blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Most of yesterday was spent attempting to hunt down my primary Breath of Stone file. According to my computer, no copy of the file exists post-October 30, which is... quite incorrect. It isn't the only file missing. Yes, I've done searches. Yes, I've looked here, thither, and yon. I think there's a copy on my most recent Carbonite backup (yesterday!), but -- believe it or not -- Carbonite was completely down. And my email/password isn't working. I can see the file, but cannot retrieve it or check its contents. And so... we wait.

Worst case scenario? I'm missing the two chapters that have taken me longer to write than any other chapter in this novel, the previous novel, and the previous-previous novel. The two chapters that have been the most difficult to make work.
***

Having decided to act as if Carbonite will do all the proper magic, I've nearly worked my way through an entirely different chapter. This is the last "What the hell am I doing, thinking I'm a writer?" chapter challenge. Really, darlings, I cannot tell you just how challenging these chapters have been. I can barely express why. I'm thinking we should run a poll to see if readers of the published novel can accurately guess which chapters were so troublesome.
***

In news that might or might not be related to the above, I enjoyed whisky last night. My karate ladies gave me a special drink glass as a going-away present. It has markings on the side for LOL, OMG, and WTF. Guess how full that glass was, my darlings. Guess how many times.

I'm waiting right now for Carbonite to connect and restore the chosen file. It still isn't connecting. I'll be making phonecalls. Sigh.
***

Once the entire revised Breath of Stone file is recovered, (because we are thinking positively, my darlings!) it'll currently clock in around 98K words. I've at least 70K words of additional material to add to it. This is not a short story. I hope that will make it worth your patience.
***

I'm thinking I just might, maybe, be fixin' to think about probably launching a Patreon by the end of the week. Since all patronage supports all writings, backers will see a combination of self-defense/combat rewards and novel-based rewards. There are pieces of it I think are fun but others might think are silly. I've decided the ones who think I'm silly are not my target patrons. :) And darlings, if I could come up with an appropriate whisky-related reward, I would do so.
***

I read with great sadness the reports from World Fantasy Convention on their handling of accessibility issues. Really, folks. Really. Accessibility is not an add-on. It isn't an option, or a treat, or an extra thing you do if you're feeling generous. When you choose and negotiate with a facility, you include that in the negotiations.

And don't toss out the "It's so expensive!" excuse. It was $800 you say? Great. Charge every attendee an additional $1. Or perhaps cut back on whatever little ding-dongs the hotel says would be nifty to provide. Access isn't optional. (Protip: when you negotiate ahead of time, you don't pay that much. Just sayin'.)

Really, my darlings, considering how dearly some industry folks cuddle and coddle institutional memory, it's rather ghastly that there is no formal way of passing along lessons learned from one con committee to another. My guess is the failure lies in protecting turf above other concerns.
***

Lastly, I'll tell ya that the biggest downside to running a tight schedule and/or having many overlapping responsibilities is the amount of disruption a temporary illness can cause. I'm still digging out from the weeks in October where I had about four productive hours a day (that included time for mundane things like taking a shower), and the following week where I crashed hard after the minimal demands of MileHiCon. Alas, my SFWA duties have suffered the longest simply because they had no deadlines that governed my income or ability to feed others.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I have been blocked by someone on Twitter. Huh! Don't know how long it's been that way. I only saw it today because someone else referenced a great conversation happening on that person's stream. Since it was someone I thought I'd followed, I checked it out and... blocked. Heck, I know I can be ornery sometimes, but I didn't think I was that annoying.

If you haven't seen it already, you can find my review of Hostage by [livejournal.com profile] sartorias and [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija. Books very much worth reading!

Still moving ahead on Breath of Stone. More about the red-ink slaughter I committed within it later.

There is a little illness trying to sink its claws into me. It isn't bad enough to make me miserable, but it does make me slow. I ran enough of a low-grade fever that I didn't teach last night (No one wants Sensei to give them germs!), but I'll be in tonight. Saturday I teach a kata seminar, too.

I keep thinking I'll catch up on conversations around LJ -- there have been some great ones lately! -- but then get caught up in other responsibilities and deadlines. But I'm reading everything, I swear!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Tuesday night, my dojo secretary called to say she'd be in late because police had blocked off her street, big-city media was clogging everyone's driveway, and a helicopter was circling overhead while a forensics team and cadaver-sniffing dogs stood by waiting to excavate a neighbor's yard in an effort to find the body of a woman who'd disappeared years ago.

Yeah, pretty unique excuse for being late.

Well, as of yesterday, that neighbor confessed to strangling that woman (his girlfriend at the time) and burying her in his backyard. For this town of population 18,000--where the majority of the 40-something population went to high school with this guy--it's been quite a shock.

With my women's class last night more than a little thrown by the whole thing, I opted to work with them on what to do if someone is trying to choke you. The short version: don't waste time trying to pry their hands from your neck. Go for the eyeballs first, kick knees or groin next, and if those fail and/or are out of reach, rip off the fucker's pinky finger. Longer version: you'll have to come to class for that.

This is the weekend for editing and nitpicking, which is a good thing. Were this the weekend for spending money, I'd be out of luck. That said, I've just enough my pocket for Dev and I to see Guardians of the Galaxy, and I deeply and truly need to see a badass raccoon today.

And right now, I'm writing this while looking out my living room window--I just washed them inside and out, so it's worth looking out of now--at a stunning blue sky, dark green trees and bright green fields, and there's a touch of white cloud just peeking over the treetops. Really beautiful. I should wash my windows more often.

I suppose I could stretch that into some life-defining metaphor but, really, who has the time for that?
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Other than Dev's so-minor car accident, things have gone well.  Not flash-bang-gee-whiz awesome, but well enough I'm ending the week with a feeling of contentment and relief rather than the usual exhaustion and guilt.

First, I called in a favor at the dojo and had another teacher take all my classes Tuesday so I could have my prime writer-brain time for revisions. I've never done that. I felt guilty for about an hour, then I got over it. The gains in revisions were huge.

The days I did teach were awesome. Sometimes good classes suddenly click, teacher and students all in sync, and that's what it's been.

Remember some time ago, when I mentioned my karate classes had nearly reached a 50/50 female/male ratio? Well, that balance took a bit of a tumble when we moved to the new location. But as of this week, I'm closing in on a 60/40 split. All four new students I signed up in the last two weeks are girls. Next week, I start up my women's only class again, and have five women already signed up to try it out. This pleases me immensely.

(Shihan, who partners with me to teach at my dojo when he can, mentioned the sudden influx of females. I smiled. "Welcome to the matriarchy, sir!")

And the revisions are going swimmingly. The novel doesn't suck. I think it's really holding together--surprising to me, considering how much I thought this story felt like a patchwork quilt assembled by a platypus. I've a third of the novel yet to tweak and two new little scenes to write. My original goal was to finish by midnight. A more realistic goal would be to finish by tomorrow.

Tomorrow night. I've a karate tournament to attend for much of the day. Five of my students are competing. I am not. Both of those facts make me happy.

Sunday will be my entire weekend. I plan to clean house, fill at least three large bags with stuff to donate, and start my seedlings.







blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
On this snowy day, I'm taking a break from Sand of Bone revisions.  My darlings, I know the revision process has gone on far too long--so long that it feels quite irresponsible to take a break of any sort.  But, well... Here we are.

I've been reading and muchly enjoying Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy.  I could go on and on about how much I enjoy the characters and their interactions, or how tickled I am to see the insides of a revolution amidst a realistically convoluted world.  But one of the other things Elliott has done beautifully is measure her characters against the immutability of core morality—but never confuses morality with affiliation.  With our own current political climate utterly polarized by affiliation, it's refreshing to watch characters find their allies, question their choices, and make externally-conflicting-but-internally-consistent decisions that are adjusted based upon new information.  I haven't finished the trilogy yet, and so look forward to reading the last third of the third that I find myself purposefully slowing my reading so I don't reach the end so quickly.

Not too long ago, I finished Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest, recommend by Sherwood Smith.  This, too, deals with revolutions and revolutionaries.  One central character finds the strength she needs to endure and succeed by holding more and more tightly to narrowing set of goals.  The other central character finds her strength though asking tough questions and adjusting her goals and perspectives.  Neither is more right or wrong that the other.  The challenges the characters face, and the settings in which they face them, require wildly different approaches even though their goals are essentially the same.

Between those two novels, I've tried repeatedly to sink into Ancillary Justice.  It isn't that I haven't liked it—I've really been taken by the concepts, in fact—but I haven't found it as compelling in terms of story.  I'll likely return to it after I finish Elliott's trilogy in the hope the story will catch me.

On the nonfiction side, I've been reading The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back.  It's as long and detailed as an epic novel, and I've been very pleased with the data used to back up the claims and proposals, but is too much for me to read and process all in one fell swoop.  Even so, I'm repeatedly struck by how we continuously make programs and policies bigger and more complicated in an attempt to make life simpler and easier.  It's essentially investing millions to teach people to do more with less, rather than investing thousands to ensure there is more to do more with.  Forex, when I was living on a thousand dollars a month, I didn't need an expensive training program to help me land a new job.  I needed six hundred dollars for new tires so I could drive to the job I was already trained to do.  Alas, I qualified for a training program, but there wasn't even a "buy new tires" program to which I could apply.

