Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Having We Time

moar kittehs  see vote caption share
Between the fact that my mind is elsewhere and the Internet keeps going elsewhere this is all I got tonight my second of ten or so with my husband before I have to go back to Longview.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.

The sections of this template:

Intro (here)
My Week in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week)
Reading Now (my current reading list broken up into NF and Fiction)
Upcoming (scheduled reviews and blog tours and list of finished books awaiting reviews)
Recently (links to bookish posts in the last few weeks)
New Arrivals: (lists of recently acquired ARC broken up into snail mail, email and Net Gallery)
ARC in waiting (a list that is getting shamefully long)

My Week in Review:

Things on the reading front have been picking up as I continue adapting to the realities of the lifequake that hit me in late January which included doctor and social service appointments, getting my stuff organized and a new workstation created and broke in at Mom's where I'm going to be for several more months.

Today my sister and I traveled 360 odd miles south to Phoenix OR for yet another load of my stuff only this time she is taking the load back and leaving me here to help my husband prep the house for his move by May 15th.  I get to spend nearly two weeks here.

Am travel weary and my mind is more on my husband than posting.  I almost got this prepped before we left Longview this afternoon but not quite .  Forgive me but I'm not going to go collect cover images for the recent stuff tonight.

It's been a month since my last IMWAYR? so my round up of bookish posts includes the whole month.


Saturday was Dewey's Read-a-Thon


In the last two weeks I participated in two blog tours:



Defiant Heart by Marty Steere   on April 17th

The Happiness Workbook by Jenn Flaa on April 24th

and posted a review for an ARC:

Prophet of the Bones by Ted Kosmatka  sci-fi thriller.



Finished reading:




Defiant Heart by Marty Steere
The Happiness Workbook by Jenn Flaa
Prophet of the Bones by Ted Kosmatka
Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Curse by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie  read the whole book during the read-a-thon Saturday.  Practically in one sitting.  First time in a long time I'd read more than 50 pages in a sitting.  This was nearly 300.



Reading Now:

Non-Fiction:

Most of these I plug away in at a snail's pace--a couple pages or chapters per week or even every other week as that is my preferred way to read non-fic.  It sticks with me longer. I'm closing in on the finish line for several but as I get close on one I tend to add two or three more. There are some not listed here because I don't read in them weekly.

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton (Part of my ROW80 reading in craft list)
What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)   ROW80 reading list
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler   ROW80 reading list
And So It Goes by Charles J. Sheilds a bio of Kurt Vonnegut.  (I've posted about this biography of Kurt Vonnegut several time in a kind of reading journal. It is past time for another.  Part of the fun I'm having reading this is in stopping to read the stories he wrote as the narrative reaches the point where he writes them. Since this is an author bio this will also be on my ROW80 reading list )
This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias Freese (I've posted a reading journal post for this collection of personal essays also.  It is past time for another.)
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and tecniques of fiction I'll be adding this to my ROW80 reading list
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff So part of my ROW80 reading list. Have finally taken the strikethru off as I retrieved this from home Thursday
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious this will be on my ROW80 reading list
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last Thursday.   ROW80 reading list
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!   ROW80 reading list
Before You Say I Do Again by Benjamin Berkley  for Blog Tour Review Feb 8.  The review is up but I'm not finished.  This is a very difficult read for me at this time and irony of the events that fell on the same week I was scheduled to review this book did not escape me.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  for an upcoming blog tour   ROW80 reading list
Choice Theory: A Psychology of Personal Freedom by William Glasser M.D. a library book
Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson  I own this book.  Was rereading his essay on friendship this week
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  This Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.   ROW80 reading list
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron   ROW80 reading list


OK Seriously.  It is now time to start knocking some of these NF off as I did for the fiction over the last couple of months.  By limiting my starts of new novels I guess I was just transferring my need for 'new' to the NF list and now I've got too many to give proper attention to in any two weeks.

That paragraph is kept intact from the last two IMWAYR? but I've at least not started anything new in non-fiction this past week. I've targeted several NF for daily or nearly daily attention that are either short or my bookmark is under 100 pages from the end.

Fiction:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio from library)  Was listening to this while working on this Xmas crochet project and have not gotten back to it since Christmas.  If I wait too much longer I'm going to have to restart it yet again.  Or at least back up a ways to reorient.
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (another a Tree book ARC that got lost in the mix before I'd finished it.  Have not posted a review for this one either and can't remember when I received it but it had to be at least a year ago before I started packing for our move and likely before 2011 NaNo when I typically stop reading fiction while I'm so intensely writing it.  This is a collection of interlocking short stories set in South Africa and I remember I was quite enjoying it.  I've had to start it over.)
A New Song by Jan Karon.  The fifth Mitford book.  Am reading these aloud to Mom in the evenings.  We started this one Saturday.
Finding Lily by Lisa Ellis
Legacy by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie


Seriously.  I need to reinstate the rule of one novel at a time. --a line I wrote weeks ago when there were several more novels on that list and in the spirit of my New Year Resolve to finish more things than I start I've resisted starting any new fiction that isn't for a scheduled review and have been making steady gains in knocking titles off this list.  But not getting the review for them written unless I had a scheduled one--tsk tsk..  I have relaxed a bit and allowed new fiction starts.  And I can't, after deprive myself of starting a novel for myself because I'm reading a different one aloud to Mom and another one for a blog tour so I'll relax a bit on that.  A bit.

But I've really got to start writing the reviews!!  Seriously!

Upcoming:


___Blog Tours:


Finding Lily by Lisa Ellis on May 21st

Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse


___Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews:

Whenever I'm not pinned to a date like with the blog tours I do very poorly at getting reviews written in a timely way after finishing books and the longer I wait the harder it gets.  This is an issue I'm working on and hope to get a system in place to smooth the track from beginning book to posting review.  But that will mostly have to wait until I'm back home where my time is more my own.  This final week at Mom's and the first week or so I'm back at home are going to be full and unpredictable  So much for that theory.  So much for having anything like predictability anytime soon either.  So I guess that means I have to figure out how to solve this problem in spite of that issue or give up on it altogether.

