1. Homework. I've had it with homework. Last night after once again having my kid work on it from the time she got home until I told her to stop because she had to get ready for bed, I went out and did some research. Turns out there is no evidence that homework for elementary and middle school aged children has any benefit at all, and it's not uncommon for kids to find themselves in the situation mine is in, where the assignment is supposed to take 20 minutes but actually takes much longer to complete.
Monday's assignment, for instance, took me 20 minutes just to explain and work through an example for her. THEN she started to do the work on her own, finishing at bedtime. From now on, she's going to put in her 20 minutes and that's it. Putting in another 2 hours or more of assigned work after a full day of school is too much to put on a small child.
2. Still working on my Mammoth Paranormal story. It turned out to be a story I'd started more than 10 years ago, and it's always interesting to me how ideas ripen and taken on new forms and are suddenly ready to be finished long after I've even forgotten about them. Really excited to see this one done at last.
3. Sleep. Or lack thereof. I've reverted to tools like the Baby Go to Sleep CD on constant repeat because napless baby and sleepless nighttime baby is a recipe for psychotic breaks all around. Also not good for productivity. Blackout curtains are helpful, too.
4. You don't know until you go. We had an aborted campout last weekend that we knew could end in rain and bad weather. But it also might've been fine and fun for everybody and ultimately the deciding factor was that we'd never know unless we went. Sometimes you just have to take the risk for something you want, even if you know it might not pan out. The alternative is to stay in a very narrow comfort zone.
5. I'm experimenting with writing on the go using iPad and Evernote with a keyboard folio. Not sure how I'm going to like it yet but I really want a good portable writing solution and I want one that just sticks to text and doesn't get in my way.
Happy post Mother's Day to all the moms out there. I wanted to spend my day wearing a 20 lb backpack and climbing a trail to a waterfall, so we got everybody ready for the day and headed off to hike in Olympic National Park. Which, by the way, never gets old. You can buy an annual pass for $30, a whole lot of entertainment value for the money, and it's all yours, from the beaches to the glaciers. Since one child was at the doctor's office on Friday we kept it very low key, and took the easy, well-maintained trail from the parking lot to Sol Duc Falls. The total round trip is a bit over a mile and a half, a nice distance to loaf along breathing unbelievably clean air and drinking in all the sights and sounds. It was literally a breath of fresh air and a feast for the senses.
Hello, May! So much work to do, so little time. Books to finish. Short due for Mammoth Paranormal anthology. I'm knocking out the short first and spent yesterday brainstorming plot details, choosing character names, working on the blurb and settling on a final title. Since the theme is a "monster hospital", my story is Visiting Hours.
Abraham's Daughter, Arcade Fire
Bring Me to Life, Evanescence
Love is a Place, Metric
Everybody Knows, Concrete Blonde
Nuns and Huns has been such a good time. Space opera! Hijacking! Mad scientists running amok! Here's the playlist, all courtesy of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes:
Seasons in the Sun
Crazy (originally by Seal, punked out by Me First)
I Believe I Can Fly
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
I Only Want to be With You
She tasted the froth at the top of her glass as if sampling some unknown delicacy then tilted
her head back. The icy cold beverage filled her mouth before she took a long swallow, eyes closing in appreciation. She set the glass back down carefully, as if she was used to handling delicate crystal and drinking something that cost significantly more than beer.
“It’s my own recipe,” Caleb stated, wondering where she was going with this.
“You’re a genius,”she assured him with apparent sincerity. She raised the glass for another long
That wasn’t the line he usually got.
“No, really,” she stated, as if sensing his skepticism. “A wonderful balance of flavors, bitter
and yet sweet. And the mechanical bull, that was your program, yes? Excellent tactics.”
His lack of response made her brows draw together. “I offend you?”
“Most women say something like, my place or yours.”
She tilted her head to one side, considering. “It will have to be yours. Mine is…complicated.”
A mixture of amusement and arousal stirred inside him, along with a curious reluctance to
let the conversation come to its natural end. When was the last time he’d found it so stimulating to talk to a woman? “Aren’t you going to introduce yourself first?”
“Is that a required part of the ritual?”
“I am Althea. You are Caleb.” She beamed at him and the suddenness of it gave him a curious
shock. “We are now introduced. May we proceed to your place?”
“Slow down and back up to complicated. Is sleeping with you going to get me shot?”
“Oh, no. I pose no danger to you at all.”
Caleb wondered why he wasn’t reassured. A complicated, sexy, obviously intelligent woman could
pose all kinds of dangers to his peaceful existence. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
To his surprise, the off-hand remark made her features still and her eyes widen, almost as if she were frightened. Then her face smoothed into calm. “No, but I thought I spoke your language well?”
“You do.” Just oddly. But he kept that observation to himself.
“We don’t have to talk.” She leaned forward and touched the corner of his mouth with the tip of
one finger. “I am sure you can think of other things we could do.”
Caleb gave in to temptation and nipped at the finger, lightly grazing the pad with the edge of
his teeth. “Many things.”
Her eyes darkened. “I would like to try them all.”
So, in my previous entry on moving I forgot to mention that in every move something crucial must get lost and/or broken or the gods of moving will make you pay for the omission of sacrifice. In our case, we were forced to sacrifice internet for a ridiculously long time (because the cable company neglected to tell us that while we were technically in their service area, getting service would mean trenching cable through yards and around utilities and when we went to DSL which had been previously at the house they lost our order for service) and then there was the broken hot water heater and the flood.
In the middle of this great friends came to visit who put up with the chaos, the boxes, and bathroom roulette and did a lot to relieve the stress of it all.
What have we learned from this? The gods of moving must always be appeased, friends are awesome, and every plan, however excellent and thorough and well thought out, will fail as soon as it meets reality. This is good to remember in life, in moving, and in writing because we cannot anticipate everything and therefore we must lean on our innate talent as living beings and adapt.
And now I shall adapt by eating lots of chocolate because my nerves are still frazzled and I have this space opera to finish and turn in on time.
Shiloh Walker tagged me, so here goes, from page 77 of Red Queen:
Speak. Now. But I was so tired, so spent. My brain felt more wolf than human and I struggled to
string together the right words. “The snark is a boojum,” I managed to wheeze
“Christ, she’s delirious.” That was David, reaching to take my hand. Zach raised his
head and bared his teeth, a low growl emanating from him. David froze. Everybody froze.
Then Jack said, “No. Not delirious. That’s a warning. She’s warning us.”
“What the hell is a snark?”
I closed my eyes and tried not to cry. I couldn’t explain. I didn’t have the words and I
was so tired.
“It’s a poem.” That was Jack again, his voice level and firm. “The Hunting of the Snark. But at the
end, the hunters become the hunted because the snark is a boojum. She’s warning us not to hunt. Things aren’t what they seem."
And now all the tagged shall plot revenge, oh yes.
First the rah rah new sales part: I've been asked to contribute to two upcoming Mammoth Book anthologies! The first is Futuristic, the second Paranormal. Since I just happened to have a space opera idea I'd been sitting on along with a great idea for the theme in the second, I jumped up and down and said yes yes yes. Titles, release dates, and so on TBA. Like the other Mammoth anthologies these will release in the US and UK.
On top of this we're moving because there are now five of us in a tiny house and the list of ways that's not working any more is too long to go into. Needless to say we knew the change was going to have to happen and we planned our lease to end about the time we'd be ready to deal with it, and that time is at hand. Somebody joked that I should tell people how to move, and when I went "haha" I got back, "No, really. Share." So here you go, how to move.
First of all, I am using
Trello to organize the move with checklists and to dos and important move-related information such as the kids' new bus route, new trash pickup day/time, and so on. Using Trello means I can share all of this with my husband and we can both add items, cross off to dos as we finish, and we also get to watch the progress bar of the % done fill in as a nice visual reminder that we're on schedule. If you don't use Trello, use some way to keep your to do list and important information in one place; a notebook will do.
The to do list might look something like this: get boxes and packing supplies, get change of address packet from post office, notify utility companies of date of service end at old location and start at new service location, arrange for moving help, rent a Uhaul, pack, move, do final cleaning of house. Whatever tasks are related to the move go here. Writing it down helps prevent anything important from getting overlooked or forgotten.
Home Depot is our go to source for packing supplies. The book boxes especially are a bargain, and we used about 40 of them. (Yes, we have way too many books.) You can often get free boxes from local businesses but that leaves you dependent on the type and availability and cleanliness of the freebies. You can also source used boxes on Freecycle or Craig's List, but for cheap clean availability you really can't beat Home Depot. (I have to add that given the resurgence of bed bugs in most cities, reusing a stranger's boxes is maybe not the best choice for economy in the long run.)
If your move is local, decide if you'll do it yourself, hire movers, or use a combination of rental equipment, your own labor and some hired muscle. This is not a decision to leave to the last minute as rental equipment, movers, and hired muscle may be booked well in advance. If you hire movers, go with the big guys and save yourself a world of trouble. If Cut Rate Movers are half the price, there is a reason for that and you get what you pay for.
Once that's all dealt with, start packing. Give yourself plenty of time so it's not a nightmare on the last day. I've been systematically packing cupboards and closets, boxing up seldom-used items and leaving only the last minute things to the actual last minute. Pack like things together, label each box with a Sharpie so you know what's in there when it's time to unpack, use packing paper and bubble wrap for fragile items, ziplock bags for liquids that could spill. It helps to mark each box with what room it goes to along with the contents, i.e., "linen closet, spare bedding", "garage, bicycle gear".
For the truly organized, measure the rooms and your furniture and plan the layout in advance so moving is a simple matter of putting the pieces where they belong instead of trying to figure out where the couch goes while two people struggle to hold up the ends.
And all of this is really not unlike writing a book or a story for an anthology. Planning and organization and starting early so you can stay on schedule no matter what goes wrong will all go a long way to ensuring success and saving your sanity.