My New Code&Quill

The fact that I’m addicted to anything made of paper isn’t much of a secret, and I have a particular fetish for notebooks. So when I started seeing the Code&Quill ads around ye olde internet for a notebook that a) was hardcover and b) laid flat, I c) gave them my money. This video shows me opening my Monolith, though I bought a 3-pack of their little Scribe notebooks as well. Have a look, and then go visit them at I’ll follow up with the Monolith in use in the near future.

Winds of Change

I’m in a weird transitional head space right now. On June 30 I finally graduated from grad school with an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, after two and a half years. The day before I left for my final week of school, I said goodbye to my job of six years. I’d been feeling for a while that this year was going to herald some major life changes, and to that extent it hasn’t disappointed.

Now what? Well, I’m doing some freelance/contract work that isn’t paying the bills, so I’m still looking for something full time and hopefully related to my field in some way. I’m also beginning my second novel, which is going to be huge and ambitious and a little terrifying to write, while hoping for some good news about the first one that I can’t discuss yet. I’ve submitted two novellas and a novelette to major spec-fic markets. Meanwhile, household medical issues continue; my braces came off this year as well (in April), bringing with it the unfortunate fallout of gum disease, periodontal treatment, and trips to the dentist every three months instead of six.

Yesterday we looked at a house for the first time. It was right next door so why not, and although it was a bit too much house for us (4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, a patio and a balcony) and about $250k out of our price range, I felt that much closer to our buying a house becoming a reality. It did have a great space for an office/library, which is on my must-have list. And exposed brick. And a Jacuzzi tub in the on-suite. Yeah, I probably would’ve bought it if I had the money. We’d just fill it with dogs.

Time Enough

I am counting the days until June 30. That’s the day I graduate from grad school with a shiny MFA and begin the rest of my life. It’s been a mostly enjoyable couple of years, and I’ve learned a lot, but this term is especially labor-intensive despite having finished my thesis (still needs edits). I’m ready to move on, both from the book and from school. I suppose I wouldn’t feel this way quite so much if the process hadn’t led to the unavoidable neglecting of so many other projects. Since completing my thesis, however, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to finish up a novella I began over 2 years ago, and to indulge in pleasure reading again.

But there is one thing I really, really miss and haven’t been able to fit back into my schedule yet. Art. You probably know by now that I have a BA in studio art. I draw, paint, photograph, collage… While I never pursued art as a career, it has always maintained an important role in my life. (And, since getting into the craftier side of things, I’ve become a junkie for Tim Holtz’s Idea-ology stuff.) I’m taking a leave of absence from work April 8 to May 6 in order to concentrate on my final project for school, but that will be the entire focus of my life during that time–as well as allow me to regain some of the sanity I’ve lost after spending 11 or more hours a day juggling school, writing, and my day job. In the interim between the end of class on May 6 and my final residency starting June 25 (with a 3-day jaunt to World Horror Con in between), however, getting back to art will be a major priority. I’ve got two collages-to-be sitting on my worktable already! And I want to get back into making music, which I started over 10 years ago. Maybe give my stuff a proper release on Bandcamp and probably for free.

I do have some good news–I’ve sold another short story. So, as of right now, I’ll have four stories out this year, three of them in anthologies. It’s pretty exciting, and since that leaves me with very few unsold stories left, I’m excited to get back to short fiction. I think short stories will always be my first love.

What about you? What are your passions, and how do you fit them into your life?

A 3-Day Weekend, Of Sorts

I don’t take a lot of time off. It’s true of my day job (my inexplicable loyalty is a topic for another post and/or a psychiatrist) and it’s certainly true of writing. My goal for this term is to write as much of my thesis as possible which, now that I’m past the struggles presented by the first three chapters, should not be terribly difficult to attain. The story has finally come together for me, and I’m looking forward to telling it. (I even wrote the synopsis during our break between terms!) There will be revisions, of course, but once that first draft is done, I’ll be happy.

The main reason I want to get it out of the way is to free up time for the other writing projects that are screaming for my attention. I received amazing feedback during the critique session for my story “Briar Rose” (well, except for that one bizarre comment…), and I can’t wait to revise it. I’ve got my next two novels planned. And more short stories. I’ve never been able to focus on one project at a time–I can’t even read one book at a time. I need to give myself a million projects, otherwise I feel completely useless.

So, while I don’t have to go to work until Tuesday, I’ll be pounding away on my keyboard for much of the weekend. I may allow myself to escape for brunch and a movie. But I can already hear my characters calling me…