It’s turning into one of those nights where I throw up my hands and say, “You know what? Screw it.” (Only with stronger language…) There are several reasons I’ve lost the thread tonight. Originally, a friend and I had a Write Club scheduled, but due to unexpectedly bad weather, we had to cancel, which left a blank in my evening that I should fill with writing, but instead, now lacks the one motivating factor I had counted on to keep me going (through no one’s fault but the stinkin’ weather’s!). I’m tired. It’s Friday, and it’s a mid-weekend, which means the hubby’s working tomorrow and Sunday, which means there is no weekend for me, either. It gets long. And tiring. And the kiddo was in fits tonight after not napping and my inability to pay 100% attention to him while giving some support to a friend on the phone (that still means about 75% attention on him, btw). It’s rainy and stormy. I’m tired. I just want to relax and read Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin and watch the latest episode of Project Runway and the next episode of Gotham and just…drink a beer and chill.

In concession to my writerly dreams, I will work for five minutes retyping a scene that needs to move forward. That is my token offering. For the rest of the night, I will indulge myself and relax, because sometimes I need that, too.

I’ve been making pretty steady progress this month, even finishing a few things between picking up other things! (Like Nick Mamatas’ I Am Providence, which if you’ve ever been to a fan con or if you just enjoy Lovecraft’s fiction, you’ll find insightful and hilarious and dark.) I’ve been dragging my heels on a few, and I Am Providence possessed a handful of days where it was all I read, so other things may have suffered progress a bit. (I’m looking at you Style! DARN YOU!) Too many good books to read, and never enough time! (Also a little obsession with the show Gotham has chewed away at my reading time a bit…)

But! Current reading is as follows:


The Girls – I’m a little past a third of the way into this one, and am just waiting for the ebook to become available again, so I can finish it. I’ve enjoyed it so far, though it can be a bit squirmy at times, but it’s an interesting concept, and I look forward to finishing it.

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror – I’m still exactly where I was a month ago in this one. It’s just not top-of-mind for some reason, though lately I have been thinking about some of the stories I’ve already read in the first section (and fondly!), so I may just need to push it to the front of the line and give it a little loving care. 

Selected Stories of O. Henry – pg. 24 of 401 – Hey! A tiny, minuscule bit of progress on this! I was in the mood for something brief and delightful the other night, and picked this one up. I really do enjoy his stories, and they’re easy to just pick off one by one, so maybe I’ll try to not worry about sitting down with large chunks of time for this one and just worm my way through it.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Still very early on in this one, I think four or five chapters in. It’s an interesting book, but I’m not sure if it’s my typical half-distracted reading environment or what, but I’ve had a bit of trouble getting sucked into it. Le Carre’s writing is fantastic, though, so I’m hoping once the ball really gets rolling, I’ll be hooked along for the ride.

Osama – … Just haven’t been picking this one up lately. Maybe it’s the ebook format, maybe it’s the dreamy, wandering tone, I’m not sure. I always enjoy Tidhar’s writing when I’m reading it, but it’s lost a little of the power to pull me back to it once I’ve set it aside. Need to think about how to get through this one…

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Biography of author Shirley Jackson, just started. I picked this one up for my b-day because I’d been eyeing it ever since I heard it was coming out. It’s an exhaustive history (the thing is 500 pages before the endnotes), and right now we’re mired in the historical architecture of San Francisco, which Jackson’s ancestors in the mid-1800s became rich from building. It is interesting, but I’m kind of like “okay, okay, I get where she gets her interest in architecture, but seriously, can we get to when she’s born already?” I just barely got to when she was born, about 25 substantial pages in, but now we’re talking about the town where she grew up in CA and it’s developmental history. It’s that kind of book.). That said, if Franklin is this exhaustive about Jackson’s ancestors, it should provide some absolutely amazing insights once we get to Jackson herself in the later segments.  

Style – 1418233898-december-birthday-home-truths-unimpressed

The Soul of an Octopus – Still need to track this one down in audiobook format. I do need a new audiobook, so maybe I’ll spring for this one in the coming week or so…

The Strand Magazine – Just started the latest issue, mostly reading through for the fiction to start getting a little in touch with short crime fiction and how it works. Interesting stuff, so far, I just need to set aside time to focus on it. 

Albedo One Issue #45 – Still working on this one, but I’m several stories in. So far it’s been a fine issue, but I’m quite not blown away. Ditto with above strategy–just need to set time aside.

And that’s it for now, folks!

Phew, another week gone already! Yikes, where is October going? (To find out more about The Sunday Circle, check out Peter M. Ball’s blog, here.)

