Tag Archives: writing

I’m Back! Or Am I?

I saw this photo in my endless unedited photostream and it looked so otherworldly it took me awhile to figure out what it was. This is someplace in Madison, Wisconsin. I should look it up but I need to run out the door in 3 minutes.

I am back in town after a whirlwind trip to CA last weekend. I’m still running around trying to do more than I can handle. But I did some social things, too. And I baked two pies this morning and taking one to a get together this afternoon.

I have a story coming out in Apex Magazine tomorrow. Read the whole issue — it’s really good. Here’s the forward from guest editor Amy Sturgis. And don’t miss Rebecca Roanhorse’s story Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience. It’s a good companion piece with mine.

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Another look at downtown Portland in the Snow. This is on the park blocks behind the Schnitz looking north.

Below are photos of the snow at the park-n-ride, first seen here on the 18th. The photos below are the 23rd, 25th and 26th. I bet there’s still a little bit tomorrow.

I’ve got a bunch of sprouting bulbs — little green tips peeking up. I thought maybe something was digging up bulbs but the Internet tells me that’s something called winter heaving. I keep finding sprouted halves of bulbs on top of the dirt. I’m supposed to plant them deeper. Now I know.

No new words on Book 2 this week. That wasn’t completely unintentional. I had planned to take a few days off to write a draft of a short story that I thought I could whip out. Then the time that I had set aside for that project didn’t work out. It took me all weekend to get the draft whipped out. That’s still fast for me. We’ll see how long it takes for me revise it into something I would show someone.

It’s resting for now and I’m back to romance. I’m still on track for my deadline but just barely.

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Happy New Year

We made it to 2017. Hooray.

I made some ambitious writing goals so you can expect much more of the half-assed content you’ve grown accustomed to. (Or would that be much less?) I keep finding notes for posts stashed everywhere — on Mac stickies, in Evernote, on my phone, on regular paper. I don’t know why I fail between that step and pasting it in right here.

I’ve had a good winter break. I always wish it were a little longer but I’m well-rested and more or less on top of my list. Less, actually. Perhaps one of my 2017 goals will be to let more things slide. Don’t tell Bob.

This time of year I clean off my bookshelves. The idea is to take books away to make room for the new books. I give the old books away or sell them back. Very rarely, I will throw a book away. A number of years ago I read a book that was beautifully written, wonderful characters and the worst story. This poor lady was a good, decent person trying to do something and everyone was against her and in the end she had nothing and was run out of town.


One less copy exists now. You’re welcome.

In the process of going through my shelves I always come across books that I forgot I had or that I still want to read. I found one such book and opened it and the purchase receipt from 2004 fell out. I still think I’m going to read it.

Keep your feet warm.

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Little Big Snow

My super big news, is that pen name received a *Recommended Read* review from Dear Author (prominent romance review site).

I knew there was a reason I still hadn’t worked on my best of list for this year and this book is it. Yep, it’s going on it for a number of reasons but I’ll cut to the chase and say it’s one of the best overall books I’ve read this year.

–Jayne at Dear Author.

This is a review site that I am a big fan of, however I’ve backed off romance reviews lately because I was buying 3 books for every 1 I read and I resolved (unsuccessfully, so far!) to catch up on reading what I have before I bought anything new.

I am now more motivated than ever to work on Book 2.

I’m trying to learn to use textures in my endless quest to be better at Photoshop. I don’t think these are excellent examples, but you gotta learn somehow.

We had just enough snow with a lovely coating of ice to make life interesting around here for a few days. It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow and stay above freezing so fingers crossed we’re in good shape for the holidays.

One last thing, the salsa update: I had this weird accumulating liquid issue in the fridge that I kept wiping up without realizing there was a problem. I vaguely remember dropping the salsa container. Must have been enough to crack the container. All that’s left in there now is salsa paste (still tastes good!).

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Updated RED TAPE Stories from Indian Country

This quick little project that was going to be done in August is finally finished. Well, except for the paperback. I’m working on it.

The selected stories have some connection to the people and lands of the Karuk Tribe.

The updated collection has three additional stories:

Lottie v. The Moon Hopper (originally appeared in Future Lovecraft).

The Last Willow Stick on the River and Reservation Jobs (originally appeared in Yellow Medicine Review).

Willow Stick and Jobs have no speculative elements and I gnashed my teeth about including them but in the end decided: it’s my collection, I can do what I want.

Here’s the background on the original nine stories:

The Battle of Little Big Science
(previously appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction) This was my Clarion West week #3 story.

Estelle Makes the Casino Run
(previously appeared in Innsmouth Free Press) I wrote this for a contest with my Clarion West classmates.

Social Security
(previously appeared in The Wordstock Ten) This was my submission story for Clarion West.

Field Work
This was my Clarion West week #2 story. Are you seeing a theme here?

The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock
Yup, Clarion West Week #5.

Clarion West Week #6. This was me trying to do something different since you’re supposed to stretch yourself at the workshop.

Trusted Leader
This was my Week #7 story – the first thing I wrote after I left the workshop. The process was gruesome but I like the way it came out after about 5000 drafts.

Fish Killer
This story has nothing to do with Clarion West. I was upset about the dredge mining situation on the Klamath and needed to work it out.

The Casino Gargoyle
This was another submission story I wrote when I misunderstood the application instructions.

Purchase links:

Kindle | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Paperback

If you already bought it but want the updated version, drop me a note. We can work something out.

I have a couple of new short stories floating around out there. Hopefully I’ll have some news to share on that soon.

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The Look That Never Grows Old

In 1999 I was in the Meier & Frank downtown when I spotted these Star Wars men’s boxers on clearance. I was mad for Star Wars and thought they would be perfect shorts for me. I think I actually wore them as regular clothes a few times.

They eventually made their way in my pajama drawer for the summer. And I have been wearing them ever since. (Only in summer. In winter I’m all fleece or flannel.)

If you have a rudimentary understanding of how elastic ages then you won’t be surprised to learn that for the last several years, they wouldn’t stay up. I tried sewing the waistbands smaller. I tried safety pins. I tried rubberbanding a clump. Basically I have been walking around with my summer pajamas half off because I did not want to give up my Darth Maul pajama shorts.

Yesterday I walked into Fred Meyer and look what was on sale:

They didn’t have a very good selection and I still hate the idea of throwing Darth Maul away, but I have wearable summer pjs for next year.


The ebook should be available tomorrow. Large online bookseller controls everything and there are steps where they just make you wait and you can’t do anything else until they say okay. I’m in the last phase of waiting. Hopefully I can click “GO” soon. I still need to look at a proof for paperback before I click go on that one.

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Beg-A-Thon Week #3 Progress Report

This week I did just over 11,000 words. I remain on target for my goals.

From here on out it makes no sense to measure by word count. I need to tidy up about 24K per week to get the draft to the beta readers by July 28th.

Now that I look at it like that, it seems impossible. Oh well. I’ll do my best.

So I wrote a complete (not pretty) draft since starting on May 20th. That’s pretty incredible. I’ve always considered myself to be a slow writer.

I had a fairly substantial outline to work from but I need to remember not to let myself get too gummed up at the beginning because I figure out a lot of stuff as I go along.

One of the things that makes this possible, like I said before, is letting everything else slide. This is agonizing for me but when you want one thing you have to sacrifice something else. Bob is out of school so he picks up more of the chores. I also (oh so painful) gave up about 90% of my reading time. I had time to power skim the New Yorker and that was it. I used my time on the bus to work out the next bits I wanted to write.

So if my outline says “woman discovers she’s really an alien.” Then while I’m on the bus I’ll write notes about how she figures out her craving for raw meat and the strange appendages she has growing out from behind her knees aren’t normal so she goes to the science library to do research but realizes she’s being followed by a purple Cadillac…

And so on like that so when I sit at the computer I’m ready to roll.

I try to preserve my back and neck and wrists by regular breaks.

I do any number of these things:

Shoulder Stretches with a belt.

Wrist and forearm work (This is a class preview. It might sound technical but watch the demo. These are great.)

Foundation training back exercises. I am generally the type to be put off by branded exercise systems but I’ve been doing the basic exercises regularly as part of my recovery from the back debacle of 2015 and I think it’s helped a lot.

Those are my secrets to writing a whole bunch in a short time. Although to be honest I’m not as confident in this manuscript as I was in the last one.

Thanks again to all my terrific sponsors. My report showed over $10K in donations already. Not for me but for the whole thing.

It’s not to late to donate.

This is what the tomatoes are doing. I’m going to put the cages up this afternoon. I did a half-assed job of throwing them out there and have ignored them ever since so probably not going to be a big tomato year. (Again.)

A couple more links.

I’m not a big pork eater but I’ve been anxious to try out a new recipe and this Cuban Roast Pork caught my eye. Right now the house smells amazing.

For a huge portion of my career I worked with the Metlakatla Indian Community in SE Alaska. This is a terrific article and photo essay about basketball in the Community.

That’s this week’s update.

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Beg-A-Thon Week #1 Progress Report

Week #6 2008 — This is my Clarion West class with Chuck Palahniuk

I wrote 9,723 words this week. I should sit here and work until I hit 10,000 but I also tidied up my entire manuscript and I have shocked even myself with my capacity to sit here and work all day long on a weekend.

Time for a break. Tomorrow is another day and I want to beat that work count next week.

Here are my rock star classmates participating in the Write-A-Thon:

Maggie Croft

Christopher Reynaga

Carol Ryles

Kira Walsh

Rajan Khanna

Caren Gussoff

Me again

And our workshop administrators

Neile Graham

Les Howle

Here’s the status of the project of August:

I need to pay attention to my poor neglected husband.

Super huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far. I will send you a personal love note soon.

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It’s Beg-A-Thon Time!

I found this photo from the Squirrel circus of 2016. Action shot of squirrel number one fleeing the premises. (I typo’d that as “feeling the premises” and almost left it.)

I started writing at 7am this morning and I did take a number of breaks but I’ve been working almost all day.

The Chicago trip was fantastic but I got home Monday night and then Tuesday I had a soccer game (Yes, I know, poor me) so I didn’t get home until 10pm. I woke up Wednesday morning with the crud.

I’m not feeling terrible today but I still have major coughing fits and I had just put a cough drop in my mouth when my husband came in here and set a frosty glass filled with strawberry colored frozen beverage in front of me.

He just finished school yesterday and he is in “OMG, I have the whole summer to play” mode. I am still working and I have a first draft to finish by the end of the month. I’m not quite in the same head space.

So, back to the drink, I looked at and said: I just put a cough drop in my mouth.

But it was pretty and smelled good.

How much booze is in this? I asked.

He said: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, about a shot and a half.

I gave it back to him. If I spend the entire day writing that means I did not do anything else and I have chores to do before I can get fuzzy on a fruity drink.

I last did the Clarion West Write-A-Thon in 2011. I wrote an excellent introductory post about it then.

My stated goal is to write 1000 words a day although it’s not going to work exactly like that. I need to try to have a draft ready for beta readers at the beginning of August so I need to write about 17,500 a week for the next two weeks (That’s about 10 pages a day). Then I’ll have a first draft and for the last 4 weeks of the Write-A-Thon I will need to spin my first draft of poop into a readable draft of gold.

This would be much easier if I didn’t have a husband, a job, a soccer team, a vacation, cooking, cleaning and a never-ending pile of administrivia to contend with. But I’m going to try to make it happen anyway.

If you are rooting me on during this insanity – please consider throwing a few bucks to Clarion West. Small donations are very happily welcome. My donation page is here and there are tons of other writers to support if you don’t like me. There are other ways to donate here.

I hate making blanket dramatic statements like this, but the workshop really and truly changed my life and I am so grateful that I was able to attend.

Here is the progress on the project of August:

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Disappearing Mac Salad

This is Roscoe, the other next door cat and current ruler of the stoop. I can’t remember the last time I saw Toes out there. I saw Noah out there getting hissed at. I was out watering and for a second I didn’t want to disturb him until I remembered that he doesn’t live here. I do.

Now that I’m in the middle of a writing project, there is no spare creative energy of any kind.

Almost every meal is tacos or Trader Joes prepared foods or something I can stretch out for 2 or 3 meals. I have no ideas for gifts. I have no energy for house projects except for light organizing. I have no ideas for posts. I have no ideas.

We have just reached the point where we pick more berries than we can eat each day. Not complaining!

I found 3 extra brain cells and squandered them to make something other than tacos this weekend.

Since it was so hot I did a ton of food preparation on Friday. I made a mac salad and a couscous salad. I made a jello mold with fruit. Don’t laugh. It’s refreshing on a hot day.

On Friday I made Kenji smash burgers. Recipe here. Video and recipe here. I very very highly recommend. I kind of messed it up and it was still amazing. Plus it’s fast and easy. Use American cheese and make the special sauce. You won’t be sorry.

I have enough beef left for one regular and one mini smash burger tonight. The mac salad is already gone. There is a ton of couscous salad.

Project of August:

I’m actually behind on this. I got stuck. And then I panicked. And then I sat here staring at the screen going: OMG, think of something! Quick! Hurry! You’re falling behind! Think of something!

Turns out: That doesn’t work. I had to back up. Take a couple of days to unravel and regroup. I think I’m back on track now.

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