Monday, November 29, 2010

Eek! The Holidays are Upon Us!

Thank goodness Thanksgiving is over… oh, wait, now I've got Yule and Christmas to plan for???

And _______ has a grand plan to do Really Awesome thing for _____ that I need to help with…

Deep breath.

And _______ is having a party.

So is ________.

Another.  Deep breath.

And I've got an editing deadline?

And when I REALLY DID intend to put my tax info together before now.  Well, it's all sorted into envelopes?  Yeah, I've sorted it into envelopes year round for the past three years… but my envelopes are better categorized this year?

I mean it this time:  DEEEEEEEP BREATH!

I have a horse!  :)  She puts me in the Now and lowers my blood pressure. That's great - but I have to cover the year end expenses and follow up with the vet!

-Gives self a stern look-

Deeeeeeeeeeeeeep Breaaaath.

Did I even mention my writing and the fact I did NOT finish my novel in November and I did NOT make 25 submissions? 

Yes, but I DID make 11, with one two more days left.  And, so far, *knocks wood,* only one novel rejection and two short story rejections so far.

And I DID get writing DONE on the novel.

Seriously, it's the holidays.  You're supposed to be sharing good will and charity.  And that includes yourself, Me.  (And anyone else who's listening.)

Yes, there are priorities and obligations with friends and family.  And y'know what? Right now those people I'm close with and care about among friends and family don't expect me to be perfect.  They expect me to be me, well, an eccentric, somewhat scatterbrained, but caring individual.  A writer - hell, most of them identify as writers, and I don't hold them to levels of perfection.  That's why we're close.  Those that hold me to unrealistic expectations (or, rather, unrealistic if you know me), well they'll be disappointed… and why should I care?

I've got priorities for stuff I'm paid to do.  Y'know what?  The abovementioned people placed above this priority get that.  And I know they've got mortgages, bills… basic necessities of food and family, too. 

I've got priorities for the causes I'm passionate about.  The people who pay me may "get" that, but I still need to get work done.  The people I care about also get that, and usually are willing to work with me around these things.  I do the same for them.

I've got to write my stories.  In my heart, this priority is two steps up, but in my mind I know I need to pay for things and that other people depend on my contribution to websites and fundraisers and that writing.

My heart is actually in a lot of places.  Most of my paid gigs I do not just for money but because I care about the stories, individuals, and missions associated with the gig.  Of course, it's also with my friends and family - with whom I've spent the past few days happily offline.

It's exhausting to be passionate. 

It's also fulfilling, amazing, and mind-blowingly awesome. 

I spent almost 3 hours tonight trying to figure out how to make a fan page on Facebook for the Bay State Equine Rescue.  I wanted to do it right so people could see what we did in their newsfeeds.  There was a lot of deleting and re-doing, and a lot of Google-ing and research, and I threw my whole self into this project.  I'm happy to have figured it out (so it appears), and do hope everyone goes to the page and Likes it. 

But I didn't get much else done besides answering email.

Those of us who are passionate throw every atom of our being into whatever project we're working on: making a fan page, writing an article, editing a website, baking cookies. 

For things we can rein in our passion on (like most emails and spaces between full-throttle-passion-engaged projects), we can multitask.  Once we're in the throes of a project, or even a part of a project with a beginning, middle, and end, it's often to the temporary exclusion of most else.  (A ringing phone, for example, will break my concentration and garner a glance at caller-id to see if it's a potentially life-or-death situation… I would assume fire alarms would too, but I'm happy to say I haven't had to test that.)

With the holidays, there are so many projects and so many priorities that I throw my whole self into, that I'm passionate about, that I so easily make myself sick when I ought to be enjoying and celebrating the passion I can share. 

I'm not alone in this, either.  In fact, most of the people I know & care about make themselves sick over the holidays.

Why?  How can we get around it?  What are ways we can remind ourselves that we should be celebrating our passions and loves?  What do we do to minimize feeling forced to perform for people and things we aren't passionate about or that we don't love?

I'll keep reminding myself of what I said before.  The people who I care about and who care about me understand… and I need to remind them of that, too. 

Celebrate the people and things you're passionate about during whatever holiday you celebrate (or don't celebrate) this December.  And let the people with whom you share true love and friendship with celebrate however they need.  And we should remind each other that we're doing this.  Because we care.  Because we all have things we're passionate about.

Happy December!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A beautiful show of Gratitude…

My friend & colleague, Tracy S. Morris, who you met in a blog interview here, is doing a special project to show thanks to the service men and women who protect our country.

With many members of our family having been in, or currently in, service to our country - a country despite however much it irks me I'm so proud to be a citizen of - I think this is a most wonderful gift.

Her family is going to local airports and handing out gift cards to men and women they see in uniform.

It's simple, it's beautiful, and it's a gesture that directly shows soldiers how much we appreciate them putting their lives on the line for freedom.

If you're thankful for freedom, for the promise of freedom, for the sacrifice of so many fellow Americans, consider helping Tracy and her family by donating to this project.

Here's the information from Tracy, herself:

·        $30 gift cards will be handed out personally by us to
soldiers at the airport who are traveling in uniform.

·        For every donation of 4 gift cards ($120), we’ll donate a
5th on your behalf for free.

·        We’re going to video the event and post it on YouTube with a
message of thanks to the troops with donor names.

·        You can put a short thank you message or indicate the gift
is given in honor/memory of someone who served.

For more info 866-408-6493 or

Thank you, Tracy and the Godsey Family for such a beautiful gifts.

And thank you to all the troops who put their lives on the line for the United States of America.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Obligatory cliché, sincere emotion?

Thanksgiving week.  All around the blogosphere, Americans and Ex-Pats are on the "I'm thankful for…" blogging horse. 

It sounds so awful to say it that way.

I've enjoyed a number of posts, and there most definitely is a lot of things and people I am - truly - thankful for.

I just feel overstimulated and overrun with thanks.  It feels like I'll just be shouting from my tiny little blog into the din of an arena concert where my heartfelt song will be drowned out and blended into an unintelligible roar.  Lost in a sea of sentiment, a drop indistinguishable from the overwhelming wave.

That doesn’t mean my gratitude is any less.

But I do make an effort to thank people in turn, throughout my blog.  Dear friends, favorite businesses, generous donors to the rescue, helpful colleagues… etc.

And I will thank you all in turn.

And I remember more of you than you may realize in my thoughts and prayers.


As a diversion, here are some of the things my characters are thankful for.  I'd say there were some spoilers but at the speed of my attempts at just finding an agent, you will likely forget them by the time of publication.

Or an editor will make some changes.

As of now:

Heather is thankful that herself, her friend, her best friend, and her brother are not killed by the kelpie.

Alec is thankful for his friends' and Shepherd's support that prevents him from being damned to Hell.

Joe is thankful to be not only alive, but not a vampire.

Thomas is thankful to have met and assisted Dr. Balland - er - Katherine.

Katherine is thankful for the android, Thomas, who has helped her rescue her kidnapped daughter, and that she can now hug her daughter in person.

Kyra and Marne are thankful to be alive and not to have accidentally killed anyone.

Aurelio is thankful… that he has enough patience to not kill Sophia.

Sophia is thankful that she is not in Hell.

Cameron is thankful for a reunion - no matter how bittersweet.

… and those are all the characters I'm grateful to have worked with so far this year, and for whom I'm grateful to share my life.  No matter how demanding they can be sometimes.

Thank you for reading my post!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Funny Furry Friday: Wild Kingdom Chateau Wooldridge

Welcome to this special edition of Wild Kingdom, where we'll explore wild animal habitats… a little closer to home.

This episode brings us to -- ------ Road in Auburn, Massachusetts.  A two-story colonial separated from surrounding suburbia by woods on four sides, cliffs on two.  As the human habitants, the Wooldridges, explain, the environment is a gathering place for many species.  A red-tail hawk regularly nests here.  A herd of deer frequently migrate through.  Turkeys, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Turkey Vultures, Barred Owls, Screech Owls all have been sighted. 

What makes this area so strange is the tameness of these wild creatures.  Most come within 10 or 20 feet of humans, unafraid.

Today, we'll look at one particular habitat and the curious behavior of the animals involved.

For the past 25 or more years, there has been an untouched pile of a hundred or so cinder blocks beneath sheets of plywood, sheetrock, and a truck cap.  The story about how it came to exist isn't important right now, because it's all about to be turned upside down.

Some history you do have to know is that the Wooldridge family added a companion predator to their pack approximately 4 years ago. 

It's a highly domesticated predator who, on record, has only managed to kill three field mice and a chipmunk - and although no autopsy was done, it's suspect that the animals were likely rather domestic and out of shape themselves.

Early (according to Mrs. Wooldridge who claims 11AM is early), visitors came to the Wooldridge residence to obtain cinder blocks for the construction of a stall for another companion, a horse, who lives off site.

Unbeknownst to the residents of the cinder block pile, their lives were about to change forever.

In a couple of hours of hefting and loading, the truck cap was moved, much of the wood taken, and then the cinder blocks started to disappear, too!

As the humans were moving these building materials, they uncovered several different members of the insect kingdom, and continued to find more and more evidence of field mouse nests and scat.  Upon reaching the cinder blocks, every third one had at least one hole full of mouse nest.  Every so often, the advancing humans would catch site of brown and grey bodies scurrying… and even staring right at them!

In all, a minimum of two or more dozen individuals were estimated as living in this maze of cinder block holes.  All demonstrated only minor fear of the creatures decimating their homes.  Most letting the humans come within inches, some even letting the humans "pet" them with gloved hands.  Unfortunately, we have no camera footage of these strange interactions, but here is a view of how much of their homeland was taken from them.

Close to 80% of the field mice's habitat was trucked away this day, leaving the remaining mice to make do with the few blocks left.

Or not.

The companion predator, known as Nylis, was introduced to what was left of the field mouse habitat to promote balance in a now over-populated area.  The humans did not want the mice to migrate into their domicile and wreak their own brand of havoc on the materials, food storage, and other things.

"Since she's not all that much of a hunter, I wasn't sure what she was going to do when she spotted the mice," says Mrs. Wooldridge.  "But once I put her on top of the pile of cinder blocks, she was all business… sort of."

"Sort of" is a good way to put it.  What happened next is an example of the strange, quite anti-Darwininan, behavior this environment promotes.

Within a matter of seconds, Nylis captured her the first field mouse of this population and, haphazardly carrying it in her mouth, brought it to the grass to inspect.  It died within moments.  The feline appeared confused, poking and sniffing the now still mouse.

Without a reaction from her prey, the feline returned to the blocks and within seconds had another mouse in her mouth.  This time, however, she was carrying it like a kitten, and she gently placed it on the grass.  From there, we watched quite the game of cat-and-mouse… only, with the cat letting the mouse escape into the woods every time. 

Even during the play, Nylis kept her claws withdrawn and no longer used her mouth.  Her bats were much more gentle than the strength demonstrated when she played with her humans - as if she now realized these creatures were delicate.

(Apologies again, for lack of photo proof.  All parties were laughing too hard to properly operate their electronic equipment.)

One might think that the mice would now know to run or flee, but the cat was still able to catch a mouse within seconds of returning to the cinder blocks - each one quite gently and like a kitten and none harmed again.

The humans watched this dance take place with three mice and then retired to the house to conduct business, letting the cat stay with the mouse population.  Something she appeared pleased to do.

Upon completion of the business, approximately half an hour later, the humans returned to the scene of destruction.  No more rodent cadavers were found, nor a hint of blood, but there were also no more mice scurrying around the blocks.

Well, almost no more mice.

It was agreed that this one looked so sad and pitiful that the humans moved the blocks so Nylis would not find him, but he could still go out.

With the rodents evicted in a direction away from the human domicile, all retreated to the two-story colonial and Nylis was given a bowl full of snacks in hopes she might have a positive affirmation that she continue to evict field mice from the human territory.

While such a behavioral show might seem anti-Darwinian, recall that these mice have had that relatively safe habitat - hard to get to by the mostly avian predators of the area - for what could be close to a hundred generations of mice.  And in such close quarters, inbreeding is sure to occur.  Although the local predator only killed one, these animals will now fend for themselves among the other habitants of the human neighborhood - such as other cats, dogs, and now the avian predators.  The cat, being domestic and sharing a domicile with a prey animal - a 10-year-old rabbit - has learned that actual hurting of prey animals normally results in punishment, so her adaptability to the environment also shows. 

(That, and she has been altered so she cannot reproduce, anyway.)

We hope you've enjoyed this close-to-home safari into a Not-So-Wild Kingdom.  Remember, you can find life or death drama and appreciate the world around you… just by paying attention in your own back yard.

Thank you for joining us!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More on Riding & Writing…

Have you ever had that feeling that a certain purchase will leave you with buyers remorse?  Particularly an expensive one?

I was so happy that ended up NOT the case after the Equine Affaire this weekend!

I like big butts and I cannot lie... and pretty braids
Have you heard of Monty Roberts?  If not, the shortest, quickest introduction is he is the trainer who the movie, The Horse Whisperer, is based on.  Among the horse-training community - particularly those of us who believe in non-violent training - he is a legend!

The 75-year-old legend (Yes, he's 75 and still working with horses, frequently dangerous horses) was at this year's Equine Affaire.  After seeing his amazing clinic, I, along with a few hundred others, flocked to his booth to buy the combination set of stuff that his publicist walked out between horses to remind him to promote.

I planned to buy a bunch of stuff for Calico at the EA:  A saddle, a better lead rope, a bit, an extra long lunge whip, gloves for me… and chocolate for Scott (because I was spending so much $).  I got the saddle.  (Yay!)  I also bought breeches (which I needed) and long underwear (ditto), and do you know how hard it is to find that stuff in my size?*  However, I couldn't get anything else but the fudge for Scott.  As the weekend passed, I started to question the Monty Roberts package that had cost $99. 

I need not have questioned.  The Monty Roberts stuff not only worked magic with Cali - but it helped my writing!

Always Learning

Another great horse trainer I've mentioned before is Karen Scholl of Horsemanship for Women.  Besides her lesson on always getting do-overs, her other major piece of advice is to keep learning.  I've always embraced that, too… and sometimes learning works in mysterious ways.

Within the first few chapters of Monty Robert's book, From My Hands to Yours, he breaks down some of the most basic equine body language.  It's great for understanding Calico, but the opening scene of my current WIP is a fight between two stallions - and I was missing some key information!  Not only that, but what Roberts described would add so much more tension and chill to the scene.  It also will affect later scenes and a small bit of how the plot will unfold.

Can I tell you how happy I was to learn this?!

If you have any horses in your books, I cannot recommend this book enough.  It will give so much more depth and reality to your equine characters!

The Difference of Choice

The other part of the kit was this thing called a Dually halter, and you use it with a pair of extra-long long lines to simulate steering with reins from the much safer position of on the ground and not directly behind the horse (a frequent place when using regular-length long lines).

Have a cookie so we can see the pretty mane braid.
Normal lungeing (making your horse exercise by moving around you in a big circle) has a horse hitched to one really long line and you pushing the horse forward with a whip (no, not actually hitting the horse, but making noise and creating pressure). With Calico, about 3/4 of the way through training, she starts getting impatient and starts heading for a door (or the far end of the ring).  Her other frequent trick is to turn into me and give me those pleading, "Can we stop yet? Plee-ee-ase?" eyes. 

Without getting into a lot of detail for y'all who aren’t horse people, having the long lines on either side of this particular halter (which puts pressure on the nose based on the horse's movement) gave me more control of her head, and therefore what direction she was going.  So, if she tried to get out, the inside line created pressure on her nose and the outside line was on her butt (which prevented the "Look how fast I can move my big butt out of your pressure range!" trick).  If she returned to the circle, the pressure released.  If she turned toward me, the outside line tightened, and to release the pressure, she would have to return to the circle.

The key, of course, is that she is the one choosing the actions.  I'm not being a demanding human that gets angry and chases her for reasons she doesn't understand. 

By the end of this one session, she moved much better and answered my cues right away.

In fiction, most of us LOVE to torture characters and put them in difficult situations.  This works great when we let the characters figure out how to get out of these situations.  A lot of writers, though, will crack a whip and drive and force the characters on a plot path, though.  And it feels forced.  The characters aren't moving naturally and the writer gets frustrated and pissy because the characters just aren't cooperating!  And if you're writing non-fiction and you want readers to do something, the same mentality works.  Most people high-tail outta high-pressure sales pitches as fast as scared horse.  Design the situation so that you aren't the one applying pressure.  The pressure is there, and your writing will relieve the pressure.

For a horse, the logical decision is to not have extra pressure on their body.  It's the human's job to design things so that doing what you want becomes the horse's logical, unforced, choice.  It's the writer's job to design things so that doing what you want becomes the characters' or readers' logical, unforced, choice.

The Right Tools

The key to this lesson, of course, was having the right tools to pull it off.  I couldn't have simulated this experience with a regular halter and lunge line.  Even my bitless bridle wouldn't have worked as well.  These tools were very well engineered to do many different things - well beyond what I just described.  (Alton Brown would be proud at how multi-tasker these things are!)

A good writer also needs to have the right tools.  And the writing needs to multitask.  Strong dialogue should move the plot forward and show character development, if not also build tension, provide comic relief, or explain some aspect of the world.  One should also be able to do all that with narration, too.  Some of the best writers I know can even make their white space multitask.

Learn what tools you have available to you, and learn them well.  Some scenes need the pacing of dialogue, so knowing that tool for the right scene is critical.  Other scenes need narrative.  If you haven't taken time to learn all the ways writers get their message across, you might be missing out on some fabulous tool that's exactly what you need for a troubling scene!

So, keep learning, create situations where the logical choice (for characters, and even readers) is your desired outcome - but don't force it, and discover and utilize the right tools for the job.

Happy Writing - and Riding!

* The breeches look like jeans, which I've worn through two pairs since getting Calico.  Also, the purchase was from an independent, woman-owned business.  Despite the cost, I wasn't feeling remorse over those purchases.  ;)  Yay, Curvy Cowgirl!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Have you forgotten your Achievements?

One of the things I talk about frequently is setting goals for myself, and whether or not I meet them.

People think I'm organized because I do this, but my Mom knows better.  I love my spreadsheets, I like being able to track my work, and I actually kinda like making to-do lists. 

My problem, as I've addressed many times, is one that I believe I share with a lot of writers.  It's a specific kind of time management issue.

"Of course I can…"

In my attempts to pare down my email to a manageable amount of e-to-dos, I went through a good 20+ FundsforWriters newsletters.  There were two themes that the brilliant C. Hope Clark addressed in her opening comments.  One is something I have little patience for: People asking for handouts and who refuse to educate themselves.  We are so lucky, blessed, fortunate to live in a day and age where we can sit at home and learn!  I have a ton of books on writing, the business of writing, markets, etc.  And now I can just hop on Google and get even more information.  FOR FREE!  So, I have no patience for people who can't be bothered to help themselves.  In fact, they make agents and editors grumpy and, therefore, indirectly make my life and the lives of people I care about more difficult.  They can go suck it.  They don't deserve publication. (That's my opinion, not Clark's.)

Believe it or not, that's only a small digression.

The other kind of people Clark addresses are those of us who are constantly doing more than we are physically capable of.  Or, at least trying to.  (And occasionally succeeding beyond the laws of physics.)  People like us will spend hours reading these free articles online to better our craft, to discover markets… and we want to contribute to them and help others out!  Not only that, there's often a chance to get paid - and therefore validate all the time we spent.

In fact, people like us often have guilty consciences and are experts at rationalizing.  "I need to give back…"  "I need to find even more paying work so I don't feel bad about making less than my spouse/significant other…"  "I can become a better writer by trying this market…"  "Doing a 'quick' fun project like this is good for the soul!"  "This publication will look great on my résumé/cover letter/query letter…"

We're over achievers.  And damnit, we're good at it!  I can look back on weeks where I had multiple articles due, a convention scheduled, and I got dinner on the table for my Husband-of-Awesome - and one of those dinners could have been on the cover of Gourmet!  Ok… maybe I crashed and burned for the following day or so and couldn't get out of bed… but look what I did! 

Of course I can do it again!

Because we also aren't always that good at enjoying that moment of accomplishment.  (Unless we're in the throes of writing - then we're so deep in the moment you may need to physically shake us to ensure we'll leave a burning house.)  When it comes stuff we must do, we accomplish a task and move on.  That's all fine and well to meet goals, get published, finish a project… but when you've got an imagination as big as most writers have and, like most writers, set goals that only a very few human beings may ever reach (who, of course, only met those goals on the way to their own super-big secret goals) … you can see where this is going, I hope?

Tonight I posted a happy squee on Facebook about a great review on a short story that Christy and I really worked our arses of to do.  I threw it around most of my social networking links and then some! 

And then I went back to fretting my email down to < 100, getting 2 submissions out (because I didn't do one yesterday), and "crap I forgot my blog post!" and "I still haven't gotten to the Broad Universe web pages or the Bay State Equine Rescue web articles, God-I'm-an-awful-person-because-people-are-depending-on-me!"  Oh, and there's those two short stories and one poem that have been nagging me to get them written for quite some time…


You know what I did today?  I'm telling you because I need to stop and appreciate it.  (And I bet that a bunch of you need to do this for your days, too!)
I finally caught up with a neighbor that's been a friend to the Wooldridge family long before I was a part of it.  He's going to be 92 tomorrow and his wife recently broke her hip, but is ok, just on a cane.
I sat down with my webmistress for some long-overdue updates.
I wrote about 1500 words on my WIP over lunch at my favorite deli - eating healthy.
I had lunch with my Mother-in-Law who really needed some companionship.
I loaded several wheelbarrows of wood to the front porch. (Raah! Feel my muscles!)
I did necessary housework: dishes, cat-tending, fire-tending
I helped half a dozen students with their work, and a few tutors with theirs.
I made a yummy dinner.
I not only got my email down to < 100 inbox letters, but <75. (From 170 beginning of my day… or more!)
I finalized a whole lot of stuff for the Broad Pod.
I started organizing 2 Rapid Fire Readings.
AND I promoted a pretty fabulous review that I'm really proud of… which I'll even post below this because, really, it's a great compliment to the work Christy and I did.

And you know what, that's a fucking lot of stuff!  About half of it I did without thinking of the time/effort, and more than half wasn't even on my to-do list.

Am I still conflicted about the stuff that I didn't do?  Well, yes, but I have a feeling that that will be a constant state for all my life.  That line of contentment I will always get closer to with the more I accomplish, but will never ever touch. 

And, in my mind that can argue anything, I'm further conflicted in knowing that, "Shit, yeah, I can get a lot more done than most people in a day," and learning where to stop myself so I can not let anyone down when I overbook myself not just beyond a normal-person's ability, but my own capabilities.

One thing I can change, though, is the negativity and the uselessness of only doting on what I didn’t accomplish.  I can also continue to approach that horizon of knowing how much I can schedule for myself successfully. 

Just like I have no patience for people who can't be bothered to educate themselves, I also get irritated by people who will only see the negative.  If you fail, turn it into a lesson.  Make use of it.

And for goodness sake, give yourself credit! 

And you, dear readers, what are some of the things you fail to give yourself proper credit to??  :)  Please share in the comments!


And here is me being proud of Chrisy's and my accomplishment - and the collective accomplishment of all the authors and editors from BAF3: In All Their Glory. 


It isn't until "The Last Gate to Faerie" by Trisha Woodridge and Christy Tohara that we start to see real bad-asses and tight writing. This is one of the few stories in the anthology in which the character’s emotions are palpable and the stakes vivid and real.

Nancy is a mortal female trapped in Faerie, which has been decimated by nuclear fallout. She’s trying to get back to Worcester, Massachusetts, and her fae husband and baby, but the gates keep closing. And Nea’Kal, the faerie overlord hell bent on revenge, is not about to let her get away.

“Their toxic world had only slowed their damned breeding. Humanity gave nothing to Earth save wars and pollution. Poisoned. They poisoned the Earth, her children. Poisoned him. They needed to be exterminated.”

Ms. Woodbridge and Ms. Tohara succeed in capturing
Nancy’s desperation as she and the half-breed pixies, trolls, Sidhe and even a purple haired squirrel spirit try and help. And the villain, Kal, is well-drawn, providing him with ample motivation for his ruthless pursuit.

Full review on:

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Rainy Monday

I'm not sorry to post this mostly through my Monday as opposed to before I begin this week.

I want to share a story from today.

The sun shone for the first half of the trip out to the horse barn, then I needed my windshield wipers.  It had rained on and off all day, so all the girls were in.  I normally expect to spend at least 2 hours at the barn when I go, and obviously no exercise was going to happen in this cold, wet weather, so I took each mare out and gave her a good brush down and cleaned her stall.

Rainy days mean craptacular stalls… quite literally.

Calico is usually good for half a wheelbarrow of crap (actual defecation + wet shavings); she almost filled it today.  Both Barbie and Dancer (the massive drafts) had overfull wheelbarrows.  No biggee - my arms & thighs burned in a good way from the exercise.  (This is not a new lesson.  Since we got the woodstove, I became acutely aware of the work involved with moving heavy wheelbarrows!  Poop and shavings, however, strike an easier balance than wood.)

Rachel, Sue's daughter, had impeccable timing to come down and visit.  She taught me a better way to herd chickens (so they wouldn't get out with the wheelbarrow loads to the designated Poop Mountain.)  She also showed me a few tricks to keep Dancer, who's still a young and spirited horse - that's HUGE, from pushing me around.  By the end of our grooming session, I'd found Dancer's happy-scratch spot and her impatient pawing had gone down significantly.  When it was Barbie's turn, I couldn't find her happy-scratch spot, but she was still great to hang out and cuddle with.

Calico, of course, was her usual sweet self, and we got lots of cuddling time - on the crossties and in her stall.  We have this nice head-leaning thing going on, where we touch foreheads and I rub all over her face and jaw.  She's also a good nuzzler on my cheek and shoulder - truly the gentlest horse I've ever known.  On top of that, we're getting better at communicating.  She realizes when I'm massaging (no, I'm not certified or trained - just pretty good at it), and will move herself to show me where she's stiff or where she wants me to work.  I can tell she knows because I do find some tightness and the occasional knots in those spots. 

I left the barn feeling amazing, knowing I was leaving three happy horses who nickered goodbye at me. 


The lesson: Enjoy whatever you can.  I feel like I can get everything done on my to-do list tonight because I feel like I got a lot accomplished - physically and on a bonding level with all three horses. 

I also hopped back on the Wii today.  Though it told me it was 152 days since the last time it saw me, it still had that "friendly tone," and I ended up scoring an "age" of 23… so despite the fact I was up 2 lbs (not too bad, actually), I was fit.  I'll hop on again tomorrow before I'm off to the barn again. 

As long as I'm alive, I can always start over! 

There's still a lot to do this week, but no Impending Deadlines of Doom - at least not for articles - so I'm feeling good.

Even though it's a rainy Monday. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

5 Things I'm doing instead of NaNoWriMo

… or, a bunch of other quirky acronyms.

It was a hard decision, but I decided against joining the insanity of National Novel Writing Month this year.  Last year was wonderful, and Chris and I got a good start on another joint novel that I'm still really excited about.

If only we'd finished.

In fact, there's quite a few "if onlys" that need be addressed.

So, instead of starting yet another new project - or cheating and counting the 50k+ words I need to write for multiple projects - I've got other plans.

5.  NaNoSubMo

I have a polished, finished novel.  It's spent far too many months sitting quietly and not being asked to work or show off.  So, she's off.  As of now, I've spent copious hours back on QueryTracker updating my list.  I've sent off 2 so far.  Wish me luck!

4.  NaShoStoPoSubMo

I also have about a dozen short stories and a dozen more poems that need homes.  I've sent off "Manipulation" so far.

On submissions, my goal is to send one thing, be it short story, poem, or novel query, out for every one of my workdays, so Sunday-Thursday.  By the end of the month, I should have 22 submissions out there.  :)  Heck, I may aim for 25!

3. NaFiArtMo

My good friend, Stef, withdrew from the comic project, so I need to find an artist - for Aurelio and for another idea I have brewing.  I have two people I recently met.  I MUST follow up with them.

2. NaWebWriMo

I've got two websites I volunteered to either be responsible for content on or just to supply content.  Oh, and I've been slipping on this blog - despite some really cool article ideas I want to write about.  So, yeah.  Must do those.

1.  NaFiNoMo

In addition to the novel I started with Christy last year, I've got two more novels and a comic script that needs finishing.  Thomas, Heather, and Aurelio are depending on me to tell their stories!  While Thomas is probably the closest to being done, Heather has been talking more.  (That may be related to Heather being a demanding 11-year-old girl and Thomas being an android programmed to serve humans.)  Aurelio really needs me to have an artist to push me and give me feedback. But ONE of them will be finished this month.  (Spoiler Alert!  It will probably be Heather.)

I have nothing against NaNoWriMo and entirely support all of my friends who are going for it this year.  For me, though, it's not the best decision.  I don't need to kickstart a new project; I need to finish the race with the stuff I've already got running. 

You know what, though… I do think it calls for another of my nifty spreadsheets!

Here's the blog friendly version:

Submissions:  Week 1:  3  Notes: On schedule.
Fiction, Heather:  Week 1: Words written -2353, Total WC - 29,439; Notes: about 1/2 done

And throw a big fat goose egg on the rest… and it will probably have 30 rows for the days and look entirely different than what I've got here. 

So, to my friends embarking on this year's NaNoWriMo journey, good luck.  If you're like me and realize that it doesn't fit, make a goal of your own and I'll wish you luck, too. 

We writers need all the support, organization, drive, and general whip-cracking we can get!

Monday, November 1, 2010

And This Week's Manic Happenings…

Wait, I can actually breathe and catch up this week! 

Or, mostly, catch up.

I owe my WoMag editor a list of bakeries for the next "______ Woo" series.
Cali's moving back to where I'm boarding her this week.
That email needs to get below 100.
I need to get back to updating the BSER Facebook page regularly.
And I need to finish the edits for both websites - eep!
Oh… and want to write down that short story that attacked me last week.

The Halloween weekend was pretty awesome.  We had a successful Halloween party, despite our lack of efforts in planning.  Before that, we'd kidnapped some friends for the annual Repo! The Genetic Opera event with Genetic Imperfection with the most kind and wonderful Terrance Zdunich, creator and star of the show, who's currently working on the excellent comic, The Molting.

My friend Stina, Terrance, and me - photo taken by H-of-A on Stina's phone.

After the party (where we were having too much fun to take pictures), we went to the wicked Voltaire concert. 

The awesome Voltaire & me, photo by line-friend Erin - love strangers who become friends in signing lines!
 I wrote about how much I love Voltaire in this blog, and I got a nifty interview with him for Worcester Magazine, which he signed.  You can read the article online here, too.

Squee!  He signed my article!

Tonight, I just got back from being a guest on Dr. Chris's Radio of Horror.  I touted the EPIC finalist placement for Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory and even read some poetry from The Unicorn and the Old Woman.  I also chatted about faerie folklore and legend and other various dark material.  I shared the show with some other cool people.  In the studio with me was the Husband-of-Awesome, T.J. May, Geoffrey H. Goodwin, and Brenda Sullivan of the Gravestone Girls.

So, now that I got to do a little planning and bragging, I'm off to bed in hopes of achieving this great "Catch-Up" dream in the week to come!

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