27 March 2015

all the things

Where were we? The last week has been a confusing muddle of emotions. There's the book, there's my grandmother, and there is the upcoming chaos of Holy Week when you are Anglican and your husband happens to be in the choir. Palm Sunday includes the morning service and an evening dinner to which I am bringing a couple dozen hard-boiled eggs (and I need to check how long to boil them because lately, every time I hard-boil an egg, it comes out soft-boiled, which makes me feel like an idiot). Thursday through Sunday are booked for various services, mostly in the evening, and I have no idea about whether J. is expected to be at the contemplative services earlier in the week.

I got new glasses, which I'm still adjusting to. The slightly different shape of the frames and the unscratched lenses mean that I feel a bit disoriented. Everything is startlingly clear, but the edges of the clear vision are different than what I've been used to for the last five years. The old glasses are getting new, unscratched lenses once we figure out where we want to buy them, and then, for the first time in my life, I'll have a spare set of glasses.

E. is putting garbled syllables together in clumps that sound suspiciously like sentences, which makes the linguist in me very happy, and makes the parent in me frustrated because I still can't understand what she's saying, even if the intonation is spot-on for English sentence structure.

The book has been sent off to several reviewers; I'm half-way convinced they're all going to give it a single star, or no stars whatsoever. And I need to find a few more bloggers willing to review it and I haven't pulled myself together enough to . It's time to get back to work on Book 2, and I'm considering doing a short story project, too, just because. I need the practice; if I'm going to improve as a writer, I'll have to write more. The latest writing project has been a journaling thing that I have no desire to publish, so I need to change gears and work on something else.

We're driving down to Portland in a couple of weeks, so I've been trying to plan ahead for that. I actually found myself buying foundation at Shopper's today. It took ages for me to find the kind I wanted (something that wasn't hideously expensive and that also functioned as sunscreen), and then even longer to find a colour that I think will work. Naturally, none of the testers were in the colour I needed to try. I hope you appreciate that I'm actually going to wear makeup to your memorial, Grandma. You always commented on how nice I looked when I wore it. And now I have to do a few trial runs to ensure I won't look like a raccoon. Sigh. Stage makeup was fun back in high school. Regular makeup has never been fun, except for when Grandma let me play Beauty Parlour in her bathroom with all her makeup, when I was small.

And with that, I'm done for the day. Everything aches and my child is running around wearing nothing but a diaper and a swimsuit top. 


20 March 2015

processing...

This has been a strange week. The kind of strange where I don't really know how to process things anymore.

The week has held big things, and little things. The little things aren't that bad on their own: our bathroom fan broke and our landlord is hunting down a replacement; E. has a cold, and alternates between wanting to wear nothing and wanting to wear seasonally unsuitable things (last night and this morning's pick is a sundress my in-laws bought her last year that now fits. She slept in it. It's raining today, so if she thinks she's wearing it outside...); Facebook pages are harder to navigate than I anticipated (though the book does now have a Facebook page); and I'm not sleeping well, again.

The big things, well, there's the book. I still can't believe I actually did it. Alea iacta est. I'm so paranoid about other people reading the serious things I've written, and I just went ahead and put it up there.

The other thing is at the other end of the spectrum. My grandmother died about a day and a half ago. As I am still at the stage where I am half-expecting my parents to call and say they were mistaken and she's still with us, I don't have a lot to say yet. I have cried, and I have felt numb (mostly that). Her memorial service isn't for a few weeks, so we don't have to pack up and drive the 6-7 hours south on short notice, and I have a sinking feeling that it won't become real until I see my grandfather and realize that my grandmother isn't with him like she always is.

That's about all I can say on the topic at the moment. I doubt I'll write a lengthy post on my grieving process at a later date unless it really feels like something I need to do. It'll work its way out in other writing (there are a few chapters in Book 2 that involve death and grieving; I'll probably find revising those helpful for working things out). In the meantime, I'm trying to keep going, even though pausing everything for a while would be pleasant.

And we still have Holy Week and Easter to get through.

