Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nanowrimo Day 14: Prompts for EVERYONE!

Hi there, everybody.

At first, I had this wild idea that I was going to post the number of prompts corresponding to the number for the date. And then I fell behind. I sat here trying to decide how to approach the prompts thing and it struck me that I could just post a list of prompts and not do 14! prompts. Exponential numbers of prompts only works if you do it daily and don't fall behind. So, here is a list of 10 prompts that work for just about any genre you're writing, fiction or non-fiction. (If you're writing about a character, obviously approach these from the character's point of view. Or not, whatever works for you.)

1. What is the hardest challenge you has had to face thus far?

2. What is the biggest dream that you  wish to accomplish this year? Have you done it? If so, how did you do it? If not, what stopped you?

3. Where is your 'happy place'? Is this a place you can go in real life? Is this a place you envision when you are stressed out and can't visit when life gets challenging? What makes this such a special place?

4. Who is your biggest supporter? What has been their largest contribution to your success? How have you thanked them?

5. Where is the best place to eat? What kind of food do they serve there? What is your favorite dish?

6. Why are you working on this project? What do you want to accomplish and how do you envision doing it?

7. Who do you love and what do you love about them? 

8. How do you start your day? Do you have a favorite part to your morning routine? Why is it your favorite?

9. What subject confuses you? Do you wish to learn more about it? If so, why? If not, why?

10. What is best in your life? Why is it the best and how does it effect the rest of your life?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Nanowrimo day 13: Actual post content ahead!

Hi there,

I've been sick for a week and a half now. Still sick. I have an appointment with the family doctor on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure that the string of cold, norovirus, and flu has given me an ear infection and a sinus infection. It's made getting pretty much anything done hard. Sleep doesn't work that great when you're coughing and in pain. The body aches is worse than my arthritis, and that's saying something given how the weather has been just perfect for arthritis pain.

Writing wise, I'm well behind where I wanted to be by now. For obvious reasons, naps do make it hard to write. I'm still writing by hand. I finished Glass House last week on the 8th. It will be getting sent to the recipient Wednesday. Because I'll be out of the house doing stuff. Final total word count on that project was just shy of 40K. It was the novel I started last year and had to stop because I was so sick.

My still untitled manuscript for this year is a rambling mess. I'm presently at 7.5K on that. But my working on two manuscripts at the same time slowed me down. And I've been sick. On my good days, between both projects, my average word count has been around 3.5K. On my bad days, I've been much lower. I haven't calculated what my total word count between both projects would be for this week.

If I can, I will try to get that number up tomorrow. First week of the month, my total word count was 12.3K. I know that the total for the second week of the month is going to be much lower. (Thanks, flu.) And yes, I am writing this out by hand. My writing session is two hours long, broken up into two one hour units or where ever I can catch the time to write. I am writing this year's project in a composition book. I'm using a Pilot G-2 (07) ball point gel pen. Black ink, if anyone's curious. I can't tell you off the top of my head what my average number of words per page is except that it is higher than 200. I think it is 250, but I'm not sure.

Glass House was written up in a A5 sized notebook with a canary yellow color. I used a Pilot G-2 (05) with black ink. The average number of words per page was 240. I didn't bother numbering any of the pages for either project so I have no idea how many pages that I've written. But here's the status update I was planning to do for the last week.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Nanowrimo day 3: Prompt 3

Hi folks,

I'm taking a break from writing by hand to type this up. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have killer writer's cramp by the end of the day. But I WILL get caught up on word count. (I'm presently a day behind plus today's count.) Today's prompts go with the 'dark' mood of today's weather.

Prompt 3.1 - The biggest lie I ever told was ...

Prompt 3.2 - What is the worst thing you have ever done?

Prompt 3.3 - The worst mistake in my life was ...

(Murder cat because murder cat is adorable.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NaNoRHINO day 2: Prompt 2

Hi folks,

Yesterday was not an awesome writing day due to a migraine. I hate those things. I think the weather has settled a little bit so I may be able to get a better start going. Today's prompt is two for the price of one. (I'm debating doing an increasing number of prompts for each day. I haven't decided yet.)

Prompt 2.1 - What scares you?

Prompt 2.2 - Pretend your Batman for a minute. Do you have a plan?

(Why Batman? Because you can be you, but Batman ALWAYS has a plan.)

And, obviously, Batman is property of DC Comics and I'm NOT taking ANY credit for ANYTHING of theirs. NOPE, NOT TODAY, SATAN!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 1: Prompt 1

Hi folks,

I'm going to try to post everyday here. Because I don't want to spam you with numbers and stuff, I'm going to post writing prompts. Consider it my encouragement and good will.

Prompt 1: Complete the letter following this sentence- Dear [Name], It weighs on me that I never told you ...


I'm still working on Glass House. Yesterday, in my prep for my writing today, I worked on Glass House at all stolen moments and in place of my morning pages. As a result, I wrote 3.5 k. That was by hand. Maybe I can get this thing done at the same time as I am working on my official project for this year. Both are to be done by hand. Wish me luck.

Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you!

Monday, October 23, 2017

T-9 days to NaNoWriMo, Thoughts.

NaNoWriMo is a big project. It is also my attempt to get back to writing books. Most years that I have participated, I was writing new content. It was a pleasurable event that I walked into bright eyed and filled with excitement. Last year, I struggled very much. At the end of the month, I was lucky if my word count was around 1k. It was the beginning of functionally a year long struggle with writing. A number of factors were in my way. The biggest was the fact that I was sick and it made getting any form of writing done very hard.

So, here I am getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2017 and I am nervous. Perhaps more nervous than I was the first year I attempted doing it. I know in the past I was able to write out a full 50k manuscript and a bit more over the course of the month. It was a regular thing when I had the opportunity and made a point of being disciplined about my working schedule. Now, I am afraid that my ongoing struggle with depression is going to shut this down before I get started. I am concerned about what ever may pop up over the month putting me in a position where I simply am unable to finish what I am working on. And I have all of the usual 'imposter syndrome' coming up again like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

Still, I'm going to make the attempt. If anything, to hopefully prove to myself that I actually can still do this stuff.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Novel writing progress report: NaNoWriMo prep

Hi there,

I have started the process of collecting all of my notes together in preparation for NaNoWriMo this year. To be honest, I am somewhat intimidated by it this year. Last few years, it was a fun time where even if I had some writer's block, I was still getting things done. I had a couple of years where I managed to write double the target word count. It was exciting and I was quite proud of it.

Then last year happened. I was sick and I was severely depressed. As a result, I didn't get even halfway through my word count goals. I had adjusted them down because I was writing by hand. I knew that I was slower writing by hand. I thought, however, that the notebook's portability would counterbalance my slowness. I didn't realize how much of an influence being sick was going to have on it all. I still have the manuscript unfinished. (One of my goals for this month is to finish the manuscript. I have about two weeks worth of work left to get done in a week and a half. Think happy thoughts for me on this one.)

Since all of that frustration and trouble last year, I have been having a hard time writing. I sit down to work and my anxiety slams into me like a truck. This year, I'm not writing something new. I'm going to attempt to finish book seven of the Umbriel Chronicles. It's been languishing three chapters in because I wrote myself into a corner. A big and difficult one that I can't just skip a head in the plot and come back to fix later. It is one of those problems that could change one of the major characters of the story and completely alter the trajectory of not only one book but the whole series.

Frustrating and intimidating doesn't feel quite strong enough to describe the feelings I'm dealing with right now. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Serial Stories - An Update.

Hi folks,

If you are looking for the latest installment of The Iron Lily or of Dacia's War, I must inform you that they are going to be on hiatus for a while. I am presently working on getting ready for NaNoWriMo. As such, the next few weeks are going to be full of my going over notes and working on plot outlines. I want to avoid the disaster of last year where I tried to just wing it when I was really, really sick. It made it just this side of impossible to work on it.

Strong pain medication makes it hard to remember things. Being in lots of pain also made it hard to remember things. I was very sick this time last year and things didn't start getting resolved until the end of December. Having learned from that experience, I am working on planning out everything for NaNoWriMo, this way if I am having health problems, I don't completely lose the plot of what I was working on.

When I have free time, I will be slowly adding to those serial stories. I'm just not sure how much free time I am going to have. Because I also have Yule gifts to finish up. I am trying to avoid paying tons of money for presents. As a result, I am quite busy crafting things and I'm just going to get busier as it gets closer to the end of December.

I will try to post on here about more than just the frustrations of NaNoWriMo. Daily word counts are not going to be a thing on here. It is going to be a weekly thing. It is my plan to keep my daily word counts in my bullet journal and then total them up for the weekly ones to be posted on Fridays. I will be posting some of my organization stuff for NaNoWriMo next week. You may find it a little interesting. I was inspired by Neil Gaiman's notebooks.

Flora et Fauna: Herbal/Beastiary Project

Hi there,

I'm sorry this post is a day late. I wasn't feeling well at all yesterday. I have the supplies. I have begun practice sketches in a separate notebook (this one was done at the park up the road, it is ornamental grasses at a fountain). Now I'm having a hard time where to begin.

A part of me says I should attempt alphabetic order. Another part says NOPE and I should do it in the order it got put up on here. Any requests or ideas?

(I am thinking about pushing to get 3 sketches done a day until I'm all caught up for the Inktober thing that's going on right now. Does it count if I'm using pencils?)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Craft of Writing: Schedules and goals.

Hi folks,

It's a day late, but here's my craft of writing post for this week. It's been hard to organize my different projects against the stuff happening in my life. As a result, my day planner is changing and my bullet journal is in the process of changes. My goal is to get both to where I can use them together to get my stuff working better. If I can pull this off by November, that'd be great. It would make finishing book seven a lot easier (which is what I'm slating for this year's project).

My day planner started out as just a page with times written down for a given day and a note as to
what day it was. Then I started adding notes about what I was making for dinner that night and reminders. Somehow, it has gone from a one page affair to a two page one with a couple of trackers and note sections on the second page as well as my To Do list for the day.

It now also has colored blocks for things I have ideally booked for that time slot. I am trying to keep my colored blocks in the same scheme as the writing projects I have. And I am also trying to pick out alternate colors for stuff like social events and school related stuff for the kids. This is because I am basically the person who manages the scheduling for everyone. That was where I got started with multiple calendars.

The writing bullet journal was an outgrowth from this work. My most recent entries in the bullet journal are not half as organized as I wanted them to be, to be honest. As a result, I started work on revising the process.

My first step was figuring out what projects were past due and when the other major projects were coming up due. This is still something I'm sifting and sorting out as I go through piles of papers here.

My second step was figuring out my goals for the remainder of the month. The third logical step is figuring out how I am going to keep my log of work. I'm thinking about transitioning to a process that is a combination of how I keep my mental health bullet journal and my daily planner. I'd start out with a page for the month with deadlines and such noted. Also, a 'habit tracker' to help me stay on top of blog posts and journal writing.

I may even also include something along the lines of tracking what I am reading at a given time. (I'm currently working on finishing up Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos. It's a really pleasant read about complex physics. Yes, I am a nerd. If you haven't figured it out yet, I apologize for not being more obvious.) After the monthly page with it's trackers, I would do a weekly page. It gives greater detail to what is planned for the week. In this, I would put down details about events that happen during the week, like if my eldest has a band recital or if I have a scheduled appointment. After the weekly page, there would be daily pages for each day of that week. The next group of pages would be the next week at a glance followed by daily pages. At the end of the month, I'd restart the whole cycle again for the next month.

That's the plan for keeping my log of work. I am also thinking that I need to keep some kind of page for tracking progress on projects. I have three different things I'm working on getting ready to self-publish and I'm at various points in the process. I got a bit confused as to how far along I was on different ones. Thus, I have to make something I can look at and be able to tell what I need to do next for a given project. I'm not quite sure how to do that one though. I've come to realize, however, that the bullet journal layouts that I have been looking at through Pinterest are not really doing a good job of fitting what I need. Good thing I'm crafty.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Priori-what?

Hi folks,

Guess who has two thumbs and is losing their mind right now? That's me alright. My ancient and venerable notebook aka novel/series bible finally fell apart. So, what did I do, I grabbed the nearest big notebook and got right to sectioning it out to finally organize all my notes. At which point I then realized I had editing projects to finish. And then I remembered I had manuscripts unfinished. The list goes on and on.

I'd share a picture of the mess with you but it is spread out over about half the living room. Considering that the kids have been playing legos and with a train set all afternoon, it is pretty clear that this mess is mine. And I am overwhelmed trying to figure out just what to do first. I'm having the same problem with trying to get that bullet journal to work for me.

My problem boils down to one simple one: how to I prioritize everything when everything is SUPER IMPORTANT!!1!elventyone! Throw a heaping serving of depression casserole on top (not nearly as tasty as depression cake) and some exhaustion in the mix for spice, well, you just have a mess nearly as epic as my kitchen this morning.

Here's a non-sequitor that actually isn't. The best process for peeling hard boiled eggs is to take a spoon and get it damp. Then lever it between the shell and the cooked white, underneath the film inside the shell. Carefully and patiently, run it underneath the pre-cracked shell with a gentle hand. This will allow you to peel off large sections of shell with a smooth motion that doesn't damage your egg. After you get most of that shell off, it will actually often happen that the rest will slip off with it. Take your time and do it gently, though, so you are not digging into the egg itself.

I just finished peeling a half dozen eggs and making egg salad at 9:30 pm. Sounds a bit off kilter, considering that this is Friday night and no one has to take a bag lunch anywhere. But, Beloved is asleep on the couch and missed dinner. Like those eggs, I want to take care of things carefully. That means if you love someone, you take care of them as much as they let you. Which may mean making egg salad for when he wakes up at 3 am hungry for a snack before getting into bed. How does this relate to my novelistic troubles?

I can't manage to pick which egg to peel first because they all look like the right one to begin with. So, instead of getting down to the task of peeling eggs (pre-writing work and such) so that I can make that egg salad (write my drafts) to make the sandwich (edit and finish a project), I am standing here with a dripping spoon in hand, wondering if what I really need is a fork and feeling like maybe I need to clean the whole kitchen to find JUST THE RIGHT ONE. Because anxiety is a harsh row to hoe.

I know I need to pick just one thing and do it. Maybe I should bust out a die and make a numbered list. Do the first task rolled or something. Goodness knows I am not using my d-20 anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Say what?

So, the picture at the right does a really good job summarizing where I'm at right now on everything. The only thing I feel like I'm doing confidently is metabolizing oxygen into carbon dioxide and producing gas. (So much kale and veggies... I feel like I'm contributing to the world via global warming.)

I keep trying to sit down and write stuff or draw stuff. Just do SOMETHING for this blog. And interruptions pop up all the time when the kids are home. That was the last four days. Today, I find myself struggling with massive anxiety over writing anything. (Even a list of chores was bothering me. It was awkward and unpleasant.)

This difficulty and crisis in confidence is making me dread Nanowrimo this year. I'm trying to finish my project from last year. I only need to write a week's worth of pages. But I can't seem to bring myself to do it. It's awful. And then there is my desire to do the Inktober thing but I flail about that my sketches are not good enough. So, I guess I am going to have to just accept the fact that my work is not going to be 'good enough' and just try to produce something. Hence this post, you see.

Now, I'm going to go back to dealing with this massive pile of laundry and try to figure out just how I'm going to find my way out of the box I wrote myself into on a few things. And attempt to find the energy to finish some edits. I have to get book three out there before Nano, I just have to do it. Or at least get it done before the end of Nano. I've got people who need to get copies for Yule, after all.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Iron Lily Part 14: Rider of Darkness

As they rounded the bend of the path towards the traveler's rest, they found the door standing wide open. Ewen's cousin waved an arm at them, motioning them to hurry. As they did so, Halthor heard a scream above them. "Don't look up," Ewen ordered as he grabbed Halthor's arm and dragged him forward after he had paused to look around. "Run!" Ewen demanded when a second and a third inhuman scream came from the sky. Halthor dipped his head and ran as fast as his legs would let him. As he ran for the threshold of the traveler's rest, Ewen's cousin came out with a pair of torches.

The axe at Halthor's side began to grow warm as it bounced against his leg. Halthor reached the traveler's rest when Ewen's cousin threw one of the torches. It tumbled through the air, just barely not lighting Halthor's hair on fire. Above the builder, the torch struck a creature moving on the night's currents. The scream returned, nearly deafening Halthor as he ducked and drew the hand axe. Above him, a figure that looked to be a man wrapped in a shroud writhed as it lifted up into the darkness of the night away from the light spilling out of the open doorway.

Another figure of shadow against the darkness screamed as it rushed down at him. The eerie cry was echoed to a point where the clearing rang with it. The hooded figure was nearly upon him, long taloned fingers reaching for him. Halthor swung his axe and the place where the face should have been took the blow. The shadow rose, its grasping hands almost gripping Halthor by the neck. The axe flashed and the hands came off at the wrist. After a moment, Halthor saw the shadow's hands reform, though they now looked to be the hands of a mere human, if humans were made of pure darkness.

The floating figures were not only after Halthor but troubling his companions. Halthor glanced over to see Ewen wrestling with his spear in hand, a cold light shining from the head of it like sunlight on a knife's edge. The shadowy assailiant was attempting to wrench the spear from Ewen's grasp. Ewen, however, was not having such nonsense. His cousin at the doorway to the traveler's rest was waving his other torch around and chasing the shadows back into the darkness. Two of the shadow creatures were approaching Halthor as he was taking his quick look at his companions.

Out of some reflex, Halthor tossed the axe into his off hand and slipped his hammer from the loop he carried it on. As the hammer came up, a noise split the air that was not the screams of monsters. It was a sound like thunder. Halthor threw his axe into the creature approaching him from the left. As it hit the night was illuminated with a sudden blast of light. The creature struck by the axe didn't even scream. It slammed into the ground and then vanished as lightning struck it. The creature approaching from the right hesitated and Halthor smashed his heavy hammer into the face of his monstrous opponent.

Light that should have blinded him filled his senses. Thunder that should have deafened him rolled. Beneath his tunic, the crystal in the filigree stag crown grew warm as if it were sitting in the sun on a summer's day. Hewen and his cousin had been thrown to the ground by the almost simultaneous blasts of lightning from the sky where there should have been none. Two other creatures were looming over them to attack them. In three great strides, Halthor reached Ewen's cousin. Again the hammer struck and again there was thunder and lightning. When Halthor turned his gaze to the creature threatening Hewen, the creature fled. Halthor looked down at Ewen's cousin and offered him a hand.

The man was breathless but he took Halthor's offered hand. As he got up to his feet he went to Ewen. Halthor looked around them, listening for any noises of danger. He stooped to pick up the axe when Hewen walked up to him. Ewen was half shouting when he said, "Father's light, what happened?" Halthor raised the axe up. Ewen's eyes narrowed slightly. His cousin, who was standing just behind Halthor nodded with a look of mute amazement. Hewen stuck the knuckle of his right index finger in his ear and rubbed it. His ears rang. His vision was spotty with after images of lightning and the scene of a man standing where it struck. The ferryman shook his head with astoundment. "Grandfather gave me the temple spear. The other arms are hidden around the town. If the riders go back and attack the temple, it will be bloody," Ewen said.

"Then we go to defend them," said Halthor. Ewen shook his head.

"It's too dangerous. Those four are nothing compared to the ones who send them. And they are coming to Wye and then onward to here. You are being hunted," Ewen said. "The riders will come back again later if we remain outside. Their power is stronger past a threshold and in deep dark.We must go inside. It is very late and the darkest hours of the night are ahead of us. At dawn, we will part."

"What about my pony, and the dog?" Halthor said. Ewen smirked. Halthor glowered at him.

"Elfstock pony and dog are not on the list of what the riders like to eat. I think they'll be safe. Too much light in them," Ewen said, showing the first note of humor since setting out from the temple, "You'll find them nosing around the door at dawn."

Halthor and the other two men entered the traveler's rest and threw the latch. "Apparently the arms need to be cast or stricken against the foe as per how they'd be used in pitched and desperate battle," the weary ferryman said as he sat down heavily beside the fire. "This is something I suspected and Grandfather suggested may have been the case. It is, however, unclear why when you struck the rider with the axe in your hand that it did not do whatever it just did."

"Who and what are the riders?" Halthor asked.

"The hungry dead," Ewen's cousin answered, "They are the souls who were consumed incompletely by the dark children and left to ride the wind and night. They chase the souls of living people to feed on them and fill the void left by the dark ones. That is a void that can never be filled, though, because their food feeds the ones who set them loose. Truly powerful ones move by daylight."


Ewen shot his cousin an angry look. "He leaves at dawn," his cousin said sharply, "He must know what is hunting him. Speaking about it at dark is something unavoidable. As long as we ignore the voices on the wind and keep the fire burning until daylight, we will be fine. Sleep in shifts and tend the flame. You know that is what Grandfather would tell us." Ewen sighed.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Flora & Fauna: Manuscript styles for Herbal & Bestiary.

From Medieval Archives.
Hi there,

I started out with this grand idea of making an illustrated manuscript. I thought it was fantastic and that I was going to use all of my artistry and skills to make something truly amazing. Then I started researching different styles of illuminated manuscripts. Did you know there is a shockingly high number of different illuminated manuscript styles just in Europe? Essentially each region has their own richly detailed styles, some getting down to the individual lineage of the scriptoriums who were putting these things together.

It's subtle, but all there. And then there is what you will find in other regions that is kinda jaw-dropping in complexity. The manuscripts of Persia are probably the ones that I find the most visually appealing. At the same time, however, the manuscripts of the lower portion of the Indian subcontinent is a kinda big thing too. We won't even get into the enormous range of the Chinese and Japanese illuminated and illustrated manuscripts. That is a tradition that has so many different nuanced elements that it literally takes multiple college classes to begin to understand it.

To say the least, I am somewhat overwhelmed by the matter. When I began turning back to look at some of my old artwork, I started seeing details from when I was much younger and not as inclined towards strict realism that was similar to the English illuminated manuscripts. I think to do the artwork for all of this, I am going to have to go back to my own artistic roots and reassess things from there. My test sketches are not that great, but they are test sketches done in pencil. I did reach a final decision on how to handle the actual work in the books proper. I'm going to use colored pencil because it is the medium I am most comfortable with and because the color saturation is a bit closer to what I'd find in the old manuscripts at the present time.

Progress is happening in fits and starts, but there is indeed progress.

Craft of Writing: Don't get too competitive.

Hi there!

Sorry this post is a day late. My boys were very active yesterday and when I finally got time to sit down at the laptop my brain was completely fried. Adhd is a hell of a thing. When I wasn't juggling one kid's temper tantrums over what the other kid was doing (and in one case an epic level meltdown over losing a game of checkers), I was thinking about what my problems had been posting. Being distracted was part of it, as was not feeling well. I was pretty sure that there was something else poisoning the well, however.

Watching that meltdown made the proverbial penny drop. I was trying to compete with EVERYBODY on the internet. It was a disappointing moment, to be honest. Still, it made me step back and look at what the problems were this created. It is something that kicks my perfectionism into high gear and for my internal critic, nothing is good enough. (I kinda wanna stick that chick in a trunk and sinking 'em into the bottom of the lake. There's caves down there, it'll be hard to find the body.) And good gods, how much is this competition with ALL THE INTERNET making me depressed and crazy, on top of the legitimate problems with depression happening.

A little competition is good. It keeps me hungry for doing more and for pushing myself to grow. Feeling like I have to compete with every last Bob, Dick, and Jane who have a website (and a Twitter feed) is something that leads to crippling self doubt. I really don't recommend it. Beloved had a good point the other day when he encouraged me to write for myself. A famous person, I can't remember their name right now, once said that if we write for ourselves, the book will find its audience when we put it out there.

It is not easy to do so. It requires heaps and heaps of courage and vulnerability. It also requires a willingness to do the super uncomfortable things to keep moving forward. (Kinda like this post, to be honest.) But, from what I can tell, the higher quality writing comes out of that place of vulnerability and openness. And that is what I am seeking. Not to edge some invisible, nameless conglomerate figure of the entire internet.

TL:DR version: Don't try to compete with everybody on this rock. It's just going to make you crazy. Compete with yourself, if you must compete. The rest comes along later, the writing is first. Focus on what you want to say and how you want to say it. Everybody and their brother are still going to be there later. Who knows, maybe they'll notice your work and say 'hey, this fits me.' because you didn't chase what other people was saying how things should be done. ♥

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rambling and nattering on.

Hi Folks,

It has been a challenging time for me. Back to school has been exhausting. The biggest hurdle, however, has been my mental health. After feeling somewhat better, but anxious, I have slipped into another depressive episode. I was talking with Beloved about how I was worried it was going to turn into the same kind of mess that last year was. I was (and, honestly, still am) very concerned that the depression was basically going to kill all of my writing projects.

I gave the bitter argument that no one wanted to read about struggling with depression. He looked at me and said that writing is one of my coping mechanisms. He also said that I should write for myself and if I choose to post it on a blog, then I should not worry about what other people had to say about it. It was something that I spent a good part of my evening thinking about last night and tonight. When things hit the point of 'I have to write SOMETHING or give up the blog.' in my head, I started transferring old reading journal posts.

I honestly can't say that the writer's group meeting on the 20th went well. I'm not sure if it is because I went in there anticipating problems and took every small sign of looking at me in askance as a sign of rejection. I'm not sure if it is because I have a legitimate reason to be anxious about some of the members. Or if it is just because I was having a bad day. Social phobia and past trauma combined with depression plays unpleasant games with your brain and your perception of the world. As such, I am going to give it one more try at the next meeting.

It is on the 4th of October. My guts are already roiling and the social phobic part of my brain is saying I should just not go because nothing good will come of it. I think part of my discomfort is the fact that I was the youngest person there by a solid 30 years. It makes my skin crawl because it brings back memories of past writing groups that were just plain creepy. (Some of them were creepy by the virtue of the excited exuberance of having a teen/young adult in the group where the median age is around 60. Others were creepy on the basis of some genuinely ... disturbing members. I left those ones in short order, where as the ones where I was the youngest person there by over 30 years were harder due to the fact that my Grandmother was so excited to have me go with her and my choice was to go or deal with some problematic stuff at home. As a teen, the way out of the house was always my choice.)

I have been finding myself extra anxious about social interaction on-line. I am fairly sure that this is just a natural extension of my anxiety about social interaction at large and the fact that a vast amount of my social interaction is via the internet right now. I am attempting to correct the inclination to basically hide with my bad feelings and bad thoughts when I can't fake being perfectly fine. It gets tough, though, because I have this idea that no one wants to read bad news or about someone's struggles. (Perverse humor in this is obvious considering my primary genre in fiction. I am not immune to irony, it seems.)

So, I am going to attempt to write more. I can't promise it is going to be what it was like before. It may be like this post today. Or, it may be something along the topics that I try to schedule for the day. Some days, there may even be things going on with format here when I feel up to wrestling with that. I have this idea in my head about how this thing should look. It is hard right now for me to translated it from brain fluff to words or even images right now. Scumbag brain is running interference right now. I kinda hate that guy.

But, I'll try to be back soon.

Book Review: Our Cosmic Habitat

Title: Our Cosmic Habitat
Author: Martin Rees
Publisher: Princston University Press Date: 2001

Already, I've finished the preface, the first chapter, and I'm half way through chapter two. This book is oriented much more towards the "lay man" physicist. It's a lower level then Hawking's work and doesn't posess the same ambitious drive to educate. It presents a more toned down and an effort to describe the current state of cosmology.

I'm a little over half way through this book and I'm rather bored. I clearly can see that this does not challenge my understanding of modern physics or cosmology. This is a primer for the newly introduced compared to Hawking's work. It's a bit of a disappointment.

I'm now 2/3rd (roughly) through the text and I'm woefully bored with it. I believe that I'm going to set this aside and work on something else.

[Note: As an introductory book, it is excellently written. If you can make it through highschool physics and a pre-calculus class, then you can get through this book easily. If you managed chemistry with out too much pain and higher level algerbra/geometry, then the book will be challenging. It seems to be a 11th grade reading level book, roughly.]

Original Publication Date: Mar. 25, 2002
Original Notation Dates: Nov. 2002

Book Review: When God Was A Woman

 Title: When God Was A Woman
Author: Merlin Stone
Publisher: Dial Press Date: 1976

This presents a pseudo-academic argument with it's political agenda clearly present. Yet, it does bespeak of a reasonable amount of scholarship. It is unfortunate that the author remains so heavily focused on the "matriarchal/matrifocal golden age" myth. It colors her work very much and takes what was very good and actually facinating archeological, anthropological, and historical research and puts a very heavy bias on the presentation. While I do agree that the Indo-Aryan invasion did bring great changes, I can not accept that the pre-invasion period was peaceful.

Also, it is very difficult for me to accept the premise that during the Paleolithic and Neolithic period that there was this Great Goddess cult, the feminine version of the Judeo-Christian religion essentially. Nor, I must say, that said cult was spread across the world. While there are varios iconographic simmilarities through out the world cultures at that stage of development, the Goddesses worshiped were clearly very different. I belive there are stages to the deveopment of human society, and with these stages there are sub-stages that they go through. The development of religion/spirituality and iconography to accompany it is clearly one.

I'm again inclined to questions the connections drawn between the various groups. The structure of the ancient Hebrews, the Indo-Aryans, and the Bramhins of Hinduism, is only simmilar on the surface. The imagry of fire-gods, storm-gods, and divine power expressed as a cataclysmic natural event/force was/is not esclusive to the Indo-Aryan race that swet through the Persian, Caracas/Balkins and Indian regions. This same structure, including an aristocratic priestly class can be foudn through out the world. It can even be found in our more "advanced" culture of the "Western" world. Hence, the rights and privilages ascribed to clergy of nationally recognized religions and the local belief systems interplay with politics. Areas where a particular branch of Christianity are of signifigant majority (or presence) will be influence to act in accordance with the ethos of said sect.

I believe that Stone is engagend in wishful thinking. Much like those who insist that the development of the theories of modern physics is dependend on the study of oriental culture and religion. I suspect the use of such arguments is due to a lack of knowledge of the philosophical and logical roots of european thought. Stone could really have built the argument better if the emphasis wasn't so heavily placed on a particular premise. A premise that the author did not state to be a primary point in her argument.

If Stone built her argument, focused it on the different points from the outset rather then developing contet, it would be a more concrete text. On the whole, a very engaging work. Well written, though I don't agree with the premises entirely. Very good research. I was disappointed that the points that cultural links between the Levite priests and the Hittites weren't developed. With how Stone presents them, it looks like they're a combination of circumstancial research and conjecture. 

It is a good start, however, in a field of writing that was just developing at the time.
Original Publication Date: Mar. 25, 2006
Original Notation Dates: Nov. 2002


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'm going to do WHAT?

So, the social phobe author is going on an adventure right in her own backyard. The Livingston County Writers and Poets club is meeting tomorrow at the Chip Holt Nature Center. This is literally right around the corner from my house. I'm more than a little nervous about this. That said, I recognize it would really do me a great deal of good to go and have something resembling a social life.

I am planning on bringing my bullet journal and my writing journal. I'm leaving the morning pages stuff at home because that is the sort of thing I'm supposed to not share with people. It's like my daily journal (and interestingly the content is shifting in that direction too despite my efforts to stay focused on writing in there). Both are private and generally not something to let most anyone view.

Wish me luck or something. If it goes well, I'll be attending both meetings on a given month (first and third Wednesday of the month). I just worry that it is going to be a situation where I'm the youngest person in the room and I completely don't fit in at all. Because social phobia says this would be a horrible thing and I should just give up before I try. Scumbag brain is getting medicated for this jaunt.

My work on rebuilding plot maps is slowly progressing. Other things have been getting in the way today, like paying bills and dealing with papers. Because not everything is going to be about writing, yanno? Next Tuesday, I will have the next installment of The Iron Lily up. The following Tuesday, I should have the next installment of Dacia's War, provided everything goes according to plan.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Craft of Writing: Organize and Attack with Mind Bullets!

I am adjusting my bullet journal and how I approach writing again. It seems to be a thing that I am going to do regularly. This is not a bad thing, just time consuming. Still, as I work on this, I am finding the creative well is beginning to fill up again. Perhaps the biggest change that I have made over the last few weeks is just making a point of dedicating a solid two hours everyday to journal writing. Spending that time focusing on myself is actually helping me find my voice again. A fantastic thing when you have been in a writing slump, to be honest.

In the pic below, I changed my layout a little bit. The weekly work log is divided up into three sections. The one at the extreme left is morning, the middle is afternoon, and the final is evening. I am also now adding appointments in so that I can keep better track of time spent on things. I also deliberately added blogging to my list of daily tasks. As I am having some difficulty staying on top of work for different books, I added a section noting my major things to get done this week on that front as well.


I am still in the process of getting plot maps done. It has been frustrating work, but this is what happens when I don't write down what I was planning and I have to back track to figure out what to do. I did have a brainstorm Friday night when I was out picking up takeout for dinner and found my way out of one plot hole. Maybe I'll get lucky and find another bolt of inspiration to resolve other plot holes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Summer's End: Harvest Festivals of Evandar

Image from Pexels.com
The autumn is a season of harvest. While the harvest of the world of Evandar is far more labor intensive than harvest in much of the real world, it is a time of largess and celebration (when the harvest is good). For the people of Evandar, autumn is considered to begin with the first major harvest of the major crop of the region.

Generally, this is the wheat or other grains that were planted as late in the last year as possible so that there is grain growing as soon as all is thawed. The practice was one that the people of northern Evandar developed to compensate for the challenges of the growing season in that mountainous region.

The first harvest celebration is known only as First Harvest. It is celebrated when the final field of early, ripe grain is harvested. A corn dolly is made and left standing in the field to draw the attention of mischievous spirits to the field rather than the places where the grain is stored. Sometimes, the corn dolly will be paraded around the field with great ceremony and people trying to douse the dolly with water. The general tone of the celebration is joyful. This is also a time when many marriages take place because the harvest is considered to be an auspicious time for weddings and they have no reached the time where multiple things are due for harvesting.

The second harvest celebration is a few weeks later. The second full moon of autumn is known as the Harvest Moon and under the light of it (and by the light of bonfires) there will be harvesting done out in the fields. At the same time, however, there are races, feasting, and celebrating. The Harvest Moon celebration is also one of the ones that is focused on fertility. A pregnant woman will be chosen as the Harvest Queen and sit upon a throne of sorts. She will for the evening outrank local nobility and, later, rule the time between Harvest Moon and the final celebration. The Harvest Queen is housed in the local noble's home as an important guest. When the final celebration comes, the Harvest Queen is sent back to her home with a chest that holds the donations and gifts of homage that she received. (Most often, the gifts and such are things that she would need to care for her child and manage her household.)

The final harvest celebration comes after the first frost that lasts beyond sunrise. This is known as the Cold Harvest. Some also call it the Blood Harvest. During this final harvest time, herds are thinned and meat is prepared for storage. Where the other celebrations are filled with joy and excitement, the Cold Harvest is a time of great solemnness. The Harvest Queen kills the first fatted stock animal with an invocation that the animal's death be taken by the bane-workers (the deamons) and the animal's blood keep their thirsty lips away from human throats.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Serial Stories Update!

Hi folks!

The major depressive episode that was approximately a year long is finally gone. Unfortunately, I've rather lost the thread of where I was going with both of the stories. This week, I am in the process of back tracking through the past installments. My goals are to reestablish what the plot was that I had been working on and to build upon it to get things moving forward again.

It may sound odd but these two very different stories are connected. And they connect to the main stories of the Umbrel Chronicles. In fact, there are going to be two major characters from books six and seven showing up once I reach the place that it makes sense for it to happen. There will be some other easter eggs between the serial stories and the novels. This is something that I do have fairly clear recollection of planning on doing.

The challenge is to recover what the mechanics of said eggs was going to be. Right now, they're scrambled. They say you can't unscramble an egg. A chemist once told me that with sufficient resources, it would be entirely possible to do so by way of breaking protein bonds. Now, what does this have to do with my stories? Precious little, because advanced chemistry is not a thing yet in this fictional world. But, if it is possible to unscramble an egg with proper resources and time, it is possible for me to unscramble my plot lines too.

I do have one other thing to add to today's post. I want to apologize for how whiny Halthor has been. It wasn't my plan for him to be at that point, but the character is morphing. I am realizing that there are some deeper unresolved issues that he is going to be struggling with along side the original adventure/mischief of fate plot line. Hopefully, I will get a better handle on it and try to move Halthor from the 'teenage angst' position to 'struggling adult' position instead. Because he's not a youth and his personality was supposed to be more goal oriented and classic hero stature, with a few twists. This take on the Hero's Journey is not quite going as I planned.

Oh, before I forget, y'all are going to love to hate Al-Uzza. She is based on some individuals I have known in the past with their worst traits mashed into one person. But, don't worry, unlike some others in this universe, she is going to get exactly what she deserves for her malarkey.

Have a wonderful evening!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Flora et Fauna: Bestiary & Herbal.

Hi folks!

I have vaguely talked about how I wanted to make an herbal manuscript in the style of the Voynich manuscript and other medieval documents. I have made similar statements regarding a bestiary. Today, I have begun assembling my supplies and making decisions on how to work things. The bestiary and the herbal are going to be in two basic black bound sketchbooks that you can pick up pretty much anywhere art supplies are sold.

I am still deciding between the different types of tools I want to use for illustration. While I love the vividness of the pens I have, I feel like they would not blend well with the medieval style. I have pencils, but I feel that they are too soft in coloration. I am still trying to pick the best way to put the color to the images. I have some very rough ideas of how to approach this. I am tempted to get my hands on some tempera paints and use them. After all,when the medieval documents were created, the colors were very vivid.

I know how to handle the text. I am going to be using a dip pen for this. The text is going to be written up in a script that I am in the process of developing. I think that the text is going to be the hardest part of this project. I will, however, be putting it forth in English. Specifically, it is going to be a polyglot of English from multiple eras, up to and including Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, and early Modern English. This is going to be challenging, but I think it is going to ultimately be easier than using the language that I am still in the process of developing.

I will be adding to the images I post of these things a 'translation' of the text pictured. It will be using the spellings as fitting for the period that I am drawing from and include at times some lesser known letters such as thorn ( Þ ). Incidents where I am using unfamiliar to modern eyes spellings, I will include the modern spelling beside it in brackets and different colored font.

This is going to be a huge project. But, I think it will serve me well to get me back into the swing of describing this world. First images, ideally, will be done some time next week.This will be accredited to a character in the series and I will be the 'translator' of the document. Because I am a dork like that.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Craft of Writing: Bullet Journal manipulation & stuff.

So, the last several weeks have been exhausting and chaos. Having both boys going back to school on Wednesday is a glorious thing and I hope to get a lot of stuff done. This hope has lead me to sit down and revise my Bullet Journal layout for the week. It still has the essential elements from the last two I shared.

I have added, however, a second page. The page is divided up into seven sections. Obviously, one section for each day. It is where I am going to use the 'rapid logging' technique from standard Bullet Journal practices to note what writing I get done on a given day. This is to keep track of two things. First, I want to keep some kind of record how much writing I am doing on a given day. I want to get an idea as to where my writing time is getting spent. If I am spending my writing session derping around on Facebook and Pinterest, I really want to catch that and correct it.

Secondly, I want to get a picture of what writing I am doing. I know this sounds just about the same as what I just said. The thing here is that I have a really wide range of topics that I am writing about. It is hard right now for me to tell where I need to do more work and where I can trim back my word count expectations. My goal is three fold on adjusting blog posts. First, I want to get back to posting consistently across all of my blogs. Second, I want to have my posts be of higher quality. And, finally, I want my blog posts to be a more efficient means of expressing what I have in mind.

So, this is why I made the adjustments to my weekly set up in my Bullet Journal. It is a small thing but it seems to be small changes that are allowing me to make forward progress. I am trying to focus on progress instead of perfection. I saw a thing on Facebook where they were encouraging people to focus on just 'do the thing' instead of trying to make it meet some nebulous idea of perfection. The argument is that perfection is not possible. Improvement, however, only happens when we do the thing many times and focus on completing the task.

I am shifting how I have my planning pages for my blogs set up. Up until today, I had them all together in one binder. Each one had its own set of colored pages and was divided into their own sections. Theoretically, this was the most organized method that I could have. Unfortunately, that big binder was big enough to be difficult to use. This resulted in little to no planning. I considered shifting blog planning into my Bullet Journal but remembered, again, that having everything together in some kind of mishmash really was the reason why I was separating things out.

Now, we have a bit of a glut of school supplies at my place. I took my multicolored paper and put it into folders for each individual little stack. Next, I am going to sit down and make a few adjustments to how I am planning on those stacks of paper. Right now, everything is just listed on the page. There is no outlines. Just vague topic notes. I have come to the conclusion that outlines are going to be necessary if I am going to actually get anything done. (By the way, this means more material coming for Dacia's War and the Iron Lily over the next few weeks. This week is a set-up week where I am trying to make things more user friendly.)

The biggest irony right now, however, is that I look at my stock pile of notebooks and I feel torn as to if I should grab one to start writing down a 'book bible' for the series that I am writing. I catch myself worrying some about this turning into a fiasco with a random pile of notebooks with a few entries in there and nothing more. This was sort of how things turned out the last time I attempted this level of organization. That, however, was almost 20 years ago and I was in the middle of figuring out what the hell I was doing at college.

I have obviously learned some things. My anxiety is understandable given how the last year has been for me. I am not going to give up. I have worked too hard to get to where I am now. And I still have a story to finish. (A story that is going to be approximately 20 books if I keep going at the rate I am with these books thus far.) I am turning 37 this year. I can't afford to let myself run in circles going 'what if I screw [XYZ] up?' and coming up with as many catastrophic images of disaster as I can think of. The last year was full of that. A good amount of it came from brain chemistry being off kilter. That's been addressed now. So, it is time to get back to work.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Flora et Fauna: Update note.

I have been lax in my updates and writing. I apologize for this. I have finally found my colored pencils and picked up a set of watercolor pencils. This may not seem a big deal, but my primary medium for drawing natural themes are pencils. I've tried with markers and what I posted most recently is one of the better results. I also found one of my extra sketchbooks. This one is fairly small, but that actually works in my favor.

It allows me to put something together that more closely resembles the herbals of antiquity than the work of John James Audubon. (Not that I don't love Audubon's Birds of America and other works, it is just a level of work that is beyond me.) I tried with the larger paper but I simply couldn't get to where I had the organization and groundwork laid out for it. Now, I will attempt to keep my sketches detailed.

They will, however, be more like what you would find in this English herbal. It is also my plan to write notes with my sketches. I will be reworking the sketches I already have completed. I am looking for my other blank mini-sketchbook to create a bestiary. I may wind up just buying another one. (And I may even have it with different cover designs on it too.)

As the kids will be going back to school in a week and a half, I may not have a whole host of sketches and such for you. After school starts up again, though, I will be working on getting back to that previous level of work produced from before that terrible depressive episode started.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Craft of Writing: Making a Writing Schedule.

My writing Bullet Journal
So, I mentioned in my last craft of writing note that I have reworked my bullet journal. The layout is far more streamlined. It is the simplest that I have seen anywhere. (I still look through Pinterest and other places for ideas on how to improve my bullet journaling. Multiple colors assigned to different major projects is one example that I lifted from another place.)

I realized that I was attempting to go after things from a perspective of DO ALL THE THINGS! This is partly due to the fact that I am very ambitious in my thinking about my projects. And it is partly due to the fact that my initial work setting this up was a combination of a mixed episode and using it as an attempt to shift my attention from feeling awful. All together, it was just a problem to work with. I briefly considered just pitching the notebook. Then my refusal to waste paper hit me and I decided that I would just try again.

My 'pocket' Day Planner
The other thing that got influenced by the bullet journal concept wasn't just organizing my writing stuff. It was also how I approached my day planner. This originally was more like what FLYLady uses. Then I realized that format really wasn't working well for me with everything going on in my life.

Cue my setting my planner up with time blocked out as seen in the example to the left. It was almost effective. Then I realized that I needed to apply the bullet journal organization techniques towards my schedule. Add this to my finally having that damned depressive episode end and I found myself becoming better at scheduling my day. What isn't pictured in my day planner here is the time immediately after I get up. Some days, I may be up at 6, but more often, I am up at 5 am and I sit down to write my morning pages immediately after I am up for the day. (With a cup of strong coffee and my favorite pencils. I'll talk more about that next week.)

Later in the day, I block out time for writing in general. I am finding that if I give myself the same time to work in just about every day, it gets easier to write. Granted, I may just be writing rambling angry tirades about the idiots I find myself dealing with on a somewhat regular basis. (White supremacists repulse me and for some reason they seem to be regularly regurgitating the pablum of the Third Reich on platforms that I frequent on an increasing basis.) All of that writing is focused right now on just getting writing done.

My goal is to get myself to producing at a volume I want. This means effective time management techniques. The daily planner and the bullet journal are proving to be two very helpful tools. Also, I confess, I have been using a timer on my work as well. It was refreshing to find that I could still pull off writing approximately 300 words in fifteen minutes. (I have started doing prompt based writing again. I will post some of the prompts later this week. I need to pick the good ones to share with you because a lot of them are pretty lame, in my opinion.)

As my late Grandfather said, half of getting the job done is just showing up to work. A writing schedule is part of making sure that I do that. I also make sure that my schedule is one that does not get interfered with. It is hard and some days, I am not half as successful as I would like to be. But, every day is a chance to do better and do more.

Keep your chin up and keep trying to do your best, folks. ♥

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Editing whilst hypomanic?

Hi folks,

If you're keeping score, I'm still trying to get medications sorted out. I'm somewhere between hypomanic and full blown mania right now. So, what am I doing (aside from cleaning all the things and getting super frustrated with everything)? Editing stuff. It is going SO SLOWLY.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Craft of Writing: Bullet Journal stuff (again)

Hi there, everybody!

I hope you have all been doing quite well (or at least are at a place you can tolerate and find some enjoyment on a regular basis). I have been all over the place of late. There's been things happening on the health front that has given me a new perspective on things. (That depressive episode that started in the fall last year is finally gone thanks to Wellbutrin, but now I'm hypomanic and cleaning/organizing everything. It's been interesting.)

Among the new perspectives is a change to how I approach the Bullet Journal method. I had started using a kind of fancy layout for a weekly thing. It did not help me get anything done. So, I stripped all the fancy bits off and turned it into a single page. It is nothing super fancy, but my focus was to be utilitarian with the whole thing right now. Because I need less distractions right now with my attention span being a bit short.

The first line has the week noted (I used the format of : July 23 - 29  2017.). Beneath this there are two boxes with my tasks noted. On the left side is my daily tasks. As you may be able to see in the picture, I have listed only four things as stuff I MUST do everyday. This actually takes a lot of pressure off of me. On the right side is the box with my weekly tasks. Each day of the work week has two lines. The tasks for each day is noted in my own style of short hand.

Beneath this, there are two additional sections. On the left is the running tally of my daily word count for a handwritten manuscript that I started back during NaNoWriMo last year. On the right side is my tracker for the work I'm doing as I reboot (again) doing the Artist's Way exercises. My goal is to get through all of the exercises for the week. It doesn't feel like it is a super ambitious goal and I am devoting a specific time block for working on it. (It's when the kids have their 'homework' time for their summer school stuff. They hang out in the living room reading books as I sit in the kitchen and to my writing. It seems to be working well.)

I have my reminder to do my planning on Thursdays for my writing stuff as well as my regular day planner and calendar stuff. I also am going to try to keep track of my average word count on my blog posts.

At the bottom of the page in an entirely different color (so it grabs my attention), I have written down two reminders that I keep applying in other areas of my life because I tend to be a perfectionist.


  • Imperfect work is still GOOD work!
  • Goal = progress not perfection
I'm trying to be realistic in how I approach this stuff. We'll see how successful I will be this time next week. In addition to all of the writing stuff, I still have things to do like getting ready for my youngest's birthday party on Saturday and the usual work of being Mom. The kind of fun thing, honestly, about the Bullet Journal, is how the really useful parts about notation are creeping into my day planner. Which helps me stay on top of everything. So, I think I like the Bullet Journal concept. Now I'm just trying to figure out how it works best for me in multiple areas.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review: Angels: An Endangered Species




    Title: Angels: An Endangered Species
    Author: Malcolm Goodwin
    Publisher: Simon and Schuster Date: 1990

    I've signed out three book and I'm tempted to try the trick of reading all of them at once, but it would make it difficult to keep a log on each of them. The first one I am reading is prompted out of a combination of curiosity and a desire to understand these beings I have seen in visions.

    I've finished nearly half of this book and it really is rather useless to me. So I'm just going to stop reading it.

    [Note: I had forgotten entirely about reading this book. It really made a poor impression on me if I can't even remember it.]


    Originally Published on Livejournal on 3/25/2006.

    Book Review: Universe in a Nutshell

    Author: Stephen Hawking
    Title: The Universe in a Nutshell
    Publisher: Bantam Books Date: Nov. 2001

    The introduction repeats Hawking's amazement at how successful his first book, A Brief History of Time, was. It carries a simmilar feeling that is in the introduction to his previous work, Black Holes, Baby Universes, and Other Essays. The layout of the book includes alot more graphics, so it is like the illustrated reprint of A Brief History of Time. 

    The illustrations are entertaining and informative. It helps make the book more accessable. Hawking's change of written formant and being less dependant on front loading and sequential development makes the book more engaging.

    Hawking's discussion on Einstein is refreshingly free of hero worship. He treats einstein and his work with a sense of humanity and warmth of an old friend remaniscing. Also, the description of Einstein's work and it's impact is wonderful.

    While I can appreciate the EPR paradox and I can see how the apparent result is governed by the Heisenberg Uncertianty principle, I find it difficult to accept that the pair of particles in a conjoined (entangled) system which are indentical can't give information about each. I find myself thinking that if one measures something on the particles, different qualities at the same time, that it would be possible to work around the Uncertianty principle. I also question how such a system has issues with that principle.

    The argument that time and space are essentially the same dimension is one that I'm forced to disagree with. The reason why is because it is possible for a body to remain at the same point in space but not for it to remain at the same point in time while doing so. I believe that time and space re two separate dimensions. I suspect that space and time are ... correlated and that there can be interplay between the two. I do not believe, however, that the motion of a body within time is the same as those of a body within space. One can not move laterally in time, except possibly on the quantum level if bi-location is what I believe it to be. Clearly, we do not have any experimentally recorded evidence of backward motion in time.

    I believe, however, that time has a dynamic effect on space and it is possible for space to have sucn an effect on time. These effects would be identified as forces. Also, I can not argue that time is a function of energy or some interplay between forces or quantum particles. Time is fluid. I believe it can fold, loop, and act in many different ways. Space, however, is not as fluid as time. Space is close to the rubber sheet analogy of Hawking's. Time... time is independent of this. It can have an apparent reaction to physical objects, gravitational forces, and space. The apparent effects observes are due to the interactions between space, matter and the forces at play. Time, however, is not impacted, the measurement device (matter) is.

    What is needed is a method to observe (or measure) time with a method not influenced by forces that act on space and matter. The photon cloc is the beginning of an appropriate device, with the exception of one thing. A proton has mass, a very small mass, but there is mass. I suspect that if corrections were made for all the Lorenz contractions and the impact of said contraction of mass on the wave form of the photon, one could develop a clock that is dependant on pure energy.

    Originally published on Livejournal on 3/25/2006

    Book Review: In Our Time, a Memoir of A Revolution

    I have been reading a book titled In Our Time: A Memoir Of A Revolution, written by Susan Brownmiller. As I have read this book, I find myself inspired by their activism and the explosive energy of their movement. I also find myself disagreeing with some of their political views and thinking that some of their focus was/is in the wrong areas and that these activists have ignored the major needs of women. Women's Liberation and Feminism are not the same thing, I recognize this. As I learn more about these movements through my research, this book, and the information I'm given by my instructors, I find that I have more to think about.

    Brownmiller's prologue and her first chapter, entitled The Founders, was both interesting and educational. I enjoyed how she provided character sketches and her warm, intimate style. The way that she transitions from this seemingly personal introduction into the nuts and bolts of the movement makes it feel as though you're sitting in conversation with her. She raises several very interesting and valid points, suggesting that the needs and the social status of women has been ignored for far too long. In the lingering after effects of these movements, I think that we've reverted back to that same state of ignoring women.

    I find myself asking, where has the Women's Liberation movement served to liberate us? It seems to me at this point in time to have given us a state of confusion. This state of confusion is questions of our status in society, the validity of our needs and experiences, and what our roles are in society. The blank response from the government makes sense, because the government can not really influence social issues. These issues... they're social, not legal. Women's Liberation and Feminism did act to present solutions to some of the legal issues that were an outgrowth of these confusing and painful problems that we women face. I can't help but ask, however, are we truly better off then we were at the beginning of the Women's Liberation movement?

    I can't help but wonder, if the Women's Liberation movement acted to raise the consciousness of the nation and the world to the needs of women, then why are we still blamed when we're victimized? Why are we still treated as though we're second-class humans (or worse, depending on where you are in the world)? This is but a small part of the problems that still haunt us, and in many respects the highly militant activism of various groups in Women's Liberation seems to have presented additional blockages. Now, when women gather to discuss women's issues, we find ourselves quick to shoot down our activism or our anger at various issues because we don't want to make waves and there by make things worse for ourselves. The fear of being labeled a feminist is so great that we police ourselves for any slight deviation from the role that we're expected to have.

    This fear has killed the activist spirit of the Women's Liberation movement. And it was fermenting within the movement, from what I can see thus far in Brownmiller's book. They didn't focus on the fundamental issues, the core perspectives at the base of these surface issues. These women worked to ban pornography, not to challenge the attitudes behind it. Where did these women challenge the social view that nudity was forbidden and that the human body was some how impure, the woman's especially? Where did these women challenge the cultural attitudes that said it was alright to degrade women and to hold them down because they were some how flawed for being born female? The attack on pornography could have been a start to that, possibly even the attacks on advertising that encourage this attitude. But the focus shifted and became heavily suggestive of the superiority of women.

    The abortion issue looks like the culminating point for this. As I've been reading about it in this book, I find the wide range of views all unified by one thing. That single unifying point is that women are superior because we can give birth. The sexual physiology of women is the most visible aspect of their feminity, but this is just ridiculous. They claim to be experts, but how can they be if the ignorance of their bodies is encouraged? How can they claim to know the value of their sexuality if they continue to insist that there's something wrong with the acts of sexuality? It troubles me to see this under current in a movement that I once thought had resulted in the abilities that I now have to attend college and be successful in the workplace. Where Brownmiller's work would have been inspiring, I find that it doesn't so much fill me with a sense of wonder for their successes, so much as it fills me with anger. The glaring points where the feminists ignored the vital issues and continued their pet projects, the points where the Women's Liberation movement backed off of some major issues after making some form of minor success, and how there is a high handed air of superiority by virtue of their sex angers me.

    This post originally published on Livejournal on 3/5/2006. Text presented exactly as it was on LJ.

    Monday, June 26, 2017

    Mild rant: Writing schedule?

    Hi everybody!

    It's me, your favorite procrastinator writer at large and I have another confession to make. Since school went on summer break last week, my writing schedule has been shot to the outer darkness if not worse. I am trying to juggle kids and activities for them, my typical household stuff, and my own appointments and whatnot. It is really frustrating me. I have been trying to ascertain just what the best solution is to this matter.

    It is somewhat sobering to realize that last year when I was doing all the things at the same time, I was clearly in the grip of mania (or is it hypomania, it's hard for me to understand the difference in the terms). At the time, I just thought 'hey, I can finally do stuff like I was before I got sick.' and laughed off my therapist at the time's amazed response that I was doing ALL THE THINGS. Now, however, I am realizing that I need to schedule things. That is proving a lot more challenging than I anticipated.

    I still have that bullet journal I started. I also have the planning stuff that I started before. My piles of planning materials, however, are not equating to getting planning done or acting on that planning. I know some of my problem is the fact that there has been a major household shift in how our days go. And I know that some of my problem is the fact that I am still dealing with a depressive episode. (I am contemplating attempting to write 'emo poetry' in an attempt to break this creative block. It is warring with the thoughts of just doing pages in a coloring book. Sloth is presently winning this whole rage and nothing is getting done except for my anxiety knitting - a mitered square washcloth that I'm not sure I am doing correctly but can't tell until I have it off the needles.)

    Something's got to give if I am going to make any forward progress here. I just can't figure out what.

    Anybody else in the writing world dealing with tricky schedule problems? I'm trying not to sacrifice my time with my husband at the end of the day and not to drop any balls I've got in the air during the day with the kids. I'm stumped. Any suggestions? (I'd consider boarding school but I don't think that would work out well for anyone involved. LOL)

    Friday, June 23, 2017

    Book Review: The Heart of Buddha's Teaching (Dec. 2002 entry)

    Title: The Heart of the Buddah's Teaching
    Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
    Publisher: Broadway Books Date: 1999

    The easy demeanor of the author makes this very plesant to read. The introduction is quite... different from what I expected. Thich Nhat Hanh presents the basic beliefs of Budhisim as a more life affirming view then many other authors. Very interesting... also, this is an easy read with the structure and choices of font.

    The first truth of Buddhism is that al life is suffering. Thich Nhat Hanh expresses this bleak concept differently from the general expression I've encountered. he states that suffering is an inheirant part of life and should be welcomed as such. He also speaks strongly of being aware of the absence of suffering. The practice of Right Mindfulness, as the author describes it, could be beneficial to me. Simply, the author asvises the reader to be aware of the present. I beleive that he makes a very good point in stating that wea are all too frequently inattentive to what we are doing due to our thoughts being elsewhere.

    I believe if I apply the practice of Right Mindfulness and I practice it with diligance that it can be of some psychological good to me. Many of the meditative practices that are used in the world's religions have multiple benefits. Some are physical and others are psychological. It is true, those who are in clergy must act as healers in all area of the parishioner's lives.

    There are other practices that I just think are being over simplified, but the practices of Right action dosen't appear to be one. Looking honestly at what the author has been presenting, I'd have to argue that there are three major themes. Compassion, responciblitie, and benevolance are what comes to mind as the major themes. At the same time, I am beginning to have a sense of the nihilisim crisis in the text.

    I'm just going to have to see if more appears in this. If this proves to be turning into the sterotypical "Life is an illusion, we must trancend this illusion to the reality of non-being," I'm not going to read more.

    My concern seems to be justified. The author is becoming icnreasingly focused on the concept that reality is as we percieve it and our perceptions are flawed because they are perceptions. I can't accept that. There is a base concept of reality that we all operate in. This is not a perception or something of an illusion. It is fact.

    [Note: I realize now that concept, in the last sentance isn't the best word to use. But I suspect that you get the idea I'm trying to present.]

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    This is the first of a list of posts that are going to be transferred over from my LiveJournal. I am going to be shutting down that blog when I complete transferring stuff. Please forgive massive typos and grammatical errors. I'm debating starting another blog where I can put this. I'm not decided on it yet. While the typos make me twitch, I am going to leave them there, as it is part of the original text. The post here was uploaded to my LiveJournal March of 2006. It was written in my paper reading journal in 2002.)