Enter Title Here

^^ That prompt in my title bar seemed as likely a title as any. As is so often the case of late, life seems somewhat fractured into odd bits, that, strung together, compose my life. Let’s go over some.

Dasher. Well, his “final” appointment after the second surgery was Tuesday, but I already knew the outcome. He’d been charged by 2 larger, aggressive dogs in three days, and both times he’d retreated backwards and sideways precipitously, yiping in pain. On the morning following the second charge, he started gimping about three-legged once more. Verdict: patella out of alignment, flowing out freely and not remaining in position. Sigh. Now we’re trying some physical therapy, hoping that by increasing muscle mass on his emaciated rear left leg, he might increase muscle and tendon tension enough to hold the patella in place (once it’s put there again), or at the very least, that it will give another, more extreme surgery a better chance of holding, post-surgery.

Still, he’s a tail-wagging kind of boy. His at-home therapies include: walking over water noodles, walking backwards in a straight line, alternating sits and stands, and holding up his “good” rear leg for a few seconds, forcing him to carry weight on the weaker leg. At the UF vet school hospital, he gets an underwater treadmill. You know how walking with your legs in shallow water drags, slowing you down and forcing you to work harder? Same idea here. Only his legs are in the water, so he works harder to walk, strengthening his muscles.

While all these things they can do for animals are really cool (I got a tiny tour “backstage” to glimpse some of what they can accomplish–it was pretty amazing, let me tell you!), I certainly wish I wasn’t needing to know anything about it, and that my dog hadn’t needed the first surgery, let alone a potential third one! C’est la vie.

The proof copy of next month’s Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet came. It was so amazing, looking at this gorgeous layout, reading the table of contents and seeing my name and my story there.  I found the Editor’s Letter lovely and moving. It really highlighted my the feelings of being overwhelmed at being a part of something so wonderful. Huzzah!

Editing and Submitting. Yes, I’ve been plugging away at this, and yesterday managed to submit two more stories into the world, where they now wait patiently in their queues. (Oddly enough, both stories are SF and both titles start with “D.” For reasons unknown, this amuses me.) This brings my current submissions to 8, and leaves four stories in my “second round” editing pile, and four in the “first round” editing pile. Not bad, not bad. But regardless, my inner slave-driver tells me that, however much I work, it’s never “enough,” that I have plenty of time that I fritter away. Sigh. Brains: Can’t live without ’em, much as I’d like to sometimes.

Novella series. I’m currently working on the outline for the third (and I think final) volume of the urban fantasy series I plan on writing and self-pubbing. But…I’ve hit some kind of mental snag. I can’t seem to get past a certain point, which also happened with Book Two’s outline. Eventually, it came to me, so I’m confident I’ll overcome whatever mental barrier is halting me here, as well. But it would be really nice if it came sooner, rather than later (hint, hint, subconscious mind!).

Guests and travel. My sisters are arriving for a visit on Monday, and I’m preparing for that. Also, Spousal Unit and I will be visiting friends and former neighbors soon, and I’m looking forward to that. Ah, the chaos of travel balanced against the joy of travel. But travel usually wins over staying home–for me, at least.

Heat. Yes, it’s been hot lately. And humid. And dry. The rain has gone mostly around us, except for a few hot, flat splats four days ago as I spoke to a neighbor, and a sudden short burst of rainfall Friday, which quickly was evaporated off the sizzling hot roadways, sidewalks, and rooftops. At least the plants got a quick shot of relief. (Not enough, though. My potted plants still needed watering twice that day.) How hot? We’ve had 100°F on the weather app, and the car I was in, after driving some while and coming to stasis, registered 104°F. Guh! I love going barefoot, but let me just say that at these temps, concrete and/or blacktop in the sun actually burns my tough feet. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Watermelon. Watermelon is in full, glorious season here. It’s utterly amazing. So succulent and sweet. It’s what’s for dinner when it’s too hot to think. And Dasher thinks watermelon is pretty tasty, too.

And there you go. Some relevant bits of my life, along with some not-so-relevant bits for good measure. Happy Sunday to you!

