Personal Life, the dog, Travel

A Breath of Fresh Air

Last year, friends of ours in Hamburg got married. They’d planned a large fête, and we’d planned on attending. Then COVID arrived, and didn’t leave.

They got married, but postponed the celebration. Earlier this year, in the wake of vaccinations, they rescheduled their celebration, but on a smaller scale. We dreamed of packing our bags. And then the Delta variant arrived.

Nonetheless, they kept their plans intact. They monitored the situation like hawks eyeing rabbits, and it seemed okay on their end–Germany’s numbers declined greatly after vaccinations rolled out, and didn’t spike as hard with Delta as we did in Florida (well, duh!–hardly anyplace did that!). We decided that being double-vaccinated and wearing N95s on the journey would keep our risk low enough, so we packed our bags and went!

Us with the “newly” married couple

Reader, it was glorious! Fall was just dipping the temps to bliss (for me at least, previously being stuck in the sweltering heat and continuing humidity of central Florida’s September), so Spousal-Unit and I got to wear long pants, long sleeves, and yes, even socks! Nighttime temps dipped to the low 40’s F, and days mostly hit around 68 F, with partly sunny skies making it neither too hot nor too cold for all the walking and walking and walking we did. Have I mentioned the walking? I love being outdoors, and Florida summers are really tough on me. Even going outside at night is difficult as most parks close at dusk (due to alligators, snakes, and biting bugs), and even my yard is a no-go zone then (FL bugs think I’m delicious, unfortunately; I just itch.).

Low clouds scudding over the Rhine River
The Kettensteg in Nürnberg, at night

The restaurants and markets were full-on autumn, with chanterelle mushrooms, a variety of pumpkins (mmm that soup), the last of the vivid tomatoes, leeks, and so much more. It’s a good thing we walked as much as we did, honestly.

It was hard to come home, but my dog was waiting for me, so we undertook the 23-hour journey home and crashed into bed, only to rise the next morning and drive 4.5 hours roundtrip to pick up said Dasher. (Yes, he was worth it–especially him cuddling us both all that night, trying to make sure we didn’t leave him again.)

I’m glad we went. I’m super glad we all stayed healthy. But it’s also good to be home, and get back to writing.

Until next time!

publication, Writing

“Terraforming a Heart” is Published!

Yes, that’s right! My story is up now at Nature: Futures, and you can read it here. And as usual, the artwork paired with the story is perfect. ❤

I promised you a wee bit more info on the story, even though there’s the “story behind the story” bit at the end. So, what have I got?

This story, like so much of my flash fiction, is the result of a flash fiction writing contest over on Codex. And it wasn’t the first niggling story idea, or even the second one, that developed into this story, but the third one! Which just goes toward proving that one’s first idea isn’t necessarily the best. It can be hard to press on after story ideas, especially with a fast deadline for a contest, but it pays off. My first ideas are usually not right, either too expected and unoriginal, or just not interesting. But around idea 3, or 5, I start getting the hang of it, and my creativity shows up, having been woken at long last.

After the contest, the story went through a couple more rounds of editing to prune out words and fit Nature’s tight wordcount requirements, and to hone in on the point of the story and clear up confusion. And then, sucking in a great breath, I formatted it, exported it, and submitted it–it’s still a hard thing to do, hitting that “send” button. Even after all this time.

So many times, a story comes back rejected. But once in awhile, like this time, you get that wonderful acceptance, and the day turns golden and rosy-hued, and you know once again why it is you’re writing. Because somewhere out there, someone actually likes what you’re saying. Maybe they need to read it, the way I used to “need” the books and stories I read as a kid, and the ones that sometimes even today punch into a topic or trope that I’ve been grinding my teeth over. And having read those words, I feel lighter. Seen, and understood. The world begins to make sense as my outlook changes, hopefully for the better.

Thanks for reading, and looking at the world from my point of view.

Nature, publication

Sale and Quick Publication!

I have amazingly awesome news: the scientific journal Nature has accepted one of my flash stories for publication in their “Futures” department–this upcoming Wednesday, August 18!

As you might remember, I sold them a story last year; “What You Do For a Friend” ran in Nature’s Futures, on July 22, 2020. So, almost a year later, another sale to this wonderful market is making me very happy indeed. (You can read about that sale on my blog here.)

This time, the story is titled “Terraforming the Heart,” and yes, it deals with a future terraforming contest. I liked the story when I wrote it, and think its message only applies even more now. Of course I’ll provide a link when the story goes live, and a wee bit of backstory about the writing.

Until then, have a good, safe weekend!

goals, Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Writing

Finished! And Starting a New Novel.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Great news: I finished the draft of the *&*%) Novel, and have sent it off to my beta readers/crit group. In five weeks, I’ll hear from them what they think. (Commence nail biting…)

In the meanwhile, I’m far from resting on my laurels. No indeed. While I’m now working on my agent submission schedule, and things like synopses and query letters (omg how awful these are!), I’m also doing something entirely more fun–starting on a new novel!

This one is going to be contemporary fantasy (instead of secondary world, like the first). And set in a really cool place, too (sorry, mum’s the word for now. I don’t like sharing too much until I’m much more firmly in place with my writing, and planning.) I’ve just now finished the full plot outline, and man is this one going to be fun to write! I love the characters so much, and even the bad guys are interesting. At one point, I texted a writer-friend and whined, “How do I let the protagonists win when I’ve so fully stacked the deck against them?!? Ahhhhhh, I don’t know!”

But now, with some helpful prodding by said friend, I’ve figured it out. As always, some bits were serendipitous, little things that just fell into place because of what I’d determined before, but seemed so well planned. (Thank you, subconscious brain!) Other bits, like the ending, were so harrrrd to wrestle into place.

It’s not entirely done. I still have plenty of brackets in the outline, like this:

“They then do [some cool things], but things don’t go entirely as planned [how? What fails?].”

So I’m not ready to start drafting just yet. But I’m getting close! And it’s just such a palate-cleanser from the last novel. Something new and juicy and not yet slogged through four times in a row. With luck, this means that when I get feedback on Novel the First, I’ll be able to look at it with refreshed eyes, and in a mood to rip right on into the work and send it out! (Heh, cross your fingers on that, okay?)

In other news, I have moved so much mulch! It has to be done before 10 am, when the temps and humidity and sunlight combine to make life utterly miserable for the rest of summer. Yesterday, for example, hit a high of 101F, and the humidity made it seem like my lungs were working double and my muscles were wilting on the afternoon (VERY short) dog walk. But the gardens are looking great!

Not so great is the front yard, where a mole has taken up residence and keeps lifting up tunnels that I, daily, sometimes 2 or 3 times daily, smash back down. We play frisbee with Dasher there, and if he steps on one and falls through, he could easily break a leg. Even if he doesn’t, jolting his limbs like that really hurts, since his arthritis is so bad. But he is not about to give up his 15 minutes of frisbee–not for heat, not for moles, not for anything. So here I go, smashing down mole tunnels.

That’s it for now. The afternoon storm has arrived in force. Lightning cracks and whitens the outside as rain sheets against the window, and the lawn outside. Time for a cup of tea, and a good book…

publication, the dog

Announcing a New Sale!

It’s not exactly “new” news anymore, but now that the Kickstarter has funded (and Dasher’s health has taken a break from crises), I can share–without fear of jinxing–that a story of mine will appear in the debut issue of ScienceFictionry Magazine!

This is a double-whammy of a delight. I mean, any sale is a delight, of course! But a sale to a debut issue is an extra Bingo Square in the game of writing goals, you know? At least, it is for me. This is the first time it’s happening for one of my stories, and I’m thrilled.

Oddly, it’s also “weird-ening” too, in that the site makes it look like I’m somehow a “big deal.” I sure don’t feel like a big deal (actually, I know I’m just a tiny, bitty deal), and I greatly doubt that anyone would mistake me for one. But their presentation of the writers in this debut is very lovely, and makes us all look like the professionals we’re hoping to be. [Or maybe that’s just me, and the rest are all old pros at this already? (Well, looky-look, if it isn’t my old companion, Impostor Syndrome, come for another lengthy visit…)]

The magazine’s first issue should be available to the public in August, and naturally I’ll give you a head’s-up that it’s out. I can’t wait to read the issue and see what wonders my fellow TOC-mates have written! I hope you’ll give it a read, too. Magazines without readers don’t last, after all.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Dasher napping inside, safe from the rain and thundershowers passing by:

Snuggly boi

Personal Life, Writing

World Postcard Day is October 1

 

Postcrossing postcard image front designI 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.

 

publication, Writing

Publication Day! “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” is live today at DSF!

What a great thing to wake up to on a stiflingly humid Monday morning! My story, “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” went up as today’s story at Daily Science Fiction. Oddly enough, this sold before “What You Do for a Friend,” but that’s kind of typical–there is no known rhyme nor reason to when stories get published after a sale, and you can only make yourself crazy trying to figure one out.

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!

 

publication

Sale to DSF!

Now that the ink is dry, I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold my second flash fiction story to Daily Science Fiction‘s online magazine! I don’t have a publication date yet, but “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” will be published there within a year’s time, and I’ll be sure to update you when it’s available to read!

Or you could subscribe to DSF and find out even earlier–it’s free, after all. And if you’re feeling the love for the stories you read there, you could tip them a small monetary contribution to help keep them up and running, and keep the good stories coming your way.

That’s it for now. I’ll make my usual “behind the story” post here once the story is up. Until then, stay home, wash your hands, stay safe.