So we’re several hours into the latest Nor’easter, because apparently March is like, “It’s winter. Right? Right, guys? Winter? That’s still a thing, right? Here’s some snow!”


So far, we don’t even have enough on the ground to properly shovel, which is driving Bug absolutely nuts, and it’s driving me nuts, because Bug keeps asking every ten minutes if it’s time to shovel yet… I mean, I don’t really mind the snow so much. I’m a New England girl and it’d be nuts to totally hate snow up here. But that said, those few days the last couple of weeks where we had those beeeeautiful sixty-degree days? Yeah, that can come back and stay anytime.

Books, books, books, books, books…


I have a problem. That’s the first step, right? Admitting you have a problem?

Well, I do. And I blame my brother-in-law for setting me down this hard, cruel path, because he’s the one who introduced me to So, if you haven’t been introduced to this bewitching place, let me just say: many books are around the $3.75 mark, and if you buy $10 worth of books, shipping is free.


So that’s like, three books, and it’s free shipping, and this has been THE WORST thing for me to discover, because now anytime I want any book at all, I look on Thriftbooks first, and then add like five more books I wasn’t intending to buy yet, and there we go. A PROBLEM. Needless to say, I’ve added quite a few books to my collection now, but I will say, it’s kind of awesome for acquiring research-related books when I don’t want to spend a fortune. Also, I now think of books in $10 blocks…

Into the Chasm…

So as March, I’ve started the read-through of the novel’s 2nd draft/summary. It’s about forty pages of stream-of-consciousness, and at this point I’m just reading through to get the flow of the story back into my head and to map out the scenes and timeline. I’m about half-way done, and I gotta say, I’m having a lovely time. The story’s got some significant gaps I still need to address, but the overall flow and structure is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than the first draft. I’m optimistic. After I get this thing mapped out, my next step–I think–will be to make a problem list I need to fix, and then translate all the various scenes onto index cards to enable some combining/swapping and to stick new scenes and info in where needed. Once that’s done and organized (hopefully by the end of the month?), then I’ll start the actual prose-drafting of Draft 2.


In the past week, I submitted two short stories. Two.


YEAH THAT’S RIGHT. Oh man, I’ve been spending so much time working on the novel (draft one, rewrite plan, summary draft–my word, is it ever going to seem better than crap?) that it’s been quite a while since I got a submission out. AND IT FEELS GREAT! Oh man, how I miss those bittersweet rejections, the tang of a close-but-not-quite, that zesty thrill of turning a story right back around and marching it–the tears still wet on its cheeks!–back out the door to a new market. (Sorry, the metaphors started getting mixed up there, and it’d dinnertime, and whatever.)

I have missed it. So much.

Of course, for the next several months, all I’m expecting to work on is–you guessed it!–the novel DRAFT TWO. First there’s the summary read-through, the timeline map, the scene list, the attempts to wrangle all the problems into some seemingly reasonable solutions, and THEN–THEN! (I’m apparently really into em-dashes today)–onto the actual blood-and-tears drafting of fateful #2 (which will probably be worse than #1, and now I’ve apparently gone maudlin and also swapped em’s for parentheses…)

But I never thought I’d come to crave story rejections so much. I mean, if you’d told me any number of years ago that I would actually be excited to collect a rejection–even a form rejection! I’ll take it!–I would have laughed in your face. (No, I wouldn’t have, that’d be so rude and mean, and I’d be mortified, so instead I would have probably nodded, laughed, smiled awkwardly, and privately rolled my eyes.) But it’s true! Madness, perhaps, brought on by the long hours of novel-work, but still. It’s the proof, though, right? The evidence that you’re trying, you’re putting work out there, and even if it’s not hitting home, it’s still proof that you’re serious about this whole career thing. (Not that spending months writing a novel isn’t proof of seriousness, but it’s a hell of a longer time before you get much feedback–even bad feedback!)

But of course, almost immediately after the rush of submitting, I start checking my email for the response like a madwoman…


So I got crazy lucky last week and managed to submit not only February’s short story, but ALSO a random second short flash piece, which I wrote Thursday on the fly, tweaked a bit, and sent out Friday. Oh, short fiction submitting, how I’ve missed you!

What am I working on this week?: Of course, this week, we’re back to novel revision process after having rested the summary draft for a month. This week, I need to wade into the read-through and start the time-map/scene list. If I get half-way through this week, that’ll be excellent.

