30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 22

22. Your morning routine

This varies depending on the day of the week and time of the year. A typical academic weekday morning looks like this:

  • Wake up when husband’s alarm goes off at 6:30.
  • Try to go back to sleep, but fail.
  • Get up at 7:30
  • Shower, etc.
  • Head downstairs
  • Start up laptop
  • Brew tea if it’s cold, pour water or iced tea if it’s warm
  • Grab banana and vitamins
  • Eat while checking email and social media
  • Defuse whatever disasters developed overnight
  • Make and pack lunch
  • Put on shoes (and coat, if it’s cold), grab phone, keys, purse, and whatever needs to be dragged to work
  • Drive to work

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 21

21. Your zodiac/horoscope and whether you think it fits you.

I don’t believe in this. I’m an Aries born in the Chinese year of the ram, so, you know, double sheep.

Here are the supposed traits of ram people:

  • Strengths gentle, softhearted, considerate, attractive, hardworking, persistent, thrift

  • Weaknesses indecisive, timid, vain, pessimistic, moody, weak-willed

Only a couple of those apply to me.

Here what this site says about Aries:

Persons born in Aries ascendant will have a certain amount of independent thinking and reasoning faculty. The persons borne under the Aries horoscope are capable people. They may not be strict followers of convention. They are lovers of scientific thought and philosophy; have their own ideas of right and wrong and are strongly bent upon educational pursuits. As the Ram rules them, Aries Horoscope persons are rather stubborn but often frank, impulsive and courageous.

Aries are more gossipers than practical. They sometimes, require a certain amount of cajolery and sycophancy to raise them to action.

They are often pioneers in a field. As Mars is the lord of Aries, they will be martial in spirit. Their constitution will be hot, and they are occasionally subject to hot complaints, piles and the likes, and must avoid enterprises involving any serious risks.

Aries love beauty, art and elegance. The diseases Aries suffer from will be mostly those of the head and unpleasant sightseeing may often lead to mental affliction and derangement of brain. Their built will be slender and females generally possess fairly perfect contours. One peculiarity is craning the neck.

That’s closer, although hardly spot-on. I guess maybe I ought to avoid unpleasant sightseeing. I don’t want my brain deranged.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 20

20. Put your music player on shuffle and write the first 3 songs that play and what your initial thought is

I like my playlist. It’s… eclectic. I like it so much I’m going to list the first 5 songs instead. ‘Cause I’m a rebel. I’ve added YouTube links so you can enjoy too!

  1. Celebrate the Riot” by Dubioza Kolektiv. This is a Bosnian group that plays an interesting mixture of rock, reggae, and punk. When I visited Sarajevo a few years ago, my guide told me about them. You can download their albums for free! They mostly sing in English, but I enjoy trying to understand the occasional Bosnian words too.
  2. Autrefois” by Pink Martini.  For some reason, I especially enjoy listening to music in other languages, and Pink Martini does songs in several. This particular song makes me feel like I should be sitting in a Parisian bar feeling angsty.
  3. Natrag U Garažu” by Psihomodo Pop. This band is Croatian and plays pop punk. I discovered them during one of my stays in Zagreb. I think it might be about somebody getting drunk in a garage, but I’m not very confident in that translation.
  4. Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys. I am a terrible singer, but when I’m alone I like to sing along with this one. Also on my playlist, I have Me First and the Gimme Gimmes singing the same song. Faster.
  5. “Lovely Loretta” by Chris Isaak. Chris Isaak is from Stockton, just up the road from me. I’ve seen him in concert twice–he does a great show. When I was walking out of the second concert, I hear some guy say to his wife, “He does Johnny Cash better than Johnny Cash.” He also does a mean Ray Orbison and Elvis, and I love his Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.

I’m surprised no versions of “Hallelujah” came up. I have four. I think my favorite is Rufus Wainwright’s.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 19

19. Five fears that you have

Pull your chair right up to my couch now. Ready?

  1. Heights. But only if they’re over water and there’s no barrier between me and the drop. The flimsiest barrier will do to make me feel better. And yes, I realize that if you’re going to fall, probably better into water than onto solid ground. But there you go.
  2. Enclosed spaces. I’m mildly claustrophobic. This means that on crowded airplanes I’m really going to want an aisle seat. I discovered years ago that it also means I can’t snorkel. Putting that mask over my eyes and nose freaks me out, even though I’m aware I can breathe perfectly well through my mouth.
  3. Failure. Not little failures, because we all have those. Sometimes daily. I’m afraid of trying hard at something and having it bomb spectacularly.
  4. Lack of control. Because I am the world’s biggest control freak.
  5. My kids being unhappy adults. I don’t particularly care what my girls do for a living when they grow up. I don’t care whom they love. I just want them to lead healthy, happy lives. Simple, right?

One thing almost everyone else is afraid of but I’m not? Public speaking. I got rid of that fear by joining the speech team in high school, and I’ve spent the past 23 years speaking in front of groups on an almost daily basis. I’m really comfortable with it. Now if I had to sing? That would be a different story.

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 18

18. Your favorite color and why

I guess cobalt blue is my favorite color. I own a lot of cobalt glass, and I like the way light shines through it. I find it relaxing but not boring. I wear some blue, too, because it complements my eyes (*bats eyelashes*). But when it comes to clothing, I actually gravitate more to black and dark red. Don’t know why. My punk streak, maybe.

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 17

17. A quote you try to live by

Does “Do your fucking job?” count?

Okay, then. Here’s one I take to heart:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

       –Mark Twain

If you know me at all, you know I love to travel. I could list about a million reasons why, but one big guiding force is a desire to see a different viewpoint. Travel helps us not only to see new things, but to see old ones through fresh eyes. We gain new perspective. We see that our way isn’t the only way and isn’t necessarily the best way. We meet those people over there, and they become not a stereotype, but rather living, breathing human beings with whom we share many more commonalities than differences. Even when there are differences, we can appreciate them. I love how Italians dress nicely for even basic shopping and sound like they’re arguing even when they’re not. How Croatians abhor lines and rarely smile at strangers, but will treat you like long-last family as soon as you get to know them a little. How Scots flock outdoors at the slightest hint of sunshine. How New Yorkers are convinced the live in the center of the universe and Midwesterners can’t imagine why people would live anywhere else.

Travel also erases out prejudices about ourselves. We learn what we can tolerate, what we’re truly capable of.

And travel delights us with surprises large and small.

Release Day! Stasis

StasisFSFirst, the important facts: the second edition of Stasis is available now from DSP Publications! You can also get it from Amazon and all other major booksellers, in print and ebook versions.






Now for some details.

  • This was the first novel I wrote. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month.
  • It’s also the first in a trilogy. The second and third books will come out later this year.
  • Although a relationship between the main characters–Ennek and Miner–is important, I wouldn’t characterize this as a romance. It’s really a dark fantasy.
  • The setting is Praesidium, a city-state in an alternate universe where magic exists.
  • That gorgeous cover is by Reese Dante.
  • There’s a map inside. I love books with maps.
  • We haven’t made huge changes from the first edition. There are some small things, but the major difference is that several rounds of editing have smoothed and polished the writing.
  • I’m still donating all my royalties to Doctors Without Borders.

Now here’s the blurb:

Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the worst punishment—to be suspended in a dreamless frozen state known as Stasis—is doled out by the wizard and reserved for only the most serious of traitors.

Ennek is the youngest son of Praesidium’s strict Chief. Though now a successful portmaster, Ennek grew up without much of a purpose, unable to fulfill his true desires and always skating on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, Miner, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save Miner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.

Want to know what Ennek and Miner look like? Catherine Dair made some lovely drawings.

Ennek cardMiner card

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 16

16. Bullet your entire day.

My days vary depending on the day of the week and time of year. I don’t teach on Mondays, so here’s my schedule for today.

  • Wake up.
  • Think of plot ideas while showering.
  • Go downstairs. Have espresso and a banana while reading email, etc.
  • Go to work.
  • Deal with 10,000 problems.
  • Have meeting with someone I’d rather not.
  • Deal with more problems.
  • Go home for late lunch.
  • Email and social media.
  • Greet kids when they get home. Point them toward homework.
  • Listen to audiobook (Spook Squad!) while I do my daily walk.
  • Tell students I won’t round 78.3% up to a B.
  • Grade stray term papers.
  • Watch husband make dinner. Eat with family.
  • Convince husband or kid to go for evening walk.
  • More email and social media, plus various small work tasks.
  • Write (sequel to Love Can’t Conquer)
  • Eat dessert (this is important)
  • Go to bed
  • Think of 30 things I absolutely must do in the morning. Write them down (I keep a notepad by the bed).
  • Sleep.

You’ll notice there’s not a lot of housework going on in that list, plus I don’t watch TV.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 15

15. Three pet peeves

Only three? Well, okay.

Number three: Signs with misspellings or grammatical errors. I know, this is petty of me. But it annoys me. During a recent trip to Vegas, I saw an entire line of parking spots with signs reserving them for service vehichles. Not just one misspelling here, but an entire row of them. And when I went to the opera the other day–as one does–the subtitles twice read it’s when they should have read its. Shudder.

Number two: Travelers who complain when everything’s not exactly like it is back home. I was once stuck with one of these people for a week while I was in Hungary and the Czech Republic. The rest of us came close to throwing him off a moving train. If you love everything at home so much, great. Stay there. The rest of us are delighted to explore the world’s diversity, even when it means we encounter things that are less than perfect.

Number one–drumroll please: People who don’t do their fucking job. I don’t care what that job is. College student. Fast food worker (yes, I was once one of those). Member of Congress. Whatever it is you have responsibility for doing, do it. Preferably, do it well. Don’t leave the rest of the world to pick up your mess.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 14

14. Your life in 7 years

This one is easy. Within 7 years, I want to be retired (early!) from my day job. I plan to spend my time traveling and writing full time. My husband plans to retire by then too. If we’re lucky, the older kid will have graduated college (she’s a high school junior now) and the younger, currently in 7th grade, will be halfway through.

I’d like to move by then, too. After far too many years of living in small towns and suburbs, I want to live somewhere I don’t have to get in my car to do things. I want shops, restaurants, and coffee houses within easy walking distance. I also want to live a lot closer to a major airport. Portland, Oregon is my first choice of where to move to. My family’s there, plus it’s a great city.

I’m fairly prolific and peripatetic now. Imagine what I could accomplish without an Evil Day Job!