Monday, December 23, 2013

The Year in Review-2013

It's that time of year again. I enjoy looking back on what I've accomplished over the past year, and setting goals for the new year. One of the things I started doing this year was keeping better track of sales, publications, and stories written. I'm not the most unorganized person in the world, but I'm no neat freak either.

My non-writing life saw some great moments, too. My three year old learned how to use the potty (that's a huge accomplishment, for kids and parents both), and he started pre-school, which meant a few hours each week of uninterrupted me time! Woo hoo! He continues to amaze me with his wit and knowledge. And gosh darn it, he's just plain cute.

Writing-wise, I fell behind on all the things I wanted to do, but I still accomplished quite a bit. I wrote two novels, one of which I'm now editing (actually, I'm procrastinating by working on this blog post). I also wrote a novella. At twenty-thousand-something words, it might be a little hard to place with a market, but if I don't place it, I plan on self-publishing it, which will be a first for me. I also wrote three short stories. Of those three, I've sold one, I'm editing another before sending it out, and I decided the third doesn't quite cut the mustard, so into the trunk it goes.

I also attended the World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio as well as my local convention, Bubonicon. Both were fun. I love meeting with writers in person. There's always this amazing energy, and always plenty of witty banter. There's still a week or so left in the year, but I'm claiming that I've read 44 books this year (I might fit in one more by year's end).

Next year, I plan on writing two more books and twelve short stories. It's a lofty goal, but goals are meant to be lofty, are they not? I'm not planning on attending any conventions (boo). And, as always, I will eat plenty of chocolate.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Your Home Might Be Trying to Kill You

I went to a continuing education class a couple of weeks ago on anxiety, stress, and depression. As one might imagine, it had its downer moments, including tidbits of information that led me to believe that I'm surrounded by nothing but carcinogens. It was rather anxiety inducing, and yes, stressful. They should've handed out little Xanax samples along with the certificates.

The discussions ranged from the foods we eat to the jewelry we wear to the items that surround us, all of which could be contributing to our health, sometimes quite adversely. One of the things brought up was how granite countertops might give off radiation. That's right, you could be standing there, chopping onions or trimming the fat off chicken, and soaking up some radiation. Now, the amounts given off are probably small, but it does raise questions. Like, how much will it cost to remodel the kitchen...?

I first heard about the granite countertop/radiation issue a few years ago while doing research for my novel Shards of History. In the novel, the Maddion, a group of people who live in the mountains--their homes are actually carved into the mountains--suffer from a disease that's killing them all off. Although the disease was given to them through magical means, I was searching for a real-life disease as inspiration, and I came across radiation poisoning and the radiation given off by granite. So then I wondered, what if somebody was powerful enough to magically cause high levels of radiation to emit from the very place where these people live? And I had the basis for the disease. It doesn't exactly follow radiation poisoning as we know it, but I felt that basing it on an actual medical problem would make it seem more realistic. So in their case, their home is most definitely trying to kill them.

Just a day or two before this class, this news story came out about some people who stole a truck in Mexico filled with radioactive material. I figured the thieves wanted the truck, and later decided to pry open the containers to see what was inside. The thieves were caught, and they are lucky that they didn't end up with radiation sickness.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I've been thinking about failure lately. For one, I recently listened to this Writing Excuses podcast on fail in your writing career, and what to do about it. For another, I failed to reach 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo this year. I'm slightly disappointed in this failure, but since I managed to finish a novella during this time, I'm quite pleased overall. And besides, I also have a few short story ideas outlined, so I actually accomplished quite a bit during November.

Sometimes failure is a blip on the screen, like this year's NaNoWriMo. Other times, however, it's huge, or at least it feels that way. The first time I applied to physical therapy school, I was turned down. I was devastated. I think I cried. I certainly moped for days and had all sorts of negative thoughts swirling through my head. But then I pulled myself together and thought about what I could do the following year to improve my odds, and I set out to do those things. And the next year, not only did I get into a school, but I got into the school I wanted (whereas the year before, I'd applied to the only one I had the prerequisites for). So ultimately, things turned out very well.

When I decided to take up writing and start submitting my work, I took on a whole new set of fears and risks. Could I finish a story? What about novels? Would anybody like my stories? Buy them? I made a lot of mistake early in my writing career, both in the craft of writing and in submitting stories for publication. I cringe to think of them, but they were honest mistakes, and I learned from them. And really, none of them were so awful that anybody will remember (I think....).

Failure leads to learning. And sometimes we fail, but then a better option comes along. For more words of wisdom on how failure can lead to success, you can read this article.