Rainy Mondays

hosta leaf

Every now and then, I think I should water the yard. I worry about my blueberry plants (now with a dozen berries!) or the petunia that my daughter’s class gave me. And then, this being Pennsylvania, it pours. We’ve been here almost a dozen years, and I still find it weird — will always find it slightly tone-deaf — that people can worry about a drought if it doesn’t rain for two months (usually July and August). Two months does not a drought make. (It does, however, lead to times when it’s not ridiculous of me to wonder whether I should water the plants.)
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A busy April day

How’d we get more than two-thirds of the way through April already? Outside, it still looks like late March — forsythia and weeping cherries, magnolia blooms drifting in the wind, but not even a hint of an azalea blooming yet — not even the purple ones down the block that always bloom weeks before our magenta ones flower. The dogwood buds are just starting to lighten up, like they might be thinking of opening, but it’s clear they won’t be blooming before May. Perhaps this year I’ll remember to do a day-by-day shoot of the blooming in progress. (I tend to start and then get distracted about three days in.)

No new pictures yet, though, as all those blooming things are in other people’s yards, and I can’t very well shoot a picture while I’m driving down the street!

The freelance work’s going okay at the moment — I did get an ongoing copyediting gig where I work on journal articles each week, according to how much time I have available. Payment terms aren’t the best; they pay net 60, so I haven’t actually seen any of the income yet. On the plus side, it should be nice and steady. I’m also doing a proofreading job (a book on the Ottoman Empire) for a new client I marketed to earlier this year, and I have a proofreading test I need to finish up for another prospective client.

Writing is mixed, as usual. I have lots of great ideas for deepening projects I’m working on, and I’m making progress on different things, but I’m still working on that making regular time for the writing when the paying work is going well. Currently working on writing a cozy mystery novel (The Corn Maze Murders), an SF novel (working title: Neptune Station), and a fantasy short story (“Ice”); planning another mystery series and an SF novel series; and trying to make time to edit a novelette and a novella that I want to start submitting. Oh! And I have another drabble publication coming up this Friday on SpeckLit.

Family’s busy, too. Daughter’s got dance class, a simple one at the community center that does both ballet and tap. Each Wednesday as it gets to be time to leave, she says she doesn’t want to do it any more — and then she changes her mind when she actually gets to class. (Also, I can’t believe in just about six weeks, she’ll be done with kindergarten!)

The boy’s still playing trumpet in band. Spring concert’s tonight, which means I’m encouraging everyone to eat now. (While I sit at the computer typing, yes.) Should be good.

So that’s life here — busy, well-rounded, fulfilling, and (as always) crazy-making. What’s keeping you busy these days?

short, long, and other fictions

I apologize for the general lack of bloggery last month. I probably should have mentioned that I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, writing of 50,000 words during the month of November), as I have done every year since 2003. Between that, the day job, and lots of family time, writing blog posts kind of got put on the back burner.

First: did I win NaNo? Yes, I did, with the amazing feat of writing 17,607 words on November 30 to both finish the book (middle grade book, first in a projected series of five) and win. I’m fleshing out the outline for the next book in the series already. Very happy with how this is shaping up.

Second: what about Touching Time, my Mayan novel? That’s been indefinitely back-burnered, as Moongypsy Press has been temporarily closed. I may still work on finishing it up over the next couple of months, but it’s not a priority right now.

Third: any new short stories coming out? I haven’t sold anything recently, and the two anthologies I have sold to (Assassins: A Clash of Steel anthology and Spells and Swashbucklers) have had changes in their publication status. Spells and Swashbucklers has had some contract revisions, and I’m hoping to hear soon that there’s an actual release date (hoping, not expecting). Assassins, along with other books from Rogue Blades Entertainment, will be published in a joint venture with Black Gate, and further details on that are forthcoming.

Fourth: what’s up with “no excuses” in writing? Well, I haven’t done very well with that this year — managed less than 30,000 words total January through October, I think. Part of it was Touching Time, actually. I sent my entry off, not really expecting anything to come of it, and then discovered I was going to have to deliver a complete novel. So that moved to the top of my “to do” pile, and any time I started to work on something else, I’d tell myself I should to the Mayan book first, but it wasn’t coming together . . . so nothing got done. Excuse after excuse, but no writing.

I added another 10,000 words to Touching Time at the beginning of the month, realizing there was a whole subplot that would make the story much richer. I’m now feeling more like this is something I want to get done, but not yet.

When I switched to the MG book, though, and especially at the end, when I knew what was happening and what was going to happen and how disaster was going to strike and I kept typing and typing, it reminded me of something I’d read in a comment on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog recently, that we make our own speed limits (a phrase he attributes to Nina Kiriki Hoffman). Thinking about this as the slightly altered, “The only limits on my writing are the ones I put there,” I felt incredibly liberated. I’m excited by the writing and the projects I’m hoping to get done over the next year. I also found great inspiration from Rachel Aaron’s post on going from 2k to 10k a day.

