Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Considering how it started, this week went quite well

When TYG and I got back from our madcap Mensa weekend we picked up the dogs from doggy boarding, then I made chili (quick, easy, tasty — perfect for the end of a long day driving). I’d already planned to take Monday off so that if the dogs, Wisp or Snowdrop wanted some extra attention after our absence I’d have no conflicting obligations. That proved fortunate because Sunday night, Plushie came down with the every-two-hours squirtling diarrhea.

As TYG has a less forgiving boss than I do, I took point on walking him and spent most of Monday in a daze. I tried taking naps during the day but invariably Wisp would start demanding to come in or Plushie would suddenly discover it was time for a new squirtle. He stabilized Monday night thank goodness, then Tuesday TYG took him to the vet. They found nothing; we brought him in for an ultrasound Thursday but haven ‘t heard the results. While we’d love to know why he’s had this problem more than once this year, we’re relieved they didn’t find cancerous lumps in his stomach or anything like that. If diarrheal 1AM walkies are the trade-off for keeping him around, so be it.  But for the moment he’s back to normal potty hours and solid poops.

Oh, here’s a look at him after the ultrasound. He’s so sensitive to pain (“A sensitive boy” as they put it at the vet’s), they drugged him to be comfortably numb. He remained stoned the rest of the evening.I was quite exhausted the rest of the week. Coupled with the cats spending time in the morning, I wound up not getting any exercise done; my diet was none too healthy too. Work, though, went pretty well

First up, I finished the revised Mage’s Masquerade and it looks good. I started looking for markets without any success so far though I did stumble across markets for Bleeding Blue and Fiddler’s Black. Both are now out.

I also put in work on The Cheap Assassin and have at least a working idea of the story/character arc (it’s a character-centric story). At this point, however, it’s heavy on talk rather than action. I need to find a way to have something happen besides exposition. I’ve had that problem before; it’s fixable.

I put in a couple of thousand words on Let No Man Put Asunder which gives me the 10,000 I wanted for this month. I may do more next week but there are other projects I can concentrate on. I also spent some time planning the next draft of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I’ve realized KC needs to be a lot more intense from the first chapter; I can see how to do it.

I also worked getting the manuscripts for 19-Infinity and Oh the Places You’ll Go ready for self-publishing. That included sending the latter story out for beta-reading. I have a cover image for it as well; hopefully I can have it out and for sale by the end of April.

And over at Atomic Junk Shop I look at the impact of Steve Ditko leaving Marvel plus a couple of stories I just like. Over at Con-Tinual’s YouTube channel, I’m one of the panelist discussing mythological tropes.#SFWApro. Have a great weekend everyone. Cover by Jack Kirby, all rights remain with current holder.

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

In a sense, this week was inevitable

As I’ve written before, things such as workweeks have a tendency to average out — just by random fluctuation a string of good writing weeks will be balanced out by a bad one. Which was this week.

I knew today would be a non-starter because I’m spending it doing stuff with TYG, but I’d planned to make the most of the other four days. Monday I got maybe 2,000 words done on Let No Man Put Asunder; however I think much of it will need reworking before I go on.

Tuesday I put in some work on a short story and its showing progress.

Wednesday the cats came in and snuggled with me for around an hour (as in this older photo).That’s very cool, and Snowdrop even stayed in when I closed the door. However it left me no time for exercise or stretch before the dogs woke up which left me feeling off. After breakfast, I wound up squished between Wisp in the lap and Trixie next to her, both demanding petting and erasing my personal space — and my mind just balked. I got some blogging done, and a little research reading but no writing (blogging, when I’m point, does not count against writing time).Thursday my focus didn’t come back up. It’s partly my old devil of knowing I’m not going to work a full week so why bother to put in any work at all? I did get some stuff done, but low priority, low-intensity stuff, research for my planned Jekyll and Hyde and Doc Savage reference books. Writing would have been better.

Like I said, the law of averages says not every week is going to be stellar. This one wasn’t. But I did get $16 bucks for some of my books from Draft2Digital sales (thank you, whoever you are!). And over at Atomic Junk Shop I published some thoughts on what makes the Bronze Age of comics distinctive and a couple of Silver Age stories that just stuck with me.


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

The bird and the dog

Walking the dogs recently we discovered this fine fellow having lunch at a nearby intersection. A driver passing by said the bird and his mate nest not far away.Trixie parked herself down and didn’t want to move. I’m not sure if the attraction was the sight of the bird or the smell of the carrion.Eventually I got her to move along and we finished our walkies.


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Dogs in rapture

Last weekend, we had our neighbors’ dogs Lily and Tito over again while their parents were out of town. They joined ours in staring up at TYG when she offered them treats.Here’s the same scene from another angle.#SFWApro.

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A good week, if you discount the three rejected short stories

Because that part kind of sucked. Of course, it’s par for the course in this business, but it’s still no fun. At least two of the three were “send us more stuff some time.”

That makes me that much happier that some of my unpublished stories will come out in my self-published anthology, The History Arcane (no release date yet). As I’ve mentioned before, submitting to magazines takes time to review the guidelines, make any odd changes required to the manuscript and of course to read the magazine and see if the story’s a good fit. Self-publishing is unlikely to turn a profit but they’ll be out in the world at last, and that will be great.

(The cover, if you were wondering, is from a story arc dealing with the occult history of America, as is the Dr. Strange below)

Another disappointment this week: I’m postponing my plans to open a store. I’d planned to open a Shopify store and incorporate it with this website, but that costs more money than I have right now. So then I thought I’d go with a stand-alone Shopify store — it’s about $5 a month — but then I bogged down. Picking themes, dealing with legal questions about how much data the store retains (I’d prefer “nothing I don’t need to function” but that’s not an option … I think) and the need to pay extra for more apps to do this or that. I’ll stick with making the store part of this website as I’m familiar with the environment. I’ll wait until it’s time to renew my domain name and then upgrade my plan. That’ll also give me time to work out some details.

The writing went well. Normally I don’t rewrite first drafts as I go, but I went back over the first five chapters of Let No Man Put Asunder and got part of Six done. It was a wise choice as a couple of things I planned to do in Chapter Six I’d already done earlier in the book. Now, though, I think they’ve had enough of “run, get attacked, fight back” so I need to change things up. I’m not quite sure how yet.

I rewrote Mage’s Masquerade and it’s much improved. However I’m still not sure it’s improved enough: the romantic arc works but the murder mystery still hinges on a couple of handwaves. Fixable but, again, I’m not sure how.

I took a look at one of my older, unfinished stories, The Cheap Assassin, and found it frustrating. It’s got a great opening and I know there’s a killer story there, but at the moment I can’t see how to unearth it. But it’s much easier to try when I’m confident something is there.

I worked on History Arcane, drafting an introduction and collecting the stories. The total’s about 90,000 words so I may opt to take a couple out and make it smaller and cheaper. Or maybe not.

And I took up part of the week doing our taxes. They’re unusually complicated this year and I can’t quite believe we owe as much as my figures say. But part of my reason for doing them early was so that I have time to double-check everything; indeed, I already shaved the bill down by correcting a couple of mistakes.

A minor win: I have consistently put in more than my self-imposed minimum of 30 hours a week every week this month. This is a good thing as my time management has been running in the opposite direction in recent months.

So that was my week, bring on the weekend. To close this column, here’s our ever vigilant guard dog, Trixie, alert to the scent of evil.#SFWApro. Covers by Tom Mandrake (top) and Gene Colan, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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

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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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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