Mental Health for the Holidays

I think November’s been tough on a lot of us, and December isn’t necessarily any easier. Personally, besides the obvious stressors, I’ve also had a truly hectic month at work and came down with two colds in quick succession. Seems like a good time to review self-care. So here are some reminders, for myself as much as for you all…

1. Take the time to do something you love.

I was lucky enough to attend not one but two contra (folk dance) weekends away from home in November. Lots of exercise, friends, wonderful live music, the state of flow, and a natural high, not to mention the excitement of a road trip. (Of course, that’s probably also where I picked up both of those colds. Argh.)

2. Do something creative. If you’re a creative professional (like a writer), do something else creative.

I’m a big believer in “creative cross-training”. We writers love to talk craft and work on improving our craft, which is important. But it’s also important to go and try something else — something that doesn’t have the same stakes and expectations attached. For me right now, it’s Instagram, contra dance, and occasionally tinkering in the kitchen.

3. Try something new.

At one of the aforementioned dance weekends, I got to try English Country Dancing (a cousin to contra) and swing dance, both new to me (swing dancing has footwork, ack, but the music is so much fun…). At the other, I got to try dancing … Continue reading

Clearing the Decks

My daughter has more than fifty stuffed animals. As far as I can recall, she has never willingly parted with a single one.

She’s eighteen and she has clothes that last fit her when she was twelve. You can’t tell her she’ll never wear them again–she is quite certain that she just needs to lose a little weight. Those clothes are absolutely not lost to her wardrobe forever.

Her room, as you might guess, is a bit of a mess.

Of course, I’m not innocent. I have nearly every notebook I ever wrote in. Every file of course, but also at least one printout of most of my stories. Some of the book-length manuscripts have multiple copies. And, of course, just about every book I ever loved.

I have a similar issue with furniture–especially handed-down furniture. I like it. I like possibilities. I hate to let go of something so useful (and expensive to replace!) as a decent piece of (free) furniture. I move desks around, change shelves, rearrange rooms, trying and trying to find the best configuration… For years, my entertainment center was a baker’s rack someone gave me. It worked! Ugly as hell, but it worked. It’s still ugly, but at least it’s in the kitchen now.

This past weekend I had a much needed clearing-out. As I argued with my kid about a box of stuffed animals she hasn’t opened since we carried it off the moving truck nearly three years ago, I told her, “You have … Continue reading

The Perils of Technology

Every year I do a post on thankfulness, but after the day I’ve had today, I’ve decided to do something a bit different.

I am a lover of technology. I got my first computer in 1998 (and that was late), a Compaq Presario laptop with a 13″ screen, 32MB of RAM, and a 2GB hard drive. $1,500. I did so much on that thing. Designed my first website (with the now-defunct Geocities — stop laughing), did a ton of digital photography using a very old version of Photoshop, wrote countless poems, and more. I loved that little laptop and believe it or not, I could turn it on today and it would still run (but not go online, obviously). It was my first leap into the computing world, and it opened up so much more for me. Those were the days.

I’ve had 10 computers since. I went to desktops for a bit, then decided they were too bulky and took up too much space, so I switched back to laptops. I had the fun experience of Windows ME. I spent $1,700 on a Toshiba laptop with a special graphics card and 1GB of RAM (which was a lot back in 2006) for gaming purposes (now? I can’t even run it. Sad). My computer prior to the one I’m using now had a monitor failure 2 years in that completely sucked patootie. And this one had a fan malfunction and was gone for 11 days and I nearly went nuts … Continue reading

New Release: To Rule the Stars

To Rule the Stars coverNew Release! To Rule the Stars: A Space Princess Anthology, by us!

In it, three of us wrote stories around the theme of space princesses. We thought it’d be fun to put princesses into space, and we ended up with a really great selection of stories.

Here is the official blurb:

Meet the princesses.

A trained diplomat, kidnapped by an alien race desperate for justice, and its dashing leader…

A political pawn, on her way to meet her betrothed, who stops in the asteroid belt to answer a call for help, and finds a princess both beautiful and brave…

A captive raised to believe that the greatest evil is magic, when it–and the handsome ship’s engineer who wields it–are the one thing that might save her…

For this week only it is on sale for 99c! Then the price will go up to $1.99. Grab the Kindle edition here.

(No princesses were harmed during the making of this anthology.)

This anthology also includes a sneak peek of Ever Touched, our May 2017 release, third book in my Fey Touched series.

All proceeds go to UNICEF, as always.

Just Keep Swimming

When Siri reminded me that it was my turn to blog today, my immediate thought was, Awww, I don’t want to do that!

I, like many people, am not in a good place today, and the thought of pulling out something reasonable just seems like too much. I make it a point to not be political on the Internet, so today has been hard, and I’d actually told myself I was just going to not touch the Internet at all.

But alas, responsibility, so here we are.

It’s easy to assume the worst, but we don’t know what’s coming in the days ahead. Worrying about it is unproductive. We just have to trust ourselves to do what is right when the time comes, and hope that others do as well.

(I mean, that might be a bad hope, seeing the situation we find ourselves in, but what else can you do?)

My coping mechanism for the day is just to keep busy. There’s a ton of things I need to work on, not least of which is finishing up the final touches on To Rule the Stars, which will be out next Tuesday the 15th. If you haven’t seen our awesome cover, take a look at Siri’s post from last week.

I’ve also got to do the business end of the aftermath of our weekend at MileHiCon. Alas, taxes and whatnot. I probably should also do some related networking, decide on our plans for next year, and look at … Continue reading

The Makings of a Princess Story

Hello, Turtleducklings!

Today I am super excited because I get to unveil…

THIS!

To Rule the Stars cover image

 

What is it, you ask? It’s our next release, an anthology of longish short stories by three Turtleduck Press authors, plus a sneak peek at our next novel. (Never fear, KD Sarge—our fourth author—hasn’t gone anywhere. Look for her next piece right here on December 1!)

And yes, each story features outer space. And at least one princess.

To be honest, I had a lot of trouble with mine. I didn’t want to go the route of Star Wars, with a grand space opera, since I only had the length of a novelette to work with. Next I ran through some classic Star Trek rip-off ideas and abandoned those as well.

But then what? How to reasonably put a princess in a space setting and give her an adventure…oh yes, and a romance?

Luckily, I already had a space setting—the steampunk ‘verse featured in The Haunting of Heatherbrae Station. It’s based on an alternate nineteenth century where a powerful source of energy, called ether, enabled humans to invent space travel more than a century early. Lots of fun…but I still wasn’t sure how to use … Continue reading

Perils of an Echo Chamber (Not Actually About the Election)

So in case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 12-18 months, I’ll explain that here in the US, we’re coming to the end of a long, painful election process. (Not that the US is the center of the universe, but I do know people are watching. I’ve heard opinions on the candidates from friends around the world, thus the hiding under a rock assumption.)

As far as I’m aware, all my friends hold the same strong opinion as I do on which candidate will make a better president. Everyone in my Twitter feed, everyone whose blog I follow on Tumblr–we’re all agreed.

But obviously someone out there thinks the other nominee is a better option. That’s how one becomes the nominee, after all–people vote. Lots of people voted for the other candidate to be nominated, and a whole lot of someones are planning to vote for that other candidate in the general election, according to the polls that have me checking in several times a day. (Just after typing that, in fact, I ran off to fivethirtyeight.com to check in.)

Only one of those other-candidate voter-someones wanders through my Facebook timeline sometimes. That one person is family. If we were not related through my daughter, we never would have met, let alone become Facebook friends.

echo chamber: any forum for communication in which all members agree with everyone else. See also preach to the choir. ~online slang dictionary

In some ways, social media being an … Continue reading

10 Reasons Why I Have the Best Husband in the World — Possibly the Whole Universe

Today is my husband’s birthday, so I thought I’d put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) and tell you 10 reasons why I have the very best hubby in the world. Of course, I’m biased, but let me know what you think after reading this! We’ve been together for 10 years (one reason for every year!) and married for seven. And loving him — and being loved by him — has completely changed my life, and for the better.

#1 He is always there for me. Always — after a crappy day at work, when I feel lousy, when bad things happen, when my health sucks, when I need a hug…Always. He has never, ever ever let me down. He has unending patience and kind words to say no matter what’s going on. Especially when it comes to my health. I don’t have the best health, and sometimes I feel just plain crappy, or I’m in pain. He’s always there. I have a stomachache, he’s there with Vernors. I injured my knee recently and he offered to spread Biofreeze on it, even though I could do it myself — that’s just the guy he is. He puts my oatmeal out in a bowl in the morning so I don’t have to run downstairs to get it. In the fall, he’ll surprise me with hot chocolate, because he knows I love it. He’s gotten me to wherever I needed to go without complaint (I don’t drive). I need my meds picked up, we’re there. … Continue reading

We’re Going to MileHiCon!

Howdy, Turtleduck friends! It’s my birthday! ::twirls around a little flag::

But beyond that, I’m pleased to announce that if you are in the Colorado or generally Colorado area, you can come and see me at MileHiCon the last weekend of October. I shall be there with the full complement of Turtleduck titles, including new ones such as City of Hope and Ruin, and I will also have bookmarks for our anthology coming out mid-November, which is titled To Rule the Stars.

(It’s awesome.)

I’m excited for the convention! I learned a lot at the first one we did two years ago, and I’ve got some new displays and stuff that I’m itching to try out. Plus it’s always fun to network with other authors and publishers and see all the neat stuff that goes on at the con.

(Here’s a funny story, though. If you buy a three-day pass in advance, it’s $44, but there’s a $3 service fee. If you wait until the door, it’s only $46. Someone did not think this through.)

I put in my name to be put on panels if there’s a need, so there’s a chance that I could do some of that. That will be a new–and nervewracking–experience. Still, I’ve seen some really terrible panelists at various times (ones who had no clue about the topic at hand, or who were too busy revisiting things with their friends to bother to pay attention), so I will probably not be the worst.

Ah, … Continue reading

Mental Health Breaks and Mini-Staycations

Have you ever come back from a vacation and immediately felt like you needed another one? Or has it been a while since you’ve had one?

If you’re anything like me, you fall into habit during your non-vacationing life. Maybe you have a favourite coffee shop, or a park or a restaurant you love. Returning over and over again to places you enjoy is comforting, for sure. I do it a lot. But don’t underestimate the power of novelty for R&R.

Last weekend was my wedding anniversary. We took the opportunity to go on a mini-staycation, just the two of us. It was a lot of fun, and it wasn’t particularly expensive. We had dinner at a new-to-us steakhouse chain, went home instead of staying at a hotel, then the next morning, ventured into a trendy neighbourhood we don’t usually frequent, and wandered down the street and picked a restaurant for brunch at random (why yes, we are slightly addicted to Yelp, why do you ask?). Good choice, too – they had delicious house-smoked bacon!

That particular street was full of fancy/trendy furniture stores, so we poked around a few and drooled at all the gorgeous reclaimed wood and designer tables. We’re not even in the market for new furniture, and a lot of what we saw wouldn’t fit in our tiny rooms anyway (giant harvest table? uh, no), but window-shopping was fun! On our way back we picked up some bright yellow potted chrysanthemums to decorate our front steps … Continue reading