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In an attempt to finish many incomplete projects, I’ve set monthly goals for myself. So, how am I doing on the April and May 2016 goals I set forth on April 1st?

What’s done?

Murder_Cover_CS_front1-Complete my science fiction novelette (such a charming word!) and get it into the hands of my publisher. Done! Murder on Marawa Prime was published by Pole to Pole Publishing in May 2016. If you like science fiction murder mysteries – this one is for you.

2-Finish crocheting an afghan for my granddaughter. Done! And given to her. (pastel colors)

3-Revise and add another story and poem to my fantasy story collection, The Greener Forest, so it can be re-released with a new cover, etc. Done! Now, all that’s left to be done are to get some cover comments from fellow fantasy writers.

4-Finish at least 2 short stories and submit them to publishers. Done! I await the editors’ responses.

5-Finish crocheting an afghan for youngest grandson. Done! (greens, blues, and black) Plus, I finished crocheting an afghan for my oldest grandson, too. (reds, blues, and black) Both were given to the boys earlier in June.

6-Went on a 2 week RV trip to see a niece and her husband in Indiana; visit Lincoln country in Illinois; see Mark Twain sites in Hannibal, Missouri; visit Lewis & Clark sites in St. Louis, Missouri; visit Graceland in Tennessee; visit Shiloh Battlefield in Tenn.; see Ruby Falls & Cave and Look Out Mountain in Tenn.; visit Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia; visit godmother in Greenville, South Carolina; visit uncle in Sparta, North Carolina, see sister and brother-in-law in Staunton, Virginia; and get back to Maryland in one piece. Done!

So what’s NOT done?

1- I haven’t gotten all the letters home from World War II from a great-uncle typed, or begun research for this nonfiction book.

2- I’m still polishing one story for a publisher, and working hard on another for a science fiction anthology. I’m hoping they’ll both make it to the Table of Contents.

3- The embroidered samplers still await their borders and framing – though I have gotten out the fabric to finish the projects.

4- The black and white drawings await their scanning. Why is this not done? I want to make a few changes in each drawing.

Where do I go from here? Set goals for June and July, of course!

By the end of June, I will:

1- send in a final version of a story I’ve been working on since last June!

2- send in the first draft of a science fiction story to an anthology.

3- type at least 10 more letters from World War II.

4- add borders to and frame one of the samplers.

5- put a border and backing on a vintage redwork quilt top which has suddenly become mine. (More on this unfinished project later).

By the end of July, I will:

1- send a final version of the science fiction story to the anthology.

2- begin reading books to prepare to submit to another anthology.

3- type 10 more letters from WW II.

4- revise my science fiction and fantasy collection, Owl Light, in preparation for re-release.

How about you? Are you trying to finish up unfinished projects, too? Any tips for me?

Now, back to work on an unfinished story! – Vonnie

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I saw my first palmetto bug a couple of weeks ago while in Augusta, GA. The foul creature scurried from under the screen door, across the floor, and to a corner of the RV. After the initial screech, I  fumbled for something (anything) with which to kill this giant cousin of a cockroach. Without fly swatter, household insecticide, husband, or faithful black-mouthed cur nearby — I resorted to cornering the palmetto bug with a broom handle, and then, dousing it with multiple squirts from my Skinsensations Insect Repellent.

 By the time husband and Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur finally returned from their walk, the palmetto bug appeared to be in the last stage of a 10 minute wriggly-leg death. With a swift stomp, husband put the insect out of its misery, and all returned to normal. Or so it seemed. But in my mind, there were more palmetto bugs lurking in the shadows, under the RV’s couch, behind the shampoo bottle in the RV’s shower, and in dozens of other nooks. And those skulking palmetto bugs had witnessed my assault on their brother, and were now plotting their revenge.

Now, home at Wood’s Edge in the outskirts of The Shire, I am still uneasy. Stinkbugs, large black ants, box elder bugs, water bugs, crickets, and other six-legged creepers seem to be everywhere. They climb on the window screens, rush in the garage, and try to sneak inside the house every time a door opens. I’m concerned that a stray palmetto bug (or 2) has hitchhiked a ride north on the RV and spread the word. Now, the local insects have been alerted to my murderous ways and watch me with growing intensity…

People always ask me where I get the ideas for my stories — I usually answer, “Life.” In this particular case, I could answer, “Palmetto Bugs!”

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It’s difficult to write a winter tale in the swelter of a Georgia summer, but that’s what I found myself doing last week.

I was working on a story set in a snow-covered forest with an approaching blizzard. The oscillating fan at the end of the RV’s sofa stood in nicely for the north wind. The rush of icy air that poured from the freezer when I opened it to grab a handful of cubes for my tea chilled my arm. The white curtains fluttering between the driver & passenger seats and the living area of the RV reminded me of a barn owl’s wing. (There’s an owl in the story). The sandy-colored dog sprawled at my feet took on deer-form. (And a deer in the tale, too). And the perspiration dripping from my brow became snowmelt.

The working title of the tale is “A Midwinter’s Eve,” and I’m hoping it will appear in a new anthology, Rush of Wings, from Soylent Publications (Jhada Rogue Addams, Publisher) that will feature skewed fairy tales, myths, and legends. But even if the story doesn’t make it into that collection, I want to write “A Midwinter’s Eve” well enough that some other editor will find it publishable.

Note in the first sentence I used the word difficult rather than impossible. Difficult tasks are challenging, but do-able. And with a little imagination and stick-to-it-ness, a story can be written, a picture drawn, or a problem overcome.

The weather at Wood’s Edge in rural Maryland is more fall-like, so my next draft of “A Midwinter’s Eve” will be perhaps an easier write. But easier or not, I will write! And I encourage each of you to face your challenges, whether large or small, because as Joshua J. Marine put it: “Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

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