Blog Archives

What I Believe

Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Feed it hope. Feed it truth. Feed it with love.I keep imagining I’ll get back on the pace of writing several thousand words in a week, and keep watching my weeks slip through my fingers with an excess of worries and work. While one friend is struggling with chemo, another two are prepping for surgery, mom’s recovering from surgery, and the friend whose surgery kicked off the season of hospital visits has finally bounced back to her normal self. I’m not sure why, but something of the Ides of March seems to infect most of the people I know on an annual basis, and it feels like we’re all just gritting our teeth to get through something of our own personal shit storms. Including Gayla, who’s been delayed in finishing her latest novel, too.

So this week’s image seemed like a worthy message. A reminder that there are things to celebrate, too. One of my writer buddies, who happens to be my birthday twin, announced big book news this week. The writer friend who’s been battling with her psoriatic arthritis diagnosis got a new job. A third author friend is stepping firmly into the role of letting her creative work be her full-time income.

And The Expanse got re-upped for a third season. And the Iditarod came to a successful close again.

Plus, my book Dementional was featured on Cara Bristol’s Backlist to the Future blog series this week.

In entirely unrelated happy news, I saw today that researchers in Japan were studying the human-canine bond, and, in particular, the nature of puppy-eyes gazes we give each other. What they describe as a short-cut to bonding with humans certainly feels intentional in my three, and whether it’s the oxytocin release the researchers proved, or something more profound, I can say that the best moments of my days are frequently given to me by the love they serve up unstintingly. I’m so grateful for their reminders to be in the moment, feeding myself on that most positive of emotions.

Despite all the busy-ness, hubs and I still got to cuddle up and catch up with last week’s episode of The Expanse. The nature of the high-stakes decisions and the evolution of the characters makes this a gripping adventure to track–and, as the article I linked to above indicates, quite politically relevant. I’m thrilled we have quite a few more episodes ahead of us, because not one has failed to spark an interesting discussion afterward.

Nonetheless, across three days, I managed 761 words on the third Red Slaves novel, putting me at nearly 75% done. So long as I keep taking baby steps, I will eventually finish this book as well.

Next week is the official kick-off for the next round of words, wherein we state our goals for the next 80 days, but I’m beginning as I mean to go on, and will push myself for more consistent and higher word counts to be able to finally cross the finish line on a novel that is now several years in the making.

Doing All The Things

"It isn't about setbacks, it's about how you deal with them." -Zen to ZanyI just finished my big task of the week: Editing Gayla’s sixth book in her Discord Jones series, A Little Street Magic. I’m super-excited for her to release it–the overall story arc keeps getting stronger and more intriguing. I just don’t think I’ll be finishing what I started for NaNoWriMo with the number of days I’ve fallen behind. At this point I’d need to be able to write more than 3,000 words per day to finish… which isn’t impossibly outside the realm of possibility.

Except, life.

Thanksgiving, I will be cooking and hosting (and we need to spend time cleaning, too). The day after, we have another family event to attend. I’ve finally gotten my replacement computer, and need to spend time getting it all set up. KouKi went in for her spay Friday, and because she’s healing spectacularly quickly, I need to spend a lot of time walking her to make sure she’s not yet jumping, playing, or running up and down stairs. Felix is back in his sick tank, so I’m trying a new medicine that requires full water changes every night.

Hubs is doing his best to give me a good attitude adjustment, but it’s back to my old bugaboo about not finishing what I say I will when I say I will. Zen to Zany had a good image to align with what I’m feeling (stuck in the mud) and an even better way to realign my thinking. So I’m going to keep going and be where I am when the month comes to a close. And keep up with the good habit of daily doses of fiction words–even if they only come in dribbles of a few hundred at a time. Eventually, I will finish all three of my current WIPs, even if each of them is taking much longer than I had hoped for or anticipated.

Another mental adjustment I’m happy to make: Take away the name Isis from terrorists. A mental adjustment I’d urge helicopter parents to make: stop with trying to insulate kids from the bad things in life. A recent article by people who know about human psychology pointed out that things like trigger warnings and claims of micro-aggressions are making it more difficult for people to recover from mental health problems, because the best road to recovery is a process of desensitization. Not that we shouldn’t be empathetic and kind with our fellow humans, and learn from our mistakes when we legitimately make them–let’s just not encourage more people to be mired in mental illnesses that can be treated in safe and humane ways.

As for my other goals… We started a walking challenge at work this week, so I know I’ve taken 27,815 steps, which beat the week’s goal, but I haven’t taken the time to calculate miles exactly. (I suspect it’s around 12 for the week, so that finally beat my goal.) I haven’t gotten to spend much time with hubs because of all the other things I’ve had on my plate, so the Thanksgiving holiday will be a good reminder to enjoy his company more, too.

Otherwise, check in with the other ROW80ers to see how they’re progressing, and I’ll be back next week with my next installment of my own forward momentum.

Happy Birthday, Kyra

Kyra, 16Because it’s been one of those kinds of months, and because there is so much change underway (more on that tomorrow), I’m celebrating my first fur-baby’s birthday with a sale. Kyra turns 16 January 26th. She was our first Husky, and what I consider our best wedding gift to ourselves.

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That she’s still with us and still going strong is a testament to her will and flexibility as she’s followed us around the country in our various moves. We are seeing some hip degeneration as she ages and there are times when she’s more absent-minded than she’d been as a younger dog, but she still manages her environment with the same finesse, and enjoys her daily play time and cuddles–and all the walks we can give her. So we’re blessed.

Which brings me to the celebration point: I’m setting Dementional on sale this week for $2 off. Partly because of what could be Kyra’s mental wanderings, but also because she seems to have mastered the dimensions to be with us for so much longer than the average life-span of a Husky.

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I hope you enjoy this celebration with all of us! Watch for the price change on both Amazon and Smashwords in the next few hours. The sale will run through the end of the month.

Allergy Season

Kyra, helping to kick up leaf mold to make me sneeze more

Kyra, helping to kick up leaf mold to make me sneeze more

It’s been one of those weeks… Where your allergies poke through your sinuses like a distracting spear and generate regular headaches of epic proportions. So it’s been easy to rationalize feeling too tired to face all my many goals and deadlines.

The good thing: I still managed to stay ahead of my schoolwork and turn in all my assignments on time.

The bad thing: even though I didn’t spend every night of the week working on schoolwork, I didn’t spend any time working on my fiction writing.

I’m still enough of a Pollyanna to think I’m going to make my self-imposed end-of-month deadline for book two of the Red Slaves series. (You can stop laughing now!) School assignments are at least reminding me that I’m a pretty speedy writer–and my professor’s assessments tell me that even at speed I’m coherent.

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My other, new goal: Since it looks like the anthology will be a no-go, I don’t want to lose the short story I previewed a while back. I think I’m going to rework it slightly and release it as a Halloween short, as a preview of a new urban fantasy series whose plot bunnies are chasing through my brain. We’ll see how well all these writing goals pan out… and I’m counting on these weekly ROW80 check-ins to keep me honest in their pursuit.

Visit the list of other ROW80 participants to see how theyโ€™re dealing with their goals.

ROW80 Check-in: Puppy Birthday

Puppy in her party hatAnother week of graduate school under my belt; all assignments turned in before their due dates/deadlines. That is actually starting to feel like a major accomplishment (and a goal worth reporting on), since this week I was assigned a literature review in preparation for the final paper for the course. That meant I wrote close to 1,700 words on that assignment, and at least 5,000 for the various discussion board/class participation assignments. Since I’ve been caught in the indie publishing revolution, I decided to study up on that and the management decisions that go with it for this series of assignments.

So I was lucky to churn out my handful of hundred words on my WIP. We’ll see whether I can manage the goal of 1,000 next week.

Part of the reason I still think it will be possible to write creatively: today was Natasha’s second birthday. (You can see her wearing her party hat in the picture to the right; even though she’s up to 47 pounds, she still manages to be a lap dog when she wants to be.) We decided to make the weekend special for her by taking her on a long trek through Lake Park yesterday, and an even longer trek along the Menomonee River tonight. We also stopped at the Dollar Store to pick up some cheap stuffed animals for the girls to dismember and a few other goodies to keep the girls entertained and full of good food.

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I’m grateful my back is back to normal, though I spent a LOT of Saturday just catching up on sleep, so this week should be more productive for me.

Please find more Row80 participantsย HERE.

Husky Birthday: 14 Years Young

KyraToday marks the 14th year since a remarkable Husky was born. According to her pedigree (the least of her value), Kyra was born January 16, 1998 of sire G’s Saxman Red Devil and dam Nikolai of Classy G in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last year she had to have a few rotten teeth pulled, and we’ve always paid attention to her sensitive tummy, but she’s outlived two Huskies we rescued after Kyra had joined our family and has always had a remarkable energy and contentment in the way she carries herself through her life.

In honor of her birthday, here’s an excerpt from what I’ve written so far of Sacred Whispers, a book about all of our various pets and animals I’ve known, remembering how we were introduced and how she settled in to our lives and our hearts:

Both of these experiences left me rather ambivalent about getting another pet, but having a life partner adjusted my thinking sufficiently that immediately after we returned from our honeymoon, we started scanning ads in the local paper for a puppy of our own. We made appointments to see three or four, and figured we would make the decision after having investigated all our options. We intended our first dog together to be our wedding gift to each other. Little did we expect that our new puppy would have been born within 2 weeks of our ceremony, and therefore all the more meaningful a tribute to our joining our lives together.

As it happened, we went to the Husky breeder first, on a Monday night after work. Kyra was penned up in the back yard with her four brothers and parents. When we arrived, and the pups were let out for our inspection, Kyra made a beeline for my lap, and crouched there as if she would need to be forcibly removed. The expression in her eyes, as we watched her rough and tumble brothers pile off under the porch, was pure “save me from these rowdies!”

The breeders took this as a sign that we were meant to take her home that night. We were in no way prepared to bring home a bundle of puppy energy… but the price was right, and Kyra had wormed her way into my heart with no difficulty whatsoever. So we made a quick run to KMart before all the local stores closed for the night, and picked up doggie dishes, leash, collar, and those few essentials necessary to keep the puppy fed and safe as we took her out to relieve herself in our unfenced yard.

She settled in as if she had always been with us: She slept through that first night, and was generally very loving and surprisingly easy to train. She soon acted as if she understood our conversations with each other, and her Husky vocalizations certainly sounded as if she had her own words to contribute.

Here’s to another year of happiness with our first baby. And here’s crossing my fingers that her good health continues to sustain her through at least several more years; the world will be a darker place without the light she embodies within it.

Furry Angels – Sacred Whispers

Kyra & NatashaThe other day one of my Triberr buddies, @JustinBog, posted about Russell Blake’s Pet Wall, since his Zippy is prominently featured there. As I read the stories outlined on that site, and in particular Blake’s explanation regarding the inspiration for his latest book, An Angel with Fur, I was particularly moved by his desire to help street dogs in Mexico.

Since I’m an unabashed animal lover, I could totally appreciate his sentiment–and had, in fact, started my own book, titled Sacred Whispers, some time ago, though I wasn’t exactly sure whether there would be a market for my interpretation of the importance and impact of the relationships I’ve had with various pets over the years. Now I’m curious to read his book to see his take on sharing a life with a furry angel.

For myself, I can’t help but share a recent picture of the two furry angels currently gracing us with their presence. It doesn’t take much for me to post an *awww, squee* moment, so I do try to self-edit that way, so you can blame this edition on Blake and Bogdanovitch…

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The two pictured above are Kyra (on the left) and Natasha (on the right, with a chew). Kyra celebrates her 14th birthday this January, and was the best wedding gift we gave ourselves–we got her from a breeder in Charlottesville, VA, shortly after we returned from our honeymoon, and she was born just before we got married, so in my heart represents all the good things about my marriage.

Natasha just celebrated her first birthday in September. We got her from a Wisconsin breeder after we had suffered the loss of our two rescue puppies last year (both due to complications of old age; ironically, both were younger than Kyra). We were worried about Kyra having the stamina to establish herself again over a rescue who might or might not have dominance issues, so we decided that we would get a puppy this time around. This tactic worked beautifully to pull all three of us out of the deepening depression that settled on us as we mourned the loss of two pack-mates within six months of each other, and I can’t say enough about the importance of having a reminder to be joyful living in the house with us.

Now… If I manage to keep up with my NaNoWriMo commitment this year, maybe I’ll sit down again in the new year to finish my own tome on living with and learning from the furry angels who have graced us with their presence.

A Month of Puppy

Natasha - four months old

Natasha - four months old

It’s been a month since we welcomed our newest little girl to the house, and it’s hard to believe how much she has grown and changed… Except when I do a picture comparison. She’s likely over 20 pounds now, and is starting to really evolve into her own personality.

Her most endearing habit: Getting up on the bed with us in the morning (I still have to heft her up at this point, since she’s not *quite* big enough to jump up by herself yet), cuddling up between us, and bathing us both with kisses.

Less happy habits include chewing on speaker wires (I just finished my third splicing effort tonight), and protest pooping when we’re gone in the afternoon. She’s a sneak about that, too, making it all the harder to find “teachable moments”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

She’s still abundantly curious, though we need to continue to work on socialization since she’s a little shy when visitors show up, but it’s a whole lot easier raising a puppy with a fenced back yard than not. When Kyra was this age her zooms through the house would have her bouncing off furniture (and US!), which was a little less comfortable for all involved. As of this afternoon, it seems Natasha has almost integrated “Zoom” as a command, since she was tearing around the yard in circles around me each time I suggested it–high entertainment for both of us!

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I’m still looking for a good puppy kindergarten in the Milwaukee area, to refresh us all on obedience–though, as you can see, she already sits pretty on command.

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