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Still getting used to Dreamwidth...

I did not intend to let our little corner here lapse into silence for nearly three months. The reasons are mostly boring–having to do on one hand with a job possibility that did not come to pass, and on the other hand with freelance projects that indeed came to pass (but on an uncomfortably tight deadline for even a fast writer) at the same time extensive home remodeling kicked into high gear.

I also did not intend for the first post in forever to be on the topic of grief. I would have preferred the Patreon re-launch, truly.

But I also made a commitment to be honest and open about grief because it so rarely is discussed once “the expected” period of mourning is over. So here I am, Memorial Day morning, typing despite an ocular migraine, because I spent half of yesterday weeping.

That… was unexpected. Yes, I’ve been immensely stressed all the way around, yet thinking the weekend would be fine regardless. Yesterday being race day, we had the whole family over. I had a drink, started showing off what we’ve been doing in the basement to my sister, then spotted the pictures my son had just unpacked.

And there was the framed show poster from when my late husband and I were dating, and the sole professional photo of the three of us when Dev wasn’t much more than a year old. And this one.

I lost it. I cried, then apologized for crying, then cried again, then assured everyone I was fine. I went into my half-finished bedroom to work on a few things once everyone else had left, then started crying again. At some point, for reasons I don’t know, I crawled into the closet to huddle up and cry some more. I pulled it together to get something to eat and act sociable for awhile, then made an excuse to go for a drive so I could cry again.

It’s been six years since my husband’s funeral. It’s been four years since my best friend’s memorial. Now another dear friend is starting chemo. I just… lost it.

Today, I’m feeling all cried out. I’m tired. Tired. Usually, I attend a service or ceremony to mark this day, but I am still under the bedcovers. I absolutely must work on the freelance project today. I’m thinking it’ll all happen in my pajamas.

So… There it is. That grief and loss thing, feeling bigger for a few hours yesterday than it has in a long, long time because–if I’m painfully honest–it is cranked up by the terror of losing my recently-diagnosed friend as well.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
So the appropriately named Rock-pocalypse (thank you,  [ profile] gnibbles!) that devoured my sister's new-home experience also ate nearly two weeks of my life because... well, because someone tried to screw over my family member and that Will Not Stand. Everything in me that is Scots-Irish Sicilian came out in force, and there wasn't room for elsemuch.

I cannot go in to all the details quite yet (though I'm muchly looking forward to doing so, if for no other reason than to purge it from my brainspace). But I can say over two thousand square feet of two- to four-inch sized rocks were removed from my sister's yard this week. They removed enough rock from her yard to have filled the previous home I lived in with rock six to eight inches deep.

That's a fuck-ton of rock.

In case you missed it, here's what it looked like when they moved in:

Now she and her partner can move forward, with a large deck being built this week and the landscapers coming to finish everything off next week. By the 30th, everything needs to be in place, since they're throwing a huge party in that backyard to celebrate their marriage!

And this means I can move forward, too.

I'm wrapping up final commitments for a new StoryBundle I'm curating, answering almost as many emails as there were rocks in my sister's backyard, and sending over a dozen pieces of content for a client back and forth to ensure what I've said about their industry is accurate down to the last little word.

This weekend, I get to write, and to get Breath of Stone review and promo info out to willing folk.

I do not get to go camping. Two weeks out from my sister's wedding celebration, it would be bad familial form to, y'know, disappear into the woods. But this I know: much of September will belong to me and me alone. I intend to take advantage of that and disappear often.

In the meantime, I will be taking more afternoon wanderings. I've found a few removed places within an easy drive that both permit me to feel far away and offer writing-conducive atmospheres and resources. The far-away part is mostly psychological; I need to be somewhere that convinces my brain I'll not be randomly interrupted at any moment. Being in a house with a person who processes every single internal thought verbally (mother), and a person who will interrupt to first assure you he won't interrupt, then interrupt again to apologize for the earlier interruption (father), means I spend most of my home-time waiting for those interruptions. Somehow, someway, a fifteen to thirty minute drive fixes it. Whatever.

Book Three of Desert Rising is progressing. It feels so damn good to be writing it. I do need to nail down the title, because calling it Book Three is bugging me. :) I'm leaning toward another pairing--Flesh of Strife and Ash of Life--or something similar.

And a friend kicked my butt for not writing and publishing more non-fiction, and she's right. Recently, my non-fiction energies have flowed toward immediate client needs. If I'm going to build income rather than chase it, I must invest in my personal non-fiction writings as well. I've twelve months to meet my "hit the road with an RV" dream goal, so I'd best get cracking!

