Category Archives: Personal

Plushie has been trimmed

Here’s the Plush One before.Here’s his afterHere’s what was left on the floor.Our old groomer has been sidelined temporarily with health issues so we tried someone new. She wasn’t able to get off many of his matted patches, which was disappointing (but better than accidentally cutting him). As you can see from the After poster, he also looks a lot sadder rather than happy and puppyish — some detail in the facial trim, I guess.

We may go back to her, or to our new groomer if they recover by the time the next trim is needed. Or we might try ourselves.

Trixie looks great but her change before and after is rarely so radical it needs photographing.


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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

A photo of Trixie cuddling my foot

If you’re having a tough Friday, perhaps this will make it a little better.#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

A “disorder under heaven” week

A line of Mao Zedong I’ve occasionally quoted is that “there is disorder under heaven but the situation is excellent.” That sums up this week. It started off frustrating but turned out much more productive than the shakedown cruise of the first week in January.

Monday I had to deal with Plushie’s puking, plus help TYG out with some stuff. That sucked up much more time than expected and chopped up the day into small bursts of time where I couldn’t accomplish anything. Tuesday TYG and I had more stuff to take care of, plus I had my dental cleaning in the afternoon. Once again the day broke up into periods to small to build any focus.Still, I’m pleased with my work. I got another 4,000 words done on Let No Man Put Asunder, which is harder than I thought. After waffling in December, I’ve committed to keeping protagonists Paul and Mandy in the city of Blue Ivy (which I’ll probably rename) at least for the early part of the book. That means instead of having them on the run, alone, they’re having to deal with Mandy’s family, the city police department, plus the bad guys who are after them. All of that changes things up and my mind keeps suggesting more changes. Plutarch, a psionic boy from an alt.Greece is now Flavia, a Nubian slave from an alt.Rome, still psionic but also blind. She gets to keep Plutarch’s living-metal bodyguard, Talos, however.

I rewrote Paying the Ferryman and I think I’ve fixed the problems. I’m going to have my writing group beta-read the second half, however (it’s 8,000 words) to see if it holds up as well as I think, and what to do if it isn’t. I rewrote Bleeding Blue and I think that definitely works: I’ll wait until the end of the month, then make a final proof in hard copy.

The one where those missing two days hurt me most was Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I did get some work done on the book but nowhere near as much as I’d have liked.

On the downside, Adventures of the Red Leech came back from the Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraft anthology I submitted it to. I may send it out again, or save it for Magic in History, the historical fantasy collection of my own stories I plan to put out (needs a better name, though). More disappointingly, Gollancz sent back Southern Discomfort. I’m not shocked — a big publisher announces a window for unagented submissions, the competition’s bound to be tough — but it’s frustrating. I’ve hit almost all the specfic publishers who accept books without an agent and the remaining ones are currently closed to subs. Perhaps it’s time to self-publish again?

Over at Atomic Junk Shop I’ve published a late MLK Day piece and a look at the new generation of comics writers — Roy Thomas, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil, Jim Shooter — who debuted at DC or Marvel in 1965 and ’66.

I’ll close with a look at Trixie and Snow Drop nuzzling. I wouldn’t say our cats and dogs are friends but they get along okay.#SFWApro. Cover by Gil Kane, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

TYG no, Wisp si!

As I mentioned a week ago, TYG spent last weekend out of town. Taking care of the dogs solo went fine, though giving them individual walks in freezing weather (ever since Trixie’s leg injury, we walk them separately) was, well, freezing. Handling them and Wisp when she came in was a bit more complicated — I have to make sure they don’t steal Wisp’s food or crowd her into a corner — and sometimes we had Snowdrop as well.Still, it was a relaxed weekend overall. Lots of movie watching, some reading, and a final sourdough recipe from Bread Head. But then came Sunday night.

Normally when Wisp sleeps in the spare bedroom I join her eventually — I wake briefly (if I’m lucky) at midnight, change rooms, she gets company. When TYG is away, however, I stay in the master bedroom with the dogs. Wisp apparently sensed things would not go her way because around 9ish she began meowing plaintively outside the bedroom door. I let her in and after sniffing around, she joined me and the dogs on the bed.TYG and I have always wondered how this would work, and it turns out it works fine. Neither dog felt the need for a turf war, though when Wisp later moved to lie by one side of me, Trixie squished on the other side. I belong to her, cat better recognize the fact.

That would all have been fine except Plushie, having vomited a couple of times in the early evening, got up a couple more times to vomit on the floor (good boy! Much better than on the bed clothes). His claws on the hardwood floor woke me up both times and with a pet on either side of me I couldn’t get back to sleep. I”d hoped for a solid night of sleep to start the work week, but …

The Wisp thing was still very cool, though i don’t know if it’ll work as well when TYG’s in the bed too. Plushie stopped vomiting by early afternoon but I took him to the vet later, just in case. A day of bland food and he seems back to normal, so yay!


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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

A smoother cruise this week than last

I wrote a week ago that the first week of 2023 felt like a shakedown cruise. This week the ship seemed to stabilize. We still had a lot of distractions but the work went well despite that.

The big distractions came Tuesday. Snowdrop had peed on the couch the night TYG kept him indoors and she could still smell it. We had someone come in to clean the couch off, after which we and the dogs had to stay off it for several hours while it dried.

Unfortunately that resulted in me and the pups sitting on the other couch for most of the afternoon. It’s much harder to work on my computer around them — the couch arms are too high to rest the computer there for instance — so I wound up doing some research reading instead.

We also had someone come in to check out the chimney as well. It has some damage which make it unwise to use the fireplace so TYG wanted a price estimate on repairs. Suffice to say, repairs would cost more than we want to spend, given that we didn’t use the chimney much even when it was in good shape. However if either of us gets a big payday down the road we might reconsider.

Thursday I’d planned to run out to the library and pick up the new Elric book I’d reserved, otherwise the reservation would have expired. That turned into a much larger expedition as I also wound up getting Trixie’s prescription food from the vet, plus food shopping done, plus picking up a prescription. TYG is away this weekend at an alumni event out of town — she left mid-morning — so I’ll be sticking home with the dogs and not going out. That saves me having to crate Plushie — he gets up to mischief otherwise – or the slight possibility something happens to me while driving and then there’s no-one here for the dogs until Monday.

Anyway, that bulked up the trip until I had no focus left for work by the time I got home. Still, I did get quite a bit done this week:

I redrafted a story I last worked on a couple of years ago, before Undead Sexist Cliches, Aliens Are Here and Questionable Minds sucked up so much time. It’s a long way from good yet, but I see more potential in the tale of a ruthless, objectivist businessman and his mysterious nemesis. Currently untitled.

I got several thousand words further in Impossible Takes A Little Longer, getting a lot of Reveals out of the way before things move into the climax (Hitchcock recommended that, so nobody’s distracted from the action by waiting for exposition). I stopped when it became time to move against the bad guys because I’ve no idea what they’re going to do. Hopefully it’ll come to me when I resume.

My research reading involved a couple of urban fantasies I’ll be reviewing soon, Fae of Fortune by John P. Logsdon and Eric Quinn Knowles and rereading Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. I prefer doing that kind of reading outside of writing hours but with so many to-do things distracting me, I compromised.

I got about 3,000 words further into Let No Man Put Asunder. I also read the first two or three thousand words to the writing group who gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up plus some feedback I’ll be discussing soon.

So go me! Let’s hope next week is as productive.

#SFWApro. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Reading, Short Stories, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Sourdough and its discontents

Last month I checked BREAD HEAD: Baking for the Road Less Traveled, by Greg Wade and Rachel Holzman, out of the library. If I didn’t have ten bread-baking books already I’d definitely buy it. I might anyway, or I might check it out from the library another time

I was dubious because the book places heavy emphasis on sourdough, like the loaf in my photo. I like sourdough but not so much I’d make sourdough recipes a regular thing. That makes it feel pointless to go through the work of growing a starter, then keeping it around after I finish the initial bread  — I may not make another sourdough for months and I don’t want to keep nursing the starter along. It would be different if I had a family of five to feed, but it’s mostly just me and there’s only so much bread I can eat a week.

Wade and Holzman make it easier because their system is simpler: flour and water mixed, then you wait until enough wild yeast gets in to ferment it. It still makes way more than necessary; after the first bread I made (sourdough banana bread) I had to pour a lot of it out. And I hate wasting food.

However on the next sourdough I figured out how to reduce the initial quantity to about 25 percent of what was recommended in the book. That left almost no waste.

The recipes are good. I’ve made apple muffins (not sourdough), crumpets (ditto) and cornbread (not sourdough but it does use a cornmeal/buttermilk ferment). The sourdough I made (the one in the photo) was a good bread but not stunningly superior to the breads I normally bake.

I’ll make one more sourdough before I send the book back to the library.




Filed under Personal, Reading

Everything’s strange if you look at it a different way

For no particular reason, I snapped a shot of the spare bedroom in the early morning dark.In a movie this would probably be the start of something very creepy, but happily this is real life.

Not so happily, I was thinking this week of how many people I know who lost someone last month. A mom. A son (two people posted about that). A sibling. One blogger I follow has a wife in the hospital with pneumonia. A friend of mine passed earlier this week, though it still hasn’t sunk in. Yet TYG and I had a great Christmas.

Thinking about that is just so jarring to me. How can we be happy when other people got it in the teeth? Conversely how can bad things happen to people who are every bit as deserving of happiness as me and my spouse? Not that these are new questions — indeed they’re so old and endlessly debated I know I’m not going to find the answer.

All I can think is that even when life is good, it’s more fragile than we think. If yours is good right now, appreciate it. Hold those you love close. If it’s not good, accept a virtual sympathy hug for whatever that’s worth.


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Well everyone else is blogging about their 2022 stats, so …

While I check to see how many visitors I get day to day, I don’t think much about yearly performance. But a couple of other bloggers were discussing Most Popular 2022 posts, so why not?

The number one stat in 2022 is people just arriving on my home page rather than looking for a specific post. I don’t know if you’re here because you read something of mine or you’re just bouncing around the Internet and landed here, but welcome!

As for specific pages and posts, the Hellboy Chronology is still top dog, 900 hits more than the second place winner. As a Hellboy fan, I created for my own use but I love other people have found it handy too. I’m a little behind with the new TPBs coming out, but I’ll read and enter them all over the next month or so. By which point I think something else will be out, darn it!

The number two post in 2022 was about Alexandra Erin’s Shirley exception — “Well yes I support an abortion ban with no rape exception but surely they’ll make an exception if it’s a ten-year-old raped by her father.” Thus allowing them to support draconian laws while pretending they don’t support the consequences (I think state politician Neal Collins may fall in this category.

This one wasn’t anywhere in the top 10 in 2021. I presume it’s the relevance in the post-Dobbs world and some Republicans enthusiasm for abortion bans that don’t even allow mother’s life exceptions that got people checking it out.

My Sherlock Holmes quotes applying to writing have been popular — I really should do another of those — and “there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” came in at number three. “Any truth is better than indefinite doubt” was at eight; “insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories rather than theories to suit facts” was nine (or ten if you count my home page as one).

Fourth was my About Me page. Fifth was my discussion of Alan Moore’s clunky effort to rehabilitate golliwogs. After #6 on misogynist Matt Walsh, we got a general discussion of racist tropes in LXG.

I would draw some conclusion from this, but I don’t have one to draw, sorry.

Cover by Mike Mignola, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Politics, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

What rough beast slouches towards 2023 waiting to be born?

Instead of my usual book review post, you’re getting my plans for 2023. Hope nobody’s disappointed — or would it be better if you love my reviews so much you are disappointed?

Last year instead of a detailed list of year goals I went with a very loose, broad set of goals and applied them in different ways each month. It worked, so I’m trying it again. I do have some specifics: finish six short stories, finish Impossible Takes a Little Longer, zero out my TBR shelf — but also stuff as vague as “stretch my brain” or “enjoy my HEA.” I got about a 75 percent success rate for 2022; I’d like to do as well this year, or better.

My goals can be summed up as: write a lot. Finish a lot of stories. Read and watch movies a lot. Rebuild my social life. Have fun with TYG. Stay healthy. Earn more than I spend. Leave the world better at the end of the year than it started.

I also drew up a new 101 in 1,001 list covering 1,001 things to be done in 101 days, starting today. As I said last month, I’m not using it as a goal list as much as a source of ideas for stuff to put in monthly goals. Keeping it informal will keep me from stressing out over I Musts. This includes multiple specific stories I’d like to finish, several novels — more than I can get done, but what the heck? — and plans for travel, fun dates with TYG, that sort of thing.Although I know things can go south at any time, I can’t help feeling optimstic about 2023. I had a good year last year; it’s possible to make this one better. Both generally possible (in the “anything can happen” sense) and in having kicked several minor problems to the curb.

Wish me luck and success. And believe me, I wish the same for you.

As my plans are kind of amorphous, I figured these Richard Powers covers fit the feeling nicely.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover images remain with current holder.


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Filed under Personal, Time management and goals, Writing

Creative amidst the chaos — that seems an appropriate way to end the year

Which is to say that during 2022’s final fortnight (you may remember I didn’t do a week-in-review last week because of the power outage) I got some good work done but not as much work as I’d hoped. Simply too many distractions.

This week, for example, we had to pick up our car Monday (it was just a dead battery so nothing overly pricey) and drop off the rental car. As I’d canceled my blood-donation appointment Friday due to car complications, I went in Tuesday morning. Then in the afternoon I braved the mall traffic (it’s easy to forget lots of people are still off the week after Christmas) to visit the Apple store and figure out the problem with my phone. It’s been randomly opening apps or switching from one app to the other which is ultra-frustrating; fortunately it turned out to be a simple fix. The replacement glass I got from a repair store had come loose (“If I can look at where it meets the screen and see through to the pixel cells, there’s a problem.”) — though whether they did a half-assed job or I jarred it loose with a couple of subsequent drops (TYG told me I didn’t need a phone cover; she underestimated me) I know not.

That, of course, took up most of Tuesday afternoon so I was irrevocably behind the eight-ball in making my hours this week; the blood donation didn’t help either but I place I high priority on donating regularly. Wednesday and Thursday we took the dogs for long lunch walks which threw off my afternoon planning, but again being a good dog-parent is a priority. Today it was just a matter of “well I’m not going to get everything done, am I?” undercutting my commitment. Plus I woke late which I almost never do. Plus we have Lily and Tito over for the day and they always require extra attention. There’s Tito, from an earlier visit. And here’s Lily.But work still got done. I added several thousand words to the current draft of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. Much of it was reworked from an earlier draft but I moved on at the end into new stuff and it worked. However I reached one of those points where I simply don’t know what to do next and didn’t have the focus to tackle it, so I didn’t meet my quota (30,000 words) for December.

My rewrite of Paying the Ferryman was excruciatingly slow due to the distractions but the story improved considerably. I think it may have reached the point where I can show it to the writing group and benefit from feedback.

I finally drew up a list of my published books and short stories for TYG. While I doubt my intellectual property (e.g., Questionable Minds) will be hugely valuable for her if I pass first, I might be wrong.

I also redrafted Oh the Places You’ll Go! slightly based on editorial feedback and completed the revised draft of The Love That Moves the Sun. Both go out next month, assuming I can find markets.

There’s other stuff I’d hoped to get to but I think I can feel pleased with all that work. And I published several blog posts at Atomic Junkshop variously dealing with how to spend Christmas money, a great Teen Titans scene, the teenage crimefighter Tomboy and the disappointing end of a Silver Age story arc.

Happy New Year everyone! I wish all y’all a fabulous 2023.

#SFWApro. Book cover by Samantha Collins.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing