Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Teeth, lack of sleep, contractors — I hit the trifecta again!

So early Saturday morning, some time between 1 am and 2, TYG shifted into bed into Trixie’s sleeping space. Trixie, rather than just move a little ways, got off the bed, ran around to my side and tapped me to move so she could jump up. I woke, settled her on the bed … and found I’d been too thoroughly awakened to get back to sleep.

Sunday morning, Trixie decided she wanted to go out. Turns out she didn’t need to go, she just wanted to explore (this happens every so often). Again, sleep denied.

Sunday evening, we dropped in on our neighbor for a puppy play date and a glass of wine. The wine apparently messed up my sleep rhythms (which I was aware might be a problem) and I got almost no sleep.

Combined, that left me with a sleep deficit I haven’t quite made up until today. My work was correspondingly … uninspired.

Then on Thursday I had a follow-up dental appointment to replace my temporary crown with a permanent one. I showed up, got my mouth numbed … then it turned out the lab had made a misaligned crown so we had to cancel. That was a waste of potentially productive time, and I’ll still have to go back for my next appointment.

That afternoon I had to spend a couple of hours dealing with a contractor for some upgrades to TYG’s bathroom (new shelf, new small mirror).

I managed to squeeze out one redraft of Bleeding Blue that doesn’t come near enough to fixing the problems (I’m scheduled to read at one of the next two writers’ group meetings, so I want it at least a little more polished). I posted about cool book covers on Atomic Junkshop. And I got a fair amount done on Sexist Myths. But by and large, I felt kind of like the guy on the cover below.

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

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Filed under Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Goals for September, plus Wisp

So I made about 49 percent of my goals for September. This is not great, though I blame it mostly on circumstances, like lingering summer making it hard to get out, being sick that couple of days late in the month and various pup and cat issues.

Plus Sexist Myths is just slower to write than I hoped. I made a lot of progress during the two weeks when I wasn’t doing any Leaf articles, but even so. And I let it spill over into time I’d marked off for fiction which is always a mistake. I’ve done that with other nonfiction projects and the added work on them doesn’t make up for the unwritten fiction. Bad me!

And once again, I think my schedule needs some micro-adjustments. I’ll detail them another time.

On the plus side, Wisp is getting increasingly friendly, though she’s still making it clear she’s her own cat — no indoor-cat life for her! Though when I accidentally shut the door with her inside a week ago, she handled it with aplomb, just sitting there and going “mew …. mew.”

She forgave me. And as you can see, she’s down with letting me pet her belly.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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I hadn’t planned on a three-day week

I’d thought maybe a four day. Trixie had to go in for a dental cleaning yesterday, which threw my schedule off enough (not only trips to and from the vet, but wanting to cuddle her once she made it home) I figured maybe I’d take the day off and clean. But I also started to feel run down; I’m not sure if it’s due to a bug or allergies (they don’t usually get this bad up here, as opposed to Florida, but once in a while …) butI started to feel tired yesterday (though I did get some major cleaning done) and wiped out today. So no work. Though I take some comfort that my reaction was “darn it, I was going to be creative!” rather than “yay, vacation!”

Plus Trixie got up very early to poop a couple of nights, so I had to take her out and got little sleep after that. Happily it seems to have passed.

So what did I get done? Well, a lot of work browsing through various books with information for Sexist Myths, and adding it to the manuscript. I’d hoped to over the early chapters and straighten out the footnotes (I haven’t kept up with the constant addition of data) but still, I think the book’s coming along well.

I rewrote most of Bleeding Blue. I plan to be reading at one of the upcoming writer’s group meetings so I wanted one, or preferably two rewrites first. That would have been a major part of today’s work.  And after thinking about Oh, the Places You’ll Go last week, I started on a rewrite. Didn’t get far, though.

On the bright side, I was able to apply Wisp’s topical anti-flea meds this week. The vet told me it would be easy (and it’s only once every three months) but I had my doubts. She was right though. And Wisp has been very friendly, asking for pets and catching Trixie to rub up against her when we go out. So here are some photos.

#SFWApro. All rights to images are mine.

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A cute photo of a puppy, then my week in review.

Here’s the puppy, a corgi I met at Petco last weekend:

Now, the week. It’s part of a two week stretch with no Leaf to write, and it went well, despite the dental visit Tuesday and some extra dog-walking.

I submitted three stories to various markets.

I found an artist (my friend Samantha Collins) for the cover of my soon-to-be-self-published Questionable Minds.

I heavily reworked Chapter Three and Four in Sexist Myths (I’m also considering Lies That Sexists Tell as an alternative title), lumping “Feminists hate men” and “feminists won’t let men be chivalrous heroes” into one chapter (the latter was my original chapter four) and other “feminists destroy society/families/the government” in another. I think it works. However Chapter Four (feminists destroying stuff) needs a lot more information and examples than I’ve provided so far. Doable, but it’ll take work.

I didn’t get as much fiction done as I’d hoped, but I got quite a bit. I reworked The Schloss and the Switchblade yet again before submitting it to a movie-themed anthology. I did another draft of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates and it’s really showing some improvement now. And I finally took a second look at one of my older stories, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. When I read it for the writers’ group, the reactions were that I needed to explore the concept (people being able to time travel via antique maps) more and give it a stronger plot. They were good criticisms though I didn’t want to give up the core of the original short story, which was the family dynamic. After giving it some thought yesterday while the dogs were in day care (as I’ve mentioned before, having dogs on my lap is too distracting to just think or outline or brainstorm), I came up with a tentative outline, some ideas about the “traveling” community and various ideas to give it more plot. I don’t know how long this revised version will be (several people said I should make it a novel, but I don’t know if that’s the right length) but I’ll let the story play out and see.

Overall nothing earthshaking, and nothing actually finished (sigh), but a week to be pleased with nonetheless.

To wrap up, here’s a blackberry goat cheese tart that I made last week. Very tasty.

#SFWApro. Images are mine

 

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Updates on the Wisp

So after we caught Wisp for the vet, she was initially very needy, then became quite skittish. Didn’t show up much. Only took petting as a kind of prequel to getting her dinner (“See, I like you, now feed me!”). Which I couldn’t blame her for, of course; getting trapped and shut up couldn’t have been pleasant.

But the past week or so, things seem to be getting back to the normal they were before we trapped her. She’s showing up more regularly, and usually wanting lots of petting even if the food is out there. She gave me the belly roll one evening and got petted accordingly.

Of course she’s still a wild cat; even given plenty of space she won’t come very far into the house. But she made it through last winter living outside in our heated shelter, so hopefully she can do it again. We’re going to work with her, not against her.

Oh, and I bought a small catnip plant but so far Wisp has been uninterested. Contrary to every cat cartoon I’ve ever seen, apparently the appeal is not universal.

Next challenge: putting heartworm meds in her food (shouldn’t be hard) and rubbing flea meds on the back of her neck (that’s supposed to be all it takes). Wish us luck …

#SFWApro. Image is mine.

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It’s always a relief when the hurricane doesn’t come where I am

I don’t mean any disrespect to the people in the Bahamas and along the U.S. coast who got pummeled by Dorian. But having lived in Florida most of my life, I always have a selfish sense of Thank God! when an ominous hurricane (it could have been a problem for Durham had it tracked further west) misses us.

That aside, this has been a weird week. Last weekend, TYG cared for the dogs for most of Sunday so I decided I’d use the time to put in a full day of work without them. Much as I love them, it really is much easier to think without them squished up against me. That way, I figured, I could make up for my lost down time by taking Wednesday off and just snuggling with them.

Instead, I spent the morning reading (and yes, petting the dogs a lot), then decided to do some Leaf work for the afternoon. That way Thursday when the dogs were at Suite Paws, I could do more creative stuff in blissful solitutde. Half working on Undead Sexist Cliches — which I think I’m going to retitle Sexist Myths and Why They’re Bullshit or the like — and half on some short fiction.

Ooops. Instead I wound up working the whole day on Sexist Myths (I guess the title change is a done deal, even if I change it again later). I had lots of information from Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex I’ve been meaning to record in my notes for the book, so I did that Thursday morning. Then I had to incorporate some of the details into Chapters One and Two, which I’d already written (I finished Chapter Two earlier this week) and then footnote it and insert the footnotes into the list, then change all the numbers on the subsequent footnotes. So that sucked up the rest of the day, plus some of this morning.

I also got my usual quota of Leaf articles done, plus I rewrote Bleeding Blue. It’s looking much better since I added more women to the cast, but it’s a long way from finished. I made some changes to Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates, adding to my protagonist’s personal stakes. Didn’t get that finished though.

Oh, I also submitted Southern Discomfort to DAW Books, so I guess I’m officially done with agent-hunting. I got two short stories back but I haven’t found a new market yet.

Plus I sold some of my books on Amazon (I don’t know which, I find getting specifics frustratingly opaque)

I did find an artist for the cover of Questionable Minds; my friend and fellow author Samantha Collins is available and she’s good, so I’m hiring her.

A productive week. If I can keep up the pace on Sexist Myths I’ll be satisfied. I may switch from rewriting Chapter Three next week — it’s a bit of a mess — to Four, Five or Sex, which are in better shape.

For an illustration, here are some grumpy cat clones I saw at Suite Paws when we dropped the dogs off.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Sick dog, sick car, but I did well just the same

So Monday, Trixie displayed the same stomach discomfort she did a week previously. I spent the morning worrying about her, then TYG and I taking her in to the vet. Some anti-nausea meds made her right as rain (we have a supply for the next time it happens) but that shot my morning to hell.

Surprisingly, the week was productive despite that. And despite taking the car in for some minor work Wednesday. And both dogs apparently being hit with the needy stick and wanting extra affection. Which I gave them, because I’m a soft touch, but I can’t describe how much I enjoyed my one day of doggy day care Thursday — I honestly don’t think I usually feel that good when they’re gone. This may reflect that we haven’t taken any summer vacation, so I haven’t had the long break from them I’d usually get. And it definitely reflects that I don’t get up and stretch as much as I should. I have got to make myself do that (it compensates for the weird posture that having dogs in my lap forces me into).

Despite all of which I wound up putting in a full 35 hours this week. Part of that was spending Sunday in a writer’s work day at my friend Allegra Gullino‘s house, with her and her greyhounds and husband, and several members of our writer’s group. Part of it was working on Undead Sexist Cliches at the end of the day. Lately I’ve been treating that period as a no-work zone, and that’s been good for me, but I really needed the time this week.

So what got done?

In addition to my Leaf work, I completed my proposal for Space Invaders and submitted it to McFarland. Now I don’t have to think about it again until they respond.

I worked through Chapters One and Two of the Undead Sexist Cliches book, which I’m thinking of retitling Sexist Myths and Why They’re Bullshit or something like that. The original title worked fine for blog posts, but I’m not sure it’s the best choice for a book that’s gotten much more detailed and less snarky as I’ve worked on it.

While this isn’t a huge amount (Chapter One’s very small) it still feels like an accomplishment. While Chapter Two needs some tinkering still, I got the structure set (in terms of which topics, and how they’re organized), lots of added references to sexists saying sexist bullshit and I footnoted everything. As I anticipated, getting the footnotes in place before the text was finalized meant having to shift them around, but it felt much more satisfactory even so. And by making footnotes a separate file, I avoided having to slide back to the end of the chapter whenever I added a note (I took a look at Scrivener’s automatic footnoting, but I think this approach is easier).

Annoyingly, I got very little fiction done. I did work more on Bleeding Blue and I can see it improving, but I’d have liked to get further ahead. Unfortunately it’s easier to work on Undead Sexist Cliches because it takes less creativity than solving the plot problems in fiction. However, I’ll have to push myself — I don’t want to just set fiction aside and work on fact.

And that was pretty much it. For an illustration, here’s some of the ornamentation outside the Bean Trader, a local coffee/tea place I visit semi-regularly.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, rights to sculpture designs reside with current holders (my apologies I don’t know your names).

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Wisp behind bars at last!

Last Saturday, after repeated failures, we finally caught her!

We’d set out the cat carrier and started putting her food in it. She’d eventually begun eating it even though she had to go in all the way to the back. However, she was wary, and backed out if we approached.

The previous week, though, she’d been much more affectionate, or demanding I be more affectionate. Rolling on her belly on my feet, letting me scritch her, and entering the carrier even if I was really close. So Saturday we put it to the test: after she went all the way inside to get breakfast, I slipped on a heavy leather glove, just in case, and shut the door.

She was at the door almost at once, but it was too late. A very uncertain “mew” emerged, followed by more “mews” pretty much constantly for the next couple of hours. During which time we called the vet, brought Wisp indoors and set up a cage so the dogs couldn’t get too close.

We took her to our vet that afternoon. Wisp got her booster shots, and the vet checked out what TYG thought might be an abscess (just a scar as it turned out). We brought Wisp home expecting her to vanish from sight the way she did when we firs trapped her last year. Nope: she was really, really needy that evening, actually jumping in my path when I tried to go back inside.

Since then she’s been a little less needy, but still wanting quite a bit of attention. Which we’re happy to provide. We’ve also ordered flea and heartworm meds to keep her in good shape.

Wisp is still very wary about coming into the house and I don’t know what we’d do with her if she did move in. But for the moment we’re pleased with how things turned out.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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One of those “why isn’t everything finished yet?” weeks

Productive, yes. But I want to see stuff completed!

I finished the current draft of Undead Sexist Cliches, which was an accomplishment. But then I immediately jumped to adding stuff from some of the PDFs I have on my computer, mostly law journal articles about rape law. This will improve the book, but it’s slow going because there’s a lot of information (at some point I may discover I have too much material and have to prune back the text). So I don’t feel I’ve gone much further, even though wrapping up the last draft was.

I have finished writing the proposal for my next McFarland book (assuming they accept it), but I didn’t finish it. I have to open my old computer, convert it into word, check for spelling and polish it up before I send it off. I’ll get it done next week for sure, but it would have been nice to send it out this week.

I sent off one of my previously published short stories, Leave the World to Darkness to a new market that takes reprints. A Famine Where Abundance Lies came back last weekend, but I haven’t found a new market yet.

Fiction just kind of flatlined. I worked on my Tarot in Hollywood story (still untitled) but when I reached the point where I really needed to take it in a new direction, I just blanked. I have ideas where it can go but I couldn’t seem to translate them to the printed page.

And sitting with the dogs is becoming even more distracting than usual. Plushie seems to delight in squirming in my lap in ways that put me in increasingly awkward, uncomfortable positions, which does not sharpen my focus (I had to give up on one Leaf article today because I was feeling that out of balance) I can’t quite bring myself to deny the dogs snuggling opportunities (and it would be a lot of effort to keep them away), but I really need to think of some sort of solution. More, shorter breaks so I’m not sitting there quite so long, maybe?

I did put up a new post at Atomic Junkshop on loving characters vs. particular incarnations of characters. And last week, though I forgot to mention it, I contributed to a round table post about geek stuff we don’t get. Mine was mostly on the sheer amount of geek stuff out there now, and how my knowledge only encompasses a small slice of it, and it’s getting steadily smaller; I have no intention of paying for Disney streaming, so I’m going to miss all the various MCU shows they have planned.

So that was my week. I’ll wrap it up with one of my favorite Hawkman covers, by Murphy Anderson.

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

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Trixie then, Trixie now

So going through some old dog paperwork I found our early release forms for Trixie and Plushie, including a photo Animal Protection Society of Durham took of her.

I honestly didn’t remember her looking so sad and miserable and skinny — only five pounds at the time (she was eight months old). Which is not a reflection on the shelter — she was a stray and she’d only been there a few days when we filed to adopt.

Even after we got her home, she was very scruffy.

Now though?

Happy and safe and loved. Nine and half pounds, occasionally more if we don’t watch portions and treats. I’m so glad she has a happy home with us, and it’s a happier home because of her and Plushie.

My little love.

#SFWApro. Top photo by Animal Protection Society of Durham, rest are mine.

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