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A Quarter Century of Doing

And if, when it is all over, I'm asked what I did with my life, I want to be able to say, "I offered love." -Terri St. Cloud

This month, hubs and I celebrated our silver anniversary. It’s certainly an inflection point, but in the end, mostly just about helping each other make our dreams into reality. We were able to achieve a milestone this past year that we hadn’t anticipated for a few years yet when we bought our house. We’ve settled into a new rhythm here, and are now seeing the final days of our fist full year in this place.

Now it’s time to get back to our other dreams. I’ve started writing book three of my Planet Seekers series, though it’s been delayed by an editorial job that should result in an audio book edition for book one. Hubs is refocusing on work on his next album.

We’re both feeling the stirrings of Spring – though, to be honest, it feels more like allergies than real creativity at this point. So a creative take on alternative forms of meditation caught my interest. As did a literature review about the arguments against free will. And a summary of the leading discoveries in physics in 2022. More concerning was reading about Bonhoeffer’s “Theory of Stupidity.” And recognizing he might be onto something.

It’s still remarkable to look back across the years, and feel time speeding up. We’re talking less about new dreams and more about deepening our understanding and connection. Certainly for me, facing the reality that menopause is around the corner means final closure to the dream of my own family. It will always be a dark corner of sadness, but there is release in facing forward and making decisions about what this alternate shape of my life will look like. What the legacy is that I will leave behind to people who have no blood-bonded reason to care about me.

It’s a new way of thinking about the future. Having seen how quickly the past twenty-five years have flown by, it’s also a bit worrying the number of big projects we keep committing our attention to. I suppose that’s a way of saying we’re both in decent health and still have a goodly number of other dreams to pursue.

So I’ll reiterate my audacious goal of 2023: Release book three as well as at least two audio books. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, as per usual.

Another Year Gone

Image of a red squirrel with its paws outstretched with the caption: "And just like that... POOF! Weekend gone!"

So 2023 begins. Actually productively. I finished a big editing job this weekend for a nonfiction book that has my cogs turning about the power of the spoken word. Interestingly enough, this particular job is in trade for finally getting one of my novels read into audiobook format.

I’ll keep you posted on when the audiobook is available, as well as when that nonfiction book goes live. In fact, you’ll know about that one because it’s ponderous enough I’m planning to post a review. For a preview, the author has posted a YouTube video outlining some of her thoughts.

Of course, we’re in the midst of the darkness of winter, and have just passed the various holiday celebrations of the return of the light. I’m grateful we’re enjoying a mild winter in our new place, and have had our windows and doors open today again, for the third time this week. In fact, I recently learned that there’s an Irish tradition of leaving the doors open to allow the old year to pass through – which was enough to generate its own meme. But there are other interesting, local traditions elsewhere in the world. And there is a long history of caroling during festive times, as well as a much newer tradition of sending Christmas cards. (Which we don’t, for a variety of reasons, so this blog serves as my general update on life in progress for friends, family, and other readers.) That also raises the question of what even is Christmas spirit? Along those lines, research done by one of the Pew groups is starting to highlight the contrasts and similarities between being religious, spiritual, and atheist.

To which survey I might respond with some of these well-stated “stay out of my business” quotes. Though I do appreciate the people who shared their family holiday traditions.

It seems that some of the various treatments I’ve been undergoing in the past year have given me the energy to make more progress on my creative work. So my goal for this year: To release at least two more novels – one of mine, and one co-written with Gayla. I’ve already heard the first two chapters of my audiobook-in-progress, so imagine that will be coming out sooner than later as well. And if things are really flowing well, who knows how many more words of fiction I might produce. But since I’ve been fallow for so long, we’ll keep things manageable with these three. I’ve already begun as I mean to go on, so we’ll all cross our fingers that the year allows them to come to fruition. As ever, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Creating a New World

I realized this weekend that it’s now officially been six months since we moved in – and two months since we added a dervish of a puppy to our household. We’ve created a whole new world for ourselves in just half a year.

If you feel like you don't fit in this world, it is because you are here to help create a new one.

It’s remarkable if you frame it that way.

Animals are known to create their worlds, too. Interesting research on birdsong during the pandemic indicated the reduction in human noise (think cars and heavy traffic), added to the breadth of the soundscape they created. There’s a new world in processed foods, too, of microbes.

And if you really want to challenge yourself on adapting to a new world, try approaching it from a canine’s perspective. Recently there have been more stories in the news and social media about dog maulings, so it’s worth sharing a few tips on non-aggressive ways to approach strange, new dogs. As well as (once again) pointing out that punishment-based dog training is most likely to lead to a fearful, potentially aggressive dog.

From a humor perspective, The Guardian shared a list of 100 ways to do small things to improve your life. Can’t say I agree that just wearing yellow provides instant cheer for me (it tends to make me look sick, and therefore feel self-conscious), but I can say having an ereader on my phone – and therefore access to a whole library in my bag – is a source of significant comfort for me. And I’m happy to report that I found a new-to-me author this weekend (Elizabeth Hunter), who mixed up the most enticing catnip for me with her Cambio Springs series: PNR with a heavy dose of murder mystery and small-town, inter-generational support and interaction. It was great to retreat from the news of the world into such a richly imagined fictional world. Even more interesting to note the different kind of pacing this author used – her key pivots in the story came at the 30% and 60% point of those stories.

My work world has involved a lot more trips in to the office recently, so it was interesting to read others are struggling with escaping the heavy attraction to comfy clothes, and are making new rules about office wear.

Yet, with all these worlds colliding into the one we all agree to share, there are other worlds, still… several of them bouncing in my brain. I’m trying something new and different in my writing life: Co-writing a novel. We’re 5,000+ words in and thoroughly enjoying the process so far, but keeping all other details under wraps to protect this little seedling of a story from too much pressure or speculation.

It’s fired me up for writing my own story again, though I still haven’t actually puts words on a page. I will keep you posted on that, and hope that my readers don’t lose their appetite for the Planet Seekers conclusion.

Cover Reveal: Planet Seekers: Team Shifter

Book Cover: Planet Seekers: Team Shifter by Tonya Cannariato

Presenting… the cover of book 3 of my Planet Seekers series.

I finally have some confidence that I’ll have the energy and time to write the story that concludes this arc, so I”m happy to share the excellent work my cover artist at Sleepy Fox Studio produced for me… last year.

As per my previous practice, I’m adding the word counter to my sidebar so you can track my progress. If all goes well, I should be able to publish this next year.

Wish me luck!

That’s It?

Never regret a day in your life: Good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories.

The release of Team TaoRuti marked the completion of my 12th book, as well as my 13th release. It’s the second book in an SFR series, my first new (story) release in nearly two years, and reflected a decent amount of the collective trauma we’ve lived through in Our Year of COVID. It was hard to finish. And, as with most of my other releases, landed with minimal fanfare and a small number of sales.

Completing a story always comes as a bit of a let-down; it’s a big enough milestone to invite a pause and an evaluation of what I’m getting out of putting myself through all this stress and effort.

For me, it always comes back to: I love stories and the creative process. Being open to the world around me. And I’m enough of a Gen Xer to want to do my own thing for my own reasons, so this mode of self-expression suits my spiritual/emotional needs. But there’s an echo to the burnout reported in The Passion Paradox. Obviously writing as an independent author gives me extreme autonomy. And I can see the improvement in my writing skills book over book. But for as many positive reviews as my books have gotten, I’ve never gotten fanmail from a stranger or any sense that there is a community of readers out there who would be upset if I just stopped publishing. It feels, at the end of the publishing process, profoundly exhausting to have invested huge amounts of time and effort for so little return.

According to the IRS, my writing remains a very expensive hobby.

Interestingly, research points to specific activities that help people recover from burn-out – primarily centered on self-care. And spending time with hubs, my very best friend, who understands implicitly the cycle of ups and down that come with creative production. (Interestingly, there were points made in that first article that are repeated in a second about signs of a happy marriage. Considering that earlier this year we celebrated our 23rd anniversary, I can’t argue the correlation. 🙂 )

So I’ve gone back to my primary self-care mode and read. I’m ahead of my Goodreads goal for the year for now again, and the two most recent books have reignited my story in me. The first I got as an eARC from Netgalley, so you’ll be seeing a review about it in the next week – a profound mix of philosophy and scifi that deserves every accolade it will undoubtedly accrue. The second was randomly listed as a freebie on one of the many book-promoting email listservs I subscribe to. It’s a mash-up of historical fiction, urban fantasy, cozy mystery tinged slightly darker than that genre generally expects, and just enough of a slow-burn romance to seriously pique my interest. And it’s the first of a 10-book series. Totally my jam.

The funny thing about reading really good books – for me, anyway – is that last night I figured out how to start book 3 of my Planet Seekers trilogy. The subtext of the series is a reflection on things I’ve experienced in my career… held at the arm’s length of a post-apocalyptic scifi story. There’s definitely more water in that well, so we’ll kick off book three with the fun of a jargon-filled, pointless meeting.

So. That’s not it, after all. I’ll keep writing and publishing. And if you have any interest in reading my books for the purpose of reviewing them, contact me for a free eARC.

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