Inside My Head 30.9.2018

  • This week’s annoying lesson in medical stuff: elbow splints are all one size fits none. (I need night braces that keep me from tucking in my arms and making my sore elbows worse.) Never fear, crafting supplies & Amazon to the rescue! The DIY-adapted splints are already helping, and I now have stabilizing exercises to do too.

 

  • Nothing attracts a cat more than dirty laundry…except clean laundry.

 

  • Another component in my love of autumn: it’s the trickster season. Not only Halloween, but fall in general. Expected a nice day when you left for work on a sunny, sticky hot morning? HAHAHANOPE. Big, muscular clouds roll in like linebackers, and it’s hot cider weather by dinner hour. (YAY, CIDER!) Days of gloom and wet chill resign you to winter’s arrival, and then HAHAHA you wake to endless deep blue skies, trees dressed in party clothes, and air as warm and soft as a towel fresh from the dryer. I love me the antics of the trickster gods, so of course I adore fall.

 

  • I just realized I compulsively check the news every few hours to find out what fresh hellspawn has been hatched by my own government. In one of my writing worlds I’ve been looking forward in time toward a post-chaos future for 30 years now, and that makes reality a very weird place to be living in today.

 

  • What’s up with ridiculous corporate name changes? I haven’t seen this many questionable “re-branding” ideas since the heyday of the early 90’s. Weight Watchers, Papa John’s,  Dunkin Donuts…I swear, it seems like decisionmakers are being pranked bigtime by their marketing teams.

 

  • The latest in fun internet searches:
    • potato chip packaging
    • thermoplastic shaping elbow armor cosplay
    • lyrics purple people eater
    • octopus seal kayak video
    • marching band helmets
    • rank US cities metro population

 

  • An phrase I saw keeps popping into my brain: “TOXIC POSITIVITY.
    Yes, it’s toxic. It’s a villain’s most effective tool. Dolores Umbridge was all about positivity. ANYway. Turns out, “positive attitude” management is worse than ineffective. It damages morale (oh, the irony) stifles creativity & leads to rebellion and/or employee flight. Cites? Nope. This is my personal blog. The internet is right there. Search for yourself.

 

  • Because I was back on campus for an alumni event this weekends, I was thinking recently of all the creepy times in college when people told me in hushed, sentimental tones, “Your years here are the best in your life, and the memories will stay with you forever. Don’t waste a single minute.” I know it was meant as encouragement, but it always felt more like an threat. The idea of life being all downhill after college still appalls me. It hasn’t been true, either.  They were formative years, certainly, and I do remember them well, but  rosy nostalgia just isn’t my gig. And the most important year in my life is always next year.

 

  • It must be fall. I’m moving furniture. Carefully, because elbows, but I’m moving it. I didn’t move anything around last year, so this year the living room and my writing den are getting rearranged.  Maybe this year will be the one when I finally buy plant lights and a stand for my herbs & things. No promises.

 

  • This weekend marked a major life shift. When people ask what I do, I said, “I’m an author. I write science fiction and fantasy.” So, there’s that to celebrate. I even had a card in my wallet. Small steps, but BIG small steps, ya know?  I didn’t make much progress on the WIP while I was away, but I did keep my hand in, and I’m not going to kick myself for taking a rest day today. I needed the decompression after four days of Major Social time. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. So I’m dealing.

 

  • And that’s a wrap.

 

Listing my life again

What have I been doing? Writing, mostly. Now that the butterfly season & convention season are over, I’m back on a regular schedule. I’m chewing through my latest project faster than I expected ( I’m still gonna miss my self-imposed deadline, tho. Oh, well.)

And I do take time off to do Other Things. Here be the most recent Doings:

BOOKS.

Long list this time around. For some reason I read faster when I’m writing more. Restricted access to social media also helps.

  • Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley Space Opera. Organic ships & kickass protagonist.
  • Rights Of Use, Shannon Eichorn Space Opera. Aliens. Awesomeness.
  • Freelance Familiars, Daniel Potter Fantasy. Sorta portal, urban-feeling, all fun. CATS.
  • Eden’s Outcast, Kuta Marler. Urban Fantasy. Fun world & fabulous characters.
  • Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal. Science-fiction. Full of humanity. MADE ME CRY.
  • Poppy War,  R. F Kuang Fantasy. Epic world-building, phenomenal mythology.
  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik  Fantasy with fairy tale roots. Deep & delicious.
  • Fluency,  Jennifer Foehner Wells Space Opera. Linguistics. <swoon!>
  • Sere From the Green, Lauren Jankowski: Urban fantasy. Werewolves. Wonderful richness.

I enjoyed every last one of these books immensely,  in totally different ways, and I am working through reviewing them on Amazon & Goodreads. (Amazon gets squirrely and starts refusing to post reviews when I do more than 3 at a time. I should have the last few done later this week.)

VIEWING ETC

I’ve re-watched a buncha movies: Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War I, Lilo&Stitch, Spiderman: Homecoming, Moana… I think I’m in the mood for brain fluff.

That’s about it. I haven’t been watching much TV. Most of the series I’ve been following are between seasons, jumped a whole school of sharks, or have been cancelled. (Law & Order reruns do not count. They’re background noise to fall asleep watching.)

I’ll be asking for viewing recommendations in a month or so. Hibernation season is coming.

There’s new music in my life for the first time in forever. I have a new writing-time soundtrack: Hamilton. I didn’t expect to like it. I am not a big Broadway fan because the voices & songs all sound alike to me. This one? THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT. And excellent. And fabulous.

Kitchen & Garden

September is my favorite month in the garden. I have tomatoes in the freezer to turn into sauce soon, and lots of super-hot little peppers. As soon as we get a cool, damp day, I’ll start transplanting the super-tall mystery plants (some kind of prairie sunflower)  into the back of the garden and hack off the seed pods of my ever-enthusiastic senna plants.

Baking season is nearly upon us.  I am stocking up on essentials as they go on sale. The big excitement is that I get to indulge in guilt-free baking all through October. My department will be sharing space with two others next month while renovations happen, so I will have three times the usual audience. (The guilt comes from being I’m told over and over, “I shouldn’t be eating these,” / “Oh, no, I’m going to gain so much weight,” / “Oh. You baked again?” Yeah.)

So, anyway, new people to feed, yay!

And autumn is also apple season. Spouseman & I are car-pooling with some friends to take our first orchard trek of the year tomorrow. Cheese, fruit & goodies, here we come.

Yes, the pictures I tack onto my posts are sometimes reruns and mostly random. I love grouchy cats, I will not lie.

 

What I did while I wasn’t gone

I took myself on a writing retreat last weekend. It was mostly a mental trick to take advantage of physical preparations for travel to a convention I ended up not attending.

Since I had planned and prepped be away from home for a four-day weekend, I figured that meant wasn’t responsible for anything at home those fourdays. I could ignore my whole Regular Life guilt-free and wander off to my computer any time the urge hit.

I finished a short story I’ve been tinkering with for over two years and published it for my email list subscribers (I also set up that process from scratch, a post in its own right.)

I also made headway on a second short story and wrote about 5000 words in Ghost Town, my current novel in progress. I write slower than a Galapagos turtle walks, which is why I rarely post word counts (and loathe them as motivational tool)  For reference, that’s about a usual month’s worth of writing. In 4 days. Yeah. So mental writing retreat as a working trick…definitely helped. I plan to do it again. Sometime.

But writing isn’t all I did. This is a media consumption post too, so here’s what I took in.

Throne of Glass series. Sarah A Maas. Finished all the books currently published (yay!) now have to wait until at least October to read the one that’ll wrap up the current series. (BOO!)  There’s a lot I could say about her books, but I said most of it in a previous post. One thing to add: the things that bugged me in A Court of Thorns & Roses series are less overt in this one. No idea which came first, don’t care, just liking them more.

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach. Kelly Robson. SWOON. So good. Go read it now. It’s a short book, (novella) but it will stick with you in the best of ways. I inhaled it over two meal breaks and a walk.

Yes, I read on walks. I was tripping off curbs and veering towards lamp posts long before it was trendy with Pokemon Go. Don’t worry, I’ve never run into anything, and I always pause at roadways to watch for traffic. But I digress. As usual.

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach reminds me of Connie Willis & Kate Wilhelm ( two of my SFF favorites) at their very best. Not because it had time travel, although it does, nor because of the science, which it is ALL ABOUT,  but because of the way both those elements were presented: brilliantly, elegantly, and enjoyably.

Time travel was an essential element but not a pitfall of paradox or an excuse to wander into theoretical physics for far longer than the narrative could bear (Woo!) Science was at the center of the plot without ever stampeding over the characters or dragging the story into a slough of exposition, (WOO!!!) Plot & characters were also amazing.

Basically, if you want fresh, new classic-style SFF relevant to and written for today’s world, this is it.

A Divided Peace. Tanya Huff. Happy sigh. Always a joy to read her words.  Aaaaand now I have to go back and re-read all the Confederation novels. If I could write military science fiction a tenth as well as she does, I would do a whole novel about Mercury Battalion. But I don’t have the chops for making the Corps a realistic centerpiece. Maybe if someone with experience wanted to co-author…yeah, I would totally be up for that that.

ANYWAY. Onward.

In the viewing circle, I watched a fun season of superhero television show, Black Lightning, and a serious movie about a real world hero. Marshall. (it’s a biopic-style movie  about one of Thurgood Marshall’s early cases.)  

I enjoyed the drama of the movie, but it seemed bizarre to me that the titular character, an AMAZING human being who was part of so much civil rights history–who MADE so much history, was not even the narrative center of his own movie. (A white guy was.)  I am not surprised that was the angle Hollywood took, just angry and aggravated. They could have done so much better.

But I’m loving Black Lightning, so I’m batting over .500 in viewing satisfaction.

Still haven’t seen Deadpool 2 or Ocean’s 8, but they’re on my list. And Jurassic Park Episode whatEVER is next up in Major Hollywood Kaboom Movies.

So until then, it’s back to writing-writing-writing.