What is inspiring me this week?: Just finished reading The Letters of Vincent van Gogh which was incredibly thoughtful. I really enjoyed his ruminating on art, color, and religion, and am still processing it. The letters are so intimate, it really feels like you’ve been having a conversation with him one-on-one. Now I really want to see that oil-painted animated bio-pic/movie about him.

Also just watched Meru on Netflix, about the eponymous peak and a climbing team’s attempt to be the first to make the summit. It’s a fascinating documentary about commitment, evaluation of risk, the heights of human aspiration, and the nitty-gritty of what it actually takes to climb a nearly vertical peak for nearly a week. I’m not afraid of heights, per se, but there were more than a few shots that had my stomach dropping with vertigo (I’m pretty sure most of my stress-dreams involve either big waves or incredibly steep mountains). But it really captures that obsessive nature one would need to do something like that, the absolute (and death-defying) fearlessness, and–as one climber states–a bad memory that forgets how hard and terrifying things were the last time. But I do so love movies like this, and have a number of books on my shelf (harvested from Thriftbooks) about various climbing expeditions. It’s beautiful, too, and also rather horrifying. But mostly beautiful.

What action do I need to take?: Just need to get back into a regular routine after Bug got a bad cold last week that threw off the usual pattern of life. Need to read in the evenings again, too, because that very easily slips by the way-side. So: regular hours, and reading in the evening.

So… last month was a bad month for reading, for some reason. The good habits I’d established in January kind of fell apart in the face of vacation-time and watching the Winter Olympics in the evenings, and then unexpected (but thankfully short-ish lived) sick-y-ness, and I never quite got back on track. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading at all, I just haven’t been finishing things (and I’ve been naughty and started a new book, too, because, why not?). I’m very close to finishing a couple books, I just need to force myself to engage with them exclusively for a bit, and I’ve been bad about that.

But in spite of all that, I did finish two books this month (And Be a Villain, by Rex Stout; The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, by–well, van Gogh, but edited by somebody else). The Stout was a standard Nero Wolfe, and just what I needed to get my Archie Goodwin/Wolfe fix. It’s all about character and world in those, and one simply wants to live with these folks from time to time.

The Letters was surprisingly fascinating. As I’ve recently gotten myself back into art lately, and started edging back towards oil painting, like I used to dabble in, it was enlightening to read van Gogh’s rumination on art, oils, and the artistic life, as well as religion and other famous artists. What struck me most was how incredibly ordinary he seems in his letters, which probably sounds stupid to a degree (of course, he was an “ordinary” guy like most people who do great works), but the creative concerns he expresses are so much the same concerns every creative person I’ve ever spoken to has talked about. It’s a bit weird, reading it in retrospect, because of course he has no idea how successful his work will someday be, that he’ll be a household name, and he struggles during this period with relative anonymity and self-doubt. He’s incredibly sensitive, and his discussions of the utilization of color are brilliant, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed his thoughts on religion, too. He seems like the kind of person one would very much like to meet, though might have difficulty sustaining a lasting relationship with. Towards the end, obviously, things get pretty heavy, which was what slowed me down–the end of the Arles period, moving into the asylum, and then back up to the Paris area so briefly. If only he’d lived a little longer, with the way he worked, one can only dream about the kinds of things he might have done next.

But without further ado: the list of what I currently have on the “Reading” pile:


The Year’s Best DF & H 2014 – A good chunk into this one, and got through the fabulous “Silence in the Forest of Shades” by Brandon Sanderson (it’s one of those stories that both delights and secretly crushes your spirit because it’s so damned fun and fine and you think, ok: will I ever write anything a quarter as fun and fine as this?), which was holding me up a bit because it’s closer to a novelette, but I really do just need to set aside some time to focus on reading it. Maybe it’ll become by “before bed” reading…

Bored and Brilliant – This really should be an easy finish. It’s a quick-ish read, and I just need to plow through it to wrap it up.

Clockwork Angel – This, too, should be an easy finish. It’s long, and I’m not super far into it yet (maybe a fifth?), but it’s easy reading. This might compete for “before bed” reading, provided I can get into bed early enough to get some progress made…

Two Years, Eight Months… – I’m really enjoying this audiobook, but for some reason I’m finding myself not making time to listen to the last few hours of it. I need to get back in the habit of doing dishes right after putting Bug to bed, as that’s when I got a lot of listening reading done before. (And I need to remember to listen before it expires…again…)

The Everyday Parenting Toolkit – This is an interesting read, and one I feel like I seriously need right now, as Bug and I have been clashing a little more often than usual over basic daytime/bedtime routines. It’s also a short book, so I probably just need to commit some time to it. I just find that with the van Gogh letters and other non-fiction kicking about on my “reading” list, I tend not to grab this one.

The Marriage of Cadmus & Harmony – I will finish this book, I will finish this book, I will finish this book. I love it, dang it, but it’s not a quick read (at least, it’s an easy read, but it makes so much think happen, I often have to stop, because the brain fills up). I just need to set aside a little time every evening to read five, ten pages and chip away at it. I love it SO DARN MUCH, I just need to nibble at it.

The End of Fashion – I started this one this month, because as anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m fascinated by fashion even in as much as I’m miserably unfashionable myself. Does that make me an “armchair fashionista”? But I quite enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to receiving another non-fiction about the fashion industry pretty soon called Overdressed, about the fast fashion mega-complex.

Lumberjanes #2 – I haven’t actually read #1 yet, so I hope I can still pick-up and go with this one, but I’ve been meaning to check it out for ages, and my library had them on ebook, so I snagged this one (#1 was checked out). I must say I HATE HATE HATE reading this on a phone, but at least I can zoom the phone with more ease than I can reading it in my browser. Still…buh… I would really need an iPad to read e-comics properly…

Other books I may start this month, because I’m feeling very naughty…


Had an okay week this week, though I hit a wall that threw me for a loop on Thursday. Managed to pull myself out of that by recognizing some of the inherent strengths in the original version, and am plowing ahead on the word-cull to try to get the original version into a submittable form.

As for the yearly plan, I did manage to jot down a very, very (VERY) rough breakdown that I’m hoping will at least keep 2018’s goals in mind as I move through the various months. It will likely change as things either take longer (or shorter–it could happen), so it’s in no way hard and fast, but it gives me a rough idea of what to shoot for:

FEBRUARY – Submit one new short story
MARCH – Edit summary draft, make general changes to get in what needs to be there and what needs to be fixed, prior to:
APRIL – JULY – Prose Draft #2 of the novel project
AUGUST – Submit one new short story
SEPTEMBER – Submit one new short story
OCTOBER – Research and Reading for new project
NOVEMBER – Write Draft #1 Summary Draft for new project during NANOWRIMO
DECEMBER – Free month/Catch-up Month (Decembers are always trainwrecks time-wise anyway)

What I’m working on this week: Plowing ahead on the word-cull edit, though the hubby’s on vacation this week, so the likelihood of finishing the cutting edit is probably a long shot. If I can get a minimum of half an hour of editing work in a day, I’ll consider it a major achievement.

What’s inspiring me this week?: Well, it’s Winter Olympic week, so I’m all about watching people half my age do crazy awesome things with knives strapped to their feet. I mean, have you ever seen anything as crazy beautiful as the double-helix Evgenia Medvedeva does on that second jump in the solo short program?! I didn’t even know they could jump with their arms up.

And this weekend, the gift that keeps on giving struck again: my folks got the hubby and me a turntable for Christmas, and since then, it seems like everyone we talk to about it has a stash of records in their attic or in storage that they are only too happy to donate to the cause (aka: our building up our library). This weekend, we raked in a ton from my parents’ neighbors: Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry (Johnny B. Goode, of course), Blondie, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Willie Nelson, along with some Vivaldi and some Beethoven, among others. And we’ve been absorbing those bit by bit, which has been an absolute delight. I don’t think a day slips by that we don’t listen to at least one album.

What action do I need to take this week?: We’re gearing up to get all of our passports done/updated, which we’ve been talking about for (literally) years, but never quite make time for. So this week, we’re trying to at least get that tackled.

Just a quick pop-in this week, just so I can say I did it!

What I’m working on this week: The summary draft for Draft 2 of the novel is done and cooling, so it’s onto something else for the month of February. I’d really like to get a new short story written and submitted this month if at all possible, so that’s my primary goal. With that in mind, I’ve got a rough idea sketched out, though it’s been so long since I wrote a short story that I’m a weeee bit worried I don’t remember how to do it, so I’m going to prioritize reading short stories this week. If I can get the prose-draft written this week, I should be in good shape to polish and edit over the next few.

What’s inspiring me this week: Just finished reading The Wave by Susan Casey (about freak waves and big wave surfing), and other than a penchant for really annoying/overbearing metaphors from time to time, it was a very interesting non-fiction read that taught me so much about what I don’t know about waves and wave structure. (For example, I didn’t realize that to study wave structure, you basically have to be a quantum physicist with a knack for chaos theory.) I completely enjoyed it, though, and it’s definitely inspired the story I’m working on now.

I also just finished Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami, which I did not realize is a direct sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase (which, thankfully, I have already read, though it’s been a long time). I really enjoyed this one, not quite enough to dethrone my favorite of all time (1Q84), but it was a great example of Murakami at his creepy/surreal best. I just love the dynamic of totally mundane real-world (like, seriously mundane, borderline boring–except somehow it’s more meditative/relaxing than boring to me) and bonkers, off-the-wall bizarreness that comes in like a swift left hook right when you think everything’s just going to stay normal. I freaking love that combination.

What action do I need to take this week?: It would probably not be a bad idea to sit down and do a rough annual checkpoint to determine what year will look like, since I’d pretty much figured out: January = summary draft; February = not summary draft. But beyond that, I haven’t really thought about how to fit in the various goals I’ve made for the year.

At the beginning of this year, I knew I wanted to make a serious effort to read more than I did last year. I picked up some good lessons learned about how to build the habit (or destroy it, as the case more often was), and have structured my time to accommodate more time with the written word. So far, it’s working pretty well: I’ve finished four books this year (not amazing, but far more solid than last year), and the habits have held up for the first month. I need to get a little better about the reading log, but at least I’m reading regularly!

To start of 2018, I scrapped a few books that had been on the roster for months last year that for whatever reason I just hadn’t gotten to yet. I still intend to get to them this year, but I’m not focusing on them for the time being. Right now, my list includes:


*And Be a Villain – Just picked this one up from my mom a few weeks ago, because I’m going through an Archie Goodwin withdrawal. It’s an easy read, I just spend the last couple weeks focusing on finishing a couple other books, so it hasn’t gotten the love it deserves. I’m hoping this one will be done by the end of the month.

*Clockwork Angel – This one I’m reading as part of a series of clockwork-fantasy related books, partially market research, partially because I’ve never read anything by Cassandra Clare before, and feel like I ought to. I’m about a fifth of the way into this one, and hope to finish it this month.

Bored and Brilliant – Started this one a bit back, and it’s interesting-ish, though not quite as engaging as I’d expected. But it’s not a slow read, so I’ll try to get this one off the docket pretty quickly.

*The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh – I’ve been reading this one since JULY 2017 (AAAAAH!) so I really need to just commit to it. It’s actually incredibly interesting as an insight into a great artistic mind, and the common artistic challenges he describes in his letters to his brother really make a fascinating portrait of him as a person.

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony – I love, love, love this book, and YES, AGAIN, I just need to commit to it. What I’ll probably have to do is pick one “challenge” book per month that I seriously need to finish, and then load the rest of the month with things I think will be easier to finish. So I may not finish this one this month if I’m tackling the Van Gogh, but if I don’t, it’s ON next month!

*The Everyday Parenting Toolkit – I just picked this one up again after several months (having set it aside to read what felt like more urgently finishable things). But I’m really enjoying it. It’s a book recommended by my mother (a mental health councilor) for working with (rather than against) a feisty toddler, of which Bug most definitely is. Already even some of its little recommendations have smoothed out a lot of back and forth nagging (Here are your shoes, no your shoes, yes, come put them on, Bug. BUG. Shoes! Yes! Now! Here. Do you need help? BUG! Yes, shoes now. Put them on. Yes. We’re going. Yes, you need shoes. YES. PUT. THEM. ON.), and I suspect some of the other things I’m learning will be helpful in future years, too, even for a kid who at least thus far is an ordinarily defiant three year old and otherwise a total sweetie. This one’s pretty short, and I’m motivated, so I suspect I’ll be able to finish this this month.

Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights – Okay, I am like…maybe two or three hours away from being done with this audiobook. Its a very engaging book, but it’s not Bug appropriate to listen to out loud, so I’m much more limited on when I can tune in, and then there’s the joy of holds/returns on the library app I use for audiobooks, which means I’m now stuck in a waitlist to get it back so I can finish the last two sections… If I possibly can, I’m going to try to finish this one this month, but I’ll have to see when it’s available again.

*The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2014 – I promised myself this year I would read several of these to get back into shape for writing short fiction again (MAN do I miss getting rejections! How mad is that?!). I’ve decided to start with this one, because I started it a long while ago and am about a third through it. I don’t know if I’ll finish it this month, but I’m going to try to get through some of it.

*Starred = Focus books. I feel like I do better finishing books I’m poly-reading if I have a handful that are prioritized over others. So I’ve got five starred books, and the others may have to wait until next month, depending on how my reading’s going.

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