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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Fourteen Years, In Memoriam

The other night I dreamed that my dad was taking one of my siblings and me for a drive on the West Coast (British Columbia, for you non-Canadians). The timing was contemporary, for we had modern cell phones and we felt like our current adult selves, in that way you know things in dreams.

I didn’t remember until an instant after I woke up that my dad has been dead since 2003.

I don’t think about him often anymore, except right around this time of year. He died in March, late in a bitterly cold prairie winter. The day he was buried, there was a thaw and, finally, everything began to melt. Ever since then, I’ve found late winter difficult to bear. Some years are harder than others; this one has been easier so far, probably because it’s been so unseasonably warm here. Bittersweet for sure.

He feels now like part of another life, one I don’t remember as well as I would wish to. He did get to meet the man who would later become my husband. For that I will always be grateful. But since his death, the two of us have moved across the country, joined or made new communities, established our careers, bought a house, assumed adult responsibilities within our families, traveled to seven countries (eight as you’re reading this!). He didn’t live to see Turtleduck Press or all the writing I’ve done here, or to hold my first novel in his hands. And my two …

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Where the Rubber Meets the Road

There comes a time…

When one has read all the books one usefully can, gathering information that mostly won’t be used.

When one has made and consumed an unreasonable number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other forms of comfort food.

When one has cleaned the desk, cleared the decks, and even tidied up their browser bookmarks, but is finally stopped in procrastination, daunted in the face of fixing all the Tumblr tags.

When one has collected the maps and timelines, hammered out the myths and legends, and nicknamed all the gods. Gathered up the highlighters and the colored pens and the post-its and the sticky flags.

When one has picked the brains of any and all acquaintances who might be of assistance, luring them near with promises of baked goods and pestering them with vague explanations of half-imagined magic rules to try out options.

When one has spent entirely too much time staring at the manuscript before one, before wandering off to make one more PB&J and ponder the makeup and properties of the human soul over a glass of milk.

When one has done all these things, but especially the devouring of the PB&Js, there comes a time when one must dive in or give up. When procrastination runs headfirst into “There’s no time!” and one must either take the leap, or let the leap take them. (what does that mean? I don’t even know.)

Friends, I am at that point. The pressure is high, the expectations …

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My Rekindled Obsession: Guild Wars

If you’re not familiar with Guild Wars, it’s a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) similar to World of Warcraft. What’s nice is that there’s no monthy subscription to play, and once you purchase one campaign, you’re good forever.

Backing up a bit…up till I discovered GW, I had never been a gamer, unless you count Solitaire on the PC. Sometimes Minesweeper, but that one was a tough one. I did play Atari back in the day, though. Does that count?

Anyhoo, 11 years ago (!), I discovered an ex-boyfriend from high school on MySpace and we started talking and he told me about GW. I was kinda intrigued, but really didn’t think it was my cup of tea, but I let him show me stuff. And…I liked it. And….I was hooked. The graphics are so amazing. You can create a character the way you want to (my first character actually was thrown together in my haste to get to the meat of things but I still love her). You choose a profession out of six (well, at least with the Prophecies campaign, which I started with): Warrior, Monk, Ranger, Necromancer, Mesmer, Elementalist). Can you guess what my first character’s profession was?

….

If you guessed anything but Necromancer, you have not be paying attention. 😉

So you go through these quests to “learn” your profession. Then you get to select a second profession! So it’s really cool.

So you get all these kick-butt skills. You do quests, and missions. …

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Out of my Comfort Zone

Back when I was in high school, I loved participating in theater at my school. This seems like a weird fit because a) I am an introvert and b) I hate being the center of attention, but there you are anyway. I did 11 out of 12 plays my school did while I was there, 4 as tech, 7 as an actor, 2 as student director, and 1 where I actually set up all the tech cues, the order of the play (it was a bunch of skits), scene changes, etc., because our director/teacher was busy with something else at the time. I also spent two years in our children’s theater program (which counted as English and I hated English) (yes, I know how ironic that is coming from someone who writes/edits for a living) and sang in two different choirs.

In college, I originally went in planning to double major in theater and engineering, but after I ran into some unfair biases my freshman year (I got a lower grade than I deserved due to not being a theater major–actually verified against other classmates who were theater majors), I dropped that idea. (Also, engineering is hard and sometimes you’re up at 4 am in the computer lab writing a report about ants on a hotplate.)

And that was that. There’s not a lot of theater opportunities as an adult if you don’t have college experience or a degree. And what few opportunities there are, there’s a lot of competition …

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The “You Can’t Do It” Voices

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

I have a brain that persists in telling me that I am Doing It Wrong and that Everyone Else Is More Capable Than You and also that This Is Hard and You Can’t Do It, Ha Ha. What is “This”? Sometimes it’s writing. Sometimes it’s my day job. Sometimes it’s adulting.

I would just like to register, for the record, some recent evidence to the contrary. Since I’ve blogged before about how the brain-voices relate to writing, this time I’ll focus on other parts of Life.

Exhibit 1: The Day Job

I’ve held the same job for nearly 12 years. Parts of it I’m really good at. Other parts still make me flail around. But on the whole, my You Can’t Do It voices have learned to be quiet more often than not. Then, last fall, my boss asked me to train with a co-worker who was retiring, so I could hold down the fort until she could be replaced. Her position doesn’t have much overlap with mine; I don’t really have the background for the job. To make things trickier, I still needed to do my regular job too (luckily we were able to shift around some of the workload and responsibilities). Cue the voices, loud and clear. But saying no wasn’t an option. I said yes.

So far, I haven’t made any horrible mistakes that cost lots of money. I’ve kept things going, mostly. It’s been a scramble sometimes, …

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10 Thoughts From a Sleep-Deprived Writer’s Brain

Yeah, so I’ve had a bout of insomnia for the past few months. Usually, I snap out of it within a few days, but I’ve had some other things working in the background and it’s been BAD. I’ve tried everything and no luck. It is so bad that I am not even sure what day it is. I think it’s Tuesday. Is it Tuesday? Crap, I hope it’s Tuesday.

I am constantly asking myself what day it is.

According to my research, you cannot “cure” sleep deprivation or “catch up” on sleep. What’s lost is lost. Which really sucks. So this may be a bit of a disjointed, weird list. Just roll with it, k?

So, on to the thoughts!

1) I did dream last night, so I must have slept a bit at least. Something about me drawing my own book covers, and showing them off. In the dream, they were in crayon. Yes. Oops. (I assure you, Ever Touched’s cover will NOT be in crayon. Promise.) What on earth would lead me to dream that? I’ve got the cover figured out. I just need to, yanno, do it. (In between editing projects). Thinking about lining up all those sci-fi doodads is already making me tired. Yawn…..

2) My typing accuracy is for shit right now. I either hit the wrong letters, or skip them altogether, or smoosh whole words together. I like that word: “smoosh.” I want to smoosh something now, just because I, in my sleep-deprived addled …

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