Today’s Hilarious Item



So, I’m not sure if this poor frog thinks he’ll turn into a hummingbird if he hangs out in a hummingbird feeder long enough and really believes it, or if he’s exceptionally over-estimating the size of a hummingbird vs the size of his hunger (not to mention the ability of his tongue to trap said hummer).

Either way, there’s a story in this. Feel free to write it!

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Writer’s Desk, 5/17/16

Caution: creaky writer hobbling through. Make way, make way for the woman with the ice pack!

Out the window: A high overcast, with occasional glaring sunshine and less-occasional droplets of falling rain. High humidity making everything feel like wilted lettuce–underwater wilted lettuce. Still and all, a good day for staying inside, ensconced at a comfy desk, and writing.

On the desktop: A blueberry-cardamom scone (we went blueberry picking over the weekend) and a cup of my very special tea–Mariage Freres “French Breakfast.” You can’t put that scone with just any old tea, of course, so I broke into the “good” stuff.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: I’ve taken up Book One in the Jessamin Stow trilogy and have started hacki– um, I mean editing it thoroughly. Not just a “clean up the rough bits” edit, but a hey, this whole bit here is wrong, and the structure is leaning and ready to collapse over here, while this bit is so overwrought it could support three books by itself kind of edit. Structure, pacing, revelations–all of it’s going under the knife. It’s amazing what a couple months’ distance will show you.

And while some of it is cringe-inducing (yes, really. But who doesn’t cringe at their writing errors–in hindsight, they’re so obvious), I’m still really, really enamored with the characters, the story, and the way I see it all evolving into something lovely. One day I’ll get to share it with you. Right now, I get to keep on editing. I get to savor the characters, hugging them to myself before I offer them more hardship and misery to work their way through. And I can’t wait until I see how they end up, after it’s all over.

And Another Thing: Why the fancy tea and indulgent scone, you ask? Because I’m treating myself for putting up with aches and ouches, scrapes and bruises. Yesterday I “bounced” off our paver-surround fire pit, and while today I’m no longer bloody, I am incredibly sore. To coddle myself into putting on my brave face, I’m pulling out the “good stuff,” tea- and treat-wise. It’s working, too. I don’t feel nearly as sorry for myself as I would without them. (And yes, the story of why I bounced off the fire pit is one of idiocy and farce all the way around, so no, I’m absolutely not going to share it. Suffice it to say it involves our version of “Hey y’all, watch this!” And I should know better by now.)

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Kayaking the Santa Fe River



After a few mornings of quite unseasonably cool weather, Sunday got warm. Husband and I decided to “celebrate” by renting a kayak and paddling (sometimes, at least) downstream on the Santa Fe River. This is a fairly long, broad river meandering through northwest Florida, in the Suwanee River watershed.


The amazing thing about this river, though, isn’t the beauty of the river’s banks and the wildlife (although it is picturesque). The truly breathtaking part is the number of freshwater springs that rise up and feed millions and millions of gallons of water into the river. Water bubbles up from underground caverns, in a stream strong enough to make riverview2paddling against it a wee bit of an effort. But you can be rewarded, even without snorkel or dive gear, by peeking into the crystal-clear, aquamarine waters and seeing deep into underwater canyons, mysterious and beautiful (all the more spectacular since the rest of IMG_1872the river is tea-brown from the tannins leaching from leaves and needles). Since I didn’t get good pics of this, check out these here, and here, and more info here. We stopped in at Poe, Lilly, Rum, and Blue Springs on our trip.


Unlike the last time (which, granted, was morning and thus far less human-populated on the river), we saw no baby alligators (boohoo!). But…we did see all the turtles you could hope for, lots of very large mullet leaping high out of the water time and again, a stunning bullfrog, and even a bald eagle. Another glorious day on the river. If only my knees hadn’t gotten sunburned😦

How will all this make it into my writing? I have no idea–not yet. But I’m sure it will, somehow, in ways as mysterious and strange as the springs themselves.

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No Shit, I Want to Read This!

23511c06a5cbc1b7b5edb068153cbfa7_originalHere’s a fun project that is just 10 days away and a few hundred dollars from full funding, and that I really hopes makes it. It’s an anthology called “No Shit, There I Was” and its full of tales I’m dying to read! And it’s from Alliteration Ink!, a great small publisher run by a great guy (I’ve been in one of his previous anthologies, and am still thrilled to be associated with this press). His press release has been denied by some local outlets because he, you know, actively solicits stories from writers from under-represented groups. And who wants that? So in addition to putting out great stories, he’s fighting the good fight against the forces of…mediocrity. Status-quo. Etc.

How do I know I’m dying to read these stories? Because I’m in an online writers’ group with many of them, and I can tell you they write great things! I simply can’t imagine that this themed anthology will make their combined talents wither; instead, I can only believe that such a fantastic prompt will have caused time and space to bow to their might. And I want to read it all! (insert terrible sound of an excited squee and a devious cackle agonizingly merging here)

For a mere $5 pledge on their Kickstarter, you can help fund this anthology and make it real (thus letting me read it!), getting an e-book copy for yourself. That’s pretty much a steal, IMO. I hope you agree. Like I said, I want to read it…

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“With the Taste of Oblivion…” Now Available!

In all the rush and fury of late (and my current state of ill health–yuck!), I missed informing you that my story, “With the Taste of Oblivion in Her Mouth” has gone live at the online magazine Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores. Please note: the stories are behind a paywall. An annual subscription is $12, but I’ve read some great stories there (besides my own, of course!), so I hope you’ll consider joining.

A tidbit about this story? Of course!

This was written in response to two prompts. One was someone having a job that does not exist here-and-now, whether it’s futuristic or fantastical. The other prompt was an event that appears to be calamitous proves not to be so. And I’d been thinking rather a lot about cooking, and all the things flavors can say–how it’s a language in itself, sometimes, and how food can transport people, the same as scent, or sound. All these things wrapped around in my brain, twisting together, until this little story was born.

I hope you enjoy it. Bon appetit!

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Return of an Old Superstition?

So, way back when, in those halcyon early days of this blog, I had this superstition going that when I experienced a wonderful natural or wildlife encounter, I’d soon receive a writing rejection. If the wildlife experience was truly wonderful, I might get two rejections back-to-back. It was reasoned that Mother Nature was trying to make up for the sting of rejection, and was getting there ahead of time. And while I know it was silly, it was also kind of fun.

And it hasn’t happened for years. I’ve not had “amazing” natural experiences. Oh, sure, I’ve seen wildlife, and appreciated the natural world, but nothing truly remarkable or memorable has happened for a little while. Until last night.

The dog pestered me into an evening w-a-l-k (gotta spell that word around here, you know. He knows what it means!), so we went by the turtle pond. The turtle food vending machine has recently been refilled for spring, and he loves hoovering up food spilled at its base, so we paused, and paused, and paused some more (those kids spill a lot of turtle food pellets), and while he sniffed and ate, I looked around at the falling evening. Only a few turtles still swam in the small pond, having instead gone wherever it is they go at night, and oh, look there on the bank of the pond. There’s a turtle now, with its butt dipping in and out a hole–HOLY COW! SHE’S LAYING EGGS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!


Yes, I know. Not the best pic, but I only had my camera phone. And actually, I forgot I had the phone in my pocket and had to circle back to snap the photo.



Sure enough, the turtles back end would dip lower into a hole, and when it raised she’d sweep her back foot to settle the egg and cover it gently. I have no idea how many eggs she laid, or how many might survive (lots of kids run and play in that area, and use it for turtle watching), but seeing that felt magical indeed.

So, once I returned home [and had a rush of texting and online research to find out what kind of turtles we’re talking about and how long until the eggs might hatch (I think they’re River Cooters, and 45-56 days ’til hatching)], I started remembering the old superstition ’round this blog…and now I’m expecting some really earth-shattering rejection, very, very soon.

(ETA: no, after a thorough viewing of said turtles in daylight, it turns out they are Red Belly Cooters, a.k.a., Red Belly Turtles)

Fortunately, enough time writing has taught me two things: 1) rejection is just another part of the process, and 2) enjoy the process. So I’m enjoying the turtle-gram, and not holding my breath. After all, it’s just another rejection. Meh. But turtles laying eggs? That’s something to remember.

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Out the Window, and in my Browser Window

I just heard a familiar “thwunk” sound at the dining room window, and as my heart sank I stifled my groan. By the time I looked, there was nothing to see, but I knew what I dreaded: that the mocking bird was back to attack my windows ceaselessly, driving me insane as it battered itself more and more senseless.

As I stood despairing, the sound came again. This time when I looked, a bird hung from the screen, staring inside. Backlit by the bright outdoors, it glowed a very non-mockingbird cinnamon brown. It made a startled “twit-twit” and darted off. I moved closer and peered out, to find it perched in a nearby tree branch. Yellow glowed under its tail feathers, and its crest was wide and puffy and definitely brown. This was no mockingbird!

I downloaded the Cornell University Merlin bird ID app, plopped in the relevant info, and viola! There was my bird, staring back at me. A Greater Crested Flycatcher. Now, I don’t have a life list of birds. But I do know I’ve never heard of this bird before, and never seen one before, so that makes it pretty cool–for me, at least.

This is also a nice bit of news since it gives me something quiet to be happy about. Dasher is still in recovery from his surgery, but he really doesn’t want to be. He will take any opportunity to remind me that he feels just fine and is more than ready to run and play, and he pterodactyl-groans if I’m too active and busy, wanting me to let him do all those forbidden things…which, um, no. No dog, you cannot re-injure yourself before you’re fully healed, no matter how bored you are. This is hard, and only getting harder. The end of May (and his activity release date) seems a long way off. Quiet, non-moving joys are very, very nice.

I’m working on Book 2 of the Jessamin Stow trilogy, and really loving it! Let me tell you one big reason why: I took an online class from UBC on edX (that basically means an online class from the University of British Columbia, offered through the edX online course program) titled How to Write a Novel, Part 1: Plan & Outline. This class was great. It was more than just “writing an outline.” It was different types of outline that different types of writers may use, thinking through your plot, charting the various bits so the story is balanced, and learning to use more scaffolding when it isn’t balanced, then putting it all together, and more. Long form writers will definitely benefit from this class, but the techniques can also apply to short form, as well.

I’m not sure when it’s being offered again, but I really, really recommend this class. The difference between writing Book 1 (before this class) and Book 2 (which I outlined during this class) is literally night and day. And I’m not slavishly following a rigid outline, either. There’s plenty of room for small surprises in the “path” I’ve chosen–as I discovered today while inserting a “cool tidbit” into the story.

Looking to level-up but can’t take a “destination” workshop for whatever reason? This may be the answer you’re looking for.

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First Quarter Update

It’s been a busy 3 months so far in 2016, and I thought I’d share some of my writing life and goals here, both to keep me motivated and to keep me honest. (And maybe to motivate some of you, as well? I can hope.)

Currently I have 9 submissions out, two of which are reprints (weeee–a “writer’s dream” of mine; reprints!), while another two are originals that have made it to their respective second rounds. I gotta say, I’m pretty amazed at this, since I’m “transitioning” to long-form writing. But flash fiction contests are  good for my soul, and those stories often are edited up to short story length, post-contest. And thus I have lots of submissions. Which is also good for my soul, and my sense of “being productive.”

I gave myself 7 big writing goals for the month of March, being a pretty hard task-master on myself. I completed 5 of the tasks, and am midway-through a sixth. The seventh I let slip. But I’m not too upset; after all, these weren’t simple little things, and life was very “inconvenient” this past month, meaning I was squeezed for time and mental bandwidth. Not an excuse–just not letting my brain weasels start racing through my head shouting that I’m “not being dedicated enough.” (Stupid brain weasels!) I’m actually quite pleased with how I did, all considered.

One of my life inconveniences this past month was indeed a 2-day stint of brain weasel super activity, combined with 2 back-to-back rejections, which pretty much made me wonder why I ever thought I could string 2 words together with any elegance or clarity. (Yeah, it happens, but it’s over now. I’m fine.) I was buoyed by the support of my peers, both my VP cohort and some writers from various other groups. If you were kind while I (or any other writer) was down and blue, thank you.

Speaking of transitioning, I did finish a draft of Jessamin Stow. The YA novel is now at a beta-reader. Book 2 of the trilogy is ready to begin, all outlined and pretty and just begging me to dive in. I’m eager to start, and yet hesitant. My synopsis is lovely, my outline so nice. Now I have to risk “ruining the perfection” with my first drafting process, which is never as beautiful as I’d like. I simply can’t go from “idea” to “final draft” without making a bit of a mess in the middle, and those Brain Weasels just love shredding me when I do. Still, this is the week I’ll begin (but that’s a subject for the second quarter roundup).

Fine weather and longer days of springtime mean more daylight, more enthusiasm, and more time doing things outside, which also helps my energy levels, both mental and physical. I find nothing more energizing to my writing than, ironically enough, taking a weekend away from writing to work or walk outside, do gardening, lose myself in pleasant chores like heavy weeding (I’m looking at you, Boston fern attempting to eat my palm tree!) or cooking, or even (gulp!) spring cleaning inside. While I’m putting my physical environment to rights, my mind is freed from the tyranny of logical thought and instead makes intuitive leaps that later present to my writer’s brain as thought-out and logical conclusions. Pretty nice.

It’s not been all second-looks and blooming flowers, of course. Since the year began, I’ve had 13 rejections, including those 2 that really stung! Lucky #13–it means I’m due for an acceptance, right?

If so, I’ll keep you posted. How’s your year going so far?

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Writing, Year in Review | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments