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  I’m doing another pass of Unspoken, this being the final one before beta (alpha?) readers get their hands on it. It’s nerve-wracking, seeing what you thought was “really good” writing at the time, and now seeing all the problems with it. Like, “What was I thinking, this is terrible and why didn’t I just do thing X here instead? The whole novel is a trashfire” type of problems.

And yet, my friends tell me this is completely warranted at this stage of writing. I’m sick of this book, seeing and reading the same stuff, over and over. And yet, I still love this world, and my characters, and…

I gave myself a break this past week. I worked on short story editing. It felt great. Like a huge breath of fresh air and energy. Subbed out a few shorts, and now have two stories on hold–YAY! “On hold” doesn’t always result in a sale, of course, so there’s still room for disappointment. But it did the trick and I feel ready to attempt novel edits with renewed enthusiasm.

And Another Thing: Novel corona virus. Social distancing. Isolation. Ugh. This stuff is real, and really bad. Wherever you are, I hope you stay safe and healthy. Wash your hands, please, and stay home whenever possible.

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk

Writer’s Desk, 10/22/19

Out the window lanai: High clouds quickly burning off as the sun’s glare rises above the treeline in the east, until they thicken to the west and flow back east, making the sun play hide and seek. Green, green everywhere, after the rains last night and yesterday’s sprinkles. And with the rising heat, the humidity is already beginning to feel oppressive. Birdsong and a jay’s scolding screech mostly mute the distant hum of traffic as I sit outside in the screen room this morning.

On the desktop: Since I’m outside, there’s a potted jade plant taking up much tabletop real estate. Other than that, this computer, two notebooks (one for the novel, the other holding today’s To-Do list), my glasses case, a book to read, and a pen. Pretty austere, but it’s all I need for now.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  I’m editing this draft of Unspoken, my novel-in-progress. I’m nearing the end of a rather large section that needed 100% new words, and am looking forward to faster progress once I burst through to the next “revision edit” section (instead of a “rewrite edit”). I made a rather significant plot change near the end of the last draft knowing this would entail some dramatically rewritten sections, and I don’t regret it in the least. Now I can see how much better the book is, how the character is gaining a clear arc, how the plot is moving along much more quickly. It’s both gratifying and motivating to see this happening; to have proof, of a sort, that my writing actually doesn’t suck–because, you know, writers are always fighting those Brain Weasels that tell them they’re the worst ever. Even once they’ve made it to full “active” SFWA membership.

Of course, the dog is another “work-in-progress” who demands attention, too. We’re a week post-surgery right now, and he’s not allowed to move. I carry him outside to pee and poop; he eats meals lying down in his crate; if I’m not there watching he has to wear the Elizabethan collar; he puts no weight on the leg that was operated on, and if he bends that leg much he’s in such pain he gasp-whimper-kreels until I can straighten it again. So, yes, divided attention.

And Another Thing: Supplies for the walls that will make our back yard terraced are supposed to start showing up today, and I can’t wait for this to begin–so it can end and I can actually have a usable back yard! The herbs and veggies I want to plant along the wall edges will make my gardening and cooking heart so happy! But, with the scattered showers we’ve had, and which are predicted for the next week, who knows if delivery will occur today or not. So, fingers are crossed but I’m not holding my breath.

Besides, it’s hard to type when your breath is held too long. lol

Happy Tuesday, y’all.