Thursday, May 18, 2017

This, That, and the Other

(writing at the White Mountain Cafe)
My 2017 started on quite shaky ground. I returned from a long hospital stay a mere week before the New Year, barely able to walk following surgery and easily exhausted. But I was also excited by the prospect of what the year would bring, and happier than I thought humanly possible to be home at Xanadu with family and muse. Now nearly six months into 2017, I have plenty to show for the time -- I just wrapped my 1241st work of fiction, a mystery novella, have placed numerous short stories in publications, and will soon depart for my second writing retreat of the year (my fourth if you count two book launches, readings, and signings that took me to Massachusetts), with two more scheduled for June, including my return to the wonderful Writing From Nature, where I plan to complete one of my oldest unwritten tales. As for walking? Just try to hold me back.

Early in the year, I sold a long Science Fiction tale, "South of Human", to the fine publication Perihelion Science Fiction. The story is a free read, and Perihelion is one of those credits writers love to show on their resumes. I'm excited to report that a follow-up sale, "The Goldfish", is scheduled for their June issue.

Often on winter days -- especially when it snowed -- I found myself working in bed, with my right leg elevated and episodes of Stargate Atlantis playing on the TV (during my hospitalization, Bruce dvr'ed most of the series when it ran on Comet TV in December). I worked on short and long projects, a screenplay, and submitted manuscripts to editors for consideration. I read of the new literary magazine Riddled With Arrows edited by Shannon Connor Winward during one of those luxurious snow days, and submitted my short SF meta fiction, "Lessons in the Garden of Lost Language". I soon heard back with a minor rewrite request. I made those few changes days later while traveling home from the book launch and party of Murder Ink 2. The story sold and is presented with some fairly bad-ass writers in Riddled's debut issue.

(reading from Murder Ink 2 in Boston)
Speaking of Murder Ink 2 -- I owe more to publisher George Geers and editor extraordinaire Dan Szczesny than merely including my sports-themed mystery, "Murder at Channel Ten" in the follow up to last year's release; in a very real way, I credit them with my ability to walk again. During my hospital stay, I was bemoaning to one of the fabulous physical therapists, Claire, how I was likely going to miss the book launch in Boston. In her colorful Irish brogue, she said the launch was still two months off, and I'd sure as hell better plan to attend it. Her passion charged me, and I began to take to physical therapy like it was my religion. Not only did that effort lead to my release from the hospital, but two months later I found myself ambling without the aid of a walker or a surgical boot up the two flights of cast iron stairs to the third floor of Boston's famous Chart House restaurant, which was once John Hancock's office space. There, I signed copies of the anthology, read from my tale, and lunched on an incredible lobster roll, thanks to our generous and wonderful publisher. On the drive into Boston, I jokingly said that I'd order the lobster, even though we didn't yet know what our menu options for the luncheon were!

(with Judi Calhoun and others at the
Whittier Farm and Birthplace)
Earlier in February, I enjoyed a fantastic three-day retreat at a writers' group friend's sprawling manor house a few towns over. With his parents' blessing (they were away on a trip), seven of us wrote, dined in decadence, and enjoyed pizza on Superbowl Sunday -- and watched the New England Patriots win in perhaps the most famous comeback in NFL history.

During the first week of May, I again traveled to Massachusetts, this time for the launch, reading, and luncheon to celebrate Murder Among Friends, edited by the stellar Dave Goudsward. Murder contains my cozy mystery "Antiques". All of the stories are inspired by the works of John Greenleaf Whittier, with proceeds going to maintaining the Whittier Farm and Birthplace, where the launch was held. It was my pleasure to again appear alongside the talented Judi Ann Calhoun in the Table of Contents. We stayed with our famous friends, The Sisters Dent, ate well all weekend, and wrote together for much of those four days in the Bay State.

And soon, I depart for my fifth stay at When Words Count, a luxury retreat center for writers in Vermont. This time around, I'm staying in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Suite, the center's finest room. There, I plan to write on several projects, including the editing for submission of the screenplay I powered through during my winter writing sessions in bed. When not writing, reading, or dining on cuisine by the center's celebrated chef, I'm going in the pool -- and walking the vast grounds. Here's to an even better second half of 2017!