Friday, October 6, 2017

Unbearable quantities of work to do

Yes! There is too much to do this weekend. But I will get it done because I HAVE to get it done by Sunday night. But it might be kind of brutal, y'all. I've been zombified all week due to stress from this thing today, to the point where I've been taking backup no nightmares drug #1 in a half dose for the past three nights, then a full Xanax last night. Anyway the result is sleeeepy all day so I'm way behind on my work and now ack ack ack, it's due soon. It's due!

 I had the dumbest saga of internet and television. How long did I have tv? Two weeks? One week? When I got tv, I had a hellish entire weekend of struggling to make it work. Then the internet was so bad and kept cutting out so I decided to get phone internet. But then it was terribly unworkable and so I had to get rid of that, too, and so I got rid of tv also.

The upshot is I'm right back where I started after a lot of headaches and like five hours on the phone with various people who could not fix things. GOOD TIMES.

I finally got a computer that works with a wide enough screen for the stubbornly super wide website for my work, so I don't have to scroll left and right literally hundreds of times to do my work.

It is VERY wide and large in the screen and makes me feel like a moth bonking my face against a lightbulb. But I don't have to scroll left and right all flipping day long, so yay! And I finally got Chrome downloaded for the fifth time and it seems to be working and all.

At first it wouldn't do anything but would just crash immediately. Then it took a minute to crash but wouldn't do anything until then. Blah blah blah!

Is there anything more frustrating and boring than dealing with this sort of thing? Tech issues! UGH!

I ate my supper of chicken and dumplings soup out of a can cold while I was dealing with it. So basically I am super done with today.

I like how these days computers don't have disk drives and so when you buy software it comes on a card with a code and then boom, you download that and you have Office.

Guess what, I went swimming three times and my swimsuits are all TOO BIG already. But then Target had a lot of swim tops on the sale rack and so hurray! I can't get a one piece suit because if the top fits, the bottom is way too loose, and vice versa. So I am VERY happy that there are these pants and tops kind of things with swimsuits. So great.

Swimming, mmmmm. I suspect I will enjoy it more when my top is not trying to float away right off of me. Though maybe I can take those too big suit tops in a bit and shorten up the straps.

I keep thinking of Bridget Jones and her sadly deflated cleavage. Dude, deflation is okay by me! Overall deflation is kind of the goal here in general. Good good good.

Come to think of it, the shorts are kind of loose already too.

Anyway I got some more. Swimmy swimmy swim swim.

The other thing about swimsuits is: they get wet. And then when I want it again two days later, it's still wet. I know you can officially put a damp suit on, but grossssssssss. Noooooooo.

Dang, I forgot to get a YMCA hair dryer at Target. I'm gonna need one.

These are the exciting travails going down around here.

If I can dig out from under the massive pile of work I am very excited for the writing this weekend. The things to write. Writing the books! Yes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Apparently we need weekends

I worked half of Saturday and then the prospect of doing all the rest of that work the whole entire weekend long, with no down time, totally depressed me, and so I stopped. Well, I'm not alert enough to realize things like that at the time. I figured it out after. At the time I just got really really down and slowed to a stop and didn't want to do anything at all. I worked on a puzzle and listened to MBMBaM podcasts the rest of the weekend, until I had to work again Sunday night.

It would have been a lot more fun if I'd said, "Hey, I don't want to work all weekend. I want to do fun things instead!" And then had planned fun things to do.

As it was, I did get the tv programmed to record some English soccer, so that was great, and I watched the new Star Trek show premiere, but now I'm flummoxed because it's not going to be on tv, apparently? It's on some streaming thing? Can I put that on my tv? Probably, because my tv is one of those smart ones, so I'll try to figure that out when I get more energy. Soon, I suspect, because I want to see it. But not soon, because holy crap, that work did not go away!

Today I've been dawdling about the work also. It's not like me to procrastinate! I don't do that anymore. In fact I did a ton of it yesterday.

You know what it is? If I put on the podcast, then turning it off means those fun boys disappear and stop entertaining me with their chatter! It's so quiet once they're gone! All I can think is: I want the fun boys back!

So I have to remember not to play that until I'm done for the day, for sure.

Still no news on the sudden fame and wealth front. Really I should send more queries today. I also thought I might look up the time frames they say they will answer within (some say they will not answer unless they're interested) so that I know when to worry.

I'm pretty positive that my deep down dive into misery from about Thursday to Sunday came from sending those queries out. I did the thing! Why did I not get the benefit from the thing? Woe!

Some other maladaptive coping mechanism got tired of not having a pan of chicken enchiladas in the fridge (stands for ready and delicious food I can reheat) and so I went out and bought sandwich makings. So now I can have easy fast meals, is the thing. I was getting crazy hungry for a while there.

Maladaptive because I can't really eat bread. It's not for me.

Today when I went back to get lettuce for sandwiches, I also mysteriously bought a two-liter bottle of Sunkist orange soda. What? Why? It looked so good! I cannot really explain.

And I got a great big container of blue raspberry lemonade Kool Aid mix, not for drinking, but for dyeing some dresses. I'm not entirely sure it's going to work out well, but we shall see. I have two white dresses that need to be Not White anymore. I suspect they will not be white after this. The internet is vague on whether you can dye linen with Kool Aid, but it works extremely well on cotton and wool. Again, we shall see.

I'm pretty sure they will be some color, at least, even if it's faint. I mean, if I spilled blue Kool Aid on my linen dress, that would surely stain the hell out of it. So there you go.

The blue I got might not be purple enough, so I might have to mix in some cake decorating dye, or I guess some red, come to think of it. I think this blue is sort of a bright ice blue.

What are they doing, putting colors like that in food? (she said, drinking neon orange soda....)

Ugh, bread, why? My stomach immediately swells up. Like immediately. It's not good.

Anyway last night I got up and exercised so that's very good. Jeez, I'm sleeping less and less. I have to watch that because it can be a sign of some swooping brain chemicals. But brain chemistry is exactly why I made myself exercise. Spicy food also makes your brain release more of the good stuff. Look out for lots of exercise and spicy food in upcoming days and weeks.

So anyway. BACK TO WORK with me.

What I need to do, in addition to eating lots of popcorn with cayenne pepper, watching English soccer with outrageously fit dudes dashing about totally determined, and exercising, is READ BOOKS. This always happens when reading is my job. I avoid reading that isn't my job. Must put more books in my face, or watch movies, or something. I think I'm starved for non-work fiction.

Right! Back to work. As we said. Go!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What is a "weekend"?

I'm staring down the barrel of a LOT of work. Well, it's not that much work. And I already did a block of it. Two blocks of it. But the rest, ah! So much, and not thrilling? But also not immediately crucially urgent or anything, so maybe I can push it at least a day.

There, I rationalized that really well. Nice job, me!

I'm doing laundry while completing all those major blocks of work. See how it already feels like what I've done is bigger than it was a moment ago? The power of rationalization!

This morning I made eggs and grits and ate them all up. I feel like that should give me MIGHTY POWER for the rest of today. But in fact I was up super late (for me lately) and woke up at the same time anyway, even with the alarm turned off. Gah! I was awake at 6:00. Thrilling.

So instead of getting more sleep, I ended up getting much less sleep. Nice job, me! Wait, no.

Last evening after dog walk I decided to jump in and write the book that I dreamed about the night before. I dreamed about actually writing it, like typing the words, and I knew what the words were and made edits and things, and then woke up with it still very clear and vivid in my head. It's a sort of ancient fantasy except with no actual fantasy. So like about social structures on a city and empire level? Give me prehistoric social structure fantasy any time!

It is thrilling being me!

So last evening I sat in the big red office chair and wrote nine thousand plus words of that book. Only there's all this unusable stuff in it, but still! The rest is awesome. I can see and feel and understand this place and the character who is growing up and changing from one place to another and another, moving through the different areas of the city and only then learning the stages of its life.

I sat still for like five hours writing that. Four and a half? It got dark all around me and the dog totally lost patience with me by the end. I had to get up and stagger to the bathroom in the pitch dark by the light of my laptop screen. Also being dehydrated really helped enable my writing binge because I didn't have to stop sooner than that, despite my cup of tea. Dehydrated!

Right now I'm far too cold and shivery even though it's going to be 84 today, because it's super cold in here right now. So let's go do some housework and/or yard work and then come back and write much more of the book! Not that book. The other book I just started. The one about the miserable PTSD stormchaser-widowed constant runaway RV-having adjunct who investigates a murder on campus!

Must do that. But first, very cold. In sweater, on hot day, because indoors. Go mow the grass!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Every time I type the word query I type querty and then we're back to qwertyuiop. This is what happens when you learned touch-typing at an early age.

Anyway query! I wrote my dang query eight million times and then finally got it to a good place yesterday. And then! Sent it off to two choice agents! Today I sent it to two more!

In a shocking turn of events, I have not yet been showered with negotiable currency and offers of twelve-book deals. But I'm sure their email boxes are pretty full.

I give it a week.


Maybe two.

I think one of them promised to respond within two weeks, one within eight, and so on. I did not keep track, but I DO have a spreadsheet telling me who got queried on which day and which agency they're from. Because I have no memory and don't want to screw up by doubling up.


That was huge. And every time I research a new person and write a new version of the letter for them and get ready to send it out, I'm completely squirming and sweating with anxiety and stress, to the point where people were looking at me. I'm like wringing my hands and muttering and looking crazed.


So that's four out. I guess I'll try to send two a day every day? If it doesn't make me into an insane person. I'm hoping that I'll get SIGNED soon so that I can quit.

The excellent side effect of this is that I'm absolutely raring to get the twins book finished and sorted out and fixed up and DONE and then I'll have a lovely YA ready to query and send out. This New Adult thing is sort of odd and borderline, especially since I'm nearly always a YA writer.

It's bananas to start out with a non-standard novel, but oh well. It's the best one and it's ready to go.

I'm frantic about my twins novel because it has so many issues and I want to fix them all RIGHT NOW but there's this pesky angle where I have work and things to plan and prep and present and all that kind of stuff. Work!

I love the work, but it's distracting, you know? To be going back and forth. At least I can stop writing this dang query though. That's one big thing off the table. Hurray!

BOOK. I have to find a way to tell myself, "Self, this is the time to spend on this book. Do not think about work. You already did that. It's ready. It's done. You are off the hook with that. FOCUS ON THE BOOK."

That's my biggest challenge these days, with the fragmented attention.

You know what I really liked? WRITING FULL TIME. That was the BEST. It was a huge pleasure and I just did it and I loved it and the writing was amazing because of it.

That is why people become full time writers.

So I want to do that. Okay? Let's do that. Sign me, agents. Sell my book. Get me buckets of the cash. Take away all the other distractions. And I am a book-writing machine of happiness.

I have pink grapefruit juice, too, because I got totally sick and have a buzzing nasty bees' nest in my chest, all inflammation and asthma and pointless coughing and misery. If all goes well, it won't turn into bronchitis or pneumonia or any of that nonsense. But, pink grapefruit juice!

This is how I am: I couldn't remember if any of my meds meant I couldn't drink grapefruit juice, so I asked the pharmacist and she checked my records and then I went and bought pink grapefruit juice. It turns out I *used* to take something where it wasn't allowed. So it was good that I checked.

Anyway. BOOK TO WRITE. Aside from dog walk and feeding the cat, this is all I have to do until bedtime, so let's make it count, eh? Yes!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The sun's going down

I'm about to turn into a pumpkin, so I have to hurry.

I go to bed at sunset now because I have to get up at six. It's a whole time zone switch for me. Or like six time zones. I moved to Estonia, basically, while staying here at home.

It's nice in Estonia! Stress levels have plummeted. My blood pressure is low even for me. Like, lower than they like it to be. And I never eat anything. It's a whole turnaround kind of thing. Since I started back at the bricks and mortar, I've been dropping weight like nobody's business. Kind of cool.

I'm struggling to finish Summerlands, the book about the twins, but also fighting hard with the query letter for Landslide, so there are two headaches I'm having at the same time, in the time allotted for headaches, which is to say: NOT MUCH.

Because I'm fully booked with the work, boy oh boy. It takes up a lot of time. And energy. Both, actually.

