PW on Survivor

GREAT review of Survivor from Publisher’s Weekly! Congrats to the authors mentioned, and to all of them, really!

“In this potent but uneven anthology, 17 authors tackle the themes of trauma and survival as interpreted through various science fiction and fantasy settings and tropes. “One thing our genre has always excelled at is offering a different lens, a startling angle of vision, a new perspective,” Mohanraj (The Stars Change) writes in her introduction. The sources of trauma are familiar, however, including physical and sexual abuse, addiction, bigotry, and grief. Standout stories include Tonya Liburd‘s “A Stitch in Time,” in which a young man uses his gift of time travel to relive moments with his deceased girlfriend only to sink into an addictive pattern, and Evey Brett’s “Fell Child,” in which a dutiful son makes sacrifices in order to save his dying father before discovering the cure isn’t worth the cost. In Erik Gern‘s “Mold,” grown children must confront the physical manifestation of their abusive father’s lingering legacy. Jes Rausch’s “The Art of Quilting” sees a nonbinary individual constantly traveling across the solar system to escape their oppressive, intolerant family. Many of the tales take literary or experimental approaches, and both prose and content will challenge the reader, but each survivor’s struggle and triumph is worth the effort.”


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First day finally back on the novel, kids about to come back from camp, 1500 words done. That feels pretty pathetic, since it’s about 1.5 hours of actual writing + lots of procrastinating during the 6 hours they were away. But trying not to be disheartened; it will take some time to get back into the deep mindset of this book. Hopefully it’ll go faster then.
Taking a break to cook, hang with them, clean, etc. May try and knock out another scene this evening. Feeling summer slipping away remarkably fast — we’re at roughly the halfway point right now, but we’ll be visiting Kev’s parents for two weeks, and while I’m hoping to write through that time, I know some days will be less productive than they would be here. (Less productive of writing, more productive of family bonding, you know what I mean).
There’s a weird, mild panic that comes at the midpoint of summer for academics, when you’re not as far along in your research / writing as you’d hoped; Kevin and I both look at each other with this strained expression on our faces. Summer can’t last forever.
The students are coming.
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Plot and Scene

So, completely failed to work on novel yesterday. I stressed about it all day, though, and got all kinds of other stuff done in my procrastination, so that’s something?

Went to bed early, slept long, woke refreshed. Opened up the file and skimmed the last section over (prevented from FB-ing by having set a program the night before), also the notes I made for the rest of the book. I’m about 30K words in, and I clearly have enough notes for at least a trilogy, so I think the next thing to do is actually not diving into writing, but outlining the next section or two. Time to generate some plot + scenes. Surely I remember how to do that…if I get stuck, though, I have notes from the WisCon workshop of this first third of novel, and I can start by revising to incorporate those notes. (Big problem in first 10K of book is all the characterization is weak. It gets better as you go, but I need to go back and fix the earlier stuff, when everyone is a little bit cardboard.)

Fed myself and child, went out and did half an hour of weeding before it got too hot. Came back in, checked FB (timer had gone off) and then there was some chaos getting Kavi everything she needed to take to camp with her so she wouldn’t be bored (sewing supplies for little bag project, HP book, plus a water bottle because she got dehydrated playing in the sun yesterday). Anand took his new Beyblade, which is apparently the hot thing for his friends at this camp right now. He’s also planning to make some Lego stop-motion animations.

Now Chris is running the kids to camp, and I’m going to water a couple transplanted plants I’m worried about, and then settle down to novel-ing. Turning off FB for the morning; will check back in at lunchtime, let you know how I did.

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Okay, finished Wild Cards blog post that was overdue, sent it off to George for approval. I think I’m finally ready to dive into the novel — but I don’t wanna. It’s scary. If I don’t try, I can’t fail. It’s easier to make desserts; I have no investment in cookies, and my family will happily gobble up even my rejects. My fingers hurt.

Okay, that last one is a valid excuse to step away from the keyboard for a bit. Going to go have lunch, take a little reading break. But then, come hell or high water, I’m opening the novel file again. So say we all. Or at least me.

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Dishes and such

Anand came and woke me up for breakfast and I said okay go get ready for camp and he said it’s Sunday! and I said oh and he said you forgot it was Sunday and I said yes.

So that’s about my state of mind today — yesterday was a long day with a six hour library strategic planning meeting (went very well, I think, our library staff is awesome & we are going to make our libraries even better next year!) and then a quick sewing job to get my space dress to fit again (borderline, but made it) while watching an episode of Project Runway with Kavi, and then into the city for Mary Robinette’s book launch party. I pretty much fell into bed when I got home and I’m still a little tired / groggy.

But there’s no real plan for today. Taking the day off writing / e-mail, I think, so it’s more of a weekend. Watch tv, read books, cook a little (vegetarian marshmallow experiments, maybe bake rosewater-pistachio cookies before it gets too hot). I told Kavi I’d take her to the fabric store and let her pick something out to work with at camp this week, which means I have to figure out where the closest one is, now that Hancock has closed. But mostly putter and clean — the dishes and laundry are kind of a disaster after a few busy days.

It falls apart so fast if you’d don’t keep on it daily, and while I have an assistant to help now, he’s not here every day. (Even if business grew to a point where I could afford to have him here every weekday, I’m not sure I’d want someone here daily; it’s an interesting balance between getting things done and having someone in our space.) Anyway, time to get the kids to empty the dishwasher…

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Tall Lilies

I can see the tall lilies from the writing shed!  Eventually (maybe two years), I hope to have a lush garden of flowers out that window, something gorgeous to gaze at when I’m stuck on a story (which happens all too often). This fall, I’ll be dividing lots of perennials from the front to fill in back there.

I slept poorly last night for some reason — finally got to bed around 3, instead of my normal 11. So a slow and groggy start today, but I’ve managed to do some formatting of the marshmallow e-book — I just need to develop hopefully acceptable vegetarian and vegan recipes this weekend, then write some notes (like why honey vs. light corn syrup, or vice versa) and an introduction, and it’ll be ready to go. Should set up a pre-order page too, maybe today. Also posted flower photos.

Other items in the queue for today are to write a slightly overdue blog post for Wild Cards (about disability in WC, a tentative stab at a difficult topic, probably more raising some questions than offering any answers, but it’s a step, at least) and hopefully at least a scene or two in one of my Wild Cards stories. I’m almost done with one, just starting the other. On Monday I’m planning to dive deep into the novel again (after six months away), so the next few days are for finishing up little bits and pieces of things, I think. Also dishes left over from the 4th. So many dishes…

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Therapy / ADHD / meditation update

So, you may remember that sometime in spring I started seeing a psychologist. The proximate cause of going was to see whether an ADHD diagnosis might be appropriate.

We did a couple therapy sessions and then she said that she’d be willing to recommend a full testing assessment for me, which I have only now gotten around to scheduling. It’s going to be three 3-hr sessions of testing, which should be covered by my HMO insurance, which means probably a $20 co-pay / hr, so $180 total. Something like that? Will report back with the verdict after the testing; am quite curious.

I saw her weekly for about a month, talking through some of the cancer / work anxiety / family stuff / etc., then switched to biweekly, because I was running out of things to talk about. I’m basically pretty happy these days. At today’s session, we agreed that I’d check back in at the start of August, see if I wanted to continue sessions or not. It was good, talking to a competent stranger about all that, getting a check on my take on things from someone unbiased.

She was most useful, I think, in the interpersonal dynamics aspect, helping me see how other people might be thinking about things, and where I was putting a little too much of my own view of the world on them, if that makes sense. My view of the world is maybe a little more idiosyncratic than most, but I suspect that in general, that’s something we’re all subject to. Interesting to think about.

Another thing I started doing this year was meditation. I signed up for the Headspace app, and did daily meditation for a month. That was really useful, I think, in that it got me to a point, after a month, where I could very quickly feel when I was getting into a stressed-out, unproductive headspace.

Sometimes I actually meditate to pull out of it, often I just switch tasks, take a walk, etc. But it helped me ‘tune in’ to what was going on in my subconscious, which is actually a pretty cool result for 10 minutes / day for a month. I wish we had this as a default part of the elementary school curriculum, because I think we could all use it. Maybe if I run for school board. Although it’s probably simpler just to suggest it to the D97 board or staff…and I bet there’s some stuff like this built into the Second Step curriculum they’re already doing.

Today I scheduled Anand to start therapy, after we get back from California (visiting the in-laws for the second half of July). I’m hoping it’ll help with his new habit of perseverating — when something bad happens, out comes a litany of everything bad that’s happened to him in the last month, and he remembers it all in excruciating detail, poor munchkin. The card game that went awry when someone didn’t play fair, the camp counsellor who wouldn’t let him out of the baby end of the pool, etc. and so on. Hoping they can give him some tools to be able to switch out of that mindset. Also I think it’ll just be good for him to have another adult to listen and validate his emotions, someone who isn’t his parent.

I suspect that if I do keep seeing my therapist, we’ll mostly be talking about parenting strategies. Sometimes it’s bewildering, when Anand is behaving in a way that is so unlike anything I would ever do, and I really am not sure how best to support and help him. Again, wish this sort of help was available to everyone.

Universal healthcare now, please. Raise my taxes if you have to (though if you can tax the billionaires first, that’d be good). And if we include massage therapy as part of it, that would be very nice.

What would a truly healthy, happy society look like?

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Poppy Mallow

After finishing the novella yesterday morning, I planted a bunch of perennials and then basically collapsed for the rest of the day. Writing through the weekend tired me more than I’d realized.

I really do need to get back to Wild Cards today (esp. since the holiday tomorrow is probably going to mean no writing — marching in the parade as an elected official and then hosting a BBQ in classic American tradition). But I may need to work up to the writing.

Reading galleys for Survivor now and sending authors proofing questions (Brooke and Erik, check your e-mails, please), also need to do a solid pass or two on my own e-mail, which I’ve gotten woefully behind on the last few weeks. Again. And then @ 1, hopefully talking to Kay about the SLF fund drive, which reminds me that among my tasks is talking to the Kickstarter Drip people about some issues we’re having with their system.

Okay, yesterday was fun (I watched much Project Runway), but today, head down, back to work. If I make good progress, maybe I’ll reward myself with an hour of playing with soap-making this afternoon. Oh, and I’m going to teach Kat how to play Magic, see if she likes it.

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Novella done

Novella draft, finished. Clicked in at 40,638 words, which is a little long, but I’m sure there will be some cutting and adding still, so I’m not going to worry about getting it under the 40K mark yet. (This is mostly only an issue for Hugo voting, since there’s a firm cut-off between categories there.)

It’s done, it’s done. Feels v. good. Going to go eat lunch and then plant some perennials to celebrate.

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