Lull Before the Storm…

I don’t usually blog on the weekend. Hell, I don’t usually work on weekends period, but I’m making an exception today because today is the last day of sanity before the crazy that is going to be my April hits. Before I get into that though, I’d like to take a second to say yay. Yay! I am still on track with my Write1Sub1 goals. And also, thank gawd for Write 1 Sub 1. Without it to use as motivation I don’t think I would have produced any new material this month. But I did.

In March I continued to work my way (slowly) through the How to Revise Your Novel course with Twixt. I also started, then re-started a short (ghost) story. It’s going to require at least one more restart before I make it to the end, I think, but still… I also wrote several new poems which are currently resting before I go back and revise them next month and I revised two of the poems I wrote in November (O_o) and added them into my “submission pool” (for lack of a better description). That means I have 16 pieces all currently out looking for new homes. I made 10 submissions this month too, and if you’re paying attention that means you know I collected 8 rejection letters. Whee! LOL #trytryagain

Now, enough looking back, it’s time to look forward.

April.

April is going to be nuts, because I, apparently, am nuts.

In addition to everything I usually do I am going to be participating in three separate challenges. O_o I know, right?

First I’ll be doing the Blogging from A to Z challenge. The good news on this one is that I’ve got roughly half of my blog posts already written and pre-scheduled. That doesn’t mean I won’t have anything to do on those days though, because one of the more time consuming parts of that challenge is going to be visiting the blogs of other people who are participating. Also, I expect it to mean I’ll have increased traffic here, and I like to try to reply to all the comments on my blog, so… Yeah.

I’m also going to be doing the April Poem-a-Day challenge. I’m not actually interested in entering the contest portion of the challenge, but I want to write a poem to go with each prompt, ideally on the day the prompt is offered. If you don’t think that will be a challenge perhaps you weren’t aware that I’m still working my way through the prompts from the November 2011 Poem-a-Day challenge LOL

But wait! There’s more!

I also decided to check out Robert Brewer’s April Platform Challenge. I’m not sure how much of that challenge will be applicable to me because, well, I’ve never done a platform challenge before LOL, but it should be fun to find out.

So yeah… the crazy is going to start tomorrow. I hope the daily blog posts won’t drive you all away and I hope I’ll still be standing when May 1st rolls around.

Wish me luck, I’ll need it, and if you’re participating in any of those challenges with me, let me know. Company is always a good thing 🙂

Sale: Waste Not

The contract has been received and agreed to, so I feel secure in announcing that my story “Waste Not” has been sold to Stupefying Stories and will appear in one of their future issues. Yay!

Personally, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I might manage to share a table of contents with Beth Cato, but we’ll have to wait and see, I guess 🙂

 

 

Month of Letters

Month of LettersI participated in the Month of Letters this year. The idea was that every day in the month of February I would send something out to someone via snail mail. I know, you’re probably looking at the date at the bottom right corner of your screen, scratching your head and re-reading that second sentence. I know the Month of Letters officially ended almost a full month ago and I’m just doing a recap about it now but, the thing is, it’s still not over. Not for me. Not really.

I didn’t know who I was going to write in February so I posted on here, Twitter and the Month of Letters forums and said if you want me to write you, send me your address. And you did. A lot of you did. I wish I’d kept better records so I could say exactly how many of you gave me your address and your blessing to send you a letter, but I didn’t. I don’t actually even know how successful I was at doing the Month of Letters LOL.

I didn’t write everyday. I just couldn’t. However, I did write most days, and I think I made up for the ones I missed by writing two or three letters on some days. More importantly (to me) I wrote every single person who sent me their address. It took a long time, I had more addresses than there were days in February, but last week I mailed off the last letter I owed anyone from February (better late than never, right?).

Writing the letters was awesome. It gave me an excuse to buy schmexy papers and envelopes (always win) and when people wrote back it meant I got to meet new people. I feel like several of those people are going to become true and lasting friends. What’s more, it helped me connect with existing friends on a different and more real level than we previously had.

Writing letters is going to remain a very important part of my life from now on. It really is. Without sounding too flaky, I feel like regularily writing letters has been a transformative expirience for me. Writing to friends is like having a little conversation with them, except in my head and on paper (one of my new friends phrased it that way, I thought it was perfect) and it’s so awesome. In order to have that conversation I have to slow things down, focus on just what I’m doing. It’s not like writing an email where I might stop part way through to check Twitter, or where my attention is divided between four email accounts, the website I’m referencing and the open Word .doc I’m working in. When I write a letter, a real letter, that gets my complete attention. It’s relaxing, meditative.

I’m not doing a very good job of explaining, I don’t think, but it has helped me make real connections, both with other people and myself. I love it, and I have the Month of Letters to thank for it. Yay!

Do you write snail mail letters? Has your expirience been similar to mine?

