Improbability is in the Details

Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal

[sticky post]Where the Abra is at
Seems about the right time for another game of "Where's Abra?"

Physically, I've only got one more scheduled appearances in 2013 now that CONvergence and 4th Street are done. Next month, I'll be running a Minnspec meeting about the ins-and-outs of selling short stories. Details:

Online, I'm in a lot more places! Mostly these are all their own thing, but there is some information that I post to all of these, like my market list updates, new publications, and other major news (writing-related or not). - My website. Home base for my writing. The best place to find things I've written.

Livejournal - Here! I don't post as often on Livejournal as I used to, but I tend to keep my longer posts and the important life updates over here, along with the occasional photo or recipe post.

Facebook - Short updates about my life, bemused writing-related comments, as well as random links I enjoy or find useful. You know. I use it like most people do.

Twitter - Mostly SF/F and writing market-related posts these days.

Google+ - Personal stuff, by and large. This is where I put most of my little updates about my life and my family.

Goodreads - Strictly business. This is my author account on Goodreads, not the personal one that I deluge with my to-reads.

Etc. - Pinterest, Flickr, and so on. These are other, more specialized social networks.

Aswiebe's Market List 2014-07: Refilling the Well
Market List Logo

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 8/15/2014.
Permanent link to this newsletter in the archives:
(The markets list got updated 7/15, but this newsletter is going out a little late.)

Editor's Note
Many writers talk about refilling a well of creativity. This metaphor works because wells gradually refill themselves, but they may need some non-productive time to do so. I also like to think of a battery of creativity. Certain activities help recharge the battery, but you've got to figure out what "charger" works with your battery. Some work for you and not for most other people. Some work for other people but not for you. Some charge fast. Some charge slow. Some only charge the battery for your experimental unicorn-Cthulhu horror story (and if you're looking for a great example of that nth-sub-genre, see
A combination of the well and the battery may be needed after finishing a project or hitting some other milestone. I tend to need a little downtime (the well), and I'm still figuring out what works best to charge my batteries these days. Unfortunately, figuring that out is a bit trial-and-error. Going new places, reading new non-fiction, looking at new art, taking a trial class for a new skill: these all seem like good things to try.
(Do not try to combine wells and charging batteries in real life. Bad things may result. In general, it is wise to avoid imitating mixed metaphors in real life.)
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Being sick with new illnesses! I do not recommend this as a way to charge the battery.

- Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Things Shiny or Useful
Archive of all shiny or useful links:

* Do Not Take Writing Advice From the Worst Muse [humor]:
* Rights Reversion [writing business]:

* Exploring the Romance Genre [writing business]:

Featured Market
Inscription is a pro-paying F/SF magazine for teens.

We’re looking for stories with strong writing and memorable characters. There must be a clear genre element, science fiction or fantasy, so no non-genre fiction, please. But while genre is key, we consider characters and story to be even more important. Humor is welcome, but the point of your story shouldn’t just be a punch line at the end.

While we hope readers of all ages will enjoy this magazine, we do primarily publish fiction for teens. It is always difficult to draw a definite line around what makes a story young adult, but here are some rough guidelines if you’re deciding whether your story is a good fit for our magazine – you can also read some of the fiction already posted on our site.

The basics: F/SF for teens, 500 - 9,000 words, reprints okay, pays $.06/word. Guidelines at