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And so it goes…

With the Unending Novel’s first draft completed, I feel strangely light and liberated. Also, more than a little aimless. This is despite having concrete goals in place for my “non-novel-writing time” between the first draft and starting the first revision.

What goals? To re-cap, edit short stories (I had 10 of them in a queue, waiting for revisions before their first submissions), finish taking 2 online classes over at Holly Lisle’s website, and finish the planning on a series of novellas that I plan to write and self-publish. In non-writing, to catch up with all the things that I’ve let slide during the push to finish the first draft.

Well, I’ve edited five of the stories to a near-ready state. And I’ve taken classes, just not as often as I’d like. The dog has been demanding more and more attention when I’m home, acting like the obnoxious all-about-me teenager that he is right now. And doing non-writing chores eats into time that I’d normally use for writing, and I can’t make it up with “dog” time. Add to this a week of solo time with Dasher the dog while the spousal unit was on a business trip, which made the dog and I rather sick of each other’s company (ugh!).

So…despite making actual progress on my goals, I’m feeling very adrift. As if I have nothing to show for my writing time. As if I’m being defined by writing on the novel. Which is so odd, since for the longest while, I felt vaguely guilty writing the novel and not short stories. Oh, how my brain delights in flummoxing and annoying me (and, I suspect, most writers)!

In the interim, I’ve been reading some interesting things. The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker, is a lovely story about (strangely enough!) a golem and a jinni, both of whom end up on American shores in the late 1880’s. I’m not finished with it yet, but it’s engaging, with much loveliness in tone and telling.

 

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Writer’s Desk, 6/3

I’ve got nothing else exciting going on, so here: look at my desk!

Out the window: A vivid aquamarine sky with white puffs of clouds. Palms swaying in the gentle breeze, and a hummingbird getting annoyed by my motions. Why can’t I just hold still and let her (no red throat) feed?

On the desktop: A mug of water, as usual. Sen Cha Green Tea Mints (gluten free!). And a really terrible sugar cookie with “key lime” icing. So sweet! So bland. But I’m eating it. (sigh)

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Editing short stories, written during the novel’s first draft and then left to languish, into something resembling submittable forms. Today I’m focusing on two, both of which started life as flash fiction, and only one of which will remain flash (maybe). The other will be closer to 2,000 words. I love them both.

One is SF, the other fantasy. I love both sub-genres within spec fic, and can’t stick to just one. I’m still not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing that will have no bearing on anything. I’ll let you know when (if) I find out.

During this year so far, I’ve written (but not edited to submittable) ten short stories. My goal is 12 edited and submitted. I also finished the novel, am planning the short novel series that I’m hoping to begin writing later this year, and will start editing the novel in late July or August. So, while it sounds like I’m so far ahead and how amazing is that, really, I’ll barely have time to get it all done if I don’t get my tail in gear.

I realize that I really missed getting short stories out for submission during the novel’s writing. Finalizing a short story and sending it out for beta, and then onto submission rounds, feels like “instant accomplishment.” Writing a novel? Delayed gratification. Neither is better, but I think I need a balance of the two to prevent myself from getting too ansty. Next time, I’ll do better. I promise.

And Another Couple of Things:  Dasher’s swimming has progressed to the point where he sometimes goes in for a swim just because he can. Or because it’s hot and he wants to cool off. And he swims like a champ, not a rock. Sometimes he launches himself off the step, chasing the frisbee with such enthusiastic force that he makes a wave, and leaves a wake. (Insert proud dog-mom face here)

Also, the garden is going gangbusters. Tomatoes like…um, delicious ripe tomatoes. And more basil than I can keep up with. I’ve already frozen some pesto for when it all goes limp and gives up (sometime in August?).  At the farmers’ market, there are eggplants to make you weep. Can you say “eggplant parmesan?” Yum.

Which brings me to dinner. Off I go. Happy June, everyone!

