Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The Year in Review and Resolutions

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So last year proved a most exciting year on the writing front. I sold my first novel in January and saw it hit bookshelves by mid October. My first royalty check is due sometime this month, so we’ll see how well it’s done on the selling front.

I’m a little less than halfway through the first draft of the next book in the series, but other than that, I did finish multiple drafts of an alternate history romance novel. I did query a couple of agents but had zero interest–as usual, I suspect that I’m writing stuff that traditional publishing finds unmarketable, so I just might decide to either go small press again, or even consider self-publishing it once I get a final draft done. I did submit to a couple contests and got some feedback, so there is some work to do on it before it’s truly ready for world. There’s no rush though.

On the reading front, I did really pathetic; I read a total of nine books last year, which is just unacceptable, so I’m aiming for more this year. I’m no longer going to put reading on hold while I write and will instead try to read at least an hour a day, before bed. I would like to clear out all the books languishing on my current reading list on Goodreads and start reading some stuff on my wishlist. I think reading more will also help me stay creative on the writing side, since it seemed that I really struggled with getting progress made later in the year when I wasn’t actually reading anything. This year has started off strong though, and I’ve already plowed through two books I had started last year (or, in one case, two years ago) and marked off two on my goal of 15. If the reading is going well, I just might increase that goal, but for now I’m aiming to be reading with more regularity than I did last year.

 

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
T.L. has
read 2 books toward her goal of 15 books.
hide

 

I hope everyone had a good holiday season and the new year is looking good.

Holiday Baking

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I’m not much interested in cooking or baking, but occasionally I get a wild hair and decide I want to bake something festive. A bunch of my friends on Pinterest pin a lot interesting-looking recipes and I’ve been collecting on my own board, just in case the wild hair should strike, and behold, today it striketh! With Halloween just a couple days away, I decided I needed to try out some cookie recipes. I printed out two but only got around to making one today; there were other things that needed doing first, like grocery shopping, helping Jeff install our new trailer door, and sitting on the couch watching Ghostbusters and drinking Cherry Coke. Eventually I did get around to doing one of the recipes (which can be found here) and it turned out rather well, both in appearance and taste. I’ve actually had pretty good luck with recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. Here’s some pictures:

Gooey Monster Cookies
IMG_0944 IMG_0945

I have another recipe to try out tomorrow, which I suspect won’t turn out as well because it requires assembly with icing, but we’ll see. These were fun to make, but quite messy, and because of the dough’s incredible stickiness, the recipe only produced about two-thirds what it said it would.

Out with the old, in with the new

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So 2012 has come and gone and the new year is before us, which means taking stock of what I accomplished and then looking ahead to the future.

So, last year was a crazy ride of ups and downs, some of which I still can’t talk about because things haven’t completely ironed out yet. I finished a second draft of one novel, started a third (which I didn’t even get half-way through), then wrote another novel in a completely different genre, but again in the same milieus that I love. I still haven’t lost the desire to write about Aztec history and mythology, and have several more stories brewing in the back of my mind. I started the year off strong and hopeful, but hit a slump where I wasn’t enjoying writing anymore, but moving ahead into a new genre helped me rediscover my love of writing. However, I think my lack of desire to move on to new subjects led to the demise of my career in traditional publishing before it even started; there is apparently no market for what I write with traditional publishers, in either genre I’m writing in, but I really, really want to write these stories, so in the end, I decided to let my agent go and strike out on my own. She put in a lot of work on trying to sell my novel and unfortunately that didn’t turn out as well as we’d both hoped, but I think going a less traditional route might be better for the kind of stuff I write. There were some interesting developments in that category in December and hopefully I’ll be able to make some announcements by the end of January. Stay tuned!

On the negative side of things, I made zero money this year on writing, a first since I’ve started doing this in earnest. At least the taxes will be easy to do this year.

As for this year, I’m putting aside the failures of the past and pressing onward. I know what I want to write and am going to do it, and if it means self-publishing it in the end, then so be it. Part of me still wants a traditional sale with the backing of a big publisher, if only because it seems on the surface to be less work for me, but the idea of self-publishing isn’t as scary anymore. The professional world is changing fast, and traditional publishing is looking less and less stable and safe as it used to. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of getting an agent again, for the idea of going into any contract without someone to watch my back makes me sweat, but that just might not be in the cards for me.

On conventions, I don’t know that I’m going to go to any this year, aside from my local one. I really want to be able to go to LonCon in London in the summer of 2014 and that means having to save money for the trip, especially since I’d love to bring the whole family with me this time. The plan this year is to not attend either WorldCon or World Fantasy, though I loath to go two years without seeing my best friends at least once.

On a final note, after having heard really good things about RWA as a writer’s organization from several close friends, I went ahead and joined, and joined a local chapter here in Denver at the end of the year. It seemed a good move professionally since what I’m writing right now is, for intent and purposes, genre romance, and it would be useful to learn from other romance writers. I do intend to approach some small press publishers with this novel I’m working on right now, then self-publish if that doesn’t lead to anything, and there’s at least one more book in this series that I really want to write. In the end I just want to write about what I love and if that leads to sales, great; if not, then at least I’m getting some satisfaction for myself for having told the stories at all.

The Uber-unglamorous Life of this Writer

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I’m boggled that it’s been over four months since I’ve last posted anything, but sometimes there’s nothing interesting going on. So, what exactly have I been doing since January? Mostly doing the rewrite on the latest novel and getting it ready for my crit group, which has it now. I also took some time to do some reading, something I don’t do nearly enough of. I’ve been trying to work my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series and have made it as far as A Feast For Crows before having to take a break from it. Right now I’m researching for the next novel (which, gasp!, is not Aztec!)

On the sub front, everything’s been pretty quiet, though hope springs eternal. With any luck, I’ll have a new novel making the rounds by June or July.

Other things I’ve been doing these past four months: toilet training my cats, and it’s going surprisingly well. If I’m successful at getting them completely litter-free, I might do a blog entry about the process. We’ve been working on it for just over two months now and we’ve got probably another month worth of work left on it.

So, as you can see, not a whole lot of excitement going on here at Casa de Morganfield. I keep more day-to-day news at my Facebook page if you want to keep more up to date on what I’m doing, so feel free to send me a friend request over there if you wish.

These Things Just Happen

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Fiona 003This last weekend has been hard to recover from, and though I’m not feeling quite so down today, it’s a good thing that I’m on vacation until the beginning of the year, for I doubt I could concentrate enough to get any work done. Some folks might have already heard about this on Facebook over the weekend, but here’s something a bit more in-depth.

On Friday morning, I went to let the dogs out of their kennels. Fiona, our Golden Retriever, was hesitant to get up but after some coaxing she finally came out of her kennel. She was walking really slow but I didn’t give it much thought, just assumed she was tired and not quite awake yet. They spent some time outside then I brought them in again, for the temperatures have been very low the last week or so. This time I left them outside their kennels in the storeroom. When I came down to check on them a couple hours later and to let them out for a bathroom break, I found Fiona had peed on the floor in front of her kennel. Was really irritated by this, for she had a habit of peeing on the floor last winter when it was really cold outside and she didn’t want to go out. She’d been pretty good about not peeing inside so far this year, so I was cranky and gave her earful. But when I went to let them outside again, I noticed Fiona was still walking really slowly, with her head down, and she continued that posture when I let them in again ten minutes later. Decided to not put them back in the store room at that point and brought them upstairs with me, so I could watch Fiona and see if she would perk up. Lily was acting her normal active self, hunting out every scrap of dropped food she could find in the kitchen, but Fiona just curled up on the floor next to my chair and looked glum. I gave them biscuits, and as soon as she took her’s, I knew something was definitely wrong with her. Normally she horks down, barely chewing, and is soon begging for more. Instead, she just took it in her mouth and stood there staring at me. She finally ate it five minutes later. So I made an appointment with the vet to bring her later that night, to get her checked out. I figured she had canine flu or a cold.

Fiona 001The vet took one look at her depressed demeanor and agreed something wasn’t right. All her vitals checked out fine, so they drew blood. The vet noticed her gums were pale and she thought she felt fluid in her abdomen, so they took her to be x-rayed and to try to extract some of the fluid from her belly, to see if it was blood. Thus began my 6 hour vet visit. They drew non-clotting blood from her abdomen, and xrays were blurry around her spleen, leading the vet to believe that there had been some kind of rupture, either of the organ or of a tumor on the organ. The bloodwork also showed her platelet count to be dangerously low, and her sodium count practically non-existent, so they put her on a saline drip, to help rehydrate her. The xrays weren’t clear enough to tell for sure what had happened, so the vet recommended getting an emergency ultrasound done. That would require driving all the way to Boulder at 8:30 at night, and extra expense to have someone called in to do it. We decided to go ahead with it anyway. The vet recommended taking some chest xrays, just to make sure that the chest was clear and there was no sign of cancer in the lungs that would indicate metastasized cancer that had spread from the spleen. If it was, there was little point in getting the ultrasound, for that kind of cancer is terminal. We were hoping for a best-case scenario of an organ rupture that could be repaired with surgery and a blood transfusion.

The chest xrays showed some questionable splotches that two of the vets thought might be signs of metastasized cancer, but were unsure, so they sent the xrays off to an online radiology service (Sight Hound) to have an actual radiologist assess them before going forward with the ultrasound. That took forever it seemed, and while I waited on those results, I took the kids home and had some dinner. When the news finally came back at 10:30 that night, it wasn’t good at all. The radiologist had identified soft tissue opacities in the lungs and her heart and blood vessels had shrunk, and the spleen was irregularly shaped, particularly at the bottom where he thought there had been a rupture of a mass, and she was hypovolemic. There was no point in doing an ultrasound then, for surgery could do nothing for her.

Dogs5We had the option of taking her home with us that night and see if the bleeding would stop on its own, and if it did she might get a couple weeks, maybe a month before it would happen again. The vet also thought there could be a high risk of her bleeding out overnight and that we might wake up the next morning to find Fiona dead in her kennel. Jeff and I were concerned that it might be one of the kids who finds her like that, and that would have been devastating for them. Gaaron had grown particularly close to Fiona over the last year after years of having little interesting in either of the dogs (he really liked that he could play ball Fiona. Lily has no interest in playing fetch.). And he kept asking the vet, “Is Fiona going to die?” In the end, we decided the best thing for Fiona was to euthanize her. It was a very tough decision, for once they got her hydrated with the saline again, she was back to her normal energetic self, but her body used the saline up so fast that it she had to hydrated twice while we were there. I knew that if we took her home, she would be depressed again by morning, if she didn’t bleed out. I’ve really struggled with this decision over the last couple of days, wondering if I should have given her more time and taken the chance that the bleeding would stop; mostly I didn’t want her to be in pain, and I didn’t like the idea of her bleeding to death at home while we slept. So I drove back to vet’s and sat with her while they gave her the injections. The hardest moment for me was when I was holding her under her front leg and could feel her pulse slow down until it stopped (I’m crying right now just thinking about it). I miss her so much; it’s so much worse than when we had to put down Jake because Fiona was only 6 years old, and we hadn’t had her for 5 years yet (it would have been 5 years on Dec 27th). Jake at least was old and so it wasn’t so wholly unexpected like this was.

Lily is confused and depressed. The first night, she wouldn’t go to bed until I’d opened Fiona’s kennel so she could climb inside, and she’s slept in there ever since. She searches the house and yard for Fiona and I wish I could explain to her what happened. She’s never been an only dog. She seems unusually skittish now when I take her upstairs. Before she would run all over the place, sniffing out any dropped piece of food. Now she just wants to be downstairs in the basement, in the store room, lying in Fiona’s bed. I’m spending more time with her, hoping she will get better over the next couple of weeks. I always thought that after these dogs were gone, I didn’t want anymore dogs, because of all the digging and chewing and barking, but I never expected to lose either one of them this soon, and seeing Lily so depressed…. If we do get another dog, it won’t be for a while though.

We’re going to put together a shadow box for her, like we did with Jake, and I’ve started work on a digital painting of her in Gimp. I hope to have it finished by the New Year.