Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Goals and Progress (#SFWApro)

For most of the first eight months of 2017, my goals have hovered around 50 percent. August, with 49 percent, was fairly typical.

I feel more satisfied than July because of making progress on several stalled projects:

  • I rewrote the first four chapters of Undead Sexist Cliches.
  • I reviewed Questionable Minds, beginning the first steps to self-publication.
  • I finally made it to the new restaurant the writing group goes to. It was ridiculous to decide it was too far to go — though I suspect Location B will still be impractical (further to drvie and further home).
  • I’m getting much better at checking email constantly during work. Due to the amount of email Screen Rant staff discussions take, the volume’s a lot higher than it used to be, so it’s more tempting to check in.
  • I also got an assortment of personal projects done.
  • And Leaf used one of my articles as an example of How To Do It Right.

On the downside, I didn’t get any short-story work done, due to the Leaf online articles (plus distractions like my tooth of doom). And I didn’t finish replotting Southern Discomfort, which is easily my biggest disappointment. I have enough I can start the next draft this month while I work on finishing the replot, and I did solve a lot of the problems with the finish that were bugging me. However, I would have felt much happier if I’d completed the whole thing.

I’m meditating at least semiregularly during the week, first thing in the morning. I think it might do me more value in the evening, but with the dogs there’s no way it’ll fly.

I didn’t get much bicycling done until last weekend, due to the heat. And TYG and I didn’t get to go bicycling at all. Perhaps this month!

As for this week, I finished another Screen Rant column (not out yet), struggled to finish the replotting, and worked on revising the proposal for Space Invaders, the proposed film book on ETs visiting Earth. I might have gotten that one done but the dogs have been very needy this week. About thirty minutes before it’s time for lunch walkies or after-work walkies, they get very insistent I need to take them NOW. Not because they have to pee or anything, they just want out. And if I refuse, they start trying to climb on the computer or the like, as they’ve figured out that gets attention. Sometimes as I’m not getting work done anyway, I cave and take them early. Which of course just reinforces the behavior, sigh. I suspect it’s the cold weather making them friskier, as our walks are also getting longer.

Bonus art: Leo and Diane Dillon’s cover for Man Who Fell To Earth. All rights to image remain with current holder.



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

Who Stole My Mornings? The week in review (#SFWApro)

For some reason, mornings this week were not friendly to work.

Monday: Had to walk dogs (it’s normally TYG’s gig). They wanted a long walk and I didn’t have the heart to say no.

Tuesday: Dentist replaced the temporary crown from my root canal with the permanent one.

Wednesday: Tuesday after writers’ group I woke up way late. And although I always plan for that in my schedule I almost always get up at the regular time so that threw me off.

Thursday: No problems.

Friday: Woke up only slightly late, but still wound up lagging behind.

After each disruption I had trouble getting focused again. I still got a lot done, but I definitely felt off. Particularly today — this afternoon I just threw in the towel and did some research reading. No focus for anything else.

•I completed about nine article for Leaf, the company I’ve worked for before. That also took up a lot of time I’d planned to devote to other things, but it pays, and I like money.

•The book proposal I sent out last month came back — not a rejection but the editor had some changes to the proposal and wanted to see if I was OK with them before we sent it to his bosses. If it goes through it’ll be another film/TV book, on aliens visiting Earth. There isn’t a definitive book on this (lots of alien-invasion books but all focused on the 1950s stuff) so I think it’s a cool project.

•I ran into a sticking point on Southern Discomforts — a jail conversation that seemed extremely unlikely — but after a couple of days away, saw how to get past it. However I’m now at the ending chapters I finished in such a rush last draft and I’m not sure yet how to fix them. Hopefully when I look at it again next week, inspiration will come.

•I read the prologue of my steampunk fantasy, Questionable Minds, to the writing group and got some good feedback. I’m determined not to completely rewrite the whole book (it’s done. Good or bad, I want to get it out there) but I do want the best opening possible (well yes, obviously).

And of course I took good care of the dogs between all of that. Here’s a shot of Plushie beseeching me for a treat. Yeah, I caved.


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

Last weekend: Chores and writing (#SFWApro)

It was a good, if busy weekend.

Normally my approach to tasks of one sort or another — cleaning, paperwork, errands — is to dole them out in little bits each day. That hasn’t worked so well lately what with dog crises and the intense heat (bicycling to run out on errands has been a no-go). So last Saturday I set out to wrap up as many as I could.

  • Mailing off some paperwork to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which is responsible for my Freedom Communications pension now that Freedom went belly up.
  • Picking up dog food. I wanted to get a replacement dog toy too — Trixie’s favorite ball probably won’t last too much longer — but they were out.
  • Replacing light bulbs. Got one set, the other (from before we bought the house) is apparently a specialty item we’ll have to hit a lighting store for.
  • And the library, picking up some interlibrary loans for research.

Then Sunday I had a writer’s work day at my house. Normally Allegra, one of the other members of the group, hosts these, but she was slammed this month, so I took it up. We had a small turnout (four people) but it was cool: extra writing time, food, conversation, petting puppies (who can resist?).

Unfortunately this lovely, productive weekend didn’t translate into a wave of energy during the week, as my week in review post will discuss …

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Despite politics and pups, a good week (#SFWApro)

They kept flying at me and pounding me, just like Superboy, but I persevered (cover by Curt Swan, all rights remain with current holder).

Politics: Well, let’s face it, it’s been a horrifying week. Much like the post-election period, I couldn’t completely keep my mind off the news and kept checking blogs, news sites, etc.

Pups: Trixie and Plushie were really needy this week. Demanding much more attention during the day than they usually do. As they don’t follow politics, I’ve no idea what triggered it.

But despite that, the week went well. I started my replotting for Southern Discomfort and it’s going well so far. Of course it’s early days, so to speak — the first few chapters are much stronger than the later ones — but I also put a lot of thought into character arcs, how the magic works and so on and I think I cleared up most of the problems. We’ll see if I’m right when I reach the chapters where those things are at issue.

I got several chapters done on the Undead Sexist Cliches book and it’s feeling much better than the first draft. Mostly I’m getting the information organized so that there’s a logical progression to chapters and the book as a whole.

I completed another Screen Rant, but as often happens it’s not out yet.

And I did some planning for self-publishing Questionable Minds. I’m definitely going to have to go through the book page by page and check spelling, plus a couple of changes (some things no longer work as well as I thought when I wrote this a decade ago). But it will happen unless I find a publisher first.

I’d hoped to get some short fiction done too, but I put more time into Southern Discomfort and some research reading instead (it’s inter-library loan, so the due date is fairly tight).

All in all, I’m pleased.

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

Confounded by the Cone of Shame (#SFWApro)

I was pumped when I got up Monday morning.

Once I finished the GoBankingRates article and one for Screen Rant (the Sinister Six one) I could do personal stuff the rest of the week. Submit some stories.Rewrite two, maybe three. Finally get Atlas Shagged submitted to Draft2Digital. Work on a couple of other things.

Then TYG texted me that Plushie had been bitten, but it hadn’t broken the skin.

Then we got home and discovered it had broken the skin — Plush was bleeding on the tail. Apparently he’d run up to another dog which had responded aggressively and when Plush ran back to TYG, the other dog nipped him.

So we spent most of Monday morning at the vet, and as you can now see, Plushie’s in the cone of shame to stop him chewing on the staple in his tail. It’ll be like that until next Friday when we get it removed.

I’d never realized how awkward the cone is — it’s very hard for Plush to move through the house without snagging it on something, which he hates. He’s such a small dog even the floor can snag him if he looks down for a second. It’s also hard to eat or drink anything. This makes caring for him … challenging. And work is even more challenging. As you can see, when he lies on my lap the cone blocks my normal writing space (for various reasons the right side of me doesn’t work well either).

So suffice to say, I didn’t have the glorious work week I’d been anticipating. Plus I’m sleeping on the couch because Plush and a cone doesn’t fit comfortably into a bed with two adults and Trixie (who sleeps down with me so she doesn’t gnaw on the bite site either).

As I mentioned this morning, I did get Atlas Shagged published. I rewrote Angels Hate This Man! though the ending makes no sense. And I got those two articles done. Other than that it was just blogging (which takes relatively little concentration) and odds and ends.

Big sigh. And we’ll probably be doing this next week, though there’s a slight chance we can take the cone off earlier than Friday. That would be nice.


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

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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Filed under Nonfiction, Screen Rant, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

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.


Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework