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20% Cooler

This summer, my little filly gave away the last of her My Little Pony toys to other kids. She hasn't watched the show since Season 4, but it was fun while her obsession lasted. Now I hear that the series is coming to an end the same summer my daughter has come into her latest superpower: riding a bicycle with confidence!


Now we can go on family bike rides! Last week, we rolled past the elementary school and the church next door with the bell tower that marks every half hour. We entered the park with the big pond full of herons and ducks and geese and fish and coasted through a loud, happy, fragrant family barbecue under the pavilion. We followed the paved trail into the woods behind the park, the trail that goes on for two miles through shady trees and wildflower meadows, turning into boardwalk bridges in a couple of places to cross over creeks that cut through dramatic ravines. We passed kids on skateboards and scooters, elderly people walking with friends, people in wheelchairs,…
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Inspirational Motes

Today, I'm having an editing party! Whoop whoop! I've invited a talented and hardworking friend over so we can sit around and stare at our laptops while our kids tear through my house and harass my cat (who had her second birthday party this week--felicitations, Gretchen the cat!). It's nice to have company once in a while along the journey of a lonely and tedious task such as a novel revision. Or working out at the gym. Or whatever you're into.

Completing a long-term creative project like an epic historical novel also requires a steady diet of inspirations, so I like to build fine media content and transcendent experiences into various moments in my daily routines--horror and thriller novels at bedtime, for instance, and progressive jazz electronica while mowing the lawn. This week, I'd like to share a few more of my favorite things.

First is the weekly web series UNHhhh, which is the closest possible simulation of conversations that my husband and I have with our…

Sometimes Progress Sounds Like This

Chapters 2 and 3 are tidied up and cut down. So is my large backyard.


Meanwhile, one of my husband's friends died, not very unexpectedly, but not at a very old age either--the same day that Toni Morrison died. Converging ripples of loss.

Life goes on in the yard, and I have to work at every opportunity to keep it from taking over.

Death keeps happening, and I'm trying to use sadness and grief and fear of mortality to fertilize my creativity and push me to get it done. Flying Lotus used this kind of fuel to create his transcendent jazz fusion album YOU'RE DEAD. It sure isn't a recipe for guaranteed success, but then, nothing is.

So next I need to walk the perimeter of the whole property, trimming shrubs and trees here and there--not too much, not enough to spoil the wild and rustic nature of this place--and before August ends, I'll be ready for late-summer bonfires and one last beta read.

Oops, I Dropped My Baggage

I've been carrying a lot of baggage lately to spare other people's feelings and keep the peace within family, friends, creative work, and activist circles. This week, I tried to pick up one last little thing as a favor for a friend and ended up dropping the whole load all over the place.

Tears, insomnia, swearing, ranting to innocent bystanders, and furious anxiety baking ensued. (My therapy cookies did turn out great, though.) I had days of heartburn and a whole night of lost sleep. My poor husband was so exhausted from taking care of me that he had to call in to work.

This is not normal for me.

I'm used to being the adult in the room. I'm the voice of reason. I'm the one who diffuses the tension with a well-placed compliment, thank-you, or joke. I'm the giver. I'm the responsible one. I'm the one who always offers to--

Okay, so it's obvious how I ended up in this situation.

I'm a sucker. I am too nice. People use my face as a stepladder and t…

Chapter One Is Redone

I've rewritten the first chapter, which is always the hardest part of the book for me. The first chapter of Hollow Charm is now simple, easy to follow, and only a few pages long. No prologue. No weird jumps in time. Just a day in the life of two weird, foundling twins who learn that their childhoods will end tomorrow. (Or as soon as their adoptive father can feed them enough to physically grow up.)

It's a little Hansel and Gretel, a little Cinderella, a little Fundevogel. A little Bohemian, a little epic, a little primordial. My hope is that all of those things come across in a few eerie, amusing, intriguing pages.

I guess my second-draft readers will let me know if I've succeeded yet!

And now I'm off to enjoy some pure Michigan nature while this beautiful summer lasts. My goal is to complete the rest of my revisions by the end of July and pass the manuscript along to my final group of beta readers for the month of August.

Introducing... HOLLOW CHARM

The manuscript formerly known as Matka Danu Miklagarth is now working-titled Hollow Charm, because that is something people can pronounce and remember. After beta reads, I've determined that the first few chapters need a complete, structural rewrite, and that the rest of the manuscript could use a light revision. I hope to give Hollow Charm to a fresh set of readers by the end of July and, if there are no more big issues to resolve, start querying agents in September.

***Let me know in the comments or on social media if you would like to read the next draft in exchange for your thoughts on it! Byzantine/medieval scholars most welcome. Just throwing that out there, LULZ!***

Summer is the worst season for me to find the time (and sanity) to sit down and write, but I have been finding some opportunities to dive in and find that flow state at least once a week.

Letting my daughter play hours-long blocks of Minecraft helps! (Pro tip.)

This weekend, we're supposed to have some kind …

ReVisions

I had a recurring dream as a teenager, about getting ready for the day. I have worn rigid contact lenses since the age of 13, and when I would sit down in this dream to put them in, I'd open my drawer to find a big, messy collection of contact lens cases. When I'd open the cases, inside I'd find a variety of lenses: different sizes, different colors, and even different numbers of lenses in each matching set. I'd start to panic in my confusion over figuring out which set of lenses was "mine" or "the correct one," and until I figured it out, I'd be effectively blind--and then I'd wake up.


When I was about 16, I created this monster collage, above, with hundreds of magazines and a glue stick. It was one of those artworks I felt compelled to create even though, like my recurring dream about contact lenses, I had no idea what it meant.

In hindsight, it seems pretty obvious. I was trying to figure out my own perspective while growing up in a comm…