The next chapter: March 2015 update

Last month, I wrote about how I was reprioritizing my life because I’d made the realization that pouring all my creative energy into the day-job was not making me happy. It wasn’t getting me any closer to my goals as a writer, either.

I started March out, work-wise, by applying for my self-funded leave and putting in my vacation requests for the first two quarters of the 2015-16 fiscal (to the end of September). I started expressing my opinion (which, of course, did me no favours, professionally) and reframing my experience with the perspective my wee revelation had provided me.

A series of serendipitous learning opportunities came my way, many of them concerned with following one’s dreams, or finding one’s calling. Funny how these things happen when we really need them to.

As I write this post, I’m listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast on the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This month’s newsletter from Katie Weiland included a piece on her “spring cleaning” of her subscriptions and social media. She was doing this to reclaim writing time from potentially wasteful or distracting electronic practices.

Having said all that, I was burned out by the time March rolled around. Last fall, when I had originally intended to take my self-funded leave but decided to defer it, I said that I was a little toasty around the edges, but that I’d probably be able to hold out until the spring.

That was before this acting consultancy.

Truthfully, I was burnt before the end of January. Part-way through February, I stopped revising Initiate of Stone and then I stopped drafting Marushka.

With IoS, I had to shift back into drafting mode to rewrite a chapter that was completely altered by my decision to remove a character from the novel. I was blocked, essentially, as I tried to write around the hole I’d decided to make in my plot. I didn’t stop writing per se, but I was having trouble finding my way out of the maze.

I made several abortive attempts to redraft the chapter in Word (which I didn’t count), but ultimately found that drafting by hand (which I also do not count) was much more effective. Once I had the chapter mapped and pieces of it written out, I was able to regain my momentum and complete the new chapter in Word.

Shifting gears with IoS meant that I didn’t have the drafting mojo going for Marushka. By looking at my spreadsheets, I can see clearly that when I stopped revising IoS, about a week later, I stopped drafting Marushka. Once I got back on track with IoS (the word counts recorded in red), again, about a week later, I was able to pick up with the drafting of Marushka again.

So, clearly, while it is possible for me to work on multiple projects at once, I definitely have to be working on them in different phases (drafting vs. revising). I’ve also realized that with the exception of the blog and some short stories, that the limit of my focus with regard to multiple novel-length projects is two.

Interestingly enough, I’m getting close to the end of drafting Marushka. I’ll be short of my 75k goal for the draft, but I’m okay with that. So far what seems to be my evolving pattern is to draft short, rewrite long, and revise/edit to goal length. Will let you know if this new piece of my process puzzle proves to be effective in the long run.

After my staggered, two-week disruptions in IoS and Marushka respectively, I got back on track for the rest of the month.

Judging for the Friends of the Merril contest continues. Originally, when I was notified that my story made the long-list, I was also advised that judging would be complete by March 31st. On March 31st, a post was released on the site indicating that deliberations continued.

I have a 25% chance of placing. The delay is a little nerve-wracking, but I’m trying to remain positive. It means I have some tough competition, but that we’re all in the same quality boat.

I also spiffed up three short stories, including the one I submitted to the FotM contest, and sent them off for consideration in the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology.

I’d wanted to revise my longer short story for submission to a magazine, but didn’t have the energy or focus to spare.

I did, however, submit my short story “The Broken Places,” which was published in Bastion last year, for consideration in the Imaginarium anthology. It’s a year’s best anthology put out by ChiZine Publications. It’s a long shot, but I can’t win if I don’t play 😉 So sayeth the lottery gods.

Now, at the beginning of April, and with a long weekend to enjoy, I’ve decided that I’m taking a breather. I’m still burnt, and trying to work all day and then come home and write all night is making things worse.

I have a writing sample to prepare for my workshop with Julie Czerneda and Ad Astra next weekend. So . . . I’m being evil and burning through Avatar on Netflix 🙂

This past week, I walked home from work. Once. I’m still sore. Mellie is out of shape. So I’m going to get back on track with regard to that. My goal is to walk home from work three evenings a week. It’s about five kilometres and takes about an hour. I have a number of books on Audible ready for the purpose.

There are a couple of anthologies that I’d like to write stories for in April, but I’m not sure if I’m going to manage them. My main goal is to complete this round of revision on IoS and my draft of Marushka. Anything else is gravy. Not saying that I’m purposefully disregarding these anthologies; I like gravy, but I’m also aware of my limitations, now more than ever.

Once that’s done, I’m going to shift gears again with IoS and get into query mode and I’ll then be completing my draft of Gerod and the Lions.

Those are my goals for the intermediate future.

Now to take a look at my progress for the month:

March Writing Progress

IoS Revisions (remember these are half counts, except for the new chapter in red, which were all new words): 11,901 words. Compare this with 11,851 in February, and 7,789 in January. I’m at the 50% mark of the novel.

Bloggage: 7,200 words. This has held more or less steady with 6,676 words in February and 8,432 words in January. I’m at 23% of my annual goal, which is more or less where I expected to be for March (one quarter through the year).

Drafting Marushka: 4,520 words in March; 3,859 in February; and my blow-me-away 9,462 in January. I’m at 44% of my drafting goal. I might make 60% by the time the story is finished.

Short stories: 90 words in March; 1,206 in February; and 34 in January. I’m at 27% of my goal for the year which is good.

Totals: 23,711 for March; 23,592 for February; 25,717 for January.

March Summary

So there we are.

Progress is, as ever, being made.

Now, season 3 of Avatar is calling, and Bitten this evening.

Have a lovely Easter, everyone.

See you on Tipdsay!

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter: December 2014 update and a year in the writerly life

Janus has two heads so he can look back and ahead. Plus, you really can’t make meaningful progress unless you take some time to reflect on your accomplishments and understand where your journey has brought you to this point.

Let’s start with December, shall we?

In the wake of NaNoWriMo, I needed a wee respite from the purely creative writing. I kept up with my regular blog posts and caught up on a few things that happened in November that I had set aside posting about because of the aforementioned NaNo.

I returned to Marushka after a few days, though, because the force is strong in this one 😉 Also, I have to finish my shit (Wendigism).

Toward the end of the month, though, I wanted to get another short fiction submission revised and sent.

December 2014 writing progress

So at the end of the month, I’d written a total of 15,167 words, 8,812 of them on the blog, 6,234 on Marushka, and 121 on the short story.

What about 2014?

It was a good year, I think.

Since it was the first year I tracked my writerly output, I really have nothing to compare it to, but I know I’ve written more words in this year than I did in 2013 or any year before that.

The highlights:

“The Broken Places” was published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine in its June issue.

“On the Ferry” won second place in the In Places Between contest.

“Downtime” will be in the fall 2014 issue of On Spec Magazine. The issue hasn’t come out yet (long story short—please subscribe or support them on their Patreon page), but I’m still pleased as punch.

I have writerly income to report on my tax return for the second year in a row!

I’ve put “The Broken Places” and “Downtime” in the short story category in the Auroras. It’s my first year doing this kind of thing, so we’ll see how it goes.

Overall, I submitted six short stories for publication. This is fewer than in past years, but given my greater focus on my larger projects, I’m happy with this.

I attended Ad Astra, CanWrite!, and When Words Collide conferences, and workshops by Brian Henry and The Humber School for Writers.

In 2014, I have written:

  • 110,361 words on this blog
  • 34,589 words on Marushka
  • 21,464 words on Gerod and the Lions
  • 3,521 words of short fiction
  • 3,161 words on Apprentice of Wind
  • 2,384 words on Figments
  • Total: 175,480

2014 Summary

That’s a fuckload of words. Sorry. I felt the profanity appropriate.

Plus, I mapped out and reverse engineered both IoS and Figments, and revised some of IoS.

I am still eternally grateful to Jamie Raintree for her wonderful Excel spreadsheet. This year’s has enough project slots that I don’t have to modify it 🙂 Also, it appears to have a way to track drafting and revisions. I’m excited to see how it works out.

For the second year in a row, the most popular posts on my blog have been those I wrote back in 2012. Dress for Success has been consistently popular. I didn’t think a post about writing in my pyjamas would have been so compelling. Go figure.

Eight Metaphors for Persistence . . . is also a heavily viewed post. I appreciate that a bit more because it was the first post on this iteration of the blog and spoke to how I picked up the pieces after being hacked.

Still, I would like to see some of my book reviews, or conference reportage posts, rank higher.

My overall views on the blog went down from last year. In 2013 I filled the Sydney Opera House five times. In 2014 I only filled it four times.

I take all this with a grain of salt, however, as the number of my followers through WordPress has only grown and at 373, I’m closing in on 400 followers. That’s not bad for three years of blogging when I don’t have a book to sell.

Those who receive my posts via email, or who can read them through WordPress may not be counted because they haven’t actually visited the site.

Personally, as long as you’re enjoying what you read, I’m good. I’m a fan of the slow build.

What’s ahead for 2015?

I’ve you’ve read me for any length of time, you’ll know I don’t go in for resolutions. I set goals and manage my projects on an ongoing basis, sometimes re-evaluating and adjusting my goals to account for the dreaded scope creep 🙂

That’s all stuff I learned from the project management I have to do for work. It’s also similar to the dreaded underwear creep (damnit, not another wedgie).

In all seriousness, I intend to revise and submit several more short stories throughout the year. I also intend to write a few new ones.

I intend to finish my first drafts of Marushka (goal length approximately 76,000 words) and GatL (goal length approximately 50,000 words). I can manage this at a pace of about 5,000 words a month. I’ll finish Marushka first, because it’s where my head is at the moment, and then return to work on GatL afterward.

I will revise IoS and finally (FINALLY) start querying. This is so long overdue, I can’t even. Can’t. Even.

I will move onto revisions of Figments once I start querying IoS.

I will map and reverse engineer AoW and probably Marushka.

I don’t think I’ll be able to manage much more than that for the bulk of the year.

I will again engage in the NaNoWriMo Challenge, even though I will be working through the month of November. I was very pleased with the 2014 results, even though it wasn’t a “win,” per se.

For financial reasons, I’m going to stay close to home this year with conferences and conventions. Most likely Ad Astra and Can-Con.

My big expense, professional development-wise, will be a writing retreat in the summer (if I can swing the leave from work—summer’s a peak time and it’s always a big deal), also local.

I’m facilitating my first writing workshop in years in February. You know I’ll be blogging that one 🙂

And the rest will be based on opportunities as they come my way.

I like preparing my Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curation posts on the weekend for easier distribution (and more writing time) through the week.

Aside from that, the bloggage will come out of my writerly life, as it usually does.

I have one more post to go before the night is over.

See you shortly 🙂

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter: September 2014 update

So here we are at the beginning of October, my favourite month, not in least because Samhain (Hallowe’en) was my hatch-day (and yes, I’ve heard them all and would proudly claim to be witch, werewolf, vampire, or anything else you’d care to call me).

September was an interesting month.

I made further progress on Gerod and the Lions. Total word count on the project is 21,423 words, just over half-way for an MG novel, which this is supposed to be. I’m no longer on track to finish by the end of the year for reasons I’ll tell you about shortly, but I figure I’ll be done the first draft in January or February of 2015. Not bad.

I finished mapping and reverse engineering Figments (finally!). One thing I’ve learned from this project is that reverse engineering is tough.

When I worked backward through my plot for Initiate of Stone earlier this year, I was working with a seventh draft. I’d already completed a lot of the structural reorganization that reverse engineering might have indicated was necessary. Though I fine tuned a lot of foreshadowing and really tightened things up, there wasn’t a lot of tearing apart and putting back together.

With Figments, there was. Figments is a first draft, a NaNoWriMo first draft, at that. I’m not ashamed to admit that I lost my way a few times. I ended up listing events in reverse chronological order and then reorganizing them into Victoria Mixon’s holographic structure. In made my head spin.

Another thing I’ve decided is that I’ll head back to the computer for my mapping. It’s just a lot easier than rewriting everything out by hand. The reverse engineering, though, has to be done by hand. It really puts you in a different headspace.

Having accomplished the Figments mapping and reverse engineering, I’ve moved onto Apprentice of Wind. That will take me a while to get a handle on as well. It might as well be a first draft, though I went as far as draft four with IoS and AoW as one honkin’ monster of a novel 😛 I have subsequently changed enough in IoS and cut up parts of AoW that it really is like starting from scratch.

The other thing I started on this month is reworking IoS. I still have betas outstanding, but my writer’s head had to go there. I haven’t gotten very far, just a few chapters, but I think it’s going well. I have enough distance from the novel that I’m seeing a lot of things more clearly than I had before.

This isn’t to say that the outstanding betas work over the last year and a bit has been for nought. I still want to see what you recommend. I’m not above going back and changing even more. I just had to get at it.

I can finally tell you about my mysterious short(-ish) story tale. I had submitted it to Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine in response to a special call out by C.C. Finlay in the first part of August.

I received word on September 21st that he wasn’t taken with the story (though it was a very nice rejection—thank you!). So, I promptly revised to try and fix what may have been the dear thing’s flaws and sent it off to Writers of the Future.

In reviewing my previous submissions to that contest, I realized that my honourable mention from 2011 was for the same story that I eventually revised and submitted to On Spec: “Downtime,” which should be out in the fall 2014 issue (I’m still so excited about that).

Can’t wait to get my paws on my contributor’s issue. Sorry, drooling there a bit.

