emergence (and Thanksgiving 2018)

The pit was dreary, my friends, and deep.

For 22 days, I moved. For 22 days, I unloaded, unpacked, organized, painted, culled unnecessary old things, bought necessary new things, spent hours at Home Depot and Target, went back to Home Depot again for one more thing, went back to Home Depot again for one more thing, threw a slightly subdued Thanksgiving party, gave up on Christmas shopping and just ordered a bunch of toys off Amazon, handmade 40 Christmas cards, and decorated, decorated, decorated.

For 22 days, I didn’t write! At all!! D: D: D:

I haven’t had a writing gap longer than a couple of days since the dark month after my second child was born. That was about a year and a half ago. I always stumble in November because of holiday commitments, but the move really kicked things into high gear.

I know that once I start a project, it’s painful as hell to bounce in and out of project mode, so I decided to buckle down and finish my New House To Do List as quickly as possible, rather than spend months of weekends doing one piece at a time.

Anyway, it took 22 days.

But I’m back, baby! In approximately two hours one hour, naptime will begin, and I shall finish reducing the word count on a synopsis I wrote a month ago, and then I shall very grimly contemplate how to next prioritize my time.

Knock out some short stories, because I have lamentably little on submission? Or dive into research for 2019 Book in order to fill in the outline? Or dive into the outline in order to suss out what I need to research?

Wish me luck!

And finally, a couple of subdued pics from subdued Itsa Me, Thanksgiving!

mario thanksgiving

Itsa me, Italian stereotype!

thanksgiving dinner

Itsa me, Thanksgiving lasagna!

We had already planned a lasagna regardless of the theme. I know what you’re thinking: it’s supposed to be a Christmas lasagna! To which I say: nah, nah, Christmas is for fish.

Now, away! I have naptimes to exploit!

Mr. and Mrs. Cat are couch surfing!

or: Papa Lindsey’s Revenge

I’ve been reluctant to move out of our amateurishly haunted house. Soooo there’s a yawning hellmouth in the bathroom. Soooo toys and appliances turn on at will and there’s no indication whether the grave marker near the creek is for a dead pet or a deranged handyman felled by one of his own numerous electrical additions.

It was a weird, spider-infested ghost house, but it was my weird, spider-infested ghost house! We decided to move, for assorted Reasons, but to keep it short: the decision was bittersweet.

And based on the problems we’ve had getting out the door, I’d say the house isn’t keen on letting us go, either.

We went on the market in July. There commenced a terrible heatwave in which I struggled to keep my home and children clean and presentable and somehow cool for multiple visitors per week. There commenced numerous weekends of repair work and clogged pipes and a leaking fridge and my brother moving out of our converted garage and leaving behind some horrific bachelor pad filth (even though he isn’t even really a bachelor, he’s a single-ish dad with two tornadoes for children).

After three months of scrub pads and bleach and repainting inside and outside, and endless yard work as summer turned to autumn and leaves began to fall–then, in October, at last, we accepted an offer!

And our buyers have been the biggest pains in the asses, with a semi-retired agent who doesn’t understand the paperwork or how to use DocuSign, and a buyer with a laundry-list of truly minuscule fix-it requests (despite intending to buy the house for her son, who is a handyman), and the son, who wants to turn the property into a hippie commune (which is fine, enjoy) but who has a tendency to show up or overstay his welcome after appointments, leading me to believe I’ll soon be murdered and buried next to whatever’s in the creek.

Cuz the house just kept on throwing new kinks at us. Mostly the aforementioned petty fix-it requests (the diverter valve on the bathtub faucet sticks slightly?? fine, I hope you enjoy this $10 replacement), but then came the biggest drama of all: the septic report.

There commenced two weeks of chaos because our report didn’t include a phrase Mr. Semi-Retired Agent wanted it to include. We had an inspection that recommended a single repair, and a contractor who confirmed he had completed the repair. Good enough? NO. It needed the phrase!! But the inspector wouldn’t amend the report to include the repair because he only did inspections, and the contractor wouldn’t fill out an inspection because he only did repairs, AND ANYWAY it took a comical number of phone calls, texts, emails, and dollars to fix.

[Meanwhile, there was much chaos going on with our new home purchase as well, mostly revolving around a ludicrous solar lease we wanted removed; but this post isn’t about that. Leased solar is a scam, y’all.]

At last! we thought, like the fools we are, that’s it.

Except, dear reader, that was not it. Papa Lindsey had one more trick up his sleeve with which to torment us from beyond the grave: the termite report.

There was a small amount of wood damage when we first moved in that we’d never taken care of. The time had come. We got two estimates. One was significantly cheaper but included a recommendation to have the house tented, “just in case.”

Could we stay in our home till close of escrow and have the house tented immediately after, to avoid being displaced with a 1yo and a 3yo? Of course not. (Instead, our buyers asked, could we move out early and let them move in? UM, NO.)

We already knew we weren’t getting the keys to our new place till the 18th, but we had a place to stay lined up from the 12th onward. We just had to camp out on our property for one weekend, and then we’d have a temporary house-sitting arrangement to get us through the gap.

I spent all day Wednesday packing (the kids’ toys, alas, had to be out till the last minute). We spent all day Thursday loading the vast majority of our belongings into a storage pod, and some essentials into the vacant converted garage. We spent hours Friday morning moving freebies to the curb, cleaning the house, and babyproofing the garage for three days’ habitation.

My husband went to work.

The termite company arrived, and promptly informed me there was a single pipe connecting the properties, and there was a chance stray gas might reach the detached garage, and therefore we had to go. Like, now. Like, within the next two hours.

My husband came home.

There commenced much packing of cars, and disposing of trash, and rounding up of cats. We are now in a hotel until our cat-sitter and temp house each become available on Monday. The kids are bored as hell, the cats are confused, and my entire body is one big overtaxed muscle.

cats at hotel

“But why?”

I tip my hat to you, Papa Lindsey. See you in hell.

the eleventh hour

Oh no oh no oh no, it’s November. It’s November, and I’m moving out in one week, then couch surfing with two small children for a week, then moving in to our new home and immediately hosting Nintendo Thanksgiving!

I was frantic to finish editing my current WIP (Project 2017) last month, knowing how hard it would be to get my momentum back after a whirlwind of moving and holidays. And…

I DID IT!!!

P1030262

Okay, I’m still tweaking a couple bits of dialogue here and there, but essentially draft five is done, in this, the eleventh month of the year two thousand eighteen.

Which means… I did not write a new book in 2018. D: I thought I had accepted this fact months ago, but it still stings. On the flip side, I did get extremely serious about the editing and submission process, which is a workflow I had to learn sooner rather than later.

I’m not going to drive myself wild for the next two months to artificially inflate my word count for the year. Instead, I’m going to work on some short stories, hit my reading goal, and start noodling with the outline for my next book.

[Aside: whose terrible idea was it to put NaNoWriMo in November? Once in a while I feel a vague temptation to join in, but it is immediately shut down by the knowledge that November is THE MOST HECTIC MONTH OF THE ENTIRE YEAR.]

Anyway.

I’ll post an obligatory New Year’s goals post at the end of the year, but I already know that the gist of it will be:

  • patiently (PATIENTLY) await my partial/full responses for Project 2016
  • prep Project 2017 for the query process, should Project 2016 be passed upon
  • and then gleefully, gleefully, gleefully dive into Project 2019, the seeds of which were sown in a brainstorming notebook back in 2015, and which have been growing, growing, growing ever since

I am extremely excited and extremely nervous about Project 2019. I’ve been putting it off for years, convinced I couldn’t do the concept justice. Well, I’m finally ready! I’ve had the plot, structure, and supporting cast in place this entire time. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the main character–which is bizarre for me, since that usually comes first.

But I’ve got a lock on her now. I’m definitely gonna make my beta readers cry. All I have to do now is…

*hyperventilates*

WRITE IT.

Mr. and Mrs. Cat are moving!

The blog has been quiet this month (and will continue to be, my apologies) because Mr. and Mrs. Cat are officially moving! We’ve got to be out of our house in one month, after which there’s a six day gap before we get the keys to our new place. So let’s all hope that nothing falls apart or we’ll have no place to stay and no rental set up in advance, wooo!

NATURALLY everything came together such that we’ll be moving four days before Thanksgiving. Luckily for everyone involved, I’m an intense packer and culler of unnecessary belongings, so in a couple of days I can orchestrate the unpacking of everything except my books.

Nobody else is allowed to touch my books.

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So many books…

Did I mention we’ll have one week till Thanksgiving? If you think this means I’ll be forgoing my annual tradition of themed sibling Thanksgiving dinner, you are 100% wrong.

This year’s theme is Nintendo. There will be costumes! There will be themed foods and drinks! There will be a filthy bout of Loaded Questions followed by Mario Kart! Children will cry as their parents absolutely destroy them on an obsolete gaming console, a slumber party will ensue, and my new home will be broken in with style.

My life: to be continued…

SDCC 2018!!

Yes, it did take me a week-and-a-half to recover from San Diego Comic-Con this year, why do you ask?? I’m only packing and deep-cleaning my house and taking care of two kids under three and I never go out anymore, much less three days in a row ahahaha anyway.

This was the best SDCC I’ve had in years. It was so low-key and relaxed. I only endured one long line (for The Good Place panel on Saturday, which was amaazeballs) and otherwise only committed to panels I could stroll up to half an hour beforehand. There were more authors this year, so I got a good dose of book content and signings, and my husband peeled off for his usual comics.

There was, of course, fab cosplay all around.

Frankly, the departure of major Disney properties (*sigh* goodbye Marvel and Star Wars) is kind of good for the SDCC vibe. There was no Hall H mania this year. I felt no desire to camp out, and I was shocked to discover on Saturday morning that there were still wristbands left for the big room. You’re telling me…nobody needed to camp?? I mean, they did, because you kind of do it for the perverse badge of honor and also to scramble for front-third seats. But you didn’t have to?? How the mighty Hall H has fallen.

Even though the major panel rooms weren’t soaking up thousands of extra bodies in line, the Exhibit Hall was not outrageously overcrowded as a result! (Another problem in previous years.) The external programming has expanded considerably, drawing bodies outside of the convention center. And, perhaps even more importantly… SDCC finally instituted an online raffle system for folks to win shopping time slots at the major toy booths!

This sounds convoluted but oh my goodness what a relief. The entire middle of the hall was usually impossible to squeeze through due to layer after layer of lines circling Funko, Hasbro, and UCC, and this eliminated them. It was always a gamble whether you managed to walk by at the exact moment they opened the line for a new chunk of bodies, so the element of chance was already there. The raffle just decided the chance in advance.

So! My accomplishments! I scored a signed arc of Robert Jackson Bennett’s new book, Foundryside, which I’ve been coveting for months. I bought Spinning Silver, the new Naomi Novik book, and also got it signed.

I went to some really fun book panels, including one on apocalyptic fiction with Emily Suvada, Cory Doctorow, Elizabeth Hand, and Scott Westerfeld, which was surprisingly funny and gave me a lot of food for thought. I also went to a fantasy panel just to see Nalo Hopkinson and was not disappointed. 😀 😀

nalo

Then Saturday was TV day, with the hilarious aforementioned The Good Place panel, and later Cosmos, which was also hilarious and thought-provoking and very, very tactful when discussing science in politics.

Outside the convention center we found a Good Place activation with flying shrimp carousel; a Shark Week shark; a Hulk hug photo op; and the original Ecto 1 ghostbusting car with grody jumpsuits to put on!

hulk hug

Oh, and of course: ALLLLLL THE BUTTON AND PIN SWAG!!! Including this sweet Out of Print library card pouch to keep my buttons safe while shopping. XD By the way, I waited half an hour in line for that San Diego exclusive Golden Girls pin, ahaha oh San Diego Comic-Con, you do drive us to do ridiculous things.

sdcc 2018 swag

sooo i’m also a sucker for cats and Star Trek and therefore Star Trek cats

Til next year!

convention center

pre-SDCC 2018!

It’s here, it’s here, San Diego Comic-Con is here!

July is second Christmas for San Diego, because July means all of downtown and a perplexing amount of not-downtown transforms into a pop culture wonderland for an all-too-brief and all-too-traffic-congested period of time.

SDCC programming alone overflows the convention center, the baseball stadium, multiple hotels, the public library, and a theatre. All of the nearby bars, restaurants, art galleries, and other businesses at least decorate for the occasion, if not put up displays and tie-in specials. The tallest buildings get covered in enormous advertisements for new shows. The buses and trolleys put on skins, plus SDCC runs an elaborate shuttle system all weekend to transport folks to Hotel Circle out in the valley. It’s…gloriously excessive.

The convention’s official attendance maxes out at about 130,000 due to fire code, but huge numbers of non-attendees also flock downtown, to people-watch, to sight-see, and to engage in the growing number of off-site attractions that are open to the public. Bye-bye parking lots, hello additional sitcom activation sites.

One year I was trying to sleep in an overnight line along the waterfront, and some girls laughed at us as they drunkenly departed a Youtube yacht party. Excuse me, there would not have been a yacht party if not for us doofuses sleeping on the concrete, thank you!

What I’m saying is, Comic-Con has something for everyone. Sometimes you end up sleeping against the wall of a park bathroom or in front of a haunted maze to see it, that’s all.

This year I’ve got some book panels on my itinerary, plus a couple of signings, off-site events, and my usual merchandising scavenger hunt. My button bag will soon be groaning with the weight of additional enamel pins.

Most of my panels should be fairly easy to get into (most of the impossible crush is reserved for movies and TV; books, comics, and the educational bits are more accessible). The only one we’re going to spend hours in line for this year is The Good Place on Saturday. I know the Indigo Ballroom well, and I believe our crack-of-dawn plan is sound. Wish us luck!! We also pre-registered for The Good Place off-site activity, which HAS BEEN SPOTTED IN THE WILD:

good place

GET ME SOME OF THAT YOGURT

I’ve got my badges. I’ve got my parking pass. I’ve got my button bag. I’ve got lunch supplies, a water bottle, suntan lotion, and reading material.

The only thing I don’t have is… ANYTHING GOOD TO WEAR!! X( I’m still shedding baby weight, so none of my costumes fit. I’ve got comfy shoes that don’t go with my clothes, or comfy clothes that don’t go with my shoes.

So I suppose I better run out to the store for better shoes! And my costumes shall wait at home, pining sadly for 2019.

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Next time, dear friends, next time

one year in the doldrums

Yikes, as of last Friday, I have been staying-at-home for ONE YEAR. Certain individual months took an eternity to pass, yet somehow the year zoomed by. My squalling infant is now climbing and crawling and aggressively hugging cats. My chatty toddler is even chattier and the size of a grown man, bless their tall dad genes.

UNTITLED

BEFORE and AFTER

In the past year I…had that second baby! Fed her approximately 2,000 times! Changed a comparable number of diapers! Made my first two professional short story sales! Saw the first one go live! Eagerly started chasing the third!

I edited my 2017 book! Then I spent a great deal of time making a query package for my 2016 book! Then I heavily edited my 2016 book again to tackle weaknesses made apparent by the query package! And I did it all with very little sleep!

Okay, so, after working for two years when my first child was tiny, and staying home for a year after my second, I conclude: BOTH WAYS ARE HARD AND I HAVE NO PATIENCE FOR ANYONE DISMISSING EITHER PARENTING MODE AS EASIER. Same for “natural” birth versus C-section. I am here to tell you I have done both and THERE IS NO EASY WAY OUT.

I suspect there is a grass-is-greener tendency to pine after the good bits on the other side and ignore the bad bits. When I was working, my day ran 6am to 8pm with minimal breaks, my attention was fractured by multiple Sam modes, and I felt a lot of guilt for not seeing my kid enough. Once I was home, my day ran 6am to 8pm with minimal breaks, I became painfully cabin-feverishly bored by NOT having multiple Sam modes, and I felt a lot of guilt for not contributing to the finances the way I had before.

When I was working, I could actually relax a bit and take bathroom breaks by myself, I got positive reinforcement from grateful library patrons and colleagues, and there was so much quiet. Now that I’m home, I don’t have to put on customer service face after a sleepless night, I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas if I don’t want to, and I get to sprawl on my own couch during nap time.

This is obviously based on me having had a convenient morning day job that I enjoyed, and two fairly well-behaved kids that I also enjoy. If I had good kids and was still in the hellscape of retail shift work, I’d have fled to the home life as soon as financially possible. If I’d had a lucrative ladder-climbing career and colicky nightmare babies I’d have guiltily but steadfastly clung to the job longer.

I’m supremely lucky that after a couple years of scrimping we could afford to make this arrangement work. Most folks don’t have the option of weighing pros and cons, they just…do what they have to do. Sometimes you can’t afford to leave work–or, even more perversely, sometimes you can’t afford TO work because of childcare costs. Either way you’re penned in by circumstances, and that can be grueling.

So in conclusion again: everyone does what they need to do, if they’re lucky they get some choice in the matter, and everyone else just mind ya bizness and resist the backhanded compliments. You know the ones. “Ah ha, that must be nice [getting away to work / getting to stay home all day].” Yeah I see you.

Now. We’ll see how my opinion shifts when we enter…The School Years!