If you haven’t written a letter in a long time, why not try it? Send me your address even (email, comment, whatever) and I’ll drop you a line to get you started 🙂

My Thoughts…

For the past couple years I have made a very concerted effort to keep my politics and personal beliefs far away from this blog. It hasn’t been easy, I’m a pretty opinionated woman and I don’t excel at biting my tongue, but I’ve done it. I think that was a mistake. I think it was a mistake because maybe it’s people keeping their opinions to themselves (or in my case, off my blog) that allow horrible laws to be passed. Laws like the one that requires women seeking an abortion to “consent” to a transvaginal ultrasound. Are you kidding me? I don’t want to simply re-iterate what wiser people than I have said about this (people like Jim C Hines and John Scalzi’s guest blogger) but I can’t say nothing at all. In my opinion (oh how it hurt me to write those three words) that is rape. Period.

I am pro-choice but I really, truly, do understand the pro-life position. I do. And I respect that people who are pro-life honestly and truly believe that abortion is murder. I can imagine how difficult it must be for them to accept that there are women out there who are chosing to have them, but abortions are legal medical procedures. It is NOT okay to penalise a woman for having one and, as far as I can tell, that is the primary purpose this required ultrasound serves. At best it’s meant as a deterrent to abortion and frankly, it’s not the government’s place to provide that.

I tend to find phrases like ‘War on Women’ to be a bit hyperbolic, but then, when I go from reading about state-sanctioned rape to reading about proposed laws that would make it legal for employers to fire women for using birth control it makes me begin to wonder.

I recently read “The Heretic’s Daughter” and I was talking to Jo about it. I thought it was a wonderful book, but made me tense while I was reading it. Just watching how people could throw logic, common sense and rational thought out the window and be caught up in the whole witch-hunting hysteria was horrifying to me. “Sadly,” Jo said, “we’re not really that far removed from that even now.” Is he right? I don’t know. I am beginning to think maybe he is.

In what reality is it actually okay for a bunch of strangers (mostly male strangers) to mandate whether or not a woman can use birth control, or force her to have something shoved into her vagina? No, really. I want to know.

Nathan Crowder wrote a blog post recently called “Faith: A User’s Guide“. I read it, nodding my head the whole way through. Everyone ought to read it, especially lawmakers. The most important point that Nathan makes is that your personal beliefs are just that, personal.

Until people really and truly get that, we’ll continue to require people like Stacey Newman to keep making the ‘stay out of my uterus’ point. Stacey proposed a new law that would make it illegal for a man to get a vasectomy unless he could prove that it would save him from serious injury or death. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it is (which is why she proposed it in the first place). Just like these laws focused on women. The main difference is that the vasectomy law will never come into being. I wonder why?

Hmm…

Guest Bloggers

I mentioned a while back that I was going to try and have more guests on my blog, and I am, but so far I haven’t actually gotten around to organising that in any sort of proactive way. This post is meant to change that. I thought it might be nice to have one blog post I could point to when I ask on social media sites and the like for people to do a guest blog spot here.

One thing you should know is that I can’t stand blog posts, and especially guest blog posts, which are actually blog-sized book advertisements. They drive me bonkers. That’s not what I’m looking for here. Guest blogs on my blog can be about pretty much anything related to writing (there’s even some flexibility toward gaming and/or crafting as we’ve seen me leaning that way a bit these past few weeks) but they have to have some content other than ‘This is all about my book. Here’s the blurb for my book, and the cover for my book, and look down here, it’s the links for where you can buy my book!’. That is actually pretty much the only ‘rule’ I have, come to think of it.

You have to promote your book, of course you do, but don’t look at my blog as just a giant infomercial. Write a blog post like Jon Pinnock did, which is about his book (Mrs. Darcy Versus the Aliens) but relates that book to something else. Or write a blog entry like Charlotte English‘s, which was on a topic she truly cared for, and was well-written and interesting enough that you wanted to follow the link to her own blog at the bottom of it.

I am happy to do guest blog exchanges if that works out better for you, but it’s not a requirement, I’m very happy to share your words with my readers either way.

For my part I promise to do what I can to make sure the greatest number of people possible see your post. My readership isn’t huge, but it’s growing. I’m happy to share more details via email if you’d like, but I don’t want to post them here because then it would be extra work to keep them up-to-date. In addition to the traffic I receive here directly, this blog is mirrored onto LiveJournal. I also tweet about each blog post (usually twice) and those tweets are mirrored to my Facebook account. Yay mirrors!

If you’re interested in making a guest appearance on my blog, for whatever reason, just let me know. There are loads of ways to contact me. A comment here, on on my LJ, a message on Twitter or Facebook, or good old fashioned email (rhonda@jofigure.com).

Finally, in case you were curious about my choice of photograph… I’ve been trying to include a photo with every blog post, but I didn’t have a clue what to put to go with this topic, so I just picked a picture from my Flickr account that I liked. It’s my blog, I can use random photos if I wanna :-p

New Plan

Yesterday I blogged about my quilt, the one my mother made me when I was teeny tiny. By the time I’d finished that blog entry I had pretty much talked myself out of getting rid of the quilt but if I hadn’t the response I’ve received on my website, Livejournal and privately would have changed my mind.

To everyone who commented or contacted me anywhere, thank you. Really. You’re awesome.

I want you to know that I’ve got a new plan for dealing with the quilt. I’m going to cut the ties out and take the backing and batting out. I’ll applique something (I have a few ideas 😉 ) over the big holes in the top and then re-quilt it.

To everyone who asked, yes, I am a quilter too, and I’m not bad (you can see some of my work here). When I said I lacked the skill to fix it, it was because, for some reason I was completely focused on fixing the quilt as a whole. Once I realised I could get rid of the back and batting and simply “patch” (haha) the top it became clear this is a job I could handle.

And who knows, maybe next time it needs fixing my daughter will take care of it adding her own personal touch to it, and then maybe my grandchildren…

Yeah, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but I think the point I wanted to share is that the quilt is safe. Thank you SO MUCH for caring. Truly. I will update this blog with progress as I make it, but there are a few projects ahead of this one on my crafty to-do list so it could be quite some time.

seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew

O_o I got up to answer the phone and when I came back my cat (Absinthe) had typed that. Since it was on topic I decided to leave it. In case you’re viewing this somewhere the formatting is weird, that says sew… more or less.

A Little Story…

I want to tell you a little story.

See this?

This is my quilt.

It’s also my cat –>

That’s Eowyn. You’ve met her before, but this story isn’t about her, she just happened to be on the bed and unwilling to move when I took the picture about the real star of this tale:

<– My quilt.

So, as I said, this is my quilt. My mother sewed it for me when I was little. I’m not sure exactly how young I was, but I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have it, so I’m going with very young. It’s a king-sized quilt and she sewed it out of squares of fabric she’d cut out of clothes (I assume it’s clothes people had grown out of). When you consider that I was born in 1976 and I’ve had this as long as I can remember, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear a lot of that fabric is polyester. There’s some cotton, some denim and even some fabric I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a whole lot of polyester. The backing was a flannel sheet, and there was loads of stuffing. My mom hand-tied that beast, at every point where the squares meet she pulled wool through and tied it.

My quilt is freaking heavy. It’s even heavier when you’re a kid, but I loved it then as I love it now. I would drag that thing across the lawn to lay it out for a picnic when we lived in the city, or drape it over chairs or tables to make the most secure fort you can imagine. When I’d have nightmares I would duck beneath it, growing sweatier by the moment but also safe, secure beneath its weight. When we moved to the country you might think I’d be smart enough to leave it indoors, but you’d be wrong. That quilt has been through fields and corrals, it has hosted tea parties and listened to whispered teenage secrets.

I know it like no other object in my life. I spent countless insomnia-filled nights counting the squares, playing with the wool ties or looking for a pattern in amongst the chaos. I know the texture of each block and I have favourites among them.

Sadly though, the quilt has seen better days.

It’s worn and strained. The backing sheet is threadbare beyond words, stained and tired. Polyester being nearly immortal those squares are fine up top, but the rest are giving up the fight. The batting is also a mess, spread bare in some places and clumped up in others. There are holes big enough to stick my fist (or my foot) though. The quilt has spent the last four years or so in my closet, waiting while I tried to figure out what to do with it, how to restore it, how to save it. Recently I was forced to admit that really, it’s time had come. There might be a way to painstakingly pull out all the damaged parts and add new ones in, but it’s beyond my skill or the time I have to offer to it. I could applique stuff on over the big holes and put a new back on it, but… welll, it wouldn’t be the same.

So I’m saying goodbye to my quilt. I pulled it out, I put it on my bed and we’ve been using it, sort of a ‘last hurrah’.

Then an interesting thing happened. Nothing that will preserve the quilt, but sweet and worth sharing.

Jo was trying to get some work done and Danica and I were baking together and being a bit noisy so he took his books into the bedroom. He’d been in there for a while when suddenly he popped his head around the corner into the kitchen and said, “Hey, Rhonda, did you know that my tartan is all over that quilt?”

Sure enough, the plaid blocks all over my quilt, the one my mom made for me over 30 years ago, is Jo’s family’s tartan.

Just one more reason my quilt rocks.

 

…maybe I should try to find time to save it after all.

 

Niteblade: Lycanthropist

Okay, so normally I wouldn’t post an image file that was quite this big, but hot damn, is that gorgeous or is that gorgeous? That’s the cover for the March issue of Niteblade, Lycanthropist, and I love it. The cover and the issue. I am so freaking proud.

You know how every issue I say is the best one yet? Well, guess what? This one is the best issue yet! Fer realz. We have epic fantasy featuring two children trying to escape poverty and the horrors that come with it, a wedding with a ghostly groom, a fungus that takes over people’s brains, a story about stolen love, gambling, a group of musicians that may seem familliar… at first, and SO much more.

This was the first issue with Alexanda Seidel as poetry editor and she chose to publish poems by Dan Campbell, Patrice Wilson, Sonya Taaffe, Stephanie Smith and J.S. Watts. It was also the unveiling of a whack of changes BD made to the website. Many of them are behind-the-scenes but I’m sure you’ll agree that the site looks phenomenal.

Niteblade Issue #19: Lycanthropist