Life Tip

Life Tip: When nothing goes right, go to sleepI wonder how much bad news humans can handle–asking for a friend. Despite how much I’ve backed off social media, and how much I’ve been bingeing Star Trek: The Next Generation, news keeps slipping in between the cracks. The writer friend who created #wordmongering lives in northern California. She was forced to grab her furbabies and husband and flee for their lives in the face of the inferno that has enveloped that region. She lost everything. Another writer friend had a different kind of family crisis.

Tonight I see #metoo trending in response to an entirely different kind of despicable series of reports in the past week. And I have to stand with the multitude of friends I’ve had to support through similar experiences. And question how I’ve managed to get off lightly with mere dick pics, unwanted advances, and catcalls.

This weekend, I slept. I’m not sure how much of a return of the flu bug this was (though I did have a fever and headache), versus how much the existential weight of it all just ground me into the pillows. Earlier in the week I’d read about tricks from neuroscience to help increase emotional intelligence. Which naturally reminded me of an old post about words for experiences and emotions that don’t exist in English.

All litost-inducing.

Which is why an article about Jeff Goldblum, all the Star Trek I can handle, and new research about skin pigmentation haplotypes really help with reminding me to smile.

As does this Honest Trailer:

Still no editing work. At least hubs and I have enjoyed watching Star Trek: Discovery together. That show’s writing has really hit its stride, and is starting to get into some fascinating scifi realms. As well as explaining how the so-advanced mycelium engine the ship sports didn’t make it into later generations of starships. (At least, speculatively, now that we’re five episodes in.) Some of the stiffness in characterization and dialogue is working itself out. The releationship between Michael and Tilly continues to evolve in a natural and affirming way, and I love the subtle parallelism that it takes both a senior and a junior officer to shake Michael back into her more human emotions. Having Michael at the emotional heart of the show rather than the captain makes for a different take on the franchise–as if it were somehow more accessible because she’s now a working grunt along with the majority of the rest of us.

I’m back to considering a sequel to The Builders or another book in the After the Fall series since my head is all in with space opera at the moment. But that would be letting down the people who are waiting on the final Red Slaves novel and breaking my promise to myself. Might be a different explanation for why I’m so very stuck on my editing process.

We are still walking though. The phone says I’ve averaged 4,130 steps per day this week. Surprisingly not as big of a drop-off as I’d imagined given the shorter walks we’ve been taking to help Tashie heal. Again.

To everyone else who is struggling: sleep is to be highly recommended. As is a cuddle-buddy. I’m grateful and lucky to have had both this weekend. My ROW80 buddies continue to report in despite obstacles; so will I.

Running Down Dreams

When we were trying to crawl through our nightmares, he taught us to "run down our dreams."It seems the old “it bleeds, it leads” adage is alive and thriving on the glut of death and disaster in our world. Last week it was enough to make me retreat, focus heavily on the safe space hubs and I have built together. And not blog. Even though Tom Petty’s death in particular hit me where I live. Not quite to the extent this author described, but the soundtrack of his songs is an underlying beat to my high school and college years. And back in the day when hubs was a rock critic for the Milwaukee daily paper, he got to spend a day with Petty, interview him, get to know him as a person in a way that affirmed the good-guy persona the rest of us caught glimpses of through his lyrics.

Apparently my inclination was not unusual, either. One of my favorite authors, Ilona Andrews, posted about the Fear Overload we’re facing at about the same time I took my break.

Unfortunately, my break was also driven by a cold/flu bug that had me sleeping through the first half of the week. The work requirements that are always heavy, though, didn’t slow down while I did, so the title theme of running down our dreams feels in many ways to me more like sprinting to catch up with the status quo.

Another piece of same old-same old was in play in late September, when the New York Times Book Review deigned to report on romances. What wasn’t expected was the Jezebel response, “How Not to Critique Romance Novels.” There was also the interesting push-back in Harper’s Bazaar entreating everyone to stop calling women nags, and several days later, the response reporting that emotional labor appears to have finally made it into the mainstream of understanding.

On the other hand, horrifying reporting out of Nevada, where a high density of retirees allows for rich predation by those claiming the mantle of “court-appointed guardian,” offered another possibility of a fear overdose.

My natural escape valve for all of this is speculative fiction. I’m thrilled that Star Trek: Discovery is underway. Despite my generalized annoyance with CBS pushing its app on us and therefore forcing us to pay an additional subscription fee in order to be able to watch the show… it’s actually worth it. The production values and story lines make the experience like watching an hour-long movie. The acting and characterization are fabulous. As a bonus, I get to see old episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation on demand.

None of this helps me with my goals, though, which remain:

  1. Finish edits on Dust to Blood and re-release it with its new cover.
  2. Edit Blood to Fire and re-release it with its new cover.
  3. Edit Fire to Dragon and release it.
  4. Walk at least a mile a day.
  5. Blog weekly with my ROW80 updates.
  6. Keep the sanctity of my weekly date night with hubs.

This Round, I’m also looking forward to having the first audio book version of one of my stories. I finally chose and signed an agreement with a narrator to at least take that task off my plate. We’ll see how the experience plays out.

Otherwise, there remain 72 days in this Round, and more things to do than I’ve managed in any given Round to date. So I’ll keep reporting and encouraging you to see how everyone else is doing.

Life Stages

Three stages of life: 1. Birth 2. What the fuck is this 3. DeathYesterday we celebrated both (Husky baby) KouKi’s third birthday and niece Karalynn’s fourteenth birthday. Facebook has been kind enough to remind me of all the other birthdays friends and family are facing this week as well. Given the stories I’ve heard and lived this year… this week’s image was too funny to pass up. It feels like everyone I know is asking one way or another, “what the fuck is this?!”

For myself, I can’t seem to get past the too much day job work hurdle to get back into the headspace required for editing. Given the pace of activities, I’m lucky I’ve been able to sneak time to refresh myself by reading. The series that currently has me in its spooky claws is Peri Jean Mace Ghost Thrillers. Gayla pointed me in this direction, and I swear she’s laughing at me every time I pick up the next book and have to quickly skim some of the most horrifying ghost scenes I’ve ever run across. I’ve read the first five, and even though horror is not really my genre, the characters are so real and the stories so well-crafted, I can’t NOT read the next in the series… though I do have to make sure I am reading in broad daylight, otherwise I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be sleeping at night.

In fact, tonight hubs went to a concert with some buddies and I had to call Gayla to keep me company and chase away the ghostly heebie-jeebies after finishing the latest installment. Then a spider surprised me in one of the pans I was going to use to cook dinner, and it was a whole different round of “what the fuck is this?!” I actually heard Gayla laughing at me for that one.

😀

We got the official diagnosis for Tashie this week: A torn ACL. In the same knee where she’d partially torn her MCL. We seem to have caught it early enough that she’s not suffering the way she did before. So we’re walking slower and shorter with her… but then taking separate walks with the other two to try to help her not over-tax herself. So my phone says I’ve averaged 4,519 steps this week.

Hubs and I also spent Friday night at home together, and watched the next two installments of The Orville. Most of the stories are still predictable with sophomoric humor, but have managed to hook us enough to keep watching for the moment. My main conclusion at this point is that it’s a Star Trek: Next Generation homage–and because of that most of what it’s succeeding at is making me nostalgic for one of my all-time favorite shows. Because The Orville is on Fox, though, we stumbled across Ghosted, a much more intriguing and promising show. It also has comic leanings–likely because Craig Robinson and Adam Scott play the leads–and seems like a take-off on The X-Files, with a twist of Warehouse 13 to it.

Since it’s the week between Rounds, I’ll keep it short and wish everyone well for the duties and tasks you face for the upcoming week. I’ll mainly be crossing my fingers that the next round of oral surgery I have scheduled for this week isn’t too debilitating. Check back next week to see how I fared.

Being Busy

"What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?" -Greg McKeownThe observant among you may have noticed my radio silence over the past two weeks. It’s the time of year when work requirements compound; this is the third September in a row I’ve had to travel to attend a six-month review and planning meeting. Even knowing what’s coming doesn’t make them any easier, but my teams were engaged, productive, and prepared. So the time invested is paying off for us.

Doesn’t mean I’m not now fighting a cold or feeling any less exhausted, despite a weekend at home reading, resting, and relaxing. So when I caught today’s quote floating by what minimal number of Facebook posts I’ve seen in recent weeks it spoke to me.

I’ve been struggling this whole Round to find time to listen, ponder, and meditate. The closest I’ve gotten to a regular practice that way has been my stay-at-home date nights with hubs, or the walks we take with our Huskies. I keep asking myself how I got so busy I’m having difficulty finding the time to wrap up all the edits I’d planned to complete.

I’m still not sure. On the other hand, I’ve been listening to webinars to stay on top of my PMP certification’s PDU requirements, and today heard “Projects are Easy – Change is Hard!” by Naomi Caietti (may be restricted by a paywall, but if you’re in project management, or even just management generally, it’s worth a listen). I had to laugh at all the ways my time is constrained, and the easy excuses I have for keeping things status quo.

Running across stories like this one about a woman documenting her rare disease through illustrations introduces me to fascinating artists. Reading more about Kam Redlawsk and her approach to the restrictions in her life reminds me to be grateful for what I have. I don’t know how I found the only-related-because-she’s-also-an-illustrator Instagram account “Christine drawing Krysteen” but there were quite a few illustrations between the two of them that hit close to home and made me realize there’s a whole spectrum of women who want to do so much more than their mental or physical health allows.

Representing something I’ve never had to face, then, I read an article reporting on the CDC’s findings that overwhelmingly, women are killed by their boyfriends and husbands. I suspect it ties in nicely with the point this (male) illustrator makes in his post about “toxic masculinity“. At least I was never acculturated to dismiss my feelings, even if I still don’t know what it will take to reintroduce work-life balance into my life.

On the other hand, running across a story about a bridge researchers have investigated to determine it’s 1.7 million years old… and constructed by humans… will always be grist for my mill. I have more stories bubbling in my head than time to write them in, and that’s really what this post boils down to.

My walking dropped to 4,807 steps per day this week, mostly because most of my time was spent being PowerPointed to death, but also because Tashie is back to limping. She’ll be going back to the vet specialist this week again, and we’ll see what the diagnosis and recommendation is this time. Hubs and I also watched The Orville‘s premier. It was every bit as mediocre as the various reviews and headlines had indicated, but useful in its own way as an exercise in understanding why a story doesn’t work, why viewers don’t get invested in the characters. I think there was too much that was on the nose and too much that felt like it was trying to spoof Star Trek, without the payoff in laughs something like Galaxy Quest offered. We’ll try one more episode to see whether the creators get past the stiffness inherent in a pilot, but considering I had a hard time even sitting through one episode, this is one scifi show I doubt I’ll be supporting.

Which brings me back to what my ambitious goals had been. Finishing all the edits for all three Red Slaves novels, re-releasing the first two, and publishing the third. I’m nowhere close to that. I keep hearing one of my colleague’s admonishment “hope is not a strategy” playing in my head, but I have to hope that for the next Round I find the time and energy that has slipped my grasp this time. Either way, I’ll be back, and will encourage you to see where my ROW80 cohorts are ending their Rounds.

Book Review: Tethered Mage

Tethered Mage by Melissa CarusoI’m finally catching up with my NetGalley duties. This week, in the few hours when dogs and work didn’t demand my attention, I read Tethered Mage, by Melissa Caruso. It doesn’t come out until October 24th, but for those who are interested in a meditation on all the ways we can be enslaved, set in a world where magic is recognized as dangerous, this is a compelling, literary take on high fantasy.

Here’s the blurb:

In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army.

Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage-mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations.

But fate has bound the heir and the mage. And as war looms on the horizon, a single spark could turn their city into a pyre.

I had hesitated to sign up for this one, since I’m more than a little leery of the next YA/NA Big Thing, but the concept piqued my curiosity, and I’m glad I picked up this story.

The parallels among the various traps for people who strive to fit in, meet expectations, or use their abilities are most clearly illustrated by the tethering process that captures Zaira and controls her out-of-control balefire. But reviewers who get stuck on that most obvious constriction miss the constriction of class that doesn’t allow Lady Amalia to follow her heart. Or the trap of birth that means otherwise ambitious characters alternately do everything possible to avoid their fate, as with Domenic Bergandon, or subvert their fate as Amalia’s uncle Ignazio and Ardence’s Steward, Lady Colanthe Savony do.

Aside from the thematic struggle against the visible and invisble boundaries that class, magical abilities, location of birth, and other pertinent demarcations most known societies struggle to come to terms with, the story is framed as a political thriller. It’s as gripping as anything Dan Brown or Tom Clancy might come up with, with more subtlety and complexity because of the diversity of the cast of characters as well as the fillip of magic that will always pique my curiosity.

Also, the language Caruso uses… each character has his/her own voice, the idioms are unique to that world (I have to say I loved the way the Hells and Graces were woven throughout), and the structure and tone support the weight of the theme being discussed.

There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the story. So when I started working on this review, and began researching what others had to say about the book, I was perplexed by the number of low ratings and DNF notations both on Amazon and Goodreads. There’s a part of me that really wants to shake these folks and point out to them that fiction is an entirely appropriate place to ruminate about social ills; if you’re that sensitive about slavery, it suggests to me you haven’t considered the sneaky ways society has trapped you. I say this as a working woman, well aware of the freight that comes with both of those categories. Slavery may be just the most obvious and repugnant experience of entrapment–but that’s exactly what makes it worth unpacking. Exploring the theoretical boundaries and parallels it might have with other experiences.

So I will strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a political thriller that confronts some dark topics in unconventional ways. It’s a story full of surprises and worth digesting for the surprises it reveals about the ways an unconventional/unrecognized slavery can warp a person.

« Previous Entries

  • RSS
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • NetworkedBlogs
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Blip.fm
  • Delicious
  • Pinterest