Tag Archives: general news

Looking forward to 2011… and beyond

I’m probably not the only person who has been reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next one. As I’ve thought about and planned my writing goals for the next year, I’ve been trying to put them in a more big-picture context of a writing career.

My first goal is to finish Doubting River. I should have finished it this year, but I completely overwhelmed myself in the latter half of the year. I backburnered it for a while, and then had trouble getting back on track.

THIS WILL CHANGE.

I know I’m busy, so I’m going to be realistic. Desired word count per day: 500 words. Absolute minimum, must-accomplish-or-else: 250 words. If I do more than 500 words, that’s gravy.

Second goal is to update this blog twice a week. Sunday and Thursday, I think. I’ve been thinking about how to focus the blog in a way that will satisfy my current readership and, hopefully, increase it. The feedback I’ve gotten is that people seem to like the writing-related posts, which is good, because there aren’t enough dog- or farm-related events to warrant regular updates.

My plan, then, is to continue to blog about my novel and the industry, but to focus the bulk of the posts on “A Plotter’s Guide to Novel Writing.” I am a plotter to the extreme, and because I first wrote screenplays, I’m passionate about structure. Those “Just write and see where it takes you!” pantser types will no doubt feel ill at the thought of putting so much planning into your first draft. Keep an open mind though. You might find something helpful for your editing rounds!

Those of you who want to read more about River, Pax, Pflouff, and the rest of the critters, don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve needed more photos and videos on the site. So I think I’ll make a goal of including a dog pic (or video) with each post, plus a short anecdote or update. If you think about it, you’re probably going to get more content than if I targeted the blog around the dogs!

My remaining writing-related goals are dependent upon the completion of goal number one:

Goal #3: Get an agent. I want to attend at least one conference this year — preferably two — and I want to get another partial critique from an agent during Brenda Novak’s charity auction in May. I did that last year, and the agent has requested the full. I will definitely send it to her as soon as it’s complete.

And finally…

Goal #4: Start a new book! I already have the premise. I’ve been anxious to write it for a long time, but I refuse to do so until Doubting River is out on submission.

I’m really looking forward to 2011! What about you? What are your goals?

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Ol’ Man River

No, not my puppy. 🙂

I’m originally from Memphis, home of the Blues, Beale Street, Elvis, and the world’s best barbecue. (Seriously — Memphis barbecue has ruined me for barbecue anywhere else. Problematic, because I love barbecue and don’t get home very often.)

Memphis is a town of music and festivals. One of the biggest festivals is Memphis in May, a month-long celebration with an international focus. It begins (sort of) with the Beale Street music festival at the end of April, includes a massive barbecue cooking contest, and wraps up with the Sunset Symphony in Tom Lee Park overlooking the mighty Mississippi.

Each year, the Sunset Symphony ends with the singing of “Ol’ Man River” and a fireworks display (timed to the 1812 Overture). When I was growing up — and, indeed, all the time I lived in Memphis — “Ol’ Man River” was sung by James Hyter, and his bass-baritone rendition of the song made him a beloved local performer.

Mr. Hyter retired in 1998 and passed away in 2009. I stumbled onto this YouTube copy of his final performance, and it still brings me to tears. You are missed, Mr. Hyter.

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Site update

I’m making some updates to my Web site.

First, I’ve decided to use WordPress as the back end for the blog. All of the old blog posts in each area — general news, current projects, and menagerie — have been uploaded into the WordPress blog. You can access the posts by category, or by tag if you want to read posts on certain subjects. I’ll update the sub-pages of the site to give overviews of the topics, rather than blog posts. The Menagerie page, for example, will have updated pages and pictures for each of the animals.

A nice addition that WordPress makes possible is RSS subscription. You can subscribe to the feed, and the posts will come to you automatically. (I, personally, can’t live without my Google Reader!)

The look of the site will be changing a bit too. I would love to keep the look of the site exactly as it is, but I may have to compromise a bit to work the WordPress code into it.

My goal is to have all the changes made before the puppy comes home at the end of August!

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Dogs

I’ve had a hard time lately. In the past few years we’ve had to put down four animals (two dogs and two horses). Of the four, there’s only one that I am at peace about. The other three break my heart to this day. After losing Aslan, I was done. I decided I didn’t want to ever play God again — and, of course, the only way to do that is not to have animals, which meant no more dogs.

That decision hurt my husband as much as it hurt me. He may not want to be the primary caretaker, but he loves the dogs. They are family, and nothing is more important to him than family. He couldn’t fathom being without a dog, but he also understood how much I was hurting.

Then a breeder we trust implicitly had an amazing litter and threw me into a quandary. Of COURSE I want a puppy. I love dogs more than I love breathing. My mind is painfully divided — just draw a big yin-yang sign up there. Half of me knows the inevitable pain. The other half knows the inevitable joy.

My husband wanted a puppy — which is one of those, “Who are you, and where is my husband?” kind of moments. I talked to the breeder and she made an amazing offer that would make the puppy affordable. But even though the details were seeming to fall into place, it just didn’t feel right.

Then I was reading the breeder’s puppy page and saw that the pups would be ready to come home on June 29. That would be a nightmare:

* I’m working on two major projects this summer. The two have their “scary” overlap period (where I both question my sanity and rack up the overtime) beginning, you guessed it, right at the end of June.

* Usually I take off two weeks (minimum) when I bring home a puppy. This year neither Jay nor I could take off any time. That’s setting EVERYONE in the household up for failure.

* I have not one, but two, trips planned this summer — and may have to travel for work in mid-July as well.

* Jay is in the middle of the project from hell, and won’t get any relief until August — if then. Home is his escape, but he’s still stressed. I’m not sure a puppy would really help.

* And, to be realistic, Pflouff *is* still only 18 months old. In six months, she’ll be a different dog. Six months after that, a different dog again. Maturity is a wonderful thing.

So I bucked up and did the responsible thing and turned down that puppy.

(I can’t believe it. My husband said yes, and I said no. I think Hell is a might chilly right now.)

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No big update

Not a lot is happening around here. I have a couple of big projects at work that kept me busy during the requirements phase over the past few weeks and will keep me really busy in development in May and June. I’m also taking a some online classes, and the work for those has filled the rest of my time. Jay is trapped in the true project from Hell. It won’t end until the end of the summer — if then. I hope he lasts, because before this awful project, he really liked his job.

Blue and Guin are down in Olympia. Leslie, Blue’s trainer and soulmate, has taken him on a two-month trial. So far I think it’s working out. I hope! Guin is being boarded at Leslie’s. Guin can’t stay here by herself, because she’ll go through fences. If Leslie decides to keep Blue, then she’ll see about rehoming Guin — an iffy prospect, because she’s poorly built and really stiff in front. If she can’t rehome her, then she’ll continue to board her. If Leslie doesn’t keep Blue, then they’ll both come back here. I’m happy for Blue — Leslie really is the perfect home for him — but I miss my Guin girl. Still, if there’s a better home for her (and a first-refusal contract in place), I would let her go as well.

Pax and Pflouff are doing fine. Pax’s IBD had a mild flare up. That proves that the IBD wasn’t entirely due to the stress that Aslan put on him — but that it flares so rarely, it shows that Aslan exacerbated it. Pax’s breeder has a REALLY nice litter in whelp, and there’s part of me that’s tempted. Pflouff is still too young though. She’s 18 months old and maturing quickly, but she’s still a “Much.” Adding a puppy would be too (and two!) “Much,” and I don’t think we can handle “Much” more.

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