At Home in Mitford and A Light in the Window by Jan Karon  (the ebook I was reading aloud to my Mom while staying there in March and April. These short little lighthearted chapters are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams)
The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg   Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list.   I discussed this in such detail in my mid-week ROW80 check-in post it was practically a review and I'll probably copy/paste much of what I said there into the review.
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  This was a NetGalley ARC but later I picked it up for Kindle when it was free on Amazon.  I began it in Adobe Digital Editions and when that timed out on me switched to the Kindle for PC.  This was a memoir of an addict's decent into the abyss and rise back out again and was quite engrossing.
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff  a library book
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)

Losses by Robert Wexelblatt an ARC
After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  This is post apocalyptic horror with zombies.    I anticipated enjoying this even tho zombies are not my favorite horror theme because I really enjoyed his The Red Church and I did but probably not to the same degree.  And its continued.
These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon  The third book in the Mitford series.  I'm reading this aloud to Mom in the evenings.  We had one chapter to go the night before my quick trip to Phoenix OR and we haven't got back to it yet.  She got back late from my brother's last night and tonight dinner was late and my sister and I were tied up with filling out forms online.  We will definitely be starting book four as soon as we finish this one.
Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams  an ebook I got free at Bookbrowser and thus consider an ARC
Out to Caanan by Jan Karon  Book Four of the Mitford series.  Am reading this aloud to Mom in the evenings when she is here.  She often spends the weekends at my brother's home in Portland.

Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Curse by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie



Recently:

___Reviews and Bookish Posts:





Appearances and Other Stories by Margo Krasne
With these well crafted stories, Krasne creates a hall of mirrors as revelation after revelation of family secrets, hidden agendas and wounded psyches reflect back onto each other revealing how unreliable is perception and thus, ironically, how futile those efforts we invest in appearance.



Creature Features by Tim Rowland  Review Mar 12 Tuesday

The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review Mar 14 Thursday

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan for a Net Galley ARC I read on New Year's Day:



Against My Will by Benjamin Berkley Blog Tour Review  Feb 20  by the same author as Before You Say I Do Again 

The Eighth Wonder by Kimberly S. Young. Blog Tour Review

Before You Say I Do Again by Benjamin Berkley  Blog Tour Review 

Scammed by Art Maines   My blog tour review for this combination personal testimony and how-to manual for helping an elderly parent recover from the depredations of a scam and protect them from future exploitation.

Encounters with Flannery O'Connor










New Arrivals:

By snail mail:

By email:


Finding Lily by Lisa Ellis

Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse


from NetGalley
there were several I got access to but have not downloaded them yet so I won't count them here yet

ARC in waiting:

Tree Books:

Most of these I left  behind when I left home for the five week visit at Mom's in early January but now that the visit has been extended indefinitely I retrieved them on our February 21/22 trip down to Phoenix along with the rest of the things I foresee needing over the next couple months.

The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean  read this over a year ago now but still need to review.  It's an emotional block due to the nature of the story being so close to personal experience.  I need to get over it.
The Variations by John Donatich
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith   My husband read this and loved it and is after me to read it so he can talk about it.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  Nobel winner!!
Skios by Michael Frayn
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbo
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman
Winter Journal by Paul Auster a memoir from an American literary figure that really excites me.
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvaine.   It's another story exploring the impact on family life of a fundamentalist religion.  One of the themes I'm drawn to like Pooh to honey.
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 compiled by The Organization Breaking the Silence
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an american Metropolis by Mark Binelli
The Autobiography of Us
The Abundance by Amit Majmudar


Ebooks:

____By email:

After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  have at least finished reading it now
Troubled by Scott Nicholson
Losses by Robert Wexelblatt  have read but not yet reviewed


____From Net Galley:


A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  have read but not yet reviewed
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  have read but not yet reviewed
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Unloched by Candace Lemon-Scott
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy 
by Emily Bazelon
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch
With or Without You A Memoir by Domenica Ruta  The 55 days ran out on me before I finished it.  Had actually barely started it so probably no review unless I find it in a library.
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
The Book of Why by Nicholas Montemarano  The 55 days ran out on me before I got far so probably no review until I can find it in a library.  This is a direct result of the lifequake referred to at the beginning of the post.


If anyone reading this states a preference I may let it weigh my decision as to what I begin next from the above list.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Serenity #334



I'm busy packing for tomorrow's trip down to Phoenix OR to spend nearly two weeks with my husband helping him prepare the house for his move in mid May.

Bradley was helping me.  I think he wants to go too.

Silly cat kept getting in or on my stuff and when I found him all settled as tho for a nap in my duffle I tried to get him to get out but he would not so I started zipping it thinking he would move but he did not.  Could not believe he let me zip it up around his neck.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Brain on Books XII

click the pic to join in
I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo ten times and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. If you happen to be doing NaNo this year you can find me there as joywrite

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   


Be sure to scroll to bottom of this post for advice on how to ward off those scary nap attacks. You won't be sorry.


1:00am - Food may have revived me but I'm thinking it mostly just revived my appetite which was light all day and suddenly I had the ravishing munchies.  And I started getting into things I haven't been interested in in weeks.  Late night snacking is probably more about being tired than about being hungry.  Exactly the kind of mistranslating of body and mood signals that probably helped get me in the fix I'm in.

Acknowledging this I went ahead and took all of my night meds except the Trazadone while I was snacking.  The traz sits on the mousepad awaiting my decision.  I hate to quit but my eyes are starting to burn.  I promised my husband that when the signals of fatigue got significant I would not resist and especially would not push the Traz beyond 3am.  That is the one most likely to bring on irresistible drowsiness within thirty minutes to an hour.

I could switch to an audio book but that didn't work all that well last October.  I kept dozing off and missing stuff and having to back up and then relisten to stuff I remembered before hitting the stuff I missed and that just made it more likely I doze again.  Besides I don't have an audio book in progress and don't want to start one now that I'd be unlikely to get to spend much time with over the next two weeks.  That would be pointless.

I think this is me trying to talk myself into the rational healthy choice of taking the Traz and going to bed. I've got two big as in HUGE days coming up and after this day tomorrow needs to begin with at least 8 hours of sleep and Monday should as well which means I would also need to be asleep not long after midnight tomorrow night and I haven't even started packing.

Well.  I'm going to go ahead and try reading for a few minutes to see how it feels.  But I'm going to do so with the intent to listen to what my body is signaling with respect...  There is still that part of me that fears laying down and finding sleep elusive.  I have long hated laying awake in the dark with nothing but my racing anxiety fueled thots.  With the meds that is muted somewhat but I still often take more than half an hour to fall asleep or repeatedly startle back awake.  In the past this would be my excuse to get back up and reengage in a project or book or video or game or or or or...anything to distract me.

So then.  If I hang on I'l check back in when I take the Traz at 3 so if there is no update by 3:30 that probably means I gave in much sooner and was already too brainfogged to string words together here...

MIDNIGHT - well I just passed the halfway point in Finding Lilly.  I'm beginning to suspect I won't get much farther.  If for no other reason that it wouldn't be doing the story justice to just slog away at it out of a duty or determination to make it to the finish line--and not even the finish line of the story but just the finish line of the thon.

Am going to get a snack and reassess things.  If food alone can revive me then maybe..

9:00pm - Mom has gone to bed and I've just finished cleaning the kitchen from the two meal preps today.  I spent about an hour reading aloud to Mom after dinner from A New Song which is the fifth book Jan Karon's Mitford series.

Just before I had to leave the netbook to go fix dinner I stopped by the thon hub to enter the name of the book I'd finished and while I was there scrolled thru the hours since I'd last been there at 8am.  Last October I spent more time on the hub or other blogs than I did reading.  This time I seemed to be too into the reading to think of the fun over on the hub.

I saw some things I want to take a closer look at later.  Whether that might be before I sleep or after the thon is over...  Can't imagine when I'll have the time for it tho as tomorrow once I'm awake I'll have to start packing for the trip to Phoenix OR and Monday is the trip and let me just say once I'm there and back in my husband's arms again for the first time in a month...weeell  hanging out on the thon hub won't be top of my list.  Maybe the first day he has to work while I'm there...

Anyway, while I was on the hub just before six I saw that I'd won one of the drawings.  I couldn't take the time to look closer.  I hope it isn't dependent on me responding inside a certain time frame today.  If so, oh well, I think I'd rather pass than take time from my reading.  I don't  know how much time I'm going to have left.

I had to cut off the stimulants at 4pm 13 full hours before the end of the thon.  And I'm supposed to take my Trazadone no later than 3am so the likelyhood that I have until 5 is slim.  I still feel like I'm going strong but I did yesterday at this time too and then at 11pm started crashing and that was after an 8hr sleep.  I got less than six this morning before I began at 6am.  In spite of being exhausted by 11 last night the pre-event anticipation still kept me to antsy to sleep until well after midnight.  Thee have been thons in the past that I had already been awake since noon on Friday and then was still awake at noon on Sunday.  Not allowed anymore.  Or at least I'm not allowed to encourage it or support it with stimulants like caffeine or energy drinks and I can't ditch the meds that make me drowsy so...

Time's awasting.  I'm off to start an ebook ARC.  Finding Lilly by Lisa D. Ellis.  I'm anticipating loving it.  It is probably in the genre chiclit.  Story of a marriage in trouble due to the different grieving styles of the two parents after the death of a young child.  It is also under 200 pages so there is a chance I could finish it before I have to quit.  Giving me two novels read cover to cover in one thon for the first time since I can't remember.  So I better get started.

5:30 - Just finished Curse.  291 pages since 8am or 333 since 6am.  It has been a very long time since I've done that.  And with a tree book with smallish difficult font too.  Which is why I'm choosing not to continue on to the next book in the series today.  My eyes would not soon forgive me.  So for the rest of the thon it will be ebooks and/or audio.

I've got to go start dinner for me and Mom.  And after dinner read to her for an hour or so.  Then I'll be back to check in before starting the next book.  Which I believe will be an ARC ebook Finding Lilly by Lisa D. Ellis

4:00 - Between noon and now I fixed lunch for me and Mom and then sat with her while we ate.  Then had an hour vid chat with my husband.  Then back to Curse for another sixty pages which leaves me with sixty or so to finish.  Hoped to have finished  by time to fix dinner but I've promised Mom to read to her before and after dinner and she has just woken from her nap so I need to check with her.

I'm amazed at how many pages in a sitting I'm getting read this time.  And in spite of the late start and the interruptions for lunch and vid chat I've already read more than I had by this time in either of the last two thons.  More than I had in the entire week preceding.

This augers well for the future if this is because of the meds and the other work I've done for my health and mood disorder in the last two months.  Hope blooms.

I may not be able to check back in again until after Mom heads to bed around 8ish.  If not it will be because I'm reading to her then fixing and serving dinner and then reading to her some more.  From Mitford 5--A New Song by Jan Karon

NOON - Just reached p170 in Curse, 2nd book in Wicked series.  Must stop now to make lunch for Mom and me.  Toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  After lunch, if Mom wants I'll read for awhile from the A New Song, book five of the Mitford series.

8:00 - Finished Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Vituie.  Was on last 40 pages when started this morning tho.  Will play on hub for a few and then get butt off mini-tramp and feet on it for a few.  Then time for first cup of coffee.  Then....   Will decide when sitting down with coffee ...

6:00 - Intro Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
-- Longview WA USA.  Small port town on might Columbia River.  This was my hometown and I'm staying at my Mom's this month.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

-- Finding Lilly by Lisa D. Ellis.  an ebook ARC I'm doing a blog tour for in late May
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

-- veggie platter and hummus
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

-- I'm visually impaired so cannot compete on level pages or books read but I've always had a 'talent' for staying awake around the clock so I've came to my first ten Dewey thons with the determination to be one of those who made it the whole 24.  This year I can't do that.  My 'talent' aka mood disorder is now being medicated and I've got to learn to give sleep more respect.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

-- in light of that I will be limiting caffeine to two cups of coffee before 4pm and will use zero energy drinks.  I already missed hour one as I promised to not use alarm in order to wake in time.  And may not be able to make it to 5am Sunday as must take meds by 3am.

another thing different is that I'm on duty today with my elderly, visually impaired mother.  I must prepare lunch and dinner for her and will be spending part of afternoon and then again after dinner reading aloud to her from the Mitford series.  Something we've been doing several times a week since my visit began in January.  We're nearing the end of book five. 

6:00- Just woke up.  Will start reading soon as my eyes unglue.  Gotta go check in at hub.  as you can see this is my twelfth Dewey thon.

The book I'm starting with is Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie.  But have only 30 pages or so to go and then would be starting Curse, the second of their four book Wicked series.  These books were loaned to m by my young niece several years ago and I'm trying to finish them in  order to return them to her while I'm back in the Rogue Valley next week. That gives me until the 9th to read three more.    No I"m not planning to spend the entire read-a-thon on the one story.  I've always been a grazer with these thons.

5:00 -   I've promised not to set alarm in order to be awake by 5 and as I type this I can tell I'm not going to get laid down in time to guarantee waking without alarm by 5.  I've always prided myself in being able to do the full 24hrs it was a special talent of mine :) but this time I must not make that the priority.  I must get decent sleep before and must keep med schedule as close to intact as possible which might make reaching 5am Sunday iffy too.
















Fighting pose
 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Sweet Dreams

moar kittehs  see vote caption share

Dewey's Read-a-thon starts in 8 hours.  I've got to be in bed soon if I'm going to wake in time.  I've promised my husband that I'll get a good sleep first, will not set alarm and will keep med schedule as close to normal as possible.  No energy drinks period and no caffeine after 4pm.  If I can still do the 24 with those restrictions I have his full blessing.

Don't let that make him out to be Mr Bossy.  It's about the mood disorder I'm under treatment for and he's helping me work out the best way to get the most out of it with the least disruption and least risk for meltdowns in the days after.  Some of which he'd be in direct line of fire for since I'm going to be back in Phoenix with him Monday evening so not much time to recuperate between Sunday morning and leaving Longview Monday morning.  Still not packed either.

I just had another excellent day.  Mood was up and stable.  Brain was on by noon and on fire  by 3pm.  I had a number of major insights that I'm still processing.  If not for the read-a-thon I'd be quite tempted to open fiction files and see what might happen.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Prophet of Bones by Ted Kosmatka


Prophet of Bones
by Ted Kosmatka
Henry Holt and Co - April 2nd 2013
368 pages

This was a riveting thriller that blended some of my favorite elements of sci-fi--alternative history, comparative culture and hard science--with political intrigue and romance to create a real page turner.  The only reason I didn't finish it inside of the week I began it was due to the upheavals in my personal life at the time that took priority and yet I carried the book around with me anyway anticipating the next moment I could open it for another paragraph or page before my eyes glued themselves shut for the day.

Having been raised a Christian fundamentalist, the alternate history premise that carbon dating had debunked Darwin in the 1950s, was tailor made to get my attention.  As was the depiction of a world in which all knowledge is controlled by the churches and millions of books, academic journals and magazines are looked away in forbidden archives which has been one of my personal nightmares since I broke with the fundamentalists in the mid 90s.

The hard science involved is genetics, archaeology, paleontology anthropology and forensics.  The protagonist Paul Carlsson, a young scientist, must grapple with politicians who see him as a pawn, an eccentric billionaire playing God on his Everglades compound who sees him as a threat, an old flame who might see him as too hot to touch after a number of those who helped him ended up dead or disappeared, memories of an abusive father who seemed to see him as a disappointment and the evidence of the bones that he sees as a disturbing challenge to the foundation of his beliefs.


read an excerpt

Q&A with Ted Kosmatka


From the Publishers:


Paul Carlsson, a brilliant young scientist, is summoned from his laboratory job to the remote Indonesian island of Flores to collect DNA samples from the ancient bones of a strange, new species of tool user unearthed by an archaeological dig. The questions the find raises seem to cast doubt on the very foundations of modern science, which has proven the world to be only 5,800 years old, but before Paul can fully grapple with the implications of his find, the dig is violently shut down by paramilitaries.
Paul flees with two of his friends, yet within days one has vanished and the other is murdered in an attack that costs Paul an eye, and very nearly his life. Back in America, Paul tries to resume the comfortable life he left behind, but he can't cast the questions raised by the dig from his mind. Paul begins to piece together a puzzle which seems to threaten the very fabric of society, but world's governments and Martial Johnston, the eccentric billionaire who financed Paul's dig, will stop at nothing to silence him.


What they are saying: 


“A masterwork of intrigue and menace. I couldn’t put Prophet of Bones down until I reached the climax…An eye-opening and page-turning read without parallel.”
—Clive Cussler
“Ted Kosmatka is both an excellent writer and a hell of a storyteller…Prophet of Bones is truly hard to put down. This is what a novel is about”
—Nelson DeMille
“Everyone needs to read this book. Seriously. Everyone. Best writing I've encountered in ages.”
—Hugh Howey (via Twitter)
“Written with confidence, in a sure hand, the tension leaps from the page. All of the right elements combine—danger, treachery, and action. Buckle up, hunker down, and get ready for an all-nighter.”
—Steve Berry
“A near-perfect blending of traditional thriller and alternate-reality scientific and theological fantasy… has best-seller written all over it.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“Kosmatka is fascinated by the underlying genetics and anthropology, and cheerfully goes on about haplogroups, nucleotide pairs, and DNA sequencing in ways that would leave the Crichton school in the dust….”
—Locus Magazine
“Gripping, dark, and well written…Kosmatka paints in broad strokes yet still nails the details…this is a compelling juggernaut of a read.”
—Library Journal
“An exciting alternate-universe thriller…readers will gulp this on down.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Prophet of Bones is what happens when you start with a foundation of Harry-Turtledove-style alternate-history science fiction, throw in some Dan-Brown-ian theology-tinged conspiracy theory, add a dash of Jurassic-Park-era Michael-Crichton-esque bio-thriller and top it all off with some Elmore-Leonard-y dark humor. The result is some truly unique – and uniquely awesome—classification-defying, boundary-pushing fiction, and I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled.”
—CriminalElement.com
“Meshes realistic science with fast paced thrills…It will keep you guessing, straight till the end – and you’ll love every minute of it.”
—Gamesfiends.com


Ted Kosmatka's work has been reprinted in nine Year's Best anthologies, translated into a dozen languages, and performed on stage in Indiana and New York. He's been nominated for both the Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and is co-winner of the 2010 Asimov's Readers' Choice Award. He is a video game writer at Valve and lives with his family in the Pacific Northwest, not far from the water.

http://prophetofbones.com/
Ted on Goodreads
http://www.tedkosmatka.com/
Bones, Genes, Demons - Ted's Blog


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The Happiness Handbook by Jenn Flaa

The Happiness Handbook
by Jenn Flaa
Publisher: Bush Street Press (May, 2012)
158 pages

This book could not have come into my life at a better time.  Anyone following Joystory knows that I've been in crisis mode since late January after being hit by a lifequake that included major health, financial and relationship shocks.  Happy is a far away land I've heard tell of but fear at times belongs to the same world as fairy tales.  Jenn Flaa's book gives me hope that there is a there there.

And a map to locate it.

I've barely begun to imagine doing most of the work she spells out but as she makes clear, sometimes you have to get back to neutral before you can reach for happy.  Although answering the questions in the workbook sections is mostly beyond me right now it does feel helpful just to have them on my radar.

I can't thank her enough for the one blow-my-mind insight that may play a huge role in helping me salvage my marriage of 34 years that we have just pulled back from the brink--from break-up emails the week of Valentine's to  an amaze-za-aing reigniting of passion and commitment by the end of March.  That is the revelation that men need visual evidence of our happiness and gratitude when they have 'done it right'.  Whether a simple smile or a full out happy dance.

I realized I'd been very stingy with such things.  Not intentionally. Not to manipulate or punish. Decades of struggling with a mood disorder played a role as did being raised by stoic parents who discouraged expressing strong emotion and frivolity, backing it up with scripture.  To this day whenever I feel my mood elevate from neutral to excited--whether frustration or enthusiasm--I hear my parent's voices cautioning me to 'watch your tone young lady'.

I ran this past Ed in a Skype yesterday and he just about bounced out of his chair exclaiming Yes! Yes! Yes!  I neeeeed your smiles!  They give me energy.  Exactly.  And he went on and on about non verbal cues being so important and how discouraged and frustrated he gets when faced with my stone face whether I'm just listening to him relate events of his day or he has just served me a salmon fillet on a bed of jicama, mangos and passion fruit.  And that even when he isn't directly responsible he loves to see me animated about anything.

He was so grateful and enthusiastic about having that made explicit he not only gave me permission but insisted I use his name in this review and make clear that he confirms and endorses that one thing as fact: that men need non-verbal visual cues and that they feed off the energy from our smiles.

I will be returning to this book over the next months to work the exercises and answer the questions and I fully expect to discover that there are many more such gems in there.  I see glimmers and shimmers of them already but I've still a ways to go just to reach neutral.


From the Publishers:


#1 on Amazon Hot New Releases!

We arrive on this planet naked and without operating instructions. We live our lives and learn from trial and error (lots of errors) what works, what doesn't work, what makes us happy and what pisses us off.

Each new person that comes into our lives gets no user's manual and has to figure us out the hard way.  But what if we changed the rules?  What if we wrote our own user's manual, The Happiness Handbook, about what makes us tick and gave it to the people we love most?

Imagine how that would change our interactions and our lives. People would begin to do what makes us happy and ... we would be happy!  If someone received our Happiness Handbook and chose not to follow it, well then, we could choose not to hang out with them more quickly.
The Happiness Handbook is about empowering the reader to discover their own unique ways of being that lead to unlocking their full potential and becomes their guide for leading the extraordinary life they were born to fulfill.

The Happiness Handbook is written in a warm, friendly and informal tone; as if a girl friend were guiding the reader through their process of self discovery. Peppered with humbling, humorous anecdotes and stories; the reader has a practical, seasoned guide and partner in crime as they work the exercises and use the tools to move from unhappy to happy!


What they are saying:


"Flaa's guide aims to send the reader down the path of self-discovery.
After living through a divorce, Flaa finally decided that there was only one thing in the world that was going to make her happy: herself. But who was she? The answer came as she took the time to rediscover what she enjoyed and then tell other people about her findings. Flaa's book explains how the author found her own fulfillment, and the author's hope is that her readers will use the handbook to do the same...
Reaching a state of elation may be a process, but the work outlines three steps to get there: Decide what makes you happy, communicate your needs, and do a "happy dance," i.e., express your joy. Along with this simple strategy, the guide presents plenty of different exercises and activities...
The aim of all these exercises, and the book itself, is to give the reader the tools they need to figure out how to find their bliss. For Flaa, taking an active role in the creation of one's own joy helps actualize it."- Kirkus Review

"A witty and revealing journey around many of life's more friction-filled corners. The challenges described have such a human, almost generic universality that you'll find wisdom even in the words not on the page, but that flash into mind hours after putting the book down. Ms. Flaa is talented author, intelligent and unafraid to be bold employing a particularly conversational flavor of the written word. Enjoy!"- Matt Maurer, Amazon Reviewer

"To all the women that read this review; buy the book, read it, answer the questions, give it to your man and tell him to read it and learn and then act on what he has learned. To all the guys that read this review, do yourself a HUGE favor buy the book, give it to your lady, ask her to read it and fill it out, then steal it after she has finished it and learn what you've been doing wrong all these years and then fix the problem and become that knight in shining armor that you think you've been. Trust me I know, I've been married for 23 years and thought everything was fine and it is for the most part, but obviously there is always room for improvement and this book help me find out where I needed to improve to make my wife much happier."-Jeff Black, Amazon Reviewer

"What a marvelous concept - ask for what makes us happy! Such a simple concept, yet so overlooked. Thanks Jenn Flaa for this fun and enlightening read. Doing the happy dance!"- Kd Harris, Amazon Reviewer

"I just finished this book and found it to be the most refreshing no nonsense approach to overcoming the hard knocks that life presents! It provides questions that you need to ask yourself, putting it in writing makes you see it more clearly and work through it. I thought I was happy before, and really I was relatively, but know, I have a whole new perspective. Go get this book and read it, then reread it, you will learn a lot about yourself. I am giving this book to my daughter!"- M. Susan Swchwartz, Amazon Reviewer



Jenn Flaa, serial entrepreneur with deep roots in technology and a passion for music. merges creativity and tech with fun and energy.

After starting her career as an engineer at NASA and a stint in Silicon Valley as a Quality Assurance Manager, Jenn started her first of four companies.  Vettanna provides high tech resources and communications training on-camera.

Not content to use one side of her brain, Jenn is also the rock vocalist and song writer for the band Urban Fiction, the author of The Happiness Handbook and the Better Boyfriend blog.

You can find out more about Jenn and The Happiness Handbook in her interview on CBS:



www.happiness-handbook.com
www.betterboyfriend.net
https://www.facebook.com/HappinessHandbook



Follow the blog tour for more reviews, giveaways, author interviews and guest posts: 

http://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/

Read more...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

88th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2013

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.


Last round I finished the edit for Blow Me A Candy Kiss, the short story I'm planning to use as the experiment in self publishing.  This was on my original Goals when I first joined ROW80 last April.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  A link to an earlier draft can be found in the ROW80 Goals page linked under the spreadsheet below.


I regained the Ys for READ CRAFT after loosing them along with those for FREEWRITE and FICTION FILES during the 2.5 weeks at the end of March and into April involved in going down to Phoenix OR after another van load of my stuff, bringing it back here to Mom's, making room for it, unpacking the books and clothes and organizing.  Obviously Camp Nano seems to have fallen into the abyss but I hesitate to just let it go as I'd likely get zero word count for the month if I did and I've been feeling some pressure building on a story idea...maybe...

Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
No excuses now for the remaining two time investment goals.  It is now about having lost the habit and making choices that push them aside.  The primary choice?  Mooning like a giddy teenager while conducting a long-distance relationship with my husband of 34 years.

I stopped requiring myself to do the freewrite before using the netbook for anything else because the first thing I want to do is check my email for my 'good morning' from him and then of course reply to it.  Sigh.  And that is just the first of two or three or four emails before I sleep again.  And that doesn't count the chats and the Skyping.  Who knew it could still be this fun to be in love at 55.  And it is especially poignant because we came so close to wreaking it and calling it totaled less than three months ago.

I've written nothing but emails, chats and posts this entire month which makes me feel a bit of a fraud for being in writing challenges.  But I've decided ROW80 anyway isn't about successes only but also about setbacks and working out the kinks.  I've got a lot of kinks right now...

Note:  The following contains lots of carryover from previous check-ins to provide context. New material is mixed in with the old some of which has been reordered or eliminated. And this time I've create themed sections so that adding new and subtracting old will be easier going forward:

The Lifequake
Self Management
Evolution of the workstations

All of the new material is in Self-Management this time.

Because of the read-a-thon Saturday and trip prep Sunday after catching up on sleep, I doubt I'll be able to prepare a check-in post for Sunday.  But I may resubmit this same link and leave a few brief updates where appropriate.

THE LIFFEQUAKE:

Merlin
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.  The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely.  It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.

Continuing aftershocks abound.  The latest being the notice from our landlord to vacate by May 15 as he needs to sell the trailer.  So my sister and I have made two trips down to Phoenix OR after van loads of my stuff.  We were supposed to bring our cat Merlin back with us last trip but he was sneezing and had goopy eyes so my sister took him to the vet there and discovered he had an infection from rotten teeth and inverted eye lashes.  He had surgery two weeks ago .


The bulk of what came back so far was books, papers, crafts and clothes.  Books being the greater part the first week of April with 8 boxes of them alone.  The work of making room here at Mom's for 22 boxes and then unpacking 11 and organizing it along with the stuff already here ate up at least ten days.  I continue to tweak and fiddle with my two main areas--the wall on my side of the bed in Mom's room and my desk and workout area in the room across the hall.   Some of the story of the evolution of the writing and workout room since February is below.

The date for the next trip has been set for April 29.  But my sister will be returning with the load after a day or two and leaving me behind to spend eight to ten days helping Ed with the final packing up and the deep clean in preparation for his move by the 15th.  We are both ecstatic about the idea of a whole week together even tho it may be bittersweet with the knowledge of my return to Longview and full of some very hard work--both physical labor and relationship.

SELF-MANAGEMENT

My reading and crafting corner
on my side of the bed
in Mom's room
A week ago Sunday night I blew the commitment to take meds on time and sleep every night out of the water.  I talk about that and recommit in the next day's post, Penalty Box which I considered a formal 'holding myself accountable' exercise.  And the next day I received some more feedback from my husband during a Skype asking for a similar commitment to time management.  It is related to the sleep issues but still a separate issue.  I agreed to that and then promptly did another belly flop.  Did not keep my hours regular all last week now and had second 24 hour awake before that week was out.

My mood went volatile again and on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings I had major meltdowns.  This was so demoralizing after what had felt like several weeks of steady progress.  The anxiety, which had seemed to bow out after the new med regime was in place, came raging back.  I woke frequently with surges of anxiety and startle reactions.

But as I detailed in last check-in and some more in Sunday's post the whole setback can be attributed to a disruption in my BP med Metoprolol due to a series of communication snafus with the clinic preventing the timely renewal.  In spite of the terrible experience I'm not sorry it happened as it put the Metroprolol on our radar as an important piece of the puzzle.  It definitely must stay in place or be replaced with something that can duplicate its benefits.

Yesterday the med nurse added a low dose of Ritalin to the mix to address the issue with my brain not coming back online for six to twelve hours after I've slept longer than six hours.  This has played a role in my sleep issues.  Often the insomnia is truly involuntary but just as often I'm opting for those 24, 36 and upwards straight hours because I can't bear to let go of the creativity, productivity and the me that I know and like because I can't depend on getting them back again.

Today was the first dose and to limit the variables as much as I could I took it by itself (with food) and also waited an hour before having my first cup of coffee.  I'm not sure yet what to think.  Tho I can say that by this afternoon I was missing the Pseudophed which I'd been using for that purpose and which I can't take in conjunction with the Ritalin.

I didn't start feeling alert or creative or ambitious.  But I did not sit and stare at the wall or out the window either.  I busied myself with mundane, repetitive tasks on the netbook.  But they were tasks that took some focus, mental organization, attention to detail and persistence.  And after about an hour of that I picked up a novel and read over fifty pages in one sitting.  Something which has become rare.

I felt fairly lazy today.  I did not get on the tramp at all.  At least not on my feet.  I actually sat on it most of the time I was on the computer or reading.  But on the other hand I fixed lunch for Mom and on impulse without being asked and without having the menu set and material set out for me.

I'd come out of my 'office' at noon and discovered my sister was outside doing yard work which I knew to be one of her favorite pastimes while the kitchen is her least favorite.  So I decided I would see if I could figure out something without disturbing her and by the time she came in I was already serving Mom's tray--toasted cheese sandwich and tomato soup and corn chips.

It wasn't smooth sailing.  I nearly burned one side of the sandwich.  The soup boiled over in the microwave and I dropped corn chips all over the floor.  The paper plates in the package stuck together and in getting them unstuck I nearly pulled a pile of paper products off the shelf atop the oven.  I knocked an empty water bottle over and a pile of papers off the counter onto the floor and kicked the garbage can several times.  It was frustrating and twice I nearly forgot myself and allowed my 'at home' language out at Mom's in her hearing.  You know THOSE words.

So apparently, at least at low dose on the first day, the Ritalin isn't going to be a magic pill as depicted on TV shows like Desperate Housewives.  There is also the fact that I laid down and hour late and woke too soon. After less than five hours of sleep.  And could not get back to sleep in the too bright room.  I made myself try for an hour but finally got up at ten.  This explains the low tolerance to frustration, some of the lazy and much of the emotional 'low' feeling.  Definitely not as good a day as yesterday or Sunday.

I am still hoping the Ritalin will help bring my brain back online sooner so that my commitment to giving sleep a higher priority than creative work will become less of a  struggle every night when I can stop feeling like I'm saying goodbye to my 'self' not knowing when/if I will pick up again where I left off on whatever I'm forced to set aside.

But I remain committed to the project of getting sleep and mood regulated as essential to both my writing goals and to saving my marriage.  When I confessed to Ed recently that if I believed that how I'm experiencing this now would be the reality going forward I would revert to despair because it is that hard, that I feel like I'm loosing myself, he suggested I see it as growing pains.

We both know we can't go back to the way things were.  That was slow suicide and also crazy-making for both of us.  Not  just the unpredictable sleep cycle but the unpredictable mood and energy levels. It wasn't like I was getting regular, reliable creative or brain intensive work done then either. That is an illusion created by the memories of the occasional--twice a month or so--crazy spurts of work on a project over a two to four day period in which I slept little or not at all, and neglected food and water and hygiene.

Meanwhile, I'm sustained by the memory of those few weeks earlier this month in which regular sleep had gone a long way to regulating my moods, and my anxiety had fallen so low it may actually be what healthy people experience as normal. I'd had more energy and stamina and had been tending to my diet, exercise and hygiene to nearly a normal sustainable level which was paying off in big ways.  I'd lost an inch on my waist between the 1st and 15th and dropped below 200 on the scales for the first time since 1986.

It is going to be difficult in the coming two weeks to stay regulated because there will be so many disruptions in routine.  There is Dewey's Read-a-Thon this weekend.  Which Ed has given his blessing on my full participation--with caveats.  Then I'm leaving for Phoenix OR Monday and won't be back at Mom's until probably May 10th or 11th.  Packing up and deep cleaning a house in preparation to move is not conducive to establishing routines nor is rejoining a spouse after a month apart and four months of not living together.

It continues to frustrate me that I've yet to add fiction writing back into the mix as I feel that would go a long way toward making me feel like me again.  Or do I need to feel like me first?  I hope not.  Ten days ago I thought I was almost there.  Maybe I hesitated too long waiting for something that won't come until after I've reengaged whether I feel like it or not.

Maybe next week after my sister returns to Longview with the van load and during the hours Ed has to work I can give it a try.  I'll have the quiet and privacy of my own home again.  Though we are talking morning hours which have rarely been my creative hours.  But there is no way, no how, I'm going to use the late night hours for writing while I'm there.  Not unless I can do it while staying at the side of my sleeping husband.  Which is how I did it for the ten years we lived with his folks.  But somehow I don't think that will work quite the same this time.  I imagine it will be extremely difficult to switch channels in my brain just because he has fallen asleep.  Much more difficult than after our daily Skype sessions.


The evolution of the writing and workout room:

2nd Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
In February a few weeks into the lifequake I realized I could no longer wait until I got home to get serious with my fiction writing but to accommodate it I would need a writing station that afforded privacy, quiet, light, and the ability to move about and make moderate noise without fear of disturbing my sleeping mother.  And I would need to designate a time of day in which I could count on no interruptions.

The time best suited was the hours immediately after Mom heads to bed.  The space was trickier.  But the best bet was somewhere in the room that had once been Mom's office and had become a storage room.  So I rearranged some boxes and created a desk in a cubby behind the stairwell.    I was even able to set up the mini-tramp in there. Tho I had to walk across it to get to my desk, I liked having it there until I fell twice inside a week.

 After the first fall on a Sunday I set my mind to being careful but after the second fall the following Friday I realized careful would not cut it.  Not indefinitely.  Not for someone visually impaired and with such a history of scattered thought and impulsive movement.

After a third incident--a close call--my sister set the tramp on end.  But as I feared it seldom got set down for use after that.  I kept wanting to find the time and energy to rearrange the stuff again to make room for the tramp and a path to my desk.  That became one of the goals as I worked to make room for the stuff coming in from the van.

To make room for the tramp I moved my folded clothes into Mom's room and the boxes of Mom's papers under the card table.


Reference Books

The reference books are now on that cabinet above the tramp.  The 1999 World Book set and the Britannica Great Books set I bought from the library in 2005.  And writing related misc.


Desk in cubby
The desk has morphed so many times.  I continue to tweak things but continue to find it a very uninviting place to spend much time. And the chair continues to bite.  I've taken to using it mostly just when I need the printer or scanner and sit on the tramp with netbook on a box for other tasks.  Or stand on or beside the tramp with netbook on a drawer pulled out of that cabinet.



To right of my desk







Bradley
The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearrange the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

Saturday he knocked my netbook off the desk.  I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.

 I do hope that when we bring Merlin back next trip the two of them can entertain each other.


FICTION FILES:



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
I have selected my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, The Storyteller's Spouse, to give the bulk of my attention to for the duration of this extended stay at Mom's for the same reasons that I started it in the first place:  Story is the way I think and when I need to process something terribly complex and emotionally overwhelming I often start playing with the what ifs and the people involved and the themes in the same way I do with a novel or short story.  Because of the unusually autobiographical nature of this story I'd never returned to it after NaNo that year but many of the same issues are active in this current lifequake so what better time than now to get this one back out?  It had therapeutic value before and probably will again.

The Storyteller's Spouse is also an exploration of story itself and features a married couple the female lead being a novelist and her husband a raconteur with a rep for tall tales, fish stories and war stories and life of the party yarns.  Neither of them have an especially good grip on reality so their POV scenes are exercises in unreliable narrator.

Synopsis: Lor and Bull Teller, married for over two decades, are about to discover the power of story to either create or destroy when a disturbing accusation lands tall-tale-teller Bull in jail where suddenly he has nothing to say just as Lor, author of evangelical children's stories witnesses something that tangles and then snaps the tether of her faith leaving her afloat on a sea of mystery which often feels like insanity.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)  What with the lifequake and all I've had to do a lot of reassessing.  Recently I realized that my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and techniques of fiction
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  In late February I lifted the strikethru I put on this the week I left home in January as I brought it back with me on the 22nd.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious as well as research for a character who is a Tarot reader
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last January and has been the one I've spent the most time with ever since.  Friday's post was a quote post for this one.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Found this while spelunking the stacks looking for the Smiley book.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  My Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.  Also a Longview library book.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review for blog tour  Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list.

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this last fall and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.




Read more...

Monday, April 22, 2013

The April 2013 Dewey's Read-a-Thon is Upon Us

moar kittehs  caption vote share

The next 24 hour Read-a-Thon, an event for book bloggers created by Dewey in 2006 and carried on in her name after she was lost to us in 2008, is scheduled for this Saturday, April 27.  For me in the Pacific Coast time zone it starts at 5am.

Book lovers from around the globe participate in a marathon of reading, blogging, social networking, leaving cheering on comments, and entering mini-challenges (games, tasks, trivia) and drawings for prizes.

I have participated in every one since April 2006 and have always prided myself in participating the full 24 hours.  With my visual impairment I couldn't compete in number of pages or books finished and I've always had a talent for the 24 and more hours awake so it seemed a natural fit.

This time will probably have to be different for me.  Anyone following the recent events associated with what I call the lifequake that hit me in January will know that I've been under medical care to address my issues with sleep and a mood disorder.  There has been great progress.  I'd even made it nearly a month without a 24 hour day and then a week ago fell off that wagon and into a meltdown that consumed most of this past week.  It turned out to be the disruption in one of my meds at the root of it so it would be an unhealthy choice to disrupt the med schedule for this.

Even for this.  My head knows.  My heart resists.

Add to this, I will be on duty with my Mom all day Saturday, responsible for lunch and dinner and at least some socializing.  For the latter, I can spend some extra time reading aloud from the Mitford series that we have been working through this year at the pace of a chapter or so each evening she is home.

She usually spends the weekends with my brother's family but she is staying home this weekend because she will be staying there Monday thru Wednesday next week while my sister drives me down to Phoenix and comes back with another van load of my stuff, leaving me behind for about ten days to help Ed finish packing up and deep cleaning the trailer in preparation for his vacate date May 15th.

Which adds another level of complexity to this for me.  If I were to stay up the full 24 hours I would have only another 28 or so to recuperate and prepare for the trip.  This could put me at risk for another week of disrupted sleep and mood, leaving me vulnerable to more meltdowns.  Not exactly the healthy choice for the fragile state of our relationship as we continue to climb out of the abyss we had tumbled into.

So I ran all of this past Ed in an email this morning and asked for his honest input and during our Skype session this afternoon he gave it.  Essentially he made most of the above points and then said he would support whatever decision I made.

He understands how important the Dewey Read-a-Thon has been for me and has always supported my participation and believes it is important that I continue to participate but he hopes that I am able to let go of the need to do the full 24 hours.

I tend to have an all or nothing mind set.  I can't imagine not participating.  But I know how hard it would be to quit before it was over.

I didn't make a commitment about the 24hr part but I did commit to zero energy drinks, no extra caffeine beyond my two cups a day and none after 3pm and to getting a solid 8 hour sleep the night before.  Which means if I'm not asleep by 9pm Friday night I can't get up at 5am.  

He was encouraging me to keep my med schedule in place at both ends.  Which would mean between 1am and 2am for the night meds which has me waking up between 9am and 10am.  Which means starting 4 to 5 hours late and quitting 3 to 4 hours early.  *grimace*

I countered with taking them between 11 and 12 Friday night and then between 3 and 4am Sunday.  He countered with 12 and 2.  I'm still dithering.  All scenarios have drawbacks.  Like having to go to sleep before time to take meds and then wake up later to take them.  Kinda silly.  And at the other end of the thon purposely inducing a drowse state while intent on fighting it while committed to no stimulants...

I've been going around and around with this all day.  The only given so far is that I will be participating.  I signed up this evening.

The rest is up in the air.  A lot depends on how the rest of this week goes and where things stand Friday night.  I'm rarely posted for the day by 9pm let alone ready to crawl into bed.  So it would take some planning ahead.  Then too there is a new med in the mix.  The med nurse prescribed a low dose of Ritalin for mornings to see if it has any impact on the frustrating way my brain won't come online for six to ten hours after I wake up if I've slept more than six hours.

That's the single most significant issue that contributes to my tendency to stay awake for upwards of 24 hours or string together weeks of 4 hour nights or chase the clock by staying awake 20 hours and sleeping for 5 or 6.  And so on.  It is also the one thing making staying on the schedule so difficult.  So I'm really hoping this helps.  Will be taking first dose in the morning.

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