Monkey See, Monkey Do…
I seem to recall a few posts back something something resolutions, gonna blog more and be more socially involved and I bought this fancy new scheduler and more organization and more…IDK adulting. Or something.
Well, I guess I’m not much good at it, best intentions and all that. Not that I’ve been sitting around doing nothing, mind. I just haven’t been particularly good about talking about it.
The fall out with the mice from the last post or so was…extreme. I’ve been dealing with contractors the last several months, involving the rebuild of two rooms, a bathroom remodel, hot water heater replacement, and some electrical issues which we finally tracked down to 1) charred(!) wires near the hot water heater and 2) a bad wire out in the yard connected to our lamp post. But all is compete and done and while we still have a number of things to do, at least this particular project can be crossed off the list.
Between that and Old Man Jake who continues to get older (over 20 now) and more…touched, I guess – things around the house have been a bit of a mess. Jake continues to pee in places he shouldn’t. And crap wherever, including the one of the new rooms, from which he is now barred. At this point we’re basically letting him live out the rest of his twilight years before we do any more major remodeling. I’d love to get the carpets replaced, etc, but there is absolutely zero point if he cannot remember the proper place to go in.
The vets say he is healthy, except for his hypothyroid and the beginnings of renal failure, but otherwise…he’s just old and forgetful. I did attempt a compromise with an upstairs crate that we could keep him in at night to minimize his damage, but that’s not going super well.
It’s a slow break-in to just starting to feed him in the crate, which he accepts, but it’s like he doesn’t even realize the litter box is there. And shutting him in the crate set off a panic so bad he actually broke a tooth on the bars.
A tad bit irritating, to say the least, but he’s been with me for nearly half my life now, so I can’t give up on him just yet.
I’ve also been cross stitching some. I finished one project for a friend and I’ve started the one for the winner of the last post. It’s just taking me a bit longer than I might usually do. The fibromyalgia has taken a bit of a turn for the worse – between the complete and constant fatigue, I also managed to throw out my back some and I’ve been struggling to do much more than work from my bed. Small errands exhaust me and that is beyond frustrating. The craft work is actually very therapeutic for me, though – it’s just more finding the energy to sit up and *do* it.
And yes, I am still writing. Or editing now, as the case may be. I don’t have all the edits for Magpie’s Fall yet, but I am working on what I do have so that I can get it out as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’ve submitted a few short stories into the wild, and Aimo and I have sent out a new comic proposal, so we’ll see where that takes us. (It’s a really neat concept and I like it a lot – I would very much like to find a home for it.)
There is more of course. There always is. One problem in particular is dealing with Lucy who has come down with a troubling health issue of her own. I will save that for a future post where I can talk a little bit more about it and what it may possibly mean for us in the next few months, but it is what it is, as they say. (Is is not life threatening, but it is life changing. At least we KNOW what is wrong and that is worth a very great deal indeed.)
Of Mice…and Memories
So the last few weeks have been a bit of a cluster – as I mentioned last post, when it comes to resolutions or intentions or whatever, my best laid plans tend to get easily derailed. And so they have.
I mean, some of these things were scheduled – sleep tests, house painting and the like – I had still scheduled time for writing or creative endeavors – (like that little giveaway I set up a few weeks ago – winners announced at the bottom of this post, yo).
In a truly odd bit of irony I picked up this Breathe magazine on a whim while in line at the grocery store a few days ago. I don’t know why – I just thought the cover was pretty, though if I’d realized it was $14 I probably would have walked on by. It’s a nice magazine, but I don’t think it’s THAT nice. Maybe the gods were giving me a heads up.
At any rate in between all the normal stuff, I decided to paint some rooms in the house. I’ve been burning to do so for quite a while, so I figured, whatever, let’s do it. I got some paint, taped off some walls and went to town. This pleased me quite a bit, so I got more ambitious and decided to do pretty much the rest of the house. A room at a time – except for two rooms that are way too large – both the foyer and the family room are two-storied and fairly massive and as bad as I am on a 3 foot ladder, there’s no chance of me getting on anything taller than that.
So I hired a few guys and they did it all in two days and I was like, ooooh – I’ll do the other two rooms myself and crank it out in a week and I’ll be done. And of course, each room I’m doing, I’m using as an excuse to throw out/donate/reduce. Which makes sense.
But I wanted to do things right, so when it came to some things I wanted to keep, I decided we needed to put them in the unfinished storage room in the baesment. Which was already pretty packed and needed to be gone through as well. The whole basement did, really – it had become a bit of a dumping ground for things we weren’t sure of needing or not, plus a ton of kid crap that had been outgrown, etc.
This is the problem with projects and me. It’s a bit like unraveling a blanket. One thread pulls out another, and another and part of me wishes like hell I’d just left this one alone.
Upon entering the store room (which we don’t do often, clearly) we found some mouse droppings. Which, okay gross, but wasn’t a huge deal. Until we looked closer and discovered a LOT of mouse droppings. And mouse nests. And caches of food everywhere.
Ensue much cursing.
So we started emptying out the storage room. Basically every box or bin that hadn’t been sealed shut had apparently becomes a rodent’s paradise.
The first day we spent with the heavy duty masks and gloves on, spraying everything down with bleach, and started pulling everything out into a massive pile onto the driveway (everything we were going to throwaway, anyway. Everything else ended up on the deck to sort through and clean. )
But the more we sorted, the more damage we found. On the second day we called a junk truck company to come and haul the stuff away because it was more than we could reasonably take to the dump ourselves, and frankly I didn’t want anything like that in my car. They came that morning and hauled away everything and we thought okay, that’s over, yay.
Except it wasn’t. In additional to that storage room, a second unfinished room had also apparently been hit, mice destroying two large oriental rugs. Oh, and then I started pulling away some boxes of my old school things that were in the basement proper. And yup – everything had been hit.
Including my entire Lord of the Rings LEGO collection. (Those were saved, btw – but yeah…)
In the end, we called the junk guys back the next day with an even larger pile of stuff – furniture, rugs, the carpet we pulled up from at least half the basement and pretty much everything else in the house I felt like throwing away at that moment.
Though it was tempting to just light a match and walk away.
I mean, every once in a while I like to dabble in Marie Kondo’s way of thinking when it comes to cleaning/decluttering. If an object doesn’t give you joy, then out it goes.
There is NOTHING joyful about a pair of boots where one is stuffed with cat food and the other with shit. (Yes, these mice were on par with the Ms. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – they had separate food places and separate toilet areas. Well, at least separate food areas. The entire basement was their toilet apparently.)
On the other hand, I lost a lot of unreplaceable items – honeymoon pictures, sketchbooks, crafting items, a bit of my sanity.
It is hard to let go of things – hence why we had so much and why I’ve been slowly attempting this process of reducing and simplifying and all that. And in the end, while looking at my high school yearbooks might have given me a ten second walk down memory lane, the truth of it is, I don’t care. Anyone I want to keep in touch with is probably on FB anyway, and it’s not like my kids are ever going to look at it, right? (I mean, did you ever look at your parent’s college yearbook? Snoozeville)
So yeah, this was perhaps the universe’s way of pulling off a packrat’s bandaid.
In the meantime, how did the mice get in there? How did we not notice? Well, I suspect the mice got in last winter when a piece of plywood apparently fell out underneath the fireplace of our house (a bump out of sorts beneath the deck.) We have no idea how long it was open – didn’t notice it until that winter when I felt a draft beneath the floorboards and discovered the hole with the insulation pulled out of it. We had it repaired, obviously – but my eldest did say he saw a mouse run into the bathroom the following Spring.
I set out a few traps and caught about 5 or 6 deermice over a few weeks and figured that was about it. (When he noticed the mouse, I discovered a few droppings by the cat’s food dish down there, go figure – but after I caught those mice, that stopped, so I figured the issue was gone.) We haven’t seen any additional signs since then, but I’ve got a pest inspector coming just too make sure.
Yes, I have a cat – he is 20 and deaf and mostly blind. He’s also not all there. Very sweet boy, but I don’t think he would notice a mouse if it sat on his face, tbh. And being advanced in age, he doesn’t always find the litterbox on time, so I was attributing any odd smells to that – and the rest was me being too busy to pay attention to anything else.
I’m paying attention NOW though, for whatever that is worth . >_<
In the meantime, we’ve called a contractor – we’re going to finish both those storage rooms so they have proper walls and a ceiling and all that – hopefully that will be a bit more of a deterrent. Everything that goes in them will be sealed in bins from here on out and we’ll be replacing all the carpeting eventually as well, as time/money permits.
So, all this is why I haven’t been blogging or attending to the previous post’s contest – but I did run all the entry names into a random generator and the winners are:
Sereniti Chacon and Nikki Starbird! Congrats, you two – I’ll be in touch with you soon!
New Year…Win a Thing
I don’t make resolutions for New Years. I’ve never really had much success with that sort of thing – coming up with an arbitrary day to start something – a new process or a dietary regimen or whathaveyou.
I mean, the concept is fine – whatever it is you want to do, you have to start somewhere, so the first day of the new year is as good a time to start as any, I suppose.
And I’m looking back over the past year with a curious eye – what I did manage to do, what I could have done better – what I want to do this upcoming year. I’m terrible at managing time – no matter how many planners I try to work with, I’m good for a week or so and then it’s like I decide they’re merely guidelines anyway.
Not that I won’t continue to try – there is a part of me that thinks that if I could just rein in my terrible urge to procrastinate all the time I would be so much more productive.
Or maybe I’d just burn myself out that much faster. I don’t really know.
What I do know is that even though I’ve started up a planner (yet again) I’m already derailing because…life. Intentions are great – there is satisfaction in seeing every hour of the day vaguely pointed in a particular direction, but distractions come calling from every doorway in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I mean, I had it on the schedule to blog yesterday. What am I doing today? Blogging. Yeah. Such a rebel.
(Incidentally, Stardew Valley is the work of the devil. Stay away from it because it is a massively satisfying timesuck.)
That being said I do have more than enough projects in the pipeline – Magpie’s Fall, which I’m tentatively scheduling for a March release at this point. Finishing up Magpie’s Flight and hopefully releasing it by the end of this year. Finishing up this other book for my agent. Several short stories that need finishing/reworking that either need to go back out on sub or that I owe some people. New webcomic proposal writing/submissions. Fox & Willow is also now returned from hiatus, so there’s a ton of stuff involved with that – Patreon and website management, Tapastic management, attempts at marketing, ha ha ha.
Maybe a secret project or two lingering on the outskirts.
On a creative level it is a LOT for me – especially given that health stuff has a tendency to do me in, despite my best intentions, but we’ll see how it goes. I mean, I even started a new Abby/Phin short story in December – was intending to release it as a little freebie on my newsletter as a holiday gift to my readers, but everyone in the house got that nasty cold/flu thing for weeks and well…life has to come first. However it HAS been started. Phin is obnoxious, as he should be. I’ll finish it whenever and throw it up at some point – it’s just going to be something simple and silly.
Also? I have a fuckton of cross stitching projects I want to start and/or finish. In 2016 I made a number of projects for people as gifts, but this past year was mostly focused on stuff for me – the larger sort of projects that take a fair amount of time.
<– This one is really rather massive. It’s not the most complicated thing I’ve ever done, but it certainly is one of the largest (should be 18 x 25 inches by the time it’s completed.) I’m saving all the nasty metallic thread stuff until the very end – looks nice, but just such a complete pita to work with. (And after this, I’ve got at least two other partially started larger projects that I would like to finish up too. It’s just a question of time.)
However, I did manage to do a quick mini subversive project or two – this is the latest:
It’s super tiny – only about 2 x 3 inches. I chose to do it on evenweave because it seems to spruce up the overall stitching.
You can find the pattern here, if you want to do it yourself.
Very cute and definitely my mantra for 2018 – after all the political bullshit and stupid health stuff that happened last year, I take a fair amount of comfort seeing it on my dresser every morning.
Meditation? Yeah, sometimes I try that, but this is nice too.
That being said, I suspect 2017 was rough for a lot of folks for a number of reasons and to that end, I’m going to offer up my subversive stitching services to two lucky people. Either this design or something else (we can discuss patterns – I have many, although it will really depend on the size/complexity.)
Leave me a comment below as to the worst/best thing that happened to you in 2017 and what your hopes/goals are for 2018. It can be anything – I’ll pick winners at random.
Open worldwide for the next week or so.
(Please leave me some way to contact you – email/twitter…something.)
Also, if you’re like…eh, Cross Stitch, boo, I’d rather have a book instead, I can do that – I’ve got copies of all my OOP books laying around AND Magpie’s Song, so you know – anything to free up a little space in my house is all good.)
Edited to add: Sorry if you were having trouble adding comments – I put the site behind a firewall recently as it was getting hacked a lot – think I’ve fixed the issue now though, so if you had problems, try it again now! Thanks!
So I sold a short story last week.
It’s a mermaid story. Or, more to the point, a lake mermaid story. Where the mermaid eats children.
I had actually written this particular story several years ago while waiting for my son’s Science Fair project to be judged (parents weren’t allowed in and it took several hours.) So I cranked this little nugget out and subbed it to an anthology, where it made it to the top 20 out of 500 or so entries…and then was rejected.
So I tried off and on again over the last few years, but as is my usual problem, it doesn’t really fit a specific genre. It takes place in the modern world, but it’s not an Urban Fantasy. It definitely isn’t a romance. It’s a bit dark for fantasy maybe, but not dark enough for your usual horror. I don’t know what you’d call it. Melancholy fantasy?
And of course the rejections were usually really nice – love the writing, can’t have a protag that eats babies.
Mmph. Maybe I was just subbing to the wrong places.
Anyway, I tucked it away for a rainy day and then saw Crystal Lake Publishing was doing another Tales From the Lake anthology and was looking for subs, so figured what the hell. And of course, the submission requirements specifically asked for NON-LAKE based stories, but this one was already written and you know. Irony.
But hey – it made it through 2 rounds of short lists and woo! Accepted. So, hopefully some time next year (maybe September?) you’ll get to read my lake mermaid story. Obviously I’ll post more details as I know them. (The working title is A Dream Most Ancient and Alone, but that may change. Or not.)
In other news, and non-genre related, if you read Magpie’s Song you may have noticed a release date for Magpie’s Fall as December 2017. Which I’m not going to be able to do. Not for lack of trying, mind – but between my need to rewrite a significant chunk of the book and some other issues that are completely beyond my control, it’s not done.
The cover is done – and it looks fabulous! But as of this point, I’m actually awaiting a second round of edits from my editor and until I have them, I can’t really go any farther. As far as when I can release it, I think I can safely point at March 2018, though if I can get it out earlier than that, I will.
Not that I don’t want to hurry things along, but I also want to make sure I make the best book I can and that sort of thing does take time – edits, cold reads, more edits, line edits, formatting. Lots of places to make adjustments.
In the meantime, I’m thick into the first draft of Magpie’s Flight, the third book in the series – I’m not going to make any release date promises, but I think it would not be unreasonable to have it out by September 2018, so bear with me on that.
Oh, and if you do read Fox & Willow, you’ll have noticed we’ve been on a bit of a hiatus – it is my hope to start putting the new chapter of that out within the next week or so – holidays being what they are, plus both Aimo and I have had a number of health issues that ranged anywhere from strep throat to wisdom tooth extraction to having a basal cell carcinoma removed, and well. Life gets in the way sometimes, I guess.
Apologies for the longer radio silence, things have been rather hectic.
And it’s not officially done, but here’s a sneak peek at part of the cover for Magpie’s Fall – I’ll be giving my newsletter peeps a more complete version in a bit once it’s done, but it’s exciting to have things moving on it.
That said, part of my lack of posts and whatnot is because I’ve been busy editing and rewriting the aforementioned book. I was actually fairly unsatisfied with my original draft and after I got my notes back from my editor I ended up reworking the first 150 pages or so and then adding an additional 50. Word count ended up increasing by about 20k initially, but I’ve pared it down some by getting rid of a lot extraneous filler sentences. I always end up with a particular phrase or word and use it to death, so at this point I have a running list of overused phrases that I do searches for when I’m done. I get really picky about word echoes – I hate them so much.
But I finally got those edits done and back off to the editor – there are still copy edits and cold reads to be done, but we’re that much closer to being finished and I think I should be able to get this out in December like I’d planned, so that is quite nice. (Wasn’t sure there for a bit, it took me quite a while to really dig into all those changes – it was a very painful process, but I’m much happier with it now.)
It’s a dark book, though. Probably a bit darker than the first (although hopefully the next one will NOT be as dark, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.) Suffice it to say, living in an underground mine filled with plague victims does not lend itself to niceties.
I’m officially taking this week off from writing – the last few weeks in particular have been very stressful and it’s taken a toll on some of my pain thresholds. (Plus I want to take advantage of some guilt-free anime binging and some gaming, since I stopped all that during the editing process – just not enough spoons to do it all, as the state of my house can attest, so there’s some hardcore decluttering in store for next weekend also.)
Not that it’s been all work, no play – I did manage to go hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains one weekend, and I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival this past weekend, though it was very crowded and full of yellowjackets.
Like it was a damn yellowjacket convention.
Look, I bought a witchy broom –>
But I’m looking forward to not thinking of much for the remainder of this week – I hardly knew what to do with myself last night, as I’d gotten into the schedule of logging off work and immediately plunging into the manuscript.
I did submit a short story off to an anthology – not sure if it fits the bill though – it’s one of those stories that gets really nice rejections everywhere, but just doesn’t fit? So we’ll see how it goes this time.
Next week? I’ll be continuing my draft of Magpie’s Flight – no ETA on that, though maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get it out by March/April, though we’ll see.
Oh and here – I’m sure everyone’s already seen this, but it’s awesome, so watch it again!