Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Life... Don't talk to me about life..."

I get distracted a lot; it's my personal bane of existence.   Like writing a novel, well, three (possibly four) of them, and a bunch of short stories...  Getting sucked into that vortex of time-wastage known as the Internet, shopping for materials for my jewellery and costume-designs and cool Goth stuff for our house...  Oh, and buying a house.

Yup, we took the plunge, my Kani and me, and decided we were going to stay in the rural mountain community a friend of ours had suggested moving to.  We found a nice little home with a view of the lake and the nearby mountains, with a great big space under the building that I can eventually turn into my permanent studio and a yard that will be my long-term gardening project of Doooooom.  >;-)

Definitely doom; the yard is a sloped monster at around 30-degrees plus, with a lot of oak trees on sandy, decomposed granitic soil with a probable acid-content that kills most things...  Except gophers.  I dunno why we have so many gophers- there's NOTHING there for them to eat!  Going to terrace, put in big retaining-walls of brick or stone with a pea-gravel and sand base, then back-fill with whatever soil I took out, mixed in with mulch and a good grade of yard soil.  I figure, after about three or four years, that yard will start to look like something presentable.  Besides, the erosion is getting ridiculous with only the trees holding it together.

One catch; the house came furnished.  Now, this wouldn't be much of a problem for most folks, but we already had our own furniture and well, we just aren't that big into the "country kitsch" style the previous owners were.  Bears, I tells ya- so many bears....  and moose, ducks, fish and raccoons...

Oh yeah, I can tell you about the raccoons- the living, real life family of raccoons.  They visit our decks, run around playing (hilarious and cute), digging in my potted plants looking for worms and um, leaving "presents" in the corners (not so hilarious and cute).   Dammit, if they didn't do the last two, I'd welcome them happily to our family.  We have coyotes in packs out there and I know they like the hills on either side of our property- we hear them yipping and howling on full moon nights.  That raccoon family probably uses our deck as a refuge from them...

We've tried a number of techniques for driving them off, but they don't work, it seems, for they keep coming back, the little rotters.  Damn, I wanna hug those fuzzies.  Really.  They are freakin' adorable, inquisitive, obviously smart, almost friendly... unless you get too close.  Mama has growled at me a couple of times. I know they're wild animals- as "wild" as anything can be in a town with humans who leave all kinds of tasty foods about- and befriending them is probably inviting more trouble than we'd want to handle.  So, we keep trying to scare 'em off.

Work on the studio continues- the temp one in the rec-room- and it's coming together nicely.  It's crowded, but I still have three times the amount of space I had in the last place, which is making things a lot easier to organize.  Mind you, the expanding entropy called my "creative mess" is well... expanding.  *sigh*  I'm actually getting off my duff and cleaning once in a while, something I loathe doing, but it needs to be dealt with, before it gets so bad I can't walk in there.

My commission back-log is slowly growing smaller, but, only slowly.  Poo.  The back-log of other things, like my emails, I'm finally starting to clear out...

Buying a house, moving in and holding a couple of massive deck sales to get rid of excess stuff takes a lot out of an old dragon like me... LOL  But, we made enough money to hopefully re-finish the massive decks this place has.  We're scraping off the old paint, hoping to get this done by the winter, sanding the wood a bit, then staining with an eco-friendly stain.  Once that's done, we'll only need to re-stain every five years or so without having to scrape and sand.  Hopefully, that'll mean only replacing wood that's gotten dry-rot or termites.

Ugh, bugs...  Ok, I like bugs; I especially like arachnids and dragonflies.  They can eat all the ants they want.  But so many ants...  And aphids- the bloody aphids are sucking the life out of my melon vine... literally, the poor thing.  Oh well, I didn't expect to actually get a crop this year, just testing the seeds I took out of a commercially-grown melon to see if they were viable.  Yup, they are.  Yay!  I'll be planting some next year in bigger containers, along with a number of other veggies.

I even have a big bin where I'm raising a crop of happy, fat worms.  Soil-amendment, you see.  Worm-castings are the best fertilizers out there.  I'll be building a proper compost bin for the things the worms can't handle, like citrus peels, and building a cold-frame on the back deck for the larger pots I don't have room for indoors.  Hopefully, they can stay out all winter, since the season is short and pretty warm here.

At least, we don't have rodents in the house...  Just in the yard, wandering under our car, occasionally in the build-up...  We regularly trap them and release them into the woods.  Well, I feel guilty over the gophers- Kani is kill-trapping them.  I'm going to buy a lot of a plant known as "gopher purge" and "fencing" the yard with it as a way of possibly driving off the remainder.  Athough, he hasn't caught any in a while, so I'm thinking they've either gotten wise to the traps, or there just aren't any left to trap.

But, back to the original topic of this entry: writing.

Lately, it's the resurrection of a bunch of short-stories and two novels that I've been writing, two more in outline.  Two are near completion (I hope, assuming the re-writes and edits won't put me off from ever doing this again), and there is a real possibility that I just might screw up the courage to send them to a publisher.

Now, the decision: paper or digital?  Just my luck that I happen along with my great opus during a massive economic downturn where many publishers have either gone under (mostly the small press, sadly) or have been waffling about discontinuing their paper press-releases.  Mind you, as far as the "economy" is concerned, it makes little difference to me personally; since I've always lived in poverty until recently, my options for doing anything were limited in the extreme, late to the game or not.

But, the question still remains; should I try for a hard-copy book printing, with it's high overhead costs for materials and labour, opt for print-on-demand, or go for the swelling e-book format?  I'm not particularly on the grape-vine (as if I ever was), but I still hear the rumours and tales of people having a modicum of success publishing their works on the web as e-books and as print-on-demand.  Will I be one of them?  Could I even make a bare-bones living at it?

I find that I'm leaning toward the digital and print-on-demand formats, actually.  The first, because that's where authorship and publishing is going, frankly, and because it aligns nicely with my "green" ideals; it uses less paper, wastes fewer resources like the oil used to make the inks, power the printing-presses, the trucks and other shipping used to get them to the stores, or the paper sourced from practices like clear-cutting whole forests.  The second, because while we are solidly into the beginnings of the real Digital Age, many people still like to have, hold and collect paper books.  I know I do, despite my "green" leanings.  Both formats also allow the author to get more of the money for the work of writing their novels, so I've heard.  It does mean that a publisher might not give an advance these days, preferring to find out if the writer's pieces will sell at all, first.

Understand, I know that the "advance" authors are given by publishers to finish a work is small, often little more than a few thousand, ten, if you're an already well-known, well-loved writer in the field.  But, for me, that 5K would be more than enough when combined with my hubby's income.  I also have other funds coming in a trickle, so I don't think we'll be hurting for the coin.  I just want to be able to contribute my part, even if I'm glacially-slow at it and sporadic.

Anyway, in the interest of getting feedback for my attempts at science-fiction and fantasy (my favourite genres, and don't let anyone tell you genre-writing is for punks), I've joined a writer's site called writersbeat.com  So far, I'm not getting a lot of attention, but I'm still really new, and the site is a pretty quiet one.  I might have to troll around to find one with more traffic if I really want a lot of eyeballs on my writing.  But, I need the readers, I need the critiques, and other views on things I wrote so that I can fix any flaws.  I know they're there- I keep finding them myself!  LOL

Unfortunately, if any of the few readers here want to see my stuff, they have to become a member of the site in order to view anything I write.  They have this forum ("Member's Only") where serious writing can be posted for nit-picking without running into the "first rights" nonsense a lot of publishers put up on writers hoping to get exposure.  Posting it on the Web apparently counts, unless it's a closed page where browsers and search-engines are barred from hunting through the material there.

 Be warned, they do have a rule where anyone who joins needs to actually post regularly- there will be a minimum of five posts from each newbie in order to be allowed to post new threads yourself and to be allowed into the private forums.  Yeah, it's a pain, but it could also mean that only serious folk will comprise the membership.  The only hitch is that you are expected to give serious critiques of people's work, not be nasty about it, keep the bad-language to a minimum (unless it's part of something you've written), no flamers, no trolls, etc.  Offering critiques might be enough, if you do it regularly, but you might be expected to post your own writing attempts, too.  Posting your own threads might not be required, though, so just post regularly (heck, once or twice a month is likely enough after the initial five, I suspect).  So, come by, be a reader, and, if you have any advice, comments, beefs, or bouquets about my writing, send it there.

Please?

So, if anyone is interested, go here and join up: http://www.writersbeat.com  Look for Auntibodhi; that's me.  :-)

Another avenue that I'm considering is breaking up my works into chapters and posting them as PDF files on our private, secure server.  Anyone who wants to read them can ask for the link to get portions of each story, or I can post the links as a "serial" kind of offering...

Meanwhile, I'll be off to find out what publishers are accepting submissions, what their guidelines are, etc.

The works I've so far posted are excerpts of these:

Borders: Book One: The Way Of Stone (novel)

Fishbowl (novella)

Things to look for later that will be coming soon:

Borders: Book Two: The Star Way (novel) [alternate title: Tabard And Stone]

Borders: Fimbulwinter (novel- prequel of the other two, but can stand alone)

Apprentice Of Smokes (novel- in the same universe, but taking place a number of years after the others on another world)



Anyway, that's my blather for today.  I'll probably get back to the ranting later.

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