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“Blue Flame” Now Live at Saturday Night Reader

There you have it. Today, “Blue Flame Burns the Hottest” goes live at Saturday Night Reader. It’s a soft and sweet near-future SF flash tale about families, and tech, and growing together instead of apart. It deals with a woman growing actually wiser as she grows older, even though it’s hard.

The working title was the none-too-pleasant “Grannie’s VR.” Still, it encapsulated the dichotomy of the story I wanted to tell–Grandma: old-fashioned and supposedly out of touch, with VR: modern, shiny, & futuristic.

Some of this comes from the sense I have, as I grow older, of feeling out-of-date to my lively, pre- and early-teen great-nieces and great-nephews. (Hey, no judging here! I’ve been a great-aunt since college! It just means I’m great!) How much more so will this be when home tech takes another momentous leap forward, and I’m not on that wave? When, like my mother-in-law with the TV remote (or my own long-gone grandmother with the automobile), I’ll need help figuring out all this new-fangled stuff? And what great things will come along with it?

I’m all for a virtual immersive experience–how cool would that be? It could change so much: gaming, work, study and research, even travel. But as with Caroline in the story, I would still want some in-person face time to keep familial connections strong, and actual in a world going virtual. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But I think it makes a neat story, too.

 

Edited to add: Well, that’s a little embarrassing! I set this post to automatically post itself at 8:30 this morning, and didn’t get around to checking my email/online life until nearly noon. (Yes, I’m keeping holiday hours today!) Only then did I discover that my story isn’t up yet. Perhaps SNR forgot about the holiday they scheduled my story? Or it’ll post later in the day? Well, whatever the case, I’m leaving this post for when it does go live. As they say, better early than late…???

Further edited to add: Weee! Now it’s up! Go forth and read…please?

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Squee Alert!

joyous leapI finished the first draft of my novel today! 

/collapses back onto chair–squees with joy–collapses deeper in exhaustion/

It feels so good to be done with the first draft, for numerous reasons:

  • It’s an accomplishment, one I’ve been heading towards for a year! Getting here feels great.
  • It’s a relief. I had planned on it’s first draft only taking 90-120 days, but life imploded, slowing everything. And I discovered I hadn’t planned as well as I thought, necessitating extended writing near the ending. (Much of what I wrote near the beginning will be cut.) Wordcount blossomed into a veritable Jack’s beanstalk. So the “unending novel,” as it came to be known, kind of ate my writing life.
  • It’s a joy, for now I can move on with other projects that have been stalled or impatiently waiting their turns for my full, undivided attention as I lavished nearly all my writing time on the novel. Like what? Editing contest stories written to first-draft form to an actual submission state. Upping my submission count, which has fallen perilously low. Finalizing the plan for the series that I want to write and probably self-pub. Keeping up with slush reading. Finishing the online writing class I’m taking. Resting my brain before diving into novel editing (which will be significant).
  • For a short, short while, it’s one more thing off my attention radar. I’ve been struggling to maintain equilibrium with both life and writing of late, and this gives me a wee bit more breathing room without me feeling like I’ve “dropped the ball” on anything. Or disappointed myself.

In celebration, I’m officially giving myself the weekend off! Ooh, and it’s a long weekend, as well. What nice timing for lots of rest and lazing in the sunshine.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! :-)

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Temporary Distractions

Life is throwing me many distractions, the biggest one right now being the health of my dog. After his latest seizure, the vet has come to suspect Dasher may have a liver shunt. In other words, blood doesn’t go through his liver and get purified of the body’s toxins, but instead goes around it, keeping the toxin load until it stews his brain, causing seizures. Even now, he’s at the vet’s office, getting an ultrasound to check for shunts.

On one hand, this would be wonderful, since finding a cause means finding a potential cure. But that cure would be surgery. Again. Right as he’s recovering enough to be active after his latest knee surgery. It’s only May, and he’s already had surgery twice already this year, plus seizures, and many, many vet trips sprinkled in between.

Also, there’s a chance the surgery wouldn’t be successful, or entirely successful. Which would mean a greatly shortened lifespan–maybe in the months.

But all this is potential, as nothing is known at this point in time. And the ultrasound may prove inconclusive. And (insert more wheel spinning here).

Instead of dwelling on all that, I want to show you some beautiful things happening now. Distractions of a good kind. So, here are photos:

First gardenia blossom off the tiny shrub planted last fall. Yes, it smells wonderful!

First gardenia blossom off the tiny shrub planted last fall. Yes, it smells wonderful!

Hibiscus flower, going great guns in blossom. This colored flower lasts two days, making it a real treat.

Hibiscus flower, going great guns in blossom. This colored flower lasts two days, making it a real treat.

Update: the ultrasound came back clean, so it looks like instead of surgery, Dasher gets another drug added to his mix. Not sure if this is a good thing or not. But hey, no surgery–so yay!

Dasher finds a lap in the pool. Naturally.

Dasher finds a lap in the pool. Naturally. (Yeah, I can’t quite stop thinking of this happy, happy dog.)

Tiny figs! The first ones one the potted tree we're keeping away from the squirrels.

Tiny figs! The first ones on the potted tree we’re keeping away from the squirrels.

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Posting Wherein I Talk About…a Sale!

/sound of throat clearing/ Ah. Hrrmph. Yes.

Last night I got an acceptance email from (are you ready for this one?) Michael J. DeLuca, who is guest-editing the July edition of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He officially accepted my story, “Putting Down Roots,” for that issue.

I am over the moon with joy about this. Yes, every sale is special. And wonderful. And utterly, utterly delightful. But with this one, it just felt like all the stars aligned and the weather cooperated and the apocalypse held itself at bay, all at the exact right moment. Let me explain.

You see, LCRW is an approximately twice-yearly print magazine put out by the editors of Small Beer Press. It’s a very literary and somewhat funky little magazine that I’ve admired for years. Normally, writers must submit their stories by postal mail for consideration, and then a reply may take 6 months or longer. And the competition is fierce, because this is a very highly regarded ‘zine. I’ve held off submitting for the longest time, more than a little intimidated by all the above.

And then, out of the blue, along came this special call. It’s the first time they’ve used a guest editor. He opened to email submissions, also a first, I believe. But Mr DeLuca requested a theme for submissions: humanity’s relationship with the earth. He was hoping for some optimism, he said. And what did I just happen to have, sitting on my computer? A little story, somewhat unique, dealing with just that. Not even out somewhere else, but waiting. As if it knew.

(Okay, really, neither the story nor I had any idea that this was coming up, or that we’d actually make the final cut. But the story is one I’m very proud of, and yes, I’m just so very, very pleased that it found such a nice home. And getting in on the “first” of anything, well, it feels historical to me, extra-special. This one has it covered twice. So there you have it, without the woo-woo bit.)

I’ll be sure to remind you in July when the magazine is released. Until then, I may be busy dancing on the moon. :-)

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And “Amma’s Wishes” is up at PodCastle!

That’s right! “Amma’s Wishes” went live at PodCastle today, so you can click the link and listen to Marguerite Kenner narrate my story.

It’s more than a little weird, and very wonderful, to hear someone else reading your words, and putting voice to your characters. Ms Kenner does great job bringing Amma, Fillmorr, and the rest of the characters to life by infusing their emotions into her reading voice. So, thank you, Marguerite Kenner!

Waiting for the small tidbit about this story’s creation? How about this: the story came about due to having read advice to “never start a story in a D&D style inn.” When I read that, I thought, “Ha! I could pull that off. After all, no one ever writes from the POV of the serving wench there.”

Needless to say, I spent a summer in high school as a waitress. And while “my” restaurant was nowhere near as bad as the Dragon’s Beard Inn, it hosted some interesting characters, including owner/managers with some oftentimes strange notions of how things should be.

And so it goes. Life becomes art, becomes life again as I type up this post about a story sale. Pretty wonderful.

I had a blast writing “Amma’s Wishes,” and I hope you enjoyed listening to it. And of course, if you did (and you can spare it), tip a donation to PodCastle by clicking their donation button on their website. Thanks!

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