There is really nothing like the scent of autumn—that sweet, light, crisp scent of the brown pine needles that carpet the road and the yellow leaves floating down to join them. One of the things I love best in the world is going for a walk on a brilliantly sunny, chilly autumn morning, with a blue sky overhead and sunbeams pouring down through the trees. Even the rainy mornings are fresh and sweet-smelling. Autumn...I just love it.
I had visualized October as being one of my most productive months this year, but as things turned out, I had far more moments of feeling like my life was being swallowed up by the minimalism challenge and the care and keeping of puppy. Oh, well. It can't last forever, that's what I tell myself. In the meantime I accomplish what I can, when I can, making October a sort of crazy quilt of this-and-that.
Based On a True Story is at one of those odd sticking places where I know exactly what ought to happen next, but am having a difficult time putting together the words to make it happen. One of these days I'll be able to break loose from that, I know; but in the interim, I've been keeping my hand in by editing a few short stories. I cut 200 words out of one the other day—without really removing anything of substance from the story. Just excess words. My mind must have been going on overdrive when I drafted that one.
Then in a week or so I'll need to drop everything to re-edit Corral Nocturne in preparation for submitting it to the Five Glass Slippers contest. And I'll have a little preparation to do for the release of my Christmas short story—the cover art is almost finished, and I can't wait to reveal it! Maybe by the end of this week...
My reading also feels like it's been done at a frantic pace and at odd moments, but I have been reading some terrific books. City Editor is just as fascinating as I'd hoped it would be, and maybe more. With the way technology has changed journalism, it's almost like a look into another world—the newspaper industry that Stanley Walker writes about really doesn't exist anymore. I also just finished (only coincidentally another 1930s-set book) A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness and a Trove of Letters Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup. I stumbled upon it while researching something else, and knew it looked like something I had to read. It's an amazing, very moving close-up look at the effects of the Depression on average people's lives.
And then I also bought the second book in J. Grace Pennington's Firmament series, newly released last week. I meant to save it for a moment when I could sit down, relax, and read it at my leisure, but I devoured it in a few hours on Saturday. Imagine me reading sci-fi if you can. Honestly, I'm no more attracted to the genre as a whole than I used to be, but I love the characters and the situations in the Firmament books, and I'm definitely a new fan of the series. Grace is going to be stopping by for a guest post later this month, so stay tuned for that!
Music, of course, is something I always find time for. So handy that compositions come in all shapes and sizes and lengths, suited either for amusement on lazy afternoons or the soundtrack to frenetic laundry-folding sessions. I discovered just this fall that my library has a Freegal account, which is pretty cool—members of participating libraries can login with their card numbers and get three free song downloads per week. The first thing I did (after determining that their Sons of the Pioneers selection wasn't impressive) was stock up on new Aaron Copland music, and then the two out of five tracks that I didn't have yet from Ferde Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite. I've been listening to that frequently and enjoying it a little more each time. And since there's almost always a Sons of the Pioneers song somewhere in the offing...the two I've been replaying and loving this month are their beautiful cover of "Smilin' Through" (how is it that I'd never heard that song before?) and "Out California Way." I'm generally not keen on their orchestra-backed RCA recordings from the mid-40s, but everything about this one is just right: the swinging rhythm, the smooth vocals—irresistible.
The other sweet scent of autumn is that of an apple pie in the oven. Pies have a way of disappearing awfully quickly in this family nowadays, so I've been kept busy supplying fresh ones. To my mind, the task of getting an apple pie safely baked without it leaking all over the bottom of the oven requires just as much skill as cooking a short story till it's well done...and gives the cook almost as much of a feeling of satisfaction.