Goals for 2013

W1S1 Year 3 GraphicEach year I like to set myself some concrete goals and share them publicly on my blog. Not only does this give me some sort of vision of what I want to accomplish over the year, it adds a feeling of accountability to help keep me motivated and on track. My goals for 2013 are:

Health

  • Lose 25lbs
  • Successfully complete the P90x program (I’m giving myself permission to swap Cardio X workouts in for Plyometric ones because I worry about my ankle and also, I’m a bit of a wussy)
  • No energy drinks
  • Significantly cut the amount of sugar in my diet. I have a complicated set of rules for this for myself, but I don’t want to bore everyone with sharing them.

School

  • Begin another course (or two) toward my degree no later than April 1st and complete it/them successfully.

Editing/Publishing

  • Sell my cancer anthology idea to a publisher.*
  • Edit the cancer anthology, making sure the end result is something I am proud of.
  • Promote the hell out of the anthology, ensuring that there actually are royalties to donate to charity.
  • Continue to pursue my sekkrit projeckt with CJD
  • Increase Niteblade’s readership and distribution
  • Begin offering Niteblade in more file formats
  • Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
  • Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if sufficient interest exists

Writing

  • Participate in The Whittaker Prize
  • Successfully complete the weekly version of Write 1 Sub 1. For the ‘Write’ portion of this challenge I will count completed short stories or poems as well as individual scenes from longer works. By allowing myself to count individual scenes I will be able to work on longer works and still participate in W1S1
  • Participate in Writo De Mayo
  • NaNoWriMo and both camp NaNoWriMos are all optional
  • Finish writing poems for all the 2012 NovPad prompts
  • Actually successfully complete the AprilPad or NovPad properly, without having to make up prompts after the month has passed
  • Self-publish “Aphanasian Stories”
  • Look into the practicality of bundling and re-releasing some of my previously published short stories as ebooks
  • Follow through on my 2012 plans for my zombie poetry

Reading

  • Read at least 30 books

Misc

  • Participate in A Month of Letters
  • Do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (bonus points if I come up with a theme this year)
  • Blog at least once a week
  • Take a social media retreat for one week a month all year
  • Attend WorldCon 2012 in Texas
  • Post writing prompts/exercises in NaNoLJers on odd numbered Mondays
  • Run and participate in the writing bingo in NaNoLJers
  • Don’t forget that life is for living, not leveling

Phew! I’m kinda exhausted even just looking at that list, exhausted and excited. I’ve set up some real challenges for myself, but if I manage to pull them off imagine how fantastic a year that will be!

*I know I’ve already accomplished this goal, but I hadn’t when I started mentally composing this list and since I achieved this goal in 2013 I’m still putting it on the list. This is not me putting things on here just so I can cross them off.

 

Looking Back at 2012

Rearview -- Photo by Rhonda ParrishIt’s that time of year again, when I look back at the goals I set the year before and create new ones for the year to come. These are not resolutions, I was sorely tempted to begin and end my yearly goals in the middle of summer just to get away from the R word, but it turns out that my desire to be lazy outweighs my desire to be contrary 😉 So here we go, how did I do on reaching my 2012 goals?

For 2012 I wanted to address not just writing, but also editing and schoolwork so I broke my goals up into four categories: Health (because that affects every part of my life), School, Writing and Editing. My specific goals for 2012 were:

Health:

  • Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.

I’m going to call this one successful (hence the bolding ;)) though there is definitely room for debate. I eat when I’m emotional and it’s been an emotional freaking year, but overall, I’m pleased with how I’ve done, not least of all because this year I was able to recognize when I was eating for reasons other than hunger. It’s a small step, but at least it’s in the right direction.

  • No drinking energy drinks

Um, I did pretty well with this at first, and I’m not drinking them now, but there was a period when my sister and niece were staying with us and also when my mom died that I used energy drinks as a crutch to get through the day without napping. Understandable, I think, but it means I didn’t reach this goal.

  • Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)

Erm… yeah. I started out strong on this one but as I write this blog there is a Diet Dr. Pepper sitting within reach on my desk so… yeah. Goal not accomplished.

  • Workout at least five times a week

This I was good at for most of the year. I was working out six days a week and was making Danica do it with me. We did some 30 Day Shred stuff, Couch to 5k (before I screwed up my ankle. Again) and were only a couple weeks away from completing the P90x Lean program when my Mom died. It sounds like an excuse, but when she died my world sort of tipped upside down and I am still struggling to get back into the workout habit. It will definitely be on the goal list for 2013. I’m calling this goal accomplished though because I did very well.

  • Lose 40lbs

Not even close. This has been SUPER frustrating for me because I felt like I was working really hard and the scale just wasn’t moving the way it was meant to. (I say that in the past tense because I sort of fell off the ‘working hard’ wagon in November and December.)

School: I think this year is going to be more writing and editing-centric so my school goal is optional, depending on time and stress.

  • Finish one, or, if I’m feeling super energetic, two more courses toward my degree

I didn’t do any courses toward my degree in 2012. I intend to change that up for 2013.

Writing:

  • Write the first draft of Consequence

Didn’t happen. I don’t have a great excuse as to why it didn’t happen, I just got distracted.

  • Participate in the monthly version of Write 1 Sub 1. I have a habit of writing ‘cast-off’ poetry for things like this when I become overwhelmed. That’s not acceptable here. Poetry only counts if it is in a complete and publishable form that I’m proud of. Same goes for stories.

Thank gawd for W1S1. Without it my writing productivity would have been even lower than it already was. I was successful in doing the monthly version of W1S1 and I look forward to doing a modified weekly version in 2013.

  • Figure out what to do with Shadows and my zombie poetry and get to work on doing it. This can mean looking for an agent, a publisher or any number of other things. I can’t be specific until I’ve made a decision

Done and done. Shadows has been shelved for the time being. I keep having ideas on how I can improve it and feeling the temptation to pull it out and revise it again but so far I’ve resisted. I think I need to move on for now. I’ll come back to Shadows someday, but not anytime soon. As for the zombie poetry, I’ve also figured out what I’m going to do with it… I just haven’t actually got it done yet. I will definitely be including that in my goals for 2013. The zombie poetry project is stalled temporarily while I wait on something I need from someone else, but soon… soon…

  • Either finish a first draft of Hollow Children or a transcription of Twixt

Hmm… I don’t know whether or to call this accomplished or not. Technically I didn’t do either of those things so I guess it’s not accomplished, however… instead of transcribing Twixt (I wrote the first draft long hand and so needed to type it up) I started doing the How to Revise Your Novel course using it as the project I was working on. What I discovered in the process of taking that course and doing the exercises was that Twixt, as it was written, was fatally flawed so I didn’t transcribe it. I didn’t begin working on a new draft either because it wasn’t until the end of November that I figured out what exactly I’d done wrong and how to fix it. Interestingly enough, that is also true of Hollow Children. I was hopelessly stalled on it until the end of November when I had an epiphany and figured out how to fix it. So there’s that…

  • Revise the whack of ‘mostly finished’ short stories sitting in my Dropbox and start looking for homes for them

I did manage to do this… and then I participated in the Whittaker Prize (see below) and added a bunch more ‘mostly finished’ short stories to my Dropbox to work on. Wheee!

  • NaNoWriMo is optional. So is NovPad.

I participated in NaNoWriMo and was successful despite restarting several times and switching projects three times. I attempted NovPad but was far less successful. The good thing about NovPad, as my friend Beth pointed out to me is that the prompts are always there. So I’ll keep working through them. Just like I did last year (see below). Ya know, it seems I’m not really very good at this NovPad thing LoL

  • Participate in the Whittaker Prize again this year, but in only one category, not both.

I participated in the short story section of the Whittaker Prize this year and ended up placing 10th overall with a final score, after six rounds, of 453. I… don’t know how that compares to how I’ve done in previous years but I feel really good about the work I produced for the Whittakers this year. In fact, one of my stories even tied for first on one of the rounds O_o That had never happened before LOL

  • Finish writing poems for all the 2011 Novpad prompts

Done. One of these years I may actually finish writing poems for all the NovPad prompts in November. One day…

Editing:

  • Implement the new payment system for Niteblade

Done. And best of all, it seems to be working. I haven’t finished all the totals for Niteblade’s sales for 2012 but I strongly suspect that when I do we’ll find that we had our best year yet. Yay!

  • Run a fundraiser and increase promotion in order to move out of the red

Done. We raised $108.78 to help pay our writers and artist.

  • Super Sekkrit Projekt w CJD (not Niteblade-related)

I’ve done what I can on this project and it’s now in other people’s hands. I’ve got my fingers crossed that something will come of it, but right now I have to wait and see.

Also? I blogged every week. Whoot!

You know, looking back, I’m actually super impressed with myself. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but overall I did pretty damn good. Even without factoring in all the challenges I had to overcome (because really, though this year feels like it was exceptionally bad for that, every year comes with its own set of obstacles, right?). Maybe I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing LOL

In addition to the goals I set for myself, 2012 had a few other highlights for me as well. A few, just off the top of my head are:

I am seriously looking forward to seeing what 2013 has to offer 🙂

ETA: Edited to reflect the fact I’ve only read the first book in The Song of Ice and Fire series.

Looking Back at April

April was freaking crazy. I think when I described it as a vampiric month I hit the nail on the head. Now that I’ve had a few days away from it, however, I can see that it was also a very energising month. I think it was good for me. I tend to shy away from taking on too many things at a time, but April pushed me in that regard and showed me that I really can funtion outside of my comfort zone. Now, I’m not going to be signing up for multiple challenges like this again anytime soon (if ever) but I have a strong feeling of accomplishment for surviving it when I did, and I’m finding that very motivating as I move deeper into May. I’m going to take a quick look back at the three main challenges I tackled in April.

The Blogging From A to Z Challenge: This was by far the most time-consuming challenge. Not only did I have to publish a blog post almost everyday of the month, but I had to visit 10 other people’s blogs, take a look around, read thier posts and leave a comment. What’s more, I replied to every comment left on my blog and visited those people’s blogs as well. Now, from what I can tell, a very large proportion of people who did this challenge skipped that part, and frankly, that kinda pissed me off.

The challenging part may have come from writing blog posts everyday, but if that’s all you did, you missed out. What’s more, you took advantage of the people who embraced the challenge in its entirety. The point (at least in part) was supposed to be to meet new people and expirience new blogs, not just sit back in your cozy hole and enjoy free traffic from the Blogging From A to Z participants list. /rant

Anyway, I did meet some new people and added a couple new blogs to the list of places I’ll visit regularly, and I did get to blog about somethings that I might normally not have had an excuse to. I don’t know if I’ll do this challenge again though, because I worry that it was a bit too much. Not necessarily for me (if I were to do it again I would have a theme, shorter blog entries and they would all be pre-scheduled LOL) but for my readers. There were far more comments on my posts at the beginning of the challenge than at the end, and I suspect that’s at least in part because people were tired of hearing from me everyday 😉 So… I’ll consider doing this again next year, but I don’t know. I don’t know.

The Platform Challenge: Robert Brewer offered  his readers the first annual Platform Challenge this April, and I participated. It was, by far, the easiest challenge I did. In fact, it wasn’t much of a challenge at all. For me. I know it was a huge challenge for a lot of people, but for the most part the daily assignments were things I’d already done or do regularily (sign-up for Twitter, get a blog, make a blog post…). If you are just starting out in social media/platform-type stuff than this challenge would be great for you. It would push you to jump into the fray, but at a pace that was designed to avoid overwhelming you. If your already social-media savvy and running a blog, however, it will be less helpful. That being said, I did learn a few things and discovered several ways to tweak my blog to be more betterer. Those share buttons at the bottom, for example, and the ability to follow the blog via email from the thingy to the right there (not available on LJ, sorry). So, yeah. I’m glad I did it. I won’t be doing it again though unless Robert puts out an intermediate version.

The April Poem A Day Challenge: This challenge was also hosted by Robert Brewer on the Poetic Asides blog. The idea was a poem a day for thirty days. I finished up to and included Day #26 by the end of April. That means I have four more prompts to write poems for over the month of May. It was a struggle this time around. I think largely because I didn’t have any focus, I didn’t have a theme. Allow me to illustrate:


Day One
 
Day Two
 
Day Three

Day One. A fresh new notebook, a big fat blank spot where theme should go. Not a great start, right? Okay, so, then we have Day Two over to the right there. Happily I have a theme, a theme I really, really like. In fact, someday I will write a poetry collection with a corvidae theme. Alas, that day was not situated anywhere in the month of April 2012 LOL

Day Three. Okay, says I, maybe corvidae is too narrow a theme for this particular poetry challenge. If I broaden it to be ‘Wings’ that can include birds, and planes, and angels and metaphoric wings and… Yeah, so that theme last until about day six when it, too, got crossed out and I went with a big fat question mark for a theme LOL

I think I have a few poem seeds as a result of this challenge that I’ll be able to make grow into something cool, but right now I’m not blown away. Many of the poems feel unfinished, like I had the start of an idea but I didn’t know how to end it. Or there’s the gems where I obviously just wasn’t feeling the prompt, like the haiku I wrote as my rejection poem for Day Eight:

It’s not quite for us
but please submit again
stabby, stabby, stab

Still, it’s a bunch of poem starts I wouldn’t have had without this challenge, and you bet your ass I’ll be doing it again next year 🙂

Zombie vs Zamboni

This entry concludes the Blogging from A to Z challenge! Yay! I’ll be doing a W1S1 summary post for the month of April tomorrow but after that I won’t be blogging before next week. At that point I’ll do a sum-up post for Blogging from A to Z, the Platform Challenge and the April Poem a Day Challenge. Thank you to all my existing readers for sticking around while I did this blogging challenge, and welcome aboard to the new readers who found me because of it. You’re awesome. All of you.

Z is for zombie. It’s also for Zamboni. Sadly I don’t have any zombie or Zamboni photographs handy that wouldn’t require effort to locate and edit, so I went with this picture. It’s not apocalyptic-y, but it’s kinda forlorn, so… Close enough 🙂

So yes. Z is for zombie and Zamboni. A couple years ago my NaNoWriMo novel was a zombie novel set in Edmonton which I, oh so cleverly, titled Deadmonton 🙂 The spark that set me thinking about Deadmonton was the idea of having a book which included a scene where a zombie gets killed with a zamboni.

Deadmonton, in its current incarnation is deeply flawed and I’m not sure I’m ever going to get around to fixing it, to be honest. The good news is that means I can share a scene from it with you here. Which scene? Well, the zombie vs Zamboni scene of course. This scene has a lot of problems with it, but if you read it without your editor hat on, it’s kinda fun too.

Warning: There is plenty of violence and profanity in this scene.

Zombie Vs Zamboni
(A Deadmonton excerpt)

Leading up to this scene Ashley was skating on freshly Zamboni-ed ice at Hawrelak Park when zombies start coming from all directions and surrounding her. The driver of the Zamboni has helped her onto the Zamboni, presumably to get away.

Continue reading

You Asked…

Beautiful DiseaseY is for questions that You Asked 😉

Last month I asked people to ask me questions that I would answer for letter Q. I’ve cheated a little bit and used them for Q is for Questions as well as I is for I Lied. I still have a lot of questions left over though so I thought I’d cheat again today (just a little, sheesh :-p) and answer a couple more.

Beth asked:

You juggle so many things at once right now. What is your favorite writing-related thing? What fills you with dread (other than rejection!)?

My favourite writing-related thing in the whole world is when someone reads something I’ve written and likes it. I know that sounds a bit cliche but it’s totally true. I treasure every comment and the couple times I actually received emails from strangers saying they liked my work (!!) I got all weepy. Acceptances are a close second on my favourites list, but approval from readers means more to me than approval from editors (sorry editors).

The thing that fills me with dread is the idea that someone will mistake what my characters think and say as being what I think or feel. I’ve got a homophobic character in a recent work, for example. A very vocal homophobe. I worry that people will read that story and think I am using him as a mouthpiece for my own opinions. I guess that’s actually rather unlikely given how vocal I’ve been known to be about gay rights and equality, but the idea remains the same. I don’t want people to think my characters are myself. But, that’s one of those things I can’t do anything bout, so *shrugs* I guess I better learn to let it go LOL

BD asked:

If you could only ever play one position again, would you DPS, heal, or tank?

^_~

This is a seriously bratty question and BD knew it. I have a lot of alts in World of Warcraft because I’m fickle. I want to play one role one week and a different role the next LOL

For those of you who don’t play MMOs, DPS, heals and tanks are the three different roles in a typical game. The tank is the person in heavy armor whose job is to keep all the monsters mad at them so they don’t run around and smack all the other people in lighter armor (the squishies). The tank is the person in charge, they maneuver the monsters, positioning them how they want and leading their group through the dungeon or raid. I tend to have control issues, which is why I like tanking. At the same time, I get frustrated if I have DPS who make my job more difficult and it’s a pretty high-pressure job. That’s great if you’re in a group of your friends who like you and won’t freak out if you make a mistake, it’s less great if you’re in a random group of people you’ve never met before and who have no expectation of seeing you again. That combination tends to make people be bigger jerks than they otherwise would be, and the tank is a great target for all that vitriol if things aren’t going exactly how they expect. If I could only play one role ever again it wouldn’t be a tank. I could get my tank-y fix by soloing with a tanky character 🙂

DPS classes are the damage-dealing ones (DPS stands for Damage per second). These characters are in lighter armor than the tank and their number one job is to avoid drawing the attention of the monsters you’re killing. Their second job is to kill it. Each class has different skills and abilities that they use to buff their party members, kill monsters and offer support to their team. DPS is the lowest pressure position in any MMO because there are more of them in any group so they can pick up the slack for each other if necessary (a dungeon group is 1 tank, 1 healer and  DPS, for example). I like being a DPS because of the lack of pressure but DPS comes with a whole different set of pressure — competition. People run meters that track how much damage they are doing and how quickly and they are very competitive. You don’t want to be the person who is doing the least, let me tell you.

That’s why, if I had to pick one role to play for the rest of my life it would be healing. It was a very tough call because I like DPSing, but I think healing wins. I think their role is kinda self-explanatory. The healer’s job is to heal everyone in their group to keep them alive and kicking. This is obviously a pretty high-pressure position, but it’s not high pressure in the ‘You’re in charge so if anythign goes wrong it’s your fault’ way, nor is it in the ‘Numbers matter above everything else no matter what the extenuating circumstances are’ way. It’s high pressure in the ‘If you don’t do your job people will die’ way and that’s the best possible way. It means you have very finite and obvious ways to measure your success. Is the boss dead? Are at least one of your teammates still standing? Congratulations, you win!

That would be my choice… I think.

Arlee Bird asked:

Why do you blog?

Ooh, good question. When I started blogging on Livejournal in 2002 I think it was partly because everyone else in my circle of friends was doing it, but mostly because of a bit of an exhibitionist streak. Then when I gave up my other job so I could focus on writing (ha! focus. I wish LOL) it seemed like it would be a good idea to have a website that represented me online, as well as a central place to list my publications. Thus, this blog was created. That’s why I started it, but I guess the reason I maintain it is a combination of professional obligation, to connect with friends and readers, and an exhibitionist streak.

So now I’ll ask you, readers, why do you blog? I know most of you do because I follow your links to your blogs every day LOL

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter Y. On Monday I’ll be blogging about something that starts with the letter Z. If you know me at all it’s probably not difficult for you to guess that that might be 😉

 

 

eXhausted

It’s snowing again today. Not nearly as much as in that picture I took a couple weeks ago, but enough that it’s staying on the ground and ruining my weekend yardwork plans. The weather *sigh* whatcha gonna do, right?

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I honestly wanted to come up with an X word that wasn’t a cheat, but April has been an energy vampire and my creative gas tank is running on fumes right now. I have a very finite amount of emotional, physical and creative energy (which is likely thanks to depression.) and I took on far more this month than I should have. Let’s take a peek at what I’ve been doing this month:

– The Blogging from A to Z Challenge

– The April Poem a Day Challenge

– The Platform Building Challenge

– The NaNoLJers Anthology

– The Niteblade Fundraiser

But wait, there’s more! This is a busy Niteblade month because I need to have the table of contents for the June issue set and good to go by the end of this month, which means getting all the edits and paperwork and stuff done. I’ve also been managing to stick to my exercise goals despite the fact my weight loss has hit a plateau (how depressing is that? Ugh). Also, there’s all the ‘life’ and ‘wife‘ and ‘mother‘ stuff. And stuff. Yes. Lots of stuff :-p

Overall, I’m pretty stinkin’ proud of myself, but I’m looking forward to the month being over so I can have some recovery time.

Then Amber posted the sign-up form for Writo De Mayo (the annual challenge NaNoLJers hold in May) and I went ‘Oh. Shit.’ I thought about not signing up this year, but I think I should. If I don’t have some solid goals for next month I may well spend my days curled up in bed getting nothing done and turning into a lump. So I signed up, but I didn’t pick super challenging goals. Their job won’t be to stretch myself but just to motivate me to keep going.

Writo De Mayo goals for 2012:

  • Do the 200 Sit Ups Challenge (beginning on Week Two in Column Two) without straining or otherwise injuring my neck in the process
  • Stay on track for W1S1
  • Write the first draft of at least one new short story (not a poem)
  • Write the first draft of a query letter for Shadows and get feedback on it
  • Get back to the HTRYN course I’m using to revise Twixt (and that I’ve neglected all April)
  • If I’m not successful in finishing up all the prompts for the April Poem-A-Day Challenge finish up any I missed.

What are your goals for next month?

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and the letter X. Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about something to do with Y (actually, I expect to go with ‘Why?’ but, ya know, it’s the thought that counts) so pop by then to check it out 🙂

W is for Woman

This is my husband Jo. I call this picture of him ‘Gameface’ because when I took it we were in the lab and he was doing all sorts of science-y stuff with like test tubes and pipettes and stuff. I think Jo is pretty freaking awesome, (so much so that I commissioned a theme song for him a couple years ago for Christmas. Much of it won’t make sense unless you played WoW with us, but it’s still worth a listen :)). We’ve been married for about 7 years now and together for closer to 11.

We talk about a lot of things around our house but a theme that recurs again and again in our conversations is gender. The perceptions of gender, the portrayals of it in fiction and popular media, that sort of thing.

When I asked Jo to do a guest blog this month he said he had just the thing, and that it had something to do with chickens. Turns out, we don’t get to hear about chickens, but his post does include turkeys, which are almost as awesome, so that’s okay 🙂

~*~

I was asked to do a guest column focusing on the letter W, and I wasn’t sure where to settle. I am a scientist, a biochemist specifically, but my interests extend beyond that. The first thing that comes to mind (that is science related) with this letter is tryptophan. This is an amino acid—an essential amino acid famously mentioned on Seinfeld!(1)—but the relationship to the letter “W” comes from the shorthand notation we use to refer to it. As I often point out to student in my classes, biochemists are lazy and would rather write three letters—or maybe just one, if they can get away with it—instead of the full name for something. Tryptophan is typically written as either Trp or W (T was already taken by threonine)—and you can remember this if you pronounce the word “twyptophan”, as if you have some kind of speech impediment. Ha ha, such laughs we have in science! That said, the extent of my dialogue is only as long as a Kilgore Trout novel.

So that got me thinking about W in other ways. W is for “Woman”, both as the straight up letter thing, but also in a more obscure way. Tryptophan, as Seinfeld implies, is abundant in turkey, which leads me to the other way that W and Women come together. In humans, at the genetic level, women are homogametic (XX) for the sex chromosomes while males are heterogametic (XY); the Y chromosome is a degenerate version of the X chromosome and that of course leads to a wealth of joke material regarding remote controls and sexual relations in general. But in turkeys (also other birds, insects and other species) the males are homogametic (ZZ) while females are heterogametic (WZ). This has an immediate repercussion—particularly if someone makes a joke about roosters having inferior chromosomes based on them having an X/Y chromosome system instead of the W/Z. Not that I think hens are inferior to roosters because they have degenerate chromosomes!

Variations on this occur, which leads to one of my other interests regarding sexual ambiguity. It is never as simple as having two options—and in moths and butterflies the difference between females and males may extend from WZ/ZZ to Z/ZZ or WZZ/ZZZZ or further, Jo's Tattoomaking the situation much more interesting. The lines between woman and men are never as clear as we like to think, not even at the genetic level.

Kate Bornstein is one of my heroes, and if you have never read the book “Gender Outlaw” I can’t recommend it highly enough. I have loathed gender-based generalizations for as long as I can remember; awareness of the genetic spectrum as well as the phenotypic spectrum of gender/orientation is a huge eye-opener for tolerance and awareness. When I was a grad student I wore skirts regularly; I have never minded being mistaken for a woman; and although I have never identified as female I was always a little jealous of the clothing options (especially formal wear!). One of my tattoos revolves around gender ambiguity and combines male and female symbology as a core part of the design. I do not considered myself “straight” but as slightly bent.

So what is the end message here? “W” is for women—no matter what their chromosome composition—and I love them all.

References:
(1) Seinfeld script for episode 162 “The Merv Griffin Show” http://www.seinology.com/scripts/script-162.shtml
Kate Bornstein’sWeblog: http://katebornstein.typepad.com/

~*~

In case you didn’t catch the mouse over, that picture up there? That’s one of Jo’s tattoos.

Did you see how he ended his post with ‘I love them all’? He did that to drive me bonkers. Anytime someone says they love/hate/whatever all of anything (including groups of people) that I’m like ‘Argh! You do not! You don’t know them all! Rawr! Rage!’ Well, okay, not so much the rage, but definitely the rawr ;0)

Anyway, I love Jo’s point about how there is a spectrum of gender identities (and sexuality) even at the genetic level. You can’t just put people into box #1 or box #2 and expect them to fit. I feel like that idea is beginning to creep more and more into my work. For example, I had a lot of fun when I was working on See The Sky Again (an Aphanasian novel that is still very much a WIP) in taking the usual gender roles, standing them on their heads and then turning them inside out.

If you haven’t quite heard enough from Jo, you’re in lucky. Last night we went to the premiere of the documentary ‘Always Forward‘ by PhotonMotion. The documentary is about the Biochemistry department at the University of Alberta, which happens to be where Jo works and teaches. He’s featured in the movie (mostly near the beginning) with his super awesome 3d models making appearances throughout. I thought he looked a little un-used to being in front of the camera, but the footage of him lecturing his class really shows the Jo I know.

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by Jo Parrish and the letter W. I can’t believe the month is almost over (though I’m pretty thankful LOL). Tomorrow I’ll be tackling the letter X.

 

Abbadon’s Curse

This post is about video games. I was originally going to write about the video games I play these days, but then I had a better idea. Let me tell you about a fantastic video game that was never made.

Abbadon’s Curse.

Abbadon’s Curse is a game I wanted to create over ten years ago. I looked over the main game description document that I gave to the developers and it looks like it was created in early 2002 and I’d been working on stuff for the game long before I began that file.

Abbadon’s Curse was going to be fantastic. It was an MMORPG with all of the usual MMORPG-type things in it, but there were a lot of other cool things that I hadn’t seen done in games up until that point. Night and day, for example, with certain spells and abilities only being able to be used in one or the other. Capes which could be designed (like tabards are now in WoW) to have a unique look for each guild (or character). It was also going to be very story-centric, very lore-based.

The game was set in the world of Aphanasia. A place where, upon the death of her son in battle, she blessed that land so that any who died in battle would not remain dead but rise up once more to fight again. Unfortunately, despite the fact her intentions may have been good, in reality her blessing turned out to be more like a curse.  Dun dun dun.

Moonberrys were also very important in that world, as was the magical tree they came from. They were especially important to a race of lizard-men called the Urbagdú or the Reptar who used them in every part of their society. The wise men used the berries for medicines, the mages for magic and the warriors used shed boughs from the trees for weapons. Moonberries were even the closest thing the society had to a currency.

In developing the game and it’s storyline we focused a lot on the reptar because they were going to be our first set of adversaries (you know, after everyone was done leveling off rats, and moving on to wolves, and then…) and we needed to give them depth and story. We had several other races in mind we were going to use as spice in our first release and make more important in the future. The Reptar were found mostly in and around the swamp, but the mountains were home to a race of shadow elves, and pirates tended to prowl the coastlines. And of course, what kind of RPGMMO would be complete without vampires? We had them too… In fact, one of our important, named NPCs was a vampiric pirate 😉

In addition to our races and plots and maps and game design documents, we also had a series of gods for the denizens of Aphanasia to worship (the icons for each are along the bottom there). Abbadon, Calamyr, Rakkir (named after a character I used to RP with), Xaphan and the Dragon Gods.

Alas the game fell apart. I totally blame myself. I was the lead on the game, the story was mine, the bulk of the world development was mine, and it was my work that filled the game design documents, but I can’t program. Not even a little. I wasn’t able to provide strong leadership to the programming team and I think it was largely because of my ignorance in programming. I couldn’t set reasonable timelines or expectations and I didn’t know how to crack the whip.

I’m still very sad this game never got to become a reality, but I was determined not to allow the insane amounts of work I’d put into the world development for it to go to waste. That’s why, if you’ve read any of my Aphanasian stories, a lot of this stuff will sound familiar to you.

The moonberry tree got a bit of a makeover, and I set my stories in a time after Abbadon’s curse has ceased to exist (so far anyway LoL). I tweaked my races and my world to suit the world of fiction better than that of video games, but the skeleton of that world definitely comes from what I developed for a video game.

~ Shadows ~ Sister Margaret ~ Lost and Found ~ Shades of Green ~ There’s Always a Catch ~ The Legend of the First Reptar ~

All the above stories are set in Aphanasia, and most of them can be read for free, if you’re interested. It looks like the e-zine that published The Legend of the First Reptar is no longer in existence, but the other stories are all still available (except Shadows which I just finished LOL)

So, yeah. While I’m terribly sad that Abbadon’s Curse will never be a game you can download and play (barring a minor miracle anyway LoL) I’m pretty pleased with myself that I managed to continue to use the world I’d created for it, making it even more lush, detailed and populated than I had for the game.

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This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter V for Video Game. Tomorrow my husband Jo will be doing a guest blog. He won’t even tell me what it’s going to be about except that it has something to do with chickens. I hope you’ll stop by, it ought to be entertaining 🙂

Ugh…

Ugh rather succinctly sums up how I’m feeling today, and so it’s my U word.

I feel like I’m coming down with something so I’m going to try and take it easy today, but my to-do list is pretty big so we’ll see how successful I am.

So, what’s a girl to do on an Ugh day when she still has to blog? Wordle!

My daughter, Danica, first introduced me to Wordle when she was using it for a school project but Peggy Eddleman reminded me about it in her blog post this morning. Wordle makes spiffy word clouds out of whatever words or URL you tell it to check out. Today I went and dumped the entire text of Shadows in to see what the results would look like. Voila:

In addition to being a lot of fun, I can see several practical uses for Wordle. For example, if you do like I did and dump your novel into it you’ll be given a glance of what your saying the most, which may help you identify themes or problems. If your story is about vampires, for example, but the word unicorn is the biggest one in the cloud, you may have a problem 🙂

You can also plug an rss feed url in and see the keywords for a blog. I did it with my blog and was quite surprised by the results:

It turns out I’m not blogging about what I thought I was. This is something I’ll have to look at again when this month is over and my ability to think coherently has returned. In the meantime, pretty!

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This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by Peggy Eddleman and the letter U. Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about video games. Or, that’s the plan at least.

Tagged!

Lucky Seven MemeWhile I was struggling to figure out what I was going to write about for today (it’s T day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge) I was saved by Kern Windwraith when she tagged me for the Lucky Seven meme. Tagged starts with T, so yay!

Unfortunately that means I have to share some uneditted first draft-y badness, which, ya know, isn’t my favourite, but it will get the job done. Actually, I’m kinda lucky because though the section of my WIP that is covered by this meme is slated for straight-up deletion it’s not terribad and it really shows the voice of my protagonist, Tannis.

So here’s how it works:
Go to page 7 or 77 of your current MS/WIP
Go to line 7
Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs and post them as they are written.
Tag 7 authors and let them know.

My first drafts are written by hand with lots of crossed out parts and notes to myself. Page 7 has no cross-y out-y bits, but there is a note to myself. I’m going to leave it in. Because I can. (Notes to myself are surrounded by *** which is a holdout from when I used to draft on the computer, the stars made the notes easy to find come revision time)

Also, my lines are very short because of the size of my notebook, so I’m writing until seven lines in the field I’m typing this blog post into are full.

So, without giving myself time to chicken out or list a bunch of excuses and explanation, here is a bit of the first draft of Twixt, starting on line 7 of page 7:

I can’t take this conversation much longer. It’s all blah, blah, freaking blah. Reminds me of how it used to feel when my two best friends back home, Cindy and Lauren, would start talking about World of Warcraft. They’d be all like “We’re gonna raid Mount Doom with our PVP and DPS” or whatever, and babble on for hours, completely oblivious to the fact my eyes had glazed over at the first sentence.

Thinking of theme made me sad, so I stood behind Kasey and started doing jumping jacks. Each time I jumped I could see over the top of her hair, but Richter was doing an admirable job of ignoring me. The bastard.

Finally, blessedly, Richter and Kasey wrapped up their conversation. ***Cut everything before this point. Let’s try to start this again in a way that reveals stuff slower***

Now the 7 writers I’m tagging are:
  1. Beth Cato
  2. Amber Stults
  3. KV Taylor
  4. Clare Revell
  5. Alison Stone
  6. Damien Walters Grintalis
  7. Jonathan Pinnock

I made that list largely by going down my Twitter feed and picking the writers I didn’t think would hate me for chosing them. If you didn’t want to be tagged, I’m sorry, ignore me, if you did want to be tagged and I didn’t pick you, I’m sorry.

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This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by Kern Windwraith and the letter T. If you come by tomorrow I’ll be blogging about something that begins with U, but you’re guess is as good as mine what it will be LOL

Shades of Green

S was going to be all about the stories I’ve written that were set in Aphanasia and started with the letter S (Shades of Green, Sister Margaret and Shadows) but I’m tired. This month of blogging thing is a lot of work, and combining it with the other two challenges I did was a mistake. So, I’m going to be lazy today. Today S is all about Shades of Green.


Available at Sam’s Dot Bookstore

Shades of Green was a breakthrough for me. It was the first time anything I’d written was published in a physical form where I was the sole author. My work had been included in a few anthologys or collections, but it’s not quite the same as being the only name on the cover. The only person with words on the pages. It’s not a novel though, so while it checked a lot of boxes on my Bucket List, that one is still empty.

The process of publishing this book was an eye-opening one and while the sales weren’t especially exciting, the education was very, very worthwhile 🙂

My back cover text and the endorsement Marge Simon gave the novella are below. If you’re intrigued at all you can click the cover image above and it will take you to a page where you can read the first chapter for free.

Enjoy!

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Z’thandra, the last swamp elf in Aphanasia, lives with the Reptar, a fierce race of lizard-people, most of whom resent her presence and want her gone from their village. When she discovers a human in the swamp and falls in love with him she must face the most difficult decision of her life. Will she pursue a life of happiness with the man she loves and in doing so condemn the Reptar to extinction, or will she chose to sacrifice her future to offer them hope? In the end the choice she makes will affect the Reptar for generations.

“Straight fantasy has to be really good to hold my interest. “Shades of Green” is absolutely excellent! Among the best fantasies I’ve read, a tale that unfolded smoothly and drew me in from the start. You’ll find yourself sincerely concerned for young Z’thandra and her plight. Parrish is one talented writer!”

-Marge Simon, Stoker winner, VECTORS: A Week in the Death of a Planet, 2008.

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This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter S. If you come by on Monday I’ll be talking about something that begins with the letter T… I have no idea what that will be, but it’ll be T-rific! :-p