From the Word Mines

I haven’t updated the blog much lately, which can usually signal one of two things:

1. I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like and am too ashamed to fess up publicly, or

2. I’ve been very busy writing and don’t have a lot of time for updatery

Happily, we can mark option two this week here on Comedy and Tragedy. I’ve got several writing projects going at once right now and, coupled with my day job, I’ve had little time for internet tomfoolery.

In addition to hammering out those final chapters of Project Awesome, I’ve also been working on a new short story. I’m determined to finish the first draft by the end of the day. It’s a sort of fantastical historical fiction set in 15th century Spain with airships and elemental magic and an adventure into the unknown west. I’m having fun writing it.

Here are the opening lines: “Word went out from the Castilian court that renowned elementalist and adventurer Christoforo Colombo had vanished on his journey beyond the edge of the ocean. Any man of birth and breeding able to recover him would be rewarded with the Crown’s greatest jewel, the hand of Her Royal Highness princess Lupita Mendoza of Aragon and Castile.”

Rest assured that Lupita is not the kind of princess to sit in her high tower and wait for some stupid prince to do all the heroic rescuing and have all the fun without her.

I can’t spend all my time on this, though. I have a deadline for a critique submission this weekend and am working on edits of a story I sold to Fictionvale that will appear later this year. Those are due next week. Busy, busy.

In other news:

It’s midterms!

Not sure this is actually deserving of an exclamation point. Midterms always make me nervous. I want all my students to do well, and I hope I’ve done everything I can to teach them and prepare them, but ultimately this is the moment where it’s up to them to put in the work and sink or swim. So, that’s always a little stressful for everyone involved. Plus, I loathe grading. That probably goes without saying, but still.

Winter is starting to show signs that it might clear out soonish. Like fish and house guests, we’ve long been desiring its absence. We had some beautiful days in the 50s and even 60s earlier this week but now it’s back down to 20 with a windchill of 4. So, that’s insulting and horrific.

Well, that’s about all the news. Time to go layer on 800lbs of clothes and head out into the cold!


So it begins…

Summer! It’s here at last. The semester is over. My Cold of Doom is finally gone. And I’m back from what was meant to be my summer kick-off, a writing retreat in the Colorado Rockies.

So far, the summer’s been a little inauspicious. I was sick for most of the writing retreat (which didn’t prevent me from enjoying myself, but which was kind of a bummer). We’re facing down a long weekend of rain, rain, and more rain here in Brooklyn. And, as per usual, I seem to have packed the next few months so full of travel that I’ll probably have less time to write than I did during the semester. Silly me.

Next week a good friend of ours will be visiting us from Germany. Then it’s down to Philadelphia to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary (yay!). Then I go to Kansas City to spend some time doing work with my archaeology colleague at his campus. Then my mother-in-law is here for a week. Then we’re in Seattle for two. Whew. I’m getting tired just thinking about it! At the same time, I know it’ll be fun. I always ask, ‘why do I do this to myself’ and then I remember the answer (‘oh, right, I can’t help it!’). Plus, as of now, we’re not going anywhere for the whole of August. Which will be weird. And wonderful.

Anyway, if I can get writing done during the rush of the semester, I can squeeze some in during summer craziness too. I’m currently on the last editing pass for ABSENT, and have started drafting my query letter. That will be out the door very soon, happily. I got a lot of good worldbuilding and plot arc notes on my newest novel idea at the Colorado retreat, as well as some great discussions to resolve a few issues that have cropped up in PROJECT AWESOME. There is no shortage of work to be done. I’m feeling optimistic, though. As I prepare to send ABSENT out to agents, I can really see the improvements in my writing since the last novel I subbed. They are substantial and bridge everything from prose to structure to general confidence in my craft.

Maybe this will be the one.

Wait, who’s driving this thing?!

…oh, yeah, that’s me. Whoops. Sorry the bus exited the freeway, took the back roads, and ended up in a ditch with its wheels in the air. My bad.

Driver’s back now, though. Never fear.

I’ve been busy in my absence from the blog. In the category of YES FINALLY, I wrapped up edits on the latest (and hopefully last) major rewrite of my archaeological time travel novel, ABSENT, and shipped it off to my faithful and deeply awesome readers. That’s a huge burden lifted and frees me up to work on new projects. Yay! New projects 🙂

I have two short stories drafted that I’ve really been wanting to get back to and clean up. I’ve also got a lot of wonderful feedback on PROJECT AWESOME from PLIII that I want to incorporate so I can carry on with drafting.

Fortunately, my schedule is about to open up. This last Wednesday was my final day of classes and next Wednesday is the big day for final exams. Right now I’m buried under a pile of research papers and exams so deep I can’t see daylight. But a red pen and a bottle of wine should see me through. And then, soon, I will be released into that magical land known as Summer. I’ll eat mint gelato every day and dance in the park under a big moon and swim like a fish. Well, maybe not. Probably I’ll do a shitload of traveling, write as much as I possibly can, and try to re-acclimatize myself to NYC’s patented summer scent – the aroma of hot garbage.

Also on the horizon is a writing retreat with new friends and old in Colorado. I’m really looking forward to this one. We’ll be flying into Denver and taking a train deep into the mountains to some crazy little town with hot springs. Our hotel looks like it’s straight out of The Shining. Nine writers at a historic hotel in a backwoods town in the Colorado Rockies…what could possibly go wrong? 😉

Ha – that’s a good short story in the making!

In the weeds

Well, I know it’s been a bit since I last updated the blog. It isn’t that I don’t have things I’d like to write about, or that I’ve forgotten you all, dear Readers. Rather, I find myself pretty deep in the weeds. Most of this is stemming from me saying yes to things I probably shouldn’t have and to the fact that the semester is gearing up for its final death throes, which means lots of review sheets, exam prep materials, exams, and stressed out students needing extra help. Don’t get me wrong, I love my day job, but this is not a fun time of year.

On top of that, I have a submission due for a writing retreat in a few days. I’m planning to send in materials for a new novel project and they are currently…very underdeveloped. So, there’s that as well.

But, the sun is out, the days are slowly, slowly, slowly getting warmer, and summer is striking distance away. So, I’m not complaining, I’m just explaining.

Hope to be back in blogging action soon!

In the meantime, what are you all up to?


Been meaning to post a quick update, but have been doing such a good impersonation of a chicken with its head cut off that I haven’t found time – plus, its hard to type when you have little chicken feet 😉

Yesterday I escaped the bitter cold of New York and flew out to California for a long weekend in the Napa valley.  Now that I’m lying in bed in the pre-dawn darkness, hanging out with jet-lag as I adjust to Pacific time, I finally have my opportunity to blog.

So…here’s what’s been going on of late:

I turned 38 last weekend.  Which feels strange since I often catch myself thinking things like, “well, when I’m grown up, I will (fill in the blank)”.  So, let’s roll with ‘young at heart’, shall we?  It was a good birthday, including a tasty dinner out with friends who have been in our life well over a decade, nice presents (like a new computer monitor for this increasingly blind 38 year old and a Trogdor the Burninator T-shirt, which is made of awesome), and lots of love and good wishes from friends and family.

My novel BLOOD RED SUN also made the first cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest (meaning it survived the hacking of 10,000 manuscripts down to 2,000).  Still a ways to go, but nice to be in the running a little longer.

Classes and course prep continue to swallow me whole, but I have carved out a little writing time here and there (including about 3 hours on the plane yesterday), and am happy to report that the light at the end of the tunnel of my revisions to ABSENT is growing substantially brighter.  Plus, I’m pretty happy with how the manuscript is shaping up.  I think this one has a real chance.

Finally, with a day off for President’s Day, Sid and I were able to sneak away for a 5 day trip to Napa.  We’ll be tasting fabulous wines and indulging in delicious food between now and next Tuesday.  If the slooooow internet connection here at our hotel in Forestville cooperates, I might even post an update or two.

That’s what’s new with me.  How about you?

The calm before the storm

All remaining midterms, quizzes, and research papers have been graded.  All final exams have been written.  There are no more lectures to prepare and nothing left to do but wait.  160 final exams will come rolling across my desk next Tuesday, but until then…I am freeeeeeeee!

What to do with this wonderful little lull, this calm before the storm?

Well, of course, I shall write.  That goes without saying.  I have a new short story I’m working on, and the poor characters in ABSENT have been stuck in the Ices Ages for months and months freezing their patooties off – some of them are in limbo just waiting to be killed before the third act.  How cruel of me!  Obviously something must be done.

Also, we’re having our annual Holiday Party this weekend.  So cookies and candy will be happening in Miranda’s Kitchen of Culinary Delights and Disasters.  Today I will tackle 2 types of bark: chocolate toffee with sea salt and chocolate macadamia nut.  I’ll also be trying two new cookies — a Finnish brown-butter sandwich cookie with blackberry jam filling and a Welsh griddle cookie.  Tomorrow, the Great Eggnog Caper begins, in which I make my famous (at least in my mind) homemade eggnog and then attempt to refrain from drinking it all before the party on Sunday.  Oh, and fillings for tea sandwiches are on the docket, and Christmas music, and a few last gift purchases, and…well, you get the idea.

So, that’s my next four days.  What have you all got brewing?

It burns us!

Sorry for the vast, echoing silences around here lately.  I finally kicked the bronchitis, emerged from my cocoon of misery, and discovered I was so behind on my work that there was nothing to do but take a deep breath and dive headfirst into the deep end.

It’s been non-stop lectures, review sessions, grading, exam prep, more grading, more exam prep, and even more grading ever since.  Just to add to the insanity, Sid and I are off this weekend to visit his mom in New Orleans.  Awesome timing.  At least the plane ride is good for grading…

Three more weeks stand between me and the end of the semester.  I’ve got quizzes, a stack of research papers, a late midterm, and two finals to deal with between now and then.  My reward at the end of the tunnel?  Eggnog.  Lots and lots.  Homemade.  With bourbon.

I’m not complaining.  I’m just saying.  Probably won’t be a massive amount of updatery around here until the holiday rolls around.  Or much writing for that matter 😦

Hell, I don’t care.  At least I’m out of bed and dressed in proper clothes, which is more than I can say for most of the last month 🙂

Okay.  Gotta go pack.

Hasta la pasta, folks!  I’ll see you later.

When life gives you lemons

I no longer know what to do with all these damn lemons!  I’ve made lemonade.  I’ve put them in my tea.  I’ve preserved them,  and pickled them, and grilled them, and dried them.  I’m all lemoned out.

This has been, hands down, one of the worst stretches of bad luck I’ve had in a long while.  I’ve now been sick for a month – one nasty cold virus after another.  Coughing, hacking, phlemy misery.  I dragged my sorry behind in to school to teach classes on Thursday and paid the price.  Two whole days with no voice whatsoever.  My fever came back.  I had to cancel my trip to San Francisco, where I was supposed to present a paper at the American Anthropological Association and meet up with one of my best and oldest friends.

I am, without doubt, feeling very sorry for myself.

A few upshots, though.  My foggy head has cleared enough the last few days that I’ve been able to tackle a little writing.  I’m making some progress on my revisions to ABSENT and have also resuscitated an old novelette about post-apocalyptic treasure hunters — sort of Indian Jones meets Tomb Raider meets Firefly.  That’s been fun.

While Sid and I are both suffering (he’s been ill too), Mr. Ramses is in heaven.  He’s delighted that someone other than himself seems to want to spend all their time in bed.  He’s been a fat, snuggly companion while I recuperate.

Sad to say, but that’s all the news from here.  Sick. Minimal (but improving) writing progress.  Happy cat.

What’s new with you?

A month without travel

Normally I’d consider a month without travel akin to a month without sunshine, or food, or episodes of Dancing with the Stars.  But nothing about the last few months has been normal and the fact that we aren’t going ANYWHERE for a whole four weeks feels, quite honestly, awesome.

Our most recent trip (to London) was rife with highs and rather awful lows, and all I want to do right now is stay at home in Brooklyn.  In fact, we have a party to attend on the UES tonight and even that feels like an unreasonably long distance to travel 😉

What will I do with all the the extra time?

Well, midterms are looming, so there’s exams to write (and then exams to grade).

There’s lots of soccer to watch, and plenty of writing to do.  My goal for the month is to finish the current draft of ABSENT and if I’m going to make that deadline, I’ll need to knuckle down.

Also, I’ve been offered a temporary (Spring semester) position as a Visiting Assistant Prof at Queens (I’m currently working there as an Adjunct).  This is deeply awesome, but it also means more work — most notably in the form of developing a new course on the Archaeology of Identity.  That shit ain’t gonna prepare itself.

So, time away from travel doesn’t mean I’ll be lolling around eating bon bons and bathing in champagne (well, except on the weekends).  And, of course, it’s only temporary.  In November I’ll head to San Francisco for an anthropology conference and to New Orleans to spend time with my mother-in-law, and then there’s Christmas in Seattle and a writing retreat in Vegas.  So, never fear, your favorite always-on-the-road writer will be back to her old tricks in no time.

For now, though, I’m happy to be home.