Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Friday was only moderately inconvenient

In contrast to the July Fridays, I only suffered a slight inconvenience with added dog care this morning. And I’d already put in extra time this week, just in case, so no time lost.

The big accomplishment this week was getting Atoms for Peace released. While Draft2Digital makes it easy to format the ebook and get a CreateSpace-friendly PDF, having to get a table of contents for the paperback meant doing two slightly different versions. That proved more time-consuming than I expected, especially getting the ToC looking right. So rather than think about the stuff I didn’t get done (as I was doing this morning) I shall take pleasure in having accomplished a demanding job (Michelle Berger’s comment on this morning’s post helped). And now it’s done. Finished. Nothing left to do but watch the dollars pile up as it flies off the digital shelves (I can dream).

I got about 3,000 words further on Southern Discomfort which is good, given I didn’t get anything done Monday or Tuesday (so I could get Atoms out before the end of the month). I did my usual quota of Leaf articles (if you need to know the difference between general liability and public liability insurance, just ask!). A couple of them were higher-paying long-form articles, which took more time than I wanted. As they pay three times as much, I want to finish them in no more than three hours, which is three times what the normal article takes. I took a good deal longer than that. It’s the same problem I had when Screen Rant bumped up articles to a minimum twenty entries — finding that much more information takes a lot of time. I need to fix that or stick with shorter stuff.

I did get some new short story stuff written: I have an unfinished, untitled first draft so I worked on that Thursday. Friday I got past a block in the first draft of a short story involving the Tarot and 1930s Hollywood. That made me feel much better, even though neither one is anywhere near even rough-draft level yet.

And I went to a smaller writer’s group this week and got some feedback on one of the new-this-draft chapters of Southern Discomfort. The feedback was very helpful.

For no particular reason other than I think it’s cool, I’m closing with this glorious image of Earth After Disaster from Jack Kirby’s Kamandi comic.

 

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

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework

What did I do to make Friday hate me?

I must have done something because since I got back from Indianapolis, none of them have been productive. First TYG was out of town so I had the dogs to deal with. Last week I was distracted by running the car in to fix the engine (even though it turned out I didn’t need to). And then today …

Early this morning, TYG had to focus so she asked me if I’d watch the dogs for a quarter-hour. Foolishly I took them up to the bedroom without bringing my computer so I couldn’t do any work. When the 15 minutes stretched into 45 minutes, I volunteered to walk them. Plushie was up for a long walk, so we got back after about an hour, me feeling very sweaty. Then up we jumped again for a play date with Lily, Trixie’s bestie.

This took an unexpected and undeniably cute turn when we all ran into Carmela, a five-month-old puppy living down the cul-de-sac (regrettably she’ll be off to college with her owner in a few weeks). Carmella’s at the very friendly puppy stage, eager to play with Trixie and Plushie. The Plush One, as often happens when other dogs (besides Trixie) initiate play, backed off. Trixie didn’t back off, but didn’t seem entirely happy to have a puppy jumping on her. With Plushie or Lily there’d have been a tussle, so I’m guessing she was reluctant to wrestle a little puppy.

However the end result of all that hot humidity and being on my feet for more than an hour was that I felt completely wiped out. I didn’t really get my shit together until a little before noon. Then I had to devote the afternoon to a new Leaf project, 1800 word articles (three times the length, three times the $). Probably because I was still wiped, it used up the rest of the day. At least I hope that was it; if they’re all this labor-intensive, I may have to go back to shorter stuff.

For the rest of the week, let’s see …

I’ve now finished 52,000 words of Southern Discomfort. That’s better than I’d planned, but as I anticipated, it’s slowing down the further I go. Still, I think I’ll be able to finish before September, as I planned.

I finished proofing and editing Atoms for Peace. Now I just have to upload the revised text and make sure I’ve fixed all the formatting problems I had last time. And for the print version, include a table of contents.

I finally got to sit down and think about the revisions I need to make to No-One Can Slay Her. There’s still a couple of weak points I have to fix to set up the big finish, but overall it’s much stronger. Unfortunately I didn’t get to write any this morning, so I’ve only revised a couple of thousand words.

And I have another post at Atomic Junkshop, about rereading comics.

Not a bad week, but I sure would have liked more progress on No One.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, credit for Carmela’s cuteness goes to her parents and God.

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

Bludgeoned by the battery!

So Thursday, we dropped the pups off at Suite Paws, the delightful boarding facility we use to give me a puppy-care break. Thursday evening, TYG was leaving work … and found the car battery was dead. And we had only ninety minutes before Suite Paws closed and the dogs had to stay overnight.

When it became obvious AAA wasn’t going to get to TYG in time to make Suite Paws, she texted one of her friends. He very generously picked me up, drove me to Suite Paws, then drove us home. As the car harnesses for the dogs were in the car, I held them both tight by the leash/harness. They actually liked this as it left them free to watch stuff passing by the window. They love that. However, they’ll have to live with getting buckled in when they’re back in our own car.

AAA juiced the battery enough TYG got to the battery store, bought a replacement and drove it home. But she’d never have made it to Suite Paws. So thanks Josh for the lift; I would have felt very guilty if they’d been stuck overnight without us.

A minor side-effect was that the “check engine” light came on after we got the new battery, so I decided to drive down to the VW dealer for a checkup. When I started out this morning, the light was gone so I came home. But structuring my morning around the trip threw me off my game for the next couple of hours (it shouldn’t have, but as I’ve mentioned before, disruptions in my routine often do).

And it’s not as if I got that much time to write on Thursday. I spent an hour at the bank resolving a minor problem with Mum’s estate (my sister’s the executor but I’m happy to help out when I can), and dealing with a debt collector that doesn’t believe I resolved the identity theft case from last year. And dealing with a contractor. But all that would be much tougher if the dogs had been at home.

I got a fair amount done this week. I finished going over the text of Atoms for Peace, though I haven’t made all the corrections to the document on my computer. And some of them are like “rewrite this paragraph” so it’s not just a matter of quick fixes. It’s coming along well, though.

Southern Discomfort is moving along, though slower now. I expected that would happen the further I got in. For instance, an interrogation scene between FBI agents Cohen and Dini and Olwen McAlister needed a thorough going over. The theory the feds (or “G men” as they used to call them) were pushing simply didn’t make sense; I think restructuring it, everything looks logical

I had a light level of Leaf work because the site crashed for a couple of days. Even with the added time I didn’t get much short story work done. This annoys me but if something’s gotta give, better the shorts than Southern Discomfort.

It doesn’t help the dogs are still demanding more attention than usual. And that I invariably fold and give it to them. Still, there are worse ways to spend the day.

#SFWApro

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

I will try to avoid making anyone’s eyes bleed

So Thursday I upgraded to a paid WordPress plan. This has several features (no ads!) that I think will be useful, plus I got my own domain name.

But I’m also trying to find a different look for the blog. Different background. Different header (the one I want to upload requires some work on the image I haven’t been able to accomplish). Maybe different layout, though this one works quite well.

So the look may be randomly changing as I try styles, decide they don’t work, and try something new. Don’t be surprised. Hopefully I won’t pick anything so garish or awful y’all will just avoid it altogether. But even if all my picks are tasteful, I figured I should let people know. Feedback is welcome.

Below, one shot of Trixie with a little forelock she developed in the past couple of weeks (unfortunately Wednesday’s grooming trimmed it away). Then another photo just to show how adorable she is.

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

A whimpering dog trumps all other concerns

So last Sunday, Plushie was walking across the living room when he suddenly gave it with this inexplicable whimper of pain. A loud whimper. Next second, he was fine, but of course we called the vet as soon as they opened and took him in. And spent the meantime feeling rather stressed.

He was fine at the vet, just like the car that works perfectly when you get to the mechanic. But as he’s had a long history of back problems (he’s part lhasa apso, and they’re prone to ’em) they figured that was probably it. Just a little, but enough to make him cry out. And I could remember a couple of other times recently, with smaller and less obvious cries.

So he’s been on muscle relaxants and pain meds and seems to be doing fine. Plus we’re carrying him upstairs (“we” meaning mostly me) so he doesn’t have to throw his back out walking up them.

Given that his back problems will never go away, we’re happy it’s so minor. No crate rest for instance (that’s a real challenge) and he’s obviously not in constant pain. Still, it was a tense time Sunday, and both of us being tense just reinforced each others’ tension.

I don’t know if it’s some side-effect of the drugs but he’s been very eager for extra petting and scratching this week. I do my best to deliver.

#SFWApro.

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So today, Plushie sharted on me. The rest of the week was better.

I’m not sure how it happened. Suddenly Mr. Squirrel was up to something on the deck, Plushie jumped up while sitting in my lap and barked — and suddenly I had stains on my shirt and bits of pooh on my computer. ICK!!!!!! Possibly he just backed into me getting up and knocked off a pooh-stain, but it was as gross either way. I’m pleased I kept my cool about it, though I did have to order him off my lap, which had Plush dog staring at me puzzled. And then I washed myself thoroughly and disinfected the computer.

Due to my trip to Greenville, this was a short week. I didn’t get my Screen Rant article approved until Wednesday so I spent Tuesday working heavily on Leaf articles. I was frankly impressed I could get seven finished in a day without massive errors but I doubt I could keep up that pace regularly, even if I had the time. And finally today I finished my Screen Rant on recastings that saved shows and those that hurt them. This time all my photos came from Screen Rant’s library, so none to show here.

I rewrote a lot of No One Can Slay Her and started grappling with the problems on Angels Hate This Man. The big one is that the plot involves a right-wing minister who’s getting people out of hell for a price. If he’s scamming the people paying him, how’s he doing it? If he’s really getting souls out, how’s he doing it? I’ve been focusing more on the emotional drama and character arcs, so the How question largely flew by me. Now I need an answer.

And that’s pretty much it. And to make up for showing Plush Dog in a bad light, here’s a photo of him being adorable.

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework

It is the little rift within the lute/That by and by will make the music mute

“And ever widening, slowly silence all,” according to Tennyson in Merlin and Vivien in Idylls of the King. Which is why my illustration is Julia Margaret Cameron’s Vivien and Merlin.

Tennyson’s point is a version of chaos theory: a very slight crack can shatter something big and strong. Which is why I’m a little obsessive about scheduling and goals: I always feel that if I ease up, the stuff I miss will throw me so far off course I won’t get anything done. Which leads me to this week’s writing .

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been having trouble focusing on my reading in the evenings. So on the mornings I woke up early, the first thing I did was read. It was much easier to concentrate, and as insomnia usually  leaves me with more hours in the week than I planned, it didn’t seem like a problem (normally I work until I fall back to sleep, which more than compensates for naps during the day).

But this morning, TYG had a sudden schedule conflict so I had to walk the dogs. She would have been fine if I just took them out for a squat in the yard, but I hate doing that, so they got an hour-plus walk. That was a chunk out of the morning, and when I got back, I just could not get my head into writing. I wound up settling for some research reading instead. As I’d hoped to get a lot of fiction done today, that was frustrating.

And that brings me to my second Little Rift. I realized this week that because I keep missing my “1,000 words of fiction a work day” goal, I’m beginning to ignore it completely. So this Wednesday, when it was very tempting to give it another skip, I made a special effort and got it done. Only today, due to the extra walkies and losing focus (there were a couple of other non-writing things I had to do too) I didn’t get it done. Next week, I’ll be back to shooting for all five days.

So other than my Screen Rant column and my Leaf articles, not much accomplished to talk about this week. A lot of things almost accomplished (I almost had Questionable Minds submitted) but not beyond that. I look forward to resetting and starting over next week.

#SFWApro

 

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Filed under Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

New trends in puppy care

More specifically, Plushie-care. He’s been uber-needy the past week, sitting in my lap almost constantly during the work day. I can’t think of anything that would make him feel insecure or crave closer snuggles, so I’m guessing it’s just a phase. After almost four years, I’ve learned dogs go through those.

Plushie’s also also doing something he hasn’t done before: when I sit in the armchair, he’s decided he wants up there too. In the photo below, he got up after Trixie was already there.

This is awesomely cute, but it’s also uncomfortable. Even without Trixie in the chair, it doesn’t fit me and Plush dog, which is why I wind up with my leg swung over the chair arm. My back and leg do not like this position. And with Plush in the chair, it’s nigh impossible to do anything on the computer. But I have a hard time saying no to him (or to Trixie).

So maybe he’s decided he likes the chair and I just happen to be in it. Or maybe he really craves more time in my lap. Who knows? As I’ve mentioned before, the dogs aren’t automatons; they go through moods and phases as much as we do. Cute though it is, I’ll be happy if he moves into a new phase.

As you may have noticed from that photo, we got both him and Trixie trimmed recently. Here’s a better look at our suddenly gazelle-like Trixie.

And here’s Plushie. Looking like he’s maybe a few months old. See why it’s hard to say no?

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Wow, Wednesday felt wonderful

Not that the rest of the week was awful. But between the added stress from those deadlines and one weekend getting eaten up by sick Trixie, my mind was really balking at work this week. I got my stuff done, but it was definitely slower and more sluggish.

Wednesday though, was great. Because of a morning snowfall (abnormal for Durham this time of year), TYG didn’t go into the office. She stayed on the couch with the pups, I stayed upstairs and worked in peace. Plus I didn’t have any Leaf articles to do (I worked on them late the night before) and I didn’t have a Screen Rant (I should have, because I’m supposed to turn in one a week, but for various reasons that didn’t happen). So for the first time in a couple of months it was just me working on my stuff all day. It felt incredibly liberating.

As far as the week’s accomplishments go, I’ve proofed most of the Atlas Shagged paperback, and found more errors than I expected. So taking the time to proof was definitely the right call (I may eventually go back and fix the ebook too). I contacted one artist about the cover for Atoms for Peace, but I didn’t hear back, so on to the next one.

I cleared up some of my Impossible Takes a Little Longer problems ; instead of my stereotyped Comanches, I’m using a colony of ET warriors along the lines of a bad 1980s syndicated cartoon (think Silverhawks). I’m still not entirely sure what I want from the villain, but I have some ideas.

I worked a lot on straightening out Undead Sexist Cliches (The Book) prior to the next rewrite.

I looked at some possible markets for Space Invaders, and so far McFarland is looking like the best option. Several other small publishers that take film-reference books have some requirements that won’t work for me, like providing a list of seven peer reviewers who can critique the proposal (or the book, I’m not sure which). I imagine if I were an academic writer, that would be easier, but I’m not.

I’d have gotten a couple more things done except I took today off for some stuff. But it looks promising for getting my last writing tasks for March wrapped up next week.

For your entertainment, here’s a shot of Trixie, in my lap and under my lap desk (don’t worry, it’s not resting on her).

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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Atoms for Peace, Impossible Takes a Little Longer, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Wet plushness

It was raining Monday. After we dried Plush off, he continued having a bad hair day.

 

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework