Blooming

Last month, we enjoyed the Wind Moon—a time for clearing and letting go of what we don’t want. I let that thought be a meditative focus and cleared out two closets and a room that had fallen into entropy. All of those spaces are now being put to much more useful effect!

May’s full moon is sometimes called the Flower Moon. For this month, I’m focusing on bringing in beauty and joy to fill some of that cleared space. I want to let happiness and health blossom in myself and my family, and will try to make choices that support our growth.

What will you focus on?

A Novel Use for Planners

I try to be careful about keeping track of when things occur in my stories. This is especially important when writing series with books that contain overlapping events. Wandering Soul is actually the first of three books that will hopefully mark the beginning of such a series. The next two occur over the same three-day span (I pack a lot into those three days). And it all takes place this year—in 2015!

To make sure I had everything straight during edits (and while writing the second book—which is already submitted *fingers crossed*—and plotting out the third), I figured out when things happened and wrote them down in my actual yearly planner. My system for separating my real life and the lives of these characters is simple. Anything that’s a book event is in brackets (<>).

It is so cool to see things like, “<Dante’s Birthday>” and then flip a few pages and see “Real-person’s Birthday”. And I noticed something extra-special this week—the first event of Wandering Soul (you know, that whole, “pulled from certain death” part of the blurb) takes place this very Saturday!

I will absolutely need to do something to celebrate, even if it’s as simple as raising a glass of tea to Elsa and Dante and wishing them luck on their journey. Over the ensuing couple of weeks in their universe, they’ll certainly need it!

Columbia’s First Voyage

A while back, I wrote a post called Write What You Know. In it, I mentioned watching Columbia launch and that I needed to tell that story. Here it is.

My dad was an avid astronomy fan. He had a 4 inch Unitron refractor that his dad built from a kit. Great for planetary viewing. The thing is probably six feet long and its tripod weighs a ton, but I would still sometimes lug it outside at five o’clock in the morning before heading to High School. I would look at Mars or the rings of Saturn or try to see Jupiter’s red spot. He taught me to love the stars early.

We lived in Florida when Columbia launched—close to the coast right across from Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island. Dad woke us up super-early that day. Usually, he’d already be off at work and mom would get us out of bed, so we knew something super-special was going on. Dad missing work? Keeping us home from school? Madness! I remember being upset because I wanted to sleep in longer.

They drove us down a strip of road along the coast and pulled over in a spot that was nothing but scrubby grass trying to cling to sand. And cars. Lots and lots of cars.

I didn’t understand why so many people had gathered in an empty space. Dad led us to a row of trees that lined the road and grew right down into the water. The strangeness of the day escalated. The trees were full of grown-ups—as far as I could see. They were hanging in them, leaning out while holding onto the branches, everyone staring across the water. It was one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen. I remember wondering if everyone had decided to live like great apes again and was kind of excited at the thought of learning how to brachiate (I was really young, but already quite eccentric).

My dad lifted me into a tree, despite my mom protesting. He held on and told me to watch across the water. I remember the white billowing cloud, the tiny shuttle hurtling up, up, up. I marveled at the astronauts’ courage and wondered if I would ever make it to the stars myself.

I remember my dad had tears in his eyes as he tried to explain to us how special what we had just seen was—how fortunate we were to be alive in a time when something so incredible was happening. I remember feeling awe and gratitude.

For being alive in this amazing time and for the memory he gave me, I’m still grateful to this day.

Do you have any childhood memories that you’re grateful for? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Patience—Revisited

One of the skills I’ve been really building lately is patience. Every step of the way in the publishing process, waiting is involved. Get an idea. Patiently type out each word until the book is done. Set it aside, even though you want to edit it NOWNOWNOW. Realize edits will take much longer than you thought, even though you really wanted to submit it right away. Rewrite, edit, repeat. Submit it! Oh wait. First you need to write the synopsis and query letter. Okay, then submit it!

Then wait.

And wait.

And wait.

I didn’t realize that all of that waiting was actually great practice for when the acceptance letter finally arrived. The publishing process takes time, and it can be months until your work hits the shelves. Months full of rushing to meet deadlines, then waiting to receive the next ones–short bursts of activity followed by long weeks of wondering what to do next.

It’s important to remain productive during the limbo periods. Patience will serve you well throughout each step of the process (and probably in your non-writing life as well!).

Happy Birthday, Dante!

On April 2 of the year 1881, in the world of Wandering Soul, Dante Lucerne—the hero of the book—celebrated his 36th birthday. He spent the day in quiet reflection, wandering through the theatre where he worked and lived.

Rather than give in to the feelings of isolation that sometimes plagued him due to people’s reaction to his disfigurement, he chose to focus on memories of his mother, Deirdre. He spent the day consciously being grateful for the gift of life that she gave him.

He had no idea it would be his last birthday spent in the Victorian era, or that when he met Elsa Sinclair he would suddenly go from 36 to 170! He could never have imagined that his simple life would feed into stories that evolved into legend, or dared to dream that their friendship could grow into love.

April Fool’s

I’m not a fan of April Fool’s Day. I don’t like pranks and am always sure to let people know if I suspect they have shenanigans in mind. A particular birthday comes to mind where a friend decided to prank me incessantly even after I expressed my displeasure about it. That was the end for me. But I wasn’t always this way.

One of the more bizarre aspects of my childhood (which is saying something, because there are many to choose from) was that my mom decided to teach us how to use our toes to grasp and manipulate objects. She started when we were babies, holding toys against our fingers and our toes for us to practice gripping. She had read about doing this in a book. We kind of took the skill and ran with it 😉

We never were nearly as dextrous with our feet as with our hands, but being able to do a few things with our toes was actually useful sometimes. I still don’t have to stop and bend down to pick things up when I’m vacuuming–I can just grab whatever small item is in my way with my toes and hang onto it till I’m close to wherever I want to put it. I used to be able to write fairly legibly and could even draw rudimentary pictures with my toes. Oh right, and I used to perform scenes from Shakespeare with my feet puppet theatre-style, much to the delight of my family (I did say that my childhood was bizarre). I wrote a paper about it all in college called “POddity.” See what I did there? Pod + Oddity. Okay, moving on.

I haven’t always used my powers for the greater good, though. I used to primarily use it to mess with people.

In High School, I was sitting in a small study room with a guy I knew. He was doing homework and I was pretending to read. I always wore shoes I could easily slip on and off with no socks for just such an opportunity. He had his back to the only door and no one came in or out while we were studying. I slipped my feet from my shoes, stretched them across the floor, and untied his shoes…then tied his laces to his chair legs. The whole time, I would periodically turn pages in my book, so as not to raise his suspicions.

When he stood to go to the bathroom, his chair went with him. He looked at me like I was an alien and said, “How did you do that?!”

How indeed.

I gave him my most innocent look and said, “Do what?” We had a good laugh and went on with our day.

I’ve fallen out of practice and can’t do much more than pick up bulky things with my toes now. If I try to write or anything more involved, my metatarsals cramp up! Looking back, it’s just another blip in an eccentric life that has fed my imagination. But those memories… I’m definitely going to hold onto them. Get it? Hold? *ahem*

Happy April Fool’s Day.