So I was pretty pumped last week when, despite being sick, I managed to still get some writing work done. I was all like “Yeah! Proof that I’m a real writer!” and all that jazz. I’m not saying that post is what turned an unpleasant cold into THE PLAGUE but you know, sometimes one’s gotta wonder. Anyway, spent this entire weekend curled up in the fetal position on the couch mainlining eight hours of The Handmaid’s Tale, along with some Hoarders and Property Brothers. Every time I think I’m starting to hit the upswing, a new wave of mucus rolls in and I’m down for it again. Yesterday started out good, but got progressively worse until it was almost as bad as Friday night, so although I’m feeling a bit rallied this morning, I’m dreading what that may mean for later.

Oh, and our car brakes are apparently not working great, and the mechanic can’t get it in until Thursday. Yay. When it rains it pours. At least my folks were kind enough to loan us their car for a couple days, which at least means we’re not driving around on said weird clunky brakes.

Also the house is trashed and I’m too embarrassed to post a picture of what our kitchen looks like right now, so I’ve provided a quick sketch. Just imagine it continues to the left for about three feet…

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#writerswrite #sometimes #beingsicksucks

I’m going to try to write a little today, but honestly, I’m aiming more for the single sentence-range of just saying I opened the document, dabbled a bit, and closed it for posterity. That still counts, right? *ugh*

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Well, the Bug’s cold finally caught up with me after last week’s latest battle with Croup (yay). It’s that awful kind of cold, too, where you’re completely stuffed up but snot is just streaming out of your nose and there’s nothing you can do about it. Buh. That said, this morning after dragging my butt out of bed and getting Bug off to school, I set my tail down on the couch under a nice fluffy blanket, stuffed a tissue up my nose, tucked in the cat, and pounded away on the novel rewrite.

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This is what commitment looks like, ammiright?

I got it done, which I need to document for those other days when I’m whining about how I don’t take writing seriously enough (*cough*bull*cough*), and to myself, I say: “This is what commitment looks like, bitches.” #writerswrite

At least I’ll be able to look back at this picture and say, oh yeeeeah, I did get my daily writing done even when I felt like shit… I don’t always, but today I did. Good for me! Now for tea and Property Brothers for my last little bit of quiet for the day…

Here at the Slater household, we’re in full-gear prepping for the holidays. There are potatoes to mash, pie crust to refrigerate, and veggies to chop (though thankfully no turkey to bake–my illustrious father smoked us one! Woohoo!). But since it’s been such a dreadfully long time since I posted an update, I figured I should probably check in.

Lots of things have been inspiring me right now, not the least of which is the Men At Work album Cargo, which is currently what’s on our U-Turn turntable.

(My favorite song is actually “Overkill,” because my word have you ever heard a more appropriate ballad for those of us wrestling with anxiety?)

But in addition, as I’m knee deep in Christmas projects, I’ve been drooling over so many knitting projects and contemplating the additional skill-add of learning how to crochet. Oh, and Andy and I have been watching 1950’s era Sci-Fi movies lately (most recently Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers and The Blob), which has been a hoot. The Blob was actually a lot more fun than I expected. And I just finished my most recent journal, and started the new one this morning! Oh, and I’ve been really enjoying adding practice sketches to my daily bullet-ish journal. They’re not all good, but I enjoy flipping through them, and they’re a great way to fill up unused space on back pages. I’m trying to sketch daily, but so far, that’s been a bit elusive. Couple times a week, at least.

Of course, the one thing that is not inspiring me at the moment is my novel WIP, which after a great 35k start in September, I ended up scrapping for being way too stupidly complicated and overly long, went back to the drawing board and started over (several times–and about to try again starting probably after the holidays). Unfortunately, the pause in October–writing a new short story for an antho. call–let me get just enough distance from Attempt #1 of Draft 3 to recognize all its obvious weaknesses. I do think the decision to simplify will be better in the end, but I’m not going to lie–walking away from 35k (and my hopes for finishing the draft in 2018) was pretty painful. I did this 20k-scrap thing on Draft 1, too–(you may remember this, if you were following along)–and the draft that followed was much better. I may just have to accept that for right now, I totally suck at novel beginnings, and that’s okay. We’ll see if this new tweak brings me closer to a workable jumping point (Draft 3 is a major rewrite, with a different character POV, major alterations to the plot and character motivations).

So that’s been frustrating, but I’ll work through it–just means the end is a little further off than I’d hoped. But the October story turned out pretty good, I think, so I’m pleased with that. It was a story I’d had kicking around in my head for quite a while, but the anthology call gave me a bit of a conceptual focus for it, so that was great.

