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.

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.

Personal Life, the dog

Quick Update

I’ve been missing again, and here’s why: Dasher is sick. And we don’t know with what/why.

He’s had laparoscopic surgery to assess his liver, and take samples for biopsy. Those reports aren’t back yet. He’s lethargic–expected with his liver not working very well–but not jaundiced, and no longer anemic (the liver fortifying drugs at work?). It’s hard to see him, a mere three years old, acting so frail and old and doddering. His anti-seizure meds are being changed to give him ones that are less taxing on the liver, which is good, but which also runs the risk of upsetting the delicate balance and his having a seizure during the transition.

So, I’m writing in the corners of time around dog-care. Caring for Dasher is my priority, and otherwise dealing with life comes next. But I’m not having much excess time for blogging, or hanging out on social media. Bear with me, please. I’ll be back. And when I am, I hope I’ll have more good and fun news to share.

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, 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, Rejection, Writing

Believable…

And I’m a Finalist in Writers of the Future Q2, but not a Winner. Which is sad, but not heart-wrenching. I mean, I never expected to make it to Finalist (Woo-hoo!), but somehow my story did.

And yet, it would’ve been nice…

There is still a glimmering of hope, however. I’ve agreed to hold my story for possible inclusion as a “Published Finalist.” Which means that if they need more words to fill the anthology, my story can still be considered for it. So, actually, it’s not quite all over for me.

Good luck to the three Winners from this quarter! And to all the other Winners from the other quarters of Volume #33, as well as to the others vying for Published Finalist. It’s been an awesome ride with you all to this point.

Taos Toolbox, Writing Workshops

Workshop Round-Up

I returned home from 2 weeks at Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop on Sunday, dragging and tired. My dog hasn’t left my side or my lap since. (It’s nice to be loved, but really? Still, he’s on my lap sleeping now, as I type this, so I guess I missed him just as much.) Fortunately for both the dog and me, husband-dearest caught me out of my freefall and helped me settle my feet firmly onto home ground again.

How was it? Amazing. Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress each know more about publishing and writing than any five other folks, and their advice was wonderful and specific. The guest lecturers–James S.A. Corey and Emily Mah Tippetts–also had great insights for us, which we ate up like tasty petit fours. Daniel Abraham’s talk on success vs failure was a perfect fit; while some of my classmates found it depressing, I found it liberating and uplifting.

My classmates were wonderful and extremely talented, kind and funny, critical and yet supportive. I’m sure you’ll be seeing them in print and publication soon! Some are self-publishing already! (You can see our class photo at Walter’s website, and soon in Locus magazine.) My roommates were a joy to be around. (*waves hi!*  Miss you guys already!) Conversations about writing took place in the classroom, in the resort lobby, in our rooms, in the hot tub and pool, in cars, on the mountainside, on the roads, and are probably still echoing in the halls we’ve left behind.

Speaking of which, their new location at Angel Fire Resort was beautiful! Three of us took the chairlift to the summit of Angel Fire and hiked down during our Sunday off, and found it gorgeous and exhilarating. But why hike down, you ask? Well…I found out that altitude sickness was a real and actual thing that can whoop your butt. And it did whoop mine. Be forewarned, and if you’ve lived your whole life near sea level, arrive early! Your body and brain will thank you for it.

For two weeks, we students got to live, breathe, eat, and sleep words. We read and critiqued, we wrote. We discussed ideas. And I got to write down snippets of funny things said, especially out of context, as I’m going to present them here:

“We didn’t have a day before yesterday.”

“There are actually things in the first chapter I like.”

On the Oxford comma:
Student: But what about editors who tell you to take it out?”
Instructor: “That’s what ‘STET’ is for.”

“I’m enjoying it, but possibly I’m enjoying what’s going on in my head and not what you’ve written down.”

“Oh, you’re the one with the writing.”

“Most manuscripts aren’t smelly enough.”

“So you’re saying ‘horror’ is undead?”

“I hate words.”

“OK. That’s hard to follow.”

“You need to build the world more before you destroy it.”

“It just seemed like there should be more paragraphs?”

“I like it when Science Fiction novels encourage the metric system.”

“Yeah, what they all said.”

“I have a high tolerance for things that don’t make sense.”

“You want a light spice here, not Sriracha.”

“It had all the excitement of trying to remember where your car was parked.”

“Ditto everything, but with some ‘buts.'”

 

Personal Life, signal boosting, Writing, Writing Workshops

The Sound of Writing

There’s always a lot of conversation about what one listens to while writing: movie soundtracks, tunes that evoke the mood of your scene, classical, absolutely nothing at all…the list goes on and on. Basically it comes down to “whatever works for you,” of course. And here’s what works for me: anything without words I understand, or with a presence that will pull me out of writing-trance. In other words, nothing intrusive.

Sometimes, that means “nothing at all” is perfectly fine; I’m at home, the world outside is all birdsong and insect drone (or rain patter and wind moan), and I can write without interruption. Other times, however, I need to drown out the world–loud coffeeshop conversations (or crappy coffeeshop music), or the annoying whine and scream of leaf blowers and chainsaws, or whatever. At those times, I have a couple of options.

Option One is a playlist I’ve made that contains “background music” that I enjoy. It’s an eclectic mix of classical, new age (Enya, Marina Raye, and Anugama), and classical that has “nature sounds” mixed in. It’s soft, soothing, and lasts a long while. And it doesn’t require internet access, if I’m traveling. Perfect.

But sometimes you get tired of the same old thing, right? And I don’t want to spend all my writing time looking for something to listen to. So in the last year or so, I’ve been tuning in over at Tabletop Audio for ambient music. Originally created for RPG gaming sessions, there are looping soundtracks for your every mood: creaking winter woods, steamships, spaceships, elven glades, underwater, underground…you name it! And they’re always adding more. A couple of my favorites are Strangers on a Train (very soothing, that sound of clacking rails; kind of like clacking keys, right? Get clacking!), MiddleEarth: Dawn, Swamplandia, and The Long Rain. But there are so many I haven’t tried yet!

And while some folks have a fine time with Pandora, the ads really annoy me (so LOUD!), and I’m not coughing up the cash for an ad-free experience. So, I hop on over to Tunemark Radio, where I can listen to streaming radio from around the world. Remember that part about not understanding the language? This totally works, even when the broadcasters cut in and chat. And many of the stations are online only, with no announcers or ads to worry about. (A word of caution: it’s kind of addicting and overwhelming at first, and it’s easy to waste hours just flipping around listening in to places around the world. I know; I did this. :-/ But it is fun.)

OK, time to get listening. Tabletop Audio for me today, I think, as I’m reading and critting a whole lotta words in anticipation of Taos Toolbox (just over 2 weeks!). Happy listening!