Bloggity blog, convalescing.

Yikes, I forgot something when I put up the link to The Soul Drinker - what I actually forgot was to put a link to Raven Dance on the page with it! Arrgh!

But I have just been clever and sensible with it.

In the blog entry window, the codes for "insert a link" are included and visible. I just put them again - and copied the URLs with the insert codes around them again into the file I had the codes saved. That means I can add the Raven Dance link to my LiveJournal easily and I can add it to the bottom of the page the story's on.

This shows you where marketing is in my consciousness. I can do it, I do sort of understand it, but ultimately whether people like my writing is up to them and some of them will. The ones who like to read what I like to read will, pretty much.

On a personal front, I got an email with the news that the chap from the housing agency who was so shocked at how expensive and lousy my little apartment on the top of the unclimbable hill is, has found me another one that's a lot better for just about the same money. Technically this one costs $950 for a one room studio about the size of the interior of a bus. Maybe a bit wider than the bus and shorter but that's about the square footage. It has cheezy carpet, electric heat and stove that don't work very well, some plumbing problems and other serious problems including especially the hill itself. The hill is cumulatively destroying my back. Errands that I'd have been able to do without getting back trouble are made worse by the climb, to the point that a normal grocery trip was too much last time.

I haven't seen it and it's in a town I've never been.

I haven't seen it will change, since he's taking me out there to see it real soon.

It's in a town I've never been is in its own way a Big Plus, because, for all that I'm physically sessile I've got a raging wanderlust and I go nuts without the sight of places I've never been. The first time I read his email, I cringed. Keep in mind that I was semiparalyzed and ringing with pain to the point that if I had a headache I wouldn't have felt it and that was when the leg cramps were making it jump by itself and my right ankle was swollen to twice the size of the left.

The thought of going out, for anything, was ... ick, if the house was burning down I'd have trouble getting down that hill. Like, might not be able to move fast enough. Terrifying when the back problem gets that bad, but in a life emergency adrenalin would probably anesthetize me.

Then it started sinking in. They do allow cats - the biggest fear in a move wiped out. The agency will be doing the the security deposit - the thing that always limited me before. I'm afraid of the phone installation cost, because I got my phone cut off last Christmas over the past due charges from a month, one month, of using AOL constantly on a nonlocal number that had my area code and I thought it was local. Gee. This new place might be on the side of the line that has more access numbers for ISP's!! Yikes!

And that debt is chopped down to where all that's hanging over my head now are the two excessive installations - and if my case manager from the other program is on vacation, she did leave her supervisor's number for emergencies. I've got a plan, there is something I can do. I've pestered Verizon repeatedly to send me a Lifeline application - this is a program for indigent customers to provide basic service at a much reduced rate, $10 for installation and about a dollar a month for the basic bill. I need to be on Lifeline. I need to have a fire lit under them to get that going before the actual move and installation.

But a supervisor's going to have a little more weight and be a little more persuasive, so she might be able to take care of getting me on that, which would mean a net lowering of phone bill entirely. To something that's actually within my income, when it's that vital to my daily life. That would be a vast improvement.

So would having a bedroom that's not my office. The place might have gas stove and gas heat if I'm lucky, or oil heat, something cheaper than electric heat that doesn't work. And let's face it, anyone who's ever been poor does know you can use the oven to lower your heating costs. Gas stove would do it.

As for the logistics of packing and unpacking, which is what killed my back last time - I'm looking at what's packed and not packed now. I've got a couple of boxes I haven't unpacked from the last move. One of them is in the bathroom because the bathroom had insufficient cabinets for bathroom stuff and I just root through it when I need bathroom stuff.

I do not have the physical energy to get up and do any organizing. But I can plan. Most of the books and things are in milk crates, those can just be carried by those stronger than I am. I do need more storage tubs in general. I have a closet full of stuff most of it packaged in ways it can be moved, and some clothes in there. I've got one, just one box of unsorted general stuff that I won't bother unpacking now. I'll deal with that one when I get there.

I've got food. It's not packed, what will need a lot of packing is the kitchen. The last time they sent a helper with the housing agency lady (since quit and replaced by mr. energetic who can't viscerally grasp how weak I get in crisis) they paid a lot of attention to how food, dishes and glasses and that were packed and pretty much ignored how the books got packed and didn't think of those as important.

Strategy - tell the other agency that fills in little gaps that I really need more storage containers.
The plastic tubs are cheap, those were three for ten bucks at K Mart the last batch I got. That's on a par with the little outings to McDonald's or a pizza place that they pop for as a morale thing - so I could just tell my case manager's supervisor that I need another K Mart trip for storage supplies - and look for something, anything that would function as bookcases if the budget allows, because I desperately do need at least one other bookcase if I want to shelve all the books I own. The milk crates are triple stacked as if they were packed for moving, not for browsing. I'd rather do better than milk crates, but they sell those too and if I use them for packing containers they can upend and stack for additional shelving. There's also, cheaper than bookcases if budget doesn't allow those, just shelves and brackets. I bought the tools, I could put up shelves and brackets once in the new place.

If I do mention that to the supervisor - now - maybe I can get it organized in a way that the unpacking is minimal and consists of telling the movers where to put stuff. Permanent containers on things like crafts materials or clothing that's out of season or whatever means a lot of it won't need to be unpacked if the containers are stacked in the right order so that what I need immediately is on top. That I got some things into containers and homemade containment before helped a lot in the last move. I haven't unpacked any of the fabric because I haven't booted the sewing machine yet in this apartment. There wasn't a good place to put it. With a living room, there might be a place for a table to put the sewing machine on.

I dealt with fabric storage at the shelter, because what I had was a lot of trash bags and pillowcases I stuffed with it. I used to use the stuffed pillowcases for extra pillows. It dawned on me that a couple of days with the sewing machine and ripping the zippers out of some recycled clothing could turn some large chunks of upholstery weight fabric into giant zippered floor pillows. About a month after I got the idea, I had the time to execute it and did.

I haven't had fabric chunks clogging my life since I got that done, and that was even after the quilting workshop at the shelter where I wound up with a good chunk of the leftovers and some abandoned projects from some other residents. I've even got a drawstring giant sack to store the unused quilt batts.

I'm not anywhere near as good at quilting as Shiela Viehl - another, far greater writer who abuses fabric between writing large numbers of incredibly good novels. But I like the hobby and one of the things I really like about it is the way something very large in my home isn't something standard or manufactured. The bed covering will completely dominate a bedroom. If it's something handmade and artistically grabby, it will overcome anything and the bedroom won't be bland.

The two good quilts I've got done and currently own are the Homeless Quilt, a simple nine patch design executed with very big squares in recycled old blue jeans and recycled old plaid flannel shirts, then tufted with cheap bright colored embroidery floss with a batting of an old kid's blanket from a donation room that was stained, faded and full of cigarette burns plus four ragged old stained and ripped towels I was saving to use in some project or other. I'm proud of it because it's made entirely out of recycled trash except the backing, which was a length of plain black broadcloth I'd intended to make yet another hooded black robe costume with. I could have backed it with a used sheet. I had one, but I decided on a whim that the black backing was cooler. It looks as if Tim Taylor made it. The combination of plaid flannel and blue jeans makes it very traditionally masculine and the big blocks with a bright red flannel border are kinda neat.

The other one is my artistically (pronounce "Autistically") gothic 'goes with creepy medieval stuff by theme' Cathedral Window quilt. Cathedral Window is a weird quilt design, that takes no batting. You cut up large squares of the background material, in most Cathedral Window quilts this is old sheets and they come out with a white background, or unbleached muslin, because you need about 30 or 35 yards of background fabric. You fold that up like origami and stitch a couple of easy seams and put the points together, then fold back the edges on a curve to insert a colored pane that can be a tiny scrap of any fabric.

I did mine oversize with about thirty inch wide background squares that folded down to a bit under a quarter of that, with a bolt of black polyester that I got at an SCA event for a Dollar a Bolt loss leader at a fabric merchant's stall. Yep, the Dollar Bolts were going like hotcakes and that dealer sold a lot of other cool fabric, including three yards of cool silver upholstery satin that's going to become Court garb when I get a car and can go to Society for Creative Anachronism events again.

I hauled that around for a year or so and wound up in the shelter and a year later did the project - and used panes that were eight inch squares of royal blue brocade, turquoise damask, green satin, purple taffeta, any fancy fabrics I had chunks of in jewel tones except velvet. It came out incredibly cool. Spread on a bed, it's not authentic but it gives an impression of Renaissance luxury. Mostly because if they'd seen it in the Renaissance, someone would have adored it right next to the Bargello upholstered carved wooden chairs, old oil paintings and so on. Not authentic but atmospheric as it gets.

My dad's mother, that grandmother was a serious quilter and showed me a Cathedral Window quilt of hers done with unbleached muslin. "See, it's like a stained glass window!"

I looked at it and asked "How come you didn't do the background in black like a real stained glass window?"

"It takes so much fabric you have to use something inexpensive like muslin or old sheets."

No. You don't have to. You can wait and look for a bargain on an entire bolt of black fabric knowing that you want one that will satisfy that little kid it DOES look like a stained glass window. I really wanted to do one with fancier fabrics, and someday when I'm rich enough to sink about $300 into fabric for a quilt, I will do another black background Cathedral Window - this time doing black velveteen bought on sale at approx. $10 a yard (very nice wide fabric usually, 60") and possibly much smaller squares with of course, jewel toned really fancy fabrics as the panes.

The one with the really big pieces took me one month of sustained effort to finish, a lot more than the week's work that went into the Homeless Quilt. That was pretty much full time and a hiatus from writing. A novel's worth of work in that. I suspect doing it with little tiny pieces would stretch that to a lot closer to a year, so, if I do little pieces on the fancier one I'll buy all the fabric for it (the bolt of background fabric on sale as cheap as I can get it - and I would go for upholstery satin if I get a shot at a bolt of black and drop budget precipitously since that would probably run lots cheaper - just want it to be a luxurious texture fabric) - and then work on it in little bits and let it grow as it does and get it done when it's done.

I like having one or two really difficult, masterful crafts projects that are Supreme Expert for difficulty, complete stunners if done and get goshwows from Laurels at SCA events. Currently in progress, I've got a second Elizabethan crewel interpreted in floss design marked up on a chunk of forest green velvet for another Elizabethan pillow. This time there's a deer and a wolf at the bottom under the big tree beside a stylized little creek. The stag's antlers are already satin stitched in gold thread and very striking. I might pull out his body since I was blending shades of brown and gray in teeny tiny long and short stitches that are taking too long, and he might be bolder if I just shaded him in brown dark to light at the belly and did him in split stitch with all six strands for a very solid look instead of trying naturalistically for an agouti deerhide pelt - he'd be more authentically medieval in that treatment too.

I'd get back to that if I got past the deer and went back to doing impossible leaves, flowers and fruit in fun bright colors. I should do up all the brown stuff on it so that all I have left is the fun stuff.

Hmm. I think I'm thinking about working on crafts because when my back is this bad, the comfy chair, television and crafts projects beckon. That stuff is all organized. Over the years my fascination with tackle boxes, containers and organization has paid off - that stuff is all very transportable and always packed in a way that I can get to it easily just by plopping in the comfy chair.

It's the thought of a new place that's making me think about it too - and that the hospital program director was shocked I didn't even have Basic Cable.

I have certain habits. If I am listening to music at all - whether it's this afternoon's Tannheuser broadcast or rock, then I'm writing. If I'm watching TV and someone else's plot is getting piped in, then I can work on completely nonverbal things like painting, drawing, mapping some of these worlds and of course, the crafts. I think if they put cable in at the new place, my off time will be vastly improved and I might actually have omething like Sheila's schedule - where I give myself a couple of hours a day to relax doing Something Else that's not in front of the computer.

That would be an incredible improvement, a serious move up in lifestyle even before I have a lot of spending money for more books. So would shelving of any kind, so that my books aren't in miserable "student is getting ready to move again" stacks.

I've been doing without, getting by and doing what I could with what I had all my life. I got up here and I'm beginning to realize that I've made some tangible cumulative improvements to my personal lifestyle - and yes, it does matter to me to make the place I live, whatever its substrate, that livable and that visually lush. I can understand now why I care so much about what my residence looks like. Even back when I did have a car, I didn't go out much. I stayed home a lot. The things I enjoy are all things that I can do either on good back days - the events themselves, with serious resting-up doing up all the new costumes, new crafts and camp gear before going - or things that literally give me a tangible reward for sitting still resting up and restoring my stamina.

They're just very boring to do without a) other people around or b) a television going.

A laptop would let me lurk in the chat room while crafting too, and the chat room severely competes with television even when I'm just slobbing off and relaxing.

I thought about my priorities and why I really want the laptop so badly, even if my desktop array is approaching 'have everything I need for the basics' - it's that 'prepare for the worst' mentality that would give me a real sense of security. If the worst happened and I wound up homeless in the worst kind of shelter, a laptop means flipping the bird to being put on hold for months without even being able to work. It would back up everything I've ever done, not just the immediate working volumes for rewrites. It's not that much more than the Visor - but the Visor is more portable for short outings and for camping trips. I actually do need both - even if it's sometimes a little hard to justify both.

The crafts stuff and art materials always paid for themselves. Writing hasn't done that yet. I have got to believe in it and recognize that I've got the basic skills to make a go of this. But despite all its difficulties, moving to New York did pull me out of the dead end that New Orleans and all the other colorful places I've lived had me in - where I was trying to make one marginal artistic career the day job for another that hadn't paid yet and could not give the dayjob one (whatever it was) the energy and passion to make a go of it - because I really wanted to be writing.

Up here in New York, there actually are social services even if they sometimes get rough and screw up on things and worst of all, sometimes wind up with my paying for other people's mistakes.

Up here, I am not fighting constantly with dysfunctional roommates driven round the bend by their love lives and their economic problems. Up here, while I'm moving again now, I don't have the four or five times a year going round the bend to get an apartment or roommate situation, get into it, try to keep it stable while trying to make something marginal pay. I am slowly, steadily crawling toward a situation that will actually be stable in the troughs between the peaks, even if I haven't actually had financial peaks yet.

There are times when progress is hard to measure and hard to see.

The all time high of 14 story submissions and a novel still out on submission is real progress toward actually making a living on this full time workaholic writing schedule.

Dealing used books dovetails nicely since I do know the convention stuff and now know what I'd need to do to set up my dealer's table in a way it doesn't either kill all my time or kill all my time after the con in convalescence from back trouble. It's actually in one sense a lot steadier than selling any handmade items at cons, though I can support other artisans by taking their stuff on consignment and devoting a little time to keeping their profit envelopes separate. I always did that anyway no matter what I was selling.

That takes a car, I'm not ready for it financially. Without a major windfall, since I not only have to get the Beetle but have to get insurance for it for a significant period of time - six months to a year in a lump before that becomes a bill - and pay for a driver's license and the required driver's education course. When a good new laptop is running $1000 for current name brand current model low end but new, and the cheapest new on Pricewatch is under $400 - the laptop is actually cheaper than the car and that's a matter of "if there's a worst case that sucker and its back pack do NOT leave my hands."

That would leave me the option of returning to my old life in worst case. The "crash on someone's couch in a different state" if DSS cut me off and I didn't have SSI yet and I got cut off from all these places.

That is why it's that high a priority. So I'll accept that and put it higher than the car on the 'needed infrastructure' list - but only just ahead of the car, the car is just a big ticket item that would take a novel sale to pull off and a novel sale that I could get help from my good lawyer, my Goddess blessed wonderful gift to the poor glorious lawyer, to protect.

The car is "kick DSS in the teeth permanently" though - because if I had about a year to get it going, the used book thing *could* become a day-job with a workable schedule. The car was the difference in overhead between plane fares to conventions and essentially, pay for the cost of travel by taking passengers who pitch in. I've got a car, you've got gas money, we both want to make it to the con, welcome to my Bug. Hope you're short.

And it dovetails because any "good con" windfall can go to publishers to order copies of my book wholesale for resale, signed by author at table, and yep, I expect to make some peripheral income on my high selling superpro friends too by stocking copies of their books wholesale, since I know they'll sell. Any self published friends, at least haul copies of theirs around on consignment, which means they can sign them when they buy them. And just budget enough cash that if the immediate young strong-backed volunteers who don't have enough spending money for the convention want cash instead of trade, I can give them a $20 for the haul or pop for their dinner. There's always someone strong and broke at a con.

It's a plan. I have plans to deal with the move itself, the contingencies and opportunities the move brings and the long term plans for how to manage to stay online and keep pounding keys and keep my career moving forward. And having plans, I don't feel as if I'm being swept away by the decisions of other people who are, after all, just at work and dealing with my needs as an hour or two out of a hectic stressful job where someone else's emergency could interrupt at any time. I'm the one who has to be aware of what those needs are, what those goals are and what I can do to move forward.

Robert and Ari >^..^< (Our needs. Don't forget the fuzzy cat. Budget Science Diet!)


A healthy start on a new Hub page, one that will really link to everything else I've got. It's crude, but like the story page it has a nice textured background. You can see my old Index here: Ironwolf's Hall and that links up to everything including my First Day Covers and the second page of First Day Covers though I haven't yet figured out how to place all the elements on a web page without the Drag and Drop qualities of Easy Designer.

I will, gradually, eventually get it. Arachnophilia shows the coding in one window, but has an internal previewer that you can set to respond to any changes. That was very useful. One step at a time...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Way cool, it worked! Wow! lol at me the HTML dummy... - Arachnophilia really is nice now that I'm getting used to it...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
At last! My long-promised free story is up. I successfully used Arachnophilia and hosted it on my free Realm at N54 - where it surprised me what a tiny file the finished Story HTML was!

I'm horribly proud of it and not just for the writing - but because I managed with great stress and much help from friends to get Arachnophilia to work and literally create a web page from scratch. I did not design this blog template. I picked a nice one and ran it. I don't mess with it or with commands.


There's the URL - the story ran last year at http://www.artofhorror.com and for all I know it's still archived, but if it is, it's way back on the archive list. And this version of it is laid out nicely on a tiled background .jpg downloaded from a freebie graphics site someone in chat gave me.

The Soul Drinker

Now that should look like a link when I've got this blog entry posted. If it doesn't work, the URL is posted in whole so you could paste it into your browser.

The plan is that I'll leave a story up for a while, take it down after a while and replace it with another story especially as reprints become available. Or maybe I'll just make a page like Lazette Gifford's where links to everything that's cycled through its first market are conveniently on a page.

And now let's try that again with a link to a bigger free read: Raven Dance - that's a link directly to my publisher, iUniverse.com - if you click on the book and get More Information, you can read the .pdf file online for free. Can't download it, but you can read for free. That's one of the things I did like about www.iUniverse.com - because anyone who really liked it would probably borrow it once or twice and then buy it sometime when they've got a bit of a windfall.

So there it is - Free Reading Day - enjoy!

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Just a short bloglet postscript to that long whine about total physical collapse... sat still enough hours and it went away to the point I wrote the 8th story to complete Master New Short Stories Dare. Stone Lily Blues even got a cool title and I'd managed to do one I've meant to do for years and years. I had the idea for this as far back as when I first read Dracula, but the characters and situation finally came up right.

Vampires get to be vampires by swapping body fluids, or it's on the first bite, or it's on the third bite, or it's when they get to third base, or it's if the vampire gets her cross off her neck, or it's by association and really, if you wear black too much and hang out in Jackson Square you too might sprout fangs some night. But back in Dracula there was a throwaway bit of Hungarian legend that I assume he did research, since most of his research came up spot on. That if you don't bury a suicide at a crossroads with suitable postmortem mutilations and a savory garlic stuffing for the head, they get up as vampires. Seems like hte world would be crawling with vampires, probably why no one uses that version. But I thought it was a nice twist, someone who wanted to die winding up cursed with eternal life, right?

Isn't It Ironic? (like rain on your wedding day, etc., the song)

Anyway, I had fun and it turned out well and it's cliche and not - went off very strong.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Temporary Insanity...

My back wasn't as recovered as it felt like this morning when I left. One grocery trip and some laundry. Not a lot of laundry. I don't let laundry stack up, period. One trip down the hill, to get to Andrew's car, the grocery trip, then putting laundry in machine.

It's not age, because I can remember days like this in high school. I can remember dozing in classes because I was in pain, sitting weird, fading in and out and attributing it to being up late the night before - when sometimes I wasn't. Wondering why, in high school, sometimes I slept fifteen or sixteen hours in a night and still dozed in class. That was why.

Doctors were not the people who told me it's cumulative. Doctors, even specialists, have not ever mentioned that or that if I don't rest up enough to really get back to my baseline, immense sprint style energy and efforts are going to lower my physical reserves to the point that things I normally do are out of reach. A chiropractor once said something to that effect, one that I saw in high school - that chiropractor might be responsible for my actually graduating, since what he did was usually worth about a month of recovery in itself though the process tended to be a little weird.

I didn't get any of the art done today. Rested, expecting to feel better enough to sit up and draw in an hour or two, at most a nap and about three hours of lying still. But it just got worse and my right ankle swelled - it was hard to tell if it really hurt a lot, because my back and hip hurt a lot and demanded more attention and I kept getting dizzy. This tells me something about pain. It will distort judgment. So will even the slightest relief, because this morning I honestly felt as if I'd put the 8 Hour Monday behind me and *should* be back up to my normal creeping speed.

But I got it done. And now I'm sitting in a bonsai position in my good chair, finding out it is a very good chair as it's got more support than the end of Andrew's couch. Remembering how many roleplaying game parties and other parties that I'd ask politely to get the end of the couch, and how some friends thought I was being a bit selfish about always wanting the end - because that's also convenient for the end table, place to put your drinks and so on.

That, and the Hill is more of a contributing factor than I'd thought it was. I'm still fighting off that idea that I'm lazy, selfish and clumsy. This is a lot like that time I dropped my books and had to stay on the floor for twenty minutes till I could move, it's that kind of spasming.

It's the difference between knowing and not knowing. This isn't depression. This isn't emotional pain. This is just fatigue, physical pain and impaired mobility that's gone down to a point anyone could tell I'm not moving right - but it's such a fooler because if I take care of it, I can move at a reasonable speed for a short period of time and if I'm very hyped, give an impression of great energy and enthusiasm. Because the enthusiasm is real.

Nature designed me to sit still and write good books.

The trouble with it is that it's that hard to just do the ordinary everyday living things that have to be done, and one reason I blog about that is to get over the embarrassment. On the up side - I have developed an almost ruthless efficiency for some of those day to day things, and if I did them the way other people did, I wouldn't have any other life. I still wouldn't keep up. Even my path through the supermarket did not involve any doubling back and was mapped to get me to and through any aisle that had something on my mental list without extra rambles.

It might contribute to workaholic habits. Especially now that work is something truly exciting. I love the way it feels to work on my writing. I get lost in the stories and novels as much as if I'd just taken them home from a bookstore. It's fun. I don't worry about anything when it's flowing, I don't think about time and I generally have a high that won't quit. But then I start comparing my life to other people's and find that most of my hobbies are sedentary - calligraphy, textile crafts, art, always doing something but always doing something that involves sitting still for long hours. People compliment me on my patience when they see the projects and they're so wrong. I have no patience at all. Get me standing in line somewhere and I'll wind up walking out on it at some point. Get me sitting somewhere that's killing my back and in five minutes I'm holding down a murderous rage. Get me offline waiting for a phone to ring and I'm clawing the walls - because then I'm in solitary confinement and don't start projects because presumably that person will call any minute. I have no patience. None.

What I'm fighting is the idea that I'm spoiled, because so many things that are luxuries for other people aren't for me. If I do without, I really do without.

I am tired of being this poor, but what I'm doing is the only real path out of that poverty. That's not an excuse, it's a reality. My choices of occupation are fairly limited - and if I did pursue visual art I'd wind up doing it the way I did last time, in a state of extreme burnout and rage at myself for selling out for money to do something I hate doing for a living instead of doing what I love. All things the same, any success at visual art would take that kind of internal reward and personal emotional commitment - and when push comes to shove, I don't have that. I didn't about any of the other things I did. They were all comparable in terms of opportunities -- and I really wish one of my friends had the sense to hit me upside the head with that back when I was trying all that other stuff... to notice about me that what I wanted to do was stop and write, that what I did whenever I got any windfall was buy time to write.

I am getting so much closer.

I've got this crazed joy at having the printer cartridge even if I do have to wait before I finish cleaning up my apartment and doing the last few rewrites and using it. I didn't realize how important that was. Any more than I realized it about postage or Post It notes or anything else - till I had a sense of security in having it around and knowing I could use it. This stuff will pay for itself. Five more lines in the water and more to come - I think I do have to overdo the Rewrite Dare and start seriously catching up with myself. Because it's slowly dawning on me that might work. That might really work. Even paying out 30% of it to the housing people, it might really work.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
7 out of 8 new short stories done. "Barebrain" isn't magic and telepathy, it's science and telepathy in the Nomad universe with a peculiar accident... and an unusual solution to it. Kinda neat actually and keeping it all to one character versus a bad computer problem and survival situation kept it short.

And that on a day I didn't think I'd get any writing done cause I was concentrating on the mundane getting house and life together stuff. Wow. Neat. I like this. I like this habit...

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Just a little epilogue to the rhapsody on tools.

I did manage to get my desk cleared off. This involved clearing up a lot of trash on the floor, rearranging shelves, moving books around and a lot more cleaning than just my desk - but I actually have photographic evidence of a clean desk without a cat laying on it.


There's the url - click on it and you'll see my writing area in all its pristine, ready for printouts order.

It won't stay that way, but it's an achievement.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Happy Beltaine!

Anyone out there who's pagan or even just likes ancient historical agrarian holidays, Happy Beltaine! And this year, Gaia's been more than generous with me. This year, right on Beltaine, She reminded me it's a good idea for me to keep writing and sending stuff out.

Synchronicity is a wonderful thing.

So is Spring Cleaning, and today is one of those brilliant warm but not too hot perfect May Days that reflects the legend of May Queens and maypoles and ancient dances and all the joy in the world. The weather's perfect.

On a milder, more mundane note, a petty little excuse is swept out with the trash. I've been doing email submissions waiting for a printer cartridge to send out stories to the print mags - Dreams of Decadence, F&SF, Asimov's and so on.

Today, I went out and I do have a printer cartridge, courtesy of one of three disability programs I'm involved with. The one that does know I need to pursue my occupation as well as wait for SSI... just picked it right up at Rite-Aid and that left a little elbow room to fill another item a bit lower on the priority list. Yet important. Rite Aid had a sale on some discontinued tool brands or overstock or whatever it was - and the contents of my long lost tool kit are now almost totally restored. All it really needs is a toolbox to keep it in!

Over the past year, since things stabilized, I've slowly been putting together everything I lost in all those moves for all those years. The number of times after that toolkit vanished that I looked for a hammer and couldn't find one - finally bought one while I was at the shelter - looked for a screwdriver and wound up using my Swiss army knife, looked for a nail or a pushpin or a bolt or a picture hanger and wound up improvising or doing without is uncountable. It wasn't writing stuff. It didn't sit on a par with art materials (pay for themselves) or writing supplies (feed the soul and yes, will pay for themselves).

Yet not having duct tape, electrical tape or longnose pliers, wrench or regular pliers is always a major pain when it happens. Today, found all those things at much less than half price and for about $15 total, managed to restock all the important little fixit things. That's still not the Dream of Power Tools... but it's a move in that direction and basic power tools are definitely on the "squeeze it into my first advance if I can manage it" list. Along with some wood.- and if I build my bookcases instead of just buying them, it's a satisfaction that goes deep.

When I'm not writing, I like to putter with things.

When I look at tools, I can't help remembering all of Heinlein's wonderful colonization tales. Basically they had a strong streak of frontier Americana to them. People making do and making every little thing count. That's a four tier set of compartmented storage containers, plastic, with picture hangers, nails - not your teeny little one inch brads either but decent good sized nails with heads, screws, nuts and bolts and machine bolts. Big enough machine bolts I would trust something I built with them to actually hold my weight, or worse, the weight of all the books I own. Hehehe.

And they had a good steel hibachi on sale, $7.99, when for years and years those go for about $20-$25 and I prefer them immensely to the usual little cheap grills - or the big giant bucket grills. Barbecuing for one does not take a giant grill. It just takes something the right size for a burger and an ear of corn, or a steak and a potato, something like that. And uses less charcoal than the big ones. It also holds the dream of something I will return to as soon as I've sold books.

The regular grills, either bucket or propane or whatever, don't look particularly medieval. But the traditional hibachi is somewhat period for Society for Creative Anachronism events. It is a vital part of camp gear that was the last little bit of camp gear I didn't manage to get the last time I kitted up for Pennsic. Mostly because my friends already had one and the big camp had a huge setup around the fire, it wasn't really needed compared to my tent, feast gear and so on. I do know how to cook on one of those. Well. Beyond that, hibachis in particular bring back many years of happy memories and colorful medieval events where I and many other medievalists sat around doing moderately authentic recipes over the fire. I might not need it for the next Pennsic that I make it to. But at smaller camping events? That's self sufficiency and a good reason for me to throw some Food Stamps at a supermarket en route and offer hospitality at my camp as well as eating at others.

I look around my apartment and see how far I've come. Most of the things I just did without one way or the other, they're there in some form. A year of Bruised Apple has set my bookshelves to growing, given me a small pleasant stack of "haven't read yet" used books and always, a few more good references even if they're not the ones that got damaged in the flood.

I'm feeling the urge to clean it up and organize it ruthlessly. Get rid of anything resembling junk and strip it down to just the good stuff - and keep that in an organized way, so if I happen to neglect it for a few months because I'm busy writing, when I need the hammer or a picture hanger or a wrench, I can just look for it, dig it out and do it. My textile crafts stuff is already organized like that. On the odd day that I want to throw a quilt together on the sewing machine, make a costume, bead jewelry, make a dreamcatcher or embroider a medieval badge, it's all in its assorted cases, tackleboxes, tubs and so forth - ready and sorted. This is actually one of the pleasant parts of doing hobbies.

They're talking about moving me to a better apartment. The more organized I get the stuff in this one, the likelier that will be simple. They do understand that I need a bit more help with the moving than most people, they're not going to leave me high and dry this time. But anything I've got that is already in some way packed, just a matter of 'put that in the living room' or 'put that in the kitchen' will be much more likely to arrive without getting lost or damaged and the movers won't have as much trouble figuring it out.

Hmm. I knew there was some reason I was saving that rather large shoebox. It'll do for a toolkit till I get a proper one with a handle and a tray. I think it's large enough for the hammer, and if the hammer's in there it'll all be in one place easily found no matter what's needed.

Little things like that make me happy. Small steps toward building a life. My grandfather owned every tool made by man and knew how to use them. He was brilliant. I suspect grandfathers tend toward that if they're even remotely competent, but he was awesome even for a grandfather. That's the nostalgia side.

On the imaginative dreamer side... I've moved so many times in my life across distances inconceivable to most of history, that I really have a strong affinity with the idea of nomadic life. A lot of the good times in my life were road trips, either to attend SCA events where that physical self sufficiency is artistically disguised to look as if you're doing it entirely with the physical culture of the middle ages (or if you're a purist who's been at it a long time, IS that authentic!), or just moves from state to state. Sometimes it's not the distance. Sometimes it's the sense of knowing that if things changed and I packed up and went on the road, I'd land wherever I did with the ability to set up my very mobile territory exactly the way it ought to be... with a minimum of fuss and work.

Not having to waste time looking for the tools is part of that.

Down under the fear of eviction was always the other pulse of my moving cycle: the smell of opportunity or just adventure, the thought of looking out a different window at something new, the road trip itself, the practiced ease of getting it all together. I think what annoyed me about the last one was that I just had more skill at it than any of the movers and at every stage, had to wait for other people who didn't have the time or the experience to handle the thousand minor problems I'd already solved time and again.

At any rate, I can't actually start printing out stories till I've gotten my desk cleared off and things put away. And thanks to a lot of small efforts to keep it under control - - it's not that impossible to contemplate!


Robert and Ari >^..^<


Good morning, Blog...

N54 is having problems, so I'm not just hanging around the chat room reeling out slow lazy chunks of prose on Dorayan of House Dzur - though that story's going rather well and I'm having fun playing with something bigger than a story and shorter than a novel. I've gone to about 6,000 words with it, dropped my favorite time adventurer through time again into yet another interesting situation and it's pulling together nicely. Those close friends who've gotten to read the yet unpublished Dorayan novels might laugh their heads off at his gorgeous female partner for this mission. Many times, Dorayan winds up with an almost James Bond-like propensity to meet attractive women and whether they're on his side or not, they usually wind up having a good time sometime in the book. Well, this time there's a slight logistic problem. She's gorgeous. She's interesting and powerful and I like her a lot. And she's a 120 foot long dragon who thinks of him a little like a cute, furry pet. Nice lady. I'm sure the dragons among the readers will find her incredibly sexy.

So the story featuring an attractive naked girl running around in it - whoops - she's got scales and her height gets measured on an architectural scale. I'm having fun with it. I'll ship it around, but I don't have quite the expectations I do of the shorter short stories, since the markets tend to prefer the actual short story length. 7,500 words and under, if you're curious. Sometimes specific, like 4,000 words and under. And of course... novels. I am so backed up on novels it's ludicrous.

I keep rambling occasionally and dangling little hooks about the novels, but unless you're actually in a crit group with me, you're not going to get them till I send them out, right? And sell them? And triumphantly conclude the long rough road to freedom with some published books?

Yep, that is the funny little sound of a weird old fashioned writer whistling in the dark - and laughing at himself hard and long, because it's ludicrous that I've got only one of those out on submission. I am raising morale for the Big Rewrite. Quest of the Perilous Blade has to go out next month, completely rewritten, polished, ready for editors or agents with a good synopsis and a well polished query letter that will probably take the kind of work a flash story would if it does what I want it to.

I set a personal schedule for accomplishing the seven Master Dares that I signed up for at http://hollylisle.com in Forward Motion for Writers. I got the book done. Noooo problem. I love writing books. I'm getting really ahead on short stories and short story submissions. Two to go of each of them... and I'm doing a busman's holiday project like a novel-related novella introducing a series character no one's even seen yet? Okayyy... well, it's a break, because I got a little ahead of schedule. But I could, given that I did get that much ahead, at least a few days ahead, knock out a few more of those short story submissions. There are lots of online markets that I haven't explored yet through http://www.ralan.com since I haven't managed to toss something at every Pro level SFF market they have listed.

Print submissions, I have a good logistic excuse for delaying a few days. I ordered a new printer cartridge. It hasn't arrived yet. When it does, that's when Analog and Asimov's and F&SF and Dreams of Decadence get stories. It's not like I don't have postage set aside for this. I've got plenty. I bought stamps a while back and still haven't worked my way down through it - though I'm going to be putting a little extra on the SASE envelopes because of the June postage hike.

Then there's four nonfiction articles. I'm slightly procrastinating on the nonfiction. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure if that even matters, since I'll be getting more short stories done if I do get frustrated at doing nonfiction. At any rate, it's very close to the optimistic time I set for starting the rewrite on Quest. And that means - really getting my head together on it, plowing ahead and giving it the best I've got.

I can never figure out if I was sensible or incredibly stupid in the way I've handled my writing.

A part of me is screaming that I should have done this 26 years ago when I'd just turned 21 and nothing was holding me back and I had nothing to lose. But I thought I needed love, I spent most of those early years looking for it and clung like a leech when I found someone who recognized how vulnerable I was. I could have started this sooner if I'd let go once that started to turn bad. I was trapped in some very stupid ideas. I paid for that mistake, all those years - and the other mistake was a logistic one. You can't make one marginal artistic profession work as a day job to support the other one, if it starts taking off it'll demand a full time commitment whether that's tarot reading or visual art or fan art or crafts or whatever. Not without the security of a pension or disability or something, where it can just fall into the category of part time paying hobby. It's nice when hobbies pay for themselves. It means if you're living on a low income, you can support a moderately intense hobby and get the best materials and supplies for it, really enjoy it and have a good time on your time off.

This is end of April. For some reason I'm falling into a 'looking back over the last year' frame of mind, even though it's well after New Year's and it's not Samhain, the pagan New Year's. It's that this is the time of year that I got out of the shelter, and the years I spent in the homeless shelter were a shock and a half. It was in some ways like a prison term - and despite numerous flaws in the system, not all of that had to do with the system per se other than the sheer lack of transportation. Which isn't the homeless shelters but the suburban architecture itself: it is designed for cars and those who own them are free, those who don't are free if they have long legs and like hiking great distances. I had friends at the shelter who got around easily. I wasn't able to leave the building for all practical purposes and even getting a ride on the shelter van down to town was a physical wipeout. That is nobody's fault. Luck of the genetic dice. That just is what it is. I won't be making any long foot pilgrimages to or through nature areas, I won't be hiking across America to broaden my experience as a writer, I will go on doing what I've been doing most of my life. Moving when I get an opportunity to and getting rides from people who like me, when it's time to move on. Or, sell a book and get my own dang vehicle so that I don't have to keep watching for friends who want a companion on a move across the country!

I have to look at it and ask myself if I've done everything I can in this one year of freedom I've had, to break out and get my career on the road. I think the answer is yes. I've been productive, I did make an honest go at marketing Raven Dance and discovered yet again that I am not the kind of Talented Salesman who never goes broke. There are people with sales talent. They actually care about selling, they're passionate about it, when they're honest they get darn picky about what they'll sell or not and all the internal victories that I get from finishing novels or stories, from finishing a chapter in the middle of a novel - they get from the process of selling. I come close to that in the area of barter. The times that I've been in barter subcultures, especially the SCA, I've done very well for myself and I do consider it a bit of a triumph that I managed to earn $1,500 worth of medieval art supplies and toys just by swapping out the handcrafts I do. That was at the Pennsic War though, which is probably as close to a real medieval fair as anyone is ever likely to find in this century.

It also took a full two or three months of work on the trade goods to build up to doing that.

In terms of time, I do have to keep a good balance between my hobbies and my profession. A novella about Dorayan might sell. If it doesn't, it will anyway because it'll be the one longish story in a nice story collection when I start kicking off my ebooks. I've polished and repolished my strategies for surviving on my writing and I'm actually moving forward in terms of that. Every quarter, when I sign up for Dares, I get a little closer to the goal. The way it's gone so far, it's almost unmeasurable what my real progress is.

I write better fiction than I used to.

I can quantify my output, and that's helped a whole lot in terms of getting it done. But the quality is something that I'll only really be able to judge for myself, loosely by how much readers like it and whether it sells, but only loosely. Too many market conditions affect what happens after a writer's stories reach competence and start getting on the Short List of the particular editors that like them. I've hit the short list on some of my rejections. That tells me which markets are more likely to want the next ones, and the ones where I get comments definitely fine-tune that.

But it's ludicrous to have only one book out knocking around and the next big step has to be ripping up most of the backstock and rewriting it to my present level of skill. That isn't as much fun as writing new novels, but, I can do something like alternate it and keep up my current writing pace just to stay sane.

I'm on the right track. It is just going to take some patience to get there and some morale. This rewrite isn't going to be any harder than the rewrite on Strigler's Succubus was. The query and synopsis will take more courage than work, I think. I choked on that stage with my last book - but what good is it doing me sitting there on my hard drive even if it's cleaned up? Maybe when I get the package set up for this one, I need to do the package for that too and see what I can do about kicking them out the door.

In terms of my own psychology, I can look at how multiple short story submissions relieve some of the anxiety and recognize my best shot is going to be shipping out a bunch of different novels. In many different directions, so that the pressure's off worrying about any given rejection. That's really the key to it, since I chickened so long and wound up so prolific. It's a plan.

Thanks for letting me share while I look back, look ahead and plan. These things will get out there - it's just a matter of time.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Three tries and the third one stuck... after a couple of false starts using my favorite novel series character (the chap whose origins are on the desk at Tor in Chazho) in a short story, a random comment in chat gave me an interesting opener. Now all I have to do is contain Dorayan of House Dzur and keep him from turning it into another novel. He's supposed to solve this in 20,000 words or less.

I don't mind trying out a novella. Zette does very well with novellas and novelettes, there are some publications that take "long stories" over 7,500 words and as a small sample of what readers can expect from Dorayan novels, it would be a cool thing. Main thing is, keep it contained. Don't let too many interesting subplots and side characters invade it. But don't keep it down to the 5,000 word mark either. It's a fun experiment, it might not be the most marketable length but I wanted to know I could do it. So I'll write it, ship it around and if it doesn't stick for being a bit awkward, include it in one of my upcoming story collections.

I know as I think about future anthologies after Launchpad, I would be darned interested in good stories in that length range because one or two of them with a few shorter stories around them would be nice variety.

I also need to find another horror market for "Dumb as Dirt" this afternoon, read it over again and see if I can improve it at all but ship it out again fast. I had the nerve to drop something else to Flesh and Blood immediately, let's see if I can also get up the nerve to send the story somewhere else real quick. I like it. And in terms of what I want to send somewhere and then set in the stack of reprints for a good horror collection - it's really good for that. It would sit nicely between "Fear and TV" and "The Soul-Eater."

I've got about twenty minutes before I need to go out - but this isn't like last Monday. Just the appointment with my therapist, not two other conferences taking up the whole day before it. I think if I take it a little easy physically afterwards, I should be all right...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Insane acts of courage rebounding in moments of afterfear dept... sent off another story to "Flesh and Blood" immediately on getting the very rapid rejection slip for "Dumb as Dirt." Editor Jack Fisher responds fast to esubmissions, so I sent him something else. Something completely different in tone. More like fantasy but only borderline dark, so I don't know how that will go.

But then I won't know till I keep trying, right?

Robert and Ari >^..^<