HallowRead 2018

In just over a week I’ll be at HallowRead in Ellicott City with my Corrugated Sky coauthors. The event runs on Friday and Saturday and we’ll be donating an autographed copy of Tales of the Black Dog to be given away. We’ll also have a table set up for selling our books.

On Friday there are writing workshops and on Saturday there’s a whole line-up of presentations and panels, including “Steam Work Makes the Dream Work,” a panel on Steampunk. I’ll be taking part on the panel, which runs from 12:00 to 12:45.

 

 

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Biting the Bullet (journal)

And so, I’ve finally succumbed to the siren song of the bullet journal. I have a gorgeous new fountain pen, Marvy LePens, highlighters, drawing pencils, colored pencils, stamp pads, and more gel pens than you can shake the proverbial stick at. And I have an orange Rhodia journal just waiting for my words of wisdom to be deposited within its dot-gridded leaves.

This summer has been atrocious. The weather has alternated between monsoon-like rain and heat indexes that make me swoon just looking at the numbers. And work has been so busy I feel like I can’t breathe. My week of vacation came and went and I’m wondering if it ever really happened or was a figment of my imagination. But what isn’t imaginary is the amount of writing and editing projects I have on my to-do list. I’m floundering and starting to panic. What I need is to get my projects organized and establish deadlines.

Deadlines may be a nightmare to some, but they can be a writer’s friend. The trick is to make them work for you. Establishing priorities and due dates means that I can focus on one thing and ignore the rest because the rest of those things will get taken care of later. Meanwhile, my one and only project gets my undivided attention. Or at least, that is how it’s supposed to work. I haven’t been a paragon of planning virtue this year and I’m wasting more time worrying about what I need to get done than it would take to do the tasks ten times over.

Enter the bullet journal (and Trello). I’ve been considering the journal for some time, as it’s a way to keep track of things, plan, keep my idea lists in one place, and play with art supplies and feed my inner artist. I’ve had the Trello app for awhile but I haven’t done much with it. Today I started setting up a Trello board for my writing projects and labeling them. The bullet journal is going to be for more general items, as well as project lists.

I’m a bit stuck setting up my bullet journal’s “future list,” so I turned to the internet for ideas. Website after website, the layout seems to be the same, the fonts are frilly scripts, and I can’t help but notice it’s mostly girls doing this stuff. Yeah, I’m a girl, too, but it just seems odd, especially given that the inventor of the bullet journal is a guy. Why aren’t the men doing more planning? Or are their bullet-journal websites just buried on page 629 of the search list? Or are they so busy doing that they aren’t planning?

So far, I’ve drawn a few lines, marked two pages as “index,” created three “signifiers,” and put some page numbers in the bullet journal. It’s a start!

The Box of Shame

Zim in the box of shame. As you can see, he’s showing no remorse for his deeds.

Last year I took my two cockatiels to the vet after the older bird, Peachfuzz, became listless for a couple of days. One off day isn’t a big deal, and they were molting, which usually means they’re grumpy and sleep a lot, but Peachfuzz is about 21 years old and I didn’t want to ignore something that might be serious. So I packed them up in separate paper shoeboxes and took them to the vet.

Now, Peachfuzz is a real trooper. He put up with having to stand on the scale to be weighed, allowed the vet to listen to his heart (and discovered there were buttons on the vet’s shirt — buttons!), and even toughed it out when it came time to have a blood sample drawn. The only reaction he had was to clench his foot, and having blood drawn is not a small issue for a small bird! But Zim, who is 10 years old, is literally a bird of another feather. He screamed his head off the entire time that the vet was handling him and I’m sure some (I mean, all) of the squawks were the equivalent of four-letter words. Worse, he bit the vet. Twice.

So this year when I took them for a yearly physical I hoped it would go easier. Nope. Peachfuzz just hung out and smiled at the vet’s assistant (yes, animals do smile), but Zim wouldn’t even allow himself to be weighed. This horrible activity consisted of having to stand on a plastic perch attached to a support, which was then put on a scale. Really, it was a bird toy, but Zim flew around the exam room in terror of the multi-colored plastic monstrosity until he was exhausted and landed on the floor, where he promptly tried to hide under a chair. I scooped him off the floor, and that’s when the assistant pulled out the plastic bin. Yep, the plastic box of shame. In you go, Zim!

Of course, he bit the vet again (twice), but the squawking was a bit less than last year’s fiasco. This year I boarded the birds at the vet’s while we went to the Maine Astronomy Retreat and they reported that both birds were well behaved, and had enjoyed whistling with the vet. My husband had worried there would be a Band-Aid surcharge on top of the board fees, but happily everyone survived the ordeal with minimal distress. There’s real hope for next year’s exam!

 

Upcoming Book Events for 2018

I’ll be attending the Baltimore Book Festival this year as an author. Corrugated Sky is going to have a day table on Sunday, September 30, which means we’ll be inside a big tent with other small publishers and independent presses. We’ll have four titles for sale, and maybe — just maybe — a fifth one, if we can get the zombies anthology done in time. It’s been a very slow summer for writing.

In October we’re attending HallowRead in Ellicott City, and in November we’ll be doing a library workshop in Virginia. I’ll post more information on these events as they get closer. I’m trying to update my Goodreads author page, my Amazon author page, and keep stuff on Facebook up to date, but it sure is a lot of places to add information and I’m not so fluent with these things that it’s become a habit yet. If you thinking writing is hard, wait until you get to the marketing! And I’m not going to start every post with “buy my books,” because that gets old.

I have a few nonfiction writing projects in the works, but I’ve managed to stall out this summer and have been really unproductive, unless you count learning PvP in GuildWars2 as production time. I’ve spent more time worrying that I’m not doing any writing than I do typing, so if I can harness that energy I might be able to turn fall into a productive time. My vacation is coming up in less than two weeks. I can’t wait for the break and a change of scenery!