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.

goals, Magic of the Everyday, Writing

Spring Changes

This week, the sandhill cranes have been gathering into great flocks that swirl up the late morning thermals into the higher altitudes, their melancholy voices calling and overlapping into a overwhelming, bittersweet chorus as they begin their long journeys northwards. Yesterday morning, the far end of the alley, where the trees are thickest, was overrun with robins. Hundreds of them, chirping and calling and catching every bug they could find before they, too, flew off in loose groups of tens and twenties for their northern mating grounds.

My windows are open all night, and local strawberries are in at the farmers’ market. On the afternoon dog walk, we seek out the shady path instead of the sunny one. And the plum tree has burst into fluffy white bloom, promising another bumper crop come summer. Even the wee new blueberry bushes are in blossom!

Plum tree in blossom

It’s official, then. Spring is here. The groundhog was right. Despite the snow and ice still plaguing the north, the birds are flying spring up to you.

Spring is a season of change. Of renewal and rebirth. And in that light, I have some news of a wonderful change in my life: I have been accepted as an Active Member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America! This has been a goal of mine for a very long time, and I’m thrilled to be able to join this organization, and to nominate and vote on the Nebula Awards!

publication, Writing

Story Release Day for “Cold Currents”

Happy New Year!

For me, 2019 is immediately looking up, because today my short story, Cold Currents, is available at Abyss & Apex Magazine. It’s very short, but very special to me. Let me tell you why.

Over on Codex, where I’m a member, there are a number of flash-fiction writing contests each year where contestants are given prompts and have a short amount of time to write a new tale. This story started here, with the prompt being “Interview an older generation relative and write a story around something you learn from them.” Well, at first I thought that prompt was out for me, since all my older relatives are gone. My siblings and I are now the eldest of our tribe.

But then I remembered that my sister had, just two weeks before, sent me a clipping she’d found from an old newspaper. It turns out that our maternal grandfather, a fireman in Toledo, Ohio, had jumped into the river to save a potential suicide’s life. I’d never known this about him–none of us had. Grandpa had died when I was just three.

Now I really wished I could talk with him and find out why he’d done this. The clipping had plagued me, so I decided to write this story using that clipping as my “interview.”

I changed a whole lot, of course. My grandfather’s background was German, but his name was Arthur, not Otto. And as far as I know, no one in my family has committed suicide, thankfully, although there is a streak of depression running through us.

This story is also special because it marks my first “repeat performance,” and at a market I love. A definite Writer’s Career Bingo square, if not two.

So there you have it. A chance bumping together of a story prompt and an unexpected, yellowed newspaper clipping about my grandfather’s young days on the fire squad brings about my first repeat sale to a market.

Here’s hoping the year only goes up from here. Wishing you hope, health, and happiness in 2019.

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.

Reading, signal boosting

How to Help Plasma Frequency Come Back

Awhile back, a terrible thing happened: Plasma Frequency Magazine had its coffers cleaned out in a scam.

After 16 issues and winning many awards, the magazine was broke and put on hiatus. But the publisher isn’t walking away. He’s running a Kickstarter for another 18 days, trying to raise funds for another year of publication. It’s a very modest goal, and as I type this he’s nearly there–just $150 shy of meeting his goal. Can you chip in a few bucks and help throw this great little ‘zine over the edge into the black? I hope so. I love what they’ve published to date, and want to see them continue. The Kickstarter runs until Oct 22, and there are some very nice pledge rewards, if you’re into them. Give it a look-see, and spread the word, won’t you?

Good luck, Plasma Frequency!

publication, signal boosting, Writing

My First Author Interview!

Each week, Michael J. DeLuca (guest-editor of LCRW #33) is posting an interview of one of his authors on his blog. Mine is up today! There are two other interviews before mine, and more to come after, so if you’re interested in those sharing the Table of Contents with me, read on! (I’m finding it fun and fascinating.)

If you’re finding me through that interview, hello and welcome to my online home. Feel free to leave a note; as always, comments are on.

food, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 6/3

I’ve got nothing else exciting going on, so here: look at my desk!

Out the window: A vivid aquamarine sky with white puffs of clouds. Palms swaying in the gentle breeze, and a hummingbird getting annoyed by my motions. Why can’t I just hold still and let her (no red throat) feed?

On the desktop: A mug of water, as usual. Sen Cha Green Tea Mints (gluten free!). And a really terrible sugar cookie with “key lime” icing. So sweet! So bland. But I’m eating it. (sigh)

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Editing short stories, written during the novel’s first draft and then left to languish, into something resembling submittable forms. Today I’m focusing on two, both of which started life as flash fiction, and only one of which will remain flash (maybe). The other will be closer to 2,000 words. I love them both.

One is SF, the other fantasy. I love both sub-genres within spec fic, and can’t stick to just one. I’m still not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing that will have no bearing on anything. I’ll let you know when (if) I find out.

During this year so far, I’ve written (but not edited to submittable) ten short stories. My goal is 12 edited and submitted. I also finished the novel, am planning the short novel series that I’m hoping to begin writing later this year, and will start editing the novel in late July or August. So, while it sounds like I’m so far ahead and how amazing is that, really, I’ll barely have time to get it all done if I don’t get my tail in gear.

I realize that I really missed getting short stories out for submission during the novel’s writing. Finalizing a short story and sending it out for beta, and then onto submission rounds, feels like “instant accomplishment.” Writing a novel? Delayed gratification. Neither is better, but I think I need a balance of the two to prevent myself from getting too ansty. Next time, I’ll do better. I promise.

And Another Couple of Things:  Dasher’s swimming has progressed to the point where he sometimes goes in for a swim just because he can. Or because it’s hot and he wants to cool off. And he swims like a champ, not a rock. Sometimes he launches himself off the step, chasing the frisbee with such enthusiastic force that he makes a wave, and leaves a wake. (Insert proud dog-mom face here)

Also, the garden is going gangbusters. Tomatoes like…um, delicious ripe tomatoes. And more basil than I can keep up with. I’ve already frozen some pesto for when it all goes limp and gives up (sometime in August?).  At the farmers’ market, there are eggplants to make you weep. Can you say “eggplant parmesan?” Yum.

Which brings me to dinner. Off I go. Happy June, everyone!

Writing

Squee Alert!

joyous leapI finished the first draft of my novel today! 

/collapses back onto chair–squees with joy–collapses deeper in exhaustion/

It feels so good to be done with the first draft, for numerous reasons:

  • It’s an accomplishment, one I’ve been heading towards for a year! Getting here feels great.
  • It’s a relief. I had planned on it’s first draft only taking 90-120 days, but life imploded, slowing everything. And I discovered I hadn’t planned as well as I thought, necessitating extended writing near the ending. (Much of what I wrote near the beginning will be cut.) Wordcount blossomed into a veritable Jack’s beanstalk. So the “unending novel,” as it came to be known, kind of ate my writing life.
  • It’s a joy, for now I can move on with other projects that have been stalled or impatiently waiting their turns for my full, undivided attention as I lavished nearly all my writing time on the novel. Like what? Editing contest stories written to first-draft form to an actual submission state. Upping my submission count, which has fallen perilously low. Finalizing the plan for the series that I want to write and probably self-pub. Keeping up with slush reading. Finishing the online writing class I’m taking. Resting my brain before diving into novel editing (which will be significant).
  • For a short, short while, it’s one more thing off my attention radar. I’ve been struggling to maintain equilibrium with both life and writing of late, and this gives me a wee bit more breathing room without me feeling like I’ve “dropped the ball” on anything. Or disappointed myself.

In celebration, I’m officially giving myself the weekend off! Ooh, and it’s a long weekend, as well. What nice timing for lots of rest and lazing in the sunshine.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! 🙂