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They say the first step of keeping your resolutions is to look back on what worked and didn't worked in the past year's resolutions. With that in mind, I figured I'd do a recap of my 2011 writing goals.

1. Finish at least one short story per month.
This worked pretty well until summertime, when I wound up focusing on my novel revision plus my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, and never got my short story rhythm back. It still strikes me as a very reasonable goal -- as long as I'm not trying to write a novel at the same time. That said, it's getting more and more frustrating trying to sell short stories to magazines, so I think 2012 is going to be more about longer forms of writing for me.

2. Submit to at least three markets on my "someday" list.
Accomplished this with no problems. Didn't get accepted by any of them, but at least got a couple of encouraging rejection letters that made me feel as if the goal of being published in another professional-level magazine isn't totally out of reach. :)

3. Put at least one long short story/novella up for sale on Smashwords.
Done. You can find "Real Dragons Don't Wear Sweaters" both at Smashwords and in Amazon's Kindle store.

4. Work on my website (add bio, sample stories and poems, etc).
Websites are always a work in progress, of course, but as far as the website serving as an online portfolio where people can get a better idea of who I am and what I write, plus a way to find out where they can get more of what I write, things are pretty well set up. From here on out, it's going to be adding and tweaking, instead of flat-out building.

5. Create enough visual art/craft items to be able to finally open an Etsy shop.
This is the only one that I didn't get much done on. I did sign up for Etsy and even spent a few hours putting a banner together for the shop, but I only made one greeting card, and then art kept getting pushed to the side in favor of writing projects. I'd still like to get back into art again, especially the little sorts of things that would sell on Etsy, so I'm tempted to carry this goal over into this year. At the same time, though, I'm finding that art can be frustrating for me these days because my skills aren't where they need to be, and as much as I try to tell myself to just draw things for myself and get a feel for it again, at this point I feel more accomplishment and satisfaction by using my creative energy for writing.

2012 goals coming soon...
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Apparently this poem has been making the rounds since about 1994, but I first encountered it when it was posted to the [community profile] poetry community here on Dreamwidth.


You can find more about the poet and her other works at her website:

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Maybe I need to drop the "Friday" part of the "Friday Finds"... XD Anyway, have a fun light show:

In other news, the folks at Anthro Dreams are still putting the finishing touches on my novel By Sword and Star for a planned January release--more on that as things get set. I'm also polishing up my goals for 2012 (one of the unwritten ones is to update here a little more often and with a bit more depth and personal notes), and I've put in an application for one of Odyssey's online writing courses, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get into that.

All for now...
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It's been a very long week, and therefore I'm watching Muppet Show and Sesame Street clips on YouTube. XD

Always loved this song...

(Count yourselves lucky -- this week's Friday Find could have been Bert and Ernie with "Dance Myself to Sleep."


Oh, what the heck.)

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Video quality is atrocious, but you can still get the gist of this classic little cartoon that I first saw on Sesame Street:

Kind of the precursor to Simon's Cat, one might say. :)


Nov. 28th, 2011 07:30 pm
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Yeah, I missed the Friday Find again last week. >_< What can I say, I was too busy running around Staples on Black Friday buying toys. The good news is, I now have a Kindle (insert angelic choir here) and we saved a nice chunk of money on the new computer we figured we'd be forced to buy sometime within the next six months anyway (our current desktop being seven years old, out of slots for more RAM, and beginning to show its age in terms of speed).

In writing news -- or, more accurately, publishing news -- By Sword and Star, my first novel, continues to work its way down the road to release. The final touches are being put on the layout now, the cover art is in the works, and I'm looking forward to a several-year journey finally coming to a close and bringing the story to more than just the handful of beta readers.

As far as actual writing goes... well, I'm still trying to adjust my creative rhythms to my work schedule, and it's been slow going, especially when it gets dark so early and makes me feel like it's later than it really is. But I'm scribbling a few paragraphs here and there, hoping to make some December deadlines, and trying not to be too hard on myself when I don't get as much done as I'd like. By the time we're truly in the heart of winter and I can lie in front of the wood stove and write (if the cat hasn't already taken the best spot), I think I'll have found an equilibrium again.

That is, if I'm not reading books on my Kindle all the time. :p
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(Yes, it's technically Sunday, but oh, well.)

Though I've never had that much interest myself in the fursuiting (costuming) aspect of the furry fandom, I've been amazed by the quality of this designer's work for a while now -- especially the "quadsuits," made to be worn by someone on all fours using arm stilts. I was particularly impressed by this one, but the other videos are worth checking out as well.

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This week's Friday Find is... well, actually a whole gallery of works. Artist Mark Villarreal set up his own personal challenge to create a rabbit painting for every day of the Year of the Rabbit. So far he's at #167, posted back in July. I don't know if he's still plugging away at it or not, but even if the project doesn't get completed, some of the individual pieces are remarkably creative. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there could be so many ways of depicting the same basic animal -- but it's still marvelous to look through.

Go browse some bunnies:


Or sample some of my favorites:

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My show name is Silver Willow, but he calls me Mina. The first two things I remember are my mother's scent and his.

Mina's feline charms win ribbons at the shows, but the titles she's awarded mean nothing to her beyond pleasing her human handler. When he's happy, so is she -- until betrayal breaks her world open and leaves her questioning who she really is.

My short story "Best of Breed" appears in the first issue of Allasso, a new magazine of anthropomorphic art and literature from Pink Fox Publications that's being published both online and in a print version. Volume 1, "Shame," just went live on the first of this month, and "Best of Breed" was the winner of this issue's Editor's Choice awards both for best story and best overall piece -- which is a bit ironic, given the setting of the story.

You can find the issue here:


(I should mention that "Best of Breed" does contain some mature themes and language, so I'd recommend it for older teens and up.)

As always, comments/discussion welcome, whether here, on the story's page, or privately. :)
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This Friday, I'm sharing a Celtic rock band I've seen perform twice now. I think my favorite of their songs is still "Finnean's Dance," but that might be tied with several others. :)


(And yeah, I missed last Friday... was away from the computer all day, and then got hit with about 8 inches of wet snow Friday night, leading to a power outage all weekend. One of those times I'm glad we have a woodstove out here.)
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This week's find is a poignant bit of flash fiction by [livejournal.com profile] celestialgldfsh about a mother, her autistic son, and the end of the world.

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A fun little animated short showing what can happen when people are -- or aren't -- willing to work together. I don't know if the animator had any part of US politics in mind when this was made, but that's one of the interpretations that came to mind when I watched it. :)


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First, greetings to those of you reading this via my Amazon author page or on Goodreads. Yes, I've finally gotten lazy and just started mirroring this journal elsewhere. (My Goodreads blog only had 4 entries total, so I didn't bother to delete them -- so if you scroll back through and see a couple entries back-to-back on there that look nearly the same, that's why.)

I'm now going to be releasing my direct-to-readers stories/collections through Amazon's Kindle store as well as on Smashwords, so if you've been waiting for "Real Dragons Don't Wear Sweaters" to show up in the Kindle store, well, now's your chance. :)

Second, after a lot of thought, I've decided I won't be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I'd wanted to and planned to, but after taking a hard look at everything, it's just not a good idea right now for a lot of reasons. I'm having to take on more hours at work than I expected, for one thing. For another, I have a lot of projects in progress right now (one of which is the still-incomplete novel draft I wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo back in August), and I'd much rather finish a couple of those works-in-progress than haul off and start writing the first draft of a great big new project. And finally, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm just not as excited about the idea I was going to use for NaNo anyway. I still think it could be a good book, and I still want to scribble down a first draft of it sometime, but next month just doesn't feel like the right time. The idea of getting back to work on The Second Life of Bartholomew T. Lion, and getting that to a point where I can start getting feedback on it, is exciting to me, and when it comes down to it, I'd rather focus my energy there and/or on my next planned release for Smashwords/Amazon.

And in other news, I now have personalized sticky notes with my website address on them. Both my inner child and my inner marketing director are quite pleased. :D
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A creative look at what "real" Smurfs might be like. Not as cute as the cartoon sort, but far more fascinating...

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In the category of "People I Went to School With Doing Cool Stuff," I give you an artist's website:


I'm still exploring it myself, but so far my favorite is picket wheel.

(And -- assuming, of course, that this is the same Walker I knew back in high school -- dude, seriously, maybe some contact info on your website?)
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Edited to add: Here's the offical GMU video of Stephen King's presentation:


* * *

The Huffington Post has posted a video clip from last Friday's award presentation, where he reads from the work-in-progress sequel to The Shining:


(Whoever made the video obviously didn't have seats as good as ours.) :P
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I hadn't been to a book signing for a long time, but last Friday night made up for it...

(Stephen King holds up the Mason Award from the Fall for the Book Festival. Photo by Alexis Glenn, respectfully ganked from the FFTB website since we couldn't take our own. That's a George Mason t-shirt and baseball cap under his arm.)

Read more... )
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Today's Friday Find is a viral video set to the final speech in The Great Dictator.

(I will try to be pleased at how many good comments this received in the journal where I first saw the link, and not depressed that so many people seemed to have no idea who Charlie Chaplin was, let alone having seen this particular movie. *sigh* Only 34, and I already start to feel old. I suppose I should get used to this.)

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Or, "what I did over the rest of the summer." :)

July and August wound up being pretty busy for me. I moved from part-time work to full-time at the end of June, and that took a bit of adjustment to get my rhythm back as far as reshuffling my free time for writing.

In August, I got a chance to see a short story of mine adapted into graphic novel format. "The Wishing Tree" is the story of a raccoon who plays a trick on two hunting hounds--and winds up getting a surprise himself--and it was first published in the summer 2008 issue of New Fables. Earlier this year, artist Jennifer Fromm ("Nimrais") put out a call for possible stories to adapt for her final project for college (a short graphic novel), and I was honored when she chose "The Wishing Tree." It was only printed in a limited hardcover run, but you can see a few sample pages from it on her sketch blog. (You can also find her website here, though I can't see it because Norton keeps blocking it as a malicious website. Not sure what's up with that, but she also sells prints of her artwork here.)

Camp NaNoWriMo kept me busy during August, as I cranked out 50K words in 26 days on a novel called The Second Life of Bartholomew T. Lion, a story taking place in a world populated entirely by cast-off toys. The draft isn't quite complete yet, since I'm letting it sit for a while as I figure out what's supposed to happen. (The draft I wound up with was much rougher than I'm used to, but there was a nice freedom in that.) Bartholomew is going to take a lot of rewriting and refining before I even get to the beta-reading stage, but I'm excited about its potential. It feels like the sort of story that only I could write, and that makes it a lot of fun, even knowing all the work that's still to come.

September brings an announcement I've waited several months to make: my first novel, By Sword and Star, is slated for release late this year by Anthropomorphic Dreams Publishing. It's a medieval fantasy with a bit of a twist, in that all the characters are anthropomorphic animals--the main character, Tiran, is a bipedal unicorn. (Think Redwall, but written with more of an adult audience in mind.)

The blurb:

Prince Tiran of Silverglen may be heir to the throne of all Asteria, but he's always felt more at home among the villagers, no matter how many lectures he gets from his father. But when the elk-lord Roden slaughters the royal family and claims the throne, only Tiran is left to avenge their deaths and take his place as the rightful king. His journey will lead him from the shadowed heart of his forest home into the treetops with the squirrel-clan of the Drays, across the western plains, and among the mysterious and deadly wolves of the Northern Reach. With his allies' help, Tiran must become the king his people need him to be--or risk fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will spell the end of Asteria itself.

Anthro Dreams is noted for their furry fiction podcast and also for the Different Worlds, Different Skins anthologies. They've published/reprinted a number of my short stories in one format or another, and I'm pleased to have them putting out my first novel-length work. At this point, it's still too early for an exact release date, but we're hoping for November or December. Watch this space for updates.

And in other news, I have tickets to see Stephen King accept the Mason Award next Friday night, as part of this year's Fall for the Book festival. Better yet, I wound up getting one of the randomly awarded "golden tickets" for his book signing, so I'm pretty excited about that. :D

Next month, I'll start planning for NaNoWriMo in November. I'd like to get another book's first draft knocked out before I close out the year and go back to short stories/novellas for a while. I'm also planning to get another Smashwords release out in the next several months, but we'll see how it goes. There's always something to work on, at least. I never have to worry about running out of ideas. :)
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Silly, catchy, all-around fun. I recommend playing it fairly loud. :)


The artist's website can be found here. (I should probably note, though, that "The Happy Song" is pretty different from his usual work, which tends toward cinematic-feeling orchestral/new age instrumentals.)


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Renee Carter Hall

September 2012

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