Dasher’s Birthday


Yesterday we celebrated Dasher’s birthday. He’s now unofficially (since we have no idea of his actual birth date) one year old, and no longer a puppy. Don’t tell him that, though. He still acts crazy and playful as the day we brought him home.

How did we celebrate? With a ball at the field and plenty of water to cool off with, a canine cupcake, a long walk with both his people, and lots and lots of playing. He slept really, really well–both in the afternoon and all night long! :-)

Today it’s back to the same old routine–morning walk, then Mary writes while Dasher bounces a toy into her leg until she tosses it.  Uh-huh, so conducive to writing–NOT! Eventually he gives up and naps, and I get some actual words on the page. I’m writing on the novel, and editing up a couple short stories, bouncing between one project and another as my brain hits various walls. So far, it’s working.

Last week I wrote out the final steps of the outline for my novel. You know, those last few bits, how that confrontation will play out, exactly, and the final acts as well. How does the novel say “goodbye” to the reader, what is the final scene, the last line, the last glimpse. It felt strange to write that, even in “outline” form. It was a combination of wonderful, liberating, and unsettling. As much as I’ve groused about this becoming the novel that will not end, I can see the ending clearly, and I’m…feeling a little nostalgic about it. Ye-eah, how crazy is that?

Friday I got to help a fellow VP 17er play with her novel, trouble-shooting the outline in a couple areas to find plausible ways through the plot. It was a whole lotta fun to throw trouble at someone else’s characters, to make it as hard as possible for them, and to make journeying through the plot believable without being too easy, or without other ripple-effect changes swaying it off-course. It also opened my eyes to how to do that to my own, dear characters–pretend they’re not mine and have at it!

Which is another reason that, if you haven’t already, you should be considering applying to Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop.  The most-reduced applications are through March 31st, but you can apply until the June 15th deadline, for this fall’s weeklong workshop.

That’s about all the news here. Writing is happening. Stay warm if you’re in the snowy northlands. Why not write a story set in the tropics to warm up?

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Writer’s Desk, 2/16

Since my mind is a blank, I’ll show you my desk.

Out the window: Strong breezes rattle the lady palm, making it sound like soft rainfall. Further off, dangling Spanish moss sways and dances from the oaks’ limbs. Earlier it was partly sunny, but now it’s mostly clouds, in preparation for tomorrow’s (very welcome) rains. As yet, it’s warm (about 70), but cooling quickly. Which is making me sad.

On the desktop: A sprawl of papers and maps and notes. A written list of blog topics to write about, should the brain go numb for too long.  A cup of Japanese green tea, and the remains of a gluten-free apple cinnamon  toaster pastry (cinnamon-mmmmmm!). Beside the desk, the dog is curled into his bed, sleeping snugly.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: First, a bit on the novel. I need to finish off this scene, and segue into the next. As the tension ramps up, I’m finding there’s less I can do in a single sitting. I have to get up, move around, release some adrenaline in some way, before I come back and try it again. (Or, in some cases, get distracted by something that absolutely needs to be done at this very moment or the world will end–AKA, cat vacuuming.)

Then I want to edit a short story written last month. It isn’t working as it reads now, and I think I know why–but I want to be sure before I chop and hack it up. This may be a slower edit than I’d like. Heh. What else is new?

And Another Thing:  There’s a new feature over at Fantasy Scroll Magazine. A podcast! The first episode is “The City Dreams of Bird-Men” by Emily B. Cataneo, and is read by Rachel Aronov. I think it’s well done, and well narrated. What say you?

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Writing Update, February 2015

It’s been awhile since I’ve been posting here regularly. The dog’s health and other family matters, along with my own writing, have been great distractions from this place. I hope that I’m safe in saying I’m back to more regular blogging here. Cross your fingers for me on this?

While I haven’t been here, I have been busy. In five weeks I’ve managed to write six supposedly-flash stories. “Supposedly” because, while I shoe-horned them into 750 words or less (as the contest required), my feedback was regularly that the stories “need more words.” Proof of two things: my utter distraction, and my struggle to write good, solid flash fiction. (If you write flash well and easily, I admire and slightly envy you!)

These stories will be edited and lengthened in the coming weeks, and with luck will be making submission rounds shortly thereafter. That, too, will be a good thing. My current submissions have fallen to an embarrassingly low number. I needed to restock that well.

I have not been writing on the novel. I know, I know! But let me assure you that I’m back at it now, and it feels really, really good to be there again. While the new dog was having surgery and seizures and such, the novel became too much for my sleep-deprived brain to deal with. Ergo, flash fiction writing. Fast, fun and quick writing–all things my brain craved.