Market List Updates
To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, as well as hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet.
Name What they want Pay Per Word – Fiction Flat Pay – Fiction (Lowest) Website
Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) [ONE-TIME electronic submissions 8/1/2014 - 8/15/2014, 1/1/2015 - 1/15/2015 - see] F/SF/H $0.0700
The Lost Worlds (Eldritch Press) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY - DUE 12/30/2014 Steampunk horror $0.0600
Inscription F/SF for teens $0.0600
Pithy Pages for Erudite Readers All genres $0.0500
Nameless Magazine Dark SF/F, weird, thought-provoking, no sword & sorcery $0.0500
Spellbound Children's fantasy, for 8-12 yrs, themed $0.0250
NonBinary Review All genres, themed $0.0100
Year's Best Weird Fiction ANNUAL ANTHOLOGY Previously published (that year) weird fiction $0.0100
All That's Left of Yesterday ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY - DUE 7/1/2014 - 7/31/2014 Apocalyptic, no zombies $0.0100
Panverse Four ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY - DUE 9/30/2014 OR EARLIER IF FILLED SF, science fantasy, and alternate history novellas
Wee Tales (Golden Fleece Press) Kids stories for little ones
Refractions (Golden Fleece Press) Stories for teens
More Dia de los Muertos Stories ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY - DUE 8/15/2014 (deadline extended) or when filled Fantasy and horror themed to Dia de los Muertos
Strange Constellations Spec-fic
Golden Age ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY - DUE 9/30/2014 Golden Age-esque SF
Beyond the Nightlight ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY - DUE 10/13/2014 Childhood-themed horror
Despumation All genres, heavy metal-inspired
Enchanted Conversation, The MONTHLY CONTEST - DEAD MARKET (contests no longer regularly scheduled) Fairytale-inspired

Aswiebe's Market List
* Aswiebe's Market List is a searchable, sortable spreadsheet of paying fantasy, science fiction, and horror markets. This way it's easy to find, for example, only horror markets that accept reprints greater than 10,000 words. For more information on what it is and how to use it, see About's Market Spreadsheet.
* If you find it useful, please consider donating via PayPal to help support it.
* To help prevent these from being flagged as spam, please add this email to your contacts. Thanks!
* Feel free to forward this email on to people you think might find it useful. If you're so moved, go ahead and link to Aswiebe's Market List on your blog or webpage.
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* You can also get market list updates through social media by following my RSS feed, Livejournal, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ account.

Aswiebe's Market List
About Aswiebe's Market List
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's main website
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's blog

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Compiler of Lists

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Recipe: Spinach and Strawberry Salad
I improvised this salad for the ATV weekend/family reunion in Wisconsin. Lots of people liked it, so I thought I'd better write down something recipe-ish before I forget what I did.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Makes enough to fill up two large salad bowls. Leftovers do not keep well. Although this will still be tasty the next day, the salad will be quite limp.

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 c. vegetable oil or canola oil
1/4 c. raspberry-flavored white wine vinegar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2 Tbsp. Penzey's Raspberry Enlightenment (or raspberry jam)

Candied Walnuts:
1/4 c. butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 c. sugar
3 c. chopped walnuts (about 2 small bags)
pinch of salt

Salad Ingredients:
2 bunches spinach
2 small heads romaine lettuce (volume should be about equal to the spinach)
1 1/2 boxes ripe strawberries

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Candied Walnuts:
Grease two cookie sheets and set aside.

Heat skillet over high heat.

Melt butter. Add sugar and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is bubbling vigorously.

Add walnuts. Continue stirring constantly for five minutes.

Pour half of mixture onto cookie sheet. Immediately, working as fast as possible, separate walnuts as much as possible. Repeat with second half of mixture on second cookie sheet.

Let cool for ten minutes.

Using your hands, break walnut clumps apart.

Rinse and dry spinach. Discard bad leaves. Chop off stems and discard. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Put in salad bowls.

Rinse and dry lettuce. Chop into bite sized pieces. Add to salad bowls.

Slice strawberries. Reserve 1/2 cup. Put the rest in the salad bowls.

Add walnuts or put aside for people to add on their own if allergies are a concern.

Use tongs to combine salad bowl contents. Try to keep all the strawberries from falling to the bottom.

Wait until 5 minutes before serving time, then add salad dressing to taste (there will be salad dressing left over). Use tongs to combine salad bowl contents again.

Get reserved strawberries and place on top of the salad.

Eat and enjoy! Bonus points if you remember to photograph it first.

Movie Review and Various Writing Projects
I had a week, I know I did!

I pretty much recovered from the bout of parapertussis this week (thank you, antibiotics!), and so I was actually able to be a bit productive, and also to socialize a bit. Still more tired than usual. I can tell my body was/is still working to clear out the last bits of bacterial crud.

Immediately before I got sick, I finished my Short Story of Unusual Size. Normally, I try to take a couple of days off after finishing a project, partly to refill the creativity well and partly to give a lick and a promise to all the other writing-related tasks that I tend to fall behind on. The sick ate my recharge time, so I took a couple of days on the other end of it. Most of that, I spent writing updates on things that I wanted to get down--con reports, child at age X months, etc.

Then I got to restart Circus of Brass and Bone AKA the Way Overdue Project! Or at least to finish up my re-read (with minor revisions), figure out what needed to get wrapped up, and plot the grand finale. That was difficult, after so much time away from the project. As I commented over on Facebook, I had a plan for how to do that, but my plan was, "Make a plan." Not so useful! A couple of months ago, Pat helped me to realize that what I thought was the climax wasn't the actual focus of the plot arc and so should be a quiet postlude instead of the big finale, but it took post-its filled with threats to hash out what would actually work well. Not threats to me, but all the perils and threats pointed at different characters. I rearranged the post-its, added solutions or results, and I finally got a conclusion that I was happy with. Next up: writing the damn thing.

[ . . . And coming back to this post and trying to write it while sitting outside and letting Cassius play in our back yard and pick ALL the raspberries. He still needs interaction, though, so this may be a little scattered.]


Life at home has become more exciting because Theia's made a big developmental leap from "wiggling a bit on her tummy" to "crawling across rooms in 30 seconds flat." Keeping her safe just became a lot harder, and keeping the floors and other low surfaces clean and child-proofed just became a lot more important. Having an almost-three-year-old who likes to carry around his choking hazard toys and deposit them wherever makes this more challenging. It is really cute watching her chase balls across the room, though. Or cats. Or Cassius (especially when he's also army-crawling so that they can play "Snakey"). Now that she's moving around a lot, I can tell that she's also losing weight. She's becoming a skinny baby, just like her big brother. Sigh. She's also lost patience with most of the baby-containment devices, which makes doing anything else around the house more challenging.

I saw Chef, now playing at the Lagoon, on my monthly movie date with E. Five stars! Cleverly written, populated by an amazing cast, extremely funny, truly heart-warming, and filled with delicious foodie moments. My only complaint is that the wrap-up had maybe a touch too much childhood-wish-fulfillment, in a way that might be a sore spot for kids who have that wish but won't get it fulfilled. Regardless, highly, highly recommended, especially if you need something to cheer you up. For bonus points, plan on going out for dinner at a place with good tortas afterward.

Other things, in summary: vegan waffles yay!, breakfast with C., yay!; Phil working way too many hours, boo!; all the raspberries, holy cow!

Writing Process Blog Hop
#MyWritingProcess Blog Hop

Thanks to Todd Wardrope ( for including me in this tour. As T.A. Wardrope, he writes horror and dark fantasy, occasionally drifting into science-fiction of the Philip K Dick or J.G. Ballard variety. He lives in Minneapolis, MN and works as a video producer. He is also an independent filmmaker in his spare time.

0) Who am I?
For people just reading this for the first time, I'm Abra Staffin-Wiebe. I grew up in Africa, India...and Kansas. Then I married a mad scientist and moved to Minneapolis, where I fold time and space to be a full-time fiction writer, part-time freelance photographer, part-time work-from-home employee, and full-time mother. My next project is learning to fold time and space to make this all physically possible! I've had short stories accepted by publications including Jim Baen's Universe and I specialize in dark science fiction, cheerful horror, and modern fairy tales.

1) What am I working on?

I just finished "You May Also Like Gas Masks," an unusually long short story about Big Brother and the search for love. So I'm taking a couple of days off to let my creative well recharge a bit, and then I've got to get to work on the final act of Circus of Brass and Bone, my post-apocalyptic steampunk serial about a circus traveling through the collapse of civilization (here:

Circus of Brass and Bone is a project that I've been fretting over resuming for a while. I had to take an unplanned long hiatus from writing it, because of health and family troubles. When I went back to writing, I thought I'd finish it before I resumed posting episodes . . . and I promptly proceeded to write and write and write until I realized that I was actually well into book 2, and that I should have written the ending of the serial about 50,000 words ago. Except I hadn't written it as a proper ending, so I've rather been wrestling with how to go back and fix that, in a way that will be a good resolution to the serial, without messing up any of what I wrote later. My goal is to wrap this up by the end of July so that I can post the last episodes and get a limited print/ebook edition out.

Oh, and my "notebook story" right now is a science fiction murder mystery. I always keep a short story going in my notebook, writing longhand. Usually, I write a sentence or two on it a day. It's also my waiting-in-line, riding-the-bus, sitting-in-a-lecture story.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I wish I could answer this better, but I feel like the answer is always changing. The way I look at the world is usually a little bit askew from how other people see it, which helps. I have a dry, wry sense of humor that sometimes sneaks into my writing when it's least expected. And my writing often has a gruesome edge that seems to come naturally for me.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Why do I write? Because I'm good at it and it's very satisfying to create something. Also, otherwise my brain uses those creativity cycles to fuel paranoia and spin random, non-useful imaginary conversations. Writing is a safety valve that bleeds off the pressure.
Why my particular blend of SF/F, horror, and mystery? It's what I like to read. New worlds and strange technologies really appeal to me. I love it when I read about some new scientific discovery or technology or piece of history that makes me think, "If that exists, and this happens, then it might lead to this other thing, which would be really awesome. Or terrible. What happens if I put interesting people in that scenario?"

4) How does your writing process work?

I do two minutes of freewriting every day, and that's where most of my story seeds come from. Sometimes I use an interesting photo from Flickr, a random word, or a buried Google result as the start for my freewriting. I tag these ideas in various ways, including by what I think their potential is.
When I'm ready for my next writing project, I look at pro-paying anthologies and then at similarly tagged story ideas to see if anything grabs me. If not, I look at my highest rated story ideas and go for what starts unrolling in my head as I read it--or, if nothing clicks like that, what seems most unique.
I do a spiderweb plot brainstorm in my writing notebook and then write out a one-page plot outline while I still remember what all the arrows and words mean. For short stories, I expand this into a rough scene outline.
Then I write! I write mostly in the afternoons during my kids' naptime, with a little squeezed in sometimes first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Sometimes I'll go to a coffee shop on the weekend. If I'm home, I type on my desktop computer or my laptop. If I'm away, I'm on my laptop. I stop and do a more detailed scene outline before I start each scene. Occasionally, I'll write a piece out of order if that's what my brain starts whispering to me about, but usually it's in order and outlined. And of course, I have my notebook story, which is a whole 'nother thing.
First I read the finished story quickly and cut out obvious bad spots. Then I send my story out for critiques and get as many as I can. I print the story out, clip it to my clipboard, and edit by hand with a red pen (or purple, or green, etc.). Editing is tricky. I have trouble justifying making time to edit and polish my stories when clearly, I should be spending that time *actually writing*! Once I've finished making the edits, I read it out loud to smooth out any rough bumps or accidentally introduced errors. I add the story to my spreadsheets, figure out what I want to grade it as, and start on a list of places to submit it to. Then I send it out and try to forget about it until it collects so many rejections that I have to take another look at it and see if it's fixable. Usually, somebody buys it before then!

Up Next: Gaea Dill-D'Ascoli

Gaea's Bio:
Gaea writes fiction, makes puppets, takes pictures, and stilts. After graduating with a degree in linguistics and creative writing, Gaea worked with Habitat for Humanity first building houses and then spent some time in the office (she enjoyed the former much more than the latter). After her time there, she worked on an ambulance doing medical transport. Most recently, she worked in the Peace Corps as a Community Health volunteer in the village of Vansemakul, Central Pentecost.

4th Street Fantasy Writers Conference
These are my notes from the writers seminar. As always, my notes are partially things said by the panelists, and partially ideas sparked by them. I don't attribute, because I have a lousy memory for such things. I haven't divided my notes into sections by what the ostensible topic was, because I noticed that the things I took notes on generally have very little to do with whatever the listed topic during that time was. About the writers seminar in general . . . this one felt a bit more Writing 101 to me than previous seminars have been. That may be because it lacked the narrower focus of, for example, last year's seminar, which was themed to storytelling. It may be because I've leveled up to "pro" and so the intermediate stuff feels more beginnery to me. I do think this will be the last one I attend. Worth noting, however, is that all the *rest* of 4th Street Fantasy this year felt even more writer-oriented than usual. It was definitely a writers conference this year.

Thrillers are all about resetting the world back to normal, but F/SF usually rejects that idea.

You cannot change the world without changing the character, and vice versa. Do it consciously.

Stories are based on the moment of change, but that works because a change is either called for or resisted, and the bit before the change can speak to which it will be and make it more resonant (while hopefully engaging the reader).

Alternative to the Bechdel Test: the Mako Mori ( test. Does a female have a character arc that doesn't center around a male?

Look for source/inspiration material that others haven't mined.

If you're trying to subvert a trope, don't stick with the original trope toolong, or you'll lose some readers.

Consider wish -> wish fulfillment -> consequences. Don't necessarily need to show all the consequences, but is better if you can show the realization that they're there.

If it feels familiar - setting, character, plot, any trope that you want to use - try to step back, figure out conditions needed to make it work, and figure out under what logic/worldbuilding will that ring most true (instead of just using an established set piece). For example, a non-evolving medieval society exists because if you try to advance, people will come and burn your workshop down. That kind of thing. Examine and justify your tropes.

Everybody wants me to read Patrick O'Brian. Still.

California still uses irregular verb forms. Dreamt instead of dreamed, etc. How lovely!

If there is a lot of something allowed or prevalent (in a society, setting, genre, or the rest of the book), it's absence becomes much more striking. This is particularly noticeable if its presence in a genre is new due to relaxed restrictions (i.e. swears, sex).

Definition: "sales blurb" - a blurb from another author that goes in a letter to the editors you're trying to sell to. Not the same as the blurbs for the back of a published book.

Work on figuring out *actually* how long it will take you to write something. Budgeting time and being able to give accurate delivery times to an editor is GOLD.

Plot-wise, remember that climax != payoff (necessarily).

Books can be a pain and a misery to write, but years later you can look at it and enjoy it. Or they can be great fun to write, with no suffering! Keep your head on straight and do not link a difficult/easy writing process to the end product's quality/enjoyability.

4th Street Fantasy
I had a 4th Street! There were panels! I listened to them, took notes on interesting bits, and worked on writing a story longhand in my notebook the rest of the time. I will talk about these things in a different post. I also went to the writer's workshop beforehand, though I was admonished a bit for going, because it's geared more for beginning and intermediate writers. I managed to share a couple of meals with people, but mostly ate with family/alone. Dietary restrictions are hard, and so are time restrictions, and it's really a pain in the stomach when they combine. No weather catastrophes struck this year, although we did all get little LED lights as our attendance gift.

I am no longer sure if writing a story longhand during convention panels is a good idea. Yes, I end up getting some writing done, which is yay! But I lose that "deluge of ideas colliding against each other and reforming" effect. It's the shower effect; good ideas happen in the shower because the mind's idle cycles are not actually idle. Hearing smart people talk about interesting things is kind of an idea shower, and not doing anything except listen (and take notes) frees up the processing cycles to come up with really interesting intersections and ideas. Writing uses those cycles. Maybe. It's a hypothesis. I might need to try a panel or two without and a panel or two with so that I can compare the quality of my notes/ideas. The amount of writing I get done longhand is relatively small. If I choose to write and lose the shower effect.

I was even on one of the panels, the one about sentences and grammatical structures. I managed to mostly avoid sounding like an idiot, although I did flub my introduction because there was banter! And I was flustered! I need to work on my panel persona, though. Turn the personality and the funny up a notch, as it were, and not just be "painfully earnest studious person," which is not really me either. It would be easier if I were standing on a stage instead of sitting behind a table. As is, I tend to tighten up, which is not so entertaining. I had a pretty dress, though! Cassius told me so, when I left the hotel room. I also did homework for the panel, in the form of reading Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style. It's pretty damn good, and I'll have to think about and work on its techniques for a while before I can integrate them fully. I think this was also the only panel where at the end, most of the panelists offered homework assignments, in the form of books they recommend reading.


I also had a six-month-old, a two-and-a-half-year-old, and a thirty-mumble-old in tow, so the amount I was able to do outside of panels was inevitably limited. On short breaks, I was running up to our hotel room to nurse the little girl. On long breaks, I was running up to our hotel room to nurse the little girl, give Phil a break, and try to figure out where I could safely eat food. Mostly Phil and I just ate together, either at a "safe" restaurant or from supplies we'd brought from home (baking a double batch of ginger cookies and taking them along was a great idea!). I could eat some of the food in the con-suite: pita chips, fresh fruit, eggs, that sort of thing. Cassius could (and would) eat some of it, too. One meal we managed to eat at the hotel restaurant with a bunch of my local writerfolk friends. Not recommended--it was overpriced and the food wasn't fantastic. Good company, though. Another meal I ate with friends and Seanan McGuire, who as it turns out knows Martha Hage from way back in the day, so Mars actually showed up at 4th Street for the first time, too. Double-take time! We chose to eat at the Irish pub while America was playing in the World Cup, so that was--a thing. There was loud chanting. Fish and chips was tasty, though!

That was one of the ways I could give Phil a break--take the energetic two-year-old downstairs to run around and burn off energy and maybe see if I could persuade him to eat something while we were at it. Although I couldn't eat the pizza welcome dinner, Cassius managed some of it. I also had success (for the first and possibly only time) walking the boundaries of the conference room with him and explaining that he had to stay inside them or we'd be going back to the hotel room. Another time, I wore Theia in the Moby wrap and took Cassius to the small upper plaza and let him run around while I sat and talked to people; it helped that there were also cards he could look at and play with, even if he was very insistent about the pictures on them being of lizards wearing hats in jars, instead of snakes. They were totally snakes. And after the conference, Cassius and I got to go swimming! He did pretty well with floating, once I got him in a life jacket with one of those foam noodles to hold on to. There was a slightly older little girl who became very upset when he talked about there being fish in the pool, because THERE WERE NO FISH AND EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW THAT. Kids are funny.

I had maybe a couple of half-hour segments in the evening to socialize solo, but I've basically forgotten how to do that. Socialize, that is. I listened to music. I chatted with friends. I played a smidgeon of Cards Against Humanity. I stilted! Gaea taught me how, using one-foot-high stilts and the assistance of Tim, who is large enough to possibly actually catch me if I fell. I did not fall. I only wobbled once. I was impressed by a) how weird it felt to be as tall as a professional male basketball player, and b) how tight those things have to be tied on.

. . . Somewhat more thinky panel notes to follow.

Theia at 7 Months
I'd planned on writing a 6-month update for Theia, but instead it is apparently going to be a 7-month update! The delay in writing about her is related to her existence, too.

Theia is currently a fairly healthy baby. Parapertussis is only making her cough a little bit. Her "eczema" has stayed gone since we stopped treating her with an anti-fungal and switched baby soap and laundry detergent. She hasn't had any soy/dairy problems since Mother's Day, so if all stays clear until August, I'll actually get to eat a bit of dairy and see if she's okay with it! One month to Caesar salad, baby! Ooo, or maybe a donut. Or just a block of cheddar cheese. Or mac 'n cheese! Or--okay, some planning still needs to be done. Do you know, it's almost two years since I've been an omnivore? I really miss it.

Her 6-month doctor's visit went well. She is a remarkably tall baby, very strong, with a great reach (that allowed her to snag the doctor's big hoop earrings). She got her shots. She also got complimented on how much she likes being on her tummy and how well-shaped her head is. At six months, she weighed 17 lbs., 10 oz. (74th percentile) and was 2 ft., 4.35 in. tall (99th percentile), for a BMI of 15.4 (15th percentile). So it would be nice if she were fatter, but at least she's staying on her growth curve, and her development is at a normal pace. Unfortunately, her doctor is switching to working in the hospital, so we've got to switch doctors on her. We had this problem with Cassius, too.


She is quite tall, as you can see from those stats. At six months, we moved her into the 18 month clothing size. She isn't chubby like many babies are, so I fear that she's inherited the Staffin super-skinny-until-30 body type. That always leads to lots of fun conversations with pediatricians. She has also inherited Phil's blue eyes. I can only hope she got his fighter pilot eyesight, too. Her hair is blonde and very fine. The poor thing got my hairline. Her tramp-stamp birthmark hasn't faded yet. Aside from that, she's still young enough that it's hard to guess what she'll look like when she grows up, but she and Cassius are *very* clearly brother and sister.

The kids get along really well, although sometimes Cassius wants to roughhouse with her, and she really isn't old enough yet. There's lots of, "Giving her a hug is great, but crawling on top of her or rolling her over is not. No, not even if you're being a snake." Lots of hugs, lots of ugga-muggas, lots of holding hands, lots of playing with baby toys together, lots of trying to push her in her swing. On her side, there's lots of squealing happily at him, waving her hands toward him, crawling after him, and grabbing big fistfuls of his hair. Earlier today Cassius crawled on the floor ahead of Theia so she could chase him, and then they had a crawling "race" side-by-side along the floor. The cuteness, it is ridiculous.


She is army-crawling very well, although she has yet to lift her tummy off the floor. Cassius never did, so she may not. Who knows? I'm really happy we bought a playmat for her to roll around on and practice her sitting up and rolling over and crawling on *without* banging her head repeatedly against our hardwood floor. Things learned as a second-time-around parent! Other developments . . . She is very good at grabbing things with her hands and passing things from hand to hand. She has mastered sitting, though she preferentially rolls onto her tummy and lounges that way. Or crawls. She recently started babbling syllables. Phil was over the moon the day that she decided the best thing to say, all day long, was "Da-da!" That may be her first word, though I don't know if it counts if she's not actually speaking yet. I think she's going to be a thumb-sucker, although she prefers her toes when she can get them.

Her favorite activities include crawling all over the living room, hugging and nomming on cats, bouncing in the johnny-jump-up, grabbing her brother's hair, grabbing people as they walk past the johnny-jump-up, and being cuddled.

She's showing interest in food, so we'll start that soon. She's tasted some brownie with raspberry sauce, some orange juice, and some cherries.


A normal day has her waking up around 6-7 AM, taking a morning nap from 9 AM - 11 AM, an afternoon nap from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM, and going to sleep for the night at about 9 PM. She's sleeping through the night almost every night right now. No teeth yet, so I'm sure that'll change once she starts teething. She nurses about every hour and a half. After nursing, I try to keep her upright for a few minutes in the bug exersaucer or the johnny-jump-up. When she's no longer interested in standing, she gets to lay in the kitchen swing or crawl around the living room, depending on what she tolerates and where I'm trying to do household chores.


Mostly sick, with bonus injury
As I am writing this, it's very weird to realize that today is only Friday. 4th of July, yes, but Friday! I've been existing in the weirdly timeless dimension of sick for the last week. Phil has been home for much of it, which hasn't helped (with the disorientation--it's helped a *lot* with keeping the household running!). Last week, both kids got sick with congestion, coughing, and fevers. Last week Friday, I started to feel sick. Over the weekend, I got all the congestion, coughing, and fever. I was so wobbly and lightheaded that I put Phil in charge of carrying the baby up and down the stairs and even--when I felt particularly bad--of moving her from the playmat to my arms to nurse.

Theia's church dedication was on Sunday, so Phil took her to church and I stayed home sick with Cassius. This was probably a very good thing, as it turned out, since Cassius and I were the most sick and probably most contagious at this point. She looked adorable in her little satiny white dress with red flowers; that's all I know.

My fever went away on Monday, but Phil still stayed home to help and because I'd made a doctor's appointment for Cassius. You see, even before this latest bout of sickness, he had a minor but persistent cough that wouldn't go away. He'd had it for three weeks, which seemed a bit long. We talked to the nurse practitioner. They took swabs for various tests. They used the water pic to clean earwax out of his ears so they could make sure he didn't have an ear infection (since he'd complained of ear pain the previous day). She said that perhaps he had seasonal allergies, we should try medication for that and see if it cleared things up.

Tuesday, Phil went back to work. I managed okay with the kids, but I was exhausted and so slept as long as the kids did during naptime, which was a really long time that day (we were all sick). That's how I came to miss the nurse practitioner's urgent attempt to call me with Cassius' test results. He tested positive for parapertussis, which is like whooping cough junior. It's less likely to kill you or cause severe complications. It's also not vaccinated against (see: less likely to kill you). So I called the triage nurse on the night shift, and she referred me to the doctor on call, and the doctor sent in a prescription for antibiotics for both kids and told me to get the adults in the family to a doctor so that we could get treated too. So that's what we did the next day.

We are all highly contagious until we've taken five days of antibiotics. So certain things had to happen--or not happen. Phil called in sick to work through next Monday. We're avoiding social events. We had to cancel our annual 4th of July party for the first time in, um, well, since before we were married. Phil was very sad. I'm pretty glad that I wasn't planning on going to CONvergence, anyway. Parapertussis would be a nasty addition to the con-crud mix that usually brews at these large events.

So instead of a 4th of July party, we had a back yard picnic (Cassius corrected Phil when he called it a party). Just family, hanging out in the back yard for most of the day. Everybody came indoors for naptime, though. Cassius ran around in his red-and-blue plaid shorts and his caped Superman shirt, eating all the raspberries, swinging in the hammock, and generally having a great time. Phil grilled and posted links and analysis of his favorite heavy metal music of the year (his "ponies"). Theia crawled off the blanket we put her on a lot and generally required a whole lot of attention, but she appeared to be enjoying herself just fine. I ate and lounged in the hammock with Theia and watched House on my tablet and generally was kept rather busy by my offspring.

On top of all this, in a feat of rare and remarkable clumsiness, I managed to trip over a stool and fall in such a way as to sprain my ankle and bruise my knees badly, right on top of the scar tissue from my knee surgeries. Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. Moving my ankle hurts. Going up and down stairs hurts. I am extra sad that I can't take ibuprofen because all the brands have lactose and Theia's allergic to it.

Other (better!) things have happened since my last diary update, too.
* I had a 4th Street (Fantasy Convention), about which there will be another few posts.
* I finished a short story that became unusually long! "You May Also Like Gas Masks" is over 12,000 words. Yikes.
* I finally figured out the part that makes my next notebook story work. Turns out the problem wasn't the mystery or the A.I. part, it was that I needed to figure out the character's spine: grief.
* I emailed a pro-paying magazine editor to ask for a different, less rights-grabby contract--and got it. Like a pro, oh yeah.
* Cassius is having nightmares on a regular basis. I feel so bad for him. He's also become very focused on figuring out when things (people, monsters, cars, etc.) are "bad."
* Theia has mastered an army crawl that gets her across the room in much less time than you might think.
* Phil has finished selecting what he thinks is the best music of the year for a Ponies disc . . . or two.
* I've been experimenting with an easy, delicious microwave (vegan!) fudge recipe. I am happy to continue experiments, I just need an unlimited supply of coconut cream, cocoa, and powdered sugar.

Aswiebe's Market List Update 2014-06: Pay Raises!
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The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 7/15/2014.
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Editor's Note
The last two weeks, I've twice been able to go to a local coffee shop and write for a couple of hours. Given that I have two small children, that's pretty great. And both times, I've gotten at least four times as much written as during my usual (naptime) sessions! I am certainly going to be trying to do this more often.

If there's a lesson here, it might be that it's worth it to try writing at different times, in different places. Our lives change. Sometimes, the way that's best for us to work does too.

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Coffee shops! Finishing things!

- Abra Staffin-Wiebe

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