Happy Holidays, and Looking Forward to 2020

Well, another month has simply flown by. If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling behind on about 3 fronts right now. Let me tell you what I’m telling myself: relax. If it doesn’t get done, it’ll just have to wait. It can wait. It will wait. Take care of yourself and don’t forget to breathe, and simply be. (Yes, I know–easier said than done.)

close up of sculpture at Lake Eola Park, Orlando

Close up of sculpture at Lake Eola Park, Orlando

And what’s got me all wrapped up and running? Pretty much all of life. ūüôā

Dasher the bionic dog’s latest leg surgery went well, but he started to not use the leg post-recovery, so he needed physical therapy to teach him to use the leg and put on muscle that he’d lost. Then he had a few seizures (relating to his inoculation; I expected it, but still they eat time and cause stress/worry). We boarded Dash for a Thanksgiving road trip, had a great time there, then had a L-O-N-G and painful trip home due to ridiculous traffic. Two days after we dragged ourselves into our home, guests arrived. We had a good time with them, showing them the central FL sights over 10 days. The retaining wall in our back yard was finally finished, and now merely requires about 3 yards of good soil to be delivered and filled into the new flower beds–and the weather is perfect for this! But now my husband has had knee surgery and is in recovery, hobbling around on crutches and trying to keep his knee elevated. I’m getting to play nurse. And chauffeur. And gopher. And…

And let’s just not mention all the stuff going on in the news, which as you are well aware is sure to cause heartburn and stress and mental angst. Ho-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, indeed!

All this “activity” has meant my writing time has taken a hit, and my productivity has nose-dived. I’m still hitting the computer, but my poor, beleaguered brain isn’t working as fast with all the stresses being thrown at it (thank you very much, auto-immune diseases, for tanking my brain whenever I get stressed!). And yet, here I am, still plugging away, still in love with the characters of my novel, still looking longingly at short fiction’s “instant gratification” and wondering if I can sneak in time for writing one…

In January, the annual Codex flash fiction writing contest begins, and I’ve raised my hand as one wishing to participate at least once during the 5-week event. After the crazies of this last month, I feel I deserve a small break. So YAY flash fiction! And YAY new year!

Tomorrow, though, is the winter solstice. The longest night, and shortest day. A good time for reflection on the past, contemplation of the future, and planning. For coming to peace with yourself, your situation, and the world, such as it is. Which is what I’ll be doing.

As the days slowly lengthen and more sunlight returns, I hope to be settling into a new rhythm, adjusting to the season and hitting my writing stride once again.

Peace to all in the new year.

More inclusive view of the sculpture

Posted in Magic of the Everyday

Halfway Through November’s NaNoWriMo; How’s It Going?

I know, I can’t quite believe it either, but here we are at November 15. Halfway through the month, and for those doing NaNoWriMo, panic may be setting in.

I’m not exactly doing NaNo–it doesn’t fit with my way of writing, and would just frustrate the crap outta me. Combine that with some serious home stresses right now, and well. Recipe for disaster, anyone?

Still, I have a goal for this month. I’m doing deep revision on this novel, and the goal is to get through the “giant swampy middle,” otherwise known as Act 2, by the end of the month. I’m a tad behind, but only a little bit, so I’m not really concerned. Instead, I’m kind of surprised I’m not more behind than I am–which means I’m actually quite pleased! So … wow. I’m making this happen after all! Go me. ūüôā

And if you’re doing NaNo, good luck. Don’t panic. Not “winning” NaNo doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or not a writer. It just means that, like me, NaNo isn’t for you. Just keep writing, at your own pace. Good luck.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , ,

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‚Äôs 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.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk | Tagged , , ,

Well There Went Two Months…

Gah! Don’t turn around or time will come ’round and bite you in the rear end. Hard. Like it just did for me.

Since last we chatted, my husband was sick, then finally recovered, but he still needs to schedule his knee surgery. My dog is now currently¬†having knee surgery, after a strange bout with some increased seizure activity. At home, we at long last got the okay from our HOA to get our steep and slipping back yard terraced, and with the rain now stopped, the landscaper can begin moving in supplies. All by hand, because of tiny gate area to the back yard. We got two rooms of our home painted (before this the whole house, inside and out, was pale mocha with white trim, inside and out, and I was dying of boredom), and I’m hoping we’ll see more rooms in color before too long. The pool solar has been replaced after unexpectedly dying. And all along, I’ve been working on the revision of the novel.

Revising is slow going at the moment. I’m writing a couple entirely new chapters to replace a number of chapters that are cut completely out. By changing the plot/character arc near the end of the last draft, I knew this work would come along…and sure enough, here it is. It’s gratifying to see the work coming together into a cohesive whole, but it’s also a slow and tedious process right now, since this is the first thicket of change–and area where the changes cluster and make totally new drafting necessary. I’m holding onto that memory of revitalization I felt at WorldCon, and using that to shove myself through the work each day. Until the end of the day’s effort, when I sit back and realize, Yeah, this is actually working. This is sounding like an actual novel. Astonishing!

In the natural world, autumn has crept in while I wasn’t looking. Here in the Orlando area, that means that I’ll wear long pants and t-shirts in the mornings, and again in the evenings, while the daytime temps still reach the balmy upper 80’s or low 90’s. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to actual winter, and being able to turn off the AC, and maybe even wear socks.

Once the terracing is complete, I can begin planting the back yard (just in time for the cooler, garden-pleasant weather!), making the fairly bland space it is now vibrant with plants that smell wonderful, that bring birds and bees, and some that we can eat. I’ve brought a few starts from the old yard that are really wanting spots in the ground, and can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt. And of course, once Dasher recovers from his surgery, he’ll love the flat area to chase a ball or frisbee in, instead of crashing downhill into the fence at the bottom, as he used to do. [Poor dog. No wonder his meniscus gave out! (Well, not really; we didn’t use the back yard at all, but tossed toys in the open, flat front yard instead.)] And I’m going to absolutely love not killing myself while cutting that steep slope, especially the bouncy area over the tree roots that were being washed out from underneath. Aaahhhh, it’s going to be sooo wonderful.

Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of how wonderful it will all be–the book, and the yard. And I’d be glad if you’d do the same. I hope you enjoy autumn, no matter how it exhibits where you live.

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

Returned from Dublin WorldCon 77; a report

My WorldCon Badge, with my joyous “First Worldcon” ribbon.

TL;DR — My first ever WorldCon was so great!

A slightly longer version:
It was just what I needed, when I needed it. Saw lots of people, met some for the first time, played Werewolf and talked shop and watched the Hugo Awards ceremony and thoroughly enjoyed being in Dublin, Ireland. 12/10 Will do again.

The full version:
OMG. melts in a puddle of goo  You guys! It was sooooo awesome. My first WorldCon just rocked it! I even got to be a werewolf for the first time while playing Werewolf, and we destroyed that village! Ha!

Even with the bad stuff, some of which I’m sure you’ve heard if you’ve read anyone else’s WorldCon accounts–the incredibly long and frustrating lines for panels and for kaffeeklatsch sign-ups, the distance between the main convention site and the art/science/costuming site, the overloaded escalators, etc–I had a great time! In addition to meeting up with many friends and acquaintances, I met new people and made new friends! And again, I have to just shout with joy over the fine people over at Codex. Most of these new friends are Codexian that I’d only ever interacted with online. Now, thanks to Dublin WorldCon, I’m thrilled to consider them ReaLife‚ĄĘ friends.

One of the things I was worried about was that my hotel, due to my not registering until rather late, was some distance away from the convention center. Still walkable, but not just down the block. I thought this would limit my interactions during the day, maybe limit my participation in the evenings. Nothing like that happened. If anything, I relished my hotel’s distance, and thoroughly enjoyed my quiet walk to and from the convention as a way to destress and decompress. Just what my introvert self needed to compensate for the go-Go-GO! of the convention itself. And it got me out of “convention mode” and into “admire this great city” mode. Honestly, Dublin made me think “I could live here” time and again. I’d love to go back just to sightsee.

Because of the crowding, the queueing, and the waits, I didn’t attend many panels, but those I did attend really impressed me. And better, the panels–and the con and the entire atmosphere of WorldCon–filled me with joy, and rekindled my enthusiasm for writing, and the writing world that I’m part of today. It reminded me¬†why I write, and lit the fire within me to finish my novel; it showed me that there is a market for such odd things, and that I shouldn’t despair that my novel is just too different.

WorldCon made me feel bold again. And strong, and confident. And all of that is going to help me going forward from here.

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On Brain Weasels and Doubt Roaches and Writing “The End”

Time really does fly, doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday I was wondering how it could possibly be 2019 already, and now the year is on the downswing, the way out, already half over. It’ll be July in a few short days! How?!?!?

We’ll be having our first guests in our new home soon–family members stopping in on the way to Miami and a cruise–which will be wonderful. And shortly after that, I’ll be heading to Dublin, Ireland, for my very first WorldCon! I’m very excited–not only for the convention, but also to see so many online friends ¬†and acquaintances in person, and some dear friends in person, too! Of course, it’ll be great to see the city of Dublin, where I’ve never been. Especially since it means exchanging Orlando’s August weather for Dublin’s August weather; I’ve never been so excited to wear full-length jeans before!

In writing news, I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel, and I’m slowing down. Partly in fear (oh don’t mess it up now!), partly in anticipation (oh this is so exciting! the climactic scenes are tense and tight, a joy I don’t want to rush!), and partly because finishing means I need to start editing the mess into something more resembling a novel, and–yep, you guessed it–I’m just stalling. At least I know this, and am forcing myself to have it finished before next week is out.

It was supposed to be finished by the end of this week…but here it is Friday and I’m not done. Dasher had a really horrible early part of the week, with clusters of seizures over the weekend, and another episode on Monday–this time a focal seizure, where the only symptom is a facial tic. Poor Dasher’s nose and eyes twitched, rather violently at times, for a long, long while. I held him and soothed him and kept him in a darkened room, then stayed near in case it was just the first in another cluster of seizures. Fortunately, it was a stand-alone. This time.

That said, lack of sleep (when he’s having clusters like this, if I hear even a tiny sound at night, I’m suddenly wide awake, expecting it to be another seizure) took its toll, and for a couple days I just couldn’t write a word. I’d stare at the computer, feeling dull, and squint my eyes at the bright dazzle of the screen. Ugh. Not a good way to write the climax of the novel you’ve spent a year on!

So now I’m feeling it again–awake, aware, and eager to write. Mostly. But the longer it takes to type “The End,” the more the Brain Weasels feed me a diet of Doubt.

Coincidently, I’ve been reading the perfect book to combat all this nonsense in my brain. It’s “The Writer’s Book of Doubt,” by Aidan Doyle.¬†A writer himself, editor Aidan Doyle has gathered essays from other writers, and written many himself, on the various ways we manage to Doubt–ourselves, our abilities, even our desire or need to write–and combined them into this book, illustrated with fun line drawings that perfectly capture each essay’s meaning.

Not every essay rang with a pure clarion call for me, but enough certainly have that I’ve found it well worth my time to keep reading! I’ve taken some of the advice and created, for example, my very own Awesomeness Dossier. Even making that made me feel better! Whether your doubt nibbles or cripples, I’d suggest giving this book a look.

And with that, I need to get back. “The End” won’t type itself. And even after that, there’s a whole mess of editing to start.

 

Posted in conventions, Personal Life, the dog, Writing | 4 Comments

Whew!