What am I working on this week? Last week, I finally overcame the major mental roadblock that was holding me back on the current editing project, and figured out what I need to do to move forward. That said, what I figured out is going to require a lot of combing over certain sections of text to get it to sound right, and that’s going to take time, and I really want to get this out by the end of the month, SO! This week, I’m going to do at least one full pass over the six short segments that need rhythmic and stylistic changes and get that as close to tolerable as I can. If there’s time, I’ll see if I can start culling the word counts of the other segments I haven’t even touched yet to get the story down to a reasonable length.

What’s inspiring me this week? I *just* started watching Gotham, and dear lord, I’m in love with this show so far. I mean, it’s possible the writers could let everything drop, since I’m only a few episodes in, but I absolutely adore how every choice and every action ends up creating waves of consequences (I’m looking at you, Balloonman!). The Penguin is terrifying, and I adore his code-switching: wimpy and groveling with those he doesn’t want to yet offend, and absolutely terrifying when he’s in the power position. The fact that nobody–including the villains–see him coming, so it’s this awful, wonderful secret only the audience gets in on. The easter egg-feeling for the long-time fans of the Gotham universe. The fact that they haven’t eliminated or vanished all the badass female characters I grew up adoring. The absolutely spooky aesthetic that somehow makes seemingly absurd ideas (I’m looking at you again, Balloonman…) terrifying and thrilling. How a truly honorable, good, well-meaning character can make a good, honorable, well-intentioned choice that has horrible, horrible consequences due to one tiny piece of missing information. The awkward and adjusting relationship between orphaned twelve year old Bruce Wayne and Alfred, his guardian/parent-figure and butler/employee. It’s dark, but it maintains the absurdity of it’s roots and the fact that so many of its villains are totally nuts. Oh! And the overwhelming uncertainty of fixing an almost impossibly broken system of power…It’s got a lot of good things going for it.

I seriously just watch it and giggle and mutter to myself like a crazy person. It’s fabulous. And that’s not to say it’s without flaws. Sometimes the episodes seem…short-changed. I freaking hate its tendency to end on blatant cliff-hangers. I still can’t quite get behind Selina’s funky-cool (and in good condition) style, (and hair highlights) given she’s supposed to be a street rat kid struggling to get by. But she’s still so fun! In short, I’m having a wonderful time.

What am I avoiding? Ugh, not so much what I’m avoiding now, so much as what I ended up avoiding last week. I’m feeling the pressure of only having two more weeks to finish the current edit, and with incoming house guests, making a halloween costume, and general chaos from a shifting schedule, I’m not sure how much time I’ll ultimately get to work on it. I’ve got to get these sections to a good-enough place, and I need to comb through the other POV sections to trim them back, because they’re definitely long… Just hoping I can get things wrapped by the 31st…

Wondering what the heck a Sunday Circle is? Check out Peter M. Ball’s site for more details and for this week’s virtual meet-up!

What am I working on this week? Last week, I managed to pick a story to rework and I’m so psyched about it. It’s a novelette that I had to force myself to finish a number of years ago, and as a result, was totally uninterested in revisiting up until a few weeks ago. Having to pick a story to revise for October, though, made me consider it enough to open the file and take a peek to see if it was really as terrible as I remembered. But it wasn’t! In fact, it was pretty damned awesome–with, of course, lots of room for tightening and improving. Running on that high, this week, I’m going to nail down the voice of one of the alternating POVs, and start the retype-from-scratch to hopefully streamline the edits I know need to be there. (I may also occasionally cheat and pluck at a summary draft of a MG novel that’s trying to infect my brain, but I’ll try to keep it reasonable…)

What’s inspiring me this week? Big Hero 6, FTW! Oh my word, I just saw this for the first time on Wednesday while sick as a dog, and it totally managed to make my day despite it being a terrible day. It’s so thoughtful and sweet and charming and science-y and just–yeah. Loved it. I’m still processing the plotting, but it really struck home the basic plot outline: SOMETHING BREAKS–>Character is Reactive–>ANOTHER BREAK/CHANGE–>Character Becomes Proactive–>BIG BREAK AND DARKNESS–>Realizing one’s weakness/Recognizing that the weakness you have is the same weakness as the villain’s, and realizing that the villain’s way (aka your previous way of thinking) really isn’t the right way–>CLIMAX–>Deep Breath of Relief and Awww.  Totally fascinating, and I can’t wait to watch it again with the hubby, because seriously, there are parts of this movie that are going to make him die laughing, and he’s always in need of a good laugh these days.

Also, since I’m on a kid’s movie kick, The Incredibles, which I’ve had to watch about three times this week, since kiddo’s been kind of sick too (fingers crossed that he kind of misses the worst of whatever EVIL CRUD I had earlier in the week) and I’ve been way sick and in need of the Blue Screen Babysitter. That said, it’s a very clever piece of plotting, too, with once again, that very clear plot-structure. Also, my son is now obsessed with Dash and running as fast as he can (BABY! RUN! WATER! Hahahahaha~!! <–Actual quote.)

What am I avoiding this week? Again, not so much avoiding, so much as calculating what I can realistically get done in a week. For now, I’m not going to worry about adding to the novel-edit scene list. The rewriting process takes a lot of mental creativity, and trying to split my limited thinking resources these days just leads to frustration, so I’m going all out on the short story and will pick up the novel edit planning again once the short story editing is at a less demanding phase.


And that’s it for me! Here’s hoping for a healthier week than the last one. :)

So renting library books is completely cramping my poly-reading style. It’s the due dates! (And I mean, 3 x renewal-style due dates…) Juggling multiple books has one major drawback, and that’s individual turn-around time on any one read. A relatively simple book might still take me a few months to finish, depending on the type of book and the moods I’m in during that time. I may just not be drawn to a particular story or kind of book for weeks, which allows me to indulge in some other book for a while. But library books have the added fear-factor of cumulative fines and my own personal obsession with not inconveniencing others who might also want to read a book I’ve got checked out. This kind of forces–at least by the final renewal notice–a single-book reading process, just to make sure that I finish a given book by the time I have to return it, and that in turn slows down the progress on other books I have sitting around (usually ones I already own, because they don’t have due dates).

I think I’m going to have to come up with a rule about library books. I love them, because I can check out a bunch of books I might like to read but not necessarily own. On the other hand, I’m tired of having to focus on a particular book simply because I’ll lose it on a certain date. Other poly-readers may be faster than I am, but I keep a pretty leisurely pace. I don’t like feeling rushed, I like reading for the day, the mood, the genre. I hate having to read one specific book simply because it’s due in a few days, even if I’m enjoying the book otherwise.

And I simply cannot, cannot, cannot allow myself to check out multiple library books at once! No matter how much I love that armful of things to read (man, how I loved that feeling as a kid on summer vacation with a load of adventures piled up to my nose! And the accomplishment I felt when I brought them all back, finished!), I just don’t have the speed to do that right now. I’m in a perpetual “renew again” mode, and it’s no good, especially when most of the library stack just sits there while I try to gun through whichever one is due first.

I’ll just have to treat the library like Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders: touch nothing but the book I’ve reserved or decided ahead of time to get. NOTHING ELSE. And even then, I probably need to pick a month now and then to deliberately NOT check anything out so that I can focus on the books I already own (which look mournfully from the bookshelf and whisper, “please…please pick me…”).

On that note, the current reading list is:


The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2014- Same place I was last check-in, haven’t made any progress. It’s not because I don’t want to, either, because I’ve been thinking about the stories I’ve already checked out in here a lot, and I really, really want to absorb some more. But I own this one, so it’s been delayed by Due Date Syndrome. Top priority moving forward…


Selected Stories of O. Henry – …-_-

Osama – ……. O_O

Albedo One – This was supposed to be one of those “quick finish” reads I pick up at the end of a month to bump my reading numbers up a bit, but I have’t so much as cracked the cover in weeks. I need to just commit to getting it done and off this list. It’s a fine magazine, I just need to commit.

Authority – At last, one with some good progress! In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ll be finishing this one this week. Had a little holdup when the audiobook I’d checked out expired and got checked out by someone else, but am back on the ball and still loving it. VanderMeer does eerie paranoia so damned well, it gets under your skin in a big way. Love it!

The Girls – 184 of 355 – One of my multi-library book picks, and I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s got an unnerving darkness to it, but it’s as hypnotic as the guru it describes. I have to return it to the library today, but I’ve got a hold on the ebook, so once that comes in, I’ll be able to finish it.

The Soul of an Octopus – I’m still trying to figure out how to get my hands on the audiobook. I got a bit of birthday money, so I may just spring for it via audible (or do the free trial again, if I can, and pick it up that way). I’m aiming for this to be my next audiobook read after I wrap up Authority.


And on top of all those, I’ve got a few books coming in via the B-Day, namely Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin, 10 Count by Rihito Takarai (manga), The Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler, and of course I need to read I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas, (and Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace, and Long Hidden edited by Sofia Samatar and Thoraiya Dyer) which I got a month (or more) ago but have been so wrapped up in these library books, I haven’t had a chance to get into yet. But I will! And Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré, which I’ve been meaning to read for the whole summer. OY. No pressure, right?!

A bit late on the Sunday Circle, but better late than never! :)

What I’m working on this week: Mainly, choosing the October Story To Fix from my backlog of rough drafts, reading it over, and deciding on an edit plan. I think I’ve settled on one, but I’ve been bouncing back and forth between three the last few days, so I need to pick one and stick with it. Other than that, I got started with the short novel edit using Charlotte Nash’s PAPER plan, and am making up the scene and time maps. No deadline on that, just a general desire to keep it moving in the right direction on a day-to-day basis.

What’s inspiring me this week: Well, in a kind of navel-gazey way, I was a notebook dork today and covered my new writing-specific bullet-journal-ish notebook with a collage of all the various visual cues I could think of (ranging from Alex Andreev’s surreal and eerie artwork to Natalia Pierandrei’s delicate characters mixed with pictures of the Goblin King from Labyrinth, Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, Bernard Black from Black Books, Tim Gunn, Totoro, and a lovely poster for Stranger Things), and it turned out so much better than I’d expected, it’s kind of possessing me at the moment. I haven’t decorated a notebook like this for years (maybe even a decade), but I forgot how much fun falling head-first into visual inspiration could be. It’s kind of a mash of a lot of things I’ve found inspiring this past year or two.

Other than that, the Little Man’s insane language acquisition of the past two weeks. It’s like he’s this tiny computer and every word now is permanently implanted in his mind for future use–it’s amazing. I’m blown away by the capacity of the growing human mind!

Oh! And baking. Because I apparently do that now. My dad gave me some of his sourdough starter, and these dinner rolls are deadly.

What I’m avoiding this week:This week, we’re going to continue with the deliberately avoiding guilt, and continue to focus on letting be what will be. I did well last week, and am  striving to cement the trend. :)

Curious about the origins of the Sunday Circle? Check out Peter M. Ball’s website for more, and feel free to chime in there or here! :)

What I’m working on this week: Catching up again this week. Last week, I really struggled with trying to reinstate the Minimum Writing Time Per Day plan (even though it was only 20 minutes), and wound up drained and frustrated. Didn’t manage to get back on pace and re-energized until I once again went back to ignoring the Write Everyday principle. That used to work so well for me, but for whatever reason, currently it’s an energy and creativity sinkhole. After embracing the irregular schedule again, I did get the slash-edit done on “Circles,” and even liked it enough to submit it. It’s not bad short, but really talking about the heart of the story and the themes I like today, I realized what it was that bothered me about cutting out so much of the beginning.

So this week, I’m going back to the original version and trying a fairly intense trimming, but keeping the cut scenes intact. I’m hoping this will lighten the burden of the setup, while still keeping the character relationships and strengthened theme that made me love the story in the first place.

What’s inspiring me this week: Still going gangbusters on Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, and encountered an interesting proof-of-point while plunging into the last forty pages of Chiller by Sterling Blake. The first 80% of Chiller is a very classic thriller story, with a good serving of medical thriller thrown in. It’s realistic (mostly) and concrete and set very comfortably in ’90s California. And then, just after PP2, it jumps into the future, but it’s a kitchy, pulpy “books are now projected from cylinders onto synthetic paper” and “funky new genetically engineered plants” sci-fi that feels way more like the SF of the ’60s and ’70s with these magical best-of futures (and apparently in only 38 years…). It’s like slapping the last third of Why Call Them Back From Heaven? to the end of a modern-ish thriller. It’s…well, it’s weird, to say the least, and really discordant. I was mostly surprised by how vehemently I hated that transition, and in part it’s because there was no hint anywhere in the leading text that such a genre jump was going to happen, even though it’s been dealing (in a very realistic-ish way) with cryonics. But the sudden loss of everyday realism felt like such a huge betrayal. I’d wanted to see how the story–which was getting pretty bleak by the PP2 marker–would be resolved in a realistic/medical thriller context, and instead, it kind of jumps-ship into the highly fanciful, pseudo-idealized future within such a tight timeframe that none of the world-building resonates with any of the proceeding realism (I mean, 38 years to completely irradiate the need for doctors and hospitals? I mean, the Moon Landing is one thing, and I understand the way tech can flood into a culture, but somehow the author completely failed to make that transition believable within the timeframe he presents.) Unfulfilled promises–I kind of get on a gut-level why that’s so important, and what happens when you fail to deliver what you’ve set up.

And in complete contrast, the original Star Trek is on Netflix now, and I’m in love with it in all its cheesy, idealized future awesomeness. (I *like* fanciful futures, just not tacked at the end of my realistic(-ish) thrillers!)

What I’m avoiding: Not avoiding so much as reminding–I really need to let go of the Write Everyday adage for the time being. I’ve hammered it into my head for so many years, the klaxons are wailing that “You’re Doing It Wrong,” even though–as I’ve witnessed before–I often get almost as much if not more work done during the week (and often better, more thoughtful work) when I give myself time to percolate the ideas until I can’t resist putting them down. Maybe in the future I’ll have enough time back to do what I used to and take a chunk of quiet, uninterrupted time before a writing session to brainstorm and work up some excitement for the narrative task of the day, but until I can get enough headspace to do that, I’m going to have to change my practices and trust myself a little.