Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tripawed Adventures: The First 24 Hours

Last night we picked Asuka up from the vet after the amputation of her left front leg. When the vet called us in, he held her in his arms. She was still dopey from the anesthesia. He set her on the table as he spoke, stroking her. I noticed she was disinclined to standing then, and huddled close to the countertop. She was wrapped all around with bandages and that stuff they wrap on your arms after giving blood. Hers is a bright, cheerful yellow. She didn't even seem to notice we were there until I got down and looked her in the face.

I noticed a small hint of recognition in her gaze. Her ears pricked slightly and she occasionally meowed through the conversation. The vet gave us some cans of food and a tube in case we needed to invite some food into her mouth if she wasn't eating. We also got four days worth of pain medication in little separate syringes. I can tell you right now she doesn't like the taste of the meds. :)

I ordered the ES Clear that evening. We'll get it in the next week or so, by the time she's off the drugs.

Asuka mewed all the way home, though only half as loud as she usually does when she's taking a car ride. (Boy, can she yell!) I held her in my arms rather than put her in her carrier. It was difficult to figure out the best way to hold her, since her missing leg made it easy to lay on that side, but it probably also hurt like hell.

When we got home, I was going to keep her downstairs on the futon, so I got a towel in case she had an accident. But she started moving around as soon as I laid her down, and I thought she might fall off the futon, so I moved her to the floor. I thought, having just come home and still being dopey from drugs, she'd probably sleep a while longer.

Leave it to Asuka to give me a heart attack right off the bat!

As soon as I moved away, she got up, hobbled to the bathroom, and took an immediate dump in the litter box there. technically, that's Daisy's litter box (she's our third kitty, just adopted her this year). Daisy doesn't get along with the others, particularly Asuka, so she has her food and litter in the bathroom while Asuka and Dusty have theirs upstairs in the loft.

Now let me explain a little about our cabin.

It is a little log cabin, about the square foot size of a small, two bedroom apartment. The bathroom doesn't really even have a door; it's one of those accordian, sliding things that doesn't latch. We also have a curtain hanging up for better privacy. When we want to isolate someone, the best we can do is put one of hubby's kettle bells in front of the part that hinges in the middle and hope the determined kitty doesn't still manage to shove through.

The "two bedrooms" are actually a loft. A set of special stairs had to be made in order to go up through the square hole in the floor which divides the loft into two halves. Really, though, it's a loft with a square hole in the floor. Because the ceiling is peaked in the middle, you have to bend over when you get to the top of the stairs to avoid hitting your head on the slanted ceiling. We had to get rid of the undercarriage of our bed because we couldn't get it all up there. We cut the legs off the headboard, and the mattress is on the floor.

Aaaaaand now about those stairs.

They're actually a series of alternating platforms made so the stairs could climb steeply without banging your knee on the edges. There's no back to the stairs, so the cats often sit on the stair backwards to see what's going on in the kitchen. Dusty, the fat one, goes down them one at a time: he turns sideways to face the next platform, hops down, turns the other way to face the next platform, hops down, etc. until he reaches the floor. Another way to describe the stairs is this: a big, slanted ladder that rests at the top of the hole in the floor of the loft.

Asuka usually races up and down those stairs. I figured I'd give her a few days of healing before letting her go up. i planned on keeping her in the bathroom while I was gone teaching the next day.

After Asuka used the litter, she took off like a shot and RAN up those stairs!

I thought I was going to pass out. For a few seconds, it was like nothing was wrong.

Once Asuka got up there, she found one of her many favorite hiding spots and stayed there. I brought her some of the canned food, which she ignored, but I expected that. I've been feeding her canned food lately because the last few weeks she seemed a little thinner than usual, probably because of the cancer. My husband and I left her up there because, obviously, that was where she wanted to be.

When we took a potty break from our movie, I discovered she had moved to bed. Her back legs were tucked under her like she crouched, but she kind of just let her face smash into the blanket. I checked to make sure she was okay, which she was. I imagine there's nothing that feels comfortable to her just now. Dusty lay nearby. Once he even came over and licked her head, a gesture Asuka usually does not appreciate too often. She seemed to like it now.

By the time we went to bed, she was behind the headboard in the little tunnel made by the slanting ceiling meeting the floor and the headboard itself. I petted her good night (I had to do the earthworm slither to reach her, then wriggle myself back out) and went to bed.

I thought she'd stay there all night, though she usually sleeps by my head or on my chest. Sure enough, about three hours later, she shoved herself through the space between the headboard and the wall and stretched out alongside my arm. I petted her and fell asleep to the sound of her purring.

This morning I offered her more food, even tried dabbing the tip of her nose with it, which she licked off, but she wasn't interested. I gave her one of the little syringes of meds. She does NOT like the taste of it. I imagine it's going to get harder to give it to her as we go.

Hubby said we should leave Asuka there as we were both leaving for a couple of hours. I agreed that we should let her be where she wanted to. After all, food and water and litter box were all up there for her to use, but I was worried she would try to come downstairs before she was ready to navigate them. So hubby rigged up the ironing board at the top. We figured with her wraps, she probably wouldn't try to slip through the rungs of the iron gate that surrounds the edges of the square hole, and the ironing board was short enough that we could step over it if needed.

I've been home for several hours now, and she's back in one of her cubbyholes. I've moved the ironing board because I want her to come downstairs whenever she's ready, as long as I can watch her do it until I'm positive she doesn't need help. She'll get another round of meds this evening. I'm going to try to offer more food in a bit. if she doesn't eat, I may try putting a little in her mouth with the feeding syringe the vet gave us just in case. And little water, too.

Anyway, that's how the first day has gone. I can't help but think that her leg is still there, somewhere under all those wraps, though I know it's not. In two weeks, we'll take her in to get the bandages removed and the staples out. I know then it will be made real even to my goofy brain.

As the healing progresses, I'll post more about her in this blog. But I'll also be starting up Write 1 Sub 1 Reloaded 2012 tomorrow as well. :)

Happy New Year to all, and blessings of health, wealth, and happiness to yours, mine, and ours! :)

Tripawed Adventures: Asuka's Life Before Amputation

So I'm starting a little segment in my blog today, called "Tripawed Adventures." This began as a blog for moving to Alaska, and then morphed into a blog about my budding writing career this year. Now I want to add another part to it, as this is something that might help others going through similar problems.

I've had animals all my life. Mainly cats and dogs, but also birds, rats, and hamsters. While I love all animals, I admit cats are pretty close to my heart. I managed to turn my husband into a cat person as well. :)

I've probably mentioned this story on this blog before, but I'll repeat it here for background in case you're just joining me. Asuka is a small cat, a beautiful mixture of tabby and torti with white tummy, dainty white paws, and white chest. He eyes are the most gorgeous blue green on some days, golden green on others. She's not much of a player, and she doesn't always get along well with other animals, but I know she loves Dusty, our second cat, thought she spends most of the time smacking him away.

Asuka and Dusty both adopted us. One day my mother-in-law came up and asked me if I knew the cat sitting on the back porch railing. I looked out the window and saw this cute little kitty sitting there, facing away from me and staring off into the distance. I opened the door, expecting her to bolt. Her head snapped around and her limbs locked as though she were going to, but then she looked me in the eye and mewed.

I picked her up and carried her into the house. She sat on my lap for an hour. When we took her to the vet to be fixed, she was so small, the vet said she was probably about four months old. Now, she's around eight or nine years.

Asuka was a stand-offish kitty (at least with me) for the first few years. She'd sit in everyone else's lap but mine. but she loved being petted. When we moved out of the in-laws house and got our own apartment, she got friendlier. By the time we moved to Alaska, she took every opportunity to sit in my lap, and even started sleeping on me at night.

She's had a couple of issues. I discovered a lump in her neck at one point, I think the same year she adopted us. But it never grew, never bothered her, so we didn't worry about it.

Asuka also went through a period where she peed on the bed. Once she even peed on my husband while he was in bed. We have to keep a space blanket or tarp on the bed every day, because Dusty decided he wanted to do the same thing she was doing. It's been a while since they've done it, but you never know.

We refer to Asuka as the bulimic kitty as well. She would throw up several times a week, usually after eating. We feed them Purina One Urinary Tract Health dry cat food because of Dusty's mucus plug problem. But even when we changed foods for a while, she still threw up on a regular basis.

But she wasn't skinny, or malnourished, or listless. She's always been a healthy little girl who occasionally ran around the loft with Dusty hot on her tail.

A couple of months ago, the lump in her neck suddenly blew up. It got so big, you could see it under her fur without feeling for it. It seemed to spread out over her shoulder. So we decided it was time for the vet.

We don't take our animals to the vet unless there is a problem. I know there is much debate about this. I come from a family where our animals had jobs (like guard dog, mouse catcher) and we enjoyed their company.

My husband and I are a little different now. We've got a decent income, and no kids. I look at my pets as my four legged children. So when this lump got huge, I took her in.

After consulting with the vet, we decided instead of doing a biopsy, we would have him remove the whole lump if possible and send it in for testing. The theory was that even if it was benign, it had grown pretty quickly and hadn't stopped, so it might cause further problems later.

Asuka responded well to the surgery and came home with a trail of staples along her neck and shoulder. One thing I want to point out is that through this whole process, she never once behaved differently or like something was wrong with her. Like the vet said, "Other than this lump, she's the picture of health."

The day after Christmas, we got the news: Chondrosarcoma, cancer of the cartilage and bone. The vet told me straight up that Asuka's best chance for survival was to remove the affected leg. Because he'd removed the tumor, he was able to see how it progressed and how it seemed limited to the leg and shoulder, not the chest. He thought her chances were good with amputation, as long as we acted quickly. I went ahead and scheduled a new appointment in two days to do so.

I didn't want to just go with the Doc's opinion, of course. Having spent so many years in college, I needed to research it all myself. I read everything I could find on the subject of cats and cancer on the internet, particularly chondrosarcoma. The idea of removing Asuka's leg when she otherwise seemed so healthy felt outrageous to my mind. But as I read through the articles and research journals, I saw that this type of cancer often went without any other symptoms except some lameness (which she didn't have) and lumps (which she did.) When I asked the vet how long he thought she'd have if we didn't do anything, he sighed and said, "A few months."

The more I read, the more I understood the situation. Yes, it seemed drastic now, but if we waited until she started showing things more outwardly, it would probably be too late to stop the cancer from spreading. And while it wasn't a 100 percent guarantee that the cancer wouldn't come back, at least her chances of living a long and healthy life would be better.

I also read about a product called ES Clear, a supportive supplement for cats with cancer, recommended to me by a good friend who swears by a dog supplement of the company's. I showed it to the vet, who had not heard of it, warned me about how some products come out, get a bunch of money, and then disappear because they weren't really any good. But he also said that some are worth their salt, like one called Rescue Remedy (I think). He looked at the ingredients and said he's prescribed some types of herbs to animals for certain problems, so while he couldn't really say anything about this one, it could be worth a try.

I'll write more on ES Clear when we get it and start using it.

Anyway, that's the general background of our history with Asuka, leading up to her diagnosis of Chondrosarcoma and our foray into the world of the Tripawed. I'll continue in the next post about her first 24 hours after surgery.

End of the Year Summation

Holy cow and Mother Ewe. I was just going through my spreadsheet for 2011 Write 1 Sub 1. Here's the breakdown:
33 stories and 1 novel written
12 acceptances
11 publications and 1 cancelation
2 second place contest winners
2 Honorable Mentions in contests
Approximately 35% acceptance rate for the year.

I'm agog. And addicted. I can't wait to start the New Year, Write 1 Sub 1 Reloaded 2012!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bonded By Blood IV: Scarlet Sunset Now Available!

This past year I've had five stories published online by SNM Horror Magazine. The first two won second place. "Bonded By Blood IV: Scarlet Sunset" is the print anthology for SNM's 2011 work, and contains my first of their published stories, "Cursed By Duty." If you have someone you love that loves dark horror, this might be an excellent Christmas present! If you order before December 15th, it should arrive in time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Third Winning of Nanowrimo!

Since 2005, I have won Nanowrimo three times. What makes this one really special is that I won a day early in a month where I had less time to write than the other two years that I won.

I think I can definitely say that doing Write 1 Sub 1 has helped me in this endeavor.

And so, as is the right of an official winner of Nanowrimo, I will now display my winning swag here on my blog. I may even get myself a winner t-shirt this year, too!

Congratulations to all the Nanowrimo winners, and to all the people who had the guts to give it a try. I wish you many more happy years spent lost in writing madness. One of my favorite places in the world. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Am a Writer!

I know a lot of people who do this whole crazy writing thing often think of themselves in terms of their day job when describing themselves. Myself, for example: I am a fitness instructor. That's my day job, the job that brings in the regular money.

"Writer" was always kind of secondary to my day job. Something I dabbled in on occasion, discussed with other writerly friends, and so on. I enjoyed it, but it was something just for fun.

Write 1 Sub 1 changed that. And subsequently, it has changed how I approached Nanowrimo this year.

I've been doing Nanowrimo since 2005. Each time (well, most times) I had a great story idea that I was excited to write, with every intention of finishing the story at some point in time, regardless of whether I won Nanowrimo or not.

Each one of those is sitting on a file on my computer, still unfinished.

With my participation in Write 1 Sub 1, I tackled a form that I'd never done beyond school assignments: the short story. And in following the format of the program, I've submitted most of my stories and had a total of twelve acceptances this year. (One story has been released back to me as the anthology was canceled, but it still was an acceptance.) So far, five of my stories are out in print form, one is an ebook, and the other five are part of a monthly online magazine. One of those will be in print form soon as well.

I received one of my contributor copies of an anthology in the mail last week. It was my second sold story of the year, with no payment other than the print copy. The biggest payment I received for a story of mine was $50. (But really, who's keeping track, right?)

But it wasn't until today that I suddenly realized how writing is taking precedence in my life.

I got a great idea for a story just before November. Didn't get much of a chance to work it out beforehand like I do with each of my short stories. I like to have a general guide for my story as I write, so I avoid rambling. So I started out with just a vague outline of the story from beginning to end.

My writing seems even more horrible than usual this Nano. I'm so intent on just filling the page with words, and this no longer seems functional to me. My characters seem flat, and most of the deliciously horrific elements I planned are simply not coming out as I pile on the words. I'm pretty sure that if I do decide to go on with this story after Nano, I will be chucking this one and starting all over again anyway.

But here's where the big realization hit me today: I've had a serious migraine developing since last night. I get those awful ones with huge pain, light sensitivity, and motion sickness. I can't move, I can't read, I can't watch TV, nothing. It all hurts too much. Luckily I don't get these any more than once every couple of months or so. Today I was trying everything to get rid of it, my headache balm, tea, aspirin, sleep, turning all the lights off and closing the curtains. Nothing touched it. (Usually sleep works, but not this time.)

I'm still catching up in Nanowrimo's daily word count. Supposed to be at 46,666 words today and I'm not there yet. I didn't want to lose another day and have even more to make up the last two days.

So I turned on my computer and started writing. I turned the brightness of my computer screen all the way down (to the last level before it turns the screen off), and then I plunged right in.

Last year I would not have done this. Last year, I probably would have just slept all day, hoping it would go away, and possibly not finish the Nanowrimo goal of 50k by the end of the month.

I actually had no intention of actually finishing this year. I figured there were too many days I wasn't going to be able to write to finish in time.

And yet I'm right on target now to finish in time. I think I'll be finishing a day early even, since we have a meeting tomorrow.

I credit my experience with Write 1 Sub 1 with this ability to finish in less available time than I've had in previous years. I think it's because I've made the habit of sitting down most days and writing whole stories in one or two sittings. Then polishing them up and sending them out has gotten me over stressing over every single word, and rewriting a hundred times.

Though many would say publication is the line between being a writer and just writing for fun, I think the fact that I was willing and wanting to write despite one of my nasty migraines says it even more.

I am a writer!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy 11-11-11!

As I write this, I'm sitting at the Mat Su College with a bunch of other crazies doing 11 k on 11-11-11! They're meeting for twelve hours, from 11 am to 11 pm. Wow. I hope someone is able to cross the 11 k line today. I already know I won't be able to, but at the very least I want to catch up to the daily word count today. I've got another thousand to go. So far I've written 2,418.

As I go through Nanowrimo this month, I've noticed that I'm looking at it very differently after almost a year of doing Write 1 Sub 1. I now see the benefits and downfalls of doing Nanowrimo when it comes to my own personal writing. I get into a habit of writing a lot as often as I can. I have things like Nanowrimo Word Sprints on Twitter, and writing meetings that actually have writing happening at them. (The meetings have a tendency to be more social rather than writing, heeheehee.)

But I will say the quality of my writing drops quite a bit. Since it's more about quantity instead of quality, I write things that I normally wouldn't write. I push things along so fast to keep up with the word count, I have a tendency to lose control of where things are going, and that's not necessarily a good thing. Sure, I might stumble upon something good, but I don't really write well that way.

I think I've grown quite a bit while doing short stories for Write 1 Sub 1, and working under deadlines that are a lot shorter than a month. My style has changed. I no longer have the issue of actually sitting down and writing. Nanowrimo served it's purpose for me by getting me to actually write. I don't really have that problem anymore, so now I do it to explore ideas, to hang with my friends, and eat lots of candy. :)

Honestly, I don't see myself using anything I'm writing in this Nanowrimo novel. It needs such a complete overhaul. But I love what I'm learning as I go.

Happy Veterans Day. I appreciate our service men and women and the sacrifices they make in the name of our freedom. Blessings to you all.

Monday, October 31, 2011

SNM Horror Mag's November Nosferatu issue!

My little vampire tale, "Biter Boy," is now live on SNM Horror Magazine's website for their November issue: Vampires! Link is posted on the sidebar with the other past issues. They had some problems the last couple of weeks with censorship, so this issue was a bit on the rushed side. But it's good to see them back up and running! I hope you enjoy my story, and the other horrific tales as well.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First snow of 2011!

Wasn't expecting snow this morning when I woke up. The last weather report I saw said it was going to be mostly clear and cold this week. I should stop looking at Alaska weather reports. Alaska is too big for them to be right.

It wasn't very much, just a dusting. Enough to cover the ground and the cars with the grass still peeking through. I'm going to have to learn to drive the Jeep in the snow. I hope it won't be a harsh lesson.

I've stacked all the movies I consider to be my Halloween favorites on the table. Today I'm watching "Bram Stoker's Dracula." I remember how this movie was the epitome of cool and pushing the envelope, but now it seems so simple. And much as I love Keanu Reeves, his acting in this movie was absolutely wretched. Like a block of wood. But I adore the costumes and the old school effects.

To add to my Halloween happiness, my little vampire tale has been accepted by SNM Horror Mag for their November issue. This brings my total of acceptances this year to twelve. My writing has slowed down considerably these last two months. I've mostly been doing the Light Ray version, one story and one submission a month, but I continue to march onward. I've decided to write a novel for Nanowrimo (a horror novel, surprise, surprise), which means I might not get any short stories written for the next month. Ah, well. As long as writing continues, the rest will happen as it may.

I've been extremely tired of late, probably due to the extra classes I've been teaching, and all the practices of new routines. I need to do a video of my kickboxing class soon, which is slightly freaky, though I've done these video things three times before. The numbers in that class stayed above fifteen until this week, when they suddenly dropped to around five or six. I heard it was parent-teacher conference week, so that may have something to do with it.

Today seems like a good day to curl up by the heater and watch movies. I better get to it. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"America the Horrific" available now!

My story "Iliamna" has been published in Bards and Sages' "America the Horrific" anthology. The story is set in Alaska, and is based on a legend of the Iliamna Lake Monster. I have posted the links to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and the Bards and Sages website in the sidebar.

These are horror tales based on legends all over the United States. I am so pleased to be a part of this collection. I hope you enjoy it!

Romance Writing and Light Ray

As you may already know, Breathless Press published my short story, "Bordello Secrets" a few months ago, and I have been posting the links to various reviews of it. Just added another one from "I <3 Bookie Nookie" on Goodreads. (The same review has appeared on a couple of other romance review websites as well.) I am very grateful to the reviewer for the posting.

One common theme I've seen when it comes to opinions of this story is that it readers would have liked to read more of it. This delights me because it makes me feel like I might actually be doing something good and worthwhile here. It's so easy to forget that when you're sitting at your writing desk and tearing your hair out because you think you've just written great amounts of slop.

Which puts me in the frame of mind to attempt a historical romance for Nanowrimo this year.

As usual, my trouble is coming up with a story idea that I'm excited to write about.

I'm struggling to keep up with Write 1 Sub 1. I've noticed since August that I've mostly been doing the Light Ray version, one story and submission per month, though sometimes more if I can manage. I'm not entirely sure what's gone wrong with me lately, except that I am physically exhausted, and my time keeps getting sucked away somehow. I need to pinpoint exactly where the time is going so I can turn the vacuum off. (I have the feeling Diner Dash will be the first to go ... )

I know Nanowrimo is going to be a tough go this year. I will really only be writing two weeks out of the four. But for me, this year is mostly going to be about hanging with my writerly friends as the snow flies outside, drinking hot chocolate and battling each other in word wars. And I hope I will have something decent to work with after the month is over.

While falling behind on the weekly Write 1 Sub 1 is a tad disappointing, the process has shown me many things about myself and my abilities. So even if I must admit to changing to Light Ray version these last few months (having not admitted it to myself previously), every moment of the year participating in the program has been priceless. It was the exact kick I needed to start the process from "wannabe" to "real" writer.

Time to search for a Nanowrimo idea. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Reviews and a Very Windy Day

Two more links to reviews of my erotic romance tale, "Bordello Secrets," are now posted in the link list to the right. I would like to thank Heather's Musings and TwoLips Reviews for taking the time to read and review my story. I greatly appreciate it.

In other news, the great winds of the Mat-Su Valley are back. I kept waking up during the night when major gusts made the house creak and groan. At least the dogs are getting used to the sound and didn't bark. But the wind blew one of the dog kennels off the porch and halfway across the front lawn. This is the kind of wind that sucks your breath away and suffocates you on occasion. Looking on the bright side, at least it isn't icy cold.


The snow is creeping down the mountains, getting a little closer to us every day. The temps get no higher than the forties at my house, and dips to the mid-thirties at night. Not quite cold enough to snow, but getting there.

I'm sitting here at my computer trying to get back into the rhythm of writing. I'm wondering how I'm going to get through Nanowrimo this year when I can't seem to keep a consistent schedule. I have two new classes added to my list (that's seven hours, plus a karate class, in one week.) And I'm practicing new routines for this month as well. Group Power's new release is this Saturday, and even though I don't teach a class regularly, I'm subbing for someone that day. So I'm frantically making sure I learn these routines before I embarrass myself in public.

In other words, I'm physically drained most of the time. Makes it hard to concentrate for long.

I'm attempting to formulate a story with a vampire theme. The problem I'm having is that it seems a very tired, overdone genre. My research keeps turning up the same old information, not lending itself to any new ideas. Everything I come up with has already been played out. The good side of this is that I'm clearly not the only one running into this issue. Hollywood seems obsessed with remaking 80s movies. The most original movie we've watched and actually enjoyed this year is "The Warrior's Way." I cringe when I think about "Footloose." I just hope they didn't ruin it.

Anyway, I'm also debating on what to tackle for Nanowrimo. I have a couple of ideas. One is a brand new idea my husband gave me, but I'm not sure I want to tackle a new idea in full length novel form when I'm also still pounding along with Write 1 Sub 1. Another idea: Pick a theme and write a series of short stories for it (how the heck do I pick a theme?!)

Also, I'm considering rewriting the first novel I ever wrote, and the only one I've completed and revised: "Sparkless." Why? Because the story is ten years old, and because I'm interested to see how differently it would turn out written in first person as opposed to third person omniscient. A lot of people seem to have a problem with third person when it's omniscient, I've noticed. I'm not entirely sure why, but it seems to have something to do with shifting points of view. I've known many writers who pull this off without a problem, but perhaps it's just not working for this particular story.

I became aware of this during last year's Nanowrimo. I wrote "Zombies Don't Eat Blondes" in third person, and it clearly was not working. It screamed to be written in first person. (I'm considering rewriting this one for Nanowrimo as well.)

I know for sure I don't type fast enough, nor have enough time to spend trying to accomplish Nanowrimo and Write 1 Sub 1 separately, so I think the only way I'll be able to pull it off is the short story collection route. I've never attempted anything like that before. (Well, this is my first year writing short stories, so I guess that makes sense, eh?)

Ah, well. Enough debate for now. Back to my vampire story.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My First Review!

Just noticed on Twitter that a review of my adult romance tale, "Bordello Secrets," has been posted at BookingIt. Here's the link:

I am very grateful for the review and the lovely things said about my story. I never imagined what my first review would be like (aside from the usual writers' nightmares, of course). All I can think to say is, "Thank you."

And now I'll sign off before I further embarrass myself. (My smile is starting to hurt my ears.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Releases, California Sunburns, and Jumping Back In

Let's begin with the latest releases of my work!At long last, Wicked East Press has released Twisted Fairy Tales V II! This was my third accepted story (I think.) It's been a while in the making, but I think the anthology will be well worth the wait. Also, my latest attempt at horror has been published at SNM Horror Mag for their September Silhouettes issue! It didn't place, but I was informed that I have tied with another gentleman for the most published authors on their website this year. Big happy grin from this girl.

The new links are posted in the sidebar. Keep an eye out for updates.

I just returned from a visit to my family and friends in California. It was exactly what I needed. A lot of hot sunshine, bad food (well, good food that's bad for you), and fun times with those I love. Five days wasn't long enough.

But it sure was long enough to make exercising torture again upon my return. It's going to take me a few days to get back to where I was. And my sitting bones are going to make me work for that. >.<

The hardest part about coming back from vacation is trying to catch up with all you missed at home, and getting back into the rhythm of routine. I have new routines to practice and a lot of emails to read.

I hope I can get back to writing soon. I miss it.

Monday, August 22, 2011


No, I'm not writing vampire stories. When I say drained, I mean I'm seriously drained of all energy after a weekend of intense training for certification in yet another group fitness class. This one is kickboxing, and it was definitely the most intense out of the four I've done. But I've been begging for this training for at least two years (martial arts freak that I am), so I'm glad it's finally happening.

I can barely keep my eyelids propped open, but I wanted to mention that I got another story accepted! (And as I write this, I wonder if I've written this announcement already and am too brain fried to recall.) This one was a lesson in "Never Give Up Hope" and "It Ain't Over 'til the Fat Lady Swan Dives Into a Wine Glass."

Or something like that.

I wasn't sure if they had received my submission, so I waited the amount of time they have listed on their website, even though this was for an anthology and not their regular publication. Turns out they had not received it, and though it was past the deadline, they would accept a resubmission.

A few weeks went by and I heard nothing, so I gave it up for rejection. I figured they probably had all the stories they wanted for their anthology already and mine wasn't spectacular enough to warrant fudging in.

Boy, was I wrong! They emailed me a contract. I think i sat in shock with my hands over my gaping mouth for several minutes. Or hours.

This business of writing and submitting stories constantly surprises me. I love that. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The "Bordello Secrets" are out!

My erotic romance tale, "Bordello Secrets" is up on the Breathless Press website! It's scheduled for official release on August 12, 2011, but you can pre-order if you're hot to get it now. The link is in the sidebar with links to my other publications. It is in ebook form only at this point. I'm not sure if Breathless Press does print form at all.

In other news, my husband and I rented a yurt to stay overnight at the Eagle River Nature Center in the Chugach State Park. It was a hike of about a mile and a half. The Rapids Camp Yurt sat overlooking the river, and had a shed for wood, an outhouse, a campfire ring, a deck, and a bear-proof storage locker for your food. The inside had a table and camp chairs, a wood stove, and a set of bunk beds. You can fit two to a bed, but I'll tell you right now it was an awfully snug fit. No room to stretch out. And the bunks are miserably hard!

We had a lot of fun hiking there and playing cards after eating our sandwiches and cookies. Bruno wore his pack full of the dog's water, travel bowls, food and cookies, so he actually behaved like a dog who was leash trained. I guess the extra weight made it hard for him to act up like he usually does! Uffda we let walk on her own since her hips aren't so fantastic, so it's better to let her go at her own pace. After a bit we knew we wouldn't be passing anyone else (it was getting late), and she always stays with us. It's cute how she'll stop and wait for me if I'm lagging behind.

The downside was the wind and rain. They were both rip-roaring that night. The yurt shook and rattled, and the dogs would bark every once in a while, waking us up. We didn't really get any sleep at all. And we had planned on taking the long way back around a loop we haven't hiked before. (It often gets closed because of bears fishing in the river.) But it was raining so hard and we were so tired in the morning, we took off and went straight for the Jeep.

It was a fun trip, even without the sleeping. I would definitely recommend it for families who like camping. It was $65 dollars for the night, and it included firewood. If you're staying one night, you can get in after 2 pm and check out is noon. Here is the website, if you'd like to check it out:

Friday, July 29, 2011

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" now available!

Pill Hill Press has released the anthology of horror clichés, "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night." My short story, "Zombies Don't Eat Blondes: Blondes on the Prowl" is in this one, so if you like to laugh, this is the one to get!

Kindle and Nook versions coming soon! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 25, 2011

August insanity awaits ...

Next month is going to be crazy. I only hope I can keep up with writing at least somewhat.

What with our tenth anniversary, the last month of summer in Alaska, Group Kick training weekend, and a dozen other things, I wonder if there will be anything left of me by September. At least it's all wonderful stuff. :)

On the writing front, I'm still waiting to hear back about (pauses to count) ... one ... two ... three ... four ... five different stories.

Two are contest entries, and I'll hear about one on August 31st, and one on September 15th.

One is a writing prompt contest that got extended for an indefinite period of time. I'm debating on whether I need to send an inquiry about that one since I sent mine in a month ago and there's no telling when the contest will end.

One story I'm expecting to hear back from any day.

The last one I have no idea when I might hear back about. I sent an inquiry to the status of that one and was informed the piece had not been received. They allowed me to resend it and said they would get back to me soon.

Writers do not twiddle their thumbs while waiting. Their fingers dance over the keyboard, creating wonderful new stories -

Or they get caught up in the latest video game to cross their path. Heeheehee.

As for my Write 1 Sub 1 goals, I am depressingly behind in the number of stories I should have finished and subbed, at least a month's worth. But I still consider this experiment extremely successful as I've done more this year than I ever imagined I possibly could.

Yes, I am suddenly adverb happy. I spend so much time writing adverbs out, I figured I deserve a moment to relax my guard.

I just finished a new story today. Will polish it up tomorrow and send it off.

I'm going to go now before I start to sound like a broken record.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm tired ... tired of playing the game ...

Mainly tired of exercise right now, hardy har har.

I'm teaching a lot of extra classes as a substitute for others, and practicing new routines. I'm finding it hard to concentrate when I sit down at home. I immediately start spacing out.

I've been dragging myself off the couch today just to try to accomplish things, like laundry. And putting together the push reel lawn mower. And trying it out on our monstrous lawn. (Tired out real quick, I'll tell you what.)

Searching for the motivation to write. I've got story ideas, so that's not my problem this time. I think the fact that it's summer in Alaska and I'm wiped out is making it real hard to focus.

In fact, I think my ability to focus has just run out again. Time for dinner.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SNM Horror Mag loves me!

SNM Horror Mag is picking up my tale "Sister Witches" for their July Jealousies issue! This is my third story published with them, and my ninth accepted piece overall.

I finished up a story for a contest prompt that needs to be revised and sent out today.

I also need to wash dishes, practice exercise routines, and clean the house.

Guess I know what I'm going to do first! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Girl Could Get Used to This ...

Got two emails in my box today, one a rejection and one an acceptance!

And I love them both equally. I'm wacky like that.

Library of the Living Dead Press is picking up my evil little tale, "All in the (Devil's) Family" for their "Hellology" anthology. It's one of my more adult tales (as in some sex and violence.) I'm sure it would shock my mother if she read it.

I also got to see the cover art for my romance tale that was picked up by Breathless Press a few months ago. There is no cure for this drooling problem I have developed the last few months, and I don't want a cure. The editing process of this tale has been pretty intense (in comparison to my other stories), but it has been worth every step. I may faint when I finally see it available on their website.

I'm enjoying this so much that I've been in a bit of a writing frenzy lately. Searching for other publishing sites to resubmit previous work, writing new stories with a queue of other story ideas waiting to be written, even pondering starting a website someday.

One thing bothers me; I wish I typed faster. I haven't worked on any of my novels this year because all my writing time is spent crafting new short stories. It feels like it takes me forever to write a thousand words. I have one finished novel and I would like to finish the other three that have been sitting around for a few years.

So the Pill Hill Press anthology "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" should be coming out either end of June or sometime in July. The Breathless Press story should be available in ebook form in August. Will be posting links as soon as I can.

Onward and upward!

Monday, June 6, 2011

"The Fine Art of Subtlety"

Or "If It's Subtle, It Will Most Likely Go Over My Head."

I was reading the winning story for a contest. The story was printed in the website's newsletter followed by a printing of it with the editor's comments.

In many ways it was a great story, and I can see why it won the prize. But there was one thing that bothered me.

The editor raved about how wonderfully subtle the author was through the whole thing, so that you knew something was up with the MC, but you didn't know what it was until the end.

I enjoyed the story, but apparently I missed the punch line. I never figured out what was "wrong" with the MC. At least, not until the editor mentioned it at the end of her review. And then I had the lifted eyebrow accompanied with a confused "Huh?" sound. I read it again, trying to see where that "Ah-ha!" moment should have happened.

I simply didn't see it.

I guess this is a thorn in my side when it comes to writing because I am not a person who likes complications in stories. I don't mind being kept in suspense for a while, I don't mind not knowing who-dun-it until the end. But I do mind when the story is so convoluted with twists and subplots that I have a difficult time staying with the story until the end.

Why does it seem so bad nowadays to write a simple story that entertains you from beginning to end? I sometimes feel like I won't have the mental capacity to make it in this writing thing.

Another thing slightly related to this (well, perhaps not): It seems reviewers and readers complain when something isn't realistic enough. You have to practically be a doctor to write a story that involves hospitals. Or you have to have a degree in the sciences to write a space odyssey. Whatever happened to writing a story that may be impossible, but is entertaining nonetheless?

I read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series a few years ago and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. But if you think about it, most of the details sound like the author made it up on the fly without any sort of research into anything at all.

There are so many rules to writing, it can get frustrating trying to please everyone just to sell your work. You start to feel like you're trying to break into a very elite club with beefy bodyguards that rip your work to shreds and leave you sobbing on the sidewalk.

So coming back to the subtlety issue, how subtle is too subtle? I'll admit it: I'm probably more easily entertained then most people. I read reviews tearing into popular novels and deploring the horrible writing style of the author, and meanwhile I'm sitting there thinking, "I kind of liked it. Was it really that bad?"

Here's a great contradiction. I'm told in books on writing that novels need to be more detailed, more realistic because the public is so much better informed than it was decades ago. You have to research and research and research to make sure you don't make a fool of yourself. And yet when I get an accepted piece edited, they want to dumb down the language so readers will be able to understand it easier?

Not to sound like I'm touting myself, but I like to think I'm decently smart. My husband complains that his head hurts when I use big words. I read voraciously. I loved Nathaniel Hawthorne and Harper Lee in high school. But I don't want my life further complicated by what I read. I like simple, entertaining stories that take me away from the mundane world for a while. I like writing those kinds of stories, too.

I guess I'm just praying that there are still others out there like me, and that this writing journey of mine is not a lost cause.

Now I'm going to hug my cats and go back to reading "The Twentieth Wife."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Second Place Again! Happy Dance!

One advantage to being in Alaska is if something is going to be posted at midnight Eastern time, I get to see it at 8 pm. Of course the flip side is that a deadline in Eastern time is four hours earlier for me.

Just saw the June Jinxes edition of SNM Horror Magazine is up and I got second place for the second month in a row! Woohoo! Link is posted in the side bar. Please enjoy the stories you read on there, and also please stop in and sign the guestbook so that the Overlord will be happy! My story will be in the anthology.

So now I'm wondering if third time really is the charm. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

No Accounting for Taste

I have discovered that if I hate my story, it's more likely to sell. >.<

I wrote a story to a theme submission that needed a word count less than five thousand. Where I was planning on going with it would have ended up three or four thousand words past the limit, so I stopped the story at what I thought was an odd place. Problem was, I discovered the deadline was in Eastern Standard Time and I'm in Alaska. I was pushing to get it in on time, so I rooted through the story real quick, cut some stuff to get it down to the five, and just skimmed it hoping to catch as many errors as possible. Then I sent it on its way.

I thought there was no chance of it getting accepted, that it was going to need some major overhaul. I thought the typos would be enough to turn any publisher off. (No matter how careful I proof, there are always some that get by. This particular story only received a cursory glance!)

I didn't receive the customary "we got your submission email," which they state should be received within forty-eight hours. So today, six days later, I sent an email asking for confirmation. I've gotten automatic response emails before where they hadn't received my submission, though. I thought it wouldn't hurt to double check.

I went karaoke-ing with friends this evening and didn't check my email again until late (it's midnight as I write this.) I got an email from the publisher that they accepted my story, despite all my misgivings and negative thoughts about it!

However, in this case I think I just got lucky. Perhaps this publisher isn't as picky as others, thinking that the story is important and all else can be fixed later. I would never suggest anyone send in anything the way that I did. Stories that have had time to settle a bit, that have had some polishing and reworking would do better in the long run, I'm sure.

I usually do one editing session for my short stories. This is to counteract my obsession with getting things absolutely right, which of course changes every time I read the story. Consequently, I would never submit anything ever. So I set this extreme limit for myself for a reason. If a story can't seem to find a home, then I will consider another rewrite.

Perhaps the universe felt I needed this little kick in the pants to continue the journey. I've been extremely lax and haven't kept up with the schedule for Write 1 Sub 1 very well. My spreadsheet shows me as still being in April as far as number of stories written and submitted this year. While it's not as important to me to get something written and submitted every week to the minute, I do want to have fifty-two stories and submissions by the end of the year. Why do I feel this way? Who knows? But that's my goal. I'm probably even going to skip Nanowrimo this year to reach it. (Or maybe I'll do a series of stories as though for my own personal anthology.) I'm sure I'll go through Nano withdrawals if I do, though.

Another thing that came out of this little experience. I ended the story a lot sooner than I'd planned. I didn't know how it was going to end. Would the MC get killed b the curse, or would the witch's spell to guard her work after all? But word count constraints made me end it a couple of scenes before then end. It was the scene that makes the MC seek out the witch to get the protection spell. She accepts that she's cursed.

I thought it was very odd ending it there. Not knowing what happens to her after that, whether the curse kills her or not. But then I realized after pondering it that it changed the meaning of what became the last sentence. Indeed, she was cursed, but not the one she thought. By changing the ending, I changed the tone of the story.

Seems to me that if a story's ending is not working for you, try ending it somewhere you don't expect. Then go back and read it later. Maybe it will suddenly make sense and seem like the right place to end after all.

This journey into the mad, mad writing world has amazed me every day. If you've ever thought about writing, join Nanowrimo or Write 1 Sub 1 or some other similar group. Lots of support from other crazy people doing the exact same thing. Love your rejections as well as your acceptances. I hope you find the journey amazing too.

Now I'm going to publish this post without really proofreading it. Because it's late, because I'm sleepy, and because I can. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

How the West Was Wicked!

"How the West Was Wicked," an anthology from Pill Hill Press with my second published short story, is now available for Nook, Kindle, and in print form on the Pill Hill Press website! I have the links posted in the sidebar to the right.

Happy dancing around my living room!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Update + Star Wars Day!

Just got an offer of a contract for my little historical romance tale from Breathless Press! I'm extremely excited because this one is royalty based, and it's definitely a change from all the horror tales I've been writing lately.

My dry period is still going, but I have the feeling this will change soon. The hardest part for me is trying to find story ideas. And some dry periods are a lot longer than others. And some are video game induced.

I'm going to take a writerly buddy's advice and just take one of the ideas I don't like so much and write it anyway. Something good may come of it. And it's better to write something bad than not write at all.

This marks the first of my stories to come with requests for additional scenes. So that will also get my little digits typing again.

My second anthology from Pill Hill Press, "How the West Was Wicked," will be hitting Amazon and Barnes and Noble soon, too. Bound editions will follow shortly after. I'll post the links in the sidebar as soon as I have them.

I have not ordered copies of my first anthology yet because I thought I'd wait until this next one came out. Help save on shipping to Alaska.

My brain is working in short sound bytes today. Guess I better pack it in for now.

Happy Star Wars Day to all you stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking nerf herders! May the Fourth be with you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Very Happy May Day!

It's May 1st (in case you didn't already know) and the May issue at SNM Horror Magazine is out. My story was one selected for online publication.

And I got second place and a spot in their anthology! Woohoo!

You can read the story here: Just a reminder that it's not a website for kids.

In other news, I auditioned for "The X Factor" at the booth set up in Anchorage. For those of you who haven't heard about it, that's Simon Cowell's (American Idol) new show. I had two minutes to introduce myself and sing a song. The recording was then sent to the judges. They'll let me know by email if I make the callbacks. It's hard to sit still when I think about it. Thank goodness I have writing to occupy me. I sang "What Did I Have" from On a Clear Day because it's short and shows a bit of range and movement.

The scariest part about it was the fact that you get only one chance. You don't get to redo the video if you don't like it. You don't even get to see the finished product, which is probably just as well. I'd be analyzing myself over and over if I had access to it. Another scary part is that you sign a paper that says they can use it to make fun of you, too. So you really need the ability to laugh at yourself or you might get seriously crushed by the results.

I watched part of an episode of "The Voice" as well. I like that show better than any of the other talent search shows they've had the last few years. I went to their website where they have an audition tool. You pick a song from their very short list and have 30 seconds to record it. You can redo it as often as you want, and when you submit it you get a score. Anything over an eight has a chance of being viewed by the people looking for talent, but that's not a guarantee. They're closed for the current show of course, but the video can be included in future considerations.

I've been trying to record a song, but for some reason it's not working. It acts like it's recording, but I can't see the video (sometimes it only shows me a second or two), and when I submit it, the score is zero, which basically says there is no video. Very frustrating. They don't seem to have a help section and their FAQ section is very short and lacking. Ah, well.

Lots of fun stuff going on! Can't to see where this wacky journey takes me next. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I'm having a "Glee" moment ...

Wasn't there a scene in the first season where Rachel in the musical TV show "Glee" was complaining how her success was coming too fast, and what happened to all the suffering you're supposed to go through before you make it?

All right, I know I haven't technically made it as far as the writing world is concerned. But this whole process is making me giddy as a girl at her first dance with her major crush. Another story of mine has been accepted, one of my horror tales. And I just got word that my romance tale got through the first round of selections and they had some nice things to say about it! I guess I'm just a little surprised that I've gotten this many acceptances this soon. I hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying that. >Knocking on wood<

I made the mistake this last week of starting up "Fable III," a relatively new video game. I played the one before it and really enjoyed it, so of course I got hooked on this one right away. And that meant I wasn't spending any time writing. I would spend hours each day with my jaw hanging open and drooling like a zombie as i stared at the screen.

I prefer drooling over copies of anthologies with my stories in them, I have learned.

It's amazing how I felt during that time. It was like going through withdrawals from one drug while getting hooked on another. The good news is that I finished the game rather quickly and got it out of my system. Now I can go back to writing.

My fingers are getting itchy. Writing is the drug that relieves the itch. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Got Paid!

Happy dance!

This whole writing thing wasn't quite touching down with me. I'd gotten four acceptances, but I hadn't seen much to make it real for me.

Now I've seen my first anthology on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Pill Hill Press's website. And even more evidence I'm a real writer: I got my first check in the mail! Not much, but it's just hard to wrap my brain around the idea that someone liked my writing enough to pay me for it!

Is it strange that I feel this great need to frame it instead of cashing it? I wonder if the bank will let me keep it after they process it.

I've discovered something interesting about myself lately. For someone who doesn't like horror movies (I will only see certain ones, and they can't have zombies in them), I've been writing a lot of horror tales. I just finished another one, set in the late 17th century. Maybe it's because I'm easily scared, so I write what scares me. Doesn't take much to freak me out.

You know, this blog started out as a chronicle of our adventures living in Alaska. Over time, it seems to have morphed into a writing blog. I thought about starting a separate blog for writing, but it is so much a part of my life now, I don't feel the need to complicate my life by trying to write two blogs!

I had a late night, and an early wake up call thanks to a cat fight and the smell of cat crap in the shower. Perhaps I should end now before I start babbling.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Leather, Denim & Silver" on Kindle and in Print Form!

My first published story in "Leather, Denim, & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter" is now available for Kindle on, and in print form at Pill Hill Press. The links are in the sidebar of this blog.

My writing buddies have been more valuable to me than gold and diamonds. Without their presence in my life, I would never have started this adventure. Many thanks and blessings to them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Anthology available on Nook!

My first published story, appearing in "Leather, Denim & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter" from Pill Hill Press, is now available for Nook! The print version should be available next week, Kindle version should be available by Friday. I have the link to it in the sidebar of this blog. Please like it on Facebook, share the link to it, and enjoy reading all the wonderful stories within!

I'm so proud to be a part of such a fantastic project. It turned out a lot bigger than I thought previously and I can't wait to get my hands on it to read the other contributions.

And now, back to writing!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is this weird?

Is it weird that I love getting rejections almost as much as getting acceptances for my pieces? I just recently got a rejection from an online magazine. It was technically a form email, so I didn't even really get any information or tidbits of advice from it or anything. But it still made me happy.

I hope this never wears off.

I'm noticing today, after nearly a week of nonproductive writing (read that as in I didn't really write anything), that sometimes a story idea just needs some time to hibernate. Many of my story ideas come from dreams that I'm lucky enough to remember. This dream happened to be about a bordello in France at the turn of the century, like Moulin Rouge. I don't want to get into details that will make my mother cringe, so I think that's enough for now.

At first, I figured this idea was going to be something for publications of erotica. I've never written in that genre before, though I will admit I've done some racy scenes in a past Nanowrimo novel that were strictly for padding word count and later omitted. (Hey, that was a long time ago!)

But this story idea was definitely leaning in that direction. I guess I wasn't ready to write it because I left the file in my Scrivener folder for about a month.

A couple of days ago, having no other ideas to write, I finally brought up this file and began writing it. Just to have something to write.

And the idea has come out of hibernation as something very different and much more dramatic. It still has the potential of ending up an erotic tale, but right now it doesn't seem to be heading that direction. I am continually fascinated by the writing process.

In other news, I got an email from Pill Hill Press allowing me to see the proof of my first soon-to-be-published story. I got to see the whole anthology and what it's going to look like from cover to cover. I will admit to some drooling. I can't wait to get my hands on this thing. And I can't wait to see how the other two turn out. I am going to wait until I have the real thing in my hands before I read the other stories.

My attention span has been extremely short lately. I'm doing a lot of teaching and subbing, as well as practicing the new routines that start coming out this month. I'm getting that "always hungry" feeling again. Like right now, I'm still feeling full from a huge bowl of veggie noodle soup I made, and yet I want more. >Sigh< Guess I'm in calorie deficit again.

Oops, there's the phone. And after that, back to writing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another story accepted!

So I followed a friend's advice about writing a short based on a novel I'd written for Nanowrimo in 2009. And the publishing company I submitted it to liked it and wants to include it in an anthology for stories that embrace the horror cliche, stories along the lines of "Shaun of Dead."

Well, mine was basically a blonde version of that, I guess you could say. It was a continuation of my original story. Kind of a sequel. Perhaps I can churn out a bunch of shorts with this character in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.

And after submitting two more stories today, I'm already on the hunt for my next one. Taking on this Write 1 Sub 1 challenge has accomplished exactly what I wanted: writing is now part of my daily life.

I think I can now officially call myself a writer and author.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Write 1 Sub 1 meltdown

Ever since my vacation, I've floundered keeping up with my weekly story writing and submissions. I'm down two stories and two submissions right now. The story I started writing during my vacation is finally finished, but I know I rushed the end just to get it done and out of my hair so I can move on. It will need a real mucking out before I consider submitting that one anywhere.

I've received a couple of rejections of stories that I have high hopes for. I know it's a matter of finding the right home, but I think it's hilarious that I got an Honorable Mention for a story I didn't like. I'm thinking my own opinion of my writing doesn't really matter a whole lot. Just the opinions of the people reading my stories.

I submitted my only completed novel to a contest. Won't be hearing the results until May, but wouldn't that be a fantastic birthday present! I believe the prize is editing and feedback for the novel and consideration for publication (as well as a bunch of the publishing company's books). Just getting some professional feedback would be wonderful.

And now I'm searching for another story idea. There's an anthology that's looking for cliche horror stories. Along the lines of Shaun of the Dead and all that. I was thinking my novel "Zombies Don't Eat Blondes" would be perfect if I did a short story version. But if the short story version gets published, will that cause problems for the full length version I plan on finishing some day?

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed again. Sooooo many things to consider, to keep track of, to write and rewrite.

I have more stories available to shop around now. So I've started using my Resubmissions checklist so I can keep track of those. I think the best thing to do right now is to ... is to write now. (Hyuck)

Off to find a new story idea!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New kitty!

My husband and I have not adopted cats since we've been married; they've adopted us.

Before we married, I adopted four cats, three of which remain at my parents' home in California. They lived with us at my husband's parents' home until we moved out and got an apartment much too small for so many outdoor cats, so back to my parents' home they went. We lived closer to them, so I got to visit them whenever I wanted until we moved to Alaska.

While living with hubby's parents' we met many strays, bums who came to eat and sleep for a while before moving on. One wild cat hung around so long, he got used to humans and discovered he loved being petted. He'd crash his head into your hand so hard, like he never knew how wonderful it was to be petted before. We called him Snaggletooth because of the one tooth sticking out his mouth.

The two who adopted us permanently are with us here in Alaska. Asuka, the little girl, just appeared on the back porch one day. When I opened the door, she didn't run or hiss or anything. She just mewed at me, so I brought her in.

Dusty was crapping on the deck where I'd feed the cats, and we had no idea who was doing it. Until one day, when he jumped onto the deck with a thump while I was feeding. It was like he said, "Here I am! Feed me, love me!"

These two get along all right, except Asuka is a bit temperamental. She doesn't really want to play with Dusty, or cuddle with him, though occasionally she'll tolerate is attentions. So we discussed getting a third cat for Dusty.

We never really had to go out and adopt a cat because they seemed to be finding us just fine.

But here in Alaska, things are different. We've only seen two cats since we moved to our house almost two years ago. Both were clearly owned by someone else in the neighborhood. If we were serious about adopting another cat, we would have to go out and find one.

This past Sunday we went to PetZoo to pick up some dog food. That's all we went in there for, really. But we discovered they were having a big sale (they even had someone walking around in a dog suit handing out sample bags of Yummie Chummies). In the back, there were cages where Clear Creek Cat Rescue (I think that's their name) had some of their adoptable cats. Hubby said I can't go over there, and I said, "Over where?" because I hadn't noticed yet. So of course he led me over there himself. (I turned my hubby into a bigger cat freak than I am!)

We talked to the nice lady of CCCR about our home situation, the other animals we have, and what we were looking for. She introduced us to Daisy, this pretty little tortishell, mostly brown with orange flecks, who snuggled in our arms without any problems. The lady told us about how she loved to play and had lots of energy. She was estimated to be 11 months old, not a kitten, but not a full adult either. We decided to go on with our shopping and discuss it.

We'd just gone on to Fred Myer and all we could talk about was this sweet little kitty. When we were checking out, we decided to take her home, so hubby got $60 from the ATM and immediately walked over to PetZoo while I took the groceries to the car and drove back. He was worried she would be adopted before we got back.

Of course there have been problems since we brought her home. Asuka hates her, and Dusty seems bewildered. Daisy didn't eat, drink, or potty the whole first 24 hours. The cats get into tiffs if they get too close to each other.

Now, on day four, they still get into small tiffs, but I'm usually standing over them when they are near each other. But Daisy is eating, drinking, using the litter box, and has her favorite cubby hole on top of the washer/dryer behind the hanging clothes. I brought some toys home, and she plays with them. She's investigating the house, she's talking to us all the time, she loves attention. The dogs don't even make her twitch.

Right now it seems impossible that the three cats will ever get friendly with each other. But at least we can now live (relatively) quietly and happily together. And maybe some day Daisy and Dusty will be playmates. I pray for this every day.

Here is the link to Clear Creek Cat Rescue. Daisy's profile was still on there at the time of this blog posting.

Every time a cat gets adopted from them, they can rescue another cat from being put down at the shelter. For those readers living in Alaska, please consider these kitties for adoption.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Heading Home

Tonight I hop on the plane to head back home to Alaska. I was kind of hoping it would be pouring down rain today so I wouldn't be leaving such gorgeous sunshine behind. Ah, well.

I've got my hair tied back for the first time this week, since the nasty winds are blowing at home. I still have all my hair; I haven't decided whether I'm going to cut it off or not. The weather here in California is so mild, hair length is not the issue that it is in the Mat-Su Valley. We shall see what I decide later.

It was a week packed with delights. I finally reached a point where I felt like a normal person. I mean, I would eat and feel satisfied. I teach so many exercise classes I'm usually in calorie deficit, so I'll be full but still hungry most days.

Of course, my diet has been horrendous and I haven't exercised a bit. Monday is going to be hell. I'll be subbing for a lot of classes and practicing my new routines when I get back.

I got to see a lot of my family and friends. I managed to reign in my spending this year. I'm hoping my husband and I will be able to visit home together this summer. We may actually be able to use our companion ticket for the first time.

I'm extremely grateful that the weather was so nice while I visited. But it will be nice to return to my hubby, home, animals, and "normal" routine.

Normal. >snort<

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wowza! Oh, and California, too.

That Japanese monster hunter tale I submitted back on the 14th gave me a real surprise. The website said to allow three months before querying, so I had that written into my spreadsheet and fully expected that time frame before knowing whether they liked it or rejected it.

And I got an acceptance email in two days. Which means I am officially going to be a published author. Can I scream now?!

I sent the contract in last week. I think I'm still in shock. I think I will continue to be in shock until I see it in the printed anthology. And then it will just morph into a different sort of shock.

Right now I'm writing this from California, using my parents' computer. The sun is shining outside the window, quite a change from the single digit temps and gusty winds of home, or so I've been hearing. When I first arrived in California and my best buddies picked me up, it was raining hard. That turned to snow by the time I was walking up the driveway to my parents' house. Dad met me halfway and I said, "Look what I brought with me, Dad!"

Very early spring here is like summer in Alaska. The difference is amazing.

I brought a notebook with me in my backpack. I wasn't able to bring much because you no longer get a free checked bag on the airplanes anymore. The first bag costs $25 to check, so I just brought what I could fit into my backpack and my guitar. That means I'm now behind in my Write 1 Sub 1 process, but I haven't stopped writing completely. I began plotting another story in my notebook last night, and wrote the first scene today.

I'd forgotten how quickly the hand starts to hurt when one is used to typing on a computer keyboard as opposed to handwriting.

I also miss my Scrivener program, where all the formatting is done for me, there are files for research, word count, and a bunch of other things.

But the nice thing about the notebook is that it's just you and the pen. No computer distractions, like Internet or games. The story seems more vibrant written that way for some reason.

By the time I get back, I will be behind a story and two submissions, but I plan on catching up very quick. Publication is quite a motivation when you get your first taste of it. I have no idea when the anthology is coming out, but I'm practically screaming with impatience.

Oh, wait, no I'm not. I'm acting very professional and serious.

I think I better go eat another piece of cheesecake ...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Less than Three Day!

That's <3 for the uninitiated, heeheehee!

Hubby bought me chocolate, of course. What cracks me up is that instead of buying the heart shaped box of Ghiradelli chocolates for $10, he bought the regular old bags and got twice as much chocolate for the same price. Smart man, well trained.

So here's the lowdown on how Write 1 Sub 1 is going for me. I was falling slightly behind during the last week of January because I was frantically making some mini bear nuns and priests as gifts for the hard working crew people in our Nunsense II production. If I could have, I would have made one for every person in the show, but my fingers would surely have fallen off. As it was, I got no writing done that week.

I've caught up now and I'm right on schedule. I've had a couple of rejections and an honorable mention for one contest I'd entered. Out of 366 entries, one was the winner, and ten others (including mine) got the honorable mention. I was bouncing off the walls the rest of the day when I read that. I mean, someone read my stuff and noticed it! Not only noticed it, but liked it enough to give it a mention! Woohoo! It's a little like gambling: you may only be getting nickels, but the fact that they're pouring out of the machine is a total trip. Not much but it's something!

My husband was reading over my shoulder while I was working on a Japanese monster hunter tale. He actually looked surprised with what he read. He always though of it as a hobby for me, that I wasn't really serious about it, but he really liked what he read. He was impressed. Now I know there are professionals out there that would say it doesn't matter if your husband likes it because he's your family. Of course he wouldn't really criticize it. But anyone who knows my husband would know what a big deal that reaction was to me. He inspired me in a way nothing else could have.

I just submitted that story today. I also made a Resubmissions spreadsheet so I can keep track of what stories are already out being considered, and what has been rejected so I know I can send it somewhere else. Sure, some places allow multiple submissions, but most don't. So I'll just do them one at a time.

I'm really enjoying this writing journey. I mean, the story that got honorable mention, I thought it was bad. I didn't like it much. But I could spend eternity rewriting something and never be happy with it. That taught me something about my abilities. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean it's a bad story! I gotta keep going, keep trying, keep learning.

Okay. Back to writing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Lookie, lookie!

I'm blogging on my Nook. Just because I can. And I'm blogging while sitting in bed. Again, just because I can. Wi-fi at home is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First week down, 51 to go ...

Posted my progress on the Write 1 Sub 1 blog: finished one story and submitted it to a contest. Finished writing a second story, but it needs revising and cutting down, since it's 17 words too long for the contest it's intended for.

Writing in the short story format is proving to be quite difficult. Normally for novels, I get a single burning great idea, and I can spend years on that one novel. (Heck, make that nine years. That's how long I've been working on Sparkless!) With Nanowrimo, I now have at least four novels that need finishing/revising.

I decided this "write one, sub one" idea was the perfect thing to get me to sit down and just WRITE. Something different every week. Something that I can sit and read through in a small amount of time and quickly revise. It's so hard not to spend days or weeks revising something I've written. I know I'm impossible to please with my own stuff, so the "submission" part is helping me with that. My main goal with this is to learn how to write good short stories and get some great feedback from publishers in the field in the process. If I get published along the way, that's a bonus.

But coming up with ideas is hard. I usually get my novel ideas from dreams, but I don't remember my dreams often enough to do a short story a week with it. Nor do they always make enough sense to lend themselves to story writing. These first two stories I've written I think I've made as interesting as I could, but there's nothing really new about them. One is based on a newspaper article I read about a local woman who killed her husband. The second is based on a theme for a contest about something important being lost and then found by someone else. Again, the same problem: I think I wrote it well, but the idea isn't new.

I think I'm frustrated by the constant pressure from the outside world to write "new" stuff, ideas that haven't been done before, concepts that haven't been explored. But is there really anything left in the world that's new? For heaven's sake, we've come to sparkly vampires as popular entertainment. I got really ticked off when I read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." I mean, if all I had to do was take an old novel and thrust a few zombie scenes into it, then why didn't all those books on writing say so in the first place?!

Granted, I'm not writing because I want to be a famous author or make tons of money from it. Heck, if I wanted to be famous, I probably should have run off to New York and tried to make it on Broadway. I think I'm a better singer than I am a writer.

I want to entertain people. I want people to love what I write, what I sing, what I make as much as I love other writers' work, other performers' songs, and other artists' creations. I don't want to write like Tamora Pierce, I just want to make others feel the way I feel when I read her Tortall novels. Performing in Nunsense II this weekend, I was exhausted to the core, but I relish the laughter I get from the audience and the fact that some of them are crying as I sing my goodbye song. The moment I step on stage, the energy comes racing back. (Though it does desert me once more as soon as I step off the stage!)

Whew. Okay, that was kind of heavy!

I know one of my faults as a short story writer is that I've read very few short stories in my life. Most of them were read in college in English classes. I'm not sure why I can't get into reading more of them. I love novels so much, why not shorter versions as well? Maybe I just haven't tried hard enough. Maybe I need to put down "The Count of Monte Cristo" and read some shorts instead. (On page 508 of 1,058 of that, BTW.) There are just so many, it's hard to wade through the info and find a place to start.

Starting to get the desire to revise my second short story. Please excuse me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Write, First Sub!

So my first week of Write 1 Sub 1 went pretty well. I wrote a story, spent a day polishing it, and finally submitted it to a contest yesterday. My reflex is to spend weeks polishing a piece, but I know myself; I'd find something to change every single time I read it, and it would never be good enough. So this time I reigned myself in. I won't really learn anything until I start putting my stuff out there for people to read. I keep telling myself that, anyway.

Nunsense II opens tonight. Eek! We had our first audience last night (preview), and it went fantastically well. A lot of laughter and people joining in and having a good time. My biggest panic was the bingo game. I had to cover my mouth when the whole audience started murmuring, and then everyone yelled "Bingo!" at the same time. I had a hard time holding back a smile. When I got off the stage, I started dancing like a loon, pumping my first in the air. I got huge laughs for some of my lines, again trying to keep a straight face. At the end of the show, several people came up and told me I was their favorite character. I was also told of several audience members who were seen crying during my sad song. I love entertaining people.

I was thinking maybe I should write a series of short stories based on my theatre experiences. I mean, small town theatre presents a lot of entertaining moments that the audience never gets to see. Could turn out to be an interesting string.

Anyway, I'm still half asleep after a very full day yesterday. I've got a long night ahead of me, and another long day tomorrow. I think I better get a nap in.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And we're off with a bang - a lot of them

Last night sounded like a war was going on - so many explosions, pops, and bangs going on for hours. Fireworks started going off as soon as it got dark (around 5), probably because the Borough allowed the use of personal fireworks in town this year. At least, that was what I heard. We didn't get any, but we stood outside and watched the mayhem in the sky, listening to people scream and shout and shoot off guns. We simply stood and sipped our sparkling apple cider like the simple squares we are. :)

And so the new year begins by doing exactly what I wanted to do - spending some quality time with my husband, and sleeping late. Now I'm fighting the urge to clean the place since it's my only day off with hubby, and we were talking about going out for a drive or something.

Today also marks the beginning of Write 1 Sub 1. So I definitely plan on planting my butt in this chair later today and getting started on that. I've been researching newspaper articles and blog reports, and I have two different story ideas I'm kicking around. I think the hardest part of short story writing is finding ideas. I think my little notebook will come in handy for daily inspiration.

For now, my next question is: what do I want for breakfast?