Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's This? A Hint of Normal?

It's been so long that I've forgotten what a normal day feels like. I think, though, that this week, I've come close. It's a very strange sensation to quit work around 5ish and do normal people things. Things like make dinner at a leisurely pace, eat it, sitting down and as a family and then, the best part, descend into my writing room for not one, but often two or more hours before returning to the family zone to either watch tv or go to bed. I could get used to this.

This week, I've caught up on going over critiques I received over a year ago. I've worked on editing Sahmara, a novel I haven't touched since building the house began. I really like this story. I want to work on it more and get it ready to submit.

I've had time to finally do a thorough read-through of A Broken Race and fix all the typos that resulted in my mad rush to get the revised content to the editor on time while hosting an exchange student and finish up on the house

I've even considered reading a book. Yes, sitting down and just reading. After having time for writing. What is this madness?

It's been a couple years for this too, but I'm actually looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year, the whole diving into writing part, instead of just the seeing all my writing peeps again part. The whole experience. As of this moment, months in advance, I have energy and enthusiasm. It's been a long time since I've had either of those things, even before the house building began.

Landscaping is happening! This is my favorite part. I love playing in the dirt, even if that means encountering snakes. Which is has. Several times. But this part of the making this our home process has taken the longest to get to, so I'll take the snakes and go on my merry planting way.

For this week, at least, life is good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Patience is a virtue and fiction saves lives

While I'd love to say that I write for a living, I don't. I have a day (and sometimes night and weekend) job, that while it does allow me to do lots of creative things that I really enjoy, mostly that pays the bills and comes with it's share of headaches. Many of those headaches involve writing and reading either in product descriptions or email exchanges, so I'm going to share a few in the hopes that even one of you won't be that person.

Let's say, for the sake of an easy, across-the-board example, I'm selling blankets. I create what I think to straight-forward product description using as few words and sentences as possible because I understand we are all busy and have short attention spans:

Queen size Blanket

Soft, fleece blanket. Fits Queen size bed.  Available in blue (shown) red, white, beige, black and grey. You will be shipped a blue blanket (shown), unless you specify a different color when ordering.

Ships Priority mail within the United States and First Class Mail internationally. Actual shipping rates are shown after adding product to your cart and entering your address.

These are kind of questions I deal with every day, which are the reason I kill so many people in fiction:

1. What is this blanket made of?
2. I like the vase in the photo, where did you get it?
3. What color is the blanket in the photo?
4. I received my order, but was expecting a poster of a blue blanket on a bed like you show. What am I supposed to do with a stupid blanket?
5. I received my blanket in the mail today, but you smashed the box to bits and now it's unusable. How soon can you deliver another one to me in a better box?
6. My order wasn't shipped UPS like I asked for in the notes I put on the order, why?
7. I received my blanket today, but it doesn't fit my king size bed. What are you going to do about it?
8. I wanted a red blanket, but you shipped me a blue one. It says it comes in different colors, but I never saw anywhere to put what color I wanted. How do I get a red one?
9. How much is shipping?
10. How tall is the bed in the photo?
11. Can you show me what that blanket looks like on four poster bed?
12. I received the blanket it in the mail today and when I went to use it, I saw that the disposable bag the blanket came in was wrinkled. Your product is crap. Can I get a refund?
13. I didn't get my blanket that I ordered eight months ago and just realized never arrived. When I went to check the tracking, I see that you shipped it to my old address. I moved nine months ago, but my order shows my old address for some reason. Can you reroute my package to me at my new address?
 14. I didn't get my package and when I went to check my order, I realized I switched to numbers in my address around, and now tracking shows it delivered to someone else. Can you send me a new package? I already paid shipping when I ordered.
15. I ordered a blue blanket like in your photo, but when it arrived, it's dark blue, not baby blue like what I was expecting. What are you going to do about your misleading description and sending me the color I wanted?
16. My blanket was delivered, but someone in the mailroom signed for it and put it somewhere. I can't find it. Can you ship me a new one?
17. I ordered this product - and thanks for shipping it so fast - but I'd emailed you three days after placing my order to ask if I could get two twin-sized, orange blankets instead, but you shipped me a blue queen size blanket. Don't you read emails? I would like to return this blue blanket and get the two orange twin-sized blankets I asked for.
18. I'd like to use this blanket as a table cloth for a birthday party I'm having this weekend, will it repel water and not stain?
19. Is the blanket soft?
20. I'd like to order a blanket in blue. How do I do that?

Other than not dealing with blankets, these are exact questions I have had to respond to.
Please save fictional lives, read descriptions when ordering anywhere, and for the love of all that's holy, double check your mailing information. Thank you.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Guests, Gardening, and Getting prepared

August is here already. That means NaNoWriMo preparation has begun.

Pfft, Prepare? Me? Ha. I mean for my region. (Though I will admit, champion pantser that I am, I'll be working on a YA novel I recently started editing that I gave up on during NaNo years ago. It still needs a middle and and end. And I know where it's going now. Egads, does that mean I've planned for once?)

I've created this year's sticker, the word count chart, a character creation game for the kick off party, sorted give away prizes and silent auction items. I've even considered doing a couple small crafty projects. I haven't had time for those in a while, so I'm rather excited to get my hands covered in glue and paint.

While I occasionally remember to stalk my submissions, I'm keeping busy with projects around the house. Now that we're all settled in, there's all the little things, like sealing the grout for all the floor tile, caulking the guest room tub, finding homes for the few things left in boxes, finishing up the stone work on the front of the house, installing the railing on the deck, and landscaping. That last one is my favorite. I've been waiting anxiously. Since last fall. I'm really sick of waiting. Today, the last load of top soil arrived, so barring rain, I'll be spending my weekend playing in the dirt.

As far as writing, I haven't started anything new lately. I'm waiting on edits on three shorts and a novel, all of which could arrive in my inbox anytime and two of them will require a quick turnaround. Best to save my limited writing time for when I really need it and enjoy expending my creative energy on other pursuits for just a little while.

July passed by in a blur of fun. We had a great time hosting our Spanish guest, who gave us the perfect excuse to visit places around town we hadn't been to in years. Our daughter got to have a month of mostly vacation that we would have otherwise worked through and maybe done one or two things as time allowed. Funny how having a stranger in your house makes you spend so much more time together as a family, and I was surprised how attached we got to her in the few weeks she was here. Sending her off wasn't easy, but we would definitely host another student next year if asked.

For now, I'll leave you with this week's Author's Answer: What scenes do you find difficult to write?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Oh look, a post for July

The blog has been quiet, but I haven't forgotten you. July has been full of doing things!

Our exchange student has been keeping us busy. Or we're keeping her busy. Or both. We spent a long weekend up by Sleeping Bear Dunes, burning our feet on hot sand, catching a little sun (I'd rather forgotten what sitting under that large burning orb felt like), and hiking around South Manitou Island (aka, dodging mosquitos and snakes). We've played local tourist in our own town and others nearby. We've eaten far more ice cream than necessary (yes, there is a necessary amount). And we've done a lot of driving (just 575 miles in the past few days). With only two weeks left, we're trying to pack in as much fun as we can.

Editing. The last couple chapters of A Broken Race are proving to be challenging and my tired brain isn't cooperating. Deadlines are looming.

And now we've come to the part of the post where I can announce my happy news. My short stories Mother and Giving Chase have been accepted into Caffeinated Press's second Brewed Awakenings anthology. Look for it out in print and e-book this fall.

And, of course, I can't close out this post without a dose of Author's Answer. This week: Sex. How do you write it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer is here. Sanity is somewhere over there.

It's June, and that means its lovely outside in my little corner of Michigan. Am I out enjoying every minute of it? Sadly, no.

Why? I'm neck deep in edits of A Broken Race. 102 suggested points from the editors to conquer. Most aren't all that significant in terms of big changes, others add require diving deeper into backstory groundwork while dancing on the delicate tightrope that stretches across the valley of info dump. I have about a week left to finish up.

 We have to take four more small trees out to finally get our business drive put in at the end of the month (yes, also a week away). This means that our towering brush pile mountain from all the other small and dead trees that have come down over the past couple years here, had to be reduced before it turned into a brush mountain range. We burned for three straight days and got it down to a more manageable 'pile' designation...until those four trees come down.

 Then there was the deck fiasco. Let's sum it up by saying I have a deck now. It wasn't built by the original contractor we hired and it was weeks late. It doesn't currently have a railing because the home improvement store ordered the wrong one and now we have to wait three more weeks for the right one. We can't get the deck approved without the railing, which means we can't use it as getting all the stuff out of the garage that is meant to go on the deck so that I might be able to finally park inside. I spent way too much time returning wrong and extra stuff, ordering the right stuff, and on the phone trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

 Work on the outside of the house continues. In this month's installment, I'm working on the rock areas. This means I'm getting a workout, hefting 80lb bags of mortar and hauling buckets of said substance up ladders to slap it on the metal lath we installed last month. Next up: rocks.

A conversation with a friend led to something I've been wanting to try and now we have room for. We're hsting an exchange student for a month. So I spent some time cleaning up ou spare room, buying a bed and all that goes with it and making functional room in the closet I'd intended to use for storage. Since we're supposed to show her around our area, this gave me the nudge I needed to plan our family vacation. Cabin reserved, sights to see have been noted and arrangements for pets have been made.

And yes, that means she'll be arriving in a week and then we'll be busy showing her around.

In between the rocks, trees, and railing projects... Which means I better get back to those edits.

I'll leave you with the latest Author's Answer, where we discuss the writing process.