April Doldrums

And just when the energy felt like it was surging back, the April Doldrums arrive to stunt everything. It’s something about this week, man–something I just can’t pin down. Maybe it was the long weekend. Maybe it was the two fleetingly beautiful 70 degree days, followed by clouds and rain and blah. <–That sounds likely, actually. 

It’s not that I haven’t gotten some things done. I did get the revised short story “Swallow” out again to the next market, and I *do* think the opening is better, so that’s something. And I *did* get my hour of writing work in today, and started Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson, which has been on my to-read list since I attended a reading of hers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa back oh so long ago. (It’s delightful so far, thanks for asking.) 

Preggo-wise, things are going generally well. Had a check-up ultrasound last week due to a minor concern, but the baby’s doing good and is just the right size for what he should be at this point. Still, he moves and pushes out so much, I’m starting to wonder if you can develop claustrophobia in the womb. lol That all said, with the belly getting bigger and pushing up on the stomach comes heartburn, which has been just freakin’ delightful the past two days. Tums helps, and I’ve got some stronger stuff the doctor recommended if need be, but blech. 

Motivation to do anything at all is supremely low at the moment. I tricked myself into editing the latest short story, “The Mortal Coil,” for an hour by setting a 10 minute alarm on my phone (with the assumption that maybe by the time I hit 10 minutes, I could carry on with my natural tendency to want to finish specific tasks). It worked (thank goodness!), and I got some work done, but this run-through of editing has been much gentler than the run-through for “Swallow,” and I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I ended up cutting out 1700 words from “Swallow” over the editing process, but so far on this one, I’ve been much more lenient, and only cut out about 500. Still, I’m not totally convinced that this particular story needs as much cut out (it’s starting almost 2000 words shorter than “Swallow” initially was), and it feels rather whole in and of itself. 

I also realize that I write a lot of quiet, thoughtful stories that aren’t particularly action-y. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in terms of possibility for sales, but I enjoy it, so I suppose that’s what matters. :) 

Wall-staring time! *stares blankly*


Blog Post 2: Return of the Son of Blog Post

End of February, beginning March were a little crazy here at Chez Slater. For one, the ol’ body decided to do epic Pokemon battle with me, and chose PREGNANCY, attacking first with Round Ligament Pain (65% effective), then following with periodic Braxton-Hicks pseudo-contractions (85% effective) and a Disrupted Sleep attack (100% effective). Thankfully, the RLP attack is pretty short-lived, and it seems already to have gotten a ton better as I get adjusted to the new body structure. The Braxton-Hicks contractions are rare, still, but damn if they don’t shake you up a bit. Apparently a lot of women who get them during this time of their pregnancy find them totally painless. Me? Yeah, not that lucky. I’ve done pretty well breathing through them and all, but they’re no fun. 

The Disrupted Sleep Attack is actually resolving itself too (thank GOODNESS). For a while there, I’d get pretty intense deep-hip pain if I slept on one side for more than forty minutes at a time. I tried various pillow structures, etc., but really, the only thing that helped was sleeping on the opposite side for a while. *That* was made challenging by wrenching my back one night (which set off the first of my experiences with Braxton-Hicks, joy joy), which meant for a couple of weeks there in February, I would get up and move to either the opposite side of the bed or the daybed in the living room to switch sides, since rolling over normally really aggravated the back. The back finally healed up, but rolling over every half-hour to forty minutes (almost like clockwork–I timed it one night with a stopwatch out of curiosity) was still majorly disruptive. However, for the last two weeks, the hip pain has seemed less and less noticeable, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it’ll just go away. I think it’s probably hormone related, because I vaguely remember having something similar for a few weeks or months back in early high school, and my mother says she gets it from time to time as she goes through the later stages of menopause. Here’s to hoping it goes away and I can sleep like a log again!

That said, the disrupted sleep did mean that at least one of those weekend nights I was uncomfortable enough that I ended up thinking (and subsequently writing) an entire short story at 2 AM in the morning, finishing it about 3:30, and going back to bed. I also got to watch the arc of the Moon’s movements through the sky, and how it changed over two weeks, which was fascinating, actually. At least the cats seem to have learned how to deal with my tossing and turning and don’t pester me too much to get under the covers anymore, which is lovely in its own way. ^_^

Okay, but enough about the P word. This last month also saw my little sister get married in Long Beach, CA, which we’ve only just returned from as of yesterday. For the most part, I did pretty well, I think, at keeping up and at the same time not totally wearing myself out. The wedding on the Queen Mary was beautiful–I was a bridesmaid (or matron, as the case may be)–my sister looked absolutely angelic, and we’re so glad to add Eric and his family to ours and vice versa! We also ate a ridiculous lot of good food, like Korean BBQ which we cooked right at the table (sooooo tasty!), and big breakfast buffets, and a large Vietnamese dinner at this wonderful restaurant tucked away in San Gabriel. Also got in a lot of walking, which was good. And of course, I had to go on the Queen Mary Haunted Encounters tour, where the guide tells you all the ghost stories about the ship, because ghosts. It was a lot of fun. I’m a bit tired today from all the travel yesterday (red-eye flights while pregnant do totally suck. Blech.), but a little napping and getting back into a routine seems to be helping. 

