Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing

…Please Pause…

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.”

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.

Writing

Halfway Through November’s NaNoWriMo; How’s It Going?

I know, I can’t quite believe it either, but here we are at November 15. Halfway through the month, and for those doing NaNoWriMo, panic may be setting in.

I’m not exactly doing NaNo–it doesn’t fit with my way of writing, and would just frustrate the crap outta me. Combine that with some serious home stresses right now, and well. Recipe for disaster, anyone?

Still, I have a goal for this month. I’m doing deep revision on this novel, and the goal is to get through the “giant swampy middle,” otherwise known as Act 2, by the end of the month. I’m a tad behind, but only a little bit, so I’m not really concerned. Instead, I’m kind of surprised I’m not more behind than I am–which means I’m actually quite pleased! So … wow. I’m making this happen after all! Go me. 🙂

And if you’re doing NaNo, good luck. Don’t panic. Not “winning” NaNo doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or not a writer. It just means that, like me, NaNo isn’t for you. Just keep writing, at your own pace. Good luck.

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!

review, Writing

“Cold Currents” gets a Review

Locus Magazine short fiction reviewer Karen Burnham took a look at the January edition of Abyss & Apex Magazine, wherein my flash fiction story, “Cold Currents,” is published. I’m really pleased to say it was one of three stories that stood out enough for her to review. (It’s in the print edition on pg 40)

The highlight of the review states my story is “an intense piece of flash fiction” and that “The rapidly evolving sensations from [the narrator’s] POV make good use of the short format.”

As you can guess, this delights me. I’m also pleased to pass along kudos to this edition’s other two authors and stories favorably reviewed here: “Exactly What You Need” by Brandon Crilly, and “Adrift” by Wayne Martin. Go give them a read!

Writing

2019 Nebula Nominees

Congratulations to the latest Nebula Award nominees. Since I’m a member of SFWA now, I was able to nominate, and it’s a real thrill to see some of my nominees on this list. Congrats to all!

2018 Nebula Award Finalists

 

Novel

The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)

Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)

Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)

Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)

Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

 

Novella

Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)

The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)

The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)

Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)

Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

 

Novelette

The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)

“An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)

“The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)

“The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)

“Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

 

Short Story

“Interview for the End of the World”, Rhett C. Bruno (Bridge Across the Stars)

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)

“Going Dark”, Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear)

“And Yet”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 3-4/18)

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/6/18)

“The Court Magician”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 1/18)

 

Game Writing

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)

The Road to Canterbury, Kate Heartfield  (Choice of Games)

God of War, Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog, Orion Walker, and Adam Dolin (Santa Monica Studio/Sony/Interactive Entertainment)

Rent-A-Vice, Natalia Theodoridou (Choice of Games)

The Martian Job, M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)

 

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy”, Written by: Megan Amram

Black Panther, Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

A Quiet Place, Screenplay by: John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Screenplay by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman

Dirty Computer, Written by: Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning

Sorry to Bother You, Written by: Boots Riley

 

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult
Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)

Aru Shah and the End of Time, Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents)

A Light in the Dark, A.K. DuBoff (BDL)

Tess of the Road, Rachel Hartman (Random House)

Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)

Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, Henry Lien (Henry Holt)