In which Shawn tries to justify his blog’s silence

Let’s go back to where we left off: October 8, 2013.

(Holy crap has it really been that long?)

October 8 – To Kill the Goddess was with my editor and I was trying to get started on Moon Sister (book two). This is roughly the same time that my work life turned to complete shit. I won’t go into details, as companies don’t look kindly on employees spilling dirt on the Internet, but let’s just say that it was all I could do to not have a complete mental breakdown. Did I write? Yes, but like a drowning man clinging to a life preserver. There was no time for frilly stuff like blogging. Somehow in there, I managed to bang out a first draft for roughly the first third of Moon Sister.

Christmas came along, then January, and the Antarctica-like deep-freeze that drove its claws into Minnesota. We resumed our search for a downtown condo and – surprise! – we found one. It’s awesome, and we are moved and living in it (Woot!) but yowza was that a lot of work. Six weeks of no writing are now in my rearview mirror.

So now here we are: April. I haven’t touched that first draft in a couple of months. Instead, I’ve been focusing on (what I hope are) final edits for To Kill the Goddess. My editor had far more complements then she did criticisms and I’m deep into the final stages of polishing those off. The book is in great shape, but now that I’m going through it again after so many months away I’m finding all kinds of niggly things that need to be fixed. I think I am going to make one more pass through the entire book before sending it off to a few new readers. After that? Line edits, finding someone to do a cover, e-book formatting, and finally: Amazon!

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Life is what you make it

Ah, the holidays.

Always crazy.

This year we hosted for the Lovely Leann’s family. It was a small gathering about 12 which is both manageable and a lot of fun. There was turkey, of course, as well as lots of yummy sides and some good wine. It was a success, despite me being sick.

Head cold. Ick. Lots of handwashing and lots of coffee to keep me going!

But what really made it crazy was the unplanned 4 hour (each way) drive down to Iowa to see my abruptly hospitalized grandmother.

My grandmother was born in 1918. She married my grandfather in the thirty’s and the two of them left their Illinois family behind and moved to a farm in the middle of Iowa. They had no electricity, no running water, and farmed with horses. The house they rented and was an old, sand insulated homestead that sat alongside a railroad tracks. General Custer rode by that house on his way out to South Dakota for the battle at the Little Bighorn.

My grandmother and grandfather had three children, a girl, and two boys, including my father. Some of my earliest memories include going to the farm, riding on my grandfather’s three row combine, and playing with my grandmother’s jewelry collection.

They retired and built a house in town when I was just a boy. Or rather, I should say my grandfather built the house. He was an amazing carpenter. He died about 15 years ago and my grandmother lived in that house for a few years before moving to assisted living, and eventually the nursing home. When I got the call that her congestive heart failure was being complicated by pneumonia and several other issues I dropped everything, left Leann to work on Thanksgiving preparations, and drove down with my brother to see my grandma.

It was a very bizarre experience. My grandma was always a fighter, a slightly vain, image conscious woman who who could cuss with as much eloquence as she could bake a holiday feast.

She looked small when I saw her. There was a tube in her nose, her hair was tangled with neglect, and her head hung, as if overcome by the weight of all those years. Her body was done even if her mind was as sharp as ever.

I watched her make the decision to move to Hospice, to go there to die, and afterwards, we talked for a while. I showed her some pictures on my phone and told her about my upcoming vacation to New York, but it was a strange, strange experience. For both of us, I think. After all, what is the point of talking when someone has lost the will to live?
But my grandma had said something to the Hospice representative that gave me hope. They were speaking of all the years she had spent without my grandfather and she said, “Life is what you make it.”

Life is what you make it.

Those are strong words, spoken by a strong woman. It doesn’t matter if you are a struggling writer, a newlywed living on the homestead without water or electricity, or an old woman surrounded by people who keep dying before you do.

Life is what you make it.

Summer!

I may have mentioned, I’ve been sick a lot lately, and most of it has been from spring allergies- like the worst EVAR!

But now its summer and the sun has baked off whatever it was that was driving me to the doctor and I’m back outside- and it’s glorious. 

God I’ve missed this. Evening light slanting through the trees. A robin’s trill. Dragonflies dancing. Maple leaves dancing in the soft breeze. A glass of earthy syrah. Something hot off the grill. My darling sitting quiet next to me.

Love this. 

Almost there… Almost there!

I’m almost done.

And, yes, I’ve been here before.

And, yes, just like the Red Squadron leader Garven Dries (thank you, Wookieepedia) my previous efforts have fallen short, impacted on the surface, if you will.

But this time I’ve got a good feeling. Everything feels right. It’s slimmer, trimmer, focused – it’s going to slide down that thermal exhaust port and explode into brilliant awesomeness.

So how close am I? Four chapters, all of which just need some editing. That’s “You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home!” close. And that’s pretty amazing considering how sick I’ve been these last few weeks.

Jedi focus, my friends. Jedi focus.

But now for the big question: is To Kill the Goddess done done? Not quite. There’s still one more quick editing pass and I’m running the new material past the Scribblerati, just to be safe, and then it WILL be done done. Thank the Goddess!

Vacation!

Sorry for the long silence, but I’ve been on vacation!

The Lovely Leann and I took a cruise down in the Caribbean. We flew into Puerto Rico (worst airport in the world!), got on a giant boat, and proceeded to eat, drink, sweat, and get sand between our toes. Sweet, eh?

Here’s a few things I learned:

  • Black sand beaches are a tool of the devil. Black sand + serious son absorption = sweat lodge.
  • It is possible to pour five martinis at once. I’m going to try starting with two.
  • Squab is kind of tasty.
  • I have no concept of what a knot (as a measure of speed) is.
  • While Google docs will allow you to store files off-line, it won’t actually let you edit them. So much for my working vacation.
  • My Kindle is frakking awesome.
  • Hunger Games (the novel) Is better than I thought it would be.

I’ll be posting more over the next several days. I read four books so I have a lot to talk about!

Until then, I’ll leave you with the Lovely LeeAnn and a beautiful sunset. Adios.