To Start Again, Reset, Reboot, Renew

I like Mondays.

I like making resolutions at the beginning of a new year.

I like a clean desk, not because I’m satisfied all those projects are complete, but because I look at it and see it’s ready to start something new.

This summer has been a drag writing-wise. I’ve spent the last 100 days wrestling with the current work-in-progress. Mostly in my mind because I’m not thrilled with the revisions I’ve been making. It doesn’t snap like it oughta.

Looking back over the last few years the best time I’ve had writing was turning out short stories regularly, so I’m going to do that again. I’m not giving up on the long WIP, but my timeline for completing it is extended greatly.

I’m at the beginning of a new semester, and moving to a new house. I think it’s also time to refocus my writing goals. Summer is winding down and a new season is around the corner.

What I did this summer: I bought a house, killed my dog, and my computer magically turned into a brick

And, in addition to all that, I’ve been working to shrink my digital life.

We’re buying a house! Yay? It’s exciting and nerve-wracking, and all happening faster than I expected. We already own a house, but we never really liked it. So, a few years ago we decided to start saving for an upgrade. Our target date was 2020, but after meeting with a financial adviser (because now that I’m fifty-something I do responsible adult shit like that) we determined there was a way to move forward this year.

We sat down with people at the bank in May and on the long July 4 weekend we started to look for a new home.

We found a house that weekend!

But then learned someone had already bid on it, and the buyer only looked at bids in the order in which they came.

The next weekend we euthanized Abby the dog. Abby had degenerative myelopathy for about a year and a half before she died. On Tuesday she had some sort of fit, which the vet (based only on our description) guessed might have been a spinal infarction. Regardless, after that night her ability to move her hind legs diminished greatly. She walked like the drunkest of drunks. She had already been pooping inside the house (because she was losing control of her bowels due to the myelopathy) for the last couple of months. But, the key indicator that it was time, was that she stopped eating. Even her special crazy expensive delicious food that she gobbled down even at her most anxious and picky. By Friday we determined that the time had come. We’d been expecting this moment, but it was still a really sad weekend.

Let me back up for a second.

The first week of June we went to the beach for a week. It was awesome. When I came back and fired up my computer nothing happened. It was dead. Bricked. There wasn’t much on it. Lots of pretty pictures I saved off the internet for my screen saver. Old tax returns (which I also have in paper). And, oh yeah, the novel work in progress. Fortunately, I’m pretty good about backing stuff up, so I have the novel. What I didn’t have were the latest round of edits (which was about 40 pages worth). So I had to find a new strategy for editing the novel.

Then my dog died.

Then we found a house. A different one. One that we made an offer and it was accepted. One that we expect to own on Aug. 31.

And, somehow, in the midst of all this, I lost interest in my WIP. I didn’t stop working on it. Not completely. I began editing sections again. But it became a depressing chore instead of an engaging interest.

My solution? Next post.

Time for an Update

Time for an update.

I dropped in the feed from my Twitter account in the right-hand column since most of my online writing is short tweets rather than substantive, or at least longer than 280 characters, blog posts.

Editing the novel is still a work in progress. I reached the half-way point this weekend. On the one hand this is good. Yay! I’m persistently persisting. On the other hand it’s not moving as fast as I wish it would. Boo! I was supposed to finish this round of edits by the end of March.

Regardless, it’s comforting that it has not been abandoned.

I sent out a couple of stories before the busy-ness of February. Now that February is over, and I’ve caught up on some things, I expect to send out more stories soon.

I’ve finally managed to pick up the podcast habit. Right now I’m cycling through a variety, looking for something I can listen to regularly. One of my favorites so far is Talk Nerdy.

Inspired by listening to a variety of programs I’m thinking I should post an audio story. Not sure exactly when I’ll do that, but maybe in May?

My New Year’s resolution was to work on lessening my hermitish ways. To that end I started a book club, and we sort of randomly selected Trouble Boys since we are all of a certain age and listened to The Replacements frequently in our various youths.

I’m a heavy user of RSS feeds, and Digg Reader was my RSS reader of choice. They announced recently that they are ending that service. Right now it looks like I’ll be switching over to Inoreader. Feedly only allows 100 feeds in their free version. I weeded myself down to 400, and Inoreader had no problem handling that many feeds in their freebie version.

Whoops! Movie is starting. That’s all for now. I’ll update again in a few weeks.

Persistently Persisting

I forget how much the beginning the semester can sap my energy. Rejuvenated over winter break I foresaw much busy-ness when it came to creative work and blogging. Alas, that is not the case.

I continue editing the novel. I will eventually go through the whole thing multiple times. I’m currently one sixth of the way through this edit. Not quite on target for completing this go-through by the end of March, but I’m still confident I’ll hit my target date. It’s going well.

I managed to get one story completed and submitted in January. I have another deadline at the end of February. Unfortunately, I’ve been at somewhat of a creative loss and don’t have a story in the works. There is still time, but it’s running out fast.

I’ve started listening to the podcast Ditch Diggers. I’m not really a fan of podcasts, but I’ve been able to tolerate this. It’s two working SFF professionals discussing the business side of the biz.

Started watching Altered Carbon. While watching episodes of Black Mirror and PKD’s Electric Dreams I vowed I was done with dystopic SF, but here I am. We’ll see how far I make it.

Read Fifth Season and liked it. Read Three-Body Problem and didn’t like it. Next up is The Only Harmless Thing by Brooke Bolander.

I am by nature asocial and an introvert. My efforts to counter that are going alright so far. I’m getting out and socializing.

On one sojourn out and about I hung out with a friend who is totally engaged with his work. He’s loving it. Everything is feeding into his research and creative process. He is excited about what he is doing now and what he will do next. A few nights later, another friend is spinning free, no idea is gaining any traction, and he’s not sure what to do next.

I find myself similarly at a loss. Perhaps it’s February and work busy-ness. Keeping a record of my writing allows me to see that these fallow times happen periodically and will almost certainly pass. But, for now, every idea is a thin gruel, every opinion is shallow, the world is dull, and the future is dim. Nonetheless, I persist.

First Story of 2018 Submitted

This year I decided to change tack when submitting stories. Instead of writing stories and then looking for a market, I study a particular market and write a story for them. My first deadline was Monday. I wrote the story (“Funeral Champagne”) the first part of January, edited it over the weekend, and sent it out in time to meet their deadline for the next issue.

Today I start conjuring up a new story for a new market with a deadline at the end of February.

I’ve edited two of ninety sections in the novel. Not as far as I wanted to be, but at least I finally got started on it. I’m setting that deadline for the end of March. By ninety days into the year I should be able to finish editing ninety sections, right? It will need multiple revisions, so this will be going on all year.

I finished reading Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin and enjoyed it immensely. I’m typically not drawn to multi-volume fantasy series. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them. I feel anxious about spending so much time reading one long work instead of multiple shorter works. Before I start the second volume I’m going to read Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin (another multi-volume work!).

I liked Stone Sky because it wasn’t a typical orc, dwarf, thinly veiled European mythos fantasy. Instead it has a Jack Vance Dying Earth far future weirdness vibe I dig.

I watched Mother! recently and thought it was terrific. Less enthusiastic about the new season of Black Mirror, or the one episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams I watched. Of course, I’ll probably watch all the episodes in each series.

I’m secretly excited for the rest of the Supergirl season. I haven’t watched it at all this season, but I deeply loved the Legion of Superheroes when I was a kid, so I’m looking forward to seeing them live and in action.

I added a text widget in a column on the blog which tracks my movie/tv watching.

The cold snap we had killed all my peppers, basil, and tomatoes (though the carrots, beets, and green cauliflower came through OK), so I’m going to re-seed next weekend. It’s supposed to get down to below freezing tomorrow. In Florida. I know it’s cold everywhere, but it’s not supposed to be that cold here. I can’t grow peppers when it’s freezing outside! And, I don’t know if the banana trees will make it through this winter.

Still getting into the rhythm of the new year. The 3-day weekend felt almost like a continuation of my winter break/vacation, but there’s nothing but work for the foreseeable future. At least until May/June. I feel like I’m starting slow, but I’ve managed to be somewhat productive and found time to hang out with friends, so maybe it’s not a bad start at all.

Bustling Folly

To start off the new year I’ve re-designed the blog and renamed it. This year’s blog title is Bustling Folly.

“Bustling folly is the character of our species: people hastily set off on the path of the good, but do not persevere steadfastly upon it; indeed, in order to avoid being bound to a single goal, even if only for the sake of variety they reverse the plan of progress, build in order to demolish, and impose upon themselves the hopeless effort of rolling the stone of Sisyphus uphill in order to let it roll back down again.” — Immanuel Kant

This year there will be no 21st century politics or hot take on the outrage du jour. Instead of venting my anger I’m going to focus on the stuff that engages me. And what engages me are books, stories, and ideas. Especially weird books, stories, and ideas.

Because of my day job I spend more time than the average person reading book reviews and skimming scholarly papers. I’m going to start funneling some of that into this blog.

Because of my hobby I spend a lot of time reading weird fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. I also want to funnel a lot of that into this blog.

With any luck it will be weird and fun and maybe inspire an idea or two. At the very least it might provide a moment’s reprieve from the inside-out, upside-down lunacy of our current situation.

Here’s to a new year of bustling folly and mind-bending weirdness!

“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality.”Ursula Le Guin

2018 Resolutions

Fresh beginnings. I love them. I am that weirdo that loves Mondays, because with a new beginning everything seems possible.

I don’t love January 1 and Mondays because I’m optimistic, or because I think everything is going to be OK. I don’t. I like them because they are cues, opportunities to re-focus my attention and energy.

And it’s because of the opportunity to re-focus, to re-plan that I love resolutions.

Typically I try to avoid self-improvement resolutions. Last year I resolved to get in tune with the moon. A few years ago I resolved to eat more pie. This year, though, I’m tilting toward the betterment of self.

This year I’m resolving to be more social. Online and off.

I am an introvert in the sense that I find being around people to be tiring. I like people just fine. I’m comfortable in front of a crowd. I can speak extemporaneously to any size group without fear. I like parties, and hanging out with friends.

But, I have a weird sense of hypervigilism when I’m with a group of people. This sort of extreme attention can be exhausting.

Over the years it’s become apparent that that sort of isolation isn’t healthy. So, I’m working against my instincts this year and plan to spend more time hanging out.

Other resolutions are simply to do more of what I enjoyed in 2017. Write more, read more, blog more, submit more stories, and move around more. Where will I find the time? Less passively browsing the internet and fewer TV hours.

I hope your 2018 is getting off to a great start despite the blast of cold that’s chilling us all, even down here in Florida. Here’s to 2018 and more of the good stuff!

That’s a Wrap for 2017

2017 sucked and 2018 doesn’t look much brighter.

This blog, (formerly known as) Balderdash and the Moon, started as a way for me to sort my thinking/feeling about Our Current Situation. By the end of the April I’d stopped writing about politics at all, and the hot takes were all served liquid nitrogen cold. The last two thirds of the year were mostly novel progress updates and full moon stories.

This year’s writing success was finishing a novel. Yay! I started working on revising the draft last night and it was loads of fun. I’m looking forward to re-working all that writing over the course of the next several months.

I also posted a story for eleven of twelve full moons. I hope you enjoyed them! I’ve pulled them off the site, but there will be more in 2018.

I read about 50 books for fun last year, and read/skimmed a couple of dozen for research. Here are ten that stood out:

Animal Money by Michael Cisco – I didn’t finish this book, but I still think about it. Not finishing it kind of haunts me. I’ll probably return to this again in 2018.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler – Embarrassed to say this is the first Butler book I’ve read. Good in so many ways.

Book of the Phoexix by Nnedi Okorafor – Currently reading Who Fears Death which is equally as awesome.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – Utterly brilliant. Tremendous command of language. Re-read the hurricane passage as Irma approached.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky – Unforgettable story premise.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine – I think about this book all the time, and constantly want to re-read it.

The Baby Jesus Butt Plug by Carlton Mellick III – I seriously should be reading more bizarro fiction. Maybe that will be a new year’s resolution.

Hunger by Roxane Gay – A reminder of the importance of bald-faced honesty.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente – Looking forward to re-reading this one.

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – So much my kind of book. It has the benefit of recency, but it is my favorite book this year.

A few books I read for research also stand out.

Chronicle by Bob Dylan
Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford
Daughters of Aquarius by Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
Neon Angel by Cherie Currie
Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock by John Einarson

My New Year’s Resolution in 2017 was to be more in tune with the moon. Like many resolutions this one had more success at the beginning of the year than the end. Nonetheless, it was one of my favorite resolutions, and something I expect to stick with me.

So long, 2017. I have my doubts about 2018, but for a moment there is hope.

Look for a revamped blog this weekend or next.

Next year’s blog (tentatively titled Bustling Folly) will lean into the lack of politics and hot takes. AND, will also have more posts (focusing on books, writing, and weird ideas that catch my attention).

Along with the revising of the novel, I expect next year to write new stories and submit to markets. I will be sending off the first sometime during the second week of January, a short-short I’ve written and am currently revising. The story strategy for 2018 is to write stories to specific markets, rather than write a story and look for a market that fits. I’ve identified a dozen pro/semi-pro markets, and am educating myself about each, one at a time.

Happy New Year, everybody! Stay safe, rejuvenate, and get plenty of rest, because we have our work cut out for us in 2018.

December’s Full Moon Story – The Drowning Giant

(UPDATE: The full moon story series was only available in 2017. All stories posted in 2017 have been taken down.)

In December we have a supermoon! If you saw the full moon last night it probably looked closer, bigger, and brighter than usual.

This month’s full moon story is an attempt to take a myth and write it as a short story. Any guesses on the original myth on which this story is based?

This month’s story is barely more than a short-short. I had another queued up, but it needed too much revision. After the effort of November’s writing to finish the work-in-progress, I didn’t have it in me to substantially revise.

I love J. G. Ballard’s story “The Drowned Giant” and this story is a slight play on words. It is about a giant who drowns his children, rather than about a giant who cannot swim.

Hard to believe December is already here. Even harder to believe that with the distractions of work, the Oval Office, and various hurricanes I managed to piece together 95,000 words and get nearly a dozen stories up on the blog.

I’m not sure what the plan is for next year, but I still have a few weeks to figure it out. I have a short-short (which was never on this blog) I’ll be submitting to the markets in January. I have to revise the novel (which I expect will take at least another year). I want to post more frequently, but I want to avoid politics, so I need to figure out how I can carve out time, and what sort of topics will be suitable.

I’ve got a few more posts for this year, but until then stay warm, stay safe and I hope you enjoy the final Full Moon Story of the year.

The Drowning Giant

It is evening and I watch him mourn on the beach. He wails. He kneels on the beach, a thatch of seaweed hanging from his shoulder. He is too distraught to clean himself. Sea water drips from his long black hair. His keening cry can be heard for miles.

Near him lays the drenched and drowned body of his daughter, the surf washes up around her legs, and then away again.


Not long after that evening I watch him mourn again. His pain fuels my rage because I knew his pain is a lie. I watched him murder two of his daughters. My sisters. He pretends he had no choice, that they were working to destroy the paradise he built. Paradise? What paradise is there for my two dead sisters, and the dead brother I know he killed before I was born?

Read the Rest Here