Tag Archives: snowdrop

A “disorder under heaven” week

A line of Mao Zedong I’ve occasionally quoted is that “there is disorder under heaven but the situation is excellent.” That sums up this week. It started off frustrating but turned out much more productive than the shakedown cruise of the first week in January.

Monday I had to deal with Plushie’s puking, plus help TYG out with some stuff. That sucked up much more time than expected and chopped up the day into small bursts of time where I couldn’t accomplish anything. Tuesday TYG and I had more stuff to take care of, plus I had my dental cleaning in the afternoon. Once again the day broke up into periods to small to build any focus.Still, I’m pleased with my work. I got another 4,000 words done on Let No Man Put Asunder, which is harder than I thought. After waffling in December, I’ve committed to keeping protagonists Paul and Mandy in the city of Blue Ivy (which I’ll probably rename) at least for the early part of the book. That means instead of having them on the run, alone, they’re having to deal with Mandy’s family, the city police department, plus the bad guys who are after them. All of that changes things up and my mind keeps suggesting more changes. Plutarch, a psionic boy from an alt.Greece is now Flavia, a Nubian slave from an alt.Rome, still psionic but also blind. She gets to keep Plutarch’s living-metal bodyguard, Talos, however.

I rewrote Paying the Ferryman and I think I’ve fixed the problems. I’m going to have my writing group beta-read the second half, however (it’s 8,000 words) to see if it holds up as well as I think, and what to do if it isn’t. I rewrote Bleeding Blue and I think that definitely works: I’ll wait until the end of the month, then make a final proof in hard copy.

The one where those missing two days hurt me most was Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I did get some work done on the book but nowhere near as much as I’d have liked.

On the downside, Adventures of the Red Leech came back from the Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraft anthology I submitted it to. I may send it out again, or save it for Magic in History, the historical fantasy collection of my own stories I plan to put out (needs a better name, though). More disappointingly, Gollancz sent back Southern Discomfort. I’m not shocked — a big publisher announces a window for unagented submissions, the competition’s bound to be tough — but it’s frustrating. I’ve hit almost all the specfic publishers who accept books without an agent and the remaining ones are currently closed to subs. Perhaps it’s time to self-publish again?

Over at Atomic Junk Shop I’ve published a late MLK Day piece and a look at the new generation of comics writers — Roy Thomas, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil, Jim Shooter — who debuted at DC or Marvel in 1965 and ’66.

I’ll close with a look at Trixie and Snow Drop nuzzling. I wouldn’t say our cats and dogs are friends but they get along okay.#SFWApro. Cover by Gil Kane, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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

TYG no, Wisp si!

As I mentioned a week ago, TYG spent last weekend out of town. Taking care of the dogs solo went fine, though giving them individual walks in freezing weather (ever since Trixie’s leg injury, we walk them separately) was, well, freezing. Handling them and Wisp when she came in was a bit more complicated — I have to make sure they don’t steal Wisp’s food or crowd her into a corner — and sometimes we had Snowdrop as well.Still, it was a relaxed weekend overall. Lots of movie watching, some reading, and a final sourdough recipe from Bread Head. But then came Sunday night.

Normally when Wisp sleeps in the spare bedroom I join her eventually — I wake briefly (if I’m lucky) at midnight, change rooms, she gets company. When TYG is away, however, I stay in the master bedroom with the dogs. Wisp apparently sensed things would not go her way because around 9ish she began meowing plaintively outside the bedroom door. I let her in and after sniffing around, she joined me and the dogs on the bed.TYG and I have always wondered how this would work, and it turns out it works fine. Neither dog felt the need for a turf war, though when Wisp later moved to lie by one side of me, Trixie squished on the other side. I belong to her, cat better recognize the fact.

That would all have been fine except Plushie, having vomited a couple of times in the early evening, got up a couple more times to vomit on the floor (good boy! Much better than on the bed clothes). His claws on the hardwood floor woke me up both times and with a pet on either side of me I couldn’t get back to sleep. I”d hoped for a solid night of sleep to start the work week, but …

The Wisp thing was still very cool, though i don’t know if it’ll work as well when TYG’s in the bed too. Plushie stopped vomiting by early afternoon but I took him to the vet later, just in case. A day of bland food and he seems back to normal, so yay!

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

I shall think of this week as a shakedown cruise for 2023

My work weeks often make me think of that phrase of Chairman Mao, “there is disorder under heaven but the situation is excellent.” This was a messy, disorganized week; I did get my hours of work in, but I wasn’t focusing as well as I should. By today, all I could manage was research reading. Even my pleasure reading slowed down, a sure sign my head is not in the game.

The problem may have been Monday night: TYG had an IT crisis to deal with which woke me up after barely a couple of hours’ sleep; when I went downstairs the cats wanted in and demanded attention, making it impossible to sleep, or to get some early work done. On the plus side, Snowdrop did something we’ve wanted for years, accepting a place in my lap.This is a big step for him, though I still had to keep the back door open to keep him happy. And I do wish it had been TYG’s lap because she loves Snowdrop so much. Still, it’s very cool. But not conducive to sleep.

Later in the week I had appointments (minor car repair), errands (pick up doggy drugs) and other matters to distract me. So maybe that’s all there was to it. Or perhaps it’s the return to the mean I keep blogging about: sooner or later, sheer chance dictates I’m going to have an off week. I had an above average month in December so perhaps this is a return to the mean. The two explanations are not incompatible of course. Either way, the week is done so hopefully I can rise back to bettter-than-average next week.

The biggest accomplishment of the week wast that I redrafted Bleeding Blue and I’m really pleased with it. I expanded on the scenes without padding, fixed several problems my writing group pointed out and much improved the climactic scene. I’m still not entirely satisfied with it so I’m putting the story aside for a week, then I can look at it with fresh eyes.

My next accomplishment was to collect the short stories for Magic In History — title is very tentative — which is a collection I hope to self-publish later this year. I also gathered all my Doc Savage posts with an eye to reworking them into a book, the same way I worked my James Bond posts into Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast.

I got some good work done in Impossible Takes a Little Longer, especially considering it’s new material rather than reworking my previous draft. I didn’t get as far as I would have if my focus had been stronger though. The same is true of Let No Man Put Asunder.

Oh, and Draft2Digital notified me I sold three books last month, ebook versions of Atlas Shagged, Questionable Minds and Undead Sexist Cliches. Thanks, unknown purchasers!

And now the weekend. I shall chill, re-energize (I hope) and rebound next week.

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

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Elf on the shelf? How about the cat on the shelf instead?

So last week, when the bomb cyclone plunged temperatures here into the single digits, TYG decided we needed to keep Snowdrop in, even though it freaks him out to be inside with the door closed. It wasn’t easy — he’s very wary of anyone getting near the door — but we succeeded. He was not happy.

TYG suggested I go to bed and take an Ambien rather than endure his high-pitched panic whines. I did, and so missed Snowdrop’s eventual freak-out, including pissing on one of the couches and climbing out of reach.On the plus side he let TYG brush some mats out of his fur and snuggled next to her on the couch. That made her very happy. And he’s come back inside since so we know a)he’s forgiven us and b)he can survive the cold. We still want to get him adjusted to at least short periods with the closed door — it’s a lot more practical for us not to endure the cold (or later in the year, the heat) but obviously we’re not going to turn him into an indoor cat.

Despite the freezing weather, Christmas was great. Last year, TYG had a lot of work and felt way stressed; this year, she was more relaxed, so I felt the same. I made German apple pancake (a tradition) and Dutch cheese and potato soup (not a tradition but a favorite of hers) and, of course, we exchanged gifts. Mine was much heavier on books than usual — TYG picked several items off my Amazon wish list — but that suits me fine. And she had several specific asks so I bought her more stuff than usual, which I loved doing.

And we even put a ribbon on Wisp.

A Merry Christmas, as they say, was had by all.

#SFWApro.

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Bomb cyclone-mageddon is here!

Yes, I know, the name doesn’t click like “snowpocalypse.” Maybe I’ll run it by some beta-readers.

Temperatures plummeted like a stone in late morning. Even a brief hail.Then the power went off about 2.5 hours ago. So in about 90 minutes all the food in our fridge (cheese, kefir, veggie sausage) ups and dies. Our freezer has until late morning tomorrow. Given they have yet to assign a crew, I suspect a lot of food will die. And of course we can’t cook anything. I do have some dry cereal and dried fruit but that’s not the best fare. And if the power’s not on tomorrow, no tea!

And the cats are out in the freezing cold, which worries us. They’ve survived nasty weather before but it gets down to 10-12 degrees tonight. And the power is also off to our heated shelter. At least we and the dogs are indoors and can pile on blankets. Hopefully they’ll show up before night falls, though Snowdrop may refuse to come in.

Don’t get me wrong, this is more a pain in the butt for us than a crisis. But it’s quite a large pain in the butt. Even so, it’s Christmas weekend and while I’m feeling annoyed, I’m here with TYG and the dogs and I’m definitely not feeling miserable.I’d blog about writing but I’m using my phone as a mobile hot-spot and don’t want to drain it too much. So I’ll just say it went well and leave it at that.

{UPDATE: Power came back in the nick of time to save the food! Merry Christmas to us!)

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

His highness will see you now

Have a photo of Snowdrop, on me.#SFWApro.

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Cats! Insomnia! The car! But the work got done

First the good news: Snowdrop is coming in early mornings and sitting on the couch. He’s come up on the couch before, when Wisp was settled on her pillow, but he’s always been wary. Not any more.

Yep, he’s now cool with me giving him belly scritches, though sometimes I have to sit on the floor to preserve his personal space. I think this is a big advance in our relationship.

The bad news? He still freaks out if we close the door on him. That’s not so good when the temperature’s in the low thirties. I tolerate it as long as I can — an hour or so this morning — but eventually no. However he’s not panicking quite as fast as he did so just possibly we’re making progress there too.

The other bad news is that dealing with cats in the morning really throws my schedule off. As I’ve mentioned before, early morning’s the best time for exercise, a little reading over a cup of tea, and some yoga or stretching. The more fussing I do over the cats, the less time I have for any of that. I’ll always let them in — they are our cats now — so I don’t know there’s any solution beyond “suck it up.”My sleep-maintenance insomnia plays a role in this too. I had a couple of nights where I woke up around midnight. Normally I’d get up for a bit and go back to sleep or failing that, write and then nap during the day. Both nights, however, Snowdrop and Wisp detected someone was up and sat on the deck waiting … so I let them in and got much less done than normal.

And then this morning the battery failed when TYG went off on an errand. We called AAA, they came out, found the battery was fine, but the dashboard computer warned us something else was off. I made an appointment to deal with it next week, but the whole experience sucked up much more time than I wanted and threw me off my game the rest of the day.

Despite which, the week was really productive. I finished another draft of Paying the Ferryman; I still don’t have the problem part nailed down but I can feel I’m getting closer. I reread Love That Moves the Sun, an older short story, and it needs much less work than I thought to fix it. I also reread Oh the Places You’ll Go! with feedback from the last editor I sent it to in mind and I don’t think I agree with their diagnosis (no disrespect intended).

I read Bleeding Blue to the writer’s group and the feedback was much more positive than I expected. They did point out several problems and I rewrote and improved the story yesterday, based on their suggestions. The big action scene at the climax still needs the most work, though — it’s better, but still doesn’t work.

I got several thousand words done on The Impossible Takes a Little Longer, much of it by refitting some of the last draft into a new position in the book. It worked there, too. It’s now up to 54,000 words though I suspect it may come in a little short compared to what novels run these days.

Oh, and my Con-Tinual panel on favorite Christmas Carol versions is now live. It’ll be up on the Con-Tinual YouTube channel in a few days.

So yeah, pleased with my week. Have a great weekend everyone.

#SFWApro. Please credit me if you use my photos.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Writing

This might be a good sign.

TYG would love it if Snowdrop became an indoor cat at least part of the time. It’s not only for his safety, it’s that if he were comfortable when we close the door on him, we wouldn’t have to pet him while freezing winter air is coming in. But if it’s closed, he sits there and meows piteously; if we even look like we’re going door-wards, he’ll run out. We could just refuse to open it again, but TYG thinks it would make him too uncomfortable to keep coming in.

However he seems to have accepted from watching Wisp that the couch is a cool place to sit. So last week he climbed up on the couch with me ——and then rolled over and let me scritch the tummy.This is way more comfortable than he’s been in the past. I’m hoping that’s a good sign he’s coming to trust us. Even so, he’d probably freak out if we closed the door while he was on the couch. But little baby steps and all that, right?

#SFWApro.

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Two cats nuzzling

Snowdrop is still terrified of being in the house with the door closed. He’ll leave the living room to explore but if he comes back and finds we’ve closed the door on him the panicked meows begin.

He doesn’t seem keen to climb onto the furniture either unless Wisp’s there already. This time she’d settled in on the back of the couch so he came up for some mutual affection.

We’re not looking forward to leaving the door open once it starts getting really chilly, but for now, that’s the way it has to be.

In less cute cat-related news, I stepped on Wisp when I went out in the dark Monday. She screamed in utter shock and scratched my leg before she fled (no foul, I had it coming). I felt like the greatest villain unhung but in the morning she was willing to accept pets and didn’t seem harmed at all. Thank goodness. I won’t make that mistake again, I promise.

#SFWApo.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

Surrounded by pets, but missing my angel

So last Sunday, TYG headed out of town for a business trip, leaving me as a single doggy parent until she returned this morning. Quite aside from missing her, it was a weird adjustment.

Our dogs aren’t the independent type: when we’re home, they expect to be with us. Snuggled in the lap is, of course, the ideal. Or being in the kitchen hoping for a delicious treat.We usually adjust to their wishes. So I’d wake up, go down and make tea, come back up and drink it in bed while I read. Then I’d do some work for a couple of hours. Then we go down and begin the morning dog routines and walkies.

At least that was the theory. The practice proved erratic. Tuesday morning Plushie wanted very badly to go downstairs. Thursday and Friday I made sure to give him extra snuggles in the bed — he doesn’t always come and ask the way Trixie does — and he liked it so much he squirmed into my lap in a position where I couldn’t write (I’d have had to rest the lap desk right on him). I did not, of course, remove him.

As we walk the dogs separately that meant twice as much time devoted to walkies. Fortunately it’s beautiful out this week, chilly-to-cold but I can live with that. And as I didn’t exercise other than walkies or do my yoga — dogs take it as body language for Snuggle With Me — I guess the time balanced out.

Things did get more complicated when Wisp or Snowdrop showed up and I had more pets to deal with. Still it’s great to see Wisp coming in more and even napping on the back of the couch again.

Snowdrop began meowing plaintively when she met up with me and the dogs in the yard. I think he missed TYG — we’ll see how he reacts now that she’s back.

As TYG went off with a lot of her ingredients unused I postponed my own cooking plans and worked on using up the leftovers: rice and veggie bowl, frittatta, apple tart, roasted grapes with rosemary. Good stuff.

Oh, work? The week started off well but bogged down. When I take care of the dogs for this long, there’s something about the constant lack of space that sands down my ability to think. Thursday I was working slow; today I got nothing but the bare minimum done, even after TYG came back.

I completed almost all my promotional work for Questionable Minds. I’ll wrap up the rest Monday.

I got another chapter done for Impossible Takes a Little Longer … and promptly decided to revise it. It’s a slow, character-centric chapter which would be fine except it’s following another one. So once again, I’m moving up catastrophes originally scheduled for later chapters. I’ll get onto that next week.

I also had an insight how several disconnected ideas might work together to create one novel. But that’s for later … well, maybe.

And I got another accounting article done. While I fell several hours short of my hourly goal for the week but under the circumstances I think that’s acceptable. Hopefully the multiple appointments we have next week won’t derail me further.

Oh, plus I got paid for the upcoming reprint of Happiest Place on Earth, plus one book sales of Undead Sexist Cliches, plus someone checked out Atlas Shagged on Hoopla (a library service that pays a little per checkout). Whoever my two readers are, I hope you liked the books and I thank you for investing the time on my work.

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, The Dog Ate My Homework, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing