Archive for September, 2019


Travel Planning

I’m more than halfway through my copyedits, so it looks like I’ll have that project off my plate before the weekend, and then I won’t have any deadlines or obligations. Whee! I won’t know what to do with myself.

I’d been thinking about taking a little road trip vacation early next week. We’re still having summer weather, so it would be more like a delayed summer vacation, only with weather not quite so miserably hot as it actually is in summer, than like a fall trip. There’s a town on a lake about four hours from here, and there’s a hotel actually on the lake. I’ve been thinking about heading down there, going to one of the state parks nearby where they have cavern tours, and generally just relaxing. I know that if I stay home, I’ll probably just end up falling into my usual routines and habits, and I’ll feel like there’s something I “should” do. The timing is good, since there’s no children’s choir this week, so I wouldn’t have to worry about lesson plans on the day I return. The choir isn’t singing the following Sunday, so I could even skip choir entirely and take a night off (though I’d probably go and go to the dinner before so I wouldn’t have to cook on the day I return).

But at the same time, there’s a big dose of inertia going on and a reluctance to make the long drive. Once I’m out of the metro area, it’s not so bad, but to get to the country part of driving, I have to cross most of the metro area. The weather isn’t entirely cooperating. There’s a good chance of rain on part of the day I’m planning to do most of my outdoor activities there. Then again, it’s been so long since I’ve seen rain that it might be worth it to travel just to see rain. And every time I check the forecast, it changes.

My problem is that I love planning trips, but taking them is often less fun than the planning process. Maybe I should have been a travel agent. I could plan trips all day for other people and not have to actually go on them.


Looking Back at Deep Space Nine

At last weekend’s convention, I got to see the documentary about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, What We Left Behind, and it reminded me of how much I loved that series. I’ve been around Star Trek my whole life (my mom said she fed me when I was an infant while watching part of the original run of the original series) and have watched all the series, but when Deep Space Nine came on, it resolved a lot of my issues with the earlier series. I’d been bothered by the fact that there were few consequences for events — something drastic and dramatic might happen in one episode, and then in the next episode it was like nothing had ever happened. Nothing changed, and no one was affected. Even before DS9 became more serialized in the storytelling, they were already doing character arcs so that we saw how the characters were affected by events. The main plot might have been a bit episodic, but there were character arcs as the characters and relationships progressed. When something big happened in an episode, the characters were affected by it in the next episode even if the main plot was something entirely different.

But looking back on it now, it’s astonishing how prescient they were about how things might develop and what things might continue to be issues. I haven’t watched the series since it went off the air, but I think I’m due a rewatch.

I do feel a bit old, seeing how the actors have changed since then, compared to how they looked when the show was on. They were all such babies! One of the things I liked about the series was the sense that these people did actually like each other, even if there were conflicts. It was a “found family” kind of cast of characters, where they were isolated from everything else and found community with each other, and the documentary makes it plain that the actors really did bond like that, and some of them are still close.

Part of the documentary involved the writers sitting around and brainstorming a hypothetical first episode for a hypothetical revival of the series — the same characters and cast, taking place the same number of years since the series ended. I’m annoyed at all the reboots of older series that have been coming up lately, but I’d be in for that one — continuing the story, not telling it all over again with a different cast.

writing life

And Back to Work

I was just feeling weird about not being in the middle of working on a book, and then I got copyedits on another book, so I guess I’m set for something to do. Fortunately, I got my house mostly tidied yesterday.

I’ve had overlapping projects for about a year now — I was drafting a book, paused to write a proposal, was working on another book, went back to drafting, then wrote another book, then while waiting on copyedits and edits on two projects started researching another book, then was bouncing around between production, revision, and writing on three different projects. Finally, one of them got finished and published, one was in the editor’s hands, and then Monday another one got done (for now). So for a whole day, I wasn’t really working on anything, and it felt weird. But now I’m back to normal with something I should be working on.

It’s actually quite good timing because I was just starting to ramp up research on something else, and research and copyedits fit well together because research makes for a nice break.

I think I am going to reschedule my flu shot plans, though. I’d been planning to do it tomorrow, then take the weekend to recover (because it always leaves me feeling tired and crabby). Since I’ll need to be alert the next few days, I’ll just do it next week.


The Minutiae of Life

I got the book done and away, so now it’s time for a little regrouping. My housekeeping habits slid in the last week or so, which means I desperately need to tidy up and clean. I also have a few business tasks to deal with. I do have a small writing project I need to wrap up, and there are some promo things I’ve been wanting to do.

But other than that, I want to do some relaxing. I’m even thinking about taking a vacation.

It’s funny, when I’m in the final days of finishing a book, especially when I’m on a tight deadline, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’ll do when I have free time again. Those things sound so wonderful and tempting at that time. But when I have time to do them, they’re suddenly a lot less interesting.

It’s tempting to spend a day or so relaxing before tackling all that stuff, but I think if I dive in while I’m still in work mode, then when I take some time to relax, I can really relax without worrying about things.

At least, that’s the plan. So, off to deal with the minutiae of life.

Day of Collapse

It was quite a busy weekend. I was finishing proofreading, going to a convention, and it was my church’s 140th anniversary, with a big service full of music.

I would consider it a day of collapse, but I have a couple of get-togethers today, so the rest of the day will be social, and then tomorrow will be the day of collapse.

I did pace myself with the convention, so I’m not as tired as usual, but I went back over for the closing ceremonies and ended up having dinner with some of the guests. I made new friends and had a lovely time. Now I have almost no voice left, between all the chatting, my reading aloud to proofread, and all the singing I did Sunday morning.

I’m sure I’ll have lots of thoughts later, and I got some good blog post fodder from convention panels, but my brain really isn’t up to anything more detailed today.


On to Proofreading

I’ve finished the edits and am now doing my proofreading by reading the whole book out loud to myself. I thought I’d edited thoroughly, but it’s astonishing how many little things I’ve caught in just the first couple of chapters. They’re not necessarily errors (though I have caught a few of those), just awkward phrasing or unnecessary words.

And I’m really liking this book more and more. Although reading out loud catches errors, it also means reading it through in a way I haven’t really done, and I’d like this book even as a reader. That’s a good sign.

But as much as I like it, I will be glad to stop working on it and do something else for a while.

I’ve been pretty diligent so far this year. I’ve almost spent as many hours writing as I did all of last year, and I’ve already passed the amount of time I spent writing in most of the previous years. Let’s hope this book goes somewhere because I spent most of this year’s time working on it, and it would be nice to have something to show for all that effort.


Revising Some More

I’m almost done with this draft, so I’ll just have proofreading to deal with, and then I’ll be done with this phase of this book.

I’ve tried something different in my revisions. I know I tend to get impatient, and so I rush through, probably not changing as much as I should. A big part of rewriting seems to be adding a line I think is needed, then finding that line already there a paragraph or so later. This time around, I fought the impatience by making lists of things that needed to be fixed, then skipping around in the book to fix them, without worrying about reading straight through.

For the next round, what I’m wrapping up now, I read the section and take notes on what could be improved, then take a break, then come back and actually revise the section. That means I already know that perfect line is there so I don’t keep adding it all over again. I’m looking at the section from a big-picture perspective, not just rearranging the words (though I’m also fixing the words).

I’ve made a lot more changes than I usually would at this phase of a book, which is good. Strangely, the word count has remained more or less the same. I’m cutting as much stuff as I’m adding. Some scenes need fleshing out while others need trimming.

Monday, I’ll send this book to my agent to see what she thinks. I feel good about it, so I hope she thinks it’s marketable. She may have some suggestions before it gets submitted, if it’s something she wants to submit.

But for now, I’m really looking forward to taking a little break next week.


Looking for Fall

I am so ready for fall, and the weather here isn’t cooperating at all. I love fall. It’s my favorite time of year. I love cool, gray days, when I can enjoy sitting with a cup of hot tea and reading (or writing) a book. I love the sunny days when there are crisp, cool mornings and just slightly warm afternoons that are good for spending outdoors. I love taking long walks in the woods, enjoying the colored leaves, and coming home with cheeks tinged red from the chill in the air to have a hot cup of tea. I love sitting on the patio with a shawl around my shoulders. I even love the fall thunderstorms. I love sweaters and blankets, hot soup and fresh-baked bread.

But we haven’t had a high temperature below 90 all September. We should at least be in the 80s by now. Instead of sweaters, I’m wearing tank tops. It’s a bit too warm to go walking even in the morning. I guess we’re being punished for our summer starting later and not being very intense until August.

I keep saying every year that I’m going to travel to a place that has real fall. If I ever have the money, I’m going to do a grand fall-chasing tour — start in August in Scandinavia or Alaska and work my way south, coming home around Thanksgiving, when we finally get fall-like weather. And then maybe I’ll go to Australia in the spring for their fall. Either I’ll get it out of my system or I’ll be even more dissatisfied once I know what I’m missing. Some people move to climates where it’s summer-like year-round. I want to find a place that has a good, long fall, starting maybe with a cool-down in late August and lasting until December (but preferably without a harsh winter). I’m not sure such a place exists. We get the beginnings of a slight cool-down in late September but don’t really get what I’d consider “fall-like” weather until late October. The fall-like weather might last until early December, but it’s on various days, not really a season.

On the bright side, for once I shouldn’t have a big deadline in October or November. There’s stuff I’ll be working on, but it won’t be so urgent that I can’t declare a day off whenever we get one of those perfect fall days.

In the meantime, I do have a big deadline Monday, and I’m behind where I hoped I’d be because rewriting the ending took me most of the day yesterday. I love what I’ve done with it, and it’s so much better, but it’s all taking more time than I planned.



I spent the weekend mostly with my head down in my book. I’m at the point where I’m making subtle changes that add up to make a big difference. I’m also cleaning up the words. I find that I tend to state the same thing several times in multiple ways, like I’m searching for the best way to say it so that it’s most clear. On this draft, I’m cutting the first few attempts and just leaving the last one that works.

There’s also a lot of stuff lingering from earlier ideas, where I changed plans but the stuff I put in to set up the original plan is still there. In spite of writing quite a bit of additional material, I’ve cut more than a thousand words so far on this draft.

Today’s project is to rewrite the ending. I’ve revised the first half, so I’ve hit most of the stuff that sets up the plot threads involved in the ending. Now I need to write that ending so that I can drive toward it in the rest of the book. I may even start from scratch rather than using what I’ve already written.

After I finish this round of rewrites, it’s on to proofreading, reading the whole book out loud.

And I have a week to do all this in, with a convention during the weekend. Fortunately, I’m not very heavily scheduled at this convention and it’s very close to my house, so I can run over when I have a panel, then run back home. I’ve been questioning the value of conventions to my publicity plan, anyway. This is mostly going to be a chance to catch up with some friends — that is, when I’m not working.

Becoming a Video Star

Last weekend, I fell into the rabbit hole of curly hair care YouTube videos. It started when I got a mildly disappointing haircut that was made more disappointing by the cost of it nearly doubling. It wasn’t really a bad haircut, but it was just a simple blunt trim, no real shaping or layering, at the cost of what should have been a designer precision cut. I was in and out in less than 45 minutes, and that includes some waiting at the front with a glass of water, some chatting, the shampoo and hand massage, the cut, a bit of blow drying, and paying. But since my last haircut, the salon upped its prices, the stylist got a promotion so her rates went even higher, and they dropped the option of just getting a cut without the blow dry and style, even though I don’t really want my hair dried, and all that added up to doubling what I paid for my last haircut.

I started pondering the idea of cutting my hair myself, since it’s long enough that I can reach the back, and since it’s so curly, it’s pretty forgiving. Out of curiosity, I Googled it, and it turns out that cutting your own hair is a big thing in the curly hair world, since it’s so hard to find someone who does it well, and the specialty curly cuts run about $125, which is way outside my budget. I’m not normally big on watching videos. I’d rather read text to get information, but this is the kind of thing you need to actually see, so I started watching the videos. And that brought up suggested videos on related topics, like curly hair care and styling tips. I’d read the Curly Girl book, so I knew a lot of this stuff, but seeing it put into practice made it a lot clearer. I was already doing a lot of the things they recommend. I’ve had my hair blown straight once (the stylist more or less forced me — I’d have had to make a scene to escape), I never flat iron my hair and only blow dry on cool to remove excess water if I have to go somewhere within a few hours of washing my hair. I mostly use the right products. There were still some tips that, when I tried them, made a big difference — so big that I realized I’m going to have to let my hair grow out a bit because my hair is curling up more, so with this new cut it’s just a bit too short, coming at an awkward length.

But there was one thing I noticed in watching these videos. One of the people was reviewing some new product (which I was already using), and she mentioned that the company had flown her to Hawaii for the product launch, where their stylists had demonstrated the products. I guess she’s what they call an “influencer,” but it’s not like her videos were at all slick or professional. She was just a girl talking to the camera in her bathroom, not even with a good microphone or lighting.

And then in today’s newspaper, there was a lengthy article about the woes of the “professional vapers” or “vaping influencers” now that there’s the worry about health risks and a possible ban. There are people who make a living vaping on camera, doing tricks with the smoke or reviewing various pipes and liquids. Their videos get hundreds of thousands of views.

I really need to start playing with video, I guess. My degree’s in broadcast news, so I have the skill set. I don’t even care about hundreds of thousands of viewers or making a living doing it. But it would be nice to get several thousand views in a way that would raise my profile and maybe sell a few more books.

And if someone wants to fly me to Hawaii, that would be okay, too.

I really will have to start playing with that after I finish this book.