Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category

I’ve finished the read-through of the old version of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

It reinforced my belief that I just need to do it over, not try to fix it. Well, mostly. There were a couple of new chapters that I’d written for the previous attempt that can probably stay. It’s a good story, but I can just do a much better job of executing it now. It’ll be like a whole new first draft.

I copied over the (new) Prologue and then revised it some more.

I haven’t yet started on the first chapter, which will be a rewrite. Yesterday, I had to have the refrigerator fixed and that sort of shot my motivation to deal with anything else.  Poor Sadie didn’t even get a walk–although she did get to play in the hose until her tongue was hanging out so far I thought she’d trip on it.

I’m just about to get down to writing today–after some more yard clean up and some heavy cleaning in the laundry room–well, one corner of the laundry room. So far, anyway. Oh, and a load of laundry, of course.

But things look like beginning to move again, anyway. Fingers crossed.

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Yes, I know it’s Tuesday, not Wednesday, when I usually post. I got a month behind, so I figure I owe a few extra posts.

Okay, it’s not progress on MAGE STORM. Not yet.

Mage Storm

However, the lower patio has been found! (Well, technically, it was never lost. Just so overgrown it was barely possible to get to it.)

Here’s today’s picture.

Lower Patio 2019

Yeah, it needs to be swept again–or maybe hosed down. Sadie’ll love that. She adores playing in the hose.

I’m still going to have to do a bit of pruning. This is the entrance to the patio right now.

Entrance to Lower Patio

Just a little tight.

No table right now. I don’t think the old table is very functional right now. (And yes, that’s another area I’m going to have to clean up–just in a different way.)

Broken Table

I have to figure out how to repair the table or do something else. I have an old wrought iron table base that would have to be cleaned up–and a new top found. But that could work and might be easier to do, especially since I know a company that would pick it up, sand blast it, paint it, and deliver it back.

There’s a story behind this patio. And since what I’m trying to get to ultimately is get back to telling stories, maybe telling this one will help with that.

Years ago–never mind how many–I bought the original bench as a Father’s Day gift. Dad was retired by then and spending much of his time outside, so I thought an extra place to sit was a great idea. So did Dad. He immediately went out and bought the chairs and table–at a different store. They don’t match–never did–but only Mom and I ever seemed to care about that.

But few things were ever quite that uncomplicated with Dad, whose motto was, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” He decided that, since the chairs and bench were heavy, they might sink into the mud if we got too much rain. (Not entirely impossible. It’s adobe clay soil, which does get muddy, and might as well be concrete once it dries out.) Therefore, we had to build a patio–I helped him with that–before we put the new furniture out.

And no, that’s not the original bench I bought for Dad. A couple of years after he died, I found the old bench knocked over against the bricks that form the edge of the perennial bed behind it. Neighborhood kids, probably, but I’ll never know. Cast iron will break and it had–irreparably. So I bought a new bench because this really is a very nice, shady place to sit on a warm day.

It had only gotten overgrown during the last couple of years I was taking care of Mom when I just didn’t have the time or energy to keep up . . . well, most of the yard. Yeah, Mom’s been gone five years, now. So it’s about time I resurrected this patio.

Oh, and why do I call it the lower patio? Because beyond those bushes and the crepe myrtle tree and up a few steps is the upper patio (which clearly needs to be swept again).

Upper Patio

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The thing about having a couple of months off in the summer is that it’s really easy to forget what day it is. Almost forgot to post.

Progress: So far, slow, but steady. I’m reading through the original version of MAGE STORM, making copious notes as I go.

Mage Storm

Given other projects in the works–gardening and house cleaning, mostly–I’ve set a very modest goal of a chapter a week. Even at that rate, I should finish the read-through in a couple of weeks. And then we’ll see.

Otherwise, gardening is going pretty well. I’ve almost recovered the lower patio that had gotten so overgrown that only the neighborhood cats used it. Another day or two should see that completed.

Lower Patio

This is what it used to look like–and will again–more or less. (For one thing, that bush in the lower right is a lot bigger now.) The table is going to need some repairs, unfortunately.

House cleaning–well, it’s never been my favorite thing to do and, as I started with the most difficult (the kitchen), I’ve still got a ways to go before I can start to feel that motivating sense of accomplishment.

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I’ve been doing some thinking about that Cinderella story potentially set in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING. I think it might be titled DAUGHTER OF THE SECRET MAGE or something similar, if it works.

If it works, this will become a series centered around saving the world–or this corner of it–but not around the same cast of characters. The main characters of DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING would be only side characters, perhaps mentors, in this book. And so on for, perhaps, three or four books.

Also, I think I may need to reread DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING before I actually start anything.


But thinking is all I’m doing right now. I have several things to figure out if I hope to make this work. Also, there is just too much real life stuff going on. I thought March would have to be better than February that way. Sometimes, when you hope for something like that, the universe laughs evilly and sets out to prove you wrong.

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I’m a day late posting again. This week has been . . . one of those weeks so far. But in part, you know, it’s really just more of the same.

I haven’t pinned down yet what’s really holding me back on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

I just know that for this one, powering through, as I’ve sometimes done before, isn’t going to be the answer.

I don’t know if it’s something about the story. That sometimes happens. Something could be wrong and I just haven’t identified it yet.

Or it could be that life in general has been kicking my . . . well, you know for the last month. Except that this block started before that. Still, recent real-life stuff would not have been helping.

Or it just might be that the creative well has not been replenished sufficiently lately and I need to do something about that. Read more widely. Watch a movie I haven’t seen before. Take a day trip or two.

Or maybe I just need to switch to another story. Maybe another sub-genre, not sword and sorcery or epic fantasy. Not Meadowsweet. That one just isn’t calling to me right now.

I’ve had an idea on the back burner for a different take on a Cinderella story in which the step-mother is not actually the villain–though Cinderella would think she was. That story might fit into the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.


Maybe I’ll even try getting on a writer’s chat room and brainstorming that one. The interchange of ideas itself might help break the log jam. Who knows?

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. . . try sideways. Thinking about WILD MAGE (formerly ROGUE MAGE), the second book in the series, just might get me started writing again. Not yet, but–hopefully–soon. It has shown me that MAGE STORM has to end in a different place than I’d originally thought. So that’s something.

Mage Storm

In other news, Sadie has vanquished the monster in the walls.

Sadie goes after the monster in the walls

Now I just have to finish patching the wall. I’ve got some left-over bead board paneling put up there so this won’t happen again. There’s almost certainly some left over molding out in the garage to finish the top as well. All I need to do is cut down the bead board to fit and tack it up.

Unfortunately, it seems I don’t have the tools I need anymore. A coping saw just isn’t cutting it (pun intended). Well, I’ll just have to improvise. Or go get a better tool. One or the other.

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Okay, I’m willing to admit that I’m in some kind of writing slump. Maybe it’s writer’s block. I haven’t really accomplished any writing . . . well, not much really so far this year. All I have accomplished is some critiques for other writers, which is good, but it doesn’t get my stories down.

I don’t know what it is about MAGE STORM that’s just not moving me to write.

Mage Storm

Maybe it’s because I’ve already written this story and rewritten or heavily revised it at least once. The enthusiasm I had a couple of months ago for MEADOWSWEET . . . well, if I don’t act on that kind of enthusiasm fairly quickly, it tends to evaporate. And that’s pretty much what happened to that.

But I know my own creative process well enough to know that I’ll only get ideas–and enthusiasm for writing–when I’m writing. Conundrum, that. So, I need to figure out a way to break myself out of this. Maybe it’s going through my files and finding another story that sings to me.

Maybe it’s playing around with the first sequel to MAGE STORM. There’ll be at least four books in that series, if I can ever get off the start line with it. And I’ve never written a word of ROGUE MAGE. Maybe that would give me enough drive to actually rewrite the first book, MAGE STORM, so I could get to ROGUE MAGE. Only trying will tell.

Meanwhile, I still have a full roster of chores to work through, too. First and most urgent is getting the yard mowed. Now, you have to understand, I don’t really have a lawn as such–or only in a very small area. The rest I’m in the process of redoing in a more sustainable–and less labor intensive form. (I hate to mow almost as much as I hate to vacuum.) The problem with being in the middle of that project . . . well, a picture is worth a thousand words, they say.


It got so out of hand because of all the rain we’ve had so far this year. It kept on being too wet to mow, but all that water just made the weeds grow like crazy. That tall stuff back there, that’s mostly common mallow. It’s tough and fibrous and a problem to mow, even with that little mower in the picture which is actually a mega string trimmer with a 6 horsepower engine.

I have to do a little at a time–and then stop to unwind the fibers from the underside of the trimmer. And all made more interesting by having to find and then work around the plants I’ve already got out there as part of the re-landscaping. (You can just see some of the red berries on a pyracantha bush there to the left of the mower.) I’ve just determined that this is not likely a single weekend task.

And then there’s Monster-in-the Walls Part 2. I’m not kidding. Several years ago now, I kept hearing a scratching in the walls. It’d stop when I tried to locate it, but I finally narrowed it down to a short section of wall in the hallway. We actually cut a hole in the wall to figure out what was going on–and then hastily patched it back up when two little masked faces looked out at us. Raccoons. Specifically raccoon kits. Not long after, mama raccoon moved them out, fortunately. Now, it’s happening again. Except, I’m pretty sure this time it’s skunks. I don’t think I need to explain why I think that. Ooh, boy.

The reason this is even possible has to do with the history of the house. The chimney was already in place in what is now a corner when the addition–including the hallway–was built. There is no exterior wall in that short section that backs up to the chimney,  just a short bit of vertical siding between the chimney and the exterior of the addition. So the wall is, in effect, about twice as thick as normal. More than enough room for small creatures to explore up into the wall.


And the scratching is driving Sadie crazy.

This time, I think I’m going to have to figure out a more permanent solution.


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