Well, the transition is over. We are moved out of our previous home, and all our things–both those we stashed in a Pod for showing, and the stuff from the mover’s truck–are in our new house, albeit much still in boxes stacked haphazardly in various spaces. We’re updating the lighting and fans and such things even as we attempt to unpack and put things away, which means everything is going more slowly than we’d like. But it’s going, it’s getting done, and everything we’re updating is delighting us that much more.

And of course, let’s not forget that we have to find various types of doctors, a vet, a chiropractor (sooner rather than later after that Pod!), the good stores to shop at, banks, and two types of pharmacy, and also explore parks and dog parks, cook, clean, cut grass, figure out trash days–basically, live a normal life. Or, well, whatever passes for “normal” in this house, at least.

The Pod got delivered yesterday, and though my back is aching today, the whole thing is cleaned out, ready to be picked up again and carried away. Dasher the dog is in dog-heaven, because he just got a delivery of all the toys that went away before the showing. He’s been carrying around his lemon-head toy, leapt into the pool yesterday again and again for his favorite old frisbee, and fell asleep last night still holding his long squeaky snake toy, which he’d been dragging around like a true prize. All is well on the canine front!

And on the orchid front, as well. My oh my, who knew that just a wee bit south, the orchids just don’t need me to do anything–other than not thoroughly abuse them–in order to flourish. They are thriving on this new location, growing like literal weeds and looking lush and gorgeous. A few are newly in spike, and one that was spiking as we moved (and oh, didn’t that make me nervous, moving that big, spiked orchid; I was so afraid I’d break off that flower spike!) is about ready to burst open. I promise I’ll post pics soon, although they might hit Twitter first.

My new office is wonderful, and after the bedroom where we sleep, it was the first room set up. My novel is up on the wall, 3×5 cards showing the scenes left to write. And I’ve been writing here. It’s a perfect space, and I love it. Let’s hope my writing loves it, too!

And with that, I gotta run. More writing to be written, more packed things to unpack, and  yes, a vet appointment for Dasher to meet his new doctors.

Happy Summer!

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

Moving Blues

Oh my word! The stresses of trying to make your house look like a hotel where no one permanently lives, kept clean by an entire staff, while you actually live there and have no staff but yourself. ¬†While also trying to manage a dog with seizures who is undergoing yet another medical procedure. And, oh yeah–write a book!

As you might have guessed, we’re moving. Again.

Southward, once more. To the Orlando area. I’m excited about some new opportunities, but I’ll be very sad to see the end of many things I’ve loved here. Not only the yard that I’ve transformed into a veritable paradise (to me, at least), filled with fruit and scent and bloom, but the neighbors we have here, and the places we’ve come to love, our beloved solar panels, and the wildlife in this area, too.

Just last evening, we discovered that the owlet on the esplanade is actually one of a pair of owlets! We heard, then saw, them both, cree-ing piteously as dusk settled in under the laurel and live oaks, bobbing their heads and craning their necks as they flapped vigorously, strengthening those wings for the glories of future flights. And the hummingbirds are returning in force to the feeders here, and starting to battle for the feeder territory.

We’re in contract on both ends–selling this home, and buying the new one. But oh my word! (yes, I’m repeating myself. but it deserves repetition; these last few days have been stressful!) Realtors, and unrealistic clauses, and inspections, and deadlines, and so very many phone calls, texts, emails, and voice-messages! It’s like a horror novel that never really took off, but merely devolved into a more ridiculous angsty dread with every passing moment, and no real plot to speak of because things move at both a snail’s pace and with ever-increasing speed at the same time.

All this is to say: well, don’t expect to see much of me around these parts until after June begins. At that time, I’ll be coming to you–with any luck and with the appropriate sacrifices to the various gods of moving, whomever they may be–from the Orlando area. Ensconced in a new office. And with a dog fully recovered from his latest batch of medical stuff.

Wish me luck!

Posted in Moving, Nature, Personal Life, the dog | Tagged , | 1 Comment