Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Allure of Shiny New Projects

 Last week, I discussed how I was engaged in several different projects as a way of coping with the pandemic. To be honest, I was juggling a lot of projects even before then. Part of the problem is I get interested in new projects before I finish the old ones. For example, this winter, I want to crochet my son, my husband, and me each a blanket in our favorite colors. However, I also want to make myself new slippers, a sweater, and make a variation on a Star Wars character that I have a pattern for. This is on top of my writing projects. Indeed, part of the reason I haven't finished the Dryads and Dragons trilogy I started a couple of years ago is because I keep starting other short stories and novels instead. (Not to mention how the plot keeps sprawling and how the romantic lead has taken over from the heroine.)

Are new projects really more exciting than old ones? I don't think so. I think we just become accustomed to current projects or get frustrated when they don't go smoothly. Our brains are wired to notice novel things. Old projects were exciting too when we first started them.

In order to keep from being overwhelmed by my desire to Do All The Things, I try to prioritize them. For example, time-sensitive projects like Vote Forward (which ends on October 17) or anthologies with limited submission windows get first priority. I also try to work on a couple of different projects every day. For example, after work, I may crochet for a half hour or so before writing a batch of letters for Vote Forward, write for an hour or so, and finish the evening with a little reading. As old projects get finished, then I can adopt new projects. Some projects do get abandoned if they're not working out, and perhaps that's necessary for one's sanity. Sometimes I stick with a project out of sheer stubbornness.

Are you able to focus on your projects outside work, or do you pick up new ones frequently?  How do you make sure your projects get done? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mental Well-Being and the Middle

 The middle of a story can be the most difficult part to write. Beginnings and endings have their own energy, but middles can get muddled, especially if you're a panster. After six months, we're past the beginning of the pandemic. Many people are dealing with health issues, unemployment, or loss of a loved one. There are plenty of local crises as well. Even if you're not directly dealing with these problems, the changes in routine and the constant stream of bad news add up to overwhelming stress. I'm no well-being expert, but here are a few things I do to help me cope with our new normal:

Enjoy nature--During the summer, I like to go for a walk first thing in the morning. It's good exercise and clears my mind. I don't tolerate cold very well, so I won't be doing that once the weather turns. However, we do have a bird feeder in the back yard, and feeding and watching the birds helps me stay connected with nature.

Try new things--Over the past few months, I've tried new recipes, picked up new sewing projects, tried writing in a new genre, and even experimented with different types of nail art. I'm going to crochet blankets for my son, my husband, and myself this winter--if I can find time

Look for ways to help--I've been writing letters for Vote Forward to encourage people to vote. You can also donate to charities or volunteer your time.

Find a new routine--My husband's board game collection is so extensive it may rival my book collection in the amount of space it takes up. Although there are many that require more than two players, we've found some that work well with two players. It wouldn't be Saturday night without a couple of hours devoted to Mice and Mystics!

 We're all protagonists trying to make it to the end of this story. What's your strategy? Feel free to share in the comments. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Life in Venus's Atmosphere?

 2020 has been full of strange news so far, but perhaps some of the strangest could be the possibility of life in Venus's atmosphere. On the surface of the planet, it's hot enough to melt lead. However, scientists have detected phosphine in the atmosphere at concentrations high enough to suggest the gas is being made by anaerobic bacteria in the atmosphere. (Venus's atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide.) It's not definite proof, and the phosphine could be produced by some unknown method, but it is a tantalizing notion. Here's one of the articles about this discovery. 

If there is life on Venus, does it use DNA and the same genetic code as life on Earth does? Does it use the same basic biochemistry? Is there the possibility of multicellular life? How would it influence science fiction to know there is life on other planets? These are just a few of the questions that I'd want answered. What are yours? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

September: Self-Published Fantasy Month


Did you know there's such a thing as Self-Published Fantasy Month? Neither did I before reading about it in Virginia McClain's newsletter. Apparently September is devoted to self-published fantasy, at least, according to this website. I wish I'd learned about this sooner so I could come up with more ways to celebrate. Of course, the best way to do so is to buy, read, and review self-published fantasy. I've decided to drop the prices of my Season Avatars books and Ordinary Wonders collection to $0.99 for September to make those works more accessible. The website I linked to also suggests posting about your favorite self-published fantasy authors.

Here's a list of authors I've read and enjoyed, along with general descriptions of their works:

Christine Pope (fairy tale retellings and a series about witches; I've read more of the former than the latter)

Lindsay Buroker (action-packed stories with humorous characters in a secondary world)

H.L. Burke (she has a couple of different series, including a steampunk one and one involving magicians)

Charlotte E. English (Modern Magick series, about an English society trying to save magic)

Aviva Rothschild (The Beatles as characters in a D&D type world)

I'm sure there are more that I can't remember at the moment, and this doesn't even include cozy mystery authors who include fantastic elements in their stories.

Do you have any favorite self-published fantasy authors? Feel free to tell me about them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

IWSG: A Beta Partner of Your Dreams

We made it to September and another post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

Our hosts this month are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Lousie-Fundy Blue.

 Here's our question for today: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I would have to pick my favorite author, Patricia A. McKillip. McKillip is a master of evoking a sense of wonder and magic. She excels at description (something I always feel I need to improve in my work), and she's so creative she has multiple stand-alone works. I would learn a lot more from her than she would from me.

I had the honor of meeting Patricia McKillip at WisCon several years ago (It must have been 2004, when she was a Guest of Honor), so I'll share my autograph from that event, even though it's not personalized.

Which author would you pick as a beta partner? Feel free to share your answer in the comments.



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