In addition, I’ve been spending more time both outdoors, doing piddly bits of gardening as the weather allows, and in the kitchen. Dasher the dog enjoys being around me when I’m doing either. In the garden, he can chew pine bark mulch and chase tiny lizards into hiding. In the kitchen, as food is prepared he dreams and hopes for bits to come his way, and it sometimes does. We’ve discovered that he thinks ice cubes are like gifts from the gods, all crunchy and cool and fantastically fun. Um, okay–really cheap treats. Also, I’ve started dehydrating sweet potatoes slices and storing them in the freezer, and he thinks these are even better than ice cubes, if perhaps eaten quicker. At farm market prices, these are a great bargain, too.

Just after the new year, I purchased one of those small foam pads for kitchen use. This one is just large enough for a person to stand on, and is intended for those at a standing desk. Well, my kitchen has a raised bar, just the right height. With this padding my feet from the hard tile-over-concrete floor, I now have a “standing desk” in my kitchen that disappears in a flash. Except…the dog likes the pad, too, and tries to curl onto it around my feet. Sigh. Don’t even try coming back after a bathroom break–he’ll have taken it over. Then I clean up and go back to the “sitting desk” in the other room. Ah, well. I did want canine companionship; I’m getting it in spades! (And–really–loving it.)

Wait, what was that sound? Ah, it’s the novel, calling me. Whispering a sweet, come-hither song into my ear. I’m off now, into another world. One day, I hope I can share it with you. Until then, happy reading, and happy writing.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A Link for Charity

If it’s not bad enough that my pup needed surgery, Wednesday night Dasher had a seizure, during which he ripped out the interior sutures that basically hold his patella in place (it’s really holding his ligaments, which hold the patella, but I’m simplifying for brevity). Needless to say, I haven’t been getting much sleep, what with worrying about the dog, and waiting for “the next” seizure to come. Which never may happen…but I can’t be sure. //stress//

And still, life is better for me than for some. Publisher Steven Saus (of Alliteration Ink!) has a friend and fellow writer who, although his human family survived, lost everything–including pets–in a fire. There is a crowd funding project running through Feb 2 to give these people a leg up. Steven has put together an ebook anthology as a thank-you to any who donate, and I’m happy to announce that my story, “Worthy” will be included in the anthology, now titled Life After Ashes.

It looks like a wonderful lineup of authors, and the cause is a good one. Donate if you can, and if you have $25, you’ll get the words of over 50 authors (most much better writers than I am) to thank you. Head over to Tilt to see their fundraiser. And thanks.

Posted in Links, Personal Life, signal boosting | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Proof that Brindle Fur=Brindle Skin


Which, yes, is my dog’s shaved leg, with an ice-pack under the incision. Which should tell you what I’ve been up to lately: ice-packs, slow walks, holding sleepy dog, etc.

Now comes the hard part. Dasher thinks he’s fine. He wants to run, and play, and be a manic puppy–on three legs. Of course, his stitches and his knee bones don’t see it that way, and neither do his surgeon vets. Nor I, for that matter, but darn is it hard making a happy puppy sad all the time.


So, you know where I am. Being mean to puppies. :-(

But still–cool, isn’t it? Brindle skin, I mean? (Yes, that really is his skin.)

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Closing Out the Year, Welcoming in the New

Here it is, already the first days of 2015. OK, really, who hid the last year? What happened to all that time? It feels like the year took off in a massive roller-coaster ride of ups and downs and all arounds, and my head is spinning after I’ve stepped off, onto this year’s whirl of events.

Good news of the year: I made my first two pro sales. Hurray!!

Bad news: I still haven’t managed to finish the first draft of the novel. I’m hoping to have it wrapped up soon, because…

I’m looking forward to another year of the Weekend Warrior Flash Fiction contest over at Codex. Starting soon, but not soon enough! I’m doing the tappy-toe dance of excitement in anticipation of this. Wheeeee!

Eh-hem. Hrmm. Yes. So, back to the year-end summary. Writing on the novel, its world building, research, and etc, took up most of my year of writing. Because of this, I currently have only four submissions out. In good news, two of those are being held for a second round, at two separate markets. Perhaps the new year will bring me two quick, lovely sales? (Fingers crossed here.)

For the record, this year I made approximately 64 submissions. From those, I received:

  • 54 total rejections, including 23 personal rejections
  • 6 acceptances, 2 being pro sales(!!)
  • 4 stories are still out on sub, held over from 2014

Not bad, considering how few short stories I wrote this year. As I checked in on my year-end stats, I got a bit depressed. How few stories and submissions. These have been my on-going “reality check,” my personal gauge of success. I understand that dedicating myself to writing a novel means fewer short stories will be written and subbed out. Of course it does. But still it comes back to haunt me, making me feel like “less a writer” when I don’t see a full 6 (or more) stories out on submission.  And then I get depressed and start hating the novel for eating my life.

Sigh. I am my own worst enemy, at times. grumble grumble grumble

My other goals for the year were met: I attended WFC and had a great time. I continue loving my slush-reading gig at Fantasy Scroll Magazine. The novel is well underway, nearing completion.