(I know that there are limits that we don’t put there, really. My friend Dawn recently broke her hand, which makes typing hard and slow. But the hand will heal, so taking the time to try to learn and implement Kevin J. Anderson’s dictate-a-story method probably isn’t worth it for the time she’d be using it. I mean this phrase in terms of when I say things to myself like, “Oh, I’d never be able to write 10k two days in a row,” or “I can’t write in that genre,” or “I don’t know how to do this, so I won’t.”)

Fifth: what’s up with “no excuses” outside of writing? I did the Couch-to-5k running plan earlier this year, then fell off the band wagon with a foot that hurt, sick kids, son out of school for the summer — and other excuses. Then we went on our family vacation, and despite packing my running shoes, I didn’t run once. Then there was the disastrous 5k in September, which I completed in just barely under an hour, and left myself feeling unable to do most anything for a week or so afterward.

Since then? No exercise, and lots of eating the wrong kinds of foods. I’ve put back on a chunk of the weight I lost earlier this year, and I’m feeling tired and drained all the time.

Solution: Today, I started over. Back to basics, week 1 of the Couch-to-5k plan. I’m also going to be reading the book Chi Running, which Dawn recommended to me. (Due back at the library today, and I’ve got a hold on it, so I should get it later this week.) I don’t know how long the weather’s going to hold, leaving it reasonable for me to keep running outside three times a week, but I’m going to go as long as I can, and if I have to switch to running in place in front of the TV downstairs, then that’s what I’ll do. I liked being in better shape.

Last (What am I up to, sixth?): I’ve set my goals for next year. They’re simple and easy to track:

  • Finish something each week. (Novel, short story, article for Vision, drabble, haiku, paying work project)
  • Have something new up for sale each month.

So that’s it for this update. I’ll be trying to blog more frequently going forward. How are you doing as you wrap up this year and prepare to move into the next?


You’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted as much the past couple of weeks. I’ve been under the weather and feeling like it was taking all I had to get my work done, spend time with my family, and try to get some words in for NaNoWriMo. Monday, I finally went to the doctor’s office and found that I have acute bronchitis. So the less energy, less oxygen for the brain feeling? Perfectly normal.

I now have a plethora of medications, and they’re beginning to help. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to be here (I have a review I need to post later today for a poetry chapbook), but if I’m not on as much, it’s because I’m still recovering.

What have I gotten done in the last couple of weeks? Proofread a book, read three books (Kraken by China Miéville, Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold), spent Thanksgiving weekend with my family (lots of cooking and movie watching), and wrote almost 1,000 words per day on average for NaNoWriMo. No, I didn’t win this year — second year I haven’t — but I feel good about the story so far. Fortunately, reading books and watching movies don’t take much energy.

Now I’m looking at December and seeing what I need to wrap up for the year, as well as looking ahead to 2011. I won’t post my 2011 ideas yet, but here’s what I’m looking at for this month:

  1. Get well. This may take a week or two, possibly even longer for the cough to fade completely.
  2. Finish writing the novel I started for NaNoWriMo. It’s a cozy mystery, estimating final word count around 60,000 words, which means I’m over half done with it.
  3. Finish the short story I started in November and send it off to its intended market.
  4. Round up the stories that I currently don’t have out at markets (I wasn’t particularly good at resubmitting things during November) and get them back out the door.
  5. Family time — birthdays, concert, holidays, luminaria, getting Christmas cards mailed.

That should keep me occupied.

Other things happening this month:

  • My book giveaway contest ends Friday, and I’ll be choosing a winner this weekend. If you haven’t entered yet, do so!
  • My drabble, “Heartbeat,” will be the e-mail story for Daily Science Fiction on December 7th.

What about you? What are your December plans?

planning plus blogging equals plogging

First of all, just so you know, I’m experimenting. I’m trying to build a blog that I want to maintain and others want to read. There are as many ways to do that as there are successful blogs. Those of you who visit me now are going to experience my growing pains, but you’re also going to have the opportunity to influence what I do, based on what you react to, what you look at, and how enthusiastic you are. Isn’t that exciting?

  • I may post photos (such as John Scalzi does from time to time, or Jay Lake does with his moments of Zen).
  • I may post polls or contests (though those will probably wait until I’ve got at least a couple dozen people reading regularly and commenting at least sporadically).
  • I may post links.
  • I will post reviews of videos, books, blogs, or anything else that catches my fancy (Thursdays).
  • I will post my Q & A sessions (Fridays).
  • I may post poetry — haiku, sestinas, centos. Or not.
  • I will post snippets when I have something new coming out, so you know what sort of thing to expect.
  • I may post about things going on with my family and my life. (For example, my son has wanted a new cat for a couple of years, and I imagine that’s going to happen pretty soon — and that may lead to pictures.)
  • I will post thoughts about writing process, editing, epiphanies related to how I work, and productivity.
  • I may post other things I haven’t thought of yet.
  • I will not post links to quizzes, political or religious diatribes (any discussion of these will be in relation to a particular work of fiction or history), or my latest score in some Flash-based game.

Any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment!