Freebie Fiction

There’s a post over on my Patreon that’s available to everyone, patron or not. It’s a short story I wrote back in 2009 or so. It’s one of my mom’s favorites. Check it out! Become a patron if you like, because I’ll be posting fiction there.

You can also just bookmark it to read it because I’ll be updating that more often than this poor, neglected blog.

If anyone knows how I can import my Patreon feed into a Squarespace website, let me know. I’d love to keep everything in one place.

The End of 2017

Around about August my left hand started to feel weird. This is something that happened before so I knew what it was -- the ulnar nerve was pinched. Four years ago I had surgery to fix it, but it came back.  This is not unheard of, but it's rare.  The surgeon said I was one of three people he had to repeat the surgery on.  Yay, for being a statistical outlier?

Anyhow, through September and October it was awful and awkward and I had no feeling in my left pinkie or ring finger. It felt like they were wrapped up in tape.  I could move them, but it didn't feel like anything. I could see my fingers curl but it didn't feel like that.  And by October the pinkie was so sensitive to temperature that five minutes outside in 40 degree (Fahrenheit) weather made it feel like I'd stuck my hand in freezing water.  I started wearing one glove at that point.

The surgery to fix it was in November. I ended up not being able to type for about three weeks -- except on my phone, since that was all thumb-based. I was off work for four weeks because even by the end of the third week I could type, but more than an hour of it would make my hand ache. It's now five weeks post-surgery and the tip of my ring finger is numb and my pinkie alternates between dull ache and pins-and-needles. But that means the nerves are waking up again, so I can tolerate the pain.  I'm still wearing one glove when I go outside. It's not quite cold enough for two, but that pinkie is still sensitive.

If you see someone in Baltimore wearing one glove, who had blue hair and is also covered in cat fur, that's probably me.

I skipped NaNoWriMo this year because I knew I'd be down for about half of it. I did do some writing (by hand! So retro!) but I can't read my own handwriting and it's all scribbled over with arrows and things everywhere so I really need to get back to typing-to-write. 

I also fell down on all my reading challenges for the year. I did manage to surpass my 26 books on Goodreads, but only managed one review for Cannonball Read 9. I am terrible at writing reviews.  Maybe for CBR10 I'll do a quarter cannonball and hopefully motivate myself enough to go beyond that.  I'm probably not going to pick up as many reading challenges as I did this year though. 

I really want to start writing again - for real and not just casually saying "Oh, I feel like writing". I like the part where people give me money for my books. 


NaNoWriMo Day 25

This year started strong.  I did a pretty good job of staying close to my daily wordcount and I had a good run of days in a row where I wrote. I finished the first chapter. I liked what was going on. I wasn't sure where it was going to continue to go, but it was going at least.

And then the internet went out in the house for a week. That was irritating.

And the election happened. That was heartbreaking and scary.

And then work got unexpectedly busy. That was kind of okay but tiring.

And then my significant other got incredibly sick.

We spent the night before Thanksgiving in the ER. He was admitted. Until today he was in the ICU. He's getting better now but I've been stressed and worried and trying to take care of the stuff that he usually does, the stuff I usually do, and trying not to fall apart completely because we are talking scary, incredibly sick. The good news is he's moving to a regular room today and hopefully he'll be home by Monday.

So as far as NaNoWriMo goes, what I'll probably do is edit what I've written, call it a short story, and release it on Patreon.  If you're not already a patron, now would be a good time. You're guaranteed a short story of about 3000 words that no one else will have read or will ever read.

I'm really hoping that starting in December I can get back on track. Maybe it's time to try something new with the writing - put the Pardoner stories back in the trunk for a while.

NaNoWriMo Day 5

Word Count: 616

Soundtrack: VNV Nation again.

Research: Waterfront Promenade

No writing happened yesterday. On Thursday my home internet was starting to crawl so I used my phone's data to connect.  I didn't want to do that yesterday as well, so I spent the entire night trying to troubleshoot the connection. Nothing worked. I spent about 90 minutes on the phone with my provider today and they finally determined that it may be the line coming into the house.  They'll have someone out here on Monday.

So tonight I'm back to using my phone data. I didn't want to lose another day, especially considering I may not be able to write tomorrow. I'm going to Pennsylvania with some friends to see a band.  If I don't write in the morning before we leave, I'll be even further behind.

Today's effort wasn't the best, but it was something at least. And now I'm done while I still have some data left.

Things I Learned at Balticon - Part 2

I knew I was leaving things out of the previous post.

  1. Useful websites:
    1. Submission Grinder - Does the same thing that Duotrope does, only for free. That is, it is "a submission tracker and market database for writers of fiction". 
    2. The Passive Voice - a lawyer who shares articles and writes about things relating to authors and publishers and self-publishing. It's not legal advice, but the site can give you information about things to watch out for.
    3. Writer Beware - (which I'd totally forgotten about!) for really detailed and up-to-the-minute warnings about scams, disreputable publishers, editors, or agents, and contests that aren't on the level.
  2. Writer's Digest magazine really does have good articles.
  3. Never submit a story to someone who tells you that you'll get paid in "exposure" only.
  4. Never submit to a publisher that requires you to pay them.

Things I learned when I got home:

  1. While I was gone, a large spider moved into my computer room and I must relocate to Canada. I love spiders, but this is not the web-kind. This is the "jump on its prey" kind and I don't need that kind of stress.
  2. My cats missed me.
  3. My do g is totally exhausted after three days of daycare and it's adorable.

Things I Learned at Balticon

It's actually things I learned or had reinforced at Balticon, but that isn't as snappy a title.

  1. Joe Haldeman's wife is a very sweet lady and I get the honor of calling her "Aunt" now because the whole Haldeclan is a fantastic bunch and will do things like "adopt" friends of the family. I'd never met her before this weekend. I still haven't officially met Joe.
  2. Several different people on several different panels said it's really important to read bad books and watch bad movies. Sometimes several times. Watch them and try to find what didn't work. Why is this a bad movie or book? What could fix it? Was their potential in it?
  3. There are a lot of highly acclaimed books that are actually pretty crap, and that's OK too. 
  4. There is nothing wrong with writing in the second person. 
  5. At least one person should hate a choice you made in your writing style.  But if the majority hates it, it was probably a mistake.
  6. Never kill the "dog".
    1. If you're going to kill the dog, don't do it by surprise. Foreshadow it so when people go back and re-read they'll realized they should have known all along.
    2. And by "foreshadow" they mean shadow. Don't make it obvious. Make it so the reader goes "Ohhh... that's what <that thing> meant" or "Crap. All those times they made heart attack jokes...".
  7. You can always go back and add foreshadowing in a later draft.
  8. Reading, researching, listening to music or podcasts, and watching TV can count as "writing time" so don't let people make you feel bad about that.
  9. Social media also counts as "writing time" because you're making connections and interacting with your audience. 
  10. DO NOT TEAR DOWN OTHER WRITERS.  That can hurt you professionally in so many different ways.
  11. DO NOT ARGUE WITH YOUR CRITICS. That can hurt you professionally in so many different ways.
  12. Writers' groups are brilliant things.  Also, people who really want to write professionally will not steal your ideas so don't be afraid to share. See rule 10. 
  13. You should write every day if you can. If you're in the middle of a depressive episode or totally fried from your day job or due to family stress/commitments, read instead. Watch TV.  Listen to music. See rule 8 and 9. Also rule 12.
  14. If you have a full-time job, take a serious break between ending one job and starting the writing. Especially if you work from home and your work space is also your writing space. Go write somewhere else if you can. 
    1. Connie Willis writes at Starbucks.
    2. Panera is also a popular choice.
  15. Writing longhand can sometimes help your brain switch between full-time-job and writing. It's also good if your day job involves a lot of typing, or to prevent you from getting stuck in a revision loop and not moving forward.
  16. Read the submission guidelines. Every time. Even if you've submitted to the place before because things may have changed. Follow them. Gimmicks or rule-breaking will get their attention, but not in a good way. It can hurt you professionally in so many ways. 
  17. Someone out there in the world made an incredibly amazing Dalek costume.

You Know You Don't Update Enough When You Can't Remember Your Password

Over on my Patreon page I'm doing a series of posts for patrons-only. For as little as a dollar a month you can get 30 short stories or scenes. It was supposed to be one a day for 30 days, but this week the non-writing life got a little stressful and while sitting down to write would have been a great stress reliever, sleep was also a pretty tempting stress-reliever. Also on Wednesdays the channel ION has a Law & Order (mothership) Marathon.  I'm still going to do the 30-topic challenge, but it's obvious that it's not going to be a daily thing.

I do a lot of writing longhand when I have some downtime at work: waiting for SQL queries to execute, while processes are running, and during lunch. So when work is busy I don't always get those chances.  When it's busy at work I don't really have the attention span or the energy to spend more time at a computer typing things. 

This means I'm also way behind on my Cannonball Read reviews. I'm only seven books behind in my reviews because I'm not reading a lot either. So I'm actually fourteen books behind, because I have seven to review and I have seven to read to catch up with where I should be in order to read 52 books this year.

The year is just about half over. Time to finally start all those New Year's resolutions and keep moving forward.

Patreon Reminder

Don't forget. I have a Patreon page. Right now the Spouse is off work recovering from surgery to repair a broken collarbone. If he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid (he's part-time). So throwing a little extra income in this direction will really help. Even just a dollar or two a month!

I'm working on figuring out what to do for rewards for patrons. Normally, if you pledge $10 I'll write you a short story about almost anything you ask. They'll be made available to all the patrons. Right now, in an effort to get some more support going, if you pledge $3.00 or more I'll make you the same offer -- make the pledge and then tell me what you want me to write. It'll then be made available to all patrons.

My Patreon Page is here: