Writing

A Clean, New Look

Well, if you haven’t noticed, it’s here. I’ve changed this blog’s theme, and spruced things up a bit. More has been done behind the scenes, and more will continue to change back there where you won’t notice it much. Hopefully I will, though.

Meanwhile, life isn’t stopping. I’m still attempting to write this draft of the novel, and keep short fiction submissions moving. The west coast is still on fire, hurricanes and tropical storms still threaten the Gulf coasts, coronavirus still sweeps the world, and my dog still has epileptic seizures. Like the one he had yesterday.

All my careful plans went out the window as I re-prioritized everything to care for him. Fortunately, it was only the one episode, not a cluster like he’s been having so often. And I know the source: someone had left salted peanuts out for squirrels at the dog park, and Dasher licked one shell. Didn’t eat it, just licked it. (Reason #41 why not to leave food behind in a dog park!)

Later today I get to take my tablet in for repairs, and cringe at so many $$ being spent to repair the shattered-crazed touch-screen glass. But for 5 days, I’ve not used my tablet. And it’s shown me how dependent on that little thing I’ve become. Keeping up with my friends on Slack is the main thing I’ve missed. It’s much harder to go sit at a computer and log in. And my phone, well, yeah, I can use that–but the screen is so small. (insert squinchy-face) Do not like.

So I’ve gotten a LOT more reading done. Like, a LOT a lot. And…okay, wow. So that’s where all my time was going–quick bursts of socializing, some gaming, checking Twitter, doom scrolling the News, one more check on email… it all adds up to become a rather significant chunk of my day. So, despite part of me hating to admit this, having my tablet out for repair for some while might actually be a good thing.

Now let me change gears and give you more reasons to remain online: two new online magazines have opened/are opening. The first is a new quarterly SF mag named Departure Mirror. What makes them stand out for me is this line, from their submission guidelines: “We’re most excited by stories that tap into the current cultural zeitgeist.” In other words, stuff that is from this moment, and extremely timely. Which is something that many other markets really don’t want, because with their long lead times, there might be a year between acceptance and publication–making the story no longer timely, but “old news.” The first issue is out, and free to download, and all the stories were quite good. I think I’ll be reading this one regularly, and hope you will, too.

Next up is a forthcoming magazine called “Constelación.” From their website: Constelación is a quarterly speculative fiction bilingual magazine, publishing stories in both Spanish and English. Writers can submit their stories in either language. Fifty percent of the stories we publish in every issue will be from authors from the Caribbean, Latin America, and their diaspora.

Constelación is being created by a pair of editors, one of whom is from my Viable Paradise cohort–Coral Moore. She’s an amazing writer and an awesome person, and I think this magazine is going to fill a niche that has been too long ignored. They have a Kickstarter going on right now to fund their first year, with loads of fun backer rewards, and they’re looking to provide pro-levels of payment to their authors, their illustrators, and their translators, which is not only the right thing, it’s the awesome thing. So go grab yourself a capybara founder’s pin!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk

Writer’s Desk, 10/22/19

Out the window lanai: High clouds quickly burning off as the sun’s glare rises above the treeline in the east, until they thicken to the west and flow back east, making the sun play hide and seek. Green, green everywhere, after the rains last night and yesterday’s sprinkles. And with the rising heat, the humidity is already beginning to feel oppressive. Birdsong and a jay’s scolding screech mostly mute the distant hum of traffic as I sit outside in the screen room this morning.

On the desktop: Since I’m outside, there’s a potted jade plant taking up much tabletop real estate. Other than that, this computer, two notebooks (one for the novel, the other holding today’s To-Do list), my glasses case, a book to read, and a pen. Pretty austere, but it’s all I need for now.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  I’m editing this draft of Unspoken, my novel-in-progress. I’m nearing the end of a rather large section that needed 100% new words, and am looking forward to faster progress once I burst through to the next “revision edit” section (instead of a “rewrite edit”). I made a rather significant plot change near the end of the last draft knowing this would entail some dramatically rewritten sections, and I don’t regret it in the least. Now I can see how much better the book is, how the character is gaining a clear arc, how the plot is moving along much more quickly. It’s both gratifying and motivating to see this happening; to have proof, of a sort, that my writing actually doesn’t suck–because, you know, writers are always fighting those Brain Weasels that tell them they’re the worst ever. Even once they’ve made it to full “active” SFWA membership.

Of course, the dog is another “work-in-progress” who demands attention, too. We’re a week post-surgery right now, and he’s not allowed to move. I carry him outside to pee and poop; he eats meals lying down in his crate; if I’m not there watching he has to wear the Elizabethan collar; he puts no weight on the leg that was operated on, and if he bends that leg much he’s in such pain he gasp-whimper-kreels until I can straighten it again. So, yes, divided attention.

