Managing My OCD

Managing my OCD means wanting to make/revise all the family appointments with doctors, therapists, dentists, church, professional stuff and everything then entering them into a database that references the family members involved, which doctor, which location, the associated phone numbers, as well as notes about what is involved with each and making the information flow into a calendar that syncs to all devices as well as magically prints to my desk and wall calendars…

…but realizing that the level of organization that requires is highly unreasonable, not to mention slightly beyond the capabilities of the technology available to me.

Managing my OCD means wanting to go back through about 15k of my handwritten WIP and figure out what the timeline should be, seasons in particular, as well as noting all the minor characters and other details I forgot to jot down as I wrote…

…but realizing that the important thing is having a general awareness of the seasons as the story progresses (MC is a meteorologist so it is relevant) and most of the little details like the name of the cat can be fixed when I go back to transcribe the whole thing.

Managing my OCD means I desperately want to be stuck in a rut where my schedule is very predictable and regular. I love the “extras” that come up such as conferences and family outings, but they need to be placed in an open framework of daily life that flows fluidly and seamlessly.

…but realizing that life is, by nature, chaotic, and as much as I want to harness that chaos, I will never be able to do so no matter how much I scale back.

This Round of Words in 80 Days is coming to a close. The next round starts in April. I have some very specific ideas of what steps I need to take next in my writing career. I will build these into my weekly goals. However I have the Pikes Peak Writers Conference coming up in April, and I expect I will gain a lot of perspective, advice, and hopefully clarity at that time. I will probably have a loose-ish set of goals and ideas about where I need to go next, then refine that into a strategic plan after conference.

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What Do You Do When They Move Your Cheese?

Flämischer Meister des 17. Jahrhunderts / unknown Flemish Master of the 17th Century. Public Domain.

Most writers readily come to terms with the fact that we do a lot of work that may or may not ever pay off with wealth or acclaim. We enter the maze willingly, knowing that the Big Cheese is a pipe dream only a few of us will ever see. We run, content with the crumbs we pick up along the way and the occasional bit of fromage that we find.

Other jobs aren’t like that. It is possible to work towards a degree, certification, or promotion and logically expect that it will lead to an improved job situation. Yet so many people are yelling at their computers, frustrated beyond comprehension that although they are the ideal candidate for a job and their resume reflects all the supposed key words and phrases, they can’t even get an interview.

My hubby is in this position now. He’s an IT guy with an excellent resume, but in spite of his degree, excellent work history and stellar references, he never gets a simple call. We have no idea why, and no way of knowing.

He’s not the only one. I see it on my social network feed all the time; people who can’t seem to get past the magical algorithm that chooses which applicants get a call and which get ignored. Of course it’s frustrating. They can see the cheese. They deserve the cheese. They’re more than willing to settle for a small piece of the cheese instead of the whole wheel.

Then they look up, and see some Rat picking up the cheese and moving it somewhere else.

So what’s the smart thing to do? A year or so ago, I’d say “I’m plucky! Perseverance pays off in the end! I see which way that Rat went…I can get there! I can get that cheese!” Now, I’m not so sure. I think that Rat is smirking at me. I think it gets a kick out of seeing me and my hubby chase it down just to move it away at the last minute.

This Round of Words in 80 Days is just about over. In April well start a new round.

I wonder where the cheese will be by then?

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Same ‘ol Song and Dance

I’m finding it hard to break out of the “Life is do difficult and overwhelming right now I can’t possibly slow down to write!” schtick. Nevertheless, I persist. I’m finding that quote more and more inspiring these days. Like the symbolism of a comma or semicolon in the context of “It could have ended there, but it didn’t.” I want a semicolon tattoo someday.

As soon as I hit the publish button on this blog post, I’m going to add a chapter to my memoir about my first year dealing with diabetes. This one’s about cauliflower. (And no, it isn’t a success story.)

I’m still working on the handwritten novel. I’m enjoying that… it lets me add comments and doodles which really helps my creativity. The negatives are that 1) I have no backup if I misplace a notebook, and 2) it is almost impossible to go back through what I already wrote just to remind myself what I named the cat, since I forgot to put it in my notes.

My writing goals have been more miss than hit this week, but I’m still here.

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diabetic-2For more than ten years, I’ve been considered a high risk for diabetes. A few weeks ago, I finally connected with a new doctor (we moved to Colorado almost a year ago and had put it off for “reasons”.) She immediately reinstated the medicines I’d been on before, previously prescribed by my OBGYN as a woman with PCOS and at high risk for diabetes. A few years ago I dropped fifty pounds thanks to those drugs, but I gained it back since moving last year.

The doctor also tested my blood sugar.

I’ve crossed the line. Although my numbers were right on (tested about a week apart I was 6.6 and 6.5 and doc says they diagnose at 6.5) technically that means I have transitioned from “high risk” to “I am diabetic.”

I’ve been dreading this, but I find comfort in the dread of knowing I have an incurable disease. Now I know what is wrong with me. The tiredness, feeling sick, and multiple other symptoms all now have a name. Before, they were a jumble of side effects that were all my fault. I’m fat. Apparently I don’t get enough exercise. I must have horrible dietary habits.

The truth is far more complicated, and I may never truly understand everything that contributed to where I am now, healthwise.

Does this diagnosis affect my writing? Sure. Good and bad. I’ve started chronicling my first year as a diabetic. Hopefully I can do so with wit and honesty. (“Honesty” means there may be a chapter titled Lying to the Dietitian.) I may publish it eventually. I’m still writing a SciFi novel by hand in a series of notebooks. I’m still planning to put out The Cities of Luna in print form this Spring.

The bad is obvious. This disease requires a high level of self-care. I have to ask for certain accommodations at times, but at least it’s easier to say “Because I’m diabetic” than it was to say “I just really need this for my own personal reasons.” But to be honest, the fact that I have a bad cold is causing me more trouble than the diabetes at the moment. At least the cold will eventually go away.

The diabetes will be with me for the rest of my life.

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The Runner-Up

sign-01-seuratI am thrilled to share that I am a runner up in the Futurescapes Writing Contest!

A year ago I saw a call for submissions for the contest with the theme Cities of Empowerment. Reading the blurb about what they’re seeking, I thought “This is what I do!”

For this year’s theme, we ask you to envision how a city, thirty years from now, can create a civic experience which virtually eliminates what today we consider “disabilities.” Further, how might a future City of Empowerment amplify the natural abilities of citizens to enhance the experience of living, working, and governing a city? How might a city create the super-citizen of tomorrow?

I don’t do dystopias, even though they are very popular in today’s market. Although I wouldn’t describe my work as utopian, it is definitely a positive future, along the lines of Gene Roddenberry’s vision in Star Trek. My story, With Her Blessing, focuses on one man’s journey to join the pioneers on the moon and how his leaving affects his family on Earth.

Futurescapes is sponsoring a writing workshop April 24-26, 2017 at Sundance Resort in Utah. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this year, but it looks like a great time!

An anthology including the six stories from the contest winners will come out in April.

The winners will be published alongside professional authors including, Malka Older, Anjali Sachdeva, and Andre Norton & Compton Crook Award winner and Nebula Award-nominee, Fran Wilde, in the anthology, Futurescapes: Cities of Empowerment.

The anthology, created and sponsored by the Office of New Urban Mechanics at Utah Valley University – a civic innovation office in partnership with the cities of Boston, Philadelphia and cities throughout Utah – is meant to turn the future-facing vision of science fiction writers toward solving major civic problems like civic engagement and accessibility. As such, copies of the anthology will be provided to mayors, city managers, members of Congress, and other major civic leaders throughout the United States. The anthology will be published in late April.

I will share information about how you can read the anthology this Spring.


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sign-01-floatingJust a quick ROW80 update this week!

Most days were good… I finished a short story, added to the hand-written novel, then edited and submitted the short story in time for the contest deadline. I have to wait until the end of March to find out if I won.

The theme is similar to With Her Blessing, which is a runner-up in the Futurescapes Writing Contest this year. More about that tomorrow…

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The Amorphous To-Do List

Headshot red 2017In the beginning, my to-do list as a writer was clear. Write an entire novel. Edit, revise, polish. Meanwhile, I began to establish an online presence. I started this blog and other social media outlets, and began to network.

Later came more writing and polishing, as well as querying. Networking came very naturally to me, and although it grew by leaps and bounds, it took a lot of energy to maintain.

I’m in the process of breaking the “aspiring author” mold and embracing the “professional author” identity. I’m updating the website, and changing up my usual to-do list.

An author’s to-do list is an amorphous thing. If it was nothing but actual-writing, or even writing and revising, it would be simple. But there are a thousand little tasks that should be done, things that contribute to the whole even though, taken individually, they don’t seem like much.

While updating the website, I realized that my cover image is underwhelming. It’s a moon image, which is appropriate to what has been my current project for a couple of years now. But it doesn’t exactly say either SciFi or Romance. I decided that a new cover photo would be a good idea, as well as a few new headshots that are more fun.

But there was one problem…looking in the mirror, my cute tagline of “A redhead by choice” wasn’t exactly true! The color had faded. Taking headshots while I don’t appear as I represent myself isn’t a good idea.

So today, I colored my hair.

Not writing. Not exactly writing-related either. Maybe writing-related thrice removed.

I haven’t been as good with my ROW80 goals this week. I can honestly say that I’ve worked every day toward my greater long-term goals, but the actual writing is only fitting in about half the time. I need to be better about that. Even if it only happens five days a week, that’s progress. And actual-writing needs to remain a primary concern, not an afterthought.

Wonderful News!

I’m a runner-up in the Futurescapes Writing Contest! More about that later…


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Squid Earrings from BitsNBots on Etsy! I think they’re cute. Click the pic to go to the shop.

A short time ago, I looked at the entropy section of this site where I list the stories I’m working on. I was disturbed by the fact that there are several which are dear to me, but have been sitting on the shelf for too long.

I’m changing a few things with the new year, including making a plan to finish or at least move forward with them, starting with those I think are most marketable. Contrariwise, I’m starting by writing a story that is NOT one of these, but that is because I intend to enter the story into a contest for which one of the rules is that it can’t be part of something already published.

Meanwhile, I spent yesterday morning in the ER. I have a kidney infection, and am now resting up and taking my prescriptions according to the doc’s instructions. My antibiotic is cephlo-something, which makes me think of squid, but apparently it’s not related. Go figure.

As for my ROW80 update, my very simple goal of writing something six days a week and not stressing over exact wordcounts is going well. It’s what I need to do at this precise point in my career. A lot of it is by hand, which is freeing in many ways.

Have you ever picked up something that’s been on the shelf for a while? Did it change significantly for the wait?

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No Word Count

excerpt-airship-princessA new year and a new Round of Words in 80 Days!

I am trying something new this round. I’m working on a novel, and I’m writing it by hand.

Although I usually type my stories straight into MS Word, I have written several of the stories in The Cities of Luna in lab notebooks. They’re just the right size for a five to ten thousand word short. When I transcribe them, it automatically becomes revision one because I edit and revise as I transcribe.

This is the first time I’m doing it for a novel-length work. I expect it will take a half dozen notebooks. I average about 150 words per page, and there are a hundred pages in each.

When I first started posting with ROW80, I kept track of how many words I wrote in the blog, in my WIP, and whatever else I had going that week. It pleased my OCD to have this detailed information, but it was exhausting. I soon switched to simply reporting the wordcount in my WIP and just noting that I’d done a blog post or two.

Short stories don’t have chapter breaks. I know if I fill close to half the notebook, my story will be over five thousand words. I don’t need to know the exact wordcount until I transcribe it.

In the past few weeks, it’s bothered me that I don’t know my exact wordcount. I don’t know how many words I had when I sat down to write, and how many words I had when I stopped. I have no idea whether I’m ever reaching the magic rate of 1k/hr, and there’s no way to tell if I reach the ever-evasive 2k/hr.

Yet, this also means I can not obsess over my wordcount. I sit down with my notebook, either at home or while I’m out with the kids. (This is one big advantage of writing by hand.) I start writing, and I keep writing, only allowing myself brief internet checks on my cell phone to figure out something like the altitude of the Kármán line, (100 km, by the way) or to pick a character name. I’m finding myself getting more done, even though I can’t back that up with an actual wordcount.

So, for the ROW80 goals…

Write at least a page or two six days a week.

That simple. If I sit down to write a page, I usually write more. But I’m not keeping close track. Next round, I might go back to writing directly into MS Word. I will definitely have different goals then.

It will be the spring.



…are happening in the spring!

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And Now, For Something Completely Different…

space-foundation-globe-5x7Well, not completely different. But I am steering my career in the direction I want it to go, working on long-term goals.

I was honored to be selected as a semifinalist in the Futurescapes Writing Contest. I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner and finalists! The results of the contest could affect the twists and turns of my writing in the near future.

I’ve released twenty short stories in The Cities of Luna. This Spring I will release a collection that includes those and a few more in both print and electronic format. I am calling this first set The Mercury Collection. Eventually, I hope to put together Gemini and Apollo collections as well

Although I love putting out a fresh new story every month, there is going to be a break between collections. I will be putting my energy into getting The Mercury Collection ready, and working on novel-length stories for a while.

I will not be publishing any new stories in The Cities of Luna until I’m ready to start The Gemini Collection. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the twenty stories that are available in e-format, and please check out The Mercury Collection this Spring!

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