Friday Updates

There is really not a lot going on. It’s Friday. I have a short story nearly ready to send out in order to catch the tail end of On Spec‘s current reading period before getting back to the novel.

Why the break for a short story? Well, first of all, the idea for this one finally fell together after months of banging around in my brain and two, I met with one of the On Spec editors at the conference a few weeks ago, and she asked if I had anything to send in based on the query letter I showed her for the novel. It’s nothing but net if I could get a short accepted before I head to Willamette to pitch the novel, and nothing is lost if I don’t.

I did finally get signed up for the August writers’ conference in Oregon. I have a pitching session with an agent even though I am treating it as a learning experience and if something comes of it  – bonus. Rob has booked off quite a bit of time around the conference, so we are going to camp and vacation on either side.

And no, he hasn’t heard on the job offer. He was supposed to meet with his immediate supervisor on Wednesday, but the boss called in sick and has been out the remainder of the week. 

Moving has been on my mind. I convinced Rob to finish the reno upstairs, painting the bedrooms, building a walk-in closet in our room and laying new hardwood floor. All things that were on the agenda, but the continued cool weather and the possibility we could be moving by summer’s end and thus having to sell, mean that this stuff needs to get done now. The outdoor projects need a bit warmer weather.

So the upstairs is all but empty. I had forgotten how much I love space. In my old house, I had almost no furniture. Drove visitors a bit batty, but I loved it. Near empty rooms with nothing on the walls is peaceful with possibility.

I got a letter from Will’s mom. The things we put on his grave last summer are gone. Don’t really know what to do with the information, and was a bit upset by her contacting me about it. I even wrote a long blog piece that I decided not to publish after talking with Rob about it. He pointed out that there is nothing that can be done about ties to the past and their intrusion into now on occasion, so there is no reason to work oneself up about it. It happens and you deal.

I will send her a “thanks” with some pictures of the child and leave it at that.

Ashtanga yoga is kicking the crap out of my old, neglected muscle groups. I also found a new Hatha instructor who is into strength building along with flexibility. End result is that I am very sore but better than yesterday.

What else? I am reading like a fiend. And that is about it. 

Sorry about neglecting the replies to comments. I am still not reconnected with the blogosphere so much and I am planning a summer hiatus, but I will let you know when that begins.

P.S. The pen name is settled. The site is constructed. I will launch at the end of summer.

I finished the six day yoga cleanse this morning. Yogina was easy on us because we were all a bit sore and tired. She explained that yoga should be a six day a week habit with sessions of varying intensity (honoring our bodies as they present themselves every day is a HUGE theme), and that women should not practice yoga on the first three days of their periods. It’s called a “ladies’ holiday” , and it’s good to know.

Despite waking up with a sore right leg (I have uber tight hamstrings that play hell up and down my right side), I still managed a good swift walk after lunch and then sat down to write my very first query letter for my novel in progress.


A good question as the novel is still a work in progress and only the likes of Stephen King and J.K. Rawling are able to pitch unfinished work, but the answer is that I am attending my first ever writers’ conference tomorrow and I boldly signed up for “pitch camp”.

Pitch camps allow writers to run novel ideas past industry people like agents and publishers in a no pressure atmosphere. The writer is simply looking for feedback and suggestions. Nathan Bradsford wrote a really nice piece on pitch sessions at conferences recently that I am taking to heart.  He also supplied a good link about what not to do when pitching.

Truthfully I expect little and am approaching the whole conference as a learning experience and a chance to meet new people.

The woman who called to set up my pitch session and mentor camp times was very helpful. She suggested I have a query written for feedback’s sake and to q and a the agent and the mentor. In my case, one is an editor of a local fantasy magazine – the one that gave a pass on my short story recently after requesting a rewrite – and the other is a publisher. I am pleased on both counts. It’s a nothing but net situation because they are women who know things that I need to learn.

The query I used as an example I got from a writer’s blog, Ask Allison. She is a published novelist and probably one of the better writers who blog because she interacts with those who read. I really liked the format she used. I also read Chapter 16 of Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover, very helpful. And just as a complete OT aside, I love her business card. I need a card like that soon because I am cardless for tomorrow. I don’t even have a Blackberry-ish thing to exchange “geek bits” as Daisyfae would say. I am thinking that as a nobody, however, this won’t be much of an issue.

In other news, our holiday looms and I will be offline (though I have blogged ahead) this next week and mostly offline for the next month. Forgive me then if I am not responding to comments or commenting at your sites. I have set a deadline for June to complete the novel and finish the outline for the second novel (and yes, yes, the memoir is on tap for late summer as I finally twisted Rob’s arm enough that he has agreed to write his half of the story – my husband just rocks, doesn’t he?).

Spring is sprung up here at last and I am internally whistle slick and externally ready to roll.

The return of winter earlier this week has thrown me into a mini-funk which was exacerbated by mid-back issues. As he was torturing massaging the cement lumps encasing my shoulder and neck muscles last night he said,

“You had the same thing about this time last year too. Is it the anniversary of something?”

Fucking anniversaries. I am so done with “honoring” my past traumas with dominion over my body whenever they are feeling neglected. But to answer the question, no, April is a memory insignificant month in terms of the dead people in my life. Nothing important happened.

Last spring I was freaking slightly about our trip to the States because we hadn’t gotten our residency issues resolved, and I worried every time we went down there that BabyD and I wouldn’t be allowed to come back home with Rob. 

I just need a vacation. When I was a teacher, time off was just that. I couldn’t teach if I wasn’t at school. Writing is different. It is always at my fingertips or beckoning me or accusing me of slacking or neglect. I am its bitch. And it is very tiring and as slow as the pay-off for teaching was – writing seems to have no pay-off.

I think I am putting too much pressure on myself with the novel because it is a real novel, the most significant thing I have done to date, and the prospect of pitching it this summer at Willamette is immobilizing me. I don’t feel ready and yet, when is anyone ready? When the moment to jump comes, you jump … or you miss it … maybe forever.

I need a walk and a ramble through the mall, but since the latter isn’t within the realm of the possible, I will settle for a walk.

TGIF and all that.

I am still bone weary. I just do not bounce back from sleep deprivation. My body refuses to push the envelope anymore. It’s a direct result of years of getting by on 4 or 5 hours a night while carrying the weight of my small existence around on my back, stooped like a Chinese peasant tending rice paddies.

Since I know it can take weeks to get myself even again, I will have to modify my plans for the next three months a tiny bit. Yes, it’s the new quarter, and I am laying out the calendar.

April will see me finish Night Dogs. Thanks to Rob’s plot insight, I have plugged the gaping plot hole in a plausible manner and can now continue. Night Dogs will be the story I workshop in June when I have plans to take a course on revision at the U of A’s Women’s Writing Week. The revision class is the only one I found that was not fluff, and it bothers me a bit to support a program that equates women’s writing with “journaling” and poetry only but so be it. It’s the only game going and I need to take a class.

In May I will begin working on a novel whose idea came to me via a science article on Slashdot about solar flares and our planet’s scary dependence on electrical grids and gadgets. Rob listened while I outlined it as we drove and he answered my questions about what-ifs. He liked it. He is partial – to me – but if he thought the idea totally blew chunks, he would say so.

June is classes. Revision, drafting and the beginning of prodding Rob to write out his part of our story. The memoir is now a joint project. We will work on it over the summer with the idea that it might be a pitchable idea by the time I head to the Williamette Conference in August (where I am going to try to pitch Night Dogs for sure and hunt for an agent at least).

In the meantime, blogging is going to suffer, but I will continue – just not at my usual pace. I can’t say what my pace will be, but if you bookmark me or put me on your reader, you shouldn’t miss much.

If you are wondering about the trip, you can read about it here, here, here, and here – if you haven’t already.

Wednesday afternoon was spent unpacking, doing laundry and generally regaining our land legs. Slept in on Thursday  but as I mentioned, I am still whipped.

I finished up the presentation for the workshop on Saturday but I am not going to be practiced enough. Hopefully my teaching instincts will take over and all will be well.

Since I am too tired (I’ve mentioned that too much, I know), here are pictures from the trip to make up for the piteous Friday update.

Revelstoke Town Centre

Revelstoke Town Centre

Rob taking a photo of Mt. Robson

Rob taking a photo of Mt. Robson

If you are reading this from work – shame on you – but know that we are on our way to the Canadian Rockies as you are reading. Wedding goodness awaits near Revelstoke, if not actual good weather. Warmer than home certainly, but nothing to crow about.

I am, by and large, putting on my happy face – which is neutral to an extreme degree and content to sink back into the shadows and observe without attracting attention. The whole “in-laws of my husband’s late wife thing” is fraught with awkwardness. No one wants to be unpleasant to my face because they know I am not the cause for Shelley’s absence, and yet no one is thrilled to have me around because it highlights the sad reality of her death. I so dislike being thrust into this position and am trying to zen my way through it, but the fact remains that I am neither welcome nor unwelcome, and it continues to be not easy for me to try and exist without being obvious about it.

The publisher of the new newspaper start-up in The Park contacted me the other day. He’d initially declined to offer me any type of position when I queried him a couple of weeks ago, but apparently my Mac experience appeals to him now. An interesting development.

I finally got the copy of Jack Kilborn’s (aka J.A. Konrath’s) new horror novel, Afraid. It’s gruesome but compelling so far as I have read. I will have the review up sometime next week. J.A. only asked for 75 words. I will probably give him a few extra.

If you friended me on Facebook, you know that my sister, DNOS, has been very ill. Double pneumonia. We have been quite worried because there were several deaths locally attributed to pneumonia this past month. She is mending but good thought would be appreciated.

The tomcat is still peeing on our front door. I had to buy new rugs for the entryway. It’s foul and I would be in favor of relocating that cat to its final reward if that were possible. The other cat hasn’t puked again … in a location I have stumbled across anyway. We have no one to care for him while we are away, which is another reason why we decline to acquire a pet of our own – it would hinder our mobility, so we filled up the water and food bowl and are hoping for the best. Best would be the cat not eating until engorged and barfing all over the garage thus rendering itself near foodless (unless you count vomit, which it will eat) until we return. During the warmer months we had the girl next door check in on it and fill the bowls, but we can’t depend on the kindness of neighbors when the temps are still brutal and the snow is knee deep. Seriously, we really can’t impose on the neighbors anymore where animals are concerned. It’s went past the point of “neighborliness” a while ago.

Night Dogs slinks along.

Yoga is going well. I can almost do a headstand. I cannot do the chupacabra (or whatever that fingertip/tippytoe plank thing is called). If I could hold that pose for 12 minutes a day, I would never get sick again – eventually. Or so the yogis maintain.

So, okay. That’s it. Good weekend to you all.