Otherwise it’s gross and icy here in New England, and I’ve got pie crust and gravy to make. I’m hoping to do a Poly-Reader Notes soon, so look for that in the coming week or so!

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it, and a happy End of November to everybody else! :D

Since I started my Poly-Reader Notes posts, cataloguing the running list of “currently being read” books I have cycling at any given point, I’ve always intended to write summaries of the ones I’ve finished in a given month. Usually, I forget. So I’m going to start posting brief* End-Note summaries of any books I’ve finished this month, simply to force myself to make note of any take-aways.

 

The Castle of Llyr – Bug and I read this one before bedtime for most of this month, and it’s been great fun revisiting a childhood favorite of mine. Mostly, I was pleasantly surprised that it’s not just a wholly “rescue the princess” story. I mean, it is largely, but I hadn’t remembered how active Eilonwy is in her own rescue at the end (arguably, even, saving everyone, including herself, when the situation is the absolute most dire and the heroes are truly incapable of surmounting their enemy without her). And then, of course, there’s just Alexander’s tight middle-grade prose, delightful magical beings, and truly heartwarming characters. MAN, I love this book!

Work Clean  Read this one after hearing some high praise for it by a number of online creative friends, and I’ve got to say, this one was amazing. While I’m not certain it’s entirely the most applicable for creative work, it contains a lot of food for thought, and I gotta say, practicing the “clean as you go” method in the kitchen has seriously made my usually hideous pile of dishes vanish…FOR THREE WEEKS. It’s sustainable! WHAT?! I love having a clean kitchen! It’s a whole load of stress off my shoulders, and it’s not even HARD. This is what they talk about when they talk about “life hacking.” Seriously. It’s also a great read if you have any tendency towards ADD, I suspect. It offers some simple ways to focus your energies without getting distracted by the numerous other things you could be working on. I’ve found it very helpful so far, even as just a rough template, and plan on buying a copy of this book for myself to both annotate and lend out to friends I think could really benefit from it’s organizational ideas.

Barrayar Oh, Vorkosigan Saga, how do I love thee? I cannot count the ways. This is my pick-me-up, bubblegum reading these days. If you know me at all, you know I tend to avoid series. I don’t know why, though I suspect it’s because I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer length and bulk of an extended series. I don’t know why it strikes me as a contract–thou shalt finish the series thou starteth–because I won’t keep reading a series I don’t like. *sigh* I don’t know. Call it a weird tick. I just don’t typically approach series. BUT ZOMG I’m so glad I picked up the audiobook of Shards of Honor this past year. Seriously, these stories have made my life better, simply by being so damned fun and charming and awesomely space-opera-y. LOVE. IT. This one is the book between the previous two I’ve read (SoH, and Warrior’s Apprentice), so now I’ve got all of Miles’ backstory. And I love Grover Gardener’s voice: he just…reads. And it reminds me so much of my mom or dad reading to me when I was a kid–slight voice shifts for gender, and tone, but subtle, never distracting. I’ve learned, however, that I cannot listen to one of these books prior to my day’s writing session, because then everything I reread or write starts to sound like Grover Gardener. Which is not bad, but not quite right for what I’m currently writing.

Quakeland – This one’s the latest in what I’m now calling my sci-adventure genre kick (see also: Blind Descent, One Breath, Into Thin Air, The Wave, Shadow Diversand Heart of the Storm). (Although I link these to Amazon, I would highly recommend you check their availability on thriftbooks.com to get them used and cheap!) However, while I learned a fair bit about human-induced quakes and a bit about earthquakes in general (like the rupture of one can create shifts in pressure that make distant faults rupture, too), I don’t come away awed. Maybe I’d set my expectations too high after seeing Kathyrn Miles on The Daily Show, but I didn’t feel all that enlightened like I did after almost all of the above mentioned books. Maybe I already know a fair amount about earthquakes, but I’m no seismologist, so I think I just wanted a little…more. And it felt a bit more sensationalist than the others (even The Wave, which was where I learned quite a bit about tsunamis but also just the mechanics of wave science and rogue waves in general–fascinating). This one felt like: “Ooooo, earthquake! You’re all gonna die! OH NO! SCIENCE-ISH-NESS!” I don’t doubt Miles’ science or the facts presented in the book, I just felt like a lot of the tension in it was created more by speculated worst-case scenarios, which–while supported by a good deal of fact, is still just speculation (one of the points highlighted in Quakeland is, in fact, the unpredictability and odd behavior and how little we really know about how and when earthquakes strike, so…) I don’t know. I really wanted to love this one, and I wouldn’t quite say it was dull, just…a bit flat. Not *cough cough* earthshaking.

Damn Fine Story – Finally rolled through the last couple segments in this book yesterday, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it. It’s very functional, which I suspect will make it a book I do revisit a lot in the future for specific issues. I really enjoy Chuck Wendig’s philosophy on characters and plot, and this books breaks all that down in minute detail, which is great. Yet somehow…I don’t know, I struggled a bit to get through it. I don’t know if Wendig’s off-the-cuff style just gets old after a few chapters, though I found myself chuckling aloud more than a few times, or if the book is SO packed with information that it just feels heavy. It feels heavy. That’s kind of my take. It’s got so much information and good advice, I feel like I may not have processed it all: like the mindcup just filled to the brink after the first couple chapters, and after that, everything just kind of slops out. But is that a bad thing? I don’t think so? I gave it three stars on Goodreads, though info-wise, it probably should be a four, but then it was just such a chunk to chew through, so…? Your mileage may vary. I’m left feeling like I read this book too early–like my brain isn’t yet ready to absorb what’s being dealt–but I also feel like I may come back to this one in a couple years when I’ve developed a little more and be like OMG THIS BOOOOOOK GUYZ!!! So, yeah?

*HAHAHAHAHA–you thought I meant ACTUALLY BRIEF. Oh boy. *wipes tear*

Well, we’ve caught the crud again (yay preschool!), so I’m going to keep this post a bit on the short side (and, given the madness of the past few days, hopefully on the light side!). Here’s a few things I thought you might find interesting from the past week:

First up, ZOMG, they’re doing Dawn by Octavia Butler as a TV show. If you haven’t read the book, DO YOURSELF A LOVING FAVOR AND READ IT. Butler is one of my favorite writers of SF. I love her stuff. Dawn showed me how aliens could be interesting again. // Upcoming in October is this comic book, titled These Savage Shores which looks like an amaaaaazing genre take on colonialism, and the article that follows the announcement by author Ram V is wonderful reading. Cannot wait for this to come out! // Then there’s this Soviet Walking Excavator, courtesy of my husband on a particularly slow night float shift, because he knows I love Miyazaki-ish robots and OH MAN do I love this freaky thing. // This article on Eight Absurdities We Force on Female Characters was fascinating reading, and definitely a must-check-out for anyone writing stories staring women. // And this last oddity, because the first time I saw it, I almost peed myself laughing, though I feel so bad for the poor guy who looks almost as scared of the chicken as the chicken is of him! And I really needed to laugh a bit today. And it’s Toto, so…:

Hope your weekend is germ free and delightful! :D

A while ago, I started following author Sophie Overett’s blog via the Sunday Circle group hosted by Peter M. Ball, and I became totally obsessed with her “Friday Finds” posts. They always consisted of a brief list of cool things, from videos, to photo galleries, to articles, and inevitably there were at least two or three things in any list that seriously made my weekends more informed and, honestly, just more fun. Sadly, she’s discontinued her blog for the time being to focus on other work (completely understandable–blogging takes a lot of time, I’m realizing!), but I thought perhaps I could keep the memory of those delightful Friday Find posts alive here, reincarnated as Random Inspirations posts. I don’t know that they’ll be every week (I’ll try), and I don’t know if they’ll end up on Fridays or on Wednesdays when we all need a little distraction from the grind, but we’ll play it by ear. And while I can’t promise to be as epic a curator of the interwebs as Overett herself, perhaps I can share a few of the cool things I come across from time to time.

Like this post on The Cut about Anna Delvey, a conwoman extrodinaire who took the New York socialite scene by storm (and by wallet) / or this song I’ve become obsessed with by Empathy Test because damn, it’s so sad, but so pretty /  or this post by Chuck Wendig about the evolution of a mad twitter feed horror story between him and author Sam Sykes that is now a movie I REALLY want to see. Do yourself a favor and read the original feed story, too–it’s delightful.

P.S. – And do yourself a favor and check out all of Sophie Overett’s “Friday Finds” here!

That’s right, I’m sick. Because, of course, Bug started school last week, and then got sick, and that means I’m sick, too. (Fun Fact: In the sickness-induced zombie apocalypse, the mothers go first.) But despite this, I at least managed to write 1k on the novel rewrite and 700 on a short story rewrite I’ve been avoiding. So not a terrible day, productivity-wise.

I definitely need to spend more time just thinking before I tackle a chapter. But that means I need to schedule time for thinking, which is difficult. Especially when sick. But! I remind myself: I wrote even with my nose pouring snot out like a fountain, so that’s got to be some kind of “serious author” bingo point, right?

And now, excuse me. I’m going to stuff tissues up my nose and watch Victoria…