Tag Archives: projects

I hope to God it’s good.

“Finished this day — and I hope to God it’s good.”
— John Steinbeck, upon completing The Grapes of Wrath

It’s not likely to be as good as Steinbeck, but I have just finished the second draft of my sequel to Greetings from Coldwater. Surprisingly, it bears a closer resemblance to the draft I posted here this spring than Greetings from Coldwater’s second draft bore to its first. This probably has something to do with the fact that I was working from an outline and actually had an idea of where I was going this time.

I’m still not completely happy with the last chapter, but the rest of it feels solid, and a friend from church who very much enjoyed Greetings and the first draft of this still-untitled prequel/sequel has agreed to give it an edit. I’m looking forward to his feedback.

It’s been a ride. I know more about Celtic mythology now than I ever imagined I’d need or want to know four years ago, when Miss Shirley began bugging me in earnest for a prequel, or even seven months ago, when I sat down with a stack of real books and a Kindle full of ebooks and began taking notes. If my interior monologue is worth a damn, I owe Beverly Cleary a beer. If my fantasy elements are worth a damn, I owe J.K. Rowling and the late Rudolfo Anaya a beer. If the dialogue is worth a damn, I owe Quentin Tarantino a beer. And if the book reaches its final form before Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine goes into mass production, I probably owe the notorious M.L.G. (New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) a beer. That shelter-in-place order lit a fire under me and gave me a nice block of time without a lot of distractions to get this project to this point much faster than I would have otherwise.

As the Dead once said: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Emily

Planning ahead

“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa

During this pandemic, I’ve thought a lot about the best way to leverage the resources I have to bring the greatest possible benefit to the greatest possible number of people.

Three resources I have at the moment are surplus craft supplies, creativity, and time. I am using those resources to stock a sort of free gift shop that will launch in October to make Christmas a little easier for people in my area who may be struggling financially.

My goal is to create classy-looking gift items in a range of sizes/types/apparent price points and distribute them at no charge to anybody who needs them. If people want to pay for the items, I will encourage them to donate whatever amount they deem appropriate to a local nonprofit, but it won’t be required. The fundraising component is mostly just there to provide cover for folks who can’t afford to buy gifts but don’t want anyone to know, and to give them a way to pay it forward if they wish. I use a similar approach with my obedience classes, and it seems to work very well.

Today, I took some small terra cotta flowerpots and dressed them up with leftover paint from other projects. I’m making little macrame hangers to go with them, and this fall, I’ll fill them with potting soil and tuck baby spider plants or burro’s tail cuttings into them.

I watered down some paint to get the weathered effect.
I really like this Southwestern color scheme.
Propagating plants. These will be pretty big by Christmas, but I’ll have more little ones by then.

I hope to offer at least a dozen different products, including houseplants in cute containers, spice mixes, mug-brownie kits, lotion bars, sock monkeys, bead jewelry, paintings, garden kits, hot-process soap, bath bombs with small toys hidden inside, and a few other items.

I’ll be posting recipes and tutorials as I go.

This won’t cure coronavirus, fix the economy, or end racism, but it might make life a little easier for somebody, and that’s all I really need it to do.

Emily

Free time

Here is some of the stuff I’ve been doing in my free time since I finished the draft of the novel last weekend:

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In February, I pulled up our stained, worn-out wall-to-wall carpet to find a beautiful hardwood floor hiding underneath. Instead of spending the better end of $5 a square foot on cork-look luxury vinyl tile, I spent less than $100 on sandpaper and Danish oil.

Before I could start working on the floor, I came down with bronchitis. Then the pandemic hit, and I had to figure out how to teach, put out a paper, and coordinate the production of a yearbook, all remotely, while writing the first draft of my latest novel.

I finally got a hand free Monday to start working on the living-room floor. At my dad’s recommendation, I sanded it by hand and gave it a couple of coats of Danish oil. It was time-consuming, physically demanding work, but I think it turned out well. We used part of the money we saved on the floor to buy a new wood-slice coffee table with hairpin legs. *Swoon*

To keep my neck and shoulders from completely seizing up on me while I was sanding and oiling the floor, I stopped every hour or so to stretch and spend a few minutes working on the new mural I just sort of randomly decided I needed in my office. I’m designing it on the fly, but I think it will look pretty cool when I’m done with it.

I’ve always sort of wondered what I could accomplish if I had a big enough block of time on my hands with relatively few distractions, and the pandemic has pretty well answered that question. I have several other projects brewing. We’ll see how many of them I finish before the world reopens.

Emily

 

Fi(o)n(n)

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Fi(o)n(n)
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

The ground rumbled as if in agreement. Morgan thought for a moment that the dragon was expressing her approval of the creature’s destruction, but Dr. Kavanaugh drew her attention to the pool, taking away that notion. “Look.” She pointed at the water. It was bubbling and churning.

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” 

A familiar face surfaced. Before Morgan’s eyes, a mountain of a man emerged from the pond. Continue reading Fi(o)n(n)

Kill It With Fire

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Kill It With Fire
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Holly leaned against Colleen, who was making a valiant, albeit unsuccessful, effort to suppress a grimace as Morgan cut the rest of the butter into bite-sized pieces, which she and Holly began eating like popcorn.

Morgan chuckled. “You’re trying really hard to hide it, but I can tell this is totally grossing you out,” she said to Colleen.

Colleen sighed. “Is it that obvious? I’m sorry. I know it’s helping you, and I’m really glad Joey thought to bring it.”

“The butter was Joey’s idea?” Holly asked.

“Sort of. He said Miss Shirley sent him with it.”

“Ah.” Holly nodded. “I should have realized Joey didn’t come up with it on his own. He would have insisted on bringing cake to go with it.”

Morgan laughed, then winced, pressing her hand against her side. It suddenly occurred to Holly that not all of the bloodstains on Morgan’s skin and clothes belonged to the monster.

“What happened?”  Continue reading Kill It With Fire

Mama Knows Best

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Mama Knows Best
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Warm. Morgan was pretty sure she should have been cold. She’d just spent several hours — or maybe it had only been several minutes — fighting a monster in water that couldn’t have been more than 35 degrees. She was tired and woozy and was pretty sure she’d lost a lot of blood. The wind was blowing out of the north. She should have been cold. Why wasn’t she cold?

Heat moved up the side of her cheek, its movement reminiscent of a dog licking her face, and her eyes fluttered open. She could just make out Mom’s face above her own, and she heard voices calling to each other:

“She’s awake!” 

“Thank God!”

Morgan tried to sit up, but she couldn’t muster the energy. She could hear Lenore clicking her beak near her ear as if to scold her for trying to move too fast.

Lie still, Queen. All is well. The dragon’s voice spoke softly in the back of her mind. She was too tired to do anything but obey it.

 “Here. Feed her this.” That was Joey’s voice. What was he doing here? What was anybody doing here? What was going on?

She heard a shuffling sound as someone joined her mother on the ground.  Continue reading Mama Knows Best

Summoned

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Summoned
Holly’s House ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Sierra took in the scene in Holly’s bathroom. The humidity had dissipated by the time she and Colleen arrived, but everything else supported Colleen’s theory that she’d missed the principal by just minutes. 

“Don’t touch anything,” Sierra said. “I doubt this is anything the police can help us with, but just in case it is, we need to treat this like a crime scene.”

Colleen nodded. “I don’t think I handled anything other than doorknobs. Well, that and the switch on the coffeemaker. I didn’t think it was a good idea to leave that on and risk starting a fire.”

Sierra’s eyes swept over the counter. Holly didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but an open jar of what Sierra recognized as an expensive brand of mascara was lying on the counter next to a tube of lip gloss. Other odds and ends were scattered across the counter — a wide-toothed comb, a pump bottle of argan oil, an elastic — and a drawer below the counter was ajar. Sierra didn’t pull it out, but the contents she could see suggested that Holly had left in a hurry, a suspicion corroborated by the wet towel lying in a heap on the shag throw rug in front of the sink.  Continue reading Summoned

The Search

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

The Search
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Morgan was pretty sure Dr. Kavanaugh had been taken to the mesa, but whether she was on it, in it, or simply close to it was another question entirely. Morgan remembered that sense of being watched when she was tending her beehives and decided that was as good a starting point as any. 

She knew she and Lenore could search more efficiently if they were apart, so she sent the raven to fly over the trail while she went to check the spring. It was unlikely that the monster would have traveled deiseal, especially if it had to drag a fully grown human with it. Doubly especially if the fully grown human in question is fighting like a tiger all the way up, Morgan thought.

Her wings gave her the advantage of height and the ability to canvass the area much faster than she could have done on foot, but her vision wasn’t as sharp as she’d have liked, and after the third time she dropped to a lower altitude to check out something that turned out to be a boulder, she decided she’d had enough. She closed her eyes and recalled a video she’d watched about peregrine falcons and their spectacular ability to spot prey from the air. When she opened her eyes, her vision had cleared. She was still struggling to distinguish shapes that were the same color as the mountain — twice, she caught herself overlooking wildlife until it moved — and she really hoped Dr. Kavanaugh hadn’t picked today to wear earth tones. Continue reading The Search

Another delay

OK, sweetiedarlings … I know I left you on a cliffhanger this morning, but today was our last day of school before summer break, and I spent my day and most of my evening Zooming, grading, pulling reports, tying up loose ends with the yearbook, and updating paperwork, so I just don’t have the energy to write another chapter tonight.

I have to spend tomorrow removing several hundred dollars’ worth of fabric objects from my classroom, per CDC recommendations. This will either eat the entire day and leave me too exhausted to write, or it will irritate me enough that I’ll come home and hide out in Coldwater for the rest of the summer.

In any case, I expect to have another chapter for you by Sunday at the latest, and odds are fairly good I’ll have something done sooner than that. Just, y’know, don’t expect to see a chapter at 9 a.m. tomorrow unless my muse and the Insomnia Fairy both decide to roll up on me at once in the middle of the night.

FYI: I’m about four chapters from the end of the first draft, and then I’ll need to let the story rest while I work on some other projects. What I really need is a road trip out Route 66 to Winslow to have dinner at the Turquoise Room and spend an evening wandering the grounds of La Posada and communing with the ghosts of long-ago Harvey Girls before I tackle the next draft, but I don’t know how soon that’s going to happen. We’ll see.

Emily

Missing Person

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Missing Person
Tumbleweed Motel ~ Coldwater, N.M.

The closer Morgan got to home, the more uneasy she felt. She was parking her bike next to the shed and was about to take off her bee suit and put away her tools when she saw Colleen’s old Subaru parked in front of the office. Morgan’s heart skipped a beat. Colleen wasn’t in the habit of dropping by the lobby just to say hi. If she’d come here, something must be wrong. Morgan left her bike out and ran for the back door, her hood flopping against the back of her stained-up canvas jacket. Lenore had flown ahead and was perched above the door, waiting for her.

Morgan raced into the kitchen to find Joey pacing, his eyes as big as saucers, while Mom and Colleen stood next to the avocado-green phone mounted to the wall, staring at it as if they expected it to ring. Colleen looked stricken.  Continue reading Missing Person