clhollandwriter: (Default)
I don't feel like I've done much over April. My novella is nowhere near as far along as it should be and I may be too far behind to catch up ( it needs to be finished in two weeks). But when I looked at my calendar I realised I'd written 50% of the days last month so I'm counting it as a win.

It's tough to get back in the habit of writing regularly, especially when working hours aren't regular. It's impossible to set up a routine if I can't guarantee I'll have writing time before work, after work, or at lunch time, or if I'll have to cook  and/or do housework in the evenings. Since my hours vary week to week, I'm just starting to get into a routine when it all changes. Younger me didn't mind so much; today me is fed up with one more thing to keep track of. I feel like I'm wasting mental energy having to remember what time I need to leave the house this week, if I need to take breakfast, do I need to put laundry on before I leave or will there be time to do it when I get home, will I have time to cook and if not do we have soup in, what time should I get to bed.

I'm honestly thinking of writing timings down in my Bullet Journal to save me the bother of remembering. It certainly works for to do lists.

Since it's a bank holiday I'm using today to catch up on writing and blogging, and trying out an experiment in making writing at home like writing at a coffee shop. Although it will be a cat cafe, obviously. More on that later.
clhollandwriter: (block)
For some reason Livejournal didn't want to cross-post my last entry to Facebook, because it had a picture in, and told me it disconnected me. So now I'm not sure if this will cross-post at al, since FB isn't checked at the bottom of the post, but it, irreversibly, in the settings. Oh well, I guess I'll find out whan I post this.

Things have been quiet lately because I've been off getting to know my Kindle better. I may have put a few too many books on it, but most of them were free. I've also started collecting a series, Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins books (about a female exorcist in the Church of England), because I already own the first four but they're scattered all over the place (I only actually have books one and four with me for some reason). For a while I stopped buying them because I could never remember which ones I had, and now there are eleven so it seemed easier just to start again, especially as the first two were £1 each.

The only bummer is the battery life - it's going to last me a two weeks max, as long as i don't download much. Amazon's "month long battery life" is based on half an hour of reading a day, but honestly ho many people who read that little are going to need a Kindle anyway?

The weather here has been screwy lately. Just a week ago I was out reading in the sunshine, and this week we had snow. I'm not sure what's going on there, if I wrote a story with that sort of thing going on no one would believe it unless it was an apocalyptic thriller.

The cats have been put on a new diet, because we're trying to tackle the fact that Lucifer doesn't eat much and then Gabriel hoovers everything up while n one's looking. Gabriel's starting to look like a rugby ball with legs. So now instead of giving them two meals a day and leaving them to it, we're giving them three smaller meals and taking the bowls up when we go out and overnight. It seems to be working - Lucifer's eating more, they're actually eating more of the food between them, but Gabriel's grazing a lot less because there's nothing there to graze. They complained a lot the first coupld of days, but seem to be used to it now.

I started a new project recently, currently titled "That Novel." I'm not sure where it's going, but I had fun working on it this evening, even if progress is a bit slow. I'm not going to post up any goals yet though, because I'm very good at failing in public.
clhollandwriter: (lucifer)
We've always known that Lucifer is a special little kitty. She's the only cat we've ever met who's afraid of the dark. Nine times out of ten she insists on sleeping where people are and if we leave her asleep in the living room when we go to bed, inevitably she'll wake up alone at about 1am and start howling like a lost soul.

Yesterday we noticed she has trouble tracking fast-moving objects. We only spotted it because for the first time ever, she and Gabriel consented to share the bird-on-a-stick. Gabriel will chase it while we whiz it around, and noticeably track it. Lucifer needs it to be moving a little slower, and if it passes into her peripheral vision at speed she tends to lose it. I tested them both by whirling the bird in a circle between them: Gabriel tracked it complete with eye twitching and head movements; Lucifer didn't react at all, except when I brushed the table a couple of times.

It's very odd. She can obviously see, since she can navigate around our ever-shifting tide of stuff, and she reacts to moving objects. It's just fast moving things that seem to cause problems. It would certainly explain why she can only ever catch huge and very angry starlings, while Gabriel can catch bugs out of the air. It doesn't seem to bother her at all, but I might check it with the vet next time I take her up anyway.


Tomorrow I'll be replaced by guest-blogger Christine Amsden, and her post about writing space.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
So I got the flash story finished, and in to the contest it was written for. In retrospect I'm not sure it quite works, but there's room to add more and still keep it less than 1000 words so it's not a lost cause.

I've also put a new post up at my jewellery blog. Let's see if I can keep the momentum up.

And I've trodden on a cat twice this morning. Is it bad luck when a black cat crosses your path? It is for them if they do so in the dark! Lucifer made her feelings about the whole thing very plain, but I gave her a cuddle and she seems to have forgiven me.



(That's what's called a false sense of security, yes?)

clhollandwriter: (marchin)
The scrapbook project now completed (so far), I realised there wasn't as much to put in it as I thought. This was disheartening, which seemed about typical. It was fun to make though, it gave me an excuse to buy stickers and things. I have a stack of cat-related stickers just so I can do a page for when "Ode to My Dark Lady" comes out.

Lucifer has been playing up recently. She's gone from so terrified of water she complains when I go in the shower, to sitting in the bath attacking the shower curtain. We're not sure if it's attention-seeking behaviour or if her twisted kitty logic tells her that if she destroys the curtain I'll be safe. So far no amount of telling off has stopped her. Turning the shower on her kept her out of the bathroom all day on Sunday, but I'm sure I heard her at it again this morning. Just when we think she can't get any more neurotic....
clhollandwriter: (hello)
How you can tell the autumn's set in for real: all the spiders migrate indoors. Big grey-brown ones that like to crawl over everything. We've killed one a day for the last week, all the same type and same size - it's like it's the same spider over and over again.*

I'd mind less if the cats weren't so useless at hunting them. Unfortunately they haven't figured out that spiders play dead, so they get bored and wander off.

I am not liking it.



______________________
* We normally catch them and put them out, but when they're migrating inside for the winter, what's the point?
clhollandwriter: (Matter)
Another rejection today, which puts me at a worryingly low number of subs out. This weekend I may have to devote some time to sorting out what isn't out and should be, although some stories are waiting for other rejections to free up preferred markets.

I can't decide if I want to do NaNoWri Mo this year. I haven't had much sucess with it since 2007, and I'm not sure if I have a project that can sustain the wordcount percolating in my brain anywhere. Also there's an awful lot of Real Life getting in the way of things at the moment, so I'm not convinced I won't be setting myself up to fail.

There's been an awful lot of moving of furniture in our house over the last few weeks. First the old sofabed from the bedroom to the living room, then the furniture in the main bedroom to improve the storage. Then we moved things around in the back bedroom/office, in the hope that moving my desk away from the door will stop it from being a dumping ground. The cats, naturally, Do Not Want. Gabriel whinged and whined a bit, then decided the new sofa in the living room was hers and settled down, and Lucifer's become a little horror. We already call her the Validation Monster because of her constant need for reassurance that she's the centre of the universe, but now she's started scratching the BF whenever he tries to tell her what to do. She bit me as well, although she didn't break the skin. If she doesn't settle down soon there will be a visit to the V.E.T. in her future, to get some Feliway or something.

After we move the kitchen table into the living room, anyway.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Our heating kicked in for the first time last night (it's been timed on the thermostat for a couple of weeks now) which I guess means we're on the downward slope to winter. The cats, of course, thought it was the best thing ever and made a beeline for the radiators.

We saw a couple of friends at the weekend for the first time in ages. We'd done that shameful adult thing of letting Real Life estrange us, and it was great to catch up. It was also nice to relive our student days by playing silly games - in this case the incredibly nerdy Warhammer board game Chaos in the Old World, which is great except that it need four players, and the suprsingly addictive Pandemic, where you play a CDC team trying to save the world from, well, a pandemic. We've all promised to do it again soon, and I intend to try and make sure we actually do.

Anyway, lunch over. Back to work.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

It's a little sad how happy this makes me, but a 25th person Liked my Facebook page today which allows me to get my very own username. Meaning that now I can be found at www.facebook.com/CLHollandwriter, rather than www.facebook.com/mynameandabunchofrandomnumbers.

I also got a submission out the door, and made a sale that I'm not going to announce the details of yet as it's subject to some editorial tweaking on my part. All of this put together means that I get to declare the brick-sized slab of lemon cheesecake the BF and I shared ealier as retrospective celebratory cheesecake, rather than an indulgence that goes against our attempts at healthy eating. So all in all, it's been a good day.

Apart from the bit where the cats are in again because Gabriel brought home a bird. From the looks of it, it's the second hatching from the nest she decimated the first time. Bad cat.


clhollandwriter: (eyes)
There also appeared to be a Livejournal fail yesterday, in that the bit of yesterday's post about the cats seems to have been eaten. So here it is again!

Mostly it was about how Lucifer appears to be going through another of her Difficult Phases. She has them periodically, during which she kicks off against authority of any kind. Sometimes this means boxing her sister in the face as she walks past, sometimes it means doing the exact opposite of what we want her to do. This was the latter. We think it started because she had an accident the other day and had to have her back end cleaned. There's nothing she hates more than other people cleaning her, especially her bottom, except possibly Neighbour Cat.

Yesterday's battle was over milk, of all things. They both know that a bowl of cat-friendly milk is part of the Going Outside ritual. It helps to keep them hydrated and manages Gabriel's problems with cystitis. Lucifer turned her nose up at it, even after Gabriel was rewarded for drinking by being let out. Cue a day of sulking, and staring meaningfully out the window with tail swishing.

Gabriel for her part seemed to quite enjoy having the outside to herself, although we were surprised to find her nesting in her favourite spot (currently a towel in the bathroom) when we both thought she was outside.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

Today has been a day of repeated corporate fail.

Cut for length )

 
ETA: For some reason the post has eaten my cats. Very strange.

clhollandwriter: (lucifer)

I know there are a few cat owners slaves on my f-list, so I thought I'd run this one by you.

As far as I was aware, you're not supposed to feed cats chicken bones or raw meat (what they catch outside notwithstanding). But I took Lucifer to the vet today to get her teeth checked out, since she has a mild case of gingivitis and I wanted some advice on how to keep on top of it before it becomes a problem, and the vet told me to give her raw chicken wings so she can crunch on them.

I'm not particularly thrilled about that advice, so any suggestions as to a) whether it's a load of crap, and b) what else I can do to keep my cats in good dental health would be welcome.

I should probably mention that the standard of care is extremely variable at our vets - they do an open surgery and who you get is pot luck. It varies from a vet who is very nice but can't control a frightened cat, to one who will work with how the cat's behaving, to another with no bedside manner or patience but who can give a cat a shot without them even noticing. Today was Mr. No-Bedside-Manner - which would have been fine for Gabriel as she'll hop out of the box, let you prod her, and then hop back in again, but Lucifer's terrified of going to the vets at all. In her case I much prefer the middle vet since she's quite happy for Lucifer to climb up me and cuddle while being examined. 



Got some more flash done this weekend, but I had to fight for every word. Here's hoping the next lot will be easier.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
I'm wondering if I should be worried that Lucifer makes noises like the aliens in Mars Attacks!

"Beauty Sleeping" has been selected to appear in the anthology The Best of Every Day Fiction Three. This makes my third sale so far this year (although not of anything actually submitted this year) which is almost half of what I sold last year. In fact, if you don't count selected (rather than submitted) reprints, it's actually more than half.

A grumble about people reading over my shoulder )
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Mostly editing work done recently, as I've discovered I quite enjoy sitting in bed with a couple of pages before lights-out. I need to do a lot of research about possible markets for this one (it's irredemably long), but I'm enjoying the chance to rescue something I thought was a write-off.

Short story wise I have one finished by hand which needs typing up for an end-of month deadline, but that's an evening job so I need a new project for lunchtimes. I could add some more words to Reunion, but I need to catch up on the typing for that too. And figure out the long-term outcome of that whole being-beaten-and-thrown-in-a-river thing. I also have something to get finished for submission to the next issue of 10Flash Quarterly - plenty of time, but I'd like to get it in in a timely fashion.

So many stories, so little time.


And in other news, Lucifer blessed us last weekend with the gift of a live Goldfinch. Le sigh.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

My first sale and publication of the year: my flash story "And a Cup of Good Cheer" has been published in the January issue of 10Flash Quarterly, the theme of which is Santa Claus Ain't Coming to Town.

The magic was all in the hat, of course.  It had to come from somewhere and it certainly wasn’t him.


Fairly unproductive weekend, just making the most of the time off before going back to work. Mostly spent playing on games or watching DVDs. On New Year's Eve we did what we always do and stayed in to watch films with a friend. First was The Fall, which is a very odd mix of The Princess Bride, Big Fish, and The Usual Suspects and is probably the best film Terry Gilliam never made. We followed it with Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, the Ian Dury biopic which was, frankly, a bit rubbish. The narriative jumped around all over the place, relying a bit too much on viewers already knowing the story, and from all they hype it seems they were going for "loveable rogue" - except they forgot the loveable part so instead it was a portrait of a man with no redeeming features. 

Lucifer brought us a starling yesterday, still alive and screaming. Unlike Gabriel she still tries to bring her prey in the house - her sister has worked out we don't like it and prefers to play with them in the garden instead. I honestly don't know why Lucifer does it, since it's obviously not to present it to us. Usually she pauses in the doorway looking stupid and runs away when we spot her. This time we managed to get her to drop the bird in the kitchen, and once she was safely out of the way we caught it in a towel and released it into the garden. It flew away in a hurry, which was a big relief since I've lost count of the times she's brought home birds beyond saving.


clhollandwriter: (block)
Not such a good day for writing yesterday, as I'm now 250 words behind. I hope to catch up, but I've been Week Two'd and I'm not feeling the love so much at the moment. I have, at least, got five viewpoint characters on the go to pick and choose between so it's just a case of hitting a flow.

The weather here is appalling at the moment - tipping it down, and blowing a gale loud enough to frighten the cats. They even tolerated each other's company last night for the sake of being near people. I could have done without Lucifer wedging her way in the bed, with freezing cold feet and jumping every time there was a loud gust. Silly cat.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Recently Lucifer, the loveable little fuzzball who couldn't catch a butterfly if it sat on her nose, has turned into a deadly killing machine. She's bringing home dead birds every weekend. Sometimes more than one a day. Sometimes not all the way dead. We've actually decided to get her a collar and bell to give the poor little things a fighting chance.

Cats being cats, she likes to bring them in the house. And cats being smart, she understands pretty much everything we say. So last weekend I told her before letting her out that she wasn't to bring birds in the house. She duly appeared on the doorstep covered in feathers, but she hadn't brough the corpse home and she didn't all day.

On Friday last week, the BF tried the same trick. Having decided that he's not her person, she duly ignored him as she always does. So on Saturday he made me tell her again not to bring birds home, and she didn't. So far, so good.

On Sunday, we decided to cook a roast chicken dinner. And having been told the rule about dead birds again that day Lucifer realised that her humans possess an amazing set of double-standards, and contributed with a finch.



No writing this weekend, having been distracted by the shiny of the BF playing Fallout: New Vegas. But at least my paperwork's up to date.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Remeber that meme that went round a while back - "Is my cat trying to kill me?"

Well, at 5am on Thursday I was woken by a cat and a heavy wooden box falling from the windowsill above my head. The cat actually landed on my head. The box, fortunately, hit either the cat or the radiator on the way down, and bounced off my shoulders instead.

I think it may have been an attempt at revenge for a week's worth of eye-drops three times a day for conjunctivitis.
clhollandwriter: (Inigo)

This morning in the shower, my usual place of revelation, I started to doubt my current story-in-progress. All the usual fears and excuses came to mind - it's lame, the character's a Mary-Sue, the plot's non-existant, blah blah blah. And then I realised why: yesterday, I took a day off.

See, while I was writing it every day I didn't mind the flaws. They were something I could work through, and it was fun. But yesterday I got sidetracked by gardening, and cats, and the latest Patricia McKillip....and I didn't write. And not writing, I had time to think. And having time to think, I had time to find all the things that are wrong with it that shouldn't matter in a first draft but somehow do.

So I've decided, no more mid-story breaks.  No more books until a story is finished. In fact, I'm half-tempted to give my to read pile to the bf, and exchange him a book for a story or novel-chapter. Although that would require me to write in the bath, since I'd have nothing to read.....


Yesterday we briefly lost Lucifer. I went out to hang the washing up and heard her crying, but when I got the bf to help me look he couldn't hear a thing. In fact, he thought I was imagining it (I blame the male inability to listen through distractions). We tracked it down to on or in the neighbour's garage, and so we duly knocked on their door to ask if they'd had their garage open and could we please look insde. They were very nice about it, and it turned out that Lucifer had got herself trapped inside and was on top of the breeze-block wall clawing at the daylight where it met the roof. They reckoned she'd been in there at least half an hour, but she didn't seem too panicked except at the strangers trying to get her down. She was amusingly covered in cobwebs, too. The neighbours thought it was funny it was her, since apparently she's the one who avoids them whereas Gabriel goes over to say hello. And you can guarantee she won't learn, since it was Lucifer who got herself locked in the kitchen of the neighbours on the other side....
 


clhollandwriter: (Default)
I thought of the perfect opening line for something today. I was in the bathroom at work. I didn't have a pen. By the time I got back to my desk I'd forgotten it.

I'm carving my way through my current short story project, an extremely soft sci-fi. Soft because, for me, character is more important than setting, but the setting has an impact on the characters. So it's a character story but it would be a completely different story set in a fantasy world, instead of in a planetary dome, with visiting aliens, cloth that changes colour at the flick of a switch, and an ability to take off to another world at a moment's notice. I read somewhere (I can't remember where for the moment) that magic is physics that can't be explained by logic, and that ordinary people (i.e. non-wizards) can't replicate even if they understand it, whereas science is physics based on logic that ordinary people could replicate if they had the right equipment and training. Which I mostly agree with, except that I think certain types of magic (ritual magic, for example) could well be produced by ordinary people if they had the right equipment and training, whereas science not only relies on these but doesn't have a special class of people who can do without them. Unless you're writing superheroes or something.

Which is a long and roundabout way of saying, the colour-changing cloth is not magic and can be used by everybody, therefore it's sci-fi.

Not only that, but I don't like hard sci fi. I think it's dry and boring, and frankly if I wanted the "science bit" explained to me like on a L'oreal advert, I'd read a science book. But I love Babylon 5, Moon, Star Wars (yes, I know that's fantasy too, but it is set in space), Farscape, and frankly I want my fiction glossy and shiny without spending pages learning about pro-vitamins and Nutrileum.



In other news, Gabriel has now decided she doesn't like the special cat food so and we're having to bribe her to finish it, and Lucifer is being a proper teenager - made mostly of legs and tantrums.

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