17 March 2015

Comrades We: The Launch

I actually did it. I finished tinkering with a book. You are now able to purchase it here on Amazon or here on Smashwords, or here on Google Play. I am currently trying out the world of online self-publishing, and we will see where it takes me. Please buy it if you are curious and let me know  what you think, good or bad!

Each of the sites it is available on have limited previews available, so you can check it out there. I'll be building it a Facebook page this week, and the page here on the blog for the book will have more stuff added as time goes on. I'm still waiting for Goodreads to hook up my author account, but I've made sure the book is up there as well in case people want to review it on that site.

Comrades We is the adventures of six friends as they grow up, encounter bad stuff, and try to fight their way out.

This is a fantasy novel. There is magic. There are swords. There are mysterious and cryptic gods. There are some really bad guys and there are good guys who are mostly ordinary and trying to do their best. There is knitting and spinning when characters are not practicing swordplay and archery. And if needed, there always tea. There is also more to come, as Comrades We is the first in a trilogy (cue me panicking and realizing that I need to finish writing the middle of the second bit).

Content warning: Some violence and mention of sexual assault. Made-up swear words. Best suited for teenagers and up, probably not for anyone under 12 (unless you happen to be super-mature and have parents who let you read absolutely anything no matter what).


16 March 2015

formatting is tedious, and other woes

I feel a little cross-eyed right now, and the word "chapter" has ceased to hold meaning for the moment. Next book, I plan the formatting more carefully so there's less to fix at the end. Four different versions later, the book has been uploaded to several sites. One is still processing its two different versions, so tomorrow is when I plan to post the official "it's a book" post, assuming the site's finished processing things (if not, I'll post and add links to the site once they are available).

I mostly feel good about the whole thing, but there is definitely some "oh dang it, I just wrote a piece of rubbish and am now trying to sell it" mixed in there. I doubt my book is the best book ever (if such a thing could be calculated), but I don't think it's terrible, either. I've been working on it so long it's hard to tell. Now that I'm done with this one, it's time to start work on the second, which is mostly in pieces. I have a beginning bit, and an ending bit, and then scattered scenes for the middle. Ironically, the third book is more complete than the second one, but there are rather important plot points from book 2 that need to be established before I release book 3. I'd like to release book 2 this fall if I can make it happen. Book 2 will also probably be longer than book 1, which is a short novel (though it appears longer or shorter depending on which ebook version you're looking at).

The high of finally having completed this is tempered by some family stuff that's been happening. This has been something of a good distraction, but I doubt the high will last much more than a few days, since it looks like we'll be making an unscheduled trip to my hometown to visit my family within the next week or two. It's a strange place to be, with lots of conflicting emotions, and we can't afford to just drop everything to go now and say goodbye in person, since two trips down in short succession is too expensive for us at the moment. I'll probably write more about it later, but for now, this is enough. I didn't realize grieving so deeply would be part of the before stage, and I don't want to think about the after yet.

So in the meantime, I'm distracted by the book, but still waiting for the phone call that will signal a very large change in my family.

10 March 2015

Book Review: Vegetarian for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

Note: As is usual for me, this is primarily a collection of musings about and reactions to a book, rather than a formal book review. I received no compensation for this post; I just read the book and liked it enough to want to write something about it. 

Liana Krissoff of Pie and Beer has written five cookbooks. I`ve gotten my hands on two of them so far. I own a copy of Canning for a New Generation, and the copy of Vegetarian for a New Generation that I currently have out from the library is due for a second renewal soon. The local library doesn`t have Whole Grains for a New Generation, but, based on my experience with Canning and Vegetarian, I may just go ahead and buy it. More information about her books is available here.

This particular post is about my recent love affair with Vegetarian for a New Generation. I`ve been making a lot of recipes from the book ever since I checked it out of the library last month, and only one has been disappointing (and I think that may have been partly cook`s error--I didn`t get an acorn squash cooked all the way through). Thalia's Cabbage Soup has been a repeat already because it was so good, and the roasted stuffed eggplant got many thumbs up when I served it when J.'s siblings came over for dinner the other weekend.

One of the book's features is that all of the recipes are gluten-free. We aren't gluten-free ourselves, but we have friends and family who are, and it's nice to know that I can rummage through this book and find something that works for them (one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks is rather heavy on the gluten, so this makes a nice contrast). Quite a few of the recipes are also vegan, which is another bonus. One of our friends is gluten-free and her husband is lactose-intolerant, so when they come over for dinner, planning requires a bit of thought.

There are a few odd typos in the book. The introduction has one that looks like a page reference was supposed to be programmed in and the word processing program missed it out. Other than that, though, it's fantastic, and definitely worth your time. I'm probably buying my own copy once I have to return it to the library.

yoga and my brain

Lately I've been making the attempt to go to weekly yoga classes, and to continue to practice at home. Since the practice at home is frequently interrupted by a toddler who wants to help me stretch by sitting on me, I have to say that the classes at the yoga studio are far more helpful to my mental state. I was extremely out of sorts yesterday and had to make myself go to class, but once I'd settled into shavasana for a while to prepare myself for class, the tension started to drain away. By the end of the hour, I was in a much better frame of mind.

It's true that exercise in general does seem to help my moods. We went on our first bike ride of the season last weekend, and it was a definite mood-lifter. Even a brisk walk helps. Getting outside, even if it's raining, does something to help, even if the hot summer sunshine we'll be getting in a few months is going to throw me for another loop and I'll have to moderate between sun/heat exposure and the need for exercise.

A great deal of yoga is about quieting your mind, and that's the challenge for me. My mind doesn't like to shut up. I have a rich and varied inner life that includes lots of making up stories to tell myself when I'm bored. Turning that off is hard, since I've been doing that most of my life. Sure, it sometimes gets out of hand, like the time the other week when I woke up at three in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep for an hour because I was freaking out about something and couldn't get my mind to stop.

I probably should have gotten up, picked an asana, and worked on my breathing. That does actually seem to help. Next time.

In the meantime, I try to practice daily, and hope that my toddler lets me get through a few poses before she decides it's time to sit on my head and smother me.

08 March 2015

news

I've been posting sporadically on odd topics lately. I think the last one was about my state of mind, which wasn't exactly inspiring at the time. However, I have been writing, just not for the blog, and most of it has technically been editing.

Lo, these many years ago, I began writing a novel. I was twelve. Or maybe thirteen. I'd gotten through a poorly written, overly dramatic short story, borrowed a few characters from there, changed their names, made them minor characters, and embarked on a grand epic tale. I wrote and wrote and monopolized my parents' computer for typing to the point where my dad finally put one together for me out of spare parts. My grand epic, book one, finished around the 250 page mark. Single-spaced. It was big and messy and full of contradictions, and I moved on to book two. Book two was bizarre and otherworldly and definitely influenced by the fact that, I, as a high school student, was seeing my country plunge itself into a couple of wars that I felt were ill-advised, even if I was too young to understand all the implications (I still think they were ill-advised, but now I think most, if not all, war is ill-advised).

After I finished a draft of book two, I continued to write into book three, which was much less weird. Then I wrote other things, including bits and pieces of related stories in the same universe, and took a step back from tinkering with the main trilogy for a while. For years, really (there was university and marriage and grad school and then there was a baby. In the midst of all that, I did end up wandering back to the trilogy). When I went back to the first book, I looked at it, shook my head, and started to chop things out. I ended up scrapping book two almost entirely (just too weird and didn't work with the rest of the world), and dividing the first book in half. The second half, with much editing, became what will be book two of the trilogy. I've been working mostly on the first book lately.

I did investigate getting it published and after a rejection, some more research, my reluctance to deal with the hassle of trying to get an agent to notice me without much work behind me yet, and the advice of an acquaintance in publishing, I eventually decided to go the self-published e-book route for the moment. It feels like the right step for now, and I'm certainly willing to give traditional publishing a try sometime in the future.

Recently, when working through edits on the book, I realized that I was fairly happy about most of it and decided it was time to set a date. I looked at the calendar, looked at what I had left to do, including reformatting it so it would work as an e-book, and picked a day.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, my first novel, Comrades We, will be going up for sale online on March 17, 2015. It's a fantasy novel, and there will be more information available in about a week. Wish me luck! I may be crazy. Or not.