conventions, Writing

Will I See You at the Nebula Awards Conference?

I’m really excited to be attending the virtual Nebula Awards Conference again this year. Last year was so much fun! This year I’ll be volunteering, so you might see me working as a Door Dragon, letting people into the Zoom suite, as well as wandering around the various “rooms” in my off hours. And of course, in the various panels and panel chats! Can’t wait to watch the newest Grand Master, Nalo Hopkinson, in conversation with Tobias S. Buckell on all topics writing.

I just updated my Zoom app to the latest version, but I’ll check once more just before the conference begins–basically, if you don’t have the latest version, you might need to back out of the reception area, update the app, then re-enter, in order to have a fully functioning experience and move about on your own. So don’t forget this, okay? But the Door Dragons will remind you to update if you can’t see certain things; it’s our job 🙂

I’m super excited by this year’s nominees, especially for “Open House on Haunted Hill”, by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20), since John attended Viable Paradise with me. And over in the novelette category, there’s “Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super”, by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 5-6/20)–and she’s just a super wonderful person who happens to be in a small Slack group with me, and John, and a host of other super cool people! I’m so excited for each and every success of those in this tight-knit little group, and hope for many, many more in the future.

That’s it for now, peoples of the internets. Keep reading, keep writing, keep enjoying life!

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”
food, Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, publication, the dog, Writing

Hello again, hello!

It’s been a year, hasn’t it?

I’ll just leave it at that. We all know what we’ve been through, and I don’t feel like re-hashing every nasty blow and tanking all our fragile moods by doing so. So, let’s move on the next thing, shall we?

It’s a gray and rainy day here, and a bit cool (for us) with off-and-on showers coming throughout the day, and tomorrow, too. Rather a relief, honestly, as we’d been heading into drought-like conditions. But now my veggies and fruits are breathing a sigh of relief (as is my water bill-avoidant self!), and the grass is growing lush and green. The dog is a bit miffed that his sunbeams aren’t available on the lanai for his snoozing enjoyment, but I think he’ll survive, the poor dear, with an extra treat and an extra snuggle on the sofa.

Right now, I’m taking advantage of the cool to make a big batch of chicken stock, which I’ll can later. I can’t believe we were out, but the pantry was bare of chicken stock. Not for long! Afterwards, I’m hoping to make a bunch of Jasmine madeleines, a recipe I’ve been longing to make for a couple years, since I found the recipe in a Thai cookbook, in the “Thai Influences” section. I had to order jasmine extract from online, and it just got here a few days ago, so I’m eager to try them out. (I’ve been making that recipe using coconut extract instead, and it was very, very good.)

I’ve been making baby quilts, and finished one, which has arrived to it’s new tiny owner. The next one is nearly done–only the binding needs to be appliquéd onto the backing, and a label attached. The third, fortunately, isn’t due until July. And it hasn’t been started yet. I’ve gathered images for the pattern, at least!

Oh, writing? Well, yes. Of course. I’ve been struggling, along with so very many others, when it comes to motivation in isolation. But I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel–HURRAY! Then I can set the whole thing aside for a few weeks and work on something else while I let the draft sit and think about what it’s done! Or, more seriously, while I consider how much further editing it needs and if I need to continue with it or trunk it. Right now, I’m in no proper headspace to decide that.

I’ve started the process of working out my next project, and I’m pretty happy with the work on it, so far. Working on this is my treat for finishing my daily output on the first novel, so I don’t get carried away and forget the “work” for the “shiny.” (Always a fear, for me).

And to end this catch-up post on a high note, I’ve sold a short story! The next issue of Speculative North will include a story of mine that I love so very much. I can’t tell you how glad I am that it’ll be out in the world at last! I’ll give you more news nearer to the release date, of course. Good news is meant to be shared!

To close, I’ll leave you with a picture of Dasher napping inside, for a change:

Making do with a carpet inside, without a sunbeam. Die arme Hündlein!

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.

 

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!