Solar Powered

It hasn’t been a great month for writing. It’s not that I don’t want to write. I do want to, but to write, it helps if one can think. The trouble seems to be that I’m solar powered. When the sun is up, so am I. Going to bed isn’t so much of a problem. I’ve always been an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ kind of girl. The problem is, this time of year, dawn breaks about 5:00. Sometimes I can push wake-up to 6:00 if I have the black-out curtain and the window closed. One ray of sunlight, one chirping bird, and that’s it, buddy. It takes a little getting used to after the dark silence of winter. I’m trying out some herbs, and they seem to help somewhat. At this point, melatonin is my BFF.

The other day it occurred to me that maybe May isn’t a great writing month in general. This isn’t the first year May has done this to me. Add in the start of gardening season (or, in the case of this year, weeding season) and the start of summer activities, and I’m not as bright eyed and bushy tailed as usual. Seven years of record keeping have proven me wrong, based solely on word count. It’s not May. It’s me.

My plan is to start using the piazza for work. The furniture is out, I just have to schlep out the umbrella and figure out how best to place stuff. I’m sure that will be an on-going thing this year. It takes me a while to figure out the feng shui of a new space. I’ve lived here 2 1/2 years and still haven’t figured out the living room. That’s a whole different story.

As far as writing, I’m polishing up a new short story about a writer who chases his muse around Europe, and I’m making slow progress on the next draft of Dawn Before The Dark. The plan is to pitch it at the final conference (for me) for the year. There’s also the new anthology release I teased you about last week. More about that soon.

 

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May The Fourth Be With You

Welcome back!

I’ve been getting emails about new followers, so if this is your first Coffee With Dragons post, welcome and I hope you visit often.

While I haven’t been posting, I have been writing and doing writing-related things. I’m still wrestling with the dragon rider stories, but I think I might actually have a handle on what I need to do with them. I’m in the process of working on book one, which I’m calling Dawn Before the Dark. That may or may not be the official title. It depends on whether I get it in with a publisher or go indy. In case you’re curious, book two is currently called Awakening, and book three will be Red Sky In Mourning. That’s if everything goes the way I think it will, for which there is no guarantee.

I have written a few short stories this year also, and I’ll have big news soon about an anthology my writing group is releasing. I can’t say much about it right now, but if you’ve read any of the Blackbirds Flights books, this isn’t the same. Blackbirds encouraged dark entertainment. We tried to keep the new one light, and there are some features not included in previous books. There are also a couple authors who are not in the Blackbirds books. That’s all you get until the official launch!

It was a cold, gloomy winter here, and we are just now getting into spring. Usually I can tell when we turn the corner between seasons. This year, I thought that three times. The snow shovel and ice are officially in the garage, though, and the piazza is starting to come back to life. The weeds are for sure. I’ve weeded twice this week, and I didn’t get them all.

That’s more or less what’s been happening here. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but between the day job and the house, I’ve stayed out of trouble. When trouble pokes its head around the corner, I grab it and shove it into a story. I should have new things for you to read soon.

Happy New Year, y’all!

Wow, it’s been so long my browser history didn’t have a record of my log-in page, and I had a panicked moment when I had to remember the link. That might also have something to do with a potential virus I may have picked up a couple days ago. It’s never a good sign when someone hugs you and says they’re not contagious. Mmmmhhhmmmm. Gotta get some work done while I can, just in case the next few days are devoted to Netflix and tissues.

So it turns out fall is not a great season for writing. Or maybe it’s that we were so diligent about not over-scheduling summer this year that we sort of forgot to protect September. Once you break the cycle it’s hard to get back to it. Creativity, for me, isn’t something I can easily turn back on once it’s shelved for a while.

On the other hand, it has been a good year for the day job. We launched our new baby church the last weekend in September. It took a little doing to switch the mindset from monthly worship to weekly, but I’ve mostly got a rhythm now. Of course, advent made life interesting, and now I’m divvying up my duties for when we go to Florida next month. There is a lot I can do ahead of time, and even more I can do remotely, but someone has to buy communion bread and take it to church.

Not doing resolutions last NYE seemed to work pretty well for me, so I’m not doing them again this year. I have found myself increasingly impatient with people who make changes on January 1. The whole “new year, new you” seems silly to me. If you want to make a change, you can do it on any date, so why attach so much baggage to a single day? Lately, though, I’ve felt the turning of the year in my bones. Maybe it’s been gloomier than usual, or it’s that I’m getting older, or more in touch with my celtic side, but the anticipation has been palpable for me in the last couple of weeks. 2017 was a pretty good year for me, the best one since the floor fell out from under us in 2013. I credit my co-workers and co-worshippers with a big chunk of that. I feel like we’re finally settling into the cozy wee bungalow and our community in general. We have a beautiful new back yard and have started digging into making good memories here.

I hope all of you are well. Regardless of what kind of year 2017 was for you, I hope 2018 is your best year so far, that you’ll treasure every experience and every learning opportunity, and that you’ll share the year with me.

Happy New Year!

After pictures

The Piazza is finally (mostly) finished. We have some clean-up to do and a couple more plants on their way, but the worst is done. I won’t say it was a painless process, but it could have been worse. The schedule was delayed almost a week when the guys found the reason we lost power to our garage a few months ago. Turns out, the wire was buried in the yard, and the stump grinder cut it when they took out the spruce tree. Now the hard part is keeping everything watered. We’re still trying to find a sprinkler configuration that gets all of it so when we leave town for the weekend we can set a timer and not come home to dead plants. The proper set-up has eluded me so far. Hopefully Eric and I can figure it out tonight. Here’s what it looks like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabble Rousing

For those of you under the age of 50, or who don’t read Historical fiction, rabble rousing is defined as “an instance or the practice of stirring up the passions or prejudices of the public.” Back in the olden days, before the internet, rabble rousers worked crowds while standing on a crate on a street corner. Often they could be found at political rallies. Now we have online access and the 24-hour news cycle, and they’re everywhere.

Let me tell you let me tell you a little something about rabble rousers. They want you scared. They want you to react without thinking. They want you to join Chicken Little in running aimlessly and screaming out, “The sky is falling!” They feed on your tears, your hand-wringing, your mindless terror.

Friends, the sky isn’t falling. The circumstances have varied, but if you stop and do five minutes of research, you’ll find that things really aren’t that different than they were in decades past. Despite the best efforts of civil rights leaders in the last 60 years, we still have racism. (This, IMHO, is due to rabble rousers in civil rights leader clothing.) It’s the same hatred, fear, and bigotry in an updated wardrobe.

The events in the news are heart-breaking. Is anger over Charlottesville justified? You bet. If you’re not angry, you might be part of the problem. This is a time to join together in lament. If you wail, it should be for the lives lost, for the hard hearts that caused this, and the pain that will be endured in the community for months and years to come.

You can’t change anyone’s actions through sheer force of will. You can’t stop evil single-handedly. The problem is beyond all of us, it’s bigger than we can manage. That doesn’t mean wailing and hand-wringing is the only answer. Facebook memes aren’t going to fix it. In fact, Facebook memes are often rabble rousers.

You can only do one thing: Examine your life, and change the things that need to be changed. Really look at your attitudes and weed out any hint of fear, hate, bigotry. Do something nice for a person who doesn’t look like you. It doesn’t have to be big. You can turn someone’s day around by complimenting a piece of their clothing. If you try to do something nice and the other person reacts with fear or distrust, that’s on them. It’s not your problem. The only way to change society is to change ourselves, and to teach our children to be better people than we are. That’s how we fix it, a generation at a time.

 

Record Keeping

Ever have one of those days? You’re especially tired, or a deadline creeps up on you? Maybe you have another in what seems like a long line of headaches? Or your pants won’t stay up, and you realize you’ve dropped five pounds? (Me neither, but I hear it happens to some lucky people.)

I’m not naturally gifted when it comes to record keeping. I tend to overthink things and gravitate toward the complicated systems that will be a pain to keep up. And really, what’s the point?

Easy. Accumulation of empirical data.

Case in point: My family jokes that I’m solar powered. When it gets dark early in the winter, I’m ready to go to bed shortly after dinner and sometimes fall asleep on the couch. In the summer, when it’s light 16 hours a day, I can’t sleep unless I go to great lengths to darken my bedroom. Until recently it was a theory. Last February, I got a new Fitbit and it tracks my sleep. The amount of sleep I get has dropped steadily since May, so now I have definitive proof. To say I’m looking forward to the shorter days of fall is an understatement.

I’ve amped up my writing records, too. I used to track just word count. That’s the important number, really, but not the only number. I think it was Tim Grahl who gave me the idea to track word count and time as well as the location, project, and applicable notes. Since then I’ve discovered I do my best writing in my office, but sometimes I need a change of scenery. I plot better in coffee shops. Hotels are also productive as long as I’m not in a place where I want to go forth and see things. That’s why Vegas works for me. I’m looking forward to finding out how the new back yard affects productivity. (More on that next week, I hope. For now, I’ll just say I’ve renamed it The Piazza.)

The real beauty is when you take empirical data from multiple sources to reach a conclusion. If you look at my word counts over the last few summers, they’re lower than the rest of the year on average. I thought it was because summers are full of distractions, and they can be, but now I realize a lot of it has to do with the lack of sleep. If I can’t sleep, I can’t think, and therefore can’t write. Now that I have a concrete reason and I know it’s not just me being crazy or lazy, I can take steps to fix it. Or try to, anyway.

Like maybe by buying a hammock for The Piazza.

Record keeping. It’s your friend.

Run-by posting

It’s been a busy week. Since getting back from Vegas, I’ve done some writing. It’s been more about laundry and cleaning, though. I have family in again this weekend, and we’re going back to the Bristol Ren Faire. It will be the first time all of us have gone together, and we hope to run into friends from St Louis.

I may have mentioned we are having our back yard turned into a patio oasis. If I haven’t, we are. It hasn’t been without drama. Last spring, around the time we had our spruce tree taken out, one of the utility companies was doing work in our alley. During that time, we lost power to our garage. We didn’t know where to start to get it fixed, so between one thing and another, we put it off. Turns out the tree guys were the culprits. Unbeknownst to any of us, the power line ran underground next to the tree, and they cut it when they ground the stump out. The landscaping crew found it, and thankfully were able to fix it. It’s done right now, running through conduit like it should have been in the first place.

That set the project back a couple of days, so it’s not close to done. I had hoped it would be, what with family being here and all, but it’s fine. We have too much to do to lollygag in the back yard. We’re doing Official Author Photos tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll have some to post soon!