And Another Thing: Supplies for the walls that will make our back yard terraced are supposed to start showing up today, and I can’t wait for this to begin–so it can end and I can actually have a usable back yard! The herbs and veggies I want to plant along the wall edges will make my gardening and cooking heart so happy! But, with the scattered showers we’ve had, and which are predicted for the next week, who knows if delivery will occur today or not. So, fingers are crossed but I’m not holding my breath.

Besides, it’s hard to type when your breath is held too long. lol

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, science, the dog, Travel, Writing

Mid-June Update

Things have been busy here, and I’m still in a bit of a whirl. Dasher is fully recovered, according to Monday’s liver enzyme test, which is the biggest news for me. And the best. He’s been acting fine, so it’s good to see it’s more than just a temporary reprieve.

He also got his shots yesterday, including a new one for the canine influenza that’s hit Florida. With his frequency of appearance at the UF Vet Med Hospital, which is a hotbed of diagnosis for this outbreak, I think it’s wise that he get all the protection a dog can get; after all, he’s had enough issues without adding one more. (Trupanion will probably thank me for this, too!)

Last week, spousal unit and I took a short trip north. Our first night we spent at a friend’s home in New Jersey, near where we used to live. The weather was cool and fine, and we got to harvest some of the last asparagus out of the garden! Oh, so delicious. I miss garden-fresh asparagus so much after tasting that lovely treat! The gardens were also a delight, with columbine, roses, iris, foxglove, and clematis. The long, cool spring held the blooms perfectly for our visit.

Afterwards, we traveled into New York City and absorbed city atmosphere and energy. We walked neighborhoods and parks, ate a a few favorite restaurants and tried a few new ones, took in some new sights as well as revisiting some old favorites. Can I admit that it was relaxing? Yes, NYC and relaxing don’t normally work together, but it was. Both of us just slowed down and enjoyed being on vacation. It was great.

Back home again, I’ve started to dive heavily into the research end of the literal “world building:” How long would the planet’s rotational period be? How about moons–could I have two, and what would their cycles in the night sky be? Could/should the planet have a great rift, like the one on Mars? How would that affect the story, or would it be located elsewhere? What are the different languages spoken by the various peoples, and how are they visually/aurally different? Etc…

Yes, it’s work, but it’s fun work. And it’s calling me, calling…

Bye for now. Time to research biology and form for a cool critter I’m making.

Personal Life, the dog

It’s Adoptiversary Day!

dashernotail

Which means that two years ago today, we brought Dasher home from the Haile’s Angels adoption event at Petsmart. He earned his name by dashing about at the end of his leash, so happy and eager and cute. He’s still happy and eager and cute (even if sometimes that becomes annoying!).

Today, we’ll celebrate by giving him a deer antler, and some extra special treats. He’s already wagging his tail, just imagining it. Or, well, it is his normal state of being, so maybe he’s just being his normal self. Either way, he’s happy. We’re happy. And yes, Dasher is definitely one of the things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I hope today brings you some of the same good fortune and lasting happiness that adopting Dasher has brought to our lives.

the dog, Writing

Brimming Over with Good News…But I Can’t Share It Yet

Which is making me sad, since I’m all bouncy wanting to tell you. /zips lips shut and sits on hands, still bouncing a leg.

But I have other good news that I can share: Dasher the dog had his 3-month post-surgery checkup, and he’s fine. His bone has healed and he’s free to go and be a dog again! Such awesome, awesome news!

So now I’m off to work on more edits to the first book of the Jessamin Stow trilogy. Which is just too much fun. Have I mentioned that I love this life of words? I really do.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, the dog

A Little Beauty…

hibiscusbeauty

Early this year, I splurged on this expensive tropical hibiscus plant. It seemed silly, and a needless expense, but I couldn’t stop staring at the huge blossoms, couldn’t stop myself from looping around the aisles of pots for “one more look.” And wow, am I glad I did.

Now the plant is happy here at my house, and I get to see it every day. At least once a week, and usually twice weekly, it unfurls a new, massive bloom–or two at once, as in this photo–which just makes my jaw drop and my eyes dance over their beauty.

I find I’m needing a bit of this now. Dasher, my dog, has had two seizures in two weeks. He’s fine, he hasn’t damaged his latest surgery (I’m pretty sure of that!), but it does mean that we’re going to have to either up his med dosages, or change his meds altogether. This always means running the risk of new breakthrough seizures as things are changing and then stabilizing. It means I won’t be sleeping well for weeks, as his seizures always come at nighttime–9 pm through 7 am–so any tiny noise he makes wakes me, my heart pounding with fear: seizure, or just rearranging himself; seizure, or licking himself? New meds also come with new potential side-effects (sigh), both short and long term. More things to worry about, and in such a young dog.

Right now, he’s sprawled on a dog bed that’s balanced on my lap. The valium that breaks him out of seizures makes him snoozy all day, afterwards. And this way, we both draw comfort from one another’s presence. (I’m really not sure who gets more benefit from our relationship–him or me! And that’s…kind of wonderful. ^_^ )

So walking outside and finding these blossoms all fiesta-bright and full of happiness? It’s a real boost. Cheap therapy. Turns out, that “expensive” plant wasn’t so expensive after all.

Magic of the Everyday, the dog, Writing, Writing Workshops

Out the Window, and in my Browser Window

I just heard a familiar “thwunk” sound at the dining room window, and as my heart sank I stifled my groan. By the time I looked, there was nothing to see, but I knew what I dreaded: that the mocking bird was back to attack my windows ceaselessly, driving me insane as it battered itself more and more senseless.

As I stood despairing, the sound came again. This time when I looked, a bird hung from the screen, staring inside. Backlit by the bright outdoors, it glowed a very non-mockingbird cinnamon brown. It made a startled “twit-twit” and darted off. I moved closer and peered out, to find it perched in a nearby tree branch. Yellow glowed under its tail feathers, and its crest was wide and puffy and definitely brown. This was no mockingbird!

I downloaded the Cornell University Merlin bird ID app, plopped in the relevant info, and viola! There was my bird, staring back at me. A Greater Crested Flycatcher. Now, I don’t have a life list of birds. But I do know I’ve never heard of this bird before, and never seen one before, so that makes it pretty cool–for me, at least.

This is also a nice bit of news since it gives me something quiet to be happy about. Dasher is still in recovery from his surgery, but he really doesn’t want to be. He will take any opportunity to remind me that he feels just fine and is more than ready to run and play, and he pterodactyl-groans if I’m too active and busy, wanting me to let him do all those forbidden things…which, um, no. No dog, you cannot re-injure yourself before you’re fully healed, no matter how bored you are. This is hard, and only getting harder. The end of May (and his activity release date) seems a long way off. Quiet, non-moving joys are very, very nice.

I’m working on Book 2 of the Jessamin Stow trilogy, and really loving it! Let me tell you one big reason why: I took an online class from UBC on edX (that basically means an online class from the University of British Columbia, offered through the edX online course program) titled How to Write a Novel, Part 1: Plan & Outline. This class was great. It was more than just “writing an outline.” It was different types of outline that different types of writers may use, thinking through your plot, charting the various bits so the story is balanced, and learning to use more scaffolding when it isn’t balanced, then putting it all together, and more. Long form writers will definitely benefit from this class, but the techniques can also apply to short form, as well.

I’m not sure when it’s being offered again, but I really, really recommend this class. The difference between writing Book 1 (before this class) and Book 2 (which I outlined during this class) is literally night and day. And I’m not slavishly following a rigid outline, either. There’s plenty of room for small surprises in the “path” I’ve chosen–as I discovered today while inserting a “cool tidbit” into the story.

Looking to level-up but can’t take a “destination” workshop for whatever reason? This may be the answer you’re looking for.

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life

Little Bits

Here’s a round-up of all the little things that are going on right now, none of which quite deserves its own post, but together they make up a fine chunk of life:

• My fall-planted plum tree has tiny, tiny fruit where the flowers used to be! Yeah, I know, that’s what fruit trees are supposed to do, but I was sure that I’d killed this tree. As each leaf yellowed and fell off, I resigned myself to the fact that it was over, dead. A goner. And then it came back and bloomed! Hurray! But don’t get your hopes up, I told myself. During this first year it probably won’t fruit, as it’ll be too busy settling into its new home. Shows you what I know about fruit trees!

• Both the two-year old Meyer lemon and the fall-planted Ponkan tangerine have blossoms. The lemon blossoms are large and ready to open soon, but the tangerine’s flowers are still tiny (which makes sense, as it was a bit root-bound in the pot before I planted it). But I was sure these two weren’t going to flower this year, either (for a variety of reasons). I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong before!

• Dasher is healing nicely after his surgery. Despite the fact that he sometimes thinks he’s perfectly fine has to be prevented from running around like a silly idiot, and other times lifts his leg showing that it still hurts, he is healing. He’s feeling better, which makes me feel better. And I’m letting him lay outside in the sunshine during lunchtime hours, which he simply adores. And which I’m sure goes a long way in soothing his worry and fear over “why can’t I play?”

• Produce at the farmers’ markets is full-bore awesome and inspiring right now. Carrots, lettuces, strawberries, kale, beets, early tomatoes (!!!), oranges, the last of the sweet potatoes, onions–it all looks amazing. And the chickens are laying up a storm, as well, so it’s also a great time to bake “for the freezer.” Oh darn. You can guess how I hate that! 😉

• The first draft of the YA trilogy is finished, and out at the first beta reader. I’ve started on the second book, and just looking over the notes getting ready to dive in had me all excited and happy with the whole thing, all over again! Writing can be such fun—weeee!

• It’s a holiday weekend, and my husband and I have the whole weekend to ourselves. Such a rare, wonderful thing. Let’s hear it for naps, yard work, cooking together, and just being happy spending time together.