Category Archives: Personal

Cats hanging out in our dining room

When Wisp and Snowdrop explore, they seem to like the dining room. We use it primarily to store stuff and the dogs don’t spend much time there so perhaps it smells like peace and safety?Plus it’s a more defensible fortress than any space we have in the living room.


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This could be a big deal

So recently Snowdrop came in one morning, sniffed around the pillow where Wisp usually sits ——and then settled on the couch for petting. After a few minutes he was relaxed enough I decided to chance closing the door to the deck. Usually that panics him into leaving but it was cold and I could only endure it for so long.

For the first time he was completely unfazed by me shutting him in. I came back to the couch and petted him for several minutes before he got up and padded to the door. I let him go.

It hasn’t happened since but it’s potentially a breakthrough. It’ll be much easier to pet him and care for him if we can have a door closed against inclement weather. Perhaps TYG will get her wish and have him curled up in her lap sooner than we expected.


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Two months into 2023, I have not lost my way

One-sixth of 2023 is now in the rear view mirror. I think I’ve made good use of it.

I’ve no idea why but I’m getting a lot more fiction done, and finding answers to short stories I thought were hopeless dead-ends such as Paying the Ferryman (I think I’m going back to my old title, Obolus) and Mage’s Masquerade. And writing on Let No Man Put Asunder has gone surprisingly smoothly for a first draft. Is it that TYG is so much less stressed the past few months? That I’m not currently putting any time on the boring bills-paying gigs? Or is it that after working on Jews in Popular Science Fiction, Undead Sexist Cliches and The Aliens Are Here, the break from fiction left my mind refreshed? Either way, I just hope it keeps up.

On the downside, those boring bills-paying gigs have disappeared which makes paying my share of the household bills much tougher. My fiction and personal non-fiction writing don’t contribute much. I will make it work though, whether that means scrimping by (not that we’re in any danger of ruin but I like contributing to our bottom line, not to mention having money for fun stuff)

A side effect of my writing being so productive is that the everyday maintenance details get left. Nothing urgent but there are various tasks I’ve been putting off because I wind up writing through the time I intended to spend on them. I take care of anything that has to be done now — our car’s annual state inspection/tune-up, for instance — but not the “we need to do something about that” stuff that’s important but not urgent. I may have to jigger my schedule a little this month to improve.

I’m also really bad about taking regular breaks. That makes a big difference: as I’ve said before, without breaks I burn out sooner in the day. Once the work gets going I forget, or there’s some disruption in my schedule that throws me off.

On the personal goals front TYG and I have made travel plans for this year (figuring out where we’d go and when was a goal of mine) and we’ve been having regular dates, which has been fun. Everything from a recent production of Hamlet to shopping for dog toys at PetSmart to visiting a local graveyard (photos soon).

My blood pressure is up so I’ve been pushing myself to emphasize more fruits and veggies in my diet. I’m a vegetarian already but it’s still easy to go heavy on grains or cheese and not enough produce. We’ll see how well this works out at my next checkup. I’ve been falling short on my exercise goals but only slightly — not, I think, enough to matter.

And slowly but surely my TBR pile is shrinking. Of course, not buying any new books doesn’t hurt.

Fingers crossed the rest of the year is even better. As a statement of optimism, here’s a photo of a recent sunrise.#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder.

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Life is suffering

Here you can see Plushie crushed down by the existential loneliness of our existence. He shouldn’t have watched all those Ingmar Bergman films!Spare some sympathy for our little guy, if you would.


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It’s a shame I cannot work full-time on fiction and pay the bills

Because as my one of my main nonfiction clients (I’m not counting McFarland) has wrapped up its project (I suspect they’ll be back with something else eventually) and the other hasn’t contacted me in a while, I’ve been doing mostly fiction. I’m enjoying it. When I’m too tired for fiction, I work on submitting shorts or paying taxes.

It can’t last though because I need to make money on top of my Social Security, and make it more regularly than occasional short story sales and McFarland royalties. Though speaking of sales, I sold another copy of Questionable Minds recently, so thank you unknown purchaser.

So I’m applying for various other freelance gigs. I’ll let you know if any work out.

But this week, at least, I got to make fiction a priority. I rewrote Mage’s Masquerade and while it’s not finished, I think I’ve licked the problems with both the mystery plot and the protagonist’s love relationship, building them up so they make sense. I rewrote Paying the Ferryman (I have got to think of a better title) and much improved it. However I think it’s as good as I can get it without feedback so I’ll read it to the writing group soon. I also worked on a couple of short stories that are still in the Oh God, This Will Never Work phase. If I keep working on them hopefully they’ll be in better shape soon; one I think is close, the other … may be a waste of time. We’ll see.

I got some more writing done on Let No Man Put Asunder. It’s going well, though that has me pessimistically waiting for when I discover I’ve plotted myself into a dead end. But you never know, maybe I haven’t.

I also started work on putting together my Magic in History anthology (which will have a better name soon). I know the stories I want to include and I’ve begun the editing.

I also began thinking about my next film book, though I’m not pitching McFarland right away. Out of three possibilities, I’m inclined to go with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde b0ok. It’s a small enough number of movies that it won’t consume as much time and effort as Aliens Are Here did. However I will have to answer several questions before I propose it, mostly about boundaries. For instance, where is the line between Jekyll and Hyde and split personalities in general? Or a film such as The Nutty Professor which is very much a Jekyll and Hyde variation even though it’s different characters? Stay tuned.

Satisfactory all in all though it is sometimes hard maintaining a high creative level. As I mentioned in a previous post it would help to get up and take breaks but it’s hard sometimes to break away, especially with dogs in my lap.

Speaking of which, here’s Trixie hoping I’ll play with her favorite toy, the rubik’s cube on the floor.#SFWApro. cover by Samantha Collins, rights are mine.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Writing

It was a touch chilly last Saturday morning

As you can see here.And here.But I’ve grown attached to living in an area with four seasons so I’m not complaining.


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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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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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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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