Other On Spec news: they won an Aurora Award! W00t! Congratz! So pleased for them. Chuffed even.

Also, Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, the online publication that accepted “The Broken Places” back in June, has become an Amazon bestseller. More W00t! and Gratz! to the good people at Bastion.

Though I decided not to move forward with my self-funded leave this fall, I’ve decided that I still want to attempt to do NaNoWriMo again this year. Yes. That’s while working the day job. Yup. I’m certifiable.

I had considered taking a blogging holiday for a month, and it may come to that if I can’t manage my time and get the words down, but I’d prefer to keep to three posts a week: Tipsday, Thoughty Thursday, and my WWC2014 reportage.

In the last month, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted a lot on Sundays. I’ve found that to be a wonderful gift for the writing side of things. This weekend is an exception. You’ll find out later in my second post of this particular Sunday.

The other thing I’ve tried in the last couple of weeks is to prepare my Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday posts on Sunday and just post them on the appropriate weekday. I think between giving myself Sundays, prepping the weekday posts, and then focusing on my NaNo project to the exclusion of most other creative endeavours for the month, I’ll be able to hack it.

Of course, November will be the acid test. I’m also heading down to Toronto for a couple of days for a Humber School for Writers workshop on November 6 and 7. I just can’t help myself. I have to try.

I’ve already been doing some research on my idea and I’ll be working on a rough outline and further research this month. It’s the strength of this idea that has convinced me to make this crazy NaNoWriMo commitment.

I’ve also joined Jane Ann McLachlan’s street team I’ll talk a bit more about street teams in a future post. Her next novel, a YA science fiction, will be coming out soon. Much excitement there!

So, here’s how September’s numbers worked out:

September's writing progress

A total of 13, 218 words. Modest, but reasonable.

7,921 on the blog, 5203 on GatL, and a scant 94 on my longish short story (that was after removing and rearranging several hundred, but I never count negative words).

So that was my month in writing.

How have your projects been shaping up? Please share in the comments. I love hearing about your yummy, yummy words.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: June 2014 update

Hey all!

I must say that June was a blockbuster month for me.

It started with the publication of my science fiction short story “The Broken Places” being published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine. Still so excited about that.

I attended June’s @M2the5th Twitter chat with Roz Morris, focusing on her Nail Your Novel series. I’m learning quite a bit from these, and though we cancelled July’s because, Independence Day, we’ll be getting back to our monthly schedule in August.

A comment on last month’s update had me a little concerned about what my readers might be taking away from these posts. It seems May’s update was taken as a warning about social media. If the warning was timely and helpful, great, but it’s not the message I hoped to convey.

I have now finished reading my ARC of K.M. Weiland’s forthcoming Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics. I’ll be posting a review later in the month, so stay tuned for that.

The adjustable desk is working out very well, and I’m now standing for longer between rests. At work, I read a post from a learning and development blogger in which he discussed his experience with his standing desk, which he described as continual fidgeting.

He uses a kitchen stool to take a periodic break from standing and has discovered that he can’t write while standing (!) Thankfully, that hasn’t been my experience.

CanWrite! 2014 was a great time, as usual. I’ve been blogging the panels, sessions, and workshops I’ve attended on a weekly basis.

Another piece of exciting writerly news arrived when I returned home from the conference: another speculative short story, “On the Ferry,” made it into the top ten in the When Words Collide writing contest.

This means I’ll appear in their chapbook anthology, In Places Between, though I’ll have to wait until the conference to find out if I’ve placed. Still. Squee-worthy.

Last month, I had a blogging disruption around the arrival of my desk and spent most of my non-blogging writing time working through Initiate of Stone, all of that work in long hand. Though I completed a lot of work on IoS, I wasn’t able to capture a word count from it.

In last month’s update, I mentioned I would be getting back to countable writing.

June's writing progress

June’s total word count: 18,471!!!!!

13,425 of those words were on my blog, but 5,046 were written in Gerod and the Lions. I set myself a goal of 5k for the month on that project, and I made it. The draft is now just over 10k words and I’ll have a workable draft by the end of the year 😀

I only just started working on Figments (my NaNo project from last year) as I had worked on IoS last month. In all fairness, I have a little more to do with Figments than I had to do on IoS.

First, I’m mapping it. This is something I picked up from reading Donald Maass’s The Breakout Novelist. For each chapter, I list the title, page count, word count, the first and last lines (both hooks, one to draw the reader into the chapter and the other to propel the reader onward), the purpose of the chapter, in story terms, the internal and external conflicts, and finally, what changes for the story, and for the POV character as a result of the chapter.

These are actually from several separate exercises in Maass’s workbook, but I’ve cobbled them together to create my map. These are like index cards and I can rearrange them as needed when I work on the structure of the story. I can see where I might have to divide longer chapters, and fairly easily pick out plot points, pinch points, reversals, etc.

Once I get the mapping done, I’ll fiddle with Figments’s structure and tighten things up, work through a beat sheet ala Roz Morris, and finally reverse engineer the plot with Victoria Mixon’s holographic structure.

June has taught me that I can’t draft one project and then work by hand on another project simultaneously. I’m going to try alternating and see how that goes.

And that is all the Writerly Goodness I have for you tonight.

How are your works-in-progress coming, my friends?

Coming up this month: An interview with author and editor Mat Del Papa on his new anthology Creepy Capreol, I take another shot at the writing process blog hop, the review of Katie’s book, more CanWrite! reportage, and a couple of poems with creation stories.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: May 2014 update

This is going to be a short update.

May's Word Count

All of the new words I produced this month were from blogging (7503), even though I didn’t blog for a whole week because of chaos. It was good chaos, but nonetheless.

I worked on revisions for the short story I submitted to Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, “The Broken Places,” at the beginning of the month, but that was actually trimming and, just for sanity’s sake, I’m not counting negative words.

By the way, the story is now in the June issue, available online here: Bastion Science Fiction Magazine. You can also get a single issue through Amazon, a subscription through Weightless Books, or just donate to a cool publication.

*Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.* Bastion is also a great place to submit if you’re into that speculative fiction stuff 🙂

Needless to say, there is much happy dancing on Marttila Drive.

The biggest part of the non-blogging writing work I did was on Initiate of Stone. I executed my plan of going through and eliminating the one character, giving all her important bits and pieces to other characters, and making notes for the revisions. I also went through my novel in reverse order, using Victoria Mixon’s holographic structure.

This is a technique she recommends in her Art and Craft of Story, and after Roz Morris posted that she’s had to draft her scenes out of order for her latest WIP, Ever Rest, even working backwards, I had to give it a try.

It’s a very interesting technique, and allows you to make sure that plot events and foreshadowing are in their proper places. It’s great for consistency too. I caught a few things that I hadn’t taken into account writing forward.

In other news, my adjustable desk is working out great. If you haven’t been following, the arrival of the desk and the necessity of reorganizing my office to suit it was one of the reasons for my blogging vacation. I can stand for an hour and a bit before I have to sit down for a rest. I’m training myself up.

I’ve also purchase a summer membership for the yoga studio I’ve joined, and I’m hoping that the desk and the yoga will help me stave off future back issues.

Totally unrelated to writing, Phil and I had to purchase a new clothes washer this past week. Our’s was pooched. While at the store, Phil decided he also wanted an upright freezer. He was getting tired of losing stuff at the bottom of the chest freezer we had.

So that’s a chunk of change down the drain.

I tried to write a couple of non-speculative pieces this month, and my interest just wasn’t there. I had ideas, certainly, but the one contest required me to write from a prompt, which I’m not overly keen on. I couldn’t find one that really helped me get anywhere. The other would have been a non-fiction piece, or perhaps creative non-fiction, but again, the idea just couldn’t sustain me.

Sad but true. I guess I’m way beyond the SF/F pale. There are worse places to be. Trust me 🙂

Two opportunities came my way this month that I have to share.

The first kind of blew me away. K.M. Weiland emailed me and asked me to read and review her new book, The Writers Digest Annotated Jane Eyre. Of course I said yes! I love Jane Eyre and have read the book a couple of times. Plus, I’m really attracted to the way Katie analyzes a piece of fiction. It didn’t hurt that she said she respected my opinion (head inflating, unattractively).

So far, it’s great, and I’m learning a lot about how to read as a writer.

It’ll be out July 19th. Watch for it.

The second opportunity came in another email, this one from someone I’d recently started following on Twitter. A Rewording Life, is Sheryl Gordon’s project in honour of her mother, and all those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

She’s recruiting logophiles and creative, wordy people of all stripes to contribute a sentence to her book. I did, and my word was psychopomp 🙂 A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer’s research. Check out her site. Follow her on Twitter @ARewordingLife.

And here I thought this was going to be a short post 😛 I am a wordy girl!

This month, I’m moving on to work on my other two completed (more or less) drafts as I did with IoS this month. The Canadian Authors Association’s CanWrite! Conference will be June 18-22, 2014. I hope to bring back lots of Writerly Goodness from that event.

I’m going to try to get back into the fiction writing swing of things. Most of my ideas these days are trending novel length, though. Maybe I’ll just finish the draft of Gerod and the Lions before starting another new project. That sounds like a plan.

How are your projects going, my writerly friends?

The Next Chapter

Hell month, meet the week of epic . . . stuff

A.K.A. Where the hell has Mel been?

To preface this, admittedly lengthy, post, I have to admit that my “problems” are all of the first world variety. Also, as with all problems, I’m generally the author of my own misery. Even with events over which I have no control, I can still control my reaction to them. While I’m usually good at this, occasionally things stack up in such a way that I end up overwhelmed and unable to function. Then, I simply have to reposition, admit that the universe is trying to tell me something, and adjust my attitude appropriately.

Sometimes that means letting a few things go for a bit.

That’s the short version.

The long version follows.

What I thought I Mothers’ Day weekend would look like

At the beginning of this month, all I knew about Mothers’ Day weekend was that a friend was doing a Twitterview on Saturday at noon, and that I would be heading out to my sister-in-law’s for Mothers’ Day supper Sunday afternoon.

Outside my house

Outside my house

The city has started to work on Regent Street, the main traffic artery that borders the west side of my property. This has been a minor inconvenience, but since they’ve been tearing up a different part of the street every day, it’s been difficult to know which detour will actually get me and Phil home after work.

This municipal project will be ongoing until the snow flies and the ground frost shuts things down. I’d accepted the inconvenience. This work has to be done. All the catch basins, storm drains, and water supply lines will be replaced. The traffic and street lights will be replaced. It’s just going to be very dusty and noisy in the interim.

Construction panoramic

Google’s auto-awesome is so cool. It made a panoramic shot out of my pictures!

My mother is getting some work done at her house. The roof of the carport, upon which a deck had been built years ago, was leaking, and in a driving rain, water would run down the wall in her entry and on two occasions, it has trickled through to the light fixture in the hall and burst the bulb.

Construction at Mom's

Construction at Mom’s

She got several quotes and settled on a solution which involved removing the wooden deck and the gravel and tar beneath, sloping the surface for drainage purposes, installing cement backer board, new membrane, a thin layer of concrete, a non-slip surface, and new, aluminium railings. All of the new materials will be water-tight, up-to-code, and weigh much less than the layers of tar, gravel, and the substantial wooden deck that was there.

On May first, I signed up for an introductory month with myoga.ca. Having thrown my back out last month, it was important that I start doing something to get back into shape. Though I haven’t attended a tonne of classes and have had to rearrange my schedule a few times, I’ve already seen the benefits with regard to the way I feel. I’m strengthening my core and stretching my joints. It’s a good thing.

Early in the month, I had also looked into changing insurance providers (house and automobile). I found a quote that Phil and I were happy with, and had planned to call on May 10 to finalize things.

So I expected a busy weekend. I just wasn’t prepared for a confluence of events to derail my plans.

Complications arise

At the end of last month, I applied for membership in, and was accepted into, SF Canada. I soon learned through the listserv that the online annual general meeting (AGM) would be held on the afternoon of May 10, starting at 2 pm. No problem, I thought, there will be ample time for me to attend both the Twitterview and the AGM and still get the insurance finalized.

Then a friend’s spouse died and the viewing/funeral was also scheduled for Saturday, at 1 pm. At that point, I knew I’d have to miss the Twitterview, but I had to go support my friend. I also set aside the insurance. Though there might have been time, I didn’t want to cram too many things into one day.

The final straw was good thing. The weekend previous, I finally ordered the adjustable desk I’ve been thinking about for a long time. The company, Candesk, is Canadian and offered the best value for the quality and price. I had only paid for standard ground shipping, but shortly received a notification from FedEx indicating that they were handling the shipping.

I can only think that the Guy Viner, the man behind Candesk, upgraded my shipping. Many thanks for that grace.

I got the call on Friday from my mom. The desk had arrived. I emailed Phil and suggested that we not spend all of what was already promising to be a busy weekend dealing with the deskage, but Phil wanted to get to it, he said, so we wouldn’t be tied up beyond the weekend.

Plans change

Upon arriving home, I promptly cancelled my yoga class, and got to work emptying out my existing desk. The plan was for Phil to set it up in his office space downstairs. He needed the real estate, he said. Phil also got to work emptying out his old desk, dismantling it, and taking the bits out to the pick up for a future trip to the dump.

Then, he took a nap.

After a brief break, I continued the emptiage, storing the contents of my desk in tubs and boxes and in stacks on the dining room table and coffee table.

I decided that I wouldn’t go online that night.

Out of the box

Out of the box

Mom was going out for brunch with friends and cancelled our Saturday morning breakfast date. So that morning, after a breakfast of bacon and eggs (there have to be some compensations), Phil and I got to work dismantling my big desk and moving its parts into the basement. We started to put my new desk together, but I then had to get ready to go to the viewing.

Upon my return, I promptly fired up my computer, temporarily relocated to the dining room table, and joined the SF Canada AGM. It was three hours. It was also very interesting, and I may have gotten myself noted for a committee or two. No word yet on when said committees will be struck, who will be on them, or what work will be required.

The desk assembled

The desk assembled

Phil had, in the meantime, finished assembling the desk, and after the AGM, we relocated it in its destined position.

I then started working on rearranging the remainder of the office, moving book shelves, dusting, and emptying out the wooden filing cabinet I got from Kim last year.

That jewel has been sitting in the living room, serving as storage for CDs, DVDs, and board games. Now it would be moving into its proper place, in my office.

I determined that blogging was probably not going to happen that weekend.

Checking email, I noticed that I’d received a request from the editor of Bastion Magazine for further revisions to my short story. I made a note and hoped not to forget.

On Sunday, after French toast with Mom, I resumed the work. I attached the computer cradle and cable minder to the desk and set up my computer. Phil had to help me move the filing cabinet into the office. Then came the work of trying to get all the stuff I’d unpacked from the old desk into the filing cabinet.

The desk at sitting height

The desk at sitting height

The desk at standing height

The desk at standing height

My old/Phil's new desk

My old/Phil’s new desk

I didn’t get it all done before leaving for my sister-in-law’s.

Mothers’ Day dinner was lovely and the day was so pleasant that we ended up sitting outside until the sun had almost set. We also got a bucket of potatoes and some eggs. My sister-in-law’s partner is a farmer 🙂

We got home in time to watch Game of Thrones, and then I set to on the revisions to my story.

Off to the races

The week at worked promised to be a hectic one: meetings, overviews of the new performance management process and program, training, the onset of monitoring, and working group meetings.

Hectic might be an understatement.

It was also raining. All week long.

When we got home from work, I went into the basement to put a couple of winter coats in storage and find Phil’s spring jacket. I also found an inch of water on the floor.

I later confirmed with my mother, who had lived in the house since she and my father bought it from my grandparents when I was two years old, that it was the first flood she’d ever known about. The first flood in 42 years.

I grabbed a mop and bucket while Phil got the sump pump in order. Though we’d had it for 15 or 16 years (since a basement repair required its installation), we’d never had to use it. The pipe expelled into the garden, and Phil had to dig it up and extend it to the driveway.

He temporarily rigged up an old vacuum cleaner hose, ran across to the hardware store, and got the tubing and clamps he required.

Phil later explained that with our unusually long, cold, and snowy winter, the ground frost was high enough to prevent the water from running through as it normally would.

Monday night, work on my office resumed at a much slower pace, I went to yoga, and then revised my story one last time for Bastion.

On Tuesday, we had a vet appointment for Nuala. Good news there. Nu is on a reduction plan for her prednisone, and her ears have continued in fair health.

The contract for Bastion arrived and I filled it out and returned it.

By Thursday night, I had almost everything sorted, but by then, the week of epic stuff had taken so much out of me, I got sick. Go figure.

I made good use of my day at home and finalized the insurance arrangements.

And today, I was ready to get back on the social media horse and resume blogging.

So that’s the story of my epic week of stuff, a week that wore me out more than hell month. Some of it was good, and some of it was bad, but all of it was epic. It’s always a mixed bag here at writerly goodness.

Ups and downs: A week in the writerly life

Greetings, my writerly peeps!

It’s been a weird and wonderful week for me.

First, I headed down to Mississauga (second of three trips for the day-job this month) on Monday. Since I had full travel days (Monday and Thursday) this week, I was able to travel in a more leisurely fashion.

My mission: to co-facilitate the Business Writing Made Easy course (my seventh time with that particular curriculum) with one of my colleagues.

Monday afternoon was spent preparing the room and testing our technology. There were a few tense moments. There was a TV in the room, and we attempted to hook it up as the monitor for the lap top so we could use it to show the slides for the course. It didn’t work.

So we brought the good old SMART Board into the room, and while not able to achieve full connectivity (some of the cables were missing) we were able to use it as a basic projection screen. Good enough.

My colleague was preparing for her own trainer certification. At this time, our employer’s internal college is getting out of the certification biz, however, and so she had to record a full day’s training, edit it down to four hours, and demonstrate the eighteen trainer competencies.

This would mean that I couldn’t be in the classroom, though, because to have a co-facilitator in the room would have invalidated her certification.

So what would I do? Due to another colleague’s absence, I was able to set up at her workstation, but there wouldn’t be a lot of work I could do.

The day ended, and I had to leave ends a little loose for the time being.

That evening, I tried to connect to the interwebz through my hotel’s wi-fi. It wouldn’t even let me have multiple windows open (that’s how I manage my SoMe). So that meant dependence on my smart(er than me) phone for SoMe for the week and actual productive writing time.

This was a boon in disguise. I quickly accepted it for the gift it was.

That night, I realized that my colleague and I would be co-facilitating Business Writing Made Easy again at the end of this month (my third trip of three) and that she could record her session again there. In the morning, I proposed that I observe her and give her some tips for the end of the month, then jump in on day two.

This was an agreeable plan and so we proceeded.

There was a little panic (actually ongoing) because we were uncertain whether the course at month’s end would be approved.

The video tapes (yes, it was an old camcorder) ran out before half the day’s training was finished. We weren’t sure if my colleague would have enough footage to even make up the four hours she would need to submit.

Regardless, that night we went out to celebrate and enjoyed Korean BBQ, a first for both of us. You cook your own food, right at the table, and it’s a la carte, so you just keep ordering as long as you’re hungry. It was very tasty.

The next day, a snow storm blew in. The course finished well—the grammar module is my favourite—and my colleague had figured out how to transfer her video to digital so she could edit. So she had a possibility of moving forward with her certification video even if it turned out we couldn’t co-facilitate again.

I had a quiet night, writing away, and finished editing my NaNoWriMo novel. I just have to fill the ending out a little more now. We have denoue- but need a little more -ment.

The drive home on Thursday was terrible, largely because of the previous day’s snow storm.

It took me an hour and a half to travel a distance I normally would in about fifteen minutes, even with traffic. Then I got off the highway and travelled a little more indirectly to bypass the closed lane I assumed was the reason we couldn’t travel more than 10 km/h.

Once past that bit, I was fine, but I didn’t get back into Sudbury until about 3:30 pm.

When I got home, I noticed I had received a lovely email from R. Leigh Hennig of Bastion Science Fiction Magazine. They would like one of my stories for an issue later this year. W00t!

I have to back track just a bit. I submitted my story on March 1st. There was originally a deadline of February 28, but when I went to check on the web site, I noticed the date had been removed and that Bastion was now accepting submissions on a rotating basis, with issues filling up fast.

I decided to take the extra day to polish, and I’m glad I did.

When I was in Mississauga the week before last (first trip of three), I received an email that my submission would be brought forward for discussion with the editorial team. I was cautiously optimistic. Hell, I was all alone in my hotel room doing the happy dance.

And yes, I was dancing again on Thursday night, to Phil’s delight, when I received the second email confirming Bastion’s interest.

In fact, while I’m not one to too my own horn (it makes me distinctly uncomfortable), I have to share the following: “After some careful deliberation on this piece with the rest of the staff, we’ve decided that it would be a crime not to publish this.”

Oh. My. God.

Mellie was a wiggle-puppy.

Please donate (find the link on their About page) to support this wonderful new magazine.

 

It was back to work on Friday, and I forgot my phone, which meant no keeping up with email or SoMe or my reading during the day.

Then it was over to my friend Kim’s for home-made chilli and much writerly talk with Kim and a new (to me) friend, Violet. There was wine. I had to drink tea to sober up before the drive home and I ended up getting home after 11 pm when I finally caught up on email and SoMe.

Connecting to like-minded, creative souls is an important part of a writer’s life. It was wonderful, even if I didn’t get to write.

Saturday morning was cranberry bread French toast with Mom, a quick clean up of the house, and then an afternoon of shopping while Nuala went for her spa day (grooming) at Petsmart. After ordering out pizza for supper, I hosted a couple of friends from out of town.

It was another night of great conversation, though accompanied by coffee and oatmeal cookies instead of wine.

Unfortunately, that meant I was unable to meet a writing deadline. I was hoping to submit to the Northwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop (NOWW) because the judge for the speculative fiction category is none other than Robert J. Sawyer. I would have loved to get something in front of his wise eyes.

I wouldn’t have given up my time with my friends for anything though. So, I’ll have to look for other opportunities.

So it’s been a week of ups and downs, but more ups than downs. It’s been a good week. And now I’m looking forward to a week off so I can recuperate and prepare for my next business trip.

How about you? How has your week played out? Let me know in the comments below.