Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

A good day to die? (part one)

Sunday night my best friend Cindy called to say her thirteen-year-old chow mix, Meggie Sue, had passed away. Some vision and balance problems, followed by falling down and suffering a broken leg, and deciding not to put her through surgery.

Meggie was a real sweetheart. She was cuddly and very well-behaved — I’d never have trusted our dogs to walk around in the back yard, which opens on a large pond, without doing something dumb (jump into the water chasing a duck, wander off into the woods, etc.). She loved showing people her favorite toys, but we weren’t supposed to touch them.

She’ll be missed.

And here’s me playing with Meggie Sue during one of my visits home. #SFWApro, please credit me if you use photos.


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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

Crazy dog parent week

So Tuesday I discovered we’d lost Plush Dog’s tags. They were hooked to his collar, the metal loop was loose and he was wandering through brambles. Or it could have been one of his roll-in-the-dirt moments. No way to tell now. But as a result we’ve been doing most of their walkies in the back yard. Yes, he’s microchipped, but we still don’t want him running off without an easily identifiable phone number on his harness (I’ve ordered new holders and tags, but they ain’t here yet).

Possibly that’s why the pups have been so wired this week. I don’t recall them being quite so frantic and excited in the mornings. Thursday (doggy day care day this week) they were so needy and lively I wound up playing with them for an hour so TYG could get some stuff done. Not the best use of my day off, but such is dog-owner life.

Oh, and Plush chewed through one of their balls Wednesday, and had licked some of the stuffing out. Fortunately I caught him before he could swallow.

Then this morning Trixie came downstairs with me for the first time in a while. This slightly disrupted my schedule as I always wind up snuggling on the couch with her. Still, she’s worth it.

So, all that said, how did the work go? Not too bad.

I think I completed about fourteen articles for Leaf, which will help pay for — well I’m not sure yet, but it’ll certainly help pay for something.

I continued working on the rewrites of Questionable Minds and Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I also read a couple of heavy-exposition scenes from Southern Discomfort to the writing group and got (as usual) great feedback.

I got next to nothing done on No One Can Slay Her. The last half of the story needs heavier restructuring than I’d thought and while I’ve diagnosed the problems, I don’t have the solution yet. I’ll blame that partly on the dogs — it’s really hard to do thinky/planny stuff when they’re piled on my lap. And Thursday was devoted to Screen Rant work (not out yet) and the Leaf stuff. Regrettably I wasn’t able to make my 1,000 words of fiction a day on Thursday. I was hoping I’d keep it going the whole year, but I could be happy with “every day of 2018 but one.”

And I worked out my transportation and hotel for Mysticon later this month — I’m a guest. Actually credit goes to Carla at Mysticon for finding a room at the con hotel when I wasn’t able to do it.

Plus I squeezed in a dentist visit. Teeth are in good shape, yay.

And now I crash. Slept poorly last night and I’m done in. But the weekend is here.


#SFWApro Photos are mine, please credit me and source blog if you use ’em.


Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

January goals: how’d I do?

Before we get to that, here’s a photo of the Denver sky, 2008. My sky photos like this one don’t usually work, but I think this came out great. I stumbled across it looking at photos of the Denver national Mensa gathering where I met TYG.

As usual for January, I did well meeting goals — 76 percent. What surprised me is that I did much better with my writing goals than usual, probably because I really thought them out this year and tried to keep them realistic.

I completed Schedule C for my taxes (that one covers my writing income)

I finished the next to last draft of Southern Discomfort and sent it out to beta readers.

I started rewriting The Impossible Takes a Little Longer and I got two redrafts in on No One Can Slay Her.

I finally broke myself of wasting too much time on email.

I wanted to get the cover selected for the Atoms for Peace short-story collection and fix the cover problems for the Createspace Atlas Shagged. But the paying work I’m doing for Leaf squeezed that stuff out. However I did keep my goal of putting in at least 1,000 words of fiction a day, despite the paying gigs.

On the personal stuff, I got my bicycling and walking goals done by default: I have a “weather permitting” out and the weather this month really didn’t permit. Okay, technically I could go cycling in freezing weather — I’ve done it before — but l’m willing to cut myself some slack.

By meditating in the morning, before the dogs are up, I’m finally doing it regularly, though not always effectively (but that’s why I practice). I’d like to do something at the end of the day to mark the break from work but Plushie and Trixie don’t see much point in the contemplative life (“Daddy, play now! Now Daddy!”).

I think you can see why my sweet pup distracts me so.

There were several projects I’d hoped to start, such as finding where some of my English relatives are buried, but I didn’t get very far with that. The missed goal that surprised me most was not keeping the bird feeder filled — I didn’t buy bird seed one week and when the blizzard hit, the food ran out. My bad.

I don’t know how well I’ll do next month, as I have a trip to Mysticon planned and the Leaf work. I’m taking that into account setting my goals, but I fear it will slow me down for the year. But I like money and I like being a con guest, so there you are.


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

It’s too easy … it could be a trap!

When I was younger I had dreadful trouble when I worked hard and got ahead of my self-imposed deadlines. Rather than get a little extra work done on something else, I’d wind up dawdling or daydreaming until my deadlines caught up with me.

I think I’m over that. This week my two big goals — spruce up Southern Discomfort and send this draft off to a couple of beta readers and redraft No One Can Slay Her — wrapped up surprisingly fast (hopefully that’s a sign the novel is in really good shape). Despite that I stayed busy and put in time on a few other projects:

I began redrafting The Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I’ve worked out the kinks in the story, at least in theory, and I hope to get it rewritten this year (most of it’s in good shape, so it’s not as big a project as it sounds).

I also continued working on Questionable Minds. This one’s also in good shape — this is more double-checking than a serious rewrite.

I finished Schedule C for my writing taxes and the related forms (business use of the home, self-employment taxes).

And I started my new round of Leaf articles. I’m going to try to crank out slightly more than usual, if I can do it without slacking up on the fiction side too much.


I didn’t complete a Screen Rant — suggested some ideas, didn’t get a go-ahead — but I did get one assigned for next week (X Character Deaths That Ruined TV Series, X That Saved Them). And while I got a paperback copy of Atlas Shagged from CreateSpace, apparently in all the cover changes I messed other stuff up, so I’m going to have to put in more work.

I also went to my FB friends for advice on a cover for Instruments of Science, the collection of my Applied Science stories from Big Pulp. The feedback was very helpful, but I’m definitely going to have to pay for a cover — I can’t see myself finding a stock cover that works. And I may change the collection title to Atoms for Peace, the first story in the series. I think it captures the feel of the stories better.

I’d have gotten more done, but Thursday I just took off work to get non-writing stuff done. Some extra cleaning. Paperwork dealing with my share of Mum’s inheritance. Paperwork for Plush and Trixie’s dog tags (they need a special tag to use the city dog parks). Various other odds and ends. It’s a lot easier to do all that stuff when the pups are in doggy day-care.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the week.

#SFWApro All rights to image (art by Murphy Anderson) remain with current holder.


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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

I did not smash down the gates of 2018 this week (#SFWApro)

New Year’s Day I was hopeful that this week I’d be awesome. I’d make up for my lackluster performance last week by finishing the Southern Discomfort draft, getting in a Screen Rant, maybe finishing the next draft of No-One Can Slay Her.  I was, alas, optimistic.

The big problem is that I’m the poster child for why people over 50 should get their flu shots and pneumonia vaccines. Twice in the past couple of years I’ve gotten a cold that went nasty: hacking coughing aggravates my asthma, asthamtic wheezing irritates my throat and encourages coughing, coughing aggravates asthma, and suddenly I’m hacking 24/7 and I’ve lost my voice. This time, when I could feel my cold trending the same way, I had the sense to make a pre-emptive strike. I hit the urgent care Saturday morning to double-check it wasn’t anything worse (nope!). I picked up cough syrup and cough drops and used them liberally along with extra doses from my asthma emergency inhaler (doctor sanctioned). While I’m still hacking some today, I’m definitely on the way back to health.

Unfortunately the path there included lots of hacking and because some of the hacking was at night (like an idiot, I hadn’t thought to get a long-lasting night time cough syrup), very little sleep. By Wednesday I was in something of a daze (I’m sure fighting off the bug took a lot out of me too). Thursday I was in a daze, plus TYG is off on a trip (fun one, at least) and prep Thursday consumed a chunk of time (for various reasons, some projects needed my help).

So the end result? Not much done. Today, even though I felt better I woke up late (and I don’t regret it) and I’ve been sluggish. Plus I have the usual challenge of being solo dog parent until she gets back. And they’ve been needy, more so as we haven’t been in shape to give them long walks.

I did get about 1,500 words done on a new short story, checked on an old submission (no definite word yet) and drew up some ideas for nonfiction submissions. I got most, but not all the work done on my next Screen Rant (I’ll wrap up Sunday). And maybe 2,000 words on Southern Discomfort (I’m soooo close to finishing!). And that was it.

Still, beating the virus is more than enough of an accomplishment for one week, especially given my track record.

So cold, even the penguin needs winter clothes!


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

The way ahead (#SFWApro)

(Fall foliage — nothing to do with the post, but it’s pretty, isn’t it?)

So in answer to the question I posed last week, yes — figuring out my problem with the ending of Southern Discomfortwith my journal was the key to fixing it. Wednesday of this week I sat down and started scribbling ideas. And then scribbling different ideas. And then scribbling how to change the ideas I liked. It took the afternoon and some of Thursday morning, but it worked. I have at least a rough idea for the ending arc.

That feels soooooo good.

Unfortunately Thursday I was definitely off my game for some reason, so I didn’t focus on actually writing this. I ended up with only 71,000 words as of Nov. 30, about 4,000 short of where I wanted to be. However I don’t see any reason (barring dead computer, house burning down, major health issues, etc.) that I can’t end  the book by the end of the year. So yay.

I got 66 percent of my goals done for November, which is also a yay. Writing-related goals included replotting Southern Discomfort, rewriting No-One Can Slay Her and completing some research reading. And rewriting the first 5,000 words of Undead Sexist Cliches. The paying stuff I’m doing for Leaf the past couple of weeks precluded getting more done. However it’s also covering my Christmas gifts with a little left over so I’m not complaining. Okay, I’m complaining, I wish I could have met all my goals and done the Leaf stuff. But given I couldn’t …

A minor monthly goal is keeping the bird feeder filled. This used to be impossible because squirrel raids would empty it every couple of days, but this squirrel-proof feeder really is squirrel-proof. I spent several minutes this week watching Mr. Squirrel  (above) trying to get through the bars and chew a hole for snarfing. No go, even though he managed to force the cap partly off.

For December my big goal is to finish Southern Discomfort so I can do a final hard-copy review and correction next year. To rewrite No-One Can Slay Her. And to complete corrections (and slight rewriting) to my Applied Science short-story collection (I don’t think I’ll get the book done in time for Christmas, alas). The Leaf work is mostly done, so I’m hopeful I’ll make it.

The pups are continuing to be needier than usual, and TYG’s schedule is putting more dog-parenting on my shoulders than usual. Hopefully this won’t be too big a drag on my time. It’s really frustrating sometimes in the evening when Plushie gets into his I WANT SOMETHING mood but nothing I do meets the bill (except feeding him treats, natch, and I can’t keep doing that). And after a certain point, constantly caring for dogs becomes mentally draining. I do not write well with a drained mind.

Good thing he’s so adorably cute.

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

Sometimes the good guys lose (#SFWApro)

Okay, one week of poor productivity isn’t comparable to being gunned down by Hydra agents, but it did give me an excuse to use this cool Jack Kirby cover (all rights remain with current holder).

Mostly it was a few more the thousand cuts I mentioned last week. Monday I went in for the MRA (like an MRA for artery) to check my small aneurysm hadn’t grown. Raleigh Radiology were awesome, getting me in and out lickety-split, but the drive was long, and that used up most of my morning before time for walkies.

This morning we had to get Trixie to the vet a little after 7am because some of her teeth are a mess so she’s getting a deep cleaning. I feel slightly nervous about having to put her under anesthetic for this so when I got up I spent most of the early morning snuggling and petting her (my body definitely feels stiff from my failure to stretch out, though).

We also have to add AdBlue to our diesel engine every so often (it helps keep down emissions — though given it’s a Volkswagen, that seems almost ironic)) and according to the Warning! on the dashboard the car will shut down if we don’t. While we have time (the amount we drive is small enough 400 miles isn’t a tight deadline) the constant Warning! didn’t turn off so I decided to take it in this morning, after dropping Trixie at the vet. That took a little more time, then I had a quick bit of shopping … so again, a lot of the morning got eaten up. In hindsight I rather wish I’d taken even more and donated blood — enough time has elapsed since my last donation I’m eligible again — but I wasn’t sure when TYG would absolutely have to have the car.

Since then we picked up Trixie, who is completely sacked out. At this point I’m pretty sure nothing but blogging will get done today. I’ll come up about a day short for writing hours this week.

So not much accomplished. My next Screen Rant is done (15 Things You Need to Know About Apokolips, to tie in with the Justice League movie), and I got some work done on Southern Discomfort, but that’s about it. And the latter didn’t go at all well this week. I had a tricky key moment in the plot and I while I eventually figured out how to progress, it took time. More generally my brain just didn’t seem to be plugged in. Oh, well, as I’ve mentioned before, sooner or later returning to the mean is inevitable.

It feels more frustrating though, because with Thanksgiving ahead, I’ll lose part of the next work week. Plus I’m once again doing some online articles for Leaf, which pay well but cut into the time for other writing (I was planning to do some today, but I don’t think I’ll make it). So Southern Discomfort, not to mention short stories such as Angels Hate This Man or Oh the Places You’ll Go! will get shorter shrift.

While I had been planning to take the day after Thanksgiving off, perhaps I’ll use it to catch up on fiction. But Trixie’s fine, and that’s the most important thing.

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