Quote of the Moment:

Quote of the Moment: Who said this, and why? "I'm coming to realize EVERYONE can eat me."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

9 Things to be Grateful For

1. Winter

The approach of winter. A big “whew” from the earth, grateful to complete another cycle of growth and death. A year, and a job, well done. Now the earth and many of its denizens can relax, get that recuperative sleep before everybody wakes up to the busy frenzy of spring. And during this slowdown, I (and my back) are personally grateful for less yardwork. Instead, I get to watch the summer birds leave and the winter birds arrive, gobbling and gossiping and battling, happily doing their bird-thing. We all get to take deep breaths together, and are grateful for the opportunity. 

2. Volunteer

That you are never too old to volunteer. Help a child. Help an adult learn how to read. Volunteer at your humane society. Help.

3. Reading goals

Reaching or exceeding your Goodreads reading goal (or any other app/website where you track your reading). I am grateful that I reached my goal of 80 books this year, my highest ever—and that I was able to achieve it while finishing the writing of a novel and a story. And doing everything else in life. (Of course, some books are short, others long; only you know if you actually read them.) The icing on the cake: websites like this one let you share your goals with other readers. This means that, despite all the texting and games and videos and Facebooking, people still READ, and they read BOOKS. Oh yeah.

4. Furry families

That even though old dogs get older, they still choose to hang around you. Adopt a dog, adopt a cat. They will give you more love than you know what to do with, and they’ll sit with you while you write and read. (They’ll also judge you through the window while you’re gardening, but it’s best to look away. Be strong. You can do it.) Plus, you can include them as characters in your stories. 

5. Move!

Health can be good or bad, not always in your control. But if you keep moving and remember to breathe (really breathe), you just might feel better. I have read about writers who place stand-up desks next to their treadmills, then type away on their laptops while jogging a hundred miles. They are not me—not in a hundred years—but I like having the option to possibly sometimes think about doing this. If you try it, please let me know how it worked out for you. (Heh.)

6. Empathy

Practice your empathy; be grateful that we are a species that has empathy, for without it, we could not help others, volunteer, create. Empathy is sometimes hard to achieve, wrapped up as we all are in our own separate lives and worries. Think: “If I were you, and you were I.” Or: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” You know the drill. But remember that empathy does not stop at a specific group of humans, or humans in general; it encompasses all sentient beings on this planet. It encompasses who you eat, who you wear, who you use. None of us are perfect, but all of us can practice. I suspect that most protagonists have a great deal of empathy, at least by the end of the book.

7. Family and friends

Be grateful for family and friends—not just as beta readers, purchasers and reviewers of your next novel. Be grateful that you have them, and they have you. Life is short; memories are long.

8. Storytelling

You writers of short stories, be absolutely stoked if you have a piece published in an anthology. Remember that this doesn’t happen to everyone; indeed, after 40-plus years, I’m thrilled it finally happened to me—and short stories are the most difficult things to write. (Well, maybe poems are harder.)

9. Special people

And lastly, this is a personal gratitude, but those among you who have received particularly special book reviews will understand. I am grateful that the first books in my The Animal Guild series were reviewed positively by the guru of furries, Fred Patten. Nice. And his comment that my books are highly recommended for all ages of fantasy readers (not just YA) has answered my internal debate of decades. I still suspect that Seven Secrets in the Upper Attic and The Rogan Treasures are more YA-slanted, but you other books, you’re all grown up. Welcome to the big table.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Eclipsed

Living in the 88% range of totality for today’s eclipse, and thrilled by yesterday’s forecast of clear skies, I awakened today to . . . fog. Not the partly cloudy that I secretly expected, that we typically experience here on the north coast—oh no. Dense, smothering fog. Of course. Fate in action. “Expected to clear by 11:30 or 12:00.” Yeah, after the eclipse. 

But it’s okay; I’m old. I’ve seen eclipses. And as the eerie twilight fog darkened, the grosbeaks and house finches disappeared from the feeders, doubtless thinking they’d just lived the shortest day of their lives. As I gazed upward into . . . drizzling mist . . . I thought about how brief, how rare these astronomical events are.

Not as brief, but perhaps rarer, is a newly discovered author.

Today’s eclipse has been eclipsed by a newly discovered author. (Yep, you knew I’d get around to books and writing eventually.) And not a newbie writer, but someone who’s been prolific for years, someone that oblivious me would never have heard about if I hadn’t been a fan of Diana Wynne Jones.* DWJ admired the work of Patricia Wrede (another good author), which then led me to: 

Lois McMaster Bujold. She writes science fiction, as well as some fantasies. (She’s won the Hugo multiple times.) Some of you will know that I’m not generally a fan of science fiction,** being more fantasy-oriented, and so I shimmied up to Bujold via her “World of Five Gods” series. These are character-driven, profound stories, with plot twists and brilliant surprises akin to any DWJ book. I thought I’d give the first book in her scifi “Vorkosigan series” a try. And it’s of course just as character-driven and propulsive, depending not on techno-jargon and space battles, but on individuals who face the same fears and joys that we face. And ooooh, Bujold has written lots of these books, and yet more fantasies. My autumn reading list is fat. 

So go on (partially) shining somewhere far above the fog, sun! Eclipses occur once in a while. Great books occur much more often. Dear readers, go and read one. 

* DWJ is my hero, author of many fabulous fantasies. If you take nothing else from this post, go and check out her works.

** In the past, I’ve enjoyed Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury and even Le Guin’s take on scifi, but I’m not really into the techno-gadgetry shoot-em-ups of post-Apocalyptic, dystopic futures. Not feeling it. (But also check out Hal Clement, Alexei Panshin and Stanislaw Lem for more good scifi.)