Up From the Depths…

Posted: November 4th, 2016 under Cold Welcome, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,

Bubbles rise to the surface of the murky water…the water-lily pads bob up and down…somewhere something is moving, but nobody can quite see what it is…until a large blob, crowned with two water lily pads and a glob of slime that drips down a face obscured by a wetsuit hood, rises to the surface.

Well, it’s like this.   September did not go as planned (you might have seen that coming)  and the plan to cut back on the novel’s daily wordage to allow wordage for the story due November 1 was derailed by a novel itself, all the political stuff (including multiple phone calls a day which–even if unanswered–mean I jerk uncontrollably when the phone at my elbow rings),  having gone back to singing at church which meant the extra weekly trip to/from the city even though I left for home in time to get there by 10 pm (meaning I cut part of choir practice, which led to, naturally, some stress on Sunday mornings.)   I didn’t sing the All Souls requiem service this year;  couldn’t summon the energy.  They did Cavalli…a rarely performed but gorgeous early baroque requiem that fits in well with the liturgy of our church.

For a more colorful view of how writing went during October, please wander over to Universes  to read about it, because it’s really long and I didn’t want to copy it here.   I think it’s funny.    In brief, a train wreck between competing stories and deadlines.  Three steps back in the recovery process because of having to stay up later than I should to try to get the story due finished by November 1.  This week has been getting that done and then recovering (partially) from the strain.   On the bright side, the novel is over its snit at being ignored completely for 9 days and today delivered unto me a lovely scene which will need a lot of work, but has good bones.    It’s at 77,400 (approx, actually a little more) at the moment.

Someone elsewhere asked if I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, and as usual I said No, because I’m partway through something.   I will, however, be writing diligently at least 5 days a week, as usual, and some weeks 6 and 7.  Hopefully without having to stay up past midnight, night after night, again, because that’s bad for me and it’s also bad for my writing.

What else:  Well, over 100 bur oak acorns have now been planted on our place.   80 acres that’s mostly not trees has plenty of room for more trees.  We know most of them won’t sprout.  But we also know some of them probably will, and bur oaks have all the advantages.   Native, drought-tolerant, disease resistant, providing  habitat for a wide variety of wildlife from the invertebrates (specific butterflies) to mammals, food for the same range,  somewhat open shade,  survive grass fires if old enough (very thick bark), long-lived.   We also plant seeds from other native trees, shrubs, forbs, and grass, but the bur oaks are the largest, potentially, and one of my favorite plants.   This year the acorns we collected (are still collecting) are from trees we planted as acorns…the new trees will be grandchildren of the first acorns we brought home from bur oaks we found here and there, all within thirty miles of here.












This cluster of acorns is on a tree whose acorns were planted 13 years ago.  They’re still green here, image taken a couple of weeks before they matured.  Tree it came from is in right hand image.   Bur oaks stay tiny for years (and need protection against deer or cattle at that stage)  but these 13 year olds don’t need a  chicken-wire surrounds now.



Left: 100 bur oak acorns in a basket, mostly from the older yard trees.  The day before we picked these up, one of the same yard trees yielded 40 acorns.  The day after, there were more.

Right:  This is the only bur oak we planted that wasn’t grown from an acorn:  my mother bought a pitiful looking seedling from a roadside seller–one of its two little branches broken, wind-whipped and dry–for one dollar.   The remaining branch turned into a a true “leader” and the tree is now straight,  tall, and doing well.   It’s now about 28 years old.  We have two other  acorn-planted  bur oaks in the back yard just as tall, and another just outside the back yard a little taller.   And a young seedling that will someday replace (some of) the trees we had to take out last winter.

Cold Welcome is now proceeding steadily through the production process, expected to make its April debut without a hitch.   New Novel doesn’t have a confirmed title yet, though I made a suggestion to Editor (in mid-October) that she liked, but it has to pass the other elements.  So there’s that.   The book after this is beginning to suggest itself but not yet with any energy.   I need to stay healthy to write–that much is clear–and therefore schedules must be arranged that promote it.




  • Comment by elizabeth — November 5, 2016 @ 12:56 pm


    Another thing bur oaks are good for…carbon capture. Long-lived tree converting carbon dioxide to wood and leaves. Leaves that decay slowly (big, thick, with tough “skin”).

    But even the much-maligned “brush” is good for carbon capture. Texas A&M University’s mentioned that 1 acre of Hill Country brush can soak up the carbon from 26,000 miles of driving–and that was written before so many hybrids were out there; the figures were for cars with average gas mileage when it was written. Got a hybrid or all-electric powered by solar or wind? You’re covered unless you drive more than 50,000 miles a year, probably.

    So plant woody stuff. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, in terms of carbon capture and sequestration. It matters how long it lives and how efficient it is at turning CO2 into plant material. Look at the lifespan of what you plant as it is in your area. 150+ is good to aim for, and hope people have sense enough to use the wood when it dies–make something that will be used and not decay. Tool handles, bowls, chair legs, whatever.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — November 11, 2016 @ 7:43 pm


    Thanks for the post, I found it after reading the Universes Blog. Really enjoyed the story of your October and recommend it to all Paksworlders.

  • Comment by tuppenny — November 12, 2016 @ 10:29 am


    Here on the Massachusetts coast I tend towards planting Holly trees. Very long lived, evergreen and the leaves take forever to rot. They give good winter wildlife cover too.
    And are salt tolerant. The Sunken Forest on Fire Island New York is a salty and sandy as it could be without being under the Atlantic. It has enormous ancient hollies in its valley behind the second dune line back from the ocean. Really amazing to approach from the ocean and walk down into it and suddenly hear the silence instead of the constant wave roar.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 12, 2016 @ 11:16 am


    Thanks, Nadine.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 12, 2016 @ 11:18 am


    We have holly relatives here that are in the shrub class, though they sometimes grow to make small trees (10-15 feet) if in favorable soil. I’ve seen full-grown hollies up north–they’re gorgeous. One of our two local species has bright berries that persist through much of the winter–the color of individuals varies from orange to true holly-red.

  • Comment by Evey — November 30, 2016 @ 6:06 pm


    Prayers for good health Ms. Moon. Paks is once again sustaining me through a trying phase. Keep writing. Take care of yourself. EV

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 10, 2016 @ 1:34 pm


    I’m sorry you’re having a difficult phase but glad that Paks is being a help.

  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — December 26, 2016 @ 12:50 pm


    I wanted to stop by and wish you a Marry Christmas and Happy New Year. I’m sure I’m not alone in missing your voice around here, but I trust your energy is going in to new books. Which by my priorities are more important than a blog.

    Here’s to lots of new Moon novels in 2017 . Maybe even a Paksworld novel…

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 26, 2016 @ 6:11 pm


    Thanks. Yes, a combination of things have kept me running hard for the past several months. However, since I’m not a fast writer, there will be only one Moon novel in 2017 (the one I finally finished last spring, that’s been in production, COLD WELCOME.) I’m closing in on the end of its sequel, INTO THE FIRE. After that, I don’t know. INTO THE FIRE is the last book on contract; I need some time to do all the things I’m supposed to for recovery, and some major clearing up in the household department, before diving into another project. The brittleness of the recovery so far has become obvious this fall & winter when I’ve tried to push for more words + progress on other things as well. I need to figure out how much I can do and still maintain homeostasis. Then I’ll be better able to plan. Writing is always in the plan, but it may be something other than what I thought three years ago.

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — January 2, 2017 @ 6:47 am


    Into the Fire – Ky puts out a cook book?

    Into the Fire – Ky visits a volcano?

    Into the Fire – Ky appears on The Apprentice?

    And of course, after the Cold Welcome, Ky might be glad to go Into the Fire.



  • Comment by elizabeth — January 2, 2017 @ 8:29 am


    Jonathan: Jonathan: Ky may think she’d like the fire, at least to sit by, but it could be a bigger fire than she anticipated. It could be a raging, roaring, burn your bones to ash kind of fire. Chances of it being a nice tame little fire confined to a fireplace are…rather small.

    Ky might visit a volcano, but she is unlikely to compile a cookbook (her ability to cook is, briefly, an issue), and if Ky appeared on The Apprentice, they’d need to clean the carpet. And walls. And furniture. The ceiling might be high enough to escape the splatter. She doesn’t play stupid games and she doesn’t put up with arrogant pissants. So they’d invite Stella. Who would coolly remind the producer foolish enough to invite her that she’s *already* CEO of a multinational, interplanetary business enterprise with a healthy profit margin and they’re taking up her time, which is valuable, with a worthless invitation. Come to think of it, that might make an interesting moment in the book. People are people, and will no doubt be stupid enough to still watch such faux-reality drivel far into the future. I was thinking of a different one (Dancing with the Stars or Bachelorette), but she’d just refuse with a shrug of annoyance. The Apprentice offer would burn through Stella’s reluctance to get involved in one of Ky’s “childish feuds” even better than what I’ve done instead. We’ll see. If I use it, you’ll get a mention in the Acknowledgments.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment