bits and pieces

It is not currently porch-sitting weather at the cabin. I’ve made a few trips to the cabin in the last month when the weather has allowed, but as I write this, it is 8 degrees F there, so I’ll stay in my warm house in suburbia. (I’m sure the dogs agree with me about this.)

We’ve gone through a lot of these chairs at the cabin. They’re comfortable for sitting back and watching the lake and musing about the world, but I suspect they’re designed to fail. No doubt this is hastened by their exposure to the weather, but since they are intended primarily as outdoor furniture, weather exposure ought to be factored into their design. Unless it is. Unless they’re intended to last for a year or two and then break apart, sending you to the store to buy replacements.

The slats on the back and the seat tend to be where these fail. You can see a break in the top of the back slats of this green chair. Such breaks are tolerable for a while, but when they begin to snatch at your hair (or the seat of your trousers) the time has come to replace them.

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Why are “elbows on the table” wrong? I can clearly remember my mother admonishing me when I was a boy about not resting my elbows on the table at meal times. Well, it turns out this was just one part of our elaborate table manners rituals originally designed to prevent outbreaks of violence among our barely civilized ancestors. (Hands held below the table, resting on your lap, were less likely to impulsively grab the neck of the person opposite you.)

I don’t know how well this worked among my barely civilized siblings, but I doubt if my mother knew the origins of the request. It was just something a polite person did not do. And so the behavior was reinforced without understanding why, existing only because it existed. (I’ve read that knives beside plates should have their blade facing inward so they don’t seem a threat to others at the table. And I’ve read that the blades should face outward because reasons. It’s almost as though we’re being taught what should offend us. Kind of like the “rules” of grammar in a way.)

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Small Paul (and his family) was here last weekend. His other grandmother, Nya Nya is grandmother in Swahili, will be returning to Kenya soon, and she wanted to visit with us a last time. I had taken the opportunity to sign us up for another 5K for when they would be here. It was the Groundhog Run, and it’s one I had done a couple of times before. What’s unique about this run is that it is all underground. It is held in limestone mines here in town. Thus the weather outside may be frightful, but the race course temperature is a consistent 60 degrees. Nya Nya lives just a few miles from the equator, so the ice and snow we’ve had recently were a (mildly disturbing) novelty to her. So too would have been running a 5K underground, but it didn’t happen. The rise of the Omicron variant of Covid 19 caused the race organizers to reschedule it for this coming August (when the weather could be frightful in a different way here in the Midwest). Nya Nya will not be here then, so her race fee will be donated to the cause behind the race. Small Paul’s mother, however, intends to be here to join me for the run.

Here are Small Paul and his Nya Nya after he had a bath:

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Lest you think my life is all fun and games, let up update you on my writing efforts.

I continue to submit Obelus to publishers. While I had originally submitted it to dozens of likely agents, I received not a single response (other than some form rejections). In mid-December I began my campaign of approaching indie publishers with the manuscript, and while I’ve had a few nibbles, nothing solid has happened yet. Just the other day I heard a discussion of this approach on the Otherppl podcast. The guest (Lindsay Hunter, whose podcast I’m a writer, but I also listen to) suggested that this is the new way for writers to do it. The indie publishers are generally more interactive with writers than agents are, and they can serve as a kind of slush pile reader for the major publishers. If a book is picked up by a boutique press, the major publishers can suppose that the indie publisher has found a worthy writer. Thus the worthy writer’s next work has a better chance at getting the interest of the major press. (But it’s worth noting that publication by a boutique press can be just as creatively satisfying, often allowing more creative control for the author.)

I’ve researched a few dozen indie publishers for Obelus (also for my other novels), and it’s currently on submission at 14, 12 of those having been submitted since December. Reported response times vary, and it’s mostly too early to know anything, but I’m now at the point where I will begin submitting to my “second tier” targets. These are more problematic for me because many of them ask for my “marketing profile,” my “brand,” and my “marketing plans.” My marketing plan consists mostly of sitting on the porch of my cabin, so I don’t really have any of these. Nor am I comfortable IRL, especially with promoting my self.

Since mid-December I have also been busy writing short stories. I’ve written three solid pieces in that time, including one 6,000-word epic I wrote in three days! It’s been a productive time, and when creative Paul gets exhausted, business Paul steps in to research markets and make submissions. In between this, regular Paul likes to read books.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic, Rants and ruminations

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