Next up on nonfiction is How Can You Defend Those People? recommended by Nancy Jane Moore over at Book View Cafe.  The work of criminal defense attorneys fascinates me.  (In fact, when I looked into law school, it was with the goal of working as a defense attorney.)

And now, for a few links:

Hackschooling Makes Me Happy is a TEDx talk from teenager Logan LaPlante.  I love what this kid is saying, and adore the "structure" of his education.  If I had to do it all over again, I'd have homeschooled more fully along those lines.  Really, it wasn't until this year that I completely let go of the curriculum-driven mindset.  Would that I had dumped it two years ago!

Fit and Feminist on the neurosis that has permeated The Biggest Loser.  I can't tell you how many folks I've seen who are so obsessed with the notion of "healthy weight" that they're driving themselves into illness to get it.  An extra ten or twenty pounds is not nearly as unhealthy for a person as a sedentary life or a diet devoid of essential nutrients.  And people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that, if they eat stuff like "healthy" granola and yogurts, they might as well chow down on a candy bar.

Over at Books by Women is an article on coming to writing with a theater background.  I love and can relate to her discussion of using the tools of compelling theater to write compelling fiction.  There is cool stuff there that made me think more about how I use my own theater background.

Lastly, there is The Destructive Power of Publishing.  I've never been one to completely and utterly dismiss all that Big House publishing is and can be, but I think I've made it clear why Big House publishing is not for me.  For more on that, check out Judith Tarr's series on Escaping Stockholm.  This article speaks to those reasons.

I like getting my validation directly from readers.  Every sale is an acceptance letter!

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I seem to be in one of my "Woe, I feel disconnected from everything!" moods, which I seem determined to lengthen by remaining disconnected--able to read, but poorly able to respond in any meaningful way to those who most deserve it. So I'm trying to push myself.

What was supposed to be snow yesterday turned into a mix of extremely cold rain and heavy wet snow. I went outside three times to clean the slush off my car and front walk because I didn't want sheets of solid ice by this morning. Now the wind chill is between -30 and -40, just as predicted days ago. It took the local schools forever to decide that, yes, since the roads are sheets of ice and exposed skin can freeze in ten minutes, maybe there should be no school.

And the wind overnight! Big gusts that went on and on for hours. I kept jerking awake, really concerned we'd lose power (an increasing problem, as folks try to keep their homes warm and overload the grid, or trees fall on power lines). But it was the dreams that left me tired, I think. They all took place in the 100+ year old home I lived in when Dev was a baby, and involved trying to solve the mystery of why the windows kept opening to let the cold in. It was exhausting and creepy and stressful to dream of.

Today's goals: Fix up 2K in the wellness book, finish the capture chapter of Sand, write a wellness blog post, and take care of a little research. I'm too close to the end of Sand to falter now, and I need to have a solid draft of the wellness book in someone's hands by the 15th. Work must be performed!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
First: I am in love with this article by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown. As I mentioned in comments at [livejournal.com profile] sartorias's LJ, a female character cannot be confident, competent, and likeable without being deemed a Mary Sue. (That doesn't even touch upon appearance, which is a whole 'nother target of spite and vitriol.) I remember a beta reader once telling me a character was a Mary Sue because of those three factors. It didn't matter that the character had been show to earn those traits; the three in combination simply Could Not Be Done is the character was to be "realistic."

Think about that for a moment. A character with competence, natural and practiced talents, who was liked because of the way she actually treated others was not realistic. She simply wasn't insecure enough, tormented enough, or outcast enough to be realistic.

That's a fucking sad commentary on what "real women" are supposed to be.

And I should note that the majority of folks I read throwing about the Mary Sue accusation to other writers are women. That's double-fucking sad, in my opinion.

(Yes, I know the original definition of Mary Sue. Alas, linguistic drift has bestowed a slightly different definition now, and that's the one we're stuck with, and I don't deem it interesting, necessary, or productive to insist everyone use the phrase in its "proper" fashion.)

Second: This post by John Wiswell--now a fellow graduate of Viable Paradise--made me cheer first (because hooray! more VP grads!). then made me grumble. I know there is a subset of self-publishers who cannot fathom the worth of critique prior to publication. My suspicion is it's the same subset who would have, in the pre- self-publishing days, written long diatribes to agents and editors in response to rejections.

Me, I see nothing incongruent between attending Viable Paradise and self-publishing. One is for craft and fellowship. One is a business decision. Anyone with shoulder-chips might indeed have good information about their side of the argument, but not the best judgment on which path is best for others.

Third: I have no link for it, but have been following various blog posts and Twitter comments from folks attending WFC in London Brighton. (Thanks for the correction, [livejournal.com profile] green_knight !) From writers who have the "proper" credentials, who should without a doubt be treated to at least the crumbs of common courtesy. And they are not.

That sort of disregard of writers--at what is supposed to be a celebration of such creativity--is a pretty good indication of what value such folks place on the writers' creations. And don't sing the "But they're all volunteers!" song my direction. I've volunteered for numerous non-genre, professional conferences and conventions. I and other volunteers assumed courtesy and professionalism were standard expectations, not something guests received if they caught us a good time and were appropriately humble in their requests.

Fourth: Check out David Gaughran on the tightening of Traditional Publishing/Author Solutions ties. If you're planning to go the traditional publishing route, it's critical you read and understand it. If you're self-publishing, it's equally important. Alas, it's becoming more difficult for new writers to avoid being shuttled into dead-end and horribly expensive self-publishing "services" that are endorsed by the same traditional publishers who sneered at Author Solutions and their ilk just a couple years ago. "I know those other people say Author Solutions is a scam, and is being sued by their past customers," says the new writer in search of validation, "but Big Respected Publisher says they're awesome, so it must okay to give them thousands of dollars!"

And I was certain I had a fifth link, but it has vanished.

(Edited to correct location of WFC.)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Just a general round-up:

1.  Dev and I are both so very relieved and happy to "take back" our homeschooling plans.  Schooling through Indiana University seemed like a good idea, and probably would have been great about five years ago.  Alas, their class work and degree requirements shifted toward "Common Core" at the same time the university cut its staff.  We were left with extremely limited class options (no more ability to take dual credit courses, no more flexibility for degree completion, a mere handful of electives) while paying way too much for what had become, essentially, lessons I had to mostly teach anyway.  Besides, most of the classes were simply classroom-based methods jammed onto the internet.  Online classes must be structured differently to be effective!

After a great deal of research--and confiming of said research with outside sources--I decided to quit fretting over "accredidation" and focus on, y'know, the learning.  An increasing number of colleges and universities are standardizing the process of evaluating homeschooled students for admissions, and we have guidelines now on how to prepare and present a homeschool transcript and portfolio.  We already have our reading lists, textbooks on every subject but biology and chemistry, an excellent math tutor who can't wait to see how far Dev can go, free courses available online through awesome colleges and universities, and a variety of community professionals who have agreed to show Dev different parts of their career and business.  And in August, we begin the homeschool version of Rosetta Stone's Italian.

2. Dev is heading to aviation ground school for high schoolers this summer.  My father has taught at this program for years, and Dev would have attended last were it not for a conflict with karate camp.  (Last year was his tenth year ata karate camp, and he wasn't about to miss that!).  Dev is thrilled, and so am I.  For five whole days, I will have nothing to worry about except my own appointments and classes.  Woohoo!

3.  I'm still coming around, mentally, from the loss of Patricia.  Just a few months ago, when it seemed the cancer had been fought back yet again, she and I were discussing moving in together again in about a year and a half.  I suppose both of us should have known better than to hope for such time, but neither one of mentioned a second thought.  Maybe we both simply needed to believe it.

4.  Related to all of the above, everything related to writing is taking far longer than it should.  It isn't a matter of inspiration or willingness.  It is time.  Effing time.  One of the things I'm doing to address that is cutting my garden size in half.  This is not the year I can spend oodles of time out there during the growing season, or many hours processing the bounty of a large garden at harvest time.

5.  Should the universie be willing and Dev be on his game, he will have his driver's license sometime in the next thirty days.  We'll do the road test likely in the last week of May, and the written test the second week of June.  Dev wants more car than he can afford right now, so we'll likely share a vehicle for awhile.  This won't be an issue over the summer--when he plans to stack up a bunch of hours--though I can't see us going much beyond November without a second vehicle.

6. And the dojo? Still humming along. I'm averaging between five and six new students a month, though that will likely drop to one or two over summer months. We're now gearing up for summer camp, less than two months away. Part of me does wish I could attend as a mere student again. Since I'm running the dojo, running Dev's schooling, running my own publishing, and running my new (in development) wellness project, I'm getting tired of being in charge of something all the time!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
That Man knows me well.  He found this for me for Valentine's Day. I'm loving it, yes I am, and muchly looking forward to our get-togther in Asheville next weekend.

Last night's dreams were totally weird, but oddly connected.  In every one of them, I was traveling.  In one, I was stranded at the airport without a ticket for my return flight and no way to get one.  In another, I was wandering up and down a beach, at night, trying to find my hotel.  In another, I was wandering through a hotel/mall/casino looking for my room.

A bit of that might be because I realized last night that the cruise Dev and I had considered booking back in December was likely the same one that limped into Mobile last night.

Tonight, Dev and I will celebrate a family Valentine's Day by seeing A Good Day To Die Hard. What else would a mother and son who spar together go see? :)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I've been feeling just a tad overwhelmed lately with the bits and pieces of all the projects before me.  Teaching for hours at the dojo? No problem.  Remembering to email three different people about six different things?  Gah.  Why is it I can recall all my clients' names and conditions and such, but only remember to fax a document when I'm sleepless in bed around three in the morn?  Again, gah.

The problem--and it's a good problem, don't get me wrong!--is that many things are growing quickly, and growth demands more bits and pieces.  But I'm not quite to the point with any project that I can justify getting help.  The dojo is getting close.  If growth continues at this rate, I'll have someone in to help by mid-March, I suspect.  On the wellness side, there isn't an opportunity for help because all the current bits and pieces must be done by me, alas.  (I already have someone who books my appointments for me, thank goodness!)  And the writing bits are, of course, all on my shoulders.

And--oh, yes--parenting and tracking the schooling of my teenager who is now exploring post-high school options and driving options and job possibilities and renewed karate involvement and possible guitar lessons.

But for now, I have a single hour during which I can write.  This I shall do.
blairmacg: (Default)
I've been quiet in all my usual haunts.  There is much going on, but little of it is interesting to read about.  The dojo is busy, Dev's schedule is driving me crazy, I'm finishing a proofread, and every hour I spend working on Task X is dogged by thoughts of how many other tasks are yet undone.  If I could take two weeks off from being a mother and dojo manager/instructor, I might be able to catch up on everything else.

On the upside, Dev's godmother will be here in two weeks!

Random observations:
Tossing sarcasm and patronizing comments at those participating in NaNoWriMo is really unattractive, especially when one works in the field.  It's the sort of behavior that made it easier for me to set writing aside some years ago.  At the time, wanting to be published didn't matter nearly so much as wanting to avoid that nastiness.

Flight attendants are obligated to ensure passengers follow rules and regulations.  It's usually the "But I'm Special!" folks who think they shouldn't be required to follow said rules, who then bitch about the flight attendant who tells them the options are to follow the rules or get off the plane.  Flight attendants are first responders while we're in that plane.  They are responsible for a bunch of strangers confined in a small space that cannot be escaped quickly and easily if something goes wrong.  When someone acts like an ass over the little things, the flight attendant is considering how many people could be hurt or killed if--in an emergency (or if you cause an emergency)--your ass-ness escalates.  They have the right to refuse service, because they are responsible for the safety of all the other passengers who aren't being assholes.  Solution?  Try minding your manners.  Works wonders.

I have been craving good Thai food and shawarma, though not necessarily at the same meal.  Alas, achieving either Thai or shawarma would require a commitment of at least three hours for a meal.  I suppose I'll need to wait until I "catch up."

blairmacg: (Default)

Gambit II, our rescue pup, has suddenly expressed interest in images on the television.  When Dev plays Skyrim, the Little Bit is absolutely transfixed.  A few nights ago, a show we were watching showed an injured dog, whining.  Bit jumped up and ran to Ty, who was peacefully sleeping by the couch, and pawed at the old dog until he got up.  I'm not sure of Bit thought Ty was whining, or that Ty should be alerted to the whining dog.

Today I cooked down five gallons of Roma tomatoes into about three gallons of tomato sauce.  Lots of garlic, onions, basil, oregano and bay leaves.  The house smells like an Italian restaurant.  That is a marvelous thing.

The attitude Dev brought home from his summer camps is still going strong, thank goodness.  He helped run our recent belt promotion, and took charge of the class with confidence and smiles.  He is managing his work hours around his school hours.  He is gearing up for the increased karate training that comes before his next test--this one for his adult Shodan.  He's hoping he will be given the title of sensei at that time as well.

Today I realized just how much my life could change if the new dojo location takes off.  In the space of a week, I've gone from running a very small community dojo to being in charge of a larger business launch.  Um...yikes?

Even with the dojo opening, September will be an "easy" month.  The big decisions have been made.  The schedule contains not a single out-of-state trip.  I have only two days of wellness client appointments (and I'm holding to that unless I fill every available slot of those days).  No dog shows, no karate seminars, no workshops or speaking engagements.  Whew!

Diatomaceous earth is awesome.  Last August and September, when the season turned a bit dry, we had a terrible time with ants coming in, searching for water.  And, this being Indiana, there are always crawly insects ready to make their home in yours.  Drought tends to make it worse.  But this year, I put down a barrier of diatomaceous earth all around the house.  No ants.  No beetles.  And I think I spied two spiders over the course of the summer.  Best of all, it isn't a toxic chemical.  It was, as I said, awesome.

Lastly, That Man continues to make me happy.  That should probably be firstly as well.

 

 

Miscellany

Jul. 31st, 2012 01:35 pm
blairmacg: (Default)
I have never so looked forward to the end of summer.  We usually get about an inch of rain per week.  We've had less than an inch, total, since June 15.  We're supposed to have seven or eight days above 90.  We've had five or six days below 90 since June 15. 

It's the heat that's doing in my garden.  Watering produces an overwhelming amount of grass and weeds, while the vegetables drop off before ripening, or never really develop at all.  And my yard?  The grass as moved from the light brown of straw to the dark brown and black of scorched earth.  Most trees are dropping their leaves.  Many bushes look dead.

Dev and I decided to postpone our England-Scotland trip until the spring, when his godmother can go with us.  Because we did so much traveling in the first half of the year, we're not anxious to fill that October slot with much of anything.  We may take a weekend in Chicago or--at most--a trip to someplace like Niagara Falls.  (That would be in addition to my likely solo trip to Charleston to see That Man. :)

I can see half the top of my dining table.  This is progress.  I've managed to limp along this year with almost no business organization--the lack resulting from the fact I haven't a designated office and/or desk space.  Next week is to remedy that.  I still don't have an office space, but do have a Cunning Plan to bypass the lack.  Really, the only reasons I need that sort of work space is to a) process bills, paperwork, and contracts once a week, and b) store all relevant paperwork.  I don't need an office, or even a desk, for that.  But I do need to employ organizational skills and discipline.  Damn it.

I've been having the usual drop-your-shoulders drills and talks with my first-year adult karate students.  All the adults understand they shouldn't tense their shoulders, but it takes awhile for shoulder-relaxation to become more natural than tension.  When they run kata, I go around and tap tense shoulders (touch bypasses language processing, so it speeds learning), and in self-defense, I demonstrate how their tension makes them weaker rather than stronger.  Last night was a combination of frustration and amusement on the issue.  And I know that once they get the shoulder tension under control, we'll have the same learning process with hips and lower back.  Kids don't usually have those issues.  (They instead tend to throw their energy forward and/or down.)

Best news: For the first time ever, Dev has expressed excitement about college.  We spent yesterday morning talking through his plan for finishing high school a year early, then looking at the website for Vincennes University--the campus he was on for law enforcement camp.  He had me request an information packet, and even sent texts to his friends about choosing his goal.  I can't explain just how huge a step this is.  Now the key is to quietly and not-to-enthusiastically support him in that direction.  Too much excitement on my part is the fastest, surest way to make him run the other direction.

Miscellany

Apr. 1st, 2012 01:14 pm
blairmacg: (Default)

1.  I have 100 itsy bitsy seedlings on my dining room table, and another 100 to set today.  With all the warm weather, it's hard to remember the usual planting date for summer crops is still six weeks away.  By then, though, I should have hardy starters to set in the ground.

2.  After the last post, I had a friend ask if my feelings toward self-publishing had changed.  Nope.  Self-publishing has become an awesome option--one I plan to utilize for a mix of projects.  If they don't succeed...oh, well.  They likely wouldn't have succeeded in traditional publishing, either, and it's not as if trying a couple projects will "use up" all my ideas.  It isn't for everyone, and the burden of responsibility is greater when one self-publishes, but there are obviously opportunities there that didn't exist a couple years ago.

No, the last post was merely intended to point out the industry as a whole isn't dying.  It is changing and evolving and, just like smart folks who want to succeed in any field, it behooves us to understand the industry on our own rather than rely upon one-sided interpretations of others.  I read stuff I agree with.  I read stuff I think is bullshit.  I read stuff that's written with tact and stuff that's written with snark.  I read it all because confirmation bias is a very real phenomenon.  It's good to see what facts and angles both sides think worthy of mention.  Doveryai, no proveryai.

3.  A big hang-up on the forward motion with the wellness books was managing citations and such.  Stupid me, I was working from the pattern of paper books.  Academic paper books at that.  After downloading a reviewing the formatting of ebooks on similar topics, I quit worrying.  Pages should proceed with much greater speed now.

4.  In my little dojo, where I now have an almost even number of male and female students, the social limitations and expectations of gender are fading away.  It's pretty danged awesome, and fascinating to realize what subtle and common phrases/actions/beliefs are no longer spoken/practiced.  More on that as I figure it out.

5.  And to all writers--for the love of Pete, there ought to be more in a fantasy character's medicine bag than white willow bark.  Really.  When I see a character use white willow bark in combination with some other made-up assortment of natural remedies, I know the writer either didn't want to bother with looking up specifics, or doesn't know enough to understand there are other specifics.

So I'm putting this out there to y'all: if you need information on herbal medicine and/or healing foods for your characters, ask me.  This gives you the added advantage of discovering which traditional remedies have proven value and which ones don't, knowing what the herb will taste like, what its side effects may be, and what it actually does. 

No, it's not the same as asking a doctor.  Doctors aren't given coursework in the use of supplements and herbs.  Even the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is woefully incomplete at its most basic levels.  I teach classes--sometimes to medical professionals--on this stuff.

(True, most of your readers won't care.  But most readers don't care about whether you get horses, guns, and fight scenes right, either, and I've yet to hear anyone advise a writer to just not worry about it.)

6.  I really wanted to go hiking today.  But it's raining sporadically, and we'd have to drive an awfully long way to find a non-muddy place for us and the dogs.  Maybe it'll just be a Sunday drive kind of day, which would give Dev a couple solid hours behind the wheel.

7.  For the record, nothing here is related to 04/01.  Just sayin'.

blairmacg: (Default)
Yeesh.  For the last two weeks, I've felt as if I'm spinning my wheels and making no progress on anything.

I've felt that way because...it's true.  Many projects need my attention, and they are not always the projects to which I'd like to give my attention.  The result has been so much swinging between what-needs-doing and would-rather-do, very little forward motion was made on anything.  Then I'd feel guilty the required work wasn't any closer to being finished, and frustrated I wasn't any closer to doing what I want to do.  Then I'd avoid all of it by cleaning the baseboards or some such.  Then...

Then I just had enough of it.

My to-do list has been revamped, in detail, to include each step of the process.  What was formally "Finish 'stress' book" is now a twenty-point entry.  I got two of those points finished today, thank goodness.  One of those tasks was to streamline the outline.  This isn't intended to be a definitive look at all aspects, causes, outcomes, impacts, interventions, and opinions, so I need to keep my focus.  I don't have to include everything, address every possible question, and mention every point of research.  And it's those sorts of things that bog me down when I'm putting non-fiction together.

I'm already feeling better, and doing my best to let go of the sense I'm falling behind because I'm not doing everything at once.

And as a friend pointed out, this is a rough time of year.  It was in the late winter/early spring months of 2011 that we came to understand Dev's father's diagnosis, and when we all moved into my parents' home for hospice.  Dev and I are working extra hard to be consciously kind to each other, and to take a little extra time for hugs, playing with puppies, and remembering good things.  Maybe I'll say more about that later.

Miscellany

Mar. 20th, 2012 06:03 pm
blairmacg: (Default)

I think I'm recovered from jet lag, after losing most of the week's productivity to feeling like an oxygen-deprived sloth.  It just takes me forever to get the simplest things done!  So here are the bits and pieces of what's been going on:

I'm down to two personal training clients, for which I am glad.  I like training, but I like other things more, and those other things also pay me better.  My two remaining clients are friends, and they work extremely hard at whatever I throw at them, so I don't mind working with them awhile longer.  Maybe through summer.

Gambit attended his first 4H training session.  After about ten minutes of claws-gouging-cement refusal to cross the dog walk of the agility course, he made it all the way from end to the other.  Then he shivered and belly-crawled across it a second time.  By the fourth time, he was prancing on the narrow board as if he'd been doing it for months.  Just before we left, he got lose from his leash and ran over it and the A-frame just for fun.  Happy dog!

After deciding to expand my garden to 900 sq. ft., I came to my senses and scaled it back down to 500 sq. ft.  I want to see how much I can grow in that space by piggy-backing crops and companion planting.  The goal is high yields with minimal work.  The smaller the space between rows and plants, the less time must be spent making the dirt look neat and bare.

I'm loving more and more being back on a more intensive karate training schedule.  Combining what I've learned of Tai Chi with the body mechanics of Shorin Ryu is improving my movement and speed.  As a bonus, I'm working with an instructor on Pekiti Tirsia Kali as well.  I started this many, many moons ago, and am thrilled to be back at it.

On the teaching-karate side, I've a student who came to me with a high rank in another (somewhat related) style.  The first few months of such a situation are always a tad rocky.  The student is unlearning and relearning some things while remembering and forgetting over things.  The instructor is seperating the student's different techniques from bad techniques and expected frustration from unwanted attitude.  I think this one will work out, once the gentleman settles in.

On the writing front, I've been very frustrated with my broken-up time.  I cannot seem to make much forward progress.  Today, for example, was supposed to be highly productive.  Instead, Dev acted like a seven-year-old, interrupting constantly.  When he was finally focused on his work, the phone rang and the dogs barked and a neighbor just dropped by to say hello and the washing machine made a loud clunking noise and a client emailed with a critical question.  And now I need to get cleaned up and changed for karate class.  Argh.

It doesn't help that I'm under deadline on the writing project I'm not all the keen to work on at the moment.  And what I'd much rather be doing is splitting my time between the Chant sequel and Drunk.

And in other news, it turns out I did not screw up that short story submission in November.  My VP wall story is still under consideration, and it'll be a few more weeks before I hear anything.

blairmacg: (Default)

Thank you, guys, for the get-well wishes. :-)

Better today, overall.  Fever broke early this morning and I can even breathe through my nose.  Other than the fact I feel as if I've been rolled down a rocky mountainside, and that my body thinks it's a couple hours after sunrise instead of a couple hours before sunset, the worst is past.  Victory!

A thin layer of ice still covers the ground.  Watching the dogs skid and clatter over the deck and lawn was pretty entertaining.  Now one is curled up beside me, and the other is watching Dev practice guitar like a cobra studying a charmer.

Revisions shall begin shortly.

blairmacg: (Default)
It's been a scattered sort of week.  For all that I have loved the not-winter, I must admit it feels odd.  It's as if we've been placed in time suspension, where the seasons aren't changing and days aren't turning.  As a result, I've meandered through waking hours, doing what needs doing.  Thank goodness most of my upcoming workshops are already written.

I hit a rough spot with Chant revisions.  Small sections took huge amounts of time, and I'm not even certain why.  But I am putting my head down and plowing ahead at speed now.  I want to wrap up this new set of revisions by the first week of February.  That'll give me a 140K tome to cast out to beta readers. 

Then it'll be on to the Crossroads novel, and perhaps the recreation of a long-lost short story.  Then perhaps feedback-based revisions of Chant, then more Crossroads, then I might rub the tarnish off the three trunked novels I dearly love but haven't known how to fix.  (Now I had some ideas about that.)

It's very nice to be a writer, motivated.

In other news, nearly the entire back of my right hand is a fascinating display of blue and green.  Right after I first struck it--when three of my knuckles had disappeared beneath a rapidly swelling dome--it felt a hell of a lot worse than it looked.  ("Are you okay, sensei?" "Yup! Let's run kata now.")  Today it looks worse than it feels.  But bare-knuckle sparring was fun.

blairmacg: (Default)

On the good news side, I have now completed a full week, including karate training and teaching, without wearing my foot brace--and had only a mild ache after last night's class.  This morning, no ache at all.  After a year and a half, it feels like a normal foot again.

On the blah news side, the do-nothing required to let it finally heal well and proper has left me frustratingly deconditioned.  The right ankle is weak and wobbly, which throws off every form.  My push-ups suck because I've had to do them on my knees.  My sparring is laughable.  The only thing that feels marginally all right is the self-defense because success there is less about step-by-step technique and more about adaptation and improv.

I shall not be training hard for awhile yet.  Three times in the last year, I thought the stress fracture had healed.  Three times, I was wrong.  Taking it easy is what I intend to do.  Little by little, I will get it all back.


Thank goodness I'm under no pressure to test any time soon.  Since I learned so little new material last year, and Shihan knows it, I really won't be expected to step up for Sandan until early 2013.  Suits me just fine. 

In other news, I accidentally washed my little bottle of peppermint oil while it was in the pocket of my jeans, and unknowingly dumped it all in the dryer.  I'm airing out the dryer now.  My entire home smells like candy canes.

And snowballs are now falling.  I knew Indiana would turn on me, sooner or later!


blairmacg: (Default)
So.  After writing what would have been half the needed words for a paper, I ditched it all and created a PowerPoint seminar instead.  Waaaaaay easier, even with the handouts and notes included.  If I ever need to do an introductory workshop on sustainable agriculture, I'm ready.

All other documents are scanned in--letters of reference, work samples, brochures, articles, yadda yadda.  I think all the other pieces are in the right places.  Tomorrow I'll make a call to confirm I've at least performed the logistics of course petitions correctly.  I certainly hope the answer is yes, because I'll only have a few hours to fix anything I've done incorrectly.

Then I submit the portfolio and await judgement.  I've had practice in that part of the process, at least.

I've done very little around the house since Sunday.  It's amazing what one adult, one teenager, and two dogs can do to a place in a matter of days.

Part of me wants to do nothing tomorrow but go to Disneyland.  Or Cabo.  Or London.  Or on a cruise to Australia.  Or even back to the Santa Ynez valley

Yes, I am indulging in escapism.  Yes, it is making me feel better.  Anyone who'd like to join me is free to tag along.

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