Writer’s Desk, 8/18

Um, the desk is kind of messy today. Promise me you won’t laugh!

Out the window: Hot hot hot, and more humid than the bathroom shower stall post-shower. Bright sun with occasional bouts of heavy, rain-laden clouds obscuring the sky entirely. Later it will probably rain. (I can’t wait. Not that it will cool off any; it’ll just make me feel better about the humidity.)

On the desktop: An explosion of notes, a notebook propped open to a page with editing comments, 3″ x 5″ cards, pens, mug, glasses case, along with the usual clutter. A bright cloth lizard watches over the mess with bead eyes bright.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: I’m hard at work on the Urban Fantasy series that I’m planning to self-publish (once it’s entirely done). What, haven’t I mentioned this? I thought I had…hmmm. Well, let me introduce you! Series, blog. Blog, series. Um, no, the series doesn’t have a name just yet. That’s one of the things I’m working on. I’m just calling it by the name of the protagonist, Jessamin Stow, for now. Or maybe, The Rogue Series. Or, well, something along those lines.

I’m a couple of chapters in to the first book, and so far, the writing is going swimmingly. (yay!) But this is the first time I’ve tried a series, so I’ve outlined all 3 initial books (there may or may not be others after this point), and I plan on having a solid first draft of all three before I finalize and publish the first one. That way, any mistakes I find along the way I can (with any luck) correct easily and quickly. This is the plan. The first casualty of any conflict is often the plan, however. We’ll see how this one goes. (Wish me luck?)

And Another Things: I sent a flurry of short stories out on submission yesterday, so I’m feeling particularly virtuous and productive today. And the dog is off to his physical therapy, so I have a few precious hours totally alone in which to deeply concentrate and write. Which I’m off to do, right now. I can’t wait!

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My First Author Interview!

Each week, Michael J. DeLuca (guest-editor of LCRW #33) is posting an interview of one of his authors on his blog. Mine is up today! There are two other interviews before mine, and more to come after, so if you’re interested in those sharing the Table of Contents with me, read on! (I’m finding it fun and fascinating.)

If you’re finding me through that interview, hello and welcome to my online home. Feel free to leave a note; as always, comments are on.

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An Anniversary

IMG_0369One year ago today, I walked into my current home as an owner. My husband and I had traveled a day and three-quarters from New Jersey, packed into a rental van with everything that the movers wouldn’t carry. While I’d technically become a “homeowner” about five days earlier, this is the day I actually moved in.

It was a glorious day. Suddenly, I owned palm trees! (By the end of the week, when our furniture arrived, it was nearly equally as glorious. We were so tired of sitting on hard tile floors! Who’d have thought a chair could look so precious?)

Mostly, it’s been a good year. In our personal lives some terrible things have happened, but through it all, we’ve enjoyed living here. I’ve discovered how much there is to learn about northern Florida gardening, and plants. I’ve discovered new kinds of snakes and mushrooms, and the perils of wasps and ants and armadillos. I walked around in “winter” wearing long pants and short sleeves, and been warm enough. We adopted a wonderful, joyful dog, and guested friends and family from the north, while meeting new neighbors and making new friends who live nearby.

Thanks, Gainesville! We’re looking forward to another year.

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Rain, Rain, Rain!

The low pressure system that has been hovering over us for days and “gifting” us with drenching rains has finally floated away to the northeast. Not to say it didn’t rain here today; it did, but it didn’t last hours or come down in unending bucketsful, flooding every surface. Whew. Actually, I think I might see some sunlight sneaking down from between the clouds. :-)

bluemilkcapThe rains brought out a new (to me) resident in our gardens: Lactarius indigo commonly known as the indigo milk cap mushroom, or the blue milk mushroom. Of course I had to look it up, and of course I wondered if they were edible. Apparently so, but the taste is debatable, so I passed on this one. Also, they just look too pretty. I mean, blue plants–how awesome!

We also discovered why the gazebo (the deck and railings without a roof) that the former owners left us is slanting. Despite the chicken wire underneath it, an armadillo dug an exit (entrance?) hole beneath it, right next to the far support, undermining it. We discovered this as we dismantled the flooring and lifted the first board, revealing a fairly recently excavated hole. Sigh. No wonder the dog has been going a bit batty over there of late–fresh armadillo scent. Bleah. Now to convince the armadillo that this is really not a good home.

Hmph, now that sunshine is gone and the clouds are thickening again. Looks like more rain. It’s a good time for writing. I’m off to it.

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Pindo Palm Jelly! Almost…

pindojellyI did it–I cooked a big batch of pindo fruit down into juice and turned that into jelly! Or, well, runny jelly. It didn’t solidify, or gel, quite enough. But the runny jelly works fine as a sauce for veggies or fish, and will be lovely over yogurt or ice cream.

I immediately tried it out, and it worked like a charm. Pindo jelly sweetened the sweet potato puree, giving it a tropical touch, and made a beautiful simmer sauce for tilapia.

The flavor is unique and lovely–somewhere in the vicinity of peach, mango and apricot, but with banana notes and maybe some pineapple-y-ness, and some wee effervescence of coconut. Delicious! If you get the opportunity to try some, I suggest you do.

Now I need to come up with ways to use this bounty. Hmmm, how about pindo ice cream…?

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Another First!

This is pretty exciting: my first Lois Tilton/Locus review! It’s for Putting Down Roots, my story in LCRW #33–the print version of which is now available. I’m relieved to say she certainly didn’t dislike my story, and so I’ve come out pretty much unscathed (whew! Although getting a bad review from Lois is, I think, a rite of passage, it’s one I’m willing to forgo awhile). Also, the final story in this month’s edition,The March Wind by Eric Gregory, gets a “recommended,” which is pure awesomeness.

Due to my travels, this “news” is terribly late, but…if you were at Readercon, you may have stumbled upon a group reading by the LCRW #33 guest editor and selected attending authors. I heard it was well-received, and I applaud Michael J. DeLuca for organizing this (and I wish I could have attended).

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Of Pindo Palms and Golden Dogs

pindopalm

Pindo Palm

pindofruit

Ripening fruits

There are two pindo palms in my yard. They are also known as “jelly palms” because in the past folks made jelly from the pectin-rich yellow-orange fruits. These palms bear lots of fruit on a flowering  inflorescence, and because I have two of them, and because I like making jelly, I’m giving pindo palm jelly a go (using the recipe on that second link).

Today I pitted and cooked about 2.5 cups of pindo fruit in water to make juice. There will be more fruit ripening soon, and I’ll wait until then to cook a batch of jelly from it. Once I do, I’ll post pictures and let you know how it goes. With luck, it will taste “like the tropics,” as one site claimed.

Dasher’s medical concerns are still a big thing. He blew out his second surgery when 2 separate aggressive dogs charged him in three days, and he retreated from both in a big hurry. sigh. Instead of us charging into Surgery #3, I requested physical therapy for him, to increase his atrophied muscles, and wow, has that ever been successful! His muscles are noticeably larger, and he’s starting to bear weight on his “bad” back leg. And, even better, his patella is moving up and into position as the muscles and tendons tighten and strengthen. We may just avoid another patella surgery after all!

The face of the Golden Dog?

The face of the Golden Dog?

Part of his “at home” exercise has been swimming, which he absolutely loves. I never thought he’d be a “jump into the deep water like a Labrador” kind of dog, but he totally is now. He even dives in head-first to get those toys below the surface!

Then he slipped on the wet concrete, and landed on his shoulder. Of course, he bruised his muscles and limped a few days, but seemed to be getting better. When we returned from our trip, however, his limp had increased.

At first, the vets thought it was simply a case of his walking funny to accommodate his injured rear leg for so long, which was straining his shoulder. Once his rear leg healed, his shoulder injury would go away too. What a relief.

Now, however, the theory is that he just might have shoulder dysplasia. That’s like hip dysplasia–where the hip bone is deteriorating–but in his front shoulders. Both of them. If so, it would eventually require–you guessed it–surgery.

See that pile over there? That’s me in a quivering mass of denial and mental anguish at just the thought of more surgeries on this poor, poor dog!

This got me thinking that, besides being a medical mess, poor Dasher is the dog literally worth his weight in gold. But is he? Well, I tallied it up yesterday, and he’s (fortunately) falling short, for now. I’m not sure what the total of his bills is, but to be worth his weight in gold as of yesterday, we’d have to had spent $540,560 on him. We are nowhere near that, thank all that’s good.

We are, though, extremely thankful for the pet insurance we got with him, and that we continued paying into once it became apparent he’d need surgery (during our free month’s trial). Trupanion has paid 90% of his seizure expenses (after initial deductible), and 90% of his two surgeries for his patella to date (after that deductible). This is quite a chunk of cash, let me tell you! And they will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

I kind of laughed at the thought of pet insurance when we got Dasher. After all, he’s a dog–a puppy, even! But it was free for the first month, so I shrugged and signed up. And now, wow. My dog, unfortunately, is the poster child for why you should really do this if you can. We did, and I am so glad.

I get that not everyone can afford pet insurance. I also understand that for a healthy dog, it might not pay off in the long run. I sure hope that our next dog doesn’t ever come close to covering his/her monthly co-payments. But I am going to get it if I can, that’s for sure.

That’s it in a nutshell here. Dog and palms and carrying on with life as we know it. As the Queen would say, Keep Calm and Write On.

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LCRW #33 is now available!

I’ve been quiet for awhile, because I’ve just returned from visiting some friends in Germany, and wow! It was warm there! Like, crazy-warm. After they had such a long, cool spring, it seems like we took central Florida weather along with us.

It was nice to be back in Germany, and to speak German again (mine had gotten quite rusty) and hear it around me. To see old stones and new architecture mingling and merging into a city, or a neighborhood. Or more like the gentle, respectful rubbing of shoulders of the generations, each lovely and unique, and yet best as part of a conversation that creates a greater, complex society. (I may post some pictures later, as time allows.)

While I was gone, some exciting things happened:

I’m very excited to announce that the Michael J. DeLuca guest-edited edition of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is now available for purchase–especially because I’m one the included authors. Putting Down Roots is my included story, and I’m very pleased to be included in this amazing lineup!

Putting Down Roots started as a prompt to write a story with a format other than traditional narrative prose. I had never attempted this before. It was a challenge, and fun, to write an SF story into one side of a conversation. Also, I’d been reading about research into trees and the fact that they do communicate…and here came this story.

I found this entire issue to be amazing. I hope you do as well.

Also, my story The Giveaway Box was accepted at Abyss & Apex, and should be appearing there in October! Hurray! This one is contemporary fantasy with a light speculative element.

I hope your July (July already! Ack!) is going well. And now, I’m back to catching up on all the things that fell behind while I was away. (You guessed it: laundry, cutting grass, weeding, etc.)

 

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