Tag Archives: Wisp

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!


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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.




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.


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

This week EVERYTHING ate my homework

But let’s start with the good stuff, shall we. As of this morning, my redraft of Undead Sexist Cliches is finished.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but this is a huge deal. I’ve been working on this for so long and it’s become so much bigger than I’d planned, and now the heavy lifting part is done. There’s still work to do: spell check, getting cover art, writing cover copy, formatting the book, but it’s all trivial by comparison. The book will be out, not this year obviously, but by spring. It’s going to happen. Woot.

And with one big project off the table, I can start work on some others in 2021. Looking forward to doing fiction again.

That said, this week’s schedule was quite a mess. TYG was up very late on Sunday. Monday morning I wound up moving from petting Wisp in the early morning to sitting with the dogs so TYG could catch up on sleep. With non-stop pets I had no chance to meditate, stretch out, exercise or practice Alexander technique. I felt stiff all day. Monday night, for some reason, it took me forever to fall asleep, which is abnormal — I don’t always stay asleep long, but I’m usually out once my head hits the pillow. Instead I got up, eventually caught a small bit of sleep, got up again. Did not leave me in great shape during the day. Wednesday, Plushie and Trixie both wanted loooong lunch walks. Thursday, I had to give them both morning walks. Today we had a re-evaluation for Trixie’s leg — making progress, but still not as good as it should be (solution: more drugs, possibly added therapy). That took around 2.5 hours in the middle of the day; even though a lot of that would have been lunch time, it still threw me off my game when I got home.

So outside of a couple of movies for Alien Visitors and some research reading, Undead Sexist Cliches was about all I worked on. But at least that work paid off. Next week, with only light work on that book, I can get back to Questionable Minds and Alien Visitors. Not a bad Christmas present.

To celebrate, here’s a cute cover by Sheldon Meyer—And one by Billy Graham (no, not the preacher). Nothing says Christmas like Luke Cage trying to save the world from nuclear terrorism, am I right?#SFWApro. All rights to cover images remain with current holders.

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

This is probably not safe behavior

For Wisp, that is. When she follows us, sometimes she’ll just lie out in the street like this. Cars come; she just stays there and double-dares them. Fortunately the drivers either navigate around her or they go slow enough she can get up. And I usually try to chivvy her to safety. Still, given she’s survived at least three years on her own, I would have assumed she had better sense about cars.

On the plus side, she came in for breakfast every morning this week. I turn the back door lock, she comes out of the heated shelter we have on the deck. She eats, then she usually sleeps on the couch next to me, and eventually up and leaves. This throws off my morning schedule because when I exercise she freaks out; at first I tried doing it later in the day, but that’s inconvenient. Today I woke up early and tried a different solution: meditation, stretching and exercise, only the inviting Wisp in. It worked better. I’ll try that again.

My goals for November — I’ve no idea. Very unusually for me I lost track, so I don’t really know how I performed. As there’s no rewards or anything attached, it doesn’t really matter but I do take pride in reviewing my progress. I think the miasma has lifted though.

And I did have a productive week. My Leaf quota. Proofing through most of Chapter Eight (abortion and birth control) in Undead Sexist Cliches. A few chapters of Questionable Minds edited and almost all of the book marked up in red pen (a lot of the marks are just “fix this” so it’s not really edited yet). No writing done on Alien Visitors but a couple of movies and some TV watched.

TYG had to take Plushie into the vet Tuesday when he seemed to have trouble walking. Turns out we have not been doing our share of home rehab (heat to his hips and massage) so despite the laser treatment, his muscles have been stiffening a little. We applied the heat treatment today and yesterday and it seems to perk him up. He’s not enthused about sitting there, but with enough petting and cuddles we can make him do it. So we shall!


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

Animal photos — dog, cat and other

Trixie study something. It may have been Wisp.Wisp, enthusiastically biting into the dogs’ stuffed raccoon toy. Apparently it’s just right for her to get the urge to prey upon it.And then the slugs that like to hang out in Wisp’s empty bowls on the porch after dark.#SFWApro.

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“We really like your story” followed by “but …”

So my latest rejection, for No One Can Slay Her, said a lot of nice things about the atmosphere, the magic, the characters, some of the 1950s period detail. But … there was a lot they didn’t like (though happily they didn’t find any flaws in the mystery plot, something I’d worried about). Mostly matters of taste — the details they disliked I think work for the story — but it still added up to a no.

Which is fair enough; actually more than fair, because taking the time to write a detailed critique is quite generous of them (I know the editor. They have a lot of demands on their time). But still it’s frustrating, like one I got a couple of months ago for The Schloss and the Switchblade (really liked the story but no room for it in the upcoming issues). Even when they like my work, there’s a but. And no sale.

Of course, pretty much every story I’ve ever written has gone through at least a half-dozen markets, often much more, before someone accepts it. Sometimes after rewriting based on feedback. Sometimes with no changes. So I’m not discouraged. On the other hand, pretty much every story I’ve ever written has gone through at least a half-dozen markets, even though the eventual acceptance means it’s good enough to get published. Why, oh why can’t I find the right market earlier?

It’s particularly frustrating this year where my only sales have been reprints. I’m seriously considering that when I finish with Questionable Minds and Undead Sexist Cliches I just take everything that isn’t sold and put them into a short story book with some of my published works. As I do a lot of historical fantasy, I could call it Magic and History — okay, I should call it something better than that but you get the idea. We have No One Can Slay Her from the 1950s, Glory That Was and Impossible Things Before Breakfast from the 1970s, Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates in the 1980s, plus published work from the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s, early 21st century and one from the 1600s.

The downside is that my self-published books don’t make me much money. The best sales have come from when I visited cons and handsold them and god knows when I’ll get to do that again. Short fiction is hardly a lucrative field but the money from magazine/anthology sales is usually better than self-publishing them. Then again, it’s also a great deal of time researching markets, submitting, researching and submitting again … at least I’d be done with that and the stories would be published, available for reading.

Well it’ll be a while before my current projects are done, so I’ll see how I feel by then. And until that point, I’ll keep submitting.

And I’ll close with a photo of Wisp sitting on top of the heated cat-house we bought for her, somewhat blurred by sunlight on the back window.



Filed under Personal, Short Stories, Writing

Pets and other animals

Other animals like the bird who showed up on our corner lot to check out some recent roadkill. He dragged a squished squirrel into our yard and snacked on it. Regrettably the photo doesn’t show quite how awesome he looked IRL.

Next Wisp. This week she not only came and sat beside me on the couch, she went to sleep with her head tucked slightly under my leg. I think she likes me.Then there’s the puppers. Plushie went to a rehab place to check out his knee problems. They say it’s not his knee as much as a problem with his groin muscles and recommended various steps we could take. Some of them we’ve seen used before, such as a laser treatment of the injured area. Others were more dubious about such as “dry needling” — it would be a lot of pricking and leave Plushie very sore and he doesn’t cope well with that sort of thing. So probably not. Whatever we decide on will be pricey, but look at that face — he’s totally worth it.

So is Trixie, who’s going in this afternoon to see if rehab could benefit her any (she still has a slight weakness in her legs). Regrettably they couldn’t take both dogs at once as it’s an intensive process.

#SFWApro. Images are mine.

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