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Thoughts from Home

So, my blog posts from last week were scheduled a few weeks ahead of time (since we were supposed to be on a cruise last week), and while we did end up sneaking off to Moab before everything shut down, I still feel like, as time went on, they felt more and more disconnected.

Disconnected from reality, I mean.

A St. Patty’s post when St. Patty’s was all but cancelled. And then a post about editing and revision when everyone I know’s productivity has tanked.

Cuz, I mean, the whole thing’s inescapable, really. It’s everywhere you look. Schools closed, work changed or gone completely. Worries about paying bills or whether or not there will be enough food at the grocery store to feed your family. Fears about leaving the house, and nowhere really to go if you do leave.

(I did go out a little while ago. I ordered some toy dinosaurs from a local craft store for science experiment purposes to entertain the small, mobile ones and had received a notification that my order was ready, but by the time I got there they’d already closed for the day. And I went to my favorite coffee shop, because I want to make sure my favorite small businesses are doing okay, but it was empty and quiet and sad–they aren’t allowing more than five people in the store at one time–so now I am also sad.)

I’m sure you guys have run into this too. How…everything is different, and how routines you didn’t even know you had have been completely upended.

It’s really been hitting home the last few days. Especially now that I’ve got the small, mobile ones all the time, and I’ve somehow got to educate them enough that they’re prepared to move on to the next grade if school doesn’t actually happen again this semester.

(I mean, yes, I’m getting virtual lesson plans from their teachers, but it’s nowhere like what they’d be getting if they were actually at school. And that’s to say nothing of the missed socialization. I’m a super introvert, and even I am feeling the isolation.)

(I wrote physical letters yesterday.)

(I think the room I wrote my grandma might be a little punchy.)

I’m also not getting as much done as I would like, though I’ve quit checking the news a million times a day, at least. But it’s not all bad. I finished my drawing class for the month. The watercolors I’ve been doing in the trip journal are pretty dang good. And I finished the draft of my scifi horror novella.

Focus on the good, right?

I hope you all are doing okay, all things considered, squiders. Let’s keep our heads up as best we can.

See you on Thursday.

I’m Not Ignoring You, I’m Just Digging Through My Past


Yes, yes, I know I said one week off for the holidays, and it’s been two.

I blame my computer.

Well, more specifically, I blame a number of things that have made it so I couldn’t get at my computer.

It started the weekend before Christmas, when my spouse decided he didn’t want mess visible when friends came over and so buried my desk and chair in it instead (it was behind a wall, so out of sight). And blocked my access to desk/chair by putting the filing cabinet in the way.

And then, you know, Christmas.

And then the spouse decided the office was a place where things went to clutter and had a bit of breakdown, which resulted in me trying to re-arrange things to make the clutter less obvious.

Which did not work.

(Meanwhile, my desk/chair are still buried/blocked.)

So I did some research on storage solutions, made several layouts with different desks/bookcases, and eventually we picked one and went to get furniture.

Which was an unmitigated disaster.

While I had picked furniture from a specific place (IKEA), we agreed it wouldn’t hurt to try a few other places as well, which turned into us going into every furniture store between here and IKEA (surprisingly a lot) even though most of them were too expensive/the wrong style/didn’t even sell office furniture.

By the time we finally got to IKEA, we were exhausted, so we went home.

And the next morning, we went back. We examined all the color options, made storage bin decisions, and came away with a plan for at least the storage part, if not the desk part. But by the time we made it to the warehouse to pick up the bookcases, the color we wanted sold out.

So we went home again. But later that night, my spouse had come up with a new plan, so we went back and bought bookcases in a different color, and came home again.

At which point spouse decided he hated everything and wanted to return it all and, I dunno, wallow in the clutter.

So, long story short (too late), I have been to IKEA six times in fives days. I have changed out colors of various things, sizes of bookcases for other sizes, returned a number of bins (we can’t count, apparently) and also returned a number of impulse buys (IKEA is dangerous that way).

But I do now have storage shelves bought and built, and a desk (smaller, so it’s harder to let clutter build up on it), and also coincidentally have a new monitor, keyboard, and mouse, because it’s hard to stop the spouse once he gets going.

Right now, my set-up looks like this.

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Looks pretty nice, right?

But what you don’t see is this:

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This is my dining room right now, which currently has everything from the office that has not been put back in the office. It looks so bad because I’ve been going through bins and drawers and whatnot to see what’s in there.

And, good Lord, it’s my entire adult life. Sticky notes with random story ideas that are no longer connected to any context. Letters from people I lost contact with years ago. Presentations and homework from college. My first Myers-Briggs test from my first job after school. Old drafts of stories that have since been rewritten. Workouts cut out of magazines a decade ago that I’ve never done once. Newspapers of various things (including an article about Nano from 2006 featuring a picture of me, and a different one of just my hands typing). So much stuff, just shoved in a bin or a drawer or wherever, and then forgotten.

And it’s hard slogging. Do I throw this stuff away, knowing I haven’t touched it in years? Do I keep some, to remember again next time I go through my stuff? How many mementos of your life can you keep before it overwhelms your present?

So, anyway, I’m digging through that. And through everything that built up while I didn’t have computer access. But I am moving, and by Tuesday I should be back on our normal schedule, fingers crossed.

How were your holidays, squiders?

Sample Covers Continued

So, I got a lot of feedback on the covers, and none of it was consistent, aha.

(I am aware I posted yesterday. Shhhhh.)

So I made covers for the first three books so I (and everybody else) had a better idea of what they’d look like as a series, and here’s what I have now:

But I also realized that I wasn’t 100% on the titles for the first two books. Which do you like better:

  • How to Find Story Ideas
  • An Easy Guide to Finding Story Ideas

And:

  • How to Outline
  • An Easy Guide to Outlining

I unfortunately was not consistent in my titling when I was doing the revisions, so most of the books are one or the other (Easy Guide goes with Story Ideas, Outlining, and Working on Multiple Projects, How to goes with Consistency, just plain Guide goes with Submission and Publication, and then Common Writing Mistakes and Writing Around Life are just off on their own anyway). I should probably pick on or the other.

I like “How to” cuz it’s straight and to the point (and probably what someone will type into the search bar). But I also like “Easy Guide” because it implies that these are easy, short reads (which they are, except for the submission book which is a monster) so people know what they’re getting.

Minutiae, gets you every time.

Anyway, I’d love your feedback!

Hooray for Eurovision

Squiders, you would not believe how long it has taken me to get this written.

My community has gone through a lot in the last week, and while we’re working toward getting back to “normal,” it has been draining, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

As such, I haven’t gotten anything remotely creative done. You want to know what I’ve done related to writing since last Tuesday? I finished reading through the agent section in children’s writers market guide.

That is literally it.

I haven’t even wanted to read.

I don’t think I’ve ever not wanted to read before.

(I’ve been getting around this by listening to an audiobook. NPCs by Drew Hayes. One of my Goodreads groups is reading it for May and the library only had an audio version. I haven’t gotten very far, but I am getting somewhere, at least.)

Trauma sucks and I dislike it.

But fixating on negative things is bad and is bad for your health, so thank the world for aligning perhaps the most perfectly distracting event on Earth with this terrible time: Eurovision.

I love Eurovision. I love the concept, I love the variety of songs presented every year, and I especially love when something noteworthily out-there is in the running.

The larger, mobile one (home a lot lately, due to said traumatic events) is watching it with me. After the first semi-final, he’s backing Iceland (I wish I could be surprised, but this is a child who used to fall asleep when I listened to symphonic metal when he was an infant). I listened to all the songs so I am backing Norway all the way.

This is a bop and I love it unconditionally.

We haven’t gotten around to watching the second semi-final yet (and the U.S. is country-locked on the Eurovision YouTube for some unholy reason, so we’ve been watching on a Swedish television channel’s website), but we’ll get there.

(If you are unfamiliar with Eurovision, you poor person, here’s a pretty good summary. I think I became aware of it some years ago when the video of Dschinghis Khan’s Moskau was circulating around the ‘net.)

So, thank you, Eurovision, for being there and being awesome.

R.I.P. Opportunity

I woke up yesterday to the news that NASA had officially declared Opportunity to be dead, which has made me sadder than I expected. I was working in the aerospace industry when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars back in 2004, and I remember it being a very exciting time at work.

(I did not work on Mars-related stuff at the time, but it was all anyone wanted to talk about. You couldn’t get three feet around the office without the rovers coming up in one form or another.)

And, to be honest, I hadn’t thought about the rovers in years. Spirit was declared dead a long time ago, and then Curiosity was launched, and Opportunity slipped my mind.

For a rover meant to last 3 months, the fact that it lasted almost 15 years is pretty dang amazing. And NASA did such a good job of getting us all to care about some little (I say little facetiously–neither Spirit or Opportunity is that small, and Curiosity is freaking huge) robots exploring on another planet.

But I will admit I cried a little, when I learned that Opportunity’s last message was “My batteries are low and it is getting dark.” (And it makes me feel better to know I wasn’t the only one.)

I know it’s just a machine, but Godspeed, Opportunity. Thanks for all your hard work.

It seems to me you lived your life
like a rover in the wind
never fading with the sunset
when the dust set in.

Your tracks will always fall here,
among Mars’ reddest hills;
your candle’s burned out long before
your science ever will.#ThanksOppy. I owe you so much. pic.twitter.com/x0i5WqA9sL— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 13, 2019

Sinuses and Landsquid

Hey, squiders, hope you’re having a good February!

I had to have sinus surgery yesterday, but all things considered, it went well and I’m recuperating fine. However, I am a bit woozy and tired, so, while I hoped I would have the energy to blog today, I just…don’t.

But I did draw you a landsquid.

(He’s getting more done in the hospital than I did.)

Anyway, we should be back to normal on Thursday. Til then, I hope your week treats you well!

Sad Cake

We recently received a free trial of Netflix. I’m not a big television watcher, but in an effort to justify Netflix’s existence on our Roku, I’ve started watching The Great British Baking Show, which I’ve heard good things about.

Full disclosure: I am a horrible baker.

(Well, I bake a mean pie. My apple pie is apparently divine. I don’t actually know, because I don’t like pie and only bake them for other people.)

The other day, I was watching the GBBS with the small, mobile ones, who were actually way more into it than I thought they would be. I mean, it’s essentially a load of people with funny accents (but then, the younger one is rather into Peppa Pig, so perhaps the accents aren’t that weird to them) talking incomprehensibly about pastries and gluten and proofing and a ton of things I don’t understand, but hey. I was tired and they were staying put.

Then the bigger one proposed that we make a cake of our own.

My first instinct was to squash that idea like a bug, but parenting, much like improv, often involves saying “yes” to things you don’t want to, so I fished out a cookbook that seemed likely to have cake recipes (Better Homes and Gardens, 12th edition) and decided on chocolate sponge cake, since the people on GBBS are always making sponge cake.

It took us about two and a half hours, all told. And we ran completely out of sugar. But we baked that cake, and we let it cool, and we finally pried it out of the bundt pan, and…

sad cake

(We’ve eaten part of it. For solidarity.)

I’ve yet to figure out how to get a cake out of a bundt pan successfully. As you can see, the top stayed with the pan. And we definitely overcooked it. And the bigger mobile one apparently had grand plans to copy the show participants and create an elaborate scene on top with frosting and candy and what have you.

(This was circumvented by pointing out that we had no sugar and therefore could not make frosting, though it didn’t stop him from sticking several lollipops into it.)

It doesn’t taste terrible. But as far as cakes go, it’s pretty sad.

Are you a decent baker, squider? What’s your favorite recipe? The small, mobile ones have expressed interest in trying again once we’ve bought more sugar.

(Tips on getting cakes out of bundt pans? It doesn’t matter what kind of cake I’m making, it’s invariably mangled in the extraction process.)