Tag Archives: Wisp

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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A dog with a ribbon in his hair. And then Wisp.

I’ve had this photo on my laptop since Christmas, but I forgot to post it. Better late than never, right? For the record, we didn’t keep it on more than a second, otherwise it would have ended up in Plushie’s mouth.

Now, the Wisp stuff. Last weekend, Wisp’s habit of mewing for attention in the middle of the night left me really wiped out. My friend Dana said if I just stay upstairs and don’t come down, eventually Wisp would give up. I decided to try that — she’d still wake me up mewing but I’d just have to go into my room and write instead of going downstairs. No chance to brew any tea, but Dana was right, I couldn’t keep letting Wisp wake me up at 12:30 or 1 AM.

Next night, instead, she came right into the bedroom and joined me (I was in the spare bedroom after the dogs’ restlessness forced me to relocate). First she tried snuggling close, then she settled onto the comforter at the foot of the bed and I went back to sleep.

Monday night she came up again, but I couldn’t make it back to sleep.

Tuesday was … nuts. Plushie was restless and woke me up. I went downstairs and read for a bit, started to feel ready to go back to sleep … and Wisp showed. Later I went to sleep on the couch and she, after an hour sitting on the far side of the room, decided to perch on the back of the couch right over my face. Distracting. Tuesday night, though, she went upstairs when I did and settled in quite comfortably. I slept like a log.

Wednesday night, Wisp was in the bed before I was but I didn’t sleep so well. I’m not sure if it was the cat lying next to me inhibiting my normal shifting in sleep or just random bad sleep luck. Last night I took an Ambien so when this goes live I may still be asleep.

We’ve also bought a laser pointer to tease her with. Wisp loves chasing the red dot; what we didn’t expect is that Trixie interprets the cat rushing around as a sign she’s ready to play. Trixie ends up giving her a play  bow or similar gestures, and gets a little baffled the cat doesn’t respond the way Plushie does.

It’s remarkable to look back at some of my cat videos from a couple of years ago and see how far Wisp has come from when she could barely bring herself to cross the threshold. It’s been her choice, but I feel absurdly proud of me and TYG for bringing her this far.

#SFWApro.

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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

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

Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better

I have a lot of little goals in my 2021 list, as I always do. Work my brain by doing puzzles. Observe people in the street — their body language, their clothes, their faces. Walk further; I do a lot of walking with the dogs, but it’s rarely as much as two miles. Take more photos and improve my photography skills.  This is stuff I easily fall behind on, but I think I’ve found a way to keep up: make them something I do daily.

Not that I have “do it every day.” as a goal in my list. it’s just that if I shoot for daily, I’m sure to get it done weekly. Well, pretty sure; last week’s chaos almost threw me off but Monday – Wednesday were enough to get ’em done. This is advice I’ve seen in a lot of books: if you need to make $10,000/100 cold calls/write 50,000 words, approach the project as if your goal was $20,000/200 cold calls/write 100,000 words. That way no matter what the setbacks, you’ll have budgeted enough time and effort to make your real goals.

I’ve never found that good advice. Whatever the fake goal I set is, my mind insist on interpreting that as my real goal. As it’s higher than I can make, that ends up making me feel I failed. In this case, however, it seems to be working (of course, the week’s young). Maybe because they’re relatively simple goals, on stuff that isn’t vital, so I’m not stressed. And they don’t require the same level of thought and creativity as setting really steep writing goals does. So I doubt there’s a lesson I can apply to my bigger ambitions.

Eventually if they become regular enough I can stop listing them as goals. With meditation, for example, it’s now part of my regular routine, even if I don’t write it down as a goal. Ditto bread-baking: I resolved to bake bread (including muffins, rolls and scones as an option) at least twice a month last year; I think it broke me out of a slump, so that’s not on the list this year either.

Now if only I could be as efficient in my writing goals …

To wrap up, here’s a photo showing how shaggy Trixie is these days, and one of Wisp sprawled in her favorite snooze place, on the back of the couch.#SFWApro.

