Soundtracks of My Life

Have you ever thought about if your life was set to music, what would that music be? Or if your life had a theme song?

I feel kinda unhinged talking about it, but things for me personally have been a bit weird lately, and I got thinking about it today. What songs would I choose and why?

Theme song: War of Change by Thousand Foot Krutch. My Google-fu says this band is a Christian band, but you wouldn’t know it. They’re hard rock, and this song impressed me so much that I went and bought the entire album. These lyrics specifically speak to me:

Wait, it’s just about break/ it’s more than I can take/ everything’s about to change
I feel it in my veins / it’s not going away / everything’s about to change

(I love this video because of all the b&w. But I’m not sure what they’re doing with all the dust and light bulbs.)

Adam Lambert’s “Ghost Town” deserves a mention. He’s said that the meaning behind the song (for him, at least) is “Life sucks. Let’s dance!” and if you watch the video, there’s a ton of dancing. (I love all things dance). And kudos to him for more b&w!

This next one has a special place in my heart. It’s from Queensryche’s first album with their new singer, Todd La Torre, and probably my favorite song off it. It’s called “In This Light.” (This is a live video, as there is …

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I Miss My Kitchen

Oh, friends. I have no kitchen. I have not had one for slightly over a month, and it is terrible.

(I am also aware that this is such a first world problem. I have had to wash the dishes BY HAND OH NO)

(But seriously, I hate doing the dishes even under ideal circumstances so this has been hell.)

We live in an early ’80s house, which is an interesting period architecturally in that it lacks the vintage chicness of older houses and the mod openness of newer houses. Also, sometimes they put carpet in bathrooms, because that makes logical sense somehow.

In an attempt to improve Feng shui or whatever, the previous owners of the house essentially removed all the cabinets from the kitchen. I mean, they were hideous; we saw another house of the same floorplan that had left them in. They stretched the entire length of the kitchen, leaving a weird foot-and-a-half gap between cabinet and counter where you could kind of see into the family room.

So removing the cabinets was a definite improvement, Feng shui wise. From a functional kitchen standpoint, it was less than ideal. So, for six years, we have had a single cabinet to store all our dishes, and apparently this was slowly driving my husband mad.

And now this madness has resulted in the complete redoing of the kitchen. And I do mean complete. We tore out the floor. The walls. The ridiculous drop ceiling. The wiring. The lights. The plumbing. …

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Beating Writer’s Block…Again

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m prone to long periods of not writing fiction. These tend to be accompanied by self-flagellation and an existential crisis: if I’m not writing, who am I? Then comes depression (or sometimes that happens first), which makes it even harder to write, and round and round I go.

The only way to break the cycle is to start putting down some words.

This, obviously, is easier said than done. It’s intimidating, especially if you’ve been away from the blank page for a while.

In the past I’ve tried fanfiction, though it’s not normally my thing, or played around with a completely different genre–not to try selling, just to play with. This time, since the beginning of the year, I’ve gone through several different stages. It’s working, so I thought I’d share…

1. First I resurrected my own blog. It’s not fiction, and doesn’t completely fill a need for me in the way writing fiction does. But I do blog with an audience in mind, and putting together coherent opinion pieces or travel posts is good practice in writing down the words, finishing a piece, and shipping.

2. Then I branched out from non-fiction and started writing the smallest possible thing every day. On some days, they were fragments of stories that didn’t and probably won’t go any further, but mostly they were haikus. I’m not trying to become a published poet, so I was writing …

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For the Feral Children

Two weeks ago it was National Library Week. Coincidentally, I was listening to Neil Gaiman’s “The View from the Cheap Seats” including a speech he gave to librarians.

Neil Gaiman describes himself as a “feral child who was raised in libraries.”* Though I was not lucky enough to get to the library very often as a child, the concept resonates with me. Especially since he also read and loved the Three Investigators series…

My first library, the Franklin Public Library, sounds much like his first favorite library—a large Victorian mansion, the entire first floor full of books. I don’t know about his, but mine was built in 1849, renovated in 1921 to house the library…

Red brick Victorian mansion three stories with multiple chimneys and green shutters

I remember my library card was blue. It had a tiny metal strip in it. My mother’s library card was brown. It meant she could get more books than I could, and from more than just the children’s section.

My mother always had to get some children’s books on her card, as the limit on my blue card was cruelly low.

Walking in the front door of the library, you had to go up three or four steps to get to the library floor. There were also stairs heading down. And a turn of steps going higher in the building. I never went up, but I just knew that wonders lay there. My mother said meeting …

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Revisiting Voice Recognition

As I prepare for Ever Touched’s release and what comes after (hint: a lot!), I’m pondering using voice recognition software to write again.

(Some of Ever Touched was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking when I found myself with a severe tendonitis flare up and no time to take off.)

I’m no stranger to Dragon. I started using it back in 2003 (version 6) when I thought I had carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomics wasn’t much of a thing back then; I wrote until my wrists damn near fell off. Oops? And it worked well — after I got past the whole “talk to write” idea and got into a groove. My intention was to do it all the time, but between the bulky headset that gave me headaches and a longing to just type, I ended up quitting, only using it when absolutely necessary. Which is fine…if I didn’t want to get more books out there which means faster drafting. Fast drafting (say, more than 1,000 words a day) is impossible due to my wrists. I barely finished my amended Nano goal in 2015 (30k) because typing 1,000 words a day for 30 days was hurting me (it’s cumulative).

(For the curious: I didn’t have carpal tunnel, just severe tendonitis that could turn into carpal tunnel. It was a wake up call. And I’m up to Dragon version 13 now. Every version gets better. They claim now it is something like 96% accurate without training.)

I’ve despaired forever over this. And I …

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Re-centering With Consistency

So, over at my blog, I’ve been doing some nonfiction series with the thought that the posts will be expanded into a series of books. (Well, actually, I plotted out the books two years ago–writing them has been another story, of course.) The most recent series has been about using consistency to build a writing habit, and, oddly enough, writing the series has done a huge amount to remind me how things are supposed to go.

So it’s been helpful for everyone! Yay me.

I think it’s easy to let your good habits falter without realizing you’re doing so. I think this can be especially true for writers because every step of the process and even every story works a bit differently, so it’s not a steady habit like “work out first thing when I get up” or “drink a glass of water with every meal.”

When I planned my series, I picked topics I felt I understood, that I felt I could help people with, so writing the consistency section has been an eye-opener, because despite my best intentions, I’ve let my consistency go lately as well.

So it’s been an exercise in practice what you preach. I’ve set myself some triggers (i.e., actions that symbolize it’s time to write) and have picked a daily time (first thing in the morning, getting up a little earlier) and it’s working really well for me. I’m finally making the progress that had been eluding me the past few months.

And I …

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Half-Baked Opinions on the 2017 Hugo Award Nominees

Hey, guess what? The Hugo nominees are out!

The what, you say? The Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious awards for science fiction and fantasy authors. They’re voted on yearly by several thousand people–not industry insiders, exactly, but a mix of professionals and fans who have bought memberships to a Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention). That means they can be, and have been, hijacked by small groups acting in bad faith.

There’s lots more background–google “Hugo Awards controversy”–but I won’t dwell on it here.

As an author and fan, what do I think of the nominations? Here’s where I admit that my reading is too far behind for me to have an informed opinion. I usually read one or more of the nominated novels…but not until a year, or several years, later. That won’t stop me from having an uninformed opinion on a couple of the categories, though (and I’d love to hear yours!)…

Of the Best Novel nominees, it’s interesting that 3 out of 6 are later books in series–I wonder how that will affect their chances. I’ve read one of the earlier books in those series (The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu), which blew me away. (I wasn’t the only one: it won the Hugo two years ago.) They’re also a good mix of subgenres: the Liu novel, Death’s End, is hard SF; Anders pits magic and science against each other; Chambers is writing small-band-of-misfits space opera; Lee’s novel is a very different …

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Editing a Book is Like Buying a House, or: Being a Grown-Up is Terrifying and Exhilarating

I’m forty-seven years old. I’ve had bunches of jobs. More than a dozen, just counting employers and not different positions, or jobs I’ve quit and come back to. I’ve owned eleven cars, and rented fifteen apartments/houses/condos. I’m a mom, a widow, an author, and an occasional college student.

You’d think I could get over the “this is scary holy cats!” carp by now.

And as I type this, no joke, “Eye of the Tiger” starts playing.

I’m working on buying a house. It is, astonishingly, like editing a book. Which, coincidentally enough, I am also doing right now.

What are these similarities?

There’s so much to consider.
  • Two out of three in my household take the bus to work/school. We thought several houses would be in the running because they were close to a bus route that wonderfully runs clear across town, starting near kid’s school then passing near housemate’s place of work. Then we saw that the earliest bus going west (the necessary direction) on that route would not get her to work until an hour after her start time. Suddenly a lot of houses on the east side are out of consideration. Houses on the west end may still work out. Except the kid’s school is on the far east side of town…and on, and on.
  • I’m editing the second book in a trilogy. What did Hiro say about the Watchstones in the first book? Did he know what he was talking about when he said it, …

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Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die

Okay, get ready. I will be talking about Adam Lambert again.

Well, sorta. Today has been a rough day for me emotionally. Won’t get into it…most of it is just life crap, and the fact that I have a migraine, and I’ve been exhausted. Anyway…I’ve been listening to Adam’s “The Original High” and my favorite song, “The Light” came on. I think I’ve mentioned that it’s my favorite before, but if I haven’t, there you go (I actually love almost every single song on that album, so picking a favorite is really, really hard). So anyway, the line “I’m too weird to live, too rare to die” struck me for a second (and I do know it’s from Panic! At the Disco). Actually, literally took my breath away. I’ve heard it before and have actually thought about it (hell, maybe having it tattooed on myself somewhere!) but in the context of today…I dunno, it grabbed me.

Let me explain.

I’ve never, ever been the sort of person to blindly follow people, or things,, or trends. People are pinch-rolling their jeans because that’s the latest cool thing to do (’80s kids, remember that)? No, no. I rebelled that one so badly, my mom thought I was nuts. Long hair is no longer in? Pffft. I grew it past my waist for most of my life. Get married, pop out kids? Nope. Not me. I am not a kid person, and my health sucks. So no kids for me (and I am …

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Back to the Grind

Well, my musical is over. We closed on Sunday. It was generally a good experience (there were some logistical issues not directly related to the show that I shall not bore you with) and the show went well and was well received.

And I did learn my sign language “solo”–in case you were wondering–and only sort of messed it up one night but not bad enough that I think anyone other than me would have noticed.

And now the whole thing’s over. (Aside from the fact that I keep singing the songs because they’re literally all I’ve listened to in weeks and now are eternally stuck in my head.) And yet…I don’t miss it.

When I used to do theater back in high school, the closing of a show was the worst. We’d have an overnight cast party, and everyone would stagger off, back to normality, and it was terrible. I was also so bereft when yet another show ended, when I didn’t have rehearsal to look forward to, when it was weeks before we’d start the next one.

And I thought I’d feel that again. It’s like finishing a novel draft. You put so much into something, and then, suddenly, it’s gone, and all that energy has nowhere to go, and for a while it feels like you have no purpose anymore.

But I don’t feel that. I don’t feel that at all. I had a good time, sure, and I put a lot of time and effort into …

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