New starts and other thoughts

I’m baaaack! Actually, sleep will come shortly.More on that in a minute.

With Risen from Ashes now out, it’s time to turn my attention to the next project. Night Shadows is the next entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. I am really excited about this book and the plot is all but screaming to be let out. This is a good thing.

The bad thing is that every project seems to have its own idiosyncrasies that seem to slow down the actual writing. It might be needing to find a new place in the house to write. Sometimes, it means changing which machine I write on–the Mac or the iPad Pro or the PC laptop. Usually, within a chapter or two, I can move back to the Mac. Usually being the operative word.

It might also be changing how I write. I might need to do the first few chapters longhand. I might need to do more background work, figuring out characters, motivations, doing research, etc.

In other words, every new project presents new challenges. Night Shadows is no different.

The first challenge is something I have little control over at the moment–Covid-19. While I’m not particularly worried about catching the virus (I’m a writer. I self-isolate as a rule), it has changed my routine and, more importantly, my mother’s. She is in her 80’s and I’ve insisted she not do her volunteering at the airport. I’m also doing a lot of the running around on errands that she normally did. While I don’t mind doing those things, it means she is home all the time. She doesn’t understand writing is a job and I need to not be interrupted every time she thinks of something she wants to ask me, etc. Nor is it conducive to work to have her in the kitchen, which is next to my office, rearranging the cabinet contents because she’s bored. So I am staying up later and getting up earlier and doing much of my work when she’s in bed.

The second challenge centered on the need to do some background work on the story before I actually sat down to write. Usually, I type those types of notes so they are in my digital files. The problem is, that often leaves me feeling I’ve already written the story before I actually have. This time, I remembered an app I have on my iPad Pro and wondered if there was a Windows version. They did and I grabbed it without a second thought.

The app is Nebo. If you have a Windows, Apple or Android touchscreen laptop or tablet, you should look at this note taking app. It converts handwriting into text without any fuss. Even my handwriting which sucks big time. You can write, add images, draw, use different colors and then convert it all to text with the appropriate images/drawings/colors. You can export it as a DocX file. I wouldn’t use it to write a novel, but it is perfect–at least for me–for the pre-novel notes. It has also made it easier to work with Mom around because I simply convert my Acer Spin 3 from laptop to tablet and curl up on the sofa as she watches TV and write. I’m not sure what she thinks I’m doing, but she leaves me alone more with this than if I am keyboarding.

And that leaves me with the Spin 3. This is my first convertible laptop. I picked it up on a really good sale with the idea of using it when I travel. What I find is I like the larger screen (my iPad Pro is 11.7 in as compared to the 14 in Spin 3). My MacBook Air is still my main writing computer, but the Spin 3 is what I take when I leave the house.

What I’ve realized is I now have a different machine I do most of my work on for each of my series. Heaven help me if I start a new series. My pocketbook will kill me.

Now, why I haven’t found my bed yet. The cat is better. She is old and I tend to baby her when she isn’t feeling well. Instead of getting some sleep, I made a quick trip to the grocery store. I got there a few minutes before it opened. And, yes, I now have a story line tickling the back of my mind and I’m telling Myrtle the Evil Muse she cannot let it in.

By 0700 in my neighborhood, things are usually getting busy. Folks are going to work and kids are heading out to school. Trying to turn out of the neighborhood usually means waiting several minutes for a break in traffic. Not this morning. I had to wait for one car. The next car was probably close to a third of a mile away. At the traffic light down the road, cars are usually backed up. There were four. Two in each lane. The large gym was closed. Starbucks, which usually has a line of cars out into the street was dark. The drive through was open but no one was waiting to get their morning cup of Joe.

At the store, there were maybe a dozen vehicles, including a couple of delivery trucks, in the parking lot. For the most part, the eight or so folks waiting to get inside were observing social distancing. Everyone seemed to be in a good–and hopeful–mood. Then, as it got closer to time for the doors to open, about half of those gathered, and our numbers had grown some, began crowding together. The rest of us, looked at one another, and took two steps back and away. We were doing our best to keep the six feet between us and the next person.

Inside, it was immediately clear deliveries were still not meeting demand. The front fruit display held a single cantaloupe. Much of the fruit and vegetable area was empty. There was one lone bag of potatoes. No carrots, no celery, etc. As for bread. . . the entire row was empty except for Mrs. Baird’s that has just made a delivery. The butcher block/meat area was pretty much the same. If you wanted corned beef, you were in luck. To my surprise, there were probably a dozen whole fryers out–I grabbed two because I was actually looking for those. But no steaks, no chops, no roasts, no ground beef. (Although the fake ground beef was still in stock–no thank you) Paper products? Forget it. Same with much of the baking staples. Most of the flour and sugar was gone, cake mixes were picked over, etc. Hand sanitizer or sanitizing cleaners? Not a chance in hell. But everything else was in stock, or at least seemed to be.

In many ways, it reminded me of the panic buying I saw before Y2K. And, like that, this will pass. But what impressed me was how almost everyone there was calm, respectful of the next person’s personal space, etc. Of course, there were a few exceptions. But they truly were the exceptions. And, each time I ran across one of them, I saw others who looked ready to take them outside and teach them the error of their ways. In other words, I was seeing the beginning of not just social distancing but social enforcement as well.

And, a story idea begins to form. One I so do not need but that will probably come about, at least as a short story. Which might not be a bad thing since I have a short story I need to write here before long.

So here’s my request of each of you. Stay smart. Stay safe. Stay informed.

Oh, and buy some books. 😉

21 comments

  1. You are not alone! I am currently fortunate that I can write on spiral-bound notebooks at work, and the same computer at home: my backbrain violently rejects writing on the media computer under “That’s for facebook, not inspiration!”

    However, I’ve noted some projects are almost entirely notebook – if I face the blank screen, it locks up solid, but doodle a pen across the paper and it drags out the first words, so more follow. And some projects prefer screen, which is frustrating when I have down time at work, but only a notebook for writing (can’t bring anything in and out of work computers). And some projects have to be done at the treadmill desk, because if my feet aren’t moving, the words aren’t flowing (exhausting, that, after a day at work.)

    1. Yep, sounds very familiar. The only difference is I don’t have a treadmill desk. Probably should but I don’t have anywhere to put it right now.

  2. I’m slightly down (all the lunacy out there) so I can’t help but think about my Mom (gone now).

    I had to take her places because I didn’t trust her driving. (She had been afflicted with the Big A.)

    Take Care.

    1. Currently, the local supermarket is getting re-stocked but it still looks picked over. Currently, (according to my water delivery guy) nobody he’s seen is sick, but people are definitely worried.

      So, around here at least, we are (knock on wood) ahead of the surge. That would be about the best outcome we can hope for at this point, thanks to the Feds not closing off air travel until yesterday. (Canada, right? Nothing is an emergency, until suddenly it is an EMERGENCY!!!)

      For the future, IF the flu is not killing otherwise healthy people (and so far it does not seem to be), in two or three weeks we will -know- what the details of it are, and life will resume as normal. Then we can all play catch-up and fill in all the holes left by hoarding.

      This makes a stressful writing environment for me. My already too-fertile imagination is churning out bad zombie-apocalypse movies, which will only depress the hell out of me if I pay any attention to them.

      Solution: read the books I already finished! I’m calling it editing, but really I’m just re-reading and trying to settle my brain down to do some proper work.

      Also working on covers seems to help a bit. Completely different set of brain functions at work, and a change is as good as a rest sometimes.

      I’m also avoiding the news 99%. There’s no useful information being given, so there’s no reason I should let them scare me. F- it, drive on.

  3. Amanda, you might try getting your mom hooked on YouTube media adventures. There are a wealth of travel series intended to give the viewer the experience of travel to foreign lands while in the comfort of your own home. Or you could expose her to the soap opera world of Reddit stories narrated on YouTube. Those can be a rabbit hole of tales of odd or unusual experiences mainly dealing with the infinite variety of human interactions.
    Idea being to get her interested and keep her occupied doing something other than bugging you while you should be working.

    1. I wish. She isn’t into watching on her tablet and for her to do it on the TV, I’d have to stop whatever I’m doing and set it up for her. She and the remote have a hate/hate relationship.

  4. I’m telling Myrtle the Evil Muse she cannot let it in.

    Hah, hah, that’s funny, the idea of telling Myrtle anything. I assume you weren’t serious, right? I assume you knew that Myrtle would interpret “Don’t let it in” as “Tell it to head inside, make itself comfortable, and while it’s at it, invite three or four dozen of its closest friends for a party in my brain.”

  5. I feel you pain this week. I’m on Spring Break, so I get TV news and weather all. day. long. Some things I can do with headphones on, but I have to be able to hear if there is a problem. Grrrr.

    The gym quietly put out buckets of bleach-wipes a few weeks ago. If you try to skip using one on the machines, you get polite Death Glares of Doom from everyone around you. No one says a word, but the message is clear. People watch as you use the hand sanitizer by the door. Again, nothing said, but the body language is obvious. The free weights are a little different, but they get scrubbed every night, and chalk and bleach-wipes don’t really play well.

    As for the muse, ooohh, I’ve gotten a few ideas, but how to do them without being heavy-handed is the challenge.

    1. The part of the grocery store I saw on Saturday was well stocked with everything. I didn’t venture near the snacks or pop, because it is Spring Break, after all, and I don’t have a death wish. 😀

      1. I decided that I need more coffee and went in to the local grocery.

        Didn’t check the paper goods but every thing seemed OK otherwise.

        1. My husband, who is a dear love, noticed I was running low on coffee… and signed me up for Black Rifle Coffee Club’s subscription, at a bag a month.

          My husband, who has a love for keeping me guessing and on my toes, signed up for “random – BRCC picks” for the kind of coffee…

      2. I lucked out and managed to get a delivery slot for tomorrow from another of the stores. That’s letting me get almost everything that was on my list that was out this morning, including ground beef. I’m still going to have to get out in a few days for more bread, bottled water–Mom hates the water out of the tap–that sort of thing. But the pantry is full. The fridge and freezer are stocked. We’re set assuming toilet paper resumes being carried in a few weeks. 😉

  6. I needed gas so I went to Costco and then bought some groceries. The checkers told me that they have sold in the last five days what they usually sell in six months. They had no hamburger meat and seemingly no eggs. Organic milk was one gallon per shopper. I asked about the eggs and they said they had been limiting people to one pack each but they were evidently gone. So no big deal I said thanks and started leaving. They came running after me having found what was probably the actual last egg container for me. I was amazed.

    But teaching online is going to destroy me. For the next four weeks minimum.

    1. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that they’ve done that much business. It’s going to be interesting to see how long these “shortages” continue.

  7. BUY some books, or WRITE some? cause i got an idea, just sorting it in my head before writing it…

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