Category Archives: Time management and goals

I slept well this week. I imagine DST this weekend will fix that

Switching back and fro from Daylight Savings Time to Standard has disrupted my sleep schedule (and millions of other people’s) for years. As I’ve aged, it gets worse. There’s a bipartisan push in Congress to end the switch; I hope it works.

But for some reason I did sleep remarkably well this week, even with Wisp occasionally in the bed with me and demanding petting. Getting a full night’s sleep sometimes works against me — being able to work uninterrupted in the early morning has some advantages — but this week it didn’t. Partly that’s because my various projects require research reading and research viewing (for Alien Visitors) which makes it easier to squeeze in a little extra work. The doggy care wasn’t particularly demanding, though I am getting quite wiped after lunch walkies. Thinking back, it’s the first time since Trixie’s injury last year that I’ve been giving her a full morning walk while it’s still cool enough for a full lunch walk. Apparently that and the heat is taking its toll. I’m going to try hydrating heavily before lunch walks next week and see if that helps. I sure hope so — there’s no way I can rejigger my schedule to avoid working in the afternoon. Though in a couple of months it’ll probably be too hot for big walks anyway.

So what did I get done while I was so wonderfully rested?

I did my Leaf articles, of course, though there were fewer to claim than I expected. I made it up by doing a couple more pieces for the Veterans Network website (my first article, on K9 Veterans Day, is already up). This looks like it will be a steady source of additional work, which is always welcome. I also spent an hour chatting with my friend Lisa Wildman, who works there, about the gig and what they’re looking for.

I did a lot of reading on golems and wrote a rough first draft of the paper. I still have more reading to do, but having it down on paper gives me a much sharper idea where I’m going, which is reassuring. I also took time out of Wednesday to go pick up some research reading from the Durham Library. Normally I’d have waited for the weekend but I had a couple of other errands that needed doing, so …

I started the final draft of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches. It needs more work than I hoped, but it will get the work until it’s good to go.

I skipped working on Questionable Minds as I mull over a couple of edits I’m not sure about. I got a little bit of work done on the Alien Abductions chapter of Alien Visitors. I’m starting to get a feel for that subgenre faster than I thought.

Oh, and I published a blog post about DC’s Kobra over at Atomic Junk Shop.

Overall a satisfactory week. Fingers crossed DST doesn’t disrupt the flow too much next week.

#SFWApro. Kobra art by Jack Kirby, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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

The frustrating state of making progress but not finishing

I did make progress this week on most of my current projects, but I didn’t get to finish anything. That’s getting frustrating. I know, it’s the nature of the writing life — we put in a lot of work before we have anything usable. But I soooo want to close the book on something.

The one thing I didn’t get anything done on was Alien Visitors. And while I’d hoped to write some on the golem article, I didn’t get anything done with that either, other than some more research reading (which counts, especially for nonfiction, but still). I final-proofed Undead Sexist Cliches through Chapter Three and began the final proofing of Questionable Minds. I read about book marketing and marketing plans, which I’ll talk about next week. I got several Leafs done, and thanks to a friend of mine hiring me, began putting out some blog material for a veterans’ organization out in Colorado (for pay). And I blogged at Atomic Junk Shop about DC’s political super-duo, Hawk and Dove.

So paying gigs, productive work on other projects, but everything in mid-process. Good but frustrating. Especially as I’d like to get back to writing some new fiction.

Oh, almost forgot, I spent some time practicing my presentation for the virtual Zoom fair with various McFarland authors tomorrow. I’m scheduled for 2pm to speak on political paranoia in film and TV, as covered in Screen Enemies of the American Way.You can use code VVAF at McFarland Books to get 20 percent off any of the books covered in the various presentations.

Wisp has been staying outside a lot more this week, as the weather warmed up. I was thinking we were converting her to a mostly indoor cat, but I may have been optimistic. However, we’ll keep working on it — it would be safer for her and less threat to the local birds.

Walking the dogs this week I met Sparrow, an older cat who lives down the street. Much the same stripe and color pattern as Wisp, but to me they look very different now that I know Wisp so well.

See you at the virtual fair, I hope!

#SFWApro. Cover by Ditko, all rights to image remain with current holder.

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Reading, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

That is DEFINITELY more like it!

So as usual for the end of the month, Leaf articles dried up (it has something to do with their billing cycle with clients) and I had the whole week to work on my own projects. I don’t always make good use of the time, but this week? Totally.

I made final edits on Chapters One and Two of Undead Sexist Cliches. Chapter Two was slower than I thought, but I think I’ll make up the time on the two rape-cliche chapters — they’re the most tightly organized.

I wrote another chapter of Alien Visitors and watched some more films.

I did some more research reading.

I worked a little on drafting my golem article.

Despite having Wisp in most mornings, I managed to keep up my exercise schedule. And believe me it’s hard when a cat curls up next to you on the couch and wants petting.

And I submitted Southern Discomfort to a new publisher. I feel pessimistic, but it’s not doing any good just sitting here, is it? The pessimism isn’t that I think the first three chapters are poor — I reread them and other than a couple of spelling errors, they look good. But it’s kind of an odd book, with multiple POVs and I wonder if the publisher (or any publisher) will just look and say it’s not strong enough or we need more time with Maria’s POV or something. But hey, self-publishing is always an option if nothing else works. And I’m not giving up on trad publishing yet.

Huh, that’s actually a shorter summation of the week than when I’m writing about how wrong everything went. But I’m cool with that.

#SFWApro. Cover by Ernie Chan, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Today I stopped work and ate the frog

You may be familiar with the time-management term eat the frog. The idea is that if there’s something you’ve been putting off, you force yourself to do it first thing in the morning. That way you get it done, you have a feeling of accomplishment and everything else looks easy.

Between lack of sleep and the added demands of Wisp on top of the dogs, I’ve been letting a lot of frogs slide. Today I decided to skip most of my work (practically speaking, that only left me a couple of hours short) and get them done. Cleaning the kitchen. Cleaning the fridge. Cleaning my disgusting bathroom. Sorting through paperwork. Sorting out my browser bookmarks and deleting useless items from my desktop. A couple of paperwork things TYG delegated to me.

Done! Now I can kick back this weekend without being haunted by the feeling I should get up and clean stuff.

Of course that meant the week was underwhelming for productivity. The lack of sleep didn’t help, and having Wisp around when I wake up early apparently leads to me not starting work as early as I would otherwise. I got some research reading done, and a bunch of Leaf articles. I published an article on the Bronze Age Shade, the Changing Man over at Atomic Junkshop, plus a Valentine’s Day post about the film Quest for Love.

I also began proofing the hard copy of Undead Sexist Cliches. This is not the cover that will be on the book, but it will do for now. Think of it as a cover non-reveal.

The bad news: I did find some errors and places where I had to tighten up my writing. The good: not that many. It’s a pretty clean manuscript.

Another good: Got my royalty statement for my books from McFarland. Not a lot of money, but the fact it’s still coming in, even on books more than a decade old, is pretty damn cool.

I got some movies watched for Alien Visitors but no writing done. Despite which, I consider this a satisfactory week. Particularly getting to those damn frogs.

#SFWApro

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Filed under Nonfiction, Now and Then We Time Travel, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I put in the hours, but the work did not flourish

Just as I planned last week, I skipped watching movies for Alien Visitors in favor of getting the writing done … only not much got done. A rewrite of the introduction, which is an important chapter — it’s a capsule the history of ETs in print and in popular belief, coupled with an overview of film and TV versions — but I’d really hoped for more.

Unfortunately this was one of those weeks when the doggy care was very demanding. Our visits to rehab are once a week instead of twice, but they’re around 2 PM or so for the next few weeks, so that takes a bite out of the day. Wisp has been in a lot, demanding petting (she gets it) and throwing my morning routine off. The lunch walkies after Monday were all mine; Wednesday, for whatever reason, I was completely wiped out. I’ve no idea why — it’s not like double walks are anything new — but I was not in peak condition to write that afternoon. And last night and the night before, Wisp woke me up around 1 or 2 AM when she decided she was lonely. On the plus side, she’s coming up into the spare bedroom (I sleep there when the dogs get too fidgety for me to sleep in our queen-size bed) when she wants me. She rushes away as soon as I move — she gets very nervous if she’s far away from the doors downstairs — so perhaps eventually she’ll come up and sleep next to me or something. That would be a lot easier. But yesterday and today I was wiped out.

And this morning she was hyper-fidgety. Rush in, get a quick pet, rush out again into the cold and rain. Decide she doesn’t like it, come back. Rinse, repeat. I know, cat, but it’s not typical for her. At the moment she’s snoozing on the couch again. I had Trixie on the other side of me so I could pet them both, but Trixie sulked and went to the other couch. I really hate feeling that she feels neglected (especially when I was making a point not to neglect her).

So not much Alien Visitors. I might have squeezed some in during my morning viewing while I exercise and eat, but I wound up bingeing and finishing DC’s Swamp Thing, now streaming on the CW website. I don’t feel bad about it (I’ll have a review up soon).

On the plus side, I did turn Undead Sexist Cliches into a print manuscript on Amazon and ordered a copy. I’ll go over it for any final errors/changes and then I’ll be done. Well, once I get a cover. I intend to try Draft 2 Digital‘s print-on-demand service too, but they require a cover before I start. I’ve been very pleased with their ebook service so I want to see if their paperback publishing works better than using Amazon’s kindle POD service.

And I got started on another project, contributing an article on golems in fantasy and comics to an anthology on Jewish specfic. Truth is, the only reason I made my hours this week is because I pushed to finish Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman’s The Golem of Hollywood — dreadful book (reviews will follow) but definitely relevant.

And I did do plenty of Leafs which is more money in the bank. That’s always welcome.

And now the weekend. I’m ready.

#SFWApro.

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

Too many movies, too little writing

Which is to say I put in a full week of writing, but “writing” in this case mostly meant watching movies for Alien Visitors. Which is necessary, of course, but I have other things that need doing too. I didn’t get them done, other than writing Leaf articles.

Once again, we can blame my pets. Sunday night, Wisp stayed in, and decided about an hour after I went to bed that she wanted company. Her meowing woke me up and even after she went out, I couldn’t get back to sleep. That left me in piss-poor shape. By the time of Monday evening’s Shut Up and Write session (I’m one of the co-organizers for our local group), I was zonked. I had to settle for research reading as that was all I could manage. And for a couple of mornings this week I had Wisp in first, then the dogs coming down early to join me. That left me with little opportunity to do my early morning exercise/stretching/meditate routines, which always leaves me feeling I’ve started the day on the wrong foot. I think it’s aggravating my insomnia too, as I know if I get a normal night’s sleep I’ll be dealing with pets almost immediately on waking. So in that state, movies were about all I could manage to focus on.

Good thing the animals are so cute and adorable. Look at my shaggy little Trixie.I had two short stories returned, one with several positive comments (and some criticism, which obviously carried greater weight). And I discovered Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan cited as a reference for one article on Wikipedia, which is cool.But the writing needs to get done. I shall make that a priority for next week and let the movies fall behind this time. At least that’s the plan.

#SFWApro.

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

Exit January, Enter February

The first month of 2021 went reasonably well, despite the Wisp problems and TYG’s crazy schedule. I have Undead Sexist Cliches and Questionable Minds ready to start the Draft2Digital book-making process. I got work done on Alien Visitors. About 50 percent of my goals for the month completed in total. But almost nothing on fiction. So I’m revising my 2021 plans.

There doesn’t seem to be any chance that I can focus on fiction until the two self-publishing jobs are done, so I’m not even going to try. For February, I’ll work on getting the two books done, plus as much Alien Visitors as I can handle. In March, hopefully, I can get back to fiction alongside Alien Visitors and make up for lost time. Apparently my ability to bounce from project to project is not what it used to be.

I’d planned to apply myself to using the pomodoro technique — 25 minutes on, five minutes off, bigger break every 90 minutes or so — regularly this year, but I’m just giving up on that. It’s always been a bit impractical because my big breaks are dictated by dog needs. Now that I’m dealing with Wisp, food deliveries, occasional requests for assistance from TYG and a schedule that’s much less predictable overall, it’s just pointless to try. So I won’t.

On the plus side, doing little mental exercises and such on a daily basis is working out well, though hampered by not having my mornings as free as I used to. So I’ll stick with that. For example setting a reminder in my to-do list to take two photographs a day reminds me to keep looking out for interesting visuals, like this one from our recent cold snap.

I had the sense to put a lot of my goals as conditional on vaccinations: plans to eat out, visit the North Carolina Zoo or drink coffee with someone are contingent on getting vaccinated. Which so far ain’t happening. When it does it will shake up my schedule in lots of ways, as I’ll have many more options for what to do with my time. But that will be a pleasant bridge to cross.

#SFWApro.

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Lost and found (my wedding ring that is)

Yep, Wednesday I came in from walking Plushie and as I was getting out dog food, discovered the ring was no longer on my finger. PANIC! I went back outside, couldn’t find it, searched in the house, couldn’t find it, but my gut instinct said it had to be indoors. I’m so used to it now, I don’t think I could go very long without noticing it was off my finger. And sure enough, Thursday I found it wrapped up in the hand towel I’d used — it had slid off my finger during washing. Which has happened before, but not usually without me noticing at once. TYG says I need to get it resized after the pandemic is over.

That was the most dramatic event in a week that was, while not dramatic, quite wearying. TYG took and passed a certification test Monday, after a weekend of cramming. Which is very awesome — I’m proud of her — but the cramming, the testing and then catching up on work sucked up a lot of time. I wound up with lots of extra dog care, often starting early in the morning, which always makes it harder to get my head in the game.

On top of which there was extra Wisp care. It was a cold, snowy week ——and she found central heating much preferable. Which is fine, except that the dogs seem to get more excited about dealing with her the longer she’s in the house (I pray to God this wears off!). Plushie, in particular, freaks out when Wisp has food and he doesn’t, or if she jumps onto the arm of the couch (“The not-a-dog flies! AAAAAH!”). This requires me to put in a lot of time making sure they’re getting along. So far, when the dogs do chase her, they don’t seem to be aggressive as much as playful, and she doesn’t claw or bite. Still when they’re sitting and staring at each other I have to worry. Monday I dropped out of my Shut Up and Write meeting early because I was watching the dogs (usually TYG takes them) and when Wisp came in there was no way I could focus on writing.That uses up a fair amount of mental energy and time. And while Wisp stayed in a couple of nights without mewing for attention, last night she woke me around 11:30 and I could not get back to sleep, even after she left. So feeling really beat today on top of everything else. However we’re going to keep letting her in unless I absolutely can’t stand it — if we want her to be more of an indoor cat (and we do) then I’ll just have to approach this as a transitional period and hope things improve.

And did I mention snow? Which is fricking cold to walk dogs in! Today, when it dipped to the mid-twenties, I had to walk both dogs at breakfast. Not comfortable.

Despite all of which, I did get a fair amount done, though my schedule was a crazy patchwork (up early, then nap, do exercises mid-day instead of morning, etc.). I got a full quota of Leaf articles in and I watched a lot movies for Alien Visitors. I’d hoped to write some chapters too, but while I was capable of noting down observations about the films, I didn’t have enough energy or focus to actually write them into even a rough chapter draft. And my cover artist emailed me back about Questionable Minds but I haven’t been sharp enough to really respond.

I intend to rest up this weekend, then start fresh on Monday if, as they say, the good lord is willing and the creek don’t rise. And our menagerie is reasonably cooperative.

At least I’m confident I won’t lose the ring again!

#SFWApro.

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

This harrows me with dread and awe

This was a much better week than last week.

You may recall my big disappointment (if you don’t recall, click on the link!) was running into a plot hole at the climax of Questionable Minds. This week, I sat down and started doodling ideas and presto, I found the solution. I’ll want to look over the ending again, but the book is done. I also completed the footnotes of Undead Sexist Cliches so that’s done too. That explains the awe.

The dread is that now I’m going to release them into the world. Self-published stuff, and not previously published like the stories in Atlas Shagged or Atoms for Peace. And much more substantial than Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast. I feel the inevitable trepidation — what if despite all my work, they suck? What if nobody buys them, like, ever? But regardless I’m forging ahead (well of course).

I did have a talented friend working on the cover for Questionable Minds but I think over the course of the pandemic she’s wound up checking out. Which I didn’t worry about when I was slogging through the middle of the book, but now? Kind of need it. So if I don’t get a response to my recent “how’s it going?” I’ll have to hunt elsewhere. Darn it. And also for Undead Sexist Cliches. Though that one’s slightly easier as I have a good idea what I want.  Assuming I can find a cover artist, I’ll be done with both before my birthday. The biggest obstacle will be indexing Undead Sexist Cliches for the hard copy version.

Dread, but definitely awe.

Other than the two books, I did some leafs, watched some movies for Alien Visitors and wrote some of the chapters. I’d hoped to work on some short stories, but no, the added demands of dog care ate into that. Still, I’m pleased with what I accomplished.

Definitely some awe.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover are mine.

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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Atoms for Peace, Nonfiction, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Second verse, same as the first

Which is to say, this week’s productivity wasn’t an improvement over last week, though the problems were different.

It started Friday night when we decided to keep Wisp in overnight. She doesn’t like being left downstairs by herself — she’s very wary about going upstairs — and around 12:30 her mewing for attention woke me up. I thought she wanted to go out, but no, she just wanted someone to sit with her. There was much petting and belly scritching, then she settled down and went to sleep on the couch cushion next to me. I, however, had no such luck. Sleep was shot for the night.

Sunday, more of the same, plus Plushie had the squirtles. TYG took him outside the first time, then I did, and then he and I settled in downstairs with Wisp. That would make it simpler if he had to go out yet again, which he did; after that, he went to sleep but again, I didn’t. And sleep Saturday and Sunday did not make up for the minimal night sleep. So I started Monday sleep-deprived and never made it up. The sense from last week that my mornings are too busy with pets and I have to get up extra early to get any work done didn’t help. The result was that I spent most of my week a little bit off peak condition.

That being the case, I pretty much dropped my initial plans and focused on the big stuff: more stuff watched for Alien Visitors, some minor formatting for Undead Sexist Cliches and finishing up Questionable Minds. Wednesday, despite all the distractions and lack of sleep, I was optimistic I’d have it done this week, but the last couple of chapter had problems. One was that a key scene involves a convenient oil lamp, but as the house is equipped with gas jets, there’s no real reason they’d have an oil lamp there. That proved relatively simple to fix, but then came the big finish where the bad guy buys it … and for some reason, it doesn’t work. I think I see a way to fix it, but it didn’t occur to me until too late today.

My schedule was also complicated because when Leaf articles were posted for writing it was at odd hours and moments. Normally I adapt to that pretty well but with my brain already foggy that didn’t go well. Still I got some done, and money coming in is always a good thing. And the dogs and Wisp are getting a little more relaxed about having each other around. Only a little, but it’s a good sign.#SFWApro.

 

 

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