Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Pretty good for a four-day week (#SFWApro)

Due to taking yesterday off for cleaning, I only had four days of writing this week, but I think I did well with them.

The high point was finishing another draft of Trouble and Glass, which I think I’m renaming, No One Can Kill Her. This is a quantum leap beyond the first draft in both plot and the character arcs, and setting it in the 1950s works much better. And I like one of the new settings (an abandoned movie studio) much better than I do the setting of the climax. With a little tinkering, I think I can relocate the climax for the better. I still have some problems to fix though, like one supporting character trailing off into nothing. Still, I’m quite pleased with my work.

I finished my next Screen Rant (15 Things You Don’t Know About the Sinister Six), and some more articles for Leaf. I have my proposal for the new movie book ready to go and I picked out a cover for the Atlas Shagged anthology. However, I’m going to get some feedback from friends before I do any cover reveals.

I also did some more research reading for Undead Sexist Cliches and my ideas for the next draft are starting to take shape.

And my day of isolation yesterday really did make me feel much more comfortable with the pups today.

I’ll wrap up with a shot from my Screen Rant, of Spider-Man delivering the smackdown on Electro. Art by Steve Ditko, all rights to current holder.

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Wheeee, cleaning! (#SFWApro)

So now that the pups’ canine-flu vaccinations have kicked in, we took them back to Suite Paws yesterday for the first time since May. I had eight hours to be a solo act, huzzah!

And yes, I did spend some solo time at the Mensa gathering, but not that much — I was just having too much fun being sociable. If anything, I came home slightly overloaded on connecting with people. And it feels very different being alone at home.

So what did I do with my time? As you can guess from the post title, I cleaned.

I simply couldn’t do much during June because I’d have wound up with dogs sniffing around me as I used cleaning chemicals, or barking because I wasn’t on the couch with them where I’m supposed to be. And like so many dogs, they hate vacuuming when they’re in the room.

So I scrubbed the kitchen counters. Rearranged one cabinet. Cleaned the fridge (which is demanding enough I remember why I don’t do it often). Set up a bookshelf to hold all my receipts for the HSA, home repairs, writing, etc. (a good decision, it’s much better organized than the plastic crate I was using). Plus various other odds and ends. And vacuuming. And some paperwork, including more letters to our state senators.

The end result? I feel pleased with my work, but not as refreshed by my solo day as I usually do. Partly because I couldn’t bicycle (as they used to say in Silver Age comics, it’s hot as blazes out there), partly because I need more decompression — that month of no days off took a lot out of me. But I’ll get there.

For illustration, here’s Trixie, dozing on my leg. Yes, I’m that hairy.

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Goals for June (#SFWApro)

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been on vacation, so there won’t be a “week in review” post this afternoon (can you soldier on?). Details of my week’s fun will come some time next week.

I came out with 48 percent of my goals accomplished, which I’m reasonably happy with. A lot of the stuff that didn’t get done was due to being full-time doggy daddy five days a week with no break (due, as I’ve mentioned before, to an outbreak of canine flu in the area). That affected lots of little things — the extra bicycling I normally do on daycare days, juggling practice (I’m a lousy juggler but I do enjoy practice. Only not when the balls can land on the dogs), cleaning time (dogs + cleaning chemicals is a suboptimal mix). Plus our surprisingly busy weekends kept me from some of the little activities I might have done during the same period. That suits my fine — social events are way preferable to ticking off stuff on my lists.

I finished a draft of Southern Discomfort, which is a big check mark for me. I did not, however, make it to the after-writer’s group bar to hang with everyone. Next month, for sure! I accomplished several other writing goals though with the Leaf project I worked on, didn’t get much in the short story vein done (but paying gigs are paying gigs). I caught up with a friend of mine whose health I was concerned about and kept up a reasonable exercise schedule. Though it’s possible the health benefits were neutralized by all my anniversary chocolate.

With things back to normal this month, I’m hoping to do better. And I’ve had a week of vacation to contemplate what I want to do and how to organize my time. We’ll see if that helps.

For illustration, here’s a Madonna by Titian, from the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Venice exhibit. Photo by me.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Social butterfly me (#SFWApro)

Last weekend was surprisingly social.

Usually I don’t interact with people beyond librarians and salesclerks. But Saturday a friend from the writer’s group had a birthday party, so I went and even got TYG to go along. It was enjoyable, including meeting some writing professionals from outside our group (his sister and her partner).

Sunday, writer Allegra had one of her work days where we’re all invited over to her place, bring food, eat. I haven’t made it in a while, but this time, success! I brought a fig muffin recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while; very tasty, but a bit dry.

We spent about ninety minutes sitting around, eating and chatting. Then we got to work, intermixed with more chatting. While I don’t usually like working weekends, I got a solid three hours of work done. In between I petted Allegra’s greyhound.

This was all fun in itself. It also left me in much better shape to face the week. I think it was the combination of getting out and hanging with having so much time away from the pups, and from sitting in the living room. I wasn’t anywhere near as stressed about puppy care and personal space until it caught up with me again at the end of the week. Next week I’m giving myself a vacation so that will help.

I did another nine articles for the Leaf project (my favorite: “How to Become an Evangelist”) and another Screen Rant. And I finished the proposal for a new film book, though I’ll want to look at it once more next month before I mail it off.

Once again fiction got short shrift. I did put in some work on Trouble and Glass, shifting it forward to the 1950s. That really seems to have helped, but I won’t know for sure until I finish this draft.

I submitted one short story (Backstage With the Hypothetical Dead) and one query for a column.

I did a lot of research reading for the book version of Undead Sexist Cliches. After I read my first draft over, I felt it was missing something, but I’m not sure what. So possibly reading more on the subject will either help me see the problem, or convince me I’m just reinventing the wheel and give up. Stay tuned for the answer!

And once again I put in more than 35 hours. But once we can take the dogs to day care without worrying about canine flu, I’ll use some of it to take my dog free day and catch up on cleaning and similar duties. The house has gotten messy enough I’m actually looking forward to it.

 

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On the plus side, I slept well (#SFWApro)

And I did finish Southern Discomfort, which is a big win. I also got more articles in for the Leaf project, which will put a little more money in the bank. And as usual, submitted a Screen Rant, 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Spider-Girl (cover by Pat Olliffe, all rights remain with current holder). I even found a little time to work on a short story, though it got squished between talking to a contractor and taking care of the dogs.

And sleeping well is a very sweet thing. I’ve found that if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’ll go back to sleep once I lie on the couch. This hasn’t always worked in the past and may wear off at some point, but for the moment it’s great.

Unfortunately, I’m still spending lots and lots more time than usual with the puppies, and as I said last week, my sense of personal space has evaporated. It’s not affecting the way I treat them, thank goodness — I still have no trouble cuddling and petting them, etcetera. But they leave me with zero space and zero privacy, and that leaves me feeling very uncomfortable a lot of the time (I can’t quite describe it, but it’s a very physical sensation). And that cuts into my ability to work and concentrate. Fortunately Screen Rant and Leaf don’t require as much creativity as working on a short story.

It doesn’t help that they’re really demanding of attention when I’m done for the day (I think it’s because they’re used to TYG coming home to play, and so if she’s out late, I’m the designated petter). So I can’t really do anything that gets away from puppy care. I’ve been compromising this week by putting in a movie so I have my hands free for petting and playing.

Another bright moment, there was an identity theft incident (someone took out a Verizon account in my name) and I got it successfully resolved this week. Kudos to Verizon’s fraud department and the Durham PD for being so helpful.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

The week in which the effects of various things caught up with me (#SFWApro)

One of them being last week’s lack of sleep. This week I actually slept well. Unfortunately as my sleep got more normal, I started to get tired — as I’ve noticed in the past, it’s like my body wants to make up for the sleepless periods I was doing without slumber. So that slowed things down.

The other being the constant puppy care. After two weeks without the usual day off, I feel like my personal space is nonexistent (when I was at my writer’s group Tuesday night it felt incredibly crowded — which it is, but that doesn’t normally bother me). You might not think that would make such a distraction, but it really lowers my ability to concentrate. I got some help this week, though, by finally getting Plushie to take longer walks. He’s been unenthused (to put it mildly), but it seems if I feed them lunch before going out, then simply stand and wait when he gets stubborn, he’ll walk. That means less time to write, but getting outside for thirty minutes or so really reduces some of the stress of being stuck in the living room most of the day. Though I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep it up into the summer — it was really uncomfortable for us today.

(Plushie practices his flirtatious head toss)

So after Wednesday’s day off, I found it very hard to get back in the swing of things. I couldn’t get my brain to work on Southern Discomfort at all, but I’ve still got enough time this month to finish it. I finished a second Screen Rant (not out yet) and clarified some questions before starting on a new book proposal (details to follow). I did get a couple of thousand words done on Discomfort earlier in the week. And I corrected the proofs of my Atlas Shagged short story collection, so it should be out next month.

And as another Leaf Media gig opened up, I jumped on it — writing informational articles for the Career Trend website. It’s another temporary gig, so I’d hoped to squeeze several in this week. I managed two, but that’s still money I didn’t have, so yay.

I wound up putting in more hours than I’d planned, but more of them were research reading or blogging than I would have preferred. Useful things, yes, but more actual writing would have been good.

Hopefully I will back up to full strength next week. Positive thoughts welcome.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

It’s puppies all the way down (#SFWApro)

So earlier this month, we learned canine flu had broken out in the area. Not a lot of it but we went in to get the dogs vaccinated on Saturday. However it will take another shot and two weeks waiting after that before they have whatever protection it gives them. So we decided no doggy day care this month, just in case.  Which means a solid month of no-break dog parenting for me (unless TYG can contrive to work from home a couple of days).

Much as I love them, it’s proving a little stressful. More so because TYG work demands have her staying out late, and going in on weekends. Which means more time as solo dog parent. Up above you can see me positioning the computer so that I can work around Plushie having my lap.

This causes a variety of minor inconveniences, like Trixie sometimes staring at me reproachfully when I cook — why I’ve been away from her fifteen minutes or more! What did she do that makes me neglect her? Silly stuff, but my puppy’s stare easily fills me with guilt.

I know, first world problems. And when things get stressed, petting them does ease some of that. So soft. And so loving. They’re worth it.

But I must confess I’ll be glad when I get some time off again.

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