Meanwhile, the checklist

I know it’s been a while, but I HAVE BEEN DOING STUFF, I SWEAR. Since my last update, it feels like I’ve done nothing but sleep, re-read fluffy comfort romances, and putter around doing nothing, but in reality I:

  1. Worked with one of my talented cover artists (HI, RACHEL!) to put together a new cover on my holiday SF Romance novella Joining In the Round. (Pic at the bottom of the post)
  2. Organized all our DVDs into genres and put them in binders alphabetical by title.  All of them. HUndreds and HUNDREDS of movies. I gave up and bought spindles for NCIS & Game of Thrones. It was more space-efficient.
  3. Made multiple batches of multiple cookie doughs for Christmas & baked some blueberry cobbler.
  4. Enjoyed a long adventure day downtown with Spouseman
  5. went to Gumbo Fiction Salon & read the last segment of my sparkly short story aloud. HAd a great time hanging with friends & hearing great readings.
  6. finished the verb tense changes on said story, fixed some plot inconsistencies, polished the wording down  below 7500 words, and formatted the story for submission. That last part is HELLISH, because putting a manuscript into Courier font and replacing italics with underlining renders it unreadable. I do not exaggerate. It might as well be Sanskrit or cuneiform to me.
  7. Found a willing proofer to read the story in its formatted condition. He spotted the last few typos (mostly missing words) that I can never catch and confirm that it all still makes sense. SO IT’S DONE. It goes to Clarkesworld for rejection consideration ASAP. I’ll keep the world posted on its adventure travels after that.
  8. Got rid of a bunch of old, expired & unusable junk. No, really. I cleaned out kitchen cabinets, desk drawers, a shelf in the linen closet, and the stand freezer. Among other things. It was highly satisfying to let go of waste that took up useful space.
  9. Put up all the holiday decorations, including a new tree from a vendor my Dad suggested. It came pre-lit with candy sprinkle-colored LED lights, and it’s gorgeous.  All three main rooms of the house are festive now. Makes me want people to come over and just hang out doing whatever.
  10. I haven’t done much writing other than The Short Story I Took Forever To Finish, but hey. At least I was working on writing? Yeah, I am going to be kind to myself about that. So there.

So anyway,  it was an eventful week.  When the sun is up for less than 8 hours, though. time slips away FAST no matter what I’m working on. So I don’t feel the progress.

Anyway. Here’s one picture of Scooter being cute and one of the shiny new novella cover.

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snoozing kitty
Joining Round websized 72
Happy-making new book cover

Yes, it’s a holiday romance. Sorta. It’s definitely a holiday warm & fuzzy story about found family and love of many kinds. You can buy it by clicking here: mybook.to/JoiningRound

Today’s Passing Thought

A little poem about writing for a gray, cold December evening

I am resolved. I WILL make WIP progress today.
Despite the cat’s best efforts to drive me up a wall by howling at high volume any time I begin to concentrate.
Despite body aches & toothache & headache.
Even tho’ it’s night now & I spent the whole day playing with other things.
Gonna write.
Gonna.
Write.

After dinner.
I promise.

Hold me to it, people. Ask for evidence. Demand snippets. Whatever.

Accountability is a real motivator.

Okay. Well. Y’know, carry on.

Inside my head

5. Recently in learning experiences (1) I can use the space bar on my tablet to move the screen cursor instead of trying to tap the right spot with a fingertip. (2) I changed out several new application icon images using my updated desktop system. Yay, baby steps in tech advancement! 

4. Every time I see a TV commercial for Miracle Spring Water (about once a day, despite fast-forwarding through commercials) I worry a bit more about the future of humanity. I know people have been gullible forever, but…oy.

3. The basement may have floor space again soon. Maybe. I’m not holding my breath. Spouseman is a collector, and letting go of past collections is a hard, hard thing. But…being able to walk around furniture is nice too. He’s making an effort. That’s a start.

2. Next on the home improvement list: the water heater.  Not a dire need, but it will come sooner than later. (the installation of the house humidifier demonstrated some shortcomings.) 

I am much tempted by the idea of instant, endless hot water via a “tankless” system, so if anyone has opinions pro/con, toss ’em my way. I’m in research mode.

1. Random observation: when I fill the bird feeders, all the birds go from one feeder to the next together, even though more of them would get food if they split up. Recent sightings:  sparrows, goldfinches in winter coats, Mr. Cardinal, juncos, and one seriously cranky chickadee.

The latest in searches:

  • Grand Guignol
  • chaise lounge history

Media update:

  •  Read: re-reading Jo Beverley’s Rogues romance collection. Don’t judge. I enjoy fantasy. Regency-era romances totally count.
  • View: a memorial showing of Princess Bride.

Random cat pic:

He’s sitting here often.
Might have something to do with being directly above the heater.
Might.

No-Context-Snippet from a short story I’ll be submitting to the pro market before the end of the year. (When?  As soon as I verify that its tenses are all tidy. The darned thing insisted I re-write it in present tense. 

Pops holds claim over a huge stretch of wilderness beyond his castle, land given over to wild pigs, pygmy deer, albino peacocks, and one fat, lazy bear who used to be a gamekeeper. As I step onto his lands, magic kisses my skin in a cool, tingle of recognition. 

A pale, smooth roadway appears where my foot touches the earth, curving ahead into the gloomy woods.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Passing thought

Some thoughts on body comfort & dealing with aging and generally coping with the reality of being a lump of replicating cells that creep daily toward death.  Inspired by all the “oh, body, how you betray me as I age,” posts all over the social sphere on the one day a week I’m allowed to surf.

The bleak humorous posts come mainly from people in their 20’s and 30’s. I can sympathize with their shock and unhappiness, oh, yes. It’s aggravating to discover you can’t do something as easily as you once could.

There’s often a sense of resentment about it, though, and I can’t fathom the bitterness.

First, I don’t remember ever having an expectation of navigating daily life without pain or risk of injury. Maybe as a toddler? No, there was the top bunk incident and the 16 stitches in my chin (blood swirling down the drain, my parents talking over my head with the doctor about possible facial scarring… I was 3, I think?) I knew life was a contact sport wherein any action could bench me with injuries before puberty hit. Tying my shoes and “sitting wrong” have always been hazardous. No biggie. Deal & heal.  I honestly never realized it wasn’t like that for everyone until college. (There are reasons I was teased for being The Oblivious Child)

Second, resentment springs from a sense of betrayal, and that relies on an adversarial relationship with physicality I can’t grok. My body isn’t an enemy or even a frenemy. It’s a housecat.

No, really. It cannot care for itself without my help, it wants lots of things that will do it harm, it’s always finding new and creative ways to break things, and there’s no ignoring it when it needs attention. It’s my responsibility to monitor its behavior and keep it from hurting itself, and we are both happiest when I give it extra pampering. It’s totally a cat.

And yeah, sometimes I’m displeased with my body. (I REALLY didn’t like that phase in my teens when my neck and spine grew first and my legs took time to catch up so I felt like a teeny, clunky giraffe, but hey. I did even out. eventually.)  I’m sometimes displeased with my cat, too. Like when he decides my bedside is just the place to vomit up hairballs.

But I digress. My body is mine, and sometimes it purrs, and it tries to be good, and so I can’t imagine resenting it for things it can’t help.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with resenting your body. I’m an all-out supporter of doing whatever works to keep yourself going. No such thing as a One True Way etc. I can’t see that it would ever work for me, that’s all I’m saying.

Anyway. Gonna go give myself a treat and a brushing now.

Lately, inside my head

THIS IS MY 500th post!  Freakywild. The Big Blog Experts ™ recommend a celebration or using the event to promote something, but…it’s just another post about whatever has been running through my brain for the last little while, semi-organized because organizing helps me think. So. ONWARD!

1. The other big news: there’s a nice man named Dan drilling a hole through the wall of my house right behind me RIGHT NOW. He’s outside, but still. RIGHT THERE. The man named John is downstairs right underneath me, hammering and drilling and wrenching at metal things. Out with the old furnace, in with the new. New furnace is super-high-efficiency and needs a secondary vent. Hence, HOLES. And my office is smack in the middle.

It’s a bit stressful. I’m choosing to upgrade, efficiency=environmentally responsible etc, but change is stress. (I mean, what if I don’t like it?!?)2. Yay, me! I remembered to use my Prime Lending library again this month. (It’s my way of supporting indie author ebooks within my minimal buying budget.) This month’s entry: Crier’s Knife by Neal Litherland. Good solid fantasy adventure, check it out for yourself.

3. Went outside to toss something in the trash and heard the little brown birds who patronize our bird feeder peeping up a storm. So I stop to see what has them all excited. Nothing.  The birds are all hiding in the evergreen bushes, yelling away. Nothing to see.

I take a step closer, and a hawk launches out of the bushes, lugs herself over the hedge and flaps away.  Big girl, too. Not our usuall zippy l’il Sharp-Shinned lurker. Probably the same Cooper’s Hawk who was lurking here last winter.

4. The latest in searches:

  • deadly spider hoax 2018
  • election 2018 map update

5. Media consumption!

  • Books: Archangel’s Prophecy & Silver Silence by Nalini Singh. Urban fantasy/contemporary fantasy/whatevs.  I enjoy her characters in both settings immensely and admire the author’s ability to come up with two detailed, wildly differing worlds and keep expanding on each.
  • View: The Spy Who Dumped Me. Flawed but fun spy movie…not-quite-spoof, but not at all attempting realism either. Kinda like Hitman’s Bodyguard, but without the problematic elements. Friendship rules the day over romance in this one.

6. Must-share link of the moment: US Wildfire Activity map

Usually this shows me what parts of the country are on fire. For some reason the link sometimes takes me to maps of baseball  parks or floods or other things. Apparently ArcGIS is a program people can use to make their own maps. Which is pretty cool info all by itself.

Random cat pic:

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Judgmental Scooterboo is Not Happy and is judging everyone

And that’s all the all there is.

Inside my head

I have finally tried the iTunes “Genius” feature, the one that generates radio-channel-like mixes from my music collection. (It’s only been there for years…) Now I get”singer-songwriter” mixes, “party-dance” mixes etc. It’s fun to click and let it pick songs, but there is one huge downside; I’m long accustomed to timing my work sessions with music, and these mixes will go on forever, randomly repeating.  If I don’t watch myself I can keep going for “one more song…” for hours. Which is noy healthy.

A thing I realized recently: committees have distinct, recognizable personalities. It makes sense, right? Groups are made up of human beings, so it’s logical they reflect the personalities of their members, especially the leaders. Corollary: not all personality traits are healthy ones. Could I give real-world examples? Oh, yeah. I could. But I won’t.

“Reality” television, oy. It’s a thing that makes me sad for humanity. I have no problem with basically-real, transparent-about-the-scripted-parts documentary shows,  but the manipulative, harmfully-scripted creepy ones, like all the American “talent” competitions, DIY dramas, and voyeuristic surveillance shows? Brrrr.

The latest in searches:

puffball mushroom species, fairy ring mushroom species

etymology word history greenhorn

tomato, garlic, rice, feta recipe
(when I can’t decide what to cook, sometimes I query the internet with “list of what’s in the fridge” + “recipe” and the internet provides. )

Media update!

  • Book: The latest Archangel novel by Nalini Singh. I honestly cannot remember the names of any of them, and it isn’t important. It’s a long, lush, complex alternate world fantasy genre, and it’s fluffy goodness. Just what I needed.
  • View: Sorry To Bother You.  I cannot adequately review this…but I recommend it. Scathing social commentary AND a drama with a cutting sense of humor. Not an easy watch, but a really good one.
  • ViewSkyscraper. It had Dwayne Johnson, so I had to try it. Not as bad as I expected. Basic cartoonishly unbelievable action movie plot with another telegraphed occurrence of the tired Betrayal By Trusted Friend trope, but wow,  The Rock is great working with kid actors. I mean, seriously awesome.

Random cat pic:

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I should probably start calling these “random Scooter pics”

Last no-context WIP snippet for a while:

Bergen’s leering expression held steady until Deena pulled out the chair opposite him. Then his split lip curled off his teeth, turning the smirk into a grin. “Well, hell-oh, Chief Cheerleader. You taking me on?”

Deena kept her face locked in the don’t-screw-with-me expression she’d learned in the Army, but inside she wanted to burst out laughing. Chief Cheerleader? Seriously? “You don’t know me, Jack Bergen. You barely knew me, back in high school. A lot’s changed since then.”

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

I realized recently more than half of my meals consist of a fruit, a vegetable, a bread, and a cheese, plus tea. Cheese pizza & applesauce; crackers & veggies w/spread & berries; pickles, bread, sliced cheese & apple; lettuce salad w/almonds & cranberries and a pita…what can I say? I’m predictable.

Last con of 2018 for me this weekend. VERY much looking forward to it as I pack up my stickers, bookmarks, signs, and of course my books. I have “con boxes” now. the whole repping myself as an author feels…real and mostly comfortable. At least at small cons.

I haven’t mentioned this lately, but if you’ve ever wondered, any images on this blog I don’t take with my phone camera come from Pixabay. They’re all CC0 no-rights-reserved public domain images, but I believe in sourcing (and paying a bit when I can.) So if you like pretty pictures, Pixabay.com is a great place to find them.

Using a gate-keeper and a screen time tracker to keep my online distractions under control really works. I’m at 2 hours/day on the mobile side, including texting and my fitness tracker, with no social media access on the laptop. I’m a happier camper without it, and a much more productive one. Next goal: trim my TV/movie viewing down to 1 hour on non-library nights and nothing after midnight. That…will be a challenge.

The latest in searches:

  • LBJ programs Great America
  • evidence tape procedures
  • difference between gourds & squash

Must-share site of the moment: TIL Reddit. It’s a fountain of random trivia WITH CITATIONS for each entry. It might as well have been created for me. Writing research gold, and a great story idea generator too.

Random cat pic:

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cranky cat-dragon defends his turf

No Context WIP snippet:

The world of the living ceased to interest Fletcher Davis when his last great-great-grandson retired and moved away. Fletch had been dead a long time by then—a century or so—and without family in town to keep him entertained, the mortal world quickly grew boring.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.