Looking forward to 2016

After a pretty decent 2015, stirring things are in the air for 2016. Lots to look forward to, to keep up the momentum. Here’s where I’ve been:

The astronaut on the cover is the main character in my story, Murder on the Hohmann.
The astronaut on the cover is the main character in my story, Murder on the Hohmann.
  • In 2015 I sold one short story “Murder on the Hohman,” forthcoming in the anthology Futuristica)
  • I sold a nonfiction article for the SFWA Bulletin, forthcoming in February, on writing with a day job
  • I wrote The End on one novel and finished revisions on another one (inasmuch as revisions are ever really finished)
  • I wrote four short stories, two of which are out on submission, one sold, and one is waiting to get critiqued by my writers group
  • I wrote spec chapters for an epic fantasy that I will not abandonĀ  — it’s on suspended animation for now
  • I am in process of writing a science fiction screenplay for an idea I’ve been noodling around with for a while — also in suspended animation but not abandoned
  • I signed with Agent Jennie of Red Sofa Literary

Here’s where I’m going:

  • I plan to finish revisions on Book 1 of the Tales of Port Saint Frey and send to my agent (mid-January)
  • I plan to start revisions on Book 2 of the Tales of Port Saint Frey and send to my agent (Feb-March)
  • I plan to start Book 3 of the Tales of Port Saint Frey and finish by November or December
  • I plan to unsuspend the pending works and make headway on those as well
  • And I plan to write the short stories that make themselves known to me as wanting to be written.

So it’s a big year ahead. And it’s not just writing. I’ve started taking voice lessons and I’m thinking of adding piano lessons to that. I’m going to get back into the saddle in 2016 as well; I am ready to challenge myself again and be a rider (though I’m going to be reasonable about it.) I’m going to watch movies and hear music and be with my friends and work hard at the day job and the writing job, and try as much as possible to be happy.

There. Resolutions unlocked. Let’s do 2016.

October roundup

I tend not to post when my life is fraught. This is against the general tendency of the confessional blogger, so yeah, I can understand why I really don’t have a huge readership, but I’d rather not exploit my own nature, you know?

But radio silence can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to break through, and that’s not healthy either. So here’s what happened in October.

I stopped riding. I stopped rather abruptly, actually, first being lofted violently into the air and then slamming into the dirt of the ring so hard it was like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. I thought I left a Patrice-shaped impact crater.

Yes, I got bucked off by Grey Gus on October 3, and I haven’t been back in the saddle since. A trip to the ER determined no concussion and no breaks, but it was three weeks before I was back to normal.

I know. I’m the first one to say, “back into the saddle!” But I can truthfully say that it’s not fear that’s keeping my butt out of the saddle, but pragmatism.

I got lucky. Very lucky. I’m in my 50s. Bone loss is already going on, because that’s the nature of being a human female. I walked (hobbled) away from a wreck that the next time could break my back, my ribs, or my neck. So while I’m mourning this accident that has grounded me, I also know that I was extraordinarily fortunate, and the right move is to walk away from a sport I love.

I also had to take a hard look at what has been going on with me and Gus. Over the past months, he’s become less stable and more unpredictable. I’d already stopped riding him on the trails as he had become nervous and anxious, leading to attempts to bolt and buck me off. This made me more anxious with him, creating a feedback loop that riders are very familiar with.

So another truth I came face to face with — whatever I am doing has caused a change in Gus, making him too dangerous for me to ride. He had become disrespectful of my space as well, so for instance, it has become unsafe for me to lunge him in the round pen.

I happen to be a competent rider, but I am not a well-rounded trainer, and if I am causing Gus’s behavior issues, I need to stop at once. Gus bucking me off was not, as characterized by someone, a “murder move” but a very loud communication from a horse who was not being listened to.

I got lucky. This could have happened out on the trails.

So what now? Well, I will eventually get back on a horse, but I will make sure that is a quiet, very calm horse. I will go back to a beginner phase, which is fine. I don’t need to go cantering out on the trails, or jumping fences anymore. I will still go out and visit with Gus and make sure he’s loved and brushed and tended to. Horses will still be in my life.

So that was my October. I’ve also been writing, and I will have some updates on story sales for next time (I hope sooner than six weeks!). If you want to keep up with the stories that I’ve been reading and been talking up, visit my pinned page with the 2015 stories that have blown me away this year.

What’s been happening with you?

New Year’s Day Resolutions

  • Say YES.
  • Do what scares me.
  • Don’t give NO any power.
  • Work hard.
  • Challenge myself.
  • Get involved.
  • Take joy.
  • Remember all the birthdays.

This morning in 37 degree rainy weather I took the plunge into Barton Springs. It was a literal and figurative leap. Here’s what I discovered: even 68-degree water feels cold in the winter. But it’s good sometimes to do something that takes your breath away. Pebbled concrete on bare feet burns with cold. But that just makes dry feet and warm socks feel so meltingly good. Water slipping over skin feels like velvet, like silk, like — oh, just the best sensation of all. The cold on my face and on my feet when I kicked them into the air was a contrast in feeling.

Last year I took on a new day job which I love. It challenges me and excites me. The work I do matters, not just to me, but to the very small company I work for and our clients. I hadn’t understood until I left the previous job how essential meaningful work is to the soul.

This year I want to push harder on the dayjob, for that which pays the bills is as necessary to a writer as time to write in a quiet place.

This year, even though I am afraid to take the leap (see number two above) I must get involved in the political process, instead of just bitching about it from the outside.

So this morning I slipped into cold water. It was a bracing reminder of what I can do.

2015 Barton Springs New Year's Day plunge.
2015 Barton Springs New Year’s Day plunge.