Friday, May 30, 2008

A Gardening Day

I've got dirt around my wrists.  You know what that means.

I've had my gardening gloves on.

After what seems like forever we had some actual sunshine around here.  The dry (if cloudy) weather preceding it helped drain the sludge (aka garden soil) so that today it was workable.  I planted my quaking grass, holy mole peppers, anchusa, and love lies bleeding seedlings.  I also managed to transplant my pampas grass starts into gallon containers.  

I'm still a dizzy muffin but I'm feeling much, much better today.  Just in time to go to work tomorrow.  Ugh.  Went to the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys--actually, she looked confident that the treatment I'm signed up for will work.  So, come July, I'll have to suffer for another week and then voila!  Things should get better.  Not instantly, but over the course of the following months.

I wrote a weird story (probably too weird to be publishable) and worked some on Signet while I reclined on the couch last night.  I know, I know, again with the rewarding being sick thing.  But it felt good to play in the Masks universe again without (shudder) having to edit the manuscript.  I much prefer first draft writing over editing, at least for now.  Maybe I'll change my mind after the master's course.

Speaking of rewards for being infirm, apparently we get punished for getting better.  Not only do I get to go back to work (um, yay?) but the girl is out of her cast and is now in a brace, which means she gets to do all the non-fun parts of PE, like running, again.  Well, I enjoy running but I suspect, gauging by her expression yesterday, that she was less than thrilled.  She prefers team sports, which will be off limits until that brace is off.

I've had my rest and some water.  Time to go plant a few more things.  Tomorrow's forecast--covered by store ceiling followed by cloudy skies.  

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dizzy come, dizzy go

I don't know if it's because I've been sick with that poopyheaded virus or because things are worse this month than usual, but I had to come home from work after only ten minutes due to pain and dizziness.  I'm still a bit dizzy, but better after a nap, a hot bath, and keeping my feet up for several hours.  I got some writing done too, into a spiral notebook.  Man I'm slow at handwriting.  I may have to borrow one of the two family laptops for a bit.

Tomorrow I have a couple of doctor appointments that will hopefully lead to a better, stronger, faster Kami.  I'm really feeling my age, no, older than my age, today.  Can I go back to feeling like a forty year old please?

In the good news department, looks like I'm in the master class for spring 2009.  Woot!  Paraphrased from the description:

The master class is two weeks of writer boot camp.
We give you a complete understanding of the business, how and why it works
the way it does, and we even run the writers through the next ten years of a
career as practice while they watch other writers do the same.  And at the
same time, we work on your craft, spotting what you are doing right and what
you need to improve to make your fiction sell regularly.  Very intense two
Six full-time writers and editors, about 14 writers.  Very one-on-one all the way through.  As people have said, this workshop takes years and hundreds of mistakes out of your career.  

To say that I'm looking forward to this is a massive understatement.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Staring out the window, wishing

Looks like Kat is going to be fine.  She's had an allergic reaction to something, possibly a penicillin shot or a pain killer shot from when she was messing with her incision.  She's on mild, low-dose steroids and should recover nicely.  Partly thanks to the meds and partly thanks to a draw of fluids from the lump to check the contents, her lump is a little smaller already.

I'm feeling better too.  My voice is almost back to normal and I had enough energy to go out in the rain and put nets over some plants the deer decided needed pruning.  The plants are fine, so far, mostly, but another hit and they'd be pretty sad and might not even recover.

I get weather reports twice a day--once in the morning, once in the evening--a forecast that looks at the weather every few hours out a couple of days.  It looks like the rain will trail away but I don't see any sun as of the latest forecast.  Ugh.  My question is, will we ever warm up enough to make planting the tomatoes and peppers in the ground worthwhile?  Maybe they'll just be in containers in the greenhouse until July.  I've got grasses and herbs to put out and the ground is like sludge--it's better to wait to plant until the soil drains and becomes friable again.  The slugs are rampant.  They love this weather.  They can be out all day and night.  The birds are miserable.  They've got to be having a tough time raising hatchlings in this.  The goats are annoyed.  The dogs are sullen.  We haven't had a river walk in ages.

The second year after we moved here we didn't have good enough weather for me to plant a veggie garden until June.  Back then I didn't have very many perennials and so the garden was a wash except for some strawberries and zucchini.  Thinking about that makes me feel better about the conditions this year.  No matter what happens we'll have a great perennial ornamental garden, heaps of herbs, grapes, elderberries, blueberries, currants, rhubarb, and even if they're just stuck in containers all season, peppers and tomatoes.  I bet I'll even get some nice zucchinis again.  They always produce, even in a short growing season.  Looks like the peach trees, unless the rain makes them mold and mildew to pieces, will have fruit and we always get some apples and pears no matter how bad the year is.  I guess I don't have that much to whine about.  Besides, the weather is a godsend for some people.

So here's me looking at the bright side of things.  I'll try not to be too much of a little kid, forehead braced against the window, staring into the rain and wishing.    

Mulching, editing, it's all good work (ethic)

Blah blah blah sick blah blah blah yuck blah blah blah snurk.  But I'm getting better.

The kitty Kat has to go to the vet today to have a lump checked out.  I thought it was probably just a fatty mass but in a few days it's grown to the size of an eyeball.  Gah, furry eyeball from hell!  Hopefully it's something minor and the vet will deal with it in short order.  More news about this later after her appointment.

I'm also trying to pull together the support system I'll need to go to the master's course writing seminar in Lincoln City.  If I can pull this off--joy, rapture!  Then again, because of the cost, I won't also be able to go to the short story writing course (wah!) because I'll already be forced to take half of each of my pay checks for ten months to afford the seminar.  Ouch.

While corresponding with one of the organizers the words 'work ethic' came up.  That's apt.  When you're a writer you're self-employed, essentially.  When you have a day job you're working two jobs, and it's hard.  It's no good beating yourself up about not working hard enough.  That won't get you to sit down and write (though it might give you a nice complex to write about!)  Having said that, if you want the writer job you have to work.  Luckily I love writing enough that it's not a big chore to sit and work.  I look forward to it, even the editing, though I whine and complain about editing all the time.  Beats retail.  Writing gives me the same energy as gardening.  I may complain about the sore muscles and hauling rock, but I do it without hesitation.  Give me a big pile of mulch, I'll spread it.  Weeds?  I'm grabbing my tools and going after them.  Even when work that I love is hard, it's still satisfying.  When it's satisfying, it's not hard to have a good work ethic.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I didn't get into details about the storm the other day because I was feeling so yucky.  I'm still feeling pretty yucky, but better.  I'm not looking forward to sleeping tonight as last night I woke up in a nasty sweat.  Sleep came in brief snatches after that as I shivered, sweated, shivered some more, slept fitfully, and sweated even more.  I put on a long sleeve shirt and kept a towel on hand to mop up after myself.  I'd say it's an impending chrone thing, but I'm just a tad bit too young (not by too terribly much, but not within the standard age range for my family) and also I had someone ahead of me with the same illness go through the same thing.  He sweated for four nights.  Man, I hope it doesn't take four nights for me to get done with it.

Anyway, the storm:

Dove gray skies, distant sounds of thunder
Silver boiling into black
Standing on the deck 
Eyes reflect jagged bolts that span miles
Funnel cloud orange skies to the west
Rain, light, then pouring, then dumping
It doesn't rain here like this
But it does
Then hail comes
A step back
Heavy hail, thunder hail
The storm is overhead
Trees sway, branches snap
Leaves shred
Dogs running, whining, howling, eyes wild
A rescue is launched into the storm
Prying up deck boards
A trapped white dog scrabbles to freedom
Dogs in the house, running, trembling
Wet animal hair and the scent of a fresh clearcut
Spruce, maple, shattered flowers
Hanging baskets sway, filled with white
No birds, no life, no sound but storm
Hail spills like river rock onto skin and bone
Salvage all we can, all we think to salvage
Fill a glass again and again with hail and whiskey
The thunder and hail pound music on the world
Until, softly
The rain comes again, softly
Thunder, long thunder
Rumbles into the night, a long goodbye
The black and gold caravan rolls into the distance and is gone.

I started to make a list and it got kinda poetic on me.  Please excuse the amateur.  

Time to settle down, I think.  I hope I don't sweat for hours again tonight.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Handwriting and Butterfly Wings

I'm getting better, but after a day of trying to do just a couple of things (I selected laundry and vacuuming) I'm all tuckered out.  I've found that sitting at the computer isn't conducive to writing in my condition because muscle soreness makes sitting in the kneeling chair uncomfortable, so I'm going to give a notebook and a good ol' fashioned pen a try.  I haven't hand written in a long while.  I'm looking forward to it.

I went for a short walk in the garden today to survey the storm damage.  A lot of annuals were crushed, though none look like they were fatally hammered by the hail.  At a distance the garden looks pretty normal, but when you look more closely you see torn leaves, stem ends where leaves and buds used to be, broken branches, and debris all over the ground.  The debris is the most interesting part.  The wind was pretty fierce and so leaves from all different kinds of plants are mixed together.

My vote for prettiest debris:  the torn petals from the tree peony look like butterfly wings on the ground.  Sad but beautiful.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Llama Trials

The doc said I'd get worse before I'd get better.  Man, he must be psychic.
My voice is still shot.  My temperature is going up, not down.  I'm getting a few little red rashy spots.  I'm the picture of yuckiness.  But, as bad as I feel, I'm still not as bad as I was with the dread flu when we came back from Victoria a couple of years back.  Anyway, I can still dance the dance of sickness superiority (I think) because my temp hasn't even gotten close to the temps the boy and the man got when they got sick, aaaaand I have a productive cough.

(Oooo!  Ahhh!)

Yes, it's true, the boy and the man can't seem to manage a productive cough, while the girl and I are practicing for the llama spitting trials later this year.

Well, I guess I'd better get back to full time suffering.  Be well out there!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The sickness spreads, and paint geekiness

It's official now.  The girl is sick too.  
I went to the doc yesterday and my lungs are clear (so far) and I don't appear to have secondary infections going on.  So, despite the fact that I'm ill, have an off again, on again fever and sound like I've traded my vocal chords for sandpaper, I can still declare:
My immune system is mighty.  Here me roar!
Actually, you can hear me roar later, after I'm done with the laryngitis thingy.  I'm supposed to rest my voice as much as possible.  Which, btw, for those of you not in the know, whispering is as hard if not harder on your voice than talking.  Don't whisper if you have laryngitis.  Write a note.  Point.  Shake your head no no and point again more firmly.  That.  That right there.  Yes!  No, not that, that.  Oh, I give up, I'll get it myself.

In painting news I plan to get some new paints.  I've been working with the same palette for a long time (well, about four years which is not that long I guess) and, although I'm sure there's much more to learn about these colors, I've learned to trust their properties, how they mix,and I know how they lay beside each other.  It's time for some new colors to shake things up.
My 'normal' palette is primarily composed of Schmincke aquarelles (watercolors) with some M. Grahams.  I use vanadium yellow, gamboge, vermillion, cadmium red, madder red dark, quinacridone violet, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue and viridian as my 'primary' colors and yellow ochre, raw sienna, raw umber, and Hooker's green as my 'earth' colors.  My earth palette is pathetically limited and I can't paint with it in a functional manner.  Although I don't have black or gray I haven't missed them.  I mix them.
Anyway, I went to Art's Desire to snoop around.  I was almost out of quincridone violet and viridian so I picked up a tube of each (all of these are in M. Grahams, a local company, which I'm moving over to away from Schmincke) and I got pthalocyanine green because it looked useful to me.  I'd also been thinking about how prussian blue would fit into my earth palette, and since it was right there ....  After some hemming and hawing I also picked up burnt umber, a nice, red-leaning brown.  
For 'normal' colors I'd like to add new gamboge because as a yellow it has more range and interest than regular gamboge.  I'm also picking up perylene green, which, I admit, may make me lazy about mixing my blacks.  I'm probably going to phase out Hunter's green.  Although Hunter's is an artist's standard, it hasn't been very useful to me with my current palette and when I dip into it as a straight color or for mixing I'm usually disappointed with how flat it is.  With the new additions I may change my mind.  I have until the end of the tube to decide.  For now, though, it's on the 'need not restock' list.  I also at some point picked up chrome yellow.  I never use the darned thing.  What was I thinking?  
But the colors I'm really excited about are the Daniel Smith Primateks.  These so-called mineral colors show a lot of promise.  This overview on Handprint discusses some of the strengths and weaknesses of these colors.  One negative for Handprint is a positive for me--I paint very dark, and so the dark nature of the mineral hues will serve to my advantage.  I'm also excited to see how the precipitation will work on yupo.  Will it do too much?  Behave itself?  Go wild?  Disappoint?  Can't wait to try.  My choices are blue apatite, sodalite, piemontite and bloodstone.  With these colors, I think my earth palette will become at least as fun to play with as my primary palette.  I can expand as an artist and play with some grown up colors.  

One thing is certain.  My normal palette (the actual palette rather than the colors I have) is too small.  Either that or I have to break down and get a second one, separating the earth from the primaries.  I can no longer foist my earth colors into mixing pockets.  I'll need all the mixing pockets now.  Interestingly enough, although I hadn't planned on it, I'll end up with ten primary colors (replacing gamboge with new gamboge) and twelve earth colors (if prussian blue works out in that palette--it may end up fitting better with the primaries.)  This will be the first time I'll have more colors in the earth palette than the primary.  I think it will work really well with the subject matter I choose, but I won't know until I get there.  

So today I'll paint some with what I have and see what happens.  First thing, got to do some paint swatches and see where I'm at, and then it's onward and forward from there.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Poopyhead virus

Tuesday I went to work feeling fine.  By the end of shift, I sounded like my days of chain smoking cigars and drinking whiskey had finally caught up with me.  When I got home, the man of the house informed me that after radiologist review, the docs have decided that he has pneumonia.  So he picked up meds for that.  Meanwhile, the boy is camped out on the couch and probably will stay there for a few more days.  He might feel well enough to move out just in time for me to move in.  What I'd really like is to have a good couple hours to wash all the couch bedding and the cover, because man is it vile after two sick people stewing on it for days on end.

The hours will come, but they probably won't be good hours.  They'll be sick hours, hours where I'll be wondering whatever happened to the magnificent immune system that kept me well through the traditional cold and flu season.  Currently I (merely) can't hear out of one ear and my throat is sore.  I'm not plagued with the hacking, bubbly cough and 103+ temp the man and the boy suffered (and are still suffering) through.  It's early in the game, but I'm hopeful.  I've seen viruses come and go with nary and sneeze.  Maybe, after a brief period of misery, I'll shake this off and return to work my shift victorious and undaunted.  Huzzah!  I might even have the strength to wash the bedding before I crash to sleep on the couch for twenty out of twenty four hours after all.

Stupid poopyhead virus.  I guess it's making the rounds with a vengeance.  What it's avenging, I don't know.  Maybe we didn't feed the birds well enough this winter.  Maybe I ordered that steam cleaner part too late to prevent some sort of carpet crisis.  It can't really be my fault, can it?  If you think it's my fault, check this box:

Friday, May 16, 2008


I booked our sailing trip!  I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself.  Yes!! Yes yes yes!!

I'm doing my duty and spending (some) of our economic stimulus thingy.  It's a sacrifice, but someone's got to do it.  And what better cause than for The Lady Washington, official ship of our fine state, and her beautiful companion the Hawaiian Chieftain?  Looks like they offer summer camps.  Can we get another stimulus check?  I know just where to spend it.

Check out Gray's Harbor Historical Seaport and be amazed.  

I may have to save up money for the family camp.  I just can't imagine a better summer vacation.  Er, camp, you know, learning opportunity.  It'll be hard work and all.  Really.  I'm sure we'd all have a terrible time, exploring islands, taking the helm (!!) of the Lady Washington and such.  I can't believe people would pay good money (where's my wallet?) to do such a thing.

But I'm getting way, way ahead of myself.  This is all for research for Signet anyway.  Ho hum, boring.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cannons and Subs

I've shipped yet another story to Writers of the Future.  Wish me luck.  I know some people have mixed feelings about this contest because of the sponsors.  Not me.  It's judged by writers and all about writing.  Religion, philosophy, what have you, doesn't enter into it, something that's clear to me based on the judges and the past winners.  The story is what matters here.  If someone feels differently I'd like to hear from you.  Not to exclude those of you who agree.  You're welcome to chime in as well.

In other, potentially exciting news, the family is going to try to book tickets onto a tall ship for a three hour 'battle' in which real cannons will fire--just without the cannonballs in them.  Hey, maybe I can write it off as a business expense (my ticket, anyway) for research for Signet, the sequel to Masks.  What's this?  Of course there's got to be a sea battle in Signet.  You can't have gorgeous sailing vessels in a book without a sea battle (or at least a good storm.)  That's definitely a rifle over the mantle kind of situation.  (The quote, to which I can't find an attribution even with the power of Google, is approx: if there's a rifle over the mantle in Act 1, it had better go off by Act 3.)  Rather than focus on the maneuvers, I'll of course get all visceral with how it smells, how it feels, and how it looks to be in a pitched broadside battle with another sailing vessel.  Woot!  Keep your fingers crossed.  We'll try to book tickets on the ship for June 3.  I'll bring ear plugs but I'll try not to wear them so I can get the full blast.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Falling Off a Cliff

Sometimes I'm a serious wuss.

When I feel like I've written a keeper I have huge amounts of faith in the story, in my prose, and I'm willing to do all kinds of things to improve the writing so that the story's heart shows more clearly.  Much as I dislike editing, I look forward to what the editing does to the story.  In painting I set out to render something and, through the limitations and advantages of medium, skill and surprise opportunities, I end up with something usually better than I imagined in the first place.  Sometimes it doesn't match up to my expectations, but that just means I'll try again.  Surprisingly often I'm happier with where I land than where I set out to end up.

Unfortunately there are days when I feel everything I've created is no more substantial than a web.  It looked like art when it was fresh, but after a few bugs have hit it and the wind has blown through it, it not only becomes an eyesore but it isn't even functional anymore.  

I've written about good days and bad days and how they're both uncertain ground for a writer to stand on.  Today is definitely a bad day.  I look at what I'm working on and think that I've taken a perfectly good story and a great character and smeared them with crap through my lack of insight and my clumsy ineptitude.  This is not a good day to judge my own writing. 

If I was sure that what I'd written would be the next great American novel or an international classic, that would also be a bad day to judge my own writing.  I can't always take the middle road.  The middle road is for people who don't want to make mistakes, and also people who don't want to discover anything new.  But I shouldn't try to practice my craft while I'm flying or falling off a cliff.  Those experiences can inform the story, but they can't edit it.  I need to have contact with the ground when I'm traveling (editing,) even if it's bounding like I'm on the moon or tumbling down a steep slope.  

So here's to taking a night off, or at least the next hour off, of editing in the name of not butchering what might be perfectly good writing.  It may be, though, a great time to write something new.  The words will be windblown and wild, but as long as I'm fearless maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and find something unexpected and fun to edit on my hard drive.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's a funny kind of mom's day.  Mourning Nikita's loss, mimosas, chocolate covered donut holes, a beautiful letter from my daughter, transplanting plant acquisitions from the Mother's Day sale in downtown Camas, reading critiques of my opening for Masks on Flogging the Quill, going on a mad photographical spree when the sun peeked out for about ten minutes.  It's a good day, but in constant flux.  The washing machine of my life is in the agitation cycle.  The pics, in order, starting with the upper left, akebia vine growing through our deck upstairs, honeybush bought at the Mom's Day market, black-headed grosbeak (safety first grosbeak) and mourning dove.

Also today, got a nice rejection from an agent.  Haven't found a mean one yet.  Denied!  It's encouraging, though, since they're all so encouraging.  

Friday, May 09, 2008


December 1992-May 9, 2008

We put Nikita to sleep this morning due to multiple complications from extreme old age. It's possible she had a stroke, or something went wrong in her abdomen, or both.

She felt under the weather late last night and didn't want to finish her dinner. We found her in distress this morning and, after comforting her for about an hour, decided to take her to the vet on the very slender chance that they might be able to do something for her, or if not, ease her out of her pain. She had a very high fever. After discussing options including radical intervention, the vet advised that it would be unlikely that we would be able to save her. Rory and I were able to be with her when she passed. She was a wonderful companion, faithful, loyal and true to the end. She passed on a gloriously beautiful day, and will be buried near the house where, if she chooses, she can rest or keep watch as she so loved to do.

I'll look for you on the other side, sweetheart, my beloved, loving friend. Blessed be.

I'd also like to give thanks to the vets of Camas Washougal Animal Hospital for taking such good care of her over the years. Without them we wouldn't have had her for as long as we did.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Yanks

When I have a sick boy and a girl with a broken hand at the same time, the temptation to call my boss and tell him I'm ready to be a stay at home mom/writer again is intense.  

Added to the maternal nurturing thing is the fact that the boy is behind in his math and I love math.  (Yes, you read that right.)  When the boy asked for help the other night I was in math heaven.  Right now he's working on trig.  Because my mind grasps math and creates fantasy, I introduce him to the concepts in a way that he finds appealing and we both find entertaining.  

These were guarded secrets, and some considered them magic, I tell him.  I think, in a way, they really are magic.  

Together we reveal the mysteries and use them to solve problems that matter, problems he can imagine having to solve in other contexts.  It's great fun.  Every twenty minutes to an hour he'd hit a stumbling point and come upstairs with his book and paper in hand and I'd start to grin.  Okay, yes, maybe it's wrong for me to enjoy his struggles, but then again, when he can't see a solution that's a learning opportunity.  He'll understand the material that much more deeply if we have to arrive at the Aha by a roundabout way.  And I think he secretly enjoys it when he doesn't get a problem too, because he knows I'll make finding the solution entertaining.

With the girl hurt I can teach her too.  She's plenty independent, too independent in some ways, and I can show her how to accept help without feeling weak or stupid.  She worries about being weak or stupid.  I can show her how to do things for herself, so she's accepting help (the teaching) without sacrificing independence (doing the work for herself.)  

And of course there's the writing.  After a long short story dry spell where I'd decided I'm too lousy at short stories to waste my and others' time with them, I'm back to working at short lengths.  I started on them again mainly as a way to keep from going crazy while editing. Too often  I let myself get distracted by writing a first draft on a new novel during those times when I'd rather scrub toilets than edit.  Also, I was intrigued by the Writers of the Future contest and wanted to play.  I'm constantly amazed how disruptive a part time retail schedule is to daily writing.  I write maybe an hour or two a day, as opposed to 4-8 hours a day, even on my days off.  That's just not good enough.  I want to be more productive than that, and still have time to eat and sleep.  (I can hear a familiar voice saying 'sleeping and eating is for the weak!  Heh.)  What's the holdup on my days off?  Catching up on chores, gardening, and spending time with my family, because I don't get to do those things, or do them in a very limited fashion, on work days.

Sometimes I feel guilty because I have the luxurious option of quitting my job if I really want to.  I believe that's kept me there longer than I otherwise would have stayed.  As everyone there knows, I've made no secret of the fact that I'm basically on my way to Australia (to quote from the brilliant "Support Your Local Sheriff.)  But like the character from the movie, I'm still in town, still working despite the fact that I signed on to be holiday help for the 2006-2007 season.  Like other retail jobs the turnover is high.  I've seen a lot of employees come and go, and I've gotten to know the long term employees pretty well.  It's definitely a great place to work, and I feel loyalty toward my coworkers and the business.  It's just that right now the tug to get back to my 'real' life  has turned into a series of hard yanks.

I doubt I'll make a decision any time soon, but if my boss has any senses beyond the traditional five, he'll definitely get the feeling that I might pack up and head off to Australia after all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Broken, not sprained, and the Rejectophile

I got a call from the girl's doc yesterday.  The radiologist saw something on the film, so she gets to go back this morning for a consult.  I don't think they'll change the splint/ibuprofen thing, but they may talk to her about what it means to have a bone break and how long she'll have to take care of it and how.  She's feeling okay, doesn't seem to have any functionality issues and she's getting around at school, which is the important part as far as I'm concerned.

In writing news, I got a swift rejection from Sword and Sorceress 23.    Sounds like it was mainly a miss by tone, or at least she didn't spend any of her time to mention any other issues.  That's great news as far as I'm concerned.  She also reminded me to keep sending it out.  I'll definitely follow that advice.

I have yet to meet (in email or in a rejection letter, or, come to think of it, face to face) a mean editor.  So, where are the heartless fiends that writers complain about?  I've definitely got to send out more stories.  I suspect that they're a rare or even a dying breed (if they ever existed) and I think I'll make it my goal to find one before they disappear altogether.

So, added to my aim to become a regularly published author and my goal to keep adding to my rejection collection (does that make me a rejectophile?) I'm adding a quest to find a mean editor.  My quest will be especially hard because I'm only going to be submitting to paying markets and focusing on ones that pay professional rates, but I guess every quest has its limitations.  Sometimes when you're looking for Aztec gold you can afford to go to Guatemala but not necessarily Belize or any other central American country.  Also, I won't count any meanness that results from baiting, so I can only submit professional, polite cover letters.

I have a feeling this is going to be a tough quest. 

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Doctor and Vet bills mounting

Another beautiful day in paradise.
I was out taking pics of the garden and I'd planned on getting to take some more of birds that come visit the feeder.  I'd just taken this pic of a mutant double tulip (the double flower is normal--but the two large flowers together come from the same stem, and that's not normal) when the phone rang.
It's my mom.  The girl took a bad fall off her bike.  She's okay except for a very swollen wrist and my mom was taking her to the hospital for Xrays.  
We met at the hospital.  Surprisingly they didn't make us wait long.  Aside from a small hiccup (the tech took images of her hand but not the wrist so we had to return to Xray) the staff took great care of her.  No break, just bad soft tissue damage.  So she's in a brace and on ibuprofen.  On the way home she got a chocolate milkshake to help take her mind off the pain.  What is it with me and wanting to reward clumsiness with yummy treats?  As much as it makes no sense, I'll probably keep doing it, though.  
In Kat news, the red-eared one kept after her stitches so she got to play the part of a kitty flower for a while.  She's being good now, but if I catch her at it again, the e-collar is going back on.  Like all right-thinking cats with the barest shred of survival instinct and/or dignity, she hates it.  I don't blame her.  Her ears are red because despite the mites being taken care of for the most part, she also has a yeast infection.  For those of you contemplating adopting a stray cat, this is life as usual for the first several weeks.  Stray cats have ear problems, often have kitty colds due to the stress of being on their own, ear mites, fleas, intestinal parasites, ringworm (which they can pass onto humans) and they may be feline HIV positive or have feline leukemia among other things.  Those first vet bills are bad news.  The spay is the least of it.  We got her microchipped so she's all officially Kat Miller with a number and certificate.  If anyone is missing their kitty, sadly, they have missed their window of opportunity to reclaim her.  If anyone is looking for her, I hope they can hope and dream that someone good took their animal in and is taking good care of her.  I sometimes hope that about Misty and the Claireness, who we still miss terribly.  

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Editing for Pace

Last night, when I got too bleary to edit properly anymore, I went through and chopped up a bunch of chapters into shorter chapters.  It's another pacing thing.  I especially tried to make some of the quieter chapters shorter.  When I go through with the line/content editing, I'll try to pare those babies down without killing the style of the novel. 

Sentence length, paragraph length, scene length and chapter length are all solid concepts that help me with editing much more than fuzzy muddling about with the words.  Finding the exact right word is all fine and good, but honestly, except for rooting out cliche' phrases, more and more I feel like hunting for exact right words is a distraction from the real work of editing.  

So what is editing, anyway?  It's adjusting awkward prose, rearranging content to make it more understandable (aka less confusing--those bad WTF moments that happen especially in combat scenes) and deepening the work.  Deepening?  Connecting with the emotions.  Filling out the setting so that the reader can immerse in the world.  Realizing the plot's full potential.  Bringing characters to life.  That last one especially--when I'm writing a first draft I don't know the characters in the beginning as well as I do at the end.  So when I edit, I have a chance to let them be who they are without giving away who they'll become.  When I write a first draft I plant the seeds of character and watch them grow.  When I edit, I can inform the reader through the character's actions of what kind of seed I planted here.

Each goal in editing has techniques to help the writer achieve those goals.  At the moment I'm focusing on adjusting awkward prose--not line by line, but the lengths of chapters, especially the very long ones that drag on and on about things that should be quick and dirty when you read it, or that should be reflective but not leave the character navel gazing for twenty pages.

Happy writing everyone, and don't forget to look both ways before crossing the street.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A couple of notes

Sorry about the pic quality.  Taking photos through our hazy side windows is chancy at best.  
As you can see, the goldfinches have arrived in force, much to the disappointment of the lone pair that had been sharing the feeders only with pine siskins until now.  With the arrival of the mourning doves, I think this is easily the most diversity of birds we've had at the property since we've moved here.  

Katherine is back from the vet.  She's recovering, doing all the things she's not supposed to do like jumping, but in moderation.  We have her holed up in the master bedroom until she's healed up a bit more before we reintroduce her to Wizard's playfulness and Huntress' bitter hatred, seeing as this could lead to forbidden activities like running.  Also, we don't want her to be tempted to hop (or attempt to hop) onto the kitchen counter for food.  She has a food bowl and water on the floor just for her, a non-top-entry catbox (love those things!) and the scratchpost sleeper that's not tall enough for her to stretch on (and also makes a handy step up to the bed so she doesn't have to jump on the bed.)