Personal Life, the dog, Writing

What? December? How?

Okay, so today I flopped the calendar page over and thought, “Gee, I just did this last week for November, didn’t I?” Obviously not. And yet, there is always something of a rush to the final months of the year, isn’t there? This year has been no exception.

First of all, I added to the chaos by signing up for a “Nearly NaNo” challenge with some of the folks I attended Taos Toolbox with two years ago. “Nearly” in that no, I didn’t want the insane 50,000 wordcount looming over me with everything else going on this month. But I do know that I normally slack off in November and December, so I wanted to push through those early writing doldrums. I decided on 20,000 words for a target, and 25,000 for a stretch goal. And, thanks to the accountability/challenge of the Google doc we kept for our daily wordcounts, I met my stretch goal! Woooo!

(To celebrate, yesterday I started work on a new short story. Ummmmm, I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work…)

With 10 days to go, the 3rd & Starlight Kickstarter is 68% funded! And did you notice that now, at the $70 EVERY HERO NEEDS ONE level, you’ll get a signed paperback copy of SIDEKICKS!, an anthology about (duh) the sidekick, edited by Sarah Hans and published by Alliteration Ink. SIDEKICKS! contains my story, “Worthy,” which is the page I’ll be signing for you. The level also includes paperback versions of 3rd & Starlight, 2nd & Starlight, and 1st & Starlight, as well as ebook versions of all three Starlight books! What a deal! But we’re not there yet, so please fund us and tell your friends! (And did you see that while not a reward yet, an audiobook for everyone who funds at $25 and above if the Kickstarter goes over the Kickstarter Goal is in the works…)

Of course, the dog didn’t idly sit by while all this was going on. No, of course not! My dog would never do that. He decided to break off a bit of his marrow bone, break that into smaller bits, and swallow them. Which resulted in his going to the emergency vet over the Veteran’s Day weekend for emergency endoscopy, where they went down his throat and pulled the bits out. Nothing like a bit of excitement while trying to focus, is there? I’m happy to report that the very next day, Dasher was running around like nothing had happened–which, for him, nothing had. He’d slept through the whole thing!

Meanwhile, the holidays are ramping up into full swing. This weekend we’re setting up our decor and lights, indoor and out. Cards have been written and are being mailed in bits and bobs, dribs and drabs, so as not to overwhelm the mail carrier all at once. Some gifts have even been purchased! Before you know it, I’ll be back here with a summary of the year that was 2017.

But not now, not yet. I have more days to go, and more writing to do. And a dog who will only get tennis balls, not marrow bones, to keep him busy.

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing

NovemberJoys

While the days get darker, and the nights get longer, this year I’m finding much to be happy about.

First of all, our new solar panels were turned on yesterday! I am overjoyed. From now on, seeing the sun shining in the clear sky will make me happy, regardless of how hot it may be. Our excess energy will backload into the grid, feeding our neighbors’ electrical needs, so let it shine, baby!

Next up: Today is Fountain Pen Day!

What, you didn’t know I’m a bit of a fountain pen freak? Well, I am. I’m not a “power user,” if there is such a thing. I’m not really a collector, even. I just have a few pens that I love to use, and I love looking at other pens–the beautiful ones, the stunning ones, the bright ones and the sleek ones. Old-fashioned or modern and new, fountain pens are beautiful.

A fountain pen is (or in my mind, should be) a work of art as much as a functional thing. If I merely wanted “functionality,” I’d use a cheap throwaway, right? But no. I want something pleasant to look at, something that feels right in my hand, and whose ink I can change to match my mood. And oh, the inks they make these days! Try looking at these. And that’s just one brand of ink at one retailer (a favorite retailer, I might add)! Check out the other brands there by clicking the “brand” on the left side. A couple favorites of mine are J. Herbin’s Stormy Gray, Pilot Iroshizuku’s Fuyu-gaki, and Diamine’s Eau de Nil. But there are so many more to try!

Thirdly, this is November, and for writers, November means NaNoWriMo–NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. I’ve never been much of a fan of this event. It’s just not my type of thing, and never really has been. I’m all for others doing NaNo, mind you; if it works for you, go for it! But I don’t do well chugging out words to meet an arbitrary word count in a long-haul kind of way. I get exhausted partway through, crash, then get depressed that I couldn’t “make my goal.” Bleah.

And yet…this year, I’m doing a modified version of NaNo, along with a group of like-minded friends. We’re calling it “Nearly NaNo,” and each of us has made his or her own private goal for the month. Since I’m already partway through a novel, my goal is another 20,000 words on this novel–not a crazy amount by any means, and utterly achievable IF I don’t slack off at the end of the month!

Cooler weather is another fine thing on this list of happy things. The AC is off, the windows are open. I’m even wearing sweaters in the morning. Sometimes long pants all day! Rotating to a new set of clothes–look! I can wear sleeves!–is such a joy. Enjoying long walks outside is even better.

Speaking of walks outside, don’t forget here in the US, on Sunday we roll back into Standard Time. Which, well, yeah. Time change is not something I’m happy about.

But so it goes. Happy November, all. Go write something with a pen today. Yes, by hand. Maybe sitting in a sunbeam at lunch. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Today's Desk, Writing

Writers Desk 5/18/17

Hey! Lookit here–something new? Oh, what? No, it’s an old feature resurrected. Like a zombie, but with words.

Out the window: Heat and humidity have draped the sky in a colorless high overcast. Breezes gust occasionally, drying out the plants even more, and even the wind feels hot. Ugh. The newly planted gardenias are drooping terribly, and I’m really hoping the weekend brings ALL THE RAIN.

On the desktop: A cup of everyday green tea. Scads of notes and notebooks, both for this book and the next one, and the notes from my recent trip to Paradise Lost. 3 x 5 cards, some with writing, some still blank and waiting.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Jessamin Stow, Book Three. Still.

I mean, yes, I love this. Honest, I do. but I’d hoped to be finished with it before Paradise Lost. Instead, due to so many things–Dasher and his ill health, my own ill health, home-life drama (let me tell you about the refrigerator dying suddenly, and the termites, and…)–well, I’m not done yet. And it’s making me crazy.

I’m kind of a stickler for making a schedule and sticking to it. None of this has gone to schedule, and it’s not a fun feeling. Which is only adding to my anxiety when it comes to sitting down to write, you know? (Ah, Impostor Syndrome, you know me so well.) The good news is that I’m so close to being done, I can practically taste it! Now to just do it.

And Another Thing: My next novel is all lined up and ready for me to get working on. I have a plot, and characters, and the basics of a world. I need to do more research on various things for world and culture building before I can get to writing the first draft, but OMG I am so excited at the prospect of this new novel!!!! It’s so shiny and fun and cool and I haven’t messed any of it up yet OH WOW!

But before that, I need to sip on some tea, calm down, and finish this novel before me. I got this.

Happy May, everyone.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life

April Update

I’ve been missing again–sorry. Life has taken a rather “full to the brim” tack, keeping me jumping.

First there’s been an injury to my knee–no surgery, thankfully, but it still hurts, and limits my motions and actions. I’m not good with this. 😦  Unfortunately, I’m learning.

A rare moment of peace in the sunshine, as Karla waits to steal the bone from Dasher.

Then we did a 2.5 week dog-sit stint. Karla is a pup, bouncy and active and big and strong; basically, all the things Dasher is not. They get along fine, mostly, but Karla sometimes forgets that Dasher’s “no” really means “no,” not “pester me until I give in.” And Dasher sometimes needed reminding that he really does need to share the toys, not need to possess whatever Karla wanted (and vice versa!). We also don’t have a fenced yard, and the dogs wouldn’t walk well together, so it was double dog-walking with a sore knee. Let me tell you, two weeks of this wore me out!

On top of this, the day Karla went home, I discovered termites! Not in the house, fortunately, but far too close by! They swarmed out of the raised garden’s vertical posts, blossoming up and out like endless dandelion seeds, their wings glinting white in the morning sunlight. Kinda pretty, actually, in the way a nuclear mushroom cloud from afar can be pretty. Formosan termites are destructive invaders, and I’ll be happy to see them gone!

Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom. Strawberries have been ripening in my garden, and the hummingbirds are back. The feeder is filled, and I’ve already seen them hovering there, sipping their fill. Also, my hibiscus are blooming once more, including the expensive true tropical I bought last year. It really suffered through winter, and I wasn’t sure it would make it, which made me very blue. But it’s popped back vigorously as recent temps have soared, and put out its first bloom. To top off the good news, yesterday it poured, raining for hours. We needed that rain so badly! Yay.

On the writing front, I’ve managed to keep writing most through all of this, but ran into a snag with the ending of the final Jessamin book. I needed a bit more oomph–action–going on. It was an easy thing to sketch out once I realized it, but it took me two days of struggling to write to realize what the problem was! I only needed to backtrack two scenes, restructuring them a bit to fit the new layout. It’s going well, and is sooo much more satisfying already.

On that note, I need a bit more “action” myself–on to writing fiction! Happy April, everyone, and if you’ve been having the terrible winter, Happy Spring, as well.

goals, Paradise Lost, Writing, Year in Review

Annual Statement of Goals, 2017 Edition

Ah, here we are sliding into the new year with nary a mistake dating a check or letter so far! This must be a good omen, right? That or my brain is setting me up for a massive fail later…which I wouldn’t bet against, but also which I won’t be thinking about just now.

It looks like last year worked out pretty well for me. My short story sales and submissions went down, because early on I focused on the novel(s), letting short fiction slide. It distressed me quite a bit–still does, in fact–because I’ve become used to the “instant gratification” of short story sales instead of the “delayed gratification” of novel writing. For the longest time, it seemed to me that I just wasn’t getting anywhere. It took my husband commenting that “you know, you didn’t get as many submissions or acceptances as you’d hoped, but look, you wrote two novels last year” before my brain realized that, duh, yeah, I hadn’t been lazy or non-productive. Just “differently productive.” And this year, last year’s productivity will come to fruition.

2016: Highlights in review

  • Submitted Book 1’s opening for Taos Toolbox
  • Accepted to & attended Taos Toolbox
  • Edited Book 1 prior to workshop
  • Edited Book 1 after workshop!
  • Revisited overall trilogy plot
  • Wrote Book 2
  • Wrote at least 8 new short stories (Gah! I never tallied those figures so I can’t tell you–or myself–exactly how many!), 6 of them in Codex contests.
  • Became a Writers of the Future Quarter 2 Finalist (!!!!!)
  • One new story sale, one story “near-sale” [market went on hiatus 😦  ]
  • 6 stories still on submission at the turn of the year.

So, here are my writing goals for 2017

  • Start Book 3 of my Jess Stow trilogy
  • Finish Book 3 of Jess Stow
  • Edit ALL BOOKS of Jess Stow, and send to editor
  • Final edits of entire trilogy
  • Get covers created (OMG–so exciting!!!!)
  • Publish Jess Stow books
  • Finish planning and plot-breaking Unspoken, my next, stand-alone fantasy novel
  • Start writing Unspoken
  • Participate in Codex short story writing contests for at least 5 new stories
  • attend Paradise Lost Writers Retreat

In fact, my advanced plan is to have Book 3 finished before Paradise Lost (end of April), which I can do if I average 5000 words a week on that novel. The Weekend Warrior contest is going on now, which takes a lot of my time over the next 5 weeks–but I’m still committed to this insanity plan. So you might not see me here or on any social media much until after Paradise Lost.

In other words, it’s going to be a busy year. I hope I come out at the end of 2017 as pleasantly surprised by my writing productivity as I was last year. And to you all, I hope the same. Happy reading, and happy writing!

 

goals, Paradise Lost, Writing Workshops, Year in Review

Welcome, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a lovely, peaceful holiday season, and are ready for the challenges and hopes of the coming year. Husband and I celebrated quietly, at home together–the first time we’ve done so in our adult lives. It was a marked change, and honestly, this year was a welcome one, as well.

In addition to celebrating the holidays, I kept writing, and I am pleased to announce that I met my goal of finishing Book Two of my YA urban fantasy trilogy on December 30th! Hurray! We celebrated by eating dinner out that night (more hurray!). Since then, I’ve taken a “vacation” from writing, simply enjoying long naps and late mornings, walking the dog and conversations with friends and family. Very nice. Even the weather has cooperated, staying partly sunny and above-average in warmth, so sitting outside feels perfect.

Later today, I start on Book Three, which is outlined and ready to go. And so am I! I’m excited to get on with Jess’s adventures, seeing and living the world through her eyes. She’s a witch, and one of my favorite parts is exploring her magic–how it works, what it does, how it feels. So much fun!

Once Book Three’s first draft is done, I get edit them all (as soon as I typed the final words on book two, my mind started thinking, “hmm, you know, I should really punch that up back there, and maybe over there, too. And if I only tweaked that, then this will really shine…”). And then, lo and behold…I’ll get to send them off to my editor, after which, I’ll edit again! 🙂 Eventually, though, they will be available–my goal is by the end of the year, but I’ll be sure to update you here before that point.

In addition to all this fun, I’ve started playing around with an idea for my next novel, a stand-alone secondary-world fantasy, currently using the working title of “Unspoken.” AND, I’ve registered for the Paradise Lost Writing Workshop, where I’ll not only see lots of writers I know from Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox, but get to meet other writers while we all work on our books and stories. I get a lot of “creative energy” out of these things, and really hope that Paradise Lost will help me plot-break “Unspoken,” so it’s ready to begin once the Jessamin Stow books are finished.

I’ll make my annual year’s end summary and new-year’s goals posting soon–probably later this week. But for now, I’m easing back into a normal working life again. Which means I need to get writing.

But first, for the coming year I wish all of you comfort in your souls, strength in your wills, and health. Blessings on us all.

goals, Personal Life, Writing

Lead-up to Thanksgiving: The Darkening

Lo and behold, we are falling towards Thanksgiving, and the ending of the year. What a year it’s been–especially these last few weeks.

The election–need I say more? I don’t think so.

The dog–I took Dasher to the vet, looking for a non-surgical aid, like a brace or a way to wrap with vet-tape his patella, to help fight his increased limping. I left with the news that his patella was fine, it was his other ACL that had torn, and thus he needed surgery once more. AND an MRI of his brain, since his seizures aren’t fully controlled. AND more blood tests. And I had a growing headache. (Can I say again how much I love love love Trupanion pet insurance? They haven’t faltered or balked once at repayment for this dog’s numerous, large vet bills.)

Now the surgery is behind us and he’s a month into recovery (and getting crazier by the minute!), the MRI is done and yes, they actually found a brain inside his skull–apparently one working just fine, BTW–while the blood tests are all out of whack, showing, well, who knows, exactly? No one, it seems, can figure this dog out. This has been his 5th surgery in two years, and I’m really hoping that we’re all done with those for quite a while. We all need time to just be healthy and normal.

Friends: a friend’s father died unexpectedly, and I traveled back to our childhood home for the funeral. I’m so glad I did, so glad to see and renew those relationships–but also sad that this is the only time we do these things anymore. And I’m unhappy that, this far from my friend, I really can’t help with much of anything that needs doing.

My own health: apparently I pulled or strained a muscle or tendon. Nothing huge, but I can’t sit cross-legged, or in many yoga poses, or sit on the floor to play with the dog, or kneel to weed easily…all those little things just add up. Now I’m getting physical therapy (sigh), which takes more time, but hopefully will get me back to normal life quicker than not. It’s not hard PT, it’s not a bad injury–it’s just one more aggravation when life is already full up with aggravations.

My writing: It isn’t going as fast as I’d like, because of all these things above (and the one below). I’m getting words done, making slow progress, but it feels sooooo sloooow. I am deeply frustrated by this. I’d planned on being finished writing Book 2 at this point in time, and instead, I’m only halfway through it. And now we’re moving into the time of year that writing takes a slow-down due to holidays and all that stuff. The Scrooge in me is lifting his head and taking a look around. Ba-humbug!

Health the Second: Also, all the above stressors are creating a backlash within me, flaring up my Hashimoto’s so that my body attacks my thyroid and I’m just…so…tired…all…the…time. Not good when you’re trying to catch up with life and writing on your return home. (heavy sigh) And stressing over that does less than no good–it only adds to the mess. But it’s hard to be patient with oneself, isn’t it?

So, this list of stuff is the bad, the things pulling me down. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’ll be doing another post soon, wherein I list the things that I’m glad for, that I’m thankful for. And I’m hoping it will be a bigger list.

 

goals, publication

That Good News…

Remember way back when–all the way back in June–when I mentioned good news I couldn’t share yet? Well, now I can: Fantasy Scroll Magazine is going to publish my SF story, “Catching and Letting Go” in their August edition!

Why yes, it is August already, so keep your eyes peeled for another update here, letting you know when it’s available. And as always, if you like Fantasy Scroll Magazine and the stories they print, please consider buying the issue. It helps keep my dog in biscuits and frisbees (sigh–he’s tough on frisbees).