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I don’t think the black-eyed peas I ate New Years Day brought that much luck

Because my first work week of the New Year was kind of a mess. Still the hopping John was quite tasty

Monday went great, actually. I watched the 1953 and 2005 War of the Worlds for Alien Visitors and wrote a rough draft of the Alien Invaders chapter (Wells’ work and its adaptations will be the main focus). For the first time in a couple of months I seemed capable of organizing my thoughts, catching the key details of Alien Invader movies — it felt great! I also did another spell-check on Undead Sexist Cliches (good move — Word spellcheck caught a lot that Scrivener didn’t) and started rewriting an old short story, Love That Moves the Sun, to read to the writers’ group Tuesday. I’d thought a relatively cursory rewrite would get it in at least good enough shape for presenting, but I was wrong. About 2,000 words in I started seeing the need for substantial changes, but that’s actually good: I haven’t really had an idea how to fix this but maybe my brain’s coming up with something. Unfortunately part of the fix will be turning it into at least novella length — the ending doesn’t work and to reach one that does, I’ll need an expansion — and  I still  don’t know where it goes beyond the original story.

However, the response from the group on Tuesday was very positive, so I’m encouraged to keep working on it. I got the standard criticisms I always receive — needs more detail on the setting, things happen too damn fast — and they’re absolutely right. Slowing it down and filling in detail will improve it and perhaps somewhere in there I’ll see how to expand it successfully.

Tuesday I did some more Alien Visitors work. And then Wednesday the shit hit the fan. No, not Trump’s attempted coup, at least not at first. It was Plushie: he needs heat applied to his hip joint every day, and we’ve started doing it in the morning so we don’t let it slide (he gets painfully stiff if we skip it for a few days). Coupled with other dog stuff and coping with Wisp, I wound up starting work about 90 minutes late, which put me off my game for much of the day. I’d intended to make up the time in the evening, but then I heard about the attack on Congress and spent the rest of the afternoon on into the evening doomposting. And not the fun Doom either.

Thursday and Friday I did more doomposting. And I had either Wisp or Trixie down with me in the early morning. That’s the only time I really feel is private, because nobody’s up; normally I can adapt when pets intrude (I won’t send them away) but this time I was stressed enough that petting and watching over them became like chaff in my brain. And then Thursday afternoon we had an appointment at the rehab vet.

Today I did a little better with Wisp lying next to me. But then TYG was doing something techie and I had to get off the Internet for an hour and help her with grunt work, so that cost an hour, plus I was hardly focused when the Internet came back up. So since Tuesday all I’ve done is a small number of Leaf articles.

Frustrating, but hopefully the hopping John will kick in after this.

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

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

A short week because Christmas!

And Christmas Eve, which I’m taking off.

My big push this week was with Questionable Minds. If I could finish the final draft of the book this month, that would feel great, and as noted last week, I’m most of the way there.However this proved tougher than expected. I finished the week with about 40 pages left and it’s slow-going. Everything is coming to a head, there’s constant action, betrayals, impersonations, and I keep finding scenes or actions, or decisions that don’t make sense. For example, Simon deducing the bad guy’s master plan hinged on something I must have cut out of the book because it isn’t there now. Easy to fix, but I keep stumbling across other details like that.

I also need to slow things down a little. Rereading, it’s slam-bang, constant action which is a good thing up to a point, but I suspect I passed the point. A standard complaint when my writing group beta-reads my stuff is that I don’t give readers a chance to breathe, or to absorb what’s happening; while I can’t slow down too much I’ll do what I can. There’s also a couple of abrupt transitions and some lack of description in spots. I’m happy to say I did a much better job on Southern Discomfort so apparently I’m capable of learning and improving.

I have read all the way to the finish, red-inking (okay, black-inking, my red pen died) wherever necessary. But a lot of that is just “fix this” or “need to set this up earlier” notes so there’s still a lot of work. Maybe I can make all the changes next week, but my gut says it’s better not to push it. So I’ll see how I do without pushing.

Wisp came in a lot this week but she doesn’t seem ready to become an indoor cat. Either Plushie or Trixie startle her, or there’s a noise, or she just decides she wants out. I’ve considered not letting her and seeing if she’ll settle down, but I keep thinking it’s better if she knows she can come in or out as she chooses. The most inconvenient is when she wants to go out, feels the cold outside and sits in the doorway debating. Hey, she’s a cat.

Here she is resting her head on my leg one morning.Here’s Plushie resting his head on me, mostly because he’s pleading for an early lunch.And here’s Trixie, looking quite leonine (neither dog has been to the groomers since the pandemic started).#SFWApro.

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