Cheri's Blog


It’s raining steadily this morning, long cool drips of water that patter the sidewalks and streets, forming shallow puddles. Almost everyone uses an umbrella here in Valencia when it rains, and I joined in, borrowing the one our landlord had thoughtfully put outside the door in a black iron stand. It was the push-button type, and it opens with a satisfying *thwock*. The shops have umbrella stands too, places to hold your sword while you conduct your business or drink your morning coffee.

There are many small conveniences like that around town. Not only umbrella stands, but little hitching posts for “dog parking” and mini lockers for storing your big bags or granny carts at the supermercados. The granny carts lock up with a long chain, and you can put a euro coin into the lockers (you get the coin back) to borrow the key while you shop. It’s one of the many things I love here, those small courtesies. Like the way you can weigh your produce on a machine in the produce aisle and it pops out a little bar code sticker. The cashiers just scan the stickers; everything has been pre-weighed on the spot. I feel like these “small conveniences” are the things you get when you live in a city designed for pedestrians. I want to package these little innovations up and carry them home.

Borrowed Habits

This isn’t the first time I’ve wanted to carry things from other countries home with me. My time in the UK gave me a love of electric kettles, and I no longer make tea in the microwave, like I did growing up. Visiting Japan deepened my appreciation for the washlet bidet. Once you get a bidet, you never want to go back, especially with a heated seat in winter.

And Spain? Spain makes me want to buy a granny cart and haul it around town when I go shopping. Only they probably don’t call them “granny carts” here. I saw a perfectly fit twenty-something pulling hers through the mall, loading it up as she shopped. You can walk miles and miles with one of those things. You can keep a hand free. Some of them are narrow enough to take on a city bus.

I want a granny cart! 😎

Just One More…

Our time in Valencia will be winding down soon, and we’re already talking about our return. It’s always difficult to pry myself out of this place, the second city of my heart. So we’re making our lists of things we want to do before we leave. Just one more cup of coffee at our favorite outdoor cafe. Just one more meal of Valencian paella. Just one more walk through Turia park.

Just one more…

I’ve been struggling with my writing for the last week or so. My brain feels distracted. Glitchy. Progress is horribly slow. Hopefully the raindrops will help me today. The air feels wet and cool, almost as if we’re back in Seattle. Productivity weather. Thinking weather.

Into the book I go!


When I've had too many days off in a row, getting back into the book feels like hunting for a hidden path in a jungle. At least that's how it feels to me. Yesterday, I couldn't find the path.

Late last night, I was relaxing in bed, preparing to sleep. The room was dark and the bed was soft. I heard a woman's voice.

“Tell us about your ship.”

And I saw her, sitting with her sisters around a low table. I knew what she wanted to know.

There it was, the start to the next chapter! So I hauled my butt out of bed and quickly wrote it down. When a voice speaks, you need to answer. In the morning, I knew she'd be gone.


Good morning. Coffee please.

#today #wip

Good afternoon, internet.

The sun is shining, and I’m working on The Hard Way Home and listening to Polish synth wave music. Very boppy and upbeat.

My read of the week is The Witch King by Martha Wells. I started it a while back but didn’t finish it, so this is my second try. It’s one of those books that requires a lot of attention (Dune-like, you might say) and I needed the right frame of mind.

Writing wise, today is a backtrack day. I’ve written my way up to the first antagonist-battle of the story, and before I start smashing shit together (woo hoo!) I need to go back and smooth the path, fix a few small continuity errors, and so on. As much as I love discovery writing (figuring things out as I go) there’s an element of “oh yeah, when I wrote chapter three I hadn’t figured out X” so I end up cycling back and making matters clearer. The trick is to do this efficiently, without re-writing the first third of the book.

It is not yet time to edit!

One book to read. One new album to listen to. One story to write. This week is shaping up great already.

#today #wip

Happy Saturday, world.

Sometimes there’s so much book inside my head that I feel it pressing on the inside of my skull. It’s not a bad feeling – being full of story – but it’s hard to focus on anything else. The unwashed dishes sit on the counter, sending stink waves through our tiny home. The body pleads for exercise, but the mind is like: HOLD UP THERE, BUCKO, WE GOTTA WRITE.

Out of My Element

My writing group gave me feedback on a few chapters in The Hard Way Home, and it’s time to lock down certain fiddly details about spaceflight in my universe. How fast the ships can move. How far they can travel. Physics.

Science fiction readers are a discerning bunch, and it’s real tough not to burst the bubble of believability, even in space opera.

I was not a STEM major, but thankfully, scientists write books for people like me. I’ll pick up a couple this week and hammer out the details.

A Possible Fix

I trunked a mystery novel recently because it wasn’t working. I’d tried to pull out the salvageable bits, but they fell to pieces in my hands. Live and learn, right? Well, I’ve come up with a possible fix for that story, and I’m feeling – dare I say – optimistic? My optimism and my realism kick each other’s shins beneath the covers at night, but I try to give hope a fair hearing.

Today, I’m glad to have two stories galloping through my brain. You work on one until you hit a snag, then you can switch. It’s like doing intervals at the gym. Cardio, then the weights, then back again. Any more than two stories and I won’t finish anything, but two is manageable. Fun, even.

Back to it!

And body, you can stop hassling me for exercise. I’ll do the dishes and take a walk this afternoon. Promise.