Embracing 2017

So 2016 was a hard year on me, both on a global and a personal level. Because of that, I didn’t get a lot of writing done, didn’t accomplish many of the goals I set out for myself. I pretty much hunkered down and practiced a lot of self-care and cuddled pets and friends’ babies and did everything I could to keep my heart open and beating and soft.

But 2017 has started, for me, with clearer and stronger intent than any year before. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but for the first time in a long time I feel energized and ready to do it. More than that, I can’t wait do do it.

I’m not expecting this year to be an easy one, by any means, but I’m going to make it a joyful one. I’m going to spend it being more of what I want to be and less of what I don’t want to be. I’m going to get off my phone, go back to using the internet as a tool rather than as a numbing device, and finally stop making excuses for my writing.

It’s taken me a lot of growth to get to this point, to go from wanting to being ready and willing to be genuinely myself and take hold of my power. To decide to be accountable for each and every day. That’s what I want this year to be. That’s how it is going to be.

I feel like last year was the recoil before the pitch. There’s going to be a lot of forward-movement from here on out.

Books Are For Lovers

A friend sent me an email yesterday linking me to an article in the New York Times called “The Bookstore’s Last Stand.” It’s talking about how Barnes and Noble is the last brick-and-mortar chain that readily has a large selection of books available for people to come in, browse, and buy. About how the Nook is a way that B&N has tried to compete with Amazon, and how the company is even starting a new line of stores where there is nothing but digital content for Nooks being sold. But the fact is, Amazon has lower prices, and even a big chain like Barnes & Noble is losing ground to them more and more every day. You all know what happened to Borders, after all..

The bookstore’s last stand, indeed.

I knew of course, that most of this was true before I even read the article, but it still hit me deeply. After all, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I still hope to see my books out there someday, and yes, I hope to see them in print. That’s been my dream all along, not to see my book on a million digital screens, but to hold it in person, smell the pages and the ink and my own name right there on the cover.

Besides that, I love, love, love bookstores. I can spend hours in a bookstore, just looking at the spines of these lovely, literary friends and finding new authors and stories to delve into. Just being around stacks and shelves full of books makes me feel like I’m walking through a world of endless possibility. Because really, anything is possible in a book. And because I’ve spent my whole life loving books, I love everything about them—the design, the fonts used for the titles, and did I mention the smell of the pages? Oh, I did?

So I thought maybe we, as readers, should be taking a stand, too. It’s time we show our bookstores some love.

And hey… look at what time of year it is. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, the day meant especially for love. No matter how you feel about V-day, we all love books, right?

So here’s my proposition: If you’re a book lover, if you’re a supporter of the written word, if you’re an author or hope to be one someday—Buy a book on February 14th.

Really, it’s that simple. I know times are tough—they’re tough for me, too. I think it’s time we tell the book industry that we like having brick-and-mortars around, though.

So do this for me, will you? Go into a real bookstore. A brick-and-mortar. It doesn’t have to be Barnes & Noble—if you have an Indie bookseller nearby you, all the better! (No Indies near me, sadly!) Support the local selling of books in a hardformat. Even if you LOVE your Nook/Kindle/Kobo/whathaveyou.

If you absolutely have to buy online, buy through IndieBound (which will connect you to an Indie seller) or through BarnesandNoble.com. But really, I’d like for this to be about supporting brick-and-mortar stores, if we can.

(If you want more reasons not to buy through Amazon, if you can help it, here’s an article on how shopping at Amazon steals from your local economy. )

So how about we make this an official movement? How about we show some support to brick & mortars all around.

Just to be clear on this, this isn’t a competition or a contest. I’m getting nothing out of this. It’s simply an invitation to support your local brick-and-mortar bookstore! Don’t do it for me! Do it for them!

And hey, spread the word! Grab a graffic, blog, tweet! Use a #booksareforlovers hashtag! Let’s see if we can get this to be a worldwide thing!

What do you all think? Think we can do this? Are YOU willing to share some book love this Valentine’s Day?


Edited to add: Now we have a facebook events page! Go sign up and invite your friends!

Tuesday Talk: The Art of the Possible

- G.K. Chesterton

My title comes from a song in Evita, which calls “politics” the art of the possible. I think writing is really the art of the possible, though. Even if we like to slip into impossible once in a while. Because really, we deal in possibility. If _______ happens, what could possibly be the result?

What would it be like if an elven-year-old boy got a letter saying he was really a wizard? If a teenage girl saw her younger sister picked to fight to the death? If a boy turned into a wolf when the weather got cold?

Maybe these things aren’t likely to happen—but that’s not the point. The point is, in order for fiction to work, the reaction has to be real. The consequences have to ring true. Every character, every place, every society has to have an echo of truth to it, or it will not read as true. It will not hit home for the reader with the force that it’s supposed to. Science fiction has to be based on science. Fiction has to be based on fact.

Now, I’m not saying that all books have to be autobiographical, of course, but that people can tell the difference between something a writer understands, and something they’re just hoping will sound good. Someone who’s experienced pain and loss can tell if your character is really feeling pain and loss, or if you’re just hoping they’ll take your word for it. Someone who’s fallen head-over-heels in love will know if the connection between your main characters is there, or if you’re only hoping that it is.

There’s a reason why people say write what you know, and a reason why they say that writing is like opening a vein—people want stories that feel lived, because each of your readers have lived, and they want to feel like your book is another life they can slip into. Whether that new life is something familiar to them or something they can only dream about doesn’t really matter. It just has to feel possible.

Does your book offer that?

Tuesday Talk: Banned Books Meme

The last week in September is Banned Books week, so I’m doing a little meme, which you can find under the cut.

Looking at this list, I don’t feel like a very controversial reader…. and the italics I have to blame mainly on my being once upon a time a very over-ambitious and yet equally impatient reader as a child. I’m an extremely patient reader now—Turgenev and Trollope will do that to you—but I am as yet not quite over my post-college, Wee, read whatever I want! phase. And I have to admit, I’m more interested in ye olde classics (like Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, whathaveyou) than I am in a lot of American classics, which this list seems to be mainly compiled of… but hey, to each his own. That’s what this week is all about, after all.

Look through this list of banned books. If you have read the whole book, bold it. If you have read part of the book, italicize it. I’m placing a * next to ones I read because they were required by a school or college class.

Continue reading

Tuesday Talk – When Too Much is Too Much

I spent all day Sunday knitting. No, not the above, mine is a secret for a friend, that’s just a picture gakked from here. Really, when I say I spent all day knitting, I mean I spent about six or seven hours knitting, with a break for dinner. It’s my own fault… I act as if my friends’ birthdays sneak up on me or hide when they are from me, when really every year I have a year to prepare… and I don’t.

I ended up really pleased with the knitting I got done, but I also ended up freaking out when I finally put the knitting down and went to bed.

Why, you ask?

Because both of my ring fingers had gone dead numb. Actually, it was worse than numb. They were simultaneously numb and feeling ultra-bruised. I shook my hands out and rubbed my fingers and stretched my hands and arms, but by the time I fell asleep, my ring fingers were still both numb. I had a pretty good idea what was wrong with me, but that didn’t stop me from being scared to death of it. Everything I do—everything I do—I do with my hands. I actually said to my husband that I can’t lose my hands.

I looked it up the next morning, and as I’d feared, it looks like I’m starting to develop RSS—Repetitive Stress Syndrome. Basically this means that if I don’t slow down and take breaks when I’m doing a lot of knitting—or typing, or doing anything repetitive—I could develop carpel tunnel syndrome like that.

I’m frustrated, because I don’t even knit that much. It’s just that when I do, I like to do it for hours. And now I can’t, really.

So my plan is to a fairly basic one. Firstly, pay more attention to my hands. They do a lot for me, these lovely little things, and I need to treat them better, notice when they start hurting, etc. Secondly, I need to actually plan my crafting out in advance. This knitting project is simple and can be finished in a matter of hours… but if I plan things out, I can make something a lot nicer, and actually have it done on time (this one will still be late!).

I’m also realizing that knitting is by far not my only problem. Typing and handwriting are two big things that I do all the time. All. The. Time.

So I have to figure out my writing time a little better, too. I have to be more economical with my time, for one thing, and with what I do with my hands.

And I’m going to try and do the dishes more. Like, after every meal instead of after a day and a half. Because soaking my hands in warm water is something that all my research has suggested, and I can’t just sit still and do nothing.

What I can do, though, is take more reading and meditation breaks, though. Who knows… maybe this might help me out with getting more out of both my knitting and my writing than I ever have.

Tuesday Talk – The Eleventh Doctor

For the first time since the inception of the Doctor Donna, I am actually caught up on Doctor Who. I have to admit, there was a long, long time that I thought I just might never watch the new doctor. I loved Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, and I love, love, LOVED David Tennant. In fact, it took me nearly a year and a half just to watch the goodbye episodes with David Tennant, because the idea of him leaving as the Doctor just killed me.

What made me more hesitant about moving on to the Eleventh Doctor, though, was the fact that Russell T. Davies had also left the show. He was the executive producer for the first five series, the driving force behind a lot of the episodes and story arcs that I really loved, and it was his vision of Doctor Who that I’d originally fallen in love with. Stephen Moffat took over with the introduction of Matt Smith as the eleventh doctor. Now, I’d definitely loved some of Moffat’s previous episodes… in fact, his episodes had often listed among my favorites in the Doctor Who canon (the 2005 incarnation, I can’t claim a lot of knowledge of the older Doctors).

But still, I wasn’t ready to give up David Tennant. And so, I couldn’t help but see spoilers of what I was missing with the Eleventh Doctor. C’mon… many of my friends are or have been Whovians. And honestly, I didn’t like what I saw. The bits and pieces of what I’d seen were not the Doctor Who that I had come to know and love. When I rewatched the show from the beginning with my husband, though, we decided that we’d go ahead and give Matt Smith a try.

Guess what? I didn’t like him.

Now, I’d been assured from several people that he would “grow on me.” In fact, those were the exact words of three or four different people. Which was a little odd and disturbing in its own way. Like there had been some subliminal message played in the episodes: he’s growing on you… he’s growing on you… he’s growing on you…

Luckily, I did like the new companion, Amy. Most of the time. Tall, pretty redhead with a Scottish accent, what’s not to like, right?

But the show was so different. It felt—no offense meant by this—like a normal British show. It wasn’t the delightfully cheesy thing I had fallen in love with, with cartoonified plastic enemies and bad-guy aliens that blow up under a wash of vinegar. Lost with all of the cheese was, I felt, a lot of heart. The new episodes were darker. The Doctor didn’t seem like he was in love with the human race anymore—he was much more removed and superior to them. He also acted out of character a lot of the time—running and fighting before trying to talk, not getting upset when something that was the last of its kind was destroyed. These things irked me.

The show also did its best to not refer to anything that had happened in any of the previous Eccleston/Tennant episodes. The transformation from Nine to Ten made it clear that while he was a different man, he was the same Doctor. Here he was entirely changed… not even minor characters made it back into the storyline. I would have enjoyed at least seeing someone random… Sally Sparrow, or someone. I mean, I understand that Moffat wanted to separate his show from Davies’, but for me that meant a lot of hacking away at the continuity of it. People didn’t even remember the daleks? Really? That made me sad…

Now, my fiction-fixing brain wants to put reasons to all of this. Maybe the Doctor simply felt too much in his tenth incarnation. Maybe with these strong attachments to people like Rose and Martha and Donna, the Doctor simply wore himself out, and had to retreat into an incarnation that was much milder in his affections… and in his feelings in general. Maybe becoming someone more removed was a matter of self-preservation.

And I have to admit, I do like Matt Smith now. He has his own quirks and is fun to watch. I just don’t really feel like he’s the Doctor. Not my Doctor. I watch the show now, and I enjoy it, but not without a wistfulness for what it was. The show I loved, really loved, is gone. Now there’s a similar-ish show on that I like more or less. Maybe someday I’ll love it again. We’ll see.