Category Archives: Nonfiction

I may be running slightly out of steam …

Which may be due to lack of sleep — okay, it’s definitely partly lack of sleep — or that to get Alien Visitors done, I’m not taking any complete days off.

Either way, I realized this morning that I needed to take a break from the book. I did a Leaf, worked on Undead Sexist Cliches and finished the Golem article. That  required rereading Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem as my editor wanted to include it (fair enough — it was a critically acclaimed novel that sold a lot). I can’t say I liked it more than my first reading, but I can appreciate why it’s strangeness found an audience.

I still have to give the article a final proofread, but I think I’m done.

Earlier in the week, though, things went great. I have a solid draft of every chapter in Alien Visitors except the comedy and Men in Black chapters. The other chapters still need rewriting, but I think they’re at the point where it’ll go smoother, and hopefully faster, than these first drafts have.

I also got lots of movies and TV watched, including more X-Files, a British show called Undermind (doesn’t quite qualify) and a couple of episodes of Ben 10.

Wisp has resumed coming in overnight so apparently she’s over the trauma of being bunged in a cage last week. Snowdrop has been showing up regularly, though she doesn’t come in yet. She and Wisp seem on good enough terms Wisp doesn’t steal her food; then again, she’s quite happy to snarf Wisp’s if she can get away with it.

We had a minor alarm with Trixie midweek, when she moped around as she does with a bad stomach upset, except she was happy to eat. We made an appointment for her but the next day she was fine. We canceled, though we both worried that once it was too late, the symptoms would recur. They didn’t. That’s a relief — I love my little terrier/chihuahua.

Come on, who couldn’t love that face?

#SFWapro. Cover by Ernie Chan, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Disruptions come on little cat feet

So last weekend, TYG noticed that Wisp’s back left foot looked as if it had some sort of bite or cut. We sprayed it a couple of times without noticeable effect, other than stressing Wisp out — she really didn’t like it and tried to avoid it. But I got photos, which we showed to the vet, and they said to bring her in. So the next morning we tried various tricks, unsuccessfully, to lure Wisp into a cage. Finally TYG just picked her up and bunged her in.

We covered it with a blanket to calm her down but it didn’t help. Piteous meowing followed. When that didn’t get her out, Wisp began clawing at the sheet under the cage, pulling it in. I’m not sure what good she thought that would do.

The vet told us the foot had been bitten or scratched, and become infected. They gave her a big shot of antibiotics and we brought her home. Since then, she hasn’t slept inside the house once. I’m not sure how much it’s Snowdrop’s influence and how much she’s lost trust that we’re a safe space. I hope she’ll be back in soon.

That made Tuesday pretty chaotic, but overall the week went well.  I got work done on several chapters of Alien Visitors and finished proofing the harassment chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. Did my Leaf articles. Accomplished some film viewing and research reading for Alien Visitors too.

I also asked my editor for an extension so that I can catch Eternals and add it to the Gods From Outer Space chapter. They’re good with it. I shall use the added time to add some depth to the chapters. I admit I’m a little disappointed not to have everything wrapped up at the end of this month, it’s also a relief not to have to wrap everything up.

Oh, and for the second time since I started paying state sales tax on copies of my books sold, the state processing fee was less than the money I made off the books. Achievement unlocked!

#SFWApro.

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Slow-going work, plus cats

Cats first. Snowdrop seems to be settling in and showing up for food. Wisp seems to be tolerating him, and not trying to steal his food. It’s high protein, which is supposed to decrease the hunting urge. Wisp and I seem to have lost the rhythm we’d developed now that Snowdrop’s out there. Sometimes rather than come in, she goes off and looks for him or guards against him, I’m not sure which. Last night neither of them showed, which worried me a little. Wisp was back this morning though; hopefully Snowdrop will be here tonight.

Wisp has also started coming in at random times during the day, which she hasn’t done in months. Here she is sitting in the spare bedroom — it’s her sleepytime place — while I stepped out for a minute.As to work, let’s see. I met with  the cover designer for Undead Sexist Cliches, who came well recommended. He says he’ll try to get something done and back to me by next week. I also proofed more of it.

I got 16 Leaf articles done.

I did a lot of work on Alien Visitors, which is good, and the chapter drafts (intro, Invasions, Bodysnatchers) are good, but it’s going too damn slow. There’s only so much focus before my mind sludges unless I remember to take breaks. And taking breaks costs time. It’s doable … I think. But will it be done? I don’t know, even given how much extra time I’m putting in. It doesn’t help that TYG’s schedule hasn’t let her take the dogs quite as much as she’d hoped, but I don’t think that’s the primary problem.

Oh, and I got Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, which I sent out to another market, back with a no. I’ll be sending it out again in November, when things calm down.

#SFWApro.

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The gentleman’s name is … Snowdrop

So last weekend we set out the trap for the white cat. I put the food in, walked away and he was caught barely thirty seconds after. He was not happy about it; like Wisp the first time we trapped her, he kept ramming at the wire with his face. Didn’t go well (the photo below is from earlier).

Happily when we put him in the bathroom he quieted down. I took him to the animal rescue the next morning, picked him up in the afternoon and got confirmation the cat’s a he. Up until then we’d figured female — but we’re sticking with the name I picked, Snowdrop (one of the kitten’s in Lewis Carroll’s Alice books). It was a little unsettling because removing his balls left far more bloodstains than tying Wisp’s tubes.

Next morning we let him out and didn’t see him again for a couple of days. But he came back Wednesday night, though he’s way more wary around us. Still, if he’s returned, he’ll probably forgive us. And TYG is relieved — she was convinced he’d wound up in the belly of a coyote or on the wheels of an SUV. But no. Where we go from here … well, I’ll let you know.

After that, the week got back to normal. No Leaf articles so it was all either Undead Sexist Cliches or Alien Visitors. On the first, I’m now proofed through the end of Chapter Six and I’ve started drafting the back cover/blurbs (next week I should start studying blurbs for similar books and see how I compare). On the movie book I got a lot done: good drafts of several chapters and several films watched or rewatched.

Unfortunately I fell short of my goals for the week. Sure, they were optimistic, and yes, I have some wriggle room in my schedule but still, I’d been happier to pull it off. I’m not sleeping well, which happened when I was on tight deadline near the finish of Screen Enemies of the American Way. I’ll be zonked by the end of October.

No going back now, though, so wish me luck.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

 

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White dogs on dope!

So Sunday I was applying the hot water bottle to Plushie’s hips (they get very stiff otherwise) and he began wriggling out of my arms as if uncomfortable. I resisted, he tried climbing up over my arms and then he gave the pain whimper. Once we confirmed that yes, he was in pain, we took him to the emergency vet. This time he managed something new, pulling one of the long muscles in his side. So back on cage rest just a couple of months after last time. I’d be worried it would be non-stop but this is a separate problem from last time.

The painkillers and muscle relaxants he’s on make Plushie dopey, so he spends most of the day dozing in there. Still he gets miserable and demanding enough to distract me from work. And as TYG sleeps downstairs to be near him, just in case he has a pain attack or something, our schedule is a mess. Usually I start writing when I wake up, come down when TYG wakes, write some more (mixed in with dog care) and do my stretching, yoga and exercise later.

Happily, Plushie is improving fast so it couldn’t have been too bad an injury. This makes him needier and more demanding for Freedom!! but we’re happy about it just the same.

Wisp has been a surprisingly good trooper for all this. I have to sleep in the main bedroom with Trixie (Trixie would freak out if we left her alone) so Wisp spends her nights alone in the spare bedroom. Didn’t faze her as much as I thought. Last night she didn’t come in but that’s more because White Cat was hanging around. They seem to get along — no catfights so far — but last night Wisp seemed to be hissing and asserting her dominance a lot.

Despite all that, it was a productive week. I redid the introduction, which I’ll be reading to the writers’ group next week, plus the Invasion chapter and got several other chapters rough drafted. I watched some X-Files and did some research reading.

I finally read my editor’s critique of the golem article. There’s a couple of books she wants me to add to the piece, and a little more commentary in spots (how well did the different stories work?). It’ll be easier to deliver by deadline (end of next month) than I feared.