I'm also fighting hard not to let the real world get away from me like it did for the first two weeks, like the lawn mowing and dish washing and stuff. I still need to vacuum. I just never vacuum, when I ought to do it religiously. I guess I vacuum the way other people do religion. Twice a year, at Easter and Christmas, whether I need to or not.

The great part of work is I get to read all kinds of wonderful things and hang out with smart people and talk about books and stories all day long. I mean, dream work! It's all good! It's just a lot and I'm still getting used to how much it is. Oof!

Book writing is suffering for sure. Must get back into a thousand or two thousand words a day without fail. I was doing it up until about Monday when I realized I was deep in over my head. Also last weekend I had niece's birthday so I was out of the house for like seven or eight hours Saturday, which did not help with the mountain of work I had to do, and then I went out again Sunday to intervene in her musical instrument selection for band, which she had due for Monday. I didn't want her to play saxophone, for no clearly defined reason. Instead, I took over my French horn and let her play with it, and play it.

First of all, she's a natural. She played it better in the first five minutes that I've played it since I got it. She started playing SONGS when she barely knew which hand went where. So that's amazing and terrifying and wonderful. Go niece!

I left it there. I think she should play French horn if she wants to play French horn. We didn't discuss like if she's keeping it or borrowing it or what. There is plenty of time for that later. It's not like I've been playing the thing.

Plus she LOVES it the way you should absolutely love your beautiful brass instrument! I loved my baritone the same way. Just adored its glossy brass and smooth curves and complex valve mechanism. Beautiful.

I'm working up a new book idea full of lost plane crashes, trailrunning, divorced parents who want to hear about each other, incompatible household demands, borders, boundaries, land and sea, land and air, sea and sky, Maine and Canada, things you do that you can never do again, first times, last times, only times, missed chances, and migratory waterfowl. Among other things. Also who other people see when they look at us and whether that's on us at all.

It's in the planning stages is what I'm saying.

But that's okay because I have like 13k still to write of Summerlands. It keeps wanting to veer into this territory that does not work for me. Then I avoid it out of awkwardness. Then I come back and delete that stuff out and start going again. Must keep a firm hand on the steering wheel! That route is not productive!

The hardest part, oddly enough, is writing about their filmmaking, even though I've totally done that. It's hard to write about somehow.

Well. I will keep at it. The only way writing gets done is if you write.

Also flipping NaNoWriMo is coming up in November, six weeks away. Not sure what I'm going to do for that, but maybe the borderlands one. I don't know. I'll for sure have to start sooner than that. But I can always just start a new file and word count for November.

Query letters, man. I'm trying to rethink this terrible one in terms of character and conflict. That seems to help.

And the sun is sinking fast. So am I. Sleepy. Off to bed.

Monday, July 31, 2017



I dread the heat. It's already going to be in the mid or high 80s all week and I'm not really down for that at all. HOT. Do not like!

I'm nearly done with all of the training and paperwork and stuff for fall. Eesh. It's been a whole day of this kind of thing. I mean, I made that happen. I decided to do it all at once because stuff like that sucks and so I wanted to limit it all to one day. It's nearly done, but there's one more big project I have to do.

Then it's back to Booksville for me. So close to completing the draft of this book. I'm close enough that I'm reading the home renovation book for the next one that I want to fix and finish.

Completing a first draft is awesome but it isn't a finished book. There are stages.

1. Finish the book.
2. Make the book make sense.
3. And then make the book awesome.

You really, really, really, really have to complete step one before you even think about going on to the next steps, or you will never ever complete step one.

At least when you're me.

Maybe I can go on and finish the draft tonight, though. I went out of town over the weekend and got super flipping exhausted swimming in lakes and pushing a giant floating raft out into the lake while swimming and then treading water and rotating and relocating the giant floating raft. And then I got to stay awake most of the night because my arms and shoulders utterly freaked out and kept on going numb and waking me up.

Wake up! say my shoulders. Wake up, because we're asleep! Switch!

So I've been stretching and whatnot to try to restore human functioning to my physical self. And hopefully make it so that the next time I do an actual thing it doesn't render me dysfunctional in the physicality the way it always does these days. Hike up a mountain? Busted foot for two weeks! Push a raft with swimming legs? No more shoulders! Also I oughta get back on the trampoline and all that like I was when Perfect Dog-man Boyfriend inspired me from Jupiter Ascending.

My niece had my phone and was looking through all my pictures, most of which are so very boring, trees and rocks and my dog and cat. But then she found one of Perfect Dog-man Boyfriend and said, "Who's that?" And I had to explain that he's half wolf or whatever and flies around on space rollerblades and he's super loyal and protects his person and all that.

She totally got it.

I tend to save pictures of anything I like. A corgi dressed as Thor! A bunny dressed as Sherlock Holmes! A cool tiny house! Some stripy rocks! I think those are the ones she was looking for.

Yep, life sure is exciting! I liked swimming in the lake with the kids for sure. But the rest of the time it's sitting at the desk and writing things all day long. Whee!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I would stab this novel but it might still not die

I'm fighting this book and it's fighting back hard. I've done SO MUCH WORK but that doesn't matter. I mean I have to say that to students all the time. "But I worked so hard on this!" Yes, but it's still terrible. As is this book!

It has major logic problems because it started out as a genre/mystery and I took that out and replaced it with this property thing and that sucks so I've been undercutting that and now it's just these two big mysteries that our main character should have figured out years ago but has to stumble backwards into while freaking out over twenty-one other major crises.

Okay, that's not so bad. I mean I like that kind of story. Fine! It's okay.

It's not DONE though. Instead of writing it right now, I'm doing this! Hahahahaha! Oooh. Because I'm listening to some old MBMBAM episode with Lin-Manuel Miranda before he even put Hamilton out there. In other words: procrastination!

I have a list of scenes I need to write. I'm just going to write them. And then there's a couple of long talky sections that make me want to slam my head in a drawer, but instead I'll just sum them up in my mind and cut them out and rewrite them from scratch. That's what you have to do pretty much.

Must not ooze over to this terrific 30k draft and work on that instead...noooooo!

Must say to self: "Self, go write the damn book. Just write one of those stupid scenes. Then go punch the speed bag for a while. Then come back and write another one of those stupid scenes."

Don't wanna! It's so weird, I don't even know why. It's not that I'm avoiding work. I went through this entire book multiple times day after day fixing major things, like doing a pass to remove the mystery plot and doing a pass to change this one character from one thing to another, and another pass to remove these other dudes and a subplot, and another one to completely change and massage the shape of the relationship arc. SO MANY MORE PASSES NEEDED.

It's just so much better to write a book straight through in a row without pretzeling yourself into an infinity shape where you have to keep going around and around and over and over everything.

This isn't even about making it GOOD yet. This is all about making it hang together and make sense. UGH.

I just really prefer telling a story in a straight line, where someone makes a choice and that has consequences and then they make more choices to deal with the consequences and that causes more consequences and so on until boom!

I've noticed that someone I like to have books and stories end with someone very high up. Like, physically high up. It's kind of a funny thing to discover. One ended up on top of a tall building in Burbank. One had someone climb a mountain, get taken off in a helicopter, then land on the roof of a hospital. Hard to get higher up than that. Maybe a balloon or plane or spacecraft.

I'm feeling a PROFOUND pull toward space opera after soaking in and delighting in Jupiter Ascending and being reminded that my favorite thing is space opera. I live for Farscape, dude! And I have this whole series of books that are space opera! I think I wrote two complete ones and then half of three others.

Just thinking about tackling rewrites of those antiques makes me want to lie down with the covers pulled over my head.

Whereas thinking about writing fun new space opera makes me tired but also happy?

Anyway I'm all wobbly and boneless today again because I took one of my prescription non-freakout pills per night for the past three nights. I'm going to have to quit taking them because I have gotten slightly more than zero writing done since I started. Sure, they allow me to sleep, and I'm all mellow and happy and sleepy and dopey, but I have things to do, dude! Time is slipping away! Work starts in a month and I have meetings coming up for both places I'm working, online and real world.

I'm already pretty happy about all of the work I've gotten done in this middle time. I mean, I wrote a whole novel that I'm pleased with. That's fantastic. But I judge my days by how much I get done and I'm getting nothing done.

That's not quite true. A couple of days ago I got utterly fed up with the stupid metal bed frame. I haven't been sleeping well on that bed, even buttressed with bookcases, so I took apart the day bed that pulls out to be queen sized from its resting twin size (Hemnes daybed at Ikea if you're curious) and brought it back into the bedroom and moved the metal frame/feet back to the guest/writing room, and it was all brutally hard work and my back is killing me.

And THEN I discovered that the new mattress is much heavier and made the slats sag, so I had to buy a bunkie board and do all this surgery on it. I had to take apart one end and saw the boards and shorten it and then reassemble the end and staplegun the covering back on. It was kind of brutal. It fits exactly perfectly now, though, and the bed is fabulously, gloriously comfortable and secure feeling.

It's hard to explain what was wrong with it before. It was a mattress on a bed frame. Like normal. I mean. It's just a bed. But it was too high and too narrow and too scary and then when I buttressed with bookcases it was too closed in and too stifling, and I hated having my back to the doorway. I kept feeling like someone was standing there. I had to take down my bathrobe that usually hangs over the door because I thought it was someone, even though that robe has been hanging there for fifteen months.

So I moved the bed 90 degrees, back under the eaves, and put it on the old daybed, which is much wider than the mattress, so I have a headboard, and walls at both sides of the head, and extra space to the side, so dog doesn't feel like he has to cram himself against me all night or risk falling off.

In other words, I probably don't need the anti-freakout pills anymore. I'm supposed to take 1-2 every night as needed but I would be just a puddle on the floor if I did that.

I'm just hoping that there's enough air flow under the eaves when it heats up again. That's why I moved it out in the first place. But oh boy is it ever louder by the door! Something about the angle to the window, I guess? The road noise was unbearable. It hasn't gotten any quieter but it bothers me much less under the eaves.

Someone is doing construction maybe a half mile directly in front of me as I sit at my desk. Speaking of loud intrusive noises. I cannot wait until I'm able to live in my very own house in a quiet place. I'll just peacefully fantasize about moving over there by loading up my trailer each day and driving over and unloading it. Mmmmm. Yes, very nice. Ooh, it's a good triangular house.

Now I want to make weird animal heads out of metal and weird stuff to hang up like those mounted deer heads. That would be AWESOME. Fun art project for me, eh? Like my ongoing lamp-making situation.

There's a cardinal outside! I haven't seen one of those here before. Look out for the bobcat, cardinal! Though the barred owl has been eating all the little critters, so maybe the bobcat has relocated to easier hunting grounds. Twice in the past week the barred owl has swooped down right outside my office window at night to eat the mice that run between the woods and the house, scaring the heck out of me both times. First there's a rush of ammonia out of nowhere, then there's some sudden loud hooting that seems to be coming from inside the room. Gaaaaaah!

Some mourning doves were doing something in the yard when we went out today, too. Or possibly that neighbor cat was messing with them? I don't know. We went out, there was a ruckus on the ground, two birds flew away, and the dog went crazy running around and sniffing everything. Could also have been a hawk that had caught one of the mourning doves, though they seem big for a hawk. I heard them calling after, though. The mourning doves, not the hawk.

Isn't life just scintillating around here? I know! I also moved a round rug from one room to the other!

It's okay, the more writing I'm doing, the less interesting life is, so it's all a good sign. And I keep completely forgetting to drink my tea! And then it gets cold! Can you imagine? Dude.

I looked at too many timber framed A-frame designs and I can tell you this: they are all badly proportioned. The ceilings are far too high. The rooms will be uncomfortable to sit in, like you're in the bottom of a bucket. And definitely they'll be drafty and impossible to heat. We don't normally hang around in rooms with twenty foot ceilings for a reason, especially in colder climates.

I'm so sore from heaving that mattress all over creation (off the frame, from bedroom to writing room and back to bedroom, on the frame, off the frame, back on the frame) that I can hardly put my hands on the keyboard, which might be another factor in the non-writing. Though I sure managed to drivel on here forever, huh?

Fine. ONE SCENE. I'm on it.