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Lots of stuff going on….

As usual, June is flying by. Between MisCon and 4th of July, it always seems like I’m flying around getting things wrapped up for the end of the school year and then jumping into summer stuff. It’s no different now that I’m working online instead of in a classroom. OTOH, I’m less tired from working online, so that’s a win.

The late spring meant we’ve been dragging on getting the garden running and getting in the wood. But at last, we got the garden finished off in early June and it is happily growing at our friend S’s place in Clatskanie. This past week in Enterprise, we did get two loads of wood hauled, plus horse show stuff…

But there’s so much to blog about and I keep putting it off because, well, who wants to spam the linkage? I’m thinking now that I need to write some things but just not publish them. The alternative is not blogging at all…and I am discovering that I really don’t like that option, either.

So yeah. Time to start writing blog posts and timing them. I will post one soon talking about the two short pieces I have available on preorder right now. I also want to post about politics, because I’m contemplating a few things. I also want to write and post something about a few things I’ve been considering about writing process that has solidified to some extent by now. And then I also want to blog about the horse.

Meanwhile, I’m putting this one up. Hopefully we’ll see a flurry of posting soon.

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Winter moods

img_2483

Today one of the neighbor kids told me she was tired of all the snow. I smiled to myself, remembering when I heard that from Government Camp kids who lived for skiing and snowboarding. Only in the case of the Govvy kids, it took until April, of a rather cold and snowy year, for them to tire of it. This year certainly seems to be shaping up to be one of those years.

And yet I’m still not really tired of the snow. I am tired of the -20 temperatures, simply because they make everything so hard. But teens and twenties with the snow? Not so bad…if I could only get my ski boots on so that I could enjoy it. But both my ankles are rebelling against going into the boots, so I’m working with them twice a day to see if that will help (and they are Really Nice Boots, too!). If it doesn’t? Guess the skiing days are over. I’ll miss that, but I’ve lost my condition and strength, plus the way the ankles are stiff? Not necessarily a good sign that I should be doing it. I didn’t think it would be ankle flexibility that would put an end to my ski days.

On the other hand, there are simple moments to enjoy even without the skiing. I’d much rather march through snow than rain. Cold rain that sends tendrils of wet ice into your muscles and bones is no fun at all. Snow in a dry climate doesn’t act like that. The cold, even the subzero cold, is a weight shoving against you that can be kept at bay with enough shielding and heat. Even when it crawls into the house at 20 below it doesn’t possess the sharp, bitey edges of damp icy rain. The boots I have now are much less slick than the boots I had 35 years ago, when I remember slipping and sliding around Enterprise at 20 below. Then again, it’s a newer era and I bought good snow boots for skiing and work with an eye toward safety and comfort.

This snow can be easily swept or scraped out of the way.

But there needs to be routines to deal with it and the cold. Below about 10 degrees, it’s time to turn on the water to a trickle at bedtime so the one junction where the water comes into the house doesn’t freeze (or the meter, either). Turn the thermostat so that the furnace switches on in the early morning, when the last heat from the wood stove fades. Watch the thermometer on the wood stove to keep the temps running as they should.

Remember to drink water. In the dry cold it’s easy to forget about keeping hydrated. Until Mocha went through her first winter at pasture I worried that she might not drink enough. I shouldn’t have worried. She took to drinking from a heated trough easily and continued the trend I noticed early on of drinking more than I remember her doing in Portland. This year, I notice more how she savors the warmed water when she drinks, dipping her lips in the water and drinking slowly. Last year, true, she was low in the herd hierarchy and ran with a herd member who wanted to fight everyone. This year, she’s friends with the herd alphas and has a comfortable place in the hierarchy. That comfort gets reflected in her relaxed behavior at the water trough.

Going outside in subzero temps definitely requires forethought, layering and planning. Scarf/neck gaiter, hat, gloves, sweater, coat, boots. One set of clothing for the barn–heavier because there’s more wind out there and I’ll be out longer than I would be walking around town. Another set for going to meetings or walking around town. Still another set for inside the house where the wood stove makes it quite temperate.

And yet I won’t trade one whit of it for the damp and the rain.

 

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Trial #2

It would be nice to be able to read comments on DW and LJ!

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Testing, testing

Checking to see how the posting works to Dreamwidth.

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Sue and Kate

One of the hardest things about aging is that not all your friends get to live a long life. I got hit with two of those whammies yesterday after getting back to Enterprise. Still processing these deaths, and I don’t know how eloquent I can be.

I can’t remember now when I first met Kate Yule, whether it was at a mutual friends’ Christmas party or at Orycon. Her bubbly, infectious laughter; her wry, sharp, wit; and her wordplay all struck me as engaging and fun. But I was in the early days of motherhood and didn’t have much time to hang out with Kate other than at Orycon or gatherings of mutual friends. I remember when she first got together with David Levine and thinking that there was quite a couple. Kate and David started putting out a small zine called Bento that they handed  out to friends every Worldcon. Cracked me up. Kate never lured me into knitting, but I remember her knitting at conventions and enjoyed listening to her talk about it. At one point, I shared a jam making interest with Kate and gave her some plums and maybe other fruit to preserve–I can’t remember now, and of course it’s all been eaten. But I enjoyed reading her accounts of the adventures she and David had, and talking to her at conventions, and just all sorts of good stuff. When she first got sick, I was in the throes of setting up our current two-house lifestyle, so wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to help. But…a couple of visits, brought over some food and produce. Not enough but it was what I could do at the time. And now she’s gone.

I met Sue Bolich at either Radcon or Miscon, I can’t remember which now. Sue was part of a circle of women writer friends who shared a lot of experiences, and even though we didn’t see eye-to-eye in our political philosophies with regard to candidates, in practical applications we were a lot closer than it might seem. I enjoyed Sue’s writing and meeting with her at conventions, where we could always swap horse stories and speculate on writing ideas. She was one of my favorite people to encounter and gave cancer a long, hard fight. I last saw Sue at Westercon. She was frail but still holding on, and I was hoping to see her at either Orycon or Radcon or Miscon again.

Alas, not to be, for either Kate or Sue.

 

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Not a Netwalking Space post…well, except for maybe the last paragraph

IMG_2109Actually, there has been other stuff going on this summer besides The Novel. We are painting house exteriors in Portland and in Enterprise; I’m helping with the big Portland project (ahem, when the temps and word count allow) while hubby is pretty much doing Enterprise on his own. Considering the Portland exterior is twice the size of the Enterprise exterior, well, that makes sense.

But more is going on other than the Novel, Painting, and Preserving/Gardening. Though Preserving/Gardening is a thing, and will be even more so as we progress through August into November.

Part of what is going on is that the prescription for Mocha this summer is lots and lots of road riding. Once I got her past the half-mile hangup in hacking out, we’ve been able to do a lot of exploring on the local gravel and blacktop roads. We’ve got the hoof issues under control, however the other piece is that she is still going through muscle adaptation to new hoof angles. That means a few consults with the equine bodyworker, and a lot of hacking out at a walk with occasional trots. When we’re not in Enterprise, she’s been going out to pasture with other horses. It’s clear she likes that part of the new regime. The Stall Princess is now a Pasture Queen. Granted, that has nothing to do with her status in the herd, which is toward the bottom.

When I’m in Enterprise, though, we’re hitting the roads. It’s an easy three-quarter mile to the gravel road that gives us access to some interesting loops. I can do a three, four, five, or seven mile road ride at (mostly) a walk with gentle hills. Most of the ride is by ag land, with occasional house clusters. We pass by entire sections of alfalfa, wheat, various hay mixes, canola, peas, and flax as well as grazing land for cattle herds and some horses on our different routes. There’s lots of whitetail deer and a fewer number of mule deer. One three-sided garage seems to be an attractive midday nap site for muley bucks; I’ve seen a four point and a forked horn lounging in that outbuilding.

Along with the crops are the wildlife. We spot feral cats bounding through the cultivated grasslands, shy and wary enough to survive coyotes, eagles, and other predators. I’ve lost track of how many California Quail coveys we spot on a daily basis. I know one covey has barely-fledged young (clearly a second hatch) while a covey that shares the same area has fledged young capable of short flight. But there’s still another covey with young that except for size look adult. Occasionally we encounter a China ringneck pheasant; fortunately, none have exploded out from under our feet. We’ve seen marmots, raptors from kestrels to eagles in size, ruffed grouse, and a distant coyote. And deer. Lots of deer. Last night, we encountered twin whitetail fawns hanging around the road. Big spotty fawns, no sign of mama. They didn’t take off until Mocha picked up a pricked-ear trot to check them out, and then they crashed through the canola fields, white tails flagging back and forth as they disappeared between leaps.

My horseback time is useful for learning the difference between whitetail and mule deer behavior. Muleys tend to freeze and look. Whitetails look, then run with their tails wagging and flashing high. If you hold, then the muley holds. The whitetail just plain takes off. They tend to run more blindly and their flight path follows predictable patterns–often right in front of us. If I were hunting whitetails, I think I can now predict the flight line they’ll take, because the terrain definitely seems to affect how they flee.

Deer don’t seem to faze Mocha. The closest incident we had was when the four point muley buck blew out of that garage almost on top of us. But even then it was a jump and freeze reaction on her part. She’s the steadiest road horse I’ve been on, in the sense that I have more confidence in her response to me than I ever did with Sparkle. Sparkle was a decent road horse, but she had an unpredictable bronc element that Mocha lacks. If things get really crazy with Mocha, I can dismount, walk a ways with her, then get back on and be confident she’s okay. Couldn’t do that with Sparkle. A definite difference in breeding and training, for sure. That said, I ride out with four reins on Mocha. Just a bit of power steering and power brakes, you might say. Most of the time, we’re marching along on the buckle. It’s those other moments when I need that little reminder. Sparkle was a bronc who might choose to react by bucking or rearing. Mocha is flat out reactive and possesses a bit of sting. But her reactivity is easily managed and that sting can be defused. She’s hotter than Sparkle ever dreamed of being but she has a lot more sense. However, both mares enjoy and enjoyed hacking out. The big difference is that Mocha might startle and maybe take a couple running strides, but Sparkle would run with a few bucks.

So this summer I’m throwing back to my childhood in the Mohawk Valley riding the small handful of gravel roads available to me from my parents’ place, only I have many more options. Plus the view on Alder Slope beats anything in the Mohawk hands down. I can look to the north and see the plateau country transitioning into the canyon country, or look to the east and see more plateau country leading to more canyon country and the Seven Devils. South, of course, are the Wallowas, especially Ruby Peak, Hurricane Creek, Chief Joseph, and Mt. Howard. Nothing like riding along on a good saddle mare with a big walk.

At the same time I’m pounding away on Netwalking Space. I passed the 30k mark today and I’m on target for getting dang close to 60K by September 1st if I can sustain this pace. It’s not the killer pace of Nano–I’m trying to average about 2500 words a day, every day, without doing the brutal 5k and 6500 word days I did during Nano. The highest word count day I have so far is 3500 words and I have a few 3100 days under my belt. I am going to be traveling a little bit in forthcoming days so I need to have a few overage days to hit my average. The other, good thing is that while the plot matrix has now become “plan? what plan? we don’t need no stinkin’ writing plans” to some extent, it still gives me enough guidance to provide some chapter outline work to give me a guide to where I’m going now. The other piece is that I think this story is going to come in at around 70k-80k words. I could be wrong, but we’ll see. I’ve hit some points at 30k that I thought would come later…on the other hand, I have two more big plot punches I can throw. So we’ll see what happens.

There you have it–a recent update that isn’t all Netwalking Space.

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And it begins…the opening of Netwalking Space

Just started writing on Netwalking Space, the last installment (so far) of the Netwalk Sequence. I’ll be writing more, and this is rough, but…just felt like sharing these opening lines.

************

“Where’s the data you used to extrapolate your projected performance from the interface of the Netwalk 5 chip with the Resolve biobot?” Bess Fielding leaned forward in her chair, fingers closing tightly on the squeeze ball she was clenching under the desk out of sight of the other participants in the hologlobe conference between Do It Right principals and researchers and the developers of Resolve. She focused on Remy Alastair, the lead researcher for the European-based company who had developed the Resolve. “Because I’ll tell you right now, those projections do not match any scenario I’ve developed for Netwalk 5. There’s no way in this solar system that Netwalk in any version operates at those speeds, especially in extraterrestrial settings.”

Remy brushed a strand of dark hair out of her face before answering. “We project a boost in Netwalk from Resolve—“

“Now just wait a minute.” Zack Hawkins, one of Bess’s researchers and the host for the Netwalker Will, Bess’s late grandfather, interrupted. “Resolve cannot have those accesses to Netwalk. That would assume a backdoor that does not exist.”

“We would need to create that opening.” Remy scowled. “These are projections based on the existence of such an opening. Which is standard protocol for all virtual access these days.”

<NO. FUCKING. WAY.> Will’s virtual shout made Zack wince and Bess’s lips tighten even further.

<Cool it!> she speeched to her grandfather. <You want Mom getting after you for being rough on your new host? Zack isn’t Julia. Modulate. Or else yell at me.>

<He doesn’t need to be so rough,> Bess’s own Netwalker, her great-grandmother Sarah, chimed in privately to Bess. <And if he shouts like that at you, he and I will have words.>

<I’m not going to stand by and watch those upstarts break my latest upgrades!> Will retorted.

<Grandfather. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t going to happen. Chill.> Bess inserted a nuanced command tone. <I’m the one who makes that call, and I’m not about to break that new security programming!>

“We have a Netwalker objection,” she announced, picking up the non-virtual conversation without a pause. “And it is one I support. We are not going to provide those accesses. Find another way to make Resolve interface with Netwalk.” She took a breath and prepared to say more.

INCOMING. INCOMING. WACKO SYSTEM ALERT. The Do It Right participants startled as bright text flashed across their visual overlays. LARGE GROUPING OF GIZMO-TYPE DEVICES DETECTED OUTSIDE OF PLUTO ORBIT.

***********

Oooh, this one is gonna be FUN, I tell you. FUN.

 

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THE Fishtrap post

So clearly I ran out of steam when it came to Fishtrap live-blogging. It wasn’t for a lack of things to write about; instead, there was a lot to pack into the day so that by 10 pm when I got home, I’d had enough and just wanted to vege out.

But it was a different type of intensity from going to a weekend science fiction convention. At the cons, I’m usually rushing to meet people, rushing to do panels/signing/reading, rushing to catch something in the dealer’s room before it goes away. No rush at Fishtrap, not really. All of us weeklong participants had morning three-hour workshops to attend. Then the afternoon panel or presentation, followed by open mic readings, followed by faculty readings after dinner. With a couple of exceptions, everyone went to the workshops, while not everyone went to the panels/presentations/readings (or at least every one). That meant the pace was slower to begin with.

The other big difference was that this was a forum to discuss craft, not business. There was only one editor from one press present; the rest of us were equally all writers. Now business did start creeping into discussions later on in the week, but for the most part we were focused on craft. It was about us being writers, not selling our writing.

Then most workshops had some sort of daily writing work. I think my workshop–the Uncanny, with Marjorie Sandor–had the most writing involved, but everyone was working on some sort of writing assignment throughout the week. My workshop had three evening writing assignments (as well as reading assignments), as well as several in-class assignments. None of the writing work was finished product but I definitely left with either starts or ideas for something like six or seven short stories or essays, as well as ideas for worldbuilding and structure for Netwalking Space.

Most of all, it was about words, and writing, and thinking about writing. Robert Michael Pyle has been a favored nature writer of mine for Wintergreen and The Dark Divide, but after this past week talking to Bob and listening to his keynote speech and listening to his prose and poems, I think he’s now my favorite living nature writer. We shared a thrill over pretty book covers (he liked the Beyond Honor cover), and talked a wee bit about the Klone’s Folly story I’m still developing. I didn’t know about Marjorie Sandor before this Fishtrap, but by golly I’m definitely a fan now. She is one of the best critique leaders I’ve worked with and her insights into the uncanny helped me pinpoint some developments in Netwalking Space. Plus she has written the best damn and uncanny second person present tense story EVER. Joe Wilkins turned me onto short prose poems, and Justin Hocking made me think about the power of lists in my writing. There were many more faculty members who shared lots of gems.

In any case, I took detailed notes during our workshops because Marjorie came up with observational gems including looking at expanding stories in the unplumbed gaps within scenes–instead of writing more and longer, she talked about going into various hot spots of the pieces we wrote and expanding those sections within what we’ve already written to make it longer. Lots of good stuff. I’ve gone back through those notes already with a highlighter, to help me identify key points.

But even though the flow is a different pacing from that of a three or four day con, there were still some similarities, just more subdued. Con glaze didn’t hit until day five of seven. And imposter syndrome set in about day four. However, unlike at a convention, while I was sitting in a swing between two trees looking up at the steep slope of one end of Chief Joseph Mountain and thinking imposter syndrome thoughts, a woman who had heard me read here in Enterprise back in December came up to me and complemented me on my reading then. We talked, and it came out that she also was feeling a touch of imposter syndrome. So we shared, reassured, and moved beyond that brief attack of imposter world.

Bob Pyle’s keynote speech warmed the cockles of my activist heart. I couldn’t get all of his good stuff, but here’s a few paraphrases of what he said:

* When fences and frontiers become one and the same, that’s when we get sealed off from each other.

* Walls haven’t worked in the past–why will Trump’s wall be any different?

* The walls between people and nature are as toxic as the wall Trump would build.

* When we think of nature as something other than us, that sets up a wall.

* There is no “nature writing”– it is all natural and environmental writing

* Natural does not mean good–natural just is.

* Most things can’t be easily divided, which is why most walls break down.

* It is only our silence that allows divisions to remain.

One panel discussed memoir and the differences between memoir and autobiography, with some good insights there. But rather than go on longer, maybe I’ll put those observations in another post. Or not, as the case may be.

One thing that I did definitely notice was the high ability level of most of the participants. Most people I talked to were writing at the intermediate or advanced level, with some sort of publishing history or professional writing background. Not saying that beginners wouldn’t benefit from this workshop, but it would definitely be of more value to someone at the intermediate or advanced levels. A fair share of attendees either had an MFA, were in the middle of getting their MFA, or were starting a program.

Would I go again? Heck yes. My stated goal at the beginning of this conference was to learn ways to take my writing to the next level. I think that has succeeded–or at least, we shall see if it has. For one brief moment I toyed with the idea of getting a MFA myself…and then sanity returned. That said, I am definitely keeping an eye out for more conferences and workshops like this to attend–both in and out of genre. I learned a lot by moving outside of the speculative fiction genre gatherings, and I think there’s more to be learned. My “to-read” pile has grown by quite a bit…and I have some things to think about.

Marks of a successful con, for certain.

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Another spell of hard-charging busy times

Whew. Just spent a week pounding away at the short-term Day Jobbe integrating two different tasks between four different buildings. Talk about a crazy buzy time, enough that I was totally brain-fried by the end of the week. The last go-round, I had enough brain to toy with outlining an interesting new short story concept. This time…I got nuthin’.

Some of that is due to the reality that it’s plant sex season, and allergies make me stupid. The other part is just that I was juggling a lot, and, well, dealing with sleep issues. I’m hoping to get back to stories this coming week, but right now, it’s run and be busy while dealing with things other than writing.

Oh well. Been here before. Know it will work out. I have plans for blogs but the fatigue level has been such that I’ve not been able to think about them. We’ll see how things go.

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New place to buy my books

So I’m getting out there with a new location to buy my books…Payhip. Books will be available in mobi (Kindle), epub, and pdf formats. The cool thing here is that you’re buying direct from me through these guys, and I get more of your payment in return.

So far I have the following books loaded:

COVER

Payhip link

epub cover

Payhip link

There will be more coming, as I get back to the main computer and upload more. Plus I’ll be running specials on the Netwalk Sequence books. Stay tuned….

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