Detour Ahead

Signs: STOP, no right, no left, no back, no ahead, wrong way, do not enter

I should really have learned by now to be very, very careful about making plans. I’ve always laughed about the old truism that “the best way to make the gods laugh is to tell them your plans,” and yet it’s consistently played out as actual truth in my life. In the current circumstance, a tooth my dentist had been keeping an eye on for the past year went from OK to bad over the course of the past month. This was heralded by two weeks of migraines, and then necessitated oral surgery to remove the offending tooth. Unfortunately, it was so riddled with old cavities and new rot that it shattered in the socket, so the surgeon had to do a lot of digging to remove all the shards. Which means recovery has not been quick or easy either.

Meantime, hubs took a bad tumble and cracked a rib and nearby cartilage, so he’s been in excruciating levels of pain as well.

And we’ve been pulling out all the stops to prepare for his first album release in 20+ years. Since neither of us was completely incapacitated, we managed to set up his Bandcamp site, update his musician site, and do all the necessary marketing to promote the gig that will officially mark the music’s release. In fact, if you’re in the DC area, I will strongly encourage you to join us this Friday for an evening of excellent, thoughtful music provided both by him and our good friends, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

In those moments of free time I’ve carved out, I haven’t had enough brain to write, but I have been reading. A lot. I’ve blown past my second revised GoodReads goal. And read quite a few articles. One by a popular author in SFF, Mary Robinette Kowal, reviewed all the ways women have had to overcome structural hurdles built into the NASA space program to even be able to get into space in the first place. Another one relevant to the book currently languishing in chapter-one-land, is that the Bystander Effect is not quite the negative thing people imagine it to be… though this was proven by reviewing surveillance footage, so the irony that the Nanny State is how we learned this is not lost on me.

Then there was the fascinating study that showed a tree stump with no external signs of life, was actually fully integrated into the New Zealand forest where it was found. The study speculated that the dead tree might have integrated its root systems with others, and was therefore actually more like “retired” than dead, and that there could be benefits to the surrounding forest and ecosystem to have these kinds of stumps.

In my mind, that somehow links up with the study that shows when lovers touch, their breathing and heartbeats sync, while pain wanes.

That last has been helpful to hubs and I as we nurture each other through our wounds, but in a broader way, reaffirms some of the principles found in Romancelandia, where a happily ever after forms the bedrock of the genre. Acknowledging the power of connection–whether between plants or animals–and its ability to transform individual experiences, provides such a rich playground for my imagination. Now I just have to find my way back to the writing path to explore what research results hint at.

Another Year Wiser

"I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become." -C.G. Jung

I observed another birthday recently. I’m glad I no longer have that date floating out on random social media; being private with that information makes those who remember without those reminders feel more authentically connected. So I’m marching inevitably closer to the half-century mark of my life and am glad to say I’m more committed than ever to supporting what’s meaningful to me: Love, art, and friendship.

So it was no small celebration when we got word that hubs is the official opening act for the Slambovians when they play locally again next month. He’s hard at work making sure his EP is ready for release at the concert, so I’m practicing my marketing skills. Check out the promo poster, and join us if you’re in the area.

Apart from that work, I’ve been reading. There’s news about a nanofiber “skin” that could help revolutionize burn and wound care. And speculation about entangled time, both of which could have implications for book two of the Planet Seekers series. Not that I’ve made much progress with that, given all the other activities, but I do have an October deadline for getting my completed draft to my editor, so I don’t have much more time off from writing.

There were also two articles on memory that stuck with me. The first outlined tips to help us memorize. The second was much more deeply philosophical–at least in that it addressed the centuries-old falsehood that animals certainly couldn’t share the capacity for episodic memory with humans. Accumulating evidence that species as diverse as rats, dogs, dolphins, scrub-jays, and elephants are able to recall past events and replay them in their minds has been a painstaking task, unnecessarily burdened by the bias that pushes “truly scientific” people to believe mere animals couldn’t possibly share cognitive traits with humans. (Sorry-not-sorry for that sarcasm…) Now that some have jumped that hurdle, it looks like humans might benefit by gaining access to new treatments for Alzheimer’s.

Even further down the path of opinion and philosophy were two articles in The Atlantic. The first pointed out that the ubiquity of cars and driving were driven by policy changes, while the second questioned exactly what we give up by joining our lives in marriage. Both worried the disregarded hazards to health and reduced social connections were bigger than our society’s enshrinement of both institutions allows us to recognize. My take-away was that… my post-apocalyptic story might need more consideration of how relationships change when mobility is extremely restricted. And that somebody on Twitter nudged me (and other authors of post-apocalyptic stories) to include more bicycles in those settings. It totally makes sense when you consider the details. So there’s been a lot of thought percolation over here. More words are likely to result. Soon.

Cover Reveal: Planet Seekers – Team TaoRuti

Planet Seekers: Team TaoRuti by Tonya Cannariato

The print version of Planet Seekers – Team Alpha is live on Amazon, closing out the last of my tasks for that book. It’s part of the Review Roundup tour, though the novel portion of that online event won’t kick off for a few more days. If you’re interested in getting a review copy, you’ll need to join the group to gain access–but then you also become eligible for prizes based on the number of reviews you post.

In other news, I have the final version of the new cover for book 2, and am excited to share it with you here. I’m still negotiating when it’s due to the editor, but my plan is to finish writing it in the next few months so I can release it this year. As mentioned previously, it picks up directly after book 1 and I’ve already written the first 500 words or so, so it’s shaping up to be an exciting sequel. I’ll be posting the new book page shortly.

As part of my research for this one, I recently read a highly disturbing article about scientists charged with taking care of the final individuals of species going extinct. The mindset of these scientists wasn’t all that different from that of people dedicated to animal (and especially dog) rescue–a kind of gallows humor and grimness that pushes them to persevere in the face of burnout-inducing circumstances. I see the personalized face of this in my friend Gayla, whose day job as an animal control officer brings her into regular contact with the worst of humanity. She’s struggling to find the energy to write her books because there are just too many animals out there who’ve been harmed by their contact with people.

On the other hand, research released in June about civic honesty details an experiment with “lost wallets” to test the trade-off between self-interest and honesty, that showed that at least between humans, the likelihood to help was consistent and significant across the globe. Other research shows our brains can only take a certain amount of focus–that’s it’s actually a feature that our thoughts wander periodically. And that it’s important to get outside regularly too. An article about tech-addicted teens being sent into wilderness training made me grateful in a different way for my dogs’ needs driving us toward daily walks of more than a mile at a minimum.

Finally, an article about the impact on our brains of speaking more than one language kept me awake for a while one night as I considered for the umpteenth time my basic relationship with the concept of “home”, which for me has never been any particular place. But it’s another component of characterization for the people populating my Planet Seekers books, too, and the ending quote about how learning a new language changes how you see the world around you could have philosophically deep implications for people who were already multi-lingual, but have now had a new language implanted in their brains. It will be interesting to see how that plays out over the course of the series.

Aside from all that, we’ve been keeping busy supporting our friends the Slambovians as they prepare for their UK tour. This is partly out of self-interest as hubs has taken the next step in his creative process and started recording his songs to be able to release an EP for his birthday. And he’ll be opening for them when they play in our area in mid-August. So don’t be surprised if you see me tweeting about these events regularly over the next couple months.

Book Release: Planet Seekers – Team Alpha

Team Alpha (Planet Seekers book 1), by Tonya Cannariato

It didn’t take as long as last time to write and release my next book, and I’m really proud of the work it represents. My editor even granted me the high accolade of two chapters earning “this is a good chapter” comment.

Without further ado, you can find it at most retailers online. I’m still working on the print design, so the paperback version will be available later this month.

We celebrated in fabulous fashion by spending time with our favorite band, The Slambovian Circus of Dreams. We were their groupies for both their Annapolis and Richmond shows last week, and further enjoyed their company as they were our guests after the shows. We got far too little sleep and spent far too much time on the road, but were rewarded with time with true friends who love deep conversations as much as we do.

That said, I’m going to keep this announcement short and get back to work… not only on the print version, but on book 2 of this series. I’ve already started writing, and may be ready for a cover reveal… soon.

So Many Things

"There are four things in this life that will change you. Love, music, art, and loss. The first three will keep you wild and full of passion. May you allow the last to make you brave." -Erin Van Vuren

One month flies by faster than usual these days. I’ve been working to ignore the calendar, because I’m waiting for my editing letter… It could arrive any day, and means I’ll be heads-down once more working toward a deadline.

The easiest way for me to ignore the calendar is to read. I just went back to Goodreads… and apparently I read 14 books since my last post, less than a month ago. That seems… excessive, even for me. One of them was by someone I’d beta’d for way back in 2013, and I discovered myself as a named character for the third time. There was a moment of squee.

😀

Since I last posted we also watched Avengers: Endgame (THREE times!). I will happily debate plot points and share spoilers with anyone who asks, though obviously the short answer is that I loved the movie and how it tied up so many arcs established in the 22 movies that have now come out of the MCU. We even spent a weekend bingeing the first three Avengers movies to be better grounded in the stories told to date, and were shocked by how much was foreshadowed in them.

I also read non-book things. Quite a few were from the perspective one might best describe as side views on feminism. Like when Spain gave men equal access to parental leave, and a subsequent study on social attitudes found that all of a sudden they didn’t want quite so many kids. Or the long-form article celebrating Margarete Schuette-Lihotzky, the first woman to qualify as an architect in Austria, who did motion studies to optimize a woman’s kitchen experience in the early 1900s in Germany. The interesting take-away from it, though, is that how we imagine our kitchen experience has everything to do with class and sex, and much less to do with food production than one might imagine. (Interestingly, there was also an article about eating alone being on the rise, something that used to have a social stigma attached for women.) And, of course, the ever-green review of why more and more of us are suffering worse and worse allergies–urban landscapers who decided it’d be best to plant mostly male trees to avoid the “mess” of fertilized droppings.

I also read two articles directly related to science I need to understand for my Planet Seekers series. The first reports that there are contradictory findings about the wildlife in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Some suspect that the mere fact that humans are no longer there means wildlife is thriving. Others wonder what their quality of life is. The second showed a 3D printed Mars habitat.

There are other thoughts playing in my mind about book 2, especially now that I have a completed beat sheet and have started drafting it. If all goes well, I’ll be able to include at least some of chapter 1 of book 2 at the end of book 1 when it comes out. Keep your eyes open for a cover reveal sometime in the not-so-distant future. Once I have that, I’ll kick off my word counter here, but I’m not unhappy to have the first 500+ words on (virtual) paper for it already.

Until next time, keep reading. And let it change you.

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