I also got a couple of chapters final-rpoofed on Undead Sexist Cliches; happily it’s still requiring only light copy-editing. I hope that keeps up. I have an appointment for early October to talk to a cover designer a friend recommended. I’ve also begun work on the book blurb.

There were, surprisingly, no new Leafs this week. I’m guessing it’s the end of the fiscal year and things’ll be back to normal next month. While this is a hit to my bottom line, the timing is great for extra work on Alien Visitors. I’ll be putting in more of that tomorrow, while TYG’s free to sit downstairs with Plush and Trixie.

One more month and I’ll have both books and the golem story done, barring disasters. I like that thought. Oh, and one of my Philosophy and Fairytales collections sold on Smashwords. I like that too! Thanks, whoever you were!

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Despite a moment of panic, this week went well

So after my crown went in Wednesday, I celebrated by having a meal of crunchy granola … and felt a grinding sensation, not from my crown but the cap on the other side. And when I checked with my tongue, I found it was missing. So I called the dentist … and it turned out I was imagining it. No gap that wasn’t there before. Everything’s fine. It still feels funny, but I’m confident my dentist is more objective than I am.

Leaf articles didn’t start back up until the end of the week so I put in a lot of time on Alien Visitors. I have three chapters and the introduction in good, though rough shape; barring disaster, it is actually doable by deadline. I do have to start ordering posters and photos as illustrations though — I’ve left that too long. My original plan was to buy them a couple each month; it won’t be easy to absorb now, but it’ll be manageable. I watched fewer movies than planned, but I’m still on track there, too.

I also started on the final proof of Undead Sexist Cliches and began to think about marketing, promotion, book blurbs (trigger warnings will be a must — some of this stuff I’m critiquing is creepy as shit).

Less than a couple of months and both books will be done. Then it’s back to fiction at last.

And now, time to put up the computer and relax. Have fun, y’all.

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

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A man, a plan, a canal — only no canal and not really a plan

(For those who don’t know, the title comes from the palindrome “A man, a plan, a canal — Panama.”).

So last month I just threw up my hands and stopped my usual efforts to make a monthly to-do list. Due to Wisp coming in every morning, the stuff I do early (meditate, voice exercises) hasn’t been getting done. And my writing to-dos are pretty basic: 1)Finish Alien Visitors by the end of October; 2)finish my article on golems by the same date; 3)finish Undead Sexist Cliches, ditto. So why worry beyond mapping out my work for the week?

Now that we’ve moved out of August and into September, I’m finding that a little uncomfortable. I like the structure my monthly to-do list gives me, even if I don’t handle more than half of the list. So I’ll probably bite the bullet and resume for October. I’m already trying to reinstitute some of my morning activities into my day somewhere. It’s just difficult, as I get caught up in writing or I suddenly have to take care of the dogs. I love them, but they are not helpful to achieving a meditative state.

This week I had no Leaf articles so it was almost all Alien Visitors, and it went well. I rewrote the introduction into a reasonably polished state, then rewrote the Invasion chapter as well. Having something finished enough I can say “Yeah, I’ll get this book done” is very satisfying. And that despite some extra dog care, including an unplanned vet trip — nothing serious, just Trixie needed a checkup for a sore foot. She’s now in the cone of shame to stop her chewing on it.

Oh, and I updated one of my old posts — about the Bronze Age Freedom Fighters series — and posted it at Atomic Junkshop.

I also made a start on adding a few final notes to Undead Sexist Cliches — items I bookmarked that were worthy of adding, some information from Jesus and John Wayne. I’d meant to start revising my golem piece as well, but the vet visit took up too much time. I’d thought I could get some research reading done but Trixie, who’s usually into wandering around sniffing everything, insisted on sitting on my lap and getting stroked. So she got her wish, of course.

Wisp has still been coming on at night on a regular basis. This morning she came in mid-morning, which hasn’t happened in a while. I suspect she’ll be spending more time indoors as the weather drops. Hopefully she’ll go back to snoozing while she’s in — it’s much easier to get work done that way. There’s a white cat that’s been sniffing around our house lately, but Wisp doesn’t seem compelled to establish her turf and drive the stranger off. If the new cat comes regularly enough, we’ll schedule a spay/neuter at the local clinic, then trap it. We don’t see it consistently enough yet.

Fall has definitely started. Temperatures were relatively mild earlier this week (I emphasize “relatively”) and this morning it was almost chilly enough to require more than shorts and a T-shirt. It’s quite welcome.

For this weekend, I anticipate cooking, reading and as usual watching Alien Visitor films. If the weather stays nice, maybe bicycling as well.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

#SFWApro. Cover art is uncredited, all rights remain with current holder.

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Among this week’s accomplishments: removing multi-legged things from the house

One reason TYG is glad to have me around is that when things with too many legs show up, she can have me remove them. Like these two:So that’s two accomplishments unlocked this week.

Writing wise it was a very good week. I wrapped up my Leaf articles for the month Sunday and Monday, then spent the rest of the week working on Alien Visitors. Well, mostly: I finished my proofing of Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches which means I’m just about done. It hasn’t sunk in yet, though.

I got a lot of writing done for Alien Visitors which has me feeling much better about the book’s progress. Still much to do — almost too much — but for the first time in a while it looks manageable. With the end of October in sight, it’s only a couple more months to work on it — rushed months, but then it’ll be done.

Wisp slept in at night the entire week, which meant she was with me every morning. Nevertheless I managed to regain part of my schedule and get all my exercising done this week, plus long walks with Trixie. Exercise is probably what I need most, so this is good.  And other than one night, she was happy to sleep until I got up, instead of waking me up for petting.

May September go this well!

#SFWApro.

 

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So as you may have gathered, this was a busy week

Hence my posting three days of images. A decade ago, I’d just have skipped most of the week, but now that I’ve been blogging daily for several years, I don’t want to break the streak.

Some of the busy was non-writing related. Monday, in addition to the dogs’ rehab appointments, TYG and I had to hit the bank to get some papers notarized; being indoors, it requires an appointment. Tuesday, I had tea with a friend of mine at nearby Bean Traders. I wrote fifteen hours worth of Leaf articles and got quite a bit of writing done on Alien Visitors. As usual, not enough. And annoyingly I discovered a couple of chapters I could have sworn I’d written exist only in my head. Oh, and I had to take Trixie in yesterday for an allergy shot — neither dog can seem to go three months without deciding to chew their itchy paws to shreds, so the shots are now standard.

I haven’t heard back from my dentist about my permanent crown so I’m still chewing everything carefully and avoiding anything too hard.

Despite Wisp coming in each morning, I managed to make my exercise goals for the week. Partly that’s by doing extra on the weekends, but whatever works.

So another low drama week. This is a good thing.

For visuals, here’s a photo of Plush Dog from a few months back —— and here’s how he looks after his recent grooming.Hard to believe it’s the same dog, isn’t it?

#SFWApro.

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Trumped by my teeth!

So along with Monday’s MRI, I also had to go to my endodontist for a root canal on Tuesday. It was quicker than I thought, but it left me feeling definitely off my game. I wound up spending Tuesday afternoon watching videos for Alien Visitors when it’s the writing I really need to be working on.

Worse, I couldn’t get my head back in the game the following day. Partly that’s because Wisp slept in and between her getting up with me and Trixie coming down early, I couldn’t really focus in the morning (I used to have a couple of hours of quiet time to get my shit together). So I spent most of that day watching videos too. Thursday I went into my regular dentist to replace the temporary filling with a permanent filling and temporary crown. That took somewhat longer than I thought. And at that point my mind decided, as it sometimes does, “You’re never going to get everything done. Give up!” and my brain’s been limping along ever since. Much extra dog care due to TYG’s hectic schedule this week didn’t help; when they’re needy it’s very difficult to focus.

So I accomplished stuff, but I really thought I’d be doing more. Oh, well …

A minor annoyance is that I’m utterly terrified of knocking out my crown. Intellectually I realize it’s not a fragile soap bubble that pops at a touch but I can’t shake the fear that if I eat something a little too chewy or hard — CRACK! Having to think about which side I chew with is Not Fun.

#SFWApro.

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