Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

So today, Plushie sharted on me. The rest of the week was better.

I’m not sure how it happened. Suddenly Mr. Squirrel was up to something on the deck, Plushie jumped up while sitting in my lap and barked — and suddenly I had stains on my shirt and bits of pooh on my computer. ICK!!!!!! Possibly he just backed into me getting up and knocked off a pooh-stain, but it was as gross either way. I’m pleased I kept my cool about it, though I did have to order him off my lap, which had Plush dog staring at me puzzled. And then I washed myself thoroughly and disinfected the computer.

Due to my trip to Greenville, this was a short week. I didn’t get my Screen Rant article approved until Wednesday so I spent Tuesday working heavily on Leaf articles. I was frankly impressed I could get seven finished in a day without massive errors but I doubt I could keep up that pace regularly, even if I had the time. And finally today I finished my Screen Rant on recastings that saved shows and those that hurt them. This time all my photos came from Screen Rant’s library, so none to show here.

I rewrote a lot of No One Can Slay Her and started grappling with the problems on Angels Hate This Man. The big one is that the plot involves a right-wing minister who’s getting people out of hell for a price. If he’s scamming the people paying him, how’s he doing it? If he’s really getting souls out, how’s he doing it? I’ve been focusing more on the emotional drama and character arcs, so the How question largely flew by me. Now I need an answer.

And that’s pretty much it. And to make up for showing Plush Dog in a bad light, here’s a photo of him being adorable.

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It is the little rift within the lute/That by and by will make the music mute

“And ever widening, slowly silence all,” according to Tennyson in Merlin and Vivien in Idylls of the King. Which is why my illustration is Julia Margaret Cameron’s Vivien and Merlin.

Tennyson’s point is a version of chaos theory: a very slight crack can shatter something big and strong. Which is why I’m a little obsessive about scheduling and goals: I always feel that if I ease up, the stuff I miss will throw me so far off course I won’t get anything done. Which leads me to this week’s writing .

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been having trouble focusing on my reading in the evenings. So on the mornings I woke up early, the first thing I did was read. It was much easier to concentrate, and as insomnia usually  leaves me with more hours in the week than I planned, it didn’t seem like a problem (normally I work until I fall back to sleep, which more than compensates for naps during the day).

But this morning, TYG had a sudden schedule conflict so I had to walk the dogs. She would have been fine if I just took them out for a squat in the yard, but I hate doing that, so they got an hour-plus walk. That was a chunk out of the morning, and when I got back, I just could not get my head into writing. I wound up settling for some research reading instead. As I’d hoped to get a lot of fiction done today, that was frustrating.

And that brings me to my second Little Rift. I realized this week that because I keep missing my “1,000 words of fiction a work day” goal, I’m beginning to ignore it completely. So this Wednesday, when it was very tempting to give it another skip, I made a special effort and got it done. Only today, due to the extra walkies and losing focus (there were a couple of other non-writing things I had to do too) I didn’t get it done. Next week, I’ll be back to shooting for all five days.

So other than my Screen Rant column and my Leaf articles, not much accomplished to talk about this week. A lot of things almost accomplished (I almost had Questionable Minds submitted) but not beyond that. I look forward to resetting and starting over next week.

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New trends in puppy care

More specifically, Plushie-care. He’s been uber-needy the past week, sitting in my lap almost constantly during the work day. I can’t think of anything that would make him feel insecure or crave closer snuggles, so I’m guessing it’s just a phase. After almost four years, I’ve learned dogs go through those.

Plushie’s also also doing something he hasn’t done before: when I sit in the armchair, he’s decided he wants up there too. In the photo below, he got up after Trixie was already there.

This is awesomely cute, but it’s also uncomfortable. Even without Trixie in the chair, it doesn’t fit me and Plush dog, which is why I wind up with my leg swung over the chair arm. My back and leg do not like this position. And with Plush in the chair, it’s nigh impossible to do anything on the computer. But I have a hard time saying no to him (or to Trixie).

So maybe he’s decided he likes the chair and I just happen to be in it. Or maybe he really craves more time in my lap. Who knows? As I’ve mentioned before, the dogs aren’t automatons; they go through moods and phases as much as we do. Cute though it is, I’ll be happy if he moves into a new phase.

As you may have noticed from that photo, we got both him and Trixie trimmed recently. Here’s a better look at our suddenly gazelle-like Trixie.

And here’s Plushie. Looking like he’s maybe a few months old. See why it’s hard to say no?

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Wow, Wednesday felt wonderful

Not that the rest of the week was awful. But between the added stress from those deadlines and one weekend getting eaten up by sick Trixie, my mind was really balking at work this week. I got my stuff done, but it was definitely slower and more sluggish.

Wednesday though, was great. Because of a morning snowfall (abnormal for Durham this time of year), TYG didn’t go into the office. She stayed on the couch with the pups, I stayed upstairs and worked in peace. Plus I didn’t have any Leaf articles to do (I worked on them late the night before) and I didn’t have a Screen Rant (I should have, because I’m supposed to turn in one a week, but for various reasons that didn’t happen). So for the first time in a couple of months it was just me working on my stuff all day. It felt incredibly liberating.

As far as the week’s accomplishments go, I’ve proofed most of the Atlas Shagged paperback, and found more errors than I expected. So taking the time to proof was definitely the right call (I may eventually go back and fix the ebook too). I contacted one artist about the cover for Atoms for Peace, but I didn’t hear back, so on to the next one.

I cleared up some of my Impossible Takes a Little Longer problems ; instead of my stereotyped Comanches, I’m using a colony of ET warriors along the lines of a bad 1980s syndicated cartoon (think Silverhawks). I’m still not entirely sure what I want from the villain, but I have some ideas.

I worked a lot on straightening out Undead Sexist Cliches (The Book) prior to the next rewrite.

I looked at some possible markets for Space Invaders, and so far McFarland is looking like the best option. Several other small publishers that take film-reference books have some requirements that won’t work for me, like providing a list of seven peer reviewers who can critique the proposal (or the book, I’m not sure which). I imagine if I were an academic writer, that would be easier, but I’m not.

I’d have gotten a couple more things done except I took today off for some stuff. But it looks promising for getting my last writing tasks for March wrapped up next week.

For your entertainment, here’s a shot of Trixie, in my lap and under my lap desk (don’t worry, it’s not resting on her).

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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Atoms for Peace, Impossible Takes a Little Longer, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

Wet plushness

It was raining Monday. After we dried Plush off, he continued having a bad hair day.

 

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The actor’s nightmare? Seriously?

I mean, come on! It’s been eight years since I was on stage and I’m having this now?

For those who don’t know, the actor’s nightmare is a dream in which you’re going on stage but you have no idea what your lines are, or maybe even not the show. I’ve had it several times in my life, though none of them were in relation to actually doing a play. So maybe having this one Wednesday night is not surprising.

We open with me driving to where the actors are assembling for a production of Born Yesterday, a 1950s comedy (I was actually in it around 30 years ago) directed by my old drama teacher, Jo Yeager. I know we’re meeting in a hotel before we go to the theater (a lot of my dreams are set in hotels), so I drive into the lobby, which the staff take with great aplomb, directing me to the lower floor. I’m figuring how to get down there in my car, but when I actually arrive, I’m somehow on a bicycle.

Sam, one of my writing group colleagues (he’s a real person, unlike most of the people in this dream), tosses me a line and waits for me to say mine. I’m blank, so he gives it to me. It’s something to the effect of “I have to know it if I’m going to New York,” “it” being some Irish play (because there are lots of Irish Americans in New York). I realize I don’t know any of my lines. I haven’t even practiced them the past week! I spent the rest of the dream trying to pick up peoples’ scripts and flip through them to jog my memory, but none of the scripts have my lines in them. I’ve no idea how this resolves itself; the end of the dream is my driving home and trying to figure out what direction home is.

I’m pretty sure the underlying meaning is that I felt really stressed this week. First, Trixie being sick and not really relaxing this weekend. Then having trouble focusing because Trixie was sick. Then trying to make up for lost time because I’d been unfocused. Thursday was when this week’s Screen Rant was due (on Sailor Moon, hence the illustration), and I was much further from completion than normal for deadline day. So stress is understandable, is it not?

Doing Leaf articles and Screen Rant compounded my stress. Unlike say my film books, they’re short, tight deadlines so I don’t have much wiggle room. And because I’m doing two different Leaf projects, the amount I’ve been writing has been higher than usual. When it’s my own deadlines I can always be flexible if I have a reason. Not so much this week, though I did unclaim a couple of Leaf articles I’d planned to do today (four is enough). One of the projects is wrapping up though, so I’ll be handling much fewer the rest of the month (and April, if the work lasts).

I did complete my Screen Rant on the Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask relationship (above is the photo of their wedding from the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon).

I started proofing my test copy of Atlas Shagged and almost immediately found errors. One of which is prominent enough I’ll need to re-upload the corrected text. C’est la vie.

I finished the next draft of No One Shall Slay Her but didn’t make my 1,000-words-a-day quota. Partly that’s the slowing down, partly that the next thing I planned to work on (The Impossible Takes a Little Longer) is at an awkward point that needs some thought to fix. However I got back in the groove today, with a thousand-words on a new story I’m tentatively calling Neverwas. It felt soooo good to write some fiction.

All in all, I think I did well.

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My poor little puppy!

So a week ago, Trixie started needing to go out every couple of hours to take a very diarrheal poop (I give her top marks for doing her best to get me to take her instead of just going somewhere in the house). Not good, but not that alarming.

Early Saturday morning, she puked. Which dogs do, so not disastrous (yet).

Then I went out around 6:30 to wait at the closest driver’s license office. I needed mine renewed and it’s easiest to go on Saturday. Of course it’s easiest for a lot of people so there were already a dozen ahead of me, waiting for the office to open at 8 a.m. To the staff’s credit, once it was open, things moved smooth as silk, and I was out and back home pretty quick.

By then TYG had texted me that Trixie continued puking, so she’d made a vet appointment. We arrived around 11, with Plushie in tow (so he wouldn’t be completely alone — he hates that). The vet said she’d keep Trixie for tests and to see how she progressed, so we left her and came back around 4:30. They’d given her antinausea meds for the vomiting and found gas bubbles in her stomach, nothing more. Usually when she’s nauseous she’s eaten something, but perhaps this was just a bug.

When we brought Trixie home, she was tired, listless and miserable. And then vomited again. So we did what the vet said and took her to the 24-hour vet service. They kept her overnight, giving her meds/food/water intravenously.

We brought her home the next day and she was even more miserable. No surprise; she hates needles and they’d stuck her quite a bit. So we worried and fretted about whether that’s all it was, or whether she’d need to go back.

Not to worry. By Tuesday she was completely back to her usual self, thank goodness. But needless to say, that was not a restful weekend. And dealing with a sick pup was very distracting when the work week started up — but I’ll get to that with this afternoon’s post.

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Urgh, insomnia was just too helpful

For some reason sleep this week was really appalling, even by my standards. Can’t say it wasn’t a good, productive week but I felt quite wiped out for a lot of it. Fortunately I had a good night last night or I’d be writing something as incomprehensible as Duran Duran lyrics.

I have my Leaf articles done and a new Screen Rant submitted, on bad forgotten spinoffs. For example The Dukes, Saturday morning’s take on The Dukes of Hazzard. I also talked to the new management at And Magazine about resuming work there. I’m going to give it a shot, though I won’t have time to spare until April, when the Leaf stuff winds down.

I’m giving myself a mulligan on my “1,000 words of fiction every work day” rule, as my not doing it was a calculated choice. It was more practical to do extra fiction on Wednesday and go light Thursday, so I figure I’ll cut myself some slack. Fiction writing was still productive, as I finished the draft of Questionable Minds I’ve been working on. It still needs a couple of sections touched up, then it’ll be ready to submit, self-publish or whatever. I’ll be thrilled when it’s completely finished and I don’t have to think about it.

I worked on No One Can Slay Her, ran into some trouble, stopped. I’ve figured out the solution though, so I’ll have this draft done by the end of next week.

I sold a story, The Grass Is Always Greener, to the Strange Economics anthology (specfic stories with an economic/business element). I am very pleased with that, of course. I also realized that my list of Stories Out was off — a couple of them have been out so long at particular markets it’s obvious they’re not biting. So I have them back on the To Submit list.

And I finally resolved the problems with the hard copy of Atlas Shagged. I should have a copy next week so I can double-check it’s good to go.

Today we had some landscapers come in and spend much of the day working on our yard (trees trimmed, one cut down). It needs it, but man did the dogs freak out. After a while they became sort of resigned, or I’d not have gotten anything done. Here’s Plush in a calmer moment earlier this week.

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I hate knowing insomnia helps

But yes, a couple of nights of bad sleep left me with a little more time. And because I slept like a log for most of my Mysticon trip, I wasn’t as exhausted as I sometimes get. Goya’s painting to the contrary, the sleep of reason did not bring forth monsters.

That compensated for thousand natural shocks my schedule is heir too. Plushie and Trixie were in the mood for really long walks this week, and I’m not about to say no. Today it was probably around four miles, so we got back a half-hour later than I’d planned.

Morning was partly taken up with TYG and I getting our names on each others’ bank accounts. The death of our friend Neil last month spooked us a little (he and his wife are almost exactly the same age as us) so taking sensible precautions seems like a good idea. We’d inherit the money anyway, but with joint accounts we have instant access. And neither of us is worried the other will empty out the cash and run off (yes, there are cases where this happens).

I didn’t get quite as many Leaf done as I planned, but I planned a lot. I’m working on two different projects so I’m shooting for seven to eight each (the minimum expected) instead of 10 for one. I only made thirteen, but I anticipate doing more next week.

I turned in a new Screen Rant, on TV series canceled after the pilot (both great and godawful pilots). It’s a fun one, but it’s not out yet.

I kept up my 1,000 words of fiction a day, mostly working on No One Can Slay Her. The first third looks really good now — hopefully I’ll say the same for the rest of it at the end of next week.

I got a little done on both Questionable Minds and The Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I’d like to do more, but I’m realistic about how much time the Screen Rants and Leaf stuff take. The only things I didn’t do that I’d planned on was resolving the problems with Atlas Shagged (as I mentioned this morning) and starting the hunt for a cover for Atoms for Peace. That’s quite satisfactory. There’s always going to be stuff I could be working on, but as I keep reminding myself it’s okay not to have it all written at once.

The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters by Goya. #SFWApro

 

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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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