A Very Successful Residency, with Sunset Pics

My two-week residency is, alas, over. I am home again, and fully immersed once more in my “real life.” Which isn’t bad–I missed my husband, and my dog, and I’m glad to see my neighbors and friends again, and to be back in my house. But I have to admit that the time I spent at the Key West Literary Seminar apartment was magical. It was so quiet there at the end of the lane! I greeted every dawn from my tiny balcony, watching the sky turn from white to pink to blue while roosters crowed their dominance to the world, and temperatures rose from moist-and-blissful to daytime sweaty-hot. Which meant it was time to retreat inside and write.

My workspace at the residency: spacious and inviting.

And write I did! In just 2 weeks, I managed over 27,000 words on the novel alone! I also edited four separate short stories, and sent one out on submission for the first time. On one particular day, I wrote 2800 words on the novel, then came back later to edit a short story–and I didn’t feel burned out or destroyed! With no other responsibilities on my plate, all my energy went into my writing. I felt (and still feel!) like during this time I was transformed into Super-Writer.

I broke my writing into three, sometimes four, separate sessions, and them divided with time spent walking or biking across the island, taking in sights, or doing activities. I snorkeled at the beach, watched many sunsets, visited the KW Garden Club’s awesome location, rode through various neighborhoods taking in the sights, ate ice cream, cruised Duval Street, toured both Hemingway House and the Oldest House, played pinball, walked the waterfront often, and took a sunset cruise. I caught up on my sleep, read a lot, and felt like I was living in a slightly-fuzzy dream.

Then I look at my novel, at the word count tracker and the number of plot points I’ve already written and realize it was no mere dream. It was real.

A series of sunrise photos:

Thank you again to the KWLS and the people that make this happen. The dream is real; you can apply.

Sunset from Ft Zachary Taylor State Park

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Hey, What the Heck’s Been Going On? A Round-Up

I’ve had an incredibly busy summer–and now that it’s fall (by human reckoning, if not by Mother Nature’s calendar), I’d like to tell you about it. Get comfy–grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair–as this may take awhile.

First off, I’ve been battling some not-fun health issues. I won’t get into them here, but suffice it to say, I’ve not been getting as much writing done as I’d like, and that has made me a bit grumpy. And, it loosed the ever-patient brain weasels–you know, those mad little beasts that like to nibble away at your self-confidence, erode your cheer into fear, etc., at any chance. If you’re a creative of any time, I’m sure you’ve experienced them. Basically, not writing made me cringe, but whatever writing I did wasn’t “good enough,” or even just “enough.” I should have been doing more. Which made me want to not want to write, because it made me feel bad. Which unleashed yet more brain weasels…

You see how this is a nasty cycle. Fortunately, (I think?) I’m familiar enough with this that I just keep plugging away at it. I let the weasels run riot and do my darnedest to ignore them. They don’t go away, but at least I don’t let them monopolize my brain.

So despite the weasels, I managed to finish the first draft of Unspoken, and I’m closing in on my plan for the rewrite, which is what Draft 2 will be: a complete rewrite.

You might think I’d be upset about that, and well, let’s face it–I wish I could just do a quick polish and know it’s “perfect.” Of course I do. But it’s not, and I’m okay with that. I know what I need to do, and I want this novel to be good, really good. I feel it can get there, and this is the way to do it. (Thanks go to my husband, and my VP, Taos, and Codex friends and acquaintances who’ve been cheerleaders along the way, keeping me up when I got down, and shouting down the weasels when they got to me.)

How can you not love this guy?

The dog has been mostly good, fortunately. He had a pretty hard seizure yesterday, but it’s the first for a while. Since he’d been kenneled, I’m not sure what the trigger was for this one–maybe just stress? He is a homebody and a cling-on boy, so it may well be the case. Other than this, he’s been good. No surgeries, no real illnesses (other than a startling case of allergy to some pollen or another), just chillin’ away the summer heat and humidity. So YAY!

How would you even describe that shade of purple?

At the beginning of summer, the plum tree went berserk, and I managed to make all the plum jam. Now the beautyberry bush is in full lavender berry, and I’m making beautyberry jelly. It’s really very good, and made a terrific ice cream! Fiddly as all get out to pick the berries off the stems, and pull out the leaves and other various debris, but worth it in the end. The recipe I used is here.

Spousal Unit and I celebrated our anniversary recently–a big one, too. One that’s valued as a precious metal, even–Silver! (But it’s odd, I don’t feel that old.) To celebrate, we went to Disney World (hence the dog being kenneled), and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I got to wake up and look out our balcony window to see giraffes, zebra, antelope, springbok, and more. I was in heaven! Interns from various African countries worked at the lodge, and were very happy to discuss their countries’ various cultures, animals, foods, economies, etc. It was really amazing, and I loved every bit of it. Here are some pics, just because I need to share the joy:

Giraffes from our lodge

Reaching for that palm

Mama and baby Nyala antelope at the lodge

Another stretch!

Sunrise antelope

Evening at the lodge’s main viewing station: pink pelicans, giraffe, wildebeest…

A great group of interns finishing up their year at Disney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last pic is of a fantastic group of interns we met while in line at the Pandora ikrom ride (which is awesome!). They were finishing up their yearlong internships at Disney, and would soon be heading back to Singapore. We had a great 50 minutes line-wait chatting together, and they had nothing but good to say about their experience.

Which brings me back to home. And the upcoming trip…

This next weekend, weather and hurricanes permitting, I’m heading off to a 2-week residency in Key West, where I’ll be feverishly working on the novel’s rewrite. I’m so excited I’m bouncing at the prospect of 2 full weeks with nothing to do but write and, well, basically keep myself alive by eating and sleeping. I’ll report back once I’m home, but don’t expect to see a lot from me (yeah, I know–what else is new?!?) during the end of September. Maybe on Twitter now and again, but probably not too much.

I’ll leave you with a bit of good news: my story Cold Currents has gotten a publication date! You’ll be able to read it in January 2019 at Abyss & Apex Magazine. Hurray! And yes, I’ll be sure to update with a reminder at publication time.

Until then, enjoy September!

 

 

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Another review for “After the Story Ends”

(Note: Yes, this is rather late. Sorry about that–life, yada yada)

Back in the spring, SFRevu did a column on Galaxy’s Edge Magazine #30, which includes my story, After the Story Ends. And it seems they liked it! Hurray! Here’s the relevant bit:

“After the Story Ends” by M.E. Garber -+- Melanie Smead has rescued her daughter, Aurora, from Fairy and returned home with her. Happy ending? Well, the problem is that she misses the beautiful land of Fairy and can’t stand the humdrum real world. What can she do? An imaginative tale with a good resolution.

Needless to say, I’m very pleased that the reader/reviewer enjoyed this one, and I hope you do as well. You can find it in the archives of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine’s website.

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Home Again, Home Again

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I’m back from my trip to London, where I stayed with friend and Taos Toolbox roommate, Mel Melcer. We had a great time, and ended up nearly walking our feet off. And hey, I discovered some things about the UK. … Continue reading

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Traveling, and the End of the Plums.

Let’s start with that second item first. The plums. They are finished. The tree is bare of fruit, and even the counter holds only what we’ll eat today on its surface. The rest has been frozen, eaten, given away, or otherwise preserved. We are well-set with plums for the year!

The reason spousal unit and I wanted the tree’s “Closed for the Season” sign raised is that later today I’ll be leaving on a week-long trip. I’ll stay with a writing friend and visiting two others. (Sorry, Adam, I can’t find you online!) We all met at Taos Toolbox, so that just shows that lasting friendships can be made at workshops, even for introverts like me.

My bag is packed, and right now the dog is asleep on my lap, blissfully unaware (well, mostly; he did see the suitcase and had a bit of a freak, which is why he’s on my lap even though he’s nearly 30 lbs!) of my imminent departure. I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m hoping the trip is uneventful, I’m sure I’ve forgotten a thing or three. I’ll be out of touch until after I return–let’s just call it July–when I’ll post an update here, probably with pics!

Until then, carry on, and happy Wednesday.

Posted in food, Personal Life, Travel | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Reading, Writing, and Herbs? Oh Yes!

Because I know a lot of my readers (like me) love gardening and herbs and doing stuff with that produce in addition to reading, I just have to share a link to Frances Silversmith’s website with you. She has introduced a great section there. Called “The Herbwoman’s Arts,” she talks here about herbs in fiction, especially SFF. So far, she’s discussed things like laudanum, healing salves and what goes in them, and how St John’s wort might stop not only depression but also nasty Fae trolls! It’s a lot of fun, and pretty interesting too. Go take a look!

Posted in Links, Magic of the Everyday, signal boosting | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Residency!

current mood: jumping for joy

I am very pleased to announce that I’ve been selected for a two-week writer’s residency in Key West this fall. The Key West Literary Society sent me an acceptance email this morning, and I am still bubbling over with my joy and enthusiasm for this amazing opportunity, and at the thought of having two weeks totally dedicated to all things writing (and editing)! Until then, I’ll be editing the novel in bits and pieces, hoping to get the first revision pass done and the novel sent out to my  beta readers.

Now, can we all just cross our fingers that no hurricanes blow in and toss this lovely plan into the weeds?

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Writer’s Desk, 5/29/18

Out the window: Low, dense clouds that sometimes spit sprinkles of rain. The forecast calls for storms later this afternoon, and as it’s getting darker, it looks like the forecast may be right. Oops. There it is–heavy rain, hitting the metal roof hard enough to echo and reverberate in a mysterious, lovely way that makes me crave a good book, and a nap.

On the desktop: Not much, really. The usual odds and ends of notebooks waiting for words, my glasses case, Burt’s Bees lip balm, and a pack of gum.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Structural edit notes to my novel, Unspoken. I’ve gotten a printout of the novel and am marking it up by hand, so I can see at a glance the length of each scene, how many pages each one is, and how many slow or fast scenes are bunching up. I can flip pages to see how long the pace has been fast, or if it’s gone from “a breather” into “catatonic,” and make notes to fix this, as necessary.

Sometimes this is a faster process than writing, and other times, it’s far, far slower. Regardless, it’s a process that definitely needs to happen, and I’m learning much from it–about myself as “a writer” (vs as “an editor”),  about my craft and skill levels, about my protagonist, and about what the novel is really, really about.

And, while yes, I wrote these words, I’m reading them from enough distance now that they’re almost new to me. And this is a good thing. I’m not just slipping over them, but I’m reading them the way I’d read another’s novel, and seeing all those flaws (OMG, the flaws! There are so many!). I’m also seeing the things I did really quite well. Which is always a pleasant surprise.

And Another Thing: Oh my gosh, the plums! The little tree is just ripening those fruit so fast now that it’s a challenge to keep up with them all, and the rains keep knocking them off the tree to the ground… We’ve had plum jam, plum cake, and plum ice cream. Next up is a plum crumble, I think. And of course, more plum jam. I think I’m going plum crazy!

Posted in Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments