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?
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!
I know it’s nearly a “lost art,” but the humble postcard is 150 years old this year, and the world is celebrating that with the first-ever World Postcard Day. Postcard fans like me will be celebrating by, what else, sending postcards!
Over at Postcrossing.com’s blog, there’s a design you can print yourself, if you’d like; both sides, or just one–your choice. And they also have a teacher’s packet for incorporating into schooling. Naturally, you can sign up with Postcrossing (it’s free!) to exchange postcards around the world all year long. There’s more fun going on at 150 Years of Postcards. And over at Christopher Arndt Postcards, they have their own postcard design already printed and for sale.
Of course, you don’t need any special postcard to celebrate World Postcard Day. Any card will do. Just write one, and send it–and voila! You’re part of the celebration.
What’s the big deal with postcards? Well, for me, with COVID-19 keeping me home and preventing the travel I love and crave, postcards a great way to armchair travel, and treat others to similar “travel,” without leaving home. It’s a sheer delight to go to my mailbox and find a postcard from some wonderful part of the world awaiting me–or three! And on Postcrossing, I’ve gotten delighted thanks for the cards I’ve picked out specially for each individual, or the stamps, or both. (yes, getting cool stamps from the post office is another thing you’ll start to do–and why not? they cost the same as the boring ones!) Getting and bringing joy in one small step. Honestly, it’s an amazing boost for such a small investment. These days, I need all the joy I can find.
This story started out, as so many do, as a Codex contest story. One of the prompts was, quite literally, the first line: who figured it out first? And then, all I had to do was figure out what they figured out, and who they were. And why it mattered. You know, the little stuff 😉
Oh, and one more tiny little secret about it? The name Jancy? It came from a vet’s office nearby. I’d always liked that name, wondered about it–and for this story, it simply popped into my head. It’s one thing that never changed, through all the edits.
Anyway, I’m really pleased with this one. It’s one of my favorite stories that I’ve written, so I hope you enjoy reading it. And if you can, go ahead and tip DSF a little bit, okay? The reason the story is there is because they paid me for the right to publish it. Thanks, and happy Monday to you, too!
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.
I found a fantastic email awaiting me this morning: I’ve already signed and returned the contract, so now I’m absolutely delighted to tell you that I’ve sold a story to Nature’s Futures!
“Wait, to whom?” I hear you asking. Let’s look at this. From their website, “Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.”
So yes, this is primarily a non-fiction publication catering to those in the scientific fields. But here’s where my sale comes in: Nature has a special section, called Futures, that publishes flash fiction of a scientific nature–Science Fiction, simply put. Stuff to make you think, ponder the future, and maybe let us consider the route we chose to get to that future.
Now back to the squee: a sale to this market has been a dream of mine for some time. I really love the stories they publish, and being read by scientists, I mean…what’s not to love about that? It’s pretty awesome, and I’m still floating on cloud 9.
I don’t have a publication date yet, but I’ll be sure to update this blog once I have it. Until then, wheeeeeeee! Happy Monday!
Out the window: Thick gray and white massed clouds, misting rain, humidity, and yuck. Better than Saturday night’s tornado warning, at least!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to register.” Where is all this wonderfulness to be found? Right here!
That kind of feels like what my brain is saying in regards to “the new normal” of living life alongside/with a pandemic. I am healthy. So far, my family and close friends are all healthy (or at least not suffering from COVID-19 symptoms). But my brain is “noping out” of serious stuff right now, apparently filled to overflowing with dread and malaise from keeping up with the news.
In practical terms, this means my brain refuses to let me work on my novel. Working on novel edits requires a massive amount of “holding stuff in my head” in order to keep moving forward: each character’s arc, the plot arc, the overall scene goal, the chapter goal, the corrections currently necessary to each of the previous, the finer points of wordsmithing, AND the ability to mark something for later attention.
And I just…can’t. It’s too much right now, too overwhelming.
And while that’s okay, it’s not okay for me to stop writing altogether. I don’t want to do that, or to let even these circumstances control me so much. Instead, I’ve returned to short fiction. I’ve had several dozen short stories languishing in various stages of (in)completion, and added more to that number in January, when I participated in another Weekend Warrior flash fiction contest over on Codex. These stories, along with previous years’ stories, have been begging for revision, for editing and refining and rewriting before they can achieve a story’s ultimate goal: submission to market. And that’s what I’m doing.
This is the exact type of challenge I need. Each story is short, far smaller in scope than a novel, and thus easier for me to hold all the parts in my head. Also, each story can be completely reworked in a matter of days, so I get a rush of much-needed endorphins to propel me into the next story. And I can work different stories on different days, changing tone or genre or sub-genre depending on my ever-shifting mood and the mood of the world happening around me.
It’s been a great change for me, and has re-invigorated my writing practice. I’ve sent out more stories in 3 weeks than in the previous seven months, when I’d been exclusively noveling. In fact, right now I’m sitting on some really good news–but until contracts are signed, it’s got to remain my little secret. Just know that I’m holding something shiny and new against my heart, waiting to share it all with you as soon as I can.
Be safe, everyone. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Stay at home to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the health and safety of healthcare workers and first responders who are unceasing in their efforts to save as many lives as they can. Be good to each other, and to yourself. To quote from The Red Green Show, “We’re all in this together.”