Monday Muse: 2013-07-29

Me: Hello.

*silence*

Me: Hello?

*more silence*

Me: Hello!

*even more silence*

Me: HELLO!!!!

*echoes of my own voice returning to me from the ether*

Me: Huh. Odd. I guess I’ll get back to writing this short story.

No Novel Yet

So I think I mentioned somewhere on Facebook that with the new job, I’ll have 25 hours a week added back to my life. I did the math, and if I dropped all of that time into my writing projects, I should be able to do a novel a month. At the same time, I also proclaimed this was very much not likely.

Well, with the 25 hours a week I’ve been given back to me, I’ve managed to outline quite a bit of world building, start on a large city map, and get the first 800 words of the “origin story” of Egan and Stiles down in Scrivener.

I’m not entirely displeased with this progress, but I’m not entirely happy either. I feel like I should be doing more, moremore, dammit.

Despite the lack of progress on the new novel, I have been busy. I started (and finished) a contract web development job for a client. I also finalized and released the new web site for the Pikes Peak Writers. I also finished and released the Pikes Peak Writers Workshop Proposal Portal.

Yeah. I’ve been busy. I’ve packed lots into that “spare” 25 hours a week.

Oh. I’ve also managed to spend quite a bit more time with my son (mainly playing Batman Lego 2) and that warms my soul.

Monday Muse: 2013-07-22

My muse has been strangely silent this week. I think it’s because the analytical half of my brain has overwhelmed any possible creative juices I may have flowing with the map making (I’m more logical about maps than artistic) for the upcoming setting of the new series.

I’m roughly halfway done with the map, and I’m mostly happy with it. The parts I’m not happy with can be touched up with The Gimp.

… back to the hand-cramping efforts of drawing the map on a 12″x18″ sheet of paper!

Writin’ & Ramblin’

As you guys can tell, my muse has forced me down a path to where I’m starting a new series. For those of you that know me, you know that I’m a serious world builder. It’ll probably be 2-3 months before I actually outline the first story for Egan and Stiles. I have world building to do!

This doesn’t mean I’m not going to be thinking about the characters, story, plot, arcs, antagonist(s), minor characters, and all that good stuff. I’m making notes on all of that as well, but my main focus right now is the city in which the stories will unfold.

I don’t anticipate Egan and Stiles to leave the city during the tales I’m telling. They might go under the city, but probably not outside it. We’ll see how things unfold.

Wednesday Doodle for atfmb!

A good friend of mine, Patrick, put out a call for doodles for his site. I scribbled one out on a sticky note, took a photo of it, and sent it his way.

He just posted it on his site. You can find my doodle here.

It’s a quick scribble of the Sword of Fanuviel, which is an artifact from my yet-to-be-published trilogy.

Go check out my (somewhat pathetic) artistic abilities!

Monday Muse: 2013-07-15

Muse: What ya doin’?

Me: Working on my map like you told me to.

Muse: Oh. The city?

Me: Yeah.

Muse: *points over my shoulder at the map* What’s with the little black blocks?

Me: Those are buildings.

Muse: What kind of buildings?

Me: The built kind. I don’t know yet. I’m not going to detail every little pebble in the city. Things’ll develop as I tell the story.

Muse: How do you plan on telling all of them apart if they’re all black blobs?

Me: I’ll color code them.

Muse: How? Again, they’re all black!

Me: It’s called Photoshop. I’ll select a black shape and fill it in with a different color.

Muse: Photoshop?

Me: Yeah. It’s a digital image editor. You know. On the computer.

Muse: Computer, huh?

Me: Yeah. Welcome to the twenty-first century.

Muse: Oh. Getting all uppity with me, huh?

Me: Nope. Just encouraging you to maybe update yourself a little. Not everyone still uses quill and parchment, you know?

Muse: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Whatever.

Me: Is there anything else you need?

Muse: No. I just wanted to make sure you were working on the new story ideas.

Me: Yep. Sure am. Now go away and leave me alone.

Muse: There you go again. Getting all uppity. I can tell you’re stressed.

Me: Nope. Not stressed. It’s just that my hand’s cramping from drawing these tiny little details, and that’s making me moody.

Muse: Ah. Well, I’d suggest you take a break, but that’s not my job.

Me: Then go away and let me work on this map.

Muse: Uppity, I tell you. I might not come back. *fades into the darkness*

Me: *in a whisper* … if I were only so lucky.

Muse: *from somewhere in the room* I heard that!

R.I.P.: Onyx

onyx01I’m sitting here at a coffee shop about a mile from my veterinarian’s office. I just left there after crying tears of grief over the body of many companion of the last thirteen years. I’ve lost pets before. Many times before. This is different. Hell, it’s always different. Each life that comes into our world leaves that world a different, hopefully better, place. Each new friend we make is a little strange. Each friend that parts ways with us, regardless of how that parting happens, is a unique loss.

I’ve known Onyx for thirteen of her fifteen years. When I close my eyes, I can hear the barks and yips of the canines around us at the shelter. When I think back to that day over a decade ago, I can still see the hope and potential love of the shiny black dog wagging her tail at me. Her lopsided grin captured my heart. I hear her whine of disappointment when I turn my back on her to see if I can “find something better” like I’m shopping for a used car. I stopped mid-step and turned back to her.

I looked into her eyes. I could see the endless love and pure faith she would have in me during our time together. Even going into our relationship, I knew that odds were on the side of me writing these words. Like I said, I’ve had plenty of pets in the past. I’ve grieved over many a furry little critter during my forty years. Despite the knowledge in my brain of this day that was to come, my heart pushed those thoughts away. All I could think of were the days, weeks and years ahead in which I would have a solid companion by my side.

onyx05My wife wasn’t as completely sold on the idea of a dog joining our household as I was. I suppose the pleading look in my eyes and the desperation in my voice signalled to her that this happy dog before us would be a good addition to our family. While I can’t speak for her today, I’m pretty sure she would agree with me that Onyx brought so much more love and happiness into our lives than heartache and grief. Even on a day like today, I’m certain of this.

When the veterinary technician at the kennel released the dog to us, she looked at us with worry. “This dog has hip dysplasia and kennel cough.” I knew that kennel cough was normal for every dog coming out of a place like this shelter. That was normal and not a big deal. I didn’t care about the potential hip dysplasia. All I knew in that moment was that this wonderful creature wagging her tail before me had already stolen my heart.

Without hesitation, I responded, “That’s fine. We’ll make sure she has the best medical care if she does have any problems.”

While walking her to the car, I spotted a swollen ankle on her left-rear leg with a fresh scar on the joint. I carefully watched her gait as she walked. Onyx (though we didn’t come up with that name for a week or two later) didn’t have hip dysplasia. She had a bad ankle and limped because of it.

A few days later, we were at our veterinarian’s office (the very same one I just left), and gave our yet-to-be-named dog a full check-over. Yep. She had kennel cough and a bad ankle. The ankle was from some sort of untreated injury, not surgery. The scar probably happened at the same time. We couldn’t spay her (as per our agreement with the shelter) until the kennel cough was taken care of.

onyx03It took several rounds of treatment and a few weeks to clear her cough up, but the day came for her spay. Later that morning, we received a phone call telling us that Onyx (who had her name by this time) was pregnant! Oi! Puppies. We opted to not keep the puppies since we didn’t want to contribute to the problems of pet overpopulation that led to our Onyx ending up in a shelter in the first place.

We’d always thought our emaciated dog had gained weight because she was on a good diet again. Turns out that most of her weight gain was due to the pregnancy. Once we got past the spay procedure, she put on weight… too much weight. It turns out that living on the streets can instill a huge food drive in a dog. We had to ration her meals and feed her twice a day as opposed to free feed her. Once we got her on a regular diet, her weight came back into where it should be, and it stayed there for the remainder of her life.

Onyx had joined our family right around Thanksgiving time. When it came time to wrap presents for Christmas, we pulled out the rolls of wrapping paper. Onyx immediate pissed all over the floor, bowed her head and tucked her tail with a whine. My wife was completely baffled by this behavior, and it took a few moments for me to realize what was going on as well.

onyx02Onyx had been abused. The beating into the ground with a stick or rod type abuse. This abuse makes me sick to my stomach. It boils my blood. How could someone take such a loving creature and beat her into submission? I just don’t understand the horrific creatures of the world that feel they must make themselves feel superior to everything else by putting down those unable to defend themselves.

Once I realized what had happened to Onyx, I decided I wanted her to overcome her fears of abuse. She shouldn’t have to worry about that ever again while she was part of our family. Once we finished wrapping gifts, to took one of the empty tubes and put it on the floor next to me. I called Onyx over. She eyed the tube. She eyed me. I patted my lap, and she reluctantly came over. She laid her head in my lap with a slight whine of uncertainty. I petted her for a while, and she relaxed.

I snuck my hand over to the tube and picked it up. I rubbed her back and chest and belly with it until she finally realized what was going on. She pissed the floor (just a little) and whined some, but I reassured her with gentle tones. She came around. It took a few more weeks of work, but by the time the new year rolled around, I had her playing fetch with the tubes and wanting to play with them.

She had overcome her fears, and that made me happy.

The intervening years between when Onyx wagged her way into our life and when she let loose her final sigh of breath have had their ups and downs. She’s torn up carpet, eaten the bottom portion of doors in panic and fright during a storm while we were away. She’s had upset stomachs from eating the wrong thing. She’s snored loud enough to wake us. She’s chased the cats when she wasn’t supposed to. She didn’t chase the cats a few times when we wanted her to. She’s been stubborn and not wanted to go outside to do her “business” when a snow storm raged overhead.

onyx04Despite this, I’d not trade a single moment of the past thirteen years. She’s been that faithful companion I knew she would be from the start. She’s loved us. We’ve loved her. We’ll miss her a great deal, but I know she’s now up in Heaven with a perfectly good ankle chasing cats like she always loved to… and she never has to go outside in the snow to do her “business.”

Unless she wants to, of course.

I love you, Onyx.

You’ll be missed.

Monday Muse: 2013-07-08

From time to time, my muse rears her head and talks to me. I’ve managed to capture some of these conversations and am sharing them with you. I will warn you that my muse is a potty-mouth. I have no control over what she tells me. Sorry.

Me: What is this time? Another Egan and Stiles idea?

Muse: Of course it is. That’s what I want you to write right now.

Me: Dammit. Fine. *blows out exasperated breath* Hit me with it.

Muse: Here’s how I think the government of the city they’re in should be laid out. *whispers in my ear*

Me: *whips out Scrivener and furiously takes notes*

Muse: Now that we’re done with that, the magic system you want to use has some holes in it. Here’s how to fix those holes. *more whispers*

Me: *more scrambled typing into a document*

Muse: Now. You told me you wanted to draw a map of the city before you started telling their stories? Right?

Me: Yeah. So?

Muse: Get to crackin’ on the map already! I want to give you the story line for Egan and Stiles by this time next week. You need a map to figure out where you’ll be placing events. Get to it!

Me: Fine. I’ll get my map-making kit out. *looks up on the shelf where the colored pencils and large pad of paper are at*

Muse: Good. I’ll be back in a week. *fades into the darkness*

Monday Muse: 2013-07-01

From time to time, my muse rears her head and talks to me. I’ve managed to capture some of these conversations and am sharing them with you. I will warn you that my muse is a potty-mouth. I have no control over what she tells me. Sorry.

Muse: I’m telling you this is a great idea for a novel.

Me: I know it is, but I have to finish this one first!

Muse: Well, quit dicking around with your web development side projects and get to work on the novel. You’re only twenty thousand words in! You’ve got at least another eighty thousand more to go! Get crackin’.

Me: If you’d stop bothering me about Egan and Stiles and their adventures and back story and descriptions and stuff like that, maybe I could focus on Warmother.

Muse: You can be a whiney little bitch sometimes. You know that?

Me: Yeah. Yeah. If I didn’t have a slave-driving Muse breathing down my neck all the time, maybe I’d be able to focus.

Muse: Humph. Fine. Be that way. I’ll go give some ideas to some other people.

Me: Feel free, but I know you’ll be back. You can’t resist giving me more creative fodder than what I can deal with.

Muse: We’ll see about that. *fades into darkness*