good things still happen

One of the nice things about writing and publishing is that even if you go on a burnout-induced hiatus, good things can still happen in your career.

Stories on retailer sites continue to sell.

An editor contacts you and asks if you might possibly have something lying around for a themed anthology. Lo and behold, you actually have something that fits, written months ago and abandoned since. Even better, said editor likes the story and buys it.

Your husband hand-sells your books, and you hear back from a reader that you write like a poet, picking your words with care.

Your c0-writer points out that the story you wrote together made it onto an Honorable Mentions list for Best Horror from 2013 (I didn’t realize Creepy Doll Story, aka Sand and Seawater, was horror, but considering who I co-wrote it with… *eyes Jo*).

You go on Twitter after months of ignoring it (*blows dust off*) and discover that someone wrote a lovely review of your novella.

And when you finally return to your writing blog and start clearing out the tumbleweeds and cobwebs, you’re greeted with, “Missed you! So glad you’re back.”

All of which are so helpful as I return from a long, but much-needed, break.

So. *deep breath*

Hello, readers and writer friends. Hello, stories o’ mine. I’m back.

 

 

note to self: about summer

One would think that summer would be a time of awesome productivity for me. After all, it’s school vacation!

One would be wrong.

And I’ve finally decided to adjust my expectations to take into account that I get very little writing done in the summer.

For one thing, summer is not a creative season for me–at least not for writing. My stories are ice flowers–they blossom in the darkness of winter nights, the grey chill of a fall day, or in the bluster of an early spring wind. Summer is too big and gorgeous and golden; somehow the overgrowth of vines and weeds, the bloom of showy roses and peonies, sap my creativity rather than inspiring it.

It’s strange, I know, but it is what it is.

Two, the very lack of school-imposed structure, the daily and weekly march of education, works against me. With a summer full of vacations, camps, and swim lessons, every week looks different from the next. The mental adjustments of getting one kid to swim and another to camp, of coordinating pickups and dropoffs, of making sure I have the right kinds of snacks for camp lunches–all of these take up a lot of headspace.

Three, what creativity I have is taken up with planning the upcoming school year. So far, I’ve pored over catalogs, checked a gazillion samples online, scanned through pages of reviews, thought and pondered and talked at poor David, and finally, finally, ordered our books for next year.

And four–my house. Summer is the time to reorganize the pantry, straighten out the school room, go through toys and books and clothes. You know, all the stuff I’ve been avoiding all year, becausewell, school.

Four, it’s nice to just relax and have lazy days. To be plain Mom instead of Teacher Mom. To play five games of Forbidden Island in one day or work on puzzle of a dragon on a rock or the Oxford Skyline.

When I start pining to go back to school (feeling that way now), when stories start sneaking into my head, when I feel the loss of creating something with my mind and hands, when summer is sliding fall-wards, then… then I know it’s time to write again.

6 days at disney world

In early June, we took a fabulous vacation with the in-laws down in Orlando, where we spent 6 days taking in the sights and sounds and experiencing the thrills and chills of Disney World. It’d be a very long post indeed if I tried to cram in all that we did, so I’m going to focus on just six highlights from our time there.

From Wikimedia Commons

From Wikimedia Commons

“It all started with a bang”: The Fireworks

We got front-row seats for the light and fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom one night, but we were also fortunate to catch the fireworks from the ferry one night and from a bus another rainy evening. All in all, these were very impressive fireworks, including the ones that burst into heart and star shapes!

Evenings at the Magic Kingdom

From countless loops around the Speedway to meeting Rapunzel, Aurora, and Cinderella to catching the Electric Parade, evenings at the Magic Kingdom were a lot more tolerable than the heat of midday. The kids were too excited to go to bed at their regular bedtime anyway, so we kept them out late and counted on them to crash into deep sleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows (a good thing when you’re sharing a hotel room!).

“I’m in the movies!” at Hollywood Studios

Sir I. and David got up early one morning to sign Sir I. up for Jedi Training Academy. By the time the rest of us trickled into the park, Sir I. and eleven other young padawans were on stage receiving instruction. After their training, Darth Vader appeared on the scene in heavy-breathing-glory to tempt the young Jedis-in-training to the dark side. Each padawan fought in single combat with Darth Vader, and with their combined use of the Force drove him and his storm troopers away.

David, not to be outdone, volunteered to be an extra at the Indiana Jones stunt show, which was full of explosions galore.

Chillin’ at Blizzard Beach

The water park was the undisputed hit with everyone. From the one-acre wave pool to the lazy river that ran all around the park, it had something for everyone to do. Our family started off the day with a group activity–the Team Boat Springs. But the biggest hit of all were the Runoff Rapids, which we did several times, either in pairs or singly. The ten or so flights of stairs that we had to walk up while carrying our inner tubes failed to dampen our enthusiasm for this water slide.

“I’m flyyyyying” at Epcot

Our favorite rides at Epcot were Space Mission (simulation of a shuttle launch and Mars landing) and Soarin’ (simulation of flying in a glider over the California landscape). We did Space Mission twice, but Soarin’ was so popular we got to it only once.

Eating our way around the world

Our last day in the parks, with still several meals and snacks left on our Dining Plan, we proceeded to eat our way around the world at Epcot. We ate crepes in France, black forest cake and apple strudel in Germany, and orange chicken and lychee ice cream in China. The day before we ate dinner at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada. The filet mignon was heavenly.

Have you been to Disney? What are your Disney vacation highlights?

Balticon 2013

David and I attended our first Balticon this past weekend. We were there for two out of the three days, and had a blast. I’ve attended a writing conference (Pikes Peak) and a writers’ workshop before, but this was my first convention. It was a very different experience!

The People

What I loved about this con was that it drew in readers, movie/TV fans, costumers, artists, and film-makers, as well as writers. We met a guy in a steampunk Tigger costume, a retired mailman into historical re-enactment, and a woman who’d sewn an Inara costume for a Firefly-themed wedding. I LOVED meeting people with these kinds of passions and skills.

(And, I also got to meet Linda Adams, although briefly. Hi, Linda. *waves* Update: Check out Linda’s thoughts about the con in Tidbits from Balticon)

(Also, this was the first family-friendly writing-type thing I’ve attended. We’re thinking about bringing our own three next year.)

The Panels

Most of the panels I attended had to do with self-publishing (social media, podcasting, marketing, business) which fell in the New Media track (and so many of those were in a room tucked all by itself in an end corridor, hmm *wink*). There wasn’t much there that I didn’t already know–and when the panelists touched on anything new, it was in a cursory way, making me go, “Hmm, I’d better go research this when I get home.”

(I believe that cons are all-important for meeting people and getting that valuable face-time with them. Information you can get in spades online, usually in more depth and detail than can be crammed into a 50-minute panel.)

Things that I learned/need to look into:

* Google + for writers. There was an entire panel on this, but most of the panelists admitted they didn’t utilize this as well as they could. If you’re a writer using Google + extensively, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also–I’d like to do a Google hangout sometime. Anyone interested?

* Podcasting fiction is a LOT of work. I think I’m better off hiring narrators down the road.

* At some point, I need to look into setting up a LLC.

* Why you need a business plan: So that you can gauge whether an opportunity is worth pursuing or not. Will this opportunity take you closer to your goals, or off in a different direction altogether? (Thanks to Gail Z. Martin for this insight).

* Advice on shopping around rejected stories you wrote for a themed anthology: Other writers are inundating the market with their rejected Machine of Death stories, so wait a year for the deluge to die down and then submit.

* Note to self: Science presentations are awesome. Attend more of them next time.

Special Events

The highlight of my weekend was the Steampunk Ball (and yes, David and I attended that in costume. We had hats and everything!). Susan de Guardiola, the instructor, was awesome. We did line dances and circle dances, and quadrilles, and much fun was had by all.

It’s amazing how being in costume can help you meet people. They will naturally stop by to comment on the costume or–in a few cases–ask to take your picture. Also, doing something with other people (like everyone failing to learn a dance) is a great ice-breaker. The next day, when you run into them again, you have something to chat about. (Though you might need to remind them who you are. They may not recognize you without the hat/goggles/hooped skirt.)

 

Have you attended science fiction & fantasy conventions? Which was your favorite?

 

quartz episode one…

… went out to Inboxes all over the known universe early this morning!

Rafe Grenfeld, diplomat and spy, has problems. His entire embassy’s been arrested, he’s stuck in a hostile foreign city with police looking for him, and he’s been hiding in a smelly cramped dumpster for far too long. And that’s just the first two paragraphs! To find out more, go here.

Episode Two goes up on Saturday.

***

In other news, I have the nasty cold that my boys passed around this past week. And just as I was beginning to think I’d escaped the winter sniffles that have plagued my entire family these last few months…

Here’s hoping to resume writing and blogging regularly SOON.

How are you all?