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Yesterday, I went with the family to the Colorado Children's Chorale holiday concert.

I sat in that huge auditorium with my mother and father to my left, my sister and brother-in-law on my right, and my youngest nephew on my lap while my eldest nephew performed with the chorale for the first time.

And I cried as quietly as I could, flooded with memories of watching my own son and my little sister in their childhood performances, overwhelmed with knowing I wasn't going to miss any more of those milestones with my nephews, knowing it's entirely possible I'll be watching grandchildren within the next dozen years.

So yeah -- there are lots of wonderful personal and professional things with Colorado.

But yesterday, the real reason I'm here made itself beautifully, unforgettably, heart-fillingly clear.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Every now and then, I find I need to remind the folks I know and love that the operative word in the phrase, "working from home" just happens to be "working."  And since the majority of folks I know and love have barely the slightest notion what process goes into writing fiction, I sometimes need to remind them that writing is indeed work.

This time, I wanted to take a lighter approach.  I offer my wording here in case it might help another writer find a constructive way to keep family and friends from killing their career with love, kindness, or carelessness:

Hey, my darlings, just a quick heads-up:
For most weeks, Monday through Friday, I will not be answering my phone, text messages, or email between 11am and 4pm.  These are my work hours.

A longer explanation:
Let's say you work on the 35th floor of an office building, but the only way people can contact you is to call the phone that is on the ground floor.

Fortunately, it's understood you can't answer that phone in a timely manner from the 35th floor, so the building is equipped with an express elevator that whisks you from your office to the ground floor.  The phone rings and -whoosh!- you're right by the phone!

Unfortunately, the elevator goes only one way: down.  To get back to your office, you must climb 35 flights of stairs.  It doesn't matter if what called you to the ground floor needed one minute or thirty minutes.  You still have to climb the same number of stairs to get back to work.

My writing brain lives on the 35th floor.

Thank you for understanding. :)

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Originally posted March 10, 2015 at Blair MacGregor Books.

Somewhere along the way, I ended up writing military fantasy.

I didn’t intend to, really.  Maybe way back, when I was first putting stories together, I had a notion.  But really, I can’t recall ever thinking to call them “military fantasy.”  But once others applied that label, and when I read their reviews and impressions…  Let’s just say I’d forgive you for not believing me, because of course it’s military fantasy.

Sword and Chant Cover

So here’s how the truth tapped me on the shoulder:

Read more... )
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Earlier this year, I'd sorted through nearly all the boxes I'd had in some sort of storage for about five years. Then my folks moved and, by February, I had acquired at least as many boxes of stuff as I'd sorted before. Some of it was mine. Some of it was just stuff my folks didn't want but didn't want to "just give away." Some of it, I discovered today, was family memorabilia.

One huge bulging envelope was covered, side to side and top to bottom, with my father's crisp engineer lettering. Inside I found lots of miscellaneous remembrances: a 1950s Ice Capades program, a Palm Springs newspaper from 1976, a gift certificate for four martinis at the Apple Valley Inn (expired, alas), a copy of my cousin's Naval commission, postcards of icky Benny Hill type humor sent by my grandfather when he was traveling.

But the real treasure is the letters. There are letters my father wrote home while he was in the Navy, and letters my grandmother's Calgary relatives sent her in the 60s and 70s. There's a wedding announcement for someone in Sicily--my grandfather's home country--and from a man named Freddie, whom I knew as a child as the wild-white-haired old man who had a cabin near ours in the remote Apple Valley desert. The glimpses of life offered are so, so cool.

One little falling-apart letter, typed single-spaced on the front and back of a small sheet of thin paper, was from my great-grandfather. It's a sad and angry letter than tells of how poor he and his wife are, living in Chicago Heights, and how ungrateful his children are for not sending them more money and taking them on vacations. He mentions no one remembers him saving "Joe" from the Black Handers* in 1907. The next line, an incomplete sentence, refers to either Sam's brother, or someone Sam killed, or perhaps both. Does he mean Joe? We don't know. The odd sentence construction leaves interpretation open.

Then I found a browned newspaper clipping from 1938, talking of the murder of Sam Costello at the hands of Al Capone's hitmen. Why was it in the envelope with all those letters and such?

I called my father to tell him of the find, and to ask about that newspaper clipping. Turns out Sam Costello was my great-grandfather's cousin.

We're still not certain if that's the same Sam connected to the Joe who was either murdered or saved or both in 1907.

ETA: Here's the article on Sam Costello.


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