3. Other Things Authoring Writing Life

Not busy.

Didn’t sleep well, for no particular reason. Woke slow & groggy, couldn’t get any mental traction. After puttering around to no good effect, I resorted to my usual backup plan: when in doubt, clean something out.

I went through my WordPress posts folder & deleted a bunch of old drafts I wrote to vent and never intended to publish. So I get to say I cleaned something. And some of the titles made me smile. There were not one but two labeled as “Ranty McRanty Post.” And then there were these two:

  • Batshit I am not touching with a 10-foot pole.
  • Not enough facepalms in the world.

I have to find new topics to go with those headings, because I like them that much.

The cleanup puttering eventually developed into a writing groove, and I logged another scene about Serena and her unruly pack of emotion-dogs. So now the short story starts with her as it should. I need to finish that and trim a bit of description from one spot so I can glue it in where it belongs. Then I get to write the most-fun part, where Parker teaches her some basic tricks. Good times!

But tomorrow is reserved for digging into a Big Revelations scene in Ghost Town. Arson & fisticuffs! Mysteries unearthed! Cats rescued! Should also be fun.

Another highlight: it snowed big fluffy snowflakes from noon ’til sunset, but barely any of it stuck, so that was lovely. I felt for all the folks who had to be out driving in the muck and slick wet, but it sure did look lovely outside the window while I sat with the cat by the fireplace.

In other doings, I worked a quiet shift at the ‘brar, then settled in for a couch evening (re)watching Princess Mononoke with Spouseman & Pippin. It’s still an amazing movie. A thing I noticed for the first time this viewing: how much its soundtrack reminds me of themes from The Lord Of the Rings score.

And that was the day.

other things Writing Life

More midwinter musings.

I think I posted about this earlier this year, but tbh it’s an evergreen topic. I found this draft buried in a folder from this time last winter & I’m cleaning up my WordPress today, so I’m finishing this and posting it.

It’s even timely, since it refers to the day after Christmas.

This is the time of year structured social interaction becomes painfully difficult, stressful & exhausting. (Yes, this does include daily interaction with Spouseman, but he married me, so we do our best to rub along.)

Is it irony? The time of year everyone wants to get together the most, I NEED to crawl into a figurative cave? It’s something, that’s for sure. One thing it isn’t is Seasonal Affective Disorder. (I investigated that, we all thought that’s what it was for years, but turns out it isn’t.) It doesn’t get better as days get longer. It gets better in February, period.

If I get a seasonal downtime, then my energy level, my creativity, my stability in general–really the whole rest of the year–goes well. If hibernation time gets interrupted by demands from The Outside World, if I’m forced to deal with things I can’t handle, then the whole year suffers.

I’ve lost friends over this issue. (Pro tip: do not drop a “jokey” guilt trip on me by email the day after Christmas. I will cut you out of my life like snipping a price tag. Same for rants about my lack of responsiveness at New Year’s.)

Working retail 4th quarter always meant missing holiday parties and ending up w/a post-Xmas staycation. I felt bad about missing out but was relieved to avoid the social scene at the same time. Post-Borders, I slowly recognized that I had been leaning hard on that built-in barrier to fulfill an underlying need for withdrawal I hadn’t realized was there.

Since then I’ve had to learn to make my own excuses, schedule time off and pretty much avoid Big Planned Activities, Basic Life Decisions, and anything else that requires Normal Conversing or Responding to Inquiries between mid-December and the end of January.

It isn’t easy. The social pressure is pretty HUGE. But it’s better for everyone this way, it really is. I cannot human in midwinter. I am a bear. Of course some years hibernation isn’t possible. Whenever that’s happened, I’ve coped. I get through.

Coping isn’t thriving.

There’s a high emotional cost to pushing beyond safe mental limits, and those effects are long-lasting, rolling down through the months until my next big seasonal reset. (That happens around fall equinox, when I become a squirrel. I’ve blogged about that too, I’m pretty sure.)

ANYway. It’s midwinter now, and I am enjoying my downtime, writing this, writing that, thinking and daydreaming and dodging the Real World as much as possible.

And yeah, feeling super grateful to be at a place in my life where that’s possible.

That’s all for today. Until later.

Furbabies Promotion Writing Life

How my books are like my cats: a study in surprising similarities.

I’ve raised six cats so far in my life. I’ve written & published six books. There are some entertaining parallels. Check it out:

Here’s my first novel, and also Jake, the first cat who was mine, not a whole-family shared pet.

Ways they’re alike:

  • a bit messy
  • rough around the edges not to everyone’s taste
  • took a long time to mature
  • hold a special place in my heart
  • more about the novel here:

2nd novel & 2nd cat, Banshee:

  • bigger than the first one
  • slightly goofy
  • lots of running around & tail-chasing
  • never gets much respect
  • more about the book here:

Third book, third cat:

Alexander Batwing Spook got stuck with “Kitten” as his callname. Like Weaving In the Ends, he was:

  • sleek, dark, & handsome
  • full of attitude
  • in love with yarn
  • more popular than the one who came before him.
  • there’s more about the book here:

If you look closely at cat 2 & 3, you get an idea of their relationship. That’s Kitten’s foot kicking Banshee in the chin. This perfectly illustrates the relationship between the two books as well.

Onward to the 4th enty.

Like my novella Novices, Bruce, our 4th cat, started off short & got longer (plot for the story, hair, in Bruce’s case) More parallels:

  • did not plan on getting another cat, did not plan on writing this book
  • LGBTQ+
  • sometimes cuddly, sometimes prickly
  • unsophisticated but sweet
  • never went according to plan
  • further book details here:

Book 5.

This novel was a big change in direction & was unlike any story before it. Scooter, was a new adventure too. More things in common:

  • able to convince people into picking them up
  • thought-provoking
  • dark
  • but sometimes also silly & comic
  • curious? go here:

And now, this!

Pippin is my big, bold, gorgeous new cat, all fluffy & huge & complicated. He’s full of goodness, sticks with you, & never goes does what people expect. Just like my latest novel. Which you can find here, if you’re interested. One last thing they have in common:L very long tails.

That’s all. I expect there will be a new cat fairly soon, and eventually there will be more novels. It’s gonna be fun to see how (or if) the trend continues.

There’s no deep meaning to this post. It’s winter solstice, my sleep patterns are all thrown off by the long dark nights, and that leaves me antsy & tired at once. I decided to amuse myself, and this happened.

Until later. Happy holidays!

3. Other Things Detours Writing Life

Wind & lightning & lack of sleep: a ramble

Two nights ago when I smelled woodsmoke on our evening walk I wondered who the hell was being irresponsible & lighting fires while we were under a hurricane-force wind warning.
The next morning I learned that I was smelling smoke from Plains region wildfires, blown all the way up here by those same winds.

Apparently Chicago area 911 dispatch & non-emergency fire department numbers were getting a LOT of worried calls.

Just lucky I did my into-the-city-to-meet-a-friend adventure on Monday, when it was clear and warm & still. The train home was full of jerks who pulled down their masks whenever the conductor wasn’t right in front of them, but at least the train car wasn’t being rocked by 60 mph gusts all the way home.

I did not sleep well. Fitbit claimed 5 & 1/2 much-interrupted hours from 4AM until 9:30 AM. Kinda figured that would be the case as soon as I saw the weather forecast. Windy weather always charges up my nerves & makes me antsy & energetic.

This was more, though. This was an “Am I about to be blown away into Oz?” kind of storm. Every time I dozed off, the wind shifted & something outside the house would rattle, crash, or clang, and *bloop* I was wide awake again.

No rain. Lots of lightning around 3 AM, so bright and so extensive I could see how fast the low, thick clouds were moving. I wish there’d been more rain. The garden needs moisture.

The power only went out once, briefly, just long enough to freak out our holiday lights timers & reset them for an extra 6 hours of festive lighting in the yard. Small favors. We have them set on steady, but they twinkle impressively when the bushes they’re on are swaying sideways in a gale.

Another thing I learned from that storm: the old-fashioned fan housings for the kitchen & first-floor bathroom fans make the weirdest noises when high winds catch them at the wrong angles. From previous storms, I knew they rattled a bit. These winds took the annoyance to new heights.

Big booming sounds Little booming sounds. Crackly snapping noises. Loud humming with tooth-aching harmonics. The WORKS.

The next day it was still windy. Not as windy as the peak hours last night, but still wild enough to keep me antsy and distracted. It’s hard to concentrate when the air is breathing low and loud and heavily, like it’s tired after running too fast for too long.

Things calmed down by evening, allowing us to go as planned to the Chicago Botanic Garden Lightscape. We oo’d and ah’d over the amazing displays with a good friend (HI DEB) & then caught up on all kinds of friend talk over a totally healthy late supper of hot dogs, burgers, & french fries.

Today was much more settled, weather-wise. Did I accomplish more? Yes, & no. I rested. That counts, especially in the middle of a week with lots of peopling in it like this one. Spouseman took care of some of my House Chores for me, and I used the extra time to sleep in & pay off some of my sleep debt.

And then I hung out with the cat & did Proper Tree Behavior lessons most of the afternoon while reading one of several awesome new Netgalley advance copies.

Because winter is good for reading.

And now, the cat tax plus a couple of blurry pics of the garden lights.

cat tax

That’s all for now. Until later!

Authoring Media Consumption Writing Life

Midwinter Social Media Weirdness

There’s a strange thing that happens to me every December on Facebook — but it has nothing to do with holidays or decorations or the weather.

I start noticing names.

All year long I don’t really notice names in other peoples’ comment threads. I read the threads, but who said what doesn’t stick in my brain, not really. Which is probably weird all on its own, but hello, my brain is weird. I am, in the words of a good friend and co-worker, sometimes A Lot Too Much.

But this weirdness is specific to December, every year. Around midwinter I start noticing people in Facebook threads whose names are vaguely familiar. So I figure we must be Facebook friends & I check to see who our mutuals are. But then STRANGENESS ensues. They turn out not to be my Facebook friends after all.

Which would be fine, except that I have no idea if we were Facebookfriends but they unfriended me, or if

  • we’ve never been Facebookfriends and they simply look familiar because we do have mutuals and they’ve been showing up in threads forever
  • I’ve seen their names forever because we have loads of mutuals but we’ve never been Facebook friends because I have A Weird Problem with clicking friend request.

That problem is clear and evergreen: I can’t make myself “friend” a stranger unless I’ve been introduced by a mutual online or met someone in person AND remembered to ask if it was okay to do it. (Which, given my Swiss cheese memory, is extremely rare.)

But anyway. I digress.

I just think it’s weird that I only notice this for the same 3 weeks or so out of. And only on Facebook.

Then again, I could just say, “Facebook is weird,” and that would cover pretty much every weirdness possible, including deliberate emotional manipulation by the people running the platform.

Postscript: I shared the above information as a post on Facebook (because blog link sharing is just a short slide to invisibility) and I got a tremendous, wonderful rsponse.

It’s a great thread of friends musing over the mysteries of, “Say, how DID we end up friends in this Facebook place?” and remarks from friends who have noticed the same “Were they or weren’t they?” phenomenon and had some insights into how & why it might be happening.

It’s that kind of interaction & engagement with kind, talented, thoughtful folks that keeps me *ON* Facebook. Most days it’s the ONLY reason I stay on there.

That’s a point much more universal than Facebook, to be fair. The people make it worthwhile.

In other news, I’m close enough to finishing the Ghost Town cozy mystery that my brain is tossing out a gazillion Other Ideas about things to write. I have 3 story-prompt stories to bash out for a charity anthology I’ve been invited to join, a gargoyle short piece scratching at the back of my brain, and a winter newsletter to draft.

Will I get all that done before the end of the year? HAHAHAHAHA no. Undoubtedy not. But! I’ve been getting words on the page every day for a whole week, and I will keep plugging away. I even have a first line for one of the charity stories: The dog was never the problem. It might be a Naomi, Serena & Parker short. Or that might just be the springboard into new characters…time will tell.

Tonight I have pizza to eat & a couple of trees to decorate with cat-friendly ornaments. Good times.

Until later!