I also got some exciting news yesterday, but I’ll hold off on details as things aren’t officially settled and I don’t want to reveal anything that hasn’t been announced yet. But needless to say, it’s a major positive shot in the arm, and I’m thrilled about it! 

I’ve got some other things on the mind that I may blog about over the next week or so, particularly a look at Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, which I read in a whirlwind over the CA trip. It’s one of those fiction books that speaks very strongly to the writer in me, just as Martin Eden by Jack London did or Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, and I think I’ve learned a few things about my writer-self. It’s a lovely book, by the way, but not at all relaxing. From the wild parties of the 20’s, to marital turmoil and psychiatric episodes in the 30’s and 40’s, it’s an intense love story mixed with a lot of disappointment, desperation, frustration, alcoholism, and anger. There were times I was literally talking back to the book’s characters aloud because I was so worked up at the various indignities and crushing low-blows that inevitably occurred between Zelda and Scott (and others). That said: I could barely put it down. Well worth the read. But I’ll talk more in detail about that later. 

In the meantime, I’m hopefully back for a while until B-Day in June, when I’ll probably go radio silent for at least a number of weeks (or month+). We’ll see when we get there!


Day 24-25 — A Three Day Streak & Embracing the Art of Non-Striving

Day 24 — Yesterday was another good day for the List! I got everything done that needed to be addressed by about 3pm, and had a guilt-free relaxing evening. Made some progress on the rewrite, plugged away for another bunch of pages as I retype the draft into the computer. I’ve found that retyping can really help me in the revision process–it’s something I’ve done for “Hope City” and for “Shepherd”–in that it makes me re-evaluate every sentence once by one, and in addition helps me to incorporate changes smoothly without really butchering the flow (which seems to happen when I just insert something that was previously missing).

Also made good reading progress on THE CHILD THIEF by Brom, which has been a delight to read so far. I love his reinterpretation of the character of “The Captain” as an honorable man caught in a very bad situation, spawned by misunderstanding on both sides. His revulsion for what his own men are becoming–while likewise despising the magical world that has trapped them–is just another layer that makes him a riveting character to read about. Love it!

Day 25 — Today has been a training day in the art of non-striving. Last week I had this sharp pain in my left hip which frankly kind of freaked me out (it was really, just, yowch bad). I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was quick and it went away pretty fast, with no real lingering pain save some tight muscles in my back and side. Week proceeds, and it doesn’t come back and there seem to be no other complications. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty good. This morning? Tried to roll over and YOWCH again. This time, at least, it didn’t surprise me as much so I think I managed to handle the sudden spike of pain better, but still…not so pleasant. I had just read in one of my pregnancy books about stretching ligaments, so decided that since it’s happened twice now, I’d call my doc and see if it was worth going in to have it checked out.

Turns out, these nasty twinges are actually quite normal during the second trimester of pregnancy. It’s called Round Ligament Pain, and it *will* stop happening eventually, once the ligaments around the uterus stretch enough to accommodate the additional weight and strain being put on them. I must have been twisting in just the wrong way this morning and that time last week, and the ligaments just weren’t having it. Closest I can describe it (besides the rubber-band snapping, mentioned in the WebMD link, except imagine that being a really BIG rubber-band and also electrified), it’s like when you’re walking and the tendon on the bottom of your foot suddenly clenches down. It’s not like a Charlie Horse so much as real nasty twang. Quite unpleasant. Thankfully, the nurse assured me that this will pass eventually and is perfectly normal, which does help. At least now if it happens again, I’ll know what the flip it is and not worry that I’ve ruptured something or whatever my occasionally hypochondriac brain can come up with (OH EM GEE, IS IT CANCER?!).

Needless to say, however, my back and left side have been tensed up like crazy since I got up this morning. After a gingerly eating breakfast and taking the dog out, I got my reading done and finished THE CHILD THIEF, and even got a bit of rewriting in there–though not too much. Otherwise, I’ve forgone worrying about not accomplishing things today, and just tried to relax and let the body calm down a bit. It’s been interesting, because it does make me realize how desperately I cling to productivity to measure the worth of my day. If I’m not actively moving towards the completion of some goal I’ve set, I get very antsy and irritable, but most of all, I end up feeling very self-judgmental. All those reedy little Critic thoughts pop into my head and start asking (even politely, helpfully) if maybe I’m just not cut out for this whole writing thing, because obviously, if a bit of a sore back and hip pain can take me out for a whole day, am I really as dedicated as I’d need to be to have any shot of a career doing this? I mean, there are people out there who write 8 hours a day, or a minimum of 4 at least, so really, if even an hour is too much for me some days, should I really be tormenting myself by even trying?

Obviously, I’ll ignore the Critic, because–as I like to remind myself–I’ve heard it all before. But the conflict between cutting myself some slack now and then and that insidious inner Critic is sometimes quite a challenge to navigate. Today, I rested, because I needed it, and because I know that at the start of next week, I’ll get right back up and start working on The List again, because it *works* and I’ve loved using it so far. It’s helped me get so much more done in three days than I feel like I’ve gotten done in months, and I can tell I’m on the right track. But for today, I can put my feet up and take it easy, listen to my body, and not push it. Because pushing it too hard right now could very well make it worse, and I really *don’t* need to strain a ligament just to slow down a bit.


Day 9 – Stealing for Home

Apparently, writing just after breakfast is turning out to be the most productive time for me. For some reason, right after I finish a meal, I’m totally primed to get some brainwork done. It’s rather odd, but hey–I won’t complain! Today, I managed to write the last two rewrite scenes of the Editing Project (working title, “Nobody Here But Us Monsters”), and am pretty pleased with the outcome. I think the POV shift from First Person, Past Tense (originally the New Wife’s POV) to First Person, Present, Plural (the “royal We,” though in this case, it’s actually an observing group with an unnamed narrator among them) has really improved the story overall. It’s a good chunk longer than I was *hoping* it was going to be, clocking in at about 7,400 (eek!), so there’s going to be some significant splicing and dicing to come. I’d love to get it under 6k (under 5.5k would be even more amazing), if possible, but that may be a bit of a stretch.

Next week, I’ll set this one aside to cool off a bit, and focus on cutting back an already fairly short story and see if I can’t bump it down into flash-fiction range, which would–I think–tighten up the story and give it the little kick it’s been needing. I have a market in mind for it, if I can manage to chop it down that much. After that’s done and wrapped up, I’ll pick this one back up and start on the hard-line revisions to get it into submittable shape.

Hooray, though! I’m so excited about getting back on the submitting bandwagon. It’s been too long, and I’ve been itching to get going again. And not just a story here and there every several months, either. Prior to June, I want to build up something of a completed-story arsenal, which I can then juggle around to various markets for the many months while I’m distracted by the New Little One. That’s one nice thing about long turn-around times–it keeps things floating for a while. (And nothing burns quite like an <24 hour rejection–ZING! Convenient, but painful.) If nothing else, it’ll help me feel still slightly connected to the whole writing world, even if I’m not producing much new work during that time. I want to be able to enjoy the kiddo and not pressure myself to do much beyond that.

So here’s where I get a little more serious, and discuss something I’ve been thinking about a lot as the months tick by and June–with all June implies–gets closer:

Continue reading “Day 9 – Stealing for Home”


Day 6 – The Wall


And a new work week has begun…somewhat sluggishly, if I’m being honest. It wasn’t a particularly good pregnancy day, but I did get my butt in the chair for some standard writing, which was good, but lost out on some editing time this evening. Got some reading done, but not much in the book I’m supposed to have finished by week’s end. 

This week, despite it’s sluggish start, has the potential to hit some very awesome completion points: namely, the wrap up of the novel rough draft (five more scenes after today, and not particularly long ones, either), and finishing the from-scratch rewrites of the current short story editing project. If I can get both of those done, which is not impossible nor even particularly ambitious in scope (the rewrite has only two longish scenes left, and is racing towards the climax which should get itself along even faster than the opening scenes have so far), I’ll feel pretty swanky, for sure!

All that aside, the highlight of the day? Feeling the baby kick for the first time! Somebody’s got energy legs already. Oh boy… :)

WRITING PROJECT: In a world where wars are waged in shadow and the separation between man and machine is shrinking by the day, a war-droid wielding cyborg-girl begins a secret battle against those who would control her and destroy the only chance of a future she’s ever had.

Working Title: Shadow Games: Book 1 of the Shadow Engines duology
Added Words: 1921
Total Words (to date): 93,800

Happening Today in the World of Fiction!: A lonely funeral, and thoughts of regret. A swift cover-up. A terrible truth revealed!  

Notes: This scene isn’t my favorite–it accomplishes some things and makes rather a nice echo from the beginning of the story, sure, but it’s clumsy and not particularly thoughtful in its execution. There are so many opportunities to imply things through what’s going on around the main character in this sequence that I didn’t have the patience to tackle at this time, so it’ll be part of what needs to be revised later. But hey–the scene is done, and the tale moves forward, and I can worry about rewriting later!

EDITING PROJECT: Ghosts and legends and Bluebeard, oh my! The cold Maine coastline! Haunted grounds! Ribbons and bitter, ghostly wives! Dueling secrets! True love? Perhaps!

Current Editing Project: Nobody Here But Us Monsters
Accomplished in Edits: No work on this, again, and no real excuse for it. :0\ Back on the horse tomorrow.


Day 3 – A Forgiving Day

Sometimes, I have what I’m starting to call “forgiving days.” Today was one of them. It started off rough, from cat vomit on the floor, to the fierce onset of a clogged yet runny nose, food seeming unappetizing, to clocking my head on one of the apartment’s angled beams, to spontaneous bursts of tears. Ah, pregnancy is a delight.

On days like this, I try to remember that life doesn’t follow any patterns or rules, and that no matter how many lists and goals I set for myself, sometimes I just need to lean back and let go a little. Forgive myself for not doing everything I want in the time-frame I want. Forgive myself for being overly emotional, because let’s face it, the hormones of pregnancy are one heck of a wild ride at times and can come and go without warning.

The surprising fact is, on these Forgiving Days I sometimes do accomplish more than I might think. I try not to worry about goals or personal deadlines or doing just about anything other than relaxing and letting go. Today, that letting go led to charging through the first fifty pages of MINDFUL BIRTHING by Nancy Bardacke, CNM, a book on mindfulness as related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It’s a book my mother recommended. She’s in the last leg of her Masters of Mental Health Counceling, and has found a lot of the mindfulness-based stress management techniques very useful as a therapy. I have another book on general mindfulness to reduce stress that I’ve been meaning to go through, but as I haven’t gotten to that one yet, I figured I’d pick up the one that’s pregnancy specific, since that’s one of the main sources of stress for me at this particular point in time.

It was wonderful. Even just reading a little bit, trying a few of the breathing-consciousness exercises, and generally allowing myself to let go of my “list of grievances” of the morning (yes, I actually wrote them down in a comprehensive list, believe it or not). I felt so much better after that. Even the lingering headache I’d started the morning with (and that was *prior* to hitting my head, joy joy) seemed more manageable. I haven’t gotten all that far, and it’s certainly no miracle cure–I’m not really looking for something like that–but it rings very true with something inside me, so perhaps that alone made me feel better.

I read a lot today. I actually got some writing done, too. I squeezed in a bit of editing, and actually tackled the few things on my to-do list that were stressing me out to no end this morning. When I started feeling too overwhelmed, I took a few moments to get back into the present, center myself a bit, and remind myself that today was a Forgiving Day, and that I didn’t have to blame myself for anything. In all, what had started out as a train wreck of a day became one of the more peaceful days I can remember in the past few months. Perhaps all my days need to be Forgiving Days. :)


WRITING PROJECT: In a world where wars are waged in shadow and the separation between man and machine is shrinking by the day, a war-droid wielding cyborg-girl begins a secret battle against those who would control her and destroy the only chance of a future she’s ever had.

Working Title: Shadow Games: Book 1 of the Shadow Engines duology
Added Words: 1,165
Total Words (to date): 89,970

Happening Today in the World of Fiction!: Virtual espionage! Split multi-consciousness! The construction of mental labyrinths! And a serious case of scrambled-brain syndrome that might prove fatal…but not yet…

Notes: Did what I always do when I just don’t have much energy for writing: I set a timer for ten minutes. These short little sessions usually run over (this one did, branching out for another twenty), but it gives me the freedom to walk away after only ten minutes if it’s just not working. I rarely walk away, but I have when needed. Today, a thousand words felt pretty fine, so I left it there and didn’t worry about more. I finished a complete scene. That’s good enough. :)

EDITING PROJECT: Ghosts and legends and Bluebeard, oh my! The cold Maine coastline! Haunted grounds! Ribbons and bitter, ghostly wives! Dueling secrets! True love? Perhaps!

Current Editing Project: Nobody Here But Us Monsters
Accomplished in Edits: Wrote another rewrite scene, and it actually accomplished one of my plot points. I will say I’m looking forward to chopping out a lot of words from this later, but for now, it’s flowing pretty well, and that alone is worth being happy about.