In “real life,” it’s been hiccup-central. We moved. There exists a family health crisis. We adopted a puppy. Said puppy has just had knee surgery. And is now recuperating on the sofa, next to me. (He’s just glad to be out of the crate and not wearing the Elizabethan collar for a change! If his nose heads toward the incision, his nose gets tapped. It happens surprisingly little. I am amazed at his understanding of this situation.) All these things interfered with writing, so it’s not surprising that I got less done than I’d hoped. But still. (sigh)

And yet, I’m not complaining: my life is good. I enjoy my writing, and have gotten some nice compliments, in the form of personal rejections, some quite lovely (thank you for those). And–even nicer–some acceptances. My home is wonderful, and I’m settling in and enjoying not being cold. The dog is healing, and will be better-than-new once a few months have passed. Those tennis balls are in trouble then, I tell you! All in all, the stage is set for an amazing year. I hope you’re here for it!

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Links for the End of the Year

Winter is coming. Really, the equinox is on the 21st. So are you all settled in with your reading? No?

Well, let me recommend the latest issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine. Yes, Issue 4 is now out, completing the first year of this publication. Weeee! Lots of great stories here, plus interviews and reviews, as well. Also, be sure to read the Introduction, which details great new things to come. Like what, you ask? We-ell, like a bi-montly format, a podcast, and more. (eh-hem) And consider that subscriptions make great gifts. As a slush reader there, I’m just saying. :-)

Let me again sound off about Quarter Reads. They’ve updated their policy, letting you put down just $5 to try the stories, instead of the initial $10 minimum. They’ve added more authors, more stories, and more genre and subject tags to browse stories by. Give ‘em a try.

Another reading favorite: Lightspeed Magazine’s recent release of FANTASY: Women Destroy Fantasy! Great fiction, great non-fiction, and amazing artwork, all guest edited by the amazing Cat Rambo.

Finally, I’ve been listening to podcasts from Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ Audio Vault, and haven’t found a bad one yet. They’re great for commuting, for holiday travel in crowded airports or trains, or just for plopping in earbuds and tuning out the holiday madness for a few moments of spec-fic bliss. Give them a listen!

There, now you’re set for reading materials. Winter may commence. Just, um, don’t let it freeze my Meyer lemons before they ripen. They’re getting so close, and I really want my very first harvest of 2 fruits!


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A Long-Overdue Winter Update

Fall has nearly slipped away, and winter is creeping in. Even here, frost limns the grasses many too-chilly mornings. Tropical plants need “frost cloth” laid over them to protect against the cold. I’m glad I have only 2 sensitive plants to coddle this way. (I am a lazy gardener in this respect. Even in Ohio, I didn’t like to swaddle roses, etc, in winter protections. A bit of mulched leaves? Sure. But no more than that. Live or die, baby–it’s a tough garden I run.)

The farmers’ markets, so paltry in summer’s unrelenting heat and humidity, are stocked full to bursting with greens, carrots, turnips, hardier seedling plants (for the same types of plants), and oddities (to me) like boiled green peanuts, turmeric root, and citrus.

Yes, citrus. oh yum! We purchased an 1/8th bushel of oranges and juiced some yesterday. Oh my! This is what OJ should really taste like!

I was spoiled as a child. I visited my snowbird grandma at Christmas time, right as the citrus was coming to harvest. We’d drive to the grove and buy fresh oranges, packing the car full on the return trip to Ohio. Later, my aunt bought a trailer in Florida that held a number of mature citrus trees. There were too many to eat, so we squoze (yes, this is what we called it, because, well, we are a weird family) LOTS of oranges and tangerines into delicious juice. Because of that, I’ve never been a fan of purchased OJ. It tastes off, somehow. Always has. The newest “not from concentrate” varieties are much better, but still, something is…lacking.

So  now my tastebuds are in citrus heaven again. Ah! So nice.

We made cookies over the weekend, as well. I have to admit that making holiday cookies on a sunny, blue-sky day of 68 degrees isn’t what I’m used to, but I rather like it. I also like walking in the afternoons, when the shining sun is so warm that short sleeves are the clothing of choice (instead of woolen sweaters).

Dasher the puppy is also a fan of sunbeams, as you might expect from a boxer-mix. His favorite afternoon napping spot is out in the lanai, on a rug directly in the sunbeam’s longest path. Lucky dog.

Speaking of naps, Dash has settled into them, giving me time to write consistently once more. Which is a good thing. The novel is very nearly done, and a couple short stories are bugging me to write them as soon as it is. And of course, there are books and stories to be read–in a sunbeam, by the dozing pup, as the warmth soaks into my bones and brings the nap-fuzzies…No! I will write during writing time. I will! But a sleeping dog is such a calming thing. //goes off into a warm-fuzzy-dog glow//

And so it goes. Writing. Reading. Walking a dog (hurray!). Friends and family. Cooking. Small joys that add up to a good life. All things to be grateful for, to be glad about during the season of thankfulness and gratitude.

I wish you many of the same.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment