Pre-Orders Open for Whether Change

Delighted to note that pre-orders are now open for _Whether Change: The Revolution Will Be Weird_, including my story, “Wake,” about Black Lives Matter and the pandemic and magical creatures and marriage and raising mixed race kids and living in Oak Park and….

https://www.brokeneyebooks.com/store/c45/Whether_Change.html

The Easiest Choice

I woke up and finished reading a Courtney Milan novella, and had scones with butter and coffee and meds and I’ve decided to work in the basement today, so have moved all my digital stuff down here, and all that is good….but I’m now feeling a sort of frantic paralysis at all the things that I could be doing, and of course, I can’t do ALL of them today, and I certainly can’t do all of them at once… gah.

Lists, Mary Anne. You know the solution to this problem. Do not sit around feeling paralyzed, do NOT start reading another delicious novel even though that is by far the easiest choice. Take all your multitudinous lists and pick a few things from each for today’s list. Okay, go:

MUST DO TODAY:
– prep for this week’s classes (3 hrs, reading criticism, choosing material for students to read, writing up weekly lesson plan) — DONE
– read and critique Emmanuel Henderson’s story when he sends it to me
– pot up a few plants that need it, or at least water the poor things — DONE

– exercise

SERENDIB KITCHEN:
– finalize items for Valentine’s sale and send to Stephanie Bailey, so she can get order page ready — DONE
– write up and post recipe for mango-passionfruit curd — DONE
– write up and post recipe for mango-passionfruit ice cream — DONE
– write up and post recipe for mango-ginger cream scones
– try making vegan mango-ginger scones for Vegan Serendib

– try making vegan roasted squash with roasted cashews, coconut milk drizzle and micro greens for Vegan Serendib (not a traditional Sri Lankan recipe, but I figure we can have a few fun variations in here)

WRITING:
– finish revising “Hush” (should be quick, not much to do) and send to Jed for his thoughts — DONE
– draw map of Jump Space system

– publicize pre-order link for _Whether Change: The Revolution Will Be Weird_ (https://www.brokeneyebooks.com/store/c45/Whether_Change.html) — DONE

TEXTILE:
– try sewing a new mask pattern, so I can offer it for sale if I like it
– finish sewing silk pajama top in “Starry Woods” for myself
– add Kavi’s “Heartplanets” to Spoonflower fabric
– keep working with Kavi on revising “Heartflowers” design (we still love this image, but trying some variations on it) — DONE

– start drafting something for Spoonflower’s next challenge (damask)

HOUSEHOLD:
– put away clean laundry from yesterday

– clear up one more area of the house — DONE (garden potting area)

Okay. A plan. It’s good to have a plan. A little writing, a little gardening, a little sewing, a little cooking, a little drawing, a little teaching, a little cleaning. It’s all good. Breathe, Mary Anne.

Mapping the Galaxy

I spent a while on mapping the galaxy in my “Jump Space” stories just now, and realized something I hadn’t thought about before — because there’s not faster-than-light travel in my universe yet, planets are connected only by wormholes, which don’t generally seem to have any connection to physical proximity.

Which means that if any species ever does develop FTL, that suddenly changes the map of the galaxy. Your worst enemy (through the wormholes) might suddenly be right next door in physical space.

And if FTL ever gets faster than wormhole travel, then everything really changes. Fun.

I’m supposed to take an hour to clean with the kids now, but after that, I think I’m going to try drawing a map. 🙂 Now, what color should the human-settled worlds be?

[image by Jack Kotz, of the University of All Worlds, on Kriti, one of Earth’s granddaughter planets (two jump points away)]

In Theory, but in Practice

In theory, I’m co-writing right now, but in practice, I’m dealing with e-mails, and that’s fine, that needs to be done too. I’m still hoping to get to some writing today — I’d ideally like to knock off the revisions on “Hush” and send it off to Jed for the Jump Space anthology.

*****

Other things I’ve worked on so far:

• packed up some mango-passionfruit curd and mango-ginger cream scones for a friend (recipes later today, probably)

• sorted out some more financial stuff for the SLF (we’re trying to send grant money to a writer in Nigeria, and it’s more complicated than you would think because of various legal aspects, but I think Western Union is going to take care of it

• started thinking about what should go on my D200 school board candidate website

• written to a bookkeeper and a graphics person to see if they’re available to do some work for the campaign

• checked on when you’ll be able to pre-order the anthology my BLM / pandemic story will be in (soon!)

*****

Not a bad start for a Saturday morning. Plans for the rest of the day after co-writing:

• spend one hour with the family on straightening up the second floor

• see if I can talk anyone into playing a new board game with me

• write to people to see if any of them are willing to be Zoom-recorded doing a “Jump Space: Event Planners!” RPG play through, so we can show people what this kind of thing looks like (if this might be you, let me know! I’d be happy to run a few games of this — no RPG experienced needed, but it’s a 3 hr commitment)

• do my laundry

• post recipes

• try making a new recipe for Vegan Serendib (yes, we’re finally back to recipe-testing, woot!)

• work on some art with Kavi

• keep reading a Courtney Milan romance

Nice Saturday!

I Made a Game!

WHAT IS IT?

Jump Space: Event Planners! is a 3-6 player sci-fi RPG (role-playing game) set several decades in the future, in a universe connected by wormholes and populated with aliens, genetically modified humans, artificial intelligences, and more. The story follows a group of entertainers based on a small spaceship, a group that’s also something of a found family. There are several roles for players to choose from (as well as room to create new roles), such as master chef, horticulturist, musician, and engineer / pilot, all of which might be useful as you attempt to keep your little business afloat in a complicated universe (with war threatening in the background).

Based on my Jump Space universe, from _The Stars Change_ and accompanying short stories (https://maryannemohanraj.com/science-fiction-fantasy/).

HOW DO YOU PLAY?

• RPGs are collaborative storytelling, in this case, using a few pages of background material and structural suggestions to help get the conversation started. They work well in person, or over Zoom!

• This game will typically run 2-3 hours, though you can break that up into two to three 45-minute ‘episodes’ if you’d like (plus about 15 minutes at the beginning for reading the game and creating your characters)

• No previous RPG experience is needed to play, although if one person in the group has played an RPG before (or watched a video of one), it’ll probably help. One person may serve as game master, though experienced players may be able to manage without one entirely. No dice required!

• This game can be adapted for play with children, and in fact, you are encouraged to have child characters as part of your spaceship’s crew, as they can make running a business a bit more challenging (and fun!).

• You can also take the game in a more adult direction, and explore the possibilities of romance among crewmates…

HOW DO I GET IT?

There are many stories to tell, much to do, and much to create in Jump Space: Event Planners!

If any of the above interests you, head to my Patreon (www.patreon.com/mohanraj). Subscribe at the $3 / month tier (or higher) to get a digital copy of the game; every two months, I’m planning to drop a new adventure in this universe, set on another planet. (Eventually, we may run a Kickstarter to fund a print edition of the game, but for 2021, it’s digital only.)

There is much still to explore; the galaxy is vast!

Oh to Be an Early Bird Again

My dad called early this morning, waking me up (he’s an early bird, and I used to be too, so it’s not his fault for assuming I’d be up, just to be clear — I’d like to be an early bird again!), but since I was up, I figured that was really the universe telling me that yes, I wanted to throw on some long underwear and brave the cold (and snow!) to get my kids some rainbow bagels, just to prove what a nice mom I am. Happy Friday!

It’s National Bagel Day, and the The Daly Bagel is offering rainbow bagels in celebration, while supplies last. Any parent who’s made a rainbow cake knows that it’s basically 7 times as much work as a regular cake, and rainbow bagels are the same, but oh, they really are pretty charming, especially when you cut them open and the vibrant colors really pop!

The line wasn’t too long (and I was plenty warm with my long underwear, regular clothes, and a jacket), and I ended up having a fifteen minute conversation with the guy behind me about local politics, so that was fun.

We started out talking about the schools and distancing with the hybrid model — he works for another park district that’s been doing aftercare, so there some concrete things to discuss and commiserate over. Hard decisions to be made, weighing lots of complex factors.

Then I got to fill him in on some what’s been going on with the local village board elections, such as the incredibly frustrating petition challenges that Chibuike Enyia and Anthony Clark
have had to deal with, the fact that village trustee and village president candidate Moroney chose to go on a white supremacist talk show, which led to threats against trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla, etc.

I think that’s one vote Moroney won’t be getting, based on his response, so a good reminder that it’s really worth having these conversations in the community, and I suspect standing in line waiting to get into socially distanced stores is going to be part of local politics this spring. I admit, it was also so nice talking to another person, IN PERSON, which I think I haven’t done outside my family in a month or so, I may have been speaking a little too enthusiastically and a little too fast. He didn’t seem to mind, though.

Anyway — I’m home again now, with whitefish spread and their pickled red onions on my own open-face sesame bagel, a delicious and healthy breakfast that I feel I earned. 🙂 The rest of the day is basically e-mail, teaching, etc. but with little breaks for garden and cooking stuff, I think! We’ve also started setting up my campaign website (I’d hoped to have it up by today, but I think Monday is more realistic), and I am going to try to write up and/or record some political stuff sometime soon.

And oh, we’ll be adding the Jump Space RPG to Patreon today, so more on that soon!

I will NOT go bury myself in reading Courtney Milan novels, as tempting as that is. Not until after 5 p.m., anyway!

The Question Is Timing

Spent a little while just now looking at possible conventions for this year. If we have widespread immunization, even (dare I think it) sufficient numbers for herd immunity, or at least R dropping to below 1, AND I’m immunized, I think I’ll be comfortable going to cons again. The question is timing, really.

I’m sad about ICFA and WisCon, my two regular cons, March and May, but will not be attending in person (ICFA is virtual only this year, not sure what WisCon is doing.

• mid-July is RWA — that seems very uncertain to me
• mid-October is Big Bad Con (Bay Area, indie and tabletop gaming) — maybe?

• early November is World Fantasy (Montreal) — hopefully yes, right? I’d really love to go to this

What are y’all’s thoughts on conventions this coming year?

We Have a Slack

UIC faculty, we now have a Slack. Woot! I know, most of you probably aren’t interested, but I spend a lot of time on Slack these days, and I find it works pretty well for staying in touch with community. Better than all the things that get lost in my e-mail…

I’d personally love to have a centralized location where I can go to ask random questions, like, “Hey, is Blackboard down again, or is it just me…?” and “When exactly are we expecting faculty to be vaccinated?” (They’re doing quite a lot on the health campus right now, of course, which is great.)

So if you’re interested, let me know, I’ll send you the invite. 🙂