I always dread the coming of Summer, because it means I’m going to have to go outside and engage in a horrible activity known as manual labor. I do not like it. I am a lazy person by nature, who appreciates the comfort of air conditioning and the warming rays of a computer monitor and/or an HDTV. These are the things I enjoy. Being outside in the heat, sweating, getting dirty, these are things I’m not to be enjoying so much kthxbye. I’ve never been an outside person, and I honestly don’t think I ever will. But, the seasons don’t stop changing to benefit me. This year is different, though, and I’ll tell you why…
For those who don’t know, my wife’s father passed away last June. It was sudden, and he was her last living parent, so it was hard on her. Trying to be the best husband I could be, I took on as much as I could to help get his affairs in order and his estate handled. He had lived relatively close to us (about thirty minutes away), and his house was paid for, so when he died we talked briefly about selling our house — which has a mortgage on it — and moving into his. But, the thought of moving into the house her father had died in wasn’t something either of us wanted to entertain, so we decided instead to have an estate sale, then sell his house, and then put our house on the market while we moved to live closer to her family in Virginia. A few months later, though, we changed our minds. My wife is back in school, and moving to another state would have made too many things more complicated than they needed to be, so we figured that if we performed an extensive remodel of her father’s house, we’d be okay living in it and selling our house. That began a several month process of getting together with a contractor and organizing a kitchen remodel, new paint throughout most of the interior, getting electrical work done, getting new furniture, and once all that was done, getting moved in. We started the work in October, and we moved in around the first of January. It was more complicated than I thought it would be, and vastly more expensive, but once it was completed we were really pleased. It no longer felt like her father’s house. Not even close. It felt like our home.
But, we knew that when Spring arrived we were going to have work done on the exterior of the house so that it would look as nice as it did on the inside. That work included new paint, new windows, new doors to replace the crappy sliding doors it already had, concrete poured along one side of the backyard to make a nice large patio area, and new flower beds. Later we included a new mail box and extra bushes. And so far, of all those items, the only thing left to be done are the flower beds (well, the new doors still need to go in, but they’re paid for). Today I planted a bush along one of our backyard fences (it filled in a gap when we bought one too few last week), and then my wife pushed me past my lazy threshold and had me string up lights we’d bought to hang from a covered patio area. Once upon a time it had been a car port, but after expanding the concrete we’d turned it into a side patio/entertaining area. The lights ended up looking much nicer than we’d hoped, and along with some decorative hanging items from Pier 1 I think it’s turned into a great place to have people hang out in.
So, as you can see, I’ve been busy. I guess that’s one of the bonuses of me being unemployed. While my wife is at work, I have the time and ability to meet with people doing work for us, I can take care of the pets, and I can do work around the house when my meager abilities allow me. The place is really coming together, and I think once we get the flowerbeds planted next week we’ll have the house looking nicer than it ever has before.
Now if only we could get our old house sold…
But, that’s just one half of my life. What about the writing half? Well, let me tell you. I finished the second draft of my novel, “Digital Decay,” about a month ago, and with the ink barely dry I sent it off to a slew of beta readers to get their impressions and suggestions. While they were doing that, I busied myself with working on an essay to put at the end of my rerelease of the “Pirates of the Crimson Sands” chapbook, and I wrote a new short story entitled “The Dame Wore White.” As you can guess, it’s a noir type story, but (of course) with a sci-fi spin. It took me a few tries to get it where I wanted it (thanks to everyone at the ‘Crypt section of the Dead Robots’ Society forum), but I’m so pleased with the end result, and I’ve sent it off to the Writers of the Future contest and to Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. Here’s hoping it gets a warm reception at both. I’ve also converted the story into a script and enlisted the help of several kind individuals who will help me turn it into an audio adventure, much as I did with “Pirates” and “The Ties That Bind.” I’m hoping to have that project finished in the next few weeks. Starting tomorrow I’m going to get back to work on “Digital Decay.” I’ve gotten enough notes back from my beta readers to at least work on the first few chapters. I’d like to have my third draft done by the end of May at the latest. In the midst of that I’m also going to convert my short story “Dark Running” into a script and start preliminary work of podcasting it by perhaps the end of May as well. We shall see how that pans out.
So, there you have it. If the Devil loves idle hands, then mine must be holy water to him, ’cause I’m busy busy busy. Better that than the alternative though, right?