Archive for May, 2013

crossroadsAnother missive here from the land of Not-A-Moment-To-Spare. I have done no writing, and have barely done any editing. It’s all about the garden. Which makes sense, and although it’s all-consuming this year, it will be much less so next year (I have to keep reminding myself). This year we had started from scratch, with no tools (literally, we have to keep finding ways to acquire what we need, as we need it, or just go out and buy them), and without proper space. All in all, despite being so busy with it, due to things that seemed beyond my control, we’re hardening off our plants late, although I expect to be transplanting more later today. So far, the Amish paste tomatoes are in, the corn, sunflowers, carrots, dill, and thyme are seeded and sprouting. The two types of cucumbers, summer squash, zukes, pumpkins, and cilantro have been seeded. And yesterday I transplanted five strawberry plants, what I believe are winter squash plants, and a few mystery bean plants that we got from a friend. He also gave us a lemon balm plant and one of chocolate mint, which are both incredible.

Since when did my editing blog turn into my gardening blog? Well, just today, I guess. There will be a point, I swear.

So, when I finished my novel, I got really excited about the prospect of self-publishing. Mainly because I like working on these sorts of projects, from beginning to end, so it makes sense that I’d do it with my own work. The thing about that, though, is that it is intensely time consuming. Publishing is hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart. It requires sleepless nights. Also, self-publishing speaks to the kind of person I am. I won’t get into that, but those to whom it also speaks probably know what I’m talking about without having to explain. For those to whom it doesn’t speak, you will just have to wonder.

And so here is my predicament: I have a lot of plans. I have things that I promised myself I would do, and hell, I ain’t getting any younger. We have just bought and settled into a home with 5.4 acres. I finally have the space and freedom to do some things that I’ve wanted to do. These things are as follows:

1) Write. This kind of goes without saying, but it’s necessary to state it on the list of Things I Must Do. I must write.

2) Edit. Despite the seemingly hefty rates an editor can insist upon, unless one has a pretty regular group of clients, the income from editing is sporadic. That being said, though, I like editing. I do enjoy editing. And therefore it goes on the list as Things I Must Do. I must make room for as much editing as I can fit.

3) Homestead. Not just the garden. The garden is just the first step—the garden is to feed us through the season and the (hopefully) massive amount of canning and freezing should get us through the winter until it’s time to eat fresh again. This thing—this farming—isn’t something I can ignore. It has been an inexplicable longing in my blood for a number of years now. Although I had never been a farmer, I am from a family of farmers. That is my explanation. I am now a farmer. And it’s only going to get worse. Top things we need to get done this summer: finish setting up the rain barrel system for next spring, construct a hoop house for massive amounts of seed starting, get the compost area composting, and, finally, refit a shed as a chicken coop and build the fenced in area to protect our future egg-layers from the fox, coyotes, and, apparently, bobcats in the area. If we can do these things this summer, next spring should, theoretically, go smoother than this spring. We’re hoping by the third year, we will have gotten most of this down. This stuff is not optional; these are Things I Must Do.

4) We have a brand new kiln sitting in our cellar. I realized about a year or so ago that I need real, hands-on creative work. Writing is one thing. Even editing requires a certain amount of creativity. But I need to get my hands dirty, literally. Many people don’t know this about me, but I am an artist. I spent my childhood assuming that it was what I would be when I grew up. And then, well, life happened. What I’m best at is illustration, but it’s not what I enjoy most. I needed something more tactile. About ten years ago, I used to make ceramic glazes for a tile company in Topanga Canyon, Ca. The company was terrible, but I really liked the work. So, I decided that ceramics it is. Beads, small items, with an emphasis on interesting, custom-made glazes. Again, this is a pull from the inside; this is absolutely a Thing I Must Do.

5) Learn to play the drums. I don’t play one single instrument, and that is unacceptable. We bought a cheap practice kit. It sits in my pantry, waiting for me to upset the neighbors more than we already have. To get this far in life and still not have learned to play an instrument is shameful. This is a Thing I Must Do.

6) Getting to a final draft of this novel and getting it published, one way or another.

Number Six is also a Must Do. What separates it from the other Must Do things, though, is that it’s the only thing on the list that I can pass off to someone else to do. No one else can do my writing for me, and no one else can do my editing for me. The homesteady things are things I do with my husband, so there’s help there. But no one else can make that glaze and no one can learn to play the drums for me. Someone else, however, can publish my book.

Now, if I really consider the list above, number one-through-five are incredibly time consuming. If that is my life, every day, every week, every month—writing, editing, farming/homesteading, ceramic-project-making, and drum-learning—can I realistically expect to throw self-publishing into the mix? See, it was easy to get all excited about self-publishing during the winter months, when things had been slow, projects had yet to be started. Now, however, the ball is rolling on everything, and I don’t foresee winter slowing things down much (no, I won’t be growing, harvesting, and preserving, but I will be—if everything goes as planned—spinning fiber (don’t ask) and learning how to finally use this sewing machine my mother gave me. These are also things on the ever-evolving list of Things I Must Do, and they’re things others can’t do for me).

And so, therein lies the crux (points for using the word “crux”). I do not have a problem letting someone publish my book. I understand that certain freedoms get lost, but, in the end, I need to weigh those losses. I can’t dictate what my book looks like vs. I don’t have time for the drums. I mean, honestly…fuck what my book looks like; I want to play the drums. Or write my next book. Or do some editing. Or grow and eat things. Or make something stupid out of clay.

So, what’s the big deal, eh? What’s all this pissing and moaning about? I guess it’s just that I really do want to self-publish. But I think that’s going to have to wait until I can clear out the space in my life for it. I mean, I could do it. Anyone could do it. But I want to do it right, and so, no, there is no time for it right now. And I don’t want to wait the years it will probably take in order for me to finally sit back and say, “Ah, yes, now I can get on getting that book out!” Hell, by that time, I’ll have six more manuscripts lined up for the same treatment.

I think I have to rearrange my priorities, suck it up, and admit that self-publishing isn’t feasible for me right now. Not if I want to do these other things, including continue to write. On one hand, that conclusion comes as a relief, because, boy, I have a lot to do. On the other hand, it’s a bummer, as I dig the publishing process. I suppose I’ll just have to feel better knowing that, eventually, someday, the time and space will open up in my life for me to take on that sort of project, and I don’t doubt that, when that time comes, I will have the right MS for it.

And there it is: I don’t think I can take the self-publishing route with this manuscript, and therefore I will continue to revise, get to a final draft, and submit it to a selection of awesome small presses. With that, who are your favorite small horror presses? I have a few of my own, but I’m always looking to expand that list, both for publishing and my own reading pleasure.

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This is my favorite of the fest's posters, mainly for the, "Blam!" and the "Damn!"

This is my favorite of the fest’s posters, mainly for the, “Blam!” and the “Damn!”

Although there is never a lack of things to do here on the ol’ homestead, the end of filling the garden beds is in sight. I am expecting to have the soil in place, composted, and the plants seeded and/or transplanted by May 14th. We’re supposed to get rain for the next few days, that might keep me desk-bound for at least the duration.

It’s been good to be outside and doing some heavy work, as it’s kept me busy while I await the response from my beta-readers. Once I can settle back into a less manual labor-intensive routine, I do plan on sitting down with Stevenson’s The Amateur Emigrant to begin drafting the second novel in this series. I’m itching to get writing again.

So, April saw the release of Postscripts to Darkness, Vol. 3, with my story, The Obstruction. May saw an acceptance of my story, The Second Battle of Gettysburg, in Roms, Bombs, and Zoms, which looks like fun. I’m slated to be reading at the 6th Annual Alexander Berkman Music & Labor Festival on July 23rd (details forthcoming), which I’m very excited about. I need something for June. Hmmm…any ideas?

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Story Accepted!

EGMIt’s always a happy day when you wake up to have a story you submitted accepted. Evil Girlfriend Media has accepted my story, The Second Battle of Gettysburg, for their upcoming anthology Roms, Bombs, and Zoms.

Evil Girlfriend Media is a fairly new enterprise and I like the direction they’re steering themselves in:

Evil Girlfriend Media, LLC established in 2011 is owned and operated by Katie and Anthony Cord.  It’s a creative project grown out of Katie’s love of geek fabulous female culture.

The company will begin production of books, boutique items, and other creative projects starting 2013. Lovers of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, comics, and crafty geek items will love what we provide over the next year. If you’ve always wanted a hand crafted e-reader cover, a book that meshed quantum physics with romance, or adventurous female characters- you’re going to love Evil Girlfriend Media.

I’m quite happy to be a part of their first anthology. When it’s out, make sure to get a copy to ensure that there will be many more to come. They’ve got two more in the pipeline, one of which they are still accepting submissions. Go here for the info!

My story is the story of boy in the days immediately following the battle of Gettysburg. It’s got romance, explosions, and zombies, as the anthology title would suggest. Anyway, it’ll be out later this year, potentially November.

In the meantime, if you want to read a different story of mine, go here and order the latest volume of Postscripts to Darkness (Vol. 3).

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Thwack went the switch and as Modestine scurried forward, the straps on the pack let loose like a noodle and Louis’s things made a trail down the path. The sun was already descending and after the half-hour it took for Louis to gather and repack his things, it was coming on dusk. Flustered, he picked a path, prodded Modestine to follow it, and before long, just as he felt surely he would at length fall into the fit of weeping he’d been warding off all day, he saw two figures striding toward him over the gravel.

The man was lanky and dismal, staring blindly ahead and followed by a small older woman. She wore what looked like her Sabbath best, layers of pressed petticoats and an embroidered ribbon decorating a pristine felt hat. From beneath this pretty frame, she muttered such a litany of obscenities that, on the streets of New Town would have made Louis blush.

Louis hailed the man.

Pardon, do you know the way to Bouchet?”

The man pointed west and northwest, mumbled something inaudible, and stalked past the well-traveled pair. The woman tacked behind him, still swearing, without so much as a cursory acknowledgment of Louis. Modestine snorted.

He watched them incredulously as they sped along the hillside, and realizing his one chance of reaching any place restful this night was disappearing into the twilight, he shouted after them. Then he ran. They finally stopped once he’d outrun them and, blocking their way, he asked again his direction.

The man, presumably the son, again mumbled uselessly and made to continue, but Louis caught the woman, presumably the mother—who had still not stopped swearing to herself—by the shoulder.

Désolé, excusez-moi,”[1] Louis began. “I simply cannot let you go until you’ve pointed me my way, or I am forever lost.”

“You can follow us the whole damned way, should you like,” the woman answered.

Merci,” Louis said, doubtfully.

“What the hell do you want at Lac du Bouchet?”

Louis didn’t know what to make of this woman’s language and so dodged the inquiry.

“Is it very far?”

“About a bloody hour and a half,” she answered, and with that, the pair turned and continued on their way as if they’d never been stopped.

Louis called to Modestine, who ignored him, and then he ran back to beat her forward.

Twenty minutes put them on the flat upland and Louis paused a moment to look back upon the hills and valleys of the day. Mount Mézenc and that beyond St Julien stretched behind him, a field of shadows broken only by the light patches of farms and villages that blushed beneath the gloom of evening. Instead of satisfaction, Louis felt the sting of loneliness and gripped Modestine’s bridle tighter so as to not be tempted to throw himself down the ragged slope in despair.

Then, in the gloom, a silhouette moved far down the ragged path he’d just scaled. Louis squinted, and could make out a cloaked man standing there. His face was masked by the shade of his hood, though he was too distant for Louis to distinguish features at any rate. As Louis made a few steps forward, the cloaked figure moved with him. Perplexed, Louis saw that his guides were fast losing him, and so, cloaked figure or no cloaked figure, he simply must move on so as not to become hopelessly lost in the dark. Resolving to think no more of it, Louis pulled Modestine to follow.

He caught up and the group moved along a high road when Louis eventually recognized signs of a village coming into view, which surprised him as he had been told the lake was unoccupied. Soon, he found himself caught amongst the bustling closing of the day—cattle lurched down the road from pasture, driven by children; women dashed past on horses, legs astride and wearing caps.

Louis stopped a dirty-faced, black-haired boy.

Pardon,” he said. “What village is this?”

“Bouchet St Nicolas,” the child said and moved ahead to rustle his small herd.

Louis stopped abruptly and Modestine followed suit with no questions asked. His shoulders slumped, his chin met his chest which tightened in the grasp of disappointment. The two strange peasants had lead him exactly a mile south of the lake. Ahead, the couple had blended with the assembly and would disappear from Louis’s life. The cord of his basket scored painfully into his shoulder and his whipping arm ached heavily at his side. With a sigh, he feebly stopped another child.

“Which way to the inn?”

[1] “I’m sorry, excuse me.”

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