Musing Aloud

Pam's thoughts on writing and life

Reprint - "Memory Boxes" at EGM Shorts
Pleased to announce that "Memory Boxes," a story that appeared in 2010 in Daily Science Fiction, has been reprinted by EGM Shorts.  I was pleased to get a note from the editor telling me that the story made her cry every time she read it.  Such a compliment! (even tho, Tears!)


Hello LJ, Remember Me?
Hello World.  Kinda, sorta that is.  Spring is sprung here in central CA.  My spanish hyacinths and heucheras are out-doing themselves this year, and the salvias in the new plantings are starting to bloom.  Also, there's a new ornamental vitex shrub called Blue Puffball.  I planted two of them, but when the weather started warming and all the other plants were putting on new leaves, these two looked like dead sticks still, so I worried that they'd died over the winter, but yay! they didn't.  I'm excited to see them bloom.

Hm... Hope that picture posts.  It's not in my draft.  Well, if it doesn't and you're interested, you'll just have to google it.

So, life happened.... or ended, as the case may be.  My mother's dementia journey came to an end, and it was a traumatic end to sit and watch.  And then there was a flurry of details and arrangements to make and pictures to go through and stuff, and relatives, and by the time the service was over, I was shell-shocked.  And now I'm having a health issue that's taking up a lot of my time and energy.  I'd hoped to get back to writing on April 1, but the health stuff has taken that off the table.  So I don't know.  I'll poke around a bit as my energy allows, but mainly I'm just chilling out and trying to recover from all the stress of the last 4 years.  I thought I handled everything pretty well but when I look back at all I went through, I don't wonder that the health is raising its ugly head now.  So now I'm playing a lot of games on my kindle and lots of jigsaw puzzles, where I don't have to think.

Anyway, enough on that.  My next post will have good news -- I have a sale to announce.  

February??? What happened to January?
Gah!  The shortest month of the year is almost over.  Where does the time fly off to?

Am over here at the coast listening to the surf pound and roll.  The waves are super high, so it's really noisy today.  Beautiful sunny day, nice and warm.  And this is supposed to be winter.  Actually winter is usually nicer here on the coast than during the summer, because the wind doesn't blow quite as much and there's surprisingly less fog than summer.

I'm being really lazy, doing jigsaw puzzles and playing games on my kindle.  I finished the book "Pax" last night.  It's a YA/MG book about a 12 yr old and his pet fox.  Really cute and sweet.  I enoyed it.

I should be reading or writing or revising stories to get some subs out there.  I have a grand total of three I think.  One I should be hearing my "no" on any day.  The second has a ways to go yet.  The third I should hear in the next day or so if they're going to pass it up or reject it.  Maybe I shouldn't be looking at emails today.

Yesterday and Today
Yesterday, I did pretty much nothing, even though I planned to do things.  I was going to go to the gym, go check on Mom, vacuum and mop.  Instead I wrote two flash stories (or close to stories--maybe I should just call them vignettes) and played games on my Kindle.  I meant to cook dinner and didn't.  But it was all good.  Sometimes we need days like that.

Today, I lazed this morning, as one should on a Sunday morning, then I showered and made the bed and went to the gym to lift weights and ride the bike, then I went to see Mom, came home and vacuumed and mopped the tile floors.  The hubby vaccumed the living room carpets, so good for him!  Now I'm going to relax until 4 when I will get up and make a fish & shrimp stew.  I feel all acomplished now.

We're getting All the Rain today, which is such a good thing.  It's a nice cold rain, too -- which is not so nice for us, but nice because that means that the mountains are most likely getting snow and not rain.  We want LOTS and LOTS of snow up there so we'll have plenty of water come summer and irrigation time, and hopefully re-charging the groundwater reserves which have sunk dangerously low after four years of extreme drought.  It's been raining at least since I got up before 7 am.  I don't know what time it started.  But oh, when I went to the gym, I found out just how COLD it is out there, and if I'd known, I probably wouldn't have been able to prod myself to go out into it, so I'm glad I didn't know.  It was only 43 when I came home from seeing Mom, and that was about 12:15. And there's a really cold wind blowing.  Brrrr.  I just looked at some webcams up in the mountains and it's snowing like crazy.  so YAY!

"Everything I never told you," by Celeste Ng
I don't do book reviews because I'm not very good at them.  But I just finished "Everything I never told you," by Celeste Ng, and oh my words.  It was so beautiful, so good, so heartbreaking.  This is one that will stay with me for a long time, like it's cast a spell and I'm wading through a dream, unable to rise to the surface.  This book will break you into little pieces and when you slowly put yourself back together again, it'll be as if a prism was placed over your eyes, and everything around you will look just a little bit different, rose-colored, gray.  Black, even.  All the colors of a family.  And you'll never look at things in quite the same way again. It's a story about doing what is expected of you and squashing your own wants and needs down until you wouldn't recognize them if you saw them.  It's about not fitting in, of being different.  It's about the silences in between our every day lives and how we never fill them with words needing to be said.  It's about a family torn apart by a young daughter's death and how they lose themselves in the aftermath of grief, separate and alone.

Feeling Overwhelmed
I'm feeling a little--ok, a LOT--overwhelmed right now. To the point of freezing up and being unable to accomplish anything but the very necessary.

Master Gardeners: we're training a new class again, and I'm once again a mentor. We do training every 2 years and I've mentored for the last 4 classes I think. We don't do the actual training, we have experts come in to lecture, but it means we attend most of the classes. Classes are 5 hours on Wed. morning. And since I'm the only mentor who knows how to do all the computer and A/V setups, I have to be there early every week. Someone from the office can probably do the setups, but it's not really their job. Haha, not mine, either, I'm just a volunteer. But it's a BIG time commitment. I said I wasn't going to mentor this year, but two of my buddies signed up and so I told them I'd help as one of them travels quite a bit and is already missing the first 2 classes. Of course, because I'm anal, once I said I'd "help" it translates into me attending every class. ::sigh::

Mom: I think we're entering end phase. It's probably going to be slow and ugly the whole way.

Writing class: I have to write a chapter before Monday. Do you think I've started yet? Hell no (I was in Master Gardener class all day. Then in the car driving over here to the coast. And now I'm overwhelmed.

Slush: We closed to slush over Christmas and opened back up a week ago (I think?) Good god, the floodgates opened. I think I have almost 40 stories to read. I can't even brain around that.

And I'm still recovering from that chest cold. My left eye had a clogged tear duct or infected tear duct or congestion, because it ran and ran and cried and cried for way over a week. Yesterday morning I woke up with it all crusty and stuck together and thought I was on my way to conjunctivitis. I held my hot coffee cup against it for quite a few minutes that morning though and then ran really hot water on it in the shower, and wonder of wonders, it quit weeping on my that day. Still good today, so that's a relief. It was a pain, wiping at it all the time trying to get the thick gunk and tears out.

So now I'm going to go forget all this stress and play games on my kindle for the rest of the night.

RIP Glenn Frey
Am listening to a radio tribute to Glenn Frey.  I'm so sad.  The Eagles are my most favorite group ever.  Wishing now I'd gone ahead and gone to see them live.  Although Glenn Frey wasn't my *favorite* Eagle, he was definitely my second-favorite.  My son is really sad.  So funny that he loves the Eagles too.  He went to see them just in October.  I told him he's lucky he went to see them, it'll never happen again.

(no subject)
So this is the story of my postings.  I have all kinds of things to talk about, but then I don't and by the time I finally do, I have a bunch of stuff I want to say and so my posts end up long and rambly.  Sorry about that. I do mean to do better and post shorter and more often.

Yesterday was a lost day.  I had a cold right after Christmas, had fought it off until Christmas as a matter of fact, planning to let it have its way with me after Christmas so I'd be well for the Disneyland trip. And it worked out perfectly. Except it was lingering at Disneyland--not bad, but looking back, bad enough that my energy was about zilch and by the last day I was done.  And now I seem to have the damn thing back, again, not bad, just lingering and hacking and only stuffing up at night so I can't sleep, but not bad enough to actually have to take anything for it. Every day though it's a little worse instead of better. Yesterday I woke with a migraine that I suspected was half sinus congestion. Woke up early with it, finally took a migraine pill and went back to bed until after 11 am. I'd wanted to go visit Mom, go to the grocery store so I could have my son and his family for dinner tonight.  Ended up in pjs until 3 pm and played games on my kindle. I'm obsessed with Monument Valley right. Great puzzle game of mazes, but it has a story of a princess, she wanders stairs and towers and you have to move bridges and push buttons to get doors to open.  Tricky but fun. I had to go to YouTube to find a solution to one series.  No sounds or words, just music playing in the background. I wish it was a little longer or more chapters, but hopefully they'll be coming. I've played through it twice now.

I'm taking an online Odyssey Class on novel revision, which is funny (in the ironic way, not that haha way) because I haven't a finished novel to revise. I was hoping it would plunge me into it and force me to write it, but I have lots of problems because not only is the novel not written, but it's not fully plotted out. And I thought I'd made up my mind about it being a dual POV but I'm afraid to tackle that and so am now re-thinking that strategy. We had one assignment so far, on the premise, promise and theme, and character arc, and I had to flail around and come up with things. But I also haven't got my magic system completely figured out, and I don't have a bad guy, which I KNOW I need. It's got to have a political structure to it, too, and I haven't figured that out either.  ::sigh::

Our second class is Tues., and I think the homework assignment is going to be turning in a chapter or scene from our novels.  AND I DON'T HAVE ONE!!! I wish I knew for sure what so I could start playing around with it.  I'm hoping it'll be an opening scene because I have one started sort of. Plotted out, anyway.  I have one more critique to do before tomorrow and then a required reading assignment which I plan on doing later today or tomorrow.

So I could ramble on more, but I'll take pity on anyone who's reading and shut up now.  

Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup
My daughter-in-law and son had us over for dinner last weekend, and she made this Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup.  It was very tasty!  And so easy to make, my 8 yr old grandboy did all the work except browning the sausage.  Just the thing for those cold winter nights!

An end of year post, but not a year in review.
Mainly I'm posting because I haven't been doing much of that lately.  Christmas was a flurry of baking this year.  And I'm finding it harder each year.  I still enjoy it, don't get me wrong, but boy it just wears me out, and I've been noticing that when I get myself over-tired, I end up with a migraine the next day.  So I tried to take it easier, but once I'm in the throes of flour and sugar and butter, oh my, it's hard to stop because I just want to get it all done!

Shoppping wasn't too bad this year.  I don't by that much except for the grandboys and my niece's children.  Hubby and I bought ourselves a new backyard and a Disneyland trip with the grandboys -- which we're going on next week.  Got a  external phone battery and gift certificate/cash for both sons.  And that was that.  Did about half the grandboy shopping online and finished the rest up in a couple of hours.

Writing:  Oh, that was No Good, as far as th actual writing goes.  I didn't keep track of how many new stories I started, but I'm pretty sure I didn't actually complete that many.  I did manage to do a lot of submitting, though, and a lot of revising of older stories, but I really need to get back on the creating band wagon and start and FINISH new stories.  And I don't want to focus on flash, either.  Too hard finding markets for it.  But I'm having a hard time making the transition and writing an extended story. Funny, because when I first tried to write flash, I had a really hard time trying to condense a story.  But I perservered and look where it got me.  heheh, not sure it was a good thing in the long run or not.  I think so, because I did have a really bad habit of over-explaining things.

I subbed one of my older stories to WotF last quarter (after a re-working of it) and it ended up as a semi-finalist.  First time I ever got beyond HM, so that was nice.  I received a mini-critique from Dave Wolverton which had some complimentary things in it.  The downfall was the dreaded middle where he thought I could have made the interaction between the two characters a bit more complex.  Will have to re-read and think upon that one.  He also said he didn't think it needed much and I could sell it with very little work.  But it's more of an epic story and the market for that is slim, indeed, and poor story has already burned its way through quite a few markets.  But I'm feeling a bit more optimistic about its chances now.

So that's it for me.  Hope your 2015 was fine and good, and if not, then I certainly hope your 2016 is much much better!


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