Category Archives: Personal

Wisp is our babe behind bars!

Yep, we did it! We caught Wisp and took her to the vet on Wednesday for a complete medical checkup, plus getting her microchipped. She’s really ours now (okay, she has been for a while). Unsurprisingly she didn’t like it any more than these women — luckily Wisp isn’t packing heat.It was quite a busy week for vet visits. We took Plush and Trixie in for some booster shots on Saturday, forgetting to give them painkiller first. They were miserable the rest of the day and on into the next morning. Plus Trixie wouldn’t pee or poop for the vets and Plushie wouldn’t poop so I had to bring in samples during the week. At least I combined the Plush poop delivery with bringing in Wisp.

I really had my doubts we could get her to go into the pet carrier while either of us was close, even with food inside. But just like last year, she suddenly started being more comfortable with me standing around. This morning, I did my best to look uninterested and stare off into the distance while Wisp crept into the carrier, then I spun and closed the door (fortunately she tucked her tail inside when I did, or I’d have had to leave it open). Game over! She made the most pitiable mews of misery all the way there and back.

As they had to sedate her, we were supposed to keep her inside and safe for 24 hours while the drugs wore off. Wisp, however, was not keen on this. When we released her in the living room (dogs securely upstairs) she went over to the French doors and tried to get out.We bought her off for a while with food and with petting, but ultimately I thought she’d be less stressed outside, so I opened the door. She was much calmer than last year, when she bolted out of sight, and eventually settled into a shady spot under the deck stairs. I do hope she’ll be okay, but we let her out last year and it turned out fine.

So that’s done. Woot! Next up, working to get her comfortable with being inside for long stretches, even if we can’t make her a totally inside cat.

Oh, and the vet says she’s in great shape: no worms, parasites, fleas, etc, everything in good shape, so we’ve been doing a good job. I’m quite happy to hear that.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

Brooding and counter-brooding

So my flash fiction Rabbits Indignateonem came back Saturday with a “Excellent piece, we enjoyed reading it but …” response. Which is nice, because compliments are always better than “that had massive flaws in it” (I get those sometimes) or a No without comments (got that on Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates midweek). But it’s not a sale. And always leaves me worried I’m good, but not quite good enough. That I can’t sell to better markets or more frequently or that I’ve just run out of steam; the last new story I sold was 2018 (two reprints from earlier sold this year). Thoughts of this nature make me broody.

But then again, part of that may be that I haven’t had that many new stories. 2015-16 I was working on Now and Then We Time Travel in addition to my Leaf work; 2017-18 I was doing Screen Rant and those eventually consumed much more time than when I started (hence no longer doing ’em). The past year I’ve put in a lot of time on Undead Sexist Cliches. And of course I was finishing up Southern Discomfort somewhere in the middle of that too.

If I had more stories out circulating, the odds one of them would find a publisher who likes one of them would go up (at least I hope so). I wouldn’t say that’s the only factor in play — I’m definitely not at the level of NK Jemisin or Robert Bloch — but it is a factor.

Once I finish Undead Sexist Cliches my slate will be a lot clearer for fiction. Still doing Leaf, and I have my upcoming Alien Visitors book for McFarland, but that won’t be as demanding as Now and Then .. was (much less ambitious). So, who knows? Perhaps I can elevate myself to at least selling semi-regularly again.

Fingers crossed.

Now, as to this week, it was moderately productive. Did my Leaf articles, and I got close to the end of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches, which has proven the toughest to organize. Unfortunately the temptation to do just a little more on that book kept me from working on either Questionable Minds or Alien Visitors (formerly titled Space Invaders). Next week I’ll start with them to make sure I put some time in. TYG’s work is going to be crazy for a while which will probably lead to extra dog care, but I’ve had practice working around that.

And unfortunately my cover artist for Questionable Minds, whom I was looking forward to working with, seems to have been sidelined by pandemic stress. No blame attached, this is a rough time for all of us (I’m obviously not finishing the book as fast as expected), but I am disappointed.

Oh, and I posted on Atomic Junkshop about Cast a Deadly Spell as a hardboiled PI movie (matching with my post here about the movie as urban fantasy).

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Now and Then We Time Travel, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

The refrigerator didn’t use to be this crowded

But the Trump Virus fridge is another story. It’s difficult to find space when our latest deliveries arrive. Even with sliding shelves, it’s often difficult to get stuff out.It didn’t use to be like this. The fridge would be packed Friday night or Saturday morning when we made our shopping trip to Whole Foods or Sprouts. Then it would slowly open up during the week. Now, though, I keep slightly more milk, kefir and cheese on hand, among other things, just in case there’s a shortage. Which isn’t being overly cautious either — things I expect to buy sometimes turn up unavailable from Amazon or Target. TYG loves grated Parmesan and eats a lot of it on pasta, so we need a lot of it on hand (ditto feta, which is behind some of the items on top).

Another factor is that TYG is cooking quite a bit. She’s whipped up her own recipe for marinated grilled veggies with tofu, and so there’s always a big container in the fridge either marinating or grilled. Plus I cook my stuff, which TYG sometimes eats, but not always (depends on her schedule). The aluminum foil covers an apple pie, for instance.

Plus we both put in food orders rather than make one weekly shopping trip, so that sometimes leads to excess. Even with the pantry holding a lot of extra food, we’re almost at capacity. I may give some thought this weekend to seeing how we can rearrange things for better use of space.

But yes, this is a trivial problem to have these days.

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It was overall a good hand, but not the cards I expected

So after putting lots of extra effort into Leaf work the previous couple of weeks the latest cycle of articles ended last week. I figured I’d make up for the lost time on personal project this week … but to my surprise, the new cycle started up Monday. As I like making money, I immediately started claiming Leafs, but it was a little disappointing. My work on Impossible Takes a Little Longer Monday morning really felt good and I wanted more. However for the moment it’ll have to wait as Undead Sexist Cliches, Questionable Minds and my Alien Visitors film book come first.

Unfortunately, my sleep Monday – Wednesday night was for shit. The first two nights may be the Zoom writing meetings — I’m beginning to feel there’s something to the idea being on computers/phones in the hours before bedtime interferes with sleep. Wednesday night Trixie, who’s been very restless of late, paced up and down for a bit, clacking her claws on the hardwood floor. That woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. As a result I didn’t get much done beyond Leaf, and some work on Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches (feminism destroys families, education and the workplace!).

I thought I’d make up for that today a little, but today I woke up sick and draggy. No, doesn’t appear to be COVID-19, most likely it;s allergy-based (possibly because that morning I was coping with Wisp and Trixie, I forgot my meds). I know from experience the best treatment is simply to do nothing all day, and so I did.

On the plus side, I’m seeing a marked improvement in my juggling this week, and much better focusing in my meditation practice. So at least something of my own is getting done. And I did make money, which right now is very reassuring.

I’ll leave you with this uncredited cover (though a friend of mine says the art is by Emsh). #SFWApro, all rights to image remain with current holde.r

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Nature photography

I saw this the other day while walking Trixie. It amused me.Here’s the plant in our container garden, now at least six feet tall and blooming.

While I don’t have a photo, Wisp came into the house Monday and checked out the downstairs for the first time in months. As usual, as soon as she realized I was following her, she decided she wanted out again. Then next morning, during the rain from Isaias, she came in and got breakfast.Then TYG let Trixie come downstairs and I spent about thirty minutes petting both animals and making sure neither one went for the other. We had one quick squabble, no teeth or claws deployed on either side.Finally Trixie settled with me on the couch and Wisp took up residence on the pillow. Eventually she went out after the rain had died.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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I’m not planning to make this a weekly food post, but …

But I don’t have much to talk about this morning (let’s face it, I’m not traveling much), so here’s a photo of the maple oat bread I made last week.I’ve no idea how I stumbled across this online recipe because with a dozen bread books, I don’t usually go looking unless there’s something specific I want to bake with and don’t have recipes for. But this one turned out well. It’s a no-knead bread which made it easy: mix, leave it to rise, then dump it into a pot heated to 450 degrees in the oven. It came out great, though the maple isn’t as strong as I’d expected; the baked flavor of the crust drowns a lot of the sweetness. Toasting it, however, amplifies the maple taste a lot. So does eating it with cheese. I also tried eating it with something spicy but that didn’t enhance the flavor.

It’s also quite a large loaf, which is good as I go through my homemade bread very fast. Or bad, because when I have a huge loaf I often wind up eating that much more.

I think for my next loaf I’ll try something more demanding, with kneading, before I get too lazy.

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Family and pie

So last weekend my kin and I — my brother, Dad, my sister and her and my mutual BFF Cindy — had a Zoom sit-down dinner. You get the idea, I’m sure, even if you haven’t tried it: they eat, TYG and I eat and we all chat over dinner (though my brother, being on Pacific time, didn’t participate in the eating part). For myself and TYG, I made a vegetarian pot pie from one of the Moosewood cookbooks

The Zoon hangout was my idea, I’m proud to say, and I also paid for a Zoom subscription so that I could host (the duration and number went beyond what a free membership would allow). It was worth it. I won’t be traveling anywhere outside Durham this year, but this way I got to see everyone and catch up.  It only lasted about 45 minutes, but we can do it again whenever we want, maybe with other relatives in on it.

I do think it’s a little limited. If we’d been there in person we’d have had side conversations and moments when conversation stopped while we chewed. The Zoom set-up sort of focuses against stuff on the side so when we ran out of conversation we just stopped. Still fun. Way better than not seeing them until 2021.

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I am not the role model for the human experience

So I was reflecting this week that I have no idea what life is like for people who are going out of quarantine and back to work outside their homes. Or eating out. Or going into stores. While I don’t write much fiction set in the present, if I did that would be something I’d have to keep in mind. Maybe for certain types of nonfiction too.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of lifestyle/dating articles that start from the assumption the writer is the template for all members of their gender. Thus they assure the reader that all men cheat. Or all men see women primarily as disposable, interchangeable bodies. All men tell their friends details about sex. No, they never talk. Wait, they talk but only about hookups, never a serious relationship. As you can see, there’s some disagreement on what all men are like, even among men. Or consider one article I remember by a woman who emphasizes that no, all men are not alike and do not want or do exactly the same things — but then she asserts that all women look to their boyfriends to be a father figure.

I suspect part of this is the assumption (which some of the male-written articles are specific about) that “I’m totally a regular guy!” from which it’s easy to generalize that other men are just like you, raining down from the sky in an endless stream (thereby justifying my inclusion of that great Neal Adams cover). Claiming a universal gender difference also helps separate the men from the women; the “all men cheat” article added that women can’t understand this because “it’s a guy thing.” Yes, that’s right, no women cheat. Oh, wait, they do. And part of it, with topics like that is, I’m sure, an excuse: if everybody does it, if it’s just our Y chromosome asserting itself, you can’t blame me!

But getting back to quarantining … Since TYG started working from home four months ago, things have been pretty much consistent for us. We go out if we need to get meds from the vet or something like that; order lots of stuff on Amazon; rely on chats with our neighbors and Zoom meet-ups to provide social stimulation from people other than ourselves. When I read about stay-in-place orders ending, my main thoughts are about the risk to the people forced back to work. From a personal viewpoint, it has no more significance than a new bypass being built in Atlanta.

The only reason I have a clue what it’s like for people who have to go back to work is FB posts and blog posts by my friends. Without that it would be easy to think everyone’s still staying home (and Durham is, in fact, still under a Stay order). Or forget that some people who are staying home can’t work, and therefore don’t have money coming in.

So if I were writing something in the present that deals with the pandemic I’d have to make an effort to start thinking about what it’s like for the rest of American society rather than just following my own impressions.

Because it’s not all about me.

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These are unusual bookshelves

As I mentioned last week, TYG bought a bunch of new bookshelves, which led to putting one of the old ones upstairs in my office. This weekend I got everything more-or-less sorted out. The new bookshelf upstairs holds stuff I’ve written and writing how-to books—Which has created more space on the wire-frame bookshelf next to it, allowing me to spread out my tchotchkes a little.You have no idea how weird it is to look at them. Seriously. I have lots and lots of books and comics and it’s unusual for me not to crowd stuff into every inch of space. But for the moment, at least, I have more than I need. And my book-buying pace has slowed down to the point it may be a while before that changes.

I like sitting in my recliner and working next to the new set-up, but it really does feel strange.

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If you’ve ever dreamed of hearing my words aloud — or even if not —

My interview with the Two Gay Geeks podcast went live this morning. So if you’re sitting around in quarantine with nothing to do, why not give it a listen? I talk about writing fiction, writing about movies and personal stuff.

While it has no connection with the TGG duo, here’s what’s growing in our abandoned container garden on the deck. We’ll be reclaiming the pots next spring but this year was too hectic.

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