Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

It feels like a suety puddingy week, but I did get good stuff done.

For starters I finished my rewrite of Southern Discomfort. Next week I read the revised first chapter to the writing group, edit the synopsis, do a quick last-minute error check (were their places I left Maria’s scenes in third person?) and send it off.

I also finished some finance writing that should put some cash in my pocket, so that’s great.

And Wisp stayed in one night this week, which was nice. Here she is lying out on the deck.

And I participated in an online panel for the online Con-Tinual con created by my friend Gail Z. Martin. You can also access Con-Tinual on FB, rather than that YouTube link. Either way, the panel I was on, on female sleuths and killers, isn’t available yet, but I’ll link when it is.

And I posted a couple of Atomic Junkshop posts about DC’s Captain Action: one on the toyline and first issue, one on the remaining four issues. Feel free to check out my review of the TPB last Sunday too.

So why the suet feeling? Well, last weekend I developed an inexplicable rash which didn’t go away, so Tuesday I took time out of the day to see my doctor (who happily had some time to spare). She provided a skin cream that eliminated whatever it was so it’s mostly gone now. But that left me off-balance Tuesday. Wednesday I got up late after the Con-Tinual session Tuesday night and barely had thirty minutes before the dogs woke up and came down. That wasn’t enough time to get my head in the game.

But I did get Southern Discomfort done and it will go out next week. That was my big goal this month, so I shall celebrate accomplishing it. Go me!

#SFWApro. Cover by Kane, as is the Steve Ditko-style scene below from the origin of Action’s arch-foe, Doctor Evil!

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

The week that dropped out of time

As far as writing goes, this was a waste of a week.

For starters, I’d forgotten I had my six month medical checkup Monday morning, so there went all that writing time. On the plus side, everything checks out good, so that’s a win.

As TYG wrapped up her last week at her old job (as I mentioned this mornning), the amount of work she put into prepping her team ramped up. So more doggy care and running errands (if they had to be run) devolved to me. Which is fair — she did as much for me when I was wrapping up The Aliens Are Here — but still exhausting. Even when I had time to write, I felt too drained to get much done.

And I had to rewrite one of the Accounting Seed articles I’d done earlier this month. Perfectly reasonable, but that much more time.

I did get a good deal further in rewriting Southern Discomfort, though nowhere near as far as I’d expected. I also rewrote Adventure of the Red Leech and read it to the writer’s group on Tuesday. They really liked it, but did have a couple of suggestions how to improve things. For example, give more of Watson’s perspective on Holmes, which is, of course, a major part of the original stories. They also spotted one point where the logic didn’t hold up, but it’s fixable.

I’d thought I might make up a little time today but we had a thunderstorm this morning so Plushie was freaking. While he hid under the coffee table some of the time (as in this photo from a couple of weeks back), he also decided to climb up with me and demand cuddles for security. Cuddling a 20 pound dog is not compatible with work but obviously I wasn’t going to refuse.

This is how things go pearshaped, of course. A day here, a day there and suddenly everything’s behind. But TYG has started a new and better job and that’s a great thing.

#SFWApro. Cover by Irwin Hasen, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Personal, Sherlock Holmes, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

Mine is a genius for improvisation!

Which is to say this week, while productive, did not go at all as planned. But that’s okay; there are times when throwing away the plans and improvising is the right move. I guarantee you, when my manuscript returns from McFarland I’ll be dropping everything else—okay, not the paying finance articles—to proof it carefully, then index it.

What changed things up was that Gollancz, a British specfic publisher, has announced that in June it will open to unagented submissions. I’m not sure if Southern Discomfort is right for them, but that’s an incentive to finish this rewrite ASAP. That requires putting almost everything else on hold.

It went well this week, though bogged down by continuing extra dog care. That should only last another week though. I also got the cover for Questionable Minds finally nailed down and finished another of my finance articles (on integrated accounting).  I also submitted a query to The Guardian for an op-ed on abortion. It’s timely but I know the competition is fierce, so we’ll see what comes of it.

Oh, and I had my last appointment with my physical therapist for dealing with my vertigo. It’s gone. If it comes back, I have exercises for dealing with it.

Below, another photo from our trip to the North Carolina Zoo.And here’s a gorilla. One of the kids watching him said he looked said — could she give him a hug? I love children at zoos.#SFWAPro.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Trixie is adorable. Her tummy, not so much

Wednesday, Trixie once again woke up with a bad tummy. Felt bad, didn’t want to eat, not even her favorite treats. She insisted on coming down to sit with me so my morning plans went out the window. When she started throwing up later, we took her to Park Vet where they gave her an anti-nausea shot. They told us not to feed her until Thursday so I spent evening with Trixie looking around for her food every time I gave Plushie anything. Then looking at me in puzzlement.

Thursday morning, her tummy continued, which is not unprecedented. I had to skip stretching again because it’s not possible to do yoga or any sort of exercise when a small dog insists on snuggling with you. Happily by afternoon she was completely back to normal and this morning I got a full slate of stretching and yoga in.

Despite all that, and a couple of other unanticipated errands I put in a solid week of work.

More on the rewrite of Southern Discomfort.

Another article for the Accounting Seed website.

Another 3,000 words on Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I got past the stumbling block I hit last week, but the changes I made still leave me unclear about what comes next. Still, my instincts have been sound so far.

I finished another draft of Adventure of the Red Leech and it’s looking quite good. I’ll be reading it to my writing group in about a week and a half. I also realized they might be right about Don’t Pay the Merryman (soon to be retitled) when they said the first section would work perfectly well if it had a better ending. I’d like to tell a longer tale and someday I hope I do, but for now I’m going to try cutting it short. I took my first shot at an ending; I’ll give it another go soon.

And I’ve picked the cover for Questionable Minds. I’ll do the requisite cover reveal soon as it’s settled.

Today I was a little exhausted; TYG and I are doing some stuff later so I had to front-load my schedule to get everything in and free up this afternoon. But I succeeded, actually coming in slightly over my required hours. Yay me.

This weekend, though, I intend to crash thoroughly.

#SFWApro.

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

The hair of the dog. Or more precisely the tail.

You can see it below, thrusting out from under the coffee, table, where Plushie hid during a recent thunderstorm.Plushie is utterly terrified of thunder, and not that happy with heavy rain. He stands there shivering and refusing our solace, sometimes tries to jump on tables and in general he’s miserable. We do have tranquilizers that work but he has to get them before the storm hits and we don’t always think to do that.

But this time he ran between the couch and the coffee table, crawled under the long shelf and apparently felt safe and secure. I was worried he’d be stuck there but he scrambled back out later without any problem.

If that’s all it takes, I’m all for it.

#SFWApro.

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This trick seems to be working, mostly

So the past couple of weekends, I’ve made it a point to stay off my computer almost entirely. I leave it in my upstairs office so I can’t use it unless I head up there to do something. It’s very relaxing and avoids me getting sucked into checking news, doing long blog posts or endlessly scrolling Facebook.

It feels great, but slightly disorienting. I don’t normally spend that much time offline and it’s harder to get used to than I’d have thought. But that’s a good reason to keep at it.

Another problem is that there are a few things I absolutely do have to do online and when I do them I usually end up doing a bunch more. I’m looking for a workaround to that. But it’s still a big break, freeing me up to take longer walks, watch more movies, cook more stuff, etc. So it needs tweaking but the principle is sound.

Now, how about photos of sleeping dogs to kick-start your day?

#SFWApro.

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The work went well, the numbers vanished

So part of my improved time management this year is budgeting X hours for various projects, given what I have available. This month, for example, it’s 40 for Leaf and other nonfiction, 25 for Impossible Takes a Little Longer and 10 hours on rewriting Southern Discomfort.

Somewhere since the first of the month, the list vanished. But I can’t blame the Time Commander, I think it’s safe to say I Cut without Pasting. I remember some, but not all of the time plan so it’s not serious. However there were a couple where I had to make hard choices so I’m sure it will throw off my planning a little. Plus I just hate being that sloppy.

This week, though, went very well. I rewrote around 11,000 words of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. The changes I’ve made have improved things hugely—more action/pausing instead of looooong pauses. The little details of worldbuilding and character are falling into place better too. Of course there’s tens of thousands of words to go but hopefully I’ll be able to keep building from here. Fingers crossed.

I put in a couple of hours rewriting Southern Discomfort. The first person voice for Maria’s sections makes more of a difference than I thought. She’ s much more intense and, I think, a little more sympathetic. That should help. Enough? We’ll see when I send it out again.

I had a 1700 word article on financial statements for one of my paying clients. That took up Wednesday.

No short-story work this week. By the time I finished up on Thursday my brain was fried from working intensely, coupled with sitting with the dogs every day this week while TYG tackles a big project. Plus I spent part of my downtime writing Be Sure To Vote postcards for Activate America (if you want to help push back against the looming spread of fascism, this is one way)

So Friday I went with relatively low-intensity stuff. I spent the morning submitting multiple stories so once again everything is out, plus a couple of reprint stories. Fingers crossed for some success here too. The afternoon I did some promotional research: bookstores that I could ask to host a signing, sources for promotional bookmarks (these come highly recommended as a marketing tool), updating the About Me and Published Nonfiction pages of the blog (nothing new in fiction in a while, alas).

And now the weekend. One reason my mind was tired was that I put in extra work at the end of the day to get blog posts written for next week, both her and for Atomic Junkshop (here’s my two latest, on sexist heroes and dropping a comics series). That way I won’t have to get on my computer on the weekend and do them, which should lead to a more relaxed two days, more time to read, etc. We will see.

#SFWApro. Cover by Gil Kane (t) and Mike Sekowsky, all rights remain with current holders.

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

Thwacked by Thursday, a good week otherwise

I don’t know what it was that made me feel so unenthused about writing Thursday but something definitely did. I got some work done rewriting Southern Discomfort (I think it’s going well) but couldn’t nudge myself to do anything else.

It probably reflects that last weekend got hectic. First we attended a potluck, which was fun but I’m still having trouble scheduling around in-person social events. Then Sunday night the dogs underwent massive puking, then during the day, so there were vet visits, laundry to do and general disruption. Happily they’re fine now — whatever got into them has apparently passed out.

Thursday aside, it was a productive week. I finished Oh the Places You’ll Go and submitted it to Fantasy & Science Fiction, which is one of the few places that takes 9,000-plus stories. Plus it’s a prestige market I’ve been bouncing off (rejections with encouragement to write more) for years, so it’s often my first stop.

I finished the next draft of Don’t Pay the Merryman. The ending still doesn’t make sense, though; all the pieces of the story are there but I can’t make them add up to a coherent climax, nor figure out how my protagonists, Maud and Prudence, get out in one piece. Obviously I could have them die but I’m opting for life.

I put in some really good work replotting the first quarter (approximately) of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. Just by making Sarah the target of one of the attacks instead of my protagonist, KC (AKA the superhero Champion),  I was able to increase the amount of action and make things less talky. However things apparently wrap up at the end of this section: Lahatiel the fake angel is down, there’s no other imminent threat, just a few loose ends. The obvious fix is to let the villain behind Lahatiel take a hand but I’m not sure what sort of hand he should take. I can figure it out though.

And today I did my taxes. Going to give them one more going over, then they go off.

I shall leave you with an image of Plushie in one of his favorite sports, rolling in leaves.#SFWApro.

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

Happy birthday to the wonder dog of the age!

We adopted Trixie and Plushie back in October of 2014. At the time the vet estimated Trixie’s age at eight months which puts her birthday at the end of February. So happy eighth birthday, my sweet little dog!She didn’t look like much in the shelter. Scrawny, under five pounds, a stray someone had found on the street. But she was so energetic I had a feeling she’d be a fun dog to adopt, a little livelier than Plushie, whom we’d also looked at. I knew TYG really liked Plushie but she said we could afford to adopt both. And so we did. And as you can see, she cleaned up well.I had no idea how much I would come to love Trixie, but I did. She’s calmed down a lot but still gets excited when she comes down in the mornings to see me or when TYG comes home from an errand or a walk. And she loves snuggling, much more than I would have guessed. I’m still happy we were able to adopt her, and had the money to give her good treatment when she needs it.She’s my little angel and I love her. Happy birthday, baby girl. No matter how old you get, you’ll always be my little puppy.#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

I defied the dizziness!

Despite the unpleasant vertigo I endured this week, it was, once again, enjoyably productive. I finished the rewrite of Questionable Minds — it turns out I did a really thorough job last go round. Now it’s a matter of a)spellcheck, b)getting a cover and c)setting a release date so I can do some promotion. I really liked the cover artist I was working with but I think she may be overloaded with work and stress. We shall see.

I did a rewrite of Oh the Places You’ll Go! and it’s 95 percent solid. The 5 percent is that the ending still feels like it needs something and I’m not sure what. I rewrote it so it pays off what I set up the beginning but it still feels like it needs more. Only I’m not sure what. I may recruit an extra beta reader to give it a look-see. I also submitted a couple more short stories and wrote a few Leaf articles.

I rewrote the first chapter of Southern Discomfort to put it in Maria’s first-tense. It does add to her personal tension and maybe makes her a little more likable. I don’t think it ramps up the tension as much as my first feedback suggested, but we’ll see how I feel after a couple more chapters.

Snowdrop is now routinely exploring the house when he comes in, as in this shot where he’s descending from snooping around the second floor.TYG successfully put a collar with a bell on him early this week. He protested a lot and tried to bite it off, but it’s still on him several days later. It’s a little harder to hear him than Wisp as his floof mutes it some. Below, he and Wisp debate control of the couch. Never mind where I get to sit.Next week will probably not be so smooth. I have our car’s annual inspection (assuming I’m not too vertiginous to drive), the housekeepers come in for their monthly gig and we’re getting a new dishwasher installed (can’t wait!). But I’ve accomplished so much this month already, I won’t feel too bad if things slow down to a crawl.

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals