Random Thoughts Roundup

Winter is coming.

Autumn is already here, seasonally speaking. The calendar will catch up soon. And I fear winter’s going to cut down on opportunities to safely spend time with other people, what with the pandemic & all. I wish that wasn’t true.

Some of my favorite memories are cold weather ones: campfire parties with bunches of Girl Scouts, all sitting on logs bundled up, hot drinks in mittened hands and marshmallows blazing over the fire; comet watching with Spouseman, lying on the warm hood of the car, staring up at stars on a back road in a forest preserve; all alone on a sunset walk through the neighborhood, ice crunching under my boots, ice forming on my eyelashes, ice making the bare tree branches creak in the -40 degree wind chill.

Gonna pause here to note that I was rarely cold out on any of those occasions. Did I did mention I hate feeling cold? Yeah. No cold toesies for me once I was old enough to buy my own boots.

I hate being cold, but I’m willing to keep having outdoor hangouts all winter long, if I can find other people to hang with me. It’s partly about having the right gear, and all about the good company.

MURICA AMIRITE?

I am a citizen of a country whose federal government throws people into concentration camps, keeps them in wire cages, starves them, experiments on them, & sterilizes them. I’m a citizen of a country where local and state police forces promote violence and consort with thugs, neither serving nor protect the communities that provide them with budgets dwarfing the ones funds given to public aid and education. I live in a country where the haves are unforgivably selfish and dangerously blind, and the have-nots are willfully ignorant. Where far too many people have no idea how their own government works, and are so secure in their willful ignorance that no narrative truth can reach them.

It’s painful, that’s what it is. I’m not helpless, and I am not a bystander, but it’s hard, not being able to do more without breaking myself. I don’t do as much as others, but I give, and I speak up, and I support where and when I can. Not everyone is built for battle. Not everyone is strong enough to hold up themselves, much less others. It ain’t fun being fragile, is what I’m saying.

FFS All opinions were NOT created equal.

When did the absurdity of “We can agree to disagree, but it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it,” become an acceptable conversation topper? It isn’t true, it isn’t right, and it’s responsible for a lot of evil in the world. That’s my opinion. And if you disagree with me, you’re wrong. Period. So there.

Vote Dammit.

I have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18. That’s a lot of elections, and a LOT of disappointments. I have known all my life the system was rigged and broken and the only chance we had to fix it was to vote in people who were willing to change it.

I’ve preached about the importance of voting so often my friends who think it doesn’t matter get annoyed and edge away from me every time it comes up. (YOU WERE FOOLS AND NOW LOOK WHAT IT’S COME TO) Ahem. Sorry. Not helpful, but GD*#$#)$&^#@ it’s frustrating.

And this year…oof. This year I am feeling very gloomy about the outcome but still hoping I am wrong. We’ve got this one last chance to steer away from the precipice. Maybe. But by golly, whatever happens after the election, I’m gonna go down knowing I did everything I could to make a better future out of this mess I grew up in.

HAHAHA-OOOPS.

Last week started off more cheerful than it wrapped up, can you tell by the way the entries deteriorated into rants? SORRY. In writing news, things are going okay. I’m grinding through the end of the 3rd of 6 sections in Sharp Edge. I’ve hit a plot point that doesn’t want to polish up, but things will work out.

ANYway. It’s Monday night, so this is going out now. Until later!

Mental quirks again

Imma talk about another aspect of my brain’s Escher-esque architecture in this post. Today’s stray personal oddity: on top of being face-blind and conflating all context-related memories into one, I lack a tagging system for remembering readers.

Neurodivergence is FUN! Data storage? Plenty! Randomizer that shuffles data together? Top-notch! System for relating data points to origin? Non-standard. Long-term associative storage? Faulty.

Without regular, consistent replacement, memory connections between source & data fray, get impossibly tangled and snap.

This is not cool in many ways. Case in point: even if I know you well in real life (no, honestly, especially if) chances are excellent that I do not know if you’ve ever read any of my books or if you did, whether you liked them.

It isn’t a matter of what I want. I LOVE knowing people love my stories. It is pure happiness. I have given years of my life to my characters & their crises and conflicts, and knowing others also love them is a joy and an honor, and I am beyond thrilled whenever readers tell me what they like about my worlds. It is EXCITING. it is WONDERFUL. AFFIRMING. GLORIOUS.

But there’s a difference between that goodness and getting it to stick.

Seriously. You could tell me my books changed your life, creating a memory I would keep forever and use for encouragement during Bad Writing Times..but three hours/days/weeks/months down the line, my ability to associate that memory with a specific who will be lost.

A few special folks make a point to strengthen and refresh their book connections by reminding me of them–repeatedly and often–but that’s a gift I accept with gratitude, but an expectation. The default for everyone else is “not interested or read them and did not like them.”

This is a thing I felt was important to share with readers & friends– especially since those groups overlap–for two reasons.

1: Uncomfortable updates. If you’ve ever told me you were going to read one of my books? Please stop nervously waiting for me to ask about it. I won’t. Ever. Please stop reporting to me that you haven’t finished it, or got busy, or…whatever. Leave me ignorant. I’ve forgotten, and I loathe the idea of reading from a sense of obligation. Hearing you are forcing yourself to read my story despite thinking it’s too “meh” to make you stay up late finishing? That hurts. Skip it.

2: Accidental secretiveness. I put detailas onto social media in dribs and drabs as my self-confidence allows, but I rarely volunteer details about writing in real life. It’s hard to bait me into talking about my work, and I find ways to quickly change the subject when I realize I’ve wandered into those weeds.

Don’t I want to talk about my imaginary friends & villains & my clever plot ideas & plans for maybe-books? OHGAWDOFCOURSE. I’m dying to yammer on. Get me wound up, and keep asking me questions or pose hypotheticals and I could go on for hours. Blissfully.

But while I know some of my friends online & off have read my books, I don’t know which of you would rather be boiled alive than be subjected to discussion. And I am Not Good about social interactions in the first place.

Most questions containing the words “writing” or “book” fall into the same conversational heading as, “How are you?” People want a quick call-and-response social interaction, not an information dump. When the subject comes up, I will reach for a canned response from my polite-interaction playbook, not an armload of plot bunnies and funny character quirks from my series bible.

And because the questioner or other listeners might be someone who thinks my beloved fictional buddies are made of MEH, I’ll lob the conversational ball away ASAP.

I’m not reticent because I lack faith in my writing. I think it’s fabulous. I’m quiet because talking about it hits an unfortunate intersection of brain idiosyncrasies.

ANYway. If you ever wonder about the mechanics of T-series rampages, or how R-factor activation works, or you want to know all about Colonel Galloway’s backstory and why the hell Kris married a jerk like her ex-husband, or if you wish I would share what adventures I have in store for Serena & Justin & Felicity…hit me up.

I’m not snubbing you. I’m navigating social shit as best I can with uncooperative hardware. If you want to know the workarounds, they’re pretty simple:

  • ONLINE:
    • respond to work in progress updates with questions. Regularly. Eventually it starts to sink in.
    • comment on writing-related posts that you liked a book & why. (that second part is critical because a 2nd connection = 2x the sticking power )
    • All this assumes the social media platform cooperates by showing you posts, but the more we interact, the more likely that is.
  • IRL
    • drop book-related trivia on me, or ask questions
    • be persistent when I turn the conversation to something else. Deflection is a deeply-rutted habit.
  • BOTH
    • resign yourself to me still not remembering you’re a happy reader the next time
    • Maybe think of it as an easy way to give me a nice surprise

In other news: I’m about 55% of the way through the edits on Sharp Edge of Yesterday now, and while working speed will slow down again when I near the end where things need more polishing, it’s a blast to be racking up multiple chapters a day right now. GOOD TIMES.

That’s all until later!

The latest in thinks

I hear an author blog is s’posed to be an Authentic but Also Curated Internet Presence, topical, focused, even in tone and always showcasing the author’s brand.

I…uh…problem is, authentic me is a bit flaky on the outside, thick and juicy once I get going, sometimes salty, sometimes sweet, relentless and omnivorous in my research & reading interests but unfocused in same, opinionated and cranky. It’s impossible to tell whether I’ll feel like writing a until I dig into it. And some posts are both. Hm. I think my brand is “pie.”

2. True story: my brain is weird,

The weirdnesses run in my family, so because of that, I didn’t know I wasn’t “normal” until I went out & about in the world in my teens and later. Some examples:

From the time I could tell time & read, I was given a reading light, lots of books, and tacit permission to do whatever I wanted all night long as I stayed in my room and was quiet enough not to get caught. Quelle surprise to me that other people slept all night EVERY night, not just some nights.

It turns out most people’s parents did not read bedtime stories backwards as well as forwards. Or make games out of recognizing full words and phrase rather than alphabet letters. Or encourage little kids to memorize long passages of text. My dyslexic dad did all those things.

Things I learned from classmates: other people did not go outside and play (read: burn off energy running around) BEFORE doing homework. or again afterwards, after dinner, as a reward for sitting still. The concept of napping after a meal remains alien to me to this day.

I was taught from forever how to set up my personal spaces and daily routines to counteract an innate inability to find anything stored inside another thing. Dressers and desks are like magic disappearing devices. I have solid “put it where it goes” habits, EVERYTHING I OWN has a specific home, and all important items are stored in full view. Wall hooks, open shelves, and nothing layered inside shelves.

3. this week’s grouchy voting rant.

I do not care if you hate the system or hate Joe Biden because he’s a rapist or too moderate or too progressive OR you feel your vote doesn’t matter OR you want things to change some other way. I don’t care.

Look. I don’t do hyperbole here. I wrote a whole scifi series set in a United States that collapsed like a socio-political soufflé, deflating into death one crisis after another, and I did a LOT of research into trends and danger signs and what makes good countries go bad…

and I gotta say I am pretty pissed off to be watching it happen in real time. I keep hoping we will step back from the precipice, but we are already witnessing–and too many of us are enduring–civil warfare at the local & state level while our national leaders publicly flout the rule of law, gloat about it, and bring down the full force of those same laws on everyone they dislike, guilty or no. Oh, and then there’s the climate collapse & the virus disaster and-and-and UGH.

If you think not voting means you don’t have skin in the game, you are so, so very wrong. That isn’t how civics works. SOMEONE gets into every office. Not voting only guarantees that you’re stuck with someone else’s choice. And the fewer people who vote, the more likely an extremist will get in and do things you don’t like. At. Every. Level. This is how Home Owners Associations go bad. This is how bad people become mayors who give their buddies big pensions. This is how creeps voted up through the ranks into the Senate.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER/IT DOESN’T AFFECT ME” IS HOW WE GOT HERE, careening through history into a future I have really, really fought hard to prevent.

4. Once more thing.

Not to end on a brooding grouch, here’s a recipe for fresh pickling solution that works with a wide variety of veggies. I went to a lot of trouble to make sure if was reproducible using measuring tools I’ve been winging it for literal decades without any, basically doing it to taste to fit whatever size receptacle I had. The below proportions work.

  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1/2 c sugar or sweetener
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • dealers choice of aromatics. I like to slice in a yellow onion, maybe some fresh seeded jalapenos, a few peppercorns. Garlic clove & dill leaf or seed are a popular choices, but I don’t like it. YMMV, whatevs.

That’s it. Mix up until everything dissolvable has dissolved, then pour over sliced or small veggies in a container you can refrigerate. If you use plastic, be warned it will take on the scent of the vinegar & veggies inside.

And that is that all there is to read from me until later. Unless you want to go out & buy my books, insist all your friends buy them too so you can enthuse about them together, and then write reviews all over the internet. In which case, you have lots more fun ahead of you.

No? Okay, then. Until next blog!