Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Wisp wants to flirt

So as I mentioned a week ago, after TYG and I returned from our Mensa trip to South Carolina, Wisp went back to skulking. Instead of showing up and mewing when she figured dinner was due, she showed up afterwards and ate stealthily as possible. This week, she seemed to get over it, showing up semi-regularly to mew for her supper.

Last night, she also showed up when TYG was walking the dogs at night and sidled up very close. She’s done this before, even rolling on the ground in a “play with me” manner, but never quite so persistently. She clearly wants to be friends.

Trouble is, we’re not sure how well that would go. Neither she nor the dogs seems hostile, but if Trixie gets a sudden itch to show who’s boss — well, Wisp does have those big sharp claws on her feet. So TYG called me out of the house to drive Wisp off. She scurried away as soon as she saw me (I thought we were getting along better. Maybe not) but lurked as close as possible.

I’m tempted to let them get close, but the risk of injury is definitely there, as far as I can tell. And TYG’s even more cautious than me, and I’m not about to go against her on this (“Hi honey! I let Plush Dog snuggle with Wisp and now we have a $700 vet bill and stitches in his side!” would not go over well.

A minor problem comparatively is that the dogs get too distracted to do their business. Particularly Trixie, who could not get her mind off Wisp long enough to poop. This may be why she wound up pooping in the bedroom last night.

I’m absolutely not going to do anything that hurts Wisp or drives her away from her house (TYG doesn’t want that either) but I’m not sure how to handle it.

#SFWApro. Image is mine.

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My answer was ‘recalled to life’

The use of the Dickens quote in the title is my way to say after close to two months of lackluster performance, I had a good week of writing.

The biggest accomplishment was that I finished a draft of the Undead Sexist Cliches book. This was a minor landmark because it’s the first coherent draft. I kept shifting back and forth in earlier drafts on how to break things down, which fact or anecdote went in which chapter and frequently repeating myself. Now I think I’ve honed it so that it has a logical structure. There’s the introduction (about why I’m writing it, and about sexism in general). A chapter on “everyone knows men and women are different” which is the bedrock on which most of these cliches rest. A couple of chapters on why feminism is supposedly evil. One on why all the heroes have to be men. One on rape cliches (probably the largest), one on sexual harassment and one on sex and relationships in general. I may expand them with more examples of sexism, but I think the set-up is solid.

Next up: beta reading! I sent it out to a couple of friends, one in the writing group, one generally interested in this sort of thing. Both women, because the one thing I can’t provide is a woman’s point of view. I might ask a couple of others (I’ve asked one more beta, but haven’t heard back). And then, after I get their feedback, the revisions begin.

It feels really good to have made significant progress on something.

I also mailed out three short stories (one already came back), found a possible market for one of my older novels (hopefully it’ll go out next week), submitted a query for a column (no interest), and put up a couple of items on eBay. They’re movie posters from some of my movie books, so I count that as writing time — and I’d be quite happy to get rid of them productively (i.e., putting them in the trash is just a waste).

I also got back to my regular exercise routine, which had tanked with everything else during March. It looks like I’ll make about 50 percent of my March goals at best (I may accomplish a couple this weekend). However I rearranged my schedule some, and I think that helped. I’ll blog more about that next week.

Wisp, alas, was not happy with us leaving her for last weekend’s Mensa trip. Whether it was not getting her food on the schedule she’s used to or having our neighbor come over to put the food out (Wisp’s still pretty cautious — I could easily see her having a Stranger Danger reaction), she’s gone back to staying invisible and quiet (the photo’s an old one). Usually we don’t even know she’s there until after the food is eaten. Hopefully having us put out food regularly will restore her confidence in us; she did show up one evening and stare at the dogs through the window so she’s not completely alienated.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, please acknowledge if you use.

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

i bounce back, at least a little

Not a stellar week, but more productive than last week. I still didn’t have the presence of mind to focus on fiction so I returned to my Undead Sexist Cliches book. I got about 11,000 added words done. That felt good. And I got my Leaf articles done for the week.

And that was about it. Added dog care used up some of the time. So did a trip for a car check-up (unnecessary as it turned out; things were fine). And Tuesday, both pups freaked out because the gutter cleaners came and that meant STRANGER DANGER! HE”S MAKING NOISES! HE HAS A LADDER! DADDY, DO SOMETHING! That kind of thing makes it really hard to work.

I did, however, finish my first post at Atomic Junkshop in a while, dealing with what comic books on DC’s Earth-One were like.

Plus I seem to have maxed out my body’s insomnia tolerance. I still wake up early, but my naps have been getting a lot longer.

However, we’ll be doing some fun stuff this weekend, and I’m confident next week will see some real improvement.

Below, a symbolic photo of a flour arising amidst winter’s detritus Deep, aren’t I?

#SFWapro. Photo is mine, please credit me if you use it. Comic book panel by Carmine Infantino with Joe Kubert inks, all rights remain to current holder.

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Getting nibbled to death by ducks beats defeat by doggie diarrhea

So after my disappointing performance last month, I was cheered to be doing better this week. I got close to 10,000 words done on rewriting Impossible Takes a Little Longer Monday and Tuesday morning. And by going through my morning routines immediately when I wake up early, that ensured I’d get my meditation, stretching, exercise and such taken care of even if TYG and the dogs came down earlier than usual (like most small dogs Plush and Trixie translate any sort of exercise as body language for “Please, jump on me and snuggle!”).

Even after going to the eye doctor Tuesday I didn’t get thrown off my stride — I segued into my Leaf articles for the day after I got back.

But around 3:15, Trixie began doing her I Really Need To Go dance, which is not usual; they stick pretty dependably to the schedule. Her poop was very runny, and then an hour later we had to go through this routine again (this did not make for a productive end of the day). Then there was nothing until after I left for writing group, so I hoped it was just a momentary problem. Outside of needing to go, she was her normal, energetic self.

Uh-uh. Got to bed after group at 11pm. Woke up 12:15 to Trixie’s claws clicking as she paced in front of the bedroom door. I took her out — oh, this was during the recent cold snap so it was below freezing. Which was unpleasant in itself, but it also made the process that much longer because of the bundling up time. But she pooped fast, then we came in and fell asleep in the spare bedroom, to avoid waking TYG by going back to our usual sleeping quarters.

3:15, up again. Apparently I pulled Trixie in too soon because 3:45, out again. After which I couldn’t get back to sleep. We made a vet appointment later in the day, and it didn’t appear anything was seriously wrong. Vet’s orders were a few days of bland food, some probiotics and they seem to have done the trick.

However getting around 4.5 hours sleep and that chopped into bits, on top of my usual sleep deprivation, left me glassy eyed and useless the rest of Wednesday. Wednesday early morning was another wake-up call from Trixie — no poop, happily, just peeing and wanting to get extra outdoor time. So Thursday not much better. Plus a couple of contractors coming in. Plus we kept Trixie at home instead of in doggie day care. Though it was interesting to see how snuggly she got without Plushie around. She’s more or less conceded him the rights to my lap, but with him gone she made it quite clear I should allow her to sit in her royal throne, so to speak.

Today was another early morning, just from general insomnia. And then Trixie came down early so she could go out and take a solid poop (woot!), which threw my schedule off, and what with that and a couple of other things. I managed to get a couple of Leaf articles done and that was about it.

Fingers crossed next week will be back at least to average performance. Normally I’d expect so, but I’m feeling a little jinxed right now.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, attribute to me if you use.

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February staggers to its finish

So my goals accomplished for February as 51 percent. Not surprising given all the distractions and my trip to Mysticon. This week, for example, my late return Sunday meant I got up even later Monday than expected. Because of TYG’s crazy schedule I had extra dog care demands the rest of the week, and I felt weirdly wiped out after Mysticon (I wondered if I came back with con crud but it feels way too mild). Thursday I just threw in the towel and worked on various non-writing projects (dealing with insurance, cleaning, disposing of some old medicines).

While 51 percent isn’t catastrophic, it’s dismaying how little writing I got done. Lots of Leaf which is important, because it pays the bills. But next to nothing on any books or short stories. And yesterday I got one rejection (for No One Can Slay Her) and another story came back today when the magazine folded.

So for March, I’m tinkering with my schedule again. First off, while reducing the frequency I check email has helped, I think I need to start budgeting time for email. It still takes quite a bit of time to get through it all so I should get over my illusion that it’s like five minutes every time I check. Accepting it’s .5 to 1 hour a day will give me a more realistic perspective on how much time I have for everything else (I intend to squeeze some of my other mundane activities like writing pitches and hunting for markets into the same time period, which should be doable).

I’m also going to try cutting back to just one email session, at the end of the day, unless I see something important when I check my phone. After about 3:30, my brain really gets worn out a lot of days. Part of that is having spent much of the day with Plushie in my lap, though I’m not sure if it’s the loss of personal space or the odd positions I wind up sitting in.

Second, I’m accepting that for a while I’ll be spending more time on dog care during the week. I think I can compensate by cutting back my break times mid-morning and mid-afternoon (evenings, for various reasons, don’t work so well). We will see.

Hopefully that will get results. Today went pretty well: I got some more work done on our taxes and Only the Lonely improved a lot from the previous draft. In my first couple of drafts, I kept my protagonist, Heather, almost completely in the dark about what she was involved with. I changed that, but now I’m changing it back. I’m also applying a lot more pressure to Heather from other sources, financial and legal. If I keep ratcheting that up, I think it’ll fly. Eventually.

On the Wisp front, I opened the deck door wide one afternoon when Trixie and Plushie were in doggy day care and then went into the kitchen to get her food. Not only did she not come in and explore, she found this disconcerting enough she retreated to the deck stairs. So not a house cat any time soon, I suspect, no matter how curious she seems about us.

To wrap up, here’s a cover by Greco (whoever that is — obviously not “El”).

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder. Photo is mine.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Wisp at the window

So the past month or so, Wisp looks almost like she wants to come in when we put down her food. I suspect if I just opened the door and gave her space (she’s still leery of humans) she’d happily come in and explore. Which we don’t let her, because the dogs are here and we’re not sure how they’d take it. Or how she’d take to them.

This week, she took to staring in like the world’s cutest, loneliest cat.

And bapping at the window when she saw me inside.

If it wasn’t for the dogs, she’d be welcome. But they don’t seem particularly friendly, and testing whether they could be might end up with one of them getting a bite or a scratch. So we’re trying to stay firm and not let her in, though we sure feel guilty about it.

#SFWApro. Images are mine, please credit if you use them.

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I was more tired than I thought this weekend

Trixie had the runs Friday night. Didn’t last more than 12 hours but it had me up at 10:30 pm, 12:30, and then 1:30. So I was zonked when I wrote out Monday’s politics post and it went up yesterday.

So for today, have some Plushie photos. Because I didn’t get much in the way of sleep Saturday either and I don’t feel up to composing anything coherent.

#SFWApro. All rights to images are mine, credit if you use.

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Today I got that nibbled to death by ducks feeling

But first, a look at Plush Dog nuzzling with Tito, new sibling to Lily, the dog up the street we sometimes dog-sit for.

The feeling of having one’s day eaten up by multiple little distractions is in some ways worse than having one big project. With one major distraction, like a repair, I can block time and when it’s over, it’s over. Today, though, I had multiple distractions: washing-machine repair guy (third one we’ve dealt with, first one I feel good about), arranging an electrician appointment for next week, upgrading our security system, doing some research on the cost of a replacement washing machine (probably won’t be necessary), providing extra dog care … plus Plushie completely freaking out over the repair dude being In The House (we fenced off the area so the pups couldn’t get in his way).  And talking on the phone is not the best thing for my strained voice. However it’s definitely growing stronger every day so I must be nursing it sufficiently.

Despite that, it was a productive week. Though novel writing is still going slower than I want, and Leaf articles are taking way too long (not their fault, it’s me). So what did I get done?

I rewrote the first chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer in first person. It’s closer to urban fantasy as a genre than anything else, and first person is the default setting there. Plus I found I could work in a little more needed information with first-person narration.

I finished the first chapter of Let No Man Put Asunder and read it for writer’s group. The feedback was, as always helpful. As my voice frayed a little by the end of the reading, I skipped out on the usual hanging out after. A shame.

I sent a Southern Discomfort query off to five agents, queried two magazines about articles and one newspaper about an op-ed column.

I submitted A Famine Where Abundance Lies, and I may have found a publisher to submit Questionable Minds too.

I rewrote the story Neverwas, which is now titled The Impossible Years. It’s definitely closer to being readable, but I still lack the ending I need. I rewrote Only the Lonely Can Slay, and it’s coming along well. Here I have the ending and the general structure but I need more obstacles for my protagonist, Heather, to overcome. I was working on another draft today, when all the ducks began nibbling.

And I did my usual array of Leaf articles to help put bread on the table. I gave up on doing any of those today too, but I got them in, and some requested rewrites, every other day this week.

It’s helpful to write all that down and see that despite my feeling right now, I had a good, productive week.

Below, Plushie lets the greyhounds at Piney Woods Park know that he’s the boss of this cell block.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine, please credit if you use.

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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

My plan was perfect! How could I have failed?

Ever since Wisp settled onto our porch, Trixie has been increasingly fascinated. Some evenings when Wisp is out there, Trixie will sit by the door sniffing for her.  When the blinds are open, Trixie watches, as you can see.

The past week or so, though, she and Plushie have gotten more frantic. Trixie claws at the door and sticks her nose under the blinds to get a better look. Plushie barks loudly from the couch. Almost as if they imagine Wisp is—

Tuesday morning it just reached fever point. It was freezing cold so they didn’t get much of a morning walk. They then channeled all that energy into barking their heads off. It was … distracting. And that was on top of being very sleep-deprived (even by my standards). Plus the bug TYG brought back from her travels was now in me, leading to hacking and sore throat and worries my voice was fading.

The long and short of it is that while I had a good Monday, Tuesday fell apart. I got some Leaf writing done, that was it. Otherwise it was sleep, or hacking, or dogs, or doing some budget-crunching that needed doing (not during work, but I did it anyway). As I thought we might have some emergency expenses, the paying stuff was a high priority.

Wednesday I was worried my throat might be worse than it appeared, so I hit the urgent care in the morning. I was fine, but by the time I got back I was again, too distracted to focus. More Leaf!

Thursday I took the car in to get a recurring issue looked at. I took my computer but I didn’t get much done before starting on the paperwork for a loaner. Because like Scotland Yard in an old mystery, they are baffled (the VW dealer’s service people are really good so I take that as a sign the problem is challenging, not that they’ve screwed up). I came home in a loaner and mostly collapsed into extra naps.

Today I just threw in the towel and did more Leaf. As it turns out, we may not need the extra money, but still, it’s nice to have.

Not getting anything else done? Not so nice. I know sometimes it can’t be helped, but this was an exceptionally poor week.  I even skipped writers’ group because I was so tired and I hate skipping group.

Oh well, next week will almost certainly be better.

I did send Southern Discomfort out to three more agents. No One Can Slay Her came back with some positive comments (it’s always nice to be told “remember us for your next story” but not as nice as being accepted) and went out again. I started several other projects, but got nowhere.

But the weekend’s here. I can collapse, watch movies, finish the budgeting, etc., etc. And start over next week with renewed vigor and make up for what lost time I can.

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

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

The Wisp’s Progress

Wisp has been coming around at dinner time for a while. But she’s getting closer and closer to the door as she sits and waits for us to provide.

She’s also comfortable eating with me within petting range and the door open (the same when TYG feeds her). However any movement makes her back off warily, though not as far as she used to. Still, she’s definitely cautious enough that neither of us would risk petting her. Reaching for her seems like to either scare her or prompt a defensive clawing. We’d rather not go there.

Still, who knows? Maybe she’ll just rub up against us some day. If not, we’re still happy to take care of her. And it’s cool she’s come so far from the days when she wouldn’t come closer than the deck stairs if the door was open.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine, please attribute if you use.

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