blogging, Magic of the Everyday, Nature

Return of an Old Superstition?

So, way back when, in those halcyon early days of this blog, I had this superstition going that when I experienced a wonderful natural or wildlife encounter, I’d soon receive a writing rejection. If the wildlife experience was truly wonderful, I might get two rejections back-to-back. It was reasoned that Mother Nature was trying to make up for the sting of rejection, and was getting there ahead of time. And while I know it was silly, it was also kind of fun.

And it hasn’t happened for years. I’ve not had “amazing” natural experiences. Oh, sure, I’ve seen wildlife, and appreciated the natural world, but nothing truly remarkable or memorable has happened for a little while. Until last night.

The dog pestered me into an evening w-a-l-k (gotta spell that word around here, you know. He knows what it means!), so we went by the turtle pond. The turtle food vending machine has recently been refilled for spring, and he loves hoovering up food spilled at its base, so we paused, and paused, and paused some more (those kids spill a lot of turtle food pellets), and while he sniffed and ate, I looked around at the falling evening. Only a few turtles still swam in the small pond, having instead gone wherever it is they go at night, and oh, look there on the bank of the pond. There’s a turtle now, with its butt dipping in and out a hole–HOLY COW! SHE’S LAYING EGGS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!

Yes, I know. Not the best pic, but I only had my camera phone. And actually, I forgot I had the phone in my pocket and had to circle back to snap the photo.



Sure enough, the turtles back end would dip lower into a hole, and when it raised she’d sweep her back foot to settle the egg and cover it gently. I have no idea how many eggs she laid, or how many might survive (lots of kids run and play in that area, and use it for turtle watching), but seeing that felt magical indeed.

So, once I returned home [and had a rush of texting and online research to find out what kind of turtles we’re talking about and how long until the eggs might hatch (I think they’re River Cooters, and 45-56 days ’til hatching)], I started remembering the old superstition ’round this blog…and now I’m expecting some really earth-shattering rejection, very, very soon.

(ETA: no, after a thorough viewing of said turtles in daylight, it turns out they are Red Belly Cooters, a.k.a., Red Belly Turtles)

Fortunately, enough time writing has taught me two things: 1) rejection is just another part of the process, and 2) enjoy the process. So I’m enjoying the turtle-gram, and not holding my breath. After all, it’s just another rejection. Meh. But turtles laying eggs? That’s something to remember.

Rejection, Writing

Rain and Rejection

Three days ago I “released” Mother Nature from my superstition that rain should bring me acceptances, the way cool animal sightings seem to foretell rejection. Well, yesterday it sprinkled in the evening. Today it poured. And I got a rejection.

Some days, it feels like I just can’t win. :-/

Nevertheless, writing is proceeding (don’t you just love legally using passive when you can?). It’s a “writing” week, like I said, so I sat down yesterday and opened an ideas folder, found a theme that looked likely, and said to myself, “Well, go on. Write!”

I plopped a line down. Another followed. My opening volley, as it were. Now, what comes next?

For the next hour, I puzzled out this character, this strange world. I wrote, and lo and behold — it did not stink! Today I wrestled more with the furtherance of the story by nailing the story itself. What is happening, and why? What are potential endings here? The conflict is what, exactly?

And the story taking shape is interesting. The character is someone I’m coming to like, can relate to. I feel drawn to her story. Now I feel like half of me is smirking at the other half. See? I told you, didn’t I? If you just write, the story will come.

But I still hate it when the smug half wins.

Nature, plain silliness, Writing

The Coming Drought?

Not much going on in my world but writing and revising endlessly. Ever get the feeling the day has been shortened by about 2 hours? Yep, that’s my world right now. I’m trying to revise 4 stories. Two should be “easy,” while the other two need major organ transplants and possibly a Frankensteinesque amount of electrical jolting to put the life back into them. But I can’t quite give up on them yet. I’m too interested in those stories, in the way they still feel in my mind, if not the way they read on the page. I just have to get their translations right, then others will enjoy them just as much. At least, that’s the plan.

And, of course, this is a “writing” week in the W1/S1 schedule. Naturally! That’s why I’m editing. Good thing it’s only Monday.

I’ve recently joined the Online Writers Workshop. I’m still in my free test month, and I’m seeing how I find the waters. If you’re active there, let me know what you think.

Hmmm. Speaking of water: after that last post (in which I determined that rain should be a good omen that presages acceptance), it has not rained once. Not even a drip. This is somewhat of a good thing, since I think I was starting to develop gills, but I’m guessing that in the long-term, drought is a bad thing. So, in the interest of preserving the vitality and viability of the world around me, I hereby renounce all superstitious claims upon the rain. Go ahead, precipitate all you want. I’ll get my acceptances without your help, thank you very much. (grumble, grumble, grumble)

Nature, Rejection

Spring is Green and Gray and Mud-Brown

Yes, Spring is here–in the form of rains and low clouds and mud, mud, mud. Flowers, too, but in the rain, well, it’s hard to get outside to appreciate them. Sigh. But that means it’s a good day for writing. No distractions out the windows.

ugly fox In “Great Animal Sighting” news:  A while back, hubby and I traveled to Island Beach State Park. As we drove in the long, straight and mostly deserted road, a distant car  drew near. A dark shape shot out from the sandy scrub and dunes surrounding us, close to the oncoming car. Oh, no, I thought, they lost their dog. Or someone lost their dog. Because obviously, this creature was heading for that car, for their doors.

The car slowed, and so did the dog. But it was an odd-looking dog. After a moment, hubby and I both realized that was no dog, it was a fox. And, it was begging for handouts from passing cars!

The other car drove on, and the fox turned towards us. Driving slowly, we crept alongside the fox. It looked directly at the driver’s side window (which was securely rolled up! No fox is leaping inside with me, I’ll have you know) before sidling back and behind us. A few yards further along came this sign:

fox sign

Perfect timing, I tell you!

“And did this sighting come with a rejection?” I hear you asking. Well, of course it did. Great walloping ones. But if I’m being superstitious about cool animal sightings bringing rejection, shouldn’t there be a benefit in there, too? I think so. So from now on, I think rain should bring good news. It seems to rain here rather a lot. I hope to have lots and lots of good news to share 🙂  And if I do, well, you’ll know to come up with your own handy superstitions. Yup. That and lots and lots of writing.

conventions, publication

A Post of Super-Awesome Goodness!

OK, as you try not to choke on that title (either from laughing at how not-me it is, or from gagging at the thought that someone may actually believe that stuff), realize there is a kernel of truth. I have good news!

To wit, the Table of Contents for the Sidekicks! anthology is now available. I had to take time out from moving to post about this for a couple reasons. First of all, discovering that I know some of the other authors (either personally or by their work) is a lovely surprise. I think I’m in very good company in this anthology, and am very pleased to be associated with my fellow authors. Secondly, well, just look at those titles! Now I really want to read this anthology and discover all the darkness and loveliness within! The release is still slated for Millenicon, so if you’re there, stop by the Alliteration Ink table in the dealers’ room and tell them Mary sent you (realize this will likely get you a blank stare, or a punch in the nose–unless you purchase the antho, in which case you can say whatever you like and they’ll smile!). There is some chatter right now about readings at various cons where the publisher/editor/authors will be available, but (sigh) since I’m moving I’ll be unlikely to be able to participate. I’ll be there in spirit, I guess, if not in fact.

Over the weekend, hubby and I tried to squeeze in all the good things we could before we leave. Part of that was going to the toboggan run in the Metro Park. While we waited in line, it began snowing, which was awesome when we went down the run with snow stinging in my face! It meant I couldn’t see a darn thing (being in the front), and that the ‘brakes’ didn’t brake as well, so we cruised yards past the stopping point. Wheeee!

On the way there, we saw numerous deer, including one buck still carrying a huge rack of antlers. On the way back, we had to stop the car and wait in the falling snow as some three dozen wild turkeys crossed the road. I had never expected to see so many wily turkeys at once, and so openly. They didn’t even speed up as they stopped traffic, just kept on their way as if they couldn’t see us, or be seen themselves! So, I ask you: what dread rejection will come from these spectacular sightings? (please oh please not the Clarion/CW/Odyssey rejections already!)

Nature, Writing

Deer and Snakes, and Risks and Plotting.

(Hey, told you I was bad at titling, didn’t I?)

The deer and I have been scaring one another lately. It seems I walk too quietly for their liking and end up far too close to them before they hear me–whereupon they snort (which kind of sounds like a breathy “bah!”– like a sheep with emphysema) and burst into flight. This of course catches me completely off-guard, because I’ve been walking around with my head in a story, mumbling to myself about plot, villains, villain-protagonists, deadlines–all the stuff that emerges when I start walking. In the end, I’m not sure who ends up more startled, them or me. I at least can laugh about it, once I catch my breath.

Yesterday brought stunning fall weather, with sunny skies and temps up into the mid-seventies. We took a quick walk to the marina below us on the hill and came across this snake basking in the sun on the road. Well, I couldn’t just leave him there, now could I? With all the SUVs running up and down the hillside ready to turn it into snakeskin tread?

Somnolent snake–don’t you just want to baby it?

The poor thing was practically comatose; hubby thought it was already dead until he managed to glimpse the black tongue lick out. I lifted it with a long, thick stick and moved the snake to the side of the road, but before it got there it wiggled off and slithered away from me, intent on escape. It was sprightly then!

I know all this probably means a massive amount of rejection coming my way…but hey, you never gain anything without risk. I’d rather send things out for the rejection rounds than play it safe and never submit.

As for risky storytelling, I’m trying something new. Well, new for me, at least. I’m going to try a steampunk tale. I’ve had a character, two actually–a ‘hero’ and the POV character who the story is actually about. But…I have struggled and struggled to find a plot. Oh, I had setting, and character development, and gew-gaws galore. Just no story. Not one I could feel happy or excited about. Ouch.

Saturday night I woke up at 2 am (which normally would not please me) with a complete revelation–an entirely new steampunk story idea, one with an actual plot as well as interesting characters! My oh my! Guess what I’m working on today? (imagine my very big grin–I love having a plot for a change!)

So, what to do with the first idea? Well, it’s still in the folder on my hard drive for misplaced story bits. It may see life later, in some form or another. It may not ever leave the Hard-Drive of Failed Story Ideas (that’s kinda like the Island of Misfit Toys, ya know). Whatever happens to it, I know I couldn’t have gotten to the current story idea (which is so entirely different from the original it’s ludicrous to look for similarities) without going through this failed iteration. So, is it a failure after all? I think not; it was  just a stepping stone to something better.

Nature, Write-a-Thon, Writing

Write-a-thon Update…and Runaway Characters

Whew! Half-way through the final week of CW Write-a-thon! In case you’re wondering, yes, I did finish last week’s story, and on Saturday, so I’m still on time and on-target for the goal of a story a week after the novelette draft was complete.

Now I’m some 1500-words into this week’s story. Why so few words? Well, for this story, I’ve decided to go into another world, one that I know nothing about. So, the first two days were just background research and world-building. Those typed notes and pages don’t add into the story’s word count…but I count them as a day of ‘writing’ nonetheless.

Last week’s story surprised me. I thought I knew just where it was going, and then ‘Bam!’ — it took off in a completely different direction for the ending. It was an ending I hadn’t thought of, hadn’t anticipated…but even so, I’m very pleased with it. I don’t think I could have planned it, actually. I had to be in this character’s head, thinking her thoughts, to see the possibility. Once I did that, I was sure it was the only way to end.

I haven’t had a character run away with me for awhile, and it was…odd, but fun. I’m curious to know if any other writers experience this (I know some of you do), and if so, how often? Did it happen more often when you were a beginning writer, or does it still happen at about the same regularity over your career (to this point. I’m not retiring you, by any means!)? Or do you just think it means you haven’t understood your character well enough before beginning to write?

Finally, in news-of-the-odd (and the dreaded superstition mode again), today’s unusual occurrence with wildlife: I took a walk in late morning sunshine. At the river, I went down to see the water instead of just crossing at the bridge above. There’s a small erosion-control sluice where many people fish and kids play, but today it was empty, so I went there. A raccoon stood in the shallows, washing…something. It raised its head as I went by and watched me closely, walking toward me until I was far enough away.

Obviously, it’s sick with distemper or rabies, being out in daytime and aggressive. I want to avoid it, especially seeing as how I’m in sandals and shorts. But now I was on a peninsula of concrete sticking out into the narrowed flow of the river. No way to go but back. So I waited until it was away from the concrete again, looking the other way and then I raced back by it, not looking its way. Still, it charged at me, and after me! I got away unhurt, just alarmed and adrenalin-charged, and warned the trail monitors of it’s behavior and location. So now I’m wondering:  Considering what the other cool things foretold, what could this possibly presage?

Nature, Write-a-Thon, Writing

No Rejection, and CW Write-a-thon Update 2

Yay! The curse of seeing wonderful wildlife and being rejected is at an end. (Everyone chair-dance!)

I saw two really cool animals on Monday, and have yet to receive a rejection for any stories in circulation. And really, what a relief. I mean, it was getting a little freaky, you know? Now I can just enjoy seeing wildlife again without wondering about the rejection soon to follow. (How quickly I fell into that superstition, too. What does that say about me, about our society? What’s the story there… . Hmmm.)

OK, now for the Write-a-thon update: Today is Day 3 and today’s word count is  1700!

Fireseed is coming along very nicely now. It’s at just under 15,000 words. I know there’ll be plenty of cutting and revising when it’s done, but the “sh*tty first draft” has to be finished before the polishing can begin. And it’s moving, people, it’s moving! I fell into that wonderful groove where the words flow from brain to keyboard almost without effort. It doesn’t happen often enough, but I have to admit, it tends to happen most often when I’m in writing regularly–which I haven’t been doing enough of lately. (Sick dog + sick Mary=little writing. sigh.) So the Write-a-thon is really working for me.

If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time to register over at the Clarion Write-a-thon, which starts June 24: a week after CW. Go for it! Give yourself some public accountability, and your writing a shot in the arm. I bet you won’t regret it!