A lonely road

This month I took a real walkabout, driving out west for several reasons, including booksignings, a master writers’ class and some research/picture gathering for the Elf Clan series.

The first week, I gloried in the Adventure of the Road. For the first time in a long while, I had time alone. Miles and miles of it. I love seeing new places, so while good old I-80 was a familiar friend, this time I drove across Nebraska to Colorado, new territory.

(I’m not counting the time I nearly got arrested in Colorado when M was a baby, when the trooper thought I was trying to outrun him to the state line. I wasn’t. And I still don’t think cigarettes are a good idea.)

Surprised to find that Colorado wasn’t all snow-topped mountains, at all. In Denver, I took photos of the places my characters visit in my post-apocalyptic story, which I’m getting back to if I can ever finish the contracted work I have. 🙂

(I know. Complaining about “having to write.” Ridiculous.)

Then I went on to Golden, where the muse on the mountain, Margie Lawson, imparted great wisdom and I met some wonderful sister writers. I’ll talk more about this experience here.

Unfortunately, my body didn’t adjust well to the 8,888-foot altitude, and it colored the rest of my trip. But seeing the continental divide from the top was spectacular, especially at sunset:

Then back down out of the mountains through all the high desert I ever want to see, on the way to Reno and back. I don’t find that scenery in the least inspiring, all tan and brown and scrub green. The mountains both north and south are much prettier in my estimation.

And then there was this, which is not in fact a bunch of metallic Tinkertoys, but a gas refining plant in Sinclair, Wyoming.

And this, which is called “Metaphor, the tree of Utah”:

See more about it here at the Weird Roadside Attractions site.

But right about there, on the way back, the trip began to fall apart. I was still woozy from the altitude issues, heading back into the mountains. My camera had some kind of lens error issues and quit working. The van’s “check engine” light came on and started blinking at an alarming rate.

I realized being out on the road alone wasn’t really all the adventure I’d expected.

I’d had a wonderful day with B and her friend in Reno, wishing there was more time, finally getting a grown-up trip to the casino (we each went in with $20–he came out with three or four dollars, I have a receipt for seven cents, but B won $60. So I guess we’re even), and a walk in the forest with the ebullient Elbee. My sister Shawna rescued me on the last day and let me crash there while we determined that the car was just needing routine maintenance service and would make it the rest of the way home.

So I survived, coming home a little more tired and a much better writer. Ready for booksignings the next two weekends, and nearly ready to get back in the routine.

Oh yeah, and I received two contracts for more novels while I was gone, one for my vampire thriller, and another for a lawyer-over-40 romance. Seems to me I’ll have plenty to do, staying home cozy in my office this winter. Here’s to the Adventure, and here’s to the comforts of Home after a long trip away.

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Monday might be my new favorite day!

This morning I sit down to my computer and open my email to find this:

BARBARA:  We have read your manuscript, TAKE ME ALIVE, and would very much like to contract it.

There are a few minor point-of-view (POV) issues, but those will be easy to
address.  In fact, I have already marked and edited most of them, as I read
the manuscript myself over the last few days.  The original reader was
delighted by the book, as was I.  In fact, I just stayed up all night finishing the last few chapters. <smile>

Before we go any further, though, I need to know if you would be amenable to re-naming the book THE ELF QUEEN?  Or do you have another idea for the
title? I believe THE ELF QUEEN puts a stronger fantasy spin on the book and is (possible spoilers eliminated here) What do you think?  <fingers crossed>

The manuscript is in such good shape, that it will not take the editor long
to get it ready for production.  That means it is “possible” that we might
be able to release it by this fall, if you would like that.  The only reason
I hesitate to say for sure is that I have to get cover art commissioned, and
I never know what the artists will say about their schedules (especially
over the summer) until I ask.

Therefore, if you are willing to change the title, I can draw up a contract
and have it in the mail to you in just a couple of days…

So….everyone who thinks I’m just a little bit thrilled, raise their hands.  Yeah, I thought so.

Details to follow. Stay tuned, my friends.

Waiting, Take Two

Everything is in flux again, which of course means Momma is not a happy camper.

Most urgent is the impending office move, and the resulting house chaos as we clean and sort and put away things that have taken up that space previously for years. The new window is lovely! The new walls also smooth and painted, thanks to the Cabana Boy’s efforts–and also insulated for the first time so maybe it will be warmer this winter! The new rugs and curtains have arrived but are piled awaiting furniture movement.

We’re also awaiting the results of Little Miss’s school psychological evaluation, which began yesterday and is expected to take a couple of weeks as the psychologist (who’s watched her for four years, and knows her patience) tests her in bits she can tolerate. Ditto Boy is also undergoing auditory processing testing– not the kind at the local hospital where they deal with him for half an hour and say, “Oh, he can hear fine,” but the kind at the specialty Barber Center in Erie where he goes for six hours over three weeks and they thoroughly assess him. We get those results next week. And meantime, the rounds of TSS and mobile therapy have begun, further clogging my schedule with time that is now unavailable while we wait for therapy to proceed.

(In other news, the Captain is having a MARVELOUS year at junior high–he’s a straight A student, even in the honors classes, and his behavior hasn’t caused a fuss once.  Who knew???)

We’re waiting for all the children to make their final holiday arrangements for visits. It seems like we’ll have a houseful, and that’s great! We’re waiting for this election to be OVER before I have to toss the television out the window if I see one more commercial designed for the median stupidity voter level.

Lastly, I’m waiting for November and NaNoWriMo. The edit of the urban fantasy is going very well, and I think I’ll finish in time to get some queries sent out before November. This Saturday a bunch of the area NaNoWriMites are having a meet-up at a local Borders, and that will help spur on some enthusiasm. I recruited my sister to November madness, too, so she has her own NaNo page set up and the beginnings of her first novel’s plot with a single mom, university faculty politics and danger.

I should also get my check and authors’ copies of my first Cup of Comfort book (yay!) soon. Nice to see one’s work in print, I must say. In preparation, I’ve shared my work around at several blogs this week; come see mine and other’s writers pearls of wisdom at the October Scribes blog, at the Creative Carnival, at Modern Families and at Rants and Reviews. Come by and check it out!

Snippets

So far this week, it’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. The county people told the newspaper they “have no clue” why poisonous gas appears and disappears on the street in front of our house. That’s reassuring. (please insert sarcasm here)

On a high note, a fiction piece I’ve been trying to publish for four years finally came out–and I got paid!! Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. You’re welcome to take a peek– My Sad Cuisine . I’ve definitely been in this field too long.

While we have not yet resolved our camp issue, it is becoming painfully apparent that Captain Oblivious has reached a plateau in his functioning level that may be permanent. He’s nearly 13 and has a crying fit whenever something happens he doesn’t like. For example, yesterday at camp, surrounded by therapeutic people, when it was announced there wouldn’t be computer time because some repairs were needed, there followed a 15 minute rant that caused him to have to be be removed from class and counselled in the hall. A similar breakdown occurred last week when the eye doctor recommended bifocals for his terrible sight. He didn’t want bifocals, they were awful, he couldn’t get used to them! Scream, cry, rant.

We all, therapists included, have been working on the meltdown situation for six YEARS without improvement. I think I’m becoming resigned to the fact that he will always deal with things this way. It makes me sad (No really it pisses me off. I am convinced he could control it if he tried. Maybe not. Maybe we’ll never know.) Employers won’t deal with that. Places of higher learning won’t deal with that. How will he be able to function on his own?

Then one of my girls came to me for some important advice. That always makes me feel good.

And finally, the “Welcome, Summer!” edition of the Carnival of Family Life picked up one of my pieces, but there is a whole beach basket full of lovely reading there for folk from families. Stop in and take your shoes off!

Waiting

Some people dwell on the past. Some people obsess about the present. Me, I seem to be always looking ahead, waiting.

I’m the family planner, so I’ve got many, many things that are coming. Doctor appointments, haircuts, prescription refills, family gatherings–all of them waiting to happen, but on my mind now, to make sure they’re not missed or forgotten. (Because, seriously, a lot more things get forgotten these days than there used to be.)

Same for the office. Half the time, I’m waiting on other counsel to send me the paperwork I need to move ahead with a case, or dates for court hearings, or clients to remember to call me BEFORE they do something stupid instead of after. Waiting, waiting.

Then there’s the writing life. I work really hard to pull together a story, polish it up, find an appropriate market, send it out–and more waiting. Sometimes days. Sometimes months. Even after an acceptance, sometimes you wait too–I got a short story accepted last week, and I’ve been waiting for it to show up so I can share the address with my blog readers, but it’s not there yet. My Cup of Comfort story is coming…in December. A writer friend of mine just got a copy of one of his works newly in print–that had been accepted in 2005! Godot arrived faster than this!!

Which brings me to the subject of patience.

The Cabana Boy would tell you this is something I struggle with daily. Moment to moment, even. I am not a patient person. I have always been a very hands-on, get-the-job-done, don’t-waste-my-time kind of person. I multi-task almost all the time, and find it hard to sit and do nothing. Even raising my older children, we moved through life quickly, accomplishing tasks and goals.

What a difference now! These three special needs children we’re raising are not geared toward fast-moving achievement. Their blossoms are slow–oh so slow– to open, and often curl and twist with missteps. Frustration and more waiting! But also, perhaps a bit of education. They say we choose our lives before we are born, lay before our souls the lessons we need to learn. If that is true, then I must come to terms with patience, with waiting.

American writer Barbara Johnson said, “Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” Here’s to a dance with auto mechanics. Let it be.

Am I a writer yet??

While I participate in the writer’s soap opera As The Nervous Stomach Turns, waiting to hear back from agents and editors about my novel manuscripts, I alternate between dark bouts of never wanting to pick up a word processor again and the juicy buzz of hot flowing prose.

My husband is so pleased, because unfortunately he catches the downsides of both ends. But he’s young. He’ll survive.

In the meantime, there are the occasional publishing and financial successes that encourage me. In December, I’ll have one of 50 stories in the book A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women. I’ve recently had a book review published for Wolf Pirate Publishing. Next week, I’ll see in print an article on a topic I first addressed here, dealing with the threats of the Patriot Act as a writer doing research, in a newsletter called Absolute Write. (And I got PAID!!)

And this week, I’ve been hired/selected as the tech writer for Firefox News, not to be confused with the Mozilla browser folks. This Firefox has a cast of authors who cover entertainment news from a fan point of view, but look at the scene with a very broad eye to keep its readers informed. The tech writer–me!!– as I understand it, will cover the gamut from Internet to gadgets to…whatever sounds like something people ought to know about technology.

Shameless self-promotion warning!
Here’s my first article: ReactOS: Bringing Power to the People . I also linked them in my blogroll, because the menu of articles available is varied and interesting. (One of the Mary Sue articles I read there today brought me to tears, laughing.)

Fortunately, the Cabana Boy is a geek, teaching up and coming geeks, and they all have a subject they’re willing to go on about ad infinitum. With any luck, I should be able to produce material long into the future– perhaps as long as the above-mentioned soap opera continues. Now, please excuse me while I sit back to chew my nails till the publishing world calls with my good news.

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Come feel the estrogen at the First Edition of the Women’s Festival, a carnival about and for women!